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by J D Marksman

Running with desperation, John Marksman turns a corner and collides with an old woman coming out of a pet store.
Picking himself off the ground, he continues on his way without a backward glance at the downed woman who had
dissolved into thin air, hoping to get as much distance between himself and whatever that thing was that was chasing
him a block away.
It was a huge shadow of over seven feet tall with little distinction of features or resemblance to humanity except that
it had a humanoid form. It could pass through matter at will making it difficult to purchase a grip on it. So the only
recourse was to make like a tree and leave as fast as possible.
Turning to see if his attacker was still following him, he gasps as air is rasping his strained lungs. "Nothing back
there. Good, now maybe I can relax for once." With determination, he catches the shuttle bus that had just stopped
for passengers. Slipping into a vacant seat at the rear of the bus, he finds himself slowly falling to sleep.
"Stop! Leave me alone. Let go of me. Help!" Suddenly he is awake once more and staring into sixteen faces of
bewilderment all turning to stare at him. Pausing momentarily to get his bearings, he asks, "Yes, is there something
you want?" in a calm dignified manner as if nothing out of the ordinary had just occurred.
Slowly, they all turn around with a few giving backward glances his way --including the bus driver.
'Ah, who cares what they think anyhow', he muses to himself. Abruptly, he chuckles softly as he recalls what just
happened and his miraculous escape from that 'thing' so as not to stir any more unwanted attention to himself again.
Disembarking, he heads straight to the corner deli store near his apartment to get a quick sandwich. Stuffing his
mouth with it, he nearly gags. After a few determined chews, he decides to slow down abit or else he will die from
choking on a sandwich instead of at the 'hands' of that mysterious follower. "Better this than that thing out there," he
With a beeping from the phone, he nearly jumps out of his skin. But before reaching it, it become dead silent.
"Well, if it was important, they will call again soon enough." As if on queue, it beeps once more and he answers it.
"Is this John Marksman?" a stranger asks from the other end of line.
"Um... no. Who wants to know?"
"This is his employer, NetStart. If he's not there at the moment, would you tell him that if he doesn't show up for
work tomorrow, he can start looking for another job."
"I'll tell him as soon as he gets in, thank you." With that said, he hangs up and slumps into the couch suddenly
depressed. "Of all the things I have to contend with right now, this is not something at the top of the totem pole for
Again, the phone beeps for him to answer. "Who is it!" he snaps.
"Sorry John, didn't realize this was a bad time for me to call." the girl asks him.
"I'm just a little frazzled right now, Tina, that's all. What's up?"
"Did you change your mind about our date tonight?" she asks.

"What time did we set it for?" Sounding foggy.

"You were suppose to have met me here at the Mall 10 minutes ago. This isn't like you to miss an appointment
John, or be late. You know this is a special thing for us. What's going on, are you alright John... John?"
"Yeah, I'm ok," he said with a big sigh rippling out of him. "Can you give me another fifteen minutes?"
"Sure. There was a new shop opening up on the upper level that caught my fancy the other day, so maybe while
you're on your way, I'll check it out. Don't be too long, though."

"As I said, this thing was huge, Tina. It literally came out of nowhere ten feet away and started coming after me as
though I had done something unforgivable against it." Since there weren't much else to tell about the experience, he
tried to sound cheerful. "Hey, maybe it was a hallucination. I have been doing too much these past few weeks.
That must be it," he suggests, not really believing it himself.
"Well, as long as it doesn't show its 'face' again," with that she giggles, "you'll be in the clear, right?"
"I sure hopes so. I can't be running much more without loosing my job."
"Oh no. Did they give you another warning? They said the next time would be the last one."
"Yeah, they called me right before you did, but I pretended to be someone else as they talked. I don't intend to loose
my job because of this last incident.
"Okay," she says. Changing the subject, Tina gives a few options for him to choose from for their remaining time
together that evening. After making their decision, they opted for popcorn and the new movie now showing in the
theater called "The Star Stranger".

"O'Lean, did you really have to jump on him like you did? We're not allowed to damage these creatures without
being reprimanded." A creature of pulsating lights within a misty shell declared to the one enshrouded in thick
"I wanted to see what his reaction would be this time," he replied. "It wasn't as bad as your confrontation last
"Well, the next time I appear to him, I am changing into something else completely. Something more acceptable to
these creatures so there will not be a reason to run off acting crazy like our undesirables did."
"There are only four more tests we can give him before we can be sure, you understand. After that, they are either
accepted or left to their own devices and/or eradicated."
Turning around to face her companion, she glows bright sparks at him with irritation. "Why wasn't I informed of
this possible decision to eradicate them?"
"There are some things, T'Lier, that even you are not privileged to know, even though we are mated," he replied
"In that case, I will appear to this creature in a form similar to its kind and attempt to communicate with him."
"Just as long as you do not endanger our mission," he warned.
With that agreed upon, she begins to contemplate her new form in which she will appear before John.

Four days later, John was returning from an assignment to re-install programs on a very stubborn system at a
subsidiary company when he had his next encounter.
After parking the company van into its pre-assigned slot, he noticed a woman coming towards him from an area that
no one should have been able to. Instantly he was on his guard but overcome by her beauty.
"May I help you," he asks.
"Do you know if your company provides tours to outsiders?" she inquired.
"I believe they do, but only by appointment."
"Oh dear. I was hoping to visit with your president or other company official while I was in the area so I wouldn't
have to come back again which would be out of the way on my next visit in this area." Putting enough frustration
and emotion as she had noticed others of his kind do, she detected in his aura that she did it right, because he was
caught in a difficult decision. She didn't really need to ask for permission to enter these facilities since she could
have gone in undetected and unrestrained if she chose to. But this was another of his tests.
"Come with me and I'll ask my boss," he replied in a helpful manner.
Smiling behind him, she follows his lead to the main lobby of the building. "By the way miss, how did you manage
to get past the guard?"
"I was dropped off by a ride I got after my car had a flat. One of your co-workers drove me through but had to go
elsewhere on the company compound. He didn't know anything so I waited for the next one to come through, and
that was you."
"Oh." Is all he said.
Coming through the doors, he asked Silvia, the receptionist, to buzz his boss and ask if he would sanction his giving
a non-worker a tour of the complex.
A few moments later to his dismay, his boss came out and told him only those areas that the yellow line went to.
The ones with the red lines were much more interesting than the yellow lined route. So after he unloaded his gear
and came back out for his guest, the two of them went on the restricted tour.
Halfway through her tour, in a closed, isolated room, T'Lier stops and asks John a most unusual question which
brought the look of fearful realization on his face. "Why do you concern yourselves with the possibility of a
radiation leakage contaminating your bodies? Wouldn't it be much better to change form before manipulating these
toxic mediums or before conducting your business with these energy sources?"
"What do you mean, 'change form'. Besides, these materials, if not shielded, would contaminate all forms of life if
they were not contained as you see them."
"What a pity you have come this far without understanding the basics of life. Let me try to show you." With that,
she closes her eyes and her form begins to change. First, there wear tiny pinpricks of light which dissolved into
what could be considered similar to swirling, shiny, crystal flakes in water that is contained in a thin glass container.
John in the meantime is backing up with eyes bugging out of his head and his mouth hanging lower than he thought
his face could possibly accommodate. "What are you," he asks with wonder, after she solidifies into the form he
previously accompanied into the building.

