CHEVALIER DE LA

CROIX NOIR

                                                     By 

                                                  Arthur 

 
CHAPTER 3


BY ARTHUR




CONTACT AUTHOR:

Artcart65@gmail.com



The arrival of our small fleet to the borders of our home, met with the
usual call from Gareth, once he had checked over the freighter he allowed
us in but still the pair of Plasma Cannon followed our every move, beside
me I heard a gasp of surprise from the new addition to the crew, the small
boy was still standing back as though trying to stay out of the way, I had
to do something about his slave chip although I also knew they were usually
impossible to remove without serious damage to the carrier.

When the cavernous doors to the asteroid opened to admit us and the
freighter was anchored close to the open doors, I let Gareth pull us in on
his much more powerful tractor beam, the larger ship was positioned nicely
in the centre of the huge hanger doors, it was time to check the hold and
see what we had caught ourselves, a freighter of this size would not only
carry the Corporations money but would also have cargo.

With our own ships docked and shut down and the bay doors tightly sealed
against the sides of the large loading hatches of the freighter, we all
left to inspect the freighters hold, Sarraton and the little boy were close
on my heels as though they did not want to be left alone, once my Brothers
and the other boys joined me at the hatch leading into the hold, I reached
out for the lever to release the hatch, a loud hiss and a small squeak and
the hatch was open.

The hold was crammed with general cargo of all sorts but the thing we were
after was easily seen at the rear of the large hold, it was a solid metal
wall with a large round door, in the centre was a wheel to open the door
with, unfortunately it also had a key pad and scanner, there was only one
thing for it.

"Gareth, can you open this strong room door?"

"Wait commander, let me contact the ships control computer."

As we waited for Gareth to do his magic, I heard one of the doors open into
the hanger from inside the asteroid, it must be Ferris as he was the only
one left behind, his call from outside soon told me I was correct, with a
loud yell I called him inside to see the results of our little foray, he
arrived just as Gareth came back.

"Commander, the computer on this old freighter is far out of date; I have
reconfigured the touch pad to your finger print, if you would punch in
773564 the door will open."

I was just about to reach for the touch pad when I heard a gasp from behind
me, turning I saw Ferris standing with a hand over his mouth as though to
try to stop from screaming, going into immediate readiness I looked around
the hold for danger, it was then I saw him staring at the little slave boy,
his whole body was shaking and tears were falling from his wide open and
staring eyes, from his lips came a whisper.

"Ellis, wha...what have they done to you, it's me, what's wrong with you?"

The young boy just stood and looked at Ferris as though he was a stranger,
Ferris words seemed to be foreign to him, I decided to intervene.

"Who is this Ferris, you obviously know him from somewhere?"

"He's my little Brother; I haven't seen him for five years ever since they
sent me to Uncle Macklin's to live, what's wrong with him, why won't he
talk to me?"

"Someone implanted a slave chip in his head, don't worry, I'm going to see
if Gareth can get rid of it for him then he will be his old self, how did
you all get separated from each other?"

Ferris now looked very embarrassed and hesitant as he tried to give me a
small smile, taking a deep breath he began his story.

"I'm, no, we are bastards, our Mother was the mistress of Simon Chase, when
he was found out by his wife all hell broke loose, to keep it all from the
press and because Ellis and I still had Chase blood they sent Mother
somewhere and as Ellis was so young he went with her, I was sent to Uncle
Macklin's, they said Mother and Ellis were going to another planet they
owned and would have a good life there but they couldn't stay close to the
home planet as it would cause to many problems, I think they only wanted to
keep me because I have such a high IQ, do you really think Gareth can help
him come back, those slave chips are meant to be dangerous to remove?"

"I'm sure Gareth can do it, now why don't you take your Brother to your
room and get him settled while we unload this ship."

I watched as the little slave boy dutifully followed Ferris out of the
hanger, the rest of us got out the antigrav units and began to empty the
hold while I set about opening the thick steel door, the solid titanium
safe was full to almost overflowing with heavy boxes full of gold credits,
the rest of the cargo was very mixed, some of it heavy machinery and some
of it packaged food stuffs as well as wines and other goodies the Managers
like to live with.

It took us four hours to clear the hold before we started on the heavy
boxes of credits, this took another hour to clear, it was time to send a
message to Santos that we had a ship for him, he could also look over some
of the machinery, he may be able to make use of it, it would all go to pad
our credit account with him.

Once everything was packed and stacked and the many boxes of gold credits
were put down into the fourth level where they should be safe, we went to
the common room, Ferris was back at his console but you could easily see
his heart was just not in it, it was time to ask Gareth for help.

"Gareth, did you hear what Ferris had to say?"

"Yes Commander, I hear and record everything that is said in the base."

"Is there anything you can do for his Brother?"

"It is a possibility Commander; I will have to have the boy scanned and
then offer a recommendation."

"Where can I send the boy, do you have the facilities to remove the slave
chip?"

"You may have the boy sent down to the seventh level, there is a full
operating theatre there, the med droids can perform keyhole and micro
surgery."

"Good, I'll get Ferris to take him down, after the scan can you inform me
first before surgery?"

"As you wish Commander."

As the last of the boxes of gold credits were sent down in the freight
elevator, I turned to Sarraton.

"So, what do you think of our little hideaway, still want to join us?"

"Yes Sir, even more now I have seen what you have."

"There's no Sir here Sarraton, just call me Sargasso, you will have to be
upgraded the same as the others, we use nanite technology to improve your
abilities, are you game for that, it will take about six months so you
won't be with us for a while."

"I'm ready when you are Sargasso."

"Good boy, Ganius, do you want to take our newest recruit and set him up
for the nanite transfer, I have to make a call to Santos and get this
freighter off our hands before someone see's it out there."

Ganius led Sarraton away for his long sleep as I went to the large central
console, Ferris was still all mixed up and just sitting with a vacant look
in his tear streaked eyes.

"Go on Ferris, get your little Brother and take him down to the seventh
level, Gareth is waiting for him, you can stay there with him if you like."

Ferris gave a half hearted smile and left the common room running, I sat
down at the console and switched over to sub space communications, these
were as secure as you can get and are used by us for all galactic
communications, only those we trusted were allowed to have our call signs
and one of those was now living with us, the only other one I trusted as
Santos.

