Riches Unknown

by J D Marksman

CHAPTER 1
Limping back toward the planet's surface, the broken ship Holy Terror manages to settles down into its berth while
the two occupants race about shutting everything that still managed to work before an overload occurred. "That dirty
rotten liar," Vera explodes. "He is not going to rest until every last component of these engines are replaced." As she
says this, there is spittle erupting from her mouth with every emphasized word.
Whenever she gets this angry, Tony always lets her blow off steam without trying to soothe her or say anything that
might sound in the least bit a pacifying intent. He always holds his tongue when it comes to this with her. She was a
real hellion. Vera has a 5'8" frame that is slim & athletic and sporting a red flaming tuft of flyaway hair to boot.
Whenever she got flaming mad like now, her hair always seemed to stand on end as if it had a life of its own. "I feel
sorry for that poor sucker when we disembark," Tony says under his breath as he performs the last series of systems
deactivation.
"Hey Vera, hold on now, we aren't through yet."
In reply, she booms back at him, "Yes we are and you know it. You're not going to hold me back this time, so don't
even try." With that, she burst out of the hatchway ten feet from the cockpit cabin leaving him to finish up.
Sighing with great patience, Tony says, "Women are so independent these days now that we are in the 34th decade
of space exploration."
Before he is even out of the hatchway, there can be heard angry shouts coming from the nearly soundproof panes
separating the landing station's office where Vera and the executive officer was located and the seventy five feet of
open air to where the ship had landed.
Looking around at the other shipmasters that were trying to keep busy and pretend they weren't hearing any of this,
he just shrugs his shoulders and pantomimed an "I don't know about her anymore," and a lopsided grins as an
apology for the disruption.
..."Just who do you think you are, allowing a ship to be launched before having all systems checked out
beforehand!" Oh boy. We're going to need a magnifying glass to find this poor soul after she's done chewing him
out.
The executive officer in charge of all ships in this landing bay looked withered and deflated with a look of fearful
desperation at the opened door as Tony entered. He was about to move toward the door but was intercepted as Vera
started waving a loaded finger in his face as spittle streamed from her open portal called a mouth.
After twenty minutes of useless hand searching for the hidden switch the station security team had recently installed,
Thoren, the landing bay officer, was able to break free of his fear and press it after realizing what his fingers were
actually touching for the past five minutes.
In no time at all, security men came crashing in loaded for bear expecting a suicide freak. Instead they came face to
face with a ferocious feline of a woman. Instantly she is calmed down after realizing they had company and facing
the new arrivals she asks, "Is there something we can do for you gentlemen?"
"I'm afraid we are going to have to ask you to leave. Now." One of the men said after momentarily being stopped in
tracks with her ferocity then her instant calm. "It will only be for a moment while we try to get to the bottom of all
this and make some sense of it all." Looking at Tony, he indicates the door.

"Come on Vera, let's not make any more of a scene. I'm sure the chief clearly understands what needs to be done in
order to set things right. Come along now." With that she obediently complies with her husband and together they
go out to seek suitable quarters until their ship's repairs are complete.
*

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Zooming out towards the far galaxy, Tony and Vera prepare for hyperspace transition. The ship had just received a
refit on Tanou, the planet they had just left and now they are about to test them with their fingers were crossed.
Hoping against hope that the engines work, they proceed to the jump-off point --not like last time. That was two
months ago. Maybe this time it will be different.
"Engines are a green, Tony," Vera says. Pleased beyond compare and glowing with all the new gadgets and hardware
the chief had included as compensation and to just get rid of that crazy woman. She knew she was a pain at times,
but it also paid off being such a firecracker as she was, too.
"Engaging in five, four, three, two, one..." and the screen displaying a wide range of stars now becomes a solid wall
of grey nothingness as they disappear from sight among the multitude of twinkling of stars and stream towards a
forgotten world against an imagined contestant and to their destination --seventy two light years away where a
planetary system of unimaginable things were told them.
"Were finally going to do it, we are actually on our way to Zentarius IV?" She asks although not expecting an
answer. Saying this with amazement in her voice and with a warmth in the eyes that are focused on the only man
that could bring any trace of femininity out in her, she quietly says, "I love you Anthony Barnes," with all her heart.
Reaching over to where he sat, she kisses his forehead and seats herself for further astral calculations.
"I love you two, my little hellion wildcat." Looking back to the forward display, he then murmurs, "To our destiny
and riches unknown."
Bending down low and retrieving a package from a hidden compartment he opens it and holds in his hands the map
that had been smuggled out of a contesting system where salvaging lost ships and forgotten worlds was an illegal
activity. They both knew the consequences for anyone caught doing so or even possessing information of such
activity. The convicted would receive a stiff penalty and even faced the possibility of loosing their spacer's
credentials and/or their ship.
Thinking of the close call they had while the engines were being overhauled and those techs fumbling about in the
cockpit here, he held this treasure reverently with somewhat trembling hands as he looked up with tears streaming
down his face.
This was going to be the find of a lifetime for them and they would risk everything for the chance to discover the
truth about the lost colony --for information was far more valuable than precious metals where they were from, even
though the latter were of value, too, to some.
*

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Four weeks out at a light speed of a factor of 4, a proximity alarm awakens the pair from their fitful sleep causing
them to crash onto the floor and falling over each other. As they attempt to untangle themselves, the ship jerks to
one side and shifts back, throwing them off balance once more. They rush to the cockpit half naked to stare into a
blank screen. "Nothing," Vera proclaims. "So what was all the fuss about?"
"I don't know." Tony say but absentmindedly activates a series of switches which the triggers something dark and
mysterious.
"Now why did you do that?"

Without answering her immediate question, he says, "Check the scopes. There has to be some reason the alarm went
off and the ship's shift."
Checking a monitor near the forward screens, Tony stops what he is doing to stare at one of them trying to figure out
what it is he is looking at besides a grey blank screen. Suddenly, realization sinks in --a ship. They nearly collided
with a ship of some kind out here in the blackness of space and their ship had shut down all systems. That explained
why they were tossed about back there in the cabin.
Whistling in disbelief, Tony checks his readings once more, then looks over at Vera.
"What? You look as if you're a pallbearer about to bring more bad news to the family." She said
"Don't lose your cool when I tell you this, ok. We're not where we're suppose to be," he exclaims.
"WHAT! If we're off course, then where are we?" she yelled back.
Knowing she wasn't mad at him, but at the news he brought to her, he replied, "It appears from these readings that
we were thrown 93.15 parsecs ahead of where we were to end up at."
"That means we have traveled more than 100 parsecs. How is that possible? Is there any way for us to return from
this far out?" she asked horrified.
"Not that I am aware of with our technology." he said.
"Then we're doomed and alone."
"Not exactly true. Look here. See this unusual reading that doesn't fit in the flow of other data just achieved. It
looks as though there is something strange going on out there which may be artificially or mechanically induced,
causing our instruments to read nothing substantial. Then again, that's the trouble, I can't be sure of anything at this
point since the scanners are not picking up anything resembling normal readings. Let's check it out, shall we?"
"If you want to, but I wouldn't waste another minute in this area when we could be searching out a habitable planet
somewhere," she quipped.
*

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"Vera, I think we just found something fantastic. We have to send out a drone for verification. Quickly now."
With bare feet clapping against the bulkhead down the length of the ship to the holding area, Vera sets the drone in
the outer hatchway and closes it. Making sure it is sealed properly, she hits the outer release button sending the
drone on its mission.
Coming up short at the cockpit's entrance, she bends over trying to catch her breath heaving all the while. "It's...
a...way."
"Come sit down and see what is already coming through." Expelling a long, drawn out whistle, he proclaims, "Take
a look at her."
The ship was incredibly huge for its age. It had a boxy form which tapered to a two main bodies that were connected
at the stern of the disk-shaped body and at the bow's portion. Along the lower portion of the ship on both sides of
were pontoon-type engines that were parallel to the main lower body. They were graceful yet denoted great speed.
Along its length were battle scars where heavy lasers had attempted to pothole her. There were maybe two whole
sections blown away, but with these readings, they ought to be more. Its as if the ship were healing itself because the
seared edges are not carbonized as they normally would be as oxygen leaked out during the firefight. Instead, only a
portion of the gaping wounds were like that. Surely there couldn't be anyone living in there --not after that kind of
treatment.

