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#61

Salsha did a bow in return, and answered in Henthshraq, “I am Salsha daughter of Malsian, soon to be the liaison linguistics officer on the Memphis.” Georf was impressed. To him it was obvious this was the first time Salsha had ever encountered a Henthshraq, yet she composed herself very well where he had seen others of her race greatly fail to do so.

Maro’han’s smile grew even wider and said with a very satisfied voice, “The Memphis must be a very lucky ship already to receive such a liaison officer as yourself, Salsha. I am very glad to make your acquaintance. I do beg pardon once again for interrupting your conversation, but there is an urgent manner in which I would to talk to the President about.”

Drelsharal face barely hid the fact that she was livid. “Ambassador Maro’han, the President and I were in a discussion of importance as well. I am sure whatever matter you need to discuss can wait till after we have finished. There is a food buffet at the end of the dance hall, please feel free to satisfy yourself several times over until we are done.” Georf knew that Seccuvains are a vegetarian race, and the fact that Henthshraq generally appear to be far more carnivorous than they were, did not add to their favorability between the two species.


#62

Maro’han turned and looked up to her fellow Ambassador and gave a polite smile before saying, “Oh I intend to visit the generous buffet provided soon. It does take a very large meal to give me enough energy to use this slim, athletic body of mine. Sometimes still, it is difficult for me to obtain a full meal, which does not help my youthful look. As much as I would like too though, the matter in which I need to discuss with the President must come before my hunger.” Georf could now freely laugh to himself since Drelsharal could not read him anymore. By the Seccuvain’s reaction, Maro’han managed to push a few buttons with her comments. Drelsharal then said something else which was not translated, but Maro’han responded in the same language.

Although both kept a civil face, the look Salsha started to express showed that conversation was beginning to take a nasty turn. Before he could react, it was Salsha who said, “Mr. President, I thank you for taking into consideration my needs when assigning me to the Memphis. I am happy to learn more about the differences and similarities about our races. I am now convinced after meeting you that putting me on a segregated ship would be counterproductive to the goals of the fleet you are creating. Sorry to have bothered you on this matter.”

Drelsharal looked at her with a bit of surprise and her custom annoyance, but after taking a quick glance at the other Ambassador, turned to him and said, “If the matter is settled then so be it. Come Salsha, let’s go to where we can see a better angle of your ship being launched.” Both bowed slightly before walking away towards the large window.


#63

Maro’han smiled again watching Salsha trying to get a better view out the window. “Fate smiles on you some there Mr. President, that is the first Seccuvain to ever great me as well as she did. She will be a great asset to your fleet.” She turned her eyes to the President, but kept the smile going. As young as she appeared, Georf always had the feeling he was talking to a wily old grandmother when he spoke to Maro’han.

He gave her a smile as well and asked in a slight teasing voice, “Any particular reason why you missed my speech? Hopefully it was not to put on that outfit. And what is this urgent matter?” He was hoping that the matter was just to save him from Drelsharal, but the change in look from Maro’han told him the matter was far more serious.

Her eyes suddenly showed her age, wisdom, and memories the way only eyes could do. There is some universal truth that eyes are the windows into ones soul. Her smile dropped, and she said with a voice that echoed with some memories, “I had to take a trip to Earth. I just arrived a few minutes ago.” Georf raised an eyebrow but waited for her to explain further. She looked away from him and continued, “I met the father of one of the victims of the Pleasant Venture incident. I gave my personal condolences, though the meeting could have gone better.” Though attacks from pirates were nothing new, the Pleasant Venture event made the headline news on all channels and started several debates. Also, a strong anti Henthshraq movement was rekindled with some extremist groups. This week had been rough for the President, but he knew it was more so for Maro’han.


#64

Without even looking at him, she could read his body language. “It did end well though. Carl Bendont, father of Sarah Bendont, was able to get some closure.” She turned to him, and her look was now serious. “We have been able to determine who the attackers were. They were exiled (the word couldn’t be translated) from the penal colony Orcanoso.” What the word that didn’t translate meant he did not know, but Georf could clearly see that it was not a good term.

For the first time ever, he saw in Maro’han’s eyes an anger that instinctively frightened him to the core when she said it. There was a look of slight pain as well. He asked soothingly, “Is there something wrong Maro’han?”

