tagSci-Fi & FantasyOffspring Ch. 041

Offspring Ch. 041

byTalemaster©

It was midday when we arrived. Unloading started almost as soon as we had touched down. The first boxes to be unloaded contained what Jeremy needed to complete the house where the Angels would live. He assured me the place would be ready for occupation in less than five hours.

When Talla arrived at the town square with her girls all pandemonium broke loose. One of the kids ran up to Talla and told her they should stay where they were. The kids positioned themselves in front of Talla's group in neat rows, many of them were dripping wet, having come straight out of the fountain. There must have been a hundred kids there. They all sang a song of welcome to their Angels, conducted by one of the teachers. They must have practised this a lot since the performance was flawless. Adults had come out of businesses and houses to watch. When they were done there was roaring applause. Talla thanked the children and at a sign from the teacher the kids went back to what they had been doing.

Talla took her girls to the pub to sample the draft beer she had been telling them so much about. The girls loved it.

Pedro was having a quiet beer with his brother when I arrived in the pub.

"We've been playing arms dealer I heard," said Pedro. "It must have cost a fortune."

"Not really. I paid one mil in black market gold plus hundred and twenty

grand in fees and bribes. The shit would have cost the Feds ten times that."

"You gonna get some more?"

"That depends on what we find out about the Torgons. Niels gave me a lot of stuff I haven't had a chance to look at yet."

I had made some copies of Niels' material. I handed Pedro and Juan each a memory stick.

"Have a good look at it and then we'll discuss whatever it is that turns up new."

I told them about my plans with the embassy and my wanting to amend the deal the Federation had with the Oktonian government and how I intended to deal with the poofterocracy in the spaceport.

"Poofterocracy? As in bureaucracy run by poofters?" Pedro was beside himself laughing. "Who on Earth came up with that one?"

I told him Dr. Chang had coined the word.

"Good on the old bastard. I would have never though it to come from him. I love it."

"Now I need an ambassador. I don't know if you remember Mira. She was the Oktonian liaison officer at the hotel. She is here. Mira has a good touch in dealing with humans, even drunk and obnoxious spacers. I think she would be excellent for the job. I want you, Pedro, to coach her in the art of diplomacy. Will you do that?"

"I could do with some help. She can do some secretarial work for me and I'll coach her as we go along."

I called Mira over and introduced her to Pedro and Juan.

"I want you to work for Pedro after you have settled in. You will help him with some secretarial work and he will teach you how diplomacy works in a human society. When you are ready I want you to head an Oktonian embassy I will set up in the spaceport. Would you like to do that?"

"Frank wants Mira to be an ambassador for her people?"

"Yes."

Mira did a little war dance like I had seen Talla do when I told her I wanted her to come with me to Earth.

"Mira will do as Frank says. Mira loves Frankie," she said when she was through with her routine.

I had no idea what this Frankie business was all about. Maybe that was what the Angels called me amongst themselves.

After another couple of beers I went to my cabin on the Pygmalion. I was tired and slept well in spite of the noise from the unloading of our cargo.

***

I didn't feel like spending the day behind a computer and have a look at Niels' material so I went to see Jack instead. I had never seen him happier. He seemed to have shed twenty years and was hopping around like a young goat. Jack took me around to show me where he was at. By now he had four hundred acres under cultivation at various stages of growth. His early plants were already over six inches tall. The highlight of his guided tour was the greenhouse. He had extended it with a tunnel. It was a simple frame covered with translucent plastic foil. Some sixty feet long and about fifteen wide it was crammed with pots containing what looked like twelve inch sticks with a few leaves on them.

"Australian eucalyptus trees," Jack explained. "They can handle the conditions here. Their tap roots go very deep, well into our water table. I'll only need to water them until they are established, after that they'll look after themselves."

"How come they're already this big?"

"We bought them like this. They were grown on Earth by the Federation's Forestry Commission. They grow them in sterile green houses from tissue cultures for export to other worlds. Guaranteed free of diseases and parasites. It's their biggest seller because those trees thrive almost anywhere, grow fast and make good timber."

The greenhouse proper was also full of pots, but with a number of different plants growing in them.

"Flowers and shrubs," Jack explained. "They'll brighten up the landscape. Talla got me some seeds and tubers from the mainland on Okton4. She reckoned they would do well here. Don't ask me how she got them. I'm just happy I can play with something I haven't come across before. Let her keep her secrets. The rest are plants from Earth and some other worlds I had brought with me."

