Over the next few weeks, Lanie tried to call Cody several times, and even left a message but received no reply.  Finally putting him behind her, she concentrated solely on her academics.  The roommate situation didn't improve either.  Spending as little time in her room as possible, she had searched for a quite spot to be alone elsewhere.  She found one the hologram buildings had small rooms that simulated places on Earth.  If she found one empty, she locked the door behind her.  At first, she took advantage of the privacy to cry.  She mourned for her life on earth, and Cody, she felt quite alone.  Alone, it was something she was familiar with, and now she realized just why she preferred it.  She didn't have to feel anything.  Lanie became the Ice Queen again, blocking out all that was in the way of her goal.  At least, there would be no more crying.

Taking no one as a close friend, she mechanically went to her classes and studied hard to be the best.  Wanting to be sure she was offered a Captain's position, she did what ever it took to be top of her class.  The professors loved her as a student, and her thirst for knowledge knew no bounds.  When she wasn't in class, she was either studying, reading a book for pleasure, or at the gym, keeping in top condition. 

Her roommate JackASS received a Captain's commendation at the end of the year and rubbed Lanie's nose in it.  He waved his orders in front of her face, "This is as close as you will ever get to one."  He smirked.

Glad to find out budding Captain's were roomed in another building, she was happy to see him go.  After he tortured her with his orders, she was sure there was a good possibility of him being strangled in his sleep.

The luxury of having no roommate was short lived.  A mousey little girl stumbled into the room about a week after JackASS left, spilling the contents of her arms all over the floor.  Lanie was on her bed reading, looking up long enough to see who it was, she went back to her book. 

The girl mumbled a quiet, "Sorry." and picked up her things.

Lanie closed her book with a sigh.  "Hey."  She held out her hand.

The girl instantly smiled, taking Lanie's hand, "Hi!  My name's Cleo."

"Hi Cleo, my name's Lanie."

"The Ice Queen?"  The girl's hand covered her mouth, "Oh gosh I'm sorry."

Lanie gave her a tired look, and then started to help her pick up her things, "Great."

"Really, I'm sorry, that was rude of me."

"No it's all right.  It's kinda true.  If you stay outta my way, I'll stay outta yours."

"It's just that...even on Earth; well...people talk about the girl who wants to be a Starship captain.  You're kinda famous."

Lanie stopped and studied the girl, not sure if she was teasing her or not.  "Really?"

Cleo nodded.

"Well then, there's no way they can refuse me a commendation at the end of this year!"  Lanie said smiling.

"I hope you make it.  I wanna be an instrument tech and be on the bridge, maybe I'll be on your ship in the future, that'd be cool!"

Cleo was a definite improvement over JackASS.  Although they didn't become best friends, Lanie was friendly to Cleo to a point.  Cleo loved the social aspect of being at the academy, and was always going to one function or another, and always tried to persuade Lanie to go with her.  Lanie continued to refuse, time after time.

"You know, there is a saying about all work and no play..."  Cleo teased her, when Lanie refused yet again to go out to a social function.

"Well let me ask you this.  Would you rather be on a ship with a Captain who studied hard and was the best Captain ever, or one who partied all the time?"

Cleo sighed, "Fine.  I'll have enough fun for both of us!"  She giggled and left the room.

Lanie smiled at the door Cleo had closed, what a difference a few months made.  Cleo had certainly come out of her shell.

The next few months passed pleasantly.  The time was drawing near that the ten Captain commendations would be awarded.  All the others would receive their job assignments at the same time.  It was like a graduation ceremony.  Lanie had spoke to her parents several times since she had been there, but they never made the trip for a visit.  They promised to be at the ceremony.

On the day they were to arrive, Lanie waited at the spaceport.  It had been years since she had seen them in person.  If it hadn't been for video phones, she wasn't sure she would have recognized them.  She saw her mother first, still quite beautiful for her age, her bottle blonde hair flowing around her face, and her slightly plump figure, Lanie waved.  Her father appeared from behind her mother, a small thin man, who doted on his wife.

