“Main power restored. We’ve lost the shadow we were chasing. Unless they changed course they should be along this plot line.”
Doral moved to the tactical display, her anger could be felt among those on the bridge. Switching ships causing a diversion by detonating the ship they were previously on then smashing their ‘shadow’ before it could report, that was her plan. The reactor scramming was not something she foresaw. With the advantage of surprise lost she now contemplated her next move.
“Scan the area, make sure we are alone.”
Staring at the main viewer she watched as the scan progressed. These ships, she had them checked thoroughly this was the most complete of the lot… her plan was to lure Shahrazad’s forces here and while they were confused by this graveyard she was going to attack. It was a brilliantly simplistic plan except these ships started to show their age in most unexpected ways.
“Commander, scan is complete however…”
“However, what? Explain yourself.”
“The derelict ship that was in orbit around the planet is gone.”
“Gone? You mean exploded?”
“No Commander, vanished, no sign of explosion, however there was a brief energy discharged in the vicinity of the vessel.”
“Show me the energy signature.”
The signature appears on the display… Doral sat back in her seat, a look of disbelief on her face; those close to her could hear muttering.
“She was here? So close and she didn’t attack… or, I wonder, do we have control… not possible they had to scan the area they should have seen us yet…”
“Withdraw to the depot, we’ll check the ship thoroughly and then go after them. Engage.”
The dreadnought returned to the depot, while its commander tried to sort out the past few hours in her head…
Eliana sat contemplating the past hour… Illusion’s sudden departure, Magnus high resolution scans, central command giving her free reign and this lingering buzz in her brain saying something isn’t right, but her inability to see it, made her even more hesitant…
“Captain, communications from Illusion, returning to the rear of the fleet… its automated communications. I am getting an identification beacon from them how ever this silhouette… if I didn’t know better I’d swear we were receiving a double image.”
Eliana moved to the tactical display, this image…
“Dai, Kenesh, Dawn scan the following coordinates and tell me what you see…
The common link becomes active… the conversation is far from regulation…
“Dai, I see what you’re seeing but on further investigation it looks like the rearmost shadow is in tow…”
“Then there are two ships?”
“Kenesh I see a difference in appearance the lead ship seems smaller… or?”
“Dawn, can you tell which one is Illusion?”
“I believe the ship doing the towing is… why won’t they answer our hail?”
“Dai, I’m closest to them I’ll move to visual range and report back…”
“Kenesh do you think that is wise…”
“Noel’s aboard she’ll make sure no harm comes to us…”
Aboard the space dock Atosuryua had a prisoner in custody, a certain Abh with a birthmark that matched Scholar’s image exactly. Her prisoner had not uttered one word since she was detained. Members of the council were on their way, she made the offer once more.
“Answer my questions and if your story checks out you’ll be released, if you chose to remain silent then I’ll have the information dragged out of you.”
The prisoner looked Atosuryua in the face, her deep dark blue eyes piercing into Atosuryua’s soul and said.
“In your dreams, Abh, only in your dreams.”
With that she fell silent, and collapsed. Security was there in a moment the chief scanned her and said.
“Sorry Commander she’s dead.”
Stunned Atosuryua reported to Sobbash who in turn informed Cassie of what had transpired. Cassie opened a link to Scholar and reported the incident. Scholar went to the bridge just as Independence was approaching Illusion’s position.
“All head slow, viewer on and enhance the image.”
The screen came to life with the image of Illusion and Illusion? Scholar moved to Kenesh’s side and said.
“I’ll be they finally found one, but which one have they found… Chief, illuminate the side of the rear most shadow about amidships.”
The image comes into view although faded, the letters are discernable; Scholar takes a good look and says.
“Of all the ships to stagger across they hit the jackpot that is the flagship Pegasus. Believed destroyed almost three hundred years ago… Lyra must be besides… okay I’m sure her data banks are very active about now… I wonder… oh, the reason I came to the bridge was to show you this.”
She hands Kenesh the message from Cassandra and says.
“Pass that along to Eliana, since we’ve hit another dead end I have no other choice but to remove KO from the isolation field and see what happens… are we talking to Illusion?”
