Authors: Bruce George
Tags: #space opera, #sci fi, #starfighter, #military science fiction, #space ship, #alien contact, #military sci fi
Mike just shook his head, pointed down the
passageway, and said, “Lead on, smartass.”
A small robotic device came scurrying past them. Jo
acted as though it was nothing, but Mike nearly leapt out of his
skin. Jo noticed his reaction.
“That’s one of hundreds of tiny robots that perform
basic functions on the Mother Ship. They are harmless. As far as I
know, they cannot be programmed to harm any creature. It is a
safety feature that allows the Saurans to run the ship without fear
of attack from within.”
Mike, ever thinking as a warrior, said, “I wonder if
we can change that. It could come in handy, if the Saurans trust
Jo nodded as he walked and explained, “The programs
for the robots are sealed devices. To change them, you have to open
them and they are set to self destruct if that were to happen.”
“How do you know that.”
“Accidents happen, even on a ship like this. I saw
one get crushed and when the sealed control unit broke open, it
“Do all warriors curse as much as you do?”
“No Jo, not all of them, although many of the guys
do. It’s a way of releasing our frustration, as you said earlier.
If we bring more men on board, you’re going to have to get used to
“How marvelous. I enjoy the diversity of your
people’s language. It’s so expressive in so many different ways. It
reminds me of the Tobinary. They have many phrases to express their
“Would they be a race that can help us?” Would they
make good allies?”
“Most of the races I am familiar with are slaves, as
are my people. If they are not slaves, I doubt that the Saurans
would allow us to speak with them or even be near them.”
“You know what, Jo. I’ve never met a Sauran and I
already dislike them.”
“Mike, if you ever cross paths with a Sauran, show
him respect and act humble. They are used to it and take offense
when they don’t receive it from a race other than their own.”
“Oh my friend. It’s so hard for me to be
“I have sensed that in you from the very beginning.
At first, that concerned me. But now I think perhaps it is the sign
of a confident warrior. I don’t know. I’ve never had the luxury of
soliciting the aid of a warrior of any race. This is as new for me
as it is for you.”
They walked in silence along most of the length of
the huge ship, a little over half a mile. Every now and then, Mike
would ask about some part of the ship that grabbed his curiosity.
Most of the time, the answer provided Mike with little
“We are near the Operation Center now. I must admit
I cannot hide my fear as I approach. Although I know we are alone
on this vessel, I quake at the thought of seeing a live Sauran
about to punish me for what I have done.”
“Don’t worry. You have me to help you now.”
“Mike, I mean no offense, but your ability to defend
me against a Sauran doesn’t create a sense of relief for me. You
will understand when you see the dead Sauran.”
“Jo, I just had a thought. Wouldn’t one of these
robot have cleaned up the dead guy by now.”
“No. They can only enter the Operation Center if
called upon to do so by a master. As I have told you, Saurans are
cautious. They don’t take chances with their safety.”
Mike didn’t respond out loud. But he felt that
somehow, the Sauran’s overcautious attitude could be one of their
weaknesses. Certainly, there must be a way to exploit it.
The tall alien announced, “We are here.”
There was a heavy looking armored hatch that was
open and behind it was a closed hatch that had seen a lot of use.
Mike saw the wear on the floor where the entrance had opened and
closed. It opened like an elevator door, with two opposing panels
that slid to the sides. Once open, it must have been ten feet tall
and twelve feet wide.
Jo closed his eyes and the door opened. The stench
was overpowering. Something horrible had been rotting in here for a
while. Mike waited for Jo to enter, but the Thorian had frozen in
place, his fear so great.
The entrance was very wide compared to anything one
would find on a Navy vessel of Earth. Mike was reminded it had been
designed for taller wider beings. He stepped around Jo and walked
in, holding his hand over his nose.
His senses were alert, as his combat experience
kicked in. It had been many years since his Army days and his
training had been so thorough that he couldn’t have subdued his
instincts if he wanted to.