"We are not something to fear John. We are here to analyze a situation. That is all I can say at this moment. When
a decision is made, maybe we can tell you. I'm sorry. Anyhow, I am allowed to say that you have been studied for
various reactions in the past month by myself and my mated-one."
"You mean... that huge dark shape that attacked me last week?" he asked incredulously.
"Yes, unfortunately. He just wanted to have a little fun with you. Unfortunately, you portrayed similar traits which
some of our citizens display that are not acceptable so they are eliminated or shunted from the overall community.
We feel they are unstable and unhealthy for society to react that way which is due to insecurities within themselves.
The response you displayed was a mild variation to this scenario which is tolerable for us, so there may yet be hope
for you."
"Talk to me in words I can understand, please. Are you saying you and this other, whom you called your 'matedone'... are from some other world?"
"Yes," she says looking with intensity into his very being for any sign of undesirable traits. Finding only a slight but
acceptable trace she continues. You were chosen to be an ambassador to our world and others outside this galaxy
based on your capability to accept unnatural situations. I should not be telling you any of this at this point in time,
but I feel you deserve such and are capable of keeping the more delicate items quiet."
"Thanks, I guess."
"You and your companion, which you have mated up with, may have the opportunity to leave this world and visit
others. Are you willing to do this if it is decided you pass the examination?"
"Sure. Why not. But I would have to ask Tina my girl friend if she wanted to."
Ignoring his comment, she continues. "If you do pass, we will appear shortly before both of you when you're
together." And with that said, she turns around and starts to leave the room and the building.
"Where are you going now?" he asks.
"I return to my mated-one." T'Lier says. "I must inform him of your responses to this latest test."
"Test? When did it begin?" he asked.
"Yes, from the moment you parked that vehicle and looked my way, you were being tested for confronting the
unusual and unexpected. In a few of your days, we will let you know of our decision."
Before he could ask another question, she has disappeared leaving him to his thoughts.

While discussing the ultimate decision on this couple, T'Lier let it be known that after what she shared with the
human, it was no surprise that O'Lean decided to go ahead with his plans.
"You were told not to inform him of our plans. Now he may tell others and endanger his eligibility, I may have to
reconsider my decision." Growling with indignation against his mated-one, he was not too sure how to continue
with this new disclosure of information.

Trying to reassure him, T'Lier's form twinkles gold in a red background which is the only way to provide a soothing
mood in him. "If you are unsure of him keeping silent, then go to him while he is spending time with his chosen
mated-one and listen in on their conversations."
"I will... with you beside me. Let's go." Setting their vehicle on invisibility mode in an abandoned fenced off lot,
they locate John on his way to meet Tina talking to himself.

"Man, oh man. How am I going to keep this from her. Very little escapes her as it is these days. She'll know
something is up within a few minutes I arrive. I'm dead one way or another, I know just know it."
Hearing this, O'Lean looked at his mated-one in amazement. "How is it possible these creatures can detect
something like that?" he asked her in a range undetectable to humans.
"I have come to understand that when two of these species become so involved with each other and become bonded,
they tend to have that capacity --at least for the female of the species." She offered this little piece of information not
based on these two exclusively but also of other couples which she was privileged to observe.

After several hours of watching the varied activities and listening to a normal conversation between the two humans
in which John does not give away anything that would be detrimental to their eligibility, O'lean finally speaks up. "I
have decided."
Looking at him with an expectant glow, she hears his announcement that they are an acceptable pair for
ambassadorship. With a mixture of colored sparkles, she expresses her approval.
"When are we going to tell them?" T'Lier asks.
Without warning he says, "Right now." In less than a blink of an eye, O'Lean begins to change from his translucent
but darkly contained shape to a more solidified form which would be acceptable to the two humans, leaving T'Lier
to quickly adapt in like manner.

With his last shot, his playing piece nearly went into the pocket with the black ring, instead, it stayed on the board
balancing on the edge, allowing him to win that round. "That ties up the game, you're getting better all the time
John," shouted Tina with a twinkle in her eyes. She could always beat him in a game of Caroms, but tonight she
wanted to boost his morale by letting him win a few games just to make it a close one.
Suddenly without knowing why, Tina and John look up from the board at each other, and then in unison, they turned
towards the fireplace where two semi-translucent people were standing where only a few moments ago open space
had once occupied. Not expecting something like this, Tina nearly tipped over the board game as she pulled back
startled but recovering quickly.
Looking on in a bit of amusement, O'Lean addressed first John and then Tina in a diplomatic fashion. "Greetings
John Marksman and mated-one. A decision has been made in your favor."
"Uh, John... Um, who are these 'party-crashers'?"
"Honey," John begins hesitantly, "uh... these are people from... another world!.?"
"That is correct." O'Lean declares. As is customary in situations like this, when a mated pair are together in a
moment of contact, the female is to wait for her moment to speak after the initial declaration has been made by the

male. "After careful examination of both of you, it has been decided to allow you to become ambassadors from this
region of space."
Turning to look accusingly at John, she says, "Wait a minute, you knew John? Why wasn't I told about all this?"
Tina implores.
Now T'Lier speaks up. "Because sometimes there are things left better unsaid to some people." As she said this, she
glanced at her own mated-one in reference. "You have been tested by both of us on an individual and collective
basis at numerous times to see if you qualified for this very important challenge. Both of you have met me before
unknowingly," and with that, she began changing shape to an old woman which produced surprised gasps from both.
"I am truly sorry for knocking you down as I came around that corner. Really I am." John says. "I was just trying
to escape what I thought was an unprovoked attack by him," motioning toward O'Lean who was smiling.
"Yes, she had timed her exit from the pet shop perfectly after arriving from a test for Tina at the bank; but, it was a
close one, even by my standards," he acknowledged.
"You do look somewhat familiar the more I look at you," Tina admitted, "although I really didn't pay much attention
to your features as I waited on you since my vision seemed to be wavering on me at that time."
"Your vision was not wavering. It was I who was." T'Lier offered. "I was hoping to stir a reaction from you that
may or may not have triggered an outburst in front of the others there."
"You would have done that to me?" Tina asked in somewhat indignation.
"Yes, but don't be insulted. It was the only way to check how you may have reacted had someone on another world
not in our confederation confronted you. It's important that you don't scream or carry on when confronted with an
unfamiliar race."
"So what do you two really look like," Tina asked with curiosity now that the subject was brought up.
Looking on with approval, O'Lean nods to his mated-one then both his and T'Lier's form begin to loose their
somewhat solid shape and return to their original form. His was a swirling black shell with pinpricks of varied
colors racing about. Hers was a light yellow-hued shell with a starburst of colors as the points of light collides with
another. Both were of a somewhat humanoid form but the proportions were not the same as that of the human pair.
Neither one were disconcerting to look upon --just different.
John speaks up and says that the shape O'Lean had now was similar to what he saw that caused him to bump into
T'Lier in such haste.
Having exposed themselves long enough to these humans, for what they really looked like, they once again took the
form they appeared at the beginning in front of the fireplace.
"How do you do that," Tina asks in awe.
"It's part of our genetic design. Very little effort is put into it once the technique is acquired. It takes our kind
several of your decades for it to be truly mastered. Now, let us continue with the program. You are allowed to bring
one extra set of clothing to wear. It is preferred you wear something comfortable but presentable. As far as
momentos go, only one item that is most precious to you may be allowed. The rest can be duplicated from your
memory as needed once we return to Galactic Headquarters. So... choose wisely, for you may never get another
chance to come back to this world."
With a an approving look from Tina, John says "alright" and asks to be taken to his place to acquire his own items.
O'Lean concedes to this and he accompanies him while T'Lier stays with Tina helping her to prepare for the
upcoming trip.

