One More Trade

Echo-1: Part 46

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Luckily, the Brick appeared not ten minutes later. I went in through the cargo bay door and there parked in the airlock was the remains of my melted and destroyed scout ship. I moved past it opened my suit and reached down into my boot. I got the wand in hand and went back into the airlock. I opened the outer door and aimed the wand at the Banga, setting the virus into the dormant state.

I was able to communicate with them. I told Charlie he could begin resetting parts of the ship still infected if he restarted them with a non-infected system. He was thrilled.

“You turned that virus off just in time. When the Magus came back they set the supernova core to overload. It would’ve destroyed the entire ship. We’re initiating a total restart. We’ll be drifting in the space lane for some time. Good luck!”

I closed the outer door and went up to the control room. Blunt welcomed me aboard and I told him that the Banga was going to be ok. The Sentinel was in the back of the room against the wall.

“I figured we might need that Professor.”

Blunt had opened the blast shield and for the first time in a while, I looked out the front window of the Brick. He laid in a pursuit course.

“They’re moving out of the shipping lanes and heading back toward their comet.”

I thought about this for a while. “Maybe we should let them go.”

Blunt looked over at me. “We should. They don’t have much left.”

We both looked out the window. It was a peaceful state for me. Looking out the Brick’s front window, cruising through space. Feeling at peace with the universe. I let my mind wander to all of the events that had happened. The stars sat still in the distance. It was a really big galaxy.

A half-hour later we caught up with the scout. The top of the Magus was just ahead of them. Taegu and Uzi came on the screen.

“I don’t know how they’re getting this much speed out of that ship. There’re still repair droids all over it.” Taegu said this in Varan and Uzi said about the same thing in English right after she was done talking.

They landed the scout on the roof of the Brick. Mox climbed down the side and entered through the cargo bay door.

We couldn’t get a good scan of the ship and they were attempting to jam our communications. We moved up next to them to survey the state of the Magus. They had closed off the hole and had reconstructed a blast door entrance out of it. They had about seven functioning decks and were getting a surprising amount of speed from modified fighter engines.

Mox came through the door. “If there’s one thing you can say about the Vedma, they are resilient.”

I was happy to be back with the Brick’s crew. “Resilient and survivors.”

I think at that moment Mox, Blunt, and I were all on the same page. We had a great deal of respect for a species that had endured for so many eons. Yes, they were predators, and yes, they were insanely dangerous, vicious, relentless, possibly even pure evil, but who were we to eradicate them. I knew I couldn’t possibly be asked to kill Faye one more time.

“I don’t think I have it in me to kill Faye again.”

Blunt smiled his big tongued smile. “I feel you’ve almost completed your destiny with regard to the Vedma.”

Mox slapped down his hands on us, one on each of our shoulders. “Boys, I think it’s time for one last trading session with the Vedma.” He turned around and looked at the Sentinel. “You still with us Professor?”

Silence. Mox gestured to the bodyguard. The robot opened its chest and pulled out Professor Mildabbar. His tentacles were moving. He opened his eyes.

“Yes, I’m still here, you pathetic lizards.”

Mox walked to the center of the room. “Alright then Professor, do you have any additional information you’d like to share with us about your species, that virus of yours, the light ray, your robot repair protocols, your use of dead whale brains for intelligent biocomputing, really anything you’d like to offer?”

Mildabbar folded his arms across his chest and clamped down his beak with a click.

“Ok then, have it your own way.” He spun around to us. “Broadcast to the Magus.”

Blunt activated our communication system. There seemed to be no response, but they were listening. The signal was getting through.

“Remaining Vedma, Faye, Baba, Yaba, or whatever you’d like to be called. We’ve decided to let you return to your comet, but before you do, we have one more trade proposal we’d like to make with you. That diamond suit is far too large for any of you to use comfortably. And your Professor here would really like to be returned.”

Mox waved his arm at the Professor. He gave the Sentinel a signal and the robot stuffed Mildabbar back inside the cavity in his chest. Mox waited for a moment. Glanced down at his clawed fingers, holding them out in front of his face, inspecting the nails. Then he put his hands at his sides.

