On the Sea of Ice
Echo-1: Part 40
I left them behind. I had to see how it would all play out. Faye took my hand and led me to the seats behind Abednego. He ignored us and piloted the craft expertly. He took us to the other side of the Banga.
A great deal of air pressure built up inside the scout. With a growing hole in the nose and no vent, it made a kind of strange sounds at high speeds like someone continually blowing into the end of an empty bottle.
I sat down next to Faye.
“Half the sea has been drained. Are they hiding in the water ring?” she asked.
I looked at her, then at the nose of the ship. We weren’t going underwater anytime soon.
“What about all these passengers?” She projected a schematic of the Banga. “What is in these natural habitats?”
I told her it was just vegetation and suggested if she stopped the interference I might be able to contact Jonas directly.
“I don’t think that will be necessary.”
She sat for a moment with her hands folded in her lap with the de rigueur of a princess. She was looking over the Banga. She scrunched up her nose and winced her eyes. The image changed and displayed life forms. Billions of them. It wasn’t helping her. There was a great deal of life aboard.
“Why don’t you scan for larger life forms?” I suggested.
She shot me a glance and snarled her lip. “Why don’t you tell me where they are? Take me to your leader.”
I laughed. She didn’t understand. I had no idea how to explain it.
I looked into her eyes. She was sad, angry, scared even. Her sisters were dead. Her ship crippled. Even the diamond scout I had given her was rendered useless. She was grasping at straws wanting to see Jonas. They had failed to take the control room and wouldn’t get a second chance. Manipulating Jonas was her only hope. I raised my hand and pointed to the large suite of empty storage in the back of the ship.
She increased her scan. No life forms.
“Why aren’t you telling me?” She looked at me with a cross, almost pouty expression. She looked beautiful. My heart sunk in my chest.
“They’re there.” I pointed again to the empty storage space. “It’s cold, frozen. The ice is probably masking the life forms. We can get in through the cave’s entrance here.” I pointed a third time.
She passed the image to Abednego and he altered our course and increased the speed.
“We’d be better off taking a land vehicle.”
She wasn’t interested in my travel suggestions. Faye slid closer to me and touched my side.
“I feel I can trust you, but you have some resistance to me. Why?”
I wanted to let her all the way in. “I don’t trust you. You play havoc with the world. I think you are just using me. I know what you really are.”
She looked surprised and maybe a little bit hurt. For a second she flashed her true shape. A dark purple squid ink filled tentacled slimy creature with protruding eyes and a hard sharp bone colored beak. She instantly turned back into a beautiful woman. Honestly, I didn’t care if she was a squid or cuttlefish or a giraffe. I loved her anyway. I’d do whatever she wanted and I wouldn’t betray her. I was helpless and it made me happy. I had never been filled with so much emotion caused by any one person before.
“How does Abednego see you?” I asked.
She smiled and turned, for a brief second, into a fabulous golden haired she-wolf. The wolf mother. Even in that form she had such a softness in her eyes, she was irresistible.
“He sees me exactly as you see me.” She was right.
We were coming up on the first entry points.
“Skip the first three and take the tunnel at the fourth.”
The door was open and we flew into the tunnel. It was the back of the polar bear caves. The scout just fit. We could see the white light of the snow ahead. The ship stopped in the center of the cave.
“Is this a trap? I don’t like the cold.”
I offered her my jacket and she refused. I looked ahead to the white at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s our last resort.”
She instructed Abednego to continue. We passed out of the cave and into the vast open sea of ice.
It’s best at this point to remember that the Banga is incredibly huge and inside the back storage unit is a vast ice capped sea.
We flew the scout out into this giant ice box in space. Wind and cold came through the open hole in the nose. The temperature in the ship was dropping quickly. Faye adjusted the climate control, but it didn’t counter the cold. We flew over a flock of blue penguins. Hundreds of them waddling along on the sea ice. They seemed to be moving rather quickly and were acting startled. Then we flew over a large blood spot on the ice. Something had killed a bunch of them.
Abednego informed us that there was a ship in the center of this area. He was scanning Dixon’s ship.
