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Chapter 6

Chance found Jan piling up wood. Most of the day had passed, and evening had descended. He would be free to do what he wanted soon, and Chance’s lady was away for a few weeks, not having called upon her assistance. Finishing his work, Jan came over to her and gave her a peck on the cheek. Chance smiled.’Come on, Jan. We are eating in our room tonight.’’Why not the kitchen.’‘Oh, you’ll see.’ Jan followed her inside, past the kitchen, to their slave quarters. They had been moved recently to a better quality of room, mainly because, so they had been told, they had faithfully served and were proving useful slaves. Their new quarters were quite a bit larger with nice decorations and a good large bed which they both shared. As they ate a special meal which Chance had prepared, Jan caught her looking at him often. Eventually he queried what was on her mind, but all she would say was ‘Just wait.’ When they retired for the evening Chance came to Jan’s side of the bed and helped him with his boots. But she did not stop there, which was the norm, but proceeded to unbutton his shirt, all the time looking into his eyes. Jan was not a stupid man. After a while he knew what was on her mind and concluded something. Perhaps this was her time. Apparently she had chosen him as worthy and he himself loved her now, knowing no other for so long. They were both passionate that night – extremely passionate. And in the morning, Chance resting in Jan’s arms, she knew she had made the right choice. Jan had been sensitive at times, but dominant when he needed to be. Really, for her first time, he had been the perfect lover. And lying there, resting in his arms as he dozed, she felt she had found the love of her life. And, in spite of their captivity, things felt right in the world for Chance Kibb’star.

In a very real way, Jan and Chance were now married. They’d had a long time together before sexual relations, and had grown to respect each other because of it. But Chance, who now fussed over Jan even more than before, whispered from time to time that they should make their togetherness official. Jan was a little reluctant as, despite his captivity, he was still somewhat used to his roguish ‘Rimwalking’ ways. But, if love was ever to come into his life, he would perhaps, having gotten to know her, not chosen many other than Chance Kibb’star. She was still quite gentle, rather than naïve in how the world worked and he found in her a feminine quality sometimes absent from some of the tougher female humans he had known. Really, she could perhaps make the perfect wife. And then when, in discussion about Arcturia, she mentioned that the pale green skinned Arcturian’s Jan talked about were likely the result of Humans mating with Arcturian’s, as she had been informed by Trim Wannabe onboard the Black Terror, Jan concluded that if they were compatible for mating, marriage was reasonable. And so, in a private ceremony, and before a figure Chance had made to represent the higher power who they took their oaths before, promising to be loving and faithful to the other, Jan and Chance wed and became, officially, man and wife. From then on Jan was a little more cautious about Chance. Careful to respect her properly and show her love. He brought her flowers often, a strongly human tradition, and caressed her when they were together. And, as the fourth year of their activity commenced, Chance had an announcement. As far as she could tell, with the growing bulge in her stomach which Jan had also noticed, she felt she was pregnant. Later that night Jan laughed. ’A father. A freaking father. Still, his own dad had been one, so perhaps it was not that unexpected. And, looking to the heavens, thinking on that higher power, he grinned a little and gave a silent prayer of thanks. Perhaps life was not so bad after all.

About 7 months after Chances announcement, with a Drongan maid to help deliver the child, Chance gave birth to their first child, a son. They spent 3 weeks deliberating names until in a naming ceremony they named the child Kalan Rance Kolby, named after both their fathers. Jan loved Kalan, a great deal. He felt, often he saw his father or younger brother in his looks, and Chance commented that he was definitely of her own family. As the child grew over the next two years, to Jan’s 35th birthday, it became apparent that Kalan was in the mould of his father. Roguish but with a good heart. At four years of age Kalan would be excused from work till he turned 7, when he would be given minor duties. Until then he was free, and wondered around the ground of the Jak’takr homestead often, the Drongan’s themselves unbothered by the young child. Once he fell down the main well of the homestead, and Jan and Chance were up all night looking for him until Jan heard faint yelling coming from the well when he passed by it. The child had trod water for hours, and was exhausted, but had survived clinging to the side of the well. After that, Chance was ever so careful with him, fretting over his every move, but Jan just said Kalan was a Kolby, and trouble would be expected. But this did not dampen Chances concerns. And then came the announcement. The Emporer would be visiting the Jak’takr homestead soon, to take part in the official four yearly new Drongan sporting games taking part in the city nearby the Jak’takr homestead that year. This was the major sporting event for New Drongan, and the Emporer had decided to make the Jak’takr homestead his home while the games were being run. With that announcement Jan and Chance were informed that they would be kept very busy in the weeks ahead, and that Kalan needed to be kept under wraps. The Emporer arrived one sunny afternoon in the middle of summer, and despite the fuss made over him, he seemed a very down-to-earth and casual sort of a Drongan. Very relaxed, it seemed, and in touch with his rulership. The Emporer liked the outdoors and Jan helped him often mount the steeds the homestead kept. The Emporer began asking Jan questions about humanity and his origins, ever anxious to increase his knowledge, so he commented to Jan. And during the three weeks before the games started, Jan, despite himself, found himself coming to like the man. And then the games started and the Emporer was kept busy each day, while Jan and Chance went about their daily routine.

