Generation upon Generation, Chapter 11

Two weeks passed, ten days of hard work for almost no progress. The Soviet colonists were easy; they talked all day long if you let them. However, that verbosity gave forth no new information to add to what the Imperials already knew. Master Herald Killea and his people started classes for them on how to be good Imperial subjects. The descendants of the Federation colonists were stubborn. Any information gleaned was by accident.

Captain Major Major sat roughly in one of the chairs in the Day Cabin. “Captain, my interrogators are frustrated. What little information we have gotten is by accident you might say. Reading body language rather than getting an answer, let alone a straight answer, from the Federation types is how we have been able to advance. One thing that we have learned is that they do not like us identifying them with the Federation. Quite a few of them have let slip their disgust with the idea. You know more about pre-Imperial history than I do, but wasn’t the Federation something of a despotism?”

“Something of a despotism? Captain Major, the Federation was the worst tyranny known to history. Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin were babes compared to the Federation. They had every phone or computer bugged with the information going to the Bureau of Education and an estimated 15% of the population were informers. No one can be sure of that number sine so much was destroyed in the Colonial Revolt and War of Unification. Antonino Calegari grew up in that environment and his psychological studies had a heavy dose of how to suppress the population. The Empire he founded was in large part the same. The expansion of the population and the resulting difficulty in communication has eased the burden as much as it has. Emperor Caroline cannot control any duchy not within a couple of Jumps except in the loosest way. The local aristocracy governs and they are closer to the population. Even then, there are kingdoms and duchies – and you know the ones I mean – that oppress their people and get away with it solely because they are loyal to the Emperor. I is the very size, and the resulting difficulty in communications that result, that allows the kingdoms and duchies to be as free as they are.”

“Captain, the Navy and the Marines could impose the same sort of despotism that the Federation had if we were ordered to.”

“True Captain Major, and the ISA being composed of fanatics, tries to impose despotic control where they can. Nevertheless, the local aristocracy would have enough power to keep the Navy and Marines, and the ISA, from taking power from them. The balance of power, between the ISA, the military and the aristocracy keeps any one from imposing such a despotism. Only the Emperor, being at the top of the three, could do that. There are too many kingdoms and duchies in the Empire for the Emperor to control directly, the aristocracy has to control the locals and the military and the ISA are the checks she needs to keep the aristocracy in line.”

The next day. “Sous-Lieutenant Heller to the Captain.”

Elder knew the Sous-Lieutenant, he knew all four officers and fifteen enlisted in the History Office. He also knew that Sous-Lieutenant Heller was the Section poker tournament champion. “Go ahead Sous-Lieutenant.”

“Sir, and I apologize for not thinking of it earlier, but we have discovered the colony the Federation colonists came from. That colony name was Liberty. A large group from North America settled it. The colony was discovered as destroyed during the War of Unification.”

That made sense to Elder. Moreover, a colony with that name would not be welcome in the Federation. In addition, if they considered the Empire to be the same as the Federation, that would explain their resistance to rescue.

“Good work Sous-Lieutenant. Forward whatever information you have on the colony to the Captain Major and the Master Herald. They can make sure it gets to whom it needs to get to. With this information, we should be able to break the code of silence the Federation colonists have. Send me a copy also. Elder out.”

Elder received the information within five minutes. Looking at the size of the file, he considered the small size of it. Yes, the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification destroyed much of the data from that time but this was odd. Most Federation colonies had much larger files on their pre-Imperial existence even after the chaos that surrounded the establishment of the Empire. A quick computer search showed that the file was about one-third the size of the average pre-Imperial file on the Federation colonies. It was slightly less than half the size of the next smallest file.

Elder read the file, three times, and he still did not understand what he read. What was the Liberty Party and why did it go underground decades before the establishment of the Federation? The government of the country variously known as America or the United States was a democracy, and worked hard to ensure that the Federal Government suppressed hate speech and other forms of unmoral behavior. He would have to revisit that era and concentrate on the North American region in order to understand this.

“Captain Major to Captain Elder.” This interrupted Elder’s musing.

“Elder here. What’s wrong Captain Major?”

“I wish to apologize for the lateness of this but one of my scouts just discovered a hidden compartment in the Federation part of the ship. During previous sweeps, no one had mapped the area and compared it to the deck plans we had. Now that we have started mapping the ship more carefully, we have discovered a compartment hidden near the library.”

“Have you been inside Captain Major?”

“Yes sir, in the company of some of the Master Herald’s people. The compartment is an auxiliary library. The Master Herald’s people are investigating what it contains but there is a computer system not interfaced with the main computer system as well as dozens of physical books and other papers. I had wondered about the Ship’s Log, if you will remember sir, I mentioned that it seemed incomplete shortly after we took control.”

“Vaguely Captain Major. There was a lot of new information back then and it probably got lost in the overload. Is there a more complete Ship’s Log in this compartment?”

“Aye sir. The Master Herald sent word to the HINDO and Captain Quinn and some of the HINDO are on their way to examine it as well.”

An interruption came from the Bridge. “Captain, the HINDO has a message for you. It is marked CLASSIFIED and  URGENT. Please come to the Bridge to receive it.”

“On my way. Well Captain Major, this must be Captain Quinn informing me of what you just told me. Elder out.”

It did not take long to get to the Bridge and his Command Chair. Once he activated the security measures, he clicked on the urgent message. “Lieutenant Commander Elder, this is Captain Quinn. I and several of my staff will travel to the LIBERTY and examine the recent discovery of the library annex. I presume that the Captain Major has informed you of the discovery but he may not have the knowledge that the Master Herald has informed me of its existence. Therefore, I wish to inform you of my information in order to maintain proper protocol. Captain Quinn out.”

Trust Quinn to keep proper protocol, he always had. Of course, as he rose in rank, this habit increased, as it should have. He was grooming himself to become Grand Admiral, as his family expected great things from him and so far, he had achieved them from what Elder knew of Quinn’s career.

Releasing the security measures, Elder called to Lieutenant Moyar. “Lieutenant Moyar, I am heading to the VOLGA to examine this new discovery. Contact Sous-Lieutenant Heller and have him, or whomever he designates, go over and help examine this new data. You have the Bridge.”

“Aye Captain, I have the Bridge.”

It was easier to get to the VOLGA now; instead of flying over, a transfer tube connected the VOLGA and the MACALPIN. Another such tube connected the VOLGA with HINDO on the other side.

In less than fifteen minutes, Elder was at the hidden compartment, escorted there by a Marine Junior Warrant Officer. Elder made the trip in silence.

The corridor outside the Library Annex was crowded with Imperial people, mostly from the Master Herald’s staff. Elder pushed his way through. A Marine Corporal in a Combat Suit stood guard at the door, keeping unauthorized civilians out.

Elder was quickly let in, to the protests of several of the members of the Master Herald’s staff. Inside the compartment were the Captain Major, Captain Quinn the Master Herald and an enlisted crew member that Elder did not know, so he presumed the crew member was from the HINDO and probably with Captain Quinn’s staff.

Quinn turned his head to look at Elder, waved his right arm to encompass the entire compartment and said, “Lieutenant Commander Elder, I have formed the opinion that amongst these archives is the answer to most, if not the entirety of the remaining questions concerning this ship and its occupants.”

“You might be right Captain Quinn. How about you Master Herald, do you think this is the end of our search for answers?”

In his nobody voice, “Perhaps, but I doubt that this archive will answer all our questions. Some riddles may never be solved. That is the nature of historical research. But, this will answer a great many of our questions, certainly.”

“Well Master Herald, how long do you expect it to take for your first reading of this material?”

“Perhaps a day or two, I doubt much longer. Unless, of course, there is more here than first reported.”

Sous-Lieutenant Heller showed up just then. The compartment was not crowded; it was surprisingly large and uncluttered. “How the hell did we miss this until now?” Obviously the question was rhetorical, at least Elder thought it was obvious.

The five Imperials gave a quick scan of the material in the compartment. Elder reminded Sous-Lieutenant Heller several times to move on past whatever he was studying because this was a quick scan, not a thorough examination. After an hour, which Elder enjoyed, they found nothing definitive regarding what had happened over the decades since the VOLGA had left the Earth. They did learn a bit more about the colony Liberty which explained some of the attitudes of the present descendants of those colonists but the mysterious book and the agreement about the fighting, for example, were still mysteries.

Elder finally quit, and assigned his History Department to the task of researching the data in this hidden compartment.

As he left, “Captain Major, how did your people find this compartment?”

The Captain Major fell in with Elder, “Well sir, it was simply that I wanted a more accurate deck plan. There are several areas where the deck plans the Soviets gave us were inaccurate and I wanted accurate ones. Therefore, I assigned my scouts, who were not in use as scouts at the time, to mapping the decks. The sensor sweep found this unmarked area and it didn’t take long for my scouts to discover how to enter.” The Captain Major smiled one of his rare smiles. “So, you might say I got lucky but I was frustrated by the improper maps and followed procedure for when we are entering an unknown urban area.”

“Well Captain Major, good training paid off.”

“Aye sir, it did.”

Back on the MACALPIN, “Captain, Master Herald Killea wishes to speak with you. He is using an open frequency.”

“I’ll take it in the Day Cabin. Thank you Senior Sergeant.”

Once in the Day Cabin, “Lieutenant Commander Elder here. What do you need Master Herald?”

“Lieutenant Commander, the hidden compartment is revealing a lot of information, not all of it processed yet. I believe you should know that the colony Liberty was reported as destroyed during the War of Unification, but there is a report, dated after that report, stating that the colony is merely missing, not destroyed. Depending upon which report you believe, either the colony destroyed the faculties on the planet in order to make it look destroyed or the fact that the colony went missing was covered up.”

“Fascinating Master Herald. How much time between the two reports?”

“About what would be an Imperial month now Lieutenant Commander. About three Gregorian months by the calendar of the time.”

“So Master Herald, again we have conflicting data. Was this data from the Imperial archives or from what you found in the concealed compartment?”

“Imperial archives Lieutenant Commander. We are searching specifically for confirmation, one way or another, in the data here. Given what little we know of the colonists of the colony Liberty, I am presuming for the moment that they destroyed the colony in order to make it appear that they were killed in battle.”

“But Master Herald, what about bodies? If the fighting had destroyed the colony in battle, wouldn’t there be bodies? What do the reports say about that?”

