Melissa found the place where the crew was taking their meals. Everyone present stared at her in open admiration.
Men got up from their tables and actually knelt, several women, sitting at tables separated by a waist-high railing, bowed before her as if she was a queen or something.
One woman in a white uniform approached her. “You are indeed a goddess, do you seek food?”
“Yes, and I wondered where the kitchen is. I was thinking of cooking me some dinner myself. Maybe I can get me some sort of steak or something.”
The woman consulted her Data Com. “A kitchen is where food is prepared, a place of manual labor...” she paused and then stared at Melissa. “We would not allow you to enter such a place if we had one aboard. Mindless manual labor is the domain of man.”
A second woman now within speaking distance said.” Our food is already prepared, dehydrated and freeze-dried. The robotic system combines the food items, reconstitutes them. Fruit and fresh things are kept in our Stasis freezers. We do have a good selection, but of course unable to provide you with all choices our food markets could.” She gestured to a small line of Saran men in the process of ordering food. “I gladly assist you on our side and find a selection of food items you might enjoy.”
Melissa had hoped to find the aluminum foil, Wolfgang needed in a kitchen.
“Maybe later, I think I explore the ship a little more if that is okay.”
“Yes, there only a few areas restricted to you.”
Outside she stopped and wondered where she could find the stuff.
When she noticed a man bowing deeply, obviously deciding if he needed to kneel.
“You, Saran why are you bowing like that?”
He looked at her with an expression of wonder, awe and fear. “You are a goddess, your hair is grown not made.”
“Uhm yes, it is not a darn wig and it does what hair generally does, grow I mean. But takes some effort, lots of shampoo and conditioner to get to look like that. You wouldn’t know where I could get some aluminum foil. I use it for hair care purposes, you know girl stuff.”
“I do not know what that is, but I will try to find a substitute if possible.”
“You know the metal aluminum, rolled out in paper thin foil. It reflects heat and stuff.”
“Would gold foil work?”
“Yes, but would that not be very expensive and locked up somewhere?”
“We use gold for radiation shielding. Please allow me to get you as much foil as you need.”
Aoife was on her hand and knees and peeked around the corner. Then she moved back and turned to whisper. “I can see the door to the store room, where the guy said all the stuff they took from the Freons, including some Earth stuff is.”
Sergei and Sigurd right behind her, also crouching whispered back. “But there is a guard or something right?”
Aoife nodded. “There are two.”
Margit the third one, snickered. “Why don’t you and Manjieet do the same number you did on the other guy. He melted like wax and told you where the store room is.”
Sergei snorted. “There is no defense for that. Guys do the stupidest things for girls, even strangers.”
Margit grinned. “You just validated the whole Saran culture and society, you do realize that right?”
“I have nothing against queens. England has one, we used to have Catherine the great. But we should do something about those guards instead of discussing monarchies and queens.”
“Maybe we could just walk by, then tackle them in a surprise move.” Sigurd suggested.
“The corridor is off limits to us. They won’t let us close enough.” Aoife whispered.
“How far down are they?”
“About ten meters.”
Sigurd cursed. “This damn pajamas have no pockets. Anyone has something to throw, that will distract them long enough for us to rush them.”
Margit whispered. “Let me have a look.”
She crouched over Aoife and peaked. She too saw the two Sarans. “Those aren’t exactly guards from the looks of it. Just two crew members taking a break or something near that door.” She reported back.
It was obvious to her by their lax behavior. “I almost expected them to produce cigarettes or even a joint.” She suppressed a giggle. “It isn’t a joint but something to chew. They are sharing something.”
Margit was certain beyond a doubt, whatever it was had some kind of drug effect and was certainly not legal or permitted to be used. “Two guys in a little used half dark corridor, chewing something ... nope guys these aren’t guards.”
Margit had this strange talent ever since she could remember, she could feel other people. It didn’t always work, but she tried anyway. She felt the relaxed mood of the two and increased it. How she actually did it, she had no idea, but it worked more often than not.
The two slumped against the wall and slowly collapsed deep asleep.
Margit turned, not revealing her secret and said. “They overdid whatever they did, I think if we are quiet we won’t wake them.”
The little group snuck across the corridor, right past the two Sarans, one of which was actually snoring. The other still held a package with dark green, oily leaves.
James wiped his mouth. “I wonder what that stuff does, no drug I know relaxes you that much.”
Sigurd cursed, then he said in low tone. “The door is locked. It does not open the usual way.”
Aoife examined the door.” No key whole or key pad.”
Manjieet tapped on her Data Com and moments later the door opened. “No keypad needed, when you have the key code.”
There was a strange hushed silence as Aaron, stepped out of the Pneumatic tube lift, right after Niofre.