"Tell me something, O'Lean," John begins as they travel to his apartment in silence, "What's it like visiting other
planets as you two do?"
"It's something I would never give up, even if it was decided we were eligible to receive 20 more lifetimes," he
declares. His face begin to get that dreamy, mellow look as he begins reminiscing about the many civilizations they
encountered and all those adventures lived. Looking at him, John began to realize these two beings are not much
different than he and Tina. Just as he thinks this, O'lean abruptly comes out of his dreamy reminiscing and looks
John straight in the eye. "With the special diplomatic training you two will receive, you two will be on your own as
I and my mated-one is for many of your decades confronting civilizations unknown even to us at this time."
"We are part a confederation of inter-galactic worlds spread throughout the cosmos. We have representatives like
myself and my mated-one that seeks out those who are intelligent enough & capable of living in harmony with us.
Several of us, those who are ambassadors, do not carry weapons of destruction since we are able to change form at
will. You on the other hand will have to carry stunners of a sort while confronting similar atmospheric worlds as this
one is while making first contact. I say this because not all of us in this confederation are carbon based beings or
know of the social graces of a newly encountered culture."
The more O'Lean talked, the more John liked him, and the more his idea was confirmed that these beings he
described were so much like the human race in nature.

As the two men arrive at John's apartment, they begin the task of setting aside those items to be brought along.
Meanwhile, the ladies are deep in a similar conversation as a way of transition.
"T'Lier, do you and your mated-one have any children?"
T'Lier stops what she is folding and looks at Tina with surprise. "No. We can't have any."
"You mean you are forbidden to have children?"
"It's not like that at all." Pausing to recall her thoughts on this topic in order to explain it properly to dispel Tina's
misconception, she quietly says, "We are unable to have any as you described the process earlier because we are
shape-shifters. If we wish to have a child, we can send in a request to have what you call DNA residing in the vaults
at headquarters and have one specially developed. If the quota of opposite mated-ones are scheduled for
development, they will allow us one also. On a return from an assignment, we may choose to take a vacation for a
decade and a half to take part in its five years of incubation then ten years of family nurturing. After one decade of
its emergence into society, we are reassigned to explore another sector of space while that child creates for himself
his own experiences and finds his own mated-one. Actually, O'Lean and I have decided to wait until a few more
decades before taking a vacation and having a child developed."
"That is truly fascinating." Tina says. "Are all members of this confederation able to do just that with their
offspring, or is it just for shape-shifters?"
"Oh no. Any citizen of our confederation may have a child in this manner. It's really a more practical way of doing
things really. One can also have a specially designed child implanted if the parent wishes to carry it inside them as
your kind are prone to do. We have similar types of citizens who do just that because it's a novelty. Some who are
dependent on an extended existence, choose to have one, but only under special circumstances."
"How's that," Tina asks.
T'Lier goes on to explain that for some races to have an extra decade provided to their already extended lifespan,
they choose to produce an offspring as a trade-off. The only drawback to that was that that child had to be

developed in the chamber and would have to enter their predetermined position upon their emergence from the
developing chambers without the benefit of the normal decade of family life most would have.
Those raised in the developing chambers are fully grown in five years comparable to a 20 year old human. While
that child is developing, the parent can adjust or fine-tune their traits physical, size, temperament and other aspects
that make up a being. This way, there were no surprises to deal with and therefore no abortions of deformed or
unwanted babies. Every one, as a whole, that lives has been chosen to be and was not an accident. There were a
few incidents where a mated pair chose the way humans do by having an unplanned pregnancy, thereby taking their
chances on a life.
While T'Lier was describing the process of child bearing, Tina was finishing up the chore of packing the few items
she would be taking with her.
Just then, John and O'Lean arrived in less time than Tina had expected from him but was glad to see him back.
"Well, are we all ready to leave?" O'Lean asked brightly as Tina was closing up her thin travel case.
With everyone's acknowledgment, the newly acquired ambassadors leave for the last the their favorite spot on earth
--Tina's living room.
As they emerge from the house, the visitor's transport pulls up cloaked. O'Lean activates a remote that was
imbedded behind his right ear and they all begin to enter as the door swings in upon itself creating a yawning mouth
out of thin air to accept the four.
After locating a seat, the two new passengers look to each other in instant home-sickness and expectation combined
as they peer out the viewing port before leaving the ground.
"Don't worry," T'Lier says reassuringly, "we have ways of enhancing your minds to recall anything you experienced
and even duplicate it to incredible accuracy so that you can feel as though you are still at home. We have
holographic rooms and replicators for nearly all your wants and needs. Wait till you see the ship we travel in."
Upon hearing that, John and Tina perk up dramatically. "You mean, this isn't what you came here in?"
"Not at all," chimed in O'Lean brightly. "Look at the monitor behind you."
As they did so, an image began to solidify on the screen. It was the biggest thing they ever saw in Earth's history
that was proposed by the space administration to sail through the cosmos. This thing was a floating palace.
According to the specs being sent to their monitor for reference sake, this thing was about 4 stories high, twice the
size a football field's length and width.
Turning to her with a twinkle in his eye, he says, "Honey, I think I'm gonna like this and actually have some fun,
how about you?"
After seeing the size of the ship on the monitor, she had to take one last look to at the world they were now leaving.
Turning from the viewing port to face him, there was a tear streaking down her cheek but with a smile on her face.
"Absolutely!" She says.

After 5 'days' of traveling at the speed of light or more commonly called 'warp' factor 4 in the starship Conquest,
they were approaching the planet Zantor III which is the site of Confederation Headquarters.

