Galaxy at War

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Chapter 6: Humongous

The next morning, bright and early Cara, Partner and Roy met at the hotel lobby after breakfast and ran into Captain Wilson, the commanding officer of the Gayimeera. He was out of uniform and wore a short white dress and carried a sports bag with a long handled thing sticking out one side. He waved at them as he came out of the IST.

“Colonel Halvagh and Mr. Masters. I was just about to call you but running into you is even better.”

Roy remembered that Cara’s last name was Halvagh and that she was a Colonel. He also still thought it was a quite deceiving for a Saresii man to look like a real hot looking blonde with legs to the sky and a skirt that barely covered his round behind.

The XO of the Gayimeera, even though being half Terran was telepathically gifted and gave Ray an impish grin.

“Oh yes indeed it is quite deceiving and fun.” Then he changed the subject. “The Gayimeera did need a new bow shield projector after all. The Nogoll missile that hit us overloaded the coils. Nothing serious but due to the war they are short of projectors and have none that fits in stock.”

Cara said .“So how long will that delay us?”

“They ordered one from Ross 123 and it is already on a Post ship and should be here on Eightday of Red Week and since we got Threeday, it will be here in five days. Fitting it is a matter of hours and we should be on our way to the HHW on Sixday latest.”

She sighed. “I hoped to be on Sares for the Silver-Cat festival so Roy could experience something that happens only every five years and get a good first impression.”

“O, I think we still make it to the festival, Colonel. We just ditch the planned stop at Blue Moon and go straight through Intergalactica SW 1 and that will get us to Sares Gate on schedule.”

Roy had no idea what they were talking about but he understood that they would be here for five more days but still somehow manage to reach Sares without much of a delay.

Cara seemed pleased with that and thanked the Captain for the information.

Captain Wilson held up the sports bag. “I am using the stopover for a few Tennis matches. The station has excellent facilities and I am participating in a local competition. Are you two care to come along?”

Cara spread her arms. “We would have loved to see you compete in whatever it is you are about to do, but we are on our way to visit Humongous and the Bellebees.”

Roy also had no idea what Tennis was. “I don’t know any Sports really.”

The blonde captain shrugged. “You should check it out one of these days, it, but then you can play Tennis anywhere, but meet the Bellebees only here.”

The Captain left and turned the heads of a few human males, most likely not even suspecting anything as Wilson did not look very Saresii, being blonde and tanned and all that.

Cara did not say anything but rolled her eyes at Roy’s thoughts.

His new friends already waited outside the hotel and all together and a taxi ride later they boarded a local shuttle bound for Humongous

The shuttle was packed to the last seat.

Cara leaned over and explained to him that Belle Station was located about 12 Light minutes above the local Star still called Kappa Andromedae as the sun was known to Terran Astronomers even before the Ascent.

Since the Bellebees had no name for their own sun (not being able to see it) the name remained.

Humongous was the 4th planet of the system. The planet had 14 larger moons, all occupied and utilized by the Union. According to the information he got from an onboard brochure displayed on an info screen, there were several large cities floating in the gaseous layers of the planet.

As they approached he noticed how different it looked to the planets he had seen so far.

Sensing his unspoken questions, Cara said. “It is a Jovian planet. Jovian means it is a planet similar to a big gas planet, called Jupiter. We Saresii have a completely different name for giants like that, but for some reason the classification Jovian stuck and now the entire Union is using it.”

“And Jupiter is where?”

“It is a Gas planet in the Sol System. You know where Earth is, the home system of the Terrans. Humongous however is bigger than Jupiter or pretty much any other Gas Giant. It is one of the biggest know planets in the Galaxy. Some say it is a failed sun”

“If you say Gas giant, does it not mean it is made of Gas and thus just a puff of nothing solid?”

“You really skipped a lot of school, you know. Planet classification is taught in 5th grade.”

“I am getting that and that is why I am on my way to Sares, of all places, to catch up.”

She answered his question. “Some Gas giants do have a solid core, but have technically no solid surface. Pressures and conditions change the properties of such basic elements like hydrogen and helium to such dense material that you can indeed walk on it, given you wear the right protection.”

She pointed at the dark red ball that was getting bigger by the minute. “Humongous is a little different than most Jovian planets and scientists argue to this day if it a Super Jovian or a failed Brown Dwarf. The planet is right at the threshold of becoming a star. Conditions there are even more extreme than on other Jovians and Surface temperatures right above the metallic helium layer hover at around 1600 on the K scale or about 1326 degrees on the old unscientific C Scale, so many Terrans still prefer.”

The red ball had little in terms of features and appeared more like a dirty glowing sun with some orange swirls.

Roy kept looking at the planet and said. “How can they have a city on a planet like that? How could life develop?”

She smiled. “The Union has Cities on the surface of Stars, a research station near the Galactic Center and many hundred thousand floating cities on Jovian planets. For example the temperatures outside Bright Star City on the sun the Non Corps call home are many thousand times hotter than here, the radiation conditions near the Galactic Bar are so intense they could even kill a Takkian and yet we have a research station there. I know of a certain green planet, where everything is deadly and yet even there people live.”

Aat the Saran girl sitting right behind him said. “To me our Union is even more fascinating than the rest of the Universe. We visited Gore II just last year, and that is a planet sized organism.”

Ncchsi the big Suron female next to the Saran said. “I too wonder how life could develop on a place like this failed sun.”

Carla turned to better answer. “How life evolves and exists on planets like these are questions scientists, scholars and theologians try to answer for a very long time. Heck we don’t really know why life really comes to be on a Garden world. However Roy’s mother was one of the foremost authorities on energy consuming and energy transferring life forms and she was an authority on the Bellebees and she was well known and well respected among them and that is the reason for Roy’s invitation by the way.”

He looked away. “I know, she tried to tell me about the Bellebees and I remember only fragments. I didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

She put her hand on Roy’s shoulder. “The Bellebee we are going to meet is eager to make your acquaintance because he was a good friend of your mother and he knows about you.”

“He knows about me?”

“Yes, your mother most likely have mentioned you and the Bellebees do not forget anything, not the smallest detail. They can remember every word anyone has ever spoken to anyone of them.”

Alejandro sitting one seat row ahead turned and added to the conversation. “They know the name of every Union Fleet Crew member since there is a Union Fleet.”

Carla nodded pleased and gestured towards the now sight filling image of the planet. “They are Union Members for quite some time now and because our technology allows them to actively participate they take membership as serious as a religion. They are even more serious about it than the Shaill or the Pertharians and that is saying something.”

