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The Djiahanel Prophecy
Part 2 – The Savior From Afar
Completed January 22, 2013
Original title : La Prophécie de Djiahanel – Le Sauveur Venu de Loin
Originally written in French. Translated by the author…with the help of Google Translate
April 2nd, 2021
Revised June 2022
Author: Pete, monsterp63
The Passion For The Game
″A little bit more to the left, Mat″ yelled a tall blonde woman.
″No, don’t listen to Caroline, Mat. Go to the right, there, behind the chest.″ cut in a short red-haired man.
″Shut up, Alex.″ answered the blonde woman.
″Daniel, that’s behind the chest, right?″
In the kitchen, a young man, mid twenties, with brown messed up hair, long to below the ears, was getting some beers off the refrigerator.″ He raised his head.
″What? Which chest are you talking about?″
″The chest, in the big room, level 8.″ said a very tall black man, shaved head, built like a linebacker, sitting on the couch.
″Of what?″ told the young man, walking toward the gaming room with a beer in each hand, where a large monitor was practically covering the width of the wall, and where 5 of his closest friends, or rather four of his friends and his girlfriend, were taking the game controller from each other’s hand.
″There ain’t no chest in that room, Simon.″ said Daniel, reaching the back of the sofa..
″What the fuck? Aren’t you the one who wrote this game?″ asked Mat, turning around from his seat.
″Yeah, I am, but… Oh, guys. This is NOT the big room.″ said Daniel, smiling.
All froze and stared at him.
″That’s the… fool’s room.″ he said with a satisfied grin.
″The fool’s room.″ they answered, pretty much all in unison. All except Sabrina, his girlfriend, who didn’t seem to care at all. In fact, she seemed to be bored to death, leaning against the wall.
″But w… Oh shit! That’s it. I lost another life. I have only two left.″ said Mat, putting the controller down on his lap.
″What is this fool’s room?″ asked a tall woman, sexually wrapping Simon with her arms from the back.
″That’s a trap, Valerie. A boobie-trap. A false lead.″ he said, staring at Daniel, frowning..
″But where is that damn big room?″ asked Mat, back holding the controller firmly in his hands.
″If I tell you, I go against the purpose of the game, right?″ asked Daniel, taking a gulp from the beer bottle while handing the other one to Simon.
″Ah rats. A… clue, at… least. Please?″ asked Simon, his speaking cut off by kisses from his sexy girlfriend.
″No. Don’t say a thing.″ said Melanie. ″Leave them to work it out. I love seeing them fail.″ said Alex’s girlfriend, leaning against the wall behind him, looking over his shoulder.
″Hey, what the hell does that mean?″ asked the red head, turning around, but she cut short his arguments with a quick kiss followed by a bratty smile.
″Well… okay. One clue. The entrance is at the start of the level. The problem is that everybody heads straight forward when going into each level. I wanted to do things… differently.″ said Daniel, a proud smile on his face. “Apparently, it worked.”.
″You mean it… back there?″ asked Caroline, ready to tear the controller off her boyfriend’s hands to take control of the game.″
″I’ve said enough.″ said Daniel, a large smile of victory on his face.
The success of every game conceptor is to gather the interest of the player, and he had succeeded with Spy Master I, and even more with Spy Master II. Not only did he tickled the interest of the gaming community, but he made a little fortune out of it, enough to take life easy.
All of that began when he was only seventeen years old. Lonely child, he lost his parents in a car accident. The life insurance of each one of them amounted to half a million, and he got half a million more because the other vehicle involved in the accident, a delivery truck, was not road worthy.
So he was living a cool life, and he had all the time in the world to do what made him tick: video games.
He had worked one year on that game: Spy Master, and he had put the first three levels of it, for free, on the Internet, then put out the full version for sale for only $25.
Now, with one more million in his bank account, he was living the good life, going to parties, living the mundane life.
It’s in one of these high class parties that he met Sabrina. He had been charmed by her smile and her sense of humor. She was somewhat of a material girl, with her designer clothes, jewels and accessories, but he figured that this was only for showing off, that her true qualities were inside her.
Still down to earth, he had bought a little house on a large lot, in a rural zone, in the High Laurentians region in the province of Quebec, so he could live a little bit the secluded life, to be away from the buzz of the city, giving him the opportunities for thinking and of course, play with the latest gadgets and a state of his art sound and video system without annoying the neighbors.
He had moved in with Sabrina and had begun to create the next chapter of his game. He was discussing it openly on many Internet forums and when he announced that the game would be available within one month, one big gaming company contacted him.
They bought the rights of Spy Master I and II and an order for SM III for 5 millions. $500 000 right now and $100 000 per month for one year, the rest when Spy Master III would be released.
All his friends told him to refuse that deal, that they were taking advantage of him, but his answer was that with this deal, he was no longer involved in the marketing part, and that this was the part he hated taking care of, and he could very well live with all this money.
Yes, he had a little fortune, but he was living a simple life, and that’s where his relationship with Sabrina began to wind down.
While he loved being away from the busy city life, she was missing the mundane life, the parties with the celebrities, the pictures, the dance clubs of the great metropolis that Montreal is, where she could show off her latest Louboutins, Chanel, Gagnon, Rudsac and other great designers, not forgetting her jewels, expensively bought by her genius of a boyfriend, the prodigy conceptor of Master Spy, and when she was not partying, she was shopping. Why working when your boyfriend is a millionaire? Uw!
His friends were advising him, repeating that she was there only for the prestige and his money, but he was refusing to see it. He was telling them that they were only seeing his party girl image.
Looking back, he realized that they were right. They had a fight where the tone had gone up, a little earlier during the day, where she was ordering him, not suggesting or asking, but ordering him to move to the city. He could come to his secluded house any time, but she wanted to live in the city, downtown, in a luxury apartment. That he spent his time in his cow field was of no concern, she would survive living away from him. As long as he was paying, that is.
That’s where things got sour. Was she really loving him? If she was ready to live far from him, but near her parties and friends, the true reason for their union was suddenly very clear.
He told her to make a choice: if all she wanted was an apartment downtown, he would pay for it… for one month. After that, she was on her own. These were her choices. He had put her against a wall, to reveal her true feelings for him.
His friends had arrived and they were forced to close the discussion. She was keeping her distance, but Daniel was acting as if everything was normal. His friends have noticed, but knew, for once, to not interfere, and of two, that it was the best thing that could happen to their friend. They have been together since college and Daniel’s success didn’t change a thing in their friendship, perhaps because he had stayed the same old simple guy.
Well, okay, they have free access to the games before everybody, but… having a friend like that has its advantages.
Daniel took a sip of beer when Mat, who had finally discovered the famous door, had gone into the big room.
″Heeeyyyyy! What the F… Shit! Daniel. Fuck! NO! You didn’t do that… W… Wait…″ he was saying, panting, pressing furiously the buttons of the game controller, dodging a stab, disarming a bad guy with a well done kick, getting a good hit of the fist right on the face, picking a stick on the floor and hitting hard the bad guy who finally collapsed on the floor in a pool of blood.
″Ah, shit. My life energy is in the yellow now. I need coffee.″ he said. ″No, not ME!″ he said, pushing away the cup Caroline was offering him while giggling. He was talking about the game hero, who got his energy by drinking coffee.
Alex applauded, slightly bowing at Daniel.
″Very good, man. Very nice level. You’re the best. There’s no one else to make games like that.″ he said. ″I can’t wait for the next part.″
And this is where things were going wrong. The company had given him the money but had protected itself afterwards, pretty much tying his hands. He couldn’t sell any software anymore, not even a patch or an accessory without going through them, and they made sure they would keep the biggest part of the transaction. Moreover, he had to conceive part 3 of the series in less than six month, and that was killing him. He was coding by passion, by his pace. Things would be done when they would be done. Now, he was coding by obligation, and for a reason he couldn’t figure out, it was blocking him, scrambling all imagination, plainly losing interest in the game. He was very aware that, so far, the third part would be the worst game ever created. And to top it off, this deal had to be kept secret. In short, the spark was no more there.
The game went on until dinner. Daniel had ordered pizzas for everybody and they all went into a feeding frenzy until the snow outside began to fall with large snowflakes.
″Shit″ said Simon, looking at his smartphone. ″It came in earlier than expected. We should be going, guys. The roads won’t be pretty. The storm that was supposed to come in tomorrow morning is already here.″
Less than fifteen minutes later, they were all gone, including Sabrina who had simply told him that she would call him. No kisses, no goodbyes. She had sneaked out with the others and was gone without a trace.
Daniel was alone. He gathered the dirty dishes, filled the dishwasher and settled in front of the TV to watch the latest 3D movie in streaming. He raised the volume.
Sabrina was a thing of the past. Almost.
It was almost 11:00 when Daniel finally succeeded at extracting himself from his cozy bed. No hurry, he had no business to attend except clear his driveway from the snow. The storm had been heavy, and it wasn’t over. Through the window overlooking his piece of land, he estimated that at least 25cm had already fallen and more was on its way.
He made himself a hefty lumberjack level breakfast and had a quick look at his smartphone. Nope. Nothing. No missed call, no text message, nothing coming from Sabrina. She probably made her choice.
Having nothing better to do, he put the hot parka she had bought him (with his own money…), the latest winter chic from Rudsak, according to her, put his snow boots on and got out.
In this mid-February weather, the white snowflakes were piling on without rest. About 80cm had accumulated since the beginning of that Quebec’s winter, 30cm had been added in the last few days, plus what was falling down at the moment, well, since the day before in fact, when his video game party had come to a sudden stop.
He stood there, looking at the snow softly falling. The sight was nonetheless beautiful, and it was totally silent. The white blanket seemed to absorb all sounds. Yeah. The sound of silence, he thought.
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and filled his head of this silence, of this emptiness. There was a big contrast between his technological passion and his little secluded side, but it was that very silence, the contact with nature which allowed him to build this bubble around him, and to have the inspiration that made his success. He had to take that energy from the silence, the soft wind, and the smell of nature to create heavy action, high-technology content. Contradictory, weird, but that was it.
The once harsh wind had calmed to a gentle breeze, but twelve hours earlier, the sight was totally different, having even difficulties sering past 5m in front of him.
He put his snow shovel down and leaned on the handle, to catch his breath. It wasn’t very cold, just a dozen degrees under the freezing point.
Between two breaths, he heard a strange sound, deafened by the snow. At first, he thought it was the wind caught in some branches or even a far away snowmobile, its sound modified by the falling snow. However, the sound became more intense. The heavy snowfall was forbidding him to see farther than about 15m, and screwed up the source of the sound, but he was looking, searching knowing that the snow, the wind and the distance can screw up the origin of noises.
And the sound, the noise, seemed to become stronger, like getting closer, coming from the back of his house, from the cornfield that was his neighbor’s lot. Machinery? With this snow? In the middle of an empty field?
The source of the noise became clearer. It was coming from the air. A plane? A helicopter? In this weather? If it was the case, it was in real trouble and this snowstorm was not to help it. And it was going down, not far from there. Well, that’s the feeling he got, and if he was right, he didn’t want to be on its path. He should find shelter, but where? Where was it about to crash? And what size was this thing? He could take shelter from a small plane, but not against an airliner. And was it about to crash on his house, his garage, on the back lot, or hit the nearby mountain, the ski resort?
The plane, or whatever it was, was getting closer by the second, the sound changing, like if it was changing direction. Sometimes, it seemed like there were two of them. Or was it two engines? Now the noise was getting lower and in the middle of these mountains, that was not something good.
Damn. If he could see some landing lights or something, smoke, anything which would give him some indication of where this sucker was and where it was heading. For a short moment, he saw himself in one of his video games, not being able to see outside his monitor, having to imagine what was out there, yet hearing the sound effect that something was about to crash on him.
He stood there, leaning against the handle of his shovel, straining his eyes, trying to see something, anything. Then he saw what seemed to be flashing colored lights through the snow, or was it fire? An explosion? Or a jet engine? Could it be a fighter jet? Please, don’t let it be an airliner. He had a thought for the passengers. Let’s just hope it’s not. He looked around him, searching for witnesses, to be able to say ‘you saw that?’ to someone else.
The sound, the noise, was getting stronger, closer. It was as if it was turning around his house, or was it due to the wind and the snow. It sounded more and more like a jet engine, but there was something odd, strange, almost out of this world to it.
″It’s about to crash! It ought to sound strange, you stupid!″ he shouted to himself.
Again, he thought about video games where sound effects were there for dramatic purposes and were often very far from the real thing.
He heard a boom, very low pitch, like deafened. He felt the ground shake under his booted feet. Whatever it was, had just hit the ground, it was very heavy and it couldn’t be very far.
He saw snow being projected in the air. Whatever that was, it was right there, in front of him, and it was sliding under the snow toward his house.
He wanted to flee, but he also wanted to see. He put himself where he felt safe for doing both. It was like a video game, and like any video game, the player is never in harm’s way. He didn’t feel like he was in danger. He didn’t see the danger. All he could see was something big sliding under the snow, and the cover of snow sliding over it.
“Cool.” he thought.
He could feel the ground shaking. That should have spooked him, but the desire to know was stronger. He just HAD to see what the hell this was. If only to include something similar to his next video game. He seemed totally disconnected from reality.
The plane had lost speed and was sliding a lot slower now, until it stopped, merely 10m off his house, covered in snow. Then there was nothing. The silence, only broken by the hissing sound of snow quickly melting by touching something very hot.
The plane didn’t seem very large, probably a small private jet but… with a strange shape, like oblong and very strange wings.
It was like time had stopped and for a few moments, Daniel loved the sudden adrenaline rush, like he knew so well how to do it in his video games, but when the snow projected from the plane, like in slow motion, hit him in the face, throwing him backward, he realized that this was not a game, but the real thing: a plane just crashed next to his house. A few meters more and his house was part of the wreckage.
A plane means pilot, passengers.
He grabbed his shovel and began to run toward the crashed plane, fighting the knee deep snow, while asking himself what help he could give them. Power-ups were useless, he needed real medical knowledge, and he had none. Heck, he only had a basic first-aid kit.
Struggling, he saw something open on the side of the plane, which seemed to look stranger by the second. What the heck was that? Some prototype or something? And those weird markings… Like… a foreign language.
He was less than ten meters away when he saw someone in the opening wearing blue. Whoever it was jumped down and disappeared into the thick snow.
″At least one out.″ he said to himself.
He was getting closer when his attention was attracted by a high pitch noise coming from above. He looked up and lost his breath.
There, hovering about thirty meters up, another… plane, or rather a strange circular ship, more octogonal, about the size of his house, black, no wings but lots of weird looking stuff all around, like square spikes. Under it, in the center of its belly, was a red sphere extending out. It became brighter and brighter until it was almost incandescent, and then some kind of powerful red ray emanated from it, engulfing the plane that had just crashed.
Instinctively, he turned his head away to protect it from the sudden intense heat. He felt a strong heat wave hit him. He tried to look at the crashed plane and… it wasn’t one. Was it some sort of spaceship? It was something he never saw before, like straight out of a science-fiction movie. What the hell?
The intensity of the red ray as well as the heat wave and the sound level increased and he saw no other choice than to plunge headfirst under the heavy snow, hoping it would protect him enough.
He felt the ground shake again under him, then, the sound, the heat wave, the vibration, all stopped, all at the same time.
He crawled out of the snow, peeking, scared to look up, but there was… nothing. No plane, no ship, not in the air and… not on the ground. They both had disappeared.
He stood there for a few moments, trying to make sense of all this, trying to divide this between reality or his brain playing some sick trick on him. He was about to put that on some brain fart when he saw the large circle on the ground, free of snow, and where any snow falling there was instantly melting. Even the grass was looking burnt.
He walked to it, walked in it, turning on himself, puzzled, lost, looking up in the sky, hoping to see the strange ship again… or maybe not.
The snow moved nearby and he freaked out, making a jump and a scream worthy of a 10 years old girl, then remembered that someone had jumped off.
Carefully, he approached. A leg, wrapped into a shiny metallic white and blue fabric was slowly moving, her booted feet trying to find something to grab on, to push itself deeper into the snow. To hide.
He approached delicately and the revealing blue and white body molding garment showed the distinctive shape of a woman, clad head to toe in this tight fitting suit, her head encased in a thin helmet with a small visor.
He kneeled beside her. She was laying on her stomach and was trying to slowly turn around, like fearing to see who or what was there. She had a brief look at Daniel and tried to sit, pushing her upper body up with her hands sinking in the snow, groaning. She opened her visor and smiled. The smile was weak, exhausted, yet looked like she was relieved.
″Err… Hi… Can… Can I help you?″ he asked, feeling silly.
That probably was sounding silly, but he couldn’t think of anything else. ″Come here often″ or ″care for a drink″ didn’t seem inappropriate.
He looked around, like looking for help, then raised his head, looking up, looking around in the sky: was this the sign of an invasion? Was he about to see countless space invaders ships everywhere? They sure hadn’t chosen the best weather to come in.
He looked back at her. Her smile disappeared, her eyes closed and she lost consciousness, collapsing on the melting snow.
He scooped her gently in his arms and carried her inside the house, struggling to pass her through the door opening, walking by the kitchen, to his bedroom where he put her down on his bed, quickly pulling the sheets back in place over her. He figured that she was probably freezing, her thin suit was sexy but didn’t seem very appropriate for a dip in the snow.
