CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT – The Salachar

I awoke that morning like any other morning. My nightmares had decreased and I was dealing with my past traumas through therapy. It helped to have my Pebble and consulting the AI in there. I was getting better, however I didn’t know that a new trauma was lurking around the corner. 

One day, I did my usual routines like I did every day. Brushed my teeth, washed my face. I went to volunteer, teaching about Einstein’s theory of relativity. I made sure I was at my best when I did, since we also recorded it for people to watch at home. Caroline rushed in, in the middle of the class. She rushed up to me. “James! We have to go!”

“Can it wait until after class, we are almost finished!?” I replied.

“I don’t think you want to wait for this!”

I looked at her for a moment and realised she was being serious. “I’m sorry guys, we need to cut this class short but we will continue it tomorrow!”

After Caroline dragged me out of the class and we headed straight for the bridge. “Why are we going to the bridge?” I asked while we were travelling in the pod. Just then I got a call coming through to me from the Captain.

“Hello Captain, it’s been a while!” I said to the hologram of the Captain that seemed like it was embedded in the seat in front of me. 

“James, I think you should come to the bridge!”

“We are on our way!”

“What, how? Ah, Caroline?”

“Yes, she told me it was urgent.”

“You could put it that way!”

“What is it, Captain?”

“Just make your way, James! We’ll show you when you get here!” After that the hologram disappeared and all I heard were the sounds of the pod travelling through the tunnels.

“Was that the Captain?” Caroline asked.

“Yes, what is going on?” I asked Caroline.

“We’re here James, I’ll show you when we get onto the main bridge!”

“Main bridge?” Caroline said nothing as the pod came into the station. The main bridge was right next to The Pod station. As we entered, I saw a large screen at the front of the bridge and on it was a large image of several humans looking to be paler and taller versions of people from the middle east. They were floating around their bridge as they looked at us through a very large view screen. 

“What!?” I said, causing everyone to turn around.

The Captain approached me. “Ahh, James! We don’t seem to get what they are saying. Could you tell us anything about them?” 

The human-looking aliens stared for at us all and then spoke as soon as they saw me. Speaking a language I had never heard of before. It sounded like a cross between Arabic and Japanese. Their dialect was rough, sounding like a drunk German. Behind me a Tuhingan arrived announcing, “Fascinating”.

Me and Caroline turned to see him. It was the first time I saw the consoles on the side wall, with various Tuhingans sitting and operating them. The consoles sat next to the opening that was the main entrance. The Tuhingan looked at me and Caroline. “They are not human! James won’t know anything!”

“How do you know this?” The Captain asked behind me. The human-like aliens continued talking.

“Because they are speaking an evolved form of ancient Rehew!” Even more people turned around when he said that. 

“What?” asked The Captain, saying what everyone was thinking.

“They could be from the lost tribe of The Rehew that escaped.”

“Wait, we don’t need conspiracy theories right now!”

“I believe that this happened. There are too many stories to suggest that they existed! You asked me for my linguistic and historical knowledge! That is what I think!”

“Oasis!” Caroline said, breaking her silence.

“Excuse me?” The Captain asked.

“It’s their planet. The Galactic Union kept the planet secret under Act Four and Act Twelve of The Galactic Union charter. Oasis is a Biolith Class planet. They shouldn’t be here.”

“Eh, not to be ignorant or anything of Galactic Union law, but what does that mean?” The translator asked. 

“We considered them to be a non-space faring species, so we kept them secret to protect them. But these are some special circumstances and the Galactic Union has decided that you should know the details.”

“So who are they?” The Captain asked.

“They’re Rehew. Like he said, they are the ones that fled the war. With a damaged ship they only just got to a new system which had a habitable planet for them to live.” Silence filled the room as most people in the room had their jaws dropped to the floor. It shocked all of them to hear Caroline admit this. “The Galactic Union also demands that this information should not leave the people in this room. Sharing this information will be punishable with annihilation” Again silence.

