The report about the damaged Trans-States Drive destination generators was presented to the Arch-Commissioner Bagres Kuldema one Hurran day after he received the Allied Worlds response message to the Ultimatum. That incident was a serious blow to the Hurran strategy, therefore the Central Planning Committee was quickly mobilized onboard “Vanquisher”, to analyze the situation.

     The Arch-Commissioner asked in an angry voice, “What I want to know, in the first place, is who or what has damaged our destination generators?”

     The Arch-Commissioner was a tall solid man, compared to the average Hurran people. His face, displaying a gray skin color and flanked by a pair of big all-black eyes, was considered “majestic” by those who used to praise the Hurran Government. However, the plain truth was, Bagres looked very much like any ordinary Hurran who had benefited for many years of a various and very healthy diet. Of course, excepting a few high-ranking officials, ordinary Hurrans never got a various nourishment, or even a healthy one.
     Bagres was very young, as a leader, at eighty-seven Hurran years, and he was a great patriot. He truly believed in the glorious future of the Hurrans, and his inner drive was to become the greatest Arch-Commissioner who ever lived no matter what. Bagres followed to the Arch-Commissioner Nerles Tudhenna, who died of old age at one hundred twenty-seven Hurran years.
     Due to senility, during his last ten years of ruling Tudhenna allowed the Hurrans an easier life, and the discipline went rather loose. Therefore, after Tudhenna died, the Central Planning Committee had elected Bagres Kuldema in the highest power position, because he was the youngest among them, and also the most intransigent. Over the years, however, Bagres turned out to be a little too intransigent to deal with, especially for the members of the Central Planning Committee.
     Since he enjoyed a privileged position, the Chief-Commissioner of the Central Planning Committee, Murr Hurdhen, was the only one who dared having direct contacts with an angry Kuldema. It happened that Hurdhen was the oldest member of the Central Planning Committee at one hundred twenty, and he was loved and respected by all Hurrans.  Bagres himself showed him some consideration because Hurdhen was, without doubt, very wise. Besides, he expected the Chief-Commissioner to die—with his love, respect, and all—fairly soon.
     Murr Hurdhen answered, “Your Excellency, our engineers report that the destination generators have been damaged before they reached the mid distance between Ancen and Norghe. The accident happened to all generators in the same time. This particular type of accident is consistent with an energy-mass cohesion disruption, caused by a strong depolarization vector within a very low density though highly ionized gaseous cloud: a rare but a natural phenomenon. The accident was triggered by generators’ Infra-Space Drive engines, when they entered the gaseous cloud. They also report that the space has been permanently monitored for spaceships activity, and there was none close to the generators.”
     “A rare, natural phenomenon . . .” repeated Bagres thoughtfully. After a brief pause, he asked, “How long it takes to replace the lost generators?”
     “Our engineers estimate they can build forty-two destination generators for a single Trans-States Drive deployment point in about two hundred Hurran days,” replied Murr Hurdhen.

