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Riches Unknown

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    Riches Unknownby J D Marksman

    CHAPTER 1

    Limping back towar the p!anet"s s#r$ace% the broken ship Ho!y Terror manages to sett!es own into its berth whi!ethe two occ#pants race abo#t sh#tting e&erything that sti!! manage to work be$ore an o&er!oa occ#rre' (That irty

    rotten !iar%( )era e*p!oes' (He is not going to rest #nti! e&ery !ast component o$ these engines are rep!ace'( As she

    says this% there is spitt!e er#pting $rom her mo#th with e&ery emphasi+e wor'

    ,hene&er she gets this angry% Tony a!ways !ets her b!ow o$$ steam witho#t trying to soothe her or say anything that

    might so#n in the !east bit a paci$ying intent' He a!ways ho!s his tong#e when it comes to this with her' -he was a

    rea! he!!ion' )era has a ."/( $rame that is s!im 0 ath!etic an sporting a re $!aming t#$t o$ $!yaway hair to boot'

    ,hene&er she got $!aming ma !ike now% her hair a!ways seeme to stan on en as i$ it ha a !i$e o$ its own' ( $ee!sorry $or that poor s#cker when we isembark%( Tony says #ner his breath as he per$orms the !ast series o$ systems

    eacti&ation'

    (Hey )era% ho! on now% we aren"t thro#gh yet'(

    n rep!y% she booms back at him% (2es we are an yo# know it' 2o#"re not going to ho! me back this time% so on"t

    e&en try'( ,ith that% she b#rst o#t o$ the hatchway ten $eet $rom the cockpit cabin !ea&ing him to $inish #p'

    -ighing with great patience% Tony says% (,omen are so inepenent these ays now that we are in the 34th ecae

    o$ space e*p!oration'(

    5e$ore he is e&en o#t o$ the hatchway% there can be hear angry sho#ts coming $rom the near!y so#nproo$ panesseparating the !aning station"s o$$ice where )era an the e*ec#ti&e o$$icer was !ocate an the se&enty $i&e $eet o$

    open air to where the ship ha !ane'

    Looking aro#n at the other shipmasters that were trying to keep b#sy an preten they weren"t hearing any o$ this%he 6#st shr#gs his sho#!ers an pantomime an ( on"t know abo#t her anymore%( an a !opsie grins as an

    apo!ogy $or the isr#ption'

    '''(J#st who o yo# think yo# are% a!!owing a ship to be !a#nche be$ore ha&ing a!! systems checke o#tbe$orehan7( 8h boy' ,e"re going to nee a magni$ying g!ass to $in this poor so#! a$ter she"s one chewing him

    o#t'

    The e*ec#ti&e o$$icer in charge o$ a!! ships in this !aning bay !ooke withere an e$!ate with a !ook o$ $ear$#!

    esperation at the opene oor as Tony entere' He was abo#t to mo&e towar the oor b#t was intercepte as )era

    starte wa&ing a !oae $inger in his $ace as spitt!e streame $rom her open porta! ca!!e a mo#th'

    A$ter twenty min#tes o$ #se!ess han searching $or the hien switch the station sec#rity team ha recent!y insta!!e%

    Thoren% the !aning bay o$$icer% was ab!e to break $ree o$ his $ear an press it a$ter rea!i+ing what his $ingers were

    act#a!!y to#ching $or the past $i&e min#tes'

    n no time at a!!% sec#rity men came crashing in !oae $or bear e*pecting a s#icie $reak' nstea they came $ace to

    $ace with a $erocio#s $e!ine o$ a woman' nstant!y she is ca!me own a$ter rea!i+ing they ha company an $acing

    the new arri&a!s she asks% (s there something we can o $or yo# gent!emen9(

    ("m a$rai we are going to ha&e to ask yo# to !ea&e' :ow'( 8ne o$ the men sai a$ter momentari!y being stoppe in

    tracks with her $erocity then her instant ca!m' (t wi!! on!y be $or a moment whi!e we try to get to the bottom o$ a!!

    this an make some sense o$ it a!!'( Looking at Tony% he inicates the oor'

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    (Come on )era% !et"s not make any more o$ a scene' "m s#re the chie$ c!ear!y #nerstans what nees to be one in

    orer to set things right' Come a!ong now'( ,ith that she obeient!y comp!ies with her h#sban an together they

    go o#t to seek s#itab!e ;#arters #nti! their ship"s repairs are comp!ete'

    < < < < o$$ point >>not !ike !ast time' That was two

    months ago' Maybe this time it wi!! be i$$erent'

    (Engines are a green% Tony%( )era says' P!ease beyon compare an g!owing with a!! the new gagets an harware

    the chie$ ha inc!#e as compensation an to 6#st get ri o$ that cra+y woman' -he knew she was a pain at times%

    b#t it a!so pai o$$ being s#ch a $irecracker as she was% too'

    (Engaging in $i&e% $o#r% three% two% one'''( an the screen isp!aying a wie range o$ stars now becomes a so!i wa!!

    o$ grey nothingness as they isappear $rom sight among the m#!tit#e o$ twink!ing o$ stars an stream towars a

    $orgotten wor! against an imagine contestant an to their estination >>se&enty two !ight years away where a

    p!anetary system o$ #nimaginab!e things were to! them'

    (,ere $ina!!y going to o it% we are act#a!!y on o#r way to =entari#s )9( -he asks a!tho#gh not e*pecting an

    answer' -aying this with ama+ement in her &oice an with a warmth in the eyes that are $oc#se on the on!y man

    that co#! bring any trace o$ $emininity o#t in her% she ;#iet!y says% ( !o&e yo# Anthony 5arnes%( with a!! her heart'Reaching o&er to where he sat% she kisses his $orehea an seats herse!$ $or $#rther astra! ca!c#!ations'

    ( !o&e yo# two% my !itt!e he!!ion wi!cat'( Looking back to the $orwar isp!ay% he then m#rm#rs% (To o#r estiny

    an riches #nknown'(

    5ening own !ow an retrie&ing a package $rom a hien compartment he opens it an ho!s in his hans the map

    that ha been sm#gg!e o#t o$ a contesting system where sa!&aging !ost ships an $orgotten wor!s was an i!!ega!

    acti&ity' They both knew the conse;#ences $or anyone ca#ght oing so or e&en possessing in$ormation o$ s#chacti&ity' The con&icte wo#! recei&e a sti$$ pena!ty an e&en $ace the possibi!ity o$ !oosing their spacer"s

    creentia!s an?or their ship'

    Thinking o$ the c!ose ca!! they ha whi!e the engines were being o&erha#!e an those techs $#mb!ing abo#t in thecockpit here% he he! this treas#re re&erent!y with somewhat tremb!ing hans as he !ooke #p with tears streaming

    own his $ace'

    This was going to be the $in o$ a !i$etime $or them an they wo#! risk e&erything $or the chance to isco&er thetr#th abo#t the !ost co!ony >>$or in$ormation was $ar more &a!#ab!e than precio#s meta!s where they were $rom% e&en

    tho#gh the !atter were o$ &a!#e% too% to some'

    < < < < >a ship' They near!y co!!ie

    with a ship o$ some kin o#t here in the b!ackness o$ space an their ship ha sh#t own a!! systems' That e*p!aine

    why they were tosse abo#t back there in the cabin'

    ,hist!ing in isbe!ie$% Tony checks his reaings once more% then !ooks o&er at )era'

    (,hat9 2o# !ook as i$ yo#"re a pa!!bearer abo#t to bring more ba news to the $ami!y'( -he sai

    (Don"t !ose yo#r coo! when te!! yo# this% ok' ,e"re not where we"re s#ppose to be%( he e*c!aims'