“Nope they’ve been silent for almost an hour… I suggest keeping KO under until we are talking to them once more.”
“I agree if KO is linked to Lyra and we wake KO without Noel knowing it the result could be…”
“Scholar let’s don’t go there and say that we did.”
“Understood, I’ll be with KO tell me when you’re talking to Noel again.”
With that Scholar left, Kenesh reported what Scholar had said and Cassandra’s communication to the fleet. It was now becoming a waiting game while who knows what Doral was up to. Eliana sent a probe towards the graveyard and waited for its report to arrive.
“Captain we’ve successfully linked with Pegasus… status shows the ship on reserve power, main power units inert… master memory core intact and… according to this Pegasus has been gathering information for several decades. We need to get the mains back on line; the data I’m scanning is quite impressive maybe it holds the answers you seek…”
Noel and Sarah are watching Leo’s interface with great intent… this vessel, how did it get here? Should they reactivate it? What secrets does it have? Instructing Leo to join the common link Illusion is finally heard from.
Aboard Samson Eliana senses Illusion joining in the link, before Noel can say a word Eliana launches a barrage of her own.
“Welcome Back… it’s about time you joined in I was hoping you hadn’t changed sides while you were off wondering about the system… I see you’ve picked up a stray bet you’re planning on keeping it… remember we still have a mission to accomplish and if your latest find doesn’t have anything to contribute I suggest you leave it and IF we survive you can pick it up on the way back.”
“Change sides!!… that’s a thought… the stray, as you refer to it, is the flagship Pegasus… looks like it's been collecting data for quite sometime. We plan on giving it enough power to recover said data and hopefully it’ll shed some light on what lies ahead… I’ll need Arisa and a start up gun, all we need is one reactor on line for the moment. Thank you it’s good to be back.”
Frustrated Eliana palms the armrests of her chair. Moving to the edge of the view screen she addresses Noel.
“I’ve got a probe heading to the graveyard… you have till it reports back to gather your data, because, depending on what it reports, I plan on having this battle over before the next cycle starts… by the way contact Kenesh she and Scholar need to talk to you in a local link. That’s all for now.”
Muting Noel, Eliana inquires the probes location; it’s approaching the graveyard twenty minutes to scanning range. Returning to her seat she stares at Illusion.
“We need to wake KO… the person of interest that was on the planet has committed suicide… what is Lyra’s present state?”
“Lyra’s finished compiling data, is in standby mode, and not connected to the ship. If you wake KO can we get her back?”
“Possible, depends on her mental state… is Illusion becoming a handful?”
“Scholar it’s been a few decades since I was aboard for any length of time… the ship is accustomed to having KO as its captain and in the interest of completing the mission, I’ll stay to watch KO, but she needs to be here.”
“I know time is short I’ll start bring KO around, you keep tabs on Lyra hopefully before long you’ll have them both back.”
Noel put the link on standby and opened the link Arisa was parked on, her news wasn’t very cheerful. The main reactor was not serviceable the backup grid while functional needed major repairs. Her idea was to move a remote unit to the main computer and power it directly after isolating it from the rest of the ship. She figured about thirty to fifty minutes to accomplish this task. Scholar was right time was running short. She instructed Arisa to power up the system safely but in due course. Arisa answer was…
“If it was unplugging one cord and plugging it into the standby supply I’d been done by now… I’m wasting time talking to you… you’ll know when the deed is done.”
The link went to stand by and Sarah said.
“I’ll monitor everything, take a seat and relax while you can, Orion and Leo are monitoring Lyra and I’ll keep tabs on Arisa and KO… Relax Captain you look very tired.”
Noel was, she took a seat and drifted off…
Arisa hooked up the remote unit, as she started applying power; she was immobilized by a force field. She was scanned and then the field subsided, a voice, more like an idea in her head speaks.
“Humanoid, female, correlation possible descendant of SOL system Milky Way galaxy, why are you here, what do you desire?”
Instead of answering she inputted the feed from her sensor array, upon seeing what was outside of its hull Pegasus senses something it’s not sensed in centuries.
“Illusion my old friend is that really you?”
