Description- Free from the clutches of the Centurians, the Princess and her companions seek aid from TALOs and its robot armies.
"You know why they're called TALOS? It stands for The Alliance of Lambda Omicron Systems. That's what their part of space used to be called. But you know why else they picked that name? Because there used to be this big bronze robot called Talos, back on Earth. That was a long time ago... A hundred years, or something. Maybe two hundred. And TALOS make robots. Did I tell you that TALOS made my mech? I'm going to get them to make me a new one, with rockets and stuff."
You sigh, and wonder when Talia will wake up and take her shift in the flight cabin. Telemachus never seems to sleep. Instead he spends every moment in the co-pilot's seat, either babbling in excitement or staring out of the window with a fascinated look on his face. The last time he left his homeworld, he was too young to remember it. Simply being in space thrills him.
He keeps talking, and for a moment you consider telling him to shut up. Don't you deserve a little peace and quiet? But then you think of him hugging his father, perhaps for the last time. It won't kill you to hear him talk.
As if fate wishes to reward you for your decision, Telemachus finally falls silent. You begin to entertain the hope that he might head to the sleeping quarters at long last. But then, after a few minutes of blessed quiet, he speaks again.
"Why were you in prison?"
"I heard the Princess talking to Talia. She said she broke you out of prison."
Angry words are on the tip of your tongue. He has no right to ask you such a question. What business of his is it? But the urge to explain, to justify yourself as you would have done in front of the court on Sian, is overwhelming. And before you know it, you're telling him.
The images, never far away, rush across your mind once more.
Centurian ships appear on the scanners, flying on a trajectory which will take them close to the Child of Heaven. You lead your fighter wing out into space in accordance with protocol, to form an escort and defend the cruiser against any potential threat.
In front of you, on your ship's computer, you see a distorted energy signature coming from one of the Centurian vessels. It looks almost like that of a weapon system being powered up... You try to open a communications channel, to demand an explanation. But the request is ignored.
The Centurian ships are close, almost within striking distance of the cruiser. The energy signature continues to pulse before you, a jumbled mess on the scanner -- unclear, indistinct. Some kind of scrambler, to conceal a planned attack until the last moment? Your duty is to protect the cruiser, to protect Princess Illaria. You have to act. So you fire... and give the Centurian Collective exactly what they wanted.
One ship explodes in space, and the political tapestry of human space shifts. The Centurians have their grievance, something they can parade before the rest of the Union of Human Worlds, a political weapon to use against the Sian Empire. Something to justify a war.
There's a stretch of silence as you finish the tale. You look over at Telemachus, and see that he's fallen asleep. Drool trickles from the corner of his mouth. In spite of the thoughts which weigh upon your mind, you smile. Then you turn back to the window, and watch the blackness rushing by.