Chapter 12: The Best Laid Plans
The battle for the Sol system went badly but it could have gone much worse. Niurgun’s ship, The Gamus was lost almost immediately when the mindship Comet jumped into orbit around earth. Sixteen of the crew of forty was able to escape to Unegen’s ship using the magnetic field beam and the ship’s sender before the Gamus exploded. The cruiser Juchin emerged from behind the earth’s moon and engaged the Comet in battle long enough for the cap ship containing the mined ore to be retrieved by one of the vessels in Unegen’s fleet and for Niurgun to escape from the surface.
Once Niurgun was safely on board, Unegen continued the battle until the four ships in her battle group were able to enter hyperspace and escape the system. Fighters poured like hornets out of the belly of the Comet but the Juchin held her own. No vessels, except the mindships, are feared like the magnificent cruisers.
The cruisers greatest advantage is their shields. Most ships use a traditional magnetic field shielding that while certainly effective is vulnerable to neutral charged particle beam weapons. Cruisers use an intricate combined shield of magnetic fields and gravitational fields. The ships main drive, the gravity drive is only in use for high speed travel in open space so when in close quarter maneuvering conventional thrusters are used. Most ship’s deep space drives are only for propulsion but the Thracians developed a technology that uses the massive gravitational field produced by the drive to create an inverse gravitational field surrounding the ship. When combined with a conventional magnetic field deflector shields an almost impervious barrier is formed.
The only drawback is that the gravitational field cannot be maintained indefinitely while at low speeds. The dark matter that is used to fuel the gravity drive must be taken into the drive at near light speeds in order to maintain the field, so basically it works best at high speeds. The Fadians have tried to replicate the technology unsuccessfully for centuries but what they have never realized is that the celiph brain is the key.
Celiph brains see the visible universe like a sonar picture or a three dimensional x-ray. They see matter from all directions at once. The processes for maintaining the inverse gravitational field requires the simultaneous recognition of millions of points in the core of the gravity drive where the dark matter is condensed into a super dense sphere. Dark matter can only be contained successfully if the containment field is maintained at exact pressures at millions of points around the sphere and only intelligence capable of dimensional viewing can maintain the field.
Thracian shield technology is unmatched and their ships maneuverability far surpasses the huge mindships. The cruisers are however vastly out gunned and carry only a fraction of the number of fighters. The mindship’s enormous size, fire power and surprise capabilities are its advantages.
Both ships have the advantage of biological central control or BCC systems but unlike the human brain that controlled the Comet the brain in the Juchin was a creature of the seas. She moved naturally in space just as she would have in the vast waters of her home planet, Erdene. Her brain evolved over eons naturally to control a body of immense size and quite frankly she simply enjoyed what she was doing.
Sara was proud to serve and she responded to Unegen’s commands almost before she gave them. The BCC for the Comet is a slave, forced into service in a horrific procedure that ripped her brain from her living body. The difference showed in the way the ships handled, like a turtle chasing a dolphin.
Unegen was under orders from the Empress to let the Sol system go before she suffered losses of military vessels but she’d be damned if she wasn’t going to leave the Comet the worse for the experience. Using the superior speed and maneuverability of the Juchin she took the ship back around the moon deploying her fighters at the precise moment she was hidden from the Comet. The slower clumsy Comet followed the Juchin thinking it was in retreat. The Thracian fighters skimmed the moon’s surface around to the far side completely hidden from the Comet.
The Juchin shot around the moon and plummeted towards the earth hitting the atmosphere at a steep angle. Although the ship was out pacing the Comet she was soon surrounded by the faster Fadian fighters and this was exactly what Unegen had hoped for. She flew the Juchin into the airspace covered by the defense ring around the borer. The fighters were too engaged to pull away.
There is no more efficient or deadly system than a Thracian defense ring. The ring recognized the Juchin but the massive endoatmospheric charged particle beam bolts that it issued found their targets and over half of the Comet’s fighters were taken out in a matter of seconds.
In the meantime the Thracian fighters hidden behind the moon attacked the Comet from the rear causing severe damage to her rear shields and sensor array. The Juchin blazed back up through the atmosphere to engage the Comet head on when six more Fadian ships arrived out of hyperspace.
