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Eric Olafson, Fleet Cadet
Lormans
Chapter number 14
Previous CHAPTER 13: Mördaren
Current Lorman's Starbase
Next Chapter 15: Italian Food

Chapter 14: Lorman's StarbaseEdit

The Madrid reached Lorman's Starbase and I had spent the entire four days at the Helm position. I was at the Helm Controls as we dropped out of Trans light. Captain K'Tngnk had us drop into real space, a full light hour outside of Lorman's System. He explained to me." Even though this is Union Space and we are not at war with anyone as far as I know, but I find it always a good idea to approach any target or star system with a little caution." He had explained to me the reason for his orders and the thoughts behind them during the entire time and I soaked it up like a dry sponge. He continued." You rarely run into any trouble in deep space. Space is so vast and so big; the chances to actually run into another ship even on the main traffic lines are pretty slim. Everyone travels at Trans Light speeds and it is almost impossible to intercept a ship that is traveling Trans light. Star Systems on the other hand are the destination and if there is any trouble it is usually around a sun where you find it."

I wondered what kind of trouble he expected at a Star System with a major Fleet base, but I did say nothing and listened to his advice. Commander Vasco his XO said, as if he sensed my thoughts." Our Captain does not like to be surprised. Out here you can scan and establish contact and you have time to make decisions if there is anything wrong. The Kermac could have decided to go to war while we were in Trans Light, and attack Lorman's Base and we would drop out of Trans light in the middle of a battle. Of course this was only an example and the chance of something like this happening is astronomically slim, still it exists."

He was right and it made perfectly sense and I decided, I would do the same if I ever made it into the Command seat myself.

The Captain then said." We received approach and landing instructions. Helmsman take her down!"

"Yes Sir." I said a little less confident as I was before." Steering a battle ship in deep space was one thing, but taking 3500 meters of Ultronit down on a planet surface was something else. Of course the ship could land on its own, using the computronics of auto helm, but he did not say that. He wanted me to land the ship manually.

Lt. Gar, the real helmsman of the Madrid said not over communications but being right behind me. "No sweat, you did well so far and we still have a little time." He pointed at a funnel shaped graphic that was superimposed over the still distant planet."This is your approach vector, given to us by Traffic control. As you see it is still red, we can approach it but not enter it until it turns green."

I heard the captain."All hands General quarters, tactical activate shields."

The Lieutenant next to me was a Spindlar and he used his telescoping arms to reach past me to point at a representation of the ship."The Captain does this all the time. During Landing and takeoff with those flying mountains, much can go wrong. So it is better everyone is at their duty station so everyone can react right away. The shields automatically adjust to the best shape for aerodynamics and push away any freight drone or flyer that accidently got in our landing path."

I had landed battleships in simulations before, but this was the real thing. We got a green cone and I adjusted the engines and Arti Grav output, matching it with the planets gravitation and entered the planets thin atmosphere. The planet looked like a typical Garden World Class IV, thin atmosphere, the world looked even dry from space, but then Class IV meant desert conditions. The world was colored in dusty maroon and brown shades, but I could already see the sprawling city and the vast space port.

Did I extend the landing struts too early? Did I land too slowly? I had made it, the Madrid rested on her landing gear and I deactivated external Arti Grav. Only now I noticed my sweaty palms and the drops of perspiration on my forehead.

The Captain said." You did fine, Mr. Olafson."

Gar the Spindlar was still behind me and said." Landing a ship is very important to captains, on a major Fleet base like this, it is likely other Captains see and watch it. It is part of the Captain's calling card if you will and as he said, you did fine."

I released my breath slowly."I sure was glad you have been behind me. Knowing you being there helped, Sir."

"I wasn't."

The Captain called me over." When you're done with second year, put in a request to be posted on the Madrid and I will confirm it when it reaches my desk."

"Yes Sir, I will!"

He extended his thin hand like claw and wished me well. Then he handed me an order chip." These are your instructions as to where to report. I would like to stay but we have just received transfer orders to theMagellan cloud and that's a long way to go."

