Welcome, friends, to another exciting installment of…
But T.J., you may be saying (out loud to your computer). Didn’t we just have a Fighting For the Galaxy
Friday Thursday yesterday?
And the answer is that yes, yes we did. But it has come to my attention that as today is actually Friday, I am honor-bound to provide another chapter of gif-laden science fiction dreck to you, my faithful readers, or risk tarnishing my good name forever.
So, put on your flight helmets and get into a consequence-free shouting match with your superior officer, because it’s time for another thrilling chapter of FIGHTING FOR THE GALAXY…!
When we last left our heroes, Commander T.J. Baer (and her faithful friends, Jen and Jess) had just refused to participate in a space battle against the murderous Sffon Collective because it was an obvious, neon-lights-flashing Trap. Captain Torel Abrigio, fingers planted firmly in his ears, dismissed T.J.’s warnings and ordered the fleet to proceed – and they were all blown to bits, including the majority of the planet Saturn (for some reason). When we rejoin our heroes, Captain Abrigio, T.J., Jess, Jen, and a few other survivors are facing down the fearsome Council of the Galactic Military to defend their actions.
And because I was thirteen when I wrote this, there will also be a swingin’ party where there are, like, boys and stuff.
AND NOW BACK OUR STORY:
Fighting For the Galaxy
by (13-year-old) T.J. Baer
In which T.J. meets Rendar, who is attractive but punchable; Jen throws a party (whose attendance should be approximately 5 given the death toll in chapter one); and T.J. is accused of being a Sffon spy, then is immediately sent on a top-secret undercover mission.
They stood in front of the Council of Earth on Galactic Incidents and Matters: Jessica McKinney, Jennifer Edwards, Torel Abrigio, Sonda Ghhi, T.J. Baer, and Rendar Teetan. Rendar was 22 years old, human, but not from Earth. He came from a planet whose population had been almost completely destroyed by plague around the time Rendar was born.
All males in the Teetan family had been automatically immune to the disease, but they had had to watch everyone else die: their wives, sisters, daughters, girlfriends. Eventually, the planet regained some of the population it had once had, but then the Sffon took over. Luckily, Rendar had just joined GaMi so he was on Earth at the time. What was left of his family was slaughtered, but this only made the young man stronger.
His hair was a beautiful golden brown color and was short and straight, while his eyes were a deep shade of violet that only enhanced his attractive exterior. He was a commander who had just recently joined the Santol Squad.
Sonda Ghhi, galactically renowned for her flying skills, was from the planet Haruul and had black hair and green eyes, along with a fair complexion.
“Captain Abrigio,” the Board Leader said. “Is it true that you were warned of the possible circumstances but refused to investigate into it before launching your attack?”
“Yes, sir, that is correct,” Abrigio said shamefully. “But in my own defense, I had no way of knowing that the problem with the sensors was jamming. I assumed it was just interference due to our close proximity to the planet.”
Rendar cleared his throat. “If I may make a comment here,” he said.
One of the board members nodded her head, and Rendar continued. T.J. could see that he was not afraid of the awesome Board, but was intelligent enough to realize that they could court martial him if they wanted to, and his GaMi career would be ended.
“I was looking at the same readouts everyone else was, and I had no reason to assume that something was going to happen. If the commander here did, maybe she had foreknowledge of this incident.”
T.J. blinked to be sure that she had heard him right. “Are you saying I’m with the Sffon?” she asked incredulously.
He turned to her calmly, violet eyes seeming to look right through her. “Are you?”
“Of course not!” she shouted.
The Head of the Board slammed a gavel onto the table. “One more outburst like that, Commander, and I may be forced to hold you in contempt. Any questions can be answered rationally and calmly.”
She swallowed her anger and outrage. “No,” she said, “I am not with the Sffon. If you would like to search me or my quarters, you may. Besides, why would I warn everyone if I already knew what was going to happen? And if I had wanted to warn my fellow comrades, why not tell them that I was positive that that ship out there was gonna blow?”
Rendar folded his arms across his chest, not impressed at all by her defense. “If you revealed your entire knowledge of the attack, that’d be as good as admitting you were a spy of the Sffon, so it would be much easier just to pretend you were playing on a hunch. If Captain Abrigio listened to you, you would return a hero and become a very trusted member of GaMi. If not, the fleet gets destroyed and the captain gets in trouble; it all works out.”
