As scheduled, Ms. Cruz beamed down for breakfast at around eight AM with a great big smile on her face.
Greeting her warmly was AJ, David, Anna, Sister Maria, Brother Delgado and Lieutenant Marinero.
They decided to have room service deliver breakfast on a trolley and leave it outside the room.
They did not want anybody from the hotel’s staff seeing the extra security that arrived during the night and ask questions.
During the over night, the San Marcos had sent down a team of cleaners to bag the bodies and clean up the bloody mess.
When Ms. Cruz showed up there was no sign that an attack had happened there the previous night.
Sister Maria and Anna decided to serve breakfast to the group and that really threw Manolo off.
He had never heard of any noble or royal stooping do menial chores.
He liked that she would take on the lowly task but also wondered why she would do so?
The meal was a delicious serving of local breakfast delicacies eaten amongst friendly chatter and then cleaned up by Sister Maria and Anna.
“Now that we are well fed and have enjoyed pleasant conversation, I was wondering if you two had come up with a plan of action?” asked Anna.
“Dave and I really didn’t get much sleep last night after we came back from visiting Ms. Cruz,” I admitted.
“Oh, I didn’t know that both of you were there,” said Francesca.
“We came right up shortly after the attack last night,” Manolo said.
“They were concerned about you and stuck around for a while after you came out of surgery to make sure you were okay,” replied David.
Francesca smiled over at AJ and David and said, “Thank you gentlemen, I appreciate your concern.”
“Not a big deal, Ms. Cruz, besides we got beamed up there and all, it was great!” I said.
“We also ran into another earth guy up there, he’s some kind of pilot,” David added.
“That must have been Major Allen he dropped by just before I left to check up on me as well,” she said.
“Yeah, he seemed like a nice guy,” I said.
“Too bad about his situation though.”
“Yes, he did mention that to me, he wanted me to tell you both thanks for helping him decide,” Francesca said brightly.
“Not much to decide as far as we’re concerned,” I stated.
“If we had the choice, we’d be leaving with them too when they head back to clobber some alien butt,” I added.
“Well, we don’t know for sure if we are going to ‘clobber some alien butt’ AJ,” Manolo said.
“Sure you are and we’re gonna help,” I advised.
“And how exactly are you going to do that?” asked Delgado.
“Oh don’t worry, we got it all figured out last night,” I said smiling.
“Yeah,” began David.
“Al helped us with some laptops and jacked us into three of the biggest computer game designers on Earth,” he added.
“We had unlimited access to all of them and have begun to come up with a plan,” I said.
“Which is?” asked Brother Delgado.
“The designers of these computer games spent a lot of time developing the games to be as realistic as possible,” David began.
“That means all the weapons, war craft and battle plans are as authentic as possible,” I stated.
“As far as we can make them of course,” I added.
“We started to compile a file of some space fighter crafts that you’ll be able to use against your enemy,” advised David.
“Of course we don’t know if these will work, that’s where your engineers come in,” he added.
“That’s a great plan guys,” Anna said.
“You come up with the designs and we’ll see if they are feasible,” she stated.
“Exactly!” we both said in unison.
“Al told us you have the ability to fabricate whatever design you come up with and produce a prototype,” I replied.
“What’s a prototype, AJ?” Manolo asked.
“It’s a model or a first starfighter craft you create,” I said.
“But before that, you need to work up the model on your computers and make sure the aerodynamics are correct,” explained David.
“You want the fighter to not only fly but also evade the enemy that’s chasing you,” he added.
“That seems like a big job guys,” Ms. Cruz said.
“It would be for us but not them,” I admitted.
“They can work miracle, just look at you,” I said.
“Speaking of which, we’ve all been in these clothes way too long,” Ms. Cruz said.
“I’m sure your parents are worried about you as well,” she continued.
“We need to get you both back home.”
“One more thing before you go,” Anna requested.
“AJ and David have agreed to work with us,” she began.