He covered her over with a thick blanket and went to the kitchen to make himself a whole pot of coffee. Very strong coffee, while staring out the window, searching for more strange planes and, or spaceships.
* * *
The spaceship was silently holding its position over the far side of the Moon, away from Earth-based detection systems. Commander Rah was sitting at the communication console and was waiting for the link with General Crom of the Sigamee Armed Forces. The link was finally established and the cold, rigid face of the General appeared.
″Report, Commander Rah.″
″The ship was destroyed, General.″
″Good, and its crew?″
″Presumed dead, General.″
The General’s bulbous irises got larger and a slight change from copper to red of the tint of his skin could clearly be noticed.
″You presume? What the hell does that mean, Commander. Are they dead or not?″
″Well, General, they crash landed on Earth, in the middle of a snowstorm. We were able to destroy their ship. However, we saw two lifeforms near the ship. One of them was an Earthling, we’re sure of that. The other, we presume, was probably another earthling who got hit by the crashing ship as the lifesigns were very weak. We have very low doubts that there were any survivors. We were there quickly and we don’t believe any of them had any time to get out of the spaceship.″ he said, nervously.
″You presume. You believe… You have low doubts…″ calmly repeated Crom with a monotone voice, yet firmly.
He was doing nothing else than stare at the screen with his large eyes without adding another word. Inside, he was boiling. If there was even a minute chance that Jahana or her brother had survive and could reveal what they knew, he was facing the capital punishment, and all the efforts he put into these plans would have meant nothing.
And now, Earthlings were involved. He didn’t care much about the life of a few Earthlings, it was the trouble associated with wiping off the memory of everybody involved that was pissing him off. The Earth was a forbidden zone because it was judged inapt to accept the existence of other beings living elsewhere in the Universe, hence a First Contact.
″Err… General Crom, we will go back to make sure that there’s no trace of them.″ quickly added Rah, nervously
The General cut the link and the screen reverted to black.
Rah was sweating heavily and drops of sweat were appearing on top of his flat head. He only had a vague idea of what could be waiting for him on the Earth. He never set foot on that primitive planet but he knew that his appearance was not common. He had to devise a plan which would allow him to get in, unnoticed, make sure that Gill and Jahana and anyone involved were dead or their memory wiped out, although Crom was not confident that simply erasing their memories was enough. He would have to… erase them from existence.
″Men, we need a solution and fast.″ said Rah, turning toward Khor and Larr.
* * *
Daniel was at his third cup of coffee and his hands were slightly shaking. No other spaceship or anything of that nature had glazed the surroundings of their presence. No news or anything on TV, Radio or Internet about UFOs sightings. So, what the heck did he see?
Although the adrenaline had winded down, he was keeping a close watch on his rescued alien, walking to the door of his bedroom on a regular basis, making sure she was okay, or rather still there, and each time he was seeing that sleek body wrapped into this futuristic tight fitting spacesuit, it reminded him that she was not of this world. Well, probably not.
The day had gone on and it was almost diner time when he heard, coming behind him, booted footsteps and a creaking, shuffling sound, like a plastic bag being crunched. He turned around.
She was there, smiling, or rather trying to smile, evidently puzzled and affected by whatever happened to her. She had removed her helmet and her shoulder length curly brown hairs were floating on the suit’s slippery shoulders.
She had slightly tanned skin, even maybe some greenish tones to it, soft eyes, fine lips. She could very well be from Earth. Was she?
″H… Hi. ″ he nervously tried to say. ″I’m Daniel… Daniel.″ he said, gently pounding his chest with his opened hand, then opening his hand to her, inviting her to talk.
″… English… That’s called English… Right?″
Daniel’s eyes went wide.
″You speak English?″ he asked, stunned.
″Yes, a little. It’s not fully assimilated. I only had time learn three or four of Earth’s languages before… hem… pursuit again. My name Jahana. Thank you for saving me.″ she said from a soft, a little shaky voice.
He put his coffee cup down.
″I… I have so many questions… Who are you? Where are you from? What the hell happened back there? Is this the start of an invasion? Why is…″
She raised a hand to make him stop.
“W… want some coffee?” he nervously asked, rising his cup, then putting it down, hand shaking.
″I’m willing to explain in part, but cannot tell too much because it may make your life… danger.″ she said, struggling to complete the phrases, but apparently getting better. ″You don’t have to be… what’s the word… attached to it. In any case, what I could tell you wouldn’t explain you much since you know nothing of our planets… I think.″
″Ah… involved. The right word is involved. Well… okay, then.″ he said, leaving the silence to fill the gap.
He didn’t know what to say and if she didn’t want to say anything, he couldn’t do much. He couldn’t resist staring at her slim body wrapped into this shiny suit, running his eyes from her feet to her head with a weird smile. What should he do? Wait here with her? Go back to his computer as if nothing happened?
She looked nervous, like internally struggling for something, or fighting something, some thoughts, as if she was asking herself a lot of questions, undecided, willing to go on but at the same time afraid to do so. As he was about to leave and go to where he had no idea, she began to talk.
″Well, okay. Good. I’m obviously not from Earth. My brother and me believed to have discover a plan, conceived by the Sigamee to take control of our planet, and the Coalition of the Three Stars. They… err…. bind… built… fabricated a terrible weapon. Sigamees have discovered that we had some information about it and if that information reaches the council, they would… close… isolate their planet system. They are chasing us since one of your days. Their attack is… two Kgithan days, about, hum… a little more than three days-Earth.″
She paused, and with a look, she was somewhat asking her interlocutor if anything she was saying made any sense.
Daniel answered a small yes from a nod of the head and a little gesture of the hand, inviting her to continue.
″Oh… A few hours ago, we were hiding on the far side of your planet’s Moon when they found us. We tried to escape, but we were hit. Our only hope was getting to Earth and trying to lose them there. We never thought they would follow us, but they did and… you know the rest of the story.″ she said, lowering her eyes, humiliated.
She had spit it all out in one breath, throwing up all the information she had, like a bursting water bag, without thinking about the consequences.
Daniel was staring at her, totally lost. Sigamee? The Coalition of the Three Stars? What the hell was she talking about? Was there a minute possibility of an invasion, or worst, a war where the Earth would be caught in the middle? For an instant, he thought about the movie Transformers and other extra-terrestrial invasions movies.
The only thing his brain has caught on is that she was with her brother and he didn’t see him get out of the spaceship.
″And your… brother?″ he asked.
″He was with me, piloting the ship, when we crashed. I tried to get him out but he was hurt, unconscious, probably dead, stuck behind the piloting console. I was very lucky to have been able to get out in time. And they use a disruptor. A fucking disruptor! That’s illegal!″ she said, her hands in a fist, shaking with rage.
″Well, if they were ready to kill you, I don’t think that thing being… legal… were their priority.″
She was in distress, and it showed in her eyes. She was now alone on an alien planet with bad guys after her.
Suddenly, the video games, with their zillion deaths but with no consequences were having a false note to it. He had been the witness of a true chase, a real destruction, the large hole in the snow in his backyard was there to remind him. He could have died himself.
He sat at the table, almost letting himself down, his legs giving up under him, putting his coffee cup down, eyes looking at an invisible void, not knowing what to reply, not knowing what to do.
She brushed her hair with her hand, massaging her skull, rubbing her temples, then let out a sob.
″What am I going to do now?″ she said, sitting down at the table, also letting herself drop on the chair, her tight suit creaking.
″I… I don’t know. Lets just say that, by pure bad luck, I sold my spaceship yesterday on E-Bay.″ he said, making a grin to himself. What an idiot he was.
She was looking at him, puzzled, trying to understand.
″Forget it, I’m having a brain fart… That’s totally crazy what’s happening now, I mean… I believed in extraterrestrial life, but, I mean, that it would crash on my land…″
″I am sorry.″ she said, making big scared eyes. ″I didn’t… break… someone, I hope. Are you broken? She asked, very anxious.
″No, I’m good. I’m not broken… hurt. Just a little shocked, that’s all. So… now. What do we do?″ he asked, looking at her, getting his brain back. ″I mean, I can’t just knock on NASA’s door and hitchhike a ride to the ISS.″ he said, half serious.
Jahana looked at him, puzzled. She had no clue what NASA or the ISS were.
″I have to try to get in communicate with the mine.″
″Yes, I sort of figured that out. There’s not a lot of space cabs around here. Do you have, I don’t know, an emergency beacon, or radio or something?″
She was trying to understand the gibberish he was saying. She had learned only partially the language and this Earthling with all those expressions was not helping.
″No, nothing.″ she said, lowering her head, realizing that she was stuck, on an alien planet, with no means of communication, and with this… weirdo she barely understood. Then there was like a click, a trigger buried deep inside her brain who sprung into action, a programming prepared by Pakit. She had a lead. She had a solution.
″Err, yes… I could transform one of your, how do you say, telescope-antenna, and make a transmitter out of it.” she said, eyes opened wide. “Well, it might explode in the process, but we have to take the risk…” she added, making a grin. “So… Do… Do you want to help me?″
″A telescope-antenna?… Oh, a radio-telescope… Here, I have a small satellite dish for my TV. Could it be of help?″
″Show me!″ she said, getting up, her suit shuffling, her eyes sparkling.
She followed him outside and walked to the middle of the melted area where the snow, still falling, was barely able to stay without melting, and he pointed out the small dish fixed to his roof.
″This?″ she said, holding back a laugh, thinking he was joking. ″That’s just good enough for…″ she began to say, then recomposed herself ″Oh, you’re serio… that’s not large enough. To reach our system from your technology, I would need something a lot, and I mean, a lot bigger.″
″Good, okay… I had to try. We will have better chances on the Internet. Coming?″ he said, walking back to the house. Jahana was following, rubbing her arms, cold. He found it interesting how the snow was not sticking at all to her shiny suit but the cold seemed to pass right through.
″Sexy your tight outfit, but not very warm, hey? No winter on your planet I suppose?″
″Well that’s… a flight suit, not a cold suit.″ she answered a little hurt. Then she remembered that she just laughed at his dish.
″So… Sorry.″ he said, taking place behind his computer. ″We would need to know where your planet is in relation to ours, then we could have a look at what’s available there.″ he said, opening a space chart software he was using to point his telescope a few years back. Not state of the art, but would do the job. He hoped.
He started from their present location, in the northern hemisphere, then slowly dragged the mouse around the sky.
″No… not really… A little more to the right… lower…″ she was softly whispering, standing just behind him, her mouth near his ear. He could smell a soft fruity perfume. ″No… Go back… up…″
Daniel got up.
″It might be easier if you control it.″ he said, offering her the chair.
A little nervous, she took place, her suit creaking and sliding on the leather chair. She grabbed the mouse, quickly found how to use it, and began to spin the map, again, in another direction, around. Daniel was getting dizzy.
″There! That’s it! How did you name it?… Gliese 364. What a strange name.″
″Okay, where are we.″ he said, kneeling beside her, taking control of the mouse. ″We’re over… Australia? But that’s the opposite pole from where we are!″
″They have telescope-radio over there?″
″No idea. I will have to search on the internet.″ said Daniel, grabbing another chair and taking the place, gently pushing Jahana aside, a little bit overwhelmed by how the events were unrolling.
″Australia… What… oh shit! No internet.″ he said, picking his smartphone. ″No network either. The snowstorm must have taken down a com tower nearby. Heck of a timing for all of this to happen at the same time.″ he said, getting up.
Jahana blinked a few times. She might have a clue how a tower got destroyed lately.
″Which means?″ asked Jahana.
″We’ll have to go downtown, to an internet cafe, hoping their network connection is working. I can’t do more here and I have no clue when the network will be re-established.″ he said, grabbing his parka and heading for the door. ″In any case, we won’t be able to do anything for a couple of da…″
Jahana was just standing there, arms slightly opened to show herself.
″Err… Excuse me, Daniel but… do you think you would have something more… appropriate for me to wear?″ she said, looking down at her tight and shiny metallic suit. “Not warm.” she added.
Daniel froze for a few seconds. He had nothing against seeing her like that, but it was a fact that she would attract a lot of attention, especially in this cold weather.
″Ah… probably.″ he said, going to his bedroom, opening Sabrina’s closet. He was shocked. Apparently, her decision to leave had been taken a few days ago as it was almost empty, except for a pair of stretch jeans, a black turtleneck shirt, a white puffy but short down jacket, and a pair of high heeled winter boots, designer’s boots, that is. He grabbed all of it and dropped it on the bed.
″I’m sorry, but… that’s all I have.″ he said, not even thinking that she could borrow HIS clothes.
He walked out.
″I have to clear the snow the snow plow put in the driveway. I’ll be just outside the house.″ he said, closing the door.
As she was trying the garments, she heard some strange engine noise coming from outside.
She joined him a few moments later. He did a double-take. The jeans, although stretched, were molding her from the hips to the ankles, the turtleneck shirt was not a problem, the jacket was a nice fit although maybe a little small, and the boots seemed to do fine.
″Is this the right way to wear it? I’m not sure.″ she said, turning around. “The shirt is fine but the pants and the jacket are a little small. Is that okay?” she asked. “I don’t want to attract attention” she said, swiping her hands across the jacket, like to remove a lint that was not there.
″Well, that’s the fashion trend here. It would have to do for now.” he said, thinking that she WOULD attract attention, but not because she would be recognized as an alien. “If it’s really too uncomfortable, we’ll be able to get something else downtown.″ he said, driving the snowblower back into his garage. ″Without sounding creepy, they fit you much better than my clothes would have fit you.″ he said with a horny smile he quickly tried to hide. She was hot as hell in this.
Anyways, that’s all he could offer her for now. She had a look that could go for a late teenager, young adult. She had a cylinder, about 10cm long, hanging from the belt of the jeans on her left side. A little black box with small colored squares was hanging on her right side.
″And the boots?″ he inquired once the noise from the engine was cut-off.
″Maybe a little small. I’ve worn high heels before but they’re not very suitable for snow.″ she said, fighting to keep her balance while her heels kept sinking in..
″Well, high heels were Sabrina’s… never mind.″
″Anyway, I don’t intend to spend much time here.
She didn’t know the link between the phone lines nor what was internet or a smartphone, but any means of finding what she needed was the priority. She couldn’t also hardly understand why the “line” was out. Don’t they get everything through radio waves? Like on Kgitah? She had to remind herself that Earth was not as advanced as her hometown. Even sending a message within three days could be a problem.
As he was shoveling the rest of the snow around his garage door, she tried to give him a hand, but her fingers quickly froze as she was not wearing any gloves and she squeezed them inside the too small and too tight coat pockets.
They got in his car, the latest model of Audi Q5 and drove off toward the city. They didn’t talk a lot. She seemed preoccupied, probably asking herself how people at this level of technology, using this kind of mode of transportation, could help her. Daniel was trying to figure out if all of this was real or if he had hit his head somewhere. It all looked so unreal, so… videogame like.
At this time of year, the sun quickly goes down and what they saw in the distance were flashing red, blue, orange and white lights. And there were a lot of them. He slowed down. There was an accident, a tractor-trailer was across the road, blocking the way, a car deeply wedged under the trailer. Two utility service vehicles were trying to fix a pole that had apparently been broken in the crash, which could explain his lack of Internet. A police officer approached Daniel’s car.
″I’m sorry sir, the road is closed. There’s no way to go through.″
″Will that be long?″ asked Daniel.
″There are, unfortunately, bodies still stuck in the car. Easily two hours.″ I would like to tell you much but our radio is down. I overheard that something struck the nearby communication tower. If you’re wondering, that’s why the cell phones are also down. Talk about a shitty snowstorm.” said the officer, as if he was happy to be able to let some frustration out.
″Thank you. Officer.″ said Daniel, turning to Jahana. ″Better go back to the house. There’s no need to stay and wait here for two hours. The only way around would take us more than two hours in these road conditions. so…″
″I understand.″ she said, disappointed, but she could clearly see that it was not his fault.
They turned around and drove back toward the house. At about 150m from it, Jahana jumped.
″Stop. Quick, NOW!″ she said. “And turn your beacons off!”
“Beacons?… Oh, lights!”
Daniel pressed hard on the break, the anti-locks working hard, nonetheless letting him slide slightly on the side of the road, stopping on the snowbank then killing the lights.”
″Why? What is it?″ he asked, trying to see what she was seeing.
″They’re here, I mean at your house. I can spot their spaceship from here. They probably want to make sure I’m dead… and probably you too.″ she said.
″What the fuck are you talking about?″ he asked, shocked.
″You, wait here.″ she firmly said.
She opened the car door with some difficulties as the SUV was resting against the snowbank. She swore a little as the dome light turned on, Daniel hurriedly finding the override off switch. She got out and slowly walked on the side of the road, hiding herself as much as she could, struggling in her heels, her path only lit by the crescent moon as the sky had cleared out.
Daniel could now see the spaceship. It was about 100m away. There were three aliens talking between them. They were rather small and seemed to have a relatively flat head with pointy ears. They reminded him of a mix between a frog and an elf.
They seemed to be getting back from the house, finding nobody, gesturing toward the fresh tire tracks on the snow.
Jahana partially kneeled on the snowbank, took the black box and the yellow cylinder and put them together and pointed it to the strangers. A ball of yellow light came out and flew through the air and hit the group before they could react. They collapsed on the ground, and she came back, running, to the SUV.
