Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12
Chapter 11: A Rescue and a Trap
As far as rescue missions went, this one didn’t start well. It actually didn’t start for a little while.
They flew their cloaked ship close enough to the other to be able to get across but there was no way in without the other ship finding out.
“They’re opening their shields long enough to let out fighter ships. We could try and time it so we can jump in while they’re going out?” Bart asked.
“We won’t fit in there.” Nessa pointed out the obvious.
“Not the whole Galahad, just my little fighter. Once we get everyone on the transport carrier, someone’s going to need to fly it out. I’ll be sad to leave the old fighter behind, but that’s an easy sacrifice.” There wouldn’t be room in the transport with all those people and the fighter wasn’t fast enough to keep up.
Alexandre, Em, and Tanya had volunteered to stay in the Galahad while the rest of them crammed into the little fighter and got ready to leave.
“It’s been an honour serving with you. We are all representative of our people and despite our systems being at war for a millennium, we have come together to become a damn fine crew. Now remember, the Sun Speakers can see the future especially when it’s governed by the actions of a Sapian. They have no idea what we Feline or Canine are doing. Hopefully that will extend to Serpents like Alexandre. Follow his lead and let’s save our people.” It wasn’t her best speech, but it got the reactions she’d hoped for.
The fighter ship was designed for two people and it had felt cramped when they had gone out with three. Now at four with Zuri, Nessa, Bart, and Peri, it was pretty squished.
They waited as close as they could with the bay door open. Peri scanned them all as they were waiting. Finally, the other ship released its fighters and Bart flew toward their hold as fast as possible.
The hold was massive and still had some fighters getting ready to launch. Nessa, in the gunner’s chair, shot the remaining ships before they had a chance to move.
Alarms blared. “We weren’t going for subtle, were we?” asked Peri rhetorically.
Instead of landing, Bart took advantage of the large corridors in the Blue Sun ships and crashed through the door. Nessa shot at any soldiers in their way. Through the twisting corridors, they passed the prisoner cells and took a sharp right into the large cargo hold that had the Tyrite Troop Transport. They landed outside the doors and ran back toward the prisoner cells.
With the guards taken care of, they moved quickly. As they ran, Peri whispered to Nessa, “I found Arthur.”
She whispered back, “If it’s Bart, don’t tell anyone, he’ll be insufferable.”
Yelling from the front, Bart said, “I’m a canine. I can hear a whisper as well as you could, feline, we all know it’s not me but the girl.”
Peri looked surprised at Bart’s comment, “How did you know?”
“Only one of us was raised by an old-Earth cult and looks like the guy on the screen.”
Zuri stopped running and said, “I’m Arthur? But I’m a girl.”
“Bah!” Bart barked. “The Tyrite Empress is a girl. The leaders of Avalon are girls. The royal Family of Ares are all non-binary.” He paused before yelling, “Welcome back, Queen. Now move your tiny butt, I’m going to need help hacking the cell locks. Unless we find a living guard, my method won’t work.” It felt like months since they’d thrown a guard at the forcefields to open the cells, but it had been only a few days.
Relaxing at his casual tone, Zuri rushed forward to hug him and the two ran ahead to the central chamber.
The Sun Speakers couldn’t follow what was going on with her, but Zuri was a Sapian and that meant they probably already knew. “We need to speed things up,” she said.
Zuri made quick work of the console and released the prisoners. Releasing them was easier than organizing them. You don’t move a thousand people quickly unless you want some of them trampled.
Nessa and Bart directed the flow while the doctor made sure everyone was alright. Finally, as the last of them was moving toward the ship, Nessa and Zuri were alone at the end of the line. “Did you know?” the older woman asked.
“No. I was told my whole life that my brother was Arthur. That Arthur could never be a woman.” Zuri still looked uncertain.
“Did you finding out unlock some sort of latent memories that would teach you about your powers?”
Laughing, Zuri said, “No, and you know it wouldn’t. The Avalon lady said she needed to train him, I mean me.”
“I guess we need to get you to her then.” Nessa felt the fur on the back of her neck rise in alarm and she pushed Zuri out of the way of a stun bolt. It hit the bulkhead beside her.
Behind them were a dozen soldiers and Aria the Sun Speaker. She still looked young but her eyes were old and angry. “Hello, cat.”
“That’s Captain Nessa Muldune, you prepubescent prophet.”
Zuri snickered at Nessa’s snarky tone.
The Sun Speaker didn’t seem amused; she said, “Did you think you could save them?” When Nessa didn’t reply, she continued, “We knew if we had enough people and started a fight, you’d eventually show up and we knew that you’d bring us back Arthur.”
“You knew I was Arthur?”
“Absolutely. Now you have two choices. Die with them or live with us.”
Zuri looked confused, then her whole face went blank, and then she furrowed her brow like she was watching something absolutely fascinating. Finally, the girl slumped a little and started to cry.
Looking smug, Aria said, “That’s right. We’ve rigged the ship to explode and unless you stay with us, we’ll detonate it.”
Barely audible over the hum of air and the smugness of the Sun Speaker, Zuri whispered a series of numbers. She repeated the ten digit code twice and then said, “Fine. I’ll stay, but you have to let Nessa go with the others.”
“I won’t leave you alone with these people,” Nessa argued.
“Go, please.” Zuri looked worried enough to be sick.
Nodding, Nessa turned and ran to the transport. Peri was waiting at the door. She got to him and said, “There’s a bomb on the ship, but I think Zuri gave me the disarm code.” She gave him the code and when he didn’t move she added, “Go disarm it.”
“What about you?”
“I’m going to save Zuri”
Read Chapter 12 (December 2023)
While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories: