|Eric Olafson, Fleet Cadet|
|Previous||CHAPTER 18: Cave of Things|
|Next||CHAPTER 20: Nothing special|
Interlude: Aboard the DevastatorEdit
Richard stood by the view port in his office aboard the Devastator. The Ship was still on its way back to the LMC. The Narth were certain that the next Y'All invasion would come from this direction. He had seen the Narth Sphere during the last Y'All invasion and now that the Narth Supreme had personally told him that the Narth would be on the Union Side and hinted he would share some Narth technology with the Union he was far less concerned as he was before.
He smiled at his own reflection, how did the Narth Supreme put it? "It is conceivable that Narth will allow some minor adjustments to the Union technology." Whenever he talked to the Narth Supreme he felt pretty small and primitive, even aboard the Devi. It was like a Caveman proudly showing off a Flintstone hand axe to someone who used directed energy weapons.
He turned and looked at beautiful Alycia she had fallen asleep on the visitors couch after briefing him of the latest development. She was not human, not even Saresii. He had only glimpses of her true power and form and yet she too could get tired. She had interrogated the prisoners for the last twenty days and that in addition to all the work she had to do as the lead officer of the PSI Corps.
He went over carefully lifted her legs onto the sofa and covered her with a blanket.
As he was stepping away she blinked and smiled at him." There is a soft and caring heart under all that steel armor of yours, after all."
"Just don't tell it around. I worked hard on that reputation."
She sat up but kept the blanket wrapped around her." No worries, Warrior, come join me. It is quite nice right here."
Just as he decided that this might be a good idea, his personal Terminal played the first notes of the Old Marine Hymn. Since it was piped directly to his terminal it could only be the other Old Admiral. He sighed and Alycia nodded." He has impeccable timing. In moments like this I wish I could turn him into a toad after all."
Stahl grunted." The real scary part is that I think you actually could!" He then told the terminal to establish the call. Elligott's avatar appeared and he was in the process of stepping out of a Destroyer suit. Stahl's left eyebrow shot up and said." Lieber Gott, what happened that made you suit up?"
Elligott grinned like the Cheshire cat." Once in a thousand years I was able to have a little Adventure and its conclusion could easily steal your thunder just once, and I can't really publicize it."
Stahl walked over to the sofa and sat next to Alycia." I have no idea what your obsession is with this stealing thunder theory of yours. I am not doing this for glory or fame!"
"I know, everyone knows that and you know I am not really out for fame and glory myself, but every school kid knows about the Warrior and even our enemies shake in their boots when they hear your name, given that there are some that wear boots. Ah well I am old enough to have my own little idiosyncrasies." He struggled getting his left leg out of the Armor.
"You certainly won't steal my thunder when it comes to get in and out of a battle suit. In the time it takes you to get out of it, I take a shower have a beer and watch the first half of a football game."
McElligott cursed like a medieval highlander but finally managed to get his foot out and his smile returned." We just solved the Wichita Bone mystery uncovered an old Pree chamber full of alien weaponry. We discovered a new species of Terrans and solved the Human Mystery, pretty much."
That did have the expected result and both Alycia and especially Stahl sat straight up. Richard said." Are we sure it's Pree? We know even less about them than about the Uni."
Elligott nodded." I activated the Pree Sphere myself."
"I am sure you did not call to end your story here. Would you please elaborate?"
Mc Elligott retold the events and when he was finished poured himself a glass of whiskey sat down and lit a pipe. The blue smoke wafted only a few inches and then disappeared as it left the Avatar projection radius.
Neither Stahl no Alycia had interrupted him while he was talking but now Richard said." I wonder if the Uni were the ones that left the Guardian behind on Earth then."
Mc Elligott answered." It certainly is a possibility, but somehow I don't think so. I am sure the Uni have an important role in that and perhaps they did seed human life. We found that the Hanglers, a species of semi intelligent primates also found on Planet New Place came from Saran and were taken by the Uni, but then there is an amphibian Snake species there that has the same DNA structure as life from Ulta. The Ult are not Humanoid or Human."
Stahl said," but their DNA is not so different from us and who knows how Humans would have developed on a Water world like Ulta."
Alycia spoke." I don't think the Human Mystery has been solved at all, the mystery has deepened."
As it was his habit. Stahl used an old fashioned pencil he always carried in his left chest pocket and jotted down a few personal notes on a little paper note pad. Of course he had a PDD and could dictate any notes to it or using the ships computronic, but like Mc Elligott he liked old fashioned paper." That Midshipman is going to serve his third year aboard the Devi for sure!"
"God help us!" Elligott groaned." You and him on the same ship, I am not sure the galaxy is ready for that. If I wouldn't know better, I'd say he is related to you, perhaps a distant nephew. "
Mc Elligott finished his drink bade his fare well and disconnected.