I thanked him and said farewell to the bridge crew, the XO and Lt Gar and debarked twenty minutes later.



Interlude: Steel GauntletEdit

The five potato shaped space ships immediately attacked. Their weapons were consistent with the Y'All technology and so were their shields. Stahl looked over the scanner results and was convinced it was exactly the same as 1500 years ago. The Chief Science officer confirmed it."Sir, these are defiantly Y'All ships. Even the power output and everything is exactly the same as it was 1500 years ago. It looks like they made no improvement at all."

If this was the case, the Admiral thought, then this Y'All invasion would be quite different from the one before. The Union had expected their return and prepared for it. If forces could be amassed fast enough the Y'All Armada would not reach the Milky Way galaxy this time. However he didn't like the situation. The Y'All acted differently and there was only a handful ships. Before they had come with a huge armada, there were no reconnaissance craft, no advance units, but a massive fleet. They never tried to hide either! He expected them not to respond, but still he ordered channels to be opened."This is Admiral Stahl of the USS Devastator; we are representing the United Stars of the Galaxy. Calling the approaching ships. We will retaliate with all necessary force to any further signs of aggression. Stand down and respond!"

Alyica did not want to interrupt him but she wanted him to know what she had found out. So she decided to contact him telepathically." Admiral I am sensing them clearly. There are not just Y'All inside those ships, I also clearly detect Kermac thought patterns."

The Admiral showed no sign of surprise but opened the channel again." I do not know where you got these Y'All ships but since you are Kermac you know who I am and you know what will happen if you do not stand down right away!"

This time there was a response. A Kermac appeared on the screen. He appeared Kermac in every aspect, except his skin was not white but of a dark gray." Yes we know of you, Demon Stahl! Your presence is unexpected, but we cannot let you leave. We have sixty more ships approaching and it would be best you surrender, not even you could stand against so many Y'All ships!"

"You must be new in the space battle business. So let me give you a little advice: first of all you don't tell your enemy how many ships you got. Secondly I suggest you get a few more ships, sixty or even a hundred won't do the trick. Finally I suggest a spearhead formation. Coming at us with a half moon formation isn't very smart."

Before he even cut the transmission Stahl said." Tactical reduce the number of enemy ships to one!"

The scanner operator confirmed sixty ships to approach at high speed.

The Y'All ships were formidable opponents. Tough shields, strong armor and powerful weaponry, the Terran FTL-DE cannon was a direct development of a captured Y'All ship, but this was 1500 years ago. The Union had not stood still and had developed; it seemed the Kermac had found a stash of Y'All ships, just as they were so long ago. Somehow it made no sense to Stahl. Why would the Kermac cause trouble, so far away from their sphere of influence? They knew about the Instantaneous communication and would know the Devastator would report everything back to command right away. Maybe they relied on their disguise and were surprised by Stahl knowing they were Kermac.

The Battle was intense, the primary shields of the Devastator reduced to 60 percent. That had not happened in a very long time. Stahl had left Harris on the bridge. He was the captain and he knew how to fight. Stahl needed action and answers.

To get both he went to Deck 33 called Marine Country, his personal picked Elite team. Stahl's Own, nicknamed the Steel Gauntlet, already assembled wearing Gilgamesh Quasimodos. It was a wild bunch of beings. Each one of them a rough and tumble individual, specialists in the dirty business of close combat. Even though he was a Navy Admiral now, Stahl never ceased to be a Marine first and foremost, and despite all logic and caution, against all common sense to get himself in dangerous situations, he occasionally led his special team and that was the core of his reputation and legend. He was one of the men, regardless of his immortal and important status. He fought, sweat and bleed with them and this was the reason they respected and loved him. Stahl came out of the Combat Dresser, wearing his own Gilgamesh. On his left shoulder armor was an old symbol only a handful still recognized, an eagle perched upon a globe and a naval anchor below and the letters USMC. Why he called his HK chain cannon "Chesty" no one knew. The Devastator was the product of an ancient and long disappeared civilization called the Celtest. Stahl and a handful of his loyal friends had gone into Exile and traveled on an adventure rich odyssey across the Galaxy. He had found the Devastator and met Alyica in her true form. It was her who told him how to gain the ship and that he was needed back home.

