* Chapter Five *
Admiral Mazanurra exited the galley without another word said, and David and James returned to take their seats with us at the table. I pressed a button on the table and a touch screen menu arose in front of me with a complete food index for every species aboard the ship. Naturally I chose the earthen cuisine which had been added shortly after the arrival of culinary chefs from all seven continents on the planet Earth, and not only that, it was written in English. David's appetite had diminished somewhat as he sat there without uttering a single word for the rest of our time in the galley. No one dared bicker back and forth or start or join in a fight started by anyone else in the galley. It was now deathly quiet here after the little face-off between David and the chief of security. There wasn't even any music from any world at all being played in the galley on the over head speakers, if that's what they were. I turned around in my seat to face the table behind me and sought out and found my yeoman after finishing my meal.
"Captain Robert Andrew Jackson, and Commander Donald Sherman April, please be advised at this time, that you are to report to the bridge at seventeen hundred hours, earthen standard time, Admiral Kondulon Mazanurra, out." said the voice on those over head speakers.
"Well Yeoman Zaranazi, are we ready to go?" I asked as I stood up from the table and prepared to head back to my quarters as was ordered by Admiral Mazanurra.
"Robert, I'm coming with you." David said as he arose from the table. "Janice, take the kids and go back to our quarters, my brother and I have to talk. And don't worry, I won't be long."
"No fighting or fussing and complaining?" I asked as I left the galley along with David, Zaella, and the others. I wanted to hurry back to my quarters and contact Doctor Henderson and check up on my family in the med unit before I viewed any red disc.
"Nah, not now any way." David answered as we all walked across the bridge and entered on the path that led us here.
"See you on the command bridge, Donald." I said as he readied to pass by with Marsha, Andrew, and Ben. "Where's Martin?"
"Around here somewhere." Donald answered. "He probably knows this part of the ship better than any of us."
"See you guys later." Jim said as he rushed past us.
"Darla and Summer with you?" I asked.
"Yeah, that's why I'm in a hurry." he said as he disappeared up ahead. "I think she went to see Patricia."
"Looks like you're going to have your hands full now with the Perinnan security chief." I said as David and I walked side by side and I checked the time on my vid com watch. Yeoman Zaranazi tagged along behind us with her hands folded behind her back.
"Heck, I never had the slightest idea that little twerp was going to be my superior officer or . . . Robert, tell me, where are we for real?" my brother asked as we continued down another pathway.
"We are aboard an alien space vessel from one of thirteen destroyed or dominated worlds." I explained,as best as I could. "We have one year to prepare ourselves and take this ship into a battle against an invading race and try above and beyond all and everything else, not to become the fourteenth world to fall."
"Commander Jackson, when you play your red disc in your living unit, you will know, even if you do not completely understand." Zaranazi said as she walked up beside and cut in front of the two of us, stopping us in our tracks.
"Who are you?" David asked.
"I am Yeoman Zaella Zaranazi, from the planet Uorexua which no longer exists, because of the Zaleens." she explained to my brother with tears in her eyes.
"According to the admiral and his niece here, ours is to be the next world on the Zaleens list for extermination." I said as I dug for, and passed her, my handkerchief. "That's why we are here to prevent, that is we are able, the destruction of our home world."
"So we've been drafted . . . abducted, or whatever else, aboard this space ark to save the Earth and our own bacon from an alien attack force." David replied as he folded his hands behind his back.
"The admiral believes that we are our worlds only hope for the continuation of life in our solar system." I said before he took me by the right arm with his right hand.
"I don't like any of this brother." David said as we stood by the airlock portal that would lead us from the sciences section to the command section of the Orion. "Something just isn't clicking right because we sure as hell aren't the military or freedom fighters or---
"I know, lets find out what we can decipher from viewing our red discs in our quarters and we'll take the next step from that point." I replied as we entered into a busy corridor.
"Yeoman, may I ask you what a Slopan Sliver and a Thrug Sherbet is?" my brother asked.
"A Slorpan Sliver and a Thrug Shalurt are . . . or were horrendously fanged creatures that once lived in the worst of filth and slime or garbage in the swamps and bogs of the planet Perrina." Zaella Zaranazi answered.
