Phew, what a rush! This one was pulled in through tiredness and exhaustion. (I’m too stubborn to give in.)
This is part fifteen of my Describli-prompt inspired series. Part 17 here next week. 🙂
Lena left the bridge. The sensors had tracked Leo as far as they could with limited power. Now all she could do was wait. So to distract herself, she went to the infirmary room to see how Zinna and their “guest” were getting on.
Zinna was reading something on her tablet. It was an old model, one she’d bought second or even third hand years ago. “Anything interesting?” Lena asked.
Zinna looked up. “Looking through the encyclopedias. Learning all sorts about mountains. Nothing useful yet though. But if I had access to the StarCircuit….”
“Don’t even think about hacking it. You remember what happened last time as well as I do. We were lucky to get away with it.”
“I know, but it should be open to anyone anyway. Not just the Elites.”
Lena held her hands up. “Complete agreement here. But the law’s the law. And that one’s hard to break and get away with.”
Zinna sighed as she put her tablet down on the surface behind her. As frustrating as it was, she knew Lena was right.
Lena turned her attention to the still-sleeping man. “Any more activity?”
“No,” Zinna said, the word sharp with her frustration. “I still think that what he said’s important. I just need to figure it out.” She picked up her tablet again and began to browse. “There has to be something.”
Lena sat down on one of the chairs at the side of the room and thought through her store of knowledge. Beyond the mountains. What was beyond the mountains? And which mountains? There were countless mountain ranges on the known planets. Had he meant the ones on Earth? If he had, then there was nothing they could do. Earth was long gone in her time and she didn’t have the first idea about how to get back again.
She approached it from a different angle. The man worked for the blue-lipped woman. But what species was he? What species was she? He looked human, but there was something slightly off, something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
She got up and examined him. Zinna looked up over the top of her tablet again.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to work out what species he is.”
“Oh.” Zinna got up and joined her visual scrutiny. “Why?”
“Because it might give me an idea as to which mountains he meant.”
“You don’t think the ones on Earth?”
“I don’t know. I don’t seem to think it’s that likely. After all what connection does he have to Earth if he’s not human? As far as I know, none of the blue-lipped woman’s workers were ever down there. They stayed on the ship. That’s why she needed us to get the delat for her.”
“I see what you mean. He could be referencing his home world.”
She lifted his left hand, and finally saw something that gave her a clue. A small mark on the inside of his wrist marked him out as one of the Garlen colonists. She showed Zinna.
“So he is human,” she muttered.
Lena said, “Sort of. The Garlens colonised their planet so long ago that some of their physiology changed to cope with the conditions. They’re classed as a sub-race of human now.”
“Ah. So does that give any ideas about the mountains?”
Lena laid the man’s hand back down and thought through what she knew about the Garlens.
A light went on in her mind, and everything dropped into place. “Of course! There was rumoured to be a rich deposit of minerals under one of the big mountain ranges of Garlen. I bet there’s delat there and the blue-lipped woman wants it – maybe that’s even why this man was shot. Maybe the idea of her destroying his home to get what she wanted was too much for him!”
Zinna raised her eyebrows. “That sounds more like fiction than reality.”
Lena was indignant. “What? Why?”
“Because the people working for the blue-lipped woman are a species all of their own. What was this man doing there? Is he even one of hers?”
“You said it yourself, he’s wearing one of her uniforms.”
“True. But there could be many reasons for that. A prisoner they turned? A spy? That’s more realistic than noble sacrifice.”
Lena folded her arms. “Maybe to you.”
Zinna didn’t say anything else.
So Lena put her hands on the edge of the bed and said, “Either way, you said what he said was significant. And if I’m right about the delat deposit on Garlen, and the blue-lipped woman gets hold of it, it could be the end of this galaxy, or maybe more. We have to stop her.”
“And we do that how with no fuel?”
“Well, we’ll have to wait for Leo to come back…but we have to do something. She turned to leave, to get back to the bridge. “I’m going to see if I can get a message to Tang. He has to know about this.”
Zinna’s sigh followed her from the room. But she refused to be ignored on this. She was right. At least about needing to get to Galen. Better safe than sorry.
This week’s prompt: End of a galaxy.