Epilogue: Meeting on Alvor’s Cove
(Author’s Note: This is a chapter in my story that is not told by me directly. I added it to give those who read my adventures an insight into the politics and events of these days. I have met most of the characters and persons. From various sources like Brain dumps, witness accounts and interviews come the facts in this epilogue. The rest is conjecture and some artistic freedom I am allowing myself.
E.Olafson –Admiral Retired- USotG )
About 20 clicks north of Alvor's Canyon where the mountains ended and the endless sand and dust deserts really began; a dull yellowish colored all terrain vehicle plowed through the rough terrain. It was an old machine with tracks and an engine that ran on a petroleum distillate, black stuff that could be found everywhere on this dusty, dry world. Ban-Ho, the driver and owner of the crawler was quite proud of it, as most of the other desert scavengers used carts drawn by Katthais Lizards.
Ban-Ho hated these lizards mostly due to their revolting stench, because like all Dai he had an excellent sense of smell.
That the other desert scavengers accused his machine of stinking even more, bothered him little, as this was one of the benefits of is chosen occupation, you had very little social contact with anyone once you left town.
Out here he had time to think and talk to himself or his crawler. Whenever he started thinking his mind wandered back and he was once again contemplating the reasons he was here on this dry planet in the first place.
The other Scavengers had long quit asking why he, a proud Dai Than space warrior became a planet bound vagabond instead of raiding ships and planets with his clan. They didn’t ask because he was here already for over 35 years and they all had heard his story by now. Why he wasn’t with his clan was simple, his clan was dead, all of them. He was the last survivor and they all had died because of him.
He was the last of the Tun-Ha Clan as far as he knew.
It was his task as Scout to fly ahead, find a colony or prey to be raided and make sure the target was not too well defended. He remembered it as if it happened yesterday; the Union colony was there, a young colony with all the equipment and resources still mostly in containers, delivered there by the rich Union Colony Bureau. Containers full of machinery, metal, steel, those amazing Union Agra Bots and thousands of tons of food to sustain the Colony until it was self sufficient.
Nothing the Union did was unorganized or desultory. It didn’t matter if it was something little, like their Colony support and expansion programs or their mighty fleets. Other civilizations send out colony ships more or less on a prayer and the hopes they would make it in whatever conditions they found. Not so the Union, they send out survey ships and gathered data and then tailored huge colony packages with all the equipment the new settlers needed and this service was available for free to any group that went to the UCB and wanted to start a new Colony.
He knew all this from the Settlers they had raided before. His Clan chief had never allowed them to take prisoners or engage in the lucrative Slaving business. Only take what we need, and let those who surrender alive, he always said. What good did it do to him or the clan?
He removed the stained scarf from his nose and mouth and spit out the side window, took a sip from his Cooler Bottle and was convinced, like countless times before there wasn’t anything better in this Universe as good cold water. He grunted and took another sip, then replaced the scarf and pulled the steering wheel to the side so his wide tracks would crush a Jahtori Snake. He hated those too, not for any particular reason other than that they had no value. Not even the elusive Brown folks would eat them. There were no snakes in space, at least not this kind and if he had not been blinded by that shiny new and seemingly defenseless colony he would still be with his clan.
He had done only a quick scan, completely overlooking the fifth planet, where an entire Union Battle group had landed and waited for them.
His Clan fought gallantly but was hopelessly outnumbered and outclassed, due to the cursedTranslocator technology that rendered the best Dai Shields useless. What good were shields when the Union could send exploding bombs of incredible magnitude right into an engine room or a bridge? They all died that day. The Union Fleet commander showed no mercy until the last Dai ship was destroyed.
After this failure and being responsible for the demise of his clan it would have been his duty to commit suicide, the only alternative to suicide in such as case was revenge. While he was emotionally devastated to lose his family and everyone he knew; he was not to keen on suicide or to go to another Clan and become an Inb-Tha, a coward who had failed to do his duty and not commit suicide, which was a fate worse than death.
