FINALIST Submission by By M. Baker
First Fear [ Part 1 of 4 ]
The planet below, once a beautiful, lush, living planet was now barren, dead and a hellish reminder of what they'd lost. It hung there, a gigantic orb, barren red and browns replacing the once proud greens and blues of a once fertile planet. A planet which Richardson, despite all it's deformities and horrors called home. What ever it's faults, it was nothing like the monstrous object that orbited the planet. A nightmarish collection of metal, twisted into some inhuman minds idea of a space station. There was no order, in the veins and corridors and tendrils of Adamantium that flowed, like a collection of hundreds of rivers to form a pattern that the mind could wonder for ages. Lost in it's alien beauty and, for a brief second, it was even possible for a outsider to forget the horrors it held within. Two of those horrors stood, waiting behind Richardson. Both were massive creatures, orange-brown in colour, with skin that all most seamed more like carapace and utterly evil minds which gave no pretence to what it was. The largest, and closest creature stamped it's foot, -an Antaran sign for impatience. Richardson counted to three, fully aware that given a moment's notice the creature could order the obliteration of his world below. He turned to face the nightmarish creature, staring right into it's bulbous and hideous face.
"We are glad, that you have returned so quickly. I did not want to have to administer another punishment to your planet."
"You know me, anything to keep the great Antaran masters happy." Richardson had never discovered weather they could recognise sarcasm. If they did neither of the aliens took any action to punish him. Too Lazy I suppose.
"We have many more missions for you." The alien drew the human words out slowly, it gave the impression of a snake talking, just with out the additional S's.
"Oh joy oh joy." This time the lead Antaran gave Richardson a look that made him think twice about ever being anything less than fully loyal to them. Only years of working for his 'masters' had given him the ability to know when to stop being so sarcastic. That sense was screaming at him now. "What is it then."
"You are to travel to Draconis." Half a decade of wondering the Orion Sector on missions for the Antarans had created a 'map' of known space in Richardson's mind. He quickly located roughly were the Elerians home-world was and began thinking of all the possible targets the Antarans could be asking him to hit.
"There are rumours that a Elerians female is beginning to show signs of telepathic ability. I want her killed." Alarm bells began ringing inside Richardson's head, so loud he almost wondered how the Antarans failed to here them. What would they do to him, Richardson wondered if they discovered that she was in his ship right now, guarded by two of the Antarans previous 'targets'.
"And bring back the creatures brain." The second Antaran spoke quickly before Richardson was able to respond. The alien then turned to his mentor and began speaking apologetically to it. The conversation rang back and forth for a few seconds, with Richardson stuck not understand a single word. Then the larger alien turned and nodded in agreement to Richardson. "Yes, bring back the brain."
"Which reminds me." Richardson said. "What are you going to do with that." He nodded behind the two, in the middle of the research lab, held in a light-blue bag, seeping with blood was the head of Richardson's latest target.
"Take it away. Use it as a trophy or what ever you wish. We only needed it as proof that you had in fact completed the mission."
"Of course." Richardson said cursing under his breath. "But are you sure-"
"Sure what?" The second Antaran interrupted stepping forward in what struck Richardson as being a rather defensive posture. "That we don't want a Klackon head rolling around on the floor. You have your orders now leave!" Richardson saluted smartly, ever aware that his sarcasm was about to return and quickly made his exit. The two Antarans didn't even bother to watch him leave.
"A pitiful waste." Said the younger of the two.
"What is Xi-Liion. Sending a human after a Elerian." The older alien turned and walked towards computer console, eagerly awaiting the results of his last 'experiment.' "Or sending a thief to catch a thief."
"I don't understand why we have to send a slave to kill someone. Why can't we send our own fleet."
"Because, our own fleet is to complaisant. Complaisance leads of defeat. Isn't that the old saying." The young scientist turned and noticed for the first time that Richardson hadn't even touched the bag with the disembodied head in.
"Blasted forgetful slave." Xi-Liion said walking towards the bag. "I know he did this on purpose. I swear that sometimes he is mocking us." He reached into the bag and pulled out the Klackons head. It stared back at him with dead mournful eyes.
"If you want to go through all the bother of finding another captain who is willing to work for us. Then go ahead."
"We shouldn't have to." Xi-Liion protested. "Either send our own fleet or fire a few blasts at the planet, that'll send them running to our feet eager to help us in a instant." Xi-Liion deposited the head on the table flicking off several drips of blood which were running down his hands as he did so. Then he turned to face his elder. Xi-Liion enjoyed arguing with Ill-Vfah, it gave him a sense of power and accomplishment when he won, and when he lost he simply remembered that Ill-Vfah was a well respected and highly intelligent member of the Antaran scientific group. Truth be told Xi-Liion believed that Ill-Vfah also enjoyed there mental sparring as much as he did, but his integrity would mean that he'd never admit it in public.
"I do believe that you are no-longer concentrating on your work. You know full well what's at stake here." Victory Xi-Liion thought. This obviously meant that Lll-Vfah wouldn't mind him 'replacing' Richardson as long as he himself wasn't involved. Then perhaps Xi-Liion could get someone slightly more inclined to follow his orders than the older scientist. Yes, that might work out in the short run. Xi-Liion tucked the information away in his mind, he had far better and effective plans in mind for his superior, and if all went well.
[ CONTINUED... Part 2 ]