While the ship had been heavily modified and refitted over the millennia with modern Union tech, it still held a few secrets only Stahl and a select few knew about. The secret of the Translocator canons and the Para Dim shields he had shared with the Union, but he kept a few aces under his sleeve. The Transplanter worked on the same principle as the Translocator Cannons, able to shift any matter via a Trans dimensional gate to another location. It also worked with living beings. He and the Iron Gauntlet platoon used this secretive technology to transport themselves directly aboard one of the remaining Y'All ships!

Stahl stepped through the glowing portal and right into hell!

Interlude: StowawayEdit

Peter Baker had neither slept nor eaten much in the last days. Everything had gone wrong ever since he captured the Y'All herald and brought the being to Fornax Hub. He told them to keep the being in Stasis until fleet could arrive. He had barely left the security lock up facility aboard the stations when all lights went out and the station was boarded by Y'All and Kermac! What was odd that these Kermac fought, they weren't the same cowardly white skinned Kermac he knew about, and still these gray skinned bastards had the same Psionic abilities. The Y'All were also different from the bigger and silent warriors he remembered from the Invasion 1500 years ago. While these beings looked identical they were smaller, not as massive and they appeared to be much smarter.

The Station was a military installation but had only a minimum of military personnel and lots of civilians. Peter had fought like a lion and the eight Cerberus robots the station had made a huge impact. Would they had more, the entire thing might have ended otherwise. The odds had been thousand to one. The Kermac and the Y'All had come with overwhelming numbers and struck with ferocity.

The Invaders killed everything in sight and as soon as they had freed the captured alien, they retreated. They had brought in floating energy cannons and with those and overwhelming numbers they were able to defeat the Cerberus robots.

The Barracuda Destroyer had fought valiantly and triggered self destruct before the Y'All could board her. He knew what they were after, the secret of the Translocator canon. The being he captured had asked him plainly if he knew about the workings of this weapon.

They had broken in one of the Stations warehouses, and it appeared they knew exactly where to look and took six big crates with replacement translocator cannons. The Invaders did not know that Peter managed to hide in one of the crates.

He had to make sure they would not learn the secret, even if it meant his life.

Now he was in that tight crate aboard an alien ship heading for an unknown destination. Peter had placed six charges and was ready to detonate them at any given moment.

Thanks to his advanced suit the Kermac could not detect him with their Psionics and he wanted to find out who was behind all this and he hoped he could escape with vital information, before he had to activate the charges and destroy the cannons and also committing suicide. He was prepared to do so, but if there was a chance to escape he would take it and that is why he still waited.



Chapter 14 Continued:Edit

Lorman's Starbase was basically a big town and a spaceport on an otherwise empty planet. I had made my way via slide belt to the main concourse of the space port and took a moment to read my orders. I still had 12 hours before I was supposed to report to JAG Office 54653 in the Fleet Justice Tower.

The space port was just like the ones I had seen before, with the usual businesses and retail outlets. I watched a group of perhaps twenty beings in bright orange jumpsuits, shackled together and guided by a five armed marines and two robots walk towards a waiting Leyland transport. Only to see another orange jump suited man, his hands in heavy cuffs escorted by two marines going the other way two minutes later. Fleet Officers and personnel walked busily back and forth and they all wore dress uniform. No one was casual, the whole atmosphere of this spaceport was somehow subdued and serious, still busy and lively but the din of many voices I had experienced on other ports was not there. As if everyone whispered.

I also noticed four Federal executioners in their dark red robes talking to two Union Officers. Somewhere an alarm went off and a dozen armed marines were running and flying towards the sound.