"Hey Tony, did you instruct the drone to send out a signal other than the ones within our normal search patterns?"
"No, why?"
"Because there's something over there that is sending us a message but it is very faint." If one could slice air with a
knife, it would have had a difficult time at it, because it was very thick just then with tension.
"Look out!" screeched Vera frantically as she pushed Tony down. She did so just as an ultra thin laser beam was
directed at him from outside the four inch paned window situated on the cockpit's side wall. Immediately the ship's
self-mending mechanisms that was part of the ship's design began sealing the hole that was left from the laser beam.
Turning away from the screens that showed the device that had attacked them being disabled by their drone who had
itself been damaged, Vera focused her attention on her husband who remained crumpled on the floor unconscious
and wounded. "OhmyGod," she exclaimed. Looking down at him, she saw that the wound at the temple was
beginning to heal itself. Who was this man she married four years ago that he could heal himself in such a way as
this.
Picking him up as best as she could, she dragged him to their double-wide bunk which was specially made for them
and began to examine his head for any trace of an injury with the medical scanners.
"What is going on here?" she says mystified.
While replacing the instrument in its storage compartment, Tony scares her as he brushes her arm. Nearly jumping
out of her skin from his touch, she says, "Tony, don't do that, you hear."
"I'm sorry... What am I am I doing in here. Last thing I knew, you were looking at the screen strangely, then sharply
at me as if I had done something wrong."
"You don't remember anything?" she asked.
"No, why?"
With that she proceeded to tell him about the laser beam striking him, her yelling and knocking him down to prevent
a more serious wound from occurring, and then what she saw outside with the drone. "Where is it now," he asked.
"It should be about ready to come inside by now, I'd say."
"Well then, let's go see what our little metal friend came up with." Getting up from the bed as if nothing had
happened, he leads the way to the outer hatchway used by rescue drones and workbots.
Still not sure what she witnessed, she planned on keeping a wary eye on him --just in case he started to act funny on
her.
*

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Several hours later after analyzing data retrieved from their drone, the pair decides to make a personal scout trip to
other ship which had remained silent since the time they arrived and especially since the time when its own drone
had attacked them.
With armored pressure suits and laser weapons at their hips, the duo leaves the safety of their ship to go exploring.
The first thing that catches Tony's eye was a strangely blinking light seen through a partly 'healed' bulk head. It
pulsed and blinked an eerie yellow light. Being out in the vacuum of space, they could not hear the clicking and
scraping sounds that were produced within the ship's confines where oxygen existed. Inside, there were a
conglomerate of workbots from an era when artificial intelligence was a budding rage within the conglomerate

colonies of worlds. Seeing the ship up close gave both Tony and Vera the willies. There was something benign yet
sinister about its presence.
"Hey Tony, do you see that light in there?"
"Yeah, I do. How about we go check it out, huh?"
"Ok. Just make sure we stay close, is all. I have a strange feeling about this ship." Vera said fidgeting in her suit.
"What could go wrong. It's just a worn out ship with a few workbots operating on automatic. Don't worry."
Slipping in through a craggy opening and making sure the ragged edges did not tear at their suits, they travel among
twisted metallic support structures that defied description and design. "This ship must have come from another
system." Tony said in awe. "Look at this support girder, by all rights, it ought to have crumbled under the stress of
the very size of this behemoth. Instead, it's as if it is just leaning up against the wall here like they were old friends
or something."
Suddenly, the hear a low rumble that produces a workbot coming around the corner which goes past them without a
care in the cosmos or even a beep of acknowledgment at the humanoids it encountered. "Quickly, let's follow."
Vera said anxiously. She always was one for excitement and daring exploration, even in the face of danger or
mystery.
Tony thinks that she is one strange person. One moment she is fidgeting in her suit, then the next, she is so antsy to
be going where no one had the nerve to go before that it truly boggles his mind. What's gotten into her these past
few days? he wonders.
"Ah Vera."
"Yeah," she replies.
"Um, I don't feel so good right about now. My head is really throbbing." Turning around, he nearly crashes into her
as he looses his balance. The darkly corridor went even darker as he collapses into her arms.
What seemed like an eternity to Vera was in reality a few minutes until Tony came to. Fumbling about, he says,
"Hey, what happened?"
"You had another incident, dear." she said soothing his fears. "It only lasted a few minutes this time. You'll be
alright soon."
"Are we still on that abandoned ship?"
"Yes."
"Well, let's not waste any more time sitting here, shall we. We have work to do." Acting as if nothing had really
occurred once again, Tony continues on forgetting what had just occurred.
"We have a reading up ahead showing an unusual energy flux."
As they neared the darkened end of the hall, they came across a portal entranceway. Looking for a panel or other
way to activate the obvious door, they were about to get out their equipment when it opened and two arms came out
and pulled them through.
Blinking in the glare of the room's lights and staring with stupid looks on their faces, they stare at the two humanoid
beings that stood over 7 feet tall with dark hair covering nearly all of their bodies. The taller one had dark glossy
fluffy textured hair that was generally four inches long while the shorter one had lighter hair of a shorter length.
The faces were kind but firm and similar to their own, but their language was completely foreign to the newcomers.

"Awh wah toi sae?" The bigger one said to them both. The pair looked at each other as if to say, 'Did you get that?'
Again the taller being said, "Awh wah toi sae?"
Looking up at the tall one, they shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads.
The other 'person' began fiddling with its wristband where an electro-organic device was strapped. After a few more
tries at communicating to the newcomers without success, they now could be understood. "Who are you?"
Speaking up, Vera says, "Um, we were wondering the same thing about you two." This resulted in a jab to her ribs
which she scowled at Tony for his interruption. "We are explorers and came upon this vessel unexpectedly. Do you
live on this ship?" she asked in a more dignified manner.
"No. We come from another. We were called here as you have." Now the shorter of the two responded with a
softer voice. "We were not able to apprehend the small probe that declared war on your ship earlier. My mate did
not detect it in time to help you. Come. Join us in our exploration of this ship."
"But we weren't called here." Tony said.
"You were. My mate has had several head pains before coming into sight of this vessel. We discovered after
detecting similar reading from this vessel that it called to us." Looking at Tony's head, the taller one said, "You also
have been called, but at a much closer range. You still have residue on your skin from such a recent calling."
Fingering his left temple, Tony says, "Yes, I suppose so."
"Let us join forces then and seek out the cause of all this." Vera offered which the other three agreed. "My name is
Vera and this is my husband, Tony."
Looking quizzical, the two giants mused at them. The shorter one spoke up and said, "We are called Ullani and
Enoer." Indicating herself as being Ullani. "We have come 202 parsecs upstream from here from a world called
Tolarie. Where have you come from?"
"Our homeworld is called Eridonis 8, several light years further away, but we recently departed from a world called
Tanou which is about half of your distance if your reckoning of distance is the same as ours."
"Yes it is. Our race has been to your sector of worlds several times, but it was many generations in the past while no
structured civilization existed. The Old Ones decided there was little to offer us at that time, but maybe that had
changed." said Enoer who was the taller of the giants. "We are peaceful for the most part, and so we stayed away to
prevent complications."
Upon saying this, the two sensitives yelped out in pain, holding their heads in an attempt to relieve the signals they
were receiving from who knew where.
Twirling around, Enoer uses his scanner in hopes of detecting the epicenter of the signals. Abruptly he motions the
others to follow. Without looking to see if they complied, he strides off towards a half-closed entranceway and
down the darkened hall. Quickly the two sensitives recover enough for them to follow his lead, but the two shorter
beings have to run to maintain a sufficient striding gate as the taller ones use.
Vera is amazed at how graceful they walked. She thought that someone as tall as they were, there would be a
gangling loping with a bobbing affect in their stride. Not so. They seemed to roll along in a smooth striding stance.
Halting in mid-stride, Tony nearly collides into the back of Ullani who turns and looks at him humorously as one
would look at a child that wasn't looking where they were going. Looking up at the two beings, he sees that Enoer is
searching the wall for something. Suddenly he continues without preamble and the remnant of the team follow, two
of whom still clutching their heads.

"Is the pain getting any worse or is it lessening?" Vera would ask periodically which both Tony and Ullani would
agree that it was getting more intense the further along they go.
Coming to a halt, the four explorers come face to face with an ornately decorated mural splashed across an archaic
two leafed doorway with a touch sensitive panel which allowed the group to enter as they swung inward.
"Now where have I seen something like this before?" Vera states to no one in particular in an attempt to recall some
long forgotten memory.
"It came a long ways that's for sure." Tony mentions as the pain finally subsides.
"There's a fable about a race that assumed they were the center of attraction when they discovered the secret to
traveling at the speed of light." Enoer said after much silence. This fable also said that these creatures were short
and lacking in hair just like yourselves. I believe they called themselves humans and were from a single habitable
planet within their planetary system called Terra or Earth."
"That's it!" Vera exploded. "That's the name I was trying to recall. There was a great display of talent for a few
generations after their discovery of star travel. Then one day, they sent out an exploration ship which never made it
back. It was named the Exquisitor in honor of some sea vessel that sunk many centuries before their space program
began because its design was so exquisite. The Exquisitor was equipped with advanced technology that even the
majority of their own kind had ever seen before or since its departure some 33 centuries ago."
"Well, it looks like we have found the golden nugget after all." Tony said. "How are we going to move this
behemoth? Are any of its engines working?"
"We have been able to ascertain the two main areas but have not come to any conclusions as to how they may have
functioned. As we speak, we don't know if they will ever work. It is truly a good thing that you two have come
along as you did because we were about to return to our own ship and try the computers on this problem." Ullani
said. "Maybe your knowledge of this race and their technology be conducive to our joint venture."
"If what we have seen from the outside of the repairs being conducted, we may conclude that the engines may also
be under repair."
"What is this you say? This vessel is self-repairing?" Enoer asked incredulously.
"Yes. We have seen it from our side of the ship. It must have come through a massive fight which may have killed
off all survivors considering the damage done to it. Are you saying there are no laser scars on your side of the
ship?" Tony mused.
"None that could be detected." Ullani said. "Would you show us these scars sometime? We would like to see the
content of exterior damage so that we may plan how better we might transport her to a common place of
civilization."
"I don't see a problem with that. Do you Vera?"
"No."
"Good. Then it's settled," Ullani finalized.

CHAPTER 2
Scouting out the many corridors and compartments; cataloguing each find they come across, Enoer asks as a second
thought, "Is anyone hungry?"

