The training with individual shield and mental interface continued during the next days. To Raika, it was greatly comforting to see and talk with people on the surrounding projections all the time. It was as if they were not alone in space, and they were permanently among friends.
     One day Najé had a long conference with all his Governors, while Raika contacted Vahlie from her cabin. The two Ladies indulged into “a little chat” which lasted from noon until late into the evening. Raika found out that everybody was interested in that trip, not only for the capital importance of the mission, but also as a scientific experiment regarding living inside a small and confined environment, with only one real person to address.
     “It isn’t hard at all,” confessed Raika thinking that having that many contacts with other people was, in fact, quite pleasing. She added, “but, of course, it is not life as usual.”

     After four equ. days Aton was at the midpoint distance between Ancen and Norghe, and he informed Najé that he was able to present the image of the approaching object. Najé studied the massive construction attentively, and he became extremely pleased with what he saw.
     “Ha, ha, ha! That solves all our problems, Raika! Aaah, ha, ha, ha!”
     She replied confused, “Why do you like it so much? It is monstrous!”
     The Hurran Fleet was a huge monolithic construction formed as an amalgam of FW-Docking Ships, more than one hundred of them, plus tens of thousands of smaller spaceships, all assembled into one enormous, vaguely cylindrical body.
     Najé contacted Gebd and presented him the images, then they both laughed heartily. Other people joined in, and they all laughed a lot.
     Raika was very glad to see them that happy. She didn’t ask questions because she knew they were working, in fact, very hard. Najé and the others were discussing about “waiting for the signal” because, they said, they “could afford to wait”. Then Gebd said that “the boys are on their way” and were going to take the “recalculated positions” within the next thirty equ. minutes. Moments later, Najé closed the connection.
     “Is anybody coming here, Najé?” inquired Raika.
     “Yes, My Dear. About sixty more ships like ours will join us.”
     She asked with concern, “Will the Hurrans agree to that?”
     “Well . . . they will not be able to see them,” confessed Najé troubled.
     “Ah, it is the . . .” said Raika and she left her words unfinished intentionally, waiting for him to continue.
     He explained in a pleading voice, “I told you, Raika, interstellar space is an isolated environment, perfectly suited for . . . Actually, it is the best environment for this kind of . . . applications.”
     “I want to see this ended as soon as possible, Najé!” replied Raika in a firm tone.
     “Me too, My Dear. It will not be for too long—I promise.”

     Soon afterwards, a military officer from the Hurran Fleet contacted them on the interstellar audio channels. He asked for a visual channel, then for their identification codes. The officer appeared to be nervous, as if something was nagging him.
     “What is wrong with him?” whispered Raika.
     Najé explained, also whispering, “It is the ship, Dear. Aton is way too small for what they know about spaceships, and they cannot figure out what it could do.”
     “Will they refuse to talk to us?” asked Raika concerned.
     He assured her, “No, Raika. The ship itself shall act as bait. By now, they should be terribly anxious to find out more about Aton.”

     After a while, the officer told Najé to enter inside one Hurran spaceship. The entrance appeared as a tiny square of red lights on the grotesque wall of the colossal construction. Najé instructed Aton to supervise his manual maneuvers and to correct any mistakes, then he and Raika climbed up to the Navigation Control and took seats.
     Najé made his console alive with manual navigation controls, then he tested them a little. It felt rough and bumpy, and Raika told him ironically that he needed his biological reflexes checked first. Najé laughed, and said it was only the beginning, until he gets hot. Raika replied by asking Aton to supervise carefully Najé’s heating process. Aton explained that each maneuver Najé did was thoroughly analyzed for tolerance within the safety limits, long before it was actually implemented.
     With lots of rough jolts, Najé managed to bring Aton close to the entrance, to sneak the ship in and, finally, to land it with a serious bump.