She looked at him with a cold stare, “There was a good reason why they were exiled.” She calmed herself instantly though, and gave a reassured look. She continued, “The problem now is we have no clue on how they got the ship and fighter units. The ship they used had been missing well before the (criminals? Possible translation) were exiled. We shall continue our investigation, but I have been asked by the High Clan officials in this manner to ask you for your support in this investigation as well.”

He said, “I will ask my Secretary of Security to arrange for our support in your investigation.” She touched her mouth with her hand and made a gesture with it, the Henthshraq nonverbal way of saying ‘thank you’.


#65

She adjusted her hat, and then sighed before saying, “I hate to say this, but the High Clan council has not fully decided yet to allow the Exhibition Fleet to use our fold point system.” Georf closed his eyes to hide any expression of annoyance. Although the Henthshraq are still making the preparations to allow the fleet to use their system, they had been doing so just in case the High Clan council approved it. Without the council’s blessing, years of diplomacy and hard work might be for vain.

“I haven’t told this to the other Ambassador’s,” Maro’han continued. “I have been using all my influence to get the approval, but they are still concerned with having a warship fleet using our system. We try to stay out of the ‘spot light’, as you say, and this last incident and now the fleet are putting us in it. I think my people are wrong in their attitude, and I will continue to resolve this for you, Mr. President.”

Georf knew Maro’han had been fighting hard for him in this matter, so he could not be angry at her. His job had many frustrations, though the inability of the Henthshraq High Clan council to make up its mind on several matters pertaining to the Exhibition Fleet gave him more headaches than he could recount. “We will need an answer soon, Maro’han. This is not just going to affect our political relations, but the political relations of all species involved, the lives of all the workers in making and manning this fleet, and any amount of peace and stability the fleet could bring.”

Suddenly, the other members of the party gasped and politely cheered. The President and Ambassador looked out the window to see the Memphis engage its engines and show all of its lights. After it cleared the dry docks, the front turrets turned and fired a rainbow of laser light in a dazzling display. Spacial fireworks were fired from her flak weapons, and the darkness of space exploded with every color imaginable.

Georf clapped a little himself, and spoke more to himself than anyone else, “I doubt there will ever be a day where we don’t need a ship like her, but I hope for the days where ships like her might never need to see battle.” He realized he spoke the thought aloud, though only Maro’han had heard him.

She smiled while correcting her shoulder ornaments and said, “That is a very wise and good dream to have for someone as young as you, Mr. President. I will get my people to see that dream, so don’t be discouraged. I will now be on my way; this outfit needs to come off.” She raised her head and flared her gills before heading off. Georf did a slight prayer of success for her and the fleet before going back to crowd.


#66

Will start posting next section tomorrow.


#67

Phil questioned himself once again why he was here. Here happened to be a secluded room on the TF space station Seria 13. The outpost, where he worked, rested in one of the star systems in a small cluster galaxy where a large collection of fold points intersected. Several different political bodies formed spheres of influence in this galaxy with no native species, and it has become known as the ‘patchwork’, a major center for trade. It also was famous for pirates. A pirate incident is what brought Phil to question why he was here in this room with these two people.

One was a young brooding male with red hair and green to brown eyes. The other was female that looked like a special security officer with the complete no nonsense attitude included. Phil was in his late thirties and a part time recruitment officer for the T.F. military services. So why this lady came to him, pulled him from his duties to talk to this guy, he had no clue. All she said on the way was, “Listen in. He is to join the T.F. military. Period. We cannot force him, so do what you do best. Failure is not an option here.”

From what he could see there was nothing special about this guy. The young man had a tough time though, that was for sure. Turned out he was on the Pleasant Venture. But, there was nothing to be gained for Phil by wondering why he was here, so he just sat down in a chair in the corner. The intelligence lady sat across from a small table from the young guy, and if Phil didn’t know better, he would have guessed this was an interrogation.

To Jake it did seem to be an interrogation, but he no longer cared. After waking up from his coma, he had a talk with Hana. He missed the services held for the dead. All the bodies had already been sent back to their respective homes. Most of the remaining crew had left as well. There were only a few people that had to be treated by the Henthshraq before reaching the outpost, and he was the most severally injured one. Hana herself had some treatment due to her bioimplants being damaged by the neuro feedback.

The doctor forced him to rest one more day. Instead of waking up to go see Hana and the others who were still on the station, he was now forced to talk to this woman in black and answer her questions. Why the soldier was sitting in the back Jake didn’t know but also didn’t care. A bit of anger rose within him that he couldn’t go see his friends, but the sense of depression drowned out even that bit of emotion.


