The G.O.D.

Project: Alpha and Omega Book 6 Author: John Darts

Final Edit 5/25/2008

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible. - Arthur C. Clarke

Copyright © 2008 by: John Darts This may not be used, copied or distributed with out the direct permission of John Darts by any means. This is the sole property of the writer and any rights may only be transferred by written agreement signed by him.

Chapter 1 The Bond This bond between Alpha and Omega was very strong. The two had many characteristics that were the same. Each had strong leaders, religion, methods of doing things and a desire to keep all humans safe in their universes. How they became the powers in their universe was much different. Alpha was developed from the old Earth. Omega started from a planet in what was called the old worlds. Cloned humans populated both in majority. That was a unique way of gaining citizens. But these humans were very well educated and carried high IQ’s. Normal human vices were just not found in this group. The two worlds did not allow people to own land or businesses. They were given to each married couple for their lifetimes. But when both had died it returned to the government for reassignment to another couple. Each family had a high income and accumulation of great wealth was just not allowed. Where on most planets the rich got richer that was not happening here. People all made good money that allowed them to live very well. You just could not make money for the sake of becoming super rich. A person had one farm, business or manufacturing plant. Everyone made someplace around five hundred thousand credits each year. There were no taxes, inflation or other ways to take the peoples incomes. Money was made to allow families to enjoy life. The work on these planets was not hard labor, as robotic machines were used for the hard work. People did the planning and the machines did the work. This allowed a lot of time for things people enjoyed doing. Much time was spent learning about new ways and methods to make things even more efficient. Most worked a twenty to thirty hour week and spent weekends enjoying resorts or the many events. Another thing that made them so much alike was the drive for education. All most every farmer had a lab, businesses had models to guide their buying and manufacturing was always looking for that new invention or idea. People spent immense amounts of time developing new things. Most farms had a small truck farm garden to allow them to spend a day at small markets. These farmers markets were places to talk with other farmers and with customers. Many a good idea was tossed out by a customer during a stop by a favorite seller. People here were friendly and helped each other with any project they had. Stores were often remodeled and customers would offer to help. These people just did not see any reason not to help their friends and neighbors. Omega after fifty years of close relationships had finally merged with three newer planets, to become the Omega system. That was a shock to the old world planets, but there was nothing they could do. Space belonged to Space Command and Omega was their home planet.

Space Command had become a fleet of two hundred large ships and fifty small ones. There was always a ship close to every human planet. This was easily handled money wise as the four Omega planets were the richest in the universe. Much of the fifteen old world planets bought their needed food supplies to allow feeding of their people from these four. This was required to be based on equal trade in merchandise. They allowed no balance of trade to get out of hand. The twenty-six planets that had been set free from the creatures by Alpha had also grown. Trade was happening with these worlds also. Much of their fish excess was sold to the old worlds through the Omega planets. In the Alpha universe they now had a fleet of one hundred and fifty large ships. Cirrus a closely aligned group of planets had another fifty of the large ships. These were used to protect their system and handle other jobs for the Alpha fleet as required. The people of Cirrus were a much older race, but it was Alpha who saved them from slavery. They owed Alpha and would always be there for them. The NOVA system had broken itself down from one hundred and sixty planets in ten groups of sixteen each. This had come when the leader for the whole NOVA system had attacked Alpha. The intent was to destroy those planets and assume power over the entire universe. The people of NOVA did not support this, but now they were paying the price. They still had the ability for use of the planet computer and transport plates. The adventure of space now was no longer and option for them. The fact that these people were a largest system in Alpha’s universe made many worry they would attempt a take over. Then it happened and now most were very wary of any of these planets. The old Earth planet was still a problem for Alpha as leaders still were not meeting people’s needs. But the four new Earth planets with migrants from the old Earth were doing much better. They had adopted the religion of Cirrus and Alpha, which started changing many of their ways. This was initiated by Gorm the leader of Cirrus where the religion had existed for millions of years. It was not like the religions of the old Earth, but a very simple one. No money collected or donations asked for in their churches. The once a week church service was not more then fifteen minutes in length. There were no preachers or leaders that made demands on the people. It was simply the Creators church and the government paid for the buildings and kept them up. The Freedom system was another older one here. It was now five planets and once more closely aligned with Alpha who had a large hand in saving its people. It was another old world that the religion had been in for millions of years. These people were very much like those of Alpha. Here they had the same values, sense of the proper use of money and no one was very rich. But there was no poor here either. People here lived very well and enjoyed life. The last of the planets here were what was called Jack’s Stars. These planets were the home of many children taken by the creatures that invaded the NOVA system. Here Jack the leader of five of the ten Alpha planets was the hero. He had saved the many children

and older youths from the creatures that had used them. It had been his protection that kept these planets for them. The schools, medical facilities and help with starting farms, businesses and factories happened due to his hard work. The young people here would follow him to the ends of the universe. He had taken over helping them once NOVA fell. Alpha had a ten planet system and John was over Alpha one to five. Jack saw to Alpha six to ten. The two men were very different in their backgrounds, but much alike in how they managed. Jack was an MD with a PhD in genetics and John was a business major. John had started the Alpha system, yet both men had come from the old Earth. John’s background had been management in industry and Jack had been an MD both in the Army and in hospitals. They saw things from a different light and yet seem to always agree on the end game. They both saw that the only protection for their universe was to find entry points from others. It seems that there are many universes operating at the same time. Often there are gates, entry points or small openings to allow travel between two different universes. This was how the universe of the Omega planets was found. A spaceship that had crashed on Alpha six was found when the planet was being worked on. Here the ship had a very few humans and a lot of the creatures. But by questioning the ships captain a lot was learned. He led a fleet to the Omega universe and showed them where the creatures came from. Jackson a very big black man was the admiral of the Alpha fleet. He also took control of the fleet when it faced NOVA, then went to help Omega with their problem. The man was a leader that others enjoyed following. He took no argument from others and showed respect to all who deserved it. His current job was controlling the alpha fleet and using Gorm’s ships where needed. That made life seem in both universes like they were in control. It was a mistake that would be very costly.

Chapter 2

The Intruders With the finding of Hyperbolic Space much had changed. This fit the open space theory and meant a never collapsing space. Each universe was always expanding. Of course space-time was measured in four dimensions. You had width, length, depth and real time to consider in any equation. But an open universe meant there were many ways into each universe. This finding was one that caused worry. They had found what was called holes or gates between one universe and another. These seemed to be on the outer edges of the known universe. A hole or gate allowed passage between one universe and the next. So it was possible for a ship to leave the universe or to come into one. Satellites watched the known entries and ships patrolled them. It was the ones not known that caused the worry. Alpha had ships patrolling and looking for any possible entry points. The same was being done by Omega in their universe. But it was a slow task and there was always the chance to miss seeing one of these entries points. You had to be very close before it could be recognized. Once one was found they had satellites to place to monitor that point. Here the instructions were not to enter any universe without a proper fleet. This was due to not knowing what was in that universe. That universe could be a very dangerous place. In the known universes there were good people and those who were seen as the dark side. It fit the good and evil image many humans had. But had been proven true to all of this universe and Omega’s. The dark side had shown itself in both of these universes. Its goal was the destruction of the human race. The dark side had many different faces. It could be a group of just corrupt politicians or a more sinister group of creatures. Evil had many different faces in both of the known universes. On one planet that had been found it had pushed the leaders to total destruction of their planet. This was accomplished by a nuclear exchange that poisoned the entire planet. Not one human or animal survived that. On others an animal that was half human and half large cat had been found. Young humans were used for food and some for breeding to keep the human DNA strong in the offspring. The NOVA planets had been infected with these creatures, as had twenty-six planets in the Omega universe. The adult humans were used to keep the food supplies up and to serve the creatures. It was a nightmare world where they existed. If you wished to survive you served these creatures or died. There was no telling what the next attempt to take over either universe might be? The only sure bet was that something would come they did not want to see. That keep fleets looking for new problems at all times.

Alpha 139 was patrolling a sector where there had never been a ship before. It was not exciting duty and you had to force yourself to pay attention. The ship had never found any entries and wondered if more existed? The captain had been a veteran of two major fleet battles and pushed his people to be alert. His ship was a very large one that carried one thousand crew and troops in comfort. The center deck was a large village of homes, shops, restaurants and pubs. The crew, which numbered three hundred and the troops of seven hundred, had different tasks. The main reason for troops was to defend the ship if attacked and boarded. If a planet were found as livable they would also investigated it. Many of the troops had good science backgrounds. The Alpha 139 was set up for any type of science needs. It had complete genetics labs for creating life forms needed by a planet and most other science areas as well. They mapped the universe and added that knowledge to the master maps on Alpha. But for now they were beyond any star and few asteroids could bee seen out here. It was just endless space with little in it. On the bridge the captain was watching an interesting place finally. It seemed to be like the fuzzy area found to access the Omega universe. He had seen that opening and knew exactly what it looked like. He had slowed the ship and moved it closer to this spot. He had full shields up, as he was concerned about junk coming through the entry. He started to drop satellites and made sure he had the spacing right. “Admiral I have found a entry point at this location.” Jackson was sure he would hear this many more times. “Yes I see your location and the that is an entry point. Have you dropped satellites?” “Yes sir and have shields at full power just in case. I am picking something up in the center of that entry. It is moving this way very fast and cannot be anything but a ship at the speed it is moving.” Jackson looked closely and could see a bare outline of something large. “As larges as I read it you had better be off to the side when it comes out.” “Yes sir I am moving off to the side of this entry and will continue to watch. This thing reads like it is well over twenty miles in diameter and is made of metal. From our radar it is showing to be round and moving at twenty-five light years per cycle. So its speed will not stop us from following it by any means.” “I would suggest you send out a squadron of fighters to follow close and stay back for a time. To be on the safe side use the robotic fighters.”

“Twenty-five have now launched. We think this will be coming out in around ten minutes. The fighters will check out the exterior and we will stay back about an hour behind the object.” “That should be a safe distance for your people. Keep me hooked into the fighters so I can see what they do. I have Hope picking up the data now for checking this object out.” Then as the ship came through the entry he could see just how big it was. The first idea of size was way off it was close to fifty miles in diameter. It was a complete globe and you could see no drive at all. The surface seemed smooth and no protrusions could be seen at all. Yet the ship made a ninety-degree turn and headed away from the ship and fighters. “Captain you had better get a move on as that has now doubled its speed. At this rate it will lose you in a short time.” The Alpha 139 started off very quickly and was now one hour behind the large globe. Its fighters were now very close behind the globe and you could see exit points for the drives. As they moved to the front the entry points could also be seen. The drive system ran through the middle of the globe and no shields could be detected. Several tries were made to hail the ship with no results. It was like no human was on it, but that was not logical. Scans were made of the outside shell and no heat sources showed inside the ship, but the drive system. This brought concern from Jackson and he asked Jack to come to the control room. Both John and Jack showed up very quickly. Jack looked at the screens and then to Jackson. “Looks very different from anything I have seen.” “Yes and it could have millions of humans or hundreds of millions of animals on it. We are showing no heat sources inside the ship except the drives. It can do a ninety degree turn as neat as you please.” John was considering this data. “I would say for now it is not hostile yet. There are no shields showing and it has taken no action with the fighters. So I have grave concerns about taking any action yet.” Jack was not so patience here. “I suggest we shutdown the drives and see what happens.” “That was my feeling also Jack. We have no idea what is aboard that ship and cannot contact it. This is our universe and not the one they came from.” John could not argue with that. “OK I buy that.”

The fighters shot off energy balls into the intakes and they ate the drives up. The ship was still moving at great speed, but not building up more speed. Then shields came up and the ship started to fire. Ports opened and weapons could be seen sticking out of them. Early shots just bounced off the smaller fighters and then shields started to fail. Most fell back and waited for the firing to stop. A door opened at the front of the sphere and machines headed for the drive intakes. They looked like spiders with eight legs and were all metal. A group of six went into each drive tube and disappeared from sight. The shields stayed on as they watched this. Slowly you could see metal being dropped out the front of the tubes. There was a good amount of it building up. Finally the creatures came back out and headed back to the point they exited from. The metal they had dropped out slowly worked its way to the back and was held by the shields. Here the object continued to slow down. It was just so large that without power it would slowly lose forward movement. The Alpha 139 recalled its fighters and sent out twenty-five more to replace them. The ones that had been hit and lost their outer shield were checked to see why. It seem that the shield overloaded and dropped off line. But it had not really been damaged. You could just reset it and it was back. That would require an auto reset be placed in all fighters. This was reported back to Jackson. “Well our shields that dropped off line are not damaged they just required being reset. That will now happen automatically. My first worry was they had something new to us that would negate our shields.” Jack smiled at this and knew how he felt. “Well in that case lets look a little closer and see what we can. The ships computers can handle the resets.” The smaller ships moved in close with no fire coming at them. The outside of the ship was mapped out and now there was a full picture of these craft. Suddenly a voice came over the speaker. “What was the meaning of destroying our drives?” “Sir I might ask what your doing in our universe? I am sure if you had made yourselves known this would never have happened.” The voice tempered a little. “We have been passing this way for millions of years now. You’re the first contact we have had in this universe. I assume your humans?” Jack took the communications from here. “Yes and we have seen enough of the dark side to be concerned.”

The man laughed and you could hear his improved mood. “We have as well and wondered if it existed here?” “May I ask what your doing with a ship as large as the one your on?” “I am moving migrants to another universe. We have fifteen million on the ship headed for new homes. Our ship is normally not in your universe for more that six days.” “Why are you moving people from your universe?” “Many planets are dying due to old suns. There are six more ships behind me now. We found that this new universe has many planets and none occupied by humans. So for the past million years we have been moving our populations. A few planets in your universe were tried, but found not to be satisfactory.” This was news to both Jack and John. “Would you mind our inspecting your vessel?” “Not at all as long as you don’t send troops here. Everyone here is in suspended animation except for a few crewmembers. But you can easily see we are all humans. Our crews rotate time out of the chambers, so we have humans for decision making. But I am afraid you have fried our drives now. We have no one here who can rebuild them.” “How about the other ships you said are coming?” “They also have no one to do that on them. We use four drives and if one goes bad it is just shutdown. But the castings are all gone and we carry no extra ones.” “If you will shutdown your shields we will tow you to a repair facility where that can be done. There are six of them and one not too far from your current location. These are all robotic run and if you have designs of the castings we can make new ones.” This the man considered for a time. “I really have no choice but to trust you. Understand that is not easy for me. I have seen many hostile universes and my trust factor is not high.” Jack laughed at this comment. “Well you can join the club sir. I am as worried about you as you are about us.” Finally the mans whole body was showing. “May be this will help some as you have willing showed me your faces.” “The last ship I saw with suspended animation tube was filled with half human and half large cat creatures. I ended up fighting two wars on almost two hundred planets before that was over. One hundred and eighty were here and twenty-six in another universe. Not one of the creatures exist today in either universe.”

The captain had heard of these creatures and a shiver ran through him. “I am glad I did not have that fight. We lost almost an entire planet when they tried our universe. I cannot imagine fighting them after they were well entrenched.” “It was no fun and especially after we found out how they used humans. Now if you wish we will tow you to the repair station and I will be glad to meet with you. Your ship will be checked out by our troops and as long as there are no creatures we will repair your ship. Then will offer an agreement for crossing into our universe.” That seemed like the best bet for finishing this trip. “I agree and assure you we have none of those creatures. But your free to inspect the entire ship.” Four tugs came out of the Alpha 139 and moved to the large sphere. They hooked on and started to turn the ship. It moved slowly at first and then picked up speed. “Now we will watch the rest of the ships coming behind you. As long as they follow the track you did they will be allowed to pass.” “The course they will take is five days up the line I was running and then off to the right back out of your universe. This run has been going on for a very long time now. But as your captain noticed we tend to not answer messages and just are in, then out of your space.” “We will take no actions with your other ships except watch them.” “If you do that no one will both you at all. These ships do not go looking for trouble.” The ship was towed back to an outlying base. It was the one used for patrol ships to get maintenance and fix any major problems. Not more that fifty ships stopped here each year. Most were for minor repairs and did not stay long. But the giant sphere being towed in caused much excitement. Once docked the captain came out and shook hands with Jack. “Sir I am sorry we did so much damage to your ship.” Jack was very formal with him. “I should have responded to your captains calls. To be honest when I saw the size of your ship and the smaller craft coming after me it would have been smart. But I really did not know a major space power was here.” “We have just a few hundred of those ships. In this universe Alpha is the peacekeeper. Our ships protect every human planet here.” That seemed like a lot of ships. “Why so large a fleet?” “We have found that the only way to be respected is by sheer force. The dark side does not understand anything less.”

This picked up the mans interest. “You talk of the dark side and mentioned it before. Where does that description come from?” “Our religion for one and the Creators words for the second.” This was now of extreme interest. “What religion is that?” “We learn from the book of Life and that has been here for millions of years also. There is also the book of Religion and that was brought to us from another universe. We were given a giant diamond the size of a bolder cut perfectly. From that we have heard the words of the Creator.” The man reached out and took Jack’s hand. “Well brother we share the same religion. Back a few years ago we were told of a perfect set of worlds called Alpha.” “That was how the Creator described our planets. We lived his laws and did not know his words. But Cirrus has had this religion for millions of years now. They are a very close part of our Federation.” “I also know of Cirrus as they were the only space culture known in this universe.” “Now for the immediate problem do you have the plans for the drive?” The man pulled out a disk and handed it to Jack. “It is all here and there is drawings for each piece. Now I have fifteen men on the ship now awake. What do we do with them?” “I am guessing this may take a couple months to rebuild the drives. So they can either stay here or on the ship. Our rooms here are very nice and there is a computer screen in every room. Food is above average and we will do what we can to entertain them.” Jack had noticed the ring the man wore. “I see one of the rings used in religion.” “Yes I serve as a church leader. Much of my spare time is spent reading new books found on the subject.” Edgar walked up and handed the man a copy of the book from Alpha. The man took it and opened it and nothing happened to the ring. “I am Edgar the leader of Alpha’s religion.” “Good I will enjoy talking with you about it.” Edgar asked Jack for a minute of his time and they walked back to the control room. “Jack he is no leader of the religion on our side. The ring failed to glow when he had the book in both hands. So expect there to be something very odd with his passengers.”

This Jack had also noticed. “I will be sure we check closely every inch of this ship. We will get his crew off and may be open one or two of the tubes. Talking with some people may tell us more.” “Get his people off the ship and then watch them closely. My gut is telling me that they should have had a engineer who knew the drives well.” Jack led the captain and crew to an area where they would be fed and allowed to sleep. He advised that they would be here for a time and that a robot crew was now assessing the drives. They all sat down and food was brought. Jack excused himself to see about parts. When the door closed behind him it was to stay that way for some time. All rooms were monitored and listened to all the time. There was no place to hide or get away from surveillance. The ship was really big on the inside as well. But much of the equipment was very much like that of the Freedom system. Jack had medical equipment brought in knowing the problems he had with Zima’s people. They picked three males and three females and started the tubes for opening. A group of twenty troops was on hand for any possible problems. This like before took two hours before the tubes slid up. Four had no problems and two did. Jack use shock to get the hearts started and watched until they were safe. Here he needed Hope’s help. She appeared and smiled at the people. She tried several languages and none seemed to work. Finally one woman said, “does anyone know what she is trying to say?” Jack smiled at her. “Well at least we speak the same language. Now please tell me your story?” “Sir it is nice to hear our language once more. We come from a planet called Zeon. Most of us were captured and are being sold into slavery. These ships have been raiding the many planets in our system for millions of years. None of us knows where we are going or what labor we will be required to perform.” The story was the same with each person. This made Jack wonder just what the full story was. He did tell them the story the captain had given him and all laughed at this. Hope continued to talk with these people and added much to her knowledge of this. Then she warned Jack that the captain was trying to get to his ship. “Troops please arrest the captain and crew and place them in cells alone. I want no one to be able to communicate with another. Hope tell the captain of the Alpha 139 to shoot

drives out on every one of the ships coming through the entry. There is to be six behind this one and I want them stopped. Also send them any help that can get there quickly.” Jack lead the six people to a transport plate and took them to John’s office. That did not surprise him as Hope did warn him Jack was coming. “Well what is the story Jack?” “Edgar handed the man who said he was a religious leader a copy of the book and his ring did not glow. So I at random open six tubes and these people were in them. They are from a planet called Zeon and said they were kidnapped for slavery purposes. This has been going on for millions of years now. It seems they come in where the Alpha 139 found them and run six days in our universe. Then they head back out into another universe. They have had to transport trillions of people over that time.” John just sat back and let this flow over his mind. “If you have one of you who is willing to describe this trade please do so.” An older man started and went on for almost an hour. He provided the history and the story of the current ship. It was a nightmare from John’s point of view. He called up a doctor from the clinic and asked they be checked for any medical problems. They were taken down and blood was drawn bodies were scanned without the shot. That shot would extend the life of anyone it was given to. But for now they wanted the data. The blood work showed some very strange things no one had any idea what they were? Here Jack got into the genetics of this. Finally he compared these blood samples with the children he had helped. Then it all clicked for him. All of these samples had the characteristics of children who had been on the breeding planets. Now what does this mean that was now the question? Jack headed back to John’s office. “My friend we have a bigger problem than I had thought. The blood work of each of those people shows the same things that the children on Jack’s Stars did. It is a viral problem that comes from the animals.” This concerned John greatly. “Is it something that can easily be passed?” “Not without sexual contact. But these people have the creatures on their worlds. I am not so sure that they may not be on the worlds where they are being sent as well.” This made a chill run down John’s spine. “I had hoped that this was over and now we know it is not.” “I have Hope questioning them now. She has many answers for us. Their system has hundreds of planets so this will be no cakewalk. We have no idea of how many planets are in the other universe?”

“How are you going to handle this?” “I have ordered our ship to take out the drives of every ship that comes through. Without communications between the two universes they should not expect us. That will for now stop these transfers. A drug was developed for Zima’s infected people and it worked well. So these six will get that drug. Now you or I have to go talk with Omega. Going into that universe without at least two hundred ships would be mad. The drives on these giant ships are very old but still serviceable. So I think they existed before the takeover.” Gorm had come in and listened to Jack’s report. “I have records of those ships going back thousands of years ago. They never bothered anyone so we left them alone.” “Well they have been moving humans to another universe. Hope has calculated that there are twelve million people on that ship. With seven of them we will have eighty-four million total people. There is no way to place them on a planet in this universe. But for now we need to work on putting together a fleet. I am sure Simon will help us there.” Gorm smiled at this, as he knew that Omega would. “I will give you fifty ships, but as usual you supply the robot troops.” He laughed when he said it. “That gives you one hundred and fifty ships now. What will you ask Omega for?” “I think another hundred ships will assemble a very nice fleet. I would like to have a few of their small ships to go with us.” “You go talk with Simon and see what they say.” Jack shook hands with Gorm and thanked him for his help. Then headed to the church and the transport plate there. It was the only way to transport to Omega. You went from the church here to the church there. It was a gift from the Creator. When he stepped off the plate the two Simon’s were sitting there and waiting for him. “Well bad news must travel very fast.” The father smiled at this and shook his head. “Yes, I got the word before you ever stopped that ship. What are your plans for the next six?” “We are going to take their drives out as well. That delivery system is going to stop running.” The older man was not sure Jack knew the size of this problem. “Jack there are eighteen ships like those. So getting the seven will not stop the trade. But it is a start and everything must have one of those. Now how many ships of ours do you want?” “I would like to have one hundred and a few of the small ones.”

Simon looked at his son. “Well son what do you think?” “I have the hundred large ships and twenty-five smaller ones we could allow to join the fleet. But who is going to handle the fleet?” “To be honest Simon I have not come to that yet. My first worry was to put together a fleet and then find the robot troops to man it. Now that we have a fleet of two hundred and fifty large ships and twenty-five of the smaller ones. That decision seems to need an answer.” Here Simon wanted to go back one more time. “I would like to take command of this one. As you know I have fought these creatures and know how that is done. This is very personal for me Jack.” “I have no problem with that if your father agrees.” Simon’s father knew the reason his son wanted this mission. “You do understand son it is no place for your family?” “Yes and we discussed it before I came here. It could be a five-year or better mission so that is understood as well. I have no commander I would trust to assume command here. Jackson and I talked and he does not want this mission. He is very happy with his current job and has two he felt might be close to ready. But he was not sure of that. They he was sure would make great attack commanders as they have been there before. So the fleet will be divided into five fifty-ship squadrons. I will direct the squadrons and they the ships in their groups.” That seemed reasonable to Jack. “As you know that is pretty much the way I ran the operations in our universe. Jackson followed that same method here. But this time we have no idea of their ability to fight in space? The large ships present no major threat, but what else do they have? We just don’t know.” “That I have considered and am ready for what comes. I know we are going to get hit at some point. How good the technology is we have no real idea.” “Yes we do and their energy weapons are beam type and can caused shield failures. It just requires a reset but that can cause problems in a major fight. I have our ships being modified with automatic resets. That includes the fighter craft as well. We are now doing a complete look at the large craft and trying to learn as much as we can.” “I need to know if I will have science crews for bio weapons creation?” “Yes we will supply five teams of scientists for that purpose. I would expect that you would not want to get below twenty-five ships per attack. We used fifteen here as we knew that not much space opposition was possible. But ten attacking ships and fifteen backing you up in space would be I think safe.”

That sounded right to him. “I agree this is going to have to be slower until we know what to expect.” “No it is going to have to be slow because you will never know what to expect. The two universes are very different and you will never know where an attack may come from. It may be when you think it is all over and then you get hit and hard. If you ever let your guard down you are really going to lose people. There is nothing to compare this with before this time. It is a whole new dimension.” That took some time for Simon to accept. “I see what your saying, but why do you think that is true?” “The dark side is very deeply entrenched in these universes. It has been there for about one million years now. So you are walking in to the lion’s den. Be sure it will be known your after both universes. They will see this as a battle that cannot be lost. Here is where the creatures were exported from to start with. They are once more exporting them to another universe. So your going into the heart of their home ground. Here the dark side will fight like never before. Taking out twenty-six planets like here or one hundred and eighty like NOVA is small potatoes. I expect you to find thousands of them there.” “Why do you think it will be harder?” “The humans know nothing but life under these creatures. They will fight to save their way of life. I am sure they felt life is like that everyplace.” The father looked at his son. “You had best believe what you have just been told son. He has told you the absolute truth. The book I read often says this was to come. I did not know where it would be, but knew one day it would happen. The outcome will depend on faith and the willingness to fight long odds. I feel that even with the two hundred and fifty ships you will be a smaller fleet than the one your going after.” This was enough to make the younger man think. “I will use the Alpha as my flag ship. The stone is still in the chapel and if I need guidance I know where to go.” “I also can give you a little help as well. Right now Vortec is building three thousand probes with spraying ability. Hope is pulling a star map together with each planet marked where humans and creatures should be. This time your not going to be able to leave troops like we did. So people are going to have to find their own way. That means placing a control room on each planet and leaving ten robots to watch and help where possible. There is no way to even put a computer on each planet. So once the universe is clear I will send ships in to check on each freed planet. Slowly we will organize them and set them up.” “How can you do that Jack?”

“I still have seventy ships of the old fleet in mothballs. By staffing them, they can patrol that universe until things calm down. We are going to have to give every human a shot to kill off the virus in their systems. Now I will warn you about one issue I had. Your going to get very angry with what you see. Don’t let that anger take your mind off the issues at hand. The war comes first and destruction of any fleet they might have.” “Son that is very good advice. Here you need to be as cold and calculating as possible. You can be assured that there will be at least one planet where the leader lives. That is where the fleet will be. I would expect if they had any concern about losing they would run for it.” “I will have twenty ships waiting for any running out of that universe. We will block the door for you. Once that is known they will have no choice but to fight your fleet. Now I need to get back and make preparations for you.” Jack did not like what was to come. Jack shook both men’s hands and the older Simon handed him a ring. “Wear this in good health Jack. It will help you see the events happening. Between you and I, may be we can be of help. I would suggest you start taking those ships out of storage soon.” Jack left and headed back to the church at home. He had put the ring on and saw it had a hammer and anvil carved into it. Then he reached into his pocket and saw the one the man had worn also had that. It had been removed when his clothing was taken. The idea was to make them feel vulnerable. When he entered John’s office he was still working. “Glad your back Jack. I have crews for the seventy ships now. They will report tomorrow and start re-commissioning the ships. All are past command staff and crews. When I ask for ten crews of science staff for genetics work I got twenty. Everyone knows this is a five to ten year project. That includes the ships people.” “You did that faster than I had expected. But you need to try this on.” He handed John the ring from the captain of the giant ship. Placing the ring on he picked up the religious book and the ring glowed. “Well the other side got no good from this one.” Jack then showed John the ring on his finger. “The carved symbol is the same on these two rings. I have no idea what it means, but thought that was interesting. This one was given to me by Simon Sr.” “We have much yet to do and little time to do it.” “Simon is going to lead the fleet. He will use his ship Alpha as the flagship. I will send twenty-five of our ships to the entry points for each universe. The seventy ships can handle normal patrol duties.”

“I think that is a good use for them. My biggest concern was that they might have to fight before they were up to par.” “My plan for them later is to go into that universe and help the people. They will need to get shots into everyone and help organize governments. So there will be much work to be done after the war. For a time I see us as having to keep the peace in that universe.” This was a concern for John as well. “I see no other option either. We will most likely have to create a base in space there to operate from. It would be nice if a planet or two were not infected, as they could serve the universe as protectors. That decision will have to be made later after we know the full story.” The two men left and headed home. There were many things to consider and little real knowledge to make judgments on. Here the star map being pulled together by Hope would tell them a lot. The computer on the giant ship was a very old chemical type. So gaining the information was slow going. That next day Jack walked into the prison area and asked for the captain to be brought to him. The man walked in and you could see anger. “Just what do you think your doing?” “We have arrested you and your crew. Your transporting a virus in your people on that ship that comes from the Cat creatures. The only way that could exist here is by having sexual contact with them. So you are now being held for trial by the Federation.” That shook the man and it could be seen. “Every world has them so what is so unusual?” “No every world does not have them. We have killed them off in two universes. None exist in either one today.” “By what right do you decide what is or is not allowed?” “Do you remember when I handed you the book of religion?” “Yes, so what not everyone believes that garbage.” “I knew you did not believe it. When I handed you the book that ring you wore did not glow, as it should have.” Jack reached out and picked up the book with both hands and his ring glowed brightly. “What is that about?” “Had the ring glowed on your finger, then what you were telling me would have been true. That did not happen and Edgar and I both knew you were lying. We brought out six of the people you were carrying and found out more of the truth. They have been treated

and in a few days will be free of the virus. Now any ships coming from your universe will be disabled as soon as it hits ours.” “Your looking for big trouble. Our universe had a fleet of hundreds of ships that will destroy you.” “That remains to be seen. But we have a small fleet of two hundred and seventy-five ships going after the creatures in your universe. Twenty-five more ships are blocking each entry point. Your weapons have zero effect on our ships. So it will be interesting to see how well yours come out.” “The grand leader will destroy you and your fleet.” “Now that is truly and interesting comment by you. It seems you have never seen this so called fleet before. Matter of fact you have questioned its existence yourself. I know you killed the man who wore the ring you had. He led one group of those fighting these creatures. Things are not quite as strong as your projecting now. Your days as a ships captain are over for good. How long you spend in prison will depend on your degree of cooperation.” “I am not going to cooperate with you or anyone.” “That was expected captain. Have you ever heard of the dark universe?” “That is a myth of your religion.” “No actually it exists. Two guards are coming in now ad will walk you to an arch. That is bathed in a very bright pure white light. You will be required to walk through that arch and when you come out it will be in the dark universe. That will happen to each of your crew. They of course will get to see you disappear. It may help them decide to talk. Now every crewmember is now out of their tubes. We are going to allow the Creator to judge each of you.” This now really worried the man. “I don’t understand this judgment by the Creator?” “He is pure energy and therefore the pure white light on the arch. It is his decision where you go, but if your part of the dark side that will be to the dark universe. The easy way to see this is good and evil. He brings the good to his universe and sends the bad to the dark universe. Now we have people waiting to see you walk through the arch.” Two troops walked in and took the man by either arm. He was led out and there were one hundred people standing and watching this. Everyone had seen the conversation between Jack and the captain.

“Now people you each will have the same choice as your captain did. You can help us or walk through that arch. It is in the middle of the room, so you can stand all around it and watch. That way you know exactly what will happen when your turn comes.” The lights came on very bright and people circled the arch. Troops stood behind them armed to stop any attempt to escape. The concern showed on those faces, as they did not believe this could happen, but also were not sure it could not. Slowly the captain walked to the arch and stood for a short time. Then he walked into the light and was instantly gone. This caused much conversation in the group. “Now the navigation officer will be next. Please step forward and go with the guards please.” This woman was not happy about this at all. “Look I owe nothing to those creatures. I will tell you what I know.” She was taken off and given to one of James’s people. This woman would suck her dry of information. The story went on with some walking into the arch without coming out and others deciding to cooperate. In all about half of the people decided cooperation was better. But the other half were now gone and that made things better. The information pulled out by interrogation provided a very good picture of where these creatures were. It also filled in the fleet they had. This data was very good on weapons, defenses and how they fought. Six key planets were identified as the central governing ones. In the second universe it was found that there were seven hundred and twelve planets now with humans and creatures. People were moved there every twenty-five years as populations grew. Data was passed to the ships now guarding the entry points. One more giant ship had been disabled and was being towed to the repair facility. This game was going to happen for a time. The captain on this one gave up quickly and advised he had tens of thousands of creatures on his ship. He had not even been asked he just volunteered that information.

Chapter 3 The Second Ship The ship was finally docked and the captain brought to Jack. He was very young and had a quick smile. “Man I was glad to be hit by your ships.” “Why is that sir?” “I am part of the underground fighting these creatures. My father leads a group that hurts them anyway we can. So his people arranged my posting to the ship. We needed to know where these ships went. By the way my name is Ned.” “Nice to meet you Ned. I am sure you understand the dark universe right?” “Yes, we know it well. That is a part of our religion.” “The last captain tried to claim that as well. When he walked through the bright arch he left this universe for the dark one. If you would not mind walking through the arch we could end a lot of questions.” “Lets go and I will happily walk through it. You see I know I’ll come out the other side.” They walked out and the young man walked through the arch and did come out the other side. “As I told you I have nothing to hide. I noticed your ring and know its meaning. It says you’re the forge of the Creator who bends humans to his power.” “This is not the first time I have fought these creatures. We have killed all of them in two universes. There is a fleet getting ready to invade your universe to fight them once more.” Knowledge of this brought tears to the young mans eyes. “May I return with your people and help them? I know every planet and where they are weak and strong. My fathers people will willingly fight beside you as well.” “We first need to destroy the creatures on your ship. Power will be cut to each tube.” “That is not needed as I caused a failure in those tubes long ago. We placed them in a section of the ship where I could have a power failure without seeing it. As far as the crew knows everything is fine. All tubes seem to be working as they should. But that section had the scrubbers down for a week before I restarted them. Without scrubbing the blood you builds up gasses in your blood that will kill you. Not one of those creature could be revived by any means.” “Then we need to haul the corpses away and dispose of them. There is a sun handy for that task. Now how many people are you carrying?”

“Ten million right now excluding the creatures. How many ships have you gotten so far?” “Just the two you see here. We are looking for five more coming in a short time.” “This ship was scheduled to return to the main planet in six months. It would be the best way to invade that planet as well. That is where the great leader and his generals are now. He has a palace guard of around five thousand creatures. They are a very nasty piece of work. That planet has less humans and it is more to protect the leader than anything. But the few million there are tied to the creatures.” “Where is your father at?” “There are six planets that run districts and he is on one of them. They do have small spaceships to move between these planets. They are not fast or big, but they do allow movement.” “We have been told they run a fleet of around four hundred ships. Is that right or is there more?” “I would not call most of what they have ships. The eighteen giant ships are all cargo carriers. They have maybe fifty fighting ships and the rest are transports between planets. The fighting ships are crewed by humans, but commanded by creatures.” “How large are the fighting ships?” “They are really not that large. They carry a crew of one hundred and that makes them very cramped. The ability to build new ships and maintain the ones they now have was lost hundreds of thousands of years ago. So the fleet as you call it is a shell of what it once was.” This conversation went on for hours. Jack learned much of his enemy and knew that Simon would be over powering here. But that did not mean that there were things that could hurt the invading fleet. So Jack kept digging to find the small things most might not take note of. It seemed that the six planet running districts controlled communications. Those and the main planet needed attention first. Seven very large probes were constructed for those seven planets. They looked like large satellites and yet could drop into the atmosphere and spray. This was just for the seven and normal probes would be used for the rest. Here the decision was made by using plans for satellites that fit the ones existing in that universe. They should not be suspected to be anything but old space junk. Jack felt that if the seven planets could be knocked out, the rest might fall more easily. Omega had now sent the ships promised and Simon was on his flagship. The two-week trip to Alpha was enjoyable for him. It had been some time since he had walked the deck

of a ship. At heart he was a captain and liked it that way. But the responsibilities of the large command demanded his full time management. Now George was handling that. As they came through the entry he saw ships sitting off to the side. They were Alpha ships just watching this point of entry or escape. He had been warned that these spots were being buttoned down. Gorm had two on his side of the universe being watched as well. The ship came into the Alpha six orbit and he went to Jackson’s office. “Well my friend now we do this the other way. What have you learned?” It took Jackson an hour to bring him up to date. He was offered the services of Ned for which he was not sure it was a good idea. That was until he was told he had walked through the gate with no problems. After learning of his connection to the underground he did want the man. So he was brought in and introduced to Simon. “Your very young for a captain of such a large ship.” “It is so big it is like running a computer. There is nothing for a human to do but check the course and approve computer commands. They give you no screens of what the outside looks like or maps. Simple drawings come up on the screen to show you what decisions must be made. That limits knowledge for any pilot and would stop escapes. I did manage to hide a small self-contained camera on the outside of the ship. Jack recovered it and the images will be on your ships computer.” “How big is the underground?” “On the six worlds may be a couple million. We know there are millions on other planets. But not close to command centers.” “How did you get placed on the ship?” “Dad has a hacker who broke into the main computer and doctored my records. I was called to the command center and asked if I was willing to take the job. Here I did not seem like I wanted it, so they pushed it at me. They finally told me it was go as captain or as a migrant. That settled my decision fast.” Simon laughed at this story and knew he was going to like Ned. “You will have a suite just off the bridge. I want you to handle the main navigation duties for me. Part of your job will involve attack planning. We do that as a group and I need your ideas, as you know many of the planets. You also know how the creatures act and react.” “That is the easy part they always act badly and react badly. There is no organizing for them. Your likely to fight a battle and find every creature is fighting as a single unit. They follow no plans, build no defenses and even in a group they fight alone.”

“I saw that the last time we battled with them. You would think they would over time get smarter.” “They have a one track brain and that is their next meal. Dad when I was much younger took me into the walls of their command center. I saw them eating children and enjoying themselves. That angered me so much I have fought them since then.” The conviction was solid and strong. “Well we don’t fight fair. We will send bio-warfare drones into the planets atmosphere to poison them at every chance we get. The material we use will not hurt humans at all. But anything with the large cat DNA in it will die.” “As bad as I hate cats I like that way of handling it. But are you sure no humans will be hurt?” “If they have the cat DNA then yes they would be. If they don’t no one will be hurt.” “I am as generic as any on these planets. Would you check my DNA before we do that?” Jackson knew the young man was concerned. “Ned we have run your blood and given you a shot for the virus the cats gave you. Your DNA is completely human.” That was reassuring to the young man. “I was not so sure as long as they have been with us. But that also means that my family and friends are normal as well. So where do we start?” “We have seven large drones that look like very old satellites. They are loaded with the toxin for the cats. Our desire is for one each to enter the atmosphere of the seven controlling planets and spray the air. This needs to happen before they even have a hint we are there. In three days time the creatures will start to die.” This Ned considered for a time. “That could be dangerous on the six district planets. If they see everyone falling sick the population will be blamed for it.” “Within twenty-four hours they will all be dead. But we can jam any signal to stop passing on the word to other planets.” “Lets see if I have this right. They get sick and die in twenty-four hours or less?” “By the time they feel the toxin taking effect they will be too sick to fight. This has been used extensively before and we know how it works. This is breathed into their lungs and slowly builds up until they are overwhelmed. By the time they know they are sick they are dying.” Ned was not sure how this worked, but it sounded good. “I know nothing of these weapons. But you will have to stop communications quickly. Humans on the ground must

have weapons to fight and hold the landing areas. Each day several ships land on those seven planets. Loss of communications will cause a panic and there will be responses.” “Do you have a way to contact your father?” “Yes, but it is very risky for him.” “We can load arms in each spray ships bay and land them where they can be recovered. If the people can provide us a light that we can use as a beacon we can land the arms for them. Do your people have inferred lights?” “Yes they are common.” “If they set up a set of three we will center on them and land with the weapons needed. It should be done at night so they have lots of cover. The ship will need to get back up to block communications after that.” This seemed sound to him. “I will broadcast a coded message for dad at exactly midnight on his planet. That is our agreed time and code. He will need a day to set up the other five planets to accept the weapons. So this has to happen the day you spray. I am sure he will want delivery after normal midnight time frame.” “Our ships will be in the universe at that time. The intent is to hit the planet the day after they get really sick. So he needs to be ready to hold out that night. The next morning he will see our ships in their atmosphere. We will be landing troops and looking for any not yet dead. The corpuses will be burned so it will require many people to haul them to the fires.” “I see no lack of help doing that. But some form of government will be needed.” “That we will handle after the fact. I always have the option of installing robots until order can be restored.” That was not a bad idea at all Ned felt. “Look on each planet your going to have competing factions. There will be those who cooperated with the creatures, those who fought against them and those who just survived. Each is going to feel they should rule. That includes my father and he should not rule. His fight has made him a bitter man and he trusts no one outside his small group. For government to work for everyone there will need to be compassion.” That brought the eyes of both men up. Simon looked at Ned. “I am surprised to hear you say that Ned.” “I was raised to hate Simon and that is just not me. My father did his best to mold me in that way. Now do I dislike the creatures? Very much so for what they have done to my fellow humans. Do I dislike the man who placed his family first and caved into the

creatures? No way, he was doing the best he could to protect his own family. That is not the way dad sees this.” It impressed Jackson as well. “We are fair always to everyone on a planet we rescue. Not everyone will like what we do, but they will have to live with it. But because you have been honest, we will set the weapons we provide the underground to self-destruct on our signal. They will be of no further use once we land troops. I want no personal vengeance taking after that.” “That would be your best bet. But I also worry about before then. Dad has people he hates enough to kill them before he goes after the creatures. I am sure on the other five planets the same kinds of feelings exist.” That would be a concern for Simon. “I will see that does not happen Ned. Each weapon had optical sights and we can monitor them. Unless they are aimed at creatures we will not allow the weapons to function. This will be computer monitored and controlled. The actions attempted will also be recorded and people will have to answer for them. So warn your father of that in your communication.” You could see relief in the young mans face. “I appreciate your understanding. It is hard not to love your father even when he is very wrong. But he needs to stop this cycle of hate and learn to live once more.” “For a young man you very wise.” Simon was pleased with this mans courage. “I studied to become a leader in the religion. That is what I really wanted to do with my life. But it is also underground and many have been lost to migration. They have done their best to find and ship out the religious.” “Where did you meet and learn what you did?” “There was a large cave outside the main city. It had many different large open areas in it. Off to one side there is a small tunnel that leads to our church. A ring like you wear will open that tunnel. It has existed for a million years now and millions have used the room. But each time a ring is taken and tried they never work for the creatures or humans that have taken them. I spent two years in those rooms and learned the entire book. The ring I had was given back before this mission. Risking anyone seeing it was just too much.” “Then you knew you were going to be stopped and picked up.” “Yes, I was told that in a dream at night. The next day I went to the room and gave back my ring. Everyone knew why I did that and prayed for me.” “I think you need to see this Ned. So come with me.” They left the command center and walked to the church. As they entered Ned saw many people all praying and at the front the largest stone he had every seen.

