BOOK ONE: CHAPTER 17 – High Council

CHAPTER 17 – High Council


For this High Council, there were new Morovian representatives who had been chosen to attend the delegation. Raphael could not sense any enemy frequencies present.  Indeed, the Council Guards had initiated a discrete scan of all participants as they entered into the building.  It was done energetically by specially trained personnel.  A couple of Raphael’s team sat in the public audience section, conducting discrete scans of their own.  Raphael and the others were relieved to discover nothing untoward for the start of the High Council.  Giving a signal to the Council Guard, Raphael notified them “All is well.”  By this time, the captain of the Council Guard had personally apologized to Raphael for any embarrassment he might have experienced during his trip to Alyona Castle.

The following week proved interesting.  One day, while sitting quietly in the Council Chamber and somewhat disguised in modest Morovian garments, Raphael observed the proceedings when the king of BerWare was informed that his complaints against Line Communications Commander Raphael Kantor had been dismissed and the officer reinstated.  When the king made to protest this decision, it was made clear to him that any further discussion would be taken up privately and not in the general council proceedings.  The king had to be content with that for the moment, although his face was visibly flushed.  Stephanus later requested a private meeting with Lord VaCoupe and a small delegation of other BerWarian representatives.  Lord VaCoupe requested that Raphael to attend; it was time to demonstrate to the recalcitrant monarch the realities the entire star system was facing with the incursions of the new enemy forces.

The meeting with the king of BerWare took place in a smaller council room Raphael had never before entered.  It was a beautiful well-lit room with clerestory windows, comfortable chairs arranged in a circle, and some side tables for refreshments and beverages.  Lord VaCoupe took a large chair on one side of the circle; the king took one opposite.  The BerWarian delegates were seated to the king’s left and right.  There was an aisle to allow persons coming into the room to enter the circle so they could seat themselves.  Lord VaCoupe left a seat to his right vacant.  His assistant, Francis, was seated on his left.  Master Edar, Master Li Tzulo, and Eagle Commander Tomás were seated on the right of Lord VaCoupe.  When the delegates entered into the room and sat down, Lord VaCoupe opened up the discussion with the BerWarian king:

“King Stephanus, first let me welcome you personally to Alyona, and thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us.  We understand you are protesting our reinstatement of Raphael DeAires Kantor to his former commission as a Line Communications Commander in the Pleiadian Fleet.  Would you like to delineate your concerns about this young man?”

Stephanus was a tall man, like the rest of his handsome people.  He stood 8’6” and was wearing thin layers of bright native BerWarian robes, with a wide plaid sash around his thick muscular waist.  His blue-black hair hung straight down his back.  He was a massively built individual with a dark beard, piercing blue eyes, a slightly hooked nose, and distinct wide cheekbones.  His aquiline face displayed his irritation stemming with the situation surrounding the disposition of Commander Kantor. 

Despite the fact that his own consort, Claudine VaCoupe Vanairus, her high priestess, Lady Arla, and others had strongly protested his demand to arrest and prosecute Line Commander Kantor, the king was still stubbornly insistent that the young man was responsible for deaths on his planet.  He stood up and addressed those present in a strident baritone voice, refusing to use telepathy: “I still maintain that this… Line Communications Commander Kantor…was responsible for the deaths of people, my people, while he was on the planet several months ago, while the Command ship, The Golden Bee, commanded by Esturias VaCoupe, was present in BerWarian space.”

Lord VaCoupe observed the king as he sat down.  The king’s mouth was set in a surly tight line; it might be difficult to move the stubborn king towards any compromise or solution to this dilemma. 

Earlier, Lord VaCoupe had shared with Raphael his concern that his foster son might actually be in danger were he to leave the sanctuary he had found in Alyona Castle under the protective custody of the High Council and himself, Lord of the Pleiades.  Raphael could be subject to a kidnapping attempt or even an assassination attempt should the king remain steadfast in his desire to somehow punish the individual who he believed caused him to lose face in front of his BerWarian tribal council.  It didn’t seem to matter that Raphael had not ordered any attacks; the king was intent to get possession of Raphael and to return with him under custody to BerWare there to do with him as he chose.

So, Lord VaCoupe wished to demonstrate to the king and his delegation the true events that took place on BerWare and the important role that the young commander was now playing in terms of establishing a means to keep the entire star federation safer from future attacks and predation from enemy forces. 

Lord VaCoupe stood up and announced to the delegation: “I would like to introduce Communications Line Commander Raphael Kantor, formerly of the mothership, The Golden Lion, and now currently performing a special assignment under myself and the High Council here in Alyona.”

Raphael strode into the room, once again arrayed in his silvery white command jumpsuit, with his formal cloak extending down below the tops of well-polished white mid-calf high boots.  In the months since he was incarcerated, he had begun to grow a beard, which was a slightly darker honey gold shade than his carefully braided thick golden hair.  The presence of a neatly trimmed beard denoted his mated status and gave the young man a look of maturity.  He still had his family’s characteristic broad open brow, great blue eyes, long straight nose, and prominent cheekbones, with tight waves of hair pulled back over his finely sculpted ears.  He wore no jewelry or decorations save a small badge indicating his designated rank and planet of origin. 