The shuttle’s view ports closed and the passenger view was replaced by view screens. Roy noticed that the shuttle extended wing like control surfaces as it dove into the planet’s atmosphere. Despite computronic flight stabilization some shaking and bumping motion came through . The pilot ensured the passengers that this was perfectly normal as they entered a 1600 miles per hour storm layer. Air and matter particles pounded the shuttles strong shields with supersonic speeds. The view sensors compensated for the strong glow and an after a twenty minute descent an artificial structure became visible, floating in a fantastic swirl of every shade of red. From the softest pastel pink over saturated orange to deep red and dark violets. The structure featured an illuminated Union flag in its center, proudly proclaiming that this construct was of Union origin. It had the appearance of a star like wheel with sixteen spokes and at the end of each spoke was a pine cone shaped appendix. At the center of the wheel was a sphere like hub.

As they approached he could see hundreds of softly glowing pumpkin shaped things float around the cones and settle into spoon shaped tubs.

As one of the floating pumpkins passed close by, he realized how big those things were.

Cara said. “This is Ukdu Aigs, he is one of the Old ones and about 800 meters across.”

“You can tell them apart and know them by name?”

She tapped to her ear. “They are hard to read with Psionics as their thoughts are simply overloaded with a flood of details, but I am also a Data Head and I tuned my internal PDD to the Belle-radio frequencies. He floated by to say hello and wanted to know if you are aboard.”

“Is he the one who knew mother?”

“Not in person, no. That would be Moke-Dies. He has already docked in his spoon-tub, remember they do share all the species memory. Ukdu-Aigs is excited to meet you.”

Roy had no response to that. It was another one of these events that were so much bigger than him and something he simply wasn’t prepared for. He sighed. “I hope I won’t make a fool of myself.”

“I think you will do just fine.”

“Do you think I should get myself such a Data Head thing?”

“I would wait if you are still serious about becoming a Marine. They get their own implants.”

The shuttle approached the hub of the big wheel and slipped through an energy membrane.

Inside it was just another high tech dock, smaller of course than on Belle Station, but still the same activities went on everywhere he looked; freight handling by robots, beings traveling in every direction on foot or on slide belts. The only real difference were the huge view ports. Instead of deep space once could see the swirling red hued swirls of color outside.

After a short trip on a slide belt across the landing deck, Roy, Carla, Partner and his five new friends came towards a row of wide doors with a big sign reading: City Access.

There by the doors a sizeable committee of uniformed humans and human sized Bellebees floating above the deck plates, awaited their approach.

Cara whispered. “Those are size reduced Avatars of actual Bellebees.”

A human sized Bellebee Avatar actually wearing a black Uniform with the Union Flag on the side, established itself in a central position.

“Hail and welcome Roy Masters of Green Hell; hail and welcome Partner of Green Hell. May the winds lift you always to rich feeding grounds. I am Ukdu-Aigs an Elder of the ones you call Bellebees. The one of Highest Respects has told us that you are humble and honest and not out for glory. That you do not wish to be celebrated, yet being the core cause why 234,405,403,003.50 beings still live is certainly not a deed that should pass without any recognition”

Roy wished he knew what to say and how to address the alien correctly.

“Mr. Ukdu-Aigs, I am really just a teenager from Green Hell. I was only a small part of the events that unfolded. The others who were with me deserve praise. Alejandro the Stellaris and Ncchsi the Maggi-Suron didn’t even hesitate a second when I wanted to blow up the bomb.

Sobyr delivered the message. Without him there would not been enough time and then there is my animal Partner who teleported Sobyr to the station. I had the smallest part in all of this.”

“I am long enough among humans and other beings to understand the fine nuances of human emotions presented in facial expressions and tone of voice. Even though my eyes are artificial, I can sense your embarrassment. The Eternal Warrior was right when he said you would be uncomfortable if we tried to celebrate you.”

The band seemed to have received an unspoken command and left without playing and the Bellebee floated closer. “We will heed the Immortal’s advice and your unspoken wishes, yet we want to express our gratitude.”

Roy felt better already after the band and half of the officials left and he waved his hand.

“No worries your Highness, it’s just that I feel it’s a bit over my head.” Then he rubbed his chin, “Just one thing I do like to know. How did I manage to save half a being? I mean the point five number means there was half a guy?”

There was a moment of silence and then one of the officials started to giggle and someone else started a suppressed laugh.

The male voice of the Bellebee also sounded amused. “No, Roy Masters not half a being, but we Bellebees have access to quite precise numbers and there were 3,434,112 births and in correlation to the precise time when the last bomb was intercepted, one mother was at the exact moment of giving birth so technically her child was not entirely to be counted as an individual.”

That statement clearly impressed Roy. “Wow that’s whamo. You knowing all that I mean.”

“There is an Earth tradition where one can become a honorary member of groups and institutions and we like this tradition. In this tradition we like to pronounce you and your partner to be honorary members of the Bellebee civilization. It must be an alien and strange culture to you, but Humongous will always welcome you in ways no outsider ever will be.”

“That’s sure a nice sentiment, and you are not all that strange. We got something like you right on Green Hell. Of course not as smart or as big but the gas bag floating part I mean.”

“I read your mother’s papers on us and on the Lightning Dragons of your Home world. She was a remarkable scientist and understood us. Do you know that her work was instrumental in improving our health services and developing a medical treatment for a disease that plagued my kind for a long time?”

Roy pressed his lips together and then took a deep breath.

“No I did not know. I did not listen as much as I may should have when she talked about her work, I don’t have the same interest in science as my parents had.”

“We observed that the offspring of humans not always chooses the same career as their parents do. It is not necessary that you follow your mother’s path. It is however important you follow your own and it appears that your family’s path is already intertwined with ours.”

One of the human officials stepped forward.

“I am the City manager of Humongous One and while I can understand your sentiment not to bask in glory or expect much fanfare, I hope you allow us to celebrate the fact that we still have a sun and our lives. You are of course a guest of honor not just for today but as long as you and your partner live. I make sure the same invitation goes out to the rest of the individuals you mentioned.”

“Thank you.” was all that came to Roy’s mind.

There was a big dinner after all, in a spectacular restaurant, with view ports showing the colorful swirling outside. He wondered if looking at that all the time would drive people crazy and Cara explained that most residents didn’t even see it anymore and most view ports could be blocked out or show any scenery desired.

After the dinner, which was actually pretty good and since he had a few formal dinners in recent history, he did not feel totally out of place.

Especially the lessons he got from Cara while he was aboard the Silver Swan were quite useful now.