Leo answers through Arisa comm. link.
“Hello wondering soul, it’s been a very long time. Can I access your data banks? In return I’ll bring you up to date.”
A dual data link appeared it was then Arisa transported back aboard Discovery. Dai met her in the corridor and said.
“How did it go?”
“Fine, been quite awhile since I was scanned head to toe thou… data is being transferred to Illusion as we speak. Is KO awake?”
“Scholar is bringing her around; Lyra has been searching for her, when the link between them is established…”
“They’re both going to be surprised; I’m thinking Lyra more than KO. When they figure out Pegasus is less than five thousand meters off their port bow… should be interesting.”
Scholar was linked with KO as she regained consciousness. KO was aware of everything that had happened and also realized she had been ‘partially programmed’ looking Scholar in the eye she inquired…
“Did I cause any trouble? Was anyone hurt because of my actions?”
“No child we were able to figure out what was going on just in time. However Doral eluded us but in the process, um are you connected to Lyra?”
“No I’m not and I must admit it’s very refreshing…”
“Then look at this.”
The display came to life, KO saw Illusion and…
“Pegasus, Scholar is that?”
“Yes, Noel found it and it contains data we’ll need to defeat Doral… Noel needs you aboard; do you feel you can handle things?”
“Your mind fusion is still giving me a headache but if Noel is there we’ll manage.”
Stepping back Scholar addressed those on the link.
“You’ve heard everything. I feel that what was controlling KO is doing it no longer… Lyra on the other hand, I’m suggesting she remain isolated, opinions? Eliana spoke.
“KO, understand this… I’m running this show… no matter what you feel about it you’ll follow orders or Noel will see that you comply… the probe is back the data is incomplete something in that area distorted what it saw… we’ll need the data Pegasus has and soon. I want this resolved before Doral can do anymore damage… and just that were clear, capture is still on the table, however I’ll grant her no wiggle room she either surrenders or I’ll vaporize her where she stands.”
KO muted the link looked at Scholar and said.
“I thought I was blood thirsty… She’s taken it to a new level. Can you come with me I’d feel better if the two of you were there.”
Un muting the link Scholar said she’s be accompanying KO back to Illusion a decision Kenesh initially fought then gave in begrudgingly to Scholar. With transport complete KO returned to the ‘center’ seat of Illusion moving to Lyra’s interface she inputted a sequence of codes and…
“Captain, you’re back. Why am I isolated and what is…”
Pegasus presence was strong enough that Lyra did not have to access the ship to know he was there.
“KO when did we find Pegasus? Why wasn’t I notified and… yes master I understand, returning to stand by mode.”
Lyra went dark and Leo interjected.
“Not to worry Captain it would seem Pegasus has linked with Lyra she’s updating him to the present, my question is, given the data Orion is complying how soon do you want to continue the mission?”
“Forward all data to Samson, its new designation is ‘command one’. Execute the order.”
Turing to Scholar she noticed that although here physically she was mentally preoccupied. Taking a step forward she sensed that not only Lyra was connected but so was Scholar and the topic was Pegasus. Turning to Noel and Sarah she said.
“Its strange being members of the supporting cast instead of the lead… ah do we take Pegasus with us or do we um…”
“Captain, Pegasus is unable to move on it own and with the limited power its operating on it can only supply support, we’ll leave it here. The automates, are starting minimal repairs to maintain its current state. We’ll be able to communicate with it but that’s about all.”
“I see well I guess we wait for Eliana to issue the orders.”
Data filled the main viewers of several ships, Vekk, Eliana, and Kenesh had a link open Dai, Dawn and Noel were listening as well. KO was resting. Vekk is speaking.
“Given the data supplied and merging it with the data we had I’ve come to the following conclusion. It would seem Doral found this ‘graveyard’ about seven solar years ago. That aside the data from Pegasus details her successes and failures during that time. There is an inherent weakness in this generation of dreadnoughts although it looks like Doral tried to address it I still believe we can exploit it. Detail images of the area in question are arriving at your tactical stations now. Referring to the image our target area is approximately one meter by three meters behind it runs the main couplings, sever those and we render the ship immobile. However it should be noted that there have been modifications made to that area, a simple weapons hit probably will do little damage. What we need is a portable device that packs a wallop. Suggestions?”
