(Author’s note)… The continuation of the fourth book in my action/humor science fiction series: The Otherwhere Chronicles. What is that crazy me from another dimension up to now??? Is he really going to lead the tiny allied fleet through the dead husk of a multidimensional being, into another dimension, and into battle against the might of the Black Empire and their millions of space ships? No… way…
“Maybe I will do better than that,” Arthur told the little aliens. “Maybe I’ll get rid of Fahh, and the Keelar can choose a new Doraimee and live in peace.” It was hard to tell if the Keelar were smiling because they always looked as if they were, but now they were bobbing up and down and humming excitedly.
“No more Fahh! No more Fahh!” the two Keelar began to chant.
“Now get on the screen and warn them we are sending damaged ships with many injured aboard back through the hole,” Arthur barked at Lim. The prisoner scurried to obey. Arthur turned down the volume on the translator so it wouldn’t be picked up by the comm unit. He and Gup stepped out of view of the screen and its console-mounted camera.
“Glip, old friend,” Arthur heard quietly in his ear, as he held the translator up to it. Lim was really laying it on thick. The Keelar traitor kept speaking. “We gots big troubles. The captain is killed. Only me and Frak alive. You has to let us come back.”
The Keelar on the screen, who sported the triangular markings of a specialist, was shoved rudely out of the way, and replaced by a Keelar wearing the angry-red horizontal stripes of a captain. The captain’s arms were waving madly, and his six eyes were bulging. “You must be crazy,” screamed the captain.
“Most of ships gone,” howled Lim. “The enemy is coming. Arthur Blacke is coming. Now move ships out of way. I will save all I can.” He sounded really worked up.
Everybody wants to be an actor, chuckled Arthur to himself.
“I have to speak to the Doraimee’s Ministers,” the captain whined. “I can’t do this thing myself.”
Nobody makes a decision in a totalitarian state except the guy in charge, snickered Arthur in his own mind.
“No time, no time,” crooned Lim. “We will need every ship when Arthur Blacke comes for the Doraimee. Long life for the Doraimee!” Lim finished on a high note. Then he shut off the comm screen.
Arthur grinned in appreciation at him.
Gup asked the obvious question, “so now what?”
“I figure I’ll give them a few minutes to get out of the way, and worry about what’s happening over here. Then I am going through the gate,” Arthur said in a somewhat resigned voice.
“What do you mean ‘you’ are going through the gate?” asked Rubar, from where he stood menacingly above the other Keelar who were, unfortunately, too unconscious to admire just how menacing he truly was.
“I have to go on the first ship. I can’t send anyone else if I’m not willing to take the risk myself,” Arthur said with feeling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rubar took this comment with only a very human shrug of his broad shoulders. “Now I need to clear up some loose ends,” continued Arthur, and he asked Gup for a secure comm line to the elephant seal-faced captain. When the line was open, Arthur decided he couldn’t just keep calling the captain that, so he asked his name.
“I am Vitar Nomsinica Devleonis, the 47th,” replied the captain with much dignity.
“You speak English very well,” commented Arthur.
“All the captains have been receiving lessons in your speech. It was deemed useful to be able to demand surrenders in your reality,” replied the captain gravely. “And my people are quick learners.”
“Tell me of your people,” requested Arthur.
“We are called the Dram,” said the captain. “We are a subject race of the Black Empire. What else is there to say?”
“How long have you been subjugated by the Doraimee?” Arthur wondered aloud.
“Since before Fahh, and before his father, the Doraimee Faht.” Arthur almost snickered. The Dram captain pronounced ‘Faht’ exactly like a Boston man would say ‘fart’. “And his father before him, the Doraimee Feht.” You guessed it, this name is indeed pronounced ‘feet’.
“So, a long time, right?” Arthur interjected.
“Yes, quite a long time,” said Vitar without any enthusiasm at all.
“How many races make up the second wave of your attack?” Arthur asked conversationally.
“I am no traitor,” the captain proclaimed. Then he softened his tone. “My family,” he said weakly. Then he told Arthur, “There are thirty-five-or-so races represented in the second wave. We are all trusted.” He made the word sound like a curse.
“Will you fight for me if I promise to do my best to protect your people and set them free? Not just your people, but all the people in the Black Empire. The first wave is fighting on our side now.” Arthur tried to sense the extent of the captain’s loyalty to Fahh.
“What?” the Dram asked in some confusion. “You were wiping them out. How many could be left to fight on your side?”
Arthur explained quickly about the fake space battle, and the captain chuckled ruefully.
“You really have been busy, haven’t you?” said the captain in awe. “There have been rumors circulating about you, you know. All kinds of crazy stories. But Fahh’s Ministry of Truth has been denying them, claiming you were a mere nuisance that would soon meet a violent end.”
“It isn’t just me. It’s my friends, and, hell, all the races in this universe,” Arthur said with heartfelt sincerity. “There is peace and prosperity and freedom on most of our worlds. That is what I want for your universe as well.”
“I will fight for you, human, and so will my people, if I ask them to,” said the captain. “But I can’t speak for all the other races, and the second wave squadrons and fleets are kept mixed together with no races in too large a group to keep us from rebelling. Being a ‘trusted’ race doesn’t mean we are trusted very far.”
“Then I ask you to speak to the other captains,” pleaded Arthur. “I am going through the gate, and I am going to make Fahh sorry he ever inherited the throne. But I need your help. At the very least I need you to keep them from taking part in the war on either side. The less ships I need to guard you, the more I have to beat Fahh.”
“I will speak to the other captains,” said the Dram, and signed off.
“Now I just need to get the other Arthur to agree to take me and his ship back through the gate, and we are in business,” said Arthur to no one in particular. He turned up the volume on the translator and told Frak to be ready to start sending ships through the ‘hole’ when he got the signal.
“No is possible,” came the unwanted reply.
“What do you mean?” asked Arthur, trying to stay calm.
“We can only use hole in sky when other little ship on other end tells where to go,” said Frak.
“That makes sense,” said Gup. “You need a beacon to guide you. The Shann husk is not really in our reality. It is only a little bit here, and a little bit in all the rest. If you try to pass through without a signal to follow, either nothing will happen, or you could end up going anywhere.”
“What if I take the other spy ship through?” Arthur asked desperately. “It has a transport machine, I could…”
Gup cut him off reluctantly. “You still need an anchor point at each end, I think.”
Arthur thought wildly, letting ideas cascade through his mind. He had come so far. He couldn’t give up now. Then it hit him. He walked over to Lim and asked, “When you get a message on your screen, is there any way to tell where it comes from?”
“No, maybe, is just picture on screen, I guess,” answered the Keelar.
“Have you ever seen the Doraimee?” Arthur asked.
“Not in real person, but on screen lots of times. He likes to give speeches. And orders, lots of orders,” Lim told him.
“Okay, little friend, you did a good job of acting when you talked to the other little ship. Now you are going to put on another little show.” Arthur had a plan, but it was going to require a little bit of luck.
“I not know about acting,” Lim said uncomfortably.
“You are going to pretend to be the Doraimee,” Arthur told him firmly.