Before leaving the hold, you take a minute to check the station manifest. As you suspect, there’s no record of whatever the miscreants had stored on the shelving there. They must have been awfully confident it wasn’t going to get discovered. Did that mean they’d bribed the staff overseeing the hold? Another lead to follow up when you had time.
You walk out of the hold. The pain in your ribs is no more than a dull ache now, and with every step you feel stronger, more steady.
There’s an access console twenty meters from the doors of the cargo hold. Vines frame the dim alcove, and there’s a small red glowlight near the back.
No time to waste; you plant your hands on either side of the lectern and say, “I need to talk with you. Now.” Maybe not the best tone to take with a brain the size of a city bus, but your patience is running short. Getting shot tends to have that effect.
The mind must have been expecting you. The fractal flower flickers into existence, and then it morphs into a crystalline structure that is vaguely familiar. Something from your briefings . . . ?
“Speak your truth, scenting one.”
As with Rohyamar, you explain what happened in the hold—although you’re sure the mind already knows—and say, “Do you know who they are? Do you know where they went?”
The entirety of Unity seems to sigh around you, and the vines rustle in an imaginary wind. Then, “Seek you in the hidden places, the unfinished places. That which is unseen is unknown. Scenting find, and finding cleanse. If you cannot scent, then we shall move with furious intent.” And the vines and their leaves shake in what seems like an ominous manner.
More riddles. Great. “Can’t you be more specific?” you ask. “Please.”
The crystalline image fades into nothingness, leaving you staring at the bark-covered back of the alcove.
Fine then. You’ll go. Seek you in the hidden places, the unfinished places. . . . The meaning seems fairly clear. Large portions of Unity are still bare and empty, still growing into their final form. You suppose it’s possible that the station mind doesn’t keep an eye on most of those spaces, seeing as how they’re supposed to be uninhabited.