“It’s an Ursa Minor custom job. Mid-sized, maybe a crew of twenty tops. Very impressive.”
Faye looked at me. I didn’t say anything.
“Well.” She smiled, seeming a bit too pleased with herself. “We do need a new ship, this one is spent.”
I looked at her. I knew we were going to see Jonas so she could attempt to get total control of the Banga. As we went over the next snow dune, we saw the tracks. Abednego growled, that we would be getting some reinforcements. I could see a half dozen wolves running fast over the ice. They were heading straight for Dixon’s ship. We passed over them and when we got the ship Faye shot her wand out the front, but it didn’t take control of the ship.
“Is it operational?”
I would have assumed she knew it was completely powered down.
“Does your magic not work if a ship is powered down?”
It didn’t appear she liked my question. I felt bad about it. I felt a huge need to make her happy. She did have some kind of power or aura or something that manipulated me.
She pointed to a small section of the ice near the ship. It was a breathing hole used by the Narwhal and the Beluga whales. Abednego fired repeatedly into ice around the hole. Then he launched a rocket into the center of it and detonated it on surface impact. It increased the hole tenfold.
“Is Jonas down there?”
I looked at her, I had already told her I needed her to unblock our communications if she wanted me to talk to him.
“I don’t know, but the others are. Though I’m sure you scared them away with that explosion.”
She spoke to Abednego in his language. He landed the scout equidistant from the water and Dixon’s ship. She walked out first followed by me and Abednego last.
It was cold out on the ice. I felt for Faye who was thinly dressed. Abednego seemed at home. He craned his head straight up at the ceiling and let out a tremendous howl. It was returned instantly. The other wolves were coming. I could see them in the distance and they were coming at a full charge.
From the other side of the Unicorn ship walked out Werner in his rust armor suit. When he saw me, his face took on a very scared expression. He must have assumed everyone else was dead. After all, he was the only one left from the people he was with and he was the last stand here at the submarine ship on the frozen sea. Our last stand.
Faye smiled all the more when she saw Werner.
“Hello, there my friend. You aren’t going to give us any trouble now, are you? Why don’t you come out of that suit, you won’t be needing it now.”
Werner stood perfectly still for some time. He knew what those wolves could do and he saw them coming. Faye motioned to him again. He turned and ran. He fired off his suit’s rockets and jetted away across the ice. He sent a message to me over the communications.
“I’m sorry, I can’t resist her, I have to move away from the sub ship.”
Werner didn’t know it at the time, but he had just let everyone on our team know Faye’s location. It also meant that my communications were no longer blocked now that I was outside the scout. I sent out my thoughts to all who still had communication abilities.
“We are on the frozen sea at Dixon’s ship. Werner is gone and the wolves are coming. I am alone with Faye and Abednego the Mega Therion general. The scout is damaged and they will most likely attempt to take the submarine ship.”
No one responded back to me. Maybe I was still being blocked.
The wolves appeared in sight, then disappeared behind a snowdrift, they were close. The lead wolf was silvery white, with a sword thrown over her back, it was Nidi. The others weren’t chasing her, they were following her!
Before I could get too enthusiastic about it, Dr. Death came flying out of nowhere and he was shooting. His rust cannon ripping up the ice surface. The wolves doubled their pace and scattered. He’d killed three in the blink of an eye. Their bodies blasted to pieces. Blood spattered all over the ice. Nidi let out a tremendous howl that stood Abednego’s fur on end. He raised his weapon to the sky and his shots bounced off Death’s armor.
Faye whipped around and started whispering softly to Death. He stopped shooting. Then he landed right next to us and took a non-aggressive posture. Faye told him that was good and encouraged him to remove his armor.
I shot him the sternest look I could muster. “Don’t even think about it.”
He ignored me, opened the front of his suit and stepped out. He had his light gray camo fatigues on and he dropped his weapon. He walked over to Faye and stood there like an oversized puppy dog. I’m sure she could have had him rolling over, playing dead, and eating out of her hand. He just stared at her waiting for his next instructions.