In the fourth and final week of the planetary games, Jan was summoned by the Emporer to an event, a shooting event, on the outskirts of the city. The competitors had been using something similar to the phaser Jan had owned, but Jan honestly felt that he could shoot more accurately than any of them. And having commented as such to the Emporer, the Emporer decided to put him to the test. When the event was over, the winner was brought forth and targets were set up. Jan would compete with the victor in the best of three shots with a standard Drongan phaser, and a new winner would be declared. Jan found the phaser difficult to use at first and lost the first round. The Emporer eyed him, but was interested still in the outcome. And then, getting used to the phaser, his old dead eye returned, and he shot the next target from 300 metres directly in the centre – a bullseye. He was lucky with the third shot, and then had been declared by all the winner. Being presented before the Emporer, the man looked at Jan and said ‘What prize could we possibly give a slave,’ to his entourage. There were various comments and then, the Emporer stepping forward, looked at Jan. ‘Jan Kolby. You are a man’s man. I grant you your freedom for your heroic display. You and your consort are free to remain here in New Drongan, but may leave if you wish. Well done brave warrior.’ Jan nodded, smiled and picking up the phaser walked over to the shooting ground. ‘Freedom’ he thought to himself. It was almost something he thought he would never taste again. He had been on New Drongan for 7 years now and it had become his home. To be free – to be free again to follow his own destiny – he was almost not sure what he would do with it. Later that day, when the Emporer excused him, giving him a letter with his official seal to present to his house, Jan returned home and presented the letter. And so, gathering Chance and Kalan and some possessions they had acquired, they made their way to the spacedock and, entering the ship they had been given and with a number of gold bars they had also been given, they took to the heavens. Chance, looking at the screen of New Drongan as it disappeared behind them, looked at her husband. ’Were to now, brave adventurer.’‘We will see. We will see. But I have an idea of our first port of call.’ And so, the Ravensclaw which had been returned to them, sped onwards, heading slowly for the centre of the galaxy.

Kalan looked at the screen and yelled ‘home’. Chance smiled and Jan nodded to Kalan. ‘Perhaps, son. For a little while.’ On the screen in front of them, as Jan had informed Chance in the preceding weeks, was coming into view ‘New Terra’, humanities most prestigious centre of wealth and the current destination for the Kolby’s. It was home to wealth – great wealth. And, perhaps, in the fortunes of the Kolby’s, their ticket to a new and better life. The gold they had been given would feed them for a few years at a stretch, but Jan had let Chance know he had an idea in mind for gaining some wealth on New Terra and, if that failed, their final alternative. When the landed on New Terra and came to the home of Radnick Darkthorn, who was something of an uncle to Jan, not so much blood, but close to his father, Jan informed his family that Darkthorn may be able to help them out. He was a wealthy businessman working for the corporation who owned New Terra and had been his father’s best friends in their early years. When they arrived Radnick welcomed them and, hearing their dilemma, asked Jan if he wanted to work a regular job and provide for his family that way. He could find him work in the corporation if he was interested. Jan and Chance talked it over and thinking of Kalan and his future agreed to Radnick’s idea. Radnick had just divorced, and while his children visited him often, he was presently living alone. As such, and to help the Kolby’s start their new life, he suggested they live with him for a while. The Kolby’s agreed to this and, after a few weeks settling in, Jan began his new work in the corporation. He started low, but when he turned 37, he had risen to a mid-level position in the corporation, mostly involved with imports to New Terra from other systems. Jan could handle the work without too many difficulties and now that Kalan was in school it looked as if the bravest adventurer of all, the fabulous ‘Rimwalker’ had been domesticated. This did not bother Chance, who enjoyed the settled and stable life of luxury on New Terra, but Jan had the itch in his genes and, finally, at 38 spoke privately with Chance. ‘The Sigmorius Crown!’ she exclaimed. ‘You cannot be serious. Do you know how much trouble chasing that thing got us into?’ He looked at her and smiled. ‘Hey sweetheart. What is life without a bit of adventure?’ And so, reluctantly, and having heard Jan’s plan, Chance agreed to follow him back to Draxon for one year at most in an attempt to reclaim the prize they had originally sought. They felt it best to leave Kalan with Darkthorn, who had grown used to him, but Chance, who loved Jan and knew what he really was, needed to be with her husband and knew it no place for a child. And so, a few months after Jan turned 38, they took the Ravensclaw, full of provisions and began their trek. Out to the rim again. And back to the life of adventure.

