Daxion: Chapter One

It was my turn for night patrol inside the ship.  I didn’t mind, it gave me time to think about my family back home, wonder if they were still safe.  

As the oldest of ten, it’s my responsibility to look out for my younger siblings. When I joined the military, it was with their protection in mind.  

Here, cut off from the rest of the war, I’d heard nothing. I could only hope.

The night shift went about their normal business on the second level, constantly maintaining the ship, trying to conduct repairs, and working with the humans.  

Sakev’s friends, Tona and Skit, were particularly enthusiastic about learning the ship’s systems and proving their worth. I admired their tenacity to prove themselves, especially since Skit was so tiny compared to the rest of us.

Level three checked out.  I double checked all the doors that were supposed to be locked and verified everything was how it should be on level three.  My teammates felt that this was extremely boring work, but that didn’t matter. 

It needed to be done.

The sweep of level four’s living quarters showed nothing unusual, so back down to the main level with the refugee bay, infirmary, hangar bay, and several storage bays.  

Where the sight of someone trying to hide behind a crate drew my attention.

I followed quietly, something that even Tu’ver would have found it miraculous considering my size.  I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, but whoever it was, they were skinny and carrying a pack.

The form flitted from crate to crate, making their way towards the ship’s exit door.

That was something I couldn’t allow, not at this stage of things,  not without General Rouhr’s prior approval.

From behind a support pillar I finally realized our potential runaway was a human woman.

Perhaps a less confrontational approach would be better.  

As she neared the door, I stepped out from behind the pillar and blocked the door, my arms folded across my chest.

I smiled down at her, but she let out a small yelp.

“Good evening.  Is there something that I might be able to help you with, Miss…?” I let the syllable hang with the idea that she would fill in her name.

She looked familiar, but I hadn’t spent enough time around the refugees to easily tell them apart.

She looked up at me, anger a quick flash on her face as she dialed up a look of innocence, “Is there a problem?”

“I must apologize, but I can’t let you leave the ship.  It’s far too dangerous to go out at night alone, Miss…” I tried to bait her, again, into giving me her name. She was so familiar…

She didn’t bite.  “You can’t keep me here,” she started, her voice obviously forced to be calm and level.  “I’m not a prisoner. I have the right to leave anytime I want.”

I nodded, “And I agree with you, Miss…” 

She huffed a bit, “My name is Amira.”

Of course. Jeneva’s sister.

I nodded again, “As I was saying, Miss Amira, I agree with you.  You truly are not a prisoner, and you do have the ability to leave the ship, but I really must recommend you not leave at night…or alone.”  

She tried to say something, but I held up my hands to forestall her. “The situation is  far too dangerous around here at night.  I know that you’ve grown up on this world and know its creatures, but the Xathi are much different than anything else out there. They don’t need light to find you.  Please, for your own safety, stay on board.”

“Are you really not hearing me right now?  You can’t keep me here. If I want to leave, I can leave,” she insisted.

I decided to change tactics a bit.  “If I may ask, why are you so insistent on leaving?”

She looked around and shuffled from foot to foot, then glared  at me.  “You’re leaving anyway. Why should I stay?”

“Leave?  What makes you believe that we will leave?” 

With an exasperated sigh that seemed to indicate she was already tired of me and my questions, she snapped.  “I heard your General plans to leave and close the rift, leaving Ankau to deal with the Xathi on our own. Someone even said you’d take us with you and leave the rest of the humans. How is that any better?”

I tried to steer her away from the door, but she resisted.  I relented, took a step back to better block the door. “There have been no official decisions made, it was only a possibility.”

“It’s still a possibility of you people running away and leaving us to deal with those bugs.  I will not leave my home,” she said.

“If we were to leave, it would not be before giving the people of the planet the tools and knowledge needed to fight the Xathi or taking you with us.”  

I hesitated a second as I looked at her. If rumors were flying about the General’s plans, it wouldn’t hurt to try to set things straight. “To be honest, even if we decided to leave, General Rouhr would not do so without careful consideration. Additionally, the Vengeance still needs major repairs.  Those will take a significant amount of time.  We aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t leaving you.”

That was reassuring, right?

Apparently not.

“It doesn’t matter what you try to tell me, you’re still thinking about leaving us to these monsters.  The people deserve to know what’s happening.”

“Shouldn’t you have all the information before you run off to tell people half of a story?”

That stopped her.  She looked at me with a look that I interpreted as a  resignation.  

I had won that point, I just hadn’t known we were playing a game.

She tapped her foot on the ground and bit her lip in frustration then decided to argue her point again.  “You still can’t keep me here. I have every right to leave.”

“That you do,” I said with a nod,  “and I won’t deny it. However, I would prefer not to arrest you.

She looked at me, bewilderment on her face and in her eyes.  “What do you mean? How could you arrest me?”

I pointed to the pack in her hands.  “If you try to leave with those things, that would be considered theft. I would be forced to detain you and place you in the brig.” I tried my best to hide my smile.  

“You…you…how…why…but…” she stammered as she tried to find her words.

“Inside that pack,” I pointed at the pack on her shoulder, “I’m guessing you have some rations and a blaster.  If you were smart, and I’m guessing you are, you  also have a heat sensor in that pack, so you can see what’s out there in the dark.  Am I right?”

I folded my arms over my chest again.

She just nodded.  

I didn’t bother to hide my smile this time.

“Miss Amira, if you promise to go back to your room, at least for the night, and hand over the pack, I won’t officially report this incident.”

“Why not?” she asked, eyes narrowed.

“Because,you should be allowed to make your own decisions.” She started to say something, but I kept talking, “If you wish to leave in the morning, I won’t stop you.”

After a few moments, she relented and handed over the pack and stomped out of the hangar bay, presumably back to her room.

The final point went to me.

Right?

I watched her go. She wasn’t the type to give up so easily. How long would that my victory in the game I hadn’t realized we were playing last?

 

***

Daxion is a work in progress. I’d love to know what you think!

 

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