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Eric Olafson, Fleet Cadet
Italiansn
Chapter number 15
Previous Chapter 14: Lorman's Starbase
Current Italian Food
Next Chapter 16: Wichita

Chapter 15: Italian FoodEdit

I found the Commander waiting in the lobby. She wore a black velvet dress, that clung to her figure like a second skin and a fur stole in the same color as her silvery hair. She was stunningly beautiful in an exotic way and reminded me of the Saresii general I had met at the Academy Office and of course Master Alema. I wondered of all Saresii looked that way and how they managed to recognize each other. She raised an eyebrow." By the Spirit, you clean up nicely."

I blushed."The suite did not have an auto dresser and the only civilian clothing I had was my Nifleheim stuff." I had left the fur cape behind on Nilfeheim, but I had taken my leather suit and vest and that's what I was wearing.

"I think it looks very good. I like black leather."

I wondered why a Commander was so social and friendly. Did she want something from me? I was not entirely sure if her friendliness was genuine but I decided to play along. What could happen? Having dinner on a fleet base planet with an officer of the fleet?

She presented her arm and I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. Part of me hated her for looking so good and my female side I tried so hard to suppress wished to wear a dress like that. I was suspicious of her motives too but then having a beautiful woman on my arm wasn't the worst thing in the world either.

She said."You look as if you contemplating half the problems of the Universe. If you would rather not go with me and have dinner, you can say so, I won't be offended."

As we walked to the exit of the Hotel, I sighed and said," I am sorry, Ma'am but to be honest I am trying to figure out if there is a reason why you are so nice. Don't get me wrong, I sure appreciate it but you are a Commander and I am a Midshipman."

She looked at me from the side." I am also a woman and you are very handsome. Neither of us is wearing uniform and I am hungry and rather go out with nice company than eat alone. I am usually not known to be nice, rather the opposite. It is part of being a JAG Investigator and Prosecutor."

Outside the hotel a cold dry breeze blew from the desert and she pulled the fur stole over her naked shoulders. Somehow I found this unconscious move of her very feminine and attractive and said."Well I am hungry too. The last thing I ate was breakfast on the Madrid and that was even before I took my shift."

The doorman of the Hotel waved us a Taxi and she said while it approached." You had a duty shift on the Madrid? I was under the impression you were just a passenger."

We entered the cab and she said to the operator." Antonio's ristorante please."

I answered her question." Yes I was a passenger, but Captain K'Tngnk let me take helm and I was on that station for those four days."

"I know that Ant. He is a stickler for Navy traditions and by the book as you can be. So K'Tngnk let you steer his beloved Madrid?"

"Yes Ma'am."

"You know you could call me Gwen if you like while I am not in Uniform."

The Taxi floater dropped us off a moment later before the glass door of a warmly lit restaurant. Something smelled delicious even out here in the cold air. I opened the door for her and a thin tall man with a black pencil beard greeted us and he knew Gwen as he said." Your favorite table is waiting for you Bella Signorina and I just got a delivery of fresh mussels from Nuovo Napoli."

He waved and a green scaled Sauron, distant relatives to the Shiss, in black tuxedo guided us to a table that had the illusion of being outside, with torches flickering in the wind and a whispering fountain. The view was over an ocean and a single big moon was hovering over the horizon, a picturesque village and fishing boats on its shore below. There were several other tables and about three quarters of the restaurant was filled with guests. The Sauron lit the candle on our table and then handed us the menus, a printed list sandwiched between two stiff leather covers, not a touch and choose display.

She took off the fur stole and her strapless dress emphasized her ample breasts and produced a nice cleavage."I recommend the mussel as an appetizer and then either a Pizza Napoli with seafood topping or Antonio's famous Spaghetti Di Mare."

"I know Pizza, but I am always open for new things and I do love fish. Why don't you order then? It is the first time I am at an Italian restaurant. I guess they serve Pizza for those who don't know Italian?"

She giggled." Eric, Pizza is an Italian invention. I think you should try the Pizza then and then you know what a real Italian Pizza is."

"No I didn't know. Italy is a Saresii tradition?" She was still amused and her eyes sparkled in the candle light." No Italy is a national region on Terra, Old Earth." She made a gesture towards the projected scenery." This is a view from Antonio's home. The ocean you see is called the Mediterranean Sea and that village really exists and hasn't changed much for thousands of years. Saresii food is very bland and I am not too fond of it, but then I am not exactly Saresii."

