The World of The Gunny

The Wasted World of Gunnery Sergeant DeShane
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 Post subject: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011 02:34 
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This has had most of the atrocious spelling errors corrected! I posted this way to late last night!

"My lord Emperor, the new Commonwealth Ambassador has requested your time in a matter of pressing expediency." The crest of the Chamberlain raising and falling with worry at bothering the Emperor so late.

"Did he say why?"

"She did not, my Lord Emperor. Only that it a meeting of some privacy was required. The sooner the better and a request."

Was it possible the Commonwealth was finally coming to its senses? The recent and abrupt retreat of their forces from Terran territory, and the horrific losses incurred by the orders over the past several months could have pushed them to the negotiating table. It was possible, maybe. He couldn't be sure, but that did not stop him from feeling real hope for the first time in years. "Arrange it, Tomorrow night. We will follow their Forms to the letter. In the meantime, get me the Terran Ambassador."


****


Brian Selth rushed into his office while still tucking his shirt in. His Secretary was awaiting him already and quickly twitched his uniform into shape before he sat down at the video phone to answer the Emperors call. It was bad enough that the Emperor had been kept waiting for almost a quarter hour while Brian and various staff members were roused from deep sleep. But then one did not normally expect Heads of State to call at one in the morning.

He sat down and took a breath before speaking. "Accept." The face of an Emperor appeared on the monitor. "My Lord, what may the United States of Terra for you today?"

The Emperor cut to the chase. "What have you done?"

"My Lord?" the confusion on Brian’s face said all the Emperor needed to know.

"You know the Commonwealth has a new Ambassador?"

"Yes My Lord, for several weeks now. Though we have no intelligence on him."

"Her. It's a her. And she has requested a private meeting."

Brian was quiet as it sank in. The Commonwealth had approached the Atheri first. It was the first initiation of contact from their side in the current war. It could be the game changer he had been hoping for so many years! "This is great news!" he started to say with a building excitement.

"No, it is an opening. There has been a carefully worded request by their ambassador. Essentially, Terran advisors may listen to the conversation. I do not believe that their Ambassador will be able to even acknowledge that you exist. Do you understand?"

"But surely!"

The Emperor snapped his beak and shut Brian down. "She can't, not under their Forms. Or else she would be bound to kill you."


*****


Carter had been taken directly from the space port to the palace as night had begun to fall. He was just going to have a quarter of an hour with the Emperor before the Commonwealth's Ambassador arrived.

He was escorted to a dining room with a significant spread of Atheri delicacies and only three chairs placed at one end of the table. A well dressed servant stood behind each chair, ready to serve at a moments notice. The Emperor had already seated himself and was enjoying a good wine. Carter bowed and waited for acknowledgement.

The Emperor waved him forward by pointing at the seat to his left. That left only the seat across from Emperor open. "I will start by saying that I do not know why this meeting has been called. I hope, of course. You have read their rituals for diplomacy?"

"yes, My Lord, We have studied everything that you have given us. I even recognize the order of the foods you have laid out. It's going to be a long night before we get to why she is here, isn't it?"

The Emperor started laughing. "You have no idea. There is the Ritual of Welcome, the Ritual of Protection and Thanks, and any Rituals the Ambassador initiates. Then, maybe, we can get down to business. This could take hours. Fortunately, Kael' Tak will have the Ritual of Welcome done before she arrives. And no, I still do not have a name." He took another swig of the wine.

Carter had been surprised, but managed to keep it from showing on his face. The Commonwealth had always been punctual about the names of its Ambassadors and their staffs. It was, oddly, considered to be the polite thing to do by them. But 3 weeks of delay, there was something up.

The Double doors opened and a single brown robed golden haired figure walked through. As tall as Carter, she was short for a Numerian. She bowed respectfully to the Emperor and waited patiently for his response.

The Atheri emperor stood and bowed once back as he spoke the Words of Welcome in Numerian. He gestured at the remaining seat and took his place again.

She sat down and picked up a goblet. The servant filled it to the brim and she murmured a prayer over it. It was not one Carter recognized, nor evidently the emperor. It was the only oddity in the next 20 minutes while the Ritual of protection was performed through the serving of the food and the Mutual hymns done by them both. The Numerian and the Atheri voices somehow blending nearly perfectly.

Carter watched it all with a fascination of one watching in real life what he had only ever seen old videos of. Really old Atheri videos. He realized that the Emperor had included Carters plate in the Ritual of Protection only towards the end of the Ritual. Carter smiled inside as he realized the message that had been sent to the Commonwealth Ambassador. Any worries about where the Atheri Emperor stood had been dispelled most thoroughly. If he understood the Ritual, he was now under the Emperors protection. What could be done with this?

The Ambassador stood and performed the Ritual of Thanks by pouring the wine into the Goblets provided. He watched as one was filled, then two. But the third was not. She placed the Carafe next to the last goblet and sat down.

His first thought was, 'She didn't finish it.' So what did that mean? It had to be completed. But it could not be done so by the Emperor. The Ritual could not be finished by anyone who had extended the Ritual of Protection. But she had not put the Carafe in the Position of Closure...

