Chapter 2

"What were those things?" Demora asked. She and Ankh Starrunner were on the bridge while the crew was repairing the ship.

"As you might have guessed, they were Aliens."

"Oh my god..." Demora whispered. "That's impossible! Even the Rebellion records show that the Aliens were completely terminated!"

Ankh shook his head. "Well, it seems that those records are far too optimistic." He looked around. "How long will the repairing take?"

"Not long, I guess. But there's some major problem with the shield generators, and we can't activate the main power core without the protecting fields, y'know."

"I might be able to do something to it. I used to work as an engineer on a warship, so I may know some ways to repair shield generators that your engineers do not."

"Well, go ahead and try, it's fine with me." Demora said, and led Ankh Starrunner into the machine room.

"How did you get your name?" Demora asked. "Starrunner. That was my callsign, a nickname I had during the Great War. And Ankh... that is a long story, one we do not have the time for. Simply call me Ankh, if you like. Oh, here is the problem."

"What is this... er... thing?" Demora asked. "It is a replicator tank." Ankh said.

"Great. So what does it do?" Demora asked.

Ankh looked disappointed. "I believe I have to explain the entire shield system for you. In a nutshell: The shield is a huge magnet, which keeps replicated particles near the ship. Always when the shields are damaged, some of the particles are released, and the replicator creates then more particles, thus recharging the shields. Did you understand? Now this machine is used to replicate the particles."

"Guess so. Now what's wrong with this machine?" Demora asked.

"Well, some cables are broken, one of the Combining Accelerators is burned, and the..."

Ankh started. "Yes, yes, but can you fix it?" Demora asked.

"In a couple of hours, I believe." Ankh said. "Well, that's great! I'll go and look what the crew has done. I'll come back soon." Demora promised and walked out of the machine room.

The repairs were going faster than she had guessed. The hull was badly damaged, of course, and they couldn't repair it from inside, but the engines were soon online. In a couple of hours, the ship was ready for a hyperjump.

"Finally." Demora said. "Now, where shall we go?" she asked.

"Lethe Prime is the nearest planet that has the technology to repair the damages the ship has suffered." Ankh informed her.

"Make it so. Set course to the Lethe system."

"Aye, captain." said the navigator and turned to the computer.

"I'll be in my private room." Demora said, leaving the bridge. Ankh followed her.

"How did you know that I was in a trouble?" Demora asked. She had taken Ankh into her private room in order to get some answers.

"Well, I had someone to keep an eye on you all the time since you leaved Yemuro. It was a good fortune that I was here personally when you were attacked." he answered, looking Demora calmly. "Where do you keep the crystal?" he asked.

"You knew I had it?"

"The attack against you proved it."

Demora sighed. "I have it right here." she said, opening the bag on her belt.

"How did you ever learn about the crystal?" Demora asked.

"Now, that is a long story." Ankh said, taking the robe out from his head. For the first time Demora could see his face well. He looked quite young; he had black hair and blue intelligent eyes, smooth skin, sharp nose and no marks of age.

"It all started during the Great War."

"So. You fought in the Great War." Demora said.

"Yes, I indeed did. But not for the Confederation; I was a member of the Farlander Squadron."

"Farlander Squadron... I have heard that name before."

"The Farlander Squadron as it was called outside the Finnish Union was a small fleet from the planets that were isolated from the Confederation."

"What is the Union? I've heard, of course, about the skirmishing at the borders, but the Confederation has seized all travel to Union."

"A relic of the old governments that existed in Earth before the spaceflight was invented. Today the Union of Nordic Worlds, as its official name is even though it is now usually called the Finnish Union, is simply an alliance of free planets. As I already said, it was founded before spaceflight was invented, in 21st century, to secure the peace in the North Europe. Afterwards it was one of the governments that colonized planets in the Galaxy. They fought against the Aliens during the Great War, yet in the Final Battle, the Confederation betrayed the Union and destroyed the Farlander Squadron."

"Final Battle? Never heard of it." Demora interrupted.

"The battle of Perseus, in the seventh year of the War. It is told that the new Confederate ships and weapons turned the tide, but that is not the truth. The Confederates could hardly defend themselves against the aliens. The Final Battle turned the tide." He moved nervously.

