80_Return to the Source II

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80_Return to the Source II

Post by Diaho »

Return to the Source II

On the hill over looking the falls is where we find Shawn. Standing before Ramaj's memorial plaque the one sided conversation goes as follows.

"Great grandmother it’s a marvelous ship, worthy of bearing your name. But… I wonder if I'm really qualified… I wish you were here I'd welcome your council… I'm… sure I'm ready but… now I don't know…"

A voice from the shadows momentarily startles him as it says.

"It's normal to question ones abilities… for the longest time I questioned mine… I was offered command and almost rejected it… your mother and Samson convinced me that I was suppressing my true feelings… that applied to me becoming Governor after your mother. So, were you offered the command, or are you assuming that it's yours for the taking?"

Moonlight was waning but there was enough to recognize Sobbash standing in front of Samson's grave. She moved to where Shawn was standing; faced him and continued.

"I'd like an answer… were you offered or are you assuming?"

Shawn was emotionless, the moonlight highlighting half of his face. He spoke quietly.

"There was not a formal offer… so I think assumption, based on conversations I've been a part of, would be the correct answer."

Turning to Ramaj's plaque Sobbash said.

"If she was alive I'm sure she would support you… you have my support… if I might suggest, take sometime, reflect and make absolutely sure this is what you want. Once you take command, until you retire, not only is it your life, but those around you and those who will depend on you. It's weighty, remember, that your mother was commanding at your age but it was her duty and the Empire was at war. We're not at war, at least not yet, there is always the possibility but you shouldn't base this decision on that becoming fact… if you desire an ear I'll be here, but you've received all the advice I'll give you on this subject. It is your decision and I wish you the wisdom to make the right choice."

Shawn leaves Sobbash returns to Samson's grave and says.

"I realized when we became a couple that I was going to outlive you… it was a fact we had discussed at length however I never thought I'd lose you when I did. I think you'd be proud of me; I've accomplished everything we planned and more. The planet is capable of supporting itself, to the point we've begun shipping excess food to neighboring systems. Robert has grown to be almost the exact copy of you, he and Lily have continued the work you and Paveryua started. I wonder if you knew Pav had a daughter, probably not, he does and she's a force to be reckoned with. There is more, but for now, digest what I've said and as always I love you."

Sobbash leaves and returns to the Village.

An A.I. spy probe had been launched towards the area indicated in the information compiled by Pegasus. It would be sometime before it arrived and a bit longer before it would return to report what it encountered. A group consisting of Marjee, Scholar and Dawn were awaiting the probe, and also preparing for a conference two days away, concerning heading in the direction of said probe. Dawn comments by saying.

"Local network is secure and operational, repairs to Defiance are complete. Eliana's sister's seem to be staying longer than anyone figured, things at home took an unexpected turn since the information was released, the chief justice seems to be in jeopardy of being impeached for actions involved with that incident. I guess we've become a shelter for those wanting time away from the fray, eh?"

Scholar was listening and also looking at data from Pegasus's database, old data, concerning humankind's first ventures into space. There was an image on the screen that caught Marjee's eye as she inquired.

"Interesting space station you have there Scholar, don't think I've ever seen anything like it before."

Scholar moved the image to a larger display and said.

"It's part of humankind's first ventures into space. At the time there were two schools of thought, first was planetary settlements with the requirements of support from Sol, and self supporting space stations built on asteroids with domed cities that would reproduce a habitable climate, gravity and all. It would seem in their twenty first and second centuries; a race was on to explore the local system. This image was a proof of concept drawing, whether it was ever produced or not the records from that era are spotty at best."

Marjee looked at the image and said.

"Simplistic by today's standards, but our history indicated that the Abh took the space station route while…"

Scholar interrupted.

"Not so fast Marjee, while it's true the Abh built, for lack of better words, artificial worlds. Humankind has toyed with many ideas… the first endeavors must have had some success since we're here and the Sol system is genetically home for most humanoids we've come across, but that discussion aside, if those stations were created and modified over time one wonders what the current design would look like. I just fed that data into the AI, and well, its low priority but we'll know something before we depart. If we depart that is."