With all eyes upon him, Raphael bowed to the king and the seated BerWarian delegation, some of whom he had met during the short visit he and some members of The Golden Bee had made several months before.  Upon seeing the young commander, the king started.  The young man had changed considerably in appearance.  It wasn’t just the beard; he seemed more relaxed than before when he visited BerAir and addressed the council, along with Commander Esturias VaCoupe, who was not in attendance this day.

Raphael carefully addressed the council in his best BerWarian – he was a student of languages – couching his address in respectful tones directly to the king: “Your Highness, I regret to hear that I have in some unknown way managed to offend you while I was in attendance along with Commander Esturias VaCoupe and several others upon your home world of BerWare.  As you know, your Highness, I was also born on a desert world and spent many years as a captive before being rescued by the Command.  I was fostered and educated under the direction of Lord VaCoupe himself as I was an orphan without a home or family except for a brother who was a commander in the Fleet.”

“As I grew into manhood, it became apparent to my foster father, Lord VaCoupe, and then later to my instructors that I had within certain unusual gifts which allowed me to communicate with the mother crystals of the great ships, as well as planets, and to walk through the Akashic records.  I was able to “see” events before they happened and to review events long past.  I was able to convey what I had seen by simply sending visions to another via telepathy through the power of my mind.  The Lady Chokama admitted that I should have been a shaman or a priest – but my life took a different direction and so I ended up as a line communication technician on a mothership at the young age of eighteen years, only four years after I was rescued from slavers.”

“Your Highness, I realize that you question whether or not I possess such abilities. I was requested here by Lord VaCoupe so I might demonstrate some of these, although I would prefer to remain quietly in the background to perform my assigned tasks.  I have no desire for attention or to perform in front of strangers.  Since we have been formally introduced previously, your excellency, I do not regard you as a stranger.  I would hope that you gain further understanding of the manner in which the Command has chosen for me to use my particular and peculiarly powerful gifts.”

“Now, I will relate to all of you what I saw when Commander Tazo and his men were attacked when they first visited your village of BerWare after they arrived there to survey the inhabitants and contact the local authorities regarding the recently discovered presence of an enemy base on the surface of the isle.  Remember, I was still on board The Golden Bee, in space when I saw with my inner eye an enemy squadron of fighters heading towards BerWare, a few moments before our ship scans picked up the movement.  One or two of our ships managed to get into the air so they could defend themselves and the village from the impending attack.  Some of the enemy fighters reached the village and strafed the ground sending the Command troops scrambling for safety.  Commander Tazo was hit in the leg, but carried into shelter by one of his Feline warriors, Captain Ulrus. Some of your own citizens were also hit by flying debris; five of our men were killed. Commander Tazo and Captain Ulrus were wounded during the incident.”

“I saw all of this while in meditation… And then I was struck by a vision later, continuing on the “seeing” of what was going on in BerAir.”

The king interrupted Raphael here and asked, “How can you see what is thousands of miles away?”

Raphael smiled, “Your Highness, I wish I could explain it to people who do not have the Sight like I do.  I have had this ability since I was a child.  I get visions while I’m walking down a corridor or standing in a meeting.  They come when they come; I have no control over them.”

“One thing I have noticed – most of my visions presently are set off by the presence or approach of the lower frequency vibrations of enemy vessels or the presence of their artificial intelligence implants with which some of our people on various worlds have been infected.  My home world of Morova, where I was held for ten years as a captive by the enemy, is especially badly affected by the AI plague.  It makes men turn into darkly controlled monsters.  I know – for what was left of my own birth father nearly killed me just before I was rescued.”

There were some gasps from those in attendance, especially from the chieftains present.  They all knew what a sacrilege it was to kill or harm blood relatives.  Raphael nodded and continued, “Yes, it was a shocking thing to experience, one’s own father attacking me with a knife and years before that, selling me into slavery, not once but twice.”

“My lord King, you asked me once how did I recognize the low frequency signatures of the enemy.  I tell you, once experienced as I have by being in the presence of compromised people, you will never forget or you will be dead.  I have stood before several dark lords and watched helplessly as one killed my own mother when I was but a child.”

“And now, I will address your insistence that I caused loss of life on your planet when I was present with the Command delegation in BerAir. 

First, when we were in the private meeting with your chieftains, your mate Lady Claudine, the high priestess and yourself, I pointed out the presence of an agent of a dark lord was present; a chieftain who had been compromised by the artificial intelligence of the enemy.  How he became infected I do not know; I do know the feeling of the presence of the infection as I have been around infected people.”

“How did I escape being infected myself?  Ask that of the Light Beings who look over me.  As a child, I discovered an inner core of White Light and I learned how to gird myself in it to defend against any inroads made by the dark against my person.  I was able to walk out of ten long years of being used by compromised individuals and did not fall victim to the dis-ease myself.

“Now, on the night in question when I saw the approach of an attack squadron headed to the village of BerAir, I contacted my Commander, who in turn contacted his Operations Commander on board ship via telepathy to send out fighters to intercept the attack ships.  As the attack fighters approached, the order was given to shoot them down.  And your high priestess and queen were notified that the town was about to be attacked so your people could be warned to take cover in their sturdy houses.  The enemy squadron was brought down well outside of the village walls; I do not remember any inhabitants being hurt or killed when the ships crashed.  Simultaneously, an attack was ordered upon the enemy position located in the mountains of BerWare.  Any persons killed during that attack were enemy soldiers and their commander, a dark lord.  No BerWarians were killed that I can remember or was told of the next day.  Yes, Commander Esturias VaCoupe may have stepped beyond his authority to make the attack without you or the approval of your Council, but he did so in a wish to keep the remainder of your people safe.  I did not order either attack for as a Communications Line Commander, I do not hold any authority to do so.”