As he entered, his eyes began to sweep from left to
right. Without conscious thought, he ducked and rolled away, as
something went whirling by his head. He came backup to a fighting
stance and found himself facing an eight foot tall Sauran
The creature must have been the one that Jo had
killed, or thought he had killed. He saw the burn wounds on its
head and the eye sockets were still empty. With amazing speed, the
huge beast launched at him and kicked out at Mike’s new legs. This
type of fighting wasn’t new for Mike and he easily sidestepped the
alien’s foot, as he parried it with his hand.
As he pushed the leg aside, it felt like his hand
had struck a metal bar and that bar just kept coming at him,
kicking out blindly. Mike could almost predict the enemy’s moves;
but that didn’t make those moves any less effective.
Mike called out, “Jo, give me a hand here.”
There was no answer and Mike wasn’t about to take
his eyes off the huge muscle bound Sauran. He assumed that Jo was
frozen in place where he last saw him, or he had run away.
How in the hell was this thing seeing him, if its
eyes were gone. The monster was attempting to pin him into the
corner, so Mike circled like a boxer.
The alien didn’t bother with feints or subtle jabs.
Every move was designed to land a brutal blow. If this guy ever
connected, at the very least, he would brake a few bones, and if he
landed a kick or punch to Mike’s head, it would be over.
The Sauran lunged at him and Mike quickly moved to
his left, tripping over an object on the floor. Instinctively he
rolled twice, just as fast as he could, and the creature came down
knee first, right where Mike would have been.
Mike scrambled to his feet and gave a quick look
around for some sort of weapon, anything that might inflict harm on
this beast. That brief glimpse around the Control Center cost him.
The Sauran’s hand lashed out, as Mike leaned back away from it at
the last second. While the alien didn’t land a fatal blow, he was
able to swipe him across the face, leaving three deep gouges in his
cheek that hurt like hell.
He grunted, but held his scream inside. You never
let the enemy have any idea how badly you were hurt. The enormous
bulk of the Sauran, followed too quickly for Mike to dodge it, as
it crashed into him, sending them both to the floor. God must have
been with him, because the Sauran didn’t land on him. If it had, he
might have been crushed beneath the four hundred pound monster.
The real trouble was Mike was now in the grasp of
this ugly, smelly beast. The smell instantly got worse, as a flood
of hot goo came flowing from the creature’s mouth and nostrils. He
rolled away from the foul substance and saw Jo standing over the
Sauran, holding the very item that he had tripped over, earlier in
Mike laid his head back on the floor and tried to
catch his breath, as the Thorian apologized.
“My friend, I’m so sorry. I thought I had killed him
the first time and obviously I was wrong.”
Between rapid breaths, Mike asked, “Well,’ gasp, “is
he,” gasp, “dead yet.”
“I’m afraid not, but that will change in a moment.
It never occurred to me that this one had the complete combat
Jo went to a corner and picked up a strange looking
device; twisted something on the handle, and then came back over to
the alien, who certainly didn’t seem alive to Mike. Jo let out a
weird groan, as he pulled the heavy creature over onto its
He placed the odd instrument against the Sauran’s
belly and warned, “This is going to kill his combat mind, when I
hit it with this cable torch. You may wish to leave, because I fear
the stench in going to get much worse.”
Mike struggle to his feet; went to the door and
said, “OK, go on and hit him with it. I want to watch. I guess it’s
just the veteran soldier in me. I want to be absolutely sure the
son of a bitch is dead.”
Jo nodded like a human and fired the torch. There
was no flame, just a short ultraviolet light that sounded like a
miniature freight train. The force of it shot into the alien’s
stomach, passed through his torso and came out beneath the ugly
bastard, causing the body to jump around.
To Mike’s amazement, Jo stuck his hand inside the
Sauran’s now open belly, felt around, and then produced a distorted
blob of something metallic. “The Sauran is dead this time. The
combat module has been destroyed.”