To his delight he saw the others also enjoying themselves: Sobyr, Aat, Ncchsi, Alejandro and Pictfram. The City manager had kept word and made sure they were invited too.

He didn’t have much chance to talk to them, as they all got the grand tour of the City and the Manager himself did the tour guide bit.

Sobyr, as much as he tried, could not completely deny the fact that he was a Thauran and he did enjoy being at the center of attention.

While his new friends continued with the tour, Cara and the Avatar of Ukdu-Aigs took him through one of the wheel spoke connections to meet Moke-Die.

The IST dropped them in one of the cone shaped appendixes and Ukdu-Aigs said. “Would you care to go outside? Union Technology developed special flight suits allowing a Human to leave the city and share our environment.”

“I made a fool out of myself in a space suit just recently and I sure don’t want to meet my mother’s friend bumping into everything.”

“You can meet Moke-Die. Just like me as an Avatar of course, but this is not free space. Up and down do have meaning if that was the problem in space, besides the Suits do have computronics that do the flying.”

Roy agreed, but had mixed feelings as he stepped into the Auto Dresser.

He had to laugh as he saw Partner, also wearing a flight suit. Tailored to his shape and size. He was certain that Partner didn’t need a suit but, his four legged friend looked very proud having a suit and his mental pictures seemed to say. ‘this time I got a suit so you don’t have to leave me behind.’

Cara was right behind him as he stepped through the Airlock membrane and into the atmosphere of the huge planet. The Bellebee Elder’s Avatar blinked out still inside the station, two of the humongous balloon shaped beings were hanging right outside.

Ukdu was right, this wasn’t deep space, this was much worse! Yes there was an up and down, and the suit kept him stationary with grav projectors and positioning jets; at least for the moment. For some reason his mind told him that he was hanging a few hundred kilometers above a swirling storm. A storm they had told him was raging with wind speeds at over 1600 kilometers per hour and that storm created a whirlpool like vortex that appeared to look like the maw of a gigantic monster.

While his sense of Danger was silent, he still could not completely ignore a feeling of fear. So he decided to not look down too much, get the meeting over with and leave Humongous. He was certain becoming an honorary member of the Bellebee society was a great honor and all that, but he did not exactly want to spend much time here. The floating city was nice, but it was just another enclosed space. He preferred a planet with a surface and forests, preferably jungles. In other words a place just like Green Hell. He realized that he was a little homesick again.

He almost missed the radio signal, the reason he was here in the first place and he told the suit to connect him.

“Welcome, Roy Masters. I am Moke-Die and I am a friend of your mother.”

“Nice to meet you, Sir. I have to tell you however my mother is dead. She and my father were killed in a pirate attack, a little while ago.”

“I am a very old Bellebee and I still get confused using the Avatar technology. This is why I wanted to meet you like this, young Masters. Let Cara and Ukdu talk while I show you a few magnificent sights.”

Roy carefully adjusted the thrusters and slowly followed the huge being.

“Alright Mr. Moke-Die. I am right behind you, at least if that dark orange colored section counts as your behind.”

“We don’t really use such designations. Come up and sit on my top, that way you do not have to concentrate on flying that contraption.”

Roy did follow the advice and the invitation and Partner followed as well, he did not use the suits thrusters yet he managed to steer just fine

While sitting on the surprisingly hard surface of the beings upper side, it said. “Those suits are as marvelous as all Union technology, but I assure no Bellebee has ever failed to fly while it was alive.”

That was actually quite reassuring and Roy relaxed a little. “Yes sir, I believe that right away.”

“I am one of the last Bellebees that came to be before we were Union members. As you know we have none of the senses you have, senses that are needed to interact with Non Bellebees. I have no ears, no eyes and this Avatar technology all the younger Belles loves so much gives us simulated ears and eyes, can you imagine how confusing sight can be to someone who never saw anything?”

Roy nodded and then realized the Alien could not see his nod and said, “Yes Sir, I think I can imagine, sort of at least.”

He wondered why the Bellebee was telling him all this, but then it appeared that as alien and strange as they were, their old people seemed acted not so different from human seniors. He also noted that they were already many hundred kilometers away from the City. The huge majestic balloons that appeared to move so slow actually traveled in wind currents of supersonic speed.

The old Bellebee seemed pleased with that answer and continued.

“Your mother has been here on Humongous for a year, working on her thesis. While she wasn’t the only Union Biologist who studied us; there are always ten to fifteen around at any given time; she was one of those who really cared about her work.”

Again Roy nodded inside his helmet. “Yes being a scientist was everything to her.”

“She discovered that some of us could get sick from Ozone when it passed through a weakened food membrane. She developed a food supplement, much like you humans need vitamins and eliminated a problem that plagued us for ages and was the cause for the premature death quite a few Bellebees.”

“I will add this to my memories of her.”

“I am telling you this, to explain to you why I dedicated whatever live I have left to her and that self-elected task of course extends to you and I did that long before you decided to save us all.”

Roy sighed and looked to partner who sat next to him behind a shimmering force field bubble of his suit that automatically created a perfect aerodynamic lens shaped bubble. Roy was certain he had one around him too, “It was not just me.”

“I analyzed the events and I came to the conclusion we would all be turned to Supernova ashes without your intervention; but let us not talk about this.”

“Thank you!”

“When the news of your mother’s death reached Humongous, I was mourning her passing indeed. However I am Bellebee, young Roy Masters. I collected every bit of data I could find. Fleet Reports, intercepted Kermac telepathic messages, flight plans and mission parameters and every bit of even remotely connected data. While I analyzed that data, I discovered that a clerk on Pluribus had leaked the mission plan of the UES Zheng He.

“A clerk on Pluribus did what?”

“Giving someone access to the flight plan and mission specifics of the Explorer Ship your mother was on. It enabled the pirates to plan a trap and intercept that ship. She and her Kermac sponsored Spy handler have been apprehended and will receive the punishment spies deserve.”

Roy no longer felt bored by the sermon of the old Bellebee. The UES Zhen He was the Explorer of his mother and it appeared the Kermac deception he thought was over ran much deeper. He clenched his fist and said. “If there is one thing I learned not to like, it’s spies and clandestine missions and all that.”

The Bellebee elder went on. “Yes, I have collected and analyzed everything I could find and due to my security clearance I was able to analyze your recent adventures as well, as you and any data you created are of course relevant to my dedication to your mother.”

Roy watched as they passed two other Bellebees, one of them appeared fleeing from a greenish glob with tentacles and what looked like a round mouth full of teeth. While he wanted to hear more what the Elder had to say, he interrupted. “I think one of your fellow Bellebees is about to get eaten or something.”

