Excerpt for The Truth of the Senfee by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Truth of the Senfee

The Third Revelation in

The Starlight Trilogy

DL Bigelow Author

Copyright © 2016 D.L. BIGELOW

Library of Congress Control Number



First printing May 2017

Ebook February 2018

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, than please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Chapter One

Captain, this is shuttle one; permission to dock and come aboard! Shuttle one I asked with a snicker? Come aboard when ready, and don’t forget the recording crystal from the shuttle, we need some entertainment over dinner. Yes Captain Jo Ring stated, shuttle one out!

Docking the shuttle at the side air lock, Jo Ring and crew entered the landing bay as I stood waiting. Well I asked as they approached me, how was it, did you get your samples? There was a silence that prompted me to say never mind, save your stories for dinner! Welcome back!

Jo Ring showed me the crystal from the shuttle and stated you might want to view this on the ships main viewing screen the first time Captain. Then let’s go I stated eagerly. Mer and Mia were on the bridge as Mia shouted welcome back! As everyone filed onto the bridge I asked so what on this crystal? Our fishing trip Jo Ring replied with a smile, as she slipped into her station and inserted the crystal. We watched at it powered up on the main viewer.

The recording began as Jo Ring engaged thrusters and took the shuttle to fifty feet. As she banked the shuttle, the strange cylindrical object on land could be seen clearly from the higher elevation. As she circled to the beach and the crew collecting samples, she took the shuttle out to sea. As the shuttle banked back for her second look, the creature became visible moving though the water. Jo Ring accelerated the shuttle into a sharp climb, as everyone on the bridge experienced that feeling we get in the pit of our stomach as the ship suddenly plunged! As the shuttle accelerated downward in a tight circle back toward the beach, for just a few seconds, the creature could be seen moving fast underwater.

We watched as the shuttle banked hard and sped along the beach. Suddenly the crew came into view as Price could be seen for a brief second shouting first, than firing at something in the direction of the sea, just as the creatures head collided with the shuttle! Everyone jumped and shouted at the suddenness of the experience! Stop the recording I shouted. Thank you Jo Ring, now back it up please, good now stop!

The creature’s giant eye filled the viewing screen as everyone gasped. Now that’s one big frickin eye Beecher whispered as everyone laughed. Please continue, I quietly stated. As we witnessed the impact for a second time, we watched in silence as the shuttle banked hard to the right, quickly straighten and hard landed onto the beach, where it skidded fifty feet before stopping. Damn Tor stated, that would have killed the average person! Everybody warmly chuckled as I began to clap. Everyone joining in as Jo Ring smiled shyly while looking around the bridge as a person might look, searching for a way out of the room! Thanks everyone Jo Ring stated sincerely, can I suggest something though?

Sure I replied what is it? Can we get some friggin weapons on the shuttle? Sure thing I replied laughing.

Alright everyone, get cleaned up and meet in the galley in one hour, we have more good things to see from our first planetary mission. Everyone filed off the bridge, as Tor… tormenting as usual asked, so, are we having fish for dinner or what? I slapped him on the back as I said, I believe it will be the, ‘or what’ Tor.

Damn! He said glancing at Jo Ring with a smirk, and I had my mouth all set to eat fish tonight.

That’s actually not a problem Jo Ring stated, the chief tells me they really bite after dark! Ah…that’s ok Tor replied weakly as he swallowed hard, I never did get into that whole fishing thing, as everyone snickered.

Mia and Victoria started preparing dinner as I placed a nice bottle of champagne on ice. Our first voyage to a new world needed celebrating, and the fact that everyone made it back safely, was the mission.

Jo Ring made her way to me and said Captain if you don’t mind, after dinner… me and Beecher would like to do some work in the shuttle. What kind of work I asked. Ah it’s some frequency stuff … we are working on she nodded looking away. Like cracking open the object on the planet type frequencies? Oh yeah that’s right she said with a big smile as she made eye contact, you already approved that, Thanks Captain she said cheerfully, as she turned away and joined Beecher working on food for them!

I turned to Mia and asked did I just get double talked? Mia laughed and said …maybe. Everyone I shouted, Attention please everyone! The galley quieted as I continued, it’s come to my attention that we need to re-establish an end of the day. So to clarify let’s make an hour before dinner the end of the day. I know we have been going at it pretty hard since leaving Earth, so enjoy your evenings. But I added, the mornings on the other hand, will have everyone ready and happy at eight and well rested I said looking around the galley, but focusing on Jo Ring. So as soon as everyone gets their food, we can see everything recorded from the planet, and I added, the shuttle recording again as everyone cheered!

As everyone arrived with food, I gave a small speech about the mission, and opening the champagne I poured all around as I said, a toast to the safe return of our first planetary exploration, and many more in the future! Now to the visual spoils of the new world!

Victoria had set up the crystal from her recorder and it began with the landing. We watched as she and Beecher panted along in the heavy gravity, as Jo Ring and the chief strolled along as if nothing had changed.

The image showed the object next, then the water’s edge with many close-ups of algae, molds… the water and a variety of seaweed. The next images made no immediate sense as screaming and shouting could be heard from both Victoria and Beecher as both ran, with Victoria’s recorder swinging on her neck, still recording.

Suddenly in the background, rapid fire from a machine gun could be heard, and then a loud noise and crashing sounds. Everyone was silent for a time because the recording seemed so lame until suddenly there was terror, screaming and crashing. I finally spoke up, ah … very nice Victoria, very, very nice so what’s next? Jo Ring gathered the crystal from Price and with her own she went back and forth between the two.