I grabbed a bite at the local Swine and Dine and then went out to the Taxi Stand. The flyers were operated by beings and not robots or computronics. The one I flagged down was flown by a green skinned being that reminded me of Wintsun, he had the same coppery red hair. He confirmed my destination and then I asked him if he was from Kipling Planet.

"Why yes I am! Kipling Planet is not far from here, just about 13 light years. Do you know the place?"

"No not first hand, but one of my friends comes from there, Wintsun Asher."

"Ah the Asher Family. I know of them, nice folks!"

The flight only lasted 3 minutes and the Pilot refused any payment and wished me well.

The Air of this world felt extremely dry and cold and had a dusty scent to it. Everything was coated with a very fine layer of powdery brown dust. I saw robots with Vacuum machines almost everywhere and from the looks of it, their task was a never ending one. The building I had to go was a twelve story square Duro Crete and glass construct with a large JAG symbol above the main entrance. Before it a large green grass area with a fountain and the statue of a man holding a book in one hand and addressing some unseen audience. Metal poles I thought of as lights as first were actually spraying a fine mist of water into the air and here the air was much better and did not feel so dry. I was still very early and had no particular hurry, but I wanted to report in before I did anything else.

The lobby was as quiet as the space port, even though there were at least hundred beings around in small groups talking to each other. A human Lieutenant with the JAG logo on his collar greeted me very formally and I saluted and handed him my order chip. He scanned it and said:"Midshipman Olafson ah you are here for the Main docket tomorrow. Arrangements for your stay have been made at Red Tree Plaza Hotel, which is just across the plaza from here. I let the prosecution team know you have arrived. They might want to speak with you prior to the proceedings."

"Thank you, I will remain at the Hotel then."

"Yes that would be advisable, not that there is much to sight see on this world anyway."

The room they had arranged for me was a small standard hotel room with an attached bath room. The window only gave me a view of a wall of another building on the side of the hotel. So I went back down to the reception and asked if I could rather pay for my own and get a room with a view. It was easily arranged and looking on my credit strip, it had grown in size instead of becoming smaller. This time the suite was on the top floor and I had a spectacular view over the vast emptiness of this planet. The City had sprung up in the middle of a vast brown desert with a mountain range in the distance. There was nothing green out there. No roads or buildings, only rocks, boulders and dust. Yet when I looked the other way there was this vibrant busy Union City with parks , alleys, buildings and a downtown district with bright lights and advertisement. I wasn't sure if they would still come today to talk to me, so I did not get more comfortable and just took off the uniform jacket.

My PDD went off and as I checked, Egill was asking for a call. The Suite was Avatar enabled so I accepted the call and connected it to the Suite GalCom Unit sat down on the Virtu Couch and was connected to my Avatar representation where Egill was. The suite disappeared and was replaced by an Assembly alcove. Egill was not alone, there was a Saresii and Narth!

Egill stepped back and looked at me up and down and then said." Do you think you can impress me showing up in uniform like that?" He sounded gruff and grumpy.

"Do you think I jump and change clothing every time you call Old man?" I answered similar grumpy. The Saresii woman looked quite surprised at that, there was no reaction from the shrouded being. Since the Narth did not react at my appearance at all I was fairly certain it wasn't my friend."

Egill then hugged my Avatar and boxed me in the side. "Good to see you Eric."

"Good to see you as well Old man! I am glad you called!"

"Elena just called me and told me you went off in a humongous battle ship only a day after you arrived at Nilfeheim."

"I was summoned for a Court Martial procedure. I am not sure how long it will last, if I have time I go back to Nilfeheim, if not I have to be at Arsenal II for the second year."

He sighed." Of all cadets, it had to be you going to a court martial procedure instead of going home. You have not learned to stay out of trouble, even in the Navy!"

"No Sir, I am afraid I have not."

"Well I am calling you because my friend the Narth representative just told me that you have also made friends with a Narth and he wanted to tell you something."

