A-Crux of Dragons – Chapter 1


“So, what if he to remain until I return?” Oh, how I laughed at them when Jesus said those words to Peter. At the time I merely thought it the Lord’s sarcasm and wit were at play.
Oh, how I was wrong!

That moment was forty-nine languages, sixty-two generations, countless wars, countless plagues, and two planets ago!
Now, living in exile again as a Monk on the planet Athos, I am content to be a spectator of events from a distance for now.

My family here is the first in a few dozen generations to know who I truly am, and that is only because I’ve lived here since we came to settle this planet after the great Exodus a dozen generations ago.

Now, the Lord has directed me to move on. My time as a spectator is done and He needs me to become a guide. I resisted for the first time in all these years, but He always has been able to gentle coax me down the road He needs me to go.

How did I go from walking dusty paths in a hot desert to wandering the stars in the cold of space?

Oh, how I long to return to those dusty hills! I hope what is about to dawn in humanities skies is truly, finally, the beginning of the end. I just want to go home! I am tired, weary, worn. I need my long-awaited rest. But alas, my direction isn’t home, it’s to A-Crux system and a Starship called The Ninã.

Captain Dawn had not expected to feel planetary gravity beneath her feet for years to come. When she moved to The Ninã to take command of the ship, she completely expected to live in its artificial gravity for most of the rest of her natural life. Captain’s rarely left their ships unless there was a crisis.

The events on Kranos Delta certainly qualified as a crisis. Turning the corner and showing her credentials to the President’s guards, she knew this meeting was to let her know that her mission, at least in the immediate, had changed. She was prepared to take her ship and crew on a mission to rescue any survivors and find out just what had really happened out there.

She was not prepared, however, for there to be screams flooding her ears as the doors to President Leonel Hernandez’s office opened.

The sound had startled her, and she paused just a moment hold the door open. Realizing the President was watching more footage from Kranos Delta though, she quickly stepped inside and shut the doors.

Hernandez saw the reflection of the open door in his monitor. “Ah Captain, I’m glad you were able to make it down so quickly. I know sometimes shuttles aren’t always at the ready when in space dock.”

“Not on my ship!” Dawn replied, “You never know when someone will need to make a hasty trip for supplies or to treat a medical issue. My ships always have at least three shuttles primed and ready for a moment’s notice.”

Hernandez smiled, “Always prepared for the worst huh?”

“It’s saved your ass more than once!”
Hernandez shut off his monitor and turned to face his long-time friend. “I’m telling you, I had that situation handled. You just wanted to look the hero so you could land The Ninã.”

“A. No you didn’t, B. It worked! And C. Old memories can wait. Spill it so we can get moving!” Dawn was always up to rehash the past with her long-time friend, ex-boyfriend, and fellow foster sibling, but there was a time and a place for that, today definitely isn’t it.

“Your right, we can’t get lost in the rabbit holes of the past.” Picking up a Tablet, he handed it over to Dawn as a formality of the orders he was about to issue. “The Ninã is to launch as normal during the ceremony at 2pm today but her mission isn’t going to take her to the red-line. You are to proceed directly to the Kranos system to investigate the LOS of our colonies there. By the time you get back up to her, The Ninã will have been loaded with extra ordinance, two flights of the new Scorpion Class Fighters and their respective crews, pilots, and CAG officers, as well as two extra medical teams with all the supplies they should need to setup M.A.S.H. units should they be able to help enough people to justify landing them.”

Dawn looked at the tablet with raised eyebrows. “Geez, Leo, you aren’t messing around with this are you? And what am I supposed to do with all these extra personnel once we are done at Kranos? I don’t want to go exploring with enough fire power to start a war or taking this many medical teams out of commission here at home!”

“The Scorpions are now standard issue on The Ninã. You know they were supposed to have been on there anyway, until you convinced the Admirals to let you fly without their support. As for the medical teams, once you are finished in the Kranos system you’ll drop them off in the Capeoh system on your way to the red-line to begin your mission. I have a feeling that you’ll want to refuel and take on supplies while there. If all goes well, you’ll be out there alone for a couple of years.”

“Oh, I hope so.” Still looking over the orders and info on her tablet, something interesting caught her eye.

“What’s this about a Monk from Athos coming to take the Staff Minister Position?”

“Oh that’s right, I almost forgot, Minister Pollack has decided to remain plaent-side to help her congregation grieve the lost of those on Kranos, so the Order is sending a Monk named, John, to take her place.”

“Great, just one more senior staffer I won’t know before heading off into the unknown. What ever happened to Captain’s getting to staff their ships?”