Both showed the same interest as they fixated on the object. The next images showed them walking to see the creature killed by the shuttle. Everyone gasped as they came over the small dune to see the giant crab like creatures tearing the fish apart, while others were struggling to pull it back into the water.

Well I said, glancing at Tor, wouldn’t want to be in a Scram in that water! Everyone laughed and agreed especially Tor. So, I forgot to ask about the water, is it fresh water? Both Beecher and Victoria made their report, adding that it is the purist water they have ever seen…except it has monsters living in it! They got another round of laughter from their joke as I asked, can we pump it? Sure Captain Victoria said, I think the two strongest in our group should pull the hose to the water though, as she smiled looking at Price and Jo Ring. A thought for another time I said with a chuckle, let’s see the shuttle images again, as Jo Ring looped Prices recordings and hers together.

Mer was the only one, not joining in the good cheer, as she excused herself from the table. I am not feeling the same, or is the word not feeling well Captain? But either way I believe I will retire early, good night to all. Everyone said their good nights to Mer, then went back to the fun of the moment. I whispered to Mia, for someone who enjoys perfect health, should we be worried that she’s not feeling well. I believe it’s something we need to be watchful of Mia whispered back. I really hated speaking behind Mers back, but if she was sick, we needed to know why. One by one I waved the crew closer, and when I was sure Mer was secure in her quarters, I mentioned my concerns to them. Any ideas I asked.

Mittsie spoke up immediately, I worried about this, and I have two areas of thought on it, one is she has been exposed to us. We have germs she has never encountered, and maybe her Nanites can’t protect her. And two, we need to reinsert the Nanites we removed.

You don’t believe the ones removed with her blood are responsible for her being sick do you Tor asked frowning. I believe the lack of them in her system is having an impact on her well being somehow! Mittsie looked around the galley as she continued; I stopped believing I had all the answers a long time ago, maybe the Nanites are more a collective than independent life forms doing repairs. Maybe removing them; left a gap in--- I don’t know her network? But I would suggest we place them back in Mer.

Let’s plan that for first thing in the morning I said. Well I continued a quick stroll through the bridge and we’ll be in our quarters, good night all.

Victoria had been silent for some time, but came quickly to our side as we were leaving. Captain should we be messing with that object on the planet? If they, whoever built it wanted us to look inside they would have placed access hatches or something.

That’s a good point Victoria, unless they wanted it to be airtight on a water planet. Maybe, it has been waiting for a life form intelligent enough to recognize it as unique and advanced enough to enter the correct combination to gain access.

Have you ever heard of liquid metal Victoria? She didn’t reply right away so I continued, scientists played with it for military application, in the early years of the 21st century.

I actually have Captain and I know where you’re going with this, we tried it and it failed because of the enormous amount of energy needed to maintain the rigid state. Well maybe another life form solved that problem. Besides Victoria, if you’re going to explore the universe, you can’t be afraid to explore the things in it. I had her attention so I continued I would imagine there are advanced civilizations long since gone in the universe, and all that is left of them, is what they left behind. It’s why we’re here, to learn and explore… and maybe pick up some cool technology along the way!

Victoria began to argue back until she saw my smile and realized I was teasing her about the technology. Good night Victoria I said as we left the galley. A quick check of the bridge and past the galley again, I motioned to Mia as we neared the landing bay hatch, let’s go see what our mad scientists are up to in the shuttle. Yeah Mia replied I bet that’ll help me sleep better tonight!

Crossing the bay we transitioned the air lock and entered the shuttle. Beecher and Jo Ring could be seen in the dark shuttle both leaning forward to view the four monitors, both with blankets around their shoulders to fight the chill in the air, as Beecher quietly tuned through frequencies.

Tor, Mittsie! Check out all the creature’s noises coming from the dark Jo Ring said, turning toward us. Oh sorry Captain I thought you…I waved her off as I sat down. Mia sat on my lap as Jo Ring dialed up the sound on ships speakers. A screeching sound made me jump, as other more terrifying sounds followed it. Toggling the remotes, Jo Ring was able to turn the probes and have all of them faced outward of the object. Then switching to low light imaging in the ultraviolet first, visible next and near infrared last, the creatures at last became visible.

As their forms passed through the dark, they became more and more bazaar and formidable. Screams of battles in the dark could be heard over ships speakers as Jo Ring played with the four monitors. Look she shouted; they seem to be forming a crude circle around the object! How frigging strange is that Captain Jo Ring asked laughing? That is one scary planet at night I replied, but what’s really puzzling me, is how, or why would a planets life forms evolve in such a way, on a planet with so little land mass? It would be more advantageous to stay a water creature wouldn’t you think.

Uh oh! Beecher said, what if the object is some sort of transformer, a species evolver, you know, like on a planetary scale, changing the sea creatures, you know…like for farming and we messed with it! Well Jo Ring snickered; it didn’t evolve you while we were on the planet, as she nudged Beecher sideways!

Maybe the water is just too full of sea life, Jo Ring stated and their all scratching for a piece of land.

So I asked as Jo Ring turned down the volume, what’s your plan if you break the code now, and you can’t close the door? I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I wouldn’t want to visit in the dark, or spend one night on that planet.

Yeah Jo Ring said laughing, you might be safe by hugging and loving on that object all night, but I’ll bet the sounds of the creatures would be deafening, all that screaming and growling! Mia shivered as she glared at me. I knew she was thinking back to the last thing she said to me before we entered the shuttle. Well guys, I said as Mia pinched my leg before getting off my lap. We are turning in, don’t stay up too late. I knew that was a mistake as soon as I said it, as Jo Ring replied Ok daddy!

