Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Council of Twenty Three (Mission Impossible -23)

Dranke had been up for two nights straight and when he finally got to bed, he had slept for a whole day. They were due to reach the Hnnesset in a short while. Dex and Sette had discovered that the darkmatter starcraft had a built-in upgrade module. What exactly it did was something which mystified them. It had only been installed very recently after they had returned with commander Yod to spacecommand.

Dex and Sette were back again at the engine room, which had the upgrade module. It resisted any attempts to scan it. Clearly it was tamper-proof. Dranke had finally resorted to checking with the Jen subroutine to figure out what the upgrade module was. Jen had been evasive. "It will all become clear when you reach the Hnnet location." At least they knew it was Hnnet tech. They had to be satisfied with that.

Dranke had a shower, the booth spun the air around him and vacuumed him clean as he stood in the shower booth. He slipped on the ship suit and found his way to the bridge. The crew was milling around, preparing for reaching their destination. The mysterious Hnnet planet was something which they had been waiting to see. There was a palpable excitement around the ship. In a short while, the jumps stopped and the ship began its slow approach to the planet. Except it wasn't a real planet. It was completely artificial. They all stared at the hologram in awe. The spaceport was bigger than Earth. It had protrusions which pointed out into space. Like a planet, it rotated, and it was in a star's gravity well, but it was clear that it was able to jump. It was incredible. The Jen subroutine connected to Dranke "The spaceport is called Hexe. It is completely transformable, like every Hnnet device." She went on to explain more about Hexe and it's rules. Dranke was unable to respond. This was overwhelming. Jen understood and asked Dranke to connect to the voice response. He did and indicated that Vaxe should take over. She quickly connected to the Hexe operator on the spaceport. "Welcome humans. You are scheduled for an upgrade. As Jen explained, the Raven is to link to the Shipyard which we will guide you to. Please switch off all propulsion, tractor beams will take over."

Vaxe replied as if this was something she had seen many time before "Of course. Engines off. Standing by for tractor beams." The ship was drawn towards one of the long appendages which slid out further until it encased the ship. Then they were inside a transparent tube, moving at impossible speeds around bends and rights angles. The ship came to rest on a cushion of something. Air? It was impossible to tell. The sensors showed structures all around. The Hnnet doorway opened directly into the Raven's main bridge. "Please disembark." They did. They were in a vast shipyard. Everwhere they looked, there were appendages which seemed to come out of nowhere and sped towards the ship. Most of them seemed to meld into the skin of the Raven. Dranke pushed it out of his mind. There was nothing to be done but watch. They didn't even notice when Ed and Jen walked up to them, looking human. Ed grinned "Welcome to Hexe. We will travel to the Hnnesset shortly. Do not worry, your ship upgrade has been cleared by your Leader." Dranke nodded. He was beginning to understand that events would take place, and he had to anticipate, plan and if all else failed, just go along with what was happening.

Piteer and Fenie were the most excited of the lot. The sights and sounds were something to experience, and their eyes widened as they saw the kind of tech the Hnnet employed. Within a few minutes, they were at a concourse. All shapes and sizes of creatures seemed to go past without a care. Some of them were aquatic. Others were wispy or tall, plantlike beings. There were a swarm of something which flew past. Some seemed robotic. It was all very strange and alien. They gawked as they walked past. The concourse led to a staging area. While pads levitated in the air.... Dranke looked at these curiously. The Jen subroutine told him they were teleporters. He looked at the real Jen to see if she was aware of the mental connection. She seemed to be unaware. But he couldn't be sure.

Ed told them to stand just below the pads..... the pads which floated right above their heads.They turned translucent the moment the crew stood under them. Kell seemed to know what was to happen next. There was a deep blue light which illuminated them.... seeming almost solid and then they were in the Hnnesset. It was a huge habitat. And it had important looking creatures in gaudy colors all over the place. They were in a plaza in the middle of a garden which had some strange looking organic material. It couldn't be called a garden really. And the plaza 'stones' seemed alive. It was strange and unsettling. The Jen subroutine told Dranke that the Hnnesset was a living organism. It was efficient beyond anything that could have been made. It was a living planet! The whole concept was staggering. And the heads of state from all the member planets lived on the Hnnesset. Ed was telling the crew the same thing. They walked on..... Ed was speaking "As explained to you all, the Hnnesset is ready to receive you. We are keen to have an ambassador from Earth have a seat on the membership, as a test. Captain you must nominate one person from your crew, but we would prefer if you were to accept the ambassadorship for Earth. It is a temporary seat until we can formalize it." He seemed almost apologetic.

Dranke was shaken out of his 'go with the flow' attitude. This was serious. Outwardly he said "Let me think about it." but inwardly, everything seemed so fluid, he felt discombobulated. He turned off the Jen subroutine. He would need some privacy to confer with his crew. Ed, in the meanwhile, continued talking without a pause about the twenty-three Hnnet who made up the council. They were individuals with an impressive list of achievements. Many of them had gone on suicide missions to save a species; and survived against all odds. Dranke tuned out; the tour was something he could review with Jen later, he had more pressing concerns right now. Fenie seemed to understand his mood, and she walked close to Dranke, reassuring him with her presence.

There was so much to talk about! Dranke looked at his crew - Fenie, Kell, Vaxe, Piteer, Dex and Sette. Who should he decide on? He did not know how he was to conceive a decision of this magnitude. He decided to wait until they were alone. Fenie looked at him knowingly and grinned. It would have to be his decision.

Pic courtesy: Wikimedia commons, (ESO) Artist's impression of Gliese 667 Cb with the Gliese 667 A/B binary in the background - http://goo.gl/wWTBLh

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