Traversal: Message in a Bottle
The silence afterward was nearly as deafening as the onslaught before it. Harking gave his crew a ten-count to check their stations. He was about to demand an update when all ship functions momentarily died and came back to life. He heard muttered curses by his officers as stations rebooted.
“Sir!” the comm officer called. “We’re being hailed!” Harking heard the surprise in his voice — and the relief. He sympathized.
“Acknowledge, and patch it through,” Harking replied.
Before Comm could comply, a voice, bearing the unmistakably synthetic sound of universal translation, reverberated throughout the ship.
“HUMAN VESSEL, BE ADVISED THAT THE SPACE BEYOND THIS JUMP POINT IS UNSAFE. THE SPECIES YOU KNOW AS THE ABATTOIR HAVE BLOCKADED ALL EXITS FROM THIS SUBSPACE ROUTE. YOU MUST USE ANOTHER JUMP POINT.”
Harking swore. The Abattoir. Slaughterers and consumers of flesh. Their presence, so bold in number, held terrible implications. Falling into their bloody hands was death, certain as slitting their own throats.