As we transitioned the air lock, we meet Tor and Mittsie about to enter it. So how does the planet look at night Tor asked? It’s… memorable Mia replied with a smile. As they entered the air lock Mia looked at me and said what? No sense robbing them of the thrill! We both laughed as we moved through the ship. Mia started to laugh again as she said besides; as much gas as Mittsie is having lately, the sound of those creatures screeching will bring about an early evening for them all! Oh! I said laughing, so who is the mean one now?

I think we need to check on Mer before we go to sleep Mia stated. I agreed. As we approached her quarters I pressed the button as we waited for Mer, but she wasn’t answering so I pressed the button twice on the locator device Tor and Mittsie had constructed. Pita came on announcing the activation of the military Tactical Program. Pita I shouted override the lock at quarters 4-B.

The lock began to cycle as we pushed our way inside. We found Mer in bed but she was unresponsive as I checked her breathing. She’s still alive I said but we need to get her help fast! The corridor echoed with the sound of footsteps approaching, as Tor Mittsie Beecher and Jo Ring entered Mers quarters and began to shout and ask what was wrong, all at the same time!

I waved them silent as I instructed Mittsie and Tor to prepare the Nanites for injection. Tor and Mittsie raced to the landing bay, and as they entered Tor asked how much time do we need to thaw the blood Mittsie? I fear we can’t safely wait that long Tor. Behind those boxes, she said pointing, is a small laboratory centrifuge. We’ll do a quick thaw and reduce Mers blood to red blood cells and Nanites in the centrifuge. That should only take about ten minutes Mittsie said looking at Tor, I hope we’re not too late.

Mittsie scrapped the slide and placed it together with the syringe blood and placed it in the warmer, I only worry we may lose a lot of Nanites in the needle of the syringe. Why can’t we just push it with saline or something Tor asked? Well Tor that’s actually not a bad idea, the saline should rise to the surface as the heavier elements sink to the bottom of the syringe. I actually don’t worry about the blood surviving; we just need all the Nanites, let’s do it!

Mittsie managed to cut the time to seven minutes as they raced back to Mers quarters. A quick alcohol swab and the Nanites were back in Mer. We all stood back as if something was going to happen right away. I guess we’ll see in the morning I said as Victoria asked to stay with Mer. I hesitated for a second, only because I hadn’t known her for very long. Price rescued my decision as he whispered, I’ll stay too.

I think we all need to call it a night and turn in, it’s a busy time ahead. I felt as if my head had just hit the pillow, when the alarm went off. Man I thought as I dragged myself to the shower, I really need to make more time for sleep. Mia had a tough night so I quietly moved around our quarters. I walked past Mers quarters and went straight to the galley to find Victoria pouring coffee. Good morning Victoria, how are you? A bit tired, and before you ask Captain Mer seems to be doing better. I offered my empty cup as Victoria silently poured. Without another word between us, I headed to the bridge to find daylight had already arrived at our location. Pita, good morning! The response was the voice of the tactical program as I realized once again that we had forgotten to end the tactical alert. Pita I said matter of fact, end tactical alert status, standby Twilight and Night Watch. Yes Captain.

As I sipped my coffee I realized how much I missed Earths Global Network News in the morning. I started thinking about our little planet and its peril, but shook it off. We needed to get Starlight ready for battle, and the scout ships technology would give us an advantage. We needed to be ready to defend ourselves on Roc’Tamon and defend Jo Rings people when they arrived, then possibility join forces to battle the Lofrin one last time.

Jo Ring and Beecher arrived on the bridge, both sipping coffee and eating a cheese Danish. Hey, where did you get the Danish I asked, as Jo Ring stuffed almost half of the remaining Danish into her mouth? Secret stash, she replied as crumbs fell out of her mouth! Tiny’s little hand could be seen grabbing at the crumbs going by. Beecher chuckled, as he offered me one he had in a napkin. I took a large bite and asked about the Shillie. We fed them this morning Captain Beecher replied as Tiny peeked out from Jo Rings shirt pocket. It’s only seven o’clock Captain, if you don’t mind, Beecher and I would like to run frequencies before we start the day, is that alright? I had to smile at her unyielding determination. Sure, I said see you both in the landing bay in an hour.

Thanks Captain Jo Ring exclaimed happily, come on Beecher today’s the day, I can feel it! I thought as they hurried from the bridge, first a double talk and now a bribe. I smiled as I took another bite, life is good! I sat alone on the bridge for half an hour soaking up the silence. I knew the week to follow would test all of our resolve. I also knew that the subject of going into battle once more would test our relationships both with each other, and the rest of the crew. I felt such sadness for my unborn son, and a fear of him living his life with the threat of the Lofrin. I needed to protect him and make sure he had a fair chance at a normal life and now learning that the universe is filled with humans, or Senfee, made preserving that for him even more important. I looked at the time, fifteen minutes to eight. The long week will soon begin. Pita! Engage tactical alert. I made my way to the landing bay. As I entered everyone was already present, except Mer.

Morning Capt’n! Price exclaimed, as he continued, it would appear Mer will recover; she was sitting up in bed when we left to come here. That’s good news I said as I looked at Beecher and Jo Ring. I guess the look on my face asked the question as Jo Ring just shook her head. Alright everyone, we have one week to transform Starlight one last time. We need the alien weapons system installed; we need a functional transportation system on Starlight and another on the shuttle! Assemble your systems Tor, Beecher and after the Chief and Victoria get some sleep, the Chief will pick the location for all systems on Starlight and the shuttle.