It was Kenesh who spoke.
“The ideal candidate would be a mine, however given their shielding and the sophistication of their sensors launching one would do nothing. It would never make it to the target without being destroyed. But I think there might be a way, it’s risky and because of the way the mines would have to be rigged; one of us could end up the intended target instead of Doral. We’d need to sow a mine field and lead Doral into it. The ship doing the leading… um would have to traverse the field with out giving it away.”
“You mean detonating it… Kenesh I’m following what you’re saying but I don’t think… as commander I can’t bring myself to let one of us be a decoy… while I like the intent of your plan we need to figure out a better way to spring it.”
Dai chimed in next.
“Looking at this image I think it’s going to take more than one mine, unless it’s a lucky hit, to accomplish the task. If we can find her without her knowledge maybe we could set adrift a group of mines and… hope some hit before they realize what is going on.
Vekk’s image returned to the viewers, he was standing with a tablet in his hand reading it. As he read he said.
“I’m reading our orders and I believe I’ve come up with a solution to this dilemma. Our orders state that we attempt to capture a dreadnought for study, it doesn’t specify which one. There are at least a half dozen in the grave yard. If Doral wants the going down in blazes, turning into a super nova firefight who are we to object. We vaporize her and take a ship from the grave yard… Problem solved.”
Suran logic, while hard to comprehend at times made perfect sense on this occasion. Eliana started an intrusive search of the area in hopes of bringing Doral out of the shadows. She positioned her forces in such a way that maximum fire power could be brought to bear no matter where Doral appeared from.
Parked on the far side of the graveyard Doral takes note of Eliana's scan.
"Fools they really think they'll find me like that? Keep scanning and giving away your position. Weapons office once we have the co-ordinates we'll send them a little surprise."
Eliana was rotating the scan pattern amongst the lead ships in the fleet. Doral saw the position of the scan jump about. Angered she said.
"Think you're smarter than I eh? Let's see where her forces truly lie."
Landing was uneventful; Lafiel's first steps back on Shahrazad brought her some comfort. At the end of the dock were Plakia and Shawn the greeting was short lived.
"A wheelchair? No one said anything about you requiring a wheelchair. What..."
"Relax Lafiel, it's for my own protection more than anything else, I'm quite able of walking on my own however..."
"However she risks the possibility of fracturing a rib and poking a hole in her lung so, mother, be patient will you."
Shawn's response left Lafiel reeling. He'd never addressed her in that manor before. It was Jinto who continued the conversation.
"Son I see you've taken responsibility for your grandmother. I applaud that however, you should not speak to your mother in such a way, like it or not, till the day she dies she is your mother and should command respect."
Lafiel took a step towards Shawn. In one fell swoop she grabbed his ear lobe and said.
"It's alright Jinto, you see he's commanded a ship, and now feels he might be a little above us."
Tweaking his ear and looking him in the eye she continues.
"Shawn the best you'll ever get is my equal… you'll have to wait till I'm gone to surpass me… you take good care of your grandmother because if you don't you'll not have to worry about me, I'll just sweep up the pieces after she's done with you."
Looking at Plakia she says.
"Mother can I please have an update… just what is going on around here, do I need to help, or just sit back and relax?"
The conversation continued till they reached the command center. Lafiel decided to pop in, inform Cassandra she was back and ask if she needed any assistance. Returning from her visit she said.
"It's a circus in there, I think I'll leave Cassie to her task, Jinto I'm hungry you interested in a meal?"
Jinto said he was and they departed. Shawn looked at Plakia and said.
"Grandmother I believe I have much to learn from you. You told me that would be mother's reaction and I ignored you. For that I'm sorry. Where do you wish to go?"
"Wheel me to the back of the command center I'm interested in observing this 'circus' your mother spoke of… and Shawn beside myself, you can learn a lot from your mother. I believe its time you stopped resisting her and embrace her teaching… Although I taught her some of what she knows, she is her father's daughter, and that is the difference between us."
