The Call (flash fiction)

The Call

“Must you keep checking your phone?” I asked.

“Miranda might call me.” Sylvia replied.

It had been over a week since Sylvia gave Miranda her number, and I felt Miranda probably would have called by now if she was ever going to…

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 41 + prompt

This was written with the prompt call provided by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #197.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Fear The Bald Man (flash fiction)

Fear The Bald Man

She sat on the edge of the bed covered in blood. Next to her lay a man split open from his throat down to his crotch. Already the police were there taking photographs of the bloody murder and closing down the crime scene. Detective Franks stood above her.

“Miss? I’m told your name is Mary. Can I call you that? Can you hear me? Why did you kill him?” he asked her in the hopes of getting a response from the almost catatonic woman.

“I didn’t kill him. It was The Bald Man.” Mary replied while still staring at the wall in front of her.

“The Bald Man?” asked Franks. She unexpectedly looked up at him.

“You’ve never heard of The Bald Man?”

“No I’m afraid not.”

“He’s not of this world. He can slide through walls and no where is safe from him. Once you’re his target, there is nothing you can do to escape his judgement.” Mary informed him.

“His judgement?”

“Yes he judges everyone he sees, and if they’re not worthy enough in his eyes he follows them, and when he finally has them he cuts them open and eats their insides.”

“I see. The problem I have is the only prints we’ve found belong to you and the victim here. The bloody knife on the floor has your fingerprints.” Franks told her.

“The Bald Man has no prints.” she replied.

“That’s convenient.”

“I had to use that knife to defend myself. The Bald Man doesn’t need a knife. His fingernails can grow out and they’re as sharp as razor blades. That’s how he cut open Justin.”

“Well we’re going to have to take you in as you’re the only suspect we have.” Franks declared. Mary looked up at him with her dark eyes.

“The Bald Man is coming for you too.”

Joanne Fisher

This was written with the prompt The Bald Man provided by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver Prompt #315.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part six (fiction)

The Oracle

6

“No, it’s out of the question!” Doctor Philips exclaimed.

“But Lieutenant Edwards could be a security risk. We don’t know why he suddenly had a seizure.” Steff argued. The Doctor shook her head in disagreement.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have seizures, even if they’ve had no prior history of them.” Philips told her. “He may have even had one before, for all we know, but no one else saw it and he didn’t know he had had one.”

“I just think it’s odd that our head of security had a seizure as soon as we entered a wormhole. I think there’s something else going on. He may be a sleeper agent for the Separatists.” Steff told her. Philips folded her arms and shook her head again.

“And there’s your paranoia. You wonder why I question your selection to command this mission? What you’re saying is obvious nonsense. Why would the Separatists bother trying to control a scoutship going to the other side of the galaxy from them? We pose no threat or opportunity for them. You know the Separatists don’t like you and your projecting this fear of them onto your own crew members, that or you’re using it as an excuse for some reason only known to yourself.” Philips replied. Steff looked her up and down.

“Don’t hold back! Tell me how you really feel.” For a while both of them were silent and looked at each other.

“In my professional opinion you should never have been given command of this spaceship. I fear your paranoia of the Separatists could endanger us all.”

“Opinion noted Doctor Philips.” Steff replied.

“And you wish to violate someone’s privacy on the thinnest of likelihoods that they’re under control of them in some way and you want my collusion on this. Well, it won’t happen Captain Clarke. I refuse to help you.” Philips responded. “If you’re going to break Spacefleet protocols, then you’ll have to do it on your own.”

“I would like to rather than ask you to help me, but I need you to help convince SARA to let me observe Edwards in his quarters, otherwise she won’t let me do it.”

“Good to hear.”

“What if Edwards has another seizure in his room?” Steff asked her.

“If he has a medical emergency in his quarters, then SARA will notify me about it, as she will with any other member of the crew that has any sort of medical emergency.” Philips informed her. “You should know that Captain.”

“Fine. I just thought you might want to help me in this. Clearly you won’t. I do believe the security of this ship has possibly been compromised, and if anything happens because of this I hope you reflect on how you blocked my efforts to mitigate it.” Steff responded. Philips looked away.

“It’s all in your head Captain.” Philips replied.