Jo Ring, I know I promised you weapons on the shuttle, but we have nothing to spare. How about the twin fifty’s in the crow’s nest Captain, I’ll take those…her voice reaching for a yes reply. Jo Ring your welcome to them both, but realize they have not been fired since I had them installed, what Chief, eight years ago? Closer to ten Capt’n, chief replied.

Than I have your permission Captain? Yes you have it, but “careful” is the word of the day Jo Ring. Don’t be fooled by those primitive beasts, they may look ancient and antique but they are capable of punching a hole straight through Starlight.

Jo Ring smiled widely as she slightly elbowed Beecher, did ya hear that Beecher she challenged, we’re gonna be armed next time! Next time for what Beecher pleaded! Fishing of course she replied as she threw an arm around Beecher’s neck. Beecher had the look of surrender as he whispered, oh good!

We are all at each other’s disposal for the time it takes to get this done I stated. Commander will you see to Mers needs for awhile? Maybe take her to the galley. Mia nodded and began to make her way to the bay hatch. But before she turned the corner, she looked back and asked me if I would like one of the chief’s fresh Danish and another coffee. Answering yes I turned back to the crew and focusing on Jo Ring I smiled secret stash huh? Good one! Ok everyone let’s get busy. Price turned as if he was going to work too, as I reminded him about sleep. Oh yeah, can I make it three hours Capt’n, Victoria may need a bit more. Once you feel fit for duty, come on back Chief, I want you here. Thanks Capt’n Price replied as they locked through. Ok, who needs me I asked.

Mia announced her arrival at Mers quarters, as a slightly pale Mer opened the hatch. Hi Commander--- sorry, Mia she corrected. How are you feeling this morning? Better Mer replied, please come in while I dress. Mia entered Mers quarters and asked if she was hungry. I am very hungry Mia; will we be going to your galley? Yes we will Mia replied adding, the chief has made a very nice cheese Danish, if there are any left Mia said with a smile.

As they left Mers quarters Mia asked once again. Are you sure you’re feeling all right Mer? We were a bit worried about you last night. Yes I feel better, but last night was a bit unsettling for me as well, is that what being sick feels like?

Mia smiled at Mers question… without feeling how Mer felt, she would be guessing in her reply. Smiling Mia thought about Sterling’s explanation of our Senfee senses. Maybe we are creatures of sensation, she thought as she replied, I have found different degrees of being sick Mer, and each, a memory better left behind. I agree Mer replied with a weak smile.

I think I just need to eat something to feel strong again. Well Mer, our galley has tastes and aromas to tickle the senses for fifty years, and it will be just you and me for lunch, the rest of the crew are busy in their areas of expertise. Oh Mer replied, how exciting, we finally have time to sit and talk!

Beecher and Jo Ring entered the alien ship and began the final removal of its weapons. Mittsie sat at ships navigation, trying to find a way into the secret, of sub space viewing. Mer was right about one thing Mittsie thought, the ship knows how! Tor crawled around in the bulkhead access tubes attempting to trace a signal Mittsie had introduced into the system. Wow Beecher, these weapons are ready to fall out of this ship Jo Ring said smiling. Well Beecher replied I didn’t want to do all the work today he chuckled. When we finish here Beecher, I want to get the twin fifty’s for the shuttle. I wonder how many rounds we have for them, as Beecher replied plenty! I checked it out once, and there are over ninety thousand rounds in storage, plus the five thousand rounds for each gun in the nest. Oh that’s not very many, I was hoping for five times that! But, ok we’ll work with that. Hell, Beecher she said smiling it could take five hundred rounds to kill one fish!

Mittsie! Tor shouted from deep inside a bulkhead, shut off the signal, than turn it on and off a few times. You got it Mittsie shouted back as Tor shouted I found it, I found the device that will allow us to see into sub space! Can you disconnect it Tor? Already done, but the question is can we cipher it and make it work for us?

As the crew worked on their projects I chose to remove the twin fifty’s for Jo Ring to install on the shuttle. By late afternoon the landing bay was beginning to become a tangle of devices, fiber cable and wire, with the on deck assembly of both the weapons systems and transporter devices.

Price had spent the afternoon working through schematics for the shuttle with Jo Ring as she pointed to the shuttles blueprint on the monitor. What about here chief she asked? Price did a closer inspection to where her pointer indicated, and offered, right here is a little bit better. Why there Chief? Well he began; each weapon presently only holds five thousand rounds. Now in a battle you could burn through that in ten minutes. If we mount them here, just under and slightly forward of the shuttle hull, we can adapt the feeding system and mount larger canisters holding maybe, twenty thousand rounds each. Damn Chief, Jo Ring shouted as she slapped him on the back, you the man!

As the hours past we were all pleasantly surprised when Mia and Mer pushed a cart loaded with food and drinks into the bay. We thought you might be hungry by now, and I knew you wouldn’t take the time to eat in the galley, so we thought, she said looking at Mer, to bring the meal to you!

Everyone grabbed a sandwich and a drink and sat around the bay laughing and talking, as Tor explained their discovery. We have located the device used to see into sub space Captain. If we are correct, it should also be incorporated into a three dimensional projection on their bridge that Mittsie discovered, which possibly, shows our present location in relation to the Lofrin universe. We may also see their past conquests and future planets. Well I asked, what’s the bad news? That actually has two parts Mittsie jumped in. The first is… can we hope to cipher the language software in their navigational system. And, second, just because we know where we are in relation to that projection, it may not allow us to locate one star system for reference. Why not I asked? As Tor responded, it would be like being led blindfolded ten miles into the forest, removing the blindfold and being given a compass to find your way out.

