"This is the command ship Rina of the Imperial Battle Fleet of Deshtiris. Identify yourself at once or be fired upon," said the grim face on the screen. I was again at the controls of the Futaba, and following Kiri's instructions had piloted the ship directly toward the battle fleet, just before Senaria and the youth took her back to the living quarters for some urgent medical care. It seemed like a desperate gamble, but at this point we were "out of options," as they say. Without instructions to the contrary the fleet could be expected to pursue the attack, and we had all agreed that an interplanetary war would be the ultimate disaster.
Above me to my right was the tactical display. The Futaba appeared in the center of the screen as a tiny yellow blip, surrounded by a cloud of diamond-shaped objects in stark black and white, the official Brizal colors. With its superior speed, the Futaba had taken just over four hours to overtake the much slower Deshtiran vessels.
I looked at the face on the screen. Would he buy it? I wondered. Well, here goes, and I switched on my end of the communications. "This is Prince Wilorian of the Royal House of Nendor. I urgently need to speak to your fleet commander."
For a moment the officer looked startled, then angry. "What kind of joke is this? Everyone knows Wilorian has been dead for thirty years. I don't think you realize your position, fellow. Your ship is covered from all sides." Then his eyes widened and his mouth fell open.
"Perhaps you recognize me, then, Holan," said the hoarse voice behind me. "We used to play together at the palace when we were children. Do you still remember me?" Senaria had cleaned her up and washed the dried blood and coloring from her hair, and although still pale as a ghost she looked every inch the green-eyed, flame-haired goddess I had first seen on the Futaba those weeks (or was it years?) ago. She placed her hands on my shoulders to steady herself.
"Kiri?" Holan said, his voice shaking as he involuntarily stood up, then corrected himself. "Princess Mikiria, is it really you?" There was a long pause, during which I thought he was in a panic, his face twitching, and then I realized he was fighting off tears. Several other officers appeared behind him, staring in wonderment.
"Yes, Holan," said Kiri softly. "I'm back. And this really is Prince Wilorian, who I hid on Earth those thirty years ago. We've finally come back to fix things. I'm sorry it's taken so long."
There was another momentary pause before Holan, desperately trying to regain his composure, said in a cracked voice "How can I serve you, Princess? And you, Prince," he added quickly, looking at me apologetically.
"I need a secure line to the fleet commander," she said, her voice now crisp. "As quickly as possible."
The screen went blank for about thirty seconds, and then an older face, with a trim grey beard, appeared before us. "Is this some kind
"We don't have much time, Uncle. If this war ever gets started, it's over for all of us. It has to be stopped now. Can you do this?"
"What about the Brizali?" he responded helplessly. "We've lost contact with the home bases, and I can't just reverse our orders without good cause. We have Brizal officers in every unit. We're getting reports that some of the Liquidators have collapsed, but they're all confined in the Brizal quarters and no one is being allowed in. What the hell is going on?"
"Krigghin Teyn is dead," she answered briefly, not mentioning Tenako, "and Tar Deshta is now a very large hole in the ground. The central power station overloaded and self-destructed, and destroyed the others in some kind of chain reaction. The Liquidators should all be dead by now. I think you'll find that your advanced weapons are useless, too," she added meaningfully. "If the two fleets meet, they're going to be very well matched. The casualties will be enormous, and on both sides."
She paused to let her words sink in before she continued, suddenly sounding very tired. "Now, can you do this? Because otherwise we're all staring into a very deep abyss." The commander hesitated for a second longer, then nodded grimly.
"Stand by," he said and the screen went blank.
For what seemed an eternity we waited on the Futaba, Senaria pacing back and forth, the boy watching the displays, Kiri again cradled on my lap, her eyes closed. No one spoke. "Eternity" proved to be about ten minutes, when Senaria suddenly gave a shout and pointed at the tactical display. We all stared, hardly daring believe what we saw. One ship after another on the screen was changing color to green and yellow, the official colors of the House of Nendor. A few minutes later a signal came over the telecom line to drop out of hyperspace on command, and I set the Futaba's controls to respond as well.
"We've done it," said Kiri softly, closing her eyes again. "It's over."
MIKIRIA. Copyright © 1998, 2000 Lamont Downs. All rights
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