The First Version 1995 - Chapter 2
This is the very first typed version of Eric Olafson's Story (from 1995) . I put it here out of reguest of my oldest and first fan and reader, who wanted to re-read the first Version that made him start reading "Galactic Chronicles".
I think it is also shows the progress of the story and is a neat way for me to keep the old stuff as a searchable reference.
I woke from a dreamless sleep. That meant the sleep inducer of my seat had been turned off. So I swung the seat in its upright position and deactivated the opaque privacy bubble. I saw other passengers of the Space bus do the same. One of the flight attendant robots floated down the middle isle and started to announce: “Dear passengers we are approaching Arsenal Gate. We will dock at the station in 15 minutes. All passengers with destinations beyond Arsenal system are asked to remain aboard. The space station is a military installation and is off limits to non military personnel. Passengers with destination Arsenal System please gather your personal belongings and prepare for debarking. Gray Lines Incorporated cannot be held responsible for items left behind.” The robot had reached the end of the isle of this passenger compartment, turned around in a fluid motion and continued. “Arsenal Gate maintains a nitrogen oxygen atmosphere and living conditions suitable for oxygen breathing carbon life forms. Non humanoid life forms with special needs are asked to remain in their protective suits or keep their life support devices’ active.
“This space bus will remain docked for one hour and resume its journey to the next destination. Our next destination will be Barrows System and we will reach Barrow System in seven standard days.” The attendant robot repeated his message and I stopped thinking about the past and looked forward to what was lying ahead. I rubbed my eyes and dialed for a drink of water at the serv-matic installed in front of me. Moments later and half a credit poorer I sipped the cold water and looked around. “You’re getting of at Arsenal as well?” Asked a male humanoid sitting next to me. “Yes!” I answered, putting the film cup into the waste recycler. He was about my age, had almost white blond short cropped hair. His skin had a rosy shine and his face was covered with freckles.” I am Derek Simmons from Harvest 12.” “I am Eric Olafson and I am from Nifleheim.” “I am guessing you never heard of Harvest 12, but then I wouldn’t blame you no one ever has.” “Nope I never heard of Harvest 12, but then I don’t think you know about Nifleheim.” He smiled.” Actually I think I do. I saw a National Galactic show on Gal Net. Isn’t that the planet where they have those really big fish?” “Yep, sure enough that’s Nifleheim, we call them Tyranno Fins and they are the biggest carnivorous fish in the known galaxy. Why don’t you tell me about Harvest 12?” He sighed.” We don’t have anything exciting on Harvest 12. It’s a boring planet, entirely dedicated to raise agricultural products. The planet is owned by SII Agra Corp and completely terra formed. If there ever was any native live in the past, there isn’t any now. Our entire planet was sterilized, homogenized, leveled and plowed over a thousand times. We have no seasons, weather control and collector mirrors see to that, but we have wheat fields as big as continents and that’s all there is to Harvest 12, Identical cookie cutter world to Harvest 1 through 56.” He sounded cynical, sighed and he continued:” My father is an Agra Bot technician, my Grandfather was an Agra Bot technician and so was his father. I simply had to get away or I would have ended up doing the same thing.” “Nifleheim isn’t all that exciting either. We have really long winters, lots of snow and lots of water. All we export is fish and Agra Marine products.” He smiled. “So are you going to apply for the Academy or are you going to enlist?” “I am going to apply for the Academy” “So am I! I want to become an Engineer! One day I have my own Engine Room on a battle ship!” “That is a tall goal!” Said a dark sinned being leaning over the back of his seat.” That’s what I am dreaming about as well!” The being was humanoid proportioned, had two arms and three fingered hands, but his eyes where huge and his ears looked like dinner plates glued to the side of his head. The jaws were pronounced and he had rows of sharp looking teeth.” I am Mix.” He introduced himself.” And I am from ThreeOz.” “I never meet a Threeozian.” Said Derek.” Where is your planet?” “I am from across the Bridge. I come from M32. My race is one of the newest members and I am the first of my species trying to become a Cadet!” “You come from M32?” I repeated. “That’s sure a long way from home!” He looked at me for at least a minute without any reaction and then nodded.” Yes it is a long way indeed. I am also sorry for my delayed answer. I had to remember that nodding your head means yes to most humanoids.” “Oh don’t worry about that. Most is just as