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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Security plans and two castaways

Submitted: December 06, 2007

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 06, 2007














Part 4 








James Gagiikwe

© 2002


Vizh Ki' Oste



Ki' Oste was delighted with his vessel. The Pelled Krasc [The Arrow Head] was the arrowhead of exploration. It looked as if the trivet-shaped seeds of the Merroe tree had been greatly enlarged. Viewed side on from a distance, the Pelled Krasc seemed a bulbous, spinning seed hanging dormant in space.


The Pelled Krasc was really three mated vessels. Each pod unit was designed for rapid jettisoning in the event of a catastrophic failure in space of the main engines or other primary units. This was still an all to common experience in Garhyarii space technology.


The A-Pod unit held officer and crew quarters, catering, weapons systems, and command facilities. Redundant, and small scale, technical, environmental and research systems, as well as a small ion-repulser/fuel-cell apparatus, gave A-Pod its potential emergency autonomy. “Navigation Command” occupied the centre of A-Pod’s spine. The forward and rear 'spine-array' clusters contained remote sensing equipment for research and defence. The spine-array mounted four "Mandar" weapons cupolas. Each cupola contained a particle beam generator, as originally developed for the Interdiction patrol vessels; and a full compliment of the older style guided rocket-projectile weapons. Each of theses was capable of mounting proximity-explosion or penetrating warheads.


 B-Pod, largest of the three pods, contained the primary engineering, dual-propulsion and life support equipment, as well as the shuttlecraft and storage holds. The two Ion-repulsers steerable venturi outlets occupied the vessel's basal lobes in this pod. A Hydrolytic Fission Reactor provided the electrical needs of the composite ship. A very small remote navigation room provided redundancy for the main Navcom, and control for an autonomous B-Pod at need.


C-Pod, the same dimensions as A-Pod, was a modified interplanetary passenger liner. At the rear of the deck were two holds, one unused hold awaiting samples of potentially exploitable resources from the Hysaron System, the other contained the majority of the consumable supplies. It also held a lab for the analysis of anticipated specimens. Forward of that was an assembly hall with catering facilities. It served as an off-duty gathering place for all passengers and crew, with tables for meals and listening carrels for entertainment. Though not excessive, it was the largest open space in the vessel. Next came the passageway nexus, wide enough for a cargo pallet or 4 passengers abreast. In the event of an emergency the passageway shafts separated into sections and automatically sealed each pod from the others. In a catastrophic event, the three pods were jettisoned from each other on tangential trajectories. Any surviving pods then theoretically becoming self-sufficient space craft.


Passenger accommodation, and the Taur’Regc was considered a ‘special passenger’ with diplomatic status, was designed for 20, but reconfigured, according to status, on this trip to house just 9. Forward of these were cabins for C-pod support crew, the valets. Then a hold that contained a selection of the products and non-military technology of the Confederation for contact and diplomacy. Contact and diplomacy were not for curiosity, but for the purpose of trade and home-world wealth-generation. Or, as some forcefully argued, for conquest, exploitation and the glory of Niv and the Confederation.


Ki' Oste was very proud of his vessel. She had handled beautifully during the original circumnavigation of the solar system. That first peripheral-stellar trip had been tentative, cautious, and mostly tedious. Even with hibernation periods and watch rotation there was lots of boring routine to numb an individual's mind. The improvements and additions since had added effectiveness to the vessel's mission, and the mission added prestige to his status. He was a Del, a 'Voyager' by nature as well as upbringing, and a coal of ambition smouldered in him, waiting to ignite. Success on that first voyage brought promotion and command of this enlarged vessel. Success on this direct contact voyage would bring endless opportunities.


His greatest ambition was not the command of a fleet, or diplomacy, or commerce. He wanted to be the Do'chiteron.  He saw with compelling clarity that the twin challenges to the Confederation's equilibrium, the combination of 'Contact' and the Syndicates, would propel whoever served as Do'chiteron into a position of total power in the Confederation. The position of High Counsellor and the Council members would require a firm hand and an imperturbable will. He had the experience and the will. He wanted the position and the power.


