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ALIEN EXTORTION



Maxine Millar



Copyright © 2017 Maxine Millar

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Dedication

This book is dedicated to my dedicated helpers;

Mary, sub editor, avid reader, proof reader and encourager and bouncer off of ideas person.

Lynn the other avid reader, proof reader, sub editor, encourager and constructive criticiser.


Introduction to the Niseyen Galaxy Series

The Niseyen, originally Human, were kidnapped off Earth by a Race of Aliens called the Kaldalei, about two to five thousand years ago. Nearer five, some thought. Others insisted there had been multiple influxes. They were dumped into slavery. Landing on a frozen world, stripped naked because slaves were not allowed to wear clothes, many of them froze to death when forced to sleep outside the climate controlled cities. But a baby boy was born, with a full pelt of dense fur. He became known as the father of their Race. Most were descended from him and, legends had it, a few others like him. Most of the Niseyen were furry. A few were not, about two percent, looking like normal Humans, and called ‘jare’ but almost all of these jare had short hair the same length as their body hair.

The Niseyen population had grown to 14 billion at its greatest but was now down to just over four billion on the Niseyen planets and possibly another one billion in space and on other planets. The population was halving every generation or so despite all the Niseyen could do, technologically, to prevent this. For some unknown reason, the Niseyen were becoming infertile. Also the sex ratio was now six males to every one female and every generation there were less and less females. This is unhelpful when one wants the population to grow.



In Alien Alliance, 416 Terrans were tricked by an Alien, Paswalda, who landed on Earth and who said he had been employed to pick up ten people and transport them to the planet Torroxell for trade talks and up to 400 others could come as paying passengers. He was lying. He was short on cargo and decided they would make useful income for him as slaves once they had accumulated enough debt to make this inevitable and he would get a percentage of this money because he would then claim they still owed him the airfare and he would get a fee (under-the-table) for having provided them. He also got well paid for transporting them by them giving him rare and valuable trade goods as barter for the airfares.

Unfortunately, soon after they arrived, Torroxell was attacked by a pirate fleet, the Terrestrial population mostly wiped out in the initial gas attack and a secret guerrilla war then proceeded using Biological Warfare since that was their only weapon.

An Alliance with the Okme Race provided the weapons; the diseases.

An Alliance with the Priskya, fish, the original owners of Torroxell, provided the Communication Network and some of the Intel.

An Alliance with the Cats, provided most of the Intel and some of the fighters plus part of the Communication Network.

An Alliance with two Niseyen men (Aswin and Kazwa Celon; Az and Kaz), provided the method of distribution of the diseases and Intel.

The tactic was asymmetrical warfare.

Combined, they won although with shocking losses.



In Alien Backlash, the problem was initially the effects of war; deaths, injuries, traumatised survivors, non functioning infrastructure and generally needing help. So Sarah, now Torroxell President, sends a ship off to the Niseyen world of Petislay, the home planet of Aswin and Kazwa Celon (the two Niseyen men) for settlers and personnel to run the infrastructure, and sends another two ships, one towed, back to Earth for settlers, refugees and help in general. These ships, colloquially called Flying Fortresses, are massive war ships.

But the Keulfyd, the people behind the pirate attack, are seriously miffed at being beaten but more about the virus itself which was used in self defense against their Race. The virus spreads, as viruses tend to do but it got off planet which became a major problem for the Keulfyd. So the Keulfyd decide to send a fleet of warships to teach this planet not to attack the Keulfyd (they forgot they attacked them first) and to interrogate these impertinent people who, if they weaponized the virus, should also have the cure. Which they want.

Astonishingly, the people on Torroxell refuse to surrender and they fight back but worse still, they win.



In Alien Checkmate,

The story paralleled Alien Backlash as Terrans, Zeobani and two Cats flew to Petislay for Contact and help without a lesson to fly the ship or an instruction manual. This caused problems such as discovering life support wasn’t switched on and neither was the heating. An interesting encounter with the Captain of a Niseyen Military ship resolved these issues but exposed others such as problematic cultural differences.

On arrival at Petislay, individuals welcomed them as they struggled with the complexities of absorbing a new world and some Niseyen teachers provided a remarkable solution. But the government didn’t welcome them and they were not granted citizenship which caused a multitude of problems.

Helene, Mayling and Nanelle went back to Torroxell with settlers, to provide assistance to run the planets’ infrastructure.

Meanwhile Az, Kaz, Kelly, Li and Stella, now a tight knit group, became aware of Dijina and her knowledge of how the Cleaners delivered their deadly cargo. Finding she was critically ill, and had knowledge they needed, they snatched her and headed for Torroxell in an Okme ship but got found before they reached Torroxell resulting in a three sided confrontation. A rescue came from Torroxell and they all reached Torroxell safely.

Back on Petislay, Donny, Dan and Simone decided to stay, each for reasons of their own. The Cats had their own agenda and the Zeobani proved to be capable and delightful crew, mostly.



In Alien Deception,

This story commences with coping with the aftermath of the second war so it immediately follows Alien Backlash and overlaps with Alien Checkmate.

President Sarah MacDonald and her daughter Katy are seriously injured and various factions on Torroxell seem to be taking advantage of the chaos by starting an organized crime wave or two but Allentom, (the geek from Alien Checkmate), proves a valuable asset.

Anne who was kidnapped at the end of Alien Alliance, surfaces on Oberterk, the planet of the Zeobani where Az and Kaz has been enslaved and transported from. Anne causes mayhem for the Keulfyd and then the Nashi.