I looked around at them all and could see a bannister in the centr of a room that wrapped around a platform at the back. On that platform were various consoles where Tuhingan sat. Under the barrier, in the centre of the room, was the Captain’s chair with four others. On the opposite side of the room was another entrance, various consoles in small spaces against the walls and a door in the corner next to the large viewer. The whole setup reminded of the fictional ship Enterprise with Captain Picard. 

The sight of it all made me feel excited. It almost felt like being on a science fiction show. Then I snapped back to reality when The Captain spoke.

“We should invite them on board, materialise some BCI’s into their heads. Then we will understand them.”

“What if they are aggressive?” A Tuhingan asked, sitting at a console at the back of the room.

“How many of them are there on board?” The Captain asked the Tuhingan sitting at a console next to the viewer. 

“Just eight, Captain!” The Tuhingan replied.

“We should be fine! Open the hanger!” She said to a Tuhingan sat at a console on the back wall.

“Hanger opening!” 

We could see the Rehew in the ship floating towards various consoled on their bridge and strapping themselves in. It appeared like they were getting ready. 

“Captain, the unknown vessel is moving towards the hanger!”

“Good, keep me updated through the BCI!” The Captain announced. “Caroline, James, Relatus and all the armed guards in here, come with me!”

The Captain looked at the translator when she said Relatus. Then we began marching down the corridors in the bridge section.

The hanger we came to was that large space us refugees materialised into when we first came onto The Liberty. I didn’t realise that the room that was full of various camping supplies at the time was an airlock. We stood in that room, now empty and waited.

I could see The Captain was staring into the air. “Captain, what are you looking at?” I asked.

“Just watching the Rehew ship come on board. I’m watching the scanners to see their movements and know where they are!” The Captain responded nervously. “This has been only the second time I have had to deal with strangers coming unannounced to the ship!”

“It doesn’t happen often?” I asked.

“The Liberty is hidden. Most people come through the EMC machines. Often the ships that come are expected. People rarely find us or just stumble across us. These are no ordinary visitors either!” At that moment around ten more guards came through behind us. By that point, fifteen guards surrounded us.

I nodded in agreement. There were yellow strip lights that wrapped around the door into the hanger. “There here!” The Captain said, then it wasn’t long before the lights around the door turned blue. We all hurried through the door as soon as it opened and the guards followed, surrounding a ramp that had lowered from this beautiful alien ship. The door on the ship was still closed and we could see it open as me, Caroline and the translator were approaching behind. 

It astonished me to see the size of the ship. I knew the size of the hanger was enormous, but I could never consider its size considering that I had nothing to compare it to. Here was something that landed and we could compare it to. The ship was very curvaceous. It had large rings wrapped around the vessel which was connected by some strong looking supports. The rings themselves had feet protruding from them to prevent the whole thing from rolling when landed. 

The ramp was long and had to go up to door situated around twenty-five metres up. The ship itself was long and had many portholes. It must have had around five or six floors. The length of the ship must have been a hundred metres long. It was so beautiful.

Overtaking us, I saw several drones enter the room, looking to carry what looked to be portable EMC turrets. They placed the EMC turrets around the guards. Some remained hovering in the air. There were eight drones that surrounded the area we suspected the crew of this ship to end up. 

There was one woman in a space suit who came out onto the ramp. She said something in their alien tongue and spread out her arms from her body. She looked at all the guards and drones surrounding her position and walked cautiously down the ramp. I looked around at the reception she was receiving and thought I had to do something before it became too tense in here.

These didn’t seem stupid and we couldn’t communicate. I thought the sight of all these guns on our side would make our visitors feel uncomfortable and I have seen too many movies to know that this wouldn’t end well. I walked over to The Captain and whispered with her.

“Captain! Look around us! We are looking very aggressive. We should get rid of the guards and the drones. I’ll take our guest to the airlock where you can use the EMC turrets there!”

The Captain looked at me for a moment, staring at me. “James, you can’t speak their language! How are you going to ask them to go to the airlock?”

I knew the Rehew were very close to humans, we had the same anatomy. I had a great belief that we could communicate through body language alone. On Earth, it didn’t matter where you were from, everyone used the same body language and facial expressions. “Trust me, Captain, they are practically human!”

