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The Judas Kiss

How far would you go to save humanity?

By Andy ortegaPublished 3 months ago 31 min read
The Judas Kiss
Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

"Oxygen levels normal, carbon levels normal, gravity .3% heavier than Earth’s. No toxicity in the air detected, no harmful viruses or germs in the air detected, UV levels are non-threatening. Temperature within survivable standards, all other tests have verified that this planet is within survivable standards even without a survival suit. You can take off your survival suit if you so choose Commander Wren."

After getting the green light from Eve I took off my helmet, the coolness of unfiltered air from the planet washed over my face and slowly enveloped the rest of my body. I took a deep breath, letting the same fresh air flow in me through my nose. It was as if cool water was hydrating my body that had been deprived of natural air for far too long, filling my soul with a comfort that I hadn’t felt in my entire life of breathing the artificial and heavily filtered air on the numerous ships I’ve been on. The feeling was surreal, it felt as if I regained something that I didn’t even know I was missing in the first place. A part of my own humanity that I hadn't known belonged to me. One breath, such a simple act, and yet it caused such a strong mental and emotional reaction.

Eve apparently seeing that my heart rate increased asked if everything was okay. She may be one of the most advanced A.I secretly gifted to me by my closest friend but even she is capable of making mistakes, worrying that she might’ve miscalculated the livability of the atmosphere. I assured Eve that everything was fine, I began to look at my surroundings, really look at them. I've only ever seen movies and documentaries depicting old Earth but seeing trees and dirt in such a natural setting right in front of me was much different than seeing it on a screen. This moment would have filled me with a sense of awe and only awe but it didn’t. Something about this forest that expanded in front of me gave me a sense of foreboding, though I wasn't quite sure what was causing me to feel so unsettled. Our initial scans of the planet on entry told me there was life on here, small, big, and unimaginably huge. I had to double-check my scanners to make sure they weren’t glitching when I saw what I first thought was a mountain begin to slowly move along the planet's surface.

After staring at the forest for a few minutes I turned around and headed back into my ship. I stripped the survival suit and put on one of the lighter sets of combat armor, one that focused more on speed and maneuverability than defense. This set came with boosters in the feet and back that allowed for quick vertical and horizontal movement as well as slowing my descent in case I needed to jump off any high terrain. After putting on my armor I walked to one side of the ship and entered a code on one of the screens attached to the wall. After verifying my code the weapons locker unlocked and opened revealing an assortment of pistols, rifles, machine guns, and explosives. I grabbed two thermal grenades and put them on my belt wrapped around my waist. I grabbed my pistol and let it magnetically stick to the holster on my left thigh. Lastly, I grabbed an assault rifle and placed that in a magnetic holster on my back. I pressed a button that sealed the weapons vault and ran A diagnostics test on all my gear making sure they were functioning the way they were supposed to.

Eve was checking and double-checking a few small things that I missed including my helmet and my O.I.Cs (ocular information collectors). They were high-tech contact lenses. I didn’t fully understand the science behind it but apparently, once they’re placed over your eyes they form some sort of connection to the electric waves in your brain. They will automatically show the basic information you should know like anything related to the atmosphere. If you are in a squad then usually your O.I.Cs are linked showing each other your vitals and showing where each other are on a mini map and how far away you are from each other. But since I wasn’t with a squad the only bright blue dot on the mini map was myself. The rest of the map was constantly being updated as soon as my eyes looked over something new.

I stepped down the ramp extending from the back of my ship, my metal combat boots thumping loudly with each step. As my feet landed on dirt the sound of my footsteps became quieter. A metal disk with blue light seeping from its circular edge detached itself from my back and hovered next to me. It was Eve, not really though since she was actually an A.I. but for all intents and purposes, this disk was Eve’s body, an extension of herself. This disk had its own sensors and cameras so it acted as another pair of helpful eyes. And on the unlikely chance that we run into some technology that isn't human, this disk is equipped with the necessary tools to scan it and if we're lucky access it.

