The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

Book IX
The Ambitious Magus

Chapter 5
Journey to Earth

© The author reserves all rights to this work.


This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.

NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.

Date: 28 March 2676, Tuesday

Matthew had stayed with Jacques and Heath for the night. The next morning, the three of them made their way to the shuttle port. They had to move up to the orbiting platform to get into the ship.

*Jacques!* It was Rocky.

*Yes,* replied Jacques.

*You left your scarf behind last night. Mark took it as he left for work this morning. He’s probably going to catch you at the shuttle port before you leave.* Rocky was actually in Mark’s house making sure that Mark would continue to think that Matthew was still in the house.

*Does Jorg know?* asked Jaqcues.

*Yes,* Rocky replied. *He’s waiting for you at his place. You’re to pick him up.*

So Jorg has a plan ready, thought a delighted Jacques. He was glad he did not have to worry too much this time. Jacques gave his reply to Rocky, *Understood.*

“Heath,” Jacques said aloud. “Jorg is expecting us to pick him up. Can you do so?”

“I suppose so,” replied Heath as he tapped on the panel-dashboard of his vehicle.

“What’s the matter?” asked Matthew.

“Just a small change of plans,” replied Jacques. “I left a scarf back at your place last night and Mark has come out to the shuttle port to meet us. We’ll need Master Jorg’s help to hide you in plain sight.”

“This sounds so complicated,” remarked Mark, feeling overwhelmed. He had often been getting this feeling of late.

“Nothing we can’t solve,” said Heath as the vehicle came to a halt. He placed new co-ordinates and then the vehicle started again.

“Why would he take the trouble to deliver a scarf? After all, it isn’t like it’s the only scarf you have, right?” Matthew asked in exasperation.

“I don’t know,” replied Jacques, “but I know that your brother is very considerate and often doesn’t think about his inconvenience. Perhaps he decided to return the scarf, just in case I needed it. Furthermore he had the time to make the detour and see us off at the same time.”

Matthew nodded, “That’s just like him. It’s also why I love my brother,” he concluded with a small smile.

No one spoke after that. A silent minute later, the display showed that it was safe to open the doors.

“Stay here,” said Jacques to Heath and Matthew. “I’ll just hop over and bring Master Jorg and Kean here.” The three of them put on their breathing masks when Jacques opened the door of the vehicle.

They heard Jacques walking quickly away as the air stabilised in the vehicle. Then Heath and Matthew took off their masks when the vehicle’s dashboard indicated it was safe to do so.

“Tell me Heath,” asked Matthew, “did you feel overwhelmed when you found out that you were going to be a magus?”

“Overwhelmed? I was highly sceptical of the whole affair!” Then Heath gave a small grin, “I even thought Master Jorg was trying to seduce us!”

“Seduce?” asked a very puzzled Matthew.

“Well, he first appeared to us when Jacques and I were in bed,” said a slightly embarrassed Heath. “We were at the stage of undress at the moment.”

“Oh!” replied Matthew, having a fair idea of what had happened.

Heath looked a little uncomfortable. “I’d better explain. It was in the morning and Jacques read my mind. We were having a … um … well … a heated discussion when Master Jorg appeared. Well, any scepticism of the existence of magi evaporated when he put some clothes on us and brought us to his house without batting an eyelid.”

“Wow!” replied Matthew, remembering how he was transported himself by Jacques.

“Yes, it was amazing,” replied Heath. “But I still had my suspicions of Master Jorg, though. I was wondering what he wanted in return for training us. I was expecting him to ask for payback or something after our training was done.”

“Then when did you start trusting him?” asked Matthew, feeling curious.

“Jacques got into some sort of a psychic accident. A little like what happened to me after we … you know …” replied Heath, who was uncertain if Matthew had put that episode past him.

“Oh!” came Matthew’s monosyllabic answer. If he said little, it was because he was remembering what had happened to Heath and how Jacques had been very worried.

“Master Jorg asked me to be his anchor when he went into Jacques’ mind to get him out of trouble. He trusted me enough to let me be in contact with his mind. I saw a lot of things from his past and I also realised that there was only a sense of duty in what he was doing. There was no payback.”

“I understand,” said Matthew. “It was kinda like when Jacques asked me to have sex with either one of you, I thought it was seduction, too. It was when he looked so relieved that he wasn’t going to be the one having sex with me that I realised that there was really something more to what he said. I’m really sorry for what happened back there … you know … the sex …”

Heath tried to reassure Matthew with a smile, “It wasn’t your fault. We were both affected by someone outside. If it’s any comfort to you, I really respect you for saying yes. That took a lot of courage.”