“So, I ask you, your Highness, how can you accuse me of taking life on your planet, when at all times I was in the company of my companions, without arms, and at times semi-conscious as I viewed from afar the events of the attacks?  Please explain this to me and to the members present…”

The king stared at Raphael who was smiling gently at him and blustered, “Why wasn’t I told of the impending attack on the village and the enemy camp?  Your commander stepped beyond his authority to order an attack without my Council’s approval!”

“Well, your Highness”, replied Raphael quietly, “I really cannot answer for my former commander’s actions and the fact that you weren’t notified.  When enemy ships are incoming; it is a warrior’s reaction to act immediately and think afterwards.  I am sure Commander VaCoupe wanted to be sure that the dark lord located in the enemy camp would not send yet another attack, possibly a ground attack on your village or any nearby settlements or oases, in retaliation for the first one.”

“Then prove to me that you can see these things – show us all!” demanded the King.

Raphael nodded, and said, “As you wish…” and sent his vision of the attack on the enemy camp and the approaching fighters that approached the village.  He watched as the king’s face paled at the sight of the ferocity of the enemy fighters and the advanced technology they had in their possession.  When the vision was completed, Raphael closed his demonstration with a question: “Do you think that your warriors as strong and doughty as they are can take on such a foe without the assistance of the Command?  Your people are nomadic, strong, and beautiful, but this is a foe that most of our worlds have never experienced before.  These men are merciless and kill for the pleasure of it.  I have seen them destroy a whole moon with millions of people upon it.  I have seen children sacrificed to their dark gods.  I have been held as a captive and used as a sex slave for years and nearly sold to a dark lord and shipped to their home in the Asab’a system. Do you want your people’s children enslaved by this darkness, killed or maimed in battle?  We all must work together to eradicate this enemy’s presence from our star federation!”

“Which is what this young commander is helping us to do”, another deep voice interrupted Raphael.  Master Edar had stood up and stepped forth, signing Raphael to be seated.  The Master bowed to the King and nodded to the BerWarian delegation: “Gentlemen, I have observed and worked with Commander Kantor for a couple of months now.  I am an instructor in Ship Government at the Command’s University Ship.  I have watched this young man struggle with his health even as he made amazing strides in discovering what was impeding the re-establishment of ship-to-ship communications.  He was able to access records from the future which told him about the thirty-three weaponized satellites which the enemy managed to place within our star systems utilizing worm hole technology.  I realize these things are far in advance beyond your present understandings, even my own, but nevertheless, Commander Kantor understands these things.”

Master Edar continued: “For instance, your Highness, using the methods taught to me by Commander Kantor, when I did a brief energetic survey of your isle, I found the presence of a smuggling operation that has been actively stealing young boys and a few girls.  Can you deny that your people are being affected by the enemy?”

One of the chieftains suddenly stood up and glared at the king: “I told you that our boys were being kidnapped when they were on their vision quests – you didn’t listen to me…to us!  We need the help of the Command to combat this enemy we do not understand.  If Commander Kantor or other members of the Command can help us to protect our people, then I insist that you forgive him and drop all further charges against this young man.  He has bravely faced more danger in his young life than many of us will ever confront unless we fight on the front lines with the Command or allow the enemy to freely invade our lands!”

The king stood up and confronted the chieftain, declaring loudly: “I still insist that Commander Kantor is guilty!”

“Of what, your Grace?” demanded Lord VaCoupe.  “What has this young man done to earn your hatred?  What has my foster son done to you or your people that you seek to persecute him?  Did you arrange to take him into custody and then turn him over to Commander Lantars when you were done with interrogating him?”

At this accusation, the king’s face turned pale and he sat down abruptly.  He stated clearly, “Commander Lantars wanted the boy brought to BerWare so he could enlist him onto his own ship – he told me that he did not want to offend your family by demanding his transfer to The Golden Falcon over Commander VaCoupe’s protests.”

Lord VaCoupe continued on relentlessly with his questions: “So, you sought to destroy this young man’s good name and reputation by insisting he be arrested because another commander did not feel a need to abide by Command protocol?  I watched for weeks the results of the tremendous amount of stress placed upon this young man’s shoulders as he struggled with the emotional and mental fallout brought on by the arrest and the pressure placed upon him by having him been tried and placed under protective custody away from his friends and relatives without recourse to defend his honor.  Do you treat your own people this way, Stephanus?”

Lord VaCoupe sat down and struggled a moment to regain his composure.  “Your Highness, if you were a citizen of my own home world, I would put you in prison for making false accusations and entering into a conspiracy with a member of the Command directed against an innocent, hardworking crew member who did NOTHING to cause the loss of life on your desert planet.  Do I make myself clear?”