Anne then plots with Mathew Weston, the military mastermind behind the original counter-attack on Torroxell in Alien Alliance. Sarah diverted him and many other ships away from Torroxell due to various tip-offs that he Keulfyd are planning another attack. Orbiting Oberterk with Mathew, are a number of other ships, all staying together. From Anne, they discover the Zeobani on Oberterk are planning a counter-attack on the Nashi who invaded Oberterk. Maybe they’d like some help?

On Torroxell, Sarah and other had been planning a non-military Sun Tzu type offensive against the Keulfyd to protect Torroxell but this planning has gone slowly due to the crime waves. Then Anne discovers the real threat and suddenly it’s all on.



And now in Alien Extortion

The story begins with the Torroxans’ plan to force the Keulfyd to negotiate. The plan long delayed by crises and illness, finally being implemented however the Keulfyd Commander is disinclined to be nice. Meanwhile the viruses are severely impacting Okme and Humans, including a group of Niseyen perpetrators sentenced to a prison island who devise a novel way to escape and then find themselves negotiating for a reduced sentence. Dai finds out the extent of his son’s past delinquency and the Keulfyd notice the Okme are up to something while the Torroxans continue to deal with the encompassing organised crime problem. Then the Okme implement their plan and the Keulfyd Supreme Commander finds himself out manoeuvred, now beset from all sides and with a totally unpalatable ultimatum and not a shot was fired. He digs all twenty-four toes in and refuses to negotiate.


Contents

Dedication

Introduction to the Niseyen Galaxy Series

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Index of Characters, Races and Planets



Chapter One

It was the evening after the day Sarah was allowed home from the hospital and Anne was still guarding her; her main function being to make her rest. They watched the news as were a huge proportion of the population these days. The daily death toll was still climbing, inevitably, and funerals were several times daily. The Cats were still finding people dead in their apartments. There continued to be those becoming seriously ill, or dying, from complications of the virus. Sarah shuddered as she thought of what would have happened had all the diseases been released. There would have been very few survivors. Anne left to go home for the night and a few minutes later Sarah looked up as Dai dragged himself home, exhausted as usual, carrying tea.

As they munched through it, he looked up at the media outlet and remarked, “The death toll is tapering off, did they show that?”

“They did but emigration and births combined are still not keeping pace with deaths. The population is still falling.”

Dai grunted, thinking Sarah had obviously forgotten that that was normal for Niseyen planets. “I dropped tea off for Katy, she was asleep.”

“She still has that pattern of work too hard one day and collapse in a heap the next,” commented Jesan, clearly worried. “Ludmilla keeps telling me that’s normal but I can’t stop worrying,” he yawned.

“I’ve called a meeting tomorrow lunchtime and ordered all the Race leaders here, plus Ku, Allentom, Ludmilla and Kudales and a few others and I’ve told everyone to bring anyone else relevant they can think of. Council of War. I’ve been talking to Anne and we have some ideas.”

Dai nodded, too tired for her words to really register.

Sarah noticed, she was prepared. Casually she leaned near him and dropped two tablets in his drink. He didn’t notice but Jesan was frowning. She smiled at him and mimed sleeping.

Jesan looked at his Dad and nodded. Good idea, he thought.

• • •

Helkmid looked in annoyance at the messenger, flashing urgent, on his phone. So he was ordered to get to get to bed early, sleep well and turn up at lunchtime for a Council of War, was he? He contacted Ku, “Been summoned have you?”

“Yes. Can you think of anyone else we should bring?”

“No. I think we know it all between us but if I think of anyone I’ll bring them. See you tomorrow.”

• • •

The next day, just before midday, Sarah looked around her hallway. She looked at poor Jesan who had been doing all the work and Katy who had tried to help but had to follow Jesan’s lead. The hallway, going past Katy’s and Jesan’s apartments and leading to hers, now had a few tables in the centre, set for a buffet lunch, the burners were on for the hot food and all was ready for the food to arrive. She looked around thinking this had been a good idea and it could be made semi-permanent. Normally this ten foot by forty foot space, formerly a hotel corridor, was just a walkway but today it had been transformed into a meeting room since, although narrow, it was larger than the lounge. All the chairs, fetched by the security guards had been pushed back against the walls.

Pikdaa was already here, Jesan had fetched her and she was in her new motorised sub, finally unloaded from the Audacity.

“How are the subs working out?”

“Brilliant Sarah! We only have forty-five, Mathew is promising more to come. We would like a lot more, when a factory can be built.”

“I’m sorry but it will be a while. How are you apportioning who gets to drive them?”

“That is difficult. I had a perfect excuse. It is wonderful to be able to get myself here. Jesan did not have to help.”

Sarah thought ‘that is difficult’ would be an understatement. Forty-five subs among how many billion?

More straggled in, many looking tired despite her instructions. In contrast, Anne and Dijina were fashionably dressed with makeup and jewellery. They were accompanied by Allentom who was another of the tired looking majority.

Finally they were all here, Chris for the Cats, Ludmilla and Kudales straggled in and finally Helkmid and Ku arrived. The food already being there, the Okme were encouraged to tuck in. The others didn’t need any encouragement…Sarah waited until all had served themselves and then opened the huge door separating her hallway from the security staff and asked,

“Could you nice people remove the food and fold up the tables for me please? Leave the table with drinks on it and the one with fruit and desert stuff.”

“At once Madam President. Where do you want us to put the food?”

“In your stomachs or take it home,” she replied with a smile and noticed their increased acceleration. She smiled, food was such a good motivator and Dai had had this catered from a Niseyen restaurant. She should have wondered at the speed he had volunteered to organize that! It was nice but an extravagance. Trust him! She waited while the security staff rapidly cleared the food and stacked the tables against the walls behind some vacant chairs and when they had all happily left, she decided to start the meeting.

