Executive Jarik reviewed the data once more, as though checking to see that what he had just read was just as he understood it. His chin lifted as he put the data padd down on the desk, and he reclined to look at Manager Kallin. "It would seem the loss of the expedition was not in vain then?"

"Indeed not," Kallin nodded gravely. There was a glimmer of resolve in his eyes. Jarik knew from simply watching Kallin's tightly-bound hands and rigid gait that it was only his awareness of polite sensibility that stopped the senior researcher from expressing his excitement. Several scientific experts had, after all, just perished in a costly expedition that was still the subject of debate amongst the board of directors.

Still, Jarik conceded to himself, the combination of stellar drift data sets they had obtained from the Progenitor research stations, and then this newer, unknown facility – courtesy of the late Supervisor Karish – had given the project a very real and very significant advancement. The implications seemed straight forward.

Without the ability to accurately predict stellar drift, the Far Sight weapon had been limited to use against target systems that the Union had first-hand coordinates for. Though Jarik was loathe to admit it, the fact remained that the Union's database of accurate star charts was extremely limited – having barely explored a fraction of the Futara Mundi. That was about to change.

"How long before your teams complete the new drift algorithm, and when will the new star charts be available for targeting telemetry?"

Now Researcher Kallin hesitated. That too, Jarik had expected. He imagined that Kallin would like the next part even less. Slowly, the researcher spoke. "We will need time to test the targeting formula before we are ready to approve field tests. Perhaps thirty cycles. No less."

Jarik lifted the heavy tumbler and sipped his drink. "You have five cycles." 

Kallin baulked. "Not possible. We need time. If our formula is flawed, we cannot account for what may happen. Not as long as my people are being forced to work with simulations and scale modelling." 

"Then you require access to the weapon," surmised Jarik.

"Yes," nodded Kallin directly. "Unrestricted, inclusive of the targeting database. Perhaps we can complete the work in fifteen cycles given that allowance." 

Jarik stood from his chair and walked to the window, overlooking the bustling planet that was rising over the moon's terminator. "In five days, Kallin, the Director will arrive at this facility to oversee a demonstration of the new targeting system. I have given him my personal assurances that your work in the last month has more than justified the patience of the Board." He turned, smiling broadly. "You're to be commended, Manager. If the new map database works as well as your figures indicate, then finally, a united Futara Mundi will be within our grasp. The Union shall be in your debt, and I imagine your future shall be as bright as the stars themselves."

Though the doubt in his eyes was plain to see, Manager Kallin willed himself to stand a little taller. "Six cycles, Executive. If I can have six days… then I can promise you, and the Board, a complete systems test and firing demonstration, and I will oversee it personally."

Jarik's face softened at that, hearing the acceptance at last. He looked at his old friend and nodded approvingly. "…Very well. Six cycles."

"Unity and Strength, Executive," Kallin bowed slightly.

"Unity and Strength."