Pandora's Star by Peter F Hamilton

Pandora's Star by Peter F Hamilton

Author:Peter F Hamilton [Hamilton, Peter F]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

‘Sir, we’re being signalled,’ Anna called out. ‘Sensors are showing both laser and microwave transmissions directed straight at us. Originating from Alpha Major orbit – the moonlets.’

‘Son of a bitch,’ Wilson grunted. ‘Are you sure? Could they just be aligned on something beyond us?’

‘I don’t think so. There is nothing behind us. All three beams intersect here, and they’re holding constant. We’re definitely the target point.’

Wilson quickly called the signals up on his console screens. Even after the RI’s best filtering they came up as a jumble of sine waves and fractal patterns. ‘Is this the same stuff they transmit to each other?’

‘Yes, sir. It looks like it.’

‘So they might not realize we are aliens?’

‘They must have a good idea we are not native to this star system,’ Tunde said. ‘After all, now the barrier has come down, they’ll be expecting some kind of communication or contact from the species which put it up. They would be watching.’

One of the visual sensors was trained on a laser beam coming from a worldlet around Alpha Major. A single ruby dazzle point that obscured much of the planet’s delicate wrapping of fusion flame. Wilson stared at it with a growing concern that he might just have been underestimating the Dysons. ‘They’ve been looking for us, or at least an alien ship, since the barrier went down?’

‘That would be the logical thing for them to do, yes.’

‘So if they haven’t got hysradar, how the hell did they find us?’

‘Our hyperdrive wormhole creates a great deal of gravitonic shock, and it also has a strong quantum signature. On top of that there will be neutrino emissions from our fusion reactors.’

‘Small ones,’ Antonia said immediately. ‘I’m keeping the fusion systems a couple of per cent above breakeven. The niling d-sinks are our primary power source, but they’re very well shielded.’

‘Captain, this entire planetary system is overflowing with advanced technology,’ Tunde said. ‘And if they really are as conflict-driven as we suspect, they will have a great many sensor systems. I’m really not surprised they have detected us.’

Wilson was drawn back to the main portals, both of them showing an unaugmented visual image of the Watchtower. His initial concern was now turning to real worry. ‘Anna, give me a hysradar sweep. Is there anything out there?’

After a few initial scans of the Watchtower they’d switched off all of their active sensors, keeping all emissions to a minimum in a bid to achieve silent running. It was his choice again to remain inconspicuous; quietly gathering data until they were ready to make contact. A strategy which would allow them the upper hand.

‘Oh shit,’ Anna exclaimed. ‘I make that eight ships heading straight at us.’



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