"I think I've been called a pig, more or less!" David stormed madly.
"David, I've got a little over three hours before I have to report to the command bridge on this ship, so, we had best get to our quarters while time is still on our side." I told him.
"Yeah, see you around bro." he replied as he moved on down the corridor to find the security section.
After contacting med bay and finding that Patricia was asleep, and resting well, and that the children were in capable hands, I then placed the red vid com disc into the player and sat back in my chair, and along with my yeoman who sat in a chair next to mine, we waited for the show to begin. Within seconds we were watching the Zaleens travel from one inhabited world to another taking the planets by peaceful surrender, or in all out bloody and devastating battles. Any resistance at all was met with death and obliteration as their punishment for disobedience. As worlds were blown apart, the lucky ones, or the survivors, got to watch from view port windows in their cells aboard the Zaleen battle ships. Home worlds were all wiped completely out of existence because they refused to give in to their invaders. One alien vessel from a previously lost battle was sent to the next inhabited world, such as the Dorion Adriakar had been sent to Earth, prior to the Zaleen invasion forces showing up in their solar systems. Why not just show up and claim your next world win, lose, or draw, and forgo the preliminaries? My only conclusion was that we were being monitored in some way, manner, and or fashion, for our strengths and weaknesses, but why, they never lost regardless of the outcome. So, why in the hell would they want to take the time to toy with us, and train us, to fight a loosing battle against them? Why the waste of time? David was right, about something not being right.
"Zaranazi, I've seen about as much of this red disc as I want to see in one day." I said as I stood in order to shut it down. "Enough of it, that is, to know that we'll either surrender peacefully to the Zaleens and become servants, or---
"Are you ready to go to the command bridge, Captain?" she asked.
"Why not." I answered as I shut down my vid com unit, and walked towards the oval entry door of my living unit and out into the busy corridor, while a short time later the oval elevator lift door zipped open and I stepped out and on to the upper deck of the Orion's massive bridge with Yeoman Zaranazi on my heels.
"Your late, Captain." Donald April said as Zaranazi and I joined him on the lower deck.
"Really now, me, late." I replied as I glanced briefly at my vid com watch. "Well, here we are, for better or for worse, Commander."
"Did you have to say or for worse." April replied as we began a tour of each station on the inner bridge. "I believe that I would enjoy our little adventure if not for the or for worse part."
The oval lift door parted and another of our earthly friends, who we hadn't had contact with in at least a thousand moons and a few minutes and half a life time, or so it seemed, stepped off of the lift and on to the upper deck of the bridge and froze, as if she had seen the devil, face to face while Zaranazi had decided to wander about the bridge.
"Laura, welcome aboard the Orion." Donald said in greeting as the two of us walked over to a set of steps that led from the lower to the upper portion of the bridge.
"I thought that it was hell, but if you want to call it the Orion, that will . . . how did we get---
"Sis, did you happen, by any chance what so ever, have a chance to look at the red vid com disc in your quarters?" I asked as she stood there, unmoving.
"If you mean the red d.v.d. , oh yeah, I sure did, and that's why I want to go home and dig a deep hole and bury myself in it till it's all over. Please tell me that this is just a very bad dream or a night---
"Don't say nightmare, or else Donald will tell you that it's all happening because of a pizza that we ate." I told her as Donald just shrugged his shoulders.
"If we aren't having a nightmare, we can kiss our . . . selves goodbye." April told her as the lift doors parted yet again to allow another old friend entry on to the bridge.
"Helmsman, they said, you're going to pilot this ship, they said!" Steven Allen Davis said aloud, and to himself, as he stepped on to the bridge, bumping into Laura Andrews.
"Oh shit, aliens that look like old friends from my high school days. Damn, what a hangover I'm having. Lord, I swear, if you'll let me wake up in the morning in my own bed, I'll never take another drink again, cross my heart and fingers and all that other hope to die---
"Hello, Stephus." Donald said as he interrupted our friend.
"Oh no, it even sounds like April, and it even called me Stephus." Davis rattled on.
