The Cimalian Princess: Clone
by AJ Marks
Meia listened to the rumble of the Akagi’s engines as the pitch went down indicating the ship would be dropping out of hyperspace and into normal space soon. The lighting changed to the reddish hue indicating the ship had gone to red alert.
No one panicked at the sound and instead people went to their battlestations. She made her way to the hanger hooking up with other pilots as they made their way to their fighters, waiting to hear if they needed to launch or not.
“Here you go little one,” Ben said, handing her the interface helmet for her to put on.
Meia thanked him and watched the computer come to life. Making a few adjustments she waited for the order to launch. The seconds ticked by dragging into minutes. With each passing second she felt more uneasy about the situation.
“Patrol one, launch, proceed on tight patrol around the fleet,” the launch operator said.
Meia heard the patrol respond but so far nothing came to her squadron about launching for CAP or anything else. She understood the preference to not have too many ships out in case ships of the empire showed up. Now the waiting game started, something she never enjoyed.
“Meia report to the bridge.”
She sighed a bit before powering down the fighter. Opening the canopy she handed the helmet back to Ben who stood nearby before she jumped out of the fighter and made her way towards the elevators.
The red alert lights still illuminated the interior of the ship as she walked towards the bridge. She figured the rest of the fleet was also on alert as Randy would take no chances on being caught by surprise. The empire might be close by and every indication gave the impression they were headed towards it.
Entering the bridge she noticed the lack of normal noise, and how everyone was quickly doing their duties. The silence made her pause for a second and so unlike during battle when it was very noisy. Squaring her shoulders she made her way into the brigde.
“You wanted to see me admiral,” Meia said quietly.
“Yeah,” Randy said taking a second before looking up at her. “What do you make of this?”
Meia walked over to his screen and glanced down. IT showed a single habitable planet but no sign of empire ships.
“Admiral, scanner and patrol sweeps indicate nothing nearby” Kim’s voice said.
“Thanks,” Randy said, returning his attention back on her. “I need a plan now.”
Meia felt uncomfortable making any suggestions or even a plan on this scale. “I’m not sure, do we know the planet is inhabited at all?”
“The patrol is on the way to find out,” Randy replied. “Until we know for sure, I need backup plans. Nothing is off limits.”
“Let’s investigate the planet, send someone down there,” Aaron said surprising Meia.
“Possible,” Randy replied, giving it some thought. “Though if it is the Cimalian Empire most of us would not fit in.”
Meia noticed that with that statement he looked over at her. True she knew the social politics of the empire, and could fit in a bit with the lower classes. But to know anything she had to be part of the higher classes.
“I suggest another person besides her,” Aaron said finally.
Meia watched as Aaron and Randy glared at each other. She had the feeling she missed something between the two of them. Did Aaron not trust her? She knew only a bit about the man from John and her few times meeting him on the bridge. John said Aaron lost his parents in the invasion of Dredius.
“The fewer the better,” Meia finally said breaking the stare down. “Perhaps a total of two people, like Victor. He knows the most about the empires society and would probably be less likely to be caught.”
She watched Randy think about that for a few seconds before making a decision. “All right, if it turns out to be a Cimalian planet well attempt to infiltrate it. Go let Victor know of this new mission.”
“I will,” Meia answered, leaving the bridge and heading back to the hanger. Now she felt both fear and excitement over what might happen. She would have a chance to learn more about the past, and the fear of who she might have to confront to get that truth.
Henry watched Jezic make his way back into the office. The recent reports indicated the Alliance fleet made another jump and would probably appear close by. That news had been an hour ago enough time to make the jump closer to Cimalius II.
“Report admiral,” Henry ordered, waiting as the admiral bowed before giving the report.
“Long range planet scanners indicate an Alliance fleet dropped out of hyperspace. One Ticonderoga class battle-cruiser, a Gearing class destroyer and one unknown ship, probably a cruiser class, have been identified,” Jezic reported.
“I see,” Henry said, knowing the planet did not have much to fear from the actual fighting power of the Alliance fleet. The only real question in his mind dealt with Meia and if she was on board one of those ships. “Are all orders being followed?”
“Yes sire,” Jezic replied with some hesitation, their arguments over the fact Cimalius II was undefended still fresh in both their minds.
“Good,” Henry replied leaning back into his chair. He would wait to see what the Alliance commander’s next move would be before he did anything. “And the 3rd CF?”
“Admiral Ammari is awaiting your orders,” Jezic replied.
Henry nodded his head knowing that so far everything appeared to be going as planned. He needed to capture Meia gain for the survival of the Empire. He had been too lax in ordering her killed.
“If any shuttles are launched towards the planet allow them to land,” he ordered Jezic, knowing the admiral would not understand that order and held up a hand forestalling any protest. “A single shuttle will not have the manpower to destroy the empire, besides anyone exiting that shuttle will never return the Alliance alive.”
