Journey to a Dead Star

Chapter 18

Mr. Taylor raised his hand in a gesture of friendship and spoke. “Commander Metak, I bring you greetings from the Solar Alliance based on the third plant of the system in this sector known by it’s inhabitant’s as Sol

Metak, appearing irritated, said, “ I know where you are from. We have been following you since you left your insignificant little planet. Fortunately for my crew, we have many diversions to fill the time with. What slow and awkward ships you have!”

Taylor attempted to apologize. “I am sorry for boring your crew, Commander. But what interest could our mission be to a great space faring race such as yours?”

Metak flew into a rage. Shouting in a language that was incomprehensible to the crew of the Polaris, he again began speaking into the small device.

Suddenly, Tom realized that the device was a translator and he watched closely and noticed that the mouth movements did not perfectly coincide with the speech being presented. He was amazed at the quickness of the translation and also of the ability of the device to project the emotion and inflection of the speaker toward the listeners.

“As of this moment, both of your ships and your crews are under arrest. Your ships will be boarded and seized. Do not make any attempt to resist. It would be ..... unwise.”

Captain Takao became enraged and jumped in front of Mr. Taylor. “Under what authority do you dare assume to arrest my crew?”

Steve didn’t like what he was hearing. “Tom! Prepare the space torpedoes and charge the atomic cannons! Alfie! Give us a bearing on that ship! Astro! Prepare for fast maneuvering!”

All three cadets responded with “Aye!” as they were given their orders. Alfie was a little perplexed as he tried to pick a spot to shoot at. “Captain.”, he said, “This thing is so big that you couldn’t miss it, but here’s the coordinates for the center of it. I just wish we could be a little farther away when the Warheads go off!”

Metak took on an a look of haughtiness. He crossed his arms and jutted out his lower jaw. “I need no other authority than my own!

Hiroshi was about to let go with another tirade when Mr. Taylor stepped in front of him and spread his arms as if he had stepped between a pair of school yard rivals willing to fight out their differences.

Taylor stepped close to the camera and looked directly into it. “Commander Metak, do you know who I am?”

Metak closely examined the image on his view screen. Finally he said, “No! Nor do I care who you are! Now prepare to be boarded.”

Taylor stepped back from the camera and removed the bulky cloak that he had been wearing. He then removed the skull cap which revealed a pair of pointed ears, much like those of Metak. He then scraped away false eyebrows and coverings that had hidden his natural, angular facial features. Metak stared into the monitor and exclaimed, “This is a trick! I protest your presence!”

Taylor serenely stood before the camera and spoke as the awestruck crews of all three ships listened to every word that he spoke.

“I am Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan. You know me and you know from whence I derive my authority. My authority is absolute in this matter. Commander Metak, you will direct your scans to the edge of the dust cloud.”

Alfie also rotated his radar scanners toward the edge of the debris field and was amazed to see four more ships appear from under the dust. “Captain Strong! There are four more large ships that have been hidden underneath the dust cloud. They are approaching at almost light speed!”

“Good work, Alfie. I don’t think we need to be concerned about them. Tom, stand down the weapons. I have a feeling that we won’t need them... today.”

Metak watched as the four ships quickly took up positions surrounding the present gathering. “Again, Ambassador, I protest this action!”

In a calm manner, Sarek responded, It is I who protests your action against these ships and their crews.”

“I protest your interference that almost cost several men their lives.”

“I protest the invasion and claim on a sovereign government’s inherent right to develop space travel.”

“I protest your assessment of this system’s jurisdiction.”

“I protest your incursion attempts on Sol’s homeworlds.”

“Most of all. I protest your claim of being from the Mother Race!”

Sarek turned his back to Metak and withdrew farther from the camera so that it could pick up his entire form. Quickly turning back to face Metak he asked, “Do you challenge me?”

Metak knew that he had neither the legal or tactical ability to intimidate Sarek. He was out classed in every way possible. After a minute of thought, Metak decided to save himself and his crew from further humiliation. “Ambassador, it appears as if I may have misinterpreted the mission of the Earthlings. As a gesture of good will, I will withdraw my ship from this system.”

Ambassador Sarek gazed toward the camera and announced, “Commander Metak, I have no wish to provoke yourself or your crew. You will be given an escort by one of my ships until you reach the boundaries of your home space. If your mission was instituted by your superiors, then I have a message for them.”

Sarek contemplated for a moment and then spoke, “Please inform your superiors that Vulcan and othershave been in contact with the Solar Alliance for many years. We have helped them establish and define their home space and we are in negotiations to help them enter into the family of spacefaring systems. These humans are a good people and they have the innate desire to explore and learn. These are the qualities that quickly move a people from being infants among the stars to giants within the galaxy. Now, go in peace and when you return, I suggest that you return in peace.”