I set about sending the burst message to him, within ten minutes I had an
answer, he was already on the way with a crew to take the freighter back to
the rim for breakdown and he was also interested in most of the machinery I
had listed for him, it was time to take a break, Gareth's Plasma Cannons
would protect the freighter while it was outside the doors.

While our dock was huge it could not hold something as big as a freighter,
this one was about medium size, that is to say, about 1 kilometre long, ½
a kilometre high and the same wide, at the rear were the drives and at the
front was a small control module, the rest was a big elongated box for the
cargo holds.

Except for Ferris, Sarraton and the little boy, all of us gathered in the
common room dining area, everyone showed the results of the fast and
furious unloading, had we not had the added advantage of our nanites, we
would still have been unloading this time tomorrow, we all sat to eat a
huge meal and get some rest, with luck Santos would be with us in less than
a day, I know he would try to make the biggest jumps he could to get here,
with his head on the block and wanted by every Navy man alive, he did not
want to be caught napping.

It seemed I had just dropped off to sleep when Gareth called me awake once
again, it had been a long time since I had had a good night's sleep, the
persistent buzzing of the alarm brought me back in a fog.

"Yes Gareth?"

"I need you to come to the seventh level Commander; we have a problem with
the little boy."

"What is it?"

"I would prefer you were here Commander."

"Ok, I'm on my way, where is Ferris?"

"He is still here, he won't leave until his Brother is free but that could
be very difficult."

"Thank you Gareth."

The base was very quiet as I went to the large freight elevator and punched
in the seventh level, the trip down was much faster than I thought it would
be, I would have to find out just how many levels there were in the whole
base.

After retracing my steps a number of times, I eventually found the Med Bay
where little Ellis was lying on a table, his hands were being held by soft
restraints and a thin clear helmet was on his head, he looked as though he
was asleep, around him were five Med droids and a lot of medical machines
were waiting close by, as I walked in Ferris ran through the door from
further down the corridor.

"Ok Gareth, what's going on?"

"I have done a full scan of the boy and, if I remove the chip he will be
nothing more than a vegetable, the removal of the chip would be easy but
someone has also done a lobotomy on the boy, without the chip he would be
nothing more than a boy without a mind of his own."

"A lobotomy, that's been illegal since the 20th century, four hundred years
ago, how could anyone do that to a boy?"

"I do not know Commander but that is what has been done to him."

Ferris was looking at me with a strange look that said he did not
understand what was going on.

"Ferris, a lobotomy is where they virtually kill the frontal lobes, it
means your Brother will never have any memories to let him think for
himself, it is almost as bad as killing him."

As I watched the horror move over the face of Ferris I knew I had to try to
find some hope for him, whomever had done this to an innocent boy was going
to pay for it somehow.

"Gareth, is there nothing you can do for him?"

"Not in the normal sense, Commander, there is however one thing we could do
but it will be very dangerous, I have a record of the procedure but it has
never been done on a live subject."

The loud wailing of Ferris as he heard what had happened to his little
brother nearly filled the large operating room, the sound of desperation in
his cries hit a nerve that I thought I had long ago lost.

"What is it Gareth?"

"The boys mind is gone, with this procedure I can replace his mind with a
Positronic brain, I would need every memory of the boy that Ferris can
think of, to do this he would have to be sedated and left here for at least
two full days so I can gather everything about the boy, once that is done I
can use micro surgery to build and grow a Positronic brain for him and
replace all of his Brothers memories into that one, it would mean the boy
would have to be kept here for at least two months while the new brain was
developed."

"Ferris."

The boy looked up at me, his face marked by two runnels where his tears had
fallen like a river.

"What do you think, do you want to take a chance that Gareth can give him a
new brain although if will be a Positronic and not entirely human?"

Ferris could only nod his head, it was obvious he would do anything, no
matter how dangerous for his little Brother.

"There you are Gareth, when do you want to start?"

"It's best we start right away Commander, I will have a Droid bring in
another bed and get Ferris ready for the memory download, Ferris, you must
try to think of everything you have ever seen or heard or done with your
little Brother, it's very important that he has as much memory from you as
he can, it will give him a good start to continue to add his own after the
operation, are you ready Ferris?"

"Yes Gareth, let's get started."

I left the operating room hoping against hope that all will go well for
Ferris and his little Brother, Ferris was too valuable to us for him to go
to pieces if it failed, as I moved back through the base to my own
quarters, the silence seemed to be an omen, I swore that somehow I would
find the people responsible for the boys plight, highest on the list of
course were the Chase family, if it was them then they had a bad time
coming their way.

The next morning when everyone was at the breakfast table, I related what
had happened in the Med Room, surprisingly, Kratos seemed more affected
than any of the others, for the first time in the many years I had known
him, he had small tears running down his rough bearded cheeks, with a gulp
to swallow the same tears, Kratos said.

"I want the fuckers, find out who did that to a little boy and they are
mine, no one else touches them."

It was a statement of fact and the look on his worn face told everyone else
to stay clear, he was not the sort of man you crossed or got in the way of
when he had his mind made up, I had never thought of him as being the
Fatherly type but Ellis plight had somehow got to him, I felt a stab of
pity for those who did that to the little boy.

Later in the day I was called by Gareth to the control room.

"What is it Gareth?"

"Commander, I have a foreign ship showing at 50,000 kilometres, it is still
in stealth mode and is attempting to enter our space, do you wish to have
it destroyed?"

"No, I think that will be Santos, I'm expecting him, he is a friend,
perhaps you should contact him and tell him to register with you, if all
goes well in the future he will be coming here a lot more often."

"Very good Commander, please wait while I make contact."

A minute later and Gareth came back to me.

"It is Santos Commander, I have registered him in my system, he is
approaching now and has twenty men with him, where do you wish him to be
held for your inspection?"

"Is there space to get him past the freighter and into the dock?"

"Yes Commander, I can shift the freighter enough to allow him entry."

"Then do so and thank you Gareth."

"No thanks are required Commander."

