|Eric Olafson, Fleet Cadet|
|Previous||Chapter 1 : Leaving Arsenal II|
|Next||Chapter 3: Camp Idyllic|
Chapter 2: Green EdenEdit
Green Eden appeared to be a beautiful green, white and blue sphere. From space it looked as inviting as any garden world. The transport descended through moderate clouds and approached a heavy forested land mass.
We landed on a simple dirt field that had been cleared in the jungle. At the edge of the dirt field I saw a collection of primitive looking buildings made of wood!
There were no machines, no robots, no ships or vehicles and no one waiting for us. Someone from the flight deck addressed us via the com system:" Welcome to Camp Idyllic. Grab your gear and debark through the rear air lock. Hurry up; I have a Schedule to keep and two more transports to make. Wait here and someone will be with you shortly."
Everyone debarked and just as the last cadet stepped of the ramp, the Airlock closed and the transport ship climbed back into space.
It was very humid and hot. The air was pungent with the stench of rotten plants. Strange sounds came from the surrounding jungle. Small insects buzzed all around us. The exposed dirt on the landing field was reddish in color and very moist. It stuck to the soles of my boots.
I counted 150 cadets and everyone was standing there waiting for something to happen, but even after almost two hours no one showed up to tell us what to do.
The crowd of cadets became a little restless.
Limbur scratched his polished scalp." Now what? Are we supposed to do something? Isn't anyone coming?"
His green skinned friend, his name I had learned was Wintsun appeared to like the environment judging by the smile on his face, but the smile vanished as he replied to his friend." I don't sense or hear any sentient being in the vicinity. While I am not a full telepath, I am usually able to detect sentient minds. I feel nothing and I begin to wonder myself!"
The Narth who was standing next to me agreed:" I cannot sense any sentient or coherent thoughts, but there are life forms out there considering us for food right now."
The group became quite worried after he said that and the word spread. At least three more hours passed and still no one showed up. The mood of the group has deteriorated even more. Some complained about the heat, the moisture, the insects and no place to sit down.
I picked up the Fleet issue garment bag that held my spare uniforms and personal gear, shouldered it and started walking towards the buildings at the other end of the landing field. The Narth did the same and followed me.
"Where do you think you're going?" Asked Limbur.
"I decided to inspect those buildings and then wait there. It seems to be a better place to wait than here in the open. I expect the sun to set soon."
Wintsun took his bag and said:" Can I come along?"
I shrugged." Sure you can. I am not in charge here."
"Actually according to regulations, someone has to be in charge and since you are doing something and you are a Cadet Lieutenant you are in charge!"
Limbur followed us too.
A cadet with bluish skin and coppery almost metallic shimmering red hair objected: "You can't leave! We were ordered to remain here and wait!"
"Wonderful. Why don't you wait and let me do my thing? "I said and kept on walking. He yelled after us but I simply ignored him.
About two clicks away from the point where we landed, at the long end of the crude landing field we reached the three buildings I had seen from the air. The jungles edge was about 200 meters further away and the cleared area packed with pebbles and rocks. I did not see any recent tracks, neither of machines, humans or animals for that matter. Anyone or anything not flying would have to make tracks in that surface.
"What is so interesting about that dirt?" Limbur wanted to know as I squatted down and touched the dirt.
"Tracks I am looking for tracks. If you look behind you can see the ones we made. Around here there are no recent tracks and the ones I see are very old and almost disappeared, I think those triangular ones are made by an animal."
Narth also knelt down. "Interesting, by evaluating the surface marks left behind by others you can actually deduct surface movement. It is quite logical. How do you come to the conclusion these surface marks you do see are old?"
"Look at our tracks in the dirt. They are crisp and well defined; I can see the sole imprints of our boots and probably deduct shoe size, gait distance and weight of the person making the tracks. Limbur is the biggest of us and his tracks are deeper than the other, his steps are further apart. Now over here we have a few vehicle marks, made by something on tracks I think, but the edges are round and washed in, by rain and wind. Now I don't know the rain and wind patterns of this world but they have to be at least several days old, since I see no foot prints. I think these tracks are weeks or month old and the lighter foot traffic is already obliterated."