There was a silence lasting for over a minute before, “Lieutenant Commander, I don’t know. I never thought of that. I do not remember anything in the reports, and I just finished reading them. I will have one of my people research that.”

“And I will have one of my people doing the same Master Herald. Two people working on it should cut the time needed to get an answer in half, or better.”

“That is a good point Lieutenant Commander. If you have someone qualified in this era, the assistance would be welcome. Since the Imperial archives are on the MACALPIN, I will have someone come over to do the research. Expect someone within the hour. Master Herald Killea out.”

Elder stared at the bulkhead while fuming. Was the Master Herald implying that the Imperial Navy training was inferior? Or worse yet, incompetent? He had the thought of assigning Private First Class Wharton, the lowest ranking enlisted in the History Department and a recent graduate of the history technical school, to the task. However, he decided against it. The idea of doing so, however, did get him smiling.

“Communications, get me Sous-Lieutenant Heller.”

“Sir, the Sous-Lieutenant is on his way to meet you. We just got his message.”

“All the better. I am in my Day Cabin. Elder out.”

It was fifteen minutes later that Sous-Lieutenant Heller reported to Elder. Acknowledging the salute, which in the Day Cabin was not required but the Sous-Lieutenant was reporting which made the salute required, and then motioning for the historian to sit down, Elder asked, “The Master Herald has someone going through all the reports on the destruction of the colony Liberty. Who do you have on that Sous-Lieutenant?”

“I had assigned Officer Yorick to the task but the Master Herald objected. It seems the Master Herald believes that Imperial Navy training is not rigorous enough and that an Officer lacks experience.”

“I know Officer Yorick, Sous-Lieutenant, he was one of my students at the Academy some years back. Why hasn’t he been promoted to Ensign? He is due, or past due, isn’t he?”

“Well sir, he is a good historian but he has trouble with naval discipline. Was he a problem at the Academy sir?”

“Not that I recall, or if he was, it was very minor Sous-Lieutenant. What sort of problems are you talking about?”

“Sir historians are well known for being opinionated and quarrelsome. Officer Yorick takes that to an extreme. Half of the enlisted in my Department have asked that I not assign them to work with him. I had to discipline him once because of a fistfight he had with another officer. Officer Yorick would do better someplace where he could do his research without interacting with other people.”

“Has he any published research Sous-Lieutenant?”

“As of the start of this voyage sir, no paper he has presented had been accepted anywhere. His latest research, before the start of this voyage, was on why Antoninio Calegari succeeded during the Colonial Revolt, presenting the unusual theory that the soon-to-be Emperor was an early telepath who had not become discovered and that is why he was able to get the rebels to convert to his side so easily. His paper was well written and he makes an interesting case. It is just that, I believe, he cannot support it with enough facts. And it seems the scientific journals agree with me.”

“Well Sous-Lieutenant, there are reports of telepathy going back centuries and not all were ever disproved.”

“Sir, Antoninio Calegari was a psychologist as well as a Federation Navy Admiral. The use of psychology can easily explain his success. There is no evidence in any scientific studies that telepathy can force a change in people’s minds.”

“However Sous-Lieutenant, his historical knowledge is debatable. Look at the aristocratic titles as an example. A jumble from several cultures with no relationship between the power of the Imperial title and the power of the title in its national form. And so many ranks in the Imperial Navy and Marines. He cannot be blames for the tax system, that grew over the years but he can be blames for the large number of money denominations. His skills were purely military, in spite of his advanced degree in psychology. His historical knowledge was pathetic at best and because he was the First Emperor, we remain stuck with his errors. If he had been a telepath, I suspect he used what he gained from that in order to help his psychological work in converting people to his cause. I knew a telepath shortly after I graduated from the Academy and I still remember that, at least according to him, it takes time to be able to read someone’s mind. Maybe Emperor Antoninio had that time and maybe not. A lot of what he did between the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification was never recorded.”

“Sir, you sound like a republican.”

“No Sous-Lieutenant, I believe in the Empire. Interstellar war has to be avoided and independent planets, or even multisystem nations, will lead to war.”

Sous-Lieutenant Heller looked unconvinced.

“However, back to the matter at hand Sous-Lieutenant. Not knowing who the Master Herald is assigning to this task, is Officer Yorick likely to get so involved that he forgets to be combative?”

“Sir, he might get so interested in the colony Liberty that he forgets to be abrasive. The destruction of the colony is in the period that is his specialty. However, that might backfire as well. He might take his own knowledge and research and use it to advance an idea that is not supported by what we know of the colony Liberty and his abrasive personality might lead him to violence.”

“Your call Sous-Lieutenant. If not him, then who?”

“Actually sir, the more I think about it, the more I like Officer Yorick. The Master Herald has been condescending towards us and Officer Yorick just might teach the Master Herald to not be so obvious in his prejudices.”

“Heralds are not historians as a general rule, they’re diplomats. So what basis does the Master Herald think he has for being condescending towards us Sous-Lieutenant?”

“Well sir, they are kind of historians since they handle genealogy and that involves historical research. However, the Master Herald just looks down on the Imperial Navy as a rule. Moreover, that prejudice has become the norm for his people as well. Especially the younger ones.”

“Sous-Lieutenant, if Officer Yorick starts something that makes me have to intervene, I will cashier him when we return to base. It will not be as easy as if he was still on probation but his lack of promotion to Ensign and your recommendation, and documents showing his abrasiveness, will do the job. Impress on him that if he wants to make the Navy a career, he has to act better. Unofficially, he can step on the toes of the Master Herald’s people all he wants as long as I do not get involved. Understood?”

“Aye sir. I’ll brief him right away and get this going.” Sous-Lieutenant Heller stood, saluted and left.

Elder sat and pondered. The Federation had been a huge tyranny, and the Empire started off as a tyranny also, but it was getting better over time. The aristocracy on Krasgia while he had been growing up had been mild and cared for the population. The King of Sharnalt had even stood up against the Emperor once or twice according to legend. Elder could understand why the descendants of the Liberty colonists leaped at a chance to flee the Federation. However, why go with a bunch of communists, after all, communists were just the same sort of tyrants. What was missing? There was something that was not visible to him, something that should make the pattern clear,

Generation Upon Generation, Chapter 10

“Captain Quinn, you wish to speak with me?”

“That is affirmative. there is much to discuss between us, starting with my earlier conduct during the voyage to your ship Lieutenant Commander Elder.”

“Most of the time I get called Captain, Captain. However, with you and Captain Mozart aboard, that could cause confusion. Come to my day cabin and we can talk in private.”

Once in Elder’s Day Cabin, with the flat picture of Constance prominently in place, Elder motioned to the dispenser and said, “Grab what you want. This is a wardroom, so we can be ourselves and not go the formal route, although as I remember, you have always gone formal even when not required.”

Standing at the dispenser, :That is affirmative. My upbringing and the directions I chose upon entering the Navy has engrained such with me so that becoming relaxed to the point of ease in the presence of others is challenging. Even with my wife and children.”

“Ah yes. I am sorry I missed your wedding, my assignment to the BALKANS prevented it. Maybe you heard about it.”

Taking a glass of red wine and a bowl of ice cream to a seat, Quinn actually chuckled. “Yes, the rebellion of a senior Captain and the destruction of a Class-G Dreadnought did become extensively known. As was your participation in the incident. There is a new class of Dreadnoughts in the prototype stages and these may be named after mountain ranges, so the BALKANS may fly again.” Quinn did not mention that the two of them had discussed the incident while instructors at the Academy, he knew Elder was proud of what he had done during the incident.

Getting his salami and mayonnaise on marbled rye sandwich and a beer, Elder snorted. “I doubt that, too much confusion over what name belongs to what class. My understanding is that the Navy will name the new Dreadnoughts with a different class name, what it will be I can’t guess and wait for a while until they start naming anything after mountain ranges again.”

Nodding his head in that cocked manner of his, that triggered a memory of their times together in the JACOTOT and the Academy, Quinn eased back into the chair and said, :You may have deduced this correctly, neither of us is elevated enough in the chain of command so that such knowledge would be available to us on a routine basis.”

“Oh come on Quinn. You have an intelligence network just like every other senior officer. So many of your family is in the Navy that you have a built-in network. But, I am willing to bet that you have an extensive network outside your family since family is too obvious.”

“And why would I have such a network?”

“During my probationary period, after one of the terrorist incidents that resulted in a formal hearing, my lawyer said that all officers create such a network because this gives them more information for the inevitable political warfare amongst ambitious officers. I have an extensive network among the various bases and ships where I served as well as bases and ships where my contacts were reassigned to. I just do not have the siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and so forth that you have. Isn’t the present Grand Admiral a relative of yours?”

“By marriage, he is the brother-in-law of my mother’s aunt.”

“See? If you asked him nicely, you could get some nice data on such things like what a new class of Dreadnought would be named.”

:It was from him that I ascertained that the new class is in the prototype stage. It would be the G000143 series.”

“And why would the G000143 series be more likely to get built that he previous designs that were to replace the G000134 series?”

“This project has actually reached the prototype construction stage. Or rather, prototype construction has commenced but is still in the earliest phases. It commenced late last year.”

“Well, since we have yet to meet aliens and the fighting we do amongst ourselves rarely reaches the level of Dreadnought-to-Dreadnought combat, what improvements the new class has are theoretical rather than practical.”

“Dreadnoughts have devastated rebellious duchies in the past and you have experience with Dreadnought-to-Dreadnought fighting. There is little experience to provide guidance but there is enough to justify the new class.”

Nodding to himself, and saying, almost to himself, “The BALKANS, my first ship out of the Academy. Destroyed by her two sister-ships in the Section. If there had not been a telepath aboard, I doubt any of us would have been rescued. The Empire needs telepaths or some form of long-range faster-than-light communications or else sheer size is going to destroy it.”

“It is unfortunate that telepaths are still extremely scarce in the Empire. Presently the FTL communication are too shot-ranged. Useful for in-system communications but impractical otherwise.”

“Yeah, but the downside of interstellar communications is bureaucracy. I still remember what Sous-Lieutenant Palmer, the first telepath I ever knew, said. Increased communications increases control. As it stands now, the Empire cannot control, in detail, what happens in any kingdom or duchy except within maybe two Jumps. Local control still exists. Midshipman Mitchell, later King Mitchell, used to talk about how all politics is local. Moreover, he was right, who cares about Imperial politics? At best, most people focus on their county and rarely anything higher.”