We concluded the tour by having a drink with Ben in his lunch room. That had been extended too. It could now hold fifty people at a time with ease. In addition he had added a terrace with tables, chairs and umbrellas where people could dine 'al fresco' if they so wished. Ben said that a number of people came over from Talla most days to sample his cooking that's why he needed the extra space.

By now I was feeling guilty for not getting stuck into Niels' material. It was time I made a move.

I had hardly returned to my cabin on the Pygmalion when Feng and Talla came to see me.

"Let's get a move on, Cousin. You no longer live here."

When Feng said that I noticed for the first time my gear was not in the cabin any more.

"What the fuck happened?"

"Talla and I got us something a bit more comfortable."

"Alright, what have you done?"

"Remember the building we put up to assemble the supercomputer? Anyway, I thought it would make a good base for us. I had Jeremy extend it, offices downstairs and living accommodation upstairs. It's next to the farm and Ben's diner so its really handy if you want a drink or a meal. While we were on Okton4 Talla had her girls pack up our office gear and load it on the Pygmalion. They worked like crazy to get everything installed. The place is ready."

"Just one question. Why over there and not in Talla, say next to the pub?"

"Because Talla is the capital of the Principality of Juanpedro. We need to have our administration, however temporary, in the Kingdom of Olympus. It's a question of sovereign territory. I talked it over with Pedro and Uncle. They both thought it was the proper way to proceed. At the moment it doesn't mean much, later it will become a different story."

"Good thinking. Let's make a move then."

The new building was everything Feng had said it was and more. The living quarters upstairs were self contained units with an en suite bathroom. Feng, Talla, Al and myself would live there for the time being. We would be comfortable. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to recreate my office the way it had been back on Okton4. Even the beer in the fridge was cold. Naturally we had to have some.

Then it was time to get into Niels' material. It fell into three categories. The first segment was mainly space footage of deliveries the humans made to the Torgons. All deliveries went to the same ship without exception. The commentator explained that the Torgons had presumably modified one of their ships to act as a decontamination station to ensure all goods received were free of the virus before the cargoes were transferred to the other ships. For this purpose the Torgons used four shuttles which had either been cleaned up or had never been on the planet surface. There were a number of shots that showed the shuttles clearly as being of Torgon construction. Presumably these things were capable of travelling in hyperspace and were armed. This was not good news, for it meant that, depending on how these ships were fitted out, I had no chance to put them out of commission with twelve lousy torpedoes. But that was tomorrow's problem.

The second segment was a breakdown of all goods received by the Torgons over the last twelve months. This was useful information. It would give us an idea how many of the creatures we had to contend with and what they relied on for survival. As expected much of the cargo was Deuterium and Lithium for the fusion reactors and food, mainly Pumpernickel, roots, tubers and eggs. Talla explained that her people laid many eggs that were infertile. These eggs were collected, preserved in some fashion and sent to the Torgons for consumption.

The third segment was a surprise to us. It consisted of the diaries of a Colonel Justin Emerson who had led the guerilla war against the Torgons and who had negotiated the deal which caused the uneasy truce between Torgons, Faeries and humans that existed to this day.

To me this was pure gold. Here was a man who had actively fought the very creatures I was up against and had prevailed against them in some fashion. His experiences and observations would be invaluable to me. I decided to start with his diaries, Feng and the others could look at the rest of the material for now.

Colonel Emerson's diaries were a handwritten record of some thousand pages in length. Luckily his handwriting was neat and orderly and presented no problems. I made a copy and asked one of Talla's girls to get two copies printed out for me. This way I could carry it around wherever I went and study the document at my leisure. The second copy I intended to give to Trevor.

I had expected to see some photographs of Torgons amongst the material, but all there was were shots of them in spacesuits, which didn't tell me much. I wondered what that meant. When I asked Al about this over dinner he said that no one in living memory had ever seen a Torgon in the flesh as it were and if photos existed of them from earlier times he had no idea where they might be kept. He had never come across a photograph, neither had he met someone who claimed to have seen one. As far as he knew the only reliable information they had of the creatures came from Colonel Emerson's diaries. Of course there were stories from the time of the invasion, but they either described the Torgons as super beings or the devil incarnate, depending on who was telling the tale. The Emerson diaries were classified information, only accessible to a few.

"I have no idea how my brother managed to get his hands on a copy," he said. "If the mainland government ever found out about this he would spend the rest of his life in the mines or worse."

