Chapter 2: Whispers & Warnings


Chapman’s Folly, August 9th


The battle group sat there in the middle of Bug space, opposite the alien craft, waiting for someone to break the silence.  Ivan Sun and his squadron were set to head out in another couple of hours, but until then, he tried to work out and forget his worries.

We’re just sitting here, Ivan thought, while punching at the training bag.  The bugs on the planets below obviously know we’re here.  Right now, they’re building the mother of all fleets to kill us. 

I don’t know why the admiral is so goddamned determined to talk to them.  Of course, since most aliens we meet just start shooting, I guess it’s an improvement.

As he drilled his frustration into the last punch, the general quarters alarm rang out.  Sun grabbed the towel and ran for the transit tube.  The commander knew that he was three levels up and a mile away from the launch deck where his fighter was.  His sweaty body ran into the mass of frenzied personnel rushing to their posts.  Ivan just made the cramped transit tube before it slammed shut.

Sun managed to turn his sweat-drenched head around to see a lot of faces he recognized.  There were 16,000 Fleet personnel on board the TFS Ares, not including the TI and LI elements that made up the marine element.  However, there were few fighter jocks.  Sun spoke to one or two before the tube stopped and out poured the pilots into the flight deck.  Ivan raced across the deck, scrambling across power lines, technicians, and other pilots.  Finally, he reached his craft, watching the rest of his squadron stumble in.

“Prep craft for launch,” Ivan ordered, “we’ll need to be ready when the deck boss...” 

A squawk came through and the admiral’s voice went out to the entire battle group.  “We have been able to decipher the alien’s transmissions and determine that its intentions are benign.  Their fleet, which is approaching our fighter screen, are refugees from a war with the Vulthra.  To avoid unnecessary conflict, I am ordering the withdrawal of our fighter screen.”

Murmurs went through the flight deck and the thought was the same.  Withdraw the fighter screen?  Is he mad?  Even if they are peaceful, keeping them at arm’s length is the wiser move.

“We will remain at battle stations until I’ve determined that we are completely out of danger.  That is all.”

“That is all?” Prodan mocked.

“We’re still on station, so let’s prep those birds and get ready to jump in five.  Move it!”

The pilots rushed to their fighters, going through the pre-flight launch sequence.  A neural interface was not a simple thing.  Although a pilot adjusted to it, the craft’s comp had to be in perfect working order or chaos would ensue.

Sun went through the checklist without a conscious thought.  This sudden change of events was still upsetting him.  No self-respecting admiral would do this.  Montambo was no fool; his squadron saved the day against the Vulthra.  Why the sudden change now?

Near the end of his check, a pilot closer to the force field, separating the flight deck from open space, called out, “Hey, they’re bringing their ships in!”

Ivan activated a subroutine and the feed from the external sensors popped up on a hologram.  The commander couldn’t believe it; the admiral was letting an entire fleet of aliens park right next to our warships!  I don’t care if they look like freighters; they could be anything!

With fear causing adrenalin to run through his veins, his senses heightened, and so he saw the first of the sailors drop at the end of the bay.

His head turned and saw a wave of faintings, nausea, and screams; the newly recovered having the same glint in their eye that Axe and then the admiral had.

Like they weren’t the one in control.

As the invisible wave was rushing towards them, the commander yelled out, “Emergency launch!”

“What?!” one of his squadron’s pilots called out, but Sun wasn’t responding.  With lightning speed, he immersed into the fighter interface and became one with the machine.  In his feverish panic, the thrusters pulsed too quickly, banging against the side of the flight deck.

Narrowly missing the freighter in front of him, he checked his sensors and saw that half his squadron got out.  I may be mad, Ivan thought, but something’s taking over the ship.

Switching to the squadron frequency, he announced.  “Follow me.”

“Stone, where are we going?” Prodan asked.

“Out of here.  Something’s happening back there and we don’t wanna be near it.”

“Uh, sir... aren’t you...”

Suddenly, Mike’s fighter veered off, then slowly came back.

“Axe, what’s wrong?”

“I think this is a bad idea.  We should head back to the Ares.”

Ivan felt, rather than heard, the change in Mike’s voice.  “Axe, you need to trust me on this one.”

“You’ll lose your commission, Ivan.”

“Rather that than my soul!”

Sun regretting saying it the second it left his lips.  It was the panic in his voice talking.  He was sure the rest of the squadron would turn back.

