Korviaaslax – Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Eighteen – Drop Point
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Kor adjusted the strap on her shoulder slung carry-all as she exited the Citadel lander-craft, K’Na, and set her spurred boots for the first time in many cycles to Earth’s crust.
“Heavy gees. Breathe evenly and steady on, Kor,” Pauline was ever the Sergeant and Kor smiled, feeling the gravity tug at her facial muscles and everywhere else. Moving through mud would have been easier. The last time they were on Earth, they were arrested by Earth Union. JUumara had taken serious issue with that arrest. Kor breathed as instructed. Even her hair felt heavy.
“The kids would have loved this,” Kor said. “Sonata and Hak were close to insubordination for getting assigned to Myah and Kultz Hegemonies. I gave them small empires to administer and rule and they wanted to come here with us.” There’s nothing here.
“Rikita will like Minaz,” Pauline missed him excruciatingly. He was enthusiastically content to take the assignment. Relieved to be off Ra Zor and away from me, she figured accurately.
“Nice little space puddle jumper, Emperor Ship, K’Na,” Kor heard the pain in Pauline. Talking about the exceptional craft for travelling about the Hegs was one way to get this great distraction of a vacation revved and running. “We can go visit the fellas whenever we want in that.”
Pauline rallied. Altering mental set was a skill, “The kids took to Citadel and were happy about reassignment there. Emperor Chan Ling Dao, Tsua, and Xes will have their gauntlets full.”
True to his word, Chan Ling Dao had released Splendor, Cicatrix, and Ra Zor to Earth space and let them go where they willed, unboarded and unsearched. Thoroughly scanned, there was no need for a physical inspection. With one hundred new crew from Citadel distributed among the three smaller vessels, Dao would have any information he wanted about Kor’s home ships. Still, true to his word, he had given them K’Na and Citadel exited Heg space.
The jump in had taken less than seven months, Earth Standard. Her crew had been allowed to facilitate the loading of supplies, the servicing of the engines, and had supervised the installation of new antennae arrays under the guidance of Master Communication Specialists from Citadel. Kor was happy for the extended range added to each of her ship’s already impressive communication arrays. She could talk to them from any Imperial station or military service nodule, all of which were universally programmed to accept her and Pauline’s go-codes. And be monitored, no doubt, by Citadel.
Citadel’s crew, no Admirals included, now augmented fully manned Cicatrix, Ra Zor, and Aqua Splendor. KOR Corps, after much mirth, had been renamed Q-Com Fleet. Recruitment among displaced Captain-Pilots across the Hegs was underway to fill Command and crew posts for Citadel’s advanced line of ten canon ships spread out and patrolling the Nine Hegemonies. Like K’Na, they comfortably housed twelve crew, could serve as cargo haulers if need arose, and were time-leaper capable. They were sleek, small, fast, and available to the Regents of the Hegemonies and would give priority alert to any summons from Kor or Pauline Gale.
It was an iffy negotiation; the superior gunner ships from Citadel were not to interfere unless ordered to intervene by Q-Com Fleet personnel. Chain of command was Heg governor to Ra Zor to Citadel and lastly to Kor for final approval of Citadel personnel and craft deployments. She did not envy the land bound assignments of her Regent-Husbands. She had already removed several layers of despots and fascist regimes. Sustenance, maintenance, and advancement was her motto and if followed, slowly the law would action and peace would be established. They would miss piloting across starless void, but they would adjust. Land bound for two years, Catarian Standard, her husbands would be up to their hair follicles in problems and riots, disturbances and rebellions, but they would handle it. Without me.
Kor had used Ra Zor’s sendor lanes to jump mega lights to get a message to a rim quadrant Catari patrol ship. Along with a lengthy report on her husbands, her ships, her children, their voluminous accomplishments, and her new direction, she sent gratitude to JUumara for her flesh gifts and the ships. She mentioned how gracious and amenable the Emperor had been in granting her a divorce. She explained his new name and defined the word “vacation”.
So far, the Emperor was proving himself loyal and honorable as a benevolent power inside their shared realms. Citadel currently was retreating to the extra quadrants outside Earth Hegemony; farthest away from the what Kor deemed her territories. The alliance was based on the trust he had earned in releasing her and her fleet without conditions or threats. Unless endangered, she thought. She could live with that.
An exchange of personnel sealed most doubts from Kor’s crew and, half way to Earth Hegemony, they had sublimated all but a few of their apprehensions. Mostly, they were busy learning newly installed systems and ways to leap messages faster to the Hegs to worry about Citadel’s personnel aboard.
