“Lieutenant Major, our second message torpedo reaches base tomorrow. Since that was the one that spoke of our finding aliens, instead of just a possibility, I expect that the base will mount an expedition just as fast as they can put one together. Since coming here will take longer for the expedition than a message torpedo, we can expect visitors from base in about six weeks at the minimum. That is, if the expedition starts the day after tomorrow. I give it a week to get the expedition together, so make it seven weeks – thirty-five days. In that thirty-five days I want this ship explored and brought under our control. The justification for that is that these are not aliens and the standard regulation concerning Lost Colonies applies. So, how do we go about getting these people under control?”
“Well Captain, I doubt that they have any serious weapons and what weapons they have that would be still be working, probably, would be mechanical ones, or maybe, if the power plant provides enough power, they might have some energy weapons. Stunners would be my guess, since anything lethal would damage the ship too much. Therefore, unless we want to keep this ship as a museum, our weapons will have longer range and will eliminate opponents so we do not have to post guards over them. Either way, I start at the engine rooms. What power this ship has will come from there and once we control that, we can use the power or lack of it to control the situation. Once we have the engine rooms, we move forward. We move in stages – first stage is to grab a section of the ship and the second is to make that section secure. Repeat as necessary until we reach the fore part of the ship and control it all. If someone surrenders, we ship them to the MACALPIN where they can cause no harm.”
“The MACALPIN cannot hold more than a few hundred extras. Are you planning on killing over ninety percent of these people Lieutenant Major?”
“Hmmm, you’re right Captain. They aren’t rebels, they are a Lost Colony, just a unique one. Therefore, we capture all of them and keep them in some area we control. It will take more guards but I think we can handle it. Do you remember seeing any large open areas like gyms or playing fields on those deck plans sir?”
Elder searched his memory. Yes, there were several large open areas on the decks with the colonist’s cabins. Open areas that probably were used to replenish oxygen by using plants. Open spaces like that could be used to replenish oxygen, provide recreational areas, and probably provide some relief from drab corridors and decks. However, there should have been more. Elder guessed that there was only about a third of the space needed to replenish the oxygen levels of the ship unless the plants were especially efficient or there were spaces elsewhere that were not clearly marked as such.
Elder Continued, “I would not use any of them, too much chance someone would escape or find something to start a fight with I think. We could empty out some storerooms or warehouses, I saw hundreds of those, and use them. Those would be easier to control and once empty, there would be noting to use as a weapon. How does that sound Lieutenant Major?”
“Good idea sir. These are potential Imperial subjects after all. I should start with the engine rooms tomorrow or whenever they agree for us to enter there, and I will bring Chief Sergeant Fortunato along with us. He sees something in those spaces that I don’t and in spite of the dangers, I want him along with us.”
“Changed your position there Lieutenant Major?”
“Not really sir. I have just been thinking about it sine the soviets were so adamant about not letting us into the engine area. They are hiding something and whatever it is, Chief Sergeant Fortunato is the one to spot it.”
“Good point Lieutenant Major. Get your people set up and let’s get going as soon as we can.”
It was three days until the soviets agreed to let the Imperials visit the engine rooms. What forced their hand was Elder’s only slightly subtle threat to withdraw and treat with the Captain’s people; plus, Vladimir Josef saw just how effective the Imperial Marines were in combat during a skirmish at the border between the soviets and the colonists and probably did not want ot face them. Even then, Vladimir Josef showed off his bad manners when he gave the permission required. Being an absolute dictator and above any law that existed seemed to have eliminated any manners on his part.
The Imperial Marines engaged the colonists on several occasions, the colonists always tried to set up ambushes but the Marines had the latest in sensors, the colonists had no chance to spring an ambush without some sort of jamming equipment, which they did not have. Elder would not have been surprised if the colonists did have some sort of jamming equipment given the existence of the multi-generation ship several dozen parsecs outside of Imperial space, a distance that Elder could think of no explanation for, multi-generation ships just did not have the speed to travel this far from Earth unless they had left Earth long before the first primitive rockets were used to fly into space. Moreover, this ship did not look anything like an artifact from the era prior to WW I would look like. Elder knew that the technologically advanced cultures of that era were heavy into decorated surfaces. Every surface he had seen so far were plain and functional; there was not even the padding normally found covering the decks, bulkheads, and ceilings of Navy ships. Elder wondered about the lack of padding, if the ship was in a combat and was hit by a projectile of some sort, the shaking could throw people against a surface and injure them unless the artificial gravity and inertial dampeners were unusually effective, which the ones from that era weren’t when compared to modern ones. Then he realized that this was not a combat ship and the builders, probably on Earth before or during the First Expansion, were saving money by not installing something not needed.
Two days later, “Captain, this is Lieutenant Major Major. One of my teams found something that you might find interesting, especially given your interest in pre-Imperial history. The team is two decks down from our headquarters and at the very aft of the living quarters, centered on the diameter. I will meet you there.”
“Acknowledged Lieutenant Major. I should be there in about fifteen minutes.” Elder wished for a scooter but this ship had none. The MACALPIN was a Scout Cruiser, the largest type of ship in the Imperial Navy without scooters for travelling large distances in a hurry but this colony ship was huge, larger than a Class H Battleship, but smaller, though not by much, than a Class G Dreadnought. Elder had revised his first impression that it was larger than an ADMIRAL Class, Class W Fortress downward due to a more accurate assessment of the size of the VOLGA while aboard. He, along with everyone else over here from the MACALPIN were definitely getting his or her required physical exercise.