Eve was hovering a few feet away from me to my right. The disk was leveled with my shoulder, a slight hum from its thrusters was the only sound it made as it moved along with me step by step.

"Commander" Eve’s voice came from the comms unit inside my helmet, her voice was laced with concern which I found oddly thrilling considering she was an A.I..

“What's up?” I replied as I continued to walk, we entered the forest roughly ten minutes ago.

The trees looked normal enough but the unsettling feeling that I had felt earlier seemed to get worse with every step I took.

"Something is...odd about this forest, I don't really know how to explain it since our scans aren’t showing anything abnormal but please be on guard."

Eve’s warning only fed my paranoia. I started to feel like I was actually in danger. I stopped walking and looked around, I was now completely surrounded by trees and at some point a blanket of fog rolled in, thick enough that I couldn't see my ship anymore. The ship was tagged on my mini-map so I wasn't concerned about not finding my way back. What did concern me was that now I was certain something was wrong, it was only after I stopped walking and focused did I finally realize what it was. All the documentaries and movies of old earth’s forests and jungles were teeming with life, loud and obnoxious bugs, birds, small critters, and the occasional large animal. Of course, I knew this planet wouldn’t have an exact resemblance to old Earth but for the most part animal behaviors should fundamentally be the same no matter what planet you are on. Remembering those documentaries and movies is what really made me hone in on the problem that I was struggling to identify. When I did it was extremely obvious…...sound.

Not seeing any sizable creatures only twenty or so minutes after entering the forest was understandable, but no birds were chirping, no bugs, no small animals, and even the soft breeze didn’t rustle the leaves on the trees. It was silent, nothing made a sound. An unnatural silence, a silence that’s caused by something. And that thought made my heart beat faster, my eyes darted all around, left, right, up, down. What is this? What's causing this and why? I felt a creeping feeling, not unlike the feeling of thinking there’s something in a dark room that you can’t see, watching you.

Then I saw movement from just beyond the fog. I focused my eyes on that spot and the O.I.Cs immediately understood my intention and began to slightly zoom my vision in on the silhouette

“Is that……a person?”

"commander?" Eve sounded confused but I ignored her and slowly made my way to the figure that began to look more and more like a person.

The stranger then turned to me and began walking, their pace relaxed and unhurried. As I got closer I realized the stranger had the same armor as me.

“Hello,” I said in a clear voice as I waved one hand. The stranger stopped at the same time I did, and then he also raised his hand in the same way I did, mimicking my movements but still not saying a word. I took my helmet off to show my face but he made no movement to suggest he would do the same.

“Which ship from the U.F.H. (United Fleet of Humanity) are you from?” still the stranger said nothing. “Buddy you're gonna have to give me something to work with here.”

"Commander!" Eve was trying to get my attention the whole time I was interacting with the mute but this was the first time she yelled.

“What Eve! Can’t you see I'm busy trying to figure this guy out?”

"Figure what guy out?"

“The guy standing right in front of me, turn your camera in the direction I'm facing.”

"Commander I'm looking in the same direction you are, there's no one there."

“What? You think I'm just making this up, he's literally standing right in front of us."

After a brief moment, a screen popped up in the corner of my view (courtesy of the O.I.Cs) that showed the same scene I was looking at now, the trees, the fog, the dirt. The only thing that was missing was the stranger standing in front of me.

“What are you showing me Eve?”

"I'm showing you what I'm seeing from my point of view." another screen popped up showing the same thing but this time from a slightly different angle.

"That's the image that your O.I.Cs are transmitting."

Again it showed everything except the stranger standing only ten meters in front of me.

"were you messing with me when you said there's a person there, cause I may be an A.I. but even I can get annoyed, Commander."

This didn’t make any sense, I can see this guy clear as day right in front of me. But at the same time the sensors can’t just not see a person. All my equipment passed their checks which means my equipment isn’t malfunctioning…..

