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 5 A
Kate walked out of the bedroom in her dress uniform. She handed her pips to Anya to place on her collar. They had a few minutes before her officers arrived. She kissed Anya.
"Thank you darling." She stated and walked to the table where a fresh coffee waited. "I think my imagination is going crazy today."
"Why is that my Kate?"
"I think I can feel that tracker buzzing around in my stomach."
"I believe we can chalk that up to nerves." Anya stated.
The door chimed. Kate looked at the monitor. "Come in." She called out. Kacey entered followed by Natalia, Rhea, Mike and Liam.
"I will not stay long as I know you have more plans to make. I just wanted to see you all before you leave." Natalia said. "You will all be careful. Please?"
"Natalia we have several precautions in place in the event that this is more than what it seems." Kate reassured her.
"Thank you Kate. I just needed to hear it from you." Natalia stated.
"Remember what I said, under no circumstances are you to leave Andromeda today."
"We have plans today. You mother is going to show me a new recipe."
"Patsy has been told the same thing." Liam stated.
"Has Bella calmed down from last night?" Kate asked.
"It took some work, but yes. She is not happy about being in charge, but she is ready." Rhea reported.
"The trackers are all working and transmitting." Mike told them.
"That is good to hear. Wait no sabers today?"
"Not today. We do not want them to think we have any sort of weapons on us."
"But you do?" Kate asked. "Where?"
"That would be telling Kate."
"Bridge to Captain Jensen."
"Go ahead Bridge."
"Enforcer Adone would like to speak to you."
"What now." Kate sighed. "Bring him to my quarters."
"Talia, I will walk you over to mom's." Kacey stated. They walked out. Kacey returned within a short time. Minutes later, Enforcer Adone was escorted to Kate's quarters.
"Captain, I heard you were meeting Premier Tott for a lunch meeting."
"Please be very careful."
"He is not to be trusted. We have been watching him for several months. We know he is working with the Limari. They are involved with bringing in slaves for the pleasure houses, as well as gambling, addictive substances, bribes and ridiculous laws. More and more unsavory races like the Limari have been visiting our world."
"What do you suggest we do?"
"I am going to take a chance here. I believe you can be trusted and will work with us. Premier Tott was seen in a meeting with several Limari leaders and others like them, last night."
"So we are in the middle of a pissing contest between factions." Kacey stated.
"I do not understand what a pissing contest is. If it means battles between those who want to help all the citizens and those who only want to keep the city poor while they line their pockets, then yes it is a pissing contest."
"So now we know where the twenty first century Republicans disappeared to after they worked to start the last war." Kacey said sarcastically.
"Please Enforcer Adone, do not get her started on politicians." Kate asked.
He smiled. "Be very careful. Do not eat or drink anything that Tott has not taken first. If that is not possible eat and drink sparingly. I also want to give you all these pills." He handed each two pills. "These will protect you for several hours. One is to protect you against all known poisons. The other will lessen the effect of most drugs you might ingest. We have people ready to go in and get you out if needed." He stated. "Captain, your people are doing the citizens of Micari and the planet of Terra a great service."
"We hope we can help sir." Kacey stated.
"Then I will leave you to wait for the Premier's transport. Remember you are not alone." He left with his escort.
"After listening to Enforcer Adone, I regret agreeing to this meeting." Kate stated. "Be truthful, are we going to this meeting with some protection other than the trackers and those pills?"
"Kate, Mike and I are carrying weapons." Kacey admitted. "Also if the tiny bump in Rhea's waist is any indication, so is she."
"Good eye, Kacey. Yes I also have a weapon, Kate."
"Were you going to let me in on that little fact?"
"Nope. The less you know, the better off you will be."
"Just how do you figure that?"
"Rhea, Mike and I are trained to carry concealed weapons. You are not. Please trust us."
"All right." Kate stated. "Let's get this show on the road."
They left their quarters and headed off Andromeda into the terminal where their the transport waited. The driver opened the door or them. The transport pulled away from the terminal. Kate spied Enforcer Adone. She nodded to him. The vehicle sped through the city to the Premier's residence. The palatial building gleamed in the late morning sun. A long winding lane led up to the grand stair case. The gate closed behind them with a loud clang. Liveried footmen hurried down the staircase and opened the doors.
Kate stepped out first, followed closely by Kacey. Liam and Anya followed then Rhea and Mike. The footmen led the way up the stairs into the residence. The Premier stood in the middle of a grand foyer. Large expensive looking paintings and tapestries lined the walls. Ornate vases stood by each doorway and held strange looking flowers. The Premier was near the entrance table. Kacey and Mike removed their hats and gloves which they tucked under their arms. Tott was not a tall man. His portly bulk strained the fabric of his tunic. Feral cold cat eyes looked out at them. His skin was a warm brown. The only part of him that could be considered warm.
