Jago: The Millennium Galaxy Race

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 34 (v.4) - Extricate

Submitted: August 08, 2017

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Submitted: August 08, 2017

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Chapter 34: Extricate

 

We traveled for a few weeks towards Thereon where the fourth and final stone was waiting to be found. Tammy said it would take another week to reach the planet that she was born on but dreaded returning to.

I could sense going there bothered her even though she wouldn’t admit it. She didn’t allow herself any free-time but instead kept busy working on projects either in her room, workroom, or the flight deck. I tried not to bother her too much since she always looked so busy and focused.

#

With time to kill and the person I spent the most time with so busy, I spent a lot of hours writing in my room, and then one day an unfamiliar, masculine monotone voice reverberated throughout the ship.

“Attention, stone seekers, I am pleased to inform you that one of the four great Vo stones has been found. The location of the stone is on the planet of Thereon where passage to this forbidden planet has been lifted for the ambition of any brave racer willing to disembark on our planet. We await your arrival for the glory of the galaxy’s most prized possession.” A click signified the end of the message, and the voice ceased.

There was only one way of finding out what all that was about: ask Tammy. I jumped up and ran to the flight deck where we all met.

We didn’t even have to ask; she was already explaining as we arrived. “They broadcasted on an open channel. Any ship within this sector of the galaxy has heard that message.”

Kiko sat down in Cashel’s old pilot seat and flipped through some panels. “They’re telling everyone where the stone is? Why would they do that?”

“Maybe they don’t want it anymore,” said Rei hopefully.

“It’s a trap,” Tammy said bluntly. “They’re luring in racers to destroy them.”

“Aren’t there like millions of racers? Can they really destroy them all?” I questioned.

 “Thereon is one of the few planets that operates outside of Crux law,” Tammy explained. “Our advancement in technology has surpassed even that on Crux, and therefore Crux has basically allowed Thereon to operate independently as long as they did not interfere with other planets’ affairs. It was a win-win for both Thereon and Crux. Thereon considers all other planets inferior and won’t bother wasting their time with others anyway, aside from business.” She looked to me. “So, to answer your question simply, yes, they can destroy them all.”

So Thereon blatantly beckoning other racers was bad news for everyone.

 “I originally planned to masquerade the Jago as a supply ship to land on Thereon, but after the current events I recommend remaining hidden and taking a less noticeable path.”

“Agreed,” said Kiko.

#

Tammy spent the next few days re-routing and re-planning our passage to Thereon. I spent mine reliving the awkward horrors Kiko and I shared. We were both avoiding any conversational contact with each other since the night she came to visit me. We said the basic ‘hello’ and ‘what’re you up to?’ but that was about it. Of course that didn’t mean I didn’t like to be around her; in fact we both spent a lot of time in the sky deck, just gazing quietly together.

“Did you see that?” I asked out of the blue while we were lying there.

“See what?” she mumbled.

I had woken her up.

Suddenly hundreds of ships appeared out of nowhere and everywhere around us, and they wasted no time firing. We both sprang to our feet as a large ship passed by, extremely close to us.

Tammy’s voice ordered, “Get to the blasters.”

We didn’t have to be told twice. We both straggled through the rattling ship as fast as we could. The sound of blasters ricocheting off our shield rang everywhere.

Rei joined us as we each got into a blaster room.

“What’s going on?” she asked while targeting the ships firing on us.

“I’m not sure,” Kiko said, mimicking her movements. “Tammy, can we get an explanation?”

 “Thereon set up a disruptive hyper drive net in this area. Every ship traveling in this direction has come to a halt because of it.”

“So what does that mean?!”

“It means we were caught in their trap.”

That was not good. All we could do now was defend the ship as best as we could while Tammy tried to steer us out of harm’s way. There were many unlucky ships around us being blasted to smithereens, their debris floating off into space. There was no way we would last very long being in the middle of this battlefield against larger and more equipped spacecraft.

The Jago jolted sideways from a huge hit, and an alarm rang out.

Kiko spit out curse words. “Tammy, we’re not gonna last much longer!”

As I was targeting a hostile ship, I saw a small one traveling by quickly, maneuvering out of the way of debris with only a few shots being fired from their blasters. What drew me to them was that they also had a shield around their ship, which was apparently a rare thing. It looked as if they were evading attacks and avoiding attention as much as possible, so I didn’t see them as a threat and didn’t bother targeting them.

Our holograms and blaster rooms abruptly powered off, and I couldn’t hear from anyone except for Rei.

“Did your station turn off too?” she asked, soul linking with me.

“Yeah, it did,” I responded.