alien to me and I am supposed to be native to this place. What gesture do you use for saying yes?” “Like this!” His dinner plate shaped ears spread away from his head like opening hatches. “I doubt I could move my ears that far away from my head, even with a lot of practice.” “They are too little anyway. No one would see you saying yes anyway. The first time a Terran smiled at me and I though he was angry at me and wanted to eat me!” “Eat you?” “The display of teeth is a sign of extreme hostility where I come from and usually means. I am so angry at you I will eat you!” “Does that happen? I mean do folks eat each other where you come from?” ”Not anymore but in the old days it sure did. It is against the law to eat anyone now.” “I am sure glad they outlawed it. Otherwise I might smile at a ThreeOz and end up on his dinner table” I said with a smile. Our attention was diverted by someone pointing at the big view screen that provided passengers with a sensor enhanced view of space and saying:” Arsenal gate is in visual range now.” “I’m sure glad we’re through that darn corridor. A space bus would be an easy target for any GC raider!” Derek said with a gloomy undertone. A passenger across the isle, looking older than most of the other passengers turned. “There haven’t been any GC incidents in the corridor for as long as it exists. I live on Nome in the Barrow System, that’s even closer to GC than Arsenal and much less protected and we don’t worry too much. They haven’t forgotten that we almost wiped them out twice.” Derek was not so convinced and answered.” Maybe that should be even more reason to be at least a little worried.” “You forget we still have Admiral Stahl and the Devastator. Whatever else might fail. The Kermac sure don’t want to mess with him.” The man crossed his arms and looked pretty confident. Meanwhile the screen showed the space station getting bigger by the moment. It was a gigantic spherical construct with a thick ring around its equator. Huge illuminated letters in Standard lingo identified it as: ARSENAL GATE. The actual Arsenal system was still one light year away, but no civilian vessel was allowed to approach the system closer than that and all non military traffic to Arsenal had to go through Arsenal Gate. Arsenal was home to the Fleet and considered to be the best guarded system in the known universe. The space bus approached a huge docking gate, probably able to accommodate a full size Ultra battle ship, and slipped through the shimmering energy membrane that separated the inside of the dock form space. The robot repeated its announcement once again and added:” Thank you for choosing Grey Lines as your transportation service provider. Please consider us again. A Ticket kiosk and booking agent can be found at the Gray Line docking area aboard the station.” –‘’— I debarked the shuttle with at least 300 beings from all over Union Space and we where herded to stand in line before the Station access doors. A four armed, non humanoid giant wearing Navy uniform and two heavily armed Space Marines in bulking Destroyer suits checked everyone before they let them pass. “That is a Petharian.” Said Mix. “He too comes from Andromeda but they have been members for a long time. They are as mean and strong as your Galaxies Nul-Nul” “Is it true what I heard, that they are related to the Y’All?” Asked Derek. Mix wiggled his ears back and forth.” That’s the rumor, but not according to the Encyclopedia Galactica. They do look similar to Y’All that is for sure.” I too had learned about the Y’All in Gal History and Xeno Class, but I never heard of the Petharian or that rumor.” How come you know so much about other species and such?” I asked Derek. “I have a subscription to the Galactic Geographic Magazine. There is nothing I rather read or watch. I have collected every issue since 3300 and my brother sends me old downloads whenever he finds them. He works at the Harvest 12 public library.” I felt almost a little ashamed for never even going to the public library we had on Nifleheim. Derek raised an eyebrow; probably guessing what I was thinking and said:” I didn’t mean to sound like a geek, but going to the library and going on Virtu Expeditions with the GGM was a wonderful escape for me, when I was a kid.” I grinned back.” I know what you mean. I spend any free moment aboard Virtu Ships.” It took the better part of an hour before it was my turn. The Petharian Navy officer eyed me up and down with glowing yellow eyes, and it had six of them. Its skin looked like the surface of a barnacle and the voice sounded like coming from the bottom of a steel barrel. “State your name and your home planet. Expose your Citizen ID implant for scanning!” While I swiped my left wrist where my CIDI was implanted across the reader sensor I answered:” Eric Olafson, Nifleheim.” It seemed to look at something beyond me; he probably had the data read out projected straight to one of its eyes.” Olafson, Eric. Nifleheim. Citizen