“Ha, don’t look at me, I didn’t burn a world to the ground!”

“The lane is clear, digital sync is five-by-five, call the ball Lt.”

“I have the ball.” Lt. Jill McLee focused on the H.U.D. of her new Scorpion Class fighter as he piloted it into the landing bay of The Ninã. She’d watch the rest of her team expertly land their new craft in the new starships landing bay over the last half an hour and was quite impressed with how quickly everyone had learned the controls of these new ships.

Transitioning from the vacuum of space to the pressurized landing bay, the ship rocked just slightly as it pushed through the force field that held back the night. That was McLee’s cue to shut down the fighter’s engines and expertly land the craft on the anti-grav pads that would carry it to his berth deeper in the ship.

Checking once more to ensure everything was properly shutdown and placed in safe-mode, McLee popped the hatch and stood to exit the craft.

“It’s been a week or so Lt.” Captain Dawn was standing just outside the fighter’s hatch smiling at the Lt., having just returned to the ship herself moments before the Lt.

“That it has. I thought you didn’t want any of us ‘jockeys’ on your bird.”

“I didn’t, but circumstances dictated I changed my mind.”

McLee still hated that she wasn’t fully aware of what would cause Dawn to change her mind on the fighters.

Whatever it was, had to be big because Dawn had never had a single fighter assigned to any ship she’d commanded in the last five years. A perk afforded her only by her experience in the field as a commanding officer.

‘Why waste resources and space on fighters when we have no enemies? Why arm ourselves to run supplies and personnel between our own colonies? Are we ruling by diplomacy or dictatorship?’ Those words had giving her great leeway with the admiralty.

Dawn could tell my McLee’s expression she wasn’t at all happy about not having the full picture of the mission yet. “Don’t worry, we launch in forty-five minutes, once we’re we enter the string, I’ll fill you and the rest of the command staff in on the mission.”

“So, we aren’t merely exploring the edge of known space.”

“Oh, that will come, but first we have a couple of stops to make along the way.”

McLee couldn’t help but smile at the lie told by her friend. “A couple of stops huh?”

John stood in the middle of The Ninã’s chapel and marveled at how far things had come since he and the other disciples had listened to Jesus teach on the hillside all those years ago. Back then the setting was limited sole the actual location. But here, with this amazing technology, John would be able to have his congregation travel to anywhere in anytime they could imagine. It would make his job far easier than in the past if he could wrap his brain around how to use it.

That was one of the many curses of having lived so long. Nothing was as it was when he way young. How he missed the old days where lessons were taught in simplistic parables on a dust hillside. He imagined many of his own teaching here would be in that setting. He had always been most comfortable there.

Just as John had decided he’d seen enough and was about to head out, the door to the holo-chapel opened and a young Commander stepped in.

“Welcome, Commander Throne.” John assumed it was The Ninã’s first officer since he couldn’t remember any other officer carrying that rank in the crew manifest.

The commander was obviously startled by John’s presence as he stopped short and jerked his head in the direction of the old man. “Oh, forgive me Your Excellancy! I wasn’t aware you had arrived. I was simply looking for a quiet place to pray before the launch.”

“Call me John, please. In fact, make that a standing order to the crew. I despise the term ‘Your Excellency’.” Walking to towards the exit John smiled with ease at the young man before him. “And do not be sorry! You are welcome here anytime. If I may?” John paused for the Commander to nod in approval.

“Computer, run program John 87-913. My office is always open if you should need me Commander. Until then, I leave you to your prayers.”

The two men shook hands as the room around them transformed to an ancient church from Earth’s Catholic traditions. Wooden pews filled the space, light filters through the room’s stained glass to cast a warmer hue than the ships standard lighting, and the floor changed from metallic slip resistant tile to slightly traffic worn red carpet. At the rooms front stood two identical pulpits, one for the priest and another for the musicians and non-ordained speakers and church leaders.

To the left was a bank of candles, some lit with long forgotten prayers, others waiting to bit lit by anyone who sought the solace of a church alter over the privacy of their own beside.

John turned and stepped out of the chapel, leaving the commander to his own prayers and thoughts as he continued to familiarize himself with the corridors of his new home. He was expected to be on the bridge for the ship’s launch, but that was still 90 minutes away.

No for now, he’d simply wonder the halls of the ship and watch the men and women he would soon be leading spiritually. They were all so naive to laid ahead. All so sure that they knew what tomorrow would hold. Yet in just as little a day everyone of the crew’s faith would be tested deep down in their unsuspecting souls.

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