“I don’t believe this,” T.J. said. “Sure, it works out in your mind, but I swear I’m not working for the Sffon. And if you didn’t trust me from the beginning, why did you leave formation and land on the cruiser, huh?”
“Enough!” the Leader shouted, cutting Rendar off before he could end his sentence. “We will investigate this, but until further notice, Commander Baer will remain at her post – as will the captain. And if Commander Teetan has any qualms with that, he will fill out a complaint form like anyone else.”
T.J. slammed the door open with her fist and left the room. Jen and Jess ran to catch up with her.
“T.J., calm down,” Jen called as the commander retreated back to her living quarters down the hallway.
The enraged woman slapped her hand onto the button to open the door to her chambers. “I don’t want to calm down!” she yelled.
Jess dashed up to her. “Don’t worry, you can beat that little toad’s face off any time!”
Despite her mood, T.J. had to smile. “That would be fun, but it would probably get me a court martial.”
Jen, out of breath from speeding through the hallway, stood in the doorway. “You could always hire a hitman,” she suggested jokingly.
“Or I could hire you, Jen, and you’d do the same thing for free,” T.J. laughed.
“Watch yourself or I’ll start charging you,” Jen warned.
The communication box on the wall bleeped. T.J. trudged over to it and flipped it on. “Yes?”
It took a second for the face to materialize on the screen. It was Captain Abrigio. “You have an assignment, Commander.”
T.J. suppressed a grimace. “What is it, sir?”
“An undercover mission. Are you alone?”
T.J. turned around, but Jen and Jess were already on their way out.
“Yes,” she replied.
Abrigio nodded. “Good. Have you had any acting experience, Commander?”
“Because you are about to do a little acting. You will play Commander Teetan’s newlywed wife on the planet Maridia.”
T.J. did a double-take. “What!” she yelped. “Why?”
“Because you two have the most qualifications to do this. Your main objective will be finding a man by the name of Hitta Kalantz. He has a bit of information that is vital if GaMi is going to survive. Teetan will tell you more about the mission on the way. But make sure no one sees through your disguise. That means you must act like you would if you two were newlyweds.”
“Why?” she said again. “Why can’t we just be brother and sister or something?”
“We had to have an excuse for you two to be living with one another, and it is quite rare for a brother and sister, both in their twenties, to be living together unless they are strange. If people think you two are eccentric, they may talk and put their noses where they don’t belong. It’ll work better this way,” Abrigio promised. “Trust me. Just make sure it’s convincing! And don’t discuss this with anyone. The ship is called the Pacific; be there at precisely 800 hours tomorrow morning. Abrigio out.”
And with that, the screen went blank. “Oh, fantastic,” T.J. commented sarcastically to herself.
* * *
The next morning, T.J. awoke with a groan at 700 hours. She ate breakfast, took a shower, and then put on a plain gray flight suit and boots. She blew dry her long brown hair and headed for the hangar bay. Rendar was already in the cockpit when she arrived.
“Ah,” she said. “You’re here. I thought you’d be off somewhere shedding your skin.”
He turned to look at her and motioned for her to sit in the co-pilot’s seat. “Look,” he said. “I know we got off to a kind of lousy start, but what was I supposed to think? You were the only one who knew about the incident before it happened.”
She sighed and sat down in the chair. “Just because I have good intuition doesn’t mean I’m a Sffon. Just accept that I’m not who you think I am, and this mission should go fine.”
He looked for a minute like he was going to argue, but apparently decided against it. “Okay,” he said. “We’ll put aside our differences for the sake of the mission. Oh,” he said, as if suddenly recalling something. “Did Captain Abrigio tell you everything about the mission?”
“Not completely,” she answered. “He said you’d fill me in.”
He grimaced. “Then I guess he didn’t tell you about the kiss thing.”
“What kiss thing?” she asked, alarmed.
“We have to kiss while we’re on the planet to make sure everyone buys our roles,” he told her.
“Oh, great!” she exclaimed as he started up Pacific’s engine.
“Believe me, I was just as enthused as you when they told me,” he said dryly. “But we have to keep up appearances for the public’s sake. Do you honestly think a just-married couple would not kiss at all?”
“Well,” she said. “Maybe not in public.”
