The optical sensors had no problem processing the images, but Flynn wished they had been wrong. Massive solar flare, estimated by Calypso’s computers as Z5 events, and accompanying solar ejections, streamed towards the inner planets. Each planet had its own such flare and ejection.
Impellus was an orange, main-sequence star, so an event such as this shouldn’t happen to a stable star. And the odds that it would perfectly target each star in the inner system was statistically impossible, which left a very sour taste in Flynn’s mouth.
Flynn looked over the existing data of the inner planets. Two were Martian type planets, though Impellus III had an oxygen rich atmosphere and showed some basic plant life. That wouldn’t be the case after the solar matter hit. The energy in the solar matter would shred through the planet’s magnetosphere, then bombard everything with intense gamma radiation. The entire planet would be rendered lifeless.
“Ann, show me anything artificial in this system.”
Ann, at the helm, grumbled something about that being a stupid idea, but switched the sensors to focus on constructed objects. Right away the sensors recognized four objects within the system, identified as man-made by their shape and materials.
“Jump beacons,” Flynn said.
“Why would someone hide jump beacons in this system?” Ann asked. “It was never colonized. It’s not even a border world between any of the existing nations.”
“There’s a new player,” Flynn said. “Bring us about. Get us back into the wind. If we’re lucky, the beacons will jump before they register us.”
Ann shrugged, working the controls.
“What do you mean a new player, Captain?” Reese asked.
Flynn gave him a sidelong glance, but humored him anyway.
“Plume warheads. This was a message. That’s what the beacons are for. They’ll jump and deliver their recordings of what happened here. Someone is in possession of weapons that can lay waste to entire solar systems. And they’ve just demonstrated they’re not afraid to use them.”