Chapter 11: Recovery
I. On The Rogoss.
In the Eighth Year of My Reign.
With an empire extending to a couple of hundred major planets, those that were completely compatible with the Rogon reproductive cycle, and the thousands of other captive worlds which they held in thrall, there were billions of the race to maintain and countless additional numbers of slaves to oversee. Rogoss; Fermat-AT did not spend much time dealing with any one planet; but this Unruth seemed different. The native species with the unusual bipedal body structure had some interesting character traits—if the report presented was more fact than fiction.
A new slave-world, not only resisting but also driving an invasion force from its planet and the fleet from its star system. This had not happened in a thousand years. Rogoss; Fermat-AT briefly considered the long unfinished business with the arrogant race that had called itself ‘The Guardians’; nothing similar to be seen here except for the resemblance of one of the species involved to an exterminated client race of these so called Guardians.
It was not obvious what should be done instantly in order to redress this situation on the far off rim of the still expanding empire. Those commanding the defeated occupying force must pay with their lives, that much was certain. As for the resisting planet; (were there two?) no the parent world called Earth seemed well secured, and the other, Alchibah, were it not for the automatic routines bringing any setback to his attention, would have been a small enough addition to the Rogoss that he might never have noticed its inclusion.
Have the system quarantined for the time being. Annoying though it was, it was just too minor to deal with now. Those few of his underlings he would have felt comfortable handling the problem were as busy as he was. If the race, calling itself the Human, showed up again in any report he would deal with them at once. For now, he would flag the entry and make a notation to revisit it in the bi-yearly review.
At just the time Fermat-AT was setting the flags status to alert, his midday meal was delivered, and instead of marking the flag in a manner that indicated concern, it was marked as being of minor importance. That inadvertent slip kept Alchibah well below the central governments field of view long past the time of the next review.
II. Fire and Rain.
The Southern Shore and Beyond.
Shintok; elron-A saw the flame as the Dragon’s head lifted off and still continued towards the empty landing site. It was all he could think to do–and thinking really wasn’t his long suit, nor did it much enter into his need to reach the empty camp.
The Rogon camp was a shambles, besides the damage cause by the abrupt departure of the SwiftStrike; a large number of ponies were rummaging through the camp, knocking things about and being as destructive as possible.
When they saw the Rogon grav sled approaching the ponies all ran off, and so the camp was deserted when Shintok; elron-A and his broodmates brought their little caravan to rest in the center of the camp.
“Where is everyone?” asked huk, “are we the only ones left?” as if to answer his cry a door suddenly opened to one of the hardened bunkers and a human emerged. elron knew this human, it was the cruel Putnam!
“Oh thank god, I was beginning to think I was abandoned, help me Master!” he begged the elron.
elron had recently discovered that he liked humans, but this human had been cruel to both other humans and especially the ponies, it was no wonder the ponies had turned mean. elron knew what he had to do as he gave to order to his brothers, “Hunger is!”
Richard Redmond definitely did not like space travel, but the view from the bridge of the Rogon dragonhead ship, SwiftStrike, was disturbing beyond anything he had ever seen. Strange lights and unimaginable colors swirled and pulsated in a way that seemed to want to tear your mind away; geometric shapes and nightmarish objects flashed past narrowly avoiding collision, even the Rogons seemed unsettled.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, without warning, two beings appeared, standing on the deck in front of him. All the Rogons present turned to face them but otherwise made neither motion nor sound.
When the horrible creature spoke it was for Richard Redmond alone, what message the Rogons saw or heard is unknown.
“We know You!” came a voice directly into his mind. “We are the Guardians, long ago you chose to ignore our warning…the result has been death and failure for your kind…this time you shall be held accountable for your race! Do not return to the world we protect!”
And they vanished as suddenly as they appeared. Richard Redmond could think of only one thing, as he lay whimpering on the deck… If he got back to his office overlooking the East River… he would leave Earth again.
The Guardians on board their multidimensional ship were able to observe Redmond as though they were still with him, and in a sense they were, because a Guardian never entirely leaves other-space, some part of his mind always remains on the 12th dimensional plane.
“Do you believe they will learn this time?” the first asked the second.
“It is not likely,” came the reply. “It is beings such as that one that has held their race back for so long, we will surely have more dealings with these humans.”
III. Guardians Not!
A Change of Outlook, a Long Time Coming.
When the Rogon/UNWG fleet came through the wormhole they managed to destroy the sentinel the colonist had left there, and completed the job so rapidly the only warning was that it was no longer signaling. They replaced it with one of their own. At anything greater than point blank range this new device, though far more sophisticated than what the Mayflower left behind, was incapable of detecting the Guardians ship, but it did keep the Guardians away from the wormhole and might have explained in part the reason for their communications blackout.