The king struggled with his own composure, feeling the heat of Lord VaCoupe’s controlled wrath; he was, after all, the son-in-law of this same lord.  Claudine of BerWare was a VaCoupe.  After a few minutes of sullen silence, he replied in a low voice that was, nevertheless, loud enough to be heard by all in attendance: “I apologize to Communications Line Commander Kantor for whatever damage I have inflicted on him as a result of my misguided actions.  I hereby withdraw the charges I laid against him.”

The king paused a moment and asked, “What do you intend to do with Commander Lantars, if I may ask, my lord?”

“What I do as Head Commander of the Pleiadian Fleet is of no concern of yours, King Stephanus. However, initially, Commander Lantars will be summoned hence and will be asked to answer for his part in this conspiracy against Line Commander Kantor”, replied Lord VaCoupe.  Listening intently to the conversation, Raphael was glad enough not to be the focus of Lord VaCoupe’s wrath today.  He had already felt the lash of the lord’s powerful presence when he had stepped out of line ordering the Eagles and Feline warriors to assist in rescuing the members of the High Council some months past.

Your Highness, I accept your apology and the withdrawal of the charges against Line Communications Commander Kantor”, replied Lord VaCoupe, somewhat more graciously.  “And now, I expect I will be assigning a new top commander to The Golden Falcon in the next couple of weeks after we determine who will make a good substitute for the departing Commander Lantars.  I expect the recommendations to assist your people in the desert communities to be carried out by your own local sources, including the priestesses, healers, and your chieftains. During the recent survey, neither Master Edar nor Commander Kantor was able to discern that any of your people had been helped and that there has been an increase in kidnapped and missing children. You need to keep an eye on your own isle, my lord king, and manage it well for the sake of your unique people.  I am particularly fond of BerWare and wish to see your world and its people thrive.  Cooperate with the Command and allow them to advise you if further enemy incursions take place.  Then you can decide whether or not intervention is needed from the Command on your behalf.  We will be watching the progress made on your planet, indeed all of our worlds as best we can.  The enemy is active so we must be vigilant.  Opposition to Command efforts is to get in the way and endanger your people.  I am sure they would not appreciate any neglect on the part of their rulers and government.”

Lord VaCoupe stood up and announced, “Now, gentlemen, I think this discussion is over.  If you have any further issues or wish to discuss other matters, please notify my assistant Francis and another meeting will be set up before you depart for your home world

Thank you for your patience and attendance today.”

With that, Lord VaCoupe and his entourage, including Commander Kantor, filed out of the room.


At the end of the week, High Council ended and the various planetary delegations departed for their home worlds.  A couple days later Top Commander Lantars arrived, summoned to Alyona by Lord and Head Commander Demetrius VaCoupe.  Head Commander Myka Strom had also been summoned to Alyona for reasons unknown.

When he strode into the small council room, Commander Lantars was surprised to find Lord VaCoupe already seated at a table with several Masters from the University Ship present, including Master Edar.  And to one side was seated Commander Kantor, dressed in his silvery white Command uniform.  The young man looked slightly older in appearance with a new neatly trimmed beard decorating his strong chin.  He appeared well, but did not acknowledge Commander Lantars as he entered the room.  Commander Lantars was escorted to his lone seat in front of Lord VaCoupe. He then understood that he was in some kind of trouble, probably related to the young officer seated next to Master Edar.

While Lord VaCoupe was a gentle, kind man, he was also Head Commander of the Pleiadian Fleet and the Lord of the Pleiadian Federation.  As lord, he was extremely disappointed that a man of Lantars’ standing and position in the Fleet would stoop to such levels as to conspire with a local ruler to have another officer arrested and taken into custody for the sake of claiming said officer for his own ship.  The lord informed Lantars that the plot was known – that the BerWarian ruler had admitted to the conspiracy.  He was told that he could be, perhaps should be court-martialed and broken for his actions in endangering another officer’s life and health, as well as his good name.  As it was being war-time, Commander Lantars was being demoted to Head Commander of a lesser vessel.  He would be assigned to one of the newer battleships being fitted out at the spaceport in Elexa on the Isle of Medina.  Another commander would be promoted to take his place as top commander of the Falcon.  And if Lantars’ did not prove to be an able commander of his new ship, he would be broken, relieved of his commission and discharged dishonorably from the Command.  For a career officer, it was punishment enough to lose his ship and have to command a lesser vessel.

Lord VaCoupe reminded Lantars: “As a top commander, you had the authority to request that Commander Kantor be reassigned to your vessel as you required his assistance.  I understand that my son, Commander Esturias VaCoupe was not eager to acquiesce to such a command if you had been courageous enough to put forth one; however, you had the senior rank and authority to do so.  Instead, you chose to conspire with the BerWarian king to make a complaint against Commander Kantor.  Many witness statements and the King’s own confession has revealed a conspiracy directed towards Commander Kantor, who was innocent of any and all charges of misdoings upon BerWare.  All charges have been dropped against Commander Kantor and his commission reinstated, but only after he suffered greatly in his health after being arrested in front of the command staff of The Golden Lion and brought under duress to Alyona to face trial without the ability to defend himself.  It was only my decision and that of the Council that he was placed into protective custody rather than released into the custody of the BerWarian king and his delegation to return the young man back to BerWare. 