The waiter interrupted us and she ordered and asked me if I liked wine and I told her I never had any except Seaweed Berry Wine and I didn't like that too much.

After he disappeared I said." I thought you said something about Saresii in the JAG lobby and you sure look like one."

She reached for a baked stick thing that was on the table and nibbled on it." The Saresii are very similar to us and I choose that look as my civilization is not well known in the Union. I am from Coven."

I shrugged." I am not the best in Xeno culture and I never heard of Coven, but then not many know of Nilfeheim either."

"That is true, there are so many member civilizations and planets, and no one could possibly know them all."

"My friend Narth, he tries hard to memorize the entire GalNet Content."

Her left eyebrow rose slightly." Yes I have read that in your file, you are friends with the first Narth that ever joined the Navy."

Again I got this suspicious feeling." I sure don't want to spoil things and a nice evening, but this is not some sort of investigation?"

"No it is not, but I was preparing the case for the Admiral and I have studied the case in great detail and since you are the pivot point in this case. I had to study your file."

The waiter brought the wine and made a little show opening the bottle by hand using some sort of knife tool, removing a stopper sniffing at it and pouring me a very little amount in a glass. Then he stepped back and waited for something.

She pointed to the glass."He wants you to taste the wine if it is okay, only then will he fill our glasses."

So I sipped and it did taste not bad at all, and quite different from the Kelp wine I knew." Yes its drinkable."

He poured two glasses and left.

I looked at her." So you know everything about me and I know nothing about you and this is not about the case?"

"I know the dry facts of a personnel file and that is not knowing everything about you and no the investigation of the case is closed. We needed to make sure the defense council had no ammunition to discredit you. The evidence is overwhelming and we would not even need your testimony, to make the case stick and get Stone and Swybar convicted, but it is not every day we prosecute an Admiral and a Commander and the charges are so severe that after a verdict the sentence will be the death penalty. This means the defense will try anything and while I am of the prosecution team and I know what had happened to you and I want justice done, I am glad there is a good defense, so justice is done correctly. I like these forms of checks and counterchecks of this legal system and I think that it is an important part that makes our Union special."

"I am still sore at what happened to me, but if it was only me that got hurt. I would not want them to die, but they caused my best friend terrible harm and that I won't forgive them."

I took a sip of the wine and said."I have firsthand experience of a public execution and it was something that I don't like to see repeated."

"Yes I have read that in your file. The Justice Department has sent us the report on that and it was full of praise for you and they carry you still on the books as Deputy Executioner."

The food came and the savory smell dispelled the dark memories and the mussels were delicious. The Pizza was even better, it was topped with fishy things and I could taste real fire was part of the cooking process.

After dinner she asked me a bit about the Academy and Olia and she told me about the impact her call to her father had made. To have this part of the story confirmed by someone else made me even more appreciate my friend's efforts and I promised myself to send all of them at least a message and see how they were doing.

After a few more drinks and a nice desert with coffee. I felt alright with the world and we went back to the hotel. In the lobby she said, holding my hand." I had a lovely evening and you are so much more than even the sum of your file. It is true you don't know much about me, but I will make that up to you very soon."

"Do you want to come up to the suite? I think it has a bar and we can have a final drink maybe?"

"I would like that very much." She kissed me on the cheek, "but I must rise early tomorrow and I want you to get to know the real me before we go the next step and the next step would follow if we go upstairs." What she said had a mysterious undertone and I was almost certain she was hinting at something I did not understand and I knew what she meant by the next step.

"I thank you for the great evening and the marvelous food experience and I guess the next time I see you it is Ma'am and Commander again, right?"

"I am afraid so, but after the case is over. I want you to get to know me a little better and what happens after that we will see…"

INTERLUDE: Events at Fornax ClusterEdit

In all these years it was the first Stahl ran to reach the bridge of the Devi, he had barely made it back aboard and was still wearing his battered combat suit as he stomped with augmented muscles and eight tons of Terran battle gear on the bridge. Harris just informed him that another wave of Y'All ships was approaching. His mighty ship shuddered and he heard Harris ordering all attack wings to be deployed. He reached the bridge. Harris had disappeared inside his command chair now in full battle mode. Stahl anchored his suit boots to the deck plates and switched to prime command channel. The Scanner Operator said with a calm voice." Two hundred six units, Captain. "

Stahl was confident the Devi could deal with even this number, but the Translocator bomb magazines would be depleted and there would be damage and casualties among the attack wings. This was what the Devi was made for and his crew knew how do dish out death and destruction. He had send and let countless loyal beings into battle before, but every life lost was a painful scar on his old soul.