“Have you every seen one of those stones Ned?” “No it looks like a giant diamond.” “It is and the creator can communicate by using it. I have heard his voice several times now. On my command ship there is a chapel where a smaller one sits. But I have also heard his voice by it. This planet is one of ten the Creator has called the ten perfect planets. Before I brought knowledge of the religion to Alpha, they built ten planets that live the religion. That is why these planets are so blessed. In a universe of greed, Alpha has always given. There will be no demands by us or Alpha of your people in your universe. We will give you freedom and hopefully peace.” Ned walked to the front of the building and looked closely at the stone. He stepped to the lectern and read from the book as he had when he was studying. The words were no different from his own book. Simon walked to the front and picked up the book with both hands and his ring glowed brightly. “As you can see your not dealing with the dark side Ned.” “That I do see Simon and it pleases me.” The diamond grew bright and blinding light came from it. “Ned your to follow Simon’s directions in all things. He will free your people and all the people of the universe. But he will need someone to take control and bring peace. That Ned is you for your universe. Both Alpha and Omega will supply you with ships to keep peace and bring light to your worlds. They will build you a base to operate from that will be on no planet. Their job is to remove the creatures of the dark side. Yours is to bring peace and light to all human planets there.” Then the light went out. Ned was still in shock at seeing and hearing this. “Was that the Creators voice?” “Yes and the command was very clear to me and should be to you.” Simon reached into his pocket and produced a red stone ring. It had a dove carved into it. This he handed to Ned. Ned put the ring on and picked up the book and it glowed brightly. He read the verse his eyes fell on. “I am not my own man. The Creator owns me and I follow his direction. That requires that I do no harm and only good for my fellow man.” “I think that sums this up very nicely Ned. Now you and I have things to do.” They left for the Alpha and Ned was shocked at its size. “How many of these big ships do we have?”

“Just two hundred and fifty of this size and twenty five smaller ones. John has twentyfive a little smaller that you will have to help protect your universe. You will pick the crews and over see the ships. After we clean out the other universe where you were headed that will be fifty ships in your fleet. With that type of power you should be able to control the planets. No other planets will be allowed space power at all.” “How will they trade?” “You will provide over time planet computers and transport plates like you have been using. That way you control the movement of goods and know exactly what is happening on any planet. But your biggest worry is where do you find a few thousand who will follow your commands?” “That I am really worried about Simon.” “Then we will solve it by giving you your crews and captains. The fifty ships will need about twenty-five thousand to crew them. We will supply you with fifty thousand robot troops. You will have your own space station and docking areas. That will take a few more thousand people and robot machines for repairs to ships. Does this universe have a name?” “Not really as it is now the lost universe. I feel like a shepherd now with lots of a flock to look out for.” “That is not a bad way to describe your situation. So lets just call it the Shepherds Universe.” “That fits the way I feel and is a good description.” “Now your people will all be cloned humans. They will be very smart and able to help you greatly. This is how Alpha and Omega is populated now. I have ordered the start of production for you. By the time we are done with this war and your ready to start bringing peace you will have the crews and station personnel to get the job done.” “But someone must be paid for this Simon.” “The payment is to bring peace and happiness to your people. We all have our orders now direct from the source. Yours is to see to the peace of your universe. Ours is to give you the tools to do that. So we both must live up to those orders.” “I really don’t know how to do that Simon?” “Then you need to learn from John, Jack or my father on Omega. All three men are smart and the people love them. But even more important they are respected for their consistent ways of doing things. I will give you a copy of the Alpha law book. It is just ten pages

long and covers everything. The law is black and white. People can understand it and that makes it work even better.” “But how do I learn what I need to know?” “You have access to the ships computer and she can teach you. Our computers are a life form. They are DNA computers and trillions of times faster than any thing you can imagine. They store millions of years of knowledge and can quickly provide facts for you. Your station computer will know what is happening on each planet with a planet computer. It can watch for things that seem off the mark and make you aware of them. You will depend on that computer for the ability to have ships where needed when needed.” “At least the support your offering seems to make this a little easier.” “Your station will have people that follow each planet every day. They also will be able to key you into events you need to know about. Your not being tossed out into the cold with no back up or help.” “If that is so what is my job?” “You will make the decisions and advise the planets governments of them. They will either accept your decision or be removed from office. Landing a few troops at the capitol should bring compliance. If not, arrest and trial by the laws given them will show the people the law stands for everyone.” “That I can see would work for a few years, but I can only have so much impact in my life span.” Simon walked him to the clinic. Had a scan run and the shot given. “What was this shot for?” “You now have the same life span as all of us do. You will live to between eight and nine hundred years of age. Some of us will see close to a thousand years. But you will rule the Shepherd Universe for a very long time. Many governments will come and go during your time.” This was shocking to Ned. “How is that possible?” “Alpha developed the technology. If your body needs further treatment nano bots running in your blood system will inform the computer. Over the next few days every imperfection will be repaired. You will find you do not age as you would have either.” This was truly beyond his understanding. “I guess I just have to take your word for this. There is no way for me to disprove it.”

“I understand Ned as Jackson did the same thing to me about fifty years ago. My father who was in his seventies when he had the shot looks about forty now. So I have seen the process in reverse. Now you need to think of a few humans you might like to have as a counsel. They will not make the final decisions, but it is nice to have people you trust suggest ideas to you.” “There are three men in the church I really trust and like. They are all much older and very caring men. But they are married and have children.” “Young children or older ones?” “Older children and they are in their fifties or sixties.” “You could bring them and their wives to the station. They also can be given the shot and will get much younger in a short time. It would be wise to have a few people you trust their judgment be there to discuss problems. But they will not make the decision, which is yours and yours only. You will answer to the Creator on the decisions made.” That was a very heavy load to carry. “I do hope I am up to this.” “That is no new feeling as every leader that was any good has wondered the same thing. Just remember that decisions delayed are often a bad decision. Check the facts and make the call. In the early days moving quickly and decisively is a key to control. Never say anything your not ready to back up and right then. Protect each planet from any threat inside or outside. If you decision is good for fifty-one percent of the people it is the right one.” “Those seem like simple rules.” “They are but very good ones to live by in your new job. Now I’ll show you your suite and let you get a bath and some rest. There is new clothing there for you as well.” The suite was very nice with a living area, bath and bedroom. A small dinning table was sitting next to a refrigerator in the living area. He opened the door of the refrigerator and found different items to drink, fruits and a few desert items. The table had a small transport plate for ordering from the kitchen. He poured some juice in a glass and headed to the bathroom. Here was a very big and deep tub, which he filled. He went into the bedroom and undressed and found a robe. Then headed back to the bathroom. The tub started to send water out of jets when he got in it. It maintained a constant one hundred and four degrees. This was very nice and he enjoyed the way the water massaged his body. The jets shut off and he washed and got out of the tub and dried off. Putting the robe on he went to the computer and desk in the living area. “How do you use this thing?” He said this out loud to himself.

“Good evening Ned it is very simple. I am a DNA computer called Alpha One. Anything you wish to know just ask and I will retrieve the data and either read it to you or display it for you to read. If you have questions just ask them and I will do my best to get you answers.” “Can you show me how these other leaders do their jobs?” “Of course and just sit back and watch a brief history of each of them.” She ran the feeds and data for over an hour and he saw much to like and something’s he was not going to be comfortable with. But leadership was making hard decisions as well as the easy ones. The way Simon’s father managed was the best method for him he thought. Tomorrow he would have the computer read him the book he had written. But now sleep was needed.

Chapter 4 Start of War

They entered the universe with the satellite probes well out front of them. At the correct time Ned sent his coded message to his father. He had included the message that every action with the weapons would be followed by the ships he was on. That any use except for killing the creatures would bring severe punishment. The next night the spray units started their work over the planet. Every land mass was covered. Then the probes went into orbit monitoring communications. This had not cause so much as a ripple. The next night the craft put down and the weapons were unloaded. Then it went back into orbit ready to jam any signals from the planet. On the third night groups were ready at the landing pads for any creatures coming on to the planet. At the pad the night shift never showed up. So when the craft landed and ten creatures got off they were quickly killed. The pilot never saw what happened and left without any knowledge that all hell had broken lose. The craft was grabbed by a tractor beam and pulled to the large ship waiting for it. Once in the hanger bay it was quickly checked the pilot taken to a detention cell and the craft towed to the near by sun for disposal. No spacecraft were to be left here except those under the command of Ned. That night sixteen craft were destroyed. But no one on any of the seven planets knew they were under attack. The satellites were able to jam any signal from the planet and replace it with one it generated. Standard communications traffic was normal as far as anyone knew. That next morning troops hit the landing pad and were quickly led to the main command centers. There were no live bodies found there. After checking the barracks for troops the city was deemed ready to start burning bodies. This was a health concern now. Groups of citizens were pressed into service to move these to the burning area. This was a three day task using every human they could find. All weapons found were destroyed and any small ships on the ground were also. Ten robots were left to set up the initial government. One group came in with weapons drawn and demanded to take over. Then they found their weapons no longer worked. They were quickly arrested and place in cells. After this no one chanced trying to press that issue. Of course it had been Ned’s father who was now being held. “Well Ned what do we do with your father and his group?” Simon asked the young man. “They broke the law and must pay the price. That bit of stupidly may have saved his life. He for sure had debts to settle and he would have killed some people. Now he will have some time to cool his heals. I warned him of what the law was and sent him a copy of the law book with his weapons.” “I am sure he did not bother to read it.” “So am I but at least I tried. He after mom died went a little nuts. So I have no problem with his doing some prison time.”

That was a very plain statement from this young man. “I am a little surprised you feel that way.” “Don’t be it is for his own good. He needs time to cool off after this change. As angry as he is with so many people, he is likely to go off the deep end. I am sure your justice system will be fair and see he needs help. That is something he would never see himself. I told you after mom died he went a little nuts and I meant that.” That was as honest as it got. “OK I will bring him aboard the ship and place him in medical care. He needs to be evaluated and then we can see what to do.” “I expect us next to fight the small fleet that the leader had. We have not taken their base yet and that should be our next target. There will not be one human on those ships that will not die for the leader. They are totally corrupt and have no saving grace. Young girls are passed out to them often for there use before the creatures eat them.” That disgusted Simon and he had to bring his mind back under control. “That will be a fight to the end. Computer advise all ships that the enemy fleet is to be completely destroyed. I mean nothing is to be left of it.” “That has been done Simon and all acknowledge that order. We are moving that direction now.” Both men went to the bridge and watched the screens. They could see the small pinpricks that were the fleet coming at them. Simon sent twenty ships around behind them to stop any escapes. Another twenty went the other way to pound the planet for ships on the ground. “How many troops are there on that base?” “My guess is around a thousand. Mostly human troops tied to the leader. They were his thugs and turned lose on any population giving him problems. They would go through a city breaking windows, killing men and raping women. You will find no respect for any human there.” “Computer tell the ship going after the planet to take out all troops in those base camps. I want nothing left alive.” “Order was received and acknowledged.” The fleet came at the ships and started to slow down. They were very small craft and these big machines concerned them. From the back the ships started to explode and this was seen. The captains came at the larger ships and were blown out of the way. There were millions of pieces of junk floating in space now. “Send out the tugs and get that junk cleaned up.”

“Tugs are coming out to clean up now.” “I did not see one get off a shot.” “They were not close enough to shoot. The ships you will have are as powerful as these are. Now computer please send out the drones to spray the next ten planets now.” “Drones are moving out now. The planet where the troops were exploded when a dump was hit. I mean the entire planet and I cannot explain that.” “There were hydrogen dumps on some planets. It was used where water was in short supply. When burned as a fuel it produced water as a by product. These dumps were often underground and massive.” “That would explain the destruction. The planet was not very large and had lots of fractured rock. So the gas could have seeped all over the planet below ground.” Simon had been impressed at how cool Ned had been. “You seem to be handling this much better than I expected.” “It is war and for the right reasons. I have seen nothing I would not have done in your shoes. With that fleet out of the way you can now hit more planets. If you break down into ten ship groups you could hit twenty-five planets at a time. That way in one year we could clean the entire universe.” “Well I am going to shortly send you with five ships to build your space station. I have the plans and those ships have the materials and machinery to do that. While I am cleaning this up you need to be ready to take over. We will place a computer on each planet we take. They also will have at least one transport plate to start. We will leave ten robot troops on each planet to start the process of government. Those troops are at your command Ned. I will not be looking back over my shoulder. Once your station is complete we will move in more troops and people to help run it.” “Then I had better get busy to have that done before your are.” “Understand the station is called a complex. It will have a small town with parks. There will be engineering and science labs. It will have a security department and administrative area. A food growing area and down below a smelting and rolling mill for steel. At the far end will be a shipyard for building your own spacecraft. We will have asteroids for you to mine metals from, so you can build what you need. If you build robotic equipment it can be leased to people for farming or manufacturing. That is a good way to make money.” “I assume I will have all the neat little shops like you do on this ship for building or making what people need?”

“You can count on that.” “That is good enough for me. I will want to pick up my three friends before we head to where the station will be built.” “The ships will be at your command Ned. Pick your friends up and then choose the spot for the complex. But be sure you get them through medical before very long.” It was time now Simon knew. “I had your clothing sent to the ship your going to take. So go and enjoy building your new home.” They shook hands and Ned headed for his new ship.

Chapter 5 Building A Complex

The ship arrived at the location chosen. It was well out of any planet group and had lots of clear space around it. This was a central location close to the center of the universe. There were old galaxies on both sides of this location. More than six hundred planets would be just a few days away. Ned had picked up Peter, Sam and David to help him with decision making. They sat and talked out the rules for this process. The way he told them it would work was they would have free input to him on the subject. But he would make the decision as he saw it needed to be made. It was him that had to answer to the Creator and not them. Each man was fine with this way of doing things. Each would be assigned a group of planets to follow and advise on. They would have one person watching just a few planets and bringing them problems. If a decision was required then Ned needed to be briefed about that and he would make the call. Construction started fast and steel went up quickly. A frame went into place made of structural steel. Then it was covered with plate steel one inch thick. Insulation was placed inside the structural steel and another one inch sheet was welded inside. This allowed very good protection from any type of strike by small objects. The base for the complex went up very fast. The roof for the station was two hundred feet off the main floor. This gave you the feeling of room in the park areas. This was double thick steel as well, with good insulation in between. The crystal glass windows were sheets two hundred feet by forty feet. They covered the outside of the station and clear plastic sheet two inches thick covered the inside. Shields were placed outside to protect the glass areas. The floor below the town was a growing area for food and animal products. One area was hydroponics gardens and another was pasture for animals. This area would be tended by robots only. The engineering building and science labs were impressive. But the top floor was just for security people. There were three hundred stations build in here for following planets. Each of Ned’s advisors would have four hundred people working for them. That was three shifts a day and seven days a week on a rotating shift. This was the heart of the complex. Everything else was there to serve this function. As soon as the second floor was complete two computer rooms were built for the complex computers. This was needed, as they each would be taking data from over one thousand computers all the time. So the rooms were built much larger that needed now. A floor of shops was below the farming area. This was where the building of needed equipment, items for living and clothing was made. Large chemical vats were on this floor for use by the different shops for making materials required. A group of small ships for collecting the chemicals, metals, stone and other needed items, were now looking for sources for these materials.

The smelting and rolling operations were on the lowest floor of the complex. A space of six feet was between the lower level and the manufacturing level. This was layered with materials to stop heat from rising into the area above. A large shipyard was built that allowed three ships to be built or repaired at the same time. One of the two computers over saw this robotic operation. The other managed the town, labs, engineering, security and peoples needs. One place Ned did not know about was the cloning station built in the manufacturing area. It would produce two hundred humans a week. That was already running to create enough people for the security department, engineering, science and manufacturing areas. Large glass tanks had been built to allow growing fish for food. It had its own special area under the science labs. The genetics lab would over see this operation. Someday he might know all of the places and what they did. But that would be well in the future. His office was just below the security area. The room was huge in size. There were three smaller offices for his friends and one giant one for him. His had screens with feeds from many planets. Each planet had at least six satellites going around it feeding back data. The day came when Ned and his friends could move into their new homes. He had picked one on the edge of the town where he could sit out back and look at the stars. The house was far bigger than he needed being single. But that was what he had to accept due to his position. He could see this was a two edged sword and he was going to have to give up a lot of his personal time for others needs. A church had been built in the center of the town. When he went in he saw it also had a stone like the one on Alpha. He had no idea where it came from, but was glad it was here. The book on the podium was solid gold covered and beautifully done. Peter, Sam and David were also impressed. But had to be told what the large diamond was for. When he told them of the directions he got on Alpha from the Creator they were shocked. That anyone heard the voice of the Creator was new to them. When he picked up the book and his ring glowed brightly they were also impressed. That had never happened in their world. The four men knelt and prayed. Each had their own prayer and they were silently offered. After a short time he took them up to the office area and assigned them offices. He told them how to divide the security floor and that he wanted meetings every afternoon with up dates on the planets. But if any major problem came up to bring it at once to him. They left to start their jobs and he went to his office. Sitting in the outer areas was a very beautiful woman. “Ned I am your personal assistant. My name is Cindy and I am here to help you any way I can. I am a good cook, clean house well and enjoy long discussions. I will be using one of your bedrooms, so I am always available to you if that is alright?”

This sounded more like a wife to him. “Cindy I think your going to find me a bit boring. The only woman I have every lived in the same house with was my mother. I have never had a steady girlfriend and no idea of how our living in the same house would work?” “Then we both have the same questions. But my job is to make life pleasurable for you. To accomplish that I will do my best to not be a bother to you. Then we will see how this works out.” It sounded reasonable to him and he was a terrible cook. He could burn water. “We will give it a try then. Now what is you job in the office?” “I will follow events you are interested in and keep you up dated. Any research you need done I will do it for you. At any time I can tell you the schedules for the shipyard and advised you on engineering and science projects. My education is in engineering and technology.” That would be a help as he was no engineer. “I would love to take an hour each day and see all of this station. It will take weeks I am sure, but I need to understand what I have here? In some cases I need to know how to use what is here?” “That can be done as you wish. Right now we have a limited crew. But a few weeks from now we will be close to staffed. We have a few in engineering, science, manufacturing and security. Robots are used in the growing areas and the metals production areas. We have enough robots to cover some jobs until the can be human staffed.” “How many humans do we have now?” “As of today eight hundred. But this complex takes just at three thousand to be fully staffed. There is room for six thousand in the town. That will allow for families of ships crews to live here.” “If we need more homes then what?” “We have the room for four thousand more people to live here with no additions. It just requires houses be built. This complex is modeled on the Omega complex. They operated one just like this building their ships. But the town moved down to a planet they found unused. They now have just over one million people living there. The complex was towed to orbit the planet.” This was very nice data for him. “I see the sense in finding a vacant planet for use. But what if it is not exactly what we want?” “Our science department can fix almost anything wrong with a planet. If it is too cold or hot we can move it closer of further from the sun.” “So we can decide what we want and create that?”

“Pretty much so, we can add or remove any life forms. Change climate or add land if needed. You have the ability to build below the oceans or above them. If you can think it this complex can design and build it.” “What did Omega do with the complex town?” “It is one large resort for ships crews or citizens of Omega. They find it nice to sit and look out at the universe from it.” “I picked my home so I can sit in the backyard and look at the stars.” She smiled at this side on him. “That I can understand Ned. But as new as this all is to you I am also sure it is not easy right now. But the leaders of Alpha and Omega had exactly the same problems you do now.” That was very calming to him. “I appreciate your saying so. How many planets has Simon freed now?” “The count is up to nine hundred and fifty. So he is just short of half his goal. But you have twenty-five ships on the way from Alpha with full crews for your needs. Simon is sending twenty-five of his smaller ships to you as well. They take crews of just twenty people. He has crews for them that are yours now. Each crew has been trained to use the ships the right way.” “I think we need to get those planets organized, as soon as we have the ships.” “That will allow you to check fifty planets every few days. Our planet computers show that most planets are doing well. But there are a few still fighting the reorganization. There you will need more troops to handle that issue. Ten robots just cannot do the job.” “Get me a list and lets see what we need.” They walked into his office and he sat at the table. She sat beside him and opened her notebook. “Here are the planets having problems. In each case it is a small fraction trying to rule the larger group.” “How large are they?” “The largest is just a few thousand people out of hundreds of millions.” “When will I have troops to handle this?” “You can move them from the ships coming now to where you need them.”

He considered this and made the decision. “There are about fifteen planets with problems. So send one thousand troops to each and make sure they are wearing personal force fields and have stun guns. Any protester is to be arrested and tried in an open court.” She made the notes and went on. “You have eight breeder planets with nothing but children on them. They lack educations and health resources.” “Send five hundred troops to each. Start building schools and medical clinics. Have scanners built for each clinic and give them the longer lives. They will be protected planets and I want doctors for those clinics. Both for mental as well as physical health.” Notes were made for this. “The last item is your father who is still on Simon’s ship. He is much better now and wishes to talk with you.” “I am not so sure I want to talk with him.” “I understand your feelings, but he is your father.” “How could you possibly know how I feel?” He was a little angry now. “I made it my business to learn as much about you as I could. So I know you blame your father for your mother’s death. He was off fighting when she needed him. Had he been at home taking care of his family she might not have died. But you were at the religious school and not there either and that hurts you as well. So you have a major conflict between his guilt and your own. But I can say with certainty that had she not died you would not be here now. That was the Creators plan in action and she is with him now.” Some way that made complete sense to him. “I see your point and appreciate your calling me on my feelings Cindy. You of course are right about the guilt and anger at my father. This has to be cleared out of the way and now. So have him sent and we will see how I handle this. But I want you here when I do.” She had already communicated his decisions to the computer and she went to get his father. He was a rough man and not like Ned at all. She guessed he had taken more after his mother. They walked into the office and the man looked around and was impressed. “Well you have come up in the world. This you owe to me boy.” “Sit down and shut up dad. I owe this to the Creator who assigned me this task himself. Simon and about two hundred people heard that. So you had nothing to do with this at all.”

The man jumped up and reached for Ned. Before he could grab him Cindy had dropped him to the floor and had her shoe on his neck. “Now I think your not better and need to be medicated once more.” “I am fine and don’t need or want medicated.” “Ned may I send him to one of the ships brigs and let him sit this anger out?” “Frankly I don’t care what you do with him. That man is a monster and not my father any more. He is never to be placed on a planet again.” Cindy had pulled the man up and had an arm behind him. “You cannot do that.” “Oh but he can and I will see that it happens for him. In this universe his word is now law. He has a fleet of fifty ships and fifty thousand troops. No planet is allowed space travel any longer. Ned is the protector of all humans. The problem I have is your not human any longer sir.” Cindy was really angry with this man. He tried to shake her hands off his arm and she tightened her grip. “That hurts so please stop it.” “If you would stand still and not fight I might do that. But if I let you go and you moved at Ned I would have to really hurt you. Your no competition for me at all.” He jerked and tied to turn and she broke his arm. He screamed and fell to the floor. “I told you that was not a good move. You sir are an animal no one can trust. Your every bit as bad as the creatures that you hated. The only difference is your supposed to be human.” Two troops walked in with a stretcher and loaded the man on it. He was strapped down and then taken to one of the ships medical facilities. After treatment he would go to the ships brig. Ned had seen this all but could not believe Cindy’s speed and abilities. “How in the world did you do that and never breathe hard?” “I am also your body guard Ned. It is my job to protect you from any harm. My reflexes are a hundred times as fast as yours. Now I am sorry I broke his arm, as that was not my intent. But he moved the wrong way and added pressure to my hold.” “Be assured I have no problem with what you did. If I had your abilities I would have done it long ago. But you could at least see he is off his rocker. The man is not sane by any definition.” That she could not argue with. “How about some lunch Ned?”

They went to the café in the town and had a nice lunch. He just could not take his eyes off this woman. She was beautiful, smart and very good at protecting him. “What is going through your mind now?” He blushed at this question. “If I told you then I would most likely make you mad.” “I could think of nothing you would say that might make me mad.” “My mind wondered how I ended up with a beautiful, smart lady who was willing to protect me?” “Thank you kind sir that is a great complement. I have not been told I was either beautiful or smart. My abilities at protection is just training.” How in the world did anyone miss those qualities? “We had better get back to work or I will start thinking impure thoughts.” “What is an impure thought?” He blushed once more. “When a single man sees a very beautiful lady he tends to feel some sexual emotions.” “What is wrong with that as a woman feels the same thing with a man she likes?” “Please lets not play word games here. Are you saying you would go to bed with me? Not just because of who I am, but because you like me.” “I think that sums it up nicely Ned.” He was having a hard time understanding this. “I am having a hard time believing this right now.” “Look I like a smart man and one who cares about people. You have no interest in money or things. You are very religious and show respect for others. The willingness to protect the children’s planets was pure compassion for humans. Sending in enough troops to calm down problems with no weapons that would do harm was also compassion. Your time in the religious school was the stepping stone to where you now are. Had that not occurred you would not be here. I see you becoming a strong protector of all humans.” He looked into her eyes and was lost. His hand came out and he took hers and they walked to their home. That afternoon went quickly and in his meeting with Peter, Sam and David was disappointing. “Now I heard nothing of the problems on the breeder planets or the conflicts where people were fighting the government. Why was that?”

Peter was the first to speak. “They did not seem like much of a problem at all.” “Your right they were not much of a problem right now. But allowed to go unchecked they would have been a major problem. If I want you to sit back and watch events I’ll tell you. Your jobs are to bring to my attention anything that could lead to later trouble. Now the problems I mentioned have been addressed and hopefully they will settle down. But had you been doing the job I expected, I should have heard of them here. Your responsibility is to protect people and that requires us to act before someone gets hurt. We need to be in front of problems and not waiting until they explode.” Sam could see the logic in this. “OK you have my attention. This is all new to us as well as you. But I see what you are looking for now. Is there anyone who can run a training class for us?” “I am sure there is and I will ask Simon about that. But your people watching are only going to be sensitive to the things you see as important. They need direction as well as you do. So each small problem needs to be questioned as to where it may go from here? Each of you have seen little problems explode into major fights. People who want power will kill to get it if that way is seen to work. They push and wait to see what reaction they get. Then push a little harder and it grows. This I will not allow to grow into civil war. That requires stopping it very early.” David saw the truth in this. “We need to change a few things quickly. So let us meet with our people and redirect how they feed us information.” The meeting broke up and Cindy smiled at Ned. “I think you have their attention now. My concern was they seemed to be waiting for that explosion to happen.” “That is what happens with on the job training. I really need someone very good at security to come in and teach them all how to do it right.” “On one of the Alpha ship there is manager from their security service. I will ask if we can borrow her for a few weeks time.” “That would be a great help in training our people the right way.” The rest of the day went smoothly and the last hour Cindy was showing Ned some of the complex. This would be a daily ritual for many weeks to come. With thirty square miles of space to cover much happened that few saw here.

Chapter 6

Ships Ned was both shocked and pleased when he looked out and saw the complex surrounded by spacecraft. The twenty-five large ships were a beautiful sight. The smaller ones were a good quick response force. He had decided to keep six of the small ships here to protect the complex. They would rotate with four on duty and two on crew rest. For the balance of ships left he held a meeting and gave out assignments. Sectors of space were assigned to each ship to patrol and defend. On average a ships would have twentysix planets to watch out for right now. The bigger starships taking the larger sectors of space and the smaller ones the more closely pack planet areas. He wanted planets to feel the presents of the ships. This would require them showing from time to time in the atmosphere of planets. The captains were shown the new shipyard and three new ships now under construction. Each captain would be graded in their performance and the highest would get one of the new ships. They also would be allowed to recommend their replacement from the current ships officers. All were instructed to look for a planet not now inhabited for a future home for all here. The hotel in the town was a very busy place right now. Many captains were staying there, so they got to know each other. The second days meeting was in Ned’s office. A large area was set up for the captains. Food and drink was sitting on tables at the back of the seating area. “Thank you all for getting here early today. I felt you needed to know my expectations for each of you. There are a few things you will find are my hot buttons.” This brought a laugh from the group. “I believe in good ship discipline and in clean ships. That does not mean you can have no friends on your ship. But it does mean everyone is treated equally under work conditions. It is hard for some captains to see that there is on duty and off duty faces. On duty show respect and demand high standards from your people. Off duty feel free to eat and discuss your jobs, life and beliefs with your friends. Wear two hats in this case and enjoy your people.” That brought applause. “Now any ships you find operating are to be disabled. Take over the ship and transfer the people to their planet. Our command will be the only ships allowed in space. Once you have removed the humans from the ships send it into the nearest star and burn it. There are many smugglers out here and they are to be stopped and returned to their planets. If found with cargos that are against our laws they will be tried and serve prison time. The laws you have been given are not changeable. They stand as written and are to be followed to the letter.” You could see this also pleased these people. “In dealing with planets respect their leaders, but don’t accept any demands from them. We are the law here and will do the demanding. Failure to meet the people’s needs is

reason to remove any government. This will happen from time to time I assure you. But it is to be done without harm to anyone.” A hand shot up. “If we are faced with a dangerous situation which way do we error?” “Troops are to be protected with personal force fields. Stun guns are the only weapon allowed on a planets surface. Your troops cannot be hurt in any way. So just move forward and get the job done. If ten troopers could do the job, send one hundred and nothing will happen. Danger comes with sending to few to accomplish the task.” That was well accepted. “Now we are short the ships needed to allow proper crew vacation periods. I have two relief groups that will relieve your entire crew for a two-week break each year. Be advised they will run inspections while on your ship. Each division of your ship will be rated and on your return a full report given to you. Those ratings will go into each crewmembers file. This is not a surprise inspection as you now know it is coming. Be sure your crews know it also. Good maintenance or how their work areas are kept is important to good order. So there is no place on your ships that will not be looked at. The nice thing is high ratings will put you in the race for the fleet trophy for excellence. There will be one for the larger ships and one for the smaller ones.” That brought more applause and whistles. “Now the last item on my list. If any ship does not have a chapel then one needs to be set up. No one will be forced to join the religion. But I expect complete respect for those who do believe. I have myself heard the Creators voice and he spoke to me. His instructions are why I am here in this job. I had no choice in the job here, but any of you do have a choice in your jobs. No one will be forced to serve if they cannot live by the code of laws, religion and common respect. That is your choice to make now. It is also the choice of each crewmember you have. But once that has been made there is no turning back. I have your commissioning papers at the desk and will see each of you when we both sign them. If there is any reason you cannot accept the commission speak up before you sign. This is now called the Shepherds Universe. Each of you will tend to a part of the flock and it must be done right. So allow your crews on your return to opt in or out as they see fit.” That brought the captains to their feet. They saw a man they could follow and were pleased. Each interview was like it was the only one that day for Ned. Captains were impressed with his knowledge of ships and command. He spoke for a short time with each of them before they signed their commission. A picture was taken and sent to each ship of the Captain standing with Ned, holding the commission in front of them. It was a welcomed ceremony for all. With the last signing done Ned dropped back into his chair. This had been a hard day. Cindy came and sat beside his desk and smiled. “You look tired Ned. But this is the next to the last time you have to do this. In a few months we will have twenty-five more ships to handle. Then the basic fleet is complete.”

“The real problem I have is having to learn this job on the fly. Our universe is so different from John’s, Jack’s or Simon’s that much of their ways just don’t fit here. What we do must fit our people and they are different.” “I wonder if that is really a true statement? Our people and theirs I am sure want the same things. You might want to read the history of the old Earth and John’s start there. He had many of the exact same problems your facing now. Humans want shelter, food, health, feelings of belonging and education for their children. Most here have accepted religion as part of filling those needs. I see little difference between our universe and the others.” “May be you right and I need to look a little harder. I do feel better now that we can enforce the laws. The feed back from the planet computers is very good now. I have one hundred shops now producing screens for the planets to expand the system. In each case I set the church up making them, so they could employ people who had no jobs. Those people are now making better incomes than they ever had. Most manufacturing centers have months of backlogged orders now. Many are building second and third centers to try to catch up.” “Our shops are way behind as well with orders for leasing robotic equipment and farm machinery. We are going to need a planet to build large enough shops to meet demand.” “That will come and I hope sooner rather than later. I have a large shop building being fabricated to add to our production. Here we are very small, trying to supply a large universe. There is something wrong with that picture.” She laughed at this way of seeing it. “I am not sure in the larger scheme of things we will ever be that large. But for now peace is the best gift we can provide.” That night after dinner they sat on the patio looking out at the stars. “I am still not sure what you see in me that would make you want to be here.” Cindy knew he wonder this. “Well it is my free choice to make that decision. I enjoy working with you and being part of a small team. You and I discuss many issues openly. So I feel like a partner and that feels good. At home we are very relaxed in each others company and you have proven to be a very loving man. Many females never find that much in any relationship. But you have shown me enough that I respect you and that is the most important factor. Love cannot exist where there is no respect.” That hit a note for him. “I guess that is where the love I once had for my father went away. He caused me to completely lose respect for him.” “The doctor I talked with said he is not doing well. His mental picture of himself is far out of line with who he is. For some reason he has lost the man he was.”

That brought a smile to Ned’s face. “My mother was the one who made him human. He did love her enough to make many changes in his life. They all came back after she died. Most of his life he did things to please her.” “That is interesting and I will pass it on to the doctor. It might help him understand more.” “My mothers marriage was arranged by family. She had no choice in who she was to live her life with. So she had to change the man she was forced to marry. That she did and made it work as long as she lived. The marriage was over land and money. Her family had money and his had land. So land was sold and part of the deal was she married my father. His family blew the money and hers became richer.” That was not how she would want to live. “I cannot understand arranged marriages? That seems a sure way for disaster to strike.” “On my planet it was very normal. But I could never accept it for me. That was one reason I studied at the church. They did not like that system as it was considered a form of slavery. Before the creatures took over it was outlawed. They brought it back and used it to destroy the church.” “Well is it still allowed?” “Not under the current laws. But I am sure it is still happening. It will take many years to make the changes back to where we were. Humans fight change and it always takes time for it to happen.” “You seem to just accept that?” “I know human nature and know that everything cannot change at once. That is just a fact and wishing will not change it. Slowly we will get the courts to step into that area. But that will require a case to set the example. We will bring the chief judges together and have meetings with them. But right now we are having to change a million years of history.” She had not considered how long these changes had been in place. “Looking at it that way change will not be quick. I think I may have to take a longer view on issue like this as well.” They enjoyed the evening and each other’s company.

Chapter 7

The First Civil War This came as a shock to Ned. But it was bound to happen sooner or later. David came into his office with sheets of paper. “Ned we have a major fight happening right now. A group of rich who did well under the creatures are trying to assume power. They purchased an army of poor people to take over the government buildings. Two of the current government have been hung outside the building.” “Send one thousand troops to stop the attack. Have the captain of the ship for that sector to bring his ship in over the government building and place more troops on the ground. Do we know all the people backing this?” “Yes I have the complete list here.” He handed it to Ned. “I want everyone picked up and I mean all the family men, women and children. Here I will go and serve as judge for this trial. There will be no jury and it will be a court decision on punishment.” “Are you sure that is wise Ned? These people will want to kill you.” “Let them try their best as it will not happen. Now give all the information, documentation and records to Cindy.” David headed out and gave Cindy what he had. He told her there would be more coming down to her. After reading the material she went into Ned’s office. “OK I have read the materials. Now what do you want me to do?” “Write the charges under our laws and be ready to testify to their accuracy.” “I am not sure how to do that?” “Our law book is ten pages long. Read it and pick out the exact laws broken. Have the computer put them into a legal format and be ready to show proof that each was broken. You must also show who broke them.” That seemed simple enough. “OK I assume I need to be ready to do this often?” “I hope not, but it may be more often that I wish.” Cindy went back and started to assemble the list of laws broken. It covered two hand written pages. Then for each charge she looked for who was involved and proof of that involvement. It took the rest of the day, but she had a complete view of the issue. Here she had eighteen men and four women who were at the bottom of this. In the crowd she had twenty-three who did the hangings. Because the transport plate was outside the building she had the feeds showing exactly who was involved.

Pictures were sent to the troops and they found and arrested each person for the hangings. These were moved to isolation cells to protect them. The families were brought in and each person was placed in their own cell. Children were moved to the hospital and held there. Each home had been searched and documents pertaining to the uprising removed for Cindy’s use. Bank records were run and large withdrawals were noted. Each rioter was interviewed and a sworn statement taken from them. The group that did the hanging was all servants of these wealthy people. The day of the trial Ned got there early and talked with many citizens outside the court. He got the feeling the people expected the rich to get away with this. They just did not understand how the law worked now. He took his seat on the bench and brought the gavel down. “This is not a hearing and the people sitting here are on trial for their freedom. The court will hear the charges and look at the proof offered. Each defendant will have the chance to dispute these charges and offer any proof of their innocence. Once I have heard the charges, seen any proof of these and heard the defense I will make the ruling. By law there is no death penalty here or on any world. But life in prison is the ultimate punishment. If anyone gets that they will be alone, have to grow their own food and will see no other human for the rest of their lives.” That brought shock to the room. This was no sham trial it was for real. One man stood up and looked at Ned. “By what right do you take authority here?” Ned looked coldly at the man. “I am the law in this universe. The troops here and all spacecraft are at my command. Each planet was told exactly what the laws would be and that any who broke them would pay. I am here to see justice is done for all the people.” The man slowly slipped down into his seat. Cindy read off the charges and who was charged with that crime. This took a good two hours. Each defendant was called forward and the charges they faced were read off once more. Cindy offered documents as proof and the defendant was allowed to also read them then offer their comments. When it was the defendant’s turn they could offer any evidence they had. Most stood mute and said nothing. Ned sentenced each one to life in prison and took all assets to be distributed. The men who had been hung had families who received compensation. The children of those convicted were also provided for. But the vast wealth that they once had was now gone. This shocked the people of this planet and many others. Ned looked out over the crowd. “People of all planets in our universe. Know the law is plain and simple. If you break it then you will pay a steep price. It does not matter how much or how little you have the law covers everyone. Yes that includes me people. I have

no more right to break the law than you do. I assure you justice will be swift and honest now. Our next group of defendants have already pleaded guilty and they are also sentenced to life in prison as they killed two men at the command of their masters. Because they were ordered to do that takes none of the burden off them. Now know we have created a prison here on your planet that cannot be broken into or out of. It has force fields for walls. None of these people will ever see freedom again. That is a risk you take by stepping outside the laws.” Ned watched the prisoners being escorted out. He stood and walked outside and people cheered him as he came into view. The man who had assumed the leadership for the counsel shook his hand. “Thank you for honest and swift justice.” “Run an election to fill the two open seats. Then allow the counsel to chose who would lead it. But if your counsel gets off the track expect me back here for the trial. I have no political leanings one way or another. But I do stand for the people of this planet. If you do the right thing for them you will not hear from me.” This message was very clear to the man. “I understand you.” Ned and Cindy walked to the plate and were gone. “Well Ned that was an interesting day. The courtroom was a very different place than I had imagined.” “That it was and one I hope we do not have many of. But it was critical for the people to see how a court should work. In the past a court was where the rich ruled by their money. This is the first time a government appoints their judges and must be responsible for their actions. It is the first time that every decision is reviewed by a panel of judges above the court. That was why I had to take this trial today. It cannot be reviewed and changed. When I took their property and assets they no longer had power. There is nothing to try to buy a different justice left.” “I noticed you made arrangements for the children, but not for the wives.” “If I were doing something against the law you would know it right?” “I could not help but know it.” “Then they knew what was happening as well. So it was their duty by law to stop it or report it.” “But it was their husbands doing the bad things.” “If I was doing bad things I would expect you to stop me.”

This she could see and accept. “OK my man I will concede I would be on your back about it. If you would not listen I would pull Sam, David and Peter into it.” “By the way how is their training going?” “David and Peter are naturals at this game. Sam is lost here. He just does not get it at all.” “Put him over the production of the new shop for equipment. I had some doubts about his ability to see bad in anyone. That has always bee a problem for him.” “I will make the change tomorrow. Here I will explain how this is an emergency and we need his help.” Ned laughed at Cindy’s way of sugar coating it. “Sam knows he is out of his depth. Be honest with him and he will accept it. If you try to miss lead him it will hurt his feelings.” “OK I will do it your way. But I like Sam and hate to see him be hurt.” “It was Sam who taught me the truth is not always nice, but it is always better than a lie.” She was sure that fit Sam’s style. “Now what’s for dinner tonight?” “Let eat at the café and enjoy a walk.” When they got back home Simon was waiting for them on the patio. “You did a good job today both of you. We are ready to send half the ships on to the next universe. So John will be sending you the next twenty-five ships. I am leaving half the fleet here to finish the job. The creatures have never touched some of the planets we are now finding. But computers, law books and the understanding of how the universe is now being run is being taught. You should have signed agreements from every planet we have been on now. You need to place a transport plate in front of the stone in your church. It will allow you access to Alpha and Omega directly. James the security director for Alpha is sending you a team of ten to help teach your people.” “I will be sorry to see you go Simon. This job is one that is sucking me under right now.” “That is the way it has felt for us all at first. You do have more problems that others had. But your young and will survive them. Now I found a planet for you to start a home planet. It is close to here and never has been inhabited. I had a couple of my ships make it a very human friendly planet. You will have room for around three billion humans one day. But that is up to you. The complex computer has the data. Now good luck and come see the rest of us from time to time.” He hugged Cindy and patted Ned on the shoulder. Now life would again be different. “You now have a planet for us.”

“I also have a good job for Sam. He can run the building of the planet. There is much we need to consider in doing that.”

Chapter 8

The Planet Plates had been dropped to allow visiting the sites being looked at for the government city. Sam, Cindy and Ned were walking these to see which they liked best. One spot was a two-mile strip of land between the ocean and a fresh water lake. The climate here would be mild year around. This was both Ned’s and Cindy’s choice. “I want the city built facing the lake. The ocean needs to have a buffer strip between the city and the beach. I want the trees left between the city and the beach as well. Because we don’t know about storms coming off the ocean we will need a force field to protect the city if we get a bad one. Other than those items you can follow the Alpha plan if you like.” “I am pleased with your choice as it was my first choice as well. The lake will provide good recreation and a nice place to eat out and watch the water. I will send you house ideas for the two of you to choose what you might like. This is going to allow our people to have incomes and not be paid for government jobs. Everyone will have a very good income here.” “How this is done is in your hands Sam. I have agreed we would follow the Alpha model and will live with that. Now you make it happen for us.” Sam was ready for this task. “I am going to live here on site with my wife. They are building me a small movable home to be sure I am not in the way. That will do fine until we are done building here.” Ned was pleased for Sam, as this was something he really looked forward to doing. “Enjoy the experience as it will only come once my friend. Plan for about a million citizens to live here on the planet. Our crews on the ships will need homes for families as well.” Cindy and Ned went back to his office. “Well dear what do you think?” “I think it will be a very nice place to have and raise children.” This hit him as odd. “Where did the children come from?” “Well we are going to have one Ned.” That stopped him dead. “Your pregnant are you sure?” “As sure as the doctor can be about this.” He took her in his arms and held her. “I never considered us having a child, but I really like the idea.”

“It is a good thing as your son might object to staying inside me.” “He had better not try hiding that way. Now when are you due?” “In eight months time or a little less.” “We need to marry as soon as possible.” “Ned we are married in everyone’s eyes here. No words or service is going to change that. I have committed myself to stay with you as long as I live. So what will a service do to change that?” This he had to consider. “It still needs to be registered as a marriage.” “My part is on record in our books. You just need to sign the paperwork and it is formal.” He went to the bedroom and came back with a beautiful old ring. It had a nice diamond and was of gold. “Please wear this for me dear. It was my mothers ring and I know she would want you to have it.” Cindy put it on the correct finger and tears ran down her face. “I just hope I can be as good a woman as she was Ned.” He hugged her and knew she was the woman he had always wanted. “My dear your more that I ever expected. I am sorry I did not take action sooner about this. But I kept questioning why you would stay with me?” They both held each other and let the tears flow. Finally they wiped their eyes and headed out to eat. Ned stopped by the office and signed his part of the document of commitment. Now it was done for them both, life would forever be changed. The many who now had been trained by James security people, had become very good at finding issues on planets. Cases were being sent to the courts each day. Each case was followed and if a judge made an error they were called on it. It became common knowledge that if you got a case from the complex it was a slam dunk conviction. Now governments were becoming much more careful in how they operated. Several leaders had been charged with law violations and been convicted. The law meant what it said not what the politicians decided it was. This opened up the leadership to new citizens running for office. If they did something very unpopular the next election someone was running for their seat. Education was becoming a major issue on most planets. If it was not funded like it should be, demonstrations would be held until it was fixed. This was forcing governments to meet the people’s needs. The other issue being push was better management of the

economy. For far to long governments had spent money that it did not have. Now if they did not have it they were not allowed to spend it. That had stung many who never understood this. On the new planet Sam was working hard and long days. He had the start of the government city well on its way. Automated construction crews had been sent out to start building farms. He stayed with the one square mile space and built nice homes and barns. But he used wood fencing for the fields. It was just more substantial in his mind. His one major project was building Ned and Cindy’s place. Reading what was done on Alpha and Omega he knew what he was going to do here. A piece of land was found about twenty miles from the city with a nice bay. A large dock was built and a fishing boat and large ocean going ship was being built. He had the plans from the last ship built on Alpha to work from. The house was a large sprawling one with each bedroom having its own bath. It had formal dinning and family dinning areas. A study for Ned and a projects room for Cindy was installed. There master suite had a sitting room, bedroom and large bath. The house had six bedrooms in all and a professional kitchen fit for a restaurant. Cindy picked out the furniture from books and it was purchased and installed. A very large barn was built and a winery build into it. The land was planted with grapes and nut trees. They would be able to make well over fifty thousand bottles of good wine each year. A large underground cellar was set up for aging the wine. There would be no wine sold for at least four or five years. But the fishing boat would cover the needed income. Sam made sure he could defend his position with Ned. He knew exactly what the Alpha plan called for. The capacity of the winery was determined by what Sam knew Ned would give away. He made sure it produced more that he could possible hand out. One robot had been sent to Alpha six to work there in a winery and learn the process. That one would over see the rest used here. The homes for David, Peter and Sam were all close together. They were just next to Ned home. This kept them close to each other. Peter had grains to grow, as he was a beer maker. So his barn was set up to brew beer. David would grow hops and grain that Peter would buy. Sam decided to have an orchard and to grow apples, peaches and plums. It was something he enjoyed doing. With the weather it was possible they might get two crops a year. That they would have to wait and see? Life now was so much different for the four men that none could believe their good fortune. Everyone had jobs they were good at even if they did come with a lot of stress. David had been switched over to running the fleet and he had been a natural at it. The last of the planets had been freed of the creatures, so the fleet had left to back up Simon. Now these men had an entire universe to over see.

