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Dear Readers: This is not even a chapter of something I hope will become a book. We'll see. let me know if it does something to you. Thanks.

MONUMENT is the name of the planet. A very old planet. The image of the planet rippled as the very fabric of space twisted a mad jig to allow the starship back into our space. The bright discharges along the four veins running fore to aft, slowly dissipated. The ship looked more like a fish than some machine. Each vein retracted into the ship and a new set appeared. Now the space ship really looked like a fish. It couldn't wiggle it's body, but the two large fins on either side looked exactly like what you would find on a carp.

Through out all of these actions you could not hear a thing. Not a buzz, not a whirr, nor any kind of mechanical or animal sound. The discharges were reflections from another kind of space . To anyone but a Pilot, that dimension was called Hyper-Space. But no Pilot would ever be caught dead uttering those words together. For Pilots, it was The Ocean.

Now was when someone could hear sound. The Pilot was hooked into all of the ship sensors, including the hull integrity. This gave Pilots a sense of sound coming from each star's solar wind. Each star had it's own special sound perceived by the Pilots, as the energy and particles from the star, beat relentlessly at the hull of the ship. For them, the music of the spheres, was quite real.

The Pilot steadied the ship and soaked in the sound of the star. He needed his Navigator to help orient the ship and it's location in the star system. While the Navigator worked on the alignment programs, he was still hooked into the Pilots awareness. Upon re-entering Normal Space, all Pilots began a form of meditation that centered them in themselves, the ship and the universe. For Navigators, this meditation was soothing after the barrage of input needed to navigate through The Ocean of hyper-space. It also allowed them to record important data about local space, filtered through the Pilot.

This particular voyage had quite a few very famous pioneers on board. They started with the Pilot and his Navigator, and included passengers and crew all the way up to the VIP Monument Artist. Why, even the ship was famous.

The Pilot: Daniel Baxter was the inventor of the propulsion control system and sensory feedback links, that allowed spaceships to move through The Ocean of Hyper-Space and Normal Space. He was not the first Pilot. He waited ten years watching man after man become a Pilot, before he finally listened to his Life Partner. He went through the body modification and implant process, before telling Matt Hines what he had done to himself. Daniel's expertise in the aligning of Pilot to Navigator, gave him the assurance that he and Matt would work well together.

The Navigator: Matt Hines was the inventor of the navigation systems and Pilot/Navigator interlink responsible for them arriving where they were supposed to be. Pilot Navigator training was intense for Daniel and Matt. Of Course, being the inventors; they soon held the record for the fastest pair to get the classes completed {one and a half months early}, and the fastest to complete the Apprentice program {six months instead of ten}. The added connection the link gave them, just made their Love for each other stronger.

The Captain: Gloria Mayborn was one of the luckiest captains in Human Space. She became Captain in the field, though she started the voyage as First Mate of the experimental craft, the United Terran Star Fleet, "Andre Norton". A plasma conduit ruptured near the engine bay where the Spacial Flippers were located. The Captain had handed over the bridge so he could show three of the UTSF Funding Committee how the Spacial Flippers extended out from the Maintenance Bay into Regular or Twisted space. The Captain was closest to the Flipper as it began to move outside of the ship, when the Plasma Conduit became over-pressurized and ruptured. The plasma caused radiation burns as the pressure pushed the Captain and one of the committee out with the flipper. Mercifully the vacuum of space ended their cries of agony, along with their pain. The others near the accident, spent months and some almost a year to overcome the burns and the pain. They were healed by the quick thinking of the First Mate, Gloria Mayborn. Mayborn recognized the confusing sensor data and accurately assessed the danger to the ship and crew. Her calm firm behavior settled the crew, saved many who would have died from the radiation as well as the heat burns, by getting the Radiation Suppression System to work for the first time in any ship. Even with the serious damage to one of the starship's prime propulsion systems, she got her crew and passengers home with only the loss of the Captain, one Committee member and one Crew member. So with this sort of earned Luck, her next gift from the gods was being Captain of the starship that had Humans finally meeting another race. Gloria Mayborn was the First Contact Captain. Even more amazing for her, at the time, she had been romantically involved with, "the Man that Healed the World".

