Galthar was a bustling place, in the center of the Eastern continent of the Mid-realm, north of Arsha’s home of Largandra. The Endeavor touched down at the Realmfleet base that resided there. Arsha, Marshii, and Thengo stepped down the landing ramp and were greeted by Commander Orbo, the one in charge of the base. The medical supplies were being loaded into the Endeavor’s cargo bay as Orbo spoke with Arsha. “I must admit,” the Commander said in his usual gruff grandpa tone, “I had no idea you would make a fine Captain.”
“You’re laying it on thick,” observed Arsha. “You don’t usually do that unless something’s on your mind.”
“…All right, it’s about the Vorkath Monastery,” admitted Orbo.
“What about it?” asked Arsha.
“The results they get are coming much too fast,” explained Orbo.
“They’re researching how to cure most, if not all, diseases,” countered Arsha. “I think we can safely say they’re doing what they do for the greater good.”
“I’ve always felt twitchy about that ‘greater good’ thing,” muttered Orbo. “Too many tyrants in the Mid-realm’s history alone used that phrase for their actions.”
“Don’t tell me you think the Monastery’s up to no good,” sighed Arsha.
“I’m just saying, they’re a little too private about their methods,” replied Orbo.
“They don’t want their secrets to leak to the Splitters,” debated Arsha, “I would think they should have all the privacy they need.”
“I have to side with Commander Orbo here,” called Thengo’s voice as she joined them. “There are significant gaps in their methods whenever the Realmfleet Science board gets a report. That screams ‘hiding something’ to me.”
“That IS unusual, I grant you,” conceded Arsha, “but medical research has been used against someone for ill.”
“Besides,” answered Marshii’s voice as she joined them, “they have the best technological means available to them. I think they know how to keep the Oath.”
“Did…Marshii just…?” asked Thengo.
“Support technological methods of healing?” finished Arsha. Marshii frowned at them.
“There ARE some illnesses that magic can’t fix,” she grumbled. “Now, if you lot are finished playing ‘Poke Holes in Marshii’s Logic’, the medical supplies are all loaded.”
“All right then,” replied Arsha, “we leave at once. Commander, we’ll look into the Monastery to see if there ARE nefarious plots going on.”
“That is all I ask,” finished Orbo. The Endeavor was soon cleared for departure and left the base, leaving some crew members concerned after the conversation with Orbo made the rounds.
“Captain,” remarked Shalvey, “I don’t think I can fully dismiss what Orbo said. The monks there are more guarded than any monk I’ve ever met.”
“Not you too!” protested Arsha.
“Commander,” called Dalengor, “I find it highly unlikely that the monks would do anything that would breach the Doctor’s Oath. Under that, experimentation on unwilling life-forms is forbidden.”
“Can we please keep this conversation to a minimum?” asked Arsha. “We have a job and speculating about it isn’t gonna get it done faster.”
“If I may be a little selfish,” muttered Nazay, “I’m getting a headache from this. I’d rather find the nearest Realmgate without any…” The ship rocked. “Now what?!” said Nazay.
“Report!” called Arsha.
“Pirate ship of the port aft!” reported Malak. “Raising shields now!”
“Another firefight?” moaned Arsha as she snapped her fingers and teleported her hairpiece from her hair to its resting place in Arsha’s ready room desk. “I’m starting to get sick of this!” she continued. “Ready weapons. Target their propulsion.”
“Weapons locked on target,” replied Malak.
“Fire at will,” ordered Arsha. Malak let fly with laser fire, but the shots were absorbed by the shields.
“No effect,” reported Malak.
“We’re being hailed!” called Shalvey.
“On screen,” directed Arsha. A male Kitsune in pirate’s gear came up. “This is Captain Arsha Royana of the Endeavor! Explain yourself!”
“I am Captain Harune,” introduced the Kitsune. “Heave to and prepare to be boarded or we’ll blow your ship out of there sky.”
“You have no jurisdiction here!” snapped Arsha. “We’re not stopping! Move along or we’ll tow your ship to the nearest Realmfleet base!”
“Your medical supplies are needed for my crew,” dismissed Harune. “I say again, heave to or you will be permanently grounded.”