Yelt Trandolin was anything but a typical Shadrachian. Natives of Shadrach were, if anything, noteworthy for their sense of honour. But Yelt was a different type of Shadrachian, one in the rogue class of Jan Kolby. Yelt had worked in his younger years in security divisions of various galactic corporations and had risen to be one of the top workers in the field, especially with his acute mind. But, when offered a contract by the league of piracy, he had slowly and inevitably turned to a life of crime, as dividends were so much higher. Jan had met him in his mid-twenties and they had struck up a friendship. Jan’s work in those early years had been traditional bounty hunting and otherwise treasure seeking. He had not really been a thief by trade, but ran in circles which encountered such characters. And through someone who he had been bringing in on a bounty, he gained an introduction to Yelt Trandolin. It was Yelt, so Jan believed, who would be the key person to help him crack the security details on Draxon were the league would have stored the Sigmorius crown. Yelt would undoubtedly give him insight and clues and, if he could be hired for the windfall when it arrived, he would go a long way to ensuring success. Chance found Yelt a smooth-mannered and polite Shadrachian and Yelt, despite Jan’s proclamation that he and Chance were attached, came onto Chance often. Eventually Chance let Yelt know her and Jan were sort of married with a child and Yelt backed off. But he remained charming and Chance found herself liking the fellow. The plan was this. When they got back to Draxon, Yelt would hire a room in a hotel on the northern city on the continent of Draxon were the guild hall in which the crown was located. He would monitor the complex and with the information that Jan could provide once he, hopefully, became re-established with the league, they would go from there. Like Chance, Yelt gave Jan one year to finish the job. Jan promised both of them that a year should be more than enough – but was worried anyway. They would have to be careful, perhaps even more so than before, because their disappearance on the Ravensclaw would certainly be remembered and look suspicious. But Jan felt, as bizarre as it may sound, a story something akin to the truth might just work. Chance had pictures of Kalan, and using them as evidence, they might just re-enter league hierarchy without too many problems. And so, as the Ravensclaw drew closer to Draxon, the mood was good onboard that, if they were successful, the galaxies greatest riches would be theirs.

’Believe me Tarkan, it was hell. If all those years under Drongan slavery taught me anything it was to value freedom. And the freedom of the League of Piracy is what I missed most, so now I am back.’Tarkan eyed Jan Kolby, still a little suspicious, but when one of his drones handed a printout containing various details of the New Drongan Empire taken from their planet-wide data-network, Tarkan concluded that as bizarre as it sounded the story seemed to check out.‘And this Kalan,’ began Tarkan. ’Where is he?’‘With his uncle on New Terra. And here are some photos,’ said Chance, handing Tarkan some photos of Kalan Kolby.Tarkan took them, looked them over for a minute or so and compared them to Jan and Chance before him. After a while he spoke up.’Yes, he does look like both of you. And he is pale green skinned, indicating human and Arcturian parents. So, I guess your story seems to check out. We had concerns, you know. From memory Shandray told me that he didn’t think you would have been able to break the tractor beam like you did and that some other party may have been involved. So, considering that, yes, I guess you can have your guild places back. But you will be again starting low – you’ll have to earn your place.’‘No probs,’ responded Jan. ’Tell me, can we have our old accommodation back?’’Shouldn’t be a problem. Actually, your stuff is probably still there. We have a great number of places around the city which we only use occasionally. Oh, and the Wolfklaw. It is still in spacedock. I felt you might want to know. We have had no real use for it, but felt we would hold it for the time being.’Jan grinned. The Wolfklaw. Now that brought back memories.‘Ok,’ said Tarkan. ’Settle in. Get used to life here again. Do those things you need to do. We will assign you some work soon enough. Oh, and finally, glad to see you back. You always seemed a promising recruit.’Jan smiled, nodded and left, Chance following. Strangely enough it was still Dalok who accompanied them to their old apartment and, funnily enough, all of their belongings which they had not taken aboard the Black Terror were still there. Jan spent an afternoon out at the ‘Wolfklaw’, taking it for a successful short flight, and reminisced about old times. It was good to fly her again. Settling back into life, Jan gained more information he needed and sent Yelt to live in Retak on the Northern most Draxon continent of Stuxal. From reports Yelt sent him regularly, Jan found out that Yelt had made a number of surveys of the guild hall, analysed the diagrams Jan had managed to obtain carefully from his new connections in the guild, and had begun formulating a plan. After three months back on Draxon, with only Jan sent on a minor raiding mission which lasted one week, they were ready, so they felt, to go for it. Yelt had gotten all the information he could from Jan and from his own detective work about the interior set up of the guild. It was really, now, a one man job. If Jan, with his guild identity, could gain access to the guildhall and enter the interior of the building and then find some time alone, he may just successfully, with Yelt’s planning, claim the prize – if it was still there. They planned carefully, as carefully as they could and then got lucky. On the second mission Jan was sent on they claimed another Imperial prize – a set of royal goblets from a star system which were deemed of great value. So much so that they were ordered to Retak and Jan, as casually as he could, asked if he might join the party to Retak to simply visit the city as he had never been. Tarkan seemed a little suspicious, but agreed nonetheless. And so it was now or never. To avoid suspicion, Chance would remain home, but when he could Jan would meet up with Yelt in Retak and then would get to their business.