The gigantic mass of a sperm whale surfaced in the water next to us. The sloshing and sucking displacement of water grabbed all of our attention. His blow hole spouted. It was Vronsky, he took his one shot. He fired his diamond rocket assembly. Everyone dove out of the way. The rockets rushed by hardly a meter off the ground. Both sunk, like a double hole in one, into the open door of the diamond scout ship.
The explosion was mostly contained in the ship, but the blast shoved us all toward the edge of the ice line. Fire exploded out of the hole in the nose of the ship. That was the end of my diamond scout. It was just a beautiful shimmering shell now, with a toxic fire inside, belching black smoke and eating the interior.
Faye jumped up off the ground, a thin layer of snow covering the front of her body.
Abednego rolled over on the ground and fired, punching multiple bloody holes in Vronsky’s side. He was an easy target, being the size of a barn. Death reached for his weapon and leveled it on the submerging whale.
Sunshine and Dixon came running out of the surface entrance of the Unicorn ship. Both screamed “NO!” at the top of their lungs. They were brandishing their stun guns and fired wildly at Death, Abednego, and Faye. Death and Faye went down.
Abednego walked toward the edge of the ice and fired off two more shots directly into the top of Vronsky before he submerged. Vronsky let out an intense low groan that rang in my mind for a long time. Abednego spun around and tried to take aim at the approaching woman. They had the drop on him and attempted to fire their stun guns at him. They pulled the triggers repeatedly to no avail. Faye was standing again. She waved her index finger at Sunshine and Dixon.
“Tisk, tisk, ladies, now let’s all play nice.”
Dixon threw her stun gun at Faye and Faye caught it.
“Fuck you! You fucking bitch!”
Faye spun the gun in her hand and shot Dixon with it. Repeatedly. Her body dropped and convulsed on the ground.
“Stop!” I stood between Faye and Dixon.
Sunshine dropped her gun and threw up her hands. “Don’t shoot, I surrender.”
Faye thought about it for a second and shot her anyway, twice. Sunshine went down instantly and didn’t move.
“Goddammit, Faye.” I glared at her.
She smiled at me. “It’s dangerous to play with weapons.”
Nidi stepped out from behind the burning remains of my diamond scout. One wolf stood beside her, a brindle colored soldier in the padded leather armor of the Vedma. They were between Faye and Abednego. Two other black-haired wolves with white patches on their chests came around on all fours from the other side of the ship stepping over the fallen motionless body of Dr. Death. They growled at Faye, showing their rows of large fangs.
“How dare you defy me.”
Nidi ignored her and talked directly to Abednego, in a mixed language of growls, English, and Varan. She was already quickly mastering the Mega Therion language. Her intelligence was astounding. The brindle wolf also spoke to Abednego in the growling language only. Faye growled at the two wolves approaching her and then turned her attention for a moment to growl at Abednego.
The two wolves were right on top of her. I couldn’t resist, I had to help her, I shouted.
“Faye, look out!”
She didn’t even move her head to look she just raised her free hand, spread her fingers and set both the advancing wolves on fire. They ran off yelping into the snow drifts. Nidi reached behind herself and pulled the oversized rusty samurai sword off her back. It lit up with buzzing red lightning. Faye fired the stun gun at her. The wave was absorbed or was deflected by the lightning sword.
Nidi snarled at Faye. “I am a real she-wolf.” She assuringly said it again in the Mega Therion language.
Abednego lowered his aim. He was confused by this. Nidi advanced. Faye fired three more times and each shot was disrupted by the red electric sword. In a flash after the third shot Nidi moved her sword with intense speed and sliced the stun gun in half, taking several of Faye’s fingers in the pass of her blade. Faye screeched out in pain and for second flashed her true form. The moment of purplish cuttlefish stunned Abednego and the brindle wolf. Nidi had confirmed what she knew to be true. She shifted her weight to her left paw and raised her sword. Faye looked her normal self.
“Behind you!” All I seemed to be able to do was yell warnings to everyone.