There were seven other women in white uniforms and several men in dark green uniforms. The men were armed with Horus Beamers, a weapon that covered the entire underarm and was shaped like a birds head, the parade version was shiny and covered with gold, the combat version was dark gray.
In the center of the group stood the taller woman. The one that accompanied Niofre, the first time he saw Sarans,
Now he noticed there were narrow golden rings around the right arm of the women’s white suits. His suit, or rather the one he had borrowed from Niofre featured three rings. Other women had two or one, the tall woman had five and he was certain this indicated rank and made the tall one the Captain or in Saran terms the Commandant and All directions giver, Moheepata.
Everyone was looking at him, no one spoke a word. He noticed envy in some faces. Others did clearly disapprove and a few had faint smiles of encouragement. Moheepata face was unreadable and seemed void of emotions, but she waved and he went closer. Not knowing what to do, he approximated a stiff attention posture, he had seen officers aboard the Enterprise do. “Aaron reporting to you, Ma’am as requested in complete attire.”
Now she actually smiled. “Your posture seems of military nature and it is not misplaced. In the Saran space force, men bow or kneel and women lower their heads, but then we keep these protocol issues at a minimum aboard space born barges. It distracts in my opinion.”
He simply listened and then bowed.
Moheepata said. “Currently you wear white and the position rings of a Second Commandant. I decreed you may wear the uniform aboard and that means you do not bow or kneel. All but me and Niofre will bow and kneel to you.”
She put her hand on his shoulder. “The idea is to give you a taste of this, and maybe we are able to instill enough and you will take the hard path and wear this uniform because you earned it.”
He smiled proudly. “You accomplished that already, Ma’am.”
A door opened and she said. “Come then, SecCom Aaron. Let us find out why you and the others been abducted. The Freon barge master and a few others waiting to enlighten us.”
The storage room was quite big, and had solid shelves with hexagon shaped canisters stacked like a honeycomb. It took them a moment to figure out how to release one and slide one of the foot locker sized containers out and open its lid.
Sigurd was the first to figure it out and as he stared in his container he said. “I do not think this one contains anything from Earth, but is Freon.” He retrieved one of the egg shaped, odd fire arms. “I do know how to use these however.”
Margit sighed. “There must be hundreds of these containers and none are labeled. Might take us days to find our stuff.”
Manjieet made an apologetic shoulder shrug. “There is no manifest I could access for this storage room.”
“This container contains Earth things, but I doubt it will be useful to us.” Sergei said with a disgusted face.
Aoife took a peak and said.”Eww” and turned.
Margit said. “A dead pig, partially dissected. Looks fresh and doesn’t seem to be spoiled.”
James, also pulling a container said, while he tried to figure out how to operate the snap locks. “Don’t tell me you think about eating it.”
“In an emergency we could. Pork chops are not too bad. “Margit responded, while she closed the container with the pig.
James managed to open his and also sighed. “Can we do something with golf clubs?”
Edward McArthur, a stocky guy from Aberdeen Scotland who hadn’t said much looked over James shoulder and said. “Aye, we could. These are nice Taylor Made clubs. The whole set, worth a pretty penny.” he took the number nine iron and said. “Makes nice lumps on a lads head, too!”
Aoife made a triumphant sound as she opened a box. “Cell phones, laptops and all sorts of electronics.”
Manjieet abandoned the container she was just about to open and rushed to Aoife. “Awesome!” she exclaimed and started to dig into the find.
She held up a hand sized flat box with round corners. “This isn’t from Earth for sure!”
Sergei showed them a black plastic pistol with a bright black and yellow striped boxy front. “What is this, some kind of toy gun?”
Janosh stopped him with a sharp tone. “Sergei be careful this is a professional stun gun. Where did you find it?”
“In this box.” He pointed to another one he had pulled out of the shelf. “Police man things I believe. He put the dark blue cap of a Chicago police man on his head. “What you going to do if I come for you?”
Manjieet held up a strange looking phone with a finger thick antenna. “Guys!” She said with an almost failing voice. “I found an Iridium satellite phone, it has plenty of charge left...” She swallowed and with tears she whispered. “I got a signal. We can call home!”
Margit remained at the door. “Guys I think someone is coming.”
She closed the door and Sigurd took a position right by the door frame, with a Tylor made wood club raised, ready to strike whoever would come through.
Sigurd aimed the Freon gun...
Aaron could not tell if the Alien that was sitting on a plastic bench inside a clear plastic cube, was one of the Freons he had seen before. To him there were no distinguishing features. But the creature with only his head sticking out the small container, did no longer look very frightening to him.
The place was brightly lit, but featured little else in terms of instrumentation or furniture.
Moheepata, pointed at the Freon, who was awake and despite his non-human face clearly afraid. “This is Nalkook, the commandant of the Freon vessel that abducted you and the others. If you have any questions you may ask them after I have concluded my interrogation. I think this will also be very educational and give you valuable insights.”
