Korviaaslax – Chapter Three
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Chapter Three – Restoration
Pauline Gale propped her foot on the console to let the touch-up toenail polish job dry causing Korviaaslax Sapphir to look up from shifting between six contradictory sector recorded affidavits.
“JUu is very generous. Do you know why she won’t take my trans light vid-calls?” Kor asked, paused her inputs and disconnected her medular receptors. Five hours of reviewing the military operations in three Earth sectors was turning into a nightmare of that which seriously needed her interventions. She wanted a full capture of events and, thus far, did not like what was unfolding.
The Bostonian was short and owned a broad rotund face punctuated with dimples when she smiled, “It’s JUu’s nature. I was sent a messenger-notice, just before Cicatrix showed up in the Axel. It contained one line. “Ship, waiting for you to retrieve Korviaaslax Sapphir.” I looked it up. Cicatrix is new tissue that forms over a wound and later contracts into a scar. She’s practicing her earth vocabulary again.”
Closing her eyes to dump all the operations she had been reviewing for Korvia to center her thought faculties on the Moon born, Pauline told all. “Nice ship, Cicatrix. Fast too. You own Maa, Sennet, and Earth Sectors and have permission to patrol the JUu’s border worlds. Nice, huh?”
Kor rolled her right shoulder that was stiff from the morning’s therapy. “I wanted to thank her for the prison break out of WOMP, the domain gifts, and the ship. And talk to her. I miss our talks.”
The med-tec bots were impressive restoration masters, but they were merciless. They had all they needed physiologically to restore optimal human function but they had no understanding of pain. No one had designed an interface program to allow them to empathize and respond to matters of what was now mechanically deemed minor discomfort.
Finally, her headache from the morning of reading and interviews, watching recorded and live militant operations, and talking to her new fief lords and ladies vanished. The com boards on Cicatrix were advanced and human mind friendly. Delicately wrenching and shifting facial muscles, Kor looked at Pauline. “I worry about her. She’s not usually this quiet.”
“On Falling Asteroid, we couldn’t get her to be quiet.”
Korviaaslax Sapphir chuckled, the memories rushed her as she flash-scanned the layout of her private quarters. The training board was a thirty-foot half arc of perfection owning the latest communication array platform Kor had ever linked transient faculties inside. Near instantaneous reply to any inquiry and full color tri-depth modeling exhibits were ingenious. Distance was a myth. Language tutorials on unfamiliar world dialects, and live espionage agents as data guides and mentors provided her with expedited access to any militia organization’s complexes or deployed ship’s command personnel in each of the three Sectors JUu had given to her. They all knew who she was. JUu had told them already. None of them greeted her withl less than courtesy and respect. Deference would come later, after she had proven herself worthy of their loyalty.
“She wasted no time informing the Sectors they were all under my authority,” Kor said, resigned to finishing the high priority portions of the backlog of reports and requests.
“She’s thorough. Always has been. You want to know why she gave them to you, don’t you?”
Their eyes locked. Kor knew her Co-Com Pilot was not psychic. Her dossier said she did possess a high empathy rating; a plus for a co-pilot serving any vessel.
Pauline finished. “She likes you. Too much on her galactic plate at home among her Catarians. An experiment to see if a human can cut it. She likes you.”
“She took my orders aboard Fallen Asteroid to study a human’s ability to lead? Sure she did.” Kor was skeptical.
“I like you too,” Pauline pushed aside her tray and the micro-mag boards she wanted very much to complete sometime this morning. The rear sector portal seals kept separating and no one knew why.
Kor swallowed arguments and swung her gaze to the wall aquarium and frowned. Like Pauline, she wanted to resume work. Running three systems and their surrounding galactic territories was, for her, an unprecedentedly enormous amount of work. A ship, a fleet, an armada she could handle. Lay and political systems required skills she had not exactly cultivated during her career among the planes of her travels in the out reaches.
What she had learned so far troubled her, and desperately required her interventions. Her list of who was to be assigned to her General’s Corps was growing with males and females she had encountered during her sweeps along the arms of war zones and world repair size ops while searching for mineable ore. The good old days.
The wall beyond her sunken office suite contained a state of grace fusor-grid that connected to Cicatrix’s extraordinary exponential antennae array. She used to joke with JUu about talking to the fleas on Beta Kurrion from their boards. JUu had apparently taken it as a request for improved trans-galactic communication linkage. It wasn’t real time, but it was close.
“You got any questions about your ops boards?” Pauline noticed the Empress’s distraction. She grimaced. Your new title is going to be cumbersome in the command pit.
“Every op-mode offers multiple nexus source links. I need a filter squad assigned to my lists. I keep getting lost in the cross-refs and support materials. I don’t know enough.”