″I was rather far. That should stun them for about… err… twenty… minutes.″ she said, searching the units in her fresh language.
″What would last twenty minutes?″
″The stunning burst″ she said, as she impatiently gestured him to get moving
He drove to the house taking the driveway entrance a little too fast for the road conditions and ended up with the car sideways, its left front wheel high up the corner snowbank. Jahana got off in a hurry.
″Quick, help me.″ she said, running to the alien closest to the ship’s door.
Daniel followed. She was dragging it toward the spaceship, as big as his house.
″Come, quick. We have to put them inside.″ she said, struggling to get the heavy limp body up the ship’s inclined ramp. Daniel got his legs and helped her.
Upon entering, she laughed.
″Un-modified my ass!″ she said, quickly glancing around.
He got the second one, alone and dragged him to the spaceship. They were heavier than they looked. Jahana took the body once inside while Daniel fetched the last one, dragging him along.
″Put him with the others, in the small room over there at the back.″ she instructed Daniel as she was hurrying to the cockpit.
As soon as he turned the corner, he saw the access door close and the ship was beginning to hum and slightly vibrate.
″Once he’s in there with the others, get out of the room and press the blue button on the door frame. HURRY! They could awaken any moment now.” she almost yelled at his apparent slow reactions.
He did and a weak bluish glow filled the opening. He tried to touch it but some invisible force gently pushed his hand back. The harder he tried to push in, the stronger the force was fighting back.
″That’s a force field.″ she yelled from the cockpit as to answer his unformulated question. ″They won’t be able to get out and cause us any trouble.″
As he was reaching the cockpit, he realized that he was inside a spaceship, getting away. The video game was over.
″What are you doing? Where are we going? Why are you bringing me?″
Getting away from problems or heading toward new ones?
It looked like a special-effect and a very realistic one indeed. Very quickly, he saw his house change for a single dot of light in the spider’s web of street lights from nearby cities, some hidden by clouds, then continents he could barely make out with only the city lights as landmarks, disappearing quickly under his feet. In less than ten minutes, the Earth had become the famous blue marble and was disappearing as the ship was heading behind the moon. Jahana looked at him and chuckled. His face was apparently very expressive.
″Yeah, that could come as a shock,″ she said, ″and I can figure out you have a lot of questions on your mind. The reason I brought you with me is that now, there’s a price on your head and your life is in danger, being on Earth or anywhere else. Nothing will stop the Sigamees to prevent anyone from talking about this situation, and it’s not killing a simple Earthling that will stop them from finding sleep at night. That’s one reason. The other one is that… I… I can’t do this alone. I need help. Your help. I need you.″ she said, looking at him with almost pleading eyes. ″I didn’t exactly have the time to ask you if you wanted to or not. Please, tell me I am right and you’ll help me.″ she said in a soft, almost desperate whisper.
She was doubting the decision herself. She knew very little of him. He seemed not to be the kind to rush into doing things. He seemed to freeze in awe at anything new. But she had the intuition that he would do the job, and she had that strange feeling that she HAD to bring him back to Kgitah. Perhaps, it was simply another trick implanted in her brain by Pakit’s programming but at the moment of closing the door, she was planning to wait for him to disembark, but she heard little voices in her head telling her to close the door, to keep him, that she needed him, that Kgitah needed hin. Maybe it was something else. Was it really for his safety? Or for hers?
″Err… I… I know nothing of your world. How can I be of any help?″ he nervously asked, his eyes staring at the moon surface which was filling the viewport of the ship. ″I mean… I’m a videogame programmer. Well, in fact, I was, sort of. I’m stuck and out of ideas… anyways, I have friends here, my family, my girl… yeah, right. What the fuck am I saying here? I have no family, my girlfriend just dumped me, I have… I have…″ he was saying, half mumbling, gesturing in the void, talking more to himself than answering Jahana’s question.
She let out a sigh. It was against what every fiber of her body was telling her, but if he wanted out, she did not really have the choice. She couldn’t abduct an Earthling.
″Maybe it was not such a good idea after all, to bring you with me.″ she said from a soft, resigned voice ending with a long sigh. ″I’ll fly you back there. I… I acted under the impulse of a thought, some kind of hint, instinct, an urge… I thought…″ she said while having a strange feeling that she had to convince him to stay, that she needed him more than he needed her. Maybe he would not be of a great help, he had no combat training, then again, all the knowledge she had was programmed in her mind and actually very new. Well, she wanted someone with her. Just not be alone in all this adventure. Anyone. That was a strange feeling. She felt almost nauseating with the thought of flying him back to Earth..
″Well… can you give me a few moments to think about it?″ he asked
″Of course, Daniel. I’m sorry.″
He looked out the viewport. The spaceship was slowly drifting away from the Moon, which, although it was filling the view a few moments ago, was now filling only about a half of it. The sight of the empty space, or rather the space filled with stars where each one was potentially a planetary world, were suddenly all opening up for him, for his eyes, for his mind. He felt as if he… knew them, as if he belonged there. He had a strange feeling that going back was the wrong choice. He didn’t know why, or how or who… or what was talking to him like that, urging him to follow her, like it was meant to be. Except for the fact that something totally unknown was waiting for him, the adventure, the risks, real ones, not some artificial imagery, was drawing him like a magnet. Could he really help her save her world? He doubts it, but what if? And perhaps that all of this is just a dream. He drank quite a lot last night… Did he?
Anyway, if this was just a dream, he could live the adventure and it will all go back to his normal life in a few moments. If not… then. That adventure sounded so… no. Not fun. He was feeling a push, from inside his stomach to go for it. It was appealing but not in a fun way, more in a helpful way. That was it. He felt he was needed, his help was needed.
″I’m in. I don’t know if I’m getting away from my problems or heading for new ones, but… I take the chance. I don’t know. It’s weird, like… I have to do this.″
″Awesome!!″ she yelled, jumping out of her seat. ″Uh… okay… oh… hum…″ she was saying, unable to stand still, nervous, like searching what to do next, ″okay, first, ah… first, you have to know a few details about us… I mean, our language and then… no… yes… n… yes… Co… Come with me.″ she said, taking his arms and dragging him alone.
He was nervous but he couldn’t repress a giggle. She seemed so sweet, so innocent, yet…
As they were walking down the ship, he heard strange noises coming from the cell. Jahana let him go and walked to it, talking in a language Daniel couldn’t understand. However, the tone and body language could be understood that they were not sending each-other flowers, unless they were funeral wreaths.
She grabbed Daniel’s arm in a gesture to come along, to follow. They entered a small room, filled with large computer-like equipment and a long chair in the middle, looking similar to a dentist chair. Daniel had some hesitation.
The chair had, on each side of the headrest, a star-shaped antenna, held by a multi-section arm, allowing it to be placed on each side of one’s head. . Jahana invited him to take place. He was obviously reluctant.
″Ships like this usually don’t have a hypno-learning chair, but like I said, this is NOT a regular spaceship. Now, don’t worry. This machine speeds the learning process, through deep waves like hypnotism or something like that, I don’t exactly know how it works. What I do know is that it works.″
″Sure?″ he asked.
″How do you think I learned your language?″ she said, pointing to the chair. ″Sit, please.″
″You got a point.″ he said, carefully taking place in the chair. ″What will I… learn?″
″Our language, of course and… hum… what else would be good.″ she said, more to herself than to him, while browsing a touch screen filed with listings. ″Yes, that… and this… I’m adding a little bit about our current political situation, the Coalition, etc, to give you an idea of where we’re going, so you’ll understand when I will explain what we should be doing. Now, this learning session should take, err…″ she said, while she was converting units, ″… about six hours. It’s a… fifteen hours trip, from here to there, so we’ll have time to review what you have learned afterwards.″ she said, as she was placing the adjustable arms on each side of his head.
He could smell her soft perfume as she bent over him, mixed with Sabrina’s perfume from her clothes. She brushed her hand to the side of his head while putting the antennas in place. There was something in that simple contact, realizing at the same time that this was, in fact, their first touch. She too seemed to feel it, to feel that little something. Her face lit up, a soft smile appearing.
He wiggled uncomfortably in place, trying to find the most comfortable position, while having the feeling he was at the dentist. That chair was very comfortable indeed, although his body language was telling something else.
“Will it hurt?” he asked, half smiling.
″You should feel a little tingling inside your head then fall asleep.″ she said, smiling, her voice soft and hot. Almost sultry. “Everything will be fine.”
He looked at her. Her voice was reassuring. He trusted her. She seemed so soft, so innocent. Their eyes crossed. She giggled, a soft giggle that told him he was in good hands. He answered with a nervous smile. She moved away and he heard some clicks. It felt like a spider was crawling inside his head and his brain blacked out.
Jahana looked at him, putting a hand on his head.
″I just hope I’m doing the right thing.″ she said to herself, but not looking at him like a helper, but more like a very close friend she cared deeply for. In her brain, she hears “yes, you did”. It was her own inner voice… Or was it?
A little farther away, in the cell, the Sigamees were getting agitated.
″This is looking bad, Rah. We must do something.″ whispered Thor.
″I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Relax, will you? As long as we’re stuck in this cell, we can’t do shit, so sit and breathe. We will have our chance at the Beredius Station.″
″How… how do you know she will stop there? Do you have a plan?″
″It’s possible. In fact, she does the opposite than what would seem logical. That’s how she avoided us in the first place. THE logic would be to reach Kgitah as fast as possible, but she had doubts that someone would be waiting for her, and she would be right. So, she would probably take a break at the Beredius Station, to try to scramble the events. I just hope she will dock where I think she will. I also wish that Crom will think the same way.″ he said, almost whispering before raising his voice.
″Hey, Jahana! Come here!″
The woman who was still looking at the sleeping Earthling, turned around and slowly walked to the cell door, taking her time, her footsteps resonating in the ship, trying not to show she was actually nervous as hell..
″What do you want, Rah. You’re annoying me.″
″Listen. There might be a way to, say, agree on an outcome.″ he said, making a weird smile which looked quite creepy with his yellow teeth. ″You free us and I will ask that you and this pest of Earthling be spared. What do you think?″
″You’re insane… Com.Man.Der.. Rah,″ she said with an arrogant tone. ”You want to destroy my planet, again. But I won’t let you. I know what you’re planning, and I will stop you. I will send you all back to that piece of rock you call your planet, and I will watch you die. All of you. I can’t wait to see the day of your execution, and especially, Crom’s I’ll be on the first row.″ she said, her eyes filled with rage.
″You killed my brother. You killed my uncle. You killed MY FAMILY″ she continues, getting all her rage out. Count yourself lucky that I can’t bring myself to kill you with my bare hands. But be sure that all the people of the Coalition will learn what you want to do and THEY won’t hesitate. Enjoy these last moments of your life, Rah. You don’t have a lot of it left.″
Rah looked at her, smiling.
″You have such a way to excite me, my dear Jahana… for a homosapien, that is. As for me, I can’t wait to see my Leader and my People to take control of your pity little planet, and then the rest of this fucking Coalition and put them where they belong: slavery. You and your people have no honor, no character and you can’t even exploit your resources to their true potential. We would be the wealthiest people of this corner of the galaxy if we had your planet to manage. What you call humanity is nothing less than weakness. We will show you how great people rule.″
Jahana took a deep breath, let out a grunt of rage and stomped her way to the pilot seat, repressing a flow of rage, taking off the winter jacket and trying to slam it with force, to make noise, but it was so light, it didn’t do much.. She knew that what he was trying to do was to trick her, get her to open the cell door, which would mean leaving them free access to the ship, even for a brief moment.
She fought her desire to fight him on the spot. She had to be strong and not fall for his lures. The survival of her world was depending on it.
Daniel woke up with an awful headache. He wasn’t used to getting so much stuff forced into his head in so little time. He got up from the seat but lost balance and fell back on it. He stayed there, waiting for the room to stop spinning while trying to get his heartbeat to go down.
Eyes closed, his mind was trying to make sense, organize, and assimilate the flow of information, of images he had received, because it was pretty much what it felt like, like watching a long movie where every frame was filled with information.
He was seeing a lot of things in his new memories. He was seeing Jahana’s world, Kgitah, the Dolaron System, a very advanced but generally neutral people but which was leaning toward Kgitah, and the home system of this spaceship, Sigamee. All three planetary systems have seen their shares of wars. Generally, Kgitah and Dolaron were always on the same side, the good side, while Sigamee was on the other side, the wrong side. It appears that all conflicts have begun the same way, with Sigamee wanting to take control over the other two others. It means that, as far as he knew, he was on the good side, if there was one, unless those recordings were propaganda.
He opened his eyes and blinked a few times. He was calmer and the room had stopped spinning. Although still a little bit unstable, he managed to stand up and slowly walk toward the cockpit, passing in front of the holding cell.
″Hey, the Earthling, mind your own business. You have no right to be here.″
″You were ready to kill me, thus, it became my business. And how many times have you put your nose into Earth’s business?″
His answer shocked Rah, and at the same time, Daniel realized that he could understand and speak the Sigamee language. Jahana had turned around on her chair and was looking at the scene, smiling.
″Well… I can assume that it worked. How do you feel?″ she asked.
Daniel walked toward her, his hand holding the wall, his balance not fully regained.
″It would help if this ship stopped spinning, but the headache seems to be going away, and I do feel a little dizzy, like after a drunken night, but other than that, I feel fine.″ he answered.
″You’re not used to the artificial gravity of a spaceship, which is a little bit different than on a planet. A little bit of sleep should take care of that, and I need some rest too, I’ve been awake for way too long. We still have a long way to go and… I have to get out of those… tight jeans.″ she said, rubbing her thighs. “Interesting garment, but I need my full mobility.” she said with a wink.
There was only one bedroom on the ship, with two narrow beds. She showed Daniel the room, pointing to the beds.
″Take the one you want, I’ll be back in a minute.″
He let himself literally drop on the nearest bed, and laid down, almost immediately falling asleep over the soft metallic-satiny comforter. Jahana entered a few moments later. Daniel was already deep asleep and snoring. She took off her earthly clothes and slid under the satiny like sheets. With the touch of her finger on a colored plate on the wall, the lights dimmed down.
* * *
The office was cold. All the walls were uniformly gray and bare. No furnishing, no trinkets. Crom didn’t like anything useless, only what was efficient and useful. He was expecting no less and was doing no less. He looked outside through the large window, at the other asteroids of the bloc, a group of two hundred or so asteroids, of course, those the most promising, held together by strong magnetic links, keeping them fairly stable and slowly rotating.
Sigamee was mostly abandoned, some high value minerals having been found in those asteroids, including those of the AF-105 asteroid field. This mining operation was bringing enough goods to Sigamee so they could trade with essential products, essential for the survival of the Sigamee people. And more, this field was located only about 5 light-years from Kgitah. Such a small step…
Within this block, there was a cluster, more closely held together than the rest. People would argue it was pure coincidence, although someone with the appropriate sensor could detect a stronger than usual magnetic field around this smaller, more compact group.
The official reason is that it facilitated the exploitation, but it could also provide a shelter to whoever would want to… hide something.
Products from the mining were sent to Dolaron, in a regular monthly convoy. The next one was due to launch soon, in a few hours actually. Everything had to be perfect. Òn time.
He was scratching his chin, pondering what the future had in reserve for him. He had pretty much all he wanted: power and money, and the only thing out of his grasp, the control of the Coalition, would be his in the near future. A knock on the door got him out of his daydream.
″Enter.″ he said from a cold voice.
A young officer came in, wearing the classic black Sigamee jumpsuit.
″Sir, I’ve had no communication from Rah’s ship. It’s been twenty hours now.″ she said.
That was a delicate situation. He knew that Rah was going on Earth to make sure that Jahana, her brother and anyone involved were not going to… pose problems. Maybe he had been caught by some Earthlings. Maybe he was hiding and waiting for the right moment. He decided to wait. He knew that Rah was quite resourceful and that he would get the job done. He had full confidence in his Commander. And more, if he began to send calling signals toward the Earth, that would raise suspicion.
″Hum… yes… If you haven’t heard from Rah in six hours, send a search team at the location of his last communication. Quietly.″
″Yes, sir.″ said the officer, saluting the General with an arm to her chest.
The Sigamee left the office, softly closing the door behind her. Crom was again alone, with his thoughts. Ten hours and the point of no-return would have been met. He smiled nervously. A lot can happen in 10 hours..
* * *
They were back in the cockpit, Jahana in the pilot seat and Daniel in the co-pilot seat. Jahana was back in a white and blue flight suit and wedge heeled boots, while Daniel was still in his earthly clothes. All the windows of the cockpit were black.
″How come we don’t see any stars?″ he asked.
″Well, I’m no expert in this field, I’m only piloting this piece of crap,” she said, making a clear allusion that she didn’t like Sigamee crafts, “but we are in some sort of parallel dimension called the transpace. It’s like moving around inside the walls of a house. You can go anywhere, fast, but at the same time, you don’t see the lights of the rooms.″
″What do you mean, you don’t know? You don’t know how this spaceship works?″ he asked, puzzled.
“I’m not sure I understand what it is that you’re insinuating, Daniel. I know how to pilot it. I have basic knowledge of what an engine is, but the details of how it enters into Transpace or why we see no stars is not part of my knowledge. Do… Do you know how the engine in your snow plow thrower thingy works, or in your vehicles? How do all systems work?”