Alycia took the hand of Stahl."You trust me don't you?"
"If a woman, especially you ask that question I should be inclined to say no." He smiled at her."Of course I do."
"You are the only living being outside the Coven that knows who I really am and it is very important that this Midshipman goes to the Coven. The Circle wants to talk to him; this conversation will determine if we join the Union."
"I would lie if I understand what you are, Alycia. When I first met you, you were the closer to a demon than anything else." He held up his hand."You know how I feel about you and I know you are some sort of a female entity from another plane of existence. Heck you are as mysterious as the Narth, perhaps even more so, but you have saved my life countless times and you are the only one I ever considered to marry, but could you explain to me what you want with that Midshipman?"
Her big purple eyes shimmered as if she was close to tears." I love you Richard more than life and more than the Coven and I will tell you now secrets that we have shared with no one.
He said nothing but paid attention to every word she said and so she begun." You know there are many other realities, dimensions if you will. You humans use Quasi Space to escape the physical boundaries of your own reality so you can travel faster than light and use that marvelous communication technology that allows you to exchange conversations over incredible distances. All the members of the Circle are survivors of a terrible war that raged in our universe for a very long time. That war was fought with means you would call magic, but it is just another way of channeling higher energies. Just as a psionic talent uses its brains ability to tab into trans dimensional energies to do these incredible feats. The Saresii for example are physically not stronger than Humans but there are some that can move many tons of weight with their telekinetic abilities. They are not doing this with their own energies, their minds are able to act as a conduit and just as there are humans that are physically stronger than others, there are Psionic talents with greater control than others."
He nodded." I think I understand the principle behind Psionics. Even before the ascent some physicists on Earth theorized that some of the functions of the human brain could not be explained with normal chemical electrical triggers but that there had to be something that acted faster than the speed of light. Something we thought was an absolute and could not be exceeded. They called it exotic matter and now we know that these particles like Tachyons were used by the brain of sentient beings. This faster than light radiation of a human mind is what a telepath can hear and use to read another beings mind."
She nodded."Exactly, it is not magic or unexplainable. Once you have the right tools and knowledge you can explain it and even base technology on it, just like our Para Dim Shields, PSI tech and Life sign scanners."
She sighed." Of course you are Terran. The first thing you guys did when you discovered this technology was making weapons."
He looked a little guilty." I guess we tend to see weapon potential in some things."
She waved her hand." Anyway I am getting away from my story. In that universe of ours we called it magic and we channeled similar energies to fight each other. Our war reached a climax and it became clear to us that no one would survive and so the Coven, a circle of female wizards or if you prefer the term witches searched for a way to escape the imminent doom. We found a way to cross the normally impenetrable veil that separates these Universes and we came here to this your Universe about 5 Million years ago. It took us a very long time to get adjusted to this universe, to be able to think and manifest ourselves completely.
At first we had no agenda here. We simply wanted to stay hidden adjust to this Universe and perhaps find a way to take the next step in our evolution, but by coming here we had to make many sacrifices and we lost much of our knowledge and developmental gains. All this is very hard to explain and even more difficult to understand, even for me."
"What should I say? You basically lost me ten minutes ago but do go on."
She sighed." We observed many civilizations here, we saw the Celtest rise to prominence and when the Dark Ones came, we thought they could be the enemy of our Universe and that some also found a way to escape the final battle and we went into hiding much like the Narth."
"Everyone in our Universe knows about the legends of the Dark Ones but nothing of them has ever been found, no artifacts, no records no ruins and none of the old species that were around back then can describe them. Some went in hiding like you and the Narth and those who choose to side with the Celtest were severely punished or completely wiped out. But they had to come from somewhere and if your kind made it across these Universal barriers why not others?"
"We lost the knowledge how to cross these barriers and it might take us millennia before we gain it again."
"It is not entirely true that there are no artifacts of the Dark Ones. We know the Narth guard such an artifact on Narth Prime and the Coven guards another. There is an old legend, a prophecy if you will that tells of a human that comes from a cold world. That human will have to face the returning Dark Ones. We know not when this happens or if it will happen at all in this universe and this time, but Eric meets three of the criteria. He does come from a cold world, he is the only Human that could ever set foot on Narth Prime and maybe see or touch that artifact. He has shared the Hughavh with a Narth and if we understand the Narth Supreme correctly this will turn Eric eventually into a Narth. Also he has this female duality in his being that would allow him to set foot on Coven and learn our secrets and see the other piece. We think that there is a slim chance that he might be the one that must face the Dark Ones. The legend says also, that this Human would have the means to defeat them forever. This prophecy is anything but clear and it is very vague. Eric might not be the one. It could be that he will father that human. Maybe he is just a necessary piece in the puzzle so that Defender can be born. That prophecy was made in a Universe before this one."