Dawn thought out loud.

"Probe, Society, the vastness of space, I now understand, the meaning of, 'a needle in a haystack', I also realize the importance of your mission and… I've got a real uneasy feeling… professionally and personally speaking… something's bugging the hell out of me and its annoying that I can't localize it enough to make sense of it."

"And if I asked for political asylum, I assume you'd be as angry as you are now?"

Eliana froze in position, her sisters words had immobilized her, temporally, regaining her wits she faced her and said.

"Abdicate the throne? Just toss several centuries of…"

Her sister stopped her by saying.

"Molding our world in an image that has served its purpose? What if the monarchy is replaced by a democratic government? Would you be against that? The people say we don't understand their plight, so what if we let them try it on for size?"

Eliana listened, thought, turned and headed to the door, reached for the latch and said.

"I'll give what you've said some thought, I'll return with an answer in due course, until then say nothing about this… the chaos it would start at home… could destabilize the Alliance."

Eli left, her sister watched as she headed toward the Command Center, her response was not what she expected, the reason she was on the throne and not Eliana was… she thought Eli wanted to ditch the system. This might have been a tactical error on her part but 'the cat was out of the sack' so to speak. Waiting a few minutes she left her quarters and headed to the gardens. There she spent several hours reflecting on what had transpired earlier. The flowers brought her peace, however her words might have started a war.

Probes come in various types, short range, long range, scientific, investigative and either one way or returning units. The second probe that had been launched from Shahrazad was a sophisticated long range unit carrying reconnaissance modules and the latest in artificial intelligence.

A long range stealth spy with the ability to gather information, deem what's useful and not, then when it encounters something it's never seen before it has the ability to observe, investigate in detail and return back without letting it's presence be known. Dawn programmed mission parameters and the area to be covered. It should arrive in an area seventeen point two light years from launch point; cover a parsec of space and return. Unless compromised, no transmission will come from it until it returns.

Cassandra had taken note of a very moody Eliana in the Command Center. She asked Sari to keep an eye on things and that she was going to inquire…

"Aren't you being a little nosy, Cassie?"

"No, concerned, this is an Eliana I've not seen in a very long time, I have a feeling it has something to do with our latest guest. Contact me if …"

"Understood, better figure this out if we had to send her to space like that…"

"Scary thought it is Sari, I'll be back shortly, I hope."

Cassandra approaches Eliana and is within inches when a startled Eliana says.

"Don't… Don't sneak up on me again…."

"Eli I wasn't sneaking, you're not… something's got you rattled want to talk about it?"

"Yeah I do, but not here not anywhere we might be overheard."

"Eli, does this concern your sister?"

"It does… but not here."

They exit the center and head for the memorials, the sound of the water fall will mask any conversation. Taking a seat before the honored plaque Eliana says.

"Cassie, hear me out completely, when I'm done talking I'll raise my hand, this is complex so let me deliver it as best I can. Do you understand me?"

Cassandra nodded and Eliana started…

"Cassie, my sister, just asked for political asylum, she's planning on abdicating the throne and, I assume, staying here… we don't need this wrench tossed into the works. She talking about having a democracy on our world, but our two worlds makes up fifty percent of the Alliance's battle force. If a civilian government comes to be and they decide to withdraw from the Alliance everything that's been worked for over the past century could…"

Eliana stopped but her hand never moved, Cassie took note and waited. She did not have to wait long.

"Half of me wants to go home, right now, and take control. The other half has a duty to this world that I placed over my home when I let Sis take the throne. I ………"

Eliana stopped again, this time her hand moved. Cassandra sat reviewing everything she had heard and said.