“Forget it,” he said. “I tried everything, but the captain says it’s the only way.” He reached up to grab the lever to send them hurtling through lightspeed. “Besides, you haven’t heard the worst part yet. Captain Abrigio expects us to practice on the way over.”
She suppressed a sigh of despair. “Perfect, just perfect.”
“It won’t be that bad,” he said after unfastening his safety belt. She did the same. “Just because we hate each other doesn’t mean that we can’t act. Pretend we’re in a movie or something.”
“I suppose,” she said reluctantly.
“It won’t be that bad,” he repeated convincingly. “Trust me!”
She sighed. “Now why do I find that hard to do?”
He stood up. “Come on, we have to practice.”
T.J. stared at him. “Right now?”
“We only have three days.”
She got up with another sigh and folded her arms over her stomach. “Fine, let’s get started.”
* * *
Jess knocked on the cold metal of the door, not even bothering to use the little doorbell. It was so impersonal. In a few short moments, her steady boyfriend Mark Ivanson slapped the panel on the inner wall and the door slid open. His light brown hair was sticking almost straight up.
“Hi, Jess,” he greeted as he yawned.
“Having a bad hair day?” she asked with a chuckle.
“Girl, what time are you on? It’s 1:00 AM!”
She shrugged. “Jen’s having a party in her quarters in a few minutes. I thought maybe you’d like to be my date.” She gazed into his dazzling green eyes that stared back at her lovingly.
He grinned and straightened his hair up surprisingly quickly with a swipe of his tanned hand. “I would love to be your date,” he answered. “Just let me go change and I’ll be right out.”
She smiled, thanking God again for the fantastic man he had sent her. She and Mark had been together for almost three years already, and their love was still as strong as ever.
Mark was ready in a few moments, wearing a flannel shirt over a white T-shirt and blue jeans. Jessica’s outfit was a bit more dressy than his, but casual for her. GaMi was only a moderately strict military outfit. You only had to wear a uniform when going to a formal dinner or awards assembly. And there was no curfew, as long as you were able to awaken at 6:00 AM sharp, and got to the cafeteria in time for roll call and breakfast.
The main reason GaMi didn’t crack down hard on slackers was because GaMi’s entire army was made up of volunteers who would rather get paid for almost getting killed in the war effort than sit back and watch everybody else get all the action. Which didn’t really qualify as volunteer work, but was about as close to it as you could get.
Mark and Jessica walked arm in arm down the never deserted hallway and headed for the elevator. Jen’s quarters were on the bottom floor of the 12-story building. Jess’s, Mark’s, and T.J.’s were all on the 7th floor.
“Did T.J. tell you anything about her mission?” Mark wondered conversationally as they stepped into the lift.
“No,” Jessica answered as she pulled a bit of fuzz off Mark’s flannel and threw it on the floor. “My guess is that Captain Abrigio forbid her to. Why?”
“This could take awhile,” he said. He pushed the button for the bottom floor. “Okay, do you know Rendar Teetan?”
Jess scowled. “Yeah, he’s a little worm, but he has a very nice—” She caught herself before she said anything that might anger Mark. “Uh, hair,” she covered quickly.
Mark began to frown and looked as if he was about to say, “That doesn’t make sense, Jess,” but Jessica spoke before he could comment on her near slip up. “Anyway,” she said.
The frown disappeared. “Anyway,” he continued, “he told me a little about his newly formed opinion on T.J.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Newly formed opinion?”
“He said that he liked her personality, but still thinks she’s with the Sffon. But about the mission, he said something about them pretending to be married to fool some guy into giving them information.”
“Married?” Jess laughed. “They hate each other! Boy, they should be selling tickets to this. You mean they have to pretend to be married? As in LIKING each other?”
He nodded. “Yep. Oop, here we are. This is our floor, baby.”
She watched as the doors slid open. She had been so wrapped up in the short conversation that she had nearly forgotten Jen’s party. “Oh, well,” she said. “I’ll get T.J. to tell me all about it when she gets back. And you get everything you can from Rendar and we’ll compare notes.”
Mark grinned as they entered the already swinging party. “Don’t worry, I’ll get every detail. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if they actually ended up liking each other after this little experience?”
TO BE CONTINUED…
In case you had the gross misfortune to miss the first installment of Fighting For the Galaxy, you can read chapter one here.
Click here for Chapter 3.