“Thank you all for coming here. We must stop these wars and I think we need to go ahead with Ku’s Plan. Ku, how far on in your preparations are you? Did you think to remove any traces the DNA has been in the sea?”

“We didn’t need to. All the ‘evidence’ is in place. The removal of the evidence that the DNA was immersed in sea water was not a problem, we will simply say, if questioned, that Terrans cleaned the room up and they used sea water and the evidence is thoroughly contaminated. Anne reminded us the power was out at the time.”

“Oh very good. So we are ready to go?”

“ Yes,” said Helkmid, And I came up with another plan and we have already implemented it,” and he explained.

Sarah sat there with her mouth open in shock, “Your people agreed to this?”

“Not all, which is why the need to shuffle staff around to get more hardliners in place to carry this out.”

Sarah noticed how resolute Helkmid looked while Ku was obviously not quite so keen.

Noticing who Sarah was looking at Helkmid continued, “You have to understand there is a long history of resentment between my people and the Keulfyd. They have been overtaxing us for years. A little market adjustment will be good for our people, especially now, and we are heartily sick of being exploited. In addition, we believe they are the source of all the conspiracy theories which so hurt our reputation and business.”

“So,” said Sarah slowly, “you clearly think the plan we have devised will not work?”

“Let’s say ours is what you would call a Plan B.”

Sarah smiled, thinking a Plan B was what they so seldom had!

• • •

Sarah looked around at the shock on the faces of the others. That plan had the definite flavor of Helkmid she thought but she didn’t say that.

The others took a few minutes to think all that through.

“Have there been any consequences, any reactions so far?” Ludmilla asked.

“We’re unsure if they’ve realized what it means,” Helkmid answered her, “so long as no one talks they might not. Interrogation is the main worry.”

Sarah shuddered at that thought. Going back to her notes, she summarized, “So we have the ‘evidence’ for the two groups; the equipment, the bank details, the money trail, Lab notes, the DNA evidence, the ‘evidence’ that the DNA of many individuals is there but too degraded to identify most of them, nice touch that. Also we have the virus, the inoculation, the ‘hot zone’ equipment that we say we didn’t touch because someone recognized what it was and left it alone, the signs of only Keulfyd living in the surrounding apartments. Anything else Ku?”

“No, Dijina and I have been conferring and she emphasized that we should have huge gaps in the evidence and we shouldn’t have it looking contrived.

“Does everyone agree?” Sarah asked softly. “Do we proceed along the lines discussed?”

Everyone looked at each other. There was some shuffling but no dissenting voices.

“No one can see a better plan, a less risky one? Everyone is in total agreement we need to do this?”

She looked around again but no one offered any comments. “For myself, I think this is a lot less risky than doing nothing. Ok. We proceed. We’re going to go straight to Ku’s plan. I’ve tried to call Kasthidill on several occasions and he refused to demean himself and speak to me. So we’ll come in the back door. We have to do this at the Control Room.”

They all filed out and went, some back to work and Ku and the Race leaders to the Command Centre of the Second War where all the best Communication equipment was.



Chapter Two

“We’re all going to die,” moaned Sijkah.

Hajaxil glared at him, too sick to comment. He shuddered and shook with the fever and every shudder hurt.

“We need to go to hospital.”

“I told you we dare not go for help, take some pain killers.” With painful difficulty, Hajaxil struggled to his feet and staggered to the bathroom. He looked in at the other two. Krylsid and Jisken were still in their rooms and looked like he felt. At least they didn’t moan. He felt like strangling Sijkah but he didn’t have the energy. The irony was not lost on him that Sijkah had the energy to moan. The pathetic, sniveling bastard would probably outlive them all.

He went back to the lounge, where Sijkah was moaning,

“We’re going to get into trouble for not distributing those drugs.”

“Don’t be stupid, we’re far too sick.”

“I told you we should have done it before instead of you three going gambling. What if they come and check again?”

“They can’t blame us. We didn’t expect to get sick!”

“How did we get sick? We had all the inoculations.”

“Shut up.” It was a good point though and one question that they had all asked. It had all seemed too good to be true and he should have realized it was. Offered a chance to get out of prison early and have his forensic record wiped if he just did a little well paid favor. A no brainer he thought. A death sentence more like. They had been having such a good time. Until huge numbers of people started getting seriously ill, it had all been such a dream and exchanging chips for drugs had seemed like a dream come true. Free gambling; they could win a little or a lot and they couldn’t lose because even if they did lose it wasn’t their money. And they were told to give away free samples… But then he had realized not only were the diseases much more serious than they had been told but the media was saying the drugs were killing people too.

Frightened, they had stopped the gambling, taken all the drugs and drug making equipment and stashed it all next door and decided to do a bunk but Jisken had returned from the airport to tell them,

“We’ve left it too late. The planes are still landing with immigrants who are now being sent to empty cities but as it became obvious it was a pandemic, all outgoing flights were cancelled. I can’t get any tickets.”

Sijkah had yelled at him that they should have left yesterday but Jisken had told him,

“That wouldn’t have helped. Those that had left after the pandemic had started were ordered back. We’re trapped.”

And then over the next few days they became sick, very sick; all four of them.

In panic, Jisken contacted the hospitals and listened in horror as a recorded voice told him, “Only the critically ill can be admitted to hospital, and Treatment will be given only to those who are regarded as terminal. Priority is given to children and women. All sick babies and the very young will be Treated. All hospital and Healing Machine Treatment for these illnesses are free.”

