Know Thy Enemy
The echo of Sida’s screams followed Blake and the others over the valley, as the Meylosian cruiser rushed them toward their fate.
The familiar, muffled voice came from the other side of the black wall of Non-Terrestrial squished against Blake’s right side. “Johansen?”
“Yes, sir,” she answered.
“Who else?” he asked.
“Lupo, sir.” Engineering Junior Grade, Torance Lupo, replied.
“And Kass, sir.”
Ensign Baron Kass was a medical officer Blake had never seen outside of the infirmary before and he prayed he wasn’t the only one Sida had ordered to join the field team. The thought of her and the rest of the crew being stranded on an unknown planet without a medic didn’t help his already foul mood. Especially, when he knew they’d most likely sustained injuries in all that chaos with the other patrol cruisers. Of course, that would only be a problem if the NT’s didn’t decide to cook them up for dinner. Fuck!
Blake ground his teeth in frustration, but he wasn’t completely irate. He would get captured a thousand times over if it meant his captain was free with a fighting chance of survival, and hopefully a rescue plan.
“Okay crew, as you’ve probably noticed, we’re dealing with the Meylos, who are supposed to be non-hostile neutrals. Filthy bleeding liars,” Blake swore, despite his lungs going numb from lack of space. “Just stay calm and I’ll get us out of this somehow. I doubt the opportunistic vultures want to go to war with Earth.”
The hot air that rushed over them wasn’t all natural, but enhanced by the cruiser’s energy field and proton net. The only thing Blake was grateful for was that he was facing the underbelly of the ship, rather than the valley far below. That would certainly make it difficult to think clearly. The trek over the jungle grew a little cooler as they passed over the large lake that followed. In no time, they were in the city that he and Sida had spied from the ridge, yet his limbs had still managed to turn into pin-prickling uselessness from lack of circulation. Noise assaulted them from every direction, but it was recognizable; the din of a bustling urban center.
The ship’s descent was somewhat nauseating and by the time it came to a hovering stop, a million different scenarios had already raced through Blake’s mind. A thousand logical steps to take. His adrenaline was still churning, while he tried to capture every new invasion to his senses. The net was slowly lowered and only a few seconds ticked by, before he felt solid ground beneath his back.
“Well, well, what do we have here?” The unmistakable nasal curl of a Meylosian’s voice questioned from somewhere nearby.
It was a male, though higher pitched than the average human male range. The Meylos accent was unique, sounding equally Austrian and British without any distinction between the two, yet warped into some kind of dual inflection.
“When I heard there were Earthlings running about the jungles, I just had to come see it for myself,” the speaker continued.
As the Meylos started his speech, the net was released and Blake’s lungs immediately inflated with the additional room, causing him to suck in huge, audible breaths. The relief from the weight and renewed circulation made his skin tingle painfully. He couldn’t even attempt to sit up while the feeling slowly returned to all his limbs. It didn’t seem to be an issue for the NT, though, who released a snarling battle cry and lunged off the tarmac. The Meylosian soldiers standing by merely cocooned him in his own personal proton net and watched him topple over onto the ground.
“Imagine my surprise in this moment to see that it’s not only true, but we have in our company, officers from Earth’s Galactic Navy, itself. To include its Commander,” the Meylos continued.
Blake and his team were lifted off the ground by the soldiers and their commentator finally came into view, stopping directly in front of Blake. His long, spindly finger ended in a talon and flicked the insignia embedded into the material of Blake’s AABV. It took a considerable amount of restraint not to deck the thing right in its ugly little face. Meylosians were supposed to be neutral diplomats, mediators and negotiators that helped set up mutually beneficial trade business between planetary systems. Blake had always found them to be an extremely pretentious race, but altogether harmless. They were the yuppies of the universe.
Blake towered over him, for the Meylos were quite petite in stature. They made up for it with the long, broad feathers that grew out of their narrow, oval scalps and curved backward like a headdress. This alone was their only distinguishing feature, each style, color and pattern unique to the individual or a genetic marker of their bloodline. Otherwise, they all looked the same. Pale coral skin, their noses nothing more than a thin spine down the center of their faces that ended in two small slits. Their mouths were small and scaled like a lizards, their eyes round and eerily identical to those of a baby Caiman’s. They were like the missing evolutionary link no one ever wanted to find.
“Last I heard, GINESS was welcome in the Meylos System,” Blake stated.
“But of course,” the Meylosian gestured grandly to their surroundings. “You, I’m afraid, will not be seeing the Meylos System anytime soon, Commander. Toss them on the transleigh.”
Blake didn’t fight when those orders were followed out by the soldiers. He and his crew watched as the NT was lifted onto his own separate sleigh, still trapped in a net. Cargo sleighs were designed to hold up to five tons without losing altitude, which was only about three and a half feet off the ground. The Meylos leader lounged across the buffer ledge at the front of their sleigh, staring down from his mild perch at Blake and his three unfortunate crewmates. Pretentious bastard. The sleighs started moving, heading off the brightly lit tarmac and into one of the large hangars that were open at both ends.
