Year three in the Voyage of Andromeda. The adventure that started in Among the Stars, and Beyond the Farthest Planet continues in Far From Home.
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CHAPTER 4 A
Natalia and Kate left the front room just as the door opened. The aliens walked in and looked at Kacey. They were as tall as she was. One walked to her stepping into her personal space. She held her ground. The alien had burnished skin with coal black eyes. Their ears were slits in the sides of the overly large head. The hair that grew from the back of an otherwise bald head, was thick and fell down their backs.
"You came off the big ship?"
"I did. Do you have a problem with that?" Kacey's hand rested on the butt of her gun.
"Ships with those same markings destroyed some of my friend's ships."
"Yes. Were you on a planet with simple residents?"
"Is there something special about that planet?"
"Not at all. We were minding our own business, digging fuel out of the ground, when many ships attacked us."
"I am sorry to hear that." Kacey stated. "What sort of fuel?"
"That is not important. Why have you come here?"
"Just visiting and not looking for any trouble." Kacey stated.
"Good. Just make sure you stay out of our business and no one needs to get hurt."
"Is that a threat?"
"Then call off your dogs." Kacey ordered.
"Dogs? We have no dogs."
"The ones who have been following us."
"They are only there to make sure you are what you claim."
"Well I have a slight problem with that."
"Oh what is that?"
"You see I am a Marine. Marines do not take kindly to being threatened. I will say this once and I hope you do what I am about to tell you. GET. OUT. OF. MY. FACE. AND. LEAVE. MY. PEOPLE. ALONE." She spoke each word slowly.
"You are the leader?"
"Then make sure you stay out of our business. You do that and you will all leave here safely."
Kacey's hand moved to grasp the butt of the gun at the threat. The door opened to admit several enforcers. The two stepped apart.
"Colonel O'Malley, is there a problem?"
"Enforcer Adone, No problems sir." Kacey answered. "We were just talking."
"Talking? Why did I receive word that there was a fight?" He stated. "I need to see your arrival papers." He spoke to the alien. The alien pulled his papers from his pocket. Adone looked them over.
"You are off the ore carrier?"
"Colonel, what brings you to this shop?"
"My family and I were out enjoying your beautiful city, when this gentleman started talking to me."
"Do you agree with Colonel O'Malley?"
"I agree." The alien stated.
"According to your papers, you time is almost up. I suggest you return to your ship before your pass expires." He handed the papers back to the alien." Adone stated. "Do not forget to take your friends with you." The alien quickly left the store." Follow them. Make sure they get back to their ship." He told the enforcers with him. The enforcers nodded and left. They watched the aliens walk toward the terminal. He turned back to Kacey. "Colonel in this city, giving false information to an enforcer is a very serious offense. We have had other problems with the Limari since they arrived. Now that we are alone, I will give you another chance to explain what I walked in on."
"Enforcer Adone, we really were talking. Or rather he was threatening me."
"Do you know the Limari?"
"Not really. Would you mind if I ask the Captain to come out here?"
Kacey pressed her communicator. Within seconds Kate came into the room.
"Enforcer Adone, it is nice to see you again." Kate said.
"Captain, perhaps you could tell me what is going on? How do you know the Limari?"
"The Limari? Is that who they are?" Kate asked. "We came across them several months ago when we were on Brin. They forced the residents of the planet to live underground while they raided their planet of an ore. They are also responsible for kidnapping several Vernans to mine this dangerous mineral."
"You are sure of this?"
"Yes sir. While we were on Brin they attacked us. Our ships were able to bring down several of their vessels and rescue many Vernans prisoners, that we will return to their home world on our way home."
"Captain what is the real reason for your visit?"
"As I told you yesterday. we are just visiting before we head back home."
"Yes. Good memory."
"I would advise you to avoid the Limari until they leave this world."
"I agree Enforcer. We really were just minding our own business when they bothered us."
"You said they were mining a dangerous mineral?"
"We call it trilithium. Our scientists found it to be very corrosive and highly explosive. It can be used as a fuel." Kate said. "It may have other uses, but once our scientists discovered it's destructive properties we left it alone."
"Captain, you are allowed to remain here for two weeks. I certainly hope that if you have any problems with the Limari, you seek assistance instead of handling it yourselves."
"They are leaving so we should not have any more trouble with them."
"Just because they are supposed to leave does not necessarily mean they all will. There are many places for people to hide in Micari. Be very careful, Captain. Not everyone can be trusted and they are known for having friends in high places."
"We will be careful, Enforcer Adone." Kacey stated.
"Make sure all your people are on your ship each night."