Narth touched his own foot print." This is fascinating!"
Limbur agreed." I didn't even really notice the tracks until you pointed them out to us. I never knew you could read so much out of them."
Wintsun shrugged. "Of course everything leaves tracks. Did you never go hunting?"
Limbur smacked Wintsun in a friendly manner. "Of course not, you know where I am from. Nothing ever leaves tracks in a big city on duro crete and slide ways."
Wintsun rubbed his side." Yes I know your world. Three times the regular gravitation. "
I shrugged. I guess if you look close enough you might even find tracks on Duro-crete."
Narth said to me. "Will you tell me more about how you interpret tracks?"
"Yes gladly but maybe we should check out the buildings first and establish a base of operation stabilize our situation."
"I agree with your assessment of our situation and will look forward when you further my education in the interpretation of tracks."
A weathered sign above the entrance read," Camp Idyllic"
I surrounded the buildings first, and they kept following me. Two of the buildings looked like storage sheds and the middle building was a two story deal made of manufactured wood.
There was a roofed porch surrounding the main structure. It had rectangular windows and a solid looking entrance door. "Anyone here?" I yelled as loud as I could."Hello?"
Narth shook his hooded head." I sense no thoughts or brain activity."
"Well there are life forms immune to Psionics or able to shield their presence. Maybe there are machines or some form of acoustic relay."
Narth nodded."Again you speak quite logical! I am learning much today"
"You keep saying that and I start to believe I actually can do that, speaking logical that is"
Everything looked solid, somewhat weathered but in overall good condition. I slowly went up the front porch stairs and checked the door. It was a simple hinged door with a mechanical lock and knob, but it wasn't locked so I went in. I stepped into a foyer with four doors to each side. A flight of stair leading up and one leading down, the door opposite to the entrance was obviously the back door leading back outside. There was no furniture, no machinery. The air was less humid than outside and felt a few degrees cooler. Wintsun behind me said." I wonder what purpose these buildings serve. They are certainly not big enough to house all cadets."
I shrugged." Maybe these are meant just for the instructors and we have to build our own or sleep in tents or so." To Narth I said:" Do you sense anything now?"
He shook his shrouded head." No conscious thoughts here, but back on the landing field things are going bad. There is confusion and some of it will soon lead to violence. The situation is quite unstable."
"It's not our problem. Let that Admiral Kid deal with it." Wintsun snorted at that and then looked at me."What do you want us to do?
"Let's check out the rest of this house and then look at the other two buildings."
The entire building was empty. There were four large empty rooms on the second floor and a tiled bath with working plumbing and fresh water coming out of the faucets. The lights worked as well. In the basement we found a water recycler attached to a well and an Industrial Power Cube with a charge that would last at least a hundred years. Two sets of Laundry Machines and storage room full of blankets, padded jackets, and stacks of soap and hygiene articles. Back up on the ground floor, three more empty rooms and as we opened the last door of the ground floor Narth said:" What matter of place is this?"
"It's a kitchen." I responded happily." a kitchen with a wood stove, sink and freezer unit."
"How do you know this?"
"Many families on Nilfleheim prefer this old fashioned traditional way of preparing meals over Serv-Matics."
"Fossil heat, raw fish and meat; the images you transmit are, exceptionally primitive!" Narth said, slowly shaking his head.
"I truly appreciate your abilities and I think you are a very nice person. I just wish not every third person I run into can sense what I am thinking!"
"Narth do not communicate verbally at all, we do not use vocal voices and I am not used to be among humans. I am very sorry if I offended you."
His usually emotionless voice had a note of sadness and I felt sorry for snapping at him. So I put my hand on his shoulder." Narth I think we are going to be friends. I will never again be offended or bothered if you know my thoughts. I am sorry I barked at you." I held out my hand." Friends?"