"Primary shields at 40 percent, the Y'All concentrating fire on the weak aft shields. Delta Wing has lost four Wolfcraft." The XO reported.

Stahl noticed dozens of Y'All ships suddenly bursting into millions of pieces! As if disassembled part by part, in a fraction of a second, yet there were no explosions.

A new ship had appeared, perfectly spherical without any markings or anything that would disturb the perfect surface.

He stared at the screen and the dark gray spherical ship of a thousand meters diameter, this was a Narth Sphere. He had seen one only once before and that too was 1500 years ago. Y'All weapon fire poured into that sphere and there were no visible shields. The Y'All ships carried weapons very similar to the Unions' second most potent weapon, faster than light Directed energy projectors and each shot poured the raw energy equivalent of a solar eruption into the shields of the Devastator. Yet the Y'All fire splashed of the Narth Sphere as if someone was using a water-squirter against a granite boulder."

Interlude II: The HeraldEdit

The Call has been made and the Herald was about to complete the first part of the mission. He had been sent in advance to gauge the strength of this union and to secure the secret of the weapon that was able to defeat the Y'All. He had not been sent alone, but with him he had 300 mighty Y'All ships crewed not only by a new generation of Y'All warriors, but also by a large number of cloned beings, called the Kermac. It was decided that the Y'All should be led this time by an intelligent species with considerable Psionic talents. So one thousand Kermac had been cloned of the old DNA that was still on file from the previous attempt to invade that Star spiral to destroy and obliterate any species that could be capable of being the host for the Dark One. It was simple, if the Dark One could not find a suitable host to reincarnate; the Dark One would stay slain and defeated forever. The other way was to find the twelve token of power and destroy them, make sure they could not be reunited, but to find these token was nearly impossible as they could be anywhere and not even the Lords of Light knew how they looked like or how to find them. As the Uni were driven out of that Galaxy, by the old foe they had left the seeds for a new Universal collect behind on a world its natives called Koken. The Ker native to this world were destined to develop into the next Universal Collective and they had squandered their holy task! The Herald smashed one of his fists on the armrest of his seat. He would not have to be born so painfully if those cursed Ker understood what they had to accomplish and what they were destined to become. But thankfully the Uni had not set all hope on one species, but set up the Crucible so far away from that ill destined spiral star isle. The crucible was the birthplace of the Yah-ha Al, which meant Celestial Soldiers in the ancient language of the Universal Collective and recently had become the birthplace of the Herald. The survivors of the first invasion had passed on the name over many generations and the name had been changed during the passage of time, they were now known as the Y'All by their enemies and the name was synonymous with fear!

The Herald as confident he was on the surface that the Crucible would prevail and accomplish what the Uni had decreed, and he had reported his success to the Crucible, but inside deep down he was anything but confident. He had only seen a glimpse of that Union. They had developed much faster and much stronger than anticipated. Not only did they possess powerful weaponry and shields, but everyone was able to communicate instantaneously across the entire Union region. He turned and looked at the crucified human hanging in the back of his ships command room. He was barely alive, tortured to great extend by the expertly skill of the Herald. "Tell me about your Union, Commander."

The blood caked, swollen face of the man rose an inch and he mumbled," Commander Richard Brady United Stars of the Galaxy Navy, born January 4th 4978 on Limerick, Service number 04014978-RB-938483329."

"Your strength amazes me and yet it is wasted. At the Crucible we will clone your body and copy all your knowledge in that new brain without those impressive Psionic safeguards and your new self will freely talk. We do this sort of thing for a long time and we are quite efficient now."

The Station commander of the Fornax Hub actually managed to put a painful grin on his swollen face." It is your outfit that is fecked raisin face. You picked the wrong guys for a fight!"

"You keep saying that and yet you are here and you were unable to stop us."

"A single Ranger dragged your ass in, shot your shit pile looking ship to bits and it took thousands of you to get a few hundred of us. Do the math you dumb brute, you're fecked."

The Herald looked at the neural map of the Commanders body, selected a nerve cluster and activated pain impulses of burning flesh in his brain. The Union officer finally screamed after he added a second cluster and he broke another tooth and sacked in his shackled. The Herald stimulated the Nerves again and made the Commander regain consciousness. The Commander laughed! Then the tortured men said. "The truth is hard to swallow and you show your impotence against a single helpless man."

