The First Version 1995 - Chapter 3
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.
Arsenal Systemwas an OII Main sequence star with 11 planets. Each planet was heavily developed by the Navy. The United Stars Navy was one of the biggest organizations in the know universe. Over a 5 Trillion beings served active all over the Galaxy and beyond. Millions of ships needed maintenance, upgrades, and supplies. Even the three gas giants in the system and their moons had some installations on them. A Dyson Sphere that would eventually replace Arsenal system was under construction but it would take many centuries before it was complete. Arsenal System was also the most heavily protected and defended system. A cocoon of weapon platforms and space forts surrounded the system in addition to the many war ships and deep space fighters on constant stand by. Sensor installations tracked everything that moved within 100 light years. Arsenal II was a very hot water less planet with a toxic acid atmosphere, to close to its sun to develop native life and in many ways similar to the Sol systems Venus. Despite the inhospitality of Arsenal II over 5 million beings lived and worked here at all times. All this information I got from a vidi-brochure that was playing over and over again on the passenger compartment main screen. Most of the installations where sub planetar, except for the huge landing fields and the Academy complex. The United Stars Military Academy had several branches all over the galaxy, but here on Arsenal II was the Academy headquarters. A collection of buildings centered on a tall cone shaped tower. Lush green parks with perfectly groomed grass, large trees and small ponds surrounded the compound and a transparent energy-field reinforced dura steel dome encased it all. When we approached the Academy compound and I saw the complex from above and it looked strangely surreal and out of place. Green parks, trees and buildings surrounded by a stark yellowish landscape with rough looking boulders, deep fissures and sulfuric clouds, an environment unfit for most life forms. After touchdown we rode a slide-walk into the installation and joined at perhaps a thousand more identically orange dressed beings on a smooth duro-crete plaza. Marines ordered us to join the line and wait before the cone shaped building. The line didn’t move at all, even after an hour or so nothing seemed to happen. The fish faced Ult I seen on Arsenal Gate was standing before me. He even smelt faintly like fish, complained:” I hope this line is moving soon. The water in my suit is getting bad low.” “Water in your suit?” I asked He turned to answer:” I am an Ult. This orange jump suit they gave me is supposed to sustain me just as a real Ult Moisture Suit. You see I am amphibious. I can survive on land but I must return to water periodically to regenerate. In environments like this we wear moisture suits” The Ult was two heads taller than me, and really looked like a Blue Streamer fish crossed with a human being. He had watery eyes a lipless mouth filled with rows of very small but sharp looking teeth. His skin had a greenish shimmer and the outlines of a back fin under his yellow suit. He did have two hands and two legs. The legs out of proportion to the rest of the body, as if belonging to a much larger being. “I am amphibious too.” I said and pointed at the gill slits at the base of my neck.” I can understand your love for water, but are you saying you are in any form of danger or harm because of that suit you wear?” “My own suit recycles the water much more efficient than this one. I need to exchange body waste materials through the skin, and replenish my cells with fresh water. “How long do you think you have?” As alien as his face was, he looked uncomfortable.” I am not sure, but not very much longer. I can feel the water clogging my pores!” I looked around and saw a marine not to far away and approached her.” Ma’am. That Ult received a defective environmental suit and needs help his water supply is contaminated.” The Marine lowered her immense gun at me.” Applicant return into the line! Feeding and refreshment intervals will be given. Until then remain where you are. He wants to be an officer let him deal with the problem. No one