“By the Ones, that Sprite’s like a virus we can’t get rid of!” wailed Rellmeer as she, Arsha, Slamfal, and Rokalla discussed the situation.
“I’m going to recommend an arrest warrant be published,” declared Rokalla. “She’s a terrorist threat to all the Realms.”
“Agreed,” replied Rellmeer.
“I must say, Oak was a bit reckless having you guys go THROUGH the funnels,” chuckled Slamfal. “I take it the survey was botched?”
“Jansha never ran it,” explained Arsha. “She only gave us the illusion that it was running. Maybe next time.”
“What’s your heading?” asked Rokalla.
“Realmbase 273,” reported Arsha.
“The Glasna Kingdom base,” recalled Slamfal. “Dimorea’s gonna like the visit.”
“I wish it was a social call,” sighed Arsha, “but I have a few duties to perform. First, Commander Oak’s taking a Realmgate back to the Rooka Forest from there. I have a retirement walk ready for him. Second, we’re picking up Commander Welmeva and her family there. Why there and not her home of Crelima City, I don’t know. Third, I need to bring Dr. Ganshar to the holding cells in the Glasna Kingdom’s base so she can await trial for mistreatment of a sentient being.”
“Understood,” replied Rokalla. “Send Oak my best wishes, will you?”
“Of course,” promised Arsha.
“And could you make sure Dimorea’s law enforcement organizations are up to date on Dr. Borg?” requested Slamfal.
“Will do,” confirmed Arsha. “Arsha out.” The call ended and Arsha sighed. This was going to be odd to explain.
“I believe you,” answered Dimorea when she heard the story.
“You do?” asked Arsha.
“Why do you think the Arties’ Committee had been hounding Ganshar?” remarked Dimorea. “She was foolish enough to tell me what was going on onboard your ship.”
“So, you don’t mind holding her until her trial?” inquired Arsha.
“Not at all,” answered Dimorea.
“Then there’s another question,” remarked Arsha. “When is this Denstra supposed to come here?”
“Denstra?” repeated Dimorea. “Denstra Welmeva? Why ask after her?”
“Oak is retiring and he’s named her as his replacement,” explained Arsha.
“Ah,” realized Dimorea. “She may have a bit of a bouncy personality, but she IS an excellent commander.”
“Okay, I’ve had one bad thing about her and one good so far,” mused Arsha.
“Who said anything bad about her?” asked Dimorea.
“Rokalla said she takes risks and has a tendency to be high-strung,” replied Arsha.
“I see,” rumbled Dimorea.
“We had them!” grumbled Tormo as the Scorpion returned to their base in the Over-realm. Dr. Borg arched an eyebrow and turned her eyes towards him. “WE HAD THEM!” he repeated. “The virus took control of the ship! It locked out helm control! How did they survive?!”
“They altered the turn’s arc somehow by increasing power to the engines,” guessed Jansha. “Still, this IS tactical information for our coming plan. We learn more from failures, not successes.”
“Spoken like a true scientist,” praised Dr. Borg as she stroked Jansha’s head lovingly as one would do to a child.
“The virus WILL work!” insisted Tormo. “We must try a different version of it!”
“Their anti-virus software will have been updated for viruses of that vein,” replied Dr. Borg. “No, we will try something else to bring the Endeavor down. For now, we have other Council Members to recruit before making our Golems.”
“This may be a stupid question, but am I on this council?” asked Jansha.
“Of course, you are, my dearest,” assured Dr. Borg. “You command our armed forces as Tormo commands the finances. I head the scientific divisions. We just need propaganda, religion, and law enforcement. Of course, some blending through the fields will be needed. One cannot remain purely in one field; I can tell you. Through us, the Realms will finally unite.”
Oak was touring the Endeavor as it waited for Denstra. This was going to be the last time he’d see that particular bulkhead, that specific door, or that specified access panel. As he approached the Main Conference room, Bashoon approached him. “Sir,” she called, “you’re invited to the Officer’s Dining Hall.”
