The sight of the patrol cruiser passing in front of my viewport of the bridge was a little scary. I did not regret my decision to surrender at all as I was not really fighting the Republic. I was trying to get back to civilization and then get my bearings as to my father and what it meant for my place in the universe. I also was technically a Republic citizen and unless things had drastically changed in a year I had certain rights that the Republic would have to honor. I had after all taken a Republic Scout ship but technically I was returning it to them, so their might or might not be trouble for me legally.
The patrol cruiser actually maneuvered to the back of the scout ship and extended its airlock sleeve to the back airlock of my ship. It could have also did this with the airlock on the top of the ship behind the bridge but the back airlock opened into the grav vehicle bay which allowed for a lot more people to disembark at once. It meant they were not taking any chances and they planned on using a team of people to board me in case there was foul play. Understanding this, I headed to the grav vehicle bay planning to play it cool. ‘Keep you hand away from your gun, Ayn’, I kept telling myself.
I was waiting there when the door on my side of the airlock opened. Orientation on this things can be difficult as the sleeve itself has no gravity but each ship has their own relative gravity and up and down. The four individuals who came through the door were definitely experienced at this sort of thing and walked out onto my deck hardly pausing for adjustment in gravity. These patrol cruisers usually have a crew of eight. Two bridge, two Engineers, two gunner/Marines, one command officer and a doctor. Two of them were probably the gunners for the patrol cruiser’s weapons who were also Republic space marines. They were both wearing battle armor and carrying energy weapons. Based on how their armor was shaped, one was a woman and the other a man. The man between them was Captain Bren Summers who was about the same height as me but with dark hair and blue eyes. His Republic Navy uniform was white. The other person was a woman also in a white Navy Uniform but her red pips indicated she was the doctor.
“Welcome aboard”, I said.
The Marines looked me over quickly and then left the bay to search the rest of the ship. Captain Summers however approached me directly, the doctor in tow over his left shoulder.
“Ayn Jones, I presume.”
“Yes, I know I have a lot of explaining to do.”
“Yes you do. First, I want the doctor to look over you and then we can chat.”
The doctor didn’t say anything other than to tell me open my mouth and such. She was all business. She was finishing up when the Marines returned and reported that the ship was empty. Then the doctor said to the Captain that I was Ok and quite healthy. He dismissed them all back to the patrol ship and asked if he could speak to me in the lounge of the scout ship. I agreed and led him to the lounge area. We sat at the dinning table.
He then requested I tell him my story of how I got to be in possession of Republic Scout Service property. I told hem everything from the time I woke up to the final jump to Aurora. He nodded at several points and if he felt I was skipping something he would ask me to go back and tell it again. After about an hour, he seemed satisfied. He then spoke to me in one of those tones that my father would use to indicate what he was saying was important and that I should listen carefully, so I did.
“Ayn, you need to take the following thing out of that story – the involvement of the Anagathics Research Project. Instead you need to say you found a medical cold sleep chamber and used it to survive the attack on Regulus III. You will not need to do this forever, just until the people at the Anagathics Research Project have a look at you and they will guide you from there. Otherwise you can tell this story to the media the same way you told it to me.”
I nodded. Truth be told I am not sure I wanted everybody to know I had been a part of the research or that it had been successful. Last thing I wanted was to be poked at and prodded for the rest of my life. I did want to talk to them but I was definitely going to stand on my rights to be a free citizen of the Republic.
“Ayn, I must say I am impressed. If you think about joining the Navy, I will reference you.”
“No thanks Captain, I am already thinking the Scouts.”
“Too bad, but now we need to get you to Aurora.”
I was then briefed on the plan. The scout ship was to be left drifting as a Scout Service ship was already on the way to retake possession. They wanted to check the power plant before they took it to Aurora. I was to board the Valiant and be taken to rendezvous with an Aurora System Defense Ship, which would then take me to Aurora. A System Defense Ship is a little smaller than a Patrol Cruiser but it has no jump drive but a heck of a lot more weapons. I got up and retrieved a few personal belongings and asked the Captain if I could have a moment. He nodded as if he understood.
I went back to the bridge and signed off with a final log entry, and then as I passed through ship heading for the airlock, I actually cried a tear or two. Scout 321 had been my first ship and it had kept me alive. Many years later, I would hear that she had been scrapped and I actually would cry again. I remained on the roll of the ship as its captain for the two months I had her under my care well into the future in the Republic Archives and all the stories had been forgotten.
I went to the airlock and Captain Summers was waiting. He opened the door and we crossed the sleeve to his ship. I am not as experiences with zero-G as he is so he held my hand and helped me into the airlock of the Valiant. I spent the next five days travelling to Aurora. The first two days I was on the Valiant and the last three days I found myself aboard an Aurora Defense Ship. I as treated with a lot of respect and dined with each captain and his officers. A couple of them were slightly flirtatious but I stood my ground. In any case, I was still glad the day I was transferred to a shuttle and headed planetside to Aurora. Captain Summers was right. The media, the Anagathics Research Project and the Republic government were waiting.