The Ark Mission fleet emerges from hyper space and begin to slow themselves down as they arrive near the heliosphere of Zathustine Major. Just like Earth, Mohcia is the third planet from the star at the center of their solar system. One of the cargo ships has a malfunction and does not slow enough before entering the heliosphere and reports damage to the main fleet Admiral, Jennifer.
“Start working on a full analysis of the damage. We’ll send a repair shuttle to you once we enter the heliosphere. In the meantime, since your launch bays are working, continue your course as best as possible and deploy the outer probes you have onboard so we can start collecting data. Then hold up position in the same orbit as the 4th planet and await shuttles to take your crew aboard Ark I while repair crews make the necessary repairs.” Jennifer records the commands to the damaged ship.
As the rest of the fleet makes a safe, steady entry into the heliosphere, the leaders of the mission meet aboard Ark I to review the plans. The primary directive is to take aboard as many of the inhabitants of Mohcia who choose to evacuate onto the seven Ark ships in the fleet and relocate them throughout a set of planets that humans have come to know as inhabitable over the last several hundred years.
Jennifer enters the secure meeting room and all of the ship commanders rise. Two of the seats are empty. One from the damaged ship (Skyros I) and the other for Ark II. The commanders all sit and begin with a standard rundown of the status of their ships, supplies, and troops. Commander Andre Levion enters the room late with a clumsy walk and a smirk on his face.
“Pardon my tardiness, kind peers. My space legs are getting the best of me.” Levion jests.
Jennifer scowls at Andre and continues on with the meeting. Communication ships like Skros are to arrive ahead of the Ark cruisers so that they can establish the communication network in orbit around Mohcia . Each Ark has specific positions they are to take up in orbit around Mohcia to land their cargo shuttles that will be performing the transport of the evacuees. The military ships will accompany the Ark cruisers and provide them planetary security forces should the need arise.
Jennifer adjourns the meeting and requests that Levion stay behind to speak with her.
“What’s with the buffoonery, Andre?”
“Guess we’ll skip the pleasantries, eh?”
“This is a serious mission! Lives are at stake here, and you’re clowning around like we’re back in the academy.”
“Oh, the good ol’ days. Back before you got engaged to some weirdo science guy. Back when we’d hold hands looking at the sunsets in orbit around Jupiter.”
“Ya, you were a drunk then, and I’m guessing your space legs are you being a drunk after coming out of hibernation.”
“No way, Admiral! I’m on the straight and narrow. Have been since you left me. I have clearance from my ship’s doctor about this ailment plaguing me today.”
“I expect to see that report from the doctor before you can resume command of your Ark.”
“Are you kidding me? After all we’ve been through and me getting my uncle to help you out with getting a Admiral position in the first place! You’re going to treat me like some guy you weren’t in love with 10 years ago.”
“10 years. 10 lifetimes.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Levion’s face is turning red from upset.
“It means I’ll be happy to see your uncle again when we pick him up off Mohcia. Maybe spending the next nine months with him will do you some good with growing up. Infrastructure missions are quite a bit different from the military missions you are used to.”
“Ya, well…” Levion pauses and holds back his comment. “Ma’am, I’ll have my doctor send you his report as I’m heading back to my Ark that I will resume command of once you have authorized.”
“God willing.” Jennifer smiles at Levion and pats him on the shoulder and smiles. “Andre, I always believed in you, and I believe you have a beautiful destiny in front of you. It’s just not going to be with me the way you want it, but please know that I will always support you as the man I know you CAN be rather than this kid you pretend to be.”
Levion looks at Jennifer and glances down with a bit of shame and then looks back up at her and smiles. “You changed my life forever, Jennifer.” He sighs. “Thank you for everything you’ve done and always believing in me. I can’t wait to have dinner with you and Uncle John once we get to Mohcia.”
The communication ships arrive in orbit around Mohcia and begin setting up the satellites for network communications on the planet. They have still not been able to raise communication with the Earth base on Mohcia which had sent out the distress signal starting a year ago. The distress signal is still being emitted from the base.
The surveillance satellites deployed quickly determine the native inhabitants are going about living their regular lives, but none of the facilities built by Earth’s people are showing any activity. Jennifer options to send down military ships in advance for further surveillance.
Jennifer is sitting in her study when she receives notification from her robot assistance that an encrypted channel is being received from Ark II.
“Jen, you gotta let me go down there!” Levion tries to hold back his upset.
“Not a chance, Levion. This is a military mission right now. We need further information on what’s going on before anyone from infrastructure steps foot on Mohcia.”
“My uncle is down there, Jen. He’s the one who triggered the distress signal. You know that’s the case.”
“Military only, Levion.”
“Then dismiss me from my infrastructure duties and put me on military or you’ve got your first mutiny on your first mission as an Admiral!”
“You threatening me?”
“I’m promising you that there is no way on hell you are keeping me from going down there and finding my uncle. C’mon, Jen! He was like a god damn father to you!”
“I can feel your pain, Andre.”
There’s a long pause. Levion is holding his breath…
“You are relieved of duty of the Ark II. Instructions will be sent to Commander Nielson to take over. You are to rendezvous with Apollo 7 on Mohcia. They are at the base where your uncle was operating.”
Levion cheers! “Thank you so much! We’re going to celebrate when I bring him back. I promise!”
“Good luck, Andre.”