    (,HAT7 $ we"re o$$ co#rse% then where are we9( she ye!!e back'

    nowing she wasn"t ma at him% b#t at the news he bro#ght to her% he rep!ie% (t appears $rom these reaings that

    we were thrown B3'1. parsecs ahea o$ where we were to en #p at'(

    (That means we ha&e tra&e!e more than 1 parsecs' How is that possib!e9 s there any way $or #s to ret#rn $rom

    this $ar o#t9( she aske horri$ie'

    (:ot that am aware o$ with o#r techno!ogy'( he sai'

    (Then we"re oome an a!one'(

    (:ot e*act!y tr#e' Look here' -ee this #n#s#a! reaing that oesn"t $it in the $!ow o$ other ata 6#st achie&e' t

    !ooks as tho#gh there is something strange going on o#t there which may be arti$icia!!y or mechanica!!y in#ce%ca#sing o#r instr#ments to rea nothing s#bstantia!' Then again% that"s the tro#b!e% can"t be s#re o$ anything at this

    point since the scanners are not picking #p anything resemb!ing norma! reaings' Let"s check it o#t% sha!! we9(

    ($ yo# want to% b#t wo#!n"t waste another min#te in this area when we co#! be searching o#t a habitab!e p!anetsomewhere%( she ;#ippe'

    < < < < wie b#nk which was specia!!y mae $or them

    an began to e*amine his hea $or any trace o$ an in6#ry with the meica! scanners'

    (,hat is going on here9( she says mysti$ie'

    ,hi!e rep!acing the instr#ment in its storage compartment% Tony scares her as he br#shes her arm' :ear!y 6#mping

    o#t o$ her skin $rom his to#ch% she says% (Tony% on"t o that% yo# hear'(

    ("m sorry''' ,hat am am oing in here' Last thing knew% yo# were !ooking at the screen strange!y% then sharp!y

    at me as i$ ha one something wrong'(

    (2o# on"t remember anything9( she aske'

    (:o% why9(

    ,ith that she proceee to te!! him abo#t the !aser beam striking him% her ye!!ing an knocking him own to pre&ent

    a more serio#s wo#n $rom occ#rring% an then what she saw o#tsie with the rone' (,here is it now%( he aske'

    (t sho#! be abo#t reay to come insie by now% " say'(

    (,e!! then% !et"s go see what o#r !itt!e meta! $rien came #p with'( etting #p $rom the be as i$ nothing ha

    happene% he !eas the way to the o#ter hatchway #se by resc#e rones an workbots'

    -ti!! not s#re what she witnesse% she p!anne on keeping a wary eye on him >>6#st in case he starte to act $#nny on

    her'

    < < < < c!ose entranceway an

    own the arkene ha!!' #ick!y the two sensiti&es reco&er eno#gh $or them to $o!!ow his !ea% b#t the two shorter

    beings ha&e to r#n to maintain a s#$$icient striing gate as the ta!!er ones #se'

    )era is ama+e at how grace$#! they wa!ke' -he tho#ght that someone as ta!! as they were% there wo#! be a

    gang!ing !oping with a bobbing a$$ect in their strie' :ot so' They seeme to ro!! a!ong in a smooth striing stance'

    Ha!ting in mi>strie% Tony near!y co!!ies into the back o$ U!!ani who t#rns an !ooks at him h#moro#s!y as onewo#! !ook at a chi! that wasn"t !ooking where they were going' Looking #p at the two beings% he sees that Enoer is

    searching the wa!! $or something' -#en!y he contin#es witho#t preamb!e an the remnant o$ the team $o!!ow% two

    o$ whom sti!! c!#tching their heas'

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    (s the pain getting any worse or is it !essening9( )era wo#! ask perioica!!y which both Tony an U!!ani wo#!

    agree that it was getting more intense the $#rther a!ong they go'

    Coming to a ha!t% the $o#r e*p!orers come $ace to $ace with an ornate!y ecorate m#ra! sp!ashe across an archaictwo !ea$e oorway with a to#ch sensiti&e pane! which a!!owe the gro#p to enter as they sw#ng inwar'

    (:ow where ha&e seen something !ike this be$ore9( )era states to no one in partic#!ar in an attempt to reca!! some

    !ong $orgotten memory'

    (t came a !ong ways that"s $or s#re'( Tony mentions as the pain $ina!!y s#bsies'

    (There"s a $ab!e abo#t a race that ass#me they were the center o$ attraction when they isco&ere the secret totra&e!ing at the spee o$ !ight'( Enoer sai a$ter m#ch si!ence' This $ab!e a!so sai that these creat#res were short

    an !acking in hair 6#st !ike yo#rse!&es' be!ie&e they ca!!e themse!&es h#mans an were $rom a sing!e habitab!e

    p!anet within their p!anetary system ca!!e Terra or Earth'(

    (That"s it7( )era e*p!oe' (That"s the name was trying to reca!!' There was a great isp!ay o$ ta!ent $or a $ew

    generations a$ter their isco&ery o$ star tra&e!' Then one ay% they sent o#t an e*p!oration ship which ne&er mae it

    back' t was name the E*;#isitor in honor o$ some sea &esse! that s#nk many cent#ries be$ore their space program

    began beca#se its esign was so e*;#isite' The E*;#isitor was e;#ippe with a&ance techno!ogy that e&en the

    ma6ority o$ their own kin ha e&er seen be$ore or since its epart#re some 33 cent#ries ago'(

    (,e!!% it !ooks !ike we ha&e $o#n the go!en n#gget a$ter a!!'( Tony sai' (How are we going to mo&e this

    behemoth9 Are any o$ its engines working9(

    (,e ha&e been ab!e to ascertain the two main areas b#t ha&e not come to any conc!#sions as to how they may ha&e

    $#nctione' As we speak% we on"t know i$ they wi!! e&er work' t is tr#!y a goo thing that yo# two ha&e come

    a!ong as yo# i beca#se we were abo#t to ret#rn to o#r own ship an try the comp#ters on this prob!em'( U!!anisai' (Maybe yo#r know!ege o$ this race an their techno!ogy be con#ci&e to o#r 6oint &ent#re'(

    ($ what we ha&e seen $rom the o#tsie o$ the repairs being con#cte% we may conc!#e that the engines may a!so

    be #ner repair'(

    (,hat is this yo# say9 This &esse! is se!$>repairing9( Enoer aske incre#!o#s!y'

    (2es' ,e ha&e seen it $rom o#r sie o$ the ship' t m#st ha&e come thro#gh a massi&e $ight which may ha&e ki!!eo$$ a!! s#r&i&ors consiering the amage one to it' Are yo# saying there are no !aser scars on yo#r sie o$ the

    ship9( Tony m#se'

    (:one that co#! be etecte'( U!!ani sai' (,o#! yo# show #s these scars sometime9 ,e wo#! !ike to see thecontent o$ e*terior amage so that we may p!an how better we might transport her to a common p!ace o$

    ci&i!i+ation'(

    ( on"t see a prob!em with that' Do yo# )era9(

    (:o'(

    (oo' Then it"s sett!e%( U!!ani $ina!i+e'

    CHAPTER G

    -co#ting o#t the many corriors an compartments cata!og#ing each $in they come across% Enoer asks as a secontho#ght% (s anyone h#ngry9(

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    Looking #p $rom their chosen arti$act% a!! three chor#se% ( am'(

    (5#t we in"t bring anything o&er with #s%( )era sai'

    (Do not $ear%( U!!ani o$$ere' (,e $o#n something that wi!! take care o$ that prob!em'(

    (Then by a!! means% !ea the way%( Tony sai with enth#siasm'

    -winging own $rom a !ege% U!!ani bens own to pick #p the roppe sty!#s pa' @ree+ing in p!ace% she !ooks o#t

    one o$ the &iewing ports in the !obby which was I $eet wie an three $eet high to see a b!#r go by' (Di anyone see

    what 6#st went by9( -eeing no one wi!!ing to answer since they too were $ro+en in p!ace by what they saw% ortho#ght they saw% she mo&e c!oser to the &iewing port to !ook o#t'

