What do I do now?  What have I done? They were only delivering supplies.   Why did they do that?  For days the madness had been creeping through the station.  These aliens with their soft pink forms, so susceptible to sickness. I was hoping to try to understand their people.   Though I fear that may never happen now.  Almost like children so excitable, so headstrong. I guess that can be expected with their lifetimes only a little more that one of their centuries. Not patient like Rock Kin.  We observe, we study, and then we act.

We brought aboard the capsule because they said it may have been an artifact from their old Earth.  Perhaps they should have left their past behind them. When the scientist studying the capsule started having strange hallucinations, and then started turning violent the other tried to help.  They may all look the same to me but he was not well.  Soon after he became violent the other tried to restrain him to analyze what had happened but it was too late for them, the sickness slowly crept through the station, relentless.  One of my better friends Marcus was one of the last to change.   “I’m not sure what is happening Elizabeth.”  He said. They had given me this name the proper pronunciation of my name would have ground down their teeth too quickly and even then they would not be able to get the vibrations right.    “They will have to come and get me and I’ll be waiting.” He clutched a surveyor’s pick in his hands.  I had never seen him like this but I could see he did not have long.  He was a good human.  I gave him a last embrace and saved him from himself.

The Mismar jumped into the system weeks after Marcus’s core had stilled.   There were only a handful of the crew left but they had armed themselves from the small weapon locker and unfortunately turned their attention to me. My people are strong and tough we can withstand far harsher environs than the humans but even I cannot last forever my body chips and cracks a bit more with each attack.  The ship said they were here to deliver supplies.  I called them on the comm, “Do not approach the station. The crew is violent and needs to be quarantined.”  They should have listened.  “We are here to deliver supplies and we can render assistance. We are The Federation Vessel Mismar.  We will approach your port docking bay and assist.”  Their Captain seemed young, not a child mind you but not too old, perhaps only half a century.  Perhaps he would listen face to face and perhaps they could help me escape.  I ran as fast as I could but, unfortunately, my people while strong and difficult to destroy are not fast.  The humans were converging on the port docking collar as soon as the Mismar made its first connection.  I knew I had little time as the door opened I could see the Mismar crew in the doorway.  Three only three of them: an older male with a hard but compassionate look on his face, a female carrying a medical kit though she did not know there was no hope, another male who was young having only just reaching maturity possibly a quarter century though I am not a good judge of these things.  I cried out as my bulk stomped through the corridor, “They are right behind me!” As I passed through the airlock door I could see the older male’s eyes fill with a terrible understanding as the mass of footsteps came thundering down the corridor.  “Back to your stations! Max, fire up the FTL we cannot help them. Ashlee man the airlock. Make sure they don’t get in. Here take this and let’s get out of here.” He said forcing a pulse piston into my hands and sprinted back to the bridge.

We backed out of the airlock but it was too late, before we could shut the doors many of the stations crew had made past the airlock and had braced the doors open. The captain ripped the docking collar off the station as he forced the ship to pull away and I could see our old doctor and station commander float away into the dark cold to become their own asteroids slowly orbiting this system for all eternity. The remaining crew had shut the pressure door before any more were pulled into the blackness. I was trapped in here with the one the captain had called Ashlee and five bloodthirsty killers.  They opened fire almost immediately striking her in the shoulder and abdomen though she returned fire as she was falling to the ground.  I hope she was not the only medic.  I tried to shield her with my body the pulse bolts hissing and crackling as they slammed into my stony skin. The younger one came through the door with a pulse rifle in his hand.  The killers fired and soon he was slumped on the floor his body a smoking heap where they cut him down.  The cry that came from Ashlee was only the cry of a parent that had lost her child, they were not just a crew, these three, they were a family.  She shoved me aside and fired, striking two of her son’s killers in their faces.  I raised my weapon and clumsily fired the pulse gun was too small for my hands so I used the ancient weapons of my people and crush one of their skulls in with a blow from my heavy fists.  I looked back as they began firing again and she was no more. The shots cracked one of my shoulder plates.  They must have increased their weapon strength. I stepped through the closest door and punching the controls a couple times rewarded me with the telltale hissing and smoke that told me the door controls were shorted out. It should slow them down.

