And, on schedule, is Chapter Thirteen.
In this chapter, we finally get to see one of the Erani homeworlds. The Solaria surface, in and of itself, is 98% desert, but has a very sound ecosystem underneath said surface. The idea of advanced life thriving in places normally deemed inhospitable was a concept that amused me from the time I first heard of the theory that life could exist under the ice shelf of Europa. Solaria allowed me to explore that concept to my fullest.
We also see the first tangible presence of one of central plot point of the series, a Gate to Bannor; or more specifically what is left of one after Bryan Honore, Julius Feroz, and their strike force managed to neutralize it. This is a story that will be told in full in a later book.
They are meant to be largely unknown things, even to the believers who pore relentlessly over the words of their prophets looking for insight… the only thing that the Erani can “prove” in any reasonably conclusive manner is that these gates link to someplace that no mortal being really should want linked to their plane of existence.
And the Erani believe there are seven more of these things somewhere in the galaxy.
It’s not meant to be a particularly pleasant thought.