"Is there a link I could us to contact our associate?" asked Doc.
"Associate?" asked the captain.
"Yes. His name is Trent. He can only communicate electronically." Aukous said.
"Oh yes. We have heard of this Mr. Trent. I thought he was just a myth." the captain said.
"Very real. He is very real. Ventan thought he could capture Trent. Which leads us to where we are now." Doc explained.
"I know Ventan and his associates are on the top of our list in this area, but I didn't know exactly what your involvement was." the captain said.
"Myth! Trent will be amused with that." Doc snickered.
"Oh yes. There are even Trent cults. Some even think he is a god, or at least a messenger of a god." the captain said with a smile.
"I take that smile to mean your not one of the believers." Aukous queried.
"Not exactly. Never felt the need to leave reality behind. But I don't hold anything against those do. Especially in the war zones. Most of the beings around here have been suffering for hundreds of years. They've been hit with every kind of bio-weapon, radiation, starvation, and just plain ruthless slaughter technique imaginable." the captain replied.
"Well, here's your chance to meet him." the Doc said.
An attendant walked into the room with a portable link.
"Will this do?" he asked.
"I think so. It's just a matter of locating him." Aukous said, as he began trying to figure out symbols.
"Tell me what you want it to do, and I'll push the buttons." the captain said.
"Just say Trent. Put it on repeat. Hopefully he will be able to home in on this link." the Doc directed.
The captain did as requested.
"We could use some sleep. It's been a real long day, and there is no way to know how long it will take Trent to find us. If he can find us." said Aukous.
"While you get some down time, should I go back to where you lost connection?" asked the captain.
"That would help a lot. Thank you." said Doc.
The captain motioned to another officer to escort them to their quarters.
"See if you can get an update for them from the Hospital. And I will see to it we recover your friends remains." said the captain.
The officer saluted, and they left with a wave of goodbye.
"Sargent take this link to communications. Tell them to keep it open and let me know if someone named Trent checks in." ordered the captain.
Two days later the crew back on board their own ship with Hulmara remains. Orin was in bad shape and confined to his bed. Trent had not yet found them, and Pace was consumed with the communications patterns prior to their arrival, looking for a mention of Ventan.
"Thank you for all your assistance, I hope someday we meet again." said Aukous to the Commander in the parting communication.
The military was soon off the screens.
"Have you decided what your going to say to Hulmaras family?" asked Doc.
"She had no family. They died in an accident when she was young. I thought letting her drift into a star would be what she would want. My fault for asking her to join us. I should have never placed any of your in-harm's way." Aukous said staring at his feet.
"Not your fault. We all knew there was a risk." Doc said with a note of insistence.
"Risk? Yes. But, not like that." Aukous replied.
"I'll check on Orin and Pace." the Doc stated leaving the com room.
"I'll a, I'll a leave a communications acceleration unit for Trent so he can catch up. He's probably wondering where we are." Aukous said, leaning over the control panel stabbing at the buttons in robotic motions. There was no one to see the tears making their way down his fixed blank stare.
"Time to check that that arm." Doc said walking up to Pace.
"It's fine." Pace said without looking up.
"It's up to the military and authorities here to deal with Ventan. We did all we could." the Doc said in a conciliatory voice.
"I know. It's just that betrayed feeling I can't shake. It's in my stomach. How could we have been so completely fooled. Do we know that being? Where was it introduced to our plan?" Pace said in an elevated voice, and pounding the table with her fist.
"Somebody had to know we had the surgery. Otherwise, we had no contact with anyone after that. Plus, Aukous invented the navigation layout as we went. Looks good. Your healing fine. I'll check on Orin." Doc said as she left entered to hallway leading to Orins chamber.
The Doc check Orins wound.
"Orin is going to need a Ree hospital real soon." Doc said to Aukous.
"I'm guessing four hours at best. They have a rapid transport on its way to meat us. How's Pace?" Aukous asked.
"Angry about being betrayed." Doc replied.
"As do I." Aukous said with a heavy sigh and shoulder shrug.
A few minutes later Trent announced his arrival over the com.
"Are you up to date?" asked Aukous.
"Not really. I lost contact when those beings began firing on us." Trent answered.
Aukous and Doc filled Trent in on what had transpired.
"I have been able to find out that those who fired on us communicated with a ship far outside the planets gravitational influence. Therefore, no one would have thought of it as being connected to anyone we were involved with. It is now on a transit route to a planet Rullne." Trent said.
"That's a good start. Got the assignment number." asked Aukous.
"No, but the transport was called the Lappa." Trent replied.
Aukous contacted the military.
"They said a transport by that name was destroyed a day ago. No details. Sounds like Ventan covering his tracks." Aukous stated.
"Ok, now elaborate on what it's like to meet yourself." Doc begged Trent.