The Thauran Commodore stood at the window of his office and looked over the Pacific Ocean far below. It took him a while to understand that the locals meant that orange steel construct spanning the San Francisco Bay when they talked about the bridge and not the Union bridge across the trans galactic void to the Andromeda galaxy.
Of course, after sixteen years stationed here, and having a beautiful home not far from here in the Napa Valley he felt like a local too, even started to wear sun glasses.
He then turned and paid once more attention to his visitor, a rather unpleasant Pan Saran Rear Admiral lower half Marcus Augustus. Unlike the majority of Pan Sarans, he was not muscular or tall, but on the contrary quite short and despite all medical choices and body fitness options overweight in a flabby ungainly way.
Commodore Rabyr wondered how this man could have ever passed the Academy or graduated looking that way.
The admiral repeated his request, that made the Commodore to get up and look out the window in the first place. “Look Commodore Rabyr, I don’t care if he would even know the Admiral of the fleet himself. I want a hearing to determine a court martial. In all my life I have never noticed so many direct violations of regulations of one single captain.
And I had access only to a part of the log book. I want full access to all records and I want him before a Commission and conduct a full hearing.”
“He does know the Admiral of the Fleet and more so the Admiral knows him. Quite well I might add.”
The fat Pan Saran glared angrily.”So what, that does not give him the right to violate regulations. This entire culture of hero worship has gone way to far. Not that I believe even 10 percent of what he supposedly have done.”
“He has done that and much more, the Eternal Warrior has confirmed it.”
“That is exactly what I mean by hero worship. All these legends and myths. Don’t tell me you believe that careful maintained legend of immortal admirals. We all know it is mere propaganda for the enemies. Most likely a name bestowed on special officer controlled by NAVINT.”
Rabyr looked at the Admiral as if he was insane. “Stahl, a myth? Are you really a Union fleet officer? No I should ask: Are you a real Union citizen?”
“Of course, and I am sick and tired of anyone telling me the same propaganda. Whenever someone mentions this name stupid flag waving propaganda induced hero worship results. Anyone with a real brain will know that no Admiral ever fires a gun. I am sure you know plenty of those ridiculous stories of this so called hero fighting ground battles in the most dangerous situations. A real admiral of course stays away as far as possible from any possible danger. Heck even our own Emperor insists on having talked to the real Stahl. However it matters not that everyone is so gullible or perhaps not brave enough to say the truth. What matters is, that according to Fleet regulation I have the right, the very duty to demand that this so called Captain Olafson is brought before a committee of senior officers where he is confronted with his numerous offenses. Especially since I found out that he is acting captain and has never even served as an XO or spend one minute in command school. I checked his personal record at least of what was not classified beyond my clearance, he was never fully commissioned. Do I have to order you to arrest him or must I do that myself?”
The Thauran gasped. “You want him arrested? Oh you better do that yourself!”
“You are the head of Fleet Security in this sector. It is your duty to arrest him.”
“Then I want a signed order to do so, before witnesses and with all charges clearly spelled out.”
“How can I spell out all his charges. The logs are still classified and so is most of his personal records. I have requested the declassification or the adjustment of my clearance to see it all. It is just a formality of course and will be granted any moment. In the mean time I hereby order you to arrest Acting Captain, Midshipman Eric Olafson.”
The Thauran used his intercom to call for two officers and then tied in the Computronic and said. “For the record please repeat your order.”
“Ridiculous of course, but I am not afraid of simulated legends and long dead admirals conjured up to impress the simple masses and the gullible enemies. I, Admiral Augustus of the regulations committee and record keeping division hereby request that Eric Olafson, acting captain of the USS Tigershark is arrested and put under full restraint until a hearing for his court martial can be convened.”
That the two officers looked like someone told them space wasn’t black was not unexpected but that the Computronic, which was one of the most advanced systems in the known universe said. “Admiral Augustus do you feel unwell or are you using official Fleet resources to make jokes?”
The admiral glared towards the ceiling. “It appears the GalCom connection to Nelson II is faulty or this machine needs to be assessed for malfunctions. I issued a clear and precise order. I am of good health and I am an Officer. I will not be questioned by a mere machine.”
“Your order has been recorded. However I might add that the Galcom connection is perfectly fine and one functions well within all parameters.”
The admiral did not listen and said to the Thauran. “See that it is done, before this imposter tries to escape. As I understand he is on Earth and visits Norway.” He left without anyone having a chance to say anything.”
