Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

Life shouldn’t be this easy to take. Flick a switch and listen to the muted swoosh of a section spitting its atmosphere into vacuum. Of course, it’s not so easy for those losing it. The agonies of the dying beat against my mind and reduce me to retching spasms.

Two days ago I returned to the Eden Range to find we had been taken over. I do not know which of the twenty-five thousand colonists was the mule, but the Klansaard Wyrm is difficult to detect when it has wrapped itself around the spine and ossified its redundant body. The colonists would have been unaware of the creeping horde that the single host liberated into the ducts. Thankfully the Klansaard need living hosts, otherwise I’d have to pilot the ship into a sun to ensure the infestation was destroyed.

Hosts are distinguishable by a very upright posture and a marked aversion to retinal scanners. They don’t know about the primary marker. Any psionic in contact with a host will ‘hear’ an ‘echo’ on the thoughts of the host, where the Klansaard is controlling its puppet with so much subtlety that the host is rarely aware until the paralysis sets in.

“Danny! Danny! Don’t do this, we can get you help!”

That’s Captain Amelia Thurrock. She was my lover and encouraged me to get formal training for my mental abilities. It seems so wrong that her encouragement is the thing that means I have to kill her and she will never know why.

As soon as I came onboard, I felt the echoes within all around me. I clambered out of my travel gear but kept my biosheath on, preventing any entry for baby wyrms. Then I made my way to one of the emergency stations that all ships have since the Infestation of Apella a century ago. I have the command codes and after authorising myself and sealing the station, I contacted the Second Fleet cruiser that had brought me here for advice. The conversation that followed was wracked with sobs and crying on both sides, but in the end, there were only going to be deaths. We cannot afford to take chances.

Except for me, who is guaranteed clean but will be quarantined for six months anyway, no-one on the Eden Range can be permitted to live. At least my prompt action has saved the ship from destruction. The thing I will never forgive myself for is having to do this section by section. The death agonies of the whole ship at once would turn me into a vegetable.

Recovered at last, I straighten up and flick the next switch as my tears rain down.


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