Monday, February 15, 2010

Pass the Plot 3: Scene 6

The light on Nara's wristband flashed a frantic tempo and the comm on the wall pinged with Captain Denett's impatient voice. "Ensign, I could really use your expertise outside."

"Kirk," Nara swore, watching the tall drone's body turn a sickly purple--down to the roots of his carbon-copied blonde hair--then dissolve before her eyes. Stooping, she retrieved the chip formerly embedded under the skin of Darrew's forehead then crushed it under the heel of her boot. "Sir, I'm switching to Priority Delta." A physical sweep of encryption descended into the hallway and Nara shivered. The buzz of the private communication channel weaving around her body remained the only thing about space travel capable of setting off her claustrophobia.

"What's wrong, Nara?" Captain Denett spoke casually on the private line, knowing no one else could hear.

"We've already been infiltrated." Her voice came out shaking. The sight of the dead man's fast-decaying body twisted her gut harder than she'd expected. Darrew had no longer been Darrew. He'd been a sleeper agent for the enemy. And judging from the aggressive punch of dark-laced energy trying to hack into the web of energy playing over her skin, he wasn't the only one.

"Daughter-mine, your inability to follow direct orders is exhausting."

Nara sighed and shouldered her laser rifle, heading for the shuttle bay. "You knew." The Garidan hacker pressed harder into the connection and Nara felt her father slide a fourth layer of protection over the conversation.

"I am the captain." He paused and Nara caught a mental image on the line of a smothered bout of frustration before he continued. "I can handle the ones on board, but if I lose an entire boarding party because of you, we'll be discussing your court-martial when you return, where everyone can hear it. Is that understood?"

"But I'm not the one who--" She sucked in a breath to stifle her protest before he gifted her with another stint in the brig for whining. "Yes, Captain." Nara punched the code on the wall console to disconnect and ducked into the zero-G transport instead of the full-sized shuttle. "Solar shorts, Ellie, this was one away mission you shouldn't have screwed with."

Gravity generators weighed too much; for practicality's sake the tiny "zip-ships" could only claim their nickname by omitting everything except life support and a hydrogen-class turbyte engine. A super-charged engine Nara hoped would be fast enough even now to arrive in time to save her crewmates. Her father ought to be court-martialing Ellie. By leaving the Galajax's only xenopsychologist behind, the lieutenant had pretty much guaranteed at least one solar burial in their future. On the other hand, if Nara hadn't found Darrew, she wouldn't be walking into the other ship with her rifle set to kill.

As the pod blasted a path through clouds of green smoke, Nara's palm closed over her nostrils. Not for the first time, she wished the air circulation unit hadn't been forgone in the design. The darn thing smelled like Terran fish heads rotting on a summer beach.

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