Narth didn't make a sound or move for almost half a minute then he slowly took my hand into his gloved one. It felt cold even through the leather like fabric." Yes Eric, I shall be your friend!"
"So you're welcome to read my thoughts anytime. Nothing to hide really, I just need to get used to all those Psionics."
"We can change that, you know. Narth can change you so that no one can ever read you again!"
"That's something I will consider, but for now let's check out this kitchen and see what is there."
The freezer unit was stuffed with labeled packages and the pantry held Vac-packs of vegetables, meat, fish and rice and other packs with food items I could not identify right away. There was enough to feed an army of many different species over an extended period of time! The pantry was stacked to the ceiling with boxes of conserves, flower, raw food ingredients, spices and condiments.
In a drawer I found all sorts of kitchen utensils including knives. I armed myself with the largest mono filament knife. It had a convenient butchers sheath as well that easily attached to my belt.
"Why the knife?" Wintsun asked, looking over my shoulder into the drawer.
"I feel better with some sort of weapon especially after Narth told us that there might be life forms that consider us prey. Besides a knife is a tool and could come in handy."
Wintsun followed my example right away and took a knife as well."How about you, Spooky?"
Narth turned on the spot as if he stood on a mechanical turntable. Wintsun took several steps back startled by the sudden and strange move. "Am I correct in the assumption that you addressed me?" He then snapped his gloved finger." I believe I understand you exercised the human habit of titling me with a Nickname!"
"Uh, yes exactly! That is what I did!"
"I shall research that more! As for your initial question: No I do not need a weapon."
I padded him on the shoulder."It's what humans do. In a potential hostile environment you are better off with a weapon than without one."
One of the knifes floated all by itself out of the drawer and Narth took it and put it under his long sleeve. He then moved his hooded head to look at us both."Simple Telekinetics!"
"Maybe Psionics are quite useful!" I managed to say."And don't cut yourself."
"Your concern for my wellbeing is duly noted, I shall not cut myself. Even though it might be an interesting experiment."
"I sure don't know anything about your society my new friend, but cutting yourself with a Mono blade is anything but interesting."
Limbur grinned." It is quite messy."
"I yield to your expertise. We do not use Knives on Narth Prime."
"How do you cut your food, then?" Limbur wanted to know.
"We do not consume food that needs to be cut."
"Quite a time saver, I imagine." Wintsun shrugged and handed Limbur a big meat cleaver."That thing has Limbur written all over it."
Narth leaned forward." I do not see the word Limbur on this tool at all. I believe the words read: NSF – stainless."
While Wintsun tried to explain to Narth what he meant, I left the Kitchen and out to the back and checked on the other two buildings placed next to each other behind the main structure.
They where storage huts and locked with simple padlocks but the monofilament knife cut through the wood frame like butter.
"Do you think it is wise to break in?" Asked Limbur, who had followed me and looked over my shoulder while I was cutting around the lock plate.
"Well nobody said we can't. This is a Fleet installation and in lieu of any higher authority we represent the Fleet and should be authorized."
This storage building held pallets stacked with self erecting tents, emergency food rations, construction tools and several power cubes.
The other building was stacked with even more food rations, spare uniforms, water containers and stacks of boxes and crates with other stuff
A bright yellow and red painted dura steel locker with ID lock caught my eye.
On it a sign in bold letters read: "Armory! Authorized Personnel Only".
Narth approached me:" A fight broke out at the landing field. Someone got hurt."
"Let them fight! We got all the food we need!" Limbur made an old but still popular and vulgar hand gesture into the direction of the landing field." It's not our problem."
"Does it not strike you odd, that no one showed up to instruct us? Maybe the camp personnel was attacked and killed by something in the Jungle!" Speculated Wintsun with a worried look on his face and gazing towards the dark green wall of vegetation." I come from a Jungle World and we have colonized it for a long time and still we discover new and often dangerous life forms.
