1 hour and 19 minutes later…
“Sir, I’ve been receiving reports that many of our weapons caches being empty.”
“I don’t know sir. My security team has been going to our weapons caches and finding them empty, as if someone is trying to hide all our rifles and spare side-blasters from us.”
Poison dripped from the Captain’s voice, “The Yrch.” He clenched his fist. “Have your team find any weapon it can. I want to be ready.”
The doors to the bridge opened. Fawx darted his head to see who had entered the bridge. Dr. Teffri in her ridiculous nursing uniform stepped onto the bridge. She had with her a small medical bag. She immediately sauntered over to Sgt. Garrick, apparently having gotten the hang of heels quicker than the other members of the crew. “I’m here.”
Sgt. Garrick turned around, her long red bangs tied back with a rubber band Fawx had found in his desk to hold some unused pens together. The pilot sighed. “Thank goodness… this corset thing is killing me! I can hardly breathe!” It had taken a while to find someone on the ship that actually had something that could cut cloth. Dr. Teffri’s scalpels would do the trick nicely.
“Novak, can you take the helm quickly while Garrick is getting taken care of?” The Captain wanted every obstacle that could be removed from Garrick’s piloting removed.
“Sure thing Captain.” Novak moved to the pilot’s seat; while not an expert pilot, Novak had been on the bridge long enough to keep the ship steady for a minute or two.
Fawx watched Garrick pull her feet off the steering pedals which her giant heels made difficult to use. It also didn’t help that she was having trouble reaching all the controls on her panel with the corset making it next to impossible to bend her back. Standing up, she gingerly stepped towards Teffri.
The Captain noted how Novak was finding it hard to find a comfortable position to sit in the small piloting chair with her rather large posterior. She slipped off her boots to control the foot pedals, a luxury Garrick’s bodysuit didn’t afford her. The second-in-command moved her hands purposely across the controls, her wispy sleeves giving off a false-sense of grace.
Teffri knelt onto the floor. Her tight, white uniform left no curve to the Captain’s imagination. He observed her pick up the scalpel. Her grip was tentative and nervous. It was then that it dawned on the Captain that Teffri had never cut something with her now smaller and softer hands. The scalpel would feel different in her hands than it had his. “Okay Garrick, please lay down on the ground as flat as you can. I’ll need you to remain as still as possible while I do this. I don’t want to accidentally cut you.”
Garrick dropped to her knees and straightened herself on the ground. “I appreciate that, Doctor.”
Teffri examined the corset-like wrap. She tried to lift up the material a little, only to find it didn’t budge an inch. It was literally as tight as it could get around her body possible! She lowered the knife to the material. “This thing is going to snap when I cut enough of it. Don’t move an inch.”
Petton spoke up. “Sir, I have some more bad news. I just got another report of an Yrch attack.”
Fawx groaned and turned around to face Petton. “Where and who?”
Her blue eyes were as pure and innocent as a doe. Her features were soft and subtle. Not an element of force or strength was hinted to by her body. “Deck 13. Airmen Kazaki and Mateo.”
Fawx rubbed his temples. “How many- how many are left?”
Petton bit her bottom lip. “Just you and Lt. Moden, sir. The Yrch has attacked everyone else.”
Silence hung over the bridge. Fifty-one of the fifty-three. Fawx looked at the four women on the bridge and trembled. Either himself or his engineering chief was next. A toss of the coin and his manhood could be gone.
Something moved in the corner of his right eye. His head shot to where he had seen the movement. Nothing was there. Had there been something there? The Yrch could move anywhere. What couldn’t he do? Or was he just being paranoid?
Fawx picked up his communicator. “Lt. Moden.”
“I’m right here Captain.”
“Two more have been attacked. We’re the only two left that have yet to be unchanged.” No response came from the engineer. “How much longer till that weapon is ready, Lt.?”
“I need about five more minutes and I think it will be done.”
