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01 March 2013 @ 05:45 am
Incarnations, Chapter Two  
(I changed the working title and a character name.)

It was time to clean up the mess.

The first part of the process was to remove the biohazard fluids, blood, brain matter and urine, left on the decks by the dead thugs. This was followed by the examination for evidence of the staterooms and luggage of the offenders. This task was left to the security chief of the ship, Julie Canny.

The three thugs from Hope had clothing that was flashy and ill fitting. Designed to be worn by those who barely engaged in any thought. And with the belief that it was effective for attracting attention from those who did not think.

The little intellectual material found on their notebook computers reflected the culture of their home world. Full hatred for all races other than their own. Extreme hatred of the Freyans. Hated of any form of independent thought and material success in reality. The entertainment material was incoherent noise masquerading as music and some very hardcore pornography.

Their computers and clothing were ejected out the airlock with the mortal remains.

The Xenophonian mercenary was more interesting.

His personal clothing and other items were plain and practical. His notebook computer took some effort to crack into. Once the computer was cracked it was very apparent that in addition to working as the chief bodyguard of Wolfe, he also intended to perform a reconnaissance on a Freyan ship on behalf of the Xenophon Mercenary Corps. Julie discussed the sections of the ship that were priorities for examination with the engineer, Mr. Czech. In his opinion the information sought would be required to carry out a sabotage operation.

The Xenophonian’s body was placed in cryogenic storage on the hibernation deck and his computer and personal effects placed in secure storage to be turned over to Confederation military intelligence.

The apparel of Edward Wolfe followed the current youth fashion on Earth. This meant that he apparently put no thought into the acquisition or the appearance of it.

The notebook computer was another can worms altogether.

There were no intellectual text files present apart from an annotated English language translation of the Koran. The music and video files followed the current entertainment fashion on Earth

This was no surprise.

The visual pornography files were very graphic and very sadistic in content.

Then Canny opened the file folder labeled DONNER.

If the images were computer generated then they were very indicative of a very deep psychological disorder. If the images were real then they were hard evidence of a series of serious, sadistic, and lethal crimes.

Wolfe also had in his possession a hardbound copy of a work simply titled THE BOOK OF PEACE.

The computer, book, and Wolfe’s personal effects were placed in secure storage to be turned over to the Confederation police on Freya.

At the midpoint of their flight through the Solar System the liner went into free fall mode for turnover. Although there was a way to continue acceleration during a turnover the Freyaspace management had concluded that it was a waste of reaction mass.

Just short of the jump point the Reliable came almost to a dead stop before the engines were shut off. The ship was in free fall mode and set to slowly coast through the location of the jump point in normal space.

Evelyn and Diana were belted into their observer seats on the command deck. Diana had wore no makeup and had her hair cut to a practical length and was wearing slippers and scrubs from the sickbay.

From Evelyn’s view she was stunning.

“So how does the jump drive work?” Diana asked.

“Good question.” Said Evelyn. “The closest thing I heard to a clear answer is that we’re taking advantage of a cosmic loophole.”

“In both the literal and metaphorical sense of the word?”

“Yes.” He replied.

In spite of the manufacturer’s training Diana was showing a great amount of curiosity and a willingness to learn. But then she did initiate her escape on her own. Once she had her own access to the ship’s network she devoured intellectual files as if there were no tomorrow. In any case this was in Evelyn’s opinion a good sign.

The first officer spoke.

“Captain, all stations report ready for jump.”

Even though she checked the clock herself she followed the established procedure.

“Time to jump?” She asked.

“Two minutes, forty seconds.”

“This is the most boring part.” Evelyn said softly.

The first officer counted off the time to jump at fifteen second intervals. And then began a full count at fifteen seconds.

At five seconds Evelyn spoke to Diana.

“Close your eyes.”

At the moment of jump the universe disappeared...

...and then reappeared.

When Diana recovered from the effects of the jump she spoke.

“What just happened?”

It took ten seconds for Evelyn to answer.

“It’s called jump shock or jump discontinuity.” He said.

“It felt like I didn’t exist?”

“Yes.” He said. “Like reality became unreal for a moment.”

“Why?”

He looked at her.

“I have no idea.” He said. “No one does.”