"Our people have already been informed of that."
"Very good Captain. I think I have taken up enough of your time for one day. Enjoy you time on Micari." He tipped his hat. "Captain, Colonel?" The enforcer left the shop, The sisters looked at each other.
"That was interesting." Kacey stated.
"That little sister is an understatement."
"Who called the law?"
"I asked the clerk to." Kate answered.
"I could be insulted, Kate. That Limari was just a punk that I could have handled without any problem."
"Both of them? There were two."
"You forget Mike was here. I was not alone." Kacey said. "So how bad has mom and dad gone overboard?"
"Let's put it this way, how much can you carry?" Kacey paled. "Relax, I am only kidding. They have made a few purchases, and not all for your children."
"That is good to hear. What do you say, we get our families and go find a place where they have coffee?"
They wandered around the city through the day. Many shops saw a rise in their profits after they left. Lunch was eaten in a sidewalk restaurant, while they watched the crowds walk by. Kacey and Mike continued to scan the crowds for anyone who would threaten the residents of Andromeda.
Several times during the afternoon, Kacey thought she caught sight of the Limari in the crowd. Evening lights were coming on as they made their way back to Andromeda. Everyone was loaded down with packages. The terminal was much quieter than when they first went through.
Inside Andromeda, they divided their purchases and went to their quarters. Kate dropped the packages she carried on the love seat and flopped down on the couch. Anya carried her packages into the bedroom. Their girls went into their bedroom and emptied their bags on the beds. They giggled as they looked over everything their grandparents bought them, to their mothers' dismay.
Kate rested her feet on the coffee table and put her head back. Her eyes closed. Anya came out of their bedroom. She smiled at Kate with her eyes closed and her feet up. "Girls put your things away and get ready for bed." She said.
"Yes mama." They replied together.
Anya went to Kate and knelt next to her. She removed her boots and massaged first one foot then the other.
"That feels heavenly darling." Kate sighed as Anya continued to rub her sore feet. "We must have walked at least a hundred kilometers today."
"I doubt that Kate. The city is not that big." Anya stated. "Could it be that you still spend too much time behind your desk? You can not expect to keep up with Kacey."
"Are you saying I am old and out of shape?"
"Personally I love you shape, but face it Kate, neither of us is a match for Kacey. Even Natalia was looking worn out."
"It should be against the law to have that much energy." Kate complained which caused Anya to laugh.
"Bridge to Captain Jensen."
CHAPTER 4 B
Kate sighed. "Sometimes it really sucks to be the Captain." She said. "Go ahead Bridge."
"Captain, Premier Tott would like to speak to you."
"Transfer the call to my quarters."
"Anya would you call Kacey and have her come over please?"
Anya nodded and pressed the private message button on her communicator while Kate went to her desk. The computer screen lit up. The face that looked back at her was round. Beady eyes looked at her.
"Captain Jensen, I am Premier Tott, the head official of the city of Miceri. I apologize for not getting in touch with you on your arrival."
Anya opened the door to admit Kacey. Kate motioned her to come closer. "That is quite all right Premier. I understand the demands of office."
"Yes those of us who are in charge have a heavy burden to carry. Would you be available for a lunch meeting tomorrow?"
"Your command crew officers are also invited."
"That is very kind of you, Premier. I will notify my officers."
"Shall we say at midday?"
"That is acceptable."
"I will have my driver pick you up say thirty minutes before midday?"
"We will be waiting for him. There will be a total of six persons." The screen went dark. Kate turned to Kacey and Anya. "Is it just me or did he seem overly friendly?"
"He certainly, as you like to put it, got my goblin meter running. He looks like he has never done an honest days work in his life."
"I agree, Kate." Anya stated. "He even has my goblin meter doing sprints."
Kate pressed her communicator, Commander O'Malley, Lt Commander Rhea Torino, Lt Colonel Anderson, Lt Commander Bella Torino please come to the Captain's quarters."
"Roger Captain, Aye lass, On our way, Captain." The voices replied.
Kate sat on the couch and put her boots back on. The door chimed. "Come in." She called out. The officers filed in. Patricia and Natalia also arrived. Kate waited until everyone sat down. Anya checked on the girls. Satisfied they were in their pajamas and playing quietly, she pulled the door closed. She went into the kitchen, brought out bottles, glasses and filed the ice bucket. She placed everything on a tray which she carried into the living room.
The officers helped themselves to drinks and waited for Kate to speak. "I received a call from Premier Tott, who is the head of the government here. We are invited to a lunch meeting at twelve hundred hours tomorrow. A transport will pick us up at eleven thirty hours."
