As the last star fighter in squadron 111, Midshipman Henry Gallant is on his way from Jupiter to Mars. With the United Planets' fleet on the verge of annihilation, he can expect no help as he passes through the asteroid belt and threatening aliens. With so much uncertainty about the aliens’ capabilities and intentions, analyzing the captured computer equipment in Gallant’s possession could prove crucial.
The fate of Earth could rest on the abilities of Midshipman Henry Gallant. Unfortunately, it is his abilities that have been much in doubt during his tour of duty. In an era of genetic engineering, he is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. His classmates and superior officers have all expressed their concern that he will not be up to the demands of the space service. Only bright and attractive junior officer Kelsey Mitchel has shown any sympathy for him. Now as his navigator on the last fighter in squadron 111, her life as well as a good many others, depends of Henry Gallant.
Gallant stood at attention inside the open hatch. Captain Kenneth Caine was seated with his back to Gallant while he reviewed Gallant’s military record on a computer tablet. Clean-shaven with close-cropped graying hair, Caine was solidly built with square shoulders and a craggy face.
From his short time on board, Gallant had already realized that the Repulse was an orderly ship and that Kenneth Caine was an orderly captain. Precision and disciple were expected. He was suddenly conscious of the fact that his tangled brown hair was somewhat longer than regulations allowed.
The cabin was sparely furnished, revealing a traditional stark military room. A desk rested in one well lit corner and held the single personal item in the room, a photo. It showed an attractive mature woman with a pleasant smile. It hinted of someone who had made a bad bargain – that of the lonely wife of a devoted space officer.
While the captain rapidly slid his finger across the tablet screen, flipping through the personnel folder, Gallant’s gaze wandered to the scene visible from the compartment’s porthole. The solar flare had subsided, leaving gigantic colorful Jupiter filling most of the view.
“Mr. Gallant, come in,” said Caine, finally turning to face the newcomer. “Welcome aboard the Repulse.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Gallant in a strong clear voice.
“What do you know of this ship’s mission, Mr. Gallant?”
“As flagship of the Jupiter Fleet, Repulse is required to prevent further alien encroachment along the Jupiter frontier, sir,” ventured Gallant cautiously.
“Quite right, as far as it goes. But you’ll find Mr. Gallant, that there are often more layers involved than may appear on the surface. As a United Planets' (UP) officer, it is your responsibility to find the additional shades of meaning that can affect the performance of your duties. What would you surmise is behind this frontier watch?” The captain’s reassuring voice beckoned a resolute answer.
Gallant spoke guardedly, at first, but then with growing confidence he said, “Well, sir, UP knows little about the aliens' origins or intentions. They appear to have bases on the satellites of the outer planets. Clashes with their scout ships have proven troublesome and Fleet Command wants to gather more intelligence. With so little known about the alien technology, it’s difficult to assess the best way to repel them. Nevertheless, this fleet is tasked with forestalling any possibility of an invasion of Earth by preventing the aliens from gaining a foothold in this sector of space.”
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As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of computer scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of six books.
Contact: H. Peter Alesso