When I made it to the bridge the captain was yelling into his comm. “Max, Max what is going on in the engine room.”  ”Your Max is dead, his core is still.”  I told him though I wish I had better words for it.  “The female as well.  There are two left I stopped them from coming this way.”   I could see the sadness wash over him. His clan was gone; his mate and his child.  It was gone as quickly as it came, and I could tell that he had seen death before and knew now is not the time to mourn.  “They must be trying to disable the engines or take over the ship.”  He said while bringing up a display of the ships systems.  “Quickly follow me,” he said pulling a pulse rifle from the locker near the bridge.  We found one in the mess area gorging himself on the rations and foodstuffs in the storage lockers.  The captain gunned him down without a sound or even a second look as he keyed the door towards the engine room.  When he got to the engine room the last killer was randomly shooting at the engine control stations and even the engine.  He must have been insane as breaching the engine core would destroy this ship and not even leave any salvage to bother with. “I’m glad our engines have the extra shielding. I told Max it was worth it even if it did affect their output 5%.”  He said softly as he pulled a datapad out of his pocket.   I looked over his shoulder as he keyed the override sequence for the outer doors and the engine room doors. The madman turned as he possibly had a moment of clarity and clawed at the door controls trying to stop the air from draining from the room.

Once the engine room was pressurized again we entered and surveyed the damage.  The captain slid under the console and began pulling chips and circuits.  “He definitely made a mess of this but we need to get back underway.  Get me a pressure control board from locker 4C and a network switching cable from locker 1D.” I looked around the engine room and quickly identified the locker he spoke of and provided him with the parts.  Quickly finishing the repairs the Captain finally turned to me “At least the FTL main controls and Navigation computers were not damaged.”  I helped him pick up the bodies of the killers and place them in the rear airlock and attach pieces of scrap and debris to them. With a whoosh the bodies were flung out of the airlock and drifting with the trash.  “Somebody will find them and recycle them. There are nice trace elements in those bodies,” Said the Capitan. “Though I’d rather give them a nice long drift for what they have done.”  Next we placed the bodies of his family carefully in the airlock and opening it.  This time the captain powered the weapons and fired,atomizing the remains of his clan. “They are at rest they will not get used like some random piece of debris.” he explained.  “My name is Neil, I am the captain of the Mismar. So what do they call you?” once we reached the bridge and began powering up to jump.  “Elizabeth” I replied.  ”That sounds strangely human name for a Creagach. I bet your name is,” and he ground his teeth together with nearly a tremor of worthy vibrations.

We made a few more jumps heading for the next sector as he explained his mission.  He had to deliver crucial information to the federation leadership.  The rebels were going to make a final assault on the capital systems,   if they were to succeed it would be anarchy and billions would die in the ensuing civil war.  He had to make it but every jump brought new dangers; Rebel scout drones, pirates, and even other hostile races. Fighting and running we slowly made progress towards capital space.   Luckily one Creagach captain had let us pass though it did cost us two missiles and 1 fuel pack.  We picked up a distress signal and decide to head towards it to see if we could assist.  This poor fool with a good heart did he not learn?  I wish I had been wrong.  Despite my protestation he followed the distress beacon to a jump point only to find a pirate ship waiting for easy prey.  They immediately powered weapons and shields. “Surrender or be destroyed. Negotiation is not an option.”  We tried to communicate or make a deal when they sent their first volley of laser fire and missiles. Our ship rocked with the impact, our shields taking most of the damage.  We returned fire targeting their shield system only to watch our missiles be targeted and destroyed by the pirates defense drones.  “This will be difficult.” Neil said. “Head to the weapons station to manually override the missiles lock on systems as it may help outsmart their drone’s weapons.  And target the drone control antenna on their hull.” Several volleys later our ship had sustained heavy damage but their ship was only taking minimal damage from our lasers while their drone took out our missiles.  Neil’s voice crackled over the speakers, “Target the drone systems with the laser cannon. I’m going to try and boost the power.”   The next shots finally blasted through their shields destroying the drone control array on the outer hull.  The defense drone drifted aimlessly away from the ship unable to receive it homing and control instructions.  I readied the last missiles and set the laser cannons at maximum targeting their shields and engines and fired everything we had at them. Fires and explosions erupted from their hull as the ship broke up.  The euphoria of victory was short lived; I felt lighter and the air thinner.  Something was wrong.

I found the captain sitting in his chair gasping for breath.  I looked at the console and found he had rerouted power from the Life Support systems to the weapons.  The damage we had received though did not allow him to bring the system back online.  There was no way to repair the system in time.  I approached him taking his hand in my stony grasp. “Elizabeth, you must complete the mission.” He gasped, his eyes pleading. “Make it to the capital system. Deliver the information and save us all.” He shuddered as his core stilled and gave out.   I walked slowly to the airlock carrying him.  They are so fragile, so soft these pink aliens. I laid him down as carefully as we had his family.  When he was floating gently in the embrace of the void I fired the laser cannon and spread him to the stars with his clan.  I floated down the main corridor to the life support system and stepped to the deck as I brought it back online.   Walking then to the engine room I opened the main access port and inspected the damage the engines had taken.  I walked over to the parts lockers opened 2C and 4F.

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