With hands that almost shook, he poured his own goblet, his hands placed just so, and placed the Carafe where it belonged while uttering the stanzas of the Ritual of Thanks. In spite of practice, he realized he had mispronounced several of the words. Hopefully it did not matter.

They ate for what seemed like forever to Carter. The Numerian taking small portions so that she could have a taste of everything. Whatever she was, or represented, it was not what the universe saw as Numerian. Simply dressed, no jewelry save for a highly polished wooden beret, and dressed all in brown. Even under what he could see of the robes. Not one piece of tech that he could see.

Just as the strain was starting to make him think he was going to go mad from it, the plates were cleared from that side of the table leaving only the goblets that had been poured during the Ritual of Thanks. It was time for business.

The Emperor spoke first. "Lady Ambassador, may I have a name to call you by?"

She spoke quietly, "I am not the Ambassador, My Lord. I represent a different calling. Our Ambassador will present her credentials to you officially tomorrow." Her voice continued at its measured pace. Easily heard, but not loud. "I need that which only the Atheri are in a position to acquire."

The Emperor leaned forward slightly. "We will naturally assist in any way that we can. What does the Commonwealth ask of us?"

"All that the Terrans have that relates to the incident of Hrumn's Death and the Graveship as well."

"Surely, such has been acquired already?"

"Once their authenticity has been confirmed by your Cybernetics’s, no argument as to the information’s validity can be made." She spoke as though answering another question that had been asked.

The elderly Atheri narrowed his eyes while thinking. It was time to be as blunt as he felt he could. "You are looking for information. Can you give me anything more to help me find it? Anything at all?"

Her eyes, which had been so far focused upon the Emperor, slid to look at Carter. While she seemed to address the Emperor, Carter could tell who she was really speaking to. "Because there is a suspicion that someone has been framed deliberately. Our trails are incomplete, many have come up empty and others lead to where I and others cannot reach." Her eyes moved back to the Emperor and her voice dropped. Somehow she looked threatening without ever changing expression. "I cannot permit murder to continue My Lord. But to stop it, I require more than half formed suspicions. More than my mind saying that there is something wrong. For this, I need Evidence." She stressed the last word gently.

Carter thought about it and decided to swing for the fence. "Madam, the information I can provide will be the actual transmissions of the day in question along with telemetry data, and the orders the commander of the Grave detail was supposed to operate under. Will that be sufficient?"

She continued to look at the Emperors face and said "Such information as is found will be given to a court of inquiry. But the questions that must truly be answered are as follows. Where did this attacker come from? Is it the same source as the man who killed our Prime Minister? If so, this source is a danger to us all. What has been done once, may be done again. But I shall take anything that may be given. Even wreckage scans that I am sure the UST did of the debris field that was left when the ships blew up." She took a sip from the goblet. "It would be interesting to see if the uploads from the graveship match the UST scan information." she looked Carter in the eyes. "For you see, ours has been altered."

She stood, bowed gracefully once to the Emperor and left while they sat there stunned.


*****


Gaiven walked precisely three steps behind her his mind and eyes scanning continuously. While he knew where she had gone and what it was about, he did not know how successful she had been. On the other hand, she seemed much less stressed and had a slight spring to her step that he had not seen in years. The meeting had not gone badly then. He permitted himself a small smile.

Noise from up ahead drew his attention. Revelers were common in Atheros late at night, but the city guard were generally good at keeping them away from Ambassador Row. The noise tended to disturb the ears of the VIP residents. Or so it had been explained to him. He saw three guardsmen crossing the street ahead of him, they were likely headed toward the drunken louts ahead. Gaiven's attention turned elsewhere as he checked behind them again.

The day had been long for him. Two more blocks and they would be safe inside a miniature armored fortress that his people wryly called an embassy. Had he had his way, they would have gone in armored vehicles, not this long and drawn out walked that stretched his nerves tight. Perhaps this is what she needed. She had commented before that walks helped her to think, and that was all to the good, right?

Her gasp was all the warning he had before the dance began. He made the mistake of looking at her before looking where she was looking. That second was all it took for the three Atheri guardsmen to close and attack. Two descended upon his charge and beat on her with clubs while a third attacked him. That one died after sticking half a foot of steel into Gaivens chest. The blow crushed the assassins wind pipe and threw it back like a broken rag doll.

He heard himself growl as Sarochia crumpled to the pave stones. Gaiven blocked a blow with his forearm and shattered the ribcage of another assassin with his fist. But he did not block the remaining assassins blow. It hit him solidly on the head causing him to stagger disoriented as one shape became many.

He had already failed, he knew this but he would not allow the assassin the distinction of taking him down without a fight. He staggered back to get room, only to realize the killer had not followed. The guardsman and a human were rolling on the pavement trying to kill each other. Well, the human was trying to keep the killer from straggling him anyways.

The human was shouting "We need this one alive! He knows who sent him!"

Gaiven snapped his hand into the back of the killer's head before turning to check on his crumpled charge. His hands gently checking for a pulse, while he spoke aloud to the air. "Code Naiese, have Faolin waiting." He gathered her up in his arms and looked at Carter. "Come, I will need your statement." Gaiven said in near flawless English.

They left as sirens signaled the approach of the Civil Guard.