Stahl had a dry mouth." We do not know what the Dark Ones are, but we know they had been here at least once before. I never told that to anyone but I think the Guardian who made me and the others immortals had picked us to form this Union to take the place of the Celtest the next time the Dark Ones come and this is the real goal of our task, to make this Union strong enough so we do not share the fate of the Celtest. Only a blind man would not see that this Neo Viking has some sort of destiny."
She took his hand." The future is not set in stone and our actions and decisions shape the way it will turn out, but I too believe the Dark Ones will return. The Celtest were not the first who had to face the Dark Ones. The Uni had to face them before, but unlike the Celtest they did not stand and fight but fled and left this galaxy. The Pree who were as advanced as the Uni and had a very deep sense of justice and love for life disappeared as well, and no one knows if they perished fighting or if they too decided to flee. We think the Uni were human and they seeded the planets with their own DNA in the hope to be reborn that way if they failed to run from the Dark Ones."
"I trust and believe you, and I hope we still have a few thousand years before the Dark Ones return but if there is a chance that this midshipman plays a role in this then we must not stay in the way. How do we get him to Coven? Not even I know where it is and I think I you brought me there after I had to fight the Malag and was near death."
"We had planned to have the Midshipman pick up a small space ship that will malfunction and send him to Coven, but I did not want to abduct a Union citizen and Union Officer, I wanted you to know about it and maybe simply order him there."
"Yes I will do that."
"Your feeling is correct, you are the only male being that ever been on Coven. You were almost gone when I found you; no mortal has ever faced a Malag in combat and survived. It was then I fell in love with you."
Stahl's eyes trailed into the distance as he remembered. The hardship of the Penal Colony, his escape and then he had to run and went into exile and traveled with a band of rag tag heroes and misfits in a rust bucket of a ship halfway across the Galaxy, but that was then and long ago. The Peace Force party was long gone and the Kermac agent acting as Union President, making him an Outlaw was long dead.
"Tell me where to send Olafson and I transmit the orders."
She said." In a moment, Warrior, I still have a very important matter we need to discuss and it was you who started it."
He wrinkled his forehead." What matter would that be?"
"You said something about marrying me. I think this deserves a few moments of consideration and conversation, especially since I just might say yes."
Chapter 20: Security ClearanceEdit
Ross 248 a red dwarf star was only 10.2 light years from Earth and in terms of Suns it was moving fast towards the Sol System and would be the closest star to earth in another 35,000 years or so. It used to be a flare star, but the Wurgus had fixed that. There were three small rocky planets and a relative Small Gas Giant. All four planets were utilized and colonized for a long time. The largest of the rock planets was named Frank Elmore. From space it looked like a dark brown rock that was covered with a fine net of glittering diamonds. The Diamonds were the lights of huge sprawling factory cities; dozens of Corporations manufactured mostly supplies and tech for the Union Fleet.
From the Information Brochure I learned that the Ross system was frequented by 1000 freighters every hour and thus one of the busiest star systems in terms of space ship traffic and that there were several hundred space born factory complexes and no less than 14 Class A Space ports in the System.
The trip from Blue Moon lasted only two days and we were about to land. The Bus was filled to the last seat mostly with technicians and workers returning from vacation trips.
While Blue Moon was the central traffic hub for the entire union, I had switched buses so fast; I had no time to really see anything there.
While the bus made its landing approach I hoped I would find the Gortha Dock Yards right away.
I had debarked and followed the workers and other travelers across a slide belt and through the Customs Check. Before I could even think where to go I saw a man in Fleet Uniform and Master chief rank insignia waving at me." Sir, you must be Midshipman Olafson from Nilfeheim, right?" I was surprised and said."Yes I am!"
He chewed at something and said." I am here to take you to the Dock Yards. Your ship is ready."
"I didn't know someone would pick me up but I am glad I don't have to find them myself."
"I recognized you right away. You were the only passenger in Fleet Uniform and only a Neo Viking could have the idea to travel with some archaic axe over the shoulder!"
I blushed a little," Sorry about that. It is a souvenir I picked up at my last stop and had no time to send it home yet."
"No worries. It sure helped me to recognize you."
He pointed at a pair of Ride-bots. "Hop on Sir. This is the fastest and best way through this mad house! It's Monday after Union week and literally millions of workers return from vacation. These Space ports are always busy but nothing like now."
He wasn't kidding. The entire space port concourse was filled shoulder to shoulder with pushing and walking beings and swarms of messenger bots and small cargo drones filled the air above their heads.
The ride bot was basically an S-10 Robot with a seat bolted on its back, with leg rests where the bots hips were. The bots knelt down and I climbed on mine, while the Master Chief mounted his. The bots rose and extended rotating yellow lights from their chests and stalked into the pushing and shoving masses.