San Rio came with me to the dock, we arrived just as Santos ship was being
tractored into the dock by Gareth, as his ship was settled onto a waiting
cradle, I could hear the plasma Cannons being realigned to face outward
once again, I wondered what Santos would make of them tracking him all the
way to the dock, I did not have long to wait for the answer.

As Santos walked out of his air lock, he took one look at me and, with a
grim look on his face said.

"Where, how and what the fuck have you got here, do you have any idea what
it's like being tractored in while looking down the twin barrels of illegal
Cannons?"

"And hello to you too, don't worry that was just Gareth being careful."

"Being careful and going for overkill is two different things in my book,
now how the fuck did you find this place?"

"It's been my home for the last seven years, bought it from an old guy who
was building it, I'll tell you more later, now why all the men?"

"What do you mean, all the men?"

"It doesn't take twenty men to fly that old freighter."

"True, but you said you had cargo to look over, besides I want to stay for
a few days and have a chat, my guys will load up and fly that old shit box
back to the rim but we have to add a little protection for it so I have
some weapons in my hold for them to fit."

"Ok, then let's get down to business, come with me to the common room and
we can haggle there."

After Santos had given his orders to his men we walked off to the common
room, most of the guys were there sitting around and watching the goings on
in the hold via the security cameras, Ganius was at his console checking
over some of the finds Ferris had made.

Santos looked around the small crowd, he had not known we had that many in
our little gang.

"So what are you going to give us for the ship and cargo?"

"Depends on how much you want?"

"Come on Santos, stop the sales pitch, we both know what the freighter is
worth and the cargo is fresh from the planet."

"That doesn't tell me what you want."

I looked at him with a faint smile on my lips; it was time to get things
started.

"I want ten small ships for my boys."

I thought he would balk at that but he just sat and looked far away, his
eyes were slightly glazed as he thought about what I had said, coming out
of his trance, he looked at me.

"You can't expect me to part with ten small ships for one old freighter and
few nick nacks, do you?"

"No, I don't but if you tell me what we can get for the ship and cargo then
I know what to do about the others."

"Ok, I bought a few old needle fighters from the Galactic Navy when they
were cleaning house, of course I used an intermediary, now I have enough of
them for what you want but I'm not going to give them away for nothing just
because I have had them a while."

"What sort of condition are they in, I don't want any of my boys put in
danger because they are death traps."

Needle fighters were small fast ships of about fifteen metres long; our
ships were over seventy metres with their extra drives.

"I'll tell you what I will do for you and your boys, only because you are
finally going after those greedy fuckers, I'll take the freighter and all
of the cargo you don't want, in exchange I will give you four fighters in
an as is configuration if you can find the extra money I will sell the
other six to you as is for three million credits each."

"So four for exchange and eighteen million for the other six, ok now what
have they got for power and defence?"

"As is means they have their usual drives, a single T645 pulse drive, all
arms have been taken off them, anything else will cost you extra."

"T645 drives, fuck me Santos, I can run faster than those pieces of shit,
ok tell me you old crook, how much to bring them up to something the boys
are not going to get killed in?"

As I sat waiting for Santos to think things over, Brutaria came up and told
me he was taking the boys for more training, Ganius turned and said he
might have something interesting for me after I was finished, I noticed
Santos look at my Brother Knights and smile.

"Ok Sargasso how about I put in some new type of drives, they've been
tested but are really new, the Navy has not even heard of them yet but,
they are expensive, very expensive, for weapons I can put in a couple of
lasers for you."

"So tell me, how much?"

"The drives will cost you half a mill each plus fitting, the lasers are
only old 75's so say ten grand each."

Before I could reply, Gareth interrupted, Santos looked alarmed at first as
the strange voice came into the room.

"Excuse me Commander, perhaps I can help with the weapons array for the
boys."

"What do you have in mind Gareth?"

"In my armoury I have a number of Duel Barrel Starlight Laser pods; they
would fit very nicely onto a needle fighter with a little alteration."

"Starlight Lasers, I have never heard of them Gareth, what are they?"

"They were created and tested by the Professor for just such an occasion,
there are a few other things there if you need to upgrade your own ships,
they are an Ion Laser, they have a far greater range than a normal Laser
and, with its guidance system they will be very accurate as well."

"What can they do Gareth?"

"If you can imagine a small version of a Plasma Cannon and the damage they
can do, that is a Starlight Laser."

"Good enough, ok Santos, what do you think?"

"Will they fit on a small Needle Fighter; they sound as though they will
need a lot of power and space for them to be mounted?"

"No , they are the same size as a standard Laser, their power consumption
is a little higher but an upgrade of a ships power system with a good drive
on it will compensate."

"Ok Santos, what about these new drives, will they be safe for the boys and
not blow them to kingdom come when they need them?"

"I got them from a source outside our system, don't ask because I'm not
going to tell you, they operate also on an Ion principle, high power output
for a small input, funny I never thought the Ion system would ever be used
for weapons as well, I'm really interested to see these new Lasers."

"Can you fit a stealth system to the fighters?"

"Do you really have that much money, they are going to go at another half
mill each for all of them, so far you're looking at a bill of twenty eight
million credits, that's not chicken feed my old friend, it's also the
lowest price I can give you."

"How long to get them ready if you have every man working on them?"

Santos thought for a moment.

"If I drop everything and give them my undivided attention, two months,
anything else I can charge you for?"

I turned back to the room and saw San Rio coming in from somewhere.

"Brother San, could you go to level four and get twenty eight million out
to Santos ship, he might as well start right away."

I smiled as I watched the startled look on Santos face.

"Do I have to ask where you got that sort of money from?"

"Out of your freighter."

"The freighter?"

"Yep, was one of Sega Corps money ships, we got there first, so, ten Needle
Fighters fully upgraded, Gareth!"

"Yes Commander?"

"Can you get the Droids to load ten pairs of Laser Pods on Santos ship?"

"Yes Commander."

"There you go Santos, I know you will do good work for me but remember
those Fighters are for my boys, I want them as safe as you can make them."

"Do you doubt me Sargasso?"

"No, I'm just making it clear that those boys mean a lot to not only me but
my three Brother Knights as well."

"Don't worry; they will be buzzing around the galaxy in two months like a
lot of underage cowboys in no time, I only hope you can keep up with them."