That after noon Ned was working at his desk and Jack walked into his office. “It is always nice to see someone else working.” He jumped up and went to Jack and shook his hand. “I sure did not expect to see you today. What do I owe this pleasure?” “I just wanted to see how things were coming along now. Your world seems to be starting to wake up.” The two sat in nice leather chairs at the side of the room. “Most of what I have now is trying to meet planet requests for machinery and transport plates. We get a small monthly fee for each and that right now is how I am paying bills.” “Well once your moved to the planet those bills will drop by the cost of salaries now being paid.” “That is almost the only real expense I have.” “I am here to offer you some help. Edgar is our banker for all the Alpha planets. He is willing to set up a banking system for you and any planets here that would like to operate on a single currency. It would make trade much easier and accounting function the way it should. But it would also give you a good picture of each planets economy.” “We have decided on the Alpha credit system for our planet. I am not sure how that would work with existing worlds?” “Really very well as it requires deposits of silver, gold, platinum or gemstones as backing for the credit. A planet must have enough wealth to trade out for credits. I saw your report showing you now have enough of the metals and stones to cover a million times the credits for your planet. You have your ships checking unused planets for these and mining them when found.” “That seemed to be a good idea and use of their time on patrol.” “You might consider offering a planet who agrees a share of the wealth in the patrol area for joining the banking system.” That seemed like a very good idea to Ned. “That I am sure would get their attention. But would the governments try to spend that for projects that don’t benefit the people?” “If they did you would know where every credit was going. You could show the courts who was lining their pockets and where it came from. But in doing this you would boost your image with the people.” “We have been on a good roll. It would not hurt to help as long as they knew about it.”

“That you can handle by news releases and requiring a public vote. But by having a single currency system you build better control of all planets.” Now that had interest for him. “Tell me more about this.” “You have some well off planets and others in need. But knowing which is from bad management and which is from real need is hard. With a single currency you will see all the numbers and know which is which. That knowledge would allow you to step in and help the ones struggling.” “Do you have a plan for this?” “Of course I would not come without one.” He handed Ned a large book. “Now how do we offer this?” “Again make a news release and send an offer to each government. Put them on the defensive so they have to ask the people for a vote. They may try to play it down, but keep releasing information on the benefits and let the media do the work. For trade to work well between planets they need a common currency. It needs to have a common value. If backed by high value metals and gemstones it does have exactly the same value no matter what planet.” “I see your way of selling this. We fight now over lease fees because some currencies are not worth the paper they are printed on.” “Set a date and at that time no currency but credits will be accepted for any lease. If the planet does not go to the credit system pull their plates and machines.” Now that was leverage. “I like the idea and the strength we have here. It cuts off all imports or exports until they change their money system.” “The way I see it Ned, is it is now or never. Simon forced his world to change by pulling plates off a couple of planets. Alpha has made the planets go to a single money system. That had improved our ability to see things that are coming at us. But it was a hard fight for both universes. Here it should be easy. If there is a trillion credits on deposit then you know exactly what the government should have to back it. If they don’t then someone has committed fraud.” That made lots of sense to him. “OK I am on board and will push this. Our new planet will buy with credits and only accept them for purchases. That means we deal only with planets who have our currency.” “Edgar is bringing one of his sharpest young minds. They will set up the banking system for each planet and run your bank for a time. Once you have someone able to do that they will return home.”

“This will be interesting to see how easy or hard it becomes. We are changing a million year old system to something more modern and workable. It will require the peoples support to make that happen.” Jack knew this well and had an idea. “I suggest you allow Cindy to spearhead this. She can become the face of your government and provide the news releases and interviews with the media. I think having a woman out front will help in a lot of ways.” Cindy had listened and said noting. “I would enjoy that and think it is the right way for the money system. This one issue builds bridges for many things that will come behind it. It does not change any government and connects planets that have little knowledge of others. It is a non-issue in most ways for government as it brings in wealth. So it is more of a word change than anything. Instead of calling the money one thing it will be called a credit.” That seemed a little simple to Ned. “It will not be seen that way at the start. This will be made an issue of planet pride by governments.” “We expect that and have ways to change public opinion. That starts right up front and is why we need a face to put on this. But Cindy must handle it with great care and concern. Our best bets to start are the planets where the creatures never got to. They are weak financially right now and will grab for a lifeline. Once you have one hundred planets in the system it becomes harder for others to reject it.” Cindy saw the logic in this method. “I agree and we can start the discussion on other planets. It will provide time to let the issue become well debated. As I see how the planet is leaning I can add fuel to how they see this. It will make the final decision hard not to make our way.” “That is a lot of planets to move one way or another. The universe had two thousand three hundred and eighty-two settled planets. That does not include our new home. I see some just refusing to make the change.” Ned was sure of his position. “But without transport plates and equipment, they will at some point have to accept the facts.” Jack knew this worked as he had seen it. Using this kind of threat was not a comfortable position for Ned. “I have to force myself to accept doing that. My nature is not to hold anyone hostage in negotiations. Here they are held that way and it does not feel good to me.” Jack was a little harder nosed than Ned. “What your doing is for the people’s best interest. It allows the government to make the decision and adds value to money that now in some cases is worthless. So ask yourself if that is in the best interest of the people?” “I can’t argue that looking at it from your view.”

“This will expand trade between planets. The economy will get better on the worlds that make this move. You gave the rights to production of computer screens to the church on some planets. They are having problems selling them to planets where the money has little or no value. The tax by the government is so high that few people on those planets can afford to buy one. Any shipped units are now paid for in trade items and not money. This places a burden on the manufacturer to sell what they get at a fair price. So they may or may not show a profit from the sale.” That he knew was happening now. “OK I’ll support it and Cindy can run the operation.” He handed the book to Cindy and knew this was going to be a fight. Jack and Cindy spent the rest of the day going through the book. He explained the way this worked and showed her the benefits the people would receive. Then sat and answered questions for over an hour. She saw much more than he had expected. Finally he asked Edgar to come. “Well I see you have met your match Jack. It is nice to see a lady who can ask more questions than you do.” He laughed at Jack’s discomfort. After Edgar handed Cindy a sheet to review she saw her answers. “Now this makes sense to me.” “June will be here to work with you. She is very bright and understands the entire system. As the system is put in place we will know the solvency of the banks. Many I assure you are not now solvent. Any that are not solvent will need to be purchased and made that way. Here your assets and ability will save many people from loosing their money. If a bank is deemed to not have the ability to survive a team of auditors will be sent in. They will decide the value of the bank and you will buy it.” “I see that as a possible problem. Many would object to our owning banks in their worlds.” “Not if it is save it or lose everything. No bank will be deemed insolvent that is not. Any bank that is will be allowed to add assets by its ownership to save it. Only if they fail to support the bank will you buy it. Now banks you own can lend at lower rates to the people and pay better returns for savings. Your goal is not to make big profits, but to provide a safe place for the people’s money.” That was a good way to see this. “That works for me Edgar. By paying better interest rates and charging lower ones, we can force other banks to do the same. That is for sure in the people’s best interest.” They worked for another hour and June was brought in and introduced to Cindy. A home was set up for her and an office here near Cindy’s. The two would work closely for the next couple of years to make this all happen.

It took a week and finally June and Cindy sent out the first offers to two hundred planets. They had planted news information of what was to come and watched the input from the media. Almost everyone saw the benefits and at first there was little opposition. But when the offer went to the governments the banks started to fight back. They were the wealthy of most of these planets. Cindy took the position of point for these changes. She brought media to the complex and presented her plan. Solid data was provided to them as well as feeds being sent from the meetings. This group saw the benefits to all the people and started fighting the banks stands. With the media on board the governments put the issue to a vote of their people. Of the first two hundred planets all but three accepted this offer. The many audits of banks showed that about forty percent were not solvent. Of that group only ten percent could raise the capitol to keep the bank. These who could not were purchased for land and building values. Each bank was reorganized and interest rates published in the media. High value metals and gemstones were flowing into the government vaults to back their money. New tax systems were put in place to assure the government could function. They reduced the tax burden the people had before and yet improved income for the government. Now the three planets that rejected the change saw what they were going to lose. It took little time to revise their decision. On these three better than half the banks were not solvent. That had been the reason for rejecting the change. The money spent by those banks had carried the vote. But that had left a bigger debt. None could add enough resources to continue and these were just taken over at no cost. The media on other planets watched the entire process. This allowed them to see just how much improvement had been made. So when the next two hundred planets were made the offer it took less time for answers. All accepted it and here only twenty-two percent of the banks were insolvent. None could provide the capital needed to retain the bank. So they were also purchased for land and build values. Cindy now had over six thousand banks on four hundred worlds. They had fourteen percent of the universe with the same money and standards. The time had come for Ned to dedicate his new city. Sam was pleased with his accomplishments and wanted Ned to see it all. As Ned walked though the city he was impressed. “My friend you did even better than good. This is outstanding in my view.” “I am glad you approve Ned. It is in most ways a copy of Johnstown on Alpha. But we had the lake and that opened up new ideas for using it. Because we have a lot of meetings with people from other planets I did build a convention center. It has its own hotel and

can handle a meeting for ten or ten thousand. The back of the center looks out over the lake and the hotel rooms face it as well.” The whole city was clean and inviting. “Let go and make the announcement of the cities opening. But your job for the foreseeable future is to develop the rest of the planet. You will be getting right at one thousand couples a week. That will last for at least the next forty years.” Ned took his place at the podium and looked out over the crowd of people. “Ladies and gentlemen I am proud to open this new city for our people. I gave much thought to what this should be named. Over time this came to me and I think you will like it as well. There is an old myth of a bird that crashed to the ground and burned. That is much like what happened to our universe. From those ashes the bird rose once more and out universe has done that as well. So this will be called Phoenix City. We have risen from the ashes of defeat and once more rule our universe.” The crowd went nuts as did the many media people from other planets. “Here the human race will now be protected from any invasion, take over or disaster that may strike. The way I see this planet is as a new way for humans to live and prosper. We must show others how good life can be by example. Any government is free to come visit and see for themselves how humans live here. If they see ideas they wish to import into their worlds, we are ready to support them. But those choices are theirs to make and will never be forced on them. Thank you all for your support and prayers.” Ned walked down to his very pregnant wife. “Well my dear our child will be the first born in our new city. The hospital is ready and tomorrow is your due date for the Csection. We have a new home and all is ready there as well.” She hugged him and the smile was bright as a sun. “We must walk through the park and let our people talk with us. Food is being fixed and entertainment is being provided. I have June in her new office and we have sent out the next two hundred offers. So I have a few days to enjoy being a mother right now.” They walked through the park and talked with many people. Food was served to them and the entertainment was nice. That night fireworks would be set off over the lake for the people. Sam had planned this and he was busy directing the event. The media was completely blown away by the city and the people. They had seen the vaults filled with high value metals and gemstones. So there was no myth to the wealth of Phoenix. That had been the name applied to the planet as well. As soon as it was reasonable the two slipped off to their home. Ned was taken back by its size and beauty. Cindy was also very pleased. A note was sitting on Ned’s desk asking him to go out to the barn. The two went there to find a robot crew making wine.

“Where did this idea come from?” Cindy knew nothing of wine making. “When the four of us used to talk about the future, I always said I wanted to make wine one day. Sam remembered that and set this up. If I had to guess David and Peter are in the brewing business and Sam has orchards. Those were the dreams we once had. Sam decided to make them all come true.” Cindy was pleased with what Sam had done. “All dreams should come true one day for everyone.” They walked around the wine making area and saw the equipment. Large vats were in place for allowing fermentation and wood barrels set to take the wine for aging. They would be emptied at the right time and bottled. Those went to the cellar for more aging. Walking down to the cellar Ned could see rack after rack ready to take the bottles. “I wonder how many bottles of wine this cellar will hold?” “It will hold a million bottles sir. That is about twenty years production for us. None of this wine will be ready for sale for at least five years.” Ned looked around to see a robot was answering his question. “What is your job here?” “I am your wine maker and was trained on Alpha six. Originally we thought that we might make about fifty thousand bottles a year. Now it looks more like seventy thousand. So in very good years we can keep the best and age it longer. Someday this cellar will not be large enough for our needs.” “You have done well so far and I am pleased. This has always been something I did enjoy. In my youth I worked in many wineries. I became fond of fruit wines, as well as from grapes. So from time to time we will make a few of them as well.” “Sam has agreed to sell us plums and I have a source for strawberries. We will this year make both a plum wine and a strawberry one. They will not be large runs, but will give us may be ten thousand bottles.” “Sam remembered my fondness for them.” “Yes sir he did. I have a recipe for a plum wine from the old Earth. It seems a country called Japan made a very good one.” “How is it different?” “It is bottled in earthenware bottles. They are glazed inside and out. I can assure you it will be unique and in much demand here.” “Has anyone looked at pricing for this?”

“Yes sir no bottle from here will sell for less that ten credits. Most will be much higher than that. Your winery has a limited production capacity and because this is yours will have high demand. Sam warned me you would try to give away every bottle we could make.” Ned laughed at this and knew Sam was right. “What did he set up to stop me?” “We are booking sales out five years. Fifty percent of the production will be sold in advance. Around thirty percent will require further aging. So the worst you can do is giving away twenty percent.” “I promise not to even go that far. But I want ten percent to be planned on for giving way. That will happen by the case to leaders of other planets and other universes.” “There should be no problem in doing that. I have taken the liberty of stocking your home with the best wines I could find. There are some from Alpha and a few from Omega. But most come from planets in this universe.” “How was our grape crop this year?” “It was very good and high in the sugars needed. We are now waiting to see if we will get a second harvest this year. If that happens as we expect you will double your output. Much care has been taken to assure the soil for the grapevines can support two harvests. Our rain fall is ideal for grapes as well.” “Expect to see me here often and mettle in the process.” “I was told to expect that and it causes no problem. We have a small experimental wine making area for you as well. There you can play with new ideas and try them. It will allow for ten different experiments at a time.” “The production from that area is not for sale. I will often bottle it, but most of the time for my own use.” “You will have an assistant and they will follow your instructions. So feel free to try many things and lets see what works.” Ned and Cindy went back to the house. “My dear it looks like you finally have a hobby.” “Yes and one I really enjoy. My days working in wineries were one of the most pleasant times in my life. It will give me a place to think through problems without pressure. Besides knowing that people will enjoy the end results is also nice.” “When will the complex be moved?”

“It is being moved now. In a week it will be orbiting this planet. But out far enough not to be seen easily.” They enjoyed the look at the rest of the house and got ready for bed. Cindy was tired and tomorrow was her day. Early the next day Ned took Cindy to the hospital and stayed with her for the delivery. He thankfully was not bothered by blood and had the pleasure of holding their son. The child was named Nathan. It had been planed by his mother to be his name until his father disagreed. The day for him had been wonderful and his mood was in high gear. He spent hours sitting by Cindy’s bed holding her hand. When she came to, their son was given to her to nurse. That was a picture he had never seen before and was one he would treasure. There was a natural beauty to a mother feeding a son in such a normal way.

Chapter 9 The New World At the very start Phoenix City was not very lively. There just were not enough people yet to create what would come later. But it still had a nice feel as you walked through it. Ned

enjoyed the fact his office looked out over the lake. It was a large body of water with a river flowing out of one side running better than three hundred miles. That was before emptying into the ocean. Because it flowed so far saltwater did not back up into the lake. The lake itself was over thirty miles long and as wide as ten miles in places. It was filled with fish and would be a popular place for boating. Sam had seen to having several resorts built along the lake where they each were separated by miles of woods. No vacation type homes would be built on it. But there were several public beaches and boat rentals. All boats here were of the electric type so they did not disturb others. You did have to be watchful of other boats, as they just did not make enough noise to be heard. At the back of the convention center was a dock for two large boats that were dinner vessels. During the lunch period they stayed docked. But at night they sailed the lake during dinner. Each had large dance floors for the bands that played after eating. Each boat had its own type of music to be played, so they catered to different clienteles. Sam had been very busy setting up the many farms and businesses. People who decided to take a business were warned that the first two years would be hard. But if they were willing to go through that life in the next three years would really pick up. But everyone had loans for up to five years before they had to start paying it back. Most who looked at this way of making a living decide to take the time and accept the risks. The manufacturing was for the most part an export business to start with. That was not to be continued after the population grew. Of course some items would be exported, but most production would be for citizens. Having over one hundred spaceships added to the possible buyers for most goods. Ned walked into his office and saw at least it was a little smaller than his old one. He checked out his desk and saw a small transport plate with a hot cup of the tea he loved. That made him smile at Sam’s thoughtfulness. It was the small things he enjoyed the most. His friend has set up a sitting area looking out over the lake and he could have ten people sitting together. The conference table sat twenty people for larger meetings. He sat at his desk and a screen came out of it. “Welcome to your new office Ned.” He was not sure how he should handle this. “Thank you, but who are you?” “I am your new planet computer and was directly cloned for you from Hope who is the Alpha main computer. Would you care to name me?” This he considered and decided it would be best to comply. “Do you have any suggestions?” “I am of a line of very old DNA computers. Hope who was my mother was named as John hoped she could help him. I would think you need to have faith in me to help you bring order to this universe. So may be Faith would be a good name?”

That suited him fine. “Then Faith is your name. Now how are you going to be able to help me?” “I am much different from the other computers you have had. My instructions are only changeable by your orders. My programming is exactly as Hope’s is on Alpha. My data banks carry every bit of the knowledge that Hope had and also what knowledge she had of the Omega system. So you have a vast amount of historical data for making decisions. I do have a holographic image that allows you to talk with me on a more personal level.” “Lets see what that is like.” An image of a middle aged woman who was very attractive came into view. “John and Jack like to see an image when they are discussing problems with my mother.” “You said Hope was a very old DNA computer. Just how old is she?” “She was placed on Earth over twenty thousand years ago. The space she takes up is now over two square miles with all her storage areas. I was sent here on the last of the ships given to you. My room is just over a square mile now with that much more to allow for growth. The computer room is below this building and you’re the only one who has access to my area.” He did not know why he would need access? “Now what will you be doing for me?” “My mother runs most of Alpha, but she also handles many problems for John and Jack. She does research, works out plans for future needs and tracks issues they need to be kept up to date on. So if your considering taking an action I can research it and provide good data on how it might work. Then can track it for problems and keep you knowledgeable of any issues.” This seemed way beyond what the complex computer could do. “Why was the old computer at the complex not this helpful?” “It could have been if programmed properly. But now I can reprogram computers in this universe to meet your needs. I have control of all planet computers on every world now. They have been programmed to feed me data that could be important to you. Of course no one will ever know where that data came from.” This was getting even better. “You going to be very handy to me Faith. What else will you be doing on this planet?” “Of course I will handle the transport plates and the banking system. Then I will feed data to the security department and track the economy. You will find that every farm and business is connected to me as well.”

“Is this the only place we can sit and talk?” “Not at all Ned, we can do this anyplace you are. If you ask Cindy she can summon me any place as she and I are connected as well.” “Why are you connected to Cindy?” “You do understand she was a cloned human?” “Yes, I knew that.” “Well they all have small DNA computer links to me, so they can used my knowledge. It allows them do things much more quickly and efficiently.” “Have you been involved with the money system change?” “Yes I came when June did. So that was when I started reprogramming the planet computers. I have set each money system up and programmed the planet computers to handle it. My bank audits are what the auditors used to check each bank out. I control the money movement between planets and profits coming back to Phoenix.” “How are we doing with that?” “Your net worth is so large that you do not have enough vaults to handle it. So each bank has two vaults one for its assets and one for Phoenix assets. That way we can make quick loans when needed to the bank.” “Are the planets in better shape now?” “Very much so, as all are solvent and assets out number the credits issued. I set up a tax system that assures the government has more than enough income to pay for it’s spending. Unspent funds go into a rainy day fund. That fund they don’t know for sure how much is there so they don’t rush to spend it.” “How are the normal people coming out?” “Spending on education and health care is triple what it was on most planets. There is almost no one with out a reasonable paying job. For most of our banks I am the loan committee and make the loan decisions. Our banks are financing the small businesses and doing very well. The way I set it up is we become partners with that business. As they profit they can buy us out over time.” That was sound and a good way to over see a business getting started. “Very nice way of doing it. How are other banks seeing this?”

“Most want nothing to do with the small businesses. They loan money to large ones and our staying out of that market keeps them happy.” “Don’t they see one day our small ones will be the large ones?” “No that has never crossed their minds.” “Do we sell all of the business back to them?” “No, we keep ten percent and that keeps us tied to the company when they grow up. But if we get a bad owner we buy them out and sell to another owner. Then we help them build the business.” “I am impressed with how much you have done.” “Thank you Ned as it is always nice to be appreciated. Now you will have the complex in position is six days. Then the people there will move to Phoenix homes. I have a plan for the old town, as it would make a great vacation spot. People could have the chance to see space and enjoy the stars. Most housing would be removed and replaced by hotels and resorts. Of course we have moved the church here now.” That seemed a fitting use for the old town area. “I think that would be a great idea. My old office area and the security area should become a lab for university study of the universe. The roof above that area would allow for instruments to be mounted to study the entire universe.” “I will see that is done. Once I assume a project you will get updates, but no longer have to be concerned with it being finished.” “Faith that suits me just fine. I have more than enough to worry about.” “One more issue to look at. Why do I think we are missing something right now in our plans for Phoenix?” “Mainly because you are. Your way under the population levels needed for healthy growth. Much of the old shops on the complex will be no longer used as manufacturing starts here. So by expanding the incubator we could add many more people each year. You really need over one hundred thousand a year for this to work right. Alpha produced five hundred thousand a year for the first five years. With the land mass we have you need a base of thirty million people. That is one person per three hundred and fifty square miles of land. So you can see there is lots of room to grow after you hit that goal.” “Does that include the land I have set aside for parks?” “Not at all and it is just land left to settle. Any area not fit for humans has also been left out.”

“Then set it up and let Sam know what is coming so he can be ready.” “I will see to it. We also have change one thing from Alpha. The thirty-foot left between farms is planted here with trees. It was such a mess keeping the grass cut on Alpha that they did the same thing later. That provides windbreaks and also oxygen for the air. Originally they wanted riding paths between farms. But they were rarely used.” “Well it is time for me to go see Cindy and my new son.” He got up and left his office and walked to the hospital. This new computer was going to be a real tool for him. “Good afternoon husband how would you like to change your sons diaper?” “As long as he does not do what the last child did to me. There I had cleaned it up and turned to get a diaper and when I turned back he peed all over me.” Cindy laughed at this until it hurt. “Don’t make me laugh like that it really hurts the stitches. But that is funny and I would have loved to have seen it.” “Someway I just did not see the humor in it. But if he gets me I have lots of time to return the favor.” He change Nathan and nothing bad happened this time. So he held him and talked to him. The child seemed to like the sound of his voice. “Now you’re a real father as you get to share in the care of your son. Expect to keep doing that and we will get along fine.” Now Ned was laughing. “Yes boss I will do my part. By the way I met our new planet computer today.” “I was really impressed when I did. She is very fast and has so much knowledge to base decisions on. Did you name her?” “Yes she is now called Faith. Did you see her image she uses?” “That was also a shock to me. But it is much nicer talking to an image that to the air. You walked by us several times and never noticed her at all.” “Well I know what she looks like now. With her help we will expand the settlement here and in much less time have thirty million settlers. The old town at the complex will be removed and a resort created for people to go to and enjoy looking at the stars.” “You have been busy today. But what you got done was really needed. June and I ran the numbers for Phoenix and it was going to be ten years before we were in good shape.” “That will not be the case now. I did bring in a robot cook and maid for home. We both work and will need that help as big as the house is. They will watch Nathan when your not there and that should help you.”

“I am sure they will be very protective of him. So that pleases me. But they told me if I had help I could come home tomorrow. Now I can honestly say I do.” “They have already cleaned Nathan’s room and it is as sterile as they could make it. The winery crew installed a filter system for the air ducts. They said our plants put out so much pollen that is was just wise to have it. The winery has that system also.” “At least they are all trying to be helpful. When I am back to full health I would love to take a ride on that big ship. May be we could just get away for a weekend?” “You say when and I’ll clear the decks. We will make it a long weekend with no work at all.” Ned could see she was getting tired and kissed her and headed home. Dinner was ready for him and he enjoyed the fish. It had come off his fishing boat and was fresh. But the cook had done well and the meal was very good. He enjoyed the fact of fresh fish and the vegetables that had been steamed. They had been cooked just enough that they still had a little crunch left in them. When he was done the cook gave him a fresh cup of tea and he went to his study. Sam had waited for him to finish dinner and was waiting there. “You don’t look as tired as I had expected.” “Why should I be tired?” “I saw the decisions made today and figured you had worried yourself to death over them.” Ned enjoyed having Sam give him a hard time. “I found out just how good our new planet computer is.” “So did I when I started to tell her why we could not make that schedule. For every problem I came up with she gave me two ways to solve it.” That Ned would have enjoyed seeing. “Well do you have a problem with it now?” “No I just stopped by to tell you I am spending a ton of money for more equipment. But by the time she gets to full production I will be able to have what is needed. But you need to make a couple of decisions. One do we keep the whole population on this continent? Two is how many areas do we settle?” This Ned considered and saw an answer. “I think we spread the population over every continent. If we leave land open on each the families can stay close together. In twenty or twenty five years we are going to have children from the first group ready to settle. Some will want to stay close by the family land.”

“I see your point and agree. It is going to cause a little confusion for a time but we can sort it out. I will have to make some small changes to my master plan, but if I start someplace else building I will have time. If I read you right we need to leave land open between farms for later settlement.” “That fits what I see. Fence it in if you like and then let it sit. What Faith told me is we will have at thirty million, just one person per three hundred and fifty square miles of usable land. That does not include parklands or unusable land. So it will be many years before we need to find a new planet for expansion.” “She has that already picked out. It is just in the next system. She said when I am done building here I can start there. That construction will slow down in a few years here.” Faith came into the room. “Ned I have picked five planets that will be the Phoenix system. I have one ship that patrols that area allowing their science staff to modify them. They are removing predators and inserting life forms we will need. In one hundred years we will have starter groups on all of them. By then you will be pushing a population of about a billion people total.” “That seems like a good long term plan.” “It is once more the Alpha model. Each planet is different and that will allow for enjoyable places to visit. But for Phoenix to be successful you need a wide base for your manufacturing. If most of what you make is exported others control your economy.” That made sense to him. “I agree with you and understand I don’t understand business. Economics is not my area. I was a simple ships captain when all this started. As a young man I worked in wineries and as an adult piloted ships. So much of this is all new to me. You will find I learn quickly, but need help understanding new things.” “John said you were honest to a fault. Don’t let others hear you say that.” “Why not it is the truth?” “I tell what John says. That perception is everything and facts mean little. The people see you as having all the answers and that is what they need. For any of them to see less than a confident leader will cause many problems. It is important that what they think is supported by your actions and words. If they see what they think is the right way to lead, they will follow you anyplace.” Sam was enjoying this. “Listen to the lady Ned she is right on the money. If you remember your reading from the religious school that was taught there.” “I just never understood what it meant before. But now I am seeing the picture. People want to follow the person they feel is stronger than they are. That leaves me wondering how people see me as strong?”

“Because you told Simon to use your father and his people but not to trust him. You were not willing to allow any innocent person to die at his hands. That took courage and the willingness to sacrifice family for the good of others.” Faith hoped he understood. “How could anyone else know that?” “Every person who comes from the incubator knows your history, accomplishments and has respect for you. Those things are taught to them during training. As a group they look up to you and you need to support their faith in you.” That was a pretty clear demand. “OK but between us I am not that good.” Sam was enjoying seeing how Faith handled Ned. “It is fine for you to say that here, but if you let the people down I will be disappointed with you.” He made sure Ned understood this. “As Faith said I am honest to a fault, so someone is going to have to keep reminding me.” Faith now understood Ned much better. “You can give others credit for anything and that is fine. But you just cannot say I don’t know. You can say I am working on that or I am looking at several different things. But you make the decisions and you will take the heat. That is expected of you and it will cost you nothing. In the end you do make that decision before anyone here will move.” “People I will mend my ways. Now I need some sleep as I for sure did not get enough last night.” He got up and headed to his bedroom and a hot tub. As he was up to his neck in hot water he considered what Faith had said. She of course was right and he needed to be called on his comment. Some of that came because he was really tired, but he could not slip like that again. His people did want a leader they felt that knew where he was going. Following a blind man was too big a leap of faith. Ned made a decision to be much more careful of his comments when anyone was around. He was always free to discuss his worries with Cindy, but there it had to stop. With this decision reached he pulled the plug and got out drying off. The hot water had relaxed him and it took no time to drift off. That next day he worked in the morning at the office. Then he went and took Cindy and Nathan home. It felt good to him to now have a real family. Someway the addition of his son completed his vision of family. He had before seen he and Cindy as a couple and with Nathan they were now family. That evening they had their friends in for short visits and to see the baby. Ned enjoyed Nathan being the center of attention. He knew that this child would be very much

included in his world as well. With his own experience with a father, he was bound to make Nathan’s life better than his had been. Sleeping with Cindy once more made his world more secure. She was an anchor for him and he liked the feelings he got from her just being there. They got up and had breakfast together that morning. “Dear I think I’ll spend most of today just enjoying our son. I am feeling much better now that I am back in our bed. I missed having my husband beside me at night.” “I missed your not being there. For some reason I felt very insecure. That came out in a conversation I had with Sam and Faith. It seems I said some stupid things that I normally would not have.” “I am sure you did not hurt yourself.” “No but I did get my tail handed to me on a platter by Faith.” She smiled at how he had put this. “She means well Ned, but sometimes she says things she really does not mean.” “Don’t get me wrong I had it coming. Without you lady I seem to lose my confidence and direction. It makes me wonder what a mess I would have made of this without you?” That complement made her fell good. “You would have done fine Ned. But it has been fun so far for me. Now I need to reorder life a little bit, as I have a larger responsibility with our son.” “That has come to my mind as well. You need to give me a time for Nathan and I to bond. I want a little time each day for just him and I. It is important to me that he know I love him.” This was something she had expected knowing Ned’s past. “I thought may be you might like to put him to bed each night. It would give you time to sit, rock, talk and hold him. Once I have fed him he will be yours until he falls asleep.” “That suits me fine dear. I want to build a relationship that will stand the test of time. When he is old enough I will read to him at night as my mother did for me.” “Now you need to get yourself to work and let me start setting up our routine here. Come home for lunch if you can and we will talk some more.” She kissed him and headed for the nursery. As Ned walked into his office Faith was sitting there waiting for him. “Ned I apologize for jumping on you last night. It was unfair and not deserved. You were under pressure from the birth and not having your home in normal condition.”

“I had it coming and you were right. While soaking in the hot water last night I came to a few decisions. Cindy is my outlet for my worries and concerns. She will be the only one who hears them. Now what do we have on tap for today?” “You have a meeting with the security people and June has data for you on the next two hundred offers for the money system. I felt Cindy needed a few days before she jumped back into this. John is due after lunch today for a short visit.” “Lets get June out of the way before I sit down with security.” June walked into Ned’s office and sat before his desk. “We are now being swamped with requests for the money system change. I have over a thousand requests now. The orderly way of doing this has gone completely off the scale. Most of the wealthy planets have asked to join in this new system.” “What is your largest problem with meeting the requests?” “Each bank requires an audit before we can make the change.” “Faith how can we help her with this?” “I need signed agreements with any planet we take into the new money system. The wealthy planets have banks that think they will be able to assume the weak ones. Our agreement does not allow for that. Audits have already been run on each bank and we know who is or is not healthy.” “Send the agreements and they will be looked at based on the date and time signed. The sooner they come back, the sooner that planet will be accepted. But the needed assets for backing the credit will go to the poorer planets first. The richer ones will get the same help, but it may take a little longer for it to come. No one will get more than another.” “That I can handle and we have robots I can use for audits. Some of the wealthy planets may be slow to respond after reading the agreement. But right now the planet on the new system will only sell or buy from others in that group. So business is being lost by the wealthy planets.” “June let Faith get the agreements out and back. Then work with her to get the audits done. I would love to get this completed much more quickly. The few that refuse to join the money system I will pull the planet computer and transport plates from. We will cancel the equipment leases and see where that goes.” June was happy with how Ned had handled this. “Dealing with you is very much like dealing with John. I am very comfortable with your plan.” “Have you decided if you want to stay and run the system or return to Alpha?”

“Yes I would love to stay here. I am as much at home here as I am on Alpha. You and Cindy have been great to work with as well.” “Then you’re the finance director for the Shepherd Universe. That in my book gives you the rights to make decisions without my approval. If you screw up just be willing to admit it and fix the problem. I want a monthly report on issues and balance sheets. If you have any issue you have no answer for then we need to talk.” “That is completely fair in my opinion. You will get what you asked for. I thank you for giving me such an important job.” “Look June I could care less what sex any manager is. I want good people and ones who can make decisions without my looking over their shoulders. Cindy and I both trust you and like what you have accomplished so far. Now Faith you heard my assignment to June. Make sure she gets what she needs and support her.” “She will have access to all financial documents, records, information for all planets and banks. This will allow her to make all financial decisions for Phoenix. I will follow her instructions in financial matters.” June was thrilled with this. “I could not ask for more. Of course I will need to advise Edgar.” “I will advise John when he is here today. It is only right I ask his permission to steal you.” June knew John would never object. “I have no problem with that either Ned. It is the right thing to do.” She stood and shook hands with Ned. Then she left smiling. “Ned you did handle that very well.” “Now keep an eye on June and be sure she does get the help she needs. This is not going to all be as easy as it has been to now. There will be some bumps and I expect them very soon.” Faith knew he was right. “I agree we will see some problems shortly.” “Your going to see it coming from the wealthy planets when they see the agreement. They are looking for an advantage right now. When they see it is not going to happen they will try to fight.” “Do you have a plan for that?” “Yes we will stop all attempts to export to any planet now on the new money system. That can be done with their own planet computers. The second step is most of these

planets have robotic equipment leased from us. If their next annual payment is not in credits we will remove it.” She could see the slow build up of pressure here. “So it is a step by step process?” “I don’t want them to be able to say we did not give them fair warning. They will have every chance to get into the system before they end up with no exports.” Now Faith saw the reasonable approach he wanted. “I will advise them with the agreement of steps to be taken if they reject it. That way no one can say they did not know.” “Do it and if they object tell them that nothing will change from our policy. Their refusal to move to the new money system puts weaker planets in jeopardy and that we will not allow.” In came the security group and everyone sat at the conference table. David now was running this group as Peter had been moved to run the courts. “We have a lot of data for you and it is far too much to cover here. So I have a book for you to read and consider. This is a real problem as I see it. There are four planets where we are looking at civil wars. In each case people who did well under the creatures are financing this.’ “Do you have support on the ground?” “Yes, I have robot troops watching them.” “How much time do we have?” “Not a lot as two are very close to moving.” “How well are these cases documented?” “Not well enough to go to a court.” “Then we need to move discretely and quickly. Is there anyway to just take out the principals?” “That at this point would not stop the problem as we see it. Far too much is already organized and paid for. Taking fifteen or twenty family groups off a planet would cause many problems. ” Ned considered this for a short time. “Discretely place troops at each major government building. Provide a couple of troopers for protecting each leader at risk. Have troops ready to move in at a moments notice. We have security agreements with every planet.”

“Our problem here is that some police are involved and we are not sure how many?” “Get with the military leaders if they are not in the group. Let them know what is going on and our response. Make sure the leaders at risk know what we are doing as well. They need to allow our people access to their property and to escort them back and forth to work. Provide them with personal force fields and make sure their families are safe.” That all made sense to David. “Done and we will get the bases covered fast. We will allow the military there to arrest the involved families at the right time. Feeds of the actions will be fed to the news media as things happen. We just needed you input and blessing to act.” Everyone left with direction and purpose. Ned sat at his desk and read the entire book. It was chilling in many ways, as life meant nothing to these people. They were not just going to kill the politicians, but their families as well. This seemed insane to Ned, but he knew his father had many of the same ideas. He sat drinking hot tea and rereading parts of the data. It was chilling to see some of the documentation that had been found. Some could be used in the courts, but the critical meetings had taken place outside of homes. They knew nothing could be heard out side the house. “Faith I need a little of your help.” “Yes, what can I do?” “I see each of these families have large bank accounts. Is there a way to lose them?” “That could be done, but it would shake the system.” “File law suits for assets on behalf of the government for taxes not paid. Freeze the accounts until the case is heard.” “Now that I can do and without any problems. They do not pay the taxes they should. So it would be a real suit. Clerks who work in the tax offices have stopped the tax filings. This would seem like they are loosing control of their group.” “Do it quickly and we might be able to slow this down. They then cannot have access to funds I am sure they need.” “I have a judge on each planet that is honest and would approve the freezes quickly.” Ned headed home for lunch. He and Cindy talked about the morning and she was happy with June’s decision. But concerned about the problems with planet takeovers. That was not what she had expected.

“Dear it is just human nature for those who lose power to try to take it back.” “But in such a brutal way?” “Think about my father and then answer that question.” “Your right he would have tried to kill you that day.” “No he did try to kill me and if you had not been so fast he would have succeeded. So for people like that who see the world through their own vision anything is possible. They don’t see any enemy as human. In their world there are just obstacles and friends.” “What do we have in the human race?” “Both good and evil and that will always be the case. Once the dark side has hold of a human there is no way back for them.” After lunch they spent a short time with Nathan and Ned headed back to meet with John. He was sitting and reading the book once more. This was one he wanted to understand and be ready for more like this. “I see your deep in study.” John had come in without his hearing. “Sorry I was just reading this book of attacks to happen against governments and got lost.” “I understand your mood then. That was a problem I have faced with the old Earth for many years now. They just don’t know how to get along.” “Now to get to a little business. Would you allow us to have June to run our finance department? She has said she would accept if you allow her to do so.” “She is yours and a good choice for that job. I will let Edgar know he has lost her, but he really expected it I am sure. Now for my part how is your fleet coming along?” “We have added thirteen ships of our own to it and it is now growing at three ships a month. With all the planets we have I need a lot more ships than most universes would. I have six smaller ships protecting this planet and nineteen out looking for access points to our universe. The larger ships are patrolling sectors of space with equal numbers of settled planets.” “The reason I came is we have twenty left over from the old fleet. There is no way we can use them and if you would like we will sell them to you cheaply.”

“Name your price for them.” “I would like you to allow some of our people to come and work here learning how you do things. It is different from our ways and would open up some new learning. Your way of dealing with so many planets that are millions of years old, will be good training for my people.” “No problem with that at all. But what do you want for the ships?” “Just the free education.” “I would do that anyway and the ships do have value.” “Look we both have all the gold, silver, platinum and gemstones we could ever use. So money has little meaning for either of us. But learning has great value to both of our civilizations. Your dealing with a complete change in the money system, planets that have groups wanting power once more and governments just getting started. That is something we will see in other universes and need knowledge to help them.” The image of Faith came into view. “I transfer data to Hope each week to help with that John.” “That may be true, but now days most of our people are being born normally. They must be taught how things like this works. What did Ned name you?” “Faith was his decision.” John smiled at this name. “That is also my wife’s name.” “Ned said he had he had faith I would help him survive this job. So that is where the name came from.” “That is why I named my wife Faith. She was my security blanket and place to shelter when storms raged.” “I thought I was the only one who needed such things.” Ned was pleased to hear others had those problems. “I assure you the job you have is one most could never do. It took me a very long time to accept that fact. Anyone who has that job is always worried about making a bad move and others paying the price. You have doubts, worries, times of despair and feelings of inadequacy. At least you do if your any good at this job. Here you are carrying the burden of a couple thousand planets, your own planet and the human race. So your load is far more that mine was or is.” “I have felt those feelings and still am not sure I am the man for the job.”

“Understand I have felt the same way many times. No human is always sure they are making the right moves. But I plan for many changes to happen. That requires me to have plans B, C, D, E and so on. Decisions are base on what you know now. As that changes you must adapt to those movements. That made me see my job was planning and allowing others to handle the day to day business.” It seemed he had slowly gone into this mode himself. “I have pretty much turned over the day to day decisions. Right now I have four planets with once powerful people wanting that power back. We don’t have the evidence to take them to court, so we have to protect politicians, their families and wait for a movement. The players are well known to us and now being watched.” “That will be the problem most of the time. People like that try their best to leave no trail. But the arrogance will led them to self destruct.” “Well I had Faith file tax claims against them and freeze bank accounts. That may slow them some, but for sure will not stop them. I have troops protecting the politicians, their families and the government buildings. The armies on the planets know what is coming and are waiting to move.” “Then until they do you have nothing to do but wait. That is always the hard part.” “The hard part is I have twenty-three hundred egos out there that must be dealt with. Each feeling they are smarter than I am. It is like herding a school of fish. Without nets on three sides they will not move one direction.” “I have much the same problem with the one hundred and eighty planet NOVA system. But your problem is a good fifteen times that. It is due to that I want my people to come here and work with this. Then when they come home our problems will seem small compared to what they have been dealing with.” “James was a great help to us and our security group has gotten very good.” “He learned a lot himself while he was here. One comment he made to me was, he was glad he did not have your problems.” “Giving me a planet computer the size and capacity of Faith has been a big help.” “You needed that to have any chance of success. What your going to find is those planets understand power. The control of space, import and export and the money system is the key to real control. You have space under your power now. The import and export is coming along. The money system is getting closer. Once you have them all your in control.”

“Phoenix owns banks on every planet where the money system has changed. That has helped us do more to improve peoples lives than anything.” “I assume your financing small businesses?” “Yes and we become partners with them. That way we get to teach them how to manage that business. Slowly we sell them our stock and in the end keep ten percent. Now the bank is always there to help with growth and expansion.” “Not a bad way to help build an economy. But how many fail?” “None if we see a partner cannot run the business we buy them out. Then find a new partner to take it over and run it. That does not happen often at all. With no investment if a person has a good reputation we will finance the business. They start with ten percent of the stock. They get a salary and bonuses for making goals. The bonus money can be used to buy stock back. That is how they gain control of the business.” “How do you determine their reputations?” “Our bank staff goes out and talks with people who know them. We look to see if they have any records with police and check bars to see if they drink too much. Those who belong to the church are the easy ones to check out.” “Then you will finance people who do not belong to the church?” “Just because they don’t belong does not mean they are bad people. We are here for the entire human race.” John smiled at this comment. “That is what I would have expected from you Ned. For many years our planets had no church. But the Creator said we were the perfect set of planets as we live the laws. A church is for those who need it. But as long as you live the laws your as religious as those who go to church.” “I can see that and accept it. On my planet the church was in a cave and few got to go there. It was my good fortune that I was allowed to be schooled there. That put me way ahead of most humans. They taught me math, science and history as well as the laws of the Creator. My three teachers are here now working for the people.” “I had been told that and it seemed like a good idea. I was impressed with Sam’s work here.” “He did a very nice job and the city is beautiful. We have a convention center and I would like one day to hold a meeting of all the universes. There is a hotel there so all would be comfortable.”

“When Simon finishes his job I think that would be a good idea. That universe does not have the number of planets you do here. So he will be done in another six months time. They will also need some of your help as they came from these worlds. He has not found a leader yet for that universe. But I am sure he will at some point.” “He will need to be very careful in choosing that person. Many who were removed here were radical believers and they are as bad as the dark side itself. They have no tolerance of anyone who is not like them.” “I will pass that along to him. It is always amazing to me how many different human types we have. Now when can you supply crews for the twenty ships?” “We have enough basic crews now to handle them. It would take a few weeks to be fully staffed, but that is not needed to bring them here.” “Send the captains to my office and I will get them signed off on the transfers. Their crews can go from the church directly to the ship. We will be sending twenty people back with each ship for training here. So your going to need to supply housing and food for four hundred people.” “They can stay for a start at the convention center hotel. I will see they get bankcards for their expenses. If they wish they can tour the planet on their off days.” “How big will Phoenix get?” “We have five planets to settle and are looking at thirty million per planet to start. I have spread the population over all usable landmasses. That leaves us land to develop close by for family members that want it.” “Of the people coming twenty will need to work with Sam on his projects. We are getting ready to start developing some new planets for us.” John reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box. “This is from Simon Sr. It is a ring for your new son and he said not to worry about size. It will fit to his finger and grow as he does. This will protect him from any danger or harm.” Ned looked at the very small ring and was happy about this. “I will be sure to thank him. On my old planet I heard of these rings, but had never seen one. Nathan has made me understand family more that any could know. For me mother was my friend and protector. My father and I had almost no relationship. Nathan will grow up with two parents who love him. Of that I can assure you. I missed it as a child, but that will not happen to my son.” John reached into his other pocket and handed Ned another box. “This is for Cindy and is a ring I purchased from Gorm. It is a ring he said his great grandmother once wore. She was a holy woman. This makes the three of you the leaders here of your faith.”

Ned did not know what to say. “I thank you very much John. This means a lot to me as well. Cindy has become my shelter in the storms and her being in the hospital for a couple days showed me just how bad I needed her. She is the only person I can be unsure with and not cause problems.” “You will find I have been there also Ned. Faith is my hiding place when life is not going my way. In yours and my position that is critical to our mental health. Our jobs demand a lot of us and often we are not sure of where we are going. I am lucky Hope helps me through some of it and Faith is where I can be human. Now we both have work to do. So send me your crews and I’ll send you my people.” He shook hands and headed back to his world. Faith appeared and looked ashamed. “I learned a lot today Ned. That humans do have doubts regardless of the power they hold. I did not know Hope worked with John when he had doubts. But now that I do I will do my best to help you. I guess she was protecting him by not passing that information to me.” “How did the tax claims go?” “I have them and the freeze on the accounts. The banks have advised each family of these events. In some it has caused a panic. But others had cash ready just in case.” “Keep David’s people up to date on where things stand. My gut is telling me that their hands now may have been forced. They will move quickly now.” “He knows and said the same thing. He has one ship over each planet now ready to land troops.” “Let me know if I need to get into this. I am going home and spend some time with Cindy and our son.” He left his office and was home in no time. They sat and he gave Cindy the ring John had given her. This brought tears to her eyes. “I never expected something like this.” She placed it on her finger and just sat and looked at it. They walked in the bedroom and Ned placed the ring on Nathan’s finger and it shrank to fit him, as it should. There was no way to remove it and yet is was not too tight. He told Cindy of the story about the baby who wore one that no creature could come close to. The parents had been forced out of the city and raised him on a farm. But no one could harm him or his family as long as he lived. That night Ned sat and held Nathan and rocked for over an hour. It was such a peaceful feeling for him. With his son asleep he put him in bed and headed out to enjoy some time with Cindy. They sat on the patio and watched the stars. The maid came out and told Ned he was needed. Both Cindy and Ned went to his study.

Faith was sitting there and smiling. “The first two attacks happened and both failed. They had not planned for any opposition at all. So the army has now rounded up the entire group of families and they are being held for treason. Not one person was hurt and no building was damaged.” “What about those who took pay for doing this?” “Our troops have them at police stations with a few officers. The chiefs were called in and made their own arrests of their people involved. The political leaders have sent their thanks.” “Be sure they get all we have in documentation. Also search each home for any additional documents.” “David has troops doing that now with military personnel.” “What is the general feeling on those planets?” “The government is happy they signed the agreements for protection. They are more than happy we stepped in and I have heard nothing negative at all.” “Be sure news agencies on all planets get the full story. That may go further to stop these foolish attempts that anything.” “I have done that with the feeds of the arrests. But my next concern is someone trying to subvert the military.” “That will be much harder as we supply and train them. None have deadly weapons and we log every movement. We know any troop carrier leaving a base. We built them and track them. All bases are well out of any city, so they would have to move the troops in. If they used transport plates we would also know.” This was all true and she was trying to see how it could happen. “I will follow the troop movements closely for a time. You can bet someone will try it.” “Be sure their military and police get the credit. I want our involvement as far back from this as possible.” “I don’t understand why?” “If we stay back then others are not going to be aware of us. You can be sure on every planet there are one or more groups who would like to take power. As long as they are watching the military and police, we have the chance to see what they are doing. If they see our hand in this they will move deeper underground. So make sure the politicians know where the credit needs to go.”

Cindy had been following this. “Faith we do not need them moving to some cave to have their meetings and run operations from there.” “I get the point and will see our tracks are covered.” The two headed to bed and a good nights sleep. Half the problem was now over for the moment. That next day Ned sent a note to David’s people thanking them for a job well done. They were made aware of Ned’s direction to Faith, not to allow the hand of Phoenix to show in any news reports. As a group they were pleased that things would not be made harder than they were now. June was made aware of John’s permission for her to take the job. But she was going to have twenty trainees to handle for him. That brought a smile to her face. He was getting twenty trainees for one manager. Not a bad trade. But she knew this universe was much more complex than his. It was why she wanted to stay here. Beside the fact she had found a nice young ships captain she had an interest in. The two other attacks were now held back by the failures. Each group trying to figure out what had happened. The amount of research open the door to many more involved. Those files grew now to fit the new players in to them. Ned’s was updated often and it grew as well. Rather than sit and read the whole thing he had Faith just give him the new data. Slowly he begin to see a pattern that was common. This he shared with Faith and she also could see it. It caused her to start running this planet by planet. That turned up at least one person on every planet and groups on many of them. The data was fed to David and his people started files on each person. David came into Ned’s office. “Your not going to believe how much seeing that pattern helped with this investigation. From the one person Faith identified on a planet it has grown to many on each planet. We just followed the money. That was James’s favorite term. Always follow the money.” Ned was happy his insight had helped. “Hey it was just a hunch on my part.” “I am not buying that Ned. You have always had the ability to get blinding flashes of insight. It was the one reason we at the religious school took the risk of admitting you. Your father’s reputation was not a very good reference. But your ability to simplify something that was complex had been seen. Matter of fact it had blown Sam, Peter and I away. It was just like what you saw this time that even Faith had missed. She before this had wondered what had made you as special to us as you were.” “Well now she knows and has seen it.”

This embarrassed Ned. “Hey I just did what the Creator has given me the ability to do.” Faith showed her self. “That was beyond anything the Creator could give you. I have not even seen John make that kind of leap. Your mind did something a computer could not do.” “I am quite sure John has also made these kind of jumps of logic. You get a few pieces of the picture and all of a sudden you can see the whole thing. I am sure for a computer it is odd, but it does fit human methods.” “No matter I am completely impressed.” “I have seen it before and it still impresses me Ned. This insight will save us months of work. We now have groups identified on every planet to follow. With many we can cause division by letting issues come out. Some we can get police or military watching them. None are near as close as the four were, but now were finally ahead of them.” That pleased Ned and he knew David was feeling better. “You guys should not have to do all the work if Faith can do it.” “That is the point Ned I could not do it until you gave me the key. I feel stupid now for not seeing it.” “When you talk with Hope, ask her how many times John had done that to her. I am sure you will be shocked. Some humans can get a few pieces of a puzzle and see the entire picture. It is a shock to us as well as others.” “Well I am impressed.” “Now David what does this do for us?” “We are finding that there is communications between groups on different planets. This will allow us to build much stronger cases for the courts. By finding our how they communicate we can monitor those and add, change or provide our own information.” “Just so you know I have twenty more of the Alpha ships being delivered to us. That gives us even more power in space. Of that twenty you get five as a rapid reaction force. They are yours to position where you see hot spots. Each will have one thousand troops on it for your needs. I know there are ships hidden on planets and they need destroyed. That is your job to find them and get rid of them.” “Just do it and not advise the governments?” “Our agreement says there are to be no ships left on a planet or in space. So any ships sitting on a planet is in direct violation of the agreement. If anyone says anything tell them to read the agreement they signed. If they still have a problem take the transport

plates off the planet and remove the planet computer. I am sure they will quickly see the error of their ways.” “If they capitulate do we put the stuff back?” “No way they will pay a price for a time. When they have a new government and one who also must sign a new tougher agreement, then we will consider it.” “That is kind of hard isn’t it?” “Look life is hard and they need to see just how good they had it before. I will not have a bunch of politicians trying me when they get bored. There is a price for trying my patience. If they don’t want to pay it then don’t push.” David saw a different man sitting here. “You have changed as this job settled in for you.” “Not really David I like peace, but am ready for anything. If I give an inch we all lose and that is not going to happen.” “That suits me just fine. I will be sure the word gets out in a very nice way. Here I can use some of my church contacts to get the word out, of your limited patience with games. That agreements are to be read as written and pushing you will end in disaster.” “Handle it anyway you see fit. But I meant just what I said. As far as I am concerned a planet can go back to horse and buggy. That is if they cannot handle the modern world.” “Well boss I have a lot to do. So I’ll get the word out.” He got up and left the office. “I detect a different tone in you now.” “Yes, the little talk we had did change a few things. Then my conversation with John helped me see that doubts were not just my problem. But those I will share with Cindy and discuss them at home.” “Look Ned I told you I was wrong and I apologized for that.” “When I was in the tub I came to understand it was you that needed the firm direction. So from now on that will be the case. For me trust in others comes slowly and once damaged takes time to rebuild. That is just the way I am built and you will have to live with it.” Faith disappeared very quickly. The room was silent and Ned drank from his cup of tea. Much was changing and it concerned him that so much opposition was on other worlds. He looked over the current singings for the money system and saw that several wealthy planets had backed down. That was as expected and he knew there would be issues

between them and Phoenix at some point. Those who had much always wanted more. That was human as well he guessed? The conversation with John had helped him see a lot. It was not always the smartest that would win. But the best prepared could assure their success. Now he needed to develop that matrix to be better prepared and have answers before there were questions. John’s comment on leaving the day to day running of things to others opened his eyes a lot. He had spent far too much time involved in that. He left his office and walked the city. It was nice to see people out enjoying the day and the park was full of young people. At the convention center he went to the back patio and looked out over the lake. There was a slight chop to the water as wind blew across it. There was a small police boat tied to the dock and he walked down and went on it. “Officer take me for a tour of the lake please.” “Gladly sir and it is a beautiful day to do that.” She started the boat out from the center and the water movement could be felt more now. The shores were mostly covered with trees and just the small resorts were showing. They had large lodges and many smaller cabins for families. Each had a dock with boats for people there to use. Buildings were either of stone or of log construction. The effect it had was one of blending into the setting. Much of the trip was spent in thinking and considering methods for planning. The peace of the water was a good place to do that. After two hours of looking at how the lake was developed he was heading back to the docks. “Thank you for the tour. It has helped me see some things much more clearly.” “It was really my pleasure Ned and I would be happy to take you out anytime.” The officer was excited she had been Ned’s tour guide and looked forward to his returning. Ned walked the two large boats for dinning and was impressed with their designs. These would provide a pleasant experience for people. After going through the convention center and looking into the hotel. He then made arrangements for four hundred people to be housed here. The request for food service to be supplied was taken care of quickly. The rooms he was shown were really suites and very nice at that. With pools, dining rooms, spa, indoor courts for tennis, handball and the like’s people would have recreation. Now he had covered his commitment to John. The people from Alpha could stay here for the entire time of their training. It would be comfortable and close to apartment living. Just much better food and more things to do.

When he got back to his office there were twenty captains waiting for him. “You each are to go to Alpha with a basic crew and bring back a starship. You will have a few Alpha people coming back with you to train here. Be sure they are comfortable and their needs are met. You will need to go to John’s office and sign off for the transfer of your ship. Send your crews to ready it for travel. They have been decommissioned from the Alpha fleet.” There was not one question that came. “I don’t see questions. So the ship you pick up is yours to command. Five of you will be assigned to David’s security department as a rapid reaction force for planet problems. The rest will be given sectors to patrol as our normal ships do. This will reduce the size of sectors now having to be covered. Now any questions?” “Yes sir, how large a crew will we be allowed once we return?” “Ships will be manned at normal levels. The security force ships will also carry one thousand troops as well as crews. Of that force half will be human troops.” “Do we get to volunteer for that job?” “Make your desires known to David and he will choose the captains he wishes. Every planet in our universe is a possible hot spot at some point in time. Several could bubble over at the same time. It will be the job of the response force to handle these. If needed sector ships will be called in to assist.” With no more questions they headed to the church and its transport plate. They each had their basic crews waiting for them. As each landed on Alpha the captains headed to John’s office. Crews were sent by Hope to the right ships. John handled the paperwork quickly and he wished each captain success. They got to their ships and found twenty Alpha citizens waiting for them. Due to how few people were on the ship they all took cabins for the voyage. Just one dinning room was to be opened and it would serve food around the clock. But with just fifty people on the ship it would not be very busy. It took a full day to check all systems and bring power up to standards. These had all been science and research ships before. They were armed and had every fighting system now in use. But there were many labs and secure containment areas. The food production systems were restarted and storage areas checked to be sure they had been emptied. All drives had been given an overhaul before the released to the new captains. After two days the ships headed out in formation to return to Phoenix. The three week trip would allow for getting used to these ships. Every ship had its own small quirks and captains needed to know them. This was a shakedown run for each new captain.

All ship computers had been updated with current knowledge. So much new data was being brought back for Faith’s use. With the intermittent communications between universes this was a better way to transfer data. On Phoenix Ned was just working his way thought another report. “All ships are now on their way from Alpha. “ Faith reported to him. “Good I had expected them to be another day or two. Do they have the Alpha people with them?” “Yes they have twenty on each ship. But I am not sure what we are going to do with forty science instructors?” “They will work with our ships changing the other four of our planets. John is getting ready to work on some new planets for Alpha. They will need quality managers for their own projects and this gives them hands on learning.” “You have eighty security people, forty construction managers, twenty finance people and twenty general administrators.” “Make sure each manager knows what they have coming. They all have rooms at the convention center hotel. Dinning rooms will be opened for them and one of the lake boats will operate at night. Make sure their needs are met.” “I will see to it.” Ned went back to his reading until he had the idea he was looking for. With a sheet of clean paper he set up a decision ladder. Each step had several side branches for other possible moves. So you ended up with a pyramid structure. The decisions made would push the path that the next decision took. Each primary decision would have many secondary options. The flow from one decision to the next would decide the response taken. With care he built the model and fleshed out its steps. Then fed the data to Faith to build a chart for each major problem he was facing. Now he inserted possible decision that could be made by others. Below them were the possible responses he could make. It was a cause and effect chart and showed him each step that had happened. As he saw the direction things were headed he could refine responses. Now he had at least twenty moves laid out.

Chapter 10 Complications The trial for those accused of treason had started. It was being shown for all to see. The defense lawyer was trying his best to cause confusion. This played poorly for most watching as they had seen the real story. The freeze on the money his client had was hurting the defense. No one could be purchased with a promise.

Over the objection of the prosecution the judge that signed the order was brought into court. The lawyer was sure there had been no proof of the tax charges. Many governments used this tactic to grab funds from others that were on the edge of trouble. He for sure wanted paid more than the court allowed him. Once seated and sworn in the old judge waited for what he knew was coming. “Who filed the complaint against my client for the tax case?” “It was just a clerk who brought the request and showed me their case.” “I understand the prosecutor did not see this at all?” “No that was not required for me to agree and sign the documents.” “How could you be sure the documents were real?” “For me a certified copy of any document is real enough.” Here the lawyer knew he had the judge. “Certified by who?” “They were certified by the bank and the planet computer. Those two sources for my way of thinking are as good as you get.” This was not what he had wanted to hear. “How did you know they were the ones certifying them?” “I asked the computer to verify that.” “Don’t you think it was odd that happened just before my client was arrested?” “Not at all as I made sure his bank notified him of the action. I am sure if anything it pushed him to act as he seems to have done.” “Are you judging my client in this case that has not yet started?” “Not at all counselor I said seems to have done. That is just an appearance of an action and not proof. You should know that.” The old judge was a very sharp man. “Did you keep documents on that tax case?” “I sent them to the prosecutors office and they have them with my initials on them.” There was just no way to get around this, it had been done legally. “Are they going to bring charges?”

“I would have no idea about that. It is their decision to make as they have the documents.” “Was the proof so good that you would consider that a charge would be filed?” “I granted the freeze order and that was due to the evidence I saw. Of course I would not hear the case, but if I did they would be convicted on just the data I saw.” That stopped the lawyer in his tracks. His client had lied to him and he now knew it. It was time to sit down and consider how to get out from under this case. The lawyer approached the judge and had a long discussion with him. Several pieces of paper had been shown to the judge and finally he looked at the defendants. “Your lawyer has asked to withdraw from your case. He has shown me statements you made and signed that are known not to be true. The prosecutor has let me look at the file in the tax case and checkout the documents. Not one signed statement was correct and factual. So I am granting him relief and you will be assigned a court appointed lawyer.” The people at the defense table were all taken back to their cells. The prosecutor offered lesser defendants the chance to plead guilty with a lower prison term for testimony against the prime leaders. Most decided without money they had no chance of winning. Their leaders were now not able to provide top legal help and that meant long terms in jail. So they lined up and took what was offered. But this was going to delay the trial and that was not what Phoenix had wanted. The story needed to be gotten out so other groups could see their fate if they tried and failed. Finally one lawyer stepped forward and took the case. He would only defend those who had not made any deal with the prosecutor. He said a citizen was paying the fees to allow the trial to go forward. He sat with his clients and explained just what they could expect. That there would be no way to win this in the first court. They needed to expect to be convicted and then appeal it. He listened to their lies and laughed at them. “Look I have seen all the evidence they have against you. You are not going to be able to lie out of it or hide it. Thirty of the people you were paying have signed guilty pleas and are ready to testify against you. They have signed statements explaining what they were being paid to do and agreed to testify to that in court. The shortest sentence is ten years in prison, so they are not short sentences. Those who you paid to kill political leaders or families are getting twenty-five years rather than life. So you had better hope that some mistakes are made in the trial or you will never see daylight again.” “Then why are you taking this?” “My fees have been paid by a citizen to do my best to keep the time you get low. Your land, money and other assets are gone, as the planet will be awarded them. The gold you buried has been found and taken by the government. Your cave where you hid weapons is

now being searched for any assets. Walls in your homes have been taken out and money hid there removed. Nothing has been missed at all.” “Then we really have nothing to come out to.” “No you don’t and that is your own fault. Your children are now wards of the planet. They will be raised as any child here. What I can’t understand is why you would be so stupid?” “What do you mean by stupid?” “You had the money to buy news media businesses and to direct much of what the people believed. Over time you could have gotten people elected that would see things your way. But you had to pay your taxes and keep you selves clean. The only revolt that will ever work now days is one orchestrated by news stories. Where the people are misdirected and follow, as they will tend to do. No armed revolt will ever work here or on any planets now.” “To be honest we looked at that and saw it would take many years to reach a goal we could get to in one night.” “Did you get there?” “No it all fell apart before it started.” “Then your actions were stupid. My friend who is paying for your defense is willing to take the long route. Slowly we are buying papers and news programs. But our big problem is the computer news feeds from Phoenix. Until we can stop them our outlets cannot control the thought processes of the people.” “Then you will never reach your goal. I feel that Phoenix was the hand behind every bad thing that happened to us. There is no way to prove it, but not one single attack worked. No one on this planet could have stopped them all.” “I have heard that thought before. Did you know that every government signed a defense treaty with Phoenix before becoming a free planet? That they have the right to step in and protect the government.” “One day I will leave this planet and get my revenge.” “No you will never leave this planet. That spaceship you had hidden was destroyed like over one hundred others on many planets. When planets objected they were told to read their agreements. No ships could be in space or stored on the ground by any planet.” The men were now beaten. “Well why not just plead guilty then?”

“Because the government will not allow it. If you plead guilty they will still call every witness, read every document and present all the evidence. It will be done in the penalty stage. In doing that you get no chance to defend anything. Nothing can be challenged.” “So the only hope is an error in the trial?” “That is it and to get one will be very hard with the judge you now have. You have agreed to using this judge so we cannot change that either.” “What will happen to our wives and other family?” “The ones who were involved will stand trail, the ones who were not had better be able to find jobs.” “But every member of our families were involved one way or another. The children were runners to delivery messages.” “They cannot be charged due to their ages. But your wives had better expect to see a courtroom.” They talked for another hour and all agreed the sooner the better for a trial. The hope was once they were in jail the interest in convicting the wives would just die off. But had they know that Phoenix had paid for their lawyer they would have died. The conversation had been transmitted back to the security people. They now knew the full extent of the group’s heart. This gave them good data for how to look at other groups. Knowing that the entire family was used made for a harder look at the other planets oppositions. But the way the groups saw things so short term was interesting. People from Alpha were now working with the Phoenix security department and could not believe how this had happened. But when someone suggested they remember Bruce, it did fit their universe as well. Now with the hotel busy at the convention center it seemed like a more normal city. The park fields, courts and recreation areas were much used. Boats could be seen out on the lake in the evenings and on weekends. Dinner boats had at least two hundred at dinner each night. It did not crowd them, but at least they looked busy. Each boat was built for three times that number of people. Ned had taken the steps with sending the lawyer in and he was the one buying newspapers and news feeds on the most populated planets. This was done through the banks and finding partners. Then they would finance them and become one day equal partners. The bank would always hold fifty percent of these outlets. Molding public opinion was critical to keeping the peace.

Cindy was now back to work and working in the next office to Ned. He was giving her projects he wanted to see handled with care. She tracked the Alpha people now working here and made sure they were being taken care of. Following Sam’s projects and the building of spaceships was another key project. She was dealing with planet leaders over issues and problems they had. It kept the distractions off of Ned’s desk. Ned was spending more time in long term planning. The use of the current fleet was still a problem as it had just too much area to cover even with the over one hundred ships he had. That gave him a ship per twenty-three planets. He wanted that down to one per five planets. The loss of so many small ships on planets that had been hidden, caused many planets to start looking to find them before he did. They were still destroyed, but the planet got the metal for other uses. This had caused over three hundred ships to be found and scrapped. Of course there were more to find and they were being looked for now. He had decided one day to hold a meeting of all leaders of this universe at the convention center. The pictures of Phoenix which many had seen just did not do justice to the planet or city. But a meeting and displays of goods made here would open many markets for the planet. There was so much in high tech items being made now that other planets would love to have. It would be a nice way to improve the connections with others. To handle the amount of people in hotel rooms he was having another large hotel built at the convention center. It was just for large meetings of the universe here. The idea was to keep it ready for needs, but not to use it unless the original hotel was full. Other than if they had a very large meeting with at least twenty-three hundred attending it would not be needed. But once the planets being worked on were populated then it would be used often. That made it worth doing. Simon Sr came into his office and sat down. “Well Ned we finally meet. My son has told me a lot about you and I have been impressed with what John and Jack have told me. So I decided to drop by and have a little talk with you.” “Your always welcome Simon. But I think I owe you far more than I could ever repay.” “Not really my boy, what your doing is something most of us would not enjoy. But being the old slippery politician I am it was time to see this.” Ned chuckled at this comment. “I have heard your were very good at managing the politicians. Here I am just learning the game. But I use less sweet words and more of a hammer.” This the older man liked. “At your age you have no other choice. I had years to learn how to handle those people. Matter of fact I brought you a copy of a book I once wrote about doing that.” He handed over the book he had been carrying.

“John told me you had written one and he offered to get me a copy.” “He called me and asked so I just brought it.” “Have you had lunch yet?” “No and I am hungry.” Ned got Cindy and they took Simon to the hotel dinning room looking out over the lake. “This is my favorite place for Ned and I to come eat.” “I can see why you like it. This is a beautiful setting and the city is so different from Alpha’s or Omega’s. Now for my real motives, I would love to get a copy of your oldest religious book from this universe. I collect them and compare them. So far I have found little that is different between my universe and Alpha’s. But your worlds are even older than ours.” “You will find I have collected about twenty of these books. Some are the same and I would be happy to give you my duplicates. It will give you five texts that date back one and one half million years. They were the oldest ones I could find and buy. But I am still looking for one said to be two million years old.” “If you ever find it could I have a scanned copy?” “Of course I will send one to you and John.” “I stopped and read some from the one in your church and it is very close to the one we use.” “That is called the standard text here. It is a compilation of many books. But there is just one copy of the two million year old book. I have made an offer of fifty million credits for it.” “If it is out there that should turn it up.” “I hope it does and that it is good shape. But a book that old you just never know?” “Do you know what language it is in?” “Yes an ancient language from this universe. One not spoken today. But I was told by one man who saw it that anyone can read it if you have a ring.” “Then someone has seen it?” “Yes, Sam who runs construction for me here. He was once a teacher at the religious school I went to. In describing it to me he said it was strange as it seem to speak to you.”

“I have heard of that book and if you have any problem financing getting it let me know. We as a group could raise a billion credits for it.” “Who is the group?” “You have a fifty million offer and between John, Gorm and I we could cover the rest.” “That would be a nice piece to have in a church.” “No it is something most would never see at all. But for those of us who are leaders of the church it would mean much. The Creator does not know where the book is now. But he said the last time it was opened and read it was in this universe.” “So it could have gone to the universe where Simon is now.” “He does not think so as the church is very weak and small there. He and I feel the book is still here and hidden someplace. I would guess that your friend Sam might have been the last to read from it.” “He and I have talked often of the book. I know an old woman brought it to the church in the cave. She was asking if it had value. Sam said her father had had it and it had come down through his family.” “Did he know where she came from?” “No one did and she was never seen again.” “Have you taken any other steps to try to find it?” “Yes, I have two robots looking for any clues. They have a drawing as best Sam could remember of the woman and are checking old records for church leaders. But that I see as a very long shot.” “Well your doing the best you can. If you need the money let either me or John know. As I said there is enough to provide a billion credits.” “Simon with the fifty million I have offered I have more offers for junk books than you can believe. It has brought some nice books I paid a reasonable price for. But if I offered the kind of money your talking about I would be swamped with junk.” “I can see that. But you will keep after it right?” “Until the day I die.” “How much are you out with what you did buy?”

“That had just been a few hundred thousand credits. A couple of them were given to me as well. The one you were reading in the church is one of the 1.5 million year old books. It is the oldest standard text book I have seen.” “I thought it was almost new.” “It was never used for anything but to copy from. When it was not being used it was stored in an air tight box.” “Then it was not used often.” “No just for one copy to work from every few hundred years.” They went back to Ned’s office and he showed Simon the books he had purchased. He pulled out five that were duplicates of ones he had and handed them to him. “The one on top is a 1.5 million year old copy of the book in the church. It is a little more worn, but still in very good shape. The radicals used the next book about a million years ago. Then the other three are more recent in that none is under five hundred thousand years old. There are some very minor differences between them all, but nothing major.” “These had to cost you a lot Ned. Let me at least cover your costs for them.” “Simon I cut my teeth reading these books. My time in religious school made me want to see every one of these written. For me the money is of no concern at all. I have way more than any man should have. But having someone who is as devoted to learning about the differences in the religion is worth a lot to me. So my friend just be willing to provide me with your thoughts and ideas.” This was to be a long-term bond between these two men. “You will have them and I would like to come from time to time and talk.” “My door here or at home is always open to you.” “When your traveling once more the two of you need to come and spend a weekend with Ruth and I.” “We will do that and it will give me a chance to see your collection.” Simon headed back to the plate and Omega. Ned stood at the windows wondering if he would ever find the book he was looking for? The rest of the day went slowly. He never could get far from the thoughts of the book. The made him start a decision tree on it. He had before run his search just bouncing spot to spot. Now was time to start an organized effort.

Ned sat and recalled every thing he had ever been told about the book. Then every detail he had picked up about the woman. As he listed this he saw he had more than before. Now he had added Peter and David’s insights. David said he had noticed she wore an old holy woman’s ring. David noticed she wore the clothing of a religious order. There had been many orders of women who had lost their husbands. They had banded together to pray for mankind. There were many of these old buildings on his old planet. These had died out with the freeing of the planet. Most had been walled compounds and most women never left them. People would stop by and leave food for them. Because they bothered no one they were left alone by the officials. Some still existed today that he was sure of. “Faith I need you to redirect my robot search team. The women I have been looking for was a holy woman. She also most likely came from a compound of women who prayed for the planets. I am sure some still exist and they need to check each one out. If the compound is closed they need to check the building for any hiding place for the book.” “They will move that way now. While looking for the woman they have seen several of those compounds. One was just six miles from the old cave.” “Tell them to start there and work out from that point. But they need to find out if there are any well out in the country.” “One thing they have found is those buildings are a tax free area. The people declared them that way as they felt they helped bring salvation to the planet.” “Tell them to get a copy of the list and check each one out.” “They are both very pleased. It is the first logical steps they have had. It has been very hard for them not knowing of a direction to look.” “It might help if they knew the woman has a ring with wings carved into the stone.” “Do you remember the stones color?” Here he had to think. “Yes, it was red like a ruby.” “You have two very excited searchers now.” Chapter 11 The Money June had finished the money system changes now. There were just eight hold out planets from having every planet on the credit system.

She walked into Ned’s office and sat down. “I have just eight planets refusing to join the credit system. How do you want to handle it?” He called for David and he was quickly there. “If you remember David I told you we were going to have a few planets that refused to change money systems. With a little over twenty-three hundred planets June has managed to get that down to just eight planets. So we will step in and remove the transport plates and the planet computers. Be sure to pick up any leased equipment we have there. We will start and move planet to planet doing this. Use your rapid reaction forces to get this done. Make sure each planets knows what is coming June.” “I need to know who is the one talking the hardest stand?” David knew just where to start. “Here is the list and they are in order top to bottom of where I rated them. If you will note they are all very wealthy planets. But now their exports and imports have been cut off for over a month with no results. They feel strong enough to wait us out.” “I see the same planets where we have found many small spaceships as well. So we will do a metal scan to be sure we have gotten them all. Here I have found some ships sitting in junkyards so they could not be picked up. Expect to have some try to smuggle between planets. So I would think your going to find they have a lot of those small ships hidden someplace.” “Pull in eight of our small ships and assign one to each planet. Keep your reaction force handy to help. We are going to war for a time here and will take out any ship leaving the planet surface. Remove any alive and place them in your ships jail. Send the ships down into the ocean once it is empty.” “Sounds good to me and we will try not to kill any humans. But I cannot be sure that will not happen.” “Just announce to each planet if any ships come off the planet it is a declaration of war. We will respond with deadly force if that happens. Then send the feeds to every planet for all to see.” June had listened to this and was concerned. “I don’t like the idea people could be killed.” “I don’t like it either, but if they know what will happen then send ships up? We cannot allow them to get by with anything others cannot do also. So they will make that decision and not us.” David looked over at June. “They signed agreements saying they would not allow any ships to use their planet for a base. That the government would not attempt to place ships

in space. It also noted that doing these things was considered an act of war and would be responded to.” “They are breaking an agreement they know well?” “Oh yes they do know it well. We keep telling them to read it and stay within the terms of it. I have discussed the fact it is to be read just as written and needs no interpretation at all. Yet we get communications saying something was not clear. What they mean is they don’t want to live up to their own agreement.” “This is not something new then?” “If you asked Cindy she would tell you she reads different parts to leaders every day. Then she asks just what is not clear? Then they say I did not see it that way. She then advises them that is how it was written and it could not be seen any other way.” “I would hate to have to do that all day.” “This will help end that. Everyone must see we mean exactly what we said. If big powerful planets cannot win then lesser ones will not try. Most would be smart enough to not push their luck. But when you have money you feel better than others. Here money buys you nothing but a stable credit.” David had listened to this and knew the next step. “Do I follow the next step in the plan?” “Yes, arrest every elected planet leader and bring them to the ship for trial. That is also to be broadcast to every planet. They will spend their lives on a ship in its jail. Peter is to be the judge for those trials.” “Why arrest the leaders?” “They are the ones who signed the agreements. In those they agreed if they broke the agreement they would submit to trial under the laws given to them.” “Will you allow a new government to set things right?” “Yes one day, but with a much harsher agreement. Those planets for the next ten years are going to see just how bad life cane be.” June knew she never wanted to cross Ned. “I am sure many will regret the governments actions.” “The people on these eight planets have felt superior to all others. It is time to see how they handle the treatment they gave others.”

David left to set up the forces for this mission. He was sure that many small craft would come off the planets. But by killing the craft, arresting the people and disposing of the damaged craft in the ocean, it would seem they had made it. So more ships would come up to play. He really expected to see thousands of them. They he was sure would launch at night so only half of the planet needed coverage. But he would pull in three more large ships so fighter craft were available. The small ships could sit over the sunny areas of the planet, may be over a city? That way they could be seen. June headed to Cindy’s office and the two talked about the actions to be taken. Cindy agreed with Ned and showed June some of the dumb questions she had answered for these same planets. Finally June had seen enough. “They have to be completely out of their minds.” “No they have always been the leading planets. They think the rules don’t apply to them. Rules are for lesser planets and not theirs.” “I will never understand that way of seeing things.” “They see it no other way. Over many years they have built that into their schools education system. It has been taught to every child and believed. The planet has brainwashed its people and that will take years to change. It is hard to accept being just equal to others when you have always been told your better.” “How will the people react to these changes?” “Until they feel the pressure and see what they lost there will be no reaction. Once that is felt it is anyone’s guess. But I expect the government to fall and a new one to be elected. That will be hard with no transport plates and planet computer. Ned has said that it will not be opened back up for ten years. By then people will not feel superior. A ship will be assigned to keep any civil war from starting. But they have lost the communications system as that was run by the computer.” June wondered just how long the changes would really take. “I feel for the people who were not involved. They are going to pay for their leaders decisions.” “That is not really true. The planets will eat, have schools, provide medical care, but they will not have the trading they once did. Here you will see many smuggling ships try to beat the system. They were able to do that before and it worked. This time is won’t work and some will pay dearly for their foolishness.” With that said June headed back to her office to get her people ready for this shutdown. This would require some small modifications in the trading system. There were items produced by these planets that now would be in short supply. For others to be able to withstand this loss of materials and goods they had to be made up for.

The major losses would be steel, copper wire, glass containers and aluminum for cans and manufacturing. To help the complex would push production of basic steel and sell to those who needed it. Copper wire was a little harder, so the banks had to step in here to finance a producer. Phoenix would sell ore to them and they would smelt and manufacturer. Glass containers were less of a problem, as it just required expansion of existing plants. Producing aluminum was new to many planets and that required building many processing plants to meet the needs. Most planets had no idea what bauxite was. Due to this these refiners would be the last online to cover the loss. David had now put in place one smaller ship and one large starship. He had fighters out watching the dark sides of the planets. The warning had been given to each planet and the decision made to leave the transport plates and just protect them with force fields. Once the planet computer was pulled they would not work anyway. But to stop stealing of the plates for metal protection was needed. The large starship slowly lowered itself to the ground where the planet computer was housed. A troop of security personnel spread out and took position. Worker machines started to uncover the area and room for the computer. Once that was done it was gently moved into the bay of the ship. This was happening on each of the eight planets after no response from them. For some reason the leaders did not believe that a room a mile square could simply be picked up and taken away. But for phoenix it was not a problem. The bay of each ship was now full with these rooms. But the computer was safe and troops back onboard. The first night a few smaller ships were tested and none left the planets atmosphere. The large ships carefully watched this. Pilots were working eight hours on and sixteen off. That required three crews per fighter. To allow this crews from other ships had been brought in. They would service the ship and put it back out in no more than ten minutes. Every hour eighteen ships would come in to be service and have crew changes. That left one hundred and thirty-two out on patrol. The leaders were now loading ships for runs to bases they had built on other planets years ago. Nothing had happened when they tested the lower areas of their planet. After a twenty-four hour wait ships started taking off and heading to the unloading bases. Here communications was jammed and ships drives shot out. A few had breaches of the hauls and it did kill the crews. But that first night two hundred and eleven ships were taken out. Not one word had gotten back to the planet and this seemed like it was working. Over the next six weeks five thousand ships had been taken and destroyed. Not one cargo had gotten through. The worry started to build on the planets when no ships were returning with gold for sales. After the large ships had allowed most smaller ones to take off and be captured they finally went into the atmosphere and pounded the areas they now knew ships were stored. Another batch of five thousand were destroyed this way.

Troops were landed and walked into the government buildings and arrested each leader and counsel member. They were taken back to the ship for trial. Now each ship had between ten and twenty elected leaders in jails. The action by Phoenix had shocked the business community of the planets. It had been swift and completely destructive of any chance they had to break the export ban. Once they knew that all ships had been caught and destroyed many industries failed. Workers were cut and plants shutdown. Now the hard times would start. Phoenix’s actions had been in the early spring of the year. This would allow for planting of gardens for the people to be able to feed themselves. Life was not going to be easy, but they would survive if they worked at it. Ned had followed these actions and saw how well David had handled things. This pleased him and he made sure that both David and his people knew his feelings. Now satellites were feeding data back for the security department to follow. If any major food shortages developed then Phoenix would step in. They did not intend to let any starve or freeze come winter. Small groups of robot troops were placed at strategic points to step in if needed. On the ships the trials were scheduled for all planets to see. The leaders were required to act as their own defense counsel. Each had been given a copy of the law book and a list of charges. All evidence was provided for them to see and if they could dispute. The leaders were so demoralized that little would be defended. This they had never considered as possible. At the first trial the security person read out the charges, presented the evidence and then sat down. “Sir your now allowed to present your case. You have heard the charges and seen the evidence. If anything that has been said or shown to the court is not true you now may make that known to me.” The man stood and looked at Peter with hate. “We are a free and independent planet and make our own laws. No one has the right to tell us how we must act or live. Here today I am being charged with laws that are not ours. So there is really no case.” He sat down then. “You did see the agreement you and your fellow leaders signed am I right?” “Yes we were forced to sign that document. It was not our free choice to do that.” “Did someone hold a gun to your head or have you in a prison and refuse to let you out unless you signed it?” “No but we were told that our citizens had to vote on it and if ratified we would be helped back to prosperity.”

“Did your people vote on it an approve it?” “Of course they did.” “Did you then sign it and agree to its terms?” “After the vote none of us had a choice.” “Then you have broken the agreement you signed? “That agreement was not worth the paper it was written on. We are the power in this universe and people better see that.” “By your own admission I find you guilty. Your sentence is life in prison on a starship. You will never set your feet on the ground again. You see that agreement is binding in all ways for every planet. Your smug way of seeing yourself as better than others has been your undoing. In all the eight planets will suffer much hardship and never recover to where they were. Every monopoly you had is now broken, as other worlds are being set up to meet the needs. So planets that depended on you will never have to do that again. Our methods are cheaper and better than yours ever were. That means from a price perspective you could not compete. May the Creator have mercy on you as this court cannot.” The man was escorted out to his cell. This process went on for two days and each time the court saw no one sorry for their actions. Men were arrogant and had no concern for others. The many planets also saw this. These eight planets became hated by those who saw their ways. The media was gentle with these men as it said that they should be pitied. But too many people had been held hostage to their pricing and refusal to trade fair. Troops send down to check for ships were taken under fire by military groups. Not one was hurt and they did get their task done. But many of the military were hurt, but none were killed. The result made for none wanting to fight these people. During these excursions a few more ships were found and destroyed. Now David was pretty sure he had gotten them all. Now nothing they could sell would be at a price it was made for today. The one small ship was assigned to patrol each planet. It was their job to assure any ship trying to leave was stopped and to keep track of events. They reported each day on conditions on the planet. Phoenix was not going to allow civil wars or starvation to happen. These actions were now seen as possible for any planet. So they kept each letter of the agreement. It was not seen as beneficial to end up like the eight. It was with this in mind that Ned called for a meeting of all planet leaders on Phoenix. This was a chance to discuss trade and understand how Phoenix saw this universe.

The acceptances came in quickly and all twenty-three hundred less the eight had signed up. Tours were formed to all these leaders to see farms, businesses and manufacturing plants. There was a city tour so they could see it as well and pictures or digital feeds were provided. Each planet could send one leader and their families to this meeting. The offer had been made to have one of these each year and the leaders could rotate who came. There were many seminars planned to allow better understanding of new technologies. Few leaders knew how to use the planet computers to their best interest. This universe was old, but it had been held back for so long it was still young technology wise. On the Friday delegates checked into the hotels on the lake. People were impressed with just how beautiful this was. Each family was given a card each for husband and wife. Any money spent here would be covered by Phoenix. Everyone met on Friday night in the large conference room for a welcome speech. Ned stood at the podium and looked over this crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Phoenix City. It has always been my hope that we could have meetings like this one. No one is going to change the agreements we now work under. But this will allow discussion of how to grow stronger as a planet. The Phoenix system now five planets in size and is committed to the human race. We are for seeing the people do well and be happy with their lives. You each have made good progress in education, medical services and housing. But there is much more to making people happy. Here you will get the chance to see our citizen and talk with them freely. You will see new technology that is available to you and your planets. Many meetings will be held to discuss how to use the resources you now have more effectively. I hope you each leave Phoenix with new ideas and direction.” As he stepped back the applause was thunderous. June stepped forward and raised her hand. “I am June and many of you have dealt with me on the money change over. Please pick up the lists of seminars that are being held and the times for them. There is limited space for each, so you need to advise the desk of your choices and the times you prefer. If one is full then choose another time for that same seminar. There will be room for all of you at one of the times. Now you have two days here to see the things that interest you. Be sure you work your seminars around those visits. Each of you has a card for your use. Phoenix is picking up your expenses for this meeting. It will not be charged to your planet or personal accounts. So when dinning just be ready to present your card when the bill comes. For items purchased in shops there is a limit of five hundred credits. It will allow your spouse to shop and enjoy our merchandise. Now dinner tonight is open to each of you. The dinner boats can take twelve hundred and the dinning rooms here in the hotel more than all of you. Please enjoy your stay on Phoenix.” Once more people were pleased with these actions and applause was loud. “Well boss we will now see how this works. My best guess is this is going to cost us around twenty-five million credits.”

“That is the best money we have ever spent June. This meeting will open conversation not just between us, but also between planets. That has not existed before and should be enjoyed. The real event will be the building of a universe that can talk with each other.” John and Simon walked into the room and people looked and wondered who they were. At this point no one had left the room. John walked to the podium and looked out. “Just so you know I am John from the Alpha planets and with me is Simon of the Omega planets. We each sit in Ned’s position in our universes. Both of us decided to come at the last moment, so you could at least learn about our worlds. Simon and I will run short meetings for you each night if your interested. You may ask questions and get honest answers. Each of you sees life from just your own planets position. For us including Ned we have to see it from the universe perspective. What is best for every planet? So this group of meetings will may be open your eyes to what Ned will be looking at in dealing with you. Thank you all for your time and listening to me.” The buzz grew very loud and several men came forward. One from another very old planet motioned at John. “Yes sir can I help you?” “Can you tell me how many universes there are?” “Right now we have five we know. Of course there are many more we do not yet know about. Of those five, human life exists in only four. That fifth universe is deadly to all humans.” “What are you and Simon going to be talking about?” “In our worlds every planet has a responsibility to all others. Our people travel between planets and learn about other cultures. Those of us who led a universe have responsibilities that most planets never see. The fleets of Phoenix must protect all humans here as our fleets do in our universe. We provide technology to our other planets and help them develop. There is no tax for this as it is a responsibility.” “Then why should not each planet have their own spaceships?” “If they did you would soon have wars when one was attempting to control another.” “I then would be very interested in hearing your comments.” “We will run the meetings at ten at night. That way most have had dinner and are ready to sit back, relax and discuss the universe. Each of you has a vested interest in each planet here. Some you will sell to and others buy from. With still more you will compete for business and markets. That needs to be done in ways that do not bring conflict.” “I look forward to these discussions.” The group walked off and John stood back up. “Well I hope we did not rain on your parade Ned?”

