Read The Orion Deception Online
Authors: Tom Bielawski
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Adventure, #Heck Thomas
D'mal looked at the young engineer with pride. "You have a very sharp mind, T'mok. Our ancestors would be proud. Improving our cloaking technology with the Earthers' own holographic computing might be enough of a discovery to placate the Great Command."
"Even terraforming would be a boon to our homes in exile. Rigel has an abundance of resources in ore but the harsh environment is what limits our exploitation of resources."
"We could make our planet habitable, we could recover the natural resources of the system more easily and safely."
"Have we been able to communicate with the Great Command at all, sir?"
"No. But you may be sure that the puppets of the Great Command are taking detailed notes of our progression. Even after we get our assault force into the Centauran System and reclaim our homes, the Centaurans' wormhole devices will allow reports to be sent to the Great Command. I will be held to account for my failures."
"I hope nothing happens to you, father." D'mal looked over at his son, the young officer he personally vouched for with the Great Command. The boy was young, probably too young to be an ensign, but he was very sharp and had a good sense of tactics. The situation with their banishment to the Rigel System had been a terrible punishment.
D'mal's ancestors had, for reasons long forgotten, chosen to colonize a second planet in the Centauran system called Centaurus Minor. It was a harsh world, with survivable climates only found near its equator. After a time the societies of Centaurus Major, where most of the Centauran population lived, thrived far beyond the levels of their counterparts on Centaurus Minor. Some of those on Minor became jealous, the natural resources on Minor were not as significant and they boasted little of value to trade. The people of Centaurus Minor began to suffer, food became scarce and they found that there was little opportunity for them to prosper on their own. Some of the colonists on Minor suggested abandoning their colony in favor of reintegration with their kin on Centaurus Major. The government of Minor disagreed, blaming the gross successes of their fellows for their own plight.
While many on Centaurus Minor could be faulted with apathy and the lack of a strong sense of self-preservation, it was the indifference of those on Centaurus Major to the plight of the Minorans that sparked the greatest tensions. It was a self-perpetuating problem. One side failed to offer aid out of ignorance and indifference, while the other failed to aid itself out of pride and jealously.
At the height of the tensions, the government of Centaurus Major managed to develop a device that could control naturally occurring rips or tears in the very fabric of space-time, called wormholes. One thing that D'mal found useful in his pursuit of the criminal known as Heck Thomas was that the wormhole device held by the ex-law officer was remarkably similar to the device employed by Centaurus Major. And that device was something that the Centaurans had supposedly held on to since the arrival of the Ancestors many centuries ago.
"Nothing will happen to me, my son," said D'mal, reassuringly. "We will avenge ourselves upon the Centaurans and take control of the wormhole that connects Centaurus and Rigel. We will be seen as heroes to our exiled kin on Rigel! With control of the passage between the stars in our hands, nothing will stop us from dominating all the known worlds within our reach."
The Centaurus-Rigel Wormhole was located in deep space just beyond the orbital paths of Centaurs Major and Minor. Several successful ventures through the wormhole had been conducted by the government of Centaurus Major, and wonderful new discoveries were made each time. The scientists who were behind the project discovered that this wormhole led to the Orion Constellation, specifically to the Rigel star system. The massive star boasted a horde of planets, each possessing valuable minerals or gasses or precious metals that were exploited by the Centaurans, though the progress of such exploitation was painstaking and slow due to the harshness of the conditions there.
Just one planet that orbited Rigel boasted a breathable atmosphere and was far enough away from the super-giant that it could support life. The planet was very cold, mostly barren, and windswept. It was devoid of animal life although plant life and lakes of fresh water were common enough around its equator.
"Father," began T'mok, hesitantly. “What if the others are right? What if we fail in our goal of conquest? Wouldn't it be better to reintegrate with Centauran society and beg forgiveness? The application of terraforming technology alone could heal our two-"
"Enough!" shouted, D'mal. It bothered him that his son demonstrated a tendency toward diplomacy rather than vengeance. It seemed wasteful in light of his son's brilliant sense of tactics. "I will hear no talk of reintegration. Do not forget, the Centaurans killed your mother when they forced us all to relocate to Rigel!"
The Centaurans had indeed banished the Minorans, as punishment for conducting an assault on the capital of Centaurus Major. D'mal was one of the men who had begun the infamous revolt that led to their own demise. He and his fellow officers serving aboard a Centaurus exploratory vessel decided to take matters into their own hands and mutinied. They took over the ship which was using a wormhole device to pass between Centaurus and Rigel bringing supplies to mine workers there. That hijacking precipitated an insurgency driven by the slighted Minorans, and a series of devastating retributions from their militarily superior foes. Already fewer in number than the Centaurans, the Minorans were forced to the bargaining table to prevent complete destruction of their people. The Centaurans agreed not to execute any more of the insurgents or destroy more of their population centers on the condition that the entire population must agree to banishment in the harsh conditions of the Rigel System.
"I despise being subservient to that rodent Earther, Leader. We have become the 'secret police' for this Commonwealth, a government that is not entirely unlike that of the oppressive Centaurans."
"Have patience, T'mok. It is a necessary evil we must endure for the survival of our kind."
"Is it true that Earth is the origin or our own people?" asked the young man suddenly. "Earthers look much more like the Centaurans than ourselves."
"I do not know, T'mok. The Centaurans claim ancestry from a 'star beyond the stars,' though I never heard them say which one. And there is nothing in our own libraries to confirm this."
"Would it be like the Centaurans to censor history?"
