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COF 5
“Aboard the Samoteth”

All thirty of them had been assembled in the large room they remembered waking up for the first time aboard the Saran ship.

Gone were the invisible curtains and the gurneys, they had been replaced by small desks and chairs, almost like school desks arranged in a semicircular fashion, reminiscent to a classroom at school.

Everyone had received one of these thin black rectangular information and communication devices, the Sarans called Data-Comms; in shape and appearance not all that different to a modern smartphone. It lacked the colorful app symbols.

By now everyone knew Niofre was the Second in command of this amazing ship. She had gathered them for the first time after she had introduced herself to everyone individually and spend some time explaining the situation.

She gave them a few moments to settle down. Their emotions were still raw and most of them were still confused, although not as much as before anymore. Most of them understood at least roughly what happened and where they were. Except the young man from Iraq and the one from Congo, who appeared to have the hardest time accepting what had happened to them.

Mahmud was convinced that this was some elaborate trick of the Americans. They were known to do unexplainable and weird things in order to torture and convert true believers and avert them from the only way.

However he had seen the blonde European kid attack the Egyptians, and take one of them out like nothing. He was not too keen to try to kill him without the advantage of a firearm and preferably in an ambush. Not that he knew much about ancient Egypt, other than that they worshipped gods and idols that were not Islam and thus deserved nothing less than destruction.

He wanted to kill and destroy everything in sight, but he was without weapons and until opportunity represented itself, he decided to wait, but he was ready to escape, kill all of them and bring this information to the leaders or give his life to Allah by taking out as many as he could. That he was on a space ship and traveling between the stars was impossible, that the women who dared to speak to men and were so corrupted to show their faces unveiled, were not of Earth was a lie. There was no life on other planets otherwise it would have been mentioned in the Koran. Anything not in the holy book was lies and the deceptions of non-believers.

Buwunti who remembered herding his family’s goats, when he got stung by something and lost consciousness. He also had been awake on the Freon ship and had seen the gray skinned aliens, but to him they were only slightly stranger than the white men and women and all their unexplainable behavior.

The fact that he was on a space ship and no longer on Earth, were concepts he had no reference to. All he knew for sure, this wasn’t the Congo any more. He did hear old stories about slavers coming to Africa and abducting people. There were stories about white people and their unexplainable ways. He himself had not seen any so far for real, other than images in a badly worn copy of a colorful paper thing at Dr. Nugule’s. He did recognize the beings depicted as humans, but he had a hard time understanding what they were doing. He felt the same way right now, only this wasn’t something in the doctor’s office.

The priest of the church, told him stories about a guy named Jesus who also did some weird things and he was attached to a cross shaped object. He much preferred stories about a guy named Abraham, he too had goats. Why he wanted to burn one was however a foolish thing. He didn’t went there very often, as the church was far and he didn’t like to walk all that way just for a few stories about strange and foolish people doing strange and foolish things. The Sarans were not of the church, but at least one of them appeared to be a doctor.

Buwunti first thought he was captured by those slavers his grandfather once told him about, but the others including the whites seemed to be in the same situation as him. To say he was confused was an understatement.

There was Wolfgang from Germany, who perhaps was an even bigger geek than Aaron, and almost instantly formed a friendship with the son of a Jewish dentist of New York. They both had adapted most easily and despite their emotions of losing parents, home and apparently their freedom. They even were actually excited about it all.

There were teenagers from China, India, Russia, Japan, Israel, several European countries, South America, Australia and from other countries and ethnic backgrounds. (*)

Aoife, the Irish girl took a seat behind a desk right next, to the Jewish American kid. He was the only one who did not wear the two piece tunic style outfit they all wore, but wore a jump suit like uniform in white. She leaned over, “Good morning Aaron.”′

He turned and smiled. “The Sarans say Light of RA’s Eye instead of good morning, but it means the same.”

“You seem to take this situation well, you even dress like them now.”

