BOOK TWO: CHAPTER 17 – Crisis in Medina

CHAPTER 17 – Crisis in Medina


In the end, it was Carlos who went to fetch some guards to protect Lord VaCoupe.  He took two burly retainers with him to provide him with protection, as the men climbed into one of the family viscars.  Passing through the village, Carlos was on the lookout for someone who looked similar to his cousin-by-marriage Adario Kadish, tall, dark-haired… a description which, unfortunately, fit many Medinian men, as well.  Arriving at the spaceport without incident, Carlos patiently notified the local commander of the problem that had arisen.  The commander was astonished that anyone in their right mind would attempt to attack, much less assassinate Lord VaCoupe on his own doorstep.  Nevertheless, he agreed on the need for caution; he, too, had heard tales of Lord Raphael’s propensity to fall into visions.  Carlos also thought to ask the commander whether the daily shuttle had arrived.  It had not, which was an unusual occurrence.  He requested the commander send word to the Shemont and notify the Shekinah that at least one healing priestess was needed immediately at the spaceport.

It was only a few minutes later when Lady Arrina arrived at the spaceport via foot. She looked annoyed and demanded: “What is going on, Carlos VaCoupe? Why are you standing here waiting for the shuttle with these guards?”

Astonished, Carlos stared at the priestess, exclaiming, “My lady – what are you doing here?”

“I felt a need to come here, a sense of great and present danger…” The priestess replied, pausing as she noted the alertness evident in the faces and stance of the guards who were present. “What is happening here, Carlos? I repeat: why are all you standing here waiting?”

Carlos took a deep breath and stepped closer, “My lady – apparently Lord VaCoupe just received an urgent message from his son, Lord Raphael, that there would be an assassination attempt on the lord’s life. The individual involved, as far as I understand it, is former commander Hercule Kadish.”

“Isn’t that one of Raphael’s cousins, from the Kadish family of Airus?” asked Lady Arrina.

Carlos nodded, “He was an officer who tormented Raphael when he was serving on board The Golden Lion after the death of Lord Lyonell. Several years later, the commander was broken in rank and removed from the ship, demoted to temporary operational commander at Elexa. Then Raphael showed up one day in his little golden ship…”

“Oh, I’ve heard that tale – some commander went crazy, left his post and sent three fighters to Jolf in an attempt to arrest Raphael, his men, and to confiscate the golden ship…?”

“Yes, my lady – that man was Hercule Kadish and apparently he is coming here via shuttle today.”

One of the guards looked nervously up into the pale skies and mumbled, “The shuttle should have been here by now.”

“Well, men, be on alert… I sense a ship will be arriving shortly. Draw your weapons but set them on stun. We don’t want to alarm the other passengers. Only act if you see someone looking and acting out of place,” advised Lady Arrina.

Carlos looked at the priestess with admiration; she was certainly not intimidated and used to command. The men responded accordingly, preparing themselves for whatever came along with the shuttle.

When the shuttle did arrive, the passengers began to disembark, mostly women and some men with packages. Then, surprisingly, two large warriors dragged another man off the ship and looked around for anyone of authority. Lady Arrina stepped up, with the guards fanning out behind her. “Who do you have there, warriors? I am Lady Arrina of the Shemont. We have been advised to be on the lookout for a man called Hercule Kadish.”

The tallest warrior looked down at the red-haired willowy priestess and gave her an abrupt nod, “We have him here, my lady. My partner and I noticed he was carrying arms, something that isn’t allowed on civilian shuttles unless you happen to be in the Command and on an operation. When he was about to disembark, we nabbed him. He wasn’t too happy about it and tried to fight back, so we had to use a little persuasion…”

Carlos glanced over at the truculent Kadish who was frowning at the tarmac while being gripped tightly by the two warriors. The man had the look of a Kadish male, from what Carlos had witnessed in seeing Adario and his father, apart from a black eye and bruised cheek… apparently evidence of some of the ‘persuasion’ the warriors had used to obtain his cooperation.

Hercule Kadish looked up, glaring at Carlos, and sneered, “What are you looking at, Medinian? Get these thugs off me; I am a citizen of Airus!”

“Your intent in coming here, Kadish, is not one of goodwill,” replied Lady Arrina severely. She next addressed the two men holding Kadish: “Warriors take him to the Shemont! There we will scan him for implants and to view his true intent in coming to Medina!” commanded the priestess with a voice of authority. Both warriors bowed their heads in acknowledgement.

The ex-commander stared at the woman and angrily protested his innocence, as he began to struggle with the guards. “I’m innocent. Who are you, you old hag to order me about?”

“That’s enough, Kadish; silence your blasted tongue or we knock you out!” roared the warrior. “This lady is a priestess from the Shemont! Her office carries authority in this settlement, off-worlder!”

The ex-commander persisted in struggling against the hold of the two burly warriors, so one of them gave the man a light tap, on the back of the neck. Kadish slumped unconscious and was then dragged unceremoniously towards the Shemont. There, on the porch of the huge building, the Shekinah met the small party herself who surveyed the gathering with raised eyebrows. She turned to the lady Arrina and asked her: “What is the meaning of this, Arrina? Who are these men?”

Lady Arrina curtsied to the Shekinah and waved an arm towards Carlos, “My lady, I was guided to go to the spaceport for some unknown reason and found this young man, Carlos VaCoupe, speaking to the commander there. Carlos told me that one Hercule Kadish was intending to assassinate Lord Demetrius VaCoupe. Apparently, the lord was warned by his adopted son, Lord Raphael, via comm. Is this so, young Carlos?”

“Yes, my Lady… it is what my uncle told me. He was greatly upset to be in potential danger in his own community. He sent me to the spaceport to get some guards for protection under the advisement of Lord Raphael…” replied Carlos, after bowing reverently to the Shekinah. He went on to explain: “The shuttle was late, so we prepared to meet and accost this Hercule Kadish, only two warriors who were also on the shuttle got to him first and dragged him from the shuttle under their control.”

“And who are these two warriors?” demanded the Shekinah, studying the two men with her dark blue eyes. As she did, noting the massive height of the men, their long blue-black hair, and the beads on their persons, she began to smile, and simply said: “Lady Arla sent you here, didn’t she?”

The tallest of the duo grinned at her, “Yes, my lady – in response to a vision given to our king’s mate, Lady Claudine, who also sensed her father was in danger. I am Commander Samuél Montoya of Claudine’s guards, and this is Captain Pedro Longalis. Claudine has sent us to her father as a gift, to protect him from now on.”