They probably would have... if Axe hadn’t fired and destroyed one of his wingmen.

The flash flared across Ivan’s sight.  My God, he thought, he’s one of them... whoever they are!

To the three remaining with him, the commander called out, “Full thrust and spread out!  Run for the jump point!”

This time, there was no hesitation; what remained of Lightning Squadron would follow him through a black hole, if only to escape what possessed Mike Prodan.

Axe, meanwhile, moved to match velocities and fired his plasma cannons again; another fighter down.

Sun swung beneath an outlying destroyer, temporarily masking his lidar signature.  Another of his wingmen tried to skirt around the back, and was evaporated by the larger craft’s engines.

Prodan was catching up to the remaining two as they cleared the battle group.  They could only run in the open space between the fleet and the jump point.

“Stone, Axe is gaining on us.”


“He must have cut life support to give his engines a boost.”

“Damn it!” Ivan cursed.  “Well... he can’t keep it up forever.  Continue full burn until we reach the jump point and try and stay out of his weapons lock!”

“No good, Stone.  My comp says he’ll reach us a minute before that point.”

“We can still maneuver, Goat.”

Ivan’s wingman turned his fighter around and hit the thrust.  “Stone, keep running for the point.  Warn the Fleet.  I’ll keep Axe busy.”

“Goat, what are you...”

“Just do it, Stone!  If you survive, there’s still a chance for the rest of us.  GO!”

Sun never cut his thrust; he simply watched as Goat raced back to meet his doom.  Axe had five years flight time and had survived the last Vulthra War.  Goat was an ensign and straight out of the academy.

No chance at all.

Ivan deactivated his lidar and concentrated on flying.  Goat was right; the ensign only has to delay him a few seconds.  Force him to maneuver to dodge his attack and he wouldn’t reach me before I reach the jump point.

Minutes ticked away as he approached it.  The generators would open up a path into hyperspace, but he wouldn’t be able to trust the smaller fighter comp to handle the navigation alone.

Sun knew he was right, as the gate opened into interstellar flight, and many others had paid the price.  Still, with that knowledge, he had desperately hoped he was wrong.


Avalon, Old City


Amanda never liked waiting; that’s why she always arrived late.  Besides, after finishing her morning paperwork, Kait remembered to authorize the immediate production of a broad spectrum of naval supplies, just in case Patel actually wanted them.

When she finally found time for lunch, the Minister of Production snuck out of her office, avoiding her bodyguards, and reached the monorail to take her to the Old City.  O’Kim’s was an exclusive bar near the river, known for its discretion, as well as its strange mixture of Irish and Korean food.

Kait walked into the rich wood-paneled bar and found Villeneuve in a booth near the back.  As she passed a flat hologram pretending to be antique television set, she smiled at Antonio, delicately grazing on a salad.  “Not hungry today?” she asked coyly.

“Merely whetting the appetite,” he replied, forcing down another forkful of lettuce.  “I assume you brought the main course?”

Amanda shrugged.  “If this is the place to eat it?”

Villeneuve opened his jacket to reveal a black device clipped to the inside with a pulsating light.  “O’Kim’s has a good reputation, but I don’t put as much faith in its patrons.  Please sit.”

Kait accepted the ability of his scrambler, just as much as she trusted her own in the heel of her shoe.  She sat down and flashed another smile.  “In the council chambers, you were talking of a possible alliance?”

You were talking of an alliance,” Antonio corrected.  “I was merely hinting at one.”

“Indirectness is our stock-in-trade, M. Villeneuve, but I thought we might dispense with it for once.”

“Why?  Are you running out of time?”

“We all are, Antonio.  When Clarke falls...”

If he falls.  He’s the lynchpin upon which the Federation is based.  The troops are loyal to him alone.  We can not remove him.”

“I’m not saying we should.  Not yet.  But Clarke is old and he may die.  When that happens, we need to be in a position to keep everything together.”

“With us on top?”

“Would you rather have Patel?”

Villeneuve smiled and bit down on another bite of salad.  “Then I guess it comes down to what you want.”

“What do you want, Antonio?  In the long game?”

“Simple.  Free commerce and the Five Acts removed.”  The ugly man leaned forward.  “Finance is always in the red when the government runs everything.”

“What about for yourself?”

“Finance Minister is high enough for me, but absolute non-intervention into commerce is the price for my acquiescence.”

“And what does it cost for your active support?”

Antonio smiled.  “Selection of ministry appointees, approval of general-level officers...”