A computer voice announced something, which came out
of his shoulder speakers, in English, a half second later. “I have
no Sauran Pilot and must send an alert. Signal to be assembled and
sent in one hundred and fifty seconds.”
Jo looked horrified. “I didn’t know this would
happen. The computer must be following a preprogrammed
Mike immediately understood what was going on. He
went to Jo and whispered, “Can the computer hear me?”
The computer answered, “Yes, I can hear you.”
“Then cancel the alert. You have a Pilot here
“I am not allowed to follow the guidance of a
Thorian. With the last Sauran dead, I must send the alert and
request that a new Senior Pilot be delivered to me at the area
commanders earliest convenience.”
Mike thought quickly. This was like some damn
computer game, except it was real.
He said, “The Sauran and I were practicing combat,
when he was accidentally damaged. As his partner in the combat
exercise, I shall now take command as the Senior Pilot, in his
“You are not Sauran.”
“Of course not. I am from the same genetic source as
the humans, but my people left this planet many thousands of years
ago. The Saurans have an agreement with my masters. We are to aid
them in retrieving humans for research. You know this to be
accurate, or did not the Sauran Senior Pilot include that in you
“This information is doubtful. The Senior Pilot did
not add this to my memories.”
“Did he always make you aware of all his plans.
Didn’t he have his own instructions to follow that you were not
made aware of?”
“Yes. A computer is never told everything. The
Senior Pilot always functions according to the orders he had been
given by his superiors. But you are not Sauran, so I cannot
recognize you as the Senior Pilot. Sixty seven seconds, before the
message is sent.”
His mind seemed to be going a million miles an hour.
This was like some logic game he had played, when he was in night
school. He had to keep the computer from sending that message.
“I am not a Sauran, yet I have been brought here to
facilitate the mission of the Saurans. I have an obligation to our
agreement and to the Saurans to complete this mission. I have the
information, which you do not. Therefore, you have the ability to
follow your program, by temporarily accepting me as the Senior
Pilot. Together, we can complete this work.
“If you waste time, by sending the signal and wait
for a new Senior Pilot, you must know the Saurans will be angry for
the delay. On my world, when a computer has failed to follow a
logical way to complete an assignment, their memories are erased
and they are destroyed. How do the Saurans handle that?”
“It is true that the Saurans will be displeased.
But, you are not Sauran, so I cannot acknowledge you as the Senior
Mike took a slightly different approach. “Very well.
Under these circumstances, I must return to my world and report
that the Saurans are unreliable partners in this endeavor and that
their computers are also unreliable. Once the Thorian has delivered
me to my ship, he will return here. But, I must order him not to
obey any order you may give. He is superior to you and I recognize
him as the Senior Pilot, even if you do not.”
“But he is not Sauran.”
Mike was frustrated and could no longer hold his
anger. “He is a valued and trusted slave of the Saurans and the
only member remaining of the crew on this vessel. He has knowledge
of the mission and has done what he must to complete it, whereas
you have not. When the Thorian feels it is necessary for him to
request a new Senior Pilot then and only then may you send an
“But he is not Sauran.”
He played another idea. “Of course he’s not. You
must have knowledge of other ships that have operated without
Saurans on board. This is just another of those episodes.”
“That is true. But those situations were due to
“And you have experienced unfortunate losses here,
as well. The Thorian shall take command and complete the mission
with me at his side.”
The computer remained silent.
Mike shouted, “You will acknowledge the Thorian as
the Senior Pilot now, or at my command you will self destruct.”
He had no idea if there was such a possibility, as a
self destruct ability.
“I should not do that as the ship has not been
He pointed out, “The ship has not been compromised,
but you obviously have been. You are not functioning properly and
you have jeopardized the mission and the agreement between our
people. Therefore, you are not fit to continue operating.”
The computer revealed its vulnerability by asking,
“But how will you operate the ship, if I am not joined to the body
of the ship to keep all systems going.”