so it begins.
transport pod decelerated as it came close to the living beast; the small
pod moved in slow arcs first forward then to the aft as it made its way to
the control collar.
surprising, I have been on hundreds of leviathans like most Peacekeeper.
The beasts served well as large volume transports. But not till now had I
ever bother to look at one. Its massive organic shape contrasted the bulky
gray control collar we now quickly approached. I signaled the lieutenant
to slow the transport. The large structure I had seen on approach was
indeed a fully independent hetch drive manifold. I had never seen anything
like this. “Why would a leviathan need hetch drive?”
do not know, sir," the lieutenant answered quickly.
stepped from the transparency. “Well why do you think it is there?”
don’t know, sir, I have been on this supply route for over two cycles. I
have never seen it in use.” Her response angered me. She knew far more
then she was telling. I bit my lip and turned back to the view port. My
finger ran across the cold yet yielding clear plaz of the view port. “A
leviathan filled to the dench with techs and its control collar contains a
massive Argus 5 hetch drive.”
was interrupted by the chirp of the com system. “Transport 02320 Is
Captain Selton aboard?”
stepped back away from the view port and tapped my com. “Yes, Aben
ComCon, I am here we are…”
angered voice cut me off. “I understand, Captain, that you wish to
unravel the great mysteries of this command but it will have to wait.
Captain Decima out.” The com was severed.
smiled at the pilot. “You heard the captain. Head in.” I walked back
into the hold of the transport. I opened my jacket and pulled out the
Ident chip containing my new orders. “What have you gotten me into,
felt the tugging sensation in my stomach as we entered the gravity field
of the hangar of the Leviathan.
Hammond side hatchway opened and the hiss of the enviro equalizing
accompanied the popping of my inner ears. As I stepped out onto the
ladder, I had my first chance to see the spectacle. The sight caused me to
miss the next step on the ladder, causing me almost to fall off. I grinned
at the thought of falling off the transport and how it would have impacted
the first tactical evaluation of the crew. I stiffened and continued down
the rampway to the waiting review. I had been in reviews like this in
commando training and on the command carrier. I had not expected anything
like this on this dren of a command. The entire crew standing at attention
on either sides of the red mat displaying the great seal of the
Peacekeepers, the only stabilizing force in the galaxy and the outgoing
captain standing at the center of the mat.
here she appeared to be unkempt, a surprise considering the formal display
in front of me. She stood all her weight on one leg and unlike the others
she stood with an air of defiance, her arms folded tightly in front of
her. To her right were two techs. One was a small trollish looking woman
and the other, in another situation, would be well worth the chase. I could
not help but slip a small grin as I surveyed her.
stopped at the start of the mat and looked back to the Captain. She had
been a looker at one time but something aged her. Her career had burned
her out, which was not uncommon. It was a fate most good solders feared.
It is better to die in battle then be ravaged by the experience.
stepped forward unlocking her arms. “Your orders.” Her voice was
harsh, fitting her very well. The hand she held out waiting for my Ident
chip trembled slightly, not out of nervousness but from something else.
handed the chip to her. When she held the chip up, one of the command
officers stepped forward with a Dat-reader. She inserted the chip in the
reader and read the orders. Her eyes seem to sink, her weathered features
seemed to darken as she finished reading my orders.
presented the Data reader to me. I place one hand on the scanner. The
muffled chime confirmed my double helix Ident.
shifted slightly in her stance as if reacting to the sound of the Data
reader. “Welcome, Captain Ulric Selton.” She shoved the reader back at
the command officer. “By orders of High Command, as of this date 034-987
Mark 0850, Captain Ulric Selton has been assigned to command the Aben for
the glory of all.” She steadied herself. “Allow me to introduce you to
your crew.” There was a stilted formality to her voice. She made no
effort to hide her insincerity
turned to the command staff and rattled off their names and ranks. There
were twenty-two of them and they all merged into nothing in my head. I
would have to study the crew files later to memorize their names, ranks
captain then turned to the far side of the assembly. She stumbled slightly
as she walked over to the two tech’s standing in front of the rest.
