The Phantom of Choice

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41

“Hello, colonel. Long time no see.“

“General, what a surprise,” I did not let him know how angry I was to see him. This literally was the worst thing that could happen. With the corner of my eye, I was watching Lamreak and Ancelmus writing codes. Hurry up, you two, we need to get out of here.

“Sorry for sudden intruding. I was just wondering, how are things going there,” general smiled. I saw something dark behind his smile. Something, that was making chills run down my spine. He had something hidden in his sleeve. “Also we are still waiting for the samples you took. You said you are going to send them soon, but they still did not arrive.”

Of course, we did not send those samples. I don’t even remember issuing the order. And I was glad no one from the crew actually did. They did not need what we found. They would only use it to destroy us.

“There must have been some mistake in the navigation of the module. In fact, we had a yaw in our navigation systems too. Try to check if the module is somewhere near-by. Otherwise, everything is okay. We are doing great. What about you, sir? Do you want to give us any new orders?”

“No, there are no new orders for you. In fact, you were not supposed to be given any more orders. After all, by this time we all predicted you will not be here. It is a mystery for us how you are still alive.”

I knew it. I knew it the whole time. I just did not want to admit it.

No one from my crew was responsible for the sabotages happening. It was this man all along.

“We even put a failing components to your ship. My scientists were assuring me, there is no way you will survive being thrown out of the subspace in such speed, but you still did. You still survived it.

There is no way your engine should be working after that overheating we caused, yet still you are using it.

And when we caught a Spectre signal near one of our forgotten planets we thought, we have a solution for our problem. And I am still talking to you.

So we decided to use the least of our plans. Activate the robots. How were you able to survive their deadliness?”

“You also gave us a good counter when you gave us service robots,” I smiled on him. He frowned slightly as if he started to realize the mistake. And started to count every mistake they could have done.

“Oh right, those two failing robots. One thirteen that was supposed to be destroyed with that Jemovich and one service version of seventeen that is basically the same as the thirteen but without the emotional part.

But you, my dear colonel, you are the worst of them. Your kind is the plague killing the Federation. One by one, the members of your race are becoming smarter and are slowly taking us down – the Creators. So we made a plague – how poetic, don’t you think? A plague killing plague. And we release the plague all over your planet, trying to kill as many of you as possible. And yet you still survived. You even managed to save that girl of yours, and even one stealing rat on the streets. We could not find your brother, so we could – I could personally – kill them both and get rid of your kind. But at least we killed that girl from streets as well as everyone she ever came into contact with. And soon, we will release the stronger version of the plague, we will kill you all.

You have no idea what I have been through to keep this war going. I gave up everything and you will not stop this war. This war is holy!” suddenly his face started to change. As if he was turning into a Wanderer.

“Oh my... you are one of the Changed!” Srura said. I had never seen expression so shocked on her face.

“Changed?” I wondered what does that mean.

“Yes. Creator that had all the signs of our race removed to look like any other race. Mostly spies were transformed like that. But those practices are not used anymore,” she explained carefully studying general’s face.

“You are wrong, doctor, so wrong. There are still many of us who are being turned into Changed.

Oh well, that doesn’t matter now. We are already working on finding your current location. In fact, the program, one of the robots installed, is so kind it is turning your whole ship into transmitter of your location. We almost located you.”

I looked on Lamreak panicking. His pale face turned into white one when he realized the mistake. He should have been working on turning off the program, not turning on the chip.

“Duncke, get us out of here!” I shouted on him.

“It is too late now,” general said with a devilish smile. “Goodbye, nuisance colonel.”

“Duncke!”

A moment later we got hit. The attack was so strong that, for a moment, all energy in the room got turned off. When I opened my eyes, I was laying on ground. I looked around confused. One by one, everyone started to lift themselves off the floor.

“What happened?” I asked confused. There was something running down my temple. I put my fingers there. A shining red blood appeared.

Damn I am getting hurt way too much. This never happened before.

When the lights started to shine again I noticed a bit of blood on one of the consoles next to my chair.

“What happened?!” I repeated my question louder.

Lamreak pushed few buttons on the monitor in front of him: “Seems like we got hit from a strong solar eruption. If we did not have shields on, it would have killed us. I need to check on the damage of the systems. I really hope it did not fry the life support, which is the one thing we cannot afford right now.”

“No, wait,” Ancelmus stopped him and pushed few buttons himself. “The navigation and communication programs are turned off which means the program is not transmitting our position right now.”

“Check the engine and get us out of here!” I ordered.

“Verya, you are bleeding,” Srura noticed my red fingers and came to check on me.

“Not now, later. Is everyone else okay?” I asked around the room. Lamreak and Ancelmus did not even listen to my question.

“The eruption must have wipe most of the wrecks around us we have a clear way,” Duncke said.

Who would have thought a solar eruption can save lives?

“The engine is good. The shields there withstood the worst wave. I think, we are ready to go.”

“Think? Lamreak, I cannot have think now, we may die if we won’t get out of here soon.”

“I cannot check it properly, but the engine is okay, the core is stable and the cooling is still cold. That is more or less everything we need for flying.”

“Duncke, get us out of here,” I must count on that now. “If there will be anything weird going on, turn off everything and land on the nearest planet.”

“I just need to clear the way just a tiny bit more,” he said and turned on the weaponry system. The guns started to shoot on the nearest object until the path was finally clear enough. “What is our destination, thought?” he looked on me when he sat back to his pilot chair.

I needed to think. I needed to go somewhere, where we can be safe from the general and repair the ship.

“Lamreak, if we go to that Spectre satellite will you be able to copy the program sending our location to it and program it, so it will not be sending Spectre signal but ours?”

He started to think for a moment: “if we are close enough, yes I think it would be possible. The satellite should be having enough energy for it.”

“Get us there.” I don’t think Duncke was waiting for those words. He was opening the subspace window even before Lamreak finished talking. “Prepare everything you need to be able to copy the program so we can get out of there as soon as possible. Is there any planet nearby where we can land after, to be able to hide and repair the ship?”

“Not really nearby, but it has all we need for repairing the ship. I think, after we should go back to the planet with those plants. Using the engine, we will be there within two minutes. And it is far enough so they will lose the track of our ship.”

“I don’t like that idea. Do it,” I was hoping they will not look for us there.

“When we were scouting it there one day, we found a place with too high magnetism that our computers were not working. Even robots were showing signs of malfunctioning. It will be very difficult to land there, but it will also be very hard to look for us there,” Ancelmus did not even looked up from keyboard while talking.

“Good idea. Land there.”

“Is infirmary okay? Zorach’s arm is broken, I need to take him there,” Srura interrupted us. I looked in her direction. Zorach was sitting on ground; his arm was twisted in a strange direction. “Verya, you should go with us. You might be having concussion.”

“You can deal with my head later,” I wiped the blood off my face using back of my hand.

“Yes, the route to infirmary as well as the infirmary are okay. You can go there safely, but do not stay there more than necessary. It is not shielded as the bridge is,” Lamreak answered her. She helped Zorach stand up and slowly walked with him.

I clutched my hand into a fist. The general was seriously getting on my nerves.

“Get ready, we will get out of the subspace in ten seconds,” Duncke announced.

“Hide us any way you can. Make sure we are not giving any signal that can tell our position,” he only nodded on my order and pushed few buttons.

We have a good ship, even though damaged as it is, but we would have no chance against an entire Federation fleet. And, yes, I am sure they would send an entire fleet for us.

“Damnit!!!” Lamreak cursed a loud.

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