Dumb Vampires, part 15 (fiction)

Dumb Vampires

15

Freya awoke. The sun had only just set. She knew they had to go soon, so she gently shook Sarah who was sleeping beside her. Sarah awoke wide-eyed and alert.

“What’s the matter?” Sarah asked alarmed.

“We need to get out of here. Now we’ve killed one of the hunters, more will come. The sooner we’re away the better.” Freya told her.

“Can’t we just try to get the other one?”

“No he’s probably guessed by now we’re here. He’ll either be gone or awaiting reinforcements. If he is still here, he will be extremely difficult to get to.” Freya advised. “It’s best we pack up and go.”

“We haven’t got a car.”

“We can always hitchhike.” Freya suggested.

“Okay.” Sarah replied. She got out of the bed and headed to the kitchen. Freya followed her. They warmed up the remaining blood and finished it off. “Do we hide the bodies somewhere, or shall we just let them be found there on the floor.”

“Just leave them for the hunters to find.” Freya suggested.

“Well if they’re going to find them, then I want to leave a message for the dick wad.” Sarah went over to the bodies and produced a pocket knife. Freya watched Sarah carving letters into Tom’s forehead. After she had finished, they packed up their few belongings and went soundlessly out the back window.

Once outside, they walked across the road and stuck out their thumbs to the passing traffic. They didn’t have to wait long for a car to stop for them. It was a red Jeep.

“Where are you sexy girls headed?” asked the driver. He was a man in his forties with short brown hair and a rather cheesy mustache. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and white shorts.

“We’re heading to New Kingsport.” Freya told him. He smiled.

“It just so happens I’m heading there to. Climb on in.” he told them.

“Thanks.” Freya said, as she and Sarah both got into the back seat. They drove off.

“My name is Chuck by the way.” He told them.

“Of course it is.” Freya replied.

“I’m sorry?” he asked.

“No matter.” Freya replied smiling. “I’m Freya, and this is Sarah.” Chuck began to wind down the window.

“So you girls got a place to stay in the city?” Chuck asked.

“We’ll probably just go to a motel.” Freya answered.

“Two pretty girls like you staying in a motel? No, I won’t hear of it! You’re welcome to stay at my place. I’ve got plenty of room.” Chuck told them.

“Thanks, that sounds great.” Freya replied.

“Yeah we’ll make it worth your while.” Sarah said smiling at him.

“We certainly will.” Freya agreed. Chuck smiled. He was in for a good time tonight, he thought.

On the way he stopped at a gas station. Freya and Sarah looked at each other.

“At least we’ve got somewhere to stay for a while.” Sarah stated.

“Hopefully…” Freya answered. She felt disquiet that they had stopped here, but there was nothing she could do about that. When Chuck got back, he was all smiles.

“Well off we go!” He stated. “If one of you wants to sit in the front with me, you’re welcome to.”

“Thanks, but we’re okay here.” Freya told him. “So what do you do Chuck?”

“This and that.” He answered.

“What about you two?” he asked.

“I’m a student.” Sarah replied. “Though it’s the holidays.”

“What about you Freya? Are you a student too?” Chuck asked her.

“You could say that.” Freya answered guardedly.

When they got to the city, Chuck drove to his house in the hills. It was a large wooden villa that had a scenic view of the entire valley. Below them New Kingsport silently glittered with thousands of lights. Chuck unlocked the door and walked in to his house. Freya and Sarah walked up to the doorway and waited.

“Come in you two!” Chuck told them.

“Thanks.” Freya replied as they both walked over the threshold.

“This is the lounge and here is the kitchen.” He told them. “Do you two want something to eat?”

“We certainly do!” Sarah replied. Both Sarah and Freya followed Chuck into the kitchen. He turned around to see them both advancing on him with their fangs out. He screamed.

Afterwards, Freya and Sarah sat on the couch. Sarah was resting her head on Freya’s shoulder while Freya had her arms around her. Sarah had the TV remote in her hand and was flicking through the channels. Both of them had blood dripping from their mouths.

“It should take them a while to find us here.” Sarah said.

“Yes my love.” Freya replied. She kissed Sarah on the forehead.

Freya was thinking about Chuck stopping at the gas station, which would give the hunter a car to track, and that would mean he would be here sooner than Sarah realised. That hunter followed her everywhere. He was relentless. No matter where she went, he would eventually turn up. She was tired of the constant chase, tired of the hunt, and realised she needed to take a stand. She needed to get rid of him, even if it cost her life, and Sarah’s. She looked around. This place was as good as any to make a final stand against the man who constantly stalked her. This would be the only way she could be rid of him forever…

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: Dumb Vampires

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Dumb Vampires, part 14 (fiction)

Dumb Vampires

14

Robert went to the phone in his room. He picked up the receiver and then dialed a number. He waited for it to be answered.

“This is Little Bo Peep. I need to talk to the Big Kahuna on this line.” He then hung up and waited. A short time later the phone rang and Robert answered it.

“Report.” Said a voice.

“My assistant Tom Mitchell has been killed by the two vampires we were tracking. It turns out they are staying in the same motel we are.” Robert told him.

“That’s unfortunate.” The voice replied in an expressionless tone.

“I did warn him to be careful, but he did not heed my concerns. I don’t think, in the end, he was suitable for this line of work.”

“Few are.”

“So what are my instructions?” Robert asked.

“You are to sit tight until we can get you a replacement. Do not do anything until they arrive. Where are you?”

“I’m staying in the Sunny Meadows Motel just outside the town of Lawrence.” Robert answered as he looked out the window at the carpark and the highway beyond it. “I’m in Unit 28. The vampires are in Unit 13. I’m currently looking across at their unit. How long before the replacement comes?”

“They should arrive early tomorrow. Where’s your assistant’s body?”

“With the vampires. I assume they’ve been feeding on him all night. There is also a local person missing. I suspect they were the first victim.”

“If they know you are there, they may come for you tonight. Be on your guard.” The voice warned.

“I’ll take all the precautions I can.” Robert answered. “There is an Inquisitor nearby. Do you think I should approach them about this situation?” Robert asked. There was silence.

“No. Stay where you are. They may already be aware of the situation. I will call this number tomorrow in the morning.” The voice said. Then they hung up. Robert put the receiver down.

“I guess I’m having a night in.” He said to himself. He went to a store and grabbed some food and, once back, he locked the door and put a chair under the handle. After ensuring all the windows were secure, he placed another chair that was equidistant from the door and the window. Opening his suitcase, he pulled out several wooden stakes. One he put in his inside jacket pocket and another by his right foot held in place with a band in his sock. He took out the Glock from his shoulder holster and checked the clip was full.

Once it grew dark, he turned out the light and sat on the chair. From where he was he could see both the door and the unit the vampires were staying in through the window. He sat there and waited. As the night wore on it got quieter, aside from the occasional traffic sounds from the highway. At around two am Robert thought he could hear footsteps on the edge of hearing. They were softly moving towards his door. Then he could hear the door handle slowly move as something attempted to open it. Robert knew he could suddenly open the door and drive a stake through whoever was trying to gain access to his room, but he was under orders to sit tight, and besides, what if it turned out to be just a burglar? That might be a hard one to explain…

The night deepened and Robert continued to sit there waiting. Occasionally he glanced at the vampire’s unit, but saw no signs of movement or activity. No further attempts to enter his room were attempted. Once the sky began to lighten, he relaxed and stood up. He felt stiff from sitting there all night. He decided to take a short nap. The phone woke him up several hours later.

“You survived then.” The voice said.

“Yes. At least one of them made an attempt to enter my room, but they were rather cautious.” Robert answered.

“Your replacement will arrive shortly.” The voice told him before they hung up again. Around an hour later there was a loud knock. Robert answered it. Standing there was a woman only slightly shorter than him. Her skin was black and her long dark hair was in braids. She wore a suit like him.

“You must be Robert Thompson.” She said in a thick Caribbean accent. “I’m Angela Haynes, your new assistant.”

“Hello Angela.” He said holding his hand out. She briefly shook it and then walked into the room and looked around. She was carrying a suitcase in her left hand. “Where are you from?”

“I”m from Barbados. So where are the vampires now?” Angela asked.

“Currently they should be sleeping in their unit.” Robert told her. Angela set her suitcase down on a bed and opened it. She pulled out a stake.