He informed the others adding, “I listened to the symptom list and we will not be regarded as ‘entitled to care.’ Thousands are sick in every city. They say the Health System is overwhelmed. They’re saying we need to quarantine ourselves and look after ourselves. We’re infectious.”

“So how do we live? Who’s going to look after us? How do we get food and drink and other services? Who’s going to do our house work?” Sijkah was looking around in near panic.

Hajaxil looked at the others and made an executive decision, “I’ll go down to the lobby, book all of us in and we’ll have to pay…” As the others protested in indignation he shouted them down saying, “The bottom line here is that we need to take steps to survive otherwise we might not. I watched the news before. They were saying that people need to isolate themselves and that food and drinks will be delivered and that when we order things we need to tell them if we’re sick or not. Those that are sick will be serviced by other Races or those that already have the disease.”

“You mean we’ll be served by the sick? Why are they working when they’re sick?” Jisken puzzled, “I wouldn’t. Don’t they have sick leave on this planet? And why do you need to pay?”

Replying as if to a child Hajaxil replied, “We need help. We need to charge things to room services. If we’re not paid up someone will find out we are here illegally. Think, you damn fool! They will go to charge it on the door monitor and it will tell them the room is empty. And we can’t go and get food outside. We’re too sick, we might be followed, we might collapse, we can’t risk it, someone might realize this room should be vacant.”

“We’re supposed to live here free except for food! That was the deal!” Krylsid railed.

“And the deal was also that we weren’t supposed to get sick! Enough discussion. This is one time we need to be legal. I’ll get another apartment on this floor so we don’t have to move far. Stay here.”

Hajaxil went to the lifts and was chilled to see several clearly marked ‘infected’ while the others were blazoned in orange with ‘uninfected’ and ‘do not enter if infected or if infection is suspected.’

Down in the lobby he looked up at the signs and moved into the ‘Infected’ queue. He booked an apartment on the same floor, for four. He explained, “We’re all going to move in together to look after each other. The media says we can get room service, food and drinks delivered.”

“That’s correct sir. The menu is limited but we have a full range of Niseyen drink sachets, bottled drinks, snacks and fruit and if you could order a days’ supply all at once, it would be appreciated because the staff delivering the food to you are unwell. There is a food warmer and a food cooler in all rooms.”

Hajaxil shuddered. He might as well do this all at once so he ordered a days’ supply plus extra drinks, paying for it himself. He turned and went to the ‘infected’ lift, leaning on the wall and eventually arriving back at their room.

“Room 78, down on the left. I’ve ordered food. I’ll stay there and wait,” and he left. He couldn’t wait to lie down. At the door of the apartment he passed his bracelet past the monitor legally keying himself in as ‘occupant’ and went through the Cleaner. He appreciated the cleanliness of the apartment as well. It sure smelt better than theirs. Moving faster than he wanted, he quickly found the best bedroom and lay down on the bag.

Meanwhile, his order had gone to the kitchen. It was made up by kitchen staff, covered and placed on the conveyor belt marked ‘infected.’

As the order came through the spray, a buzz sounded on Ryan’s phone. He dragged himself up from where he had been lying and slid the order forward, drying the containers with a towel and then he slid the order onto a trolley. Leaning heavily on the trolley he checked the room number and headed for the ‘Infected’ lift. Arriving at the room, he passed the order bar code past the monitor and as the monitor glowed green to indicate it had been paid for he pressed the bell.

Hajaxil finally opened the door and looked down at a sick youngster who indicated the trolley saying, “Put your returns, any refuse etc on this trolley outside your door. It’ll be picked up later.”

As the Niseyen man wheeled the trolley inside Ryan looked hopefully down the corridor and saw another trolley. He walked to it, leaned heavily on it in relief and went downstairs. Arriving at the ‘Infected’ area he pushed the whole trolley onto the conveyor belt and pushed the button. The trolley moved through the hole in the wall.

Inside the room, Arina dragged herself to her feet. She disposed of the leftover food and organic plates and containers which then moved into the incinerator and she dumped the dishes that were not disposable into a huge sink full of hot water and disinfectant. Seeing it was now nearly full, she pressed the button. The sink on rails moved forward through the wall and its’ time stamp began to count down from thirty-five minutes. The trolley, she moved into a groove in the floor and pushed the button that caused it to go into the ‘hair dryer’ cubical where it was sprayed with very hot air in all directions. It then was moved forward through a disinfectant bath to clean the bottom and wheels. Then it had to rest and cool down as the timer started for thirty minutes. At that stage both would be safe for the ‘uninfected’ to deal with and would move through to the next room; the clean room and kitchens.



Chapter Three

At the same time, in the Security Control Room in Dakleiff, the Administrative Capital on Iseawakyl Prime, the capital planet of the Keulfyd, Maxadifidis was on duty when Jidoswuliz, another security officer commented, “I’ve noticed these reports saying a huge influx of Okme are coming in and going out.” Curious, she added, “I’ve sent it off to the Political Analysts who cover the Okme.”

Near the end of the shift she said in concern, “Max, on an impulse, I checked with other planets and found to my shock that this is happening on all of our planets.”

Thinking, Max looked up, “Jid, did you think to expand that search to other planets where there are large population of us?”

“Good thinking,” said Jid going back to the screen. A few minutes later she said, “You’re right. All planets where we make up a good percentage of the population. Is this suspicious?”

“I suppose we can’t exactly ask them.”

“Nooo.”

“Does anyone mention any disruption of services?”

