|Draft at writing.com 1.
3.Body-Back to the barrier of the Milky Wayers
Most all of the crew is back on Earth a decade after our first adventure[ to be posted soon ]. The decision is made to go back to the barrier with a new ship. We encounter the leaders of our galaxy. Just as the discovery unfolds we are found by the next galaxy. Our heroes predict what they should do and the action, suspense, and relationships begin again.
Previously on Peter China...
The Histories bring you from the present to the time of the story. The Beijing is introduced. We began with our antihero Peter China and crew stealing an artificial lifeform No. IX and being sent out to a newly contacted world called Seko. Pete aquires Watch.
Mission One is about the aquisition of the ESS.
The Return sees Pete arrested.
MIssion Two Peter returns to Seko with a priest.
The crew tries to Return Again to Earth with others.
In Mission Three they are diverted to New Planet and then boarded. They escape, fight, escape again, and are sent back to Earth.
At The End the Beijing is reintroduced.
Next: the continuation
The story resumes in the next millenium. Watch, Ix and ESS have descendants that begin a quest to find the oldest civilization. They require the help of the Timemasters. The group is sent on a research project to find the end of known prehistory. Discovery reveals the people of the galactic supercluster's first protocivilzation.
The Return of the Beijing
The crew of the Beijing was still in a cloudy haze mentally as they instinctively began the docking procedures with space station Helen of Troy. Beijing's computer was up to the task. She and her dazed crew manuevered into the correct port on Helen of Troy that had been built just for this exercise four decades earlier. It was worth the wait. Since then however it became dated and saw little use and was assumed to never complete its original purpose. Surprise can be wonderful. New ships and docks came and went, but old 4250 was never abandoned or rebuilt. Perhaps some glimmer of hope remained eternal. It was occasionally maintained just in case. The case developed. Beijing was unusually well preserved for her age. Her wear was that of a vessel half her age. There was something strangly timeless about her. The docking crew on Helen of Troy was working overtime on this monumental piece of history. Seldom did recovery occur this way. The greatest mission of its kind believed a failure, the Beijing lost, the rescue mission nearly wasted, and time forgotten only to end in triumph unexpected. It is serendipity from a ghost ship returned.
Captain Lee began task orientation by getting Beijing's crew to pay attention to the immediate concern. Complete docking. His mind was beginning to flood with thoughts when it occurred to him that orders need be simple till everyone absorbed their shock.
"Everybody on the ball. Check that. Attention!" he commanded. "Let's do this in one take so the games can begin. Check that. Turn to on the rendezvous. Carry on." He could not help but oscillate from the familiar to the professional because of his mixed emotions. He felt the joy of homecoming and the urge to lead.
The docking area for such vessel was more like an airport terminal than an airlock chamber. There was a security site complete with one large and two small isolation cells. A quarantine facility with a clinic for general medicine was included. Baggage claims were familiar.
Once the ship and the station had mated, the scene became somewhat mundane. The various inspectors had to verify the crew's readiness to board ship to station. The situation was softened by the welcome line for the representatives of the officials.
Socorro Trujillo, the director of the Universal Intelligence Agency, waited patiently until the captain was the last man to leave the ship. He was with the ship's security but that did not stop the mob of reporters, family, fans, and dignitaries from adoring him. Station security came in to keep things safe and moving. The captain was free to move whereever he pleased but the Navy claimed him first. Socorro was prepared to simply observe, report to superiors as needed, and tag along if possible given the hero's discretion.
The world leaders from many fields had already received downloads of ship's logs within classification parameters and other information from the ship's computers. The headlines were written, printed, and posted.
Navy debriefing could not be described as routine in this case, but it did not make things as exciting as they were. Trujillo was permitted to interrupt.
"Captain, Trujillo, UIA." The captain looked at her carefully. "Allow me an oversimplified question. In spite of your great mission you feel no great security concern?"
The captain answered,"Yes Ma'am."
Trujillo said,"Thank you,sir, I'll be in touch." She waved and left.
Socorro was satisfied that no urgency was needed in this matter with all its importance. She would have an agent with the captain for a long time. The captain would be going to several place she had anticipated. The agents would obtain information as needed until the decision was made on a future mission.