“I concern myself about Imperial politics and so does the larger portion of my family.”

“Yeah Quinn, but you are you and your family is your family. Your family is the oddball. Among those who do not have a professional reason to do so, how many care? I care because I do not like the idea of interstellar war destroying planets wholesale. The human race could get wiped out.”

“Yet it is a truth that the Empire has destroyed how many duchies? Moreover, the Federation and the soon-to-be Imperial Fleet destroyed how many during the War of Unification? How many mutinies, revolts, and other assorted war-like actions taken against the Empire that result in military action? You fear interstellar war but mayhap we have been in an interstellar war since the founding of the Empire.”

“I know of seven duchies destroyed for successful rebellion. Mutinies? I have no idea of the total, just the three serious ones that happened around me. Terrorist actions? Too many to count. Nevertheless, society continues and prospers. And my family will live for better times.” Elder rubbed his oversized nose and frowned at the death toll implied in what he had just said.

“Of the eleven of us who were on the JACOTOT together, how many are still alive? The Imperial Navy and Imperial Marines take what percentage of the youth of the Empire each year, and how many die each year?”

“I don’t know the answer and neither do you, unless you have inside information from your family connections Quinn.”

“I have such information, but only in general terms. The numbers are enormous although, relative to the entire population, insignificant. Would interstellar war be worse? I have no data upon which to make a comparison; however, in answer my own question, of the eleven of us aboard the JACOTOT, four are dead. So far, to my mind, the benefits of the Empire outweigh the drawbacks.”

“Four dead? I know of only three: Irving, Father Lester, and Ostrom. Who is the other one?”

“Lieutenant Commander Corbett perished three Imperial months ago. She was investigating a potential pirate operation and became a casualty in a sting operation by the ISA.”

“Damn it. All right, I know I am prejudiced against the ISA because of my experiences with them but does the Emperor pay any attention wo what the ISA does?”

“Emperor Caroline, according to what my family knows about her, does pay a great deal of attention to the Imperial Services Agency. She knows that they are fanatics for the Empire and as such can go to unwarranted extremes.”

“Well, that one who tried to frame me back at the Academy was not acting as an Imperial fanatic but a woman in love. The other three bad experiences were with fanatics who would have killed me just on the off chance that it would advance their investigation. And for all that they do, rebellions and terrorism still flourish.”

“However, we can never discern to what extent the condition of the Empire would be worse without the efforts of the ISA.”

“No Quinn, we cannot, I agree. Nevertheless, given my experiences with the ISA, I do not like their methods. Both Naval Police and Naval Intelligence are effective without using the techniques of the ISA.”

“That is true. However, discussing the ISA and the number of people killed each year does not solve the enigma with the colony ship and the various colonists aboard. I read the data acquired by your people and, like you, I question the intransigence of the Federation colonists. Is there any data not in your reports that might shed some clarity on this?”

“No, none. Unless my people learned something in the last two hours or so. Staying aboard that ship is a dead end. System losses will doom them, even if they can keep the equipment running. They will need outside input of food and other material to balance out the losses from waste. Nothing can be one hundred percent recycled. They can only have survived this long, regardless of how they got here – one Jump or several – because, as a generation ship, they had more supplies than could easily be used up.”

“Very well. What we have established is that a group of communists fleeing during the late UN or early Federation period, made contact with a Federation colony and for some reason the two joined and continued fleeing but now with Jump Drive. There are no records of the communist colony ship and we can expect none given that so many records of that era were destroyed during the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification. In addition, we do not know the name of the Federation colony since there were so many colonies destroyed during the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification. Even the knowledge that the colony had the capability to build space ships, thus the installation of the Jump Drive, does not help with the identification. The descendants of the communists surrendered easily but the descendants of the Federation colonists fought hard against capture and are resisting all efforts to integrate with the Empire. Is that summation essentially correct?”

“Yes Quinn, so the questions are: 1) Why did the two groups join, 2) Why did they start fighting so late, 3) Why are the former Federation colonists determined to not get rescued? And, as part of number two, now that I think of it, is why has the fighting been so nonviolent? According to the records, which I admit are spotty on deaths, very few on either side have ever died in combat. The Federation descendants have weapons that would allow them to crush the Soviets if they wanted to, but they do not. And, there seems to be a lot of co-operation between them in terms of mates, food exchanges, energy delivery and so forth. Sorry Quinn, I just thought of these. I’ll have to get my people working on those questions if they aren’t already.”

“It is to be expected that further questions would arise upon contemplation of the issue. You have raised questions that pose serious problems and I question if the answers will be readily available. What is the remaining time on your scheduled survey?”

“Four Imperial months, two more systems scheduled. That has obviously gone to the mules.”

“Very well, I would suggest that you concentrate on this system until you have been relieved or you can no longer support continuing here.”

“I already decided that. If I leave the colonists here, they could fire up the engines, go elsewhere, and stay hidden for who knows how long. I would be the first Captain in Second Fleet to lose a Lost Colony once found. I would be a laughingstock. I’s never get promoted and I am due for Commander in four months when I return to base.”

“You could retain necessary personnel aboard your ship so that they cannot conduct operations aboard theirs. That would keep them at their present location.”

“Sure, that might work if I knew exactly who was necessary but I don’t. I know some of them, but the skills may be scattered further than I presently know.”

“I realize that possibility, however, you have not considered that during your travel from the outer system to this locale, these colonists had the ability to start their engines and escape before you arrived at this location.”

“No, they didn’t have that chance. Remember, we knew they were here long before they knew we were here. If they had tried to flee, we would have seen them and followed them. And, we have better acceleration and better sensors. The onkly way that they could lose us is if they get up to Jump Speed and just as they Jump, twist their helm so that they are on a random course. However, that works only if they hit upon the proper course and speed for a nearby system. There are not that many within four parsecs and we would have a clear idea of where they went. With our training, we would recover from Jump disorientation before they would. We would be on top of them and boarding before they could recover and try again.”

“It has been an excessive length of time, apparently, since I had to consider chasing another vessel. I have not dealt with pirates in  any large amount so the necessity has not come into my consideration with any strength. You are correct, especially since the technology of the colonist’s ship is pre-Imperial, two hundred years out of date or thereabouts.”

“Yeah, I have sent a message torpedo to Section request that they reassign the systems my orders were to investigate to other ships. It may have to go to Squadron before there are any free ships but the request has gone forward. I cannot figure out these colonists and I do not want to leave until I have. There is something strange here, a lot of strange things and I don’t want to wonder for the rest of my life what the answers are.”

“Once the answers are determined, you will be able to obtain that information with a simple investigation.”

“Yeah, and I am good at finding things out. However, even I would have trouble finding out the answers if, as I suspect, the answers are classified to one of the higher classifications. You would have a better chance asking one of your relatives . I do not have the family connections; all of my relatives in the Navy are younger and of lower ranks than I am. Many of my younger cousins of various removes made it to the Academy in the last few years. However, I digress. I am here and until I get orders to leave, I am going to study this puzzle, and with some luck, solve it.”

“Very well. Since my mission was to make diplomatic contact with aliens and there are none here, I will return to Second Fleet Headquarters. Have you any messages I can deliver to your family?”

“Constance and the younger children are visiting Krasgia and should be there until I return to base. The four older children are away in the Navy. I seem to have started a family tradition in staying in for a career. The Elder family may be just as important to the Navy as the Quinn family in a hundred years or so. Or maybe it is just my children and the tradition won’t continue.”

“Are any at the Academy? I will there to lecture a seminar on a specific mission I performed and its consequences to the Empire. The mission being my attack on a pirate base without anything other than a Class-I Cruiser and a few Class-M Light Scouts. Moreover, given that I was successful, how I was able to succeed at the task. It was that mission that earned me the promotion to Captain.”

“You remember Meldrick, don’t you? The one that was always the schoolyard leader? He graduates in about six months. Going to be a Marine from his last message. Lieutenant Major Hartz has expressed an interest in having Meldrick assigned to his unit.”

From there the conversation drifted into personal reminisces and swapping of stories about family and mutual friends for another two hours. Finally, Quinn had to leave and get his business done. As he left, he apologized to Elder for his rude behavior when he had first arrived. Elder had wondered when that would happen, he knew Quinn to be too honorable to not apologize and Elder was shocked at how many words, and long words at that, that Quinn used in his apology. Elder accepted the apology, needing only an “Of course I accept your apology. I understand what you were going through. There is nothing hard between us.”

Once Quinn and his people were on their way back to the HINDO and the diplomatic team were arriving on the MACALPIN in preparation for their work on the colony ship, Elder checked in with his people who were trying hard to understand why the descendants of the Federation colonists were resisting so hard the efforts to make them Imperial subjects. He did check in with the history section and asked about the names of known generation ships and learned that there was no pattern to the naming of the ship; it was just what the Captain or sponsor decided. Given that, Elder decided to keep the name VOLGA since that was probably the original name.

Generation upon Generation, Chapter 9

When the HINDO arrived to orbit the generation ship, most of its crew had recovered from Jump Sickness. Most, but not all. Quinn had recovered and returned to duty but Grand Herald MacDermot had not. The Grand Herald was in confinement in Sick Bay under the care of the specialist medical crew, those trained to deal with Jump Sickness. His assistant, Master Herald Franklin Sander Bono Gomer Killea, would represent the Grand Herald.

During the two days after the arrival of the HINDO, in order to allow the people from the HINDO to set themselves on the MACALPIN’s clock, a crew shuttled over to the MACALPIN. Elder held a conference in his conference room since the material on the generation ship was more accessible there.

His conference room was crowded but not as badly as when he decided to make the trip to contact the Soviets. Now, there were just the bare minimum needed to discuss the issue of the Lost Colonists. Elder was at the head of the table, of course, with Quinn and Master Herald Killea flanking him since they were the expedition leaders from Second Fleet Headquarters. Captain Mozart sat next to Captain Quinn. Various other members of the expedition from Second Fleet Headquarters were mixed in with various members of the MACALPIN crew to finish out the seating.

