Authors: Colin Alexander
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Adventure, #Space Opera
That tableau remained frozen for an eternity that may have lasted two minutes. It ended when the main door began to slide open.
“Shoot now!” I shouted, but she did not. I could see a smile beginning to form on Tyaromon’s face and I knew we were sunk.
Compared to the dim lighting in the hall, the corridor beyond the door was brightly lit. It forced me to squint as I looked for the advancing guards, as though it mattered how well I saw them. I thought it odd that I couldn’t make them out, light or no light. Then I realized that there were none and my fear turned to puzzlement.
Shortly, a single figure appeared in the doorway. He made his slow way down the main aisle to where we stood. He was an older Srihani, with iron gray hair and eyes and a face as wrinkled and seamed as old leather. He wore the uniform of a Fleet captain, a Fleet Command ribbon at his throat. His blaster never moved from its holster. He strode deliberately toward us, then halted just out of line of Tyaromon’s blaster.
“Governor Tyaromon, I am Fleet Squadron Commander Lynnar a Vittanomor.” He spoke calmly, as though he saw situations like this every day.
“Squadron Commander,” Tyaromon said, as though he didn’t quite believe the situation, “if you have eyes you can see what has gone on here. I would appreciate your help in taking these two into custody.”
“I am afraid not,” Lynnar said. “Put down that blaster, Tyaromon. I have placed your space defenses under the command of my squadron and I have landed here with my own troops to secure this compound. Fortunately, your guards recognize the authority of the emperor, so there has been no fighting.”
“By what right and for what reason have you done this?” Tyaromon demanded. “I am the Imperial authority on Kaaran, not you! I will see you in command of a refueling station around a black hole!”
“No, Tyaromon. The Fleet has received information that you betrayed Emperor Jerem. As far as your forces know, their first loyalty is to the emperor. They had no trouble when I put them under my orders. But this information does make me wonder where your first loyalty is, Tyaromon.”
“What information?” Tyaromon demanded. Lynnar inclined his head at us. “What?” Tyaromon laughed, “Wild accusations by a renegade daughter and a freebooter, no matter how he dresses. You usurp my authority on this? You will be lucky if Fleet High Command does not drop you into a black hole when I am done.”
“It is not just us,” I interrupted. “The information came from your own military advisor, Norboh.”
“Ah, yes,” Tyaromon said, “another who ran off some time ago. His body was found in an off-limits part of the capitol this morning. This is a fine bunch you have put together, Squadron Commander.”
“Not so, Tyaromon. The accusation comes from Danny a Troy who is Imperial Governor of Lussern, a rank that has been confirmed even if the information has been withheld by the Fleet. I am sure you would not expect us to advertise that we are putting freebooters in charge of systems. As you know, when a charge is made by one of that rank, the Fleet officer in charge has considerable discretion in how to proceed.
is how I choose. Now put down that silly blaster, Tyaromon. I am in command here.”
At Lynnar’s words, Tyaromon sagged. Forgotten, the blaster dropped from his hand. I let out a deep breath, feeling the ache in every muscle of my body. Then Lynnar turned to me.
“Your boat sent your message, but your pilot added the comment that you had returned here to confront Tyaromon, a good thought on his part for your sake. I have a son, Ferens, who you may remember. It occurred to me that if I could land a force right here, I might be able to save you and pay his debt. It’s fortunate that your new rank gave me the necessary flexibility to do so.”
At that, I felt a broad grin break on my face. At my side, Jaenna shifted to aim directly at her brother, who had sat, petrified, while the fighting had raged.
“Go ahead and finish it, brother,” she said. “It doesn’t mean anything anymore, but I always said I would be here for your ceremony and I always keep my promises.”
here you have it, the story of my life, at least up to the time that Lynnar showed up like the Good Witch of the North and saved my bacon. I’ve set this story out, not for the sake of my ego and certainly not for an advance I will never see, but because I figured that you ought to know what it’s like out here. Earth may lie outside Imperial space, but it has been visited by the empire and not just as a freebooter hidey-hole. I’ve found maps and reports in various archives on the Roman and Chinese civilizations. My guess is it’s just chance that the high tide of the Sri’Andor didn’t sweep Earth into the empire. Those reports seem to date from when the expansion stopped about two thousand years ago. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I’ll leave as an exercise for the interested reader, but the point is that the war that is reaching a rolling boil here could easily spill over in your direction. Of course, that may not happen. Maybe Earth will be left to its own folly, with no need to worry about emperors and fleets and Carrillacki. Maybe. And maybe someday some kvenningar is going to show up in orbit with what sounds like a real sweetheart deal. You have been warned.
My story ends where it does mostly because that’s a convenient point. I’ve told enough for you to know what is happening, and, frankly, I don’t have the time to keep at it. We’re in the middle of a galactic civil war and I have a devastated planet to keep me busy. I realize that ending it at this point will leave some of your questions unanswered. Did Jaenna and I live happily ever after? Did we have kids? Did I ever tell her about hiding behind the curtain? With all due respect, you’ll just have to wonder.
Even if the lack of answers to those questions disappoints you, and even if you don’t care about what may be lurking around in space, there is something this story
do for you. The next time you play one of those trivia games, and someone asks you, “Whatever happened to Danny Troy, the Dallas quarterback who sparked their great Super Bowl comeback?” well, now you know.
Danny a Troy
Fleet Captain and
Imperial Governor of Lussern
New Baynriche, Lussern