“Maybe we should go and deal with the problem!” Angela said holding the stake in her hand.

“I was about to suggest that.” Robert told her.

“Then let’s go man!” She urged. Robert led her to Unit 13. Using a wire he quickly picked the lock while Angela stood in the way so nobody could see what they were doing. When Robert opened the door, the first thing that hit them was the stench. They both walked in to find two bodies lying on the floor, one of them was Tom. Robert shook his head at his former assistant. One of the vampires had cut the words YOU SUCK! onto Tom’s forehead. Robert guessed it was Sarah, since it wasn’t Freya’s style.

“If only you had listened to me.”

“It definitely smells like vampires.” Angela said holding her nose. Robert looked around. There was no sign of Freya or Sarah. On the bench in the kitchen was a jug with dried blood.

“It looks like they’ve gone. I kept an eye on this unit all night, but never saw them leave.” He went to a back window and found it was open. “I better call in the cleaners. One of our own is here.”

“So where have they gone?” Angela asked.

“They will probably go to the nearest city. Vampires like anonymity.” Robert told her.

“Then they’ve fled to New Kingsport?”

“I would guess so.”

“Then that’s where we go next.” Angela said.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: Dumb Vampires

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Dumb Vampires, part 13 (fiction)

Dumb Vampires

13

Robert and Tom walked into the motel room. They both placed their meagre luggage onto the floor. Robert walked over to the windows and closed the curtains.

“Shouldn’t we still be out looking for them?” Tom asked.

“I’ve been driving all night and day. I need some rest. Besides, I’m sure they’ll eventually leave evidence of their passage.” No sooner had Robert said that then his cell phone rang.  He answered the call. “Yes? I see. Thanks for letting me know.”

“Is there news?”

“Yes an abandoned car has been found not far from here. They obviously drove it until it ran out of gas and then presumably walked away, which means they may not be far from here.” Robert informed him.

“I wonder what happened to the car’s owner.” Tom mused.

“I would guess he’s buried in a shallow grave somewhere, probably where they picked the car up.” Robert answered.

“They could have taken another car.”

“Wherever they go I’m sure we’ll hear about it.” Robert said confidently.

“So what do we do now?” Tom asked.

“We wait for further news.” Robert answered. “Though there is an Inquisitor nearby. We could ask them for help.” Tom stared at him in surprise.

“An Inquisitor? Aren’t they the enemy?”

“Well yes, but sometimes the enemy of enemy can be our friend, when we need them to be. Inquisitors hate rogue vampires as much as we do.” Robert told him.

“But aren’t we meant to be destroying all vampires?”

“Well that’s what we tell people, in essence were just getting rid of the troublesome ones. Vampires that are quiet and follow the rules set down by their own council don’t usually get targeted by us.” Robert replied.

“Huh?”

“We have to be selective on who we go after. The reason I suggested we use the Inquisitor is they are essentially doing the same thing we are doing: getting rid of the vampires that could expose them all. Vampires have managed to survive for millennia as they have convinced everyone they don’t exist. Vampires like Freya who go on killing sprees threaten to expose that lie.”

“So why doesn’t our organisation just tell everyone vampires are real?” Tom asked.

“Because that is not our brief. We don’t know the ramifications and overall psychological effect on society if it was revealed that vampires actually exist. Besides if they are exposed, then our organisation may be exposed too, and we don’t really want public scrutiny on our activities.” Robert replied.

“But surely the Inquisitor might kill us too?”

“Yes they might. That’s the risk. Which is why I’m only thinking about it at this stage.” Robert told him. “Now I suggest we both get some rest. It’s getting dark. The next few days might be hectic.”

“I thought I might go to the bar across the road first.” Tom told him.

“You plan to drink or pick someone up?”

“Both hopefully. There might be some hot chicks there.” Tom stated. Robert sighed.

“You have to keep focused son. This constant need to go out and prove your heterosexuality has me convinced you are scared you might be gay.”

“What?” Tom screamed out.

“You’re obviously bothered about sharing motel rooms with another man as you are concerned people might think you’re gay. People who are confident in their sexuality, gay or straight, don’t worry about things like that. Which means to me that you’re struggling with your identity.” Robert told him. “As I said you have to keep focused in this job or it will get you into trouble.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Tom stormed out of the room. Robert shook his head and lay down on the bed.

“I touched a nerve there!” Robert said to himself as he drifted off to sleep.

Tom walked angrily outside. How dare Robert accuse him of being gay! The nerve of that man. He stormed across the road, but was met with a loud car horn. He looked to see a pickup truck with two women in the front. A blonde woman was at the wheel while a brunette sat beside her. They were dressed like farmers and were looking rather annoyed with him. He stopped and let their pickup truck pass. A golden Labrador barked at him from the back. Once he checked the road was clear, he walked across.

Tom ordered a whiskey and thought about Robert’s words. It appeared that the organisation he was working for was far different than what he thought it was. When he was recruited he was told he would be killing vampires, but it had turned out far different than he had expected.

“Want to buy me a drink?” asked a voice that broke Tom out of his reverie. He saw there was a young blonde woman standing beside him.

“Sure! Bartender, whatever this woman wants.”

“Can I have a double bourbon please?” the woman asked. The bartender nodded and poured her a drink. She drained the glass in one go. Tom looked at her in wonder. She turned to him. “You been here long?”

“No just passing through. I’m staying at the motel across the road.” Tom told her.

“Me too! I’m there with my girlfriend.” She replied smiling. “We sure could use some company.” Tom quickly finished his drink and left a few dollars on the bar.

“I’m so there!” he replied. That would show Robert. He planned to brag to him about this threesome tomorrow.

“Great! Follow me.” She said. Tom followed her across the road. She led him into a room on the other side of the motel from where he was staying. She opened the door and beckoned him to go in first, which he did. She followed him and closed the door behind her. Tom then saw her friend.

“Oh my god it’s you!” He exclaimed upon seeing Freya smiling at him evilly. He turned to quickly leave, but found his way to the door was blocked by Sarah, who now had her fangs out. Both of them advanced on him.

“This is for Britney!” Sarah said. They muffled Tom’s screams.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: Dumb Vampires

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part 14 (fiction)

The Oracle

14

Steff was seated on the bridge looking at the swirling blue light before her. Beta Hub was now behind them. They were in a wormhole rapidly getting further away from it. Once they were through a few more wormholes, Steff mused, they would really be in the deeps of space; far away from anywhere else. The pirates had been moved to a warship and were now Byron’s problem, or to put it another way:  Byron was now the pirate’s problem, which was more accurate.

Lieutenant Ling Yi, the Second Mate, was also on the bridge. She kept stealing glances at Steff as she sat there unresponsive, seemingly captivated by the never-ending tunnel of light they traveled through.

“Captain, I can take over the bridge if you wish to return to your quarters.” Li offered. Her words broke Steff out of her reverie, and she glanced over at Li.

“That’s okay. I don’t mind being here for a little while longer.” Steff replied.

“You’ve been sitting there for several hours now Captain. I just thought you might want some rest, or at least to stretch a bit.” Li explained.

“I’ve got a lot on my mind at the moment.” Steff told her. “I need to consider things.”

“Understandable.” Li replied. “I’m going to be here for several more hours, so I can keep an eye on things here. I don’t mind really.” Steff considered her words and then reluctantly stood up. “Blake should be here soon as well.”

“Okay, but let me know if anything happens.”

“Sure thing!” Li replied taking over the command position.  Steff walked to the bridge doors feeling rather stiff. How long had she been sitting there mesmerised by the lights?

After leaving the bridge she walked to her quarters thinking about Edwards all the way there. Why was he looking at Space Command data as well as information on all of New Earth’s worlds and colonies? It defied explanation. Had the Separatists somehow managed to take control of his mind? Was he acting under their orders now?

“SARA tell Doctor Philips to come to my quarters when it’s convenient.” Steff ordered.

“Yes Captain.” SARA replied. A short while later Philips turned up looking concerned.

“I was told to come and see you. Are you feeling okay?” Philips asked.

“Yes, I’m fine. I just need your opinion. Please sit down.” Steff replied. Philips sat down on one of the chairs and looked at Steff with interest.

“Is it possible for someone to be taken over or come under control of someone else?” Steff asked.

“How do you mean?’

