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Juliette takes a sip of cappucino. "I am sorry for what I said to you earlier. But the only one on ship that acts irrational to me is you. You were in on Patels mutiny, and that is the only reason for my wanting to listen to you now. I want to know why you were able to first say that the General was unfit, then say that he was fit, then back to unfit again. You are beeing, what is the english word for it...." As she searches for an unknown word Juliettes accent is more french than ever. She frowns as she searches her mind."Indécis... indecisive. That's the word. Please explain so that I can understand your decisions." Juliettes grey eyes studies Karin as she takes yet another sip of her Cappucino.
The trouble is, Patel wanted to call off the evacuation and Heinrich and I couldn't understand why. Plus, my examination seemed to suggest he was fine; physically excellent, mentally stable. So I had to allow him to be reinstated. He promptly had Patel killed. Which was again unlike his profile but I'd done the evaluation and there was nothing else I could do."
She sighs. "You know everything else. Except when I was with them on the Persephone. Then I had time to evaluate Bruce psychologically. He was devoid of any emotion, wooden and expressionless; totally unhuman in this respect. The Doctor Storey wondered if mind-control had been applied by the Mi-go to Bruce. The General stuck up for Bruce when I gave him my report and I realised, he too, is suffering form this same emotionless mind-state. I'm not the only one who has seen it. I think the General knows I know but he doesn't care- what can I do?"
Karin finishes her tea. "So there you have it. We are carrying an unprovable menace back to Earth. I have some questions. One, the Mi-Go can travel in space but why have they not reached Earth before? Is it too far-do they need a vehicle? Two, The Mi-Go killed the first crew and Earth knew nothing about them still. Now they are allowing us to travel back with knowledge of their existence. Why? Actually, they didn't kill the crew, they've kept their brains alive in tanks apparently." Karin shudders. "And three, do you think the Mi-Go are benevolent or hostile?"
"Sir, we can transmit to Earth now," Colleen Rose told General Pryce on the bridge.
"Good," he said. "Open a channel, please."
"Yes, sir." Colleen did as ordered and spoke into the microphone. "This is Lt. Colleen Rose aboard Charon's Ferry calling Earth. General Pryce would like to speak to you."
There was a long delay while the message transmitted. Even at light speed, it took several minutes for the signal to reach Earth, and several more for the reply to return. It finally came: "Charon's Ferry, this is Earth Command. We've had no communications from Styx Base for nearly two months and heard no response to our hails. General Pryce, please explain the situation."
The general approached the microphone and spoke into it: "Earth Command, this is General Richard Pryce. It was necessary to evacuate Styx Base and return to Earth. I accept full responsibility for this decision.
"We were unable to contact Earth sooner, as the Styx Base communications array had been sabotaged sometime on 8 or 9 August. On the morning of 9 August, Captain Juliette Desjardins discovered an unusual rock formation which she discovered concealed an underground tunnel. Exploring it, she found and recovered the long lost Persephone. It was in the possession of a previously unknown alien race called the Mi-Go. First contact with them did not go well. When she returned with Lt. Colonel Howard Bruce and Lt. Hu Xiang to retrieve the Demeter, which she had had to leave on the surface in order to retrieve the Persphone, a group of Mi-Go came out of the rock formation and approached them. Lt. Colonel Bruce was captured, but the others returned safely to base with both craft and Captain Desjardins also captured one of the Mi-Go that had been waiting inside the Demeter. It is my recommendation that she be awarded the highest honour for her heroism and bravery.
"The Mi-Go are a highly technologically advanced species. Captain Karin Bauer has conducted a full medical examination of the Mi-Go that we had captured, and we are bringing her data back with us. They are somewhat insectoid and crustacean in appearance, but they are unlike any known life form. They are, at least in part, composed of fungal matter. We also recovered the energy weapon carried by the Mi-Go, a handheld electrical gun. Our science and engineering staff managed to reverse engineer this weapon and adapt it so that it is usable by a human. The initial test showed it to be very powerful, superior to our latest blaster pistols. We have this weapon with us as well. These creatures have a very disturbing appearance that can induce a fear reaction in those who observe them. When I went to see the captive Mi-Go, I was affected and shot it. It proved resistant to firearms, and while little physical damage was done, the incident made diplomacy difficult. The Mi-Go insisted that we leave Pluto, which is their planet, and return to Earth. The Mi-Go also said that the crew of the Persephone attacked them. They survived, but were injured badly. The Mi-Go are keeping them alive and said they would arrange their repatriation to Earth. We were able to arrange a prisoner exchange, and several Mi-Go brought Lt. Colonel Bruce back to Styx Base. They returned him to us when we released the Mi-Go we had, though they remained in the base to ensure that evacuation proceeded in an orderly manner.
"I regret to say that it did not. Colonel Indira Patel disagreed with my decision to evacuate, and she took advantage of the confusion to instigate a coup against me. Fortunately, Lt. Colonel Bruce and the other security officers were able to put the mutiny down and restore me to command. Colonel Patel was summarily executed at Lt. Colonel Bruce's order. There were also four human visitors who had somehow found their way into Styx Base shortly before we made first contact, all of them unregistered. They were led by a Mr. Story, who claimed to have invented a new variety of transmat with the range to reach Pluto. All attempts to analyze or enter his transmat capsule were unsuccessful. One of the Mi-Go escorted the visitors to their capsule along with Sergeant Heinrich Kohl during the evacuation. From the report of the incident, it seems that they balked when the Mi-Go insisted on accompanying them to Earth in their transmat. That Mi-Go was killed, and the other Mi-Go who remained in the docking bay regarded this as a breach of our agreement and attacked the base personnel still in the bay. Thanks to the courage of Lt. Edward Barrett, Private Alison Silver, and Private Robert MacCrimmon, the Mi-Go were defeated. However, Lt. Barrett was slain, and one of the Mi-Go escaped with his body. Other members of the crew were injured, but they have since made a full recovery. We were able to bring out both the Persephone and Charon's Ferry.
"I will deliver a more detailed report upon our arrival. Our ETA to Earth is approximately six days. We request permission to dock at Medical Centre 1 for quarantine and complete examinations before being permitted planetside. Pryce out."
The twenty or so minutes that passed before the reply came seemed to go by very slowly. At last it came: "General Pryce, this is Earth Command. Permission granted. Welcome home."
"Open a channel, Lt. Rose," said General Pryce on the bridge. "Request permission to dock."
"Yes, sir," said Colleen, complying. She spoke into the ship-to-ship communicator. "Medical Centre 1, this is Charon's Ferry requesting permission to dock."
"Permission granted, Charon's Ferry," replied a man's voice. "The primary docking bay is being opened now. After docking is complete, all personnel will disembark. You will each be taken to isolation rooms for full examinations, and you will be kept isolated from each other for the duration of your stay."
Once the space station's docking bay dome finished opening, the general addressed Captain Juliette Desjardins. "Take us in," he said.
"Charon's Ferry, this is Medical Center 1," said the man on the communicator. "We are ready to receive you now."
"All right," said General Pryce, unbuckling his straps and standing up. "Let us disembark."
Karin has written her reports, hidden extra copies around the ship and alerted the crew. There is nothing else she can do with no support. She hopes that by being calm and professional people may respect her judgement.
At the call to disembark, she picks up her bag and computer and goes meekly into quarantine. As the airlock hisses shut behind her hope dies within; she is about to be processed and there is nothing she can do about it.
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