The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-16

Denstra met with Tenshal, Wenshai, and Endea in Sick Bay. “Broken down again?” she guessed.

“My engine’s only good for scrap,” replied Endea. “It’s been that way for a long time.

“You’re sadly correct,” sighed Denstra.

“Isn’t there anything we can do about it?” asked Wenshai.

“Like what?” muttered Denstra. “Tuurk and Talair won’t authorize repairs or a replacement engine. The only place she’s going to get one is with a heritage fleet. I’m sorry, Endea, but if you’re going to have any chance of a new engine, I’ll have to advise Arsha to ask Realmfleet to retire you.”

“I understand,” sighed Endea.

“But, Commander, that’s not fair!” protested Tenshal. “It only played up when she saved me from quarantine!”

“I’m sorry, but it’s out of my hands,” answered Denstra. “Like I said, the Endeavor…hold on, what was that about quarantine?”

“I almost picked up some cattle from Yutt’s farm,” explained Tenshal. “Endea stopped me and thinks the officer there was bribed.”

“And what facts do you have?” asked Denstra.

“I saw an exchange between Yutt and the officer when I tried to pick up his cattle, Ma’am,” reported Wenshai.

“You see?” asked Tenshal. “Endea’s the reason why I’m still here!”

“Stop it, Ensign,” ordered Endea. “Don’t go on about it.”

“Yes, please,” muttered Denstra. “You’re breaking my heart.”

“Honestly, Ma’am!” urged Tenshal. “You’ve gotta believe us! We’re only reporting the facts!”

“Commendable,” replied Denstra, “but it’s only one side of the facts.”

“Ah, Commander Welmeva!” came Tuurk’s oily voice as he and Talair arrived. “We have some good news for you, don’t we, Mr. Talair?”

“Indeed, Mr. Tuurk!” agreed Talair.

“You’re leaving Realmfleet?” asked Denstra.

“No, but the Endeavor is,” answered Talair, “isn’t she, Mr. Tuurk?”

“Oh, absolutely!” agreed Tuurk. “We’ve found a lovely heritage fleet base for her where she will be cared for and be given essential repairs.”

“She can get both here!” snapped Tenshal.

“Not on our tin, Ensign,” remarked Talair.

“Ah, Tuurk! Talair! Lovely to see you two!” called Arsha’s voice.

“Captain!” called Tenshal. “You have to do something! They’re going to sell Endea off!”

“Indeed!” confirmed Talair. “It’s quite a scenic base for her. You should be thanking us for getting this liability off your hands.”

“…Endea, you’ve served for a long time,” recalled Arsha. “You’ve been a shining example of Realmfleet ships long before you became a Mechanica last year, that’s a praiseworthy effort, perhaps worthy of retirement. So, the question is, is retirement what you want?” Endea was taken aback.

“Er, well…if I had the choice,” she mumbled, “then…no, I don’t want to be retired or scrapped.”

“Very well,” declared Arsha. She then turned to Tuurk and Talair with a big grin. “Gentlemen, have you checked the recent news?”

“Er, I don’t see how that correlates to this situation, do you, Mr. Talair?” asked Tuurk.

“I’m as in the dark as you, Mr. Tuurk,” answered Talair.

“Go on and check the Realmfleet Voting Boards and Orders Site,” advised Arsha. The two men arched their eyebrows before doing so. When they read the news, they were flabbergasted.

“Our scrapping and retirement proposal was shot down?!” yelped Tuurk.

“And all in-service ships are required to receive an overhaul in preparations for combat?!” cried Talair. “Who’s the idiot who wants us to waste our money like that?! The Final War hasn’t even begun yet!”

“Given the situation with Dr. Borg,” remarked Arsha, “I’d say that order only makes sense. Well, you heard them, you NEED to authorize Endea’s long-overdue overhaul.”

“Hold on!” protested Tuurk. “Endea hasn’t given us permission to do so!”

“So, we can’t until…!” continued Talair.

“I DO give my permission for an overhaul!” called Endea. “I’ve been needing one for a long time now!”

“Oh…very well!” grumbled Tuurk. “If you would kindly give us a detailed explanation of your issues, we’ll make sure there’s enough money for the shipyards to fix them as they give you your overhaul.”

“See if we care,” grunted Talair as the two men angrily strode out of Sick Bay and towards the exit.

“Commander Welmeva,” directed Arsha, “you and Shalvey request a set of sky-tugs to take us to the Galdredan Shipyards.”

“Aye, aye, Captain!” confirmed Denstra as she headed off to follow her orders.

“Ensigns, Thangred has already been informed of the overhaul order,” continued Arsha, “so you two help him secure any loose ends before the tugs arrive.”

“Yes, Captain!” cheered Tenshal.

“Hop on!” offered Wenshai. Tenshal climbed onto Wenshai and they galloped down the hall.

“Captain, I’ll see that Realmfleet never regrets this!” promised Endea.

“Given your service, I don’t think they will,” replied Arsha.

“So, if I may inquire, how did your dream-weaving go?”

“Splendidly! I feel like I could take on Oyed himself with my bare hands!”

“Well, don’t leave us out of the fight just yet. Hey, did you happen to get any information on a Minotaur named Tornoth?”