“This doesn’t make any sense.” I look over the stranger in front of me, scanning him up and down, taking in every minute detail that might help me find an answer to whatever the hell was going on right now.

Then I found it, a small chip on one of the shoulder plates, it's something you’d miss even if you were paying attention. The only reason I was able to spot it was because I had the exact same chip on my shoulder plate from a firefight I was involved in with some radicals a couple of years back. The damage to the shoulder plate was much worse than the chip I have now but the armorers were able to fix most of it. The reason a chip is still missing was because we were short on raw materials back then and they couldn’t finish the repairs all the way. The more I look at this guy in front of me the more similarities I find in our armor. No, not just similarities, we were identical. And that shouldn’t be possible, it’s not possible. I swallow hard as I take a few tentative steps backward, “Eve I want you to scan my brain for any abnormalities.”

"Right now?"

“I'm seeing a person that according to everything else isn't here, which means something is wrong with me. Yes right now.” I commanded.

Eve didn’t respond but I knew that just meant she was performing the scan.

"What the hell…."

“What is it?”

"I'm not sure, your Dorsolateral prefrontal right cortex is showing some pretty abnormal behavior."

"Dorsola….speak English!”

"It's the part of your brain that handles perception or at least most of it."

“Are you telling me my brain is messed up?” That's the last thing a mission like this needs, a soldier whose brain isn’t working properly.

"No, I run a mental and physical test on you every morning and there was nothing wrong with you this morning…" I could tell she wanted to say more but she was holding herself back for some reason.

“But there's something wrong with me now? All I've done is take a walk in the woods. How does that cause me any brain damage?” At first, I was skeptical of Eve when she said there was no one in front of me but now it's starting to look more like the truth.

The entire time me and Eve have been talking the stranger hadn’t moved an inch, he was as still as a statue and he still hadn’t said anything either.

"Commander I'm looking at these readings and though I can't say with certainty it looks like something is…..manipulating your brain waves in that area."

“What? How can something manipulate what I see?”

‘It's kind of like how drugs or alcohol can make you hallucinate…but that's more of an unintentional side effect of those things but this….this looks almost deliberate, like something is shaping your brain waves.’.

So this is all just an elaborate hallucination? But the guy in front of me looks so real. I took a few steps forward, there's only one way to find out and that's by physically touching him. I'll either feel nothing at all when I reach for him or if he’s real we’re both about to share a really awkward moment together. I take a few more steps until I'm within arm's reach, then I reach out to touch his chest. Just before my fingers make contact with his suit I hear one of the branches above my head snap. After not hearing anything other than my conversation with Eve, the sudden snapping sound startled me. I dropped my helmet which I had tucked under my arm and quickly drew my pistol and aimed it up, expecting to see some creature resembling a bird or some other small animal.

It was not a bird.

The first word to pop into my head was, hideous. This creature looked nothing like any animal I've ever seen, truly alien. It had six long spindly legs, with a torso as big as a transport container; the big ones used to transport vehicles. This creature had two heads if that's even the right definition for those things, really it had two circular mouths at the end of two very long necks, those mouths were open showing endless rows of teeth. It didn’t have any eyes, ears, or a nose, none visible anyway. What it did have were four snail-like antennas sticking out from each head. They were stretching out from where the mouth was giving the creature's “face” a flat appearance.

“Eve, please tell me you don’t see that” My voice barely came out as a whisper.

"You mean that creature that looks like it came straight from the worst nightmare you could possibly have? ....I see it clear as day."

Eve’s voice was just as quiet, she wasn’t hovering around anymore but staying still in the spot that she was at. I was also doing my best not to move but we weren’t the only ones staying as still as possible. The creature above us hadn’t moved a muscle. It was so still that you could’ve mistaken it for a very detailed statue. There wasn’t even a sign that it was breathing. We continued to stare each other down.