The Artist: Joseph Henderson was the reason for the voyage to this alien world named MONUMENT. From the moment he completed his first commissioned monument {a fountain for the mausoleum where the ashes of his best friend lay}, to that morning; Joe had been going full speed from one commission to the next. He didn't even get time to slow down when he lost his parents and fiance to the terrorist bombing of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. He used every piece of influence possible, so he would be chosen as the Artist given the task of making a Monument/memorial to the people of El Paso~Juarez.

The event could have torn the world apart. Terrorists detonated two thermonuclear bombs at the same second; one in south El Paso, one in North Juarez. Millions of innocent people were suddenly obliterated. From the ashes came the kernel of the monument to the murdered millions. A strange glassified artifact of those atomic bomb blasts. Apparently the combined force and heat from the bombs, caused a blob of river sand to become a beautiful faceted, thick 2 foot diameter Disk of Glass. Joe was with the group who found the Disk of Glass. Joe used the Disk of Glass in the memorial along with the holographic recordings of the faces of millions of children. The faces were projected out of columns that appeared to resemble the petals of a chrysanthemum or marigold. Each face seemed to reflect hope, but the second you walked by the column and the holographic projection, a strange non sound was emitted and the projection would cease. After awhile the non sounds combined in your ear and in your mind; the feeling in your heart said 'My Child!'. Every person who went to the Monument left feeling like they lost a child. And that feeling caused the vast majority of adults to become more protective and caring of their own children. And the neighbors children. And that lead to the funding, the terrorist so desperately needed, to dry up. Those spiritual leaders who suggested harming anyone, soon had smaller and smaller congregations. Or more vocal ones, that started to quote their holy books in ways that lead to peace. This angered the hate mongers even more, but they soon lost the power to spread their hateful lies. And within a year of completing the El Paso-Juarez Monument, the whole world was calling Joe, "the Man that Healed the World". He stopped trying to tell people he wasn't personally responsible for the change in the hearts of the world's population. It did no good. It just made people think he was being modest, or it confused them. Joe took to nodding his head and saying as little as possible. The fame isolated him a bit from his casual friends, but it lead him to a relationship with a certain Starship Captain who gained unwanted fame by simply doing her job. They understood each other and took solace in each others company. But for them both. the passion was short lived and left behind a deep friendship. It was at that point the governments of the world gave him the commission to build a monument on the planet MONUMENT.

Navigator Hines transfered the navigational data to Pilot Baxter's Helm Interface. Pilot Baxter shifted mental gears. With slow graceful motions of his hands and body, he adjusted the Andre Norton's position in space. His implants readied the Engines and opened a com-link to the Bridge.

Pilot Baxter said, "Bridge? Pilot Baxter reporting successful re-entry into Normal space. Ship's re-entry location is confirmed. Current heading is dead stop, oriented to Planet Monument's Larger moon, Beloved. Pilot and Navigator stand ready for the Captain's next orders."

On the Bridge, the Captain, the First Mate and the Communications Officer, felt the tension ease. Now they could do their Job. Captain Mayborn cleared her throat and said, "Acknowledged Helm. Stand-by for further orders."

Pilot Baxter and Navigator Hines said in unison, "Aye Aye, Sir. Standing-by."

Captain Mayborn said, "Communications? Hail Beloved Station's Traffic Control and request Docking procedures and Dock Assignment for the Andre Norton."

Communications Officer Patrick El Sombaty said, "Aye aye, Sir. Hailing Beloved Station." He sent the transmission and within a minute, received the data the Pilot needed. He said, "Sir! Docking Procedures and Dock Assignment Received from Beloved Station, and verified Secure. Request permission to transfer Data to Helm."

The Captain said, "Permission granted, Communications."

Com Officer El Sombaty said, "Aye Aye, Sir. Transferring Data. Transfer complete, Sir."

