* Twenty -Nine *
"This is Zanarian Space Command Central," said a female voice over the bridge speakers. "State the nature of your business in our solar system." she added as Captain Celane sat back in the command chair.
"This is the United Galactic Consortium flagship Dorion Adriakar en-route from the planet Glammadren," Celane replied back. "Captain Sathrana Celane in command. Our business is with Commodora Valakadria Tawn of the Zaleen battle cruiser Kalaketvia Tawn, that's now orbiting your planet as we---
"You are to conduct whatever business you may have while in orbit and then you will be escorted from our solar system at the conclusion of your business." she said having had interrupted the captain of the Orion.
"That is unsatisfactory," said Admiral Jackson as he entered onto the bridge. "This is United Galactic Consortium Fleet Admiral, Robert Andrew Jackson."
"You are to conduct whatever business you may have while in orbit and then you will be---
"This is United Galactic Consortium President, Davadra Allura Adriakar," Davadra Adriakar said, cutting in as she walked on to the bridge from the octagon corridor. "I request an audience with Unitor Zonalua at Consortium headquarters."
"You are to conduct whatever bus---
"Listen!" thundered Admiral Jackson as he spoke through the vid-com system. "Your people called us into your service, seventeen years ago, to deal with the Zaleens! Galactic Fleet Admiral Kondulon Mazanurra gave us our mission orders and directives! Now that we travel here to seek your aid, you want to turn us away! We have requested an audience with Unitor Zonalua at Consortium headquarters on the planet's surface and nothing short of granting our request will be acceptable! I'll have the fleet removed from Zanarian space and the Zaleens can blow your precious planet off the star charts!"
"Do I make myself perfectly clear on the matter?" the admiral said as he stood directly in front of the main viewer while the others on the bridge looked on, stunned at the force of the admiral's words to the Zanarians. "And I do mean ... to make the removal of the galactic fleet ... my business in the Zanarian solar system, the conclusion if we aren't---
"Stand by, Orion." said the female voice having had interrupted the admiral once again.
"Jay, Admiral," First officer Donald April said from his posted station on the bridge. "Your going to have a nervous break down if you don't chill out a little. I've never seen you this hot before---
"Commander April," Robert Jackson said as he done an about face to gaze over at his long time friend. "It seems as if I'm not the only one on this ship with a touch of alzheimers." he went on to say after a short pause, while he awaited an answer from Zanarian Space Command Central. The answer was quick in arriving as the main vid-screen came to life.
"Galactic Fleet Admiral Jackson, Galactic Consortium President Adriakar, your request will be granted, providing that you adhere to certain limitations and or restrictions that will be placed upon your landing parties." The Zanarian female said as she leaned back in her chair. "You and all members of your landing party will be quarantined and shall not be allowed off of Consortium grounds, nor will you or they be allowed to converse with anyone other than those of us that are necessary to conduct and conclude your business until your departure from our planet."
"Failure to comply with these limitations and restrictions will terminate your business and your stay with us," she informed the crew of the Orion as everyone watched and listened throughout the ship. "Do you understand, Admiral Jackson?" she asked, directing the conversation solely at him.
"That is satisfactory." Jackson answered as he gazed hatefully into the vid-screen.
"Very well," she replied. "Your shuttle will be brought to the surface by remote control to the landing site."
"We will be bringing Commodora Tawn along with us when we---
"That is not allowed." the Zanarian female said cutting the admiral short.
"As was mentioned earlier," Davadra Adriakar said, before Robert Jackson had a chance to blow his stack again. "Our business is with Commodora Valakadria Tawn of the Zaleen battle cruiser Kalaketvia Tawn."
"You are to conduct whatever---
"Your making this very hard on yourselves for not granting us so little of what we ask of you," Admiral Jackson said in a calmer state of mind. "Which isn't much, considering Valakadria Tawn is a member of our crew---
"All enemies of the Consortium and the planet Zanaria are denied access to the planets surface." the blond Zanarian female responded as she interrupted the admiral yet again.
"There will be no more discussion on the matter." she added.
"Then you leave me no choice but to withdraw the fleet from---
"Normally, we would have no further dealings with alien visitors to our world," said the voice connected to an elderly male Zanarians face on the main vid-com screen on the bridge. "But since the fleet admiral and president of the consortium are visiting us, we have no other choice but to grant you your request."
"Though however, the Zaleen must adhere to the rules and regulations as pertaining to off worlders. Zueaston Zonalua, Unitor of Zanaria, out." he said shortly before the screen darkened and the transmission was ended.
"Admiral," Davadra said as she turned to face him. "Why, of all the planets in the galaxy, did you want to come to Zanaria for our ... business with Commodora Tawn?"
"I'm asking that very question of myself." Jackson answered as he returned the look that Davadra was giving him.
"Our dilemma began with the Zanarians regardless of your Delindrian prophecies. Somehow and in some manner it must end with the Zanarians." he told her as the image of Valakadria Tawn filled the main screen.
"I've done as you have asked of me in your message capsule, Admiral." she said as Jackson and Adriakar returned their gazes back to the vid-screen. "I take it that we need to meet on the planet's surface via a shuttle from the Orion."