The commandant turned to the strangely restrained alien and said. “I am Commandant Moheepata of the mighty Samoteth War Bark in service of her majesty Ammothep the IXth, queen and god born daughter of Ra. You have been caught violating binding agreements and apprehended by us. What is your name and position?”
“I am Freon and do not comply with any orders or demand given by Non Inners.”
“Please be aware, that you are inside an old Saresii Pain cube. As I said it’s old and perhaps somewhat crude, compared to more modern techniques, but my family spend considerable funds to obtain all kinds of old Saresii technology. I am particular fond of this device. I have yet to meet a being able to resist it, be it a Shiss raider, Nul aggressor or Ult warrior. Nor to mention a few Ferons, let’s see if you Freons are immune to it.”
The alien could only move his head, whatever was inside the box seemed to stint his ability to move.
Aaron noticed that it had semitransparent eyelids, almost like the ones of a bird or frog. The gray being blinked a great deal now and at first it seemed he did not want to speak, but his fear was obvious and Aaron could not deny a certain feeling of satisfaction to see one of his tormentors and abductors in such a disposition.
The Freon decided to speak. “Nalkook will comply. I am the command giver of Freon exploration mission 5643-56.”
“What is the name of your vessel and what was your mission?”
“Freon space craft receive mission numbers, not names. My mission is Freon business and not of Saran concern.”
Whatever the box did, Nalkook howled in a heartbreaking manner, his moving back and forth. “We were sent to obtain at least thirty Terran primitives for a breeding study of the Inners.”
“You clearly violated the treaty, what deem the Freon as so important risking war and extinction for a breeding study?”
“I am an Outer, I perform and execute whatever the Inners tell me to do. Inners have never shared their motivation with outers. No amount of pain you inflict upon me can change this fact of Freon society.”
“Very well then, I will inform her majesty and our court. You may indeed started a war that will end your little civilization, no amount of Freon military power you may raise upon us will chance this fact of Saran might.”
Moheepata nodded towards Aaron. “SecCom, the prisoner is yours. The controls of the Pain box are over there and easy to understand. Should he die during your interrogation, be not concerned. We got four more and their lives is forfeit as it is.”
Aaron learned that the Sarans weren’t all sugar coated, gold and glitter loving, but cruel and unforgiving if the situation called for it. Intellectually he understood you could not maintain such an empire without some harsh methods and toughness. Somewhere in his mind he heard the voice of his Rabbi, strongly objecting, but it was a distant voice. Strangely enough he did not feel much moral restrictions. Maybe it was because he had seen this or a similar Freon hovering over him when he was helpless, or maybe it was the command authority the tight suit and the wig seemed to impose on him. “Thank you Commandant Moheepata.”
To the Freon he said. “That there was some breeding component in your abduction motivation is self-evident in the even selection of male and females, but why strap some on examining tables? And how exactly did you determine who to abduct?”
Melissa and Yoko had accepted the offer for a tour of the barge, by two male engineers. It was almost creepy how much the Sarans worshiped the blonde from Texas.
Of course Melissa and Yoko had other motives for their tour. They reached the same section of the space vessel, as they had during their first escape effort. Wolfgang had called it engineering section. The Sarans called it star drive maintenance. Both men basked in the attention of Melissa and answered all her questions. Yoko did occasional get a warm smile and attention, but was mostly ignored.
Given her time to look around.
In a larger room with an array of confusing and complicated techno equipment, Yoko said. “That looks like a larger version of a Proto-Typer.”
One of the men giving the tour smiled proudly at her. “You have very keen eyes, this is a Mag-Fa 45. Does the same thing as a SP-5 Proto-Typer but on a larger scale, we use it to repair drive components, but it can be used to manufacture many things.”
“Could you manufacture a highly reflective parabolic dish, let’s say to use for an antenna?”
The engineer nodded. “Of course, actually I know what you mean. We can extend one to receive and send radio wave transmissions.”
Melissa put her hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Do you think we could listen to some radio from Earth? Maybe it will be the last time we can ever do that.”
The one Melissa touched on the shoulder was grinning as if he had been knighted, “Yes, goddess, we are often recording Earth broadcasts, let me show you.”
Yoko followed. “Of course you couldn’t send if you wanted to. That would be too complicated, right?” She wasn’t a dumb blonde but knew how to work her assets, like any girl did.
“Oh no, we use the EM wave spectrum ourselves for short distances and there are prim cultures that made it to the Galactic stage but have not discovered Myon trans-ponding. Sending is as easy as receiving.”
The other said. “We can send in many frequencies simultaneous!”
“How would one do that, I mean theoretically?” Melissa asked, forgetting the gold foil antenna project. This was much easier!