With Dalok who had been assigned to transport the goblets to the guild hall, they got to the city and Jan asked if they could taste some local food before going to the guild hall. Dalok was a bit reluctant, but agreed nevertheless. They found a pub, and through Jan’s constant persuasions, stayed late into the day so that Dalok agreed to spend the night in the pub and visit the hall sober in the morning. During the night Jan met with Yelt. They went over all the details both were aware of, confirming the exact layout as best they could of the hall. The real key to success was the cloaking device which Yelt had supplied for Jan. Theoretically, he really should not be visible, but rather a vague sort of shadowy light, which would not be immediately obvious. If he got inside the guild hall with Dalok, and found some time alone, with the other tools available to him, he should be able to enter the main storage area and hopefully find his prize. The following day Dalok was hung-over and said they would spend the night at the guild hall. Jan had been given a lucky break. The security, indeed, on the outskirts of the hall was incredibly tight, motion cameras and all sorts of other technology everywhere. But, inside, no real problems. There were the occasional guard stationed here and there but, for Jan, it seemed that if you actually got inside the hall you were assumed to be a league member and thus deemed no actual threat. That night, Dalok snoozing, he took to his long awaited task. He still remembered what the crown looked like and if it was here and could be found, he would find it. He spent about 2 hours wearing the cloaking device, investigating the large complex until he came to large steel doors which seemed to be were the main goods of storage were held. Strangely enough they were closed by simply a turning wheel and, turning it slowly, he opened the doors and closed them behind him. And then, bingo. The room he found himself in, seemingly, housed every possible treasure known to galactic civilization. Gold, jewellery, precious metals, currencies and artwork from all the major civilizations. And various other important commodities seemed to be present. He was almost persuaded to simply grab what looked most valuable and have done with it, but no. The Sigmorius crown would likely be one of the most prized items. He glanced over the room and spied, right up the back a small hallway in the centre of the wall. Walking over to it, his torch lit up, there were several drawers which, when opened, seemed to contain particular items which, perhaps, were deemed the most valuable of prizes. After 10 minutes of searching through them he was about to give up when, suddenly, looking in a drawer he had already looked in just to re-check, he picked up an object which, looking at it, seemed very much like his prize. But it was covered in grime, as if it had been used a lot. Spending a few minutes cleaning it off, and then looking at it in the light, he smiled. Oh yeh. It was the Sigmorius crown alright. He had found his prize. Praise the gods. Placing it in his satchel, and returning things the way they were as best he could, he retraced his steps and, upon returning to the sleeping Dalok, silently thanked the gods again. Twice in one night – Chance would be pleased. He contacted Yelt on his mobile call-phone, confirmed the capture of the item, and laid in bed that night, happier, perhaps, than he had ever been. They spent much of the following day at the hall, talking about this and that, when finally, leaving, and Jan breathing a sigh of relief, started their journey back. When he got home he came to Chance, smiled, and pulled out the crown from his satchel. ‘Sweetheart, we’re rich. Bloody rich.’ Chance looked at the crown, grinned and hugged him.‘And now?’ she asked.‘Now, as carefully as we can, we ditch the league and head for Arcturia. I have a long delayed appointment with certain royals. And then, if the reward still holds, one Billion Arcturian credits, and a lifetimes wealth.’ Jan held the crown, grinning, and Chance again hugged him.