“The power behind the throne?” Amanda summarized.

“If you prefer to call it that.”  Villenueve took a sip of his beer.  “Considering that you want the throne itself, I would think it’s a small price to pay.”

“I won’t be your straw lady.”

“And although you would make a lovely one, Amanda, that is not what I had in mind.”  He leaned back, folding his arms as he stared at her.  “You wished to dispense with the verbal fencing.  Very well.  Let me be frank... I don’t trust you.”

“Naturally.  I don’t trust you either.”

“You see our dilemma.  We don’t trust each other, but we recognize each other’s power.  Therefore, the solution is obvious.”

“It is?”

“Yes, we need another person to balance us.”

“A triumvirate?”  Kait’s eyes bulged.  “You want to restore everything to the way it was before the last civil war?”

“Not everything.  For instance, I don’t want the Raptors, Internal Security, or any other kind of secret police force.  I’m tired of dealing with their kind.”

“No more spies?”

“No, of course, not.”  Villeneuve smiled.  “We’ll each have our own spies, of course, but it won’t be centralized.  I don’t want another Rashid King to appear.”

Amanda unconsciously shuddered at the name.  King had been head of Internal Security right before the 3rd Civil War, then tried to seize power for himself until another coup raised up Clarke.

“A true balance... between three people?  It could never last.”

“It did last in the early days of the Federation.”

“They were fighting the Bugs.  You don’t fight amongst each other when there’s a threat.”

“Now who’s being naïve?”  Antonio raised his eyebrows.  “Three civil wars, Amanda, and they were all done under external threat.  Hell, Clarke has kept the thrice-dammed Five Acts in place by constantly being at war!”

“You can’t blame Clarke for the Vin Shriak or the Vulthra.”

Villeneuve finished his beer and rose to stand.  “I’m sorry... I thought you wanted to get rid of the ol’ buzzard.”

“Antonio, sit down,” Kait moaned.  “I get your point.  I’m sure a triumvirate could last.”

“Nothing lasts, Amanda, but maybe we can set a foundation for a free Federation.”

“I didn’t know you were such a revolutionary.”

“I’m not, but after seeing the other extreme... well, anything’s got to be better than this.”

“I know.  Production is sliding as well.  With Clarke pushing for total war production, we can’t build new factories, and—”

“Save me your sad story, Amanda.  We all have our own.”

Kait smiled.  For a second, the galactic accountant sounded like a Resistance fighter of old.  “You still haven’t said who you want as the third member.”

“We are hardly ready to make our move.  We need time to get our pieces in position.  The third man will appear when the time is right.”

“I don’t like uncertainty.”

“Politics is uncertainty, Amanda.  How you manage it shows how good you are, even if it’s hard to stomach.  Drink?”


Jennifer’s Star, August 10th


Homebase.  Garrison Duty.  Downtime.  Whatever the brass decided to call it, Demar was always glad to get it.  Sure, the grunts always complain about missing out on ‘the action,’ but those were the newbies talking.  Port Arthur was not a true battle, he knew.  Picking off untrained civilians might be a challenge, but it’s nothing against troopers in power armor.  Action?  Heh, they haven’t seen action yet.

Not that I want them to, either, he thought.  I need time to train these fresh faces on how to survive before the next disaster strikes. 

The New Paris burned through the atmosphere to make its landing on the planet’s only military spaceport.  Their ship was a small planetary landing craft, capable of maneuvering inside and outside an atmosphere.  It easily made the descent and landed with a minimum of gravity pull.

Palencia was never happier to see the sun.  As his platoon roamed out of the craft, waiting MP’s guided them to an entire complex of empty barracks.

The place was enormous; the hall of beds was only one of many on base, and his entire battalion only filled one corner of it.

“Now don’t get too comfortable,” the MP warned.  “We just got word that the Ares has been called back from the Bug front.  So all of their troops are going to bunk here, too.  Enjoy the space while you can.”

Demar acknowledged with a grunt, then turned back to his platoon.  “You heard the man.  Get your gear stowed, put down all your teddy bears from Mommy, and then file back to the New Paris.  Since we’re going to have guests, I want our suits in the local armory today.” 

“Come on, sarge!” Phillipe whined.  “We just got off the boat!”

“You’ll have plenty of time to drink all the booze in town before those Fleet boys get here.  Now move it, maggots!”

Despite a whole barrage of groans and sighs, his platoon was heading out the door right as Demar's commanding officer arrived.  “What’s going on here, Palencia?”

