Roy had always been a man of nerve. No situation had caught him short of response or action. His actions had always been swift, merciless and bore the mark of one who had been thrown into a life of survival. Usually at all cost.
Knowing this did nothing to temper the discomfort he felt at that moment. In one of the very few instances of hesitation, today’s would prove to be fundamentally terminal.
Roy realised this all too late.
The enemy ship had already detected his exit from the jump. Normally this would not have been a problem. ‘The Varatar’ was small, fast, and manoeuvrable, however this meant very little when one had the misfortune of ‘bumping out’ right in front of what was the equivalent of a Union cruiser. Everyone, Union or otherwise, had learnt what “Dark” ships looked like, some through the misfortune of encounter, others in the warmth and comfort of a classroom. Frankly both were a fear rending experience.
Roy relished the fact that he was in the first group. He always felt it gave him an edge. He had seen what they were capable of and was highly motivated by his experience.When the realisation dawned that it was too late, he deeply wished he hadn’t had the experiences he did. He knew what was coming.
But it didn’t.
As the cloud of confusion seeped from his mind, he was struck by a realisation of two things. The first that this was his end. He had always been sure of a method of escape, but today was different. The second notion was the most puzzling, or maybe disturbing, or both. He couldn’t tell and wasn’t interested in finding out which. Maybe today he could pay humanity back for everything bad he had done in the past.
This second realisation came from something he knew was unfolding out there, beyond the ship’s hull, at least two thousand kilometres from where his ship lay listing in the gravitational eddies of the Vega system. The “Dark” had stopped. He had thought of trying to escape, but knowing that this was going to be a useless attempt, didn’t bother to allow the thought to fully form.
For the first time that anyone in the Union knew of, he was going to be taken as a prisoner by this enemy. They normally killed on site, but not today. His stomach churned with a fear and an excitement. Pushing it aside, he reached out to the panel, tapped it and issued voice commands for the programming of a death trigger. This would record all visual and auditory information, and at the moment of death use the body as a subspace antenna to transmit a high-speed data dump. Death assurance came in the way of a second neural augment build for complete and rapid brain de-synchronise. The code was loaded into two sets of nanite injections, which he administered in that order.
The nanites quickly worked their way into his system. The first went to work building the sensory interfaces. Then after building the antenna interface, began assisting in building the neural disconnectors with the second group.
Roy had never be overly thrilled with the concept of nanites. He was always of the opinion that it meant giving over decision making to a committee that he couldn’t see. But in reality it was just the idea of having machines inside him that he didn’t care for. He shuddered at that thought while the machines worked tirelessly towards their goals.
“Neural interface link up” came the thought, and he now had to come to terms that he was part man, part machine.
A solid ‘clonk’ sound brought him too. Where was he? What was going on? His eyes were open but he saw nothing. Then he noticed a small slow green flash in the bottom right of his vision. “Neural interface link up” he thought. Did they knock him out he wondered.
He felt the hardness of the table he was lying on, smelt the strange sweet aromas of the air he was breathing. The cold thought hit him that he had already been boarded and was now with them, whoever they were.
The memory of ‘The Varatar’ being boarded came back to him. In his mind he slowly looked up at the face of a previously unseen enemy as they stood filling the door to the cockpit.
“OH GOD….OH GOD….OH GOOOOD” he screamed inside.
The door chimed notifying Emily that someone was outside.
“Come” she firmly ordered.
A young flushed man hurriedly entered the room.
“Sir,…. Admiral Sheffield, I have been ordered to deliver this to you”, he said, handing her a sealed diplomatic box.
“Whats this about ensign?” She cooly queried.
“I don’t know Ma’, uh Sir, but I was told to get this to you as quickly as I could.”
The boy, who couldn’t have been more than eighteen or nineteen years old, had quite clearly been running. She eyed him for a second, pondering what was so important that it couldn’t arrive via normal channels and so speedily.
She dismissed him quietly and turned to the case.
Providing her usual credentials, voice print, thumbprint and retina scan, the box opened automatically. Within was a standard memory card. Long, flat and silver with an almost non obvious depression on the one side. She lifted it out fo the casing that contained it and mused at the object for a few seconds.
“Well let’s see what this is about” she thought as she walked over to the station that served as desk, communications and computer interface. She inserted the card into the port, depression side first and the whole viewer flashed to life.
Her stomach turned at what was digitally scribed in the air in front of her.
“Desynchronisation and data dump from Antonio Roy Sheffield. Data for the eyes of Admiral Emily Sheffield only. Pease confirm your identity”
Unconsciously she reached out and provided her fingers to the reader and pronounced her full rank and name.
The three dimensional viewer flickered and changed.
“Oh god no” she murmured.
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