Chapter 15 Ungar's visit

“Celeste, is it all clear around the ship? If so could we go outside and take a short walk around for just a bit,” asked Ben. “I'd like that Ben,” said Celeste, and then tentatively said, “You know I can't go very far.” “You lead Celeste, and I will gladly follow you. Let's go.” When they reached the hatch the ramp was already deployed, and they stepped out together into the sunshine and onto the ground. “It's a pretty planet,” Ben said as he turned from the forest to the low hills off in the distance. “They are all wonderful to me in their own way,” said Celeste. “It's too often the people that live on them that makes them ugly. I'm pretty sure Ungar is coming now, but we still have a few more minutes. We can stay here bit longer if you would like to.” said Celeste. “I'd like that Celeste,” as he stood quietly with her.

Belching black smoke announced Ungar's arrival at the edge of the forest where the carriage jerked to a stop. Celeste's voice whispered in his ear “I see on infrared there are about a dozen men dispersing along the edge of the woods. I need to go back into the ship, and if any of them look like they are even considering shooting at you, my lasers will take them out. If that starts to happen get back into the ship as fast as you can and I will take care of the rest. I've learned sometimes you can't fix some things.”

Ben stood outside and watched as the heavyset man labored to get out of the carriage. Continually mopping his sweating brow he slowly lumbered across the field towards Ben waiting patiently for him at the bottom of the ramp. He stopped about ten feet away from Ben with and with sweat pouring off him said “I have come alone as you can see. I am Ungar, the trade adviser to Senior Elder Davin who has asked me to apologize for the incident that happened.” “Are you referring to your man who shot at my partner? Why would he have done that?” said Ben. Ungar sweating even more profusely stuttered a bit as he said, “He was a new recruit and I assure you he has been, umm, severely disciplined.” Ben said “I hope so, and he was lucky the shot just missed Celeste. Had he hit her none of that group would have survived.” “Come aboard our ship, and we will offer you some comfort and refreshments as we talk,” said Ben

“Please follow me,” said Ben genially. Celeste urgently whispered in Ben's ear. “Keep the large guy close behind you as a shield.” Ungar tentatively followed behind Ben up the ramp. The two walked into the salon and Ben offered Ungar a seat next to the couch. “Please sit, and would you like something to drink?” asked Ben. Ungar was open-mouthed as he looked around at the salon. The wall vids were showing scenes of beautiful cities, and landscapes of other planets including Alexandria nestled in its valley with a ship landing on the pad. Ungar fell back into the chair, and rasped “Maybe perhaps a brandy would be good right now if you have any.” Ben walking to the galley said, “Yes we have some excellent brandy” as he pulled a very full glass from the replicator, sat on the couch and handed it to him. Ungar took a huge swallow from the glass, and asked, “Where are you from?” Ben pointed at the wall vid showing Alexandria that was now showing changing scenes including the hanger with dozens of ships lined up disappearing off into the distance. Ungar blanched and quickly took another big gulp of the brandy and froze in place as Celeste walked into the salon wearing her ship's suit with the same long blonde hair she wore during the encounter pausing behind the couch.

Ben stood and said “I'd like to introduce you to my partner Celeste. She is the captain of the ship.” Ungar tried to stand, but couldn't, and wasn't able to speak at all. Celeste said, “Please be at ease Ungar.” Ungar blurted out, “But your hair,” and stopped. Celeste smiled back at him saying “Do you like it?” Ungar seemed startled by the question paused and said, “The Oneness forbids women to have long hair.” Ben interjected himself and asked, “How do you know the Oneness doesn't like long hair on women?” “The Elders interpret the sacred book for us, that is how they serve the Oneness,” said Ungar. “Have you ever seen this book?” Ungar by rote answered “No it is forbidden to touch or even see the book. It is kept in the sacred chamber at top of the cathedral. Only the senior elder may touch it.”

Ben looked directly at Ungar and asked, “Do you believe in the Oneness?” An uncomfortable Unger in a low voice said “The punishment for those who do not believe is death. I must believe in the Oneness.” Ben digested Ungar's comment for a second and asked, “What will happen to you if we send you back to your carriage right now with nothing in your hands to show for your trip.” Ungar started to shake and couldn't produce an answer. “Ben slowly said to Ungar “You will likely be executed. Am I right?” Ungar slowly nodded his head up and down. Celeste leaned forward and said we can help you if you wish.” Ungar almost in tears quavered, “You can't. The Elders are powerful. Their security forces are trained from childhood to be loyal only to them.”

Celeste said, “We are far more powerful than the Elders, let me show you.” The ship lurched slightly and the universe appeared around Ungar. Ungar stared out in twisting his head in all directions and then promptly fainted. The ship returned to normal and Ben looking over at Celeste winked and murmured “I think we got his attention. I'll refill his Brandy, and we will talk with him again.”

Ungar came to with a start and just sat in the chair. Ben walked over, handed him a full brandy and said “We have an idea for you to consider carefully Ungar.” said Ben as he handed Ungar the stunner and said “You point this at someone, pull the trigger, and they will be completely immobilized for around ten minutes. I think the elder's security people will like this gadget. Take it back with you and tell the Elders we have many of these things and some are far more powerful they can trade goods for. Tell them that we will only accept you as our emissary and you must come alone. We know the elder's men are hiding in the woods, and they are of no consequence to us. You have a much better chance of living helping us. I will walk you to the ramp, and we look forward to your next visit and don't tell them about what you saw.” Ben let Ungar have another big swallow of brandy and then led him to the ramp and watched as he wobbled back to his carriage. Surrounded by a cloud of black greasy smoke the carriage disappeared.