“No I am not taking it well, I am still in shock about it all and I am missing my father, my friends and Manhattan very much already. I think my father will take very bad, but I also realized how much they go out of their way to accommodate us. The Sarans are just one of many space faring nations so I have learned. While the Freons who abducted us, belong to a weaker one, there are more powerful ones, there are agreements they cannot break for the sake of us. Do you know their officers have vacated their quarters to accommodate us? This is not a cruise ship and there are not enough guest quarters. I had a tour of it this morning.”

Aoife wiped her fingers across her eyes. “I guess you are right, they are nice but I still don’t exactly understand why we can’t go back. It makes sense in a way but I ... well my heart does not want to accept it.” She sniffed. “Accept that we are gone forever, I mean.”

An Asian looking girl took a seat next to Aaron on the other side. Her hair styled in the same way as Saran wigs, but hers was real and very shiny. She seemed to have learned how to use her hygiene box, because she had her slanted eyes framed by Saran style make up.

“Hi, I am Yoko Askai from Okinawa. You look very nice. Can I sit here?”

Aaron felt strange, but in a very good way. Never in his life had any girl paid attention to him and now he was in the focus of two who both looked better than Sharon the homecoming queen of his school. Yoko was outright beautiful in a shy and demure way and he instantly fantasized how she would look like in a Japanese sailor inspired school uniform. Just like the girls did in his favorite anime.

“I am sure you can sit there, I doubt there is a seating order.”

Melissa and Sigurd had just came in and sat down. That the two had already formed some kind of friendship was quite obvious, but that this picture perfect specimen of a Nordic version of Brat Pitt scored with the super beauty from Texas, strangely enough didn’t bother him much.

Mahmud, the Iraqi teen, with his olive complexion, thin chin beard and wild eyes was restrained with plastic cuffs on his hands as he was brought in by two helmeted and baton armed, no nonsense guards. He glared at everyone yelled. “Inshallah! Death to you all!” and was pushed into a seat. The guards attached ties to his legs and the chair and left.

Moments later the black kid came in, he too was accompanied by two guards, but not restrained. He followed the men’s instructions and sat in a seat pointed out to him. The eyes of the black kid where wide and its utter confusion was obvious, he also appeared to be scared.

It didn’t take long after that when Naomi stepped into the center of the room, that was so Aaron knew now, a multipurpose room usually used for recreation and religious purposes by the crew, who usually spend over a Saran year on patrol before they returned to port.

The Second in Command raised her hands to command attention to herself and requested to be heard. Then she begun. “You all will need time to accept the facts of your situation and acclimate into your new lives, and we are willing to give you that time.

We can provide you with psycho-help if you wish and we do have well working pharmacological means to ease emotional pains.

Our medical professional has or will evaluate each of you in the next few day periods.”

She did not stop smiling as she looked at each of the teenagers present. “We are still in your system, as we have to wait for new orders. There of course is also the issue of the Freon ship wreck. Once we completed all this, we will begin jumping back to Saran space and to Sara, the throne world.

That is a distance of 344 of your light years and will take us about thirty two days. The acceleration and deceleration to jump speed is consuming most of this time, as we have to do this for a number of jumps before we arrive.”

The German kid actually got up, after raising his hand just like in school and asked. “This is amazing indeed! Can I ask how you overcome the time dilatation effects and the light barrier itself?”

The Saran officer blinked, not expecting this question. “It appears you are more aware of these things than we thought Earthers are.”

He crossed his arms. “I am deeply impressed by all your achievements, to travel in a space ship that maintains gravitation, travels faster than light and weapons that use some form of matter penetrating waves to influence and perhaps interrupt the Neuron flow in an organism is nothing less than marvelous.”

He looked towards Aaron who now also got to his feet and then he said. “But the standard stuff is not all that different or really far advanced.”

Aaron held up his com device. “These devices are thinner than our smart phones but lack a lot of their functionality. I can make photos, take videos, communicate with others using text, audio and image. Play games, access the Internet and google. Siri on my Apple phone is just as capable of answering questions, keep appointments and a host of other things. Not to mention a host of apps from flashlight, to compass and level to name the absolute basic ones.”