Things happened almost simultaneously. Fourth Level command giver Hemmputh found two service engineers, completely high on Galg and passed out in the lower deck corridor right before one of the ships storage chambers. She had Crew integrity officer put the two into custody, just then Ship alarm drums started beating in hectic rhythm.
On the bridge, the astrogator still believing the ship was on an acceleration course was in shock as the Tronic sounded atmospheric impact alarm.
Moheepata disengaged the tronic helm and used manual controls to pull the Samoteth into a low orbit around planet Earth. At this speed and trajectory, the war barge would have been turned into a glob of molten metal and impacted like a large meteor on the surface.
The captain was completely exhausted as the instruments confirmed she managed to avoid a total catastrophe. First reports came in, the Samoteth had destroyed at least four Earth satellites and certainly caused a bright glowing spectacle for anyone staring into the sky.
She managed to correct the orbit now into a wider and more distant one.
After cursing every single curse she knew and in every language. She asked the Astrogator. “Explain, before I space you!”
“I cannot explain. Any course data I put in always translates into the first trajectory course I programmed.” He demonstrated. “These are utter nonsense numbers and parameters I have randomly picked.” He pointed at the course display the numbers appearing were the same as before. “Commandant, you can space me but I cannot explain that. The course displayed is not the course we are on and no matter what I put in, the correct course is displayed.”
“You pull that Tronic apart if you have to, and you use the emergency hand calculation device. I want to know what caused this!”
Manjieet, just like the rest had been tossed of her feet, and then pressed against the floor as some of the momentum of the sudden course change at that speed could not be compensated. The first thing she did was complain. “Wolfgang’s astrogation data was incorrect, he sent us straight on a collision course with Earth.”
The German teen tried to untangle himself out of the spilled content of an open container, a dead sheep and several chicken. “I did not have any accurate data and did this for the first time on the fly.”
Aoife however yelled and held up a cell phone. “I got one bar!”
Before she could try to make a call the phone told her the connection was lost.
Tears rolled down her cheeks. “We were so close.”
Manjieet held up her device. “I think they are onto us. They trying to regain access.”
Wolfgang snorted. “Good luck with that, that’s the down side of three dimensional computing, three dimensional encryption.”
Three Saran tronic experts tried to comply with the Commandants request and determine the source of the problem. But no matter what they tried the system would not let them into the command code level. The Tronic replied once again. “Access denied. Please be aware that the system will allow only three additional attempts to gain access. The system will purge all data and reboot after the final unsuccessful attempt.”
One of the engineers hissed. “We cannot let this happen, without Astrogation data we are unable to jump to the correct gravitation wells and thus return home.”
“I never seen anything like this.” the second one said with a puzzled face, as the Commandant moved behind them. Wanting a progress report no less, but she said. “Try this.” She handed them a small silvery card. “This is the Royal Command code that overrides everything in case of a mutiny that includes, Tronic experts.”
The main tronic had a reception slot and accepted the hard coded sequence. The experts isolated the new code and one of them said. “It is Earth code. Very sophisticated and well executed.”
“How do you know it is Earth code?” The Commandant wanted to know.
“There is a translation routine.”
Moheepata inhaled sharply. “I should space the lot for getting this vessel and everyone aboard into this kind of jeopardy.” She turned, “Where is this Aaron?”
“Still interrogating the Freon, Commandant.” “And the others?”
Sheput, who was the third in command and main System operators glanced over her readout of internal sensors.” They are all over the barge, Commandant!”
Another technician turned, “Commandant Moheepata, our communication systems have just switched to electromagnetic waveband. We are transmitting.”
“What does it take? Cut energy!”
Moheepata was not certain how to feel and think. She had the clear orders not to harm these teenagers, her immediate emotions ranged between personally shooting them one after the other to deep respect for their cunning resourcefulness.
Sheput reported. “We have located them, they barricaded themselves in storage facility four, where we keep the things we took of the Freon vessel, mostly Earth things.”
Sigurd and Sergei had piled containers into a barrier right behind the door, Manjieet and Wolfgang had a service panel removed and the German kid assured them that, the Gravitation could not be manipulated this time. He explained. “While most of their systems are still a mystery. Manjieet and I identified the Artificial Gravitation coils, due to their color coding and because I was interested to know how they stopped us last time, so...”
Manjieet hushed. “He is quite smart but likes talking.”
“And grandstanding!” Margit said aiming one of the alien blasters at the door. “Not that I am ungrateful.” She added with a grim smile.
James had found shelter underneath the container shelter. “All my life I am told that guns and violence are wrong and that we need to let the police handle these things, and here I am in a space ship of an advanced civilization hiding like a coward.”
Andrew, the stocky boy from Aberdeen coughed. “Nothing really new then, British officers sipping tea in their tents while the Highlanders fight their wars.”
“We are not cowards ... we defeated the Jerry and...”