“They’re just stowing their gear, sir.”

“I can see that, sergeant.”  The lieutenant gave him a questioning stare.  “But why are they headed back to the ship?”

“Equipment, sir.  It needs to be secured here on base.”

“A little quick on the draw, aren’t you?”

Demar had no idea what he was talking about.  Probably watched too many 2-D vids, he figured, and shrugged the comment off.  “If the New Paris needs to take off on another mission, it’ll take our suits and gear with it.”

“There’s no war on...”

“You should know better, sir.”

What did you say?”

The sergeant realized that he let his frustration slip.  His anger focused on his CO was starting to show.  “I mean, sir, that fights can start without warning.  Better to be prepared.”

“And I know that my platoon has been out in the field for a few months.  They need recreation.  I’m planning on giving them three-day passes.”

Demar bowed his head.  “You’re right, sir.  But let me get the gear off the ship first.”

“Fair enough.”  The lieutenant strode off to the officer’s barracks.

Time off will do them good, Palencia thought, but I’ve got a feeling that all hell’s about to break loose.

Oh, well... might as well relax in the eye of the storm.


Avalon, Patton Base


Miranda hadn’t slept in two days.  The problem of the ethereal scan drilled at her brain and wouldn’t stop.  Her initial hypothesis, that an awakened was holding sway over this dead soul, had been destroyed within the first twelve hours.  Well, she thought, at least a human mage.  Then she ran through all the known alien brain patterns and possible hybrids to make a match.  Nothing.  Then she widened the range of attributes, guessing that there might have been some arcane interference.  Even that failed to match.

Thus passed the first day.  She spent the next exhausting the Federation’s galactic databases trying to find a match.  As a second day was passing without success, Dr. Mayfield shifted into the archives.  While sifting through the results, one of them caught her attention.

Normally it wouldn’t have; it was a military psychiatric evaluation that had only recently been declassified.  The search wouldn’t have found it only a few weeks earlier.  It was a record that had been found in the old Internal Security files, later turned over to the Raptors, but it had originally been in the TI mainframe.

The strangeness of the file’s history might have been enough to attract her curiosity.  The fact that it had previously been beyond her security clearance intrigued her to read on; only the head of the intelligence agencies and Grand Council members had higher access.

It read like a horror story; something you would see on the upper-band vid channels.  A platoon of kids had found themselves on a ghost ship, which led them to release an object named simply the “Orb.”  The release of this object caused a chain reaction which altered the timeline, leading to an invasion of the Federation by a race known as the Caal.

The race’s description was what matched the search filter.  They apparently had no physical form; they only existed by feeding from one host to another, surviving on their emotions.

After that, however, the story unraveled so much as to be completely unbelievable.  To stop the invasion, the Orb was removed from this universe, disintegrating the alternate time line, and leaving the adolescents back in our timeline—but their previous roles had changed.

The incredible story ended there, but a lot of the details were missing.  Miranda scanned through the whole of the file and realized that the names of the participants had been blanked out.  It took no time for her to decrypt a forty-years-old government file.  Soon all the names reappeared, after being hidden in the margins of the electronic file.  The doctor immediately saw whose psychiatric evaluation it was: A.C. Eddington.

The name sent a shock through her body, eliminating all vestiges of sleep from Mayfield’s mind.  Eddington, she wondered, not the Eddington?  She quickly ran back through the revealed names of the story.  Eddington, Clarke, Harrington, Spencer, Fox... the same names that are listed in the history books—the power brokers of the Federation right before the 2nd Civil War.  These were their children!

No wonder it was kept quiet, Miranda realized.  After all, if this file had been released, the madness of their offspring would have caused a scandal throughout the Federation.  The brokers were all listed there.  At the time, Lwan Eddington, A.C.’s father, was Marshal of all Federation Armed Forces.  Maeve Harrington was the head of a multi-billion-credit business empire.  Fox was the head of Internal Security.  Spencer was the Fed’s leading arcane researcher, and even Chairman Clarke was there... though at the time, he was only a colonel, commander of the fledgling Raptor division.

Despite the players involved, she had to agree with the evaluator’s synopsis: mad as a fucking hatter.  The story was too fanciful, too outrageous to be true.  Even if an alternate timeline could be created, how was someone able to remove the one element holding it all together?  For that matter, why should these ‘Caal’ be able to leave that timeline in the first place?  And if the story was true, Miranda thought, the Caal never came back because the Orb was removed from our universe.  So how can this match what I see on the ethereal scan?