’Dak Bluddhook. Now how the hell are you going, old pal.’Dak looked suspiciously at Jan Kolby. ’Back in town, huh. Haven’t seen you in these parts for a while. What brings you back? And I thought you had joined the league?’’Oh, yeh. I joined the league. However they released me recently for commendable service. I am now retired.’Dak nodded, but still looked suspicious. ’So what brings you to Arcturia?’’Oh, my partner. She is Arcturian, and misses home. You know how it is. I dare say we won’t be here very long; just a bit of seeing her family and some sight-seeing. We’ll be gone practically before you know it.’Dak nodded. ’So how is life with you Dak?’’Oh, you know the life of a pirate. It has its highs and lows. But, truth to tell, the league has recently offered me a retirement as well, and I think now is the time to take it. I am not getting any younger you know.’’Ain’t that the truth. Well it was good to see you Dak. I am not surprised running into you here. Figured you’d show up eventually.’’Yeh. Where else, huh.’’Well it was great seeing you, but I have business. Catch you next time.’Dak nodded, and took another sip of his beer. Coming to the vehicle out in the port, Chance smiled at Jan.’So you wanted to rub his nose in it, did you.’’You know I couldn’t say anything. The league would have tracked me down for sure. I think they assume I just made off and left – sick of it. Still, in New Terra I don’t think we will have to worry ever again about the League of Piracy.’‘Let’s hope so,’ responded Chance. ’And now can we go visit them? You did promise.’‘No worries.’ Coming back to the ‘Wolfklaw’, which they had reclaimed, giving the Ravensclaw to Yelt, along with a substantial cut of gold from the Billion Arcturian credits they had claimed, Jan set course for the Ark. In fact, meeting the royals, he managed to keep a long overdue promise and mention the Ark to them. The ambassadors of the Royal family told them that it really wouldn’t be a problem for the residents of the Ark to return home now. Times had changed. The old ways had virtually disappeared. They would be welcomed back. And so, arriving at the Ark, Chance reclaimed her old family friendships and, upon receiving the good news of their forgiveness, Landoria who was still alive agreed that the rebellious ones could now return home. They stayed on Arcturia until the Ark residents had settled back in, but Chance was now eager to see her son, and the Wolfklaw soon set sail for New Terra. The trip home was generally uneventful. They played a lot of card games, Jan instructing Chance on the finer art of cheating and getting away with it, which Chance carefully observed, despite her religious scruples. On board they were carrying a ship load full of gold and other gems, as well as various currencies common to the galaxy as well as details to some of their deposits in Arcturian banks. They were now wealthy – extremely wealthy – and the galaxy was at their feet. Whatever else, Chance felt her son Kalan’s future would be now well looked after. They arrived back in New Terra just shortly before Jan’s 39th birthday. They had been gone about 9 months and, just before arriving, Chance shared with Jan the news that she was likely pregnant again. Jan just smiled – could things really get any better. Kalan was overjoyed to see his parents, and both noted how he had grown so much in the short time. He had been doing well at school and Darkthorn’s wife, who had returned to him, seemed to dote over him every possible second, almost like a child of her own. When Xadina was born, the Kolby’s second child, all seemed well in the world for Jan and Chance Kolby. They had purchased a home near the Darkthorn’s and while Jan didn’t really need to work, Chance had encouraged him to do something, so he had been successful in gaining re-entry into his prior position. When he turned 40 Jan Kolby, the illustrious Rimwalker, was generally satisfied with life. Things had gone well for him eventually, after many trials and tribulations, and with Chance in his arms one night, looking up at the stars, sipping on a beer, he asked, ’What does the future hold, my dear?’‘God only knows,’ she responded. ’God only knows.’And Jan laughed.