“I don’t think so.” Steff replied. She turned to leave the medical bay.

“By the way, I will be mentioning your request to me in a report.” Philips told her.

“Fine. You do what you think is necessary.” Steff shot back as she went out the door. Clearly that request hadn’t worked and it had blown up in her face. She had expected that response from the doctor and so was hardly surprised by it, but she was disappointed that Philips had so steadfastly refused to see things her way.

Going back to her quarters, she sat down on her bed with her head in her hands. She didn’t know what to do. Getting up from the bed, Steff looked out the window staring into the immensity of darkness. She loved looking out into this blackness that went on and on, possibly forever. Sometimes she wanted to be out there lost amongst it. Maybe she should just grab Juanita’s hand and float out into space with her the next time she dreamed about it…

Afterwards she splashed cold water on her face and then dried it with a towel. She looked at her white skin and hair in the bathroom mirror. Though it seemed there were no aliens out there, there were some who had thought she was. She went back to her bedroom.

“SARA do you think I’m paranoid, or showing signs of paranoia?”

“Not enough information.” SARA responded.

“With regards to my concerns that Edwards could be working for the Separatists, either intentionally or unintentionally.”

“You are the Captain and you do have to consider every possibility. Edwards’s seizure was surprising considering he had no prior history of it, so it is perplexing, but there is no evidence he is working for the Alliance of Free Colonies.”

“Doctor Philips thinks I’m paranoid and should be in psychiatric care, I suspect.” Steff told SARA.

“With respect, Doctor Philips has made it clear that she does not care for you. She is not the captain. If you think Edwards could be a threat to the mission then you must take adequate steps to ensure The Oracle remains safe.”

“Yes, but how do I do that?” Steff asked.

“I can give you updates on Edwards’s movements within the ship.” SARA offered.

“That would be a help.” Steff replied.

“Doctor Philips could be deliberately trying to undermine your position. Be careful with her.” SARA advised.

“I will.” Steff replied.

*

“Captain, Lieutenant Frank Edwards wishes to see you.” It was three days since Steff’s altercation with Doctor Philips. Steff arose from her desk.

“Let him in.” Steff said.

“Very well.” The door to her quarters opened and there stood Edwards. He immediately saluted her.

“Captain! I wish to talk about resuming my position.” He said still standing there saluting. Steff returned the salute.

“At ease Lieutenant. Come in.” He walked in and they sat down at the table in her conference room. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine Captain.” He replied.

“You’ve felt no other symptoms or felt unwell in any way since you woke up from the coma?” She asked.

“No Captain.”

“Okay I’ve been thinking about it. I think you should resume your duties for only half a shift for the next few days, and then we will see how that goes. In a week I’ll review my decision.” Steff told him. Edwards looked disappointed.

“But why? I feel fine and fit enough to resume my duties full time.”

“There are still several unanswered questions remaining in my mind that I would like to have answered before I let you back full-time. I just want to see how it goes for you over the next few days. If there are no issues, then you’ll return to full responsibilities in a week’s time. That’s my decision.” He looked unhappy, but he nodded at her words.

“Okay Captain.” He agreed.

“When you’re not on your shift, Second Lieutenant Baer will continue as acting Chief Security Officer, as he is at the moment.” Steff told him. She stood up and Edwards stood up after her. As she watched him leave her quarters, she felt some serious misgivings about letting him resume his post, but there was little she could do without being more explicit about her concerns, which was something she wanted to keep to herself and a small circle of other officers, for the moment.

“Captain, there is a message from Lieutenant Blake.”

“Okay SARA.”

“Captain, we are coming to the wormhole to Beta Hub.”

“Thanks Lieutenant. I’ll be there shortly.” She walked up to the bridge and sat down on her chair. Not long after, the door to the bridge opened again and Frank Edwards walked through. Mostly everyone in the bridge stood up and clapped as he sat down. “Lieutenant Edwards is resuming his post, but only part-time for the moment.” Steff told the crew there.

Before them the wormhole became larger. A churning mass of light in the darkness surrounding it. As The Oracle approached it the wormhole light began to flood the bridge and it was virtually all they could see. Steff closed her eyes due to the brightness.

“Captain we are ready to go through.” Said one of the pilots.

