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The Bridge

Book III: The Starhell Mutiny

by euhal allen

Table of Contents
Chapter 6, part 2 appears
in this issue.

Chapter 6: Twisting the Obvious

part 3 of 3

* * *

Jo’Eya stood again before the Family Heads in the great house of da Laich. This time it was at her request that they met with her. Now they waited patiently for her to speak.

“Honored heads, our beliefs tell us that ‘Success is the product of perseverance; perseverance is the product of a trained mind.’ That success was the goal that my grandfather, Jonkil da Laich, pursued so tirelessly. That success has been the goal of the da Laich Family, of the Qwell’Na, for generations untold.

“We now approach that success, but it is in danger. The recall of our people from all over the galaxy and their return to our home world society, I realize, has recently demanded most of your time. That is as it should be. Our people must first be protected.

“Still, if we are to have our success in the mission that our people have worked on for so long, we must not allow ourselves to ignore the happenings in that civilization we so dutifully served.

“At this time there is a growing dissatisfaction in most of the sectors under the rule of the Galactic Council. Their mistakes in overestimating the Starhell situation, along with the Cernon Sector’s fraudulent actions, which added to their humiliation, has great numbers of the citizens of the Council’s civilization wondering if there is a need for the continuation of that government.”

The First Head, interrupting Jo’Eya, said, “These things, little one, we are aware of. We knew that, should we ever have to issue the Recall, there would be interruptions like this, and we have contingencies for them.”

“This I knew, Family Heads,” Jo’Eya replied. “But were you aware that the new Grand Minister is the very man that my grandfather counseled Katia Shapirov to put into a position that would never have real power, Kran Xhelsher? Were you aware that Grand Minister Xhelsher and Me’Avi Shapirov have formed an alliance of sorts? Their working together makes each of them ten times more dangerous.

“Do you realize what could happen to our mission if the Galactic Council ever realizes who we actually are? If those two put the facts they already have together correctly, they might just figure that out.

“Were you aware that the Galactic Fleet is even now on its way to Qwell to force our people back into service? Have you factored in what will happen when that Fleet actually gets to Qwell and sees what is there?”

The silence from the Family Heads was stunning. Finally the First Head answered, “You have done well to call us together. In our concern for our people we have been lax in our duties to our goals. Once again it is proven that ‘Official garments are not the repository of wisdom.’ We have allowed our offices to overshadow our duties to the future.

“We will study this matter most carefully and see what it is possible for us to do in finding answers to the problems you have brought to us.

“You, Jo’Eya, must now offer more help to those on Starhell. They are a key to the solutions of these problems. Go there and offer help on a more official level. You will reveal yourself to the Oversight Committee. What help you offer must be carefully weighed and carefully given, but as you have proven yourself the True Granddaughter of Jonkil da Laich, we will leave the choosing and weighing and giving to your discretion.”

* * *

The La Scena broke out of hyperspace in almost the correct position for the final leg of its journey home. On board, the Captain ordered the communications officer to transmit their ID, position and request for a docking berth at the spaceport.

The answer that came back was a shock to everyone on board. “This is Council Spaceport Control. Please indicate the emergency you are experiencing and the repairs that you need. We will have our repair facilities contacted and ready to receive the La Scena upon arrival.”

The Captain, looking at the message, responded with, “What kind of nonsense is this? Reply to them that there is no emergency and we are in fine repair, needing only a few supplies to complete our inventory. Tell them we are arriving as per orders received and send them a copy of those orders.”

Within minutes the La Scena received orders for landing at the BGS section of the spaceport, berth seventy-five. No one was to leave the ship until BGS agents had been aboard and cleared them. The ship’s log and all records of their expedition were to be available immediately upon BGS the agent’s arrival. Those records of the immediate past year were to be ready first.

A short time later, the La Scena found itself under tight security and awaiting BGS personnel. The first to board, much to the relief of the Captain and his wife, was Me’Avi Shapirov. The relief did not last.

* * *

Grand Minister Xhelsher brought the Council to order. Then, allowing a short time for the silence to become significant, he spoke. “Fellow Ministers, we have before us a request from the planets in the Cernon Sector to base a portion of the Fleet there and to continue using the bases set up in that Sector.

“Considering that there were actual sites in that Sector belonging to the errant citizens of Starhell, we concur with that request and have ordered the Tenth Fleet to be based on those planets permanently.

“Also, in that deployment, each planet will receive a complement of one quarter, or seven divisions, of the troops assigned to that fleet. They will be housed on the bases already in existence, or, if necessary, new bases for the troops will be built near the military space ports occupied by the vessels of the Tenth Fleet.

