It was all a distraction to allow Duarte and his loyalists to set up a colony on Laconia, a planet with an unusual alien artifact in orbit around it: a construction platform that can create space vessels with advanced capabilities based on protomolecule technology. In The Expanse season 6, we hear the obsessive scientist Cortazar telling Duarte that they have been able to use the stolen sample to activate the orbital station, the same way phantom-Miller was able to activate the artifacts on Ilus in season four. Let the fireworks begin!
The Strange Dogs, Cara, and Xan
But that’s not all the protomolecule can do! We’ve also seen that Laconia has some unusual wildlife that appears to be modifying “broken” things in a semblance of repair. Remember, the protomolecule was discovered in season one on Phoebe, one of Saturn’s moons. Miller (as an eventual spokesman for the protomolecule) informed Holden that it was designed to modify anything in its path to the specification of the alien race that created it. It lay frozen and unused until Protogen dug it up.
If you look closely, however, you’ll see that the “strange dogs” in The Expanse season 6 make changes to the drone and the mama bird which leave a soft blue glow, such as we see with anything protomolecule related. After Xan is brought back to life with black eyes and increased perception, it’s clear that the repair creatures made modifications less destructive than but certainly just as radical as what happened on Eros in the opening season. Without Cara and Xan’s involvement in the later books as a result of these changes, humanity would have little hope of understanding the alien forces around them.
Needless to say, Duarte has his own discoveries to make about what this more stable form of protomolecule can do for the dominance of his new empire. Considering the hardiness of Martian efforts to terraform their own planet back home, it should come as no surprise that this same discipline will become the central tenet of a new political force bent on doing what’s best for the survival of the human species… at least from Duarte’s point of view.
The Trade Union and the Gates
Drummer was put in charge of the new independent Trade Union at the end of The Expanse season 6, and that’s exactly where she ends up in the books, too. But her position of leadership becomes far more important to the solar system than perhaps Avasarala or Holden could have possibly anticipated, and it’s a glorious thing to behold. The many fans of this great character will be excited to see her rise to power.
Taking into account the strategy Naomi employed to defeat Marco in The Expanse series finale, one of the main dangers the Trade Union must manage involves the entities inside the gates that eat ships for breakfast. Traffic must only pass through the rings at a regulated pace to avoid “going Dutchman,” as they call it, referring to the famous ghost ship. But even with the careful coordination there are no guarantees, and the pressures that arise from increased colonization will take their toll in the later books.
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