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The First Version 1995 - Chapter 20

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.

The Author

THE THIRD YEAREdit

Oldch20
This was the third and final year of Academy training. Except for some specialist careers it was traditionally aboard an Academy Ship or sometimes a Midshipman went on a ship of the line and got his or her commission in space.

My orders where precise. I had to be on Arsenal IV by January third and no later than 0900 hrs. Space Port Three, main building Standby Lobby 34 and wait there until further orders are given. Zezz had the Hyperion touch down right here and took me to the Lobby himself. We shook hands once more and Zezzh actually gave me a hug! “take care of your self, keep your fangs clean and your honor true.” “I will Zezzh.” “One day we meet again and I take you to Milzaaar for Mud worm hunting or we will se Nifleheim together and go for a Tyranno Fin!” “I would like that very much, Zezzh. I would be honored.” He straightened and said:” I better keep going. We have to take the Hyperion of the Landing field. I only got permission to land for an hour!” He waved and left. The lobby was deserted; there was a non-tox bar at one side with a robot tender. There was mustard yellow carpet from one end to the other, comfortable looking seat groups around low tables and the opposite was view ports from floor to ceiling allowing a spectacular view over the immense Landing field. Arsenal IV was a cold planet, and in climate not to different from Nifleheim, but it had no open oceans and the two oceans it has where covered with a thick permanent layer of ice. I didn’t know if Arsenal IV had a suitable atmosphere from the beginning or if it had been made. Standard Nitrogen Oxygen breathers could go outside. Arsenal IV was home to ship yards and the Union largest Space port. The duro-crete landing field was hexagonal and stretched 2000 klicks in every direction. Even the mighty Hyperion looked forlorn on the huge open area. I noticed the Hyperion was the only ship on the landing field. Usually ports in the Arsenal system where busy and ships left and came in at every given moment. But out there it was empty. A lonely Octo-bot rolled away from the Hyperion. Octo-bots where amazing machines, some of them as tall as Battle ships over 2000 meters with up to 20 memory metal , syntho muscle powered tentacle arms. Able to grab fully loaded house sized Containers and lift them with speed accuracy into open cargo doors. Octo Bots also performed maintenance and repair jobs. This one out there was a SII Octo 2000. A two thousand meter unit and the tallest planet bound autonomous robot type in service. “Wow! There is a battle ship out there!” Said someone to my left and I turned. A Midshipman with senior year stripe on his sleeve just like me looked out the view port next to me. He was perhaps a head taller than me and had an almost square, massive appearance. He had a barrel chest in the shoulders and his arms where thicker than my thighs. His hair was short and black and his skin had an almost orange hue. He immediately smiled at me as he noticed me looking at him.” Hey you’re a Senior too!” I nodded.” Yep, I am!” He looked back outside the window and said with awe in his voice. “There she goes!” The Hyperion lifted off. It sure was a sight to see an object as big as a mountain take off. He pushed his big hands against the transparent wall. “I never was on a ship of that size. Have you?” ”Yes. This is the USS Hyperion. It is the ship I came in with.” “You’re kidding me right? I mean you came on a Battle ship?” “No I am not kidding you.” He held out his hand.” I am Mao-Mao.” I took his hand and mine almost disappeared in his.” I am Eric Olafson.” “Sure glad to meet you. Since you’re here maybe we serve together on whatever ship they are assigning us.” “Glad to meet you too, Mao-Mao.” Above his Senior stripe he showed the crossed gun barrels of tactical. His ribbon display showed him to be a blaster marksman and hand to hand expert. His eyes widened.” Is this what I think it is?” “I am not sure what you are talking about.” “That blue ribbon with stars on your chest. That is the Medal of Honor is it not?” “It is.” “Wow I say! That is something!” Before he could ask me why he got it, the lobby doors parted and a huge spider crawled in! The thing had black hairy legs, eight of them and measured at least 5 meters from leg to leg. Mao-Mao raised his massive arm:” Krabbel, over here!” The monster came fast and surprisingly silent, it reared in its rear legs and spread out the upper four legs, a terrifying sight! The spider embraced Mao-Mao with those legs and pulled him close to the enormous mandibles and many eyes that made up its face. Mao didn’t struggle at all he put his massive arms around the spider’s