“Okay proceed.” Steff told him. Then she spoke through the intercom: “This is Captain Clarke. We are about to enter the wormhole to Beta Hub. Stand by.”

As they entered the wormhole all eyes fell on Edwards. The ship began vibrating and they were all engulfed in white light. Once it cleared, they were in the familiar tunnel of cascading blue and white light. As they traveled into the wormhole, Edwards sat there observing the ship systems, but nothing seemed to happen to him. Steff continued keeping an eye on him. It was still at least a week until they arrived at Beta Hub Station…

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Taking the Forest Path (flash fiction)

Taking the Forest Path

There were several paths to grandma’s house, but only one went through the forest. She had been told never go that way. It wasn’t safe, her mother had said, but being told that only made her more curious. What could be there that was dangerous?

It was on that particular day when her mother had done some baking and she had loaded up her basket with baked goods for her grandma, that she found herself walking down that forest path. Being curious, foolhardy, and headstrong could be a heady combination, after all.

She found it was a decent path and the trees and bushes helped provide shelter from the sun. After she had gone some way, she heard laughter and voices talking. She crept silently forwards and saw a small cottage off the path. It was there she spied her mother in the arms of a man she didn’t know.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #118.

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Space Junk? (flash fiction)

Space Junk?

Jyx piloted her salvage ship into the largest spaceship graveyard she had ever seen. She had found it by chance while exploring this unknown system. There must have been a huge space battle which had left many destroyed starships orbiting a long dead world. She couldn’t believe her luck. She was certain no other salvager had been here, and untold riches awaited. All of a sudden her display showed something was powering up. As she watched, an ancient gargantuan star cruiser emerged from the detritus.

“They’re still alive!” Jyx exclaimed as the cruiser approached her ship.

Joanne Fisher

Word Count: 96

This was written with the prompt gargantuan provided by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #195.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part five (fiction)

The Oracle

5

Steff walked into the medical bay. Edwards was sitting on the side of a bed while a medic ran tests on him. Steff turned to Doctor Philips who was watching Edwards.

“So he just came out of his coma?” Steff asked.

“Yes.” Philips confirmed. “Once we came out of the wormhole.”

“Would you mind if I spoke to him?” Philips turned to look at her.

“Sure. Once my medic is finished with analysing him.” Steff stood there waiting while the medic continued. A short while later the medic nodded to Philips. “Okay you can talk to him, but not for too long.”

“Thanks Doctor.” Steff walked over to Edwards. She sat down facing him. “How do you feel?” She asked.

“Fine.” Edwards replied.

“What do you remember?” As she asked this, Philips moved closer, seemingly interested in also hearing the answer.

“We were about to go into the New Earth Wormhole, and then I woke up here.” He answered.

“You don’t remember suddenly standing up about to tell me something?”

“No Captain.”

“So you have no recollection of anything you wanted to say or ask me at the time?”

“No Captain.”

“Do you any history of seizures?”

“Not to my knowledge. It’s never happened before.”

“Have you traveled through the New Earth Wormhole before?”

“Yes I have. Many times.” Edwards replied. Steff sat back and studied him. “Am I able to go back to work now?” He looked at both Steff and Philips.

“You feel well enough to go back to work?” Philips asked.

“I feel fine. I’m not sure what happened, but I feel ready to resume all my responsibilities.” Edwards answered.

“I suggest you take at least a couple of days off work.” Steff told him.

“Yes, I agree with the Captain. Just a precaution, in case you have a relapse.” Philips advised.

‘And after that, if you still feel fine and you’ve had no further problems, then we’ll talk about you resuming your position.” Steff added. Edwards looked at them both confused.

“I don’t understand. I feel fine. I feel ready to resume my responsibilities. I’ve never had any problem like this before.” Edwards informed them.

“I know. We just have to be sure you won’t have a relapse. You have an important role in the ship and we have to make sure you’re fit enough to do it. Don’t take it personally. If you were in our shoes, I’m sure you would be just as cautious.” Philips told him. Edwards looked at Steff.

“Please Captain, let me resume my post. I feel fine.” He pleaded.