"Proceeding to docking bay four, acknowledged." O'Lean stated to the open air. Having audio pickups throughout
the ship, one does not have to wear unseemly mikes or headgear. It also provides maneuverability in emergencies.
"Well people, we're home. T'Lier, would you assist our friends?" Not expecting an answer, he continues his shutdown procedures. A few minutes later, he meets up with his guests near the shuttle's hanger bay door entrance and
follows them into the reception lobby designed especially for newcomers.
"Greetings to you Newcomers," proclaims an average height creature with a lion like golden face who is wearing a
bright red and purple outfit denoting diplomacy and honor. "We are so happy to have you join the confederation of
worlds in our quest of a peaceful coexistence. I surmise you have been given a basic introduction of what to expect
in our society by the lack of surprise on your faces?" With nods coming from both of the newcomers, he proceeds to
escort them down a hallway that had a recessed shelf on both sides of the walls containing 3D images representing a
wide variety of newcomers in the past two decades. Explaining who they are and the worlds they came from, he
continues on toward the medical facilities.
With a full examination complete, they were infused with a biologic microprocessor containing a universal translator
compatible with their genetic design. This enabled all sentient beings to communicate and was constantly updated
as each new race was confronted. Another gift the physicians bestowed upon the newcomers was they purged the
suppressive genetic codes and activated the dormant ones that promoted a regenerative process that could last a
century normally, depending on how strenuous the individual became.
In case they decided to have children, the doctors informed them, a sample of their DNA would be kept on file and
proceeded to inform them of their rights and privileges as new citizens in exorcising this procedure.
After the midday meal T'Lier and O'Lean gave them a tour of the key point facilities. Before leaving their newly
appointed apartment, they had spent several hours with them helping them get settled into what would be their new
home for the next year while their forthcoming training as ambassadors was being conducted. Though the rooms
were pain walls and generic furniture these were soon replaced with more comfortable pieces. They were instructed
on how to use the apartment unit's system that could provide according to their every need and desire other than

They were given a week to get settled in and explore their new homeworld before their training commenced. On
their first real day after arriving, they took a transport to the Museum of Intergalactic Peace which covered an area
of four full city blocks of which they immersed themselves in all the incredible sights, sounds and smells as they
passed one display to another. There were rooms as huge as a gymnasium that contained scaled down versions of
spacecraft from nearly all the citizens of the confederation, while other displays were hovering in the air above the
visitor's heads. Before they knew it, fourteen hours had passed and so they decided to return the following day to
finish the other half.
"John," Tina said a few hours after leaving the museum, "why do you suppose there are just the two of us and not
more from our world who would be ambassadors?"
"I don't know," he replied. "Why don't we ask the one who greeted us upon our arrival." And so they went about
looking for him.

"We decided that at the start, only one pair from your world would be allowed to join this confederation on a trial
basis. When it was determined that your species were capable of handling yourselves appropriately, more would be
allowed to join on a voluntary basis." Tolar stated. "This decision was not mine to make but those in higher
authority. I am just a greeter of new arrivals as yourselves and have been doing this for over four decades now.
There is no other who replaces me at this station. I have six hours on and the remainder of the day to myself for self
improvement, relaxation, or group activity. As you begin your class instructions, you will realize why this is so. In
the meantime, why don't we go someplace and have a meal together." The last part he said after hearing their
stomachs growling which they heartily agreed on.

"Tolar," Tina asked, "Do you know your parents?"

"I did, but they are no longer alive."
With a sorrowful heart, Tina wondered why they no longer lived.
"Both were seven hundred years of age and was beginning to fail in their health which the physicians could not cure.
You see, they had contracted a nasty virus that could not be passed from one to another easily unless you were of
another species and made direct contact or from drinking from the same container. They agreed to the terms of
having me developed and was then granted an extended life period. Their normal length of lifespan was already
used and by the time half of their special extended one was reached, I emerged. Anyway, I was in my first decade
out of the development chamber when it occurred but had little time to know them since I had to do my assigned
work and they had their assigned duties off planet. They were on an assignment that took them into a region close
by which had twin planets with a singular cavity well. As a result, their transport was pulled apart by the
gravitational forces. There was no way they could have survived, even with our combined scientific & medical
advances. Their deaths was an honorable one and less painful compared to the way they would have died had they
not been treated."
Continuing, he says, "Although they are gone, they have not left me alone. Whenever I am feeling alone and
wanting to speak with them, I initiate their imprints through the holographic program and spend a few hours or a day
with them."
This caused Tina and John to perk up and asked him what he meant.
"Why... didn't they tell you about our holograph rooms?"
"Yes they did," John replies, "but not about that part where you could retrieve a recorded imprint so that a person
could talk to them as we are now."
"Would you like to experience it first hand and meet my parents?" Tolar suggests.
Tina Speaks up before John could decline, "We'd love to, Tolar." Giving John a glance as if to say, 'he needs some
support right now, and besides, I didn't want to disappoint him' look.
As the they head off to the nearest holo room, John tosses up his hands in useless surrender.

The first day of their second week arrived before they knew it. To their amazement, the training was not what they
had expected. Their tutor was not alive, instead it was done through a device like a helmet that came down on a
mechanical arm and rested gently around the student's head. After a moment of silence while the tutor was gently
scanning the guest for the proper language to use, it began with an overview of the Confederation and its origins.
This transpired in a matter of minutes from a waiting person's perspective, but if a recipient of the helmet, it seems
to last much longer --like when one begins to dream right before waking up.
While John & Tina are under their perspective helmets, the attending aid was gathering data on their progress and
began to select special badges according to their achievements. Two hours later, they were given a break and
explained what the outcome has been so far.

When they realized they were under for only two hours for the amount of learning they had undergone, they were
amazed at the possibilities that a device like this could do for all mankind, not just those on their homeworld but all
living beings. To this, the attending aid agreed and expressed a desire for his own species to have eventual access to
it someday. After reviewing their progress, they went back to the helmets and were given options for further
As the weeks progressed, John chose to specialize in astrogation, navigation, survival techniques and weapons
handling, social responses, the mechanics of present transport vehicles with their energy sources, and biology. Tina
meanwhile chose to specialize in the responsibilities of first contact, ecology, navigation, economic structures, and
cryptography in case their translators did not make sense of what was communicated to them.
Five months of intensive hands on training and use of simulators didn't prepare them for the unexpected day they
were called into the counsel room for their first assignment. Not knowing why they were summoned, they arrived in
their training outfits to stand before the Grand Marshall. "Ambassador trainees, we have been monitoring your
training and are well pleased with the results of your efforts. You will be given a unique opportunity to explore an
uncharted sector on the other side of G5 area. I see you are aware of the seriousness of being out that far without
any reinforcement, but with your combined talents they are not enough. We therefore have decided to allow a few
more days in which you will receive more specialized training and receive unique capabilities in a manner that
would enable you two to be a success. You are to report to room 1C immediately following this meeting to begin
this needed training and upgrade. You are dismissed."
With heads swimming with the cryptic meeting, they head out to room 1C as instructed.