"Yes, I still remember that day. A glorious battle it was: the mighty fleets of the Confederation and The Union, together, stroke down the Weapon, which fell down to Pegasos. But alas, when the battle was over, the Confederation Navy attacked the Farlander Squadron, and chased them back to the Northern Borders."

"And the Crystal I have..." Demora started, "Is a part of the Weapon, yes. And that is why the Aliens are chasing you." Ankh replied.

"But why you are helping me?" Demora asked. "Because I am a member of the Astral Knights." Ankh said. "Astral Knights? What are they?" Demora asked.

"An organization set with the task of restoring the galactic balance. It is us who protect the mankind while the rest of the humanity fights against itself." Ankh said.

"Well, would you continue your story?" Demora suggested.

"There is not much to be told anymore. Some months ago, an extraordinary number of ships were lost in the Trugati asteroid belt. I decided to investigate the matter. It did not take long to discover that they always destroyed ore freighters coming from Pegasos. And once I saw them. They were disabling an ore freighter, and one thing caught me by surprise. They did not destroy it in the first place, instead they made an attempt to board the freighter. So I guessed that they were searching for something, that was in Pegasos, since there were only fighters, but not any sort of cargo ships. At that point it was easy to guess what they were looking for."

"Why were you in New Istanbul, then? Did you know-"

"Yes. After I knew what I was searching for, it was easy to find out where the crystal was. I have some contacts there, so it was easy to get hold of the databanks. It took only a few hours to find out that a certain Albert McRivan owned the crystal. Then I only had to get access to the main databanks of the spaceport, and after that I tracked him to New Istanbul."

"Albert! I forgot about him. Is he in danger?"

"Probably not, at least the Aliens will not harm him. Yet, the soldiers who attacked us at the New Istanbul spaceport bar were definitely not aliens. So, after the repairs are complete, we will head to Nemesis, where he now is."

"How do you know that?" Demora asked.

"I ordered my own ship to follow him and report to me about his movements. I did not know who the attackers were, so I saw it fit to keep him under my eye for a while as well."

"I see." Demora said, thinking about all she had heard. "What kind of ship do you have?" Demora asked curiously. "You will see her soon enough. She is going to surprise you." Demora thought that she had seen a faint smile on Ankh's face, but if so, it was soon away.

After a few hours the S.S. Floveria entered the Lethe system. There was a little firefight - three Lethean attack fighters were defending their supply freighter against a couple of Cydonian fighters - but Demora did not care about them. She asked for a landing clearance and after asking some questions the Spaceport Traffic Control allowed them to land. After landing to Lethe Prime, Demora instantly begun the repairs.

In the evening she was relaxing with Ankh in the Lethe Prime Spaceport bar. "It's going to cost a lot", Demora said to Ankh.

"Those Lethean engineers work hard but take much", Ankh answered.

"Yeah, that's right. Well, they say the ship'll be ready tomorrow."

"That is a good thing. We have to hurry, so it is acceptable to pay a small extra to get going as fast as possible. This place is not one of the safest spaceports I have been to."

"Yeah, well, maybe you're right. Is there any news? About Albert?"

"According to my sources, his ship is being refitted; an operation that will take several days. So, if we are lucky, we might well arrive there before he leaves."

At the very moment an alarm started screaming. The soldiers who were in the bar instantly ran off.

"What now?" Demora asked.

"It seems that the Cydonians have attacked this system." Ankh replied, perfectly calm.

"I suggest that we go to your ship. I doubt that the Lethean engineers are now repairing it, they are probably too busy with their own ships."

Demora looked at Ankh with a terrified look on her face. Then she ran to her ship, followed by Ankh. As they came to the ship, it was just like Ankh had predicted: all the Lethean engineers were away.

"Great." Demora said. "Well, what do we do now?" she asked.

"I suggest you order your crew to work and get busy. Our time is running out." Ankh looked at the ship, estimating the damages remaining. "If we work as fast as we can, I would say we could get it done in three hours. That is, if we leave the cargo bay as it is, but it is not a crucial part."

"Well then, get to work, all of you!" Demora said to the crew.

The ship was still damaged in most parts, Demora noticed. The cargo hold was badly damaged, and could not carry cargo; the wings were crippled, and the hull was damaged here and there; but most of the damages could be repaired pretty fast. With the expection of cargo hold.

