Fiction logo

Terra Archaios

Chapter 3: Flight From Ceres

By Shawn David KelleyPublished 5 months ago 20 min read
Like

Flight from Ceres

Three days passed before the crew, warriors and the captives all awoke. Jake was astonished to find that Galantine’s warriors had brought on board sixty-four people. They were huddled in small groups throughout a ship designed for a complement of a hundred and fifty. Now the ship had a complement of a hundred and sixty passengers, but well within the feasible complement intended for the Odysseus, even if it meant cramped quarters for some. It was a good thing that GalaxyX had decided to equip the ship with the maximum fuel and provisions. The ship’s oxygen recycler and hydroponics would be able to assist in producing the additional fresh oxygen needs of the passengers.

Mission Commander Hughes was happy to see Jake had made it back to the Odysseus but he and the rest of the crew were more than a little amazed that they had picked up over sixty refugees, sixty-four in total, from Ceres. He was not pleased to find out that the AI had been compromised and Jake had to physically disconnect it, basically destroying the multi-billion-dollar brain. He set the crew on connecting the older computer to the ship’s systems. The security force was relieved that Jake was able to escape whatever situation he had stumbled onto. Jake had to debrief the team on what had occurred on Ceres. All knew his tale could be backed up by the video recordings within his suit but it brought up more questions than answers.

“Guys. We can discuss and theorize all day but, in the end, we just have to take things on faith. You can get more answers from Galantine. Now that we are no longer on Ceres, maybe Mira will open up about what she knows. Do not trust her, though. She’s treacherous in the extreme. Two security members must be on guard at all times with her. I don’t know how I know but I know she has abilities that we have not encountered before,” Jake told them.

“Jake is correct. Gilgamesh’s priest and priestess have been genetically modified and technologically altered in ways my people have only limited knowledge of. Keep her eyes covered and her mouth gagged or she could bewitch even the strongest of you,” Galantine explained.

“Can we at least give her something suitable to wear?” One of the security force members asked.

“If you are concerned with her modesty, don’t be. The priesthood is depraved creatures. The only reason they go about clothed is the people have demanded it. Inside their temples, they go unclothed and perform such acts with one another that the people are kept from entering the temples,” Galantine told them. “If you must adorn her body with anything, make it a light, one-piece cloth. She can change the molecular makeup of certain materials.”

“Use a space blanket. Cut a hole in the center and drape it like a poncho,” Jake ordered.

Mira was given a space blanket as Jake had ordered. Her arms were released for a few moments as the makeshift poncho was placed over her head and tied about the waist. Her hands were once again bound behind her back. A hood was fashioned to cover her head but allowed her to breathe and for her mouth to be seen. A sturdier gag was devised consisting of a rubber ball and carbon fiber strands from a lifeline cable.

The females on the ship urged Commander Hughes and Jake to get rid of Mira but were unable to explain the reasoning behind their request. All the females could say was that Mira was going to bring death to the crew and refugees.

Jake sat for days watching Mira in the makeshift cell they created inside one of the living quarters. Two security force members were always on guard but had started to become complacent, all except the senior female member, Staff Sergeant Tanya Jenkins. Jenkins was a combat veteran of three deployments with the Special Operations Command as a sniper and spoke four languages.

“Lieutenant. I agree with the other women. Mira is some kind of demon or something. When I dream, I hear her voice calling to me,” Jenkins told Jake.

“What does she say? In your dreams?” Jake asked.

“She pleads for her release and calls for me and the other women to join the priestess of Gilgamesh. She offers otherworldly treasures and power. I’ve seen this in cults when I was doing a college paper. She is very charismatic and if what you and Galantine say is true, she IS the one getting into our heads,” Jenkins said.

“You and the other women, as in the women on the security force or all the women onboard?” Jake asked her.

“All the women onboard that I have spoken with. All the females on the security force and Odysseus. A few of refugees as well,” Jenkins told him.

“Damn. Check with the rest of the team and crew. See if any of the men are having issues,” Jake ordered.

“On my way,” Jenkins replied.

Less than an hour later, Jenkins returned with a report that the majority of the men she asked were having issues sleeping. They were irritable and fights were beginning to break out over insignificant things.

Jake decided to sit with Jenkins when the majority of the crew were asleep. Galantine came in and sat without a word. The two security members remained on guard while the three watched the priestess. Jenkins had borrowed a Geiger counter and an electromagnetic frequency (EMF) detector. As they sat watching, the devices both began to show activity. Jenkins’s radio began to receive an odd static transmission.

As Jenkins and Galantine watched, Jake stood up and moved closer to Mira, holding his hand up to halt and silence the security members on guard. He caught a flash out of the corner of his eye as he turned away from Mira to stretch his neck and wanted to see if it was his eyes playing tricks on him. He knelt beside Mira on her left side, the side he thought he had seen something. As he peered closer, he saw it. A blueish light appeared occasionally from her left ear lobe.