Two days later, the mated-pair are performing last minute systems check before their departure time. John, finishing
his portion before Tina does, decides to insert a one inch silver rod into the slot between them and there begins a soft
melody of their favorite song which was discovered on one their first few days they arrived on Zantor III while
exploring their new surroundings. It was a theme covering the beauty and wonder of space exploration and
discovery of new lifeforms.
"Two minutes before departure, Tina," he says. Tina nods acknowledgment without looking up from a console
reading as she activates a series of banked colored buttons completing her checks.
"All green here," she says. "Let's go."
"Command Central, this is Explorer One, we are ready to depart." John intones.
"Explorer One, you have clearance to depart. Safe journey."
"Roger, and thanks."
Feeling only a slight sensation as they leave the landing platform, they move among the other star ships and various
transport ships in hanger bay two. Soon they leave the planet and head out to their escort awaiting them for the first
leg of the trip.
Coming up to their escort in minutes, John relays that they are ready. "Roger Frankle, we are linked up. Proceed as
"Roger that, Explorer One. We're engaging."
As the awaiting ship awakens its engines, they are kept at a predetermined distance then follows their lead towards a
distant sector in space called G2 at warp 7.
"I still can't imagine we are traveling at seven times the speed of light, John. It's a dream come true."

"Yeah, I know what you mean, Tina. Nothing could have prepared us for this back home. Even the simulator can't
create that feeling I have, now that we are actually going through with this."
"How long before we enter the Furling sector?"
"About three and a half hours." John intones.
"Three and a half hours with nothing to do. Hmm, what shall we do?" She says with a naughty grin.
"I'll get the food and drinks then meet you there," John says as he makes a quick survey on the display then nearly
trips over his feet trying to beat her to the cabin door.
Fortunately, the ship they were assigned to use for this voyage was no longer than a tractor trailer back on earth but
twice its width. It was that much easier to maneuver than the larger transport vehicles they sometimes trained on.
Huffing up to the lounge, he doesn't see her anywhere. Thinking he was able to beat her here, he walked over to the
display monitor where the video was to be shown and switches it on. A WHOMP is heard as two bodies fall to the
cushioned floor.
"Awh, Tina. That's not fair at all!" John cries as he wiggles around to face her... but what he looks at is not Tina at
all. Instead of his mated-one, there is a partially covered hairy creature smothering him with its weight.
"I want to mate with your species," it says in a semi-growly voice as it begins to paw at his clothing.
"Tina, Help me, help me." He yelps.
"John, you're suppose to play along. You promised." Said this hairy creature.
"Tina? Is that you?" he says bewildered.
The hairy creature moves its head and repeats itself as John's body continues to be pawed at.
Realization hits him and he begins to play out the charade. "I'm sorry, did you want something?"
"I have need to mate with your species. Cooperate or be destroyed. Resistance is futile," it says.
"Well, if you put it that way, alright." And so they begin their awkward lovemaking.
After refreshing themselves and laughing incessantly, they return to the cockpit to survey the situation. "That was
one big surprise you gave me, Tina. At first, I thought someone had snuck aboard and tried a fast one on me. Next
time, I'll have to think of something just as unexpected."
"That may be awhile from now, remember. Once we break away from our escort, one of us will have to be here for
nearly the whole time. Yeah, I know... but it doesn't mean we can't fool around. After all, we do have plenty of
room up here to accommodate ten more people sitting down.
"That's true," she says.
"Enough of that. Lets see how our escort is coming along."
"Frankle, this is Explorer One, do you copy?"
Moments later, their reply comes back with nothing unusual to report.
"We have twenty minutes before you break off and return to your posted sector. Any suggestions for the area

"That's a negative on any update, sorry. Nobody's been this far before from the Confederation. Our guesses could
be detrimental to you two."
"That's ok, Frankle, we understand. Prepare to break off in five minutes," John returns.
After a few minutes of silence they respond with true feelings for a race that is unlike themselves. "Come back
safely Explorer One. We'll await word from you and of your adventure at Headquarters." With that the escort ship
pulls away in a sweeping arcing turn around and speeds back to familiar territory at maximum warp.
"Very peculiar, and very hairy indeed." Tina said with a grin. "Since when do they show emotion especially to a
couple of hairless apes like us?"
"Maybe they know something but are unable to tell us. Or maybe it was my charming personality that the captain
seems to enjoy." John suggests with a hint of mock innocence.
"I doubt that very much," she counters jokingly.
"Ya never know."

To be continued...

Part Two

"Well, well, well. What have we got here?" John calls out. It had been a whole month of detecting nothing but a
few uninteresting marketable spheres when they came out of warp and came across the find of a lifetime.
Something huge was detected by long range sensors that defied the natural spatial flow and shape. As they came
closer, it was quite clear what it was not.
"They aren't emitting any form of energy, maybe that thing is a derelict?" Tina says in reverent awe.
Before them, rests a huge ship of gigantic proportions that put the ship they journeyed in to Zantor III look like a tug
boat. It's overall shape was oblong with the front tapering to a blunt point in a downward slope while toward the
stern, it squared off but was rounded on the corners. No lights, antennae or dishes are seen anywhere. Just smooth
crater-like indentations.
"Computer records show no evidence of this design ever being recorded. I think this constitutes as a first contact.
That is, if there is anyone on board and alive over there."
While sending in all frequencies a greeting to that vessel, Tina continues to scan for any traces of life signs without
"Wait a minute, I think something is coming through. Hush up a minute." John says.
In the static they hear a sound, but not understanding what it means. It stops, then repeats itself. One, two, three
times then falls silent once more. Looking at each other as if an answer would come from the opposite person, they
listen to more static. Thinking that it was over with, the message repeats three times nearly scaring them out of their
"I've found a possible hatch entry. Should we send in a drone or do we go in personally?" Tina asks expectantly.
"I think our going in personally at this time would not be a good idea... Whoa, hold the phone. Something is going
on over there," He says excitedly.
A hatchway one third the way from the stern began to retract and slide into itself when slowly a scout droid emerges
taking up the slack in distance between the two ships. Immediately, John deploys one of theirs to it meet nose to
nose. As it does, it begins to flash lights in a slow sequence and sending out pulse signals with little or no response
from the other ships drone.
Looking non-plussed at all this, John notices the monitor readings fluctuate, but sees nothing abnormal.
Just then Tina discovers a pattern in the signals being sent back and forth. "I think they're succeeding in
communicating where we've failed. I've noticed a pattern and there are more and more developing now.

