Essdy began the final part of his story:
After a few days heading towards Thradlum, Eagle, Sparky and the Iguana II were about to enter orbit around that planet.
"'L', open a hailing frequency," Eagle asked his computer.
"I have Xeno-Minister Evor"
"Thanks 'L'. Minister, I am responding to the bounty for the Nimrov Commander David Daniels."
"How did you... Uh, very good."
"I await your landing coordinates to turn over this individual to the proper Thradlumite authorities."
"Uh, yes. Coordinates. Give me a couple of minutes," stumbled Minister Evor.
"I'm not going anywhere," replied Eagle confidently.
"I don't feel right about this," whimpered Sparky.
"Relax. They're a bit xenophobic. This is pretty standard for them."
"Relax? How can I relax? You're taking me to be arrested! How can I relax?"
"If you are innocent, as you claim, then you have nothing to fear."
"That doesn't make me feel any better!"
Minister Evor sent the landing coordinates to Eagle and he promptly landed at the prescribed location. Armed authorities, who were there to take Sparky Daniels into custody, met the ship. Eagle claimed exemption 27, so Sparky wasn't taken into custody, but held inside the Iguana II. This would give the two men more time to converse, and it would be far safer for Sparky. Who knows what would happen if the Thradlumites took him.
Eagle knew Commonwealth law pretty well, so he was going to act as Sparky's attorney. The fact that he knew about exemption 27, was enough to convince the Thradlum court. Thus, Commander Daniels had representation. The interaction between Eagle and the court put Sparky somewhat at ease, be he was still concerned.
Eagle excused himself to interrogate the witnesses. He was certain his friend had nothing to fear. Since this world was part of the Galactic Commonwealth, they couldn't convict him without additional witnesses. It would never come down to a 'he said, she said' scenario.
However, Eagle was hoping to clear this without any court intervention. He was anticipating a strong show from Commander Daniels's human counterparts who should be arriving in a few days. Eagle was going to try to have everything arranged by the time they arrived.
Eagle, using the Galactic standard gestural language, questioned the princess's staff. The princess herself would not be available for questioning. He was very careful not to use his voice. It was a taboo for out-worlders to speak to native Thradlumites. However, the citizens permitted the use of sign language. This is how they conducted business on this isolated world.
The servants backed up the story of the Princess. They were a bit too precise in the series of events in Eagle's opinion. Someone had coached them. It was going to be a battle, but the Galactic Commonwealth would not let something like this to disrupt peace between Commonwealth worlds. He just hoped that the Nimrovs would be aware of this fact. A strong showing would be the key to Sparky's freedom. He didn't know what he would do if these humans did not cooperate with him.
The days waiting for the UNSS Connelly to arrive were spent investigating all possible angles to get Commander Daniels freed. Although he would never let on to Sparky, he was beginning to get worried. He might have to make a break for it with his bounty.
When Eagle wasn't nosing around Thradlum, he spent his time talking about old times with Sparky. He did it to relieve Sparky's misgivings about being there, and he did it for his own well-being. He missed his old friends, and it was good to spend time with one.
With Sparky there, Eagle also got some help with the voice of his computer. Sparky wasn't the best aid in the technical aspects of the voice system, but he remembered 'L's voice well. He knew when Eagle had it right. The two friends spent hours tweaking the computer voice, and reminiscing about their days at the Academy.
The days waiting for the Connelly went by quickly for Eagle and Sparky. However, the UNSS Connelly didn't fare as well. They had a bit of trouble and were nearly a day later arriving at Thradlum than Eagle had anticipated. They had a few narrow escapes from some asteroids and this slowed their trip considerably. The crew was exhausted when they arrived.
Unfortunately, the ship landed in the middle of the Thradlum night. The Thradlum department of Xeno affairs briefed Captain Connelly of the situation before Eagle could do anything. While Captain Caruthers was relieved that Commander Daniels was unharmed, he was a bit upset with Eagle Douglass. Certainly some of this anger was from their days at the Academy.
Instead of contacting Commander Daniels and his captor, Captain Connelly contacted Earth command. It was understandable since it was night where the Connelly and the Iguana II were stationed.
However, this caused a bit of a problem for Eagle. Contrary to Eagle's assumption, the United Nations of Earth's assembly decided that Sparky was expendable. They would allow the Thradlumites the opportunity to try Sparky in their court. With the court geared towards their way of doing things, this could only be bad news for Commander Daniels.
The next morning, Eagle noticed that the UNSS Connelly had finally arrived. Further, there was much activity around the ship, and this could only mean that Eagle wouldn't be able to brief Captain Caruthers before he spoke to the Thradlum bureau of xeno affairs. Eagle was beginning to think that fortune was frowning upon him.
However, Captain Caruthers wished to discuss the situation with Commander Daniels before making further contact with the Thradlumites. With his anger tucked behind his teeth, Captain Caruthers asked Captain Douglass to see the prisoner.
Eagle expected this formality, and he attempted to break the tension by giving Captain Caruthers a warm handshake.
"Hey Nige! Long time no see," started Eagle.
"I am Captain Caruthers of the UNSS Connelly," declared the serious Captain. "I formally request to see the prisoner."
"There are no prisoners on board my ship," explained Eagle.
"I formally request to see Commander David Daniels," insisted Captain Caruthers.
"Your formal request will be brought up at the next council meeting. However, Sparky has been anxious to speak to you," responded Eagle. "If you would like to have a friendly conversation with us, you are invited to do that. However, this is my vessel, and my rules apply. You must leave your Captain-ness outside of my ship."