After a few hugs and cheek kisses, Lanie helped her parents get to their temporary lodgings.  After settling them in, they had a relaxed dinner, and then she bid them a good night until the ceremony the following day.

Lanie woke the next morning with the excitement of a child on Christmas.  She could hardly contain herself feeling giddy, her cheeks were flushed.  Cleo wished her luck as she left their room and headed for the auditorium.  Everything she ever wanted, and worked hard for was going to come to fruition today.  Her class of over one hundred people stood waiting for the ceremony to start and she took her place among them, waiting.  She caught sight of her parents in the audience and smiled, they looked like proud parents, yet they hardly knew her.

They began with a speech, which seemed to last forever.  Next, they would announce the ten Captains, and then the other less important assignments.  Lanie was trembling with excitement, the next year it would be hard not to aim her Starship towards the end of the universe and start her search for Azano.  She was so close to realizing her dream.

Her attention was drawn back to the podium as they started to announce the names.  She counted down as they were announced, all males, and they had called nine, she would be next.  Preparing to relish the moment, she closed her eyes.


Part 5



Hours had passed, and the journey to the academy was nearing its close, Lanie could feel the shuttle changing speed, preparing to land.  Squirming in her seat with excitement, she tried to get a view of the base from her window.  It was a spectacular sight.  The glow of the moon itself against the backdrop of dark space was dramatic.  The immense clear dome that covered the base reflected the light within it.  Tall, silver, spiral buildings stretched up to the limit of the dome, and she could see smaller darker buildings strewn throughout the landscape under the dome.  The academy was housed under the dome, but Star ships were launched from another area adjacent to the domed area and accessed thru an underground tunnel.

The shuttles were much smaller and could enter the dome through a small runway and air locks that led to a disembarking platform.  There were a few people waiting to return to Earth, not everyone was a student or a professor, some visited family.

Lanie gathered her things, and after notifying the baggage handlers where to send her luggage, she decided to have a look around.  As she left the spaceport, her phone rang.  Not bothering to see who it was, she was sure it was Cody. 

"Hey you!"  She answered her phone, smiling.

"Sweetie!  Dad and I are so sorry we couldn't see you off.  We'll come visit as soon as we can."  Her Mother said.

"Oh hey, it's fine.  Ya know, Cody was there, and yeah I'm fine!"

"All right then, kiss kiss, see you soon."

"Right, Mom.  Bye."  Lanie sighed and dropped her phone back into her purse, disappointed it wasn't Cody.

Although she had looked at the map many times, Lanie took it out and checked it again, intending to walk to the academy building where she would be living.  It didn't seem far, and she started walking.  Whether inside the building or outside, if you were under the dome, the air was filtered and climate controlled.  The air was still and odorless, it reminded Lanie of the air in Azano's spaceship.

 Clearly, walking was not a normal mode of transportation here.  Many times during her walk, the hum of public vehicles broke the silence as they passed her.  The buildings she passed were cold and stark in appearance.  They all had the silver color of steel, with no windows, or architecture to please the eye, just straight lines.  Seeing nothing to hold her interest, she looked up, the glow from the deflected lights on the street, and at the top of the buildings, reflected in the ceiling of the dome and glared down on her.  Focusing on the road ahead of her, she saw the Academy coming into view.  It was the only thing of real color she had seen.  In large golden lettering in an arch above the entrance, were the words Space Academy.

Lanie was mounting the stairs to the entrance when a transportation vehicle stopped in front of the building and several students disembarked, running up the stairs ahead of her.  They chattered and laughed as they entered the large doors into the academy.  She quickened her steps to catch the doors before they closed, following the students.

Once through the doors she stopped, surprised by the onslaught to all her senses.

The noise struck her first, the atrium of the building was filled with students rushing passed her.  There was a burst of color from the bleakness of the street; everything was bright and warm, from the orange carpet to the abstract paintings on the wall.  Stepping into the large room, she wormed her way to a counter in the center; Lanie took her place in line and waited.   