"I said tell me about this Union of yours. How many ships of this Barracuda Ship type do you have? How many of these mechanical combat soldiers?"

"That little Destroyer caused much mayhem to your mighty asses, didn't it? And eight old Class IX Cerberus took a lot of your ugly friends out before they even got to you."

The Herald had to admit these Battle machines were quite formidable. They lost over a thousand troops before these Machines could be destroyed.

The Commander found the strength to extend his right middle finger in an ancient very vulgar Terran hand sign. "That was a single destroyer. Wait till you see Ultra Battleships hunting you and you will wish to undo all you did when Marines and XIV Class Cerberus rain on that Crucible of yours."

"Impossible! You don't even know how to traverse your own Galaxy let alone set foot into another Galaxy."

"You really don't know anything. We have member species in the Andromeda galaxy and there is steady traffic between both Galaxies."

The genetic enhanced brain of a Kermac was floating in his Communications Device. Using its Telepathic abilities the Herald was able to contact the Crucible and also talk to the Strike force he had left behind. His devices simulated a Kermac voice organ and it interrupted him."Herald of the Crucible, the Kermac and Y'All you ordered to destroy anyone coming to investigate the fate of the space station report the arrival of a Union ship. It identified itself as the USS Devastator and the being hailing is Stahl!"

The Herald knew about the legend of that Human warrior and a mystical ship that supposedly helped stop the last invasion. "Impossible that was 1500 years of their time ago. Perhaps it is an inherited name or title."

"The ship is immense and under shields we cannot analyze, the being Stahl immediately knew we were Kermac."

As impossible as it was, the tortured commander raised his head fully and looked at the Herald with his one remaining eye full of defiance and such spirit that even the Herald felt it." That's it Raisin face, your goose is cooked. The Devi is here and Stahl! He'll find you!"

"You might as well hear what will transpire. That ship will be destroyed, there are 266 ships of immense power against one and they are crewed by the trained and engineered Kermac clones and half a million new Y'All warriors." The Herald sounded proud and confident. Yet no matter what he told the human he could not seem to break his spirit.

"You lost 24 ships against my Starbase and a single Barracuda and you think those few ships left will make the Devi even get a scratch, Buster you in for a surprise!"

The Herald cooked in silent anger as he listened to the mounting casualty reports, but then it was him as he heard the strange shields of that big ship finally were about to buckle.

The Commander managed to anger him again." I am not supposed to tell you any military secrets you know, but the Devi has triple shields."

One of the Kermac Captains fighting over a thousand light years away reported." Herald, a Narth Sphere has arrived. It fights with the Union ship. Our weapons are useless against it and our ships are disassembled in every component in mere seconds by Telekinetics unimaginable!

"To the glowing nether regions of the Omniverse with these meddlers from the Outside, the Uni hated them for not taking sides and now…" "Now, Pilgrim I suggest you stop this freak ship of yours or I drill you a new nose hole!"

The man with the strange hat and the powerful blaster weapon stood in the bio membrane door of his command center and the weapon was aimed at him. Through the open door he saw the corridor littered with the bodies of his personal guard!


The CrucibleEdit

He who guarded the Crucible and carried out the will of the Uni waited for the next report of the Herald, but even after many hours past the time it should have come in, there was silence.

Yet he already hailed success and said he had secured samples of the Union weapons and shields and was well on his way back. The Herald was not alone but had mighty servants with him, why did he not respond? He who guarded the Crucible stared at the Connection-Brain and it suddenly pulsed and its voice said." Don't mess with the Union. I am coming for you next, amigo!"



Interlude Continuned: Fornax EventsEdit

"Have we been hailed?"

Harris shook his head."No not yet, but the sphere is transmitting genuine Union Transponder Codes."

The screen changed and a hooded Narth became visible. The Comm. Officer looked at his console and shrugged. The Narth spoke." This is the USS Narth. "There was a pause and the Narth moved his shrouded head as if he was looking at someone then he nodded and spoke." One hopes to be forgiven, by the one who has command. One was uncertain of the correct address. It is the first time a Narth Sphere carries a name and is designated what you call a ship. One finds the designation ship quite confusing as it implies an artificial conveyance to be utilized upon a substance called liquid water."