“Let’s go see what’s happening on the flight deck.”

I got out of my station and met Rei on the way to the flight deck. Kiko was already there conversing with Tammy. The only operating hologram panels looked like they were broken; strange symbols scrolled across it. Tammy was obviously trying to stop whatever was happening.

“A ship-wreck virus?” Kiko asked. None of us had heard of such a thing.

Tammy said, “The last time I heard of this it was still in the alpha testing stage. I didn’t think they could have it completed so quickly.” She sounded worried, which made me worry.

“What does it do?” I asked.

“In simple terms, it destroys a ship’s computer network and interface, causing the ship to lose control, and sets it in an unstoppable route to collide with other ships, planets, or anything solid in space.”

We heard loud explosions and looked out the sun-shield. All the remaining ships were no longer firing any weapons. Instead, each began to slowly change direction into an ultimate collision course.

Our ship began moving on its own, and Tammy frantically worked the contaminated panels.

“I don’t have enough time to bypass the virus,” she said.

We were moving closer and closer to a large ship which was also headed directly for us. I was getting nervous.

Tammy sat down in the pilot’s seat and pressed her hair into the dock in the chair. We watched as she stared into space, her eyes darting across like she was reading something in front of her.

Kiko must have sensed something because she suddenly tensed and asked, “Tammy, what are you doing?”

Tammy didn’t respond, but before long, the ship powered up again. Rei and I sighed with relief as Kiko bolted to the captain’s chair and averted the Jago from crashing. We all braced ourselves from the shudder as the Jago scraped along the side of the large ship.

Tammy removed her hair from the chair and took over from Kiko as we fled the ship graveyard.

“Wow, what’d you do?” Rei asked happily.

She didn’t answer and continued to steer the ship away from danger.

“What did you do, Tammy?” Kiko pressed in a commanding tone.

 “I took in the virus,” she answered plainly.

“You what?” I asked.

“I had to. It was the only way to save the ship.”

 “So what does that mean?” Kiko asked.

“It means the ship will be able to land on Thereon.”

“No.” She stood up from the captain’s chair and leaned over Tammy, slamming a palm into the flight panels in front of her. “What does it mean for you?”

“It means …” She hesitated, still staring out into space. “I won’t be finishing the race with you.”

“WHAT?” Rei and I yelled in unison.

The thought of losing her made me panic. Breccan, Lux, their crew, Cashel … I couldn’t lose anyone else. All my life I’d lost the people I cared about. I wasn’t about to let that happen again.

“No! Why! Because of the virus? Can’t you take it out somehow? There has to be some way!”

“The virus was made to be un-purgeable once contracted.”

I shook my head in disbelief. “No, you can’t do this!” I refused to allow her to die.

Kiko stood over her and gave her a stern look. “Tammy, there has to be a way to save you. Tell us now.”

She sighed slightly, contemplating whether she should tell us. We were all on edge waiting for her answer, which we knew she had.

She gave in and said, “There’s a very slight possibility of an antivirus somewhere on Thereon.”

Kiko immediately took over the captain’s chair and set a direct course for the planet.

 “But the likelihood of me surviving until then—”

I cut her off from finishing that sentence. “We’ll make it,” I said with confidence.

“We will,” said Rei, backing me up.

“Damn right, we will,” Kiko joined in, increasing the ship’s speed.

#

We were still a few days from Thereon and traveling at the Jago’s full speed. During that time, Tammy’s health declined steadily. I stayed with her every moment, and when we were only a day away from landing, she finally collapsed. She was getting up from her chair in her workroom when she stumbled into my arms.

“Tammy!” I caught her.

She felt hot in my arms, and her hair no longer had its usual shining glow. It pained me to watch her suffer.

“I’m okay,” she said, regaining some strength and trying to get back up.

“No.” I held her close to keep her from moving. “I’ll take you to your room.”

I swooped her gently into my arms and carried her to her room. Kiko saw us in the hallway so she went ahead to open the door and get Tammy’s bed ready. I set her down gingerly and helped her adjust the sheet the way she wanted. She looked frail, her face was sullen, and her eyes held a distant, unfocused glaze. Kiko put the back of her hand to her forehead.

“She’s heating up,” she muttered.

“Kiko, can I talk to Sarth for a moment?” Tammy whispered.

She removed her hand from her forehead and answered, “Yeah, of course.” She walked to the door. “We’re almost there, Tammy. Hold on for us.”

Then the door closed behind her.

Tammy took her hand out from under the covers and reached for mine. She took a strand of her hair and tied it snuggly around my pinky. Then she took her index finger and wrote something on my palm. I couldn’t read it at the angle she held my hand.

