The Cimalian Princess: Clone
by AJ Marks
Randy walked back to the bridge knowing the Sunray would be reporting in. He had taken off to grab a drink and now headed back to see what the situation was. Would the Sunray need more time, or would the repairs be finished.
He looked around spotting everyone still hard at work. He spotted Kim and made his way over to her.
“Communications contact,” Hans said before Randy could say anything to Kim. He glanced over to see what was going on along with Kim.
“Can we decode it?” Randy asked, wondering who was sending messages here.
“Working on it admiral,” Hans said quickly. Randy went over pondering a message back to HQ on what they had found.
The fact they intercepted a message meant very little without knowing the group the signal came from. Seconds later the report came back it seemed to be Cimalian in nature. Randy realized that either the Cimalian government or military was nearby, but which. The other question that came to him was the message instructions, or regular reports?
“Do we have any idea what’s in the message or its origin?” Randy asked. It might help him understand a bit better what the situation is around the fleet. He watched Hans work on the message for several seconds.
“Just a second,” Hans replied back to him, focused entirely on the screen in front of him.
“Does this change our mission?” Kim asked, turning to look at Randy.
“Nope, might confirm why we’re out here, and why we should be on guard. The message could be a trap, or they don’t realize we’re here,” Randy said, going over all the possible outcomes in his mind.
“Patrols reporting in admiral,” Aaron said interrupting Randy’s thoughts. “So far nothing’s been spotted in any sector.”
“Good, have the patrols finish their scans and put the 212 on CAP for now,” Randy said to them. He watched as they carried out the orders.
“Incoming message from Captain Alterin,” Hans said.
“Transfer it to my console,” Randy ordered, waiting a second until Jacob’s face appeared on the screen. “Captain, what’s the situation?”
“Admiral, we lost primary cooling in the hyperspace engines, we won’t be able to maintain hyperspace for more than twenty minutes at a time,” Jacob replied back, giving Randy the bad news.
“I understand,” Randy said, knowing that now he was down a ship in the fleet. “We’ll wait here until you can start making your jumps back to Alliance space, I’ll also send word back about your situation so they can be on the lookout for you.”
“Sorry about that,” Jacob said.
“Don’t worry about it, at least you didn’t explode in hyperspace, and take care going back,” Randy said to him. “Mechanical problems happen all the time.”
“Well, we just have an overhaul,” Jacob said.
Randy did not like what he heard from Jacob. If the Sunray had recently been overhauled then there could be the accusation that there is a traitor in the docks, or someone who did not do their jobs. He hoped it was the latter, but could not rule out the former thought. Another thought was someone aboard the Sunray was a traitor.
“Captain, be careful going back home, if what you say is true, there are a couple of possibilities, including sabotage by a spy on board the Sunray,” Randy said to him. “This is for your ears only, we intercepted a message, could be Cimalian in origin and could have been meant for that person. The timing seems almost too perfect.”
“I see,” Jacob said, suddenly very interested. “I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for anything unusual on board, perhaps heighten security without people realizing it.”
“I know you will,” Randy said to him, knowing how much Jacob took security.
“When we’re ready to move out I’ll contact you again,” Jacob said.
Randy watched as the screen went dark. The news could have been worse, but still bad enough. They had evidence they were headed towards Cimalian territory and was now down a ship. “Aaron, inform all ships to inspect all engines for sabotage, including ours.”
“Yes sir,’ Aaron replied, heading over to the communications to relay the order.
“I’ll be in my office,” Randy said heading to the doorway before pausing. “Oh, have Meia report to my office when she lands,” he ordered. He went back to his office to send a very encrypted message to his father to tell him about possible saboteurs in the repair yards, or more. He also wanted to talk to Meia and gain her perspective of what happened. She might see something he did not, especially when it came to the Cimalian Empire.
Meia’s fighter landed softly on the hangar deck. She waited a few seconds for the clamps to reach out and capture her fighter. Once secure it brought the fighter up to the main hangar deck and through the airlock doors. She spotted Ben and Jean waiting for her as she climbed out of the fighter.
“Admiral White wants to see you right away in his office,” Ben told her. “Not sure what it’s about, but the bridge said it was important.”
Meia sighed having a feeling he wanted to talk about the defenses that might be around Cimalia once more. She headed to the elevators knowing she did not know what the defenses might be. They moved to a new planet so the old defenses had been changed.
She quickly headed to Randy’s office. She stopped at the door and paused before knocking. She waited for Randy to tell her to enter. He sat behind his desk reading a report as she walked in, standing at attention.
“Have a seat, you know that,” Randy said.
Meia said nothing as she sat, years of training were not easily changed. Even now she still feared a punishment despite knowing the Alliance did not do such things.
“You have a good patrol?” Randy asked finally looking up.
“Didn’t find anything, that’s good news,” Meia replied.
“Yeah,” Randy replied, pausing before saying anything else. “I know we’ve been over this a bit, but we found a signal which we think is Cimalian in origin, possibly to someone in the fleet. The Sunray is turning back due to mechanical failure. Don’t know if its sabotage or a bad part.”