Jake stood up and left the makeshift cell. He returned a few minutes later with a scalpel in his hand. Kneeling beside Mira once again, he quickly sliced at her ear lobe without cutting it off, where the blue light emanated from. A small pebble-like object slipped from the fresh wound and Jake caught it. Jenkins and Galantine came to his side to see what he had found. They all peered down at it as the blue light flashed. It went dead after about five minutes during which time Mira remained unmoving, uttering not a word or scream of pain. The next day, the crew reported that they had the best sleep they had had since leaving Ceres. The females onboard returned to their cheerful selves and there were no more fights.

“Your people certainly possess some unique technology,” Jake told Galantine.

“Too bad it is used to enslave a world,” That was all Galantine said.

The next day, the chief medical officer, Dr. Ronald Anderson, and two female scientists, under the watchful eye of Galantine, Jenkins, and Commander Hughes, began taking x-rays, Ct scans, and physical probes of Mira. They uncovered small electro-emitters in the tips of each of her fingers. Each emitter seemed to function independently and in conjunction with the others depending on what Mira wanted to happen. A secondary cybernetic nervous system was detected that had attached itself to Mira’s natural nervous system. They found numerous cybernetic power nodules throughout her body and several transceivers within her skull that had scar tissue indicative of surgery being performed when Mira was a newborn. Other adaptations came later, such as the fingertip emitters. Her eyes had been enhanced so that she could see in complete darkness and no material on Ceres could block her enhanced sight. That proved an issue until the space blanket was used. The reflective surface of the material effectively blinded Mira. Thus, a hood was fashioned out of space blanket material in conjunction with the other material they were using for a hood. It was also discovered that the material known as mylar, which the space blanket was made of, could be used on the inside of her cell to block other abilities and enhancements that she had been given by technology.

“At least we have uncovered where some of her abilities come from,” Jake stated one day as Galantine and he was watching Mira. Jenkins had ceased coming to watch Mira once she was no longer in her dreams or projecting thoughts into her mind.

“Indeed. I would pray that the further she is from Gilgamesh, the less power and abilities she will have,” Galantine stated.

*****

Odysseus’ computer plotted and replotted the course back to Earth over three weeks to make sure they were on the most direct route back home. The time would have been minutes if the AI had been saved. Commander Hughes put Jake in charge of the refugees since he was the one who brought them on board. The communication officer sent continual signals to Earth and GalaxyX command center but received no response. All was quiet except for the static of the galaxy on the radio waves.

“We haven’t been able to pick up any radio transmissions from Earth,” Commander Hughes told Jake. “We’ve been over the systems numerous times and can’t find anything wrong. Someone will have to go out and check the connections on the outside.”

“I’ll take Derrick. He’s the best commo tech we have,” Jake said.

“My thoughts exactly. Just watch yourself out there. We don’t know if that Gilgamesh character has ships of his own and are pursuing us,”

“Galantine doesn’t think he does but we’ll take no unnecessary chances,” Jake assured him.

“Like going into a corridor and getting sucked into a different dimension?” Commander Hughes smiled at Jake.

“Ok, I won’t be taking any more unnecessary chances.” Jake smiled.

“Good enough,” Commander Hughes replied.

Jake and Derrick suited up for their spacewalk. Jake armed himself with one of the energy weapons that Galantine’s warriors had retrieved from the dead elite soldiers. The rest of the security force stood ready in their suits in case additional firepower would be needed.

The outer airlock hissed open allowing Jake and Derrick a perfect view of the cosmos. They scanned the heavens for any signs of pursuit or dangerous objects but found none.

“Command, how do we look?” Jake called over the radio.

“The screen is clear. No artificial or natural objects showing,” Ruth on the Command Deck replied.

“Heading out now. Keep us updated,” Jake said.

“Roger, Jake,” Ruth’s response came back.

Jake allowed Derrick to take the lead since he knew where the communications array was located, or at least the first of the five. Derrick took one look at the array and motioned for Jake to back away. He motioned for Jake to remain silent as well. He led Jake to the second array, then the third, fourth, and finally the fifth. When he motioned for Jake to head back to the airlock, Jake was bewildered since they hadn’t repaired even one communications array.

As soon as the inner airlock hissed open and they were pulling their helmets off, Jake started to speak but Derrick motioned for everyone, including the security force to remain silent. He led them away from the airlock and towards the engines. Once in the engine section, Derrick drew the security force together.

“All five arrays have been altered. There are transceivers attached that I have never seen before. I don’t know if I can disconnect one without the others exploding,” Derrick explained.

“Explode? Are you telling me we have explosives attached to the ship?” Jake asked.