"Have you found them?"
"Not quite, while I can't pinpoint a single vessel, I do have an idea of a general area they are occupying."
"Can we send them a little treat?"
"I believe so, if we set it for maximum output, while we might not take one of them out, we'll surely blind them long enough to start an attack and escape …"
"Who said anything about escape? While blinded we'll destroy the lot, end of discussion, launch the weapon."
The weapon, a cylinder approximately thirty meters long and three meters in diameter slowly leaves Doral's ships, increases speed and cloaks. Watching it depart, Doral says.
"Okay missy lets see you deal with that. Once we have targets advance and take them out."
KO returned to the bridge, relieved Noel and sent her below to rest. Interfacing with the ship she said to Sarah.
"Scholar is in the lab, she and Lyra are, reliving 'old times' with Pegasus. I'm feeling better can I have an update?"
Before Sarah could answer Leo and Orion filled KO's head with data, taking care not to overload her. After a few moments she said.
"I see, while we still haven't provoked Doral into action, we have also systematically narrowed the area of space she's hiding in. I wonder if Doral has figured out Eliana's plan."
"I'd like to think Doral is smarter than her father, um maybe not smarter but…"
A warning from Lyra flashed through her thoughts. It would seem Pegasus has detected something and before she could rationalize it, Illusion came to life and discharged all main weaponry into deep space. Twelve seconds later a massive energy wave was detected heading towards the fleet. It was just enough warning that they were able to shield themselves from the wave before it struck. Once it passed Eliana was on the link demanding an explanation.
"KO will you explain what just occurred? why the sudden discharge and what the hell did it hit?"
KO was still putting it together it was Leo that answered Eliana.
"Information from Pegasus through Lyra indicated that an enormous energy conversion weapon was heading this way. Time was of the essence any delay in detonation would have put the fleet at greater risk."
Eliana was never impressed with Illusion, or its AI's, until now… they had effectively prevented a disaster that none of them saw coming. She then said.
"Doral has shown her intent let her think we're wounded and be ready to pounce the moment she makes her next move."
The fleet fell silent and waited; everyone knew it would not be a long wait.
"Device detonation confirmed… I'm putting the location on the display."
Doral examines the display and comments.
"Interesting, they were closer than I anticipated. Raise shields, Battle stations, as soon as you have a target open fire."
Illusion first detected Doral's movement feeding data to the fleet. Eliana will wait till the ship was in range and then dispatch a group of mines at it. On the link the conversation went as follows:
"Once the mines are launched… Dai you're closet to her course and you'll probably take fire first, play dead to the last second… Kenesh once Dai takes fire, come in from below and behind, target the shield generators keep firing. I'm fairly sure you'll do little damage but the objective is to keep her off her toes until the mines arrive… Dawn, KO and I will engage her as head on as possible. Once the mines hit, KO it will be up to you to sever the area indicated. Hopefully this works out If not retreat to Amber sector one sixty five to the edge of the asteroid belt and we'll make a stand there. Any questions?"
Silence filled the link, Eliana had made herself understood without have to explain, and a smile crept across her face.
Aboard Discovery Dai and Ariel were conferring.
"Captain sitting dead like this, it's unnerving."
"We have to give them the illusion we were left this way by the blast, don't worry it'll be fine."
"So you say, so you say."
"Chief you're certain you can raise shields before we're pulverized?"
"Captain, before the volley is completely discharged we'll be shielded, count on it."
"Captain, your use of the word pulverized, did you really have to…"
"Relax Ariel; I was just impressing on the chief the necessity of her getting the shields up. That's all."
"Captain, movement, just on the edge of the grid, a very large object moving this direction and at point one five of sub light."
"Creeping along eh? Wonder if she's just as blind as we are, that was a substantial energy discharge; let me know as soon as you have targeting information.
"Aye Captain. Independence has tactical information as well."
Entering the disturbance Doral rose from the command seat and approached the tactical displays. Noting the intense amount of interference she orders the ship to a slow crawl and said.
"We have the advantage; they've been blinded by the blast. Stay on this course for now."
"Captain faint return sixty degrees to starboard I believe it's a vessel."