“Line Communications Commander Kantor has proved extremely resourceful while under protective custody here in Alyona, assisting in the reinstatement of Intership communications through his timely discovery of a system of satellites, a type of technology hitherto unknown to us, that were jamming communications between ships.  He also taught these instructors from the University Ship in his methodology used to survey sectors of our star federation, and to drill down to parts of isles that were being affected by enemy activity.  It was during one of these surveys that the details of your co-conspiracy with the BerWarian king were discovered by Master Edar, who is seated here at my left.  Master Edar is an instructor in Ship Government, a subject that you seemed to have neglected in recent months, Commander Lantars. 

“As a direct result of his arrest and incarceration, Commander Kantor experienced difficulties with his health as a result of being hauled away and removed from active duty. It was only by my over-riding the king’s determination to have Commander Kantor returned to BerWare that the young man remained here to perform a special assignment under the watchful eyes of these Masters and myself. Despite his health issues, Commander Kantor has proven highly skilled in his particular methods and entirely useful for the benefit of our entire fleet. It was my decision after witnessing this young man’s dedication and hard work, that he be fully reinstated to his original commission as Line Communications Commander.  And I would imagine that in the future, his unique skills will be utilized in many yet unknown ways to continue improving our fleet operations.”

“And now, Commander Lantars, you are being reduced in rank to Head Commander of a battleship. Take care to remain out of trouble or you may find yourself reduced to a shuttle commander. You are to report to Elexa and await your new assignment. Turn in your old uniforms; you will be provided with ones with your new rank when you receive your new assignment.  And next time, follow and obey Command protocol.  Your actions will be watched, if but from afar. Do you have anything to say in your defense?”

The former top commander shook his head.  He knew he was caught, beaten at his own game to possess the young man seated in front of him who appeared so quiet and mysterious.  Now what seemed so right backfired on him with disastrous results; his career path destroyed and he sent to a lesser vessel in disgrace.  He knew a cloud of disrepute would follow him the rest of his days, but he was too much of a coward to seek to end his life.  He would go, obediently, to Elexa and await his fate there.

As Raphael quietly observed the proceedings, he was glad to have Lord VaCoupe and the other Masters acting as his advocates.  He breathed slowly to calm himself as he caught sight of the man who had wished to possess him from the start after some of his gifts were revealed before the command staff.  It was a price he had always been forced to pay by those who sought to control him or own him like a prized possession.  He was a member of the Command and knew well enough now how to obey and follow protocol.  He knew in his innermost heart he had no desire to hold a top commander position in this lifetime.  There were other ways he could serve.

When Raphael returned to his quarters that evening, escorted as usual by two Eagles, he was greeted by his lovely mate, Julia Kadish; she touched his nose with her finger affectionately and pecked his cheek.  As they sat eating their evening meal together, he related the proceedings of the court-martial of Commander Lantars to his mate, remarking on how different it had been compared to his own arrest and trial.  He sighed, “I hope never to disgrace myself to that extent.  I fear Commander Lantars will never recover from this blow to his career and reputation.”

“He nearly destroyed your own reputation, Raphael, by his foolish actions”, replied Julia shaking her head.  “You were fortunate enough that you seem to inspire your friends to defend your honor and protect you when you are unable to protect yourself.  I hear that your foster sister Claudine, Lady Arla, Commander Esturias, and others strongly defended your reputation and gifts.  And are you going to be able to see Commander Strom tomorrow when he meets with Lord VaCoupe?”

“I will be there – Lord VaCoupe insisted I be present”, replied Raphael.  “It is a wonder – Commander Strom was high suspicious of me when I first arrived as a young cadet on The Golden Lion.  Yet, in time, we became good companions and even comrade in arms for a short time when I accompanied him and Tazo on a few missions.  I fear that time is past for me.  I’m too useful for setting up systems.  Lord VaCoupe also suggested that I speak to some of the commanders in charge of Research and Development to improve ship design in the future.  There is much I can do in the Command that has nothing to do with being on a ship in space.  My life has changed so much in the past year I do not even feel like the same person anymore.”

Raphael reached out to embrace Julia, kissing her forehead, and thanking the Goddess that his soulmate and he were reunited once again.  He felt truly at peace for the first time in this challenging life.

A New Commission

Head Commander Myka Strom had no idea why he was being summoned to Alyona to meet with Lord VaCoupe, but he had a sneaking suspicion it had to do with Raphael DeAires Kantor.  Being head of Personnel on The Golden Lion, Strom was well aware of the recent personnel transfer requests for line communications personnel and Feline warriors to Alyona… all having to do with some special project of Lord VaCoupe’s… where Kantor had been sent under arrest unexpectedly a couple of months prior.  He was on the same transport vessel carrying the line communication staff.  The men who had already begun to train under Kantor were both excited and confused as to the reason behind the request for their transfers.  Line Communications Specialty Commander Charles Lo’Telle was being quite reticent about revealing what he knew, but Strom had good instincts.  He was also aware that Top Commander Esturias VaCoupe was now deeply regretting his decision to comply with the order to arrest Kantor and send him to Alyona for a variety of reasons.  The young man’s gifts could not be replaced on board and frankly there had been almost a crew insurrection on the part of those who did know and appreciate Kantor’s presence on board.  Strom hoped that things worked out for Esturias, but he had a feeling he was no longer going to be involved in reworking crew assignments on The Golden Lion.  He, too, deeply missed Top Commander Lyonell and his friend, Head Commander Ryland. 

Strom had heard from Commander Esturias that Kantor was being reinstated as a Line Communications Commander, only he wasn’t returning to The Golden Lion or for that matter any line ship at this time.  And those co-workers with whom Kantor had worked most closely were being transferred to Alyona.  It was curious, very curious.

As a native Medinian, Myka Strom had never had the occasion or need to visit Alyona.  As the transport ship approached the isle, he gazed out one of the observation decks in wonder; Alyona, the capital of the Pleiadian Star Federation was here, where the High Council met on a monthly basis, and where the Lord of the Pleiades handled his administrative duties as Head Commander of the Pleiadian Fleet. 

When the ship landed at the space port outside Alyona Castle, Commander Strom was notified that an escort of Council Guards would be provided for him.  Noting the stern faces of the waiting guards, he could imagine just how anxious a sensitive man like Kantor must have felt when he was arrested and taken here so abruptly.  Before the death of Lyonell, Strom had been a good friend to Kantor and missed witnessing the young man’s unpredictable gifts and strong dedication to his work.  He hoped he might see him here in the capital before reporting to his new assignment… for it had to be a new assignment that had brought him here, so far away from the Celaeno System where The Golden Lion was currently stationed.

All of Strom’s hunches were proved true when he was escorted into a small council room.  Already seated in the middle of a massive table was the Lord of the Pleiades whom Strom had actually met once on a trip to Medina as a youngster long before entering the Command.  The lord was a tall, dignified, handsome dark-haired man, with a darkly tanned complexion, deep blue eyes, dressed in a comfortable light violet robe draped over a silvery white Command uniform.  Those sharp blue eyes surveyed the commander as he seated himself at the single chair set out in front of the table. 

Lord VaCoupe stood up and greeted Head Commander Strom: “Welcome to Alyona Castle, Commander Strom.  I would like you to meet a few people, some you might know and others you do not.”

The lord gestured to a tall Feline seated next to him: “Commander, this is Master Edar, an instructor of Ship Government at the Medinian University Ship. Master Edar and several other instructors have been here working on a special assignment for me.  I’ll introduce you to the rest in a little while. Master Edar would like to say something…”

Master Edar stood up; Commander Strom found himself having to look up at the tall Feline who reminded him of someone else, Lord Lyonell.  “I and my fellow instructors want to thank Commander Esturias and yourself for sending Lord VaCoupe an extraordinary young man, with whom we have all been learning from and working with for the past month or so… Raphael DeAires Kantor.  I think you know of him,” said Master Edar, gesturing towards a young man with familiar golden blonde hair and bright blue eyes who was regarding him with a serene gaze.  Strom realized that he had not recognized Kantor immediately as he was now sporting a new beard, signifying his new status as a mated individual.  Kantor had not grown out a beard when he was on board The Golden Lion.

Master Edar sat down as Lord VaCoupe resumed his speech: “Myka Strom… yesterday one of the Top Commanders of our Fleet was severely reprimanded and reduced in rank due to his involvement in a conspiracy to have Raphael DeAires Kantor removed to BerWare and placed under the custody of the king of BerWare.  You were aware that the king had made a complaint against the Line Communications Commander for alleged events that took place when The Golden Bee was located in BerWarian space?”

Strom nodded, “Yes I was, sir.  However, not being present when said events took place, I could not immediately address the problem and prevent the arrest warrant from being acted upon by your son, Commander Esturias VaCoupe.”

Lord VaCoupe raised his hand to silence the confused commander and said: “We understand, Commander Strom and are not directing any criticism towards your actions or even those of Commander VaCoupe.  When we heard of this complaint, we knew it was an opportunity to remove Commander Kantor from The Golden Lion and bring him here under protective custody until the complaint pressed by the king was dealt with.  We completed that process just two days ago, when the king was notified that his petition to remove Commander Kantor to BerWare has been denied, given there is no proof available to substantiate his claims. Numerous witness and character references have been made that have substantiated Commander Kantor’s claims of his innocence in the matter.  Pressed, the king also made a confession that he had conspired with Top Commander Lantars, of The Golden Falcon, to bring Commander Kantor to BerWare, so the king would have an opportunity to further interrogate the young man and then turn him over to Commander Lantars, so the commander might place him on his own staff without going through official channels.  This news was shocking to us and serves to damage the reputation of the Command as allowing for fair and open relations between commanders and crew.  A young, talented crew member was treated like a criminal, arrested in front of the entire command staff and extracted from his ship, without understanding what he was being arrested for or being able to defend himself.  We found this situation quite trying and decided to take immediate action to protect the person of Commander Kantor by retaining him here under our protection and jurisdiction.

Now that Commander Lantars has been disciplined for his part in the conspiracy against Commander Kantor, we find ourselves in need of a replacement for the Top Commander position on The Golden Falcon, one of our premier motherships.  Are you able and willing to take up this position, Head Commander Strom?”