Most of the kids present agreed. A beautiful exotic beauty with long black hair said. “Maybe we are not as primitive as you all think we are.”

Niofre sat down. “Obviously we need to pay a little closer attention to Earth and its technological advances. I am sure our scientists and experts will love to talk to you.”

The she said. “To answer your question and keep it fast and simple. We use a system that generates a field neutralizing the time dilatation effects as we accelerate to jump speed. We then create a jump transition, which is based on astrometric trajectory calculation. A trajectory that circumvents this space time continuum and allows us to jump from strong gravity well to gravity well. While the jump itself is almost instantaneous, both acceleration and deceleration phases take time. Also the further a gravity well the more energy is needed and more dangerous a jump becomes.”

The German kid named Wolfgang tapped around on his communication device. “I see, the danger of over jumping or hitting the actual gravity well becomes exponentially larger with distance. Fascinating!” Aaron and the exotic girl most likely from India crossed their arms almost simultaneous and stared with accusatory, smoldering expressions at Wolfgang. The girl snarled at him. “I wanted to say that first!”

Aaron made a strange hand gesture by splitting the fingers of his hand towards the Indian girl. “You know it sister. Live long and prosper.”(**)

It became apparent, the Saran woman did not comprehend. “It appears I am unable to understand all the cultural significance of what you are displaying; it is evident however that you know much more than anyone would have thought. However we never considered you primitive, just at a different level of development.”

The Saran woman made a gesture that incorporated them all and continued. “We will use this time to educate with a basic knowledge of our civilization and teach you our language. Maybe you will find some of it interesting and even enjoyable.” She got up from her seat. “We will now partake in a meal and we hope to learn a little about each other. I understand you don’t really know each other.

Men and women of the crew served trays with food and drink, putting it before each of the teenagers. Niofre, received an identical one.

She uncovered the tray and pointed at it. “It was decided to provide you with a very traditional Saran meal. Once you are more emerged in your new environment, I am sure you will find it easy to adjust your meals and food preferences to your liking. Saran is an empire that includes just over one thousand star systems. Our markets offer raw food and prepared items from many cultures. But for now we thought it beneficial to you to learn about us.”

A dark haired youngster, already having a neatly trimmed pencil beard got up and said. “I am Janosh Pescht and I am from Hungary, which is a country in Eastern Europe. I am about, or actually I was about to go to University in England and study anthropology. As this field of study is of great interest to me. I understand and I agree of course. But can I ask a question that burns in me ever since I am exposed to your, this very Egyptian appearing society. Did you build the Pyramids?”(*)

The woman who was about to explain the dish in front of her, covered it up again and said. “Frankly we don’t know. Any information or data about the very first contact between Earthers and Sarans has been lost. You must realize this was over 12,000 years ago.”

Janosh sat back down, but it was clear the Saran was not finished. “We mentioned before that some of our scholars believe your Earth was populated by colonists of our civilization many thousand years ago. We also have experts who believe it was Earthers who influenced us. But we know we are of the same origin. This is the reason for these patrols. Because when the Galactic Council decreed that no primitive society should be raised to the galactic stage by outside influence and could only be contacted once they made the discovery of faster-than-light technology on their own. We

Sarans agreed to this but stipulated that Earth and the solar system was a Saran protectorate and that it would be Sarans privilege alone to welcome our lost sisters on the galactic stage.”

This long explanation caused the teenagers to think.

Buwunti, was not stupid and only lacked real education. He still did not understand all of it, but that the woman in white did not mean harm, but had somehow interfered with the gray beings to safe him became now clear to him. He also decided to open his ears and mind and instead of refusing to understand, he wanted to know more. “I know Egypt is a land in Africa. I know there are ships and planes that fly. I know cars and trucks, but this is not a plane. This is not a house we are in right? It is a ship?”

A lanky girl leaned back and crossed her legs and arms. She was not exactly beautiful, but also far from ugly or average. She had a strange rugged quality to her. She appeared older than the others and was also a blonde, but her hair had the same color and appearance as hemp rope. It had no shine to it and was not exactly groomed in any particular way, it had just grown long. She did not wear any make up and her complexion was clearly Caucasian but she was well tanned. Not the tan you get out of a bottle or a salon, but from being outside.