“Didn’t ask,” Jid said and sent off another query. And a few minutes later replied, “No disruption of services.”

Max suggested, “Probably doing an upgrade due to the virus, or maybe upgrading the Machines? They’ve had a huge pay rise thanks to us, lots of overtime I understand. Staff getting exhausted? Going on holiday?”

“Oh that would make sense, I didn’t think of that. I’ll pass that suggestion on. I suppose I’m paranoid.”

“Well Jid, look at the business we’re in and someone did just try to kill us all, you and me included!”

The two chuckled and continued finishing off the work of the shift.

• • •

At the same time back on Torroxell, Ku was in agony. He was plotting and planning to dupe, lie to, fool and probably completely alienate his friends. He liked the Keulfyd but he couldn’t hide from what they’d done here! He sat in thought. Many of those in power in all Races were megalomaniacs. That type of job attracted those who wanted power for the sake of power and those who wanted power over others, often to be able to abuse others, crush others and destroy others; their reputations and careers at the least.

That described Kasthidill very well. He looked up at Sarah as she said,

“Let’s begin.”

Sarah and Dai watched as Ku sent a high security, high speed message directly to one of the open lines going to the Main Security Room through where all security messages were re routed. He wondered how furious they would be to see he could do this. He couldn’t exactly explain about his eidetic memory and that he had seen the access codes. The ones that had to be open since millions of authorized personnel had to use them. Of course he wasn’t one of those millions…He did not conceal the point of origin and he directed the message to Max. The call was answered by a Keulfyd man he recognized who told him Max was not here but they would send for her. They waited the few minutes it took until she appeared. Still sleeping in the staff rooms it appeared. Things must be continuing to be serious he thought.

As Max appeared and sat, looking a little disheveled and very apprehensive, Ku opened with, “Hullo Max. You’re looking a lot better than you were last time I saw you. Recorder is on I assume?”

Max nodded.

“Sarah came into view and said, “Do you know who I am?”

Max nodded again. Silly question, she thought. Whoever in the Universe didn’t know who she was?

Sarah sat in front of the screen, her heart pounding. Here goes, she thought. “I have chosen to direct this message to you because it needs to be delivered, unaltered, unedited and promptly to Kasthidill. I have tried on numerous occasions to speak directly to him and been blocked. This is ludicrous beyond my understanding given that the gatekeepers on your side have been repeatedly told I have information your Race needs to know pertaining to the virus which, I understand, is still increasing in its’ impact so for Kasthidill to ignore me is stupid. Ku offered to help.” Behind Max, with expressions ranging from aghast to indignant to furious, were increasing members of the Security Team with more entering by the minute.

At a comment from one of her colleagues out of sight Max said, “There are at least two others out of sight.”

“They are representatives of the other Races here, leaders of their people. They do not wish to be seen but they are OK with being acknowledged. Max, Kasthidill has some decisions to make. He needs to decide if he is going to recall the rather large Battle Groups orbiting this way or if we are going to destroy all the information on the virus that you need.

“And as I previously mentioned, we have a great deal of information here about the virus. Ku has figured out that the information we have, from a Lab book, shows what viruses were recombined to make it. He said it is correct in theory but, of course, he hasn’t replicated it. The inoculation they made is here, what we don’t know is why they did this or who they are. Except that all the evidence, indicates they were Keulfyd. If you want this information and the inoculation you can buy it. The bill will follow. The longer we dicker, the larger the bill grows as the interest gets stacked on.”

“Regarding the spread of the virus, we know that Lidisihad must have taken the virus to Oberterk. It spread out from there as you know. I understand from the Okme that it then spread out from wherever he went. The Okme are wondering if he spread it deliberately but it could also be simply that he fled. Ku does not know if he was a Carrier or a ‘slow onset’ case although that seems more likely than that he spread it deliberately but of course that is all conjecture. And he may simply have fled because he was a fugitive. You need to find him. However there is a worse possibility. Various clues about the lab and the surrounding apartments have indicated that your own Race may be the ones implicated in constructing this virus. Of course you will need to conform this. So you need to find Lidisihad to determine if he was part of this group.”

“We did but he is dead,” Max said and then wondered with horror if she was authorised to release that information but Sarah was still speaking.

“Then I suggest an autopsy would determine whether he had the virus or was spreading it deliberately. The Okme also say they know of no confirmed carrier or ‘slow onset’ case although whatever status he had, he must have known after the first few outbreaks that he was spreading it.”

“That will not be possible to determine. He was eliminated in such a way that no viable tissue is left.”

“Oh. Scientifically that is a pity,” Sarah said hiding her jubilation. They must have incinerated him! Now that was a literal dead end for the Keulfyd! Sarah took a couple of breaths to calm down and said, “I hope you have considered other Races may have found this weaponized virus too tempting not to use and that if your people, your hierarchy, did not have such murderous intentions towards other Races as have been evident here, they would not have been seen as such a threat by others. Either the Nashi or the Zeobani could have done this and there were also Ridianit on Oberterk that could have been seriously miffed at the Keulfyd for wiping them out here. Our race was not in a position to have participated in the spread of the virus from Torroxell or from Oberterk,” Sarah lied.

She looked around behind her, “Anything else?” They all indicated no.

She looked back at Max, “I hope you won’t get into any trouble, Max. Ku chose you because he assured me you were honest and would ensure Kasthidill got this information and got it unaltered. We await your response.

And this message is for Kasthidill. You will sign a Treaty with us promising no further hostilities either openly or hidden as the last attacks were. If you do not, we will withhold all the information we have on the virus. The longer you delay the more of your people die. That is a fact as well as a threat. The decision is yours but I assure you, you will not get any of that information via war. Attack us again, in any way, and we will destroy the information on the virus.” Sarah decided to up the ante.