Ulric Selton, this is Commander Temin Derix.”
found it strange to be introduced to a Tech so formally. It bothered me
that this small creature would be given such a title. How she would be
allowed such a position was repellent to me. But nothing is as it was or
as I had been taught it should be. I could not muster a bow but I dipped
my head. “Commander.”
little thing had a voice to match her wilted twisted form. “Captain, you
understand the rules?”
looked back at the Captain. “Rules?” I questioned if I need to answer
the little tralks question.
will speak to me directly, not to her, Captain Selton!.”
stammered slightly. I could see the enjoyment Captain Decima was having at
my expense. “Rules? Yes I understand completely. You are in command of
the project. I am here as Captain of the Leviathan and I represent the
will of High Command.”
little beast stepped closer. “Very good, Captain Selton, you might work
out.” She turned to the
woman next to her. This is my Sensor Cognatition. Lieutenant Trean Rojan.
looked up from the little gagtroll to the comfort of the beautiful woman
standing at her side. Her grin from earlier returned as if she knew
something I didn’t. “Lieutenant.” The thought of using her to gain
information was an option that could be quite pleasurable.
Decima stepped between us. “You will have plenty of time to evaluate the
assets of the position, Captain. Allow me to give you a tour of your new
command.” It was only now in close proximity to the captain did I
realize she was drunk. She had the smell of stale Fellip nectar.
followed her lead from the hangar, noticing that we were followed by two
DRDs. As we made our way through he winding passages on the way to
command, I stopped and looked back at the strange little machines. They
immediately moved to a rib or wall section as if they had some other
purpose than spying on the new captain.
Decima droned on about Aben. She is equipped with food stores in the
center chamber although the command staff tends to eat in the Rec station
on board the command collar.”
stopped and turned slightly. “The tiers below this one are command
quarters. Would you like to see them?”
mean to tell me the command staff sleeps on the leviathan?” I found this
strange. Normally the command staff lives on the control collar.
will see, Commander, we run things a little differently on board Aben.”
She patted the ribwall of the passage. “This is not some military
transport or Cell ship.” She stopped patting the wall and instead
the Decca dictates that command staff be housed only in a safe zone.
Leviathans, although controlled, are categorized as hostile and must be
treated as such.”
Selton, we each have our own command styles. You may find that for this
position the Decca will leave you lacking.” She continued down the
passage towards command, turning back only to give a fleeting smile.
once I did not respond, I silently followed behind her. We arrived in the
large central command on board the leviathan. The large projection at the
forward of command had the huge planet that they orbited filling the
were three free-standing command stations and to the Hammond side was a
tactical bench. The captain stepped just inside the hatchway. She pointed
to the control yoke. “You obviously saw the hetch drive on the control
collar. We have added controls to the manual control system to maneuver
using the hetch drive as our only source of propulsion.” She move to a
large processor mounted into the rear wall of command and pointed to the
small interface at the front of the large piece of implanted Peacekeeper
tech. “Your Ident captain.”
handed her my Ident. She placed it in the reader next to hers. “Place
your hand in the scanner.”
shifted, trying not to get too close to her. The machine’s display
confirmed idents but suddenly both of us were cut with a small blade. I
pulled my hand quickly from the machine. “What is this!” I demanded. I
had had enough from this stinking drunken tralk.
captain’s sarcastic smile returned. “I have transferred access to the
synaptic override,” she continued not looking back at me as she moved to
the nearest control console. A schematic of the leviathan appeared on the
main viewer. Four areas pulsed at the cerebral nexus of the leviathan’s
cogitate centers. “You now have the ability to sever the higher
functions of the Leviathan if anything gets out of hand.”
out of hand?”
ignored my question. “I have come close but I have never had to use it.