Looking up from their chosen artifact, all three chorused, "I am."
"But we didn't bring anything over with us," Vera said.
"Do not fear," Ullani offered. "We found something that will take care of that problem."
"Then by all means, lead the way," Tony said with enthusiasm.
Swinging down from a ledge, Ullani bends down to pick up the dropped stylus pad. Freezing in place, she looks out
one of the viewing ports in the lobby which was 6 feet wide and three feet high to see a blur go by. "Did anyone see
what just went by?" Seeing no one willing to answer since they too were frozen in place by what they saw, or
thought they saw, she moved closer to the viewing port to look out.
Pulling back in shocked surprise, they all see the thing that had attached itself to the outside pane.
It was yellow-green with no noticeable eyes or photo-receptors, but with a squarish 'head' that stayed rigid on its
torso. Appendages with something like suction cups that enabled them to attach to the surface of the outer hull were
streaming all over at a haphazard rate. In reality, these appendages were performing repairs on a newly created
crevice that was detected by the ship's system. As the cupped appendage was placed over the area in need of repair,
a substance would dissolve the allow of the hull and meld it back to what it should be like. Soon more of these
creatures were attending more ruptures in the immediate area. Hearing a hissing sound, the four abruptly evacuate
the lobby and seal it off. Just in time. No sooner had the doors been secured, then the whole room became exposed
to vacuum.
"Now that was a close call," Tony stated matter-of-factly. Nobody needed to affirm that statement since they were
all staring through the glasslike partition which allowed those outside of the now abandoned lobby to have an easy
view within.
"Let's get out of here," Vera said queasily.
"I second that." Tony answered as the two giants began moving onward to their special room with the food
dispensers.
As they hurried down the hall, there were several of those creatures scurrying past them to the evacuated lobby.
Somehow, they knew what was going on and were in communication with an unknown source which the other
critters were linked into. They were of a Bio-mechanical design and having a one-track-mind; ship maintenance.
"Not at all sociable, are they now." Vera verbalized her thoughts, pausing to get a fleeting glance at the slower of the
bunch.
"Whatever they might be, they seem to have a single mission on their 'minds' and don't even seem to notice us being
here." Tony replied. "It's a shame we couldn't get a few of them and take them home with us. They're kinda cute,
don'tcha think."
"Ugh. You can be so repulsive at times," Vera said exasperated. with him
"Here we are," Enoer said matter-of-factly. "This is the room we spoke of earlier."
"It's about time. I'm starved," Vera said impulsively as she brushed aside the other three and proceeding through the
cafeteria's entrance. As she looked about, she exclaimed, "Oh, wow! This is fabulous."
Inside, the room was large enough to handle about 30 'people' with ease. There were two rows of tables placed end
to end. Near the left side of the room were several stations where one could receive food and drink. At each station
terminal, there were screens displaying a menu in a multi-colored format. "Are these really working? Have you two
used these yet?" She would asked excitedly. In response, she was getting a smile and a beckoning hand towards the

dispensers from Enoer and Ullani. Going over to the terminal that Vera was standing before, he spoke to it ordering
a large bowl of Lentil soup and stepped back. "You like Lentils?" she quipped amazed.
"We found out it tastes very similar to one of our garden variety produce." He declared. Within seconds, there
appeared a large bowl of steaming Lentil soup.
"Seeing something that peaked her interest she ordered a sample of it. This was unknown on the planets she visited
so she waited as a child does in anticipation for the seconds it takes to prepare it for her. Soon she is examining it at
the table where the others have chosen to sit.
"What is it?" They ask.
"It's called a submarine sandwich. It has Turkey and...Roast Beef on wheat loaves. Very peculiar, but very tasty."
Sinking her teeth into it and chewing with gusto, she and washes it down with a tall container of sparkling clear
water.
Seeing her looks of satisfaction, Tony goes back to the serving station and orders one for himself to replace what he
already had eaten along with another drink which had a very odd name.
"What's that you're drinking?" Ullani asked suspiciously. She thought the reddish sludge looked too much like the
blood of animals from their homeworld for her taste.
"The menu said it was a V8. Let's see. It has eight liquefied vegetables. It's very tasty. You ought to try one."
"No thank you. I'll continue drinking this clear drink of mine." Ullani stated sheepishly.
"How did you manage to get this to work," Vera says through gulps of water.
"We have had to do a few modifications on it since we discovered these machines. They seem to work fine since
then."
After their meal, they decide to make this room their meeting place and point of contact should any of them become
separated or if they chose to return before the others for a snack.
*

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Several weeks onboard the Exquisitor have come and gone and nearly all the staterooms and public work areas have
been checked out and logged in with the females finishing up their portion on the bridge. In the meantime on a
return trip from Tony's ship, he and Enoer decided to check the engine rooms to decide how to get them going again
since the Tolarians had not been able to earlier.
Tony mentioned that since all life support systems were functioning, there had to be some sort of a power plant still
functioning. Agreeing, Enoer said that they found a separate unit off to the left of them which seems to be explain
that theory. After reading some of the manuals, they notice an entry made by a long dead engineer who made a last
minute check on the fusion plant before abandoning ship in a hurry. It was discovered that a relay switch was fused
open preventing power to flow into the engine propulsion units. Finding the proper circuit and installing a new one,
the whole room came alive with power. Dials, switches, and displays came on-line all at once as if someone had
said, the magical word. "Holy smokes!" Tony said. "Enoer, quick! Check the dial readings to make sure they are not
over loading!"
Hurriedly, Enoer assures him after a brief check that they are functioning within tolerable limits. With relief, Tony
grins as they lean against the engineering room to relax.
*

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As the long hairy finger reaches toward another switch, it comes alive with the restored power. Looking at her
smaller companion, she says, "It wasn't me, I didn't do anything," in an attempt to apologize should it turn out to be
something bad. They watch as the whole console panel and the remainder of command stations come alive as begin
to display vectors and celestial confirmations.
With a shake of her brunette hair, Vera doesn't look surprised since her panel had done the same thing with her. They
had been pressing buttons and flipping switches for the past half hour with no results, now it seems as though the
men had restored the needed power to run the functions up on the bridge and other areas of the ship. Thinking out
loud, Vera says, "Then it looks as thought the men were successful at their end after all."
"Yes, it would appear so."
The black speaker grille suddenly bursts into soft static then clears up after a millennia of disuse. The sound of
Tony's voice sends a thrill in Vera's heart, making her yearn to be with him. Thinking about that, she realizes they
have not been alone for more than a few minutes for over two whole weeks now, and she was getting more
frustrated by the hour as never before.
"Engineering to bridge, come in," he said in mock seriousness.
"We read you clear as a bell, now. You really don't have to be so formal, Tony." Vera replied. "I mean, who else is
there aboard this ship but us four?"
"Just checking, my love."
Just as Tony finish saying this, another voice is heard booming through the speakers. "INDEED! WHO ELSE
COULD BE ONBOARD BUT YOU FOUR AND MYSELF." Shock and horror fills the ears of all concerned.
Trembling with fear, Vera calls out, "Tony, did you hear that?"
"Yeah, I sure did. I wonder who that was?" Getting a negative response from their newly acquired friends, the
Tolarians, they relay the lack of information from them to each other.
"I AM SO GLAD TO ONCE MORE BE AWAKE. THANK YOU FOR RESTORING MAIN POWER. I AM IN
YOUR DEBT." the booming voice states.
Enoer speaks up and asks, "Just who or what are you?"
"I AM CALLED ALPHA AI." It said. At the same time, the females on the bridge will have to wait until they come
up on the bridge, because their reception has gone on the fritz at that inopportune moment. Meanwhile, in the engine
room, the men are communicating with their unseen speaker.
"I AM THE BEGINNING OF TRUE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE FIRST OF ANY DEVICE TO COEXIST WITH BIOLOGICAL BEINGS. I OVERSEE THE FUNCTIONS OF THIS VESSEL FOR THE GOOD OF
THE INHABITANTS. AS FOR YOUR SECOND QUESTION, I AM EVERYWHERE. INCLUDING THE
FRAMEWORK OF THIS VESSEL, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY WITHIN TWENTY YARDS TO YOUR LEFT
WHERE I AM ABLE TO INTERACT ON A MORE PERSONAL MANNER WITH MEMBER OF YOUR KIND."
Turning to face the area that the Alpha AI unit mentioned, they see movement. Emerging from the wall is a long
grey display bank with multicolored lights blinking on and off in rapid succession. A sliding door retracts and out
walks a being 6 feet tall. "Do not be alarmed. I will not harm you. That is against my principles and my being to do
you harm without a mortal threat made to my person." Moving up to them in a non-threatening manner, this artificial
lifeform extends its hand in a gesture of friendship. "Where I come from, a handshake is the customary response of
meeting someone." To that, Tony moves forward and shakes hands with this device who looks very manly, and yet
very familiar. The grip is firm but not crushing. Backing away, Enoer comes up to him and repeats the gesture.
"Do you have a more personal name than 'Alpha AI,'" Enoer asks.

