Outside VON orbit
September 23 2332
“ Have you found them yet Crafton? Have you tried everything yet? There has to be some way to find that ship!” Richard was pacing now, a vein throbbed in his head. How did you do it Gorrean?He yelled in his thoughts. Just how?
“I have tried a lot of things Richard, but only legal things…if I do what I want to do, then believe me I can definitely find them. I have a hunch…and believe me it's reliable…that if I can do what I have in mind, I will find them...or at least see if I can find out which way they went, it will be tricky and illegal… in Confederate terms anyway.” Crafton's voice carried a sly tone that Richard picked up on, and only when it was used did Crafton truly earn his pay.
“Just what are you thinking Crafton, don't make it too serious or the Confederacy will have our hides.”
Richard could see Crafton express a smirk. “Since when isn't my work serious? Anyway, what I am planning is to get into the feeds and reports of the Surveillance satellites and drones I know for a fact the Confederacy has deployed throughout their galaxy namely: The Milky Way, then we have sure chance we can find out which way that vessel went.” Crafton leaned back in his chair looking pleased with himself being right.
Richard didn't even have to think about his answer. “Get it done and contact me when you get a lead, I’m going to get Jayson and see if he has any ideas on the matter.”
Pressing the end button Richard quit pacing and settled into his office chair, he began to rub his temple. “What have you gotten us into Aiden?”
In his peripheral vision Richard noticed one of some of his screens cut to an open transmission screen, it was from Jayson.
“Yes what is it Jayson?” Richard looked at the screen.
Jayson was standing there straight-faced.
“You know what it is Richard! Has Crafton contacted you yet?”
“Well of course.” Richard became unsure of what exactly was wrong with the man.
“Well why haven't you called me?” Jayson sounded paranoid.
“I just got out of conference with him calm down he said he'll call me when he gets a lead on where the Frumantarii probably carried off Aiden.”
Jayson slapped his forehead. “You must be kidding. Seriously, that could take forev-” Jayson got cut off mid-sentence.
“Actually it won't” Crafton popped up next to Jayson on the screen. “Well it didn't anyway. I hacked into the video feed in a satellite the Confederacy had floating around that caught Aiden's ship flying close to the post Neptunian region…actually straight into Neptune. I tried to get closer but hacking into the satellite's flight controls would alert confederate techies.” As he spoke, the footage showed a VON ship fly directly past the camera's view and as the camera focused on the ship the bright blue-green planet Neptune came into view as well, and the Ship was heading for the planet, the camera zoomed in at least x500 and the ship disappeared into one of the storms in the atmosphere then the video ended.
“Interesting but can we follow a stray lead like this? It’s so little to rely on.”
Jayson was trying to hold his head up, the stress was really getting to him.
“It's all we have to rely on and it's pretty spot on. Not only is that a VON ship but it is Aiden's ship, the one he left the OASIS in.” Richard recognized the worksmanship, VON technology was very distinctive.
Jayson held his gaze for a moment only trying to keep his composure.
Richard was anything but tired, and sprang into action immediately. “Well alright…we have our lead and our acquired location. Let’s set this operation in motion! Jayson, bring the entire Empire to alert tell everyone the developing news, I want everyone up to speed, the civilians will find out everything at a need-to-know basis.”
Jayson hopped up also. “Yes right away-wait- the whole entire empire everywhere? Throughout our systems?”
Richard stared back up at the two. “Yes”
Jayson groaned and got off screen and followed orders seconds later one of his men came barreling into his office spouting the 'newly acquired news'. When he noticed Crafton on the screen he knew quickly that Richard was one step ahead of his men. Always.
“Alright what is it you'll have me do? Now that everyone knows that our precious leader has been abducted and all.” Now that Richard was being hyperactive, Crafton decided to get back into the patriotic spirit.
Richard cracked a smile at the edges of his mouth. “Get me Aiden's personal guards, all of them, and get his fleet. I am commandeering it for the rescue, ill need the best of the best, and also get any ships you can and get them to the OASIS…fast, we need everything we can throw at them.” Richard began counting off orders.
Crafton took out an imaginary note pad and pretended to jot down what Richard said, when he showed him his notes for review Richard could see a tic tack toe game in place on the pad he was writing on.
“Funny isn't it? I got really good.”
Down in the hangar of the OASIS, Richard climbed aboard the biggest flagship and took command: uploading his personal A.I. Brianna and storing the other one in the ships own memory database, it would be a shame to lose an entire A.I. Once in command, he launched the ship from
the OASIS with several others at his back. Once he was out of the Hangar, he was to meet Aiden's fleet near the Space Teleporter. He could see them flying around closer to it almost there he gave the order of full speed, meeting them halfway.
Crafton was already aboard the Eminence, Aiden's biggest, baddest, and most powerful ship he ever had developed, it was a marvel to look at.
