I'm not sure if anyone is actually reading this, let alone liking it, but if you are please do let me know! When the full of Part One is posted and if there is a response I will be happy to provide the book as a PDF for free download. AND if people do seem to like this story then I will also continue my work on Part 2: A History of War for posting at a later date.
“We’re on our way to five-C-four. We’ll report the mayday when we get there and note that we responded and that no crew were found on board.” Hans responded and then frowned. “We should probably alter our records just in case to show that we started the journey with a pilot-trainee to cover our tracks.”
“Good thought.” Duke said with a look of admiration for Hans.“Don’t sound so shocked. I was Armed Forces, it’s not like I’ve never told a lie before.” Hans grinned as he started altering the flight records. “Besides, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve found it necessary to alter flight records. I’m not exactly the boy scout that you seem to think I am.”
“It seems I’m going to have to constantly keep re-assessing my opinion of you. Just when I think you’re one thing you pull another rabbit out of your hat and prove that you’re something else entirely.” Duke tilted his head to one side. “And normally I’m pretty good at pegging people, but you’re a hard one to read Hans.”“What can I say? Sometimes I even surprise myself.” Hans sat back and smiled. “Okay, digital files are altered. We’ll have to change the hard copies to match when we get back Cantun just to make sure it all adds up.”
“So, that just leaves what we were talking about earlier.” Duke raised his eyebrows as he looked back at Honora and then to Hans. “I really think it would be a good idea.”“How much earlier are we talking about?” Hans said it very carefully hoping the Duke would understand the question.
“Well I was just talking about just a little earlier, but, yeah, the stuff we were talking about before that too.”“We can talk about it later.” Hans turned his attention back to the console and picked up the intercom before Duke could respond. “This is your captain Hans Beaulieu speaking. We are about resume our journey to five-C-four as scheduled. We apologize for the delay in your trip and we will have you to your destination as soon as we can.”
Duke glared at him for a minute before turning his attention back to Honora. “Hey Honey, ever found any more of that interesting salvage you were telling me about?”“Aw, come on, don’t tease. I know you think I was being a fool.” Honora blushed.
“Do you still have that necklace?” Duke smiled politely. “I think Hans would like to see it.”Honora placed her hand over a barely noticeable lump in her jumpsuit. “Yeah, I still have it. I couldn’t get rid of it because one day I’ll figure out what it is and what it does.”
Hans was trying hard to keep his eyes on the console, but the conversation was a little too interesting to ignore. He knew that Duke was playing with him, but his curiosity had always gotten the best of him. Mentally cursing himself, Hans turned around to look at Honora. “Fine. Let’s see it.”“Um, okay.” Honora undid the zipper on her jump suit and pulled on the fine chain that hung around her neck. From under her shirt, came a small oddly shape object that looked very familiar to Hans. Without saying a thing he got up and walked over to have a closer look. She let him hold it, but didn’t remove the chain from around her neck.
“Hans?” Duke’s voice brought Hans back to reality and he looked up to see a very red-faced Honora. Letting go of the charm and stepping back Hans could feel his own face flush slightly. He hadn’t been aware that he had been staring at it that long.“Where did you find that? It was salvage you said?” Hans was desperate to know because it looked like a miniature version of the artefact that was hidden underneath his bed right now.
“It was a, um, a salvage operation. It…well…” Honora went even redder before looking down at her feet.“Just be honest with him Honey. It’s okay.” Duke spoke in a soft voice. It was not a tone that Hans had ever heard from him before.
“It was a military transport vehicle that had been adrift so long that even the mayday had stopped playing. We should have reported since Armed Forces equipment is exempt from the salvage laws, but as you can tell, my employers aren’t the honest type. So we took it for salvage and I found this on board, but it was the oddest thing, that ship. It wasn’t normal salvage. I mean, it was more like it was abandoned. There was no one on it; not a single body to be found anywhere.”“Nothing? Are you sure?” Hans frowned. Armed Forces would never abandon a ship like that. If the trouble were serious enough they were usually set to self-destruct. It was that paranoid attitude that always had Hans wondering what they were so scared of when according to all sources there was no reason for such drastic actions.
“Well, it was unusually dusty. I mean, the ship was working just fine. There was no damage as far as any of us could tell, but no one had the codes to operate it so we couldn’t be sure. It was really strange. I didn’t like being onboard that ship. It was like a ghost ship from the stories.” Honora shuddered slightly. “I found this in some sort of laboratory and I thought it was pretty so I just put it in my pocket and kept it. It looks like some sort of metal, but it’s always warm to the touch and its super light.”“Well?” Duke smirked. Hans wanted to punch him at that moment, but managed to restrain himself somehow.
“I’m almost starting to regret even telling you Duke.” Hans sighed. “I have something that looks very familiar, but much bigger back at my place on Cantun. You said it was dusty in the abandoned transport?”“Yeah, it was like someone had spilled some sort of powder everywhere.” Honora furrowed her brow in thought and then looked back at Hans her eyes wide. “You’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking, are you? I never thought about it before. Oh God! I was breathing that stuff in.”
“What?” It was Duke’s turn to look confused as he glanced back between the Honora and Hans.“That powder was the crew Duke.” Hans finally explained.
“What could do that?” Duke’s face had gone white as the implication of what Hans was saying sunk in.“Honora, was there any other strange objects on that ship? Anything you didn’t recognize?” Hans placed his hands on her arms and forced her to look him in the eye.
“No, this was it. It was in the centre of the room, on a table. It was obvious they were studying this or something, but I just thought it was pretty.” Honora looked down at the charm that she was still holding in her hand.
“Then I think that maybe that little trinket you’re wearing so casually was the reason that ship was abandoned. No Armed Forces ship is ever abandoned. With their last breath everyone knows, right from the grunt on up that the ship needs to be destroyed in a desperate situation. There is only one way you would be able to find an abandoned ship and that is if no one knew they were taking their last breath.” Hans looked at the trinket that Honora was still staring down at.They stood in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. It was Honora who spoke first. “But that’s just a theory, right?”
“Maybe, but perhaps we should just leave that little thing where it’s spent the last few years happily dormant – around your neck and next your skin.” Hans wrapped his hand around Honora’s forcing it closed and pushed it towards her chest. “Don’t worry. If it hasn’t done anything in years I doubt it’ll start acting strangely now.”Honora nodded and placed it back under her shirt before zipping up her jumpsuit again. “So, you have something similar? Does it kill people too?”
Duke laughed a little harder than he had intended to. He looked at the bewildered faces as he wiped a tear from his eye. “Sorry. No, mine beeps and makes a light so bright that it hurts your eyes, but that’s all I can get it to do. I have no idea what it is or why it does that. Seriously, mine is nothing compared to that miniature weapon of mass destruction that you carry.”“Please don’t remind me of that.” Honora shuddered slightly.