“Thanks. I know that you suffered a great deal afterwards. I hope you’ve recovered,” said Matthew.

Heath smiled. “I have. Thanks.”

Just then they heard approaching footsteps. Jacques, Jorg and Kean were coming towards the vehicle. They opened the doors almost simultaneously when they peered in and saw Heath and Matthew with their breathing masks on. They all greeted each other hurriedly when the air in the vehicle was safe to breath again.

“Before you key in the co-ordinates. Let me just go through the plan with all of you,” said Jorg, who was wearing his Captain’s uniform. “This is a very simple affair. Kean and I’ll go with Matthew first and get into the shuttle. Iris will be waiting for us there. Five minutes later, the two of you move from your vehicle to the shuttle port. By that time, I hope, Matthew will be safely seated in the shuttle, hidden from Mark’s view.”

Everyone nodded, accepting Jorg’s plan.

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

Matthew was quite impressed. The plans that Jorg had set out worked like clockwork. There were some little problems here and there and his magi friends had gotten over them with instructions from Jorg. It was as if Jorg had thought of all contingencies. When he saw Uranus’ orbital platform, his thoughts were back on Uranus and he hoped that the magi there would keep his absence from his brother.

Jorg had transported the prisoners onto a shuttle at the shuttle port. When they reached the orbital platform, he transported them into the Pellegrine.

“Remember, Matthew,” Jorg said during the trip to Earth, “you don’t know that we’re magi. If you find anything strange, keep your questions to yourself; don’t ask anyone anything. What White doesn’t know will be our advantage. If anyone asks you about what happened that night, just say that you were asked to keep your eyes closed and so you didn’t see anything. Do you think you can do it?”

“I guess so,” said Matthew.

Jorg’s face was deadly serious. “You’d better because White has eyes everywhere and anything he doesn’t know will be to our advantage.”

“Okay,” replied Matthew meekly.

§ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ §

Date: 29 March 2676, Wednesday

“Captain, we’ve emerged from Moon Relay. I’ve just received the co-ordinates where a steevie will be waiting,” the helmsman reported.

“Okay, Jim. Set co-ordinates and move at half-full,” instructed Jorg.

“Aye aye sir!” the helmsman replied and proceeded to enter the Captain’s instructions.

The ship moved slowly towards the Earth. There was an artificial ring circling the planet. They were satellites. A steevee is actually an STV or Space Towing Vehicle. Like the tugboats of the twentieth century, steevees towed a ship on specified courses into the Atmosphere. Unlike their waterborne cousins, steevees actually pull a ship towards the planet until Earth’s gravity gets a hold of the ship. Then, using powerful thrusters, the ship is gently moved to their docks. Except for the cockpit, the rest of the Space Towing Vehicle is actually a huge thruster engine and a fuel store. Though they may look smaller than the ships they tow, they have great thrust power to lift a ship as massive as the Pellegrine. More than a century before, ships about three-quarters the mass of the Pellegrine had their own thrusters. It was then found to be a waste because ships that size only used the large thrusters when coming to dry dock once every two years. It was thus more economical to rely on the STVs. The Pellegrine was about the maximum one STV can take. Construction ships, which could be twice as long as the Pellegrine, usually needed two or more STVs depending on their mass.

The Pellegrine was actually heading to dry dock because of an unscheduled upgrade. After the incident the Friday before, Jorg needed an excuse to return to Earth. He took steps to convince the shipbuilders to upgrade the navigational systems “for the safety of the passengers.” The Pellegrine was the first of four luxury cruise ships to be built by the shipyard. They were the largest passenger ships in the solar system. The Pellegrine was the first to be built and it was such a success that Titan Tours, the company that owned the Pellegrine, commissioned three more. The last ship contained a ‘state-of-the-art’ navigation system for movement within a planetary system. The existence of the upgrade provided Jorg an excellent reason for coming to Earth even though the Pellegrine did not really need it.

About half an hour later, the helmsman reported, “We’re at our rendezvous.”

“Hail the steevee,” ordered Jorg. “Inform them that we’re ready for the tow.” Switching on the ship’s intercom, he ordered, “All hands to your positions!” All the crewmembers were supposed to be seated in special chairs.

A few moments later the STV had connected to the towing cables of the Pellegrine. A total of nine towing cables were attached to the top of the ship just behind the bridge. The nine cables radiated from this point along the hull to nine parts of the ship. During normal flight, the cables were fitted snugly in grooves along the hull secured by staple-clamps. As the STV moved away from the ship, the cables would be slowly detached from the grooves. In effect, the STV would be above the Pellegrine and moving upwards relative to the ship.

