Chapter 14 The Catherdal

“Good morning Ben, I have a pot of fresh cafe ready for you,” said Celeste as Ben shuffled out into the salon, filled his cup and sat down next to Celeste. The salon vid was showing eight images. “What am I looking at Celeste?” asked Ben. “I sent out a drone late last night. It was raining and it provided good cover to do this. I have eight small eavesdropping drones in place. Three each at the military base and the cathedral, one is at a mansion inside the walls, and one at a large home just outside the walls. “Most of the recordings are just showing average morning activities, but I have one queued that you should see. The flabby one is Ungar, a trade adviser, and Davin is the Senior Elder, although despot would be a more apt title.” said Celeste,” as Ben watched the recording start to play.

“I want the man who fired at the woman disposed of immediately and his head dumped onto his barracks floor as an example. He nearly got us all killed, and the Gaian's no doubt took full advantage of this. I know these visitors have valuable technology and the ship alone is priceless.” said Davin angrily pacing around the conference room table.

“Senior Elder, you know we train them to shoot women who don't immediately do as they are told, or act like whores in public as the Oneness demands. How else can we keep them under control? I interviewed the guard who fired the shot yesterday, and he did exactly what we taught him to do. He also said he did not miss, and somehow the projectile didn't affect her.” said Ungar. “I don't care. He was stupid, have him executed immediately. What can we do to get their attention back?” said Davin. Ungar paled for a moment and said “It appears to me from the stories I heard they could have killed the guard on the spot if they wanted to, but didn't. He and the other guards are still pretty shaken. They were sure if they didn't drop their weapons they would have been instantly killed on the spot.” “They were there to protect me. How could they do that if they dropped their weapons? I should execute all of them for that alone,” said Davin as he stopped pacing and looked directly at Ungar. “You go back there today alone and take care of this. I'm going to send men with you who will watch you from the woods and stop any other Eaulander's from getting anywhere near this ship. If you don't fix it, things for you will be much worse.” Davin snarled as he stomped out of the room.

Ben looked at Celeste and said, “I don't know much, but this isn't a person I would ever invite over for dinner. My reading of Ungar's body language tells me he is afraid of Davin, and I suspect everyone around him is as well.” “We know he is going to show up here today. The question is what should we do?” said Celeste.

Ben paused for a moment and said “I would like to learn more about this Oneness business. The Gaian's seem to have a mostly passed down oral history of their beliefs, and it's not very organized. I wonder if the Eaulander's actually have a written book of some sort and what it's about. My instincts say it may only be a device to maintain control over the population for a few elite. Ungar's flabby, to say the least, and looks safe enough. Maybe we could invite him aboard and with some staging impress him enough to swing him onto our side. He would be out of sight of his minders, so we should make sure we give him something valuable enough to take back so Davin will want to keep him around to do it again.”

Celeste said, “How about this.” Suddenly the ship shifted a touch, the hull became transparent and Ben was seeing untold billions of brilliant stars and galaxies all around him as if he was floating alone in space. Only the floor and furniture gave him any sense of up or down. Ben gulped hard and looked at the scene in awe. “That will work. It's stunning and so beautiful Celeste. I'm sure it will overwhelm him.” “Thank you, Ben, I've been in this exact place. It's my favorite view of the universe.”

“What kind of gift can we give him Celeste?” asked Ben. “I was thinking about a stun gun with the promise of more. It will immobilize anyone for about 10 minutes, but it won't hurt or kill them. What dictator wouldn't like a bunch of these? I can turn them on or off at will, and can tell where they are,” said Celeste. “Do you want some more cafe Ben?” Ben looked into his nearly empty cup “Sure Celeste.” “How about I cook and you clean up,” said Celeste as the machine started up in the galley. “Thank you, sounds good to me” as Ben got up to refill his cup.