DX Cancri was a red dwarf star that was almost twelve light years from Earth. It only had nine percent of the mass of the Sun. The lesser effect of the red dwarf’s gravity allowed the points from and to which ships could jump to be much closer together in space. This had the practical effect of shortening the travel time and reducing the reaction mass requirements for crossing the system. In addition to the point to the Solar System, DX Cancri also had jump points to fifteen other stars.

The port for the system was on an airless and ice covered satellite of an gas giant planet. Someone with a sense of humor named it Nowhere.

On the approach to Nowhere three women were having a discussion in the sick bay.

“You want me to what?” Said Diana.

Doctor Hart replied.

“We need to take your physical measurements so we could go shopping for you on the station.”

“Why can’t I go shopping myself?”

Doctor Adams answered.

“On this ship you are a person.” She said. “The station is Federation territory, where you are still classed as property. And as an escaped slave you are subject to summary execution upon identification.”

“So I can’t go?” Said Diana.

“Correct,” said Doctor Adams, “so we’ll have to go for you.”

“And you’ll have all the fun?” Asked Diana.

Doctor Hart replied.

“Well no. We can bring up the catalog and you can make your choices here. We’ll then go aboard the station and pick up the order.”

Doctor Hart brought up a catalog page on her workstation.

“Star-Mart is not the best retailer of women’s clothes in the Known Universe, but they are on the Nowhere station, you can do a better job of shopping and have proper fun when we reach home.”

An announcement was made on the shipboard address system.

“One hour to free fall mode.”

As Diana was vicariously shopping with the doctors Evelyn was observing ship’s operations on the command deck. When she found a break in procedures Captain Hausa walked over to and sat down next to him.

“Boss, we have a problem.” She said.

“What is it?”

“Two agents of the Federation Investigation Service want to talk to you.”

“No.” He responded. “They should know better than to even make that request of someone with a diplomatic passport.”

“I took the liberty of making an inquiry.” She said. “Their address on the station is located in the section belonging to the Office of Replacement Retirement.”

Evelyn nodded.

“That is such a lame designation for a murder squad.” He said. “Let’s be safe and assume the worst case is now in effect. No one who is not scheduled to transfer at the station leaves the ship. We top off the reaction mass tanks and go.”

“Yes, sir.” Said Captain Hausa.

Charon decided to remain on the command deck while the ship was docked at the station.

Diana had made her way to the command deck while the ship was in the free fall condition. She wore velcro grip gloves and slippers. She had learned to do the Kubrick walk in the weightless condition.

“Sit down and strap in.” Evelyn said.

Diana did so.

“What happened?” She asked.

“The slave murder squad wants a word with me. I said no.”

She stared at him.

“Try to not worry, we’ll top off the tanks and be out of here.”

She nodded.

Charon continued to sit on the command deck and supervise. Before the top off procedure was almost complete his personal phone rang.

“Yes Captain?” He said.

“Sir, we have another problem.”

“What is it?”

“The thugs are stopping the remass procedure and said they are aiming the station’s weapons at the ship. They want to speak to you -- NOW.”

Charon thought for a moment.

“I will meet with them at the passenger airlock. Have the security team ready to repel boarders.”

“Yes, sir.”

Diana spoke.

“What’s happening?”

“The slave murder squad is being really stupid.” He replied. “They’re threatening to use force. I’m going to have a nice little chat with them.”

“I want to be there.” Diana said.

“They want to kill you.”

“I’m responsible for my own life.”

“Yes, you are.” Charon replied. “But I won’t let them take you while I’m alive.”

Diana nodded.

“Let’s go.” He said.

The security team were setting up at the nearest corridor crossing to the airlock. They were wearing their zero-g combat overalls, with velcro patches to allow the wearers to attach themselves to the deck or those sections of wall and ceiling that were also covered with velcro. They also had two squad support weapons. They were the four millimeter mass driver technology replacement for the general purpose machine gun. The gunners had locked the five hundred round ammunition cassettes in place. The bipods were set into slots in the walls for operation in the free fall environment. To civilian eyes the slots appeared to be solely decorative. The optical sights on the weapons were at the single red-dot setting for zero-g.