"Greetings Captain. I am Premier Tott. Welcome to my home. I apologize again for not being here yesterday to greet you when you arrived. I was tied up with labor disputes most of the day."
"Premier, an apology is not necessary." Kate said.
"Who have you brought with you?"
"I would like to introduce my First Officer, Commander Liam O'Malley, the head of Security, Lt. Commander Rhea Torino, Head of the Science and Star Navigator, Lt. Commander Anya Jensen. Head of our Marine force, Colonel Kirsten O'Malley. Her second in command Lt. Colonel Michael Anderson."
"Greetings Welcome to the city of Micari." He stated. "I would like to introduce my Minister of Defense, Vil. Minister of Commerce, Duli. Minister of Labor, Genda." Each bowed slightly. Duli set Kacey's teeth on edge as his beady eyes took in every inch of the women's bodies while barely looking at the men. She felt Mike and Liam stiffen beside her.
"Come, lunch is being served. We can talk while we eat." The Premier turned and waddled into the large formal dining room. They took their seats. Finely dressed waiters filled the crystal wine glasses with a dark liquid. Kacey noticed that the visitors were served from a different carafe as the Terrans. The Premier stood. He held his glass up. "To making new friends. I hope your stay in our lovely city is a pleasant one." He saluted the crew and raised his glass before taking a large swallow.
Kacey looked at Kate and gave a slight shake of her head. Kate returned the gesture with a tiny smile to show that she understood. The members of the crew pretended to take a sip of the wine.
"This is very good, Premier. Is it a local wine?" Kacey asked.
"It is indeed. A very special vintage from our fruits." The Premier responded. "Captain your papers say you are from Earth. Where is that?"
"Many hundred of billions of kilometers from here. We are explorers and the first star traveler to venture past all our known planets."
"Did it take you long to get here?"
"We are in the third year of our journey. We begin our return trip once we leave here."
Finely dressed waiters placed filled plates in front of them.
"Tell me Colonel, what is the function of a Marine? Is that the correct name?"
"That is correct Premier. Marines are just one branch of the defense forces on Earth. There are also Army, Navy, Air Force and Space Force." Kacey explained. "Our main function on this mission is protection and defense of the crew and residents of Andromeda."
"Why would a peaceful mission need defense and protection?"
"We have been into uncharted space since our second year. We had no way of knowing what lay beyond our known space."
"Have you had to fight many battles?"
"We have had to defend ourselves a couple times when we came under attack."
"For the most part it has been a fairly quiet voyage." Kate added.
The watched the Premier and his ministers begin to eat before they started. They made sure they only touched the same foods the Terrans did and only took small bites.
"You mentioned you are having labor problems?"
"Ah yes. Does your planet have such things?"
"We did. I believe every civilization has basically the same problems." Kate stated.
"Really? How was it handled?"
"Decent wages, safe working conditions, regular time off for relaxation."
"Does this work for you?"
"It took a long time for the politicians to realize that happy well paid workers are more productive." Kacey said.
"Please Premier, do not get her started on that. My sister has very little good to say about how the long dead politicians almost destroyed our world."
"You are sisters?"
Kacey took a sip from the water glass. "We are. Commander O'Malley is our father."
"I can see the resemblance. And you Commander Jensen are you also a sister?"
"Actually Premier, I am Captain Jensen's spouse."
"I see. Captain, what is the real reason for your visit?"
"The real reason is that it was on our way. So far Terra is the closet to Earth that we have found. We were intrigued that such an Earth like planet was out here."
"How are you enjoying your time here?"
"Very well. We did some looking around yesterday and made a few of the merchants very happy when our parents and partners decided to go shopping."
An aide entered and whispered in the Premier's ear. He frowned and nodded. "Captain, I apologize for having to cut our lunch short, but I was just informed of a problem that needs my immediate attention."
"That is not a problem sir. We understand." The crew stood.
"My footman will see you out. Perhaps before you leave our fair planet we can visit again."
"We look forward to that." The Premier and his ministers hurried out. Footman appeared to show them to the transport. Kacey noticed the different vehicle as they were ushered in. The doors closed and the transport started, The window between the compartments closed. As soon as the transport lifted, the outside windows darkened and gas flooded the compartment. They tried to open the windows. Within seconds they were unconscious.
