Daren's Unfortunate Death

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Daren’s Unfortunate Death

 

            “Salven nit!” the ship’s computer screamed into Daren’s left ear. His neural implants immediately translated: “Awaking from stasis.”

            The chamber opened and he sat up, holding his head within his hands. It had been a long, cold journey from Desnna Two, the second homeworld of his superiors. They were a technologically advanced race known as the Desnnarians.

            He had been taught to never question his human history. It was said that humanity was unique – most races had a homeworld with their own culture and ideas, but humanity was created in a science lab by the Desnnarians as an “adopted race” to serve and protect them.

            Daren had been chosen to serve aboard the Callen, a military scout ship sent out to make peace with new undiscovered species in the Frontier Sector of the Milky Way. So far they had discovered only one species, but it was too uncivilized to make a difference in galactic politics.

            Although most of the Callen’s crew were humans, there were also a few Desnnarians on board as well. One in particular was Ervoc, the current Leading One of the vessel. Daren had never liked him much because he seemed to dislike humans, rarely showing any politeness or respect when interacting with them. It wasn’t entirely uncommon for Desnnarians to display signs of racism toward humans.

            Suddenly Ervoc’s voice came through the shipwide communication channel. “Daren why aren’t you here? You’re late. Come now or you will be reprimanded.”

            Daren rolled his eyes at the whiny voice of his alien superior. He quickly snapped his sidearm to his belt, and with a hint of frustration in his walk he made his way to the bridge. It wasn’t far, only but about fifty steps from the stasis chambers.

As soon as the bridge doors opened, he was greeted by the arms of Ervoc, which slammed him into the wall. “Why are you humans so incompetent with your betters?”

            Daren smiled in defiance. He knew if he fought back he would win. Despite their strength, Desnnarians were relatively delicate creatures. It certainly wouldn’t be a difficult task to incapacitate or even kill one. But they held all the technology. With that there would be no way to truly win. “My apologies, Leading One. It won’t happen again.”

            Ervoc roared as he released his grip and turned back to his command center. “Just get to work. Tell us about the third planet of this system. It looks to support organic life.”

            Daren went to his display and read what was on the screen. “Its atmosphere has seventy-four parts nitrogen, twenty-one parts oxygen, and five parts other gasses that are too sparse to identify with our sensor array.”

            “We know that already!” Ervoc hissed. “What can you tell us about their civilization?”

            “There are large cities scattered throughout the planet’s surface. I’m detecting what could possibly be controlled electrical currents throughout the planet.”

            Another human suddenly spoke up. “Ervoc, we’re picking up radio transmissions. They seem to be in some sort of code. I’ll see if the computer can translate.”

            “You didn’t request permission to speak to me, Jolai!”

            “My apologies, Leading One.” There was a hint of nervousness in his voice.

            Ervoc laughed heartily. “For that offense, you will be reprimanded most harshly upon our return to Desnna Two.”

            Jolai pressed a button on his panel, indicating that he wanted to speak.

            “Speak, human,” Ervoc said with disgust.

            “The computer successfully interpreted the code. It reads as a recording. If it pleases you I can play it.”

            “Proceed.”

            The room suddenly filled with the sounds of all kinds of voices – male, female and child alike.

            “This sounds like the rubbish you humans entertain yourselves with.”

            The recording stopped. Daren pushed the “permission to speak” button on his panel.

            “Yes, Daren.”

            “Leading One, I think you were correct. These voices do indeed sound human. They match our vocal patterns.”

            Ervoc nodded. “Bring us into a close orbit around the planet. I want to take a closer look in case some humans have escaped the greatness of our civilization.”

 

***

 

            Even from orbit the planet was beautiful. The white swirls of clouds and blue oceans intertwined with masses of land looked like the paradise of a human dream. Daren had always wondered why humans were drawn to things different from the Desnnarians. After all, they were their creation. He figured the two races would at least enjoy the same pastimes and scenery if one was truly from the other. It didn’t make any sense. But as he had been taught his entire life, there was no need to question things. They were the way they were for a reason.