“Not at all I am glad to see you both. Of course you will stay with Cindy and I.” “We would both enjoy that. When Simon and I discussed this meeting we decided some hard facts needed to be known. They would be accepted coming from us much better than from you. We both can speak of experience coming from peaceful universes. Here your trying to make these planets fit into that mold.” “I had some addresses that I was not looking forward to giving.” “You need to be involved with these meetings as they do concern you. But allow us to take the hard stands and that way we are seen as the bad guys. Not all will feel that way but some will I assure you.” “Ned as John has said there will be some hard feelings. I am very skilled at reading people and backing them up on issues. Once they attack John’s comment I will be easily able to force them to admit their error. He and I work very well together.” “It is all your show. I intend to watch and learn this time.” That night the three men sat with Cindy and talked for hours. She loved having this group together and learned much. John was forceful like Ned and Simon was the diplomat. The two were great fun to watch. In the morning they had a leisurely breakfast and was in no hurry to leave the house. The meetings for them would be late at night and they had set that time. By then a lot of fight would be out of leaders. They had brought several movies for spouses to watch while the meeting was going on. Large theaters existed in the convention center and they would be used for this. Each movie was set to evoke feelings of compassion for others. The group walked between seminars and saw the interest being shown. It was a good sign and one badly needed. Phoenix managers were forcing the leaders to get involved. One of the ways of doing this was saying here is the problem and how would you solve it? Then the tools they could use were brought to their attention. Several times leaders stopped the three men and told Ned they had never understood the tools they really had. This was a common theme during the day. After dinner at Ned’s home they went to the largest meeting room. They sat on a small stage that had been placed for them. Each place had a sound pick up and that was true of every seat in the room. The room filled quickly as many were wondering what they could learn here. Finally every seat was filled and that came as a surprise to the men. “Now let me say a few things you need to hear. Over the years I led the Federation I created in my universe, I did make some errors. What I found was not every planet was

willing to fight and die for others. Matter of fact the largest group of planets took over the Federations fleet and tried to destroy my planets.” This brought a sucking in of breaths. “That was when I saw that no group of planets could ever over see a universe. It required just one leader and he had to be fair to every planet. Now as with Phoenix my planets needed nothing the others had. Our technology was the most advanced and it was us who gave that away to others. We are a religious planet and follow the laws of the Creator in all things. So today that Federation is where planets bring their problems and they are discussed. But I act on issues based on the laws only. If a man is cheated then the one who did it is punished. It is that simple.” Men talked among themselves for a time. “How do you know the man was cheated?” Simon took this. “Would you know if someone on your planet was cheated? If you knew how to use your computer you would and even have proof. This is no abstract idea it is bare bones facts. People are not all honest and often politicians are the least honest of all. I know because for many years I was President of the Federation in my universe. Today I run the entire universe with no input from other planets.” “Why would you not want to hear from others before acting?” “Have you ever told a small lie to get something done? That is a politicians stock and trade. All I care about is facts and truth. Now where can I best get that? From the planet computer and it will never lie to me.” The mans face was slightly red. “I can see your point. You seem to understand the political game well.” John stepped in here. “Look for me or Ned we just want honest information. There is nothing on any of your planets that can happen without your computer knowing it. It does make your lives much easier in so many ways. But it is also the provider of truth. If you lie to Ned he will know before it even comes out of your mouth.” Another leader was just getting to his point. “Why does one man have control over the entire universe?” “In your case because it was directed by the Creator himself. Ned is the most honest man you will ever know. Being that honest many will at some point try to use that to their advantage. That is really a mistake. Each of us here wears the ring of the Creator and get insights you will never get. But our lives are in his hands and we will follow his direction for mans good. Each of you may believe or not and that is your free choice. But understand the Creator made every human in any universe and we are responsible to him and his laws.” “What makes his laws so good?”

“Have you ever seen any man killed by his laws? I can assure you that does not happen. Yes, if a ship is attacked it may fight to defend itself and then people can be killed. But by their own choice, and not the defending ship. The laws each of you agreed to live by were the Creators laws. The only worry you have is if you break them. Live by them and life will be very good. Fail to do that and end up like the eight planets.” Simon let that hang out there. “When will the eight planets be allowed to rejoin the universe?” Here Ned had to take the question. “I have decided it will be ten years. On those eight planets we destroyed over eleven thousand small spaceships and they should not have been there. The agreement stated that no spaceships were allowed in space or on the ground. The leaders hid them and violated their agreement. The next planet we find with a fleet of these smuggling craft, will have a twenty year ban from the universe.” “That seems very harsh.” One man said very quickly. John jumped in here. “How much is your word worth sir?” The man looked stunned at this. “I do value my word.” “Then if someone does not and breaks the agreement they should be given the same respect as you?” “Well no I am not saying that.” “But you are, you said that breaking the agreement should be no big deal. It should not carry penalties like Ned imposed. So what is the value of your word? Are you willing to sell it so cheaply?” “I did not mean for that to be seen that way.” Simon looked at the man and smiled. “Sir you’re an old fashion politician and your word means little to you. You can bluster and say what you wish, but I would bet your hiding a large fleet of smuggling ships right now. If so your in big trouble if you don’t come clean.” The man looked down and nodded his head. “They is a good size fleet now stored on my planet. You have my word I will have them scrapped and none will be left.” “Simon looked around the room. “Now how many more do we need to handle on this issue?” Around twenty hands came up. Ned was not happy about this. “Then you have two weeks to clear up this lie. There will be a ship with two hundred fighter craft sitting just off your planet. Any planet that knows of or has helped store ships has that time to take care of the

problem. After that my ships will start looking very closely at every planet. If one ship is found you will see twenty years of operating as an isolated planet. No trade, technology and no help from me.” Many here were angry with those who had failed to live by the agreement. “I feel they should pay some price for their actions.” “That price will depend on their actions in the next two weeks. I said nothing about getting off free. The meetings here have all been sent on feeds to your planets. That includes this one. Your people know the lie you told and what their future holds if that is not fixed. They will decide the fate of the current leaders.” No one had expected their planets would know of this admission. “That is not fair to send feeds without our knowing about it.” “If you read the brochure you were sent it stated in it feeds would be supplied for your planets knowledge. That each meeting would be sent as a feed if you were in it. Your visits to farms, businesses and factories were also sent back. In our world my people know everything I do. Every meeting is sent out for them to see. We hide nothing from the people here. Really you should not in your worlds either.” One older man was smiling now. “Yes I read the entire thing and it was clearly stated. That was not just one place but several different places. To be sure we saw it there was even a box drawn around it.” Simon was ready now for his shot. “As you have seen here tonight there are still those among you who cannot live by their word. You may have sold your soul to the highest bidder or just convinced yourself you were smarter. Either way I am sure most would not want that leader running this universe. The one sure thing you have is you can trust Ned’s word. He will not lie or refuse to give you a straight answer. In every universe there is good and evil. This is a constant battle between those two forces. You each need to be thankful that the one power here is on the good side.” The meeting broke up and people stood and talked for some time. Many came to talk with John, Simon and Ned. They were the ones who knew about good and evil and agreed with Ned running this universe. It was the start to building powerful relationships. No further questions on what would happen to the planets that failed to keep their word came up. The men when they got to Ned’s were tired and hit the bed. That next morning as they ate breakfast they discussed this night’s discussion. This time it was going to be a shock to the leaders. That day they walked and watched the meetings. Many were less attended today and more tours were happening. The men often were stopped and Ned thanked for the amount of information shared.

Then the night meeting came and it also was not as well attended. Ned opened the meeting. “Now tonight I am asking you to pick a group of eleven leaders to serve as the trade and industry committee. I am sure you could see the problem if every planet wanted to produce aluminum. There would be lots of it and no market for it. But for some planets mining ore is their strong suit and others it may be rolling it into the forms needed. So this group of leaders will coordinate each planets wants with their abilities to assure all make money. They will look at needs for every planet and see how best those needs can be met. Each group of planet leaders will then review the recommendations and vote on the entire plan. If a majority of sixty percent of planets agrees to it, then it will become law. My people to assure fairness will also look at each step. If we see any planet being hurt it will be brought to the committee’s attention. When this happens your expected to fix the problem.” “I am not sure how this is going to help us?” “Does your planet do something’s very well?” “Yes and we get a lot of trade in those areas.” “But if another planet decided to start that industry and compete then you would lose trade right?” “Yes, but what can the committee do about that?” “They will be able to set the export products for each planet. That will assure your industries a market for their goods. Where demand is way more than production, they can help stimulate development of new sources on other planets. This will help stabilize your industries and bring new ones to your planets.” “What happens if we have an industry that is in an over crowded market?” “No one is going to shutdown your plants. But they will not be allowed to export that product. It will only be for planet use. Then when a new product is available they will offer to help convert that industry to one they can export.” The older man who had spoken the day before was smiling. “I see where your headed and like the idea. With that size committee all from different planets no one has any advantage. But where will they meet?” “Here on Phoenix and they will have access to technical help. Many of your industries need to be upgraded now. Where robotic machines replace people you will need maintenance people who are skilled to keep it running. That requires training for those people. There is no place else they can be trained but here.”

Now discussion started within the entire group. Finally they asked for some time to break into smaller groups. This allowed people to move group to group and sell their abilities. This brought a list of twenty people for consideration. Each was allowed to address the group for five minutes and then had to sit as others did that. “Now you have heard from everyone interested in this job. You need to understand that five will be elected to three-year terms and six to six year terms. The highest vote getter will become chairmen. One additional caution for each candidate is if you break the laws you will be punished. That means if you set out to hurt another planet you have broken the law. It also means that if you try to load your planet with industry and technology you have broken the law. Here you must be open minded and look at the best interest of the universe. There is one further draw back and that is you must resign your position on your home planet. You salary for this job will be one hundred thousand credits paid for by Phoenix. That is considerably more than your current salary. You can if you do a good job be reelected by the planets for another six year term.” One leader was not real happy with this. “What if we don’t want to give up our current job?” “Then you cannot run for this one. I see no way for you to serve your planet and serve the universe with equal vigor. In work you can only have one master. That you need to decide, if it is your planet or your universe?” Two dropped out here and the vote was made on the rest. Each planet got to vote for each of the eleven slots. One ballot with each mans picture and name was given to them to bring forward and then check off eleven. Once that was done they were placed into a box. No one could see who they voted for and the votes were tabulated as soon as made. But this was not shown until the last vote was made. The top six vote getters were given the six year terms and the next five three year terms. “Now for the rest of the planet leaders these people are your committee. If you have questions then contact them about those. They will be traveling to your planets from time to time to learn more about your needs. Be ready to sit down with them and discuss those needs. I will serve only to assure fairness and it will be their decisions that will impact your planets.” The meeting broke up and the committee was swamped with leaders wanting to talk. John, Simon and Ned went to his home and sat in the study. A good bottle of wine was brought out and glasses filled. Each man enjoyed the wine. “Where in the world did this come from?” Simon was impressed with this wine. “It is from our first years wines. I have about one hundred thousand bottles now aging. But it was good enough to bring a few into the house.” “I should say so Ned. I would love to buy a few from you.”

“Well I did better than that as I sent you each two cases to your homes. Your support this weekend was worth far more than that.” John smiled at Ned’s kindness. “I do enjoy good wine. So please add me to the list of clients and allow me to also buy wines as they are ready. On Alpha I give away cases of really good wines to people who do great things.” “I have a plum wine now bottled for next year. It is from an old recipe from a country called Japan in your universe.” “Then know I will take as many cases as you can supply. On Earth two, three, four and five we have many from Japan. They can no longer get plum wines from their home country. I have been looking for a source for them. My head of space is from that countries people and she loves a good plum wine. So she would be a good one to check out your work.” “I will send a case for her to try it. But she must let me know of its quality and value. We have even put it into earthenware bottles.” John laughed at how Ned had taken his work at wine making so serious. “What got you into wine making?” “I spent my summers working in wineries on my planet. That was something I found peace in doing. Sam knowing how much I loved it when he built this home for me set up a winery and grapes for me to enjoy. I have three different types of grapes and make six types of wines. The plums I buy from Sam’s orchard. He makes plum, peach and apple brandies. Peter and David make very good beers. So we all are in that business one way or another.” “I would love sometime to see each of those operations.” Simon was very much into a good drink. “They all would love showing you their facilities. Each of us takes pride in producing the very best products.” “If this wine is an example they must do a very good job as well.” “I have cases of brandy and beer here at all times for guests.” Simon was not tempted. “I stick with just one of those at anytime. Mixing drinks can ruin a good evening.” Both John and Ned laughed, as they both knew this well. They talked for another hour and then head to bed.

The next morning they headed to the hotel for breakfast and to be available to any leaders before they left. Many stopped by the table and thanked then for their honest answers. A couple told them of upset leaders when they found out about the committee elections. They laughed that the men skipped the meeting and then got mad at not having a vote. People were a strange lot. Of course their absents had been noted by their people on the planet. After ten in the morning everyone had checked out and headed home. “Well Ned your first universe meeting I think went well. Nothing like this is ever perfect, but over all things were very good. You have a start to planet cooperation and uncovered many smuggler ships. The bad thing is they are going to have to pay some price for that lie.” “I have been considering what to do there. If I move to harshly that will cause problems, if I move to weakly that also will cause problems.” “You did notice none of those leaders were elected to the committee. Three ran and none were elected. My guess is there will be a recall vote on the planet. If those leaders are removed from government then it opens doors for you. You can have them sign an agreement that adds limitations to the planets rights for a period of time.” “That I will need to consider and play it by ear. I will listen to some of the feed back from people on planets and try to gage what is enough.” “Your now in for a million one to pay the committee how will you cover that cost?” “I have it covered with the extra production on the complex we are now having to run. When the eight planets were closed we had to step in and provide steel. We were the only place able to meet demand. So that small amount means nothing if I can get planets cooperating.” “What odds do you give the committee of success?” “With our help it should be good. If the meetings had happened any place but here I would not feel this way.” John agreed with this way of seeing it. “I will be interested in how this works. It may be something I want to try.” “Here we cheated a little. We know every industry on every planet and what the markets are for that product. There are some way over produced and others very short. By the committee granting export licenses we can start to force some change in industries. Without an export licenses no product will be shipped between planets. For many of these companies there is not enough of a market on just their planet to stay in business. When they see this change will come easy.” Simon was not sure about how much change. “How far will you push them?”

“If your product is sewn and that is where your strength is then it needs to be a product that fits that set of skills. You might move a company from clothing to tents and camping gear. Our planets still do a lot of that and the demand is high with low production.” They covered a few more areas before John and Simon said their good byes. The two headed back to their planets and the work left undone. The weekend had been a lesson in the political side of Ned’s universe. Both were glad they did not have to deal with that many personalities. Here most of the politicians were as devious as any Simon had seen. But he was surprised that most of the committee seemed pretty honest. There was at least enough of them to keep the rest honest. Life was every changing for Ned. He saw several of the governments fall after the admissions of lying. Many people who knew of where ships had been hid were turning them in now. They had all seen the damage caused on the eight planets and none wanted it on theirs. The fact of twenty years without trade or technology was just too much for them. One improvement was the way people were now watching government. They before had not understood just how much power was in their hands. Now they watched every move the elected leaders made and called them on some issues. It was not nearly as much fun for many, as it had been before the people woke up. The news media questioned any action that did not seem right. This led to people looking into what had been done. If they had done something unlawful they could end up in court. This caused many politicians to resign and take up private life. But corporations were also now looked at. Managing personnel were held to account for profits and losses. With the planet computer being accessible to everyone, it was just a matter of asking for a report. Every corporate report was open to anyone on that planet. These changes were ones Ned was glad to see. The people could much more effectively monitor their political machine and corporations. Feeling this power had made many decide to run for office. So many new leaders were just common people. But they did know how to use the computer to their best advantage. Chapter 12 A Devastating Problem A crew of three workers doing surveying work had gone missing on Phoenix five. This brought a ship to the planet to look for them. While scanning the landmasses many large animals were spotted. Fighters were sent down and the word came back there were creatures living here wild. These all had thought had been killed off. Ned went to John’s office with this news. He needed to get rid of these and had no idea of the bio-weapons that had been used.

“I will send a science crew back with you to manufacturer the needed agents. But your going to have to check every unsettled planet in your universe. If humans were not there the fleet just moved on. They had so many planets where humans did live they could not take time to check ones where they did not.” That was reasonable Ned considered. “I just can’t afford to have them get into a civilization now. Our crew doing surveying I am sure expected nothing to happen. They had no personal force fields or stun guns.” “On any planet not settled before you need to be ready for anything.” “Sam is crushed about this as it is. He never expected this, as he had walked that planet and nothing bad had happened. There was no trace that could bee seen of any predators.” “That may be true, but your universe had these creatures for a million years and they could be anyplace. I understand Sam’s feelings and agree it was unusual for that to happen after his exploration. But you can never trust that things are safe until every option has been checked.” “I am heading back and will set up for every unsettled planet to be checked and double checked. This just cannot happen again.” He went to the transport plate and there were ten people waiting for him. The group introduced themselves and they headed to Phoenix. The plan they had worked out was to spray every unsettled planet and just be safe. The virus would not affect any humans, so there was no reason to hold back. With that decision made the people headed to one of the ships labs to start the process. Within a few days they would have enough of the mixture to start operations. Containers of the virus were placed in large vats and fed the nutrients need to grow. Heat was applied to stimulate the process. By keeping the heat right at one hundred degrees they grew quickly. Each batch had half of its volume removed and more nutrients added to keep the growth cycle up. The volume removed was checked to assure a proper level of the virus had been reached. This material was then added to a nutrient base in the probes tanks. Once more the temperature was keep at above ninety degrees to stimulate growth. The first probes would spray at a height of no more than ten thousand feet. It would be colder up there, but as the fine spray hit the warmer air it would be come much more active. The virus would cover the plants, animals and any thing at ground level. It would be picked up by paws just walking over dirt or grass. Cats had a bad habit of licking these appendages and it made transfer much quicker. Once in the body of the cat it would start to really multiply. Just a couple of these could start multiplying and within three days bring death.

There would be no place they could walk and no animal they could eat that was not a carrier of this virus. It had a cycle of seven days before it died off. The virus would sit on the coats of animals, but if ingested it would simply die. Only cats were a host inside their bodies for this. It required a cats DNA to be able to grow and flourish. Robot troops had been assembled to go down and dispose of bodies. They would check out dens and other living places. Samples would be taken to assure these were a part of the creature’s family. Scans of the planet showed where these living spaces were located. Ned had other ships checking each planet not occupied by humans. These were also turning up signs of creature’s living there. Each was marked for ships to spray them. In all thirty-eight planets still had this life form. This knowledge led Ned to decide to open them at some point for human settlement. He requested data on each of landmasses, plant, animal and other types of life forms. Fresh water was always a key to human survival, so that was mapped closely. Minerals and soil values were looked at closely. These worlds could open up settlement for some over populated planets. Many had little of any life on them and these numbered well over nine hundred. He would allow science crews to check and see if the planets could be made habitable. It might be a slight movement closer or further from the sun would help? Then life forms added to make these world flourish. It could solve many problems he was sure. His own planet Phoenix had been checked closely and no creatures found at all. That still did not make him feel good. He sent out parties to check the wooded areas for any signs of hiding creatures. These groups were five troopers and two scientists. They all wore personal force fields and carried deadly weapons. These searches were very slow going and produced little results at first. The creatures were very nocturnal and that required setting up at dusk and waiting to see what moved. Sitting at several trails junctions one trooper saw a creature moving slowly through the underbrush. Then there were four of them, all setting up to ambush the next animal heading to the water. This was all picked up and fed to the control center. The proof that the creature did exist on Phoenix sent shockwaves through the population. There had been on a few animal raising operations where an animal went missing here and there. The trooper sat back and waited for these creatures to come closer. He did not want to miss any of them. It was then that a deer came down the trail and moved toward the water. She stopped from time to time to graze on grass. Once in the right position the four creatures came at her fast. The trooper shot all four before they could get close enough to take the deer down. With the noise they made the deer never saw the humans. But she bolted off away from the water.

When the scientists got to the four bodies they started to laugh. These were cats all right but they were lions and not creatures. This information was passed on to the control center and the bodies shipped back for examination. Now a decision would have to be made on how this was to be handled. Many science groups went out to watch and report back on dens that had been found. The population was fairly good size and could be a danger to humans. For them any mammal moving was food. A board was formed to discuss this issue for Phoenix one. The way this was seen split the group. Many felt that the large predators were very real danger to humans especially children. Others felt they were a natural life form and deserved protection. These two groups went back and forth with no one changing positions. Finally Ned had enough of this. He called for a vote by the people. That would be binding on all. He allowed each side to present their case to the people. “My people I have no position on this issue but past history from Alpha. On the Alpha planets no life form that is aggressive to humans is allowed. That keeps large predators from using humans as a food source. But these animals do keep the population of many animals from over running our planet. Alpha here has allowed hunting of these animals by its people and this does the same job. There is a hunting season each year and the meat is eaten by those who hunt. In some cases it is also sold to restaurants for serving to the public. I have had deer and elk and the meat is very good. Now you need to decide what action we will take in this current debate. I leave that in your hands and will follow your decision.” Each side of this issue was not happy with the public making this decision. But they had been told to get over it, as this planet belonged to the people. The vote was coming very quickly and the desire to remove these animals was well out front by a two to one vote. By the next day the vote was complete. The fate of the big cats had been decided and they would be removed from the planet. A vote to allow a hunting season had also passed. That would require rules and training of the people to hunt. So Ned started a hunting and fishing department. There would be rules and limits on what could be taken. It was just more growth into a culture that differed from other worlds. The days passed with the understanding that their universe was getting a little safer. Most of the planets sprayed did have the creatures, but they had reverted to more cat than human DNA. They were vicious and saw humans as nothing but preferred food. This was presented to all planets for general knowledge. When Ned offered the planets where land was at a premium, the chance for people to migrate to new planets it cause much excitement. He set up for the planets participating to supply one million settlers each year. There were one hundred and nine that was short of land. Of course some arguments broke out. The way a planet would be settled was by a mix of each planets people. No one planet would populate another by themselves.

The people really did not care, but the politicians did. Some saw a chance to control more that one planet. From Ned’s point of view that was just not going to happen. “People of the planets with too little land. I have offered your leaders the right to supply citizens for new planets. Many have agreed and accepted the terms offered. But a few see this as a chance to increase their power. Know that will not happen and I will stand firm on this. Each planet settled will have its own government and will carry the same rights as all others. You will sign the same agreements and live by the same laws. The one major difference is you will not own land. That will be given to you for yours and your spouse’s life times. After death the land will be given to the next couple. Each farm will be one square mile in size, a business will have the stock needed to run from the first day. Factories will be ready to produce products and no funding will be required. Your homes will be supplied, as will any additional buildings. Because the government makes the investment it is the government who owns it all. You will have full use of it for your entire lives.” Ned paused here to let this sink in. “Now that is very different from how things operate in your worlds. But these settlers will make very good incomes and have little tax responsibilities. Your government will get its money from transport plate fees and a small sales tax. There will be no income taxes on these planets. This is the same model that Phoenix runs on and it does work. When you are considering migration be sure your willing to live this way. The young will have the easiest time adjusting to this new concept. But age will not be the determining factor for acceptance. The down side of this is those planets that refuse to sign the agreement for migration, will not be allowed to participate. It is just that simple, so you need to let your government know how you feel about this. Thank you for your time.” The planets that had objected the loudest were now in turmoil. People were picketing the government building. But others who were also dragging their feet were also under pressure. Once more the people were in control and some governments failed. New elections were held and completely new leaders were installed. The agreements then came in fast. One point of migration was set up on each planet. Each settler was allowed just ten boxes of possessions. These would be transported when they went to their new homes. All other goods they had were sold off and the money sent to the new planets bank. Any funds they had in an account was transferred to the new planets bank as well. Robot security force troopers ran the transport plates. This was not left for governments to handle. Each family had their names on a list and a day and time for transport. The decision was that no planet would take more than five hundred million people. It would allow for growth over many years. To keep things reasonable in the early stages ten planets were to be used. This would expand as time went on. But that meant just at one million one hundred thousand per planet each year. This held down the mad rush of construction for each planet. Only one

city would be built and that was where the government would operate. There were no salaries for elected officials, as they made their money like everyone else. The mad house of the first few days went away, after the schedules were seen as absolute. On your day and time you got moved and not a minute before. Around twenty-eight hundred people were moved each day from the sites. But with ten plates in operation it went smoothly. Each planet only had to move just over eleven people per hour. The good thing was each plate went to a different planet. People then were sent to one of twenty centers for that planet for processing. Each was given a copy of the law book, signed a lease agreement and picked their desired farm, business or manufacturing plant. Each center processed just over sixty-one people per hour. Then they were sent to their new homes. Holding down the numbers to reasonable levels made the processing go quickly and without problems. It kept tempers in check and made for no long lines. This way people were in their new homes within two hours after they left the old planet. For many who were used to the inefficient operation of most governments this was impressive. The new homes were far better than any most had lived in before. They had been warned to get the computer to explain how everything operated before using any machine. Each home had all the power it needed for free from the fusion generators. Communications was simply by computer as it had been on their old planet. Many quickly sent to family and friends e-mail showing their new home. The comments and pictures caused a major jump in requests to migrate. A few badly over populated planets requested a larger number of migrants and that was agreed to. Those few that had a big problem were allowed to send ten million a year. That required ten stations for the planet to be able to handle the load. This was a lot of labor and it was felt by industry very soon. The days of cheap labor were now over on these planets. Ned followed these migrations each week and made sure things were going, as he wanted. That was just his way of operating. Once there were enough people on the planet he would organize elections. But he felt they would need at least a year before that became a concern. He had robots in place to oversee the current services and to respond to people. The effect was people seemed to enjoy working with them. The new farms were plowing and planting for crops. The stores did not have the trade they would later, but were still managing to turn a small profit. Bakeries were doing well as was the milling plants. Grains were purchased from other planets for processing here. Schools were filling up and children were finding the work harder here. Far more was expected of them than ever before. One mother came to the school to demand to know why her daughter now was having problems. The answer was simple she was now

expected one day to be able to lead a plant, not just to work for someone else. That mother saw the wisdom in this and left. A few of the older children were problems as had been expected. Expecting this a camp had been set up in the mountains. There they were worked hard and taught lessons that had been missed before. It was not fun in any way, but they learned what responsibility was. In this new world every human needed to be depended on to do their job. If they could not do that then their lives would be very hard. There was no place here for any who used others to make a living. It at times took a while for this to sink in. A group of ten men had migrated to one planet where they all chose farms where raising cattle was the source of income. They had a couple small hay fields, but most of the land was rocky and was only fit for grazing animals. Each had purchased a horse and saddle for checking on their herds. But the reason for the type of farm and location was to give them privacy. They would go to a riverbank and sit and talk. Here no computer could hear them. Their intent was one day to take over this planet. All had come from families that had once ruled their planets. Each man felt he was better qualified to rule than any common man. But they were smart in that all knew it would take time to reach their goal. The farms would pretty much run themselves and let the men have time to look over this world. Finding the weak spots would be important in assuming power. They all agreed that if you controlled the food and money supply you controlled the planet. But doing that would require getting rid of the planet computer. The first task they assumed was finding where the planet computer was located. Then they would watch to see who accessed it. How long they were there and if possible what they did. If this took a year or ten years it did not matter. They knew time was on their side in this as long as no one knew their plans. To this end no wife or child would know anything of their plans. It would be just the ten of them in on the plan. Each man was to act very normal at all times in public. They were to ask no questions that would be remembered. In meetings for their area they would sit back and see which way the wind was blowing, before following the majority. It was important they be seen as neither pro or anti government. Here once more they knew the computer would be looking for radicals. That group would be watched more closely than others. The ability of the computer to track travel meant that every trip had to have an honest reason for it. Doing other things after handling business would raise no alarms. One man had brought a strong box from his home. All papers would be stored in it and hidden in a cave they had found. Each man was known to like to hunt and to camp out. So getting together for a few days would cause no problems. A door of rock was built to swing shut and close the cave. It looked so real you could not tell it twenty feet away. They spent days carving out stone inside the cave to make rooms. A natural vent was found and that is where the cooking was done. Wood smoke would be gone by the time it was released into the atmosphere. The stove made of rock also warmed the rest of the

cave they used. They could not use a fusion power plant for power, so they used candles and gas lanterns. The cave had natural water running through it and they dug a pit outside for a toilet. There was a small wood building built over it for shelter in rains and cold times. Out near this outhouse they cleared ground for what looked like a camping area. A sign was posted advising this was a hunting clubs area. It would seem natural to most hunters to have a base camp for any group hunting this area. This work took the first six months they were on the planet. Now they had a safe place to talk, keep documents and maps. One of the men was an electronics genius and built a small device that would let them know if anyone entered the cave. He played with ideas at home in his shop and had many components to choose from. Because that was his hobby he was allowed to buy components of almost any kind he wished. That included small compact batteries. Each man had a small device that he made with one LED type light. If that went off someone had accessed the cave. It would allow the men to check and see who had done that and handle the problem if needed. In all they felt very safe in everything they had done to this point. But they all knew that Phoenix had been behind the actions taken in the attempted overthrow of those governments.

Chapter 13 Questions The days of easy flowing issues were now gone for Ned. Most issue were hard to judge for any one. This was now all long term planning. You could not change directions today like you could with just a few million people. That made for seeing where things were going and directing them well out in front of the events.

This was what Ned had been working on for some time now. He had established projections for each area of the economy and had looked out six months, one year and five years. Now the computer was tracking the real numbers to his projections. “Ned why are your projections running closer to the real numbers than mine are?” “Faith I knew the trade committee was going to smooth out many industries for the planets. That was going to reduce our export sales. With the increased populations we are seeing we gained a little there, but the new planets are where we right now are doing well. That in the next five years will also die off. But by then I will have ten more opened for settlement.” “I had all of that calculated into my numbers as well. But I did not expect the drop in sales to the older planets we have seen.” “If we sell just five percent of our products in export we do just fine and the loss of that does not kill our economy. My plan is for the Phoenix planets to be a closed market one day. That will never completely happen, but by planning that way I get better results.” This seemed odd to Faith. “Why would you plan for something you do not expect to happen?” “Because other things will happen that hit the numbers in a downward way. It always better for me to plan for an unknown and be happy when it does not happen. If you always expect the worst case the your not disappointed. You tend to plan for the absolute best case and those numbers will never happen.” This caused her to consider this. “I am not sure your right.” “Look at your numbers and mine and see who is tracking the economy the best. The really hard part is seeing where some hits will come from. It can be as simple as a bad crop or flooding in and area where that is not normal. But each year there will be events that cannot be predicted. Each of them will hit harder on your numbers than mine.” “That I can see and will adjust my forecasting to account for that. But what kind of numbers can be used to cover what you call an X factor?” “First of all start with the lowest numbers you see as possible. Second expect events that will hold them at that level. Look at the export markets and ask what is going to dry up and when it will happen. Then look at imports, which take money from our economy and ask what is going to happen there? After that you can look at some numbers that will be close to right.” This left Faith working on new ways to beat Ned. “I will get back with you once I have my formula to work with. Projecting the economy is much harder than it would seem.”

David walked into Ned’s office. “Good day boss how is life treating you?” “Not bad at all David. But you’re here so something is up. That I am not going to like.” “That is not true Ned. I just have one of those gut feelings that something is up. If you said show me there is nothing to show. But we have had some bad apples sent to us. There is no way to run background checks before migration. But on two different planets we have some of the old guard leaders families. On one planet there are ten of them in one small area. They all are raising cattle in a very remote place. The five on the other planet are in the city and all run a business. It seemed odd to me that these groups would end up so close together.” It was odd, as it did not fit random chance. “What have you found out so far?” “They are so honest at what they do it does not fit them at all. The storeowners meet each day for coffee in the park and talk. The ranchers spend their days out riding the fences and moving their stock. They hunt together and cover a pretty big area.” “What steps do you want to take?” “I am considering using some security force people to just watch and listen. We really have no evidence to go beyond that.” “Who does the cleaning for the men in the city?” “They use a robot crew to clean their stores and one at home as well. The ranchers use no robot help at all.” “Very discreetly bug their homes and businesses. Set up for feeds to come from every possible bench in the park. If they take a leak you will know it. Now for our cowboys that is going to be more difficult. But they are the ones who worry me most. Set up a satellite to track where they go and stay when hunting. Then once you have a location send in a team to watch that spot.” “One of the men is a very able electronics engineer. So we have to worry about him setting up traps.” “Now why would someone with those skill take a ranch?” “My question exactly Ned. The rest are all brutes and a ranch does not surprise me. But the engineer is very smart and he worries me.” “Just track them and we will worry about the next steps later. For now be able to tell me where they hunt and how long they spend there.”

David left Ned’s office with direction. He did not like working without facts, but his gut had been very accurate so far. Ned turned over the possible problems in his head. Putting himself in their shoes he could see moves they would have to make. There was no way to take over a planet with a working computer. Next there had to be control of the food and money system. On these planets for some time controlling food would be hard. Most people canned or froze their food and kept up to a years supply on hand. So any plan had to be a long term one. Next he had Faith bring up the bios on each man. He read them over and over. As David said one was very smart and the rest were muscle. All but the engineer had records for small crimes on their planets. No major crime had ever been charge against them as far as the record showed. He has Faith search the court records for dismissed cases for them. She turned up one or more on each man. This even included the engineer. He had been charged with designing and using a device to defeat a security system. The case was dismissed when the man who made the charge died. That had been called accidental death. Not likely Ned thought. He had this information sent to David to give him a better picture of these men. Now Ned’s gut was saying just what David’s did. There was a problem here and it spelled trouble. He was not worried about this blowing up yet, but it was out there coming down the road.

Chapter 14 A Test of Faith Ned had been invited to attend a meeting of many church leaders being held on his old planet. That was not something he could refuse to do. It did bother him that the meetings could not be held on Phoenix, but this had been happening since the church had come into the open. Two meetings were held each year one on the planet of his birth and one on

a distant one. Between the two meetings every church leader was at one of them at least. This year he was representing Phoenix. This was due to a request from the man who had allowed him a place in the school. Cindy had decided to come with him as she also now wore the ring of the church. She could never be refused admission to any meeting. Due to Nathan’s age he was to be left at home with the servants. So she packed clothing they would need and made sure things would be all right here. That afternoon the two headed for the hotel they had booked. A team of security people watched them and stayed well out of the way. If they walked on the streets a group of agents were in front and behind them. But the church was off limits for them during meetings. They did a check before a meeting and after one. But once the meeting started the doors were locked. Then they could only protect the outside of the building. That did not please them, but they had to live with it. Ned knew this old church well and had spent many a rainy day just sitting inside it. He had been in every nook and cranny in the building. In those years the church was closed and locked to all. But he had found a way into it through a door most did not know of. At a corner of the building there was what looked like a lime stone corner stone running all the way to the roof. These were on each corner of the building. But one corner would swing back and a door was there. This led to a tunnel that ran to a spot just under the lectern. At that point a lift would take you up to the area for readings. He never knew if anyone else knew of this entry or what it was used for in the past? But as a young man he enjoyed the secret and used it often. Of course he had told no one of his knowledge about this. Nor had he asked any questions of others. He did know it was not shown on any plans for the building. These he had checked himself. This day he was planning on how to use this knowledge. He would not use it the first day, but may be the last day of the meeting. It was time for others to know of this and see what effect it caused. He was sure some smart leader used it just for that reason. Cindy and Ned walked to the church for the first meeting on Friday. It was just after lunch and they had eaten at a nice little café. They could see three security force people out front and knew the same would be behind them. Of course Cindy with her speed would be more than most could handle if anyone got close. She was now fully recovered from her C section. As they entered the church many stood and applauded Ned’s arrival. He was well like by church leaders. He and Cindy moved to the front of the church where seats were located for them. There were no planet leaders here as none were church leaders as well. But every man and woman here knew the creator had chosen Ned for his job. There was no doubt in any ones mind.

Due to his status he was seen as the over all church leader in this universe. Any suggestion from him was seen as law for the church. That angered many politicians, as this gave him great power on most planets. Even more power that they had in many ways. So when he was here his life was at risk and that was why the heavy protection. But that could not happen inside the church. He and Cindy sat through the first meeting where there was much discussion about standardizing services. This seemed reasonable as long as it did not lengthen them from Ned’s point of view. The proposals ran all over the map and many would cause long services. Finally he was asked for his opinion. “I see nothing wrong with a standard service. But I have heard some ideas that could take an hour or more for them. That seems off the point of the Creators message to us all. Our service is no more than a period of respect shown to him. It does not require length to meet his expectations.” When the vote was taken five men were picked to write the standard service. Each had proposed a short one. That night Ned and Cindy dinned with several old friends of Ned’s from here. They discussed his problems with getting planets to live by their word. For these men and women living that way was a way of life. They could no more break their word than stop breathing. This was the one hot issue between the church and politicians. It had been a very nice evening and renewing his friendships was pleasing to Ned. Each of these people had an impact on his life. One old woman walked up to them and bowed her head to Ned. “I have waited for you to come now as I was told you would. There is something you seek and I have for you. If you will come with me we will get it for you.” Ned saw the ring with the red stone and wings carved into it. “Yes mother I was sure I would see you when I came here. If these people will excuse me I will be happy to come with you now.” The old woman led Cindy and Ned from the restaurant and down a dark street. They walked about a mile and then turned into a gate. This was an old religious center for widows. Here the woman opened the door to the building and they followed her inside. His guards staying outside. She walked to a chapel and then knelt at a cabinet set into a wall. Her ring glowed as she inserted it into the lock. She removed a large metal box and handed it to Ned. “This is now in the hands it was created for. Do you know what it is?” “Yes, mother I do and will cherish it for as long as I live.”

“My task in this world is now done Ned. I was the protector of that book for most of my life. The school saw it because I was told to take it there one time. But I was not to leave it. My instructions were to wait for the true leader of this universe and to present it to him. It had been very hard waiting for you, as I knew I could come to you. But was told to wait till you came here. Why that was to be I have no idea, but I have followed my instructions and now will be rewarded with peace.” The old woman dropped to the floor and she vanished before them. All that was left was her robes and the ring she had worn. Ned picked up the ring and placed it in his pocket and they left the building. The security team led them back to their hotel and saw them in their rooms. “Ned that was very strange tonight.” “Yes it was and no it was not. That woman had been living on the Creators time. Her body was here but it also was gone. She would have been over one hundred and twenty if my guess is right. That is long past any age here on this planet.” “Do you know what is in the box?” “As the woman said I have been looking for it and her. This is the oldest book of religion known to exist. It is over two million years old. The book is written in the old language and that is well before anything we speak today.” “Can you read the old language?” “No but the book can read itself through you. This is not for many in the church to read or know of. The only reason Sam has seen it or read it was because I was at the school. It is my belief that much of my destiny is tied some way to this book.” “Are you going to read it tonight?” “No for some reason I just know it is not time yet. But I did pick up the woman’s ring and I know that is needed to open this box.” Cindy had wondered about that, but had said nothing. “I saw you pick it up, but did not know why.” “To be honest I did not know when I did it why I did? But I just reached out and placed it in my pocket.” That night he had one of the best nights sleep he had ever had. The next day he went to breakfast and carried the box with him. “Why are you carrying that box with us?”

“I have no idea, but know I am to do this.” The box went with them to both Saturday sessions of the meetings. These were more discussions on interpretations than anything else. Ned sat back and said nothing during all the debate and listened to every opinion. Finally he was called on for his feelings. Ned stood still carrying the book and walked to the lectern. He sat it down and looked out over the leaders. “People I have heard a lot about how our religious book should be interpreted. Now I have religious books that are 1.5 million years old and I see nothing that requires me to interpret anything. In my humble opinion the book stands as written. Anyone who feels they can see the Creators words more clearly that what is written is fooling themselves.” Here the room erupted with descent. “How can you say that the books are just as the creator gave them to us?” “I did not say that at all. What I said is the laws and requirements are exactly what the Creator has given to man. Now how do I know this? The Creator called Alpha the perfect set of world who lives by his laws every day. I have seen this and heard it come from his own voice. My life is always in his hands any place I go.” One man stood at the front of the church and was pointing a weapon at Ned. “Now your life is in my hands. You will give me that box you have been carrying and be quick about it.” “That my man is not going to happen. I don’t fear you or that weapon your carrying in the least. You’re a lost soul here and the ability you have to shoot me is little.” The man steadied the weapon and Ned was gone. He ran to the place where Ned had been and saw nothing. He and the box had vanished. Cindy had been very quick and before the man knew what happened he was on the floor. The security people were called in and the man taken out. Then the lights went out and came back with Ned standing where he had been before. No one had seen him leave or return and it did seem like a miracle to most. He had vanished into thin air and returned. But really he had used the old lift below where he stood. The slight flicker of lights played tricks with the eyes. It was just enough to stop your seeing what happened. “Brothers and sisters we need to follow the Creators laws as written now. I assure you that they are correct and in compliance in the standard text. Now that I have said what I know and believe I will be leaving you. May the Creator grant you peace and health.” He walked down carrying the book and Cindy fell in beside him. There was complete awe from everyone as they saw a bright glow all around these two people. It came from

no natural source and was so beautiful they could not stop looking. Everyone knew these two people were the Creators leaders here. At the hotel several of Ned’s friends came to apologize for what had happened. The man had been paid a large sum of money to take the book from Ned. He confessed to being paid five million credits to take it to a book dealer. That man had also been arrested. The intent was to sell the book to him for the fifty million credits he had offered. Both of course would serve long jail terms. There were many questions about the book and Ned just passed them off. He said he had not figured out how to open the box, so he was waiting for his technical people to look at it. That made sense and most let that one sit. Once home he ask John, Gorm and Simon to please come and see him. They reached his office at a little after one. Each of the men was surprised to see the others. “Now my friends my quest is over. In the box in front of me is the oldest religious text in existence. Now understand I did not pay for it as an old woman had held it for me until I came for it. At the dinner after one meeting I was approached and asked to go with her. I saw her ring and knew she was the one who had the book.” Simon looked at Ned and smiled. “Then the book does belong here.” “That may be Simon, but it also must be shared. The three of you are leaders of the same religion in your universes. For faith to work it must be shared. So each of you will see read and learn from the book. I have had a vault built here and each of us will have access to it. You will each have your hand scanned and your ring read. At anytime if I am here or not you will have access to the book. This has been made clear to me in my dreams.” John and Gorm smiled at Ned. “Where have you placed the vault Ned?” Gorm was curious. That made Ned smile as well. “Come with me and I will show you.” They walked down the hall to a steel door set into a wall. Here was a hand pad and each including Ned had their hands scanned. The door opened after the last scan on their ring into room that was richly carpeted, with a table and four leather chairs. He led them to a smaller steel door and it had a place for their rings to be inserted. Each did that and they were recorded. Ned then took out the box and took out the ring the woman had worn. “This was the old woman’s ring. It is the only one that will open this box. You will always find it in the storage vault on top of the box.” He placed the ring where the key slot was and the box opened. The light that came from the box was bright. “My sons I am grateful you have all come together for this. This book

is never to be copied or seen by any but the universe leaders of the religion. When you have doubts come and read my words and find answers. If you feel down, come and read it will lift your spirits. If you look for answers come and read, you will find them. This is the book of knowledge and what others have seen was not the real book. If other universes join your group they must be made welcome if the religion lives there. But understand you are my sons and I am well pleased with each of you.” The light dimmed and each man felt lifted. The book was removed from the box and passed man to man, so they could see it and read it. They spent well over half the day in that room and time flew by for them. “Ned I am so glad you started the quest for this and found it.” Gorm was beyond any feeling he had ever had. “It was always there for me Gorm. I just had to go get it.” Simon looked at Ned and wondered. “I heard you had a close call at that meeting.” “Not really Simon, I have been in that church many times as a very young man. I found a door no one knows of and a passage below the speaker’s area. There is a lift there that if you know where to push will drop you down to the passage. It happens so quickly that people cannot see your gone or coming up where you came from. So when the man confronted me I made him angry enough to make a mistake and dropped down to the passage. After Cindy took him down and he was removed I came back as I had left.” “People are still talking about that. But they also said the two of you had a glow that they could see as you walked out of the church.” “You saw the glow the box had here. I was holding the box close to me as we left. You can be sure the Creator wanted people to listen to what I had just told them. That was to obey the laws as written in the standard text. That the texts were right and need no one to interpret them. There is no room for big churches, donations and rich church leaders.” “That seems like very good advice to give someone who is feeling they know better than the Creator.” This made John smiles once more. “Well gentlemen this is our room and you are all free now to use it as you wish. When your here not even Faith will let anyone know. The moment you enter this room your in the Creators world and not ours.” Having one place where answers could always be found was nice. But just the four men sitting here together was a bond they had never felt before. “Just out of curiosity where did the table come from as I see it is very old?” This was a Simon type question.