″Uh… no.″ said Daniel, realizing his comment. ″And it’s snowblower and the vehicles are called automobiles, or cars… but it doesn’t matter. I thought, I mean… in movies, the pilot… yeah, right. Movies. How could I hope the reality would be the same.″ he said. Again, in his mind, the situation was right out of a videogame scenario, or a movie, except this was reality.
An icon lit up on one screen accompanied with a melodious sound.
″We’re arriving at Beredius Station.″ she said.
Daniel browsed in his new memory.
″It’s a relay station, mainly a space port with restaurants, stores, and so forth. It’s used as a base camp for mining companies exploiting the nearby asteroid field. Large green vegetation areas are provided for the visit… we’re stopping here?″ he said, snapping out of the apparent publicity he was recalling.
″Yes, but not to visit the botanical garden.” she said with a smile. “We have to make our plan. They are probably expecting I would make the run directly to Kgitah and are certainly waiting for me there, which would cut us some slack.″
″Plan? What for?″
″I’ll tell you there, away from those… idiots.″ she said, pointing behind her with her thumb, toward the holding cell.
“But… Why not simply call, I don’t know, the police, the Space CIA, or I don’t know…. some authorities, to tell them to watch out for… whatever it is they have to watch out for. If the Sigames, if Rah and his band of clowns have prepared something, we should call… Who should we call?”
“Because it’s a lot more complicated than that.” she said, punching keys, turning knobs and controls.
The spaceship jumped back into the normal space and Daniel could now see the stars as well as the station as they were getting closer. Nothing special. A large sphere surrounded by a circular donut, covered with extension docking ports. There were no less than twenty spaceships already docked, from all sizes and shapes. Jahana found a port and docked to it.
″Aren’t you afraid that this ship will be recognized as Rah’s?
″Nah. Sigamees only have a few models of spaceships and this one is very common. I noticed at least five more already docked. Well, in appearance only. The common spaceships do not have holding cells or hypno-learning machines or disruptors, She said, raising her voice and looking toward the holding cell with a disgusted grin.
″And how about them… the prisoners?″ he asked.
″They will be fine here. We’ll be gone for about an hour anyway” she said, punching more keys on the console. But for now, you wait here. I have something for you before we leave the ship.″
She came back a few moments later with another suit, like hers but white and red, and with more… masculine boots than her wedge heels ones.
″Here. Put this on. That will not get too much attention. Your jeans will.″ she said, holding a white and red suit.
He put on the flight suit. It was as molding as Jahana’s, but he had the feeling of wearing nothing, and it was following each and everyone of his moves, very comfy and even felt warm for its thickness.
They left the ship and walked along the long docking tunnel, meeting with the outside belt of the station. The walls were painted a very faint green, but very dirty with streaks of dried grime at different heights, some apparently coming from condensation, and others as if someone had splashed liquid… or something else on the walls, and it hadn’t been washed in a long time. Not exactly appealing.
Everything had a smooth finish, no joints or anything, like if the tunnel had been molded from one single unit. The lighting seemed to come from everywhere, no bright spots, and no dark areas either. Everywhere, there were posters-like displays, advertising a restaurant, hotels, play rooms and merchandising areas, among other things. It was like a ″ad war″, each ad brighter and bigger than the other, often hiding a few in the process. There didn’t seem to have any rules for posting ads, or nobody was following them, nor enforcing them.
At about every 20 steps, there was a screen giving information on different star systems, the big cities, the weather, the level of traffic of the station, space debris and comets to watch for, etc. He had so much to see at the same time, he didn’t know where to look, and wanted to stop everywhere at everything.
″This way.″ she said, pointing in the direction of a restaurant, forcing him to stop staring at the screen.
They exited the donut to go inside the main station and followed a wide corridor reminding him of shopping malls from Earth.
Jahana headed for the entrance of what was evidently a restaurant. It was half empty. She selected a booth that was relatively out of view from the entrance and they sat. On the end of the table, by the wall of the booth, there was some kind of weird looking machine. She took something Daniel identified as a credit card, as it looked like one, and inserted it into a machine before scrolling what was evidently a menu pressed a few buttons.
Daniel knew what she was doing, ordering food, but he had no idea what it was.
They stayed silent for a long moment, both looking nervous like on a first date, glimpsing at each other. Jahana was regularly looking away, like searching for something or someone.. However, Daniel still had many unanswered questions.
″Okay,″ began Daniel, ″I don’t want to rush things or anything, but don’t you think I should know what you found about the Sigamees that is so important? You did ask for my help, after all.″
The console emitted a series of melodious beeps and a little door opened. Two bowls were there, filled with food and one spoon. Jahana took one and put the other one in front of Daniel. At first glance, it looked like a classic beef and vegetable stew… with worms. Squirming worms.
″Taste this!″ she said, all enthusiastic. ″This is the best thing you ever tasted.″
Daniel, a little reluctantly because of the worms, took a small bite. It was good, not the best thing he ever tasted, but good enough. Ah, Quebec’s poutine…
″Yeah, not bad… so… about our situation?…″
″Well…″ she said, looking down at her bowl and playing with her spoon in it, ″I… I don’t really know.″
″I strongly believe it would be best if you tell me, if you want my help, you know?.″
″I know that, what I mean is that I don’t know… what it is.″
Daniel stared at her and stopped chewing, frozen, like hit by a blast of the cold cannon, the mystery weapon of Master Spy I.″
″What the fuck do you mean, you don’t know?” he asked, bending forward. ”You told me that you and your brother have discovered something terrible about the Sigamees, and that’s why they’re chasing you. Was it just a… joke? Just for the fun of having an Earthling with you?″ he said, evidently shocked.
″Not so loud!” she whispered. “And no, that’s not a joke.” she said, a terrifying look in her eyes.”They’re after us, they’re after me. In fact, my brother saw them transport some dangerous bacteriological stuff and other forbidden parts. It was an accident. He didn’t mean to see that. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time, or at the right place at the right time, depending on which side you’re on. Anyway, after that, Crom and his men tried to kill him. They took me hostage. Gill freed me with the help of Uncle Pakit, who was killed helping us flee. Gill died on Earth. That’s all I know, and I also know that I have to reach the rebel group and get in contact with Kimal and Ethan.″
″Uh… oh. Dangerous bacteriological stuff. You mean a bacteriological weapon?″
″Yes… maybe. I don’t have the slightest idea what it is and… I don’t think Gill knew more.″
Daniel was playing with his food, not hungry anymore. His thoughts were getting off-track. Perhaps he had made the wrong decision, that he’s now heading towards a worse problem than what would have been on Earth. He realized at the same time that, although he was creating action games, he was not, deep down, a man of action, of quick thinking. But he was there, now and he had his life to protect.
“That rebel group? I think I’m entitled to a much more complete explanation.” he said, putting his spoon down, elbows on the table, listening carefully.
* * *
Rah positioned himself as far from the force-field as he could.
″What are you doing?″ asked Khor.
″There’s a simple notion that this annoying brat doesn’t know about this ship. When you’re docked to a station and you cut the ship’s power, the power provided by the station is not strong enough to maintain a force-field like this one to its strongest. All we have to do is throw something at it to weaken it.″
″Throw something? We don’t have anything to throw here.″ said Khor.
Rah grabbed him and before he could react, literaly threw him against the force-field, which responded by throwing him backward with a stronger push, making him fly to the back wall of the cell, Rah standing clear of Khor’s path. The blue light emitted by the force-field had dramatically lowered in intensity.
Rah gave himself a swing and threw himself against the force-field. There was a flash of blue light, but he was through, falling flat the other side, most of his swing stopped by the force field. He gathered himself and pressed the forcefield off button to shut it down.
He went back inside the cell where Larr was helping Khor to get back up. While they held his arms to drag him, he tried to hit Rah in the groin, partially succeeding, but both of them were too fat.
″That’s for pushing me against that fucking force-field.″ he said.
″Relax.″ said Larr. ″We’re free now, right? Isn’t it what you wanted?″
They hurried to the cockpit.
″Shit, she changed the access code. We can’t leave with it.″ said Larr.
″Not a problem.″ said Rah. ″Go get the guns.″
Larr and Khor stared at Rah with wide eyes.
″You don’t really expect to kill them on the space station, right? That could jeopardize General Crom’s plans.″ said Larr.
″Don’t argue. Find me a gun. That whore and this lowlife Earthling will pay for the embarrassment they did to me.″
Larr went to the back of the ship and came back with two pistols and one large gun requiring two hands to operate, which he gave to Rah who immediately pressed a button to unfold a visor screen in front of his eyes as well as generating a high pitch charging noise.
″Perfect. Let’s find our little friends.″ he said with a grin.
* * *
″So, you believe that what he knew, and the information provided by someone else from the resistance, could give an idea of what the Sigamees are preparing.″ asked Daniel, puzzled. “Ain’t that a litte slim to go on with?”
″Yes and no. Listen. He told me everything he knew while we were being chased. It might be partly speculation but if so, why would they want us so badly? Just a coincidence? I know Gill, and I know he wo…″
Daniel, who could see the door from where he was seated, saw Rah and his men, looking around. Since Jahana was facing him, she didn’t see them. But Rah saw him, his eyes widened, his face twisted in rage and he put his weapon to his shoulder. Daniel, awestrucked, tucked under the table, yelling to Jahana to take cover.
″Shit!!! Tuck!!″ was all he had the time to say before there was a bright flash of light where he was seated.
Jahana collapsed on the ground, holding her shoulder.
″I’m hit but this is superficial. Seems like a rebound or some indirect hit. How about you?″
″No, nothing, but apparently, they got a surprise.″
The plasma ball had hit a mirror located behind Daniel, revealed when he tucked, and had returned to its point of origin, toward Rah and his men. Larr got the energy ball in the chest and collapsed on the ground, smoking.
″Be careful, idiot!″ yelled Khor while taking cover.
Panic ran through the restaurant and in the confusion, Daniel and Jahana were able to move out of their booth and take cover in a service corridor, leading to the heart of the station, to the power generator.
It was a straight corridor with a circular section, filled with tubes and equipment, without really a place to hide. Daniel had grabbed a cloth from one table and was wrapping Jahana’s bleeding arm, but the fabric seemed to be based on plastic or something and was not absorbing anything.
″I’m okay, This won’t sponge the blood, it’s conceived to not absorb anything,that’s a tablecloth… The good news is that we have one less of them ..to worry about.″ she said, panting, holding her arm and pressing hard on her wound to try to stop the bleeding. “Now you know that we’re not safe and they want us dead for a reason.”
″Yeah, but what kind of weapon was that? I think my hypno-learning thingy jumped over that part about alien weapons one-oh-one.
″One-oh-what?… That’s a plasma gun. Very powerful, but can be easily deflected with a mirror.″
″So, all we have to do is wear a suit of mirror? Apparently, although shiny, those suits don’t offer much protection.″ he said pointing to Jahana’s wound.
″You can keep your sarcasm, Daniel. Now is not a good time. We have to get back to the ship. They can’t leave with it, I have changed the passkey code to the cockpit console. I had a feeling they would try something while we were out.″
″It wasn’t sarcasm, just a question. Okay, what do we do now?″ he said, puzzled.
″Follow me″ she said, looking in both directions before choosing one, as if guided by some instinct, as if she knew where she was going as she was progressing.
They were heading toward the power generator itself, the main room. At about half way, Jahana stopped. On the wall, there was a meshed panel. She tried to grab its sides and pull, but the panel didn’t move.
″It’s riveted in.″ she said, snapping her finger to the device.
Daniel had a smile of victory, put his hand inside one of the pockets of his suit and retrieved a pocket knife.
″What is that?″ she asked.
Something very useful on Earth.″ he said with a proud smile. The Earthling had something that could save them.
He got the blade out and set to work on the rivets holding the panel. They were made of some sort of plastic. It was hard, but he managed to cut them. All six of them. After the third one, he took the panel with his hands and pulled on it, ripping it out of the wall.
″Why don’t you say thank you to the primitive Earthling and his primitive tool?″ he said, smiling.
″Very funny Daniel. Now, get in.″ she said, frantically looking toward the entrance of the tunnel.
“Like… going in?” he said, then to her angry eyes, “Uh… okay…”
He got into the narrow conduit, followed by Jahana, crawling backward and holding the panel in her hands.
″Hey, little genius. Wouldn’t you have another primitive tool or idea which can hold that panel back in place so they don’t have a clue about where we are?″
“Shit” Move, we have to go”! She said, crawling, putting his wedge booted feet against his legs and pushing.
“Hey, okay… I’m not usually a duct crawler, you know?”
“That makes two of us. Now, shut the fuck up.” she said, pushing harder with her feet. Their slick suits were actually helping them slide inside the conduits. About five meters farther, Daniel got into a T junction.
“Go forward enough for me to clear it behind you and wait.” she said.
He did. Jahana followed, then crawled forward, making the turn.
″Now, crawl back and follow me.″ she said, now taking the lead.
They crawled as fast as they could, hit a sharp bend and got out about 30m farther, in a large room filled with apparently high power equipment. A loud humming-buzzing sound could be heard, almost deafening, mixed with the sharp clacking sounds of relays and contactors being worked.
″That’s the power generator of the station. From here, we can go anywhere, if we find the right tunnel, that is.″ she said, starting to browse around, looking at numbers printed over the grating of each one..
″I wouldn’t bet on that.″ said a raunchy voice.
″Rah!!″ exclaimed Jahana and Daniel at the same time, stopping and turning around to face the voice..
The Sigamee walked out from behind a large cabinet, his big gun aimed at them. He apparently reached the power room before them. Behind them, Khor was blocking their only exit.
″Finally, I got you, little worthless maggots. With all the trouble you generated, it will be a real relief to get rid of you. I’ll try not to damage the Earthling too much, we will need his body to study this… primitive species. We can always learn something from a lower form of life.″ he said with a sadistic grin. ″But hey, why not keep you alive? Barely.″ he added.
Daniel swallowed with difficulties. Jahana was slowly backing off, looking for an exit. Rah was standing still, three meters behind them, slowly aiming his gun, triggering the targeting screen to deploy.
There was apparently no way out. She tried to gain some time, time to think, to look around, to assimilate the sudden flow of information appearing to her from her hidden programming. She had to put him at just the right spot. Yes, that was it.
″So, you’re going to destroy my planet?″
″Who, me? No. You’re going to do it yourself. We will only seed it the right way.″
″Seed it?″ asked Daniel, puzzled.
″Yeah, well, it’s something that might be difficult for a primitive Earthling like you to understand, but let me explain.″ he began, suddenly forgetting that Jahana was there, only seeing the Earthling
″Our plan can’t fail. In a little less than three hours, we will launch a series of small probes from our regular cargo-convoy which makes the trip from AF-105 to Dolaron. Each of these probes is too small to be detected by a spaceship monitoring radar. Inside those probes is a little bacteria, of a new kind, which will be dispersed in the atmosphere as the probes will burn-up entering it, about four hours after their launch, and contaminate the whole planet.
″If it’s a bacterial strand, they will be able to retrace its origin.″ said Daniel.
″Oh no.″ answered Rah, giggling. ″That’s only the tip of the iceberg, like you would say. The bacteria will only affect humanoids, and give them an illness similar to the common cold. Of course, everybody affected will go to get the proper medicine, and that’s where our plan is at the genius level: the bacteria will react with the common cold medicine and turn… deadly! The affected will get feverish and die within two days. Of course, you won’t find a cure and will ask help from Dolaron, but they will not be able to do anything and even better, they will contaminate their own world.
Within less than a year, there will be so many people dead or ill that their army will be reduced to pretty much nothing and then we will go in, taking control of it and the Coalition.″
″But… you’ll be contaminating yourself!″ said Jahana, shocked, yet trying to look around, finding the clues she needed, and trying to get Rah himself to move.
“Of course not, my dear.” he said, turning his head, like realizing that she was still there. “We have the antidote, but since the bacteria will mutate while entering the atmosphere, it will be impossible for you to make one, because you will need the un-mutated bacteria to do so.″ he said, laughing.
″And you really think this will all work?″ Jahana said, and then, switching to English, quickly added, “When I’ll squeeze your hand, get down.″ before quickly returning to Rah. ″…And what are you going to do with me?″
″Oh, easy. I’ll scatter your atoms in the universe. If you don’t mind, I will take care of that right now.”
He raised his gun. Behind them, Khor moved away from the line of sight. Rah pressed the firing button and the tip of the cannon emitted a red glow. Jahana squeezed Daniel’s hand and half a second later, they were both lying on the floor. Daniel saw a red ball of light get out of the cannon, but instead of going straight out, it flared out, getting bigger then traveled backward, toward Rah, wrapping him in it. He collapsed on the floor, screaming of pain, a foul burning smell quickly filling the place..
Jahana, still holding Daniel’s hand, quickly got back on her feet and ran behind a large cabinet, dragging Daniel along.
Rah was out of the loop but Khor was still there, running to hide when he saw the large ball of plasma forming.
″What the hell happened?″ asked Daniel, shocked. ″A magnetic interference or something like that?
″Something like that. Plasma is affected by magnetic fields. I only assumed that if he was close enough of that transformer, its magnetic field would dissipate part of the plasma. I never expected this effect, but I’m not the one to complain.″
″Is he… dead?″ he asked, taking a peek at the smoking corpse.
″Not sure. Sure smells well done, tho.″ she said, smiling at her own humor.
