The crew of the Kosiev was aboard ship preparing for their shakedown cruise. Cassandra was sitting in her command chair letting her mind roam the various systems of the ship feeling at peace from the contact. The ship was feeling like a cat purring in her lap. The Algean adolescents were in the nose of the giant ship connecting the device that they had built in Sten’s lab making sure all the connections were secure.
“A giant red ship has just come out of star drive just outside the orbit of Jupiter. The ship is almost two thousand miles wide.”
“Rose, ground all ships and stop any in system traffic immediately. What is it doing?”
“It appears to be just firing a beam into Jupiter’s atmosphere.”
Tommy looked over at Cassie and thought to Rose, “We have no choice; I’m jumping into the Captor’s system immediately. If it causes a warning to all ships, perhaps that one will leave and go home to help defend the home world.”
“Tommy, you’ll be killed.” Rose wailed!
“I don’t know if we can out run them or not but if that ship turns its attention on Earth, it will totally destroy the planet.” Tommy reached forward and keyed his command circuit on the Kosiev and pressed a red button; immediately the ships intercom began blaring on all decks, “Battle stations, all hands to battle stations; this is not a drill.”
“What’s going on?” Cassandra asked anxiously from her command chair as she punched the blue general quarters button.
“A Captor ship had just entered Earth’s solar system and is firing a beam into Jupiter’s atmosphere. I suspect it is taking readings but when it finishes it will probably turn its attention on Earth. If it follows its normal behaviors then Earth and all its outposts will be destroyed. Our shakedown cruise has just been canceled. We are jumping into the Captor’s home system close to the planet, fire a full salvo of penetrators, and then jump away. I’ve entered the jump coordinates into your board, Cassie. We must divert that ships attention away from Earth’s solar system quickly.”
Everyone on the bridge prepared for battle but felt the real fear of facing this enemy that was hundreds of millions of years more advanced. Cassandra thought to Tommy, “We aren’t ready. We need more time!”
“That’s something we don’t have. Prepare to jump Captain Dodd.
Tommy was sitting in his chair on board Atlas staring at a monitor with the planet Ross glowing in the center of it. He had recently turned eighteen and Atlas was bringing him home to Ross after his graduation from the Kosiev Fleet Academy’s Advanced Leadership Graduate School to attend the Stars Realm’s presentation of his new title at a coronation ceremony. “Atlas, I really don’t want to have this title forced on me.”
“You really don’t have much choice, Tommy” Atlas replied. “Your sister has not had a child and the Realm is concerned about the succession. The Realm needs the security of knowing who would be their leader if something happened to Rose.”
“I’m not qualified; I’ve never taken part in any of the day to day ruling of the Realm; I’ve deliberately avoided it because I have no interest in the job. My entire life is dedicated to freeing your captured brothers.”
Atlas gave a mental sigh and said, “Even so, you are still your parents child and the Realm still loves them. Even if Rose had a child, they would still demand that you be the one to lead the Realm if Rose was not available.”
Tommy sat and thought about his future, “Well, fortunately, I don’t see anything happening to Rose. So let’s get this over with so we can get back to work.”
“We also need to pick up some new crew members when we arrive,” Atlas said with a different tone.
Tommy looked up from the monitor, “Who would that be?”
“Two new Algean adolescents are being sent to be educated,” Atlas replied, “and they come from high families.”
Tommy knew that Atlas’ had been forgiven for destroying the Algeans millions of years ago and Atlas had offered to train the brightest of the adolescents to try and make up for the actions of his race against the Algeans.
Atlas was millions of years old and was the sole remaining Alfont that was still free. His race had transferred their bodies and minds into their starship’s structure more than seventy millions years ago and he was technologically more advanced than any ship in existence. He was, however, not a match for the race that had killed and imprisoned millions of his brothers, but he and Tommy were working to develop the means to free his kin from their captors. Tommy turned from his monitor and looked at Atlas’ control panel, “Uh oh, that means they will be almost out of control for the next few years. What families do they trace their lineage?”