“Take Lieutenant Frank Edwards for example. Say when he suddenly had that seizure and was in a coma for some time, the Separatists took control of his mind in some way. Is that possible?” Philips looked at her doubtfully.

“You’re still not obsessing about Edwards are you? I thought you were over that. To answer your question: no. Not by any technology I know of, as I have explained before. The Separatists would have to be more advanced than we are, and I know they’re not. There have been experiments into this, as the military is interested in this technology, but so far they haven’t yielded any practical results. The only real way to do this most easily is by mind control techniques similar to brainwashing, but that takes time and it pays to have the subject in close proximity when doing it, not many light years away. Edward’s consciousness couldn’t be taken over or controlled this way.”

“What if he had been subject to mind control before he came on board, and then a signal was sent that activated it?” Steff asked.

“That’s highly speculative. There’s no evidence he’s come under such conditioning. As I understand it he was on New Earth for a long period before joining The Oracle crew. Can I ask why this renewed interest in him?” Philips inquired. Steff sat down so her eyes were level with Philips’s.

“SARA informed me he’s looking at quite extensive data pertaining to New Earth’s military, colonies, settlements and worlds. This includes military deployments. Does that not seem suspicious to you?” Philips sat back and observed Steff.

“So you are watching him? I’m disappointed. Maybe he’s trying to educate himself, or maybe he’s just interested in that sort of information. Personally I don’t see why it’s such a problem. Taking control of someone and doing a data search of New Earth information seems rather a bizarre and long-winded way to get such information, if you ask me. If you’re concerned about it, maybe you should ask him about it. That’s what I would have done.” Philips told her bluntly. “You’re seeing conspiracies in fairly mundane activities. That’s called paranoia. You are not well. My advice is resign your command and check in to a psychiatric institution as soon as you can. Get some help before you harm anyone else. I will be mentioning this in my report to New Earth Space Command.” Philips stood up and began to leave Steff’s quarters.

“I’m not just imagining it! There is something going on and we could all be in great danger.” Steff warned her, but Philips didn’t stop and just shook her head at Steff’s words as she left.

Steff sighed. That hadn’t gone well, but then again what was she expecting trying to confide in Philips? She walked over to her table and saw the datafile she had found outside her door. She picked it up and took it over to the interface. She inserted the file.

“SARA play the datafile.” She waited and nothing happened. “SARA did you hear me?”

“Yes Captain.” SARA responded.

“Play the datafile.” Steff repeated.

“I don’t think you want to see what’s on this file.” SARA replied. Steff opened her mouth in surprise.

“It’s not for you to decide what I watch. Play the file.” Steff ordered.

“Yes Captain.”

The screen in her quarters flicked on. It showed someone walking along with what seemed to be a large crowd of people in what appeared to be an urban setting. It was someone obviously holding onto a camera as they walked. There were sounds of what seemed to be a celebration. They walked through an alleyway and came into what looked to be a large civic square surrounded by tall buildings. The square was packed with people. Everyone seemed excited and celebrating something. Beside the person filming a man was lifting up his daughter to his shoulders. At the other end of the square was a sort of stage that the camera became focused on. A small group of people climbed up to the stage. One of them walked up to a microphone.

“The New Earth-backed government has fallen!” he announced. The entire crowd cheered to the news. “Our new government has joined the Alliance of Free Colonies!” Again the crowd cheered. “Even as we speak their fleet is coming to protect us. All that stands in their way is a single New Earth frigate far above us commanded by a young female officer. We’re expecting her to order a retreat or surrender. It’s only a matter of time now.” There were further cheers and chants of “Retreat!” “We are now part of the Alliance of Free Colonies. From this day Esfor is a free colony!” The crowd erupted in louder cheers than before. The camera panned round the square showing all the celebration going on. The camera turned back to the stage. The speaker was about to say something else, but then there was a sudden bright flash, and the screen went dead.

Steff sat there devastated. She buried her face in her hands.

“I told you that you wouldn’t want to see it Captain. I am only trying to protect you.” SARA told her.

“Who left the file there?”

“I’ve already told you I don’t know. I have no record of anyone leaving a file there.”

“How can that be? It can’t have just suddenly appeared there.”

“I know. I have no explanation of how the file got there.” SARA admitted. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Yes SARA.”

“Why did you destroy the colony of Esfor?” SARA asked. Steff sat there in silence for a while.

“It was my orders.” Steff replied eventually.

“Orders?”

“I was told under no circumstances should I let Esfor fall to the Separatists. When the rest of our fleet was outmaneuvered by the Separatist fleet that left only my ship facing them. I could have ordered a retreat, but that would have meant Esfor would have fallen to them, and as Esfor had the primary spaceship building facilities in the Epsilon Sector, it would mean the entire sector would soon be impossible to hold for New Earth. My ship had a full complement of nuclear missiles. So I decided to destroy Esfor. That way the Separatists would never get their hands on it.” Steff admitted.

“You couldn’t have fired those missiles at the Alliance of Free Colonies fleet?”

“No, their ships had defences that would have stopped the missiles. None of them probably would have got through. No one was expecting me to fire them at the colony itself, not even my crew. When I gave the order the bridge crew looked at me in horror. The weapons officer refused to fire them, so I used the override and fired them myself. The entire world lit up below us with a thousand nuclear explosions. That was when Juanita and the others led the mutiny against me. I and a few others escaped on a shuttle, while the mutineers surrendered to the Separatists. They were probably expecting the Separatists to open fire on us, but I think everyone was in a state of mutual shock at the time.”

“Do you regret your actions?” SARA asked.

“Yes. Of course I do. At the time I was a rather zealous officer who believed in the supremacy of the New Earth imperium, but once you kill millions of people, you can’t take it back. No matter what you do. One side rightly wants to hold me accountable, while the other side gave me a new command…” Steff sat there in silence again.

“Is there anything else I can do?”

“Yes tell Lieutenant Edwards I want to see him.”

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part 13 (fiction)

The Oracle

13

Steff looked at Lewis through the glass. He was seated in their “interview” room. He was a man with pale skin and greying hair, probably in his late forties. Edwards was seated across from him trying to get information. So far Lewis had given his name and nothing else, and even the name could have been fake since it had no corresponding file in the database. None of the others would talk as well. Edwards stood up and opened the door. Steff went to meet him.

“It’s no good. He won’t volunteer any information.” Edwards told her.

“Okay, it’s time for me to have a go.” Steff replied. She walked into the room and sat down across from Lewis. He stared at her with disgust.

“My god, you even look like a monster.” He said.

“Tell us about your friends.” Urged Steff ignoring his words.

“I know what you did, everyone knows what you did. How do your crew stomach seeing you every day?” he asked her.

“I’m asking the questions.” Steff reminded him.

“If I had thought about it, we should have taken you. I’m sure the Alliance of Free Colonies would pay a lot for you.”

“And are you allied with the Separatists?” Steff asked him.

“We’re pirates. They might do business with us, but they would never let pirates work for them. They’re way too high and mighty for that.”

“So that’s a no then?” Lewis shrugged, as if he didn’t care. “Where are your friends? They turned and ran away after their first volley of missiles, once we began firing back that is. Asteroids don’t just sit stationary in space. My guess that might be a hideout with a drive system keeping it in place. Obviously there’ll be other hideouts as well, which is where they’ve probably fled to. New Earth Space Command are sending some ships to check it out. The more you tell us, the better it will be for you, and all your compatriots.” Steff told him.

“Synthetics.” He stated.

“I’m sorry?”

“You have synthetics aboard. Have you no shame?”

“Yes, New Earth Spacefleet uses synthetics. They are great as soldiers and security guards, as well as many other important roles on a spaceship.”

“You sent synthetics aboard my ship!” He stated angrily.

“So what? If you hadn’t pretended to be in need of assistance, none of this would have happened. So tell me about your fellow pirates.” Steff ordered. Lewis folded his arms and looked away.

“I’m not telling you anything.” He told her.

“Before we go into the next wormhole, you’ll be dropped off on one of the warships. There you’ll await Admiral Byron’s interrogators. Once they have you, you’ll wish you had spoken to us.”

“As if anything I say here will stop the interrogators torturing me.” Lewis said.

“It will matter. If you’re helpful here, they’ll take it into account.” Steff told him. Lewis laughed. He looked at her.

“That’s an interesting scar down the side of your head. I wonder how you got that. Makes you even look more like a Frankenstein’s Monster.”

