Authors: David Buck
Part Two, Hidden Menace
Book Two of the Carinae Sector series
by David Buck, 2013
The author assumes copyright and all rights relating to this publication. All characters depicted are fictional and the story line is a work of fiction.
The novel is written in Commonwealth English.
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This novel is dedicated to my father Robert Buck.
Cover design by Luke Harris from Chameleon Print Design.
Part 2 Hidden Menace
Altarebe fought to stabilise the sinking sled, and the initial rapid drop soon slowed down until he stopped halfway to the ocean floor. He could see that the trim of the sled was badly affected due to the damage from the exploding mines. He now compensated for this problem by forming a gas filled void in the rear of his own body. The ancient then noted that the small anti-matter reactor for the sled appeared intact, though the rear energy conduits and the rear engines themselves had taken considerable damage.
Altarebe now spent several minutes remaining silent and still, as he interrogated the sled’s command interface. He verified that his own cloaking mechanism was stable before he activated what he could of the automated damage control system. The sled levelled out and he cautiously applied low power with his own engines as he turned due south. He noted his slow passage through the deep water and he realised that it would take time to complete his own search. The ancient male replayed in his mind the instructions he had from his father Delprebe, hopefully still alive and well hidden on his remote asteroid hundreds of light years away.
‘Remember the soft subsonic call if you encounter the young females in an ocean, for you cannot flee like you can in deep space if they get aggressive. Also keep your actions slow and deliberate, and appear as harmless as possible, especially around their mother. Above all remember the pledge of our race and repeat this as soon as possible to the queen.’
Altarebe began making the soft call of his kind ahead of him as he slowly continued moving south in deep water.
Seliandre had taken a break from helping her mother care for Gementer, who now slept again after teaching Armuen and Cliade for several weeks. Armuen and Cliade raced ahead of her before returning in a series of heavy accelerations and course changes. Seliandre resisted the urge to encourage her youngest sisters, and instead chided them to not stray too far ahead or to go too close to the ocean surface. By habit she ensured that their cloaks were operating correctly, and she was reassured to note that they could not possibly be detected by the humans. She put down her caution to still feeling concerned after hearing that a strange ship had passed high overhead after being attacked by the humans.
Seliandre knew that only she and the two middle sisters, Helisphan and Isphara, could possibly escape the planet if they were detected anytime soon. If the Vorinne or Zronte turned up before another one hundred and fifty or so years had passed, then the temporarily crippled Gementer would die as would her youngest siblings, Armuen and Cliade. Her mother, Queen Angwene, would not leave her children and would also die, along with the devoted Maveen probe three. The humans would also die as the Zronte or Vorinne would consider that they had aided the ancients by hiding them on their world. She also knew that the fierce battle that could occur between Angwene and the galactic overlords would inflict terrible damage to the Earth’s biosphere.
Seliandre pushed aside these dark thoughts, as both Cliade and Armuen raced back from many kilometres in front to huddle subdued alongside her larger flanks. She resisted the urge to reassure them by touch as this was the role of her mother. Instead she softly asked a question as the sudden nervousness of her sisters filled her with dread.
‘So is there a human craft several kilometres in front of us? - and have they detected your presence?’
Armuen voiced a soft subsonic reply as she slowly moved away from Seliandre’s flanks.
‘No dear sister, we sensed something, but not at any of the scanning frequencies used by the humans. The signal was similar to the calls the Maveen used when they visited this world.’
Seliandre asked both Cliade and Armuen to remain still as she slowly went forward, but remained silent. After five kilometres she heard the same call at a distance and she listened for several moments before she made a soft call in reply. A slightly louder response from several kilometres ahead told her that the stranger was coming forward, but she called again in a warning.
‘Hold fast Maveen, we are unsure as to your identity and you are too close to our facilities in any case. Please remain still as I come forward to identify you.’
A tense silence followed for several moments as she slowly moved forward again, before a subsonic reply came that absolutely amazed her.
‘Altarebe, a young male of the ancient race, of the clan Diome, and I came here with Maveen assistance. I am uninjured though my sled is badly damaged in landing on this world.’
Seliandre recovered quickly from her surprise and now voiced her reply as she carefully scanned Altarebe from a distance.
‘Seliandre, a young female of the ancient race, of the royal clan Pharen, and I live in these oceans with my mother and my sisters.’
She noted that the scans told the story exactly as Altarebe had stated, as he appeared to only have his own weaker personal weapons operational and the sled was indeed heavily damaged. Seliandre got an insight she shared with Altarebe, even as she noted her two younger sisters were now silently edging forward to join her.
‘You have not abandoned the sled, so you are mindful of protecting our secret existence here and possibly you have a further use for the Maveen device.’
Altarebe was impressed with the quick intelligence of Seliandre as he noted the smaller forms of her younger sisters joining her. Further introductions were made, and Altarebe was conscious of just how much larger and stronger even the youngest female was compared to him. The new arrival kept calm and knew that the next fifteen minutes would determine his survival. He now slowly replied as he came to a halt close, but not too close to the females.