“Oh how wonderful eyes are. Yes I noticed the Belsnap. They are our natural enemy, but they are rare now. We Bellebees have never been completely helpless against them, as we have the benefit of sentience. We used to gang up on them and crush them, but the Belle out there just play with the poor Belsnap. They both are Union Citizens and carry shield generators and weapons.”

A bright bolt of energy glared across the violet sky and pierced the green glob and it instantly fell and disappeared beneath the swirling colors of angry clouds.

The Old Bellebee said with sad regret in his voice. “There are voices who say we should preserve the Belsnap and we elder can see wisdom in this, but the young ones like the two you are seeing want to be like Terrans. Do not understand me wrong, young Roy Masters. We are Union Citizens and very proud of this fact, but I wish the young ones would also listen to the Elders and not trying to emulate Terrans too much.”

Roy frowned and said. “I don’t like this killing for sport and no real reason either. Off Worlders try to stomp through our jungles in Armor suits and think the answer is to burn, shoot and blast everything in sight, yet they disturb the balance and at least on Green Hell, pay the price for doing so.”

“Cara described you well; you are an impulsive teen as the young of humans and Bellebees have been since time begun, but you do have a quality of deep perceptiveness and wisdom that makes you quite different. Your mother was a lot like this and that is why I always considered her a real friend.”

“How about my mother, there is more to what you wanted to tell me, right?”

“Yes there is more.” The Old Bellebee did go on. “The UES Zhen He was attacked by a Pirate Ship called the Green Snake, commanded by a pirate known as Captain Coldblood.”

The Bellebee paused for a brief moment and said.

“When I say I am analyzing information, I use the collective knowledge and memory of all Bellebees and I co-relate info to other information based on meaning, impact and relationship. While a Computronic can do the same and even faster than us, these machines cannot see the significance of a rumor about a pirate transmitted via Tachyon radio...”

He paused again. “I am trailing of the subject and it isn’t important for you how I do thing.”

“You are talking about events that affected and killed my parents, so I am eager to hear whatever you know, but that does not mean I should not know how you alien floaters do things. I kept myself ignorant and did not learn what I should have. Nothing I learned in the Jungles has any meaning out here.”

“If you look at your life and all the events that occurred to you, all the decisions you made as we do, the Bellebee way, you will realize that everything you did and learned was important in the forming the person you are.

The sum of it all influences all decisions you make and will make. You don’t want to hear about it, but your decision to trust your big animal instead of running away forged the first bonds that allowed you to save billions of lives. If you could see the net of connections I can see, you would be amazed what even the most minute event has on the great whole.”

“Yes Sir, I think I understand, but could you go back again to the Green Snake and that pirate?”

Seamlessly the Elder Bellebee continued: “Analyzing this pirates patterns I concluded that he is acting under Kermac direction and the Pirate identity and behavior pattern is a cover.

Captain Coldblood knowing when and where the Zheng He would be at given time, strengthens this conclusion considerably. Checking many sighting and scan reports, the Green Snake is not armed well enough to take out a Union Explorer under shields, therefore I ordered a detailed trace inspection of the area where the Zheng He was destroyed.”

“You can order something like that?”

“I carry the rank of Rear Admiral in the Union Fleet and I am attached to Fleet Operations, like many other Bellebees are, so yes investigating the demise of a Union Ship falls within my authority and I can dedicate assets, within certain limits and frame works of course.”

“What did that inspection find?”

“The detail sweep of the region resulted in two specific findings. One is the use of Nul Gravo Mines, that had to be set up prior by a bigger ship, and the other result was the discovery of much of the Zheng He’s debris and her log book drone. Furthermore we concluded that the bridge module that can be jettisoned as an emergency craft was missing from the mass of debris”

Roy’s mouth became dry and he completely forgot that he was floating in a violent killer atmosphere. “Tell me everything!” He yelled.

“Slaver activity, the recent sale of a Union Bridge module on a Golden Bazaar, reported by a NAVINT operative, the content of the log book and your recent dream where you correctly identified the name of a Klack that was part of the Zheng He crew leave only one conclusion:”

“You mean that there is a chance my mother is alive?”

“The last Log entries describe the attack and that the Module was jettisoned, your parents were present on the Bridge at that time.”

Roy unconsciously had known it the entire time and now as it was said, there was no doubt in his mind that this was true. “What is done to free them?”

“There is nothing done, Roy Masters. Your parents if they indeed survived are most likely sold as Slaves and all known Slave markets are in Freespace.”

“Why not? We got a fleet and we got military for that very reason. That is why it exists.”

“The Union prohibits the trade in sentient life forms, but as big as the Union appears, we are not alone in the Universe. While our ethic understanding and our laws recognize fundamental rights for sentient individuals. It is not an universal concept and there are many who see nothing wrong with slavery and sentient beings are just another commodity.”

“I understand that and I don’t care what others do, but my parents and the others were abducted. The Colonists you spoke about were Union Citizen.”

“And have the Shiss and the Nul enter the war as well? No, Roy. The Union will not break the treaty now. We are winning this war, our calculations are correct I am certain, but it is better we concentrate on one enemy at the time.”

Roy became angry. “My parents! The others, I saw other humans in my dreams as well! They are held in terrible conditions. This is what the Assembly needs to do! Free Union Citizens and protect them from being abducted.”

“This is a sore point and is discussed at least once a week at the Assembly. When loved ones make petitions; when raided colonies make the news or when pirates attack civilian ships, but there is no easy solution.”

“Are we not at war? Is the Free Space treaty not voided?”

“Yes indeed and I am not defending the pirates or anyone committing crimes against our citizens. I just wanted to explain to you how difficult it is to really police and protect every colony and every ship. Space is awful big. The distances between star systems are truly tremendous and it is easy for others to find gaps in our armor. An entire enemy fleet made it to our Star system despite the fact we are at war and the fleet is at highest alert. They managed to get battle ships into the Maxwell System.

You just experienced a space battle and the Kermac’s plan to turn the tide of war. The fleet, the Assembly simply cannot guarantee the safety of everyone. We are already at war, going against slavers, breaching the contracts and treaties we have with the Shiss, the Nul and others carries a high risk of War escalation. Our chances to win that war are good, but by no means certain.”

Roy sounded defeated and said less angry. “But my parents?”

“You know how much we respect your mother, but the chances of them still being alive is not very good and even if your dreams are indeed caused by some sort of long range telepathic phenomenon, they could be at a thousand different places.”

“If you knew all this; if the fleet or the government can’t help me; why tell me in the first place?”