“I am Margit Oats and I am from Africa as well, South Africa that is. I am sorry Buwunti. This is no house, this ship does not travel on water, but between the stars. We are beyond the skies, my brother.”

Buwunti, slumped back in his chair. For the first time since he was abducted his mind begun to understand. While he was still, or perhaps even more confused than before, he said. “I hope we are really very far, otherwise my Poppa will find a way to find me and give me a good lashing for leaving the goats to tend for themselves.”

His dry and quite serious meant comment however caused smiles, grins and the first laughter among the others.

He spread his long arms and looked around. “Ununi, the one with the black spots all over her, is very nosy and very stubborn. She might be halfway to Toguwi by now.”

Niofre uncovered the tray once more. “As I mentioned this is a traditional Saran meal. It is called Shakrath and while it is considered an after sundown meal, it is served all day and can be ordered and eaten at any time of day. Shakrath combines the words ‘Shakr’ which is a type of grain and ‘ath’ which means eat.

The main bowl before you contains the Shakr. It is boiled and made into the gruel paste you see. Some of us add honey, sugar and bits and pieces of fruit. Others add salt, broth and pieces of various meats or fish. While many eat it just as it is. You can buy Shakr in form of compressed bars with many flavors as a snack. It can be formed into balls and served as a side dish.”

She made a sweeping gesture across a row of smaller bowls. “This is a selection of foods Sarans add to the Shakr. The red bowls contain sweet choices and the blue bowls are filled with salty, savory and sour choices.”

With that she held up a long spoon. “We have observed many of your broadcasts and noticed, that you have many different ways of consuming food. Sarans generally use these scoopers or spoons for anything that cannot be eaten by using your hand and not be enjoyed right out of the bowl like soups. We do not use forks as we observed some of you do and food is generally already cut to bite size during food preparation. As for proper eating etiquette, that will be part of another lesson. Now eat your Shakrath.

Aaron who had breakfast with Niofre and other members of the crew earlier on, lifted the main bowl to his fore head. “RA provided, Sara enjoys.”

Niofre did the same, by lifting the bowl and repeating the words. “RA provides, Sara enjoys.”

Yoko openly showed her admiration. “You know much already!”

“RA is their goddess and Sara has the same meaning as the word man or people and is also the name of their home world.” He lifted his bowl towards her, repeated the phrase and added. “I don’t know much more about the Sarans than you, I just got up earlier this morning.”

Melissa held one of the Shakr balls up before her eyes and said. “I wonder if you could fry them.” Then she raised her hand. “Miss Niofre, Ma’am you wouldn’t have any hot sauce?”

--””--

After the meal they had spent most of the rest of the day getting to know each other. Niofre had left them after promising she would return the next day.

The thirty teenagers had almost immediately dispersed in their respective quarters. Now as they started to understand their situation and knowing that they were in no immediate danger, felt the emotional drain and were quite tired.

Aaron was on his way to his quarters, the spacious cabin of the executive officer of this vessel had temporarily vacated for him. Yoko walked next to him, as he had learned she occupied the quarters of an officer in the same corridor.

“I am not really tired like the others seemed to be.” She said to him.

“Why don’t you join me? I discovered something like an animated show on the entertainment menu. The tronic translates it and it is almost like anime.”

“That would be very acceptable.”

They watched the animated story of a young girl suddenly receiving supernatural powers from RA.

After the second episode, Aaron, who had sat next to the Japanese girl right on the floor, got up. A little stiff from the unfamiliar way of sitting, he went to the bath room and after he completed his business there, he said still standing. “Would you like some Durmwatath?”

“What is it?”

“Sarans eat it as a snack. I learned this morning during my tour of the ship. It is somewhere between Cotton candy and popcorn. If I understood correctly it is grown and harvested just like cotton. But the little fiber cotton balls are eatable. Sarans add a little salt and an unfamiliar but interesting flavor.”

