* Ten *
Robert Jackson lay in his bed, safely inside his quarters and couldn't sleep.
"Issac, are you still online?" he asked into the air.
"Internal Ships Systems Analytical Computer is always online, Admiral Jackson." the ship's computer said in answer.
"Lets us see if all the old records are still in your memory banks," he said, sitting up in bed.
"Replay David Jackson, Jalep Adeez, first meeting, Security, on screen." he ordered as the video-com screen came to life on the far wall of his bed-chamber.
"Ah, Slorpan Sliver, I see that you've finally decided to report to me for your first training session!" thundered security chief, Commander Jalep Adeez, who sat behind his desk in the security unit.
"You may be my commanding officer, alien twerp, but you and I are gonna get one thing straight! David Jackson said as he leaned over the desk.
"I can whip the crap outta you any day of the week, month, or year, got that, carp face?" thundered David Jackson, as he shoved his finger into the alien's face, just as Davrina Adriakar walked into Robert Jackson's bed chamber and sat herself down in a chair to find out what Robert was watching on his vid-com.
"Earth man, you do show promise and have great potential. I'm going to mold you into a first rate security officer." said Jalep, now standing.
"Admiral, what are you watch---
"Hush, Counselor !" Jackson ordered.
" ... that my brother told me about this flying car ...
"Issac, replay that entire sentence from the start." he ordered into the air while giving Davrina the zip her lip signal.
"Look here piglet, Is everything that my brother told me about this flying carpet with it's Mickey Mouse crew and why you're all here, true?" David asked, shoving the commander back down in his seat as Davrina spun her chair around and stared weirdly at Robert Jackson, who placed his finger to his mouth and shook his head for her to remain quiet, before she turned back around.
"Your brother, I presume, is going to be the captain aboard this ship?" asked the alien security chief, standing once again.
"Yeah, the Wizard of Oz. What a joke on us all. Some ignorant alien fool critter off of his rocket made my brother a Starship captain!" David thundered once more.
"Freeze Issac," Robert ordered as Davrina wished to speak.
"Alright Davrina, go ahead and have at it." he said as she sat there grinning from ear to ear.
"This recording was made shortly before I was brought aboard the Orion and you were given command." she stated.
"No kidding Princess. Shall we continue." he said, pointing back at the screen as Davrina pivoted back around in her chair.
"Alright Issac, continue." he ordered.
"Anyway, ferret weasel, Is what he told me the truth?" he blurted out, slamming his fist on Adeez's desk.
"What did he tell you, Thrug Shalurtling?" asked the commander as Valdara Adriakar Jackson slowly opened the oval shaped closet door just enough to hear the vid-com more clearly.
"Looks like you're headed for another fight!" David thundered. "Call me a pig will you!
"I found out what a Slorpan Slimer and a Thrug Sherbet was, you baboon!" David said, moving nearer to Jalep Adeez's desk.
"That's Sliver and Shalurtling, Earth ... man!" the security chief said
"Whatever, I don't like being referred to as a pig in a slop pen, creep!" David continued as he grabbed the commander and pinned him to the wall behind his chair.
"There's something that I don't like about you alien, and I'm gonna find out why I don't. I don't believe all the bull crap that I've heard or seen, so you had better be doing some serious talking if you value your life, peanut brain!" said David as he tightened his grip.
"Is .ard .o .alk .hen .ome .ody is .hoking ..u .o .eath." said the Perrinan as his face was deepening in color.
"Sounds alien to me, speak English." David told the poor creature as it hung suspended in his death grip.
Davrina and Robert watched on and Valdara listened as a club like weapon came crashing down quickly over David Jackson's head, felling him to the floor as he still clutched the Perrinan by its neck. The club should have knocked David unconscious, but David's head was thicker than the club, which shattered.
"That done did it, you've gone and made me mad. If you're gonna mess with the best, you're gonna have to suffer like the rest!" he told him just before the fight broke out.