Margit, also armed. “I hate doing that too those Sarans, but their alliances mean little to me. Home comes first.”
Andrew nodded. “Aye, let’s try to get home or die together trying.”
A voice drowned everything else out in a thundering fashion.” This is Moheepata. I am the Commandant of this barge. You are testing my patience. There is no escape for you. Our queen instructed me to treat you as valued guest, but there is a limit. You almost caused this barge to crash and kill everyone including you. You tampered with vital systems. I will give you a chance. Put down whatever weapons you gathered and come out. I will give you credit for your resourcefulness and let it be. If you test me, I will return to Sara with a smaller group of Earthers.”
Sigurd replied. “We are grateful to you, but our homes and families come first.”
Sigurd and the others once again woke in the circular room, sans all the things they had liberated. They found themselves separated by the same invisible barriers as they had noted before. Only this time, they were one group and there were no gurneys, desks or chairs.
Sigurd grunted. “Of course Sleeper Rays, what could we have done against them?”
On the other side of the force field stood the tall older one, they knew was the Commandant herself. She had her arms crossed and looked over the Earthers. “In all my space travels I never encountered an unrulier, aggressive energetic group as you. I am not sure what to do with you. Should I simply keep you in Stasis freezers until we deliver you to the court? Most of my crew thinks this is the best approach. I also was inclined to do heed their advice, especially after you almost destroyed the Samoteth and flattened a major city of Earth in the process.
But I also can’t deny the awe and respect you have earned in my opinion for not giving up and fighting for your goals.”
She paused and looked at each of them. “You cannot go back to Earth, while I understand your situation, I must place Saran interests first, especially if the consequences could mean armed conflict and war. A war that could very well spread onto Earth.
What good are your armies against enemies that could evaporate your cities from space?”
Aaron had understood this already and the interrogation of the Freon had widened his horizon substantially. “She is right, guys. I talked to the Freon commandant. Earth would not stand a chance.”
Wolfgang lowered his head. “I hate to agree but the Sarans are not alone, I scanned over some of their stuff in their library. They are involved in a very long civil war against their own colonies. There are many civilizations equally powerful. That Galactic Council they mentioned is basically there to prevent wars. A little like the United Nations.”
Moheepata again nodded slowly. “And I cannot risk this because of you. Do you understand that?” Aoife sniffed and wiped her eyes. “Yes I understand, but it is still unfair. Unfair to us and unfair to my family.”
The Commandant sighed. “The device you found, that satellite connected communication device; you could call your families and loved ones?”
Most of them nodded.
Mahmud almost yelled. “I will not fall for your tricks, America! You want me to use the phone to reveal the locations of my brothers, never!”
Buwunti spread his arms. “No one has phone where I am.”
The Commandant sighed again and looked to the side to find her second in command. Then she focused on the teenagers again. I will give each of you the chance to call home and say good bye.” She held her hands up to curb the storm of emotional responses. “You cannot tell them the truth. If one of you claim to be abducted by aliens, that won’t raise any suspicions but if thirty of you make the same claims, it certainly would. Therefore I will have your calls monitored. If you betray my trust, I assure you it will be the last time. You tested my patience, caused deaths among my crew and almost destroyed this vessel the next act and I have you spaced.”
The Commandants tone of voice left no room for doubt that she was not serious. Even Mahmud did not comment.
“It’s Aaron, dad.”
“What sick joke is that?” His father’s voice proclaimed. “I just came from my son’s funeral!”
“My ... funeral?”
His father’s voice was stricken with grief and emotions. “You do a good job mimicking my son’s voice, ass hole!” His father hung up!
Aaron’s eyes blurry with tears he dialed Ricky’s number.
The voice of his best friend answered. “Hello?”
“Uh ... you’re Ricky. Aaron Stein’s best friend. Do you know what happened to him?”
Ricky’s voice was also heavy with emotions and his response interrupted with sobbing and sighing. “He was killed. How could you not know what happened? It was all over the papers. Who are you anyway?”
“Uh ... ah ... I am a cousin from Israel. I just heard it, but no details.”
“Sorry about snapping at you, but I was Aaron’s best friend. They mugged him and set his body on fire to hide the evidence.
They found his remains in an empty lot in Queens.”
“His remains?” Aaron whispered. “Burned?”
“Yeah man. Those bastards whoever they were used car tires. There was not much left. His dad identified him by the school bag, they found his bike next to him as well.”
It was very quiet in the common room. Rosa from Argentina had been the last and she had called her aunt. Her beloved aunt had hung up on her twice and told her to torment someone else. Her aunt told her that she had been victim to a house fire.
The story of everyone was the same. They weren’t missed at all. They all were believed to be dead. The Freon’s faked their deaths somehow and no one was searching for them.
Ninuk’s parents believed she was dragged away by a polar bear.
