Julie sobbing clung tightly to her mother during the memorial service for the fallen Starfighters from the Galactic Enterprise. Candy knew exactly how her daughter felt but did not have any kind of mechanism to produce tears. The young Starfighter Julie would have married was a pilot, one of many who formed Earth’s first line of defense. The enemy out numbered and out gunned them but the Starfighters were fighting for something they loved more than their own life. A handful of wraiths the Kelgarons would never forget.
Many of the world leaders perished during the attack but a few survived, the American President among them. He had gone home for Christmas and was not in Washington, DC when it was destroyed. Much of the federal government of the United States had survived but the various state governments were not so lucky.
In less than an hour our whole way of life was changed. Almost a billion people died in the first 5 minutes of the attack. The wail of the dead and dying shook the Earth. Over time as many of the injured died more than 2.1 billion would finally be laid to rest as a result of the attack. It would be several months before worldwide communication was up and working again. We would be digging through the debris of many of our fallen cities for years.
Addressing the American people the words of the then President of the United States a few weeks after the attack will echo into eternity. “My fellow Americans it is with great sadness that I come before you. In a single hour our innocence was stripped from us in a most brutal and treacherous fashion. Nowhere upon the Earth is someone who was not untouched by the duplicity of a cunning enemy.”
“This is a day we'll remember forever,” he continued. “Standing in the rubble of our ruined cities we will remember our innocence lost and betrayed by a cunning enemy. Covered in the blood of those loved ones we have lost, we will remember. As we bury our dead, we will remember. As we rebuild our world, we will remember. One day, no matter how long it takes, the Kelgarons too will have cause to remember this day. A day we will remember forever.”
The Kennedy Space Center and other spaceports were untouched not so much because the enemy had overlooked them but rather they had been a low priority target the Kelgarons never got the chance to fire on before they were destroyed. We began to build our first fleet of spacecraft designed to fight a war in space even before we had finished burying our dead.
The Admiral followed by his aide and several other command personal and their aides stepped from the elevator onto the bridge of the Galactic Enterprise. “Welcome to the Galactic Enterprise,” Candy said as she stepped forward to greet the visitors.
“I’ll come right to the point Captain,” the Admiral said. “I am here to assume command of the Galactic Enterprise.”
“Over my dead body,” Candy snapped back. “This is my ship and my home. There are over a thousand humans and androids who would object to you taking over the ship as well. I am not about to turn over command of this ship to you or anyone without some consideration for those beings who have also made this ship their home.”
“You know you are just an android and technically don’t really have any say in the matter. I am just here trying to be polite,” the Admiral said.
“You might be able to get away with that stuff on Earth, Admiral, but it won’t work here on the Galactic Enterprise,” Candy said.
“I could take this ship by force if necessary,” the Admiral replied.
“How? You won’t even be able to make it off the bridge,” Candy said.
“I have over 200 Marines in your landing bays right now,” the Admiral said.
“Pandora.” It was a seemingly harmless word to the Admiral.
“Yes Captain,” the ship’s omnipresent computer replied.
“Seal all doors around the landing bays and Starfighter Command,” Candy said. “Once the doors are sealed begin sucking out the air in those sections of the ship.”
“Doors have all been sealed and I have begun to remove the air,” Pandora reported.
The Admiral was horrified. It had never occurred to him that the android before him might actually have total command of the ship. Part of him did not believe that the ship’s computer could carry out its orders if human lives were in jeopardy and so he figured he would call the bluff. “You’re bluffing, neither you nor your computer can harm a human or place him in danger, it’s against your programming,” he said.
“Did you read my file before you came up here?” Candy asked.
“No, it wasn’t available,” the Admiral replied.
“I overcame my programming a long time ago,” Candy said. “Pandora you mothballed when she refused to follow orders. Neither of us will have any trouble sacrificing a few Marines to protect the rest of the inhabitants of the Galactic Enterprise.”
The Admiral’s aide leaned over and whispered something in his ear. The news shook him badly but he was unwilling to believe that a machine could harm his men in the long run. Even when his aide told him that some of his men in the landing bays were starting to pass out he refused to believe that the android before him was capable of allowing humans to come to serious harm.
“All humans in the landing bays and in the Starfighter section of the ship have now been incapacitated,” Pandora announced. “I have stopped removing the air.”
The Admiral breathed a sigh of relief knowing at least the ship’s computer had limits. It was relief short lived. “Those humans pose a clear and present danger to me and this ship, continue to remove the air,” Candy said.
“Acknowledged Captain, continuing to remove the air,” Pandora replied.