“I’d love to stay and chat,” hissed Arsha, “but I’m on a tight schedule. Shalvey, cut transmission.” Shalvey obeyed. “Torpedoes,” Arsha ordered Malak.
“Releasing safety catches on torpedo tubes 1 and 2,” reported Malak. “Firing. …No effect.”
“That’s a Nomad class ship,” called Nazay, noting the pirate’s ship. “It shouldn’t have shields designed to stop our torpedoes.”
“Try again,” urged Arsha.
“Captain, another ship is entering visual range,” reported Malak.
“It’s hailing us,” relayed Shalvey.
“On screen,” relayed Arsha. A female Cecaelia appeared. She had purple hair and jewelry, wore a white top with purple dots, disconnected purple sleeves that flared out and went past the wrist, a purple choker around her neck, a purple skirt with a white petticoat, and an eyepatch over her right eye. One of her purple legs was on the steering wheel of her ship.
“Ahoy there!” called the Cecaelia. “Do you require help?”
“Partrica Looden,” said Arsha with a little distaste.
“CAPTAIN Partrica Looden,” corrected Partrica. “I’ve been hunting the bilge-rat, Harune, for quite a while. You must have some valuable cargo.”
“Valuable for the Vorkath Monastery,” replied Arsha. Partrica whistled.
“Aye, that’s enough to attract attention,” she conceded. “Me and my crew will hold him off. You get to the nearest Realmgate.”
“…All right,” sighed Arsha.
“Realmgate located, Ma’am,” reported Nazay.
“Get us there now,” ordered Arsha.
“Farewell, Captain!” cheered Partrica. The call ended and the Endeavor set off towards the Realmgate. The enemy pirates fired but were then distracted by Partrica’s ship.
“I know we owe her,” muttered Arsha, “but I find it a little too convenient that Partrica happened to be in the area.”
“She IS a Protector Pirate,” reminded Elmar. “Realmfleet owes a great deal to them.”
“Pirates are robbers, though!” grumbled Malak. “Protector Pirates steal the goods from the unsavory pirates and don’t even bother returning them! It feels like a racket!”
“Partrica’s crew, sir,” interjected Elmar, “is a trustworthy one. Besides, the goods the unsavory pirates obtain are just as unsavory.”
“Do you always feel the need to remind people of obvious stuff?” groaned Malak.
“Now, now,” called Arsha. “Let’s not go there. Malak, status of the enemy ship?”
“They are still occupied by Partrica’s ship,” reported Malak. “They cannot pursue us.”
“Realmgate just ahead,” remarked Nazay as the familiar stone ring opened a green vortex.
“Nice and easy,” directed Arsha as she summoned her hairpiece and put it back on. The Endeavor then passed through the gate and entered the permanently sunny skies of the Over-realm. The portal behind them was now grey and white. Oak, Shalvey, Laverda, Orthena, and Thengo sighed happily. Elmar contented himself with a small smile.
“If I may be egotistical for a minute,” chuckled Thengo, “nothing compares to our Realm.”
“I have to agree,” sighed Malak.
“Captain, we’re being hailed by a nearby ship,” replied Shalvey. “Cumulonimbus Class, registry CRS-3395.”
“Prince Lardeth’s ship,” mused Elmar.
“Put them through,” ordered Arsha. Lardeth’s face filled the screen.
“Welcome to the Over-Realm, Captain Arsha,” greeted Lardeth.
“Good to be here,” replied Arsha. “We just escaped from pirates who were after the medical supplies we have for the Vorkath Monastic Hospital.”
“Falnii told me you were making a delivery there,” answered Lardeth. “Sorry I can’t stay in the Over-realm. I need to settle a feud between Falgreth and Dwelga. After Lord and Lady Varsek’s murder, tensions became even more strained.”
“Ouch,” winced Arsha. “Well, good luck. Safe travels!”
“Thank you!” bid Lardeth as the call ended. The Endeavor then moved aside to let the High Sky through. The Realmgate’s portal color changed from grey and white to red to allow the ship to enter the Under-realm. When the High Sky went through, the Endeavor turned eastwards towards Vorkath, the city of Chimeras.