‘Darkthorn’s Shadow’ 1 At 41 Jan Kolby, the former illustrious ‘Rimwalker’ was settling down to a regular domestic type of lifestyle that most of his ancestors had been used to. But, of course, the Kolby’s also had restless genes, prone to a reckless lifestyle on occasions and while Jan felt that he may have settled down in life somewhat to enjoy the good things, one day his son, bearing his own father’s name, the half Arcturian Kalan Rance Kolby, would inevitably seek out a grander type of lifestyle as befitted his name. But of this Jan had little concerns. Whatever befell Kalan in his own adventures, such was the stuff of legend making and stories to tell to grand-children. And Jan honestly felt better a life of adventure with a tale to tell than always the safe ways of civilian life. His wife, Chance Kolby, formerly Chance Kibb’star, did not really share Jan’s sentiments, but realized as Kalan grew he really was his father’s son. At 8 Kalan had started school, proved popular, and was doing well in his studies. Unlike his father who had struggled with school-work, Chance tutored him carefully, hopeful to ensure the best of legacies she could leave to the universe. Kalan’s younger sister, Xadina, also seemed to be showing promise, and Kalan loved her devotedly. The two of them were inseparable at times, even though Kalan played many tricks on his very young sister. The Kolby’s, with their vast wealth, had realized that riches did not always last forever, and Chance lectured Jan often on the importance of setting an example of work for reward to Kalan and Xadina. It was important for her that the family, despite its vast blessing from recovering the Sigmorius Crown, be seen to be contributing to New Terran and galactic life and, for Chance, her legacy was important. That idea also struck Jan Kolby from time to time. Leaving a mark – a legacy as it were. A reputation behind him which would be talked about long after he had departed. Perhaps such ideology which his Arcturian wife talked of was not really that fantastic but, rather, the most sure blessing he could leave to his descendants. And, with that on his mind, the Rimwalker gradually made plans for the lives of his offspring to ensure his legacy would remain for years, even centuries to come. Yet, in all this planning, it was the hand of one of Jan Kolby’s closest confidantes, Radnick Darkthorn, which would place a most distinct shadow on the legacy of the Kolby’s – a most distinct and unbreakable legacy.

Sitting in Darkthorn’s office, Radnick excused himself for a while, having to check with his superior, the head of the corporation on New Terra. Darkthorn, who was about 20 years older than Jan, had steadily risen in the Omega Corporation and was strongly tipped to be New Terra’s next Chief Officer. Jan himself had risen again in the last few months and now worked often directly with Darkthorn in head office. He got up from his seat opposite Radnick’s desk and, coming around to sit in Radnick’s chair, he pretended for a while it was his own position. And then, almost innocently, he noticed a file in an open drawer of Radnick’s, with the words ‘The Galagon Proposal’ written as the filename and, out of curiousities sake, to see what his friend was now working on, took the file out to take a look at it. Omega corporation was now, officially, the largest business corporation of the human confederation of planets. Yet they did not only delve into business, but were often involved in things political and social as well. Part of the driving mission statement of the organisation was the shaping of life for the furtherance of humanity and the wellbeing of all. In this sense, it was almost a humanitarian organisation, despite being based on a sense of making a profit. For some Omega represented, almost, a way of life with its own rich and complex internal social realities and the rich rewards it imparted for lengthy service. Opening the file Jan read through the first page, an introduction to the ‘Galagon Proposal’. Reading the proposal header, it was put together by the New Terran head office, with Radnick himself the main propagator of the document. His name featured prominently throughout. He read the first page and, somewhat stunned at what he was reading, started on the second. But then noise out in the offices signalled that Radnick seemed to be returning, so Jan quickly placed the file back were he found it, and returned to his seat. They chatted on for another few minutes but, as Jan left Radnick’s office, all he had on his mind was the ‘Galagon Proposal’ and the possible implication’s it would have. And he made up his mind. He would speak to Radnick – probably soon – and query just what had brought up this proposal and what purpose Omega had behind it.

’Galagon is a new way of life, Jan. A new way of life for all of us.’’How does humanity dominating the galaxy exactly represent new life for ALL of us. Don’t you think there will be objections from the other sentient species.’’Jan, Jan, Jan. You underestimate us, you really do. Our culture – our human culture – has always, in its own way, been set apart from the others. I like to personally think that of all the intelligent species of life we represent the greatest example of what constitutes true decency and proper ethic. But more than that. The words I am using may sound strange but it is the most basic of words like ‘Regular’ and ‘Normal’ and ‘Everyday’ which constitutes the heart of humanity. So unlike any other species, as I perceive it, we represent the most normal of species. We are so well adapted to every day life and have prospered with our confederation because of it. You know I have religious beliefs – I shared them with your father. You see, long ago, Omega was founded by Christians – a uniting organisation of Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal – with a simple intent. To bring the message of peace and the choseness of mankind amongst all the species of life in the universe as the holy people.’‘For fuck’s sake, you are kidding right.’ Stated Jan bluntly.’No. No I am not. Jesus was human, in the end Jan. He was a human being. There were numerous species throughout the galaxy for him to become part of, but God chose us. For whatever reason the son of the Almighty favoured the human race as his most beloved possession and prize. I have investigated, in my time here in New Terra, into other cultures, especially into their religious beliefs. And I do believe that many of them are inspired from God himself, often with Angelic visitation. But, in all of them, I have never really quite found anything approaching the way God has dealt with humanity. Never quite the same – never quite as chosen – never quite as important. Our faith, our ancient faith, was bestowed upon us because in the words of ancient scripture humanity is made in the ‘Image of God’. Us. Humanity. And not some other alien culture.’Jan nodded, taking in all that information. Really he was thunderstruck. Of all things he thought Galagon was based upon, he would never have surmised this. Never in a lifetime of lifetimes would he have surmised this. ’I don’t think I have ever really known you until right now, Radnick. Not until right now.’’You will come around, Jan. It is inevitable. It is in your God-grafted genes. You will see the light. If anything is true in life, it is just that. You will see the light.’Jan nodded, looked at Radnick, and left the office. Driving home in his vehicle, his thoughts were all over the place. Could he, now, really stay in the corporation. To stay in something which, really, seemed so at odds with the galactic values and sense of racial equality that had become ingrained into his life, seemed impossible. But, in all of this, something struck a nerve. Something which Radnick had said, about humanities normalness which, despite everything in him which wanted to say no, he seemed to silently and passively agree with. And it was that voice which, as the next few weeks passed, led Jan Kolby to further discussions with Radnick Darkthorn on the nature of Omega’s foundational beliefs and the ‘Galagon Proposal’.