The Captain said ' Helm?" Follow Docking Procedures to Dock assignment and notify the Bridge when Docking is complete."

The Pilot said, "Aye Aye, Sir. Helm is following Docking Procedures, and will notify you when docking is complete."

The Captain said, "Acknowledged, Helm."

The Com Officer said, "Sir? Beloved Station is hailing us. It's the Lead Host requesting a Com Link with the Captain of the Andre Norton. Orders, Sir?"

The Captain said, "Patch him through, Com."

The Bridge Main view screen put a smaller window to the right of center of the view from the starship's fore-camera. The image of the upper half of a heavily muscled Human, filled the little window.

Lead Host Avery McGregore smiled out of the little window on the screen and said, "To the Captain, Crew and all those aboard The UTSF Andre Norton, Welcome to Beloved, Gateway to MONUMENT. As tradition dictates, this humble servant respectfully requests the presence of the Captain and the Race Architect in the Lead Host's Greeting Room, at your earliest convenient moment. At that time I will verify and validate the Race Architect's credentials. After completing that Duty, I will authorize the Captain to release her passengers to customs and request she set up a schedule for the Crew to take shore leave."

The Captain smiled as she saw the First Mate's screen flip up the schedule for shore leave. She said, "Lead Host, Beloved Station? Captain Mayborn here. The Race Architect and I will cheerfully comply with your requests within the hour. A schedule for Crew Shore Leave has already been generated and I will bring it with me for your approval. We will see you soon. Andre Norton, over."

The Lead Host said, "Acknowledged, Andre Norton. Beloved station, Out."

During that conversation, the Pilot maneuvered the Andre Norton down to within a kilometer of the surface of the moon. He then proceeded to Beloved Station's Docks, found the correct Docking Bay and mated with the Docking Portal.

The Pilot said, "Bridge? Docking with Beloved Station is complete and secure. Requesting permission to change ship configuration to Dock Side Standby and permission for Helm to stand down to Secondary Pilot and Navigator?"

Captain Mayborn said, "Helm? Change Ship Configuration to Dock Side Standby . Upon completion of CSC, Helm is granted permission to stand down to Secondary Helm Personnel. Excellent time Baxter/Hines and a very smooth trip."

Pilot Baxter and Navigator Hines said in unison, "Thank you, Captain. Helm over."

The Captain said, "Bridge Out." Mayborn wasn't the tallest of Captains, so when she stood on the raised platform that held the Captains chair and console, she was staring into the very thickly muscled neck of her First Mate.

First Mate Tuilaepa Masinalupe was Samoan with one of those faces that resembled a dolphin. His face had confused a number of young ensigns into thinking nothing was wrong, they weren't in as much trouble as they were, or at least two of his sub-ordinates thought he was actually happy with them. You had to look to his eyes. If they were half-lidded, you were in trouble. If his eyes were fully open then you might survive. Commander Masinalupe had eyes wide open and the bridge personnel were relieved.

Captain Mayborn said, "Mr. Masinalupe, Adjust Ship to Station Time."

FM Masinalupe said, "Com, adjust Ship Time to Station Time and make the appropriate announcement."

Com Off El Sombaty said, "Aye-Aye sir, Adjusting to Station Time." He typed at his console and then announcement tones could be heard throughout the starship.

The Ships Voice said, "All passengers and crew aboard the UTSF Andre Norton please take note. Ship Time is now adjusted to Station Time. Any onboard announcements regarding time, will now align with Station Time. Please adjust any personal time pieces accordingly. Thank You."

Captain Mayborn said, "My Masinalupe, please notify Race Architect Henderson, we will be ready to leave Dockside to present Species Credentials to MONUMENT's Lead Host in one hour. Notify security to be prepared at that time with six Presentation Guard, to accompany us."

FM Masinalupe said, "Aye-aye Sir." His console had an adjustment that allowed him to reach it while standing. He reached over and keyed in the commands to security personnel. He had already constructed the announcement to Joe Henderson and sent that out as well. Just a moment later his earpiece buzzed along with Com Off El Sombaty's. then a scheduling announcement flashed on his console.