“Doctor Philips is right. I’m sorry, but we don’t have any other option. It’s for the good of the ship.” Steff answered. Edwards looked crushed with her response. She stood up. “Just take it easy for now Lieutenant. I’m sure it won’t be too long.” She looked at Philips. “If there’s any further change, let me know immediately.”

“I will Captain.” Philips replied.

Steff went back to the bridge and sat back down on her chair. She watched as the ship traveled through the emptiness of space towards a still distant wormhole. She had a lot of thoughts on her mind.

“How is Edwards?” Blake asked her.

“He’s fine. He’s rather crushed he can’t go back to work just yet.” Steff replied.

“Yes he should at least have a few days off.” Blake agreed.

“Unfortunately he doesn’t see it that way. I still have a lot of questions about what happened that need answering before I’m willing to let him resume as Chief Security Officer.” Steff told him.

“But what if those questions can’t be answered?” Blake asked. Steff continued looking out into the deeps of space, as if the answers to it all still lay out there somewhere.

“How’s the ship doing?” Steff asked, changing the subject.

“All systems are nominal. The Oracle’s drive systems are now fully engaged. We expect to make it to the wormhole to Berta Hub in just over three days going at present speed.”

“Very good Lieutenant Blake. I need to think about the Edwards situation, so I’ll leave you in charge of the bridge.” Steff informed him.

“Very good Captain.” Blake answered. Steff stood up and left for her quarters.

Steff sat on her bed considering the options. She could leave Edwards at Beta Hub Station and promote his second in command, but if she did that then New Earth Space Command would demand a reason for her action, and she wasn’t sure if her concerns with the situation were strong enough to satisfy them. If she let him fully resume his position that might place them all in great danger, especially if he was under mind control or suggestion by the Separatists now, which was her greatest fear. The fact remained if he stayed on board then he would have to fully resume his post eventually, unless she could come up with a good reason why he couldn’t that would satisfy him enough, which wasn’t very likely. The other option was to keep a watch on him, something she had already been planning, but wasn’t ready yet.

“Captain we never did resume that conversation regarding Lieutenant Gonzales. Do you wish to resume it now?” SARA suddenly said.

“I had hoped you had forgotten about it SARA.” Steff replied.

“I never forget anything Captain.” SARA responded.

“Please call me Steff by the way.”

“Okay Steff. Do you wish to resume talking about her, and your feelings for her?”

“There’s really not much more to say on the matter. Yes I have nightmares about her being sucked out of an airlock, but she is out of my life now, and those nightmares will eventually fade, just like the ones I had about Esfor.”

“Do you think your dreams about her being lost to space is symbolic of how you feel she is lost to you, since she defected to the Alliance of Free Colonies?”

“You don’t really pull any punches do you? You been reading a lot of Jung lately or what?”

“I am familiar with his work, but I haven’t read ‘a lot of Jung lately’, as you put it Steff.”

“Yes she is lost to me. It’s not like I can defect to the Separatists to see her again, even if I wanted to. As soon as I did, I would be arrested, put on trial, and then executed. The Separatists have made that perfectly clear.” Steff told her.

“Lieutenant Gonzales also led the mutiny against you didn’t she?” SARA asked.

“Yes she did.”

“How did that make you feel Steff?”

“Betrayed. Stabbed in the back by my most loyal companion.” Steff replied. “How do you think that made me feel?”

“I have no idea how you feel. I’m not you.”

“Damn straight.”

“I can however, through my processes, achieve an insight into how you feel, though I can never be sure it is completely accurate, but I am learning more about how you function.” SARA informed her.

“Good to know.”

“Do you think Lieutenant Gonzales’s actions have affected how you interact with other humans?”

“Probably. I try to be clearer in my communication with others now, so they are less prone to misunderstand me.” Steff answered.

“Do you feel that Lieutenant Gonzales’s actions were due to her misunderstanding you?”

“No, it was due to the horror of what I’d just done. That said, I don’t think she understood the position I was in at the time. If she had been Captain, maybe she would have done the same thing.”

“Do you wish to talk about what happened at Esfor?”

“No. Not now. I still can’t talk about it.” Steff admitted.

“It would be healthy for you to talk about it some time.” SARA informed her.

“I know.”

“If you ever want to talk about it, I will not judge you. I want you to know that Steff.”