A man in a business suit waved his Credstick at me." 1000 Creds if you let me use your bot!"
Before I could even say something my bot found an open path and rushed forward. It was a mad ride, and I had to hold tight to the handles as the bot changed directions almost every second, and without running into anyone we made it through the concourse onto a six lane slide way . The master chief guided his bot next to mine." I was picked clean three times before I got smart and got me ride bots. There are gangs of pick pockets; they rob you blind before you even know it."
"I have never seen so many people in one spot! I bet there are more people in that lobby than there are on Nilfeheim."
"Seeing all this, I am glad it will!"
"At least you leave. I have to get back in three hours and pick up another Officer."
"Does this happen a lot?"
"Three four times a day Sir, Gortha Docks got an Order for 25,000 Sturgeons and only half are picked up by freighter. The rest is transferred by pilots like you. They delivered 8,003 so far and I am with the Fleet Liaison Office so it's me who picks you pilots from the port."
"I guess you could ask for a transfer."
"Naa I love my job. I just like to complain once in a while. I can be home every evening with my family, as I said I was born here and I am used to it."
Gortha HQ was a Glass and Metal façade and a bright red Project-a-sign. The Master chief wished me a good trip, collected his robot and went back on the Slide belt going the other direction. I never even had time to ask his name.
A Garbini stood behind the reception desk wearing a dark red uniform and the word Gortha on his chest. He checked my order chip and waved his tentacles. I knew he was a he because of his fur color." Your ship is ready on Dock bay eight. There are complimentary accommodations in the Red Ross Hotel across the Slide tunnel if you want to rest before you take off and there is lunch for all Fleet Personnel and if you like you can watch the Gortha Dock Experience in our Corporate Virtu theatre."
"No Sir, I would rather get started, if that is okay."
"Of course, Sir."
He paged someone and moments later a dark gray skinned being appeared, and I recognized it as a Leedei. It was only the second time I came in contact with a being of that species. The first time when I was interviewed by the screening specialist on Arsenal Gate, this Leedei bowed slightly and just like the one at Arsenal Gate had its spidery fingers folded in a very complicated looking way. I said." Did your Sip Sap ever help you get your hands untangled?"
The dark shadowed area that appeared to be the mouth of the being did not move, but it made the same humming sound." It appears you are very familiar with Leedei, which is a pleasant surprise. Very few Non Leedei know about us."
I smiled." To say I am familiar would be stretching it, Sir. I met another Leedei only once."
"I am pleased never the less. Please be so kind and follow me. Your Sturgeon is ready and I am sure Traffic control will be able to give you a lift off window soon."
I followed the being into a People mover cabin and after a short ride exited onto a large Duro-Crete field with at least twelve brand new space ships. The being explained:" We are a contract outfitter for SII Small Craft Division, finishing the standard base Sturgeon Class Courier to Union Fleet specifications. There are eighteen different versions and all are named after types of Acipenser Fish. That is a Terran fish type also known as Sturgeon."
"I think Terrans like to name things after animals form their planet, without knowing that no one else ever seen one."
He hummed again which was the way his species laughed." Indeed I often think so too. In any case you will take out a Type Nine or so called Atlantic Sturgeon. It has the longest range of any Sturgeon Type ship and is well armed for a small ship. Type Nines are outfitted for Border patrol duties."
I thanked him for his little lecture and could barley confine my excitement. All sturgeons lined up colored the standard Union Off white. They were about 60 meters long had two decks and I had to admit with a little phantasy they did look a little like a fast fish, almost shaped like a Rock shark, Without the fins and tail of course. This one had two stubby wings attached to the dual aft ISAH pods. The Leedei pointed at the stubby wings and said." I see you noticed the wings. They have been added to the design as Sturgeons often operate inside planet atmospheres and they do add tremendous flight stability to the ship in atmospheric environments and on the Type nine they are thicker and reinforced to act as weapon hard points. Your ship carries two A20 Havoc Ship to ship torpedoes on each side at the moment."
"No Loki torpedoes?"
"While the Loki's are famous, they are made by Enroe and this is a SII product and the HAVOC's are the SII answer to the Loki program. The fleet is currently testing them and this Sturgeon is part of that test program. In any case you won't need them, but they are part of the equipment package."
He pulled a PDD." So what will her name be?"
"She isn't going to be part of a larger ships auxiliary fleet and since it is only a Sturgeon, Fleet lets the pilots picking them up, name them."
"Elena, I like her to be called Elena if that is okay."
He worked on his PDD and said." Yes USS Elena is registered and added to the Transponder code."
The gray skinned Alien held his PDD under my nose and said."If you would like to sign here that you received the ship in good condition from Gortha Docks Inc. Then all formalities are done and you can take her out."
"Should you not want to come aboard with me and we run a preflight test first?"