Once the retreating Rogons were no longer in system the Guardians wasted little time in shutting down the potential spy device and then they finaly announced themselves.
Les Reye was busy trying to balance two spinning plates while standing on one leg and juggling four balls off his instep with the other; that’s how it seemed.
Right now the main problem was keeping the bots charged. The windmill generators were destroyed but for one at the remote site far away from town, and with the river frozen over except where they kept it open in the area around the waterwheel, and much of the upriver flow frozen solid the total under the wheel was only a quarter of what it would be for the rest of the year. And next came the cleanup crews and troubling need to maintain order in the caves. Too many people crowding in on one another let loose comments that otherwise would have remained unsaid.
He sensed rather than saw or heard it when the medallion he still carried came to life, and the shock was all the greater because Les had managed to convince himself that the god-like race had taken itself out of the picture.
The first thing Lester did was press a button that would alert the incoming call to all those aware of the guardian project; the attempt by humans and robots to make sense of them without getting caught. This message went to all the colonists but only those it was intended for knew what it meant and flicked on the proper channel and listened to the relayed conversation. Kara was the only one who made it to his office in time to watch Reye’s reactions as he watched her own.
“We have decided that more of the truth be revealed,” began the unmistakable voice. “Some thousand of your years ago we first ran into the Rogon. They had not then, nor do the now, have any means of harming us. However we found their behavior to our Soessossins entirely unacceptable. We had invested much effort into creating then watching as the race developed. The Rogons were not a part of our plan.”
“We relocated the Soessossins and the Rogon found them again. To eliminate all the Rogon would have been possible but we were now becoming fascinated with their expansion and evolution as well. Once more we moved out client species, this time far outside of the Rogon sphere of influence, and yet, by some unpredictable twisting of chance, they discovered the wormhole route to your planet and hence to Alchibah. There is something fated here that even we do not understand.”
“You Humans are now the third part of an unfolding puzzle and seem to be a catalyst drawing together and affecting the resultant far out of proportion to your numbers. As such we will continue to constrain your actions: Only those calling themselves Leviticans on your southern continent may deal directly with the Soessossins; we will permit them to develop further under that influence. You will be allowed trade with that land mass but for natural resource items only. All development shall be internal to those living there. We find the religious conversion so inherently nonsensical that it must be permitted to run its course. As to your dealings with the Rogon; that shall be of your own choosing.”
There was a pause as if the speech, it certainly wasn’t meant to be a conversation, was completed and Les said, “I have a question abou–”
“There are many questions and few answers,” came the peremptory reply and the medallion went silent.
IV. Paying the Price
In Liberty City.
I saw the people who had been outside of the city when the Rogons attacked and stayed away throughout the entire period begin coming back in and wander around looking at the ruins of our city; and I cried. Karl would never come home again. Somehow I was able to find the strength to get over the pain, but that was only a stopgap. I still woke up every night, reached for my husband–and found an empty bed and an empty place in my heart.
Hunter St. James, such a noble name, and some people were for forgiving him all of his sins. I can’t understand that. He came with the Rogons and was working for them under his own free will, and if things had worked out otherwise he would have been one of our overlords and masters. In spite of that he is being forgiven and evidently relieved of all responsibility. What is it about the military mind set? This matter of ‘Honor’ talk. “Jolly good show old chap. Mighty close to killing or enslaving us eh what? Near run thing and all of that but one of us had to lose. You came so close and fought so courageously that we could see ourselves reflected in your image and the ‘Cult of the Warrior’ says all is forgiven. Well done!!” I will never understand that attitude. Nor do I want to!
The boatyard, the one thing Karl and I had going for us has been destroyed and I cannot start it up again and run it myself. What am I to do?
The Ortegas, Turners, Yamasaks, and most of the other farmers had barns and silos destroyed but the fields were untouched beneath the deep snow cover. The Reye’s livestock operation escaped without any damage due to its remote location on the other side of the river. All of the buildings in town had been leveled and with them went much of the techbase of the colony. We still had the machines to make the machines but had to make them all over again
Rajnar Singe took a view opposite of and much more upbeat than most. He said, “With all I’ve learned in the last year I had been wanting to start over again anyhow. As bad as things are now it gives me a chance to do that—and I can and will be twice as efficient in half the time.”
V. No Rest for the Weary.
A Day Later.
In the Belt:
“Lets go and meet her,” Captain Monroe said from the Mayflower’s bridge as he studied the long-range view of ship heading back from the outer gas giant. Fuel for shuttles was a problem everywhere in Alchibah space that would only get worse.