Meia listened in not aware of what had happened. The Signal disturbed her. It meant the empire could reach anywhere, especially if the Sunray was sabotaged.
“I didn’t want to ask you anymore questions about the Cimalian Empire, but we might be encountering them in the next jump. I want to know if such messages are typical of how the Cimalian Empire acts?” Randy asked.
Meia gave it some serious consideration for a few seconds before saying anything. Things were changing fast once again. She realized she did not know much about the procedures. “Sorry, but I was only a pilot for the fleet, not a strategist. The admiral or captain would come to me and say this is my objective, get it done or else.”
“I thought so, but you never know,” Randy replied. “Any idea about enemy fleet strengths?”
“They had a fleet strength of fourteen battle-cruisers, but I don’t know about smaller ships,” Meia finally said.
“Fourteen,” Randy said, pausing to think about the number for a few seconds. “Let’s see, we destroyed one at Pacifica, two each at Hesslius and Sierra, so they have about nine.”
“The fleet is generally divided into three attack fleets, an invasion fleet, and a reserve fleet,” Meia said, she knew that because she was part of the 3rd CF.
“So, basically five fleets,” Randy said. “That’s about two battle-cruisers per fleet. Any idea which fleet they would leave behind to protect the homeworld?”
“During the invasion only the reserve fleet was for defense. The others were invading the Alliance,” Meia stated.
“All or nothing, interesting tactic,” Randy said.
“However, with the failure of the invasion they would have all ships ready to protect homeworld,” Meia finally said. It was a truth she saw that Randy knew about.
“That’s what I thought. So, we’ll have to be careful in our approach,” Randy said. Meia watched as he leaned back into his chair deep in thought. He then looked back at her and they stared at each other for several seconds before he finally said something. “You look different from when I first saw you.”
Meia laughed a bit at that. “Well, my hair is longer.”
“No, it’s more, you look more relaxed,” Randy replied back to her.
Meia gave it some thought before replying back at him. he was probably right, especially after everything. She no longer jumped at doing something wrong. “I guess knowing I can make a mistake and not get punished for it is a bit relaxing.”
“We do have our laws, but you’re right,” Randy said. “I don’t see how anything gets done in such an environment which only spreads fear and discontent.”
“Fear is a great motivator,” Meia said.
“I know, but it can push people only so far before they revolt,” Randy stated.
“The lower classes also have the threat of death hanging over them at all times. So if you do something wrong to many times, or make too much noise you’re eliminated,” Meia said, something she had seen too many times.
“It would take something extreme to do that here,” Randy said, he started to say something else when a call from the bridge interrupted their discussion.
“Admiral, the Sunray reports their engines are ready to jump,” Kim said.
“Be right there,” Randy said to her. “We’ll have to talk later.”
Meia nodded and got up with him and headed to the door as they stopped at the door.
“After this is over how about a nice romantic dinner, my treat?” he asked her.
Meia stood rooted to the spot at the question Randy asked her. She never expected such a question coming from him, or perhaps she should have expected it. She felt torn between accepting and running away. “Sounds nice,” she finally said after a few seconds of silence.
“Good,” Randy said, heading though the door. Meia turned and headed to the rec room while Randy went to the bridge.
Emperor, we received this report from a scanning outpost,” Jezic said walking up to the emperor. He no longer had any idea what to expect from the man after he ordered all fleets to leave Cimalian space. He strongly disagreed with the decision, it left the planet defenseless. He also knew he might be an Alpha citizen, but he was not above the emperor.
Jezic handed the report over as henry motioned for it and waited as he read the paper. “Hmm, yes I see, and anything else from our inquiry from our spies?”
“It appears that Meia is with them,” Jezic replied, forcing the name out.
“Excellent,” Henry said actually smiling at the news. Jezic never expected to see the smile. He considered Meia a traitor and the greatest threat to the empire and yet Henry was happy at the news.
“Sire, if I may,” Jezic said, hesitating. He did not want to anger the emperor. “Isn’t it dangerous to allow Meia to come here? She is a huge threat.”
“Threat or not, it is her destiny, like mine is to conquer the Alliance once and for all,” Henry said, giving a slight chuckle. “Relax Jezic, I always have a plan, here.”
Jezic looked down at the notepad Henry thrust into his hands. He glanced down and quickly read the notes before looking back up wondering if the emperor had finally gone insane, or was a brilliant genius. The line blurred and only time would show the difference.
“You realize the risk to the empire?” Jezic said, knowing questioning the emperor could have devastating effects for his career.
“Risk is in everything, one must be willing to risk everything to achieve their goal, and that is what I will do,” Henry said to him. “Besides, I have a few tricks hidden that I can use if things go out of control.”
Jezic was not sure how to reply to that statement. The emperor sounded confident, but battle taught him no plan ever remained intact all the way through. Was the emperor’s plan flexible enough to survive problems?
“Are you sure about this?” he finally asked.
“Yes, I want all commands to know, and admiral when you’re done come back, I have something I want to show you,” the emperor said.
“By your will sire,” Jezic said, turning to carry out the order. He could only hope the emperor knew what he was doing. If it was up to him Meia would already be dead. Of course now he had the opportunity to do it himself.
End part 5