“The government cannot help you, but that does not mean I won’t help you. Not as member of the Armed forces, but as a friend of your mother.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, but what could you do? I mean you guys are all smart and analytical, but I think a fast ship and a commando unit would be needed.”

The huge gasbag had an amused sound. “Well yes we are physically quite limited and more or less stuck on this planet, but you should not underestimate analytical thinking and the application of results. We have many sources of information and I will attempt to find out if they are indeed alive and where they are. Once I am able to get details, we can make plans, secure the necessary resources and affect a rescue.”

“I need to postpone my trip to Sares, my plans to join the Marines and need to find my parents. I just know they are alive!”

As he was saying this, he said. “Cara knew about this, didn’t she and so did Admiral Stahl. They knew there is a chance my parents are still alive and didn’t tell me.”

“Young Roy Masters. I cannot claim to know what the Immortal Warrior knows, but I can assure you that even if the Universe will try to deceive you, he will not. There are very few constants in this galaxy, Admiral Stahl however is one.

Now before you make hasty decisions and let emotions overtake sound reason, please be patient. Heated action without any direction is quite silly. We will stay in contact and as soon as I have news I will inform you.”

Roy could not really think to say anything else as “Thank you!”

“Now we must first ascertain that they are indeed alive and if they are find out where they are being held.

I might be just a bag of gas to you, but I can access and analyze every rumor, every intercepted communication and that is what I am doing right now.”

“And then? Will the Union Fleet get them, before they are dead for real?”

“I cannot give such orders and even your remarkable friendship with the Immortal himself won’t change the fact that the fleet or the Union cannot help you.”

“What good will it do to know they are alive and there is nothing to be done?”

“I understand your emotions, but you maybe it helps you to add a little Bellebee to your mind and really hear all that is said. The Fleet can’t help your parents, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done.

Once we established they are alive and their whereabouts, you will learn that our Union is not ignoring the cries for help and that there are ways to help your parents.”

-“”—

The Bellebee changed course and headed back to the City.

Roy knew of course that Stahl would not deceive him. The Immortal left everything in the middle of a war to come to help him personally, but he was angry.

“How about Cara?”

“She is your friend I am sure, but it is you alone who must make the decisions who you can trust.”

“Sir, how would you try finding a pirate?”

“I am an Officer in the Union Fleet. If I knew the whereabouts of any Pirate within Union territory, that Pirate would meet with a Battle ship instead with a merchant ship, but Free Space is beyond our reach and the Intel assets we have there are few and not all are reliable, but if I were you I would talk to the Wurgus. They get around and you are as it appears the first non Wurgus to have the ear of the All Patriarch.”

–“”-

Back at the floating city Cara greeted him, she was already back inside and asked. “Had a good time out there?”

Roy decided to keep this new knowledge to himself at least for the time being until he had time to form a plan as how to find his parents.

He said. “Yes I learned a few things about the Bellebees and watched them blast some sort of predator beast.”

“There aren’t too many humans who can claim to have ridden on the oldest Bellebee.” She gestured to the IST tunnel. “In the light of our ships delay, we are not in a particular hurry. Your new friends should be done watching their show. I for one will take advantage of the VIP status we got thanks to you . They have great SPA facilities at the local Sheraton.”

“I am sure they have.” He said not really sounding very enthusiastic.

“Don’t knock it before you tried it, you and Partner can join me of course or you can go off on your own and see if you find something to pass the time. Of course I would appreciate if you try to call me before you decide to go on any unplanned adventures.”

Partner sneezed and sat next to Cara and Roy said, “Are you serious? SPA is like sauna and hair and massage and stuff like that.”

Cara laughed with her clear voice and scratched Partners side. “He is a very smart animal after all.”

Partner really liked hearing that.

“You are the most vane, sleepy beast in the whole Galaxy. Go ahead get pampered. I see if I can find Sobyr and the others if they are still here.”

Roy had left Partner and Cara at the Cities Spa and beauty center.

Shortly after Cara and Partner went in, he actually could feel the comfort and joy his animal felt. His four legged friend transmitted mental images of a dozen exotic beauties all cooing about him. Roy smirked and was glad his friend enjoyed himself.

He had no plans to relax, there was nothing else in his mind than his parents and what he could do to find them and rescue them.

If he told Cara, she would watch him even closer. As much as she claimed to be his friend, he still felt she had an agenda that superseded the friendship part. Of course there was the Wurgus meeting and the recent events showed how potent their technology was.

So him being at that meeting by request of a Wurgus Patriarch was important to the Union and Cara was more or less there to make sure he made it to that meeting. But he also remembered the old Bellebee mentioning the Wurgus. Maybe he should try to reach that patriarch, but how?

If he called the Immortal admiral, he would tell him the same as the Bellebee admiral. Not even Stahl would risk widening the war for a few human slaves.

Perhaps Uncle Sam would know. He used to go hunting pirates and all that before he settled on Green Hell.”

He found a GalNet terminal in the hotel lobby and sat down after activating the privacy screen. “System, connect me to Sam Brown, Green Hell.”

“Requested party has a GalCom account, but has no registered GalNet Terminal and is not listed to have any active Comm devices. Do you wish to leave a message?”

Knowing Sam, it could be month before he went to Ant Hill to check his messages. “System, new request. Connect me to the Union Post Office.”

“Accessing, Union Post Office interface active.”

He selected the record option and said. “Uncle Sam, it’s me Roy. I really need your advice in an urgent matter. Please contact me on my PDD as soon as you can.”

He then had the message put on a physical chip and send via Union Mail to Green Hell. The chip delivered to Ma Swanson and she would send one of her employees with a flyer to Sam. A bit slow but at least he was certain he would get it.

“System what is the charge?”

“All charges have been covered by the Bellebee Society account. Do you wish to use a different account?”

“No.”

As he left the booth he was greeted by Aat, or more precisely pointed out by her as she raised her voice. “Guys I found him.”

Sobyr and the others gathered around him and the Thauran said. “You are hard to find, but we sure appreciate the sentiment. State Dinner, guests of honor and all that. What did your mother do to them exactly?”

Roy sighed. “She cured some sort of disease they had.”

Ncchsi managed to make her lizard face look impressed. “Curing a disease, you must be mighty proud of her.”

Alejandro padded Roy’s shoulder. “Yeah Sobyr’s father is only the station commandant and was never invited to the Bellebees.”

Sobyr looked around as if to make sure no one else could hear. “They sure like to tease me about my Thauran roots.”

“What is it with that Thauran thing. I don’t understand.”

Aat laughed. “I guess they don’t have any Thaurans on Green Hell then.”

