Commander Skada sat tapping his fingers on the arm of his command chair intently watching the view screen as reports came in about the Silga.
They were close!
Puritan officers darted from one station to another as news came in that the enemy race would be nearing the system imminently.
"Communications officer Telco, has the Tomleek left dock yet?"
"Last report was that they had my Lord, would you like me to hail them again?"
"No, but please give me an update on the fleet."
"Yes my Lord, one moment please."
Relshek was making his way to Adam and Castro's quarters having heard the whispers on the ship and was eager to begin Adam's procedure as soon as possible. As he stepped out of the Elevator on to deck 17 a group of Puritans rushed past him wearing full battle clothing complete with weapons holstered to their belts. Relshek was almost knocked over as they all clambered into the waiting lift.
He made his way down a long lonely corridor as the familiar blue strips of light started flashing along the walls indicating an alert. As he started to veer round a gentle bend he stopped outside a door numbered 312 and buzzed on the intercom.
"Come in," Castro called from behind it. The door opened and Relshek walked in.
"Hello Castro, how are you… where is Adam?"
"I'm fine thank you Lord Relshek. Oh, Adam is in the sonic shower he should be finished shortly."
"Lord Relshek, why are the walls flashing blue?"
"It is an alert Castro, the Silga are approaching."
"Are we to perish?"
"The odds are against us my son, but you need to stay strong for Adam, humans are more sensitive to death than we are."
"I will be strong My Lord, with all my heart."
Moments later Adam walked out dressed in a white jump suite, his hair damp and limp which he proceeded to push back with his fingers before greeting Relshek.
"Thought I'd better be clean before you and your clowns start poking about with my naked body."
"Come Adam, we must get going," Relshek replied seriously, causing Adam's smile to fade from his comment.
"Is everything ok?"
"Yes Adam, but there are reports that the Silga are approaching the system and so I wish to start the procedure as soon as possible, are you ready?"
"No, but then I don't think I ever will be so lead the way… Baby are you coming?"
"You go with Lord Relshek Adam," Castro replied. "I will follow shortly once I have cleaned and dressed myself."
"Ok, just don't be long."
"Navigator, bring us out a little from the planet and put us into battle mode one*, but leave the weapons offline, I don't want to use unnecessary power."
"Yes Sir, raising defector panels and auto plates."
"Communications, contact Space Operations and inform them we are fully prepared and await further instructions."
"Yes my Lord," Telco responded.
"SIR! Five ships approaching on the long range radar… no six, bearing 123 degadons." The puritan at the tactical station shouted.
"Navigator, bring us about to sit parallel with those coordinates… Tactical, bring the weapons online. I want to know when-"
"SIR! I am now reading seventeen ships," the officer shouted again causing Skada to rush back to his chair."
"Full weapons to bear! Telco, are the fleet in position?"
"Just one more ship Sir and we are in formation."
"Good… Tactical, time to intercept?"
"Twelve keshtons Sir… no eleven," he corrected, sounding nervous.
"Balsan, calm yourself son, and focus."
"Yes Commander, sorry Commander."
"Navigator, key in evasive patterns four B, five D and six F and put them on standby."
"Yes Commander, right away."
Skada pressed a button on the arm of his chair. "Crew, this is Commander Skada, all hands, battle stations. Secure your positions and close all fire doors this is going to be a rough ride, Skada out!"
"Must be serious "Adam remarked after hearing Commander Skada's message broadcast all over the ship. "Should we be doing this now?"
"Yes Adam, we need to so that we can get the gene solution back down to the planet as soon as possible."
Adam looked at Christian curiously for a moment. "You don't think we are going to make it do you?"
Relshek stopped what he was doing and froze. "Why would you say that?"
"Because this battle could be over soon and then we could proceed, but the fact you are still insistent on doing it right in the MIDDLE of a battle says that you-"
"Says that I need to put the needs of the planet before the needs of this ship, me and even you Adam, yes, I admit it!" Relshek interrupted, his voice stern. "If we can complete the procedure and get the gene solution off this ship while it is still in one piece then that's what I need to do!"
It was a stark revelation Adam felt. He had never heard Relshek seem so authoritative and worried like this before and it worried him. It was also out of character to admit for the first time that Adam wasn't the number one priority here and that it was the planet instead. He didn't argue though, how could he? Adam knew the reason why he had been brought here, the reason why all this effort had been undertaken to keep him safe. The good life on Purity was all well and good but there had always been an end game for the Puritans, always the day when Adam would have to complete what he had actually been brought here for.