The two other team members carried what appeared to be telescopes with bipods, pistol grips, and rifle stocks. There were power cords for the laser weapons running to packs on each crew members back.

All members of the security team were using the corners of the entry corridor to mask their bodies from view from the airlock. With only the head, arms, and shoulders being visible.

When the security team was ready the leader spoke.

“We’re ready.” Said Julie.

Attached to the deck with their velcro shoes just three meters short of the airlock were Evelyn Charon, Captain Hausa, and Diana.

“Good.” Said Evelyn.

He turned to the Captain.

“You don’t have to be here.”

“I am the captain. I have to be here.” She replied. “And I wouldn’t miss the work of a master.”

“I wouldn’t quite put it that way.” He replied.

He turned to Diana.

“You don’t have to be here.” He said.

“I’m not leaving your side.

He looked straight ahead.

“Right then. Remember, fear is an emotion, fear is the negation of thought, I will pass by the state of fear to the state of reason.” He said.

Charon placed his hands on his hips and issued the order.

“Open the airlock.”

The door to the Nowhere Station slid open.

On the far side of the airlock, still within the station was a black clad group of eight men. Each of them were armed with the nine millimeter ACRS. The shortened version of the last generation of chemically fueled assault weapons issued by the Federation armed forces. Their feet were attached to the deck with velcro slippers over their combat boots.

Morons. Charon thought. The first man to fire a round would be propelled backwards. And he would knock back everyone behind him in a free fall domino effect.

Which would be absurd if they weren’t deployed to do it for real.

Beyond the would-be storm troopers were two men, an older African-American and a younger Caucasian with an appalling boy-band hair style. They wore suits and ties. Stationed on a space station they should have already known that neckties and the weightless condition did not mix.

They had to be the gentlemen from the Office of Replacement Retirement.

Charon spoke first.

“Gentlemen, I am Evelyn Alexander Charon, you can step forward now to talk, I won’t bite.”

The older of the two responded.

“Mister Charon, we require your presence in our office.”

“Nonsense.” Charon replied. “Your authority ends at the airlock door, and I won’t step into it.”

The two men were dumbfounded. They looked at each other in confusion.

Charon spoke again.

“You should step up so we could have a proper conversation. And you can send the goon squad home. They wouldn’t last ten seconds in action under these conditions.”

In Charon’s opinion the goons wouldn’t last two seconds in combat and they would have left an awful mess, with blood sprayed literally all over the place, in the weightless conditions.

The black suited members of the tactical team were staring at the shipboard security team and their weapons properly emplaced for zero-g combat.

They wanted to go home. Now.

The lead agent could also see the situation for what it was. He decided there was nothing to gained by dying.

He spoke.

“Team leader!”

“Yes, sir!”

“Return to base!”

“Yes, sir!”

The tactical team leader raised the muzzle of his weapon away from the Freyans. The remainder of the team did so as well. They moved clumsily back to the spin section of the station.

The shipboard security team shifted the aim of their weapons to the two agents.

“Now.” Said Charon. “Let’s have a civilized conversation.”

The two agents stepped forward with their grip shoes on the deck.
Charon asked a question.

“Why are you interfering with the operation of this ship?”

The lead agent spoke.

“We have information that four of your passengers are dead, one has been placed under arrest and is in hibernation, and that you are giving sanctuary to a replacement.”

Charon answered with the full voice of moral authority.

“This vessel is registered under the flag of the Ursa Major Confederation. Edward Wolfe committed a capital crime and is under arrest. His four employees were killed while assaulting myself and four other passengers on this ship. And Diana is a person -- not a piece of property.”

“And does this alleged person have a surname?”

Evelyn quickly answered.

“Charon.” He said. “Diana Charon.”

Evelyn shifted his right hand towards Diana. She placed her left hand in his and stepped towards him.

“Mister Charon, why are you defying the law?”

“What law?”

“You are stealing a replacement from the rightful owner and holding him captive.”

Charon answered. Firmly.

“The true code of law is based on the individual right to live, this is not only the right to physically exist but also the right to be in complete control of one’s own life. What you are doing is simply a complete denial of that right. What I am doing is a complete defense of that right.”

Evelyn then voiced a personal opinion.