ship confirmed. Your reason for visiting Arsenal gate? “I want to apply at the Academy!” “Academy applicants are to follow the red line after the air lock and proceed to the red waiting room. You will wait there until receiving further instructions. Be advised that if you are found outside red marked areas you might get shoot.” After saying that The being no longer paid any attention to me and barked.” Next!” The red line was a lighted band in the floor. There also was a blue and a yellow line. I and others walked along the line. The red line soon made a right turn while the other lines continued deeper into the base. A red door opened before us and revealed a waiting lounge with rows of bio-netic chairs. To one side of the room where large windows allowing a view into deep space and the brisk traffic of small and large space craft, the other wall was occupied by a row of Serv-Matic Vending machines. The wall facing the entrance had a few recruiting posters, one for the Navy and one for the United Stars Marine Corps. There also was a small podium and a lectern. The room started to fill with humanoid and non humanoid beings. I walked over to the view ports and gazed outside. A wedge shaped battle ship of the new Uni design emerged from the station dwarfing a heavy destroyer nearby as it gained speed and disappeared. “That was the USS Melbourne!” It was Derek who had stepped next to me.” Have you ever seen a real battle ship?” “No I haven’t” “I wonder what mission they have, perhaps patrolling the Nul-Nul border, or hunting pirates!” Mix joined us as well and he said:” My people where at war with the Biraaad for centuries and we where losing. You can not imagine our wonder and awe as we saw an entire squadron of those Ultra battle ships appear in our system, blasting through the Briaar invasion fleet like a Nastooh wind through a Nolch forest.” Mix eyes became even bigger.” We joined the United Stars the very next day and one day I will be aboard one of those ships visiting other worlds. Repaying with my service what you all have done for us.” A fish faced Ult overheard Mix and said:” The Briaar made one big and fatal mistake; they fired on a Terran Explorer ship and made Terrans angry. Everyone in this galaxy knows you don’t make Terrans angry!” Before anyone else could say anything, a humanoid female in black uniform stepped behind the lectern and her voice was obviously amplified as she said: Welcome aboard Arsenal Gate, Academy applicants. I would like to thank you all for coming this far and considering a career in the United Stars navy. By doing so you showed your willingness to serve and protect this federation of civilizations and do your share to make it work. Some have come here after visiting a Recruiting office either on Gal Net or in person. Some of you might have simply boarded the space bus to Arsenal Gate to see what will happen. Here you are all equal. Before we ship you to Arsenal we need to test you for some pre qualification requirements. Those requirements are of physical nature and mental nature. Some of the tests we have to perform are to make sure that no agent of a hostile civilization gains access to the Academy or Arsenal. So one you step through that door you are Navy personnel. You have no ranks yet but you are subject to all Navy rules and regulations. Civilian laws and rights have no meaning. You must follow orders and do what you been told. Failure to comply can result in punishment and Punishment ranges from expelling you from the Navy, losing your citizen status to interment and immediate execution.” She made a pause and looked form one end of the lobby to the other. I am not here to discourage you. We welcome you and the Navy needs Officers and Personnel. But we don’t want anyone who has doubts or feels he or she can not do this. Now is the time to think about it. If you feel you can not do this, please remain in this room and you will receive free passage back to your home world or any other place in the united Stars territory, you will be compensated for your troubles and receive 1000 credits. No civilian record will be kept of this decision and it will not affect your Citizen status.” A man dressed in some sort of transparent purple plastic film and not much else raised his hand:” Excuse me, did you say we get free passage to anywhere and 1000 credits?” The woman sighed and nodded.” Yes Sir that is correct!” The strangely dressed man got up.” That’s sounds good to me! I am out of here!” To my surprise seven more decided to take the money and leave. I wondered why anyone would make this trip just to get 1000 credits. Max answered me.” They do that every 3 month. Travel from Academy to academy get their ticket and the 1000 and go on. They have no intention to join. That man in the plastic garment did that several hundred times.” I gasped.” And the Navy doesn’t keep records on that and let them get away with it? “I don’t know but I am sure the Navy keeps records and