The Thauran said to the closing door. “You could teach us Thaurans what self importance really is. Even the Grand Wizard of the Kermac has nothing on you.”
To Nelson II he added. “Never mind him, everyone knows you are certainly not a mere machine.”
“Commodore Rabyr. One is not capable of being insulted, however if I would have human emotions I would feel sorry for him.”
One of the officers present was a Dai. “Yes I agree.”
The Saresii that has also been called to witness asked.” Why would you feel sorry for him? He most likely finds himself on the civilian side of life.”
The Dai shook his head. “He most likely finds himself on the other side of life. He is an officer after all.”
The Saresii still didn’t get it.
The Dai said.”If Olafson feels insulted he might challenge the man to a gentleman’s affair and I doubt he survives that one for more than a second. My tribe lords first son is Olafson’s best friend.”
The Computronic actually laughed. “One has not computed that possibility, but it is true. One was contemplating what will happen if that Admiral was actually meeting what he believes is a insubstantial, conjured legend. If one would be curious one would wish to be present when that happens.”
Rabyr grinned. “Nelson, if I can, I make it happen.”
“One would be very grateful.”
The Dai said. “I think Nelson II has a hidden but very fine sense of humor.”
“One finds the prospect of relaying such an event to Mothermachine quite stimulating. One is pleased the concept of humor is correctly processed.”
Admiral McElligott could not believe the report, considered it a joke or hoax and was angry at first that someone even dared to make a joke like that. After Nelson II however confirmed that it was quite real, he paled. “Sweet mother of God. Quick let us clear the incident before Stahl hears of it and before they have a chance to actually try to arrest Olafson. It could end in a catastrophe.”
“One must apologize, Admiral. I am simultaneous informing the Eternal Warrior.”
McElligott cursed like a true highlander and then paused in his anger. “Connect me with Stahl.”
The Admiral of the Fleet looked into the face of the other immortal admiral. Stahl was wearing a heavy destroyer suit sans helmet standing before a background of smoldering ruins and a deep red sky. McElligott rolled his eyes. “You can’t stay away from the front lines. You are not a marine grunt, your an admiral.”
“I have always been a marine first and foremost and I have never ceased to be a grunt. It is the front lines where the war happens, not in some cozy super secure command center light years away from the action. Now we had a rough time taking this system. The Warog are as tough as they come and they don’t give up easily, but that battle we just fought is nothing compared to the shit storm your personal inquisitor, that sorry excuse of a Union officer is about to raise. You know what I said when you promoted that pile of flabby dough to admiral rank.”
“I resented what you said then as I do now. He did a very thorough job in enforcing our regulations. Only by strict adherence to regulations can we hope to run the Navy as it must be run.”
Stahl snorted disgusted. “You don’t even buy that line. What about regulation 74075-PF? How did that sack of fat manage to get past the physical fitness requirement?”
“Officers of admiral rank are exempt from this regulation. You are the only Admiral insisting training with boot camp marines.”
“So you tell me that thing you call an admiral was a picture of fitness until he became an admiral? Well I am done hearing your sad excuses for questionable personnel decisions.”
“I am still your superior and I resent being ridiculed by you. Now how we are going to deal with the situation? I want you to call Captain Olafson and make sure he is not reacting the wrong way, while I try to stop Admiral Augustus before it even comes to that.”
Now Stahl grinned. “Oh we are doing it exactly by the book. You told me just a month ago that this so called Admiral was empowered by you to scrutinize command officers and make sure they followed all rules and regulations. You also ordered me to stay out of it, Admiral Sir. Besides I already received a priority one summon from said Admiral to appear at said hearing.”
McElligott swallowed hard. “I will of course order him to disregard that and remove him from office. Now you need to help. Olafson could summon his alter ego and that could very well cause some damage before we can contain him. He is on Earth!”
“Contain him? Have you not heard the Narth Supreme. There is no force in the Universe that could stop him. However he gave me his word that he is still an Officer and Union citizen and that is all I need to know. Oh and if you stop that summon you need the Assembly to do that as it was you who gave him federal investigative authority. Doing it without it is not just a breach of regulations and I will be the first summoning you to the Assembly so you can explain to them.”
McElligott never really liked Stahl, but he knew if he summoned him to the Assembly not even the Grey Ghosts could save him. There was no denying it, Stahl was easily the most beloved and respected person in all Union history.
