The bridge of the Farsight was largely empty apart from two figures, staring out at the stars.

Rembrandt, the pilot, glanced up. “Something on your mind? You look like you’re about to cry.”

“I’m… nervous.” Kye said, after a moment.


“Olesia is his homeworld, Kye. He has ties running back there decades before you were even born. He’ll be fine.”

The Prince sighed, running a palm through their hair, before nodding, once. The Farsight was currently cruising on sublight until it was far enough from Olesia to jump – which, due to the world’s lower mass than Carrigan, wasn’t very far at all.

As the ship’s pilot, Rembrandt got a more intimate view of the Prince than the guards did – and right now, they were terrified. Ulyn Variss was practically the thing holding their world together after the Exile, but he was a tough bastard – he’d be fine.

“So where are we headed next?” Kye suddenly asked, changing the topic.

“The wake we captured in the Heart was a directional one,” Rembrandt began, swiping their screen upwards so the contents resolved in midair from the mesh. A star map, highlighted with an estimated path based on systems in the direction the wake faced.

“Three systems of interest within a 90% margin, one of which could be marked off immediately as being openly hostile to the Directorate – that’s Avan, by the way, we’re not welcome there either – so that leaves… these two. Gyra, and Banne.”

Kye thought back to what they knew of the Eventide League. Gyra they knew nearly nothing of, but Banne was a name they recognized. 

“That’s the breadbasket, right? My father preferred Banne imports to all others in the League.”

“Bingo. Gyra’s a backwater industrial system, but Banne is a vital food production center… and a tempting target.”

They shared a glance.

“Get us underway as soon as you’re clear,” The Prince affirmed, hoping the sinking feeling in their stomach wasn’t a portent. “I want to be there as soon as possible.”

“Aye, Captain. Spinning up the drive.”

The journey of sixty lightyears took nearly a day and a half, but soon enough Kye was once more on the bridge of the Farsight, peering out into the pale nothing that was the Tides.

“Transition in five… four… three…”

The crew braced as the ship shuddered – and the void parted. A moon filled their view, airless and dead.

“… Rembrandt, this isn’t Banne.”

“…There’s no way we drifted that far,” The pilot began, checking their instruments – and shouting in alarm as multiple contacts began to fill in on the sensor map. A veritable fleet was on the far side of the world, escorting… something.

Killing the active systems and keeping the bare minimums alive, the Farsight began to drift – the quiet ambience of the ship the only sound as the strange vessels prowled about in the far distance.

“Can we get closer to Banne with maneuvering thrust? I want to see what’s going on down there.” Kye asked, eyes on the screen.

“Plotting a course now. Shouldn’t take too long.”

The ship shuddered as the control thrusters began to fire, shifting their ragged orbit into one carrying the vessel across the far side of the moon.

The sun rose as the vessel drifted, and instantly Kye’s stomach dropped. Where warm sunlight once shone, cold, sterile light remained. They didn’t need to get closer to know what had happened.

The vessel’s orbit took it closer. The strange ships were leaving, now – jumping away, their job complete. Banne rose in the forward observation window, and the crew collectively gasped.

Gone was the world of verdant greens and blue seas. Where once crop fields and agricultural arcologies coated the world from pole to pole, now only barren ice remained – feet of water vapor and particulates, an atmosphere flash-frozen. Cities preserved as if in amber.

A world, dead.

“This…” Kye began, but found they couldn’t quite manage the words. The rings in the Heart had been horrific, but there’d been no hard numbers, no expedition. Banne was a world of billions.

“Captain, huge signature. It’s making for the jump line.”

Kye found their composure. “Show me.”

It was… monstrous.

Kilometers long, the dark shape glided across the void away from the frozen sun, black effervescence still leaking from it like ichor from a wound. Reality recoiled from it, as if spacetime itself had been wounded by the use.

With the flash of a transit, the behemoth was gone – and the system’s map was empty.

“Give me readings on that… thing. On Banne. The star. I want every piece of information you can find me, and I want it now.

The bridge crew sprung into action as Kye crossed the room, placing a palm against the window. An expanse of ice stretched to the sloping curve of the planet’s horizon. How many had seen it coming? Had the star’s death been instant?

“…I’m getting a signal?”

Kye blinked.

“From the ship?”

“From the surface. Weak, but it’s there.”

The planet loomed below, silent.

“Patch it through.”

“Aye, Captain. Audio only.”

“—k, sta– your —nce!” The broadcast was choppy and awash with static. Clearly the antenna array it was traveling through had issues.

Kye glanced over, receiving only a shrug from the comms officer. The officer tapped a few things, before nodding.

“This is the League vessel Farsight, responding to your broadcast. Are you in need of assistance?”

The reply was static.

“I am going down there.” The Prince said simply, more command than query. 

“You cannot be serious. What if it’s a trap?”

“A trap left behind on a dead world when the ships could have done the work easier in half the time?”

“…I’ll admit, that is a fair point.”

Kye offered little else, turning and heading off.

Banne was… dead.

A wasteland of frigid ice and bare ruin stretched in every direction as the pinnace set down. Joined by a trio of guards, Kye ventured forth into the flash-frozen landscape, their suit helpfully notifying them the surface temperature was nearly absolute zero.

“Comms quiet,” one of the guards muttered, flipping through the bands. “Just the beacon signal. About four hundred meters that way, and down.”

He pointed, singling out a shelter half-buried in ice. It looked surprisingly airtight, a blessing.

“I want that airlock open.” Kye said suddenly. “Get whoever is in there aboard the pinnace, I don’t care how.

It turned out, as contact was established, to be a small gathering of colonial militia and civilians – around a hundred strong, survivors of the cataclysmic event that had struck Banne. Luckily, they possessed a number of exposure suits – and soon enough the first loads of rescues were being ferried into orbit.

Kye, though, had a different interest.

“Tell me of the ship,” They were saying, speaking to the captain of the guard, Anton Hull. “Did they land here? Who were they?”

“I know little of their actions, Lord Celan,” The guard sighed, salt and pepper hair falling over his face. “I was simply warned by the orbital command office that strange vessels had slipped in beneath the command and control altitude and began destroying communication satellites. Next thing we knew that behemoth had hit Banne, and there was little we could do but grab who we could.”

“Did you see it fire? What happened?”

“It blackened the sky. It was hard to… to observe. Difficult to explain.”

“Please attempt to do so, for our sake. We intend to stop it.”

“Stop it? Are you mad?”

“Quite. But that’s beside the point.”

The guard sighed. “It reminded me of a transition point, only… larger. If I’d have to wager, it’s pulling on the Tides – but I’m no scientist, and my opinion’s as good as dust, there.”

Kye nodded, as if placated. “I see. Thank you for the information, and I personally assure you your people will be welcomed aboard my vessel.”

With that, they bowed, and turned away.

Their thoughts were whirling. A weapon that drew upon the Tides for energy? The star’s readings had more or less revealed it was a resonance weapon of some description, and now they had the source of the energy used – but… how? A relic from the Collaborate? Older?

Who were the mysterious escorts? 

The thoughts followed them back to their ship, and further still – even as the Reforged Guard scattered across the Eventide League, seeking repaid favors and interested parties, Kye sat in their study, watching the stars.

They felt as if they had half of the puzzle – this was clearly tied to the Director, somehow. But how?

It stayed with them into the night, just out of reach.