We need a translation Tor stated. After this fine meal, thanks by the way Commander--- Mer. We, Tor said looking at Mittsie, have prepared a test of that system, you’re all invited. Everyone eagerly accepted the offer.

What will we see I thought, as I finished my sandwich? And I wondered; after knowing that information, would we feel better or worse for it. The word ‘Capt’n’ shook me from my thoughts as Price began his report. We have chosen the location for the shuttles transporter and weapons systems he added looking at Jo Ring. As you may recall Capt’n I previously indicated the best location for Starlight’s crystal. It’s a fairly large storage compartment, lower deck, amid ship with a good air seal hatch that we can control from outside the compartment.

We just need to enter the compartment, lock it down from the outside, and while in enviro’s, cut a small hole to vent the atmosphere in the compartment. Then cut the hole for the crystal and secure it with the Scrams, weld it in place with our compound, open the hatch and we are done. The enviro’s hold enough air for two hours, but we will have pony tanks standing by just in case.

I also had another thought about it Capt’n we might want to place an emergency vent system for that compartment while we have O atmosphere! Good idea I said, that way we always control the room. Exactly Capt’n and with a few well placed camera’s and motion sensors we won’t be surprised.

Beecher! Mr. Grimes…how goes the assembly of the scout ships weapons system into Starlight? Almost completed Captain but I will need to link the weapons with the crystal and I thought to run all optics behind the transporter, so I would like access to the room before we begin that task. You will have it Mr. Grimes, and the weapons themselves Beecher, have you and the Chief picked those locations as well? We have Captain. We can install the weapons in space with enviro’s and a Hess, while the Scrams are inserting the crystal. And the servos that control the weapons, will they fit inside the bulkhead I asked. They will captain.

The crew finished the meal and followed Tor and Mittsie onto the bridge of the alien ship. Mittsie sat at the navigation console and after a few attempts, she initiated the three dimensional image of the Lofrin universe.

Everyone gasped as the size of the projection continued to expand and expand until it filled the entire bridge. Slowly a course through space began to connect planets and star systems. My God! Mittsie whispered her voice breaking, as we witnessed thousands of planets connecting. Mer and Victoria began to cry. We stared without speaking at the mind numbing realization before our eyes; as we bear witness to the Lofrin conquest of thousands of worlds. Transfixed in silence, we watched as the projection began to expand even further. Mittsie adjusted the image as it changed to show the Lofrin armada’s present location in the universe. Shit, Jo Ring said as twenty mother ships superimposed on the projection! Look, Tor shouted, as the image of two ships turned red. I’ll bet that’s our work he added proudly, and a reference! But the projection hadn’t stopped counting the Lofrin losses as more ships along their flight path began to turn red. Mittsie adjusted the projection once again, there she shouted, I think that’s our galaxy! Yeah Jo Ring responded, but to find Earth would be like finding a specific needle in a stack of needles. True I said dryly but it’s a start. I knew without the language translation of their navigational software, we still couldn’t set a course anywhere. Captain, look at this Tor shouted! Unless I’m mistaken, the first two that turned red, are from our galaxy! If you look here you’ll see that the older red ones along this track already show the Lofrin fleet corrected their course to compensate. Now, if you look here Captain, Tor said pointing, these next two ships have just begun to change course. I hope I’m wrong Captain, but it looks like they may be shifting their fleet to compensate for these two loses with two more ships on course to Earth.

Jo Ring hadn’t stood still the whole time on the bridge, as she circled the Lofrin projection. Twice she stopped and looked intently at the image. She began to get that look she gets, just before she gets “the look” that everyone knew, especially Beecher.

What is it Jo Ring Beecher asked as he moved directly across the projection to her side? As the projection stabilized from Beecher’s encounter with it, Jo Ring moved him to the first place of her interest. Look Beecher she said, as she pointed alone a straight line. Here, she said as she pulled him to the second location, and here! What, Beecher questioned what is it? What is it? Don’t you see it? Look Beecher she shouted, as she moved behind him, grabbing his head in her hands as she physically aligned his view! Look straight out there, she said firmly holding his head. Don’t you see it? I want to see--- something Beecher said while gritting his teeth, maybe if you released your grip on my head just a little, my vision will return! Sorry Beecher!

Jo Ring looked at me and said come here Captain, I want to show you! No that’s ok I said just tell me what you see there, I said pointing. Jo Ring insisted as she released Beecher and began to wave me over, I shook my head quickly from side to side as the crew started laughing. Mer had silently moved to Jo Rings location and quietly asked will you show me? Happy too Mer Jo Ring replied glaring as she looked around the bridge, look here she said pointing. I see a lot of ships in a straight line, but that is all, is there more?

Yes! Jo Ring shouted as she moved back to her first location. Pointing along a projection of ships she shouted the two Lofrin mother ships we destroyed are the first ships in one side of this massive V formation.

That formation spans hundreds of galaxies, and she continued, this V formation is reversed, unlike our formations with a ship leading the V. She walked to a location between the two as again she tried to show Beecher, holding out her arms she shouted, in the Lofrin formation the two sides of the V are in advance, not the middle. Oh Damn Mittsie mumbled, the next two ships changing course will have enough time to intercept Earth, and if they continue to open the distance between ships to compensate for their losses Mer, they will eventually, enter your star system.

