This story is just for fun. Any resemblance to the staff at the space center is intentional. Any resemblance to a real space center mission is your imagination.
Space Center Educator
Personal Log 2: Adrian Stevens, Entry 7
Turner fired the phaser. The bed shook as Caligula spasmed.
Harken leapt across the room, landing on the mattress with a solid thump. “Get something to tie him with!”
I scrambled from under the bunk. Turner threw himself onto the bed. The two of them wrestled Caligula. Turner fired the phaser again. Caligula growled.
“Move it, Stevens. Find us some rope, wire, anything! Now!” Harken snarled as Caligula’s flailing limbs smacked her in the face.
I tore open the closet. “Will this work?” I ripped the white t-shirt into strips. Turner’s phaser sailed across the room, propelled by Caligula’s kick.
“Hurry! Ouch!” Turner wrapped his arms around Caligula’s legs.
I wrapped strips around Caligula’s ankles, yanking it as tight as it would go. We wrapped more strips around his legs and arms, trussing him tight. Harken sat on his chest and slapped him, shouting curses.
The lights dimmed.
“Oh, crap,” I said.
“What?” Harken paused, her fist raised over Caligula’s battered face.
“Lights dimming is never good.”
“Delphi protocol initiated. Self-destruct activated. This vessel will self-destruct in thirty seconds.” The computer voice was smug.
I hauled Caligula off the bed. “We’ve got to make it to the Odyssey before the ship blows.”
“What about Vasha and Evangeline?” Turner asked.
“They initiated it. They’ll either be at the shuttle bay or dead. Help me with him.” Caligula stumbled, his ankles tied tightly together.
“Why are we taking him? I say let him die.” Harken planted her fists on her hips.
“He’s a valuable hostage. We can use him to negotiate with Del’Brugado.”
Caligula laughed, not the reaction I expected from a prisoner with a bloody nose and two black eyes.
I grabbed his thin undershirt and hauled him around to face me. “What’s so funny?”
“Destruction in twenty seconds.”
“Adrian, we don’t have time!” Turner yanked on Caligula’s arm. “Let’s go, unless you want to die.”
“Protocol override,” Caligula said.
“Self-destruct canceled.” The lights returned to normal.
“Now we have time. Talk, Caligula.” I shook him.
“Are you really so blind and ignorant? Del’Brugado is nothing but a pompous peacock who couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag. I would appreciate it if you removed your hands.” His smile faded. “Before I cut them off and feed them to you. There is another one you should fear.”
Even tied up and beaten Caligula scared me. I shoved him, hard. Turner caught him. Harken smacked him with a lamp. Caligula passed out on the floor.
Harken glared at me. “If you want him so badly, then you carry him. I’m leaving before anything else weird happens.”
The lights dimmed. All three of us swore.
“This ship is changing course. Delphi override protocol initiated.”
“Where is Vasha taking us?” I muttered.
“I don’t think it’s Vasha.” Turner pointed at the door.
Caligula’s second in command stood framed in the doorway. Armed pirates crowded behind him. He smiled. “Thank you for your assistance, Stevens is it? You saved me a lot of trouble.”
I nudged the unconscious cyborg at my feet. “We want the Odyssey and your word that we can leave in safety.”
“I don’t think so.” He fingered his rifle. “No, I think the three of you are going to be my special guests for a while. At least until your other friends surrender. They are locked in the ship’s torpedo storage bay and refuse to unlock the door. I could blast it, but that would leave us stranded if it doesn’t kill us. No, I would rather negotiate. And with you as my hostages, I mean guests, they might listen to reason.” He stepped into the room. His pirates flanked us.
I kicked Caligula. “Are you the one Caligula told us to fear?”
“He said to fear Rafael? What a nice thing to say about the man who has been trying to kill him for the last two months.” Rafael signaled his men. The picked up Caligula and herded the three of us together. “But now that I have his ship and you, I don’t need to kill him. I think I’ll let the medics have him for experimentation. I wonder how much pain a cyborg can feel.”
I traded looks with Turner. This guy was ten times creepier than Caligula, who made Del’Brugado look as harmless as my grandmother and her eyeball jello.
The lights flickered off. “Main reactor shut down initiated. Power levels dropping to minimal.”
“Crap,” we all said together.