Chris and Hepzibah are spending some time alone in their ship’s center garden section. Hepzibah complains that she never saw the need for this place as it only is a waste of valuable ressouce, but her lover tells her to stop. She might maent about his leadership or that they are drifting helplessly in space after the recent fight, but the garden is special to him as he wanted to have something good with him. Hepzibah points out that the Shi’Ar will soon check out the nebulae they are hiding in, the fight must have been noticed. The couple decides to check on their damaged engines.
Meanwhile Ch’od, Raza and Keeyah are making repairs on the bridge. Keeyah lists what equipment they have stored, he comes up with chaff, mirror throwers and a few self-powered missiles. Ch’od asks what these mirror throwers actually are; he recognized them sometimes on the inventory, but actually never bothered to familiarize with them. Keeyah explains that they are from his culture on Standing Still, where decoy technologies where invented very early. He explains that the mirror thrower is an adpted chaff pod, full of little bits of metal to confuse scanners, a weak forcefield generator and a holo-projector. While the forcefield takes a preprogrammed shape, the projector paints a picture over it. To illustrate Keeyah launches one of the pods and the illusion of a second Starjammer ship appears, that would fool any longrange scanners to be a real ship. Looking outside Ch’od is amazed, also he recognizes the debris from the destroyed Uncreated vessel floating around.
In Chandilar orbit Lilandra just held an inspiring speech in friont of the military. Her peace minister T’Cahr arranged the stage visit, and she aggreed to do it, also she is not comfortable with fueling the soldiers eagerness to go into battle. Suddenly he receives a transmission about the Starjammers. Hearing the name of the team she had been with Lilandra’s curiosity is aroused. She asks T’cahr what the matter with the Starjammers is, but T’Cahr avoid answering. He in turn asks why the Shi’Ar Empress should be concerned about the fate of a known team of dissidents, or if she would be unpleased by seeing them on death order ?
Captain Summers and Hepzibah have checked their engines and initialized self repair. In ten minutes they will either have shunt drive (faster than light travel), or another error message. Hepzibah enjoys the adrenaline rise she gets from, the situation. Every minute could be their last and they are “fighting birdies“ side by side. She never felt that working with Lilandra was right, in her opinion Shi’Ar are guilty and the Starjammers need to fight them wehrever they can; that is why she wants Chris to stay Corsair. But Summers is unsure of his life as a space pirate. On earth his son Cyclops just got married and has not seen him since. He simply wants to move on and trust Lilandra to get things in order. What use are they anyway; they are re-settling Kree refugees, but these aliens were no batter than the Shi’Ar themselves, they only did loose the war and are now the defeated. Hepzibah points out that this is what they have done for the past decades, it is what they are good at, but Summers replies that it might be time to learn to be good at something else. He wants to stop being a pirate and he wants her to join him.
Meanwhile the others have taken some of the Uncreated vessel’s debris aboard and examine it. Ch’od recognizes one module to be an information storage medium. Upon Keeyah’s request how Ch’od is clever, the Timorian explains that he stems from a race of scientist philosophers. However when the Shi’Ar “married“ their culture they were forced into serving as mercenaries because of their physical attributes. Ch’od opposed his commanding Shi’Ar officer, when was ordered to burn doen a village composed of women and children and was sent to the slave pits on Chandilar where he met the other Starjammers. While talking, Ch’od has attached the module to some of the ship’s scanner and sensors and is able to decipher the stoired data, right as Chris and Hepzibah return to teh bridge. The pod is a combination of the Uncreated’s log-book, a political tool and a bible. Ch’od calls up an image of the Uncreated and also discovers that they have been tracking Phalanx movement towards the spiral arm of the galaxy, where earth is located.
Right now the ship’s repairs are finshed and the power is back on the bridge. Keeyah read that the shields and forcefields are back online, however there is a glitch in the engines system. The shunt drive thinks itself to be a failsafe and will only kick in when the normal drive is in safety problems – the Starjammers are still without faster than light travel. Sadly Raza’s sensor console shows that Shi’Ar scanners have picked up their location and battle ships are closing in. Captain Summers rem,ebers that Hepzibah sais that the guns energies signature released heat which made the nebulae gasses glow. Chris continues with his plan and aks if the have enough firepower to make the gasses more than glow, namely expand very fast and Hepzibah confirms that a couple of high-yield disruption bombs linked to one timer should do the trick. The plan is set. Corsair orders Ch’od to construct a forcefield cone attached to the back of the ship, and Keeyah has to start the system drive engine. He then commands Hepzibah to launch the bombs, but she hesitates as the Shi’Ar ships “aren’t close enough yet“. Summers had no intention of killing the Shi’Ar, but Hepzibah waits with launching the bombs till they are in firing range. The Boms explode and the nebulae gasses get superheated by the explosion and expand. The forcefield cone aattached to the Starjammer ship, protects it from the heat and lets the ship ride the explosion shockwave. Soon their speed exceeds the system drive capabilities and the shunt drive kicks in. The Starjammers have faster than light travel again and return to ther base on Standing Still.
At Helek’s house Ch’od performs a closer examination of the Uncreated storage unit. He uncovers from the data that the Uncreated are a slave race, who knew to have been created by their god. Yet they were not capable of the concept of faith, which led to a species-wide inferiority complex. Finally the Uncreated hunted their god down and killed it. Their purpose now is to do the same to any other religios culture, as they think praying to a god to be a dangerously backward behaviour. So the Uncreated are actually not religious fundamentalists like the Shi’Ar believe, but the most violent atheists ever. Ch’od points out that the Starjammers alone now have information that might change the outcome of the confrontation between Shi’Ar and Uncreated. The question is, should they use it or not ?