Another stare from The Captain. I could see her thinking as the woman came closer to the bottom of the ramp. The Captain looked back up to the door of the ship, just in time to see a flash of a gun from someone hidden behind the door. I saw it too. “Okay, James! You bring them to the airlock! Me and Relatus will go with the guards!”

“Okay!” The Captain sent out a message to all the guards and drones. The drones then went back into the airlock and the guards stood down, following the drones not long after. They all disappeared into the airlock, leaving only me, Caroline and the Rehew. I felt so nervous, but I took a deep breath, then turned and faced the woman. 

“Why did they leave?” Caroline asked in a hushed tone.

“I asked them too, I think all the guns would scare them!” I said, nodding towards the ship. She looked up and seemed confused. 

I walked forward and attempted to make first contact. “Hi!” I said. The woman just looked me up and down. She then said a sentence through her suit’s speaker in disgust. Then spat at the bottom of her visor and grunted at the sight of her spit. I was shocked for a moment and looked at Caroline, Caroline just looked back at me in silence. 

I took a step back and tried to gesture towards the airlock door. “Come!” I said in my calmest tone. She said a sentence in a fearful tone and then seemed to correct herself to seem tough. She backed away from me with her hands held out.

I received a message from The Captain at that point and I could glance it while I continue to stare at this woman. ‘Everything okay? Do you need us back?’ The Captain said.

‘It’s okay! I got this!’ I sent back. I could see the woman placing her hand on her helmet with a face, looking like she was concentrating. She then began talking and took her eyes off me as she walked slightly up the ramp. 

At that point I received a message from The Captain again. ‘James, just come back! They will come in their own time!’ I forwarded the message to Caroline and then looked over to her with my best impression of being confused. Caroline shrugged at the message.

I looked back up to see the woman take off her helmet and take a deep breath. Her hair falling elegantly out. She was beautiful in a tough but elegant kind of way. Her movements were rough as she put her helmet on the floor and walked with heavy footing down the ramp. She approached me and stopped with her face near to my own. I felt like she was almost about to headbutt me. She narrowed her eyes and then said, “Come!”

There was a moment where I was in fear and admiration of this woman. I didn’t respond and so she gestured with her eyes towards the airlock.

I came out of my trance. “Ah, yes…. Come!”

I guided her through to the airlock. Worried how she will act when the EMC machines did their work. Me and Caroline walked through first, spotting everything set up as soon as we entered. It was obvious. I began looking at everything and then heard The Captain’s hushed tone. “James, keep walking!”

I realised I should keep my eyes forward and walked towards the direction of the other door in the airlock. Hearing the woman shout an alien word behind me. I spun around to see and wanted to go back out. But then a Tuhingan guard ran from next to the door we entered and tackled the woman towards me and Caroline. After that, the EMC machine froze us.

The guard was being held up as he flew in the air, tacking the Rehew. The Rehew woman was stumbling and was frozen in the air as she was falling. Me and Caroline just stood there, frozen. Me fearing the moment we are unfrozen and the woman would fall on me. But also reassuring myself that it wouldn’t happen. 

The sound of wind came from the direction of the woman. It reminded me of when I first got my BCI back on the cargo ship. How scary it was to be frozen with those alien insects doing as they please. I knew she probably wanted to scream out in fear but couldn’t.

The sound of wind soon settled and then I could hear The Captain speak. 

“I am sorry for your treatment! I hope you can understand me now. The computer should process your language, so you will be able to talk to us soon! We needed to keep you still like this to implant a chip in your head. This chip enables you to interact with the computer systems on board The Liberty, the ship you are on! I know you must be scared right now, but when we release you we want you to keep calm.”

During The Captain’s speech, they released me and Caroline. It relieved me to have my freedom again. I could see a few Tuhingan guards getting ready to release their colleague. They released him and they all ended up falling onto the floor, with the woman still frozen.

“Captain!” We heard one guard say, looking out from the room.

“What is it?”

“Her shipmates are out of the ship with guns ready!”

