* Thirteen *
Out in the octagon corridor, Robert Jackson stood with Tori, Davrina, his son Eric, and his daughter Amber, along his newly found daughter, Valdara.
"Dad, I mean Admiral, she's whacking out on us again." said Amber Jackson as she stood there in her new security uniform.
"Whacking out?" her father asked. "What do you mean, whacking out, and just who's whacking out---
"She is, sir." Amber said, interrupting her father as she pointed to Valdara.
"I've taken care of one whacked out person today." her father told her. "I'm not looking forward to two in a row."
"Admiral, Eric and Amber know about Valdara." said Davrina Adriakr as she held Valdara's hand.
"I ah, can see that Counselor Adriakar." Jackson said. "Right now we're trying to determine why Amber's telling me that Valdara is whacking out."
"I'm not as you keep on saying, whacking out, father." Valdara said, not being able to see her half brother and half sister as they stood there together.
"Let's go to the briefing room and get out of the corrid---
"You must take me to the bridge father, so that I may speak with the captain." Valdara explained as she interrupted her father.
"You can't just go waltzing in on the bridge to speak to the captain, Valdara." Jackson told his daughter.
"Davrina, do you have any idea as to what's going on here?"
"She senses or believes that a Zaleen battle cruiser destroyer is on its way to the planet Earth from the far side of the sun. And if we don't turn back around to investi---
"Red alert, all hands to battle stations, this is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill!" Robert Jackson ordered over his vid-com wrist unit as he turned and ran to the bridge."Red alert, all hands to battle stations, this is not a drill!"
"Eric, Amber, take Valdara and go to your quarters, immediately!" Davrina yelled over the alert klaxons as she hurried to the bridge.
"Eric, Amber, Valdara, Davrina, on the bridge!" Jackson yelled as he quickly made his way there.
"Or you can follow your father!" Davrina yelled over the irritating noise.
"I'm not going back in there with that she bitch captain!" Tori Buckingham yelled, as she ran off in the opposite direction. "I'll see you all later!"
"Lieutenant Javreen, turn us about, one hundred and eighty degrees hard to port!" the admiral ordered aloud as he stormed in on the bridge. "Phase one point five, up and over the asteroid field!"
"Aye, aye, Admiral, veering about one hundred and eighty to port!" Javreen yelled in response. "Phase one point five!"
"Captain Celane, I'm taking over the center seat until further notice!" he yelled as she stood up and gestured with her hands that he take her vacated chair.
"Scanners to maximum, Commander April!" he yelled as he turned the captain's chair towards Donald April while seats at battle stations A through D were being filled.
"Andrews, get someone to clean up this mess!" Celaine yelled. "Where's that Terran female that defiled my bridge?"
"What's up, Admiral, sir?" April asked, yelling back as he set his hands in motion on the Sciences computer console.
"My daughter ... Valdara has reason to believe that ... Lieutenant Andrews, can that noise!" Jackson boomed aloud, over the sound of the red alert klaxons on the bridge, silently thanking God, that Victoria Dawn Buckingham wasn't still on it.
"Valdara has reason to believe that while we're exiting out the front door, the Zaleen's are sneaking in through the back one!"
"Going to silent red alert!" Laura Andrews yelled back as she shut down the klaxons all over the ship.
"That may explain that shimmer ... that I'm going to check up on." April said, almost yelling as he tuned his mind to the task at hand.
"Admiral, we're turning around and going to full red alert status on a whim or whatever, from your daughter?" Celane asked as Eric, Amber, Valdara and Davrina stepped down and into the lower ring of the bridge, without the red headed beast from Earth.
"Yes Captain, that we are." he told her as President Adriakar entered on to the bridge unseen by Celane.
"Admiral, your family is going to get us into---
"Into what, Captain?" Admiral Jackson and President Adriakar both asked at the same time.