"Still don't know where you're going, do you Steve?" Laura asked as she moved a step or two away from him so that she could size him up.
"I'm in hell!" Steve cried out upon seeing who he had bumped into. "Hell has found me for sure!"
"What was in that last drink I had that killed me?'' Davis asked as he sat down on the steps between the upper and lower deck of the bridge. "And why me?"
"Laura, what position did they pen on you?" I asked as I gazed down at Steve, noticing that he held his face with both hands while his elbows rested on his knees.
"Communications Officer." Laura answered as she stepped down to the lower deck, toeing Steve with her right foot. "But I think that I'd make a better helmsman than Steve."
Are you guys really April, Jackson, and Laura, Laura . . . whatever your last name is now?" Davis asked as he gazed up at us.
"Yes, it's us Stephus." Donald answered. "And something tells me that you may not have had a chance to see the red disc that---
"Oh I saw the damn thing alright." Davis replied. "Talk about a sobering and make you want to get drunk again experience of waking up in your bed and having an alien from Lost In Space staring down into your face. It would have made Doctor Smith proud to have heard my screams of unholy terror."
"I don't doubt it." Laura replied as she gazed down at him.
"Okay, where the devil am I supposed to sit on this ship of the damned?" Davis said as he lifted his head.
"Over there, and Steve, don't touch anything yet!" Donald answered as he pointed with his right hand to the helm station.
"We're as good as dead if he's driving Donald's nightmare." Laura said as she looked for her station on the bridge.
"No pizza or liquor is that good, or that bad to have---
"Robert, Donald, sorry for the interruption, but I think that we've got a grand scale problem that none of us are going to be able to alleviate." Alexander William Scott said as the oval lift door parted. and he. along with two other non Terran beings, stepped off of the lift and on to the command bridge. One of them walked over to the helm station while the other one went to the communications station. Alex came and joined us as we stood near the steps.
"This is going to be one fix or tight spot that will take every one of us---
"Straight to hell!" Steven Davis thundered as he staggered to the helm station, falling into his chair.
"Is that Davis?" Alex asked.
"Yes, what's left of him." Laura Andrews replied as she took her seat on the bridge.
Davis just waved back at Alex and nodded before looking down at his console while the alien crew member pointed out something to him.
"If what we've seen on our red disc, and what the admiral has told us is indeed the truth or actual fact, then our own home world is in for a very rude awakening, especially if we are unable to fulfill our duties and come out of this alive." Alex said, explaining what we already knew to be the truth of the matter.
"Then you don't believe that I'm dreaming all of this, or all of us, up?" Donald asked as he leaned over and on to the railing that circled the bridge.
"I would like to know for sure, but may the Lord help us all if it's not a nightmare." Alex answered as the admiral came in on to the bridge and gazed over to find his niece, sitting at the sciences station, quietly observing us.
Donald, Alex, I pray that our galaxian crew members know exactly what they're doing, by making me their captain. It should have been your position, Donald." I said as I glanced over at the admiral, who happened to be looking directly over at us.
"Thanks, but no, Captain." Donald April replied. "At any other time, other than now, I might agree whole-heartedly with you Robert, but I feel more at ease manning the sciences computer station."
"I understand." I said as I turned to Alex Scott. "And what about you Alex?"
"Me, a captain?" Alex asked as he slapped me on the back. "I'm the weapons and defense engineer, and it'll take the likes of me to contend with the likes of your brother David, should he go on the rampage again."
"I can see your point too." I replied, as the being who stood at the communications station had a view of the Earth, up on the four vid screens above the outer bridge stations.
"Why's the admiral just standing there like a wooden Indian---
"Admiral on the bridge!" April yelled out as he snapped to attention along with Alex, the others and myself, that is, everyone but Steven Davis.
"So what, do you have to yell?" Steve yelled back at us as he turned in his seat. "I've got a splitting headache the size of . . . who the hell is that!"
"At ease everyone." the admiral ordered before walking down the three steps to the lower deck of the bridge and striding over to where we stood. "As you were."
"Admiral, has any of our world leaders seen the red vid com disc that we've been introduced to in our quarters?" I asked as I stood before him.