"I'm going to violate part of the charter and discuss the possibility of 'nation building' with you… understand that what we will discuss can never be implemented… Eli it's been a good half century since you've been home, I know you've tried to keep up with events but you going home right now and taking your sisters place… I'd be better off sending a battle group to seize the throne. The outcome, I believe, would be the same, a revolt… when you and your sister are ready, I suggest we have a session with the Council, get their impartial input, and see where it goes from there. And it's not like we've never dealt with a civilian government before, however this one could have a lot of clout."

Eliana sat a bit stunned, Cassandra was correct in one statement, if she went home and took over the throne there would be hell to pay… but… her mind had one last question.

"Sis won't leave, I'm pretty sure of that… I left her with the impression that I'd be returning with an answer… I have none… your suggestions?"

Cassandra stood faced Eliana and said.

"Until we put the puzzle pieces together, I suggest we, you, say nothing to her. If she has questions send her to me. For now she's on 'vacation' and that's the cover story… word of what we've discussed gets out and that battle fleet in orbit around your home world might prove to be fact… something, given how full our 'plate' is at this time, I don't want to deal with."

They leave the falls and return to their normal duties, Eli boards Samson a place far removed from her sister and spends time helping Marjee and Scholar with their outlines… being aboard and surrounded by the ship gave her comfort.

Two days came quickly, yet Marjee and Scholar arrived at the appointed hour, actually early, and presented their 'mission plan', minus one detail, which Cassandra caught immediately.

"To Sol and back, that I see, how about those 'side' trips? I see no mention of them at all."

Dawn stood along with Scholar and said.

"Probe's are not back… yet. We feel the last one must have found something interesting and is taking its own sweet time investigating it. The first one won't arrive at its destination for quite sometime, about six weeks give or take, and it's programmed to meet Pegasus half way. So let's be clear what 'probe' we are talking about."

Perturbed, Cassandra adjourns the meeting and says.

"When our wayward second probe comes home… let me know… we'll reconvene after you've had a look at it."

With that Marjee, Scholar and Dawn left… sitting in the back of the room was KO, Kenesh, Plakia, and Dai, taking in what was being said. Before Cassandra could leave the four of them approached her and Plakia, speaking for the group, said.

"Interesting partial briefing, grand daughter, we're here on a different matter that you might have knowledge of. The fleet commander has isolated herself aboard her flagship and has hung out a large "Do Not Disturb" sign. You wouldn't happen to have any information relating to her present actions?"

Cassandra faced them and said.

"It's a personal matter that I'm not at liberty to discuss."

It was an unsatisfactory answer, and Plakia pressed Cassandra harder this time.

"I'll get to the point, this region's on a hair trigger, it could go off at any second, do you have confidence in her ability to lead us, or shall the four of us draw straws to see who takes over?"

This line of questioning was… Cassie wanted to confide in them but… she took in a deep breath let it out slowly and said.

"At the present moment I have confidence in her abilities that said, for your own peace of mind, go draw straws somewhere and tell me who the loser was. That'll give me and you a backup plan."

With that Cassie spun on her heels and left the room. The four stood staring at one and another it was KO that finally said.

"Must be serious for her to respond like that… I propose lunch in the Village, have our drawing and…"

Kenesh interrupted.

"No, not this time, we've been kept in the dark before and…"

Plakia continued…

"It's always worked out… have faith… and lets discuss this over lunch… for some reason I have regained my appetite."

In the Village, it's been a normal sight for the ship commander to have lunch. However today's lunch turned to a heated discussion in a language most around them did not understand. The Abh native tongue, seldom used in public, was being displayed. And it looked like KO's Abh was a little rusty because Plakia kept handing her notes along the way. The meal was served and afterwards a competition, or so it seemed was going on the results was…

Cassandra's creunoc vibrated to life, an image was displayed, a frowning Kenesh holding a very short straw. She made a mental note, closed the device and continued about her business for the day. Anyone passing her noticed an 'evil' grin emanating from her.

Vekk and Zachary were sitting in the lounge attached to the Alliance headquarters. All talks had broken down; to the point the last session saw insults and objects flying around the room. Once order was restored the military commander ordered all involved to take a two week cooling off period. Instead of going home Vekk cooked up an idea which he was sharing with Zachary.