"Your terms are unacceptable," replied Captain Caruthers.
"Listen Nige," started Eagle. "I know you, and you know me. The events that happened between us were a long time ago. It is time you let them go. We have a great deal to discuss, and your attitude will not do anyone any good. Get over your anger and let's have a conversation like grown-ups."
"I am Captain Caruthers," Captain Caruthers pointed out.
"Yes sir," responded Captain Douglass. "You will wait in this room and I will see if Commander Daniels is willing to grant you an audience."
"Thank you," replied Captain Caruthers.
Eagle realized that he wasn't going to be able to break the ice with Captain Caruthers without Sparky's presence. So, he roused Sparky from his sleeping quarters and briefed him on the situation. Neither of them knew what had transpired during the night. They needed to determine where they stood before they could devise a strategy to get Sparky released.
"Nigel is still upset with me," Eagle explained to Sparky. "He won't listen to anything I have to say, and I have a feeling he has been briefed by the Thradlumites. He may have even communicated with Earth. Therefore, you're going to have to do the talking. We need to know what has been said and to whom."
"Understood," replied Sparky. "It may help me get the correct information if I knew where this is headed."
"We don't have much time, but I'll make this quick," responded Eagle. "This attempted court action is a likely a ploy by the princess for attention. I don't know that for sure, but it is my best guess. If the Earth government stays strong, the Thradlumites will back down. This kind of incident would reflect badly upon the Thradlum world. However, if the inexperienced Earth government allows you to go to trial, then all parties concerned will look bad."
"So you want me to determine what the Earth council has indicated," clarified Sparky.
"Without question," Eagle said. "I also need you to convince Captain Caruthers that I should do all of the talking. I am your official counsel in the eyes of the Thradlum court. Captain Caruthers will likely say things that aren't in your best interest in this situation."
"He's my Captain..." started Commander Daniels.
"He is also inexperienced in dealing with Commonwealth nations. He won't be any help to your situation. We should go."
"You know," interjected Commander Daniels. "You got me in this situation."
"I'm sorry about that," excused Eagle. "I just wanted to spend some time with my old friend. I should have thought this through a little better, but time was limited. Nige! Look who is here to see you."
Captain Caruthers ignored the comment and spoke to Commander Daniels. They discussed the situation completely. Sparky was dismayed to learn that the Nimrov government found him expendable. His training and expertise meant nothing. He was just another useful but replaceable part in the space program.
It took some convincing, but Captain Caruthers finally agreed that Captain Douglass would speak for the Earth Council, the crew of the Connelly, and Commander Daniels.
Once it was all agreed, Sparky and Eagle went to the Office of Xeno Affairs. They were lucky and immediately got a meeting with Xeno-Minister Evor.
"The Government of Earth is quite upset," started Eagle. "They will not stand for this nonsense and demand that a arbitrator from the Galactic Commonwealth be summoned to preside over this matter."
"But Eagle," whispered Sparky. "That isn't what..."
"You're out of order Commander Daniels," interrupted Counselor Douglass.
"Sorry," squeaked Sparky.
"Minister, should we dispatch a communiqué to the Galactic Council?"
"Let's not be too hasty Counselor Douglass," Minister Evor began.
"From all indications," interjected Counselor Douglass. "This is a serious matter. Commander Daniels faces capital charges. I cannot think of any action that would be considered 'Hasty'!"
"Counselor Douglass," Minister Evor stated calmly. "May I call you Everett?"
"Certainly not!" exclaimed Eagle. "Your language understates how lightly you take this matter. Perhaps I need to take it to a higher authority."
"Counselor Douglass," Minister Evor continued. "I have complete authority on this ... situation. We can take care of this now. There is no need to bother the Galactic authorities."
"My client will not be bullied by some local court or any local officials," insisted Eagle. "We certainly will not bribe our way out of this entanglement."
"No no no, you misunderstood. It appears that the Princess was just looking for a little attention from her father. She made the whole story up. No one ever expected anyone to claim the bounty on Commander Daniels. You see, all of the charges have been dropped, and Commander Daniels is free to go."
"Just like that?" inquired Eagle.
"What?" asked Minister Evor.
"We are free to go just like that. We don't get a 'Sorry for the inconvenience'. My client doesn't get any compensation for the trouble he has just gone through."
"Counselor Douglass, you will receive the bounty as agreed," weaseled Minister Evor. "As for Commander Daniels, he will receive a written apology from the Princess. Is that satisfactory?"
"My client and I will discuss this in private," replied Counselor Douglass.
"Certainly," Minister Evor responded as he left the room.
"That was close," Sparky stated.
"Commander Daniels," Eagle said as he indicated that their conversation was being recorded. "Are the terms outlined by Minister Evor satisfactory?"
"While it is not a lot," Sparky replied woodenly. "It will do."
"Let's inform your Captain," Eagle continued.
Eagle received his bounty and gave the entire amount to Sparky. He explained that the money didn't mean a thing to him. Besides, Sparky could use some Commonwealth credits to buy something nice for Captain Caruthers.
Several weeks later Commander Daniels received his official apology from the Princess. Sparky uses that document as a reminder of the adventure he had. Since the Nimrov government thought he was expendable, he allowed someone else to take his place. He got out of the Nimrov exploration and diplomatic business and started his own company with the bounty money Eagle gave him.
"Another fine story Yarnspinner," stated the Thradlumite. "I would like to hear more about this Commander Daniels person. What business did he start? Yarnspinner? Hey tender, where did that story teller go?"