“That’s what it appears to be. I took apart one of those energy weapons you brought back. The power cell and amplifier are the same on the array. I checked the other vital arrays while we were out and I didn’t see any others tampered with,” Derrick told them.

“Ok. There are five communication arrays. Ten security members will go out to deal with the arrays with five female members on overwatch. Jenkins will be the sixth and will be in charge of the overwatch. All others will remain inside the airlock unless we need you. We head back out in five, stay on comms. Derrick, explain to us exactly how to disable the transceivers and remove them from the ship. We only get one try to get those things off the ship,” Jake told them. “Jenkins, before you object, listen to my reasoning. You’re the senior female on the security force. Mira’s abilities don’t seem to affect females to the degree she does men. You have to be our eyes and ears. If she’s able to cloud our minds not to see something, I need you to call the play. If you say abort, we abort. If we don’t follow your call, you have to disable us,” Jake said.

“Disable? What are you saying, Jake?” Jenkins asked.

“I’m saying, it’s up to you to save the ship. Ten lives compared to a hundred and sixty,” Jake told her.

“I understand,” Jenkins replied.

The security force deployed once again, this time they all left the ship. The ten male members hovered over a different communication array with five female members with weapons trained on them. Jenkins watched and agonized over the possibility that she would have to be the one that gave the kill order if the male security members acted odd or refused to do the task at hand. Inside the ship, Galantine approached Mira’s cell. Seeing that all the security force were outside the ship, he was able to gain access with relative ease.

“Priestess Mira, forgive me. I now know I have been wrong to oppose Gilgamesh. My people will surely die if you don’t intercede for them. I offer you my life for theirs,” Galantine graveled at her feet as he knelt before her.

“You’re a worthless worm,” Mira growled. “How dare you beg for mercy when you have assaulted and killed the priests and soldiers of Gilgamesh? You hold in bondage a high priestess. Release me and return this craft to Gilgamesh immediately and I may speak on the behalf of your people but only after your life has been forfeited.”

“Please, Priestess, forgive. That’s all I beg for. Mercy for my people not for me,” Galantine graveled.

Mira screamed in frustration and pain as she double over, clutching at her head. She fell back onto the floor, blood running out of her ears and nose. Tears of blood pour from her eyes.

“What have you done?” Mira screamed.

“Checkmate,” Jake’s voice came over the communications link earbud Galantine had in his ear. “We’re coming back.”

The moment Jake’s security force severed the transceivers from the communications array, it terminated the signal Mira was receiving from Ceres. All the devices that had been implanted went offline and became just pieces of junk in her body. As junk, her body immediately began to expel the foreign objects. A medical team rushed into the cell to place Mira onto a gurney before rushing her to the medical section for treatment.

Jake and his team were able to complete their mission with the help of Jenkins and the overwatch team. Galantine’s confrontation with Mira lasted long enough to distract her from what Jake’s team was doing. At that moment, Galantine became one of the crew and less suspicion was cast upon him. With the communication array back to normal, the crew began to transmit around the clock in hopes of receiving some type of message back, but none were received. Even though Gilgamesh had highjacked the communications array, it hadn’t kept the signals from being received from Earth. Earth just wasn’t answering.

As the team returned to the ship, Jenkins pulled Jake aside, out of eyesight or earshot of any of the others.

“What’s up?” Jake asked Jenkins when they were alone.

Jake never saw the right hook coming as Jenkins nearly knocked him to the floor with the hit to his jaw.

“What the hell?” Jake demanded as he shook his head in response to the hit.

“Never and I mean never put me in that position again. Do you understand me?” Jenkins fumed.

“What? You are in a command role. I needed you to make sure the mission was a success or eliminate any possibility of failure. And yes that included the security team doing the repairs,” Jake said.

“Damnit, Jake,” Jenkins said.

Jake tried to speak but Jenkins stepped up to him, grabbed his suit, and pulled him close. Her lips pressed hard against his as the tough combat veteran melted against him. Jake returned the kiss with equal veracity.

“Do I have to say anything more?” Jenkins asked.

“I didn’t know. I’m sorry. I’ve been so focused on the mission,” Jake said.

“We all have. But things damn well happen, don’t they?” Jenkins said as she released Jake’s suit and stormed off.

The medical team was amazed at the number of devices that had been implanted in Mira. Everything from heightened senses to telescopic vision and night vision. She had oxygen recycling and subdermal thermal shielding that had allowed her to be exposed to the vacuum of space for several hours before feeling any ill effects. All those benefits had ceased when the signal from Gilgamesh had been severed. Jake felt sorry for her. He continued to go to her cell and sit, waiting for her to say something or respond.

Jenkins began to join Jake in the cell. She would sit and read poetry out loud or random stories that they had on the main server. Mira’s bright blue eyes were now dim green as if all desire to live had left her. It was three weeks before she uttered a single word.

“Mommy,” Mira said one day, startling Jake and Jenkins.