I got out a bottle of Kresta Rum and poured two glasses, it was Santos
favourite tipple, he smiled as I handed him the half full glass.

"Here's to chaos in the galaxy."

Santos lifted his glass and settled back for a little session, he did not
leave the Rim all that often so this was like a little break away for him,
I also knew I was in for a sore head in the morning as the first bottle
would not last long while he had an empty glass.

As predicted, the next morning my head was about ten thousand kilometres
away when I rose from my bed, Panther tried to snuggle a little closer, I
don't know if anything happened the previous night, but he did mumble
something about wanting to finish what was started, unfortunately my head
did not want to think about things as I stumbled to the shower.

Back in the common room and two large cups of Banta coffee later, Santos
walked in as though he had not had a drink in years, how he did it was
beyond me, his capacity for Kresta Rum was legendary.

Finally with breakfast out of the way and all of my boys off for more
training, Santos shook hands and departed to the dock for takeoff and home,
it was time to talk to Ganius about what he had found for our next foray
into enemy territory.

Over the next ten days, Ganius along with the now returned but worried
Ferris, worked on Corporation data to find our next target, the battle had
just begun and there was plenty of profit and revenge to be had yet.

I was looking over the results of a search of the Chase Data base that
Ferris had tapped into with little problem, when he turned to me and said.

"Sargasso, you know we can really hurt them without having to actually
attack each planet."

"How so Ferris?"

"Well have you forgotten that I am or was once a Chase, when Uncle Macklin
adopted me I became legally a member of the family and entitled to all the
little perks of that position?"

"Yes, so?"

"Well l have a little bit of sway with the board of directors, not as much
as they think but I also have a little surprise for them when I turn
fifteen, which is the age they agreed that their boys should be considered
adults in their Corporate world."

"Ok, so what does that all mean?"

"Let me start at the beginning, when they took me away from my mum, I was
very angry, the more I found out about it the more angry I got, now the one
person you don't want to piss off is a ten year old with an IQ of 197, I
set about trying to get some back on them for taking my mum away from me,
first I waited until Uncle Macklin was not in his study, I then planted a
SIM chip in his computer, for the last four years I have been recording
every transaction he has had on the home console."

"And how does this help us?"

"Wait, there's a lot more, when I had this flow of personal information
coming directly to me I began to form a plan to show them all up, the
average IQ of the 35 member board of directors is 147, now what I started
to do is introduce ghost workers to their system, not just on one planet
but spread out so they went unnoticed, Chase Corp paid them like any other
sub contractor, their salaries I then converted into Chase Corporation
Shares, it's quite a common thing for small free companies to do it so it
was not seen.

Now, when and if Uncle Macklin, Aunt Tessa and my two cousins die, I will
get all their shares as well and even though I am adopted, I still have the
right to claim Chase blood lines, so each year I was entitled to bonus
shares just like any other Chase family member, If I was the only surviving
member of Uncle Macklin's family I would get all of theirs as well.

Now if you add them to my own and those of my ghost workers, well I would
have about 56% of the chase Corporation in my hands, they would legally be
powerless although if I did that they would probably have me killed in
minutes, none of them would want to lose that much power."

"In other words Ferris, what you are saying is you could legally take over
Chase Corporation when you have all your Uncles family shares, if you could
stay alive to use them?"

"Yes, that's right, but of course they would all have to be dead for me to
collect them and then I would have to show up after all these months to
claim it all, not easy with that family."

Of course Ferris had not been told about what we had all done to his
adopted family, I was not sure if Macklin was even still alive or if his
security had made it in time to get him some medical help, I decided to
investigate before this went any further.

"Well Ferris I have a little bit of news for you, when I took you I had a
job to do so most of your Uncles family is no longer with us and he is
probably a vegetable, I did not leave much of him alive, it was part of the
job to record it all and send a copy to their headquarters as a warning."

"Really, that sounds like my Fathers work, Simon would do that sort of
thing to get full control of the Corporation, do you have the disc, I would
like to see it?"

"I do have a copy but it's pretty gruesome, I was told to make it that
way."

"Good, I want to see it, those bastards used to make my life hell."

"Ok, but I'm telling you it is not pretty."

"Good, let me see it."

I went to his console and pulled up my hidden file of the killing, Ferris
sat and watched it from beginning to end without a word or sound, when it
was finished he turned to me with a look resembling satisfaction on his
young face.

"Well it was messy but I'm glad, they deserved all you gave them, Aunt
Tessa never spoke to me in all five of the years I was there, she just
totally ignored me from the first, I think she only signed the adoption
papers because Uncle Macklin insisted, I think he did it only to use my
higher IQ and to let Simon see me all the time as a reminder of his
mistake, the two cousins made my life hell, she would always be sarcastic
and make trouble for me so I was always getting in trouble with Uncle
Macklin, of course she could do nothing wrong in his eyes and her Brother
would use me in bed at night if his girl friend was having that time of the
month, I hated those bastards, I'm glad they got what was coming to them,
what about Uncle Macklin then?"

"I don't know but as you saw, there was not much he will ever be able to
do."

"Wait; let me check the news feeds for that date, perhaps there is
something about it so we will know."

Ferris went back nine months and began to scroll through old news reports,
not long into the search he came across a large news item, it had covered
all the news media outlets for days, the gist of it all was that Macklin's
home had been invaded by persons unknown, the whole family had been
gruesomely murdered and the youngest had been kidnapped and taken away as
there had been no sign of him, if he was not found or his remains were not
discovered by the time he would have been sixteen, then all his holdings
would revert back to the hands of Simon Chase, it was then a long list of
his holdings if he ever returned, Ferris would have held 31% of Chase
Corporation, the balance was held by the 35 member board of directors and a
few smaller share holders outside the Corporation Board, at this time Simon
was the largest share holder and ran the Corporation.

Ferris looked up at me.

"How long have I been here with you?"

I had to think back to when I had gone in to the Chase property and taken
Ferris out of there, all Galactic dating was taken from the old Terran
Calendar for trade, births, deaths and contract events even though some
planets had longer or shorter days than Terra, it was seen as the galactic
standard.