will leave the red area! Those are my orders and I shall enforce them!” “Ma’am I don’t think I made myself clear. The Ult needs help!” The Marine woman barked “One more word out of you and I will shoot you!” then she said in a less threatening tone.” What you all do inside the red area is up to you! But no help will be called, until he reaches the building or the refreshment interval is ordered. If he wants to quit all he has to do is turn around and walk back. There are toilets; there are washrooms and he gets a ride home, but if he turns around no matter for what reason he forfeits his chance to apply to the academy.” I wanted to voice my anger about this extremely unfair situation, but the expression on the Marines face and the shimmering energy field at the gun muzzle told me that she wasn’t kidding about shooting me. So I turned back. The Ult and the applicants nearby had heard the interchange. The Ult’s skin seemed to have a yellowish hue and he didn’t look to good. Derek cursed:” What a bunch of ass holes! I mean they can’t let him die. We got to do something.” I looked around. We where still far back. The line before us I estimated was at last 600 beings. The line behind us was just fifty beings all the way to the Airlock door with the bath rooms and a water fountain. If anyone went back he or she would be eliminated, get a ride back and forfeit the chance to apply. Then I got an idea. With some effort I ripped of the sleeves of my suit, tied a knot in one end and said to Max behind me.” Pass those sleeves back and tell the being behind you to pass it on until it reaches those who are still next to the water fountain. Have them fill it and pass it back.” Max ears wiggled fast.” What a great idea!” The being behind him, a human female agreed. Even the female Marine watching us nodded approvingly. Derek who stood before the Ult turned and said.” If I only had some tools. I probably could fix that Enviro-suit.” “What do you need?” I asked. “Well I would need to access the Diagnostic panel first.” The Ult seemed weak and was about to collapse. I reached out eased him to the ground with Derek’s help and said:” Just do it. See what you can do.” The first sleeve came back. Derek found the drain and he fashioned a make shift funnel out of a sleeve of his suit. Once everyone behind us understood what was happening the water arrived much faster and Derek was able to exchange the entire water supply. We also doused the exposed skin of the Ult and gave him to drink. His skin lost the yellow hue and returned to the healthy greenish shine. His eyes became clearer and he looked at us.” I don’t know how I could thank you all!” “Don’t worry. I bet you would do the same.” I said and turned to Derek who was looking at the tiny 2D read out of the diagnostic panel hidden behind a Velcro fabric flap on the Ult’s arm.” What’s wrong with the thing?” “One of the filters is clogged and the e - cell is nearly empty. There is not enough power for the self cleaning cycle!” I turned to Max.” Tell those behind you that the Ult is alright. Convey them our thanks.” Max made a rattling sound and I realized he laughed.” Great news! I convey at once!” A brownish furred being with tentacles for arms, about eight beings ahead said:” I am wearing an environment assisting suit also. I am a methane breather, but I can go without taking a breath for days. The Ult can have my energy cell. I won’t be able to speak however!” Derek looked up.” I need that cell only for a moment. I think I can drain enough energy into the Ult’s empty one to make it work for a few days and leave enough in the Garbini’s cell.” Derek succeeded and both beings had enough energy to run their suits for a while. –“”-- The Ult told us about his home planet and culture. His species was the first non humanoid member of the United Stars. It was also a very old culture. The Ult had been members of the First Galactic Council and traveled space when Terrans lived in caves and competed with the Neanderthal for the dominant species spot. The Ult once ruled a gigantic empire and where considered to be among the most brutal and aggressive species. A religious event changed their behavior and they gave up their aggressive expansion. Then he asked:” You are amphibious too?”
