The Reign of MAN

Hell on Earth

 

Elbert Lewis, Jr.

 

 

 

 

© 2020 by Elbert Lewis, Jr.


 

Prologue

 

Admiral Harold S. Danton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held the undivided attention of the President, his surviving cabinet members and what remained of the UE (United Earth) Council as he briefed them on the plight of the UEAF (United Earth Armed Forces) Space Command. The extent of their confirmed losses was sobering and had grave implications given the emergence of another, even larger, alien fleet in the outer reaches of the solar system.

After the two battles with the Hadaran invaders, the fleets of Space Command were spent, suffering more than sixty percent losses in men and warships. Mounting a successful defense of earth against the advancing Hadaran juggernaut was unlikely and having the reserves to meet the new threat was a pipe dream.

 Suddenly everyone’s attention was pulled away from the gigantic wall monitor displaying the positions of the meager defense forces in high earth orbit, when Logan pushed back violently from the table, jumped to his feet while grabbing his head and screaming from what was obviously excruciating pain. Jessica and Wallace sprang quickly to his side, each grabbing an arm and prevented him from collapsing when his knees buckled. His screams soon subsided to deep moans. One cabinet member, a medical doctor, hurriedly swept all briefing papers, iPads, pencils and pens from one end of the conference table. He instructed them to place Logan on the table and loosen his uniform tie. He made sure Logan’s airway was clear, checked his pulse and then tried to examine his eyes. Logan had recovered somewhat and turned his head away in protest, then weakly pushed the doctor’s hand aside.

“I.. I’m okay… I… I just need a minute,” Logan croaked as he swung his legs off the table and tried to stand but again lost his balance. Wallace swung a chair around and they helped Logan sit back down. For several long moments, he sat slumped in the chair moaning with his head still cradled in his hands.

The President pulled the doctor aside for a private conversation while the rest of the attendees dispersed into small groups; all were discussing the implications of an incapacitated Logan at this critical juncture, interspersed with fearful glances to see if his condition was worsening. Logan gradually regained enough control of his faculties to stand unassisted. The President rushed over and placed a fatherly hand on his shoulder. The others crowed around them.

 “You gave us quite a scare, son. Are you alright? Can you tell us what happened and what we can do to help?”

Logan shook his head, “Don’t worry about me, Mr. President. That new fleet is not Hadaran, it’s Scorpiin. I received a communication from them via a micro tachyon burst through a channel in my cybernetic implant, a backdoor channel… one I didn’t know existed.” He frowned deeply, “They weren’t trying to harm me but they inadvertently used too much power on the carrier wave than was necessary. It felt like someone was using a jack hammer inside my skull.”

Logan fell silent as he gazed slowly around the room. Jessica was shocked to see an expression painted across his face revealing an emotion she had never before seen from him. Fear? When he spoke again it was in a voice totally lacking in hope, also something she’d never experienced before.

“The Scorpiins have come to reclaim their property,” Logan said with infinite sadness.

Jessica bristled, “They don’t own you, Logan.”

Logan shook his head as he briefly hugged her, not caring how inappropriate it was for members of the UEAF to display affection in public, while in uniform.

“Not just me, Jess,” Logan said, his voice just above a whisper. “They’re here to reclaim the whole human race.”

 


 



 

 

Part I

Hostile Reunion

The great cycle of the ages is renewed.

Now justice returns, returns the Golden Age;

A new generation now descends from on high

Virgil [Publius Virgilius Maro]

                                 70-19 B.C.

 

                          

                                   

 

 


 

Chapter 1

 

Logan felt the hopeless certainty of a death row inmate walking the last few yards to the execution chamber and the end of his existence. Sadly, no eleventh-hour call from a governor’s office would intervene to save him. Even worse, his knowledge of the true origin of the human race denied him the comfort of repenting his transgressions to a God for the promise of a better afterlife. The Scorpiins, he recalled, had no such thing as the death penalty, mainly because their society had no crime to speak of. His murder of the Nemesis Project technicians during his escape from them nearly forty years earlier had probably been the first crime of that nature committed in thousands of years of Scorpiin history. Maybe they didn’t have a codified death penalty but he was certain that they would make an exception for him, more like an example of him.

In order to escape forced servitude in the Scorpiin Alien Legion and ensure they would have no inkling of his survival, he’d murdered, in cold blood, five Scorpiin technicians. They were military trainers assisting him in acclimating to the intricacies of interfacing with a warship’s AI through the cybernetic chip imbedded deep inside the cerebellum of his brain. The opportunity to escape from them came when the Scorpiin’s arch enemies, the Hadarans, launched a surprise attack on their staging area in a solar system many light years behind the battlefront. Logan killed the technicians and faked the destruction of the prototype research vessel and warship. He fled in the ship, returned to earth and had successfully remained hidden from the Scorpiins as well as the governments of earth for most of four decades.

