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"Mr. Buchard, have a seat please."
The man that sat on the other side of the desk was as white haired as Peter. He has the same brown eyes and short stature. He could have been Peter's father.
"My name is Alexander. I am your Uncle."
Peter looked at the man across from him with astonishment.
"My uncle, sir? I don't understand. I don't have any uncles." Peter replied.
"Son, it is quite a story so sit down and make yourself comfortable."
Peter sat in the chair offered. He was curious to hear this man's explanation of how he could possibly be his uncle.
"Son, your Mother and her sister, your Aunt Jeannie, are descendents of the Benoit family. The Benoit family controlled the Federation for 600 years. I guess that I shouldn't have said controlled the Federation as much as guided it. The Benoit family was fair, generous and above all honorable. They were the foundation of the Federation. Some considered them royalty, so that on several worlds of the Federation, the senior family member was given the title of Duke. They tried to make him a king but the family refused the title. They did not want to rule the Federation, they only wanted to guide it so that everyone would be treated fairly. The Benoit family began the tradition of training all of the family members in politics, business, science and battle. Yes, the last one may surprise you but there were battles occurring throughout the history of the Federation and the Benoit family was constantly called upon to help those that were treated unfairly. Any questions so far?"
"No sir, not at the moment." Peter answered.
"Very well then. The reason that you are not aware of the history of our family is because just over 100 years ago, the Degardo family out maneuvered the Benoit family. This family was able to take control of the Federation and oust us from our position of influence over the Federation."
"Sir, did you say the Degardo family? Are you sure?" Peter asked.
"Yes son, that is right. The Degardo family has been a thorn in the side of the Benoit family for generations. They constantly opposed any action that we were promoting, even if they thought it was right. With cunning, bribery and out right murder, they were able to take control. Now the Federation is in control of a dishonest, greedy, murdering bunch of fascists. They are slowly taking away our freedom, everyone's freedom in the Federation. As it stands today, there are only 100 Benoit family members left. Most of us are here on Delevar. We have been systematically hunted down and arrested on trumped up charges or just killed as your Aunt was."
"But sir! It can't be. I know a Josh Degardo and he is one of the kindest, most loving people I have ever known." Cried Peter.
"Peter, if he is a Degardo, he is evil. You were just lucky that he didn't know that you are a Benoit." Alexander replied.
"I will not have you say things like that about Josh." Peter yelled as he stood up and angrily stepped closer to the desk.
"Peter, calm down please. I meant no offense. Perhaps this Josh is different."
"Yes, he is very different from the picture you paint of the Degardo family. He is kind, caring, loving and very honorable."
"It seems that you have a special bond to this Josh."
"Yes, I love him and he loves me." Peter replied without even thinking. His body still shaking with anger.
"Ok Peter. I believe you but it is very likely that you will never see him again. You must think about that possibility. Please sit back down and I will finish." Alexander instructed.
"We have been setting up an underground network for the last 50 years. This underground has one purpose and that is to overthrow the Degardo family's control over the Federation. This planet is the heart of that underground. It has the best cover of any place that we could think of. Since any of the Benoit family that is captured will most likely be sent here, we would be here waiting with open arms. Now young man, you have been delivered to us as we had hoped you would be. Your Aunt told us all about you and we had records or your DNA on file. When the Degardo family murdered your Aunt, we thought you had been killed also. I am very happy that it isn't the case. Peter, welcome home." Alexander said as he stood up, walked around the desk and opened his arms.
Peter looked at him, at first afraid. Suddenly a sense of peace and belonging came over him, he heard a voice in his head saying 'Its ok Peter, you are with family now.' He burst out in tears and ran into his uncle's embrace.
The two talked for hours. Alexander telling Peter all about his famous family, what great things they had done over the centuries. He also told him about their plans for the overthrow of the Degardo's. Peter was to be a critical part of those plans if he proved to be a true Benoit.
"What do you mean a true Benoit, Uncle?" Peter asked.
"You will have to prove your abilities Peter. You will be given tests for knowledge. You will be trained in the art of battle. If you prove to be a true Benoit, you will be knighted as is custom." Alexander replied.
"You mean a title? I'm actually going to be a Knight?" Peter asked excitedly.
"Only if you pass the trials."
"When do we start?"
"Tomorrow, early. So you had better be off to bed so you will have the energy to excel as I know you will."
Alexander walked Peter to his billet. The two hugged before they parted. Peter's mind was racing with thoughts of all he had been told that day. He had a family again, a real family. He lay down in his bed, tossing and turning. He was too excited to sleep.
"Sleep Peter, everything will be fine. Your are safe here. You are with family." The voice in his head once again calmed him and he slept.
Peter awoke to someone roughly pulling him out of bed.
"Stand up straight Buchard."
Peter blinked the sleep out of his eyes and looked upon two figures completely covered in black cloth. Only the eyes showed. He immediately assumed a defensive stance.
"What do you want?" Peter demanded.
"It is time for your first test. You will come with us." One of the clad figures responded.
"Some way to wake a guy up. Yank him out of bed like that. Scare the shit out of him and what is this dressing up like old world Ninja's? It looks as if you guys forgot to change out of your pajamas."