    P#!!ing back in shocke s#rprise% they a!! see the thing that ha attache itse!$ to the o#tsie pane'

    t was ye!!ow>green with no noticeab!e eyes or photo>receptors% b#t with a s;#arish "hea" that staye rigi on itstorso' Appenages with something !ike s#ction c#ps that enab!e them to attach to the s#r$ace o$ the o#ter h#!! were

    streaming a!! o&er at a hapha+ar rate' n rea!ity% these appenages were per$orming repairs on a new!y create

    cre&ice that was etecte by the ship"s system' As the c#ppe appenage was p!ace o&er the area in nee o$ repair%

    a s#bstance wo#! isso!&e the a!!ow o$ the h#!! an me! it back to what it sho#! be !ike' -oon more o$ these

    creat#res were attening more r#pt#res in the immeiate area' Hearing a hissing so#n% the $o#r abr#pt!y e&ac#atethe !obby an sea! it o$$' J#st in time' :o sooner ha the oors been sec#re% then the who!e room became e*pose

    to &ac##m'

    (:ow that was a c!ose ca!!%( Tony state matter>o$>$act!y' :oboy neee to a$$irm that statement since they were

    a!! staring thro#gh the g!ass!ike partition which a!!owe those o#tsie o$ the now abanone !obby to ha&e an easy

    &iew within'

    (Let"s get o#t o$ here%( )era sai ;#easi!y'

    ( secon that'( Tony answere as the two giants began mo&ing onwar to their specia! room with the $oo

    ispensers'

    As they h#rrie own the ha!!% there were se&era! o$ those creat#res sc#rrying past them to the e&ac#ate !obby'-omehow% they knew what was going on an were in comm#nication with an #nknown so#rce which the other

    critters were !inke into' They were o$ a 5io>mechanica! esign an ha&ing a one>track>min ship maintenance'

    (:ot at a!! sociab!e% are they now'( )era &erba!i+e her tho#ghts% pa#sing to get a $!eeting g!ance at the s!ower o$ the

    b#nch'

    (,hate&er they might be% they seem to ha&e a sing!e mission on their "mins" an on"t e&en seem to notice #s being

    here'( Tony rep!ie' (t"s a shame we co#!n"t get a $ew o$ them an take them home with #s' They"re kina c#te%

    on"tcha think'(

    (Ugh' 2o# can be so rep#!si&e at times%( )era sai e*asperate' with him

    (Here we are%( Enoer sai matter>o$>$act!y' (This is the room we spoke o$ ear!ier'(

    (t"s abo#t time' "m star&e%( )era sai imp#!si&e!y as she br#she asie the other three an proceeing thro#gh the

    ca$eteria"s entrance' As she !ooke abo#t% she e*c!aime% (8h% wow7 This is $ab#!o#s'(

    nsie% the room was !arge eno#gh to han!e abo#t 3 "peop!e" with ease' There were two rows o$ tab!es p!ace ento en' :ear the !e$t sie o$ the room were se&era! stations where one co#! recei&e $oo an rink' At each station

    termina!% there were screens isp!aying a men# in a m#!ti>co!ore $ormat' (Are these rea!!y working9 Ha&e yo# two

    #se these yet9( -he wo#! aske e*cite!y' n response% she was getting a smi!e an a beckoning han towars the

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    ispensers $rom Enoer an U!!ani' oing o&er to the termina! that )era was staning be$ore% he spoke to it orering

    a !arge bow! o$ Lenti! so#p an steppe back' (2o# !ike Lenti!s9( she ;#ippe ama+e'

    (,e $o#n o#t it tastes &ery simi!ar to one o$ o#r garen &ariety pro#ce'( He ec!are' ,ithin secons% thereappeare a !arge bow! o$ steaming Lenti! so#p'

    (-eeing something that peake her interest she orere a samp!e o$ it' This was #nknown on the p!anets she &isite

    so she waite as a chi! oes in anticipation $or the secons it takes to prepare it $or her' -oon she is e*amining it atthe tab!e where the others ha&e chosen to sit'

    (,hat is it9( They ask'

    (t"s ca!!e a s#bmarine sanwich' t has T#rkey an'''Roast 5ee$ on wheat !oa&es' )ery pec#!iar% b#t &ery tasty'(

    -inking her teeth into it an chewing with g#sto% she an washes it own with a ta!! container o$ spark!ing c!ear

    water'

    -eeing her !ooks o$ satis$action% Tony goes back to the ser&ing station an orers one $or himse!$ to rep!ace what he

    a!reay ha eaten a!ong with another rink which ha a &ery o name'

    (,hat"s that yo#"re rinking9( U!!ani aske s#spicio#s!y' -he tho#ght the reish s!#ge !ooke too m#ch !ike the

    b!oo o$ anima!s $rom their homewor! $or her taste'

    (The men# sai it was a )/' Let"s see' t has eight !i;#e$ie &egetab!es' t"s &ery tasty' 2o# o#ght to try one'(

    (:o thank yo#' "!! contin#e rinking this c!ear rink o$ mine'( U!!ani state sheepish!y'

    (How i yo# manage to get this to work%( )era says thro#gh g#!ps o$ water'

    (,e ha&e ha to o a $ew moi$ications on it since we isco&ere these machines' They seem to work $ine since

    then'(

    A$ter their mea!% they ecie to make this room their meeting p!ace an point o$ contact sho#! any o$ them becomeseparate or i$ they chose to ret#rn be$ore the others $or a snack'

    < < < <

    E-T ,TH 58L8CAL 5E:-' 8)ER-EE THE @U:CT8:- [email protected] TH- )E--EL @8R THE 88D [email protected]

    THE :HA5TA:T-' A- @8R 28UR -EC8:D UE-T8:% AM E)ER2,HERE' :CLUD: [email protected],8R [email protected] TH- )E--EL% 5UT M8RE [email protected] ,TH: T,E:T2 2ARD- T8 28UR [email protected]

    ,HERE AM A5LE T8 :TERACT 8: A M8RE PER-8:AL MA::ER ,TH MEM5ER [email protected] 28UR :D'(

    T#rning to $ace the area that the A!pha A #nit mentione% they see mo&ement' Emerging $rom the wa!! is a !onggrey isp!ay bank with m#!tico!ore !ights b!inking on an o$$ in rapi s#ccession' A s!iing oor retracts an o#t

    wa!ks a being I $eet ta!!' (Do not be a!arme' wi!! not harm yo#' That is against my princip!es an my being to o

    yo# harm witho#t a morta! threat mae to my person'( Mo&ing #p to them in a non>threatening manner% this arti$icia!

