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1f. Interlude 1 - Part 1 - Cover Up

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Cover Up

August 2268

Gideon sat at the desk in his quarters, looking down at the two pictures in front of him. They were hard copies of screen shots taken from security camera vids. Those vids had since been erased from the Excalibur’s records.
It had been a busy few days since Gideon and his team had returned to the ship after their visit to Eriadne B. And what a visit it had been. It had certainly lived up to the Apocalypse Box’s forecast of, "Much danger. Much pain. Much pleasure." Of course, Gideon now knew that it had been Lucas Buck speaking from the Box. And just how had Lucas known what awaited them? Or had he just been blowing smoke up Gideon’s ass? Knowing Lucas, almost certainly the latter. Gideon had been warned that the Box lied but he’d ignored those warnings. Now he wished he’d burned the damned thing as soon as he’d set eyes on it.

 

The day after their return to the Excalibur, Gideon called a meeting of his senior team in the conference room. He made his proposal, then waited for their response. Initially, there was a stunned silence. Interestingly, it was Sergeant Healy who responded first.
“I don’t see how that’s going to be possible, Captain. I mean, too many people saw them. Not just you people,” he waved his hand to include everyone who sat around the table, “but my people, the shuttle pilots, even people on the Excalibur saw them arriving and being taken to the Brig. Even if we could fudge the electronic records, how do we deal with the crew? And I don’t understand why this is necessary?”
Gideon leaned back in his chair and said, “Let me answer your second question first. You want to know why I’m proposing that we remove all details of the sisters’ existence from our reports and from our records.” That was what had left everyone sitting around the table speechless.
“There are two main reasons. One is to help us, the other to save them. And I mean literally save their lives.”
Max Eilerson sat forward and said, “So how will pretending the sisters don’t exist help us?” Trust Max to go straight for the issue of self-interest.
Gideon explained. “What impact do you think it would have on the reputations of everyone who went down to Eriadne B if Earthforce found out what happened there? How easily we were captured. How we were held for days without the ship having any idea of what was going on. And what we all did during that time.” He looked over at Healy. “You’re responsible for security on the Excalibur and the safety of the crew when we’re planet-side. How would this reflect on you and your people if it went on your records?”
Healy’s face paled. “I… You… OK, I see where you’re coming from. But I still don’t see how we’re going to make it work.”
Gideon smiled and said, “If you explain to your people that we’ve decided—for their sake of course—that no mention of their capture and imprisonment—and what they got up to while they were in their cells—will be entered on the record, do you think they’d keep their mouths shut about what actually happened down there and who did what to who?”
Healy nodded vigorously. “Damn right they would! I’ll make sure of it.”
Gideon kept a straight face but he happened to know that Healy had been held in a cell with a rather attractive Marine. Given the strength of Deborah’s projections, it was likely that that pair had become more than friends during the time they were help captive. Fraternization with junior crewmembers was frowned upon by Earthforce and could impact on Healy’s service record and pension.
Gideon nodded. “Then let me worry about the security vids on board. I’m assuming that the rest of you can keep your mouths shut?” He looked around the table as each person there nodded their agreement before he went on, “As for the crew who saw the women as they were taken from the Landing Bay to the Brig, we’ll say and do nothing to make them think any more about it. If we keep quiet, then they’ll have no reason to even think about the incident. I’ll deal with young Roberts and his friend myself.” The young Lieutenant who’d accompanied them on the trip to Eriadne had formed a firm [Very firm!] friendship with the yeoman he’d been imprisoned with. Gideon knew that the two of them wouldn’t want details of how that friendship had been formed [and pursued, although I doubt if either of them was trying very hard to get away,] to leak out.