Captain Longalis snorted, “And it looks like we’re just in time to prevent a tragedy here, my Lady – this Hercule Kadish, ex-commander from The Golden Lion, formerly under the command of Esturias VaCoupe; demoted by Lord VaCoupe to temporary head commander of the Elexa spaceport; finally, court martialed because of attempting to imprison Commander Raphael VaCoupe, his men, with the intention of confiscating his golden ship. The lady Arla shared these facts with us before we set out several days ago from BerWare.”

Carlos was staring at the two warriors. He had to look up as both men stood over nine feet tall, with thick muscular torsos, powerful legs and arms, thick necks and long braided blue-black hair strung with colorful beads. They were garbed in the traditional short BerWarian tunics he had seen before on King Stephanus, covered by long sturdy traveling cloaks. Their feet were covered with intricately made leather sandals with long ties that wrapped up towards their muscular calves. Captain Longalis grinned at the young VaCoupe as he gaped up at them and asked, “And who are you, young fellow?”

“I am Carlos VaCoupe, son of Robertio VaCoupe, nephew to Lord Demetrius VaCoupe, sir!” He gulped and gave Captain Longalis a wane smile, “I don’t think Lord VaCoupe is going to need any Eagles now…”

“Who recommended Lord VaCoupe get some Eagles, my young friend?”

“His son, Lord Raphael Kantor-VaCoupe, sir,” replied Carlos. “What are you going to do with Hercule Kadish now… my lady?”

Hercule Kadish was lying on the stone floor and only just beginning to regain consciousness. He groaned and rubbed the back of his neck. Grimacing, he pushed himself up to a sitting position and looked up into the bright blue eyes of the Shekinah who was, in turn, regarding him with great interest. Kadish’s voice was harsh as he protested, “My Lady, I have done nothing for these… men to treat me so…”

“Nothing, Hercule Kadish? That is not what I have been told,” said Lady Amethyst with a terse reply. “Commander, Captain, please ‘escort’ Commander Kadish to our small chapel. I will confer with my priestesses before we perform a scan on this… man.”

“No, no… I don’t give you permission to scan me!” protested Kadish as the warriors pulled him to his feet and dragged him unwillingly to the chapel.

Going within briefly, Lady Amethyst summoned all available priestesses to attend her in the small chapel immediately. Within a few minutes, a bevy of priestesses gathered around the Shekinah and listened to her telepathic communications in private mode. When her instructions were complete, the Lady turned back to where the two warriors were waiting patiently, with the hapless ex-commander held tightly in their iron grip. Four of the priestesses then walked closer, surrounding the trio and directed their focus towards Kadish, who squirmed under their intense scrutiny. After a few minutes, the lead priestess turned back to the Shekinah with the consensus of their scan: My Lady, this man, ex-commander Hercule Kadish, does not have any implants within his physical or light body that we can discern today. However, he has arrived in Medina with evil intent, to gain revenge on Lord VaCoupe for dismissing him from the command unfairly… at least in his own estimation. He came with weapons on his person with the intent to commit bodily harm on our Lord and members of his immediate family.”

The Shekinah looked severely upon the ex-commander and spoke in a low but clear voice, “You came here to our Lord’s home with the intent to hurt or even to kill him? According to our laws, Master Kadish, at the very least you could be incarcerated for doing such a thing. Your mind has been clearly unhinged because of your own overbearing arrogance. I will let Lord VaCoupe pass the final judgment on you, since he was the ultimate target of your misplaced ire.”

The Shekinah stepped back and addressed to two warriors; “I want to personally thank you, men, for being in the right place at the right time. You are to be commended for your alert detection of this miscreant. Now, we will find some viscars to aid you in transporting the prisoner to Lord VaCoupe’s home so the lord can pass judgment on this man. Let one of my priestesses provide you with some rope so that you may bind the arms of the prisoner. We do not want him to attack our lord now.”

The two BerWarian warriors loaded Kadish into one viscar and were joined by two more of the spaceport’s guards. Their commander was not eager for his lord to be harmed by this madman of a stranger. Carlos, Lady Arrina, and the Shekinah followed in another viscar, with one of the two VaCoupe retainers driving the vehicle. The small procession pulled up in front of the VaCoupe compound as Raimundo opened the gate and stood there staring in amazement. He exclaimed, “You already captured Kadish, Carlos?”

“Not me, sir; these two warriors sent from Claudine captured him just as he was going to get off the shuttle, which was late…and then Lady Arrina walked up. She had also felt a need to be present…” replied his nephew.

“Well, it looks like there is quite a lot to review. Thank you, men, for capturing this man. He is an ex-commander who was court-martialed and dismissed from the Command for insubordination, threatening a civilian population with weapons, and attempting to capture and jail my nephew and his companions, among other things. The man is a menace!” replied Raimundo. “Take Kadish into the audience room; Lord VaCoupe has been notified of your arrival!”

When the party arrived in the audience room, there were several chairs set out in the middle of the room. Lord VaCoupe was surrounded by some more of his tallest male retainers. Lady Anna was standing at his side. The prisoner was taken to a single chair placed in the center of a semi-circle and forced to sit by his captors. Lord VaCoupe strolled up to the man and studied him carefully before he spoke. Meanwhile, Hercule Kadish stared up at the Supreme Head Commander of the Pleiadian Fleet, perhaps finally realizing his danger.

Lord VaCoupe’s dark blue eyes were flinty with anger as he growled, “You dare to come to my town and threaten my family, sir? You have already been tried for threatening my son and his men, for threatening the citizens of Jolf with weapons, and attacking my son’s cousin, Adario Kadish. And now you come here seeking to end my life? For what purpose, I ask; so, you would regain some token of self-respect in your misguided mind? Well, you are done with your threats, Hercule Kadish. In the presence of the Shekinah and this gathering of my family, friends, and retainers, I pass judgment on you for the last time – you are condemned to death, sir. Make your peace with your Maker, Hercule Kadish.

“Death; my lord, you can’t mean that, sir?” protested Hercule Kadish. “I haven’t done any harm to your family!”

Lord VaCoupe looked with contempt at the miserable creature, “You should have remembered, Master Kadish, that this is wartime and with war, the penalties for ill-intent only must meet a lower standard. It is treason to carry the intent to act in a murderous fashion towards a superior officer. As Head Commander of the entire fleet, if I were killed, the entire star federation would be thrown into chaos, so to balance that fact, you must die today. Ladies, you are content with the sentence as I have pronounced it?”

