The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

Book VII

Chapter 4
Troubled Maiden Voyage

© 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: 21 September 2674, Monday

“Captain, we’ve reached the outer limits of the relay station,” said the navigational officer.

Jorg was back on the bridge ninety minutes after the episode with his spy.

“Good,” said Jorg, “Hail the station and identify ourselves.”

“Aye sir,” said the communication’s officer.

“Everything seems to be going on schedule, Captain Brown,” said General Evers who was standing beside Jorg.

“Yes General.”

“Relay station for you, sir,” announced the communications officer.

“Thank you,” said Jorg. He faced his own console as the face of the relay station commandant came on the screen.

“Welcome, Captain Brown. I’m Major Rai, commandant of Relay Station UP-01. We’ve been expecting you.”

“Thank you Major for your welcome,” said Jorg. “May I ask for permission to dock for twelve hours? My crew have gone through two days of very rigourous drills.”

“Yes, certainly. I note that one of your guests is General Evers. I’d be happy to meet him. I served with him when I was a captain.”

Jorg turned to the General. The general looked uncomfortable. “Major Rai, you must forgive me. I can’t seem to remember where we’ve been serving together.”

“Perhaps this would help you to remember: I was just a lieutenant that had just assumed command of a support troop. My battalion was supposed to go into Louisiana state when Jeremiah Jones declared the independence of the state by an illegal military coup. You announced my promotion three hours before departure and even pinned my new rank on my uniform. Surely, you remember.”

“Oh yes … yes. It was about ten years ago. Forgive an old man, would you?”

“Certainly General sir. There’ll be a small reception for the Pellegrine’s senior officers in three hours time at the station’s officers’ rec hall. We have transporters at the dock so there’s no problem in moving from the dock to the station.

“Thank you,” said Jorg. “There’ll be six of us, including the general, then. I’d also like permission to allow my crew to disembark to stretch their legs, so to speak.” The Major looked surprised. So Jorg continued, “They have been under a lot of stress with the tests and I hoped that a few hours off the ship might raise their morale a little.”

Major Rai nodded his head. “Very well. I’ll give them permission to move to and from the station’s enlisted rec hall up to three hours before your departure. Is that satisfactory?”

“More than adequate, Major. You’re very kind.”

That seemed to please the commandant a little. “UP-01 out,” he said before the communications was cut off.

† ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ †

The main entrance of the station’s officers’ recreation hall was situated on the right of the main reception area of the station. The hall itself was about fifty metres long and twenty metres wide. At one end of the hall was a stage and at the opposite end was a little bar. The main entrance was about fifteen metres from the bar. The other end of the bar had a small exit which led to a little kitchen. The kitchen had a service exit. An exit at the right of the stage led to a corridor which ended at the kitchen too. There was another exit hidden by some plants. It was a fire exit located to the left of the stage.

The walls of the hall were adorned on one side with replicas of ancient art and on the other side with more recent works, especially from artists from planets other than Earth. As with many military establishments of the day, there was a model of some ancient weapon used in ancient wars. In this hall was a scale model of the eighteenth century cannon used on Earth. It was mounted on the part of the wall below the raised platform that was the stage.

The commandant was very amiable and made small talk with all the senior officers and the general. About twenty minutes after the little meeting started, a corporal came from the kitchen and said something quietly to the commandant. The commandant nodded his head and said something softly to the corporal. Jorg wanted to listen in but he noticed that the general seemed to be very nervous.

“Would you like another cup of tea, sir?” the commandant asked the general.

“No, thank you.”

The commandant turned serious. “Sir, would you like to come with me? You seem a little under the weather.”

“No. I feel fine.”

At that moment some people came in through the main entrance. It was Brin and another General Evers! Behind them were four armed guards.

“Arrest that man, Major. He’s an impostor,” said the other General Evers.

“What?” The first General Evers turned and his face turned pale. Then he shouted, “He’s the impostor!”

“I don’t think so, sir,” said the major calmly. “You see, though we served together during the Jeremiah Jones incident, we never met. The real General had sent me a message to tell me that you were posing as him. Arrest him!”

The four armed guards went forward but the impostor smiled and then pulled out a weapon. The guards hesitated.