She smirked I Sobyr’s direction. “They are known to be the most arrogant, self serving beings in the Universe. Able to teach even the Kermac how that is done.”

Sobyr spread his arms. “Worst part is we know it is true, but it is part of our culture and we made a science out of it. I try real hard not to be too much Thauran but sometimes I can’t deny my roots.”

Alejandro looked around. “Where is Partner?”

|Roy closed his eyes and could see his big now being friend submerged up to his eyes in a big tub of steaming mud. Cara and several other girls, wearing nothing at all sharing the tub. Roy sighed with a smile. “He’s taking a mud bath with Cara and enjoys every minute of it.”

Pictfram’s alien face split like a fruit and a purple tongue like thing appeared for a second . “Oh that sounds awesome, I love mud baths too.”

Ncchsi agreed.“Me too!”

Roy shrugged. “I guess you could go there as well.”

They were still standing in the Hotel Lobby and Sobyr said. “I am not really up to sitting in a tub with mud, what are your plans for the rest of the day?”

Roy shrugged. “I was planning to do some research.”

Sobyr blinked surprised. “Thanks to you we are honor guests in a Lux Hotel till tomorrow, that means free food, free snacks, entertainment and all that. You didn’t strike me as study nerd like Alejandro, besides School won’t start for another month. What are you studying?”

Roy really wanted to share the news he got with someone so he said.

“I just found out that my parents might still be alive and kept as slaves somewhere in Freespace.”

Sobyr pointed to a seat group island in the hotel lobby. “Why don’t we sit down and you tell us all about it.”

Aat nodded. “I remember you telling us that they were killed by pirates.”

They all sat down and Roy more or less told them, what the Old Bellebee told him and when he was done, Sobyr said.“We need a Ship and a fair amount of money of course. I think I can scratch 50,000 together, what about you Aat?”

Roy raised his hand. “Hold on! Ship, Money, what are you talking about?”

Sobyr said. “We going to help you of course to find your parents. We need a ship to get to Freespace, the Calypso won’t go TL that far and then we need money for weapons, supplies and bribes and such. To find out where the Pirates sold your parents.”

Alejandro leaned forward. “I bet we find could information at Alvor’s Cove. I heard it is a famous Slave Market.”

Roy felt deeply touched by the reaction of these five new friends. There was no hesitation at all, they were clearly willing to sacrifice their money and future to help him.

“Guys , I appreciate your sentiment and there is nothing I would like to do more than to jump into the next space ship and search for my parents. I even think with all your help I would have a chance, but I can’t accept your offer. You would throw away your future and going against Pirates and Slavers is too dangerous, what if one of you gets hurt or dies?”

Sobyr looked at him as if he spoke Nul. “You’re a friend, doesn’t matter if you a new friend or an old friend. Helping a friend is the highest calling and the cost is irrelevant. We Thaurans might be perceived as arrogant a-holes but we have an old code of honor and I find it worth living by it.”

Roy said.

“Alright then, I am in no position to reject help but we need to plan this before we run into the blue. If we fail my parents are doomed for sure and if we spend the next ten years searching space, we will be too late.”

Alejandro said. “Then let’s do the research together.”

Aat got up. “We need to find out where this Green Snake and Captain Coldblood usually strikes; where pirates like him hide out and sell Slaves.”

Roy sighed. “You know this is probably the dumbest thing we ever do, and yet part of me doesn’t even want to wait. I feel every moment we waste could mean they are coming too late. Maybe they are dead already.”

Ncchsi said. “I call Inklung, he’s a Leedei. I will be right back.”

The Maggi-Suron rushed to the GalNet Booths.

Pictfram said. “That’s a great idea, maybe Inklung can get us access to a Telelistener”

“Can you explain to me what a Leedei is and who is she calling?”

Sobyr shrugged. “I have no idea, I never heard of Inklung either.”

Alejandro tabbed the coffee table between them, activating the computronic interface and said. “System establish field screen above table, access GalNet, display Leedei.”

A gray somewhat humanoid being was displayed and Alejandro said. “They come from Dwarf Galaxy M32 and are quite advanced and have Psionic talents on Saresii levels and perhaps the best Psi Tech of anyone.”

Sobyr snapped his finger. “Oh right, those are the guys who accidentally discovered the Bridge, by pointing their PSI listening device to a section of space that was void of any stars, deep space between Andromeda and the Milky Way Galaxy and received the Psionic thought activity of millions of minds. Their device had focused on the Bridge

Alejandro half obscured by the projection nodded. “Yes, they discovered the Bridge by using a Psionic Telescope, called the Telelistener.”

Ncchsi came back.

“Let’s go. Inklung might be able to get us access to a Tele-Listener.”

“What are we doing exactly and what will the Telelistener do?”

Alejandro turned to Roy.

The lizard being flickered with her tongue and said. “Inklung was in my class for a while, they are at least as good as the Saresii with psionics. Maybe they can use that device to trace to the source of your dreams and thus find your parents location.”

Alejandro nodded. “If I understood Ncchi’s friend correctly, they can find a known Psionic brain wave, using that Telelistener clear across the Galaxy. Since you know your mother’s mind, you connect to the thing and we find out if your parents are still alive and maybe even find out where they are.”

Now that was the first concrete plan and it raised much hope in Roy. “Now come to think of it, Doctor Seniie the CMO of the ship I came in, mentioned a Tele Psi device. Where does this Leedei live?”

The lizard said. “Inklung said we can come right away. He and his family live on Kappa VIII, that’s the outmost planet of this system. There is a shuttle connection leaving from Belle Station every 5 hours. ”

Roy felt like sitting on needles and he wanted to go right away.

“Could we visit your friend with Avatars?”

Ncchsi declined his head. “Sure we can but Psionics won’t work with Avatars. You need to be there physically. Inklung doesn’t know your mother’s mind.”

Roy pulled his PDD and said, “Connect me to Cara.”

She answered right away but did not activate the visuals. “Your friend is alright, Roy. The girls here argued for about ten minutes who would be allowed to massage him. Now they are all petting him and even though I have no Psionic connection with Partner, I can tell he is really loving it.”

Roy felt his animals emotions and she was right, Partner was very relaxed and loved every minute of it. He concentrated on the conversation and said. “I am calling because we wanted to go Belle Station and then visit a friend of Ncchsi.”

“We are in the system for at least three more days. Go right ahead, but keep in touch and please let me know if you plan to get into any unusual situations.”

He knew she was sensing some of his thoughts and he didn’t want to lie to her so he said. “I will let you know.”