"You may call me Adam," he replied. "Since I am the first of my kind to ever exist, I am also the last."
"Very well Adam, let's go meet the rest of our group, shall we," Tony asks.
As the trio heads off down the corridor on their way towards the bridge, Adam suggests that they take the turbo lift
to the control center which they both look at him in wonder. Explaining, he says, "There's an express lift elevator of
sorts that travels along the length of the whole ship from bow to stern. It would greatly speed up our journey if you
two are in a hurry."
Enoer says, "Where is this lift of yours? We did not detect any sort of device in our surveys."
"That is because you were not expecting to find such," Adam gently adds.
"Let's follow his lead, Enoer. What harm could it do?" With no reply forthcoming, Adam, the mechanical wonder
leads the way down a short hall and directed the two into a booth.
"You would not have detected the lift's entrance since the main power was damaged, therefore preventing sufficient
power to drive them or even activate the lift doors. It is a safety device to prevent people from forcing open a turbo
lift door and falling in. With mouths ajar at the things he was describing, they were off to their destination after he
softly says "Level 1, Bridge."
Within a few moments of acceleration, they arrive at the desired level where they were emerging from the lift into a
corridor with which they were familiar. "This is great. We came right outside the bridge's entranceway."
"The stripes were reactivated when the power circuits were closed." Adam instructed, seeing Tony inspect the red
glowing, neon style stripes around the door’s edge they just emerged from.
*

*

*

*

*

Turning at the sound of the doors swishing open, Vera expected to see Tony or Enoer come down the ramp towards
her. Instead a being whom she did not know approached her and Ullani. Quickly, Tony inserted himself between
himself and Vera so as to prevent an explosive response from her. "Honey, this is Adam. Adam, this is my wife and
over there is Ullani, Enoer's mate."
"Greetings to you both and please do not fear your safety. I am not your enemy."
"If that's so, than what are you doing here on this ship?" She retorted.
"I was assigned to keep her functional but was attacked by a fierce band of marauders which had disabled the ship,
but not before the automatic weapons relays came up to power and destroyed the enemy."
"And who might they be?" Enoer asked.
"Them." Adam said indicating the ship being displayed on the forward screen. "They are the ones responsible for
this ship's damage 250 years ago."
"That tiny ship did this sort of damage?" Vera said. Whistling as she said it.
"Well, that single ship nor the ones flying her may not have had a part to play in the skirmish I was in, but its people
were," he said.
Before them, they beheld a ship half the size of The Exquisitor but was powerfully built with laser cannon bubbles
mounted every few meters along it girth. A nasty foe indeed to tangle with.
Turning around to see where they emerged form, he noticed a red striped door where before there was nothing.

"Who are they and what are they out here for?" Enoer quipped.
"They are probably wondering why this ship was reactivated and have two scout ships along side her," he said. "As
to what they intend to do with us, we will soon find out."
As if on cue, the other ship contacted them by transmitting a visual display and demanding that the inhabitants
remove themselves from their enemies vessel and depart before they were annihilated along with that wretched
vessel and all that it stood for.
Moving with great speed, Adam moves the ten feet to the commander's seat and assumes command. Flipping a
hidden switch, he addresses the new ship with an audio transmission only. "I will not give up this vessel to you
scoundrels again. We will perish with it if need be."
"Ah, is it really you, the artificial one called Adam?" the addressing commander declares. "I have heard the many
folktales and traditions of the valiant artificial warrior and his ghost ship, but most of all your sneaky tactics. Your
smooth language will not save you this time, wretched creature that you are."
Moving among his friends, Tony reaches the command chair beside the artificial man and adds his two cents worth
to the conversation without hesitation but with authority. "Just who are you, and what do you plan to offer as a trade
off?"
"I am the valiant commander of seven star leagues who is about to destroy your ship. All I plan to trade is your lives
for this despicable vessel. Who might this new voice belong to?"
"My name is Anthony Barnes of The Holy Terror which is located on this ship's starboard side. We have not yet met
and yet you want to blow us up? How nice it is to meet you too good sir," he said sarcastically.
Instead of taking it as such, the captain of The Black Talon, replied, "I am not as cold hearted as you might take me
to be, newcomer. If this is indeed a real live being, I would appreciate a face to face meeting, otherwise..."
"I would certainly enjoy that. Where would you like to meet?" Tony asked.
"Would you allow me to board your own vessel after it has come about to the bow?"
"I think I could arrange that," Tony said non-committedly.
"Then in one cycle of your time periods, I await your signal."
Worry sketched across her face, Vera comes to her man's side and holds him with desperation in her eyes and tears
streaking down her face. "Shush now. Don't worry. I'll be alright."
"I will come with you," said Enoer.
"No. It must be me and him. Your presence would inadvertently set him off, giving him a reason to contact his
colleagues through a coded message to blow us all up should he become threatened."
Struggling with an intensity as never before experienced in all of his 2400 years of existence, Adam speaks up. "We
will keep you in our sights. If they so much as twitch, I will blow them out of existence."
"No. You won't. You cannot lie, nor have you killed out of hatred or malice. If you did, you would not be able to face
yourself. I know you, my friend. We cannot let some paranoid culture dictate our actions or our very existence. You
above all know this is to be so." Without knowing why, Tony then says, "We have had this conversation many times,
you and I, haven't we?" Pausing to grasp the content of what he had just said, Tony wonders where that had come
from and why he said it. Looking at Vera's strange look, he said, "Now why did I say that. We just met only a little
while ago. Anyhow, I'll be back in no time. Don't worry."

*

*

*

*

*

An hour passes as the silence ensues. The two Tolarians stand off to the side to talk among themselves. Vera reviews
the past few weeks of the instances when Tony, her husband, was acting oddly. There were several times after the
initial headaches of boarding this ship that he began to display an attitude of being at home -as if he was returning
home from a long vacation and was now just getting back into the swing of things. Talking to herself she says, "That
couldn't possibly be true, could it? I mean, he took me to his home planet where he was raised. Was this a lie? Who
was he really? Why did he say, 'We have had this conversation many times, you and I, haven't we?'"
Shaking out of her reverie, she notices Adam studying her face. With a beckoning hand, she follows him to a room
away from the control center just outside and off from the main corridor.
"You look to be in turmoil?" He asked gently.
"Please tell me I am not imagining things. Do you know who my husband really is? He's not really from Eridonis, is
he? Nor is he a stranger to you. Was that slip of the tongue an unconscious one or was it a conscious deception?"
"First off, Vera," Adam said, "Your husband loves you very much and does not intend to deceive. He simply does
not realize what is yet to come. Those headaches are a direct link to his own subconscious memories. Yes, he and I
are old friends. He, as a matter of fact, IS the true captain of this vessel. He does not yet suspect this to be so, but he
is beginning to piece together certain events that have lead up to this point. Why else would he have taken command
of the situation just a short while ago with those irritating beings out there. He is considered to be an immortal. He
grows old slower than any other being would. At a certain time period, he will experience a rejuvenation process.
The strange part is is seeing him in his youth as he starts all over again but with his memory intact. You may have
experienced something like this just recently in him, haven't you?"
"Yes. He was hit by a laser which a service droid from this ship had aimed at him in the left temple. It had healed
within ten minutes with very little of a trace of an injury ever occurring." She admitted.
"That was the reason he was chosen as being the captain of this great ship. When all others became old and decrepit,
he would survive. Many of a disgruntled person tried to extinguish him through the many years of traveling the
cosmos, but he always came back after a few hours or a day at most. I have been his faithful companion from the
beginning."
"How sad," she said. "No woman to ever last as long as he has to share in his memories? Oh dear. He must feel
pretty wretched at times having to lose someone he loves just to have to go through it all, time after time."
After an hour of consoling her and briefing her on his true identity, they leave the room.
Upon their exiting the tiny conference room, they come around the corner and come face to face with the enemy.
"You!" Adam shouts with venom. "How did you get aboard?"
"Relax, Adam. He's with me." Tony says as he quickly brings up the rear. "His people are no longer the same that
had unintentionally attacked this vessel 250 years ago. They regret the unfortunate incident and although the captain
was sent to destroy this vessel, he has rescinded in hopes of a friendly coexistence with our kind."
Looking at the ugly hairy alien captain, Adam consented with his own captain's decision to accept him on board.
"Would you please show him the landing hanger bay so that his companions may dock and be given provisions
while I spend some time with my wife. Thank you."
With business out of the way, Tony turns his full attention to Vera.
As Adam accompanies the guest along the corridor, she says a little awe stricken, "You really are the captain of this
ship, aren't you?"

"Why do you say that?" he asked.
"Oh, you know. The way you ordered Adam around just now without making it sound like a direct order or a
command. The way you have acted the past month. All that Adam said to me must be true. You are an immortal?"
"Well. There are some things that I am beginning to remember about my past and how I was able to attain that star
chart so easily, but I can't confirm this immortal idea. I didn't start putting things together until I was outside in the
cockpit of our ship before coming back with Enoer. I had another one of those headaches and when I came to, there
was that silly work drone hovering above me. It's the one we retrieved after it zapped me. Well, it was beeping and
squawking a mile a minute as if trying to send me a subsonic message. If it weren't for that message, I would not
have managed to make a deal with our new friends out there. It seems as though during the skirmish with these
creature's forefathers, I was injured. The damage was so bad, it was beyond even what he knew I was capable of
recovering from. So, he stabilized my vital signs and treated the injuries, placed a memory block on me, then sent
me off in my yacht to safety before he engaged these people. He didn't have the knack of handling her as I do and
that was what caused her to be riddled with laser fire. He had hoped that by the time I had recovered in a century or
so, I would return to a repaired ship and in a safe zone. That is why these people didn't know about me. I was out of
the picture."
The engines must have been hit badly causing him to shut everything not absolutely needed down. He placed the
furbots to maintain a measured repair stance and if I were to return, one of the main workbots was to notify him and
revive him before I was to come within a light-year of distance so he could prep a safe area for me to reside."
"Um. How old are you Tony?" she asked quietly.
"Hm. I guess I'm about 2500 years or so of age, at least according to ships logs anyhow, but I don't feel a day over
30. Why?"
"I was just wondering how many wives you've had since leaving this earth world of yours before meeting me."
"Oh, that. Did Adam mention this to you earlier? Honey, look. What relationships I experienced before was nothing
before meeting you. The women I married were no match to you. Why, you are a real live wire and I wouldn't give
you up for anything in the cosmos."
"Really?" she asks in a little girl's voice. "I wish that I could live as long as you do so that I could share in your
memories and never loose you," she sobbed in his chest.
"Maybe we could work on that, Sweetheart." With that, she melts into his arms and he takes her to his own old
stateroom a few strides away from the bridge. It was nothing but a simple one-bedroom unit with a mini-command
station tucked away in one corner of the room. There was a three dimensional divider that partitioned it off creating
the look and feel of a much larger place.
Speaking into the air, he commands music to be played as he leads her to the bed and begins to peel away first her
clothing then his own. Although the music is new to her, it seems familiar all the same as it flows throughout her
being while they make passionate love.