“This is a high intensity laser weapon. It also acts as a remote switch for two incendiary devices that I’ve planted on the Pellegrine. If you come any closer, you’ll have two explosions as well as loss of life.”

“Have you nothing to say captain?” the impostor directed his words to Jorg.

“What can I say? You control the weapon.”

The impostor inched his way towards the stage. Jorg knew that he was going towards the fire exit. The commandant also knew. He slowly took out a small radio.

“Aaa … no, major. This is a pressure switch. A slight touch is all I need to detonate the bombs.”

The impostor went behind the plants and Jorg sensed that he was no longer there.

The guards slowly went towards the fire exit and they found no one when they opened the door.

Iris nodded when Jorg looked at her and she pretended to faint. Jorg and his human first officer helped her to the couch. In reality she was linking up with another magus.

Kean had, in the meantime been keeping watch on the food and beverage consultant. With the help of Jacques and Heath, he was able to sever the connection between the woman and the impostor. Kean connected with her, assuming the identity of the impostor the moment she gave the impostor the location to flee to. Jacques picked up the location and gave the information to one of the magi security officers and he was the one in contact with Iris. Iris, with the help of Jorg, was tracing the impostor. Her target was not the magus but the detonator.

*Contact, Jorg,* she informed Jorg.

*Get to work!*

Kean was trying to give the sense of being trapped to slow down the woman. However, he was not good enough. After about ten minutes, the woman discovered Kean. She lashed a mental attack on Kean. Heath and Jacques helped to strengthen Kean at the last moment or else Kean would have been dead. Kean broke off the link, giving the impression that his mind was negated. It was then that Jacques and Heath understood how dangerous the mission of Jorg really was.

After they had placed Iris on the couch, Brin said, “Major Rai, I’m Agent Thames, Secret Service. I’ve a fair notion where the impostor might be going. My people are now scanning the area for him. I suggest you get your bomb disposal people to try to locate the bombs and disarm them. Let’s just hope he was telling us the truth that there were only two bombs.”

“Yes. Reys! Get some people to the Pellegrine! I’m going to the main control tower. Perhaps our sensors can locate the imposter.” Then to two of the security officers that came with Brin and the real general, he said, “You two! Stay here and protect the general.”

After three minutes, Iris made contact. A few moments later she communicated with Jorg mentally, *Jorg the detonating switch is disabled. I’m going for the laser switch now.*

*Hurry! Brin is almost there!*

Jorg moved to the two guards, “Please, could you tell me where the restroom is? I need to go,” he asked.

“In there to the right!” one of the guards pointed to the kitchen.

Jorg hurriedly got to the toilet and transported himself to where the impostor was supposed to meet his partner. When he appeared, he saw the impostor pointing the laser device at him.

“No!” he heard Brin shout and he was knocked out of place by Brin. The shot fizzled out as Iris had disactivated the switch but Brin received a shot to his right shoulder.

“No! Brin!” Jorg yelled. He saw the woman appearing and sent a mental command to his magi crew, *Reinforcements!* Jorg narrowed his eyes. He scanned the area for humans and found three security officers on their way to their location. He willed them away to the recreation room.

Iris heard his call. She willed a canister of sleeping gas to appear and activated it. Then she disappeared. The people surrounding her were shocked but their deep breaths caused them to be knocked out much faster. She willed herself to Jorg’s position before she allowed herself to breathe.

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

Kean was with Heath and Jacques. When he received the call, the people were being rounded up from the cabins of the Pellegrine.

“I’ve got to go,” said Kean. “I’ve to disactivate much of the sensors that the station has,” he informed his companions before he left. Kean was glad that Jorg made him study the different locations of the sensors when they discovered who the two offending magi were.

“Everyone out! This is an emergency!” a voice came from ooutside the cabin.

Jacques opened the door and one of their security men was standing outside.

“Mr. Robinson. We’ve to get everyone off the ship. There’s been an incident.”

The three were ushered off the ship to the station’s enlisted rec room.

“What’s happening?” asked Professor Robinson when he saw his son.

“I don’t know.”

“Where’s the captain?”

