Authors: Eric McMeins
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Adventure, #Military, #Space Opera
“Since we are ignoring protocol, I demand to be heard as well. I call for a vote of no confidence in the Prime.” It was Fire, and he was showing his true colors again. The room burst into a furious shouting match. Nixa yelled and threatened each other and shook fists in the air.
I promised myself I wouldn’t come to another one of these again.
The gavel was banging a rapid tattoo and was being soundly ignored. Thalo watched as the Prime stood silently resolute, not participating in the ruckus. Finally, the chamber guard was brought in and order was restored.
“There is a vote of no confidence on the floor,” the Prime stated, “before I call for seconds, what is the charge?” The Prime stared emotionlessly at Fire.
“Aiding and abetting and treason,” he stated, and whispers erupted around the room.
“Can you back up these claims?” Snow’s father asked.
“First, you allowed the monster that is killing our people to land and gave him free reign. Second, you launch and illegal investigation that sparks rumors that threaten the very fabric of our society. Do you deny the charges?” Fire knew he wouldn’t, but he wasn’t prepared for what came next.
“Well, since protocol is out the window,” Thalo said from his seat, “May I answer to those charges?”
“I yield the floor to Ambassador Thalo of the Worlder delegation.” The Prime nodded his head in Thalo’s direction as he stepped from the podium.
As Thalo made his way to the podium, he could her a choked gasp of outrage from Fire.
“Now see here,” he started, “I charged the Prime not some off world scum.”
“You made the charges, sir, but leveled them at the wrong man. I brought the Kin here, I vouched for him, and I asked the Prime to start an investigation into the charges that were passed along to me. Now listen and listen good!” He thundered the last part. “You fucked up big time the last time I was here. You waffled and did nothing when we asked for help. Once again, you sat on the sidelines and protected yourself.” An angry mutter began to fill the room.
“SILENCE!” Thalo roared. So venomous was the shout, he stunned the room into silence. Thalo began pointing his finger at the gathered Administrators. “I don’t know why but I chose to come here to save your worthless butts. I will say this one time and one time only. A Nixa was present on Esii. He was aiding the Esii in their buccaneer endeavors and willingly traded your people for the ill-gotten gains of the Esii freebooters. If that Nixa isn’t found in the next five days, well, sorry to say, but Cole will be on his way, and he is brining a fleet with him. He will take this nation apart until he finds the Nixa responsible. Cole suffered greatly at the hands of the Esii and he didn’t take the news of another betrayal by your people well. Ask Suns, he is still floating in space around my world without a suit. Fury, we believe knew who the Nixa responsible was, unfortunately he didn’t survive the trip back. His ship detonated shortly after entering warped space. All hands lost. Now you need to ask yourselves one thing. Do you have time to sit around debating, or do you need to act. I, for one, will be acting to find this Nixa.” Thalo looked out across the room. He looked into the eyes of each Administrator and saw shame and regret. Except in one, Fire.
Fire cleared his throat. “I will not stand here and take this from some mongrel Worlder. I, for one, will—” he was cut off by another Administrator. An Administrator who had always been in Fire’s camp.
“Shut your mouth, fool,” the Nixa snapped. “It is because of you we are here. If we hadn’t let ourselves be pressured by your pacifist ways, we would have been at the battle of the Twin Worlds and would have erased the long forgotten stain from our honor.” The room erupted in cheers for the brave Nixa. He had earned an enemy that day, but he had also caused a reaction in Fire. When he had said that it was because of Fire for their being in trouble, a look of panic crossed Fire’s face momentarily. Thalo had his first real lead. Fire was involved somehow, and it made sense. Fire was the one who wanted to avoid fighting the Esii and had done everything in his power to keep the Nixa out.
“Excuse me, Thalo,” the Prime said from his right side. “Can I have my podium back?”
“Sorry, sorry of course you can.” Thalo graciously stepped aside and let the Prime have his spot back.