"We're so close Zachary and we have an 'open' invite let's go there."

Zachary deep in thought said.

"Open invite or not, dropping in unannounced, Cassandra will have our hides… something I'm not looking forward to."

"Zachary where's your sense of adventure… Shahrazad is a big planet; we don't have to end up in her office per say."

The sound of voices raised in discussion approaches them. Vekk motions to Zachary to follow him. Down a corridor, to a launch bay, and aboard a shuttle they travel. Once aboard Vekk launches much to Zachary's displeasure. The navigation system is set to steer them to Shahrazad with arrival in five hours. Vekk turns towards Zachary, notices the displeasure on his face and says.

"If you're that concerned open a link, get permission for us to arrive. If they refuse we'll spend time on the orbital platform. I had to get away from those idiots I was about to…"

"Draw a weapon and put them out of their misery? There are times Vekk we think alike. Let's try unannounced, what have we got to lose?"

What Vekk was unaware of is that thanks to the attempted 'hack' Cassandra had tighten security in and around Shahrazad, they were intercepted and boarded before they had gotten within one million kilometers of the defense grid. Escorted to the platform, their ship confiscated their fate uncertain Zachary said.

"Note to self, never try sneaking to Shahrazad. Well Vekk I guess the worst would be confinement, at the moment a nice clean cell has a certain appeal. I wonder who will come to get us."


The peace of her isolation was broken when the platform manager informed Eliana there were two 'high ranking' Alliance officials in the holding area and that she was instructed to ascertain their motives and settle the matter. Turning to her First Officer she asked her to have a security detail meet her in the mooring gangway and make sure they were equipped to engage if necessary. To which her First Officer said.

"You're taking an armed detail to meet those persons?"

"I am and depending on who it is I might use said detail to … Just have them meet me in the gangway."

Eliana left the bridge, her First Officer, slightly paler than before the conversation, informed the chief of the Captains request. She closed the link took the center seat and thought.

"Given her present mood, there is a good possibility, I hope those two aren't on the Captain's foe list… we shall see."

Approaching the holding area Eliana contacted the station master who was holding the ID information of those in the cell. Examining the documents Eliana turned to the detail chief and said.

"Weapons on heavy stun, don't act unless I seem to be in danger."

A strange request, but readily complied with. Leaving the station masters office and heading to the holding cell Eliana made sure those in the cell heard them coming.

In the holding cell Eliana's approach is heard bringing this from Zachary.

"Ah Vekk, sounds like a small army is approaching and it's not sounding too friendly."

Turing his gaze to the doorway his eyes are greeted with uniformed soldiers filling their view and pointing their weapons towards them. Half panicked, Vekk went to speak when the middle of the line opened and Eliana appeared. They both felt relief and Vekk said.

"Eliana, thank the stars…."

With fury in her eyes Eliana cut Vekk off and said.

"You're in no position to address me like that."

"Um, Your Highness…."

"Try again…"

Taking note Vekk realizes who is standing in front of them.

"My apologies, Fleet Commander…"

"That's better, why do you two darken my door and disturb my peaceful day?"

It was that comment that informed them of how 'unwelcome' they had become. This brought this response from Zachary.

"I'm guessing an open invite has a different meaning in this system…"

"The only reason you two aren't lying on the floor heavily stunned is… I doubt you've read any of the advisories concerning this system … now have you?"

The dumbfounded look she was observing answered her question. Dropping the force field and sliding a tablet through the opening she said.

"Here's your homework assignment. With in the documents on this tablet are the answers to your questions and the key to getting out of this cell. I'll give you an hour although it shouldn't take you forty minutes to figure it out… when you've got it figured out tell this person, she'll come get me and we'll go from there… but beware if you're wrong I hope you like staying here."

Eliana left taking half of the detail with her, Vekk grabbed the tablet; he and Zachary started to study it. Back at the station masters office, who was observing the conversation, he inquired of Eliana's actions to which this was her reply.

