Authors: Rob Buckman
HE WHO DARES
Whether we like it or not, genetic engineering is a fact. Already we have cured several childhood diseases that have inflicted humanity for generations for the betterment of mankind. Soon other horrible afflictions will disappear as we grope our way through the intricate of the human gene Ohm.
Sickle cell anemia
, Parkinson, Alzheimers to name just a few. Politicians and laws will change to permit all the good parts of genetic engineering to progress, but in a few years from now, the other side of this world changing science will happen. Parents who have the means will want their children cured of poor vision or hearing, maybe to be a little taller, or with blonde hair and blue eyes, or a little more intelligent. Some might say, to justify the change, that this is a good thing, that they are helping humanity in some obscure way. How far is far enough, and how do we stop it when advanced, or super humans start living among us? Science has always been a double edge sword. If you want nuclear power, you have to have the bomb, if you want a laser cutter for medicine and industry you have to have laser weapons, and so on.
Sometime in the not too distant future, maybe here, or on some distant plant humans have colonized, we will be able to design a human being from the ground up, maybe even skipping the natural birth process altogether. What then, what sort of human being would he or she be a super soldier, a financial wizard, or just a mindless grunt toiling in a mine, factory or whorehouse? We have already let the genie out of the bottle, with no way to put it back in, and with enough money, power, or both, who is to say what we ask the genie for? But, like the old Chinese proverb says, be careful what you wish for.
As this book is self-published, and being a poor starving, sight impaired writer, living in a freezing garrot in sunny Orange County, California. I do not have the luxury of an editor yet. That means there are a few spelling and grammar errors that got by my poor tired eyes, so please overlook any that I failed to catch. My object in writing this, and other novels, is to tell you, the reader, an interesting tale for your enjoyment, not to win any English composition prize or a spelling bee. Happy reading.
RB ([email protected])
The whole Star base complex was a mess, with internal fires raging in many of the construction stations and fitting yards. The solar array had torn itself apart as the increasing violent oscillations straining the support gantry to breaking point. Before it did, the concentrated beam of sun lights scorched, and chard its way through the surrounding facilities. Some the beam destroyed, others were nothing more than a blackened ruin, including ships and space docks. It would be many months, if not years before they got everything back on line. The main Star base was a mess as well, with explosions and fires raging around the upper levels even as they watched. Shuttlecraft, launches and freighters of all sizes undocked, as well as escape pods detaching themselves from the station, all fleeting the spreading fire and confusion. In all, there were hundreds of ships of all sizes trying to get away, hopefully covering their departures as well. This tiny corner of the universe, so tidy and peaceful a few hours before was suddenly turning into a nightmare of ships trying to escape the impending destruction. It was as if someone had poked a stick into a hornet’s nest. To add to the confusion, the warships launch dozens of SAR shuttles that were now busy rushing back and forth scooping escape pods out of space. The heavy units remained in place, as if expecting an attack of some sort, while the frigates and destroyer raced about as if unsure what to do, or where to go. The cause of the Chief’s concern were two picket ships that broke out of formation and started heading in their direction…
To any outside observer interested in what the Princess Royal did in the mornings, the tennis outfit she was wearing would have given them a good indication. The hypothetical watcher would assume, quite incorrectly, that she was off to do nothing more than play a game of tennis with a friend, and nothing more.
“Ready for your morning beating, Taffy.” She asked, looking back over her shoulder at him as she bounced into the tennis court.
“I’ll try to give you a run for your money today, your Highness. Been practicing while you’ve been away, you know.” He gave her his best, long-suffering look, hoping she’d take pity on him.
“We’ll see about that.” She laughed, settling into position for the first set.
As breakfast ended, Mike Gray took his leave, bidding farewell to everyone, and went upstairs to pack. Mike had no idea when he’d see the love, and light of his life again, but they both understood that. A ubiquitous London taxi sat was waiting for him at the side gate as he came out, and it took him back to Waterloo Station, and the mag-lift train back to Davenport. Only time would tell where his relationship with the Princess Royal would go, if anywhere. Getting comfortable, Mike drifted off to sleep thinking of her perfume, and her warm, pliant body against his.
Ann was as good as her word, beating Taffy four sets out of four, giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek as his loser’s reward. Walking off the court, she saw Seaford nod, and the whole gang headed into the summerhouse to relax over a glass of cold lemonade. The waterfall beside the building added the relaxing sound of falling water, as did the stream babbled over the carefully placed rocks. Unbeknownst to most, the apparently open sided, and airy summerhouse, was actually a giant ‘Faraday cage’, with the copper mesh woven skilfully into the latticework walls, and across the ceiling. Between the rustling water, intervening foliage, and the Faraday cage, little, if any of their conversation could be heard. Other electronic devices effectively disable any possible listening bugs inside the summerhouse, so on the whole they were free to talk.
“Everything’s secure, Lady Ann.”
“Thank you, Seaford, let us get down to business.” Lifting an antique oil lamp on the table, Ross activated a device hidden inside. Nodding as a green light came on.