I shook my head." This seems unlikely to me. We would have found some evidence of occupancy in the main building. All this stuff is stored and locked away. No one left here in a hurry or unexpected."
Wintsun rubbed his chin." Makes sense to me but where are they? "
I shrugged:" I don't know why no one has shown up to give us any instructions. Maybe the ship with the instructors was delayed somehow, or we got dropped off at the wrong planet."
Limbur rolled his eyes." That just could be our luck, some clerk filed the wrong flight papers and the shuttle pilot has long forgotten about us. It may take weeks till they know we're missing."
I examined the lock at the Armory. It was a state of the art ID lock. Then I looked over my shoulder and said:" Maybe this is simply another test to see how we react. Until we know for sure we cannot completely eliminate your first speculation either. We should make the best out of the situation. It's not like we are completely screwed. We got all this stuff! I think we should go back and tell them what we found and then see if we can find something in here that can be used to send a Trans Dim message."
They all agreed and we went back to the landing field.
As we reached the others we found one of the cadets lying on the ground not moving, bleeding from a head wound and another one was sitting in the dirt, pressing his hand over a bleeding wound at his neck. There was a hushed silence and everyone looked at us.
The blue skinned guy stood before them holding a wooden stick like a club. His other fist prodded against his hip and barked at me:" Cadet you have left this area unauthorized. I am placing you under arrest until superior officers arrive! Resist me and I will deal with you as I have dealt with those deserters."
I gasped and said:" You are doing what? "
"I am Swybin, Son of Admiral Swybar. I assumed command. I know everything about the Fleet and its regulations. You all will call me Commandant, address me with Sir and only speak if I give permission. Most of all and you will follow my every order. Anything less will result in severe and swift punishment."
The Narth shook his head." Relationship to a ranking officer does not give you command authority. Rank is not inherited but earned by completing the process we all have started by joining the Academy. You have no authority to place anyone under arrest or assume command. "
Wintsun stood straight with a serious face, and said with loud voice holding a PDD before him and it was blinking in record mode:" United Stars Fleet General Orders Section One, paragraph 35 In the absence of higher command authority and during situations where only equal ranking personnel is present, the fleet member taking charge in said situation is by default of his action commanding officer with full authority to issue orders.
The first cadet taking action was Eric Olafson and I herby evoke said General Order. You Eric are to take charge of post and all government property in control reach. Until such time you are relieved of command by proper identified command authority. "He took a sharp breath and added:" Put on record on this day and this hour, by Cadet Alsher Wintsun. Service number 4523232-W-23234."
Narth nodded." He is correct that is the text of that general order and by evoking it and putting it on record it has been made official and legal, he now is our commanding officer. Besides Eric is a Cadet Lieutenant and even though it is a rank without command authority in absence of any higher ranks it gives Eric all the command privileges."
Swybin didn't like that and it clearly showed." I am the son of Admiral Swybar and I am the logical choice here. When the Instructors come they will listen to me alone because a single word of mine can cost their career! You records will mean nothing. Be warned I will report you all as deserters if you do not listen to me!"
A female cadet held up her handbook." What Wintsun said is correct. It states it right here."
Swybin raised his wooden club to strike her."Silence, that book means nothing. My word alone is to be followed! "
I would not allow anyone beating an unarmed woman in my presence ever again. I had seen my own mother being beaten to death and no one would do so again while I could draw a breath or lift an arm, but he was too far for me to reach him in time to prevent the first strike."The wooden club stopped in midair as if hitting something very hard. It splintered and Swybin yelped in pain. The pieces of the wooden club flew in a high arc away. Narth eye slits glowed visibly with a dark red light."You act in a highly illogical matter and your mind is clouded with self delusion of imagined importance."
Swybin held his hand in pain and growled in open hatred." My father will have you hanged for this. No one disobeys an Admiral! You will all hang!"
"Enough of this!"I yelled! "One thing is certain you are not an Admiral. You are a cadet like me and everyone else here. I promise you if you ever raise your hand in violence against an unarmed and weaker person I will break every bone in your body!
