As the ship burst into hyperspace, we all went to get something to eat, the Xian having stocked up on human food, and then get some sleep. We were all feeling better when we arrived in Xianic space. “We need to find out where the problem began, where was the origin point.”
The Xian replied, “It is believed that the breakout began with the ship, Onosion. When it returned from deep space exploration the crew had been converted.”
“Deep space exploration?” Jamal asked. “I assume there have been missions to retrace their steps, find out where they had been, what they had found?”
The Xian all exchanged looks.
“Well, I guess we just figured out where we’re going to start.”
As we headed into deep space, the Xian showed us footage on the spread of the possession. We saw how the Onosion crew arrived at the Xian homeworld. At first, no one noticed the change, but then the numbered of Turned rose. Like a disease, it spread until Xian were fighting Xian. They tried to cure it with medicine, with science, with technology, but nothing they tried worked. Nothing could even slow it down. Eventually, the situation grew into an all out civil war and the Turned were winning. That was why they had come for us.
It took several days, but eventually we reached the last known location of the Onosion before they became Turned. Fortunately, my instability wasn’t yet a problem. This wasn’t the best body, but I didn’t dare get stuck with a worse one. At least, I was healthy and relatively fit. At least, I could walk and move and run.
We stood on the bridge and stared at the star system. “Where do we start?” Jamal asked. “Just go planet to planet?” There were two stars and fifteen planets. Searching everyone of them wasn’t going to be fun.
“I do not think we will have to do that,” the Xian replied.
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Because we’re recieving a signal from the twelfth planet.”
“What’s it say?”
“Nothing. There is no message, just a standard signal of distress.”
I shrugged. Why should I expect there to be any kind of help? “That seems like the place to start then.”
“Yeah,” Jamal replied, “because going toward the danger is always a good idea.”
“It’s what we do, Jamal. We go toward the danger and we take care of it. That’s why we’re heroes. That’s how we save the day.”
Jamal rolled his eyes. “You’re such an idiot.”
We took a transport vessel down to the surface. The signal led us to a city. The buildings were purple and pink. They were tubular archs, looking like a half-buried roller coaster. After a scan, we discovered the atmosphere was breathable with our new the nanite modifications. “All right,” I said to the Xian, as we stepped out onto the planet. “Which way?”
The Xian led us down the street to a nearby building. The city was strangely empty. Inside was much the same. There were objects that might have been furniture, but that was all. “Where is every one?” Doc asked. “Where are the people? What happened here?”
There were no answers, no evidence of what had gone on. The place was just empty. If the people had been slaughtered where we the corpses? If they had been enslaved where was the destruction? It made no sense. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to go deeper into the alien building and hope we could find some kind of clue.
We followed the signal into a large oblong room. “There’s no one here,” Jamal said. “This is some wild goose chase.”
The Xian picked up a small device. “This is the object broadcasting the signal.”
I looked at it. “Is it yours?”
“It is not Xian in origin. I cannot be sure, but it does not appear to be any technology I have seen before.”
“So, it belonged to the people who lived here?”
“But where are they, Frank?” Doc asked. “Who activated it? Why aren’t they here waiting?”
“Maybe we took to long,” Mathilda said. “Do we know how long they activated it? It could be decades.”
“My people were here,” the Xian said. “If this was here when they arrived…”
“Yeah? Maybe this was a lure. Maybe this was all a trap. Did you ever think of that? The crew of the Onosion fell for it and now we fell for it.”
“Come on, Tilly,” I scoffed. “I don’t think this is any kind of…”
“Danger! Danger!” ALAN trilled. “Incoming hostiles!”
to be continued…