O.K. here is the first chapter of the novel I am presently finishing up, Akiane’s Children. It is 7 pages long. In this day and age, 7 pages is probably not too long to read on line, but if you want, you have my permission to print and read.
I welcome comments.
Hope you enjoy. ;0)
Disclaimer: I have read and reread in the hopes of catching all error, but no matter how many times I read, there is always something. So I apologize up front for any silly spellings or mispronunciations.
Lieutenant Jessica Hewitt
The New Assignment
I was never supposed to set foot on Akiane, nor did I want to. I mean why would I. It was an ice world. It was so cold a thick sheet of ice covered most of the ocean.
I certainly didn’t want to become the focus of media attention for the entire world. I wanted the media to forget about me, and the incident with Dad, even if I never could.
I wanted perspective. I wanted some place safe and quiet where I could think, get my head straight and find my place in life. What I wanted was a hole to crawl into and to be forgotten.
Not sure why I joined the space program, or why I volunteered for the Akiane Project. Guess with all the excitement of reestablishing Earth’s first galactic colony, I though I’d be lost in the shuffle. And I was. At first.
I was Ensign Jessica M. Hewitt, Communications Tech. I sat at the radio and waited for messages from World Space Coalition (WSC), which I’d relay to Captain Norris then I’d relay his answer back. There could be no more brain-numbing job.
Except listening for space anomalies; Space is silent. No, it’s not silent; it’s dead. My job was to listen in case there was something out there. In case something happened.
Nothing happened. Ever.
Except a message from Akiane, the planet of our destination, requesting we turn back and not come. They didn’t want us.
Captain Norris apologized, but once launched, we could not turn back. I don’t know if that was true or not, but I doubted his orders would have allowed him to just turn around and return to Earth. Orders were important to him.
Akiane sent four more messages, each more forceful, and demanding, stating that we were to turn back; We Were Not Wanted.
Each made Captain Norris more determined to continue.
Then exactly four years, eight months, one day, and fifteen hours after launch, Captain Norris called me into his office. The Captain sat straight-backed, behind his desk, with his forearms resting on the desk. He looked like a captain not happy with his insubordinate ensign.
I could think of nothing I done wrong.
“What did you say to those people on Akiane?” His voice was calm, but challenging. He stared at me over his hawk-like nose demanding answers.
I had no idea what he meant. “Excuse me, sir?”
He didn’t offer me a chair or say at ease. I stood arms at my side, feet together and head held high, looking straight ahead at the blank wall behind him.
“You received several communications from the planet Akiane. Is that correct?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, I did,” I said, still not sure where he was headed.
“With whom did you communicate?” He was irritated.
Clearly, I had done something wrong.
“I don’t know, sir. They sent text. I spoke to no one, sir.”
“You must have spoken to someone. Made a friend with someone,” he insisted.
“Did I offend someone, sir?”
He rose and rested his hands on the desk so his face was directly into my line of sight. His stormy gray eyes locked onto mine. “If you were unhappy at your post, you should have come to me instead of trying to go over my head, Ensign.” He said each word clearly and distinctly.
I couldn’t just come out and ask him directly what the problem was. There were rules and a pecking order, and at that moment, I was the one being pecked. I bit my tongue and waited for him to get to the point.
“Someone from that planet has requested you – by name.”
I blinked. What? “Me, sir?” I gulped. “I can’t imagine why, sir.”
His hairy brows furled. “You have been promoted and reassigned,” he growled.
Sounded like a sentence. “Sir?” I weakly asked.
“Seems someone on Akiane likes you.”
“Sir?” I could think of nothing else to say.
“They want a negotiator. You’ve been requested by name.”
“Negotiator? Me? For what?” I was so surprised, I forgot myself. I relaxed my stance.
I snapped to attention.
“Sir.” I finished.
“The colonists don’t like us,” Captain Norris explained. He straightened.
I now stared directly at his color bone.
“They believe we abandoned them all those years ago. They don’t even want us on their planet and insist it belongs to them.” He snorted as if their feelings were not a consideration. “World Space Coalition claims all natural resources and scientific finds, as well as the planet and its habitats, as its property. World Space Coalition did after all, pay for the original expedition.”
He focused his entire attention on me as I’d created the problem entirely by myself. “The colonists won’t even discuss it with us. It seems they want you as a liaison to open the dialogue and tell them how wonderful we are.”
What? How was I supposed to open a dialogue? I barely knew how to carry a normal conversation.
There were several military personnel fully qualified for the job and who would have killed for it. I’d have kill not to have it.
“You have the time during our layover, seven standard-earth days, to get the job done,” he barked.
“And if I don’t complete my mission in the allotted time, sir?”
“Then, Lieutenant, you will stay on Akiane, complete your mission and return on the next ship.”
Lieutenant. Did he say Lieutenant? I must have heard wrong, I was an ensign.
“But, sir, the next transport is two years behind us!”
”Exactly!” he spoke with a little too much enthusiasm. “So don’t fail.” He said it as if he knew I’d fail.
Captain Norris straightened to his full height.
“You’ve been promoted from Ensign Communications Tech, to Lieutenant Junior Grade.”
I stared at him in disbelief.
Having delivered his news, his tension eased a bite, a barely noticeable bit. “As we speak, your things are being packed and moved. You will spend the rest of the trip living with the civilians.”
He was exiling me?
The thought of someone riffling through my personal things turned my stomach.
“Your station has been given to another,” he continued.
He was exiling me.
But I done nothing wrong. “Sir, permission to speak.”
I couldn’t even defend myself.
He sat down and leaned back in his chair, placed one hand on the armrest and the other on his knee. “There is one good thing to come from all of this.”
Good? I wanted to yell at him, What possible good? Instead I said, “Sir?”
“You’ll be famous. Every person on Earth will know your name.”
My knees became immediately weak. I became light headed. I almost lost my balance. Every person on Earth already knew my name.
The media would rifle through my life. Again. They would revisit my deepest darkest moment. This was not the amenity I was seeking.
“Why?” I blurted. I forgot sir.
He didn’t seem to notice. “You’ll be responsible for the reunion of two worlds.”
I lowered my head to look at him. “What if I fail, sir?”
He grimiest. “They you will be responsible for Earth’s first galactic military takeover.”
No pressure there.
“The colonists don’t like us,” Captain Norris explained. “They believe we abandoned them 300 years ago. They insist the planet belongs to them.” He snorted.
“The Akiane Project in an effort to rejoin the two worlds. If those people are unwilling to accept their position as colonists, then they well be taken by force.”
Like any other empire builder, World Space Coalition was not about to give up her colony. You’d think Earth history would have taught the bureaucrats better. I guess not.
“For the rest of our journey, your new orders are to study and learn all you can about Akiane and it’s people.”
Dam protocol. “But, Sir, why me? Surely, there must be someone, almost anyone, who is better qualified. I don’t know how to negotiate peace.” Then as an after thought I said, “Sir.”
“Your name is on the orders,” he said, as if that settled the matter, and for him it did. “Once you’re on Akiane, someone will contact you.”
He reached for the envelope on his desk and handed it me.
I opened it up and pulled out a single piece of paper. The bold letters said: “Lieutenant Jessica M. Hewitt.” Everything else was a blur.