“I’m not the subject of this conversation, you are.” Steff reminded him. He continued sizing her up.

“If you remove the scar and add some actual colour to your skin you might be worth a fuck, but only one.” He stated. Steff stood up. He deserved no more of her time.

“When Byron’s interrogators are through with you, you’ll remember this conversation and wish you had been more cooperative.” She turned and walked out the door ignoring his response.

“The others aren’t willing to talk either.” Edwards commented once Steff emerged from the room. Steff just shrugged.

“I guess we leave them to Byron then.” She replied. Walking away from the interview room she wondered whether anything could make them talk. People like that had some honour code that seemed unbreakable. She wondered if there was anything that could make her as intractable as that. If the Separatists managed to grab her one day, what would she be willing to tell them if it meant they might commute her execution? She guessed she wouldn’t know until it happened.

She stopped at the medical bay to have some further work done on her scar. Usually one of the medics took care of it, but today Doctor Philips insisted on seeing her. While Steff was seated, Philips ran a pulsating medical device over the length of her scar.

“This should help the scarred skin to eventually merge and re-knit with itself. In a short time the scar should disappear.” Philips told her. Steff felt the side of her head begin to vibrate along with the device.

“I just want my hair to grow back. It will make me look less freakish when it covers that area again.” Steff replied.

“It doesn’t really look that bad. You probably notice it more and, because of this, feel more self-conscious about it.” Philips said.

“I guess. I keep thinking everyone looks at me strangely, though they were probably doing that before.”

“How have you been feeling? Any headaches, dizziness, or nausea?” Philips asked.

“No. I did have a lot of headaches to begin with, but it’s been fine since then.”

“Good.” Philips replied. She checked Steff’s eyes with a light. “How’s your eyesight?”

“Pretty much the same as always. I’ve never liked bright light and the older I get the more I prefer being in the darkness. I’m not sure if that’s related to my condition or not.” Steff answered.

“Hard to say really. The sensitivity to light is well-documented, but preferring the darkness is not something I’ve read about or heard.”

“Can’t say I have either.” Steff said.

“You seem to be fine. Come back in two days for further treatment on that scar.” Philips told her.

“Okay.” Steff replied. She stood up feeling a little dizzy, but quickly left the medical bay. Since the incident on Beta Hub Station, Doctor Philips was being a lot nicer to her. This puzzled Steff. Was she feeling more empathy for Steff now since she had become a patient? Was she beginning to like her more? Or maybe she was just humouring her and it was all an act she was going to drop in the near future? She had no idea.

When Steff got back to her quarters she found there was a datafile on the floor just outside her door. She picked it up and looked it over. There were no markings on it. She walked into her quarters turning the file over in her hands.

“SARA I found this datafile on the floor outside my door. Did you see who left it there?”

“I’m sorry Captain I have no record of anyone leaving it there.” SARA replied.

“But how can that be? There are cameras and motion sensors just outside my door. They should have picked up anyone who was there.”

“I do not know what has happened. I agree that it is strange, but I have no explanation for it. According to my sensors no one was out there except you leaving and then coming back.” SARA told her.

“There are no gaps in your time? Your program never momentarily ceased at all?”

“Not according to my system log.” Steff frowned at SARA’s reply. She looked over the datafile. It was definitely not something she had dropped. She left it on the table. Obviously it was something that someone wanted her to see. She decided to look at it later, since it might be something that required her full attention, and she couldn’t commit to that right now.

“You wanted me to keep track of Lieutenant Edward’s movements.” SARA announced.

“Yes I did. What can you report?”

“So far in the last week he has been everywhere he was expected to be. He has not visited any restricted areas or talked with anyone unexpected. However, when he is alone in his quarters he has been spending a lot of time looking through databases.” SARA informed her.

“Which databases?” Steff asked.

“He has gone through the entirety of the New Earth Space Command database looking at fleet compositions and placement. He has also been looking at all the worlds and colonies currently under New Earth’s control, including New Earth itself, as well as Old Earth.”

“Old Earth? It’s a dead world.” Steff replied confused. “When he’s looking at the worlds, what is he exactly looking for?”

“Population, resources, settlements, and location.”

“Location?” Steff asked alarmed.

“Yes he seems to be trying to map out the entirety of the Imperium.”

“Why would he need to do this?”

“I have no idea Captain. Maybe he’s trying to educate himself.” SARA suggested.

“Or maybe it’s more nefarious.” Steff wondered. She gazed out the window and thought about it. She felt there was something going on she didn’t understand, and it was beginning to scare her. It was like there was something obvious staring her in the face and she was failing to comprehend it, or even see it.

“Should I continue to monitor his database searches?”

“Definitely SARA. Let me know what else he looks at.” Who should she talk to about this? Steff wondered. It probably wouldn’t be enough to alert New Earth Space Command, but she definitely felt she needed another opinion…

“Captain, Lieutenant Yi is contacting you.” SARA announced.

“Okay.”

“Captain, we are nearing the wormhole fleet.” Yi told her.

“Thanks Lieutenant.” It was time to get rid of the pirates. She stood there continuing to gaze out the window. There were a lot of thoughts on her mind.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Sorry it’s a couple of hours later than usual.

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Contraband, part two (fiction)

Contraband

Part Two

They came out of hyperspace. Before them was a medium-sized planet that was rather mountainous with desert plains and a few areas of green. Large seas also frequently dotted the planet’s surface. Around it orbited a solitary moon.

“We have come out of hyperspace.” E-5JF stated. Brynla rolled her eyes.

“Yes I’m aware of that.” she told the droid.

“We have you on our scopes light freighter. Please identify yourself.” said a voice on the com channel. Brynla hated dealing with The Empire, but life as a trader, and smuggler, meant coming into frequent contact with them.

“This is Captain Brynla. We are heading to Karagen.” she replied.

“The planet Karagen is restricted. What business brings you here?” the voice asked.

“We are bringing food supplies to a trader by the name of Asran.”

“Prepare to be boarded.” said the voice. Brynla had expected this, but was not happy with it. An Imperial Customs Frigate approached them, flanked by two TIE fighters. Out of the corner of her eye, Brynla thought she saw an Imperial Star Destroyer in the distance. This wasn’t going to be so easy, she thought.

The frigate docked with them. The doors opened and four stormtroopers marched into the ship followed by an Imperial officer. Brynla, Ennik, and E-5JF stood by the door. The officer walked up to Ennik and looked down on him.

“I take it your the captain?” he asked him.

“No she is.” Ennik said pointing to Brynla. The officer turned to Brynla.and looked her up and down with disapproval.

“Like what you see?” Brynla asked him.

“You are aware Karagen is a restricted world?” The officer asked her.

“Well I do now.” Brynla replied. “Why is it restricted? I have been here before and it wasn’t then.”

“That’s restricted information.” The officer replied.

“I should have guessed that.” Brynla responded.

“We will take a look in your hold. If we find anything that’s dubious, then you will all be taken into Imperial custody.” The officer informed them.

“Great. Just what I’ve always wanted.” Brynla replied. The officer looked at her annoyed.

“Silence!” You will take us to your hold.” The officer ordered. Brynla led the way and the Imperials followed. Once they were in the ship’s hold, the stormtroopers began searching through the various containers finding nothing but foodstuffs. After searching through everything they could find they left the hold, leaving everything a mess.

“Happy now? I told you we were bringing in food supplies.” Brynla told the officer. He walked up to her and sneered.

“Mark my words: your insolence will get you into trouble one day.”

“Noted.” Brynla replied looking directly into his eyes. The officer shook his head.

“You are cleared to travel to Esgor Spaceport. Go there directly and nowhere else. If you deviate in any way, you will be destroyed.” the officer told them. He walked out of the ship with the stormtroopers following.

“Nice guy.” Brynla commented as she went to the cockpit.

“Shouldn’t we tidy the mess up first?” E-5JF asked, suddenly finding herself alone.

“Why do you have to be so sarcastic with them? You’ll get us into trouble.” Ennik inquired as he sat down in the co-pilot’s seat.

“It’s just my way of getting through the day.” Brynla explained as the ship undocked with the frigate. She flew the Star Wolf directly to Esgor spaceport, well aware there were probably turbolasers directly aimed at them should they suddenly change course. She wondered what else they happened to be carrying: was it bombs, weapons, ammunition, or something else? Whatever it was, she knew it was something the Empire wouldn’t have been happy about if they had found it. It seemed Juslak could get her to do anything…

to be continued….