It was Luke Raven who asked the inevitable other question. “And how will this save the sisters’ lives?”
The Captain leaned forward and looked around the table. Max, Dureena, Matheson, Raven and Healy looked back at him, waiting for his response. It was John’s first day out of his quarters, and he still looked pale after being shot in the chest while down in Eriadne. It had been touch and go for a while, but Luke Raven, [or maybe it was Lily,] had performed miracles and saved John’s life. He still wasn’t back on duty, but Gideon had thought his presence at the meeting essential. John had skin in the game.
Gideon responded to Luke’s question, “We all know about the ‘powers’ the sisters have. What do you think would happen if Earthforce, and then Earthgov found out about those powers?”
He waited for a moment to let his question sink in, and then went on, “John can tell you that the Psionic Monitoring Commission and the Bureau of Telepath Integration aren’t that different from the old Psi Corps.” Gideon looked over at Matheson who grimaced and nodded. “So how do you think the Joneses would react to finding out about the existence of an empath, a powerful telekinetic and someone who can block teeps and gets visions of the future? They’d be taken to some dark basement in Geneva and examined down to molecular level. They’d almost certainly never see the light of day again.”
Gideon watched as John and Luke Raven both paled. John’s lips formed the word, “Lily,” but he didn’t speak it aloud.
Turning to Max and Dureena, the captain went on, “And do you think Earthgov would let Ilas go once they found out what she could do? She’d be taken to another basement somewhere and experimented on until they worked out how she shapeshifts. I doubt she’d survive the experience.”
Looking around at his team, Gideon said quietly, “I don’t want that for any of them. And the only way I can think of to protect them is to remove all trace of their existence from our records. We report on the technology we found down on Eriadne B and we can mention the friendly Brakiri colony, but nothing else. John and I will work through the Excalibur’s security records and make sure that every image, every indication of the sisters’ visit to the ship is erased. Of course, it would be easier if Galen were here to help, but he seems to have taken himself off somewhere, and we have no idea when he’ll return. So we’ll make do with what we’ve got and I know Lieutenant Matheson will be motivated to do a thorough job.” He smiled at John, who smiled back and nodded.
Gideon turned to Eilerson. “Max, can we rely on you to make no mention of the sisters in your reports to IPX?
Eilerson hesitated and then in response to a sharp jab from Dureena’s elbow said hurriedly, “Of course. IPX will be so happy about the tech we found that they’ll never look beyond the superficial details I’ll give them about the planetary inhabitants.”
The captain then turned to Luke Raven. “Luke, we’ll need your help with erasing the Medbay records as any changes to those need to be authorized by a senior member of the medical team. And can you do anything to encourage your team to be discrete about the things and people they saw after you brought John back from Eriadne?”
Luke frowned for a moment then nodded. “The medical records are easy enough. We never did tell anyone how John came to be injured, so we can just change the records to show it was an accidental PPG discharge and you,” He pointed at Gideon, “were treated for burns associated with the same accident. Then we can erase everything related to Angel’s treatment. However, the people are more difficult. But if I tell them that you, John and I could all get into serious trouble about that accident, and there would also be problems for us if anyone were to find out that we allowed planetary inhabitants on board for treatment without authorization, I think that could do the trick. They’re a loyal bunch. They’ll keep quiet.”
Gideon nodded and looked around the table. “So do we have an agreement?” Every head nodded. “Then let’s get to work to make sure that as far as the Excalibur, Earthforce and Earthgov are concerned, the sisters don’t exist.”

