Chapter Eighteen (cont.)
The old shuttlecraft decelerated out of warp and immediately the threat receivers in the cockpit lit up.
“They know that we are here,” muttered Lieutenant Ciyan Judek, the sole Antaran aboard the Republic
, as he adjusted his controls.
“Chin up, Ciyan,” Sean’s voice came over the sub-space communicator. “If they decide to open fire with that many guns, the odds are you will be dead long before your brain can say ouch.”
“Thank you, Sir, for providing me with that most motivating and fear-alleviating pep talk. Remind me never to ask you calm my jitters again, Commander. And to never volunteer on conducting repairs underway.”
“Fear is a good motivator, Ciyan. Just hold it together.”
Ciyan looked down at his instruments. “They are scanning me.”
“We see it.”
“And now they are hailing the shuttle,” the engineer finished. He grimaced and flicked the communications switch
“We feared that you had been compromised; already we have had an encounter with the dominant species in this region—the species that you assured us were nothing more than vermin, loathed by all others.
The guttural voice paused, and turned cold.
“Vermin do not build such starships, Inderi. What else have you lied to us about, we wonder?
“I am not Inderi. I am Lieutenant Ciyan Judek, of the United Federation of Planets, and I wish to establish a dialogue between my commander and your leaders.”
“Foolish and incompetent. The Solidarity is best served without her presence. You are not the species that Inderi termed human; you are Antaran, as was she.
“Yes. The Federation consists of one hundred and fifty four member worlds, each of which has chosen to voluntarily request admission for their species.”
“A multi-species polity? How . . . unusual. And these humans? Are they members?
“They are one of our founding members. Who am I speaking with?”
“Ah. Not vermin, indeed. You are speaking with the Solidarity of Nephkyrie. Are these humans still a force within your Federation?
“They are a major species within the Federation, yes.”
“And their settlements on our world were authorized by your Federation?
“We had no knowledge of your claim on New Columbia. Perhaps you can speak with my commander . . .”
“Lies. We know our marker was landed; we know it was removed. And now we know the true threat we face.
Ciyan heard the hum of a transporter beam, and he began to twist as an object started to materialize—when White Cloud
’s own transporter beamed him out and away from the shuttlecraft, micro-seconds before the fusion warhead detonated.