The Cimalian Princess: Invasion
by AJ Marks
Randy walked out of the briefing room after talking too many of the new pilots. The squadrons seemed to be at full strength but many new pilots hadn’t seen much in flight training. He hoped that John and the others would help train them more.
“Randy, can I talk to you for a sec,” John asked quietly so no else could hear them.
“Yeah,” Randy replied. He didn’t understand why John whispered the question. He figured he’d find out real soon.
“Look, I know it’s none of my business but I have to ask for everyone here. Is there something else going on between you and her,” John asked.“Going on, between Meia and me, I think you’re seeing things John,” Randy said. “Besides I’ve only talked with her for what, an hour at most.”
“All right, just thought I’d ask. When I approached you two in the med lab I thought, well, never mind, but she sure did give me a look,” John said.
“Well, let’s try looking at things from her point of view. You come in, she doesn’t know you, or our ways from what I’ve been able to tell,” Randy replied. “How do you feel?”
“I’d use every advantage I could,” John replied.
“That’s why I stuck to telling her stories about my past, adventures of my youth,” Randy said as they got on board the elevator.
“Youth, your what, a whole year older than me old man,” John said. “Wait, you didn’t tell her about the horse, oh you did!”
“You bet,” Randy said smiling. “If it helps she at least laughed at it.”
“Great, another one who knows the story,” John said. “I’m surprised it isn’t on the Galactic Web.”
“And you know the how,” Randy asked. He’s seen something similar not long ago.
“I keep looking,” John replied.
“John, I’m going to have her meet my mother and father, a dinner planet side. I think it might help me gain her trust,” Randy said.
“Is that wise,” John asked.
“I think it’s a risk we should take. I’m going to ask dad and see what he thinks, the doctor already said Meia could go. And I think my mother might be the best way to help gain Meia’s trust,” Randy replied.
“Be careful then,’ John said. “Well, I should get some rest for now, perhaps a shower as well.”
“I’ll let you know when we’re ready to move out,” Randy said. “Before you go, have you ever heard of an electrowhip?”
“Electrowhip, no, can’t say I have,” John replied. “Why?”
“Just before I came down Meia asked me if I ever punished someone with it,” Randy replied.
“Punishment device, sounds strange,” John said.
“I know, but the doc didn’t say she had any evidence of ever being whipped,” Randy said. “I’ll have to see about gaining information about it.”
“Good luck,” John said. They walked out of the elevator.
“See you a bit later then,” Randy said. He headed towards the bridge to see what the latest intelligence from Vernada and Hesslius had come in yet. Then he’d start making plans for the assault on Vernada after talking to his father.
Meia stepped off the shuttle following Randy onto a space port. There were not many people around as she followed. She wasn’t sure where she was going. Part of her expected to be led to a prison, or perhaps a courtroom. The building around the space port seemed to flow into the natural beauty of the planet, something that she ground appealing.
She noticed another older couple standing nearby. They seemed a bit familiar but looked closer. The man appeared to be almost six feet tall and considering his age in good health. His white hair on top appeared to be thinning and he wore a crisp white uniform of a high-ranking person. For a moment she thought Randy as transferring her to another place.
However the woman seemed different. Shorter than either Randy or the other man her face held a smile and a twinkle in her blue eyes. Her red hair now tinged with gray. She had on a simple pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt. That seemed a bit odd to Meia who thought the weather too warm for such a shirt.
“Randy, about time you take time out to visit your mother, and as an admiral now,” the woman said.
Meia now understood the couple to be Randy’s parents. She could see the similarities between them. The sheer enthusiasm that Randy’s mother showed made her think again of her own mother, how she always had a smile or hug for her. She brushed off the memories turning back to the present once more.
“And you must be Meia,” the woman said. “I’m Mary this rascal’s mother.” Meia could see the twinkle in her eyes as she spoke about her son.
“Hello there,” Meia replied stumbling for words to say. She hadn’t been prepared for this. Randy’s mother seemed to be one a person just automatically trusted by her own force of personality.
