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“Return Protocol”


Return Protocol

I’m still not sure what the title of this series has to do with the story-line. But now we’re down to a smaller set of characters that are making the story better understandable. Most of my confusion before was due to the military folks being British and they have a slightly different rank structure than Americans. Now that we’re only dealing with Noah, Zuri, Finn and a ship’s AI named Yasuko. Oh, there’s also some kind of human/computer entity that has taken over the personality of Smith, a former soldier like the others. He resides with the ship’s AI although it is limiting what Smith can do. Yeah, this is a strange story and it’s getting stranger.

The ship is headed back to Havenhome some eighteen hundred light years distant, but the ship says it can get them there in an instant! That’s simply amazing to Noah who was an astrophysicist working on his PhD. Now they are all just trying to survive this current ordeal they have found themselves in. The ship has identified Zuri as its crew-Captain and all the other humans are recognized as crew. It can and will respond to specific commands by the crew, but there are limits. The ship is absolutely nonviolent. It will not attack anyone or anything, but it can make weapons and armor to keep its crew alive. They can converse with Yasuko just like any other human because she projects herself as a three-dimensional hologram when being talked to. Still, right now she is following her creators programming and that is to return to Haven home. She cannot deviate from that directive.

Now we have to remember that this ship was launched towards earth some 33,000 years ago and has lied dormant all that time. The Stratan soldiers that had come to Earth to find the ship were certainly armed and deadly to fight. The crew aboard the starship had no idea who or what they would find at the end of their journey, so they used simulations created by the ship’s AI to increase and hone their combat skills as much as they could. They did find out that the ship could design and create weapons of any kind desired by each human. So, in this regard, each had their own “weapon(s) of choice”, including flash/bang grenades.

The finally arrived at Havenhome and initially found it totally uninhabited, at least on the surface. Oh, there were dangerous fauna along the lines of insects and worms, but nothing seemingly intelligent. This was very different from the world the ship had left. Havenhome had been thriving with a huge population of Havenites. They had industry and commerce and were highly technological as evidenced by the building of these explorations ships.

They did find an abandoned space station floating above Havenhome. The occupants were long dead and the place was slowly deteriorating. Still, they found operating machines that seem bent on protecting the station. They had to fight their way to the control room hoping to find any information on what had attacked and destroyed most of the space station. What they found was a data plaque of a long dead Chief Scientist named Xxar. They found out that one of the purposes of the space station was to sterilize and decontaminate any ship or personnel returning from long exploration voyages. Apparently, that had failed to get done and some human-like entities called the Stratan had descended on Havenhome and had infected the population with bacteria and other contaminates they could not tolerate. Billions died and the survivors had to go underground to survive at all.

So, Zuri’s team thought they might have to do something to attract the attention of any Havenites living under ground. They set the space station to de-orbit and eventually burn up in the atmosphere or crash on the planet. This did get some response, but it wasn’t what they wanted or expected. Those underground Havenites were heavily ruled by a leader and a council, none of which wanted to give up power. They did not and would not let the Havenites underground realize that Havenhome above ground was once again habitable.

Still, this political intrigue didn’t apply to what the crew of the returned explorations ship. They needed to get the ship’s AI, Yasuko, released from her programming which would then allow her to return these humans back to Earth. They also needed navigation data as to the location of Earth before that trip could be made. So, they had their work cut out for them and hope they would be a whole lot of obstacles placed in front of them. Unfortunately, there were.

So, the story continues in book 3, “[Zuri’s War](”, available on Amazon now.

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