Another voice sounding exactly alike interrupted the Narth." One disagrees with Narth, for ship could also imply a conveyance of goods and then there is the term space that can be used to further clarify what is meant and space ship is quite accurate."

The speaker returned to the hail." One again asks for apologies, Narth has limited experience in interaction and the Narth that is going to be a real Navy Officer has not completed his education."

Stahl could not help but smile." Never mind the formalities. The very fact to be hailed by a Narth sphere is of historic significance and it is us who are limited to communicate properly with Narth. Why don't you come over and we can discuss and talk and I update you on the events here."

"He who is in command has been on Narth Prime. He is not as limited as one would expect from…"

The graphite gray Narth sphere changed colors and turned to the same light gray of all Union ships and the Union Flag appeared next to the displayed ship name: USS Narth. While Stahl and his bridge crew stared in awe, two Narth suddenly stood on the bridge right before Stahl. One of them, Stahl could not say which said." Your suggestion is accepted."

Stahl bowed." I hope you forgive my appearance. I had no time clean up, with great joy and truly felt honor I welcome you aboard."

"An appearance can be forgiven? It would have to be offensive!"

"One needs to use his eyes; one has been given visual sensors. It is fascinating!" the other replied.

One of them sighed very humanly and said." Admiral Stahl, as you see one is not used to interact with Non Narth. Until now only two of Narth have had prolonged exposure and while they both share all their experiences with Narth there is still much Narth must know and understand. However we have been dispatched by Narth Supreme as Union Citizens and thus want to open a new area of cooperation and Narth integration into this Union of Civilizations."

Stahl had his chin on his chest what the Narth told him was truly historical." I am humbled by this revelation and I know you can sense my true feelings and thoughts about this it will better convey the joy I feel than words."

"Narth knows and understands friendship now and we are able to interpret your feelings much better and are equally humbled by them. One is here to assist in your stand against the Y'All or any other enemy."

"I am not sure we are dealing with the same Y'All as we did before. They act different and there are physical differences. There are also Kermac that do not conform to our previous knowledge."

"One agrees this is not consistent with previous encounters. One believes these Kermac are not associated with the ones of our Galaxy but have been made from DNA that had been taken 1500 years ago, during a time the Kermac had not achieved the whiteness of dermal tone they so desire."

Chapter 15 Continued:Edit

I was a bit disappointed that she had not come up with me, her dress and those fleshy globes under that thin velvet had excited me in a very…male way, maybe there was hope for me after all. If I felt that way about women maybe all I had to do is get out a little more often.

The next day I had asked the Lobby manager of the Hotel about the attractions of this world and he pointed me towards a sparsely populated wall rack with brochures and said." We do have a theater in town and a sports arena. There are a few Virtu show houses and a decent shopping mall. The locals go off-roading in wheeled vehicles and there are the water caverns under the city you can do a guided boat tour on, but if you really want fun and entertainment you can take the Intersystem shuttle to the second planet named Powell and they have casinos, clubs, amusementparks and a whole line up of sports and recreation attractions."

I decided to stay, did an Off-road driving trip and learned to steer a four wheel drive vehicle, did the Water Cave tour and almost fell asleep doing it. I doubted even the tour guide believed the water filled caves very spectacular. There was nothing native alive on this planet, not above and not below. According to the local who had rented me the vehicle there were some abandoned ruins, but nothing mysterious, a collection of buildings belonging to an early colony that simply had given up and left a ghost town behind. Sleeping in and doing all this I managed to pass the day without getting to bored and most of all not in any kind of trouble.

Early the next morning I was summoned to the JAG building and when I reported in, a Lieutenant sat behind the desk and I saw the Ensign sitting in the chair where I had spent most of the day before. He glared at me but then resumed his study of the magazines.

Commander Gwenn Hollow, this time in full dress uniform, instead of pants she wore a black skirt and heeled pump, greeted me with a smile and said." The Admiral of the Fleet is here and we will proceed with the case as soon as possible. You cannot see the procedures until you have been called as witness and made your statement. After that you can remain in the court room and follow the rest of the hearing."

She escorted me to an office and said as we entered in a quite tone. "Your friend Ensign Fainters was ordered to guard the rubber tree for a week."

"An entire week?" I almost forgot she was now in uniform and a Commander and I added "Ma'am"

She didn't react but her smile produced sexy little dimples in her cheeks and then she said." You can wait right here until you get called."