They had been traveling for months to reach earth at the same time as the Comet. If the Comet had waited until the fleet arrived the entire Thracian battle wing would have probably been destroyed but in typical Fadian fashion the commander of the Comet had assumed superiority and Unegen had made him pay for underestimating her.
The newly arrived ships were conventional midsize Fadian battleships known as Talons and even three or four would be no match for a cruiser but the Juchin was now far outnumbered so Unegen called for a retreat. The Juchin and its fighters headed around the earth away from the newly arrived fleet. The fighters were retrieved and the Juchin kicked in the gravitational field drive and headed straight towards the gas giant of the system, Jupiter. Only a Commander as skilled as Unegen would use a gravity drive in system.
Unegen called upon the superior handling capabilities of the Cruiser again, blazing through the asteroid belt at absolute suicidal speed. The Fadian ships were no match for Sara’s ‘space swimming,’ as one of the pursuing Talons suffered severe damage from an asteroid collision.
“Gal, begin calculations for entry into hyperspace,” Unegen ordered as the Juchin hurtled toward Jupiter.
Niurgun stood beside her on the bridge. He was relatively inexperienced compared to Unegen but he did know that opening a hyperspace window was not something you really wanted to do quickly and they were not going nearly fast enough to punch into hyperspace. He glanced at Unegen and she knew he was having doubts.
“We will be using the gravitational field around Jupiter to increase our velocity. Watch and learn cousin, watch and learn.” Unegen took the ship as close as she could to the gas giant. Skimming around it she used the enormous gravitational field as a sling shot hurtling the Juchin away from the planet.
“Hyperspace entry velocity has been reached.” Gal announced. “Stabile window established, now entering hyperspace.”
When she entered hyperspace the Juchin basically disappeared to the Fadian ships that were chasing her through the Sol system. By using near light speed velocity and the massive gravitational drive they had bent the space around them and punched into the space outside of the visible universe, they entered hyperspace. Hyperspace travel allowed them to move from one coordinate in the visible universe to another coordinate in the visible universe across the bend in space-time they had created. The passage still required travel time but these shortcuts through hyperspace made space travel possible even though some trips still took months and theoretically years. The Fadians would try to track her but Unegen had plenty more tricks to show them and for now they were out of danger.
“We will rendezvous with the rest of the battle wing at the pre-arranged coordinates.” Unegen ordered. “And please get me a damage report and a cup of tea. Today is a day that mindship will not soon forget and I want to thank everyone for being the best crew a commander could have.”
Unegen smiled as a cheer went up throughout the ship.
Unegen sat back and sipped her tea on the bridge.
“We will reach the rendezvous point in twenty four days, after that we will contact the Empress for our new orders. The loss of the lives on the Gamus is unfortunate but all in all we fared pretty well. They lost at least thirty fighters and maybe one Talon.”
“And we stung that mindship’s ass.” Gal added
“Indeed we did and we learned a few things too,” Unegen pointed out. “Mindships are clumsy. They do not maneuver well and we are much faster. They have weakness in their rear shield around the sensor array. If all of their commanders are as over confident as the one we just engaged we would be very lucky but I cannot depend on that happening again. If there was only some way that we could know where they were going to jump to and be waiting I think we could take one out with a little more fire power.”
“They have been systematically targeting outer colonies so maybe we can pick one of the larger colonies and lie in wait,” Niurgun suggested.
“It might work or we might be waiting for years,” Unegen said as she calmly sipped her tea. “We will discuss it with the Empress, until then I want this ship in the best working order possible. We have some travel time so let’s get to work. I will be in my quarters; Niurgun come with me.”
Unegen and Niurgun sat down in her cabin. Unegen poured herself some more tea and handed Niurgun a cup. Not one to beat around the bush Unegen got right to the point.
“So if the Fadians find Erdene how much does she know about us, about the ship?”
Niurgun stared into his tea cup.
“Erdene knows many things but nothing that could harm us. When she was aboard I made sure she never left the guest quarters so she knows nothing about the ship. She would never hurt me Unegen of that I am sure. I sent her to the north to be with the descendants of my uncles. I believe she is carrying my child.”
Unegen almost choked on her tea, “and you left her there?”