“Does anyone second the Colonial Administrator’s motion?” The silence was absolute. “Motion denied.”
Another Nixa stood and asked for the floor.
“Motion to grant unlimited funds and support to finding the rogue Nixa involved with our enemies.” He hadn’t finished before a thunderous response of seconds assaulted the room.
“That may be a bit much,” the Prime said, “but it is a good start. The Kin can wait. I am redirecting assets as we speak to begin investigating on all our worlds and outposts. I have signed an order to close all access and egress to Nixa worlds and properties. What is left of our Navy will blockade and prevent anyone from leaving. I will require all of you to stay here at the capitol and act as liaison to your local governments. They will take orders better from you, I am afraid, than me.”
Thalo got up and left the room quietly. The Prime was in his element and Thalo had done what he had intended. Now to follow up on some leads of his own.
I am trapped in my dreams. Or is it real? I don’t know anymore. It is all jumbled now. I dream I am asleep, or am I asleep dreaming I am awake. I keep seeing those Worlders I killed. I do it over and over in my mind. I see myself finding Snow in the hallway. Out looking for me, she said. I see me beating her, knocking her unconscious, and dragging her to the hanger. There is nothing I can do. Everytime I close my eyes, I see it like it’s happening again. It sickens me and yet some part of me thrills in it, revels almost. That is what sickens me the most, the part of me that likes it. My friend Eric, he wants to marry the mother of his kids. He wants me to do it for him. I smile and say yes all the while wondering what I can do to ruin his moment. I thought I understood the others plan, but I begin to hate even my own people. He is here, now, watching this. I can feel him, gloating. I will have the last laugh, though. I don’t know who you are but I know one thing, I killed myself before and I can do it again. One slip, one misstep, a moment of control is all I need to end it forever. It is laughing at me, says it doesn’t make mistakes. Everything makes mistakes.
Cole awoke to a feeling he had not had in a long time. His head was aching and someone was driving nails into his eyes. That’s what it felt like anyways. Sky was pushed up firmly to his back and shifted when he moved. Cole was attempting to get his mind in order and sit up when the nausea hit. His stomach gurgled and his mouth got ready for what was coming. Frantically he tried to remember what had happened and for that matter, why his nanites were not working. His body broke out in a cold sweat as he lay there fighting the vomit he felt coming.
It hit him then, he had turned his nanites off. Well he had turned them off to the affects of alcohol anyways and had not turned them back on. He shoved the nausea, headache, and sour stomach aside and concentrated on his internal computer. It took only a second to reset the nanites and feel the initial effects of them hard at work. Like jumping in a cool pool in the summer, the relief of the pain blocking nanites spread out behind his eyes. His gag reflex and nausea faded, and he began to receive reports from his nanites. Mild dehydration, dead brain cells, and liver and kidneys working overtime to filter his blood. It had been a while since he had drank that much alcohol. Water was the first thing he needed, then a shower.
Moving slow so as to not wake Sky, he moved to the small kitchen area, grabbed a glass from a cabinet, and filled it with water. He raised the glass to his lips for a big drink and stopped, cold. A shiver ran through his body and his suddenly nerveless fingers dropped the glass of water. The glass bounced and sprayed its contents over the floor, his feet, and legs. This wasn’t his room, was the first thought in his head. With his mind clearing from the after effects of a bad hangover, Cole was thinking clearly.
He could feel the soft vibrations of a ship under power in space. Then the last straw dropped. Sky wasn’t with him anymore—he had sent her away.
“Computer, turn on the lights,” Cole ordered the ships AI, whichever one it was. The lights flashed on in an instant. Whichever AI it was, it wasn’t Hal. Hal had standing orders to not monitor him in his room. A soft groan escaped the sole occupant of the bed. Cole saw a flash of blonde hair as Anastacia rolled on her back and half sat up on the bed.