Adam hopped up onto a flatbed like structure while Relshek keyed in commands on a computer at a furious pace. Moments later 6 more Puritans walked into the medical bay wearing what looked to be the familiar white scientist or doctor suits Adam saw.
Without being commanded to do anything Adam watched as they went in all different directions and started to connect up different mechanical parts into 2 different looking machines. One of them he noticed pulled out various glass instruments and rubber looking tubes.
"Commander, two of the ships are flanking our portside and powering weapons, shall we fire?" Navigator Brento asked, looking back at the Commander, now strapped in his seat.
"No, not yet, we don't want to be accused as the aggressor here, let's see what they do and then I'll make a judgement."
"Sir, the Tomleek has begun taking hits, shall we assist her?" Tactical officer Telco asked.
Commander Skada sighed. "Fire off a warning volley but no direct hits."
"Commander, we MUST defend our fellow Puritans, we cannot just sit here and-"
"Son, are you questioning my orders?"
"No Sir of course not, I just think we should…" The Navigator decided to stop talking knowing he was on a thin line if he continued.
On the view screen the number of enemy ships was now building however there didn't seem to be a lot of weapons being fired. It was Skada's hunch that maybe the Silga were trying to call the Puritans bluff and make them out to be the aggressor to gain support from other planets. It was that hunch that was holding him back from firing.
"Communications, damage report on the fleet?"
"Reports coming in Sir but nothing serious, just minor damage to five of our ships."
"What are they up to?" Skada mumbled to himself before getting up and walking over to the view screen. "Give me multiple views on port, aft and bow, let's see what's going on."
The view screen was suddenly split into 3 sections giving all those on the bridge a view of the unfolding, but rather mild battle. Skada folded his arms and waited. Something felt wrong to him but he didn't know what or why it did. He knew it had taken the Silga a huge amount of resource to get all their ships here and he wondered what their plan was if Purity refused to start a war.
"Commander Skada, The fleet, including us are being hailed by the lead enemy vessel." Stated communications officer Brento. Skada walked back to his chair and sat down.
"Shall we hear what they have to say? Put it on audio."
There was a brief crackle before a loud and screeching voice started to talk. "Puritan fleet, your planet is in possession of an earth child. Release him to us or face the destruction of your space vessels. You have ten of your keshtons to comply!"
The message ended with a crackle and Skada could see all the enemy ships had now got into a diamond formation and were stationary out beyond planet Purity.
"Commander, I have weapons locked on to six of the vessels, our targeting systems will not allow any further ships to be marked."
"Stand by Telco… Communications, send a message to Space operations and ask them for further instructions, and who is leading this fleet, ask them that too. We need orders!"
On Purity Grand Master Telstrek was deep in conversation with two of his advisors after being informed Adam could not be located.
"This has got to be a dream, I want him found," Telstrek barked, banging his staff on the marble floor.
"There is more Grand Master, we have been informed that if we do not hand over the boy to them in ten keshtons they threaten to destroy our fleet," one of the advisors stated, before bowing. Telstrek got up and slowly paced the circular hall they were standing in.
"Where is Lord Relshek, get me Lord Relshek."
"Master, Lord Relshek is not on the planet, he was rumoured to be aboard the Selsha."
"For what purpose?!" Telstrek bellowed, his mood now sounding unstable.
"It was reported by Lord Kelshen that he was conducting an experiment to do with sand based plantations."
"Contact space operations and ask them to send a message to Lord Relshek. I want to know where that earth boy is and I want to know now. And hurry we do not have much time!"
"Yes your excellency."
"Please lie back Adam, my assistant is going to give you a powerful sedative that will render your mind unconscious and put you into a deep sleep. The operation is predicted to take about three of your hours."
Adam started to breathe heavily. "But… but what if the ship gets hit and something happens."
"Adam, while the operation is being conducted you will be encased in a reinforced glass incubator. Should any damage happen to the room we are in you will be protected, but trust me, I have a feeling we are going to get through this, now lay back and close your eyes."
Adam did as he was told and lay back on the bed after being hunched up on his elbows. He was now naked apart from a small white cloth covering his modesty. The room felt warm and comfortable and as he closed his eyes he decided to think happy thoughts about the life he wanted to have with Castro when this was all over. A few seconds later he felt a cold pressure being applied to his neck and then blackness seeped into his mind.