She slowly rubbed the edge of the control station.
anything happens and we loose control, you are to sever the leviathan’s
higher brain functions.” This statement seemed to pain her, but that
same willful grin returned.
did it sample my blood?"
smile widened “This is a
Velka One New Tech Program. The system can detect if you’re alive. A
severed hand will not activate the system.”
had heard of Velka one coding but that was usually enacted in very high
security programs. From my orders there was no mention of such a security
level. Again that gnawing pain returned as more and more of my life was
outside of my control.
will find two similar systems. One on the command of the control collar
and one on tier four, dorsal starburst talon.”
an odd location for an override.
is a large ship, Captain.” She moved to the tactical table and placed a
data crystal in the reader, allowing the image to take up the entire space
above the station.
translucent image was of the control collar. Slowly rotated in front of
us. The leviathan it captured was also projected but without detail.
Control collars are primarily large tanks that hold all the primary
iriscentent fluid, the life giving blood of the biomech. By only allowing
the beast enough to keep it alive, kept the leviathan in control. Although
certain drugs could be used in an emergency, starvation was the method of
control. Spanning between and around each of the massive tanks were seven
decks of living and working space, the control center and the hangar bay.
Six level risers spread out across the control collar that interconnected
the decks. The two central level risers spanned though the outer skin and
deep into the leviathan itself, one stopping on the tier a few deci-metras
away from command and the other terminated between the pilot’s den and
the maintenance bay.
I studied the tactical projection my interest continued to return to the
huge Argus drive mounted at the top of the control collar.
is no mention of the Hetch drive in my program briefing’ I shifted
forward. The projection detail increased.
orders are to safeguard the data and the techs at all cost if the
leviathan is lost. You are to take what data you can and return to
Peacekeeper space using the control collar as a life raft.” She passed
her shaking hand through the image. "I doubt you'll have the chance
to use it, Captain." Her tone steadied and her sarcastic smile seemed
to melt away. “Take care of the leviathan and I think you will find that
she will take care of you."
statement surprised me. But then again, it appeared from her earlier
actions she had some form of admiration for this living craft. It was
becoming obvious to me this was the reason for her demotion. She has gone
native. The captain had become attached to this alien. Irreparably
contaminated. I had witnessed this before on Delvia. Even Crais flaunted
his attraction to those creatures. Again the repulsion returned but now it
was different. I could not place the emotion; if I didn't know better
I’d say it was envy. I derailed these strange emotions. I tried to
ignore the comment and changed the direction of the conversation. “I
assume you command from the Command Node on the control collar.”
Decima motioned to the hatchway. “Correct Captain, all systems are
monitored on the Command Node. We station a security officer here on the
leviathan. Duty rotation of 10 Arns.”
was puzzled. “Why do you have security stationed here?”
headed out toward the level riser. “It is easier to show you captain.”
arrived at the gray cylinder that pierced through the ceiling of the
corridor and continued down through the floor of this tier. The level
riser was literally punctured deep into the leviathan. The biomaintenance
system had healed around the intruding cylinder. On the far side, the
riser waited for us. It was pressure sealed and as the outer and inner
doors sealed my eardrums protested the pressure increase.
level riser took only a microt to reach the command node. The doors parted
and we exited into a very different world.
inside of the control collar was an open framework of two large tanks,
level risers and hundreds of decimetras of plumbing and other such tech.
the rear, I could make out the hangar area with the large airlock doors
closed unless needed.
me I could see through the spans of catwalks the two amnexus tanks that
flanked us on both sides. The command node was here at the center of the
stopped at the sealed door of the command node. Your prowler was delivered
to the hangar bay on board the leviathan. There is not enough room in the
maintenance bay of the collar to house it.”
will be fine.” I felt the tug of wanting to see it. Once I had finished
my duty cycle I would head out for a run through the system. “How many
fighters are on duty?”
are four prowlers and two Durka Class Marauders. I have scheduled reviews
separately with the flight team. I assumed that with your history that you
would want to review capabilities more closely.”
I would.” I was not surprised by her assumption Unlike herself I was
merely a pilot being given this command I had not the training nor
elevated training she had had in preparation for this program. My orders
did not explain the reason for her retrieval I did not expect to be told,
but now standing here it was obvious that she was impacted by this ship.