The truth of the matter was that he was a coward, a trait as rare as blue skin among the Dai, but not completely unknown. So instead of committing suicide or joining another clan in shame, the only other alternative was to affect revenge, but how impossible was that? So he had decided to flee into Freespace and make his own destiny.
At Sin 4 he had to sell his Scout Craft as it was out of fuel and he had no money to buy more. In a series of events he almost ended up as a slave and destined to fight in one of the Arenas. He managed to escape, by killing the Slaver who thought he was too drunk to fight, he was a coward and by far not the best Dai Warrior, but he was still Dai. The money he made from selling his ship and most of his gear was enough to get him a passage to Alvor’s Cove.
At first it seemed a bad decision to come here, since this was one of the busiest slave markets in the Galaxy, but he had enough money from the ship sale and paid the Alvor Citizen Fee to the Local Lord and unlike Sin 4, Alvor's Cove had rules. The rules and laws were crude and simple but quite reliable.
After a few weeks staying in a local Hotel, he knew his money wouldn’t last and he had to come up with a way to make his living, especially with the prices for water here.
He interrupted his own musings once again for a moment as he steered the Crawler around a group of large boulders, locally known as Ummerti’s Graveyard. It was called that way because a stubborn and quite unlucky Volting and his five man gang tried to rob a water caravan at this spot, not knowing that it was not a Water Caravan but a war party of the Local Lord coming back from punishing one of the independent settlements in the Glagadrinn.
Five men against a well armed war party...well this is why the rocks were named that way.
These rocks were the last outcroppings of the Bentryidnn Mountains, thirty kilometers behind him. From here on out the Glagadrinn desert stretched over 3000 miles in almost every direction, with featureless dunes and sand.
There were a few small independent settlements all over the place. To the far north east was the Galgus Settlement right at the entrance to the Mitiro Caves where the most precious commodity could be found in a large underground lake: fresh cold water. The Galgus were a weird kind, often called the Brown people, never seen without their brown mantles. No one knew how they looked underneath. They barley talked and if they did in a strange labored way. They weren’t native that was certain because they weren’t here when the first Local Lord showed up only about 150 years ago. No one however knew where they came from. He had no problem with them. He could go there and purchase his water for much cheaper rates than in Alvor’s Cove Canyon city and they eve showed him the underground lake a few years back.
Now as the Ummerti’s graveyard was behind him all visible trails faded, the constant wind, sand and dust obliterated any tracks in a few hours. One could get lost out here, even with good Nav-equipment, because some of the dust was laced with fine metal and played havoc with most Nav-equipment. He didn’t need that no more, by now he knew this desert better than he knew space and in 700 kilometers he would pass Mount Hagir, the very place he needed to reach for this trip
He had learned to read the sand and the dust, and knew how to stay clear of drift sand-bogs, that could swallow his crawler and him in seconds.
There weren't many career choices on Alvor’s Cove. You could be a Slave merchant, Slave guard, Shop Owner, Water merchant, Food Vendor, and Lord Guard, Lizard hunter or Desert Scavenger. This was basically the entire list of professions
To become a merchant he needed much more Capital and would need connections to suppliers. To be a Lord Guard you needed to be Family, the Local Lord only trusted family. Lizard Hunter or Slave Guard did not appeal to him due to the stench, so all that was left was Desert Scavenger.
At first it seemed to him a fool’s job. What could possibly be out there except sand and dirt?
When his money had almost run out he made friends with an old Scavenger. That old man showed him the ropes and taught him to read the desert. After the old man died, he took over his business and did so ever since.