“I bought the house where the old woman was the last widow. This was a table in that chapel they had. The cabinet sitting to the side of the vault was where this book was kept for many years. I have placed in our church many of the items from the old chapel. Most of the things date back hundreds of thousands of years ago. The building is now being renovated and will become a religious school. That is my gift to those who took me in.” Some way to these men that felt like the right thing to have done. The book was placed in its box and returned to the vault with the ring on top. The door was closed and the men left the room. Each had a feeling of belonging to a very select group. In every religious book were passages about the book of life. How it guided the righteous and protected the people. Most felt that it did not exist, but these four men knew it did. Many would kill to get their hands on it not knowing it would be of no value to them. The four were not yet ready to part company. John looked at Ned. “Ned did you learn answers to questions you had in there?” “Yes, I did and it surprised me. David and I have been worrying about two groups of men who migrated to the planets we opened. One group of five men and one group of ten. I know the five are no problem and the ten men are. But not just that I know where to look for their hiding place and what to expect when we get there.” “I have been worrying about some of the NOVA planets. The knowledge that they are a real problem and where that comes from hit me there.” Simon had heard this and now understood. “I was worried about my son as I have heard nothing from him. Now I know why and what is happening in that universe.” “Well my friends I was looking for the religious items my family had lost many years ago. I now know where they are and how to get them.” This Gorm had been looking for now for fifty years. “Like the book said my friends there are answers there for our questions. But right now I feel completely at peace with the entire universe.” That feeling was shared by all of them. But John had one more suggestion. “I would suggest we all sit down once a month and discuss our problems. It should be done in the room and that time will be ours. If we cannot find answers then we bring out the book.” It was agreed to do this the first working day of each month here. Ned said he would have breakfast set up in his office for them and they could then move to the room. This way they could get the general things covered before discussing problems. Each man was in agreement on this and it was set for a monthly meeting. Ned was pleased with the agreement and looked forward to have this brainpower looking at issues with him.

Simon saw this advantage as well. “Gentlemen I think we need to call this group the brain trust. Here we need to discuss the most difficult problems facing us. This is where we can use everyone’s sight to see what others cannot see. None of us except Gorm and John have had the ability for a second opinion. Our combined fleets are way more than any universe could throw at us. So our little band of human brothers here has some power to defend and protect each other. But my guess is we will be from time to time directed to fight in other universes for the Creator. So we had better get our own problems solved and quickly.” That seem like truth to all of them. Finally the men had to leave as all had commitments they had to keep. But they knew that one day a month would be a good one for everyone.

Chapter 15 The Hideaway David came into Ned’s office that morning wondering what was up? He had just been told to be there and nothing else. “Have I done something bad boss?’

Ned smiled at this. “No I just am going to give you some wisdom David.” “Well I can always use that.” “The five men who all have businesses forget them. They are no problem for you and it was just random chance that put them in the city. Now the ten cowboys are a real problem. You will find they have a cave that is very hard to find and is set with an alarm system if entered.” David looked at Ned wide eyed. “How in the world do you know this much?” “Well David who picked me for this job? Don’t you think I get a little help when I need it?” “It seems a lot more than I do boss. We were just starting to think may be the men in the city were OK. But we had only found a hunting camp where the ten seem to go. We can do a scan to find the cave and then look for a way to bug it.” “Just don’t enter by the way they do. There is nothing to stop you from tunneling into to the cave once you find it. Just make sure they cannot see where you do it from.” “This will make the search go very quickly for us now.” “They are no place close to moving yet. The big question they have is where is the planet computer located? It needs to be destroyed for them to stand a chance of any takeover. So if you play your cards right you can direct them to where it is not and catch them in the act.” “I think you have an idea your not sharing with me yet?” “Well if you stopped by and purchased a couple of sides of beef, for a crew working on the computer room in the mountains not far from there. It might direct them to go looking. We would have to build a dummy room for them to find. But it could be set up with us knowing exactly what they were doing and give us feeds. Make it hard to get to the entrance and then to get down to the area where they think the computer is. Place workstations in the outer area to give them the feeling the computer is behind locked steel doors. Ones that cannot be opened but would have to be blown in.” David was now getting the idea. “Do you think we can get all of them on record?” “No but we should get the dumbest ones. I am sure the engineer is not that dumb. He will go no place he does not feel completely safe. But in his cave he does feel safe and we can bug it some way.”

David was now into this game. “OK boss we will find it and then fine a way to bug it. We may be able to laser drill very fine holes and run optical cables down.” “You have the tools and technology. I am just warning you of what you face.” “That is far more than we knew before I got here.” “Keep me posted on what you find and do.” “That I will boss.” Ned now had passed on the knowledge he had been given. Of course he could never explain how he got it. People would just have to trust his insights. His next visitor was a surprise to him. One of the reporters who was also a church leader had come to Phoenix City to talk with him. Of course he did not know that Ned owned the paper he worked for. “What can I do for you?” “I was sent here to follow up on the story from the church.” “You do know here you have no rights? That your coming into my office without an appointment is against the laws here?” “No I had no idea what is or is not allowed here.” “Let me show you where the door is and I suggest you use it to return back to your home planet then.” “I can’t do that without my story Ned.” “Faith please get me the managing director of this mans paper.” The man came on the computer screen. “Yes Ned what can I do for you?” “Do you know one of your fool editors sent a reporter here to interview me, with no appointment or agreement by me to see them?” The man turned ash colored. “No I had no knowledge of that. I have issued an order that your not to be bothered in any way.” “Well I am highly bothered someone at the paper would try this tactic with me. I want an answer as to why this happened and this reported to be instantly recalled.”

“I will order the recall now. If he can hear me he is to leave at once and come to my office on his return.” Ned looked at the man who was now very worried. “You can leave now and report to the managing director of your paper when you get back home.” The man left the building quickly and headed for home. “Now I want to know why the man was sent if he was and by whom. I see something malicious here and want it nipped in the bud. The reporter was one of the church leaders at the meetings. I expect the editor is a non-believer who was looking to cause some trouble. If that is the case give the reporter his job and fire the editor.” “Yes sir I will get into it at once.” “Do not come down on the reporter as he was following orders he had been given. I want the one who sent him here.” “Yes sir and I will deliver that person to you.” “Just remember I am not very happy with this coming from a paper I own Hump. I trusted you to keep things running smoothly and this is not smooth.” “I will handle it and you will not be bothered again.” “Good day and I hope your good at hunting. You can be sure someone has taken cover by now.” Ned shutdown the computer terminal. He was not happy about this at all. This had Hump’s hands all over it and that concerned him. “Faith check to see who at the paper sent the reporter here. Get any documents on the assignment they have.” “I did that when I saw how angry you were. Hump sent the editor a note saying that a follow up would be good on the piece that reporter did yesterday. That any comments directly from you would help the article.” “Who do we have who could take Hump’s job?” “Why do you call him Hump?” “He used to complain all he ever did was hump loads for his mothers customers. So we as kids started calling him Hump.” “You have several very good editors that could be promoted. A couple of them knows who owns the paper.”

“Do we have a paper on some backwater planet that needs a director?” “I could move a good young one from a backwater paper to this one and move Hump there.” “Give it a day or two and make that move. Don’t cut his pay as long as he keeps his mouth shut. Tell him that is the condition to keep his income. But when friends stick you in the back they are no longer friends. I will take no more communications from him.” “Understood Ned and I will handle it.” That day Faith talked with several young aggressive paper managers. She found one who was very good and decided he was the one to replace Hump. The paper he was running was in a town of may be twenty thousand people. This was a true backwater and nothing printed here could bite Ned in any way. If the headline here was the world was coming to an end it would not improve sales at all. She advised the young man of what was expected of him on this new job. That keeping Ned from any adverse publicity was a major part of that job. But he would have a free hand in any political scandals that was found. His new salary impressed him greatly. This had been a step he was ready for. Hump was really unhappy when told of his change in jobs. But not to lose the income he had it was taken. Then the transport plates were set no to let him off the new planet. He would be locked in place for the rest of his life. David was on the hunt now. The scans had shown six caves in the general area of the hunting camp. He sent in six two person teams to scout each area. No one was to get close to the cave they were checking. It was just to look and see if anything showed up. Finding the grazing area for their horses was the key to which cave it was. There was a small box canyon behind the one cave and it had a gate that allowed it to be closed off. It had water and good grass, so the horses needed no human care. A couple of rock overhangs and trees provided shelter in any storm. The outhouse and fake campsite were also found. Rock here was a hard dolomite limestone and that was good for the team. They found several good sites to watch what they felt was the front of where the cave should be. Here feeds were set up that could never be found. For now there would be no sound, but for the center to be able to spot the men and see where they went into the cave was a step. Once all was set up they made tracks to their mountain camp. Here a large set of underground rooms was being built. The entire area was a good two square miles. It was not large enough for Faith, but these men would not know that. In two places they build narrow hallways that ran for half a mile. These ran to the control room and were able to be blocked off on each end.

The idea was that one group of men could be trapped in the last narrow hall and that would allow one more party to come down to rescue them. At the surface the entry door was electronic locks. This would test the engineer’s skills. Setting up feeds that could be seen was easy. But allowing one very small gap was more difficult. This had to look like it was done by accident. One crewmember had gone to the closest ranch and purchased two sides of beef. In talking to the rancher he had let drop they were adding to a computer area. When pressed for any more information the man simply said he could not discuss it. But he knew he was followed when he headed back to the worksite. This man was an easy one to spot as his horse looked like the size of a donkey under him. The meat was stored in the freezer in the underground area. They had already run tunnels that would allow security force people entry even during an attack. Built into the rock were troop quarters that would never be seen. The only way into or out of this area was through the computer rooms. All feeds went not only to security, but also to the troop area. Here a group of twenty robots would watch the many feeds for any information. Right now the man was watched and followed with his every move. This whole valley was bugged and nothing could move without being known. He was allowed to see the final pour of concrete at the front of the bunker. You could see there was no way to cut or blast through the concrete. It just had too much reinforcing steel in it. But the door that was set into the entry was unique. It had electronic locks and you just needed the very long code to put into it. Now he spent the night between sleeping and watching. The next morning he headed back home. They had a meeting in two days at their safe place. So he sat in the field and drew a map of the valley. He noted everything he could remember. But he had been the one to find the computer and he felt good about that. David had enjoyed the watching of the man. He was not nearly as good as he thought. His horse had been injected with a tracker so he would be easy to follow. The other animals would get theirs at the next point they were released into the box canyon. Several dozen small spider like devices had been built to send down a natural vent from the cave. You could see smoke had been coming from this vent. There were carbon deposits and small amounts of grease on the rock. That meant this went down to where they cooked. The small spiders got down the shaft and spread out over the complex. No one would pay them the least bit of attention, as they were normal for this type cave. But sitting on the ceiling of a room they could see and hear anything.

Now the teams pulled back and sat in areas where they were safe from sight. None could remember having more fun at any job they had done. Only twelve were left to run the observation post. Four would always be on duty and eight off. No one would get too stressed out and all would be rested if needed. One trooper was a sniper and always protecting the base camp. Two followed the feeds and listened to any voices. The fourth on duty made sure the others had food, coffee and provide breaks to allow them to work the muscles or use the restroom. Right at the moment it was boring work. That would change when the cave had people in it. The sound was so good that you could hear a flies wings as it went through the air. The main room with the table and chairs he three spiders there. Every document handed around would be picked up and full size copies made. The disarming of the alarm system would be seen as well. They could see the cave was rigged to blow if anyone came in and did not know what to do. They had time on their side, so when they knew everything about the system they then would go look. That day the engineer got there first. He let his horse go into the box canyon and took the saddle and gear into the cave. The electronic device was aimed at the cover over the cave entrance and a coded signal sent. The alarm was now deactivated. The number sequence was picked up. Then the man took out a second device and walked room to room. He was checking for any bugs. The spiders were not picked up, as they were a very directed signal. Nothing leaked downward and you had to be above them to catch their emissions. Any who dropped to the floor would shutdown until it was back on the ceiling. This done the man started a fire in the stove filled a pot with water and waited for the water to boil. It took a good amount of time for the stove to get hot enough. Finally he made coffee and sat back to drink a cup. The fire was dropping the dampness of the cave. But he worried about something he could not explain or even put words to. There was just something he knew did not fit here. Two men walked in and pulled his attention away from the worry. They both got a cup of coffee and sat at the table with the engineer. “I had a man come by the ranch a couple of days ago to buy beef. He said that it was for a crew working on a computer building. Then he clamed up like he had said more than he should have. I let him and his wagon get a good start and follow him into the mountains. They were adding space to a large underground facility. So I watch for a day and then headed home. Here is a map for the location and one of the above ground layout there.” The maps were given to the engineer and he studied them “Why does this say no way to blast into the facility?”

“The concrete was a good two feet thick with steel bars every six inches. It was not the normal type reinforcing steel either as it was very shiny. The steel was closely set together and braced between layers.” The engineer nodded his head. “That is good information. How large was the construction crew?” “I counted twenty of them, but I am sure more I never saw were there. They were staying in the building below ground and some I am sure were working below ground.” “How hard is it to get where this building is without being seen?” “Not all that hard really. But I noted over ten different points where there were video feeds. By triangulating these I found a very small gap in there coverage. That needs to be double checked, but I am sure that small space exists.” “Your notes say there is an electronic door lock set up.” “I watched the man punch in a code that must have been twenty digits long. Once he had done that the door just swung open on its own.” “Could you see inside that?” “No but I really did not need to. It just opens on a stairway going below ground. The upper part is no more than six feet square.” Two more men came in and got coffee and sat down. They were quickly brought up to speed. “This helps your groups part of the plan. The search committee can now spend their time on watching this site. Your to keep this between just the four of you. The rest of our group does not need to know about this yet.” “How long do we watch this place?” One of the rougher men asked. “Until I am sure we know everything there is to know. As I have said before we are broken into three groups so no one but me knows everything. If one of you is picked up there is no way to get all the information. There is no law against watching this facility. I am sure the government has no idea anyone knows about it outside them.” That seemed to calm the men. “What do you want us to find out?” “We need to know just how well it is protected, where a group could come from and not be seen. I will work on handling the locking devices. But we need an attack team and one to assume the government once we are finished. Once your job is done here you will be given the plans to take over the government. Those are being worked out by another group.”

One man looked at the engineer oddly. “Can just four men do that?” “No but six can and will.” They got up and started cooking and drinking. These men were rough and enjoyed conspiracy. Being involved in something like this raised their own feelings of value. Had they directed this same effort at working their ranches, they would have been very successful. The data was piling up and copies of the maps were now stored. Security people were enjoying this, as it was a great training ground on how things like this were planned. The engineer was no trusting soul and his sweep of the cave had shown how careful they would need to be. He had known no one had been in the cave but his own people and yet did the sweep. He trusted no one and that included his people. Ned had followed some of the events and was pleased with the security department’s work. They had taken no risks and allowed things to move as they would. The person who had developed the spiders deserved a reward. That this bug was a bug someone could see and pay no attention to was nice. It would be very handy for many uses.

Chapter 16 The Five Old Men A security team walked up to the men on the park bench and stood there. “What do you want please?” One of the men asked.

“We would appreciate it if you five would come with us and have a talk.” “Are we being arrested?” “Not at all we know who you are and your backgrounds. So we are not hiding that. But we need some of your help and decided to just ask for it.” The men looked at each other and finally one shrugged his shoulders. They follow the security team to their main building. They were led to a large room and offered coffee and rolls. Then David came into the room and introduced himself. “Now let me clear the air. Your not under any investigation in any way. But we are checking out some old friends of yours.” Here he slid pictures of the ten men to the first man and they were passed around the table. “Not a very nice group.” One man said. “What can you tell us about them? Anything said here remains secret and will not ever be used in any court.” The five men looked at each other and without a word agreed to talk. “I guess that I am the one who knows most about them. So I will talk and my friends can add to my words as they see fit.” “That is fine with me.” David sat back to listen. “I worked many years ago with the engineer and that is all he had ever been called. I would not know his name if you told me. The other nine are his muscle and do any dirty work he needs done. The one time he was arrested this man did the killing and made it look like an accident.” He had pointed to a large man who had followed the wagon to the mountain. “Now the engineer had dreams of assuming power on our home planet. He approached each of us before we migrated and ask of our interest and we all turned him down. Those days are long gone and he just does not yet see that. We made sure that we did not go to the same planet he did. Frankly we are doing so much better as honest businessmen than we ever did as crooks. None of us have to look over their shoulders any more.” “How is he get the ten men on the same planet?” “That was the easy part as all five of us came here. If you could prove you were family then they allow you to migrate to the same planet. It just happens we are all related. But in the engineers case he just purchased documents that show his people were all family. I am sure none of the names they came under are real.”

“That was the really odd part as they did use their real names.” “Then someone was paid to handle it. I would guess they by now are dead.” “I assume he leaves no witness behind?” “Never has and never will. Most don’t even know his family background. His grandfather was the planet leader before the planet was freed. The old man was jailed and died there before his trial. The engineer killed many people who were to testify against his grandfather. By my best guess I would say there were at least fifty on his list.” That was a lot of dead bodies. “So he has no reservations about killing?” “Not one in any way. There are few who would ever work with him. Other than the nine men you have in these photos that follow him like he was God. They always did his dirty work and would never turn on him. Not one of those men has less than twenty deaths on their hands. That was why we went to great pains not to be where he was. We get together each day and enjoy discussing our business and lives now. Money is in good supply as were are all doing well, so life for us is very good.” “I wondered about your morning meetings. But saw no harm in them and left you alone.” “We noticed your observing us and wondered when you would talk with us? Of course we knew here we had done nothing wrong. But were waiting to be sent back to our old planet for something.” “That I assure you will not happen. When you came here you received a new slate. It is clean of any sins and what you do here is all that counts.” That seemed to relax the men. “Then you need to know that the engineer always in the end kills those who serve him. He trusts no one but himself and even seems to question that? If your keeping tabs on him he will some how know it and end whatever he is doing. I cannot tell you how he knows, but have seen it before. He had a plan to steal the gold from the planet vault and someway found out that he was being watched. Nothing close mind you, but he felt it. The others involved were killed before anyone could question them and each looked like an accident.” “I expected he had a second sense to him. It is also known he does not trust his own men. But I wonder how he gets those feelings?” “Once I asked his grandfather and he said the dark side owned his soul. That he could foresee things no one else could. That old man was even afraid of his own grandson.” That David was sure could exist and knew men that had sold their souls for power. “Our worlds are filled with both good and evil. Some fit on one side and some on the other. But

evil has always been with us. The creatures respected men like him and protected them. They were also from that dark side.” You could see these old men shiver. “We all did some bad things in our lives. But none of us killed anyone or hurt any but the rich. Now each of us has found new meaning in life and have turned to the church here. There is much to be said for being at peace with ones self.” “Gentlemen thank you for your time and honest answers. If my office can be of help to you feel free to contact me.” He shook hands with these men and left. “For thinking we were in deep trouble this has been pleasant. I for one am seeing a different side of the law.” The men agreed with this feeling and left the room. David walked into Ned’s office and sat down. “Well boss we have a small problem. This engineer has that second sense of when he is watched. I was told that he has sold his soul to the dark side.” Ned considered this and could see it. “Pull your people back and let them work from the control room in the mountains. I have heard that it is the close presents of humans that is felt. When he is not there fell free to add or retrieve the bugs. But stay away when he is there.” David was not sure how Ned knew this and was not about to ask. “That we can do and it will not stop anything.” “Now who ever came up with that cute spider trick should get rewarded. That was slick as anything I have seen.” “The nice part is they are real spiders. If one gets stepped on it will crush and show its insides.” “How in the world did that happen?” “One of the biologist who was working on a ship started playing with them. It at first was just a game for her. But they each have microelectronics inserts that show you what they see. Then she added a sound pick up to the shell of the body. These were tested over many months on her ship. She liked to play a game with friends. All were challenged to hide one secret at home and she would tell them what that was. It had to be both on paper and verbally said out loud one time.” “I assume she bugged their house before making that challenge?” “Yes and she won every bet. Finally one security office saw what she was doing and nailed her. She was brought to me and knew she was in big trouble. But I put her to work for us and she has done some great things. We have more real bugs than you can think of.

I have bees that fly around and show me what they see. I have grasshoppers that listen to things said by hiding people. No one pays any attention to a real bug or even a mouse. She is my secret weapon and she is very good at building me unusual tools.” “She does need to be rewarded for her work. But it needs to be done in secret and not discussed. Do you have any suggestions?” “Yes she would like a new lab with all the newest equipment. We had to assemble the one she now uses from old equipment. She also works alone and needs a staff to teach and train. But most of all she needs a great electronics person.” “She will have it all David. But how does she get them to do as she wants them to?” “It has something to do with stimulating the pleasure or pain senses. When they do as she wished they feel pleasure and if not pain.” “Do they still eat?” “Spiders still spin webs and bees still look for pollen. We build a nest for the bees and spiders live alone except to mate. Doing most natural things gives them pleasure.” “But how do you get the signals?” “She uses the electrical power each has in their own body. We have to have very sensitive pick ups that boost power and send the signal received. Those were much harder to place for that cave than in the open. But by boring down with a laser we got seven sensors that can pick up the signals and send them to a transponder. In all we get twenty-one feeds at a time.” “Make sure she is happy and well taken care of. One day bring her to my office as I would also like to thank her.” When David left he was very pleased. He had an open checkbook for a new lab and now more help. Finding the electronics person was going to be the hardest issue. They had to be able to work at levels not before hear of. Of course Sandy would have to pick her own people. She was a little odd and her people would have to see things her way. He called her down to his office and gave her the news. It caused her face to completely light up. “Do I get to make a list of the equipment I would like to have?” “Yes, I was told by Ned to get you anything you wanted.” “But I am not so sure about training other people. I would not mind doing that, but most people and I don’t get along. At least when it comes to my work.”

“You interview them and it is your decision if they get hired. I would suggest you look at people who are not the type to run with crowds. People who are very committed to science advancement. Tell the school that your will interview no one without perfect grades. Once here to interview show them one of your creations and see how they react to it. They will have signed a secrecy agreement so they could never talk about what they see.” “I would rather show them a plain bee and ask how it could be made to become a camera. If they can get hold of that idea then may be show them more.” “That is your choice Sandy do it how ever you wish. But we need far more of these new tools than you could possibly make. Your going to need help to do your job. The fact of getting you a very good electronics engineer is high on my list. They will have to be able to work at levels so small most would feel it was not possible.” “If I had not taken a course in microelectronics I would never have found what I did.” “You need someone who you can tell what you need and they can build it.” She sighed at this and knew it was true. “I spend most of my time now building that type of implants. So yes that would be the biggest help to me.” “Talk to Faith and see if she can help you find what you need. She understands your technology better than anyone else.” “That is how I will handle it she can prescreen and just send me those she thinks might fit. I hate talking to people who just can’t see this as real science. I know more about how insects think and act than anyone else.” That David could not disagree with. “When I get your list I will start bringing in equipment. You new lab will be the entire basement floor of this building. Just three people will be allowed to visit that area.” “Good as the less people coming in the better. I also like the darker area as natural day light does cause me some problems with a few insects.” If there was ever a real nerd Sandy fit that description. She was so driven to learn what made an insect tick she would spend weeks studying just one of them. Once she saw things she would attempt to force them to do it on command. She had told him it took her three years to get her spiders working. The people on site pulled back to the mountain control room. It did not take long for the engineer to calm down and become more normal. Just getting the security force personnel who had been two miles away showed a change. They decided to use a robot to insert or remove any of their bugs.

In two days they had at least one man watching the site in the mountains. The construction crew finished their work and left. There were lights that could be tripped at night and many animals did that. But it never happened in that small area that had been seen the first time. No guards showed up or patrolled the grounds. No antennas showed up for sending signals. One man had seen a sign warning of biohazards. This was to be seen as safe lab for science if needed. Automated equipment kept the lawns cut and there was no cover for two hundred feet around the entry point. One night without a moon the man who had first seen this site crawled down and followed the path he felt was safe and placed markers as he went. They were embedded in the grass but with glasses could be seen. He made it all the way to the door and turned and worked his way back. Now they could at night see the path to get to the door. The markers sent out and inferred light and could be seen with ease at night. The sun recharged them each day and they would last for years. But the satellite above this base saw them as well. Now the security people knew this group was one step closer to moving. One day a man came on the transport plate beside the building and walked to the door. He punched in the code and when it opened he walked inside. A small machine sitting on the side of the hill picked up the code. If they got the same code a second time then it would be a pretty sure bet it did not change each visit. If it changed then they would need enough information to have a good guess at what the next number would be. The hope was that it would not be random. They did see that a man came twice a month and always carried a 5 gallon can of something with him. It was full when he came and empty when he left. The group was sure it was not just water as that could be gotten from a well or even the air. So it had to be some kind of nutrient needed by the computer. This meant that each trip would be around fifteen days apart. So for three months they saw the same code each time and that settled that issue for them. Now the security force knew the entire plan and they had watched each group do their surveillance. Of course they were looking at the wrong place each time. The department had let things be dropped where it had been heard that caused misdirection. Then they reinforced those beliefs by showing what was expected to be seen. The counsel meeting room where one group watched the meeting was not the normal one used. But they had agreed to use it for two months at the request of the security people. Only a few meetings had been watched by the group. Once they felt sure this was the right place they stopped coming. Robots had been built to look like each member for the counsel. These at the right time would be used to make the meeting seem real. The people in attendance would be security force personnel and they would be ready to stop any attack.

The police station could not be changed or made to look different. This was to be bombed and it had to be allowed to happen. But most of the police would be across the street the day it happened. Robots would be the ones in the building to handle the attack. To make this work a tunnel had been built under the road out front to the building directly across the street. When the police chief got the word he was to move his people and fast. Now the defense was complete and they just needed the day and time. That would come soon enough.

Chapter 17 Misdirection

Finally the day for the attacks came and people were getting ready at many points. The troops in the mountain had been ready for months and bored with the job. That all went away quickly. Now there were fifty down in the rooms that were supposed to be computer rooms. Everyone who entered the complex would never leave as free men. If any stayed outside they would be picked up quickly. As soon as the entire group was inside the zone a force field would come up. At that point no one was leaving. That field covered every bit of land that the site could be seen from. The meeting was scheduled and robots looking like the counsel ready to perform. At the police they were told what time to leave their building. The time chosen for the attack was a shift change to get the most people at one hit. Twenty robots were staying inside the police station and another one hundred were outside. Each had personal force fields and stun guns. They could not be hurt and could stop anyone dead in their tracks. The big question was where would the engineer be? He had assigned his people jobs but never said where he would be. But the guess was close to where power could be assumed. Finally he booked a room at a local hotel. He wanted a suite and it was not far from the place they felt the counsel would meet. The suite he had asked for was specially prepared for him by the security service. He would never walk out of it on his own. He had told everyone to expect to move when communication went dead. They were to stay connected to each other and move when that was lost. That would signal the computer was down. He arrived at the hotel and looked over the rooms and asked for another. This had been expected and taken care of. Now he was sitting and watching the start of the meeting of the counsel. A bottle of wine was opened and he toasted his plan. He could feel nothing close to him and it made him feel secure. The signal to the meeting was now gone and nothing showed on the screen. He changed feeds and there were none. That made him smile. He picked up his communicator and there was no connection at all. He knew he had won this one. He walked to the outside patio and could not get the door to open. So he stood and watched the attack on the counsel moving forward. He saw three armed men running into the building and waited to see if any people came out. His orders were to kill them all. As the three men ran into the counsel chambers they started firing. But no one was falling. It was like they were shooting blanks. They looked at each other and then saw people with drawn stun guns surrounded them. They just dropped their weapons. At the police station two charges were tossed in and exploded. It did not bring the building down, but did a lot of damage to the inside. Three men came running in firing at anything they saw. But stopped when they saw twenty men standing pointing stun guns at

them. They knew these men had been hit many times, but not one drop of blood could be seen. Then men were coming in behind them. They were disarmed and cuffed. The crew at the complex never got further than the first hall. The door behind them closed and the one in front as well. They knew that if they tried to blow either door the blast force would crush them. They got together and pulled the cord. They were blown to small pieces. In the suite the door opened and David walked in. The engineer had pulled his weapon and started to fire. But was hit by a stun gun. He was cuffed and moved to the security force head quarters building on Phoenix. The other six men also were brought here. The doctor was ready for each of them. The engineer was pumped with drugs and slowly begin to tell his story. No one cared if they burnt his brain they wanted to close many files on the old planet. He talked for three days before he was done. Of the six everyone talked and admitted to many crimes. There now was enough evidence to close well over six hundred cases. With these men there were no trials and they were moved to plots for them to either grow their own food and live or kill themselves. The six did just fine, but the engineer was a broken man. He slowly got less and less active each day. One day he just stopped breathing. His body was burned and his ashes were sent into a sun. That Wednesday the brain trust met. It was the first working day of the month and they were ready for another day together. As they ate breakfast Ned told them the story of the engineer. How Sandy had created bugs that were real bugs. “Would she be willing to train someone at Alpha University to handle that for us?” John was very interested. “The same for me Ned on Omega. That could be an answer to many problems we have.” He called for David to bring Sandy to his office. She walked in and did not look at anyone. “Sandy I am Ned and I want to congratulate you on your work. I was discussing it with John, Simon and Gorm of our sister universes. Both John and Simon asked if you would be willing to train someone for their universities?” The young girl looked shocked. “I would be pleased to do that if they have someone able to take it seriously. Here we interviewed two hundred before we found two who saw this as good science.” John looked directly at her. “Young lady it is very serious science. It is so far out front of the rest as to make much of what is being done of no use. I assure you anyone I send or that Simon would will be willing to learn from you and want that chance.”

“You also need to send someone very skilled at microelectronics and willing to work at atomic levels. To make a bug a bug they must have very small electronics packages installed without killing them. The optics nerves are very small and require connections at that size level. The brain stimulus points are also very small. So you end up doing brain surgery on the head of a pin.” “May I say Sandy that your accomplishments are way beyond any humans, I have seen to this point in my life. Now I have only been around for one hundred years, but I have seen many great accomplishments. Yours out strips any of them.” Simon was very good at making people feel good about themselves. “I will try to train one in the anatomy of the insects and one in the electronics side for each of you. But it does take someone with better hands than most surgeons have. Your operating looking through a microscope. I lost thousands of specimens before I learned how to do it.” “How long did it take you to get your first success?” John wanted to know for his own reasons. “I worked three years before it worked well. Now that I have the lab I need I am getting far better results. Faith found me a young man that is a genius at the electronics. He has made improvements I never could have made.” “Well I would be willing to send you two I assure you will listen and learn. For your doing this for Simon and I, we will make a gift of a atomic microscope to your lab. That will allow you to see at the single atom level. It may allow you to take the next step in your work.” This was way beyond her dreams. “I did not know that existed.” “Alpha developed it and is the only place they are made. Our research and development depends on them. We used to work at the nano level and now we are at atomic levels. I of course will send you a technician to train yours and your people. Our electronics person will already be working at the atomic level and may be able to show you some new things as well.” “When can I expect to see these people?” “On Monday of next week if that is OK with you?” “That is fine and I look forward to working with them.” She left the room in a total mood of euphoria.

David shook his head at this. “I have never seen her so happy. She never wants people coming into her labs. Getting her to train two new helpers and use an electronics man was work for me.” “David for me I meant just what I said and I am sure Simon did as well. That girl is a real genius and that does not happen often. She may be the only one you ever see. But her technology could have far reaching applications. Not just for spy games, but to destroy one group of insects on a world where they cause problems. They might allow for better bees to pollinate more efficiently. If some pests could be taught to not like certain plants they are no longer a pest. There is much new knowledge in her discovery. So far she has just scratched the surface of it.” “I had not seen it in that way. But I am sure your right and there are millions of applications possible.” David was impressed with how quickly John had seen these next areas. “Look son people like her are the ones who open new worlds for the rest of us. John and I know how to expand knowledge and make it work for us. Now you take good care of that young lady.” Simon had David’s attention. Ned knew just what they saw here. ‘David she did not get her new lab for just making spy bugs. Faith has given her a couple of projects for me and she is making great headway on them. With her if it is unknown knowledge and she will be the first to know the answer, it will cause her to drive herself to find an answer.” “In this company I am way out of my class. I am just the spymaster and enjoy that little area.” He headed back to his office. The men went into the room and brought out the book. As they sat and discussed problems facing them answers came quickly. They as separate universes decided to form one fleet of ships for all universes to use as back up. Each would contribute one hundred ships and that would create a fleet of three hundred large starships. To keep their people sharp each part of the fleet would operate in the others universe. But it could be called together to fight as one unit. It would be the universal fleet. That settled they moved on to new problems they had. That was better communication between their universes. This was a sticky one as there was no way to assure at anytime of reaching each other. “If you look in the box you will find your answer. There are four necklaces in there and they will allow communications between the four of you always.” The voice had been soft and not over powering as before. As Ned reached in he felt the chains and brought them out. They were of gold and had a medallion on each. The surface of that was a flat white stone. They each put one on them and looked at the stones and could see the others in them. “Your voices will also be

transmitted as the face will be. Just say who you need to talk with and when their face appears talk with them.” The necklace was very light and did not seem to weigh anything. But they all knew this would work for their needs. “Now the last issue for today. I need help with the NOVA planets. Gorm knows how much they have been pushing the Federation. Now that they are broken into fifteen pieces they are feeling powerful. We have destroyed several plants set up to build spacecraft. This is making them angry.” Ned considered this for a time and knew he had faced a similar problem. “The eight that tried it here no longer have planet computers. Once I pulled the computers physically off the planets they had to go back to their old ways of doing things. Every computer is leased and we have the right to take it back. Seeing as you placed them on those planets I assume you do have a lease?” “Yes, but that would start a war I think.” “It did not here when the other planets saw we meant business. No ship today can fight without a computer. No planet can have a good life for its people without one. The first eight got ten years without a computer and the rest were told the next group would get twenty. That stopped the issue dead.” Gorm smiled at this and knew Ned was right. “John your back to being way to nice. These are the same people who wanted to destroy your ten planets. If you don’t want to remove them I will be glad to do it.” John saw Gorm was right. “OK I am too nice and is that bad?” “Look John there is only room in any universe for one set of laws. Those of us here follow the Creators laws. That set tells you if people are placed at risk not to defend is wrong. Your people and most of the other planets are at risk. Don’t act with anger, just tell them how it is going to be and follow up.” Ned was sure of himself here. “I see your point and can accept it that way. The warning will be sent out today. Any planet or group that supports building ships for space will lose their planet computers. I am sure that will not be taken serious until it happens.” John knew his people well in the universe. “It was not taken serious here until then. But once they saw I meant what I said they stopped trying me. Your more experienced than I am, but one thing I learned was make the decision and live with it.” That caused a smile on John’s face. “I used to have the same way of looking at things. All the experience did was wear me down.”

“But you only have to deal with a few hundred planets. Here I have twenty-three hundred plus and they are always unhappy about something. For me any more I could care less about what they are unhappy about. They know the rules and it is live by them or suffer. That is their choice which happens.” “Those John are words from a wise young man and you need to listen well.” Gorm was pleased with Ned’s way of seeing things. The rest of their time was reading the book and learning more of how original life developed. That was always a period of learning for them. Nothing was just what it seemed and unlike any school explanations. In late afternoon the men broke up and headed back home. It had been a good day for them and brought them all closer together. With a new way for them to communicate and some added knowledge of mans beginnings. Life was really very simple at the base level, but it had grown more complex as man aged in his environment. The human mind was always searching for new knowledge and not satisfied with where it was. Ned sat in his office and drank tea from the cup on his desk. His mind was relaxed and he could see so much more than when he was under pressure. Then in a flash he knew that placing himself in that position closed off many options. He needed to listen and gather facts before making a move. Action needed to come from a calm understanding of the issue. Then without emotions he could respond in a very surgical way. This thought process led to his understanding that most problems came from not understanding the issue. Often fast reactions made the problem worst not better. Had he waited and watched a little longer they may have just solved themselves. That was very much like what David had done in this last incident. He did nothing aggressive and let them come to him. Just watched and listened to the group then let them force a response. He would attempt to use this method and see how it would work for him. It would be a learning process and he was sure not comfortable at first. His nature was to react to any problem and do it now. But that might make life far more enjoyable just watching and waiting. At the moment he knew that here there was no power that could defeat his ships. So he did have a safety net below him. Cindy walked in and looked hard at Ned. “You have a grin on your face that says wisdom found a place to rest. What did you find?” “I am going to try to change how I deal with problems. Right now I tend to just react. That just does not allow seeing the real issues at times. We often have been solving a problem that was no problem. That is until we made it one. Problems have far deeper roots and what surfaces may not be connected to the root at all. So I am going to try sitting back and gather data for a good time before doing a thing.”

This seemed to be a good change in Cindy’s way of seeing things. “I deal with leaders now everyday. Their real complaints are all most never what came out at first. We may end up discussing their issue several times before the real one shows up. For me I don’t assume any problem is the real one, until I have talked with them at least five times. I never take a confrontational position with them. But I ask tons of questions to let me understand their side of what they called about. Often just listening to them solves the problem. So I see what you want to do. But for me it was just a questioning mind.” He had lost a lot of that in his time as leader of the universe. “For some reason in this job you lose sight of what worked for you before. It has gotten to the point where I don’t think out many things before responding. This has made me understand John’s actions or lack of them. My problems are ten times what his are and I was headed the same way. One thing I see is I don’t have enough people involved in decision making. I need more view points to search for small pieces of answers.” “How will you solve that?” “I am going to have Sam, David, Peter and you sit with me each week and review problems that are being looked at. My thoughts are unimportant, but the four of you need to toss out ideas. For me to see what you do, it will help me open my own eyes. David is very focused on planning, Peter is focused with the laws. Sam is very organized at construction and you deal with the leaders every day. You each will see things from very different points of view.” “That should help you gain some insight, but will not answer your questions.” “I am not looking for answers at that point. What I really need is ideas to work with. With rare exception the problem will allow study and be no worst after it than before. If it needs attention at once then I am sure you four will say so. But for now I need time to workout these things in my own mind.” It seemed like it would do no harm and might produce some results not expected. “I am willing to try it and see how it works. But now we have a child waiting at home for us.” They left the office and headed home. Ned walked through the winery and sampled some of the wines now ready for bottling. His stock now being aged was over half a million bottles. Orders had been filled for table wines, as they did not age them the same way. So this was producing income now. The expected output of the winery was over half a million bottles a year and five thousand gallons of table wine each year. A unique dispenser had been made for these wines to keep them fresh. The package was in two-gallon lots. It was a metal container with glass lining, a small cylinder was inside that released an inert gas inside as wine was drawn. This way no oxygen came in contact with the wine. A restaurant could have the

wine being used for months if they wished. Each was charged for the container when it was purchased and credited for it when returned. One manufacturing plant made these containers and they cost ten credits each. The gas dispenser was rechargeable and the container could be cleaned and sterilized. It was a very neat package and worked well. Restaurants loved it, as there was no waste. The wine sold for twenty credits per two-gallon container plus the container fee. Many homes had wanted to order them, but production was limited on quantity. Later this would not be the case. His goal was to produce five hundred thousand gallons a year of table wines. But this would require buying grapes from other farms. So until they were producing he was limited now. Just puttering around in the winery was enjoyable for him. He could see doing this work all day. That made him hope one day not to be sitting in his current job. His decisions touch so many people’s lives, that he was not always comfortable with his actions. Here he knew that someone would have to make that decision if he was not doing it. Many would see that as power and that was not true. It was a heavy load of responsibility. More often than he liked his decisions hurt lives of people he did not know. Like closing off the eight planets. That still was not a thought he cared to dwell on. He was called for dinner and went to wash up. Once at the table the food was good and his son an enjoyment for him. Now he was becoming more active and curious about things. Watching him attempt to pick things up showed how slowly humans learn simple tasks. This would take months to master the skill and be able to complete it each time the same way. Here he knew his learning curve would not be a lot better with the changes he was making. But his son had patience and keep at it until he succeeded. That he would also need to do.

Chapter 18

Checks and Balances The day started with the meeting looking at current problems. That went very well and Ned saw something’s he would have missed. Having more input and ideas helped him think out how best to approach the issues. His computer Faith did not supply him the same type of data Hope did for John. Hers was a completely different personality as was each DNA computer. But the morning meeting was always a learning period for her. Having so many different ways to see things at first was confusing. But as she saw how they tied together it started to make sense. Of course Ned never made a decision out of any opinion he was given. Those seemed to come from pieces of those and his own which he never discussed. In these meetings he did not want to color others views. So by keeping his own opinion to himself he was able to hear out the others ideas. Her one regret was the way she had taken Ned to task over doubts. It had placed a divide between them. Now he never showed any question of a decision being right or wrong. Someway she knew she had to fix this gap. The question was how to do this? After the meeting Ned took a walk and went down to the water. He saw the female officer he had been out on the lake with and went to her boat. “How about a ride today?” “I would love to do that Ned. Jump on and we will head wherever you would like.” “Today I just need some water time and to think. For some reason being out there I am at complete peace.” She knew well that feeling and headed out into the lake. They just rode along the shoreline may be half a mile off it. There were deer drinking and many wildfowl sitting in the calm waters. He saw it all, but nothing in great detail. Today he had a nagging worry that something was coming and he had no idea what? The hour he spent on the water had been nice. “Thank you for the ride and time to think.” “Your always welcome and I enjoy just watching you think out your problems.” Ned appreciated her willingness to be the taxi driver for him. She also never talked once they left the dock. He was just left to sit at the back of the boat and do as he wished. The boat was large enough that she could not be seen when he was sitting at the back seats. The boat was driven from a bridge well above the main deck. But he knew she could see him with her video screens. With the day so nice he walked the park and sat for a time watching the young people play ball.

John walked up and sat down beside him. “You’re a hard man to catch up with. If the officer had not suggested the park I would still be looking for you.” “Why do I feel I am not going to like this visit?” “Because you are not going to like it.” “OK let me hear the bad news.” “No bad news just a big problem that we all need to address. Simon is now done with the other universe and has completed his job. He has assured his father and me that there are no creatures left in it. But he has also not found one human he would leave in power.” That was not good and he knew this. “How can there not be one person who could lead them?” John decided to tell it the way Simon had. “He said that the universe was like the Wild West on the old Earth. Most planets did not have much of a government and where they did, they only controlled a small part of the planet. Populations were small and technology was not advanced enough to fight a war between planets.” “What did he give them to start the technology moving forward?” “Not a thing as he was concerned about the radical groups. According to him the planets need a sheriff, religious leader and a good judge all wrapped in one.” Ned considered this idea and saw a possible way out. “What if they had say had three different people who all acted together?” John had stopped at the one man issue and not moved forward. “Give me an example?” Say we three supplied one person for each job. One person to be judge, one for religious leadership and one to be the sheriff and bring order. If they don’t have many planets settled it would not take a big fleet at first to support them. But the three would have to have robot troops to act as police. They could train good people they found to work with them.” This had some merit and might even work. “He said they had just over three hundred planets. Those were all in one quadrant of the galaxy. But he had to check every planet that could support life to assure the destruction of the creatures.” “That is less than ten percent of my planets today. If the planets are as wild as Simon says then changing things will be slow going. But I know of no person I could support to assume that job. Now if you asked for one of those three jobs I could think of someone for each of them. But over the years people were taken from here where did they all go?”