She got up in one fluid move. “You do learn fast. Yes I try some.”

He used the Data-Com to order, just as the engineer he met this morning showed him to do. Moments later a wall panel moved aside and Aaron presented the Japanese girl with a small plastic bucket filled with golden white cotton puffs.

To his delight she immediately sampled one and giggled in a charming way. “These are very good!”

--””--

Aoife, found herself in the company of Manjieet, Margit and Wolfgang. They talked a little about their homes and families and then gravitated to recreational activities, unconsciously seeking a little reprieve from the emotional rollercoaster ride of the past hours.

The girl from Belfast had learned that Margit was the daughter of a South African farmer and she was indeed the oldest, turning eighteen in a few month.

Aoife looked over the shoulder of Manjieet who was sitting before a paper thin display, filled with rows of bright green symbols on a black background. The symbols slowly advanced from right to left in a slow steady pace.

The display seemingly hovered in thin air right before the pretty girl from Kalisbad, India. Until a moment ago her fingers flew in a dazzling speed over a projected but quite human Terran looking keyboard. Now her fingers circled around symbol groups, highlighted them that way and moved them with finger swipes to new positions.

Wolfgang was also in the room, wearing something like virtual reality goggles while he manipulated the controls of a scientific looking device before him. He had been incommunicado so to speak, ever since one of the crew members delivered the thing about two hours ago.

Aoife pointed at a symbol group, the girl had just highlighted. “This seems like a logarithm code sequence from Matrix but it goes from left to right and does not contain unreadable symbols.”

She turned and gave her a warm smile. “Their code is not all that complicated once you realize it is based on four and not two. I mean not just binary state like ‘one’ and ‘zero’, but quadrinary including ‘when’ and ‘or’. Quite fascinating really.”

The Irish girl was quite proud of herself. “I can see it.”

Manjieet interrupted her activity. “Ever since Wolfgang explained me the basic alphabet and made this key board projection, I wrote a little routine that translates it into readable code. Their computers use three dimensional computing and data storage devices, which has been at the core of development and research at the SAP experimental labs, I was a summer break intern there. The German Fraienhuffe institute...”

Nothing could interrupt Wolfgang before, but someone mispronouncing a German word monster did the trick. He pulled the goggles he was wearing into his forehead and raised his finger just like a schoolmaster of ages past. “Frauenhofer Institut” He said and repeated slowly.”Frau-en-hof-fer and there is no ‘e’ at the end of Institute in German.”

Manjieet waved her hand. “You can’t say ′ Sai Shri Kamya Vadlamudi Anjaneya Pratiksha Sharma′ either, and that is a perfectly easy to say South Indian name.”

“No it is not. It is neither easy nor perfect; and the Frauenhofer institute is not as far behind these Saran computers as one might think. They managed to simulate human brain synaptic processing.”

“Sixteen!” The Indian girl held up her hands. “They managed to simulate sixteen synaptic connections, the human brain has over six million. I say they are still far from achieving true AI.”

“I did not say they are close to achieving a system that could simulate human thought process. I said they are not far behind the Saran way of computing technology. IBM’s Watson is the first generation application of this concept. I predict human computing technology to be on Saran levels well within our lifetime.”

Manjieet frowned. “I hate when I have to agree with you. I know you only for a little bit, but I already have a fair idea why you do not have a girl friend.”

Wolfgang shoved the goggles back before his eyes. “Now why would I expose myself to a socially mandated relationship, when I do not place any value in such, be it male or female? But if it consoles you, if I would ever consider such, you be the first such person I approach. It is the male that traditionally engages in first contact procedures if I am correct.”

Manjieet rolled her impressive eyes and smirked at Aoife. “I think he is genuine on a different level than the rest of us. Maybe he doesn’t even missing Earth and has no emotional ties to anyone.”

Aoife agreed with a nod and fought tears of her own. “I miss my family very much. It kills me that I can’t tell them we are alright.”