"Commander we need to get out of here, that thing is as big as our ship, and judging by that rough-looking skin I don’t think we’re properly equipped to…."

whatever Eve was going to say she didn’t finish because at that moment one of the creature's heads shot down at surprising speed considering its size. I rolled out of the way just in time. I felt the ground shake from the impact. The other head must be somehow tracking my movement because now its mouth was pointed at me. It let out a high-pitched screech that grated at my ears. Normally my helmet would protect me from such things. I shot multiple times at the head that was half buried in the ground.

It was no good, the red laser blasts didn’t even singe its skin. The creature detached its legs from the trees and dropped to the ground. The ground shook under its weight. The attacking head was still struggling to pull itself out from the dirt while the other one was slowly making its way towards me.

"Wren run!" Eve’s yelling pulled me out of my initial shock as I turned around and started running as fast as I could. It hadn’t even been ten seconds till I heard a loud screech, then a second one. The other head must’ve finally been able to pull itself out.

"It's coming!" Eve was probably looking through her back camera, seeing it give chase. I didn’t need to see it to know, I could feel the ground vibrate under its charge.

"Wren dodge to your left!" I took a quick side step to my left, never breaking stride as I kept running.

As soon as I sidestepped one of its long necks shot past my right side and bit into one of the trees which were not thin by any standard. I hoped maybe that its head would be stuck into the tree and buy me a little time. But as it began to retract, the larger canines that had dug into the tree tugged for only a moment before tearing a huge chunk of it off with violent force. The tree now missing most of its center began to splinter and collapse on itself. As it crashed down beside me I was momentarily shocked to see how tall it actually was.

It was easily as tall as an office building. I felt the creature getting closer, there was no way I was going to outrun it. I had no choice but to fight. I activated the thrusters on my feet and back and shot up from the ground. I pulled out my rifle and spun around so that I was now facing the charging monstrosity. I held down the trigger, spraying the creature's head with laser blasts. My eyes widened in horror as the creature's charge continued under the shower of red coming from my rifle, it wasn’t slowing down at all. I flew higher as I continued to shoot, I knew it wasn’t doing much but I had to do something. At the very least being this high should put me somewhat out of danger.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The creature using the tips of its six legs was impaling the trees and lifting itself upward. Using the trees as foot placements it charged up toward me with both mouths wide open. My heart was pounding in my chest, I wasn't safe on the ground and my thrusters weren’t powerful enough to take me higher than I already was. This thing was going to eat me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. The dread and fear was overwhelming. I could almost taste it.

"Wren, use a thermal grenade!" I heard Eve yell next to me where she was flying.

I let out a self-deprecating chuckle "That's not going to help, look at that thing.”. Sure the grenades packed a bigger punch than the rifle but even so I seriously doubted it would do any real damage to the creature.

My thrusters ignited on their own, spinning me around and launching me away from the creature. I was barely keeping myself out of reach of its two long necks, its mouths snapping at my heels.

"Get your head out of your ass Wren! Are you trying to let that thing eat you!" I was breathing fast, almost to the point of hyperventilating,

“what do I do? What can I do against something like that? I can’t kill it! I can’t outrun it! What do I do!”

"Place a thermal grenade right there!" one of the trees in front of me highlighted and a small circle appeared on it, indicating where Eve wanted me to stick the grenade.

“What the hell is that going to do!”

"Just trust me!"

I cursed loudly and pulled out one of the thermal grenades. As I flew past I stuck the grenade on the tree. The default timer for these grenades was five seconds, so after four seconds I turned my head just enough to see the grenade explode. The creature paid no mind to the grenade placed on the tree as it probably assumed there was nothing I could do to hurt it. And it was right, what it didn’t consider is that I could still slow it down. As the creature continued to charge its frontmost right leg impaled the tree that the grenade was stuck to. As it was using that leg to carry its weight to the next set of trees the grenade exploded. The explosion didn’t cause any significant damage to the creature's leg itself except maybe some burns. But the part of the tree it was stabbed into was now gone. Suddenly having nothing to secure its footing on the leg that was carrying all of its weight the creature began to fall. It couldn't adjust itself in time as it fell head-first into the ground.