"Lord Relshek, I can confirm the earth child is now under and his life signs are normal."
"His name is Adam, and thank you!" Relshek responded, slightly irritated. "Please set the extractor to phase one and inform me when this is complete."
"Yes my Lord," replied the assistant"
It was approaching 10 hestons and there had been no firm instructions from Space operations on what Skada's ship or the rest of the fleet should do. Skada was well aware he was holding Adam and was wrestling with his conscience as it was being reported that the High Council were franticly trying to find Adam on the planet in order to give him over to the Silga.
Relshek appeared on the bridge and signalled to Skada he wanted a word in private. Skada, desperate not to leave the bridge in the current situation rushed over to him and pushed him quickly into an annex room and locked the door.
"What the hell is going on, has the operation started?" Skada hissed.
"Yes it has, I am sorry I have not kept you informed, I didn't want to create any suspicion with the crew."
"Justified admittedly but I have Space Operations in chaos down there because the High Council are unable to decide what the next move should be."
"This is another reason Telstrek needs to be removed Lord Skada. Master Telstrek told me that even if he was going to hand over Adam to the Silga he said it would be after the gene extraction operation had been completed, and now look, he just wants to bypass that objective and hand over the boy with no cure for the planet and I know why."
"Because the Silga are on our doorstep now, and if we hand him over it will send them away for a while. A while that I am sure will be long enough until Telstrek dies."
"Well what difference would that make?"
"Oh don't be so naive Lord Skada, Grand Master Telstrek is not interested in curing the planet of this horrible affliction! All he is interested in is his legacy. He wants to be able to say that under his ruling there was never an all out war with any other species and that he led a peaceful and prosperous term on Purity. The rest of it he is happy to let his successor clear up."
"Hmm, I never even thought of it like that."
"Why else would he be willing to just hand over Adam now… before the operation? He just wants to buy our planet some time."
"Exactly, so you understand?"
"Sadly I do now yes."
Before anything else could be said there was a thunderous crash that filled the room together with a jolt that almost shook Skada and Relshek to the floor.
"We're under attack, GO!"
"I'll get back to Adam, please keep us all safe Lord Skada."
"I will try," Skada replied as another bang rang out followed by a tremor. Relshek rushed back onto the bridge and up the slope towards the elevator. Skada meanwhile walked towards his chair and was thrown into it and yet another assault was being made on his ship.
"Damage report… bring us about and return fire. Looks like we have our orders," Skada said, looking at the view screen and seeing the other purity ships engaging the Silga.
"Firing a volly of Uranium shells Sir."
"Charge all plasma rails and target as many of these parasites as you can… fire at will."
The Selsha rocked and jolted as it was assaulted by five ships in a concentrated attack that seemed to be in retaliation for the returned fire on theirs. Skada's ship began to charge a huge white beam on all 3 of its plasma weapon rails before unleashing them all onto one ship and blowing it to pieces. There was a cheer on the bridge as the ship's external cameras focused on the explosion.
"One down, Line up the next one Telco."
"With pleasure commander."
The communications officer shouted over the noise that four crew members had been killed in a targeted blast that had damaged one of the cargo bays. There was also a minor hull breach that engineers were working to fix but Skada seemed relieved as he nodded his understanding.
"Sir the portside shield is down to twenty per cent shall I compensate?"
"Navigator, get us on the other side of this attack… Telco, fire another volley, keep up the intensity… OHHHHH!" he screamed as a Puritan ship exploded a short distance away taking one of the enemy ships with it and sending large hunks of burning hull slamming into his own ship. There was a fizz of sparks before the navigator's station seem to explode from some kind of power surge melting the officer's mask and sending him flying backwards and landing almost at Skada's feet.
"GET A MEDICAL OFFICER DOWN HERE!" Skada shouted over the deafening noise of alarms, weapons fire and frantic voices. He got out of his seat and heaved the navigator onto his back seeing bits of mask had burned onto his face as the officer screamed in agony.
The Selsha was now taking multiple hits from all angles as Skada tried desperately to stem the damage by firing back. He looked on as the Tomleek was under extreme assault from no less than 9 enemy ships. With some of the Puritans smaller ships trying to pick them off in vain.