The moment they came through the Embassy door they were met by a hovering gurney and 2 Faolin who rushed her off to be treated. While another Faolin directed Gaiven to yet another room. Carter was unsure of what to do until Gaiven motioned for him to follow.

"Remain with me. I can speak of your actions this day." Gaiven looked over at the far wall for a moment while the doctor waved a amber colored crystal wand of some sort over the still bleeding wound. Gradually Carter could see it close until all that remained was the hole in the clothing and the blood that had bled out. Gaiven thanked the Faolin and then asked that the old man leave before turning to Carter.

"Why?" asked the large Numerian. One word, yet it had so much behind it, thought carter.

"I saw two people in danger, so I leapt into the fray, to lend a helping hand."

"But we are Numerian, your enemies." Gaiven said in obvious confusion.

"So what? You and the lady were in danger from the scum attacking you. I did what I thought was right." Carter stated, as if everybody knew what to do in a situation such as this.

Gaiven nodded once slowly and then turned to the wall, muttering to himself, "Not Madieri, at all."

Seconds ticked by before he stirred again by gesturing at it. Part of the wall flickered showing a video screen and a virtual keyboard extended itself. "You will need to contact your Embassy I am sure. Stay here until I return. My escorting you back is a statement that my honor demands that I make in return for saving my charge and myself."

Carter watched the large man walk out slowly, like a man who was seriously distracted. From what Carter could figure, the urge to kill him was still there, but something had overridden it. God he hoped so. He could see the stress that the warrior felt every time Gaiven looked at Carter. And he could almost magically watch it disappear as Gaiven looked away.

Left alone in the middle of an alien races Embassy that was trying to exterminate his people, all he could think of was that a rum and coke sounded really good about right now.

*****

It had been an exhausting 2 days full of anxiety and even some self doubt before Carter had been again called before the atheri Emperor and told that another meeting had been scheduled for late that night. That was good as he had been sitting on everything the UST had managed to scrounge within hours of his return to his Embassy. The fact that a Numerian warrior dressed to the nines had taken him to within sight of the Embassy doors and then waited until Carter was within reach of the marine guard before leaving, well that had caused some furor. Course it had also reinforced what he had said.

Whoever had pulled the information together had moved heaven and earth combined. There were headings from almost every agency save the Coast Guard and the FBI. Course there were a few who had had their headings redacted so maybe...

It had not helped that he had been chewed on for not recording the meeting. That had caused him to laugh at the TIA debriefer. Electronics were forbidden in the Emperors presence without prior permission. The debriefer had had her revenge though. Carter had had to verbally walk her through it no fewer than 3 times before SecState had called while they were doing it the fourth time.

He laughed. The calls from home were actually beginning to annoy him as they were distracting him from focusing on what had really happened, and what he wanted to happen next. Why did the priestess suspect that Terra had been framed? It was an odd choice of words, but Numerian was a very specific literal language. It was almost impossible to misunderstand the language as it was spoken. The written word was much harder for him though. The same precision was done through context and word placement. Add to that all the tenses and degrees for each word made the study, well, a challenge. But it was one he had accepted in order to prepare for what he had so hoped to do. Bring peace.

His thought wandered back to the priestess and what she had said. She had to have been pursuing this for years and hit a wall in order to risk contact with the UST. The contact almost had to be an act of desperation. Could he use this? Dare he use this? Had it been brought about as a result of the string of defeats the Commonwealth had been suffering? No, that was not them, no matter what StateSec was saying. There had been no mention of negotiations, only a request for information.

He was not alone in his reasoning. Several others had said this already, but it had taken him some time to come to the same conclusion. He did not think that the Numerians COULD come to anything short of killing off all of humanity without the proof that the priestess sought. Their mentality simply could not do it.

And then there had been those that said it did not matter. With the losses the enemy had sustained they would be ground down within the year and forced to the negotiation table. The defeats had been too decisive with millions of enemy casualties and hundreds of capital ship losses. The push into their sovereign territory had begun yesterday. It had been done because the military had been afraid that any lessening of the pressure would permit the Commonwealth to spring back and extend the war for years. Or worse, find a counter to the stealth negation tech the UST was now using.

Carter was worried that the war would merely be taken to the next level. The Commonwealth had shown an advanced tech base that was mind numbing in potential, but fought with what he felt to be limited weapons. He was afraid that the Commonwealth would pull out its really destructive toys if truly pushed to the wall. It was his job now to give them an out, A way to not feel trapped.

He arrived hours early. There was much to discuss with the Emperor and get settled before the Priestess arrived. The Forms would again be observed tonight as the Emperor felt that it provided the Numerian with something familiar for her to grasp and a way to limit her ability to act against Carter if something went wrong.

They spoke long and hard about what and who they felt she represented. There was no doubt she was a priest. But the Arias she used in the ritual did not match the Orders robes that she wore. He also discovered that she was a highly disciplined telepath. The Emperors guards had not been able to pick up her mind at all. Her bodyguard, by the name of Gaiven, on the other hand was quiet but detectable. The Emperor had not bothered to contact her Embassy, feeling that that could possibly force a recognition of her presence here. Something he felt that she was trying to avoid.

Course that had not stopped the gossip. The meeting, and the fact a Terran was at it, was throughout the palace in minutes, and the city in hours. To say the city was rife with speculation was an understatement.