Lady Amethyst regarded the ex-commander with compassion, but her generous mouth was set in a tight line. She nodded, “Yes, Lord Demetrius, I am content with the sentence. Hercule Kadish has come to this peaceful community with murder in his heart and weapons on his person. This behavior is enough to warrant the sentence, for although severe, I deem it fair given the man has a long history of acting out against others, especially the innocent under his power.”

Lord VaCoupe looked around at the others present and asked: “Does anyone take exception to the sentence I have pronounced, save the prisoner?”

Hercule Kadish looked around at the set faces of the family members gathered there. No one said anything. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, snarling, “May you die…”

A sharp slap from Captain Longalis silenced the curse that was upon Kadish’s lips. Lord VaCoupe nodded at the two warriors and commanded: “Take him out the back entrance of the garden and perform your duty, warriors!”

Commander Montoya gave Lord VaCoupe a terse nod and grabbed one of the prisoner’s arms, while Captain Longalis grabbed the other one and hauled the prisoner to his feet. The two warriors manhandled him out the door and into the garden. One of the retainers assisted them in opening the doors and gates. The loyal staff of the family was eager to remove the threat from their house and property. Hercule Kadish, the former second level commander on board the mothership The Golden Lion, met his demise in a grassy field outside the VaCoupe compound. His body was removed and taken to the Shemont to be prepared for cremation. His ashes would be sent to his family on Airus, with a brief description of his crimes and final sentence.

Lady Anna ordered her mate to go rest while she contacted Lord Mathdis the result of the day’s proceedings. Raphael had not returned to Jolf yet since he was in meetings with Commander Strabo Diaz, so Lord Mathdis was surprised to hear what had occurred with the former commander. “Well, Lady Anna, I can’t say I’m surprised that Hercule Kadish came to a bad end, but to threaten Lord VaCoupe! Did you say Raphael and his sister Claudine both had separate visions about the impending threat to their father’s life? That is quite extraordinary! I’m glad to hear that Claudine thought fit to send some of her strapping warriors to guard her father. I’ve long admired Eagle Gareth with his great height.”

Lady Anna nodded, “Lord VaCoupe is indeed blessed with his remaining children who love him deeply. I have sent my mate to bed to rest; it has been a trying day for him. I hope Raphael isn’t too worried, so if you happen to hear he has returned home, let him know that matters have been taken care of and there no more danger to Lord VaCoupe at this time.”

“I will do that, Lady Anna! Thank you for communicating this information to me. I will forward it to Raphael as soon as I see him. Good day, my lady…” said Lord Mathdis as he signed off.

Lady Anna sighed and went out into the hall, where the two new guards were standing. They came to attention as she drew near, “At ease, men; could one of you find a retainer to bring some tea and refreshments. I think Lord VaCoupe and I will be taking our morning repast in our rooms. Thank you…is it, Captain?

The tall burly BerWarian commander grinned, “No, my lady; I’m Commander Montoya. That tall fellow over there is Captain Longalis. We’re from the personal guards of Lady Claudine. Only now, it looks like we’ll be stationed here in Medina!”

“Well, Commander Montoya, welcome to Medina; it isn’t always this exciting around here.”

“Thank you, my lady; we look forward to serving you and Lord VaCoupe; it is an honor to serve the Lord of the Pleiades.” The commander ended his long speech with another grin and a deep respectful salute.

His companion headed towards the kitchens following his nose. Soon the tall captain returned with a tray filled with food. He was followed by one of the male kitchen staff holding another tray filled with tea, cups, and plates of cookies. Lady Anna laughed when she saw the feast, “Well, it looks like Lord VaCoupe, and I won’t starve. Thank you again, Commander, Captain.”

Lady Anna had the two men set down their trays, while thanking them as they left the room. Then Lady Anna firmly shut the door behind her and on what had been so far a very trying day for her and her mate.

Raphael and his Eagles landed in Elexa to find Commander Strabo waiting outside headquarters for their arrival. The giant Ashkerian gave Raphael a hearty clap on the shoulders and then guided his party into the building and towards the conference room. Raphael looked a little confused and asked: “What is going on, Commander? I thought we were going to look at our new models…”

“There’s someone here who wants to meet you, my lord – just this way,” replied the Commander in his deep bass voice.

As Raphael entered the conference room behind the broad-shouldered Ashkerian, he saw a dark-haired man dressed in a Command uniform standing there studying some charts on the wall, who swung around at the sound of their entrance. “Hello, my lord; it’s been a long time, sir!”

“Commander Strom! What are you doing in these parts?” replied Raphael as he went up to greet the top commander of The Golden Falcon. It had been nearly five years since he had last seen the commander during the visit to Alyona to claim his inheritance. During this time, The Golden Falcon had been stationed in space between Morova and BerWare as the mothership and its crew attempted to clean up those two planets of any enemy influences.

Commander Strom studied his old friend closely and grinned: “I’m here to look over some of your new ships, my lord. I understand they’re sentient?”

“Yes, sir; we managed to perfect the method of creating a sentient vessel by utilizing notes found in the archives at the old outpost and by performing our own experiments,” replied Raphael. “I stopped off here to review the latest progress on our first line of fighters and to check on the second line. Commanders Tazo and Monteras have been here for a few days already checking on things for me.”  Raphael smiled and continued, “I’ve learned to delegate tasks, Commander Strom. I may have been the original builder of the outpost, but even then, I didn’t work alone; I had my people with me.”

Commander Strom grinned, “You know, my lord; you would have made a great top commander had it not been for your unfortunate childhood.”

Raphael looked thoughtful for a minute or two and then replied: “I am aware of that, Commander Strom, but my mission in this lifetime was to be here building beautiful golden ships, not managing a mothership.”

“No regrets, my lord?”

“None whatsoever, Commander – now shall we go and look over those ships you said you came all this way to see? Commander Strabo, please lead the way!” Raphael waved his arm signifying the chat was over and walked out of the room.

Commander Strabo and Strom exchanged looks, with raised eyebrows. Strabo whispered in a harsh voice, “He may not be a top commander, but sometimes the young man acts like one! He has a presence; if you know what I mean?”

Commander Strom nodded, shrugged his shoulders, and then followed Raphael. Outside, some of the base personnel were studying The Golden Cat as she rested quietly on the tarmac, exuding a soft glow that indicated the defense forcefield was set. When Strom paused a moment to stare at the golden ship, Raphael commented, “We set the defense mode now automatically; people don’t seem to want to follow directions and leave the ship alone.”

“We, my lord?” Commander Strom looked mystified. He knew Raphael flew his own ships alone without a co-pilot, with only his Eagle guards or occasional passengers for companions. He was notorious among the local Command forces for doing so.