     “Oh, My! Thank you very much for not dislocating my spine completely, Najé Xallas,” said Raika ironically.
     “Wow! It is the learning curve, My Dear,” motivated Najé while feeling greatly relieved that it was all over.
     “What do we do now?” asked Raika?
     He explained, “Now comes the ugly part, Raika, and also the most dangerous one. Put your helmet on, and adjust your spacesuit to maximum shield protection. Then, be very careful to what I do and say, because I shall transport you instantly back on Aton if there is any sign of danger. Alternatively, you can do it yourself. Aton, start recording images.”
     They opened the entrance gate, then they waited for the access ramp to extend, while watching at the multitude of little soldiers—looking like ten equ. years old children—arranged in an eight rows square around the ship. All of them wore gray combat armors protecting the head and the trunk, and they all kept their weapons aimed at them. Both Najé and Raika agreed on the internal communication channel that it was not a very pleasing feeling.
     They climbed down, then Aton retracted the ramp and closed the gate. A small officer in a gray uniform came to them and said something in a high-pitched voice, while his electronic translator converted his words to the Equated Allied Worlds Language.

     “Do you have any weapons?” asked the officer.
     “No, Sir, we have no weapons, but we do wear defensive shields,” replied Najé.
     The officer turned to one side and started speaking very fast into some electronic device. After a while, he asked, “What kind of defensive shields are those you are wearing?”
     “They are a special design for protection against laser and plasma fire,” explained Najé.
     The little man started another dialog on his communication equipment. Moments later, he asked, “Does your technology contain qenergon or any other radioactive element?”
     Najé replied, “No, Sir. We do not use radioactive elements to generate power.”
     Another dialog with the invisible interlocutor started. After a while, the officer asked, “What do you use to generate power?”
     “The secret of our power generation may be revealed only to your highest ranking Leaders, if I consider our negotiations satisfactory,” explained Najé in a relaxed attitude.
     Long, secret discussions followed, then another question, “Who are you?”
     “I am the President of the Allied Worlds Confederation, Najé Xallas, and this is Miss Raika Madjen, my Official Secretary to the Council, and also my personal Secretary.”
     The officer talked again with the invisible person, then asked, “Why did you bring the woman with you?”
     Najé explained, “Miss Madjen is the Official Secretary of the Allied Worlds Council. Her presence is required to witness the signing procedures. In addition, her signature is mandatory to validate any official document I sign.”
     More talks, and then a long waiting period, then more talks again. The officer turned towards Najé and said, “We need to search your ship: open it for inspection.”
     Najé replied calmly, “My ship will not allow anybody to enter, except for Miss Madjen and I. The ship will protect against any attempts of violation, although it will try not to kill anybody. You may scan with non-intrusive equipment that it contains no radioactive materials. Please be aware that it will self-destruct if, somehow, you manage to force your way in.”
     Talks, talks, and more talks, then the officer said, appearing to be very angry, “Open your ship for inspection!”
     Najé replied with a beginning of nervousness, “Now, wait a minute, officer. Tell your superiors that, if they do not start the negotiations immediately, we shall leave!”
     Long, and stormy discussions followed in Hurran language. At one moment the rows of soldiers made a maneuver as if preparing to fire. More talks followed, then some alarm horns started ringing somewhere, and then additional soldiers poured in: they looked like ants!

     Raika felt a lot of discomfort because of the threat, and then there was a permanent, distracting and irritating mechanical vibration coming from the floor of the Hurran ship. In addition, the helmet sensors warned her continuously that the level of dangerous radiations around them was at the maximum admissible limit!