Darren Calver executed the command sequence and the ponderous bulk of the partially hollowed out asteroid began to move on a course that would bring her alongside the fueling ship coming in from over the belt in a few more hours. Monroe spoke again, “I sure as hell am glad that she is no threat to us so let’s take down the shields and bring her aboard. I’ll feel even better once all that H3 is in our docking bay and then transferred to our tanks. After we unload her we’ll send her back for another fill-up.
The tank ship, large as it was, came close to vanishing in the shadow of the Mayflower. She was almost too large to enter the internal docking spaces but fuel transfer would happen so much faster inside that Monroe suited across and piloted the entry himself.
Natasi had been waiting her chance and while the ship was still being secured nudged her system shuttle close up against the side of the tanker and jumping out began her own provisioning.
Larry Monroe said to her, “Get a flight plan for a high speed run to Alchibah with an option to pass the Palmtree on the way in. You and I are going to represent the Spacers at a small gathering before the general meeting gets underway. If we have the time we might as well grab a couple of the colonist types fresh from Earth, thaw them out, and see what they think about joining us.”
“Da but maybe is nyet so gude,” Natasi said in reply. “Me tinks dis be time to play for caution. We bring dem back in capsule and wake dem up on Alchibah Da?”
“That works with me Natasi, no worry about mutiny in space and we won’t hear any complaints about a high G run, unless it’s you hearing it from me. We’ll need to pull a couple of the cap banks out to make room but with what we hear the loss of firepower doesn’t matter anymore.” Two hours later they were pulling two and a half G’s and Monroe was suffering in silence while Natasi, singing old pre-Soviet era Volga River songs, made out like she didn’t mind at all.
At Fort Stuart:
The room was fairly quiet as Andy walked in, he looked around and stated; “Yes, it was Travis, and no, I don’t know how. Anyone need to know why I have asked you here?”
The only responses were the tipping of some coffee cups in his direction. So he carried on. “John, you know you are standing down; Lisa goes with you, she is the best draftsman or person we have. Connor, we need a Council Member and Vet more than your Gun. Walt, get production going again; Bart and Joe need more tools to work with.
“People, all of those CNC machines are not needed to make war materials anymore. We lost a lot, it’s time to start rebuilding. Mike, get outta’ uniform; I need Grinder in civies. Mike, you just might want to look at helping out Pamela Nash, she took a hell of a hit and we need the shipyard. She was running the business, so help find a builder and get him or her in place. Hell it might even be you! Talk to Joe and Bart, however it works out she is going to need wood.
“This fight is not over, the playing field just shifted. Yes, some of us are going to try to go to Earth and get the Family’s of the people who had the guts to fight their way out.
“But, never forget why we came here. Clan Alchibah is everyone who rode the Mayflower with us. St. James and his crew as much as we may respect them are the new kids on the block. We have to build our own back up. In case some of you may have not noticed, I hate to lose!”
After another long look around the room, “Get off your lazy asses and get to work!” The laughter shook the walls of Ft. Stuart..
“OK, we have an open Council Meeting to attend; let’s be about it!”
VI. Not in My Colony.
An Executive Council.
Andrew Stuart stood at a hard locked Parade Rest as the Troop Carrier version of the C-78 circled into Liberty Field.
Hunter St. James glanced at the view screen and announced, “Strap on your sidearms, I think it is protocol. Take a look at him.”
They took a long look at their view screens to see the big guy dressed in Commando Black and Silver draped with damn near every weapon known to Man in that perfect Parade Rest. The three lined up behind him were smaller but if anything were proportionally armed as well.
DeWalt asked, “Commodore, were we supposed to take him?”
“Major, understand the feeling is mutual. He did not really want to try to take us. That is precisely why this may work.” As they sat the vessel down, St James opened the hatch and stepped out. The figures standing snapped off a lock hard knuckles forward salute.
“Commodore St. James, welcome to Alchibah. I am General Andrew Stuart, may I introduce my Command Staff. LTC Connor Benjamin Strike Force Rear, LTC Jaisa Benjamin Strike Force Reserve and LTC Ashcroft Andrews, Commander Air Group. I think you and Ash have met before?”
“Indeed we have,” St. James spoke for himself and Wendy Taylor.
“A pleasure Ma’am. And may I introduce Captains Monroe and Natasi representing our Spacers, and Lester Reye our Council President and Mayor who represents all civilians on the planet and in a larger sense the military as well.”
For most of what followed St. James and Taylor remained silent though they found the give and take something wildly outside of their experience.