“And please note we did not get the idea of self destructs from the Niseyen, the Niseyen got that from us. We die, you die too and that is a promise. I have had enough of your aggression,” she bluffed, “now it’s my turn,’ and signaled to Ku who terminated the connection. Well maybe not a bluff, she thought. Maybe she would. Revenge could be sweet and if they attacked again and all was hopeless she resolved she would carry out that threat.

“What was that about a bill?” Chris asked.

“Dai, Mahmoud and others calculated up the cost of the wars. All three. To the planet. That’s the bill. According to Interplanetary Law, if you lose a war you are supposed to pay reparations. Difficult to prove, mostly, because most wars are hidden being cyber, Biological, Trade etc. The Keulfyd tipped their hand when they waged a Military war.”

“Didn’t you go off script a little there?” Pikdaa suggested.

“It was an idea from Dijina and Ku. That the Keulfyd would be more suspicious if they were given the information than if they had to pay for it. And the more they had to pay for it, the more believable they’ll think it is. It was something we had talked about but I decided when I saw the rejection and the anger on the faces of the Keulfyd I could see behind Max. They weren’t buying it. To Keulfyd psychology, Ku assures me, charging for the information improves our chances. I don’t know the Keulfyd. Ku lived with them and Dijina studied them. I take their advice and Dai agreed. So did Helkmid and he and Ku also had great fun estimating the cost of the Okme medical response. I gather they added penal rates and the estimates on on-going care. Ku also convinced me to link the two, the virus information and the Treaty; each dependent on the other. Ku said that would reduce their attempts to negotiate and place limitations on any non-aggression pact.”

• • •

While she was in the vicinity, Helkmid took a moment to see Dijina and said, “I think your idea to eliminate the tidiski virus is still a good idea because it will prevent the Keulfyd using this virus in another device.”

“Which they have probably done. Plural.”

“Yes Dijina, I agree and Ku concurs. I have been looking at these notes you gave me. I have added this to my research and Ku and I have studied your plans. We decided to implement this and as it is freely available it has been incorporated into the universal Treatment for all Keulfyd. We are spreading a variant of the virus along with it’s inoculant, now added to all Treatment and all vaccines given to children and the effect of this is that this variant, and its’ cure, will spread through almost the entire Keulfyd population. So the cure has been released. I doubt any will think to question this and since the instruction came from myself and Ku it is even less likely. My people will assume the Keulfyd have reversed their previous directive, centuries ago, not to eliminate this. Since the Keulfyd are so touchy, it is highly unlikely any Okme will seek to authenticate this with the Keulfyd.

“So it is done and the information disseminated to all the Okme and it is quietly in the process of being released through all the Healing Machines on all the Keulfyd worlds and all planets where there are Cleaners. And it is therefore released, through the Treated and inoculated into the general population on all the Keulfyd worlds thus rendering the remaining Cleaners’ wheels obsolete within a few months per your original intention.” He recognized her jubilant expression as one of pleasure at this news.

“The true information is being kept secret even from the Okme for now; so Terrans can continue with a lucrative income but also to eliminate the risk that the Keulfyd have another virus ready to go and also to make the wheels safe for other races including the Keulfyd. Additionally, as Sarah pointed out, making the Cleaners safe is a huge industry for the Terrans and teams have been sent to the Niseyen planets. Although there is no official policy yet, I understand Sarah told the Terrans to advertise their services and she is sure they will soon have a growing industry. My people do constant re-programming and upgrades to the Machines so this was just packaged as another routine upgrade and because it came from myself and Ku,” he repeated, “no one will question it.”

“Good and the Terrans will soon be overwhelmed by orders to render the Cleaners safe. No one wants to take their families’ health for granted. Thank you Helkmid. Do you realize you have achieved one of my major aims in life and one I thought I would never see?”

Helkmid watched as she walked away. He wondered if she would ever recover from the trauma and concluded possibly not, but then crisis could be a growth point and she might be one of those. He noticed her increased vigor and felt she had earned every cent of the cost…on second thoughts, he would send a message to Dai to add that one onto the bill and order the money (if it was ever received) to be sent to her.

He thought about the bill. The bill was portioned so that the money went to his Race not only for their medical bill but also for the Military response. Oh, they had had so much fun making up that bill and so many had so cheerfully contributed to the task and then added their accounting bills to the accounting fee. A claim of a hundred thousand for each death which was the most that could be claimed. The Cats would get a bit too and he wondered what they would do with money. But the first thing the Okme would do with any payment was repay Sarah the money she had paid for their medical response. The response they had not charged her for. She would be repaid with generous interest although there was the small matter that the Keulfyd needed to pay first…

• • •

That evening, Sarah met with Helene to discuss the law that she and Dai and others were busy writing.

Helene told her, “The plan is to make the law simple and for the emphasis not to be the letter of the law but to be the intention of the law. This is the way some Acts, like Mental Health Acts are written. Hopefully, this will get around the ‘here’s the law now how do we cleverly get around it’ attitude.

“Has it been written into Torroxell law that you can be sent back to your planet of origin for any imprison able offence?”

“Yes, Sarah, you already discussed this with Dai and me.”

“I’m sorry Helene my memory is stuffed.”

“Gosh I wonder why? Surely critical illness following seven assassination attempts isn’t wearing you down?”

Sarah looked at Helene thoughtfully and then said, “Yes I suppose they were assassination attempts. Seven separate attempts?”

