The gas giant hid secrets, long buried, or so they hoped. Tlan Garsh and Yzal Bey, the lead inspectors for the Exalted Gerent, who ruled this miserable portion of the galaxy, had come looking for the one who had betrayed him. They had followed a trail, intermittent and well-disguised, and the evidence had brought them here to this abandoned system, with only this massive gas giant left unharvested for resources by the Gerent’s Marauders.
For months and months, as the Marauders laid waste to the feeble forces of Sborz system, intending to enslave the population and extract what was usable from its planets and habitats, there had been problems. These had been tiny and insignificant, hardly worth reporting to the Exalted Gerent—though a failure to do so would, if discovered, result in a horrible and inventive punishment. The delays to the Marauders ultimate conquest of the system were minimal, but, all the same, however inconsequential the issue, it had to be resolved.
The Exalted Gerent did not countenance betrayal of any sort, and there could be no doubt that this was a betrayal of his mandate. Tlan and Yzal had established that to everyone’s satisfaction. Someone within the ranks of the Marauders, or worse—and this did not really bear thinking about, for the consequences would be dire for anyone even tangentially involved—within the Gerent’s inner circle. This was why Tlan and Yzal had been directed, by the Exalted Gerent himself, to find whoever it was who was daring to defy him and see justice done.
Their ship informed them that the system was empty as they passed out of the portal, the only remnant of the worlds that had once existed here. This was to be expected and neither one paid it any mind. Tlan directed the vessel toward the gas giant, the coordinates of which had been broadcast from ships within the Marauder fleet on each occasion when the double agent had sent information to their enemies. The coordinates, they had discovered, contained information packets, cleverly concealed, that revealed the position of the Marauder fleet, it’s planned movements, and its numbers, among other things.
The ship ran any number of scans of the gas giant and sent in a few probes. All revealed the same thing: this was gas giant, like any other gas giant. There was nothing remarkable about it.
Tlan looked at Yzal with a wordless question: What now?
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