Zee sat at a table along the far wall. The café, not too busy tonight, had a few people, but for the most part was quiet. He’d been there for quite some time, slamming down sandwiches and coffee. It was the same drill he’d been doing for years.
In front of him, laid out across the table were books and maps. He poured through them, scribbling notes on paper about galaxies and planets. To onlookers, he seemed to be a young man with an overly deep fascination for space and fleet life; someone who didn’t have much of a life.
They didn’t know his secret though; what really drove him. If they did and they were the ones lost, the one he was looking for, they wouldn’t find him so seemingly trivial.
Zee was on a manhunt. He was trying to find anything, a link, a picture, something that described the world he’d found himself in almost ten years ago when being overtaken by the Tsunami. If he could find that, maybe he could find his dad.
The waitress made another round.
“More coffee honey”
“Yes, please”, Zee held up his cup.
By now, the staff were used to him and stopped asking questions about his long hours there. He had grown into a steady fixture. They really didn’t mind and actually felt more at peace when he was around. Sometimes Zee would help unload the delivery truck and carry boxes of produce and cured meats to the cooler. That definitely couldn’t hurt his standings with them either.
Zee’s comm. Link started vibrating. Looking at the screen, he knew instantly this was no ordinary message. A call was coming in which required secure channels. Zee picked it up and stood.
“Hey Mickey, I’ll be right back, I’m not leaving. I just need to take this call in private. I’ll pay for my stuff, I promise.”
“No problem Zee. I know you’re good for it.” Mickey was the owner and head cook. Every once and awhile the two of them would have moments of conversation; in between study times when Zee just needed a break. For some reason, Mickey’s heart was full of compassion for Zee. He didn’t know why, he just simply loved him.
In his transport, Zee connected the comm. into the dash system. In here he could receive secured transmissions. The monitor blipped to life. A high ranking government official and longtime family friend appeared on the screen.
“Hello Zee. It’s good to see you!”
“Hello Senator Perkins, nice to see you too.” he replied.
“And how’s your mother?”
“She’s doing okay I think. Misses dad, but I guess so do we all.”
“Yes, he was a good man. Please, give her my greetings,” the senator urged.
“Will do sir. How can I be of service?”
“Well Zee, though we haven’t talked for a while, I certainly am aware of what you’ve gone through the past three months. In fact, it’s been quite a three months for many of us, as we try to piece together what’s going on.”
The Senator continued, “You’re aware I’m sure, we have an ongoing investigation into both tragic ship crashes. We still won’t disclose details to the public, but we’re very certain the incidents are related. And of course we can’t let out the nature of what’s happened to you or the ship mates you were able to rescue. For the moment, the manifests have been sanitized. You and your Academy friends were never on that transport.
You’ll be interested to know too, Senator Michaels has confirmed to us what you told us in your own testimony, that and a whole lot more. It’s actually why I’m calling you today.
You, Brimley and the Senator are the only three people we know of at the moment, who have gone to the other side so to speak and lived to tell about it. Some think we should be throwing Michaels into prison and letting him rot there, but we need his help.
In all honesty, because of him, we finally have a name and a better understanding of an enemy we’ve never been able to see. And we strongly believe this has implications in the attack on Teller Station. It’s been what, ten years? A decade later, and we only now have a lead as to what happened and who attacked us?
Tomorrow, you’re scheduled to meet with him here at the Senate building. He’s requested an audience with you and we think he should have it. We’re hoping your shared experience will encourage him to give us other valuable information.
In exchange for his cooperation, the charges against him are going to be dropped to Senate Campaign Irregularities. He’ll keep his seat, but will never be considered as a candidate for Premier.
Zee, are you okay with this so far? I mean, meeting with Michaels tomorrow?”
“Yes sir. No problem.” Zee answered.
“Good.” There was a pause. “Actually, one more thing Zee we need you to do. Because of your experience that day with Brimley and your dad and then the more recent events, we feel you’re the only one fit for this special mission.”
“Anything I can do to help, I’m ready and willing.”
“I’m glad to hear that. You’re a good kid or should I say young man. I guess you’re not such a kid anymore.”
The Senator took a deep breath.
“We need you to travel again; To Tridia. Something you’ve not been made aware of yet but need to know, is the other ship, the Varnia, recovered a third safe access pod from Teller. When it was opened up, we found technology that isn’t ours.
We suspect it belongs to the people Michaels has been hanging out with and believe it’s a device that enables them to jump dimensions. That’s how we think they got so deep into Teller without being detected and we believe in the same way they got on board the Varnia and brought it down.”
Zee interrupted, “That’s definitely something they used on our transport as well. And some of them including me, used it to get off.”
“Zee, we need you to get to the crash site and recover that device. We feel it should be you since you’re the only one besides Michaels who has really seen and knows the most about it. Bring it here so we can study and figure out how it works. It may be the only way to prevent a future attack.”
“How will I get there?” Zee questioned.
