Fear started to slowly rise in me as I thought of the impossible mission I was on. I began to recount the history of this system in an effort to calm my nerves. Most of the system's inhabitants are open to trade with outsiders but they remain constantly vigilant and hostile towards anyone who might deceive them. Their attitude towards outsiders was borne through many years of intrasystem conflict over their valuable resources. Now all technologically advanced planets in the system have entered into a peace treaty that has lasted for over five hundred years.
The resources that are being protected come from the four outer planets in the system: Tida, Mirna, Kolaf, and Himba . The geothermally active inhabitable rocky planets have a plethora of natural ores and metals that are rare on the inner planets. Mining on the four planets is difficult because each operation must have its own habitat bubble; which means that none of the miners live on planet, instead they live on one of the orbital space stations that were built by a system wide union.
The system wide union is known as the United Tilcarni Alliance, or UTA. The UTA was formed just after peace negotiations ended the bloody wars over the outer planets. The UTA is a strong diplomatic and militaristic union that can be a strong ally or a formidable foe. I am on this dastardly mission because of an act by the UTA's more secretive and destructive force. Two of my crewmen were captured and are being detained at the UTA headquarters on the fifth planet Caipil.
While I was thus contemplating a sensor started to blink, without my notice, until the vessel's lights began to flash and Ava1 started blaring, "Warning! Enemy ship closing on port bow. Warning!" I quickly shut off the flashing warning lights and slowed my engines to a stop, following the directions my commanding officer gave in order to comply with the UTA alien affairs guidelines. I sent out the usual greeting while simultaneously sending out a scanning pulse.
"So the first to greet me is the Xenii," I mutter while looking at the returning Xenii ship statistics. To my great astonishment I see that they have 150 torpedoes in their armament, "Whoo wee, you're loaded for a major conflict!" I said with a worried glance toward my diagnostic console. I quickly make note of the encounter in my vessel's onboard log. "Ava1," I said speaking to my vessel, "notate my location in the log and get ready to send out a distress beacon if I am taken and not returned within 2 standard Xenii days." I smile in ironic amusement, as two standard Xenii days were 106 hours, which would hardly be enough time to locate and rescue my crewmates.
I feel the tingling sensation in my lower extremities and realize that they have locked my position and were taking me to their ship via their molecular transmoving beam. The tingling rippled up my body starting slowly but gaining in momentum until it was overwhelming to my system and made me feel like I was being ripped into a billion tiny pieces. Suddenly everything went black.
I open my eyes to a blinding bright light, my gaze darts about the room in momentary confusion. I notice that I am strapped to a chair in the middle of large room. "Where am I, what happened to my vessel?" I ask while looking for someone to address.
"You are on the Comanjhad, the lead ship in the Xanii attack fleet," a deep voice says from behind me.
"I mean you no harm," I try to sound gentle and unassuming. "I am here to negoati--"
"Don't patronize me with your lies Commander Celene, I know who you are and why you are here," the Xennii swiftly moves around the room and stands in front of me, grasping some sort of tool in his hands. "Your crewmen are weak and gave me every detail of your despicable scheme."
"Yes, it is true," I admit. "We know about the secret process of removing rare elements from their silicate lattice structure. We have heard how you use large quantities of Caesium in warmed chambers to act as catalysts and crystallization stabilizers. The Caesium then enables you to break down the tetrahedron bonds holding the silicate lattice structure together that locks in the rare elements." The Xenii's face is tight with stifled anger and turning red from holding it back. "But we are not interested in stealing or using this techn-"
"LIES!" he yells in uncontrollable anger and bounds across the room towards me. He backhands me with his metallic-armor plated hand with such force that it causes the chair I am restrained in to skid backwards and fall on its side to the floor. The room spins a little and I have trouble focusing on his words as he goes into an angry tirade. He paces back and forth in front of me.
"Information leaked - secret proce..." He stops and stares at me. He walks back towards me and leans into my face, "your species is weak," he says with contempt. He lifts the tool that he'd been holding up to my face and asks, "Do you know what this is?"
I stare at the small metallic rod trying to maintain my composure, but I did not move. I know it is a very effective tool that the Xenii use to get information from anyone. I know it causes immense pain and once exposed to the effects of the neurostimulator the victim is never quite the same.
"With this, I will --"
"Higbaji, you're presence is required immediately," a commanding voice says over the communications system.
With a low growl Higbaji kicks me in the gut before turning and walking out of the room.
I look around the room and when I realize that I am alone I active the nanobot at my wrist. The nanobot crawls down my arm and to my wrists where it uses a small laser to cut off my restraints. I immediately start releasing my legs from their restraints and watch as the nanobot starts to work. The bot is programmed to get into any security system and look for one thing: where my crewmen are being detained and the best route for freeing them.
While the nanobot works on getting into the Xenii security system I start dismantling the metal chair I was strapped to and turn it into a crude weapon, which will have to suffice until I can get one off a Xanii warrior.
It is still too risky to activate communications with my vessel. I modify the signal of my wrist communications tag to align with the Xenii signal; I am now effectively invisible to the Xenii sensors.
The nanobot completed the download of information and came back to me, attaching itself to the nanobot port on my wrist com tag. The bot starts relaying information that is directly uploaded into my ear node. The Xenii security measures need to be updated, I think ruefully with a smile on my lips.
A few moments later and I hear the computers voice saying: "Crewmen Kieda and Peter are located on deck 4 of this vessel in a security containment field. Proceed down the corridor and make first left to the ships internal conduit where you will be further instructed." There is a slight static noise and then silence. It takes a bit to get used to having an ear node but they do come in handy, I think to myself.
I quickly and silently move out into the main hallway and find the conduit the computer referenced. Once inside the mechanical voice continues relaying directions to me until I am just one hatch door away from seeing my crewmen. I slowly open the hatch door and see a Xanii warrior with his back to me, standing guard over the two prisoners. I silently let myself out of the hatch door and hit the base of his head with my metal weapon. He falls without a word. I scramble quickly over his fallen body and pick up his weapon.
"Celene! How did you find us?" Kieda blurts out in a hurried whisper. "Peter is in pretty bad shape, I'm sure he can't walk out of here," she says.
"With any luck he won't have to," I reply while scanning the room for a sign that I may have caused an alarm to trip. "It looks like I am still undetected," I whisper to Kieda while looking over the command console by the security ring that Kieda and Peter are being held in. I put my wrist up to the console and tapped it, releasing the nanobot onto the security node. A few moments later the containment field dissipated. I quickly move to the security node and program the vessel's security fields all over the vessel to overload in exactly 10 seconds.
"When the security fields overload it will cause the vessels energy shield resonance to rebound, causing a cascade power failure that will give us a window of opportunity to get off this vessel."
The computer screen flickers and a green box pops up covering the Captains Log, preventing you from reading the rest of it. The box reads: "Transmission failure - security override needed." You do not have any other override keys so you decide to poke around and see what else you can figure out on your own.