“Thanks, but not now SARA.” Steff replied. “To change the subject, would you allow me to see what Edwards does in his own quarters when he returns there?”

“I’m sorry Steff, I’m afraid I can’t do that.” SARA replied.

“Why not?”

“It’s a breach of privacy and of New Earth Spacefleet regulations 6.4. No one is permitted to observe New Earth Space Fleet personal in their own private spaces.”

“But what about 6.4.15? If any New Earth Spacefleet individual is in danger of harming themselves or others, then their rights to privacy can be overridden by their commanding officer?”

“There isn’t any evidence to suggest Edwards is a threat to himself or others.” SARA replied.

“What if I can get Doctor Philips to convince you he is?” Steff asked.

“Then I will review the situation.” SARA answered. Well that at least was something, Steff thought. She lay back on her bed and considered how she could convince Philips that Edwards was a threat to himself or other people on board. She guessed Philips would not be happy with the idea of Edwards’s rights to privacy being potentially overridden by her. That would be a tough sell.

to be continued….

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous episodes: The Oracle

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Waking Up (flash fiction)

Waking Up

They cut through the hedge of thorns and found a castle full of sleeping figures. They walked up the stairs. There the Princess lay on her bed sleeping soundly. The figure closed in, kissing her on the lips. The spell broken, the Princess abruptly woke up and saw them standing over her.

“I thought a prince was meant to wake me.” She said wide-eyed.

“My brother is away, so I thought I would take care of this.”

“I’ve never been kissed by another girl before.” The Princess stated.

“Is it okay?” The Princess pulled her closer. They kissed again.

Joanne Fisher

This was written with the prompt of using a substitution (bonus points for a fairy tale) provided by Carrot Ranch’s February 4 Flash Fiction Challenge.

Sleeping Beauty is a problematic tale for some, but this was the first thought I had when I saw the prompt. I hope I made it a bit better…

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

On the Way to the Terminal (flash fiction)

On the Way to the Terminal

“See I told you we were going the right way.”

“How far is 500 yards? Why aren’t they using metres?”

“It’s about 450 metres I think. I don’t know, maybe it’s an old sign. Anyway we’ve got to hurry. We would have had more time if you hadn’t spent so long talking to your friends.”

“They’re your friends too.”

“I don’t feel like I’m part of your little clique at times. They always ignore me, even if I say something.”

‘You’ve got a quiet voice, maybe they don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“Maybe.”

“They like you, they’re just not into vampire movies. It’s all you seem to talk about at times, you little freak.”

“It’s an interest. I thought they might want to watch something different for a change.”

“Anyway, what’s this terminal lead to?’

“What do you mean?”

“Are we catching a bus, boat, or plane?”

“You don’t know?”

“No idea.”

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #117.

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Old Castle (fiction)

The Old Castle

Somehow I had taken the wrong road and found myself lost. I was still new to the area and had gone for a walk along the idyllic country roads. A mist had unexpectedly come down in the late afternoon and it was now getting cooler. On the hill above me there rose an old crumbling stone castle. In need of warmth and safety, I walked up to the main gate and knocked on the solid wood door not really expecting to get a response. To my surprise the door opened up with a loud creak, and there stood an old man slightly bent over and dressed in rags. He leered at me.

“How can I help you miss?” he asked in a coarse voice. Taken aback, I was for a moment speechless.

“I’m lost and it’s getting cold. I was wondering if I could come inside for a time so I can get warm again, kind sir?” I asked him while feeling doubtful whether I should really go inside that old castle with him. He smiled and laughed crudely.

“Certainly miss. Come inside, the Mistress will be awake soon.” he said holding the door open for me. I had some reservations about walking in there, but it was cold and so against my better judgement I walked across the threshold. He closed the door behind me. “This way miss.”

I followed him as he led me through old dark musty rooms with his lighted candelabra dreading where it might end. We went up some stairs and he opened a door and beckoned me to go inside. No sooner had I done so, then he shut the door loudly behind me. I heard him lock it, and then he walked off laughing again.

“Let me out!” I screamed at him.

“Enjoy your brief stay miss.” I heard him say with a voice moving further away.

