the Guest Lectures:
Cosmic accidents, it turns out, don't always just happen-they can also be caused. In dozens of cases following planetary near-collisions on inhabited worlds there have been invasions of roving scavengers who take advantage of the ensuing chaos to take over the planet, enslave its dazed populace and strip it of resources. The Galactic Census calls them Velikoraptors; their unwilling hosts call them Orcs or Orcas in a dozen languages across the sector.
These fearful raiders generally show up mere days after a planetary cataclysm. But it is now believed that the Raptors actively cause the cataclysms they exploit so ruthlessly.
Our guest speaker, Shlemielmiel Jinx of the planet Shlimazl, was nightside-watchman of a mineral mine in his system's asteroid belt when he saw a group of Velikoviraptor craft setting down on a large rock and installing a nuclear charge on one side. Jinx's calculations showed that the bomb was intended to nudge the planetoid towards Shlimazl, causing a cataclysm and social disaster which would facilitate the Raptor invasion. He tried desperately to defuse the device, and did succeed in setting it off prematurely, offsetting the aseroid's trajectory. Unfortunately not only did the explosion severely damage Jinx's ship; the change resulted in a direct hit rather than a near miss, leaving little for the raiders to rape, despoil or enslave.
Jinx managed to escape the detonation and has dedicated himself to finding and exterminating the home planet of the Velikoviraptors. He has isolated a characteristic radio-telescope signature of the predator fleets, a sort of screaming hiss, which he calls the White Wail; and is determined to follow the White Wail to the ends of the Galaxy
We wish him lots of luck.