The two ignored Peter's jibes and escorted him to a waiting flutter. They traveled for over an hour. In the dark, Peter didn't have any idea where they were going. His sense of direction told him that it was south but he wasn't sure. They dropped down a steep incline and entered a small valley that was void of any vegetation. As they continued across the flats, Peter saw more figures standing to the sides of the flutter. All of them were clad in the same black cloth with only their eyes showing. The flutter stopped and Peter was yanked out of the door.
"What is it with you people? Don't you have any manners at all? You only had to ask me and I would have gotten out. A bunch of crazies running around in their pajamas thinking they are the masters of the universe. What next? Uuuummmphhh."
All the air in Peter's lungs had just been knocked out of him. Someone had just hit or kicked him. Peter rolled as he hit the ground, desperately trying to get his breath back. As he scrambled to his feet, he assumed a defensive stance for the second time that night.
"Protect yourself Peter. Use the knowledge that your Aunt taught you." The voice in his head again.
"Get the fuck out of my head you pervert." Peter yelled losing his temper.
He heard a movement to his right and ducked just as a fist flew by, barely missing his head. Peter cross stepped, swiveled and kicked out with a roundhouse, connecting with a body. He then crouched into a horse stance, supporting all of his weight on the balls of his feet. Ready for the next attack. Another fist flew toward his solar plexus, he blocked it with his right arm in a downward swipe, stepping toward the attacker and slightly to the left as he twisted and punch with his right fist. Once again coming into contact with a body. At the same time he sensed someone behind him, close. He lifted his left foot and brought it back and downward hard, skimming the shin and crushing the instep of his attacker. He then swiveled to his right and slammed his elbow into the attacker's ribs.
The attacks continued for several minutes. Peter wasn't perfect, he was hit several times but none hard enough to knock him out or injure him seriously. Just as he was nearing exhaustion, the attacks stopped.
"Very good Mr. Buchard. Your Aunt has trained you well. You will start training in the advanced class tomorrow." Said a voice behind him.
Peter turned and saw a large man taking off the cloth that cover his head revealing a head of long red hair and a full red beard.
"You did an excellent job son. There are a few very bruised and sore instructors in this valley tonight. Maybe even a few broken ribs from the sounds that I heard." The man said as he thumped Peter on the back in a friendly gesture.
"Thank you sir. I didn't exactly know what was happening or I could have held back some."
"Never hold back Peter. Never hold back when you are not totally sure of the situation. You did exactly as expected. Now young man, you make sure you are on time for my class tomorrow, 6 AM sharp." He turned to two more men that had slipped up next to Peter. "Take Mr. Buchard back. He has an appointment with the devil."
Pete was immediately escorted back to the flutter and later deposited in front of his billet. Peter went to his room to cleaned up.
"The devil?" Peter thought. "Now what am I going to have to go through?"
He stood in front of the mirror, naked, looking at his body.
"Not bad, not bad at all." He said to himself.
Peter was filling out. His stomach was flat. His arms and legs showed definite signs of muscles though they weren't the muscles of a weight lifter. Being small in stature and thin, he looked more like a swimmer or a runner.
There was a knock at the door and Peter quickly threw on his jumpsuit. When he opened the door he saw another young man about his own age. A little taller but still thin like he was. The young man had the same white hair and deep brown eyes as Peter.
"Hello Mr. Buchard. I am Ron Benoit. I am here to escort you to breakfast and then to Diablo's office. Follow me please."
"Uh, nice to meet you Ron. Please call me Peter. Can you give me just a minute please? Come in."
"Sure Peter." Ron Benoit replied as he stepped into the room.
Peter finished dressing and followed the other to the waiting flutter.
Ron took him to breakfast and then across the compound to another building, where they showed him to a door that had large letters emblazoned across the upper half. 'The Offices of Diablo. Those who enter within beware.'
Ron opened the door and motioned Peter inside. Peter heard the door close behind him, he was alone. He took the seat closest to where he was standing and waited, and waited and waited. He had been sitting for almost 4 hours before he heard the sounds of someone opening the door to the rear of the office. A man with long gray hair and a full beard entered. The man looked at Peter with eyes that were so brilliantly green that they seemed to glow.
"Very well done Mr. Buchard. Patience is a virtue. You have passed the first test of Diablo. Follow me please."
Peter stood and followed the man through the door that the man had appeared from. In the next room was a vidcomp console much like the console that was at Energy on Epsilon.
"Please be seated at the console Mr. Buchard. You have four hours to complete the tests. Follow the instructions on the vidcomp screen."
As the vidcomp powered up, Peter saw the same tests that he had took in Energy. He quickly ran through them and was finished in a little less than two hours.
"Sir, I am finished." Peter announced.
The man shook his head in disbelief and walked to the vidcomp screen, looking over the test results. He quickly scanned through all of the pages and then asked for a compilation.
"Mr. Buchard, this is amazing. You have finished the tests in record time and you have the highest score I have ever seen. You must truly be a Benoit."
"Sir, I do have to be honest. I took these same tests on Epsilon. Therefore I may have had an unfair advantage." Peter admitted.
"No Mr. Buchard. That only proves that you have an excellent memory. You did complete the computations as required, showing how you arrived at your answers. That is not cheating at all. Congratulation Mr. Buchard, you have proved your heritage."
"Ok, now what?" Peter asked.
"You will start instruction in the areas that you are weak such as political science and quantum physics. Your first class will follow battle practice starting tomorrow. You are excused Mr. Buchard."
Copyright S. John Holder 2000
If you have enjoyed reading this story, you will find other stories by me at John's Lovescape
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