“That’s what Mahmoud and some friends of his have his found. At least seven. They searched all camera footage with you in frame and compared individuals in the crowds to people arrested and implicated. Then they looked for anyone close enough to you with any propellant device or those who approached you including one man who gave a child some flowers to give to you.”

Sarah paled, “Is the child alright?”

“No, he died.”

Sarah’s face hardened, “Can you charge that man with murder?”

“There is no proof although I understand we got him on a pile of other charges and he is currently enjoying a holiday on a prison island. An assassination attempt charge, though this is a possibility legally but the evidence so far doesn’t constitute any route to a likely successful prosecution on that charge.” Helene paused recognizing the sign; Sarah was deep in thought.

“Can we name and shame? Publish the evidence we have?”

“Guilty till proved innocent? We can do that. Unsuccessful assassination attempt on you and murdering of a child.”

“Plus all the people close enough to me to be infected.”

“Yes, you were not a healthy person to be around,” Helene bit her tongue looking at the anguish on Sarah’s face. ‘Stupid,’ she said to herself.

“We must continue this banishment policy for the lesser crimes. It is a lot cheaper because it’s free to simply send them on the nearly empty ships going back. Did I hear right? Dai says some of the Niseyen worlds object to our deporting policy?”

“Niseyen worlds object.”

“Well I’m overruling that,” Sarah said, “I’ll threaten to shame the Niseyen worlds with the extent of the problem and suggest they let their criminals out in order to get rid of them. Dai told me it’s a Niseyen law that anyone can leave, even those who have just left prison, but they are not allowed on another Niseyen planet if they have committed what is likely to be a serial offence and they are not allowed to leave if they constitute a severe risk to others. I think attempted genocide via Biological Warfare constitutes severe risk. Don’t you? So I’ll tell them we consider Terra and Torroxell need to be added to that list. Do any other worlds object?”

“The Okme world doesn’t comment and Terra agrees and accepts rejects back.”

Sarah nodded. She felt exhausted and decided to go and rest while she could still think. She wondered how long it would take Kasthidill to get back to her. Ku had said the wait could be considerable.

• • •

Walking back to her apartment, Sarah felt dizzy and leant on the doorway to her building.

Ethan, one of her guards that day, moved swiftly forwards as he saw Sarah begin to collapse and caught her. He lifted her up and moved inside hoping no one had noticed but saw the inevitable cameras and then had to rely on others to help as reporters almost tripped him up. He reached the lift with relief and laid Sarah on the floor as reporters were shoved away to enable the lift doors to close. As the door closed he said, “Phone, urgent, call control. Sarah has collapsed. She’s been out for about three minutes. The media circus saw. We’re in the lift on the way to her apartment. Doctor please.”

As the lift door opened, he was gratified to see several guards waiting and the media shoved back, furious, while Sarah was lifted up and carried into her apartment.

• • •

That night on the news, Dai watched in fury as Sarah’s collapse was repeatedly shown and various media commentators, Niseyen, of course, added fuel to the current campaign to replace her because she was unfit to do the job. Dai, livid, noted those involved in this and contacted Allentom to check them to see if there was anything on their bracelets which would enable him to add them to the increasing list of those to be deported.

Dai’s only comment to the baying media the next morning was, “Sarah needed more Treatment but, as you have already been told on several occasions, her Treatment was stopped once the lights on the Machine went from red to orange. She needs to go back in but she won’t because she is prioritizing life and says the two hours needed to Treat her to speed up her recovery might cost the life of someone else who needs the Machine more and she will recover on her own. The problem is, Sarah isn’t resting. She continues to work. Unlike most of you.”



Chapter Four

Alarmed at her collapse and the advantage her enemies had taken of this, Sarah reluctantly spent the next day resting in her apartment despite the media claims that she had died. However, at a suggestion from Anne, Sarah sent a lunch invitation at the main Terran restaurant to Dijina, among others for the following day.

In perfect anticipation, Anne waited until Dijina, flabbergasted, told Anne and Anne replied, “Sarah is trying desperately to soften the Niseyen cultural norms and reduce the barriers between Niseyen and Terran. She is trying not to make a point of it but wants Niseyen to see other Niseyen eating at the Terran restaurants and vice versa. She would be grateful if you would come but will not be offended if you decline the invitation because of the venue.”

Dijina tried to hide her shock. She, an ex pariah and segregated ex prisoner, refuse an invitation to meet in public with The President? Not a chance!

“I have already accepted,” declared Dijina who thought she just about would have gone into the sea to be seen in public talking to The President, ankle deep only.

• • •

As Sarah walked from her apartment, she was mobbed by reporters and responded to one who said he had heard she was dead with, “You heard that on social media? Why would you believe that? What sensible person would, especially since you have daily updates from me?”

She smiled as he was obviously trying, and failing, to think up a reply to that. As another asked her, “Where are you going?”

She replied, “Out for lunch. My doctor told me to take it easy for two days so I slept yesterday and I’m going out for lunch with friends today. The media are not invited.” Her security detail prevented any further questions as Sarah insured they got photos of her walking the several hundred yards to her favorite restaurant with her favorite price. Free.

• • •

The media excluded, that lunch went well and Sarah had a leisurely lunch with Anne and Dijina. Dai, Jesan, Katy, Allentom and others who dropped in or ate and left. Contriving to be alone with Dijina and Anne, Sarah quietly asked Dijina,

“Would you accept a job offer? I need a Niseyen woman to teach Anne how to act like and be taken for a Niseyen. This is secret and very important. Of course her husband Jodin is also doing this but there are some things only a woman knows. She needs a vast amount of feminine information too. Allentom will be recruited to help but you would be the main teacher.”