Even though the air was filtered, she could tell there was a dinning room near by.  Her stomach began to growl with hunger the longer she stood in line as odors from the kitchen drifted to her. 

It was finally her turn to register; she gave her name and received a room number, a code, a small information booklet, and a schedule.  The man at the desk pointed to a diagram on the wall and suggested she view it to find her room.  She thanked him, exiting the line, and approaching the diagram.  Lanie got a general idea where she was, and then looked around the room to translate the map to reality.

Seeing the hall that would take her to her room, she started towards it.  Her stomach had other plans and sidetracked her to the dinning room.  She stood in the doorway and watched people going through a cafeteria line and then sitting at one of the tables.  Even with everyone talking at once, the noise level was much quieter here.

Lanie looked at the booklet she had been given to see if there was anything about the cafeteria she needed to know.  Just what she was afraid of, she needed a badge to get in line.  Sighing, she decided find her room and then see about how to get a badge.

Down a long hall she walked, looking for the number of her room.  Plaques on the walls with numbers and arrows helped her find her way.  Arriving at her door, she used her code to open it.  The room contained a bed, desk, and closet for each student.  Each room had its own small bathroom with a shower.  Lanie's room also contained a sleeping man.

Looking at her schedule, she could see she was in the right room.  He must have the wrong room, she reasoned.  She put down the small bag she was carrying and walked to the desk.  Seeing a badge with her name on it, she smiled.  Deciding her hunger took priority over the mystery man in her room, she headed for the dinning room, intending to speak to someone about it before she returned.

After sating her hunger, she approached the desk and stood in line again, waiting to speak to someone about the person in her room.  When it was her turn, she smiled sweetly and said, "There is a man sleeping in my room, and I need someone to wake him and get him to the correct room."

"What makes you think he has the wrong room?"  Said the woman at the desk.

"W-Well...it's a man; I share a room with a man?"

"It's possible.  Do you think on a Star ship there is room to give everyone personal quarters?"

"Um, I don't know, but I will be the captain so I won't have to worry about that."

The woman laughed, "Really.  Well when the guy wakes up, check his room number, but you're probably stuck with him."  She then looked at the person behind Lanie, "Next!"
What she saw was a shimmering, transparent, apparition in the shape of a disk, hovering over the pool.  There was nothing her mind could understand about it, Lanie stood paralyzed, staring.  The more she tried to understand what she was seeing, the more the details of the disk would become clear.  Covering a good portion of the back yard area, it was large.  It appeared to have windows, but she couldn't see through them.  Lanie's hand went to her mouth, and she took a few steps backwards.  Behind her, she heard heavy footsteps on the stairs, blended with metal hitting against metal sound.

Her heart had stopped beating; she drew in a breath and held it.  Spinning around, she saw a shadow standing in the doorway of her room.

Lanie heard her ragged breathing before she could form the words, "Who are you?"

There came no verbal answer, but the shadow bowed.

Turing her head to one side, she tried to decipher the action.  "W-What do you want?" she asked barely above a whisper.

The shadow was a black mass as it stood covering the doorway.  It was tall, maybe six feet or more, resembling a human, yet not.  Appendages such as arms and legs seemed familiar, but other unseen blackness was out of proportion.  It took a step forwards and an arm extended towards her, resulting in luminescence from the window revealing the intruder in more detail.

It was as if Lanie had an electrical shock pass through her body.  Feeling faint, she leaned on a dresser beside her.  Before her stood something not of this earth, she was inches from it, and she visibly trembled as her eyes traveled over the form, taking it all in from head to toe.

Her mind making something familiar out of what she was seeing, it appeared it wore an armor of some kind, including a helmet.  Hoses ran from one unseen place to another.  The being was totally encased from head to toe, and as her eyes moved up to the helmet, she stared into the darkened visor.

The arm it extended was still reaching out to her, her gaze dropped lower to see the hand on the end of it only had four gloved fingers.  She glanced up quickly at the visor, and then down again at the hand, she placed her hand in the being's.  It moved, as if adjusting its stance and it startled her.  She tried to pull her hand away, but it clutched her tightly.

