A tempting offer
It was a resolution, though it begged the question of how far the others, on either side, would go to extract the Princess. She was in an invidious situation, one that I wouldn’t like to be in.
I could see how staying on the ship would be the most viable for her, now.
And it was not that the ship couldn’t do with a diplomat with experience in other worlds and it was a tempting offer.
But the current threat wasn’t going away.
“That’ll be our plan B, but for now, do you have any idea why they would be out here to meet you?”
“Not greet, but refuse entry. I represent the old way, representative of a time when there was peace but when our world was divided into classes, basically the leaders and the led. It worked, but over the years a growing number of young people questioned why it had to be so. It took a generation before the first uprising, and another before the internal wars started in earnest, particularly after we achieved space travel, and the new leadership all but destroyed our home world. We had to seek new worlds to live, and, sadly, conquer.”
Was that not the history of everywhere? We’d basically done the same and at that point where we were seeking new horizons. They’d done it all before, and it had not been a success.
“I can see how personally you alone could start a revolution.”
“It’s the idea of what I could represent. If I am a threat, then it means the current leaders are holding onto a very tenuous leadership. It might be that the people are finally tired of the new ways. You also I believe have an expression, things were better in the old days.”
I was not so sure they were because I could not remember a time when we were not facing one or two calamities at a time. Now, life on earth was difficult, the climate had changed so much. We could have staved off the impending disaster but inaction by governments, greedy corporations, and confused people misled by mixed messages had destroyed any chance of survival.
It was why nearly three-quarters of the population now lived in space stations and planetary outposts, and why our ship was the first of many in the new exploration program, looking for a new earth.
“My old days were bad days I’d not want to go back to.”
“You are young, as I said. 100, 200 of your years perhaps things were better. You had not got to the point where you could destroy your environment. But it is, as you would say, all academic. I liked my time on your planet, it was so peaceful and the people so simple in their needs and desires.”
Why didn’t it surprise me to learn she had been there. We seemed to be the only people who knew little or nothing about the galaxy and its inhabitants.
“The fodder of another conversation I would like to have when there’s more time. But you think they’re here to keep you from going home?”
“That would be my best guess, though I can’t see what influence my coming back would have. Like I said, I’ve been away too long and the political landscape has changed many times since then.”
That told me she had been keeping up an interest in what was happening on her home world clandestinely or otherwise. The question was whether she had kept up communications with anyone, and where they were in the political spectrum.
Perhaps there was more she wasn’t telling me.
“It’s not going to get you to leave though, is it?”
“We came here to bring you home which I believed was what you wanted.”
“It’s not an imperative.”
“Then what would you want to do as an alternative”?
“That would be up to you. But if those ships out there belong to the people I think they do, then it’s not going to be as easy an encounter as your last.”
If she was trying to paint a bleak picture, it was working.
To underline that scenario, she added, “Do you have a death wish?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but I don’t react well to bullies. You can’t convince me these people would attack us simply because you are on board.”
“And, as I said, you are relatively young, and very galactically naive, but to answer your question directly, yes, they would, and it would not be the first time.”
I shrugged. Right then, it couldn’t get any worse. “You wouldn’t happen to know what sort of weapons they have.”
“I’m not a weapons expert so I have no idea. But weapons are basically the same everywhere so whatever you have, theirs will be bigger and better, or it could be possible you are better armed than they are. Sometimes, though, it’s not about the person with the biggest gun.”
A voice came over the comms system. “Captain?”
Number one again.
‘We have a new problem, two more ships just appeared on the rear scanner, and I don’t believe they will be coming to protect us.”
Just when the situation couldn’t get any worse. “I’m on my way.” I looked at the princess. “Any idea what this is about?”
“No. There’s no reason to send five ships on my account. They might belong to one of the other home worlds seeking to take advantage of a situation.”
“Exactly how many space travel capable planets are in this galaxy, and how many of them might have an interest in your situation?”
“About eight, and three that might remember my family, but I’ve been away too long for anyone to care or remember what our world was like back then.”
She had that inscrutable look of what might have been an android, but I got a distinct feeling there was something she was not telling us.
“Well, stay here if you want to stay safe. You can’t be transported off the ship from this cabin.”
© Charles Heath 2021-2022