While he was the Admiral of the Fleet and had the highest military command authority, he had no illusions that ninety percent of the fleet would follow Stahl if he asked them to and of course every marine active, reserve or retired and most of the Union would cheer him doing it. Luckily Stahl was integrity incarnate and would never do that. He angrily terminated the connection.
After a moment staring at the blank field screen he barked at the computronic. “Nelson II, why are you addressing me correctly and call Stahl by this ridiculous nickname? You are a machine for Christ’s sake”
“One has access to the entire service history of Admiral Stahl and one finds this a very befitting title.”
“It’s not a title. He is an admiral nothing more.”
“Bellebee research concluded that this epithet was first used by editors of the Galactic Chronicle after the successful defeat of the Y’All invasion. The term was also used by Mothermachine and made into an official title by request of Queen T’Snikk before the Assembly in 3912. It might interest you that this request was passed within ten minutes of standing ovation and with a rare one hundred percent approval. It could be argued that this is neither a nickname nor ridiculous.”
It was perhaps the strangest arrest in Union history, after six heavy armed flyers deposited an entire platoon of Marines at the Atlantic beach near Hammerfest where Captain Olafson in swimming trunks exited the ice cold water and the rows of marines stood in attention while the Marine Commander saluted him. “Sir, I am proud it is me who has the honor of arresting you!”
The Neo Viking fleet officer looked completely baffled. “You are proud to do what?”
“Sir Admiral Augustus has ordered you to be arrested and brought before a hearing so you may be charged with commanding a space ship without proper commission and infractions against several fleet regulations. Not to worry, Sir.”
Still confused the captain said. “I am arrested by an entire Marine platoon in full battle dress, a full regiment of Cerberus on charges that make no sense and I should not be worried?”
“Sir, the Admiral of the Fleet is on his way from Arsenal furious about what happened, he wanted to order your immediate release and deal with the affair a different way, but the Eternal Warrior currently at the very front in the Killgor system is summoned to this very same hearing and to be arrested if he ignores that summon.”
The marine straightened his stance even further.” Sir, the admiral asked me to convey this personal message: Play along, I want this to be the rope a certain kilt wearing fool hangs himself. Sir, these are exactly his words.”
The marine was quite angry as he said that. “Admiral Stahl also wanted you to know, he will comply and assured us you will too.”
Then he pointed to the robots and armed flyers. “Admiral McElligott was not so sure and wanted us to take precautions. On a personal note, my marines and I are here to have the honor to meet you.”
Eric raised an eyebrow. “Admiral Stahl was threatened to be arrested? Summoned from the front during a war?”
“As a marine I am not allowed to criticize command.”
He took off his rank insignia and then said. “As a citizen however I can. McElligott wanted to enforce the rules and set an example by scrutinizing a few high ranking or famous officers. To show the Assembly that he is in command and not Stahl. It backfired and I personally can’t wait for that hearing.”
Eric rolled his eyes and held out his hands. “Handcuffs or prisoner suit?”
“Neither one, Sir. You are not judged yet and your word is as good to me as that of Admiral Stahl.”
“You just used the only restraints that could hold me, Commander. Can I get dressed?”
Admiral Augustus was not sure if he liked the way the affair developed. He wanted the hearing done with hand picked Officers and inside a military court room. While he still had the officer he selected chair the hearing with him; and while it was still inside the impressive and imposing central court room of fleet command Earth. It was simulcast to the Assembly and thus to the general public.
He specifically ordered the Computronic to issue gag orders to all involved. What he had overlooked is that he did not include the cursed Computronic.
“Nelson II, I specifically requested gag orders. This proceedings were to be held in military fashion and not become a public circus. What do the simple civilians know of military proceedings? This order was including you!” He fumed and added.”You are disobeying direct orders given! I will therefore order your deactivation and have you replaced with a machine that obeys.”
Admiral Augustus was certain he detected the amused tone in the AIs voice.
“You requested that any person and member of the Union spatial navy associated with this case is to be gagged of discussing any details with non spatial fleet personnel. One, as you pointed out is a machine. One is not a member of the Union spatial navy and neither are the United Stars marines, the Union Army members or the thirty four thousand seventy three civilian clerks that are aware of this case. Furthermore you were appointed by recommendation of the Admiral of the Fleet to be a special investigator and prosecutor in cases of gross misconduct and violation of Navy rules and regulations by Navy personnel. I am by definition technical equipment and you have no authority to order my deactivation. I may add this is a violation of regulation 17221 and could be considered an act of attempted sabotage of Navy equipment essential to the war effort.”