“Gorfanth’s brother? Oh, Gorfanth had a real funny story about that!”

What happened was simple. When Tornoth prepared to hook his horseless carriage up, the officer from the transfer yard flew in with a squadron of broom-riders. “Hey! Yutt!” she called. “I told you to leave your farm under quarantine until your cattle were cured or disposed of! Where’s your assigned officer?! Telnek, what’s going on here?!” The officer in charge of Yutt’s cattle train, Mr. Telnek the Sky Elf, didn’t say a word, giving the lead officer all the information she needed. “I don’t believe it! You accepted a bribe! Boys, do your thing!” Telnek then mounted his broom!

“We’ve got a flier!” called another officer. A few officers pursued and grounded Telnek, putting the cuffs on him.

“As for you, Yutt,” snarled the lead officer, “trying to foist potentially infected beef onto our Queen and her family and staff? You’re lucky I got here in time! Get that quarantine flag back up NOW!”

“Erm, okay,” gulped Tornoth, “since I’m in the way, I’ll just bugger off and…”

“You’re not doing anything of the sort!” snapped the officer as she pointed a finger at him. “I saw you approach that train with clear intent to deliver it!”

“That’s not my fault!” protested Tornoth. “There wasn’t a quarantine flag! You saw it yourself!”

“Well, that’s your bad luck! Whether you knew or not makes no difference! Since foot and mouth affects all bovids, even bipedal ones, I must consider you infected.”

“But I’m innocent! Honest, I’m completely innocent!”

“You’re in quarantine as of now!”

“Oh, for the love of…!”

“Ah, ah! No whining! You’re staying here until a doctor can determine your health! And don’t you even think about slipping away!” The officer turned to her squadron. “Keep an eye on him, boys! I’ll be back with a doctor!” She mounted her broom and took off. As she left, Tornoth turned on Yutt.

“Thanks a lot!” he snarled. “You’re a real villain, Yutt, you inbred mutt!”

“I needed me cattle taken!” protested Yutt.

“Yeah, well, thanks to you, I’ve probably got foot and mouth disease! Come here, you…!”

“No fighting!” called an officer.

After a few hours, a set of sky-tugs arrived, attached chains to strategic points on the Endeavor, and hauled her to the shipyards. When they arrived and set the Endeavor down into a repair berth, Endea met with the commander of the shipyards, the Mechanica extension of the tug Karalda, a Ms. Karald, to discuss what problems to expect. Endea was on a bed. “So, Ms. Endea,” mused Karald, “did you request a new engine from your Captain?”

“I did,” answered Endea, “but Tuurk and Talair blocked her at every attempt.”

“They ARE quite infamous for it. And these tickles in your hull, how often were they?”

“They only happened yesterday. I want them nipped in the bud.”

“Smart girl. Anything else we should know about?”

“Nope, just the problems I’ve already outlined.”

“Excellent. We’ll be ready to administer the purple water at your say-so.” Endea then pulled the sheets over her.

“All right, put me under!” Karald then pulled out her communicator and made a call.

“She’s all good to go!” she reported. After a few seconds, Endea gave a yawn and fell asleep, thanks to the purple water. Purple water is an anesthetic for only Mechanicas to use in repair work. Once this chemical is introduced into a Mechanica’s systems, they fall into a deep hibernative sleep, so they won’t feel the cutting or welding torches during the repair process. This was introduced purely by accident as someone was coming up with a painkiller for Mechanicas to take during repairs. The test subject of this trial, a road-type Mechanica, was almost pronounced dead until someone restarted their engine. Soon, this chemical agent was tested with all Mechanicas and was declared better than a mere painkiller.

Now, there was an unfortunate discovery of a Mechanica euthanizing chemical, but that shall be discussed later. For now, there were two ominous onlookers of the Endeavor’s overhaul, Tuurk and Talair. “Of all the irresponsible ways Realmfleet has gone,” muttered Talair, “this is certainly the most irresponsible, isn’t it, Mr. Tuurk?”

“Indeed, Mr. Talair,” agreed Tuurk. “I must say, Mechanicas are an impediment to progress. An awfully expensive one, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Tuurk?”

“I would say, Mr. Talair.” Tuurk was then struck by inspiration. “I believe the Galdredan Reliable Road Services can assist us, Mr. Talair!”

“How so, Mr. Tuurk?”

“Realmfleet has been taking unnecessary delivery jobs, Mr. Talair. Ships go from one part of a single kingdom to another.”

“You’re right, Mr. Tuurk! Realmfleet is cutting into a kingdom’s internal deliveries! On top of it being overbearing and a breach of public trust, it’s too expensive. I take it there’s someone in the Galdredan Reliable Road Services who shares our views, Mr. Tuurk?”

“A Mr. Tornoth Steelhorn, Mr. Talair. He feels as if Realmfleet is cutting into his paycheck.”

“Does he have a family?”

“A wife, his father-in-law, and two little calves, a boy and girl.”

“Then we are certainly obligated to assist in any way we can, aren’t we, Mr. Tuurk?”

“Indeed, we are, Mr. Talair.” The two moneymen then left the dock where the Endeavor was being overhauled as they both sang the Galdredan National Anthem.

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