Commander Strom, the ship is sentient. She has agreed with me of the need for precautions when landing in public spaceports or especially in Elexa, with all the curious engineers and technicians wandering around.” Raphael appeared bored with the discussion. He looked around with a certain degree of irritation and snapped, “Where is the viscar to take us out to where the ships are being built, Commander Strabo?”

Commander Strabo came up closer to Strom as the latter stared at Raphael who was gazing up at some of the battleships being built nearby above the ground. He whispered, “You should know this young man is rather…unique.”

“I’ knew that from the first minute I encountered him on board The Golden Lion years ago, my friend,” replied Strom.

Raphael swung around and glared at the two men, “You can stop discussing me behind my back, commanders!”

A few minutes later, Commander Tazo rode up in a large viscar, “Hello, Grandfather, Commanders – climb in. I’m here to take you out to the site!”

Raphael climbed into the viscar next to Commander Tazo, with the other two commanders filling up the back seat. Tazo turned to Strom, grinning, and said: “Hang on, gentlemen!”

The viscar shot up above the tarmac and raced across the flat arid landscape of Elexa. In mere moments, the viscar settled down next to a temporary hut which proved to be the headquarters of the VaCoupe Starship Project shipbuilding efforts. Outside the hut a large golden fighter was resting. Commander Strom scrambled out of the viscar and like iron filings drawn by a magnet; he went straight over to the fighter, resting his hand on her curved surface. He stroked the golden metallic hull like an enamored lover, whispering, “Oh, my beauty!”

“Do you like her, Commander?” inquired Commander Tazo with a grin. Strom looked over at the Ashkerian commander and nodded.

Is this one of your first line of fighters, my lord?” Commander Strom turned to Raphael even as Commander Monteras strode out of the hut, followed more slowly by the two Crystal Masters Beteros and Pelleur. Strom stepped up to Commander Monteras and shook his hand, “Tomás, it’s been a long time! Who are your friends?”

Master Pelleur looked up at the tall commander and replied, “Commander Strom, don’t you remember? You met both of us in Alyona some five years ago when Raphael went to claim his inheritance from those Morovian miscreants – you called the traders?”

“Oh, yes, Masters Pelleur and Beteros? How are you, gentlemen? Enjoying Elexa’s fine scenery?” quipped Commander Strom.

No, commander; but we are getting a lot of work done here – having nothing to distract us in terms of ‘scenery’!” replied Master Beteros, looking around at the flat sandy wasteland of the Elexa island continent. It was a prime location for shipbuilding, as most of the actual building took place above ground for the larger ships. Smaller ones like the fighters that the Starship Project teams were building could be constructed on the ground in open warehouses. Once the models were completed, they were stored in large underground warehouses situated on the plain to protect the vessels from the fierce winds that inevitably swept over the broad sandy stretches of the island. None of the ships built had yet been transferred to or purchased by the Command. The command staff was waiting for tests to be done on the vessels, which was part of the reason Commander Strom was present.

When Raphael strolled up towards the little Starfighter, she began to hum, with the doors opening. Strom looked at him in surprise. Raphael grinned and explained, “She recognizes my frequency, Commander; after all, I’m her papa… I was the one who activated the crystal that made her sentient.” Raphael patted the little ship and whispered, “Not now, darling!”

“You mean…you…acted like a crystal master?” The commander’s face reflected his astonishment.

Raphael nodded and answered with a grin as Master Beteros came up and patted his tall friend on the arm. Turning to Commander Strom, he explained: “Lord Raphael was given a download of all…all the information the ancients placed within the great Mother Crystal that is the Heart Star Chakra of this small planet. Years ago, this young man became like a living crystal. It took a while to sort through the vast quantities of information, but eventually we succeeded. It was Adario and Roméo who, in the end, discovered a written copy of the crystal activation recipe, Master Edar who translated it and Raphael who performed the deed with one of the Daughters of the Mother of Medina. We are honored to have this brilliant young man among us today to make all this possible!”

“So…Commander, would you like to do a test run with our first Starfighter?” Raphael smiled, as he gestured towards the ship. “There is room for four crew members, a navigator, and pilot. Although the ship is sentient, there needs to be a real bond between the pilot and the ship, so it responds instantly to telepathic commands. It requires a pilot who is very balanced, intuitive, and well-trained to understand the strengths and dynamics of such a ship. She is unlike anything we have ever had in the Fleet, Commander.”

Commander Strom looked over at Strabo nervously, then back to Raphael, and asked: “Have you ever had her out, Raphael?”

Raphael started laughing, “Of course we have – on the very first day after she was fully birthed. I’m not a test pilot, but she flies and flies well, Commander!”

As Strom stared at the little ship, a plethora of emotions washed across his mobile face. Finally, he took a deep breath and turned to Raphael, “Let’s take her out! You’re driving!”

“Okay, Commander!” Raphael sent a silent command to the little ship, which immediately responded with the doors opening and the engine beginning to hum. “There are helmets inside in case we crash, sir!”

Strom looked at Raphael with some alarm. After all, he hadn’t been out in a fighter for many years himself, but then he saw his friend grinning. Raphael reminded him: “As Delos, I flew every type of vessel we had in our fleet, from shuttles, fighters, to battleships, and our great mothership, The Golden Lily. This one is sentient and aware; the ship can compensate for the pilot’s lack of training or if he is disabled during a fight. I think I can manage a simple test flight, sir!”

“I never thought to do such a thing,” mumbled Strom as he clambered into the vessel. He started when the seat adjusted to his body. Raphael swung in and waved his hand across the control console activating the holograms there, explaining: “We have given the pilot the option to take over at any time needed, especially during a fight, but we won’t have to deal with any enemy craft today, sir. How would you like to quickly visit at Medina today; I would like to check up on my father. I had to send him a warning this morning before I left Arconia. Remember Commander Hercule Kadish? Well, apparently, he set out to travel to Medina with the intention to assassinate Lord VaCoupe. I had a vision this morning which told me this was true, so I warned Father. I just hope the situation has been contained. I hope you don’t mind, Commander?”

“Hercule Kadish, your old tormentor?” Strom replied with a concerned look on his darkly tanned face. “No, I don’t mind. It’s perhaps a longer trip than I was counting on, but like you, I would want to check on the welfare of the Lord of the Pleiades, for the sake of all our people!”

Raphael closed his eyes and gave the ship its destination, the field behind the VaCoupe compound in the village of Medina. Humming quietly, the vessel began to levitate high above the surface of the ground. As Commander Strom looked out the window, he could see the Crystal Masters and Commander Strabo waving to them from below. He waved back even as the ship suddenly accelerated, leaving the sandy plains of Elexa behind in a blur of light. “My stars, she’s fast!” gasped Strom as he glanced down at the sea below glimmering in the early afternoon sun.