CHAPTER 5 B
The transport carried the away team to a back alley in the city. The women were carried unconscious into the basement of a seedy looking building. After several minutes their captors came out of the basement and headed to another transport. The men were taken back to the terminal. The driver parked the transport and left the area.
"Commander the video just came back on." The communications officer stated. Bella looked up from the Engineering console she was working on. The watched the drama unfold and she moved to the command chair.
"Commander Torino, we have a problem." Major Williams called out.
"What is it?" Bella demanded from the command chair on the Bridge.
"The trackers are no longer together. Four are in one location and are stationary. The other two show they are in transit and close by. No wait. Those two are now stationary and extremely close."
"Less than two thousand meters.
"Send armed guards out to check the area."
"Yes ma'am. I will send the guards out immediately."
"Send out the Emergency Return to Andromeda signal to every person who is off ship." She ordered. "What does the video lock show? Video shows that the women have been drugged and taken into a building. Run the video backwards we need to find out exactly what happened." They watched the video. "Stop." Bella ordered. "No go forward." They watched the away team walk out of the residence and into the transport. "Get in touch with Enforcer Adone."
"Any ideas how Commander?"
"FIND A GOD DAMN WAY." She yelled. "I DO NOT CARE HOW YOU DO IT, JUST DO IT."
"Yes ma'am." The officer stated.
"Major Taggart to Commander Torino."
"Go ahead Major."
"We have Commander O'Malley and Lt. Colonel Anderson. Both are unconscious. The driver of the transport is no where around."
"Do you need medical assistance?"
"I have already called for it ma'am. I have also asked the Port Master to contact The authorities." Major Taggart reported. "I will wait for them here."
"If Enforcer Adone is with them escort him to the Bridge immediately."
"Play back that video again from the time the feed came back. See if we can pick up any landmarks. Also split the screen and show me Captain Jensen and the rest of the women." The screen split. The static filled video showed enough that they could make out the still figures of the unconscious women. "Bridge to Major Williams."
"Can you bring that tracking device to the Bridge?"
"Do it." Bella used Kate's favorite command.
"Major Taggart to Commander Torino."
"The doc is here. We are transferring Commander O'Malley and Colonel Anderson to Sick Bay now. Ma'am do you want to inform Mrs. O'Malley?"
"Shit those are notifications I do not want to make"
"I definitely do not envy you Ma'am."
"Major Taggart have someone else wait for Enforcer Adone and report to the Bridge as soon as possible."
Major Williams stepped off the lift carrying the tracking device. "Major can you hook that thing into the computer?"
"Good. Can you then put it up on the view screen?"
"That will not be a problem, ma'am."
"Now can you also get the video lock and that device in synch so that we can see where they are?"
"It will take a few minutes, but it can be done."
"Get it done. Major Taggart is on his way to the Bridge." Bella stated. "Computer locate Mrs. Patricia O'Malley."
"Mrs. O'Malley is in Colonel O'Malley's quarters." The computer responded.
"Good I will only have to say this once." Bella said. "I will be in Colonel O'Malley's quarters first then in Sick Bay. If I have not returned when Enforcer Adone arrives, bring him to Sick Bay."
"Keep working on synching up the video and tracking and see if we can find the route they took." Bella headed to the lift. "Deck four." She stated and slumped against the wall after the doors closed. With in seconds the doors opened. She straightened and walked down the corridor. With each step she took, her spirits sank lower.
Natalia and Patricia sat at the table. There were papers spread over the table top. "I think Kacey will be very surprised."
"Has she mentioned anything about her upcoming birthday?"
"No. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday present."
"What did she tell you?" Patricia asked.
Natalia blushed and cleared her throat. "Well it was, " She cleared her throat again.
"Never mind dear. Knowing my daughter it is probably something I really do not want to hear about."
"She is bound and determined to get rid of her innocent status in Kate's eyes."
"Those two," Patricia sighed. "No matter how head strong they are, or how many fights they get into, they will always be there for the other. I have seen them put their arguments aside to help each other and then return to their argument when the crisis is over."
"They do seem to like competing and challenging each other." "That is very true, but no matter what, they would go to the mat for the other." The door chimed. Natalia looked at the monitor. "Come in." She said when she noticed Bella on the other side.
---------------------------------- Premier Tott sat behind his desk as he listened to the report from the Limari Captain. "The women have been taken to Tarsi's. My people said at least two of them will need enhancements to interest the customers. The drugs will leave their systems in about an hour. They can not escape. We can begin the process of getting them addicted to drugs after that to keep them compliant and then put them to work in the pleasure house." "The men?" "Have been brought back to the terminal and left for their crewmates to find them." "Good. We can inform the women of their new profession after they wake up."
To be continued...
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