     “You cannot escape! You will follow me!” said the little officer nervously, then Najé and Raika followed him inside the Hurran ship.
     Scores of small soldiers surrounded them with pointed guns, almost touching them, and Raika thought they were primitive and disgusting. They marched through bare metal corridors for more than forty equ. minutes, until they finally entered a larger compartment having an entire wall made of a mirror polished metal. Guards took positions around them with weapons ready to fire.
     “I cannot believe they are so rude!” said Raika with irritation on the internal communication channel, because she couldn’t hold it any more.
     “I suspect they are scared of us, My Dear,” replied Najé in a gentle tone, trying to calm her down.
     “Yes, but I thought the Hurrans have a certain level of civilization. These . . . soldiers are behaving like savages!” said Raika, then she did something totally unexpected. She turned towards the mirror wall and said in a loud voice, “We are not going to hurt you. Do not be afraid.”
     “Raika, please, do not provoke them,” advised Najé cautiously, also in a loud voice.
     She replied nervously, “Ah, I am sick of this senseless barbaric display of force! I thought these people have brains!”
     “We do have brains, Raika Madjen, and we are not barbarians!” answered the angry voice of an electronic translator.
     “Then, could we, please, talk like intelligent beings in some civilized conditions?” replied Raika, also very angry.
     “We need some time to analyze the situation,” explained the translator.
     “If you need any help with your analysis, we are right here,” announced Raika ironically, then she added, “I am certain it will work much faster.”
     “Come on, Raika, please do not irritate them,” whispered Najé on their internal channel.
     “I refuse to be treated this way, Najé Xallas! This is utterly uncivilized!” said Raika loudly, with revolt.
     He tried to temper her down, therefore he said gently on their internal channel, “There is nothing we can do, My Dear. This could be the way they treat all their guests—
     The entrance gate opened, and a small officer in a pompous gray and yellow uniform entered the room. He said, “I am Unit General Vostes Kuawina. You will follow me.”
     They followed the officer through other long corridors of bare metal, until they entered a spacious compartment crudely decorated with a few small metallic seats and a long, gray metal table. They were invited to take seats.
     “I shall continue your interrogation now,” announced the Unit General.
     “Oh, no, not again!” protested Raika in an exhausted tone.
     Najé decided he should better clarify the situation. He explained to the Unit General in a firm voice, “Excuse me, Sir. We came here invited by Bagres Kuldema, the Arch-Commissioner of the Hurran System, for negotiations regarding the surrender of the Allied Worlds. We shall talk only with the Arch-Commissioner. However, if the Arch-Commissioner cannot find the time to meet with us, we shall leave, with or without your permission.”
     The electronic translator of an invisible interlocutor asked angrily, “Why do you want to meet with the Arch-Commissioner? Do you intend to assassinate him?”
     Najé replied with a beginning of irritation, “We do not kill people, and we do not organize suicidal plots, Sir!”
     There were a few moments of silence, then came another question from the electronic translator, “How can you leave the room without our permission?”
     Najé explained, “We have advanced technologies which allow us to transport aboard our ship. These technologies are built into our spacesuits, and we do not intend to use them to kidnap the Arch-Commissioner. Such an action is completely futile, because another member of the Central Planning Committee would automatically take his place. Just try to think logically, people.”
     The translator replied furiously, “You shall not talk disrespectfully about the Hurran leaders again or you shall certainly die!”
     Najé waited for a few moments to calm himself, then said, “I see that you do not know what good manners mean; therefore, there is no need to continue any further.”
     "Following his words Najé remained silent, and the same was his invisible interlocutor. It lasted for about three equ. minutes, then alarms started ringing madly all over the place. A group of armed soldiers rushed inside the room with weapons pointed at Najé and Raika. Najé got hold of her hand to inspire her with calm and courage.