“You think it will be done?”
A sigh came over the communicator. “Well sir, the problem is that we only shoot this thing once.”
A snap and a large exhale was heard on the bridge. “Oh God it feels nice to breath again!”
“What do you mean we’ll only get one shot?”
“Well sir, in order to operate the modulating barrier we have holding the Stasian uses several dozen mega-joules of energy. In order to create the weapon you had requested I had to fuse the side-blaster to a power supply that I designed to strap over the user’s back for easy carry. It’s rather heavy but-“
“Moden, stick to the important details!”
“Oh- of course sir. I’m sorry. At any rate, these side blasters are not meant to be shooting modulating frequency blasts. According to my study and data, as the blast is expelled, it will fry much of the circuitry thus making the weapon useless after the first use.”
“Damn it. That means that first shot has to be dead on and fatal. No mistakes.”
“That is correct sir.”
Fawx scratched at the back of head furiously. “Be ready to shoot then Moden.”
“Uh- me sir?”
“Yes Moden, you.”
“Uh sir, not to question your judgment but I’m not the best shot.”
“Believe me Moden, I know it. But it’s coming after one of us next. No reason it would stop suddenly. So the gun needs to be around one of us if we’re going to kill this thing. So be ready to shoot, damn it!”
“Uh- I will sir. But don’t expect a very good shoooaaaawgh!” The pitch of his voice climbed higher as he screamed.
“Moden? MODEN!” Fawx stood up and clenched his teeth. He pointed to Petton. “Get me a visual of what’s going on in Engineering! Now!”
Petton tapped at her console in a panic. “Patching the feed through to the main screen now!”
All five on the bridge gazed at the screen to see the Engineering team sprawled over the ground. The Yrch stood next to the light-plus drive firing various blasts of energy at it’s casing. Different colors of explosions hit what looked to be specific points. Then the Yrch disappeared anew. That’s when the ships alarms started going off.
“Moden! Are you okay? Moden what’s going on?”
One of the women stood up. Her shimmering black hair was tied in a tight ponytail that came down to the large swell of her butt. Her skirt was the shortest the Captain had seen so far, exposing the very bottom of where her cheeks connected with her thighs. Long white socks snaked up her thighs. She pushed her glasses up her face with a long, manicured red fingernail. A timid, mousey voice answered. “I’m fine Captain, but we’re not! The Yrch somehow blew the tachyon regulators off from the outside of the light-plus drive’s casings!”
She frantically tapped at buttons at the console in front of the light-plus drive, having difficulty with her long fingernails hitting keys she didn’t mean to. “What does that mean Moden?”
She pushed her glasses, which were now too large for her smaller nose, back up again. “It means if I don’t shut down the light-plus core down the entire ship is going to contract tachyon poisoning in about thirty-seconds! It’ll drop us out of subspace and we’ll be flying at subluminal speeds but at least we’ll be fine.”
Fawx’s mind went to the other ship that was following them and the statement of ‘two hours’ made by the Yrch. “Moden if we lose our ability to move at superluminal speeds we will-“
“I don’t have a choice Captain! If I don’t do it we all die from tachyon poisoning.”
The Captain sighed. “Then do it, Lt.”
“Disengaging in 3… 2… 1…” The Sabine dropped out of subspace, drifting through the Muffler Sector.
Fawx buried his hands in his face. They couldn’t run anymore. If another ship came after them, they would have to fight. What if the Minalonians repaired their ship and came after them again? They couldn’t pull the tractor beam trick again. And who knew what that other ship could do?
Moden’s soft, timid voice piped up once more. “Sir, I have some more bad news.”
Fawx groaned. “How much worse could it get?”
Moden winced when the Captain mentioned how much worse it could get. “Um, much worse. When the light-plus drive was damaged it damaged a few other systems.”
Fawx slowly lifted his head. “What other systems?”