"Well to the best of my memory you have been with us now for about nine
months, why?"

"Well that makes me fifteen years and three months old, to the Chase
Corporation I am now an adult and have full right to those shares and
holdings as the last surviving member of Macklin's family, but how do I get
them without them killing me first."

Ganius spoke up at this point.

"That's easy, we make your return a major media event, let everyone in the
Galaxy know you have been found adrift in space after a really bad time
with those arse hole kidnappers where you finally escaped when they let
their guard down, you stole a small ship and tried to get back home, we
will set it up that a Media scout ship accidently finds you floating in
space with an emergency beacon going, we will have to make you look like a
worn out escapee but I'm sure we can do something along that line, you will
have to have a few bruises though, but I will go as easy as I can on you
for that.

"Ok, so you get me `rescued' but that won't stop them, especially Simon,
from trying to kill me as soon as they can."

"True but they don't know about your blades and the other things we have
taught you, do they?"

"No that's true."

I spoke up as the two were talking.

"And they don't know about your ghost workers either, do they, if that's
the case then Simon should still think he has the majority share holding,
if you wait until the next general meeting, you can then use your share
holdings to take over the board, by the time they realise you have control
it will be too late, and, you will also have your own personal body
guards."

"What Body Guards?"

"Why, Ganius and Spider of course, after you get found, you will ask for
some protection, when they try to pick them for you, you just say you want
to find your own and then Ganius and Spider will appear."

"You do realise that the other Corporations will join in and try to get me
don't you?"

"Why would they do that, the confusion of your return and take over will
only help them in the long run?"

"You don't really know do you, how the Corporations work? Sargasso, you are
a very good assassin but a Corporate man you are not, the 35 member board
of directors for Chase Corporation are the same members for all the other
Corporation Boards, those same members rule every Corporation as well as
the Navy and Military wings, they also control the Planetary Union, just
look who the members of the P.U. are."

"So you are telling me that all this bull shit about inter corporate
fighting is all a sham for the general populace?"

"Yes, well mostly, some of the fighting is real but it is really them
jockeying for a higher position within the Corporations?"

"It looks as though we have bitten off more than we can chew, they will
have every planet in the galaxy after us, it will make our job almost
impossible."

"Not at all, all you have to do is go before the P.U. and ask for
recognition as a free and separate entity."

"But how will that help?"

"It will mean that if any Corporation tries to take you over by attacking
you, you can defend yourself anyway you see fit, by the laws of the
P.U. you will have that right and even if they don't like it, they will
have to follow their own rules, you know as well as everyone else, the
P.U. is as effective and as lazy and corrupt as that ancient system Terra
used to have that they called The United Nations, it's all the same thing,
it's just for show so the powerful can get their own way."

"Alright, so if we do this then how do we go about it?"

"Let me think for a minute."

Ferris sat back in his large chair, he was already starting to look like a
Corporate man, with is high IQ, I was glad he was on our side.

"I've got it, we call ourselves, `The Federation of Free Traders' the
F.F.T, we need someone who is not associated with us to act as our leader
or representative, we then approach the P.U. and make our application for
recognition, once that is given we are free to do what we want under the
guise of being free traders."

"Ok, sounds good but we will need more than just us, wait a minute, if I go
and talk to Santos, I'm sure he would be in with us, they don't have to
know who he is but his Rim people could stand as another branch of our
Federation."

"Good idea Sargasso, now you're thinking like a corporate man."

Ferris gave a little giggle as he smiled at me, Ganius placed one of his
long arms around him and hugged tightly, Ferris dropped his head on the
man's shoulder and gave him a very sexy smile, I could see where that was
going and told them I had things to do.

I called Tiger, Panther and Snake to come with me, I was taking them on a
flight to the Rim to see Santos, there was no time like the present to get
things moving, Ferris really did use all that IQ he had to spare, our
future was going to be every interesting if all went well.

As we came to the end of our jump to the Rim and appeared above the moon
that Santos called home, I was very thankful for being in stealth mode,
there, right in front of me and no less than two kilometres away were two
large cruisers looking right down my throat, they were on orbital station
above Santos moon base, after taking a big gulp, I slipped the ship away
from them and went to sub space communications and called Santos, when he
replied I asked him.

"Do you know you have two Naval Cruisers sitting above your base?"

"Yes, so what?"

"Are you ok, have they attacked you?"

"Of course they haven't dumb ass, they belong to me, those are the ones you
left lying around the galaxy after your little beat up."

"What are you talking about, how did you find them, I never told you where
they were."

"Yes you did."

"No I didn't."

"Yes you did, just after the tenth rum I asked you where they were and you
told me so I jumped over here on the way home and saw them sitting there,
they had beacons on them so they were easy to find."

"Then where is the third one?"

"Don't know, they must have come and got it and left these two to be picked
up later, I got there first."

"Well I think they are ours, we shot them up so they belong to us."

"Not on your Nelly, finder's keepers."

"No way, I'm coming down there and we can talk this over, I have something
important to tell you."

"Ok but you're not getting my cruisers."

"We'll see about that."

"Oh yes we will."

I could almost hear the chuckle in Santos voice as I switched off and
brought the ship out of stealth and turned back to the moon to land, we had
a lot to talk over.

Santos had three moons that held his people, his was the main workshop for
all their ship work, one was food supply and the other was mainly small
farms and mining, when I entered his modest home/office, he looked at me
like a cat with a bowl of cream.

"Nice to see you but the ships are mine, its legitimate salvage."

"Tis not, those are ours by conquest."

"Are not, you never put a claim on them, they're mine all free and clear."

"Are not, they are rightfully ours, we shot them down so they are the
spoils of war."

"What war, you were bloody pirates and assassins, that's not a war, that's
piracy."

"Ok, ok, let's go halves then, you get one and I get one, if we go that way
I will ask Gareth if he has anything really good to arm them with."

"If he has more of those Starlight Lasers or something similar I could
almost agree with you, ok so why are you really here?"

I went into the discussion with Ferris and told Santos what we thought we
could do and if he would like to join us, it would give us a very distinct
advantage over the Corporate Giants, we were both hidden away where they
couldn't find us and we would also be legitimate in their eyes and by their
own rules, well until they changed the rules like they usually did.