A Elder approached the location designated by the Marine Battalion Commander, he saw a well-lit area, brighter than anywhere else he had seen on this ship. Getting close enough to see some detail of the scene, he saw the statue and wondered what it was of. There was a muscular man, at least it seemed to be a human male, beating a strange weapon with a hammer. The weapon was a strange sword, normal looking until about the last third of the blade where it widened out into an unimaginably wide section that looked completely unbalanced.
Anyone trying to swing that sword would have extreme problems. Elder knew something of swordplay, he had taken up the hobby while an instructor at the Academy. However, there was something familiar about the sword. Elder knew that there had been many shapes of swords over the millennia but straight or slightly curved were the most popular; no sane person would design a sword like this, the cutting edge seemed to be at the front of the widest part of the blade but on both edges further up the blade. At least, no sane human would do so. Could an alien wield this sword?
As he got closer, Elder noticed the pedestal with the glass case atop it. Inside was an open book. It was open in the conventional style, roughly in the center, if not in the exact center. Getting to the case, Elder saw it was a huge book, the sort that librarians classified as a tome. He recognized the lettering as Cyrillic, which made sense; but he had never learned to read it, even after his experiences with terrorists in duchies where the population used it in some form. Elder had always thought that knowing the four most widespread languages in the Empire, besides Imperial of course, was enough. If he had gone for five, Russian was widespread enough for him to learn it. He just hadn’t gone that far into learning languages.
As Elder paused before the book, one of the Marines spoke up. “Captain, it is The Communist Manifesto but I have never seen a copy with such large lettering.” Elder glanced at the speaker, Senior Corporal Kruchev, and raised the right end of his eyebrow in question. “Captain, my home Duchy uses Russian and Cyrillic as the Ducal language. About ninety percent of us are of Russian descent.
Elder wondered, given the strange sword, although it tickled a memory somewhere in his mind, could some aliens have discovered this book and adapted its philosophy not realizing that it represented a dead end in human society? This book, especially if there was a library of books in Russian, might explain why aliens spoke Russian. But why the Federation English?
The Marine Battalion Commander arrived just then, along with Vladimir Josef and a Marine translator, Warrant Officer Quartermain. The Chairman started into one of his tirades, and kept it up for close to five minutes before pausing for longer than he needed to take a breath.
“Captain, the Chairman demands that we leave this area immediately. This area is, well sacred space would give the wrong idea but it is as close as I can translate his name for it. I know communists are atheists and given how long his people have been separated from the rest of humanity, I can understand his using the term without realizing what it means to the rest of us.”
Elder rubbed his nose as he considered the idea. Rubbing his nose was a habit of long standing even though he had never rubbed any of his oversized nose away. Could aliens have learned Russian without enough of the human context to know just enough what the term meant without realizing the full extent of the meaning?
Atheism had been a growing philosophy until about one hundred years before the Federation formed when the Great Mysticism happened due to a series of events that science and atheists could not explain. Almost one hundred percent of the population became religious, which continued to this day. If these people left Earth when suspected they would have left during the First Expansion, which was during the Great Mysticism and its immediate aftermath. These people should have some remnants of religious belief but there was no sign of it; unless, the veneration of this book was that remnant. However, would aliens have a religion the humans would recognize as such? Would anyone be able to discuss religion with aliens and have the terms that a human used mean anything to an alien? In addition, of course, the reverse was true; could an alien explain their religion to a human in terms a human could understand.
They could have left before the Great Mysticism but the technology to build such a ship did not exist until just before the First Expansion. Moreover, with the exception of just a few generation ships that were lost without a trace, the Federation accounted for all of the generation ships. At least according to what modern historians knew of Federation history. The War of Unification destroyed most of the Federation records and what present day people knew now they knew from secondary sources. Much like Thermopylae and the rise of Cesar Augustus.
Enough musing and Elder hoped that Vladimir Josef had thought that he had been giving serious thought to Vladimir Josef’s complaint instead of having his thoughts ramble. It was time to start showing Vladimir Josef who was really in charge here and this was as good place to start taking him apart. “Your objection is noted. However, you and your people are going to be integrated into our society, which means that I am in charge from this point on. Any further resistance on your part, or on the part of your people, will result in severe punishment.”
Standing behind the Chairman of the Workers and Colonists Soviet, the Battalion Commander smiled slightly and pulled his stunner out as Warrant Officer Quartermain translated. The Lieutenant Major held his stunner casually, pointed at the middle of the Chairman’s back. Elder could see the shock on Vladimir Josef’s face and prepared to duck. The Lieutenant Major’s stunner would get him as well.
Warrant Officer Quartermain listened as the Chairman sputtered something and, without turning away from him, said to Elder, “Sir, he demands to know on what authority you claim authority over him and his people.”
“Superior firepower if nothing else. However, the Emperor claims authority over all humans regardless of where they are in space. As the Commanding Officer of the Imperial Navy Ship KENNETH MACALPIN, K00092C-0065, a K-Class Scout Cruiser, I have jurisdiction here until relieved by a superior officer. Lieutenant Major, the Chairman is now a prisoner. Escort him to confinement.”
Once Elder’s comment was translated, Vladimir Josef turned and saw the Lieutenant Major’s stunner now pointed between his eyes, not more than a few centimeters from his nose. Elder moved aside, as did Warrant Officer Quartermain, and the Lieutenant Major fired before Vladimir Josef could react due to his surprise. Once the Chairman fell to the deck, Lieutenant Major Major put away his stunner and motioned for Warrant Officer Quartermain to pick the Chairman up and carry him.
As the small group left the area of the statue and the book, Elder put his ship and all the crew with him on alert. He heard the Marine Commander do the same for his troops. It was now a three-way war but one Elder expected to win with the superior tactics and weaponry. That is, unless these were real aliens with superior weaponry hidden away somewhere. Elder could not completely eliminate that possibility and that bothered him.