     Two hundred Hurran days was way too much time for the enemy. Bagres was thinking that the chances of victory began slipping away from his fingers. All his efforts up to that moment had been targeted towards conquering Norghe System—the richest and the most powerful System of the Allied Worlds. The Kugh and Ancen Systems together were nothing compared to Norghe System. Bagres was certain that Norghe System was more than capable to replace all their lost Defense Forces in two hundred Hurran days.
     “Is this a threat, or a warning from Destiny?” thought Bagres. He had been told all his life by the foreseers that he shall rule over alien lands, and those predictions had been his hidden personal momentum towards the War. Such a dangerous War! He didn’t dare to even speculate about what would happen to the Hurrans if they failed to conquer Norghe System. Without Trans-States Drive generators they had to move the Fleet using the interstellar Infra-Space Drive engines, which meant about seven Hurran days of being in the open space, perfectly vulnerable!
     If the Allied Worlds were thinking to retaliate, that was the best possible moment because his enormous Warships were consuming way too much qenergon when they used the Infra-Space Drive engines. The Hurran Fleet had already loaded qenergon to the maximum limit admissible, therefore adding anything extra meant either irreversible contamination by deadly radiations, or even destruction by chain reaction.
     Even worse, his man inside the Allied Worlds Council had been replaced by Dr. Najé Xallas! Bagres feared Dr. Najé Xallas more than the entire Allied Worlds Confederation due to the rumors the man possessed extraordinary technologies. He knew very well that Dr. Najé Xallas had never developed military weapons, but that situation could change rapidly if he delayed the attack.
     He said, “I want a tactical analysis regarding the displacement of the Fleet towards Norghe System.”
     “Your Excellency, our Tactical Analysts indicate that we have two viable solutions,” explained Murr Hurdhen, “The first one suggests that each FW-Docking Ship needs to load extra quantities of qenergon, and they shall navigate at minimum two times the safe distance from one another. This solution was awarded a quality value of twenty percent because, if the Allied Worlds attacks while we are in the open space, we may sustain capital damages: any intentional or accidental addition of qenergon could start the chain reaction.
     If the enemy finds out about the extra loads of qenergon—and that is easy to understand given our Fleet configuration—they could initiate suicidal attacks. With a minimum number of two hundred twenty-five small ships targeted against our FW-Docking Ships, the enemy could destroy the entire Fleet. In the best case scenario, if we arrive at Norghe with this formation we shall have consumed almost all reserves of qenergon.
     This solution is energy consuming, dangerous, and it will contaminate the Fleet with radiations beyond repairs. The Fleet shall become unsafe for future use; therefore, it needs to be abandoned right after the attack on Norghe System.
     The second solution it is more complex, but safer, with a quality value of seventy percent. The main inconvenient is, it will add three more Hurran days to the trip, but the good part is the Fleet will not be irreversibly contaminated by radiations.
     We shall have to assemble the Fleet in the ‘Monolith’ configuration, and we could use only the engines of the smaller ships to drive the entire Fleet. In this case, we consume seventy-five percent of the existing qenergon, but we shall be left with a lot more compared to the first alternative. The radiation danger remains close to the safe limit, and in case of an attack in the open space we shall survive, although we could sustain heavy damages due to the Monolith configuration.
     Your Excellency, the Central Planning Committee recommends the second solution.”
     That analysis was nothing new to Bagres, because he had analyzed it before the Committee did. However, Bagres didn’t like any of the two solutions; he wanted an alternative. He said, “I understand that, in the second case, if the enemy attacks, they could inflict serious damages.”
     Murr Hurdhen replied, “Yes, Your Excellency, but the Fleet will survive, particularly due to the Monolith configuration: the ships arranged on the exterior will act as shields for the interior ones. Even if we are left with only fifty percent of our actual fighting capacity, we are still capable of a total victory in Norghe System, now,” replied Murr Hurdhen, and he accentuated, slightly, the last word.
     That “now” word worked like a tonic for Bagres. He decided, “The enemy must not find out about our weakness. We need to act fast, because we lost the Trans-States Drive technology advantage. We shall arrange the Fleet into the Monolith configuration as soon as possible, then we immediately commence the deployment towards the Norghe System.
     We shall deceive the enemy by accepting their Surrender in space, and we shall inspire them with false hopes of negotiations. In this way, they should delay any violent action until they get the result of the negotiations. Naturally, we shall delay those negotiations for as long as possible.
     Offer an audience to the President Delegate of the Allied Worlds, and make allusions about favorable negotiations. He is to come with maximum two people in his escort, on a small ship, and he shall meet with us in space, at the midpoint distance between Ancen and Norghe.”
     Raika was the first one to receive the response message from Hurran Central Planning Committee, and she rushed to forward it to Najé. He was in a secret conference with the other ten Delegates. When he heard the news, Najé stopped the discussions saying, “Excuse me for interrupting you, Silen. We have just received the reply message from Hurran Central Planning Committee. Could you, please, read it to us, Miss Madjen.”
     Raika read, “To Dr. Najé Xallas, the President Delegate of the Allied Worlds Confederation. You are instructed to meet with Hurran Central Planning Committee and with the Arch-Commissioner, His Excellency Bagres Kuldema, in space, at the midpoint distance between Ancen and Norghe Systems, to sign the Unconditional Surrender Act. You must come in one small unarmed spaceship, and with an escort of maximum two persons.
     In consideration for the memory of the great Dr. Gorkun Xallas, the Arch-Commissioner Bagres Kuldema is going to listen kindly to a plead for clemency.”
     Najé said, “Gentlemen, I have urgent business from now on. Jeolan will act as President Delegate in my absence, and he will take control of all our actions during my temporary or permanent leave. Please, cooperate with him with the same trust you have cooperated with me, and do not forget that WE MUST WIN, no matter what!”
     He took some time to talk with the Delegates, because each wanted to express a few encouraging words, then he asked Raika and Jeolan to join him, in his suite.