“We’ve made arrangements with the Tridian freighter Montross, to take you and one other. This is a highly secret mission. Tridian merchants are tightly regulated by their government and will suffer greatly if it’s discovered they’re carrying foreign military personnel. Thankfully we have a friend in the business who owes us a favor, not to mention they’re also Freedom Fighters and eager to bring down the current regime. Tell no one of this mission.
They’ll drop you close to the wreckage since its right along their approved vector to the capitol.”
Zee was puzzled. “Have they not already cleaned it up? Why would it still be there after all this time?”
“Good question.” The senator affirmed Zee. “If there was ever a bright moment in all this tragedy, it’s the fact that the wreckage sits in a very sacred zone, according to local tradition. They assume it must have been the will of the gods to crash that ship there and so they don’t plan on moving it. Again, another reason for secrecy and care; we don’t want to cause a scene illegally tromping around on a foreign government’s sacred soil.”
“Wow, it’s never easy is it?” answered Zee.
“No, I’m afraid it’s not.”
Zee was nervous as he drove towards the Senate building. The thoughts of what he witnessed on board the shuttle, the murder of his friends, Michaels involvement with the ones who committed that crime, were very strongly etched in his mind. He was mature enough to know Michaels wasn’t directly responsible and actually had tried to resist, but over the months, Zee was still finding it hard to disconnect his anger with the Senator, for even opening the door in the first place.
He had long since apologized, but even his encounters with Rachael Michaels, the Senator’s older daughter, over the months, though not many, were equally charged moments. Just about every time they talked, Zee found himself lashing out at her. He knew it was wrong, but felt almost out of control with it.
With the passing of time and many moments of declaring forgiveness towards the Senator, Zee actually started to feel compassion. It was a remarkable turn around and now that he was going to face the him for the first time since the incident, he hoped he wouldn’t revert back to the anger he was finally able to get free from. He contemplated himself talking with Michaels.
“What will I say and how will I say it?” Zee was mentally preparing for the moment.
His thoughts were interrupted with the ringing of his transport comm. link. Zee pushed a button to activate the call.
“Zee, is that you?”
“Hi mom!” Zee recognized her voice.
“Oh good. I thought for a moment I had the wrong number. You sound different.”
“It’s probably because it’s the first time we’ve talked on my transport comm. since I got it. I’m sure it makes me sound different than my hand held. Others have said the same.”
“Well good, I’m glad I don’t have the wrong number. I won’t take much of your time, but I just wanted to say thank you for the beautiful artwork you sent. Brimley helped me hang it on the wall in the atrium.”
“Mom, I’m sorry, but I didn’t send you any artwork. Was there not a note or something that says who it’s from?”
“Oh, you didn’t send it?” Zee’s mom was confused. “There wasn’t a note. I guess I just assumed it was you.”
“No, it wasn’t me.” Zee answered.
“Well, it’s beautiful anyway. It’s hard to imagine it’s a painting though. It seems so life like.” Zee’s mom loved good art.
“What’s the painting and who’s the artist?” Zee was trying to show interest and a connection to the things his mother loved.
Zee’s mom took her time describing it to him. “A horse is pulling a cart down a dirt road, through a beautiful forest. The trees and foliage are different from what we’re used to seeing here on Minas Terra. It’s probably a different planet; though it doesn’t look familiar to any planet I’ve visited, or seen in pictures.” There was a moment’s pause.
“The artist is unfamiliar also. Mirawey is the name. They must be a student painter, someone definitely unknown. I’m sure we’ll hear more of them in the future. They’re excellent!”
“Well good mom! I’m glad you like it. Maybe Lilly sent it from her school. You should check with her and see.”
“Oh! Lilly! I didn’t think of her. Yes, I’ll probably do that.”
“Is Brimley there?” Zee asked.
“No, he left after helping me hang it. He seemed a bit shaken. I don’t know why. He said he had to meet with some folks at military headquarters. Is everything okay?”
“Everything is fine that I know of.” Zee truthfully answered. “Maybe I’ll give him a call after my next appointment and see what’s going on.”
“That sounds good.” Sarah answered.
Again there was a pause, before Sarah reluctantly began to end the call. “Okay Zee, well, I thought you sent the painting and I wanted to thank you. I’ll call Lilly about it. I don’t want to keep you tied up.”
“Ok Mom. Yeah, I’m just getting to my next thing and have to focus. I love you.”
“I love you too son”. Sarah hated saying goodbye, but by now was getting a little more used to it. At least Zee was on Minas Terra and not traveling to some dangerous place. She had to count her blessings.
As the transport pulled to the gate, Zee had his identification card out and visible for the gate guard. His name was quickly located on the visitor’s list and with a hand signal to the tower, the gate began to rise. Zee saluted and continued on into the Senate grounds.
Once inside the building, there were several more pedestrian gates and checkpoints to pass through. It took some time, due to a large number of people all visiting at the same time. Thirty minutes later, Zee was in and finally heading to the seventeenth floor where the Senator was located. Nervousness began to set in again.