Stevan Toth was probably going to be in on all this because he was her new assistant. She liked him and thought him competent and ethical. Toth was in the position that Trujillo was a decade before at UIA although he was a little older then she was then and still not battle proven on an interstellar scale. Thinking of him made her think of John Washington now retired. She missed her old boss very much regardless that his departure was a boon to her. She would have to run him down sometime. Fortune was good professional men in your life. She had more like them and women like herself at headquarters and at H2. Main headquarters was in Cairo where the global capital of the National Union was. H2 was a secret and not far away. Of course Socorro was at both places often when she was on Earth but clearly she need be in space and so the office on Helen of troy was frequently used. Now she would go home. Time must be taken to prepare for that which would unfold.
AMTEX is American Texas Incorporated International. The company is a conglomerate based on integrated oil aquisition and processing. Exploration, transportation, marketing and sales are the business conducted. Sixty power plants are delivering electricity and forty refineries are shipping to 30,000 distribution centers. 10 million barrels daily including greens and synthetics are the output. Operations are in 120 countries. The company includes an information technology section working both software and semiconducters. A food and beverage division is attached to 10,000 of the distribution centers with associated retail. AMTEX is nonunion in origin however 12 states and 25 nations have permitted unionization. There are 2 million stakeholders and net profits of 100 billion credits annually.
Helen Aims was Amtex' chief executive officer. She had controlling intrest in both stock assets and authority on the board. Her wealth was now so great that she was a geopolitical force. She was in late middle age at her peak of earthly power except physically. Obesity still proved her gluttony. The company nurse had scared her with total system failure and she lost a few pounds but her weight was still dangerous. She promised herself again she'd retire soon to Swiss clinical spa and end the madness. That would be later but not now. Now there was the business of a supercivilization.
Helen sat in her office contemplating her future business conquest while reflecting on the last decade. She had ultimately beat all the competition in dealing with Seko so far. Seko was wise in doing its commerce with many Earth companies but reserved first contact preference with Amtex. Helen took full advantage of this even though she had to watch for antitrust feds on both worlds. Amtex had done well once the ESS panic was resolved. It took a few years but Earth learned to work in the new interstellar marketplace.
Presently Doc walked into the office. He was one of the few who had priority one access to Helen. He immediately interupted her thoughts.
"I went down to see him again Helen," Doc said sadly.
"How is he?" Helen asked grimly.
"I think he's gettin' worse. The shrink says stay hopeful but don't expect total recovery. God, Helen, I miss the old Pete bad and he wasn't much to miss."
"Me too. He was too old to start taking care of himself after he crashed and burned from his additions. I'm noone to talk but I haven't collapsed yet. We got him in the best hospital in town and he gets the VIP treatment to the best specialists in the world. I don't know what else to do."
Doc patted her on the back. "Me neither."
UIA is the Universal Intelligence Agency. These are the spies for the National Union. Socorro is the director. The bureau is a hyperpolitical organization of the most stressful kind. Such is the case for the people occupying the last chapter of the Art of War. The associate director is Dick Powers who is the consummate bureaucrat. The assistant is Steve Toth. Janet Doe is the Agent Representative. She is the labor leader for the agency. The four of them keep watch over five hundred agents in the field and their staffs that are regionally divided according to local population density.
Headquarters is at Helen of Troy in space and it is in the N.U. capitol at Cairo on Earth. H2 is the backup location which in constant use and kept out of the public eye. It is in Jerusalem. Dick generally tended Cairo and Steve hid in Jerusalem.
The press agent for Cairo is Mohammed Yasa. The local operative in jerusalem is Hannah Green. All these members of the organization are young except for Dick. He is forty-one. That made him senior of the ranking officers. He did not deny feeling his age.
Dick called Steve on secured line. "So, the Beijing is back and word is a follow up mission is coming."
"Yeah, said Steve. "I wonder who's going to be in on that."
"I guess we'll see Amtex try and beat everybody else to the punch again."
"Sure thing. I heard they'll have to do it without what's his name. He's stuck in rehab."