After a few hours of discussion it came down to whom would be our
representative, we had to have someone who was not being hunted like we
were, eventually we came up with the one name no one would look at as a
threat to the corporate structure, Kratos.

Next on our list were the cruisers, Santos could only get one at a time in
his workshops once my ten Needle Fighters were finished and out of the way
and we could not leave them sitting out in the open for any Naval ship to
see them, for now they were ok but once we got recognised by the P.U. there
would be a greater chance, once they were back in service we could change
them enough to belong to the new Federation.

Santos then took us to see how the rebuild on the fighters was getting
along, as my three looked at the gleaming hulls of the little fighters, I
asked Santos.

"If we go ahead with this Federation thing, how many of those fighters do
you have for rebuild, we will probably need more of them if this goes
through."

"I've got another ten in storage and then there are those up in the
cruisers, they usually carry forty or so in their hangers but you idiots
probably damaged a few with your blazing away with your fucking cannons."

"Ok so we could have quite the little army to protect the Federation if we
got them all in working order and did the needed rebuilds?"

"Yep and those fighters on the Cruisers still have the old T645 drives,
looks as though they have never had upgrades, with the Corporations all
happy and peaceful, perhaps they never thought they would need any, if we
put my new drives in all of them, we could really do some damage to their
Galactic Navy and if your Gareth has some bigger toys to arm the Cruisers
with then we could have a real old fashioned field day if it came to a drag
down, drag out fight with their Cruisers."

"Well that only leaves finding crews for them and then getting them
trained,"

"No problem there, a lot of my old crews from the Navy came with me when
they heard about the BS that went on, I've got some good hands here who can
not only fly but train others as well, you would be surprised how many
people I have on these three moons."

"Did you take notice of the computer system on the Cruisers?"

"Of course, they are the same old 20 terabyte systems, military only use."

"Leave it with me, I will talk to Gareth and see what he can come up with,
we might be able to improve on those old systems, ok so we have everything
sorted, I'll get back and get it in motion, call me when the boys ships are
ready and I'll have some info for you about the rest."

"Are you going to stay for a couple of rums before heading back?"

"No fucking way, I'm not signing over my home while you get me drunk."

Santos laughed loudly as we walked towards my ship, the three boys
following close behind but their eyes were on the ten sparkling Needle
Fighters under rebuild, they knew that one of them would belong to each of
them when done.

The trip back to my asteroid gave me time to think of what would be needed
in the future, first I had to talk to Gareth about what could be done with
the fighters and to Kratos about being an envoy for the new Federation, it
was going to be an interesting time for all of us.

After landing back at the base, the three boys ran off to tell their new
friends about the fighters and what they had seen, Ferris was working over
the console along with Ganius, Brutaria and San Rio were lazing on a sofa
along with Kratos who had had little to do for a few weeks and was getting
restless, he was soon animated as I explained all that was going on, an
hour later and we had his agreement to go to the P.U. and request that the
Federation of Free Traders was recognised, he gave a grim smile as he also
said it would give him a chance to find out a little bit more about little
Ellis problem.

When everything was set, I told San Rio to take Kratos to Terra for the
declaration, he was to stay close to the man but not to be seen, after that
was done I called up Gareth, there was a lot to talk over with him about
the new ships and where the hell we were going to keep a cruiser out of
sight.

"Gareth, I need to know how we can store a cruiser out of sight, our hanger
is too small as we saw with the freighter?"

"Oh another Cruiser can go in the level one hanger with the other two, we
have space there for ten cruisers and level two hanger could take more but
it is in use at this time."

"Wait, what cruisers and what level are we talking about; this is level one
hanger and its way too small for a cruiser?"

"No Commander, you are Upper Level One, I am talking about Lower Level One
and Two."

"Please explain?"

"Certainly Commander, the base is made up of forty six levels, the ten
levels at the centre core are mine and the power core, from there you have
eighteen upper and eighteen lower levels, the upper levels where you are,
are mainly for personnel and light equipment as well as training
facilities, the lower levels are for main armaments, heavy production and
ships hangers."

"Why didn't you tell me this before?"

"You never asked, you only asked for defensive and offensive readiness
capability, you did not ask for a full survey of the base until now
Commander, if you wish I can make all the schematics available to your
console."

"No, that won't be needed at this time, so now tell me, what ships do we
have available at this time on the lower level hangers?"

"At this time you have two fully operational Cruisers available for
immediate use, the other eight we had to strip down to build the Battle
Cruisers which will be completed next month, or twenty one days to be
exact, when the fleet is finished you will have three Battle Cruisers and
two Medium Cruisers, you will also have the small fighters that you are
having built now although I would suggest you bring the smaller ships back
as soon as possible so I can make the necessary alterations to fit the
pilots."

"Uhm, ok, first, what alterations, second there will be a third Cruiser to
come, third, what the hell is a Battle cruiser, the Navy has never had
anything like that and I've never heard of one?"

"The alterations Commander would be the need for the insertion of
Positronic brains into the fighters for the safety of the pilots, also I am
sure the boys would like them to be personalised, young males like that
sort of thing I have noticed, secondly, where is the third Cruiser coming
from and lastly, a Battle Cruiser is the creation of the Professor, it is
powered by his invention of a Hessian Drive as he called it, it is a
marriage of both a Plasma and Ion Drive system, very powerful and very fast
each Battle Cruiser is fitted with four of them, it will be capable of
keeping up with your own ship at top speed, they have full stealth
capability as well as a modified Jamison Jump Drive with intergalactic
capability, their armaments will consist of sixteen of the new Ion Cannons,
thirty six Plasma Cannons, one hundred and twenty Dual Pod Starlight Laser
units and lastly one thousand Kemp Roll Out Mines."

"And just how many thousands of people are going to fly these Battle
Ships?"

"Virtually none, the Quad Core Positronic Operating Systems will take care
of most things pertaining to the ship, only a crew of thirty are needed for
navigation, fighting and other human things that are done on a ship
although you will need extra pilots for the Battle Cruisers Fighters, there
are forty of those just as in most Cruisers, most of its functions are
under the control of the Quad Core."

"What is a Quad Core?"