     After ten long equ. minutes translator’s voice sounded again, that time with barely restrained fury, “What have you DONE to us? WHERE ARE WE?”
     “First of all, stop the alarms because I cannot hear you,” replied Najé. Subsequently, some alarms were shut down, though not all of them.
     “Turn them all off, then listen to me carefully,” ordered Najé calmly.
     The horns became gradually silent, and soon they could hear only the vibrating, background machinery noise.
     “Now, I want these soldiers around us to clear the room,” said Najé.
     “YOU SHALL NOT ESCAPE!” cried the translator hysterically.
     “Escape, from . . . where?” asked Najé ironically.
     A few barking, high-pitched orders were sent, then all the soldiers went out in a rush.
     “Tell us where we are!” demanded the translator with a clear note of masked panic in his voice.
     “You are about one million equ. light-years away from our Galaxy. Even if I tell you exactly where you are, it wouldn’t do any good to you,” explained Najé in a relaxed tone of voice.
     “YOU AND YOUR WOMAN SHALL DIE WITH US!” cried the translator with uncontrolled madness.
     Najé replied in an ironic voice, “Do not be so sure about that, my friend. After all, I brought you here, and I am the only one who knows the way out. Besides, think of what you have left behind, on your Home Planet: Togris. Think about the fate of the Hurran Civilization . . . It may be the fate of the entire Hurran race shall be decided by your behavior during the next few moments.”
     Najé paused and waited for a reply, but there was none. He continued in a very firm voice, “Now, enough with all this masquerade! You have exactly five equ. minutes to bring here Bagres Kuldema; otherwise, Miss Madjen and I shall leave!”
     The electronic translator started in a pleading voice, “The Arch-Commissioner is too far away from you, and he cannot arrive in five equ. minutes—”
     “Four,” announced Najé dryly.
     “Please, Sir, try to understand that the Arch-Commissioner cannot arrive in due time regardless of what we do!”
     “Your Excellency, I am the Arch-Commissioner Bagres Kuldema—”
     “I swear, I am the Arch-Commissioner! Please, Your Excellency, let’s talk like intelligent beings!”
     “Ha, ha! Intelligent beings!” laughed Raika.
     “Please, Your Excellencies, we are civilized people, we have children, we have families—”
     Najé replied amused, “Stop whining and come here, Bagres. Do not keep me waiting for too long.”
     “Yes, Your Excellency, I am coming right now, but we can talk while I come.”
     Najé replied, “I prefer to look into your eyes when I talk to you, Bagres.”
     “You can do whatever you want with me, Your Excellency. My life is in your hands but, please, let my people live!”
     From time to time, Najé and Raika heard fast paced breathing sounds, as if someone was running with difficulty. Najé explained, “It depends only on how you manage to please me, Bagres, if your entire race shall survive.”
     “I shall do anything you want, Your Excellency! We shall be your slaves—”
     Najé interrupted him annoyed, “We do not need slaves, Bagres; we hate slavery.”
     “We shall work for you—”
     Najé interrupted him again, “We do not need your work, Bagres.”
     “Anything . . . anything you want . . . Your . . . Your Excellency . . . ” said Bagres while he was, probably, running with great efforts.
     Raika said on the internal communications channel, “Najé, we should better return to Aton because there is too much radiation around here. Tell him to come to Aton.
     Najé said, “Miss Madjen wants to leave this awful place of yours, Bagres. You will have to come to our ship.”
     “Please, wait, Your Excellencies: we shall not be able to communicate—”
     Najé explained, “I can communicate with you, Bagres, if I want to. Again, do not keep me waiting for too long.” Following, Najé activated both their transports to Aton.
     Once on board Aton, Raika took a seat in Central Command, then she took her helmet off. She sighed, then said with exasperation, “Yuck! That was HORRIBLE! Such barbarians! This is unbelievable!”
     Najé agreed, “Yeah, but it is all over, My Dear. Aton, connect to Sadger, please.”
     Sadger’s face appeared on one quarter-sector. He asked smilingly, “How’s everything going, Najé?”
     Najé smiled back, then replied, “It is over, Sadger. I can do whatever I want with them. Take the ships and start bringing here whatever large Warships they have left in Kugh and Ancen Systems. Tell everybody that we are fine, and in about six equ. hours we shall have the Hurran Unconditional Surrender Act signed and recorded.”
     “Why that long, Najé?” wondered Sadger.
     “Well, you can name it sheer cruelty, but we would like to see these little monsters boil for a little while.”
     Sadger replied amused, “Ha, ha! I think it is going to be very funny.”
     Najé said, “Wait a minute, Sadger, do not leave yet. I have an idea.”
     “What is it?” asked Sadger.
     Najé explained, “I want you to take the Hurran Unconditional Surrender record with you, then broadcast it throughout the Allied Worlds and on Hurran. If there are any fights going on, they should cease immediately.”
     Sadger agreed, “Yes, that is an excellent idea, Najé. It should work.”
     “Well, we still need a document signed by the entire Committee . . .” said Najé thoughtfully, then he closed the connection.