I frankly don't know much about regulations or Fleet orders yet, heck I didn't even know we have handbooks! I am in this Fleet for less than a month." I pointed at the wounded."We are now getting the injured cadets into the buildings and see what we can do to help them. There are self erecting emergency tents and there is food and water. It makes no sense to wait here on the landing field. If someone comes they surly will be smart enough to look for us at the buildings over there!"
Swybin fumed:" Anyone disregarding my orders will be court-martialed and I assure you my dad will listen to me! We were ordered to wait here!"
"This is getting us nowhere. I am going back to those buildings and I will take those wounded cadets along. I am taking full responsibility for my actions and you are welcome to report whatever I did to anyone you like. Anyone that wants to come along is welcome!"
Wintsun barked loud and with a stern face."Cadets follow us!"
About twenty cadets remained with Swybin, the rest followed us.
I knelt down to the bleeding cadet and said:" Can you walk?"
"I think so!"
"Alright then, go lean against me I get you to the building." To Limbur I said:" Can you help me with the other one?"
Limbur grinned: I don't need help with that!"
He lifted the unconscious man like a weightless toy from the ground and carried him away.
By night fall we had enough tents erected for everyone. I had them arranged in a circle around the main building as close together as possible. In the building we arranged one room as mess hall and another as an infirmary. One of the Cadets, a girl with skin so black it had a bluish shimmer was a certified EMT, before she joined the Fleet. Her name N'Buga and she found first aid supplies in one of the storage buildings. The one with the head wound seemed alright after N'Buga, the EMT treated him, but the other one was still unconscious.
N'Buga bunched the towel she was holding and grinded her teeth." He most likely got traumatic head injury from that first blow Swybin struck and I don't have the scanners or tools to check for bleeding or fractures. We must assume the worse and there isn't much I can do. He needs medical attention as soon as possible!"
I smiled at her." I know you do your best. We're trying to find some way to call for help."
"If I could put him in a stasis field, which would be the best solution for now."
"I check the supplies maybe they have space suits." Wintsun said who was standing next to us, rubbing his chin and looking like he had an idea.
"What would a Space suit do? " I asked.
"Well let's tear those storage sheds apart and see what we can find!"
Almost an hour later opening countless shipping containers one cadet held up a sealed package and said." Not a space suit but the Cryostasis replacement module for one, complete with Auto Doc."
Two cadets with engineering skills rigged a make shift space suit out of repair tape and tent skin, we placed the injured cadet inside and N'Buga activated the Cryostasis unit. Her face relaxed as the indicator lights went green." Well that should stabilize him better than anything else we can do until help arrives."
I was standing at the door to our improvised infirmary when Narth approached me, he didn't make any sound when he moved." The tents are all up. Wintsun passed out ration food bars and water. I posted the guards as you asked. Two are on the roof and the other two on each side of the camp. Now what do you want the rest to do?"
"Are you sure no one resents me giving orders and all that?"
Narth put his hand on my shoulder." No Eric, the mood on our side has drastically improved. Be assured I do whatever you order!"
I looked around to collect my thoughts. "We should inventory the items in the storage buildings. Ration the food, water seems to be no problem, but until we know how long we have to be here or know what native resources are consumable. I think we should ration the food. We post double guards at both storage places. No one is to help themselves to food outside of meal times."
"A wise precaution indeed, I shall convey your orders! I also suggest we open the armory case and supply the guards with better weapons than clubs and knifes. Only a few are trained in any sort of combat and I foresee we might need real weapons before the night is over!"
"Alright but I am going to open it myself, in case we get in trouble for it, it's only me they can punish!"
"This is quite noble, but I will share this responsibility with you!"
The lock and the armory would not yield to a simple knife so I pushed my thumb on the lock and a voice said." Biometric data not on file. Access denied."
"I am Cadet Eric Olafson. I am in Command as per General Orders No higher fleet authority present. Access to the weapons is vital."
