Saturday, July 22, 2017
How about a sneak peek at Space Cadets? Check out Snippet #01
“She’s not going to tell you. Even though she’s a robot she’s still a cat. They like keeping secrets. Even from us.”
The robot in question didn’t even look up at us. Instead it jumped up onto one of the benches and began pretending to clean it’s fur. The holographic system that provided the look of hair on the CATTs was almost perfect. It still amazed me how little people said about them. Especially those in the military. Both the CATTs and the ‘droids’ were very commonplace now. For me it didn’t matter where I ended up. It was true that I wanted ship duty or even special operations but anything would do. This Navy was so much more interesting than the Empires. Safer too. Internally I gave a little shudder at the thought of what could have happened to me if I had stayed with them after the revolution. Lunch for a bunch of clones wouldn’t be memorable.
“Just like a real cat. The ones we have at home are like that. My uncle Bart even has a couple living in his garage that catch rats. I wonder if I could send a CATT to him to help out around the place. Artemis can we do that?” Lina directed her question to the robotic feline.
Artemis cocked her head for just a moment. The CATT used to only respond by text on our tablets but something over the Summer had changed all that. She now either spoke to us through our links or allowed the tablet’s limited AI to read the responses to us. Either way she and all the rest were talking CATTs. “There is a scout vessel inside of New Texas space. One of our units now designated Sabine will present itself to your Uncle Bart at his place of business. Is that satisfactory to you?”
I looked at the CATT with very wide eyes. “For real? Artemis how are you able to just do that? I thought the company that made you or that Wilson guy had to authorize new CATTs?”
Artemis pretended to groom herself for a moment, her brilliant green eyes peering up at us. Both Lina and I continued to stare at her. Making a visible sigh the CATT shook her head. “Any Queen can give orders. Merlin has to approve what we do, but it can be after the fact. Queens know best after all. Something you two should learn early.”
“Us? We aren’t ruled by a Queen.” Lina pointed out to the robotic feline.
“Aren’t you? I would advise you to get ready to depart.” Artemis tilted her head toward the main hatch.
Glancing outside I could see the shuttle was about to dock with Freedom Station. “We have about four minutes, Lina. These shuttles dock way faster than any of the ships.”
We actually had about three minutes. Just enough time to straighten our uniforms and quickly police the stateroom. Our hatch gave a whooshing noise as it opened. The former Major Lee now General, Admiral, and Senator Lee stood in the opening the door left. She was holding onto a very large orange CATT. At her feet were several other robotic felines. They proceeded her into the room sniffing and scanning everything. Artemis sat regally upon the table and ignored them, and us. Training kicked in and we both came to attention.
“Before you even set foot on my station I want to make a few things clear. You two are trouble. Just like my sister, Athena, you seem to draw it too you. I want you to try. Try so very hard not to destroy what we have worked so hard to rebuild. With her free hand she waved behind her toward the station.” The Admiral smiled as she spoke. “Don’t look too shocked. You two are troublemakers. Despite what I said, I’m happy to see you two. Are you ready for some hard grueling work?”
We both only nodded. Standing at attention it was about all we could do. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Artemis pretending to groom herself. The Admiral peered at us with an instant scowl. “Did you lose your hearing or your tongues?
“No, Ma’am. Regulations state we aren’t supposed to speak while at attention.” I winced as I said the words. The regs could be pretty strict on things.
“Oops. Sorry girls. You can stand at ease. I forget about the stripes sometimes. This crazy war has left us with some holes in out beloved planet’s military. My sister keeps telling me to promote someone but trust is an issue with me. I think you both can relate to that one. Grab your gear. We need to get moving.”
The two dark colored CATTs scurried out of the room first leading the way as we followed our planets greatest commander.
Minerva looked back at us as she walked. “Lot’s of changes up here over the past few months. We finally have the station repaired from where the big rock hit us. The politicos down on the planet swear we still have a dent in the side but if it’s there I can’t see it. Engineering ended up moving the entire living quarters away from the exterior walls and moving them inward. The parks and recreation facilities are there now. Essentially we flipped the station inside out. I still get lost. Automation and security was increased tenfold in most of the public areas. Cadet Eberly, are you still interested in those sorts of systems? The instructors at the Academy tell me you like taking things apart.”
Lina turned a bit red. “I put them back together. I really do. Any mechanical position would do, Ma’am.”
“Cadet Tisiphone, what about you? Is special operations what you want, or is it ship duty? I would imagine you experienced all you could handle in the Empire’s Navy.” The Admiral stopped walking and turned to stare at me.
“Like Lina, I mean Cadet Eberly said. I’m OK with anything, Ma’am.”
“Hmm. That is not what your companion back there reported. For either of you. Come along. Much more to see.” The Admiral continued to walk.
Both Lina and I turned to stare at Artemis but she ignored us as usual. Just like a cat.
Freedom Station was much bigger than I remember it being. Nothing looked the same. The Admiral took us straight through to the heart of the Station. A tram was waiting for us. “Toss your bags on board and take a seat up front. We have things to discuss.”
Lina wasn’t strong enough for to toss anything so I did it for her. The tram looked a bit like one of dads field cutting machines. I resisted the urge to peek under it to look for a manufacturing label.
The Admiral yawned as climbed on board the machine. I was surprised to see one of the new droids driving it. I even said as much to her.
“It’s one of those improvements I mentioned. All non-essential positions are being filled by robotic soldiers unless it’s not physically possible. Everyone else is needed for the war effort.”
That shocked me. “Are we really that short handed, Admiral?”
Admiral Lee stared at me for a moment and shook her head. “Not really. We have a new fleet to staff as well as training facilities to man. The temporary lull in battle my sister achieved with her raid on Earth gave us a chance to really protect what is ours. It’s not really a secret but taking a page from Earth’s defenses, we towed many of the older asteroid bases to the perimeters of our galaxy. Automation upgrades are underway upon many of them but they are able to defend against surprise attacks and some of the convoy’s the clones have scattered around.”
Lina perked up next to me and asked. “I thought some of the Earth fleets weapons were better than ours?”
“Not really. Only stronger. We’ve captured a few of their smaller ships and examined chunks of the larger. They have more efficient power supplies and better focusing equipment. One of your new assignments Eberly will be to take a look at some of the captured equipment and see if you can duplicate it. You have a flair for Earth tech that many do not. Don’t even pretend you didn’t fix Tisiphone’s family combine.” The Admiral arched an eyebrow.
“But I’m not even graduated yet!” Lina stared with wide eyes.
“So? You have talent. We need talent. Simple math. Did the both of you really think I brought you up here as a reward?”