“Can you believe this, Shran?” Orion asked his first officer, while he looked intensely at the daily newspaper, “They’re calling protesters, traitors.” The front page was mostly a signal picture of the bloody aftermath of a simple protest turning into a massacre end in only the deaths of fifteen unarmed protesters.
“Well, your world is backward and messed up, to begin with, Orion, remember who you’re talking to, now,” Shran said, gazing out of a window of a small aircraft to a world he didn’t call his own. “The mainlanders own the government and the mainlanders will do whatever it takes to stay in power.”
“Why do you have to be so blue about it,” he said, without thinking.
“I was blue until they decided I looked better like one of you pink-skins.”
“I thought you were over that,” Orian said, folding the newspaper up
“How can I? When every day when I look in the mirror and can’t recognize myself, but you will understand when the Defence Directorate asks for your resignation.”
“Well, if they want to stay in power, they probably should keep their only colonist captain, or they definitely have traitors in their midst.”
“Tell them that when you get into the meeting and remind them, they want to keep their only Andorian on their good side, as well.”
The aircraft landed, vertically, on the landing pad on top of the Mars Defence Directorate building, the tallest and, almost, widest building on all of Mars. You could see the whole capital of Aphrodite, named after the Greek version of Mars’ Love in mythology. But that wasn’t the only reason; they put as much effort as they could to make this city the most beautiful in all the cities on Mars and their colonizers. Large fountains similarly to that of Italy’s Trevi fountain, Pillars like those of Greece, a Theater that was the exact replica of the Globe in England. Martian thought they were better than their planetary neighbors, but they admired their achievements and tastes.
The two officers were met by the secretary of the Director of the Directorate, one of the few colonists that lived on Mars instead of the colonies on the moons and were the only colonists to work in the government. She was a head shorter than Orion, had red hair that she had in a ponytail, and had big, bright green eyes behind black-rimmed glasses. “Mr. Andromeda, Mr. Shran?” she asked, over the sound of the engine.
“Yes,” Orion said, having a harder time being heard.
“Follow me, please.” She led them to an elevator and down three floors. The bulk of the level was under construction, mainly to make offices bigger. At the end of the hall was a giant set of doors that lead into the hearing room.
“Go right in, Mr. Andromeda,” the girl said.
“I thought this was for both of us,” Orion said, puzzled.
“No, Mr. Shran stop is a few more floors down.”
“Why?” Shran asked.
“I’m not privy to that information, but if you’re late…” she said suddenly stopping.
“Captain,” another person said from the giant door, “We don’t have all day.”
Listening to the call, Orion went in, and the girl brought Shran down to his meeting. “Good morning, Captain Andromeda, thank you for coming on such short notice,” the Director of the Directorate said, sitting behind a long table with the heads of the departments seated on either side.
Sitting in the chair in front of the table, he replied, “It’s sort of hard not to when you send a class D battleship after my ship.”
“Sorry for that, but this of the utmost importance and urgency.”
“The revolt at Deimos Alpha?”
“Revolt? Try riot. We hate to ask, but for the security of the Directorate, we need to.”
“I’ve been work for the Directorate long before any of you been born,” Orion said, disgusted.
“We aren’t questioning your integrity, just where your loyalties lie,” said the woman next to Director.
“The Andromeda and her Captain and her crew are for the values of the Defence Directorate - not to say that there aren’t values I hold for my fellow colonists - but as long as you don’t force my hand, We’ll stay loyal to the Directorate,” he said and left before they had a chance to react.
As he closed the door, the Director said, “We need to put some safeguards in place, we can’t afford to lose the Captain.” Outside the door, on the other hand, the girl and a man were, by the looks of it, arguing in the hall. After the man left, she practically fell back into her chair, behind her small desk (very small compared to the huge waiting room) to the left of the door. “Is everything okay?”
“No, no it’s not! I just got fired,” she said, putting her hand on the box on the desk, “They don’t want the daughter of a known traitor taking their calls for them.”
“That isn’t right.”
“No it isn’t, but they did it anyway, and now I have my desk and apartment cleared out by the end of the day.”