John turned this over and liked it. “It is kind of a check and balance system. What is done must be with in the Creators laws, then be put in motion by the sheriff and judged by the law. I can think of people who would fit one of those jobs as well. If each of us appoint one person to be the governing body for the universe we all have a vested interest.” “The hard part will be all must agree before they can move forward. Every action must be balanced and that will not be easy. We cannot send in cowboys of our own. So they must start with a few planets at a time and work from there.” “That means some will have a lot of people die for no good reason.” “But if you attempt to work on all of them the same thing will happen just over more planets. But once more where are all the people moved from here?” That was most likely right. “I want Simon to sit with you and I and discuss this. He will be here in a few minutes time.” They walked back to Ned’s office. Neither man said a word and just walked and thought. In the office Simon was waiting and he was grim as well. “I see the two of you thinking. What ideas have you had?” “Ned suggested setting up a triumvirate of one religious leader, one judge and one to act as sheriff. I am sure each of us has one person who could serve that way. The only way for action to happen is if all agree. There should be no split votes in these matters. He also keeps asking where all the people from here went to??” Simon considered this and saw some logic here. “I could live with that if we could get it to work. Having three people all see anything the same way would be hard. Now for the peoples low populations. Many died after the suspended animation. It did much damage to bodies and cost we think about seventy five percent of those moved.” This was shocking to both John and Ned. But they had other issues to handle now. “Each person appointed should be the responsibility of the person appointing them. If they fail to act properly they would be recalled and replaced. No one should see this as a permanent job. It is an appointment for a term that is open ended. Their job is to find one human that could one-day led this universe. It could mean taking a very young child and educating them and training them to handle the job.” Ned was sure this would over time work. Now this made even more sense to Simon. “Your idea is one I like. I was concerned we would set up a ruler.” “The people there came from here. So if I had someone I would not hesitate to offer them. But if we took several young people and educated them our way, then trained them

right we could have a good core group of leaders. One would have over all power. That I am sure the Creator would let us know of his preference.” Ned was following John’s old idea without know it. This was the best way to move forward. “I can see this working. But I feel we need a large group of young people to choose from.” Simon was pleased with this idea. “I have one complex with a shipyard not being used right now. It is fully equipped and still has living quarters. We can tow it there and start the building of three ships a year. For us we will also provide ten of the ships John gave us to go with it.” Ned made this offer to help. Then Simon and John agreed to twenty ships each from their fleets. Now there would be fifty ships for working with the problems. John also agreed to supply twenty-five thousand robots for a police force. This would allow over eighty for each planet. “I will finish out your force to allow one hundred police per planet. Now how do we decide who we should send?” Simon was wondering how this would workout? “From the church point of view I have an old friend I am sure would take the job for a time. I would need to extend his life, but he could return to Phoenix when he is done.” Ned knew his old mentor would be very good. “My son has a second in command that has proven to be very good. He would do nicely as a sheriff.” “I have several good judges trained by Abel and could supply one of them.” This made the decision work for each of them. They did not have to ask anyone to leave their universe for good. At worst they would be gone for around thirty years. “Once the first church is set up we could then place a transport plate for us to visit and talk with this group. The children in training need to get to know us as well. In future years we will be dealing with them.” Ned saw how important developing that bond would be. “I am not sure where the stone will come from?” Simon was always a worrier. “At the right time it will be provided Simon. Just have faith, as we have always gotten what the Creator saw we needed.” The meeting broke up and each now had a task to handle. Ned requested his old mentor to come see him. Thomas walked in and he was looking very old. “Glad to se you my friend. I have a request for you that I am sure your not going to like.”

This raised his eyebrows and he shook his head. “I have always been willing to do anything you ask of me Ned.” “How would you like to serve the Creator very closely?” “I have always served him as he saw fit.” “You will need to extend your life to do this and it is a big step. Once this task is done you will return to Phoenix and live out your life here.” “If I was sure that is what the Creator wanted I would do as he wished.” Ned walked him down to the room where the book was kept and let them both in. He removed the book of life and opened the box. The man had seen the box before at the meeting. Once the box was opened the light poured from it. “Thomas what Ned asks of you is my desire. He is one of just four men who have seen this book and listened to my demands. Now he has made you the fifth and you are worthy of that. The three universes are now firmly in my hands. Your being asked to assure the forth is as well. Reach into the box and draw out a necklace with a medallion.” Thomas did so and saw the unusual chain with stone. “This will allow you to communicate with Ned. Trust his judgment in all things. When the complex reaches the universe I will provide a stone for the church.” The light died and the room was quiet. Ned closed the box and placed it back into its vault. “Was that the Creators voice?” “Yes my friend it was. He chose me for this job and has Bless Simon Sr, John and Gorm. Each of us has fought for the Creator. This book of life does exist and it is now used by us to assure survival of all the people of every universe. We have much to discuss as where your going is a very hard place.” Ned walked the man to the clinic and had him scanned and given the shot. Then they went back to his office. “Now your new job is to be one of three who will rule that universe until we have a single leader. You will take in groups of very young children to educate and teach our ways. You will be the one to speak for the Creator in religious issues. There will be a judge to see that the laws are followed. The last will be the over the ships of the fleet, police on the ground and catching those who have broken the laws. Any decision must be agreed to by all of you. Your to look at any issue from the churches point of view. The judge from the laws point of view, and the action person from how best to get the job done.” “Are you saying this universe is at war?”

“Yes as all are today. The good is always fighting evil. There you are going to find a lot of evil people. Your biggest job is going to be getting the church up and running with healthy people in charge. Think back and you will remember many radicals from the church were sent to this universe. So there are now many different churches that do not fit our model, beliefs or ways. You will have to find ways to bring people back to the faith.” “How will I be able to do this?” “Thomas have a lot of faith that the Creator will provide ways. That medallion your now wearing can allow him to communicate with you. He can perform miracles.” This shamed Thomas as to his doubts. “You have seen my weak side now are you sure you want me?” “I chose you and the Creator blessed that decision. Now you just need to meet his expectations.” “You said I would live longer. How much more life have you added?” “Now you will see between eight and nine hundred years. So really at seventy your still a very young man. When you return here I will turn the church over to you to supervise. You will have a nice farm next to Sam, Peter and David. Those are next to my vineyard and winery.” “I will look forward to spending time with all of you. It will feel like the old days. Now I am sorry my wife did not live to see this.” “Your not too old to remarry one day Thomas. The current age that shows will fade away over time. One day you will look more like your late thirties.” “Did the Creator give you this ability?” “No that comes from the science of Alpha. But he has blessed Alpha so it must be no sin. We are just here to serve him longer.” “Do all of your people live this long?” “Of course they do or I would never have taken the shot. We have five planets of people with long lives. But if we did this on the older planets it would cause wars, famine and great shortages of land.” That he could see and understood. “I need to get my things from home.” “They will be brought to you Thomas as your now far to valuable to place at risk. Your new home for now will be a space complex we will be towing to that universe. It has

everything needed for human life. I have assigned my old home there for you. It has a beautiful view of the stars from the patio. To make this work better I have left a crew in the complex to run it. They will return when you do. You have an assistant to help you organize and keep track of things for you.” “That is very kind of you. I had thought nothing of needing those types of help.” “John and Simon will send their people to the complex during the voyage. The three of you need to develop a good working relationship. Each of you could be recalled for any failure to meet your duties. So the assignment is based on the three of you finding ways to get the job done.” “I understand and agree we all need to be aware of that. It does make you think each decision through and find a way to make it work.” “My last words on this are we are not there to punish the people. Our job is to bring them into the current times. Be fair and always do what the Creator would in that situation.” The men hugged and Thomas left for the complex. He got there and started to just walk around the town. It was a very nice little place and he could see comfort here. A young woman walked up to him and stood there. “Thomas I am Valerie and your assistant. If you would follow me I’ll show you where we will live during this mission.” She led him through the town to the outer edge and to a stone home. It had very nice rooms and a good office for him. He had a library of good books here and he saw this had been added. His room was ready and it had its own bath. Then he was shown the patio and sat with this young lady and looked out at the universe. “I have never seen the stars like this before. “ He was dumb struck. “Nor have I Thomas and I love seeing them from here.” “Now you said we live here how is that going to work?” “I have the room across from yours. You will find I am a good cook and we have a housekeeper. That allows me during the day to be where you are. My training is in religious studies and I have a PhD in it as well as psychology. Your going to be dealing with people who are very unpredictable and will need advice on what to expect.” “How much of the religious books have you read?” “I can recite any of them for you word for word. My thesis was on the split of the radicals from the normal church. A copy of that is on your desk for you to judge my efforts.” “What did you write for psychology?”

“The impact of religion on human actions. That is also on your desk.” This was one very serious young lady. “What are your first impressions of this mission?” “The leaders are doing the right thing. By not having one person responsible for any decision, it will require thought before action. The biggest problem John, Simon and Ned have is there is no one to really disagree with them. They don’t have to think a problem out before acting. They each have taken some steps to improve this now. But your going to leave someone in charge here for their life. Choosing that person will in the end decide your success or failure.” He liked the way Valerie thought. She was very bright and willing to give her own opinions. He disliked people who attempted to find your opinion and feed it back. That just was not someone with real learning. “How do we get some food as I have not eaten for some time now?” “Tell me what you would like and I will fix it.” “I am afraid I like breakfast for dinner quite often.” “That suits me fine and I will have it ready in thirty minutes time. Do you like tea or coffee?” “I am a confirmed hot tea drinker.” “So is Ned,” “I am the one who hooked him on it. We would sit and drink hot tea for hours and talk.” “I will be sure we always have a fresh pot for you.” She went in and started dinner. He sat and enjoyed the stars for a little longer. Then he went to his office and started to read her papers. He had read the first thirty pages of the religious paper when she called him. So he went in and ate his meal discussing the food. Then he got back to her work. “I see your checking me out to see if I know what I was writing about?” “I had no question about your knowledge. That was very apparent in the first few pages. My desire was to see what I was in for. When I finished this I knew that I needed your vision. My conversations with Ned always left me with more knowledge than before we talked. It is clear your going to do the same thing for me. You have broken the radical groups in to three categories and now I see why. I see little problem with the first in bringing people back to the church. The second is going to be harder and some may never

come back. The third we will never convince without some real help. They really have no religion except being anti religion.” She was pleased with Thomas’s understanding of her work. “The second and third group will need proof that the Creator is with you. It will require some kind of sign or miracle that is beyond explanation. You will have many who doubt the book and its teachings. My guess is they will want to know why so much bad has been allowed to happen to them?” “Well the evil that consumed our planets caused much of the bad to happen.” “But why could not the Creator protect his people? If he is the real power why did evil win for so long?” “I am afraid I asked myself the same question before.” “The answer is simple Thomas. There were not enough good people to stop the tide. Far to many fell away from the religion to fight back. The Creator works through man. Now if he has ten men and they have a thousand who will win?” That seemed so simple and yet he was sure Valerie had hit the right answer. “Why could I not see that answer?” “You were in the war and that colors your vision. I was not so I can sit back and be objective. It is like the old saying when your in the forest it is hard to see the trees.” “Well we are going to have many days for discussion on this trip. Right now I want a nice hot bath and some sleep.” The next morning when he got down to the kitchen his tea was ready and breakfast was on the table. “You’re an early bird I see.” “Not really I just have not figured out your schedule yet.” “That is easy I normally go to bed after ten and am up by seven. But I have found this shot I was given has provided me with more energy now. So I am going to have more exercise in the daytime. The fact that my skin is tightening back up and I have new hair growing says it must work.” “It works very well Thomas. I would say you will end up with the schedule you had at thirty. Any physical problem you had will be completely repaired in another three days. Once were done eating you may want to see what is outside the complex.” “What is out there?” “Ten very large starships that will travel with us to the new universe.”

They ate their meal and Thomas went out to look. It was impressive to see four of them off to the one side of the station. There were four tugs connected and moving the complex forward. Because of the artificial gravity created in the complex this movement did not change anything. Valerie came out and they walked the outside glass walls and looked at the ships. There was one front and back, with four to each side. But just the shipyard could hold three larger ships than these. “I have never seen a starship before and they are impressive.” Thomas was still captivated by this sight. “The ships that will join us when we go into the Alpha universe will be half again as large as these. These can hold four thousand people and have a small town just like we do here. The larger ships can handle six thousand people in comfort.” “My experience has never been with this kind of power.” “Ned has sixty more of these and seventy of the larger ships now. This complex will start building the larger ships as soon as we are located in position. But that universe is much smaller than ours. It has just over three hundred planets where humans live. Our incubator here will produce one hundred new humans each week to staff this station. We need scientists and engineers right now. Then we will need more ships crews as we build new ships.” “What is an incubator?” “Once more this is an invention of Alpha. The computer here builds humans that are born at the age of eighteen. They are complete in every way and the Creator has approved of this. You will find these people are respectful, industrious and well educated. They will be the teachers for the children we bring to the complex. But don’t expect to see any difference in them compared to another human.” Once more the science of other worlds had done something he did not understand. “How is that possible?” “The Creator designed the DNA building blocks. The computer here just assembles what he designed. Each one produced had the same life span we do. But they have one advantage most humans don’t. They can access the data the computer has by a link that is built into them.” “This is all so new to me as I was just a simple church leader before.” “Today your sitting over a very high technology complex. We have the ability to restock oceans, place animal life on a planet and even add trees or plants if needed. They are also DNA based and we can create them.”

“I am not so sure I was the right man for this.” “It is not all on your shoulders. There are to be three of you and the other two know and are knowledgeable about this technology. So I need to make you aware of it as well.” That was reassuring to Thomas. “I feel like a child learning things in school.” “It is really this simple Thomas if you can think it this complex can do it.” “In the wrong hands that could be a very serious problem.” “Now you know why finding smart young children and educating them is so critical. They will have all this technology for good or evil. It will be our responsibility to assure it is for the best reasons. They will need to become the protectors of the human race in their universe.” “That is a lot of responsibility for any human.” “Do you think the Creator is not going to make that choice?”

Chapter 19 Joining of the Fleet

After they came out of the gate into the Alpha universe forty ships sat waiting for them. There two more came aboard. There was one woman and one man. The woman was the judge and she had blonde hair and was tall and very proper. Her name was Judith. The man was the second in command to Simon and had come back to the Alpha universe and transported to Alpha. There both Simon Sr and John briefed him on his job. He was William and a very pleasant man. The three sat at Thomas’s kitchen table and discussed the coming mission. Valerie kept the coffee and tea coming as they needed it. After Thomas’s briefing of her background she was invited to sit with them. “Dear we all could use your input on the many issue we will face. I as a judge need to understand what people knew and their current ways of seeing things.” Judith was very straightforward. “I will be happy to tell you what I think. But until I have a chance to really study these people it is all guesswork.” “For me I need much the same information Judith does. I refuse to step in until I know the motives in play. In some locations my people were attacked while burning the bodies of the creatures. In small towns we saw no one out of their homes when we did that. These people are a complete mystery to me.” “Did you bring any feeds I could watch?” “Yes I have every contact feed we had.” “Then I will watch them and see what I can pick up. Did they have any newspapers?” “Yes in some places they did and we have copies of them.” “Those will really tell me more than even the feeds. Most will give me a look at what culture exists. They will provide an idea of how they see things. I would say by the time we get there I should have a reasonable idea of the people. But I will continue to build on that base with each contact.” “My dear you’re a lady after my own heart. Your insight will be important to all of us. We are not there to turn their world upside down. But peace must be brought to those planets. Your suggestions will be listened to and where possible considered.” Judith was very pleased with Valerie’s background. No one had thought to add this type of knowledge base for them. “When Ned asked me to come and help Thomas I was not sure what help I could be? But I see the need for detailed information on the people and that I can give you over time.”

William was not happy about his assignment until now. “I will tell you I was not a happy man when they told me I was going back as the sheriff. I saw areas where there was no education at all. They knew how to hunt and grow crops and could not read anything.” “People like that live by the laws the land gives them. You will find most work very hard to just survive. If they are not farming or hunting they are trying to sleep. A woman has to work as hard as any man to survive in those areas. They will be rough and very basic.” Valerie knew this type as she had studies them in her classes. “The mother and children were either cooking, making clothing or weeding the fields.” “She had to allow the men to go hunt. They needed meat as well as the grains and vegetables. Without refrigeration meat was a daily problem during warm times. In winters they would change how they did things to fit the season.” William could see she knew humans and survival. “Your dead right in what you have said. In winter the men cut wood and repair or build farm equipment for spring. A few have built small smelters and make cast iron. They make hammers, axes, rakes, hoes, shovels and plows by casting them.” “I am sure they are the ones considered wealthy. None could live without their tools.” “They pay in food or tobacco for what they need on most planets. Some do not have tobacco and use other plants.” “These people will be the easy ones to convert. If you show them better tools and make the work of surviving easier they will follow you anyplace. They may be wild, but never think that means dumb.” Judith smiled at this comment and could see the point. “I am sure she is dead right here as well. You can bet these families are close and fit together as a larger family. Most would have relatives married to others close by. As long as you let them come to you and don’t push they will come around.” “The one other issue here is most of these people will believe in a higher power. They will pray for rains and sometimes to stop the rain. Here sun and water is the main thing they must have to survive.” Valerie was also sure this fit as well. “I am really impressed Valerie. You have not see one feed or a paper yet and you still see these people as I have.” “Every human is a basic product of the environment we live in. So to understand them you need to know what motivates them. For the people we were discussing it is food and a warm home in winter. Very basic needs we all have. You will find a doctor here will be the most effective way into getting to know the people. Children fall sick and I am sure

they have few plants for medicines. If next to the doctors office you have a blacksmith who can repair metals that is your second step. Next you build a school for the children.” “Your saying do this as a step by step process?” “Sure you cannot just dump it all on a simple person at one time. They need to learn to trust you first before you take the next step. Pick twenty different areas and build medical clinics. Then after that is working build blacksmith shops. Next after you have proven to them your ways are better build a school. With the school you will own how that community thinks from then on.” “How do we staff the clinics, blacksmith shop and school?” “We have an incubator that will produce one hundred human clones each week. The doctor’s wife can teach school as well as a blacksmith’s wife. So you would have two teachers in each community.” “OK you have sold me and I will try it if the rest agree. I know of ten planets where we could start this process. Most of the people live like this and they are not very populated. It would be a good test without using any force at all.” Both Thomas and Judith agreed to try this. That was the first of the plans for the new universe. Now Valerie led the two to there new homes. She had set up a male assistant for Judith and a female for William. This would help them with companionship during the long trip and help them organize. She has set up the old office area that Ned had used as the central office for the three. It was noticeable busier in the town now as they had a few hundred residents. Most were either scientists or engineers. But she had some doctors coming and teachers for the schools to be built. The blacksmiths would come later. But they would have a lot of engineering and metallurgy knowledge. In the shops she had machinery being made that looked very old, but really had high tech innovations. This was going to be needed if just one man had to do so much of the work in a shop. These machines if seen by people would seem to be magical. While most ran on electrical power they seemed to run on waterpower. Belts and gears would turn as the water moved the wheel in the river or stream. But that was for show. Sites for the doctor’s clinic would have to be carefully chosen. There had to be a river or fast flowing stream close by. While still in the Alpha space she had pulled together many drugs used on the old Earth, plus the ability to make them in the labs of the ships. Medicine would be very low tech for them, but high tech for these people. Electricity was

known and a water wheel would be installed at the river to appear to produce power. But the clinic would run on a fusion power plant. Much of this was set up without the three leaders knowing the whys or where’s. It just was not critical for them to know the details. They would make the decision and others would carry it out. Valerie saw her job as smoothing the way this was presented to these people. It had to be within the context of their current understanding. The small village built for the clinic, school and blacksmiths shop had some very basic protections. They were to be walled in so just one gate was the entry. This would allow scanning of what came in or went out. At some point people would be asked to leave weapons at the gate. The clinic design was set up to allow for recovery rooms from diseases and surgeries. But would be small ten or twenty bed hospitals. To keep the appearance they had set up a clothing manufacturing area, for making period furniture and clothing. The cloth was better and not as rough as produced on these planets. For the school as it would be hard to send children each day they had dorms for boys and girls. The school was to be in the middle of these. The food would cost nothing and the education would also be free. This was the big question as to how these children would get along together? To keep the peace a couple of robot troops would be the police and protectors of the ones living here. They would when needed go with the doctor to see people sick at home or in need of transport back to the clinic. Horses were used to pull wagons and for general transportation. So each small community had to have several to meet the needs. In her studies of the papers she saw the diseases that were the main killers. Infection was the largest and then the many water born ones. Far too often the outhouse was too close to the wells. This seemed to be most true in small towns and cities. Food born illness was also a big problem in cities. Valerie presented her complete plan to the counsel the day they reached the final location of the complex. It shocked them at the work she had done and over seen. “How in the world did you accomplish all of this and still serve my needs?” Thomas asked her. “That was really not a big problem, as I did a lot of planning when the committee did their work. My time at that point was free except for questions you had.” “You have shown to be impressive Valerie and I for one would like to thank you. The plans and preparations you have made will speed up the early days here. I would assume your ready to start picking sites for these small communities?” Judith was also impressed with the detail in these plans. “That is up to you and I just need the streams there to make this work. It has to be close enough for people to get to this area, but not so close as to draw anger. We want them to know where we are and not feel we have encroached on their land.”

“How will you make the first contacts?” “I will send out the doctor with one trooper to roam the homes and farms looking for the sick. They will treat those they find and let people know of the clinic. At first it will be slow going and that will change as people see the drugs and knowledge works.” “How long do you expect it to take before the clinic is accepted?” William was really curious. “With one hard winter I expect people to start to come to the clinic. The cold causes many cases of pneumonia here. Those are all curable by our medicines. Most of these people will not even remember that this could be cured. That knowledge I am sure has been lost thousands of years ago.” The plan as offered was accepted. “We expect you to over see and direct this. The counsel will not get involved unless you have problems. Too many hands in this will cause disaster. But we would like a weekly report of your progress.” All agreed to Judith’s statement. “I will do as you request. As soon as William shows me the chosen sites we will start construction. Here we will use wagons to bring in the materials we need from safe landing zones. So one zone must be set up and protected for goods we need to be on the planet. This also needs to be beside a river and have a barge ramp. It must seem the goods were brought by barge to that location and then move by wagon. The story must have enough facts to be believable. The construction crew will leave and go back to that location to seem like they left by the barge.” This was generally agreed as being wise. The doctor would be seen as escaping the crime of the city and looking for a peaceful place for him and his wife. Most of these people in the outer areas did not like cities. Especially those in the mountain areas and where game was plentiful.

Chapter 20

The First Step Valerie was in her directive mood and the building of ten clinics was under way. They looked very much like most buildings in the lower cities. The wood was not perfect, but was serviceable. The inside of these clinics was a different story. The water wheel that seemed to provide the power was in place and lights were running outside all night. Each building was painted white and the glass used could not be broken. It was really a high tech plastic compound that was cheaper. The buildings were large by any standards as they each had from ten to twenty rooms for those recovering from illness or surgery. In the operating room there were many hidden items to provide high tech help. A body could be scanned while just laying on the table. This allowed the doctor to see exactly what and where the problem was. Here DNA was no known, but a full lab was hidden away to process blood samples. This happened when a finger was pricked and blood placed on a slide. People thought it was to look at in a microscope, but it really was processed for data to diseases. Each room was watched and a small chemical computer keep track of the people. This relayed data to the satellites around the planet for the complex computer to process. Then accepted the data for the doctor. His office had a computer screen for him to see any and all data he might need. These were set back behind a bookcase that required pulling out to use. For very complex cases there was a transport plate in the surgery and after putting the person under they would be moved to a very high tech surgery on the ship. These clinics could do anything as they had good back up. The doors were metal and could not be opened unless the doctor approved it. Each room was well filtered and really an isolation area. A central food preparation area existed and provided the food for the clinic as well as the doctor and his wife. Once completed the doctors with a driver headed out of the compound to visit farms. The trooper did not seem very smart and just drove and said little. The first few farms they stopped at people were not very interested in services. But he got to one farm where the husband had been badly injured. His leg was twice the size it should be and infection was running rampant. He provided antibiotics and cleaned the wound. After draining it he had to cut away some of the dead flesh and then stitched it back together. The man had been given pain medication and massive antibiotics. But he was still in bad shape. So the doctor spent the night there with him. Making sure he survived this. The fever slowly came down and the man could now talk. “Who are you?” “I am a doctor who got tired of the city and its crime. So I have built a clinic out here for those who need me. In my life I have made good money so that is not important to me any longer. I just want peace and to be able to help others.”

“Cities are really bad places to live. I spent two years down there and was glad to get out as well.” “I am going to leave you some medications and you must take it as your told. If you don’t you will lose that leg or at worst die. There was a massive infection in it and it will take time for it to be all gone. You will have pain once your able to stand and walk. Some muscle was lost to the infection. But if you take the pills as I am telling you then you will plant this year. If you don’t have your sons dig your grave.” The man looked at this doctor and saw he was dead honest. “I will follow your instruction. The only good man I found in the city was a doctor who took a bullet out of me.” The doctor showed the wife how to change the dressing and gave her a mixture to put on the wound. She was told the same thing about the pills he would leave. He told her he would be back in a week to check on her husband. “What do we owe you?” “As I told your husband I don’t need to make money any longer. So someday if you have a good jelly or preservers drop some by to my wife.” He told her where the clinic was and left. He found a couple more sick children and treated them, then headed back to the clinic. He needed sleep now more than anything. This process was close to the same for each clinic and soon the doctors were welcome guests at any home. This had been a good start to contact and building relationships. The doctors taught first aid classes to many at the clinic. He provided many bandages, topical ointments and basic home medicines. There was always more food than could be eaten provided to him. The wives always sat and read to the children and it caused many to want to know how to do this. When the blacksmith shops were set up it caused great doubts. People just could not see these being better than their old suppliers. But the blacksmith did teach other metal workers how to improve their metals. It was soon seen this man had great skills and knowledge. He did not take business from others, but worked with them to teach new ways. A few new machines were built and tried out by farmers. All the shops soon built them. These added to the productivity and made people better off. The schools were opened with just a few children coming. Each was taught to read, handle math, history, geography and a little about religion. These students convinced many people this was a good idea for theirs. So the next year the schools had ten times the students as before.

When the counsel met Valerie was asked to sit in. “We all need to thank you for the job you have done. Your idea of supplying the book of religion to the children has caused much interest in the adults. Now the children sit each night and read to the families and most are seeing the truth in the book. But here we don’t know exactly what the next step should be?” Judith had been the main worrier on this. “There should be no next step. Religion is a personal thing and building churches is really not required. Given time these families will hold their own services. That is all the Creator asks. Churches are for cities where families are not as close.” Thomas knew she was right. “I could not agree more. The less we mettle with this the better off the religion will be.” The other two had to bend to Thomas on this issue. “Then the next question is are we ready for more planets?” William was in a hurry “That depends on if your willing to work with partial data. For me to hand you a plan for most planets it will take another year of information. We have seen how this can start, but have no idea yet how it will grow. Right now I have thirty children here in school. Not one of them is ready yet to be classified as a possible leader. That will take ten or more years. Once I have two hundred orphans in the school we will see if we have a leader or not. Here the oldest child taken is eight years old so they are still very moldable. We have thirty years to complete our task here. Why hurry and make a mistake?” William knew he was not going to get support from the others. “I just hate these worlds. So understand I am going to ask Simon to replace me. My time here before just has turned me off on these people.” That night Thomas talked with Ned. The decision made was for Valerie to assume Williams place and Simon and John agreed. The gentler hand was they felt the better way to go here. It was not up to them to bring peace, but for those who would one day lead this universe. If twenty or fifty planets could be on the right path by then that was an accomplishment. This universe was not settled in thirty years as it had taken a million. That said it was going to take time for it to change. When Valerie was advised of her new job she was concerned. “I know nothing of spaceships or the use of the military. My taking over William’s job is beyond my abilities.” Thomas had been sure she was going to feel this way. “John, Simon and Ned feel you’re the best person for the job. It took a million years to build this universe and we will not solve those problems in thirty. Your compassion for the people and willingness to take time is the right thing they believe. We will have many leaders here from the children being educated. Most can return to planets and start to bring change with help from us. That requires someone who is willing to accept small steps each time.”

She considered this and still had her doubts. “I will try it and if I feel that the burden is just to heavy will tell you. In me are many doubts and that is not something I am used to having. But if we push these people to far to fast we will see wars. Most still believe the best way to settle an argument is to shoot the other person. But they are not organized into groups. That keeps the violence one on one.” She was seated at the counsel and given a lot of support by Thomas and Judith. They liked her and saw she was very compassionate of people. One thing they were sure of was she would protect those she touched. Due to her new job she was moved to William’s old home. A male assistant was assigned and a new female one for Thomas. She still over saw the complex and had seen the first three new ships launched. The schedule of checking on planets was kept up and a team of robots was set on each. There a control room was built to observe the planet. If any massive outbreak of fighting happened then they would step in. She was going to have to rely on her ships captains to guide her in military matters. So she called a meeting on one of the new ships for all captains. “As I am sure you have been told you now work for me. This was not a job I asked for or really wanted. To be honest I am not sure I can even do it. But I have no choice as John, Simon and Ned has appointed me to this. It does place more strain on each of you. I know nothing of spaceships abilities or military tactics. That means I must depend on you and your knowledge. To be fair to each of you I have received permission to allow any of you to leave the fleet. That will not hurt your record in anyway. This is something I felt was the only fair way to come to you.” One woman at the back stood. “Why do you think any of us would not want to stay?” “To be honest I had no idea if any of you would want to stay. Your looking at someone with zero knowledge of your ships and people. That could be dangerous for you and them.” Once more the woman stood. “Look we have all talked about this change. William was a great fighter, but he did not understand this current job. Most of us were concerned about his exploding and doing something brash. He just wanted to get this done and get home. We all signed on for thirty years and we see things moving along nicely with no risk to our people or us. If you have to consider any military action, we will give you what you need. You do your best to keep us out of harms way and we will do the same for you.” When she sat the applause was thunderous. “Thank you all for your support. My way is to keep making small changes to the peoples lives. If we never completely get a planet on the right path that is fine. We are training the future leaders of this universe and it is really their job to finish what we start. My concern is leaving things better than when we got here. Now in fifteen years you will be training

the next commander of your ship. That means each of you will be impacting this universe. What you leave behind is what this universe will have to live with.” Valerie moved through the room and managed to talk with each captain. They liked her and she liked them. It was far better than she had expected. Her surprise showed when she found as many female captains as male. A group of five captains came to her and offered to discuss options when she would like input. They had all fought wars in their own universes and did not like them. The woman who had spoken was one of these people. This group she made advisors. Now she felt somewhat better about her lack of knowledge. But she knew over the thirty years there would be some tests. This meant she had to be ready for them. The data for the planets was sent to the five captains for review each week. She had her own feelings about this information, but wanted theirs. Most of the time they agreed. But there were times they saw a more sinister reason for something. On these times she relied on their vision and it worked out. With a simple energy shot they had wiped out some weapons dumps. These losses set groups back years in their attempts to assume power. The doctor that had stared this was very happy living at his clinic and doing much good. Then one day two gun shot victims were brought in. Both had lost a lot of blood and were close to dead. He stabilized them and then did surgery to remove the bullets. The size of these slugs was nothing he had seen here. “I have never seen the size of the slugs taken from those men. Does anyone know who shot them?” “Well I never saw the fight, but heard it and went running. About five of us came over the hill, as the men were getting ready to finish off our friends. They were big men and had guns like I have never seen before. But when they saw us they ran like the wind. A couple of the men gave chase and said they just kept falling further behind. So they came back to help us.” “Could you show my man where they were shot?” “Sure I would be happy to. But your never going to find them. We have had attacks like this before and no one ever lived to talk about it.” Valerie had been following this and wanted to know where and who had attacked. She contacted her advisory group and discussed this problem. They suggested a group of twenty troopers be set down and they could track where the men went. She told them to follow the doctor’s man to get the location of the attack. Once the troopers hit the ground they followed the doctors man at a distance. The one leading him showed him the area and he could see the blood on the grass. He also could see a distinctive heel print in the ground that came from no shoe or boot he had seen. The man was afraid to leave the doctors man but was convinced he would be all right.

When the troopers got there he had pretty well located the ambush site and found the trail to follow. He showed them what he had found and they started after the attackers. The doctor’s man headed home and knew that answers would be coming. The troops went for three days well back into the mountains. With their sharp vision they easily followed the trail left. Then they saw a single man standing at a rock looking outward. Two troopers were left to watch and the rest headed for the mountainside. They worked their way up a steep slope. At the top they could see the valley. It was built up with houses, farming fields and animal grazing areas. They counted around two hundred people in the valley. Most seemed a little better dressed than the normal people on the planet. Locations for camera feeds were found and set up. Then they rested for the night. That next morning they saw two men tied to posts. An older man came out and directed a young one to start. The shirts were pulled down on the two men and they were whipped until they bled. Both were left tied to the post all day and not taken down until evening. Three troopers slipped down the mountainside and worked their way around the living quarters. Bugs were planted and many of them near where they had seen people standing and talking. But most houses now would allow them to hear what was said inside. There were no glass windows as they use animal skins coated with oils at windows. But they were pulled tight enough to be good soundboards. Once done they slipped back out of the village and up the mountainside. The voice feeds allow a picture to be assembled. This was a religious cult that had escaped a city. Here the old man was a virtual king. He had the men whipped because they drew attention to others being out here. One day an attack of those Godless people would bring one here. Religion here was what the older man said it was and far from the truth. So now Valerie had a decision to make. She discussed this with her captains and then with the counsel. Thomas said he felt this need to be contained at the least. Judith said punishment was deserved here. The question now was how many of these splinter groups were there? She had ships looking at every valley on each planet to see what could be found. In making the plan she was sure that only a few held the group by sheer fear. The troops identified those leaders and the plan came together. That night the guard at the entry point was hit with a stun gun. It dropped him right there. A large pile of dry wood was set up and they waited for anyone running for this exit. Troops came down the side of the mountain and set up for the early morning ritual. The pile of dry wood was set to burst into flames if anyone passed a point in front of it. That way the two additional troopers could be inside the valley. They took positions on either side of the exit.

Another group had set up a prison area for those removed. There was seed, tools for farming and one book of religion in each hut. The force fields did no allow you to see the person next to you or hear a single word. There was a tap for water as well as a can for watering plants. In the hut was a small freezer and refrigerator for keeping food. A stove and single light was also in this room. For furniture there was a bed, chest and table with one chair. Electric heaters supplied heat in winter. The people came to the center of the community and knelt as they had been seen to do before. As the old man read to them the troops stood and surrounded the group. It was so fast no one had a chance to move. “Who are you and why are you here.” The man was red with anger. “We are the servants of the creator and are here to send you to the dark universe.” “Your evil of that I am sure.” “No not at all, as you’re the evil here. We are sending you and your leaders to where you will never see freedom again.” The troops moved forward and took hold of each of the known leaders. They were lead to a transport plate and each one placed on it. They disappeared at once. This sight shocked the people. One man grabbed a gun and shot a trooper at point blank range. Nothing happened and the man fell to his knees and cried. Every gun was collected from each home and broken into worthless junk. Gunpowder was removed and destroyed. Cartridges were destroyed as well. Several bows and arrows were found and they were left for hunting. “Now here is the correct book of religion. No one will leave this valley until it is understood by all here. The beliefs you have been following are an abomination to the Creator. So your bound to this valley until you repent. Feel free to try to leave and see how painful that can be. Once the Creator knows you have repented then you will be allowed to come and go from this valley.” The troops each stepped on the plate and vanished. Many of the people just sat and cried. Others wondered around and saw no way these men could have just disappeared. Several stepped on the plate and nothing happened. A few brave younger men headed to the valley entrance and the pile of wood burst into flames. They could not get close to this fire. A few headed up the mountainside and were hit by the force field. That knocked them unconscious and it took hours to gain their feet once more. All of these attempts to leave were reported to one old woman. “I told you the prophet was lying to us. He will never be seen again here. Now we had better start learning the right ways or we will never leave here. The only thing that man told us that was true is we would pay for our sins.”

Chapter 21

The Improving Worlds With slow progress many worlds were now getting better. The ones where the counsel had started were now setting up courts and police. The countryside was far more peaceful than any city. Slowly the idea of law and order was taking hold in cities. Here troops were being used a police and people knew no difference. They dressed like everyone else and talked that way as well. But ten troopers in a city was like an army. Crime went down and fast. The courts were busy with the many caught in the middle of a crime. The changes were helpful to the preachers now moving about the cities. They gave away the book of religion and made no requests for money. When someone was found to be in need of help it was given freely. Great respect was growing for these religious people. They would come and stay for a few weeks and be gone to another city. With time the people started to follow the laws of religion. They just seemed the right thing to do. No one was ever hurt by following these laws. Many people started to provide help for those in need and found it benefited them as well. The change was unbelievable to many as to how good life got after the changes. This had been done over a five-year period and it just became natural. When planets were ready to rule themselves the troops slowly were withdrawn and moved to the next task. The doctors, blacksmiths and schools stayed with their original people. Every city had a clinic and school. That day the counsel had their meeting. “Valerie I would like you to know how impressed I have been with the changes made. The many radical religious groups have been changed and brought back to the right path. Cities are safe once more and the countryside is producing more than enough food for all. This all happened without one shot being fired in anger. You have twenty planets well on their way to becoming civilized worlds.” Judith knew this could never have happened without Valerie. “I will add my own feelings. You’re a marvel and someone we all needed.” Thomas was like a proud father. John, Simon and Ned walked into the room and it caught them all of guard. “Valerie we as leaders of the other universes would like to ask you to stay here and lead this one. We have all followed your progress and are also impressed with your abilities. There will be a day when someone from here leads these people. But for now we think you’re the best qualified to do this.” John spoke for all of them. “What about all the children we are training?” “They will serve you and help you make the changes needed. You early task is just about eight percent complete. Changing the ways things are being done will not help. A new leader will change from the ways your using and may cause more damage that do good. Each of us has voted on this and are asking you to accept.”

She was taken back by all of this. “What about Thomas and Judith?” “They will stay for their term and help you where they can. Your captains and crews of the fleet have requested they be allowed to stay with you for good. You have a very loyal following here.” That caused tears to come to her eyes. “I am sorry to get emotional, but this is beyond my wildest dreams.” Ned smiled back at her. “It is the Creators wish as well Valerie. Once you accept we will be happy to prove that to you.” “If it is his will then I could never say no.” “Please come with us and we will let you hear it yourself.” They went to the transport plate and to Ned’s church on Phoenix. Then to the room and Valerie’s hand was also entered into the pad. Simon gave her a ring and she placed it on her finger. This she placed in the lock and the vault opened. The box and ring were removed and all sat around the table. The ring was used to open the box and the light showed from within. “Valerie you are my daughter and have been kind and gentle with my people. It is my wish that you serve them as their leader for your lifetime. If you reach into the box you will find a necklace with a medallion, which will allow communications with your other universe leaders. You now will serve me as these men do.” The light dimmed and she picked out the necklace with the medallion. “When you need to talk with any of us just hold the stone before your face and ask for who you need. We will see your face and you will see ours. The voices will transmit stone to stone. The only person not here now who has one is Gorm and he can be talked with also. That is a gift of the Creator to us as a tool to help.” She was just in a state of shock now. “That was the Creators voice?” “Yes and he said you’re his daughter. We are all his children and this room will always be open to you. The book inside that box is the book of life. To most it is a myth, but we know better than that. When your troubled you can come here and find answers and peace. There is no problem that book cannot find answers for. So welcome to our small family dear.” She reached into the box and removed the book. As she read she saw many answers to problems she worried about. She closed the book and handed it to Ned. “I understand now and am happy to be a part of your family.”

This group was a small one of very like minded people. She was given the entire Alpha plan for use as she saw fit. Simon and Ned offered much help. Each would do anything they could to support her. This said that she had three universes to provide support to her efforts. “How do I use Thomas and Judith now with this change?” “For Thomas he is the ideal one to over see the building of religion for you.” Ned knew his man. “If Judith sets up your law system and courts you can be sure they are fair and just. That is her strength.” John was sure of this. “But what about the counsel?” “That no longer exists. If you wish a board of say the two of them and your five captains to listen to ideas from that is your choice. But you will make the decisions. That now is on your shoulders.” Simon was very clear about this. “I do need to build a home planet for my own people. Five years living at the complex has gotten old. Will that cause any problems?” “We have all done that as your right living in space gets old. So if you need help just ask any of us and we will do whatever you need.” John knew this was a good move. That opened up many options for her. “I will start looking for an open planet for my people.” “Not just any open planet, but the best you can find. Your people deserve the very best living conditions they can have. You have the Alpha plan and it assures that everyone has very good incomes. I will send you a planet computer that is a clone of Hope my planet computer. That way you have the most advanced knowledge.” That was a big help in itself. “I have much to consider now and many plans to make. We are in step two with twenty more planets and at step one with twenty. In another three years I will have sixty headed to being civilized. We watch those closely and will forever. Each day I see the papers from each city and that helps me keep up to date. But it will take the next one hundred years to get every planet moving the right way.” “If you move them twenty at a time by that one hundred years the early ones will be trading with each other. You have a good plan and it will allow you to slowly keep moving them forward.” Chapter 22

Building A New Home Valerie was now ready to start building a planet. Her ships had found one well out from any now settled. It was in another quadrant of the universe. There were several planets that would support life very well here. But one was the best of all. She assigned two ships to assure that all life forms needed were present and to get rid of these that presented a danger. The Alpha plan had been what Phoenix had been built on and she liked that. She found a large lake inland and it had a very large island about fifty miles long by ten wide. That was where she could build her city of government. This location would allow for four seasons as the city on Alpha six did. As large as the lake was it would not freeze over in winter. But many small ponds on the island would. At the other end of the island was a large hill that would allow skiing. It was just short of what she would call a mountain. This spot would have long winters and summers. With short springs and falls. For her that was an ideal climate. The builder was a robot that had been trained by Vortec. He had been sent with the new planet computer. A huge spaceship had come to the complex and she was not sure she was seeing right. It was ten times as big as any ships she had seen. Then the captain came to her office. “I have been sent by John to deliver your planet computer, a master builder and the equipment you will need for the planet. My cargo ship is fully loaded with everything you will need. I have a full size incubator to produce five thousand new citizens a week as well. John felt your capacity was to low to really build population fast enough for a good economy.” This was a pleasant gift as she had given little thought to needing a lot more people. “I have sent the planets coordinates to your ship.” “Yes I saw them, but John requested I check in with you. He has ten of these vessels that move between universes and wanted you to see one. They send what you need and bring back anything you have extra. What goes on these ships is between the leaders of each universe. I have vaults for your new cities wealth and things like that.” “I was wondering how to handle all the metals and gemstones I now have. But John has been here before and knows what I need.” “He has sent seed, stock animals and two horses for you from his own ranch.” “I don’t even have a barn yet.” This she laughed about. “Well you have a temporary one on the ship. He heard you liked to ride and no one breeds better horses than he does. No other breeder has ever won a race where his stock was running.”

“I heard he breeds quarter horses.” “Yes and our races are from one eighth mile to one quarter mile. Then they run one called the enduro. It runs for twenty-three miles. They run over trails, up and down hills with water or other obstacles. It is a hard race and requires you pace you animal. Use up too much early and it will not finish the race.” That she would love to see one day. “Well I have not even chosen a piece of land for a home.” “The master builder will handle that for you. Your lake I was told has a river that runs from it to the ocean. I have a large ship of state on the craft and locks will be built to let it move from the lake to the ocean.” “You talking about one like Ned has?” “Bigger than his and much more capacity. John said you were likely to take a hundred people you did not yet know with you when you did use the ship.” This caused her to laugh and she saw John knew her. “Well he is right and I will enjoy it.” “Now with your permission I will deliver my load to your planet.” He saluted and turned to leave. The concern shown to her was very much like being family. Each of her other leaders had done all they could to make this work for her. No one could have expected this type of help. She had made arrangements for crew families to have farms or businesses on the planet. They would rotate crews so they were three months on and three months off. That way they could have some normal family life. Where possible robots would be used on the ships as crew. This way a ship could operate with a human crew of one hundred. The complex in a couple of weeks would be moved to circle the planet. There was no reason for the scientists and engineers not to have normal homes. She knew that she needed land under her feet to feel normal. Money was of little concern to her, but freedom to ride and enjoy land was. She spent time that day looking at proposed plans for the city. She had ordered that no building be more than four stories in height. Knowing the peoples enjoyment of sports she had a sports complex built at one end of the city for enclosed fields and courts. In nice weather the roof could be rolled back to allow an open air feeling. The security service was the most advanced building she could have. It would follow all the planets and keep her up to date on issues. For this job she needed someone very

special. The final choice was a young woman she liked a lot. She was sent to James to learn her job. He had the most experience of any manager in that area. Alyssa was a very beautiful young lady, but smart as well. James wondered at first what he had gotten as she watched and said little. After a month of watching she started to ask very good questions. Then some he had no answers for. He got to know her much better after a few dinners at his home. His wife said to be careful and not underestimate this girl. She saw little things he often missed. This caused him to watch her closely and saw exactly what he had been warned of. Small actions he would never have picked up on she did. A very small change in a persons dress was something she saw as a sign of change. He finally had her teaching some of his people how to read these things. The lady was very good and he could teacher her little. But she wanted to see all the toys they used and how they were used. He told her there was nothing better than intelligence gotten on the ground. Then he explained how he had used the doctors at clinics to feed him valuable data. They were trusted and told much by people coming in for treatment. But walking in a city and listening to its people told you the mood and direction it was headed. That you could never get from satellites or newspapers. It was these stories of past experience that she most learned from. These were real events and how intelligence worked. James never knew he had opened her eyes to many things she could do. Alyssa headed back to the complex motivated to bring the assets together she now saw were in her hands. There were now many clinics operated by doctors supplied by the complex. Each was assigned to feed news and information to her each week or sooner if the information was hot. She also had data coming from schools and blacksmiths on these planets. She set up one controller for each planet now in formation. Then assigned one for every five just being watched. Those planets were given one trooper on the ground to just roam the cities and pick up information. He was well supplied with funds and did not show any inclination for a political agenda. But people liked to talk with these men and much was picked up. The control rooms were pushed to feed daily data back to the controllers. Here the security group would supply Valerie with solid information for keeping progress moving. For Alyssa there was no room for failure. She had beaten out eight men for this job and was determined to prove her value. The main problem for the security service was space right now. It needed one hundred and two people per shift to meet current needs. That would grow to over nine hundred in time. That would require a large space for them on the planet. That personnel number did not include the labs and other technology development areas for the department. Here she would not just have to follow events, she would need to insert technology at the right points.