“The dampening field is on and working.”
“Excellent. So far it looks as if our security systems are working as expected.”
“And the first order of business is?” Seaford asked.
“Your opinion of Leftenant Mike Gray.” Ann asked, her voice, firm and business like, without the snippy tone she usually used. Her gray green eyes flicking quickly around the group.
“For a colonial, he’s great.” Taffy laughed.
“Seriously, Taffy.” Her tone left no doubt this was not a game, or just one of her probing exercises. Any resemblance to the public figure of the Ice Princess, or even the one Mike knew, vanished. Razor sharp steel covered in velvet was Seaford description.
“Leaving out the comment that he’s a colonial, just joking of course, I’d say we have a winner.”
“I agree with Taffy, Lady Ann, there is more to this Mr. Gray than meets the eye.”
“Yes, that was my impression.” She had the grace to color slightly. “He’s resourceful, daring, and can think on his feet in a tight situation.” Ann stated.
“He’s definitely not just another handsome fortune hunter looking for a way to quick promotion.” Hastings added.
“Yes, that's the impression I got as well.” Ross added.
“Are you thinking to include him in our little group, Lady Ann?” Seaford asked.
“No, we need someone we can trust inside the Navy itself, and I think we have just found the right man.”
“Thank God for that, I was beginning to wonder.” Scotty sighed.
“Yes, the current crop of candidates is lacking in a few of the qualities we are looking for.” Ann sounded slightly despondent.
“And our role in all this?” Seaford asked.
“To watch from the background and give him all the assistance he needs, where we can.” She looked around the group, seeing them all nod in agreement. “We need to put people and opportunities in a position for Mr. Gray to take advantage of without making it obvious to him, or any outside observers.”
“True, and if he’s a smart as I think he is, Mike will make his own opportunities.”
“Agreed, now then, how are you all coming on setting up your own networks?”
“I’m doing well in the Ministry of Supply, but the Ministry of Defense is a bugger to penetrate.”
“I understand, Seaford, but keep trying. Taffy?”
“Hummm, setting up an intelligence network outside normal channels is hard, to say the least, what with MI5 and Naval intelligence and who knows who else snooping around all the time.”
“Taffy, we have to set it up, you already know how important it is from my last assignment.”
“I just wish we could identify who it is that’s diverting information to the Sirriens.” Seaford muttered.
“I still think it’s someone in the Government.” Ross interjected.
“I hate to say it, but I think Ross is right. There's also the question of why far too many critical pieces of information just aren’t getting through to the King, or the Prince of Wales.”
“That borders on treason, Lady Ann.”
“I know, and we are already starting to see a picture emerging, and it isn’t pretty.”
“Admiral Rawlings is doing well with his upper group, and has strong support of the senior Captain.”
“That’s good news, but it's too soon for him to move.”
“He will have to move soon if he has any hope of getting the Navy ready for the war we knows coming.” That put a blanket over the meeting.
They were fighting against time, with no way of knowing how long they had. It was one thing to dream of setting up a new intelligence service, outside the existing one and actually doing it. Especially when they couldn’t trust anyone. They knew the Sirriens had spies inside the Government, and Earth’s military, but not who, or how high up. At some point, they all knew they’d have to make a move, but hopefully by then, they would have their own people in place ready to take over. It would mean everyone in the existing security services would have to go, from the Director down to the janitor. It was the only way they could be sure of plugging any leaks. The task also had the added worry of someone discovering what they were doing before they were ready. None of them had any illusions about the danger their lives were in should that happen, no matter what their titles, or position might be, including the Lady Ann. The Sirriens would have no compunction about killing any of them to hide the fact they’d compromised England’s Government and security services. They talked about a few less important items after deactivating the dampening device and then broke up the meeting to avoid suspicion.
Mike felt a little tired after such an energetic night, but couldn’t let on that he hadn’t slept, and took the opportunity for a short nap on the train down to Davenport. After that, the days faded one into the other, and he immersed himself in the daily workings of the shipyard. To add to his workload, the list of ship’s Captain, and assorted higher ranks Cynthia mentioned, began sending him comm messages. All had the same demand, that he expedite repairs on his or her particular ship. He carefully explained to each, that he was nothing more than the Naval Inspector, and had nothing to do with, nor could he influence the Yard Superintendent. That said, they still insisted he do something instead of sitting around with his thumb in a rather uncomfortable orifice. He did perform inspection, but soon realized he needed more people. Conner entered his office and handed him a sealed package.
“This just arrived for you by courier, sir.” Unusually to say the least, as most official mail arrived vie the net. He opened it to find a data pad, and a short cryptic note from the Admiral. ‘...Thought you might need a little help selecting your department personnel...’ For a moment, he thought the Admiral must be clairvoyant, and wondered why he would send this by courier, instead of channels? He touched on the ‘on’ button. Flipping through the pages, seeing the Admiral had sent him a copy of the fleet personnel records. There were hundreds of them here, but why? He passed the pad to Conner.