"It is four Positronic Brains in tandem, the first one runs the engineering
systems, the second one is for targeting and weapons systems, the third one
is for the internal atmospherics to keep the humans alive as well as the
outer shielding in case of attack, the fourth is for a back up and some of
the smaller functions like cleaning and sanitary purposes."

"What about the two remaining Cruisers then?"

"They are standard Cruisers like the Galactic Navy although their drives
have been upgraded to include Stealth and higher speed output, their
weapons are also upgraded in keeping with the needs of the base."

"Well, I'm glad we finally got that all sorted out, so how do I get from
upper to lower without taking a ship outside?"

"Now that you have shown an interest in the whole base I will unlock and
open the elevators for you, there are ten of them throughout the base for
quick access, only the central core where I live is closed to everyone,
besides I don't think humans could survive in an Ion Core which is what I
use to power the Base but there are only two levels for that, I take up the
other eight."

"Thank you Gareth, it's a pity I cannot see you, it's a bit off putting
talking to thin air."

"If you wish I can have an android made for you but I will need some DNA
for the tank to produce him or her, is that what you would wish?"

"Yes that would be very good, how do you do it?"

"All I need is some DNA from someone and then in a month I will have me as
an android to talk to you, do you have someone in mind?"

"Not really, can you use more than one DNA and make the android a mix of
some of the boys?"

"Of course, I can make him anything you like as long as I have the DNA to
work with."

"Where do I send the boys I like for the DNA samples?"

"When you have selected the boys, send them to level sixteen infirmary, I
will take samples there and they can return in an hour, the genetics
laboratory is the level below that so the DNA will be fresh and undamaged."

I thanked Gareth and went to find some of the boys, I had a couple in mind
I would like to see with mixed DNA, if Gareth did it right the results
would be stunning, I resolved to find my bed after that, it had been a
couple of long days and the two jumps I had done left me wanting my bed
more than anything else, there was also now so much more information on the
base I had to collate in my head, it was definitely time for bed and rest.

The next few days proved to be very busy, Santos even volunteered one of
the older fighters for Ferris to use as his escape vehicle, Ganius worked
hard alongside Ferris to find one of the Chase Planets to use for his
recovery, most planets had their own news agencies and nearly all of them
had vision ships in orbit above the planet's surface, we would use one of
them as the rescuers.

Gareth came forward with another of the Professors inventions, it was an
ultra high frequency communications system, a far safer and longer distance
system than we had been using in our sub space system, it was in the form
of a wide strip of metal worn on the wrist like a bracelet, the story
Ferris would tell was that it was a device the kidnappers used to keep
track of him and, if he tried to remove it, the device would explode, he
would then tell them to leave it until he was ready to try and have it
removed safely.

We had selected the Chase Planet of Canus Major for the rescue, it was far
enough away from Terra that he would not be intercepted by a Naval Patrol
but close enough that his rescue would be believable, a lot of time was
spent on his old original clothes, Ganius even used a power grinder to give
his old jeans that ragged and worn look, his sneakers were treated in the
same way, the collar of his shirt was torn until it hung only by a few
threads.

On the day he would make his `Escape' we looked him over, Ganius had done a
nice job of bruises and the odd small cut on his lip and cheek, one eye was
going black and his arms and chest had bruising, the use of sedatives had
made it less painful for the boy but he had still been very sore the next
day, it had been just long enough to make them look older, the judicious
addition of some dirt and grease and not showering for the last four days
added to his story.

The plan now was to tractor his old fighter close to the planet and then
Ganius would put a single laser shot through his engine to make it look as
though he had been hit by a stray meteorite and his small ship was
disabled, we had all gone over and over his cover story, it was imperative
that he was kept as safe as possible even though he could be flying into a
lion's den.

I watched via our security cameras as the pair took off, the old beaten up
fighter looked just right, it had dents and scrapes along its hull as well
as a few small burnt spots, Ganius had it in his tractor beam as they left
the asteroid, they would get close to Canus Major before Ferris went
aboard, we were not going to take the chance he would get killed in the
little hulk on the way to the planet and his `Rescue'.

Everything went as planned for once, Ganius stayed in stealth mode as he
released the little fighter with Ferris now on board, everything that
Ferris said was now recorded by Gareth and relayed to us, he also had a
limited video play system as well, everyone in the base gathered around the
console as he began his `Rescue', Ganius had checked to make sure the
largest news companies ship was just below them but far enough away that
they would have time to report the events, it turned out to be better than
we hoped.

Ferris lifted his arm so we got one more shot of his smiling face through
the arm com system, he then dropped the smile and arranged his face to show
abject fear, his voice rose as though in fright and he pressed the news
casters channel into his ships com unit, it was time for the ruse to start.

Gareth relayed everything he was getting through the com unit, we all stood
around the central console as the events unfolded, he was also monitoring
the local news channels for a video replay, Ferris voice, now high and
sounding very frightened came over the speakers.

"Hello, hello, is anyone out there, please help me, I don't want to die,
help me please, please."

The urgency in his voice made us all think this was for real he was doing
such a good job, no more than seconds later a new voice came on.

"Unknown, unknown, who are you, where are you, what is your problem, over."

"Hello, hello, help me please, please, please come and get me, I need
help."

"Unknown, unknown, this is the orbital ship CM14 for Canus Major News
Corporation, who are you, can you give me your location, over"

"I'm here, above a big planet, I don't know what it is, help, help,
please."

"You sound very young, what is your name and where are you?"

"My name is Andras Chase, I escaped from some bad people, I'm in a little
ship above the planet, please come and get me."

Suddenly the main screen in the room came on, Gareth had relayed the first
pictures of the reporter on the `Rescue' ship, the screen flashed as the
words came over.

`Breaking news, breaking news, kidnapped boy found, standby for more.'

The conversation continued with the two ships as we also kept an eye on the
vid screen.

"Andras, listen to me boy, my name is Philos Mann, I was a fighter pilot
with the Galactic Navy, is your ship a small fighter?"

"I don't know it is very small and only enough space for one person, it is
very old and the engine is broken; please help me I don't want to die out
here alone."