body.” Good to see you again!” Mao untangled himself from the spider’s arms and said.” Krabbel meet Eric Olafson! He got the Medal of Honor!” To me he said.” This is Krabbel from Archa and first of his kind to join the Navy. He is a good friend!” “nice to meet you Krabbel.” The voice of the spider came out of a voice box that was attached to his uniform. The spider’s body was dressed in Navy black and he too wore Senior stripes and the Navigator logo. I could barley hear the spiders original voice and thought it must been in the ultrasound range.” Is it true, you got the MOH?” ”Yes it is.” “They don’t give that one for perfect class attendance.” Mao boxed the spider into the side.” So what ship have they assigned you?” “I don’t know. All I was told to be here at this lobby. I sure hope we serve together! Do you know who else is here?” “No,” Mao said.” I just met Eric there.” “Cirruit and Hans are here too. I saw them both. Cirruit is shopping at the main concourse!” Mao laughed.” Wonderful. I bet he borrowed money too!” Krabbel spread his upper legs.” You know Cirruit. He can’t let a bargain pass by.” Mao put his hand on my shoulder as if he knew me for a long time.” You are going to like those two. We went to basic together and they are good friends!” More and more Senior cadets arrived and immediately formed groups. Everyone knew someone else and I hoped I would see Narth or one of the others from the first years as well. Another monster came through the doors. This one was humanoid in appearance but barley fit through the door. I estimated him to be at least 3 and a half meters tall and at least a meter wide. He had legs like tree trunks and arms bulging with muscles bigger around than probably my entire body. He had no neck but a human face, but with broad nose big mouth and brows. He was bald and the floor vibrated slightly as he came over. Mao said. “This is Hans Neugruber, as you can see he is a Saturnian. I never seen a Saturnian and only heard about them. Like the Stellaris, Saturnians where the result of a Genetic tailoring project long time ago. In their case the designing company wanted to design the perfect fighting soldier able to function even under gravitations that would crush other beings. A Saturnian I had heard could stand upright and walk under 45 times the standard gravitation and after being declared an independent species they choose New Saturn as their home. The planet was a giant among solid surface planets and with a gravitational pull of 30 gees above standard the most extreme planet occupied. His thumb was an s big as my hand and as I shook it I thought I exchanged formalities with a cargo handling robot. I almost didn’t notice the chrome skinned being next to him but Mao introduced him.” That is Cirruit; he is an X101 as you can see.” “Cirruit, Hans this is Eric Olafson a new friend.” X1o1’s where an enigmatic race of androids and once been members of the Galactic Council. He was like all x101’s 200 centimeters tall. His skin was like polished chrome metal and his face was as if an abstract artist sculpted a human face. He had a nose, eyes and mouth, even ears, but the nose had no nostrils, or holes. The ears had no loops and where seamlessly integrated in his head. The yes glowed deep red and his mouth had no teeth or tongue. He looked more machine like than most robots. His hand slick as water however felt surprisingly warm. He also was loaded with shopping bags.” Mao can I borrow 200 Creds? I saw an awesome real sword replica from Earth I must have!” “Sorry Cirruit. I am almost broke.” I just reached for my Cred strip and handed it to him. “Why don’t you use mine? There should be enough on it to make all your purchases.” I hadn’t spend a micro credit during the entire second year and my father had kept his word and transferred my share of the family treasure, so I had almost 2 Million credits on the strip. Cirruit, despite his seemingly expressionless face showed surprise.” Mother-machine and makers! 2 Million Credits! What are you, Rex Schwartz’s son?” ”No just a New Viking from Nifleheim. I got an inheritance and didn’t find the time last year to spend any.” “Leave that to Cirruit!” Laughed Mao.” He spends it before breakfast!” Cirruit looked at me.” You don’t even know me. “If we serve together that might chance and if not, it is just money.” “I won’t forget that and I pay you back too! I just need perhaps 200 or so.” Cirruit eyed his Multi-Comm.” I still have 20 minutes. I will be back!” “You need to look at the time? I thought you’re an X101?” Cirruit groaned.” Yes I am and I heard all the X101 jokes too. I am a machine yes, but I can’t calculate faster than you, I can’t tell the time without looking at a chronometer and I forget things!” He went to the door.” I talk to you in a little while. I need to go to the store for now.”

