The Retranga was entering the main Nebulan solar system. Llyra was in her quarters, reading a novel and munching on a Nebulan snack, when the door chimed. “Enter,” she called. Amy came in wearing her robes. “Magic practice?” guessed Llyra.
“Homesick,” corrected Amy. “Wearing my robes usually gets rid of any distress I feel. Of course, it depends on how much I have. Trema does the same with meditation.”
“It’s nice to have something to remind you of home,” agreed Llyra. “I usually read novels from Nebulos to stave off my homesickness.”
“You’ve been off-world before?” asked Amy.
“Every Nebulan has left our world once or twice in their lifetime,” replied Llyra. “I pity those that are in exile or have no home world anymore. They can never cure their homesickness.”
“Yeah, I guess we’re lucky in that regard,” mused Amy. “In any case, I wanted to know something about you.”
“Ask away,” urged Llyra.
“I heard Arcana mention something about patrols,” recalled Amy.
“That’s where I come in as a last resort,” answered Llyra. “If our holo-filter fails, I can get us out of any situation.”
“How?” asked Amy.
“Regretfully,” sighed Llyra, “I can’t tell you until the situation actually gets that far.”
“…All right,” muttered Amy as she shrugged. She then saw the title of the novel Llyra was reading. “Struggle of Eternity?” she asked. Llyra then looked at Amy in surprise.
“You can read Modern Nebulanese?” she quizzed.
“Ara U omparep tami galamar, rant torik le,” (How I learned your language, that novel is) replied Amy.
“E klafeer ro Trema, tam reem arak!” (A student of Trema, you truly are!) praised Llyra. “Only Trema would teach our language with the finest novel ever written as a reference!”
“I’ll…take your word for it,” mumbled Amy.
“I take it you DIDN’T enjoy it?” asked Llyra.
“Well,” floundered Amy, trying to be polite, “I thought it was…interesting, if a bit dull in parts.”
“By the Rings,” swore Llyra. “I can’t believe a student of Trema would consider Struggle of Eternity, Lokoro’s greatest work, to be dull.”
“I just thought the story got a little redundant after a while,” explained Amy. “Lokoro’s supposed to be talking about seven generations of a Nebulan family, but he tells the same story over and over and over again! All of his characters lead selfless lives of duty to the Nebulan state and honor to their family, grow old, then the strongest of those characters dies in glorious battle, then the next generation comes along and does it all over again!”
“But that’s exactly the point,” countered Llyra. “A repetitive epic is the best way to demonstrate Nebulan morals to the people, stemming of from our elders telling us the same stories over and over again to make sure we understand the morals thoroughly. Struggle of Eternity is the greatest achievement of the repetitive epic, taught in Nebulan schools across the planet.”
“But none of the characters ever come alive,” sighed Amy. “And, while I will agree with the morals about honor to your family, there’s more to life than just that and duty to the state.”
“An Autobot view if I ever heard one,” mused Llyra.
“I’ve held that view before I even met the Autobots,” sighed Amy.
“If I may change the subject,” interjected Llyra, “how did you meet them?”
“I kind of stumbled on one,” replied Amy. “I thought an Autobot’s holo-form was someone I have a major crush on and got a surprise when he vanished and the sports car turned into Optimus Prime.”
“Optimus Prime?” repeated Llyra. “I thought it was Sentinel that was Prime.”
“Sentinel stepped down,” explained Amy, “and the Matrix chose Orion Pax as its new bearer, Optimus Prime.”
“Pax?” quizzed Llyra. “I knew that family, Arcanus and Soleanna Pax, and their children Dion and Megatronus.”
“Well, from what Dion, Ultra Magnus now, told me,” elaborated Amy, “they had a third child after the Great War.”
“Dion’s a Magnus now?” chuckled Llyra. “What about Megatronus? Is he teaching mathematics now?”
“Actually,” replied Amy as she winced, “Megatronus switched sides and leads the Decepticons as their new Supreme Commander under the name Megatron.”
“What?!” Llyra gasped in disbelief.
“It threw us for a loop,” answered Amy. “His stutter was just an act when we knew him.”
“Oh, poor Pax children,” moaned Llyra. “Their brother is on the wrong side.”
“Worse than that,” sighed Amy. “It would help explain why we ran into the D.J.D a week ago. The war between the Autobots and Decepticons is back on.”
“It’s back?!” yelped Llyra. “That must be why there’s a dissident movement on Nebulos.” Amy thought about asking her about the dissident movement now but buried it quickly.
“And Optimus is going through all this at 153,” she continued.
“153?!” yelped Llyra. “That’s adolescence on Cybertron!” The door chimed again. “Enter,” called Llyra. Trema came in. “You never told me the new Prime is in a war at only 153!” cried Llyra.
“We’ll discuss that later,” replied Trema. “Right now, we have more immediate concerns. A patrol ship is coming towards us.”
“Duty calls,” mused Amy. Llyra got up and all three made their way to the bridge.
“Any sign of them figuring us out?” Trema asked Duros.
“No, My Lady,” replied Duros. “The holo-cloak is working perfectly. Nobody here but us Femaxians.”
