Pariahs and Peacemakers

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Twenty Six

Construct R051E shimmered with newly found confidence as she inspected her own avatar. Shayara watched her cautiously from the captain’s chair, positive something was indeed wrong. “The unscheduled ejection from the Senate mainframe severed the control the Votheen AI had over me,” R051E informed as a stunned silence swept over the bridge.

“What Votheen AI? The one from the space station?” Shayara urged nervously.

“Correct. It did not download into the mechanical units that attacked you. Instead it hibernated in my lower priority systems waiting like a virus to spread to a new host.”

“So where is it now?” Jarner fired back stunned that their AI was so comfortable in what she was saying.

“It knew we’d go back to The Keep. It has infected their systems in an effort to lower the planetary defence grid when the main invasion begins.” Shayara felt like she was going to be sick. She had been taken advantage of and had singlehandedly smuggled the most dangerous security threat that had ever dared to cause harm to the Senate and its people onto the planet. “Fuck, as if humanity hasn’t had enough bad press,” James Crow breathed with a deep damning sigh.

“That explains your instability,” Jarner realised all of a sudden as things began to make more and more sense.

“Warn the Senate immediately R051E,” ordered Shayara but the shake of the AI’s head confirmed their worst fears.

“Communications are already being impeded, Captain. I fear we are too late.” The Votheen certainly had a solid plan which could be expected from centuries of meticulous plotting. Shayara cursed herself for not foreseeing her part in the supposed downfall of the Senate. If the Caliterrian ever learned of their involvement they’d demand the head of every member of the Pariah’s crew.

“Any good news?” Jarner pleaded, more optimistically than he felt. The AI nodded.

“I believe I have something of value, yes. I’ve set course for the capital ship of the Human Confederate Navy, The Protector. We are being summoned by President Alexander Wilhelm. I’ll bring everyone up to speed there as I require time to analyse what I have.” She smiled slyly and collapsed back into her emitter. Shayara looked at Jarner and then James with a ponderous scowl.

“Should I be optimistic right now?” Jarner shrugged.

Early Pay Day had ample space for all the new occupants as the often crammed cargo hold was completely empty, its cargo held by Senate Security as evidence. Vad didn’t particularly care as he had his old rust bucket back and his health for what that was worth. His attacker had luckily had a poor shot, the bullets had missed all vital organs and the only real damage was the face shot that had shattered the skull all down one side. Luckily there had been no lasting damage to the brain. It had taken him a few weeks and numerous operations to recover. He had a steel plate holding his head together. Thanks to swelling on the brain he’d not remembered the attack or anything about himself until the back end of week two. The Human that had attacked him was one of the men who had handed over the cursed cargo that’d had gotten him into all this mess. As news broke Vad pieced together that the Human was likely a part of the Underground Resistance and wished to keep their involvement secret by cutting off any loose ends. He knew that the xenophobes could have eyes and ears at any level so not wanting to hang in one place for too long, for the fear that they may discover his survival, he checked out early and took refuge in another hostel on the opposite side of the city. It didn’t take long for Isaac Jericho to track him down and give him the offer of a life time. As long as the Sarcurian could give them safe passage to the Human Fleet he would get back his ship and his life. Isaac forged Colonel Larik Kass’s clearance and released Early Pay Day as promised. The thing that clinched the deal was the hope of getting back at the resistance and in part the Votheen. It also helped that he supported the Human’s stance when it came to what the Caliterrian had done to them.

Alexander sat motionless on a low hanging beam in the corner of the cavernous bay contemplating where it all went wrong. Feet shuffled closer as he raised his glum gaze to meet the counteractive smile of Isaac who held out a warm cup of real Earth coffee. He flung the ceramic mug into the waiting paw of the President before taking a heavy seat next to him. “Real caffeine. I am impressed.”

“Even alien smugglers have expensive and fine taste it would seem.” Isaac smirked as he took an un-charming amount into his mouth and gulped it down loudly. Alexander felt like a snob and had to remind himself he was now among soldiers, real men’s men. When he thought about all that Isaac had done he realised he would much rather keep the company of Isaac than any politician. What you saw is what you got and he didn’t hide behind smoke and mirrors. Alexander heard the smack of lips as Isaac finished and began to initiate speech, “We’re a few hours from the fleet. Apparently Ventii has something for us.”

“I knew she wouldn’t let us down.” Alexander smiled in the first genuine sense for several weeks. His face ached.

“She’s one hell of a Captain,” Isaac agreed. After his encounter with her he’d done a little research, a lot of it not legal. He’d even gotten her black operation postings. She was every bit the person he suspected she was and more. He knew as well as the President that she could be the difference when the war found its way home. Isaac stood up and began to walk away but stopped as Alexander called out, “Are you conflicted at all that you sprung me?”

“Honestly, sir, no. Humanity needs to stick together and without a leader that’ll be pretty difficult to do. Arkan needs to learn he’s not judge, jury and executioner. The Senate is a democracy.”

“So we thought.”

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