Bad news and old monsters
Ethan stumbled towards the bridge of the Necromancer, half alert and only slightly more functional than a broken toaster. The captain had not been able to sleep for years. His dreams were filled with nightmares; his internal light dimmed by the strain of the daily pressures put on him. It was a miracle that he managed to stay sane in the strange world he forced himself to live in.
Stepping onto the bridge Ethan was slightly taken aback by the presence of Nikola. Nikola was a thin woman standing nearly seven foot four. She was also the captain’s chief engineer.
Nikola was from the outer rim; her people were strong of body and will, and incredibly mechanically inclined. Ethan knew her people well. One of his best friends at the Academy, Tohmas, was of the same race. The captain was not accustomed to seeing her on the bridge; she tended to stay in the bowls of the craft and away from the bridge while she was on duty.
“Sir!” barked the gigantic woman; “I have several things I would like to discuss with you.”
“Not now Nikola.” retorted the captain “talk to me in two hours.” Ethan didn’t like putting the chief engineer off, but he had to deal with this communication before he did anything else. If he let himself get sidetracked he would more than likely allow himself to forget about it all together, for some reason he didn’t wish to deal with the communication.
Nikola sulked off the bridge, slightly dejected but understanding. Tohmas had warned her in his briefing that Ethan could be difficult to deal with at times, but his intentions were in the right place. The chief engineer walked through the hallways of the Necromancer and made her way towards engineering.
On the bridge of the craft Ethan made his way to the ready room located just to the aft side of the ship. Entering the spacious briefing room the captain sat down at his desk and pulled up the encoded message.
An old friend’s face appeared on screen. It was a gentleman in his mid to late forties. His hair had turned gray since the last time Ethan had seen him, but the sharp jawbone and new oversized hat revealed his old friend from the academy, Commander Lipton.
“Captain Bloodsliver,” began Lipton “a recent communication came through with some interesting security footage.”
Ethan was baffled why his old friend from the academy would be forwarding film footage to him. The captain had not seen Lipton since helping him investigate the string of murders at the academy almost twelve years ago. The two had kept in touch by way of communications, but nothing this formal.
Ethan continued by watching the footage, or at least he tried. The footage was standard quality security footage, grainy and out of focus but the image was clear enough for Ethan to see what Lipton wanted him to. It was a scene the captain had done his best to forget a man whose face was burned into a young cadet’s mind. Ethan had last seen the man on the tape at the Gharphie embassy.
That night Ethan watched the man on the tape kill an army of Gharphie soldiers with the help of a strange woman. At first the captain thought his old friend had sent him the tape of that night as some kind of cruel joke, but then Ethan realized the horrific truth. Commander Lipton had no sense of humor ant this was not the embassy at all; this was an entire colony on the outer rim!
Ethan knew the colony well; four months ago the crew of the Necromancer spent two weeks on Gamra III improving the colony’s power plant. The crew had enjoyed their time with the colonists as well; the two weeks provided a much needed shore leave for his crew. Now that he thought about it the captain seemed to remember that Tristan had stopped by the colony early in her recent shore leave, but he would have to confirm that memory. He did not make a habit of following his officer’s movements while they were on vacation, but he did seem to remember her returning with letters from the colony.
“Ethan,” Lipton’s voice came grating through the system “the message you just opened had a receipt tag on it, please stand by for a live transmission from high command” reported the commander’s voice.
Captain Bloodsliver was confused by Commander Lipton’s message. He was unclear when Lipton had gone to work for high command, and why he wanted to talk to Ethan in person. Although the two had kept in correspondence with one another they had very rarely talked live with each other.
A few moments later a shrill chirp announced an incoming call. Ethan accepted the transmission and was not startled one bit when he saw Lipton’s face appear on the monitor. The commander had just told him to expect a call from him, so the sun rising in the East every morning was would be more startling to the captain then the reliable old friend keeping his promise.
“Commander it’s been a long time” was the greeting Ethan extended to Lipton.
“I wish it was under better circumstances my friend,” replied Lipton. “I take it you saw the same thing I did?”
“Couldn’t miss it” stated the captain. “But why bring me in on this,” questioned Ethan?
“Thought you might want a chance to finish what we started all those years ago” replied the commander.
Lipton was right; Ethan had been troubled by those events twelve years ago. They were the reasons he didn’t sleep at night, and why he never entered an ill light room by himself. There were other things related to the incidents, but the captain had buried those too deep in the subconscious to mater. “You know me too well old man,” replied the captain.
“Watch it youngen” started Lipton “I can still have you arrested. I don’t care what ship you captain, or what future monarch is your friend.”
“When should we meet,” inquired the captain?
“I’m set to rendezvous with the Necromancer in one day. Can you accommodate me?” stated the commander.
“I doubt I have a choice in the matter, now do I.” replied Ethan.
“One more thing son,” stated Lipton “don’t tell your crew anything until I’m onboard. The material you saw did not originate from us and we don’t want anyone to see it right now.”
“Understood, end transmission” was all Ethan said. He understood from a career long friendship with Lipton that the man did not mince words, if he wanted to keep Ethan’s crew in the dark until he was ready to explain things to them, that was exactly how he wanted the situation to play out.
The captain sat back in his chair and watched the footage again. When Bruce’s face came into focus the captain paused the image and zoomed in on the cyborg’s head just to make sure he wasn’t imagining it. “Who are you?” questioned the young man, tapping the screen firmly with a finger. “What manor of demon are you to have chosen to haunt me?”
The captain punctuated his statements by poking his finger at the cyborg’s head. He had seen this monster in action only once, and that event continued to haunt him a decade after the fact. Captain Bloodsliver contemplated that if this monster was back what of its counterpart, the strange shape-shifting creature that had chased him through the hallowed halls of the George Bush Residential Building and across campus to the Gharphie Embassy on that fateful night. Many of the memories that the captain had struggled to repress returned to him, and with them they brought back all the luggage that he had wished to forget.
The captain of the Necromancer, the savior of the soon to be Gharphie ruler, the man who stopped the total destruction of the union on more than one occasion spent the rest of the night crying, alone in his cabin, like a frightened and lost child.