The answer she had found only left her with more questions than she started with.  Yet after all this searching, it was the only thing that fit.  There was only one place to turn: the person who brought the question to her in the first place.  Colonel Vin Dane.

With an unconscious flip of her hand, a vid screen appeared before her.  “Vidcom Vin Dane, Avalon, Hyperion Sector West, 7874-2681.” 

The comm program beeped for several moments as it patched the call through.  Finally Vin picked up the call, obviously roused from sleep.  “This better be dammed... Miranda?”

“Vin, I need to see you.”

His eyes glanced over to the side, then came back.  “Do you know what time it is?”

“The time stamp says 3:00 AM, Capital Standard.”

“Can’t it wait?”

“Look, you wanted answers about that scan—”

“Vishnu on a fucking stick!  This is an unsecured line!”

“Fine, I’ll meet you at your house.”

His expression softened.  “Of course, Miranda, you’re always welcome...”

“Then when we talk, I want some answers of my own.”

“You know what it is then?”

“Yes.  I’ll see you when I get there.  Discom.”


Even at night, with few commuters on board, it took Miranda an hour on the monorails to reach Dane’s place.  The doctor always wondered why her friend chose to live in the farthest extremes of the planet.  The colonel lived on a small island near the southern polar region.  Even the monorail only reached the nearest peninsula; luckily, there was an aerodyne waiting there with a driver to fly her over.

Once they landed, Dr. Mayfield shivered in the brisk air between the vehicle and the cabin.  She quickly ran to get inside.  When she shut the door behind her, Dane was waiting for her, dressed in a robe.  “I was wondering how long it would take.  I’ve been waiting for you to rush into my arms for years.”

“Activate your comp.”

“Not our usual foreplay, but...”

“Vin, I’m serious.  Activate it.”

The colonel shrugged as he revealed the disguised hologram projector.  Soon enough, the rotating icon of Military Intelligence hovered above the fireplace.

“Computer,” Miranda spoke, “open link to personal local net account Mayfield, Miranda Ann.  Password: Seventy times seven.”  The icon disappeared and a bare account listing took its place.  “Open last incoming message.”

The letter appeared and Dane read with amusement.  “Congratulations, you have won an all expense paid trip to—”

“Decrypt message,” the doctor said, ignoring his reading.  “Use cipher seven-nine-six-B.”

Suddenly, the tourist ad disappeared and was replaced by the government file Miranda had found buried in the archives.  “Read it.”

The colonel stood and looked at it carefully, reading over the file until it was finished.  When he was done, Dane lowered his head and sighed.

“You knew what that thing was before you gave me the scan, didn’t you?” Miranda asked.

“I had a theory.  I needed you to prove it.”

“So these Caal are real?”

“Quite real... and quite dangerous.”

“According to the file, the timeline collapsed and stopped their invasion.  So how can they be here now?”

Dane deactivated the hologram and sat down.  “I could say that the Caal existed outside of time and space, but that’s not exactly true.”

Mayfield sighed.  “So what is true?”

Vin held up his hand.  “Miranda, please—”

“All I want is the truth.”

He smiled, an automatic response for him, but there was something uncertain behind it.  “I spend my whole life hiding secrets.  It’s hard for me to reveal them instead.”

The doctor opened her mouth; a reply was begging to be said, but she closed it instead.  Is that fear in his eyes? she wondered.  I’ve known Dane all these years, and I’ve only seen him frightened once... now twice.  Something inside, however, told her that it wasn’t a fear of the Caal, but of something else.  She sat down beside him and listened.

“The Orb,” Dane began, “is a sort of arcane beacon that can be felt throughout the universe.  You just have to be sensitive enough to feel it.”

“Then why haven’t I felt it before?”

“You have to know what you’re looking for, otherwise it fades into the background, like static.”

“So these Caal were after the Orb?”

Vin shrugged.  “The Federation was just in their way.  When the Orb was taken out of this universe, the Caal were sent back to where they were before, as they had no pull to this sector of space.”

“So why are they coming back?”

Dane’s eyes darted back and forth across the room.  “We don’t know that for certain...”

She put a hand on his knee.  “Vin, you wouldn’t have come to me if you weren’t.”  Miranda leaned forward to look into his eyes.  “Tell me.”

He sighed.  “Ten years after that report was made, the Orb reappeared on G2...”