“This older rascal is Jack, my husband,” Mary said introducing Randy’s father. “Well, we should get going after all dinner is waiting. Marcus will be pacing up and down the floor wondering where we are.”
Meia smiled a bit at that. Meia wondered if this could be part of the interrogation process. She’d have to be careful and watch what she said.
As the group walked down the street Meia made out guards that were around. They were discreet but there. She also felt people’s stare as they walked by. She noticed it had to be her hair no one else had blue hair around her. That also meant escaping would prove very difficult as she’d stand out very easily.
She noticed things missing that according to intelligence should have been there. Anti-Cimalian propaganda was missing from many areas that it normally should’ve been. Large groups of military meeting area and armed guards patrolling the street were not there. Perhaps they had taken it down in an attempt to confuse her, or it never was there.
They turned down a street walking towards a restaurant all the while Mary talked about this and that. Meia could tell most of the conversation at the moment seemed to be between Randy and his mother.
“So Meia, what types of foods do you like,” Mary suddenly asked her.
Meia had no idea how to answer that. She didn’t even know if the same food existed in the Alliance as the Cimalian Empire. Thankfully Randy came to her rescue.
“She’s not that sure mom,” he said.
“Yes, this is the first time I’ve been to this planet,” Meia said finally. She hoped that might satisfy Mary at least for a while.
“Well, it’s good to get out and experience new things. I’ve grown up working in the restaurant business and I’ll tell you the Usails Company knows how to cook food,” May said. “In fact they know food as much as the males in my life know military tactics. Did you know that Randy just got a promotion to Rear-Admiral?”
“Mom,” Randy said. Meia heard the pride in Mary’s voice. That made her wonder for a second if her own mother would be proud of her.
Meia also understood that an admiral had a high rank but a ‘rear-admiral’ she hadn’t heard of before. The rank didn’t exist in the Cimalian military. Many times your rank had it base in how well you performed and your class level. With pilots rank was shown in hair color, blue being the highest one could achieve. She hadn’t seen any pilots or others with different color hair like on board the Kitakim. Mary recaptured her attention.
“What, you’re one of the youngest admirals ever and I get a chance to brag about you in front of pretty girl. This is something I’m not going to miss,” Mary said. Meia could hear the slight amusement in her voice.
She heard a slight chuckle come from Randy’s dad, not that loud but loud enough that Meia heard it. She almost stopped walking when Mary had mentioned her. That train of thought led her to another thought. Were prisoners given to top officials for slaves or perhaps worse, or even an arrange marriage. It seemed what she’d learned about the Alliance was false or changed. Perhaps even Mary had been an enemy of the Alliance at one time. She looked over at the woman but didn’t see anything that might indicate that. The woman seemed indeed in love with Jack.
They walked into the restaurant which held another completely different experience for Meia. Inside she saw no different areas for different classes to sit as they were led to a table by a man in a red uniform. Another older man approached the group introducing himself as Mister Marcus Usails the Sixth. The first man reappeared with data pads and then told them he’d be right back to take their orders.
She glanced at the data pad as Marcus and Mary conversed a bit. She’d seen such establishments on Cimalis but had never been in one. Only Alphas were allowed in such a fine restaurant. Put her in a fighter and she’d be right at home but this made her feel slightly venerable.
“It’s a menu,” Randy said in a low whisper to her. “You read thought and see what sounds good to you. When the waiter comes back you can tell him what you want. If you have a question you can ask. Usually the waiter takes your drink order first, then comes back with the drink and takes the rest of your order.”
“Oh,” Meia replied. She’d have to figure out quickly something. Everything looked foreign to her though. Nothing seemed to be like she’d been told. Now she looked though the menu hoping to find something that looked familiar.
Agnes glanced around the restaurant when several people walked in. He could tell they were military personal. What they were doing he wasn’t sure just yet. Then he noticed Admiral White walk in. Beside him Agnes noticed John’s wife but behind them is what he noticed the most. One male the other female, he ignored the male and concentrated on the female. He noticed the blue hair which made his own hair on the back of his neck stand up.