Now Logan was in route to surrender himself to the Scorpiins, to face the music for his crimes. Those crimes or actions, from his point of view, was what any POW was obligated to do, he escaped. It seemed a lifetime since he committed those murders but he was sure that just as with most human cultures, there was probably not a statute of limitations on murder under the Scorpiin legal system. Or perhaps he would be subjected to Scorpiin military justice. After all, he had been a member of the Scorpiin’s Alien Legion, one of tens of thousands of abductees taken from Earth, as well as other planets, and forced to do battle with the Hadarans. If not for his unique genetic makeup¾Logan was poly-racial, possessing genes from all of the human races mutated from the Neanderthals¾the memories of his life on earth would have been erased by the brainwashing they called indoctrination and neuro-enhancement. He would have been rendered another cultureless automaton like so many others. His ability to resist the memory-wipe was the first indicator that Logan was different from other huMans harvested from Earth. 

It was far from the last.

Overshadowing his pending rendezvous with his executioner was the one over-arching regret that plagued his thoughts and threatened to send him into the depths of despair, deeper than the prospect of his own death. He’d failed to adequately prepare the human race for war with the Hadarans and now the Scorpiins posed an even more imminent threat. As fate would have it, a Hadaran survey flotilla discovered Earth and tried to establish a forward operating base on the island of Australia, in support of a new front and offensive against the Scorpiins. Logan came out of hiding and used his advanced prototype warship and the bounty of military strategies imprinted into his brain to aid Earth’s nuclear powers in defeating the alien invasion force. The victory came at the cost of millions of lives and turned eighty percent of Australia into a radioactive wasteland.

In the months following the battle Logan reneged on his secret deal with the US government and made the entire Scorpiin science and technology database available to every nation on earth. Although great strides were made in eighteen months of integrating human and Scorpiin technology, there had been insufficient time to properly prepare the human race for the onslaught of the follow-on assault fleet dispatched by the Hadaran Imperium.

Initially the nascent UEAF Space Fleet defeated and destroyed a second-tier proxy fleet dispatched by the Hadarans to ascertain earth’s war fighting ability and soften up earth’s hastily erected solar system-wide defenses. The second battle, against a fleet manned by Hadarans, was short-lived and the outcome catastrophic for earth and the human race. The Hadarans decimated the fledging space fleet of conventional jet aircraft converted to gravity drive and made space worthy. Hundreds of spaceships were destroyed and thousands of members of the UEAF Space Command died in the defense of Earth. More than two-hundred million civilians perished when an errant missile with a five-hundred megaton third generation fusion warhead, detonated off the coast of Portugal. The blast killed tens of millions in southern Europe and Northwest Africa. The EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) destroyed the electrical grids and computer systems in most of Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. On top of that, the shock wave propagated through the sea bed caused multiple, massive landslides into the northern Atlantic which generated tremendous tsunamis. The killer waves raced across the Atlantic Ocean and devastated the eastern seaboard of the North America and scoured the Caribbean Island nations of most human life. All seemed lost. Logan, what was left of the UEAF space force, the recently formed world government and the rest of humanity braced for an invasion and probable enslavement of the human race.

In order to counter the Hadaran strategy and prevent them from claiming the huMan population to support their war effort, the Scorpiin War Ministry intervened and dispatched a superior fleet to defend the Sol system. In an epic twenty-two-day battle, they defeated the Hadaran Fleet and reclaimed the human race and earth’s planetary resources for the race of beings inhabiting the earth-like planet Thoi which orbited the star designated 18 Scorpii.

Unknown to the Scorpiins, Logan had undergone a third enhancement session under a Trans-Cerebral Imprinter (TCI) of human manufacture. It vastly increased his cognitive abilities and access to the implants many functions. When they communicated, through Logan’s cybernetic link, their intentions to regain full control of Earth, they unwittingly left a digital imprint of the tachyon frequencies in which the Scorpiin warship’s AI and communication system operated. During the days and weeks between the summons from the Scorpiins and their defeat of the Hadaran fleet, Logan spent nearly every waking hour analyzing the engrams which now formed an indelible memory of the gravitic and electro-magnetic frequencies and  modulation  characteristics of the transmission. He now had a reasonable approximation of the Scorpiin’s communications protocols. Logan was convinced that somehow, at some point in time, he was going to find a way to exploit it to give him an advantage in dealing with the Scorpiins. For the time being he was constrained by the threat the Scorpiin Fleet posed to Earth. He was powerless to do other than submit to their demands and surrender himself into their custody. To do otherwise would subject the human race to unknown dangers. Not to mention the possibility of the Scorpiins transmitting a lethal neuro-electronic spike through another unknown backdoor channel into his implant.

 

He was piloting his converted GF-15E Strike Eagle through the stratosphere. It suddenly dawned on Logan that he would miss his Eagle. The venerable aircraft had been an integral part of America’s air defense and tactical operations for decades before it was replaced by the F-16 Falcon. The converted¾G for gravity drive¾spacecraft version was a marvel of integration of Scorpiin and human technology. Now it resembled an F-15 that had swallowed a Frisbee whole, or more like a flying saucer with a cockpit, wing tips and twin tail sections. On a whim or perhaps a subconscious act of defiance, Logan sent the interceptor into a series of barrel rolls, loops and figure eights that was probably his last taste of freedom. He knew his antics would make the Scorpiin sensor operators instantly suspicious of his intentions. Almost immediately his instrument panel started flashing warnings of multiple Scorpiin sensor scans and targeting radars locking on to his fighter.