The Maubene coast was sighted within minutes as the ship passed swiftly overhead and began to cross the vast cacti-studded plains towards the dark purple mountains rising to the north. Here, Raphael decided to demonstrate the ship’s acrobatic abilities by having her fly upside down and make sharp banking turns as Strom hung on for dear life. Then, he straightened her out in a more conventional flight path, swinging in a broad circle around the towers of Medina and the great pile of the Shemont Temple, then slowly dropping down until the vessel came to a gentle landing in the grassy field behind the VaCoupe compound. Raphael had sent his uncle Raimundo a telepathic message of their arrival, but no one had yet reached the gate until the two men climbed out of the Starfighter.

Then Raphael spied some unexpected men at the rear gate who were spaceport guard. He walked up to them followed by Commander Strom, “Who are you, men? I am Lord Raphael, and this is Top Commander Myka Strom of The Golden Falcon! What are you doing here in my family’s garden?”

“What are you doing here, my lord?” asked a plainly astonished guard as he glanced towards the gleaming fighter resting incongruously in the field. “Where did that come from, my lord?”

Raphael grinned and replied, “Elexa, officer! We just flew from Elexa in that.” He gestured towards the fighter. “Now, where is my uncle Raimundo?”

A deep baritone voice boomed over the garden gate, “Raphael! And who is with you? A commander by the looks of him, I shouldn’t wonder?”

Raimundo approached, waving the alert guards aside, “This is my nephew, Lord Raphael, and a companion. What is that? One of your new ships, nephew?”

The retired commander strode up to the fighter and stroked her sides, “She’s gorgeous and fast?”

Raphael grinned, “Uncle, may I introduce you to Commander Strom, a man who has played some vital roles during my career in the Command. Commander Strom, this is Lord Raimundo VaCoupe, retired from the Command. He’s now second in command of taking care of our family home.”

“Second in command, Raphael – I don’t understand,” said a rather confused Strom.

Lady Anna is commander in chief of the household now, Commander, ever since she mated with my brother, Demetrius,” replied Raimundo. “Won’t you two come into the house for a little refreshment before you must return to Elexa – I take it that is where you came from in that… is it a Starfighter, Raphael? Demetrius mentioned it was the first successful model of your Starship Project.”

“Yes, Uncle – she is a Starfighter,” replied Raphael. He turned back to Strom who was still looking around getting his bearings, sniffing at the dry desert air and the pungent scent of warm herbs and flowers emanating from the gardens beyond the wall. “Commander Strom, what was your impression of the ride?”

The commander looked back at the little ship with a look of amazement on his face and grinned slightly, “You’ll have to forgive me, Lord Raimundo, but I left my senses back on Elexa. My stars, she’s fast and agile. Your nephew was showing off with some unconventional moves more suitable to a fighter pilot than a father and mate. I…I’ve never been on such a fast ship, sir!”

Raimundo gave a hearty laugh in response. Still, he could sense the tension in Raphael body’s as he glanced at his nephew whom he hadn’t seen in quite a while and said, “It is okay, Raphael, your father is safe. Thanks to you and Claudine the culprit Hercule Kadish was apprehended, scanned, tried, and executed, all earlier today.”

“Already? Claudine? What happened with my sister?”

“Well, apparently you’re not the only one in the Family who gets visions,” replied Raimundo rather soberly. “A couple of days ago, she received warning of a possible attack on my brother’s person here in Medina, so she sent two members of her personal guard to Medina to protect him. As it so happens, the two men were on the same shuttle carrying Kadish. They picked him out from the other passengers as he was carrying weapons, which their experienced eyes could detect. Before he was able to deplane from the shuttle, they nabbed him and dragged him off the vessel, only to find young Carlos and Lady Arrina standing there backed up by the spaceport guards. Lady Arrina took command – you fully understand being familiar with the lady yourself — and had the prisoner taken to the Shemont where he was scanned for implants and to determine his intent in being in Medina. There his full intent was discovered – he was determined to take the life of Lord VaCoupe and any of his family members or retainers who got in his way. Obviously, he didn’t realize you are no longer a resident of Medina, or he might have headed to Jolf instead.”

“Young Carlos had gone to fetch the guards to protect my brother but matters sorted themselves out with the long-distance help of your sister and her guards. After Kadish was scanned, he was transported to this house to face Lord VaCoupe. Your father is a kind man, but he is also a Head Commander of the Fleet and a strong leader. He was set to make an example of this troublemaker Kadish, so the man was sentenced to death and summarily executed just here outside the garden. His ashes and an explanation to his family will be sent to Airus on the next shuttle set to go there. I don’t think anyone will miss the man.”

Now it was Raphael’s turn to look astonished, “Well, thank you, Claudine. Are her men still here? I was going to request some Eagles be sent from the University Ship to protect Father…”

“Claudine apparently sent the two men as a ‘present’ to my brother; they are to remain as part of his guard. I will encourage him to obtain at least four more guards, Eagles, to be his personal guard from now on. You have had Eagles protecting you nearly your entire life since your rescue, so you are quite accustomed to their presence. Demetrius is concerned his people will think he is trying to protect himself from them if he goes around surrounded by guards,” explained Raimundo as he scratched the dirt at his feet with his sandals.

Well, as I tried to explain to him, this is war time. Things are not normal anymore. It is better to be prepared and alert. Plus, we’re counting on him to be here with us for many long years,” replied Raphael. He looked at Raimundo for a long moment and finally asked, “Could I see Father? I would imagine Lady Anna has him resting in their rooms now?”

Raimundo raised his finger and closed his eyes for a moment. Raphael waited patiently knowing his uncle was in the process of communicating with his brother. Then he nodded, “Yes, it is okay – Lady Anna has determined Demetrius is rested enough for you to see him now. Plus, he wants to see you and thank you for the timely warning!”

Minutes later both Commander Strom and Raphael were escorted to Lord VaCoupe’s rooms by Raimundo. As his uncle began to introduce Raphael to the two doughty BerWarian warriors, one of whom remarked, “I know you… er, my lord! I was one of your escorts years ago when you were on BerWare with Commander Esturias, sir!”

Raphael looked up into the dark blue sparkling eyes of the dark-skinned warrior and inquired, “I remember the impressive warriors of BerWare; it was a memorable visit altogether. What is your name, soldier?”

The warrior gave a salutation, remembering the instruction from Lady Arla, “I am called Commander Montoya, and this is Captain Longalis. We’re both from Lady Claudine’s personal guard… although now, I guess, we’re stationed here to protect your father, sir.”