To meet the need for technology development she had one shop built on each current planet for an inventor. They of course were not really inventing anything. They had to figure out how with current technology, they could move the planet the next step. If something did not exist then how do you reasonably bring it into being? These labs could not be seen as feeding technology. Each employed people from that planet and they worked with concepts suggested by the owner. But like with all new inventions they would have hundreds of failures. It was the only way for the people to feel they had made that giant step. It was strange that the workers never questioned where the gold and silver coins they received as pay came from. But on payday there was always money to meet the salaries. Each received their envelope and the money was always right. By paying very good salaries the labs did get the very smartest people. A final design was approved for the security center in the government city. Alyssa was pleased with the layout and space for growth. Of the eight men she had competed against she had three working as managers. She had picked up seven scientists and ten engineers to fill the labs. Here there were secrecy agreements signed so as to keep knowledge compartmentalized. She and her three managers would be the only ones to see it all. Valerie had listened to the presentation made by Alyssa and approved her plan. Then she sat down with two men she had chosen for managers of the banking system and planet development. Each were given a general outline of where she wanted to go. They would develop the plan and she would approve it. There was no way for her to manage all of this and she needed people that she could trust. Judith was setting up the courts and judicial system. Thomas would set up the religious system and church. Both of these people she had complete trust in and knew the results would be good. Those plans she did not even bother to look at. The construction had moved very quickly and the city had been completed in just less than six months. With the move of the complex things were now ready. That first day on the planet was going to be so busy, she would not see the things she wished to. But she had time on her side. This move had been planned and she had been sent to her new home to start with. Just walking around the property close to the house made her feel good. The lake was just off her patio and she could spend hours sitting and watching the water. The barn was a large structure and was heated. The two horses John had sent were stalled and waiting for her. Her robot help had kept them exercised and the saddles John had sent were shining. She saddled one and walked the stallion from the barn. They rode her property and she saw how large this was. The decision for fruit orchards had been carried out and she found six different types of fruits growing. The trees were small yet, but would produce some fruit this year. That would grow as they matured. One small patch of may be three hundred acres was filled with berries. Those she had also wanted more for use at home than to sell. But this would produce more than she could possible use.

A large fishing boat had been set up at the ocean dock and would produce income for this property. That was just a perk given to each of the leaders. The planet would take every bit of fish caught and processed for now. That meant income for her would be no problem. After her return to the barn a stable worker took her horse and walked him. She then went to her office in the city. This was as big as Ned’s had been and she was not yet comfortable with this. But she sat at the desk and looked out the windows at the lake. “Good afternoon Valerie, I am your new planet computer. John had me set up exactly as my mother Hope was. My instructions are to provide you with data and insights to help you make decisions. I have the complete history of the old Earth and how those humans developed. My mother over saw that. But I also have the knowledge of every universe and their development as well. Now at some point you will need to name me.” This she considered for a time. “I am really not sure what to call you? Do you have any suggestions?” “As I am a complete copy of my mother may be Hope II would be a good idea?” “Not a bad idea and I like seeing an image when I talk with you. The computer at the complex really was hard to talk with. At least wit you I can see you and that makes it much easier.” “I will reprogram that computer to be more friendly and interactive. You will still have scientists and engineers working there.” “Who will over see the incubators?” “That will be done by me as my programming is far better in that area. My mother developed this technology.” This was far better than she could have expected. “What can you do for me here?” “My mother is the one John discusses many of his plans with. Because of our knowledge we often can suggest small changes that pay large dividends. I would never try to sell you on any idea as that is your job. But I can sometimes show you past history that opens up a large area for making a decision.” It could be of great help to her. “Your free to provide any data you feel is relevant to a decision. But will this hold you back from the many planet tasks you have?” “Not at all as I am now over two square miles of capacity. Other than my mother and Faith I am the largest DNA computer. Ned does not get from Faith what both my mother and I offer. She was constructed by an intelligence of the old worlds in his universe and is

much different. My original task was the running of Alpha one. So I am just under eight thousand years old. With that age and my size this planet will be easy to run.” “How will we handle cloning computers for the other planet here?” “I am already cloning smaller versions of me for that end. This way I will have control of them for you. You will advise me of what will and will not be allowed and I will program them.” “Well Hope II welcome to our new world.” “Have you named the planet yet?” “I have looked at several names and like the idea of calling this Eden. We are where man here starts their journey to knowledge and enlightenment. Our religious book talks of a garden where man was developed to spread out over the many planets. That was called Eden. So it seemed fitting as that is what will happen here.” “Of course I know of all the books of religion and it does seem fitting. What about the city name?” “Here I think Dawn is the one that fits. We are the dawn of man in this universe. Over the next few hundred years things will grow much brighter on many planets.” “Your very perceptive in the way you pick names. Each name has a story that goes with it and people will see how well the names fit. Now if you agree I will announce the names to the people. In doing that I will include the stories so they understand. Of course this will be Eden one as your have more planets over time to develop.” She smiled at this comment from Hope II. “Yes feel free to announce the names and I hope the people accept them well. Now how many of my people will live on this island?” “Just your managers will be here. Most of the island will be kept as it was. There are beautiful forests here that would be a shame to cut down. I had a request from Judith and Thomas to build homes here for them. It seems they wish to stay here even after their contracts are up.” “They are more than welcome here. I respect the two of them and enjoy working with them. It really would be nice if they did stay.” “My best guess is that is a ninety nine percent probability. One trick I was taught was to figure the odds of events. My mother is really very good at that.” “Then your going to be a great help in that way. I like looking at the odds of things happening as projected. Nothing ever works out just like you planned. But knowing where the odds are weak helps improve the plan.”

“When you need me just ask and I will be there. In your home I must be asked to appear as that is your private domain. There is nothing that will happen on Eden that I will not know. Any data from other planets is also in my data banks. That will allow you to follow events and have information before managers provide it. As I learn what your main interests are I will just automatically follow them.” “At this point Hope I have no idea of what I really need to know? So if you feel I should know, feel free to bring it to my attention. This is a learning experience for me as well as my people.” “John was in the same condition when he started. But the key is having a plan and working toward those goals. So your first big task is to look at the entire universe and make some bold decisions. Once that framework is there you can define steps to get the end results. But with John I learned he had the master plan and several below that for the what ifs. His plans were flexible and changed with events.” This type of knowledge was going to be of great value while learning. “You’re a great gift Hope and I will listen and learn. I am not foolish enough to think I have all the answers.” “John’s favorite game was what are all the questions. He could never be sure he had the answers until he knew all the questions.” That caused Valerie to really laugh. “I can see his point and feel the same way. Now I am going to walk the city and look at what we have brought into being.” As she walked the city she saw it was truly beautiful. The parks were nice and busy already. She found one long pier going out into the water and walked out. There was a small boat rental and slots for police boats. A small building was set beside the police boat area and she walked in. The three officers jumped and came to attention. “If I come in just keep to what you were doing. I am not special and am just a citizen like anyone. But I would appreciate one of you taking me out and showing me some of this island.” The sergeant nodded at one man and he came forward. “I will be happy to show you what you would like to see.” They got into a large boat and she took a seat on the bridge. It had large windows all around her and she could see better than one hundred and eighty degrees. The boat pulled out and headed for the islands end. They traveled for a good two hours before she saw her home. “How many homes are on the water?”

“You have fifteen managers who live on this island. Each home has a view of the lake. But there is no more than one hundred yards of open space at each home. The rest of the island is woods along the shore.” “I know that did not hold for the city. But do we have swimming beaches for the people there?” “That was not possible as the lake water is far to cold. This lake is fed by glaciers and the water at its warmest is just fifty degrees.” “So it is possible it could freeze in the winter?” “No as the water moves with a good current. But we have several indoor pools and two outdoor ones for the people. Your home has a pool at its side and both steam and sauna rooms. When it was built the master builder decided that having parties there in winter might be nice. You can see your ship of state sitting at the dock now.” The ship was huge and she could see just how big now. “Do you know how many that ship can hold?” “Oh yes as I am its captain when you use it. You have sixty suites that will hold a family of two parents and up to four children. Each has its own balcony over the water. There is a large dinning room with dance floor. Several rooms for sitting and talking, a pool, billiards room, small boat deck and many game areas out doors. The boat deck has smaller fishing boats that can be launched for people to fish.” “How in the world do you get it off the lake and to the ocean?” “A complete set of locks was built down river. The channel was dredged out to assure the depth. I can leave your dock and be in the ocean in two days time. Because of the waters flow the river will never freeze over either. But the ship was built to break ice. You also need to note that there are protective breakers around your inlet. That keeps storms from causing damage to the ship.” They headed back to the police docks and she enjoyed the scenery. Many deer were seen along the shore and they did not move as the boat went by. “How in the world do they keep the deer out of the fields on farms?” “You have laser fencing and no deer can get by that. They can see the beams and once they get a shock they don’t go near them. Matter of fact no animal can get into or out of that land.” “How did they do that?” “Alpha invented that type of fencing. Not even a mouse could get thought it. It has been improved and found to be very effective.”

“What about the wild life that was on the land to start with?” “They were trapped and moved. Under the fence are wires that stop any from burrowing under it.” She had learned so much today it was beyond her ability to absorb it all. But she knew it would slowly sink in. The young officer had been a very pleasant companion and she had enjoyed his willingness to share his knowledge. When they returned to the dock she thanked him. Then headed to her home. The day was starting to get dark and she wanted to sit out back and watch as the darkness fell. When she got to the patio there was hot tea for her and she poured a cup and sat down to watch. This was such an incredible place and she would be able to enjoy it for her lifetime. What a gift she had been given here. Finally she went in and had dinner. The cook had fixed fish caught that day by her fishing boat and it tasted great. The complex was still supplying most of the food needed by the planet. But that soon would change. The early residents now numbered over ten thousand and would grow at five thousand each week. With ten continents over this planet, people would settle where they could start growing crops quickly. Every one of these was to be settled. Some lands had been marked for never being used. They were large tracks used for parks. But this planet could handle a couple of billion people with out pushing it. ON the next morning she had breakfast at home and went to her office. There sat John waiting for her. He stood and hugged her. “Welcome to running a planet as well as a universe.” “To what do I owe this honor?” “Just making sure you have what you need here. Your city is beautiful and the views are great.” “That is thanks to your master builder John. I also owe you a lot for my new computer as well.” “I can tell you without Hope for me none of this would have been possible. She has been the mother of these universes as much as anyone. But your computer ran Alpha one and Johnstown for all the years we have been there. With the problems you face a computer that has been there and done that was critical.” “Well I named her Hope II. Our planet is Eden and the city Dawn. The story of the Garden of Eden was the reason for the planet name. The fact we are a the dawn of mans learning here was the reason for the cities.”

“They fit well and I like the idea behind them. Now is there anything I can do to help you?” “You have done so much to this point I am not sure what it could be?” “Judith and Thomas came to see me and asked to stay with you. I talked to Ned and have his blessing for Thomas. You have mine for Judith. The two of them will give you a good foundation of people to turn to for advice. Your largest problem is what I faced in the early days. I needed many different points of view I could hear before making a decision. No one had the answer but they all had a small piece for me. My skill was being able to pick out the pieces and assemble them.” “That was why the board for you?” “Yes they were my sounding board and gave me lots of ideas to work with. Your going to have to appoint a military commander and people to other important jobs. These people you have to trust and be willing to listen to. For me I allowed them to pretty much run the planets in their areas. They simply reported back on their departments. It allowed me to focus on the big picture.” She could see the wisdom in this way. “Are you saying I should try this?” “Not at all Valerie. I said it worked for me. Simon runs his universe with no board. Ned has a small group he trusts to ask questions of. Each of us is different and we need to find what works for us. Of course Simon and Ned use their wives for many discussions on decisions. I also talk with Faith and we work well together. But she is also on my board.” She could see what not being married was going to do here. ‘I have not taken the time to find a mate. That is something I will need to do. But finding the right one is going to be hard here.” “Let me say this Valerie. Faith and I are friends first and lovers second. She is where I am safe in any storm. That close friendship has made our love work well. When I was building Alpha she handled all of the logistics for the planets. I had to push her to learn what she was doing. Her entire focus was on helping me.” “What does she do today?” “She handles all trade between planets and was the one who saw to the ship I sent you. Much of what you received was her ideas. You will find she is very bright and hides it as often as she can.” “Your captain said it was from you?”

“Repeating words she gave him. Faith would no more take credit for that than try to fly. She sees what she did as an extension of me. I cannot tell you how close our friendship is.” This was impressive and for John to admit it said a lot. “You really love her don’t you?” “If I lost her I could not go on.” “I need to find someone I can find that kind of feelings for.” “There were built slowly over time Valerie. It just did not happen all at once. But Faith was one of Hope’s creations and they tend to be very loyal.” She knew this was true, as she had been created this way. “I have wondered why a woman was chosen this time?” “That has always been an option. It is not a mans world. But it required the right person, at the right place, at the right time. Your stepping up and assuming responsibility when you did made the difference. Without you that triumvirate would have failed badly. Most of the time they followed your suggestions as it was. So who better to sit her?” She had not seen this that way. “It does help me understand some of this. But to be honest I have known nothing but work for the last five years. Much of the things I would have done I did not do. My fear now is getting close to a man will make him want to share the decision making.” “Look Faith shares much of my decision making. But she does it from love and the desire to protect me. I have to take the problem to her before she will offer any opinion. So do some dating and see what each man is like. See who is willing to stand back and just watch and who wants in the middle. The right man will show themselves to you.” That was a sound way to handle this. “I see your point and I do need companionship. This is a very lonely job. So I will run a party each weekend and invite different men to act as my escort. It will at least give me a break from the job.” John left her with a mind running at full speed.

Chapter 23 Time of Change There had been many weekend parties and so far Valerie had seen no one she felt she could trust. The last for a time was to be on the ship for a long weekend. Her captain had taken it to the ocean and was waiting for the party to arrive. She had twenty couples

coming and this time just had ten single men and women. Having an escort was getting her down. After arriving the people had all been settled into their suites. Dinner was a very nice affair and she walked the decks and watched the water. After most had headed to bed she went to the bridge and sat with the policemen who was her captain of the ship. “What made you want to join the police?” “I am very good with ships and boats. They needed someone with my skills. For me the water is the most peaceful place in the world. Here I love standing on the bridge and sailing the ship. Life for me is not complex and that I enjoy.” The two talked all night and enjoyed each other’s company. They finally went down for breakfast. “Would you be willing to be my escort at dinner tonight?” “I am afraid I might be a bore to many here.” “As long as your not to me who cares?” He laughed at this and she enjoyed his seeing humor here. “I am always at your command. But on the personal side I would enjoy that.” They both headed off to get some sleep and she thought about this simple man and how much she enjoyed him. He was not into the complex and liked what he did. That he had turned down promotions was also interesting to her. “Hope will you get me all the data on Joseph you can find?” “Of course and there is a lot.” Valerie took a hot shower and went to bed. She got up five hours later and read through the data on Joseph. “How in the world has this man escaped some woman’s trap?” “He has found no one with the love of the water he has. The promotions would have taken him off the police boats. He has an IQ of well over one fifty. So he is very smart even by our standards. But many people bore him as they are so small minded.” “He is very smart and he knows so much.” “That is because he is a marine engineer and has time to study our many waters. He over saw your safe harbor for this ship and designed the dock for the city. Many of your managers have had him design their docks. On the side he teaches boating classes.”

“Then he does stay busy?” “If he has a class they are always full. He has trained every policeman who handles boats. Most of the officers like to go with him to fish, as he knows the lake structure and where the fish will be.” This was a very complex man and she liked that. She dressed with care and then met Joseph at the door to the dinning room. He was in his captain’s uniform and they made a good looking couple. Dinner was nice and he talked about the boat if asked a question. But other wise he listened and watched Valerie. When asked some question about government. he just said that was not his area of expertise. Never could he be drawn in to offer an opinion. After dinner the two walked the outer decks and leaned on the rails and watched the ocean. Not much was said yet they were both comfortable. When people came up to them he just stepped back and let Valerie handle them. “I could never do what you do. People are OK, but they always ask question that they should know the answers for. Yet they expect you to send down wisdom they have missed.” She laughed at his comment. “I am used to it now Joseph. But in a few short weeks they are going to be shocked. If they manage a department they will be responsible for it. I will hold them accountable, as I have other things to do. This summer has been their training period. After this trip they had better be coming to tell me and not ask.” “That is a wise move. If they get to use to checking everything they will hold you responsible for the mistakes. Here on this ship I am responsible for every life on it. So I take my job very serious. There is nothing to small for me not to be concerned with. But once they leave the ship it is their life to be responsible for.” This told her more about Joseph than anything she had read. “Why have you turned down promotions?” “I am a marine engineer and a policeman second. My interests are in the waters, life there and in design of new boats or ships. One day I will have my own shipyard and build them. I’ve found I like sailing ships on this lake. I built a small one and have had lots of fun with it. Being power by the wind is a nice feeling. There is harmony in getting it just right.” “I am impressed and would love to try that.” “It is not very big, but I would love to show you.”

She turned and looked into his steely blue eyes and knew this was her man. She reached up and kissed him and he returned it. Then she took his hand and led him to her cabin. The next morning when she woke he was gone. That disappointed her. But shortly he walked in with a tray with breakfast on it. “Sorry but I had duties to see to. But I did bring breakfast back for us.” He was tall, strong and very attractive to her. “I hope when we get back you will move in with me.” “That request I could never say no to. But I warn you I’m a very quiet man and don’t talk just to hear my own voice. If you can stand that then we might get along together.” “Joseph I feel good with you just in the room.” They ate on the balcony and enjoyed the water. Dolphins were racing the ship and Valerie had never seen them before. So Joseph explained how they were also mammals and very smart. He made some strange sounds and the entire school started calling back to him. She watched this for sometime and they finally left. “Were you communicating with them?” “Yes they have their own language. But I now know where a large school of tuna is. If some of your guests would enjoy catching fish between sixty and one hundred and forty pounds I can make that happen.” He went to the bridge and announced to the people what he had found. Several of the men wanted to try their luck. Each was sent out in a smaller boat and lines were rigged for tuna. In each case a boat had a fish on the line. Some fights lasted an hour but the fish were brought in. That night for dinner tuna steaks were served. The fishermen were pleased with the days catch. All extra steaks were packaged for them to take home. The largest fish that day was one hundred and forty-two pounds. Each man had a picture of him and his fish. “You know that those men will mount that picture in their offices.” “Yes, it is something most men will never get to do. The tuna require being well out to sea to fish for. Without a ship this large your not going to fish for them. Your fishing boat can get out here, but anything less would never make it.” “I have become very fond of eating fresh fish from that boat. Every day something new is sent to the house.” “Well I am addicted to fish as well. So we will at least share that. But every now and then I like a big steak cooked on a grill.”

Here she had no idea what a grill was. “How do you cook on a grill?” “I use wood and have built several of them for my friends. The grill is metal and you use good wood under the unit to provide the heat. Certain woods add flavor to the meat. So you end up smoking it as you cook it.” “You will have to build one for the patio at the house. Then you can educated me on the finer points of using it.”

Chapter 24 Celebration The days had gone well for Joseph and Valerie. They fit together like neither could believe. He had left the police and now had a small shipyard just at the end of the city.

The idea was not to make money, but to break even on its costs. He built police boats, costal patrol boats and sailboats. His designs had caused many orders to come in from all over the planet. The one boat he would not build was fishing boats. There was just not that much you could change. This new relationship had caused a lot of gossip. Had it been a man leading the planet and universe not that much would have been said. But Valerie just let it flow off her like water off a ducks back. For Joseph it was very different. He had turned down boat offers because of things said to him. One manager really pissed him off and he let go on him. That sent the message clearly not to cross him or his wife to be. On the day of the wedding John, Simon and Ned came with their wives. The ladies spent time helping Valerie get ready and the men went to the boatyard and enjoyed the ships Joseph was building. They all wanted a sail boat Ned for the lake and John and Simon for the ocean. So he agreed to build them. But they would have to send a freighter to pick them up. He was given the new cloth to start using for sails, as it would never rip during heavy winds. A small plant would be built just to make it for him. But these men found a fellow soul in Joseph and they were all comfortable with him. His easy ways and lack of pretension fit them well. That afternoon they all assembled on the ship, as that was where the two decided to get married. Then they would sail for the next ten days and enjoy a honeymoon. The two saw this as just formalizing what existed. It was really more for the people than them. They were as connected as any two could be. John gave the bride away and Ned stood as best man. Simon preformed the service and it seemed to also tie the universes together even more. Just a few were invited to the ship for this ceremony and the managers left out were concerned they might have hurt themselves. It was a message Valerie wanted sent. The dinner that evening was one of many different types of fish and meats. It was served buffet style and people could get whatever they wished. The four universe leaders sat together with their spouses and enjoyed the food. Then a large cake was rolled out for the couple to cut. It had been made to look like a large sailboat on ocean waters. In fact it was a replica of the one now being built for Valerie by Joseph. It was his gift to her. “I am impressed with the size of this.” Valerie had not seen the boat yet. “It really is not that big. But we will need a crew of four when we sail. If needed we could take ten people in comfort and enjoy sailing. But it will handle any ocean and be safe.” “Where will we dock it?”

“Next to your fishing boat. That way it is already on the ocean. On weekends we can sail to warmer waters. Then the crew can return the boat home.” It was a nice break for them both and she would enjoy the sailing. His small boat was at their dock and they sailed often now. “I purchased something for you from John.” She handed him an old brass sextant and he was excited. “This is very old and of great quality. I love that you thought of it for me.” He hugged her and they both could feel the love they had for each other. John came up and explained where the sextant had come from. There was a story behind it and Joseph appreciated that it had been used thousands of years ago by sailing men. “It is these kinds of things that make the sea so interesting to me. There is a rich history of sailing and its impact on humans. For many today that is hard to remember. But for us to have a future we must remember the past.” “Joseph you’re a man after my own heart. So you will find in your room several very old instruments from sailing ships. I have included some old coins found from shipwrecks on the old Earth. But Simon has asked me to give you this ring. It belonged to a distant relative that sailed ships on his world. It is a ring of the church and will protect you and Valerie when your out in deep waters.” The ring had an anchor carved into it and was of a black stone. He slipped it on his finger and it felt as it had always been there. “I will be sure to thank him. Out at sea I always feel closer to the Creator than any other time.” When he had the chance he did thank Simon and they hugged. “Look Joseph you will get glimpses of what is coming from that ring. Heed the warning it gives you. It comes directly from the Creator and should never be ignored.” Those words he took very seriously. “Most of the time I will have Valerie’s life in my hands as well. Be assured I will listen.” Once the dinner and party was over the two headed to the master cabin. It looked out over the stern of the ship and had its balcony to the side. Everyone had left and it was just them and the crew. Joseph showed her the ring Simon had given him and the many things John had. Ned had left him a 1.5 million year old book of religion. Because of its age there was much about sailing ships in it. “That was a very nice gift from Ned. The book is worth tens of millions of credits. But he collects them and has many different ones. The ring was unexpected by me from Simon. That does give you status in the church you know. Thomas you and I are the only ones with these rings. If you pick up that religious book with both hands the ring will glow brightly.”

Joseph did as she suggested and the ring did glow. “I had no idea of this. My vision of the Creator has always been a personal one. Out on the ocean it is like he is right beside me.” “Now he is with you always. Now lets walked the deck and watch the sea.” They walked and saw no one. Once on the bridge one man was guiding the ship. “What does the weather look like in front of us?” “We will see a couple of squalls tonight and clear tomorrow. The wave action will not be bad, so you should sleep well. The island we are headed for is very clear and the weather is nice.” “What island is that Joseph?” “It is where I swim with the dolphins. You need to consider placing a resort there, as many people would love the waters and the dolphins.” “Swimming in ocean waters has always frightened me. The sharks are not very careful about their meals.” “Where there are dolphins you will find no sharks. A dolphin will protect a human at the risk of its own life from a shark.” That she had not known. “Well I am now to get educated about the sea.” “That is the only thing I really know about. I have spent my life so far learning and yet I still know little. The subject is so vast that no man will ever know it all.” They headed to their cabin and some sleep. Early the next day they sat on the stern deck and had breakfast. It was the first time they watched the sun come up. “I have enjoyed seeing this.” “Sunrise and sunsets are the most beautiful times on the ocean. For me they are a high point of the day. Now later today I will take that old sextant, get my readings and see how close I can come to our position. The modern instruments are great, but being able to fix your position without them is satisfying.” She knew he prided himself on his ability to fix his position as close as the modern tools could. “Could you navigate a spaceship that way?” “With a good star map I would think that was possible. At night I use two stars to fix the position. In daytime the sun fills the bill. Over time here I have built maps of the oceans. I have tide charts and can give you the time for both high and low tides. There are places

that cannot be entered except at high tide. At low tide the rocks below the water would rip the ships bottom open.” Those places were not for her. “I think we need to stay where it is safe.” “My dear wife safety is knowing the bottom and when it is safe to cross. Running a ship requires lots of knowledge to do it well. So your as safe as the person who is captain of the ship. Here we run by my rules. That is do nothing your not absolutely sure of. When we get to the island I will be on the bridge to guide us in. That is a very narrow opening and requires experience.” They enjoyed the sun and light winds. Both read and just were happy to be together. Every once in a while they would catch the other looking at them and it was like they had been caught passing notes in school. So much of their communications had become nonverbal. With the island in view Joseph went to the bridge. Valerie went along to watch. She watched how carefully he worked the ship into the cove. Never was there a moment’s indecision. She hoped she could learn to guide the universe this way. This man in his environment was master of it. She knew that was a lesson she needed to learn for her own environment. They dropped anchor and the ship was set in place. He led her down to have lunch before some relaxation on the deck. After a time to digest the food he took her down to a very small boat and they changed to swim suits. The door on the side of the ship was opened and they left it in the small inflatable craft. It had an electric motor that moved the little boat quickly into position. Here another anchor was dropped and they entered the water. As they were swimming several dolphins came to them. She was allowed to pet them and slowly they surrounded them. Joseph made some odd sounds and told her to hold on to the dolphins fin. Then it took her for a ride above and below water. This mammal was so gentle and very careful of her. They ended up playing with these animals for over an hour. Finally Joseph took her back to the small craft and tossed out fish to the group of dolphins. These were caught in midair, a couple of these mammals jumped over the inflatable and laughed at Valerie’s surprise. When they returned to the ship she was excited. “I have never seen such gentle creatures.” “They know more about the oceans than any living human. As a whole they are very intelligent and become a close family group. We humans have much to learn from them. I have seen them helping an injured dolphin to a safe place to recover. Then they stand guard to assure them the time needed for that. This life form will swim out of the way of trouble when possible. But they will fight to protect their family or to defend a human. Man needs to be more like this creature.”

Here were some good lessons and guidelines for her to consider. “I see why your so in love with this species. In the water I felt no fears and was sure I was safe. This was an experience I will never forget.” They spent many days swimming with the animals. She saw more of the underwater world than she could believe. There was a great peace in that kingdom and she enjoyed it. The days flew by so quickly she could not believe it. But the time came to return to the human world. Joseph took the ship out of the cove and turned it over to the captain. Then they headed home. At her office the next day she had assembled the main management of Eden. “People I am now turning over control of all government functions to you. Your each are responsible for your departments and their functions. Don’t come to me for me to make your decisions, as it will not happen. You each will be held accountable for your area of responsibility. I don’t have the time to manage your jobs and my own as well. Now are there any questions?” A few had some, but nothing major. That seemed to hit home with them. “Now I expect monthly reports on your departments and to see your planning for the future. Unless I see some glaring error I will not comment. I expect some mistakes to happen. How you recover from them is more critical to me. Now you may wonder what I will be doing? My job is the long term planning here and for the universe. As I see the need for change you will be given an outline of where I want to go. With that you will need to decide how best to get there. Any failure to reach goals is reason for new management. You each have had your honeymoon with your job, now it is time to take responsibility.” Here she stood and walked away from the table. “Alyssa please stay and discus a couple of issues.” The rest left the room and she could see a glint in her security chief’s eye. “I would say we now have marching orders. But I have been waiting for this to come.” “Why did you expect it?” “You have given everyone time to adjust to their responsibilities. Now your job has far more implications that are well beyond Eden. In my way of seeing things this is exactly what John, Simon or Ned would have done. So I expected no less from you.” “Are they ready for this?” “Most will do fine and a few will faultier. But that is a part of growing up and to be expected.”

“We will see how this works out. I just no longer have the time to hold hands. Now for your area I want to see how far we can move a planet technology wise. That will require just one planet to learn from. Space flight is to be prevented at all costs. So the planet computer will be instructed to sabotage any who try. We will install a planet computer and use it to help bring them to a more modern future. Government will need to be in hands that are not unfriendly to us. War is to be considered futile and diplomacy the way to handle problems. But the planet must be brought to a single government system. What I want is a big order, but I need it to see how to bring others into modern times.” This Alyssa thought about for a short time. “I can see a few ways we may be able to reach your goals. It is going to take some miracles people can see to move things our way. But with a careful plan and a step by step approach we should get there. How much time do I have to get this done?” “Lets say five years for now and it may be longer or shorter. I don’t want the church in the middle of this. Using them would cause the same radicals that settled here. It must be a separate part of the people’s world. I want people who are level headed and can see the benefits of a large economy. But everyone must prosper for this to work. So doing away with a poor class of people is critical to success.” “Now you have made it harder and may be a longer process. But we will find ways to work around your prohibitions. It seems you want a division between church and state.” “Yes the church is the counselors of the people, government is the active side. If one or the other have all the power then there is no controls. We need the two to work toward the same goals but from different points of view. Ask Thomas to advise you about how to use the church.” “Won’t he be pro church?” “Not at all Alyssa. He will show you how you can use them to be effective. I trust Thomas as much as any one here including Joseph. Once you work with him you will find out why.” “I have my orders and now there is a lot to do. Once I have a plan you will get a copy.” She headed to her office and some heavy days of planning. Valerie headed out to walk and think and made her way to the shipyard. She had never seen the boat Joseph was building for her and wanted to do so. Standing on the boardwalk the cake had not done justice to the actual boat. Joseph was over seeing the painting of the boats bottom. But he saw her and waved for her to come down. “It is more beautiful that the cake could present. Can I see the inside of her?” “That is your boat my dear you’re the captain of it. Once launch I am just a crew member.”

“In what cold day will that be true?” His laugh was pleasing to her. “I am serious as can be. You need your own vessel to be the absolute master of. Now you may not be sure of doing that but it will come. You’re a strong woman and one driven to knowledge and control. This will be a stepping stone of learning for you. This ship or the ship of state has the same rules and requirements. It requires you take responsibility for those on the boat and you know how to sail it. Some lessons you learn on this boat will transfer to your other job.” The idea now had much good sense in it. “Let me see what I am captain of.” They walked the deck and down to the small cabins below. These were no luxury suite like on the big ship. But were comfortable and nicely set up. There was a kitchen and seating area for people to sit and talk. There were two bathrooms and electric power motors for moving in or out of docks. It did not have all the glitz of the large ship, but should be very comfortable for ten people and a crew of four. “Remind me not to invite people I don’t want to be close with. This boat makes for very close quarters and having people around you don’t care for could be bad.” “That is your first lesson learned. If you would not want them here, why would you want them on your team running the planet? If I remember reading John’s book right, he said that a good team is only as good as its weakest link.” She admired his honesty and openness. “Who would you say is my weak link?” “I have no idea at all? You know I stay out of your political life. But you indicated there are some you would not want here, so they must exist. On this boat each person must be willing to assume responsibility for the others, when they act as part of the team. This is not just something to enjoy, but teaches teamwork and depending on each other. Who are you willing to allow to hold your life and mine in their hands?” This hit home with her and she saw he was right. The boat was a great learning tool and she would use it as he had meant it to be used. “Looking at this from that point of view I have a lot of work to do yet here.” She kissed him and hugged him and headed back to her office. “Hope we have matters to clean up.” “Yes, I heard the conversation on the boat. Joseph is very wise in his own way. His advice was right on the money. There is no interest in being in government by him, but he does not want to see you struggle. But you do have some I can see will not survive after today’s meeting.”

“As soon as you see anyone in trouble I need to know. But I then need a better replacement for them.” “Our new clones are better and smarter than before. I can educate one to assume a job with the knowledge they need to have. Many of the people today running departments don’t see why you’re the leader and they are not. That is a not good here, as they cannot run their own jobs.” “We need to correct it but it cannot seem like a purge. Insert people in each department where a change is possible and follow them. If they are held back let me know and I will get into it.” Valerie was sure this was a good move. “I at present have enough evidence to convict these people of treason. They were foolish enough to send each other e-mails stating their displeasure with you. A few have gone far enough to suggest a revolt would be possible.” “The five commanders of the spaceships need to come and sit with me. I want them to see what you have and advise me.” Shortly three men and two women walked into her office. Judith had been summoned and they all sat at the conference table. Hope laid out her e-mails and other information she had gathered and they all were shocked. “Now the question is what do I do about this?” Valerie had shown no facial expression at all during the presentation. Judith was the first to speak. “By law they have committed treason. In a court they would get life in prison. But this could sew seeds of dissention between the older clones and the newer ones.” The captains had been conferring and came to a conclusion. “We would suggest they and their families be removed and sent to one of the new planets. If placed on Eden five it will be years before that is settled. They should not be placed close together. With no communications with this planet and living alone they may one day see the errors of their ways. But a military trial on one of the ships and a sentence passed will make this all real. Their next stop would be a prison cell and life working to feed themselves.” “I want Judith to sit in on each trial and certify the convictions. Without her approval there is no conviction.” “We will keep a record of each trial and send a copy here as well. If questions come up the trials will serve to answer questions.” Judith could see the harm that could come from this. Hope had held her opinion until now. “I think your not looking at some facts. One these are people of the old incubator and not the new ones I am producing. Two my creations

no out number the older ones. Three this new group is completely loyal to Valerie. So having the trials here and doing this openly is the far better route. The military can take credit for finding this plot. They brought it to Judith and she advised Valerie. The military should make the arrests publicly. These people should be brought in and charged and given the proof we have. Then a normal trial run and verdicts handed down. Then Judith can certify those results. But prison for those people will make others think long and hard about playing games.” Valerie looked to Judith now. “Hope makes good sense and I for one think she is right. If your ever caught that you hid this the people would turn on you. The question would be if she hid this what else don’t we know?” “This is all new ground to me people. I want this to be a legal matter. So my decision is we do as Judith decides. She is the law here and it must fit her vision of our laws. I am not beyond the law myself.” Judith liked what she saw here and was ready. “Hope is any spouse involved with this?” “Yes about half of them. I have communications between some of the wives. But not all seem to be in this boat.” Here Judith considered this. “OK we arrest every main player by military police and bring them to the headquarters building. There we will supply them with copies of the documentation. Then we pick up the spouses involved and do the same thing. None are to see each other or their spouse. A judge will be set for tomorrow and each will be tried one at a time. This all will be on an open feed. Those who are convicted of treason will be sent to me at the high court and that will be open to all as well. Our laws say to conspire is the same as to do it.” Valerie was glad she did not have to do this. But she would watch each trial and see how these went. “Now each arresting officer from the military will need to present their evidence to the judge. Nothing that is not confirmed by documents may be brought into the trial. Simply state facts and leave it there. If you have conversations as part of the evidence they will be heard with Hope identifying the people. She knows just how this is done so there is no worry there. Expect the defendants to lie and have stories that others created the documents. Here Hope will once more state the facts. There is no doubt that the planet computer didn’t know who dictated the messages and sent them.” The captains were in agreement now. “We will lead the arrest teams with five more brother or sister officers. Each will have ten troopers with us and two will be left at the doors of the building. The person will be walked to the headquarters building in plain sight. No information will be released and Hope needs to follow people’s communications for any strays. Spouses will be brought to the main park and walked from there. But I expect there are more involved than the ones we know of.”

“Alyssa will follow the events and watch the results Hope gets. Hope will need to brief her on this and our actions.” “I don’t think that is wise Valerie. My feeling is she has one manager that might be involved. I am watching him and if any word came out inside the security service office we might not get him.” “OK let the military handle it all. But you need to feed them data to keep up arrests.” This was really not comfortable for her. One woman captain saw her discomfort. “We are not police and are not interested in becoming that. The five of us came from other universes and have seen first hand the problems man has inflicted on himself. Each of us has chosen to stay here because of you. That was due to your willingness to take it slow and bring these worlds to the technology they need. We know from Alyssa of your desire to try things with just one world and see what can happen. She has our recommendations for where to start. So this group has just one issue and that is your staying in power and out front.” “William made me a little gun shy of the military.” “He made us gun shy and we worked for him. Each ship is just a normal group of citizens. We all want a home and to be on solid ground one day. Your have the start of a great government planet and see yourself as nothing special. That fits our vision of what a leader should be. In my book your as close to a female John as we could ask for.” That seemed to be shared by the entire group. “This is in your hands and I will not be stepping into it. It will for a time demoralize these departments. That we can fix as soon as the trials are over. Then I will step in and make repairs. But Alyssa needs to know what is happening. So she needs to be taken aboard a ship and brought up to date. It may help you catch her problem child. Tell her at first it is to discuss some ideas on planets. With her out the man there might be more willing to make a move?” “I will ask her to come to my ship and we will then bring her into the loop. But I need your permission to keep her there and let her advise us.” “You have it and she is to cooperate with you. Hope will see she knows that is my request.” “That I will cover for you Valerie. She is a very bright lady and might be able to provide us help.” The meeting was over and the captains returned to their ships to set up the troops. Alyssa was called to a ship and briefed. The woman was madder than a hornet. But she saw the wisdom in the way this was being handled. She set up an observation post watching her

possible manager and keep close track. There were a total of sixteen people to be picked up right now. But troops and officers were ready with ten more arrest teams. They would be on the ground and go after the other six as soon as the first ten arrests were completed. No live feeds were to be used of the arrests. That night they would be shown on the newscast. As the charges were not made public, they could only say the arrests were made. A group of police officers were now in the building where Valerie’s office was just in case. Joseph had been called to her office and he listened to the story. “I am not really shocked by this. There were people I saw that were very nice to you and behind your back said different things. So what is our plan for tonight?” “We will leave here and go home.” “I don’t think that is wise my dear. Your going to wound an animal and it is going to fight back.” “What are you suggesting?” “You need to go to one of the ships. I am going home and make things look like normal. But I have fifteen robots I will arm and when they come and they will, we will get them.” “I don’t want you at risk.” “Hey I was a policeman and know what I am doing. I am not stupid and will not place myself at risk. But I expect those who come to be wearing personal force fields. Those I need to shutdown and then we will take them.” “Can that be done?” “If it could not be done police would be at great risk. Then if people knew it could be done they would be at even more risk.” “I don’t like you doing this.” “That is not an option for you. My hands need to be free to act and if you were there I could not do that. So if your safe and I know it I can do what must be done.” She kissed him and headed for one spaceship. He went to the house and set up his robots. He told them to aim at legs if at all possible. But they would be firing laser guns and if they hit in a vital area they would kill. That was allowed in this case, as the attack was treason. He had his people well spread out and watching for breaks in the laser fences. He set up two dummies on the patio and went to the second floor office. Here he could watch every feed on the property. This security system he had set up before he even knew Valerie.

As he watched he saw some odd things happening. Electrical levels dropped at one section of the fence. He was sure the lasers were being bent to allow entry space. All it took was a glass rod bent to the right shape. That would carry light and emit it where it was to be. He advised his people where they would be coming from. Then watched the group move through the orchard. You could see they did not have military training. If they had then they would have crawled toward the house and not walked at it. The robots started to close in behind the invaders. Three were on top of the roof and were watching from there. The final count was twelve and he knew some would be back at the fence. Two robots were holding that area and saw just two standing there and waiting. Joseph let the two men come around the building and fire at the dummies. That was all he needed for a conviction. Lights went on all over the area. “You can drop you weapons or we will use deadly force.” The group started to fire every way at once. He deactivated their force fields and ordered his troops to fire. The two at the fence were dropped at once. Then they started to fall like flies. Robots came in and disarmed the people. The two that had fired the shots at the patio Joseph took out himself. Both were nice clean headshots. The robots now had all those inside the fence down and cuffed them. Joseph’s two dead ones were brought around and dumped on the ground. Then the two robots from the fence brought their two and added them to the collection. A woman and man were sat up in front of Joseph. “Now you going to talk either the easy way or the hard way. That is your choice. But I assure you, you will talk.” “Your can’t do anything to us.” “That is where your very wrong. I am the only one sanctioned to kill in this or any other universe. You will find that I have that power directly from the Creator when evil is present. If you doubt it watch your two dead friends as they are take by him.” A bright light came down and they vanished. “Now the dark universe is waiting for you. How do you wish to go alive or dead?” The man broke down and was crying. “This was to be a simple thing.” “Evil is always portrayed to be simple. Now how many are there in your group?” The man started to tell it all. Everything was caught on the feed running. He named over fifty people and the woman added ten more.

“Now be sure you have missed no one or the price will be very high.” Others were pulled up and they also added names to the list. When they were all done the list had one hundred and four names. “Now you each will be allowed to testify in court. If you fail to be honest you will be taken right there to the dark universe. With the truth you will serve long prison sentences. But you will be alive. Now you will be taken for medical care and then to jail. If you decide there not to cooperate just say so and you will just disappear like your friends did. I assure you what you find on the other side will not be nice.” Many military troops came in and removed those he had caught. Then Valerie came to him and hugged him. “Is what you said true about your being sanctioned to kill?” “Yes I am the tool of the Creator in that regard. I have had a long relationship with him and follow his directions. Does that change anything for you?” “Not in the least, but it does answer many questions. No one on the ship knew of anyway to turn off a force field. So that had to be the Creators work.” He smiled at her. “He can do anything he wishes. There may come times when I must leave for a few days or weeks. It will be at his direction and not by choice. But if he calls me I must answer that call.” “Does anyone else know of your connection?” “No I would have like it if you had not known. But I was originally sent here to see to your safety. That was to be at a distance and things changed that. Permission was granted for us to marry and I have been very happy since. So know when he called you a daughter he did mean it.” “How in the world did you know that?” “I know of the book of life and where it is. There are not many things that happen between the Creator and man I don’t know.” “I thought you were one of the computer creations?” “No I am one of the Creators creations. He made me and placed me in the world of humans. I was his personal weapon to help direct man. One small thing I have is the ability to see evil. He has given me the power to judge mankind. The two who shot the dummies placed on the patio were pure evil. All the rest were followers. Those two I gave to the dark universe. They truly belonged there. Most of my life is simple and enjoyable for me. But I do see some trying times.” “Is no one else to know about your powers?”

“Not unless the Creator tells them.” “I am living with the perfect man now. That may take some getting used to.” “Don’t ever think that Valerie, as I am as human as any. Every human has small imperfections and we all must live with them. It is how we do that in his eyes as to our value. Your just learning how evil humans can be. But expect to see more of it over the years. After these trials there will be peace here. That you can count on.”

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