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Three men sat comfortably in the living room of an apartment on the gigantic starship, U.A.F. Courage. On the small table in front of them were three empty ameer cups and three small plates scattered with crumbs from an equafier cake. The serious look on their faces revealed the intensity of their conversation.
“Our first plan failed,” flatly stated a man sitting in a mocha-coloured armchair. From his air of authority, it was apparent he was the leader. Cool gray eyes surveyed the other two men.
A second man spoke up. He had jet black hair, a neatly trimmed moustache, and a goatee. “We placed too much confidence in Commander Smith. We had everything laid out perfectly. We brought the Courage through our Time Tunnel; they were isolated from all backup and support. All he had to do was kill the Captain down on Tergonta, frame Rev. Flynn for her death, and seize control of the Courage. That incompetent fool just couldn’t deal with the complication of those two Axian brats he picked up. He should have just shot them and been done with it.”
“Yes, that was too bad,” agreed the first man. “If he weren’t so well guarded in the brig, I’d have him executed for his incompetence.” Fire flashed through his eyes before he continued. “But we must press on. I have another plan.” He brought his two forefingers together just below his chin as he thought about his next words.
The other two men leaned forward in anticipation.
“Sooner or later, the Courage will return to the planet, Tergonta. They have to. They will realize it is their only hope of discovering the Time Tunnel mechanism. Without that, they have no hope of returning to the El Empire in our own part of the galaxy. When they do, we will put my plan into operation. We will have to put both Captain Caspian and her co-captain, Rev. Flynn, out of operation.” He looked at the third man, “You will handle Captain Caspian.”
He nodded, “That will not be a problem.”
“It will have to look like natural causes. A captain killed by U.R.’s while on a planet is one thing, but to have her murdered on her ship would limit the investigation to the Courage. That could be disastrous.”
“It will look like natural causes,” confirmed the third man confidently.
“What if the investigation turns up that it wasn’t natural causes?” asked the second man.
“Then it will look like she committed suicide because of all the pressure she was under. People will think that she wanted to make it look like natural causes to preserve her honour and the honour of the U.A.F.”
The other men nodded with satisfaction.
“And you,” the leader said, looking at the second man, “will contact our confederate to make sure Rev. Flynn is handled. I am certain he will lead a Probe team to Tergonta. He must not return alive.” His tone left no doubt that failure was not an option.
The second man nodded.
“That will leave Lt. Dez in command.”
“But he’s not one of us,” objected the third man.
“I know. But he is inexperienced and untrained in the role of Captain. He will be easier to deal with. Our contact in Main Control can guide him to the actions we want if it is necessary. If our plan with Commander Smith had worked, we would have had the Courage intact, under our control. Now, it will sustain some damage. Nevertheless, a damaged starship is better than no starship. And with the power of a U.A.F. starship in our hands, we will be unstoppable.”
His two companions grinned.
“Now, here are the details…”
Captain Nancy Caspian sat in the conference room at the head of a large thirty-person table. Her Co-Captain, Rev. Jack Flynn, sat at the opposite end of the table. He was a tall, slender man of sixty-seven years with silvery hair. Along the left side of the table were her Main Control senior officers. They were responsible, under her command, for the U.A.F. Courage starship’s smooth operation. Over 100,000 people were onboard the gigantic starship. The seated officers were:
Col. Davidson, new Security Commander;
Commander Grant, Fleet Commander,
Lt. Stanton, Onboard Weapons and Defence;
Col. Lee, Engineering;
Lt. Dez, Science Officer;
Lt. Xto, Communications Officer.
Also present was her Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kana.
Lt. Xto was the only one in the room who did not look human. He looked much like a young man from the waist up, except for two horns on his forehead. Below his waist, he was shaped like a goat, and he had a rather long tail which he kept swishing about. Lt. Xto was a faun.
Standing at the giant view screen, located on the right wall, was Lt. Johnson, the Navigation Commander. On the view screen was a star chart. As Lt. Johnson began speaking, all eyes focused on him.
“The United Raiders have somehow transported us to a galaxy not charted by any of our known sources. This is the star chart we were able to take from the U.R. Death when we captured it. This is where we are,” said Lt. Johnson, pointing a laser dot to a place near the centre of the screen. “We entered here,” he pointed to a place close to their location. “We named this planet Omega. According to the star chart, its actual name is Tergonta.
“There are some anomalies that concern me. Also, this red line right here is a deep concern.” The pointer traced a red line that waved from top to bottom near the left side of the star chart.
