Thanks for reading. The story begins to pick up more as more clues to Aran’s past and destiny are revealed. To read previous chapters, click HERE.
A hard knock on his door woke Aran up from his slumber. He groggily opened the door to an very irate Danyelle.
“You have fifteen minutes,” she told him.
He nodded and closed the door on her. Fifteen minutes later, after showering and getting dressed, he walked out of his room and met up with both Danyelle and Hot Rod, who were waiting for him at the lift, which took them down to the transit station. Ten minutes later they were on yet another lift, going up into the higher levels of Starfleet Sentral. Ramon’s office was located on the sixth floor of the structure. Aran glanced at Danyelle; she still looked upset. He sighed and looked over at Hot Rod and then understood Danyelle’s agitation. Hot Rod was leaning against the wall with his head propped in his hands.
“Too much Chappalan ale?” Aran asked him.
Hot Rod muttered something incoherent, which made Aran smile and Danyelle scowl.
“You think it’s funny?” She asked him.
“Maybe,” he replied with a smirk.
The lift came to a stop and all three exited out into the corridor. As they walked out, a few other officers walked in and took the lift to parts unknown. Hot Rod nudged Aran as they walked past the main control hub and saw countless other officers keeping tabs on other areas of Starfleet. Aran managed a grin, being very happy that he didn’t have to do that anymore. It was bitter work.
They finally arrived at Ramon’s office. Danyelle pushed on the wall panel, next to the sliding doors. They heard a familiar gruff voice cry, “Enter.”
The sliding doors opened to reveal a drab-looking chamber. The floor was covered with what looked like an annoyingly brown shag carpet. A huge mahogany desk was fixed near the back wall. Sitting in the chair behind it was Ramon. Two other figures were seated to his left. One was an obvious Krenoxian, tall and slender, long, black flowing hair, and dark, piercing eyes. He had a small, visible scar on his right cheek and was clothed in a Tranaxian royal guard tunic. Aran noticed him eyeing Danyelle as if they knew each other. At the sight of him, Danyelle’s eyes widened and her face blushed bright red. The other seemed to look like a human, but also seemed not. His features looked metallic and plain. He wore a black tunic with a Starfleet emblem on its sleeve. Aran was given the impression that he was not comfortable. But when he looked at Aran, he was given a small merry smile as if he knew him.
“I see most of you look well-rested,” Ramon said to them, but looking at Hot Rod, who was obviously hung over.
“Yes, Sir,” Aran replied as the strange fellow still stared at him.
“Good,” Ramon said as he rose from his seat and walked over to the others. “As you can see we have some guests.” He gestured to the Krenoxian. “This is Lieutenant Mikkel Gomas. He is originally from Krenox and now serves in the Tranaxian Royal Guard. If I’m not mistaken, Commander Hawkins is familiar with him.”
Danyelle nodded as Lieutenant Gomas bowed to her, making her blush even more.
“And this is Darkata,” Ramon said, putting his hands on Darkata’s shoulders. “What you see is Darkata’s replicant body. He is the computer essence of the ship you’ll be taking. When needed, he is able to download himself into this body.” Ramon looked over at Aran. “You should be somewhat familiar with him, Aran.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was with you when Kamal Thazgo brought you here,” Darkata replied, speaking for the first time. “He downloaded me into the ship when we escaped Krenox.”
The words came out of Danyelle’s mouth as Aran looked at Darkata in astonishment. Another piece of his past was thrust upon him again, just like the day when he saw the picture of his parents in Admiral Mattingly’s office. It was getting harder and harder for him to shy away from this destiny that Admiral Mattingly had once told him about.
“We recovered Darkata’s normal “body” a few years ago with his help,” Ramon continued. “We’ve been repairing and remodeling it since. It was in pretty bad shape.”
Darkata smiled. “Your father created me,” he said. “As I served him, I shall serve you.”
Aran looked at Ramon. “Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” Aran asked him.
Darkata’s grin faded somewhat. “Before your father was murdered, he downloaded me onto a disk to preserve and protect me,” he said. “The murderer’s damaged my “body” and hid it. It took me almost twenty star years to find it. We were going to contact you eventually but the Ashlynn Ascalon incident prioritized the necessity of now.”
Darkata turned back to Ramon. “I must return to the ship,” he said, feeling a bit uncomfortable with everyone looking at him. “I have final preparations to make. You know how I detest being in this body for a long period. ”
As Ramon nodded, Darkata turned to Aran and held out his hand, which Aran took, and they shook. Aran noticed the softness of the hands. It was almost impossible to believe he was a replicant. Darkata then bowed to Danyelle and Hot Rod and took his leave of them. It was silent still as they heard his footsteps noisily down the corridor.
“Darkata doesn’t care for his replicant body much,” Ramon said, breaking the silence. “We were lucky it wasn’t damaged. As much as he dislikes it, it does have it’s usefulness.“ He then handed everyone but Lieutenant Gomas their papers. “The mission before you is difficult and rather dangerous. It is best suited for a small unit rather than a fleet, which would alienate,” Ramon paused for a second to choose his next word as carefully as possible. “others.”
“Princess Ashlynn Ascalon was kidnapped by Centrattians, more than likely by a team headed by Klaw Zarden. His presence was confirmed there by our contacts.”
“Why would Zapato want her?” Aran asked.
Ramon looked at Aran grimly and then shot a look at Lieutenant Gomas. “We don’t think Zapato’s the main culprit,” he replied as he sighed heavily. “We believe Ganelon is behind it.”
The name didn’t register to anyone except Mikkel Gomas. His eyes flashed red with anger at the mention of the name. Apparently he had not been told this bit of information.
“Why was this kept from me?” He asked Ramon. Aran noticed his accent was heavier. “I would have set out to find her earlier!”
“Lieutenant,” Ramon began, trying to diffuse the situation before it got out of hand. “We weren’t sure and still aren’t. And besides, had you went, you wouldn’t have succeeded.”
This seemed to quiet the Tranaxian, although he still grumbled under his breath. He shot a look over at Danyelle, who wasn’t looking at him, but at Ramon. The room stayed silent for only a few more seconds, until Aran asked another question that was on his mind.
“Why is it so imperative that I go on this mission? I’m still not sure why you need me?”
Ramon took a deep breath and released it. He walked over to a shelf that was near his desk and took a small book down. He searched for a certain page and after finding it, handed to Aran. He read it slowly and look of confusion furrowed upon his brow.
“Princess Ashlynn wears a pendant that is the symbol of Ananke, an ancient Krenoxian goddess,“ Ramon began. “Inside the pendant shows the location of Aushen, the sword of light, which is one of the two swords that were created from the Light Crystal.”
“I thought that was a myth,” Hot Rod remarked. “Raf used to talk about it.”
Ramon shook his head. “I’m afraid it isn’t,” he replied. He walked back to the shelf and pulled a disk out that had been carefully preserved. “This was recovered from a Krenoxian time journal, many years ago. It is extremely valuable.”
He slid the disk into his computer that was at his desk. At once, a deep, velvety voice spoke.