This alien. I was dumbfounded by the mere concept.
stumbled twice while walking to the end of the central accessway. We
stopped at the entrance to the command node.
she keyed the lock the heavy blast door parted and she stood to the side
to allow me to enter first. Suddenly she blocked my path and shifted
closer to me. It took all I could muster to not shove her back. Although I
was captai,n I would not have an incident my first day of command. I
turned to face her. The smell of Fellip nectar seemed to emanate from
every pore of her withered body.
captain, I am sure you have the ability of looking beyond first
impressions?" She shifted back from me slowly turning to looking at
the Peacekeeper immersed in his work at the tactical station.
him a chance, Captain." There was an unusual solemnity to her
stepped away from her. "Captain, I am uncertain of your methods of
command. Mine are simple – follow the doctrine of the Decca and you will
be rewarded. Fail and I have no use for you here." I looked down at
her arm still blacking my path. "Its that simple."
lowered her arm and I walked into the small chamber. The Command node was
configured like a Headron class Marauder’s command deck. This is
unsurprising considering their functionality was similar. Why waste
training on a new system when duplicity allows for a wider range of
officer standing at the tactical did not hear our approach. I watched over
his shoulder as he reviewed the systems data at a speed that was almost
impossible. He could not be absorbing this data at that speed. Finally
Captain Decima spoke. "Officer Novus." His concentration snapped
like a shock grenade and he steadied himself on the edge of the table. If
it weren’t for that I would have gambled a months rations he would have
fallen on the decking. "Hezmana! Here I am trying to review for our
inspection!" He reinstated the data file on the projection. "Our
new captain wants a full systems briefing in three arns!"
cracked the slightest smile as I stepped further forward. "Lets make
that briefing now, Commander!"
spun around quickly almost falling over his own feet as he did.
"Captain!” He nervously brushed back his hair.
Decima walked between us. I swear I could see his heart pounding in his
Selton, This is my first officer Dun Novus. "C-Captain!" He
bowed his head quickly.
at ease." I walked up next to him looking at the projection of the
leviathan and its control collar highlighted.
moved up next to me pulling the projection out so we could see all the
vital systems of the leviathan and its control collar. He started at the
locking system and within fifty microts we were finishing with the
leviathans waste vent manifold. I did not understand a fifth of what he
reviewed but I was not about to let him know that. "Very impressive,
Commander." I looked back at Captain Decima who was obviously
relieved by my veneer of acceptance.
turned back to my new first officer. "Officer Novus, what do you know
of the program that the techs are performing in the pilots den?"
den?" He quickly looked back at Captain Decima.
did not ask the question, Commander I did." I was surprised by his
reaction. He seemed to be easily confused to the point of dysfunction. If
we had a crisis how would he function.
that information is coded Decca 1, need to know. I do not have that
clearance.” He seemed to shrug slightly as he spoke. And his head
remained slightly lowered. His demeanor bothered me.
shoved him in the shoulder with one hand. I had to grab him with my other
to keep him from falling over backward. "Stand up straight,
Commander! You are a Peacekeeper officer not some server!"
I shoved him back taking a long look at him.
His hair was long, too long, not to Peacekeeper regs. I paced in front of him as the kennel masters use to do to us
in training back on the breeding colony. "You just reported for
nearly an arn on the status of this leviathan’s systems. Do not tell me
you do not have some suspicions on what they are doing in there!" My
hand passed through the leviathans projection. I found my temper too
easily with this spineless creature. It was if I was taking out my own
anger over this situation on the most ill suited to handle my wrath.
all of my monitoring of key leviathan systems show nothing. Whatever they
are doing does not seem to be effecting A-Aben herself."
this moment, Commander, If you see anything that is out of the ordinary
you will report it to me immediately. Are we locked commander?”
stood up straighter, his chin almost sinking into his chest. "Sig
turned back to leave. The baleful gaze of the former captain met me at the
hatchway. I headed out past her and she stumbled as she caught up next to
Decima, I do not need a lecture by you as to my command style. You have
shown me the ship and its crew. Your transport leaves in two Arns. Is
there anything else you would like to show me before you leave?”
Commander, your quarters assignment is at section two of this deck."