The wrist tranceiver went active at Pauline’s mental command and she raised it to her mouth. “Action Mt. Sapphir now, now, now!”
Kors blinked at her. “What have you just ordered?”
The link died and the arm descended to rest on the Bostonian’s full left thigh armor, the hand clutching just above the knee joint. “You don’t think I still know how to anticipate what you need, Commander. Bye the bye, what are we supposed to call you? Her Majesty?”
“Not now. How many on my mountain staff, lady?”
“Thirty-eight thousand, four hundred and twenty six. If you action Mt. Kors Erupts, you can double the number of operatives.”
“You chose them?”
Kor relaxed. If JUu had done it there would be hundreds of her spies inserted in the Tri-Systems.
“You are thinking about what JUu left behind, ain’t cha?” Pauline asked, getting up to stretch.
“Do you know?”
“Yep. Big jammin’ satellite ships on the borders and equidistantly spread throughout your territories. Nothing happens here she don’t know about. Chickie got us on her hook.”
“Makes sense she would want to keep an eye on me.”
“Not you, your enemies, opponents, Sector Liberationists, or home-grown rebellion caches. You are popular on both sides of the sector’s main coin, Your Majesty.”
“Stop. Queen Commander will do for now. I take it I have a public relations team working somewhere.”
Pauline eyed the side boards, her stomach growling. “I did that first. Soon as the Ownership Proofs were filed we took over announcement duty. Queen Commander. I like it.”
Kor blinked that off. “I do have enemies. Considerably more now.”
“Transitions are tough times, Queen Kor. We purged a lot of families, oligarchies, fascist dictatorships, splinter religious domains; the really bloody regimes. Your personal enemies went into hiding, but we found ‘em. Those that did not suicide, we ghosted or sipped. You made interesting and very creative enemies.”
“I reviewed those reports first. Your assessment of my enemies is severely under investigated. What made JUu think I could do this better than anyone else. And don’t say because she likes me.”
“Maybe she time leaped a few centuries afuture and you were more successful at stabilizing your three sectors than the other six over-lords. If she can go back and repair Earth’s seas and sky, maybe she can leap ahead and look back. Ale?”
Kor noded and Pauline moved to the side bar. She served, letting Kor think.
“Temporal management she called it. So, she may be coming to put me in charge of all nine systems.” Korviaaslax grew more pensive.
“Might also explain why she hasn’t returned your calls,” Pauline popped a fat shrimp in her mouth and noshed it.
“She trusts me because I’ve proven that I performed well at systems administration and is coming to visit to tell me how great I performed before I’ve done it.”
Pauline marked the wrinkling of skin between the Queen’s eyes and above her brows. “I’m just speculating. I got no data to support that. It just sounds like something she’d do. If I was ruler of the 12 planes with all those Hegemonies, and owned the nine systems of the old Earth Consortium, and who knows where else, I’d cheat.”
Laughter was always the outcome when Pauline came to visit. They laughed together.
Sighing was getting to be a bad habit, Kor thought. She could spend the balance of her life hours inside her trans-sect com arrays monitoring her operatives and the worlds entrusted to them. JUu’s gift was fast developing life-time consuming properties.
She looked ceilward. Her quarters owned no functional cross-lattice mega-steel support beams like in the launch bays, Command levels, and most of Cicatrix’s work spaces. Ceilings with fans. Actual fans and cleverly designed linear lights that could be dimmed or brightened at her voice command. She had startlingly discovered that the quarter’s pick-up connected instantly to anyone she wanted to talk to. That meant that talking to herself out loud was prohibited. She was going to have to address the crew soon.
Beyond the higher built sleeping cubicle cushions, developed to her body parameters that she had personally tailored for her comfort, lay a row of closets she had spent a half hour exploring. Recovering from PT, she had taken more time than she normally would have to examine miraculously cut clothes imported from the nine galaxies. The black na-silk flaring pantalons bubbled at her hips and legs and fit snug at the ankles beneath the black silk tunic, an outfit that replaced the old uniform she had worn over the last six ship shifts.
Off-duty officially, she was equally glad for the time to be debriefed by Pauline and acquire intelligence on the operations of her new systems. The former was informative and pleasant after hours of surgery and getting patched back together. The latter, a mass of conflicting and counter-productive or narcissistically protective planetary systems designed, it seemed, to lead each governing entity toward self-destruction or internal implosion.
“Make sure my adjudications are applied universally, otherwise I’ll be repeating orders a lot. Ship-wide, Sector-wide.”
“Affirmative, already done.”
They exchanged tight smiles of understanding.
“What else have you done in my name, Pauli?”