"Steer towards it and prepare to fire once you have a lock."
Aboard Discovery; Doral's turn towards them has brought Dai to her feet.
"That's it come at me fool, range to target?"
"Seven hundred and fifty thousand kilometers, give them another fifteen seconds and I'll have a lock."
"Stand by to fire…"
"Captain a sudden rise in ships output…"
"FIRE, lock or not let them have it … shields now…. After discharge, evasive port, lead them to Independence."
Dai's sudden discharge not only caught Doral completely off guard but did substantial damage to her sensor array. Partially blinded by the attack she unknowingly turned towards Kenesh who pummeled the aft section of the ship doing extensive damage.
Eliana looked in disbelief at her display… They had Doral at their mercy, or did they. The mines would arrive in a little over a minuet. Ordering Illusion and Defiance to hold position and fire, she waited.
KO was a little more proactive; she started an intense scan of the dreadnought, although the interference was subsiding she wasn't getting the image she though she should…
"Leo, verify what we are getting, we couldn't have gotten this lucky."
"Captain all indications show them almost dead in space… I'm at a loss to explain… mine contact in five, four, three, two, one. All power readings from the ship have dropped to space normal background levels… unless it's a very well planned rouse, they are dead in space."
Opening the link KO said.
"Cover us; I'm going in to investigate."
"KO be careful, we've got your back."
Eliana's words, while heartfelt also there was a bit of let down, she was expecting an all out battle and…
"Orion, move us to scanning range, at the first sign of anything, let everything we have loose at them, no questions."
"Sarah, have Noel and Scholar report to the bridge."
"Leo, talk to me…"
"Coming into range, our position one hundred thousand meters off their port side, scanning… numerous haul breeches throughout the ship… I'm putting them on the display… minor energy readings… scanning for life signs…. No life signs however about a dozen corpses are scattered about the ship."
As the last statement resounded on the bridge Noel and Scholar arrived. Turning to Noel, KO said.
"You up to taking a little walk, we need to investigate the dreadnought and verify…"
"If we actually did Doral in?"
"Yeah pretty much so, Sarah where is the balance of the fleet?"
"They've encircled the dreadnought at a distance of one million kilometers; Eliana requests your presence on the link."
"Why am I not surprised put her on."
"I forbid you…"
"Sorry Eliana, it's now my show, I'm going to be the one who finds the truth. I'm taking Noel with me, and I doubt seriously if this is a trap, but if it is, Illusion will be the one to put the threat to an end. I've caused enough trouble… we'll leave the link open. Now if you'll excuse me we have a ship to visit."
Eliana relented but told KO this discussion was far from over. Donning support suits and arming themselves they took a shuttle to the ship. Parking by a large hole in the amidships they entered. Lighting up the area they moved towards the bridge.
"Leo, scan ahead I want the shortest route displayed."
"Captain if you'll look to your left at the end of the corridor looks to be their main computer if it has power, leave a probe and I'll empty its contents."
Making their way down the corridor and forcing the door they find the first body. A victim of asphyxia not dressed in space wear when the bulkhead failed they died from lack of oxygen.
"Noel I'm setting up the probe check the power grid and see if there is power for this unit."
KO set the probe in proximity to the data terminal which came to life just as Noel approached her.
"I put it on the backup. Orion has an hour to do his deed then the system will shut down."
"Captain an hour will be plenty of time I'm not sensing a lot of useable data."
"Down load it all, gibberish or not, grab everything you can, we'll decipher it later."
"As you wish Captain extracting information now."
"Leo is there a shortcut to the bridge from here or do we have to backtrack?"
"To your right is a doorway if not blocked there should be a gangway about seven meters down the passage it'll will lead you to the bridge. Also Captain your life signs are…"
"Leo, I'm looking at a dead body with a scary look on its face, yeah anybody's signs would be elevated."
"Seems the Commanders levels are normal…"
"Leo, be a good map and direct us will ya?"
Moving down the corridor and finding the stairway they arrive at the door to the bridge. Finding it ajar they force it open. A grizzly sight greets them most of the crew have been shot with a laser pistol. Moving to the front of the ship they find Doral on the floor a pistol clutched in her hand pointed at her head her finger on the trigger.