He planned to tell her what he was planning as soon as he had an idea what that would be and of course preferably from a GalNet terminal already halfway to his parents, so she could not stop him.

Just as they wanted to leave the hotel, Partner popped into existence right before them in a cloud of perfumed air. No matter how much he liked where he was, Partner felt that Roy was about to leave and there was no place Partner wanted to be more than at Roy’s side.

Roy did stop in his tracks. “What in the world did happen to you?”

Partner’s usually coarse and black neck fur had been brushed and there were pink highlights and a Rhine stone encrusted hair clip sparkled between his glowing horns.

Partner sneezed very proud and happy.

“I have a feeling you won’t have any problems fitting in on Sares Prime. You sure don’t look like an Imperial Fury Beast.”

Aat cooed. “Oh but he looks so adorable and he smells so nice.”

Partner gave Roy a defiant look and sneezed.

-“”-

The trip back to Belle Station was eventless and so was boarding another long range shuttle to the outermost planet of the system a few hours later.

The intersystem trip would take only 35 minutes as the shuttle did have FTL engines and would bridge most of the six light hours in Quasi space.

Sobyr did not even bother with finding the seats and went straight to the shuttle’s small lounge for a burger. Roy was too excited to eat or feel hungry, so he opted for a glass of water.

“What are they doing so far out? I mean what is on Kappa VIII?”

Sobyr munched happily on his burger and waved to Alejandro who only had a coffee. The Stellaris said, “This is a Member species System and every rock and floating real estate is either occupied or under construction to be occupied. Like most Union Star system, the outermost planet is first and foremost used as a long range listening and scanning outpost. On Kappa VIII is a large Union Army Post with a compliment of Gunships. There is a System defense battery with Loki torpedoes and the region’s GalNet repeater station. Those large repeater stations usually have a crew. Kappa VIII also does the maintenance for all GalNet Buoys in the region.”

Ncchsi ate her raw uncooked burger. She did not chew but devoured the burger in fast snapping motions and swallowed the pieces whole. Roy could picture how she would sink her teeth filled jaws into a prey animal and it was clear to him that the Maggi-Surons developed from a fierce predator life form.

Despite her somewhat frightening appearance, she was a nice person and she said. “SII has a factory there making GalNet buoy parts or something. All in all I think Kappa VIII has a population of 200,000. That isn’t very big but far from small. Inklung’s Sip Sap is a Union teacher there.

Sobyr wiped his mouth with a napkin. “I love those White Castle Burgers, they only serve them on Shuttles around here and they come all the way from the Sol System. Not printed food but Zero Stasis real meat.”

Roy still wasn’t hungry and said .“Maybe I have the stomach to try one on our way back. Did they get attacked during the battle?”

Sobyr shrugged .“I don’t know but unlikely. Kappa VIII is currently on the Galactic South side and the Kermac-Nogoll fleet came from the North side, that is Core ward in Sector terms. Even if they were, they have Loki Batteries and not just one. The Army Gunships probably didn’t even launch. They are useless in an all-out space battle anyway, everyone but the Army knows that.”

Sobyr checked the time and ordered another burger from the Lounge waiter. Then he said, “The slide caves on Kappa VIII are worth a visit. If we are successful with our attempt locating your parents, we should visit them. Four Kilometers of a steep ice cave tunnel you can slide with a Duro-Plast board. Great fun I tell you.”

-“”-

Kappa VIII didn’t look like much from space. It was a dark dull gray ball without a visible atmosphere. The local sun was nothing but a bright star among many other stars.

But as they descended, Roy noticed a bright lit dome in the otherwise stark and featureless gray landscape.

He hasn’t really traveled all that much and seen only a few other places, but so far none of them could hold a candle to Green Hell.

Sure enough the town on Kappa VIII, once they had landed, was no different than Anthill inside. The same bright corridors. He was quite happy to see that the corridors and the main concourse featured quite a few green plants and open water.

A weird looking semi-humanoid being, gray from head to toe waited for them. The being was about as tall as Sobyr and had two legs and two arms, but arms and legs had at least one more joint. The head was completely smooth except for three darker almost black areas where eyes and mouth would be. The being appeared as if wore a tight fabric semitransparent fabric over his head that smoothed any facial features into a vague representation of a human face.

Aat noticed Roy staring at the being as they approached. “The Leedei developed on a planet with three suns and there is never any darkness or night. To protect their eyes they and many other life forms of their planet developed a second skin-like cover over the actual eyes that is semitransparent and filters out most of the bright light and harmful radiation.”

Ncchsi performed a complicated greeting ritual with his hands and Roy noticed the Leedei hand had eight fingers and each finger had at least six joints and looked almost independently alive and more like many legged insects than hands.

Ncchsi turned and placed her scaled hand with sharp claws on Roy’s shoulder.

“This is Roy Masters and the big black thing answers to the name Partner.”

Then she pointed to the being. “This is Inklung, he is a good friend of mine and its Sip-Sap was my Basic School teacher. Inklung is, like all Leedei, a formidable Telepath.”

The being had a muffled, whispering voice. “Nice to meet you Roy and Partner. Your connection to the beast is amazing indeed.”

Roy didn’t even try to repeat the greeting Ncchsi did and simply shook the being’s hand. It was as if a bony spider crawled half up his wrist and he said. “I am too glad to meet you.”

The being gestured to the exit gate of the shuttle landing berth. “Let us go to my home, where you can tell me in detail how I can be of assistance.”

-“”-

The home of the Leedei was located deep underneath the surface, a house carved into a rock alcove. One of many such homes lining a long tunnel wall. To Roy’s surprise and delight he noticed that some of the houses had front yards with green grass and even flowers and bushes. A gaggle of kids two humans, a furry black being and a small Version of a Maggi Suron chased after a ball. A Klack guided a hover cart, wearing the green Uniform of a Union Post employee greeted them clicking his mandibles and then carrying a package to a door.

A woman with a large hat was clipping a bush with a pair of scissors. Roy somehow had not expected this idyllic peaceful scenery underneath the ice and rock of a distant outpost planet and he recalled Cara’s words. She was right, in these aspects the Union was quite fascinating.

The interior of the Leedei home was very dark. Only dim strips of red light provided the faintest of illumination. There was very little in terms of furniture.

Their host led them into a living room where sitting furniture had been added, and from the looks of it in anticipation of their visit, as it appeared out of place.

Inklung gestured to the seats. “Please make yourselves at home. I know Roy is eager to come to the point and we shall as soon as my Sip-Sap can join us, Knunging will be here any minute now. My Sip-Sap is in contact with G 6783, our home world to gain permission to use the Telelistener.”