Logan smiled, his patented wry smile. He was smiling but this was serious business. Approaching a fully armed Scorpiin naval formation in other than the prescribed manor was to invite a hail of anti-shipping missiles, kinetic projectiles, point defense laser fire and certain destruction. He prudently brought the craft back to linear flight then reached to his electronics control panel and canceled any anti-sensor, stealth or defensive operations the ship’s rudimentary AI had automatically activated. The Eagle was now transparent to their sensor operators as Logan resumed a direct flight path towards the Scorpiin fleet.

Despite his feelings of personal doom, Logan was guardedly optimistic about the prospects for the survival of the rest of the human race. The fact that the Scorpiins had not attacked UEAF space forces after defeating the Hadaran invasion fleet was a good sign. They had maintained a non-threatening posture as the surviving UEAF squadrons abandoned their outposts on Mars and several moons within the solar system to fall back on fortress earth.

Hopefully, the Scorpiins would continue the Nemesis Project—which Logan had renamed the GOD Project when he revealed the true origin of the human race to the world—and their quest to produce an army of MANs (Mutation Accelerated Nemesis), their vision of the ultimate warrior. Their treatment of the people of earth, including forced breeding of poly-racial individuals, would be much more humane than Hadaran rule but hardly benevolent. He firmly believed that although he was not the MAN they sought, he could be the liaison between the Scorpiins and the people of earth, an advocate for the fair treatment of mankind.  Although he had been bio-enhanced to a degree that in some aspects placed him—or more accurately, his brain—millions of years further along the evolutionary path then ordinary humans, in his eyes he clearly was not a MAN. A true MAN would not have failed as miserably as he had. He didn’t realize he was being severely and unnecessarily critical of his performance and what he’d accomplished. In reality, he’d led earth’s fledgling space navy to a brilliant, albeit temporary, victory over an arguably superior enemy force and given the human race a huge bargaining chip.

 At one point, Logan vowed that he would not be taken alive and used as a human guinea pig again. Many times, during the three weeks it took the Scorpiins to destroy the Hadaran fleet, he’d considered going out in a blaze of glory by attacking the first Scorpiin warship that established an orbit around Earth. Jessica had divined, from their brief conservations and his dark mood, what he was planning. She enlisted the aid of the President and Logan’s best friends, Mark Olson and Maj. Jerome Wallace, in convincing him that it would be sheer folly to throw his life away in a meaningless gesture. They eventually wore him down, made him give his word of honor he would face whatever the Scorpiins had in store for him and do everything he could to survive.

Presently he left the last tenuous layers of earth’s upper atmosphere and quickly accelerated to fifty miles per second in open space. It was a velocity far below the converted fighters cruising speed; he wanted to give himself more time to think and plan his strategy. He passed through the squadron of Scorpiin destroyers in high earth orbit and thirty short minutes later, still without a solid plan of action, he approached the Command flotilla of the Scorpiin fleet where it was parked at the Lagrange point between Earth and the moon.  It wasn’t long before the Scorpiin ships were visible to the naked eye through the crystal steel canopy. Beyond the fleet was the moon, a couple of planets and then the backdrop of endless space speckled with a multitude of stars and galaxies. Logan gazed at the magnificent view for long moments; he thought perhaps for the last time. It was only out in the infinity of space that he felt truly alive. He feasted his eyes and surrendered himself to its grandeur. One of the capabilities he’s gained was the ability to let his mind function in total free-association where the limitations of normal consciousness were suspended. In those moments of deep contemplation, of transcendent consciousness, something unknown and unknowable came over Logan. It was manifested at a level so deep within the core of his being he had no inkling of its genesis. A wellspring of iron determination rose up and infused every fiber of his being. Suddenly he realized one thing with absolute certainty that out there, among the universe of stars, were countless planets with oxygen-nitrogen atmospheres waiting for the footprint of man. And those virgin worlds were his destiny and the future of humanity. He closed his eyes and made a solemn vow to the cosmos, that somehow, someway, he would be equal to the task of leading mankind into that destiny. With that realization a deep calm, an all-encompassing serenity, suffused his mind and he became certain that he would not die a convicted criminal, a hapless captive of the Scorpiins.

 

As expected, Logan received detailed final approach and docking instructions via a transmission through his cybernetic implant. This time at a power level that didn’t push him to the brink of unconsciousness and damn near fry his brain. Following those precise instructions, he piloted his Eagle towards a large flotilla of ships. It made him smile because the transmission augmented and reinforced the comm signature he’d had to work with. The third TCI session gave him additional abilities which he planned to fully exploit when the time was right. For months he’d consciously downplayed or concealed his enhanced abilities when on earth and in the company of normal humans to avoid a xenophobic reaction or even worse, misplaced hero worship. Now it was different and he would be free to push the limits of his abilities. He was almost looking forward to the confrontation. Almost.