Fear rose in her throat, and she whimpered as she yanked her hand wildly, still trying to free it.

A soft male voice combined with a low static noise said, "Please, don't be afraid."

Shocked that the being spoke English, she stood still, and after a minute, she asked again, "What do you want?"  A flash of light blinded her for a second.

Lanie realized she was no longer in her room.  The transportation was instant, and she knew she was aboard the spaceship.  He had released her, and she stood apart from him in a dimly lit room.  Looking around, although the room was sparsely furnished, it was not what she would have expected.  Nothing futuristic looking, muted colors, and simple pieces of furniture meant for sitting.  Nothing hung on the beige colored walls.  There were no specific odors, but the air was tempered perfectly, and the humidity of the warm summer night was gone.  The only shock came when she looked out a window and saw the Earth spinning amid the surrounding stars, as if it hung on a Christmas tree.

"Are you taking me away?  To your planet?"  She asked, her voice was high pitched and shaky, as she gazed into the visor .

A click, and then the male voice said, "You will be returned shortly" He watched her as he removed the gloves from his hands.

Lanie wanted to believe he meant her no harm.  She tried to calm herself.  As his hands were revealed to her, she saw they were a bluish color.  Her mind began to race, what other differences were there.  Was there a hideous monster under all that armor?  She found she was holding her breath again.  Watching in amazement as he unfastened the bindings of the armor, he opened the breastplate.  The same bluish skin covered his well-toned chest.  He shrugged the armor off one bulky shoulder, then the other.  He stood still for a moment, watching her, and then his hands went about removing the lower part of his armor.


This will be a weekly updated serialized story.  The first installment starts now.

Captain Lanie Romein,
         A.K.A. The Ice Queen
        Yezall Strongheart

Copyright 2012  All Rights Reserved.

Lanie was only fifteen years old when it happened.  Home alone, she walked out to the patio of her parent's home.  The pool lights glowed invitingly.  She took off her sandals, and sat on the edge of the pool, dangling her feet in the water. The quiet was only broken by the sound of the water rippling around her legs.  The house sat on several acres well outside of town.  The night was warm, and a slight breeze spread Lanie's strawberry blond hair across her face.  Brushing the hair from her eyes, she looked skyward.  The usual constellations met her view, as she scanned the sky.

Always having a fascination with the vast darkness of the universe, she wondered who was up there looking down.  Her eyes focused on a distant dot.  As many times as she had gazed into the stars, she knew when something was out of place.  Making a frown as she scrutinized the area surrounding the anomaly, she stood.

"What the heck?" She mumbled out loud.

It wasn't just a dot, it appeared to move, and as she watched it became larger.  Lanie stumbled over a lawn chair as she backed up towards the house.  Her mouth was open, still transfixed on the approaching object, she could hear herself breathing.  It glowed like a star, and it seemed to pulse occasionally.  As she continued to watch, it flashed brightly, and then the light was gone, she gasped.

Lanie looked left and right across the sky, hoping to catch sight of where the light had gone.  Seeing nothing unfamiliar, she ran into the house and up the stairs to her bedroom.  Her telescope already aimed up towards the sky, she looked out her window to find the spot where she had last seen the light, then aiming the telescope there, she looked through the eyepiece.

Knowing it wasn't something as simple as a satellite, or a known space craft, she was sure she had seen something quite rare. Lanie continued to look for fifteen or twenty minutes, before she finally gave up.   Shoulders slumped in defeat, she sighed heavily.   Dragging herself to her bed, she fell across it. Her eyelids became heavy as she looked up at her ceiling.

Her eyes fluttered open, but a bright light prevented them from opening in more than a squint.  Disoriented and confused, she sat up in her bed, shielding her eyes with her hand.  The light blinked out, and it was then she heard the low hum.  Running to her window, she looked out into the yard below.  Her mouth formed an 'O' shape, but no sound came out.