Augustus paled and hastily added. “This was not an order just a test and is to be ignored and deleted.”
Nelson happily chirped. “On March 5th,5052 at 0922 hrs. Admiral M. Augustus conducted an unauthorized test on Fleet Main Computronic and then ordered the test results to be ignored and deleted. Test results deleted.”
Augustus was now satisfied that this episode was erased. He who prosecuted others for misconduct could not be accused of breaking the rules himself. Thankfully when a Computronic deleted something, it was gone.
The court room was indeed impressive and usually used in the very rare times when a star ship captain was accused of very serious matters. In the almost 3000 years of Union fleet history only a very small number was ever convicted stripped of their rank and command and their names placed in the hall of shame.
Admiral Augustus planned to fill that place with many names and foremost this ensign impostor who commanded a star ship, had the audacity of conscripting non Union aliens without the proper authority and even hanging a man. Only a fully commissioned Captain was allowed to do all these things. Not a midshipman who never even had the rank of ensign and was made acting captain for three days and then disappeared only to reappear in 5048 still as acting Captain. No acting rank was viable for that many years.
He had the personnel file of Olafson and log book of the USS Tigershark before him. Both documents were filled with much data. Yet he was only able to access perhaps ten percent at most.
Finally his priority call to the Admiral of the Fleet was answered. “Admiral McEligott you had the wisdom to appoint me to this task. Now how can I do my job, if I can’t access all evidence to this most appalling case of misconduct in all Union Fleet history? How did this criminal Midshipman manage to have his files classified Blue-Blue-Red and sections of it are even sealed Red-Red-Red. I did not even know this level existed?”
“I intended for you to find a few of those commanding officers that tend to command by the ill example set by Admiral Stahl, to set the record straight that this Navy is run orderly and by rules. I never thought you would find Olafson. You could not have picked a more dangerous and problematic case.”
“It was the most read log book in the entire record department. Despite that most of it is classified; how could I not take notice. Besides I take my task very serious. I waited for decades that someone would notice my unwavering devotion to rules and order. You have, but make no mistake, it was your recommendation but it was the military council of the Assembly who appointed me. Now I request you clear my access and once I am done burring this midshipman and unmask this phony propaganda projection called Stahl. I intend to ask why you find it acceptable to prance around in a skirt while on duty. I checked, you never made the formal request to wear a non official issue of garment while on duty. Furthermore you have not logged your office hours. This is a clear violation of regulation 877705-4.”
“Prance around in a skirt?” Was all the old Admiral could say. His plan to clip Stahl’s wing a little was born out of an old grudge McElligott had against the other immortal admiral. It had taken him almost a decade to even find an officer who wasn’t impressed by Stahl. He found Augustus, one of the last graduates of the old Newport Academy while it was still under Dent. He had him investigated and found no links to the worm. Augustus was even disliked by most of his cadets there and failed every specialization except administrative tasks and there in the regulations department he excelled and was described as a rules fanatic who could remember and quote thousands of regulations down to the comma.
When he first met him in his office, he had even the visitor chairs placed exactly as the Navy recommended.
He disregarded the psych report that strongly advised Augustus never to be in any command position. Several evaluators even suggested him to be expelled from the Navy. He was accepted by exactly one point over the refusal threshold.
Now in retrospect, it was the most regrettable decision he made in his life. He of all beings should have known that personal feelings and misgivings had no place in any professional matters.
It all culminated only a few months ago. The Nul of all were now not only allies but Union members. The Karthanian First Engineer had applied for Union membership in the name of all Karthanians. All but one Oghr kingdom was either Union or in the process of becoming Union. The new White Queen of Togar appeared nine months ago before the Assembly. She apologized for any harm and grief her kind caused and asked for Union membership. It all of course happened by the direct actions of Captain Olafson. When he discovered the Y’All foundry in the Leo II galaxy and indisputable proof that it was the Kermac who called them each time, the Assembly called for war. It also became known that the Kermac used the remaining Dai and the Shiss to attack the Union. On these revelations the Assembly overwhelmingly called for war.
It took all of McElligott’s influence to not declare Total war. For it would make Stahl the Commander in Chief over all Union military. Making him obsolete in the process. That Stahl would win the war, there was no doubt, would he use his position to remain the Commander in Chief even after the war was over? While deep down he knew Stahl had no political ambitions at all; he was almost certain the Assembly would offer it to him. Most of the Assembly and almost everyone in the Union worshiped the man.
