Holy crap!!! I mean, you gave us hints that Sandhurst was exhibiting lingering after effects of his time with the Amon, but I had no inkling that he was actively pursuing such a ... "perverse" course. The life essence is clearly akin to a highly addictive drug - only several orders of magnitude more powerful - the need for which is driving Sandhurst to extremes he would otherwise never even consider. Still, I can't help wonder whether he's fully conscious of what he's done (assuming, of course, that it is
him who has done these things). We've already seen that he created the new engine design in a mental state in which he was not fully in control of his faculties, and he seemed to be surprised that Europa
didn't find the Amon cube in the gas giant's rings. Perhaps there's something on a more subconscious level going on here .... Regardless, you've given us quite a lot to chew on here. Looking forward to the next installment, even more than usual.