"Noel, record all of this, we'll figure out who these people were, but…"
Kneeling next to Doral's body KO pries the weapon from her fingers and says.
"I though it might have been empty but it's got almost half a charge I guessed she expired before she could pull the trigger?"
"Hopefully the computer logs will tell us. Come KO we've got a little more investigating to do before we'll have to return."
Support suits were good for four hours max and they had already hit the halfway mark. Moving through the ship they recorded as much information as they could, retrieved the probe and returned to Illusion.
'Vekk's off to acquire a dreadnought it would seem… what should we do with this one, it’s a tomb, unless…"
"Let the dead rest, however we can't just leave it drifting in space."
Eliana was in a quandary, her home world required a service for the dead, and the Abh had strange ways about death in space. The Suran's feel that the body, when no longer serving a function, should be consumed by fire, Scholar hadn't been much help either and she wasn't going to bother central command with the issue either. Her report was detailed enough to satisfy the council and the alliance.
Vekk's panicked communications from the 'graveyard' unsettled Eliana even more. It would seem Doral had the last laugh. She had planted proximity devices around the remaining dreadnoughts. Vekk, unaware of the codes needed to deactivate them stumbled headlong into an inferno. He was making 'salvage' claim to the dreadnought that lay off her starboard beam and Vekk assured Eliana that those aboard would be buried on the forth moon of the Suran home world and not tossed into the Suran sun.
"We're approaching your location, I have several ships with superficial damage but we will attach tow lines to the dreadnought and take it home as agreed previously."
"I bid you a safe journey and you will file a report when you're done with the 'salvage' correct?"
"Of course, I truly hope this is the last of them but if not next time we should have a better understanding and defense for them."
Eliana watch as the Suran's left the area and wondered what they'd find… at the moment she had a pressing issue of her own. What to do with Pegasus, the ship was not capable of light travel, towing at sub light would take one hundred and seventy days to arrive at Shahrazad an unacceptable time for part of the fleet to be absent.
Arisa and Scholar had an answer and it would either work or destroy Pegasus in the process. Generating a force field from Illusion and wrapping Pegasus in it then forming a jump bubble towards on old Abh Sord. Once there pulling energy from the Sord to replenish Illusion and making the final jump to Shahrazad. It was a trick KO had used before on a long journey there was no reason it shouldn't work but …
"KO understand this Pegasus is expendable Illusion is not, when it comes down to it you survive, no argument, understand me."
"Yes oh fearless leader, I understand, we'll have lunch aboard Pegasus when you get back, because I plan on beating you back home."
A massive energy spike occurred off Samson's port side Illusion and Pegasus disappeared in a flash of light. Sitting below deck Noel commented to Scholar.
"My mother told me that I was created as a 'Natural Abh' as close to being 'human' as an Abh could be… KO on the other hand was engineered to be a 'Perfect Abh'… I, like my mother question the 'perfect' part but she's highly competitive almost to being excessive. I guess that's why Illusion took to her, she must be, in their eyes a like being to their creators… my question is Pegasus, will it want a captain like KO and if so where do we find another KO? Also KO's not going to live forever when that happens then what?"
Scholar took Noel's hand and said.
"You've found many a treasure and mystery below the surface, my gut feeling is Shahrazad is 'home' for Illusion and Pegasus and, if that's true, the answers you seek still lay below the surface. I'll be honest this will be my last life cycle. I fear another extension will not be possible. Although Mia is ready to assume my duties and has several cycles left, I so want to remain till the mystery is solved more than I ever have before, yet…"
Scholars face softened her grip on Noels hand increased ever so slightly a single tear ran across her lips. That was the end of the conversation; they had arrived at the Sord and were needed for the energy transfer. Refueled KO set course for home. Arriving she found Samson greeting her.
"I'm impressed KO, I've been here exactly ninety seconds, making a pit stop and having one in tow you did well, but I got here first."
KO bristled then relented. She had Pegasus home and Eliana got to crow, this time.
To be continued in "Wait… You're Serious About This Aren't You…?"