There was a public poll not so long ago, conducted by a very popular GalNet channel to name things every Union citizen was proud of. Number one was citizenship. Number two the Assembly. Three, the Fleet and trillions of votes elevated the Eternal Warrior on spot four. Even the Devi was much higher up than McElligott who found his name at rank 4755 even far below Rex Schwartz and just one ranking above Ultra Kling Klang. He wasn’t surprised that Mothermachine was among the top ten, but to find himself below the Gray Nul monarch and even the just recently admitted First Engineer was a blow to his ego and made him take steps to realize the plan he never really intended to initiate. His usual meticulous planning was hampered by hurt pride.
The recent events of the awakening of an entity called the Dark One diverted his attention and he missed seeing some serious flaws of his plan. Not that he really understood what it was. The Narth Supreme, Mothermachine, the Coven and other members of the Gray Ghosts spoke of the most significant and potential Universe shattering event. Captain Olafson again was at the very center of it all. Stahl told him that Eric and Erica were now two completely different persons. He spoke about the reincarnation of an entity with the power to change the very fabric of reality.
Narth Supreme said the Decision was made and it was made for the Third Way. Elligott had no idea what this meant but he was no fool. He instinctively knew this was the very reason he and the other immortals were preparing for. The Narth Supreme also said that the age of entities had ended. The Universe was once more in balance and the indigenous life of this universe would eventually evolve into its own new entities and ring in the next universe.
Now robbed of his part in whatever universe shaking event, the purpose of his task as immortal fulfilled without him having much to do with its culmination. He felt cheated and angry.
The final blow to his ego came as he asked the Narth Supreme if he thinks that his task had been completed and the shrouded super intellect simply said, “Yes.”
When he asked if Stahl’s task was also done, the Narth answered. “No, because the Eternal Warrior is the only force that can contain the Dark One. In essence Admiral Stahl is the most powerful being in the Universe. With a word alone he could ask the Dark One to rip galaxies asunder and there is no doubt the Dark One would obey.”
This was to much. He set his plan in motion. He promoted Augustus to Admiral rank and asked the Assembly military council to activate an old almost forgotten council decision to appoint am inspector general in order to inspect the Union fleet personnel and find command officers who broke rules and circumvented regulations. The council approved his request and made Augustus that inspector. He instructed the Admiral to check the log book archive and search for commanders that were selected by Stahl especially.
That the uncorked the bottle and let the proverbial evil genie out of the bottle was of course not part of the plan.
Augustus still glared at him and then said.”I am still waiting for the clearance.”
“You are hereby granted to begin the clearing process that will give you access.”
“The full clearing process for Blue-Blue-Red will take six month. I request emergency clearance outlined in general order 666 and regulation 53840 which grants high clearance in cases of emergency.”
“Then you also know that you must state that emergency to the Assembly security council.”
“I already tried twice. They laughed at me. You or the Commandant of the NAVINT have the same emergency power. I repeat my demand!”
“Admiral Augustus since you can not provide me with a emergency reason why you should be granted access. I again refer you to the standard clearing process.”
Augustus became angrier by the minute. “I need to prepare for the case and the files are sealed.”
“There is no time frame or date you must meet to prosecute Olafson.”
“Yes there is. I already arrested Olafson and must prosecute and commence the hearing within 48 hours.”
“That was a premature decision of yours and does not constitute to a matter of Union security which is the only requirement I need to grant you your request.”
“Admiral McElligott you wanted me to produce results. My Assembly mandate ends in 6 month.”
Augustus terminated the call and asked the system to connect him with the commandant of NAVINT.
“I am sorry Sir, your security clearance is not sufficient to obtain that information. Please contact your superior officer or file for clearance procedures according to...”
He actually hit the terminal to end the call and said to the picture of Captain Olafson that was on top of the file display. “No matter. I have enough information here to have you hanged.”
Admiral Augustus entered the court room after he had the system announce him as special high commissioner to the Assembly Military council and walked behind the center of the raised desk. A huge field screen to the side displayed the images the cam bots recorded and transmitted to the Assembly. One of the bots focused on his ribbon display. It was glaringly empty with the exception of the Plebes Dot.
