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Stealth and Deception
by Alastair Cooper (Myralyst)

Part Seven

It was 5:00 am and even though he knew it was a trick of his mind, Baldezar still enjoyed the “taste” of the fresh morning air. He knew perfectly well that the quality of the air on the deck of this ship was uniform, and it could not be described as fresh either – yet he still breathed his customary deep breaths of the glorious “morning” air. Shaking his head at the quirks of his species he strode out of his cabin. For months now the ship had been getting quieter and quieter – till now when an eerie silence almost reigned in solitude.

The last workmen had gone, the ship orbited for the first time as a complete object, an awesome object – a manifestation of a supreme destructive force. The Federation had spawned such a craft only in the depths of their hatred for their own kind, a delicious irony Baldezar thought as he mused on the ships purpose. The morning report from his remaining aide was good. The freighters that had arrived with the supplies for the crew of Death’s Touch, there had been no news of the failure of his hired assassins and so he expected to see the Admiral’s death splashed all over the holonet very soon. Everything was panning out nicely and soon he could surrender his charge in optimum condition to one of his own family, move on and feel the benefits of such a successful commission.

He couldn’t resist – as he passed a display terminal projector, mounted surreptitiously on the wall he called out “Computer. Display holonet.”, and a three dimensional image of a terse woman behind a pristine desk materialised before him, she was already speaking

“... understandably furious. After the bungled assassination attempt, Admiral Patitise retreated to the safety of the military spaceport complex that housed his crew. No official comment has been made regarding the issue, but it is understood that the Admiral has decided to formally take up his commission on the bridge of the glorious fleet’s new flagship sometime this morning. Elsewhere in the news…” Shocked and dismayed Baldezar strode passed the image, which faded from existence, his thoughts were whirling. He had not achieved any clarity, save that he had realised the sickness in the pit of his stomach and the bile in his throat were symptoms of a huge outbreak of terror, when he reached the bridge. His symptoms only grew worse when he heard the fateful transmission.

“Shuttle Papa-alpha-tango-niner has reached holding level and requests transmission of secure clearance codes.”

Baldezar stared in horror at the image on the central screen before him, the admiral’s shuttle – impersonal and hard. It was coming to claim him, to cast him down. In his panic he stood stock still – frozen in place, his hand hovering over his eyes, trembling.

“Sorry I’m late sir! Let me just send that authorisation code…” said his aide, Petras, as he ran onto the bridge. His uniform betrayed the fact that he had, only shortly beforehand been in bed, woken by the automatic alert the ship sent to him regarding the approach of the admiral’s shuttle. Baldezar whirled round, about to shout Petras down and saw he was too late, his aide’s hand connected with the computer, and the process was begun.

The computer’s voice, now an impersonal female tone, chimed “Authorisation code exchange successful. Shuttle Papa-alpha-tango-niner now docking in bay 1.”

His morning was now in ruins, he had only minutes to get to the shuttle bays and prepare excuses. Only seconds to prepare to hand over his pride and joy to a mortal enemy – one who would certainly suspect him for the attempt on his life. He screamed in frustrated fury inside his head – How could he have hired such fools? How had the admiral survived such a devious attack? Exactly what was his new honour guard? All these questions destroyed what equilibrium he had left, and destroyed the remnants of his focus. “Computer: transport me to docking bay 1’s entrance immediately”. Perhaps if he talked fast enough the admiral might believe him innocent. If he handed over the Leviathan smartly questions about his integrity might be forgotten. How could he explain the complete absence of the usual security though? He was still pondering this as his body was translocated to the area before the grand doors of the boarding room. Petras materialised next to him, and they entered the reception chamber. It was customary for the newly commissioned officer to walk every step of the way onto his new charge, and so the transporters remained inactive. The lift mechanism hummed into life. Only seconds remained. He stood a polite distance from the doors as they began to move open, and his mind froze.

Inside the lift was not the admiral and his guard, there was nothing. And then, five shimmers caused the air in the lift to move and shift, and then five black figures stood before him instead. All were heavily armed. The shock of this new development struck him dumb, his mouth opening and then closing repeatedly with nothing ever coming out, and he remained so – even as the tallest figure loosed his weapon and destroyed Petras. Out of the stillness, the slow creep of certain death one crueller joke was left to be played, as one of the figures reached for their mask. It pulled of the visor of the bodysuit they all wore; fingers clawed the suit down, revealing a pretty female face and a head of golden hair. The hand went back up and in the moments before the plasma from the weapon took his body, his eyes told his mind that she had blown him a kiss…


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