″How did you know it was a transformer?″ he asked, amazed by her knowledge.
″It’s written on it.″ she said, tapping at an engraved plaque. ″Come.″
They crawled amidst conduits and luminescent tubes.
″I see him.″ said Daniel, his voice barely covering the ambient noise.″Just behind the blue vertical tube, to the left.″
Daniel carefully crawled to go behind Khor who was apparently afraid to be alone against those two fugitives. Using the ambient noise as a cover, he took a piece of pipe on the floor and hit Khor behind his flat head. There was a sinister cracking sound, he collapsed on the floor as a bluish liquid escaped from the head wound. Daniel stood still, the pipe still in his hand, slowly balancing back and forth, his face alternating behind triumph, fear and disgust. Jahana ran to him.
″Well done! Now, we have to get out of here and meet with the resistance. Then we will be able to warn the council.″
She grabbed his arm to have him snap out of his stunned state and follow her, dropping the pipe along the way. As they were running back to their ship, an alarm sounded. Bodies have been found.
The Old Movie
They reached the spaceship and turned on the power. She noticed a message on the com terminal.
″Shit! Rah sent a message. They will be looking for us. We have to get out of here, fast. Any idea?″ asked Jahana while taking place in the pilot seat and removing moorings.
Daniel searched in his new memory
″We’re close to an asteroid field, right?″
″Yes, AF-415. It’s a mining field, about 10 minutes from here at sub-light speed. I can see that hypno-learning did its job. But that’s probably where the ships would be coming from.″
″I believe so too. Go for it.″
″What? Are you suicidal or what? You want me to wander inside an asteroid field directly into the path where they will be coming from?″
″Well, they won’t see us coming… or they will and would not expect that we are actually doing it. Don’t they?
“That doesn’t make any sense, Daniel, but I’m out of ideas. And where exactly did you get this silly idea?
“Oh…An idea from an old science-fiction movie… on Earth.″
″We’re not in a movie Daniel…″
″I know, that’s why I’m asking you to hurry.″ he said, leaning forward, pointing at the radar screen, showing closing bleeps.
″Right. Take a seat and buckle your seatbelt tightly. This will NOT be a comfortable ride.″
The spaceship did a half-turn and she put the power to its maximum, even though she was within the safety zone of the station.
″If anybody is looking through a window, he will get a nice sunburn.″ she said.
The inertial dampeners were working in their red zone, Daniel was feeling getting squished in his seat.
″What is the radar saying?″ she asked.
Daniel had to struggle to bend over and look at the screen.
″Well, we’re heading straight for them, should pass… there you go…. They are still heading for the station.” he said, having more and more difficulty breathing, his chest crushed by the G forces.
″How… long until…″ he managed to say between two struggling breaths.
″A few… minutes, then what?″ she said, struggling herself with the G forces.
″Find one of the… biggest ones, then try to find a… hole, a tunnel, a cavern… or something where we could hide… Say, ever heard of… a spaceworm?″
* * *
Crom hit the desk with a closed fist.
″Find them! And kill them! I don’t care for the time it will take. One thing for sure: as long as they’re hiding in this asteroid field, they can’t contact anybody, so, if they get out I will kill you myself. Understood?″
″Yes, sir.″ answered the man, looking a little distraught on the screen. “But we only have small transport ships used to go from one asteroid to the another, no fighters. Our only weapon is the asteroid blasters. And miners are piloting them, not trained chasing pilots.”
“I gave you the description of their ship with its unique markings. Tell them that whoever is on that ship tried to steal ore and I will quadruple the pay of whoever kills them.”
“Yes, sir.” said the miner, smiling.
Crom cut the link. Three of his main men were dead. He didn’t know which information Gill could have given to Jahana and the rat. The missile should be launched three hours from now, after that, it will be very difficult to stop his plan. But he couldn’t take any chances. He had to get rid of any possible leak, he had to get rid of Jahana and the Earthling bug.
* * *
Jahana looked at her watch.
″Three hours to go before the said launch. Unless we destroy those probes or we find that antidote, two worlds will disappear.″
″I can’t stop thinking about it. How can someone be able to manage such an atrocity…″ he began to say then, remembering that, a few hours ago, he still had doubts about what he learned about the Coalition and the fact that Sigamee were the instigator of all the wars, that it might have been false. Now he knew.
They were lazing around, all stretched on their seats, looking everywhere and nowhere at the same time, hidden in the dark of that little cave they found. Not very large, but big enough to hide the ship in its shadow. Jahana was even sitting upside-down in her seat, wiggling her booted feet, looking at them
″What’s on the radar?″ he asked, coming back to the current situation.
She turned toward the radar screen, and turned it on. Twenty seconds was the maximum she could keep on, otherwise, they would be caught. She quickly flipped it off, no need to keep it even for that long.
″Not good. There’s about thirty-something ships patrolling the area. If we get out, we’re no better than dead. It’s only small transport ships, but their asteroid blasters do pack enough punch to seriously compromise the hull of our ship. How… how did they get out in your… movie?″
″Well… They got out, fought a little and then with a crazy maneuver stuck their ship on one of the enemy’s motherships and they undocked as the mothership went into light speed.
″Too bad they haven’t brought a mothership with them.″
″Yeah… wait. We have one of THEIR ships, right?″
″Yes, similar, but its I.D. code is associated with Rah’s ship, that’s why we can’t go out incognito, and, although I can hack and change the code, any random code would trigger a discrepancy alarm and, again, we will stand out on their radar screen like a pokalo in a flock of tramatang.″
He took him a few seconds to get the comparison of a parrot in a flock of ducks.
″Okay… And what would happen if we took the I.D. of another ship, already in the area?
″I.D. Conflict. You can’t have two ships with the same iden…″
″I know that, but what if we take the I.D. of a ship that has, let’s say… an accident?″
Jahana raised her eyebrows in a stunned expression.
″Listen before saying I’m nuts. We attract one here, we destroy it, take his I.D. and go off.″
“Daniel, this I.D. thing is a 200-plus digits code. You won’t memorize it and won’t be able to copy it by hand.”
“No problemo.” he said, making his fingers crack. “I’m a computer programmer, remember? All computers work the same way.” he said, punching a series of keystrokes, mumbling, grunting and finally whistling after a few minutes.
“There. I’m ready. A simple copy-paste function will do the trick.”
″I’m saying it anyway: you’re nuts. But this could work. We would have to wait until one, and only one ship flies nearby so it would be the only one who can trace us. That would be a tricky part. Okay, go to the radar screen, I’m taking the pilot seat.″
Daniel went and powered it on.
″Two of them are nearby, one is going away and the other one is getting closer. Should be at the right place in about 10 seconds. We still have 15 seconds before I have to turn it off.″
″Very well. As soon as it’s at the right distance, I will send a small radio burst. Countdown, please.″
″Sure do… In five… four… three…two… one… GO!
″Aaaand done! Cut everything off.″
″Radar off. Got his I.D. Code?″ she asked, hardly believing it herself.
“Yep. Loud and clear.” he said with a proud smile. “I’m ready to punch it into our beacon computer.”
″This is W10, I got a strange signal coming from an asteroid near me. I’m investigating.″
″Do you want back-ups, W10?″
″No. It’s probably just a parasite echo of my own radar, that asteroid is rich in metals. But just to be sure, I’d like to have a look.″
″Understood, W10. Keep us informed.″
Jahana and Daniel were listening, interested.
″Be ready, Daniel.″
″I’m ready… Radar on, got it: he’s coming toward us. Radar off. The canons are fully charged and ready. Your turn, Jahana.″
She moved the spaceship slightly to get more maneuvering space. She saw the fighter getting closer.
″Be ready… a little closer… just a little bit more… Come on…” she was mumbling to herself.
She fired one shot at full power. His particle canon was no match for the unprotected ship. It glowed and hit the side of the cavern before exploding. She pushed her ship forward and got out of there before the cave collapsed on them. Well, collapsing is a strong term, with the very low gravity of the asteroid, it more or less floated around, with a slight tendency to lump together. She did hit a few debris, which made a weird sound
″Gotcha! Quick, enter the new code.″
″Yes… damn, easier said than done… okay…. Paste aaaand… we’re done. We’re cleared. Now let’s get out of here before they send someone.″
″W10, this is W2, I saw an explosion. What happened back there?″
Daniel looked at Jahana’s
″What the fuck do we do, now? We didn’t think of that. We have to talk, but… Neither of us have the unique voice of a Sigamee nor its look for the video feed… We have to only talk to them. Any voice synthesizer or something? A Halloween costume head?″ he asked.
″No, sorry. If we answer, they will know and they will chase us. I didn’t think of that when I approved of your plan.″
″Hey, I didn’t think of it either… Oh!” he said, his face lighting up “I have an idea. Give me that piece of plastic bag over there.″ he said, pointing to a thin sheet of crinkly plastic. He crumpled it, smiling. ″Trust me… err… I can see the camera but, any idea where is the microphone on this thing″
She pointed to it and Daniel smiled, put his finger to his mouth and generated a lot of saliva to put on it. He smeared the camera with saliva. From the feedback video, it made a heck of a blurry image. Someone couldn’t tell the difference between a mouse and an elephant. He took the piece of plastic and while crumpling it non-stop he placed it next to the microphone.
″W10, here… “ he said, trying to take a raunchy voice as much as he could, “… chasing my own reflection… Hit… hit asteroid… heavy damage.″ he said, trying to sound as panicked Sigamee as possible
″Roger. What kind of damage?″
He looked at Jahana.
″Improvise!″ she whispered.
″Euh… Hull… breach…Io… Ionic concentrator unstable.″
Daniel cut the link.
″Wow, I’m impressed!″ said Jahana. ″By telling them that the ionic concentrator was unstable, they will keep their distance, afraid of being contaminated by the radiation. How did you get this idea?″
Daniel looked embarrassed.
″Well… that was the label in front of me… as the matter of fact, what exactly is an ionic concentrator?″
″Fuck, we have luck on our side. You could have taken something of no consequences and they would have asked us to continue the search, but you had to pick just the right thing. Awesome! And for your information, as far as I know, that’s the combustion chamber, or something like that.″
″Ah…″ said Daniel, thoughtful.
″And now, what do we do, according to your genius plan?″ asked Jahana, suddenly sounding happy.
″I dunno… where is the base where we should go to get this ship repaired?″
″The nearest one would be in the asteroid field AF-105. It’s just on the other side of Kgitah from here. In fact, that is from where the convoy with the probes has departed.″
″How long from here?″
″About three hours, why?″
″That’s perfect, then.” he said.
“Why perfect? We’re going to Kgitah, not AF-105”.
“No we’re not. Jahana, we HAVE to go to AF-105. If we take any other route, they will get suspicious.”
″What? Wait! Going to AF-105? I think the hypno-learning turned you for the worse. Are you suicidal or what? That field is controlled by the Sigamees.″
″Yes, and we are into a Sigamee ship which needs repairs. If the nearest repair post is there, we don’t have much choice unless you want the whole Sigamee armada on our tail. We could be there at about the launching time. We might be able to do something, destroy it or get the antidote. Any other ideas?″ he said, his eyes sparkling, smiling. He had a solution, a plan. Sort of.
Jahana felt her stomach squeeze with anxiety. Daniel was right, and his plan, or rather his draft of a plan, could work. It was the only plausible thing to do, as far as she thought, a chance to do something. But they were heading directly into the mouth of the monster.
The Mouth of the Monster
The trip to AF-105 was relatively calm. Since they were on board a Sigamee ship with communication problems and a leaking combustion chamber on its way to get fixed, nobody really took note of them. They used this little free time to get some rest.
″We’re going to enter the Sigamee control zone in less than an hour. We will have to be careful. And now, what’s next on your genius plan?″ she asked, a little sarcastic.
Daniel didn’t answer. His plan. Lucky, perhaps, but genius? He looked at the radar, again.
″Can you slow down a little? I wouldn’t want to miss the launch, if it hasn’t happened yet.″
″Yeah, I can, but not much. We don’t have any reason to slow down. We have communication problems and a possible radiation leak. Nobody would want to slow down with those.″
Daniel raised his eyes with that look and that little smile, signs of another pseudo-genius idea, like when he was trapping someone in one of his games.
″Oh shit! Not again one of those silly ideas! From a movie again?″
″Those silly ideas, like you say, have saved us so far. But no, it doesn’t come from a movie.″ he said, waiving in the air, chasing the thought as if it was a fly. ″We can’t communicate and we have a propulsion problem. The attitude control could be affected, right?″
″And… What do you suggest? Play dead and wait for the convoy? They will send someone to investigate.″
″Not exactly. Listen,” he said, “I’ve never piloted this thing, but you did it. You have an idea of how a damaged craft like that could be affected, how it could be handled.″
″Yes, a little, ″ she said, ″but I can’t turn the engine on and off like that. The system will compensate. We must have a real cut-off somewhere.″
Daniel thought for a moment.
″Is there any… spacecraft handbook section in the hypno-thing?″
″Not really. The manufacturer wants to make sure nobody alters their toys. Except for piloting instructions, there’s not usually much.″
″I see… but it’s a Sigamee ship, a modified one. Maybe, just maybe.″ he said, getting up and going to the learning room. A quick search and he found what he was looking for: the complete specifications of the ship. Time required: 5 minutes.
Jahana helped him take place and he quickly fell asleep.
* * *
Crom was getting more nervous by the minute. No sign of Jahana or the Earthling pest. They were still looking inside the asteroid field. It’s been hours now. Crom had given orders to the fleet to destroy every asteroid big enough for them to hide. Of course, the miners were protesting, but it had another consequence: drawing the attention away from THIS asteroid field and the convoy.
However, this was taking a long time, and after each hit, they had to search the debris for spaceship parts or even, biological residues, and even that wasn’t a fool proof method, because with time, many ship had crashed on those same asteroids, and the debris found might come from one of them.
Still one hour before the launch. Once the rocket would be launched and would have left the Sigamee convoy, the probes would be deployed and nothing would be able to stop them.
But as a start, the rocket had to be launched, and as long as Jahana and her friend were somewhere, there was still a risk for his plan.
* * *
Daniel got off the chair and was still a little dizzy by the learning session when he entered the cockpit. He crouched down in front of a console and pulled off the lower access panel. He blinked a few times, trying to get his eyes as well as his brain to focus. He put his hand inside and pulled a connector off.
The engine stopped dead, causing a catastrophic deceleration, where he almost got embedded into the access panel. Jahana’s seatbelts prevented her from flying across the cockpit. She nonetheless had her breath cut-off by the strength of the jerking.
″Hey! Be careful with that.″ she said, shocked and angry.
″So… Sorry. Hold on.″ he said, replugging the connector. The engine went back on-line at full power, pressing Jahana on her seat and sending Daniel sliding on the other side of the cockpit where he hit the other consoles with a thud.″
″Shit! Are you alright?″ she asked, quickly unbuckling and rushing to Daniel who was sporting a nice bump on the head.
″I think I’m okay. Shit, what the hell happened? I don’t understand such a deceleration and why the inertial dampeners haven’t kicked in?″
“Because there’s no inertial dampeners on small ships like that.” she answered.
″Let me tell you a good one: this one has. Right panel, lower center. There’s a button labeled ID. Press it.″
Jahana executed and a soft hum could be heard.
″I’ll be damned!″ she said, shocked.
″Okay,″ he said, rubbing his bump, ″I think I know why the sudden deceleration and instant acceleration: this way of… tweaking the engine seems to affect the… no, I don’t understand that startrek gibberish. Ready for another try?″
He went back inside the lower console as Jahana tried to understand the… startrek thing. The engine stopped again but this time, instead of sending everybody flying, the spaceship generated a very loud and low pitch sound. The dampeners were surging but doing their job.
″Wow. Impressive. Anything else interesting you got in there?″
″Yeah, a few,″ he said, still rubbing his head while taking the co-pilot seat, ″but it’s for later… if all goes well. When do you think we’ll be on their radar screen?″
″In about twenty minutes.″
″Good. We’ll start our… engine problems in ten minutes or so, so they do not coincide with them detecting us. Just to play safe.″
* * *
″Sir, I’m getting a strange bleep. It comes from a spaceship labeled W10, coming back from the AF-415 asteroid field. It’s acting strangely.″
The officer got closer to the radar operator who showed him a dot, identified as W10. The dot was moving fast, then stopping, then fast again, would change direction abruptly, stop, start, etc.
The officer executed the orders. The communication was established, audio only, weak and very noisy. He could barely hear the pilot over the noise.″
″Communication problem. Propulsion and attitude control going berserk. Be advised of a radiation leak. May not be able to dock. Keep your distance… Trying to fix problem…″
″Advise spaceport 5 and don’t lose sight of it.″ said the commanding officer, ″and try to tell him to keep away from the convoy. I wouldn’t want a collision.″
At the same time, at the edge of Kgitah’s System, just past the orbiting plane of the sixth planet, as the regular convoy was passing by on its regular route, it unusually jumped off from transpace into the regular space. In the middle of it, what appeared to be some sort of cargo hold, detached from one of the ships and flew away as the convoy jumped back into transpace.
Crom was smiling. There. Done. In a few hours, it will be over, but he was still nervous. Where were those stupid annoying jerks?
For Kgitah’s radar operator, all of that would have been nothing else than one of those strange bugs in the shipments, bugs that seemed to be affecting them for the past months, for which the Sigamee claimed of not being able to find the cause because these glitches didn’t show up on their systems.