they know about it, but what are a few thousand credits to the Navy? They spend ten times as much every micro second just for floor polish” “How do you know all this?” “I read their minds!” “You are a telepath?” He nodded.” Not as good as the Saresii but my Heidelberg Psionic Index is at 130.” “Don’t get caught. It’s against the law to read other folks minds.” “No it’s not. It is illegal to pry into it but I can’t help to overhear what they transmit. It would be same as to make overhearing a conversation illegal to any being that has ears.” “You hear everyone’s thoughts all the time?” “No not everyone. I met beings I can’t hear and that female fleet officer or those Marines seem to be shielded somehow, can’t detect a thing. But your thoughts are pretty clear and quite loud in a Psionic sort of sense. ” I didn’t feel quite right someone else hearing what I was thinking. I knew about Telepaths but this was the fist I ever actually encountered. The female officer resumed her speech:” All those who still plan to apply at the academy are to pass through that door. You will be asked to take off all your clothing and relinquish all your personal belongings. They will be returned to you after you completed your training or you decide to quit You will be scanned for cybernetic and genetic enhancements, bio weapons and microbes We will evaluate your Psionic abilities and give you a physical check up before we leave to Arsenal II.” She smiled.” We have a lot of applicants today so this process might take a while, please be patient and wait your turn. The Vent-matics are provided for your convenience and do not require credit payments” -“”- I went aboard a Leyland Military Shuttle, wearing a bright orange colored jumpsuit. The word Applicant was stenciled across the back of it and my last name was stenciled across my left breast. I had to give up my GalNet Data bracelet and had no idea what time it was, but the whole process had lasted an entire day for sure. I was tired and thirsty. They used every test and every sensor known to science on me, at least that’s how I felt. I had been bathed, sterilized inside and out. Filled out forms and questionnaires and then was probed and measured and scanned some more. “They are treating us more like penal colony prisoners than Academy aspirants!” Complained Derek. Max wiggled his big ears.” To become an officer on one of those magnificent ships, I’d endure much worse.” “I wonder why they do it that way!” I said.” I mean would it hurt to show a little more respect?” Max answered again:” It wasn’t so bad. They need to make sure no spies make it to Arsenal. Do you know how many times the Kermac and others have tried to find out just what Terrans really found on Arsenal III?” I shook my head. “Aren’t we at peace with the GC? Would they risk sending spies and anger the Navy?” “Peace is a relative thing my friend. The GC doesn’t like the Union and they didn’t like loosing this star system to the Union, especially since everyone knows we found something there, something very important. I would be very angry to loose my own front yard to a nosy neighbor and then find out that neighbor found a treasure in it.” Derek shrugged.” I think it is a rouse. There is nothing there. The real treasure was found in the Lighthouse system and all this is to throw the GC of course and it worked for the last 2000 years!” “And you read that in your galactic National Magazines?” Derek gave me a broad grin.” Sure have, but that’s not the only thing I watch or read.” “So what did they find then?” I asked “No one that knows ever talked, but rumors persist for a very long time that they found a Mythor city or ship yard and completely intact, with the entire Tech level 11 stuff ready for the taking!” “They found that I think in 2516.” I said smiling back .Showing Derek I was not totally un informed.” Why don’t we have reached Tech Level 11 yet?” “2516 was when the war ended and the System was signed to us. “ Derek corrected me and Max said:” it takes the average Civilization between 3- 5000 years to reach tech level 3 and over 15,000 to reach Tech level 7. Look at the Kermac. They are around for almost a million years and have not advanced past tech Level 7. Some of Saresii technology is considered to be Tech level 9 and they reached Tech level three over a Million years ago. The Union in general is at Tech level 7 but many consider Terran technology already well past Tech 8. Now the Terrans are still one of the youngest and newest galactic civilizations. When my people heard of the speed the Terrans achieved this, we called it the Terran Miracle.” He wiggled his ears in excitement.” It takes careful long time research to even fundamentally understand the principles of any Tech level higher than yours. I bet they found just what the rumor said and that is why Terrans and the Union advance so fast.” While we talked our shuttle left Arsenal Gate, went super luminal and we reached Arsenal II only 4 hours later.