 

Now sitting at his desk, Gideon had in front of him two of the only pieces of evidence left. One was a full length shot of Deborah and the other of Angel. Dureena and Max had each retained a single hard copy image of Ilas, while John and Raven had their own copies of a picture of Lily.
Gideon looked from one picture to the other and back. The image of Deborah had been taken when she’d entered the Brig. Her head was held high and her face was frozen into a blank stare. Her shoulders were back, emphasizing her full breasts that really didn’t need any further emphasis. When his eyes travelled down the rest of her body, he felt himself becoming aroused at the sight of her flat belly displayed below the cut off sleeveless t-shirt she wore, and the skintight leather pants that clung to her hips and long legs, showing her spectacular figure to advantage. He’d never seen her dressed like that, as Lucas had been in control of his body when Deborah had arrived on the ship and she’d changed into a ridiculously ill-fitting ship suit by the time Gideon had regained consciousness in Medbay.
[If… no, when I get back to Eriadne, I’ll have to ask her to wear that outfit for me. Although if she does, she won’t be wearing it for long.]
The captain shifted in his seat to ease the discomfort caused by his arousal and moved his gaze to the other image. Angel. Trouble wrapped in a body to die for and with a face to match her name.
This image had been captured when Angel and Lucas had arrived on the Excalibur together. Gideon had cut his own image from the picture so all that could be seen of him was his hand on Angel’s arm, steering her out of the Landing Bay. While it had been Gideon’s hand on Angel’s arm, Lucas Buck had been using it at the time, something Gideon had nightmares about. Dreams of being trapped in the Apocalypse Box had woken him screaming and gasping for air every night since he’d got back to his ship.
In the image, Angel was wearing a red halter neck top that displayed her cleavage beautifully and left her shoulders and arms bare. It was cut just below her breasts, leaving her flat belly exposed. She also wore skintight black leather pants covering her slender hips and long legs. Gideon found this image equally arousing.
Thinking back, he remembered mentally comparing the two sisters to cats. Deborah a Siamese, sleek, beautiful and intelligent, domesticated but still capable of clawing or biting if mishandled. Angel was a wild cat. A panther, stalking her prey in the night. Gideon was still angry at the things Angel had done to him. Tying him down, riding him until his wrists and ankles had bled, then leaving him tied up and in pain. But worse was when she cast her ‘spell’ and ejected him from his own body, replacing him with Lucas Buck.
Gideon had wanted revenge for that and he’d got some payback in the library on Eriadne. He’d never raped anyone in his life and was appalled even thinking about it, but he’d come damn close to rape with Angel that day. If she hadn’t been so obviously willing, the way he’d taken her, brutally, almost violently… He pushed away the guilt and shame and moved back to contemplating Deborah’s image with a smile.
She really was an Amazon, only a few centimeters shorter than him, with long legs, narrow waist, rounded hips and breasts that drew his hands and his mouth like magnets. Having sex with her had been nothing short of spectacular. A projecting and receiving empath, Deborah sent out her orgasms and felt his, too. Somehow she wove their climaxes together, building them, creating a positive feedback loop that seemed to go on forever. It was the most intense and intimate experience Gideon had ever had with a woman. It also helped that he liked Deborah, respected her, enjoyed her company, and he couldn’t wait to get back to Eriadne and have sex with her again. Deborah was someone who could become a friend as well as a lover.
Looking back at Angel’s image, Gideon couldn’t imagine them ever becoming friends. But that didn’t stop him lusting after her. She was exactly the type of woman he’s always been drawn to with her raven hair, bright blue eyes and perfect body. He remembered ripping the red dress from that body and throwing her, naked but for the remaining shreds, onto the library table and taking her hard and fast. It had been exhilarating and deeply disturbing, which just about summed Angel up.
Gideon wondered whether it would ever be possible to make love to Angel, rather than just having rampant sex with her. For a moment he closed his eyes and imagined what it would be like to untie that red halter top, exposing Angel’s breasts to his hands and mouth. Then he’d peel off those skintight pants and she’d stand naked before him. He’d lift her into his arms and carry her to a bed where he’d lay her down gently, stripping his own clothes off quickly, so he could join her on the bed.
The image that Gideon conjured of Angel’s naked body spread out on the bed before him aroused him even more. In his mind he lay on bed beside her and started kissing her, starting at her mouth, then moving down her neck and shoulders before reaching her breasts, where he’d linger for a while, using his mouth and hands to arouse her. Then he’d move on down her body, lingering again on the ridiculous little unicorn tattoo on her hip, before moving to lie between Angel’s legs, entering her with his tongue and using his mouth to pleasure her.
Well into the fantasy now, Gideon imagined lifting Angel to the edge of orgasm, then shifting his position until he was lying above her, poised to enter her, then with one long, slow, gentle thrust…
Gideon opened his eyes and shook his head. Who was he kidding? Sex with Angel would never be like that. She’d use her powers to flip him on his back, then hold him down while she jumped on top and rode him hard until she came. She wouldn’t give a damn about his comfort or satisfaction. The little witch would most likely just walk away, leaving Gideon to finish himself off. Which looking down at the bulge in his pants he realized was what he was going to have to do right now.
With a deep sigh, the captain lifted the images from his desk and moved carefully and uncomfortably to the secret cupboard where he’d once kept the Apocalypse Box. He placed the images inside then locked the cupboard door, first with a key then with a voice lock. Gideon knew that before he went back to Eriadne he’d need to make his mind up about what, [or who,] he wanted. [Having both isn’t an option, unfortunately. But a man can dream.]
Reminding himself that his recent dreams had been nightmares, [And whose fault is that?] Gideon walked back to his desk and picked up another report. Anything to keep him awake. Anything rather than suffer another of the nightmares that haunted him.