Wolfgang took of the goggles once again. “If I would have to compare the value of being exposed to a technological advanced extraterrestrial society with what I left behind, I must say the first option outweighs the second emotional based one significantly. What we can learn here will benefit us and eventually our world more than anything we could have learned or developed back home.”

He pointed at the device before him. “I procured this Saran prototyper. It combines virtual guided Three Dee engineering with three dee printing. This small manufacturing unit can print and assemble many different materials and I can manipulate the parts so made, combine them and thus create prototypes of devices that are functional and useful to us.”

“Procured?”

He made a loving gesture towards the machine before him. “This Proto typer is restricted technology, but Manjieet created a very good requisition and delivery order. It worked and they brought this up from engineering. As evident in the system before me.”

Aoife abandoned the viewer she was still looking at and came closer. “I read somewhere, in some popular science magazine I think, scientists are dreaming about a system like that, but with Nanites manipulating the matter.”

Wolfgang held up a gray, round box like device and said. We may be able to send a message to Earth, letting them know we are alive.”

That got both Aoife’s and Manjieet’s undivided attention. The Indian girl said. “It will take radio waves 355 years to reach Earth and even if someone will listen, our parents are long dead and forgotten.”

Aoife added with a sigh.” At least Earth will know what happened eventually.”

Wolfgang snorted. “We are still in the Sol system and a signal may take hours not years. I am receiving Earth transmissions for about an hour now.”

Manjieet interrupted him. “So you built a handheld radio, and shaped it like a Star Trek tricorder, from the looks of it.”

Wolfgang smiled. “No silly, this is a handheld scanner based on Saran technology and is capable of performing some, sadly not all functions the fictitious device supposed to have.” He flipped it open and it even made the sounds the TV show prop did.” I added the sounds for authenticity, they have absolute no relation to the actual scanning activity. He tossed it to Manjieet who handled it like the Holy Grail. She said. “The star fleet tricorder was designed so federation species that use acoustic rather than visual sensor reception can use it as well, as Data points out in Episode six of the third season.”

Wolfgang gasped with an open mind. “You are so correct! How could I forget this episode where Data confronts... ?”

Aoife interrupted. “You are terrible! We are here for real and you still think this ‘Star Trek’ is important! You said you can send a message to Earth?”

Manjieet still marveling at the device in her hand. “It turns out that my often laughed at and ridiculed geek interests and in particular my detailed knowledge of said show prepared me better for this than anything I learned in school.”

Wolfgang again raised his finger. “I may disagree. School induced knowledge, especially in the fields of physics and chemistry is universal and will be very beneficial to us...”

Aoife actually stomped her foot. “Can or can’t we send messages home?”

“Oh right! I am certain it is possible.”

Manjieet was utterly fascinated by the handheld science scanner completely missing Wolfgang’s answer. “It really works!” I am able to scan the material composition of items, scan for life forms, energy sources. This is just like the real thing from the show.”

Wolfgang shook his head. “The real one was in effect just a prop with LED lights, the functions were scripted or added with special effects. So in reality you holding the real one. However if you referenced your comment on the functions the device supposedly had in the Star Trek universe, the one you hold is very limited. No access to the Enterprise ship computer for one.”

“But you incorporated the functions of the Data Comm, it has a camera, and smart phone functions.”

The Indian girl sighed. “All we need now is a Phaser and a communicator to beam us up.”

Wolfgang made an apologetic face. “Sadly I cannot construct an entire starship with this proto typer, neither can we reproduce the transporter technology as it is physically impossible, at least for my current understanding of their physics. “He grinned. “Phasers are however technically possible. I could just incorporate a sleeper ray into a new housing and add what they call a focused energy emitter in the same housing, and voila we got us a Phaser analog.”

Aoife screamed “Guys!” and took the hand held scanner from Manjieet. “If we can sent messages, we need to do so now, before we leave the system!”

Manjieet shook her head. “No they won’t.” She pointed to the screen full of code in front of her. “This is their central Tronic and the code you see is active. I added and altered some things in their main computer.”

--””--

Moheepata, the commandant of the Samoteth was on her way to interrogate the surviving Freons when she was intercepted by Niofre. “Commandant, we just received transponder communication.”