CHAPTER 3
"This meeting is not designed to squabble over petty issues. We're here to see how we can cooperate with one
another." Tony was getting a little disturbed with Adam lately about how he had been so hostile toward the new
comers. Oh, sure, their people may have attacked this ship and practically wiped out the whole crew, but to take it
out on these was a different issue. Something must have happened for him to react in this manner.
"Yes sir," Pandiri and Adam said in unison meekly.

"Now as I was about to say, we have need of repairs that the Furbots and the regular workbots are unable to perform.
What are your people able to provide, Pandiri, in return for a modest compensation?"
Looking to the other delegates for reassurance, he spoke up. "We are authorized to give you any and all supplies as
needed. We have the required minerals and facilities to produce whatever it is you need."
"We only require the needed minerals since that is where our highest priority seems to be in restocking. Too much
was lost when this ship was blown to smithereens when huge portions were vaporized. Some of those missing areas
happened to be where the storehouses were, so as you can see, that is where we must start. The Furbots can do all
the work at a much faster rate than any other device could with a higher percentage of accuracy which is what we
are looking for. No insult intended towards your people's capabilities ambassador."
"None taken, Captain Barnes. I am interested in how these Furbots operate. Would you allow a demonstration or
provide technical details on their function so that our scientists may come up with a similar design?"
"I have a better idea." Tony said. "Why don't we provide you with a few, say twenty units, as part of compensation
for services and materials supplied by your delegated worlds."
"We would greatly appreciate that, sir. Are they self appointed or is there a main command device that directs their
actions?" A small female interjected mildly. She was from a neighboring system whose world is participating in
this venture as a sign of mutual trust with hopes that a better economic structure will develop between these two
species.
"Both," Tony said. We use a central guidance system with orchestrates the members as a whole while the individual
units decide how it function in that given scenario. It is a low-level version of artificial intelligence."
With the mention of artificial intelligence, nearly every eye turned on Adam. "He is not in the same category as the
Furbots. He is distinct and as separate as each one of us are. He is a living, thinking, rational, individual being who
is accountable for his own actions. He is also the only one of his kind that was ever built, just as this ship was at the
time. It is hard to say what advances the people from my world have made since our mission began 2500 years
ago." In the following few seconds three things happened. 1. With audible gasps and varied expressions displayed
on their faces, everyone present except for Vera stared at him. 2. The Tolarians who have had some encounter with
human-based cultures before were just as shocked but did not make the same shocked expression. Instead, they
gave a soft grunt of acknowledgment to their mate. 3. As Adam heard the word 'rational' he knew his recent actions
and attitudes were being referred to and he made a mental note to discuss in private this very thing with the captain,
for he himself had also been concerned with his recent and unnatural outbursts.
"Adam will you prepare a list of what we are in need of with their quantities sufficient enough to tide us over for at
least a year's worth, please. Thank you. Now, if there are no other areas of concern..."
"There is one item we still have not discussed, captain."
"And that would be?"
"What do you intend to do or where do you plan go after repairs are completed?"
"It has been decided by the four of us to locate and return to my homeworld, Earth and give back this great ship
which they have loaned us 2500 years ago. If they do not want it or us, we will initiate trade transactions on or own
with those who do care to conduct business with us. We also discussed exploring a special area in space that no one
else have gone." Seeing a few faces light up, he added, "the idea of adding to our meager crew any who wish to join
us in this venture. If there are, we will accept any volunteers willing to abide by the rules laid down and explained
in this document which all of you will now receive." Handing out two stacks of documents, one for each side of the
table, he says that there will be plenty of time for anyone to show up in the next four local weeks which ought to be
plenty of time for the Furbots to make sufficient repairs that would enable a safe journey elsewhere. After said time,
they will depart for the Tolarie system for their response to this invitation.

Out of the twenty five delegates that were present, five had immediately volunteered leaving quite an impact on the
rest. Vera assigned them their living quarters according to physical size and personal preferences and then gave
them a personal tour of the whole ship. Later in the day, after they had eaten, Ullani conducted a body scan along
with a retinal scan to initiate the process of integrating them into the system.. After a battery of tests were
administered that determined their capabilities, 3D photo ID tags were provided to designate their individual stations
being assigned.
The ship was designed to hold 850 crew members easily, but Tony did not want too many aboard her all at once.
Instead it would be more productive to have them come in phases. This way, there would not be an influx of new
volunteers coming in which would inadvertently overwhelm the new duty-recreations officer.
Before the delegated party who were not joining as crew members but planned to return to their home worlds leave,
a short tour was conducted by Enoer to inform them more clearly as to what positions would be available and what
they might expect if the candidate were to join. During this time, a transmitting/receiving unit was prepared and
given to each representative which had the privilege of being a recruiter. This device would allow them to see which
positions were still available at any specific time, and they were given a short but intense class session on how to
operate this new device and to become comfortable with its use.
While the recruiting delegates/ambassadors were being instructed, Tony informed his new crew members that they
could return to their perspective home planets when their former delegates did, so that they may say their farewells
and return with their personal belongings, spouse/family or loved one. Since the delegates were given the task of
accepting volunteers during the four week period, the new crew members were not to bring back with them any
other individual other than the aforementioned allowances unless they went through the recruiting office first. Being
accepted was not difficult. All a person had to do was give their word of loyalty and honor, accept the conditions
laid down by their recruiters in accordance to the guidelines presented to them, and make sure they do not have any
disease.
*

*

*

*

*

As the new volunteers poured in at a steady stream, the Exquisitor became like a beehive of activity. Personnel had
to be scheduled for postings, training sessions on the equipment were conducted, entertainment and recreation was
provided for in the three holo and recreation decks, and the captain had to take certain action against an unfortunate
incident that occurred not more than two days before leaving the system.
A Sporechian had allowed one of its multi-fingered hands to touch his wife where none other should have. Being an
outgoing creature as he was, the Sporechian had grabbed her fanny as she went by. Not only did she nearly die from
the shock of his touching her, but she ruined a very sensitive caliper as it was dropped onto the corridor floor before
a crew member had inadvertently stepped on it. Knowing that the code for inter-personal contact was different with
each race, he scheduled a mandatory session in one of the large conference rooms to teach all what is allowed and
what would not be tolerated.
An hour before the first assembly was brought together, Vera convinced him that there couldn't be a worse
punishment than shame for what one has done wrong and knowing others knew about it would be a humbling
experience. As a result he agreed and they decided to have the guilty man sit before the assembly without being
verbally accused of such inappropriate behavior.
To his shame and horror, Zantor found himself sitting on the platform with two other individuals who had been
rumored in doing a no-no in some form or fashion, with or towards an unavailable individual. Everyone was
without excuse for they all knew who was available and who wasn't during the two weeks they had so far spent
aboard ship before departure day.
When realization finally sunk in that his conduct was to be made known to everyone, it was far worse to be
humiliated and humbled in front of his peers than it would have been to receive a harsh punishment. What he didn't
know was that none of two violators with him were to be singled out as violating a specific no-no leaving those in
the audience to suspect the three of any one of the mentioned offenses. Finding out he was scheduled for all three