It was while he was on holiday with Chance, thinking over Darkthorn’s many consoling words, that Jan reached something of a conclusion. As Darkthorn had clearly expressed, all life, especially sentient life, was important to God. All beings were his precious creation, so Darkthorn maintained, loved, cared for and valued. And it was precisely because humanity, so Darkthorn claimed, had it in its heart of hearts to care about all of God’s creatures, that they were chosen for their role in galactic life. And that role, so Darkthorn claimed, had been given first to Israel, then the Church and Islam and then, at the final revelation, to all humanity in the golden era of humanities birth into galactic civilization. At that time God had awakened the prophets, so Darkthorn had explained, who had spoken many things to the church and the citizens of earth, explaining them their destiny of being a holy people and bringers of peace to the galaxy first, and then the entire universe. And as Jan gave this idea more and more thought, and with the arguments Darkthorn presented about not being a superior people but instead a chosen people, that Jan allowed his heart to give something of a commitment to the idea. ‘Someone has to be, Jan. Why not us,’ was something Radnick had occasionally said to him. And then, knowing that humanity was simply chosen, and not superior, Jan reconciled the faith which was burgeoning in his heart, with his own particular love for Chance and his children and accepted the plans of Darkthorn and the Galagon proposal. The heart of the Galagon proposal was the unification of all galactic civilization around a core galactic council which, not surprisingly, was set to be established on New Terra itself. It was planned that representatives of all the sentient life in the galaxy would come forth and take their role in the galactic council, with the prime directive of uniting the galaxy, bringing an end to all conflict, and establishing free movement of trade and migration. And going a long way to establishing this was the introduction of the ‘Galaga’, the galactic currency to be established as official and tradeable throughout all the galaxy. In his proposal, the confederation ‘Dollar’ would be replaced by the superior ‘Galaga’ monetary system, which would be zealously promoted as the unifying currency for the inner systems of the galaxy first, and then, inevitably, spread outwards. ‘There is still so much political infighting amongst inner systems for territory and dominion,’ Darkthorn explained to Jan. If we can unite them and deliver to them what they really want anyway, free movement and a more prosperous system for everyone, it will make a better galactic life and give us, ultimately, what we crave most of all. Stability and peace.’ And, the more Darkthorn talked, and the more Jan listened, the more he was won to the idea. So much so that, when the Omega Corporation headquarters on Earth wanted to hear a representative speak of the proposal, Radnick decided to send Jan himself. Jan, so Radnick claimed, was such a more eloquent speaker, full of charisma, and deemed a better choice to win the corporation to what was supposedly part of their overall mission anyway. Jan accepted and has he turned 42, in a life which was turning from Rogue to Politician practically, he accompanied his wife on a scheduled space-cruise, Kalan and Xadina in tow, to the home of all humanity – planet Earth. 5 Funnily enough, the 65 year old Kalan Kolby senior, Jan’s father, was still alive and living in Australia on Earth. Australia was a southern continent, hot in its interior originally, but which had long ago been greened through basic water piping networks from desalination plants on the coastline of the continent. Jan had not run into Kalan since his mid twenties when he left for his life of adventure. The last thing he heard from him was a letter, of all things, announcing that the Kolby’s had moved to Earth to live amongst the ancients, as his father had put it. The Kolby name, having been originally Colby, had had the letter ‘K’ change made by an ancient Australian ancestor, Jonathon Colby, so the family legend went. As such, Jan’s father deemed them Australians as of last port of call, and thus Australia their native home. Jan’s mother, Francine, was also still living, and they now had grandchildren to Jan’s brother, who visited them from out in the galaxy from time to time. Arriving in Australia, heading for Canberra the capital, having docked at the spacedock in Sydney, they drove an old fashioned motor vehicle, solar powered, which also had automatic directional locators, but was allowed to be driven a little in the basic steering from those who could demonstrate the skill. With all his experience Jan passed the basic driving test quite easily, and was allowed to drive, to a degree, the vehicle. They arrived in Tuggeranong, a middle district of Canberra, and using the maps they had been given, followed the address they had been given from a database in Sydney and found the place. It was, really, quite basic. Similar in many ways to his home on New Terra, but not quite as lavish. And the technology was a little behind New Terran technology, but that was not surprising given earth’s non-central galactic location. He