I waited for almost three hours before they did call me in. The court room was modern and sleek but still a court room, a panel of three High ranking officers all Admirals sat behind a raised bench, Commander Hollow on the right side before them and Admiral Swybar and a Commander on a table on the left side. Commander Stone was there as well but he wore a bright yellow jumpsuit and cuffs and a marine stood behind him. He glared at me with open hatred. I resisted the impulse to show him my tongue; this would not have been seen as very mature.

The Admiral of the Fleet sat with a whole bunch of high ranking officers in the audience area.

I was called into the witness stand by commander Hollow. The Admiral in the middle instructed me to answer all questions truthfully and I was informed that a polygraph scanner was monitoring me.

I placed my hand as instructed onto the scanner plate and a computronic voice said." Cadet Olafson Academy Rank Midshipman Captain, Eric. Service Number 1082320-O-5434. Recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Iron Star, recipient of the Yaktnh, the highest military honor of Archilerb, recipient of the Olive branch sixth class, honored with the Civilian Service Award by the Union Justice Department, Honor citizen of Twilight, Honored as Special executive by Alex Enroe for bravery and High representative of a member species, the Narth."

I felt humbled and embarrassed at the same time as the voice would list all that. Everyone including the panel of Admirals looked at me and I saw the Admiral of the Fleet, Mc Elligott sitting in the first row leaning back with crossed arms, his naked gnarled looking knees protruding from under his red and green patterned skirt. There was a faint smile on his face and he almost unnoticeable nodded towards me and I could not help but feel as proud as a Tyranno Slayer, his little nod meant more to me than the medals and awards. He had kept word and I saw justice done.

Then I was asked by Commander Hollow to tell my side of the events. The presiding Admiral in the middle asked me several questions and I tried to be as vague as possible about the part when I found Narth dying. I recalled how I was arrested and what happened to me in lock up. A Visual was shown of the actual hearing and also of my whipping. Seeing it from a spectators point of view made me still feel every slash of the whip, but I felt a grim satisfaction that I had not screamed.

A Lieutenant who acted as court clerk stood and said." Poly scan complete, system confirms that the statement made by witness Olafson was 98 percent accurate, allowing for system calibration it can be verified the statement was accurate."

The Commander defending Admiral Swybar got up and smiled at me and it was the coldest smile I had ever noticed. He was human but had dark brown skin and black hair. With the friendliest tone he said. "Midshipman Olafson, it seems everyone wants to paint you as a genuine hero and looking in your file and the hearing all the awards and decorations you somehow managed to accumulate in such a short time seem to verify this picture!"

He gestured towards the Poly Scanner." Who ever heard of a Poly Scanner result of 98 %? That is impossible!"

"Objection," Hollow interrupted." Commander Hammashannu is not an expert on Poly Scanners. The result was verified by the court appointed Poly Scanner Technician."

The Admiral in the middle said."Sustained, Commander Hammashannu you will abstain from making unsustainable subjective statements."

The Defense Counselor kept smiling." So we are here made to believe that a First Year Cadet managed to amass all these honors? His ribbon read out is more impressive than that of most senior officers. It…"

"Objection!" Hollow interrupted again." The Commander questions the citations and honors received by the witness and besmirch both the meaning and reason these symbols are given."

"Sustained! Commander do you have any evidence or proof that the witness has received any of the citations listed in a questionable manner? I am just reading the text to the citations and they look genuine to me. The Admiral of the Fleet himself recommended three of these citations is present and can be called as a witness."

The brown skinned Commander lost some of his swagger as he saw the stare he got from the Immortal Admiral and said." Is it not true that you are not really the hero you pretend to be? Is it not a fact that you are a sick individual who pretends to be a female and dresses up as a little girl."

"Objection!"

But the Commander kept going speaking even louder." Is it not perfectly understandable that Commander Stone and Admiral Swybar wanted to remove such an abomination from the fleet? The so high decorated Cadet prances around in skirts and who knows what else he is hiding from us."

I barley heard the angry calls of objection from Hollow. I felt as if I had been stripped naked in front of all these Officers and I knew my career was over. I never felt more ashamed in my life, and I rather had received another flogging than feeling the pain I felt right now.

My stomach knotted to tight I could taste the bitter bile on my tongue, unable to swallow as it felt as if I had a huge hot rock in my throat.

I concentrated hard to retain my composure and not cry. That would give this man, Stone and Swybar the final victory.