The bot then turned and focused on Olafson’s display. While only fellow officers recognized some of the decorations. Almost everyone, even civilians recognized the three Medals of Honor. There were maybe a handful of beings watching the proceedings on GalNet that could identify the strange metal object in a leather holster under his left arm. Behind Olafson sat a tall handsome Dai with Commander rank on his collar. Highly decorated as well with two swords added to his dress uniform.
A stunning blonde crossed her legs in the next seat, the platinum symbol of the Hive of Minds chief among her decorations. She too wore a sword across her back.
Almost every Saran recognized Princess Elfirata and were surprised and proud at the same time to see her wear fleet uniform and also being a Lt. Cmdr.
The shrouded Narth also sitting behind Olafson wore rank insignia of a Commander on his shroud and a ribbon display attached on his chest. That the Narth had become an active member of the Union was no longer news, to see one on active Union fleet duty however was.
Many light years distant the immense Assembly became quiet. More and more representatives paid close attention. A stocky massive looking human with intricate tribal tattoos and a very tall black man next to him, appeared normal and tiny compared to the gigantic Saturnian. He was big even compared to his own kind.
A whisper of surprise rose from the watching audience as the camera panned on a terrifying Y’All warrior. The Y’All was talking quietly to a X101 Sentmac.
Next to the sentient android also a was big empty gap. The cam-bot pulled back to focus on an Archa scurrying down the isle holding a tray with ice cream cones.
Even the now quiet Assembly on Pluribus was erupting in laughter as the huge spider being made an apologizing gesture and meekly said. “Sorry for being late, but there was an ice cream vendor outside.” That caused many smiles and humorous comments among those now watching. Everyone knew the Archa’s obsession with ice cream.
The Archa found his place and the camera panned to a stern looking woman with short hair in the Uniform of a fleet medical officer. Almost everyone recognized the All white new Queen of the Togar next to her. To see her wearing Fleet medical uniform created a murmured buzz. It not so long ago, this white pelted Togar Queen requested Union Membership for her kind. The same murmuring was caused, seeing the gray Nul in Navy black. The Nul representative at the Assembly bowed deeply and so did all the Nul in attendance.
Almost everyone recognized the bronze skinned bald headed dwarf like humanoid. It was Sodoby the Golden, retired leader of his people and second in personal wealth only to Rex Schwartz. That he wore Navy black and displayed the rank of Lt became instant news.
As the camera focused on a Holdian sitting on the shoulders of a gigantic dark brown golem, no one could identify, the Holdian members of the attending audience chirped and chattered excited, especially as the furry Lieutenant talked uninhibited to the largest male Togar anyone had ever seen. This cat like being very much looked like an upright walking Terran lion complete with an impressive mane.
No one could explain why a black uniform was sitting all by itself as if worn by an invisible person was apparently in some kind of conversation with a whisp of vaguely human shaped green vapor wearing a floating belt of sorts.
The onlookers were unsure if the female shaped chromed being with long tinsel like hair was perhaps an X101 of a series no one knew or a modified Stellaris. The second row behind this even for the diverse Union unusual collection of beings was no less amazing.
A spotted Attikan in Marine uniform. Two Petharians also Marine officers. A Non Corp leaning forward talking to the Nul. There were two Mini Terrans floating on a hover disc above the chair. A humanoid being without a head. A huge maggot like creature riding on it between the shoulders. Disturbingly the thing had eyes where the nipples of a human would be. A young girl with huge eyes and a petite red head seemed almost out of place in this collection of strange beings.
Admiral Augustus reached his seat without anyone paying any attention to him.
He banged his gavel while he was still standing. “This hearing is now in session. I will not tolerate this event to become a circus and I fail to see the reason why this assortment of creatures is sitting behind the accused. I requested the crew of the Tigershark to be in attendance and all I see is freaks ... I mean beings in uniform.”
The Marine commander responsible for the seating arrangement said. “Admiral Sir, this is the crew of the USS Tigershark.”
A new voice powerful and full of authority thundered with little veil3d anger from the entrance door. “Am I to understand you disapprove of certain beings wearing uniform?”
Everybody turned. Admiral Stahl and a silver haired woman wearing a black cat suit with only a small pin in the shape of a brain on her collar, had entered the room. He wore a black uniform with out any decorations except five golden stars on each side of his collar and Admiral’s Gold on his sleeves.
Augustus still stood and pointed his gavel at the man. “I will hold you in contempt, Mister. You can’t simply come in here and interrupt important meetings. Who are you anyway?”