"Those two have been a thorn in my side for… longer than I would like to admit. I guess this is payback for… let's just call it payback and leave it at that."

The intelligence agency resided in a converted residence with in the Village. When planet side there is where you could find Dawn. The main living area contained all of the equipment she needed; there was a kitchenette, bathroom and sleeping area. The concept of home office really resembled her quarters.

Waiting for the second probes return she'd fallen into a deep dream filled sleep, in which she was reliving her argument concerning her late father. Never knowing him, she, throughout her youth had questioned Seelnay about him with the response being, no response. Upon reaching her twenty-first birthday she finally cornered Seelnay and that discussion, which she was reliving, had caused a decade estrangement from her mother was …

She was being physically shaken, this never happened in the dream before, and the voice she heard, it was Seelnay but the words…

"Dawn wake up, the probes back, the alarm startled the neighbors and… can you hear me WAKE UP!"

Dawn opened her eyes and at that moment her ears came online as well, the alarm, which was one of the most annoying sounds to her, she had actually slept through. Reaching to the console besides her bed she silenced it. Focusing she saw Seelnay standing next to her… before she could speak…

"Were you that exhausted, or … and what were you dreaming? You were tossing and turning as I approached you, but your mind was such a disorganized mess I couldn't sense what you were thinking."

Placing her feet over the side of the bed and raising the top half of her body to a sitting position Dawn replied.

"The dream… something we tried to discuss long ago…"

Dawn's mind, now focusing, Seelnay could read and she stopped her by saying.

"I… should have… long ago… Dawn there is one person on this planet who could tell you more about your father than I ever could… and you know him quite well… I made him promise, but it's time I let him speak with you. I had no idea, but then again I tend to be selfish and foolish at time… can you forgive me?"

Rising to her feet and hugging Seelnay, Dawn said.

"Yes Mother I can forgive you because it was not only you but I who was stubborn… I never thought there could be pain associated…"

Seelnay placed her fingers across Dawn's lip and said.

"Jinto Lynn is who you need to speak with…"

Slightly surprised Dawn said.

"Okay mother I'll do as you say, once this is over and thank you."

Seelnay left, Dawn moved to the console and started examining the data from the probe. On the pathway, out of hearing range, Seelnay opened a link to Jinto.

"Seelnay, to what do I owe the honor…"

"Can it Count of Hyde… Jinto, the time has come for you to finish what you started with Dawn concerning Ku. Jinto you're to tell her everything from the day you met till the day he died."

"Seelnay, everything?"

"Yes Jinto everything and answer any questions she will have."

"I understand should I contact you…"

"No need, I'll know the moment you've spoken with her and thank you."

Seelnay closes the link and continues walking. At the residence Jinto sits staring off into space. Lafiel had entered the room as the conversation began. She stood next to him and said.

"Will you need my assistance…?"

"Lafiel lets wait and see how she contacts me… I'd prefer a relaxed setting and maybe a discussion over a meal. I do want you present as a stabilizing factor and friendly face if you get my meaning."

"As you wish Jinto, I shall make time and make a meal if necessary, because I … Seelnay wanted you to tell her 'everything' is that what I heard?"

"You heard correctly and that's why I want you present when we talk."

Lafiel bent over and kissed him on the cheek then left the room. Jinto turned to the window and stared at the setting sun. He wasn't dreading what Seelnay asked, but Dawn was a formidable person and he wonders how she would handle 'everything'.

The first part of the data from the probe was routine. However approximately three light years from it's destination it picked up a large artificially generated energy source. It cataloged it for investigation on its return and continued on the pre programmed course.

Arriving, the probe found several large asteroids and what could be surmised as the remnants of a planetary system. A black hole was located in a far quadrant with a trail of debris heading towards its core. Life signs were nonexistent however the same energy signature, as observed before, was detected as a decaying source, leading the probe to believe that something non natural had been in this part of space recently. Observations completed, the probe headed to the last know location of the energy source. The area was empty, a trace of signature remained, and the probe ascertained a probable location and proceeded to 'follow' the source. When a positive location was determined the probe went stealth and approached the indicated area. At the time recording devices were activated and the first images both visual and spectrographic were being displayed. Dawn got one look at the data, turned to her right, opened a link and said.