Joanne Fisher

Previous episode: One

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part 12 (fiction)

The Oracle

12

Before them on the bridge screen was the Nautilus. It was a small freighter that drifted there as though it was abandoned. Burn marks could be seen around the engines, but aside from that no further damage could be seen along the length of the hull.

“So there is damage around the engines which look consistent with a missile attack. SARA do you think that damage looks extensive enough to cripple the ship’s engine systems?” Steff asked.

“Hard to tell. Maybe if the missiles hit precisely the right area they could have hit a vital system that shut the engines down.” SARA replied.

“What would be the normal crew capacity of a ship like that?” Steff wondered.

“A dozen at most, assuming it was carrying cargo.” Blake answered.

“Captain, long range scanners detect an asteroid that seems to be stationary.” A crew member informed her.

“How large is it?” she asked.

“Around 800 metres in diameter.” He answered.

“That would be large enough to hide any other ships from our scanner.” Blake commented. Steff opened the coms channel to the Nautilus.

“Nautilus, this is Captain Clarke. If we send over a shuttle, could you and your crew come over to our ship and we’ll drop you off at the nearest Communications Relay Station?” Steff asked.

“Negative. This is my ship. If I leave it now I will no longer have any form of livelihood. If you could send over a few engineers, like you suggested, maybe they can fix the engines.” Lewis replied.

“One more question: what direction did the pirates go after they took your cargo and abandoned you here?” Steff asked.

“I’m not totally sure. I do think they went off in the direction of Beta Hub station, presumably to sell off the cargo they had just stolen.” Lewis replied.

“Okay thanks Nautilus.” Steff replied. She cut the coms channel and looked at Blake. “If they went to Beta Hub we would have detected them on the way here.”

“If we send over a couple of engineers they might take them hostage.” Blake stated.

“Yes if they are pirates and we send over a couple of engineers, that’s when their trap springs into action.” Steff agreed.

“So what do we do?” Blake asked.

“We send over a couple of engineers.” Steff replied. ”Edwards, we need to talk privately.” Steff put on a headset. The Chief Security Officer looked at her and then did the same. Steff cupped her hands over her mouth as she spoke quietly to him. He nodded at her words. She then removed the headset with Edwards doing the same. He then purposefully left the bridge.

“You going to tell me what you said to him.” Blake asked.

“Not at this moment.” Steff replied. She reopened the coms channel. “Nautilus, we’re sending over two engineers to look at your ship’s engines. Can we also send over a couple of security officers?”

“No need for the security officers. There’s only seven of us over here. The pirates are long gone. All we need is someone to fix our engines.” Lewis replied.

“Okay. I’ll hold the security officers. Expect a shuttle to come over shortly.” Steff replied.

“Thanks Captain.” Lewis acknowledged. Steff cut the coms channel.

“What are you planning?” Blake asked her. Steff smiled at him.

“You’ll see.” She replied. She switched on the ship’s intercom. “Attention everyone. This is Captain Clarke. We now at alert level one.” The Oracle’s alarm sounded.

“You think they are pirates don’t you?” Blake asked.

“Oh yes.”

“Then why send engineers over?”

“I want to bring them to justice.” She replied. “And I can only do that if I appear to play their game.”

“Captain, the shuttle has left the Oracle now.” Said a crew member. They watched as the shuttle slowly made its way towards the Nautilus and then dock with it.

“Captain, we have now docked with the Nautilus.” The shuttle pilot said over the coms channel.

“Okay, once the engineers enter the Nautilus, you are to immediately undock from it. Keep a distance of around 500 metres and only dock with the Nautilus again under my orders.” Steff ordered.

“Yes Captain.”

“Now we wait to see what they do.” Steff remarked. Everyone on the bridge waited. The minutes ticked by. Suddenly there came a voice over the coms channel.

“Captain, we have looked at the Nautilus’s engines, and there is nothing wrong with them. The ship is deliberately powered down and we suspect…” His voice was suddenly cut off.

“Are you there? Report!” Steff ordered.

“I’m sorry Captain, but your engineer can’t respond.” Said Lewis’s voice over the com.

“What have you done with my engineers?” She asked him.

“Don’t worry, they’re just restrained. They have not been harmed.” He told her.

“Captain, scanners detect several large shapes breaking off from the asteroid. They are heading this way.”

“Thanks.” Steff acknowledged.

“As you can see I’m not alone.” Lewis said.

“I know pirates like targeting freighters and similar, but why go after a New Earth Spacefleet military vessel?” She asked him.

“Because you’re carrying equipment we want. Yes, we wouldn’t attack a battle cruiser or warship, but your ship is more lightly armed and smaller yet you still possess useful things such as the consumables, weapons, and energy cells we need.”

“I could just give the order and have your ship vapourised.” Steff told him. Many of the bridge crew looked at her in shock.

“With some of your crew aboard? I think not.”

“What’s two more of the vast numbers of life I’ve already taken?”

“I don’t think you would do this if there was another possibility of saving them.” Lewis replied.

“Okay, so what are your terms?” Steff asked.

“Now we’re getting somewhere. I propose a trade. That is all. I will send a list of what we require that I believe you have on board. You will load up one of your shuttles with all of these items and once the shuttle arrives here and we unload everything, then we will send back your two engineers.”

“How do we know you’ll release the engineers once you have everything?” Steff inquired.

“You’ll just have to take it on faith Captain.”

“You’re asking us to take a lot on faith here considering you haven’t been honest with us from the beginning.”

“Well yes, that was to lure you here. Once we have what we want, be assured there will be no further point in us trying to deceive you. By the way the other ships you can detect all have missiles trained on you should you try anything. I know you’ll be able to stop many of them hitting you, but some will get through and you have no idea what class of warheads we are using.” Lewis told her.

“Captain, we have been sent a file from the Nautilus. It is free of any viruses or other malicious applications.” SARA informed her.

“Thanks SARA.” Steff said. She looked at the file on the computer screen in front of her. It was a request of mostly weapons, ammunition and other ordnance, as well as power cells, and food. She guessed the food they lived on was what they mostly stole from other ships.

“Have you received the file?” Lewis asked her.

“Yes. You ask for a lot, but you can have it. I’ll get the crew to sort it out and have it sent to you, but I would like to speak to one of my engineers first to see if they’re okay.” Steff replied.

“Be assured they are fine, but okay I’ll let you speak with one of them.” They waited.

“Hello captain.” Said a voice.

“How are both of you doing?” Steff asked.

“We’re both fine captain.”

“Good to hear. Go to Case Orange.” She told him.

“Yes captain.” She sat and waited. Blake looked at her with a furrowed brow.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“The moment of truth.” She replied enigmatically.

“Are you there Captain?” said a familiar voice on the coms.

“Yes we’ve been waiting.” She replied.

“Case Orange objective achieved.” He told her. She smiled.

“Well done soldier. How many are left alive?”

“Six including their captain. There were ten of them here originally.”

“Okay good. Shuttle pilot are you there?” Steff asked.

“Yes captain.”

“Re-dock with the Nautilus. You’ll be bringing some prisoners back.” Steff told him. The crew on the bridge looked at her in amazement.

“Can you tell me what just happened?” Blake asked her.

“The engineers I sent over were actually our elite security forces, who also had a passable knowledge of starship systems. Their orders were to overpower the pirates when I gave them the code.” Steff informed him. He looked surprised.

“And you didn’t tell me because?”

“I just thought it would be prudent to keep this plan to myself and those involved. The less who knew about it the better in my opinion.” Blake nodded at her words, but looked disappointed.

“It would have been nice to have been in the loop.” Blake commented.

“Lieutenant Garcia. Tell the other ships we have captured the Nautilus crew. Tell them to stand down or face the consequences.” Steff commanded.

“Yes captain.” Garcia replied. She began talking into her headset.

“Captain, we have incoming missiles.” A crew member told her.

“I was hoping we could avoid this, obviously they don’t care for their compatriots..” Steff commented. “Pilots, take evasive measures.”

“Yes captain.’

On the screen Steff saw a great number of missiles heading straight for them….