“One is a female and she comes directly from the Eldest’s seed and the other is a male who is a seed of the Fleet Leader that was leading the final attack on the Dremels’ world.”
“Wow, they are very high placed.” Tommy thought a moment, “Were we just lucky to get them assigned to you or was there another reason”
“It seems these two have a way of causing, uh, problems.”
Tommy smiled, “More problems than the usual Algean adolescent?”
Atlas said with a smile, “You have no idea. The male accidently destroyed a megaship.”
Tommy sighed, “I have to leave you and go away with them during their initial education, don’t I?”
“Yes you do, Tommy; the ship you’ll take them for their “break in” period has already been selected.”
Tommy wondered why life just couldn’t be simple; first this title and now these two new adolescents. He looked back at the monitor, “Let’s get this title affair over with and then I’ll worry about the Algeans. By the way, what ship am I going to use for their initial training?”
“It’s one of the new Megaships, the Stars Realm Megaship Dorg-Ross.”
“That’s a big name for a ship to carry. I still miss him since he died five years ago. Rose really loved that old Cainth. He added Ross to his name after the war with the Algeans to always remind him of those colonists he ordered executed.”
Atlas said somberly, “The citizens of Ross came to love him long before that war ended, the Dremel have named their largest city after him and The Algeans love him even more than them. Let’s go get this over with. You need to go get ready.”
“I agree,” Tommy said and went back to get dressed for the ceremony. As he began getting dressed, he thought about his fifth birthday when he left Castle Gardner.
His name was Thomas Anglo Gardner, jr. and he was being forced to leave Castle Gardner. Tag and Danielle had decided that their youngest child was not going to be isolated from the normal population of the Realm like Rose had been. Tommy sat in his room and mentally listened to Rose argue against their parent’s decision.
“Mom, Dad, there’s no reason for you to leave now. I’ve just assumed the throne and I need your help here running the Realm,” Rose pleaded.
Tag looked at his daughter, “Rose, you’ve been pretty much running the Realm since you were thirteen. Danielle was only queen in name; you made all the critical decisions. You need to be the final authority and having us here only allows those who don’t agree with your decisions another outlet for their grumbling. You job will be easier after we’re gone.”
“Rose, we were forced to keep you in Castle Gardner as a child because we were constantly fighting the Algeans during your childhood,” Danielle added, “The Realm is at peace now and Tommy is not going to be secluded during his learning years.”
“I turned out ok,” Rose fired back, “are you saying my development wasn’t good.”
Tag looked at Danielle, “No, we’re not saying that.”
Rose raised her head and looked over her nose at her parents and said, “But…”
Danielle came over and put her hand on Rose’s shoulder, “Rose, you have no understanding of what the normal everyday citizens of the Stars Realm go through.” Rose started to protest but Danielle held up her hand, “I’m not through. I know you can see anything that happens on any of our planets; however, you see it from a distant perspective and you don’t really feel what life is like for our citizens because you’ve never lived it. You will rule the Stars Realm; that is your destiny. Tommy will live pursuing the direction he chooses. We are not going to deprive him of being a part of normal life and learning from the experience.”
Rose stared at her parents, “Just how are the two of you going to make that happen? Do you think you’ll just go buy a house somewhere and settle in? You’re the two most recognized faces in the Galaxy. There’s no way you can make this happen.”
Tag embraced his daughter, “It’s just that fame that will make it easier to hide. You are going to help make this happen.”
“Just how am I going to do that,” Rose asked?
“You are going to announce that your parents are going to take Tommy and explore new galaxies,” Tag said. “We are going to take an extended vacation of exploration in one of our best starships. We’ll have a huge party for our sendoff and then we’ll take a shuttle to leave for our ship. We’ll announce that the name of our ship is being kept secret to insure our privacy and we will check in on the Realm occasionally.”
Rose furrowed her brow and Danielle said, “Tgon-Gee will meet us and provide a different shuttle ...