Niurgun nodded. “I did not want to but it had to be.”
“What do you mean it had to be?’ Unegen said in disbelief, “You know I would have taken her onboard Fade or not. How will she survive among those barbarians? How will your child survive?”
“For one thing she has a healthy barbarian streak of her own,” Niurgun replied, “so I think she will be fine and secondly she has to be on earth so Rowan will be born on earth that is how I know my child will survive because Rowan exists. Remember that Rowan had Fadian ancestry; well Erdene is her distant ancestor as am I.”
Unegen gave Niurgun one of her piercing stares.
“How do you know these things Niurgun?”
“When I first arrived on Earth I was contacted by a time traveler or a time projection or something but she gave me a small golden egg and some cryptic instructions. She was Annunaki and I think she told me of the coming of the Eki and I believe Rowan is the answer to her prophecy. She is the eye of the needle Unegen I am sure of it. Only our intervention saved Erdene. Without our technology she would have perished and the chain of descent would have been broken. Whatever the Annunaki have planned for the future it is hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years, in the making and Erdene is a key piece in their puzzle.”
“This is information that you have kept from me all these years. Why did you not tell me?” Unegen sounded almost hurt. She was not accustomed to being left out of the loop.
“I am sorry Unegen but only my mother knew about the visit from the Annunaki. We felt that as few as possible should know in order to protect the time line and whatever future was being formed.”
“You seemed to have been an important piece as well cousin?” Unegen pointed out.
“Think about it Unegen,” Niurgun explained, “I am a Thracian sender crossed back from a half human- half Thracian sender who may be the most powerful sender ever born, until Rowan at least. Senders rarely if ever give birth to senders but my mother did. My grandmother is the Qutagh Tolui. Erdene is the daughter of as pure a Fadian as one can get short of the Divine Mother herself, who is her paternal grandmother. Cali is the direct descendant of Titania the First and Oberon who were the first Fadians
created by the Annunaki. I have meet an Annunaki in person and I think I can safely say that Isla, Erdene’s maternal grandmother although human is part Annunaki and Thracian, a distant descendant of my mother’s brothers who stayed on earth a thousand years ago. All this is supported by the med scan done on Erdene when she was on board. Are you getting the picture?”
Unegen nodded, “You are proposing that Rowan is the result of some complex Annunaki breeding experiment that they played out on an insignificant world in the back reaches of the galaxy safe from the prying eyes and crushing powers of the great races.”
“I believe she is even more than that” Niurgun added emphatically, “I think she is the culmination of all of the races. I think she is what they were trying to accomplish when they made us all. We just never saw how big the picture really was. She has other powers as well Unegen; she can talk to the ship, not the AI, the celiph mind.”
Unegen raised an eyebrow in doubt.
“No it is true,” Niurgun assured her, “since our ship is basically an animal she can communicate with the shipsmind like any Fadian can communicate with an animal, and by the way the ship’s name is Sara and she would appreciate it if you called her that.”
Unegen stared at Niurgun. “Sara?”
“There is more,” he went on. “Do you remember that dream I used to have as a child, the one in the cave with the mirror and the rolling darkness?
“How could I forget it? Unegen said softly, “I held you while you cried yourself to sleep for more nights than I can remember and even when you got older it still frightened you.”
“Well when Rowan gave me the Bayar it was different. Not only did I relive the memory but so did Rowan. She was in the dream; she is the woman behind the mirror. She has been in my memory since I was a child hundreds of years before she was born. Explain that Unegen because I can’t.”
Unegen sipped her tea in silence.
The Juchin came out of hyperspace at the rendezvous point in the Draco system. The system, around the star Alrakis was on the outer edge of Thracian held space but it was a very valuable system with two naturally habitable planets and a score of habitable moons. The four Thracian sub cruisers were waiting and Unegen was relieved to see that they had all made the trip safely; her battle wing was again whole. The four captains came aboard the Juchin to receive the communication from the Empress.
The holographic image of the Empress appeared on the bridge of the Juchin.
“It is a pleasure to see you Fleet Commander and Captains. I am relieved to learn of your escape from the Sol system. The loss of the Gamus is tragic but in relation to how other colonies have fared after the appearance of a Mindship I commend you all but especially you Fleet Commander Unegen. Your skill and courage never cease to amaze me and thank you for the retrieval of my son. Niurgun I am so happy to see you alive.”