Mer sat transfixed as she stared at the Lofrin universe and began to cry, dare we even hope to stop them? They are so many! Yeah that’s true Jo Ring stated and there big too! But sometimes it takes a little mouse to enter unnoticed. Besides Price bragged, you can bet those two mother ships aren’t breaking any speed records to get to a system that destroyed two ships filled with their ugly cousin’s. Hell Capt’n Price continued, with their mentality, they may look at those loses as more opportunities for the rest of them, and just move on to easier targets. I looked at Jo Ring as she began to get that look again. She caught my gaze as she looked back at the Lofrin universe, Captain, what I don’t understand is why the scout ships that escaped from the sun, chose to advance forward, instead of back to the nearest ship in the V formation. There is nothing there for them, unless that was their first jump away to achieve distance, than back to the next ship. If they, any of the hundred that got away, find their way back to another ship, they know about us. And they know we are just one small ship with a weapon capable of destroying them. Jo Ring looked down for a few seconds then she continued, they will do one of two things, mark us as bad asses, and avoid us entirely or send everything to destroy us.

Jo Rings right Captain Mittsie stated, but more than likely they will attack Earth in numbers. If we can destroy two, then they may be concerned that their fleet is in danger, their very existence perhaps. I believe Mittsie continued they are more a creature working off an instinctive drive, then one of intellect. Their pack mentality can’t take the chance we might seek them out. I believe we will see other ships altering their course over the weeks to come.

Tor had left the bridge and disappeared into the scout ship, when he returned he told Mittsie to try again. As Mittsie adjusted the controls, Tor explained I have reinstalled the device used to see into sub space; perhaps it will show us something, as it reboots back into the navigational software. We tried it while it was still on line without success.

Suddenly the projection changed as a new image appeared. The language was unreadable but the projection showed a scout ship facing a narrow flattened field of planets, as distant galaxy’s appeared. Pressing one in a circle of controls, the system adjusted to a new set of planets and galaxy’s. Tor it worked Mittsie shouted! Yeah he replied but we still can’t read it. Do we need too Mittsie asked, as she pressed another button. Suddenly the scout ships projection moved forward into the three dimensional universe. Mittsie removed her finger and the scout ship stopped advancing. A single galaxy appeared, as a red dot marked a location of what could only be a planet.

Is that what I think it is Beecher asked? I believe so I replied, they must be inhabited worlds. But how do they know that Mia asked? I can’t believe it’s possible to see that far into sub space the chief stated, while shaking his head. Tor Mittsie, you two continue to work on this while we get back to our own projects. Our day ends in three hours everyone. Captain, Victoria asked do you mind if I check on our algae systems, I feel a bit useless here. Please do Victoria; in fact I wanted to talk to you about becoming ships biochemist and botanist if you’re interested. I wanted to make the offer more official, but time is against us. There is no need to give me an answer now, but think about it.

I… will, I will be honored to take that responsibility Captain! Please consider taking Mer with you today, she expressed an interest in learning more about your systems. Thank you Captain Victoria said as she asked Mer if she would like to help. I would like that very much, as soon as the commander and I return the food cart to the galley. I can handle that Mer Mia stated. Not in your condition Mer insisted! Then I’ll see you, when you return Mer. Our days were once again filled with work, eating and sleeping. Jo Ring and Beecher always woke early and worked frequencies in the shuttle, but every morning at eight they were there for the call. I would glance at her and she would shake her head.

Today was the day for the shuttle to be vacuumed so the crystal and weapons could be installed. Starlight’s crystal and transporter had proved to be on line, but untested at the end of the previous day, and the alien weapons exterior components still required installation.

The delay was one working day in space, to remove weapons and patch the holes in the alien ship, then install weapons on Starlight. We had been hard at it for four days, and could begin testing the transporter, for ship to ship in the morning.

I sat with the crew as we talked, teased and laughed. Guys I said holding up a glass of wine just poured to the crew. We are good, we are early and starting tomorrow morning, we will start to have some fun!

I knew everyone was tired and so we didn’t prepare a lavish meal to celebrate. Mer and Victoria had become very close and had cooked up a couple of side dishes. Chief had prepared some type of goulash and some rehydrated vegetables. As I moved through the line and closer to Mer, Victoria and their concoction, I could see Tor and Mittsie pass it up, as I glanced quickly at the choices. I should not have done it, but I asked what is it? Your pallet will tell you it is chicken Mer said with a big grin, and that one? Well that one is steak… tasting. I’ll take one of each I said being brave. I could hear Jo Ring snicker behind me as she moved past them with a nod and a smile. Beecher took a steak one. Mia and I sat facing each other, as Jo ring sat next to me, and Beecher next to Mia. So Captain Jo Ring asked, now that everything is done, will we be leaving soon?

I could sense the wishing for more time in her voice, as I explained, we need time to test our systems and weapons, we need to investigate further into the navigational system and sub space viewing that has been installed on our bridge. Plus if it’s feasible I would like to take on some of that water from the planet. So we have some time, what’s on your mind Jo Ring?

Beecher’s going to be involved with weapons testing tomorrow and well, I wanted to run frequencies in the shuttle, is that Ok?

Sure go ahead I replied as I absentmindedly took a bite of the algae chicken. Damn! I shouted I just had a bite of chicken! What! Jo Ring shouted as she stabbed her fork at my choices. Cleverly blocking her fork, I said pointing, there are plenty over there! Beecher took another bite of his steak choice, but kept silent as he chewed and smiled. Everyone jumped up to get some, except Mittsie.