Melissa’s father grieved over his daughter, killed in a fiery car crash. Aoife supposedly had been raped and killed by a Dublin immigrant cab driver and dumped in the Dublin bay. Search for the body was abandoned.
There were tears and crying and quiet voices telling of their answer.
Aaron clenched his fists and left the common room. He knew the way and went straight for the Pneumo-lift that would carry him to the deck where the Freons were held.
No one stopped him until he reached the guard secured section. The armed guard by the locked security door knew him. “You wear white, but unfortunately without Moheepata present it is just a borrowed suit. It does not give you the authority to pass.”
A voice behind Aaron said. “Then I will give him that authority while he is on this barge.” It was the Commandant herself. “He wears white and has the authority now and I think Aaron will earn the right to wear it on a barge of his own one day.”
The guard crossed his arms across the chest, and the door slid open.
Moheepata first said to the guard. “This was not a reprimand. You did your duty as it is expected, but I wanted Aaron to know that I elevate him in importance above the others.”
The guard remained in the posture he had assumed, but said. “This Earther is well respected.”
Aaron, despite his sadness and anger blushed and soaked up the praise. “I know how lucky we have been, for the Samoteth to be in the system.”
Moheepata put her hand on his shoulder. “I knew I would find you here, the Freons have more to answer for, is that not so?”
Aaron’s face clouded. “Yes, these bastards hurt us and hurt our loved ones. I want to...” His voice drifted off as he did not want to say what his clenched fists suggested he was thinking.
The Commander said to a crew member in the security section they had no entered. “Bring a Freon to the Interrogation lab. Aaron wants to have a word with him.”
To Aaron he said. “You are an Earther by birth but you are a Saran by heart. Ask your questions any way you like. Shall he not survive, we have four more.”
The barge had left Earth far behind and was now well past the orbit of Saturn.
Most of the teenagers were in emotional turmoil and expressed their state with sadness, crying and gloominess.
They were in the common room, where Niofre had gathered them a day after the shocking revelation that those who had loved ones and family they could call did not miss them because they disappeared, but thought of them as dead.
Wolfgang got their attention as he pointed to one of the now uncovered view ports. “Do you realize that we are the first to ever see Saturn this close? In all the misery, look how magnificent this planet is!”
They all looked and no one, not even Mahmud could deny the awesome unequaled majesty of this beautiful gas giant.
Niofre silently stepped in and gave them a moment to find a little visual serenity that overcame most humans when seeing deep space and celestial wonders. Deep space, the horizon less depth had a profound effect on beings regardless from what planet bound species they came from.
She then stepped into the middle. “I travel space for most of my life now and I never got completely used to the affect it has on me as well. And this failed dwarf is spectacular. Such dwarfs are useless and inhospitable of course, but can aide space ships to gain speed.”(*)
“What failed dwarf?” Sigurd asked taking his gaze of the view port.
Wolfgang explained. “Niofre or more so the Sarans do not call objects like Saturn a planet but a failed star. You see Saturn is too small for ignition, but it is basically a failed sun. Due to its size it would be a very small dwarf star.”
“Your knowledge of these things is surprising.” Niofre lauded the German.
She did not wait for Wolfgang giving her a more detailed lecture on gas planets and the status of Earth science regarding this matter.
“Children of Earth, we are accelerating steady ever since we left Earth orbit. We soon reach the transition coordinate and sufficient speed for a trans spatial jump to Grou-That.”
“She means Barnard’s star.” Wolfgang explained.”
Niofre smiled. “I will ask the Commandant to add this name to Saran catalogs. However I came to take you to your Cryo tubes.”
She added after a short moment. “You all will now prepare for your first
Trans-spatial jump and after this you are light years removed from Earth. During these periods of Cryo stasis your brains are especially receptacle to cerebral language uploads. It will beneficial for to you to know the Saran language. Not everyone you meet will have translators adjusted to Earth languages.”
The Samoteth, was only one jump removed from its destination and already in a major star system of the Saran Empire. The Myon responder operator had her hands full to get all the messages sorted.There was considerable space traffic and jump activity.
Of course they also had been approached by a capital battle unit and had been checked out and verified before they could initiate the acceleration phase for the last jump that would bring them to the very heart of the Saran
Empire. On the second orbit of that system was Sara, the Golden world of Sares.
But the acceleration phase would take another eighteen hours. The Samoteth was no longer the fastest ship. The latest generation war barge the new Ibis class could accelerate almost 15 % faster than the Toth class.
The tall, not all that attractive but well liked and highly respected Commander of the Samoteth had called for a meeting. It was a routine meeting for the first part of it, as she always wanted to have the final versions of her department leaders’ reports, before she returned to their home port. The first part of the meeting was shorter than usual, as their regular patrol had been cut by six month due to the events in the sol system. They had left the Freon wreck behind in this system and transferred the Freon prisoners to the Hammarath who would bring them to a different destination, the Planet of Universal Peace.