“Well, he’s been rather cooperative thus far and I suppose we could keep him and dissect his brain, find out what makes him tick.” Silence. “Ok then, good luck on your journey home. Turn us around.”

Uzi cut in on the ship to ship. “Fuck these bastards! We can’t just let them go, we have to destroy them! Now, while we can!”

Macrai was in front of him on the viewer and she spoke in Varan. “You know we will go with whatever you and Blunt decide.”

Mox looked over to Zandar. He shrugged his shoulders. Then they both looked at me. I went with my gut.

“Let’s get back Death’s suit and while we’re there we can get rid of Mildabbar. He’s starting to smell.”

They both smiled simultaneously at this idea.

“Are you ladies in?” Mox asked them in Varan and they answered back in kind.

“We’ll cover you.”

The scout lifted off from the top of the Brick and fired two rockets at the propulsion system of the Magus. It’s guns activated and shot down the first rocket before impact. The second one took out a third of the Magus propulsion system. Then the blast door hole entrance opened up. Two wolves in spacesuits were inside. They were holding blaster weapons.

Mox, the Sentinel, and I headed down. We got in our rust suits. Mox picked up my acid gun, it still had plenty of juice left. Blunt pulled up alongside the airlock. The hatch opened and we crossed over onto the Magus. The Brick backed off and the Scout pulled up. It opened its hatch and Uzi jumped the distance in the Rust-a-gogo with Nidi riding in the battered remnants of a sidecar with the last of the rust cannons. I assumed Taegu and Macrai held their breath?

We followed the two Mega Therion guards down the hall. Nidi was talking to them in their growling language the whole time. One roared at her after a while, but the other seemed to be listening. I heard her mention Trag’s name. They knew who he was and they respected him.

We passed through two more blast door sections and came to a large room with a door on each side. In front of the door opposite the one we came in was the diamond battle suit. It was open and empty. Next to it stood Faye, Baba, and Yaba. On either side of them stood two rows of battle robots, ten on each side, all armed and ready to fight. The door behind them opened and one of their electro pulse tanks blocked the hallway out of the room. The two wolf guards stood on either side of us. Nidi continued to whisper to the one next to her and Uzi. Uzi sat tight inside his bike.

Mox spoke from inside his suit. “Ah, the lovely sisters. I’m glad this whole incident hasn’t spoiled your beauty in any way.”

Faye spoke and the other two remained silent. “It always a pleasure, as well as a pain, to speak with you, Mr. Mox. We’re heading back to our comet. And yes, before you ask, there we shall stay. It may have been a mistake to deal with you in the first place, but certainly, it was a mistake to come after you. However, we do feel we have made a valid point about crossing the Vedma. The Banga should be exploding any minute now.”

Mox opened the front of his suit, but stayed inside. “That may or may not happen. Scan for life forms.”

The Sentinel read out the crew on board like a list of survivors. 14 Vedma. 7 Mega Therion, 201 functioning robots. 7 functional decks.

“Well, you’ve certainly lost your army over this. We’ll make it quick. The Professor for the diamond suit.”

Faye gestured to the suit. “I’d also like my wand back.” She looked right at me.

“But you have nothing else we would like…”

Nidi cut Mox off. “We’ll take this guard and any others that want to leave.”

Baba and Yaba both growled at her. Nidi spoke to them in the Mega Therion language. There was more growling. The sisters seemed to be getting more and more upset. Faye eventually interjected.

“Fine, take him. We have no need for those without faith and loyalty.”

She locked eyes with me. I was definitely not immune to the Vedma. Nidi spoke to the defecting guard. He walked past the three sisters and climbed into the diamond robot-combat suit. He closed himself in and walked forward. Mox closed his suit and signaled to the Sentinel, who opened his chest and dumped out Mildabbar.

Mox looked over to Nidi and spoke to her in Varan. “Can we trust him?”

Her look answered back with a yes.

Uzi’s thoughts were ringing in both mine and Mox’s mind. “I hope you guys know what you are doing.”