Alvor's Desert held many treasures: Sub Terran Water sources, Tutu Cactus buds eaten by the tame Lizards, Tutu Cactus flowers very rare and hard to find but eaten by the locals for its intoxicating, dream inducing effects. Tutu Cactus roots, reached far into the ground and it was hard work to dig them out, but ground to a powder it became very valuable and bought by Togar males as an aphrodisiac. There were open petroleum pits, the stuff wasn’t worth much but it always paid for the trip getting it and supplied him with cheap fuel. There was the Dawal Lizard, if you’re lucky to find one and even luckier to survive a fight and kill one, then you had a load of good meat, bones and blood that sold for top coin. This and a thousand other things could be found in these endless deserts.
Of course like every desert scavenger he dreamed about finding the Nakh. Legend had it that out here somewhere was a buried Celtest ship. Celtest artifacts the single most valuable commodity in the Galaxy would make anyone even finding just a piece of Celtest metal a rich man.
That there was a Celtest ship doubted no one as one, as Bulmag the Grarr had found a Celtest artifact almost ninety years ago and became a very rich man and with his find started the whole Desert Scavenging business in the first place. The only sad part of this story was that Bulmag the Garr did not enjoy his riches for very long. He was robbed blind and murdered, but then almost all stories of Alvor’s cove ended in a similar way.
Sometimes he dreamed it would be him finding that Celtest ship in his dreams it was fully operational and filled with the most wondrous technology. He would then take the ship out from the sand and fly it in Union Space and destroy everything he could find. Of course this would always be a dream and he would end like the old man, simply slide off the seat behind the crawlers’ controls and die. It wasn’t very far from here where he had buried the old man.
But all in all this was preferable over suicide and today he already earned more than he did in a month. Today he actually had passengers, two Kermac no less.
He had an office in town, the Office of Ban-Ho Desert Exploration and Transport Services LTD, just as he had returned from a long trip. His office was nothing more than a cavern burned into the side of a Canyon wall, but it had a real door, and a desk with chair. It also was his home where he slept when he was in town. He was especially proud of the long business sign that he had glued to the rock face above his door. It even was illuminated and had cost him 98 Polos. He had just exchanged the Old man’s name for his and he had no idea what LTD meant but it sounded very important. That his sign would actually do for what it was meant to do, advertise his business and bring him customers was something he would have never thought possible. Yet the two Kermac that were now riding in the back, stepped into his office and told him they wanted to use his transport services.
Why the Kermac wanted to go to Mount Hagir was any ones guess but none of his business. He knew that a tribe of Browns lived there and there were rumors about a space ship that was landing there. He had passed the Mountain many times and dealt with the tribe that lived there on occasion
It was still a long drive, but his crawler was reliable. He had plenty of fuel, water and provisions. Thanks to the generous payment of his passengers, all his strong headlights worked again and he would drive through the night. In his old Scout flyer he would have done 700 kilometers in less than an eye blink now it would take almost two days.
Their bodies rocked back and forth whenever the crawler rumbled over something other than soft sand. The wayward Dai had tried his best to make his passengers comfortable. He had put thick mattresses on top of a wooden bench he had screwed to the cargo bed and even placed the hard shell canopy on it, he hadn’t used since the crawler was brought to this world and they had purchased a real Air conditioner, Union manufacture with ZP cube that would last for decades. For the price they paid for the Air conditioner you could buy a luxury skimmer or a nice apartment on Kermac Prime, but without it neither one would have made it that far. Everything was dirty, dusty and hot. Everything smelled and sweated and to their own disgust they found out that Kermac too still had sweat glands.
Vinacvier the slightly older of them said. "It works!" He tried t put as much of the annoyance he felt into the tone of his voice, partly because he could not find the balance to meditate and partly because he felt insulted by his partner’s constant checking his beard. He rolled his eyes and added "Leave your beard alone, I will not probe your mind!"
Haforneun did not let go of his beard and touched the little hidden contact, to run another diagnostic cycle and he said. "How would you know my shield is working or not if you had not tried to probe my mind?"