Logan piloted the Eagle through the destroyer screen and around several escort vessels in the formation to reach his destination, a huge warship that was more than a half a mile long. As he got closer he recognized the ship as a CCB, a Command and Control battleship, the second largest class of warship in their navy and probably the flagship of the Scorpiin fleet. He could not help but admire the monolithic, lethal beauty of the behemoth. It was dotted with numerous weapon stations; missile launchers, plasma blisters, point defense laser pods and force field projectors. He wished he’d had such warships to deploy in the defense of Earth. If not for the dire circumstances of his reunion, the sight of the ship would have made him nostalgic for his time spent with the Scorpiin Alien Legion.

A huge airlock, large enough to swallow a B-52, yawned open to receive his craft. The standard cradles inside the gigantic hanger were not configured for Logan’s fighter so he was directed to land on a crash pad designed for returning couriers, scouts and other small craft that had sustained too much battle damage to dock properly. Ten minutes later, after the hanger had been pressurized, Logan left the cockpit and exited the airlock. He then stepped onto the pad and then jumped the three feet to the steel hanger deck. Before he straightened up a squad of ten Scorpiin Marines, with weapons at the ready, surrounded him. Each towered over Logan at a nearly uniform six and a half feet in height; he was somewhat surprised to discover that all of them were female. He had not heard or spoken the Scorpiin language in nearly four decades but his eidetic memory served him well. He smiled when he was instructed in halting English to relinquish any weapons. When he responded in perfect Thoin that he was unarmed, the officer’s face displayed mild surprise at his fluid use of their language but she directed one of her Marines to search him. The Maine ran a hand-held scanner over his entire body, including the soles of his shoes. When satisfied that Logan was indeed unarmed the officer snapped, “Follow me,” then she about-faced sharply as was the custom of Scorpiin Marines and led Logan, with the rest of the escort following in their wake, into the bowls of the battleship.

They marched him into a passage way that was at least thirty feet wide and appeared to run half the entire length of the ship. Several wheeled electric vehicles passed them by going both ways, but it seemed he was not worthy of riding to his inquisition. It took them ten minutes at a brisk pace before he was directed into another passage that branched off at a right angle and led deeper into the interior of the massive ship. Logan kept his head on a swivel, scrutinizing and memorizing every aspect, facet and feature of the ship in sight. Five more minutes brought them to a lift tube clearly labeled for use only by the command staff. Just three members of his escort entered the tube with Logan, although it could have accommodated them all without being crowded. He surmised his docile behavior thus far had allayed any concerns that he might be a serious security rick. That made him smile. Throughout the trip his mind had been racing and his was implant ablaze tracing and analyzing the sea of emissions, both electromagnetic and gravitic, permeating the interior of the ship. His catalog of communication and electrical control system data grew by the minute.

Logan felt a mild flutter in his gut as the tube, riding an antigravity node, was whisked up three hundred feet in exactly seven and a half seconds according Logan’s implant clock. Anyone with a weak stomach would have been on their knees, surrendering the contents of said stomach. Logan was proud of the fact that he stepped out of the lift tube as sure footed as his escorts. A short walk brought them to a large door that he recognized as a pressure hatch designed to maintain an atmosphere in the space on the other side in the event of catastrophic damage to the ship. It opened at a silent electronic signal from the Scorpiin officer. Logan was happy to add it to the list of access frequencies he was sure his implant could duplicate, when and if the time came. 

“Enter.” Was the single and last word the officer spoke to Logan.

 Inside the compartment, a small anteroom and security station, stood another female security officer. “Follow me,” was all she had to say. This officer was typical and towered over Logan’s six feet of height. Although six inches shorter, Logan weighted in at two-hundred-and twenty-pounds of solid muscle and bone. He probably outweighed her by sixty pounds. In fact, he was muscle-bound, a Mr. Universe compared to any of the Marines he’d encountered, and they were characteristic of the Scorpiin race. The Scorpiins were a lavender-gray in skin tone, humanoid and bilateral. They were reminiscent of the fictional natives of Pandora, without the blatantly racist tails. The biggest difference was the six digits at the end of each limb, with the opposing thumb sprouting out of the top of their palms instead of the outside. They’d evolved on the planet Thoi, with just eighty-one percent of earth’s gravity; the fourth planet orbiting the star 18 Scorpii. So, they were sorely lacking in the muscle mass and the strength department. On the other hand, they made up for it with a mastery of advanced martial arts. Logan had trained with them many times. Although light-weight and thin in body structure, their Marines had developed a system of hand to hand combat, that refined over thousands of years, made them quite lethal. However, their ancestors evolved on Thoi which had no predators so they could not muster the visceral intensity and aggressiveness of homo sapiens who were the apex predators of earth’s animal kingdom. It was one of the main reasons the Scorpii, who were mutated from the most evolved species on Thoi with Reiign DNA, sought out other races to do the lion’s share of their fighting on land. They were simply not biologically or evolutionarily well suited for heavy combat. In the air or in space, manning advanced warships, now that was a different story. In spite of their excessive height, Logan had always considered the Scorpiin females exotic and beautiful. Not that any of them would stoop to have a personal relationship with a lowly, brutish huMan.