Sure enough, as the minutes pass into hours, the two drones began to develop a language that would be common to
both parties. At last, after three and a half hours from the moment they met, they slip back to their perspective
owners and began to report their findings.
"It appears that ship over there has artificial life and is very interested in our biological design. They request a
meeting on their ship, if we are willing, to explore our mutual similarities and differences. They are preparing a
suitable location for our ship to dock and us to enter. It definitely looks like an invitation to dinner, John. Are you
"Do you really want to know?"
"Not really. Come on, let's do it."
He mumbles, "As if we have a choice."
Turning back to the console, John sends their reply. In moments they notice a beam reaching out for them and
guides them to a gaping portal which is waiting to engulf them as they come closer. Inside, they see all sorts of
amazing devices. The whole area is lit up with a yellowish white light coming from little floating orbs. There are
working androids repairing a breach in a hatch where a few burn marks must have missed its intended mark. Then
there are little rovers in various stages of repair that have been left unattended for sometime. Seeing this, they look
at each other and shrug their shoulders.
As they cross from one aperture to another, they come to a compartment that starts to register an air pocket. Slowly
their ship grounds itself and rests as snugly & as content as a bug on a log. "It appears as though the eagle has
landed." John mused.
Tina rolls her eyes up into her head and shakes her shiny black hair. "I'll have to remember to make a note of that in
case we get back and have a chance to exonerate you with just those words."
"Ha ha, real funny," he said.
"You started it Romeo."
Before he could give a retort, there was an inquisitive tapping on their ship's hatch. Grabbing a disrupter, John
proceeds to turn the latch and open the door slowly. Looking out past the edge, he sees a mechanical person staring
at him with a friendly, almost human, smile.
"G-r-e-e-t-i-n-g-s star ex-plor-ers. Please, fol-low me." The sound that emits from this mechanical person did not
sound choppy or metallic but warm and full of life. The bi-pedal droid turns around and begins to lead the way.
After a few paces it turns around to get the attention of its guests who have stopped to gawk at their surroundings.
"P-l-e-a-s-e... follow me."
Soon, they were following their guide along corridors which ended in a wide conference room with a very humanlooking mechanical man sitting at one end. "Thank you for coming. I must appear most unusual to you yet you do
not seem afraid of me or shocked at my appearance. Why is that?"
"It is because in our world where we originally came from, we had produced movies or video presentations where
mechanical beings not much different from how you appear looked like. Our society has had a generation or two
growing up with these types of scenarios as we personally find ourselves in. My name is John and my mated-one is
called Tina."
"Hello to both of you." He replied. "I am called Zantor and you remind me of similar beings I once associated
Upon hearing this mechanical being's name, Tina looks at John and whispers in his ear that she would like to speak
with him alone.

"There is no reason to whisper woman." Zantor replied. "I have very good hearing even at this distance."
"How are you able to speak our language in such short time with alot of our nuances?" John implies.
"I had my drone to instruct yours to download all its files that were of you two so that I might prepare a proper
reception." Immediately, a side door pops open and a server droid enters bringing all sorts of food for their
refreshment. It places the two trays from the cart onto the table and leaves without much of a curious glance at the
new arrivals.
"Eat and refresh yourselves. The food is real and safe to ingest by your biological form."
Hearing him talk was quite like listening to an old TV series. Instead of artificial skin, this one had a shiny metallic
look to it in its stead. Going over to the food, they inspect it and discover some incredible similarities. "How did
you come by these types of fruit?" John inquired after finishing what looked and tasted like a banana.
"As I have said before, I have had prior contact with beings not much different from your own." Zantor replies.
"When was that?" Tina injected politely.
"Let me see," Zantor taps his chin and looks up at an imaginary list of answers against the far wall as a person
would sometimes do. "Oh yes. It has been about 1500 years, according to your reckoning." He states. I have not
come into contact with anything similar since. What a shame, too. You biologics are very interesting."
"What or where were you when this happened?" John asks.
"This vessel was manufactured by biologics or being like yourselves and I was created to pilot it with the help of a
hundred other similar beings. That was until there was a confrontation with one of their enemies four months into
their surveying. They bordered this vessel and killed all but six before I and a few squads of security drones
eliminate them. Those six lasted for a few decades before their radiation sickness eliminated them one by one.
Afterward that incident, the captain had ordered a few drones be programmed to care for the hydroponics stores and
other chores necessary to maintain this vessel which has continued to this very day. Before the captain died, he
instructed me to make an imprint recording of his mind so in case I would need to refer to it I could. After loosing
vital signs, he was immediately placed in stasis for further study by me. As the centuries passed, we developed our
own civilization with his guidance while going out among the stars to escape those unstable beings similar to
yourselves, no offense intended towards you two, I hope you understand."
"That explains how you could quickly relate to us. Why didn't you respond to our signals of greeting if you were
familiar with our kind?" Tina asks.
"You must realize, that after 1500 years that The Timberline have been avoiding outsiders in secluded areas of space,
one tends to put the old on the back burner as it were, while the new comes in to replace those memories. While you
were sending out your message, I had not yet retrieved any of those records. When I began the automatic response
message, the drones were seeking out those archived forms of transmissions. So, after several attempts to contact
your ship with no response, a drone robot approached for a better look. That's when your drone came out and...
well, here we are."
"Yes, here we are." John mimics.
"So what are your plans? Are we free to move about or are we hostages?" Tina queried.
"By all means, You may browse about with the protection of a tour-bot. The one that brought you here, would that
be acceptable to you two?"
"Yes." They said in unison.

"Fine. Let me set up quarters for you... unless you prefer to stay in your own vessel, that is." Getting no disapproval
from the humans, he continued to outline a simple schedule for both parties.

As they finally found time to be alone after a long 'day' consisting of a tour of that ship and picking fresh fruits and
vegetables, they were exhausted.
"John, did you pick up on what that mechanical being said his name was?"
"Yes, the same moment you did. I was thinking that maybe this ship was one of those lost in the early days of
colonizing and developing the confederation. It sure fit the time period and would explain why there is no record of
this type of ship in our logs. They were probably afraid that if this ship returned, they would be punished for joining
up with its enemy. Even the name is the same as the first world that grouped with another after that skirmish which
Zantor referred to that seemed to wipe out the human crew of this ship."
"Don't forget what O'lean and T'Lier said about the undesirables in their past society. Maybe those are the same
ones that Zantor was talking about as well." Tina replied. "Maybe tomorrow we can ask him about this with
endangering our own existence."
"We shall see. Now... come to me, I have need of mating with your species." He says in mock imitation of the other
day's little charade. She giggles as they fall into bed locked into one another's arms and kissing.

Knock, knock, knock... knock, knock, knock...

