During the return flight, Irena joined Caroline and Isamura in the shuttle’s cockpit.
“I’m afraid that we have a security breach,” she said quietly.
“Why do you say that?” Caroline asked.
“It is unlikely that Talestra could have anticipated your plans to retrieve an energy crystal or your timetable for arriving here, unless she had an accomplice.”
“I disagree,” Isamura commented, glancing backwards. “She was a servant of the Siphen, they alone could have guided her actions.”
“I’m afraid that your understanding of their capabilities is limited,” Irena replied. “They require servants to perceive and interact with our reality. In my experience, not all of their servants realise that they are being used as such.”
Caroline blew out a frustrated sigh. “Can’t you be more specific than that?”
“I suspect that one of your crew is a telepath. It may even be someone aboard this shuttle. In any event, their ability to sense and project thoughts can be subverted and used by the Siphen.”
“What do you want me to do, land the shuttle and test everyone now?”
“Until we determine the source of the security breach, our mission is in great danger,” Irena concluded.
“Irena, you do realise that by concealing yourself and information vital to the mission, you may very well have contributed to that danger?”
“I acted in your best interests. I would have been an unnecessary distraction.”
Isamura cut into the argument, which was becoming heated. “Perhaps in future, such assumptions can be avoided with a discussion.”
“Right,” Caroline agreed.
“Caroline. My apologies,” Irena relented. “I do think we need to resolve this issue before proceeding further, but I will defer to your judgement.”
Caroline decided that before she committed to a course of action, she needed all the facts. “Let’s assume that you’re right. How do we stop the Siphen from using someone in that way?”
“A neural transceiver like yours, Caroline. I think Doctor MacNeil could repurpose it to create a mental security shield.”
“I hope so.”
“I have confidence in her abilities.”
“Then we’ll start screening for this telepath when we get back,” Caroline stated.