“All I know was that he had gone with the general to a special meeting with the station commandant. Our senior ship officers went, too. As far as I know, we were supposed to be resting until early tomorrow morning when the captain will brief us on the next part of the tests.”

Mark came to them with some news, “Hi! I’ve just talked to some of the security people. They tell me that there’s been a bomb on board the ship. They’d only tell me that much.”

“Mark,” Frank started, “I was hoping to bump into you …”

“Sorry, sir. I’ve to go,” said Mark hurriedly. “I’ve to make sure that everyone’s accounted for.”

Frank wanted to say some more but Jacques interrupted, “Are Mama and the girls all right?”

Frank frowned at his son. “Yes, they’re at the back there,” he said pointed to a group of people at the back of the rec hall.

“Sorry, Dad. I don’t think Mark is ready to talk yet. You were going to ask him about Stephanie and him, weren’t you?”

“Ah … Yes. How do you know he isn’t ready?”

“I work with him, Dad. Besides, he doesn’t really need to account for everyone. It was just an excuse. Let him be, Dad. It’s too soon after the break-up. Why don’t we go and join Mama and the girls?”

Frank allowed himself to go with Jacques and Heath to join the rest of the family.

“Did you hear that there was a bomb on board the ship?” Geraldine asked the moment the men joined them.

“Yes,” said Frank. “We just heard.”

“Isn’t it awful? Why this act of violence? It must be the work of madman,” Geraldine decided.

Mama!” groaned Stephanie. “Can you let psychology lie low for a little while?”

Geraldine ignored her daughter, and, as if to poke back at her, Geraldine asked her husband, “I saw Mark out there. I didn’t know he was in the military?”

“Actually,” said Frank. “I knew he was with the ship.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? I’d gone to talk to him!” Geraldine turned to Jacques and asked, “You knew and you didn’t tell me?”

“Well …” Jacques said softly, his eyes on Stephanie.

“You should’ve at least told me,” said Geraldine.

“And what?” asked Jacques. “So that you could try to analyse why the two of them broke up? If Stephanie wasn’t willing to say, what makes you think that Mark would talk?”

“I knew he worked on board the ship,” said Stephanie.

“You knew?!!” asked Geraldine. Frank was also staring at his daughter.

“Jacques told me that he was his assistant,” she replied.

Geraldine turned to look at Jacques. “He’s your assistant and you didn’t even mention a thing?”

“Lelia and I saw him on the ship, too,” said Chiara.

“You too?!” asked Geraldine. “The whole family knew that Mark was on the ship and no one bothered to tell me?!!”

Heath went forward and placed his arm around the petite Geraldine. “Mama,” he began. “Walk with me, won’t you?” Geraldine nodded and walked away from the group with Heath.

“First, I didn’t say anything because it wasn’t my place to say, and I had to respect Jacques decision not to say anything. Second, would it have made any difference if you’d known beforehand?” Heath started.

“You’re family, Heath and I understand your loyalty to Jacques. I must say that you’ve made some sense in what you said. I guess you’re right in that there’d be little difference whether I knew or not, except, perhaps, that I would’ve tried to get Stephanie to talk to him. I wouldn’t have forced her nor would I have gone to talk to Mark personally.”

“So Mama, why are you so upset?”

Geraldine smiled. “You’re trying this psychology stuff on a psychology professor?”

Heath returned the smile, “I’m not getting paid here. I just can’t stand seeing you upset.”

“I was upset because they’ve kept a secret from me and they should’ve known me better.”

“Yeah, they should know you better but I guess they were also being over-protective of Stephanie. With Stephanie, I guess Mr. Robinson and Jacques went a little too far.”

Geraldine started to laugh. Stephanie was a difficult child to raise. It was more so since she started going out with Mark. But Geraldine remembered what Lelia said about Mark. She had also observed that Mark was more loving towards her daughter than the other way round.

“Are you sure they aren’t being over-protective of Mark?” she asked with a small laugh.

“That … I can’t be sure. We’d better clarify that one with them,” Heath said with a grin.

“No,” said Geraldine. “Thanks Heath. Talking about Mark again would set off more discourses. Let’s get back and not talk about Mark and Stephanie.”

“I agree.”

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