“They will be well compensated for what they are doing, but we’d like to have you work with us as well, that is if you’d like?” asked Anna.
“Let me think about it,” Ms Cruz said.
“If we do then for the boy’s safety, I must insist on better security measures,” Ms. Cruz stated.
“If anything would happen to them I wouldn’t be able to live with myself,” she added.
“I was thinking the same myself a few hours ago and had Alphie check on a few things for us,” Anna said.
“Alphie, if you would please?” she requested.
“We have located and rented the top two floors of an office building at One Embarcadero Center,” Alphie said.
“We are sending in an engineering team to refit it to our needs.”
“The Marines will be setting up a command post consisting of three squads of strike force marines,” he informed them.
“They will maintain a 24 hours security shield of the area.” Alphie added.
“Of course,” began Anna.
“Everyone will be in civilian clothes and we will also have a couple of drones providing a communications and an electronic blackout of the two top floors,” added Anna.
“The floors will be totally sealed up when we are finished with the renovations,” she continued.
“No one will be able to come or go without our permission,” Anna advised.
“To complete the security precautions,” said Alphie addressing Ms. Cruz.
“With your permission of course, we will beam all of you from your home in the Castro District, Ms. Cruz, directly into our new base of operations at One Embarcadero Center,” Alphie added.
“It seems like you have thought of everything,” Ms. Cruz said.
“Not quite everything, Francesca,” admitted Anna.
“We are all in your debt for the help you have already supply us,” she began.
“The only thing we can offer you for the work you will continue to do is gold,” Anna stated.
“Gold?” I asked.
“How much gold?” David followed up with in quick succession.
“Boys, that wasn’t very nice,” Ms. Cruz, said smiling.
Brother Delgado started chuckling.
“Not to worry Seńorita Cruz, we don’t take offense at their enthusiasm,” he replied.
“But as Chief Suarez has said all we have to offer is only gold.”
“We can start you off with five pounds apiece until we can get some more fabricated,” Anna said.
“Five pounds of gold?” I asked.
“Apiece?” David followed with.
“We’ve had them made up into American Golden Eagle coins, but we don’t have that much with us right now,” confessed Anna.
“We will have more sent down with the engineers when they beam down,” she informed them.
“That is if five pounds is sufficient?” asked Anna.
“That’s over a hundred and twenty five thousand dollars in today’s market,” David said.
“We have no idea what that means, so would that be enough?” Anna asked.
“Yes, quite enough Ms. Suarez, in fact more than enough,” Ms. Cruz admitted.
“Holy cow, Ms. Cruz,” I said.
“You can’t take advantage of them right now boys,” Cruz advised us.
“I know you’re tempted too but right is right,” Ms. Cruz acknowledged.
“Neither of you is taking advantage of us Francesca,” said Anna.
“They are fulfilling a need we have and we are paying them and you for services well rendered,” Anna confessed.
“No more talk of money now boys, or should I say employees”” Anna asked.
“Run along and we’ll see you later this afternoon after you have rested and Ms. Cruz has talked with your parents,” she said.
The physical search for the missing shuttle was completed and the Marines conducting the search found only one shuttle missing.
The missing ship was a small ship to planet shuttle that seated only four passengers.
In combination with the search for the missing shuttle, a Security unit also conducted a search for missing personnel.
They had already tossed the quarters of the two-suspected shooters upside down hunting for clues to why they would try to kill the Earthlings and found nothing.
The only information they could find in their quarters of the two suspects are what jobs they performed, who hired them and their names.
The hunt to find further information connecting the Dominicans with these two assassins hit a solid, brick wall.
Until the further search for missing personnel produced a surprising, find.
Also missing and unaccounted for were the two Dominican friars, Diego de Morillo and Antonio de Jesus.
Unfortunately, it was not enough definitive evidence to convince the Admiral that the entire Dominican party aboard were behind the attack.
Therefore, the rest of the Dominican delegation went about their daily business as usual, little knowing that they did attract the interest of at least one crewmember.
