Author : Roger Dale Trexler

I knew she was dead when I saw the blood. It floated by me and splattered silently on the console. Everyone else—Yanders, Diorino, and Rector—was dead, too. They were floating at the far side of the cabin, congregated strangely like a bunch of line dancers doing the Conga.

Zero gravity took over when main controls failed. It was a slow process, and they were dead before the gravity failed, so there was no pain for them….just me. I hit the ceiling with the force of a bullet, the Kyllian plasma charge had rocked the ship. I was knocked unconscious; I do not know for how long.

But I awoke to the touch of Kipling’s body hitting me as it passed by. I must have nudged her a little bit while waking, otherwise she wouldn’t have hit the console; she would have hit the other bodies like a linebacker trying to break a defensive line. A stream of blood flowed from her like a crimson vapor trail as she collided with the console, then sprayed blood everywhere.

The view screen was still on. I saw the Kyllian ship, massive and undamaged, looming over us.

Why? I thought.

The answer was too clear, however. Just weeks ago, a survey ship had been destroyed in this quadrant. A rescue ship was sent to investigate, but they found nothing but wreckage and a buoy telling them to stay away. We heeded that warning, but the Kyllians were laying claim to sectors of space quicker than a drunken sailor spends money at a bar.

Our scanners told us of the approaching ship, and we tried to elude them.

They found us before we could escape.

It wasn’t much of a battle. We were a survey ship, not a battlecruiser. The Kyllians opened fire and, now, everyone but me was dead.

I heard the airlock claxon going off.

We were being boarded.

I panicked. I was a stellar cartographer. I mapped stars. I hadn’t signed up for this. We were supposed to be out for a month from Starbase 3, mapping an uncharted region of space.

I could hear the sound of magnetic boots clanking, then pulling free, from the catwalks.

They were getting closer.

There were several of them.

I knew where the weapons were, but there was no chance I could kill them all. I wasn’t a fighter.

So, I did the only thing I could….and I waited.


Four Kyllian soldiers entered the control room. I chanced a glance before I closed my eyes. They were huge. Bigger than men. They ambled into the room awkwardly. I could tell that they were looking around, touching things, taking artifacts. Then, I felt motion. Something was pulling us toward it. I cracked my eyes opened just a hair—just enough to see—and I saw the Kyllian’s ugly face regarding us. It was looking at Diorino. It was cutting away a portion of her jumpsuit, revealing her breasts. Maybe it had never seen a human female? It started to turn its head toward me, and I closed my eyes again….but not too tight.

For a long, long moment, nothing happened. Then, it pushed away the clump of dead bodies I had become a part off and walked off.

The Kyllians stayed a few more minutes, then they moved off to another part of the ship.

I did not move or open my eyes for a long, long time.

When I did, it was to the sound of the airlock closing.
The Kyllians were leaving.

I waited a while longer, then detached myself from the bodies. I had intertwined my arms in theirs, effectively meshing us together.

The bodies floated away.

I pushed off and looked at the view screen. The Kyllian ship was receding in the distance.

I watched them leave.

I looked at the bodies.

I cried.

And, when I knew the Kyllians were out of range, I activated the distress signal…and waited.

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