The Ki' walked slowly up and down the Navcom, taking in all the preparation details as they were reported on the D’Ana screens. He stopped twice to interrogate technicians manning the Ion, Hydrolytic and fuel-cell screens. The Bridge was actually a wide corridor, with D’Ana and electromechanical control panels stationed in carrels along each wall. An oval alcove up forward served as the Ki's command station. The smaller alcoves of vice-captain Tu' Venne and steersman Ng' Ilazor were positioned either side of the Ki’s, for ease of consultation or decision-making. Second-officer Mil' Gnoste, the captain’s consort, occupied her own alcove at the opposite end of the Bridge. On duty their personal relationship was sublimated to the chain of command. That put strains on their Consortium, but she had her own ambitions, and tolerated their difference in rank in view of its ultimate compensations.


Ki' Oste repeated his tour of the Bridge, smiled covertly at his Consort and entered the passage down to the officers' quarters. There he found Si' Viyatt Nu awaiting him. They spoke quietly for a moment and then entered his suite. The captain's suite, though not as well appointed as Tai' Gann's, was actually two rooms larger. The inner rooms were the private apartment of he and his consort. The outer two rooms were for the business and entertaining of his rank. He offered the Si' Viyatt her choice of form-chair and decanted some Chim. She chose the form-chair furthest from the portal, and activated its sensors. Soundlessly the chair measured weight, mass and dimensions, and adjusted the cushions to a perfect fit and support of her slightly elliptical form. They chatted about her family for a moment while they waited Taur' Regc's arrival. The chime sounded and Ki' Oste activated the portal from the remote on his personal form-chair. The pair stood for the third Garh's arrival.


"Dhiakolai" the Ki' greeted Taur' Regc in the Del-based 'Standard Garhyac'.


"Peshitai" Si' Viyatt Nu said in the more formal Uuma manner.


Taur' Regc, not expecting the Si' Viyatt to be at this private meeting, gave no reply to either greeting. That earned him a sardonic smile from the Ki'; and a small flair of the Si' Viyatt's nostrils. He missed the one response, and pretended to ignore the other altogether.


"Please be seated," the senior officer offered as he motioned to the remaining two chairs. The Taur' took the form-chair nearest the door, and activated his mechanism. The Ki' poured a third cup of Chim.


As he took the first obligatory sip of the fruit beverage Taur' Regc reflected comfortably that whoever had developed the form-chair, and the more complex hibernation-couch, deserved whatever rewards the Confederation gave to inventors. Space travel would have been so much more difficult without them. When each guest had put their cup down on the intervening table, the Ki' began, "I had anticipated the Si' Viyatt's attendance today. She carries a final private message from her father."


The Taur' merely said, "I see."


"My father wishes" she began without preamble, "you both to know that he fears the presence of  'Ab'Garhsheed ' saboteurs on board this or other vessels of the fleet."


"That was to be expected," the Ki' began, "in…"


"In both the Delegation and among the expansion crew," Taur' Regc finished the thought. “The captain and I have already taken steps to re-assess all crew. As I’m certain your father planned, you are best placed to assess the Delegation.”


In response Nu simply requested, “I would like us to meet regularly to share information.”


“Agreed” each officer said in turn. The captain stood to close the discussion.


"I will accompany you back to your suite," Taur' Regc announced formally as Nu stood. Si' Viyatt Nu gave a half-smile of assent and the two of them exited the Ki's quarters. They walked in silence to the Delegation's staterooms. At her portal she turned to face Taur' Regc, a soft poignancy in her gaze. He looked down at the Iksoten jewel, then at her eyes.