Myka Strom was momentarily at a loss for words and then he managed to find his composure, stating empathically: “Sir…gentlemen…I am overwhelmed by this offer, in fact I am stunned.  I can honestly say that I didn’t believe a word of the complaint filed against Commander Kantor, but I was instructed by Commander Esturias to have him arrested publicly.  I am glad that he has been vindicated by evidence to the contrary.  While I was not always a fan of this talented young man, I went on to become good friends with him and was sorry to see that he was transferred to another ship, The Golden Bee.  And when – Lord Lyonell and Commander Ryland were killed, both men with whom I have served for so long – well, that was another blow.  I can say that the past few months on board The Golden Lion have been trying for all remaining crew members as we adjust to our new commander, your son, my lord, and all the other changes going on within our star federation.”

The commander paused for a moment, “Sorry to rattle on, my lord… gentlemen.  Of course, I will accept this kind offer to command a vessel like The Golden Falcon!  It’s just so sudden and unexpected!”

“It shouldn’t be”, replied a light tenor voice.  It was Raphael, who stood up and walked around the table, approaching the new top commander.  “Let me be the first to congratulate a man I was proud to serve under, sir, even if we didn’t get along at first!”

“You young pup!” growled Commander Strom.  “It’s a good thing I’m being transferred to another command or I would be responsible for filling in the holes you and Lord VaCoupe has left in our crew assignments in the Line Communications staff!  Esturias is going to have a hell of a time replacing Commander Lo’Telle, Commander Argus, you, and six well-trained line technicians.  I don’t think half of the command staff understood just how vital those positions are on board a ship, Kantor!”

The two friends grabbed each other by the shoulders and hugged.  Commander Strom was happy to see his young friend safe and healthy; Raphael was happy and proud his commander friend was getting a well-deserved new commission. 

Well, it looks like this meeting is officially over, Commander Strom.  Let me also congratulate you on your new position – a well-deserved promotion to Top Commander!” said Lord VaCoupe.  “And since my foster son has upstaged us all, let us have some refreshments to celebrate this occasion.”

With that, Francis and some servants entered into the room carrying trays of drinks and nutrients for the men gathered there.  The other instructors and Lord VaCoupe took turns congratulating Commander Strom and explaining what had been happening while Raphael was being held in protective custody at the Castle.

Satellites; how did you know about those, Kantor”, asked Strom.

Raphael shrugged, “Usual methods, sir; the information just came to me in a vision… first there were eight and then I realized there were a total of thirty-three of those things!”

“Yes, we had to search for four of them – they are dark-colored, hard to see against space.  Yet, even I could see the strangeness of their appearance and how they felt – really creepy.  I understand a little now how Kantor has a difficult time scanning for those energies now!  And those things made a terrific explosion when we hit them with missiles!”

After refreshments, Raphael and the others took Commander Strom to the tower where they had been performing the scans.  Raphael gave a demonstration and explained how he used the great Mother Crystal present in the tower to communicate to the other crystals present in the ships as well as using telepathy to contact the ships when Intership communications were down.  Strom looked suitably impressed with his young friend who was looking healthier and more relaxed than he had ever seen him.  Strom went up to Raphael and asked, “You’re looking mighty happy, son.  What’s up?”

“Julia is here”, replied Raphael. “It’s made all the difference in the world for me – plus working with these men, Master Li, Master Edar and the others – they’ve been so supportive of me.  I’ve instructed them in my methodology and a few of the instructors said they would begin to related classes on board the University Ship!”

“Well, son, it’s about time that people recognized your hard work and talent”, replied Strom.  “I was mighty unhappy with the manner in which Commander Kadish treated you and your line communication team.  And it was a shock to see that arrest warrant with your name on it.  I’m glad you are settling in here and onto to some new and interesting projects for Lord VaCoupe.  It is quite evident that he wants to see you safe and happy.”

“Yes, sir”, replied Raphael, “I owe Lord VaCoupe my life and freedom.  If it weren’t for him, I might be sitting in a dusty cell somewhere on BerWare!”

“Goddess forbid!” exclaimed Strom.  “You didn’t deserve to have that kind of complaint made against you, a hard-working quiet young man.”

“Quiet young man?” laughed Raphael, “Don’t you remember all the times I woke up half of the command staff with my nightmares?”

“Oh, I do – I had to wonder sometimes if Commander Lyonell shouldn’t lock you up in the brig while you were having those attacks, but fortunately, you seemed to grow out of them…”

“Mostly…” replied Raphael, “I actually experienced another bout after getting here and having to do a survey on Morova – where I was held captive for ten years.  I could feel every dark place and person on that isle.  Along with my arrest, the death of my brother and friends, leaving The Golden Lion and all – well, I kind of lost it.”

“He certainly did,” said Master Li Tzulo as he overheard the last remark.  “We had to keep Raphael sedated for more than a week while he healed from that last attack. The stress was too much for him at first.”

The short statured Veyan teacher smiled as he looked up at the golden-haired Raphael, “We’ve all become quite fond of Raphael.  He is so dedicated and humble, despite having amazing skills, talents, and gifts.  He didn’t deserve to be targeted by two jealous individuals.  And we understand that one of his superior officers on board The Golden Lion wasn’t too fond of his work or presence there.  Well – he’s better off serving a higher purpose than having to deal with ship politics.”