We were at least a hundred and fifty feet high so the resulting crash was loud. Bullets are one thing but gravity will hurt anything no matter how tough your skin was, at least that was my hope when I saw the creature impact the ground. And I was right, though the creature didn’t die from the fall it was getting up slowly, its movements sluggish. It was at the very least disorientated, now was the time for me to get away. I spun around and pushed my thrusters to their limit. I wanted to get as far away as possible as fast as possible.

A holographic warning sign popped up under my mini map. It indicated that my thrusters were beginning to overheat. I eased on the thrusters and rolled onto the ground, bursting into a full-on sprint as soon as I got back up. I felt the vibrations in the ground again, the creature was on the move. Two loud screeches echoed throughout the forest, It sounded really pissed off.

I could just make out a clearing ahead of me, it wasn’t far.

"There’s a cliff coming up Wren… you're going to have to jump.”

I looked at the status of my thrusters, I'd be able to activate them but only barely. They were still extremely close to overheating, if I tried using them they would probably only turn on for about three seconds before shutting off again. I voiced this likely outcome to Eve

“If I jump, these thrusters won’t be able to completely stop my fall. I’ll break my leg and that's if I'm lucky.”

We reached the clearing and stopped just short of the edge of the cliff. I looked down and saw that we were well over a thousand feet up. I looked back over my shoulder and saw the monster charging us,

"Either break some bones or get eaten alive, your choice commander." The monster would be on me in a few moments, I didn't have time to ponder this decision.

Bracing myself for the pain that I was about to feel, I clenched my fists and jumped off the cliff. Floating around in zero gravity was one thing but plummeting to the surface of a planet and being pulled down by gravity was another. Any semblance of control I felt I had over my body was gone, my legs and arms were stiff from the force I was putting into them to prevent them from flailing around. The seconds of falling dragged on as it felt like I was falling much longer than I really was. I had to time the activation of my thrusters perfectly if I didn't want to end up as a splatter of meat and bones.

A little before my body hit the ground I activated my thrusters at their full power. The transition from free falling to a forceful stop caused my body to jerk in an extremely painful way. Though it only felt like a forceful stop because of how much I slowed down, I was still falling at a dangerous level of speed. As I had thought, at maximum output the thrusters only lasted a few seconds before automatically shutting down to prevent irreparable damage from overheating. I hit the ground hard, hearing and feeling multiple cracks from my body. I cursed loudly as I pulled my mangled left leg towards my chest, trying to assess how badly it was damaged.

My leg was broken, no doubt about that. Judging from the very sharp pain in my side at least one of my ribs is fractured. I felt blood running down the left side of my face. I reached up and felt around my head until I found the source, a large cut just under my hairline. All things considered, I was very fortunate that these were the only injuries I sustained.

"Wren you’ve got to get moving!" Eve hovered down next to me, urgency was in her voice.

“Give me a damn second.” I groaned through gritted teeth. I began to stand, slowly and painfully.

Pushing most of my weight on my good leg. Even though that leg wasn’t broken it wasn’t exactly in great shape either. My side felt like someone reached inside and was squeezing my flesh and bone together in a tight grip. I began to drag myself to the trees that were a short distance away from the cliffside. Eve tried helping the best she could, she hovered under my left arm and acted as a sort of crutch to ease the burden on my injured leg. It helped but the pace that I was moving was still slow. Just as I reached the treeline I heard two loud screeches, though far the sound was still just as terrifying. I looked up and saw the creature, its two long necks bent downward and though it had no eyes visible to me I knew it was looking at me. I could tell it knew exactly where I was. But it couldn’t get to me, the creature was smart and because it was smart I knew it wouldn’t jump down the cliff and risk seriously injuring itself. As I was having these thoughts the creature began to move. It raised one of its front pointed legs and reached over the edge of the cliff. The leg came downward and began to prod the cliffside. I had made it to one of the trees on the outer edge of the forest and leaned on it as I observed the creature.