Metak dropped his translator and angrily shouted orders to his crew. The signal from the intruder ship abruptly ended and the Polaris crew ran to the viewports. The intruder ship smoothly rotated and veered away from the gathered fleet. One of the angular shaped Vulcan ships followed the intruder until both ship’s lights were lost among the stars.

Alfie climbed down from the radar deck and Astro climbed up from the power deck. Polaris’ assembled crew could only look at each other for a few seconds. Alfie was visibly shaken and held on to a ladder rung to steady himself. “C C C Captain!”, he stuttered, “Was what we just witnessed for real?”

The young officer turned away from the viewport and grimly nodded his head. “Yes, boys, it was for real. I really didn’t think that you would learn of Mr. Tay... er, Ambassador Sarek’s identity until much later. I only found out about it in the privacy of Doctor Dale’s ward room a few weeks ago. Believe me, it’s been a difficult secret to keep.”

Alfie had a sudden revelation. “Sir, Ambassador Sarek said that he was a Vulcan. One of our cruisers is named Vulcan! Is there any connection?”

Steve shook his head. “No, Alfie. I’m afraid not. Our name Vulcan is derived from ancient mythology. Sarek’s home world does have a complex mythos of it’s own, but the names and pronunciation are just coincidence.”

Astro jumped up from the conduit he was sitting on. “Skipper, who was that bag of space gas that the Ambassador shot out of the way?”

“I really don’t know, Astro. It’s obvious that they have been playing with us since we left Luna Base. Since they had a henchman involved in trying to get information on this mission, it’s obvious that they at least have an interest in us. And... considering their actions, they may even fear us for some unknown reason.”

“Yeah? Well... I don’t know why! We haven’t done anything to them... have we?”

“No, Astro, we haven’t. But, Doctor Dale says that they are a warrior race and warriors distrust anything or anyone that they don’t understand.”

The big Venusian stared into the viewport for a second and then asked, “How did Doctor Dale know about these... warriors?

“From Professor Grayson.”

“And how did she know?”

“From Ambassador Sarek.”

“Holy Lunar Craters!”, shouted Astro, “It always comes back to him!”

Tom looked up from his instruments and said, “It appears that the Solar Alliance is deeply indebted to Ambassador Sarek for a large amount of information, Captain.”

Steve grinned slightly and said, “I have a feeling that we have an obligation to Sarek and the others that he mentioned that will take centuries to appreciate.”

The radio monitor signaled an incoming message. Steve switched on the monitor and beheld the faces of Doctor Dale and Sarek. Joan spoke first. “Captain, we have decided that we shall continue our return home. Ambassador Sarek has kindly offered to provide us with escort, so we need not proceed in formation. Proceed at will to the hyperspace injection point and make the jump. There is one change in our return plans. We will be making a rendezvous with the cruiser Halley at the coordinates being sent to you now. Once we have joined with Halley, you will be given further instructions.”

Sarek looked into the camera and asked, “Captain, is Cadet Corbett available?”

Surprised, Tom looked at the monitor and answered, “Yes, Sir. I am here.”

Sarek’s wise features filled the screen of the televiewer as he spoke. “Cadet, your treatise on the aggressor’s method of camouflage was very thoughtful. In fact, as far as our knowledge of their system goes, it seems to be quite accurate. In as much as I have a certain authority to provide information on the development of human initiatives, I have recommended that your thesis be presented to the Solar Council for further disposition. Well done, Cadet.”

Tom was at once embarrassed and grateful for the praise given to him by Sarek.

“Thank you Ambassador”, was all he could say.

“Cadet, it is your people who will be thanking you. Good day Captain, Cadets.”

The teleceiver viewer dimmed and left everyone on the Polaris’ deck speechless. Astro slapped Tom on the back and said, “Well, pretty boy, it looks like you’re some kind of hero. What gives?”

Tom fiddled with a strap on the acceleration chair and meekly said, “Oh, I just sent him my theory about why we couldn’t see the intruder. With the evidence we had, I surmised that there must be an electronically generated field around the ship that caused light and radio waves to be bent around the ship. That’s why our radar couldn’t see it. But light passing around the ship and being observed by us was slightly refracted causing a sight distortion in the background that could occasionally be observed. Depending on the degree of diffraction, and the angle, we could see double images at the edge of the ship. That’s what I noticed on that photo of the crash site when I accidentally captured the intruder ship spying on us during the rescue.”

“Son of a blaster!, shouted Astro, “How do they do that?”

Alfie jumped in. “The ambassador probably knows!”

“I don’t think so, Alfie.”, stated Tom. “If the Vulcans were privy to this technology, then their ships wouldn’t have had to use the dust ring of the star to hide themselves.”

“We can discuss this in detail later, boys.”, said Steve. “Now let’s go home and meet with the Halley!”

The relatively tiny Polaris and the huge, angular, escort ship began moving faster and faster toward a rendezvous with the Solar Alliance’s destiny.
End Chapter - 18

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Copyright 1998 by Jack McKirgan II