“The new information on Starhell contains a possible location. One of our exploration ships passed a system that almost matches the description of the system containing the rebel planet. That location is in the Tzahn sector on the other side of the galaxy.

“Considering the insignificant population there and the distance from Council territory, we are postponing any missions there for the time being. They are only a small problem in a host of much larger ones. They will still be there in a year or two and we, though observing them closely, will give our greater concerns the attention they need.

“I must admit before you that the Minister from New Earth has been doing a surprisingly magnificent job in recreating the Bureau of Galactic Security. Most of the agents and analysts have, and are successfully using, training from the Chronicler’s office. The reports that I have been receiving from them are of the highest quality.

“Our greatest problem is the damage we have felt and still feel from the defection of the millions of Qwell’Na from their positions of trust in Council government. The Twelfth Fleet is on its way to Qwell now and will arrive there in the next two weeks. We should have information to share with this Council by messenger drone within two and a half weeks after that. We will share that information as soon as we receive it.

“Research grants have been issued to several scientific institutions for the construction of Sub-Quantum Carrier Beam technology. I am told by experts that this technology should be available to us within a year.

“Put all this together and we are looking at a year or so of stiff problems to deal with and then, when all this mess is over, it will be our pleasure to, again, oversee the continued advancement of Council civilization.”

* * *

Katia stood before the Starhell Oversight Committee and made the announcement that shocked them all. “Recently we made a great advancement in our Door technology, and we mistakenly gave credit for that advancement to Cyr and his computational power.

“I say mistakenly, because that information did not come from Cyr. It came from another source, who asked to remain unknown. That request for anonymity has been withdrawn and I would like to introduce you to the person who supplied us with the advanced Door technology.”

A Door opened in the committee room and a young Qwell’Na girl walked out. She was smiling.

“Many of you knew my good friend, Jonkil. Some of you more than knew him, for he was your friend also. This young lady is Jo’Eya, Jonkil’s granddaughter. She has some things to say to you.”

“You, by now, know that my people, the Qwell’Na, have left the services of the Galactic Council. What you do not know is that this action, named the Recall by my people, was a reaction to certain recent events. That reaction was planned centuries ago by the heads of our Families.

“We have, over the centuries, been seeking a race that could be used for a mission of greatest importance to the peace and stability of the galaxy. In your people, we think we have found it.

“For that reason I have been commissioned by my people to offer you help in your quest to save your race from the extermination decided upon by the Galactic Council. We have, in issuing the Recall, removed the blinders from the Council as to our actions over many generations, and have staked the mission and goals of our own people on your success.

“To show you our sincerity we are offering you another advancement on Door technology, a technology we have had since almost the beginning of our people. With this advancement you will be able to use the Carrier Beam to bypass the englobement of Earth’s system. That means, I am sure you know, that if the Galactic Council sends a fleet here you will all be able to escape back to Earth, if necessary.”

Olga Shapirov, standing, asked, “If you have such technology then you must also have other advanced technology. Technology that could defeat any fleet that the Galactic Council could send here. Give us that knowledge and we will not have to run back to Earth if they come.”

“From the beginning of my people we have had a wisdom called the Qwom-Sor. In that wisdom is a saying that speaks of such weapons. It says: 'Even the sharpest sword gains beauty when sheathed.' In all the history of our people we have never unsheathed our swords; and we have always been able to admire their beauty.

If swords must be unsheathed, we will have failed, and I will not see that happen.”

* * *

Commander Drayin of the Twelfth Fleet paced the bridge of his command ship, Seliyn, waiting impatiently for the breakout from hyperspace in the Qwell system. “How long now, lieutenant?”

“About a minute and a half, Sir. It would be safer, Sir, if you were in your command chair. We don’t know what the reception might be when we come out.”

“Very well, lieutenant,” Drayin said, as he sat in his chair and locked the safety straps in place. “Shields up and weapons online and charged.”

“Aye, aye, Sir. Shields are up and weapons are ready.”

Shortly after the ship, accompanied by the rest of the fleet, left hyperspace and appeared in system and heading at attack speed toward Qwell.

“Sir, there’s something wrong. There are no vessels in system but ours, and the scanners show no life forms in the orbiting spaceport.”

“What? That can’t be. What kind of trick are they playing here? What do long range sensors tell us?”

“Long range sensors pick up animal life but no recognizable patterns for Qwell’Na or any other known Council race.”

“Have the troop carriers attain close orbit and send down landing parties,” ordered Fleet Commander Drayin. “Notify all small war craft to take protective positions near the troopships and send orders to the capital ships to watch their backs. I don’t know what they are pulling, but I am not going to let them catch me in a corner.”