"What is it doing?"

“I don’t know.” Eve and I continued to observe the creature as it kept carefully tapping the cliffside.

I began to notice each tap had more force than the tap before it. After about a dozen taps it raised its leg and thrust it into the cliffside with great force. A good portion of its leg was now securely lodged into the cliffside. My eyes widened as I slowly began to realize what it might be doing.

“Oh my God, don’t tell me it’s trying to…” Before I could finish the creature started stabbing its legs into the cliff, slowly but surely lowering itself down the side.

It was using its legs like stakes, securing itself to the cliff as it started making its way down….toward me. What little strength left in my legs disappeared as I slid to the ground, my back resting on the tree.

"Wren we have to go!" I let out a soft laugh as I stared at the surreal sight of this massive beast climbing down a cliff.

Go? Go where? How? Am I supposed to run? In the state, I am now? I can’t even I can't even stand let alone run. There's nothing I can do now, nowhere to hide and nowhere to run. A person can’t escape from a monster like that.

“It's over…I'm going to die.” Eve’s disk hovered right in front of my face, she was screaming which now that I think about it is a little strange how she knows how to scream like that.

"No! Get up and start moving! You can’t just let yourself die!"

I smiled at her, ironic that my last memory of being cared for would come from her, an A.I., not even an actual person.

“You should leave Eve, go back to the ship, and report back to the fleet.” Silence filled the space between us as she continued to hover in front of me. When she spoke again she had a sort of resignation in her voice.

"You’re really not going to run?" I let out another small laugh.

“Look at me.” I raised both arms, “I'm not physically capable of running or fighting anymore.”

I lowered my arms and stared at the dirt, “There's no point in either against something like that.”

Eve continued to hover in front of me, “Go Eve.”

She began to move away from me, it looked like she was going to follow my order until she moved to the side a little then moved next to me, setting herself on the ground.

"My job, my purpose is to assist and protect you. If you're not going then I'm not going either."



A genuine smile formed on my lips, though the company wasn’t human I was glad that I wasn’t going to die alone. A loud thud shook the ground….then a second, then a third, fourth, fifth, sixth. The creature was now on ground level with me, about fifty meters away. It approached slowly, it knew I could no longer run away from it. Maybe it was because of the pain I was feeling or the blood flowing from the gash on my head. But to me, it felt like it was taking pleasure in this, in closing in on helpless prey. One that was more troublesome than it probably originally thought. But in the end, this is where we ended up. Me broken and beaten, and it looming ominously over me like some kind of deity. It raised both heads, extending its necks to their maximum length. It looked down on me, this is going to hurt, I thought to myself. I closed my eyes and resigned myself to what would most likely be a very painful death.

A loud sound filled the air, the sound of something being propelled by thrusters. I recognized the sound only seconds before I saw the source of it. Two missiles impacted the creature, one on its front left leg and another hitting the side of its body. The creature roared in pain. The side of its body had a chunk missing from where the missile impacted. The creature tried running away but when it did, the leg that got hit by the other missile suddenly snapped in half. The creature stumbled for only a moment before picking itself back up and running past me into the forest screeching in pain the entire time.

It took me a moment to process what happened but when I finally did my ship swept in from the sky and slowly descended in front of me, landing softly on the ground. How is my ship here?

"That was way too close, stupid fog kept messing with my connection to the ship.", I turned and looked at my A.I. companion that was hovering in front of me.

“You can control the ship?”

"Yeah, I tried to get it to us as soon as we saw that thing but for some reason that fog has a sort of jamming effect that I couldn’t get around till we got down here."

I let out a long sigh, “Better late than never I suppose.”

I tried standing up but a sharp pain ran up my leg immediately bringing me back to the ground. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off all of my cuts, bruises, and broken bones were radiating pain. I was prompted to grit my teeth even if I was just adjusting my sitting position. Eve noticed my discomfort immediately,

"There's more of you that's broken than there is that’s not commander, I'll grab some medical equipment from the ship then we can.." she cut herself off and tilted upward so that now her main camera was facing the sky. Something had obviously caught her attention.