The officer led Logan across the anteroom to another hatch that opened as they approached. This time Logan got an even more complete reading of the frequency of the electro-magnetic signals controlling the locking mechanisms. He was now absolutely certain he could use his implant to duplicate the signals to activate the mechanisms that controlled hatches and airlocks.

On the other side was an enormous compartment which contained a huge conference table around which were seated eleven Scorpiins of various ranks and branches of service, judging by the assortment of uniforms and insignia. His minder pointed to a spot near the foot of the table closest to the entrance. There was no chair so he stood at attention facing the head of the table and the officer seated in the position of power. He was a Fleet Admiral.

Logan had feared from the very beginning this day would come. He’d been very careful to conceal his existence any time a Scorpiin survey ship entered the Sol system to collect more human specimens from earth. During the three and a half decades he’d operated clandestinely, it was just as important to remain hidden from the Scorpiins as it was from the governments of earth. Now it seemed it was time to pay the piper. Five minutes passed but no one had yet addressed him. They all sat staring as if he was the latest exhibit in Thoi’s capital city’s xeno-zoo. Logan was not the least bit surprised nor intimidated by the degree of animosity roiling off of the stern-faced members of the command staff. Although he did have to consciously dampen his empathic perception of their hostility—he couldn’t afford the distraction. Still they remained silent and staring. Or perhaps, he thought, they were waiting for him to begin the proceedings, perhaps throw himself on the mercy of the tribunal. Logan was determined to disappoint them in that regard. He decided not to give them the satisfaction of speaking first or pleading for understanding or mercy. The silent confrontation continued for ten minutes.

Suddenly, a door to Logan’s left slid open and a diminutive gray figure, no more than five feet tall, dressed in a shimmering robe, entered the room at a slow but regal pace. Every Scorpiin rose respectively to their feet as he walked to and took a seat on an elevated dais that Logan had noticed upon entering the chamber. Once seated he raised an age ravaged hand which signaled the beginning of the proceedings.

Logan was mesmerized. He instantly realized he was in the presence of a Reiign. With that revelation came the realization that the being must be hundreds of years old, perhaps thousands. He could possibly be the last living Reiign. He also realized the Reiign was the diminutive ‘Gray’ of UFO and alien abduction legends on earth. His appearance changed everything. Logan was extremely intrigued with this new development and determined to find a way to exploit it.

The ship’s Captain, speaking in his native tongue, initialed the questioning after receiving a nod from the Fleet Commander. “Are you the huMan designated SY120613?”

Logan hesitated for a long-drawn-out moment, it felt strange and unsettling to be referred to by his old Alien Legion designation but he mentally shrugged it off and then replied crisply and forcefully in the Scorpiin language. “No Sir, I am Space Marshal Damian Logan, Supreme Commander of the United Earth Armed Forces.” He’d chosen to wear his dress uniform instead of a flight suit. He stood tall and resplendent with numerous decorations from his tour in Vietnam to all of the decorations bestowed on him by the US and nearly every democratic nation for his part in defeating the first Hadaran incursion.

The Captain ignored his response. “You were assigned to the Thoian 10th Alien Legion, huMan Contingent, is that correct?”

Logan answered immediately and forcefully. “No! I was Logan, Damian A., 2525934, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps! I was a citizen of Earth who was taken against my will and forced to fight in a war for a people too culturally bankrupt and genetically weak to fight their own battles.”

That answer stirred up a hornet’s nest of outraged comments and protestations. It was not the sort of behavior Scorpiins had come to expect from lowly, brain-wiped huMan conscripts. Since Logan’s advancement was a secret weapons project, few in the Scorpiin military were aware of the true extent his abilities.  Logan smiled to himself mentally, laughing inside, but his face remained cast in stone. The way forward was rapidly unfolding in his mind. Until his walk from the hanger he had not realized how he would use the enhancements the third TCI session had made to his brain. Now he felt a tidal wave of confidence wash over his mind as the pieces fell into place. He felt as if he now existed on another, higher plane, with the ability to manipulate events and bend outcomes in this reality. For the first time, he saw the Scorpiins for what they really were, vassals of the Reiign. He pitied them. Gone was any apprehension over his fate or fear for his life; he was the master of his own destiny. He decided to take the tribunal in a direction and tone of his liking.

         Logan executed a sharp left-face turn and marched forward to within a couple of yards of the Reiign’s dais. His minder, her face a mask of determination, immediately moved to restrain him but she was stopped short by a gesture from the Ancient One. Logan still had no clue as to his identity or role in the proceedings. In his five years in the Scorpiin’s Alien Legion he’d never encountered a Reiign and had no clue that they still existed. He leveled his gaze upon the elder as he spoke.

         “I, Space Marshal Damian Alan Logan, Supreme Commander of the United Earth Armed Forces, am not here to answer for my actions or the methods I employed to escape the bonds of an illegal abduction, confinement and forced servitude. I came as the representative of a sentient, self-determined species with an offer of alliance against a common enemy.”