            “Speak, Jolai,” Ervoc commanded.

            “We have another incoming transmission. This time there is only one voice.”

            “Let us hear it.”

            The voice was crisp and firm, the first human voice Daren had ever heard speak with any kind of authority in its tone. “Unidentified Flying Object, this is the United States Government. State your purpose for flying in our airspace.”

            “Speak, Daren.”

            “Leading One, they are definitely human…and from what I gathered from the previous transmission, they have a culture far different from the Desnnarians.” His eyes sparkled. “Perhaps we humans have a homeworld after all.”

            “Hold your tongue, Daren. What you say is on the verge of treason! There is no human culture other than your own, and that’s our creation!”

            Daren nodded. “Yes, Leading One.”

            “Send a message to Desnna One. I want them to decide what we are to do.”

            “Message sending,” Jolai said.

            It was a matter of minutes before the response arrived.

            “Speak, Jolai.”

            Jolai looked at the message without saying a word. He seemed bewildered by its contents.

            “I said speak, Jolai!” Ervoc yelled.

            “We are to…” He stuttered, not wanting to read it. “We are to open fire on all the major cities until they are destroyed. Then we are to set fire to their atmosphere to prevent any survivors from escaping. The knowledge of this world or its destruction is not to reach Desnnarian space.”

            Daren gasped with shock.

            “Fire the main weapon at the source of the human transmission,” Ervoc ordered.

            Jolai just sat there, not moving a muscle. He knew if he obeyed his superior that it would costs the lives of millions of people – and for no reason other than Desnnarian ego.

            “Fire the main weapon, Jolai!”

            He still didn’t move. Ervoc jumped to him and tossed him aside. “I’ll do it!”

            The Callen’s main weapon energized. Daren watched in horror as a near perfect circle of fire appeared on the planet’s surface where a bustling human city had been only moments before. He had to stop this. As he grazed his sidearm with his right hand, he looked around the room. There were only two Desnnarians: Ervoc and the security officer. Given the officer’s powerful weapon, he knew that he would have to be his first target.

            It all happened so quickly. As fast as he could, he upholstered his weapon and shot the security officer in the face. The Desnnarian fell to the floor dead. Ervoc leaped towards him, but Daren shot him in the leg just before he crashed to the floor.

            He casually walked over to his downed superior and kicked him in the side. “Why are you Desnnarians so incompetent with your betters?” he mocked.

            Ervoc wheezed. “You have no need to kill me. I can call off the destruction of this world.”

            “What are you doing?” Jolai protested. “We’ll be killed for this!”

            Daren stomped his foot into Ervoc’s elongated throat, pinning him to the floor. “Don’t you get it, Jolai? We weren’t created in a science lab! This world is ours – it’s our homeworld! Everything we’ve been taught was a lie.”

            Jolai shook his head. “No. It can’t be.”

            The heavy clank of footsteps could be heard in the hallway leading to the bridge. Daren shot the activation switch for the door, frying it. “There, we’re sealed in. That should hold them off for a while.” He looked down at Ervoc and spit in his face. “You Desnnarians are a pathetic and fragile race! We’ll free ourselves from you one way or another!” He then shot him in the head.

            An alarm sounded.

“The beacon!” Jolai yelled. “They’ll send the whole fleet here to wipe them out! What have you done, Daren!”

“We have to warn them. It’s only a matter of finding a way.”

            Jolai pointed to his screen. “We have a contact coming toward us from the planet’s surface. It appears to be some sort of capsule. Perhaps we can reach them when it arrives.” He paused. “Look. There are several more.”

            The first object accelerated in the direction of the Callen, trailing fire from behind.

            “It’s not slowing down,” Jolai said. “It’s going to crash into us!”

            There was a brilliant flash of light just outside the front viewport of the bridge. The ship shuddered violently beneath their feet.

            “Shields down! Shields down!” Daren screamed. “Those are weapons! Maybe they’ll be able to save themselves after all!”

            Just then another of the weapons made impact. The last thing Daren saw was the bridge tear itself to pieces amidst the Callen’s destruction.