The Narth next to Egill bowed slightly and spread his arms."It is the Eric, sharer of Huhgavh. One has been told by the representative of thy world Nilfeheim, that he knows of you and has contact. Therefore I made Ones desire to contact you known to him. For the Narth that is your Huhgavh wanted you to know that he is undergoing a reincarnation process during which he cannot use GalNet. He wanted you to know that he is with you in spirit and looks forward to continue his study of the corporal world and his education to become a Union officer."

"I thank you for this message, representative of the Narth. If you can convey my friend that I miss him and look forward to the time we meet again."

"I shall convey and I am confident he can explain to me how he can be missed."

I smiled."Yes I am certain he can."

Egill blinked." I heard every word and as usual I have understood nothing."

I laughed."I have the same problem usually but Narth my friend tried really hard to make me understand at least a little bit."

Egill gestured to the Saresii."This is Algear Moansti, First among the Saresii and One of the elected Seven. Don't bother to introduce yourself to him, I told him all about you."

Before I even realized doing it , I had bowed slightly before the Saresii and said." I am deeply honored to have the fortune to meet you."

The Saresii who looked like a nice woman but was judging by the name and Egill's choice of words as he, smiled and said." The honor is mine as well. To see a human, a Neo Viking of all choices being so close to the Narth is quite surprising."

I then told Egill a little about the Academy and my first year and he told me that Sif was not working out as he thought she would and had run off with a Student friend of hers and he did not know where she was at the moment, but he expected her to be still on Pluribus and was not too worried.

He then told me that he had to attend to a meeting and wished me good luck. Before we ended the call I promised to call when I could."

Interlude: AssemblyEdit

Egill terminated the connection and leaned back. Algear glanced at his friend."You love that boy and you told me so many times and yet you criticized him and snarled at him during the entire call, I do not understand."

"It is my way to show him, I care. He understands."

Algear sighed and said in complete unison with the Narth." Humans!"

Egill padded Algear on the shoulder. " I explain it to you one of these days." To the Narth he said." Now can you explain to me why Eric is on the Assembly List as High representative of the Narth?"

"Narth Supreme decreed that Eric is Narth and when Eric speaks he also speaks for Narth."

"And you think that is an explanation?"

"Yes one thinks so!"

Algear smiled at that and then said." Well at least he is not in the Fornax Cluster as you feared he might be."

"I don't know what exactly is going on there but the Attikan Representatives spoke of a major fleet built up aimed at that cluster and I heard the Devastator signaled Attikan forces from there. My grandson had the uncanny ability to be somehow always in the middle of the biggest trouble. I think there is big trouble brewing at that cluster."

Algear wrinkled his pretty nose."It would take even the Devi many months to get there, if not years. How can she report from there?"

The Narth raised his hand." Distances are relative to the speed you travel. Space is not absolute in any case and it appears logical that this formidable ship traveled perhaps at a greater speed. This is not a mystery to Narth, however I would be greatly thankful if you explain to me how trouble is brewed."

Before Egill could attempt to explain that to the Narth, the current speech of a ThreeOz was interrupted by the speaker of the Assembly." I must apologize for cutting your speech time short Representative Molx, but I must call the assembly for an emergency meeting. We just received a report from fleet command that the Devastator is currently engaged fighting Y'All ships in the Fornax Cluster. The report also indicates that the Y'All ships are crewed by the Kermac!"

That announcement caused quite a stir. While only a few very long living beings remembered the first Y'All attack, everyone knew about the devastation and the horrors the last Invasion had caused.

That the Kermac were involved came as a shock only to a few. Many knew about the rumors that they were involved somehow with the earlier Y'All Invasions.

The Petharian representative, who shared similarities with the Y'All was the first to speak." The Petharian are home to the M33 Galaxy and we have not experienced the Y'All invasion but we are now members for over 1000 years and we know well about these meddling Kermac. I say we declare war on them and wipe them out of existence once and for all. No Kermac, no Y'All so it seems to us. Every Petharian will be mobilized and we will stand to the last soul by our Union brothers!"