Mox assured him we did and directly to me, he said to give them the control device. I opened my suit. Held out the wand. Then snapped the weird little flashlight in half and threw it at Faye. She hissed at me as I slammed closed my suit. She picked up the two pieces and cupped them with her hands.

“Now get off my ship!”

The three sisters and the Professor turned and walked out the back door, past the side of the tank. All the battle robots raised their arms and open fired. The guard in the diamond suit jumped in front if Uzi and Nidi. The shots bounced off the diamond armor. Uzi backed up and did a sharp turn and headed out the way we came in. They were shooting us like crazy, but not doing any damage. The guard in the diamond suit stayed right behind Uzi shielding Nidi as they drove. The tank pulled into the room and fired a massive electric pulse that knocked us out into the hall. They were charging up for another blast and Mox got out his acid gun and fired it all over the ceiling, which instantly fell in. Half the deck above us came crashing down. We kept running. The last thing I saw was Professor Mildabbar climbing onto the top of the tank, looking at us with an expression filled with rage.

We made it to the blast door. The guard in the diamond suit opened it and Uzi drove into space. They floated briefly and the guard in the diamond suit flew out and steadied them. The Brick moved in and we all went into the airlock, closing the door behind us.

“Scan for Vedma lifeforms.”

The Sentinel sounded off negative and we opened the inner door. We moved into the cargo hold.

Uzi opened up the top of the bike. “Are we really going to just let them go?”

Mox stepped back into the airlock with the Sentinel. The Brick had kept its position. Mox opened the outer door and pushed the wrecked diamond scout out into space. Then he emptied his entire acid gun onto the remains of the scout. It started melting like crazy. The Sentinel gave it a big push and it went right through the open blast door and into the Vedma ship.

Mox closed the outer door and the Sentinel did another scan. I tapped into the Bricks sensors. We moved away fast and Macrai fired right into the opening. The melting remains of my scout exploded inside the Magus sending acid flying in every direction.

Blunt broadcasted safe travels to the Vedma and they gave no reply. Their ship continued in the direction of the Morning Star comet, billowing toxic looking green smoke from the burning acid within.

Mox and the Sentinel came through the airlock door. He parked his suit next to mine and we both stepped out of them. The Guard in the diamond suit did the same. He climbed down and taking off his helmet revealed a white fluffy furred face. He was an albino wolf. He had incredible red eyes and soft pink skin on his ears and mouth. He spoke to Nidi in their language then she translated for us.

“Trag was his brother. His name is Hraarrv, but you can call him Harv.” Nidi took off her helmet and hugged him.

Mox walked past them. “Welcome aboard Harrv.”

I looked at him and thought, he is a pooka. Harvey the pooka.

We all followed Mox to the elevator. Nidi and Harrv got off on the second floor and went to check on all the pups in the lab.

Uzi called out to them. “I could use a man like him.”

Harrv looked to Nidi. She translated. Harrv responded. Nidi looked over to Uzi.

“He’s not sure what he’s going to do yet.” She smiled her toothy grin as the elevator door closed.

Taegu and Macrai were on the monitor when we walked into the control room. They spoke in Varan. “We’re going to monitor them for the next month or so. We’ll meet you at the station.”

Mox and Blunt both wished them the safest journey, suggested they keep their distance, and closed the communication. We all took our normal seats and Uzi flopped down hard in the chair behind me.

“That was one hell of a pickle.”

Blunt gave me a quizzical look.

“It’s an expression, I don’t why, but I think it means that we made a mistake and then the consequences put us in a bind.” I looked to Uzi for confirmation.

“That we did. And I’m glad it’s over.” Uzi closed his multi-colored eyes and was asleep instantly. He looked even older than before.

Blunt looked at me again. “You’re a total mess you know?”

I was covered in burnt dried Vedma blood with wolf hair stuck in it and I smelled.

“That I am.”

{ Part 1 ~ Part 47 }

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Sci-fi short stories to inspire your inner rocket building, planet-hopping, astrophysicist space pirate. 🚀

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