Science Fiction

I strangle the table with my white-knuckled grip. Sirens animate, walling their dreadful tune. Screams ring out, echoing through the metal ship walls.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. This is just a standard prison run. Pickup prisoners, secure prisoners, drop off prisoners. But no, now several of the most dangerous humanoids in the system are loose, on MY ship. They didn’t train me for this...well, that’s not what the file says, but...My first major run.

A BOOM rattles the ship. The motion causes me to jerk, my spindly fingers releasing the desk’s edge from their grasp. I tumble to the floor. I barely manage to stifle my scream, one hand clutching my head and the other my mouth, as a sudden splitting headache ravages my mind.

A trickle of warm liquid coats my hands. The pungent scent of copper strikes me like a punch to the gut. I crawl forward on my hands and knees, leaving behind metallic scented handprints of hemocyanin-rich blood in my wake.

Another rumble and a BANG reverberates through the ship. I clutch my stomach, further staining my pristine new captain's uniform blue. I release myself, placing my hands against the floor, I push. My knees knock and the world spins, but I’m on my feet. That’s a start.

I extend my arms, attempting to gain some semblance of balance. I stumble forward. The spinning has slowed but still persists. I take another step, narrowly avoiding collapsing. My legs wobble at the thought of another, but once again I slide a foot forward. One more step and...Just barely…

My finger just barely touches the screen before another rumble shakes the ship. I fall, seeming to plummet thousands of mensura, but in reality is only a few base units, before catching the wall with quivering hands. I place a palm against the panel.

“This is….Captain Keivono,” I wheeze. “Seal...the entrances...to the prisoner holding...chambers...and the...surrounding...corridors...”. Words pop up on the screen.

In order to enact lockdown procedure, enter security key.

The world begins to pick up pace, my surroundings becoming a blur.

I scarcely manage to select the last digit before my legs give way beneath me.

Activation successful.

I lay sprawled out on my back, staring at the hovering words. Each of the vibrant blue letters appears to blur into the next.


A blurry mass appears floating above the panel.

“Activate vocal response setting”.

“Vocal response activated”.

The edges of my vision become blurred, followed by darkness. The warm, forgiving embrace of darkness. I contemplate giving in, letting it consume me as I drift off peacefully, but what if I never wake?

That thought alone sends a shiver deep within my bones.

I don’t want to die.

My eyelids flutter.

I groan, kicking my feet, pushing away from the door. I force my eyelids open, revealing the dark brown irises they hide. The light burns. I blink rapidly as my eyes adjust. When my vision finally clears, I can see the mess that was once my office.

‘My’ certificates have plummeted from their places on the walls. Loose papers, once a brilliant white, have now been painted blue by my blood, littering the floor like sanguinary leaves cast from Lignum Mortis itself.

The ship rattles again. I grunt, clenching my jaw.

“System, activate hallo screens”.

Before me appears three blue-lit screens, all of which are blank.

“Bring up a damage map,” I say, waving to the screen on my left. The screen is taken over by different angled images of the ship. Several sections flash and glow red.


“Who and how many prisoners escaped?” I command to know. The central screen lights up with files and data of different sorts.

Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen...I count, scrolling as picture after picture of hardened criminals fly by my fingertips.

“We're dead,” I murmur, reading the info. Murderers of the Staunten variety and assassins of Astudinen blood. This is it for me.

“Displaying life signs”.

The third screen fills with glowing figures, my crew and enemy alike.

“Do you command termination? If so, enter the total destruction key. Escape pods are loca-”

“NO, I mean, bring up the pods, but don’t blow up the ship”. The panel lights up.

I could escape, in a pod. I’d have to start over, but I wouldn’t be dead. I tap on the screen, trying to find an optimal route.

“System, bring up the shortest path to a functioning escape pod”. A yellow line traces a route.


“There are not enough pods for all passengers. Do you wish for me to alert all crew of an evacuation?”

“No”. I stand up, wobbling as I do. “For a matter of fact, I command you not to tell anyone of my departure”. I move, a bit unsteadily, towards my desk. My IDs, I just need an ID, a couple of nutrients injections, and a story. I can come up with a story on the way. I trifle through my desk.

Yes, there they are.

The ship jerks. I stumble, tripping, my chin slamming into the corner of the desk.


“Prisoners have taken over the engine room. Your crew is attempting to flush them out”.

I shake my head. It doesn’t matter, I’ll be long gone before anything comes of it.

“Alert, take caution. Lifeforms heading in this direction”.

Before I can react, a powerful THUD shakes the door. It trembles with repeated impacts. An indentation nearly the size of my head forms at central mass.

I unsheath my knock six, clumsily aiming at the door.

Suddenly there is a loud screech followed by a final creek before the door gives way tossed aside by the massive man who beat it from its frame. He dwarfs the goat-like teen by his side.

I don’t think, I shoot.

I squeeze the trigger repeatedly, but nothing happens.

The giant man is on top of me in a few bounds. One meaty hand twists the gun from my hand, crushing it like a twig. The other lifts me in the air like a twig.

I’m choking. I’M CHOKING!

I flail, my legs kicking, hearts racing, and arms hitting then grasping at his. Steely, hate-filled eyes glare at me. I’m losing breath and the darkness threatens to take over once more. I can’t struggle anymore, can’t even beg, just hang limply under his gaze. Then the gray beast speaks.

“You’re fairly pathetic for such a renowned pilot,” he scans me over, cocking an eyebrow.

“I could have sworn they said their captain was Myosian,” he says, his grip on my neck loosening. “And definitely not a child”. I gape then turn trying to blink away my widened eyes.

“Wha-I’m no-I-wha-” I start

“Shift back kid”.


“Shift back,” he says, releasing me. I drop to my hands and knees. I could run, but he would catch me. I could fight back, but we both know how that would turn out.

I shift, my features morphing. The blunt and hardened face of Captain Keivono distorts its features, becoming sharper, narrower, and about a decade younger. The color seems to be leached away. The skin, once a deep tan is now nearly void of any color and the eyes become a dull, glassy, blue hue.

Captain Keivono is gone. He has been gone for several months. His death was sudden and unnoticed. Surely, at some point they would have noticed had it not been for the hidden child, taking his place.

“A Vasilltal. An honest to Ithna Vasilltal!” the goat boy exclaims, bouncing on his hooves. “We have to take him with us”.

“I am NO ONE'S property,” I grit out, not quite steady on my feet.

Goat boy tilts his head, a few fluffy tufts of black fur sticking up as he does. His deep brown eyes linger on me before sharing a glance with his hulking gray companion.

“You,” he says, pushing his glasses up on his nose. “Would fit in perfectly. My name’s Kyle, by the way” he says, extending a hand. “What’s yours?” I hesitate but accept the offered hand.


“Well, Liraz,” The gray man says. “How would you like to join us?”

“In taking over an imperial ship?”

“You seem to have already done that much”.

I look around my destroyed office and back down at my natural hands. I’m not sure I can shift back, and if anyone says anything, if they find out…

I watch the goat boy, taping at a wrist device. I look at the gray man, while still huge, no longer seeming threatening, any semblance of the hatred he had displayed earlier now gone as he watches the goat boy fondly. They don’t seem like murderers and considering my options…

“I’m in”.

August 31, 2021 21:44

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