“Engineering,” Jorg began his command, “initiate the release sequence for the cable clamps.”

“Sequence initiated, sir!” came the reply.

“All hands, strap down. Prepare for entry into Earth’s gravitational field!”

All the crew, including those in the other parts of the ship were supposed to strap themselves into their special chairs. All the chairs on the bridge were of this type.

“Sir, we’re two minutes from the effect of Earth’s gravity!” reported the helmsman.

“All hands, activate repositioning controls!” ordered Jorg. There were switches in the special chairs. Jorg’s command meant that all chairs were supposed to straightened so that the chairs became more like beds. On the bridge and in engineering, the ‘beds’ slid under the consoles and the consoles tilted such that the crew could still move their hands at the consoles if needed.

“All chairs have been activated, sir,” reported the security officer on the bridge.

“All hands prepare for zero gravity!” instructed Jorg. He paused, looking at the seconds ticking away before giving the order, “Switch off artificial gravity!” The crew only experienced about thirty seconds of zero gravity before entering Earth’s gravitational field.

The STV had been moved the ship carefully away from the ring of satellites towards Earth. Once past the satellites, it moved slowly towards earth at a very small angle to the tangents of the earth’s magnetic field. Once the Pellegrine entered the magnetic field, its great mass would be pulled into the gravitational field but would be prevented from falling into the gravity well by the STV thrusters, which would be at full power at that moment. The ship would become like the bob of a pendulum.

The switch in gravity was significant and an inexperienced person could feel disorientated for some minutes or could even become unconscious. The bridge crew had gone through this drill before but they were also disoriented for a few seconds.

Suddenly, there was an alarm.

“Sir!” shouted the helmsman, “we seem to be falling!” He held on to his earphone and said, “There’s been a malfunction in the steevee!”

Jorg’s mind immediately went to the STV. Iris was there as well.

*I’ve located a break in one of the power conduits,* Iris reported.

*Can you mend it before we burn up in the atmosphere?* asked Jorg.

*Yes, but the ship needs to help the STV.* came the reply.

*Understood,* responded Jorg who saw what Iris had in mind.

“Jim, fire our thrusters! If we can get some lift, we may be able to lighten the load of the steevee.”

“But, sir …”

“Just do it!”

“Yes sir!” responded the helmsman. He did not understand how the thrusters would help in the situation. He knew that it would only prolong the inevitable for just a few minutes.

The few precious seconds that the ship fired its thrusters helped Iris to repair the conduit psychically before the falling Pellegrine gained too much acceleration even for the STV.

“There must be a God!” exclaimed Jim. “Captain, the steevee reports that the malfunction it had had been miraculously repaired. Someone up there sure likes us.”

“I didn’t know that you were a religious man, Jim?” asked Jorg.

“Only in the face of death, sir. Only in the face of death,” replied the pale but smiling helmsman.

The rest of the docking occurred without a problem. Once the Pellegrine was docked, Jorg instructed Jacques and Heath to bring Matthew to the main gates of the dockyard. Before they even left the Pellegrine, Iris and Kean joined them.

At the gates, Jacques noticed that the prisoners had not disembarked.

When he made the remark, Jorg pointed to a vehicle parked outside and said, “I transferred them to the vehicle there. We’ll get into it too.”

“Where are we going?” asked Matthew.

“To Africa,” came Jorg’s reply.

The whole group arrived at a hotel near the Victoria Falls. Jorg and Iris went up to book a suite. Soon, the whole group was in the suite. About half an hour later, three other magi joined them.

“Elias, Geoffrey and Florence, meet Heath, Jacques and Matthew,” Jorg introduced. Matthew noticed that Heath and Jacques were not known to the other magi. He kept his thoughts to himself and thought of other things. Looking at Jacques, he was reminded of Lelia. He began to force himself to think of whether Lelia was doing okay after the shock of the explosions.

“Matthew is White’s biological son. Jacques and Heath stumbled on the truth and are in danger as well. Our two prisoners, Liliana and Gilbert, were sent to kill them. We’re going to bring the prisoners to Headquarters to answer for their crimes. Please guard these three well. We don’t want whoever who attempted their death to be successful so near to base, do we?” Jorg stated.

“Of course not, Jorg,” said Elias.

Jacques asked, “Aren’t we going?”

“No, Jacques. There’s been a change of plans. You’ve got to stay here.”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Please don’t hesitate to write me with your comments
or read my blog to see when the next part is coming out.