#68

He realized a little late that the lady asked him a question. “Oh sorry,” he said with the voice of man thinking half a light year away.

The lady looked at him with a perfect poker face and said again with a clear and precise voice, “I said my name was Nasakei Solmes, and I am an intelligence officer for the Terran Federation Forces. I am here to ask you certain questions about the incident you were involved in. Now, what is your full name again?”

He answered. She continued to ask him basic questions that she should already have the information too, but he continued to answer. He wanted to leave the room, but to go where? Eventually she asked a question that pulled him from his stupor. “The Henthshraq N.A.U.’s looked like this model correct?” She pulled a picture up from here pad and put the 3D image onto the center of the table. Memories started to come back to Jake that he did not want to remember again so soon. He wanted to leave.

“Why are you asking me this? I just lost most of my friends and I don’t see why I should be forced to relive losing them right now.” His voice started to give signs of genuine anger and energy, but Officer Solmes didn’t even blink.

Awkwardly, she smiled a little and tried to put a comforting face on. “I know this is tough for you Mr. Misoto. But this is important. Very rarely have we seen Henthshraq forces in action, so I would like you to try your best in answering my questions.” Jake thought someone must have tried to teach this woman bed side manners, but she failed the course. Her voice did not convey any sympathy or empathy. He gave a slight grunt and looked at the image.


#69

“No, they didn’t look like that. They were shorter than 14 meters, roughly 10 meters. They also had visible guns mounted to the arms and shoulders.” The image she showed him looked far more sophisticated than the units that attacked him. It was sleeker with only curved edges and no discernable weapons showing. She raised an eyebrow and quickly changed the image. This one was very familiar. He nodded and she quickly took a note.

She had him recount every action taken in the brief space fight. They spent five minutes going over the stealth echo effect he saw. He repeated a few times over the maneuvers he and Sarah did and the maneuvers of the enemy. For the first time, Phil spoke out, “You lasted that long against Henthshraq N.A.U.’s in those things? Damn man that was good flying on your part.” Solmes looked over to Phil without changing her expression, and he immediately went silent again. They went to when the Henthshraq boarded.

When Jake got to the part after the firing on the pirates entering the sick bay, he stopped. He couldn’t bring himself to think about what he saw then. Solmes gave a bad version of a sympathetic look, and said, “You do not have to describe what took place after that. Most of the details were captured by the Venture’s sensor system. You did say the Henthshraq pirates were not wearing any symbols on their armor correct?” He gave a slight nod. “What about the Henthshraq that saved you, what symbols did he have on?”

Jake paused for a moment. Hana even told him, but he just now fully realized that it was a Henthshraq who killed the pirate that kicked him. “I couldn’t see much after I was injured. All I noticed was that he had some sort of demon face painted onto his helmet.”


#70

Solmes wrote some more notes and then stood up. “Thank you for your time Mr. Misoto. From what I can determine, the Henthshraq that attacked you were disorganized, maul nourished, and poorly geared. That explains how you were even remotely successful in fighting against them. Sergeant Phil will take you back to your room.” She walked out of the room with a fast clip, but not before giving a look at Phil that made him jump slightly.

As soon as she closed the door, Phil turned to Jake. A smile crossed his face and a sudden laugh came out. He said right afterwards, “Man, I would not have blamed you if you just got up and ripped that bitches head off.” His face truly did give a compassionate look, and he went over to the table and sat in front of Jake whose expression did not change from brooding. “Shit son, they killed her in front of your face? Then one of those &(^)#@ caved in your chest with one kick?” Jake gave him a startled look. Phil put it so bluntly that the truth of the matter hit Jake harder than ever.

Those bastards did kill her in front of his face and nearly killed him. He was helpless the whole damn time. He should have stopped them. The thought started going through his mind and he couldn’t stop it. He closed eyes, tried to stop it, but then shouted out loud and slammed the table, “I should have stopped them! I killed Sarah because I didn’t stop them! Damn it!” and he pounded the table again.


#71

More later


#72

Phil got up and with a calming voice said, “Whoa son, go ahead and let it out. But don’t go fooling yourself now.” Jake gave him a cold look, but he continued, “You did more than some trained soldiers I know could have done. &^*( that bitch,” he said jabbing a thumb at the door. “A half starved and injured animal is the most dangerous kind. You fought against brutal and heartless killing machines there. Don’t you ever think you it was you who killed your friends. They did.” Jake continued to stare at him, but a bit of the edge left his look. Phil looked at Jake. Why that woman wanted Jake to join the T.F. military he couldn’t begin to guess. This young man had gone through worse than he ever had. Sure, judging by what he heard and what he can tell, this guy would make a fine soldier, probably a fighter or N.A.U. pilot, but he wasn’t going to play a dirty game to this guy.