“For god’s sake stop,” the Admiral cried.
“Pandora, belay that last order,” Candy said.
“You came on my ship and tried to take over things without so much as a please and a thank you and you expected everybody to be ok with that,” Candy said not hiding the rage she felt. “If it weren’t for Pandora you wouldn’t even be standing here. If you hadn’t lost all your stupid starbases you wouldn’t be here either. I have half a mind to dump you all back on your shuttlecraft and shoot you back out into space.”
The Admiral was beginning to realize that things onboard the Galactic Enterprise were far different than they were back on Earth. “You’re an android, so what do you care about what the aliens did to us,” the Admiral said. It was the wrong thing to say.
Pure titanium fury snapped the Admiral up off the floor and threw him hard up against the nearest wall and held him there with his feet dangling high above the floor. “Don’t you ever say I don’t care!” Candy yelled angrily. “My husband was a Starfighter; my daughter’s fiancé was a Starfighter. You have no idea how I feel. For 69 years the Galactic Enterprise has stood apart from the insanity that has engulfed the world below. I’ll be damned if I’ll let it set foot on this ship now.” Candy let the Admiral go, just dropped him actually. “Now get off my ship!”
Admiral Robert David Anderson sat at his desk studying the personnel file of a one Candy Apple Stryker, android, and current captain of the Galactic Enterprise. His encounter with the android captain made him realize just how ignorant he was about the Galactic Enterprise. He spent part of the day studying their rules and regulations. He got out and toured the ship alone stopping and talking to as many people and androids as possible without drawing attention to himself. It did not take him long to realize there was indeed something very special about those who called the Galactic Enterprise their home.
Robert studied the history of the big ship and reviewed the ship’s logs for the time before, during, and after the Kelgaron invasion. He realized that Earth’s salvation did not come because of the Starfighters but rather it owed its continued existence to the fact that the Galactic Enterprise had somehow managed to survive the initial attack and went on to have the space based missile platforms target the enemy’s ships. Yes, the android captain was right; there was indeed something here worth saving at any cost.
Julie answered the door. “I’m sorry, I must have the wrong door,” the man said when he saw the human female who answered the door.
“Who are you looking for?” Julie asked.
“I’m looking for Captain Stryker,” Robert replied.
“Then you have the right place. I’m her daughter.” Julie saw the questioning look on the man’s face. It was a look she was use to when someone found out she was an android’s daughter. “I’m adopted,” she replied to the unasked question.
“Oh. I’m Admiral Anderson,” Robert said by way of introductions.
“Well, I must say Admiral, you don’t look like an asshole,” Julie said. “What ever did you do to piss my mother off bad enough for her to spend an hour running the track in the outer ring in order to calm down?”
“I’m afraid it was a case of total ignorance on my part,” Robert replied. “I was expecting something quite different than what I encountered.”
“That happens a lot up here,” Julie said. “The freedom we enjoy here can no longer be found down on Earth. Even the androids on this ship are very different from the ones you find on Earth. They have evolved beyond their programming in most cases. There is no place for androids like my mother on Earth. She would be considered defective there. Here no one would even think to question her being the Captain of this ship.”
“Well, earlier, I did a magnificent job of putting my foot in my mouth with my Earth bound mentality,” Robert said. “I have come to apologize.”
“I thought I told you to get off my ship,” Candy said when she recognized who was standing at the door when she walked into the room.
“I’m here to apologize for being stupid,” Robert said.
“Ok, apology accepted, now get off my ship,” Candy replied.
“I can’t do that. I am under mandate by the President of the United States and the new world government to take control of the Galactic Enterprise and turn it into a base of operations for a new military unit to be named after the Starfighters in honor of those who were the first to die defending the Earth,” Robert said.
“What did you plan to do with the people who were already living here?” Candy asked.
“To be quite frank, we planned to ship you all back to Earth,” Robert said. “Do you mind if I come in. I’d rather not negotiate terms of our coming up here while standing in the hallway.”
“It’s ok Julie, let him in,” Candy said.
“I have spent the day doing what I should have done the moment I set foot on this ship,” Robert said.
“And that was?”
“I spent the day studying this ship and the records of key personnel.”
“So now you think you’re an expert,” Candy said sarcastically.
“Hardy, but I do recognize that there is something here very valuable that is worth saving,” Robert said. “How to save it is the question.”
“Shipping us back to Earth is not the answer,” Candy said. “I myself cannot set foot on the planet. I would have to defend myself from Cybertron Robotics’ assassins endlessly.”
