The Lords of Creation have learned that although they rule the solar system with their god-like scientific knowledge, there are even more powerful forces to be feared lurking out in the dark depths of space.
The vampiric necroforms are a massive empire of anti-life, terrible beyond all imagining, ruling a vast network of dead stars and planets they have drained of all life. And at last they have come to the Nine Worlds, seeking to destroy the last refuge of living things to be found in all the dying universe. But how can the Lords of Creation even hope to stop the nightmarish undead monstrosities when they are bitterly divided by pride, jealousy, and mutual suspicion?
SUPERLUMINARY is the latest and most outrageous creation of science fiction grandmaster John C. Wright, the Dragon-award winning author of THE UNWITHERING REALM, THE GOLDEN AGE, MOTH & COBWEB, and AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND. THE SPACE VAMPIRES is the second book in the series.
Aeneas did not recognize any of the constellations. The analytical screen, however, was able to match the spectrographic fingerprints of certain brighter stars in the view: Betelgeuse, Sirius, Vega. The stars Rasalhauge and Kornephoros were brighter than when seen from Earth. The three stars of Orion’s belt, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, were a shallow triangle rather than a line.
But the spectrograph for double stars of this system was not in any almanac. It should have been a star visible from Earth, with it characteristics known and recorded. It was not.
“We are within thirty-five to fifty lightyears of Sol,” Aeneas announced after scrutinizing the astronomical data for some time. “The bad news is that I do not have an exact location. This spectrographic fingerprints for these two stars appear in no almanac. The worse news is that I cannot return us to Sol with this equipment. It is roughly three or five times outside my operational range.”
Lady Luna had prevailed upon servant mechanisms to provide her a chair, not to mention a small luncheon of fruit, salad, venison, and red wine. She sipped the wine from a diamond cup.
Lord Pluto neither moved nor spoke, and may have turned off his own nervous system, since he stood without fidgeting.
Luna said, “By ‘this equipment’ you mean the warpcore it took a highly advanced technological civilization inhabiting every world and moon of the Solar System over a year of intense effort to prepare, right? So all we have to is, what? Find a civilization roughly three to five times more advanced than the Empire of Man? What is the good news?”
Aeneas said, “We are smack in the middle of a binary system whose suns are roughly the same size. A subgiant yellow sun twice as big as and six times brighter than Sol; its companion is an orange-red main sequence star a hair smaller than Sol and half as bright. Because of this, the gravitation barycenter is not underneath the surface of a sun, but nicely placed about seven AU’s from either star.”
Seven astronomical units was smaller than Saturn’s distance from Sol, but larger than Jupiter’s.
“It might be a trinary system, because that subgiant star is occluding our view of another star-sized gravity source beyond it.”
“Why is that good news?”
Aeneas answered, “Because I just found out that this kind of longrange jump lands you in the center of gravity of the target solar system. If this had been a single star system like Sol, we’d have unwarped out of folded space directly into in the middle of a sun. Since about half the star systems in the galaxy are single-star, we just took a fifty-fifty life-or-death gamble without knowing the stakes or the odds. Lucky us. We won the coin toss. Lord Pluto, who the hell were those people, those things, we just ran from?”
Lord Pluto tilted the lens of his blank helmet toward Aeneas. “I have no idea. How would I know?”
“You knew they were enemies!”
Lord Pluto said, “Naturally, we arrived in the Alpha Centauri system with you and knew no more about life outside our solar system than you. The only difference is that my instruments detected the levels of death-energy filling the entire volume of the star system, so I knew no organic life was present, whereas Lady Luna was aware that all the minds of the system were interlinked and formed one uninterrupted mass subconscious mind… the content and character of that mind you saw yourself.”
Aeneas said, “And you didn’t warn me?”
“As soon as it became clear your activities might attract their attention, I made myself visible to you. Since we parted on doubtful terms, I thought it best to prove my good intentions by waiting until you found yourself in need.”
“Your hesitation almost destroyed us.”
“Because I did not understand the implications of your technology. I did not know your gravity differential turbine could be detected outside my negative information range. Our family system of not sharing the stratonic sciences has proven insufficient.”
Aeneas said, “And somehow you knew they would attack without warning. How?”
It was Lady Luna who answered. “Other predator species suffer a die-back if they over-consume their prey, or outgrow their food source. Not vampires. As long as there is any organic life-energy to consume, they have no need not to multiply. The Alpha Centauri system civilization must have consumed all local life millennia ago. And been suffering agonies of starvation since then.”
“Why did they look like people? Human biology is so exactly adapted to the environment of Earth, we could not possibly have evolved anywhere else.”
Lord Pluto said, “Lady Luna peopled the Moon with humans and other primates, as well as hounds and harts and various game animals. The relation of species in that case was a product of engineering, not evolution.”
“Are you saying Earth was created artificially?”
“Perhaps only the Cenozoic ecology is artificial, once the Cretaceous Extinction cleared dinosaurs out of the way.”
Luna said, “If Earthlife is designed, the Forerunners do not look like us: we look like them.”
Aeneas said, “Were those the Forerunners?”
Lady Luna said, “Unlikely. Subconscious minds like those we saw are incapable of speculation or imagination.”
“They have warptech.”
Lady Luna said, “And their dreamtech network was bigger than anything I could dream up. But wherever they got it, they did not invent it.”