"Sorry I am not allowed aboard anymore. The ship is sealed and for Union Fleet personnel only. It carries Military grade weaponry and Fleet Computronics." The being pointed at a bulbous extension underneath the nose cone." That is the main reason and Fleet is very nervous and very picky who is allowed around one of those."
"It has a Translocator cannon?"
I signed the form with my thumb and the Gotha Employee said." She is all yours. If you find anything wrong with her during pre-flight you must first report it to your Command and they decide what is to be done. She is all yours, have a safe flight!"
The air lock opened and the boarding ramp lowered before me and as I stepped aboard the lights came on. "Welcome aboard SII Sturgeon – Version 9-Atlantic. USS Elena. Please complete Identification Process."
I transmitted the authorization codes that were part of my Order chip and the ship's AI responded." Authorization verified and accepted. Olafson, Eric. Command Authority verified. All Systems unlocked."
I dropped my Gear bag; jacket and axe right here in the little Air lock room and made my way to the Mini Bridge of the ship. It was barley bigger than a cockpit of a D12 Shuttle but since it had four duty stations and a real Command Chair it was technically a bridge.
I might have been born a Neo Viking and I sometimes I was confused about my own Gender identity, but at that moment when I sat down in that Command chair, I felt as right as rain and I had neither doubts nor the slightest confusion. It was Courier ship, had no crew but it was a real space ship, with shields, weapons, long range engines, sensors."
I ran a detailed pre-flight check and carefully diagnosed all systems; part of my order chip was a long check list and instructions what to look for.
It took over two hours and included a walk through the ship. It did have a small galley, Crew room with 4 bunks, a tiny Command Officer cabin with fold out desk and bed. A cargo hold that had room for 60 tons or 3 standard containers.
Then it was all done. The ship checked all systems on stand by and all boards green and when I hailed traffic Control, I was connected to an automated system that assigned me Launch Cone and lift off Time."
I had done this many time before in the simulator and with the training D Twenties we had at Basic Training, but this was my first solo un supervised lift off and it was terribly unspectacular as Control required Computronic assist lift off, due to the heavy traffic.
Only after I was over 6 light minutes away from the planet, Control released the ship to me.
I let the ship drift and opened the sealed course and destination instructions of my orders. I was to take the ship to Pauli Station almost 2500 Light years in the Upward Sector and would then receive final destination instructions. The Ship's Trans light speed was 32474 times light speed and I would make the trip in nine days, in other words at least nine days of the most perfect vacation I could imagine. Pauli Station was only 45 light years from Narth Prime and I promised myself to call Narth and see if he was able to talk or use GalNet by now.
Thinking about my friend I could almost feel his presence and I knew he was alright, and would soon be able to return to the Academy for his second year.
Interlude: Not Dead, after allEdit
The remembered the last moments of his life quite vividly. They had led him up to the scaffold, after they had removed all his rank insignia. Commander Stone before him actually collapsed and the marines had to drag him to his spot on the scaffold. It took all his will power not to do the same and set one foot before the other. The solemn beat of the drums stopped and the Executioner asked him if he had any last words. He had none, the night before he had written a letter to his son Swybin and urged him to forget his father and to undergo psycho adjustment treatment so he could try to apply again. Seven generations of Swybar had served the Union Fleet with distinction.
He had stayed awake the last two nights thinking about his life. It was too late to change things now of course. He shame he brought onto his family was more painful to him than thinking about the execution. Had he been able too, he would have saved the Executioner the work and committed suicide. He should have paid more attention to his son's development instead of being blind to his faults. He had pressed his son to become an Officer without ever asking if he wanted to, or if he was indeed fit to be an officer. Wilson helped him to bend a few rules to get his son past the evaluation procedures. Just to find out he was caught by the Worm. Wilson revealed that he was working for the Worm and in return needed a few favors. It was a slippery road and he was sliding a little bit faster every day and it had led him right under the memory metal noose of the gallows.
They pulled a hood over his face, it was completely dark, he felt his own hot breath reflected by the fabric and only now he began to think about the afterlife. He had never believed in anything like that and believed that dying was the end and that there was nothing after it.
As they placed the noose tightly around his neck he started to panic. There had to be something he could do to postpone the looming end. He heard the voice of the Executioner whisper in his ear. "It will hurt a little, because it has to look real."
Then the he heard the sharp hiss of the Hydraulics yanking the cross bar into the air and him off his feet. There was stinging sensation and that was the last thing he remembered.
He suddenly realized he was remembering things in the past! He had been hanged and he was remembering things. Now he felt that he was lying on his back in a constricting box and that he was breathing! He could feel his body; hear his heart beat and terrible dryness in his mouth. He was alive and he was in a coffin! Had they failed to kill him and now he was doomed to suffocate?
What did they do with the body of the executed anyway?