Vinacvier shifted his position trying to find a more comfortable one and said while checking his own. "Because it is of finest Kermac technology and it is just like my shield and I know of only three cases they have failed in recent years."
Haforneun was not convinced and a little paranoia was always a good thing. For all he knew his partner could really be an Agent of the Ministry of Control. There were rumors that they had ways to deactivate Psi shield generators remotely. It was them who oversaw the manufacture of allKermac Psi Beards anyway. Haforneun knew of those whispered stories no one dared to think about, for one innocent thought , overheard by aMOC agent and wrongly interpreted could send someone like him to the Mind-Eraser Chair and all his years of loyal service to the Ministry of Information would mean nothing. That about 40 percent of those sent to the Mind Eraser did not survive the procedure was seen by most as a blessing.
Like everyone Haforneun had seen Mind Erasing as it was mandatory for all Kermac kids to see at least six ME procedures before the age of ten. The Kermac Democratic Party provided everything for its citizens and knew much better what was good for an individual of course.
He added the last thought just in case his partner did listen in after all.
Vinacvier his partner on this mission was like him from the Ministry of Information- Field Activity division. It was a big ministry but still he had never seen Vinacvier before. He often wondered how the Saresii, the only other civilization he knew where everyone was a Telepath got along so well, and as far as he heard completely without Mental Shield generators and Ability enhancers. The former Wizard of Information, the one that so suddenly went into retirement, told him once that the Union had strict laws that prohibited the unwanted or uninvited active probing of another mind and that offenders were severely punished. Haforneun was interrupted in his musings by his partner who used several low life curse words as the Crawler bumped over another obstacle, he then said.”I sure hope this coward of a Dai knows where he is going!"
Haforneun had monitored most of the Dai’s thoughts and nodded. "He does. He knows this forsaken environment like few others and his mind is clear and open and he accepts Kermac superiority and does not even question our reasons to come out here."
Vinacvier raised his head and looked through the dirty little window from where they could see the driver and he said. "We will eliminate him after he served us!"
Haforneun was now certain his partner was not of the Ministry of Information, no seasoned field agent would say that. He objected to that saying. "It would be unwise. The Local Lord has warned us not to engage in any activities we have not paid for and you were too cheap to buy the Kill License!"
Vinacvier snorted his words in the most arrogant tone as he said "I am not paying 1 Million in Polo Chips to some totally inconsequent lower life form on a similar inconsequent planet. I will punish this Local Lord and make him dig out his own innards for is insolence before we leave!"
Raising his hands trying to temper his partner with the gesture for patience, Haforneun said. "This world might not be as inconsequent as you make it. There are Celtest artifacts out here and it is here we going to meet the Purple Worm I doubt he choose this world at mere random for this meeting."
Totally ignoring the subtle hand signs, Vinacvier made a brushing commanding gesture and said. "All the more reason we should set up a base of operations here, take over the local crime lords control and search for the Celtest artifacts with modern equipment and tear this dust ball apart."
Haforneun was almost tempted to openly ask his partner if he was a MOC agent, they always talked that way. Blind to the fact that the Universe included others, not just the Kermac; again he objected by saying. "It is unwise to provoke a war. We know for a fact there are Agents of the Nul and the Shiss operating here and it would be foolish to assume the Union has no eyes and ears on this planet.” To Haforneun it was frustrating to hear the response of his partner that was full of ignorance. Vinacvier said.”I extended my mind and I have not sensed any Shiss, Nul or Union Spies. The only shielded minds I encountered were a few Sojonit Priestesses and I have a good mind to visit the temple after we are done with this, now that be Polo coins well spend!”
Haforneun actually raised his voice a notch as he protested. "The funds made available to us are meant to pay for information gathering not personal indulgences. I should report you!”