He said to him, “Listen son, I am not going to bull shit you. That lady brought me here to convince you to join the T.F. military. Why? I have no (^%)% clue.“ After he said that, Jake gave him an odd look, but he continued. “There is no doubt in my mind that you would be a kick ass pilot. I bet if you were in a N.A.U., those sharkies wouldn’t even have come close to touching your ship.” Jake seemed to react to that, but Phil quickly continued, “Now, I could go on to say that the T.F. military will make you a better man, train you, give you adventure, blah blah blah, but the truth is we deal with that very shit you just had too. You just faced some reality of war there, son. Joining the service would only give you better tools to deal with it, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.”

He pulled out a pamphlet from his jacket. It was just a simple recruitment deal made from paper, and he tossed it over to Jake. “There, I did my part in that witches plan. Do what you want son, but I would first suggest going to your friends and get some of that grief out of ya. You just went through some &%$( shit there, and I wouldn’t want to trade places with you for a million credits.” Jake stopped looking at him and stared off into nothing.


#73

Phil headed towards the door, but before he reached it, Jake said, “Phil, thank you.”

“What for?” he asked. Jake was looking back at him now. There was no haunting or pained look anymore, some sadness still, but Phil began to think he could see how Jake normally looked.

Jake said in a calm voice, “For being so honest and real.”

Phil gave a brief laugh at that before saying, “Don’t tell that woman I was honest and real, I was supposed to use mind games to get you to join or something.” A brief smiled crossed Jake’s mouth, but it disappeared. Phil opened the door, and gestured for Jake to follow. As they headed back towards Jake’s medical room, Jake seemed lost in thought.

Suddenly he turned to Phil and said, “I never really considered being an N.A.U. pilot. I played video games about it, sure, but never really thought about it. Could I make a difference in one?” The question caught Phil off completely.

“Truthfully son? I have no clue. Only the Lord or Buda or whatever you believe in can answer that. I think you would make a damn fine pilot, that is for sure. Where you get placed, what you get to do, that is a bit up to fate.” They had reached the medical ward, and Phil turned to leave. He heard Jake say thank you again. Phil turned to him and gave a slight salute before walking away.

Phil didn’t make it too far away before Officer Solmes stepped in front of him. Her look would have cut him in two if it could fire lasers. “Wouldn’t mind if he ripped off my head? You told him you were there to trick him into joining the T.F. military?” Phil thought to himself “Oh shit” before she continued in a very frigid voice, “Well Sergeant Phil Zackeran, let me make this perfectly clear. I am giving you one hell of the benefit of doubt and that whole act was the trick to convince him to join. If he does join, you will have earned a 100% bonus for the next year. If he doesn’t join, you will be out of a job. There is another I would like to get recruited as well, but after seeing that last act of yours, I will let ‘the lord or Buda’ or fate decide.” She turned and walked away. Phil let his breath out not realizing he was holding it, and then truly wished that Jake had gotten up and ripped that woman’s head off.


#74

Will post more next Sunday. I have written quite a ways beyond this point, close to fifty pages worth, but am going back to prof read a bit more before posting it here.

Please feel free to comment on the story in general.


#75

Hana laughed slightly at the joke. But she knew that Orisa and herself were not feeling cheerful at all. The joke helped though. They sat at observational lounge at the outpost’s hotel, where they could watch all the different ships moving by the large window. Hana, Orisa, Skival, and Jake were now the only crew members from the Venture left on the station. Skival had not been seen for awhile, and that started to concern Hana. In the meantime though, sharing a few stories and laughs with Orisa numbed the pain.

Orisa, Orital’s older sister, matched his yellowish skin tones. If one knew where to look, you could tell she was a female of the Triadial race, and if one knew that much, he or she could tell by the gray and light blue colors on her ridge line indicated sadness. Triadia do not show even that much body language to convey feelings, so it was hard sometimes to judge them. Orisa’s were clear. She was sad over the loss of her brother.

Hana told Orisa about how Ajax showed up on New Texas one day and joined her high school. As soon as they met, he would not leave her alone until she agreed to date him. Orisa chuckled when Hana said that she tried to get Jake to pretend to be her boyfriend, but Ajax saw through it in a heartbeat. By reliving those memories, Hana smiled a little, but the pain struck again. Ajax was gone. Orisa barely cocked her head and indicated question with a sudden change in colors.