"We'll leave the cargo hold; we have to repair the wings." Demora ordered.

After the crew had worked for four hours, the ship was ready to depart. "It's about time", Demora said. "Now, we will leave."

Soon the ship rose from the ground, and headed out of the atmosphere. As soon as they were in space, out of Lethe Prime's atmosphere, the sensor operator gave a cry.

"Look, captain! Seems like the Cydonians have won the battle." Demora looked at the radar.

"What is that fighter doing? Just like it would be flying to us..."

Demora said. Then, in the radar screen, they saw an object parting the fighter.

"Damn! They're shooting at us!" Demora said, just as the explosion waved the ship.

"Our shields are down to 50%, captain!" The first officer said.

"Ma'am! They fired a missile towards us!"

"Can we dodge it?"

"Captain", the helmsman said, "our missile jammer is offline."

An explosion again waved the hull.

"There's another missile!" The sensor operator said.

"Captain, if it hits, we're space meat!" the first officer shouted. "Would you allow me?" Ankh asked. Without waiting for a reply, Ankh took the flightstick. Instantly he turned the ship towards the missile.

"Ankh!" Demora cried. "You're flying towards the missile!"

But Ankh didn't listen. He accelerated the ship to it's maximum speed, and flew towards the missile.

But Ankh knew what he was doing.

Just when the missile was hitting them, Ankh turned the ship away to the left, out of the missile's way. The missile couldn't change its course fast enough, and it harmlessly flew behind the ship. With it's guidance system down, it flew away a few moments, then exploding.

Demora was astonished. "Ankh! How... I thought we were going to die!"

"Well, not quite. You are very clearly alive, and so are most of you others too, expect that you are all remarkably pale..."

"That's astonishing, how did you do it?"

"I flew the ship right towards the missile, so it changed its targeting mode from tracking to hitting. Then I flew the ship out of its way, and because it had lost its tracking lock, it could not track us. I have been studying missiles a bit, as you probably can see."

For a moment there was a silence of astonishment, then Demora finally really understood.

"All I can say is thank you, Ankh. You just saved us."

"That is my mission, like I told you." Ankh stood up from the console and walked away from it. "Now, may I suggest we leave this system before some other ship decides to attack us?" he asked.

"Yes", Demora said. "Helm, make an automated hyperspace path through Aries, Tryvin, Regulus, Pelagon, and Nexus systems to Nemesis system. Prepare the sleeping pods."

"Aye aye, ma'am", the operator said, turning to the computer.

"In these circumstances someone should stay at the bridge even during the time we are in hyperspace", Ankh said.

"Yeah. We'll be fine. We will take turns; I will be the next 24 hours, Ankh after that, and then you, ILaren", Demora said to her first officer.

"Well then, I will go to my fighter; I think its engines need some tuning."

"You aren't going to sleep, are you?" Demora asked.

"After living for years in the low gravity and timelessness of space, one gets used of reserving energy and working in longer periods."

"Okay, I'll call you then."

The first chapter of the War of the Nary-Crystal is visible (url="http://"http://www.AmbrosiaSW.com/cgi-bin/ubb/newsdisplay.cgi?action=topics&number;=20&forum;=EV/EVO+chronicles&DaysPrune;=25&article;=000002&startpoint;=")http://www.AmbrosiaS...002&startpoint=(/url)here

It's nice to see a story with a female protagonist, especially as captain of a ship! But for being a captain, she seems a bit indecisive and not nearly arrogant enough, n'est-ce pas? Let her do sonething other than ask questions and seek advice, okay? Otherwise, cool story so far.

Well, try to assume her part. She has just been under attack by an alien race thought to have been eliminated in the Great War, nearly had her ship blown up, and then this strange cape-wearing person comes over to her ship and states he's there to save her life. Of course she's a bit confused, right?

Thanks for the input. The next chapter should be coming soon... 😉

"I don't say yes or no, more like the other way around"

Ankh Starrunner, The Diamond Blaster


Originally posted by Ankh Starrunner:
**The next chapter should be coming soon...;)


A scholar's ink lasts much longer than a martyr's blood. - Irish proverb.