Hi, Pat. Some time ago, I wrote a story set in the Star Trek universe. As ST is unsalable, I decided to tweek it into my fictional universe. But there was a problem. The story, Escape From Paradise, needed inter-species procreation… ‘easy in ST, but not possible in the real world’… To solve that, I wrote The Genara Affair to introduce an extra-terrestrial race that ‘could’ successfully mate with a man from Earth. —Robert Holt
Twenty days after entering the Wolf planetary system, Connie Hooper reached its largest gas-giant, W-7. A short burst of anti-grav brought the Viggan to a near stop. She never lost that tingly feeling as the gates blossomed along a gas-giant’s orbital plain. Studying the stats on W-7, she noted it contained ten gates, but only six had been explored by other Gate-Jumpers so far. Picking number 8, an unmapped gate, she designated it asW-7-10-#8/ CH-20, and turned to her AI’s monitor. “Viggy, drop a marker and send a recon probe through. Let’s hope this will be a good one.”
While waiting, always the worst part, she ran a hand over her hair. It seemed to be getting a bit long, so she considered giving herself another buzz, and maybe cleaning up a bit. Anything to take her mind off of the five or six hours it usually took for the prob’s round-trip.
Tapping on the nearest monitor, she joked, “Hey Viggy, are you still awake? How’s our water supply?”
“You know I’m always awake. My recycle-reserve is at ninety-six percent. The fresh water tank is just under forty-two percent. Are you thinking about taking a shower?”
“Yea, I think I need one…and no comments from you.”
“I would never comment on such a thing; although, you have been giving my air filters a workout the past few weeks.”
Smiling, she ran her hands over her bare breasts. “If you were a guy instead of just a male persona, I would take better care of myself. Warm up the shower bag, and give me some mood music… Brubeck’s Take Five?”
“You do seem to like that one. I feel it’s a bit repetitive.”
“Isn’t ‘repetitive’ what we do out here? Endless months traveling through empty space with the slim hope of finding something behind one of these gates? I’ve been in the Gate Jumper’s Corps for nearly ten years, and what have I found? Zip… Nada… Not a damned thing worthwhile.”
Unhooking and drifting aft, she felt her hair again, but the vac-clipper was such a hassle, she decided not to use it. Pulling a clean jump-suit off the rack, she set it aside and slipped into the bag.
Remembering the one, and only, time she’d made a jump in her usual state of undress, made her giggle.
Viggy was about to start the shower, but stopped when he heard her. “You find something amusing in there?”
“Just thinking about the time I made a jump with nothing on. It’s so seldom we meet another jumper, I forgot and opened the vid-link. Bob was it? Yea, Bob. The look on his face was priceless.”
“I recall the incident. Your face was as red as your hair. Are you ready now?”
“Yea…hit me.” The stinging spray felt great until the very last moment. Viggy, in one of his playful moods, must have switched the water to cold.
“Ouch…damn it Viggy, if you do that again I’ll shuffle your processors.” Through the vac-dry noise, and the recording’s drum solo, she heard a weak, ‘Sorry’, but he didn’t sound very sorry.
To Connie’s relief the probe came back unharmed, showing no large mass or potentially harmful objects nearby. Anticipation built as she downloaded its data, only to be smashed by an image of a gas-giant planet orbiting much too close to its primary star, forming on the Viggan’s main screen. She felt more than a bit disappointed. Holding back a tear, she looked up at her AI’s monitor. “Viggy, another dry hole. Oh-well, once we map it, it should at least be good for a few new jump-gates. No matter, it will still be ‘my’ system to name…unless other Gate-Jumpers have found it first. Twenty jumps and I still haven’t discovered a habitable world.”
“It’s only a matter of time Connie. We’ll find something eventually.”
Viggie’s deep baritone voice seemed to be trying to console her, but she didn’t want to be consoled. “That’s easy for you to say. What’s it been…sixteen months since we left New Hope? You’re just a computer…”
“An Artificial Intelligence.”
“Okay, an AI. You don’t get lonely. You don’t feel the frustration of coming up empty every time.”
“This is true. I don’t feel anything, but as I stated, we’ll find something; it’s only a matter of time.”
Slapping a jump-med patch on her arm, she strapped down. “Okay Viggy, let’s jump through and see what we’ve got.”
Growing from a point of light to a bright violet torus as her anti-grav excited it, the gate filled her main screen. Like a window to another star system, she could see another gas giant planet. Being close to its primary star, it was shining very bright, but far enough away from the gate so it didn’t pose a threat. Taking her hand off the ‘abort’ button, she closed her eyes as they made the jump. The nausea and stinging sensation of jump-shock had her gripping the armrests, so she let Viggy look for markers, and make a more detailed scan until the pain went away.
As an AI, Viggy’s voice didn’t convey any panic when he calmly announced, “Connie, we’re not alone here. There’s another ship, approximately three-thousand kilometers away, and it just fired three missiles at us. I’m jumping back.”
After a double jump the pain was intense. Connie applied another meds patch, and forced herself to concentrate. “Viggy. How much data did you get?”
“Not much. Several weak EM signatures; no markers. I did record an image of that ship. I’m cleaning it up now.”
While the image was coming up on the view screen, she took another dose of pain-meds and a stim.
Viggy did sound concerned now as he warned, “Connie, you know that will make you sick later.”
“I know that Viggy, but I have to to stay sharp. Are you sure it wasn’t another Gate-Jumper? No… of course not. A Jumper wouldn’t shoot at us. A rogue Saran? I understand there are still a few of those warrior bugs oround. There could be something valuable enough in that system for a Union Navy ship to have gone bad, but I find that hard to believe.”
“Negative on all counts. As you can see, that ship conforms to no known vessel. Also, it didn’t seem to possess A-Grav technology. I would say we’re looking at another species entirely. If true, that alone will get your name in the history books.”
“So maybe things are finally looking up? Okay. Get a message off to the Union Navy… and send another probe through that gate.”
Navigator Jausha aboard Sentinel-Six noticed an anomaly. Several points of light blossomed along the orbital plane of God’s Eye. Turning the ship towards the nearest one, he called the Captain.
“Regent Tennant, you’d better check this out. Our enemy may have a new weapon.”
Tennant came on deck just as a strange craft appeared through one of the lights. Without hesitation, he yelled at his gunner. “This may be an attack by the Moros. . .Fire all tubes at that ship…now.”
Leaning over the gunner’s shoulder, he watched the missiles streaking towards their target, but before they got anywhere near, it turned and disappeared back through that unknown light source. Astonished, he stared at the, now empty space. “Gunner, shut down the missiles for retrieval. Gasty, did you record visual on that? Gasty?”
Jausha coughed lightly, then whispered, “Regent, Sir…Gasty is in the break-room. I fear he missed it.”
“Break-room? Why is he not at his station?”
“Sir. We all need a break at times. There has been no need for imaging up to now… he just…”
“Just missed the most important thing we’ve encountered on this tour. Well nothing we can do about it now. Get me a link with the High Command. This must be reported.”
Administrator Regas re-read the report, then turned to General Aisha. “What can you tell me about Regent Tennant? Is he one to panic? If he fired on a Moro ship, he may have broken our treaty. Why are there no images of the ship they claimed to have encountered?”
Aisha shrugged. “They only managed a short visual sighting…but it was witnessed by several of Tennant’s crew. I know Tennant, and trust he did in fact see something. Do you wish to inform the other nations about this?”
“No. Not until we know more. I hesitate to even send more ships without more information…but if the Moros have developed a new weapon, we must be prepared. Send two… no, make that five Sentinels to join Sentinel Six… And get me a direct link to Moro.”
~ ~ ~
Ensign Reed tapped lightly on the Admiral’s door, then stepped inside “Admiral Conroy, we just received a report from a Gate-Jumper named Connie Hooper. She claims to having been fired at by an unknown vessel near one of Wolf Seven’s gates”
Setting her tea cup down, Kim held out a hand for the report. As the chip projected an image on her wall, she read the text on her desk-reader. The image was fuzzy, but it looked nothing like any vessel they’d encountered before. “Fired at? There’s not much to go on here. We may have discovered another race…but why would they shoot at her?” Stabbing a finger on the com-pad, she called Operations.
“Captain Williams, Operations. What can I do for you Admiral?”
“What do we have near Wolf Seven?
Williams checked the status-board, and made a few calculations before looking up. “We have two ships near that region. The Peace Keeper can be there in three jumps… approximately six weeks. The Enterprise is in the Vega system. It can be at Wolf in three months… maybe a bit less. Do we have a problem at Wolf?”
“Someone… or something, took a shot at one of our Gate-Jumpers. I’m requesting she stay put until the Navy can check it out. Send those two, and put more on stand-by. Imperative they get there soonest.”
“Will do Admiral… Williams out.”
Kim tossed the chip back to her aid. “Too bad I killed General Omar, he would have loved this. As for myself, I hate this shit. Why can’t people just get along?”
Snatching the chip out of the air with one hand, Ensign Reed saluted with the other. “People, or alien beings? I guess we’ll find out. Ah…Admiral, may I ask a personal question?”
“You may ask, but I may not answer.”
“When you killed Omar; the reports stated it was self defense…but there have been…ah…rumors.”
Kim smiled at his hesitant attitude. Like it was yesterday, she remembered the vivid image of Omar’s face as she pointed her pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. The war-mongering idiot was about to start an unnecessary war, just so he could play general. Her hand went to the scar on her arm as she remembered Omar’s Second in Command shooting her, then filing the ‘self-defense’ report. She gave Reed a sly smile. “We’ll stick to the official version. You’ve been reading my records?”
“I don’t intend to stay an Ensign forever. You know what they say, ‘anything to advance ones career’… So I decided to get to know my boss. Hope you don’t mind.
Looking at her reflection on the blank screen, then back at the upstart kid, caused her to laugh. “Tell you a secret. When we got back from Saran, all I wanted to do was get out of the dammed Navy. Now look at me. A grey haired, unmarried, witch…With the whole dammed Navy on my shoulders. Be careful what you wish for, it could bite you in the ass. Now get the hell out.”
Pulling her resignation letter from its hidey-hole, she tapped it against her teeth. She knew she couldn’t quit just yet. Not until they found out what was going on at Wolf. Sighing, she put it back and folded the desk screen so she wouldn’t have to look at the reflection glairing back from it.