‘El Gato’ Torres needed to figure out what happened down on the surface, he knew in his gut, that everyone in the landing party was lying to him about the attack.
He also knew from prior experience that the Dominicans could get away with murder with no one in the admiralty batting an eye at them.
So how could he investigate the landing party made up of two clerics, the Admiral’s son and a young Chief Warren Officer?
Why should he investigate another Dominican related incident and again get no justice for the victim?
His career barely survived that last investigation and the only redeeming factor was Admiral Marinero’s belief in his abilities.
Now he wanted to investigate his benefactor’s son because he has a gut feeling.
He knew one of the landing party, was working with the Dominicans because someone had leaked the whereabouts of the two women.
Even if he could find evidence, whom did he bring this information to?
Torres worked by himself now, ever since that last case, but he knew that he could not work this case on his own.
Whom could he trust, another member of his intelligence team?
Probably not, how many of them had Dominican connections?
Their influence reached deep into the New Spanish Empire’s society.
He learned that the hard way, he did not need another lesson where that was concerned.
So where did he turn?
Furthermore, what of the missing friars, he wondered.
They are definitely not on the ship, so most likely are on Earth and probably in the San Francisco area where the landing party is setting up base.
Unless they can recruit more foot soldiers, which they should not be able to, they will not be able to touch the party or their guests, he thought.
Theoretically, they will not stand a chance against the hardened veteran Marines.
Torres was not going to make the same mistake he made last time by underestimating their abilities.
He now believes their nickname ‘The Hounds’ to be an apt nickname because of their tenacity to doggedly stick to a task until its completion.
The question was not will they try to attack the landing party or the Earthlings, but when and how?
Maybe if he had an answer to that question then he would know which one of his superior officers aboard the San Marcos was working with the Dominicans.
The away mission needed to know who helped the friars gain access to the shuttle and who kept the launch away from everyone’s notice?
Who also had the ways, means and the authority it would take to cover this fact up?
He needed to find out quickly which one of his superiors helped the Dominicans because the fate of this mission could very well hang on this last question.
The command post’s reconstruction was moving along very well when all of the landing party moved into the offices.
The women left the Hotel Drisco and the men were finally glad to leave the cramped quarters of the Lander for bigger, better ones at the post.
The engineering staff placed a portable transporter in the offices for convenience and a portable fabricator so that they could create small models of potential fighter crafts.
The parents of both David and AJ were excited that their sons had an opportunity to make a little extra money over the last months of summer working for their former teacher Ms. Cruz.
She had told them that they were going to her help with a computer program that she was working on.
She promised that they would not work too hard or too long. She would pick them up every morning and bring them back in the afternoon.
What the parents did not know was that when everyone was in bed and sleeping, the teens continued their work at the command post because the engineers beamed them there.
The young had little need for eight hours of solid sleep besides they were so excited about what they were accomplishing that sleep held little interest for them.
Within a couple of days, the security of the offices was complete and the real work began.
Slowly but surely the new starfighters were being tested, rejected because they did not work, redesigned and tested again.
The teens decided to each work on a different part of the project.
AJ started working on fighter simulations and David took over as the starfighters designer.
AJ was good at fighting and David was good at coming up with war craft designs.
The work went quicker when they switched jobs and within a short time, David had designed, with the help of the three game designer companies, six different types of starfighters.
David believed he covered all the contingencies regarding the starfighters abilities to do a variety of duties and tasks.
He designed long-range starfighters that were quicker and leaner of weapons systems that allowed the Empire to use them as skirmishers or harassing forces to follow the enemy after their defeat.
Then came to medium starfighters created to fight directly with the enemy’s own starfighters.
Next on the list of starfighters were the medium heavy starfighters designed to fight lighter cruisers, smaller battleships and weapon platforms.
One-step, above the medium heavy fighters was the heavy starfighters designed and created to fight bigger battleships or groups of enemy fighters.