“Lead the way,” replied Oak. He followed Bashoon to the Officer’s Dining Hall and entered to see his Captain and fellow Senior Staff throwing a small party. A banner reading “Good Luck, Oak” was hung across the ceiling. “I guess slipping out quietly is out of the question,” he chuckled.
“‘Fraid so,” replied Arsha. Bashoon left as Arsha called for a toast. “Oak Mosstrunk, you have had a long, illustrious career within Realmfleet. You have earned your retirement, but did you ever consider what you were doing to me?!” She had a bit of a grin, indicating she was trying to elicit a laugh. A couple of people, even Oak, did so. “I mean, it’s all well and good for you, but what about MY needs, hm? While you’re off taking care of your child, I’ll be training your replacement! A few of you know her! She’s been called bouncy and a risk-taker, she’s most certainly going to take my place on away missions!”
“That IS the rule, Captain,” called Elmar. “Realmfleet code: Section 5, Paragraph 3 clearly states…”
“Elmar,” interrupted Arsha.
“…Yes, Captain,” answered Elmar, understanding what Arsha meant.
“Now, Oak, there’s still time to reconsider,” urged Arsha playfully.
“I’ve made my decision,” affirmed Oak.
“Very well,” sighed Arsha. She then raised her glass. “Oak Mosstrunk, you have served Realmfleet and went above and beyond the call of duty numerous times. I wish you clear skies and a star to navigate by as you live your life. Good Luck, Oak.”
“Good Luck, Oak,” repeated the rest of the Senior Staff.
“Thank you, all of you,” answered Oak. “I am truly blessed to have stood alongside such trusted members of Realmfleet. May your careers be as fruitful as mine was.” The audience applauded and the party began.
“…One day,” mused Bashoon as she heard the Senior Staff engaged in Oak’s celebration. She had no assignments at that point in time, so she headed off to her Dad’s restaurant. She found her table and Mrs. Barmek found her.
“Something I can get for you?” she asked.
“Just a Realmgate bacon burger,” replied Bashoon.
“…Something wrong?” inquired Mrs. Barmek.
“No, Mama,” assured Bashoon. “It’s just…I don’t have much of an appetite after what Dr. Ganshar did.”
“Ah, a let-down from your hero,” realized Mrs. Barmek.
“That’s it,” mumbled Bashoon. “I just…I looked up to her as my hero in robotics, believing she would create a new form of life with full rights, yet she intended to make a slave race like the various Splitter factions do with their golems! Is it wrong that I feel angry and betrayed?”
“Not wrong at all,” assured Mrs. Barmek. “I felt the same way when my father, my hero in financing, was discovered to have concealed Splitter funds from us.”
“So you know how betrayed I feel at discovering that my hero had feet of clay,” sighed Bashoon.
“Would a Dwelga chocolate milkshake help?” offered Mrs. Barmek. “On the house?”
“…Yeah, it would,” answered Bashoon, “but I need to talk to Thengo.”
“Maybe you should talk to her now,” suggested Mrs. Barmek. “I can have your order sent to wherever you two are talking.”
“She’s with the Senior Staff, celebrating Oak’s retirement,” mumbled Bashoon.
“She’s always willing to help people get through situations, no matter the situation she’s in,” assured Mrs. Barmek. “Call her and talk to her. I’ll get your order ready and sent to you.” She headed off to the kitchen while Bashoon sat at the table, contemplating her mother’s advice. She then took out her communicator and made a call.
“Counsellor Lortora,” she called, “are you available?”
“Why, Bashoon!” cheered Thengo’s voice. “Always! What can I do for you?”
“I need your help to sort through something,” answered Bashoon. “Can I meet you in your quarters? My mother is going to be bringing my meal over while we talk.”
“Oh dear, a private matter, then?” asked Thengo. “I’ll be right over. I’ll bring some food as well.”
“Thank you, Counsellor,” bid Bashoon. “Ensign Barmek, out.” She ended the call and headed off to Thengo’s quarters.