“A whole lotta good stuff. You can’t do it by yaself. Ma reports are in ya stacks somewhere, when ya have time.”
Kor nodded and resumed appraising her elaborate bordering on opulent quarters. Beyond real glass slider doors, the showers were a water-gymnast’s cross-purposed dream of mild to sting pressure and there was a pool for swimming. A big one with real water. The carpets were so thick she spent a lot of time on the floor watching upgrade vids on ship ops matrices and engineering innovations, or reading space novels, and letters from her main library reception pits on Luna, Io and Daemarr Colonies, her last ports of call inside the Earth Hegemony.
Her old crew was still bundled, waiting on ice for her return. She had immediately ordered them brought to her aboard Cicatrix. When they awoke from a five to ten-year jump, she would be ready to share many of her duties with them. They knew her ethics and morality and way of commanding war born. They were disciplined and had earned insertion into her checker board of republics, but first they would serve with her and Pauli aboard Cicatricx. She owed them that.
Working her way through six hundred thousand letters and quicket voice hails, she had little time for changing clothes and would not have showered if Pauline had not insisted. It was good having Pauline back.
Food came in, was brought to her in the baths or library, sitting room, reception el, or office cubicles wherever she worked. She rarely used the rest of the suite owning no use for formal dining spaces, a meeting hall, two five hundred capacity concert arenas, or the twelve guest rooms for visitors.
She had no idea where Pauline slept. Or when she slept.
“There is a lot of room for two people,” Kor observed, smiling at the giant rainbow eels sliding past each other in the wall aquarium like tangled live roots. Pretty was a relative term for temporal galactics.
“JUu took over all sixty-three planes and two hundred fourteen systems recently. I guess expense was not a problem.”
Korviaaslax Sapphir leaned back in the cushions and let the mechanical leather covered fingers knead away burning discomfort.
“I wish she had come with you.”
“We rendezvous in six cycles. I have a team of reconstruction artists on standby to get you dressed and your hair cut for the reunion.”
Korviaaslax ignored the undying taunting that stabbed at her physical appearance, swung her chaise to face the food and drink bar behind her pilot’s plateau. She dismounted the stage, not wanting to leave off the warmth of the black hide covered ops chaise, and got two beers, opened them, and joined Pauline who sank heavily to the sofa.
“How did earth fall? I didn’t get a lot of information inside,” Kor asked, running a survey on her body’s systems. Knots in her back and legs were gone, replaced by soreness in her neck and arms.
Pauline harrumphed. “You are lucky you survived inside WOMP. Nobody does that. Earth Force got greedy and tried to raid tech from JUu’s predecessor. The remaining ship parts are spread across the nine realms and most of ‘em are still on fire. Generous is not the word for what you acquired. You got the three prize systems; the ones least scarred by las fire or landside clashes. Earth is the jewel because of the water.”
Pauline ended the preamble. “Nilz, your old mentor, became Supreme something or other and started picking little wars with the Plane Masters. JUu’s Catarian’s don’t have patience with lesser lifeforms like us and we got swatted with Q-swarms and fabric tears. Ate whole fleets. They just vanished. Nilz suicided rather than surrender. I don’t know why. Planers have no interest in retribution. They just usurp ownership and do whatever they like with the population and the planets.”
Korviaaslax Sapphir heard undercurrents in her Co-Pilot’s statement. “That’s about how I remember Thrask’s ops. How many?”
The Queen Commander wanted death stats. Pauline exhaled hard before she recalled the numbers.
“Best guess? Two, maybe three hundred trillion dead or erased or vanished. Six month war. JUu won a dominance battle at home and came back, skipped a few centuries and cleaned up Earth. Water’s pristine. No rads, no deadly viruses because of full anti-serum and vaccinations for Earth born way in the past. The rebellious and complainers died first, the rude and disrespectful followed.”
Moon born, Kor had long ago lost interest in Earth’s expansionism to the out-reaches. Greed was an old motive, but respect and courtesy was the stamp of the Catariaa Empire. Kor decided it would be her stamp from now on.
“Earth is pretty again?”
“Blue like none found anywhere I’ve been. Fish are back and birds. Climate satellites keep the crust around that of ten million years ago and the air’ll get you high and knock you out until you acclimate. They can cool a sun, did you know? Still got snakes and spiders and alligators though. Important for the ego-system or somethin’.”
Kor chuckled, halfed the content of her beer glass. Pauline was terrified of snakes.
“Be great to see her again. You’re right. JUu knows how to select a gift for her friends.”
“Cicatrix ain’t bad,” Pauline smiled and drained the rest of her beer in a series of loud gulps, then belched long and loudly. “Ain’t bad at all.”