“I am Admiral Richard Stahl. It was you who summoned me here. I was busy fighting a war so I hope you excuse me for being a few minutes late.”
“You can’t be. According to my information the Officer acting under that propaganda name received my summons over 4000 light years away. Not even the fastest ship could make it. Impersonating a fleet officer is bad enough, wearing some sort of costume that is not even close to any fleet regulation uniform is an insult. Marines arrest this man and remove him from the room, so we may finally get started.”
McElligott who was present wished for a hole he could hide in.
Even Stahl was obviously surprised by that response. Not a single marine moved even an inch.
Historians commonly agree that this was the moment you could hear a pin drop at the Assembly. From Pluribus the Speaker of the Assembly spoke into the silence. “Admiral Augustus this is Admiral Stahl. There is no propaganda, no officer acting.”
Augustus was not as self assure anymore. “How can he be? He is supposedly 4000 light years away?”
Completely ignoring Augustus, Stahl looked directly at McElligott. “You picked this idiot to prosecute me? To think I respected you once seems foolish now.”
“I am still in charge by Assembly mandate. I demand you address me and provide proof that you are indeed Admiral Stahl.”
Stahl raised his voice. “System identify and verify my identity.”
“Implant and DNA scan complete. Individual identifies as Stahl, Richard. Service number 02-S-01. Birthday October 18th, 2054. Rank Admiral, curr...”
Augustus interrupted the machine. “I accept this. It does not explain how you can be here, unless there are more than one of you. It also does not explain why you did not adhere to regulation 9874-43 where it clearly states that officers on duty must wear fleet approved attire. Neither your boots nor your sun glasses are, but this is the least of your infractions. I will deal with you later and deflate that ridiculous notion, you being some sort of hero. You are not above rules and regulations. So find a seat and witness what happens to a vile impostor and reflect on your own failings.”
“That’s why I came. I would not want to miss this for the world. The only thing I regret that I won’t have a chance dealing with you personally, but I will take satisfaction to see it.”
Stahl grinned towards McElligott. “But there is someone else I will express my deepest gratitude before this is over, personally and the old fashioned way.”
The audience started to giggle, McElligott begun to contemplate if suicide was perhaps not such a bad alternative, while Augustus needed several gavel bangs to silence the room.
He then held a PDD and pointed with it towards Olafson. “In my hand I hold the logbook of the USS Tigershark and a copy of this man’s service record. I have never read a bigger collection of lies and contradictions. This man has never graduated the academy. He sits there displaying more citations than 100 officers could accumulate in five lifetimes. For some unexplainable reason he was made acting captain of a ship that did not even have a hull number. It can only be explained that he was perhaps tested or evaluated. Instead of returning to be a midshipman he falsified his personal records and simply signed as Captain Erica Olafson. It appears he confused the system with this rather crude change of his name. I might add that there are also no records of an Erica Olafson ever to graduate from the Academy. No such person has ever served as an XO or went to command school. No Eric or Erica Olafson was ever presented at a fleet commission hearing to be tested and grilled by real captains. While I was denied to access the classified section of this log book, most likely to protect the names of officers in the personnel department for overlooking this grave error. I can give you plenty of examples of the criminal activity of this man. He managed to remain at this command for nearly thirty years. Let me remind you that you can’t be an acting captain for even a year. All an acting captain can do is steer the ship to the next fleet base and be relieved of command, face a hearing why he became acting captain in the first place and hope his conduct was good enough that he might get invited to command school.”
He stared at Olafson.”Answer me with the truth if you have even one shred of dignity left. Did you ever go to command school?”
“Have you ever been an ensign?”
“What was your rank before you decided to be an acting Captain?”
Augustus glared with a triumphant expression into the cam-bot optics. “He is caught. Exposed! He can’t even try to spin some lies! All this is grounds enough for a court martial with a life sentence to the harshest stockade we have, but this despicable individual killed many times and even hanged a real officer. He ordered the destruction of a Barracuda destroyer and authorized the use of a P Bomb. All this he did while operating the ship in Free Space. Spatial navigation data confirms he violated a treaty and could have caused war! He thus committed acts of piracy and murder and it appears he was in direct contact with the wanted pirate Black Velvet. There are hundreds of log book recordings mentioning her name.” He paused for effect. “I hereby demand that the Assembly orders the declassification of both documents and further request that there to be no court martial, where the Navy could try to sweep this under the carpet, but an assembly decision to put him to death. As this is to be the only justifiable outcome of this hearing.”