“Do you have a place to stay?”
“No, I have to find a way back home.”
“Where’s home? Shran and I are leaving for Phobos tomorrow. We could take you if it weren’t too troubling for you to stay a few nights on a battleship.”
“In fact, Phobos is where it is. Phobos Delta.”
“See you at Dock 5, east pier, Miss...” he said, thinking what the odds were that they lived in the same domed city?
As Northampton, England on Earth was raging in flames, Orion was on long communication with his wife of four years, “Athena, Shran is a grown man, I can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do.”
“It’s dinner, order him if you have to, but if you don’t bring him when your trip over, we’ll see what happens.” Crying started in the background. “We’ll take about this later. Bye Dear.”
“Bye hon, tell Amunet I say hi,” he said, turning off the communication.
“Captain and first officer to the bridge,” a voice said over the comm.
Now you wait for my call to be over, Orion thought as he rushed to the bridge. He met up with Shran on the lift up to the bridge. “What did you and Athena talk about?”
“You’re getting me in trouble. What’s wrong with coming over, you didn’t mind it before?”
“Now, you have a family.”
“And you have a three-year-old goddaughter that you haven’t ever meet.”
“Is it my fault that I’m your only friend.”
“Is it my fault that I’m Your only friend and my wife wants you over.”
“Can we talk about this later,” Shran asked, as the lift door opened.
“Sure. Andromeda, what’s going on?” Orion asked, getting off the lift.
The hologram of the ship’s avatar appeared next to him, “We’ve got new orders, possible terrorist activity, we’re meeting up with the Artemis.”
“You don’t sound too happy about that.”
“How would you feel if your sister aimed sixty torpedos at you?” she asked, deactivating the Hologram.
“Bring us to L.S. one, Isis.”
“Yes, sir,” Isis said, tapping at the console in front of her.
In a matter of minutes, the Andromeda was at the edge of Martian space between Mars and Earth, and the Artemis arrived seconds after them. But something wasn’t right, instead of a ship with armament and high-grade shields, like Orion expected out of a terrorist ship, it was a tiny ship, with no weapons and minimal shielding that had already looked liked it had been through hell. “Are we in the right place?” Shran asked.
“Yes, we are. I don’t understand, that’s an A-class shuttle, the only threat, in its present condition, is to itself,” Andromeda stated.
“Weren’t those things highly combustible?” asked the communications officer.
“Those things are very combustible that’s why they stop making them,” Orion said, “Contact the Artemis, Ajax.”
“Well, Captain Andromeda, Lovely to see you, but I think the Directorate overestimates this threat, we won’t be needing your assistance.”
“Captain Apollo, look at Artemis’ sensors, they definitely overestimated this threat, there is no threat.”
“Orion, orders are orders. The Directorate says the ship has weapons and is a threat to Mars and its colonies, so then it does and is.”
“It’s millions of kilometers away from the nearest Martian colony, Captain Apollo,” Andromeda remarked. “Even if it launched the strongest weapon known to this quadrant, it wouldn’t harm Mars nor Earth.”
“This isn’t about that,” Captain Apollo said, ending the transmissions.
“The Artemis is locking torpedos,” Andromeda announced.
“Ares, lock phasers on the power generator.”
“What? We can’t shoot at another Directorate ship!” Ares yelled.
“If your as good as a shot as the Directorate says you are, then you can hit the right generator exactly and not cause any other troubles to the Artemis’ life support.”
“I must protest, Captain.”
“Protest all you want, but if you won’t, Isis can you hit it?”
“Yes, I can, Captain,” Isis answered.
“Go right ahead, helmsman,” Ares said, then whispered, “I’ll like to see you try to do my job.”
Isis diverted weapons control to her station, aimed, fired and hit the foot by foot panel on the Artemis which behind it laid the secondary generator. “Nice shot, Isis. Ajax, contact that shuttle, tell them were sending a team to help, and relay Captain Apollo’s eventual communications to the Ready room when it comes through. Shran we need to talk,” Orion said, motioning for Shran to follow him into the only other door on the bridge that wasn’t to the lift.