"Per, Vitti?" - he asked intimately in idiomatic Uumai. It was the traditional dialect of their elite clans, and their shared childhood language -  "Why, little sister?"  'Little sister' was his private term of endearment for her. It was a three-fold question, as she well understood. 'Why - was she wearing the jewel he gave her? Why - had she put a barrier between them in recent years? Why - was she making their relationship so formal now?'


Si' Viyatt Nu reached up with her left appositive digit. Stroking her childhood sweetheart's leathery face she allowed the familiar, pleasant sensation to course momentarily through her arm. Dropping her hand she answered enigmatically in the same dialect, "Bet Michqueg - nasharruh Bellaxitat 'yn"; the motto of their Uuma culture, 'Service now - Exchange of ideas latter'. She turned, activated the portal and entered alone.


When the door had slid closed she turned, placed her left hand on the entry port and said softly in Uumac, "Kla, Rupu vo. Mellaqset vil Nivat. Oktyli vo betta 'yna kyt." - 'Peace, my beloved. May Nivat open your understanding. You are too young for me yet.' Her words went beyond endearment, to intercession. After locking the door she walked introspectively to her dresser and picked up a silver-inlaid box of Merroe wood. A silver band running the circumference of the box separated the upper half from the lower half. The reddish-brown wood set off the deep grey of the antique silver. She opened the box and placed her Iksoten jewel inside and fastened the lid closed.


She then gently turned one of the feet of the box. She re-opened the box. Inside lay a miniature golden object. Reverently she picked it up and placed it on the dresser. Mere possession of this object was cause for immediate execution under the anti-Nivat laws. The object was a Kontesquet Muzul, ‘the Piercing Pivot-Beam’, the Garhyarii’s most cruel form of public execution.


In the Kontesquet Muzul a cross-beam was mounted on a pivot beam containing a special mechanism. The hands of the prisoner were tied to the short crossbeam, facing the pivot-beam, the balls of their feet just touching the ground. He [or she] had then to turn the pivot beam by walking sideways. If they slowed, or were too weak to turn the beam, a mechanism forced razor-sharp pikes out of the pivot-beam into their abdomen. The slower they went, the deeper the spikes penetrated. In addition, their weight stretched their joints and muscles, causing further pain. Some died of fear or exhaustion before the spikes could disembowel them. Others endured great suffering as their intestines were shredded, eventually dying from internal bleeding or faecal contamination. It was not unknown for the execution of strong prisoners to take four or five days. The dead were left impaled on the spikes to rot away as a public disgrace and warning. Such was execution on ‘the Piercing Pivot-Beam’.


The Kontesquet Muzul. To the traditional NIV worshippers it was the ultimate symbol of blasphemy. Compounding the blasphemy of the Second Declaration of NIV was the claim thatafter execution the NIVAT had not rotted away, but had been restored to life by NIV. To the few remaining, secret, NIVAT worshippers, it was the symbol of forgiveness, freedom and love.


Her small golden Kontesquet Muzul was in the shape of a T, with 8 miniature spikes protruding. “Vu NIVAT,” she confessed, “nitowashtikin waptecashna mayaque”... [My Saviour, you have graciously given me everything I need for life eternal] She stood silently for a long period of time before the symbol of her faith, meditating on the verses of the Second Declaration of Niv.


In the corridor Taur' Regc stood awkwardly for a moment, confused, then whirled and strode back to his room. Never had the chief adage of his warrior people lain so heavily on his heart. The absence of 'communication' made the 'service' almost unbearable.



* * *



The Twins



Jihr Recq had assigned his second in command the task of reviewing all crew files, in another effort to discern any potential saboteurs. Jihr himself went up to A-Pod command to observe the preparations for transition and sat with his weapons tech. After they passed Vaht, the last planet in the solar system, they would be able to reach the necessary velocity to initiate plasma-drive. The command centre was a hum of quiet conversations.