Abednego, whose allegiance to the Vedma witch ran deep, could not believe his own eyes. He raised his weapon to fire on Nidi. She pivoted and raised her sword to Abednego. There was no way it would stop a blaster rifle. The water exploded behind Abednego. Veronica towered in the air over him. Her jaw, only slightly smaller than Abednego, opened and clamped down on him. He howled and fired his blaster grazing the side of Veronica’s head. Her mass came crushing down, breaking the body of the wolf as well as the ice below his feet. The cracking of the ice made a tremendous sound. Then her large gray body slid beneath the water with Abednego in her jaws. Loose chunks of ice floated around and the shore was covered in red blood.
The brindle wolf and Nidi were both knocked into the water when the ice surface shattered. They were dog paddling desperately back toward the edge. No regular mammal would survive long in that temperature of water. The brindle made it to the shore first and to my surprise turned and biting the back of Nidi’s neck pulled her out of the water. They both shook like the wet dogs they were, then slumped shivering to the ground and curled around each other into a ball, trying to stay warm.
It was just me and Faye again.
“Isn’t this whole experience cute. How about I warm all these cold children up a little.” She spread out the fingers of her uninjured hand.
“Please don’t, Faye. What do you want?”
She closed her little hand into a fist and looked at me with her deep swirling eyes. She waved her hand and me.
“I want to speak to Jonas, now.”
My communications block was gone. Sometimes she really did seem like a witch. My head filled with the sounds of our remaining crew. Veronica was giving a status on Vronsky and it wasn’t good. She was begging someone to go to the central science lab and pick up her avatar and bring it to the frozen sea. Taegu and Macrai had two missiles left and as luck would have it were hunting down the last two Vedma fighters still flying around the ship. They were heading in our direction at pursuit speed. Punchy had died. Charlie was talking about ship systems. Uzi was racing to the frozen sea. X and Mox had taken Professor Mildabbar back to the Brick to try and crack the whole virus thing. Jonas ordered Charlie to keep the central computer room on lockdown until the virus was removed from the rest of the ship. I transmitted to everyone.
“Jonas, are you in the frozen sea? Faye is demanding to talk to you. She’ll kill Nidi and the others if you don’t.”
Two whales surfaced. It was Veronica pushing Vronsky up to the surface for a breath. The holes in his side looked terrible. Vast amounts a blood flowed out of them. Abednego’s body surfaced as well and floated face down in the bloody water. Faye was enraged and shot flames at them. Fire licked the surface of the water and scorched the backs of Vronsky and Veronica. They both sunk back under. Then Jonas told me he was coming up. Uzi was in the middle of telling him not to when my communications were cut off again.
“That will do,” Faye said.
She walked over to the edge of the water. I looked at Dixon and sunshine of the ground. Death also lay motionless. I walked and stood behind Faye. Jonas surfaced.
“Can you communicate with him?”
Faye turned and rolled her eyes at me. “You may listen.”
She spoke out loud to Jonas, but I also heard her through my transmitter. She was able to hear everything any of us had said all along. They had us at an incredible disadvantage.
“Greetings my large intelligent friend. I’ve been meaning to meet you for a long time now. How is our little white whale doing?”
Jonas replied that he was fine and that he was free now and not her’s at all.
“Well, your little program didn’t really work out for us and we’d like to return it. You cost the lives of thousands of our Mega Therion followers.”
She walked over to the two wolves huddled on the ground and kicked both of them in turn.
“Did you hear that? This whale’s fool hardly revenge tactics cost the lives of thousands of your people. They died in a state of terror and shock.”
The two wolves shivered and growled. They clearly were fighting off the effects of hypothermia. Faye walked back to the water line.
“I’ll be taking the white whale back and I’ll be taking this Ursa Minor ship here and anything else of value I think I might need. Call it debt repayment. Next time you want to trade with the Vedma don’t send your lizard man, come yourself.”
She turned and looked at me, smirked and narrowed her eyes. Then directed her attention back to Jonas again. “Do you agree to my terms?”
Jonas floated in the water, he exhaled through his blowhole. It filled the air with a salty smell. He pushed his mass up and got a first-hand look at Faye. Then he spoke.
“Yes, Faye, but what of the Banga?”
She laughed once to herself.