"ID chip information recorded. Command authority accepted. Access granted." The lock snapped open.
The box held ten brand new military issue Directed Energy Blasters. With Narths help I picked eight cadets with the most prior experience handling such weapons and armed them with DEB's, located them strategically so they could rest and eat yet rush to the site of any alarm in short time. Two guns I kept in reserve, just in case.
Then I had them break out the Construction tools and equipped the rest with Power saws and similar tools that could be used as makeshift weapons. I myself armed myself with a vibro blade axe. I still was a novice when it came to blasters and guns, but this was a weapon I understood.
The two cadets with engineering skills had rigged an air conditioning system for the infirmary from parts they found in the store room and they were quite proud as they showed off their handy work. Both were human. The taller one of the pair had black hair and it stuck so tight to his skull it looked almost as if it was painted. He had big eyes and a small mouth, his name was Alberts. The exposed skin of the other guy was covered with colorful tattoos in bright blues and blacks. His hair was red almost orange and his eyes where the greenest I ever saw, he listened to the name of Shawn. It was Shawn who proudly demonstrated the workings of the Air Conditioning system and explained to me." Al rigged it with four tent units and I tied it into the building energy supply box. We can keep the place warm or cold. "
"That's a good job you did." Was all that came to my mind? It surprised me that my comment caused proud smiles. Albert didn't say much, but he had fashioned himself a tool belt and stuffed with all sorts of tools.
Shaun asked "What do you want us to do next?" He looked eager to do something and so did his friend Al.
"We need some sort of central watchtower. An elevated place we can see everything and if you could rig something like a Trans Dim Radio anything that might be used to send a message that be good."
Shawn shook his head." Can't do, Sir, None of the spare parts have transdim spools and without them nothing goes past the LI thresh hold."
Albert said something to Shawn in a language I never heard and Shawn nodded." Aye we could try that."
"What did he say?"
Albert grinned sheepishly." Sorry Captain. I am just so happy that I found Shawn who speaks one of the old engineering languages that we started to use it."
I had no idea what he was talking about but nodded anyway." That's fine. Can you make a Trans Dim Radio?"
"Not exactly, but if we can take one of the DE rifles apart and use the containment field modulator and use the computronic of the ID Lock from the Armory, I am sure we could make a Trans Dim Morse code transmitter. No voice no images and we couldn't receive but anyone with a Trans Dim Set in range could hear us. The Containment field is transdim bases you see and by modulating it we would have a crude transmitter."
"Why do I get the feeling you all know more about this than I do? Have you done this before?"
Albert shrugged." I haven't. I was raised on a ship and haven't been much dirt side, but I think I know pretty much all non classified techs inside and out. That's important, especially if your family space ship is a rust bucket about to fall apart. You learn to jury rig and improvise from early on!"
Shawn explained. "Morse code is truly ancient and comes from Earth pre Astro time. But its simplicity and usefulness made it an almost universal thing. Every Com Officer aboard any ship military or civilian knows Morse code. Besides any computronic will recognize it as artificial transmission and can translate it." Then he added." It's my first time in the Academy for sure, but I was born on Kikenny and being an Engineer is more than a tradition to us, it's a religion."
"Then you should try doing what Al suggested."
"Aye Sir!" The black haired cadet rubbed his hands." I am all over it. And tomorrow I use the rest of the parts and some odds and ends and install a high energy fence around the place."
Shawn was as excited." Yeah we can do that with the box of energy coils! But first let us built a watch tower for Eric as he ordered and after that we build …" The two walked away chatting and making plans. Another cadet I had not noticed before handed me a PDD in clip board mode." Here is the inventory of the food items in the kitchen, Sir. Kaila, Ivax and I are now tackling the other storage locker."
"Thank you, Cadet. Good job. When you done and after your break. Could you make a list of all Cadets, their species and their names?"
"You got it Sir!"
I took the board and glanced at it and handed it back." Very efficient and orderly list!"
She smiled warmly." Thank you Sir. Wintsun was right when he picked you." She turned and left with a light spring in her step.