"John, somebody's at the door, go see who it is." Tina murmurs sleepily.
Obediently, John goes out to answer it and then stops midway in his tracks, cocking his head to the side and
thinking, how easy it is for her to get me to do something so early after waking up. Am I that gullible?
Knock, knock, knock...
Opening the door ever so slightly, he peers around its edge to see who it could be. It is the same android, or at least
he thinks it is, that they met yesterday. "Yes?"
"Zantor asks that you and your mated-one come see him as soon as you are both ready. I hope you both have rested
enough after your long day visiting the common areas yesterday?"
"Yes, thank you. We did. Would you mind waiting there while my mated-one is awake and dressed? Thank you."
"That would be a good idea indeed," it said then backs up against the far wall opposite from the entrance to their
compartment and proceeds to wait.
Half an hour later, the three arrive at one of the observation decks where Zantor arranged to meet them.
"You two are quite remarkable indeed." Zantor said as they came near. "I would have thought that your endurance
and strength would have needed more recharging after yesterday and last night, but I am satisfied that all is well. I

have some more questions to ask you and no doubt, you must have some for me to answer." Detecting a note of
surprise that they had indeed been thinking that very same thing and been found out so easily, he went on to reassure
them that no surveillance system had been watching or listening on their conversations. "I was wondering about the
world you two said you came from. What was its name?"
Hesitating just enough to let him know they were still leery of all this, John answered. "Our homeworld is called
Terra or Earth. It circled a yellow star we call the sun along with nine other planets in our solar system."
"Yes, yes. But where did you get the space vessel that brought you here?" He asked politely.
"We have been selected to be ambassadors from our homeworld by a confederation of many worlds whose main
location is located on a planet called... Zantor III." John hesitated before naming the planet in order that this would
give special significance to it. And it did. Zantor opened his eyes wide in wonder and looked as if he were going to
"Zantor III?" he said. "What is its astronomical location? If I might ask."
"It is twenty light years away on the other side of what we call the G2 galaxy at 341.49.5.01."
"This is truly incredible!" Zantor says.
"That was a planet we passed up 700 years ago due to its lack of industrial value or habitation. How long have the
residents been living there?"
"I think was about four hundred and seventy six years or so." Tina supplied.
"Tell me. Are the citizens similar to your design or are they all hairy?"
John said, "They are comprised of many different species that have come together for a common goal to live for a
peaceful coexistence with the many different worlds in there region of space. They constantly seek out more beings
who have a capacity to do so and to have a grand trade market. That is one reason we came out this way. Another
reason we are here is for space exploration. There is so much of the cosmos that they would like to explore, but
there is a limited amount of willing beings as ourselves who dare to go into the unknown and to open up peaceful
relations with any worlds we come upon... including you and your crew."
"It sounds as if this is a good time for us to be back among other beings as yourself. We have scoured this portion of
space for over 600 years, collecting data but refusing to come in contact with biologics for fear that we would not be
accepted for who and what we have become. That was another reason for our ship appearing to be just a derelict
drifting in space."
"Would you like to view some of our records to see what has conspired since you were in that sector last?" Tina asks
"Yes. That would be acceptable. I would like to visit your vessel if you don't mind. We may have alot to learn from
each other yet. Already our mode of transportation is not what you would consider modern. You have use of warp
drives which we have only surmised and guessed at."
"Then come. Let us give you a tour of our humble abode, just as you have so graciously done for us." Tina
"Yes. Do come view our ship." John says, not to be outdone by his mated-one.

After showing Zantor the highly advanced engines, the replicators, generators, and several video presentations. He
agreed that this generation of confederated worlds had indeed surpassed the petty lives his former captain's were

prone to be. "Would it be possible to let us duplicate your engine design so that we may join in your return to Zantor
III?" We may have something to offer your new society in exchange."
"We can ask them. Let me set up a tight frequency transmission beam and await the approval. It would only take a
few days at warp 12 to receive an answer. Even if they don't answer right away, we can continue to show you many
presentations to bring you up to speed and give you a foretaste of what to expect when you come back with us."
"I would enjoy that immensely."
"Would you like to listen to some music?" Asked Tina. "We have quite a collection from nearly all the participating
"Yes, and could we have it routed over to my vessel also? There are many of the old ones like myself that remember
listening to music, unfortunately, many of our files were destroyed when a marauding troupe fired upon us two years
ago before they were destroyed. That is why this vessel is still looking as it does. It has been a long and tedious
task trying to salvage any thing in the filing system on the port side where most of the damage was inflicted. Along
with many of our repair instructions, the recreational records that the biologics liked so much and alot of the
educational records, were destroyed from blasts and short circuits. Music was one of the many mysteries that
fascinated us so."
"Was there a favorite, there's a possibility it could be in our collection."
"Do have 'Delta Wings'?" he asked with a hopeful look.
"Let's check." John said as he flipped open his case of over 2500 selected pieces. "Let's see. We have 'Deadly
Passions', 'Deferred Aspirations', 'Delta Flight'..."
"That is the one!" Zantor shouted excitedly. "I knew it was Delta something anyhow."
John extracts the metallic rod and places it in the slot. What comes out is a melodic sound with continually rising
and falling of crescendos that is hard to distinguish easily. It lulls you as it gently takes you along a mystery ride of
joys and sorrows. An hour later, after listening to it the third time, Zantor and the two humans continue to receive
requests to hear it 'just one more time'.
"I told you we enjoyed this great mystery of yours."

It was nearly the end of the fifth day when their request was received. Notifying Zantor of the High Counsel's
decision to allow duplication of a certain amount of their technology, they began letting five of his fellow beings
onto their ship to inspect their records and designs.
In no time at all, with John's help, they had the larger ship upgraded with their modern technology. This allowed
them to move at a greater speed then they ever could have had they just repaired their own engines piecemeal. In
return for receiving this new technology, they offered to improve on its design and share the results with their
newfound friends.

Instead of traveling at the rate of what some of the larger warships in the Confederation could sometimes cruise at
--a top speed of warp 10 for a limited time before the engines gave out, these mechanical beings were able to
reinforce their ship's structure, re-tune the engines with its redistribution of energy. By strengthening the shields and
artificial gravity, a whopping warp 15 could be reached and maintained.
They calculated that with the new design and configuration, the ship should be able to maintain this improved speed,
without showing signs of wearing out, for at least a week at a time. At such speeds, John was thinking that the
Confederation of Planets could now traverse the universe with greater flexibility. They could also use much smaller
ships like the one John and Tina were using with a crew of 10 souls if necessary since the fuel type could be
changed from the large amount of Dilithic Silicone Crystals to Trillium Sulfate Crystals. The newer crystals were
much smaller and compact and loss of energy was no longer a problem since they were regenerated when the backflow was re-directed into its chamber.
It had taken John and Tina a month to reach the point they had. It was different now. It was now nearing the close
of the second day when the announcement that Zantor III was in visual range. Messages were streaming in asking
for identification. As John was answering, twenty armed warships emerged beside them as a futile attempt to corral
them as a defensive maneuver in case they were unfriendly visitors. After a few moments of verifying John's voice
print, the warships fell away at a more discreet distance.
"Explorer One, this is the former captain of the Frankle. Welcome back."
"I see you have moved up in the world of spacing old friend," John replies. "What caused this to happen?"
"I'll tell you later when we land." The hairy man says.
"If you insist on keeping me in suspense, it will have to be, I suppose."
"This is Command Central. Cut the chitchat Explorer One, and report to High Counsel."
"Roger that, Command Central." John replied sheepily. "I wonder what that was all about," asked Tina.
"I'm afraid to find out," she said.