“Well, I know your lizard man is holding our beloved professor. Since he is so fond of negotiating, here is a deal. He’ll let him go, furnish him with a ship and send him on his way back to the Magus. We’ll take most of your droids to help with our repairs and if we see that rusty brick of a ship anywhere outside the Banga we will destroy the entire ship from within. For that matter, if you resist in any way I will shut off life support to all 7 billion passengers and set the Banga on self-destruct.” She waved her hand again. “Did you hear that last part, Mr. Charlie?”
He responded. “Yes, I did. Jonas, she does have control of the main dark matter core and could initiate a self-destruct. It would seem the Magus has been left some distance behind us adrift in space, it does, however, appear to be back in one piece and under various stages of repair. We need to…”
She cut him off.
Jonas floated in the water, took a large breath in. “We’ll do whatever you want.”
He then proceeded to order Mox to release the Professor and vowed to deliver Henry to the airlock personally. I couldn’t tell if her powers were controlling Jonas or if his hand was just forced and he put the safety of his passengers above all else. Faye added some more demands.
“I also want Mr. Charlie to open his rusty room and grant us full ship access and I want your Hands here.” She turned and winked at me.
Jonas spoke again. “Charlie, open you section doors and allow the Vedma virus to take hold.”
Charlie responded that he would not be doing that and he was prepared to lose the entire ship and float in space in his safe room. He could survive the destruction of the Banga. Jonas, not used to being disobeyed lifted his huge red tipped fluke and slammed it down in the water, causing a huge splash and a wave up on the shoreline.
“Hands, go inside the Unicorn and power her up. You’ll be working for Faye from now on.”
I reached down into my boot. “Gladly Jonas, but if I may ask one last question before you release me from your service. What does Faye look like to you?”
Faye whipped around I took a step closer to her at the same time. Mere centimeters separated us. We stood in silence, nose to nose, eye to beautiful eye.
Jonas answered. “She looks like the most attractive cetacea I have ever seen. I will be going with you and her and Henry.”
I raised my bone knife, fast and swift and with all my strength. It slammed to the hilt, deep into the side of Faye’s slender neck. Black sticky goo oozed out and covered my hand. It was slightly warm. Faye flickered from cuttlefish to human and her eyes glazed over white.
“Why my love?”
I didn’t know why. I didn’t know it would hurt me so, it was like sticking a knife in my own heart. I ripped it out in a tearing motion nearly taking her head off. Her fingers ignited with flames and I stood and took her dying explosion. My clothing caught fire and the pain was intense. I thrust again at her. More black goo spilled all over her body and mine. She fell to the ground. It seemed like her head was only still on because of the black slime. I knelt down to her. I held her nearly weightless body in my arms. She managed to keep her human form, though it clearly pained her to do so. I thrust my knife into her heart. Not that I knew if she actually had a heart in that location. I stabbed her again and again. Each strike sent me into hysterics. I wailed and gnashed my teeth with agony as the most beautiful angel the heavens had ever created flickered between forms.
Jonas rose out of the water and let out a thunderous bellow. Faye changed permanently into a big purple squid. Her black eyes looked at me. I could see that in my thrashing I had inflicted wounds that would be her end. I held the slimy mess of tentacles close to me. I stuck my knife in the snow and pried the little flashlight wand from Faye’s death grip.
Dr. Death stood up behind me. I felt his cold hand on my hot shoulder. He reached down and took Faye’s body from me. Her tentacles wrapped around me. Death ripped her away, tearing off my jacket. She was still hanging onto my head and had me by the throat. She started to strangle me. Death pried her off my neck and I fell to my knees again facing the water. I saw Jonas go under. Death’s cannon started to fire behind me. I couldn’t look. He kept firing and firing. I heard an incredible cracking sound. I turned around. He had placed her body on the scout ship and fired into it. There was a huge crack down the middle of the ship. Death let his weapon fall silent at his side.
I stood up and walked over to him. The spell had increased massively with her death. I felt an incredible sense of sadness, loss, and remorse. Dr. Death and I stood in silence looking at the pile of goo that was once Faye.