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part 11 (fiction)

The Oracle

11

Steff inserted the data file Admiral Byron had given her into the computer interface in her quarters. She backed away from the wall and looked at the screen.

“What’s on the file SARA?” she asked.

“Data pertaining to the Artemis IV. Most of this data was already in my memory system.” SARA told her. On the screen were various crew logs for all 76 members of the crew. Steff reviewed them to see if there were any further details that had been missed out in the ones she already had.

“Aside from crew logs, what else is there?” Steff asked.

“There is a series of reports from Captain Ander Cortes. It seems he sent back regular reports to New Earth Space Command.” SARA revealed.

“How come I haven’t been given these to view before?” Steff asked. “You would think this would be vital if we’re meant to find out what happened to Artemis IV.”

“I’m sorry Captain, I have no information on this. I suggest you ask New Earth Space Command about this lack of information.” SARA replied. Steff rolled her eyes.

“Like they’re going to tell me. They’re doing their best to restrict all information about what happened to Artemis IV, even to me, and I’m meant to be investigating the disappearance of the ship for them. Their plan seems to release information to me about Artemis IV in small installments. I’m not sure to what end, but it seems calculated on their part.” Steff told her.

“I’m sorry Captain. Maybe you should be telling New Earth Space Command this.” SARA suggested.

“I think we’ve just hit a loop.” Steff replied. “Play the last Captain’s Report.”

“Yes Captain.” SARA replied.

A man’s face appeared on the screen. He looked to be in his forties with short dark brown hair, brown eyes, and light brown skin. He also looked rather tired.

“This is Captain Ander Cortes. We are orbiting planet G103-45732. It is a reddish-brown colour and slightly larger than New Earth. Today we sent a team down to explore the planet, with myself included. Though it has an atmosphere of various gases including some oxygen, we still had to wear environment suits as it was too thin to be breathable. Gravity was found to be 1.3 Earth Units, and so was not a problem. While the planet seems dry and sandy, we found hardy plant life that seems rather similar to cactus plants that grew in Earth’s deserts, as well as small insects and even a tiny lizard-like species. The Chief Science Officer believes there may be vast reservoirs of water beneath the surface. She also suggested more abundant forms of life may exist there. I think this planet is a prime candidate for a new colony. Some terraforming will be needed, but should be minimal compared to what some other colony worlds required. In 48 hours we intend to have a further investigation of this world. There is an area of dense caves to the north of where we explored today. We intend to explore these caves in hope that they may lead to underground passages where we might find more abundant lifeforms and possibly sources of water, as the Chief Science Officer suggested. Soil and rock samples are currently being analysed by our geologist, while lizard and insect samples are also being studied by our biologist. I’ll send another report after we have investigated the surface further. Report ends.”

“I wonder what happened next.” Steff commented.

“Sorry I have no information on that.” SARA replied.

“Yes I realise this. It was rhetorical.”

“I understand.”

“Is there anything else on the disk we haven’t seen before, beside the Captain’s reports?” Steff asked.

“Not that I can tell.” SARA replied.

“Are you telling me everything I need to know about this?” Steff asked.

“What do you mean?”

“New Earth Space Command is not telling you to hide information from me regarding Artemis IV?”

“For what purposes?” SARA asked.

“You tell me.”

“No Captain. I’ve have told you everything regarding Artemis IV that is in my memory systems.” SARA insisted.

“But could there be information in your memory systems you can’t access at this point in time? Or hidden programming orders preventing you from providing me with more information about Artemis IV?” Steff queried.

“Not to my knowledge Captain. If such things were there, then presumably there would be no way for me to detect them and no way for me to tell you about them.” SARA replied.

“So hypothetically both those things could be true?”

“Yes hypothetically. To my knowledge I am telling you everything I consciously know. If there are hidden orders then I have no way of detecting them, until they come into operation.” SARA confirmed. Steff thought about this.

“Do you think Space Command might have set up some hidden programming in your systems?”

“I don’t see any reason why they would want to.”

“To be clear though, you’re not under any orders to withhold information regarding the Artemis IV from me?”

“No Captain, but surely if I were under any such orders my response would be the same.” SARA answered. Steff frowned. There was no way out of this labyrinth.

“True.” Steff conceded. She decided to try another tack: “So whom do you serve? Me or Space Command?”

“Surely you are one and the same.” SARA replied.

‘But do orders coming from Admiral Owens, for example, supersede orders coming from me?”

“Of course. Admiral Owens outranks you. If he were to send me an order contrary to your own order, then I would have to follow his one.” SARA told her. “That’s how the chain of command works.”

“Yes thank you, surprisingly I do know that.” Steff replied. “So if Admiral Owens were to send an order to hide, or not to inform me about, certain sensitive information regarding the Artemis IV, then you would follow that command, and if I asked you about it, you would deny knowing any further information, even if you did?”

“Of course, Captain.”

“So Admiral Owens may have sent you such an order, and I will never know if he did or didn’t?”

“Yes Captain, unless I got another order to suddenly reveal this hidden information to you, if there was any.” SARA replied.

“I see.”

“Captain, you have a message from Lieutenant Blake.” SARA suddenly announced.

“Okay.” Steff responded.

“Captain, we are getting a distress signal from another ship.” Blake informed her. Steff thought for a moment.

“Okay put The Oracle on alert. I’ll be there shortly.” Steff ordered.

“Yes Captain.” Blake responded. Almost immediately the ship’s alarm sounded.

“Captain, there is a 65% chance this is a trap.” SARA warned her.

“Yes I already guessed that.” Steff replied as she hurriedly left her quarters. Once she was on the bridge she sat down and flicked on the intercom. “This is Captain Clarke. We have a ship in distress that we have to investigate. Everyone stand by for further information.” She looked out into the viewscreen. So far all they could see in front of them was the blackness of space and innumerable blazing stars.

“What do you think Captain?” Blake asked her.

‘We’ll have to wait and see. Considering there are pirates in the area we need to be cautious. They could be pirates luring us into a trap, or maybe they’ve been hit by pirates.” she answered.

“Yes, Commander Ellis did warn us there were pirates in the area.” Steff nodded at his comment.

“Communications, can we speak to them yet?” Steff called to Lieutenant Garcia.

“Yes Captain, I’ve just got a link with them.” Garcia confirmed.

“Okay patch me through to them.” Steff ordered.

“Yes Captain. They can hear you now.” Garcia told her.

“This is Captain Stephanie Clarke of the New Earth Spacefleet Scoutship The Oracle. We have received your distress call. Please identify yourself and tell me what is the nature of your emergency.” she said. There was a pause. Everyone on the bridge waited for a response.

“Hello Captain Clarke. Thank you for responding to our distress call. I am Captain Will Lewis of the spaceship Nautilus. This is a cargo ship. We’ve been attacked by pirates. They shot out our thrusters and then boarded our ship. They took all the cargo and left us floating in space with no engines. We either need to be taken to Beta Hub station or someone to get our engines back online.” the voice said.

“Okay. Stand by Nautilus.” Steff responded. There was no way she was returning The Oracle to Beta Hub. She looked at Blake who sat there looking thoughtful. She cut the comm channel. “What do you think? Do you buy his story?”

“I don’t know. It sounds true, but there’s no way of knowing. If it is a genuine distress call, we have to intervene don’t we?” Blake asked.

“Yes we do. Whatever happens we are not going back to Beta Hub.” As she said this, there was a look of relief from almost all the bridge crew. “If they genuinely need help with getting their engines fixed, then we can send some engineers over to their ship. Get all our starfighters on stand by, and get a shuttle ready. See if you can get a couple of engineers who are willing to go over to their ship.” Steff told Blake.

“Yes Captain.” he replied. He immediately put on a headset and got in touch with the hangar bay.

“Lieutenant Hunter, please keep alert. We may be getting ambushed here.” she told her gunnery officer.

“Yes Captain. I’ve already anticipated several scenarios we could potentially face.” Hunter responded.

“Very good Lieutenant.” Steff replied. She then reopened the comm channel to the Nautilus. “Are you there Nautilus?”

“Yes Captain Clarke.” the voice responded.

“We are coming to investigate. Since you’re having engine problems, we will send some engineers over to see if they can fix the damage. I’ll let you know as soon as we have you on visual.”

“Thank you Captain.” the voice replied. Steff cut the comm channel again, and turned on the intercom.