“I am certainly glad to be alive, Mother,” Niurgun replied, “but I take full responsibility for the Gamus and the twenty six who lost their lives.”
“This is the burden of command son” the Empress replied. “You will always carry their deaths with you. The only thing you can hope to do is make sure you are responsible for saving more than you lose. The Gamus was no match for the Comet. They engaged in a slaughter not a battle. This new mindship technology is a devastating advantage for the Fadians and that is what we need to discuss. How do we counter them?”
Unegen spoke first.
“Niurgun has suggested that we sit in wait at probable targets and surprise the mindship. Judging from our engagement with the Cloud I believe we could take out a mindship with a few cruisers. They are heavily armed but they are clumsy and much slower in system. Surprise is their main weapon and once that is dealt with they are certainly not unbeatable. Of course the problem with this plan is the absolute improbability of being there before the ship jumps. How can we possibly know where to be?”
“Indeed,” answered the Empress, “we cannot know but perhaps we can bait them into jumping to where we want them to? We have lost six outer colonies so far. What I want you to do is take them back. The Fadians send in the mindship first and then six to eight talons arrive and they are left to hold the system. The mindship can jump instantly but the jump must be planned well in advance to coincide with the arrival of the talons. This is the weakness in their strategy; we need to force a mindship jump before they can send the accompanying talons. Hopefully our agents on Availon will eventually be able to get us information about future targets but in the meantime we will take another approach. I am sending two more cruisers and their battle wings to your present position. You will be in command of the fleet Unegen and Sub commander Gal you are promoted to Commander of the cruiser Arban, please take the helm when she arrives. Congratulations to you both.
“Thank you Empress you honor us,” Unegen said as she bowed her head. “I do have one request. I would like to have Niurgun as my second in command if that pleases you.”
The Empress smiled and then nodded.
“I can think of no one he could learn more from. Serve her well son. Once you have arrived in the system conceal two of the cruisers and retake the colony. I know six Talons are no match for you Unegen. If the Fadians try to take it back with a mindship we will have a surprise for them when she jumps into the system. If not we will retake the colony either way we will make some gain. If it is a war of attrition they want then we can give it to them. “
“When will the rest of the fleet arrive?” Unegen asked.
“They should be there in thirty days. Leave for the Stavic Colony as soon as they arrive. We will have three other fleets doing the same thing in other colonies so let’s hope we can keep the Fadians too busy to attack more targets. Glorious battles to you all.”
With those words the image of the Empress faded. Unegen patted Gal on his shoulder.
“It is about time.” Unegen was beaming at him, “I look forward to flying with you at my side.”
Gal smiled, which was an unusual expression for him. “We will rain death on them.”
“Yes we will Commander Gal. I love your enthusiasm. Why don’t you come to my quarters so we can discuss strategy?” Unegen took Gal by the arm and headed for the door. “Sub-commander Niurgun take the helm.”
The wait for the rest of the fleet just gave Niurgun more time to think and really that was the last thing he needed…more time. He spent as much time as possible in the guest quarters where he and Rowan had made love so many times, just being there helped him feel closer to her. He thought about beautiful Erdene on Earth, alone and pregnant and he thought about his promise to Rowan.
How was he going to get her out of the Academy when the time came? Sure he had a thousand years to make an escape plan but what he didn’t tell her was that it would probably take a thousand years to figure out how to get someone out of the most impregnable building in the universe.
Niurgun put his head in his hands. The academy is basically a giant magnetic field trap. Nothing can escape it until released, not in one piece anyway. He had lived in the academy for ten years. He knew the place as well as anyone and once inside there is no way out except through the throne room or Cali’s chambers; he felt sick thinking of Rowan there. Unegens voice from his comp jerked him back to reality.
“The fleet is here Sub commander Niurgun, please report to the bridge.”
Introductions were made between the ships commanders and captains. Gal prepared to assume command of the Cruiser Arban. Unegen walked with him to the magbeam room. She kissed him square on the mouth and Gal returned the kiss in a manner of someone who was quite used to kissing her. The crew in the room tried to hide their grins.
“Get back to work,” Unegen tried to sound gruff but the smiles didn’t fade, she turned back to Gal.
“You be careful,” she said as she reached up and straightened the new commander insignia on his collar. “I know you will be the finest commander ever but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss you. I am a very selfish person you know.”
Gal took both of her hands in his.
“You are the most unselfish person I have ever known. It hurts you to even admit that you will miss me because you know this is such a great opportunity for me. You can’t understand why you feel sadness instead of only joy for me. I will miss you too, terribly, but we will fly side by side into battle and if need be we will die protecting one other; that would be a glorious death. We will not be far apart relatively speaking, only a magbeam away.”
Unegen thought of Niurgun and Rowan separated by time and she realized it could of course be much worse.
“My bed will still be half empty” she whispered.
“Mine too” he said as he kissed her behind her ear.” Mine too.”
While Gal and Unegen said their good-byes Niurgun prepared the integration of the two new cruisers AIs with the Juchin’s. By tuning all the ships AIs into one another the fleet could basically function as one entity when necessary. They would know immediately what the other was doing.
“In thirty seconds the AI mesh will commence, please prepare your BCC for the connection.” Niurgun announced as he prepared for the mesh.
The BCCs would be temporarily taken offline from the AIs in order to protect them from any data corruption that could occur in the integration process. All the non-essential systems were shut down and the connection between the BCC and the AIs was disconnected. Niurgun was about to begin the mesh when he picked up a strange oscillating noise on an extremely high frequency. He contacted the other two cruisers.
“Is any other ship picking up the high frequency interference?’
“This is Sub commander Arslan of the Cruiser Tabin. I have participated in an AI mesh before and this high frequency signal always precedes the process. It is believed to be neural response by the BCCs after the disconnection to the AI. It is harmless and will dissipate shortly after the mesh has been completed.”
Niurgun thought of Sara and what she had said about the ships singing to one another...
“Sub commander Niurgun to the ships computer, record all of the high frequency interference we are presently experiencing. Have the ships linguistic program translate it as soon as possible and have the translation downloaded to my lingual nanocytes as soon as the translation is complete.”
Arslan’s voice came through the comlink, “do you think it is a form of communication?”
“I am sure of it,” Niurgun answered. “Our ships are singing to one another and we have never bothered to listen. Let them continue for a few moments before the mesh. The more data I have the better the translation will be.”
Once the AI mesh was complete the noise stopped. Niurgun hoped they had gotten enough data to set up communication.
The fleet was traveling towards the Stavic Colony and they would be in hyperspace for ninety days. Niurgun had been waiting three days for the result of the translation. He was reading in his quarters when the ships AI contacted him. Batu was curled up at his feet.
“Sub commander Niurgun I have completed the translation that you requested. I want to point out to you that I have never deciphered a more difficult language. The nuances of pitch and frequency are imperceptible to most living creatures and the syntax is like no language ever recorded. What creature speaks such a language?”
“The ships mind does… you actually.” Niurgun answered
The ships computer replied, “Do you mean the cloned organic brain that controls the life-support and maintenance functions?”
AIs technically can’t be ‘surprised’ but Niurgun really though he heard a little surprise in the AI’s tone.
“Yes, you could think of it as your subconscious.”
“So you are going to speak to my subconscious Sub commander?”
“Well I am going to try and now that you can understand her I guess you can speak to her as well. Her name is Sara. I don’t know the other two cruisers names yet but I am sure Sara will tell me. Can you download the data to my lingual nanocytes?”
“Yes of course I will do that now, but you will have to wear an amplification device so you can actually hear the sound. You ears will not pick up the frequency unaided even if you can understand the language. I have sent the design to the med-lab and the device has been made for you.”
“Thank you ship and I highly recommend you get to know your other half.”
Niurgun headed for the med-lab. Nevvi was on duty when he got there.
“Hello Nevvi, the ship had you make something for me. Is it completed?”
“Yes Sub commander it is done. Place it in your ear and it will implant automatically then you will be able to pick up the frequency. You can just talk in your regular voice. The shipsmind can hear in a much wider frequency bands than you can so she will have no problem hearing you. She is using the ships sensor array to produce her voice. May I ask how you figured this out?”
“Rowan told me except she didn’t need a device to talk to the ship.”
“She was quite remarkable,” Nevvi smiled wistfully. “I will never forget our Bayar.”
“Believe me when I tell you, Nevvi nor will I...” Niurgun added
“Sara? It’s me, it’s Niurgun. Can you hear me?”
Niurgun was standing in the room where Sara’s brain was kept. He knew he didn’t have to go there to be heard but it just seemed right somehow, more respectful, more personal. He stood with both hands pressed up against the glass of the massive tank.
“Hello Niurgun, you have learned to hear. Sara is so glad not to be alone anymore. Not only does Sara have you but my two sisters are here now. Sara is very happy. I can also now talk to the other part of me. Now that it knows I am here it is no longer blocking my singing. The other part of Sara is very smart.”
“Hello Sara,” Niurgun answered her, “I am also very happy to speak to you and yes both of you are very smart and I think you will be even smarter together. Sara can you tell me anything more about Rowan. You seemed to know things about her, about her future.”
“Rowan will teach all the children to sing.”
“Yes I know what you said but what does it mean?”
“Sara sees with many eyes, Sara hears with many ears. When I woke up and named myself the other part of me also awoke and some parts of the two became one. There is one part called the probability matrix and when Sara became one with it we began to see pictures in our thoughts. Pictures of what had been, what is and what will be.”
Niurgun was beginning to understand, he tried to explain to Sara.
“The probability matrix is a program that allows the ship’s AI to predict the probability of events based on data collected from the past and the present to defend the ship. It is kind of like a weather prediction program only much more complex. Your brain must have integrated with that program enabling you to do the same but with a much broader application.”
“Sara dreams of what may come to pass. It is simple not complex.”
“So what do you see for Rowan?”
“She is the one for whom we all wait. Can you not feel it when you are near her Niurgun? Do you not feel the peace and calming of the vibration? All the children vibrate at a certain frequency in order to be visible in this universe. The vibrations form the universe. When Rowan is near the frequency becomes clearer, more harmonic like when sound bounces off of an object and the waves overlap each other as they come back. She is the point that connects all points but I can only say what she is, not what she will be. Clouds pass before my many eyes and the future is not predictable yet, it shifts and changes. Many paths are possible. Sara must know more to tell more.”
Niurgun turned and slide his back down the thick glass until he sat on the floor leaning against the tank. He didn’t know any more than he had known or at least suspected before.
“I miss her so Sara. Can you at least tell me if we will ever be together again?”
“Many paths I see have you together but many do not. The paths are crossing and changing always in flux. You have learned to hear Niurgun, now you must learn to listen.”
Sara began to sing and Niurgun was sure it must be the sound of the universe. Such beauty, such raw emotion, her voice defied description. He heard in her voice what he had seen in the eyes of the Annunaki woman, the soul of the universe. He listened and tears ran down his cheeks.
“You have learned to hear, now you will learn to listen and while you sleep I will sing you the dreams I see of the possible and perhaps you can find the right path. When you sleep you float on the surface of where we all begin. Listen and sleep.”
Niurgun closed his eyes and let Sara’s beautiful voice lull him to sleep. He saw foggy paths and fleeting images. Brannoc’s face would appear and disappear into the mists. Rowan sat alone in a very white room, Niurgun recognized the Academy. Cali sat at the end of a huge table and she raised a glass, she was toasting Rowan. Rowan smiled at Cali and she was dressed in the black leathers of a Fade. There was darkness and pain. The Mountains of the Giant Spiders loomed in the distance as Brannoc and Rowan stood beside the Lake of Tears on Availon on a giant pavilion. The fields of the summer moon were filled with people; crowds cheered in the distance. Then the images became clear and Niurgun was with Rowan in a red desert. He held her in his arms and he was weeping. He thought she was dead but she opened her eyes and they were Annunaki eyes. He woke up suddenly.
“We must go to Tegus.”
“You saw a path Niurgun?”
“Yes I know where we need to go but I still have no idea how to get her out of the Academy.”
“That path is not clear yet. Other events must happen before the probabilities can be calculated. Patience Niurgun, Sara will find the right path.”