Vinacvier touched his beard and said. “No one really pays much attention to a 67th tier Kermac Information Field Agent. The Grand Wizard is quite displeased with your Ministry and the recent failures and there were a lot of necessary personnel adjustments lately. On the contrary a 58th tier Kermac Control Ministry Agent with direct orders of the Grand Wizard will find open ears. So keep your constant objections to yourself, or it could happen you find yourself free of all thoughts and personality. I heard a good mind wipe can ruin a fine career permanently.”
Haforneun said. “So you are a MOC agent!”
“Naturally, do you think we let you bumblers of the MOI mess up even more?”
Haforneun smiled coldly. “Fortunes turn quickly since our Wise Grand wizard has declared himself the voice of the Democratic Party. It is success and results the Grand wizard counts and not attempts.”
Vinacvier wiggled his finger. “You walk on dangerous ground, my subordinate MOI agent.”
The MOI agent kept smiling and said. “Do you know what we at the MOI do better than you at MOC?” Vinacvier made and insulting gesture.”Nothing of course!”
“We gather information and it is clear to me now that you have not heard the latest news, or information that is. The Grand wizard is not pleased at all that Project Cunck has failed. Was this not a project the MOC was conducting all on its own, with trillions of GDP and resources lost. I wonder what the Grand Wizard will say to that, perhaps some necessary personnel adjustments are in order.”
Vinacvier could not keep his mouth from gaping. “How do you know this?”
Haforneun lost his smile and said. “I am of the Ministry of Information; it is our business to know things.”
Vinacvier knew his partner didn’t lie or make this up and he was quite right, it could mean personnel changes. Ever since the Grand Wizard had returned from his secret trip to Koken so much had changed. He said much less arrogant.” What happened? The project went so well!” “I have not heard many details, but it appears that Takkian Civilians discovered the Cunck and found it to be their kin and their God. A Delegation of the Big Four is on their way to confirm that the Cunck is related to the Takkians and this area of space will become Union.”
Vinacvier could not ask any more questions as a sudden jolt shook both Kermacs to the bones and the Crawler came to a sudden stop.
They both realized they had not paid any attention to the thoughts of the driver and now the driver was gone, he could no longer sense him anywhere.
They grabbed their weapons, dialed their Psi Power amplifiers to high and with activated personal shields they went outside.
There was a single being and it wore a purple cloak over a deformed looking body. The figure said. "I decided to chance the location of our meeting. Instead of the mountain we can do it right here. Especially since you have a Special Strike team land at the mountain as we speak.
Haforneun had no idea there was supposed to be a Strike team. Mounting a military operation in this region of space was not a good idea. He was told to normalize relations so cooperation could be achieved. The Worm had deep connections into the Union and even though their last cooperation failed, it was believed that failure was due to miss communication He glanced over to his Associate and Vinacvier was not surprised in the least. “The strike team will make sure you cannot leave this planet, Worm! A few hundred kilometers mean little to the team and they will be here in moments.
The Purple worm laughed. "Maybe that is the real reason your species is on the decline. Kermac always rely on other species to do their fighting for them. Do you know I have a spy satellite in orbit, a wonderful little device recording a Kermac Cruiser in orbit around Alvor’s Cove? I think I broadcast that now along with a few nice close ups of the Strike team all across the Galaxy You might be interested to know that the . Local Lord is already calling the Togar and the Nul for help. I wonder what will happen if the Nul and the Union receive evidence you violated the treaty again.” The Purple Being turned to walk away into the night.” Was nice to meet you two, I guess it will be the last time I see real live Kermac.”
Vinacvier activated a Communications device in his beard and yelled.”Abort mission, I repeat abort mission and retreat as fast as you can to Kermac space.”
The Worm said. "That was a wise decision." Then the Worm raised his arms and the sand all around came to live, hundreds of heavily armed sand colored beings rose from the dust. The shrouded beings were totally undetectable even by the Psionics of the Kermac, they weren’t defenseless and Haforneun said with an amplified voice. “I was sent here to re-open our cooperation and do it on an equal footing and sharing all information. I must apologize for the addicts of my Partner, but we are Kermac and we are not kids or to be trifled with and he gathered his Psionic energies and created a cutting thought, splitting a nearby boulder.”I can do this to minds and bodies as well!”