“We need to be quick then. Remember, don’t shoot to kill! They cannot dematerialise once their body dies!” The Captain came over to the woman. “Please get your people to stand down! We don’t want any problems!” The Captain stepped backwards away from the woman. Once she was around two metres away from her, she shouted, “okay, now, release!”

The woman fell to the floor and the Captain held out her hand. The woman then grabbed her and in a flash, held a knife to the Captain’s throat. Her holding the Captain in front of her with the Captain facing out and her having to crouch to keep at the same level as the Captain.

“Don’t even try it!” The woman said as the guards held their guns ready.

“This is not good! Please, we mean you no harm!” said Caroline. 

“Then why put me through that pain!” she said, confused.

“So we can understand you!” Caroline said.

“Wait, how do we understand each other!” The woman said as she loosened her grip on The Captain.

The guards at the door stood with her shipmates approaching. One shot a plasma round at the floor in front of the crew. A bang was heard from one of their guns.

“Please, tell your crew members to stand down!” The Captain said to this woman. The woman gripped the Captain hard as gunfire began on both sides. “Stand down!” The Captain shouted to the guards, “leave the room!” 

“But…” one guard complained, but soon they were quiet as it was apparent that they received a message. They all soon turned and marched out of the room, leaving me, Caroline, The translator and The Captain with the woman. The woman saw them all leave and backed away, holding The Captain at knifepoint.

“Are you really Rehew?” Asked the translator. 

“What?” said the woman, panicked.

“Are you Rehew? If you are, then I am so happy that you have returned!”

“Eh, well, of course. Aren’t they Rehew?” she said, nodding towards me and Caroline.

“I’m Human from Earth!” I responded. 

The woman was right at the entrance to the airlock at that point, stopping before she dragged The Captain into the hanger. She looked at me confused. “You mean like the legends of our lost homeworld? That Earth?” 

“Eh, I don’t know about any legends and it wasn’t lost when I was last there.”

“What about her? Also, human?”

“Hmm, she is more machine than human!” I joked with a small laugh.

“I am not!” Caroline responded. “I am a Human Companion.”

“What is that?” The woman asked.

“It’s complicated, we must explain to you later.” As the woman looked down towards the ground feeling confused, she loosened her grip on The Captain and let her go. The Captain rubbed her neck where the knife was and turned round to the woman.

“This is The Liberty! An old Rehew flagship that has been involved in many treaties being made with various species across the galaxy. The original Rehew crew were killed during the Popularis Liberation war.” The Captain said before being interrupted by the woman.

“Ahh, Popularis!” The woman spat on the floor! “All their species did was take from the Maat Empire! Once we rise again, then they will be squashed like the bugs they are!”

“The Popularis are valued members of The Galactic Union! You will not get a chance to ‘squash them like bugs’!” Caroline said in disdain for this woman’s manner. 

“What! Those pigs slaughtered millions of my people! Brought down the great Maat Empire. They are the reason and drive for us to scour the skys for a way to leave Oasis!”

“That would explain the frequent claims of piracy in and around your sector!” 

“What is going on?” One of her crew asked her behind her.

“They implanted some technology in me so I can talk to them. Now I’m not so sure I want to talk to them! They tell me the Popularis are with them, the two Rehew looking creatures are not Rehew and that they think we are nothing more than pirates!” 

“THE POPULARIS!” The stranger shouted from behind the wall and then spat.

“We don’t want any trouble!” The Captain began. “We do not think you are pirates and we are peaceful here!”

“Then why did she talk about piracy?” The woman said, pointing at Caroline. 

“Eh, I…” Caroline began.

“The Companions work for The Galactic Union. Scum, I would say, but here I am, on my ship, being told what to do by these disrespectful idiots!” Caroline just looked shocked at the Captain as she said this.

“Why do you allow her to be here?” The Rehew woman asked.

“To look after this weak character. We were trying to do right by the galaxy bringing his kind on board. We hoped he would be Rehew. None of that was true and now they waste our air with every breath that they take!”

The woman began laughing, hard. “I like you! You are quite strong for a Tuhingan!” 

“Thank you!” The Captain said.

“Do you have these Popularis on board here?”

“None! They serve on Galactic Union ships and this is not the Galactic Union!”