Two blossoms of light appeared on his D-Ana, “Sir!” exclaimed the weapons tech, “I have missiles approaching from the vicinity of Vaht’s fourth moon!” The captain turned at the tech’s urgent announcement and made his way down the passage to the weapons carrel.


“Sir”, Jihr reported, “I confirm that 2 missiles have been launched from the vicinity of the fourth moon, and appear to be on a direct course to intersect us in 17 pars. They are too small for crewed vessels. I judge them to be aggressive. I recommend launching our escorts to investigate the launch point, and the firing of a counter salvo of anti-missiles.’


“Confirmed,” agreed the captain, “so ordered. I was expecting some sort of last effort before we left the system.”


Jihr ordered the weapons tech to launch 6 anti-missiles at the incoming missiles. He addressed the captain as he hit the interceptor launch button. “I would have expected more than a few easily defeated missiles, sir.” A slight rippling hiss was heard as the missiles were launch. Then the interdictor siren echoed through the vessel. 


“Both interdictors report ready for launch sir,” reported the tech.


“Launch,” ordered the captain.


Two mild vibrations were felt as the interceptors uncoupled and turned towards the fourth moon.


“I have no vessel on my D-Ana, sir. It must be lost in the background clutter of the moon.”


“Very well,” commented Jihr. “Prepare a second salvo, and point defence should either missile survive or more be launched. The interdictors can deal with any ship.”


“Captain,” called the communications tech.  “I have an incoming message.”


“Put it on the speaker,” the captain commanded.


Through some static came a voice dripping with irony. “My dear Ki' Oste, I am Ki’ Pullum-Rij. I have sent you a present.”


“We have already dealt with your present,” countered Ki’Oste dryly.


“Oh, no, I don’t mean the missiles. That was just to get your attention. No, no, captain. I have a genuine present for you. On the far side of the fourth moon, drifting in your trajectory, you will find a life-pod. It contains two very important children, the son and daughter of the Verl Syndicate Commissioner. I’m sure you will want to entertain them.” The corsair captain ended his transmission with a chuckle.


“Transmission terminated, sir.” The comm-tech announced flatly.


“Taur Recq, re-task the frigates to patrol ahead of us, and see if there is a life-pod. If so, bring the occupants, if any, aboard as quickly as possible.”


“Yes, sir.”


“Will we return to the homeworld if such VIP children are found sir?” Tu' Venne asked.


“Why would we do that Tu’ Venne?” replied the captain in some amazement.


“Because of their status, sir,” countered the vice captain. “They are the Tai’ Gann’scousins! And, sir, because of the repercussions on the homeworld if we don’t.”

“Our mission comes before anyone’s status, vice captain,” the captain answered coldly. “And the repercussions of the delay to the mission are greater than any temporary trouble the Verl Syndicate or the Tai’ Gann could cause.”


“Incoming missiles safely destroyed, captain,” Recq announced. “Frigates re-tasked and proceeding ahead at flank speed sir. The weapons D-Ana shows a vessel leaving the fourth moon’s orbit and heading back into the solar system.”


“Very well. Now we wait to see what trick they have for us. Please have your security team ready to take anyone found into custody.”


“Already so ordered, sir.”


“Good. Tu’ Venne, as soon as the interdictors report send a message back to the High Councillor.”


“Very well Ki’Oste.”


Jihr left the command centre to confer with his team, and to prepare a room for an anticipated interrogation. That task completed he and the security sub-unit walked back to A-Pod and waited outside the frigates’ airlocks.


Eventually the Vox announced “Frigates docking.” A further wait, and the airlock lights signalled the arrival of the crews. The airlock from the Pe-Trnod'ynatopened, and two young Garhyarii exited with the crew. The frigate’s pilot smiled at Jihr and said, “May I introduce the twins of the Verl Syndicate’s Commissioner, Treen Del-Mahz and her brother BahrinDel-Phar.”