FM Masinalupe said, "Race Architect Henderson sends his congratulations on a, "swift swim" and says he will be at the dock port in one hour. Security reports six Presentation Guard will be dockside for inspection in forty-five minutes. Shall I inspect or does the Captain wish to observe?"

Captain Mayborn said, "I trust your judgement Mr Masinalupe. Please thank Race Architect Henderson. Tell security I will be at dock port in fifty-five minutes. You have the Bridge, Mr. Masinalupe.

FM Masinalupe said, "Aye-Aye Captain."

The tactical officer took over Masinalupe's position as the Captain left the Bridge. Masinalupe's eyes closed down a bit as he sat in the Captains chair. They didn't stay half-lidded for long. He stopped wondering about where the Captain was going and said, "Mr Brahms begin Dockside Protocol and notify passengers they may disembark to Beloved Station's Customs in approximately two hours and upon leave being granted by MONUMENTS Lead Host."

Tactical Office Michael Brahms said, "Ay-Aye Commander."

Captain Mayborn pushed the doorbell and waited for a reply. Joe's baritone answer of, "Come in." caused the door to cycle open. He was standing at the desk with papers spread out on it, trying to tie his necktie. He stopped what he was doing and stood up straight.

Joe said, "Hello, Captain."

Mayborn said, "Hello Architect." This got a small smile from him as he struggled with the tie.

Joe said, "Is it wise for us to meet like this?"

Mayborn walked in far enough for the door to cycle closed. She frowned and gestured him to come closer to her. She started to tie it correctly as she said, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Joe said as he looked her in the eye, "Rumor has it that you are romantically involved with one of your officers. I just thought if they were the jealous kind, this would look a little funny."

Mayborn had a look on her face that could have meant a few things. All she said was, "interesting". She finished and gave the necktie a gentle tug.

She stepped back to see how he looked. She said, "You represent the human race very well, Joe."

Joe smiled a lopsided grin and said, "I'll take that as a no, then."

She smiled and said, "You would be correct. He... does not get jealous."

Joe's smile dimmed a little and as he looked down at his clothes he mumbled, "Wonder if he has a brother?" He looked up with his face tipped down for her reply.

Mayborn shook her head and said, "Joe you know that wasn't our problem, and No he does not have a brother. Jealousy or sexual orientation was not our problem. I wasn't able to spend enough time with you and that hurt us both. He and I aren't trying to keep it a secret. It just worked out that way, and you just happen be.. the first person to actually ask. And now I don't feel like telling you."

Joe stepped closer and gave her a hug before she could think of it. She didn't return it but she stayed still. Joe said, "So that's why you came here. You were so happy and wanted to share it with a friend, and all I thought was you came cause you knew how bad I was at tying a tie."

He let her go as he said, "Thanks for the help. And for still being a good friend."

She said, "Your welcome." As she cycled open the door. Just as the door started to close she said, "Don't be late."

Joe called through the closed door, "Aye-Aye, Sir."


Andre Norton's Dock Port

From inside Beloved's Docking ports the Docking portal opened like a flower. Further securing the Ship to the Dock, even as it exposed the interior of the ship to Beloved.

The Honor Guard marched out and took up position. Sergeant Moore silently reported a potential situation and had his men a secondary defensive position. Ready to pull back to the ship if necessary.

But it wasn't going to be needed. The potential situation was one of the Challenging Races protest at entry. One of the accepted traditions. Only six people. Each unarmed. Only three protest signs, each the same. One in their own language,( Terrans go home) and two in english (Terrans Desist). They must be having a hard time with the translator systems.

They were the Vorn. A bipedal reptilian humanoid race that had only been accepted fifty years ago, after twenty years of answering challenges from eleven races. You would have thought they would be a little more forgiving.

No words were exchanged as the Captain and Race Architect stepped on board Beloved Station. They both pointedly ignored the Silent Protest as per tradition.


Well, that's it for now. Let me know if you like these people enough to buy a book. Thanks for reading.

Kevin Lee Dymond