Mer and Victoria stood proudly beaming, as they dished out their contribution to the meal. Ok ladies I asked, how did you do that? Well Victoria began, you do know the algae protein processor can mimic almost any taste you program into it didn’t you? It’s in the manual, she continued in a higher tone! Did we get a manual with that I asked looking around the galley. Everyone kind of mumbled something as Mittsie said in low tones that’s why they always tasted like… Mer jumped in and expertly changed the subject. Those are some amazing bio-machines doing unbelievable things Captain!

Victoria has shown me so much, I am so grateful and thankful for this opportunity, to learn and share with all of you.

I wondered about the sharing part, and remembered Mittsie’s thoughts about it. “Fear also makes people take for themselves, no matter what it costs the unwilling giver”. People are always willing to do the right thing when it serves their purpose, I thought. But if we were going to be drawn into battle this time, we were going to be prepared and at our strongest. Looking at Mer I said, perhaps before we do part ways Mer, Victoria may be convinced to collect samples of algae from our units for your scientists.

Neither Mer, nor Victoria responded to my suggestion, as I realized a deal had already been struck between them. Victoria would need a lesson in ships protocol I thought.

Mia and I excused ourselves and headed toward the bridge to check on ships systems. As we entered the bridge we discovered Tor and Mittsie had managed to slip away minutes before us, and had already engaged the three dimensional projection of the Lofrin universe. They were fine tuning the three image projectors as we walked in.

Sorry Captain Tor began; we wanted to finish our final alignment of the image before testing in the morning. It’s all right you two, we are just passing through I said as we turned and left the bridge.

I’ll bet the shuttle is burning some late night protons Mia said as we walked past the hatchway to the landing bay. A good night sleep was in order and short of an emergency we were going to shower and to bed. As we lay in bed Mia asked. Sterling, what are we going to do about these creatures? The image of their ships superimposed across millions of miles of space made me think hard before answering. I believe, I began, the sadist legacy we could leave our son would be to allow the Lofrin agenda to continue, or allow it free reign in the universe, and I can’t have that I stated! We may end up back in the battle Mia and I hope we can do it with allies. But it needs to be done. I’m sorry sweetness I continued; I promised you a better life out here. It doesn’t need to be said Sterling Mia stated cuddling closer, no matter what, we’ll face it together we always do. I know the eight of us were brought together for some purpose, and that destiny holds our future. One she continued, as she rubbed her belly, free of the Lofrin.

As we drifted off to sleep I thought back to my days of delivering algae and how bored I had become back then, and now all I wanted was safe and peaceful.

The alarm jarred me awake, and I was happy for it. We had been engaged in battle with the Lofrin in my dreams! I shook it off as I reminded myself that today was the first day of Starlight’s total transformation, and … I thought smiling, “transporting” of a different nature, would be the first order of business today. I dressed quietly and made my way to the galley. As I moved through the corridor I thought, all I ever wanted for us was to live in peace, but how can we do that when there are creatures like the Lofrin?

We all start out as animals first I thought, but these bastards choose to lead with that, and that’s what makes them deadly to all living things, their just a virus in a larger life form. I entered the galley to find the chief quietly enjoying a cup of coffee. Without a word spoken between us, I poured my coffee and sat down across from him.

We both quietly sipped our coffee until waiting was full and I asked. “Price what’s on your mind?” I was just thinking back to when we began this thing, and this morning, I find myself experiencing a sort of déjà vu.

How so Chief? I remember a discussion about us getting bloody in our encounter with the Lofrin. This morning I experienced a feeling that our encounter with the Lofrin isn’t over, and that it’s about to get more personal. In fact we are going to learn more than we want to know I fear. Price took a sip of his coffee and looking into a distant place in his mind he continued, we’ll be going into battle soon Captain, I feel it in my bones, but I also sense an immense feeling of pain and joy because of it, and I know it sounds crazy, but the destiny of the universe is about to change! I looked at the chief but remained silent, as he continued, I only wonder if we will have help in changing that destiny? We may be the most powerful ship in this galaxy. But the Lofrin are on to us now, if they are redirecting to Earth, we will need more reapers and a lot faster delivery system. It’s too bad that the thing that scares us the most may be our only salvation in defeating them. I think about the Lofrin and the carnage they have inflicted on thousands of worlds and in all of that destruction and loss, no species has been able to defeat them. In the scheme of things, past and present, and the vastness of their armada, how long can we hope to fight on?

I looked at the chief and replied, unless we have allies, we will be forced to flee. I continued, what has been gnawing at me is, if Jo Rings people’s ship is so powerful why haven’t they destroyed the Lofrin? That’s the million dollar question the chief said smiling. What’s a dollar chief I asked? The chief chuckled as he explained physical money.

I thought for a time as we both said nothing until finally I spoke, you know chief out there somewhere in the universe is an advanced race, beyond the power of the Lofrin. If need be, we will search for them. I only know that the Lofrin can’t be allowed to continue. I agree the chief replied as he refilled our coffees.

I smiled at the chief as Jo Ring and Beecher could be heard moving through the corridor. It’s early Beecher and I only want a coffee for now, unless you’re willing to make breakfast and bring it to the shuttle! Morning Captain ---Chief Jo Ring said, nodding in our direction. She poured a large coffee and looking at Beecher she poured one for him too.

I think I’ll make us some food Beecher said reluctantly; I’ll see you in the shuttle in a few. Ok Jo Ring said turning and waving with both cups of coffee, and she was gone.

We watched as Beecher silently prepared food for them both, as he was ready to leave he quietly said, it’s just as easy to cook for four as two, as he brought two plates of a very nice breakfast to the table, Besides he said, if I don’t make her eat now, she will sit alone in that shuttle all day.