Finally, David’s ultimate starfighter design ended with the mini deathstars.
These were his crowning achievement he created the minis to take out small convoys or small to medium groups of starships.
Unlike the Star Wars version, these minis did not have the ability to take out an entire planet but they did have enough firepower to destroy a small fleet.
The Princess worked with David not on the design of the starfighters but on their weapon systems.
She had already uplinked to every computer game, science fiction book and movie on Earth as well as all the classified weapon’s system that have ever been created.
She took all of that information and created hybrid offensive weapons, taking a little bit from here and a little bit from there.
She saw the potential of all the destruction that these other systems could create and went beyond them to create the weapons that would destroy the killers of her people.
She agonized each night while Sister Maria comforted her.
Nevertheless, she continued her work burying her compassion and humanity so that her people would be free of the threat that the Invaders posed.
The drones working with AJ, David and Anna took the starfighters schematics, overlapped them with AJ’s simulation programs, and created the new starfighter’s first holographic simulator.
AJ wanted to be the first one to try out the new simulator.
He got in and strapped down because this simulator moved a complete 360 degrees.
The rotation motors driving the simulator worked off the direction the pilot pointed the craft.
Wherever the pilot wanted the ship to go the simulation capsule, would react and go that way.
Up, down, sideways and around it moved the way the pilot directed it to move.
There were no physical controls, sight and thought directed this starfighter and when the human pilot was not quick, enough for the maneuvers the craft’s drone took over.
They believed they covered everything before AJ strapped himself in.
He would be the first one to find out if they had worked out all the bugs or not.
“This is so cool, Dave you wouldn’t believe it,” I said.
“I’ll be in there the minute you leave,” he said.
“So just get to the planned simulation sequence and let me get a shot at it,” David replied.
“Okay, powering up,” I said.
He flipped a switch in the cockpit that began the sequence of powering up the simulator/starfighter.
The power came on and as soon as it did all of a sudden, all the other power sources in the room began to drain.
The engineering staff dedicated to monitoring the simulation realized that there was a problem.
“What’s going on?” David asked.
“I don’t know kid,” said an engineer.
Anna, who was next to David watching the first tryout of the new simulator, shouted, “Shut down all power sources!”
The engineering staff all scrambled to do what she wanted, but were not successful for a few moments and then one by one the power relays began to shut down.
Finally, after a minute or so the simulation chamber was completely quiet.
“AJ?” she asked.
“AJ can you hear me?” she repeated.
“Are you alright?” David asked.
Anna pointed to the simulation door.
“Crack that open immediately,” she ordered.
“We are not getting any readings or audio on AJ,” she stated.
“Hurry please!” she demanded.
The power surge sealed the door closed and the engineers worked hard to get the chamber door open.
After what seems like eternity, they were finally able to cut the door open using a low power laser.
David, Anna, Lieutenant Marinero, Ms. Cruz, Brother Delgado and Sister Maria rushed to be the first ones to help AJ out of the simulation chamber.
The door opened and a very still form of AJ Turner greeted them.
Nobody remembers who screamed out first for the medical staff, nobody remembers which one of the drones physically cut AJ out of the chair and rushed him to the transporter pad, and finally nobody could recall who beamed AJ and the drone up to the ship’s sickbay.
However, everyone remembers that they all beamed aboard the San Marcos after the crying and shock wore off, to find out AJ’s fate.
They were all crammed into the waiting room outside the emergency surgical room silently praying for the kid who had come to mean so much to them.
That is where Major Allen found them all.
“I just heard about the accident, how’s he doing?” Allen asked.
“We don’t know yet, Major,” Marinero said.
“He’s been in there for a couple of hours and nobody has come out here to say anything to us,” he admitted.
“A couple of hours?” asked Allen.
“You guys usually don’t take that long to patch someone up, do you?” Allen continued to ask.
Lieutenant Marinero motioned the Major over to a hatch leading to the outside passageway with a jerk of his head.