“It is about time, I am eager to leave this system.”

“Sara wants us to bring the Earthers to the Throne world and confirms your decision, they are indeed to be treated as wards of the court. We are to tow the wreck to Jamortha system and transfer the Freon prisoners there, before we continue to jump to Sara.”

“Inform the crew and make these details my orders. How do you evaluate the state and progress of our guests from Earth?”

“I believe most of them will adjust, I have my doubts about one of them. His religious believes are so strong and have such a rigid unmovable philosophy making it impossible for him to accept the reality.”

The Commandant rolled her eyes. “He should fit right in with the crowd around Tethebea of Luxor. They are religious fanatics too.”

“Indeed, unfortunately it is these extreme views that will keep us fighting the others for another thousand years.”

“Truer words have not been spoken. Sadly they cannot be spoken in company of others or where it would matter.” She was already turning to continue on her way, then stopped. “I did see you this morning with one of the Earther’s wearing one of your suits, what about him?”

“His name is Aaron. He seems to adjust better than the others. He is interested in barge operations and quite intelligent, able to learn and understand our technology. He also is the first who tries to adapt to Saran culture.”

Moheepata made a thoughtful expression and then said. “Maybe he will find his place among us Star warriors.”

“I have no doubt that would be his choice, but I doubt he would want to wear anything but white. He has the talent too.”

“We fight a war because our society is very rigid in acknowledging this. But exceptions have been made if he is willing to do the adjustment.”

“He might.”

“Send him. He also might enjoy witnessing the interrogation of the Freons. Make sure he is complete.”

--””--

Melissa had also returned to her quarters, Sigurd right behind her and strangely she would already missed him if he would not have. They both talked about their respective homes. Melissa learned that Sigurd was home close to a place called Hammerfest, that he was a fisher just like his father and pretty much everyone in his small community. He had very conservative views, very down to Earth opinions and valued straight forward honesty more than anything. He was not as educated as she was but he was not stupid or unwilling to learn.

He had just told her about what fishing in the North Atlantic was like when the dorm charm announced someone requesting to come in.

Melissa answered the door and Sergei, from Moscow, James from London, Edward from Aberdeen and Alice Gordon from Australia came in. With them also where Aoife, Manjieet and Wolfgang. It was the lanky boy from Germany they virtually pushed into the room, he almost stumbled.

Sergei pointed at the German with an aggressive gesture. “The thinking boy from Heidelberg has figured out a way to call home and won’t do it!”

Wolfgang really missed his glasses, as he wanted to shove them up his nose as he always had done, only to find nothing. Ever since his abduction he was missing them. Strangely enough he didn’t seem to need them anymore.

“I didn’t say I would not do it, although in your case I would be tempted to withhold it indeed.”

Sigurd got up and presented his sizeable frame. “I have no interest in your quarrels and do not see the need to be friends with everyone, but I resent bullying. You, Russia will be the next pushed around if I see it again.”

Sergei pushed past the little group with clenched fists. “You think I am afraid of a little Norwegian fisherman? I am from Moscow and we eat...”

He could not complete his threat, Sigurd pelted him right across the chin with his right and followed up with a forceful left hook from the other side. This quick combination sent the head shaved, tattooed Russian teen to the carpet.

The Russian was groaning but did not get up. James the English guy grinned and rubbed his chin as he looked at Sergei who still groaned and struggled to get up. “I think we should be glad the Vikings are history, they still have very simple answers to certain problems.”

Aoife sighed. “Boys! I want to hear what we must do to call home.”

Melissa spread her arms. “Yeah, call in NASA or someone and get us back home. They need to know about all this!”

Wolfgang didn’t like to be put on the spot. “I need more energy, access to a directional antenna and then I need a receiver address, the best would be a cell phone number.”

They all listened. Aoife said “Cell phone numbers are easy. I know my mother’s phone number by heart. How we get the other things?”

“I can manufacture an antenna, in pieces but that will take a while, then someone needs to get outside somehow and point it towards Earth. I am sure we can patch in the energy grid of this vessel.”