“Well, I want to welcome you to Medina, men, and personally thank you for handling the situation so well. You can let my sister know I appreciate how well you have been trained,” replied Raphael. “I will, however, insist that Father requests at least four Eagles to add to his personal security team. We can arrange for other BerWarians to be among the Eagles chosen, if that would assist you men in adjusting to your new living situation?”

“That’s kind of you, my lord, to think after our welfare, but we don’t mind meeting men from other worlds. In fact, the two of us are quite excited to be able to serve in this manner. We know that Lord VaCoupe does some travel, and we will be able to accompany him. This assignment is a wonderful opportunity for us to expand our horizons if you understand me, my lord,” replied Commander Montoya.

Ah, you’ll do well here, then, Commander,” remarked Raphael. “Lord VaCoupe appreciates men with an open mind and the ability to adapt to new situations. After all, he was brave enough to take me on as his foster son long ago. I have a BerWarian in my own detail… Gareth Vanderis, whom I didn’t bring along on this little trip. Father is going to take issue with that, I’m sure, but I just felt a need to see if he was okay now. Thank you, again, men!”

Commander Strom noted how well Raphael put the new guards at their ease. He thought to himself – it really is too bad he decided not to become a high-level commander this go around; he’s a natural leader!

Raphael glanced at his companion and suggested, “Shall we see how my father is faring, Commander?” He proceeded to knock on the solid door.

Raphael, Commander Strom, welcome! Come in, come in,” said Lady Anna as she opened the door to find the two men standing there. The BerWarian guards straightened up as she appeared, but she noted they had been grinning at some remark made by her son Raphael. “Come in…”

“Well, I see you have brought me an unexpected visitor today, son!” said Lord VaCoupe as he reached up to shake Commander Strom’s hand. “Welcome to our family compound; I don’t imagine you have been to Medina for a very long time, Commander?”

“I was a boy the last time I was here, my lord,” replied Strom as he glanced around at the comfortable, but casual surroundings. “And of course, we peeked at the gate outside but never ventured into your gardens, sir.”

“How did you arrive, Commander – no, let me guess; Raphael flew you here from Elexa today in one of his new golden ships?” He gave Raphael a blue glance with his dark eyes; his son just grinned back, nodding. Lord VaCoupe continued, “Well, it would appear the impetuosity exhibited by Lord Delos has not yet been successfully quelled in my present-day son, Raphael.”

“After experiencing that vision this morning – was it only today? I felt a need to personally check up on you. The test flight seemed like as good an excuse as any. I didn’t expect to find Commander Strom standing inside the Elexa spaceport headquarters building, but there he was… and the plan unfolded,” replied Raphael.

Lord VaCoupe sighed, “I’m glad you, both of you are safe, Raphael, after such a stunt.” Then, with a note of curiosity in his deep voice, he asked, “How did the test run go, Commander?”

Commander Strom looked down at his tightly grasped hands and loosened them, “Well, sir, I’m no expert not having flown a fighter in many years, but I would say the little ship we flew in today is without compare in the entire Pleiadian fleet, save those golden ships Raphael and his men discovered in the old outpost.”

Raphael was ebullient, praising the little vessel, “My stars, the little Starfighter would confuse the enemy fighters so much they would probably crash into each other!”

“Don’t you go out engaging the enemy, Raphael; I strictly forbid it! We have had enough of that kind of behavior in this family,” scolded Lord VaCoupe… and then he grinned a little at his son, saying, “I’m so proud of what you and your team have achieved, Raphael. Now, with this little demonstration to one of our senior top commanders, the word can get out. We’ll be having the commanders vying with each other to add the Starfighters to their arsenals on the motherships.”

Suddenly Raphael remembered his purpose in coming to Medina in the first place. His facial expression became more serious as he asked, “Father, how are you? Uncle Raimundo filled us in somewhat on the events of this morning, soon after you received my warning… and the guards outside explained how they got here just in time to prevent a great catastrophe.”

“I am well, only tired and saddened that it has come to this, where I must go around with guards to protect me. However, I have taken your advice to heart and have already requested that four Eagles be added to my personal guard here and when I travel. It is war time as the whole episode with Hercule Kadish reminded me and the family of the need for extra precautions in these days. Thank you for asking, son; I once warned your sister, Claudine, that if you ever started seeing visions then it will be because our world is in peril, but until today, I didn’t realize that I would be considered a target. And now, the day is wearing on; I would imagine the two of you are expected back in Elexa?”

“Yes, Father – in fact, I am expected in Jolf this evening, so I had better return the Commander back to Elexa!” Raphael replied as he began to stand up to leave.

Lord VaCoupe also stood up and came over to give his son a hug as he mumbled into Raphael’s shoulder, “Thank you, Raphael, for everything!”

Then, stepping away from Raphael, he took up Lady Anna’s hand and replied: “The next time I am in Jolf, you’ll have to take me on a test ride in one of your new ships, Raphael. Meanwhile, stay safe, son!”

Lady Anna looked from her mate to her son and sighed, “Only if you promise not to do any acrobatics, Raphael!”

“I promise, Mother! Take care of Father! I love you both!” The two men left the room, saluting the two BerWarian guards and strode back to the family rooms.

Raimundo and Carlos were waiting there and handed each of them a cup of tea and a large cookie. Raimundo remarked: “I know you have to head back to Elexa, but I couldn’t let you leave without a bit of refreshment!”

“This is the real VaCoupe family, Commander, that few save those who enter this house truly understand!” Raphael drank down his tea with a flourish, saluted to his uncle, and munching on his cookie headed towards the door. “See you in a few months, Uncle… the Howling approaches!”

The trip back to Elexa was accomplished in mere minutes, leaving the commander speechless. After he climbed out of the vessel, he patted her flanks gently, “My stars, you’re amazing, my little beauty!”

Raphael just stood there grinning for a moment, with Commander Strabo and the two Crystal Masters beaming nearby. Strabo spoke up first, “Did you enjoy the ride, Commander?”

“I’ve never seen any ship to compare with this one, Strabo! It is a stunning accomplishment you and your teams have achieved here, Raphael! How many ships have you completed yet?”

“Only ten of the first model and two of the second model, which is slightly larger,” replied Raphael. “Now, we need to focus on production as I sense a need for this kind of ship out in the field. It doesn’t take long to build one once you have the sequencing down, but it will still take a couple of months to complete. Calculating that… we won’t have enough to supply every mothership with new fighters for a couple of years yet, Commander. Still, if we can get more workers put onto the line, we can also produce the vessels faster. If you want to order a couple to take home with you to The Golden Falcon, contact Commander Brown at Elexa headquarters. He’s in charge of orders and supplies; a real master.”

