* Twenty - One *
"Issac, lights." commanded the admiral as the oval shaped door to the aft command section briefing room slid open to allow them entry.
"Wow, nice big conference table for twelve---
"Spare me Commander April, we haven't got all day to take inventory of everything that's in the briefing room!" Tori grumbled as Jackson glanced at the both of them and shook his head in disgust.
"Issac, seal off access to the aft command section briefing room until further notice, by my voice command only." Admiral Jackson ordered as he walked down the length of the table to the view port window.
Robert Jackson pressed the touch pad control on the table and the oval view port window slowly opened.
"Oh my, what a view." Tori said in awe as the three of them looked out over a very large section of Round Forest.
"Impressive, isn't it?" April asked as he gazed out over the mile long jungle forest.
"Aright, we've got a little bit of time to kill before the meeting Tori." Jackson said as he and Donald April managed to pull themselves away from the view port window.
"How to begin?" Tori asked.
"At the beginning, that's where I would start." April said as he took a seat with his back to the view of the round forest section of the Orion.
"Yes, shall we?" Robert Jackson asked as he pointed out a chair for Tori to sit down in while he grabbed another one.
"In the Round Forest River Galley, I heard every word that Commodora Tawn spoke." Tori told them as they sat and listened to her.
"Yes, I know," Robert Jackson replied. "So did we."
"Today, seventeen years later, I am forty-six earthen standard years of age old, and I have been away from my own home world for six hundred and forty five years." Tori said, requoting Valakadria Tawn.
"Can you kindly get to the point Buckingham!" Commander April thundered.
"Yes, do continue." Admiral Jackson ordered as he listened while Donald April strummed his fingers on the table as the time for the meeting drew closer.
"My question Robert, is this, how long has Valakadria Tawn been chasing everyone around in the galaxy?" Tori asked as Robert and Donald both pondered her question.
"Can you focus in a little bit clearer on what you wish you didn't have to say?" Donald asked as Robert rubbed his whisker stubbled chin.
"Think about it Commander April, but please, don't strain yourself." Tori told him. "If Valakadria left Zaleena over six hundred and forty some years ago and spent most of that time in suspended animation, where were her half sisters Davadra and Davrina during this time that she's is in the ice box."
"Oh, you'll have to excuse me, I meant to say, the freezer?" Tori asked as she gazed at Jackson and April.
"So, you're trying to make connections between her and her half sisters." Robert replied, more or less to himself.
"Yes, what am I not comprehending?" Tori asked as she stood up from her seat to gaze upon Round Forest once again.
"How can Valakadria Tawn, born on Zaleena, and Davadra and Davrina Adriakar, born on Delindria, be half sisters, when it took Valakadria six hundred and twenty two years to get from Zaleena to Delindria in the first place?" Robert asked as he too stood and walked over to the view port to stand with Tori.
"Yes, that's it exactly, I think." Tori replied.
"Now that's a brilliant question from a dull mind." Donald April said as he spun himself around in his seat to face the hypnotic view of the forest from the briefing room view port.
"It's all on record, that is, if you care to look it up on the vid-com monitor." Robert Jackson said, as he walked back to the table and lightly pressed a touch pad control that raised an access terminal, complete with a monitor, directly from the conference table top.
"And, Tori's mind, is anything but dull. " he added as he tapped in his password.
"Thank you." she said as she eyed the vid-com screen.
"Right now, Valakadria is forty-six years old, Davadra is forty-four, and Davrina, is forty-two, if we go by earthen years." Jackson continued as he brought up the information Tori was searching for. "Davadra and Davrina have, or had, an older brother, Dorion, who, if he were still alive, would be forty-six years old."
"How can Valakadria Tawn and Dorion Adriakar be the same age?" Donald asked as the time for the meeting was nearly upon them.
"Iylerra Tawn, or Jaeluken Adriakar, worked mighty fast to produce two totally different families separated by six hundred and twenty two years." Tori explained as the voice of David Jackson thundered over the briefing room speakers.
"Open this damned door!" he shouted.
"Issac, grant access to the aft command section briefing room." Admiral Jackson ordered.
The oval door slid open and Commander David Jackson shot through to stand at the foot of the large conference table.
"Admiral Jackson, and as if I didn't know." the commander and chief of security said as he gazed down the length of the table at Tori Buckingham.
"Somebody is late for work!" he boomed aloud.
"She's been with me, Commander Jackson," the admiral told him as Davadra, Valakadria, and Keletivia entered along with Davrina and Amber and Dara Kamadees.
"Is that a permanent promotion to personal secretary or temporary, Admiral?" Commander Jackson asked sarcastically as the girls entered the briefing room and made their way down the rooms length to take in the magnificent view of the round forest section of the Orion.
"Temporarily, Commander." Tori answered for herself.
"Oh, okay, I suppose we can handle that for the time being, Buckinghorse." Commander Jackson said as he grabbed a chair, sat down, and began entering something on his transcribe.
"I see that you brought Amber along." the elder brother said as he turned in his seat to watch the girls as they took in the breath taking view from the view port.
"Experience is the best teacher, Admiral." the chief of security stated as Captain Sathrana Celane entered the briefing room with the chief medical officer, Doctor Cenneva Falaikon, from the planet Uda-Thane, followed by the chief engineer, Commander Barthalon Adronadius, from the planet Delindria, and the helmsman, Lieutenant Commander Bohemeah Javreen, from the planet Talmurra.