    !i$e$orm e*tens its han in a gest#re o$ $rienship' (,here come $rom% a hanshake is the c#stomary response o$meeting someone'( To that% Tony mo&es $orwar an shakes hans with this e&ice who !ooks &ery man!y% an yet

    &ery $ami!iar' The grip is $irm b#t not cr#shing' 5acking away% Enoer comes #p to him an repeats the gest#re'

    (Do yo# ha&e a more persona! name than "A!pha A%"( Enoer asks'

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    (2o# may ca!! me Aam%( he rep!ie' (-ince am the $irst o$ my kin to e&er e*ist% am a!so the !ast'(

    ()ery we!! Aam% !et"s go meet the rest o$ o#r gro#p% sha!! we%( Tony asks'

    As the trio heas o$$ own the corrior on their way towars the brige% Aam s#ggests that they take the t#rbo !i$t

    to the contro! center which they both !ook at him in woner' E*p!aining% he says% (There"s an e*press !i$t e!e&ator o$

    sorts that tra&e!s a!ong the !ength o$ the who!e ship $rom bow to stern' t wo#! great!y spee #p o#r 6o#rney i$ yo#two are in a h#rry'(

    Enoer says% (,here is this !i$t o$ yo#rs9 ,e i not etect any sort o$ e&ice in o#r s#r&eys'(

    (That is beca#se yo# were not e*pecting to $in s#ch%( Aam gent!y as'

    (Let"s $o!!ow his !ea% Enoer' ,hat harm co#! it o9( ,ith no rep!y $orthcoming% Aam% the mechanica! woner

    !eas the way own a short ha!! an irecte the two into a booth'

    (2o# wo#! not ha&e etecte the !i$t"s entrance since the main power was amage% there$ore pre&enting s#$$icient

    power to ri&e them or e&en acti&ate the !i$t oors' t is a sa$ety e&ice to pre&ent peop!e $rom $orcing open a t#rbo

    !i$t oor an $a!!ing in' ,ith mo#ths a6ar at the things he was escribing% they were o$$ to their estination a$ter he

    so$t!y says (Le&e! 1% 5rige'(

    ,ithin a $ew moments o$ acce!eration% they arri&e at the esire !e&e! where they were emerging $rom the !i$t into a

    corrior with which they were $ami!iar' (This is great' ,e came right o#tsie the brige"s entranceway'(

    (The stripes were reacti&ate when the power circ#its were c!ose'( Aam instr#cte% seeing Tony inspect the re

    g!owing% neon sty!e stripes aro#n the oorKs ege they 6#st emerge $rom'

    < < < < committe!y'

    (Then in one cyc!e o$ yo#r time perios% await yo#r signa!'(

    ,orry sketche across her $ace% )era comes to her man"s sie an ho!s him with esperation in her eyes an tears

    streaking own her $ace' (-h#sh now' Don"t worry' "!! be a!right'(

    ( wi!! come with yo#%( sai Enoer'

    (:o' t m#st be me an him' 2o#r presence wo#! ina&ertent!y set him o$$% gi&ing him a reason to contact hisco!!eag#es thro#gh a coe message to b!ow #s a!! #p sho#! he become threatene'(

    -tr#gg!ing with an intensity as ne&er be$ore e*perience in a!! o$ his G4 years o$ e*istence% Aam speaks #p' (,ewi!! keep yo# in o#r sights' $ they so m#ch as twitch% wi!! b!ow them o#t o$ e*istence'(

    (:o' 2o# won"t' 2o# cannot !ie% nor ha&e yo# ki!!e o#t o$ hatre or ma!ice' $ yo# i% yo# wo#! not be ab!e to $ace

    yo#rse!$' know yo#% my $rien' ,e cannot !et some paranoi c#!t#re ictate o#r actions or o#r &ery e*istence' 2o#

    abo&e a!! know this is to be so'( ,itho#t knowing why% Tony then says% (,e ha&e ha this con&ersation many times%yo# an % ha&en"t we9( Pa#sing to grasp the content o$ what he ha 6#st sai% Tony woners where that ha come

    $rom an why he sai it' Looking at )era"s strange !ook% he sai% (:ow why i say that' ,e 6#st met on!y a !itt!e

    whi!e ago' Anyhow% "!! be back in no time' Don"t worry'(

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    < < < < year o$ istance so he co#! prep a sa$e area $or me to resie'(

    (Um' How o! are yo# Tony9( she aske ;#iet!y'

    (Hm' g#ess "m abo#t G. years or so o$ age% at !east accoring to ships !ogs anyhow% b#t on"t $ee! a ay o&er

    3' ,hy9(

    ( was 6#st wonering how many wi&es yo#"&e ha since !ea&ing this earth wor! o$ yo#rs be$ore meeting me'(

    (8h% that' Di Aam mention this to yo# ear!ier9 Honey% !ook' ,hat re!ationships e*perience be$ore was nothing

    be$ore meeting yo#' The women marrie were no match to yo#' ,hy% yo# are a rea! !i&e wire an wo#!n"t gi&e

    yo# #p $or anything in the cosmos'(

    (Rea!!y9( she asks in a !itt!e gir!"s &oice' ( wish that co#! !i&e as !ong as yo# o so that co#! share in yo#rmemories an ne&er !oose yo#%( she sobbe in his chest'

    (Maybe we co#! work on that% -weetheart'( ,ith that% she me!ts into his arms an he takes her to his own o!

    stateroom a $ew stries away $rom the brige' t was nothing b#t a simp!e one>beroom #nit with a mini>comman

    station t#cke away in one corner o$ the room' There was a three imensiona! i&ier that partitione it o$$ creating

    the !ook an $ee! o$ a m#ch !arger p!ace'

    -peaking into the air% he commans m#sic to be p!aye as he !eas her to the be an begins to pee! away $irst her

    c!othing then his own' A!tho#gh the m#sic is new to her% it seems $ami!iar a!! the same as it $!ows thro#gho#t her

    being whi!e they make passionate !o&e'

    CHAPTER 3

    (This meeting is not esigne to s;#abb!e o&er petty iss#es' ,e"re here to see how we can cooperate with one

    another'( Tony was getting a !itt!e ist#rbe with Aam !ate!y abo#t how he ha been so hosti!e towar the newcomers' 8h% s#re% their peop!e may ha&e attacke this ship an practica!!y wipe o#t the who!e crew% b#t to take it

    o#t on these was a i$$erent iss#e' -omething m#st ha&e happene $or him to react in this manner'

    (2es sir%( Paniri an Aam sai in #nison meek!y'

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    (:ow as was abo#t to say% we ha&e nee o$ repairs that the @#rbots an the reg#!ar workbots are #nab!e to per$orm'

    ,hat are yo#r peop!e ab!e to pro&ie% Paniri% in ret#rn $or a moest compensation9(

    Looking to the other e!egates $or reass#rance% he spoke #p' (,e are a#thori+e to gi&e yo# any an a!! s#pp!ies as

    neee' ,e ha&e the re;#ire minera!s an $aci!ities to pro#ce whate&er it is yo# nee'(

    (,e on!y re;#ire the neee minera!s since that is where o#r highest priority seems to be in restocking' Too m#chwas !ost when this ship was b!own to smithereens when h#ge portions were &apori+e' -ome o$ those missing areas

    happene to be where the storeho#ses were% so as yo# can see% that is where we m#st start' The @#rbots can o a!!

    the work at a m#ch $aster rate than any other e&ice co#! with a higher percentage o$ acc#racy which is what we

    are !ooking $or' :o ins#!t intene towars yo#r peop!e"s capabi!ities ambassaor'(

    (:one taken% Captain 5arnes' am intereste in how these @#rbots operate' ,o#! yo# a!!ow a emonstration or

    pro&ie technica! etai!s on their $#nction so that o#r scientists may come #p with a simi!ar esign9(

    ( ha&e a better iea'( Tony sai' (,hy on"t we pro&ie yo# with a $ew% say twenty #nits% as part o$ compensation

    $or ser&ices an materia!s s#pp!ie by yo#r e!egate wor!s'(

    (,e wo#! great!y appreciate that% sir' Are they se!$ appointe or is there a main comman e&ice that irects their

    actions9( A sma!! $ema!e inter6ecte mi!!y' -he was $rom a neighboring system whose wor! is participating inthis &ent#re as a sign o$ m#t#a! tr#st with hopes that a better economic str#ct#re wi!! e&e!op between these two

    species'

    (5oth%( Tony sai' ,e #se a centra! g#iance system with orchestrates the members as a who!e whi!e the ini&i#a!