The Major caught on and followed the Lieutenant outside.
“Sorry, sir I just didn’t want you to further upset David and Ms. Cruz,” Marinero stated.
“That’s understandable, Lieutenant,” Allen said.
“I shouldn’t have said anything aloud like I did, sorry,” he apologized.
“You are new to all this,” began Manolo.
“In fact you are all new to this kind of medical technology but you are correct in your estimation of how quick we are in our treatments,” he admitted.
“I thought as much,” replied the Major.
“When I was in sickbay I hardly ever saw someone admitted and when they were they were in and out in a flash,” he admitted.
“We heal quickly and most of the time the little dings or scratches we get aren’t enough for us to bother the doctors with,” he explained.
“Yeah, a medic told me when you guys were taken away five-hundred years ago the Rths upgraded your biological systems,” James said.
“We’re not supermen Major,” began Marinero.
“But we do have a few things that have been changed to make us a little stronger and heal quicker.”
“And because of those traits within our blood, Ms. Cruz now has been changed a little as well,” he admitted.
“What do you mean?” asked the Major.
“She was told before she left that when she came in she needed blood because of her wounds,” Manolo said.
“The doctors gave her a transfusion of her blood type but with the extra genes packed inside,” he continued.
“She is not like one of us but she is not like one of you either,” he admitted.
“And she didn’t have a problem with that?” James asked.
“Why would she?” Marinero asked.
“She is still alive just a little more improved,” he replied.
“But that didn’t happen to me right?” Allen asked.
“Not to my knowledge Major,” admitted Manolo.
“I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not,” replied Allen.
“What do you mean?” asked Marinero.
“I mean I’m stuck with you and you’re stuck with me in my less than perfect state,” he stated.
“I’m sure we can change that for you if you’d like,” informed Manolo.
“When this current crisis is over,” he continued.
“I’ll talk to Doctor Sanador to see if they can start giving you gene treatment to improve your health.”
“You guys can do that?” asked the Major.
“Yep and we can do a lot more, if you want,” Marinero informed him.
“But first let’s go back and see if there’s been any news about AJ.”
They went back in and Manolo caught the last end of the silent conversation that Anna and Brother Delgado were having.
‘I am starting to get really concerned now, Brother,’ Anna said nonverbally.
‘I am as well, Princess,’ Delgado replied.
‘We can’t lose him Brother Delgado,’ she stated.
‘He means so much to me, I mean us,’ she admitted.
‘You can’t think like that,’ Delgado said.
‘He is in God’s hands now and you must be strong,’ he advised.
‘Why must I?’ she asked.
‘It was because of me that he is in there right now,’ Anna continued.
‘It is because of me that he could be dying.’
‘It is because of me that we’ll never be able to see him again and smile at his stupid jokes,’ she declared.
‘It’s because of me that his parents have lost a child, their only child,’ she stated.
‘Your sister was right when she accused me of using the boys!’ she exclaimed.
‘I was not right, Anna,’ Sister Maria said interrupting.
‘You were,’ she stated.
‘What have I missed?’ asked Manolo.
‘Just Anna throwing herself in front of a bun,’ Delgado said.
‘A bus,’ Anna replied.
‘Not a bun, a bus!’ Anna screamed and then broke down.
‘Is being a killer all I am good for Sister?’ she asked broken hearted.
‘Will I ever be anything other than a destructive force against all I hold dear, Brother?’ Anna continued asking.
‘This is not why I came on this journey,’ she admitted.
‘This can’t be His plan for me, can it?’
‘Am I to be His Sword?’
‘Am I to be His Weapon?’
‘I cannot handle this,’ she stated.
‘I’m not strong.’
‘I’m not a warrior,’ she admitted.
‘I’m just a girl, a very tired, lonely and scared girl,’ she said.
‘I’m not a killer.’
‘Oh, Sister, what have I become?’ Anna finished wailing to herself.
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