“Way to go, Orion,” Shran said after the door close, “Those Green and Redskins needed someone to put them in their places, I’m just sad it wasn’t me.”
“What did I just do?” Orion asked, running his hand through his hair.
“You did what’s right, one torpedo could have blown that ship up five times over,” Shran answered, sitting on the desk in the room, “Andromeda, would you be a dear and put Cerberus on that away team to confirm what we already know about that shuttle.”
“Anything else before I open the loading bay doors,” Andromeda asked, appearing on the computer screen next to Shran.
“Yeah, have him do a quick search, I want a report in a few minutes. Let Brigid know that she needs to work fast, I want to leave before Artemis’ power back up, and if she protests remind her that she’s the doctor and I’m the captain. Lastly, we need to have a talk, too.”
“I’ll be they once I pass the information along.”
“Thank you,” both of them chimed.
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you’re welcome.”
As she signed off, a doorbell-like thing went off and the door to the office open. Ares was in the doorway, “Captain, Commander.”
“Come in, Ares, sit but make it quick,” Orion said.
“I shouldn’t have questioned your orders,” he said, remaining standing.
“Why? Because it’s only been a year since you join the crew or because you’re not Martian?” Shran asked.
“Both, I have no right~” Ares started.
“You have all the right in the universe. I don’t know what it is like to be raised in the cities on Mars, but in the colonies and on this ship you have a right to an opinion if you are a mainlander, a colonist, or an alien.”
“You really believe that?”
“If I didn’t, I would have thrown you and this arrogant, know-it-all Andorian’s butt out the airlock a long time ago.”
“Captain, Captain Apollo’s transmission is coming in,” Ajax’s voice came over the comm.
“Ares, do you mind getting back to your station, but if you like to talk about this further that can happen later.”
Ares left and, before Orion could answer Apollo, Shran put his hand on top of the keyboard of the computer. “See? That’s my point. Those mainlanders, his so-called adoptive family, denied him, pardon the term, his Martianity, his humanity. How could you not see the problem with that? He’s not a citizen because the mainlanders took over his homeworld and killed or enslaved his parents. You Martians might have a vast empire, but the mainlanders have no respect for life besides their own. If you don’t believe me, look at colonist history, me, him.”
“I get your point, now, be quiet,” Orion said shooing his hand away, “Hello, Draco.”
“That’s Captain Apollo to you! What were you thinking? Please tell me that sorry excuse for a genetic augment gave the order.”
“Hey, that sorry excuse of a genetic augment is right here!” Shran yelled.
“I gave the order, you were going to kill unarmed people,” Orion said, giving the evil eye to Shran.
“How do you know?”
“Unlike you, it seems, I trust my ship. And the Artemis is a good ship, you should trust hers, Captain Anubis did.”
“Captain Anubis died decades ago, but, I guess what being two hundred and fifty, your days might be getting mess up.”
“At least he knew when to do what he was told and when he couldn’t take what the Directorate says at face value.”
“I’ll see you court-martialed for this and see your trash of a ship turned into scrap metal,” Apollo said, ending the transmission.
“Well, that went swell,” Orion said.
“Swell. That is the understatement of the year. I love this backbone you grew, keep it up, and I promise you I’ll take up Athena’s offer.”
“Well, that’s the best thing I’ve heard all day,” Orion said as Andromeda’s Hologram appeared in the room.
“We need to get you a bell,” Shran said, nearly jumping off the desk.
“I’ll see what I can do about that, Shran. What did you want to talk about, Captain?”
“Do you trust your sensors?” Orion asked.
“What do you mean?”
“If you had to put our lives in the hands of your sensors, would you?”
“Malfunctions are always a possibility.”
“That wasn’t my question, do you believe in yourself as much as I believe you?”
“Yes, I do. What’s the point of these questions?”
Before Orion answered her, he contacted Cerberus, “report, Chief?”
“If we were any later, this shuttle would be a flash in the Martian night sky. The engine was about to explode, but, as you thought, there are no weapons aboard. Why would the Directorate sentence fifteen colonist children and their parents to death?”