"Probes home, it's found a rather large surprise, you better get here pronto."

Marjee was engrossed in a tech journal when Dawn's communication arrived she ignored the flashing console which caused Scholar to activate it remotely the audio echoed through their quarters. Leaving in a rush they headed to Dawn's location, upon entering the found every display with images on it. Hearing them arrive Dawn said.

"This is what the probe found, in an unrelated observation, to its directive. The log shows it was able to observe it for about one solar day until an energy discharge, which might have been directed at it, caused the programming to kick in and the probe returned home. Whether it was actually observed or not will remain a mystery but the data gathered…grab a console and help me sort through it."

Taking a console each and breaking the data down by their expertise, it wasn't long before Dawn realized they were still in over their heads. Opening a link she called for even more specialized help, with in twenty minutes Seelnay and Arisa had arrived. Arisa teamed with Marjee and took to the technical aspects, while Seelnay was given the task of retracing the course the object had been on. Seelnay had the table with the star maps on and tied into the probes memory, a map appeared which brought this response from Seelnay.

"This is rather disturbing, if what the probe is indicating is accurate, an entire Class AA system has vanished in the past three solar years… and we never got any indication of its demise."

That statement brought Dawn and Scholar to the table. Seelnay transposed the current area map from the probe over a mining survey from three solar years ago. A white dwarf sun and four planetoids orbiting it were missing; the area was uninhabitable however it was a vast mineral resource area. It had been mined three years ago, which is why the last map was from that time. Overlaying the position of the dwarf star and the black hole it's obvious that the locations indicate two different events which brought this comment from Seelnay.

"White dwarf, then black dwarf, but never a black hole… and we're talking about a billion solar years under normal circumstances. Some force has influenced this area. I'm guessing the object the probe found is directly or indirectly involved in the disappearance. What I need to do is figure out where that object has been and see…."

Scholar cut in by saying

"If there are similar occurrences along the way then…"

Seelnay continued

"Then we've got a major problem on our hands, I've extend its projected course. The course would take it through the heart of the Alliance and almost on a collision course with Lakfakalle."

Marjee injected at this point.

"There are life forms aboard, still sorting out what kind of life, but it looks to be humanoid in nature. I think its time to let Command know what we've found… "

Dawn reached for the console and Scholar stopped her by saying.

"Not right now, but very soon, Seelnay back track their course, see where they might have come from and remember to factor in displacement for time. If that object proves to be what I think it might be it's had a very long journey and… I'll leave it there for now. Back track the course, I'm going to write my suspicions on this tablet and when you've got an idea we'll see if I am correct or not. Dawn, when we know that information, then we'll let Command know. Because that will be among the first questions we're going to be asked."

Zachary and Vekk had scanned the tablet Eliana had provided and found when she took over for KO all invitation to the planet had to be cleared by her personally. There was a link at the bottom of the document, Vekk activated it and Eliana appeared on the screen.

"Congratulations gentlemen you've solved the puzzle in the allotted time. You'll be released, moved to suitable quarters until I have the chance to visit you. Now, a page of instruction will appear after this link closes. I suggest you read it very carefully and follow it to the letter because failure to do so and… the last line says it all."

The link closes instructions appear with the last line saying. "Failure to follow these instructions could result in loss of life or extended incarceration." Vekk read that put the tablet down and said.

"Given her past and her current standing no doubt that is the penalty, I hope she never becomes Governor."

Zachary added the following.

"Or head of the Alliance Grand Council, why do I imaging her running through the halls screaming 'Off with their heads'?"

At that moment three guards appeared, lowered the force field, moved Vekk and Zachary to guest quarters adjacent to the security area. They settled in and awaited Eliana's arrival.