     Raika was monitoring the exterior of the ship displayed on another quarter-sector. She said, “Aton, tell the people outside in Hurran language to leave the hangar, and do it louder, to scare them a little.”
     Aton did exactly as instructed, using a single, very loud, high-pitched syllable. The effect of the command was sheer panic among the soldiers who rushed for the exit gates. Many got trampled, therefore the last ones to leave started dragging them out.
     “How do you like playing God, Raika?” asked Najé ironically.
     She replied nervously, “Oh, I hate it, and I hate myself for doing it! I feel dirty near these people, and I can hardly wait to leave this place and take a decent shower.”
     Najé said cautiously, “We need to finish the job here, My Dear. Do not forget that we have to decide the fate of these people, and of their entire race.”
     “Do you intend to destroy them all?” asked Raika concerned.
     He replied amused, “Ha, ha! Where did you get that idea, Raika? I cannot kill anybody! However, it is my intention to eliminate the Hurran threat from our Worlds once and for all.”
     She asked, “Are you thinking of moving all the Hurrans on one of your Planets?”
     He replied, “Wait a minute Raika. Aton, can you connect to the Hurran communications channels?”
     “Yes, Najé.”
     “Aton, translate my words into Hurran, then send them on the Hurran channels. Record: Bagres, I need the entire Central Planning Committee to come here, to sign the Unconditional Surrender Act. End.”
     Aton executed the command, then said, “You have a reply message, Najé. Do you want to hear it?”
     “Yes, Aton. Keep the connection open.”
     “Everybody is coming, Your Excellency! They are right behind me!” cried Bagres Kuldema.
     Najé replied in a bored tone, “You make me lose a lot of time with your delays, Bagres.”
     “We didn’t know, Your—”
     “Aton, close the connection,” said Najé, then he asked, “Did you mention something about an exodus, My Dear?”
     She replied looking concerned, “Yes. I was thinking of what to do with the people on Togris. Do you think they are all bad?”
     He replied with confidence, “Oh, no, My Dear. There must be a lot of good people among them.”
     Raika smiled sadly at him, then said, “I agree with you, Najé.”
     He explained, “I have nothing personal against the Hurrans, but they do need some severe punishment for what they did. On the other hand, they are . . . too many!”
     “That is a problem, but you have to be careful not to hurt the innocents,” advised Raika.
     In that moment the Arch-Commissioner entered the hangar running. He stopped near the ship, and started saying something.
     “Aton, tell the man outside to wait,” said Raika.
     Aton executed the command, only he did it at the same volume level he had used previously. Bagres dropped to the floor terrified.
     “Aton, lower your voice outside to a normal level,” said Raika.
     Najé asked, “Raika, could you put together the Hurran Unconditional Surrender document?”
     She replied happily, “That is exactly my job, and this time I am going to enjoy doing it.”
     Najé said, “Aton, tell the man outside to make arrangements for seats and tables.”
     Aton executed the command. Soon, then they saw quick movements throughout the Hangar. People were bringing all sort of improvised chairs and tables in front of Aton, and at a certain distance. The Members of the Central Planning Committee started arriving one at a time. Najé waited for a while, to make sure that all of them were present.
     He said, “Raika, I have to go outside and talk to those people. You should not come, My Dear, because they could still be dangerous—”
     She interrupted him defiantly, “I should very much like to see you trying to stop me, Najé Xallas!”
     Najé considered that her reply was sufficiently clear, therefore he told Aton to transport them both outside, in front of the tables, for the sake of the show. The group of senior Hurran Officials appeared to be deeply shocked by their instant materialization.
     Najé spoke in a firm voice, “Gentlemen, I hope you all have translators and you do understand my words.”
     Most of the Committee members nodded in affirmation.
     Najé continued, “As your situation is now, your military power is finished. Soon, the rest of the Fleet you have left in Kugh and Ancen Systems shall be brought here. I am certain that none of you care too much about your individual fates, or even about the fate of your military fleet. All of you are thinking now of the people you have left behind on your Home Planet, of your families, and of your race.
     You have committed terrible crimes, therefore it shall be a punishment!
     Unfortunately for us, civilized people, we do not have the cruelty to punish you exactly as you deserve it. However, that does not mean we cannot find other ways of exemplary punishment. You shall be penalized severely, and many innocents of your race are going to suffer. How many? That, I haven’t decided yet.
     I ask that the entire Central Planning Committee shall sign the Unconditional Surrender Act, one member at a time. You have to come up in front, then speak your name and your political function, and then explain your actions clearly and loudly, because we record these moments. When you are finished, I shall declare the entire Central Planning Committee invalid; your Arch-Commissioner will also be invalidated, and I shall allow one Delegate of yours to plead for the fate of your race.”
     The procedure started immediately. Beginning with the Arch-Commissioner, they all came in front, one at a time, to declare the Unconditional Surrender and to sign the Act.

     When it was over, Najé said, “I Najé Xallas, the President Delegate of the Allied Worlds Confederation, accept the Unconditional Surrender of the Hurran System. I declare the Central Planning Committee of the Hurran System invalid, same as the position of Arch-Commissioner.
     Now, Gentlemen, you have two equ. hours to appoint a Delegate, the best person you can find among yourself, to plead for the fate of your entire race. I advise you to select with the utmost care, and you may appoint anybody—even a simple soldier.”



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