"Yes, Commodora Tawn, that we do." Jackson said as the former princess of Zaleena sat back in her command chair.
"In regards to the earlier transmission from Empress Vohaydren?" she asked, having let them know that she knew.
"Yes, Commodora ," the admiral answered as he gazed into the viewer. "Permission to come aboard is granted, Jackson---
"I believe, Admiral Jackson, that it was I that made contact with you," she quickly said before he thought to end the transmission himself. "Commodora Tawn, out."
Valakadria Tawn's personal shuttle came in to land on Forward Starvette Interceptor Deck A-One. Keletivia Torl descended the shuttle's ramp behind Valakadria as Robert Jackson, Davadra Adriakar, Sathrana Celane, Davrina Adriakar, DaraTekka, and David Jackson stood at the foot of the ramp awaiting their exit.
"I want to take this time to tell each and every one of you that any attempt to delay the inevitable will only make matters worse," Valakadria said as she stepped off the ramp of her shuttle. "Not only for my crew, and myself, but also for you, Admiral Jackson and the crew of the Orion."
"Valakadria, I thought that I had a plan in the works, but Dara showed me that it would be futile to pursue it any further," the admiral replied as he took her hand momentarily in his own. "According to Ambassador Tekka, your golden birth ring collars prevent someone else from impersonating you or they prevent you from impersona---
"The Ambassador has spoken the truth to you Robert," the commodora said as he released her hand. "Our only alternative is to surrender ourselves over to the empress of Zaleena."
"Shall we talk privately, Valakadria?" the admiral asked as Keletivia Torl walked passed the two of them to speak with the chief of security, Commander David Jackson.
Valakadria Tawn stood alone with Robert Jackson in the command section briefing room. Both of them were gazing out the oval view port window at the round forest sciences section of the ship, but their minds were not on the breath taking view. Valakadria's eyes had welled up with tears that fell and trickled down her cheeks as she turned to face the admiral of the galactic fleet in the consortium of inhabited worlds. Robert Jackson gazed into the eyes of the commanding officer of the Zaleen battle cruiser destroyer, Kalaketvia Tawn.
"As much as I would wish it to be otherwise, I have to make the trip to Glammadren with my crew and Ambassador Tekka, in order to save every innocent galaxian in our galaxy." Valakadria explained to him. "And you have no other choice but to escort us there." she said as she leaned back against the window.
"And as much as I sincerely hate the idea of having to do so, your right." Robert Jackson replied. "It is the only way to prevent the new empire and the consortium from going to war. I wish that there were another way of saving---
"There isn't Admiral, Robert," she informed him. "Keletivia, Dara, and the rest of my crew are at our end and there's absolutely nothing that you nor the crew of this ship can do to prevent the inevitable from happening."
"Off the record, how was it that I was able to win you over and not Empress Vohay---
"Kalindra Vohaydren is a full blooded Zaleen with no mind or heart for her enemies. Her only goal in life is to divide, conquer, and dominate worlds and their inhabitants, without regards as to who or whatever gets in her way, and tries to stop her ... and why am I having this conversation with you ... there's nothing that you can do for us, except to take us to her, for our disposal." Valakadria said as the admiral sat on the edge of the conference table.
"Your disp ... your disp ... damned it all to hell!" he thundered.
"You can't always get the girl ... or at least that's somewhat of how your brother David explained it to me." she told him as she shoved herself away from the oval window glass.
"Just how did he explain it to you exactly, Val?" Robert Jackson asked as he stood.
"We were discussing you of course," she replied.
"Naturally." he said as he walked over and took Valakadria in his arms.
"David, I mean, Commander Jackson came out and told me that I couldn't always get the guy ... meaning you of course." Valakadria went on to explain as she let Robert Jackson hold her.
"Well, it's not that I don't want to be caught, Val," he said as he lightly brushed her tears away while they stood there alone together. "I've got some very serious responsibilities that are of the utmost importance, and anything else at this time will have to wait."
"I know," she replied. "How many times have I heard you tell me ... and there you go again---
"Hey!" Jackson roared. "I didn't---
"Just deliver us to the empress, Admiral," Valakadria said as she pushed herself away from him. "After that, your responsibilities won't be as serious or so important any---
"No!" Jackson blasted. "They'll be magnified, because if that Zaleen witch so much as ... I'll kill her myself if I have to ride the Orion down her phasonic emitter shaft in order to---
"You really do love me, don't you Robert Andrew?" Valakadria said as she drew closer to him and stared him straight in the eyes.
"Yes, I do, and I always have." he finally told her, without saying, just as friends only. "That's why it's making it difficult for me to just throw you to that she spider and then be done with those very serious responsibilities of the utmost importance that I have."
"Me," Valakadria whispered in his ear. "But, it has to be done. As I said, I have to make the trip to---
"I know what you said," Jackson cut in to say. "It still doesn't mean that I have to like the idea."
"No, it doesn't." Valakadria Tawn replied. "And, it doesn't mean that I have to like saying it."
"Well, let's see what the Zanarian counsel has to tell us at Consortium headquarters," he told her before grabbing and kissing her as if there were no more tomorrows.