Secondary data decoded and an image set, clearer than before, was displayed. Dawn activated the three dimensional program and the object took shape….

"Ladies I'll direct your attention to the large screen you're not going to believe this."

With dimensions still being formulated, a large asteroid, with three domes on it appears. Details also indicate vessels of some kind orbiting the domes. The length, width and depth were finally calculated, overall, the asteroid measured fifty long by twenty wide by five to seven kilometers depth. Domed areas were twelve kilometers in diameter. There were also several large outbuildings at one end of the asteroid. Magnifying the domed area Scholar said.

"A city in space, a new take on generational travel, there is life, how have they survived? Gather all the details I believe its time we let Command know. I do hate being right as well."

Dawn looked at Scholar, questioning her last statement, Scholar in return pointed at the tablet. Dawn activated it and it said. 'A city in space.' Dawn placed the tablet on the table and continued to gather data. Marjee, Seelnay, and Arisa studied the images. The out buildings seen to be industrial plants of some kind these images still lacked exacting detail, but it would be several hours until the close pass high resolution images were ready. Enough data had been assembled; Dawn, Scholar and Marjee headed to the Command Center, while Arisa and Seelnay waited for the balance of the data to download and process.

Cassandra, KO and Eliana were at the Command center when Dawn and group arrived. A hurried meeting was arranged and as they were setting up Cassandra asked.

"What is it with you two, things of importance you always show up with partial data? For once I'd really like to see everything not just the 'coming attractions' "

Annoyed with this outburst Dawn turned Cassie's comment into…

"I'd like to say this is all we have for once, but before this 'coming attraction' becomes the 'feature event' you better see this… and keep a very open mind."

As Scholar starts the briefing; images from the probe appear. Once the scale of what they were dealing with became apparent, there was silence in the room, save Scholar's voice, ending with what Dawn had said.

"We've taxed our resources, but placing this data in the network, you realize what would happen if the wrong parties saw this… had we the resources we would have been able to give you the entire picture and the reason we're here now is because in three solar days that object will cross the Alliance frontier. The first outpost that will see it is the Dorian's guarding the Zon Empire's disputed areas. Could you imagine the ruckus that vessel's going to cause when it arrives?"

Cassandra leaned back in her chair laced her hands behind her head stared at the ceiling and said.

"We're not sure how old it is, where it's from, but have a good idea of where it's going… A class AA system has disappeared and they were in the neighborhood, but might or might not have had something to do with it… it contains intelligent life but we have no idea of their intentions… those domes, cities with government, or… lets assume they're capable of communicating with us, I guess a visit is in order before they show up unannounced and probably start at least a boarder dispute if not an all out shooting war. Eli, assemble everyone and come up with a plan, quickly. We should make contact with them while they're in open space. Did I forget anything?"

Stunned but not surprised Eliana said.

"I think you covered it nicely, we'll take it from here, you three be here at zero nine hundred sharp and have any other data you have gathered with you. KO, gather the commanders, my bridge in forty five minutes, and no is not an acceptable answer. Cassie, Vekk and Zachary are in 'guest' quarters. Have someone stop by and talk to them. You know those two if left unattended…"

Cassandra nodded and said she'd go see them after this meeting ended. The meeting ends, Dawn and party returned to the Village, Eliana headed to her ship and KO gather the commanders as she was instructed too. Cassandra headed to the guest quarters with one detour. Stopping at the transport office she found Captain Pratt and made this request.

"Prepare the long range high speed transport to leave at a moments notice, I'd like you to pilot it… you'll be taking Vekk and Zachary plus a diplomatic pouch with you. You'll deliver Vekk and Zachary to the Deltoke space station and tell them to stay put. You'll take the diplomatic pouch to the office of the Abh ambassador and insist; you must deliver it to him in person, and await his answer. Once that's accomplished try to contact Command if you get through you'll get further orders. If not there will be an instruction package along with the diplomatic pouch. Open it and follow those orders to the letter."