         There was no response from the ancient one. His overly large, unblinking eyes regarded Logan as if he was a biological specimen in a laboratory. The reaction from the rest of the assemblage was just the opposite. Outrage dominated their responses; scornful laughter was a close second. The venting went on until the Fleet Admiral demanded silence. Like the others his expression was one of amused outrage. “A Supreme Commander of a fleet without a warship larger than a destroyer escort,” he sneered.

         Logan, ignored the ridicule and kept his attention riveted on the Reiign, gauging his reactions as a wave of high-pitched trills, Scorpiin laughter, resounded for a few moments. Logan let a brief wry smile play across his face to let him know that he got the joke. Let them have their fun, he thought. In the next few moments he would turn the tables on them. He’d gotten the idea during the walk to the inquisition. He’d determined that a specific range of electro-magnetic frequencies were used to control or access various systems of the ship. During the wait for the ancient one to arrive he had not been mindlessly staring off into space as he appeared. The entire time he’d let his mind have free reign, using his implant, to scan and analyze myriad operating frequencies of the electronic and gravitic signals flowing in the cable runs branching from the chamber. Since the room functioned as a satellite command and control station it was connected to nearly every compartment and function of the ship. He’d traced multiple cable runs, signal boosters, transmitters, transformers and receivers to their main control hubs, computer banks and ultimately the ship’s AI. The third TCI session had greatly enhanced that ability. It was a skill he had further developed and increased well beyond his level of capability known to the Scorpiin scientists. Over several months he’d developed it to the extent that he was able to not only perceive the electro-magnetic energy waves of data transmissions but to manipulate them to a greater extent than the Scorpiins—and hopefully the Reiign—realized. Coupled with the function of his implant to transliterate machine language, he rapidly built an understanding and working knowledge of most of the ship’s command and control protocols. He was also sure he could duplicate them to some extent. It was time to find out just how much.

         “You are wrong in that respect,” Fleet Admiral,” Logan began, “I have one additional vessel at my command…this one!” 

Several minutes earlier Logan had used him implant to override one of many gravitic wave receivers, gain entry to the nearest nexus of control circuits, and follow the mired leads, connections and junctions at the speed of thought. In fractions of a second, his projected consciousness was superimposed over the ship’s AI. The AI resisted his unauthorized access but the artificial intelligence had few safeguards with which to resist a highly unlikely internal attack. In a matter of seconds, Logan had complete access to and control of the AI. His first action was to cause a short circuit of the emergency manual override controls located on the bridge. This caused an alarm to sound throughout the ship.

         Logan stood serene while the captain franticly punched touchpads on his remote command station, trying to open a comm channel to the bridge. It was too late. Logan had already isolated the conference room.  When the captain ordered one of his subordinates to get to the bridge, investigate and report back ASAP, the officer could not open the hatch. Neither the radio frequency transmitter nor the manual controls worked.     Logan turned to the officer who was still struggling to open the hatch. “Please return to your seat, Section Commander.” He said with a calm but

commanding voice.

         The Captain bristled. “You do not issue orders aboard my ship, huMan!” He turned to the Reiign, seeking permission to deal with the barbarian.

Logan gazed at the Captain, smiling at him, “Yes, I do. Look at me. LOOK AT ME!”

 Logan yelled, adlibbing the lines from a movie he’d watched. “I am the Captain, now. I am in control of this vessel for the time being. At least until we come to an understanding.”

         “SEIZE HIM!” The Captain roared.

         Logan’s escort drew her sidearm in a lighting fast move as she approached him. It was probably set to stun but Logan couldn’t chance that. Before she could pull the trigger, she collapsed, unconscious, like a rag doll at his feet. He’d used the implant’s neural-null emitter at its lowest intensity setting to stun her but he was still concerned for the Marine’s well-being. Logan reached down and snatched the weapon from her hand. It was configured for the Scorpiin six-fingered hand and felt odd, but he was well versed in its use. He was sure it was the only weapon in the room. He took a second to ascertain she still has a pulse. When Logan straightened up several Scorpiins, including the Captain, had recovered from their shock and were rising from their seats, preparing to rush him. None of them hesitated when Logan raised the weapon. No one could ever accuse the Scorpiins of being cowards. A sharp command from the ancient one put an end to the potentially lethal confrontation. All of them stopped dead in their tracks until the ancient one ordered them to return to their seats. The Captain, after a meaningful glance at the Fleet Admiral, was the last to comply. He reluctantly sat back down, his murderous stare now fixed on Logan.

         The ancient one regarded Logan through unblinking eyes as large as hen’s eggs and smiled. At least, Logan thought the horizontal elongation of his slit of a mouth, was a smile. His voice was as raspy and eerie as a crypt, his Thoian very accented. “I am Von, director of the Nemesis Project scientific staff and member of the Planetary Ruling Council. It seems the Captain has underestimated you, huMan. I am thoroughly familiar with your history and I see that you have greatly increased your capabilities during the time you were absent from our control. However, it is time to end this vulgar display of your enhancements. Whatever your ill-conceived plan, it will avail you nothing.”

         Logan returned his smile. “My plan has already succeeded.”