“I would be honored to have just one of your little ships on The Golden Falcon, my lord, so I could show her off to the battleship commanders. They are the ones who do the real fighting in our command forces after all,” replied Strom with a smile.

Raphael started walking towards the viscar when he remembered something. He stopped and turned back to Strom and said, “Commander, you’ll never guess who I saw the other day!”

Commander Strom looked mystified. He glanced over to Strabo Diaz, who shrugged his shoulders in response. “Well, tell me, then…my lord.”

“Lyonell” came the terse answer.

Lyonell? How can that be; he’s dead!” protested Strom. “Explain yourself!”

Raphael grinned and replied, “Well, about five years ago, Lyonell contacted me via telepathy. He told me that he had just been born – yes, we have a special bond, him, and I. And now, he is but a boy, but I tell you this, Lyonell, our Lord Lyonell is within that boy’s body. And he selected me, his old aide, for a special honor, to be his foster father while he is growing up. At maturity and when he graduates, he is going to then turn his considerable energy and intelligence towards helping us to continue building and designing our golden ships!”

“Oh, that’s marvelous to hear – a wonder to hear! I never expected him to return while I was still alive,” said Strom with a sigh, “I really miss him!”

“We all do, Commander; we all do!” Raphael replied quietly. “So, if you ever want to look at our ships, again, let me know so I can arrange for a meeting between old friends. He’s attending Arconia, along with my son, Jychondria, by the way…”

Strom gave his young friend a wry glance, “Your boy is starting school? How old is he now?”

“He will be six years old this next Howling; he was born just a couple of weeks before it in Medina,” replied Raphael.  “And my lovely mate, Julia, just graced us with a second child, little Arianna, a girl.”

“A little girl? Well, that should make Julia happy while you’re away playing with ships, my lord!” Commander Strom slapped his old friend on the shoulder and shook his hand. “And now, you had better get going back to Jolf if you promised your Julia that you would be home tonight. The light is already waning!”

Raphael glanced upward and replied, “That’s just dust, my friend Commander. Thanks for going with me to Medina. I was really concerned about Father.”

“It was my pleasure, Raphael; a trip I will not soon forget, I might add!”

Raphael strode out to the waiting viscar. The commanders Tazo and Monteras were already seated in the rear. Commander Strabo raised his arms in play frustration as he waved another driver forward with his viscar. Masters Beteros and Pelleur were helped into the vehicle. Strabo explained to the visitor: “We don’t leave anyone out here, Commander, overnight. It’s not good for the lungs being constantly around all these chemical compounds and metals.”

“Well, I guess I’ll go in Lord Raphael’s viscar,” replied Strom, as he climbed in.

Raphael grinned as he warned him, “Hang on, Commander!”

“Say, what happens to the ships if the winds get really strong?”

Commander Tazo leaned forward, “Unless the ships are being stored in our underground facilities, they simply activate and rise up above the weather on their own and then return when the weather has cleared out.”

“And the ones still being built?” persisted Commander Strom with his questions as he scanned the open arid reaches of the small continent.

They are constructed inside warehouses that can be closed up when the day’s work is completed,” replied Commander Monteras.

Where are the warehouses? I can’t see anything.” Then suddenly the commander understood. He answered his own question: “You’re protecting them from detection with cloaking devices!”

“Precisely, Commander!” replied a triumphant Raphael. “We don’t want any enemy patrols making a high attitude survey of this planet and finding a large shipbuilding project going on this far away from headquarters.”

In a few minutes, the swift little viscars pulled up in front of headquarters. Commander Strom and Diaz said their good-byes to the men of Jolf, standing near The Golden Cat as Raphael was rejoined by his Eagle guard. Commanders Tazo and Monteras piled into the Cat, grinning, and talking about the successful test ride and Strom’s reactions to the little Starfighter. With one last wave, Raphael climbed into the pilot seat. Engines activated, the steps folded up and doors closed; The Golden Cat levitated straight up into the air as the two commanders craned their necks upward to watch her course. Then without a sound she streaked out of sight over the nearby sea towards Jolf.

Commander Strom turned to his old friend, Strabo Diaz, and clapped him on the shoulder or as much as he could reach. He laughed and said: “Oh, my stars; that was quite a ride that young scamp gave me! Never in all my dreams did I ever imagine Raphael would become a shipbuilder and designer! I remember the first time I encountered him; he was a skinny youngster dressed in a cadet’s cloak and standing outside Lord Lyonell’s office door. He still amazes me – and now the two of them are coming back together!”

In the years since the discovery of The Golden Cat and her smaller sister ship, The Golden Wren, a special large garage was built to house the ships so Raphael and his passengers wouldn’t have to make the long trip back and forth from the outpost. When he was working at the outpost, he usually took the Wren, while the rest of the team handled the three smaller ships, parking the vessels in their respective hangars. This arrangement saved the team a lot of time, especially today, for despite what Raphael commented earlier; the day was ending as the golden ship landed outside of Jolf.

As the men strolled into Jolf, Raphael spotted Alexei anxiously peeking over the gate at Lord Mathdis’ garden. He sent the other men towards his own house, telling them he shouldn’t be too long. Then he walked over to Alexei and asked: “What is a matter, Alexei?”

“Lord Mathdis wants to speak to you, my lord. Could you come into the garden for a few minutes?” As the assistant explained, he opened the gate for Raphael to enter. One of Raphael’s Eagles had followed along and positioned himself as sentry. Alexei nodded and guided Raphael into the sheltered courtyard. Lord Mathdis was just beginning his evening repast. Roméo and Astrig made a habit these days of eating in their rooms while watching their young daughter.

Welcome back, Raphael!  I have already heard about the events of the day from Lady Anna. She added that you have already seen Lord VaCoupe. Did you fly Commander Strom from Elexa all the way to Medina in one of your new ships?”

The tall lord invited Raphael to sit, but he shook his head and explained, “It’s been a long and somewhat trying day, my lord. I did fly Strom to Medina. I have seldom seen the man speechless, but he was extremely impressed with the speed and agility of the Starfighter. And I was incredibly happy to find my father tired but in good health. Lady Anna looks after him very well indeed. Did you hear about Father’s two new guards?”

Lord Mathdis nodded, “Yes, Lady Anna told me that story, too. Demetrius is fortunate to have two such gifted children like you and Claudine. What extraordinary timing! And another of your nemeses meets his end! Surely this tale will discourage a repeat of such mindless rage.”