I nodded.” All Neo-Vikings are. Nifleheim is a water world we have only a few small islands. The rest of the surface is covered in deep oceans. When Nifleheim was settled, the colonists got some genetic tailoring.” “So you can actually breathe under water?” Max asked. “Yes I have gills that allow me to stay submerged for a long time.” “Why did you decide to join the Navy?” Derek wanted to know. “I am at odds with my father and saw no future on Nifleheim. He disinherited me and made my brother the heir, besides ever since I can think I wanted to be a Star ship captain!” The Ult’s name was Webb and he said:” That is a long and hard journey. There isn’t a more difficult selection process in the Universe.” I shrugged.” I am not sure what it will succeed, but by Odin I will try.” He reached for my hand:” Humans, I learned long ago like to wish other beings luck. While there is no word or concept for luck in Ulta, I wish you luck with your quest.” “Thanks Webb.” Max then educated us about his species and time seemed to pass much faster. I t was fascinating to learn about the origin and cultures of other beings. The Marines guarding us announced a refreshment period and a hover cart came down the line with robots handing out water and food rations. From the ground across the yard rose cubical structures, bath room facilities for anyone who needed it. The Marines urged us to hurry, but everyone needing to go had a chance to do so. The line had moved quite a bit only about 60 beings where still in front of me. I estimated about 5 hours had passed since the got the refreshments and bathroom break. I counted forty-eight beings that had given up and returned to the rear. I needed to go to the bathroom again very soon. The water I drank had made its way through the system and pushed for a release. Arsenal, the local sun had long set and the dome was lit by flood lights. When I finally reached the entrance door I was really tired, quite hungry and thirsty and in dire need to relieve myself. A uniformed human sat behind a desk next to the door and looked me over.” What happened to your uniform?” “I fashioned water bags out of the sleeves because my Ult friend needed water!” He snarled.” You damaged government issued property. This is a serious offense! Are you aware of that?” “Sir, with all due respect, a life was at stake and I believe my action is justifiable!” “Are you taking full responsibility for that?” “Yes Sir!” The officer made a notation on his desk screen and said.” You might as well kiss your chances of becoming a cadet good bye! The Commandant himself wants to see you! That never happened before! Go through that door. Take the first elevator. It will drop you of at the correct location!” I was angry and tried to keep my emotions under control as I stepped pass the transparent doors into the cool marble and brass lobby to find the elevator. Everything seemed so different from how I pictured it would be. The Vid-Shows on GalNet always portrayed Navy officers as noble, honorable and gallant. Everything I knew about the Navy seemed wrong. There where no larger than life heroes, no Officers who kept their cool no matter the situation, instead I met only angry, bored and indifferent members of that organization. I wasn’t sure anymore if I really wanted to be a part of it. Going back to Nifleheim was not an option. What else was there for me? I had only 4000 credits left to my name. That wasn’t very much to start a career in some other field. And I never thought beyond this day. I never thought about what else I might want to do if the navy didn’t work out. Not being sure about anything I stepped into a quiet lobby. I felt angrier by the moment and I decided to let that Commander know what I was thinking about all of this. A woman was sitting behind a sweeping desk. Behind her, huge murals showing spectacular images of deep space nebulae. She seemed to be human, had blue hair and half her face was covered with a contour shaped mirror thing.” The Commandant is expecting you, Applicant!” She said as she noticed me.” Go right in!” A pair of wooden doors swung open and I walked into a large office with deep blue soft carpet. The ceiling simulated a star field and the transparent view ports behind the large desk allowed a bird’s eye view over the academy grounds and the stark landscape beyond the dome. The desk was a transparent surface floating with out visible support before a white haired women sitting in a large arm chair. She wore a tight fitting black velvet suit with a plunging v shaped neckline revealing much of her cleavage. I would be hard pressed to guess at her age. She could have been anything between 20 and 200. Her long straight snow white hair was cut in page style and framed a beautiful immaculate face with large dark eyes and an arrogant impression. Her suit was bare of any rank insignia, except for 5 golden rings on her sleeves. The woman had her legs crossed and her fingers stapled. Her eyes looked me over and then she said:” What is your name?” “Eric Olafson, Ma’am.” “Why are you here?” “I was told to report to you Ma’am! And here I am. Since my chances to join the Navy are next to nil. Let me tell you something!” I was quite angry and aggravated and I let her know it.” I might be just some hick from a backwater planet, but that is not how you treat people that decided to serve this Union. I am sure there are other ways to test the resolve and dedication than to treat applicants like dirt. Not providing water and defective gear, not having the courtesy of providing bath rooms. That is uncivilized. Ever since I was a boy I dreamed of this day, but now I am not so sure if I want to be part of this. All nice and honor on the surface and rotten, bored and indifferent at the core! “ “Are you through?” She asked quietly?” “No I am not. That Uniform you and everyone else I meet wears makes you servants of the United Stars, not dictators. I don’t know what I am going to do after I walk out of here, but one thing is sure. I am going to let every one know what a rotten and lousy place this Navy of ours is underneath all that glamour.” “Are you angry because you are hungry and thirsty and need to go to the bath room? A future officer might face much worse conditions and has to keep his cool.” She said still quietly. “No I can handle that. It’s the attitude of the so called officers. I realize we are new to all this but what would it hurt to be a little more courteous? Is it not the foremost duty of this Navy to represent us in a favorable light with other civilizations? There is a being down there from the M 32 Galaxy, what impression will he take home. What will he tell others?” I turned.” I know my way out!” She said a little louder:” Hold it right there. I am not through with you!” I turned and looked at her and she asked: “Why did you come to Arsenal?” “I intended to join the Navy.” “And what are you going to do now?” “I don’t know. I never thought past this day.” “Would you do the same thing you did down there, knowing it cost you your chance to become an officer?” “No Ma’am. I would get the water myself.” She kept looking at me and then a barley noticeable smile crept in her eyes but didn’t reach her lips. “I see! You may leave now. Take the elevator back down and get your dorm assigned. You are accepted in the Academy.” “I am?” I was totally surprised. From the side Webb the Ult stepped into my field of sight. “Yes Eric, you passed a very important test. A test I personally conduct once in a while.” The Ult no longer wore a yellow jumpsuit but a black uniform.” Welcome to the United Stars Naval Academy, Cadet Olafson. I am Admiral Webb Stokes and I am the Commander of this place.” He surrounded the floating desk and the woman got up and exchanged places with Webb. “A test?” Was all that came to my mind? Stokes fish-like face had no skin muscles to convey emotions like humans, but I was almost sure he smiled.” Yes Cadet a test. You did well indeed. Now get registered. They also going to feed you and give you some rest. Everything from now on will be some form of a test. Don’t judge the Navy to harsh, we doing this for over 3000 years now and we have our reasons. Now go get to the bath room or you might ruin my carpet.” “Thank you Sir!” I said and walked to the door. I heard the Admirals voice as the door opened.” When I wished you luck earlier, I meant that.” –“”-- After I was registered and accepted I received a new green colored coverall and was sent to a large mess hall. I didn’t see Derek or Max, but I saw the methane breather and he waved at me with one of his tentacles.” Over here, Eric man.” The tables where yet empty and an officer in black uniform, somewhat humanoid but with horns and a face that made him look like a ram.” This will be your first real meal as Cadets. It will also be your first lesson. An Officer of the United Stars Navy will always display the finest table manners. We will use napkins and eating utensils. We will learn to use the Eating utensils of other cultures correctly . Enlisted men can eat a sandwich while walking through a corridor , an officer may not. An enlisted man yawn, scratch himself or do those many little things beings do without really thinking, often perhaps insulting or revolting to others. Officer will not. However as officers you also have certain privileges, you do not stand in line for food at the chow line , you will be served whenever possible. The food will be served now, but don’t eat until I say so. Until the most senior officer is served and gives the toast, you will not touch the food.” He clapped his white fur covered hands together and white dressed beings started to serve plates with food. The Officer raised a glass.” Welcome Citizens of the Union and Welcome new Cadets, may this be the first meal you partaking the company of fellow officers but not the last. I wish all of you success and hope to see each of you one day in Navy black!” During the meal instructors walked down the isles and gave pointers as how to eat correctly. To my Methane breathing friend one of them said:” The proper Garbini Officer folds his unused tentacles on his back in the naglag position. Fulran morsels are to be dipped only once and with the right eating tentacle only. Don’t let me see you using your left and dipping twice again!” “Yes Sir.” The Garbini uttered even though he was quite alien I could hear he was quite surprised that a small furry being in black Uniform knew so much about Gabrini proper eating etiquette. I was not spared either. The same being barked at me:” Dap your lips with the napkin before you reach for the glass. Cut only what you intended to eat right away , don’t cut everything, drop the knife and shovel it like a barbarian.” I wanted to argue and tell him Neo Vikings didn’t use forks at all, but I thought better and said :”Yes Sir.”