"Nothing, Admiral," Celane answered, turning now to see Davadra. "President Adriakar, I'm sorry, I---
"Commander April, what can you tell us?" Davadra asked, interrupting the captain while she leaned on the railing behind Laura Andrews
"President, Admiral, Captain," April replied as he turned to face all three of them. "There's definitely something cloaked out there on the far side of the sun, and it's heading ... is earthward."
"Lieutenant Javreen, kill all exterior beacons and running lights and cloak the Orion."the admiral ordered.
"Engines to phase zero point seven, and take us into orbit on the dark side of the planet Mercury." Jackson further ordered as Davadra raised herself up and off of the railing.
"Commander Scott, is the hyper sonic emitter still functional, should we have need of it?" he asked as he looked over at the weapons and defense engineer.
"It will be by the time we arrive at our destination, Admiral." Aex Scott replied.
"This is Admiral Jackson, to all fighter decks. We are tracking what may be a Zaleen battle cruiser destroyer on the far side of the sun. I want all Starvette's prepped and ready for launch at a moment's notice, Jackson, out." he said over the arm rest vid-com unit.
"How did she know, Dad ... I mean Admiral, sir?" Amber asked as she watched the main vid-screen.
"Valdara's an Empath," Jackson answered. "Like your grandfather, on the Jackson's side of the family.
"Her blindness has awakened her empathy or visionary senses." he explained to his oldest daughter.
"Your father was blind, sir?" Amber asked as she turned to face her father.
"Yes, and well, I'll explain it to you later." he told her.
"Do the Zaleens know that we know, that they are out there, Da ... Admiral?" Eric Jackson asked as he sat down on a set of steps that lead up to the communications station.
"The Zaleens have not, at this moment in time, detected that we are out here." Valdara answered instead, and all eyes on the bridge gazed upon her.
"Perhaps I should vacate my seat and give up my duty station to Valdara." Donald April said as he turned to face her.
"Commander April, what do you and or the Zaleens know right now, that we don't?" Jackson asked as he left the center seat and walked up the steps to lean over Donald's shoulder.
"If we keep the planet Mercury between us and them, we ought to ... for the most part, by being cloaked ourselves, stay undetected." April answered.
"But?" asked Jackson as he stood to stretch, hearing and feeling his back pop.
"But, I'm not that up to date on Zaleen technology enough to be for sure, Admiral." he answered as he glanced up at the admiral of the entire consortiums galactic fleet.
"Passing by the planet Venus." Captain Celane said as she stood behind her center seat on the bridge watching the main view screen.
"Madame President, care to take your old seat back?" She asked as she patted the back of her chair.
"No, thank you, I'll just stay where I am." Davadra answered as Robert Jackson stepped down from the upper ring of the bridge and then back up onto the rotating command center and into that center seat.
"Alright, all unauthorized personnel off the bridge," the admiral ordered.
"Take us to phase zero point five, Lieutenant Javreen." he further ordered as Davrina ushered Eric, Amber and Valdara off of the bridge.
"Phase zero point five it is, Admiral." the helmsman replied.
"They're uncloaking, Jay ... Admiral!" April yelled surprisingly as he swung around in his chair.
"That's a bit unusual at this time, wouldn't you think?" Jackson asked as he turned to face April.
"Planet Earth would have been the most vulnerable for a surprise attack." April said as he turned back to his console. "Damned unusual."
"I disagree somewhat with you," Alex Scott said from his station. "That twenty-mile long ship of ultimate destruction may have detected us, and we are their top priority at the moment."
"I did say that I'm not that up to date on their technology enough to know as to whether we've been detected or not."Commander April informed him.
"Commander April, try a long-range scan, sweeping out past their ship for any other surprises that may be following them." Jackson said as he watched the main vid-screen. "And Andrews, have Valdara Jackson brought back to the bridge."
"I've already thought of that too," April replied. "As of right now, the answer is no, they're not being followed nor pursued."
