Children Of Earth (Tales from the 23rd Century Book 1)

By: Paul J. Fleming

Maia smiled at this news. Glancing over to Maddox who had turned his chair slightly to listen in on the conversation and the updates on the colonists’ progress. There was a slightly distant look upon his face as his gaze was fixed upon a point in space somewhere over towards Ezri, however it was tinged with a furrowed brow and general appearance of concern.

‘Captain? Maddox?’ she prompted to gain his attention. ‘What’s up, you looked like you were somewhere else for a moment. You hear that? They’re being provided with a facility and rehabilitated. Looks like the Martians are doing all they can to prove how nice they can be should they want to deflect attention from the bad things they’ve done.’

‘Yes,’ Maddox muttered in response at first, then seemed to realise he was being looked at, turned to face Maia and returned her gaze. ‘Well at least they’re finding their families and resolving their past, no matter the Martian’s true reasons for being so altruistic in this affair.’

‘Is everything okay?’ Maia asked tentatively.

Maddox nodded to her with a smile, obviously disguising his true emotion over the subject but enough to deflect her attention at the present moment.

‘Yes, I’m fine. I’m still wondering about that mad AI’s comments around some organisation pulling the strings behind everything. I don’t know, I suppose I was just content knowing the Martians were the bad guys as opposed to some faceless group.’

He shrugged dismissively as if to shake off the concerns he harboured that they had not heard the last of the matter.

‘Things will resolve themselves given time and right now I’d rather focus on that steaming mug of simulated coffee that awaits my eager consumption at Damon’s!’ He said with a charismatic flourish as he turned his chair back to the console and reached forwards to check their navigational settings and commit the engines to full power, but his fingers began to move slower as Ezri spoke to bring incoming information to his attention.

‘Captain, despite her understanding that we have just returned from an arduous escapade as she has phrased it, Dana from Phoenix would like us to quickly divert to check up on one of her old friends.’

Slowly Maddox turned his seat back to face Ezri, a look of resignation on his face as he fixed her with a level stare. Maia was looking at the screen on the console over Ezri’s shoulder and almost gushed with excitement as she read the incoming request.

‘This guy was investigating traces of aliens at a mining operation? Aliens? Epic!’ she said, with a slight apologetic look for her over enthusiasm as Maddox raised an eyebrow towards her in a slightly reproachful glance.

‘Yes Maia,’ Ezri replied whilst still regarding the face of her Captain who was trying not to appear intrigued, but failing and looking ever more so the more he tried to appear passive and uninterested. ‘The professor was on an expedition from the New England Institute with a group of students to carry out an excavation at the site on an asteroid not too far from the edge of the belt. It appears the family owned mining operation has uncovered something rather strange within the rock strata of the asteroid and made contact with the Institute a short while back, but even though the professor and his group were sending daily reports of their progress, there has been no contact from either them or the mining facility itself for at least two days now. They could simply have faulty transmission equipment which would be an easy fix should we need to make a field repair for them.’

Maddox scowled at her for a moment. Then at the happy pleading face of his newest crew-member and then back to Ezri as he gave a well practised shrug and the expression of resignation returned to his face.

‘Okay then, one quick check and then we’re definitely heading to Damon’s for that coffee!’ in the best mock grumbling tone he could manage.

‘Yes Captain!’ Ezri and Maia said almost in unison and Maddox turned back to his station, a wry smile creeping over his expression.

Yes, the coffee could wait a little longer.

‘Let’s go find the professor and his little aliens then,’ Maddox said as he engaged the engines.