    #nits ecie how it $#nction in that gi&en scenario' t is a !ow>!e&e! &ersion o$ arti$icia! inte!!igence'(

    ,ith the mention o$ arti$icia! inte!!igence% near!y e&ery eye t#rne on Aam' (He is not in the same category as the

    @#rbots' He is istinct an as separate as each one o$ #s are' He is a !i&ing% thinking% rationa!% ini&i#a! being whois acco#ntab!e $or his own actions' He is a!so the on!y one o$ his kin that was e&er b#i!t% 6#st as this ship was at the

    time' t is har to say what a&ances the peop!e $rom my wor! ha&e mae since o#r mission began G. years

    ago'( n the $o!!owing $ew secons three things happene' 1' ,ith a#ib!e gasps an &arie e*pressions isp!aye

    on their $aces% e&eryone present e*cept $or )era stare at him' G' The To!arians who ha&e ha some enco#nter withh#man>base c#!t#res be$ore were 6#st as shocke b#t i not make the same shocke e*pression' nstea% they

    ga&e a so$t gr#nt o$ acknow!egment to their mate' 3' As Aam hear the wor "rationa!" he knew his recent actionsan attit#es were being re$erre to an he mae a menta! note to isc#ss in pri&ate this &ery thing with the captain%

    $or he himse!$ ha a!so been concerne with his recent an #nnat#ra! o#tb#rsts'

    (Aam wi!! yo# prepare a !ist o$ what we are in nee o$ with their ;#antities s#$$icient eno#gh to tie #s o&er $or at

    !east a year"s worth% p!ease' Thank yo#' :ow% i$ there are no other areas o$ concern'''(

    (There is one item we sti!! ha&e not isc#sse% captain'(

    (An that wo#! be9(

    (,hat o yo# inten to o or where o yo# p!an go a$ter repairs are comp!ete9(

    (t has been ecie by the $o#r o$ #s to !ocate an ret#rn to my homewor!% Earth an gi&e back this great shipwhich they ha&e !oane #s G. years ago' $ they o not want it or #s% we wi!! initiate trae transactions on or ownwith those who o care to con#ct b#siness with #s' ,e a!so isc#sse e*p!oring a specia! area in space that no one

    e!se ha&e gone'( -eeing a $ew $aces !ight #p% he ae% (the iea o$ aing to o#r meager crew any who wish to 6oin

    #s in this &ent#re' $ there are% we wi!! accept any &o!#nteers wi!!ing to abie by the r#!es !ai own an e*p!aine

    in this oc#ment which a!! o$ yo# wi!! now recei&e'( Haning o#t two stacks o$ oc#ments% one $or each sie o$ thetab!e% he says that there wi!! be p!enty o$ time $or anyone to show #p in the ne*t $o#r !oca! weeks which o#ght to be

    p!enty o$ time $or the @#rbots to make s#$$icient repairs that wo#! enab!e a sa$e 6o#rney e!sewhere' A$ter sai time%

    they wi!! epart $or the To!arie system $or their response to this in&itation'

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    8#t o$ the twenty $i&e e!egates that were present% $i&e ha immeiate!y &o!#nteere !ea&ing ;#ite an impact on the

    rest' )era assigne them their !i&ing ;#arters accoring to physica! si+e an persona! pre$erences an then ga&e

    them a persona! to#r o$ the who!e ship' Later in the ay% a$ter they ha eaten% U!!ani con#cte a boy scan a!ong

    with a retina! scan to initiate the process o$ integrating them into the system'' A$ter a battery o$ tests wereaministere that etermine their capabi!ities% 3D photo D tags were pro&ie to esignate their ini&i#a! stations

    being assigne'

    The ship was esigne to ho! /. crew members easi!y% b#t Tony i not want too many aboar her a!! at once'nstea it wo#! be more pro#cti&e to ha&e them come in phases' This way% there wo#! not be an in$!#* o$ new

    &o!#nteers coming in which wo#! ina&ertent!y o&erwhe!m the new #ty>recreations o$$icer'

    5e$ore the e!egate party who were not 6oining as crew members b#t p!anne to ret#rn to their home wor!s !ea&e%a short to#r was con#cte by Enoer to in$orm them more c!ear!y as to what positions wo#! be a&ai!ab!e an what

    they might e*pect i$ the caniate were to 6oin' D#ring this time% a transmitting?recei&ing #nit was prepare an

    gi&en to each representati&e which ha the pri&i!ege o$ being a recr#iter' This e&ice wo#! a!!ow them to see which

    positions were sti!! a&ai!ab!e at any speci$ic time% an they were gi&en a short b#t intense c!ass session on how tooperate this new e&ice an to become com$ortab!e with its #se'

    ,hi!e the recr#iting e!egates?ambassaors were being instr#cte% Tony in$orme his new crew members that they

    co#! ret#rn to their perspecti&e home p!anets when their $ormer e!egates i% so that they may say their $arewe!!s

    an ret#rn with their persona! be!ongings% spo#se?$ami!y or !o&e one' -ince the e!egates were gi&en the task o$accepting &o!#nteers #ring the $o#r week perio% the new crew members were not to bring back with them any

    other ini&i#a! other than the a$orementione a!!owances #n!ess they went thro#gh the recr#iting o$$ice $irst' 5eing

    accepte was not i$$ic#!t' A!! a person ha to o was gi&e their wor o$ !oya!ty an honor% accept the conitions!ai own by their recr#iters in accorance to the g#ie!ines presente to them% an make s#re they o not ha&e any

    isease'

    < < < < $ingere hans to to#ch his wi$e where none other sho#! ha&e' 5eing ano#tgoing creat#re as he was% the -porechian ha grabbe her $anny as she went by' :ot on!y i she near!y ie $rom

    the shock o$ his to#ching her% b#t she r#ine a &ery sensiti&e ca!iper as it was roppe onto the corrior $!oor be$ore

    a crew member ha ina&ertent!y steppe on it' nowing that the coe $or inter>persona! contact was i$$erent with

    each race% he sche#!e a manatory session in one o$ the !arge con$erence rooms to teach a!! what is a!!owe anwhat wo#! not be to!erate'

    An ho#r be$ore the $irst assemb!y was bro#ght together% )era con&ince him that there co#!n"t be a worse

    p#nishment than shame $or what one has one wrong an knowing others knew abo#t it wo#! be a h#mb!inge*perience' As a res#!t he agree an they ecie to ha&e the g#i!ty man sit be$ore the assemb!y witho#t being

    &erba!!y acc#se o$ s#ch inappropriate beha&ior'

    To his shame an horror% =antor $o#n himse!$ sitting on the p!at$orm with two other ini&i#a!s who ha beenr#more in oing a no>no in some $orm or $ashion% with or towars an #na&ai!ab!e ini&i#a!' E&eryone was

    witho#t e*c#se $or they a!! knew who was a&ai!ab!e an who wasn"t #ring the two weeks they ha so $ar spent

    aboar ship be$ore epart#re ay'

    ,hen rea!i+ation $ina!!y s#nk in that his con#ct was to be mae known to e&eryone% it was $ar worse to be

    h#mi!iate an h#mb!e in $ront o$ his peers than it wo#! ha&e been to recei&e a harsh p#nishment' ,hat he in"t

    know was that none o$ two &io!ators with him were to be sing!e o#t as &io!ating a speci$ic no>no !ea&ing those inthe a#ience to s#spect the three o$ any one o$ the mentione o$$enses' @ining o#t he was sche#!e $or a!! three

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    assemb!ies was 6#st too m#ch $or him to bear so he went to apo!ogi+e be$ore both )era an Tony be$ore the ne*t

    assemb!y ho#r arri&e' n ret#rn% they concee that he ha !earne a !esson an no $#rther prosec#tion wo#!

    occ#r' Re!ie$ was e&ient on his $ace as he !e$t their ;#arters' Hearing his sho#ts o$ 6oy an re!ie$ as he !e$t their

    ;#arters tra&e!ing own the corriors% they 6#st smi!e at each other an waite $or the !ast one to come in !ookingmorti$ie an h#mb!e% asking to be c!eare $rom ha&ing to be p!ace #p in $ront o$ e&eryone again'

    ,hen the !ast one eparte as the prior two ha one% Tony says that they work we!! together a!most as be$ore'

    (5e$ore when%( she ye!pe'

    (,e!!% yo# know% be$ore a!! this happene'( Trying to so#n sincere b#t not con&incing her &ery we!!'