“Well, a few ancillary systems that we can go without- but- our main engines were knocked offline. We’re moving on momentum alone.”
Garrick frantically tried to get the ship moving but to no avail. “Come on!”
Fawx gazed at Moden blankly. “We can’t move at all? No maneuvering or anything?”
“I’m afraid not sir. We’re dead in the water. The repairs to the light-plus drive would be easy enough, I just need about two hours to climb into the drive and repair the tachyon regulators.”
“Get to work on it right now. We need to get moving right now!”
The second-in-command had other concerns. “Captain, what about the Yrch? Moden is now a girl. The Yrch has only one more target left- we know where he’ll strike next- sir.”
It donned on Fawx. He was the last. The Yrch would be coming for him. If they were to kill the Yrch…
He needed someone fast. Someone who could move in those damned heels everyone had. “Teffri, get down to engineering and get that weapon Moden created and bring it back up here. We need it now!”
Teffri nodded her head, chatruese locks bouncing once more. “Yes sir.” She stood up and hurried off the bridge.
Before anything else could happen, Petton demanded the Captain’s attention. “Sir, a ship is decloaking directly off our aft! They are opening fire!”
“Damn it! Return fi-“ Everyone collapsed to the ground as the shield collapsed under the weight of heavy fire. Fawx pulled himself upright. Another round of shots rattled the ship directly, throwing Novak on top of the Captain. Trying to untangle from each other, Fawx barked, “Petton! Status!”
Petton staggered upright to her console. She clicked several keys. “That first volley disabled our shields. That last volley- damn it! They disabled all our offensive capabilities! We can’t even throw rocks at them!”
Fawx punched the ground. “Who are they Petton?”
Petton shook her head. “Their ship isn’t registered. It has a Minalonian hull but the engines look to be Teneclese. Weapon systems look human made. It’s a Frankenstein-ship. The name of the ship is written on the hull in English- the Silencer… Sir- they’re hailing us.”
Fawx scowled. “Petton. On. Screen.” Anger had fully consumed Fawx. His ship couldn’t move. It couldn’t fight. The Yrch could show up at any moment and complete what he started. The feeling of helplessness had caused him to snap. Whoever it was leading that ship, was not going to talk to a civilized or even sane person.
A human male, not much older than Fawx, appeared on the screen. “Commander Fawx. It has been a very long time. About, oh seven years, is it? My how the years just fly by, don’t they?”
Fawx’s entire face changed. He couldn’t speak. His muscles wouldn’t move. Of all the people- it was like he was seeing a ghost.
“I see by the looks of the rest of your crew on the bridge that my Yrch friend has been working his magic. Lt. Novak? Is that really you? My, my! You’re certainly quite the dish now, aren’t you?”
Fawx’s entire frame trembled with guilty rage. The mistake he made seven years had returned. Of all people who could have been responsible for this-
“Come now Bennis! Is that any way to greet an old friend? Say something!”
Hate woven into his voice, Fawx said only one word. “Irium!”
Definately not as long as the last one but I think it’s almost as good. This is the ultimate “tune in next week” chapter because next week we learn a lot about what is going on. I’m so excited about next chapter. I hope I can do the ideas in my head justice!
I’ve been staying up to late the past few weeks. I need to get to bed sooner. I’m paying for it how sleepy I am during classes.
Thanks to a talk from a friend I’ve made sure to help understand how the weird outfits hinder either the image or actual functionality for the new girls doing their old jobs. I tried to show it in Teffri trying to use the scalpel in her new hands, Garrick trying to use the foot pedals, Petton looking quite unintimidating yet serving as the security chief, etc. I hope I did a better job of it this chapter than last chapter.
As usual, please let me know your thoughts via email or some other medium. Seriously! I love to hear from you guys. It doesn’t have to be a three page critique. Just let me know you’re reading and/or enjoying the comic. If you think there are areas I could improve, please do! I want my writing to improve and I need to know the good and the bad to do it!