Uncontested was the fact that the jump Earthward had been productive and educational for Splendor, Ra Zor, and Cicatrix’s crews. Vigilance had proven unnecessary but Kor and Pauline maintained close scan on anything not originally Korvian. The crew from Citadel were simply brilliant officers and the terms of the divorce were honored. The kids were practically running Citadel and her husbands were content, mostly. Life was fine.
Kor and Pauline had completed their studies and practical examinations in operations of Ra Zor’s systems and was, therefore, assured of no one mutinying. The operations systems aboard Citadel were mostly temporal based and made no sense to either of them Yet. Their certification ceremony doubled as their farewell party. It had been an emotional parting with tears aplenty and hugs that did not want to release. Kor and Pauline had no idea their leaving would affect the crew with so much sentimentality. They were loved and they loved them back.
“The Emperor actually confessed that he owned no experience ruling land bound citizens,” Pauline was continuously amazed that JUu had left that out of his training. “He will have to be restrained and watched close.”
“At action,” Kor told her Co-Com. “That’s pretty much what I told the kids. I didn’t have to tell anyone else. I don’t think my Commander-husbands trust our good Emperor very much.”
Pauline chuckled and discovered that mirth was a gravity straining task also. The inequal pressure in her ears was growing painful. She offered in statement, Catarian fashion, “Emperor as a title.”
“Ancient, mostly forgotten. JUumara’s historians must have run across it and researched the eras of Kings, Queens, and Pharaohs. I hope this model remains peaceful. Those dynasties tended to end suddenly and violently.”
Earth. As they cleared the lander’s exit spaces and moved away from the craft’s shadow, a clear blue sky filled with soft white clouds caused them to squint in Sol’s brilliance. Their eye implants actioned automatically filtering out harmful and painful rays. Behind them, the ramp retracted and the portal sealed, effectively leaving them on their own.
Boston Harbor was nearby. They could smell the sea. The harbor teaming with fish and mammals, invertebrates, and returned coral and sea weed reefs filled their nostrils with an unbelievable stench.
“That explains where the term sky-blue comes from,” Pauline mentally compared holo-photos of Earth sky tone to the actual experience. The poet, Naz, had said it best: On earth you can smell the color of the sky. A slight wind touched her face and added to the sensations swirling around her like gnats. “Your world stinks but it is beautiful again.”
Brown, yellow, and dark green shadows spread beneath high rise terra cotta buildings. Everywhere the edifices were accented with multiple shades of green life. Trees. Shrubs. Further down, flowering greens were miraculously topped with white and a full pallet of colors Pauline had never imagined as natural. During their previous visits, night on Earth had been dense clouded or smog covered obscuring the surrounding constellations. Or the view from topside had been opaqued with heavily polluted rain and black polluted clouds. Tonight, they would see the sun set and full moonrise. No rain was expected. They would see the naked stars of Earth Heg.
Pauline grinned internally. A nine hour wait. We will have to find something to do before then.
Sunrise was also going to be spectacular. These were the priceless gifts JUu had given back to Earth born. Pauline inhaled deeply and coughed up phlegm for a full minute.
“That’s why we have to breathe slow and shallow, Pauli,” Korvia tight smiled warning to her co-vacationer. “Our lungs are still on the ship.”
The space port was abuzz with Emperor Chan Ling Dao’s blue-green uniforms and long cloaks patrolling or in stationary pairs. They were watching, were well-armed, and looked dangerous. No one came forward to greet Kor and her Co-Com, additional proof that the Emperor was not interfering with their drop downside as prearranged. Kor had no misgivings about how many satellite views were trained on her and Pauli or from where.
“This is going to be fun,” Pauline said, sensing quietude descend upon the woman beside her. She knew Kor missed her husbands as much as she missed Rikita.
“No, this is going to be enlightening, restful, and nostalgic, my friend. It won’t be fun until we get beyond Outer Earth’s Hegemonial borders four cycles from now.”
Kor collected Pauline’s curious-about-everything distracted gaze and smiled in spite of the drag on her facial muscles to say, “That’s when the fun will start.”
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Novel Notes: This was fun. I am glad to have been inspired by other novelists who post chapter by chapter on ukauth’s. Otherwise, I probably would not have attempted it. My thanks to the readers. I know the critics are chaffing at the bit to be at it, but no thanks. Literature should be elevating, fun, and entertaining. Working in extended prose was like an exercise regime; muscle building, balance and tone acquisitioning. The ten other novels I have been working on since 1975 will be easily transcribed now and rewritten. A style of sorts was born, grown, and matured here. Thank you for your readership. Appreciation is warm. – Author.