    (Are yo# saying what think yo#r saying9(

    (:ow ho! on there% ne&'''(

    ("m an immorta! too% is that what yo#K( she sai e*cite!y b#t with a twinge o$ anger s#r$acing'

    (Ho! on 6#st a secon% wi!! ya'(

    ( want the who!e tr#th an nothing b#t the tr#th' Do yo# hear me9 5eca#se so he!p me% "!!''' "!!'''( 5ranishing awo#n #p $ist reay to eck him with her in$amo#s !e$t hook'

    (8k% ok'( 5oy% in a!! his !ong !i$e he ne&er co#! $ig#re o#t why he kept choosing her among other $ema!es' (Let"sstart o$$ with this sha!! we9 ,hat is the ear!iest memory yo# ha&e o$ #s being together9(

    (That"s simp!e' ,e $irst met a !itt!e o&er%( she pa#ses to per$orm a menta! ca!c#!ation% ($i&e years ago on Erionis

    when yo# came to restock yo#r ship' At !east that"s what yo# sai yo# were there $or' ,e b#mpe into each other inthe -pacer"s Home Cooking resta#rant' was a pi!ot in training an yo# ecie to take me on which a year !ater we

    marrie'(

    (8k' ,hat o yo# remember o$ yo#r chi!hoo9(

    (''' remember a room with wa!!s twink!ing a!! abo#t' There peop!e on!y a $ew peop!e that took care o$ me' on"tremember my parents tho#gh'( -cr#nching #p here brow with eyes c!ose% she tries to reca!! more witho#t s#ccess'

    (t seems as tho#gh yo# are an orphan'(

    (Come on% stop ho!ing o#t on me' i&e it a!! to me% wi!! ya'(

    (Come with me%( he says as he takes her arm !eaing her to a &ery pri&ate room'

    (How come we ne&er came across this room be$ore9 How i yo# open this oor a'''9( As she comes thro#gh the

    porta! she stops ea in her tracks' nsie is a n#rsery o$ sorts b#t with o&ersi+e toys p!ace in &ario#s areas anbright!y co!ore !ights that capt#re the attention o$ the inhabitants' (,hat is this p!ace% Tony9( -he says somewhat

    $ear$#! o$ hearing the tr#th% a!most s#re she has been here be$ore'

    ,ith resignation in his &oice% he b!#rts o#t% (This is where the $ema!es wo#! come #ring their re6#&enation periosto regain certain motor ski!!s' A ma!e immorta! wo#! not nee this en&ironment% b#t take their !ea&e in their

    ;#arters $or a $ew ays to rec#perate $rom the switch>o&er'(

    (Tony% o yo# mean to say am an immorta! a!so9 That e*p!ains these !ights which are beginning to !ook so$ami!iar to me% an remembering on!y a $ew peop!e that came to take care o$ me'(

    (2es' 2o# see% when a $ema!e goes thro#gh the re6#&enation process% it is more o$ten than the ma!es' That mayacco#nt $or their e*periencing a chi!!ike response in which one o$ the sie a$$ects is !oosing near!y a!! memory

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    #ring the $ew ays they are rec#perating' The e$$ect #s#a!!y !asts $or many years therea$ter' That is why yo# co#!

    not remember anything a$ter yo#r "to!er" perio to 6#st be$ore yo#r years o$ training% other than this room' Am

    right9(

    (Are''' are yo# te!!ing me this beca#se am #e $or another episoe9(

    (:o% not at a!!'( Too !ate' -he begins to s#!k an cry si!ent!y' (Ah% honey come here% it"s 6#st the way things are $or

    now'( Ho!ing her tight an gi&ing reass#ring noises% he says% (Aam an a $ew o$ the new crew members aretrying esperate!y to correct this iscrepancy by making it possib!e $or yo# to retain a!! yo#r memory an to reco&er

    something o$ yo#r past'(

    (Rea!!y9( hicc#p

    (2es' Rea!!y' Look'''( -eeing a $a&orite o$ her "toys" $rom what the aministrators ha to! Aam% he retrie&es it

    $rom its s!otte she!$ an says% (remember how yo# a!ways !o&e this one9( t was a we!!>#se

    ,ith a b#rst o$ #n#tterab!e 6oy% she tears it o#t o$ his hans an ho!s it to her breast' Looking #p into her h#sbanKs

    eyes% she e*periences a $!ashback o$ the times he wo#! come pick her #p $rom this p!ace an take her "home" >their

    pri&ate stateroom' ( 6#st remembere something' wo#! a!ways be ho!ing this in my arms waiting $or the time

    when wo#! yo# picke me #p $rom this !one!y p!ace'(

    (2o# sai my memory% what abo#t yo#r memory9 2o# starte to ha&e memory reca!! be$ore getting +appe by that

    !aser beam' Co#! that work $or me% an imp!ant mean9(

    (That is one a&en#e they are !ooking into' Another is a e&ice #se whi!e re$orming isr#pti&e peop!e'(

    (Any s#ccess9( she aske'

    (:one wo#! want to try on yo#' Hey% think know what we both co#! #se right abo#t now' Are yo# game9(

    (-#re% anything' J#st as !ong as we get away $rom here'( -he ;#ippe'

    CHAPTER 4

    A$ter two weeks o$ non>stop orientation o$ the nineteen new crew members that ha &o!#nteere $rom the p!anet o$

    To!aries% theExquisitorheae $or the p!anet Terra or more common!y ca!!e Earth 1F parsecs away' The c!oser

    they came to the tiny b!#e ba!! o$ a wor!% Tony an )era were becoming a!! the more an*io#s' They i not knowwhat to e*pect $rom these peop!e who ha gi&en them birth an immorta!ity'

    As a month progresse in $!ight% the meica! team ha $ina!!y mae heaway as they isco&ere a way to restore

    )eraKs tr#e se!$ as in the beginning years' The proce#re a!!e&iate the re6#&enation episoes o$ chi!!ike emeanor%b#t it i pre&ent !ong term memory !oss' There were a $ew !apses $rom some e*periences% b#t at !east she ha those

    memories back an she was grate$#! $or them >>we!!% $or some o$ them anyhow' -he inKt !ike ha&ing to remember

    the massacre on boar an the e*treme meas#res Tony an a $ew $aith$#! ones ha to meet o#t in orer to tie thepanic that s#r$ace whi!e passing thro#gh a neb#!ae o$ green an p#rp!e gasses' -omehow% these gases was ab!e topro#ce in near!y e&eryone a ne#rotic attit#e ca#sing h#nres o$ eaths be$ore it co#! be stoppe' The ta!ente

    ones an ear $riens that were !ost% their absence was $e!t &ery eep!y as i$ it were 6#st yesteray' ,hat she

    co#!nKt remember tho#gh% Tony was wi!!ing to s#pp!y a!! too eager!y' That seeme to he!p a!!e&iate the pain o$

    !oss'

    @ort#nate!y $or a!!% their 6o#rney was abo#t to en b#t their a&ent#re ha not'

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    < < < < manne to its $#!! capacity

    consisting o$ ambassaors an scientists which wo#! accompany the crew to those wor!s that Tony an the rest

    ha&e come across in hopes o$ arranging $rien!y a!!iances an share sciences'

    NMr' 5arnes' ,hy is it yo# ha&e ne&er ret#rne sooner than now9O An ine*perience aministrator aske'