I estimated there where at least a hundred Senior year cadets in the lobby. Mao scratched his skin.” I bet we are going all on an academy school ship. No regular ship of the line takes that many Cadets.” I agreed with him. Cirruit had returned with even more packages and he handed me the credit strip back.” I used a little more than I intended” I glanced at the readout and he had spend about 3000 credits, it barley made a dent in what I had.” No problem at all.” “I pay you back.” “No need. I don’t really need it.” Krabbel returned from the bar holding a tray with drinks.” We might as well sit down and relax. Who knows how long we have to wait and I found they serve ice cream too!” Mao explained.” If you want to be a millionaire all you have to do is open an ice cream parlor on Archa. Krabbel and every Arachnoids of his planet are going nuts over ice cream.” Krabbel held a big cone and said.” It is amazing that we never invented this stuff, but then we never heard of milk before we joined the Union.” A stunningly beautiful girl with long black hair cut in page-boy style approached and said.” Is there room on this table for one more?” “Of course.” Mao and I said almost simultaneously. “I am Elfiatra Petetis and I noticed everyone knows someone and started to group together. I found no one I know so far.” I put the glass of soda down.” Same here I have yet to see anyone I recognize from basic or second year.” She sighed.” I am sorry I usually don’t just budge in, but I always wanted to talk to an Archa.” Krabbel took a glass and presented it to her.” I would be especially honored if you talk to me. It happens to be that I am an Archa.” She took the glass and giggled.” You are kidding me, right?” Krabbel waved one of his legs.” Sure am. I am not really an Archa. In real I am just a Nuflug Bug dressed up like a Spider so I can scare little egglings at Halloween.” “You have Halloween on Archa?” She said and her pretty dark eyes widened. “We sure do. It’s a fun Terran holiday tradition and every Archa is already in a scary costume all the time! The only problem is. every one gets first prize at the Costume contest!” We all laughed. Krabbel had the best sense of humor and I totally forgot that he was really a scary looking alien spider and began to greatly appreciate his company.” Elfiatra pouted mockingly.” Now do you have Halloween for real?” “Yes we do. Only last year I dressed up as a fly and boy it was the scariest costume…not for the others but for me…everyone wanted to catch me!” I had tears in my eyes and my belly hurt from laughing. The girl laughed too. Mao sighed and nodded towards a group of cadets that came towards our table.” The fun couldn’t last. There comes trouble! This is Suppor and his gang. He was a pain in the behind during first year. He is from some Thauran Noble house and thinks his poop doesn’t stink!” Subbor was a typical Thauran. Blue Skin Copper red hair. He reminded me instantly of Swybbar and I wondered if all Tahuran’s where assholes. He was surrounded by eight other Cadets. One of them a Petharian giant with 4 arms and almost as tall as Hans. He looked at us like someone staring an extremely disgusting specimen under a micro viewer. “Look at that Mao the Looser and the vermin from Archa are here as well!” Mao simply ignored him and sipped from his glass. Suppor padded his ribbon read out.” You losers better stand up. You are looking at a Service Excellence Ribbon!” Mao turned and smiled.” Have you seen the ribbons of my friend here? It is you that should salute and stand in attention as it is required when facing a Medal of Honor recipient!” Every eye suddenly was glued on me, even Seniors that hadn’t paid much attention around us. Suppor laughed.” That poser? The Medal of Honor? That is a good joke. He probably bought that ribbon read out somewhere or stole it. No Cadet can have the Medal of Honor, Silver Star or any of those blue excellence ribbons. He is a poser and he will get in lots of trouble for that! You see! I report him right now!” Subbor turned and left. Most the cadets standing around and looking at me started to grin or laugh or make derogatory remarks. Elfiatra leaned forward.” You really have the Medal of Honor and all those other ribbons?” I nodded. It didn’t take long. Suppor came back and with him came a Lieutenant. We all rose and stood in attention since someone said: Officer on deck! Suppor pointed at me. “There he is officer! Isn’t that a court martial offense?” The Lieutenant was a Pan Saran with shiny breast plate.” It most certainly is. Ribbon read outs can not be bought so you stole this one! Oh we are going to have a field day with you!” Another Officer approached this one was a Lt Commander and he was like Subbor, a Thauran. He barked “What is going on here Lieutenant?” It was brought to my attention that this Midshipman here displays a stolen Ribbon-read-out. He even displays the Medal of Honor and that is more than just an offense Sir!” The Lt Commander looked at my read out and then my name tag. He turned to the Lieutenant.” I never saw a Midshipman with