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Last edited by haegan2007 on 11 Oct 2011 21:50, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 10 Oct 2011 12:33 
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Course that had not stopped the gossip. The meeting, and the fact a Terran was at it, was throughout the palace in minutes, and the city in hours. To say the city was rife with speculation was an understatement. Funny how similar that was when compared to the gossip mongers in New Washington D.C.

The Emperor had disappeared an hour ago to tend to other matters, but Carter had had much to think upon so the quiet had been welcome. The click of a door opening drew his attention, but the person who entered was an under-secretary to the Emperor. The Atheri looked upset as it bowed to him and spoke. "My Lord Emperor has so informed me of a Ritual Suicide at the Commonwealth Embassy. Your presence is requested."

"who? Who's dead?" Somehow it felt urgent that he knew.

"An attendant, Ambassador Carter. The one who was injured two days ago."

Carter sat down abruptly. All he could think of was an Assassination and a disintegrating Graveship. It could not happen again, not when they were so close! A first contact with the enemy, someone who was at least acknowledging humanities presence without laser fire! Gone. And Suicide! He stopped. No, that one would not have committed suicide. No way in hell. It had to have been murder.

"Ambassador", the under-secretary said, "the Commonwealth Ambassador is waiting."

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011 12:35 
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Carter waited for the side door to open, but his mind was not really there. It was bouncing from thought to frantic thought trying to figure out what the Commonwealth Ambassador was doing here. Was the Ambassador in the know? Did she know of the mission of her attendant? Or was it to simply report a death as the Forms required? One was good, the other could have ugly consequences if Carter came in without a Ritual protecting him. And yet, the Atheri Emperor had not been wrong yet. It was the 'Yet' that scared him.

Ah, there was another who could possibly be contacted. Her bodyguard had at least listened. With considerable strain, but he had listened. All was not yet lost he told himself.

The servant opened the door and motioned him through. He walked all of 3 steps before stopping. Lord Tal'Lal was in full regalia, impressive as it was, it almost equaled the tall woman facing him. She was dressed in a black overrobe with dark blue underrobes with a fire orange sash. Her bejeweled hair net actually glowed as did the diamond phoenix pined to the right breast of her robes. Glowing blue and green on her fingers were Rings of Authority from the Senate and from the Council of Sanei. Taken together it said one thing. The Ambassador was here to deliver a message backed by the full might of the commonwealth.

She spoke, her voice carrying clearly across the room in the manner of a professional orator. "My lord, I have the profound sadness to declare the death of a Commonwealth official assigned to the assistance of our presence within your court. I am given to understand that the surviving ruffian has yet to speak. We trust your diligence in this matter implicitly."

Tal'Lal bowed ever so slightly at the compliment, then gestured to the table.

She bowed formally and took the seat stiffly.

The Emperor subtly pointed at the remaining chair and Carter smoothly crossed the floor and sat down.

Tal'Lal began the Ritual of Protection and Thanks as he had done 2 nights ago. Carter noticed that this time the Ambassador had brought 2 attendants that had remained by the entrance doors like twin statues though one was taller then the other. Dressed in dark blue robs with hoods, they both still sported the glowing phoenixes on the chests. He dismissed them quickly and refocused upon the Ambassador.

It went smoothly until the ending of the Ritual of Thanks.The Ambassador closed the Ritual before pouring Carter's Goblet. It left a sinking feeling in his stomach that he was not quite sure how to handle.

The meal lasted longer then it had any right too, thought Carter as the servants were clearing the last of the meal. It had been almost as though the Ambassador had been deliberately stretching it out to torture him. It had been effective.

Tal'Lal spoke quietly, "The suicide, are you sure that that is what it was? She had been attacked but a few days before..." He seemed to wilt under the now icy stare that she gave him.

"Suicide, My Lord, is nothing less then self murder." Her words flowed out low and intense, filled with barely suppressed fury. "To describe what has occurred in any other form would be to do all involved a disservice." She cocked her head slightly and her lips compressed for a second. "I have an urgent communique to attend to, I shall require a private room for a quarter hour, if you please My Lord." The last had been ground out.

The Emperor snapped his fingers urgently and a servant rushed forward to lead her through another side door. As soon as she flowed through the small double doors, he visibly relaxed and looked at Carter. "That was odd. Her focus was not on us at all. What was that Terran phrase? Mad as a wet cat who's fur had been stroked the wrong way?"

Carter snorted at the Atheri Emperor's usage of a Terran analogy. "My Lord that would be an understatement of epic proportions. I would say she could float a ballon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with the angry heat she was giving off." Carter said with a snort. "But, in all seriousness, that woman is hiding something. I would bet a one eyed-jack on it. Something smells fishy about the supposed suicide."

"Carter, they are terrible liars", the Emperor said thoughtfully. "It's why we take any statement from them seriously."

"If the Numerian here yesterday is really dead, and I think the Numies did it themselves, they would have had to have taken out her guard too. I saw the look in his eyes yesterday, he would die before she did."

"Their Ambassador would have reported his death. The Forms would have demanded it."

Then, my lord, she is not dead. I would bet a pair of tens on the fact." Carter said, a hunch telling him something was wrong with the picture he was given.