* * *
″I don’t see… yes! There it is. I can see the conv… and it’s gone back into transpace. Damn. Did they really launch something or did Rah play with us? I should have known. He sent us out on a wild uppo chase! Fuck!″ she said, sitting back on her chair.
Daniel didn’t say a word, just walked to the screen and, using both hands, pressed a series of buttons. The screen lit up like a Christmas tree with dots everywhere.
″What the f…″
″It’s an experimental enhanced detection system.″ he proudly said.
″Yeah, experimental. There’s so much stuff on this screen, we can spot each and every satellite orbiting Kgitah, and look at this one going… straight… Wait a minute!″ she said, zooming closer.
″Strange, not a standard propulsion system, so hardly detectable… could this be it?″ he asked.
″Yeah! It’s like it’s been launched by the convoy!″ exclaimed Jahana.
″So they jumped out of the transpace just to launch it and left right after. You got all that recorded, I hope.
″Oh yes! Yes I do.″ said Jahana.
″Do you think you could get us closer?″ he asked.
″I will do what I can. Not easy when you cut-off the engine like that. Speaking of that, better go easy with it. There’s a lot of overheating components and overloaded sensors giving warnings, and I don’t know how long the inertial dampeners will last.″
″Understood.″ said Daniel. Back under the console, he gave one long burst of control so that Jahana could maneuver the ship into the right direction to intercept the rocket or pod or whatever it was.
Now, they were going straight for it.
″Change route, W10. Move away, you’re on a collision course with a satellite. Change course to 0-138-53 now. I repeat…″ was yelling one of Kgitah’s radar controllers, unaware that it was not a satellite. The deception had been well thought of.
But Jahana was concentrating on her piloting skills.
″Closer… again… now!″ she said.
Daniel pushed the plug into the connector one more time and got out of the console. Jahana pushed the engines and turned around, matching the rocket’s velocity. It wasn’t very large, about 3 meters wide by 8 meters long.
″Okay, unplug the transponder or we’re dead.″ yelled Jahana. Daniel pulled a wire harness and sparks flew.
″That should do the trick″ he said, proudly holding the harness over his head like a dead animal
″Shit, stupid earthling. You didn’t have any other way to unplug it?″
″Why? It works, right?″
″Yea, but we NEED the transponder to get to Kgitah. Without an I.D. we’re as good as dead.″
″Yeah. Oops, it seems to be a habit of yours.″ she said, suddenly forgetting all the good ideas he had.
″Hey, one minute here! May I remind you that YOU brought me with you in this, without really asking me for it in the first place? I’m only trying my best to keep us alive and save YOUR planet, a planet for which I have no interest.″ he harshly answered.
″So… sorry. The stress… I’m…″
″No, it’s okay. I’m sorry too. I should have thought a little before pulling the harness out. Come on. We have one hell of a completely stupid plan to complete.″
They were flying side by side with the rocket, only a couple of meters apart. Jahana had put on a spacesuit. It was somewhat tight fitting and molding, white with blue ribbed portions over the limbs and body joints. He helped her put on her gloves, the boots which had a rather high wedge heel, and the helmet. He gently tapped on the helmet and raised his thumbs.
″Good luck and be careful!″ he said, smiling. A nervous smile. Again, it was not like she was just a stranger, an alien to him. It was a deep friend. More than a friend. There was something, a connection.
He helped her get into the airlock and initiated the decompression procedure. Once the outer door opened, he rushed to the pilot seat and made sure to hold the position in regard to the rocket. He could see Jahana, linked to the spaceship by an umbilical cord, which was bringing her power and air.
She was floating toward the rocket, helped by a small jet backpack. Daniel would have loved to do it. Who wouldn’t want to be an astronaut! But his total lack of experience didn’t make it the first choice.
Jahana didn’t have a lot more experience, or even real experience, but it was part of Pakit’s programming. Well, some part of it.
She reached the rocket and grabbed a hold with magnetic hooks, then crawled along the fuselage until she reached an access panel, about one third up, all from technical data Daniel learned in his learning session. Why the complete details of that rocket and the plans were in that file, he couldn’t understand it either. Then again, Rah could have had a hand on it. In any case, it helped them conceive a plan. This plan.
Six screws were holding the panel down. Jahana took the tool hooked to her belt and, slowly, proceeded to remove the screws, not taking care to keep them, letting them float beside her in the weightless environment.. It was slow and long and all Daniel could do was watch and bite his fingernails off.
″One more… Okay, two more.″ she said, lying to Daniel and to herself, trying to find some motivation.
The panel piloted as best he could to stay along with her. With caution, she looked at the plan Daniel had drawn and looked for the components through the opening. Finally, she found them and was able to reach them with her hand. She pulled on it and a small block that could be held in the palm of the hand came off.
″Probes launching modules off-line.″ she said.
″Awesome work!″ said Daniel. ″They can’t launch the probes anymore. Now you have to get a bacteria capsule.″ he said, his voice shaking.
”On my way.″ she answered, crawling to the tip of the rocket, near the nose cone, where she began to work on another panel, this one being held by twelve screws.
″It’s gonna take some time.″ she said.
″No sweat. The radar is clear.″ answered Daniel.
Crom was fuming. How could they let a spaceship get this close from his rocket. That could jeopardize his whole plan especially if it nudges it off target. It should compensate but…
″They must have been destroyed, sir. All I get is a single bleep for the rocket.″
″What was his I.D. again?″
″W10, sir. A mining vessel that got damaged in the AF-415 field. It was damaged after hitting an asteroid. It was coming back for repairs but was having some engine problems.″
″What kind of damage exactly?″ asked Crom.
″Communication problems at first, then it began to have attitude and engine control when it approached Kgitah…″
“With that kind of damage… oh shit! Any other ship came back from AF-415″
″No sir. I was about to call them off following your orders, sir.″
″Shit, shit, shit!!! It’s them. Send fighters. Find them and destroy them!″
″But the rocket, sir?″
″I said send fighters NOW and tell them to AVOID THE ROCKET. Isn’t that clear?″
When Daniel heard the chasing orders on the radio, he panicked.
″Hurry up, Jahana. They’re on us. You have ten minutes!″ he yelled into his microphone.
″Only two more screws.″
″Forget the capsule. We have to get away, now!″
″No. I have time. And we need those proofs!″
The fighters were quickly approaching. Jahana was taking the last screw out and once the panel was removed, she had to unscrew one of the capsules before being able to get back to her spaceship. As she was grabbing a capsule, a fighter did a fly-by, reporting his sighting to the controller. His orders were clear: destroy the spaceship, eliminate whoever was on the rocket, but at all costs, save the rocket.
However, the spaceship and the rocket were so close to one another that most of their shots missed, although they were way too close for Daniel’s nerves.
″Hurry, Jahana, hurry!″ said Daniel, trying to pressure her to move fast.
″I’m doing the best I can… Careful! Straight ahead!″
Daniel looked and saw the attack fighter coming straight at him. In this position, they were the perfect target. Before he could even say it, he was at the firing console and fired a full blast. He didn’t have to take care of the rocket. Aim and shoot! The best first-person game ever!
The Sigamee fighter was hit head-on but he had time to fire and Daniel’s ship was hit on its side, only sustained superficial damage, which brought it closer, almost colliding with the rocket.
″HURRY! If another one has this idea, but comes in from behind, we’re through!″ he said.
″Shit! Got it! I’m coming back.″ she said, pulling on her umbilical cord as fast as she could.
A quick look at the rear monitor to see that, in fact, someone else had thought about it.
″Hurry up! We have one up our ass!″
″I’m in the airloooooo…″
She didn’t have time to finish her phrase. Daniel pushed the power to its maximum and did crazy maneuvres to avoid the fighter’s fire. Jahana was getting banged on all sides of the airlock in the process.
″Hey… Care… ful! The dampeners… do… don’t work in.. the aaaaair… lock!″
″Sorry, perhaps you would prefer being hit by a flow of high energy particles?″ he said, doing another jerking move.
Jahana didn’t answer. She understood, and she was trying to grab a hold of something.
Daniel did a few more moves, then was able to aim and fire. The Sigamee ship was hit on its flank, and exploded.
Jahana got into the cockpit a few moments later, still in her spacesuit but without the helmet, her hair in a mess, a bruise on her cheek and holding her left arm.
″I think so. That was no fun back there.″
″I believe you, but here neither. Okay,″ he said, adding a little victory smile, ″time to use another one of this ship’s little secrets.″
″What do you m…″
Daniel had already pressed a series of buttons and the ship accelerated faster than Jahana thought possible.
″They have an ionic booster on a ship this small? That explains why there’s no cargo space.″ she said.
″Yeah, and some other little gadgets. We’ll be at the probe’s release point in about an hour. Care for a little learning session?″
Jahana was perplexed but agreed. She removed the rest of her spacesuit and took place in the learning chair.
Crom’s blood was boiling. His perfect plan was about to go south because of two little insignificant pieces of trash, including a primitive Earthling. Fuck!
He was barking orders to find them, to destroy the ship and make sure that they were both dead. In fact, he had asked to see their bodies, which was making the destruction of their spaceship more difficult, as the bodies had to be preserved.
Spaceships from all around were converging to Kgitah. Crom had given the alarm stating the convoy had been hijacked, so that even Kgitahns authorities were on the lookout. He hoped that his rocket would go unnoticed and that everything would go according to his plans. He didn’t know the condition of his rocket, what Jahana had been able to accomplish on it. To avoid detection, it had no telemetry, no active radar, no nothing. He was hoping for the best, but fearing for the worst.
Jahana entered the cockpit, still feeling a little dizzy.
″Damn! That’s crazy what they done to an apparent ordinary spaceship… and completely stupid to have left all the information about their plans in it… yeah, stupid… Strangly stupid.″ she said.
″This was Rah’s ship, Crom’s right hand man. Who knows what other very important information is hidden into these data banks.″ he said.
Jahana kept silent for a moment.
″Yeah, you’re right, which means that they will now stop at nothing to destroy us and this ship. We are now a major risk to their plan and their empire. We don’t stand a big chance to come out of this alive.″ she said.
″Well, that’s a nice way to say that we’re no better than dead.″ he said. ″But it’s not over.″ he added
Jahana hugged him tightly. She said nothing. She perfectly knew the odds, but she knew Kgitah, and they might have the luck they needed. Fifteen minutes later, they were back into normal space.
″Anyway, so far, I’m having fun… okay, I have five dots on the radar″ said Daniel’s
“The only reason for them to have ships here is that they were already patrolling the area, which is by itself, a violation of the treaty. Hang on!″ said Jahana.
Streams of hot, ionized particles were whizzing by their small ship. Jahana was doing all she could to avoid them. The hypno-learning has given them precious information about the capabilities of this ship modified by the Sigamee Secret Services, and very well received enhanced performances.
″Kgitah’s security must have spotted us by now.″ said Daniel.
“Yeah, having the Sigamees firing asteroid deflecting shots at another ship is not very common.” she said.
“Asteroid deflection blasts? What the hell?”
“They can’t use their… hidden weapon and reveal that they are in fact full fledged attack fighters. So they use the standard asteroid blasts. Not enough to destroy us but they can disable our ship.”
“Oh, right.” said Daniel, the information triggering the details of his new memory. So, they must be looking at what’s going on. They should be here to protect us at any moment now, right?”
″Yes and no. We don’t have a valid transponder, remember? We are an unidentified vessel, who knows, probably pirates following what Crom must have broadcast. We have only one chance.″
She turned the radio on.
″Mayday, Mayday, this is Jahana, niece of Pakit from Kgitah, sister of Gill. We are being chased by Sigamee fighters. Requiring immediate assistance. We detain vital information for Kgitah’s fate. Mayday, Mayday!!″
She repeated the message two more times.
″Well, now, all we can do is wait for the results.″
She was heading for the planet. The Sigamees could clearly see that she could escape and they could easily destroy them, but they had strict orders from Crom: they had to bring back the bodies! Destroying them was simply out of the question. They had to damage the ship only. They sent a few warning shots.
″Hey! What the fuck are they doing? I’ll show them.″ said Daniel, aiming guns.
″NO!″ yelled Jahana. ″Do not fire. This ship is not supposed to have weapons. If we fire, Kgitah’s security will take us down without asking questions.″
Daniel pulled his hands away from the console as if it was burning. Jahana made the ship plunge into the atmosphere. Another warning shot was fired from a Sigamee ship, which hit them.
″Engines compromised.″ said Jahana. ″I’m losing control. Hang on, this is gonna be a rough ride!″
Which Way Out?
The ship was diving into the atmosphere at a ludicrous speed. Its outer shell was starting to act like an ablation shield, although it wasn’t made to do that, and it wrapped the ship in a bubble of melting metal, blocking the view. Jahana could only read her instruments which were getting affected and dying by the second. Per intermittence, she could see the ground getting closer. She was looking for some flat terrain, with as few trees as possible, but there were only mountains and a lush forest.
She saw familiar buildings over there, on her right. She knew there was a clear field in this area, all information coming from Pakit’s programming. She tried to pilot the ship to go into that direction, losing a lot of altitude doing so. She hit the top of the canopy, bounced back then plunged again, having lost too much speed.
It was brutal, leaving a trail of close to a kilometer long behind it of broken trees and little fires, as well as a long and deep trace on the ground until they finally stopped.
One explosion and the emergency door flew away. Two persons, wearing full space suits and helmets jumped out, sinking to their calves in the soft and muddy soil. Behind them, the shell of the ship was generating a series of popping sounds as it was cooling off, a wall of steam rising from it.
″We… We’re in the Liya’s swamps. I know the place… I think. Come. This steam column will give our position in no time.″ said Jahana, pulling Daniel by the hand.
Daniel was in awe. That forest was luxurious and had wonderfully colorful trees, not only the plain boring forest-green of Earth. No, there was pink and orange and yellow leaves,
″Exactly. The rescue teams, the army, will find us faster if we stay here.″ said Daniel, chinching his chest. That landing hurt his ribs and probably broke one or two.
″No. Come. Forget the military. Those are the last ones I want to see. We have to reach the great pyramid. From there we’ll get help,″ she said, producing a handheld device, looking at a screen and pointing in a direction. “That way.”
Daniel was puzzled. Why would Jahana want to avoid the army? He had no time, nor the energy to ask, panting and sweating, fighting the wet sucking ground from which was emanating a stinky rotten smell. They were wearing their spacesuits, but not the breathing backpacks.
His boots were sinking deeply, sometimes almost to his knees and he was glad they were attached to the suit, otherwise, they would have been long gone, sucked by the mud. The humidity was barely bearable and he would have loved to take the top off his suit, but it was a one piece suit. He lowered the front zipper, to try to let in cool air but it didn’t help much. The air was hot and humid.
He stopped and tried to take off his helmet in an attempt to remove the top portion and to knot the sleeves around his waist. Jahana turned around when she stopped hearing him move.
″No! Don’t do that!″ said Jahana, wondering why he was not following. ″Put your suit and helmet back on RIGHT NOW, and keep it closed. I know it’s hot and uncomfortable, but believe me. Keep it on.″
″Why? Moskitos?″ he asked, putting his helmet back on.
″Ilarums… what are they?″
″A sort of spider. They hang by their web and drop on us. They only target one area of their victims: their back, more precisely, their spine, right between the shoulder blades. There, they bite and insert their spiked tongue down to the bone marrow, paralyzing their victim. Then, slowly, they pour down a venom which liquefies the inside, and they suck on it, slowly. It can take them six month to eat a man, and he’s kept alive for most of the process, suffering non stop for four months. The venom will continue its destructive work even if we remove the ilarum. It’s irreversible. This spacesuit will protect against them. They can’t bite through it.″
″Well, they can drop on our heads or on our hands and we could barely notice them.″ said Daniel.
″Well, no. They hate hair and for our hands, they wouldn’t fit on them.″
″Wouldn’t fit on them?″ What the hell is the size of those things?″ asked Daniel, stopping dead in its tracks.
″It’s…″ she said, freezing in her motion. ″Well… all you have to do is turn around and look up, slowly… very slowly, and you’ll see.″
Daniel felt his blood drained from his body as he slowly turned around, afraid to lift his feet from the ground’s sucking force. What he saw almost made him puke. It was a tarantula, but with a 40cm body and 60cm legs, two very large eyes and two very sharp jaws making its head. Its skin was covered with short but apparently very rigid hair, like a porcupine. The creature was staring at him, hanging from a thread of silk two cm in diameter. It was making her legs dance and was opening and closing its slime dripping jaws with a horrifying clacking sound.
″What… do… I… do… now?″ asked Daniel, his voice failing.
″There was a flash coming from behind him and the giant spider flew in pieces, splashing Daniel with gooey residues and very smelly body parts. His face was covered with it because he hadn’t closed the visor. He was wiping it off his face, panicking.
″ What the… you said we were protected by our suits… W… Why blast it?″
″Because you were no less than dead. You’re stepping on one of its kids.″ she said. She was about to strike and kill you.
Daniel looked at his feet. Under his right foot, deeply pushed inside the mud, he could see 8 legs of about 10cm long, slowly moving.
″Oh shit!″ said Daniel, with disdain.
″It’s okay, it’s dead. Come on.″ she had to say, twice. Daniel was scared frozen.
″This is not what I expected from your planet.″ he said “Sounds like Australia!”