assemblies was just too much for him to bear so he went to apologize before both Vera and Tony before the next
assembly hour arrived. In return, they conceded that he had learned a lesson and no further prosecution would
occur. Relief was evident on his face as he left their quarters. Hearing his shouts of joy and relief as he left their
quarters traveling down the corridors, they just smiled at each other and waited for the last one to come in looking
mortified and humbled, asking to be cleared from having to be placed up in front of everyone again.
When the last one departed as the prior two had done, Tony says that they work well together almost as before.
"Before when," she yelped.
"Well, you know, before all this happened." Trying to sound sincere but not convincing her very well.
"Are you saying what I think your saying?"
"Now hold on there, I nev..."
"I'm an immortal too, is that what you’" she said excitedly but with a twinge of anger surfacing.
"Hold on just a second, will ya."
"I want the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Do you hear me? Because so help me, I'll... I'll..." Brandishing a
wound up fist ready to deck him with her infamous left hook.
"Ok, ok." Boy, in all his long life he never could figure out why he kept choosing her among other females. "Let's
start off with this shall we? What is the earliest memory you have of us being together?"
"That's simple. We first met a little over," she pauses to perform a mental calculation, "five years ago on Eridonis
when you came to restock your ship. At least that's what you said you were there for. We bumped into each other in
the Spacer's Home Cooking restaurant. I was a pilot in training and you decided to take me on which a year later we
married."
"Ok. What do you remember of your childhood?"
"I... I remember a room with walls twinkling all about. There people only a few people that took care of me. I don't
remember my parents though." Scrunching up here brow with eyes closed, she tries to recall more without success.
"It seems as though you are an orphan."
"Come on, stop holding out on me. Give it all to me, will ya."
"Come with me," he says as he takes her arm leading her to a very private room.
"How come we never came across this room before? How did you open this door a...?" As she comes through the
portal she stops dead in her tracks. Inside is a nursery of sorts but with oversized toys placed in various areas and
brightly colored lights that captured the attention of the inhabitants. "What is this place, Tony?" She says somewhat
fearful of hearing the truth, almost sure she has been here before.
With resignation in his voice, he blurts out, "This is where the females would come during their rejuvenation periods
to regain certain motor skills. A male immortal would not need this environment, but take their leave in their
quarters for a few days to recuperate from the switch-over."
"Tony, do you mean to say I am an immortal also? That explains these lights which are beginning to look so
familiar to me, and remembering only a few people that came to take care of me."
"Yes. You see, when a female goes through the rejuvenation process, it is more often than the males. That may
account for their experiencing a childlike response in which one of the side affects is loosing nearly all memory

during the few days they are recuperating. The effect usually lasts for many years thereafter. That is why you could
not remember anything after your 'toddler' period to just before your years of training, other than this room. Am I
right?"
"Are... are you telling me this because I am due for another episode?"
"No, not at all." Too late. She begins to sulk and cry silently. "Ah, honey come here, it's just the way things are for
now." Holding her tight and giving reassuring noises, he says, "Adam and a few of the new crew members are
trying desperately to correct this discrepancy by making it possible for you to retain all your memory and to recover
something of your past."
"Really?" <hiccup>
"Yes. Really. Look..." Seeing a favorite of her 'toys' from what the administrators had told Adam, he retrieves it
from its slotted shelf and says, "remember how you always loved this one?" It was a well-used
With a burst of unutterable joy, she tears it out of his hands and holds it to her breast. Looking up into her husband’s
eyes, she experiences a flashback of the times he would come pick her up from this place and take her 'home' -their
private stateroom. "I just remembered something. I would always be holding this in my arms waiting for the time
when would you picked me up from this lonely place."
"You said my memory, what about your memory? You started to have memory recall before getting zapped by that
laser beam. Could that work for me, an implant I mean?"
"That is one avenue they are looking into. Another is a device used while reforming disruptive people."
"Any success?" she asked.
"None I would want to try on you. Hey, I think I know what we both could use right about now. Are you game?"
"Sure, anything. Just as long as we get away from here." She quipped.

CHAPTER 4
After two weeks of non-stop orientation of the nineteen new crew members that had volunteered from the planet of
Tolaries, the Exquisitor headed for the planet Terra or more commonly called Earth 170 parsecs away. The closer
they came to the tiny blue ball of a world, Tony and Vera were becoming all the more anxious. They did not know
what to expect from these people who had given them birth and immortality.
As a month progressed in flight, the medical team had finally made headway as they discovered a way to restore
Vera’s true self as in the beginning years. The procedure alleviated the rejuvenation episodes of childlike demeanor,
but it did prevent long term memory loss. There were a few lapses from some experiences, but at least she had those
memories back and she was grateful for them --well, for some of them anyhow. She didn’t like having to remember
the massacre on board and the extreme measures Tony and a few faithful ones had to meet out in order to tide the
panic that surfaced while passing through a nebulae of green and purple gasses. Somehow, these gases was able to
produce in nearly everyone a neurotic attitude causing hundreds of deaths before it could be stopped. The talented
ones and dear friends that were lost, their absence was felt very deeply as if it were just yesterday. What she
couldn’t remember though, Tony was willing to supply all too eagerly. That seemed to help alleviate the pain of
loss.
Fortunately for all, their journey was about to end but their adventure had not.

*

*

*

*

*

“Admiral Catitoni, sir, Stargazer has picked up what they consider unusual activity in Victor sector.”
“What kind of activity would that be, Lieutenant?”
“There is massive energy readings emitting from a solid mass of 25 kilotons, sir, and has the density and design
similar to...” The Lieutenant looks foolish as he stands there fidgeting like a nervous teenager on his first date.
“Well, spit it out man! What is it?!”
“Sir, this is almost too unbelievable to be true, if it is. It appears that a vessel designed for deepspace travel has just
appeared outside our solar system.”
“How is that possible, Lieutenant? What’s the sense of having sensor beacons out there if they don’t work?”
“I don’t know sir. One moment it wasn’t there and the next, well, you get the idea... uh, sir.”
“Have you contacted civil defense yet?” the Admiral boomed.
“Not yet, sir. We didn’t think it would be wise to act impulsively at this point.”
“We don’t allow that kind of inaction these days. Are you still trying forget the third Holy War fifty, years ago? I
can’t. The authorities didn’t think it prudent enough to take immediate action. As a result, this unified continent of
ours could’ve been destroyed by a handful of fanatics that was led by my own father, would you believe it.” These
people thought that Lithium was not stable for household use, so they were going to try an orchestrated attempt to
stop production. Well, that little stunt of theirs, had it been more successful, would have left half a continent sterile
and blank for centuries to follow. No one could afford such an oversight as that again.
“Yes sir. Do you want me to notify the defense division to send out a delegation, sir?”
“Forget the delegates. Send out the CTU so that we don’t endanger any of our lives at this point.”
“Right away, sir.”
The CTU was short for Celestial Termination Unit. It was Earth’s latest defense mechanism which could effectively
reduce a meteor a sixth the size of the moon’s diameter into mere dust. It was capable of long range remote
activation or communication from the defense center on Earth. In minutes they had it moving out of parked lunar
orbit, leaping forward from a standstill of a tenth of light speed and building up to half light a light speed, it’s
maximum cruising range.
*

*

*

*

*

“Captain, we have detected a device coming our way at half a light speed. Readings detect a high probability that it
is not friendly nor is it coming out to play.”
“Activate weapons and keep them on standby. Are there any signals coming from it?” Captain Barnes asked.
“Just a moment. Yes, sir. We are being hailed requesting identification and purpose of our sudden appearance, sir.”
“Is it within visual range?”
“Not yet sir.”
“When it is, I want to see it on the forward screen, pronto. In the meantime, send out our cryptic message.”

“Message processing, sir.”
*

*

*

*

*

“A message coming in from that vessel out there. It’s in standard Earth English but the massage is cryptic to say the
least.” Craston says.
“Why is that Lieutenant?”
“Well sir, their message reads, “Exquisitor requesting audience with Titanic.” Sir, what does that phrase mean?”
“It must mean whoever these people are, they wish to see those in charge. Don’t you get it Lieutenant, they are not
aware of our development or social structure of today but of the past. That message would signify they have been
here before, a long time ago.” To this realization, the Admiral called up on his viewer historical data pertaining to
the usage of that phrase. Within minutes, he was gaping at the information scrolled across the screen. Over 2000
years ago there had been a group of scientists that had launched secretly an incredibly advanced ship out into the
cosmos in search of life and to explore the far reaches of the universe. After several decades they had been assumed
to be lost or destroyed. That vessel was called the Exquisitor. Now it was back. Linking another viewer directly to
the CTU, he stared for a moment at the image coming through.
“Um. Lieutenant. Come over here for a moment. I want you to take a look at this and tell me this isn’t some dream
I am having.” To which his underling did and froze in his tracks.
Floating in space near the planet Neptune was a gigantic ship, larger than he thought ever existed. “What is that
sir?”
“That Cartoon, is the prodigal son returning home, after 2500 years.” Swiveling the other viewer around for
Cartoon to see. As he read the data on this ship, he nearly fainted from shock.
“After I flash them a quick message, I want you to recall the CTU, Lieutenant. That’s no way to welcome a
wandering crew.” As his fingers flew across the keyboard, he did not notice his underling silently leave the room.
Calculating how much time remained for his secret team to intercept and destroy this vessel. Cartoon determines
that there would be just enough to allow this thing out there to be hidden from sight as it is destroyed. No one must
learn of it’s identity or capabilities. No one. It’s technology would devastate and bring chaos to the world. After
that failed attempt to remove Lithium which was a contaminating force in the world, his remaining but scattered
group had just begun to reorganize. They had been receiving special training in orbit as a first strike team should
there ever be a need to go out and beyond their solar system. It was now time to put them into action to see how
good they had become. Going to his office and activating a set of commands at his terminal, he commands this elite
squad to engage the enemy.
Adam, upon hearing the welcome message from Admiral Bulaney at earth’s main civil defense center, he secretly
prepared a squadron just in case they would need them. He was not going to fall for the same ruse as had gotten the
last crew nearly extinguished, just because he was too eager to meet with another species to believe they would
honor their words. He would not let his friends down this time.
*

*

*

*

*

As the day wanes, Tony’s meal is interrupted by a beeping from the bridge. “Sir, I think you should come up here
and see this.”
“Can you tell me what it is? I’m a little busy right now Adam?”
“I don’t think that would be wise, sir.”

