the smuggler’s bible

Hollyhock

The stars shine and twinkle deep within the spreading branches of the tree of night. Hollyhock stands at the bulkhead viewport and watches, lost in thought. A door hisses open. Behind her, a technician coughs politely.

“Apologies. We’ve received a transmission.”

“From Earth? Luna?”

“No, ma’am. Point of origin is within the anomaly. It’s coming from inside the Christmasseract.”

Hollyhock turns slowly. “Forty years and he finally has something to say. Encryption?”

“None. The same message repeating in eight different languages. It’s a list of names.”

“Cross-reference them immediately against all databases.”

The tech hesitates. “Ma’am,” he says, “they’re ours.”