Authors: Andrew Beery
The Catherine Kimbridge Chronicles #2, Redemption
Copyright 2012-13 by Andrew Beery
d like to thank my wife Lori and my two daughters CJ and Jackie for putting up with me while I wrote this next book in the Kimbridge series. Any similarity between people in this book and my immediate family and friends is purely intentional.
d also like to thank my twin brother Peter for putting in months proofreading and providing concept tweaks.
The Kimbridge series initially utilized the services of a dedicated group of volunteer editor
because of their help, as well as numerous people posting corrections o
Facebook Author's page
it was slowly improved for new readers.
Starting in April of 2013 the entire Kimbridge series enjoyed the services of a professional editor. My thanks to Ronda from Mystic Memories for her great work and tutelage.
Of course, I would
t be much of a pastorif I did
to Him be all the glory!
2123 was not my best yea
Let me state, for the record, dying is not fun and is definitely overrated. This was the year the newly formed Galactic Coalition of Planets faced its greatest threat since the D'lralu invasion. The nearly omnipotent Heshe sought to redeem themselves for past sins. The problem with this type of redemption was the price others sometimes had to pay for that salvation...
* * *
Rastii was a green-eyed Ashkelon. The world was a crazy place. In another few years when his eyes turned blue, he would join his mother in the space corps. The space corps was where the excitement was at. The Ashkelon had recently broken the light-speed barrier by folding space like a wall worm inching along a lava-leaf. At least that is how his flock mate Sassi explained it. His eyes were almost solid blue, and he was really smart.
Mother had left him early this morning. She had flown out of the family's
nest with little more than a peck on his beak. The ships had left the spaceport. All of them. The skies had glowed with an unusual electrical display, like the bad season for flying. However, there was no rain and the sound of thunder's clap never came to his nest. For some reason, the sun's red glow seemed brighter than he had ever remembered it, and it was getting brighter still. He wished his nest mates would come home. It was all very confusing.
was parked in orbit around a planet called Gliese 581g. Gliese 581 was an M-class star that was roughly a third the mass of Earth's sun. It was what the astronomers called a red dwarf with spectral type M3V, located 20.3 light-years away from Earth.
The planet designate
’ was nickname
’ because it was the first Earth-like planet in the so-called
’ discovered by humanity in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Because Gliese 581 had a much lower mass than Earth's Sun, the core region of the
star fused hydrogen at a much lower rate. The result was both a much lower level of spectral emissions and a significant shift in frequency.
’ Kimbridge swiveled her black faux leather command chair to face her science officer's station. Cat was a deceptively petite woman with long bright-red hair perpetually tied in a tail with an unadorned black band. To look at her, one would imagine she barely massed 110 pounds and was little over her mid-thirties. In point of fact, because of enhancements made by an alien race known as the Heshe, her body was teaming with advanced nanites that increased her mass to almost two hundred pounds. Rather than being in her thirties, Cat was approaching her eightieth birthday. She held multiple advanced degrees in the sciences and at one point had been Earth's foremost authority on Hyperfield Dynamics, which was the science that allowed ships to exceed the limits imposed by the light-speed barrier.
"Commander Trifa, what are the sensors telling us?"
Commander Trifa was the
science officer. She looked for all the world like a five-foot iridescent green-feathered kangaroo with three-fingered hands and a nub tail. She was from a race known officially as the Hupenstanii, but who everyone, including the Hupenstanii,called th
surface temperature of the star is approaching 3200 kelvins with a visual luminosity of 0.23 percent that of Sol. The star's primary emissions are shifted deep into the infrared with peak emission at a wavelength of roughly 830 nanometers. Total bolometric luminosity is closer to 1.3 percent that of Earth normal. If we choose to visit the planet, be forewarned this star is a strong X-ray emitter. The planet itself is roughly 1.7 times Earth's mass; however, the relative density is only 60 percent that of Earth so the surface gravity is only fractionally more than Earth normal. As you can see from the forward view screen, it is most certainly a water world with 69 percent of the surface taken up by a single large ocean
The planet is orbiting much closer to its sun and so the tidal impact of the primary is more acutely felt than on Earth. The atmosphere is primarily nitrogen and neon gasses with a 17 percent oxygen content. The X-rays from the sun have created a fairly substantial protective ozone layer. The light is wrong for most of our species but other than that, it is an extremely habitable world."
"Any signs of intelligent life?" Cat asked.
Trifa adjusted a setting on her console before answering. "It's difficult to tell Ma'am. There seems to be an abundance of plant life, but because of the relatively low level of energy being emitted by the primary and the resulting shift in frequencies, the rate of evolution seems to be much slower on Goldi than on any of our worlds. The apparent bio diversity on the more easily scanned land masses seems to be considerably lower than even present day Earth, given the mass extinctions on your world."
"Ziggy, are you picking up anything on comms?"
"Negative, Ma'am. Just a lot of popping from the X-rays interacting with the ionosphere. Hold it... Hold it..."
Leaning forward Cat said softly "What is it Lieutenant?"
"Commodore, I'm getting something exceedingly strange on the hyperfield detectors. I've never seen a signal like this."
Turning in her chair to look at her first
officer, she said, "Ken, take a look and give me..."
Before she could
finish her request, she was interrupted by the blaring of the ship's battle klaxon and a sudden shift of the bridge's lighting to a deep red.
"Silence that alarm
. Cal, what the hell is going on?"