We finished the food, and as we were working on our third coffee Tor and Mittsie entered the galley. Good Captain Mittsie shouted you’re up early! I smiled at Price because it was a rare day when another crewman rose before me, except for Price.

So are you two ready to test the transporters I asked? Tor answered, we are captain, but we thought to start small, we have attached one of the extra alert devices to a small acrylic sphere containing some bio-matter, mostly plant life. But we also included some of that jelly from the spy probe. We should be able to tell if there is structural damage to the DNA. Unfortunately we don’t have anything alive to work with Tor added smiling.

And you did alter the operating frequency’s right guys I asked? I wouldn’t want the Lofrin to come knocking because they register a signal. We did, they chimed in together! We also routed transporter controls to the life science station on the bridge. We’ll shoot the bio- sphere out with the Sloon launcher and at fifty miles out, we will attempt to grab it and bring it back in. Well I said, eat and when you’re ready, meet me on the bridge.

Price sat with them as I headed out of the galley. Looking around the science station I observed the new controls. Pita report I stated! All systems functioning normally Captain. Tor and Mittsie entered the bridge and stated they were ready to dispatch the test sphere. Proceed I stated. Tor moved to the launcher and fired the sphere. On the main viewer it could be seen slowly spiraling away from Starlight.

Mittsie counted off the spheres distance, as she sat at the science station. Pita Mittsie stated, initialize tracking sequence and display it on viewer along with the distance from Starlight. The display showed a bulls eye image on the sphere as the counter showed thirty miles, thirty five, forty, forty five, fifty. Initiating transporter signal now Mittsie shouted! A load on our systems could be felt as the distance display began to blink, and then suddenly returned to zeros. Tor leaned over Mittsie’s shoulder as she switched the monitor’s image from the main viewer to the transporter room. We have it Captain they both shouted excitedly, it worked! Now we need to examine our bio-matter to see if it survived. Tor and Mittsie hurried off to the transport room to reclaim their prize, but before they cleared the bridge I shouted. By the way, where’s the chief?

He was still sitting in the galley when we came here Tor shouted over his shoulder. Hum not like Price I thought, he’s usually right in the middle of this kind of thing.

As I sat alone once again on the bridge, I thought about how much I disliked attempting to decipher the human emotional paradox. Always changing and morphing the world around us. I liked direct.

Beecher was the next to enter the bridge as he asked if I was ready for his test of the weapons.

Because the crystal powered both the weapons and transporter, I keyed ships communications to locate Tor and Mittsie. They both came back excited and shouting the transport was a success! Great news, I replied where are you two now? In our lab in the landing bay, why Captain Tor asked? We are about to test weapons and I didn’t want you two near the crystal when we did that, we can’t be sure how our frequency adjustment will affect the weapons, or the crystal I added Captain out!

I turned to Beecher and said you have weapons! He had placed the new controls at ships weapons console which would be Tor’s station. Beecher began to explain as he worked the controls, I loaded an old algae canister into our launcher, and I’m sending it into space, now! We watched on the view screen as the canister moved straight and true and away from the ship. I want to try a few shots first Captain, to fine tune it into our system. He continued, with this configuration he said pointing we can choose which system to use, our own weapons or the aliens. He continued, they both use the same targeting system so we only need one set of controls. I like it I said, nothing we need to learn, simple and clean, now we need to see if it works! Beecher toggled the switch to the alien ships energy weapon, than taking the controls he counted in three two, one. Beecher fired the weapon as two brilliant beams flashed for two seconds, and a slight vibration could be felt throughout the ship. Sorry Captain Beecher apologized; I had it set at full intensity, dialing it down now.

Beecher fired again, as the beam became less brilliant but longer in duration. Ready to target the canister Captain Beecher stated as he made final adjustments. The targeting display steadied on the viewing screen but the object was already too far away to be seen with normal viewing. Pita Beecher stated, magnify image factor of twenty--- now thirty. Suddenly the canister came into focus, firing now! Under magnification we couldn’t witness the twin beams of energy leaving Starlight, only the explosion as they contacted the canister. The brightness on main viewer made me instinctively cover my eyes, as the beam deconstructed the algae canister into dust.

Damn! I shouted looking at Beecher who was proudly smiling ear to ear. What did you have the weapons intensity set for Beecher? One third he replied. Damn! I stated again, that weapons lethal the first time fired, not like our hail of bullets, I added grinning. Beecher laughed as he added that beam destroys immediately, but our bullets have a sobering effect on the enemy, giving them time to think about surrender, as we punch holes in their ships and crew. We are like a bad ass manmade meteor shower Beecher stated laughing! Yeah I said with a smile, there is that!

I did it Captain! Jo Rings voice shouted over communications, I opened the access! What! I shouted are you serious? Yes, and I was able to close it too!

Too bad its four hours till nightfall on the planet I said sternly. Yeah too bad Jo Ring replied with obvious disappointment. You will have all day tomorrow I said our tests are completed. In two days we leave for Roc’Tamon. Two days Captain, Jo Ring shouted as she pleaded that only gives me a day to learn its secrets! Actually I replied it only gives you eight hours, that’s the length of daylight hours on that planet.

Jo Ring out, she shouted back! I understood her disappointment, but our journey to this moment in time, had led us to a more important destiny. We were seven days away from learning everything we needed to know, and I wasn’t going to miss it.

Lunch was a quiet meal as Jo Ring and Beecher took theirs to the shuttle. The Chief and Victoria were a no show, so it ended up being Tor Mittsie Mer, Mia and me.

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