Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 28: Eva
November 29, 2016, 00:43
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Technology, Travel, Writing | Tags: ,

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Two days later I went to board the Intergalactic Cruiser ‘Britannia’ this time at one of the public docks where, it seemed, the whole population of the station had come to see it off. I had sent my bags on earlier, but I carried a backpack stuffed with my share of the treasure from mine and Anya’s expedition. I gave her two thirds as I thought she’d have more use of it than I.

General Sikorsky had managed to make the departure and was talking to an attractive young woman wearing a Science Corps Uniform she had long, dark hair and wide smile. As I approached he saw me and called out,

“Hello Cain, good to see you. May I introduce my daughter Eva, she’s on the Sigma Mission as well. I’d be grateful if you’d keep an eye on her, old chap!”

“I am perfectly capable of looking after myself, Father!” Eva objected, “I’m not a little girl any more.”

“You will always be my little girl.” said the old man his eyes momentarily glistening as he hugged her. Just as quickly he let her go and turned to me again,

“Cain you’ll be on the Britannia for a couple of weeks. When you rendezvous with the expedition you’ll transfer to the Roddenberry for the journey. You’ll like the Roddenberry, brand new, just passed out of her trials with flying colours.”

“Civilian ship, Sir?” I asked.

“Colonial Transport. Ten thousand passenger Stasis pods and another five hundred for use of crew and other non civilian personnel. Seed bank – there’s another on the ‘Montgomery’ – and one of the three terraforming units. She could actually mount an expedition alone. The best thing is that she doesn’t need a crew in deep space because of the auto pilot. Obviously there will be a skeleton crew at those times, but there is a hibernation rota. I thought you’d prefer it if I had you appointed outside of the chain of command as an expert in space colonisation, I’ve also given you DST credentials so you should be able to do as you please, more or less.” the General said.

“That’s the way I like it. Thank you General.”

“No thank you, Just make sure you look after Eva.”

“Of course. Does she like a bedtime story?” I asked with a grin.

“She will take care of her own bedtime, thank you.” Said the General firmly.

“Well goodbye, Vladimir. Have fun.” I said to the General and to Eva, “See you on board!”

“Have fun?” Grumbled Sikorsky, “I’ll be too busy negotiating with Militants thanks to you!” He saluted, but as I wasn’t wearing a hat I merely raised my hand and turned to board the Britannia.

There was a time – many centuries ago – when I used to be surprised at how young people in authority looked, but you’re only sixty once, besides these days everybody’s young even the old ones. The captain of the Britannia – Daniel Charles Dodson, known universally as ‘DC’ – looked young, but he had the eyes of a man who has experienced much. I checked his file and he was young for such a prestigious command at only twenty seven, his eyes suggested he had earned his position. He had allocated me to the ‘Admiral’s Suite’ generally reserved for Admirals and visiting dignitaries. I suspected the General was responsible a suspicion confirmed when I discovered the second bedroom of the Suite had been allocated to Eva Sikorsky. I put my rucksack in the secure locker in my bedroom and then followed the rating who had escorted me to the suite, to meet the Captain on the Bridge. Dodson stood to greet me.

“I’m sorry Sir, I’m not sure how to address you. The General gave me a list of the ranks you’ve held, but I’m not sure which to use.”

“I am a civilian now, Captain. Just call me Cain.”

“A civilian? If you say so, Sir.” He looked sceptical then added with a smile. “My friends generally call me DC.”

“So you’re a bit of a Superman?”

“I’m sorry, Sir?” DC looked puzzled.

“Never mind…and it’s just Cain.”

DC told me that O’Niall the rating escorting me had been allocated as Steward to the suite and that if I wished he would give me a conducted tour of the ship. The tour lasted until just before we lifted off and then I returned to the Bridge to watch the station grow smaller as we gracefully entered clear space. When we were well clear of the station the Britannia turned, DC ordered ‘Full Ahead’ and we leaped into deep space on our way to rendezvous with the rest of the expeditionary fleet. I sat for a while on the Bridge and then went back to the suite for a rest.