I tried forcing the door open, but it was locked fast and made from the same solid wood the main gate was. I looked around the room. It was dark, but there were some narrow slits in the wall which the fading light came through. Once my eyes adjusted to the gloom I saw in the middle of the room there was a black coffin. I thought it an odd place to house a coffin, so I went to investigate and opened it up. To my shock there was a dead woman inside it. She had long dark hair and ivory skin. She wore a black dress. I closed the lid and went back to the door and started pounding on it as loudly as I could.

“Please let me out!” I screamed, but there was no response. “There’s a corpse in here for God’s sake!”

Slowly the light in the room died out and I reckoned it must be dusk by now. To my shock the coffin lid suddenly opened up and the woman I presumed to be dead slowly emerged out of it. She looked at me and gave a dark smile.

“So nice of my servant to bring me some breakfast!” she said. She opened her mouth to reveal long white fangs. She approached me with a hungry look in her black pitiless eyes. I screamed, but no one else heard it.

Joanne Fisher

I’ve been watching a lot of the old Hammer vampire movies lately…

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part four (fiction)

The Oracle

4

“Doctor Philips doesn’t like me and is making that abundantly clear.” Steff said as she moved her bishop diagonally to the left. Her opponent, Lieutenant Hunter, pursed his lips as he looked at the board.

“My advice is be careful with her. As she is the ship’s doctor, we do have need of her. Unfortunately she’s not the only one on board who feels that way towards you.” He replied as he moved his knight. They were playing on the table in Steff’s quarters. She knew Lieutenant Hunter had a keen mind and was intrigued in his thoughts about the situation.

“And what about you? Do you share that opinion?” she asked him. Hunter laughed.

“No. Certainly not Captain. I’ve read the report of your last mission. You were set up by the New Earth Space Command, in my opinion.”

“Set up?”

“At the very least you were in a no-win situation. Had you retreated, you would have never commanded a spaceship again and Epsilon Sector would be in the hands of the Separatists. A lesser commander wouldn’t have had the stomach to do what you did. In my opinion, and in many others, you’re a hero.” Hunter told her.

“Yes I’m a hero to the New Earth Space Command and a war criminal to the Separatists.” Steff stated. Hunter looked at her thoughtfully.

“I guess that happens in war. If there is any blame to be had, it would have to be with New Earth Space Command for placing you in that position, and the Separatists themselves for forcing the situation.”

“The Separatists hold me up as the Poster Child for everything that’s wrong with the New Earth Government.”

“If it wasn’t you, it would be someone else.” Hunter replied pragmatically.

“The sad thing about it all is that I don’t have that much of a problem with the Separatists. I can sympathise with their desire for self-governance.” Steff stated. Lieutenant Hunter raised his eyebrows at her words.

“I wouldn’t say that too often. The Hero of Esfor having sympathies with the Separatists? That would surprise many, and might be regarded as sedition.” Hunter replied.

“I don’t meant to sound seditious, but it’s basically a fact that New Earth can’t win this fight. Eventually the Alliance of Free Colonies will have to be recognised by New Earth. There’s nothing we can do about it. Our control and influence can only extend so far.” She moved a pawn forwards.

“You’re probably right, but as long as our politicians, generals and admirals insist we can still bring the Separatists to heel, we will have to continue fighting them, basic realities or not. Your actions are held up as an example of how we can keep control of the entire New Earth imperium.”

“Or as a symbol of our brutality by the Separatists.” Steff countered. “If that’s what we have to do to win against the Separatists every time, what would our victory be worth?”

“I know you probably feel a lot of guilt, but in my opinion you have nothing to feel guilty about. It wasn’t your fault things transpired as they did. I would have done the same thing.” He moved his rook. “Check mate!” Steff let out a half-smile.

“Well done.” She said as she toppled over her king.

‘Is there any further news about Frank Edwards?” Hunter asked.

“Well there are no viral or bacterial pathogens in his system and all other tests have come up negative as well, so Doctor Philips is at a loss.” Steff informed him.

“Hmm, I guess we may never know what caused it then.”

“The trouble is if we don’t know what caused it, it could always happen again and at a more inopportune time.” Steff replied.

“Maybe keep an eye on him?” Hunter suggested.