‘The Maveen instructed me well on what I would face when I reached this world, and the humans are not to be underestimated if the damage to the sled is any guide. The Maveen have also instructed me to supply this sled to Maveen probe three, who is in service to your mother Queen Angwene.’
Seliandre considered the message and noted further information her sensors were telling her about Altarebe as she spoke again.
‘You are too modest in your true reasons for being here Altarebe and that is noted. I can see that you are a young consort of our race, with the extra gun ports and the fissures in your hull. Yet you display little arrogance and this is respected.’
The two younger females spoke as a counterpoint to their older sister, with a nervous Cliade speaking first.
‘We can only hope he has not led the other races into discovering our presence on this world. I understand we have a consort male amongst us now, but that does not help us if we cannot leave this world safely.’
Armuen seemed more transfixed by Altarebe’s presence, and did not seem as concerned about being detected as her own response soon showed.
‘A consort male for one of us or all of us, and I understand that this will prolong our life spans manyfold. We might still be detected at some later stage even if Altarebe did not arrive when he did. I am so just glad he is here…’
Altarebe had much earlier gone through the expected reactions of the queen’s daughters with his father, so he made his simple reply mindful of their possible responses.
‘I pledge my life to your mother the queen to determine as she sees fit to decide. I will request a wife or wives according to the queen’s ruling.’
Seliandre resisted the strong urge to question Altarebe further on this matter, as she was satisfied that he had simply stated his request, and her mother was the final voice in this process. She was instead more concerned about the recent news of events in the galaxy.
‘We know the humans have sent a fleet across one hundred light years towards the former Dradfer colonies. We are concerned that they will be destroyed and the Jerecab will conquer this world. So have you any news of these events during your journey here?’
Altarebe was again impressed with Seliandre, and he awkwardly adjusted the trim of the sled for several moments as he considered a reply. Seliandre could see his problem and offered to help him.
‘Altarebe let me take the sled, you power it down before letting go, and just ensure your own cloak is working.’
Seliandre had soon extended two large manipulators and had a firm grip on the sled as Altarebe complied with her instructions. He could not help noting how young and attractive she was, and also how much younger still her sisters were in age. Cliade and Armuen heard a soft call, and now had raced off south towards the rapidly approaching Queen Angwene.
Altarebe noted both the size and speed of the onrushing queen, and again forced himself to remain calm as he spoke again to Seliandre, who was holding the sled with no real effort.
‘The humans have begun hostilities with the Jerecab at the former Dradfer worlds, and I have intelligence from the Barus, Sspol and Maveen to present to the queen. I think it is still possible that the Jerecab may be prevented from attacking this world.’
Seliandre noted the approach of her mother and instinctively made her choice. She positioned herself across the path of her mother and broadcast a firm stand down message.
Angwene lost no time in berating her second oldest daughter.
‘You are old enough to stand for yourself, but you are not strong enough to stand against me, so move to one side. I will interrogate this brash male as I see fit, and establish if his actions have compromised our presence on this world.’
Seliandre braced herself and instead gave a measured reply, as not only was she concerned now about Altarebe’s welfare.
‘Altarebe claims nothing for himself, but states that events elsewhere bear your close scrutiny mother.’
Angwene fumed in rage at Seliandre for not obeying her instantly. But she then noted that her daughter used a tone she used herself only when she felt there was valuable information present. The queen was close enough to get a good look at the new arrival, and quickly noted the consort status of the young male. Angwene felt for the first time real hope and she would have to have a good conversation later with the Maveen probe about Altarebe.
Angwene first addressed Seliandre in a stern tone as she had to remain in authority in the eyes of her daughters.
‘Daughter, there will be additional duties assigned to you on our return to the facility. I note your concerns and I promise not to take unilateral action against Altarebe. So are you satisfied with my response?’
Seliandre could recognise that the immediate risk to Altarebe was receding, but she elaborated on her reply as she was now highly concerned with Altarebe’s earlier statement.
‘Yes mother, and thank you. I understand the build up of sediment around the suppression field will have to be cleared again, and the waste material from the latest weapons production processes needs to be removed. Altarebe was just mentioned that he has intelligence from the Barus and the Sspol, along with the Maveen.’
Angwene knew that she was being directed, but she suppressed any outrage as she took in the significance of her daughter’s last sentence. She was thinking wildly to herself what this all mean as she spoke to Altarebe for the first time.
‘Altarebe, you have displayed considerable skill and courage in reaching this world. Yet aspects of your arrival concern me greatly, for I fear your arrival here may yet lead to us being discovered. You will need to clarify your comment about the sources of your intelligence reports, especially matters concerning the Sspol.’
Altarebe did not even think of delaying or misdirecting the queen as he first gave his formal pledge.
‘Your majesty I pledge to obey you and be subject to your will as you see fit. By the timeless laws of our race, I am humbled to serve you to the best of my abilities. All further roles in my life are to be as per your instructions.’
Angwene was relieved by the simple formal pledge from Altarebe even if she knew that her own possible responses to him were now being curtailed. Her reply was more genial and patient, as she again noted he was a fit and healthy young ancient male consort suitable for her many daughters.