And what were you expecting?″ she asked with a smile. ″Eden?″
″I… forget it.″
They struggled to walk in the deep muddy soil. They saw more ilarums, four in all. Now, Daniel was taking great care where he was setting his feet down. Finally, after an hour of an exhausting walk, they walked out of the swamps, into firmer ground and entered a less dense forest, where they could get rid of their spacesuits, keeping only the undersuit, the gloves and their boots.
He would have stripped down to his underwear but Jahana advised him against it.
“Well, there are still the mosquitoes.” she said.
“Oh… And their size is…?” asked Daniel, freaking out.
“For this planet.” she said, giggling as Daniel had a sudden face of horror “ Nah, they’re regular, I mean a few millimeters long, assuming that’s what you have on Earth. That’s what we have here and on Dolaron, even on Sigamee. Those little blood suckers are everywhere!” she said, laughing.
After a long walk in the woods, fighting those same mosquitos, they reached a little creek where Jahana sat on a large rock and pulled out a strange looking antenna from the handheld device.
“What is that? A radio or something?” he asked.
“No, it’s a locator. It gives our position on the planet.”
“Oh, like a GPS on Earth. But why the antenna?”
“To recharge it.”
“With what? Air?” he asked, puzzled.
“No, with the energy flow.” she said. “Oh right, the hypno-learning didn’t cover that because it’s… well, basic. Okay, There’s the Mak-Ryi Antenna Park located about a third of the way across the planet from here. Energy is produced and transmitted through special frequency radio waves throughout the atmosphere. Anyone can catch that energy. It is used to recharge everything, from communicators to portable computers, even houses can tap into this free energy distribution. Only big manufacturing plants would have power cells, either Mirox or Kar, although Kar is mostly used for spaceships.” she explained.
“Darn. Tesla was not that crazy after all.” he said, eyes wide.
“Tesla?” she asked.
“Yeah, a guy who, over a hundred years ago, dreamed of transmitting energy through the earth. People would simply push some wire in the ground and get free electricity.”
“Wow. He was quite advanced. He never made it work?” she asked, puzzled.
“No, and he was considered a dreamer. Nobody believed in this theory. He did invent a lot of things we still use, tho, but enough of him. I need to cool down.” he said as he quickly threw himself into the cold water, kneeling and splashing himself with the refreshing liquid, trying to wash his face from the still stinky and gluey ilarum residues, and also ease the stinging feeling he got from all those mosquitoes bites on his neck. Apparently, Earth’s blood tastes better as Jahana barely got bitten. He then stopped dead and stared at Jahana.
″There… there’s no danger in doing this, isn’t it?″ he asked.
″Nah.″ said Jahana, smiling, ″as long as you avoid teasing the creeks’ piranhas.″
Daniel jumped out of the water, slipped and fell back, his arms flapping needlessly in the air. He was furious.
″I’m joking!″ quickly added Jahana. ″There’s no danger in these waters.″ she said.
Daniel hesitated. He was looking at her with a mix of hate and suspicion. He did not find it funny.
“Fuck you!” he finally said, but not really meaning it. He would have done the same pranks if they were on Earth. He carefully went back into the cold water.
Jahana got up and kneeled into the water beside him, gently splashing herself with it, wetting her long hair. Daniel did the same, always looking at her, expecting her to jump out of the water. He got out at the same time and sat on a large rock.
″It’s gonna be dark in less than two hours.″ said Jahana. ″It would be best if we could reach the pyramid before dawn.″
Daniel took a deep breath, gathering all the energy he had left, which was not much.
Jahana took the lead. The trek was a lot easier than in the swamps. Two hours later, they were still walking as the night had fallen. They could see only by the light shed by one of the two moons of Kgitah and the iridescents flora, emmenating purple and blue lights. It was nothing new for Jahana but for Daniel, this was quite a sight.
″Almost there.″ she said. ″I can see the lights.″
The high, squared top of the pyramid was lit and visible through the trees. Just a few hundred meters and they would be there. Daniel was stunned when they got closer.
″Damn! That thing is huge and looks like one of those Mayan step pyramids, or something like that. I’m sure I’ve seen something similar on Earth.″ he said.
″Euh… yes. You have one similar to that. An error by the Dolarons.″
″Daniel looked at her, puzzled.
″The Dolarons visited the Earth a very long time ago, over three thousand of your years ago, and even had a colony there. Those buildings were housing their energy source. They left the Earth suddenly for a reason I do not know and they’re not willing to share, and in the rush, they failed to destroy their pyramid.
With time, the indigenous people believed those buildings were made by and for Gods. The Dolarons went back a few hundred years later to destroy it but they couldn’t because the civilization had evolved drastically, to the point of building pyramid replicas and using them as tombs, and it might have changed the outcome of evolution. So they only removed all their equipment and molded the rooms as ritual burial chambers to this time, copy the natives.
Naturally, they had colonies here too…with similar results.″
″And this one houses a generator?″ asked Daniel.
″No, it’s abandoned. Well, not exactly. Come.″
She led him toward one of the entrances. She knew where to go with her new memory, and that the resistance was a very large group of people, very well organized, including tens of thousands of people, from all walks of life, from all the continents. She put her hand on a metallic plate to the right of the door and it opened without a sound, like floating. Behind it, a man, weapon aimed, was blocking the way but quickly lowered his gun when he saw Jahana.
″Jahana! Oh god, you’re alive! We thought you were dead. We learned about your brother and Pakit. The bastards… They were good compatriots… And your friend, who’s this?″
″An Earthling who was willing to help me. I… I MUST talk to Kimal. Quickly.″
″An Earthl… But… oh, yes. Kimal. We are… Come. I’ll bring you to him.″ said the guard who seemed to be excessively happy to see Jahana. ″But he… he won’t be here for a few hours. I’ll bring you to meed Nal-li″
″Very good. Thank you.″ said Janana, looking at Daniel, repressing a laugh.
“You should see your face.” she said, laughing at the wide smudge of mud he had across his face.
“Well… You should see yours.” he replied, smiling, she wasn’t smudged but putting the doubt in her mind made him happy, just the revenge from the creek.
The guard led them through a labyrinth of corridors and staircases. Daniel had no clue where he was, but he knew he was still around the edge, on a higher level, when he entered a large room where an old woman was sitting in front of a large row of windows, showing a wonderful view of the mountains and the moon high in the sky.
The short woman raised from her seat. A large smile appeared on her face. Her green eyes opened wide as she approached Jahana. She put her fingers through her very long fiery red hair while approaching them.
″Jahana,″ she said, hugging her. ″I’m so glad to see you. Kimal explained the whole adventure to us. I’m really sorry for Gill and for Pakit. They were true soldiers. For all of us, they are heros. You are heroes. You did get more information, right? About what Crom wants to do?″
″Yes, Na-li″ answered Jahana, quickly spitting out what they had discovered, then she picked a box attached to her belt that Daniel hadn’t noticed before and handed it to the woman with precautions.
″We will analyze that right away.″ she said, putting the small container on a plate from which it disappeared a few seconds later. ″The militia knows you’re here?″
″They must know by now, by plotting my trajectory. I couldn’t choose where I was landing… I had… I had no control.″ she said, almost sobbing, all the stress left behind was now coming back.
″It’s okay. We saw you. You demonstrated real prowess piloting the ship in those conditions, Jahana. We’re all very proud of you, and I think you’re right: the militia knows where you are and will probably invade this place within the next hours. I have to warn everybody to get ready for the attack.″ she said, walking back to her desk and pressing a few buttons making the screen pop-up, floating, like suspended in mid-air. She pushed a few buttons and talked to someone else.
″I’m sorry. I did the best I could. Those… flying skills, Pakit implanted them in my brain. I don’t have a lot of merit for them… nor excuses.″ Said Jahana as Na-li ended the transmission.
″It’s all in your honor to have been able to use them like that, with so little experience, Jahana. You’re honoring Pakit and all of those from the Program.″ said Na-li.
″Of the Program?″ asked Jahana.
″Yes, the Program. You and Gill are not the only ones to have been… pre-programmed. There’s a few thousands around the planet. It was Pakit’s idea, of course, not backed up by the authorities at the time. Nobody trusted the Sigamees. Pakit had the idea of programming… useful knowledge to as many people as possible. He believed in the Prophecy, but nobody knew who it was going to be. You’re the only one that I know where said programming has been activated, tho, and as far as I can tell, it worked perfectly.″ she said, smiling.
“The Prophecy? What prophecy?” Asked Jahana.
“The Djiahanel Prophecy.” said Na-li, as if it was obvious.
“But… that’s a legend. Nobody believes in that thing” she said..
Daniel was trying to understand.
″J… Jahana. What is all this? Why flee the army of your own planet? What is that implanted… programmed stuff, I thought it was through hypno-learning. What are you talking about? Are you some kind of cyborgs, androids?″
He suddenly made wide eyes and stepped back..
″Oh shit. Cyborgs! I should have known! Why would they fire on you with such a large weapon? Of course! Damn… But…″
He was telling this and walking nervously back and forth, brushing his hair with his hands, under the amused look of Jahana and Na-li.
″No, Daniel. Calm down.″ said Jahana with a soft tone. ″We’re not … Daniel… DANIEL!!!″
He snapped out of it, frozen, a stunned look on his face.
″We are not cyborgs, Daniel. That doesn’t exist… Well, not here anyway. We are only a group of rebels, like I already explained to you.″
″Ah… shit. Why didn’t I think of it in the first place? Why someone alone would flee like that without going to the police or I don’t know. It’s my fault. I should have thought about it. I should have stayed on Earth… But… Why rebels? This world seems ideal, well, according to what the hypno-thing burned in my brain. Why, Jahana. Why?″
She took his hand. He was close to hysteria, hyperventilating. He took it back. For someone used to programming video games, the events of the last hours were overkill.
″Ah yeah? And why the fighters let you pass through if you were a wanted rebel?″ he said, trying to corner her.
″Because I used the emergency channel. With this channel, the distress signal is received by everybody: police, media, the rebels, and of course, the army and the presidency. I gave out my name, who I was and by who I was being chased by; Sigamee fighters. All the media, rescue personnel, as well as the militia, had their eyes and ears turned to me and the Sigamees. Sigamees are NOT supposed to have fighters. They have asteroid diverting blasters, which are no way powerful enough to destroy a ship. Nobody could goof off. That’s why nobody fired on us. As for the ideal world you thought we had, it’s for this world to stay ideal that we’re fighting, that we’re rebelling. Moaol, the Coalition’s leader, is teaming with Crom. Crom has him eating out of his hand.
Moaol wanted to negotiate a trade agreement with Sigamee but the planet’s population is not very hot to the thought. My brother was part of the resistance. That’s what I… omitted to tell you. The rest, what he discovered, what Crom was planning and all the rest is true. The population is unaware of what Moaol wants to do. We had doubts that Crom was preparing something but no proof. Gill found the tip of the iceberg but that was not enough. What we needed was the whole plan and sufficient proof to arrest Moaol and Crom. However, I don’t have them. Not all of them, that is.”
″Uh… okay. Let’s assume that all of that is true. I understood the need for direct proofs and stuff, but for the virus? We have a sample. It’s a proof, isn’t it?″
″No. We would need a recorded conversation or pictures. A simple vial is not enough. All they have is our word that it comes from that rocket… You have the freedom of choice, Daniel. You come with us or I let you go. For the first option, I’m asking you to trust us. In the second option, I don’t give you a lot of chances of survival, but I’ll do everything I can to send you back to Earth as quickly as possible.″
″There is a third solution.″ said Na-li with a calm, almost comforting voice
Jahana and Daniel turned to her.
″You can stay hidden here while things calm down. We will get you home after that.″
Daniel was mute. Could he have confidence in her? On Jahana? He knew that it was a certainty that Crom was trying to poison Kgitah’s atmosphere. He couldn’t be on the wrong side of it. He was within a group of people who were trying to save this genocide. Going back on earth, he knew it was impossible. Hiding… yeah, right. He would be nothing more than a coward and what Na-li was offering him was pretty much that exact title.
He had discovered a taste for the action and the risks. That was a hundred times better than any game. Yeah, a hundred times more stressful too. Of course, the risk was real. The outcome was his life, or not. He had no power-ups.
He was breathing slowly, closing his eyes to think as deeply as possible, to search inside him, what he thought, what he wanted. It was a strange feeling, like if he HAD to stay. His guts were telling him to run out of there, but another voice was telling him to stay, that he was needed. He opened his eyes and turned to Jahana, smiling.
″I’m in.″ he said, looking her straight in the eyes.
She smiled. A large thankful smile. She didn’t know what to answer: thanking him for embarking into a quasi-suicidal mission for people he didn’t knew, or call him stupid because… she didn’t even knew herself into what they were getting themselves into.
And she still had that strange feeling that she had to do anything she could to keep him with her, that they were both needed, they had to act together. Soul mates? Yeah, right..
″Thank you, Daniel″ she finally managed to say, with a soft voice, not sure if she had just signed his obituary. And hers.
They stood there, looking at each other, without saying a word. Na-li had discretely moved away.
After a moment, Daniel blinked.
″I know it’s not very romantic but… Can I take a shower or something? And I’m hungry.”
“Yeah.” giggled Na-li. Miro will show you.” she said as a man entered.
Half an hour later, they were both refreshed and wearing brand new flight suits. They were entering Na-li’s office, to have news on Kimal when a violent explosion shook the pyramid.
″They’re on us. Quick, let’s get out of here!″ said Na-li
″And the missiles?″ asked Daniel.
″Na-li is taking care of them. Trust her. As for us, we have to find proof. Come.″ said Jahana, grabbing his arm.
She led him into a hangar filled with two-pilots fighters. They were old and beat up, reclaimed from the last war. That’s all they got, but they were the best. She jumped into one and Daniel, following her instructions, took the right seat.
″Hang on!″ she said, as the canopy closed and the engines were powered up.
The ship flew slowly out of the hangard then went straight up in the air. Daniel sank to the bottom of his seat. Evidently, ships this small didn’t have inertial dampeners, unless they were modified.
They were almost immediately chased. He was being violently shaken with the sharp moves that Jahana was putting the fighter into. For a moment, he was just too shocked to react to anything, then his brain fired into action and he suddenly found himself in another videogame, a sci-fi shooter game. He grabbed the fire controls and in the blink of an eye, he had five enemy fighters disabled. He was taking good care to damage them so that they could land or get rescued, not kill the pilot.
″Fantastic!″ said Jahana. ″It’s however sad that those are my fellow Kgithans citizens. Now, we have to find Crom’s hideout and probably Moaol. They should be in orbit, somewhere near. He would want to follow the progression of their plan.″
The little fighter climbed quite rapidly and flew out of the atmosphere in less than a minute. And, hidden into the shadow of one of Kgitah’s moons, there it was, a large battleship. Jahana aimed straight for it.
″This ship shouldn’t even exist. It’s against the rules of the peace treaty.″ she said with rage.
Daniel was stunned, realizing that they were going straight for it.
″Damn. It doesn’t show on the radar! Are you nuts! They will destroy us in seconds.″ he yelled.
″Of course not. Crom is way too proud for that. He will derive too much pleasure to squish the little rebel that I am, and you, the Earthling, in front of everybody, to show how superior he is, and it’s exactly on this pride I’m counting on.″ she said, hoping she was right. This was far fetched.
″And… how?″ asked Daniel.
″By making him confess his plan and broadcast the recording.″
″Ah good.. So we get captured and record his confession… and to come back we…?″
″We’ll see what to do at that moment.″ she plainly said. Her plan was slim, as much as their chances of getting out of it alive.
Daniel stared at her in disbelief.
″Well… dying of that or from cancer…″
Jahana was having a hard time swallowing. She knew that her plan was suicidal at the least, but if she succeeded? She had to take the risk. She was expecting to see a whole squadron of fighters to fly to her, or that at the last minute, a well targeted shot, but nothing. No fire from the battlecruiser, and no incoming fighter. Then she realized: all the ″fighters″ she encountered already were disguised standard ships. If they were to get real fighters out, that would expose their lies to the population, would reveal that Crom had secretly rebuilt its army, and it would give the position of his battleship, which was completely invisible to the radars, as nobody had seen it already. That huge thing was completely stealthy! Her com screen lit up. It was Crom.
″Ah! Jahana. I was expecting you and this vermin of Earthling to be brave enough, or is it stupid enough, to come to confront me directly, so, I decided to grant you this opportunity.″ he said, a large devilish smile across his large mouth.
At the same time, the ship jolted as a blueish ray wrapped it from the battlecruiser.
″A tractor beam. They got us.″ said Jahana, cutting off the engines. ″No need to fight them. All we have to do is let them bring us in. After all, that’s what we want, right?″
″Yeah, I’ve figured that out.″ he answered.
His brain was running at full steam. He had to think of something, how to make him talk, how to get the information. Jahana seemed so calm, as if she had all her plans laid out or… she was ready to die. He was not.
The small spaceship was put into a large hangar by the tractor beam. There, a whole battalion of the Sigamee army was waiting for them and quickly encircled the small fighter.
A row of soldiers made way for Crom, followed by Moaol. Jahana smiled. That was just perfect.
She commanded the opening of the fighter’s canopy and Crom got closer with a cruel smile. His face was a cold deep blue. Before she could even react, he grabbed her by the throat and pulled her out of the cockpit breaking her safety belts still fastened in the process.