Stuart stated, “If you will follow us up the Clan residence our local hostess Hanna Parker has agreed to cater an Executive Session of our Council in the main briefing room. LT Taylor your counter-part, our Kara has a briefing ready to go on our capabilities that I assure you we have not shown yet.”
Motioning the group to follow Ash and the Benjamin’s, Stuart fell in beside St. James as both heard the banter between Ash and Jai start up as normal.
“Don’t worry about those two,” Stuart said, “this has been going on since the first day they met in a Bar. You will be happy to know that although we are all Bourbon drinkers, I do happen to have an untouched bottle of Glenlivet up at the house. To sit though one of our Council meetings you are going to need it.”
“….And so we can all see, there is going to be a lot of opposition to an immediate raid on Earth, irrespective of the benefits. We need a united front and have to get this thing voted on and passed before it gets analyzed to death.”
VII In Search of Captain Travis
On the Fringe of the Belt.
The broken hulk tumbled slowly end for end and even now an occasional puff of vapor might leak from the inside showing the derelict ship was not completely dead. Occasionally it bounced off or it struck another asteroid; none of this affected the strange energy surges that glowed and sputtered around its equally strange drive system.
The Humans that had built that drive did so out of desperation and blind experimentation; they did not fully understand its workings. They had no concept of what would happen to a human who stepped into that field protected only by a ship side Space suit, just as they did not fully understand all of the dimensions that were involved in that drive.
The first thing that had happened was that the human being was rendered unconscious and no longer capable of navigating the dimensions he did understand. As a consequence he became unstuck in all of them, his unconscious mind had only one link to reality, that pulsing sputtering, dieing drive field. Slowly that unconscious mind began to feel its surroundings though the training imposed over the years by its conscious half. But, in the bewildering dimensions of Other Where and Other When it was lost.
Duty, Friendship and Survival; those concepts ingrained into this beings very soul by a life of struggle, hardship and accomplishment grabbed at the energy field he had become and attempted to go somewhere. The place where it should be could not be located, so it reached with its soul and there was a place.
Not the place where it should be but, a place where it could survive; a place where it had the beacon of a soul much like itself. It reached out for that one other soul it knew understood the crushing burden of Command.
It had a Where what it did not have was a When.
Andy Stuart was in the kitchen sipping at the morning’s first cop of coffee. This was going to be a long day; yesterday had been bad enough with the Council meeting that had formalized the cease-fire into a full Truce. Now came a full day of Staff and Planning meetings with his house-guests. The sound of the explosion caught him completely off guard. Andy was moving before he was thinking, “That was no explosion, it sounded more like an implosion.”
Flinging open the front door with only his social .45 in hand, he was stunned to see a space suited figure lying in the middle of the yard. Rushing over he turned it over and popped open the faceplate, the air that rushed out almost gave him a carbon dioxide headache. The body shuddered and began to breathe deeply if unconsciously. Then and only then did Andy notice the face and was on the radio instantly.
“Mariana, Kurt get out here with your kits now! Don’t ask me how but, by the Gods it’s Travis!”
The two Doctors were there in what seemed like a heartbeat and began their checkout of the unconscious form. Mariana looked up and said, “Get a stretcher crew, we need him in treatment fast.”
“Will I do?” Snapped Andy, on skis and shrugging on a para rescue rig that had been stored at the gatehouse.
“Go,” said Mariana, “we will be right behind you!”
Two hours later:
“OK, Kurt what you got, It’s time we got up to the General Meeting at the caves?”
“Why don’t I tell you what’s right with Travis, it will go faster. He’s not going to die but, I have no idea when he will regain consciousness nor when he will be functional. This is simply the worst case of BOD syndrome I have ever seen. Crap, spatial displacement is bad enough; we have no idea what temporal displacement is going to do. We didn’t even think it was possible!”
VIII. Future Plans.
Alchibah - Year Three and Beyond.
The Crater Lake was everything the Rogons had said it would be. Incredibly rich with metals and rare minerals. The dock at the mouth of the Cold River was the only point of contact those living in South Alchibah had with those others living in the north.
Ore was barged down the river and loaded into sailing ships for transport to a refinery center built a hundred miles down the coast from Liberty. The location was selected when the discovery of large surface reserves of natural gas gave a ready primary power source. There were about three hundred full time residents and from the start and everyone had taken to calling the place Tin Town. It was meant as a joke but was formalized on the maps as Tinton.
We kept having problems and growing pains, but the factories and farms were all working at a hundred and fifty percent—and the children! There hadn’t been as many on Earth in a thriving community setting like this in in anyone’s memory.
–From The History of Colony Alchibah
3rd Edition, Alchibah - Year 3
Author: The Historian