Hello story lovers!
Welcome to the newest addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.
Each week we get a prompt to write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words.
We didn’t have a prompt for this week, but with the way we left off did we really need one? OMG!!!
Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1
Torrins evacuation command continued to repeat through the ship, the urgency heightened by the blaring alarm loud enough to signal the end of days. Metal shifted behind the walls as the airlock cycled. The crew were about the escape and leave Arad behind sitting dumbfounded on the deck.
He wanted to kick himself for not seeing it sooner. He should have seen it coming. But now was not the time for recriminations. The corporate flagship still had its guns aimed at the Midas Ascending while Torrins and the rest were going to flee in a cloaked ship leaving him the sole occupant.
The word scapegoat came to mind.
Arad couldn’t sit there and do nothing to save himself. Scrambling to his feet, he raced back to the bridge. Like any authority figure under a corporate contract, First Commander Bard couldn’t be trusted, but prison was preferable to being blown into charred debris floating through the airless wastelands. Living was always the better option. Dead people had none.
On the bridge the stars swept to the side as the ship continued to spin. He needed to think and quick. Time was not his friend, but the endless alerts filled his ears and dulled his mind. He stumbled to the captain’s chair and started pressing buttons.
“Shut up already!”
The noise abruptly stopped.
The readout on armchair display read: RANK UPDATED. Whatever that meant. There wasn’t time to consider it. He would have to be thankful for the quiet as the Alpha One Flagship drifted in front of the ship once again.
Arad needed to contact them, convince them to stand down. Surrender. He could do that. Slugs knew how to that better than anyone. Survival was everything. As long as a man was alive, he had a future. Franc had shut down the hail before at Torrins’ order, so the controls must have been at his station.
Through the viewer, a cloud of steam emanated from the Midas Ascending, probably from the damaged engine. A mix of frost and smoke, it caught the starlight, leaving a gossamer nebula between the two vessels. The haze parted as if something unseen pushed through the veil, opening a pathway on a vector away from both ships. The warship started firing at the distortion. The third particle blast stopped short in a burst of phosphorescent sparks causing the once-hidden shuttle’s cloak to fail, revealing it to anyone watching. The shuttle tumbled in a lazy roll from its leftover momentum. Its running lights sputtered out, the craft dead and useless. Torrins and the others weren’t going anywhere if the ugly scorch down the side was any indication.
A swell of smug satisfaction warmed Arad’s chest, right up until the moment the burn scar marring the shuttle’s hull ruptured. A geyser of freezing oxygen, debris, and human beings billowed out into the soundless vacuum.
Torrins. Franc. Daiko. Serene. Tank. All gone. Arad couldn’t wrap his head around how he should be reacting. They’d left him behind but did they deserve this? How could he be sure? Whatever he felt for the motley crew was nothing compared to the disgust Bard’s voice crackling through the new audio feed sparked in him.
“Midas Ascending, my scans show there’s only one life sign left on board. How very noble to go down with the ship, Captain Torrins.”
“Don’t shoot! I surrender!” Panic forced Arad’s shout into the air, counting on the channel to send the message.
Breathing quickened as the seconds passed and Arad’s pulse spiked, pounding in his ears. Bard said nothing in return.
“Bard! I surrender!”
“Respond, captain. I’m waiting…”
This wasn’t a game he was playing. Bard expected a response and couldn’t hear a word he said. Arad pounced on Franc’s dashboard, desperately hunting for the comm controls. “I’m not Torrins! Torrins was on the shuttle you just blew to hell!”
The commander sighed. “I’m growing bored playing this charade. I’m only going to ask this one more time. Send me the override codes so I can take command.”
Arad didn’t know the codes. Torrins would never have trusted him with such things. If he did, he’d have transmitting them long ago, saving himself from this insanity.
“Where’s the on switch? Where is it? Where is it?”
“Salvaging the stolen property is preferable, but its within the scope of my mission to treat you as hostile if you don’t comply. If I have to wait much longer, you’ll join your crew out the airlock.”
“Shut up, you moron! I’m trying to surrender!” Arad’s fingers flew as he spun the screen menus hunting for anything that might help him.
“The timer is counting down, captain.” Bard’s fraying patience was audible. If Arad didn’t find a way to contact him, he was no better off than Torrins and the rest. Explosive decompression in a wave of fire and destruction was not how he wanted to go.
Having zero success with Franc’s terminal, Arad scanned through Daiko’s station as well. His eye caught the following prompt on the right hand monitor:
***SPACE FOLD CAPACITORS ACTIVE – MINIMUM CHARGE ACHIEVED***
Did that mean it was primed to use? Arad backtracked through his memories like a madman. Didn’t Torrins have Diako enter the coordinates earlier? A holographic icon labeled ENGAGE hovered on the screen begging to be touched.
“You had your chance, captain. It’s a shame you have no sense of self-preservation.”
Time’s up. One last chance. Act now or lose forever.
“Please be ready.” Arad tapped the control and a dialog box with additional buttons popped up on the screen, pulsing in red.
Performing a space fold within a star’s gravity field can cause unexpected results.
Do you wish to continue?
“Are you kidding me? Yes!” Arad shrieked at the monitor.
Arad punched the button and the universe howled as it turned itself inside out even as the flagship fired. Crushing his eyes closed, he prayed for a miracle he’d never seen slugs receive.
Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1
Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!