“Mommy?” Jake asked, realizing Mira had spoken but her lips didn’t match the word. “Get Galantine down here.” He ordered Jenkins.

“Commander Hughes to the prisoner’s cell, please,” Jake called over the ship’s communications system.

Ten minutes later found Galantine and Commander Hughes standing next to Jake as he knelt by a shaking Mira who was cowering in a corner of the makeshift cell. She looked frightened and small. Even Galantine shuddered at the sight of her. She was like a child, lost in the galaxy.

“She said ‘mommy’,” Jake said. “Her lips didn’t say mommy but we heard mommy. Is there any way that there is a second translation device implanted?”

“There is the possibility. We have no idea how advanced Gilgamesh’s technology is. No high priestess or priest has even been severed from Gilgamesh’s control before, so it is possible,” Galantine acknowledged.

“What’s your name?” Jenkins asked Mira as she knelt next to Jake and in front of Mira.

“Mommy calls me Mira but my brother calls me Bubbles,” Mira said. “Where is my mommy?”

“How old are you, Mira?” Jenkins asked.

“Six,” Mira responded.

“She’s speaking our language, my tribe’s language. She’s from my tribe? We never knew,” Galantine said.

“Are you sure?” Commander Hughes asked, needing confirmation.

“Yes, I am. She’s speaking an older dialect but it is our language. The way the translator is glitching when she speaks reminds me of the extremely old members of my tribe. Translators deteriorate over time. It takes centuries. From the signs, I’d say her translator is at least three thousand years old,” Galantine said. “I have heard that Gilgamesh took children to be conditioned for his priests, priestesses, and soldiers but I didn’t believe it until now. I always assumed that they were in his service by choice.”

“Evidently, some aren’t. Maybe all aren’t,” Commander Hughes wondered out loud.

“Mira, what is the last thing you remember?” Jenkins asked.

“Mommy was crying. The soldiers were carrying me away. They took me to the temple and a mean giant was laughing. Some pretty lady placed something over my mouth. Then I woke up here,” Mira said.

“Do you remember anything else?” Jenkins asked.

“Yeah, they put a mean lady in my head. I couldn’t do anything. She made me do things, bad things but I wasn’t the one doing them, she was. I hid from her in the dark place. She tried to find me but I hid well. She kept saying she had a lot to teach me. That my mommy didn’t love me but Gilgamesh did. She finally stopped calling out to me or trying to find me but I could hear things, bad things. Bad dreams,” Mira said.

“Do you hear those bad things now?” Jenkins asked.

“No. She’s gone. She’s gone, right?” Mira started crying and rocking back and forth against the wall.

“It’s ok, Mira. The bad lady is gone. We’ll help you if she returns,” Jenkins said, talking Mira into her arms and hugging her.

The two guards kept their weapons aimed at Mira in case it was a ploy to get everyone to drop their guard. But as the days and weeks went by, the Mira that had been the high priestess didn’t return. Additional brain and body scans were conducted. An EEG was attached for a week and the data was compiled.

“Mira has several devices still operational within her system. We missed them before because they have deteriorated over the years. She has a translation device that was surgically placed inside her brain, in the Broca’s area, located in the left inferior frontal cortex. When we first examined her, we were focusing on active or recently active devices so we missed them. There is also a device that is stimulating her regenerative abilities, much like Galantine’s people. We can’t be sure how old she is. Galantine says most of his people are over a thousand years old. According to him, he is over fifteen hundred years old per the Earth’s chronology,” Dr. Anderson briefed the command staff.

“Is it safe to allow her free run of the ship?” Commander Hughes asked.

“I can’t say. If the Priestess Mira programming is dormant in the older devices, she could reemerge,” Dr. Anderson said.

“Are we going to keep her locked up?” Jenkins asked. “She has the mind of a child.”

“She still poses a viable threat to this crew and this ship. I will not have her waltzing about unescorted,” Commander Hughes said.

“Then I’ll escort her,” Jenkins said. “And one other security member, preferably Jake since she knows him.”

“What do you say, Jake?” Commander Hughes asked.

“It’s fine with me. I know Galantine and several others have voiced their concerns for Mira. They want to re-integrate her into the tribe if possible. It could be a stepping stone for Galantine’s people to free those Gilgamesh has enslaved,” Jake said.

“Then it’s settled. Lieutenant Oglesby and Staff Sergeant Jenkins will take over guardianship of Mira for now. I want daily updates on her progress no matter how insignificant they may be and I want to be informed immediately if anything changes in her behavior to indicate an aggressive nature or that the Priestess Mira programming, as Dr. Anderson put it, resurfaces,” Commander Hughes said. “Jake, I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

“Me too. Me. Too,” Jake said.

AdventureFantasySci Fi
Like

About the Creator

Shawn David Kelley

Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments

There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.