         A shadow of doubt played briefly across his lined, putty-gray face but he quickly regained his confidence. “I think you have no plan, just a rash attempt to gain control of a small part of this vessel for what little leverage it may give you. Believe me, huMan, it will end badly for you.”

         In answer to his statement Logan craned his head towards a huge tactical monitor that comprised nearly half of an entire wall. It came alive at his command and a view from bridge appeared on the display. It showed, in an extremely detailed, high-def, 3D image, the Executive officer and the rest of the bridge crew trying franticly to regain control of the ship as it started to accelerate and veer off on a heading out of fleet formation. The image winked out at Logan’s command. He turned to the ancient one. “I am in control of the ship’s AI and therefore the entire ship. I have disabled the manual overrides. I will remain in charge of this vessel until I decide to relinquish control.”

         After his statement and demonstration to back it up, the preverbal pin drop could have been heard in the silence that followed. The Captain slumped in his seat after another meaningful glance passed between him and the admiral. His look of resignation told the whole story. He could see his career slipping away. A captain losing control of his ship had no future in the Scorpiin Navy. When the admiral turned his attention back to the despised huMan, his eyes drilled into Logan’s; the malevolence flowing from him was palpable. The ancient one remained as still and unemotional as a figurine made of modeling clay. Logan decided it was time to move the proceedings to the next phase. He turned and spoke directly to the ancient one in a confident voice, “Earlier I put forth the proposal that we negotiate as equals. I am now in command of this vessel so I will be addressed as Space Marshal. Now, please be patient and let me make my case for an alliance between the peoples of Earth and Thoi.”

         The ancient one smiled but didn’t respond. Logan decided to take his silence as consent to continue. In the next forty minutes Logan laid out a plan for the joining of forces to meet the Hadaran threat and the eventual Human-Scorpiin hegemony of their spiral arm of the galaxy. He concluded by saying, “…with the twenty-five hundred genome adepts I’ve already identified and an almost unlimited number of others allied with the well-established and advanced Scorpiin military we would be unstoppable.”

His closing statement was met with nearly universal sneers of scorn from the Scorpiins. The Fleet Admiral could no longer contain himself, “You have nothing to offer us, primitive!”  His sentiment was echoed by a chorus of agreement and additional insults from the rest of his command staff.

         “Silence!” The ancient one shouted in a surprisingly forceful voice that shocked everyone else in the room, except Logan. Midway through his proposal Logan had sensed the Reiign’s growing interest in the concept. He turned his regal countenance back to Logan. “You should understand, one of the Nemesis project technicians you murdered was the Admiral’s string mate. Not a close relative but descended from the same evolutionary line.”

         Logan swallowed hard but stood straighter as he turned his gaze on the admiral, “You have my deepest regret for the death of your relative. But you are a military man and understand that if you fell into the hands of the enemy, it would be your duty to escape. I took no pleasure in taking their lives. In a sense, they were my brothers. I’d trained with them for months. Their deaths were quick and they did not suffer, but I will live with the burden of the guilt from my actions for the rest of my life.” The Fleet Admiral remained silent and continued to stare daggers of hatred. Logan met his stare unflinchingly. He knew that a combination of regret and strength was the only stance the senior officer would respect.

         The ancient one took center stage again when he asked the question Logan was anticipating. “And if we do not agree to enter into your proposed alliance?”

         Logan turned away from the admiral and looked the ancient one dead in the eye. “My original plan was to kill everyone in this room and most of the crew, commandeer this ship and use it to destroy as many vessels in your fleet as possible. I know I would not be able to defeat the whole fleet but perhaps I could so degrade the force that the survivors will choose to temporarily postpone or abandon whatever plans you have for earth and my species. Your presence gave me the option of proposing an alliance.”

         The ancient one regarded Logan solemnly for long, tension-filled moments before he responded, “When the fact that you were still viable became known to us, I had what your race calls a ‘hunch’ that we would not be dealing with the being we originally programed. It seems you have evolved beyond anything we dreamed of during the design process.” He fell silent for a while as if debating with himself. “This alliance you propose, does it include your cooperation and participation in the research to determine the extent and parameters of your evolution?”

         Logan studied the Reiign before answering, “My complete cooperation as long as it does not require invasive medical procedures or me being incapacitated or rendered unconscious.”

         Before the ancient one could respond, the guard regained consciousness. Logan took a couple of paces away as she regained her footing and slowly stood up. Although still wobbly, the look in her eyes told him he had been wise to put a little distance between them. Although female, she was a member of the flag ship’s elite Marine security detachment and would be extensively trained in hand to hand combat. Her long legs would give her a distinct advantage in a fight. Suddenly everyone’s attention was diverted from the standoff. Booms and bangs resounded at both entrances from attempts to batter open the high reinforced hatches. The crew had finally decided to do something about the lack of communication with the command staff. Before anyone reacted to this new development the ancient one ordered her to stand down and retire to what looked like an acceleration couch in a far corner of the chamber. Logan watched her slowly, reluctantly comply.

