Space Cadets; Book 2 of the Athena Lee Universe
“Stay calm. Stay calm.” Lieutenant Deanna Faber muttered to herself under her breath. If anyone was even listening they chose to not comment. Deanna, Dean to her friends, was a tall, striking, brunette. She was new to Freedom Station and a recent graduate of the Officers Candidate school.
She gripped her carry bag even tighter as she passed a group of Engineering ensigns. Nodding to them she smiled. They returned her smile and started to straighten up to attention. A small wave from her and they stood down. Dean’s uniform tabs showed that she was a bridge officer. It was the tabs themselves that made this task so hard. She was about to betray everything she swore an oath to not do!
In hindsight she got herself into this situation. Going to that party was her first mistake. Getting involved with the Cabal might be her last. It was too late now. You are in too deep. Or at least that is what her subconscious kept telling her.
“Come on Dean, it will be fun! He’s got on of those new Lind Company pod hoppers. You will just love Clark, he’s a blast.”
Dean looked at her friend in surprise. “Mandy, isn’t he married? Why are you messing around with a married man? Your parents will die if they find out!”
Her friend blushed a little. “They won’t die! Mom might get upset a little. It’s not like I’m sleeping with him or anything. Clark just likes younger friends, that’s all. The Kent family are the second richest family on the planet. Just come and meet him.” Mandy looked at Dean and smiled. “He’s got some cute cousins…”
“I don’t know. Don’t you think that a Captain in the Militia who is married is a little creepy hanging out with younger single women all the time?” Dean frowned and looked to her friend. Mandy could get a bit flaky sometimes but they had been friends for years.
“Don’t be like that. He’s a good man. Do you still like those ancient vids you once showed me? The guy that lives in the box and the guy in the red suit flying around are the ones I remember.”
“Did you mean Dr Who? Red suit could be several different ones but I get the idea. Why?” Mandy was never a history buff like I was but she did try to watch with me a few times.
“The Kent family has a huge library of those things. Clark said his grandfather got them from the colony ship. I told him how much you get into historical vids and he said he would dig out some of the really old ones for you.” Mandy smiled at me and I smiled back. She knew exactly what my lure was.
“Fine. I will meet him. Where is he?” I looked around.
“Not here, silly.” Mandy giggled. “He’s picking me up over there with his new hopper. Why don’t you tag along?” She pointed to a nearby copse of trees.
That afternoon was the start of it. One small party led to another one and then another one. Before she knew it she was spending all her free time at the Kent estate. At the time she didn’t notice it but the vid selection became more specific as they watched. Finally, after watching a series on the Cyber wars and the rise of the UN did Clark ask her the question.
“Dean, what is your opinion of the UN?”
Dean’s hand froze in the act of putting a handful of popcorn into her mouth. “The UN? Do you mean the Old Earth United Nations? That UN?” She pointed to the screen with her other hand.
“Yes, that UN. Do you think they had the security of all of us in minds when they took over after the wars?”
The look on Clark’s face was one of seriousness so Dean didn’t laugh at him. “The UN was a political entity on Earth why does it matter what I think?”
“Agreed. You, like I, are part of the military. You obviously enjoy history or you wouldn’t like these vids. What it your opinion of the UN?” Clark turned in his seat to stare at her.
“It was an organization that was needed at the time. Earth was in ruins none of the Nation States could do anything to help. They represented the order and structure that the world at the time needed desperately.”
Clark smiled a huge smile at her. He patted her knee. “That is an insightful answer. Now, how do you think what the UN did on Earth could relate to this world and the other known colonies.”
Dean smiled back at Clark. Geopolitical discussion was her favorite at the Academy. “I have read that the UN tried to assert it’s control of the colonies but lost due to distance and lack of communication. What they did on Earth could work here now. I mean, communications between worlds are faster with drones and comm buoys. Our ships are ten times faster than they were 150 years ago and the weapons are more powerful. The only thing preventing total cohesion is the current political climate. Unfortunately there isn’t any outside force strong enough to step in unless you are thinking about Mars. It was my understanding that they are our allies already?”