these kids of ribbons either. High Representative of a Member species, Medal of Honor, Silver Star, 1st Space Kill ribbon but before I accuse him of stealing have you checked his check his implant?” “No Sir. That is not necessary. This maggot is obviously a poser and we need to arrest him and comment the Cadet that put it to our attention.” The Lt Commander however turned back to me. It was very quiet now and everyone stared at me.” Mr. Olafson. Identify yourself to the Computronic.” Like every Fleet installation there was a Computronic present and I said aloud:” Computronic access please.” From no particular direction came the clear mechanical voice of a Computronic system.” Spaceport 3 Computronic ready for acoustic access.” “Identification verification request. Olafson, Eric. Midshipman Senior year, Service Number 1082320-O-5434. Verify.” “Identification verified. Voice, Menta and DNA patterns match ID implant data and Central Personnel Data.” The Lt Commander said:” Computronic readout of all commendations of this midshipman.” “Olafson, Eric. Midshipman 3rd year. Recipient of the Medal of Honor, Recipient of the Silver Star, High representative of the government of Narth, Personal commendation of Fleet Admiral, Service Excellence Ribbon OPS position USS Hyperion. Purple Heart for wounds received in combat…” The Lt Commander said.” Thank you Computronic that will be enough.” He then straightened out and saluted me.” It is an honor to meet you Sir!” Then he looked around.” There is a Medal of Honor recipient on deck and I see no one else saluting. Everyone did even the Lieutenant and Subbor very reluctantly. The Lt Commander shook my hand and said.” Do you wish to file a complaint? This lieutenant was acting extremely unprofessional.” “No Sir, not at this time!” “Very well then. Carry on Sir! An announcement as to what ship you all will be assigned to will be made shortly!” He turned to the Lieutenant.” He won’t file a complaint Mister, but I sure will. Why don’t you follow me right now?”

Both officers left. It was still quiet and every one was still staring at me. I sat back down and said.” Would you all, just let me be?” Cirruit said:” You can all form a line however and for 5 credits a piece you may stare for five seconds.” That comment relaxed the atmosphere and most cadets walked away and returned to what they where doing. Subbor pointed at me.” No one makes a fool out of me and lives! You will pay for that! “ Mao laughed at him.” No need to blame others you made a fool out of yourself and a good job you did too! “He almost whispered when he added.” And if you threaten one of my friends again you will find out how costly payment will be!” Subbor waved at his Petharian companion.” Noogor will crush you like a worm!”

Hans got up.” Why doesn’t he start with me? Come one Noogor let’s shake hands first.” The Petharian was almost as big as Hans and they clasped hands. At first nothing happened but the Petharian went slowly to his knees and groaned in pain. Hans smiled.” What are you doing down there. We only shaking hands Saturnian style and then you can crush me like a worm!” The Petharian groaned even more.” Let go! Please let go!” Hans did and pounded his huge index finger against the Petharians hard shelled body.” You come anywhere near my friends and I show you what I can do with skulls between my hands!” The Petharian was pushed back with each finger push and struggled to keep on his feet.” Yes Sir I understand.” Subbor really didn’t have a good day and he knew it. He tried to salvage some of his dignity. “I am of the third Family and this is not the end!” Elfiatra raised an eyebrow. “If you think being of a low ranking noble family impresses anyone on this table you’re wrong. Now go play somewhere else. Adults try to have a discussion on this table.” Someone yelled.” Everyone, look!” And everyone did. A ship was about to land and it was bigger than anything I had ever seen. It made sense now why the landing field was had to empty. The elliptical disc shaped object descending was the USS Devastator. The largest space ship in the known universe (capable of landing on a planet) 22 kilometers across 5 kilometers high it overshadowed everything and I was no longer able to see it all. A steel sky had settled over the space port, landing gear was extending and each telescopic foot the size of a sky scraper. Thousands of brilliant white landing lights came on like miniature suns bathing the area below in shadow less light. One could have heard a pin drop in the lobby; everyone was simply awestruck by the sheer magnitude of that ship. But then once voice whispered: We are going to be on that ship!” I watched Octo bots appear, looking like toys compared to the ship. Their long steel tentacles barley reaching the now opening cargo trap doors at the bottom of the Devastator. Cargo elevators rose from hidden compartments in the landing surface stretching further and further up. Thousands of Cargo handling bots, Container drones whisked back and forth with determined urgency. It was a sight I would never forget.

