Those following ships had almost caught up.
A similar-looking man to the last appeared. We were only just beginning to grapple with successful cloning, and I wondered if those who were driving the projects were visitors from this galaxy.
If they were on our world, wouldn’t they be trying to use their knowledge, if not for avarice, but to help, or worse, to eradicate us as a threat?
It was too much for me to concern myself, that was for the high council to discuss and take action.
“Captain, I represent Krulaxl, the traditional home world of Princess Adwenana, and formally request her release into our protection.”
“Captain. For what reason?”
“That is not within my preview to discuss. You can be assured that no harm will come to her.”
“Everybody keeps telling me no harm will come to her, and yet they refuse to tell me about the purpose behind their request. I have discussed the Foroi’s intentions, and I will discuss yours with or without the real reason, but I suspect her response will be the same, she’d rather be recruited as a crew member of my ship that to leave it. Care to explain why that is so?”
“I cannot. Perhaps she is still traumatised from years of incarceration at the hands of the Foroi.”
“And yet there were no signs of ill-treatment.”
“They are very skilled at hiding their methods of torture which I assure you they visit upon all their prisoners.”
“Good to know. I shall speak to you again after I put your request to her.”
The comms officer ended the transmission.
Burke, one of the science officers said, “Captain, the new vessel has been scanning our ship, and tried several times to take the Princess.”
Of course, they had. Engage in a distraction while executing their true purpose.
“All decisions on alert for intruders,” I said, adding, “let’s lift the threat level to blue.” There were only two after that, red, battle stations, an attack imminent, and black, we had been boarded and potential loss of control of the ship.
Our simulations if a black alert always seemed to end in a shambles, so I hoped it didn’t get to that.
“Number One, take charge. No more communications until I return.”
I’m sure by now the Princess was tired of seeing me. Certainly, when I arrived on her doorstep, it was surprising to see a wry smile rather than deep concern.”
“If you keep visiting me like this the crew are going to suspect we are giving a clandestine affair.”
“That would only be the case if you were spoken for.”
She looked puzzled
“You already had a partner. We also call it cheating because we like the idea of monogamy.”
“We’re not that old-fashioned, but some still insist on the old ways. But no, I am not spoken for as you suggest.”
“And I have no other intentions or motives other than to protect you.”
It was odd to be giving this type of discussion while five enemy ships with guessable intentions were nearby. I was sure the General and his team were in their element formulating attack plans, the first military operation in outer space.
It was the stuff of legends and names on high schools.
“The new arrivals have made their intentions clear. They want you to take you to their version of safety. They claim you are a Princess from Krulaxl.”
“They would be correct. But that planet and people have been crushed and annexed by the Foroi, do they are pretending to be something they are not “
“Not a chance they are the resistance if the original citizens of Krulaxl could fight back?”
“It would be highly unlikely. At the time of the invasion, we were much like the equivalent to the stone age man on your planet versus your people in the 20th century.”
I had a hard time visualising her in a stone age dress. Or perhaps that was unwise. Like others from this galaxy, she had a very persuasive manner and was someone who was used to getting what she wanted.
“Have you considered my suggestion?”
“To join the crew?”
“Or I could be so much more for you.”
It took a moment to read between the lines, and it was disconcerting. Was this also a trait of these people?
“If I have given you any reason to think that my intentions were anything other than honourable, I apologise. It simply isn’t the case.”
“You don’t like me?”
“It not a matter of whether I like you or not, it is a matter of propriety, and as Captain, I have to set an example. That might not happen on your planet, but it does on mine.”
“Then I am sorry. I meant no disrespect. It’s just a more preferable option than leaving this ship.”
“Staying here might cause a great many deaths to my people and I have to weigh that up against what may or may not be best for you.”
“If I go with either of them, more of my people will die, one way or another.”
The very definition of being between a rock and a hard place.
“Then how do we resolve this problem? If I agree to let you stay on this ship you have to prove to me you have a purpose.”
“Perhaps I could mediate a truce between the peoples of our worlds. It’s clear to me that if the Krulaxl need me, if that’s why they’re here, then their uprising needs a figurehead, a reason to continue. And if the Foroi is here, they know the battle is slipping. It may present an opportunity to increase your profile and your planet.”
“You do realise the moment you leave this room they will take you off the ship.”
“Not if they are forced to come here.”
An interesting thought.
“It’s an interesting scenario. I’ll be back.”
© Charles Heath 2021-2023