David Jackson could hold his own in a hand to hand battle, or at least he could seventeen years ago.
"Security alert! Security alert!" said the voice on the screen. "Security to Security! We have a problem down here! Admiral Mazanurra, Captain Jackson, can you come down here to Security?" asked the voice.
"On our way." answered the admiral over the vid com in the security unit.
"Enough Issac." Jackson said as Davrina swiveled in her chair to face him and noticed at once that his oval shaped closet door was partially open and hadn't been before. She slowly rose from her chair and made her way across the bed-chamber floor and yanked the door open.
"Valdara, what are you doing hiding in the admiral's closet? Get out of there this instant!" she ordered, and the girl stepped out into the light so that Robert could see who his intruder was. A miniature version of Davadra stood near the closet door while Davrina held her by the arm. No words uttered from her mouth nor had they for eight years.
"Davrina, bring her here to the side of the bed." he gestured with his right hand.
"The only place that Valdara's going is---
"To the side of my bed, and that's an order, Counselor!" he ordered.
"Yes sir, Admiral." Davrina said reluctantly as she led the child across the floor and to the side of Robert Jackson's bed.
"This girl is your niece, isn't she, Davrina?" Jackson asked.
"Yes sir, she is." Davrina answered as her eyes wandered about the room.
"This girl can belong to no one else aboard this ship than to Davadra Adriakar. Am I right in assuming that much?" he asked as he looked from Valdara to Davrina.
"Yes sir, you're right again." Davrina answered nervously this time.
"Davadra would have died if she hadn't been allowed to produce a child. I haven't forgotten this Davrina." he said as he placed his left hand on Valdara's right arm.
"Sit here on the side of the bed Valdara," he told her and she obeyed.
"You know who I am, don't you?" he asked as he looked into her blind eyes.
"She can't speak Admiral, nor can she see. She hasn't uttered a single word in the eight of her fifteen years. And she's been blind ---
"Valdara, you know who I am, don't you?" he asked once again, cutting Davrina short about the fact that his daughter had been blind since birth.
Valdara knew that this day would come, and she had prayed and hoped that it would, but she had to know beyond the shadow of a doubt. Oh yes, she knew who her father was but he had to acknowledge her.
"Valdara, I know who you are." he finally told her as he continued looking into her sightless eyes.
Yes, she thought to her inner self, perhaps the time was now.
"You, Valdara, are my daughter." he told her and she jumped slightly at his acknowledgment of the fact.
Yes, it was true and he had acknowledged it, she said to herself as she worked up the saliva to wet the inside of her dry mouth.
"Yes, you're right for the third time, father." she said as Davrina Adriakar passed out on the floor in front of them.
"I thought she said that you couldn't talk." he said with a smile on his face.
"I am only blind, not dumb. I chose not to speak until after we met and you acknowledged me as your daughter." she said.
"Won't your mother be surprised." Jackson stated as he tossed her hair while thinking about just how dumb it was of her not to have spoken until now.
"Not if aunt Davrina awakens to tell her first." Valdara told him having known that her aunt had passed out.
"For now we'll leave her be," her father told her.
"She can wake up later, so how about going to the living unit for a bit so I can get dressed. After that, you and I will take a walk to the round forest science section together." Jackson told his newly found daughter.
"I'll be waiting, but are you going to just leave her lying on the floor?" she asked as she rose up from the bed.
"Looks like she's found her bed for the night," he answered as she slowly walked unaided, to the living unit.
A short time later, the both of them passed through an air lock that led into and out of the enormous, and round, forest sciences section. Jackson slowly led his daughter along a glow glob lit stone inlaid pathway, lined with a countless variety of shrubbery, flowers and trees. They soon came upon a vine covered ornate bridge that spanned this particular section of Round River. This was known as the midway point of Round Forest. Crossing over the bridge, Jackson found that Valdara's mother, and Captain Celane, were sitting out on a flower covered wrought iron wrap around veranda, connected to the galley that sat dead center of the river bridge itself. What a terrible thought that Valdara had never seen the beauty of the round forest sciences section of the three-mile long Starship, he had thought. The lighting that cir-cumferenced the outer hull of the central core, a half of a mile above their heads, had dimmed, and like a moon, it reflected off the water's surface below. Robert Jackson's head tipped back and he let his eyes gaze upwards, way beyond the central core, to where he could, but barely see, hundreds of treetops that pointed towards the core from his viewpoint on the bridge.