Jahana was trying to fight back but she could barely breathe. Daniel quickly unfastened his own safety belts, ready to jump out and fight, but five guards pointed their guns at him. He froze. Then he got an idea. Furtively, slowly, he moved his hand and pressed one single button.
Crom was still holding Jahana in the air. Trying as she might, she wasn’t able to get free.
″So… C… Crom…″ she managed to say, ″You’ll w…win. You’ll… poison all of Kgitah… Hap…py?… And you… Mo… Moal… Don’t you feel… ash… amed of your… sefl?″ she struggled to say
Moaol had a nervous smile across his face. Crom had a deep and cold laugh. He put Jahana down on the ground, but without loosening his grip on her neck. She was trying to fight his arm, but he was too strong.
″You’re just a little insolent brat, my dear Jahana. You have the audacity to come to me to dare me? On my own turf? How naive of you.″ he said.
″They… they have a vial of the virus, Crom. They can create an antidote.″ said Moaol.
″Shut the fuck up, Moaol. That little sample has no use. It’s nothing more than a standard virus, a decoy. They completely mistook the real plan.″ he said with a genuine proud laugh.
″Oh, so… what… Rah told us…″ she struggled to say, ″is… true…″
Crom raised his eyebrows.
″Really? And what did he tell you?″
″That the virus bit was only a diversion, that your plan was to…″
She couldn’t end her phrase. Crom threw her on the floor, where she slid and hit her head hard. She was dizzy, close to fainting, the side of her head slightly bleeding.
″No. That’s impossible. Rah would have never told you about the missile aimed at the Mak-Ryi Antenna Park. He was part of the decoy plan. Who told you, WHO TOLD YOU?″ he was asking loudly, turning around, then quickly grabbing back Jahana by the throat. ″Moaol???″
He let her drop down, turning toward the President, who was cowardly trying to hide behind one of his personal guards. But although Crom was short and fat, he was quick and quickly reached Moaol to grab him by the throat.
″I… I didn’t… say any… thing.″ he managed to say. ″You prom… ised me that I would get Kgithah..″ he gargled out.
Crom brought his face very close to his.
″You really think I would leave Kgitah to an idiot like you?″ he said, almost breathing into Moaol’s mouth. ”Imbecile!″ he said, throwing him on the ground where he hit his head hard, knocking himself out.
Daniel was stunned. If he understood right, destroying the Mak-Ryi antenna park would literally shut down Kgitah, cutting most of its energy distribution: no more recharging of any portable devices and most houses would be out of power! He would have an easy way into the planet.
He walked back toward Jahana who was crawling backward, trying to get away. He grabbed her back.
She was exhausted and weak. She let him take her, her body limp and almost lifeless. She was hoping that a rebel within his own army or one of Moaol’s personal guards would intervene, but someone else broke the mood.
A guard entered, running, panting like hell, whipping his arms in the air like crazy. Daniel fought a laugh by looking at him.
″Sir Crom, Sir! Stop, we’re… hearing you… every… where!!″ he was yelling, panting.
″What the hell are you saying? How…?″
″We can hear you everywhere, Sir, through the emergency channel. We can hear you!″
Crom, mad as hell, turned around and faced Daniel who figured that it was over for him, but at least, he would have done something good, he would have tried. He had pushed the emergency button of the fighter, broadcasting everything that was told. It wasn’t loud, but apparently, clear enough.
On and around the planet, the assault against the rebels had stopped. Then, the militia, the army and the rebels all converged toward the source of the emergency signal, all discovering the stealthy battleship.
And even worse, some pilots of disguised civilian ships, nervous, fired at the Kgitahn’s army, revealing another hidden Sigamee secret. The army had returned fire and were about to board the cruiser.
″You the Earthling, you’re first. I’ve been waiting for that moment for so long!″ said Crom.
Daniel saw Crom’s gun lit up in a red glow and it was followed by a very sharp and heavy pain on his chest before everything turned black as he heard Jahana scream his name.
The Moment of Truth
It felt like his body was floating in some white gooey fog, strange noises echoing in the distance where he couldn’t pinpoint the source, like they were all over. It made him feel dizzy, as if he was falling and tumbling out of control. He blinked a few times, trying to see better, seeing fuzzy images of things moving in front of him, or was it him moving in front of those things. In any case, he was unable to make them out. Slowly, he felt the weight of his body, laying down, almost as if someone was pressing on it. The spinning in his head gradually stopped. Someone or something was looking at him, floating over him, over his head.
″He’s coming back.″ he heard a voice say.
A familiar voice. Sabrina? No, it couldn’t be. He was remembering a plane crashing in his backyard. Yes, that was it! He was probably hurt when this thing crashed, and he had dreamed all this. Really? Crom, Jahana and the others? Nothing but a dream? But it…, they felt so real. He didn’t want it to be a dream. He wanted it to be real, but… he had been shot. Or was that the dream?
He blinked a few more times, his eyes frantically looking everywhere, and the shadow floating over him took shape. He wanted to see Jahana. Not Sabrina. Not the snowstorm morning on Earth, but Kgitah. The shadow slowly reveal Jahana’s lovely face, smiling.
″Hi…″ he managed to whisper, trying to make a smile that quickly vanished.
″Hello Daniel.” she softly said, putting a hand to chest, over his heart. “I’m so glad you’re back.” she said, smiling, that warm smile that conveyed more that it showed.
He tried to raise his head.
“Steady, Daniel. Take it easy.” she continued, with her soft and lovely voice, pushing him back on the bed. “You still need a lot of rest. You’re actually very lucky to be alive, they had to rebuild a good part of your stomach.″ she said. “And they weren’t sure you would survive. You’re not Kgitahn after all.” she said with a joking grin.
″Rebuilt… say what?″ he mumbled, puzzled, his brain still foggy.
″Your memory must be blurry. Crom shot you, remember?. A good thing is that his fire got diverted by the ship’s hull, otherwise you would be headless.″
″Ah… uh… what… what happened?″ he managed to ask, while trying to sit, but a sharp pain at the waist made him fall back on his back, on the soft bed, covered with smooth and silky sheets. She put a hand on his chest and gently rubbed it.
″Later.″ she said, smiling
″No. Now. I want to know.″ he managed to say louder, almost firmly.
Jahana looked at the doctor who gave her consent.
″Okay, but when the doc says that it’s enough, I stop, no matter where I am in the story. Deal?″
″Deal.″ He said, smiling. It felt so good just to be with her. He was in love. Well, he thought.
″Okay… Your genius idea of broadcasting the conversation on the emergency channel changed everything. Moaol’s personal guards quickly neutralized Moaol as well as Crom. His men were afraid to fire, not knowing what was right or wrong. The Kgitahns authorities as well as the rebels began to chase the Sigamees. Moaol’s council was put under arrest. A group of heavy fighters took control of the battlecruiser where we were and the Sigamee surrendered easily because the whole of military personnel on that huge cruiser was… all there with us.
The army, helped by the rebels, chased the missile probe, which was truly aimed at the antenna park and destroyed it.
Since then, Crom and Moal were judged and condemned to life in prison on the penitentiary outpost of Junis 5. There’s a total embargo on anything from and to Sigamee. They’re all alone, isolated.
Over here, life is back to normal. Almost. You were missing, she said with a genuine smile.
“I… I missed you and your silly ideas.” she said, trying to trigger a laugh
Daniel was shocked, mouth wide open.
″Cool… Thanks. I… “ he hesitated. Should he say it? Oh, why not. “I’m happy to be here too. With you.” he said, love in his eyes. “But… So much seemed to have happened. How… how long have I been here?″
″Oh, about two months… Well, the doctor is asking me to stop. You have to rest again. I’ll catch you later.″ she said, giving him a warm kiss on the forehead, then, as if guided, she reached for his mouth. He kissed her back. Energy was flowing. There was more to it. He could feel it, and she could feel it too.
He looked at her walking away. She was wearing a short satiny blue dress and luminous blue shoes. She was so sexy. She was so lovely.
He laid back and let out a long sight. He was feeling fine. He was happy. He was still on Kgitah where, for some reasons, he felt he belonged. He chuckled that his crazy idea had worked. He closed his eyes and fell asleep again, his mind in peace, thinking for a moment that he would have preferred that it’d be a video game because… the pain would not be there.
Then, there was Jahana, and all pain was forgotten, and he began to dream of her, of them. Happy.
He walked out of the Medical Center two weeks later, better than new. As a thank you for all the services he had granted Kgitah and its people, they have provided, for him and Jahana, a spacious apartment. After all, he was Djiahanel, the Savior.
He suggested to be named Earth’s ambassador, to which they agreed, but apparently, only to please him, to please Djiahanel. They never allowed him to fly back there. They had fear that the people of the Earth were not ready for direct contact and the population was also generally against it.
He fought for his ideas, that as an Earthling himself, he could go back to his life and report on the status of the planet’s evolution. But they deemed it too dangerous for Djiahanel’s safety, and deep down, Daniel knew that it was a lost cause: political as well as religious extremists would turn the Earth into a battleground of conflicting ideologies, where people would settle their choices with firearms and bombs.
They had a station, about twenty light-years from the Earth that was monitoring the radio transmissions, but it also meant that the news received there was twenty years old.
For the moment, ten years after his arrival, he wasn’t in their spacious apartment, not on Earth nor on a ship, but in a little wooden cabin, in a place where the weather was similar to that of Quebec’s. It was the cold season and heavy snow was falling. He was watching it fall down, the eerie scene lit only by one of Kgitah’s moons. It reminded him of the Earth, his birth place, wondering where he would return. If ever. In the background, the cracking sound of the fireplace was creating a warm atmosphere. He heard high heels clicking and turned around.
There she was, like 10 years earlier, sporting the same pair of tight jeans, sweater and boots that he had lent her back on Earth. She had gained a little weight over those years and by now, the jeans were stretched to their maximum.
″I thought that a little souvenir would make you smile.″ she said.
″Should I offer you a coffee with that?″ he asked, smiling. “I just hope some Sigamee won’t crash in the backyard and ruin it again,” he said with a grin.
″I don’t think it will be necessary.″ she said, walking toward him in a very sultry and suggestive manner.
Daniel turned around and walked to her, wrapping his arm around her small waist, hugging and kissing one another softly, while carefully guiding her upstairs, to the bedroom, the wood of the old cabin creaking under their feet.
″You do realize that it took me ten minutes to put those… jeans, right?, anyway, to put them on, and it’s all to take them off?″ she said, getting one more step up.
There was the sound of fabric tearing.
″That’s one way of doing it.″ he said, giggling.
″Oops. I think that they’re really too small now.″ she said, followed by a longer, louder ripping sound.
″You seem to like it.″ he added.
″Yeah but it will cost us a fortune in pants in the long run.″ she said, giggling.
The bedroom lights dimmed down automatically as the legs, the arms and the tongues began dancing while their lips locked together.
The Prophecy is Revealed
A dot appeared on the surveillance radar of the penitentiary colony of Junis 5, seemingly coming out of nowhere and quickly leading out of the planet. Immediately, the alarm was sounded and a fighter raced to the object, his weapon locked onto it as he was closing the distance at ultrasonic speed.
″Unidentified spaceship. You are in a controlled zone. Stop and identify yourself or I will fire without further warning.″ said the pilot with a very cold tone.
″Go to hell!″ answered the pilot of the small ship with a raspy voice.
The pilot of the pursuing fighter raised his eyebrows. A ship that small was no match for his weapons. With a firm touch, he pressed down the fire button.
Surprisingly, the small ship maneuvered quickly and avoided the plasma blasts. By then, the ship was completely out of the planet’s atmosphere and was accelerating fast.
Another shot from the fighter, another miss.
This time, now out of the atmosphere, the fighter locked on his particle cannon and fired. Squirting out at close to the speed of lights, the flow of particles hit the fleeing spacecraft spot on. There was a large whitish flash, something never seen before and the ship disappeared.
No ball of fire and practically no debris. What the hell? The fighter pilot searched the area, but it was odd.
″Target destroyed… I think.″ said the pilot to the commanding officer.
″What do you mean, you think, Captain Majk?″ asked the officer.
″Well, I hit it, or something, but it’s not there anymore. The debris is just a small part of what should be there, and I’ve completely lost contact with it.″
″Strange. Okay, continue patrolling the sector for some time and then come back to the base, we’ll analyze the data and advise on itt.″
″Yes sir.″ said the pilot, returning to the point of impact.
He was alone in the four-seater transport module, riding fast toward the Coalition Administrative Center. He had received an urgent call asking him to get there as soon as possible.
The transport module, suspended 2m off the ground by anti-gravity fields, was passing nearby the Botanical Molecular Research Center, where it stopped for someone else to step in. The door opened and Jahana entered, still wearing her environmental suit, a padded rubbery black and dark green catsuit, hair messed up, eyes wide opened. Daniel giggled when he saw her.
″Don’t you laugh! I didn’t have time to take the damn suit off that I was literally dragged to the dock and almost pushed in. At least, I had time to remove my helmet. Now, what the fuck this is all about?″ she said, taking a seat, leaving a trail of mud behind her.
″I have no clue. I thought you would tell me.″ he said, nodding his head, as the module was quickly accelerating to its final destination. ″I heard rumors that it’s concerning Crom.″
″Crom?″ asked Jahana, shocked. ″It’s been on Junis 5 since what… twenty years?″
″Sixteen.″ he said. “I’m counting them.”
″Yeah… I figured. I could have spent another fifteen years without hearing this name and I wouldn’t have felt worse.″
″Well, maybe he’s dead.″ he said, shuddering.
″That would be just perfect.″ she said with a dry and cold tone. ″But that is not worthy of an emergency meeting at the Coalition Center. No, there has to be something else.″
They would know soon enough as the module stopped at the door of the administrative building. Jahana and Daniel walked to the nearest elevator and selected the 130th floor, the level of the Presidency.
Na-li, the leader of the rebel movements, had been elected President of the Coalition five years after Crom’s trial and she was still there fifteen years later, being re-elected every three years. She was scratching her chin while looking at the data displayed on the computer screen.
″And what do you make of it, Liko?″
″The only explanation I could come up with is that the ship got hit at the exact same time he was entering Transpace. The debris gathered is in fact belonging to the ship, but the rest is nowhere to be found, probably lost into the transpace. No damaged ship has reappeared within the area monitored by The Coalition. Who knows where it ended up. It can be on the other side of the galaxy or completely shattered across the Transpace.″
″Are you saying that he could have traveled as far as the other side of the galaxy?″
″It’s speculation, Madam. He could be in another dimension for all I know. We don’t know what happens when a ship is hit while going into Transpace. It never happened before.″
At the same time, the door opened on Jahana and Daniel.
″Crom escaped? Is that true?″ quickly asked Jahana.
″Yes, in a way.″ said Na-li.
″How the fuck did that happened?″ asked Daniel, ″ and what do you mean by in a way?″
Na-li gestured for them to get closer to the holographic projection table and showed them the recording of the chase and the explosion, while Liko explained the possibilities.
″I just hope that he’s either dead or lost in Transpace.″ said Johana.
″Well, if he’s in Transpace, I hope he’ll rot there until the end of time.″ added Daniel, putting a hand on his stomach.
″Actually, nobody knows.″ calmly said Na-li, then seemingly nervous, like searching for how to announce bad news.″
″Jahana… you probably heard of the Djiahanel Prophecy?″ she asked.
″Yeah, but… what does it have to do with this?″ she asked, puzzled. “Naw. Come on! That’s unreal.”
Na-li handed her a manuscript.
When the star of Kgitah will be completing its 123rd phase, the shadow of Evil will cover Kgitah and would follow a dark era where two successive shadows of Evil would take over, chased away on both occasions by the Great People of Kgitah. At the dawn of the third occurrence, the light of freedom will come from a distant star when the Savior, Djiahanel, found by two pure Souls, from which only one will make the trip back will wrap Kgitah’s Star of his goodness. The Shadow of Evil will take revenge by spreading to the Savior’s Star and it’s only with the power of Kgitah’s Star that they will be able to destroy the Shadow of Evil and bring the Good Light back to all the worlds.
″We got the third shadow″ continued Na-li. ″Two pure Souls, two souls having never fought war, will get the Savior from a distant Star. That’s you and Gill, Jahana. The Savior, Djiahanel or… Daniel.″ she said, looking at the Earth man and making a pause, ″… came back with only one of the two who went. You.″ she said, pointing Jahana with a move of the chin, ″to free Kgitah of the Evil, but it will then be his world who will be under the Shadow of Evil influence. According to the prophecy, of course.″ she concluded.
″You… you think he’s heading for The Earth?″ asked Daniel, puzzled.
″Who knows what’s going on in Transpace? We don’t even fully understand that place ourselves. However, the trajectory he had when he was hit was a direct line to the Solar System.″ she said.
There was silence. Nobody was risking to talk, to add something. All were figuring the rest, what would happen, what COULD happen. Jahana looked at Daniel, her expression very serious.
″That’s a very old prophecy, Daniel, dating back a few thousand years, in a language long forgotten and translated as best as possible. There’s always the interpretation from the translator. We have to keep our ideas clear, but… just in case. Let’s monitor the Earth closely.″
© monsterp63, 14 février 2014, English version June 20th 2022
If you’re still reading (wow, thanks!) and interested to know how it will end, you can find part 3 here.
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