Jihr looked down at the two siblings, and saw two very relieved, dishevelled, and somewhat overawed children. Interrogation? No… Interview - yes. He turned to the nearest communicator unit and hailed the command centre. “Captain, the two cast-a-ways are aboard. Would you please askSi' Viyatt Nu to meet us in the B-Pod security office.”


“Yes, but have the frigate pilots report to me now.”


“Yes, sir. Please come with me Treen and Bahrinof the Del. I need to ask you some questions, and to introduce you to someone I’m sure you will like.”


The crowd broke up into its parts, security and the twins to B-Pod, pilots to A-Pod, and the frigate crew to their various quarters. While the frigates had semi-private crew space aboard, the quarters aboard the Pelled Krasc were luxury itself compared to the fighters.




Si’Viyatt Nu arrived just in front of Jihr and his group. She openly assessed the twins. “Who have we here?”


With some seriousness and etiquette, Jihr Taur Recq extended a hand towards the twins, saying “Si' Viyatt Nu, may I introduce to you the children of the Verl Syndicate’s Commissioner, Treen Del-Mahz and her twin BahrinDel-Phar.” And then extending the other hand towards Si’ he said,  “And honoured children, may I introduce to you, the High Daughter of the High Councillor of the Garhyarii.”


Treen, at least, had the presence of mind to take the mendicant’s position of submission and honoured Si’ appropriately. To her brother she gave a prompting elbow to follow suit. He was slow to understand, and earned a wry smile from Jihr for his awkwardness.


Si’, all politeness and grace, merely gave them each an accepting hug, and led them into the security office. Jihr dismissed his unit and entered the office himself. Si’, as both a diplomat and a nurturing person, had already sat the twins down and begun a conversation; just as Jihr had anticipated she would. He sat and merely listened as they gave their account to her.


The twins vied with each other to reconstruct the last few rotans, sometimes interrupting, sometimes both talking at once, sometimes nodding assent at the other’s narrative. Both Si’ and Jihr asked several questions to clarify, or to move the discussion back on track. Si’ especially, knew that this debriefing was important for the twin’s wellbeing; as well as for the establishing of facts.


When the twins had finally wound down, and their stress had bled away, Jihr turned to Si’. “Honoured Si’,” he said with some formality, “would you please see to the needs of these two youngsters, while I report to Ki’Oste. Perhaps among the crew you may find some new clothing until theirs are cleaned. Can Treen share your quarters for the immediate future, and Bahrin stay with me in mine? We’ll make long-term arrangements when I come off watch.”


“I will look after them,” she said emphatically. As he stood to leave he smiled at the threesome, but mostly at Si’. 


“Please, Si’ Viyatt Nu,” Treen asked, “what did the Jihr Taur' Regc mean by ‘long-term’ arrangements? The corsairs who kidnapped us said that this ship would take us back to the homeworld.” Bahrin nodded in agreement.


She smiled, and said, “you may call me Si’ when we are alone. This will be a long voyage and we don’t need to be formal all the time.” She thought for a moment, and then addressed their questions. “This vessel is on a special mission to another solar system; one we expect to be inhabited by sentient creatures. There are groups that do not want us to undertake this mission. Those corsairs were hired to kidnap you to try to stop or delay our mission. Despite your father’s importance as a syndicate official, I doubt that Ki’Oste will halt this mission to return you to the homeworld.”


The twins looked confused. “Do you mean that we are prisoners?” asked Bahrin.


“No!” The Si’ replied laughing. “Not at all. I only mean that we cannot turn back from our journey. You will be honoured guests, and will have the additional honour of representing your family in our search for this planet. You are old enough to be taught crew skills and assist in various duties.”


“Tremendous!” exclaimed both teens simultaneously. For the next few minutes they overwhelmed Si’ with their excited requests for various training and duties. Eventually, Si’ calmed them, and led them off to find appropriate clothing and their temporary rooms.


* * *

© Copyright 2018 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

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