Part 11 - Dreams DeferredMature

Captain Wilkes always sat at an angle in her command seat when she was concerned. This, among other things, was a habit she picked up when she commandeered her second vessel.

Fifteen years ago, Earth was the most secure center of humanity's prosperous interstellar empire. She had dreams of becoming a Psychologist, but she had no money for university. In what she now suspected was a flight of madness, she joined the Nordic Space Command for their University sponsorship.

Maybe blast a few pirates for the United Nations Coalition Navy, she'd thought, then graduate four years later and leave it behind for a better life.

She imagined the summers in the Epsilon Eridani system. A nice house somewhere near the financial district of New Kyoto on planet Coronus, where she would raise a family and do what she could to help those in need. Those dreams were now gone, deferred.

The Intifada rebellion seven years ago shook the foundation of humanity's interstellar empire. The plague emerged at Paradise, and she was eventually moved from her normal line of duty to supervise Unit 03 as part of the Project Redemption special warfare program.

There were other similar bio weapons in Project Redemption, she knew. She had read about Unit 02, humanity's Sword of Mercy. There were references to the existence of a Unit 01 at her briefing, code namedThor. Were they off fighting distant battles, and were they assigned to an officer as Unit 03 was assigned to her?

Captain Wilkes shifted straighter in the seat, ran both hands through her auburn hair. The extent of Project Redemption was another day's worry. Her biggest concerns were her Unit 03, and the plague.

She browsed Unit 03's archives for the mission log to the space elevator. There were folders with videos, annotated high resolution pictures, and audio. Sometimes she felt strange while literally browsing through another person’s memories.

She replayed the video feed from the moment the Cyclops emerged. This hulking biped was obviously part of the Acolyte strain. Wilkes copied these files to her palm size computer for later reference. She browsed out, into the latest mission log and replayed Unit 03's sortie against what could only be described as a dragon.

Wait, a dragon?

She fought back a sad laugh and processed the high resolution video. The intensity of its directed energy beam confirmed her earlier guess that it was indeed starship grade plasma.

She knew the dragon was large, but she cross referenced its silhouette against a typical drop ship. The dragon was three times larger, and yet the thing accelerated to Mach 2 in seconds ...utterly impossible with wings.

Something else was at play. Were the individual strains of the plague evolving and able to use some unknown form of propulsion? After the Cyclops emerged among the Acolytes, and the dragon from the Lotas, she was starting to believe that evolution was the case.

Captain Wilkes copied the cross referenced files, the engagements with the Cyclops and the dragon, and sent the files to Admiral Ng'ambi up in the reclaimed orbital defense platform.

The End

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