Empire 1: Humiliation, p.1Michael J. Findley
Michael's crystals had their fire change from red to blue to green and back to red again. With each change the fire grew weaker.
"Discovery to Earthpost Q."
"Your father's quit waiting on the Lord. The Occidental outpost has twelve SSTs assembling a particle beam gun. It's Imperial, Michael. Your father set us up. I don't have a chance."
"Is it operational?"
"Yes, but it's not fully charged yet."
"I'm by myself. The only way I can fly and fire at the same time is to route the fire control through the forward directional sensors."
"I'll kill everyone down there. There's over a thousand people there, mostly women and children."
"Get out of here. Deep Thrust now."
"Too far into the atmosphere. They'll be fully charged before I can get enough altitude to activate."
"The Discovery doesn't have any kind of life boat. Status change. They've locked on to me."
"Get in a supply drop capsule with a bottle of air."
"I did promise to return home alive. She's on autopilot, so if they don't fire, she'll still put down at your landing site."
Empire One: Humiliation
Michael J. Findley
copyright by Michael J. Findley 2010
Empire One: Humiliation
by Michael J. Findley
copyright by Michael J. Findley 2010
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Scripture references are as follows: The Bible: The king James Version, public domain. The New International Version, from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The New American Standard Version: Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.
Randolph awoke to the near-silent whispers of Discovery's life support system. His personal quarters, large by military standards, allowed him to exercise and eat in private before facing the rest of the crew.
Finishing his exercise routine quickly, the simple-long-sleeved blue tunic and work slacks seemed a natural choice. After dressing, he poked his card at a spot on the far wall. A door less than half a meter square opened with a plate of four brightly-colored cubes and a vial of clear liquid. Alexander insisted on eating something recognizable, like bacon and eggs. Randolph thought that pointless. The looks didn't change the taste.
Randolph finished quickly and replaced his tray. His card ejected and the wall returned to the solid metallic finish of the other walls. He pocketed his card and turned on a viewer. He hit buttons randomly and Psalm 101 came up.
I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.
Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me:
He that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house:
He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.
Randolph turned the viewscreen off, started out, but stopped short of the door. What was a perfect heart? He rested his hand on the wall where the door would be. Whatever a perfect heart was, he certainly did not have one. Was it really that important? He stepped forward and part of the wall dissolved to make a smooth, oblong doorway.
The noise, sights and smells of military paraphernalia brought Randolph down into the world of the rest of the Discovery's crew. His room lead directly onto the expansive bridge, the only common area for all six crewmen. Alexander lounged off to the left with a viewscreen fixed on Uranus below. Doug and Phillip sat at their duty stations, but turned to face each other. Noticing Randolph, they quickly made a small pile of coins disappear and turned back slightly to face their instrument consoles.
"You're early for a change," smiled Phillip.
Randolph returned the smile and replied, "More unusual things than that have been known to happen." He walked over to Alexander and sat across from him. "Just get up? This is the middle of your sleep period. Something you usually don't miss."
"Nope! Eclipse in fifteen minutes. I'll sack out later. I want all of this lady I can get. You know she's..." Alexander stopped and smiled at him. "No one's ever been here before. Maybe no one will ever be here again."
"Or at least lived to tell about it," said Phillip. The first expedition to Uranus had disappeared more than two years ago without leaving any evidence. This time the Discovery had come along as military escort.
Ignoring the men on duty, to keep them from further distraction, Randolph continued asking Alexander, "Would you like to come back?"
Alexander laughed quietly. "Not as a colonist. I like to conquer. You should know that by now. This place isn't going to be conquered in our lifetime."
The whisperings of a door dissolving behind them caused them all to turn. Prince Michael stepped onto his bridge, his unadorned tunic giving no hint of rank. He was taller than the rest of his crew, though somewhat thin. Prince Michael began an expansive smile that ended in a great yawn. He sat down between Alexander and Randolph.
"Five months of the same thing," said Phillip. "You said this would be a boring assignment."
"You call this boring?" Alexander sat transfixed by the viewscreen.
"As a matter of fact, I do," Doug replied.
The gentle annoyance of a motion detector irritated them all.
"I see our most reliable onboard instrument is crying for attention again," said Phillip. "Did another star emerge from behind Saturn slightly the wrong color?"
"Again," added Doug.
Alexander flipped the alarm off while Phillip increased the magnification and focused the viewscreen. Uranus enlarged and disappeared off a side of the screen as the central point of light became six distinct points, moving against the motionless background of stars.
"Sir," Doug reported, "they could be asteroids. A lunar eclipse will put them out of sight in less than five minutes. I'm plotting their course now. We picked them up by accident. They are out of normal range for a motion detector."
"Out of range," mused Michael. He looked at the screen. It was the only solid contact since they had begun exploring the moons of Uranus.
"Course projections finished, sir," said Doug as he looked up. "If they don't change course, Uranus will be between us for more than 20 hours."
"They, it, whatever, never changed course." Alexander swung around and joined
Prince Michael sighed and looked at the main viewscreen. "We are here to provide protection. If we go chasing after who knows what and something happens to this fleet, even my father won't be able to help us. We wait 20 hours and see."
The six men of the Discovery strained their senses as the third sweep was made. Alexander looked up at Prince Michael.
"Sir, there isn't anything out there. We've tried focused motion detectors, UV scans, infrared scans, full bandwidth analysis, and sector analysis. Nothing."
Michael seemed emotionless. "Phillip, how close might they be?"
"Sir, with the right course and a little luck, our motion detectors might not pick them up until they come into firing range."
"They have to come up from Uranus," Eric answered. "At least we know where to look."
"Do we?" said Doug. "What if the real threat is right here?"
Alexander interrupted softly, "We have something at 2,500 kilometers and closing rapidly."
The main viewscreen filled with Uranus, with one point standing out. As the magnification increased, the point quickly crystallized into six distinct points that took shape as six spacecraft.
"Lunar eclipse of Uranus, 20 seconds, sir." Phillip said.
Alexander climbed into his pilot's seat and powered up the auxiliary chemical engines.
"Keep in visual contact." Michael ordered. He turned to communications. "Eric, have they responded?"
"We have only had time to go through the automatic sequences, but no response as yet. If they are listening, they know that we are trying to contact them."
Empire 1: Humiliation by Michael J. Findley / History & Fiction have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on15 votes