As Crafton looked out of the bridge’s window he could already notice Richard and his ships leaving the OASIS. He sure did bring a lot of company, it was going to be hell getting through to the Confederacy. Let alone into their space. “This is Commanding General Richard. We are away, the fleet is operating at full capacity, and all systems are normal. Proceeding to the transportation portal. Brigadier General, let's get this operation started.”
Neptune’s low orbit
September 24 2332
“Time to reveal my final plot against the Confederacy, it’s a good one too. I promise you that I can finally get rid of that ‘blue green and white colored nuisance’ Earth, my next to greatest enemy, including you of course. I will attack with such a force not even they can handle… and maybe you won’t either.” Gorrean started to pace again, circling the room around Aiden.
“I will be unstoppable…so much time is lost bickering and arguing in the Confederacy, and I still don’t understand why you ever even bother to indulge yourself in that stupid organization. Politicians are very petty, as you may well know already.”
Aiden stopped to think for a moment. Why did I join them? They are useless to me. I can support my own people, the empire is flourishing and wealthy enough without those trade routes. I am sure in enough time I could gather funds to take control and monopoly them. It would only be so long before- Aiden’s thoughts were interrupted b a mild slap on the head by Gorrean. “I am not done yet.” He sighed.
“When I am through you can ask any questions you have, do not forget that I am in charge here.” Aiden drew a breath and let him continue. “Now then, the force I am using will be familiar to you as much as the back of your hand… you did give it to me as all.”
Aiden winced. What are you talking about Gorrean? Aiden knew for a fact that he would never give Gorrean an upper hand on purpose. “I would never give you any of my superior technology, you would have to be insane to believe that!”
Gorrean laughed at his plight. “Oh but you did give it to me, piece by piece after every little battle I have taken your technology and manufactured my own. I examined it, learned from it, picked it apart and re-mastered it.” Gorrean let a wide smile show, he was sure of himself. Why wouldn’t he be? He beat Aiden this time, and re-took his place at the top of most dangerous list. Not officially, but in due time he would make sure he had.
Aiden couldn’t believe it he had been fooled, he had practically awarded Gorrean with every piece of technology used in a lost battle, whenever the Frumantarii killed a soldier or destroyed a ship, they scavenged it and took whatever they could find that was functional and remade something out of it. He finally beat me, he did it. And I let him do it. This actually is happening and I don’t think there’s anything I can do to fix it.
Aiden had to try extremely hard to hide the shame on his face and located it in his eyes, he could feel the sadness swelling in him and he almost let it out.
He looked up to see Gorrean smiling in his face, he turned toward the door and left. Aiden heard him say something but couldn’t make it out, but by the time he had guessed, it was too late, and the two guards at the door moved closer and one took out a device. And as if out of nowhere, Aiden blanked out.
Outside VON orbit Open space
Aboard the Eminence: Bridge
September 24 2332
“Richard, I still don’t get it, why would they take him to Neptune? It is a wasted space anyway, nothing but storms water, methane, and extremely high speed winds… oh and ice frozen water big deal. I just don’t understand it.”
Crafton was standing in the bridge of the Eminence and he could definitely see the Teleportation Arc, floating blissfully and carefree in free space around VON powered and tethered to the OASIS. It loomed near the space station, and anyone who even flew outside the atmosphere could see it. And Crafton and Richard’s fleet were flying around just outside it, as the Operators in the OASIS calibrated and fixed any problems that could occur. There was only a %2.3 chance that anything would go wrong.
“We are going there because I am certain Aiden is being held captive there. It is also the best chance we have at finding him, so if you have any more dumb objections before we go and dematerialize ourselves be sure to ask!” Richard yelled through the earpiece Crafton was wearing, he would surely have to replace it if he did that a couple more times.
“OK alright calm down, let’s just get this over with, I don't like being dematerialized, it feels...different, not unpleasant but different.” Richard's sigh spread through the speaker.
“Sissy. Way more times than four have I gone through that portal and came back out. You get used to it. Now then we just have to wait for this thing to get fired up and we can get going.” Crafton puffed out his chest, trying to look more masculine than he was.
“I should really get around to seeing what I can do to get that thing ready faster.” Crafton said and rested on his elbow.
It only took twenty minutes to get the portal ready and enter the direct coordinates for where the ships were supposed to exit slip-space, if anything was done wrong, the ships could come out in the middle of nowhere floating in space. Or not come out at all. As Crafton stared outside the window he noticed the light blue window of light appear inside the arc of the portal. Here we go, he thought. Richard was thinking the same thing. He whispered: I am coming for you Aiden.
After entering the portal, Crafton and Richard's fleet exited slip-space and landed just outside the Milky Way’s borders, it would only take several minutes to reach Neptune. And once we do we'll find you Gorrean, and we'll get Aiden back and you'll be dead. Richard promised himself he'd have Gorrean's head, not physically of course.