He watched as Jezic paused to think about that for a few seconds. “But sire, won’t that cause the Alliance fleet to leave and return with a larger fleet?”
“I see you have no sense of how the Alliance truly operates. They won’t being a larger fleet here because the population of the Alliance will not consider one planet a threat to them. And I never said the Alliance fleet would make it back to Alliance space,” Henry told him. He noticed Jezic come to a realization.
“The 1st CF!”
“Exactly,” Henry said smiling.
“Shall I inform Admiral Wambu about this?”
“Go ahead, but the next move will be by the Alliance commander, after that it will be our move,” Henry said.
“By your will emperor,” Jezic said, bowing and leaving to carry out the order.
Henry pushed the button to his secretary. “Send in Gerald.”
He waited for Gerald to enter knowing the pieces were almost set, all he need was a mouse to catch.
Randy waited a bit longer to hear from the patrol he sent closer to the planet. He hoped to gain some information about who colonized it, if anyone. There were still many unreported colonies of humanity when they left Earth over a thousand years ago and this could be one of them.
He looked over at Randy, watching his actions. He seemed to have back down a bit on Meia and more to do with how the crew treated him afterwards than anything Randy said. He hoped he gave Meia a chance, the last thing he wanted was internal strife.
“Admiral, incoming message from the patrol,” Hans said to him.
“Put it through,” Randy said, hearing John’s voice.
“Skipper, I’m sending back some information for you to go over. Not sure, but from the layout either it’s the Cimalian homeowrld or a colony,” John told him.
“Thanks,” Randy said, watching as the information came across the screen. He looked it over a bit before making up his mind. “Have Meia and victor report to the admiral’s conference room.”
He motioned for Kim to follow as the orders were relayed down to the hanger. They made their way to the conference room where they would go over the newest information and he felt he would be signing off on a potentially dangerous mission for everyone.
Sitting down in the conference room he waited as the computer brought up the information. He looked at it for several seconds before Meia and Victor entered the room. They sat down in silence before Randy turned to them.
“We either have the Cimalian homeworld or a colony,” Randy said to them.
“The empire has no colonies, or at least they didn’t before the invasion,” Meia replied back to them.
“Could they have spread themselves out after the invasion?” Randy asked, thinking logically. “But either way we need to find out.”
“You want someone to head down to the planet’s surface?” Victor said.
“I’d like you and Meia to do it,” Randy said, knowing what he was asking of Meia. “Provided Meia believes this is a Cimalian plent.”
With that he activated the screen bringing up the information from John. He watched Meia look it over for several second before her head jerked up at one spot.
“Anything wrong?” he asked her.
“The Emperor is here, it has to be the homeworld,” Meia replied back.
“You sure?” Randy asked, wanting conformation.
“Very, we’re looking at the new homeworld of the empire,” Meia stated with conviction.
“Are you willing to go?” Randy asked. He needed to make sure Meia felt fine with the mission as everything hung on her ability to pull it off.
She thought about it for several seconds before finally replying. “Yeah, we need the information.”
“Good, begin your preparations,” Randy stated preparing to stand up.
“Uh, one thing admiral,” Kim said speaking up. “I think we’ve gotten used to it, but won’t Meia’s hair stand out?”
Randy almost smacked his forehead at his lack of foresight. He now had a problem, could they proceed with the mission? He looked over at Meia who appeared thoughtful. “Would your hair color be a problem?”
“Probably, everyone knows what the hair color means,” Meia said threading a hand through her hair. “If they see this color they’ll know I’m part of the military, and an elite pilot, most of whom are known. They probably won’t talk to me like this.”
“How about we dye it, or a wig?” Victor said.
“Might work,” Randy said looking at Meia for several seconds. “Might be able to make you a blonde. Might check with Doctor Leaver.”
“We should start now, the longer we’re here the worse it might get,” Meia said to him.
He understood, they had been here for too long without a reaction. They needed to act quickly. He nodded watching as Victor and Meia left the room. He could only hope the doctor could do something quickly.
Meia walked into the med lab and could still recall the first time she awoke in the room. The drugs in her system caused her to be confused by everything. Now she walked in with no problems heading over to the doctor.
“Ah, Meia, what can I do for you?” he asked, putting down the data pad he was working on.
“Well, this is probably a strange request, but we need to dye my hair and quickly,” Meia said to him.
“Are you sure? I kinda like it,” the doctor replied back to her.
“Yeah, I need to blend into the population of the empire,” Meia replied back to him.
“I see, well, I don’t have any data on how dyes will work on blue hair, but we can try blonde,” the doctor said. “It works by bleaching out the color.”
“That’s the same thing Randy said,” Meia said, wondering if there was something about being blonde.
“I see, you sure you don’t want the hair cutters?” the doctor said.
“We need something fast,” Meia told him.
“Ah, yes, that makes sense then,” the doctor said to her. “So you want this done right away.
The doctor motioned to a chair. “Then shall we begin?”
She went over sitting down as he prepared a mixture.
End part 7