‘It can’t be,’ he thought to himself. As he continued to look a waiter came up.
“Will there be anything else sir,” the waiter asked.
“No, bring me the check,” Agnes said. He turned his head away from the group. He didn’t think anyone had seen him that would be a plus. He quickly paid the bill then left as discreetly as possible. He had a report to send.
John stood outside the restaurant with another guard. The Cimalian pilot seemed to be overloaded with everything. He’d been watching the woman’s face to gauge her reactions and ended up surprised. She hadn’t reacted at all like he thought. It made him think that perhaps Randy had been right. Gaining the woman’s trust might be the best way to gain information. If her reaction had been genuine then he wanted no part of Cimalian civilization.
Movement caught his attention as he spotted another figure leaving the restaurant. He wondered about the man leaving. He seemed to be looking back at Meia, not that it seemed unusual as not many people see a blue haired woman these days. It seemed to be the look the man kept giving Meia that made John suspicious.
“Who’s that,” John asked the guard next him.
“Who, oh, him, looks like Senator Agnes,” the guard said.
John replied his thanks as he thought about what he’d seen. He’d keep his eyes and ear open about that.
Hans glanced down at his equipment to make sure what he saw had been correct. A quick calculation confirmed what the computer told him. Everything had been working normally.
“Captain, we’ve got a problem over here,” he said gaining Kim’s attention.
“Let’s hear it,” Kim said walking over to where he sat.
“This just started,” he said pointing out a strange communications from the planet’s surface. “I’ve run several diagnostics already making sure nothing was wrong with the computer. The computer can’t translate it or who sent it.”
“Could be a vid station sending out a new transmission to another planet. You know how they like to code those transmissions so no one can intercept it,” Kim replied rationally.
“I thought about that as well, but they usually have some sort of tag, this one doesn’t,” Hans replied.
“Send a copy down to headquarters and see if they can figure it out then,” Kim said.
“Understood captain,” Hans replied. He quickly carried out the order. He hoped they had better luck than he had.
Meia walked slowly along with Randy after the meal ended. His parents had said goodnight and now they made their way to the space port. The meal itself had been quite good to her surprise. Nothing like the bland meal usually served to the citizens of the Cimalian Empire. She’d had something called Chicken Pasta on Randy’s advice. The other surprise of the evening had been Randy’s mother, Mary. The woman seemed to contradict everything Meia had heard about the Alliance.
“Did you have a nice evening,” Randy asked her.
“It was all right,” Meia said not wanting to give any indication how much she’d enjoyed it. In fact the last time she’d enjoyed a meal so much had been when her mother had been alive. That brought up the conflict in her mind and heart, her mother had been killed by members of the Alliance. Yet there had been no mention of the Cimalian Empire, or anything else that could be associated with it.
“Do you have a favorite restaurant where you come from,” Randy asked.
“Everything’s separated by class,” Meia replied. “A restaurant like that would be for the higher classes only.”
“Classes, you’ve got me on that one,” Randy replied.
She heard the confusion in his voice. It confirmed that the Alliance didn’t have the class system she had grown up with. A person born into a class had no ability to change, unless though marriage. She wondered what it’d be like growing up where a person had the chose to do just that.
Instead of answering the question she chose to remain quiet. It came as a shock when Randy held onto her hand. Her first instinct had been to jerk her hand away, yet a fear kept her from doing so. She spent the rest of the walk to the port thinking about that fear and what it might mean.
She glanced up at the half-moon in the night sky. A bit bigger than what she’d remembered on Cimalis but beautiful anyways. They walked onto the shuttle with Meia taking a seat. Part of her felt the loneliness when contact with Randy had been broken. Now as she sat across from him she thought about the future.
“What will you do about me now,” she finally asked.
“I don’t know,” Randy replied. “I honestly don’t know.”
End Chapter 10
Continued in Chapter 11
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