"Still again. Find out who the new guy is going to be and get back to me right away."
"Roger that," ended Steve.
The scene is at the Vatican.
"Eminence," called Cardinal Kalunda Kama, "The Beijing has returned with the discovery of a great civilization."
"What civilization is this?" questioned Pope Innocence.
"They are the oldest planet population known in our galaxy." answered the cardinal. "They are 'of the Milky Way'."
"What do they propose?" asked the pope.
"Nothing Holiness," paused the cardinal, "It is believed we will make a proposal to them."
"Do we have someone working on this?" inquired the bishop of Rome.
"Not yet Holy Father, but we still have the spaceman on New Planet. He returns to Earth every other year to rest from his mission. O'Conner can be contacted to speak to the chaplain service."
"Make it so," decided the pope. "We must keep abreast of the situation. Will the pirate be an issue?"
"No Holy One. He is in hospital."
The men looked at each other understanding more than they said.
"I will report to you as soon as arrangements are made with our people."
"Go with God."
The cardinal began the business of contacting the priests and they would contact the governments. Amtex would also be called to shore up the matter. The groups that came to an unlikely affiliation in this part of the galactic sector would now have a much bigger field of concern.
Wilhelm Strasse had been living on New Planet for nearly a decade. If that is what you call it. He had no regular human contact. His house was effectively a space recreational vehicle. He had a motorcycle, a Yamaha ET, for short range travel. The RV could move. It would move anywhere it would not get stuck. Will actually had to build road sized paths in order get from the original base camp to three other camps. He built the first one himself and he had help with the others. His communications were good with proper allignment, fair weather and luck. Subspace radio was still an experimental effort and not entirely reliable. Amtex and the church alternately sent supplies biannually working around his vacation. He would use postal mail when they came.
New Planet was much like Earth was when the genus of man evolved. It was crude, dangerous and not developing. Intelligence was just beginning. The closest thing were indiginous life forms that were dinozoids. The exobiologists called this the thinking lizard. The genus with species name is draconis ratus. These creatures were becoming more important to Will everyday. They were smart enough to help Will buiild his pathways without other humans being involved. They were smart enough to realize that Will was more intelligent than they were and not to be feared. They were smart enough to learn from him and then teach each other.
Will held mass every day and writing a short sermon that was an update of his previous year's calender requirement. He held as closely to the traditional schedule as possible keeping in mind that New's Planet's years were some two weeks shorter than Earth's. He found this quite relaxing until his watch rang.
"Will, it's Dan," said the watch.
"Patch it in to the base, Duo," Will commanded.
"We have news from the front office." The main radio came in quite well. Will was nodding his head in affirmation. "Not only has Beijing returned you have passage booked on the follow up mission."
"I don't want to fly," groaned Will.
"Straight from the big guy," reminded Father O'conner. "You've engaged the trull and worked with the Sekons."
Will"s next groan was gutteral.
"Next stop: the supercivilization. To be announced. I'll get back with you on that."
"Bless me Father."
"Sure son. See you soon." The transmission ended.
"Gus, did you here that?"
"Yes." The answer was a hiss.
Augustus was what Will called the chief of his tribe. Gus was a dinozoid. His shape was humaniod but birdlike and reptilian. This creature had a bill that was short yet full of teeth to suit its omniverous diet. His tail was not long in that it did not touch the ground but it was strong enough to be useful for defense. Gus was average in size at one and a half meters in height. He weighed fifty-five kilograms and had the strength of a chimpanzee.
Will judged that about one percent of the tribes were verbal. Gus had amassed a three hundred word vocabulary and would seek out the other speaking natives and conduct the business of their hunter gatherer groups. The social order of these groups was such that they functioned quite peacefully as rule; the exception being deviant behavior generally involving food, sex and territory. When violence erupted the fight starter was frequently killed by the leadership. The law of the wild did not permit any thing other than complete submission for minor offenses and death for major crimes.
Will was already preparing for the trip. He looked at Gus. "Are you ready to travel Gus? Do you have Claud ready?"
"Yes, yes," Gus hissed. A new time is a new journey.