Something was over his mouth and nose and he could breathe easily. A line of light penetrated the perfect darkness and then the lid was removed and he had to close his eyes with blinding pain. A voice said." To the world you are dead, but nevertheless welcome to the world of the living."
As his eyes got used to the light, he noticed three dark robed men standing around the Coffin. All three appeared human, the middle one was taller and he was bald and had large purple eyes, slightly pointed ears and had a strange male face with distinctive female features. "I am Theobar the First Son of Darkness, Supreme High priest of the Church of Darkness. I can see you try to place my origin. I am Saresii and as you can see I am the only one embracing my true gender."
Swybar coughed and sat up, a breathing mask was strapped on his face and he removed it, noticing that he was no longer shackled. He took off the respirator and touched his neck." Where am I?"
"That is not important right now."
One of the other men offered him a cup with water and it tasted like pure bliss. The male Saresii said." It took much effort and much money to get you, but getting an Admiral with all the knowledge was an opportunity my associates did not want wasted."
"The Worm has rescued you, yes, but we paid them to get you. Don't worry we will take good care of you and you will find the rewards of your new career quite satisfactory, all we want is pretty much everything you know. Access codes, Fleet and Union Secrets, that sort of thing. You are not even a traitor, to them you are dead!"
Swybar got up. "I don't care who or what I have to betray or to do. I owe you my life and I give you whatever you want. I have only one goal left in life."
"Oh do tell me what sort of goal does a man have rising from the grave?"
"I am going to kill Eric Olafson! Without him I wouldn't be in this situation!"
"Splendid coincidences then, we have similar goals!"
Chapter 19 continued: Security ClearanceEdit
The thrill of piloting my own ship was still there but not as intense anymore. There was really nothing to do. The course was across Union Space and the only contacts that occasionally appeared on the long range scanners were Civilian ships. I listened to GalCom chatter on both the civilian and fleet channels, but there was nothing else but some chatter between freighter pilots, space bus operators and the like. The biggest thing discussed was some event with aliens that looked like Y'All in a far distant Satellite Cluster.
I learned that Limbur and Wintsun were already back on Arsenal II and I was technically late. Olia was on her way to the Brownstone Branch of the Academy in the Belarom System. She decided to specialize in Communications and on Brownstone was the Communication school of the Fleet. Limbur knew that Galmy was going to specialize as a Ship Computronic Specialist and went to the appropriate specialty school.
Wintsun surprised me with his choice of becoming a Logistics officer. While it was perhaps the most important part of fleet operations, I still wondered why Wintsun has chosen this path, but then maybe he had a talent for it and they suggested it.
After I had talked to Limbur for a while I called Narth Prime, as I had no specific GalNet Code for Narth. I was surprised to get a Human Communications Officer instead of a Narth, and he identified himself as a Simulation." Thank you for calling Narth Prime, currently there are no civilian GalNet Terminals on Narth prime. If you are interested in Narth and the recent development please follow the links displayed below. If you have questions or suggestions or direct communication requests, please record your message at any time and it will be forwarded. Please note that Narth is still in a phase of adjustment and a response might not be imminent. "
I transmitted my ID Code and said."I am Midshipman Eric Olafson; I have a personal friend on Narth Prime. Please relay this message that am thinking of him and hope he is alright."
The Screen changed and Narth appeared." It is the one that shared the Hughavh with Narth! Narth is sorry for not providing you with a direct call code. I am Narth Supreme, Eric and your friend is almost complete now. He will return to the Academy to complete his second year at the PSI Academy and hopes he will be able to rejoin you in the third year."
I automatically bowed before the transmission and said." It is a great honor to meet and talk to you, Sir."
The hooded being had an amused tone in his voice." You have a long way to go Eric, but you are Narth and wherever your path will lead you, you can end it here whenever you want. The one Narth that is your friend has received his new corporal body and his Hughavh is currently bonding with it, Narth has shared a new emotion with all Narth. He is missing your companionship and through him we all know what this means now. For showing Narth true treasures we have long lost or never known you have our gratitude."
"Can you tell him miss him too?"
"Don't you know that he is missing you? Can you not feel it? Narth your friend knows all you feel and think. Perhaps you need more time to develop your Hughavh but all you do is to consciously think and Narth will know whatever you want him to know."
"I will try."
"Then farewell Eric who is Narth. We will need to meet and I need to explain you many things, but the time is not now."
"I look forward meeting you, Sir."
INTERLUDE: Not dead after all, continued:Edit
Swybar was led into a darkened room. A single spotlight shone on a raised seat and a single white skinned being was sitting on that raised chair. It had a black thing attached to his chin, was bald and had snow white skin, a Kermac! He believed to know now who was behind the Worm and the Church of Darkness and now he know just how deep his betrayal would go. He would not only betray the Fleet but the Union and even his home world, but then he was dead to them. They killed him without mercy so he would have none.