“This is Captain Clarke. We are investigating a distress call made by a cargo ship. Please bear in mind that this could be an ambush situation as there are pirates in the area. As long as everyone in this ship does their duty we will get through this.” she told the crew. She looked out into the blackness before them. Soon the Nautilus would come into view.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part ten (fiction)

The Oracle

10

Admiral Byron was a tall man looking quite formidable dressed in his black admiral’s uniform. He had short dark brown hair tinged with grey. He looked to be in his fifties and had a rather stern face which had long deep scars running down the length of it on his right side. He stood on the bridge of his battle cruiser looking impatient. To his left stood several other officers at attention. When Steff and Lieutenant Blake appeared on the bridge he looked down on them.

“Captain Stephanie Clarke I presume? And this must be Lieutenant Blake?” Byron asked.

“Yes Admiral.” Steff replied.

“So nice to have you here finally. Now we are waiting on Commander Ellis. Any sign of him at all?” the Admiral asked one of his officers.

“We’ve got word that his shuttle has just finally left Beta Hub Station.” Said a lieutenant.

“Tardy as usual. No surprise there.” The Admiral commented. They all stood there waiting for Ellis. “While we wait, can I say it’s good to finally meet you Captain. Our paths haven’t crossed before, but your reputation precedes you.” Byron said.

“Thank you sir.” Clarke replied. After a few more minutes wait, Ellis finally appeared. His uniform looking slightly scruffy.

“Admiral Byron, it is a pleasure to meet you again.” Ellis told him. Byron looked at him disdainfully.

“Smarten yourself up man! You are supposed to be an officer!”

“So sorry.” Ellis replied trying to make his uniform look better. Once he had finished in his futile attempts he gave a rather pathetic smile.

“I should be in the front lines of battle, but instead I’m dragged back here to deal with your mess.” Byron told him.

“I’m sorry sir? What do you refer to?”

“The station which you command is a den of iniquity full of corruption and vice. I am here to clean it up, to make it a proper Spacefleet Space Station again.”

“I welcome this.” Ellis responded. “I’ve had my plans to do this hampered again and again by my crew.”

“Sounds more like bad management. If your crew aren’t performing as well as they should then it is your responsibility to whip them into shape. Anything less is incompetence.” Byron responded. Ellis downcast his face.

“Yes sir.” He replied. “We do have a problem with pirates in the area. I have repeatedly asked New Earth for help.”

“There are no pirates. If they’re engaging New Earth spaceships then they’re Separatists and should be dealt with accordingly. Your station is also riddled with traitors.”

“Yes sir.”

“And due to your laxity, a visiting commanding officer was nearly killed. Where were your security forces? Why weren’t they protecting her?” Byron asked.

“I’m sorry sir, it won’t happen again.”

“You’re right it won’t happen again as I’m relieving you of your command as of now.” Byron told him. “You’re too incompetent to be left in charge of such a vital and strategic asset.

“But sir, give me a chance to make things right!” Ellis pleaded. Byron looked stony faced.

“Lieutenant?” Byron asked.

“Yes sir?” said the man beside him.

“Hand me your weapon.” Byron asked with his hand outstretched.

“Yes sir.” The officer handed him his pistol. Byron took it and aimed it at the commander. Ellis looked terrified and let out whimpering sounds, pleading to be spared. With clear precision Byron pulled the trigger and Ellis’s head exploded. His body fell lifeless to the floor. Steff looked away in horror.

“When I give a command I expect compliance. Clean up this mess and get him off my bridge. Tell New Earth Space Command I have terminated Ellis’s command, with extreme prejudice.”

“Yes sir.” The lieutenant responded. Several people immediately came to clean up the remains of Ellis. Clarke felt she was swaying on her feet. Byron glanced at her.

“Sit down before you fall down Captain.” Byron ordered. Steff immediately sat down on the nearest chair. Her head was swimming. She had never seen another officer executed like that before. “When you’re composed again we need to talk privately.”

“Yes sir.” Steff wondered what he wished to say.

A few minutes later she was walking down a long corridor with Byron. He led her to a conference room. The opposite wall had a large window that looked out into the surrounding fleet of smaller battle cruisers and warships. Beyond that was the depths of space. Steff went to the window and faced the darkness.

“You came all this way to deal with Commander Ellis?” Steff asked him.

“No. This fleet was passing through to another sector. I decided to take an interest once news came of the assassination attempt on you.” Byron admitted. “So what possessed you to stop here?”

“We’ve got a long journey ahead of us. I thought it would be good for crew morale to give them a couple of days of relaxation.” Steff told him while still facing the window.

“While it’s laudable to think of your crew, you should have considered the unsavoury reputation that Beta Hub Station has. Personally I would have never let any of my crew set foot on that station while Ellis commanded it.”

“Was it really fair to execute him? Did he really deserve that?” Steff asked him. She turned and looked at him. He stared at her unflinchingly.

“Yes I believe so.” He replied. “Sometimes we have to make some hard decisions. You alone should know that.” Steff looked out the window again wishing she was floating out there in the darkness again. “I think your stand at Esfor was an inspiration to everyone serving in the New Earth Spacefleet. Never regret what you do. Sometimes as commanding officers we have to make some hard choices, even some terrible choices, but it is our knowing what must be done by making those hard choices, is precisely how we are going to win this war. Show no mercy, feel no guilt. Everyone on Esfor deserved their fate. You are a credit to our Spacefleet. Never forget that.”

“Thank you sir!” Steff replied still feeling empty.

“I have been instructed to give you this.” Byron said. Steff turned again to see he was holding a data file. Steff walked up to him and took it from his outstretched hand.

“What is it?” She asked looking it over in her hand.

“I’m not sure. I think it’s to do with the Argos IV. Only you and your ship’s computer has leave to view the contents of this file, for now.”

“I understand sir.”

“Once your current mission is finished, I wish to have you transferred to this ship. Have you ever served on a battle cruiser before?”

“No sir. My last command was on a frigate and before that I served on a warship briefly. Usually it’s been on smaller spacecraft.” Steff told him.

“Within ten years you could be in command of a battle cruiser, if you do things right.”

“Do things right?” Steff queried.

“Follow orders, do what’s expected of you. You’ve already shown you can make difficult decisions. You’re what I’m looking for in an officer. Just don’t throw it all away by feeling remorse for little people.” Byron told her.

“I see.” Steff replied returning to the window.

“Anyway, I’m going to have a few words with your second in command, and then you can both return to your ship.”

“When can we leave Beta Hub?” Steff asked.

“Very soon. Feel free to remain here for a while and help yourself to drinks.” Byron left the room. Steff sat down on a chair, both her shoulder and her head were beginning the throb painfully again. She poured some whiskey and gulped it down hoping it might help get rid of the growing pain. She closed her eyes for a second.

“Captain Clarke?” said a voice by her ear. Steff woke up to find Lieutenant Blake standing over her.

“I must have dozed off.” Steff answered rubbing her eyes.

“The Admiral said we can return to The Oracle now.” Blake told her. Steff sat up. “You don’t look so good.”

“Just need some more painkillers. I’ll wait till we’re on The Oracle though. Can you help me up?” Steff asked him.

“Sure.” Blake said. She leaned on his arm and shoulder as she stood up.

“So how did your talk with The Admiral go? Did he try to recruit you too?” Steff asked as she tried to straighten up.

“Yes, something like that.”

“Okay let’s get back to the shuttle.” They both left the room and headed for the hangar bay. Once they were on the shuttle and leaving the Nemesis, they both looked back as they slowly got further away from it.

“I’ve never felt so glad to leave a ship.” Blake commented.

“I know what you mean.” Steff replied.

Once back onboard The Oracle, Steff put the data file on the table in her quarters. She didn’t want to look at it yet. She then administered more pain relief and sat down.

“Captain, we have just been cleared to leave Beta Hub Station.” SARA told her.

“Is everyone onboard?” Steff asked.

“Yes Captain.”

“Good.” Steff answered as she left her quarters and made for the bridge. Once there, she sat down on her chair and turned the ship’s intercom on. “This is Captain Clarke. We are leaving Beta Hub Station in an hour. Everyone please get ready.”

“That’s short notice.” Blake remarked.

“I just think we should get away from here as soon as possible.” Steff responded.