After the meal we went to a big dorm , with conformatic beds that adjusted to the body needs and sizes of almost any known being. The instructors where everywhere and the same Officer that addressed us at the meal spoke again: “ Being an officer is not so much a job as it is a profession. Being an officer is a status a mindset and a condition that does not end with you taking off your uniform, you are an Officer even when you are naked , hung by your toes or equivalent body part over a boiling pot of oil. You will maintain a sate of dignity and unquestionable conduct at all times. Almost all sentient life forms we encountered so far have body hygiene procedures. The navy has standardized these procedures to accommodate all beings and none of you will die or get harmed when touched by soap and water or a sonic shower. I want you to be on top of your species hygiene procedures at all times. No one will order you to be clean and well groomed but it is expected. Tomorrow morning will be the only time in your entire Academy career where you get a dedicated time period to do so. After that you must use your free time and schedule it correctly to be groomed well. This includes your uniforms and personal equipment. They have to be clean , spot less , in good repair and put on correctly according to Navy regulations. “ He took a breather.” Well that is all for now, sleep well!”
--‘’— I felt I just went to bed as they woke us and gave us what I felt way too little time to get bathed and groomed. After a breakfast with the same formality as the dinner the day before . They called names and put us in groups into yet another waiting room. I still didn’t did not see Derek or Max and I even lost sight of the Garbini. A gray skinned Shaill, a semi rigid intelligent mollusk being from a Star system far in the Core ward sector wearing its version of a black Navy Uniform floated in and said:” Listen up, Cadets. Your are complete now. You all going to board transport 342 to be shipped out to Camp Idyllic.” The Mananao left as he had appeared. “Camp Idyllic?” A greenish skinned bald humanoid next to me asked. I shrugged :”I have no clue!” A humanoid completely shrouded in a green monk like garment spoke with a deep voice:” Camp Idyllic is one of the basic training camps the Navy operates. It is located in the Nardir System , one hundred and twelve light years from here on a garden world called Green Eden.” “Oh boy!” Grunted a massive looking human two heads taller than me.” I heard of Camp Idyllic. My brother went to Camp Allure last year. He said it was pure hell and he heard that Camp Idyllic is supposed to be the worst.” An hour later we boarded the military version of a space bus and left Arsenal System. -“”- The shrouded being sat next to me in the starboard row His garment had an attached hood and he wore it pulled over his head obscuring him completely, except for two eyeholes. The massive humanoid sat in the seat on my other side. The deck plates vibrated slightly as the Leyland’s ISAH drive kicked the ship past the trans-luminal threshold. We now traveled in quasi-space a thin layer between the Planck Universe and the Hawkins omnium. The muscular strong guy glanced at the hooded being.” Why are you hiding your face under that hood?” “ Because I am a Narth.” ” I never heard of Narths. Are you ashamed of your face or something?” The green skinned one spoke from across the Isle:” Limbur, let him be! He is a Narth. You don’t want to mess with a Narth!” Limbur pointed at his massive arms.” Do you think some one with guns like these is afraid of a goon in a hood?” The green one seemed to know Limbur raised his hands.” Physical strength doesn’t mean a thing. Relax and come with me. I found out this ship has a refreshment bar in the lower deck! I’m buying!” Limbur readily agreed and the two left towards the back. I was quite tired but I turned to the hooded being:” What is a Narth?” He didn’t move his shrouded head as he spoke with that deep voice.” I am a Narth. We are a very old species and many humans find our true appearance quite disturbing. This is why we choose to cover ourselves.” I wasn’t sure if I said anything to him after that, since I fell asleep even without the sleep inducer.