“Mars is an ally. What if there was an outside force that could bring all the lost colonies into the fold. One nation would mean universal healthcare, security, and structure. No longer would people have to ask why. Would something like that appeal to you?” Clark peered into Dean’s eyes.
Dean nodded. “It would. But how? There is no such nation or fleet that can do those things! You’re just being silly, Clark.” She gave him a little push.
Clark stood, pulling Dean to her feet along with him. “I have something to show you. Come on.” He pulled the younger girl along with him to a hallway she had never seen in the estate before. “Do you trust me?”
“Of course I do Clark! What is this place?” Dean looked down the hall. It was dark and shadowed.
“This is the answer to all your questions and the solution to much of our troubles.” He stepped forward and the lights slowly came up. Arrayed along the walls were relics from a time long gone. Obvious colony ship relics, Old Earth paintings, and what appeared to be United Nations uniforms and symbols. Clark opened the door at the end of the hall and motioned Dean forward.
Dean gave a little shudder in remembrance of that weekend. So much to know and learn. So much to fear. She didn’t have a choice anymore. It was either bow to the wishes of the Cabal or die. She didn’t want to die. Her one attempt at leaving was cut short when her parents were evicted from property they had spent their entire lives on and beaten nearly to death. Protecting her own was all she cared about now. That is why she was here now.
Shift change was moments away according to the posted schedule. Dean knew that the main induction coils were built into the wall in the storage room just ahead. She had studied the blueprints leftover from the last construction phase. Contrary to regulations the conduits were rerouted through the closet and up into the main propulsion system. This was the only flaw in the engine room. It made her wonder how many others existed. Did Clark or his family have anything to do with it? It was too late to ask them the question anyway.
“Dean! Did you see Clark on the vid?” Mandy Pepperidge plopped down into the seat across from Dean in the Academy library.
“What did he do now? Save some hikers from a nearbear or something?” Dean didn’t even try to hide the derision is her voice. He betrayed her to the Cabal and now they owned her very soul.
“No! He and his entire family were arrested last night for treason! They were part of a criminal organization called the Cabal. At least according to the newsies!” Mandy fiddled with her tablet and pulled up the report.
“… family patriarch, Council member, and former Militia Colonel Jonathan Kent is shown here followed by his son Captain Clark Kent. Government investigators recently discovered a conspiracy involving the Kent family and the off-world Cabalists. The Cabal is responsible for the overthrow of the Imperial Senate and numerous crimes committed by agents across the galaxy. Former Governor Edward Norton is said to have been a member. More raids are expected.”
“Didn’t you and Clark have a thing once?”
Deanna blushed and looked at her friend. The lie was right on the tip of her tongue so remembering her training she used it. “No. I went to that party YOU took me to, remember? One of his cousins asked me out and we watched one of the history vids. They were too rich and high society for someone like me. My parents raise chickens not credits.”
“That’s what I thought. I was interviewed by military intelligence and told them the same thing. If it’s true I hope he gets the death penalty.”
Dean looked up at her friend in shock. “What did he do Mandy?”
Mandy’s eyes brimmed with tears. “I should have stayed away from him like you said Dean. He tried to have his way with me and then threatened to have me expelled if I talked. I should have said something!”
“Did you tell Military intelligence what you just told me?” Dean stared at Mandy’s face. Some of the training she had received told her Mandy was hiding something. Now was not the time to look for allies so she stayed quiet.
“I did. They are investigating. Do you remember anyone else that hung out with the Kents, Dean?”
“You would know who better than I, Mandy. You invited most of them.” Dean looked at her pointedly.
“True. Thanks Dean. See you later.” Dean watched the blond peril bounce out of the library. She let out the breath she was holding in and started mashing buttons on her tablet. Who else knew she was a Cabal agent?
It all seemed so long ago. The arrest and deportation of the conspirators and the fateful call a week later. Just because the Kents were gone doesn’t mean she wasn’t still apart of the organization. He role in the renewal of the universe was still there. She opened the storage closed and examined the wall. The disguised explosive units looked like metallic patches. They would sit unnoticed until it was too late. She quickly placed four of them on the bulkhead. Shifting some of the stores around they didn’t even look out of place. If only the rest would be so easy. Treason was hard work. The same could be said of bringing down an Empire from the inside.