"Before they do Captain, I need to know what's going on in your mind?" he asked.
"My own opinion is that we don't have a third option to tell the Zaleens to go away and leave us the hell alone." I answered. "Understand me Admiral, when I say that I fail to understand, why our enemy just doesn't show up unannounced and take possession of our world without giving us any warning. That is what I am having a major problem under---
"Well, I'm in no damn hurry for them to come any sooner!" Commander April stormed at me. "If that's what you're---
"Admiral, let me get this ironed out for all of us here." I said overlooking Donald's outburst. "You have beaten the Zaleens here by one earthen year, to warn us, if not to prepare us, for a war that we'll not win, in an uncertain future, alive as servants on Earth, or somewhere else, wishing that we were dead, as slaves, because our home world got blown to smithereens. Not a very pretty picture, either way you want to paint it."
"Admiral, I can't see the Orion going up against a fleet of Zaleen battle ships coming at us from all different directions, for one of them alone, by itself, would be efficient enough, to destroy us." Commander Scott replied.
"So, is there something else that you're withholding from us, Admiral Malaria, sir." Commander April added.
"You may as well draw me a detailed map of this damn thing, because two minutes from now I'll have forgotten everything!" Lieutenant Steven Davis thundered at his alien instructor.
"I hope that your insurance is paid up to date on this ship if he's going to be our fly boy." Lieutenant Laura Andrews said from her station.
"Sweetie, after I get the hang of this, I'll be able to fly around the rings of Saturn." Davis replied from the helm.
'I'm not your sweetie, and if you so much as---
"We're going to get along really swell as a team Admiral." April said as he watched Steve turn back to his console while waving us off. "My, what a pizza."
"Let me assure you, Commander April, that what you consumed the night of your being brought here, has in no way altered your mind, nor it's ability to function properly, as it should." the admiral replied. "All of this . . .
Mazanurra stopped short and stomped his right foot down hard on the deck floor before he gave Donald a hard shove throwing him into Alex who along with Donald knocked me over and we all tumbled like dominoes to the deck flooring.
. . . is very real, earthlings!"
Steven Davis came quickly to his feet and shoved his instructor out of the way before springing up and over the helm station to leap on to the admiral, who swatted him away as if he were a fly. Alex tried the same tactic from Mazanurra's backside and was tossed off with a flip.
"Alex, Steve, enough already!" I ordered as Donald and I helped one another to our feet. "The admiral was trying to prove a point, or so I think."
Catching the admiral and all of us off guard, Donald tackled Mazanurra like a freight train plowing an animal off of its tracks, and bowled him off of his feet and he landed flat on his back with a hard thump as Donald rolled over the top of him like a bowling ball that had struck its pin dead on.
"Donald, that little skirmish that we got into earlier today with David when he slammed us up on to the corridor wall outside of our quarters, should have woke us up and told us something!" I thundered.
"It did, I just needed the exercise." Donald said as he now knelt out of breath beside Steven Davis who still lay flat on his back.
"You okay Steve?" Donald asked as he helped Steven Davis to sit upright.
"Don't know, I think so." Davis answered. "Boy does that Martian ever pack a punch like Laura."
"You're pushing it Steve!" Laura growled as she arose from her seat while the admiral got back upon his feet.
"I don't believe that he's hurt to bad, gentlemen." Admiral Mazanurra said as he extended his hand to Steve and he pulled him to his feet as if it were effortless. "And the name is Mazanurra, Commander April."
"Well, Robert, Donald, Alex, Laura, how the heck are you?" Davis said nervously. "It's been an awful long time."
"Awful is right, Lieutenant Davis." I said. "Considering the fact that we're a bunch of misfits abducted aboard an alien space ship on our one way trip into oblivion."
"Howdy, Donny Boy, how's it going man?" Davis asked before he passed out cold on the deck.
"This is going to be one hell of a vacation." April said. "I can see that, right now."
"Well, Admiral, what's next?" I asked as I stood facing him."
"Your ready room, Captain." the admiral answered. "Instructors are waiting patiently for the rest of you at your stations, and Andrews, call for a medic, and Lieutenant Javreen, to come to the bridge."