Lord Mathdis took a sip of his tea and asked: “Well, did you get the two young men off to school? I almost forgot the original purpose for your trip to Arconia after all that happened today!”

“Yes, and it looks like Jychondria and Lyonell are going to get along splendidly. After all, Jychondria has been around Felines ever since he was a baby. He used to climb all over Sukio when they were playing together out in the garden. Both boys are intelligent, curious, and strong-willed; they will probably fight on occasion, but I suspect there is already a soul mate bond existent between the two of them. With my history, how could there not be?”

“Very true,” replied Lord Mathdis.  “Well, if I can’t coax you to take some dinner with me, I’ll send you home to your patient mate, Julia. I intend to visit the inn after my meal here so I can admire my two grandchildren, Raphael and Adario.”

“That is a good idea, my lord – well, like you said, I better go home to Julia and little Arianna.” Raphael bowed to Lord Mathdis and left the courtyard. Raphael and his Eagle guard strolled across the street to enter the gate there, greeted by Leo Vayin, who had stood guard for Julia through the day. “Welcome home, my lord; Julia will be glad to see you, sir.”

“Thank you, Vayin; I am glad to be home. It was a rather exciting day for me and my father,” replied Raphael. “I’ll send out Gareth to take your place so you can eat, too!”

Vayin grinned as he heard the mistress call out her greeting and run into her mate’s arms. Raphael kissed Julia gently on the forehead and led her back to her bench. There was a tray of food waiting for him and another one for the guards who went with him. “Raphael, how was your day? Did the boys like their new surroundings?”

“The boys will do well; they’re young enough to be adaptable,” replied Raphael, in between munching on his fruit. “Jychondria and Lyonell are close in age and share some interests. I don’t doubt Lyonell is the more intelligent, or should I say the shrewder one of the two. Jychondria has an honest heart and is forthright and kind. He will do well in his studies. After all, he has been studying since he was but a toddler, hanging onto Tomás’ every word as he tutored young Alphar. I hear from Master Edar that Alphar is doing well in his studies at the University Ship now. Master Edar promised to bring all the boys: Ramanda, Falonus, and Alphar, Lyonell, and Connie home to Jolf during the next visit after they finish their current classes.”

Raphael noted Julia trying to wipe away her tears surreptitiously. He gathered her up in his arms, “My dearest Julia, Connie will be all right, more than all right where he is among other intelligent youngsters. It is time for him to begin his long journey towards manhood; we can’t walk it for him or protect him from life. And we have sweet little Arianna to console our sore hearts while Connie is away.”

Julia sniffed, pressing her sweet face into Raphael’s shoulder, “I still miss him, my first born!”

“As do I, my love,” replied Raphael quietly. Just then Tazo and Tomás came into the courtyard. They had been eating indoors so Julia and Raphael could have some private moments together. “Gentlemen, care to give my mate and me a report on what you saw in Elexa during the last couple of days?”

“Certainly, Cousin,” replied Tomás. “We spoke at length with Commander Diaz, the on-site engineers and ship designers, as well as the Crystal Masters Pelleur and Beteros. Everything is proceeding well. As we reported earlier, Raphael, we now have ten completed Starfighter I’s and two completed Starfighters II. Julia – you should have seen Commander Strom’s face when he climbed out of the ship that Raphael took for a test flight! Our Raphael is a gentle person, but he is a devil of a pilot!”

Julia looked shocked, “Where did you take the Commander?”

“To Medina village, my love; I had to check on Father. What I didn’t tell any of you yet was that I experienced a vision before flying to Elexa just this morning, although it now feels ages ago.”

Both Tazo and Tomás had frequently experienced being around Raphael when he was suffering through a vision. Concerned, Tazo asked, “What did you see, Rafe?”

“My father’s life being threatened by the disgraced ex-commander Hercule Kadish,” replied Raphael shaking his head. “That horrible man wasn’t satisfied with just slinking away to hide in some dark corner.” Julia’s face grew pale, but Raphael squeezed her hand to assure her, replying: “Father is fine. By some divine grace, my sister Claudine also had a vision some days earlier than my own and sent two of her personal guardsmen to protect my father. By the time the family was acting upon the warning I managed to send in the morning, events were already in play. The two guardsmen happened to be flying to Medina on the same shuttle as Kadish. They thought he looked suspicious and when they noticed weapons on his person, they accosted him before he was able to disembark at the Medina spaceport. There to greet them was my cousin Carlos who had been originally sent to fetch some guardsmen from the spaceport back to the house. However, not long after he arrived on the scene, Lady Arrina arrived there, too. She had a ‘feeling’ she had to go to the spaceport, something which was quite out of character for the devout Lady. So, when the two BerWarian guards dragged Kadish off the shuttle, Lady Arrina took charge, utilizing the guards, both local and the two BerWarians to haul the culprit off to the Shemont. Lady Amethyst was notified of what was occurring and summoned several of her priestesses to perform a scan on ex-commander Kadish then and there. It was determined although he did not have an implant; his intent in coming to Medina was to do violence. Then Kadish was transported to the VaCoupe house where he faced judgment from Father. Raimundo said his brother was quite harsh – after all, it was his life the miscreant wanted to take. In punishment, Kadish was condemned to immediate execution by the two BerWarians, who were more than happy to oblige their new commander. Raimundo reminded everyone that it is wartime and therefore punishments are accordingly that much more severe. If Father had been killed, it would have thrown the entire Federation into chaos, which would have served the interests of the enemy quite well. I will have to say I was a bit shocked that so much happened in just a couple of hours after my warning was given to Father!”

“The Kadish family are your distant cousins, Raphael?” Tazo was sometimes confused by all the different families on the various planets.

Julia gulped and said quietly, “Adario, Brunella, and I are all from branches of the Kadish Family, which is the ruling family of Airus. Yes, we’re all cousins of the Kantors, Raphael’s father’s family. I’m sure someone will be sorry about Hercule Kadish’s passing if his parents are still living.”

“Well, the man’s own younger brother once advised me, Da’vid, that the man was a bully from childhood. I don’t think his brother would miss him at all,” replied Raphael. He looked around and asked Julia, “Where is Arianna?”

“I’ve already fed her and put her down for the night. Frida is watching her right now,” replied Julia.

“Frida is a jewel!” proclaimed Raphael, and then took a few more bites of food. “Let me finish here, my love, and then it is off to bed for both of us!”

We’ll end this chapter here as our friends finish out a very busy day.  The next chapter will jump some ten years into the future as the new fleet of golden ships continues to grow and expand…

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


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