         “Now back to our negotiations,” the ancient one began. “My knowledge of the procedures employed in the Nemesis project is extensive, I perceive it may be necessary to access your cybernetic link and conduct various experiments that could temporarily affect your ability to do what you are doing at this very moment. Is that acceptable?”

         Logan again studied the ancient one’s face for a second or two, trying to gauge his sincerity, before he answered. He sensed no indication of duplicity in the Reiign’s demeanor. But this was an alien and therefore nearly impossible to read with any certainty. He decided to roll the dice. “That is acceptable,” he answered.”

         “Then done!” The ancient one exclaimed and rose from his miniature throne. The Scorpiins all jumped to their feet. He stepped down from the dais walked slowly up the Logan. “I believe you huMans have a ritual where you clasp hands to formalize an agreement.”

         Logan nodded and said, “Scorpiins seal deals by giving their sacred word of honor to abide by the terms of an agreement.”

         The ancient one smiled. “I give you my word of honor, Marshal Logan, the terms we have agreed to will be binding on the Scorpiin people.”

         Logan extended his hand and the ancient one took it in an awkward six-fingered grip. It was the Reiign’s first handshake or even touching a huMan.

“And I, Space Marshal Damian Logan, Supreme Commander of the UEAF, give you my word of honor that the terms we have agreed to will be binding on the human race.”

         The ancient one stepped back and peered up at Logan. His large black pupil-less eyes gave no clue as to his innermost thoughts. Logan, for his part, was wondering how he was going to convince the governments of earth and seven colony planets to honor the terms of the treaty he’d just obligated them to, not to mention participation in an interstellar war that had already raged for several centuries.

         “And now, Space Marshal Logan, you must relinquish your control of this vessel.”

Logan nodded and in the next instant all hell broke loose as a cacophony of sirens, two-toned warble alarms and multiple screams of panic from hidden speakers filled the room; both hatches flew open and a squad of heavily armed Scorpiin Marines burst into the room. The Fleet Admiral stood and bellowed orders to stand down. They all complied except for the XO who’d entered the room in their wake. He brushed past the Marines and advanced on Logan with a Laser pistol aimed at his head. His expression one of hatred and fearful desperation.

“Sir, this intruder has taken control of our ship. We have no control and he has set it on a course that will plunge us into the system’s primary in less than two hours. We must terminate him and regain control immediately.”

The Ancient One stepped in to reassure the XO that the situation was under control. He then turned to Logan with a whole new appreciation of the ruthlessness of the creature they’d created. “This was your Plan B, if I have the terminology correct, it has been many of your years since I personally monitored your species’ broadcasts.”

Logan swallowed, hard. He was not sure what this Reiign would do in a situation where his life was directly threatened. “Yes,” Logan began, “But I would have given you an ultimatum before it was too late to change course.”

“Monster!” The XO bellowed again and appeared on the verge of firing in spite of the Ancient One’s apparent ease with the huMan.

The Ancient One turned back to the XO. “I believe you will find that you and your crew now have complete control of this vessel.”

The XO glared at Logan but did not lower his weapon as he raised the other hand to his face and spoke into his wrist-comm. “XO to bridge, status?

The XO paused for a few moments while listening to the report through his ear bud. Then commanded, “Reverse course immediately and rejoin the fleet.” With that he lowered his weapon, bowed to the Ancient One, Saluted the Admiral and turned on his heels. As he was leaving he ordered his security chief to maintain the guards outside of the exits until he personally ordered them relieved.

The ancient one watched the XO storm out. When he turned back to Logan his eyes were hooded, the lids half closed. It put Logan instantly on guard. His heightened empathic sensory receptors were ablaze. His decision to jack into combat mode came a split second too late.  To his horror, the cybernetic link would not respond to his commands.  Not only that, his limbs started going numb and a form of paralysis was spreading throughout his body, he was nearly frozen in place—even breathing was becoming difficult. By force of will he managed to stumble awkwardly away, trying to flee before collapsing to the floor.

The Ancient One loomed over Logan with an unmistakable air of triumph about him. “Surely huMan, you didn’t believe I would allow a dangerous bio-weapon aboard this vessel without safeguards. Your crude attempts to interface with the Ship’s AI alerted me to your ill-conceived strategy. At any time, I could have ended your infantile attempt at negotiation with your superiors through imaginary strength. And now we will conduct a complete and comprehensive examination and evaluation of your progress and evolution. Of course, these procedures will be invasive and extensive but we will endeavor to leave your mind intact.”

Logan’s mind was in a desperate quandary vacillating between seeking an escape from his predicament and berating himself. Too late he realized that Von had given a solemn vow that the ‘Scorpiins’ would be bound by the agreement, not explicitly the Reiign. He felt foolish to have been so easily duped. He watched helplessly as the Ancient One removed his hand from inside a fold of his robe. He held a device about the size of a common ink pen. He manipulated a small stud and darkness began to envelope Logan’s world. Logan’s fractured thoughts fell on Plan C. The anomaly he’d introduced into the harmonics of the main fusion reactor would eventually cascade into an uncontrollable chain reaction and destroy the ship.

 I won, you bastard. It’s—’ was his last thought before his mind plunged into a black, bottomless void.