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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 3

The teleport chamber aboard the Kraken, a large, crescent-shaped compartment with tall control panels and high, arched ceilings, was not where Traci expected to be standing when she stepped into the field and off of her bridge. She had expected to be  aboard one of the assault shuttles hovering near her ship’s hull. As Scott and Agron stepped through the field, Kendahl began speaking. He sounded more like a tour guide and less like a hostile soldier.

“I can see by the look on your faces that you did not expect to be standing aboard the Kraken. Our teleporters can actually transport us over great distances if we are near enough to a power collector.”

“Power collector?” Agron asked.

“Yes,” Kendahl continued as he indicated the hallway where they should walk. He waited as Scott preceded him down the hall.

“The power sources of the past were woefully inadequate to support the needs of a growing interstellar empire. By harvesting photons directly from a star, we make available more than enough energy to power any device we can construct.”

“Does the power collector run the teleporter as well?” asked Scott.

“Powers it, yes,” Kendahl said confidently. “It also represents the physics behind its operation.”

“The gateway is the power collector,” Agron said.

Kendahl turned mid-stride to look at the aging councilor. “Very good. Not only does it power all of the devices in this star system, but the majority of the energy draw is sent back to the central power grid. We use the energy to operate local and intersystem teleporters, as well as other high-energy mechanisms. But you will see all of that soon enough.”

Traci noticed that four armed sentries had stepped into formation behind them. She also did not fail to notice the sidearm Kendahl wore in a holster on his belt in addition to the dagger he had used earlier.

As they made their way down the crowded hallway, Traci watched as crewmen aboard the Kraken went about their tasks, carrying parts and supplies, reading instruments, or simply moving from one station to another. In fact, none of them really paid much attention to the newcomers at all, as if captured prisoners toured the flagship every day. These crewmen were either very disciplined or just not very observant.

Kendahl led them through a series of doors until they found themselves filing into a large lounge of sorts, where General Geron was waiting for them.

“Welcome aboard the Kraken,” he said, still seated. “I’m so glad you accepted my invitation,” he said with a hint of wicked glee at his own dry humor. “First Marshal, would you care for a drink?”

Traci wasn’t sure whether or not to feel insulted at not being included.

“Yes, I would,” Scott said. A steward poured him a glass of the same fiery drink Geron was enjoying. Scott looked at the drink for a few seconds, noting how it appeared to swirl in the glass of its own accord. He took a cautious sip, and was surprised that it did not taste like whisky at all--but the fire in his belly was just as potent.

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