“And someone who claims ownership of another person is nothing more than a predatory animal, to be identified and dealt with as such.”

Charon then had one more thing to say.

“Does your mother know that you murder slaves?”

The African-American senior agent responded sharply.

“Leave my mother out of this!” He said. “And we don’t commit acts of murder! We retire replacements!”

Charon shook his head.

“Really? Couldn’t you come up with a better euphemism? The term ‘retirement’ was lame when Ridley Scott used it in the original version of Blade Runner.”

“Oh, I forgot.” Said Charon. “A euphemism requires original thought.”

“Mister Charon?” Said the senior agent. “Why are you wasting our time? Just hand over the replacement and release the owner to us and you can go.”

“And be an accessory to murder?” Said Charon as he shook his head. “That is out of the question.”

The senior agent desperately attempted another tack to obtain his goal. He spoke to Captain Hausa.

“Sister,” he said, “You can feel that he’s wrong, for the sake of yourself, your ship and the people on it, just comply with the law.”

Captain Hausa shook her head and replied with authority.

“You have no law.” She said. “And to comply with your demands would be irrational.”

The junior agent interjected.

“Reason makes you white!”
Captain Hausa replied firmly.

“Is that so? Reason is what makes us human.”

Diana spoke up.

“I would suggest that you quit before you die of embarrassment, but it appears that you are incapable of it.”

Evelyn Charon cracked a smile.

“Gentlemen, give up while you still can.” He said.

The senior agent was exasperated. He had reached his limit.

“Who are you? Who are you to speak to us that way?”

“Simply a man.” He replied. “I did say my name was Evelyn Alexander Charon.”

The junior agent shouted.

“Which one? Second , third, or forth?”

Charon responded.

“I was born on November Twenty Second, Nineteen Sixty Three, in Dallas, Texas. With all the bullets flying around my parents thought it would be a good idea to move to Minnesota. I enlisted in the United States Army on March Tenth, Nineteen Eighty Two. I was wounded in a friendly fire incident during Operation Desert Storm along with my company commander, Captain John Andrew March. And I worked for him as he served as the Governor of the State of Minnesota, the last President of the United States, and the first President of the Federation.”

Both agents were stunned.

“That’s impossible.” Said the eldest. “You can’t be him. You can’t be the destroyer. You’re too young.”

“We call it reincarnation by technological means.” Charon replied. “And it’s a perfectly legal act on Freya.”

“You’re a replacement!” Shouted the youngest agent.

Charon looked straight at the youngest agent and replied directly.

“And what are you going to do?” He said. “Kill me? Kill Diana? Even if you could kill us there will be Hell to pay, and my next incarnation will be there to collect.”

Both agents were silent. Charon continued to speak.

“Xenophonian mercenaries murdered three members of my family during the War Of Independence. We responded by striking the planet Xenophon with ultra high yield cobalt cased thermonuclear weapons. Nothing lives there now. Not even mutants hunting each other for food. Your actions are not enforcing any law that we could objectively see as being valid. And there is no place in the known universe that you will find sanctuary.”

Both agents turned pale.

“What are we to do?” Asked the senior agent.

The answer was simple.

“Do no further harm.” Said Evelyn.

The Reliable topped off her reaction mass tanks and departed from Nowhere Station with no further interference.

The first moment they had alone Evelyn and Diana talked.

“So we’re married?” She said.

“Apart from some paperwork being filled out, yes.”

“And why didn’t you say so earlier?”

“You are a victim of one of the worst crimes that can be committed. I wanted you to make your own decision on your own. That idiot forced my hand.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We live.”

Evelyn and Diana kissed.

The transit to the jump point was uneventful.

The next world on the route was Vance. It was a habitable satellite of a gas giant planet of another red dwarf star. It was discovered by John Vance, an Australian explorer employed by the Freya Project. It had a seventy percent gravitational pull and an atmospheric pressure at the surface similar to the city of Denver on Earth. This world allowed people born in the habitants of Mars to acclimate to higher gravity and an open sky.

And because some of the original Martians had remained on this world it would become a member of Freya Pact during the War Of Independence and later join the Ursa Major Confederation.

With no plans to land on the planetary surface Diana and Cheryl went shopping on the Vance orbital station. They entered the local branch of Star-Mart in the spin section of Vance Station.