The feminine voice carried quietly across the now empty room. "I would say you won that game, Ambassador Carter." Both attendants walked towards Carter and Tal'Lal slowly, the hoods still covering their faces. They both bowed and waited upon the Emperors response. They did not have to wait long.

"I still have not heard your name Lady." Tal'Lal said dryly. His icy stare was almost as impressive as the Commonwealths Ambassadors. However, the woman seemed woefully unaffected by it based off of her laughter.

"You will have to pardon Amalainie, she is still upset with me. But the Ritual of Suicide was required. Had I been killed here while alive, the commonwealth could not have ignored it. Now they have no recourse but to ignore it."

The man beside her coughed and she sighed. Then pulled out a small UST military Pocket Digital Assistant and offered it to Carter. "This contains most of the information that we have discovered as well as what we have traced into UST territory. May I have your information Ambassador?"

Carter took it carefully, noting that it was in mint condition without blood stains or dents. He sighed internally when he realized what he was looking for. From his coat pocket he took out an Atheri belt comp and offered it back.


She took it and slid it into her robes without checking it. Then looked them both in the eyes. "Amalainie does not know of this. You will find under Contacts a number that may be used to contact me through the Embassy. It is unlisted and previously unused. Safe I hope for at least one call." She looked in the way Amalainie had gone. "It is time to go I think." In unison they turned and strode back to the doors, stepping into place just before the doors opened and the Ambassador swept back through and announced that her presence was required at the Embassy.

It was funny thought Carter. An angry woman was the same, whether on Earth or here. Somehow, the revelation did not surprise him.

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011 18:53 
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Carter had finished uploading the PDA data to the uplink to Earth some hours ago and had then pulled several of his TIA staff together and had begun reviewing it himself. It was all circumstantial evidence. Taken a piece at a time it could easily be dismissed and ignored, but together... The priestess was right, Earth had been framed.

What struck him was how complete the telemetry from the Graveship had been, there had had to have been a continuous uplink from the time it left Earth to when it was destroyed. It even had much of the UST communications recorded within it. They had almost every thing already that the UST could have provided. What was notable was what was missing, and what was added.

Several key UST communications were missing, including the last orders from Command telling Fredrick to destroy the unknown. Just as bad was the Graveship had recorded a totally different transponder signal then what the Escorts had picked up. It did not show the destruction of the unknown though. But then it wouldn't. The Graveship had died seconds before the unknown. One of his staffers had mentioned that the slight changes, if he had not known better, would have convinced him that the Honor Guard had deliberately allowed the unknown in.

It did not help that the heavily sterilized scanner data showed beings of human biology on board the Unknown. That was not something the UST would have been able to determine with any current technology that was available. It made him wonder what had been removed when they had given him this data set. And if that would have been useful for figuring out who had done this.

The Director of TIA had been fuming, as had the admiral with him. Someone had framed humanity, and then sic'd a highly advanced alien race on them with the intent to have humanity wiped out. It had almost succeeded, and it was remotely possible that it still could. Nobody knew what other deadly toys the Commonwealth had to use if it felt it was about to be destroyed. Most of the Xenologists believed that if the Numerians felt they were going to lose, they would pull out all the stops and Humanity would be the victim of a MAD scenario that only the most extreme holocaust movies even came close too. He knew that the UST had its own weapons it had safeguarded and would have released had the Numerians bombed Earth.

He sighed. His thoughts were blurry and just retreading the same paths. That happened when you had been up for another day and a half. Carter figured that the Priestess had been busy doing the same thing and was likely equally exhausted... He woke with a start realizing he had fallen asleep while data streamed by yet again on his screen. It was time for bed. Carter smiled wryly. He hoped that they would stop the calls long enough to let him get some sleep.

*****

she sighed as she shut down the comm. Aerobhin had already analyzed the data and found startling differences. He agreed with her, the data had been altered at the source. Once it had been received and archived, it had not been touched. That argued for something planned in advance, perhaps months or years in advance.

The possibility that the telemetry and scan data had been changed on the Graveship before it had been uploaded had not been something that they had considered before. At least it had given them a lead that they had not yet run into a wall with.

She sighed again in frustration. Glanced at the bed and then out into the garden. She had slept enough. It was time to see if the Forms would lend her some insight that had been missed.

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011 22:24 
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Jenny finished looking the data over yet again for a third time and leaned back into her chair. She knew this was not UST scanner data, it couldn't be. Furthermore it had large gaps where someone had obviously removed information. Really large gaps. And yet it even had tracking data on the sensor probes that had been launched continuously by both cruisers. It also had data on the Unkown ship that she knew the cruisers and the battleship could not have picked up. It showed tracking information a full ten minutes before the killer had even shown up on UST sensors.

She tapped a code into her comm and waited while it rang. Five minutes and 3 recalls later Chris picked up.

"Yes Jenny?", said Chris.

"Where did you get this?"

"Get what?", He sounded surprised.

"Don't play games with me, Chris. Who did you get this from? I'm serious!"

Chris's voice was quiet for a moment. "Let me come to you. I don't want any more of this spoken electronically."

