(Part 2 of 8 in "Three Worlds Collide")
…"So the question then is – now what?"
The Lord Pilot jumped up, then, his face flushed. "Put up shields. Now. We don't gain anything by leaving them down. This is madness!"
"No," said the Ship's Confessor in professional tones, "not madness."
The Pilot slammed his fists on the table. "We're all going to die!"
"They're not as technologically advanced as us," Akon said. "Suppose the Babyeaters do decide that we need to be exterminated. Suppose they open fire. Suppose they kill us. Suppose they follow the starline we opened and find the Huygens system. Then what?"
The Master nodded. "Even with surprise on their side… no. They can't actually wipe out the human species. Not unless they're a lot smarter than they seem to be, and it looks to me like, on average, they're actually a bit dumber than us." The Master glanced at the Xenopsychologist, who waved her hand in a maybe-gesture.
"But if we leave the ship's shields down," Akon said, "we preserve whatever chance we have of a peaceful resolution to this."
"Peace," said the Lady Sensory, in a peculiar flat tone.