"Valdara Adriakar, please report to the command bridge, Lieutenant Andrews, out." Laura Andrews ordered from her station post at communications.
"Keep the planet Mercury between us and them for as long as possible Lieutenant Javreen." Jackson ordered.
"Aye, aye, Admiral." Javreen said as he watched the containment doors slide shut over the river in the Round Forest on a smaller monitor above the environmental control station before turning to face the admiral.
"I just have this gut feeling that they know that we're out here now." April said as he continued working at his station.
"Take us into high orbit, Lieutenant Javreen," Jackson ordered.
"This is Admiral Jackson to all fighter decks, launch all Starvettes and maneuver them around to the light side of the planet Mercury, so that they come up on the destroyer's backside."
"Lieutenant Javreen put the Orion into Mercurian orbit, and just as soon as all our interceptors are ready, decloak us and up the shields once the last one is off its deck and clear of the ship."
"Admiral, I'm receiving a very weak and garbled audio signal from the Zaleen ship. It may be due to the solar radiation from the sun." Laura Andrews said as she turned to face the admiral.
"Put it on the speakers, Lieutenant Andrews." Jackson ordered.
"Thi. is .al.....ia .... to .he Or... ar. ..u re....... .e ov... ?" the noise and static mix repeated, a few more times over the bridge speakers.
"I can't seem to clear it up." Andrews told the bridge crew.
"Do what you can, Lieutenant." Jackson said as he tried to pick up on the bits and pieces of the garbled communication.
"The planets masking most of the transmission as well." Andrews said as she continued to clarify the noise.
"Decloaking the ship," Bohemeah Javreen said from the helm. "Starvette's ready for launch."
"Andrews, hail all fighter decks to launch their interceptors now!" the admiral ordered.
The bridge crew watched the interceptors taking off from the front of the Orion on the main screen while the others took off on the aft side as the admiral glanced down at another smaller screen just ahead of his chair.
"This .. th. Kal....via .awn to .he Ori.. ar. ..u reci..... me ple... ack........ ?" the noise came again over the still open bridge speakers.
"I wouldn't swear wholeheartedly to it," Laura Andrews told everyone. "But I think it's the Kalaketvia Tawn trying to contact us from the other side of Mercury."
"This is Admiral Jackson to forward fighter deck A, launch a scout ship immediately."
"I want to know who we're dealing with, as soon as possible, Admiral Jackson, out." he said as the Zaleen cruiser slowly edged its way around to their side of the planet Mercury.
"It may be a setup, Jay." April said as he turned to face Jackson.
"I'm well aware that the Tawn is supposed to be en route to the planet Glammadren, and that there's no possible way other than a time warp to bring Valakadria into our solar system this quick, unless--- ." Jackson stopped himself short.
"Unless that's the setup, and this is the real thing." President Adriakar said as she stepped down onto the lower portion of the bridge.
"Thanks to Valdara, we're going to be finding out here shortly." Jackson said as Davadra now stood beside his chair and watched as a lone scout ship took off from the front of the Orion.
"I sw... Rob... .aks... if you. .ot in .his sol.. syst.. I don't know wh.. I'm going. to do." the noise said, a little clearer this time.
"That sounds like Valakadria." Davadra said as she listened.
"If it is, she sounds more frightened than anything." Andrews said as she turned to face the president of the consortium.
"It is Valakadria, mother." said Valdara, as she let herself back onto the bridge to stand just inside the oval door.
"Well, I never doubted you before, and I'm not going to start doubting you now." her father said.
"Stand down from red alert battle stations, but keep us on yellow alert until Commodora Tawn is safely aboard this ship. Hail our interceptors back to flank positions and stand by for further orders.
"Open hailing frequencies Andrews." he ordered as he stood up from his seat.
"Hailing frequencies open to the Zaleen ship." Andrews replied, a minute or two before she opened another channel to the Starvette fighter squadrons.