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 17 Oct 2011 19:40 
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Gaiven had escorted his ward back to the courier and then returned to the Embassy under orders to continue to follow the leads that had been found, not only by the Atheri, but from the Human data as well. He knew he was intelligent, but he was better with data searches then with searches. Where to begin? He was forced to admit that he was not sure. Perhaps it was time to be a bit more inventive? Any further progress was likely to come from information that the followers of the ancient darkness had. That meant...

He stopped his brisk walk as he thought it over. There was one agent that he could confer with. The smile that spread across Gaiven's face was not inviting.

*****

Carter had been reviewing the data yet again when his office comm beeped and displayed an incoming call from SecState. He waved to kill the holofield he was looking at and taped a key to receive it.

A grainy image of ,,, appeared and said, "Carter, our forward fleets have been, we think, destroyed. We have lost all contact with them. Only 3rd Fleet managed to get out a warning before all contact was lost."

He nodded once and waited. There would be more.

"There is nothing left near the border to stop them except frieghters and a half completed forward naval base.", the caller took a deep breath. "You were right, they pulled out some new toys. God only knows what. The president needs you to open a dialog. Anything at this point."

Carter nodded again and waited.

"Carter, what is it?"

"You have my assessment of them and you know what the Atheri think. If we want to survive, we will have to prove our innocence. Prove that we were framed. Nothing short of that will stop this war. That and that alone is our only straw. They don't think like us, Brian, they see us as nothing short of a disease that must be killed at all cost." Carter emphasized by speaking slowly. "At. All. Cost. Even their extinction. No matter the cost to themselves they will take us out."

The SecState man sighed, "She is not there anymore, is she?"

"No, she was escorted to a courier several hours ago. If we find proof, we can contact her. But without it, there is little point. She has not the power to change anything, i think. At least not directly. I have the feeling that she is an emissary of a small group of individuals that suspect what has happened. What and who those Numerians are I don't know, but I think that some of them have contacts within the highest parts of their government. Likely within their senate, maybe within some of their Priestly orders.", Carter sighed. "I need TIA to get off of its ass and look through that data. Any lead at all may permit us to pull them into discussion. Or even cooperation. There is little more I can do here without help."

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 18 Oct 2011 00:30 
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"So basically the ball is in our court." It was a statement of fact that sounded depressed.

"The Atheri have offered the use of what they have available to help us chase down leads. And her guard has stayed. Likely looking for information on his own. It is not hopeless I think. If they believed that there was no chance, I don't think she or those who back her would have contacted us at all."

"This time is going to be bought in lives Carter. You know this."

"And some of my family is out there in uniforms on board our mobile targets, sir!", He snapped."I am will aware of what is going to be happening. But we don't have a choice do we? Get me the help Brian, or write us all off."

*****

Jenny and Chris sat in the Starfalls deserted rec room and pondered what they had seen in the holo tank. Conspiracy theorists would love this in twenty years, she thought. Maybe the Holier Then Thoughs had actually arranged for him to be bumped off. She reached forward and replayed the sensor recording again.

Seconds Passed in the holo field showing nothing. Blank space. Then energy readings clearly representing a Hyper gate being opened and closed. The estimated mass of the ship matched the Unknown closely, but then it was a civilian sensor on a passing freighter that had recorded it. It had been pulled from stored sensor logs that all civilian freighters had been required to keep and download at the end of their routes. It had saved the UST billions in resurvey costs over the years, especially in the more well traveled routes.

Chris spoke quietly, "We think the ship used a gravitic drive to get into position and then shut down and waited."

"We can't make gravitic drives. No one can but... CRAP!" she shouted. "The Draugir, i bet it's them!"

Chris raised his hands to calm her. "I agree, this kind of deception is just not within the Numerian racial mentality. We know the Draugir had a merchant marine presence with extensive ship making capability. It would be a relatively simple matter to get engines made and installed some place on what appeared to be a human-made ship. I also note that the Unknown suffered secondary explosions the we can't account for." His eyes never left hers.

She sat back down again as her mind furiously worked through what she had been told. Was it truly possible that the Draugir had framed humanity? But why? Why frame us for extinction? She just couldn't understand it.

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 24 Dec 2011 19:11 
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Jenny and Chris sat in the Starfalls deserted rec room and pondered what they had seen in the holo tank. Conspiracy theorists would love this in twenty years, she thought. Maybe the Holier Then Thoughs had actually arranged for him to be bumped off. She reached forward and replayed the sensor recording again.

Seconds Passed in the holo field showing nothing. Blank space. Then energy readings clearly representing a hyper gate being opened and closed. The estimated mass of the ship matched the Unknown closely, but then it was a civilian sensor on a passing freighter that had recorded it. It had been pulled from stored sensor logs that all civilian freighters had been required to keep and download at the end of their routes. It had saved the UST billions in resurvey costs over the years, especially in the more well traveled routes.

Chris spoke quietly, "We think the ship used a gravitic drive to get into position and then shut down and waited."

"We can't make gravitic drives. No one can but... CRAP!" she shouted. "The Draugir, I bet it's them!"

Chris raised his hands to calm her. "I agree, this kind of deception is just not within the Numerian racial mentality. We know the Draugir had a merchant marine presence with extensive ship making capability. It would be a relatively simple matter to get engines made and installed someplace on what appeared to be a human-made ship. I also note that the Unknown suffered secondary explosions the we can't account for." His eyes never left hers.