“You were always my lucky charm, Jen. I can’t thank you enough!”
The communication line drops and Jennifer sends the orders to Ark II to give command to Nielson and relieve Levion of command and provide him with a military shuttle.
Levion lands his shuttle at the airdeck at the Earth base on Mohcia where his uncle was in command. The military forces who arrived earlier greet him and escort him to the command center. All of the weapons, munitions, food, computers, and personnel are absent from the base.
The Lieutenant in charge reports to Levion. “They definitely didn’t follow protocol, sir. Everything has been evacuated according to protocol, but they did not leave behind any information to indicate where they went. One of the other bases on Mohcia are reporting the same thing. Full evacuation protocol followed with the exception of leaving behind the encrypted destination devices. No word from the central base yet.”
“Any ideas how long ago?”
“We’re estimating maybe a few weeks before we arrived. They definitely stuck around for quite some time after setting off the signal, sir.”
“You think any of the natives might have taken the devices?”
“Not likely, sir. The natives are fairly primitive, but we have sent some men out to ask a few questions.”
Another soldier enters the room, “Sir, there’s a native at the front gate asking to see Levion.”
“Have them let him in. I’ll speak to him in here.”
Both soldiers leave and then the native is brought into the room with Levion. The native is a blueish grey skinned bipedal creature with two arms, each with six fingers and no thumbs. He’s about four feet tall, making him appear like a child standing in front of the 6’2″ Levion.
A soldier brings in a bag with a few items. “These are the items we found on him, sir. We also performed a weapons scan of his body. He’s clean.” The soldier takes up position a few feet behind the native.
“What’s your name?” Levion speaks into a device that translate to native tongue.
The native looks behind him and then back at Levion. Then back to the soldier. Then back to Levion and then places one of his six fingers in front of his small mouth. Levion motions for the soldier to leave, and he does.
“My master has given me an important task, son of my master.” The device Levion is holding translates the native’s speaking.
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”
“My master is Levion. You are son of Levion. This I know because master has give me the promise that you will save my people from the destruction that has been prophesied.”
Levion thinks to himself, “These computers can’t interpret worth crap.” Then he looks in the bag with the items taken from the native.
“The image of my master lives in that gem.” The native points to a metal pendant with a gemstone in the middle. “If your magic can create the light, you will see my master.”
Levion pulls out his flashlight from his utility belt and shines it underneath the gemstone. A hologram shows him an image of several objects, one of which is a figure who looks like his uncle as well as another picture who looks like him. The other objects, Levion does not recognize.
“Where is this man?” Levion points to the figure of his uncle.
“He is my master. He has ascended and promised my family salvation. You are my salvation, master. Just as my master has prophesied.”
Levion realizes that his uncle must have given this native some insight into where he went. “Did your master give you any gifts?”
“Oh, yes, master. I have them in my home. I have kept them for you, son of my master. My master prophesied that you would arrive and ask me for the gifts he has given me. I have protected them with my life.”
“Where is your home, friend?”
Two of the military envoys dispatched earlier report to Levion that most of the natives are very friendly and that the soldiers were being treated like saviors and given many blessings as they spoke with natives near the bases. The third envoy in the central part of Mohcia has not reported back, so Levion asks for satellite surveillance to get additional intel and sends a second envoy manned by Lieutenant Bargh to the central region’s Earth base.
Levion reports back to Jennifer that they have not been able to identify where the members of the Earth base went but that the natives don’t appear to be hostile in the north and south. The central part of Mohcia is undetermined. He recommends that the Ark cruisers should undergo their rescue mission outside the central regions of Mohcia, which are mostly dense forest and a logistical nightmare anyway.
The Ark cruisers position themselves in low orbit around Mohcia and begin to deploy the rescue shuttles. Each rescue shuttle contains worker robots to help each native community with their belongings. Plants and animals are all closely evaluated for health to ensure that only the best animals and plants are taken during the evacuation.
On Ark I, Jennifer is receiving information back from the solar surveyors that were deployed ahead of their arrival on Mohcia to monitor the star. None of the data points are showing anything wrong with the star, and all signs are indicating that the star is healthy with no signs of instability.
Jennifer asks for another set of solar surveyors to be deployed to ensure that the information being collected is valid. She also orders a non-military speed pace convoy to make a visit to the other side of the star as quickly as possible and deploy surveyors and then speed back with the information.
The second envoy to the central region of Mohcia arrives at the Earth base to find the first envoy holding several of the natives captive and an irrational Lieutenant Smith rambling about conspiracy. The base is in the same evacuated condition as the north and south bases. Attempts to radio back to Levion, result in no response. Satellite communication, has no signal.
Lieutenant Bargh from the second envoy meets with Lieutenant Smith. Bargh asks Smith what he’s doing taking natives prisoner and why he didn’t report back to Levion.
“Something doesn’t feel right about this whole situation.” Smith confides. “I started asking myself why the original team just disappeared. Part of me wants to think these natives whacked the whole team and then covered up everything, but they aren’t that smart. The natives are a bunch of savage idiots.”
“Our job is not to police these natives, Smith. Our job is to ensure that our men are protected.”
“I AM protecting our men!” Smith yells!
“What good does it do to bring these natives in like a bunch of prisoners? What do you think you have done to help this mission or protect our men?”
“Ya, you think these natives are so peaceful, right? They don’t like us. They don’t want us here. Ask them. Ask them yourself!”