“Captain!” Caroline interjected.

“These scum like to think that they are though!” The Captain continued after glancing at Caroline. I placed my hand on Caroline, understanding what was happening and trying to prevent Caroline from ruining the moment. “You, the original Rehew, have been long awaited for, however! You will get our finest hospitality and any help you require from us!”

We could see the woman looking at the rest of her crew around her as she stepped backwards into the hanger during this conversation. Her grin was huge and she told her shipmates what the Captain just said. They were all grinning the same way.

“Good, that is what we want to hear!” The woman demanded. It was shocking to see how aggressive these Rehew were. “There is something I should tell you. We found out about you through some strange biological blob that was sending many crazy signals out. We ran it through our ship’s translation unit and we figured out that they were broadcasting your location in many ways and directions!”

“What are you talking about?” Caroline said, shocked.

The woman glanced at Caroline and then continued to talk to The Captain. “The large blob-like creature is on its way here! It looks kind of dangerous and we weren’t far ahead of it! Captain, you need to take action, I’ve seen this thing take on countless ships! But with this original classic Rehew capital ship, perhaps we can make some real damage!”

The Captain just stood there frozen on the spot staring at the woman. Caroline ended up breaking the silence. 

“How did they get past the Galactic Unions sensors!?”

“Maybe these Galactic Unions sensors aren’t that good?” The woman said sarcastically. Caroline was ignoring her.

“Captain, we have called for reinforcements, although I am afraid they won’t arrive on time. There is a spatial disruption on its way towards us! We have to take action!”

“How is it we have only just found this spatial disruption?” The translator asked.

“We never felt the need to activate sensors considering this system only has The Liberty in it. Most ships visiting either come peacefully for The Liberty or don’t even know it’s here!” Caroline explained.

“Wait!? Don’t you guys have a warp capable ship? Can’t you just warp out of here?” The Rehew Captain asked.

The Captain just stood there staring as we were all expecting her to say something. Caroline seemed to concentrate on something that distracted her. I looked around the room at the translator, then back at the woman. 

“Eh, afraid not!” I said. Silence continued as the woman just stared at me.

“We have to get to the bridge!” Caroline broke her silence. “Come, Captain!” she said as we all headed out the door and The Captain remained for a moment. 

“Eh, yeah sure!” The Captain said. She did not seem to do well with this news.

We all rushed to the bridge and entered. “Haha, finally! We can get this tub battle ready!” The woman moved over to a few consoles. “Move over, servants!” She said as she approached the consoles. The Tuhingan just looked at each other. “I said move!” They hurried out the way as she pushed them. She began typing on the console. 

“I don’t understand these controls! Where is the weapons console?” She asked as she seemed to find it hard to focus. “This writing, it seems to make sense and then not! I don’t quite understand…”

One of her crew members came over. “Captain, this console is full of nonsense. How can you make sense of this?”

The woman looked like she found it hard to focus. “I don’t quite understand!”

“Your BCI is struggling to help you. It hasn’t fully connected to your brain yet. You need to give it time!”

The woman grunted and looked at the consoles, “What are these consoles so small?” It was clear she was referring to the height of them. 

“Captain, what should we do?” Caroline said.

“Eh…” The Captain just stood there.

“Okay, everyone. We are about to be attacked by the technologically advance Myrmekes! We need to prepare ourselves and prepare the ship!” Caroline walked over to the viewscreen. “You!” She pointed at a random Tuhingan. “Scan for an asteroid that might have a large enough cavity to hide in!”

“Me?” The Tuhingan said and then looked at The Captain. 

She looked at Caroline and then the Tuhingan. “Do as she says!” The Captain says. “Helm, as soon as we find that asteroid, hide the ship in there!”

“Yes, Captain!” The Tuhingan responded. The Captain sat down in her chair, back into action. 

“Set condition yellow throughout the ship!” The Captain announced and then spoke into her chair. “Warning, this is condition yellow! This is not a drill, wish it was, but it really isn’t. Keep each other safe and let’s get through this!” The Captain sat up straight in her seat. “I have never had to announce that. I hope people don’t panic and remember their training from school.”

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