Captain Lee was in another conference room at the Tianjin spaceport, the captain's home port, where he had been spaceplane shuttled to after speaking at the Floridian space center. His next stop would be Cairo at the National Union headquarters complex. There he would speak at the International Union office extension.
"Let us review," said the moderator of the discussion panel interviewing the captain. "You shot the fence at the frontier and were shot back into earthspace?"
"Yes sir, "answered Lee.
"Captain, You believe we should return to the supercivilization even though we are clearly unwanted?"
"They made us go home. There was no punishment for the trespass. I'd say they swatted a bug in their minds. We should not be too meek. Let us act like citizens of the Milky Way. We should insist on treaty or at least thoroughfare."
The panel was silent for a moment. They knew the coming decision would be made by consensus of the spacefareing nations and planets. The National Union would be influenced by the United Nations but they would have no more influence than Captain Lee. The panel adjourned.
The National Union global headquarters in Cairo would make the choice on another mission to the space barrier at the complex in the science center office by the space division desk but the announcement would be finalized on the stage of the amphitheaters. Captain Lee was once again the main attraction. He was actually being questioned in part by the president of the N.U.
The president began, "Thank you for your service and again welcome home. I will be brief. You have said you feel no security alarm from the supercivilization and you wish for us to return to the barrier. In Florida you suggested you are proof of their technololgy and benevolence by virtue of your youthful appearance in spite of your age [the captain was physically forty-three and chronologically eighty-three]. We have our tentative decision. Do you have any other input before we finalize that decision?"
The captain answered, "Yes Mister President. My comment is for the next mission captain. Please make this a mission of peace, but be braver than I was. Engage the future."
So it was to be.
The Gagarin was the latest ship in the navy of the National Union. She was to be complimented with twenty officers and one hundred eighty enlisted. Her length was two hundred meters and her width and height twenty-five meters at most. She weighed nine and a half thousand tons. She was built at the Dublin spaceship yards some ten kilometers marsside of Helen of Troy. Her power plants were four Hogue matter conversion transformers and her reserve engines were microfusion assisted. Her batteries were supercell storage. The two landers were capable of powered and unpowered flight and they were lifeboat ready.
Captain Ralph Fortesque was to lead her. He was commissioned in the Royal Navy at only twenty-one, lieutenant at twenty-five and commander at thirty-five. The sailer was as skilled in space as he was at sea. He began as a submariner and after testing entered the space corps. His latest duty had been as captain of a starship assisting the Space Force with repelling colonial raiders. His marines were preferred by the force. Ralph knew the near frontier; now he would see edge of humanity's territory.
The crew would include Commander Maximov first officer from the Beijing. He had won the sole position for the officers from the previous mission. One of the enlisted was also with him. Chief Powell was the assistant to the science officer on Beijing. They would be the only members of the previous mission so as to keep their old crew home for further analysis. Between the two of them the first encounter with the barrier would be revealed in real time on Gagarin.
The rest of the crew was recognized as excellent evaluations or better. They were members of various branches of service that had earned distinction. Many were sailors from Fortesque's past.
First officer of Gagarin was Commander Cindy Blue. She too served with Ralph when they were junior officers. She had done minisub duty on Trull. Espionage with a predatory angle was in her work history. Oddly enough that was contrary to her managment style for she was a childless wife and tended to adopt her junior staff particularly the childless young. She knew many of the crew official and unofficial. Those like Fortesque had known and those who had been chosen by civilian personnel. Mike Smith was from Amtex and not to be trusted. He was far too old to be unmarried and without an heir. Janet Dough was UIA and trustworthy. She needed to settle down some and have children. Cindy Blue knew the sekons only since they were aboard ship. The trull she only just met since then. This would be her first opportunity work with aliens for any length of time beyond introduction. They were Balett the exogeographer and Aron the Gateto metropolitan department official both of Seko also Bunch Lar Che Che, the son of Deldo the former instructor of Will, plus Trench Ol Che Chi both of Trull now in Space Force. Cindy met Will before the aliens but knew his reputation since Erasmus. Blue would help take this crew to where Gagarin would take them.