“Of course, I’d be delighted,” Dijina answered, puzzled, curious and somewhat shocked.

The Security guards kept the media from pestering Sarah but as the others left, all were chased by media including Dijina who, embarrassed, refused to answer any questions and fled to the safety of Security staff.

Anne was then questioned as to who she was and how she knew the President. She noticed with satisfaction that they automatically assumed she was Niseyen and she tried to encourage that. She didn’t smile and kept a distant manner.

“Oh, I’m an adviser to the President,” she said and deliberately neglected to mention her name hoping the adviser bit would distract him. It did.

“Advisor on what?”

“That’s classified.”

“Who was that lady with you, not the Registrar, the other one?”

“She’s another advisor to the President,” Anne explained.

“Advisor on what?”

“That’s classified,” Anne said and refused to explain further. When she explained this later to Dijina, Dijina left in a daze.

• • •

Dijina spent the evening trying to come to terms with the idea that she was now considered to be a Very Important Person and an employed person and she now had a job. And she saw a few hours later that, as she had promised, Sarah had obviously authorized her to go on the payroll. About twice an hour, Dijina was checking her balance just to look at the word ‘salary.’ The word itself was the important part. The money was almost irrelevant. Dijina felt she wanted for nothing. She now had improving health, a job, money, a freehold apartment, unbelievably expensive and fashionable possessions, respectability and was mixing in high society. She could even dress the part. And the person who most seemed to understand, empathize and always know just what to say was Anne whom she now was going to see a lot more of. She had a friend. Not just Anne, Allentom also seemed to understand how she felt.

Dijina looked around her beautiful apartment, realizing she could leave it if she wanted to yet she was so used to being alone, the restaurant had been stressful. She thought of her son and the life she had lost. The relationship they could not rebuild. Yet his wife, the Terran Kelly, was another that did not seem to judge her, did not think she was an idiot, and seemed to understand her inability to feel comfortable with her son. She curled up on the sofa and put on the music player.

• • •

Jesan meanwhile, had had yet another request to talk to his mother and decided he had better face her.

At the Main Communication Centre he arrived for the booked call. Up on screen came the angry face of his mother,

“How dare you!” Leasan yelled, “you cut off my bank account! My income!”

“Why mother and here I thought you were calling to wish me Happy Birthday.”

“What?”

“It’s my twentieth birthday tomorrow or had you forgotten again?”

“You cut off my access to my bank account!”

“It was my bank account mother or had you forgotten that also? Supposed to be for me? I cut off the access you should never have forced me give you so now you are complaining because you have been unable to steal my allowance? Is that it?”

“I’m dual owner of that account! How did you do that without my authorization?”

“Aunt Frionna. You forget I travelled on a bank ship. She authorized it. I explained you were stealing off me and had been since I was aged eleven. I did it on the ship almost as soon as I boarded.”

“You ungrateful little bastard!”

Jesan felt himself getting angrier and angrier as the abuse continued and finally he had had enough. Before he lost his temper and forewarned her of the next shock to come he cut the call. Bitch! What had he done to deserve such a heartless, selfish, self centered…?” He took a deep breath and stalked out, vaguely aware of the sympathetic looks he was getting following such an abusive and public call.

Shaking he walked the long way home. All his life he thought, he had just wanted his mother to love him. His beautiful mother. But she thought him a nuisance. Why had he never told his father how bad it had got? He suspected he felt guilty, that he must have done something wrong for her to be so indifferent to him. If not for the tutors his father had paid for, he would have had a truly miserable existence. And if not for the love and help, especially financial that he had gotten from Aunt Frionna and his cousins. Well, he thought, that seals my next decision.

• • •

The next morning Jesan went to see a few people in a few offices. He then waited until his father came home.

“Get some good clothes on,” his father told him as he strode through the door, we’re going out for your birthday.”

“Are we booked for a specific time?”

“No, why?”

“I’d like to show you something. Sarah, you might like to see too.” He sat down and motioned for his father to sit next to him.

“I’ve got a present for you Dad,” he said extending his hand and flipping on his ID.

Dai looked down and it took a second to register. Jesan had changed his surname to Ineffid. He looked up, “Thank you. Thank you very much, but won’t your mother be furious?”

“No more than she already is. I cut off her access to my bank account when I left Medala and cut her off from all access to me. I deleted her everywhere. She finally tracked me down and made a public call to me today. I guess the cost of the call and little things like wars accounted for the considerable delay.”

“Why did she have access to your bank account?”

“She’s been living mostly off my allowance since I turned eleven. The man she had then, and most of the ones since, did not see fit to finance her lifestyle so she forced me to put my account in dual name and then she withdrew the money as fast as it went in. Birthday money, school fees, the lot.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“She threatened to sack my tutor. Kaldiss was my friend, my babysitter, my teacher, my sanity and she threatened to sack him. He just about brought me up from age ten.”

“I thought something was wrong. Your grades were so bad.”

“Look again,” and Jesan held out his hand switching to Educational Achievements and scrolled through.

“These aren’t the results I was sent!”

“No, they’re not. She did everything to help me fail, ensuring I was late for exams, distracting me with various manufactured emergencies, getting ‘sick’ at exam time, encouraging me to goof off, getting me drugs or plastered the night before exams, telling me I was stupid. Kaldiss and I explained the problem at school. There was an IT geek there and he and my teachers helped me by putting in an add-on to alter my bracelet but not my official record. They gave me this over-ride for her and of course, I had to show you the same one.”


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