     Najé said, “This is the time for action, Jeolan, and you know very well what you have to do. I am leaving my personal commgate to you, so that you will connect to Gebd Noraieb, or to any other Governor from Gorkun City, at any time. Listen to them, Jeolan, and never think for a moment that you are the President Delegate when you talk to them, because they are a lot more than what you are.”
     “I understand perfectly well, Najé,” assured Jeolan.
     Najé watched him with satisfaction. The Delegate of the powerful Cawa Federation proved to be an excellent soldier, and he always performed exactly as instructed. He advised, “Take good care of my commgate, Jeolan, because I want it back, and do not let anybody get too close to it. For your knowledge, we can detect any tampering with its systems, so do not be tempted, you or your Govern, to do a foolish thing, Jeolan.”
     “It shall never leave my hand, not even when I go to bed, Najé,” promised Jeolan.
     “Good. I know I can trust you, Jeolan. I shall depart with Miss Madjen in thirty equ. minutes, and I wish you good luck. Do not worry, because my people will keep in touch, and they will instruct you on what you need to do at each step.”

Najé showed Jeolan how to activate the commgate and to connect to Gorkun City. When Gebd’s 3D image appeared, Najé asked, “Gebd, is this connection secure?”
     “Yes, Najé. Go ahead.”
     “Send the ship to me, please. I intend to leave with Miss Madjen in about thirty equ. minutes or so.”
     “Done, Najé.”
     “Now, Gebd, please pay attention. I am leaving my commgate to Jeolan. You will contact him whenever you need to, and you will instruct him on what he has to do.”
     “Yes, Najé,” said Gebd.
     “Say hello to Gebd, Jeolan,” invited Najé.
     Jeolan started talking emotionally, “Hello, Gebd. Please rest assured I shall do anything you, or any other Gentleman from Gorkun City, want me to do—anything!”
     Gebd smiled then replied, “That is very good news, Jeolan, because we have a lot of work to do together. Make sure you do understand precisely whatever we tell you to do, and use the commgate whenever you need further instructions. Did Najé explain to you how to take care of the commgate?”
     “Yes, Gebd. I shall chain it to my hand,” promised Jeolan.
     “Ha, ha! That’s the spirit! See you, Jeolan,” replied Gebd amused.
     “Thank you, Gebd,” managed Jeolan.
     The connection closed. Jeolan took the commgate carefully with both his hands, as if it were a precious religious artifact, then he left the suite.
     Najé turned towards Raika and smiled caringly at her. He said, “Well, My Dear, from now on we are going to be alone for a while.”
     She replied in a serious tone, “I should go pack a few things, Najé—”
     He interrupted her, “No, Raika. For this trip you do not have to take anything with you. You are going to find everything you need ready for you on the ship, including intimate articles, packed by our Ladies in Gorkun City.”
     She asked perplexed, “Why, Najé?”
     He explained, “The little spaceship you know is a Warship now. Therefore, each object inside it needs to be previously evaluated, in order to limit possible hazards.”
     “Oh, I see. Well, let’s go,” said Raika casually.
     “Are you not afraid, Raika?” asked Najé deeply impressed by her relaxed attitude.
     She smiled ironically at him, then said, “You know, Najé, I am going to tell you something now, although I am not totally confident I should . . . The truth is, I am very scared since this awful War started, and this is no matter where I am, or what I do. However, the only place where I do find little relaxation is . . . near you. I know I shall feel much better being with you in front of the Hurrans, than alone here, or in Gorkun City.”
     “I intend to take very good care of you, Raika,” promised Najé tenderly.
     She replied in a casual tone, “I know.”
     He smiled at her, then added, “On the other hand, My Dear, we could very well die together in this dangerous mission.”
     She said hesitantly, “If you hold my hand . . . or if you are close to me . . . I shall not be afraid, Najé.”
     He felt deeply touched by her words; he said, “You are a very brave little girl, Raika, and I am going to do whatever is possible to make this mission just an easy journey for you.”
     She smiled intimately at him, then replied, “I know it, Najé. This is why I said I feel safer near you than anywhere else.”

     They went outside the building, and they had to wait for a few more equ. minutes until the little ship came and landed inside the Convention Council Plaza. There was plenty of security around, and a sea of people were watching them silently, with hope in their eyes. They all started to applaud and to cheer when Raika and Najé climbed aboard. The two heroes waved to the people, then the entrance gate closed and the little ship took off gently.



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