“This is the unlocking code. It’ll appear again when you remember this.”

“Unlocking code for what? Why are you telling me this like you’re not going to live to use the code yourself?” I asked, distraught.

“It’s just a precaution.” She gently squeezed my hand when she finished and gave me a weak smile. “Promise me you’ll tell her your true feelings when this is all over,” she whispered.

The knot in my throat was growing. “Okay, I promise, but you have to promise me you won’t give up. Promise me you’re going to survive.”

She smiled and closed her eyes. “I promise.”

I held her hand all night. The next morning her fever was worse and she didn’t wake up. I felt helpless; she was dying slowly, right before my eyes.

Rei came in to check on us. She and Kiko had both been taking turns steering the ship to Thereon since it had to be piloted manually now that Tammy was incapacitated.

“How is she?” Rei whispered, brushing Tammy’s hair out of her face.

“We need to land soon,” I answered.

“We’re almost there.” She turned to me. “You should get some rest before we land. It’ll be non-stop once we’re there.” She was right, but I didn’t want to leave Tammy. “She’ll be fine. I’ll be here the entire time, I promise.”

I nodded and let go of her hand. It was harder leaving her than I thought, and when I was in my room, all I did was worry.

Out of everyone I’d ever known, Tammy knew me the best. She knew my secrets and helped me through the bad times. I considered her my best friend; someone I could confide in about anything. She’d always been there for me, even when I didn’t know it. She’d saved our lives plenty of times, and now it was time to save hers. We wouldn’t fail. I refused to.

By my last breath, I will save her.

Somehow Kiko knew I wasn’t sleeping. Her voice came in over the intercom: “Sarth, get some rest. Don’t make me have to come over there and knock you out myself.”

I smiled at her concern. She was right. If I wanted to help Tammy I’d need to get all my rest done before we landed. I closed my eyes.

After all, she promised she wouldn’t give up, so I had nothing to fear because I wouldn’t either.

#

I had a weird dream that night. I was on a strangely familiar planet, wandering. No one else was around, and suddenly I was standing right in front of a large rock. It looked like a normal rock, but this one stood out somehow from the others. I looked around; there were patches of remains of what used to be a white building on my right, like it had been destroyed and abandoned some time ago. I faced the large rock again and held out my hand to touch it. That’s when I woke up, my hand still outstretched in front of me, and the only thing visible in the dark was Tammy’s hair, suddenly glowing brightly.

I didn’t think much of it when I woke up. In fact, I pretty much forgot about it and went straight to see how Tammy was doing.

Rei was sitting next to her, fixing a wet cloth on her forehead. I didn’t have to ask to see how she was doing. She was worse than when I left her. We stayed with her for a few more hours before Kiko called us both up to the flight deck. I reluctantly followed Rei to where Kiko summoned us.

She explained the situation from the hologram table where two planets were hovering above it. “Tammy was able to camouflage our ship and find a landing spot for us on the larger of the two planets that make up Thereon.” She zoomed onto the larger planet. “She also gave us the coordinates to a safe-house on the outskirts of the nearest town.” She zoomed in even closer to a bare spot on the planet. “We will be landing within the hour, so we should prepare ourselves.”

“What are we going do after we land?” I asked.

“We’ll have to find someone we can trust, locate the antivirus, and bring it back to Tammy.”

The vagueness of the plan had me worried. There were a lot of variables we were leaving out which would inevitably take time to solve, time that we just didn’t have.

“We should split up to search for the antivirus,” I said.

Kiko thought for a moment and eventually nodded. “We’ll cover more ground that way. But we need to maintain communication somehow.”

“Tammy has a few long-range earpieces,” Rei suggested.

“Yes, but they’re easily intercepted and traceable, especially on this planet.” We paused to think again but came up with nothing. “We’ll just have to use it when we really need to.”

So far our plan wasn’t the best.

“What’re we going to do about Tammy? We can’t just leave her all alone.”

Kiko shook her head. “We’ll just have to see what we can do when we get there.”

I groaned and pounded the table. I couldn’t stand the thought of such an unstable plan over something so important.

Kiko walked over, put her hand on my shoulder, and gave me the assurance I needed. “Sarth, we’ll make it in time. We’ll save her. I give you my word.”

I looked at her confident face and into her fearless gray eyes. They spoke the truth from deep within her heart that somehow we wouldn’t fail.

I swallowed the tears that were building up in my throat and nodded. She gave me a smirk to cheer me up then went back to the pilot’s chair.

“Prepare to land.”


© Copyright 2017 Anon Amous. All rights reserved.

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