Rebel Clipper is the name of Amtex' newest treasure ship. She is a version of Erasmus class vessels with the latest improvements the most being speed. Her motors were classifed. How much faster she was than Erasmus, which was the fastest ship in the sector most of the past decade, was unknown. Only when the military contract competion surpassed Erasmus did Amtex design the rebel. Not only did Helen like having the fastest ship to conduct business, she wanted no chance of being caught without adjusting accordingly. Rebel Clipper's crew featured her captain Hiram Schofield who had worked his way through the ranks in Amtex transportation section since before Peter had been there. He took great pride in himself for his superior ethics. He knew Pete well and would never lower himself to that level. He believed that Pete was the recipient of favors because this and he would not fret over it because he would prevail in the end.
The pilot of the Rebel Clipper is Joel Turnstile. He too has been with Amtex for nearly two decades. Joel like Will could fly and function as his captain's guard. He is not as driven ethically as Will has been recently, but is very honest and dependable. Perfection is not his concern.
Together this core of the team would make sure Amtex remained first in business with the new supercivilzation. This they would accomplish by following Gagarin for the purpose of beating the competition to the latest marketplace. Untold wealth came from this approach with Seko and later Trull. Now is the time for a bigger prize.
Lusitania was the ship that the UIA would follow Rebel with and Gagarin for that matter. Lucy as she was affectionately called was unusually like Erasmus which was now semiretired. UIA had boarded Erasmus in the past long enough and often enough to know her well. The design similarities were obvious. Lucy could not perform like Rebel but she had an advantage. Lucy had the most advanced stealth technology known to Earth. Wherever Rebel went she could not know where Lucy was until it was too late. The same applied to Gagarin even more so with the exception of her firepower. Gagarin was the most dangerous ship in the sector. On board were Steve Toth and Hannah Green from H2.
Trujillo would monitor the activity on Lucy from Helen of Troy for the most part. Lusitania had the best engineered subspace radio of the ships so as to maintain the greatest discrection. Oddly the ships would not communicate by direction. They were operating independently as far as most people were concerned. This would proceed as such until circumstances altered plans. The ships and their worthy crews shoved off from different places at different times.
The story of the supercivilization of the Milky Way
Gagarin would reach the barrier in space far faster than the Beijing. In the first place she was faster and in the second place she had all Beijing's navigational information. Captain Fortesque had no intention of accepting Captain Lee's challenge of being more bold initially at least. He determined that upon reaching the barrier he would exhaust all means of communication first. The new information from Beijing had been loaded into the simulation senarios which were running while Gagarin was in flight. It had become clear in spite of events that a faction of the supercivilization however small that fraction was wanted some basic contact protocol. It was certainly believed on Earth and Seko you recognized the most and the least developed worlds with some sense of courtesy and invitation. Survival would require good diplomacy because there would be nothing Humanity could do with hostile supervilization.
The space barrier was portrayed in news bites as a fence keeping out nosey neighbors. Rather it was a field of such force as to repel intruders. It was multidirectional in that once interlopers approached they were repulsed without knowing the source of the force. This resistance was negligeable initially. It increased as you closed in. Perhaps it was a gauge of strength. Gagarin knew this.
"Captain, we're at 6000 olm impedance."
The captain turned at the technicians words.
"We're at 8000," was the next report. "We're at ten thousand," was said ten seconds later.
"Proceed to high tolerance."
The ship continued for two minutes when warning lights and an alarm sounded.
"Full stop." This took half a minute irrespective of the resistance. The crew took a second to wait on the next command. "Salutations on all bands and then ask for assistance." A minute passed then instruction came in and was filed. "Let's sit tight for a while and then see what we have. Science get with communication and let me know what we do."
Within the hour the brainstorming came to the conclusion that they would simply wait and in the interim get their stories straight should they be contacted. The Beijing had been handled for the most part and never made direct contact with another lifeform. Captain Fortesque wanted to meet with some form of representation at least this time.
"Well Maxi this where Lee started shooting?" the captain teased.
"At this point we didn't expect company." smiled Commander Maximov.