As they were locating items found in the catalog the store manager confronted them.

He pointed to Diana and shouted with a brusque tone of voice.

“YOU! Get out of here!”

Cheryl intervened.

“Is there a problem?”

“Yes!” Said the manager loudly. “We don’t serve replacements here!”

The corporate logo and serial number tattoo on Diana’s forearm was still visible.

Cheryl replied.

“My friend is a person and you are in the Ursa Major Confederation.”

“Doesn’t matter, bitch!” The manager replied. “Corporate policy forbids transactions with escaped replacements.”

“You’re just following orders?”

“Yes!” The manager replied. “Now get out of here before I call the cops!”

Cheryl replied with a level voice.

“Go ahead, call the police.”

The first pair of station police officers that arrived said they were under orders to wait for their supervisors. They rejected the demands by the store manager to eject the two women.

The next to arrive were the manager of the station, the chief of the station police, Captain Hausa, and Evelyn Charon.

As Evelyn took charge of the situation the store manager shouted.

“Who the Hell are you, punk?”

“Evelyn Charon, Chairman of the Board of the Freyaspace Corporation.”

The store manager visually scanned Charon for a moment.

“You’re too young, punk!” The manager replied in what Charon recognized as an old Chicago accent.

“The Freyaspace Corporation is a owned family business. An actual family business. Unlike those back in Chicago.” Charon responded. “But that’s not important right now. What is the problem we are responding to is that you are in clear violation of the lease agreement the Star-Mart Corporation has with the Freyaspace Corporation.”

“Doesn’t matter!” The store manager replied. “My orders come from Earth! We don’t take shit from colonial punks.”

He pointed to Diana.

“Get that walking piece of shit out of here! NOW!”

Captain Hausa spoke.

“The next thing he’ll do is deny service to ‘niggers.’”

“Well, we can’t have that.” Said Charon.

He turned to the station manager and spoke.

“Karl, the contract is revoked, close the store.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You won’t get away with this!” The store manger shouted. “You’ll pay for this! You won’t escape punishment from us!”

“Who is us?” Said Charon.

The store manager suddenly realized that he wasn’t back in the City of Chicago on Earth. His political and social connections could no longer protect him.

Charon turned to the chief of the station police.

“Chief? Did you get everything that moron said?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Chief, would you please demonstrate to this gentleman how we deal with those persons who believe they are exempt from an objectively valid code of law.”

“Yes, sir.”

The chief of the station police and the other officers present pulled out their batons and proceeded to beat the store manager into a bloody pulp.

“Ladies,” said Evelyn, “we’ll have to shop somewhere else.”

The last jump in the journey was to the system of 10 Ursae Majoris. The system was a binary. The primary star was classed by astronomers as a F5 dwarf and the secondary as a G5 dwarf like the original Sun. The system was 52 light years from the Earth.

The configuration of the orbit of each star caused the position the jump points in the system to shift radically over the course of time. It also allowed the system to have two habitable planets.

Orbiting the smaller and dimmer star of 10 Ursae Majoris B was the planet Freya.

Named for the Norse goddess of wealth and beauty the core group of colonists came from the sealed habitats of Mars.

Survival in the lethal environment of the Red Planet required a hardcore realist view of existence. A world view that could not indulge in fantasies.

While some people found the core culture of the Freyans to be hostile and the travel distance to be extreme there were now a hundred million people living on the planet.

The corporate executive shuttle dropped away from the primary space station. The destination was the surface port at Landfall. The capital of the planet and the Ursa Major Confederation.

Their limousine pulled out from the corporate section the down port. It turned north for the hour drive to family estate.

Evelyn and Diana were met at the main entrance of Charon House by a very elderly man with a cane and an eyepatch.

Evelyn made the introduction.

“Diana, this is my first incarnation, Alex.”

Alex graciously took her right hand into his.

“Welcome to the family.” He said.

“Thank you, sir.” She replied.

Alex smiled.

“You need not say that.” He said.

He then spoke to Evelyn.

“You left the usual trail of death and destruction?”

“Well, yes.” Said Evelyn.

“There are some other things we need to discuss.” Alex replied.