The Klack Queen herself was next, she spoke via Avatar." This time the Klack are with the Union. Neither Kermac nor Y'All can conquer us now. I agree with the Petharian, the Kermac have meddled and stirred trouble ever since they ascended and it is time they do that no more. The Klack will be part of the victory or die with our Union."

The Attikan Rep floated in the middle." The Commonwealth is not a member for very long, but not a single member of the Commonwealth regrets our decision to join. The Y'All and the Kermac will wish they did not pick a fight with the Union, Attika will stand to the last ship and planet and defend the Union. It is a community of many civilizations and it is one worth fighting and dying for."

The Representative of Terra spoke." Together we defeated them once before, this time we are thousand times stronger and have more friends and allies. I like to change the old saying: They made one mistake, a mistake everyone in this galaxy knows not to make..They made the Terrans..No they made the Union angry!" the man of Earth made a crocked smile and said." They just came in time so we can test our new Armageddon Weapon."

The Ult laughed." It had to be the Terrans coming up with a new device to scare the moisture of their backs!"

But then all became quiet as the Narth rose and addressed the Assembly for the first time." If war is upon us against enemies regardless of origin, and it is the will of this assembly to wage war, then the Narth will not stand idle aside but join you in the fight. A Narth Sphere has now been dispatched to the Fornax Cluster as we speak. It should arrive there within the hour and assist the Devastator. However one would like to caution his fellow assembled Representatives, before declaring war. Let us gather all information and make such a decision wisely and with reason so we really know against whom war is to be declared. It can be easily declared and started, but it is so hard to stop. There are agents and beings that listen to these proceedings and they report to the enemies of this Union. To them I direct this message of Narth Supreme: Make no mistake Narth are Union and what never happened before will happen this time if the decision is made, Narth will go to war!"

The silence remained. The Narth turned to Egill without realizing that every Visual Sensor was still on him." Egill, one has addressed the Assembly. Yet there is no acoustic response, has one chosen the wrong words?"

"No my friend, but you speaking and what you said is of such importance that everyone is thinking about your address."

"What would you suggest?"

Algear, the Saresii also leaned forward."Yes I like to know that as well, you always have a good take on things."

"I am only of a little planet unimportant planet and these are matters of cosmic importance, but If I were in charge. I would wait, the Devi is there and no one knows more about war and fighting than Stahl. Let him talk to us once he has all the information and then make decision. Right now we are shouting for war after hearing a vague report. It's not enough for me to wager with millions of lives."

The words had been heard by all and a resolution was put forth to do exactly as Egill had said and it was voted approved overwhelmingly.


Interlude: Kermac PrimeEdit

The Kermac High Circle of Wizards listened to the report of their spy. He had shown them a recording of the Assembly proceedings as well.

Vorneun the Intelligence wizard looked perplexed." Can someone tell me what is going on here? I never even heard of the Fornax Cluster, what were they talking about Kermac in Y'All ships?" He addressed Nachacht the Military Wizard as he expected him to have done something in secret, but Nachacht looked as surprised but the Grand Wizard clenched his little fist." It has begun! The Call has been answered. The Y'All are here and the cursed Union will be no more than a memory."

Nachacht raised his hands wanting to strangle the Grand Wizard." Did you not see and hear that entire report? The Narth will go to war on Union side! I am not sure if there are enough Y'All in this Universe to stop that one Narth Sphere they have sent. Did you hear the Union Reps screaming for war? We are not ready for war!"

The First Wizard said angrily." That was just a Union rouse. A cheap actor. Anyone can look like a Narth! Besides, even the Narth are not invulnerable. They too can be conquered. It is your job Wizard of the Military to make sure we are ready for war." To the Intelligence wizard he said." Your task is to find out how the Narth can be overcome. Your task will take priority over everything. The Universal Collective had a way to deal with the Narth. We are the successors of the Uni."

"They are gone for 250 Million years!"