The second part of the meeting was anything but routine. First the medical specialist delivered a short brief on their health. The specialist, who served the fleet for many decades had almost white hair, and he did nothing to hide it. He too was well liked, and that despite the fact that he was male and had some command authority even over women.
He had called up the files of the Earthers on his hand held device while their likenesses were displayed on a large image hovering over the table.
“They are in excellent health. Only a few had minor health issues, mostly nutrition based. One of them suffered from an annelid parasitic infestation. One of them had a blood glucose issue caused by a genetic but easily fixable pancreatic malfunction, but that was about the worst of it. However their emotional, mental state is a different story. Only twenty one understand what is happening, eight do not and one is in a fanatical denial and ready to sacrifice his own life to kill as many of us as possible, including the other twenty nine. We decided to restrain him with bio chemical means for now. Three of them are on extremely high intellect levels that put them in the Gsori category. One of them might even be on Jsori level and thus one of only five known.”
The leader of the technical, slowly nodded. “I am no expert in these human sciences, but that Earther named Wolfgang, has completely understood jump drive technology and is able to make the necessary calculations for a successful jump in his mind. He disassembled a force field projector and his friend Aaron made improvements!”
“The female from a region called India, isolated tronic routines and broke into encrypted systems with ease, and caused all the mayhem we experienced. If we let both of them work on our Tronic intelligence, they might be able to crack our enemies systems.”
Sheput said. “Not to mention we just might bring home the promised one,” She recited a passage of the old Book of Gods, a passage many Sarans knew by heart. “Behold RA shall take form as woman of great beauty and her hair shall be like liquid gold. Hair that has grown not made.”
The command leader of the tech maintenance department had dreamy eyes as she added.” She comes to the children of Sara from a world that has been forgotten in time and is sacred to all the Children of Sara.” She looked at the Commandant directly, “Could she not be the one indeed?”
The Commander folded her hands. “I cannot say. I grew up paying little attention to all these religious aspects of our society. I was always of the opinion that it is ballast that keeps our civilization from achieving really great things. Once I liked nothing better than to purge our society from all this supernatural nonsense, but now I am the Commandant of a Space
Barge and have come across things I cannot explain. We deliver the Earthers to Sara. Let those who know more about these things decide.” She got up and stepped before a view port. “I personally grew particular fond of this Aaron. I will keep an eye on him. I think he would make a good commandant of a war barge.” She sighed.” Not that I think it will be the last time we hear from all off them. Even after they left us, I doubt the Saran Empire will exactly be the same once they are introduced”
The medical specialist agreed. “I do not think the Galaxy will be the same, once Earthers’ ascent.”
Sheput sighed. “I think it was a good decision to leave them in the stasis tubes for the rest of the trip, after all. I am not sure we would have made it with the barge intact.”
The sights that greeted the thirty as they emerged from the Saran ship were overwhelming. Here on the landing field, which was immense by any measure, it became clear just how big the Samoteth really was. Aaron estimated it to be at least as big as an US aircraft carrier, but he was corrected by Wolfgang. “No I must correct you, the Saran standard unit of measurement of one Stadi, I learned is equal to 1.20 meters and since the commander has divulged the length of the Samoteth being 870 Stadi that makes her 928 meters long and exceeding the latest US carrier by 308 meters.”
Melissa who was standing next to Sigurd, could not hide her awe. The spaceport was a busy place, with many ships just as big as the Samoteth hinting at the true power and might of the Saran Empire, but the futuristic skyline with very distinctive ancient Egyptian design elements took her breath away. The sky scrapers dwarfed in height and size anything on Earth. The air filled with flying things and all was seemingly made of gold, white marble, alabaster and more gold. Statues of animal headed, human bodied gods, as tall as the empire state building. Some of them they could identify as recognizable gods of ancient Egypt, with cat, falcon and other animals apparently of Earth origin, while others depicted the heads of animals that were utterly alien.
They marveled at tall blue pelted cat like beings(*) marching by, watched a big freighter climb into the bright mid-day sky, large as the largest oil tanker with the same silent grace as a balloon.
Sigurd turned and looked back. “I don’t see that crazy guy from Iraq. I guess they were as tired as the rest of our world and had enough of his constant threats and blind hatred.”
“No, there he is.” Said the Irish girl, pointing at Mahmud, more staggering than walking coming down the sloped ramp that led from the belly of the ship to the surface and to where they all were standing.
James, the teenager from England said. “I’ve seen livelier chaps during the afternoon tea at the retirement home for centennials. I wager they have him on something that curbs his homicidal tendencies.”