"Tell me, Al, why do you think that is?"

"My brother and I have discussed this at length on a number of occasions. We came to the conclusion that our government wants contact with the Torgons only under strictly supervised conditions by only a handful of people. To the masses they foster the belief that Torgons are immensely powerful supernatural creatures who hold our lives in their hands and are only approachable by a chosen few. Something like this anyway."

"Why would they do that?"

"In every society there are people who worship the dark forces. There are those who would sell us out to the Torgons without hesitation if they could figure out how to get in touch with them. There are temples on the mainland where people pray to the Torgons for deliverance. That is why the only equipment capable of communicating with them is in the spaceport in an area off limits to the Federation."

"It was your own government then who has carefully purged the records of all information about the Torgons?"

"So it would appear, Frank."

"Thanks Al, this clarifies a few things for me."

***

I had a restless night. Until Al told me I had not known how far Niels had put his head on the chopping block by giving me the information he had. I had to tell the others, just in case someone said something somewhere to the wrong people.

It was dark when I got up eventually. These sixty hour days were hard to get used to. I had breakfast at Ben's. Talla, Feng, Al and Trevor were already there when I arrived. I told them we had to have a conference as soon as possible.

I phoned Pedro and informed him what I had in mind. He promised to arrange for Juan, George and Jeremy to be in the meeting room on the Pygmalion in two hours time. The Pygmalion wasn't a bad choice for a meeting of this nature. No one would overhear us there. I said so and told the others.

Having still some time up my sleeve I went to my office. Tami, our new receptionist cum house mother, had been working through the sleeping period by the look of it. On my desk were the two copies of the Emerson diaries, as well as the memory stick I had given her.

I thanked her and told her to go and get some sleep, but she insisted she was alright and made me some coffee instead. There was a communication from the Tai-pan on my desk as well. He had found a freighter on Earth he thought was suitable for us. About four times the size of the Pygmalion it was an older model but in good shape. The engines were not terribly efficient by today's standards, but since we were using it mostly for short hops the extra fuel costs were not too much of a burden, so Uncle explained. I had Tami print out the specs to show to Pedro, Juan and Talla, then it was time for my meeting.

Outside temperatures were around freezing, normal for this time of day. I was wearing my fatigues with long thermal underwear so it was no hardship. The others must have had similar ideas for all were in uniform. I had to laugh when I saw Pedro and Juan. Both wore the insignia of a spaceship captain as well as their wings. The funny bit were the patches on their arms. They showed a Mexican golden eagle, sitting on a prickly pear, devouring a snake. The emblem of Mexico when there was still such a country. The legend surrounding the eagle read Principality of Juanpedro. Actually, it looked great and I said so. That's when I noticed Jeremy and George wearing the same patches.

I opened the meeting by explaining Niels' predicament and the need for secrecy.

"I had to bring this up," I said. "You guys wouldn't talk to outsiders about this, I know. However, we will need to bring other people into the project as time goes by. We need to be sure whom we will tell what to make certain Niels is safe."

"It is better we know," said Talla. "Tami has seen the diaries. She is safe. She will never talk about what happens in the office. You can trust her."

"How do I fit into this?" asked Jeremy.

"You are the best engineer we have on Olympus. The first segment of the material shows space footage of deliveries. It contains close up shots of the big ships, Torgon shuttles, docking manoeuvres and so forth. I want you to go through that footage with a fine tooth comb and glean as much technical information as you can."

"Not a problem."

"Trevor, here is a copy of Colonel Emerson's diaries. He conducted the guerilla war against the Torgons two hundred years ago. You are the soldier, see what you can do with it."

"Sir."

"Alright, before we close the meeting there is one more thing. The Tai-pan has found a freighter for us. I have the specifications here."

I handed a copy of the specs to Pedro, Juan and Talla.

"I want to know what you guys think before I give the go ahead. Discuss it with Talla, since it will be her ship. Give me a call when you've come to a decision."

"Talla will get her own ship?" Talla's wings indicated confusion.

"Not much point training you to be a pilot without giving you a ship. Is there?"

Talla did one of her little war dances again. It took a while for her to calm down.

"Talla loves Frankie," she said.

"Seeing it will be your ship, what are you going to call her?"

"There is only one name," she said. "Talla will call her 'Tikana' in honour of the Goddess."

"Good choice. Now let's break up, I'm thirsty."

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