Captain Quinn, family connections were doing him well since he was three full ranks ahead of Elder, sat straight and tall. He was just as tall, just under two meters, and swarthy as before, and even more handsome perhaps. Elder had wanted to have a private chat in order to catch up with Quinn but there had not been a chance yet. Captain Mozart was shorter than Quinn but still above average, and almost fat. Not as heavy as someone from Concar but his body was well padded. He was pale, almost to the point of being albino, with ice blue eyes that seemed to look at one’s soul without effort. Master Herald Killea was about the same height as Quinn, but where Quinn showed drive and determination, the Master Herald showed a personality that was not there. Everything about the man, his brown hair and brown eyes and his lean physique, seemed to be trying to hide, even when the Master Herald was speaking. The five others from the HINDO were there to support those three, so Elder did not pay attention to them, at least not yet. His own crew he knew.

Elder stood up to signal the start of the meeting. “The colony ship VOLGA presents a mystery, indeed several mysteries, to us. The ship is a multi-generation ship probably built during the late UN or early Federation period. From the records of part of the crew, the Soviet side, the ship travelled for about one hundred years before encountering a Federation colony with a shipyard. The Soviet records do not name this colony and the records of the colonists, the other side in the continuing war between the two sides, are blank on what Federation colony they came from as well. From the timing, the encounter happened during the Colonial Revolt or the War of Unification. Several colonies were destroyed during this time so that is no help in identifying the colony. My Navigator computed the area where the VOLGA could have reached after flying one hundred years, and that is no help either since several destroyed colonies were in that sphere. Both sides record that equipment was added to the VOLGA, ostensibly to improve engine performance but in reality to add a James Drive. From the Soviet records, the VOLGA made a single Jump and settled knot orbit here. Unless those records are false, that had to be a Misjump since a single Jump could cover a maximum of four parsecs, far short of the distance to get here. The Federation colonists have records showing multiple Jumps but no specific number. My Navigator estimates that, depending upon the starting system, it would have taken between eleven and fifteen Jumps to get here. Therefore, there is the mystery of what Federation colony the Soviets met and kidnapped.

“The real mysteries start once the VOLGA entered orbit around this planet. The records do not indicate fighting until then. The first mention of fighting is after a meeting between the Captain of the VOLGA and the Secretary of the Soviet of Workers and Colonists where the Captain gave an unknown book to the Secretary. Fighting has continued at a very low level since then.

“We, our Marines, took control of the Soviets with ease once I made the decision to do so. The Federation colonists however, were another matter. We captured a few colonists and explained the situation to them. We then sent them to their leaders as an embassy expecting that the colonists would be glad that the fighting was over. The message clearly stated that we were the successors to the Federation and I expected that this would give us some legitimacy. It did not. The fighting has been hard and lethal. The present Captain of the VOLGA, which they call the LIBERTY, died during the last battle, a victim of friendly fire since we used stunners exclusively.

“Both sets of records are incompletely studied and both seem to rely on unwritten assumptions. Whatever the book given the Soviets was, we can find no other reference to it and the library records do not show a missing book. Why the fighting only started after the gift of the book and why no effort has ever been made to stop the fighting is another mystery. Why no effort has ever been made to colonize the planet the VOLGA orbits is another.

“That is the extent of our knowledge as of this morning. Any questions?”

Captain Mozart cleared his throat, “Lieutenant Commander Elder, how many people inhabit this multi-generation ship?”

“In total, about twenty thousand Captain. That is men, women and children. If the ship went for a hundred years before reaching the Federation colony, the number then should have been close to double that on the Soviet side, depending on the original size of the number of people fleeing the Federation, and most Federation colonies started out with a population of between fifty and a hundred thousand people. With facilities for building space ships, the Federation colony would have tended towards the upper end of those limits. Like the Empire, the Federation was intent on establishing as many colonies as it could.”

“So, there should be perhaps a couple of million people on this ship. What facilities are present to dispose of corpses, Lieutenant Commander?”

“Captain Mozart, nothing special. They place the bodies with the rest of the organic material for recycling. Whatever religious beliefs the Federation colonists started out with are gone now. Every person is an atheist, more from a lack of knowing anything else rather than a deliberate decision or childhood training. There is nothing special about human bodies in their belief system, such as it is. They have no funeral services, nothing to remember a person once dead. They seem to deliberately erase their past.”

“I believe, Lieutenant Commander, that you mentioned that the colonists had resisted rescue. Please elaborate.”

“Captain Mozart, we expected that the Soviets would resist us and planned for it. Thus, we were able to capture all of them in a short time, just minutes. Once we secured them, we captured five Federation colonists and sent those persons to the Captain with the information that we were the replacement government for the Federation. We moved forward confidently, expecting no resistance. The colonists fired on the first Marines that they saw with slug pistols. The range of those pistols is greater than the range of our stunners but they lacked enough power to penetrate our Combat Suits. Thinking that the Captain did not believe what we had told him, we captured another person and gave that person documents in Federation English to, hopefully, convince the Captain that we are who we said we were and that he should surrender to us. We found that person, bound and executed, the next day. The colonists upgraded their slug throwers to rifles that could penetrate our Combat Suits but would only cause minor wounds unless they hit us directly in the faceplate. However, they concentrated on firing at the center of body mass and rarely fired at the head. Once we captured all the colonists, they still engaged in passive resistance, refusing to speak with us and so forth. Examining their historical records has shown no reason for their resistance. The only interesting item is that there was no conflict between the colonists and the Soviets until the colonists gave the Soviets a certain, unnamed, book. The fighting started right after that. The ship was already in orbit around this planet at that time and, so far, we have found no reason to explain why the colonists have not used this planet either as a living space or for its resources. I wish I had better news but both sides resist all efforts to gather information from them; the Soviets are less willing so but still are resisting. We are searching for more records in the hopes that further documents will answer our questions.”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, what fragment of your crew have you positioned aboard the other vessel? Is there any prospect that those presently captive might successfully revert to their previous status?”

Elder almost smiled at Quinn’s speech habits. Even after all these years, Elder remembered first hearing Quinn’s stilted speech back aboard the JACOTOT.

“Captain Quinn, Captain Major Major believes that the captives are secure and that he has sufficient Marines to prevent any breakout. The Marines and the Na y, in total, are about one third of my crew. Mostly from the Marine Battalion. Most of them are searching for further documents but several Marines are standing guard over the captives and at various points throughout the ship. With our sensors, the captives could not surprise any of the guards, especially if the Marines had time to send a warning about a breakout. With the captives unarmed and unarmored, both the Battalion Commander and I believe we have an unassailable advantage. Even if the captives escape, and that is extremely unlikely, our weapons and armor will prevent them from doing too much.”

Lieutenant Commander Elder, I foresee that your conviction that the captives are secure might be hyperbolic.”

“Huh? Captain Quinn, I have not been around anyone that uses language as you do for years. Please explain hyperbolic.”

Quinn looked hurt. It seemed that he was used to people understanding his stilted speech patterns. If Elder was going to be around him for very long, a dictionary would have to be at hand until Elder was familiar with Quinn’s speech pattern.

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, hyperbolic has a definition of exaggerated.”

“Thank you Captain Quinn, we haven’t spoken for years so I am out of the habit of understanding you. However, the captives are guarded and every weapon we could find, either taken in combat or from an armory, is presently aboard the MACALPIN. The captives might swarm a guard or two and secure our weapons but you know the capabilities of the Combat Suit. A Marine in a Combat Suit could fight and defeat a dozen unarmed individuals at any one time. Even if they swarmed the Marine and threw him to the deck, the Marine could still fight effectively. Moreover, no Marine guarding the captives is alone, there is always at least two others within sensor range. Even if the captives were able to take weapons from some Marines, our Combat Suits are proof against the weapons the guards have. Unarmored individuals are not. Please explain something that the Battalion Commander or I have overlooked.”

“Very well, you have designed your guarding system sufficiently Lieutenant Commander Elder. As you pointed out, we have not served on the same ship jointly since the JACOTOT and have not been together in any sense since we were both instructors at the Academy. I am unfamiliar with your level of tactical proficiency and the Captain Major is totally unfamiliar to me. I was merely calming my mind.”

“Well Captain Quinn, I would welcome any suggestions from you or your Marines on improving my setup over there but I believe we have the situation in hand. Why the Federation colonists are more resistant to rescue than the Soviets are is the big question and right now I have no answers nor any clue as to how to get answers except by interrogation and searching their databanks.”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, you have made no progress in reaching the colonists diplomatically?” Master Herald Killea spoke with a soft voice. Elder could barely understand him, his voice was so soft.

“Master Herald, it is very hard to have diplomatic relations with someone who does not speak with you. The only time either set of colonists speak with any Imperial is if they have to. You could ask one of them the time and just get a blank stare in response. Maybe you or some of your staff have experience in dealing with this sort of situation?”

“Unfortunately no, Lieutenant Commander. That sort of knowledge is more applicable to psychologists working with prisoners and the mentally ill. We have techniques that might work but no experience to tell if those techniques will work in this sort of situation.”

“Well, give it a try Master Herald. If these people are going to become functional subjects of the Empire, then we need to be able to communicate with them. We cannot just abandon the adults and raise the children; at least, I would not recommend doing that. Would it be better for your people to deal with them over there in a large group or over here in small groups?”

“I think small groups would be better Lieutenant Commander, but over there so that there is no suggestion that we are taking people off to be killed. Training helmets would not help as the techniques are not fact based.”

“I will alert the Captain Major since he is in charge over there. How many of your staff will be doing this Master Herald?”

“Probably most of those not still recovering from Jump Sickness Lieutenant Commander. We will need a dozen rooms for a start, with space for probably thirty colonists and three of my staff each. With a population of about twenty thousand or so, we ill not be able to reach very many; but we can, I hope, get a start. Captain Mozart, would you send a message torpedo off to Second Fleet and ask for a full crew of teachers, psychologists and so forth?”

Captain Mozart nodded. Quinn  nodded in that cocked nod of his and said, “Master Herald, while this mission is concluded as a First Contact situation, there are particular and well-established procedures for integrating a Lost Colony into the Empire. Second Fleet will send the appropriate specialists and these colonists should be fully integrated into the Empire within two Imperial Years.”

Captain Mozart continued to nod and said, “Those were the specialists I was planning on sending for with the message torpedo anyway. Teachers and so forth will follow the initial specialists. As Captain Quinn said, the Navy has well established procedures for this type of situation. Second Fleet has found over a hundred Lost Colonies, either all records of them were lost, or their ancestors were exiled or for whatever reason, their ancestors left the Federation or the Empire in hopes of never being discovered. Thankfully, the practice of exile has ended so no new Lost Colonies are being created.”

“Be that as it may Captain, we have to deal with these people now. Why were the Soviets able to take over a Federation colony with seeming ease? Why are the descendants of those Federation colonists so unwilling to accept the situation of our taking over and why do they continue with passive resistance? I would like to have some answers to these before anyone else gets here. By the way Captain Quinn, are there any follow-up expeditions coming from Second Fleet?”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, the determination at Headquarters Second Fleet was that this expedition would instigate a relationship with the aliens and inform Second Fleet of any follow-up requirements.”

“So the message torpedo that Captain Mozart will be sending will settle the situation at Second Fleet. Or will you be sending it Captain Quinn since you are the mission leader?”
“Lieutenant Commander Elder, the authorization for the torpedo will be mine.”

“Yeah Captain, that makes sense. Master Herald, how soon can your people, and I will refer to them as your people until the Grand Herald recovers from his Jump Sickness, get started? As far as I am concerned, until then you are in command of the diplomatic personnel. Am I clear?”

“Very clear Lieutenant Commander. I have been operating as Chief of Mission for the last few days anyway.”

:Good. This meeting is concluded. Let’s get to work turning these colonists into Imperial subjects.”

The people started getting up and moving away.

“Captain, a message from the HINDO for the Master Herald.”

“Patch it through to here, the Master Herald is with me.”

“Aye Captain.”

“Master Herald Killea, Commander Tully here. I am required to inform you that the Grand Herald has died from his Jump Sickness. The diplomatic side of the mission is now yours.”

“Thank you Richard, uh, Commander Tully. Please place the corpse in stasis for now. I have no idea when we will be returning to base. Master Herald Killea out.”

Elder had a question on his face but did not ask it.

“I’m sorry Lieutenant Commander, that wasn’t bad manners really. Commander Tully is my brother-in-law, married to my youngest sister. There is a gap of twenty-five years between her and me.”

“I have no problem with that Master Herald. One should always cherish family ties when you can. Are many of your relatives in the Navy?”

“No, most are civil service. Captain Quinn as the largest percentage of family members in Naval service that I know of.”

Seeing Quinn standing off to one side, obviously waiting, Elder decided to wrap the conversation up. “Master Herald, right now the biggest question I have is why the Federation colonists are resisting rescue. In addition, and closely related to that, and probably the cause of it, is why the fighting between the two sides did not start until the Federation colonists gave an unknown book to the Soviets. Please have your people gather that information if you can. Something is weird here, and we should know the reason before too many agencies get involved.”

“Yes Lieutenant Commander, that does seem weird. No Lost Colony that I ever heard of resisted inclusion once they realized that they had no other option. These Federation people seem determined to avoid rescue even though they can see the hopelessness of their situation. I’ll get my people on it.” The Master Herald walked off.

Generation upon Generation, Chapter 8

“Captain Major to Captain.”

Elder finished chewing and swallowing his bite of beef stew before answering. “Elder here. What’s wrong Captain Major?”

“Captain, the colonists are now using slug throwers. Mostly rifles that outrange our stunners. I have halted our advance until I have a better idea of the danger those slug throwers pose; they seem to be high caliber.”

“How big a slug Captain Major?”

“It varies, but most seem to be between 15 and 20 millimeters Captain. No danger from a single hit. Nevertheless, two close together, especially the larger ones, could penetrate. Where they had these and how they found powder that is still useable I cannot yet say. Nevertheless, these things are more dangerous than their stunners. The colonists are grouping these slug throwers in sections of five and can lay down a barrage of fire that could damage a Combat Suit before we get into range.”

“How fast do these rifles fire Captain Major?”

“Well Captain, I had the second encounter recorded and we analyzed the audio and heard thirty-two gunshots in ten seconds from five rifles. Muzzle flashes confirmed the number. These were rifles of 20-millimeter caliber. Any bigger and I would classify them as portable cannon much like our 25-millimeter cannons for the Combat Suit.”

“How many of these rifles are there, Captain Major?”

“We have identified thirty teams with five rifles each team Captain. How many they have in reserve, I cannot say, obviously. Moreover, the rate at which they are using their ammunition indicates that they have some way to manufacture the ammunition or they have a huge stockpile. I’m thinking the former; again, how could they store these and have the ammunition still work after all these generations?”

“I wonder about the availability of these weapons Captain Major. Think about it, if these weapons had been available early on, why did not the colonists use them before now? In addition, why are they fighting us? We represent their best chance to return to civilization and a more normal life.”

“I had not thought that far along Captain. We are presently in a residential district, that may be why they are using the slug throwers since there is little in the way of vital equipment here that those weapons could damage if they miss us. Maybe once we move past this district into something with more vital equipment, the colonists will change weapons again.”

“Captain Major, you know what weapons the Soviets had. Did they have anything comparable to these rifles?”

“Nothing Captain. With these rifles, the colonists could have destroyed the Soviets or at least eliminated them as a threat and gone home generations ago. I see what you are saying. Something does not add up here.”

“Very well Captain Major, this is a problem we cannot solve until we get more information and to do that requires us to subdue the colonists. You may take causalities but not too many I hope and no one KIA. I would suggest that you not give the colonists a chance to come up with new weapons. Nevertheless, that is just a suggestion; you know what you are doing. You are Marines and I am Navy; so take it for what it is worth.”

“Aye Captain. I understand. Marines out.”

Startled at the unusual sig off, Elder considered it for a moment before returning to his meal. What was the Captain Major telling him? Anything? Nobody expected Marines to be subtle in their messages, especially in combat, so if there was anything here, it was plain to see. And, Elder did see it after a short period of thinking. The Captain Major was just emphasizing his responsibility to the ship’s captain. Elder had told the Captain Major to secure the colonists and the Captain Major accepted what seemed to be the almost unlimited authority given him to do just that.

Elder was asleep in his cabin aboard the MACALPIN when the call came. It was not the middle of the night  ship’s time; it was just the middle of when he was asleep. Between the odd hours as Captain and the odd hours he needed to be available for issues concerning the colony ship, Elder had no set sleeping schedule and was as often sleeping in the middle of the day as the middle of the night ship’s time.

Elder did wake up quickly, most people in the Navy did, but unless there was something to keep him awake in the moments immediately after waking up, he tended to slide into a waking doze for however long it took him to get ready for the day. He did not have that problem this time.

“Elder here.”

“Captain, this is the Captain Major. We have secured the colony ship.”

That guaranteed that Elder was awake and would stay awake. He rolled out of bed and asked, “How many casualties Captain Major?”

“For us, just a few wounded. Six at the last report. No one KIA. Of the colonists, we are still counting but there were a couple of instances where the colonists were shooting at us and ignoring other colonists either just past us or among us, so their rifles have seriously wounded about twenty-five and killed seven. That is as of the resent count and it could get larger. The colony ship’s captain was one of the killed.”

“That is bad Captain Major. How about the Executive Officer?”

“Alive and captured Captain. We started interrogations just about ten minutes ago. We should have at least the basic information about the history, or at least where to find it, shortly.”

“Captain! This is the Bridge! An Imperial ship just entered the system, and is accelerating fast towards us. Transponder code indicates INS HINDO G000134D-043, No sign of any accompanying ships.”

“What is the estimated time of arrival?”

“Captain, if they go for minimum time, three days. And at the rate the HINDO has been accelerating for the last fifteen minutes, that is their goal.”

“Did you hear that Captain Major?”

“Aye Captain. I’ll aim to get as much information as I can and return in two days.”

“Captain, this is the Bridge again. We are receiving a coded message on the secure command channel demanding to speak with you.”

“I’ll be right there. Captain out.” Elder threw on his uniform and headed to the Bridge. Luckily, the Captain’s Cabin was near the Bridge, so he could walk the distance in a couple of minutes. Between getting dressed and striding to the Bridge, not quite ten minutes had passed. Elder considered the time not an issue since the coded message gave no priority demanding speed.

Once on the Bridge, Elder went to the Command Chair and sat. Activating the security system that gave him a private space for communications, he responded to the message from the HINDO.

“Captain of the MACALPIN, you will terminate any and all communications with the slien species immediately and forthwith dispatch all information you possess on these aliens to the HINDO for evaluation by the staff aboard the HINDO. Further contact with the aliens is hereby forbidden by order of Admiral Commanding Second Fleet. The HINDO will perform all procedures necessary prior to these aliens convening with Emperor Caroline. Do you understand, Captain of the MACALPIN?”

The language sounded familiar, there was not too many officers that used that sort of language but Elder had not spoken with Quinn in a couple of years. Hell, Elder did not even know what rank Quinn held now. However, Elder needed to clarify the situation before the HINDO arrived so that the people did not expect aliens but Lost Colonists.

“Officer commanding the INS Class-K Scout Cruiser, KENNETH MACALPIN K00092C-0065, Lieutenant Commander Jesip Dwight Roger Allen Elder acknowledges your message. Your information is out of date. The people aboard the discovered ship are not aliens but Lost Colonists from the period of the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification, or earlier.”

After several minutes, during which Elder expected a frantic re-evaluation of what the people aboard the HINDO were going to do, “Officer Commanding the MACALPIN. Do you comprehend your orders?”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder here. I understand the message you sent, did you understand the message I sent?”

“Officer Commanding the MACALPIN you communication is not relevant. Obey the order of Admiral Commanding Second Fleet.”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder here; Quinn, is that you?. Listen to me.” Raising his voice to just below a shout, “THESE ARE NOT ALIENS!”

It was not that many years ago that radio would be how ships communicated over interplanetary distances. The Empire needed better communications over interstellar distances and this faster-than-light radio was one result of the research that was still ongoing. However, it was so short-range that it was useless at interstellar distances. If there were more telepaths, telepathy could be a viable method of interstellar communication but there were still too few for more than communications between a few bases. Elder could conduct a normal conversation with Quinn, presuming it was Quinn at the other end, and not have it drag over hours if not days or even weeks. But message torpedoes or ships were the only way to communicate over interstellar distances.

“This is indeed Captain Quinn. If you are the personage named Elder I know, aboard which vessel was the concluding period of our entrance examination?”

“Congratulations on making Captain, and we were aboard the JAVOTOT. Shall I refer to your attempted sacrifice at the end when the food was running out? You were impressed with my intelligence and problem solving ability back those many years ago, I have not lost my touch Captain Quinn. In addition, that was you title then because we needed someone to lead us and you were the choice. Have I proved my identity Captain?”

There was a pause that lasted long enough that Elder wondered if the other ship was not going to reply. A video link came up so that Elder could see Captain Quinn. Then, “Lieutenant Commander Elder, the message torpedo received at Second Fleet Headquarters make specific reference to the discovery of an alien species. Explain yourself.”

“Captain Quinn, the message torpedoes I sent off made no such explicit reference but merely said that there was the possibility. Moreover, I sent those torpedoes to Section Headquarters not Fleet. If Section told FLeet that aliens were definitely present then they got my message wrong and you need to take it up with them, not me.”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, the HINDO has orders from Second Fleet to meet promptly with the aliens. You will comply with the orders of Admiral Commanding Second Fleet immediately.”

“Captain Quinn, you are more intelligent than this. Did you come from Second Fleet Headquarters?”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, I obtained my orders from Admiral Commanding Second Fleet personally three weeks ago.”

“Captain Quinn, you have not had time to travel here from Second Fleet Headquarters. Where did you depart from?”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, I obtained my orders directly from Admiral Commanding Second Fleet personally.”

“Admiral Marner stood before you, face-to-face, and gave you those orders? On Base A-92?”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder, that is affirmative. Comply with your orders.”

“Captain Quinn, you must be suffering from Jump Sickness. Who is in command of the HINDO? I presume you are in command of the expedition.”

Jump Sickness, a mental disorder that happens when a ship makes too many Jumps too quickly. Emperor Antoninio Calegari created the five-day Imperial week based upon the time between safe Jumps. Not all humans got Jump Sickness, nor with the same number of Jumps. There was just too many variables to predict who got it and when or how severe.

“:Lieutenant Commander Elder, you are deficient in the education required of a medical officer. Your diagnosis is invalid. Comply with your orders.”

“Captain Quinn, every Imperial officer went through the training necessary to recognize Jump Sickness in their third year at the Academy. In addition, there is the refresher training roughly every three years after the probationary period. I completed mine just last year, as you should have done also. Did you complete your refresher training? I remember that you have quite a bit of medical knowledge even without formal training. So even without refresher training, you should recognize your symptoms.”

Quinn just glared at Elder and did not reply. The focus was set so that the rest of whatever cabin Quinn was in was not identifiable.

“Captain Quinn, what are the symptoms of Jump Sickness?”

Quinn looked shocked for a moment, an unusual emotion for the normal stoic Quinn. “Lieutenant Commander Elder, your endeavor to flout your orders is rehensible. I should relive you of command immediately, unfortunately, I have not that authority. Comply with your orders.”

“Since you won’t Captain, I will. First is a slacking of mental ability. Second is increased irritability and anger. Third is stubbornness. Fourth is a tendency to excessively repeat oneself. Fifth is decreased situational awareness. Shall I continue Captain? Or do you recognize yourself so far?”

“Lieutenant Commander Elder comply with…”

Elder began shouting in order to override Quinn’s expected comment. Quinn might even remember that there was a provision for reliving an officer of duty and Elder had to act before Quinn did so. “Captain Quinn! Under Imperial Navy Regulation 146-932, Paragraph 73, Subparagraph (E) I hereby relive you of command. Lieutenant Lubow, log that action.”

Once Quinn stopped sputtering and stuttering, “Lieutenant Commander Elder! You forget yourself!”

Another figure entered the viewing area. With looks typical of someone from Sharnalt, an arm with the four gold stripes of a Captain took hold of Quinn’s shoulder and yanked. Elder heard the new Captain shout to someone not visible, “Captain Quinn has been lawfully relieved of command. Take him to the brig.”

Then to Elder, :Lieutenant Commander Elder, I am Captain Lacido Ronak Wilke Brunel Mozart, Captain of the HINDO. I am not suffering from Jump Sickness, or if I am, it is a very mild case. I can think straight. You say there are no aliens here?”

“No Captain, no aliens. It seemed a plausible idea when we first got here, as this is a generation ship and for it to have come from Earth would require that it left Earth before the First World War. Since then we have discovered that these were communists who fled the founding of the Federation, and during the Colonial Revolt or the Unification War met with a colony with a functioning space yard. Those people put a Jump Drive and revolted while the communists were recovering from their first ever Jump. Somehow, they ended up here and have been fighting for generations upon generations. I have secured the ship and have both factions in custody. My people are going through their historical records now to fill in the details.”

“Very good Lieutenant Commander Elder. How many message torpedoes have you sent out?”

“Just the two to Section Captain. And one to the last expected system a ship from Section Headquarters would have to come through warning them.”

“Nothing to Second Fleet Headquarters? Your first torpedo mentioned aliens did it not Lieutenant Commander?”

“Captain, the first torpedo I sent to Section mentioned the possibility of aliens. I expected a ship from Section Headquarters to show up with some people who had some better knowledge than I, even though no one really has any knowledge about aliens.”

“Well Lieutenant Commander, it seems Section sent torpedoes to every command level up through Second Fleet. Torpedoes have been flying at an intense pace ever since. Second Fleet decided to send us, Captain Quinn was there on an unrelated mission and we have sped here at the fastest pace that Grand Herald Javier Cadel Osai Zorba MacDermot could push us. Captain Quinn, the mission commander, agreed. I think Captain Quinn is pushing for a title in case he retires soon. You know he is just an Emir, right?”

“Captain Quinn and I went through the third phase of the entrance examination together on the JACOTOT. If you came from Second Fleet Headquarters, then you missed our last torpedo as it is waiting in the wrong system, Captain. Wait a second. Did you say Grand Herald?”

“Yes Lieutenant Commander. Grand Herald MacDermot is on an inspection tour to various bases and duchies. He was at Second Fleet Headquarters and declared that his rank gave him the authority to negotiate with the aliens. He and his staff transferred to my ship and away we came. We have been averaging two days between Jumps not five, with the last two having just a day between them. The Grand Herald probably is just as Jump Sick as Captain Quinn, if not more. He does not have the training the Navy has. Not that the training does us much good, but we get it.”

Elder thought back on all the days of training on how to avoid Jump Sickness, none of it repeated as the Navy experimented with different ideas. The only sure way to avoid Jump Sickness was to take at least five days between Jumps. Nevertheless, since some people, like those from Sharnalt, were able to resist Jump Sickness better than others were, the experiments continued.

“So, Captain, how many of your crew are suffering?”

“Lieutenant Commander, just over two-thirds of my crew and the Marine regiment are suffering to some extent. The Grand Herald’s staff is even worse. I will reduce my speed in order to give us time to recover. Expect us in seven days. Captain Mozart out.”

Elder leaned back and rubbed his nose. Not that he ever wore any of it away but rubbing the over-large proboscis helped him think. Checking in with the Chief Medical Officer on Jump Sickness and the recovery time from it got him no joy. With as many people suffering from it, seven days would give them a chance to recover but probably a third of those suffering would not recover in seven days. Perhaps 5 to 10 percent would never recover. Elder had never learned the percentages since he had never been on a ship that had risked it, although, he knew of ships that had risked it and some which had lost the gamble.

However, he had just over an Imperial week to learn as much as he could about the colony ship. The Captain Major had said he would have the information in two days, but that was before Elder knew of the longer time before the HINDO arrived. Should Elder tell him? No, it would really make no difference since if the Captain Major had not finished by two days, the extra four or five would allow for extra effort.

Elder paused. He had commanding officers who had pulled such a stunt on him and he resented it. He would not do it to someone else.

“Communications, get me the Captain Major.”

Captain Major Major must have not left his communications center yet, or else Elder’s call was immediately routed to wherever the Battalion Commander was. “Aye Captain, what is it?”

“I have just spoken with the Captain of the HINDO and they are slowing down to recover from Jump Sickness. The commander of the expedition is someone I know from my entrance examination and Academy years. The diplomat is a Chief Herald who happened to be on an inspection tour. You have some extra time Captain Major, seven days total, but press on regardless. Do not waste time. Am I clear?”

“Aye Captain. I will still push for two days, which will give us some time to start analyzing what we learn before the HINDO gets here. Anything else?”

“No Captain Major, not at the moment. Just remember that nothing seems right about this. And not just the timing of the VOLGA reaching here.”

“Aye Captain. Battalion Commander out.”

After taking a quick look around the Bridge, Elder went to his day cabin and called up the files on the VOLGA. As he expected, it was confusing. The evidence so far indicated that the VOLGA left Earth just before the establishment of the Federation. There was no indication that it was a government-funded colony ship and no indication that it was privately funded. However, a government-funded ship was more likely. However, what government would spend the quadrillions necessary to send off a small group of dissidents? Moreover, the initial group of colonists seemed small, notoriously so. After a hundred years, the growth was enough to take over a small colony but even that was a problem. The colonists, the soviets to distinguish them from that other colony, had to have a large military trained population. On the other hand, the Federation suppressed the civilian population from having weapons or receiving training in them.

Suddenly, a thought occurred to Elder. Calling Chief Sergeant Fortunato got him nowhere as the Chief Sergeant was off duty and asleep at the time. The Chief Engineer of the MACALPIN  had never gone to the other ship but in spite of that, he might be able to answer Elder’s question.

“Engineering Officer.”

“Lieutenant Kumagi, what kind of efficiency would the maneuver drives have on the VOLGA? How fast would her top speed be?”

“Well Captain, the best engines just before the founding of the Federation got up to about .4c, roughly, after about a year of acceleration.”

“So, how far from Earth would the VOLGA have gotten in a hundred years Lieutenant?”

“They would be well within Federation claimed territory Captain. Say, maybe, two-thirds of the way to the edge as I remember. They could have reached several of the Federation colonies.”

“And Lieutenant, how many Jumps from there to here?”

“Well Captain, the Navigator could give you a better number but my guess is perhaps a dozen or so. Depending on which side of Federation space they started from.”

“Thank you Lieutenant. Captain out.”

Twelve Jumps, maximum of four parsecs per Jump. However, the history that the Soviets recorded indicated just a single Jump. No Jump could go that far unless it was a Misjump. Moreover, Misjumps were a branch of physics all to themselves that no one had a clue about. Not even to start investigating them since they were so unusual and varied. Misjumps usually damaged the James Drive and often the Maneuver Drive and sometimes even the power plant. Such damage was often past repair, even in the portions protected from the effects of Jump by shielding. There was no sign of such damage in the colony ship’s engine rooms. Not that the lack of such damage was proof that a Misjump had not happened, but it was evidence to that effect.

The Imperials aboard the colony ship found the historical records that the Captain’s people kept and reading through them confused the Imperials. The references to multiple Jumps, properly identified as Jumps, contradicted the Soviet history of a single Jump. Moreover, the history spoke of working the Jumps so that the Soviets were always confused. This would seem that the Captain’s people were trying to induce Jump Sickness in the Soviets but how would they avoid it themselves?

One small point made the confusion worse. The early records spoke of meeting between the leader of the Soviets and the Captain to decide upon the issues. What the issues were, the records did not state but the record implied that the issues were important if the head of the Soviets and the Captain met to discuss them while a mutiny was in progress. Then the paragraph that really confused Elder came up.

The paragraph spoke of the delivery of  a book from the library and the start of the fighting. Between the delivery of the book and the start of the fighting was just two days it seemed. Nothing in the paragraph specified what the book was but the book was treated with reverence and the fighting started so soon after the delivery that Elder guessed that perhaps the book was a combat manual but that made no sense. Why deliver a book on combat tactics to your opponents during a mutiny?

The Captain Major was still onboard the colony ship, directing the follow-up activities of the Imperials. Elder took a quick glance at the schedule of those on the colony ship and called the Captain Major, who had just come on duty.

“Captain Major here.”

“Captain here. I have a question, Actually probably more than just one. Did you go through the records that the Captain’s people kept?”

“Aye Captain, I did and one point strikes me as significant. Early on, the Captain’s people could have taken the Soviets down easily. People with knowledge of the effects of Jump, even if that knowledge is just from schooling, recover faster than people without such knowledge do. Why didn’t the Captain’s people secure the Soviets then and return to Federation space?”

“I had not fully considered that point Captain Major. I concentrated on the file talking about the meetings between the Soviets and the Captain’s people. There is mention of a book that the Captain’s people gave to the Soviets from the library before there is ever any mention of any fighting. What book is that? A combat book> Why is there no mention of fighting until after these meeting and the gifting of the book?”

“I missed that point Captain. I will look into it. There are people searching the library now, I’ll have them check the inventory and discover what is missing.”

Generation upon Generation, Chapter 7

It was an Imperial month before the now-promoted Captain Major Major decided that his people had all that they were likely to get from the Soviets. Packing all the information and the analysis of that data into a tablet, he was ready for the Stagg meeting to decide what to do about the rest of the colonists.

The staff conference room was not as crowded, but it was still full. Elder sat at the head of the conference table and listened as the Captain Major gave a detailed briefing on the interrogations. He even showed some graphs extrapolating the data back into the history of the generation ship, whatever name it was to go by.

“So sir, in conclusion, I cannot prove that these people are aliens or are humans although the evidence leans towards the latter. If they are humans, then it is probable that the Soviets escaped from Earth in a generation ship about the time of the founding of the Federation, just before the discovery of the Jump Drive. That would explain the size of the ship and why it took so long for them to reach whatever colony they reached and probably kidnapped. From what indications still exist, this would have been during or just after the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification. There are several early colonies that were destroyed during that time; including several that the Federation planted as shipyards and or depots. With the information we have now, we cannot eliminate any possibilities among the destroyed colonies.

“If the are aliens, then all options are open. However, against the idea that these people are aliens, why do they speak Earth languages? The forms of Russian and English are what we might expect if the original languages were current about the time of the formation of the Federation or perhaps a century later in the case of the English language.

My cards are on these people being human and the result of a weird set of circumstances Captain.”

“Thank you Captain Major. Science, you are next.”

Lieutenant Lope stood, looked around and started his briefing. He focused on the scientific data that his people had gathered during the medical examinations and so forth. His briefing was more definitive than the Captain Major’s.

“So, I can state that these people, at least the Soviets, are human without doubt. The DNA is exactly what I would expect from an inbred population that started out from Earth about the time of the founding of the Federation. I have no information on the colonists yet, but I doubt that their DNA will be significantly different. The technology of the ship matches with the DNA findings. Early Federation or Late UN period. None of my people has found anything that indicates anything but human technology. I cannot explain the weird. I cannot explain the weird placement of the Jump Drive and Space Drive controls, but my guess is that the placement had some political purpose. My guess is that the colonists did not want the Soviets to learn anything about the Jump Drive. But, I could be wrong since I lack the necessary data. That is my report Captain.” The Lieutenant sat down.

Elder looked at the other staff, no one made a move to speak. “So, the interrogation and the medical exams strongly suggest that these people, at least the Soviets, are human and fled during the chaos that led to the founding of the Federation. Communications, send off a message torpedo to Section announcing that further information identifies this group of people as a Lost Colony, but with special circumstances. Include all of the information we have so that they can analyze it for themselves and understand why we came to that conclusion. The message torpedo that we sent a month ago, will it have reached its destination in time to stop anyone coming from Squadron Headquarters?”

“Yes sir. With all the changing of our opinion as to if these people are aliens or humans, I expect that any effort by Section Headquarters or any higher level of command will wait until we have something definitive. I would imagine that Senior Herald Parkin is sitting at either Section or Flotilla Headquarters waiting for us to say definitively that these are aliens before heading out. We may have wasted that message torpedo warning him not to come. However, we can swing around and pick it up later if need be. Message torpedoes are probably flying from Section all the way up to the Imperial Palace and anywhere in between Captain.”

“Very well. Get the message torpedo off Communications. Captain Major, what plans do you have to take the forward part of the ship?”

“Well Captain, we have every advantage that I know of. Our Combat Suits are proof against stunners, and the colonists probably will not use blasters or anything similar for fear of damaging the ship and even if they do, our Suits can take two hits in the same place before risking injury to the wearer unless they are using extremely high caliber weapons. Our stunners are slightly more powerful than theirs are, based upon what we learned from the Soviets, and combined with our Combat Suits, we can engage in combat with more security than they can. Our sensors can tell us where they are and while they know the layout of the ship better than we do, our sensors negate that advantage. I can use most of the battalion in the sweep, going from deck to deck and driving or capturing them until we have cleared the entire ship. Four days is my estimate for completion, just on the sheer size of the ship. Longer than it took with the Soviets but with them we were able to mix amongst them and capture masses of them whereas with the colonists, we are making an attack from outside their territory.”

“And where will you start this sweep Captain Major?”

“At the bottom, the deck furthest from the bridge. I want to take a lot of territory that they probably will abandon rather than fight for before it gets serious. I will have two companies guarding to prevent the colonists from sneaking around behind us from other decks and use seven to sweep . The last company is guarding the Soviets Captain.”

“That sounds good Captain Major, when will you start?” Elder knew better than to criticize the Captain Major’s plan, he was not a combat officer like the Marine but as Captain of the MACALPIN he needed to know.

“Captain, it will take a little time to get the remaining companies of my battalion here and set in place. I plan for two days from now.”

“Captain Major, remember that the colonists are descendants of people who from the Federation. They have never rebelled against nor fled the Empire or its predecessors. Prisoners rather than corpses are preferred.”

“Yes Captain, I understand. The orders to the troops are that this is a rescue operation. We are not crushing a rebellion. What is strange is that this is the first rescue operation I have ever heard of where the people being rescued are shooting back.”

“Yes, Captain Major, that does make it odd. You know what you are doing, get it done. Has anyone anything else? No? Dismissed.”

Elder checked out the training helmet situation while waiting for the Marines to secure the colony ship. Training helmets were nice, but they required a lot of computing power to operate. In addition, training helmets were great at installing facts but could not teach languages or other “soft” knowledges where interpretation was required. The planet below the colony ship would have to become the home for the colonists unless their original colony was unpopulated, a vain hope. Once there, Imperial bureaucrats would arrive to teach them how to be Imperial subjects.

In addition to these problems, there were nowhere near enough training helmets to do more than make a dent into the problem of training the new Imperial subjects. Training helmets are not portable and so each person that would use one would have to travel to the MACALPIN for training and return to the colony ship when they finished recovering. Elder was not sure he wanted people from the colony ship knowing just how few people were on his ship just yet, if ever.

Once the Captain Major had the exits blocked, he sent a small scouting party with orders to capture one or more of the colonists. AN hour later, he had five. One of the Marines who spoke English explained to the five colonists that the Federation that their ancestors had known no longer existed. He explained the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification and the premise of the Empire. Once the colonists understood the basics of what had happened since the Soviets had kidnapped their ancestors, the Imperials released and sent them to start negotiations. Two days passed while waiting for an answer. None came.

The attack companies each sent their first five platoons through the bottom deck, a deck primarily of long-term storage spaces. There the sensors of the Marines found several colonists and a few guards. The guards quickly fell to the slightly longer range of the Imperial stunners, and even when the guards hit a Marine, the Combat Suit kept the hit from doing anything. The Marines finished that deck in just over an hour. The four stairs and three elevators had Marines placed to guard them, then the Marines who had been guarding the exits of the area simply joined with the sweeping platoons. The next deck was more of the same. It was on the third deck that the colonists were able to get the alarm out. One worker simply activated an intercom and shouted the single word “Attack” before falling to a stunner.

Given the generations upon generations of combat between the colonists and the Soviets, the Captain Major expected a swift response to the Marines intrusion. He was right. The colonists guarded the stairs to the next deck up and sent the elevators to the top deck and disabled; not that the Marines were going to use the elevators anyway since they had no control over them, so that didn’t bother them. The colonists did not stop the Marines for the next two decks. Combat Suits were just too good.

Generation upon Generation, Chapter 6

Once back at the temporary headquarters, Elder opened a secure channel and began giving detailed instruction, not that Lieutenant Lubow needed the instructions, she had been in Second Fleet longer than Elder had, but it was normal for a ship’s Captain to want to give instructions in order to make sure that the Captain and the Executive Officer were not going to surprise the other by doing something unexpected.

