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Three men sat at one end of a table. The table was long and could seat up to thirty people. The conference room was empty except for the three men who were speaking in hushed whispers. There were no windows in this room and only one door. It was a room that held many evil secrets.
The man, seated at the head of the table, looked at his companions, “Then we are agreed?”
A man with dark hair and a pointed beard replied, “If we are caught, this will be treason.”
The blond-haired man across the table from him laughed. The first loud noise that had been heard in the room since the conspirators had begun their meeting. The other two men looked taken back.
“We will not be caught! This plan is foolproof.”
“Then we are agreed?” the man at the head of the table asked again.
Both of the other men nodded.
They all stood and picked up the glasses in front of them.
The man at the head of the table raised his glass in a toast, “To our plan. To the United Raiders. To the capture of the U.A.F. Gallant!”
[These events take place in the year of Elniyn 6082.]
Sandy sat quietly on an observation deck. She was looking out through the windows as the stars and planets passed by. The U.A.F. Gallant, the starship on which Sandy and her family lived, had many observation decks. The decks were wide halls, sometimes 30 - 40 feet across, that went three-quarters of the way around many of the 150 levels of the gigantic starship.
Some of the observation decks were for walking or jogging. Some were linear parks. The one Sandy had chosen this time was themed as a museum. Like all the observation decks, there were plenty of comfortable chairs and tables by the windows looking out over the stars and planets around them. But behind her there were statues, display cases, relics, and holograms of past civilizations. Brass plaques or video displays explained what each one was. Here, amid the memory of thousands of years past, Sandy looked out into infinity.
Sandy was so captivated by the wonders spread out before her eyes that she did not hear the gentle footsteps behind her.
“Good afternoon, Miss Langlish,” came a cheerful voice.
Startled, Sandy jumped.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“That’s ok,” said Sandy rotating her comfortable chair around to face the man. He did not look anywhere near his fifty years. He wore his standard uniform: black shoes, black dress pants, and a green pull-on shirt with his gold command stripes.
“Do you mind if I sit down?”
“Of course not, Captain Danson.”
Sandy swirled her chair back around as Captain Danson sank into the seat next to her. Unconsciously, Sandy brushed back her shoulder-length, light brown hair as her blue eyes once again gazed out the window.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Captain Danson.
“I’ve been travelling through space for nearly 30 years, and yet each time I look out at the stars I’m struck with awe. There is always something new, something fascinating. Space is an odd term for the place where the light and energy of millions of stars dance and play. It is even more amazing when you think every planet moves in an exact orbit, never missing a step, not even by an inch.”
“Isn’t our God, Elniyn, wonderful to be able to design such a terrific universe?”
“He certainly is, and the universe isn’t even the greatest of His wonders. You know, I once heard of a planet where most of the people believe all this,” Captain Danson waved his hand at the stars and planets outside the window, “happened by accident. They believe there is no Elniyn and that all this made itself.”
Sandy stared at him in disbelief, “Really? That doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows things don’t make themselves.”
Captain Danson laughed, “Intellaleti are strange creatures. We tend to believe what we want to believe or what we’ve been taught to believe, regardless of how obvious the truth is or how illogical our belief system is.”
Sandy thought about Captain Danson. She liked him and enjoyed his company. In her experience, it wasn’t very often she found an adult, besides her parents, who didn’t make her feel like she was two years old. Many talked about things she didn’t understand or care about.
But Captain Danson was different. Even though he was the busy captain of a starship with over 100,000 people on it, he always had time to stop and talk to anyone… even if they had just turned fourteen. And he didn’t use terms like ‘young lady’ or ‘little gentleman,’ No, he treated you with friendly respect and made you feel important. He was almost like an extra grandfather.
“Had any more adventures since you solved The Gallant Mystery and saved Mr. Tern’s life?” inquired the Captain.
“No,” replied Sandy, blushing at the memory of her first few weeks on the U.A.F. Gallant. “Adventures are too nerve-racking for me. I’d rather search out new recipes on KIP.”
