Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 26: D18X
November 26, 2016, 23:56
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Technology, Travel, Writing | Tags: ,

 

The General was still on D18X. I began to suspect the station was more than the Dilithium processing plant it appeared to be. I wondered how coincidental my first encounter with General Sikorsky had actually been. I hadn’t batted an eyelid at the number of military vessels docked at, or coming in and out of the station. It is obvious that something of such strategic value would be protected and that there were military vessels among those docking to have their fuel rods replaced was hardly remarkable. The activity on D18X would be the perfect cover for the comings and goings of Deep Space Tactical.

I had moved Anya’s stuff into the other cabin so that she could share it with her fiance. My cabin felt empty, no Anya, no cats. You might thing I would be used to being alone, I am, but it’s amazing how quickly you can get to enjoy company. The voyage was surprisingly uneventful after the past few weeks. Still I was glad when at last we were directed to a dock away from other vessels and not overlooked by public areas. Before we left the ship Anya donned her headscarf and glasses wrapping the scarf around her face. She put on a bulky combat jacket too. I asked her what she was doing.

“I’ve put so much work into building my cover as an out and out baddy it would be a shame just to throw it away now.” She said.

“Life will be quieter without you.” I responded and added, “Actually the journey here was very quiet.”

She laughed and caressed my face, “I had finished building my cover. We had fun, didn’t we?”

“We did.” I smiled, “I shall miss you Anya.”

“But I’m just one of hundreds and the memory will fade. You are special and I will remember you as long as I live. Which, let’s face it, may not be long.”

I think she may have had a tear in her eye as she walked away.

Once I had stowed my stuff in the room allocated to me a young officer came to escort me to the General. I tried to engage her in conversation, but all she would say was that the General wanted to talk with me. As I entered his office Sikorsky stood and walked to his antique cocktail cabinet,

“Can I offer you a drink?” He asked.

“Do you have anything resembling whisky?”

“I have a genuine single malt, from Earth.” He replied, showing me the bottle.

“How old is it?”

“Well it’s aged for twenty years, so I suppose it’s nearly two hundred years old. It’s quite beautiful.” Sikorsky sniffed his glass as he passed mine to me. All I could think was that if it was only two hundred years old it had been distilled long after the Diaspora. Were there still humans on Earth, still distilling whisky? I said nothing. I suddenly realised the General was talking to me.

“… I don’t know whether to be pleased or angry with you Cain. I guessed from your intervention about the grenades that it was too late to contain the stealth tech even by destroying the launch. However were it not for your data package we would have been still sitting around the planet when the militias attacked using our own cloaking technology. Now at least we have a negotiating channel open, we may be able to reach some sort of deal with the Militias…”

“It’s only Alabama.” I interjected.

“Where Alabama leads the others tend to follow.” Said the General that’s why the government was so determined to shut them down. Fat lot of good that did anyone, but now perhaps we can do with kindness what we failed by force. Once we knew they’d shared the tech it was easy enough to sacrifice the ship, but of course, I couldn’t let that old fox Oldman know that. What do you think?”

“I think the Empire would do well to get Oldman on side.”

“Oh really, why?” Asked the General.

“The last thing he said to me.”

“What was that?”

“He said, ‘Cain, I think your data transmission made a success of the negotiation.’ I don’t know how he knew I’d sent one or why, if he knew I was going to, he didn’t stop me!” I smiled.

General Sikorsky looked stunned and then started to laugh.

For some time we just chatted about the old days – the old days to men like Sikorsky and Oldman, recent history to me – and his friendship with the Senator. After a while he got his mind back onto business. It seemed Friedland’s intelligence confirmed that the people of Alabama were tired of the long stand off which augured well for the upcoming negotiations.

“Oldman says he would be happy for you to be there.” Said the General.

“I think it’s time I moved on.” I said, “Is Professor Friedland’s mission going ahead now his son is safe?”

“Well if you’re absolutely sure you won’t join the negotiations there’s a light cruiser leaving D18X in two days to join the expedition. I shall confirm your berth.”

“How’s Anya, Miss Jog?” I asked.

“Young Friedland is happy to have her back. However she thinks that her current status as the Empire’s number three most wanted fugitive might be useful to DST and I agree. Beyond that I can tell you nothing except that she says she enjoyed working with you and she’ll miss you.”

“Yes, I suppose it was fun…in a sort of adrenaline fuelled panic way. Personally I prefer a little less excitement. Now if you would have my records sealed apart from the most recent ones, by the time we reach Sigma no one will know who I am.” I said.

“As agreed.” Responded the General and gave the order to seal all but the last forty years. When the console requested his authorisation Sikorsky typed in a code, turned to me and said,

“All done! I don’t suppose we’ll meet again after you leave. I know we won’t. I’ll try and say ‘Goodbye’ but if I don’t see you before you go, ‘Good luck!” He shook my hand.

“Thank you Sir. And good luck with the negotiations.”

“Above my pay grade I’m afraid. They’ll be led by an Imperial Ambassador, but I’ll be in the party.”

As I reached the end of the corridor I looked over my shoulder to see the General still standing in the doorway. As I rounded the corner he turned away, back into his office and for a moment I felt as if I could see the huge weight of responsibility he bore sitting upon his shoulders like the Old Man of The Sea.”

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