She sat back down again as her mind furiously worked through what she had been told. Was it truly possible that the Draugir had framed humanity? But why? Why frame us for extinction? She just couldn't understand it.

While Chris was watching Jenny work her way through the new information, his phone vibrated. He pulled it out of a breast pocket and glaced at the caller ID. The fact that it said PRIVATE surprised him. Only 2 dozen or so numbers would not be picked up correctly. That made this a call he had to take. "Chris here."

"Mr. Coleman, How are you doing this fine morning!? Walther said, with that ubiquitious tinkling laughter of his.

"Walther, where in the hell have you been?"

"Oh, strolling down the street, having a chat with an old firend of mine. You may know him, he is the Numie who just made three Terran fleets magically disappear."

Chris went pale, "how did you know about that?"

Walther just laughed, "Chris, Chris, Chris, I have my ways, and you have your ways. "

Yeah, that was Walther, frustrating as always. Chris sighed as he realized Jenny had heard it all. Dammit, did it really matter? No. No it did not, she would find out most of it anyways. She almost always did. "Do you know anything about a contact from their government passing us log data from their Graveship? Can you tell me if its valid or are they leading us on?" He was pretty sure of the answer, but he had to check.

"you know, my friend, I may know a thing or two about what you ask. Are you sure you wish to hear what I have to say? It is not nice things, and may offend those with sensitive constitutions," Walther said with a chuckle.

"For the first time in 5 plus years we have even had a response of any kind? Yeah, we need to know if anything can be made of it. We have got to know if there is a chance, any chance at all." He breathed once and continued, "Or is your friend coming for us all?"

"First off, I must tip my hat to the Terran Military, they have done something no living species has been able to do in over 50,000 years, invade Numerian space. But, that in and of itself is part of the problem." Walther said with a sigh.

"By wiping out their reserve and border fleets, then invading their space, you have managed to take the human race from mere nuisance to clear and present danger. Now the Numerians realize the error of their assumptions against humanity, and have now taken out the big toys, the one they fling at the really bad guys. You may know them as the Draugir and their masters, the Nephilim. Those fleets that disappeared were hit by what they consider secondary weapons, and not very effective against their real enemies."

Chris paled while Jenny watched him. Secondary weapons? What were they using before? He thought.

Walther's voice became hard as steel. "I hope you can understand what I am saying Chris, by wiping out their fleet and invading their space, they have turned their first line fleets against humanity. And with that turn of events, so-to-speak, we have no hope, they WILL make us go bye-bye."

"Unless, we can find the bad guys who are doing this."

His voice was shaky as he spoke. "The priestess that gave us this information, is she serious? Can she be trusted? Do you know what they gave us?"

Walther just chuckled, "you might say that. She is on their ruling Council, the Sanei. So, yes she is serious." Walther thought a moment on what sort of data he should give Chris. What Aerobhin had told him had chilled him to the bone.
"What they gave us was their telemetry data, and why they consider us as lower than pondscum. Some of them are suspicious of the readings, but without the data Ambassador Carter provided, it would have gone nowhere. The current leader of the warfleet is convinced we have been setup. But without an order from the Sanei he cannot stop killing us." Walther paused for a moment to let that sink in."And for that order to come, we MUST provide concrete data as to who the real culprit was. It cannot be manufactured, they would know. So, unless you wish to say good night Irene to the whole Human Race, we have to find that data and link it to the real bad guys. I have a few contacts around the galaxy, and I can assemble a team to go looking for it. Aerobhin said he would provide a 'guide', unwilling one that is, to guide us through Commonwealth territory, if we need to pass through."

"How would they know? Walther, while we are looking they will be killing billions of Humans. Anything that we can do to slow them down..." He faltered.

"Chris, their technology is as far above us as ours is over the Neanderthals. What we have been fighting so far would be the equivalent to our police forces from the various states. Thats it. You have not seen their real fleet.. And trust me, you do not want to.Those dead fleets will attest to that. Oh, and by the way, what killed those fleets were black hole generating missiles."

"Think on that."

"As for killing billions of humans, do you care how many billions of germs you kill by disenfecting a sponge? They care about as much. For we are a germ, a disease to be rid of."

"Walther, when are they coming?" Chris said quietly.

"They are on their way. Only at a slow pace. Aerobhin can only slow the advance so much without being removed. And this time, there will be no human left alive behind the lines. All human inhabited planets are to be sterilized of life, then resewn with life once again. This time they are taking no chances."

"We don't have many civilians left alive between here and the border, but the Romans do. They have no way to evacuate their planets. Except maybe the first few. No one has that shipping available." He sighed. "Is there anything we can do to reduce losses? Other then not be there when they arrive?"

"Nothing. Except get out of their way. The only hope we have is to find the ones who set us up. And I have an idea where to start. I will need Ambassador Carter, and Col Nakamoura with me on this lil' expedition. We will have one Numerian with us, his name is Gaiven. And I suggest we do not piss him off. He is plenty mad that his boss sent him to work with us Par'Mali, or disease in Numie. So he is a bit touchy."

"I will get them immediately. Where do you need them to pick them up?"

"Yesterday?" Walther said with a snicker. Have them ready at our embassy on Atheros by 0800 tomorrow morning. Then we shall enter the valley of the shadow, Draugir territory."