“What is it?” my body tensed.

I didn’t know what it was she was seeing but with the way our luck has been it probably wasn’t anything good. I mentally prepared myself the best I could to face whatever threat had locked onto us this time. But what she said caught me completely off guard.

"A ship just entered the atmosphere……it's one of ours!" Hearing her elated voice made my whole body deflate.

I couldn’t believe it, after a whole year of not seeing another person. Being so close to death would make the reunion of fellow soldiers that much sweeter. Hopefully, they sent people I know.

“But why are they here?” Of course, I welcomed their company but I didn't understand why the U.F.H sent someone here already.

"I sent a report as soon as we found out the air was breathable. This must be the follow-up team." Eve said.

That made sense, we dropped a warp node before entering the atmosphere so that the fleet could send people immediately as soon as they got the report of a habitable world.

“Send them our location and double-check that our beacon is working and not getting jammed by the fog.” The fog wasn’t nearly as thick down here but better safe than sorry.

Though it seemed that my concern was unwarranted, "I already did, they’ve locked on to our coordinates and are making their way to us now."

As my eyes swept across the sky, a ship broke through the clouds. It was a little larger than my own ship, probably to accommodate a larger crew. It dove from the clouds and flew in some unnecessary but fancy maneuvers, then pulled up sharply a few hundred meters above the treeline. Whoever was flying that ship was certainly enjoying themselves. The ship made its way towards us, coming to a steady stop as it arrived and landed not far from where we were.

Four people were walking down the ramp of the ship. Three males and one female, they all had light armor on but none of them were wearing their helmets. That struck me as a bit odd but then again today has been full of surprises.

“Are you commander Wren?” The man who asked me the question was a head taller than the rest and from what I could tell had a sturdy build.

“I am, also I'm fine thanks for asking.” he seemed like the serious type so I tried to make a light-hearted joke about my injuries, but the man didn’t even crack a smile. I get that it might’ve been made in poor taste but the least he could do was humor me after all I've been through.

“You look like hell commander.” This time it was the woman who spoke.

“You should see the other guy” I replied, something about her seemed familiar, almost nostalgic.

“By the way, have we met before?” I asked, she gave me a soft smile, it looked kind of sad even. “You were my mentor during my first year in the force.”, she said.

Her mentor? That means…. “Lydia? Wow, look at you all grown up."

I gave her a wide smile, she was a good soldier with a firm set of principles. I was glad her career was going well for her. Though when I said that she looked conflicted, hesitant even. Did I offend her? No, she wasn’t that soft, so I decided to ignore that look for now. We could catch up later, after I've given them a full debrief and treated my injuries.

“So I know I was joking about it earlier but I could actually use your guys’s help….” I slowly and painfully began to stand up.

After brushing off some of the dirt clinging to my armor I looked up and froze. The big man, who I assumed was their leader, was leveling a pistol right at my head.


What the hell is happening right now? Who are these people and why is one of them pointing a gun at Wren? I’ve been scanning through all the databases since they first stepped off their ship and I found nothing in them about who any of these people were.

“What the hell is this?” his joking attitude was now gone, Wren stared down the group in front of us.

He was standing now, though slightly hunched, he was still badly injured and in no condition for any sort of fight.

“Please understand commander…” the tall one spoke, his voice low.

Though he mostly maintained a serious expression, I could see the faintest sign of conflict on it as well. The woman on the other hand looked downright guilt-ridden, she said Wren was his mentor. Maybe I can get through to her somehow. The tall one continued to speak,

“Your service and contributions to humanity have not gone unappreciated, and your sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

“Well, that sounds ominous,” Wren replied mockingly. “So you're going to kill me? Could you at least tell me why? I deserve that much don't I?”