Would I too serve on this ship? My throat felt dry and I needed a drink of water. The prospect to serve my final year on that ship was my wildest dreams come true. I went to the bar to order a glass of water, when a Saresii Officer in black uniform stepped through the door. She looked around saw me and I announced:”Officer on deck!” She kept coming towards me. “You, Midshipman. What is your security clearance?” ”Blue-Blue-Red, Ma’am!” That stopped her in her tracks. “Perfect you are with me!” I followed her away from the Lounge and the others and she said:” I expected to find “Orange-Blue” at the most. How come there is a Midshipman with the highest security clearance there is?” “Ma’am. The circumstances of that are classified and you would need to be Blue-Blue-Red for me to answer your question.” She glanced at me.” I see they also Psi shielded you quite effectively. I followed her to an IST and once in she said:” System: Sublevel 12, sector 602” While I stood across her she glanced at my ribbons.” I bet your security clearance has to do with that Medal of Honor.” “That would be a correct assumption, Ma’am.” “you look like a Colonial Terran, but I see the species High Rep ribbon. What species would that be?” ”The Narth, Ma’am.” “That must explain your flawless Psi Shield!” I wondered what she was up to and where we where going. I had no knowledge of a PSI shield but then I awoke in a hospital bed and there were all kinds of things they could have done to me. I had a Saresii Psionic tech implant once before. The IST stopped and I followed her through a rough rock corridor. With supply pipes bolted to the rough walls. I assumed we where far below the planetary surface and that corridor was dug only recently Two Marines guarded a door and a sign read Sector 602. Behind the door was austere room with a stainless steel table a lamp and a human man in black uniform but no rank insignia. The Saresii woman saluted:” Commander I found a volunteer.” He had gray hair. I estimated his biological age to be around 80 or 90 but with the usual cell-reg and other life prolonging procedures average human life span was at around 200 now, so he could be anywhere between that. His eyes where almost clear and had a piercing quality. “Very good Lieutenant. I can’t read him at all. What is his clearance?” “You won’t believe it, Sir, but he said: Blue-Blue-Red!” He pointed at a small ID reader on his table. “Swipe your implant, Midshipman.” There was no visible readout anywhere and I guessed he had a retinal read out or something similar.” Indeed Lieutenant, Mr. Olafson was not bragging. He has the highest Security Clearance and I see he has close ties with the Narth.” He turned and a part of the rock wall moved aside. From the wall compartment he took a small metal suit case.” Since you are cleared that high, let me explain what this is all about.” “That would be appreciated Sir.” “We are Sector 602. Special Xeno tech research task force of NAVINT and this case contains an object that has to be delivered to Admiral Richard Stahl in person. No one else is to touch it, take it from you or ask you to relinquish it. No matter who will order you or might ask you to take it to Stahl. You are to insist on giving it to the Admiral himself. Any questions?” ”Yes Sir. Why me? Why a lowly Midshipman.” “Because there is half a Galaxy after the object in that box. Even at a place as secure as Arsenal System we must assume that the other side knows and will try to stop it from reaching its destination. Once aboard the Devastator and in the hands of Admiral Stahl it is effectively out of their reach and they will try to prevent that from happening. No one know you, you are just a Midshipman and like 112 other Midshipman you are about to serve your third year aboard that ship. No one will expect you.” He handed me the box and snapped a metal band around my wrist. If this box leaves your hand more than 10 centimeters, it will self destruct.” He then handed me an order chip and a plastic key.” Do not give it to anyone but Stahl and he must identify himself properly according to Blue protocol to you. Anyone can be made to look like Stahl. Do you understand?” ”Yes Sir.” The woman gave me a holster with a TKU blaster.” This order chip authorizes you to shoot with lethal force at anyone trying to take that box from you.” I girded the Holster and checked the weapon. It had a full charge. “I see you know what you’re doing. Checking the weapon shows me you are not new to this sort of thing.” The Man said. “Sir, I am a Midshipman Senior year and my experience is extremely limited.” “Your Clearance and Medals tell me a different Story. Don’t wait for general boarding. Deliver the box as soon as you can. The order chip will clear you for early boarding as well and Command deck access on the Devastator.” The woman stepped back.”You know where the IST elevator is.” “Sir before I go, I must insist that you identify yourself. You could be the enemy you talked about and I am carrying a bomb to Stahl!” the man raised an eyebrow.” Impressive indeed! Ever thought about a full time career at NAVINT? We can always use someone like you.” “I have not thought about this yet Sir.” “What form of ID verification will be satisfactory to you? Computronic?” “Yes Sir, but not down here. You could have rigged a machine that is not connected to the main system and say anything you want. How about the Computronic pick up in the IST?” ”You have done this sort of thing before. I am really impressed!” He walked with me to the IST and said to the Voice pick up.” Main Computronic Access.” “Spaceport 3 Computronic verbal access open.” “Identification verification Commander Reagan E. Greer. 