“The prison colony?”

“Yes.  Luckily, the man who found it recognized it for what it was.  He didn’t have the power to remove it again from time and space, so he placed inside a containment device, which shielded its presence.  During the brief time it emerged, however, a Bug fleet appeared to capture it.  This prompted a prison break, where our unlucky man was aboard, and he took the shielded Orb back to the Federation.”

“A Fed prisoner took it back to the Federation?  Why?”

“Because he believed they had the power to protect it.  Through his connections, a special depository was constructed on New Tokyo—”

“Wait a minute,” the doctor interrupted.  “An escaped prisoner was able to get the Fed to build a depository?  Who was this guy?”

“It’s not important.”

“Come on, Vin, this story sounds even less believable than what those kids made up.”

“They didn’t make it up.”

“Then who was the prisoner, huh?  Who had enough pull to get something like that built on one of the major systems?”

Finally, Dane relented.  “Lwan Eddington.”

Mayfield snorted out a laugh.  “You’re kidding.  Everyone knows that after he was convicted and removed as Marshal, he escaped, then went missing right as the 2nd Civil War broke out.  Everyone knows that story.”

“But what they don’t say was that he was captured again, placed very quietly on G2, and left to rot.”

“By whom?”

“Arthur Clarke.  Colonel Clarke, back then, but he still had a grudge against Eddington.  That’s why he dumped him there.”

“But Eddington... of course, the Marshal would have known about it.  It was his son who filed the report.”

“And one that the authorities could believe,” Vin finished her thought.  “However, in the last days of the 3rd Civil War, another man broke into this depository, stole the Orb, and once again revealed its power.”

“Why?” Miranda asked, then shook it off in favor of a better question.  “How did he know it was there?”

“He stole it for its power.  What more do you need?”

“But how did he know it was there?”

“Simple.  Someone told him.”

“Who?  Lwan?”


“Then who?”

“Miranda, the Federation is not without its leaks.  Any number of people knew why the New Tokyo Depository was built.  When that information passes into some... rather unscrupulous hands, they told the man who stole it where it was.”

“Who did steal it?”

“A man by the name of Xavier Pollos.  He was an assassin before the 3rd Civil War on New Madrid...”

“Rough spot.”

“It gets better.  Turns out he worked for Internal Security during the war, until he helped stop their coup and killed Rashid King.”

He killed King?  He must have been powerful.”

“He was.  Then he left Avalon, determined to increase his power by any means.  He was obsessed with becoming even more powerful.”

“So somebody told him about the Orb.”

“Yes.  When he finally got it, he managed to wipe out half the K’Nes fleet over New Tokyo, and a large part of their invasion force... singlehandedly.”

Mayfield paused in awe of something that powerful.  “What is this thing?”

“Our best guess is that it’s a controlled pocket of unreality, conforming to whatever shape its owner desires.  Its power is immeasurable since it has the ability to unmake reality around it.”


“What’s bullshit, Miranda?  You and I unmake reality every time we cast a spell.  The only difference is that this Orb naturally does it, and to a degree that you and I can only dream of.”

“And this thing is on the loose?”

“Somewhere within the Federation.  We’ve had sightings of Pollos several time in the past twenty years, but nothing we can track him with.”

“So the Orb is powerful.  But why would the Caal, a race of creatures without even bodies, travel all this way to get it?”

“It can take any form its owner wants, remember?  That means that with the Orb, the Caal can make bodies for themselves that will not be drained of energy when they inhabit them.  Simply put, the Caal will live again.”

“And when they do, they’ll take over the universe.”

Vin nodded.  “That’s why it was vital that I knew if I was dealing with the Caal or not.  If we have enough warning, humanity may still have a chance, and we can be prepared when they strike.”

“I see.”  Miranda was about to accept this information, but one question still nagged at her.  “How did you know about the Caal?”

“They’ve been an obsession of mine all my life.  The stories have come down through my family for generations.  For years, I thought they were myth... but then I saw that scan.  I realized that the invasion had come.”

Dr. Mayfield was skeptical.  “Why do I feel like you’re holding something back?”

Colonel Dane smiled.  “Well, I did warn you.  I’m not good at telling the truth.”


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Text Copyright © 2002, 2011 by Marcus Johnston.  All Rights Reserved.
Do not try ANY of this at home, or you'll be put in a empty room with pillows on the walls and given a nice white sweater that makes you hug yourself.