"The shafts of knowledge are still on Koken. Go there and do your research. No cost and effort to be spared. Take and recruit what you need."

Vorneun was no longer as pessimistic." Yes I will do that. I wondered why we left all that knowledge there in the first place."

"Because the shafts are dangerous and they do not easily give up the information and only Kermac can access them so we cannot use thralls. I value my existence more than knowledge, but you are expendable and so are a few thousand of our kind you can take along. Now go and be successful."

Vorneun was not sure this was the real answer. There was a reason their forefathers had left the shafts untouched and left Koken. No one remembered the reason why the Kermac left Koken. The story about hearing the Voice of the Universe was mythology. There was another reason. Yet he had been there with the Grand Wizard and nothing bad happened. He wondered also why no Kermac before them got the idea to do that. There was a hidden tome of information guarded by the first wizards that held the answers. Part of his mission he decided was to get rid of the Grand Wizard and make himself supreme and then he would know.

Chapter 13 Continued:Edit

No one had showed up to brief me or anything. So I reported in ten minutes before the time I was supposed to be there. JAG Office 54653 was an entire floor of the building and I was asked by a human Ensign to wait in a boring lobby until I was called with a few arm chairs and a low table littered with fleet magazine foils.

A single room plant in the corner looked somehow forlorn. Every now and then women in high heeled shoes and skirt suits would stalk down the corridor and disappear in one of the many doors. I could see the desk with the Ensign and after 12 minutes I asked him if I was at the right place and if they knew I was there. He looked bored and a little annoyed." Midshipman Olafson, I am doing this job for a while now and very good I might add. You are but a Midshipman, about as important as that rubber tree there in the corner. I have registered your presence with those who requested you. All you have to do is sit tight and wait. If it takes all day you still wait. There are important matters worked on and should they need you they call you."

Punching an ensign in the face , at a JAG facility would not have been a good idea, even though I was tempted, so I returned to the arm chairs and grabbed one of the magazines, an issue of Squadron News Magazine from three month ago. I actually began to enjoy myself reading it, there was a lengthy report on the newBubble bridge design and I was a little proud of myself that I experienced one first hand. A dozen high ranking officers had started a lively discussion below the article arguing in a professional manner about the pros and cons of the design.

Three hours had gone and still no one had come. The Ensign was getting up came over and said."I am off duty now, but your orders were to be here at 1400 hours, your orders do not specify anything else, so I strongly suggest you stay here."

That didn't make much sense. First they dispatch a Battle ship on Admirals orders to get me here with all haste and then let me wait in a boring lobby. Was this a tactic of the defense maybe? Was the proceedings already well under way or even over and I the main witness had not shown?

I did have my PDD with me and there were no messages. I send a message to the Admirals office that I was here an hour ago, but it had not been answered so far.

Even though he was just an Ensign he was a superior officer and he had given me a direct order to wait here. There was not much else I could do.

One of the women I had seen go back and forth approached me about three hours later. She was Saresii, judging by her purple eyes and long silvery hair and I wasn't sure if she was a woman in the first place. She wore civilian clothing and said." Cadet, you are sitting here for hours. Can I ask you why?"

"I was ordered to be here at 1400 hours and I reported in at that time. It was regarding a Court Martial procedure."

"I am Commander Hollow assistant to Admiral Olia. There was only one case on the docket…" she snapped her fingers."Of course you are Cadet Olafson. You went through basic training with Agia Olia right?"

"Yes."

"I am so sorry the proceedings have been postponed as the Admiral of the Fleet himself wanted to be present. However a big crisis has come up and the Admiral had to deal with it."

"Oh okay."

She smiled."Scuddlebud has it the Y'All have returned and Admiral Stahl is engaging them as we speak at a distant star cluster. Something like that would take the priority over a court case."

"I understand."

"What I don't understand is , why you haven't been sent to the Hotel. Waiting here for hours was totally unnecessary."

"The Ensign at the desk insisted I wait here."

