Tales from Omega Station: Betrayal

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by Morgyn Chadwick

Tales from Omega Station: Betrayal

  By J. Kirsch

  Copyright 2014 J. Kirsch


  Esric Kol stood in the airlock, waiting. His rugged face showed no emotion, save maybe boredom. It's as good a day to die as any, he thought. He stared through the viewing bay of the ship's airlock tube, waiting to be pulled into the vacuum of space.

  A voice crackled through the com system of the Valinorsa.

  "By order of the Consolidated Guard, you have been found guilty of possession of hazardous ordnance in violation of Omega Station directives. The penalty for this is death. Does the convicted have any final words before his sentence is carried out?"

  The wiry yet muscular bounty hunter didn't look like much in his gray jacket and torn pants. He liked looking ordinary. The more plain I look, the more people underestimate me, he thought with an inward smile. He nodded, his hands folded behind his back as he swiveled to stare at the Consolidated Guard official behind the lock's transparent barrier. The man had a hard, angular face with restless eyes, and his jaw suffered from an agitated tic. Esric almost felt sorry for what was about to happen to him.

  "I find it interesting that you've chosen to condemn me based on weapons that are not my own, weapons that were planted in my quarters by someone else on this ship." He paused, his lips turning upward into a ghostly smile. He turned his attention to a strikingly beautiful woman, her dusky skin nicely contrasted against her vivid, emerald-green eyes.

  "Xerana, you agreed to provide me transport to Omega Station, and I paid you accordingly. Over the course of the long voyage somehow our simple passenger-Captain relationship became something else. I shared your bed. I began to think of you as more than just the Captain, and you led me to believe that this feeling was mutual. But no one knew about my huge payoff for coming here except for you, and so there's only one way that I can make sense of this: You would prefer to reap the bounty I'm after for yourself, and you don't mind sacrificing a little of your illicit smuggling cargo if it means eliminating the competition. Have I hit close to the mark? Did you play me?"

  Captain Xerana maintained a carefully neutral expression, but her eyes gave her away.

  "Enough babbling," the Consolidated Guard official rasped. "Prepare to meet your fate."

  "No, my good friend. You see, I know what breed of official you are, and I've seen your kind often enough. You're more interested in meeting your quotas for capturing and executing 'criminals' than actually investigating crime. So believe me when I say this. You've earned your fate."

  The Consolidated Guard official and the boarding party of marines with him all watched with a sort of mild fascination, at first. Esric drew out what looked like a small stone from the folds of his clothing and tossed it hard against the barrier. With a SMACK it struck the barrier, but before it could glance off, it seemed to dissolve instead. An intense heat melted a hole through the center of the barrier just as the official and the marines seemed to realize the seriousness of the threat.

  The once ordinary-looking stone had become amorphous, a gaseous substance that wafted into the interior of the airlock's viewing bay. Before the official or his marines could even react, they were choking and clawing at their own throats. A few wild thrashings later they had become still, along with a good number of ship's crew who had been present to watch the execution with their Captain.

  Xerana had reacted more quickly than the rest, fleeing the viewing bay and frantically trying to pull herself into a spacesuit. But the amorphous gaseous thing which had disabled everyone in the viewing bay seemed to flow with definite purpose, herding the woman from one spacesuit to the next before she could put it on. The thing, whatever it was, was capable of finer tasks, and with a puff of exerted air it punched the access key to the airlock, freeing Esric.

  Xerana was still frantically grappling with another spacesuit when Esric hurtled into her. The captain turned to meet Esric's attack, sending a wild kick at Esric's groin. Grinning, the bounty hunter sidestepped it and punched Xerana hard in the face. She went down, her jaw numb as Esric straddled her, pinning her by the arms and pressing a shiv to her throat. Xerana's eyes widened as much from the knife as from the constantly shifting dervish of gaseous energy which towered behind her assailant.

  "Please don't kill me!" she gasped. Esric could see total panic taking over Xerana's mind. She'd gone from scheming captain to begging supplicant, a primal animal with no desire but to survive.

  Esric put a surprisingly gentle hand to the soon-to-be-badly-bruised cheek along the left side of her face. "SHHH. I have no desire to kill you, Xerana, but if you don't do exactly what I say, I may have to. I don't have much time to explain, and I doubt the Consolidated Guard patrol ship out there will be content to sit idle for long after losing contact with its leader. You've put us all in this mess by betraying me, Xerana, and now it's yours to fix. Tell your crew to jump the ship somewhere secluded nearby, where exactly doesn't matter."

  "But…" she began.

  He stopped her. "I have to sort this out, but not here and now. That Consolidated Guard ship is going to start squawking distress signals the moment it thinks you've disabled its boarding party, and for all I know it might shoot first and ask questions later."

  Xerana whispered her cooperation as Esric stood up and took a large step back. The gaseous form behind now swirled playfully about Esric's feet.

  "Wh-what is that thing?" Xerana asked with a shudder.

  Esric gave her a grim smile. "It's not of this world or any other I've ever known." He nodded at the swirling currents around his ankles. "Xerana, I'd like you to meet Hur'esha." Xerana gaped at the gaseous alien as it shifted, its tendrils sliding up Xerana's arms and encircling her neck, its density making her feel as if she was neck-deep in water.

  "I'm afraid she's not too fond of you after what you've done." Esric smiled at the terror in Xerana's eyes. "Now MOVE."


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