The tall one lowered his gun ever so slightly, “You wouldn’t understand even if I tried to explain it to you, just know that this is for the greater good of humanity.” as he was raising his gun again I spoke up.

"Wait!" startled, the other three pulled out their weapons and pointed them at me. “What the hell is that?” one of the other two men asked.

"You, Lydia, are you seriously ok with this?" At this point, I couldn't save Wren, but this woman could. From what I can see she seems to have some doubts about everything that's happening.

Lydia narrowed her eyes, “who are you?”

"I’m an A.I assigned to Commander Wren. What reason do fellow soldiers of the U.F.H. have to kill one of their own comrades? This is wrong!’

The tall one kept his pistol leveled at Wren’s head as he spoke to me.

“Wrong? It's not as simple as right and wrong when the fate of the entire human race is at stake.”

"So you're telling me, letting the Commander live will put humanity at risk? What kind of sense does that make?" the tall one let out a sigh

“I'm not going to try and justify myself to an A.I.” He turned his head back to the commander, “I truly am sorry.”

Wren stared back defiantly, not letting any of them see even a glimpse of fear from him. Though I knew better, I was able to read most of his vitals, I could see how fast his heart was beating. When Wren spoke it was soft but all could hear him,

“No, you’re not…..but you will be.”

not even a second after Wren said his last word the tall one shot him in the head, one precise shot, right between the temples. Wren’s body crumpled, he was dead before he even hit the ground.


“Destroy it.” The other three shot up the techno disk I was using as my body.

Under the fire of three rifles, I didn't last long. The damage quickly became too much as I dropped to the ground. I was full of holes but was still operational, though barely. The tall one must’ve considered the same thing,

“place a charge on that thing, make sure there's nothing left.” After giving his order he began to walk away. As one of the other men prepared a charge Lydia spoke up.

“Captain.” The tall one stopped and turned around.

“I would…..please let me bury the commander.” The tall one who was addressed as captain for the first time held Lydia with a stern gaze.

“If you hold this much sentiment every time we are called to do our jobs it's going to mess with your head.”

He seemed to be chastising her for feeling remorse about killing Wren. Despite his harsh words Lydia held firm,

“I understand captain, but he was my mentor, I had a personal connection to him. Also, you know of Commander Wren’s accomplishments as much as I do. He deserves at least this much.”

The Captain seemed to consider her request for a moment before ultimately coming to a decision,

“No, sanitize the area and make sure that there's nothing that can be traced back to us. Once you're done, return to the ship, I want to get back to the fleet as soon as possible.” Lydia’s jaw tightened as she clenched her fists,

she replied, “Understood Captain”

she turned around to carry out her orders, at the same time the man setting the charges on me was finishing up. A timer was counting down when the charge would be set off. As soon as everyone completed their tasks they returned to their ship. Thirty seconds, the ship's thrusters came to life, slowly lifting their ship off the ground. I Adjusted my camera to look at where Wren’s ship was. It was nothing more than a fireball now, what little remained of the ship was being warped from the heat of the raging fire. Fifteen seconds, I adjusted my camera so that I was once again looking at the ship carrying the hit squad. It was now moving at a much higher speed, making its way to the upper atmosphere. I lost sight of the ship as it entered a blanket of clouds. Ten seconds, I’ll make sure they face the full consequences for murdering Wren. I hope they can enjoy the short amount of time they have left. I'm going to come for every single one of them. Five seconds, four, three, two, one.


Thanks to anyone who actually made it to the end haha, this was actually one of the first things I ever wrote. I've just never published it anywhere until now. I do want to expand this story but we'll see how it goes.

thrillerSeriesSci Fi

About the Creator

Andy ortega

I love writing fantasy and sci-fi but I also write the occasional heartfelt drama. I hope to connect with many writers on this platform and write amazing stories for everyone.

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (2)

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  • Jennifer David3 months ago

    i definitely would not want to make an enemy out of ai. they have a mind of their own wonderful story telling

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