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Old Friends: A Starflight Story (standard:science fiction, 8783 words)
Author: BrockleighAdded: Aug 20 2001Views/Reads: 1671/1104Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Gault and the crew of the Phoenix are sent as an escort on a diplomatic mission. What he finds is someone from his past with ulterior motives.
 



Old Friends: A Starflight Story By Kevin Stasila 

Foreword: Elements of Hillsfar & Company are used by permission. Thanks
to Max Boucher for all his help. 

Mark Gault looked out over the lake in front of his cabin, and relaxed
on the chaise lounge. The water rippled on the lake in front of him, 
and the foliage on the trees was a brilliant orange in the early autumn 
of the Heaven colony world. To Gault this reminded him of September on 
Earth, what he could remember of it. He pulled his light jacket a 
little tighter around him, and took a sip of the beer he brought with 
him from Starport. This was a wonderful gift the Interstel authorities 
gave him for destroying the Uhlek threat a second time, a patch of 
property on the surface of Heaven. He enjoyed the solitude. As the 
majority of the Heaven colonists were underground, there was not 
another sentient being above ground for five hundred miles. 

A noise off to his left caught his attention. Gault turned to look at
the disturbance, and saw three thelams looking for food on his land. An 
odd cross, it seemed, between a badger and a rabbit, the thelams were a 
harmless herbivore on the planets surface. They were also the reason 
that Gault couldn't bring his two Elowan crewmembers with him to this 
place; he didn't want to risk having a thelam graze on his 
communications officer or doctor. His thoughts turned to the rest of 
his crew. The two Elowan were at Starport, continuing Old Empire 
studies. As a hobby, Kel Dabi and Lor E'aye worked with the Arthean 
archeologists to try and piece together some of the mysteries and 
missing pieces of history. They probably would have rather stayed at 
Starport and work on their projects than come out here for a vacation. 
Gault loved their tireless work ethic. 

His Veloxi navigator and engineer were on the home world of Votiputox,
seeing it for the first time. Qynzhqylyh and Apiphotex were both 
Arthean Veloxi, and grew up on the New Empire's home world, never 
having seen the planet that their ancestors came from. Gault was sure 
that they were having the time of their lives, although Apiphotex was a 
concern. Gault had known of Api's predilection for the Veloxi Queen, or 
the Grand Lovely as they called her, and the Captain wondered if his 
engineer was getting in any trouble because of it. 

Craig Hixon was nearby, only seven sectors away on Vistrel 1, on the
Mechans/Veloxi border. He was offered a chance to help surface map the 
planet that had only been recommended for colonization six years ago. 
The planet needed to be explored on the ground to determine where the 
best places to colonize the planet would be, and this was a wonderful 
opportunity for the rookie lieutenant. Gault had done that once before 
on Heaven when it was first ready to be colonized, and found it 
tedious, but a young kid like Hixon would probably find it to be a big 
adventure. 

Well, it would be an adventure that would have to end. Gault had already
received the communiqué for the Phoenix and it's crew to return to 
Starport. Interstel had a new mission for them, and by the sounds of 
it, the mission was to be largely diplomatic. Gault wasn't sure if he 
liked that. A diplomatic mission was further proof that he was in the 
good books of Interstel. The trouble was that diplomatic missions were 
so boring! Really there would be nothing for the Phoenix to do but look 
pretty in formation while the ambassadors did whatever the hell they 
did. At any rate, a Veloxi transport would carry the two Veloxi to 
Vistrel 1, and then a Mechans ship would take the two bugs and Hixon to 
Heaven and drop them off at Gault's retreat. They would then board the 
Phoenix, which was one hundred metres away from the cabin, parked in a 
clearing, and fly back to Starport to accept their new mission. It 
stuck in Gault's craw a bit. Interstel was supposed to be a 
corporation, a private company, but more and more it seemed to become a 
military organization. Gault wanted to explore space, in his own way, 
on his own terms. He didn't mind having to report to a larger body, but 
he did mind the constraints of working for a new kind of Navy. At least 
he knew he could come back here and retire someday. 

He went inside his cabin and made himself some lunch. An hour later, the
Mechans ship arrived, and dropped his crewmembers off with him. The 
Veloxi chatted to each other as they approached the cabin, while Hixon 
carried the translator box so he could listen in to the conversation. 
Gault came out to meet them. "So how was Bug Central?" 


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