Night and darkness finally came after a long sunset. Narth was confident he could calculate the duration of a local day after tomorrow.
Nights on Green Eden, so it became apparent where very dark, there was no moon to reflect any sunlight. The stars however where spectacular!
And soon we learned that night fall caused a sharp drop in temperatures and it was getting colder by the minute. The tents had heating elements and we found plenty of blankets and padded uniform jackets and I was certain we would be fine.
Narth told me the situation on the landing field was getting worse by the minute. The handful of cadets that remained with Swybin where cold, hungry and confused aggression and fear tensed to a breaking point. He also sensed aggressive emotions from beings in the jungle and that there was more of that activity now than during the day.
I had the guards equipped with hand held search lights and we worked out a guard schedule. I was just inspecting the tents and talked to a Cadet from Earth, who was one of the armed guards when Wintsun came down the steps of the main building and said" Everything looks fine, everyone is contempt. Sure everyone is wondering what happened to the Instructors, but there isn't any fear." He pounded my shoulder." I hand it to you, Viking you know your stuff!"
"Wintsun, I know nothing and the more I talk to other the more I realize that."
He said nothing just smiled at me and wiped on his feet and I was about to return to talk to the girl from Terra when he said." What do we do now?"
"We wait, keep our guard up and see what happens."
"There are plenty of idle cadets with nothing to do. They want to help and do something! They are eager to do whatever you tell them."
"Alright, let's run this place Fleet like! I don't know much about it yet, and all I was instructed about was food and appearance. So I want the hallway made into a mess hall. Find chairs and tables make them out of shipping crates or something and get a group on heating ready meals. Everyone not on guard post will attend, perfectly groomed and dressed.
Guard posts are to be relieved half way through dinner and also need to groom and bathe before they attend. I want all rooms scrubbed and cleaned and the kitchen sparkling clean. Have a few of them check out those Uniform laundry machines in the basement and see if they work. We need two guys that keep a schedule on the Shower and bath room facility." I spread my arms and said." That will keep them busy!"
To my surprise she and Wintsun smiled from one ear to the other and almost yelled. "Yes Sir that it will!"
I too took a shower, put on a clean uniform, trimmed my beard whiskers and combed my long blonde hair, braided it as it was tradition and then went with Narth to the storage sheds. We looked over the food supply list and calculated we could serve three meals to everyone for about 30 days, and then still have emergency bars for another six month.
"Let's not hope we will be here for that long." I said.
Narth shook his hooded head."It is highly unlikely we will be."
"Still I think we should keep the guard and household with what we got."
"The situation dictates such precautions and is logical."
"You really think I am that logical?"
"I am unable to make a conclusive analysis of your logical capabilities as my exposure to you is limited to relative short time span, but all instructions you have given and all actions taken, show that you follow a clear defined path when it comes to challenges as the one we are currently faced with."
"You always talk like that?"
"Certainly not. We Narth do not converse using acoustic verbal means and I only talk to you or others if the situation requires it. Therefore I do not always talk. It would be illogical to do so if there is no one to listen for example."
"You made my point." I smiled at Narth. "I am sure the day comes you and I actually really understand what the other means."
"I share your vision of this future." Narth and I inspected the camp and the guard posts.
Wintsun joined us."Ah here you are. We have prepared the west facing room in the upper level for you and Spooky. So you have a place to sleep and work. You should also see what the crew had done to the hall."
"You don't think I should use a tent like the others?"
"You are in command and according to the handbook it is preferable to find separate accommodations for the CO when the situation permits it."
I sighed." Let's check out what they have done and then you should tell me why you know that handbook so well
Wintsun shrugged. "I downloaded a copy from GalNet before I applied and read much of it. I like to read and I thought the Academy Handbook would be a good thing read since I was going there."
Narth pointed at Wintsun."This was a perfect example of logical reasoning, Eric."
I actually agreed with Narth and I should have thought of doing the very same thing." I wonder why I don't have one."