“How about the holo-filter?” asked Trema.
“Still works perfectly,” answered Duros. “I could make you look like a hedgerhino, if you like.”
“Femaxian Captain Sharveen will do nicely,” remarked Trema with a grin at the joke.
“They’re getting closer,” gulped Gort.
“Easy, Young Gort,” assured Duros. “As far as their scanners are concerned, we’re a Femaxian Merchant Vessel.” His console beeped. “We’re being hailed.”
“Open a channel and engage the holo-filter,” ordered Trema.
“What if the Captain of that ship is male?” asked Arcana. “You’d have to be blatantly sexist towards him.”
“No, even Femaxians wouldn’t dare be sexist towards a Nebulan male,” replied Trema. “Stylor could tell you stories about his dealings with Femaxians.”
“Some other time,” smiled Stylor.
“Channel open and holo-filter engaged,” reported Duros as a heavyset Nebulan male filled the screen.
“This is Traboon Monzo, Captain of the Boroba and Headmaster to Weirdwolf,” the man introduced himself. “Identify yourselves.” He could only see a Femaxian crew, thank goodness for holo-filters
“When did HE get promoted to Traboon?” thought Llyra.
“This is the Femaxian Merchant Vessel, Gold Medal,” answered Trema. “I’m Captain Sharveen. How may I help a strapping man like you?”
“What is your destination?” asked Monzo.
“Why, Nebulos, your lush home world,” replied Trema. “We’re carrying a shipment of Rezardium needed for the military.”
“Standby while we board your vessel,” demanded Monzo. Worry struck the hearts of the Retranga crew.
“Traboon Monzo,” urged Trema, “the Rezardium is urgently needed. I would hate for a fine man like you to risk your career explaining why it was delayed.”
“The Rezardium can wait!” snapped Monzo. “Dissident activity has been on the rise in our system! By the order of Lord Zarak himself, all incoming vessels are to be stopped and searched!”
“If they get too close,” whispered Natalie, “we’re finished!”
“Standby,” called Trema. The call ended and Trema turned to Llyra.
“I believe it would be best to drop the holo-filter,” she suggested. Everyone’s eyes went wide. “Trust me,” assured Llyra. “I’ve gotten paperwork signed to allow us passage with no further interruptions from patrols.” Trema thought for a few seconds before deciding.
“Do as she says,” she told Duros. “Gort, be prepared to get out of here fast if this doesn’t work.”
“Aye, My Lady,” replied Gort. Duros called Monzo back. Monzo’s face was one of surprise as he saw who the “Femaxians” were.
“Tam rog lamatray, bara tho?” (You get promoted, when did?) asked Llyra.
“Keb Femaxiana, tam ram!” (Not Femaxians, you are!) snarled Monzo.
“Rokesnarm, tam ram,” (Observant, you are.) scoffed Llyra. “Tami recoa maroma, tam reli mora!” (Your ships around, you will turn!)
“Zaraka prilanma, tam tho ba…!” (Zarak’s daughter, you may be…!) roared Monzo.
“Og Regon locen celomer, rant le!” (An Omega level mission, this is!) interrupted Llyra. “Raji-Raji-Forea-Talo-Coret-Fet, nar celomer gorb le! Ti nar gorek ga un talort, tami recoa maroma, tam reli mora, hal fora ga rant gorshaben, tam reli farshi, ga rant al yi far, feg tam reli reank! Tam morrofarek, te?” (Five-Five-Seven-Nine-Eight-Six, the mission code is! On the order of my father, your ships around, you will turn, all logs of this encounter, you will erase, of this to no one, and you will speak! You understand, do?) Monzo entered the mission code into his console.
“Faretiam, nar celomer gorb le,” (Verified, the mission code is.) droned the computer.
“Barametema, U mek,” (Forgiveness, I beg.) gulped Monzo. “Moratemo ga tami celomer, U lan,” (Ignorant of your mission, I was.)
“Al rocear tami filaca morp solirmatori, tam ramate,” (To perform your duties with distinction, you wanted.) assured Llyra. “Boru, rant bori le,” (Over, this call is.) The call ended and the patrol ship veered off.
“They just told the other patrol ships,” reported Duros, “to let us pass uninterrupted.” Llyra released a breath.
“That went better than I expected,” she sighed.
“Good to hear,” replied Trema. “There IS something that confuses me. …TRABOON MONZO?!”
“Don’t look at me!” protested Llyra. “He was still a Rookeel when I last saw him!”
“Why would Zarak promote an idiot like Monzo to Traboon?!” yelped Arcana.
“We’ll find out when we land,” replied Trema as Nebulos came into view. A green planet with tiny patches of blue, surrounded by rings, and two green moons orbiting the planet outside the rings, it looked beautiful. “It’s been too long since I saw it,” said Trema. “Gort, begin landing procedures.”
“Aye, My Lady,” confirmed Gort. The Retranga lowered effortlessly through the atmosphere, through the silver clouds and gliding over the trees, right to Trema and Stylor’s estate in the Folassian Forest.