“Perhaps there are enough subtle differences between the Sarans and us, to make psycho pharm a riskier business than they anticipated.” Aaron frowned. “Ever since nine-eleven we Americans, especially we New Yorkers of Jewish roots, aren’t too fond of Jihadists but this is wrong.”
Melissa snorted. “Better him being that way than us looking over our shoulders every five minutes, fearing he might gotten a hold of something to harm us. If it be up to me I’d put a round in his head and all them towel heads.”
Aaron wanted to say something about intolerant red necks and Texans, but Niofre who was with them interrupted his attempt by saying. “I have seen Sara for countless times and it is still overwhelming and a source of pride to me, what must it feel like to see it for the first time?” She turned her head. “It is time for me to say good bye. The ones that will take care of you from now on have arrived.” She gestured to an elegant, open vehicle that floated a few feet of the ground. It was larger than a school bus and its design hinted on a Venetian gondola, just much wider and bigger. Its operator sat in an elevated stand on its arched aft. Several white and gold robed and very official looking Sarans had debarked.
Niofre bowed to them and then to the Earthers. “It turned out to be a pleasure to have you aboard the Samoteth, even after you send two of our crew to the afterlife. I must return to my duties now. I believe they say ‘Fare well’ on Earth. A very fitting phrase in this case, so fare well and remember it was not us who abducted you.”
There was no real chance to say anything to her than good bye and wave, Niofre had turned and walked briskly back up the ramp, while a group of officials herded them onto the floating thing.
Melissa noticed two men, wearing only loin cloth like garments and metal collars loaded several sizeable boxes in the back of the flyer.
She pointed them out and asked one of the Sarans that were now with them. “Why are these men, almost naked?”
“These are slaves, golden haired goddess! Males that break the law are given the opportunity to serve the society, captured rebels and the like. I am sure you must have slaves on this fabulous Earth we have heard so little about.”
The Buwunti from Africa, clenched his fists.
Melissa shook her head. “No slavery and all forms of human trafficking is against international laws now, but it sadly had been part of our history.”
The Saran woman obviously did not understand. “No wonder you are still so primitive. But I see a great future for you. You will be worshipped I have no doubt!”
Sigurd grunted. “Great news then, we are abducted to serve a bunch of self-important dykes as slaves! If they think I worship anything but god, they have something coming!”
Aaron sighed. “I wouldn’t mind worshipping you, Texas. I sort of already do, but doing that with a slave collar around my neck is a tad too kinky for me.”
Aoife brushed through her coppery red hair with an added frown on her sad face. “Typical, even in space, blondes seem to have all the luck.”
The wingless flying contraption took them past the space port and into the breath taking metropolis. Even for a New Yorker, like Aaron the place was absolutely mesmerizing, nothing in Manhattan came close.
Except for Wolfgang, who apparently paid no attention to the scenery, but occupied himself with the Data-Comm, he never seemed to put down. “Einstein was right, there is a second spectrum, besides the electromagnetic one that is. Gravity and even time and space seem part of this second spectrum and the Sarans have figured it out. “He looked up and sighed.
“Einstein died before he could finish his work.”
Only Aaron and the Indian girl paid any attention to Wolfgang. Aaron said, there is a controversial, somewhat crazy professor on MIT, his name is Dr. Isah. I read that he had some interesting ideas, but his peer dismissed him and his theory as lunatic.”
The Indian beauty from Aliabad said. “I have read about him too. I think he is on to something.”
Wolfgang without looking up said. “From what we have seen, he is right about everything and perhaps a genius surpassing Einstein and Hawkins.”
While the three geeks continued to discuss gravitation and theories about
It, almost all of the kids from Earth, were certain now, they weren’t on Earth anymore. Except for Mahmud. He closed his eyes to the reality. They abducted him to America, he was certain. Whatever this place was, it looked just as decadent and opulent the teachers told him, America was supposed to be. The prophet and the Imam were always right!
He had a hard time lately to really focus on his anger and his energy to enact on his sacred duty always felt drained. Almost as if his very soul was packed inside an invisible cushion. Everything felt, soft and nothing appeared to alarm him, despite his mind telling him he should be.
He knew the dark haired guy was from New York and was not only American but Jewish; with a nose that made Uncle Feisal’s nose a distant second. Uncle Feisal was famous and very proud of his big nose. The kid, named Aaron sat next to him in the flying contraption and the hated American Jew leaned over and asked. “I think them giving you something to make you calm and docile. If they give you pills spit them out when they do not see it, if it is in the food, don’t eat it and I share mine with you”
“I cannot share food with you, you are a Jew!”
“Kosher and Halal is pretty much the same you know. Not that I think any of the food we get is based on animals mentioned in the holy texts. Not that I think that they have abducted a Rabbi to make sure my food is kosher.”
Mahmud wanted to kill and hate the Jew so badly, but for some reason he found wisdom in Aaron’s words.