Commander Grant rubbed his greying beard. His piercing dark eyes stared at the line. He was in charge of the squads of one-person fighter spaceships, called Flyers, the battle shuttles, and overseeing all spaceships leaving or arriving, whether military or civilian. “Why is that line a concern?” he said in his gravelly voice.
Lt. Johnson looked at him as he replied, “From the information we have been able to decipher from the Death’s computers, we believe that this is the border of the Tricotian Republic.”
An electric shock seemed to go through the room at this announcement. The officers looked at one another in dismay. The Republic of Tricot had attacked their El Empire in the year 6047. A long war had ensued, which they had only won with the creation of the gigantic U.A.F. starships. An uneasy truce now existed between the two empires, but rumours of betrayal and suspicion were always in the air. Some of the officers in the room had actually fought in the Tricot Wars.
Captain Caspian pushed her light brown, shoulder-length hair behind her right ear as her clear green eyes narrowed, “The United Raiders claimed to have transported us almost instantly to the Ruward system in the Lezzup Galaxy. Using our best technology, that would take about 500 years. Now you are telling me that we are on the far side of the Tricotian Republic. That would mean we are not in the Lezzup Galaxy, which is in the opposite direction.”
Nodding, Lt. Johnson replied, “That’s why I said there are things here that don’t make sense. I would assume that these charts are more reliable than what you were told, but since we don’t have any reference points from our own knowledge, either or both could be deceptions.”
Lt. Dez spoke up, “Our working theory is that they have developed a Time Tunnel Transporter. The last naturally occurring Time Tunnel collapsed about 4,000 years ago. No one has been able to artificially recreate one… until now.”
Rev. Flynn stroked his chin as he commented, “So what you are saying is, it was likely this TTT took us through the Republic of Tricot to the other side.”
Lt. Johnson nodded.
“We have no idea how large the Tricotian Republic is. But, regardless, we cannot risk travelling through it. We would have to self-destruct this starship before allowing it to fall into Tricotian hands.” Rev. Flynn had been an admiral during the Tricot Wars. He had been captured and tortured during that time.
“This doesn’t change our mission,” said Captain Caspian confidently. “We will chart this system for the El Empire. We will search for a working TTT, or develop one ourselves, so we can return home. And we will spread the good news about Elniyn and help others as we go along.”
“Never forget,” said Rev. Flynn, “Elniyn is with us. None of this has taken Him by surprise. For whatever reason, we are where He wants us. We need to be grateful as we discover His will in this situation.”
Col. Lee looked like he was about to make a negative comment, but Lt. Dez spoke up first, “I think I have some good news.”
All eyes turned to him as he continued, “I believe there is a TTT on Omega, or Tergonta as the star chart calls it.”
“We saw that TTT explode,” said Captain Caspian. “There was nothing left of it, but twisted metal and burnt circuits.”
“My team and I examined that machine before we left. We transported the remains to our lab. There wasn’t much to work with, but I am confident that machine did not have the power to create a Time Tunnel and pull us through it. I would suspect it was the outlet for the real machine or, perhaps, just a prop placed there for your benefit. That means the real TTT must still be somewhere on that planet - probably in working order. After all, the U.R’s will still want to come and go from the Empire to here. It would be the perfect base from which to conduct raids.”
There was silence in the room as the officers absorbed the information.
After a few minutes, Captain Caspian declared, “Then it’s back to Tergonta. Sam may be helpful once again.” She paused, then said, “Dismissed.”
All the officers, except Dr. Kana, stood and began to exit the room.
“I need to talk to you for a minute, Captain,” he said. Dr. Kana was a man about 40 years old. Brown hair with a few traces of gray circled a large bald spot. His eyes twinkled; although, he tried to make his face look stern.
Captain Caspian motioned for Rev. Flynn to stay.
“You might want this news in private,” Dr. Kana said.
“Will it affect the operation of the Courage?” asked Captain Caspian.
“It will in the future.”
“Then Rev. Flynn should stay. Anything that affects the Courage is his right to know.”
Dr. Kana shrugged, “You came to see me about not feeling well yesterday. I have run some tests.”
“Is it serious?” asked Captain Caspian, concerned.
“It is life-changing,” confirmed Dr. Kana. He paused, then said, “You’re pregnant.”
Captain Caspian looked shocked. It was the last thing she had expected to hear. Her usual calm and confidence fled as she blurted out, “How did that happen?”
An amused look spread over Dr. Kana’s face, “In the usual way, I would imagine.”
Captain Caspian went a deep red. It was the first time either man had ever seen her blush.
Rev. Flynn laughed and shook her hand, “Congratulations!”
Read Chapter Two here.