17522-G-4511” “Identification positive. Commander Greer Regan Edward. All other personal data classified.” I said.” Computronic, verify ID Olafson, Eric. Overwrite classification data. Verify my security Clearance.” “Security Classification Blue-Blue-Red sufficient for overwrite. Commander Greer is currently assigned to NAVINT, Xeno Tech Task force 602, stationed at Arsenal IV.” Greer looked at me.” I will request you as soon as you graduate! You are a pro!” Something in my gut told me that there was still something fishy about the entire situation and this was a trap or set up of some kind, but he was a superior officer of high rank and I had to follow his orders. While I was riding the IST up I wondered what I should do. “IST System. Get me to the nearest point where I can access the Devastator.” The System beeped and changed directions. It let me out next to a slide-way that moved towards the ship. The Slide way carried me over the landing field and I was staring up at the metal sky above me that seemed to have no end. It was the underside of a star ship and its magnitude was breath taking! “Move it Buster!” Someone yelled and I noticed I had reached the end of the slide belt. I mumbled apologies and walked a few steps. I had no idea where to go. The cargo doors where a thousand meter above me. The landing feet where in the far distance. “I said move it! You are holding everything!” I turned and a Cargo Handler waved at me with an angry face. I didn’t know what I was holding up but I walked forward and someone else screamed:” STOP!” I stopped and a house sized container shoot up from suddenly opening trapdoor, literally an inch from my nose. A Cargo Drone circled down latched onto the house sized container and lifted it away. Another container shoot out of the ground right after that one then the Cargo handler reached me; he was red in his face and angry.” DO you want to get killed? What in Jeezuz name are you doin’ on my cargo field?” He was a Sergeant so I swallowed the Sir in the last moment.” I am Sorry, Sergeant. I need to get into that ship and the IST dropped me of here.” “There are no personnel boarding yet. No access tunnels have been attached! You need to wait like anyone else.” Another man walked up.” I need to get up there as well.” He was human, tall and wore a black jumpsuit without any markings. He had blonde hair and wore sun glasses. The Sergeant barked.” What do you think I am some sort of Ferry Man? There is no boarding!” I said.” Sir I have an urgent errant and must get aboard. “ “Do you have the orders to back it up?” “Yes Sarge I do!” ”You two stay right where you are, don’t move. This is a dangerous place if you don’t know where to step.” “Yes Sarge!” A Cargo Drone whisked down and the Sarge said.” This is normally quite illegal and don’t get caught. Handlers do it all the time. Step on the Drone claws and hold tight it will get you up there. But hold tight it’s a long way down!” I stepped on one of the massive Steel claws of the hovering bot and the man in the black suit stepped on the other. I held tight to a hydraulic hose and the Robot accelerated upwards in a brake neck speed. The Blonde man laughed and yelled:” Yeeehhaa!! That’s the ticket!” He had no rank insignia and simply rode along. Was he one of the enemies I was warned about? In one hand I held the case and with the other I held to the hydraulic arm. The man however had a free hand and if he wanted he could do something. The ground was far down and the Sergeant looked no bigger than an ant. The cargo door that looked like a small window from below was now a gigantic hole. The drone went and lowered us to solid ground, just a few meters of the ledge and disappeared back down. The cargo hold was immense and the ceiling had to be at least 200 meters above us. Cargo belts moved the containers the robots carried up away At the walls other robots and Men in cargo manipulator suits stacked them in honey comb like shelves. Before I could orient myself and look for an IST two Marines flew across the cargo bay and pointed their massive guns at me and the stranger.” Hold it right there and no moves! We are not cleared for personnel boarding and what you just did is highly illegal!” “Sir, I have an urgent errand of utmost importance and was ordered to board as soon as possible. I have corresponding orders with me!” ”Those better be good!” One of the marines scanned my order chip and stepped back.” Aye you do