Captain Pratt had been placed in this situation before, she knew not to question, but to obey.

"Transport can be ready within an hour and it'll take another hour to heard my passengers aboard and depart. Give me two hours warning and we'll be gone."

Cassandra nodded and left. She then located the guest quarters where Zachary and Vekk were, had a conversation with them and left, knowing good and well, they didn't believe a word she had said to them. Notifying security she had them put under surveillance just incase they decided to get nosy.

Arisa and Seelnay had been working on compiling data since Dawn and group had left. They had enough success to say as Dawn entered the office…

"It's approximately fifteen centuries old, however, if its origin is, as Scholar expected, then given its present speed, the assumed distance traveled doesn't compute, unless it has an unknown ability we've not found."

Scholar had made her way to where Seelnay was standing; her take on the data displayed was…

"You're assuming that is the oldest object, and it might be. But consider this; something that old will need maintenance, what if fifteen hundred years ago there was a renovation, and it was the first thing renovated?"

Scholar's words started to make sense when compared with the dating data retrieved from the probe. It indicated various parts of the asteroid have seen transformation some as little as one hundred years ago. But it was Arisa's finding the captivated Scholar's attention. It concerned the objects around the domes.

"Communication devices and an early warning system… I wonder why each dome has its own systems wouldn't a unified…"

Arisa heard Scholar's words and had formulated a hypothesis it was now she expressed it.

"Three separate city states not unified and possibly at conflict with one and another. That would be my take on what the data shows."

No matter what regeneration had done to Scholar, there was a look, an expression that told those present, who were in the know, that she was formulating a hypothesis of her own. Arisa, being closest to her took note first and signaled the others in the room. It took five minutes, and access to the information network. Scholar faced the group and said.

"Lets make the following assumptions; first those aboard are refugees of the Sol systems collapse, if true then what happened to their Sun and what has happened to the Class AA system maybe connected. After reviewing Dai's reports of their last and only visit to the Sol system that Sun didn't go Neutron on it own… even when my group left, before the sun supposedly suffered whatever, we knew of a… I hesitate to call it a weapon… it was a prototype energy conversion device that… its one of the reasons I wanted to accompany you on this expedition, to hopefully find ancient data that would prove… that aside for the moment. If those aboard are descendants of those who abandoned the Sol system either before or after the solar disaster, they would have knowledge, or might I say some might and some might not. If that's true then what we've seen could be explained as an attempt to either unify by force or I don’t believe the destruction of one dome by the others because I'm assuming all three are required to maintain the whole."

Arisa and Seelnay were in a discussion engrossed in a data display, Dawn was moving towards them. Marjee had opened a link with Pegasus as they approached the Village the ship had taken in Scholar's conversation and was accessing data to either confirm or deny what was going on. Scholar stood motionless, it would seem she was still assembling information as well. They had two hours before they had to be back at the Command Center and at this moment they had more questions than answers.

Gathered in a conference room aboard Samson the commanders were listening to Eliana explain the present situation. Detailed information was lacking but it was decided to send an expeditionary force out to make 'first contact' with the asteroid, the discussion revolved around who was going when KO interrupted.

"Lyra has contacted me; Marjee has Pegasus accessing classified data, most of it pertaining to Dai's visit to the Sol system and comparing it to the system that vanished along the asteroid's route. I've been informed that Pegasus has filed a flight plan to intercept the asteroid, and has received tentative approval subject to Eli's release. I suggest that Marjee and I intercept the asteroid and the rest of you remain in reserve."

Although KO no longer held fleet command, she still came across as the one in charge, a fact Eli normally ignored except for this occasion. Facing her she said.

"If you're up to it, take Marjee and go, I'll move half the force to a position between Shahrazad and the Zon boarder if you get in trouble we'll be there before the dust settles."

KO accepted, however, the 'dust settles' comment, left her a bit unnerved.

To Be Continued In: Return to the Source III

"Ah! You don't know my name?
Its very simple, Lafiel you shall say.
In return I'd like to call you Jinto."



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