The ship alarms blared through Aeric’s ears.  The pitch grew more and more grating as time wore on.  Hallways were red as rolling lights flashed from the ceiling.  Moments prior he was happy for a break in his routine.  His job was to walk a corridor.  It was simple and easy.  He was well paid and had friends and free food.  It was boring and he never thought he would want that routine back.  Then a strange ship zipped by his corridor windows and came to dock with his vessel.

That was when the alarms started.  Researchers were locked in their labs behind thick steel doors.  Every guard on the ship was summoned to the docking bay.  The last time Aeric had seen the docking bay was when he arrived on the ship.  He carried a bag full of clothes and the charger for his gauntlet computer; all of his possessions. He remembered the taste of the air when he first stepped out of his shuttle and into the docking bay.  It was tinny and quite unpleasant.  The docking bay crew assured him the smell and taste was temporary as the ventilation system was undergoing needed repair.  It felt like such a normal thing to be happening in such an abnormal place.  Broken vents, funny smells and folks apologizing for the state of things.  It was like he was having dinner with his parents.

The docking bay was a different place now.  The strange ship docked without authorization and refused orders to open its entry hatch.  The bay now smelled of smoke and the sweat of two dozen frightened guards.  Aeric wished for the taste of tin. Explosives proved useless against the shuttle.  Precision lasers bounced back on their sources.  The shuttle refused to open at the request of others.

It was happy to open at its own discretion.

Aeric remembered little of the moment the doors of the invading ship opened.  The hiss of the hatch was followed by a gray smoke which crawled out of the ship and into the docking bay.  There was coughing.  Then screaming.  Then thudding against the bay floor.  Aeric fled as the smoke reached his shoes.  He did not think, he just ran.  His feet took him to the only safe place he knew; the long corridor he walked day after day.

“Rasivi!  Rasi?” He shouted against the lab of his one friend on the station.  His knuckles nearly bled as he knocked against the door.

The door clanged as it unlocked.  “Was it smoke?” Rasivi asked.  Sweat dripped from her brow and her hands shook.

“Smoke? Yes there was smoke,” Aeric answered.  Rasivi pulled him inside the lab and closed the door.

“Smoke is good.  That means they weren’t ready for full implementation of the prototype.  That means they rushed it! We can beat this thing!” Rasi said.  She scribbled a note and passed it to one of her assistants.  The lab was in constant motion as scientists checked formulas and engineers tweaked gadgets.  The assistant taking the note read it quickly and sighed with relief.

“What is happening, Rasi?” Aeric was dizzy with confusion.

“The smoke from the shuttle?  It is a first generation device.  I sent plans to corporate six months ago, told them the project was complete.  We’ve been using that time to create a cure,” Rasi explained little.

“Corporate attacked us with one of your…I have no idea what you made,” Aeric asked.

“I built a mechanical virus.  Very powerful.  Corporate thinks the project is done.  To ensure the tech does not get to competitors, they clear off the originators.  It is rumored to be standard Srio practice for highly profitable discoveries,” Rasi said.

“Doctor, we’re ready to deploy,” a voice shouted from across the lab.

The steel of the door creaked and hissed.

“The smoke is at the door,” another voice called.

“Better deploy quickly,” Rasivi ordered.

A button was pushed by someone employed simply to push buttons, just as Aeric was employed to walk a hallway.  A moment later the creaking at the door ceased.  The alarms stopped and the red lights returned to their usual off-blue.  The lab occupants held their breath, each expecting the alarms to sound once more.

“What just happened?” Aeric asked

“We created an anti-virus.  Every grab their gear.  It is time to abandon ship,” Rasivi said.


Thanks for reading!

Here’s the previous part of Aeric and Rasi’s story:


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