Read Méridien (The Silver Ships Book 3) Online

Authors: S. H. Jucha

Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Alien Invasion, #First Contact, #Space Opera

Méridien (The Silver Ships Book 3)

MÉRIDIEN

 

A Silver Ships Novel

 

 

S. H. JUCHA

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2015 by S. H. Jucha

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

Published by S. H. Jucha

 

ISBN: 978-0-9905940-5-5 (e-book)

ISBN: 978-0-9905940-6-2 (softcover)

 

First Edition: November 2015

 

Cover Design: Damon Za

Formatting: Polgarus Studio

Acknowledgments

Méridien
completes my original trilogy, which I began planning in early 2013. I have attempted to write an original story, but I must acknowledge the influence of the many authors whose works I’ve read over the past fifty years. I’ve relished thousands of inventive stories from creative writers who explored the near and distant futures of human and alien cultures. My deepest thanks go to the many individuals who kept me entertained for hours in a day.

On a side note, German-speaking readers pointed out small inaccuracies in my Bergfalk starship names. In an effort to be faithful to the language, I updated the ship names in second iterations of
Libre
’s softcover book and Kindle. Readers will discover the name of the city-ship,
Our People,
has become the
Unsere Menschen
.

A special thanks to my independent editor, John David Kudrick, whose efforts have polished my final manuscript, and to my proofreaders, Abiola Streete, Dr. Jan Hamilton, and David Melvin.

Despite the assistance I’ve received from others, all errors are mine.

Glossary

A Glossary is located at the end of the book for your convenience.

-1-

“Does your world not welcome us, Admiral?” Director Tomas Monti asked Admiral Alex Racine.

“My people would welcome you, Director Monti,” Alex replied, “if they knew you were here, but your presence won’t be announced to my people by the new President, Clayton Downing, who has recently taken office.”

The Co-Leaders of House Alexander, Alex Racine and Renée de Guirnon, sat in a meeting with the flotilla’s officers and Directors aboard the city-ship,
Freedom
, regarding the unexpected message they had received from the Sharius outpost orbiting Seda, which had relayed President Downing’s order to stay out of the New Terran system.

Tomas Monti had every right to be concerned. His entire planet of Independents, having narrowly escaped the invasion of the Arnos system by the alien silver ships, had fled Confederation space for New Terra, Alex’s home world. When the flotilla exited FTL outside the Oistos system, Terran Security Forces outpost commander, Colonel Marshall, had delivered the President’s terse order.

The message heralded horrific news. President McMorris, the Méridiens’ friend and supporter, was no longer in office. A power-hungry Assemblyman, by the name of Clayton Downing XIV, held the high office, and Alex’s conscience warned him that he may have been responsible for the change.

While the
Rêveur
had been under repair at New Terra, preparing to return home to the Confederation, someone had stolen the Transfer Station’s database of extremely valuable Méridien technology. The
Rêveur
’s SADE, Julien, subsequently had broken innumerable New Terran laws tracing the financial and communication pathways from the engineer who’d stolen the data, back to the individuals who had masterminded the theft. The trail had led to the offices of Samuel B. Hunsader, the CEO of Purity Ores, one of the system’s largest mining companies, and Hunsader was a key supporter of Assemblyman Downing. When Alex had exited the Oistos system with the Méridiens and their restored starship, which had been damaged by the silver ships, he had ordered Julien to discreetly send the data to President McMorris with a warning to be careful.

“Is this President an important position on your world?” asked the ex-Leader of the Méridiens’ House Bergfalk, Director Eric Stroheim, as he looked around at the heavy-worlders, the New Terrans.

“Our people elect our world’s leader, Director Stroheim,” Captain Andrea Bonnard said. “The leader’s title is ‘President,’ and the person serves for five years before elections are held again.”

“Incredible … each of your people has a vote, a say in who leads them,” said Tomas, shaking his head in wonder. As a Méridien, an elected President had no comparison to his people’s Council, which consisted of House Leaders and held absolute power over the Confederation’s billions of people.

“I have met this man, Clayton Downing, Sers,” Renée told the Méridiens. “You would find it difficult to conceive of his nature. Our people have strived for continuity of thought and action. And although we have come to value the New Terrans for their independence since they have produced the likes of the Admiral,” Renée said as she touched her lover’s shoulder, “they have also produced the likes of Clayton Downing, a perversion of humanity.”