Mc Elligott had actually got up with the sternest face and the residing Admiral slammed his gavel on a little pad and then pointed it at the Commander." Only because I do not want a retrial and prolong this any longer I will allow you to finish, but I will charge you with disregarding direct bench orders after this trial. Should you continue this line of defense, I have you removed in irons!"

Mc Elligott growled." I will have a word with you. I am wearing a kilt! So I am prancing around as well?"

The Judge pointed his gavel now at the old Admiral."Sir, I greatly respect you but you are just an observer, so please sit down and remain silent."

Hollow was allowed to speak. "The condition of the witness is well documented in his file and none of the Psych experts have flagged it as anything but a private issue of the Midshipman. The Saresii are active members with many million serving in the Fleet and in the PSI corps making this condition a central part of their culture. There is no Navy regulation in place as what gender identity a Fleet member wants to display or feels."

The Judge said to me."Midshipman, you are dismissed from the stand."

I got up and managed to get out of the court room with a steady pace. I had no desire to remain. The clerk who had summoned me said I needed to stay close by in case they would need me again.

I waited in that empty office and was certain I would be notified of my dismissal shortly. It was known to them! It was in my records. It should have not have been a surprise after all the tests, all the telepaths and all the evaluations I went through. If a doctor on Nilfeheim could identify the DNA markers and see the signs then the Navy specialists could too. I should have dealt with this curse before I even went to Arsenal.

I brooded and was in a miserable mood when Commander Hollow came. I got up and stood in attention as it was proper when an Officer entered the room.

She came close and said."Don't worry about formalities right now. Admiral Swybar and Commander Stone have been found guilty on all charges will be sentenced later today. Admiral Mc Elligott sends his greetings but was in a hurry as there is a fire burning that requires his attention, those were his exact words."

I didn't even want to look at her and said."He was most likely disgusted and appalled by what he heard about me."

"He is around for over 3000 years, Midshipman. He has seen more of the human condition than most of us; he was upset because the defense councilor made fun of skirts. He wears his kilt everywhere and dare the soul calling it a skirt. Admiral Stahl is fighting dangerous Unknowns in the Fornax Cluster and that was on his mind and not you."

"But everyone knows now!"

"This was a closed door Court Martial and the details of it are classified. Commander Stone and Admiral Swybar will be stripped of their ranks and executed. Commander Hammashannu right now wishes he had not tried his stunt. He is in serious legal trouble and more than just a little afraid after I told him you could decide to challenge him in a Gentleman's affair. He knows of your duel on Maritime as it is part of your records."

"This too is in my file?"

"It is not part of your official duty record but it is part of your security back ground file. No worries about that. It is all good."

"I am not asked to resign?"

"I would not know why. What happened in there was nothing but court room tactics. In a civilian court and in front of a jury it might even have worked to some extent, but this was a Military tribunal."

"Are there any other orders for me?"

"No you are done here and you are back on vacation for now. You can stick around for the executions or you can take the next space bus to wherever you like."

"I had enough executions that last me a life time. What does the 'for now mean'?"

"I do have orders for you. In four weeks from now you are ordered to go to Ross 248 and report to Gortha Docks. The details are on an order chip I am going to give you."

"I am not complaining, but why is everyone else getting their full vacation and I am not?"

"Someone thought you might enjoy taking a brand new space ship from Gortha Docks to a Navy Base. It is only a Sturgeon Class courier ship, and does not really require a crew of more than one. It is a simple transfer, flying a little ship from point A to B. I am sure we can find someone else to do the job, if you rather have vacation."

I actually snatched the Order chip out of her hand. "Commander you can tell that someone, these are orders I prefer over any vacation!"

She smiled." It was anticipated."

"Four weeks? That doesn't leave me all that much time to get there. Isn't Ross 248 real close to Terra?"

"Yes only a little over 10 light years I believe."

"I would love to stay longer, Commander and get to know you better, but I got a ship to deliver and getting there by space bus, I better get started right away."

"We will meet again Midshipman, I am sure of it and very soon!"

"I sure hope so!"

The Starbase so I learned was serviced daily by Space Bus and I booked a passage for the next one toBlue Moon, it was leaving within the hour. From Blue Moon I planned to take a Fast Clipper to Alpha Centauri and from there it was not far to Ross 248. This would be my first trip into Old space as the fifty light year sphere around Earth was called.


Next Chapter: Wichita

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