"I do not know what you mean by Project 12, but I think you could be the one responsible for my rescue."
"Oh yes I am. I am also the one responsible for you being executed in the first place, but how that happened has to wait. Do have a seat Admiral. I have a pressing matter I hope you can help me with."
A chair appeared and Swybar sat down and said."As I told your associate, I have nothing to lose quite literally and I will full cooperate without reservations."
"You will find the Kermac can be generous, now tell me what you know about Koken?"
"It was discovered recently and it is believed to be the…to be your original home world."
"Yes, but do go on. How it discovered and what was is done about it?
"Because the Siucra attacked an Explorer in the region,"
"The Siucra were our first thrall species but that was over a million years ago. They still exist?"
"I am not up to date on the latest developments, but I am not sure if any Siucra have survived the final attack. They worshipped the Kermac as gods and considered it their holy task to keep the space around Koken sterilized of all sentient life that had the potential of defiling their holy place which was Koken."
The Kermac made Swybar tell the entire events and then the Wizard said." Amazing we did not even know they still existed. Yet there was a Thrall species worthy of our attention. Koken is far from Union space, does the Union have any plans for it?"
"I don't know what the actual plans are, but I know it is considered Union Space now. The Tinkehel have become members."
"Who are the Tinkehel?"
"A Sentient species that was almost wiped out by the Siucra and their home world is only 12 Light years from Koken. I seen highly classified reports of UNI technology caches both on Koken and especially on Koken Moon. I know Admiral Strother of Coreward Fleet Command requested four Gigamon Space stations into that area."
"We must go to Koken and retrieve a few things. How would you suggest we do that?"
"That could prove difficult. I am dead and no longer able to travel freely in Union Space."
"Ah but because you are dead you can. I was told from reliable sources, they have not yet deleted your command codes and the Citizen implant does not record the date of death."
The former admiral rubbed his chin."In that case there are several things we could do."
They showed him to a GalNet terminal and he dialed in and could access his personal files without any problems. A plan formed in his mind, how he could accomplish what the Kermac wanted and to get his revenge.
Chapter 19 continued: Security ClearanceEdit
I was less than a day away from my destination, as the Comm. Unit activated receiving a message from Fleet Central. I verified my identity and the main screen showed the Commander I knew to be Admiral McElligott's Aid." Good afternoon Midshipman Olafson, your Computronic verified that you have reached the coordinates necessary to brief you on your mission."
"Switch to Secure Scramble 6"
I turned the Channel to the highest security settings.
All this did not sound like a simple delivery mission to me, but I verified and repeated my orders. The Commander gave me a sad grin." I know you wonder what this is all about, and I couldn't tell you if I knew, but you better get used to it. You are the only Midshipman I know of who is on the scanner screen of the Old Man. It is very hard to get his attention, but once you got it it's even harder to sink back into obscurity. With that I mean once the Immortals have noticed you, your Career and life will never be the same again, I know. It happened to me."
"I guess you have a point there, Sir!" I sighed and acknowledged.
Pauli Station was a Gigamon Class Space Station, of the same class as Arsenal Gate. While I knew the purpose of Arsenal Gate, I wondered why they had put such a large station more or less in the middle of nowhere. As far as I knew there was no important Navy installation or important System nearby. The closest occupied star system was Novak's Sun and it only had one occupied planet called Novak One and according to GalNet its main export was Oranges and nuts, agricultural products and nothing spectacular or secret.
I could not find any particular reason for Pauli Station on GalNet either.
Even for the nearly inexhaustible resources of the Union and the Fleet, there had to be a reason for making such an investment. Gigamon Stations were the largest Standard Class Deep Space Stations, heavily armed and defended with enormous crews and material needs.
Traffic according to my scanners was light. I only noticed a big freighter and a Space bus in scanner range and then hailed the station. An Attikan with spotted fur and Lieutenant rank appeared on the screen. "Good evening Midshipman Olafson, I have received your flight plan orders and transponder codes, all is in good order. Please approach from Galactic North and release Landing controls once you are in the Green Zone. Traffic Control will take over from there. Welcome to Pauli Station."
"Thank you Sir."
I smiled." Yes those are friends of mine I met at the academy!"
"I am Fectiv's older brother, Factnav. He has told me a lot about you. If your orders leave you any spare time, give me a buzz after I am off duty and we have a drink together."
"I sure would like that. I will let you know as soon as I received my orders."
He disconnected and I smiled to myself. This was a pleasant surprise and I hoped I had a few moments to catch up with him and maybe get the GalNet Codes for Fectiv and Pure's PDD's.