The Worm declined his upper Torso and spread his arms. “Then let us converse in more amiable settings.”
The brown creatures did not move like humans, more like primates and they begun to erect a tent.
Vinacvier whispered. “I did not know you were one of the few talented ones that could form a cutting thought.”
“There is much you don’t know.”
The tent went up fast and the Worm invited them inside. Chair had been placed and one of the brown creatures brought in a case of Kermiliq inside a cooler case. Another provided small tables and cups.
The Worm gestured the Kermac to have a seat. He sat down across them." Help yourself to the Kermiliq, it is genuine Kermac. It is cooled and I assure you not tampered with in any way."
Haforneun was still furious that he was kept in the dark and took one of the Bottles, opened it and did not bother with a Cup. He knew it was very primitive and without manners but he was thirstier than he realized. The slightly tardy taste and the moisture of his favorite drink did wonders to his mood and condition.
Vinacvier ignored his associate’s barbaric display and said. "Let us get to the point and leave this inhospitable place so we can enjoy refreshments in more appealing conditions."
The Worm made a gesture and said. "You are the ones that again asked for a meeting and paid much to make it happen. I chose the place, here we are. It is you who needs me."
Haforneun said with an apologetic gesture. "Our last cooperation was marred by betrayal and misfortune. The traitor we know met a fitting end. We felt his agony while he was dying and it pleased us. The Human we tried to obtain died on Sin 4 and it turned out he was of little influence. The Narth have already done what we hoped could be postponed."
The Worm conceded with a more hospitable tone in his voice, saying. "Yes the involvement of the Narth has cost the Worm dearly and I fear it will cost us even more. Several attempts to assassinate one of the new Narth Agents have failed and met with such brutal and swift response even by Terran standards that it becomes quite difficult to even find someone willing to try."
Vinacvier was now relaxing a bit and he too took a bottle, but demonstrated quite detailed how it was done properly by filling a cup only a third and take little sips. He gave his colleague a dismissive side glance as he said. "Kermac Intelligence assets face similar challenges and we came to the conclusion that it is very likely you are no mere Criminal Mastermind but that the Worm is a cover for Nul-Nul Intelligence."
Haforneun almost chocked on his soured water and milk drink and the still Purple Worm laughed or at least that is what they thought the rasping sound was. The worm said." It is a good guess and honestly I wish it would be so, but Nul-Nul are neither biologically nor ideological connected to me in any form. However I will be able to arrange a meeting between you and Nul Intel if you desire, as I think this is the reason for your visit.”
Both Kermac agents nodded and Vinacvier said. “Yes this was one of the results we hoped come out of this meeting.”
The worm held up one of his many jointed fingers and said. ”I must warn you, the Nul-Nul do not play well with others and are opposed to alliances especially since the brief Nul-Shiss alliance almost 600 years ago.”
Again it was Vinacvier speaking for them both saying. "We would be interested in a meeting with Nul Intelligence. We don't want an alliance but we all face a common enemy that is becoming stronger by the moment and we can already see the day when the Union will move against the rest of us and claim dominion over the entire Galaxy."
The Worm said. "I somewhat agree with your assessment but the Galaxy is a very big place and there are vast areas unknown to all of us and the time when the Galaxy must be united to face terrible enemies will be soon at hand once more."
Vinacvier slammed his bottle on the little table and barked. "This is the reason the Galaxy must be under the firm rule of Kermac, for we have means to communicate with the Y'All and prevent their dominance."
"A point only seen by the Kermac of course, but for the near future our goals are alike. I shall arrange that meeting."
Here ends Book IX.
If you liked this one and want to know what happens next, join me in Book X: GC. Eric Olafson, Starship Captain