The blood drained from Cole’s face. What had he done? He felt more himself at this moment than at any time the past few days. He knew it was on purpose. Whatever he was fighting in his own mind had wanted him to be totally here to experience this moment. Clear headed and fully aware of his betrayal of Sky, the only women he loved.
“Oh, shit,” he whispered softly as Anastacia got her arms behind her and levered herself completely up. The sheet covering her fell away and exposed her naked torso. She blinked her eyes and slowly shook her head.
“Potent stuff,” she said around a mouth that felt full of cotton. Cole was paralyzed. He stared at the Russian Astronaut as she closed her eyes and turned her nanites back on.
“Handy little buggers, that’s for sure.” She swung her legs off the edge of the bed, stood, and stretched her arms above her head. She slowly pivoted on the balls of her feet to face Cole. Her body was lithe and well-muscled. A flat stomach, and medium sized breasts still firm with youth and regular exercise. She smiled at him and released her stretch. She walked over to him, wrapped her arms around his waist, and placed her head against his chest. She looked up into his still stunned face and raised herself up onto her toes. The sensation of her body slowly gliding up his finally woke him to action, but not before she snuck a kiss.
Cole placed his hands on her shoulders and pushed her gently away. She went willingly.
“Stop, no, I can’t,” he started. A smile flickered on her lips.
“Your mouth says no,” a slight pause and a wandering finger tip pressed against his flesh, “other parts say yes.
He smacked her hand away. “I said no, damn it. What we did…what we did last night was wrong. It never should have happened. I am sorry.” He hurriedly brushed past her and activated his second skin. Entirely too slow for Cole, the skin covered his body. He turned to face Anastacia and expected the worst. She was covering a laugh, which was doing interesting things to her body. He shoved that thought out of his head.
“Ha, ha,” she laughed. “Don’t worry.” She stepped into her own suit and activated it. “I just wanted to know what it was like. You showed me last night, a few times. I am not a stupid love struck girl, but I am here if you ever need to relieve some stress again.” Cole’s mouth was actually hanging open. “And don’t worry, I will not tell Sky…if we ever see her again.” She blew him a kiss and walked out the door.
Cole stood rooted to the floor, his head spinning. “Shit,” he said again and walked out the door to find out what the hell was going on.
“Then you said, and I quote, ‘I’ll find a damn planet for us then. Load an explorer and let’s get going.’ You were pretty drunk at the time, but so were we. Thank God for the AI or we probably would have warped into the nearest star.” West finished telling Cole the story behind why he was on a ship, light years from Home.
Cole was sitting in the captain’s chair with his head in his hands. He felt sick, not from the drink but from the events West had just described. He looked at Liam, the only other person on the ship besides Anastacia. Liam had a big grin on his face.
“Of course I will be paying for this the rest of my life,” West was prattling on. “Seeing as how I just got married and my wife is due any day now. This will not be a fun homecoming for me, no sir.” West was playing the part perfectly as far as he was concerned. Jess knew the plan and was more than willing to let her new husband go off so soon after their nuptials. All knew how important Cole was to their survival, and she was willing to make the sacrifice. Though not for too long, she did have twin girls on the way.
“Enough,” Cole said. “You,” he pointed at West, “are behind this somehow. And you,” he pointed at Liam, “need a new friend. He will get you killed one day.” Cole leaned back in his chair. “Shit,” he said, he had been saying it a lot lately. He closed his eyes and thought. His mind was clear and he had been wrong. Whatever was going on in his head seemed to be gone for the moment. He was actually enjoying the clarity of the situation he was in.
“I feel better than I have in a while, we continue on with the mission,” Cole said.
“Okay, but what is the plan?” Liam asked. “All I remember is a lot of saying we would find it, not how or how long. Like West said, the lady folk are going to start popping soon. We shouldn’t be gone too long, and we don’t want to leave Mr. I Was A Senator alone there too long, he might get delusions of grandeur.”