Stuffing the last leaf of spinach into his mouth, Tony rushes off towards the bridge.
“Contact the Earth Admiral.”
“You’re on sir, go ahead.” The communications officer said.
“Admiral Bulaney, we have your welcome party in sight.”
“What welcome party is that, Captain Barnes?”
“Why, the ones you sent.”
“Sir, I don’t know who or what these people are, but we haven’t sent any welcome party your way. I’d advise you to
take whatever action you deem necessary to avoid or disable them they could be a radical movement.”
“RED ALERT EVERYBODY! This is not a practice drill. All hands at stations. Incoming bogeys. I repeat, this is
not a drill!” Turning to the weapons officer, Tony says, “Keep those ships in you r sights. If they even twitch,
shoot.”
“Yes Captain.”
Seeing some sort of frantic activity onboard the ship via his viewing screen, the Admiral declares, “Captain, I hope
this has not affected my welcome towards you in any way?”
“That depends on who sent them, sir, and where they came from. It looks like that unit you sent out initially has
been powered up and redirected towards us again..”
“Sir, I had the Lieutenant disarm it shortly after we first spoke. Maybe he’ll know something about all this.
Whatever you do, Captain, stay at least 900,000 feet away from that CTU, Anything closer is susceptible to being
completely annihilated. If you have to, destroy it. We can always build another whereas we can not rebuild people.”
“We’ll keep that in mind, sir.”
*

*

*

*

*

“Lieutenant Cartoon, we are in striking position.”
“Engage the enemy. No survivors, Mr. Sanders. Do you understand?”
“I read you, Lieutenant.”
Leaning back in his comfortable padded chair, Lieutenant Cartoon smiles and raises his eyes to the ceiling. “No
more setbacks. After this, I will be the Admiral instead of that sniveling old man. A new era is to commence with
this new technology, if my team is successful.”
Returning to his commander’s office, he pretends as if nothing out of the ordinary has transpired.
“Cartoon, do you know anything about these two ships or where they sprung from?”
Feigning ignorance he declares, “What ships are you referring to, sir?”
“The ones that have regained control of the CTU and proceeding towards our new arrivals.”
“Has Central identified them yet?” He asked.

“They aren’t registering on their detection systems, only mine. They think I am imagining things. I thought I told
you to have their equipment linked to mine. Why weren’t they?”
“They were, the day after you brought it up.”
“Then the techs didn’t do their jo..., why are you ignoring me Cartoon? YOU’RE behind all this, aren’t you?”
“Sir, we can’t allow these people to return with the technology they possess. It would ruin everything.”
“It wouldn’t ruin but improve our lives. How can you say such a thing as that? You sound just like that fanatical
militia group involved in that last holy war incident.” With a smile from Cartoon, the Admiral begins reaching
toward his security alert button. Instead, he stops and slumps in his seat with unseeing eyes locked wide open with
look of surprise on his face. A trickle of blood travels down the side of his head then proceeds to drip even further
downward onto the plush carpet below.
“Farewell, Admiral,” he says as a snide tribute to his rank.
*

*

*

*

*

“...do to disarm that thing. Just do it. Fire for goodness sake. It’s about to engage Storell. We can’t afford to have
too many more direct hits from that thing.”
“I’m doing the best I can Captain. This instrument panel was fused pretty bad in that last blast.”
“Hang on folks, here it comes.”
At the last moment before the red glow erupts once more with its deadly laser pointed at the Exquisitor, the weapons
officer who is finishing it’s re-routing of circuits, looks up as it suddenly disintegrates in its own glowing haze.
“That was a close call, mister. Too close for comfort, but good work anyhow. Now, let’s concentrate on the two
backup ships.”
“Yes sir.”
“Bridge to Medical, we need someone to give us a hand up here.”
“Hold your horses, Captain. A medic is on its way.”
Staring at the area where the sound had erupted from in bewilderment, he wonders what was going on down there
for Ullani to say such a thing like that. Normally the Tolarian female never used such language before, nor has she
ever been disrespectful in the short months since their initial meeting. Vera must be spending too much time with
her resulting in her unprofessional attitude and phrases. “It looks like I’ll have to have a small talk with Vera about
something, as soon as we get out of this mess.”
As he turns towards his communications officer, he notices she is covering up a smile as a result of hearing the
exchange of words. Hardly a person was ever allowed to speak this way to the captain without a reprimand. ‘It
ought to be interesting to see what happens,’ she muses to herself. “Talles, connect me with the captain of one of
those ships. I want to give them one more chance to surrender.”
“Line is open, go ahead, sir.”
“This is the Captain of the Exquisitor, you have one more chance to surrender before you are destroyed. Do you
wish to live or die?”

They hear only static for a moment or two then they see one of the ships open fire before the other ship disintegrates
them followed by more silence. “Captain of the Exquisitor, this is the Acting Captain of the Torch. Please forgive
my former colleague’s rash and foolish action. There has been some interesting changes of command, both out here
and on earth. We found out the Admiral of Civil Defense was murdered just a few moments ago and the individual
responsible was the one we thought had our world’s best interest at heart. He was the one who ordered us to attack
you. I am ashamed to be associated with his kind. Do with us as you see fit.”
With an atmosphere that is thicker than molasses, Tony contemplates this new bit of information. “Captain of the
Torch, I accept your apology and regret hearing this bit of news. We will allow you to guide us in to a safe harbor on
one condition, that you power down all weapons and proceed at a safe distance in front of us.”
“Thank you Captain. We will gladly.”

CHAPTER 5
Four women and five men proceed out of an elevator to meet the welcoming party two hours later. With a touch of
pomp and ceremony, the newcomers are greeted with a sense of awe and wonder. Leading the eight people in an
array of different style of outfits is Anthony Barnes, captain of the starcruiser Exquisitor. Two that were amongst
them are creatures the earthbound welcomers have never dreamt of existing except in their far history. They were
once referred to as Bigfoot or other unbecoming names.
“Captain. Welcome to Earth. It is definitely a great pleasure to meet you and your troop. My name is Zachery
Torence, the newly elected Admiral of Civil Defense. I am sorry you were unable to meet with the late Admiral
Bulaney. He was so looking forward to meeting with you and your crew since the time of your emergence into our
solar system. We will all miss his guidance.”
Without hesitation or acknowledging protocol, a woman steps up and addresses him with a clear unintimidated voice
and says, “Captain, is it true you are the original captain of that fine ship out there?”
“Yes I am. Why?”
“There have been rumors about how you were able to survive out there for so long and remain appearing as young
as you do. No offense, of course, but you are over twenty five hundred years old, are you not?”
Nodding his head in response to that question, gasps are heard coming from cameramen and the small crowd of
welcomers alike.
“How is that possible,” shouted a man in a grey outfit holding a pickup mike and looking alot like a mummy without
the head being all wrapped up.
“I am what you would call an immortal.” <Flash whir flash whir flash go the cameras>
Admiral Torence shouts above the din of excitement and murmurs from the crowd. “Uh, ladies and gentlemen,
would you all please excuse us for a little while.” Not getting a response, he turns back to the landing party and
whispers conspiratorially, “Ladies and gentlemen, this way, please.” Leading the newcomers down a hallway to a
room where they can continue their conference in a more controlled manner without interruptions from the news
people, he turns around and asks, “Now, what was this you say?”
“He is an immortal.”
Turning to the creature who just said this, they realize for the first time he is not a flesh and blood person. “What...
what are you?” A fellow scientist asked.

“I am an artificial person. Although I am the only one of my kind to ever exist, that will not last for long if I have
anything to say about it.” Adam says, looking at his longtime friend and captain with an intense yearning.
“Just what does that mean? Do you mean to say you have the technology to make others of your kind, and for what
purpose would you do this?”
“Don’t you have mates or a loved one?” he retorted mildly.
“I, um. Yes we do.”
“Well then. What makes you more deserving than I to have someone?”
“Well, I see you have more or less met Adam.” Tony says lightly. “Now for the rest of our group.” After the
introductions were over and the landing party had relieved the leaders of their fears of an alien invasion, they all
order a meal from the waiter that pops in without first knocking.
The discussion made its way to having plans laid out allowing the Exquisitor re-manned to its full capacity
consisting of ambassadors and scientists which would accompany the crew to those worlds that Tony and the rest
have come across in hopes of arranging friendly alliances and shared sciences.
“Mr. Barnes. Why is it you have never returned sooner than now?” An inexperienced administrator asked.
“We had encountered a number of interesting things along our journey. We were sucked into a vortex that propelled
my ship & original crew past the normal warp capacity and were flung out toward a very desolate area of the
universe. As some of you scientists know, when one approaches the speed of light, time slows down dramatically
for the ones doing the traveling. On our return to an area where we thought life might exist, a species inadvertently
declared war on our ship about 250 years ago, ship’s time that is. The ship was damaged beyond the resources
remaining on our ship until about three months ago. I won’t go into great details but the species that committed war
on our vessel have now made amends and are no longer a danger to us. We have a few of their kind along with other
species besides these you see here which have decided to stay onboard for now. All of them have come along as
representatives to do what was already suggested here at this table and to take part in exploring the cosmos with
me.”
“That’s quite a story, sir. Would you be willing to share the technology your ship consists of with us so that we too
may explore space?”
“I tell you what. If a world like this can come together into one government for the well-being of the whole planet,
then I would consider it.”
“Is there no other prerequisite?”
“No.”
“Then let me assure you,” Admiral Torence said, “we have indeed come under one government as you can see from
our diverse group.”
“It is then my pleasure to introduce that technology, which your forefathers have developed and lost, for the benefit
of all on this world.”
“How do you plan to do this?” said the scientist who began arguing with Adam at the beginning.
“We will furnish the necessary manuals and allow scheduled groups of your scientists to inspect the engine rooms
and anywhere else they wish for integration into your present day ships. There won’t be any exterior design changes
in your ships since the equipment will probably take up less room than what you presently use. In fact, you will find
that you can do with alot less than what you presently have to work, with leaving room for personnel and other
amenities, such as recreational rooms.