"They handed out real printed copies to everyone about six or seven days ago." He showed me a small book with soft plastic cover and very thin pages filled with text, drawings and small instructional visual recordings. "I guess that happened during the time when we went to Archilerb."
"Now I remember! You were the Cadet who gave the Eulogy to the two dead cadets. Everyone knows something about that story, but I bet most is scuddlebud and fairy tales."
We had reached the back door and entered. The empty hallway had transformed rather nicely into a make shift mess hall with two rows of tables with bed sheets as table cloth. Field mess kits had been arranged as place settings and someone had found a Union flag and hung it from the far end wall.
And almost every seat was taken. Wintsun pointed at the crate at the short end and I felt awkward taking this obviously prominent spot, and uncomfortable because every eye was on me. Wintsun leaned over." Since we don't have servers, the food is already placed but we waited on you."
I cleared my throat, took the water bottle and raised it." Unknown is what lies ahead, let us face it like Fleet officers. I know still little about the ways, regulations and traditions of the fleet. I did not ask to be in this leadership position, but since I am in that position you can rest assure I will do my very best. Tomorrow is a new day, we are deep in Union space, and we have plenty of food, weapons, and a great pool of talents, good shelter and lots of work. Our instructors will show up sooner or later. Until then I raise my glass and drink to you and all of us. To the Fleet, to tomorrow."
I drank and sat down and began to eat looking sheepishly around. Not one face of those I could read showed amusement, but I could almost sense the collective pride.
A frail looking Cadet who almost looked like a skeleton bowed his bony head and blinked his sunken eyes." This was a good toast, Sir."
During the sixth hour of darkness, after I had few hours of sleep, I climbed on the roof, where we had installed our makeshift Watchtower, to take my post and my turn of the watch. The temperature had dropped below freezing now. Someone had taped a tent tarp between four posts and used the heating unit as blower making it not a bad spot at all.
I just made it there when a bright light finger suddenly stabbed into the darkness from the left guard position below me and then came the shouts of alarm!"
I didn't know the names of the cadets sitting there, but they where humanoid and one asked me in a hushed voice." Mr. Olafson, what is going on?"
"I don't know, Cadet. But we are going to find out!"
I took his spot light and pointed it into the same direction as the first one. Something large with green scaled skin and six legs was caught in the strong bright light beams. It was so big I could see its teeth gleaming from up here. The beast was confused by the sudden light and had stopped its advance. It was at least 20 meters long and perhaps 5 tall. I shouted." Two gun men to the two o clock guard post. Everyone else remain where you are! "
The beast overcame its hesitation and started to advance towards the camp. I waited for the cadets with rifles to be in position and then I yelled:"Fire at will!" Two sun bright bolts of energy lashed out, caught the beast and the sharp crack of super heated air vibrated in the area. The beast was hit by pure energy plasma, millions of degrees hot; half the animals head was instantly incinerated.
We repelled and killed two more within the same hour and then it became quiet. I could smell the burnt flesh and saw the dimly glowing remains of whatever was left of the animals
Narth who was my watch partner had literally floated up to our position without moving a limb, a few moments after I had arrived:" The beasts of the jungle fear this place of lightning and thunder and won't bother us anymore for a while. The morale here at the camp is of an alert confidence. There is no panic and no fear and I sense they do trust you now more than even before"
"What about those on the landing field?"
"If I would be human I wager there won't be as many left tomorrow."
"We can't let this happen! We have to convince them to come here or at least protect them!"
"Why? The son of the Admiral thinks very bad thoughts about you and it was their free choice!"
"We have to go!" I said while climbing down. Narth floated effortlessly next to me and without making any sound.
"You got some grav device under that cloak of yours?" I asked.
"No I levitate myself using telekinesis. It is quite simple and I am not all that heavy! I can levitate you too, if you care"
"I think I should learn more about the Narth."
"I shall teach you all you like to know of Narth"
"At another time though! We need to hurry! I have a bad feeling about this!"