James said. “And if they leave? I mean leave the system before we are able to make these calls?”

Manjieet shook her head. “They won’t. They are actually heading back to Earth right now. No matter what astronavigational commands they give the system, it will be ignored and what they call Jump drive is only simulating to work fine. It is offline actually.”

Sergei was back on his feet, still rubbing his chin and glaring at Sigurd, but he said to Wolfgang. “What do we need to do?”

“We need something like aluminum foil, lots of it. For the antenna dish. I make the hardware for it in the Proto Typer.”

He looked up. “It is a long shot and I cannot guarantee it.”

Melissa grinned and flashed her perfect teeth. “It’s a chance, I take that.”

--””--

Yoko sat across Aaron on the floor, in between them a black square and little game pieces. Yoko moved a white piece and the tronic explained in a soft warm voice. ‘You moved the hundred War Chariot marker into the straight attack position threatening the five hundred archer marker of your opponent. Do you wish to confirm your move?”

Yoko looked up and said. “This is a very enjoyable game. We must learn it much better, but I think my chariots will not make it, too many arrows.”

Aaron also concentrated on the game and the explanations of the tronic as they played this game called ‘Namm and Pier’ in training mode said. “It somehow combines elements of Chess and Risk, with wealth management components of Monopoly. If you manage to crush my archers, I am done. You have more money to buy more troops.”

Yoko confirmed the move and the tronic confirmed that it was a costly attack, but a successful one. Only five chariots survived, but all the archers were done for.

Yoko got up and said. “I won!”

The lanky boy in the white uniform also got up and smiled. “Fair and square.”

“We play again, then you might win.”

She actually kissed him on the cheek, a fleeing touch softer than the brief brush of butterfly wings. It made him however feel like he had never felt before.

She went to the door. “I go now. Please have pleasant evening. Peace of RA”

He waved at her and also said. “Peace of RA.”

The door opened to let Yoko out, when Niofre, the Second in command appeared and bowed slightly to Yoko. “Peace of RA to you. I am very pleased how you embrace your new environment.” She paused. “And I love your hair!”

Yoko curtsied. “I appreciate many elements of the Saran culture, I am an orphan, and my aunt raised me and sent me to Tokyo. I am not too sorry to leave and this is exciting adventure.”

“We will do our best to make you feel welcome and maybe you find a career you like and a life worth living.”

Yoko smiled and bowed. “Will there be more lessons?”

“Yes but not today, I came to speak to Aaron.”

“Very well, I am very tired.”

Yoko left and Niofre stepped fully in the room so the door c0uld close. “The commandant, she who gives all directions on this war barge, has noticed you, Aaron. Moheepata is a very influential daughter in the house of Kethmmar.”

Aaron had picked up the game board from the floor and gave her a quizzing look. “I am not sure I understand what this means.”

“Moheepata, is not only the commandant of this vessel, her family also maintains it and 15,000 others for the royal fleet. Their wealth exceeds that of all people on Earth if you will. The Kethmmar are one of the four dynasties that put queens on the throne, including our current queen.”

Aaron put the game board on the table. “I am impressed for sure, no private company or family maintains ships in the US navy. But you are telling me this with a sense of importance.”

“Aaron, we are a matriarchate. A society guided by women. For a commandant of such an important family to ′notice′ you means very much and could potentially lead to a very high position for you. A position only few men ever attained. Play your game right and you might be called to be a commandant of your very own vessel.”

He sat down. “You are serious? You mean I won’t be a curiosity from a primitive world for the rest of my life, but have command over a star ship?”

“None of you will remain curiosities and for all sense and purposes you are Sarans now, the queen has made that very clear. I don’t know how far the others can or want to go, but you have been noticed. It means a lot I assure you.”

She opened the door to the bathroom. “Now if you want, put on makeup and a wig. So you may be presentable when I take you to Commandant

Moheepata. She suggested your presence when she herself interrogates the surviving Freons.”

“Interrogate the Gray Bastards? I be ready in two minutes!”

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