#76

“What is your relationship with Jake?” came out from Orisa’s translator in the typical monochrome voice. By looking at Orisa’s ridge line, Hana knew to take it as an innocent question. She smiled and was glad to be distracted for a moment. “That relationship actually started with his sister when I was four years old. Julie Misoto is the same age as I; Jake is about a year and a half younger than me. I met Julie on a playground. She was having so much fun with the other girls there that I just wanted to be with her. My parents, well, I would rather not talk about it, but let’s just say they were not there for me often. After I turned six, I spent more time at the Misoto’s than my own house. At times, I wished they were my family.”

Orisa’s colors changed now and then while listening to the story. Surprise, confusion, understanding, all came across her visual ridge. Hana continued, “I tortured Jake with Julie, the way kids do. But he became my little brother. Over time, Julie became more interested in things like modeling, clothes, cars, and guys. I became interested in space, ships, adventure. I didn’t think about guys until Ajax showed up in the picture. But it was Jake who shared my other interests, and he even skipped a grade to be in the same class that I was in. Though obviously we are not blood related,” she said pointing at her skin, “everyone considered us twins. I was the calm and elegant twin; he was the rugged and mellow one.” Orisa’s colors flashed orange a few times, which meant she laughed. Hana laughed herself before saying, “When we ran into Skival shortly after graduating. Ajax, Jake, and I really didn’t have a clue on where we were going. We needed jobs, college was not as necessary as it used to be, and Skival seemed to be a boss one would love to have. I also noticed how Jake looked at Sarah.”

But why did they join Skival? The adventure did not end the way she wanted, and she did not know where to go once more. Jake was probably talking with the woman who had questioned her earlier. She wanted to see him, but no one was allowed too until that woman left. “Tell me about Sarah, Orisa.” She didn’t know why she asked, but Orisa told her what she knew. Sarah got along with Skival very quickly, and became very knowledgeable about the workings of the ship. One day Sarah probably would have been leading a company of her own, or so Orisa guessed. Hana felt the guilt reach for her again. Was she jealous of Sarah, or was it just a sense of sibling protection? For whatever reason, Hana was never sure Sarah was the right match for Jake, but now that concern was mute.


#77

Before she could confuse herself thinking about it, she heard footsteps behind her. Orisa, who was looking that direction, flashed colors of a welcoming happiness and said, “Glad to see you joining us, Jake Misoto.” Hana turned to see Jake walking towards them. She saw him when he was injured, and it was one of the most frightening images she will ever carry. But seeing him now, one would not have guessed he was a breath away from death. He smiled slightly at Orisa and gave a bit of a wider one at her, but seemed to be sadden even more when he looked at her. She knew he felt bad for her losing Ajax, even though he lost him as friend as well. But knowing she was sad made him feel worse. Hana could not believe how sentimental he could be at times. She beckoned to him to sit down next to her, and as he did so, she noticed he had something in his hands.

“Jake, what is that?” she asked. As he sat down he opened up what was a recruitment pamphlet for the T.F. military. Patriotic pictures of marines in armored infantry suits and pilots flying N.A.U.’s scattered the paper along with details about career opportunities and finical packages. Big letters showed that federal service increased citizen bonuses, and that military service counted for double. Hana could not believe what she was seeing, “Why in universe do you have that?” she asked Jake with a bit of scared voice.

Jake turned to her and gave a slight laugh, “Don’t worry Hana. The only thing going through my mind right now is to get you and I home to New Texas. I want to see Mom and Dad. Checking the messages I received, they are scared to death right now.” Hana visibly relaxed, but gave Jake a look that he responded too. He continued, “But to answer your question, Phil the recruiter gave this to me in order to trick me join the T.F. military forces under the orders of Ms. Solmes.”

Hana had to have him pause there for a moment. She got him to explain what occurred between him, the agent, and Phil. After listening to the story, she shook her head and said, “That is odd. She asked me some similar questions, but she was not happy that I missed most of the fight. Phil sounds like he is in the dark too.” She then shrugged, “but at least he sounds honest.”


