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Tides Of Change: A Starflight Story (standard:science fiction, 8030 words)
Author: BrockleighAdded: Dec 06 2001Views/Reads: 1807/1392Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
The Phoenix is called to broker an alliance with an old enemy of the Empire, a chance to finally stabilize peace in the Arth sector. And all the while changes are about to happen in Gault's life.
 



Tides Of Change: A Starflight Story By Kevin Stasila 

Mark Gault hurried into the Starport Operations Centre and accessed a
terminal. He was already late for his scheduled departure for New 
Scotland, as he and his ship and crew were contracted to deliver 
supplies for an ambitious new undertaking for Interstel: an orbiting 
city. The new settlement, to be called Vell Bralis Nova upon 
completion, was behind schedule, and the ISS Phoenix had won a tender 
to make several cargo runs to provide all manner of goods for it's 
construction and supply. 

While Gault hardly considered his ship to be a freighter, the money
certainly didn't hurt, and it would allow him to afford the fuel to 
continue his explorations once he was finished this cargo mission. He 
knew it was a mistake converting his engines to run on synthenium. The 
proposal from the manufacturer was so damn inviting. Fuel storage would 
be measured in litres, not cubic metres like endurium, and fuel 
efficiency was off the scale. The problem was that the fuel itself was 
so damn expensive. One litre cost three times what a cubic metre of 
endurium went for before Interstel imposed the ban on endurium. 

Gault was still shaking his head as he looked over his notices.
Navigational hazards, help and job wanted ads, get-rich-quick schemes 
and the like, and then he saw the last notice in his inbox. That one 
ruined his day. --- To: Mark Gault, ISS Phoenix From: Starport Central 
Command 

You and your crew are required to attend a briefing today at 1100 hours
in the Operations briefing room. All other missions and activities are 
to be postponed pending your attendance. 

--- 

"Dammit!" That was the first cussword Gault used after reading the
notice and they got progressively worse and louder over the next 
minute. Several other Interstel personnel watched the raving lunatic 
over by the notice terminal, who then finished his diatribe by punching 
the nearest wall. The shock and pain of punching the hard alloy wall 
seemed to bring him back to his senses, and he then used the notice 
terminal to contact his crew, who were waiting for him on board the 
Phoenix. 

"Gault to Phoenix, power her down and disembark. We have a meeting with
the brass in 15 minutes. The New Scotland trip is scrapped for today." 
He could hear the collective groaning of his vocal-capable crew, and 
the disappointed rustling of the Elowan. "Quit complaining and get over 
here A.S.A.P., Gault out." Gault leaned back in the chair he was 
sitting on and massaged his sore fist. He looked back over the notice, 
and it occurred to him that there was no mention of the subject of the 
meeting, which was odd. Usually Interstel spelled out why they were 
screwing you. Something tugged at the back of his mind, telling him 
that he was about to walk into something very bad. He shrugged it off 
and used the terminal to notify Interstel's commercial body that he 
would be unable to undertake the cargo mission that day. He was just 
wrapping things up and hoping he hadn't lost the contract altogether 
when his crew came into Operations. 

"What's going on Cap'n?" Hixon spoke for the crew. 

"Damned if I know," Gault looked at the clock on the notice terminal,
"but we are about to find out. This way, gentlemen." Gault led his crew 
into the briefing room, where he saw the crews of three other ships. He 
recognized Captain James Hambleton of the ISS Cornwallis and his five 
officers, but there were sixteen Veloxi in the room as well, all 
wearing Her Majesty's Royal Navy tunics. This struck Gault as very odd, 
and that something that tugged at the back of his mind earlier, now 
almost yanked his head backwards, telling him something was very, very 
bad. Gault had his men sit down, even the Veloxi members who usually 
stood, and they waited silently for their meeting conductor. Gault had 
a good idea who it would be, and wasn't disappointed. 

Commander Peter Axelson strode into the room and quickly took his place
behind the podium. He shuffled some of his notes, and then addressed 
the crowd. "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Commander Axelson. 
First, let me introduce you to each other," Axelson gestured to each of 


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