I was surprised to find Eva in the main cabin which served as both a lounge and office. She was lying on the sofa reading her tablet.

“Oh!” I said, “I thought this was my suite.”

“My Father had me allocated the other cabin,” said Eva, “I don’t think he trusts me.”

“I think he trusts you, he just wants to make sure you’re safe. Fathers are like that.”

She smiled, “He is a bit of a softy, sometimes. A big teddy bear”

“Trust me, he’s more of a Grizzly!”

“Fiercely protective?” She asked.

“Fierce, just fierce.” I replied.

O’Niall knocked and came in to see if we wanted him to unpack for us. However I always kept my Steamer Trunk packed and my other bags I preferred to deal with myself and Eva had already unpacked. He looked disappointed so I asked if we might have a drink. Behind one of the doors on the the fitted unit in the lounge was a drinks cabinet and below it, a fridge.

“General sent this for you, Sir.” announced O’Niall flourishing a bottle of Talisker. Again I found myself wondering just what the state of Earth really was. I couldn’t believe machines could distil like that, but the Cybertrons were very sophisticated, perhaps they could, but why would they?…O’Niall’s voice broke into my thoughts,

“I was wondering what you’d like in your whisky, Sir. I’ve got ginger ale, soda, water, lemo…” the expression on my face froze the words in his mouth.

“No, good god no!” I gasped. “Nothing, nothing, nothing at all!”

Eva burst out laughing, “You’re worse than my Dad and I thought he was a whisky snob!”

“There’s nothing snobby about Talisker,” I objected, “But I’m not a heathen either!”

O’Niall kindly provided a list of the serving times in the mess, but pointed out that he could serve us in the suite any time we liked. I preferred on the whole to eat in the mess as it gave me an opportunity to get the measure of the people round about me. On the occasions DC was eating at the same time as we were he’d insist on our sitting at the Captain’s table, otherwise I tended to sit at a different table each time. I wondered how long the fresh food would last before we went onto deep space rations. In deep space half the crew would be in Stasis at any one time and the other half would work in three eight hour shifts, but that was still a lot of mouths to feed.

The good thing about the Captain’s table was meeting the passengers the Empire considered important. I took an instant dislike to the appointed Governor of the future colony, to some extent because he made the mistake of being offensive to both Eva and myself. Osbourne was a career diplomat and every colonial expedition had a few to handle the new administration. It was their tendency to abuse their positions that had caused most of the various rebellions that had occurred in several colonies. He objected to my having the Admiral’s suite while he the future Governor was relegated to a cabin.

DC objected that he had been allocated a suite.

“A lesser suite. I am the Governor. or will be and expect to be treated as befits my status.” He almost shouted, the whole mess was watching with interest.

I was about to reply to Osbourne, but DC spoke first, “How many colonies have you governed?”

“None as yet, However I have been a senior diplomat, a Departmental Secretary, for many years.”

DC spoke again, his tone measured, but cold. “I think if you check his record you’ll find Cain has governed several as well as conducting the expeditions that won them.”

“That’s easy to say. I can’t check his record because it’s sealed.” Sneered the diplomat.

DC smiled and said loudly enough for the neighbouring tables to hear. “The records are only sealed to those not senior enough to have clearance to access them.” The diplomat deflated somewhat and then became subdued as DC continued, “and had you access to his war records you might never have opened your mouth.”

As Osbourne muttered something about having heard rumours, I am pleased I couldn’t hear. DC concluded with, “Perhaps you should ask yourself why alone of the expedition Cain is outside of both military and civil command structures?”

I couldn’t resist a small dig, “At least you have the comfort of knowing that when you are in stasis on the Roddenberry I will be keeping an eye on you.”

DC then threw in, “Exactly how many men have you killed, Cain?”

“There is a reason those records are sealed…the rumours are bad enough.”

Strangely I didn’t see very much of Osbourne after that.

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