"Now to become as a beast in this forest." he said silently to himself before turning his eyes upon Davadra Adriakar.
"Davadra!" Jackson bellowed out her name, making Valdara jump again.
"I found this intruder in my quarters and I thought to bring her before Captain Celane and you, yourself. I should have had her tossed in the brig!" he said as he put on an act of being mad.
"Seeing as how I'm the admiral of the fleet, I could have just taken her there myself. However, though I thought that perhaps the two of you might know who she belongs to and why she was in my quarters." he added as he helped Valdara up the steps to stand in front of her mother, who lowered her head slowly into her hands.
"Perhaps I should call Security to handle this matter---
"Valdara!" her mother stormed heatedly.
"Go on back to bed, Admiral, we can handle this situation." Sathrana said as she rose from her seat to take the now nervously shaken Valdara, by the hand.
"And just how will this situation be handled? Doesn't her parents know her whereabouts at this time of night? Shouldn't they keep a better watch over her? Don't they care about her welfare?" Robert Jackson roared his questions, ferociously so.
"One of them will, Admiral Jackson!" Davadra yelled as she took Valdara by the arm and led her to a seat in one of the nearby chairs.
"Both of them will, Davadra." Jackson voiced himself barely above a whisper while he stood there on the veranda steps.
"Wha ... what ... did you say?" she asked nervously, being thrown off her guard.
"Both of her parents will know where she's at all times. Both of her parents will keep a better watch over her, and both of her parents will care about her welfare." he answered her, having calmed the beast within himself.
"She only has one parent, Robert." Davadra informed him.
"Davadra."Robert Jackson said and waited a few moments before he continued.
"Valdara just so happens to be our daughter." he informed her as he trekked up three stair steps to cross the veranda and take Valdara by the hand, helping her up from her chair.
"It seems to me that Captain Celane and you, yourself, are in a discussion, so I'll take Valdara, and myself, else where. That is, if the two of you don't have any objections?" he asked.
"I'll be with you a while later mother." Valdara said as she was led by her father, over to, and down the steps, hand in hand.
"Yes, she'll be with you later, Davadra." Jackson said as both he and Valdara disappeared on the other side of the bridge while the dim light of the flowery vine covered glow glob posts and the moonlight of the core lit their way.
"He knows, Davadra." Sathrana said as she glanced over at her.
"She can talk." was all that Davadra uttered.
"She told him then." Sathrana said.
"Oh no," Davadra uttered.
"He knew. The moment that he laid his eyes on her, he knew. This was his way of letting me know that he knew. Calling Security and taking Valdara to the ... she can talk Sathrana." Davadra said as her eyes teared up.
"I know. I heard her speak too, Davadra." Sathrana replied.
A while later Robert Jackson toed Davrina gently in the side before helping her up from the carpeted floor and onto her feet.
"Davrina, take Valdara to her mother so I may get some rest, if you would please." Jackson said as he fell on his bed and fell, just as fast, to sleep this time.
"Valdara, your mother is going to kill me." Davrina said as she took Valdara by the hand.
"Don't pass out on us again Aunt Davrina, alright?" she asked.
"All these years, and you pick right now of all times to speak." Davrina said as she led Valdara from the room.
"He knew, and he told me that I was his daughter. I didn't have to tell him, because he knew Aunt Davrina, he knew." Valdara told her aunt.
"And later this morning, so will everyone else." Davrina said nervously under her breath as they left Robert Jackson's quarters.