“Captain, we received a message torpedo from Flotilla about fifteen minutes ago. An Imperial Herald is coming to meet the aliens. Senior Herald Parkin will be arriving as soon as possible. Flotilla Command has ordered us to work with him so that he can establish friendly relations with between the Empire and the aliens, presuming that the people that we are in contact with are indeed aliens. If the people are a Lost Colony, then normal procedures are to be followed.”

“It is, what, three Jumps from Base to here? We have quite a bit of time before the Senior Herald arrives Lieutenant.”

“Actually Captain, four Jumps. However, the last Jump is just two and a half parsecs. With your taking control of the other ship, regardless of what the name really is, Senior Herald Parkin should not have mush, if anything, to do here. Waste of time to show up but with no way to talk to a ship in outsystem space, we cannot stop him.”

“Lieutenant, can’t we send a message torpedo to one of the systems the incoming ship has to go through and let them know?”

“Aye Captain, we could. However, should we waste a message torpedo doing that? Our stockpile is limited.”

Elder thought for a few moments, :If we can save Senior Herald Parkin from wasting his time to get here, or her time – whatever, then it would be worth it. The systems they Jump through are known, right Lieutenant?”

“Aye Captain. There is only one path that they can take to get here from Base, so we can aim for the next to last system and catch them there. I’ll have it out in an hour.”

Elder sat for several minutes considering the situation and then called his ship again. “Lieutenant Lubow, has anyone investigated the database for information on a generation ship VOLGA?”

“No sir, not that I know. We were hung up on the possibility of aliens. I’ll have Sous-Lieutenant Heller start a search immediately.”

:Concentrate on pre-Federation. I think I remember that a few generation ships were sent out before the James Drive was perfected. Moreover, even when it was in early use, I think some generation ships that had been under construction were finished and sent out as well, just in case the James Drive did not work out. However, the records are so chaotic and fragmentary from that time, I could be wrong. I seem to remember that all the generation ships are accounted for but a memory is starting to nag at me saying some were lost as well as some early James Drive ships.”

“I do not know when we will have any data for you Captain, but I’ll have History do a search. I might as well check for failed colonies as well. Remember what the Chairman said about a colony begging to join them? If we can find such a colony, it should help with dealing with the Captain’s people.”

“If the VOLGA started out before the Colonial Revolt and took a colony during the Colonial Revolt or the War of Unification, the loss might have been credited to military action, so don’t just look for missing colonies, investigate everything Lieutenant.”

“Scout Cruisers are equipped to investigate everything Captain. We are on it. MACALPIN out.”

Elder glanced at the computer terminal in the room. It was not the sort of computer he was used to, obviously, and he was not even sure it would work with voice commands. Even if it did, would those commands have to be in Russian? However, he rolled his chair over to the terminal and looked it over. The keyboard was in Latin characters, which surprised him. Nevertheless, Elder was increasingly of the opinion that the soviets were indeed Russians and not aliens. If so, then the computer dated to before the Federation when English was the dominate language of that era. Even the Chinese and Japanese had increasingly used English for their computers and not their own hieroglyphic languages. Moreover, English evolved into the standard Federation Language and then into Imperial. He could read pre-Federation English with some trouble, but the older it got the harder it was for him. He still could not read Shakespeare in the original Early Modern with any ease so he relied on translations. Not that he read Shakespeare much; he thought Shakespeare was not very good.

Anyway, Elder quickly found the power switch and turned the terminal on. After a few seconds, a screen appeared showing a picture of the Chairman and a few, very few, icons designating programs available. At least, that is what Elder expected the icons meant. There was script under each icon but Elder had no idea what the writing meant as it was in Cyrillic.

Before he was too absorbed in trying to decipher the writing and the icons, the Marine Commander called him. “Captain, we have secured the Engine Room. At first glance, it is strange, maybe you would like to see it? I know you are not an engineer but you do know a lot about pre-Imperial history so maybe something here will mean something to you. I’m sending someone to bring you, are you at the headquarters we established?”

“YEs Lieutenant Major, I am. That statue triggered some memory but it has not gotten clear enough yet. Therefore I am going to investigate the computer files and see what I can learn. I do have some expertise with computers and this is better than just sitting around doing nothing but squat.”

“Aye sir, do you want to come to the Engine Room?”

“Yes, Lieutenant Major, I do. I have not started here yet, not really. Moreover, it may take quite some time to get into the computer since it seems so old. Old, but not alien. Another reason to consider this is a Lost Colony in spite of the distance from Imperial territory, or especially Federation Territory.”

It was five minutes later that a Marine Private First Class showed up and requested that Elder follow him. Elder knew that the Imperial Navy and Marines had no minimum or maximum height or weight but this young man made Elder feel tall. The top of his head came to Elder’s chin and he was so skinny that Elder wondered if he had any muscle on his bones. Then Elder noticed the ribbons, including hand-to-hand combat and small arms expert. Elder decided not to worry about this young man. Anyone thinking he would be a pushover was in for serious trouble.

“Where are you from Private First Class?”

“Pizey, in the Boii Sector Sir.”

“I think I know a bit about your Sector, it is not near my home sector, you are clear on the other side of the Empire Private First Class.”

“Aye sir. I have spent most of my time in the Marines travelling from one post to another. Most Marines stay in one unit but I am one of those who get transferred in order to balance out unit levels. I have been in Sectors all over in the last six years. It has made it hard to get good reviews and recommendations for promotion but with hard work I have not fallen too far behind.”

For the rest of the walk to the Engine Room, Elder and the Private First Class discussed the home world of the Private First Class and his plans for his life after his term in the Marines, including that he intended entering into the Ducal Police as had many of his family. Elder also learned that the Marine was Wiccan, the first one that Elder had run into; at least, as far as he knew. He rarely questioned the religious beliefs of those who worked for him.

There was a Marine Corporal at the entrance to the Engine Room looking very uncomfortable in his forest green shipboard jumpsuit. Elder felt some sympathy for him, the Combat Suit was much better protection against whatever the Soviets could use in the way of weapons. Elder felt somewhat vulnerable without a Combat Suit as well, but the Marines wore it much more than naval personnel did, especially in combat situations. That Marine had to feel almost naked.

The Marine Corporal saluted Elder and opened the door to the Engine Room. Neither Marine entered with him.

Inside Elder paused o take the room in. He had been in Engine Rooms before, especially when he was the Executive Officer of the INS DATHICK before his promotion and assignment to the INS MACALPIN. It took a moment to realize that everything was the same sort of equipment found on Imperial ships except that these were huge. Each piece of equipment had to be at least three times the size of equipment normally available at the present time.

Elder considered that point for a moment and then looked at his Identity Bracelet. It was maybe a quarter the size of the one he had worn when he entered the Navy and was probably five times as capable.

There were two groups of people in the Engine Room, a Marine guarding several people in red jumpsuits and several Imperials over by what looked like a control board. Elder went over to that last group. As he reached them, and it took  a short while since the size of the Engine Room matched the size of the equipment inside it, he studied the board and immediately got confused.

Elder had been around many control panels, both in the Imperial Navy and in civilian workplaces and this control board matched none of them. It did not even look like someone could use it with any efficiency. In an emergency, it would take valuable seconds to find the proper control unless someone had previously memorized it and if memorization was required, why not make it easy to memorize? Elder looked at the Imperials standing there, his confusion showing on his face.

“Aye Captain, it’s a mess. My guess is that somebody added some of these controls after the board was originally designed and just shoved them into whatever space was available. But that doesn’t make sense because programmable controls were available or a hundred years or so before the Federation was founded.” Chief Sergeant Fortunato knew engineering and when he made such a comment, it was the last word needed.”

“Meaning, Chief Sergeant?”

“Captain, the fusion plant controls are mixed with the maneuvering drive controls, and the Jump Drive controls. If we took out the Jump Drive controls, the other controls are still mixed together. No human ever did this for a sane reason. And if it is aliens, their thought process concerning controls are out of my understanding. The normal technique for decades before the Federation was to set programmable controls in place and you could move the controls, slightly, to fit your need. But all fusion plant controls would be near each other so that you could find something fast if needed; and the same with all the other control sets.”

Elder looked at the controls for a moment and then hunted down the safety and disconnected the panel. He then tried moving from one control to another, simulating emergency procedures. It did not work very well; it just took too long for him to move from one control to another. He turned the safety off so that the controls were active again. “With controls like these, any emergency could get out of hand far too easily. Moreover, if you put two people here to cover emergencies, they would just get in each other’s way. Am I right Chief Sergeant?”

“Aye Captain. Shall we get started on reconfiguring the controls?”

Elder thought for several moments. “No Chief Sergeant, if these people are aliens the Imperial University and who knows how many other Imperial agencies will want to study these. Moreover, if they are not aliens, it will not change a thing. A lot of agencies will want to study everything aboard this ship.”

“It will be hard to operate these controls Captain.” Chief Sergeant Fortunato swung his hands around, encompassing the entire Engine Room.

“It can’t be helped Chief Sergeant. The configuration of these controls and all the other weird things about this ship need to be preserved for future study.”

Then Chief Sergeant Fortunato did what any NCO does when given an unreasonable order that he could not change, he said, “Aye Sir.”

Elder looked around the Engine Room a bit more and then visited the Jump Drive Control Room the next deck up. Like the Engine Room below, what controls the were on various control boards were jumbled up and a danger in case of emergency. He returned to the temporary command center full of thought. Were these aliens or humans? One set of data indicated aliens and another set indicated humans. Every time he had almost decided on the subject, something came up which threw the subject into ambiguity.

The Marines set up several investigation sites and began questioning each member of the Soviet. It was slow going, as most had no clue about their history, just what the Politburo had taught them. There were discrepancies of course, that was to be expected. What was not expected, but perhaps should have been, was that the discrepancies varied by age. Several of the older people remembered being taught specific things that the younger people were not taught or had been taught differently; but the older people ignored these discrepancies for fear of their lives. The members of the Politburo  were harder to get information from, but once they began talking, better information came forth.

Elder waited for the investigation to wind down before tackling the problem of the Captain’s people. He thought about giving the ship a third name to emphasize that it was now an Imperial ship and the Emperor had an overriding claim and jurisdiction but decided to wait. Besides, what would he name it?

Generation upon Generation, Chapter 5

“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.