She stopped at the level risers.
will take my leave of you Captain."
stopped and looked back at her. the anger I felt was propelled by my own
guilt. I had lost my temper too easily, I never found that ability to stow
that anger, To channel it to my work. It always just exploded.
Captain." I bowed respectfully.
"For the glory of all." She disappeared into the level
riser and I turned looking back down the long corridor. I had no idea
where I was and knew better then to comm anyone for assistance. I was
familiar with the layout of leviathans, every Peacekeeper was, but the
control collar had always been restricted.
jaunt to eternity
stood at the entry of the transport I had arrived in less then six arns
earlier. I commed Captain Decima but she did not answer. She was probably
off getting dren-faced. I commed Novus. “Commander, where is Captain
don’t know, Captain.” There was the long silence before he continued.
“Would you like me to find her?”
paced at the base of the Rampway. Frelling
Null head! I swore silently that Novus would be on the next transport.
“If it would not be too much trouble, Commander!”
now captain. She is on tier fourteen… The terrace. Her comms are active, she is simply not responding."
I headed to the level riser. Regardless what it took, I would be rid of
found my way down the long narrow corridor that flanked the Hammond side
of Aben's dorsal vertebrae. The hatchway to the terrace was closed. "Novus,
get her on comms now!"
keyed the red orb by the entrance. The hatchway was locked. As my
frustration rose to the surface as I slammed the hatch with my fist.
still not responding Captain.”
stood back from the large hatch "Well get Pilot to open this hatch.
Novus stammered as he responded. "Ye... Yes, Captain..."
Commander Derix’s shrill voice broke in. "Captain Selton.” She
seemed to take a breath every few words. "We are not to be
Derix, have Pilot open the hatchway to the terrace!”
is going on, Captain? We will have to discuss your attitude. We are about
to start critical trials and cannot be disrupted like this!."
NOW!" I grit my teeth as I tried to change my approach.
"Commander Derix, we have a serous situation here!" My jaw
protested. "Please! Commander, I will brief you as soon as
we..." I was interrupted by the hatchway to the terrace parting.
stood at the far rim of the environmental blister. Beyond, half the sky
was filled with the violet clouds of the planet we orbited. She had her
back to me, in one hand a large bottle of Fellip nectar in the other a
entered the terrace slowly. I spoke calmly. She was obviously drunk as she
seemed to sway back and forth slightly. "Captain Decima, your
transport is waiting."
beautiful, isn't it?”
pointed out at the view with her pulse gun. The tip of the gun glowed
violet as it struck the translucent energy blister.
are you doing here, Captain?”
Selton... Ulric... You are a very lucky man." She took a deep swig of
her bottle. " All you have to do is open you eyes." She suddenly
laughed. “But I don’t know if you have the capability.”
continued out onto the decking of the terrace. I found it unnerving being
out in the open like this with only a thin energy barrier between us and
the unyielding vacuum of space. She suddenly turned around to face me her
face wet with tears.
Ulric, go back inside. I will be alone!" She raised her pulse gun her
hand, surprisingly steady. She looked up at the control collar that loomed
over the forward half of the leviathan. “Look at it, Ulric.” pointing
up over my head.
suppress them, we enforce our will upon them, we subjugate them, yet we
don't understand!” She shook the gun at control collar. “That hideous
mass whose only purpose is to starve this being.”
did not look back in the direction she was pointing, I kept an eye on her
gun. If I was a little closer I had a good chance of taking her down. I
took a slow step forward.
the decking in front of me exploded in fire. "Don't frell with me,
Ulric!" She chuckled pointing the barrel at my head. “You don't
understand. But you might… Someday… Now go back inside!"
commed. “Captain, what’s going on?”
officer, Novus. Selton Out! Captain Decima..." I struggled to keep my
anger under control. I was not going to have this drunken tralk frell up
my first day of command. I lowered my voice. "Haru... No, I don't
understand. Please let me help you. No one has to know what has happened
here. We can head to your transport and this situation will not be
laughed again. "Such a good Peacekeeper, Ulric. No you can't help me,
Ulric." She fired another pulse at the floor in front of me I stepped
back. "Go back inside! That was your last warning!"
are you going to do, Haru?" With those words I was almost knocked
over by the blast and pain in my shoulder. I spun around and caught my
footing. I steadied myself, crouching, ready to react. I turned slightly
to survey my position from the hatchway. I calculated how I could maneuver
to cover of the hatchway.
fear, Ulric, you are too good of a Peacekeeper to understand." She
fired again, but it was wide. The pulse penetrated the environmental
blister and waves violet energy filled in the hole created by the blast.