As Pauli Station came into visual range, I noticed the huge station was partially attached to an asteroid or dark moon. Objects like this were called wanderers. Planets, Moons or large asteroids that have been expelled from their original solar system and floated through interstellar space, were hard to find but not uncommon. I wondered if that rock was the reason for the Pauli station.
I reached the green traffic control zone and landed remote assisted in one of the enormous docking bays. A mechanical arm took the entire Sturgeon and placed it in a parking rack on the side.
I secured the ship according to standard protocols, after I had put on dress uniform and checked my appearance one more time.
Pauli Station Port was just like any other Space port. This one was lively but not very busy. The Usual businesses and restaurants gave a sense of belonging. As long as there was an Arthurs one could be sure to be in Union space and no matter how far from home, some things were the same everywhere.
The Instructions I had received were specific and included an address. At an Info Bot station I learned that much of the asteroid was hollowed out and added to the station and the whole complex was enormous, but the Info-Bot transferred its instructions to my PDD and using the IST System I reached Level 175 Section 45, Corridor 14 in no time.
As I exited the IST I stepped into a lobby area inside that Corridor. A man in black coverall and no visible rank insignia sat behind a dark wood counter. The front of the Counter was decorated with a blue glowing stylized eye and the letters NAVINT. Which stood for Navy Intelligence, judging by his blond curled hair and the stern nose I figured him to be a Pan Saran, but he did not wear the polished brass chest armor they usually did. He looked up form whatever he was doing." You must be Midshipman Olafson."
"Yes Sir I am."
"The boss is waiting for you. Please go down this corridor all the way to the end, there is a double door. Go right on in and welcome to the family!"
"Sir, what family?"
"NAVINT of course, this is Pauli Station and this is the NAVINT academy. Midshipman arriving here for his second year, I just wanted to be the first to welcome you."
I nodded a little surprised and then went down the corridor as instructed. Now I knew what the purpose of Pauli Station was, but I didn't really want a career in NAVINT. Was I not supposed to be able to make my own choice? On the other hand I had not yet made up my mind what career path to take. Maybe I had waited too long and the choice was made for me.
Nothing ever appeared to be simple. With a sigh I approached the door and it opened right away.
It was a sparse decorated office with a desk, before it a visitors chair and behind it an older woman with dark short cropped hair.
I snapped in attention and saluted her. "Midshipman Olafson reporting as ordered, Ma'am"
She waved and motioned me to sit down. "We are a little different than the regular Navy; we don't flaunt ranks, or do much of the saluting and all that."
I sat down and said." Thank you Ma'am, am I correct to assume that I am to serve my second year here at NAVINT?"
"Well that would be your choice later on. If that is what you want. For now you are here to receive your new Security Clearance. It is very rare that anyone gets a Clearance that high and I never heard of a Midshipman getting it, but I am instructed by Fleet Command to instruct you for all procedures of the Blue-Blue-Red Level."
I was tested and memory conditioned for the next three days and received detailed instructions. No one knew why or if they knew no one told me. A Saresii Technician wanted to implant a Psi Shield, he explained that every Command Officer and every Navint Agent got one of these, but as he tested me he said. "I don't think you need one. I never met anyone as perfectly shielded as you. I am a Level 20 telepath and I couldn't even tell you are here!"
Just then the Commodore walked in and said to the Saresii Technician. "I hope you haven't started, we have explicit orders not to implant him."
I was still on the examination couch underneath a metal sensor ball while they talked. The Technician said. "No I haven't started yet. It looks like he already has one and yet I can't even localize the Implant."
"He has Narth connections."
To me she said. "Your Narth friends shielded you better than anyone could. Have you received your new code key yet?"
"Yes Ma'am it was implanted this morning."
"You know how to get the day code?"
"Yes, Ma'am, I am to log on in the morning to the Security Network. Identify myself according to protocol and then listen to the day code."
"Very good, now give the day code for today. This is an order."
"I cannot give you the day code unless you have identified yourself according to Blue –Blue protocol to an independent official Computronic system."
"Acceptable! Now where would you find an independent Official Computronic?"
"Aboard Union Ships, all public places such as Union Star Ports and any Computronic connected to Nelson."
"Appears to me you got it. Maybe you change your mind after you're done with that assignment of yours and come here to Pauli Station and specialize in NAVINT."
"And I was under the impression; I just had to deliver a space ship." I could not help saying it with a sarcastic undertone.
"Do you know how many beings serve in the Union Fleet?"
"Not exactly no."
"I think it is in the Trillions and do you know how many of those ever see the Admiral of the Fleet, or talk to him? The chances to win the Pluri-Lotto are much better, now you have met the Old man several times and you are on his personal call list. Getting back into obscurity is almost impossible."
I sighed. "I have a feeling you might be right."
"Now get out of that examination gown and meet me in my Office in twenty minutes, so I can brief you on your mission."
Next Chapter: Nothing Special