The Fleet reshuffled itself into planetary siege formation with the main battle cruisers positioning themselves for attack from any quadrant. Troopships disgorged shuttle after shuttle down to the surface. Soon unbelievable but video-confirmed reports were coming back to the command ship.

“Sir, the troops report that the buildings down there are just shells. They have no useable interiors in them and there is no indication that there ever were such interiors in them. The reports are the same from every part of the planet. The Qwell’Na are not only not here, they never have been.”

Fleet Commander Drayin, his victory stolen from him, sat stunned in his command chair. Finally he ordered that messenger drones be prepared immediately and the information be sent to the Galactic Council at highest possible speed. Then, after ordering a small garrison to be left at Qwell, he commanded the remainder of the Twelfth Fleet to head back to Fleet Headquarters to await future orders.

* * *

Use of the Qwell’Na technologies soon had the great Doors of Starhell opening to visions of the blue skies of Earth. Care had been taken not to contact any territory that was still under the control of gangs and thugs, although with the frightening and unexplained disappearance of the stars, many of those had become groups of mumbling castoffs hiding in the ruins that dotted the landscape of most of the planet.

Still, there were some areas that still had some of the cohesion that leadership, good or bad, could bring. Those groups, the good ones anyway, could be contacted later if their skills and accomplishments were needed by the resurgent mankind now of Starhell.

But, with vast tracts of land now uninhabited by any cohesive group, fields again could be planted and shelters could be built. Places where storage barns and domestic buildings could be built and protected were sought. Extra hands that had plagued Starhell with nothing to do became useful in constructing these sanctuaries should it become absolutely necessary that the population escape from Starhell.

Many joked about the irony of it all. They had escaped the englobement of Earth and found safety and a future on Starhell. Now, with the possibility of Starhell receiving the wrath of the Galactic Council’s fleets, they were building safe havens on the very planet that they had escaped from in the first place. They would be safer on Earth since, with the englobement, the Galactic Council would have no way to monitor their progress towards rebuilding civilization on their home.

Besides the building of the safe havens, a special group of construction workers were assigned, above the objections of their ‘virtual’ Katia Shapirov, to build a memorial on a hillside, near a cemetery, overlooking a bay on what used to be called the Oregon Coast. Here the remains of Seiji the Martyr and Jonkil and Katia Shapirov had found their last rest and here they would be honored.

* * *

The messenger drones, a new type with somewhat greater power and speed, made their journey in only ten days, not two-and-a-half weeks as promised to the Galactic Council. That was as it was planned. That would give the BGS and the Grand Minister a few days to analyze the information and find a way to put it into the best possible light.

When they arrived the Grand Minister, as well as the Minister from New Earth, were immediately informed and they were there even as the information was decoded and sent to the video displays.

Nervously they watched the display start. Nothing that they could have dreamed up prepared them for what they saw. Qwell was empty and had been so for its entire history. Somehow those who visited Qwell, and there were many, had never really landed on the planet but were shuttled elsewhere in an instant.

Grand Minister Xhelsher, seeing the obvious, said simply, “They have had sub-quantum carrier beams for centuries. That is the only way they could have pulled off this great hoax.

“I thought we were in danger but until now I had no idea of the scope of that danger. Me’Avi, bring your best people into this. Send some to Qwell and see if they can add any pieces to the puzzle. Tell them to concentrate on the orbiting spaceport, since that is probably where the hoax was perpetrated from.

“When the Twelfth Fleet gets here, do not let them dock but send them out on some mission far away. Send them to the fringes of the Cernon Sector and keep them there. We can’t have some drunk crewmember, or officer, letting this information out.

“Quarantine Qwell and censor all communications from the garrison there. Send construction crews there to build bases and homes for the troops and their families. Send the construction crews’ families also. No one going there is to come back until we find some answers.

“Prepare a media release stating that we have secured Qwell and are in the process of gaining all possible information from the population there.”

* * *

Katia and Cyr watched as Jo’Eya came through a Door into Harrigan’s Whelp. “I think, Jo’Eya, you need to give us some explanation as to what you were talking about when you addressed the Oversight Committee.

“You tell us that we might be a race that your people have been seeking for many generations and, in order to show your trust, you have pulled the plug on your activities within the bureaucracies of the Galactic Council and all your people have disappeared from Galactic Council space.

“If what you say is true and your people are in some danger, then we must be doubly so. We need to know why.”

“Of course,” replied Jo’Eya, “you are, like me, Qwell’Na and have a right as well as a need to know. You will be told soon enough. We go to a Diet session. There you will find answers to many, not all, but many of your questions.”

To be continued...

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Copyright © 2005 by euhal allen

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