"WE HAVE LOST EIGHT SHIPS SIR, AND FOUR SERVERELY DAMAGED. OUR PORT SHIELD DEFLECTOR IS FAILING AND WE HAVE TWENTY SIX DEAD AND FORTY EIGHT WOUNDED" The communications officer shouted.
"engage all evasive manoeuvres pre-set and fire everything we have! What is the situation with the enemy?"
"fourteen ships destroyed and six damaged Sir out of twenty four."
"It's going to be close," Skada quietly muttered to himself as another blast ripped through the ship. Skada looked back behind him in what felt like slow motion as the entire rear of the bridge was blown away killing several officers in the process. The brief loos off pressure sucked another 3 officers into space before the breach was closed by an electromagnetic sheet.
The pressure was now getting to the Commander who just sat back in his chair for a moment and buried his head in his hands.
"Commander, the port shield deflector has now failed and we have lost one of the plasma rails, should we abandon ship?"
Skada lifted his head up almost dazed and stared out at the view screen witnessing the carnage before him.
"Sir! I said should we abandon ship?" Telco repeated.
"What? What for?" Skada responded, dreamily.
"Commander, the situation is hopeless we hardly have any shield deflectors. A few more big hits and they will be firing directly onto our hull, we will be blown up."
Skada got to his feet, now seething. "We will never surrender, DO YOU HEAR ME, NOT TO THESE VERMIN! Keep firing with what we have left. Communications, can you hail the Tomleek, see if they can offer us some cover."
"That may not be necessary sir, report just in, we have destroyed eighty five percent of their fleet. Sir… we are winning!"
With this revelation Skada seemed to find a new determination and marched towards the tactical station and stood before Telco before slapping his hands down on the young officers shoulders.
"Keep your spirit son, we are Puritans, and that means something from where I come from!"
The end of Skada's statement to Telco was completed with a searing bright light both of them just had time to see before a huge explosion was heard.
"Did you hear that?" one of Relshek's assistants worriedly shouted as the ship was thrown into another jolt.
Relshek walked back over to Adam wading through a debris ridden floor. He had blood coming from his ear and he travelled with a limp. In the corner of the room against the wall were four Puritans who had been instantly killed when an explosion had ripped through a bulkhead adjoining their medical bay. Relshek seemed to be in a trance, methodically adjusting the now damaged machinery working on Adam while every now and again squeezing his hands together as if to relieve the stress he was feeling.
Just then an alarm sounded on Adam's life sign monitor and Relshek wondered what it was. Was it damaged? It was true Adam had been violently thrown around during the operation but there did not appear to be anything obvious. The alarm though seemed to go up a pitch as Relshek and his one remaining assistant tried to see what was causing it. The process was being made harder as the screen was cracked and splintered all over so they were not able to take any readings.
"Should we try and bring him around… should we terminate the procedure."
"Let me think!" Relshek snapped in an uncharacteristic manner.
The machine alarm then got faster, its pitch yet higher just as another explosion rocked the Selsha and a large shard of metal flew across the room and speared Relshek in the side causing blood to quickly turn the whole garment he was wearing dark red on the left side.
"My Lord, you… you are badly injured."
Relshek just looked up at him slowly before returning his gaze back to the jagged metal object protruding from his ribcage. He then surprisingly went back to try and assist Adam who was now starting to convulse in his glass enclosure.
"Lord Relshek, we… we are losing him!"
"I know," Relshek replied quietly amidst the chaos around them. Moments later Adam's body fell still onto the bed and the machine's tone changed to one continuous beeeeeep. Upon hearing this, Relshek, through loss of blood and undeniable defeat fell to his knees. His assistant not knowing what to do ran for the door possibly in a bid to find help, or maybe just through fear alone.
Relshek feeling weaker by the second twisted himself around and fell into a sitting position up against Adam's glass incubator. As the light faded from his eyes he surveyed the damage around. Flickering lights, sparking hanging wires and chunks of metal and glass debris sat all around him. His head began to grow heavy and suddenly a feeling of intense loneliness washed over him for the first time in his life. All as the room began to lose its sound and colour. He lucidly thought about all his work, his life, his research on Adam, the friendship that had developed and finally the present. The present that felt like the end, and in his head, very subtly, he was sure he could hear the mighty Battleship Selsha weeping from her own wounds, until finally all that remained, was darkness.
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