In an instant the area was invisible again. I leaped towards the
hatchway, landing at the base of the open hatch. She fired again. I pushed
off the open hatch. An energy bolt struck the back of my leg and I landed
against the far wall of the hatchway fighting the wave of nausea as the
smell of burnt flesh stung my nostrils.
looked back from my position she tapped her com with her hand still
holding her precious bottle of Fellip nectar. "Sanfor
hatchway sealed. It took a moment to sink in. I had heard of Peacekeepers
learning a primitive version of the Pilot’s race language. But not like
that. She spoke in complex Pilot. That enigma could wait. I had to get her
out of there and off this ship! I
commed Novus! “Round up a security detail and meet me at outside the
going on up there, Captain?"
get a detail up here along with a med tech." I looked down at
the smoldering leg. It was strange there was little blood and the pin
prick pain was not as I had expected. Her pulse gun must have had low
Derix chimed “Captain, what’s going on?”
Derix, I am a little busy at the moment. I will present a report
shortly.” I closed my com and tried to stand. My shoulder protested more
than my leg, although I needed the rib wall to support my weight. I
maneuvered to the locking indicator. It was red - she had somehow locked
the hatchway. I keyed the orb trying to override the command but it was no
is that tralk doing?” I realized I was speaking aloud. There was a small
shiver in the deck plates and the indicator showed the environmental
blister collapsed and that the other side of the hatchway was open to
vacuum. The frelling tralk had spaced herself. I didn’t care how she had
run this command I was not about to report her I just wanted her off my
problems were not mine now. No this…The report I would have to send in
would not reflect well my first day of command.
What she had said seemed to reverberate in my head. She had gone
native, irreparably contaminated, nothing more. Yet something dug in like
a blade that I couldn’t shake.
arrived with three of his security detail. He keyed the data report of the
hatchway. "What the frell happened?"
Decima just spaced herself!” I stepped closer to my first officer.
“What kind of monitoring systems are set up on the control
collar?” I was surprised that I had difficulty standing I leaned back my
good shoulder propped against the support rib of the corridor.
didn’t respond quickly. It was as if I could see the firing of his
synapses as he caught up to speed. My first impressions were correct; how
the skew got a command position was beyond me.
want to see if we recorded her on the terrace?”
Commander.” I stopped before saying any more, my frustration with his
lack of speed or immediacy seemed to fade on its own.
will check Captain. We should get you up to the infirmary. I will retrieve
yet, Commander.”. I had to concentrate on the systems of the Aben and
the interface with the control collar. “Did you know that she spoke
the long delay before response. “Yes, Captain, that was why she was
initially chosen for this assignment. He smiled at the sealed hatch. “I
speak a little myself but I am rated a 0.4, she was a 0.9 proficiency.”
For the first time there was a hint of sadness from the loss of his former
she collapse the blister from out there?
Or would she need help from someone inside to override the blister
controls? We need to talk to the pi… The pilot must know what…” The
link in the chain of thoughts broke.
I slowly slid down the wall, my vision slightly blurred. Suddenly I
realized I was sitting in a large puddle of blood. "Frell me the
tralk got me better then I thought." Novus’s voice was drowned out
by the sound of my own beating heart. As I slipped from reality I heard
the strangest songs. All I could think of were the long tonal chants of
the monks on Delvia. Frelling noise pounded in my head. The blackness that
seemed to smother me was followed by the strangest sensation. I was
weightless, the darkness was replaced with the images of four leviathans
orbiting a gas giant. Two older ones flanked the smaller one, tucked
behind it was its calf.
End Part Two