“You like to cook?”
“I love to cook. It’s fun picking this and that and designing an entire meal so that it is both nutritious and delicious. I want to be a professional chef someday.”
“We could certainly use more of those,” replied Captain Danson, with a twinkle in his eye.
“I found a recipe for Rovern Brownies yesterday. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks good. I am going to try it out tomorrow. When I bake some, would you like to try them?”
“It would be my pleasure. I don’t often get home-baked treats. I’ve never tried Rovern Brownies before. I’d love to try something new.”
“Would you like me to bring them to your apartment when they’re done?”
“Why don’t you bring them to my office.” Captain Danson glanced around to make sure no one was near. Then he whispered in her ear, “I get the three o’clock munchies.”
“Captain Danson to Main Control,” came a voice over Captain Danson’s miniature communicator, pinned to his left shirt pocket.
Tapping a small button, he replied, “On my way. Seven minutes.” He stood up, “Back to work.” He smiled, “Thank you for the pleasure of your company.”
“It’s my pleasure,” said Sandy.
Sandy was too excited to stay on the observation deck for very long after Captain Danson left. Imagine being able to bake something for the Captain! Sandy hurried along the corridors, each one painted in different, light and friendly colours. She took the ElLift to her home level.
“Mom,” she said, flying into the kitchen, “can I make some Rovern Brownies tonight?” Sandy’s eyes shone, “Because Captain Danson said he would like to try some.”
“That’s quite an honour.” Mrs. Langlish’s eyes twinkled at her daughter’s delight. “Ok, right after supper. Now, you can wash up and help me with this stew.”
“What’s the excitement?” asked Scott, Sandy’s fifteen-year-old brother, coming into the kitchen.
“I’m going to bake some brownies for Captain Danson!”
Scott didn’t quite see what was so exciting about that, but he loved his sister, and if it made her happy, it made him happy. “That’s great,” he replied.
That night Sandy spent three hours comparing recipes, finding the ingredients [including running to a late-night store for two of them], mixing them all together, and baking them. Rovern Brownies took some time because they were built up in layers. Sandy would have to take the brownies out of the oven every fifteen minutes and add a new layer of ingredients. She made two dozen, one dozen for her family and the other dozen for Captain Danson.
When Sandy went to bed, her excitement kept her awake longer than usual. Eventually, she fell asleep. Sometime during the night, Sandy had a dream. Of course, everyone dreams every night even if they don’t remember it. This dream was different…
In her dream, Sandy saw herself searching her bedroom for her favourite doll, Rosanne. She had had Rosanne since she was two years old. Although Rosanne was worn out with love, she always had a special place on Sandy’s bed. Sandy looked all through her room without finding Rosanne. Suddenly a cold fear gripped her, had someone stolen Rosanne?
Then the scene of the dream totally shifted. Sandy found herself standing alone on a dirt path in a valley. In front of her, the trail forked. The left path was crooked, but it ran through a grassy meadow and beside a gentle stream. Flowers were blooming, birds were singing, small animals were playing. It looked like a peaceful and enjoyable place to be.
The path to the right ran straight… straight into a dark, dangerous forest, as dark as the forest she had been trapped in on Vaug IV. From out of the darkness came the roars and growls of wild animals. Somehow, Sandy knew that was the path she should take.
Gulping and not taking too much time to think about it, Sandy saw herself going down the straight path into the forest. Since the trail was shrouded in darkness, she could not see any end to it. As soon as she stepped into the woods, a man in shining clothes appeared right beside her. A sudden peace flooded her, and her fear fled. She knew the Man beside her was really Elniyn, her Friend and God. From time to time, as she walked down the trail, a wolf or a trepan would leap out at her with its teeth bared. The Man would always step in front of her to protect her.
In the morning, Sandy woke up with the dream still vividly in her mind. She knew it had to have some meaning, but it puzzled her.
Read Chapter Two here.