Awake again, Aiden woke up lying down in a bed. A bed? He thought and hesitated to open his eyes, not knowing what bright light or menacing Frumantarii were staring down at him. He cautiously opened them, his eyes revealing faint florescent light beaming down at him. Blinking a few times he sat up and saw that he was still clothed. Observing the room he notices that there was a figure sitting across the room, cross legged. It was a man, Aiden could tell. Tall, bulky, bald. Oh no. “Awake are we? Good, now we can really get down to business. What I have planned is genius, the perfect plan. All that needs to be done is simply take action, and that day is coming very soon.” Gorrean glanced at Aiden. “You cannot stop what is coming, and neither can the confederacy. Then again. If you leave the Confederacy, I will not come for you first maybe last. I will take down every colony the confederacy has established and finally move on to earth, cutting out the cancer.”
Aiden scoffed.”Melodramatic to the fullest.”
“Interesting how you can be so rude to your captors. Your full of pride you know, too much of it.” Gorrean glared at Aiden.
“A blessing and a curse” Aiden laughed to himself.
“Indeed. Why do you side with the Earth Confederacy? They are corrupt
and weak, letting every little problem they encounter muster and grow. And once they realize its seriousness they opt for money and protection. I got to observe that first hand at the latest meeting. Then again who can blame them?”
Aiden stood and leaned against the nearest wall. He stared down Gorrean and didn't take his eyes off him, he looked for a weakness, anything that would get him out of there. Though he showed nothing he held a casual tone. So sure he could win. “I side with the humans because they are beneficial to me and my empire.”
“That's different, explain.” Gorrean seemed interested.
“Must I?” Aiden hesitated.
“Yes.” it almost sounded like an order.
“So be it then, I stay in the confederacy because they offer small amounts of protection, supplies and best of all, wealth. An empire as big as mine cannot stay afloat operating off of scraps. That is why I stay with them. But not for much longer, I plan to exeunt myself from the confederacy soon enough after my own needs are met.” Aiden began to smile thinking of it all.
“Needs such as?”
“In due time I will explain. But probably not for awhile.” Aiden held up a forbidding finger.
“Our mysteries are what keep this war interesting. I will find out when you reveal them, as you said. In due time.” Gorrean exhaled a tad overdramatically
“Getting something on radar sir, multiple blips! Could be hostile.” A crewman shouted across the room where Crafton sat in his captain's- or brigadier's- chair leading the fleet. “Then ready weapons, I don't want any Frumantarii sneaking up on us.”
“Hey Crafton, can I ask you something? Are you an idiot? Because you're about to fire on Confederate ships!” Richard’s voice rang in his ears.
Crafton froze. “Oh.” and his voice trailed off. “Deactivate weapons! NOW! Before they think we are attacking them!” Crafton almost fell out of his seat.
Richard's sigh sounded through the earphone. “Well sorry! I didn't expect to find any of the Confederates this far out here!” Crafton just noticed what he was saying and he could feel Richards glare all the way from his own ship. It was an uneasy feeling.
Just then, a face appeared onto everyone’s communication screens. It belonged to a man, he was a formal type, clearly human. And obviously Confederate.
The man was Pale and blonde-haired. He had a serious disposition, and didn't seem happy to have to talk to foreigners.
“This is Major Alex Stone. And you are in Confederate space without notice. State your business.”
Crafton wasn't used to being ordered around by anyone else except Aiden and Richard, but even they didn't use such aggression. The man’s voice was short and to the point.
Crafton cleared his throat. “Our leader has been captured, presumably by the Frumantarii and we have tracked him here. To your galaxy specifically Neptune. That is where we are headed.”
The Major was unconvinced. Yes, we have heard of the incident with your leader. Our security has been doubled all over our own territory and even tripled here. We cannot let you pass at this moment. The possibilities of any Frumantarii getting into the system are little to none.”
Richard saw what was happening. The fleet had stopped moving, Confederate ships surrounded both of their fleets and put them to a halt.
Beam scanners showed that they had readied their weapons, and had their cannons aimed and fixated on them. “We cannot let you pass at the moment.”
The 'Major' had said. That made Richard decide to interrupt.
“I do not care for you security! Only that you give us leave further into you system and let us investigate the disappearance of our friend and leader! Failure to do so will violate the terms of your own treaty made by your government! 'We will help each other in times of war, plague, and uncertainty' isn't that what it says?” Richard stressed those words.
Crafton was about to reply to the Major's response as to how they could not be permitted into the system. But Richard and his big mouth had to interrupt.
“I care not for your security!” Richard broke in. and started to scream at the Major and what sounded like insulting the Major and his Government. That would come back for them later.
“Okay we understand your predicament and grant you privilege to enter the system. Be warned that it is a privilege not a right. You will be being watched.” The Major fixated his stare at Richard. He thought he had seen anger flash in his eyes, but there was no way to tell.
As the ships that had surrounded them parted and dissipated he looked forward towards Neptune. He could see it, and was certain that Aiden, his friend and leader, was being held there. Captured, abducted, and taken.
There will be no mercy this time Gorrean. Crafton thought. We will find you and make sure to eliminate you personally from existence.