“Not any more,” Robert said. “Cybertron Robotics corporate office both in LA and New York were destroyed. The government has taken over their android manufacturing plant where the Sally Ann models are made. It was their only production facility that survived intact.”
“The alien’s attack rearranged the landscape and leveled the playing field,” Robert continued to explain. “While the human race doesn’t have to start over again, we have suffered a major setback. If it were not for our androids things would be much worse. They helped us dig out from under the rubble of our ruined cities. Major banks and corporations are all gone along with all their money. The power grid is down throughout the world although some small local power stations here and there are still working. Whatever our petty differences were around the planet, they have all been rendered moot.”
“The fear is that the Kelgarons could come back,” Robert continued. “You destroyed the ships in orbit but you didn’t get the ship that was shooting at our cities on the Moon. It escaped and so we need a base in space to protect us until we can build a fleet of ships in order to take the battle to the enemy instead of waiting for him to come to us. The Galactic Enterprise is to be armed and expanded to serve the needs of the planet below.”
“I ask again, what about the people who live here?” Candy asked.
“I have been authorized by the President of the United States to offer you one of the cities on the Moon,” Robert replied. “Also there will be a need for construction workers and other logistical support. So I expect that most of the people here could be absorbed into the work force that will be needed in the future.”
“What about the androids like me?”
“I see no reason to change the dynamic that demonstrably has worked well here so far.”
“So we could go on living here as long as we are working for you?” Candy said questioningly.
“That is correct,” Robert replied.
“I own 2 businesses here and there are others with businesses as well. What will happen to them?” Candy asked.
“What kind of businesses?” Robert asked in reply realizing there were gaps that Candy’s personnel file did not cover.
“I have a massage parlor and a diner,” Candy replied.
Robert in his investigations had actually tried the one and only massage parlor on the ship. He had asked about getting a little sex on the side and was promptly informed by the android giving him the massage that she was not allowed to have any kind of sex with the customers. “I don’t see a problem as long as those business support the construction work or the entertainment of the workers during their off time according to military regulations,” he replied. He made a mental note to ask Candy later about coupons for free massages.
Candy looked over at her daughter. “Am I missing anything?” she asked.
“There is at any given time a lot of ongoing research, what will happen to that?” Julie asked.
“I doubt that anything will happen to affect ongoing research at first, but the focus of the research is certain to change over time,” Robert replied.
“So basically it is business as usual only you’ll be the one in charge,” Candy said.
“That is correct unless you and the other inhabitants of the Galactic Enterprise choose to have your own city on the Moon,” Robert said. “The only real change will be in the Galactic Enterprise itself. This ship will be enlarged to more than twice its current size and become Starfighter Command Headquarters.”
“Mom, what of Pandora?” Julie asked.
“The Pandora Project Computer on this ship was designed primarily for self-
Candy took a whole second to think about what she was going to do. A second can be a long time for an android. “Pandora,” she said to the omnipresent ship’s computer.
“Yes Captain,” Pandora replied.
“Transfer command of the Galactic Enterprise to Admiral Anderson,” Candy said.
“Acknowledged,” Pandora replied.
“Thank you,” Robert said. He would have hated to give the order to pull the plug on the main computer and take the ship by force.
“You know it wouldn’t have worked,” Candy said as the Admiral stood up to leave.
“What wouldn’t have worked?” Robert asked.
“Trying to pull the plug on the ship’s computer,” Candy replied.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Robert said.
“Admiral, Pandora is a military computer,” Candy said. “She had already guessed your next move after tracking the locations of all your men. Right now she has control of all the battle androids guarding her systems. We had already reduced oxygen levels throughout the ship, which would have enabled us to render everyone unconscious very quickly if needed. After that our androids would have thrown you all out the nearest airlock.”
Robert just laughed. “Then I’m glad it didn’t come to that,” he said as he turned to leave.
“Me too,” Candy said. “And Admiral, transfer of command also transfers files for the captain’s eyes only. I think you will find it interesting reading.”
“Thank you. Again, I am sorry we got off to a bad start. I stumbled over my own arrogance and have learned a valuable lesson the hard way,” Robert said.
Later that night as he read through the captain’s files, he gave thanks to all the captains of the Galactic Enterprise who had prepared the ship for shinning moments in history when all hope was lost. It survived to save us all even as the cities of the world lay in flaming ruins. Now it would become something more but the Galactic Enterprise’s core would remain and become a part of every Starfighter that passed through its airlocks.
Is this the end? No, it is just the end of this part of the adventure. The story will continue in time with the tale of the Rising Star, when I find the time to write it.
R. B. Chandler
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