    N,e ha enco#ntere a n#mber o$ interesting things a!ong o#r 6o#rney' ,e were s#cke into a &orte* that prope!!e

    my ship 0 origina! crew past the norma! warp capacity an were $!#ng o#t towar a &ery eso!ate area o$ the#ni&erse' As some o$ yo# scientists know% when one approaches the spee o$ !ight% time s!ows own ramatica!!y

    $or the ones oing the tra&e!ing' 8n o#r ret#rn to an area where we tho#ght !i$e might e*ist% a species ina&ertent!y

    ec!are war on o#r ship abo#t G. years ago% shipKs time that is' The ship was amage beyon the reso#rces

    remaining on o#r ship #nti! abo#t three months ago' wonKt go into great etai!s b#t the species that committe waron o#r &esse! ha&e now mae amens an are no !onger a anger to #s' ,e ha&e a $ew o$ their kin a!ong with other

    species besies these yo# see here which ha&e ecie to stay onboar $or now' A!! o$ them ha&e come a!ong as

    representati&es to o what was a!reay s#ggeste here at this tab!e an to take part in e*p!oring the cosmos with

    me'O

    NThatKs ;#ite a story% sir' ,o#! yo# be wi!!ing to share the techno!ogy yo#r ship consists o$ with #s so that we toomay e*p!ore space9O

    N te!! yo# what' $ a wor! !ike this can come together into one go&ernment $or the we!!>being o$ the who!e p!anet%

    then wo#! consier it'O

    Ns there no other prere;#isite9O

    N:o'O

    NThen !et me ass#re yo#%O Amira! Torence sai% Nwe ha&e inee come #ner one go&ernment as yo# can see $romo#r i&erse gro#p'O

    Nt is then my p!eas#re to intro#ce that techno!ogy% which yo#r $ore$athers ha&e e&e!ope an !ost% $or the bene$ito$ a!! on this wor!'O

    NHow o yo# p!an to o this9O sai the scientist who began arg#ing with Aam at the beginning'

    N,e wi!! $#rnish the necessary man#a!s an a!!ow sche#!e gro#ps o$ yo#r scientists to inspect the engine roomsan anywhere e!se they wish $or integration into yo#r present ay ships' There wonKt be any e*terior esign changes

    in yo#r ships since the e;#ipment wi!! probab!y take #p !ess room than what yo# present!y #se' n $act% yo# wi!! $in

    that yo# can o with a!ot !ess than what yo# present!y ha&e to work% with !ea&ing room $or personne! an otheramenities% s#ch as recreationa! rooms'

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    N2o# ha&e recreationa! rooms aboar9O the Amira! aske'

    NThe way see it% one has to keep acti&e% both menta!!y an physica!!y the same as those who are p!anetsie' ,eha&e two rec rooms andtwo ho!ographic rooms'O

    NAt what !e&e! are yo#r ho!o rooms9O the sma!! scientist in;#ire'

    N5oth are o$ the !e&e! 4 &ersion'O

    ,ith a s#en stir $rom the we!coming gro#p% phrases s#ch as% NthatKs impossib!eO Nincreib!eO N$antasticO Ns#ch

    techno!ogyO co#! be hear $rom a!!% ca#sing Tony to smi!e inwar!y as he !ooke at his companions'

    NLaies an gent!emen' ,o#! yo# !ike to samp!e one o$ o#r ho!o rooms now9O :ear!y a!! accente' N-ha!! we go

    then9O

    Looking o#t the partia!!y opene oor $or any !ingering cameramen% the Amira! wa&e them onwar to the e!e&ator

    oors' As they 6o#rneye own the ha!!way% he sai% N 6#st etest these newspeop!e nowaays' A!! they e&er go $or

    are $antastic bits o$ news that ha&e !itt!e to with rea! iss#es or e&en bother to obtain comp!ete $acts'O

    Looking at )era% Tony ro!!s his eyes an whispers in her ear% N can see how they might on!y obtain partia! bits o$in$ormation the way he p#she them away $rom #s ear!ier'O

    N2eah% know what yo# mean'O

    NAmira!%O he spoke #p so that a!! may hear% Nwhen wi!! we be a!!owe to ha&e a $orma! press con$erence with the

    p!anetKs news networks9O

    NAct#a!!y% we cannot a!!ow s#ch a thing' They 6#st onKt ha&e the capacity to pass on the necessary in$ormation to

    the citi+ens o$ this wor! in a mat#re an rea!istic $ashion'O

    N5#t Amira!% how can they o so i$ they arenKt gi&en the opport#nity to hear the $acts #ni!#te9O

    The crow stops in mistrie an worrie!y !ooks at the newcomer then at the Amira!' The !atter on!y smi!esbenign!y an says that this is the way things are one here'

    nsie TonyKs min% a!arms are going o$$ !e$t an right' -omething isnKt right here%K he thinks' 8#t !o# he says%

    Nn$ormation o#ght to mae a&ai!ab!e to a!!% regar!ess o$ their position in !i$e' Km not saying that e&eryone o#ght

    to recei&e a comp!ete r#nown o$ o#r weapons capabi!ities or the !e&e! o$ o#r meica! know!ege am saying that

    the p#b!ic o#ght to know that we are here not to con;#er this wor! or to take o&er% on!y to #pgrae the ;#a!itiy o$!i$e an to assist in impro&ing techno!ogy'O

    T#rning aro#n he says brie$!y% N2es'O

    NHmm%O he says' Tony has to get to the bottom o$ things be$ore they begin to impro&e their techno!ogy% something

    so#n $ishy to him' As they e*it the !i$t% he s#mmons the ma!e To!arian an e*p!ains ;#iet!y what he s#spects then

    gi&es his instr#ction in how to han!e it'

    N2es Captain%O he m#rm#rs then o$$ he goes'

    N,here is yo#r $rien going Captain9O the Amira! asks chi!!ike'

    NThere are a $ew things he neee to check #p on' D#ty ca!!s% as they say'O -witching gears% he s#ggests they #se

    the ho!o room on eck $o#r which is c!osest to their !ocation' t a!so has the best scenarios' NAre there any

    s#ggestions as to what to e*perience9O Hearing none% he s#ggests the N-pacerKs ConnectionO $rom Tano#' t was acombination o$ a bar% resta#rant% b#siness ga!!ery an hote!'

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    As the oor opene% repeate NoohsO an NahsO co#! be hear' nsie% the atmosphere was so rea!% one co#! not

    te!! what character were rea! an which were not' A bea#ti$#! $ema!e wa!t+e #p to one o$ the members o$ the

    we!come committee an s!#ng her arm o&er his sho#!er an aske i$ he was new to Tano#' :ot knowing what e!seto say% he m#rm#re that yes he was b#t that he wasnKt intereste' At that% the woman !ooke at him in a ;#eer

    manner an #pon recogni+ing the Captain% she t#rne an we!come him an his gro#p'

    NCatrina% we arenKt here to p!ay this time' These peop!e are $rom Terra an wo#! 6#st !ike to !ook aro#n abit anmaybe ha&e a mea!'O The !atter he !ooke his gro#ps way as i$ asking i$ that wo#! be a!right' 5eing seate in a

    pri&ate con$erence room that was set apart $rom the mainstream o$ acti&ity they orere an res#me their

    con&ersation'

    NCaptain% am to be!ie&e that the $oo we 6#st orere wi!! be rea!9O Commaner De!#er in;#ire' He was

    responsib!e $or a!! ships engage with the re$it o$ a!! o#tate &esse!s'

    N2es sir' A!tho#gh we are in a ho!o room% the $oo is generate thro#gh the $oo processors 6#st as i$ we were in aca$eteria' ,hatKs wrong9O He sai seeing the !ooks on their $aces'