"I see." Then she said." We will proceed with the case with or without the Admiral the day after tomorrow. We can prolong it only that long. So you are stuck on this dust ball of a planet for the next 36 hours and if you want I can show you around a little and you tell me about Olia's daughter and the Academy and we can have dinner."

"I am not getting in trouble not waiting here as ordered?"

"No worries. I really am a Commander and I am second in command of this place and I will have a word with that Ensign tomorrow."

"I am glad I would have had to start a conversation with the Rubber tree otherwise. I know the magazines by now."

"I doubt it would be a very good conversation, that tree is not known for its conversational skills. So I suggest you go to your hotel, freshen up and change into civilian if you like and I meet you in the lobby in an hour. There is an excellent real Terran Italian in town."

"What does he do?"

"Serve the most delicious food this side of the Galaxy. Trust me on that."

I decided to trust her and was about to leave when she said."Oh and so you know I am a woman."

"You read my mind?"

"No I can't read minds. I am a good Telekinet though, but that is a question everyone has meeting a Saresii. I just wanted to make sure you know that."


Interlude : Steel GauntletEdit

Stahl's suit shield had collapsed twice, and the scorch marks on his armor showed that he came awful close to making his ideas of retiring quite mute, but the Steel Gauntlet had managed to secure the alien ship, and the grey skinned Kermac Captain still struggled in his augmented suit fist. Stahl had grabbed him, before he could activate the self destruct. Sergeant Black Horse, a genuine Terran Apache shouldered his monstrous boarding axe and said." Ship Secure, Big Chief." None of the men in the Iron Gauntlet called Stahl by his rank or name, but woe to the poor soul who would even hint a disrespectful thought against the Admiral in their presence.

Stahl nodded." Get Chief engineer Dohan over here on the double. I want him to go over this flying dodo pile with the fine comb and make sure it isn't going to blow anytime soon."

"You got it Big Chief."

"Casualties?"

" Georg bought the farm Sir. He was a damn Yankee but a good man and Rumble lost an arm, but since he had four he won't mind, besides I am sure the meds can get him a new one."

"Make sure Georg is taken home. We will remember him later."

"Aye Chief!"

Only now did he pay attention to the Kermac Captain." Listen carefully, mister. I just lost a good man and I am in a very grumpy mood. I want to know everything."

"I will tell you nothing. Your actions have perhaps postponed our victory but we have what we came for."

Alyica appeared right there and she stared at Stahl, said nothing but her eyes told him all she wanted to say. Instead she said."They have stolen several crates of Translocator cannons from one of the Stations storage holds. I can read him clearly and I am sure we can do a memory dump and get all his secrets."

The Kermac struggled more."How can this be! Not even a Saresii should be able to read our thoughts."

"Looks can be deceiving Kermac. I am not a Saresii and what I do is not Psionics, but that is not important. The information you carry however is."

She then stared at the scorch marks and the molten visor of Stahl's battle armor." I think you need to be in sickbay too, you look odd without eyebrows!"

"Can you take care of this fellow? I got to finalize things over here and then we need to find those cannons."

The Kermac Captain floated,, unable to move a limb toward the woman and they both disappeared.

Translocator canons were shipped in special crates. Only a Union Officer with the appropriate clearing could open it, without triggering the self destruct. However nothing was certain and any safety system could be fooled or bypassed. This was a civilization at least as sophisticated as the Union and to rely on a hope alone was not good enough. The Union was able to keep this technology out of the hands of others for almost 1500 years. These Canons were the main reason the Union was so successful. There was the Armageddon Device just recently put into field tests by the Terran WepLab and he had great hopes, but having this Celtest weapon in the wrong hands would still be disastrous."

No one in the Galaxy was a better interrogator than Alyica, she would find out.

Something was very strange here. The Y'All fought like devils but he doubted he could have taken this ship with so few casualties if they were of the old kind. Also these Gray skinned Kermac acted differently than the ones he knew.


Next Chapter: Italian Food

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