A S-10 robot in domestic service configuration came in and asked with the same type of whispering voice. “Welcome to the Ging-Lung household, this unit was summoned to provide refreshments. Please state the type of snack or drink you like to consume. This household is attached to the Kroger groceries Network and we can provide virtually any desired refreshment.”

Ncchsi was not very shy and said. “I like a Grobil blood squeezer.”

Inklung said.“Please do as our common friend did. Serving guests as good as possible is a Leedei tradition and it makes us very proud and happy if guests do avail to offerings.”

Ncchsi was obviously here before as she switched on a little light above her seat, “Yes do order something, serving guests is like a religion to the Leedei.”

Sobyr found the little contact and also turned on a light above him. “Well in that case, Robot get me some Thauran Grape Juice.”

Aat ordered Saran Beer. Alejandro wanted a coke with ice and Pictfram asked for a small bag of snack grubs. While Roy really wanted to get started, he did ask. “Any fruit juice will do, maybe Cranberry?”

The robot took the orders and Inklung sounded very pleased. “Thank you, friends of Ncchsi. You made this home a happy one and yes, we can provide almost everything. We have a Matter Radio enabled GalNet terminal.” There was a tone of pride in the Leedei’s voice.

Roy had heard about this technology. It was among the newest developments. He knew the Institute on Green Hell had received one only recently. The technology allowed the transmission of actual matter over GalNet. It was limited to 1000 grams and the Matter Radio enabled Terminals were ridiculously expensive.

He was getting very nervous as the anxiety was killing him. First he heard his parents got killed in a pirate attack. The news affected him more than he thought. His life had changed so much since then. His carefree days roaming the jungles seemed ages ago; and now he was sitting in the dark living room of strange aliens hoping they could tell him if they were still alive. He wished it would be all over soon so he could simply go back. Deep down he even regretted giving Uncle Sam his word to become a Marine. While he still wanted to do that, it was no longer his first choice, he simply wanted to go home. This constant feeling of being in situations he had no real control over made him terribly homesick.

He was smart enough to know that his depression was caused by the uncertainty of his future, the forceful uprooting caused by the very parents he now wanted to save. Maybe he should simply let them rot, where they were. It wasn’t him who wanted them to go on an expedition and abandon the only place he knew as home.

He was a homeless drifter if you really looked at it.

The Leedei reached out for his arm. “I promise we will do what we can to help.”

Just then a second taller Leedei entered the room, right behind the robot who served the refreshments. Despite his state of mind he could not take his eyes of the plastic bag, the robot handed Pictfram. He was certain the little things inside moved.

The second Leedei said. “I am pleased to see you have availed yourself to refreshments. My home and name is blessed by guests and their comfort.”

They all thanked the Leedei for the refreshments and then the taller Leedei said. “I am Knunging, and I am a Union teacher, but right now I am a Leedei and a Union Citizen. I am honored that you came to us in search for assistance in this grave matter. However there seems to be some misconception. The device we call Telelistener is a huge machine and only one exists. It is located at our Home Planet and generally not available to Non Leedei. Usually not even to most of us.”

Roy’s feelings and hopes sank to the bottom.

The taller Leedei held up both hands. “No, do not lose hope, Roy Masters. The reason for me not greeting you at your arrival is, that I contacted our society’s leaders. The Council of my people have decided to allow you to use the device and they are eager to see if the device can indeed be used like that.

Our Council believes if it works, it could be used to locate many missing persons and some of our thinkers already dream of building many more Telelisteners and make them available to the Union Police. Of course there are also voices who do not want us to share this technology this way as it could be abused. You must know we take the Union Psi Laws very serious and it is those laws we find are the greatest gift of the Union to us and to all thinking beings. Psionics are rightly feared and mistrusted as these gifts can be abused. My society’s history is full of wars and conflict arisen from the misuse of Psionics”

Roy simply listened, hoping the Leedei would come to the point. From the corner of his eye he saw Pictfram stuff thumb sized maggot-like things into his four-way split mouth. Despite his alien face that allowed no human emotion to be displayed it was apparent the Centipede greatly enjoyed it.

Knunging sat down and continued. “While my people decide the larger implications of whatever outcome of this experiment. They have, as I mentioned decided to let you use it, first and foremost to see if it actually works like that. In theory it should, but it has never been used to locate a single mind. Despite the idea of your friends, it was never more than a theory.

Your try will be also a scientific experiment. So to assure you, we will help you, but we cannot promise any results.”

Roy was okay with that, no one could possibly ask more of them and to find out if his parents were still alive would be an important first step in planning any sort of rescue.

The taller Leedei slowly nodded.

“Indeed Roy Masters, that would be the logical first step. For me as Union Teacher to know about your plan: six teenagers planning to run away to Freespace and not doing anything to prevent it would go against every oath I took. And frankly every shred of common sense. So our help comes with a price. You, Mr. Masters are welcome to use the Telelistener in the manner described, but it cannot be secret. Your guardian Cara needs to know about it.”

Roy again felt as if he was riding a roller coaster. Every time there was progress there was a new hurdle. “She will not allow it.”

“Assuming things is a trait that appears to be common with many young beings, including humans and the Leedei. She can’t deny you to try rescue your parents. The old Bellebee told you the Union Fleet can officially not help you and that is true, but your circle of friends has increased and they all are willing to assist you.

All we need to do is find a way to do it right and with a plan. You five running off to Freespace will result in you joining your parents as slaves, if you are lucky and more likely cause your death. Both outcomes are not going to help your parents one bit.”

Roy had to agree there was a lot of truth in that, part of him had the same thoughts the moment his friends and him decided to go. He could not possibly be responsible for Sobyr and the rest to lose their lives or their freedom in a fool’s errand. “Thank you Sir, I know it was a foolish idea from the start.”

“Wanting to come to the rescue of your life givers is not foolish, the way you wanted to do it however could be classified as such. Coming to us however was quite smart. I shall accompany you on this journey.”

Roy sighed. “So what are we going to do?”

“We are going to inform your Cara and then we make arrangements for you to come to our home world.”

“From what I was told G 6783 is in another Galaxy, close to Andromeda. Will that not take many months to get there?”

Aat put her arm on his shoulder and said to the Leedei. “He is a smart young man, but he didn’t like school too much.”

Roy felt embarrassed by that, mostly of course it was true.

The Leedei said. “By conventional means it would take many years, but there is a Space train connection. We can be at G 6783 in four days. Like your Cara said, the Union is quite amazing.”

Inklung said. “I am going to be part of whatever rescue mission you guys plan. That is a given.”

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