“You and I both know you didn’t come here by ship, Commander,” their captor spoke, as if there had been no lapse in the conversation.
The nice thing about dealing with narcissists was they enjoyed the sound of their own voices so much, they tended to reveal pertinent information in their outpouring of bullshit, with next to no prodding. The truths were typically springboards for their embellishments, easily transliterated into vital details by applying sheer common sense. Blake didn’t know which was more pathetic, that they were so transparent or that they actually believed they weren’t?
“We are on a planet in the most remote outer reaches of space, that with Earth’s rudimentary jumping technology, would take generations for your people to reach by ship, without any detours or delays.”
Blake looked down at the sleigh beneath him and then around the large hangar full of cargo. “So, the natives here trade with their imaginary friends?”
Okay, perhaps he was a little cranky and too sore to muster the pretense of civility. He’d just spent the better part of three weeks on a dust-filled planet with little oxygen, a slight hangover and a nagging libido he hadn’t been able to slake, only to end up on a potentially volcanic planet full of spear-wielding NT’s and not so non-hostile Meylosians. He wasn’t a frigging android. The unexpected jab served its purpose, at any rate, causing Mr. Arrogant to pause in the middle of his “I’m an evil villain” monologue and lean right into Blake’s face.
Blake leaned back just as slowly, to keep the distance between them the same at all times and never broke eye-contact. Johansen was directly behind him, so Blake used the exaggerated motion to distract the birdbrain from the fact that he was grabbing the fixall laser tool out of Johansen’s AABV. He shoved it up his sleeve, because he knew they’d be stripped of their vests once they got to wherever they were going. He wasn’t about to get imprisoned without a Plan B.
“Your kind has always been so crude, so unrefined. It’s a cosmic wonder you ever made it out of your caves, let alone your planet’s atmosphere,” the Meylosian sneered. Maybe. It was really hard to tell.
“At least we don’t look like we still belong in them,” Blake remarked.
“If you must know, the beings that trade in this region of space are so far beyond your scope of perceived intellect and grandeur, that the chance of your kind ever meeting them redefines the meaning of ‘worst odds’,” he continued, talking right over Blake’s insult. “Elite races from these most advanced civilizations would never bother making contact with any of the insignificant star-systems you know of.”
“I know of yours,” Blake smiled coolly. “And I’d like to see how you plan to explain this to the United Federation of Earth’s Intergalactic Alliance.”
“I won’t be explaining anything to anyone,” the Meylos answered. “I’ve never met you or any of your crew and my people know nothing of this planet or what happens here. We are a neutral race with no ties to any alliance or their laws.”
Make that pretentious underhanded bastards!
That was fine, though. They had plenty of those on Earth and Blake knew exactly how to handle them. He’d never had much patience for the sport of manipulation. He’d earned his stripes by being the best without having to kiss anyone’s ass in the process, because both GINESS and the Galactic Bureau of Exploration and Scientific Research liked his results far more than they hated his attitude. That and they knew he could just as easily ditch the regulations and protocol and make a killing on the Galactic Black Market running his own Starblood smuggling operation.
The only reason he didn’t, was because then his crew would be made up of untrustworthy mercs carrying around their own shitty attitudes and a pension for mutiny, while competing with the universe’s worst mobsters. None of which gave a lick about the lives, ecosystems or general planetary stability of other worlds. Blake could be a dick, he even wore the badge with pride most days, but he wasn’t into mass genocide for profit.
“Now, Commander, why don’t you tell me who else you have here on Pralldex with you. Your Captain, undoubtedly,” the Meylosian picked up again. “It’s only a matter of time before we find and capture them all. My cruisers never return empty.”
Blake nearly pointed out that two of his cruisers hadn’t returned at all, but that would only confirm the Meylosian’s suspicions, which he wasn’t about to voluntarily do.
“I’m afraid you caught me on my first solo mission that our captain entrusted me to lead.” He scowled grimly for affect. “Just a small group of scientists trying to find more alien bugs to add to our collection.”
The Meylosian glanced over his shoulder toward the end of the hangar they were rapidly approaching and came very close to smiling, when he looked back to Blake.
“I have a feeling your answer is about to change, Commander,” he said confidently.
Blake spread his hands in an innocent gesture, retaining his bluff. Then the sleigh veered left out of the hangar and right into a docking station full of Nortokian Class B fighter ships. Dread didn’t even begin to cover the sinking weight in the pit of Blake’s gut, because as far as the universe’s worst mobsters went, Nortoks made them all look like fucking amateurs.
♥ Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more of this SciFi serial, or if you like a little more fantasy in your alternate worlds, check out Thief of Dragons under The Wicked Web on the menu bar. There’s already 25 episodes available and counting! 🙂