Suddenly a hologram appeared on the bridge away from the crew. The hologram was distinctly a cartoon. It was reminiscent of wonderland. It promptly said,"Earth people please do not be alarmed. Welcome. We did not expect you back for some time. Allow me to introduce us. We are of the Milky Way. Our civilization has existed for sixty million of your years. We do not spend enough time with young worlds because we must search first for old worlds. Please forgive us. Tomorrow you will meet our liason. If you have any needs please call on us at any time. Until tomorrow. The hologram faded.
"And now more company," said the commander.
"Come on Maxi let's get all the diplomats and plan some treaties," the captain's humor was dry but not too much.
Preparation for the liason was hurried somewhat because of the surprise. Already Gagarin was ahead of what Beijing accomplished over decades in the matter of the first year. The crew was necessarily wary. Commander Cindy Blue would be leading the Earth delegation.
The crew handling the upcoming negotiations did not sleep well if at all. Anticipation was waring on them but hope of opportunity drove them. Cindy maintained watch on the bridge after have told her team to be on alert for the call to assemble when the next phase of contact began.
An unexpected liason arrived. A man materialized on the deck of flight control. His appearance was unassuming and not at all like what one might think of as a herald of an ancient outer space race. He was all to human. Five and half feet tall and thin in hair and thick in the middle. He wore a beige jumpsuit. His formation was completed on his bottom with his hands propping him up. "H-hello," he stammered in a grandfatherly manner.
"Hi," replied Cindy wide eyed.
"Not what you expected?" he cleared his throat. "I am of the Milky Way. You may call me Milky. We understand that it is an old word from your protolanguage that became associated with your view of the galaxy. We wonder if that was the case for us too. We are learning from you still. How may I serve you?"
Cindy alerted her team surreptiously. Security was already on the bridge. "May a group of us speak with you?"
"Sure," said Milky. "I'll play speaker and you play audience."
"Right this way," Cindy gestured.
Milky was escorted to a chamber that moved cylinderically so as to create artificial gravity. The room had two rows of seats that formed the center of the space thus giving it an endless airplane effect. A speaker would simply walk along this aisle to interact with the audience. Cindy acted as a guide to demonstrate. "People this is Milky. Treat him well and ask for the same." She looked at her team expressively. "Milky, please tell us how we may learn together."
Milky said ,"Greetings Earthlings... just kidding. Welcome travelers. Peace and wisdom to you."
The statespeople returned various salutations.
"Our scope will be me giving of the Milky Way a brief introduction, a statement of our goals and we will conclude with a question and answer session which you will lead." Milky looked at the group for concurrence. "First this is a graphic of our biological form." Images in two, three and four dimentional representations appeared on Milky's lecture aid which he held like serving tray. Gagarin recorded the speech and the aid."
Milky continued, "You'll note that the two dimentional image does not move. The three dimentional image moves in one direction. The four dimentional image is in a loop that demonstrates our evolutionary past for some one hundred twenty million years. You see we are much like your amphibians. We are both quadropeds and bipeds. We are comfortable both on land and in water. Our most recent development has been adaptations to cope wtih being a longtime spacefaring peoples. These adaptations are both natural and artificial with both our biology and our technology."
Milky paused and said, "Our civilization you would recognize as a three point one. That is to say that we are galactic and currently in the process of our first intergalactic mission. We have explored three stellar systems prior to hyperlight travel very near our central star which is some six thousand light years away over sixty million years ago when we entered our space age. Since then we have colonized forty-eight old worlds which are now study areas and maintain some one thousand new worlds and newer worlds as habitation for our species and its varieties. Our population is approaching one tillion beings. We believe ourselves to be the dominant species in the Milky Way. Most of our travels have been on this side of the galaxy."
Milky concluded,"Now as I mentioned we are in the midst of an intergalactic mission project. That is to say we have sent two probes to Andromeda. The first was an orbiter and was designed to simply accomplish a priliminary survey and was quite successful. It returned last century. The current mission is a search for contact and is going well but is not complete.
As far as galactic aliens are concerned you make our one hundred ninetieth contact at a literate civilization level and our forty second close contact. We avoid close contact except in the case of the other party insisting."
The crowd laughed.