#78

The three of them had some idle conversation before Jake asked Hana when the next transport would be available to take them back to the Cana system. The Cana system was the location of the New Texas colony sphere. She looked out the window and pointed to a large transport docked to one of the stations extensions. She then said, “That one will be the first ship we take, and it is leaving tomorrow. We will get onto another ship in the Sol system to take us to Cana and then New Texas.” She turned back to Jake and gave a weak smile, “Home does sound good now.” Jake gave back a smile and reached out to give her a hug. Hana accepted, and began to cry slightly. Ajax was gone; Jake lost Sarah; but both Jake and she have to go on. But go on to where?

Jake said to her softly, “The doctor told me to take one last long rest before going anywhere, so I probably should go. I feel great though.” He paused a moment before saying, “I mean I feel physically great. I really don’t feel good at all otherwise.”

Hana lightly punched him and said, “Silly, I know what you meant. Go get that rest. I should take a nap as well.” She turned to Orisa, “When are you leaving Orisa?” Orisa informed her that she was taking the same transport as they were, but she was going to stay in the Sol system. One of the Triadia colonies from the decedents of the invasion was there. Hana and Jake got up to leave when suddenly Orisa asked Jake to show her the pamphlet one more time.

Jake’s puzzled look promoted Orisa to say, “There are quite a few Triadia citizens of the Terran Federation. Did you not know I was one? With my brother gone, I will now be expected to fulfill more duties. Not by the government, but my own people.” Jake pulled out the paper once more, and after looking over it, Orisa thanked him and walked with them till they each had to go their own way.


#79

The next day all three met outside the terminal for the transport. All their belongings that they could take were already being placed on board the transport. Each was silent, lost in their thoughts. Jake found it hard to be going home and leaving the Pleasant Venture behind, but he had to remind himself that the Venture was gone now. During their conversation yesterday, Hana told him Skival sold the ship since the damage to it was beyond its worth to repair. A sudden touch to his mind caused him to look up from his own little world, and he saw Skival standing right next to them.

He was dressed in clothes Jake had never seen him wear before, a large turncoat jacket with baggy clothes underneath. His face was sad and serious where it use to have some light. The clothes were even hiding his breasts, which Jake knew was unusual for Seccuvain men to do. Hana and Orisa must have felt his mental touch as well, for both were looking at him now. Hana even went a step further and hugged him gently.

Skival gave a slight return hug before pulling back. He spoke in a solemn voice, “I came to see you three off. And, I came too…” he closed his faceted eyes before continuing, “say I am sorry. I am so very sorry.” Before they could say a word he held up his hand, “I can hear your thoughts and your wish to comfort me, but I know the truth of the matter is this was my entire fault. If I can still deserve to be called your captain one last time, I have some news to give you and one last order.”

He pulled out three pads from one of his pockets and handed one to each of them. The pads had their names on them. Jake looked his over, and shock threatened to take him out. His bank account had just been credited close to 400,000 credits. That was over six years of work earnings. All three turned to Skival for an answer, and he told them, “Between insurance and what the Henthshraq ambassador to the T.F. arranged, I managed to make sure everyone affected by this incident will at least not have to worry about money for awhile.”


#80

Skival turned to Hana and before glancing at Jake. He said to them, “Don’t consider this a buy off. I can see that you do,” and Jake was thinking along that line, “but the truth of the matter is I just want to make sure you, my crew, are safe. This is the only way I could think off. What the Henthshraq are thinking, I could never tell, and I think I will never bother to try now.”

Jake didn’t know what to say. He could tell Skival worked hard to get them this money, but from where it was coming from Jake didn’t know if he could accept it. Before getting too wrapped around the morality of the situation, Skival spoke out loud again, “Now, here is my order. Live your lives, all of you. Do something with it that will shake the universe, or go and spend the rest of your lives in peace, but live your lives! I promise to do the same in the memory of my friends.”

Suddenly, memories poured into Jake’s mind that did not belong to him. He saw Sarah, Ajax, Orital, and all the crew members of the Venture, in memories full of joy and happiness. It was Skival’s memories, Jake realized, and he was sharing them with him. Jake now saw how much Sarah meant to Skival, who was so proud of her. He saw Ajax and Skival creating bills for the clients, and Skival working with Orital on a navigation system. Skival shared the best memories of the crew with them. The flood of memories felt like a virtual movie, filling Jake with a happiness that he had forgotten how to feel. Suddenly, the show stopped. Jake looked at Skival with everyone else, and Skival said to them, “Do it for them too. Your transport will be leaving soon.” Skival smiled for the first time, and Jake could tell he didn’t need to say thank you, for Skival was crying from how much he felt all of their thanks.