"Andras, I want you to listen very carefully, we can't see you on our
screens or radar, I need you to activate the emergency beacon, I want you
to reach under your seat, there's a small square box, push on the front and
it will open, inside is a large button, pull this down and your beacon will
activate, once I have your beacon we can come and get you, can you do this
Andras?"

"Yes, yes I think I can do it, please hurry, it's so lonely up here and I'm
scared."

"Ok Andras, now do as I said and I will soon have you back and safe."

Seconds later we watched as Ferris reached under his seat, he well knew
where it was, we had taken the time to go over it all with him just in case
they did not know to tell him to use it, the screen in the common room came
to life once again with a young faced reporter sitting in a chair aboard a
news ship.

"Citizens of the Galaxy, we are relaying through all of our sister agencies
Galaxy wide, Andras Chase, the young son of the murdered Macklin Chase has
been found, yes people, after nine months two weeks the kidnapped son of
Macklin Chase has been found by this reporter and the orbital ship of CM 14
News Corporation, our very experienced Pilot Philos Mann, late of our
Galactic Navy is talking young Andras through the emergency protocols even
as we speak, as yet we have not sighted young Andras ship, it is believed
it is a small one man fighter of unknown origin, wait, our Pilot is
watching his screen as I speak to you."

The pilot's voice came over our com system.

"Good boy Andras, I have your beacon now, you did very well, now sit there
and try to relax, I'm going to pull out all the stops and we will be
alongside you in less than half an hour, can you stay calm until then, I
know you must be very frightened but it's important you stay calm, we are
not far away and you'll be safe soon, ok Son?"

"Yes, yes, but please hurry, I'm scared."

"Just stay calm Andras, I'm on my way, you've been a brave boy so far, it
will only be a few minutes more."

"Thank you, thank you, please hurry."

"I'm at full blast now Andras, stay calm; we will have you very soon."

The vid screen came on again with the same self important reporter.

"Citizens of the Galaxy, we have located young Andras ship and are now
heading towards him at top speed, this is truly a miracle, after surviving
for nine months this brave little boy has escaped the clutches of some vile
men and is now within minutes of safety, wait, yes our pilot has now got
him on radar, Citizens of the Galaxy, this is truly a great day in the life
of this reporter, I am right here to oversee this miraculous rescue and
bring it to you live from the news ship of CM 14 News Corporation."

The voice of the pilot came back over our coms unit.

"Andras, I have you on our radar now, I want you to disengage the beacon in
case others hear it and put you in danger, I will have you in sight in a
few more minutes, just reach under your seat and push the same button up,
it will switch off your beacon and keep you safe from others, can you do
that for me Andras?"

"Ok, but I can't see you, are you really close, I want to get out of here,
it's scary up here alone, I've been alone for so long."

"Which way is your ship facing to the planet Andras?"

"Uhm, sort of right in front of me."

"Ok, now turn your head to the left and look downward towards the left edge
of the planet, you will see me there and coming towards you."

"Yes, yes I think I see you, please hurry."

"It won't be long now, just a few more minutes, you've been very brave so
hold on just a little longer and we will have you safe and sound."

I had to admire Ferris performance, he really sounded like a scared little
boy, with Ganius in stealth mode only a kilometre away from him it made it
that much harder for Ferris to convey his fear to those coming to get him
but he carried it off like a pro, the reporter was back on the screen.

"We have him Citizens, I can now see him only a few minutes away, very soon
now I will be rescuing young Andras Chase, this is live Citizens, wait
while we turn our cameras and you will see the small ship he made his
fearless escape from those vile men in, yes there it is, oh my god, he must
be the bravest boy in the galaxy to try to escape in that little ship, I
think it would disintegrate at any moment, he must have been desperate to
try to get away in a ship like that. We are now closing on the ship, we
have cleared space in our hold and our valiant pilot will tractor the small
ship into our hold where I will be the first to welcome him to freedom,
stay tuned for this momentous event and the first real live interview with
this brave boy."

I don't know how we all kept from laughing at the bombastic words of the
reporter, I wonder what he would say if he knew we were all behind it, we
waited for a few more minutes, through Ferris arm mounted com unit we
watched as his ship was drawn into the hold of the larger ship, outside we
could see the mass of people around the hold as the little fighter came to
rest on the floor of the hold, at the head of the group stood a young man
with a hand held camera and mic, he looked just like he sounded, pompous
and self important.

There was silence as Ferris released the hatch, as it lowered to the open
position, Ferris in all his glory could be seen sitting in the seat, his
ragged clothes and bruised face showed up strong on the screen above us,
the camera caught everyone as they surged forward to the small figure
sitting in the fighter seat, as he released his safety belts and stood up
and stepped down onto the floor of the hold, the reporter ran up and pushed
the mic close into his face, had he wanted to, Ferris could have taken a
bight out of it.

"Andras, my name is Gordon Melts, I'm the reporter who has rescued you, can
you tell me about your escape and how you survived so long amongst all
those vile men."

True to his character, Ferris looked at the reporter like a bad smell,
ignoring the persistent questions; Ferris raised his voice over the
rumbling crowd.

"Where's Philos, I want to talk to my rescuer, where is he, I want to see
him, he's my saviour, please get out of my way I want to see Philos."

There was now pandemonium in the hold as others called for the pilot to
come and see Ferris, almost unnoticed by everyone, I saw Ferris slip one of
his blades partially out of his wrist and, with a quick short slice,
severed the mic cord on the reporters unit, the blade disappeared just as
quickly, no one saw it, you would have to know he had them to notice the
small sliver of blade, mark one up for Ferris.

We all watched, now without sound on the screen, as the pilot Philos came
through a hatch and into the hold, Ferris looked at him and smiled for the
first time, ignoring the persistent questions from the reporter, Ferris ran
to the pilot and virtually jumped into his arms and buried his face in the
man's neck, all chance on any interviews were now stopped as the scene
faded out, the soundless voice of the reporter still thinking he was the
great hero.

I switched off the screen and we all sat back with smiles on our faces, the
great Ferris ruse had succeeded, now it was time to let the details fill
themselves in as Ferris set his sights on the board of directors of Chase
Corporation, his performance had been better than any professional could
have achieved.


TBC.


Artcart65@gmail.com



 

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