*****

Gaiven went to his knee, head bowed, as his mentor appeared within the holo field. "Lasoain'Damen." He said said with respect.

"Lasoain Gaiven, I see you have met with some success."

"Yes Lasoain'Damen, the darkness saw fit to attempt us harm again last night while we moved upon what we felt to be a safe house. Sufficient captives and information was aquired to lead me to believe the Atheri will continue to provide satisfaction with this matter. I no longer see a use for myself here." He was, he admitted, feeling good about right now.

A chuckle came forth from the field. "We are in agreement then. I have a far more pressing matter that needs your attention. You will be assigned to General Walther Essex of the Council of Twelve."

"Teacher, surely my services can be better used elsewhere?" He said, his voice raise in shock and protest.

"No, your skill set and experiences match you better for this mission then any other save one, and she is unavailable." Aerobhin spoke levely, without a change in tone.

Gaiven realized he had raised his voice and flushed in shame. The disrespect he had just shown to one he honored almost above all others... And his master had continued speaking, not even acknowledging the disrespect! He realized he had offended Aerobhin badly.

His Masters voice continued. "You will end up working with a Maideri infiltration team in Draugir space..."

Gaivens head popped up and he raised his voice this time in horror, "Maideri! No Teacher, you would ask this of ME? To work with Par'Mali?! In what way have I offended to warrant such, such disgrace?"

Aerobhin's response was simple, he merely met Gaivens gaze and quietly waited.

Gaiven stood there for seconds, vibrating between anger and aghast at his own outburst, until he suddenly hung his head in shame yet again and said, "Forgive me, I have offended." He realized his voice showed his strain and his anguish.

Again silence reined from the projector, until Gaiven heard Aerobhin take a deep breath before speaking. "This must needs be done, my student. If you are to continue in my tutelage, I will hear no further objections." His master's voice came across flatly, some irritation showing at last.

"I... I ...", was all he could say. Gaiven realized he was shaking. That was unacceptable! He was warrior trained, to lose disipline in front of his teacher like this was simply unworthy of him! It took what felt like eternity to bring himself back under control. "As you require, Lasoain'Damen." Zhorll! his voice still was unsteady!

There was but a short pause before Aerobhins voice replied, "Study again what we gave the Maideri, Gaiven, and what they gave us. That is your requirement before you sleep this night. Additional orders will be forthcoming shortly defining your objective. You have been assigned to assist General Walther Essex of the Council of Twelve in his efforts to find this evidence of murder that I require."

"Yes, Lasoain'Damen." he said in a near whisper. It was the best he could do and keep his voice steady.

"I always place you where you are needed, never doubt it. Until we meet again." Aerobhin's voice came across almost gently.

Aerbhin broke the link with his student and turned to Walther. "I ask a promise my friend."

"Anything bud, what do you need?"

"I know my student has promise, but his, how do you humans put it, Ah, yes, pride overfloweth his cup. I would ask that you would provide him with a lesson in humility." Aerobhin glanced back at the screen. "A serious lesson."

Walther snickered at the request, "By all means my friend, and I know someone who would love to provide the lesson." He smiling a knowing smile.

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 Post subject: Re: Kens reading Enjoyment!
PostPosted: 28 Dec 2011 21:23 
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Gaiven approached the little civilian jumper field with a stride of aggravation. He could understand not being picked up at a major spaceport, but this place was almost antiquated to the point of scary. There were actual open air buildings constructed of cloth and poles with occasional tramp freighters parked here and there. He was actually at a loss as to how to describe it.

It was with mixed relief and irritation that he spotted the characteristic shape of a Council ship parked towards the edge near the still open runway.

It was time to prove himself, he thought. He would do this and
make his teacher proud. It was not long before he spotted the
General, the human Ambassador and a human female he did not
know under a cook tent by the council ship.

Gaiven stood there for several seconds deciding yet again if dealing with such was worth his teachings, before taking the plunge and walking at a measured pace towards them.

Carter spotted the large man first. "There he is, and he does not look happy."

Jenny glanced at Gaiven before turning back to them and muttered, "Gee, they sent us a seven foot child with a gun. I am so scared."

With but a sentence Gaiven went from controlled calm to a
thunderstorm brow, "General Essex, control your female, before she gets into trouble.", he said in what he thought was a firm tone.

Walther just laughed out loud. "She's not my female, and she
can take care of herself." All the while thinking, 'this is gonna be good.'

"Ha! A human female? Nonsense, they cannot..." And before he
could finish his sentence Gaiven found himself looking up in the sky, laying on his back wondering how he got there.

"Do not badmouth me, you holier-than-thou turd."

"The female has skills, all the better." Gaiven said as he got
up and prepared to do battle.

Carter looked over at Walther and said, "should we break it up?"

"Gaiven, it may interest you, but Ms. Nakamoura," Walther paused when Jenny gave him the cold eye for not using her proper name, "I'm sorry Jenny, Mr.s Dugan, was one of the Terrans who fought on Endros near the end of the Denevan war. Take that information as you will."

Walther noticed the subtle changes in Gaiven's body language,
something most humans could not do, as he contemplated her
surviving that hell on Numeria fight.

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