Beyond the Eye of Chaos: Part 3
After much effort in figuring out how to do so, the Valkyries enter the supposed alien city they have been led to in the north of the planet they are stranded on. Failing to learn much from the city's still-operational but intransigent technology, they begin to contemplate their fate and consider possibly just settling down in the city and living out the remainder of their lives here. Dominic is vehemently against that idea, and continues to advocate for setting themselves up as gods among the friendlier locals instead of quietly sitting here for decades until they die, but he is consistently shot down by the rest of the crew who do not want to tamper with local affairs. Eventually Amitabha establishes communication with the artificial intelligence that controls the entire place, which has been quietly observing them until it could learn their language and intentions. (More details).
She learns that the city is in fact an enormous starship, built by the same aliens who geo-engineered the planet and built the technology, now controlled by one of the primitive other species here, that shot down their ship. But those aliens, called the Asiron, as well as all of the other more primitives species here, were in turn created by the another race alien to that world, called the Ehrban, specifically by one of them named Keius Meij. The Asiron considered themselves the "children" of Keius, and their AI recognizes humans as the "adopted children" of him too; more than that, it recognizes the symbol on their uniforms as his personal symbol. Dom feels vindicated that he was right that there is something much deeper than any of them know going on here, that the mere centuries-old Foundation has some kind of connection to ancient aliens from who knows how many thousands of years ago. But more to the point at hand, the Asiron AI knows of the planet that humans are from, and wishes to protect both humanity and Earth per Keius' will, so it offers to take the Valkyries home. They gladly accept, and the enormous ship lifts off of the planet and heads toward the wormhole in the outer reaches. (More details).
Reaching the wormhole again, the Valkyries attempt to communicate through the ansible link in the wormhole with the Foundation at Sol, redacting their earlier report of threats with an updated mission report. But the Foundation is not willing to allow a powerful alien ship run by an unvetted artificial intelligence access to Sol, so they refuse to reopen the wormhole. When Captain Ayar says that they will just have to come the long way instead, the Foundation insists that they must not. The Foundation suggest that, if possible, the Valkyries can arrange to mind-upload back into Virtuality through the ansible link, the same as they downloaded through it to their ship in the first place, there to live out the rest of their lives; but in any case they are forbidden from leading aliens back to Sol. Dom is of course the first to call bullshit on that plan, but this time, the rest of the crew begrudgingly agree with him. The Foundation orders Amitabha to take whatever means necessary to prevent the alien ship from reaching Earth, but at the Valkyries' request the Asiron AI is able to incapacitate Amitabha while preserving her mind intact. Then, even knowing that they are likely to receive an unfriendly welcome when they finally arrive, they head back for home the long way. (More details).