"It looks as if everyone's here," Davadra Adriakar said as she took a seat next to the admiral.
"Be seated everyone, and thanks for telling me that you've already contacted the fleet, Davadra." Admiral Jackson said as Commander Alexander Scott slithered through the oval door before it slid shut.
"Or stand, if you wish." Captain Celane added as everyone sat around the table with the exception of Amber Lea Jackson whom David had posted as sentry, just inside the briefing room door.
"This meeting will now come to order, and I just didn't have the time to tell you Robert." Davadra said having gained every ones attention after reaching over and loudly smacking the touch control pad that shut the view port window overlooking Round Forest.
"No distractions." she added, shortly before she shoved her chair back to stand at the table, all eyes now trained upon her.
"We are currently en-route, along with the galactic fleet, to the Uorexuan neutral zone, where we shall rendezvous with an unknown Zaleen battle cruiser destroyer in the orbit of the planet Glammadren." Consortium President Adriakar re-informed everyone while they listened in as a few late arrivals showed up for the meeting. "Previously we were led to believe that this destroyer was the Kalaketvia Tawn, commanded by Valakadria Tawn herself, leading a third of the Zaleen fleet to join us against the new Empress of Zaleena."
"You have all been lied to." Valakadria said as she stood up and gazed into their faces. "My ship, it's crew, and myself, are the only defecting party from the Zaleen fleet." Valakadria explained before everyone.
"I knew we were headed right into another damned trap!" Commander Jackson exploded as he came up and out of his chair.
"You would have been if I hadn't of---
"Would have been hell!" David Jackson heatedly replied. "I don't know why we're having this little pow wow!"
"It's useless to talk about a war, that I, for one, know that we ain't gonna win, Zena!" Commander Jackson thundered as he pointed his finger at Valakadria.
"Are you through, Commander Jackson?" Davadra asked as she locked eyes with him.
"No, I'm not!" he answered as he walked around the table to stand toe to toe with Davadra Adriakar if not face to face. "All that we've ever managed to accomplish since being abducted into this cowardly lion of a tribe seventeen years ago, is to have these little pow wow's and retreats."
"Another pow wow, and another retreat." Commander April said aloud. "I hadn't quite thought of it that---
"I have to agree with Commander Jackson." Valakadria said having interrupted April as she sat down, and you could have heard a pen drop as David Jackson turned from Davadra and gazed in Valakadria's direction.
"Wow!" Commander Jackson exclaimed. "And you're the one that had to sit down."
"Commander Jackson, you do have a way with words and facial expressions." Davadra stated as he walked back to his chair and dropped back down into it, eyes still riveted on Valakadria Tawn.
"Just why are we continuing on this trip into oblivion alone?" Tori Buckingham asked as she leaned against the closed view port window
"We're not going alone, Tori," Admiral Jackson replied as he turned in his seat to face her. "Davadra made contact earlier today with the galactic fleet."
"They're spreading themselves the entire length of the Uorexuan neutral zone," Davadra Adriakar told her as well.
"Pretty damned thinly too, if I might add my imput." Commander April said, stating his opinion.
"I dread taking us all to our deaths." Captain Celane said with folded hands in font of her face. "I lost my ship, the Atrebella Edohr and her crew, in the orbit of Odaralockia."
"I'm not thrilled at the prospect of having to lose the Orion in the orbit of Glammadren." she added.
"It wasn't your fault Captain." said Commander April. "We about lost the Orion at Odaralockia too."
"The Zaleen's have sent a decoy ship across the neutral zone to rendezvous with us at Glammadren, and with the help of Commodora Tawn, her ship, and it's crew, the decoy ship, pretending to be the Kalaketvia Tawn, will be our immediate concern right now." Admiral Jackson said as he read the information about Valakadria on the vid-com monitor screen.
"The other worlds in the Consortium will deal with the rest of the Zaleen's, as, and if, they are able." Davadra said as she sat back down beside Admiral Jackson.
Tori Buckingham had come to this meeting for one reason and that was to determine who their enemy really was if she could get things into perspective.
"Commodora Tawn, you were born on the planet Zaleena?" Tori asked out of the blue as she turned to face her.
Valakadria placed both hands on the arms of her chair and shoved herself out of it in anger, but she let the anger slowly pass and sat back down in her seat and sighed.
"Yes, I was born on Zaleena, why do want to know this?" she asked as Tori spun around to face Davadra.
"Davadra, you were born on the planet Delindria?" Tori asked as she waited her answer.
"Where are we going with this Bucking---
"Let's just hear her out Davadra." Admiral Jackson said as he placed his left hand on her right hand and held it under the table.
"Yes, I was born on Delindria." she answered as Robert Jackson lightly squeezed her hand under the table and she smacked his with her free hand.
"Davrina, you, your sister Davadra, and Valakadria, are half sisters, having the same father?" Tori asked as she turned to her this time.
"Just why are you asking these things of us?" Davrina asked as she slowly arose from her seat to stand while giving Robert Jackson an evil eye.
"We didn't come here for history lessons Cadet---
"Answer her Davrina." Admiral Jackson ordered as he tried yet again to hold her sister Davadra's hand.
"Yes we have, or should I say had, the same father." Davrina answered somewhat reluctantly as everyone listened to Tori.