have an urgent mission. Go right to the wall over there and tell CENTRON you want to go to the Command deck. Centron will check you out and if he thinks you aren’t kosher you’re history.” “Who is Centron Sir?” “The ships AI.” I walked almost ran towards the IST. I just turned and saw the man in black talk to the marines and then he followed me. I reached the IST and the system voice said:” IST resources currently maxed out, next car available in 3 minutes.” The man in black reached me while I had to wait for the next available car. He had a scar underneath his left eye and he smiled at me.” What is it you have to do so urgently?” “An errant Sir.” “Have you ever been aboard the Devastator before?” ”No Sir this is my first time.” The IST Car arrived and I said.” Why don’t you take this one? I wait for the next.” “No worries, Midshipman. I won’t bite and besides you are armed and I am not!” I reluctantly went into the car with him. The system beeped: “Destination?” ”Command Deck” “Scanning ID for authorization.” The man dressed in black said:” Are you from a Water world? I noticed your neck gills.” “Yes, Sir, Nifleheim.” “I bet you like swimming.” ”Yes Sir.” “Well that’s where I am heading for right now. The Devastator has great pool facilities. Care to join me?” ”I would like to, Sir, but I have an errand to do.” ”How about when you’re done?” “Sir I am a Midshipman and I bet my day has been already planned for me.” The IST beeped and moved. “Ah yes you are an officer and probably have more important things to do than go swimming.” He must have been an enlisted man of some sort. Or perhaps a civilian contractor, the Marines let him pass and the IST moved so he must have checked out, I realized I had my hand on the butt of the blaster.” It is not that Sir. I sure wish I could go with you but a Midshipman is the lowest of the lowest, not even a real officer yet and I don’t decide what I can do or not during duty.” “You regret choosing the Navy?” “No I don’t. Everyone has to start somewhere and I am the beginning. If I survive this year and they make me Ensign that is.” “I see you got the Medal of Honor. That should count for something.” I sighed.” Yes I am proud of it but I wish I wouldn’t have to display it. It is more trouble than it is worth.” “I might not be an expert on Military commendations, but even I know that’s the most prestigious medal there is.” “Sir I am a Midshipman, no one believes it’s real.” The IST stopped and the doors parted. “This is the command deck.” The Man said. “After you Sir!” “You are one nervous and mistrusting person. I must say.” But he stepped out the IST and I followed. He was about to walk away and then said.” Where do you have to go? It happens I know this ship pretty well.” “I am sure I can find it Sir.” He shook his head and walked away. I had no idea where I had to go. This was the Command deck but I was certain it was as big as the rest of the ship. There was no one else in sight. Then I saw a location diagram and a Computronic panel. “Computronic, I have a personal delivery for Admiral Stahl. Where do I go?” ”All non command personnel accessing Command level must report to Command and Control. Follow the blue light.” A blue illuminated line appeared in the floor and it led me to a set of massive doors. The doors where guarded by two Marines and a Cerberus robot. The robot leveled its weapon arms.” Command and Control access for authorized personnel only.” “I am Midshipman Olafson with standing orders to deliver a package to Admiral Stahl.” The door opened and a human Lt Commander appeared.” What do you want from the Admiral?” I held my order chip towards him.” I have orders to deliver a package personally to the Admiral, Sir!” The Admiral is busy right now. Give me the package and I give it to him when he has time.” ”Sorry Sir, my orders are to hand it personally to Admiral Stahl and no one else. I gladly wait till he has time, Sir.” “Are you hard of hearing, Midshipman? I will overlook your insubordination but hand me the package and leave the command deck!” “If you want to check my orders Sir, I can not hand you the package. I must insist on seeing the Admiral myself!” “I have you thrown in the Brigg!” Another Officer appeared and he had 3 golden rings on his sleeve. He was the Captain of the Ship! “What is going on here Commander?” ”Captain, I am dealing with an insubordinate Midshipman.” The Captain glanced at me as if he seen a speck of dust on his otherwise immaculate uniform.” What is this Midshipman?” ”Sir I am ordered to deliver a package to Admiral Stahl in person and no one else. If you want to check my orders.” He held out his hand.” Give me that darn package and be gone. I will make sure he gets it.” I still held out the Order chip.” Please Sir if you be so kind and check my orders. Then you will see I can not comply with your request!” The Captain’s eyes became narrow.” Do you have any idea who I am? I am Captain Harris and this is my ship! You will do what I tell you. Do you know what the consequences are disobeying a direct order?” “Yes Sir!” “Then