The ship's Heshe sentient AI responded
A temporal hyperfold in space-time has occurred, and a new planet has temporally jumped into position 0.6 AU from our current position. There appear to be 490 ships surrounding the planet with their weapons systems fully charged.
"Seven times seventy..." Ken muttered.
"What?" Cat asked.
… Sorry, Commodore, that fleet is changing course and is headed right for us. Shall I raise shields?" Ken asked.
"Probably a good idea. Ziggy
try to raise that armada. Tie in the ship's encounter unit. It might know the language they're going to be using with us."
," the First Officer yelled. "Chief Wroblewski, charge the beam weapons but keep them locked down until we know for sure we have a fight on our hands."
The D'lralu power
engineer, a cybernetic six-legged canine named Commander Ben, inched the main reactors up to 80 percent capacity.
Cat activated her
internal encounter unit. The nanite-infused computer was a gift from her Heshe benefactors and provided her with a personal AI as well as a universal translator based on the massive language archive available to the ancient Heshe race. It shared a collective consciousness with the ship's AI.
"Cal, can you identify the language being used by these people?"
Indeed, Commodore. They appear to be the Ashkelon. A race my progenitors regrettably destroyed some two point three million years ago.
Captain Lastila of the Ashkelon Space Exploration Corps settled in her command
nest. The strange alien craft was closest to her vessel. She had her navigation team working on a new jump solution, but it would be several hours before they were able to mentally calculate the proper coordinates, even for a short inter-system jump like this.
She had the plasma
drive pushed to the limit accelerating towards this new threat. If, she thought to herself, that truly was what this new ship represented. She was concerned. The Ashkelon had been fighting – and if truth be known, losing – a battle for their very survival with the aggressive overlords of a star system they had stumbled upon shortly after the Ashkelon's scientists had discovered how to fold space. The discovery had made interstellar travel possible and, coincidentally, spelled their demise as a race.
With the perfect clarity of hindsight, Lastila wished the discovery had never been made. Her only
fledgling, a beautiful chick named Rastii, was at home in their nest. She worried about him. The enemy had somehow changed the orbit of their home world and their planet had been spiraling into the sun. She wanted nothing more than to race home, grab her son, and escape this war in her ship; but she knew that was impossible. The enemy was viciously attacking all craft that tried to flee. Already the Ashkelon exploration fleet, which had numbered almost two thousand, was reduced to less than a quarter of that number.
Because of the
time it took to calculate jump coordinates it was no longer possible to save her world or any meaningful portion of the population. Then it seemed everything changed. Literally. A few minutes ago both she and her planet were back in a stable orbit around their sun. The thousands of enemy craft were simply gone and in their stead was this single massive craft bristling with weapons.
Entire flocks had died protecting Ashkelon, including many of her nest mates. She needed answers...
and good, bad, or otherwise, that massive ship had them. She fluttered her low-frequency antenna and barked a command to her communications officer; the young officer was just coming into his blue. "Sassi, try again to hail them."
Sassi was surrounded by a communications console that dwarfed his diminutive ensign's nest. Despite his rank, he was
proficient at his task. He could trill all sixty major dialects of his people as well as interpret a significant number of the chromophoric patterns utilized by their enemy.
"Ma'am, I'm broadcasting a friend message on all frequencies as well as sending a binary prime number sequence at the 1.42 gigahertz waterhole marker frequency. I have all our receivers online and fully staffed.
If anyone hears something, they'll signal my board immediately and I'll patch them through."
job; keep on..." Lastila said. As she was speaking; however, she saw one of Sassi's higher frequency antennas twitch and bend toward his console.
Cat straightened in her seat before speaking. "This is Commodore Catherine Kimbridge of the Galactic Coalition of Planets Starship
. We are on a peaceful mission. Please respond."
Lieutenant Zimmerman tapped a few buttons on his holographic keyboard and confirmed the message was sent. "Your greeting has been sent Ma'am
, in ten of their most common dialects." Ziggy paused briefly while cocking his head slightly. "We have a response, patching you through now."
"Put it on the
," Ziggy said.
beloved of the creator. This is Captain Lastila of the Ashkelon Exploration Corps starship
beloved of the creator." Cat returned ritually. "How may the beloved be of service?"
"Love your neighbor
." the Ashkelon captain answered. "You know our rituals. Can I trust you are not here to destroy us?"
a people who value peace. We will fight to defend ourselves. Your armada appeared on our screens a few minutes ago. The configuration of your fleet suggests you were engaged in a battle."
The Ashkelon commander paused before answering. "We were fighting for our lives.
Many lost their lives. We expected to die. Our enemy jumped out of our system the moment they ensured our demise; and then, just as suddenly, you appeared. My nest mates want to know: Did you come to save us or destroy us?"
"Neither. Actually we, like you, are explorers. As I said before, you appeared on our screens quite unexpectedly. When we opened communications your greeting, and its
form, took us by surprise," Cat responded.
speak our language with pristine clarity. Surely you have met our race before?" The Ashkelon captain answered.
Cat looked at her first
officer, Ken Kirkland before answering. "In truth, we have not, but we have access to information collected by another race that has. As far as our ability to speak your language, our computers are providing real-time translations."
There was a pause before they heard a response. When it came through there was an
unmistakable sense of incredulity. "You have flock-mates that can translate between species in real-time?"
"In a sense. Our Artificial Intelligences are capable of doing this."
There was another long pause. "I'm not sure I know what an Artificial Intelligence is, but it is clear we have much to talk about. I've just been informed by my science officer that the stars surrounding our solar system have moved."