Master Li Tzulo paused and said, “I’m Master Tzulo; I’m the only instructor who had the privilege to work with Raphael during his short stay at the University Ship.  I teach remote viewing and reading frequencies – both subjects with which Raphael needs little assistance.  It was clear when I worked with him and the small team, he built at Uni that he was extraordinarily gifted.  We felt that being on board ship would be the best place for his talents, although it proved to be very stressful for him there, too.”

“Yes”, replied Strom, “And I regret that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about his being there – a young boy with little training in protocol, seemingly poorly disciplined, having screaming fits, and falling into visions in the middle of meetings…I got yelled at by Lord Lyonell when he caught me trying to discipline the boy when he had to leave shift early because of another vision.”

“Well, he’s matured quite a bit and yet he might have issues with post-traumatic stress for years unless he is allowed to rest, eat properly, meditate and get plenty of exercise. It might be healthy for him to get outside, too, but we’ve been concerned that a kidnapping attempt might be made to carry him off to BerWare or some other planet now that word of this man’s talents has gotten out a bit.”

“Are you two talking about me – with me standing here”, asked Raphael with a laugh.  He was happy that some of the masters were filling in Strom on the work they had been doing.  He was also glad to see his old friend, but Raphael realized that things would never be the same as when he was briefly part of a group of brothers, comrades in arms.  Those days were behind him.  Lord VaCoupe had other needs for him now. It was time to move on.  He was glad to have Julia with him in Alyona lending her graceful strength to his days.

The meeting ended with Strom attending Lord VaCoupe with some strategy meetings that Raphael was not a part.  The old friends parted, both sensing that it would be unlikely that they would meet again if ever.

The Alyona Command Center

The High Council was over and Raphael found himself training new men, as the recruits selected by Lantrill arrived.  To his relief, the four Feline warriors who had originally accompanied Raphael to Alyona Castle also proved to be sufficiently sensitive to be trained up into line technicians.  They were a little surprised to be trained by someone who they recently transported as a prisoner, but Raphael didn’t blame them.  Raphael actually received a message from Commander Lantrill expressing his wishes that he could also be transferred, but since he was a commander, he had duties on board The Golden Lion.  He did note he missed Raphael’s company.  They had known and respected each other for a long time.  He promised to send his best and brightest for training in line communication, an important job during these tenuous times of war.

When Commander Lo’Telle and Line Commander Argus finally arrived, Raphael was very much relieved to finally have some assistance in training the new men.  Of the University Ship instructors, two still remained – Masters Edar and Li Tzulo.  They expressed a desire to continue perfecting their skills in this line of work.  They also just enjoyed working with Raphael who was eager to share his knowledge and skills with others.  Raphael realized that this new development in his life wouldn’t necessarily be long-term, but the need was great and his skills were too vital to be limited to one ship.

The “temporary” assignment for Lord VaCoupe ended up lasting six years, during which time Raphael trained scores of potential line communication technicians and a few line commanders in his methodology for deciphering frequency anomalies, as well as working with the Mother Crystals, remote viewing, and mapping for trouble areas whether in a sector, solar system, or on an isle. 

After a year or so, Master Edar and Master Tzulo had returned to their positions on the University Ship.  They were pretty facile in viewing an area for trouble and aided in lending support for Raphael when he experienced physical problems occasionally after doing a deep scan.

During this time, probably the most peaceful period in the young officer’s life up until now, Raphael lived with his mate, Julia, in their small suite of rooms located in the castle of the High Council.  Francis fell in love with Raphael’s beautiful mate, Julia, and insisted in providing meals for the couple at their suite and in the tower so they did not have to go to the general cafeteria that was available for visitors and dignitaries.  Raphael’s guards, the Eagles, insisted that he was heavily guarded during the weeks High Council was in session since the King of BerWare continued to hold a grudge against the young line commander for avoiding incarceration under his control. 

Raphael was happy to be working again with his line communication team from The Golden Lion, along with Specialty Commander Lo’Telle and Line Commander Leo Argus.  The three men trained their Golden Lion team, and then in turn, the more experienced technicians assisted the new ones as they came to the new Command Center over a period of a few months.  Once some of the line technicians were trained, they voiced a desire to return to one of the Command vessels.  Raphael could understand the need for some men to want to be a part of a greater team, but that particular setting was always difficult for him as he didn’t as a rule “fit” in to the expectations of senior officers. Raphael preferred to work as a part of a smaller, dedicated and focused group that worked together without interference from ship politics and personal agendas. 

Raphael’s health began to improve as his dear mate was determined that he ate an adequate diet and slept longer hours than his original schedule allowed.  Raphael thought perhaps the poor treatment he had as a child created some frailties within his body.

Raphael and his team remained in Alyona for six years, monitoring the sectors of Pleiadian Federation territory from their secure headquarters in the Council’s tower.  They continued to train technicians, some of whom who eventually were promoted within the Command to the level of Line Commanders as the fleet continued to grow.

After six years, Raphael was again invited to become an instructor at the University Ship sponsored by the Command.  The line commander felt he could do more for the Command from that level, training technicians and future line commanders in the methodology that he had developed over the years.  At the University Ship, Raphael would be able to renew the friendships first made while he was “incarcerated” in the tower at Alyona.

Little did he realize at the time that once again his life would take yet another strange twist in direction…

© All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, videos and recordings of this material are not permitted. and


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