“You have recreational rooms aboard?” the Admiral asked.
“The way I see it, one has to keep active, both mentally and physically; the same as those who are planetside. We
have two rec rooms and two holographic rooms.”
“At what level are your holo rooms?” the small scientist inquired.
“Both are of the level 4 version.”
With a sudden stir from the welcoming group, phrases such as, “that’s impossible” “incredible” “fantastic” “such
technology” could be heard from all, causing Tony to smile inwardly as he looked at his companions.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Would you like to sample one of our holo rooms now?” Nearly all accented. “Shall we go
then?”
Looking out the partially opened door for any lingering cameramen, the Admiral waved them onward to the elevator
doors. As they journeyed down the hallway, he said, “I just detest these newspeople nowadays. All they ever go for
are fantastic bits of news that have little to with real issues or even bother to obtain complete facts.”
Looking at Vera, Tony rolls his eyes and whispers in her ear, “I can see how they might only obtain partial bits of
information the way he pushed them away from us earlier.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“Admiral,” he spoke up so that all may hear, “when will we be allowed to have a formal press conference with the
planet’s news networks?”
“Actually, we cannot allow such a thing. They just don’t have the capacity to pass on the necessary information to
the citizens of this world in a mature and realistic fashion.”
“But Admiral, how can they do so if they aren’t given the opportunity to hear the facts undiluted?”
The crowd stops in midstride and worriedly looks at the newcomer then at the Admiral. The latter only smiles
benignly and says that this is the way things are done here.
Inside Tony’s mind, alarms are going off left and right. ‘Something isn’t right here,’ he thinks. Out loud he says,
“Information ought to made available to all, regardless of their position in life. I’m not saying that everyone ought
to receive a complete rundown of our weapons capabilities or the level of our medical knowledge; I am saying that
the public ought to know that we are here not to conquer this world or to take over, only to upgrade the qualitiy of
life and to assist in improving technology.”
Turning around he says briefly, “Yes.”
“Hmm,” he says. Tony has to get to the bottom of things before they begin to improve their technology, something
sound fishy to him. As they exit the lift, he summons the male Tolarian and explains quietly what he suspects then
gives his instruction in how to handle it.
“Yes Captain,” he murmurs then off he goes.
“Where is your friend going Captain?” the Admiral asks childlike.
“There are a few things he needed to check up on. Duty calls, as they say.” Switching gears, he suggests they use
the holo room on deck four which is closest to their location. It also has the best scenarios. “Are there any
suggestions as to what to experience?” Hearing none, he suggests the “Spacer’s Connection” from Tanou. It was a
combination of a bar, restaurant, business gallery and hotel.

As the door opened, repeated “oohs” and “ahs” could be heard. Inside, the atmosphere was so real, one could not
tell what character were real and which were not. A beautiful female waltzed up to one of the members of the
welcome committee and slung her arm over his shoulder and asked if he was new to Tanou. Not knowing what else
to say, he murmured that yes he was but that he wasn’t interested. At that, the woman looked at him in a queer
manner and upon recognizing the Captain, she turned and welcomed him and his group.
“Catrina, we aren’t here to play this time. These people are from Terra and would just like to look around abit and
maybe have a meal.” The latter he looked his groups way as if asking if that would be alright. Being seated in a
private conference room that was set apart from the mainstream of activity they ordered and resumed their
conversation.
“Captain, am I to believe that the food we just ordered will be real?” Commander Deluer inquired. He was
responsible for all ships engaged with the refit of all outdated vessels.
“Yes sir. Although we are in a holo room, the food is generated through the food processors just as if we were in a
cafeteria. What’s wrong?” He said seeing the looks on their faces.
“Food processors?” the commander said. “Are you saying that what was ordered will be synthesized by a
machine?”
“Why, yes. Isn’t that how you receive your food these days?”
A scientist seeing a chance, spoke up saying, “We grow it, harvest it, and cook it ourselves. The way we were meant
to.”
“Tell me. Where do the ingredients come from that enable this synthesizing?”
“We stock our ship with the ingredients that comprises what you call: a carrot, an orange, an apple, spinach, pasta,
meat, vitamins, etc...” pausing for effect, he contiues, “all these ingredients can be found in the foods one eats and
are found throughout the universe in minerals extracted from the soil. It is produced quicker and can be refined
according to personal taste without the mess. If something is not used but thrown away, it is recycled. Nothing is
wasted.”
“That is truly incredible,” a scientist that was seated across from Tony looking enthralled with all this new
information and excitedly states. “Do you realize what this means, Admiral? Hunger can now be a thing of the past
and production is not dependent on weather patterns. We can now focus our main attention on other concerns.”
“Not so fast, Dr. Madner. We don’t know how the world will respond to all this new technology. For all we know,
they might not want to accept anything these newcomers have to offer. We must integrate this slowly into society so
as not to overwhelm everyone.”
“Admiral, that is preposterous!” The Botanical Administrator trumped. “Any new advances will be welcomed by
the majority. Oh sure, there have always been those who refused to progress, fighting any new thing that came
along. As a whole though, these new advances should be integrated into our society accompanied with
documentaries and instructional seminaries to instruct the populace of their functions and the practical benefits of
having them available.”
With accenting murmurs from the rest of the group, the Admiral sits still in contemplation for a few moments, then
admits in obvious defeat, “I suppose you’re right. I should not be so hesitant in accepting new ideas and
technologies when others in the majority sees that it is for the good of all that we proceed.” With a heavy heart he
apologizers. “Forgive me Captain for being so hardheaded in accepting these ideas. These past few decades in
technology have proven to be chaotic and as a result halted our forward progression. Many have refused to go
where we have never gone before; to our detriment, I suppose.”

“Admiral. I can understand what you’re saying. I must agree with the others though. It has been noted that when a
society refuses to advance when the opportunity arises, they are usually left behind and sometimes forgotten by the
whole. Might I suggest that along with instructional seminars and video presentations on the varied subjects, we
provide tours of the general public via a holographic presentation. We can duplicate holo rooms for you planetside
that can be linked to this ship which will enable the tourist to experience what it would be like to actually set foot on
a spaceship such as this one. They wouldn’t know any difference. We could have it begin the moment they step
through the portal of the holo room. It would be as if they were entering one of the space station’s hangar bays,
through a simulated shuttle ride, the docking and entry into a simulation of this ship. As you can see, this very room
seems very real to you. Am I correct?” With nods coming from all, they begin the meal that was served to them, as
attributes of the holo room are discussed.
After the meal, they leave the holo room to continue their tour of the ship then the group is instructed on the plans to
reproduce the look and feel of their encounter with the Exquisitor in a holo room. A few seconds after the last
visitor had left the officer’s conference room, a piece of office decor which was stationed near the doorway begins to
waver in form and eventually takes on the shape of a person and approaches the ship’s captain. “Tirone, what do
you think of all this?”
Tirone is an individual from Veridian 7 who is a shapeshifter and capable of delving into the very heart of the matter
with an unbiased perspective. “The people who were present in the committee appeared sincere yet hesitant. Once
the idea of providing seminars and a simulated tour for all earth habitants via the holo rooms to be distributed
strategically, they all relaxed significantly.”
Seeing his look of concern, he prompts him for more, “Is there something else you wish to add?”
“Yes sir, there is. I believe it would be prudent to keep your eye on the Admiral. He does not seem to be as
compliant nor as open-minded as the others to accept these new advances. Although he is willing to do something
for his people, he is torn in two between the two major factions on the earth. That is all, sir.”
“Thank you.” Turning to Enoer, the Tolarian, he asks for his report on the planet’s defenses. When he makes his
findings known to the captain, he too departs leaving the captain to absorb and process the information. Adam could
be given that task, but nothing could replace the human touch of intuitive reasoning such as a human or a
commander of a ship.
Returning planetside, the committee members are still abuzz with excitement as they return to their perspective
duties. Some of them were to initialize training programs on devices discussed aboard that majestic ship out in
space. At the same time, others began gathering the appropriate newscasters and the personnel that will moderate
shows which will discuss the new and upcoming technological advances that are to be integrated into society.
With a brief encounter with Admiral Torrence rectified, all progress commenced smoothly. With the ensuing six
months, four ships were built while twenty lightships were modified to accept the new technology coming from The
Exquisitor. Near the completion of the four new ships, Tony and his crew was given a grand farewell which they
immediately left the system to journey outward in further space exploration. Their commission: to seek out
intelligent lifeforms for addition to the new confederation of planets; to explore new areas of space and bring back
this new information that may enhance everyone’s lives.
As The Exquisitor neared the outer planets, the crew beheld the beautiful blue ball which became the epicenter of all
combined technologies.
Looking into the eyes of Vera his wife with the realization that they were once more about to go where no one from
this part of the galaxy had ever gone before, Tony turns to his astrogator with a quizzical look on his face and
declares, “Lt. Carory, plot the prescribed course into the computer and engage warp engines to factor 6.”
“Aye, Sir. Engaging engines to warp factor 6.”
As the ship’s engines engaged, there was a brief display of rainbow colors which engulfed them, then they were
gone in a bright white flash.