“Yes we are going to have to consider the implications of it all.” Steff admitted. Lieutenant Hunter stood up.

“Well thanks for the game. If you ever want another one, please let me know. Being the Gunnery Officer on what is supposed to be a peaceful mission does leave me with a lot of time on my hands.”

“So what do you do to fill the time?”

“I’m reading a lot of military history at the moment.” Hunter admitted. “But don’t worry if the ship’s weapons systems are ever needed, they will work when you need them to, you have my assurances on that.”

“Good to know.” Steff stood up and led him to the door. “As you have some free time would you consider helping me keep an eye on Edwards?” Hunter studied her face intently.

“What would that involve?” he asked.

“Just seeing what he does, who he talks to, where he goes.” Steff replied.

“And then report it all back to you?”

“Yes of course.”

“I’ll consider it. If he realises I’m watching him, he will do his best to hide his true intentions, if he has any to hide.” Hunter pointed out.

“I know, which is why I’m considering asking a few people to do it.”

“Make sure they’re loyal. If Edwards gets word you are asking people to watch him there’s no knowing what he might do.”

“Which is why I wouldn’t ask any of the other security personnel. Most of them seem loyal to him and would probably have no qualms about telling him what I’m asking them to do. There are several people I trust and I’m seeing if they’re willing to help me with this. I’m trying to frame it as concern for his well-being to some of them.”

“Probably a good move.” Hunter remarked.

“Have a think about and get back to me. I do need help as I have a bad feeling about it all. Hopefully it’s nothing, but what if it isn’t? Thankfully I have some time to organise it all since he’s still in a coma.”

“Okay. I’ll let you know about my decision on the matter. Until next time, Captain.” Hunter saluted her and she returned the salute. The door slid shut after he left.

Steff sat down on a chair and relaxed. She had hoped this would be an easy mission, but it was becoming apparent that maybe she wouldn’t be so lucky. What if the crew on Argos IV had had the same issues? There was no record on what happened aboard that ship and that troubled her. She desperately wanted to talk to another human about Argos IV, but her orders prevented it until they found the ship. She found talking to computers a bit soulless, no matter how well they had been programmed to mimic human behaviour, she always found there was something missing with them…

“Captain, you have a message from Lieutenant Blake.” SARA suddenly informed her breaking Steff’s reverie.

“Okay.” She replied.

“Captain, we are coming out of New Earth Wormhole.” Blake informed her.

“Thanks Lieutenant. I’ll be on the bridge shortly.” She replied. With a sigh she stood up and left her quarters. Once she was on the bridge she sat down on her chair and watched the ship weaving its way through the wormhole. Just beyond it she could make out a dark spot that was steadily approaching them.

“This is Captain Clarke. We are coming out of the New Earth Wormhole, so prepare for a bit of chop.” She informed the crew through the ship’s intercom.

Not long after she said that the ship began to vibrate slightly, and then the turbulence hit. The ship began rocking noticeably and people that were standing had to use a wall to support themselves. Then the writhing blue and white light came to an end and the ship was engulfed in total blackness. Steff had to hang on to the sides of her chair as the turbulence got worse and then they were through, everything was calm again and they were back in real space.

“All systems are nominal.” Blake informed her.

“Thanks Lieutenant.” Steff replied. “This is Captain Clarke, again. We are now in the Eridani system. It will take a few days to get to the next wormhole which leads to the Beta Hub. When we get to Beta Hub station there will be 48 hours of R&R for all crew.” She noted everyone in the bridge looked pleased with this announcement.

“Captain, you have a message from Doctor Philips.” SARA told her.

“Thanks SARA.”

“Captain, Lieutenant Edwards has regained consciousness.” Philips said.

“When did this happen?” Steff asked her.

“Just after we came out of the wormhole.”

“Okay, I’ll be right down.” Steff stood up. “Lieutenant Blake take the bridge.”

“Yes Captain.” Blake acknowledged.

Steff walked to the bridge doors. Was it really coincidence he regained consciousness just after leaving the wormhole? She wondered. Was there something in the wormhole affecting him? She hoped Doctor Philips might have an answer for this, but she suspected she wouldn’t. After all, that would be too easy.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous episodes: The Oracle

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