    [email protected] processors9O the commaner sai' NAre yo# saying that what was orere wi!! be synthesi+e by a

    machine9O

    N,hy% yes' snKt that how yo# recei&e yo#r $oo these ays9O

    A scientist seeing a chance% spoke #p saying% N,e grow it% har&est it% an cook it o#rse!&es' The way we were meantto'O

    NTe!! me' ,here o the ingreients come $rom that enab!e this synthesi+ing9O

    N,e stock o#r ship with the ingreients that comprises what yo# ca!!Q a carrot% an orange% an app!e% spinach% pasta%

    meat% &itamins% etc'''O pa#sing $or e$$ect% he conti#es% Na!! these ingreients can be $o#n in the $oos one eats an

    are $o#n thro#gho#t the #ni&erse in minera!s e*tracte $rom the soi!' t is pro#ce ;#icker an can be re$ine

    accoring to persona! taste witho#t the mess' $ something is not #se b#t thrown away% it is recyc!e' :othing iswaste'O

    NThat is tr#!y increib!e%O a scientist that was seate across $rom Tony !ooking enthra!!e with a!! this new

    in$ormation an e*cite!y states' NDo yo# rea!i+e what this means% Amira!9 H#nger can now be a thing o$ the pastan pro#ction is not epenent on weather patterns' ,e can now $oc#s o#r main attention on other concerns'O

    N:ot so $ast% Dr' Maner' ,e onKt know how the wor! wi!! respon to a!! this new techno!ogy' @or a!! we know%

    they might not want to accept anything these newcomers ha&e to o$$er' ,e m#st integrate this s!ow!y into society soas not to o&erwhe!m e&eryone'O

    NAmira!% that is prepostero#s7O The 5otanica! Aministrator tr#mpe' NAny new a&ances wi!! be we!come by

    the ma6ority' 8h s#re% there ha&e a!ways been those who re$#se to progress% $ighting any new thing that camea!ong' As a who!e tho#gh% these new a&ances sho#! be integrate into o#r society accompanie with

    oc#mentaries an instr#ctiona! seminaries to instr#ct the pop#!ace o$ their $#nctions an the practica! bene$its o$

    ha&ing them a&ai!ab!e'O

    ,ith accenting m#rm#rs $rom the rest o$ the gro#p% the Amira! sits sti!! in contemp!ation $or a $ew moments% then

    amits in ob&io#s e$eat% N s#ppose yo#Kre right' sho#! not be so hesitant in accepting new ieas an

    techno!ogies when others in the ma6ority sees that it is $or the goo o$ a!! that we procee'O ,ith a hea&y heart he

    apo!ogi+ers' [email protected]&e me Captain $or being so harheae in accepting these ieas' These past $ew ecaes intechno!ogy ha&e pro&en to be chaotic an as a res#!t ha!te o#r $orwar progression' Many ha&e re$#se to go

    where we ha&e ne&er gone be$ore to o#r etriment% s#ppose'O

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    NAmira!' can #nerstan what yo#Kre saying' m#st agree with the others tho#gh' t has been note that when a

    society re$#ses to a&ance when the opport#nity arises% they are #s#a!!y !e$t behin an sometimes $orgotten by the

    who!e' Might s#ggest that a!ong with instr#ctiona! seminars an &ieo presentations on the &arie s#b6ects% we

    pro&ie to#rs o$ the genera! p#b!ic &ia a ho!ographic presentation' ,e can #p!icate ho!o rooms $or yo# p!anetsiethat can be !inke to this ship which wi!! enab!e the to#rist to e*perience what it wo#! be !ike to act#a!!y set $oot on

    a spaceship s#ch as this one' They wo#!nKt know any i$$erence' ,e co#! ha&e it begin the moment they step

    thro#gh the porta! o$ the ho!o room' t wo#! be as i$ they were entering one o$ the space stationKs hangar bays%

    thro#gh a sim#!ate sh#tt!e rie% the ocking an entry into a sim#!ation o$ this ship' As yo# can see% this &ery roomseems &ery rea! to yo#' Am correct9O ,ith nos coming $rom a!!% they begin the mea! that was ser&e to them% as

    attrib#tes o$ the ho!o room are isc#sse'

    A$ter the mea!% they !ea&e the ho!o room to contin#e their to#r o$ the ship then the gro#p is instr#cte on the p!ans torepro#ce the !ook an $ee! o$ their enco#nter with theExquisitorin a ho!o room' A $ew secons a$ter the !ast

    &isitor ha !e$t the o$$icerKs con$erence room% a piece o$ o$$ice ecor which was statione near the oorway begins to

    wa&er in $orm an e&ent#a!!y takes on the shape o$ a person an approaches the shipKs captain' NTirone% what o

    yo# think o$ a!! this9O

    Tirone is an ini&i#a! $rom )eriian F who is a shapeshi$ter an capab!e o$ e!&ing into the &ery heart o$ the matter

    with an #nbiase perspecti&e' NThe peop!e who were present in the committee appeare sincere yet hesitant' 8nce

    the iea o$ pro&iing seminars an a sim#!ate to#r $or a!! earth habitants &ia the ho!o rooms to be istrib#te

    strategica!!y% they a!! re!a*e signi$icant!y'O

    -eeing his !ook o$ concern% he prompts him $or more% Ns there something e!se yo# wish to a9O

    N2es sir% there is' be!ie&e it wo#! be pr#ent to keep yo#r eye on the Amira!' He oes not seem to be as

    comp!iant nor as open>mine as the others to accept these new a&ances' A!tho#gh he is wi!!ing to o something

    $or his peop!e% he is torn in two between the two ma6or $actions on the earth' That is a!!% sir'O

    NThank yo#'O T#rning to Enoer% the To!arian% he asks $or his report on the p!anetKs e$enses' ,hen he makes his

    $inings known to the captain% he too eparts !ea&ing the captain to absorb an process the in$ormation' Aam co#!

    be gi&en that task% b#t nothing co#! rep!ace the h#man to#ch o$ int#iti&e reasoning s#ch as a h#man or a

    commaner o$ a ship'

    Ret#rning p!anetsie% the committee members are sti!! ab#++ with e*citement as they ret#rn to their perspecti&e#ties' -ome o$ them were to initia!i+e training programs on e&ices isc#sse aboar that ma6estic ship o#t in

    space' At the same time% others began gathering the appropriate newscasters an the personne! that wi!! moerateshows which wi!! isc#ss the new an #pcoming techno!ogica! a&ances that are to be integrate into society'

    ,ith a brie$ enco#nter with Amira! Torrence recti$ie% a!! progress commence smooth!y' ,ith the ens#ing si*

    months% $o#r ships were b#i!t whi!e twenty !ightships were moi$ie to accept the new techno!ogy coming $rom TheExquisitor' :ear the comp!etion o$ the $o#r new ships% Tony an his crew was gi&en a gran $arewe!! which they

    immeiate!y !e$t the system to 6o#rney o#twar in $#rther space e*p!oration' Their commissionQ to seek o#t

    inte!!igent !i$e$orms $or aition to the new con$eeration o$ p!anets to e*p!ore new areas o$ space an bring back

    this new in$ormation that may enhance e&eryoneKs !i&es'

    As The Exquisitorneare the o#ter p!anets% the crew behe! the bea#ti$#! b!#e ba!! which became the epicenter o$ a!!

    combine techno!ogies'

    Looking into the eyes o$ )era his wi$e with the rea!i+ation that they were once more abo#t to go where no one $rom

    this part o$ the ga!a*y ha e&er gone be$ore% Tony t#rns to his astrogator with a ;#i++ica! !ook on his $ace an

    ec!ares% NLt' Carory% p!ot the prescribe co#rse into the comp#ter an engage warp engines to $actor I'O

    NAye% -ir' Engaging engines to warp $actor I'O

    As the shipKs engines engage% there was a brie$ isp!ay o$ rainbow co!ors which eng#!$e them% then they weregone in a bright white $!ash'

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