give me that case, now!” “Sir I can not. the case will self destruct if I hand it to anyone else but the Admiral.” “you brought a bomb aboard my ship?” He turned:” Marines vaporize this insubordinate louse if he does not comply with my order within the next minute!” I stood in attention and said:” Olafson, Eric, Midshipman Service number 1082320-O-5434. I am under direct orders of NAVINT Commander Reagan E. Greer. My exact orders are that this case has to be delivered to Admiral Richard Stahl in person. No one else is to touch it, take it from me or ask me to relinquish it. No matter who will order you to relinquish or offer to take it to Stahl. You are to insist on giving it to the Admiral himself. I am not to not give it to anyone but Stahl and he must identify himself properly according to Blue protocol to me.” “And I am the Captain of this ship and I gave you the order to give me that case. You have 30 seconds before the Marines vaporize you!” I pressed my teeth together, and stood in attention and waited for the plasma beams to hit me. This is how it would end. I knew it was a trap and sending a lowly Midshipman on an errand like this was foolish, but I had no choice now. “Well Midshipman do you want to die for that case?” “Sir I have no other choice. I can not fight you, resist you or convince you. I have my orders and can not act any other way. If I have to die then so be it!” the marines shouldered their weapons and aimed. I could see the flickering air of the force field muzzles and it would be the last thing I would see. I closed my eyes. “That is enough! Marines stand down!” I opened my eyes and the Marines lowered their weapons. The man I had met in the IST had appeared.” I am Admiral Stahl, Midshipman. I believe you have something for me?” ”Yes Sir!” The Lt Commander giggled and Stahl snapped.” What is so funny Lt Commander Worther?” ”He peed in his pants! That Midshipman pissed all over himself!” Only then I noticed and shame flushed my face and I had to fight to keep my tears back. Stahl’s face showed no emotions.” Midshipman what is it?” I didn’t even recognize my own voice it was trembling.” Admiral Sir. I was ordered by Commander Reagan E. Greer. Of Sector 603 NAVINT to hand you this package, I tried to verify his identity but I can not say if it is a genuine Order. I do not want to hand you a bomb or be the instrument of a foreign power to cause you harm. If you feel that this package is indeed for you Sir. I must ask you to identify yourself according to Blue protocol.” Stahl’s expression changed and a smile curled his lips.” Midshipman Olafson, there is nothing in that box. This was a test I had ordered. From out the bridge door stepped Commander Greer and the Saresii Woman. Stahl walked to a Wall panel.” Computronic verify ID check Blue protocol. Stahl Richard, Admiral Service Number 02-S.” “Stahl Richard Admiral Identity verified. Blue protocol requires code key and day code.” Stahl said “Day code is Alabaster.” Then he waved at me.” Put your key in!” The Computronic verified:” Identification positive Blue protocol complete.” I tried to open my hand that held the handle of the case and my hand would not open. Stahl actually knelt down and opened my fingers. Took the Case and then said.” Lt Commander Worther, have you ever been in a situation where you thought your life would end right there and then?” “Sir?” “That young Midshipman displayed more honor and courage than anyone could ask from him. To him this was no test. This was real and he thought the Marines would fire! To laugh at courage and determination makes you a pathetic fool and I want you off that ship and out of my eyes. You are not fit to wear this uniform or be on my ship!” Worther grinned sheepish.” Sir you are not serious are you?” ”If you are not off this ship in 10 minutes, I have the Marines throw you out the next cargo hatch! Stay right here if you dare!” “Admiral Stahl I worked hard to get to this post. Please consider my service record!” Stahl waved his hands at the Marines.” See that he leaves. If he is not gone in 9 minutes and 21 seconds throw him out!” The Marines grinned and stepped forward. Worther wanted to say something but then turned towards the IST and the Marines followed him.” Captain Harris crossed his arms.” I never liked him much, but one would need to run, fast to make it in ten minutes.” “It can be done in ten. If not he makes it down to the surface in less than that!” Stahl put his hand on my shoulder.” Midshipman Olafson, are you alright?” I still tried to collect myself and was shamefully aware of my wet pants.” Yes Sir.” Captain Harris said.” You can use my bathroom and auto-dresser to clean up. Am I getting old or is that the Medal of Honor you display there?” I just nodded, and then thought better stood in attention.” Yes Sir it is Sir.” “If that been real you would have earned another, in my book. Now get cleaned up and report to the Bridge when you’re done.” He pointed at a door behind me and a plaque read.” Captains Quarters.”


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