“What is the purpose of this meeting, then, Admiral?” Eric Stroheim asked. His House had once been the caretakers of the outcasts of Méridien society, the Independents. When the silver ships had consumed six Confederation colonies, the Méridiens began fleeing their home world, and the Council abandoned all responsibility for the Independents on Libre. As House Leader, Eric Stroheim took it upon himself to save the quarter of a million people stranded on the planet. Even working together, the Independents and House Bergfalk wouldn’t have completed their exodus in time before succumbing to the silver ships without the Admiral’s help. In gratitude and to demonstrate continuity, Eric and Tomas had joined the Co-Leader’s newly formed Confederation Military Arm, House Alexander, as Directors of the civilian support arm. Alex and Renée had created House Alexander as a guise of operation. It was a foregone conclusion that the Confederation Council, when they finally stopped running long enough to examine the petition, would never approve the new Méridien House.

House Alexander now counted nine ships among its assets: two giant city-ships, two freighters, one armed shuttle, and four passenger liners, including the
Rêveur
, which had been lost for seventy years until the Admiral rescued it and revived the eighteen Méridiens in stasis.

“Director Stroheim,” Alex said, “Julien is working to discover what has transpired in our absence. Right now, we are here to focus on our primary strategy … the end of the silver ships.”

Senior Captain Andrea Bonnard and Commander Tatia Tachenko shared wolfish smiles. They had surmised the purpose of the meeting and were anxious to take the fight back to the brood of fighters and their mother ship, an enormous sphere that transported its drones from one star to the next. The aliens had just chased the flotilla out of the Arnos system, and everyone wanted payback for the 2,200 elders left behind when time ran out. As it was, the flotilla, with its shuttles failing and an incomplete city-ship struggling to make its launch, had engaged in a running fight with the silver ships to safely reach the FTL exit point.

“We know that the silver ships,” Alex continued, “are not at their most vulnerable right now, densely packed around Libre as they are and mining it for resources. But I’m not willing to wait eight to twelve years till they lift and head for a new destination. We know enough about their weaknesses to defeat them and just need to finalize our preparations.”

Alex linked his Méridien cerebrum-embedded implants with those at the conference table and sent them his battle plan. Some in the room were still coming to grips with the manner in which the Admiral bypassed their implant security protocols whenever he wished. In polite Méridien society, it was an unheard of intrusion. To Alex, who had possessed his twin implants for less than a year, it was expediency.

“I see the
Unsere Menschen
will be left behind,” Eric said, indicating the city-ship that was his responsibility.

“I need one staging platform, Director Stroheim, for the trip back to Libre,” Alex replied. “That will be the
Freedom
. The
Unsere Menschen
has extensive construction and outfitting to complete; it won’t be ready in time.”

“But if we are excluded from your system, why are we even contemplating these actions?” Eric asked.

“Director,” Renée interjected. “You forget that I have spent a half-year in the company of the New Terrans. Despite this unexplained transition to a new President, I can assure you that the New Terran people do welcome us.”

“Listen up, people,” Alex said. “Focus on our battle preparations, your ships, and your supplies. When we have access to New Terra—and we will have access—be ready to implement your part of the plan. As for my officers, assume the Transfer Stations, including Barren Island, will be at your disposal. Directors, access your SADEs’ files on these locations so you understand their manufacturing capabilities. Julien has already transferred the data to your ship’s SADE.”

More than one of Alex’s officers exchanged glances and relayed private comments via their implants. They had just been warned by the new President to stand off the system or force would be used against them. Now, Alex was telling them that he intended to ignore the order. It was one thing to fight the alien silver ships, but what if they had to fight their own people?

*   *   *

Prior to his meeting, Alex had a short conference with his ship’s SADE. Alex sent, Alex and Julien shared more than a few personal code words. “Quietly” meant Julien was to find the information wherever it was located and regardless of whether it was a public or a private source, but in the latter location, leave no footprint.

Julien had replied. Julien had added, referring to the SADEs of the Libran’s massive city-ships.



In the quiet that had followed, Alex felt concern for the changes that Julien, the
Rêveur’s
artificial intelligence, had wrought in his programs since their meeting. Alex asked.


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