and his dad chatted well into the evening, and his mother instantly fell in love with her two strange looking grand-children. But their Arcturian blood only put her off momentarily, soon hugging and kissing them. Earth, these days, from what his father shared with him was an old and established type of society. They were extremely traditional, earth based humans, and held to a quite rigid type of lifestyle based on established societal norms. It seemed that so many of humanities outer planets were discovering themselves still, while Earth had discovered itself, and was in a process of reinforcing the conclusions on life it had gained. They seemed to know what they were about, what they wanted out of life, and followed the traditional pathways which worked to achieve those goals. They were ‘settled’ so his father told him. Jan found all of that quite interesting, and well into the night asked his father questions about Earth culture, something which he probably wouldn’t have been so curious to know about in younger years but which, now, seemingly had grown more important. This, though, was not surprising. Jan was changing. In a very real way, he was growing up, letting go of the last vestiges of roguish, irresponsible youth and becoming a man of society. He was becoming something which he had once belittled but which, now, he understood was the type of person who was the ‘bread and butter’ so to speak of everyday life. And in thinking these very thoughts, gave even more thought to the idea of ‘normality’ which Radnick Darkthorn spoke to him of. The Corporation had set no specific timeframe for Jan to be there, but was aware he was coming. So he could take some time with his family for a while, and in fact decided to spend a whole year, adapting to life on earth to understand its culture more properly, before engaging in his dialogue. Better to understand the mindset of those he was talking to rather than rush into anything too soon, he thought to himself. And in those words, perhaps there was wisdom. 6 Jan sat in the crowd at Bruce Stadium, watching the home team, the Raiders, play the opposition, the Bulldogs, in a traditional Rugby League Football match. Thinking over his father’s words on the sense of tradition associated with earth culture at the present time, Jan thought on the Rugby League match. It was old now, Rugby League. Over 2000 years old, a very established tradition. And thinking over the yelling of the crowd and how they all went home or to the pubs satisfied with something to mull over, a home victory, Jan thought on how tradition itself played such an important role in human life. He was, even out walking the Rim, in a Galaxy with a new civilization to encounter every week, a son of humanity raised with values and ideals which had been bred into them for countless thousands of years. And as each generation passed, its value system was shaped by those before them and attributed its own sense of morality and justice. And for those values which lasted: for those ideals which had staying power and were affirmed time and time again, tradition arose. Traditions, icons of normality, which society revolved around, which filled in the every day humdrum of human life. And on earth those traditions and the way of life, he could honestly say as his father affirmed, were so much greater than the new world of galactic life, in human civilizations which were, to a degree, still discovering themselves. But the human being itself, despite the societal circumstances it found itself in, rarely changed. And as such all humans were commonly linked. He researched the founding of the League of Nations and the United Nations back 2000 years ago. The UN was still a functioning body on earth, used to co-ordinate international and intergalactic economic policy by and large these days, with most other social concerns now addressed and stabilised upon. In the beginning of its mission, poverty, environmental concerns and social justice were a large part of its mission and taken very seriously. But those issues had been addressed over time, and now mainly the ongoing maintenance of international economic policy and galactic economic policy was the concern of the body. His father explained to him that in the late 2400s, before the advent of Earth into galactic civilization, the economic problem as it had been called had practically been solved. But galactic life brought new concerns, and galactic economic management, given the scope of possible intergalactic commerce, would likely never be finalised or completed. And in that idea Jan saw an avenue of approach, a key part of his address, to deliver to Omega Corporation. For earth, ultimately, the advantage of a stable galactic economy, which Galagon could ultimately ensure, surely had to be in their best interests. It was one particular idea which would form a cornerstone of his presentation. That night, after the match, his son Kalan having quickly become a raiders fan, Jan was satisfied with the way his preparations were going. He planned, now, to visit other social institutions on earth to, hopefully, even better prepare for his presentation. In the words of his father, failure to prepare was preparation for failure.

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