The great freighter glided majestically through the cosmos, silent as a shadow in the emptiness of space. The stars' reflections twinkled off its metallic hull and played across
the sensor arrays. The ship innocently traveled along its preplanned course just like thousands of others had throughout the years. There was no reason to suspect anything was amiss, so the
great vessel was completely unaware of the dark, malignant presence it neared by the second.
"All seems fine here Sir, green lights across the board."
"Good," Alexei Rousseau replied, sighing as he leaned back in his contoured chair, the synthetic leather squeaking slightly. Another perfect delivery, right on time. There was
only another day or so to travel before they docked, as long as they stayed on their current heading. All according to plan.
"Uh, Captain, there's something ahead of us," his tactical officer, Jay Fox, reported uneasily. "I'm not sure what it is. The sensors can't seem to get a good lock on it. I'm
almost tempted to say it has some sort of stealth system."
"It's too small to be a threat," Andromeda Taylor, his executive officer, interrupted. "And it's the wrong shape to be a mine, especially in a little backwater sector like
Kallisto. Looks to me like a stray asteroid that was knocked out of the asteroid belt who knows how long ago."
"Continue on then Helm."
"Aye, Sir," the helmsman replied.
Alexei returned to his former chain of thought. He was going to receive a bundle for the power blades, competition pistols, and hunting rifles he was carrying. The amount of
ammunition alone would last the small colony for months. He'd even brought army rations, food and water to last the colony a month. With his profit he would pick up the raw materials the
colonists had been mining and head back to Ermante. Then he could see his wife and son and---
The massive freighter shuddered as it was struck heavily, the echoes of the impact reverberating throughout the massive ship.
A maintenance man stared into Cargo Hold Seven, where the echoes seemed to have originated from. He wandered into the cavernous hold, walking between the giant crates, each two
meters tall and piled three to five high. Only the maintenance man's rough breathing and echoing footsteps could be heard. Sweat glistened on his brow and the hairs on the back of his neck
stood on end. Something was behind him, he sensed it with that uncanny sixth sense he'd always had. It had never been wrong.
The man started murmuring a prayer and slowly turned around, not sure what he'd see. With a feeling much like reluctance, the man looked down the well-lit aisle that ran between
the crates. His shoulders slumped in relief when he saw that, for the first time, his sixth sense had been proven wrong. Feeling foolish, the man began humming and idly turned to resume his
patrol. He turned on his mike to report in.
_ _ _
"There's nothin' I can see that's wrong... so, what now?"
"Look more towards the hull, see if it's been compromised and check for dents."
"Sure thing Cap'n... it's all good so far... What the hell... Holy shit!" The line went silent. That silence was worse than the scream. Then crackling static took up the empty
space, the mike's signal lost. But silence still reigned on the bridge, the tinny speakers offering the only sound.
Alexei's spine was stiff and his communications officer's face whiter than milk. He took a breath and tried to compose himself. It didn't make him feel any better, but at least
he looked like the captain again.
"Taylor, Fox, go see what the damage is," Alexei ordered. They glanced at each other uncertainly, mouths open in instant protest.
Alexei glared at them. "That's an order!"
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