"Why call us over. You could have told us over the communicator." Rhea stated.
"Yes I know, but,..."
"Is it three for three, Kate? Is your goblin meter running laps also?"
"It is more than running laps. After our visit with the Limari, and the warning that Enforce Adone passed on, this call seemed to be just a little too convenient."
"I am so glad you picked up on that, Kate. I must be rubbing off on you." Kacey joked.
"Weirder things have happened." Kate shot back.
"So what do we do to protect ourselves?" Anya asked.
"Video locks have worked before. I suggest that the second we leave Andromeda tomorrow we are all on video lock." Mike suggested.
"That will only take us so far, Mike." Kacey said. "I agree with the video lock, but we have no way of knowing if there is anything in the area that would disrupt the video."
"Our communicators have trackers in them." Liam offered.
"Worse case scenario, dad, those could be taken away from us." Kacey stated.
"Do you have a suggestion?" Anya asked.
"Internal trackers. It can not be anything that all of us wear such as clothing or jewelry."
"Are you saying we swallow the trackers? Or are they injected into us." Kate asked.
"Either or both will work." Kacey stated.
"Both?" Kate asked.
"Yes, think about it. When you swallow anything it is only a matter of time before it is eliminated. Injected trackers last longer, but are more easily detected if they look for them."
"So we use both. How good do they work?" Anya asked.
Kacey cleared her throat. "They work very well, Anya." Mike stated.
"Is this something you would care to explain?" Kate asked.
"Do you remember when Kacey disappeared on Brin, I told you that the only way anyone would find her was if she wanted to be found? That was not an exaggeration."
"We had to use the sensors and scanners to find her that day. What does that have to do with the trackers?"
Mike looked at Kacey. "Go ahead and tell her. If I do it will sound like bragging."
When we were at the Academy we were trained in avoiding detection and how to track those who were trying to avoid the searchers. To pass the course you had to avoid detection. The longer you avoided being found the higher your grade. We were all injected with trackers which only the instructors could follow. We were given one week's rations and a two hour head start."
"I still do not see what that has to do with this?"
"Kacey was the only one who was able to elude those looking for her for the full seven days. The instructor was the only person who knew where she was.
"The trackers work Kate. The newer ones have a protective covering on them to make them less detectable. They transmit at an extremely low frequency, that can not be picked up by regular scanners."
"Do you have these trackers and receivers?"
"We have them." Kacey stated. "Both types."
"When do you want to do this?"
"The sooner the better at least for the injected trackers. That way we can get them broadcasting. The others can be swallowed just before we leave."
All right. Let's get this done." Kate stated.
Mike left and returned a short time later with the trackers, receiver and Major Williams. They loaded the trackers into the syringe like devise and injected each officer in the arm. As soon as the trackers were injected the receiver picked up their signals.
The office in the Premier's home was filled with acrid smoke as the group around the desk puffed on cigars. The office was large with heavy ornate furniture. Floor to ceiling windows behind the desk were covered by heavy drapes
that were closed to keep their business from prying eyes. The Premier himself was a large person whose bulk over flowed the chair he sat in.
"You are certain Captain Ijian that the Andromeda crew was responsible for the loss of the last ore shipment?"
"I am sir. We were in an air flight for over an hour. I would recognize those markings anywhere. Not only did we lose five ships, but also the crews and the slaves we used to mine the ore. Now we have to run the risk of raiding other planets for more slaves." The Captain stated. "That ship cost us millions that we need to replace one way or another."
"What do you have in mind? I draw the line at murder."
"Killing them will not replace the cash we lost. We spirit away the women and hold them for ransom. I am sure the crew will pay any amount we demand to get their women back. My people tell me the women were quite beautiful. They could also be put to work in the pleasure houses. There are ways to keep them compliant to our wishes."
"How will you separate the women?"
He pulled a bottle from the briefcase by his feet. "Serve them this very special wine at lunch. The men will be left in the transport near the terminal. The women will be taken to a very special place to keep them quiet."
"I have your word that they will not be killed."
"You have my word, Tott. They are worth far more alive than dead, especially the women. Just make sure you do your part, Tott. We have a backup plan in the event they do not drink the wine. We can both profit very nicely from this and you get to keep you nice cushy job."
The trackers were turned on, injected and transmitting. The receiver picked up each blip. They were all handed a second tracker they would swallow before they left the next day.
Kate angered Bella when she told her that she would remain behind. Kacey pulled Mike aside before they went to their quarters.
"Dress uniforms with the special tunics, belt and boots. No sabers. Nothing that would look like a weapon."
To be continued...
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