"It certainly would. The Earther Prime Minister told me of several expeditions through a wormhole located near this system's Asteroid Belt long ago. Those failed expeditions were classified and kept from the people of Earth."
"I see," said the young man. "Isn't it recorded that our own ancestors arrived on Centaurus through a wormhole many centuries ago?"
"Yes, but that does not match with the timeline of Earth's own discoveries. "
"Either the Earthers' histories are as incomplete or altered as our own, or there is more yet for us to learn of the nature of wormholes."
"There is more about wormholes that we do not understand than there is that we do understand."
Finally the small fighter reached a greater ship hiding in the Asteroid Belt, its cloaking device rendering it invisible among the giant rocks and debris. A bay door in the belly of the larger ship opened, framing the rectangular opening in amber lights from inside, beckoning the smaller craft closer. Nothing else of the starship was visible.
"Can the Earther be trusted to keep his word, Leader? My heart longs for the warm paradise of our Centaurus home."
"It does not matter, T'mok. We will not give away our military advantage. Should the Prime Minister rebel against us, we will destroy him and everything in this pathetic system."
"Will our Earther slave be able to kill the renegade Marshal that the Prime Minister is so concerned about?"
"That slave has been programmed properly," replied D'mal. "If it fails it will die."
"But if it fails, won't the Marshal interfere with the Prime Minister's plans? And our own in the process?"
D'mal paused before replying. "I have thought long on the matter. If the Marshal survives, I do not see how it will affect the outcome of our strategy. He is but one man forced into a life of solitude. He cannot possibly thwart our goals. I care not what happens to him, nor do I care if the Prime Minister rebels."
"The Prime Minister seems to think that this Heck Thomas will bring the whole operation to a standstill if he is not killed."
"The Prime Minister has a personal vendetta with the ex-Marshal," replied the elder, exasperated. "He fails to see that the man has been marginalized. Even though he may still live, there is little he can do to stop us."
"What about the Centaurus Device? Wouldn't that help us get to Centaurus more quickly?"
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. The Earthers know less about the manipulation of the wormholes than we do, any device made by them to open the space tunnels should be suspect."
"I see," said the younger man. T'mok took a breath as though he were about to ask another question, but D'mal's hand shot up.
"Enough talk, T'mok. Save your questions for later and focus on the approach. We have work to do."
The younger man said nothing more as the great bay door closed behind the fighter; the mother craft disappeared.
The darkness inside the chamber was stifling. The moisture in the air seemed even more intense than it was outside, if that were even possible. Heck squatted on the dirty floor with one knee in the back of his prisoner's neck. The man grunted in discomfort but gave no other indication of his pain or suffering, and despite his animosity toward the man he couldn't help but respect the prisoner's fortitude. As the light of the UAV crept through the cracks in the door, Heck thought about how he was going to make this strange man speak.
"Won't they find us in here?" whispered Lainne. Gelad placed a finger gently to her lips, indicating silence. Lainne was caught off guard by the Israeli’s touch and almost screamed in fright in the dark room. But at that precise moment the UAV seemed to hover before the door and that scared her more, she hardly breathed.
The UAV hovered a moment longer and then the sound of its engines slowly faded as it floated out from under the bridge. It seemed that everyone in the room, even the prisoner, let out a sigh of relief.
"Why didn't it find us?" asked Lainne.
"That was probably a police drone, not one from the Commonwealth," answered Heck.
"Why does that matter?" asked Lainne, flicking on a small pocket light.
"When your country signed the Commonwealth Treaty long ago, it acknowledged Commonwealth Supremacy of Powers,” Gelad answered. “Because of a clause in the United States Constitution that allows international treaty to supersede the law of the Constitution itself, the Commonwealth Supremacy Treaty took precedence over even your sacred Fourth Amendment. And while the Commonwealth may flaunt those powers any way it wishes, your own police must still abide by the protections of the Bill of Rights. Barrier penetrating spectrum cameras are considered invasive and are generally not allowed by American police without a court order, a hindrance not felt by Commonwealth Police. I do not doubt that your own police could get such a court order with just a few minutes labor, but as we were not discovered it appears that they have not received that permission."
"A few minutes," she repeated in a whisper. That didn't sound good. "You sure know a lot about or laws."
"All Israelis are required to study the downfall of the world's greatest society. The United States was once our closest and most powerful ally. It saddened our people to see it become a fraction of what it once was, thanks to its submission to Commonwealth Supremacy." The man's opinion of the Commonwealth was evident in his voice, and Heck cast him a hard look but said nothing. "No offense, Mr. Thomas."
"None taken, Gelad. I had my own reasons for choosing to work as a Commonwealth Marshal. But I think you know that isn't very important now."
"Fair enough, Mr. Thomas."
"Alright, I know you are Israeli Special Ops Police. But why are you here and why do you want
"I thought this was settled," groaned Lainne. "Can't we just go? That thing is gone."
"We can't travel away from here for another twelve hours at least. If the police are here, they will remain here until they close their crime scene in the restaurant parking lot. Or until the Commonwealth chases them away. We have some time."
"The prisoner is an assassin," the prisoner smirked in the flickering light as the Israeli pointed to him. "He is not a government agent from any country, and he is not from the Commonwealth."
"He's a Soldier of the Crescent Moon, isn't he?" asked Heck in sudden understanding.
"Yes, my team and I have been tracking him for five years. He's murdered hundreds of my people and he's managed to kill two members of my own team. We lost his trail in Dubai, where we nearly had him."
"Right, I heard about that. The Dubai monarchy was furious that Israeli agents were operating under their very noses. Again."