After going into a synchronous orbit around Zantor III, John, Tina and Zantor descended in their star cruiser to a
special docking bay close to Command Central. Disembarking, they were confronted with security guards to make
sure no weapons were found on the three individuals. That was a first in all the time he's had to report to the High
Counsel. What was going on? He wondered.
Entering the counselroom, he notices a whole battalion of commanders being briefed on the contents displayed
across the monitor. Until they are waved forward, the trio moves no closer than inside the doors.
"Come forward you three, this involves you as much as anyone else," the chairman announces. "We have gone over
the report you sent on ahead before parking that monster ship up there," he said indicating high orbit. "With it up
there the Furlings will have to think twice about attacking again any time soon."
A white haired general spoke up, "I take it you still have weapons functional and powered up in that dreadnought?"
"Yes, The Timberline is in sufficient condition to meet your enemy."
"Did you say The Timberline? Good Lord, how did you ever manage to keep her going all these centuries? No
matter. We'll need everything she's capable of putting out if they show up for a fight."
"General," Zantor asks. "Who are we fighting against, anyway?"

"Your metallic friend should be brought up to speed, John," was all anyone could get out of them for the time being,
to which he conformed to their suggestion.
Turning to his metallic friend, he says, "It appears that an old enemy of theirs they once encountered has decided to
test their new armament against our own. The last time these people had any contact with them, it was over 900
years ago. It was not a pretty sight. The only thing we have to go on is a few old men's memories and some scantily
recorded reports about their capabilities and susceptibilities."
"And you won't have much more than that without my help." Zantor said. "I have fought them recently. Those
burn marks on that freighter are similar to ours. Although the name is unfamiliar, the war tactics are the same. They
are vicious little creatures worthy of respect. If they can't beat you, they will die trying."
With everyone's attention focused on him, the room became deadly quiet. The solitude was disrupted when the
display beeped, showing an incoming formation. "Command Central, this is Lander's Pride, we are two sectors
ahead of the enemy and two light years from your position. Please advise."
"We read you. Maintain course speed for one point two light years then veer off to new designation of 12.543.1.4.
Please acknowledge these new orders."
"We copy. We are loosing your signal due to unexpected interference from directly ahead of us. What...! Wha... is
tha... thing an... ho...?"
"That interference is friendly fire. Take evasive action at the designated vector and veer off."
Silence ensues as the display reconfigures the incoming lone fighter ship's position and the war clock ticks away
with resounding loudness matching the racing pulse of each individual in the room.
"...oger ...ering off ...ow."
With a sigh of relief the councilman speaks up, "Forward Guard, this is Command Central, incoming targets, five

"...Timberline, I repeat, fire only on the incoming blunt spacecraft --not the long nosed craft." Turning to his
companions while replacing his comlink to his pant's pocket he smiles at John and Tina innocently and says, "Yes?,"
all the while looking from one biologic to the other as if they had just asked a very important question.
John gives a suppressed chuckle at his expression while Tina rolls her eyes, shakes her head and throws her hands
up in the air with false irritation. "You two are just alike. Men!"
"Hey, keep it down over or get out." Barked an angry commander.

Ten minutes, the confrontation was over with only one Confederate ship destroyed containing four beings. The
enemy was not so fortunate. All the attacking ships were knocked out of action or destroyed leaving those who
stayed beyond the dreadnought's destructive power to limp back to their own region of space. The great behemoth
could have raced after the stragglers and eliminated them all before they could reach safety, instead, it was ordered
to remain here.

In less than 24 hours, in the great banquet hall bursting with over 4000 beings from those visiting ambassadors and
the honored warriors, none were so highly acknowledged than the metallic force that had determined this great
victory. None were refused admission into the confederacy as a result. In the convening days and weeks, the new
modifications that were integrated into The Timberline were duplicated in all present transports and starships. Those
still out on assignments were recalled for an immediate refit then allowed to back out to complete their tour of duty.
Two months later, a familiar ship came into hanger bay 4 while John was on his way to meeting Tina in their own
starship which was completely refitted just the other day. It was the Conquest with O'lean and T'Lier piloting her.
Watching from a safe distance, he waited for the ship to make contact before rushing up to it. Seconds later, his first
galactic friends emerged with glowing forms hugging him with strong arms.
"We heard about your exciting adventure. Go out on your first assignment and what do you do, you come and save
the planet with the aid of your metallic friends. Speaking of which, how's your new pilot coming along?" referring
to the metallic being nearly all star captain's ships were assigned to as an honorary position of navigator considering
their steady hands and lightning quick reflexes. There were a few that chose to remain under their former leader.
Out of a sense of sentiment or loyalty, who could really say.
"He's doing fine. He likes to race around the galaxy like a teenager who had snuck out with his father's car for a few
Understanding his symbolism in reference, O'lean chuckles and thumps his back a few times. "I suppose they will
be assigning us with one also?" he asks.
"I doubt it. All the willing ones have been assigned to a ship already," He said.
"Oh well, it was worth a try. Where's your mated-one by the way?"
"She's in the ship getting things packed away for our new assignment. You two want come see her and say 'hi'
before we leave? She would never let me get away with it should she find out you two were here and I let you slip
away right through my fingers."

Meanwhile, Zantor is contemplating his new crew member's list as he makes his way to his own shuttle transport.
As a result of so many of his former crew members joining the Confederation's team these past months, he felt there
would have been little use sailing The Timberline through space with only twenty remaining. That's when the High
Counsel proposed that morning to resupply him with biologics to replace those who went in voluntary service to the
fleet. With a grace that only the new humans would have appreciated and admired, he accepted the offer.
If only I could say my farewell to those two humans who made it all possible for him to be in this position. He was
once more a part of a band of biologics in whom he could truly feel alive. His being now has meaning. Thinking
this, he runs right into a bunch of individuals. Without looking up from his list, he murmurs apologies and tries to
skirt around them but is unable to.
"Zantor, how dare you try to avoid me. After all we've been through together?" That voice sounded ever so
familiar. Looking up he sees the one who he had hoped to see --but where was his mated-one?

"I am truly glad I bumped into you John Davidson. You were on my mind once again. But where is your matedone. I have rarely seen you two apart. Is everything alright?"
"Yes, they couldn't be much better." Still holding onto the arms of his other friends, he introduces both of them.
O'Lean asks abruptly upon hearing his name, "Are you the Zantor with whom the latest stories are based on?"
"I am afraid that is so," he remarked humbly.
"Oh, don't be afraid. I wouldn't do anything to you. It's just that I have been hearing alot about you, your ship, and
your courageous fighting team. I am grateful for what you have done to save this world and its citizens." Pumping
his hand, matching raw strength with raw strength.
"For a non-metallic lifeform, you have great strength in your hands," replied Zantor.
"It's all in the jeans, as our friend here would say." Tilting his head towards John.
"John, you really must stop giving others your poor play on words. Pretty soon the whole Confederation will be
polluted with corny puns and off-color jokes." Tina declares from behind him.
"Hey, what more could a guy ask for?" he replies in like manner to his wife.

To be continued...
The Ambassadors

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