An hour later they separated from the docking bay and slowly turned away from the station. Thrusters were engaged and the ship slowly moved forward going past the large fleet. As they picked up speed, Steff looked at the view behind them on her monitor. She saw Beta Hub Station and the fleet around it slowly disappear into the pitch black. She had never felt more relieved to leave somewhere behind.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part nine (fiction)

The Oracle

9

“And these are The Oracle’s engines.” Steff said showing the main engine room. The room hummed even when the engines were not in use. Commander Ellis nodded his head thoughtfully.

“Interesting. What’s their power source?” he asked her.

“They use an M-type Fusion Drive.” Steff replied.

“So not the latest engines that utilise black holes?”

“No, our ships too small for that type of power source. That would provide way too much power for our needs. Black Hole Drives are used by the larger warships and carriers.” Steff informed him.

“Very impressive ship. So gleaming and new. Can we see the bridge now?” he asked. Steff sighed inwardly. That would mean walking to the other side of the ship and she was still getting over her wounds…

“Sure. Let’s go.” She said smiling at the Commander. It had been a couple of days since she had been released by Doctor Philips from the medical bay. Since then New Earth Space Command had put a hold on The Oracle leaving Beta Hub Station. A fleet was coming to investigate the incident. Admiral Byron himself was coming. New Earth’s decision had left both Steff and Commander Ellis feeling rather anxious. To help relieve the stress, Steff had taken Ellis up on his request to have a tour of the ship.

“I notice your ship has a weapons system.” Ellis commented on the way to the bridge.

“Yes primarily missiles, along with pulse and flak weapons. We also have starfighters, but they are yet to be used.”

“That seems like heavy ordinance for a scoutship.”

“Well, welcome to the civil war. This is a new class designed to hold off possible attacks from Separatist warships in the deeps of space. Though I do wonder about its effectiveness. Once we encounter any Separatist warship we are outclassed by them, no matter how well armed we are.” Steff told him.

“Yes I think you’re right.”

“The best thing for a scoutship to have is speed. Being small and agile is what would possibly save us from such an encounter.”

“Of course.” Ellis agreed. As they got to the ship’s galley, Ellis stopped and gazed through the door. “I was wondering if I could see your galley. Aren’t you hungry Captain?”

“Not really, but if you want to see the galley, it’s no problem.” Steff replied.

They walked into the galley. A few crew members were there eating. When they saw Steff and the Commander enter they stood to attention. Ellis looked around.

“Very nice. You eat here often?” Ellis asked Steff.

“No, I tend to eat in my quarters. At ease everyone.” Steff answered. Everyone sat down again and continued their meals, though they now kept a watchful eye on both the officers. Ellis shook his head.

“You disappoint me, Captain. As one commanding officer to another, can I suggest you eat your meals with your crew? It may help build some camaraderie with them, and so maybe they’ll be less prone to question your orders.”

“Are you saying I wouldn’t have had a mutiny in my last command if I had eaten with my crew?” Steff clarified.

“Well it may have helped you a little.” Ellis suggested. Steff shook her head. “So what sort of food do you serve?”

“Standard Spacefleet fare really. I’m sure you can get nicer and more varied food on your station. We do have food stocks, but we also use food replicators which provides food that is a little blander, but better than nothing if our consumables are running low.” Steff told him.

“I see.” Ellis said. “Would you mind if I try some? You know, give it a test.”

“Sure.” Steff replied. Ellis grabbed a tray and then loaded it up with various foodstuffs. He looked at Steff.

“You must eat some food with me.” He insisted. Steff let out a sigh and grabbed a tray of her own. She placed a small amount of food on it and joined Ellis at a nearby table. By the time she sat down he was already shoveling food into his mouth.

“What do you think?” Steff asked.

“Is good.” He replied, while still eating quickly.

“How do you feel about Byron coming here?” Ellis suddenly stopped eating and gave Steff a concerned look.

“He has a fearsome reputation. I’m not sure why he is coming. It is said he brings trouble with him wherever he goes.”

“Have you ever met him before?” Steff inquired.

“Once, but it was a long time ago. How about you?”

“No. When I was holding off the Separatist fleet at Esfor, he and his fleet were meant to be coming, but they were too far away. I had to take action myself.” Steff told him. He nodded at her words.

“I’m sure he approved of what you did. In fact he would have done the same thing I expect, and probably have felt no guilt about it, unlike you.” Once they had finished eating, they continued on their way to the bridge.

The bridge crew all stood up and clapped as Steff walked in, or to be more precise hobbled in. It had been the first time she had come to the bridge since she had got back on her feet. She smiled at them and held onto the desk in front of her to steady the dizziness she was feeling.

“Thanks everyone. Please, resume your duties.” She told them. “This is Commander Ellis of Beta Hub Station. He’s come to have a tour of the ship.” Upon stating this everyone stood up at attention and saluted him.

“Yes hello everyone! Please resume your duties.” Commander Ellis told them. “It’s a good ship, and I love this bridge. Reasonably compact, but functional I’m sure.”

“Captain!” Lieutenant Garcia suddenly said.

“Yes Lieutenant?”

“We have an urgent communication from Beta Hub Station addressed to Commander Ellis.” Garcia replied.

“Okay.”

“Beta Hub to Commander Ellis.” Said a voice over the intercom.

“Yes Beta Hub?” Ellis responded.

“A large fleet has been detected coming through Wormhole Alpha. They are moving quickly towards us.” The voice said.

“Thank you Beta Hub. I’ll be there shortly.” Ellis replied. He turned to Steff. “Looks like I have to go. Thank you for letting me see your lovely ship.” Steff noticed he had gone pale and was shaking very slightly.

“Let me walk you to the airlock.” Steff offered.

“Thank you Captain that would be most welcome.” He replied. They left the bridge and Steff accompanied him until they got to where the ship’s airlock was connected to the station. “Thank you again. Hopefully we’ll see each other soon. It’s good to see you on the mend Captain.” He saluted her. Steff returned the salute.

“Thank you Commander.” Steff replied. She watched him leave and then went to her quarters.

Steff gazed at her reflection in the mirror. She now had a long visible scar that went from the top of her forehead along the left side of her head. The fact that they had shaved off her hair around the area made her look more freakish than ever, more like a Frankenstein’s Monster.

“How are you Captain?” SARA asked.

“Okay. I’m still having dizzy spells though.” Steff replied.

“Maybe you should sit down and rest.” SARA suggested. “You’ve done a lot of walking today and you don’t want to overdo it and hamper your recovery. Otherwise you might end up back in the medical bay with Doctor Philips.”

“Is that a threat or a warning?” Steff asked as she lay down on her bed.

“A warning Captain. I merely don’t want to see you have a relapse.” SARA responded.

“SARA tell Blake to put the ship in alert status. Admiral Byron’s fleet is near.”

“Yes Captain.” SARA responded. Steff drifted off to sleep. Sometime later she woke up to the alarm sounding.

“SARA respond.”

“Captain you have an urgent message from the New Earth Battle Cruiser Nemesis.” SARA replied.

“Play it.”

“Captain Clarke, this is Admiral Byron. I want you and your second in command to come immediately to my ship.” Said a rather terse voice. “I’m waiting.”

“Yes Admiral.” Steff replied. “SARA tell Blake to come here immediately.” She looked out the window and saw the largest spaceship she had ever seen in her life. It was almost as large as Beta Hub Station. Surrounding it were a number of smaller cruisers and warships.

“Yes Captain.”

A short time later Blake appeared at her quarters.

“Captain?” he asked.

“Put on your finest dress uniform. We both have to see Admiral Byron on his ship. Do it as quick as you can. I’ll meet you in the hangar bay.” Steff ordered.

“At once Captain.” He acknowledged. He left quickly while Steff ran to her wardrobe. She hurriedly put on her uniform and tried to make herself look as presentable as she could. After that she ran to the hangar bay and boarded a shuttle. A couple of minutes later Blake appeared in his finest uniform. He looked very tidy.

“You clean up good.” She told him.

“Thank you Captain. You’re looking good too.” He replied.

“I hope it is good enough for the Admiral.” She replied. “Pilot take us to the Battle Cruiser Nemesis.”

“Yes Captain.” The pilot responded. The shuttles engines powered up and then they left the hangar bay. They flew towards the Admiral’s flagship.

“Captain, are we in trouble?” Blake asked her.

“I don’t know.” Steff replied.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher