“Who?” I asked. “Who is coming?”
The alien turned to me. “You! You called them! You told them where I was!”
“How?” I asked, eager to make it clear to my captor that it couldn’t have been me. “I was here the whole time. I was unconscious until recently and you’ve been watching me since I’ve been awake. I haven’t done anything. There’s no way I could have without you knowing.”
The alien didn’t seem to like my answer. Probably because I was right. Whoever was coming, I had had no hand in it. I couldn’t have.
“The augmented one!” the creature snapped quietly, fortunately the translator picked it up. “How did…? But she’s..?” The alien swung to another section of its machinery. “No! She’s not there! She escaped! That is impossible! That cannot be!”
‘She’? I thought. That had to be Mathilda. She must’ve used her bio-enhancements to escape, phasing through the very rock to freedom! “No!” the alien clapped. “She is leading them right to me!”
I told him, “Don’t worry. I can talk to them. We can work together. We can help you figure out what happened to this place, what happened to your people”
“You either think me a fool or you are a fool yourself. There will be no working together, the Xian and me. They will come. They will find me. And they will kill me. There is little I can do, now that they have found me, I am dead.”
“No,” I assured him. “Listen to me. If you’ll just let me talk to them, I can…” But the alien wouldn’t hear of it. He was off! When I caught up, he was armed. He had strange weapons in four of his hands and he had them all pointed at the wall. I was ready to yell at him some more, try to convince him that violence wasn’t the answer, but I was too late. The wall exploded and the Xian came swarming in! The alien fired at them!
I tried to stop them, both sides, try to make them see that this was unnecessary. No one needed to get hurt here. We all wanted the same thing. But no one was listening and before I had a chance to press it, I felt a hand on my shoulder, pulling me down. It was Mathilda. She had appeared from behind me. “Stop,” I told her.
“Don’t worry, Frank. We’ll be safe. Trust me.”
“No.” She wasn’t listening! She didn’t understand! I tried to fight her, to get free of her grip, but my body was too weak. I could see that the alien had managed to take out two of the Xian, but there were still too many left. He wouldn’t be able to stop them all and the Xian just kept coming. Inevitably, the Xian got through. The alien dropped to the ground. Finally, Mathilda let go. I got to my feet and ran to him. He was an alien with a strange biology, but there was no question he was dead. “Why did you do that?” I demanded. “Why did you kill him?”
“Frank,” Mathilda said, coming up behind me “he imprisoned all of us. If it wasn’t for my upgrades, I wouldn’t have been able to get free. I’d still be a captive. I wouldn’t have been able to show the Xian where we were. We’d be still be held prisoner.”
“That’s no reason to kill him.”
“He was the one who opened fire.”
“He was scared,” I tried to explain. “Infected Xian killed his people. He was here, trying to find a cure. He could have helped us!”
“If he knew anything, the Xian can find it,” Mathilda told me. “All I care about right now is my father! Who this alien had captured and imprisoned, just like he did you, just like he did me. Now are you going to help me find him?”
I couldn’t say no to that. It wasn’t hard to find ALAN and with his help we were able to retrieve Jamal from beneath the rock. After making sure he was all right, I left Jamal with his daughter and joined the Xian who were busy scouring the alien’s equipment. “Did you find anything in the alien’s computer?” I asked.
“No,” the Xian replied. “It must have erased it all. Now, it is time to return to the ship.”
“Are you sure? Maybe I…”
“We have checked everything. There is nothing here.”
“But the alien…”
“Was a liar. There is nothing. If there was, it is gone now. Now, we must return to the ship.”
Jamal and Tilly joined. “Come on, Frank,” he said. “Let’s go. There’s nothing down here.”
“There has to be.”
Jamal shook his head. “The Xian said there’s not. What, don’t you believe them?”
I didn’t say anything for several seconds. Something didn’t feel right, but I didn’t dare give voice to it. There were too many ears down here. “Fine. Let’s go back to the ship.”
to be continued…