Thoughtful - Chapter 17

You look like you saw a ghost

As Sagan and Phoenix’s team got to work finalising the patch, Lady and Fury arrived back on the bridge where Strychley was waiting patiently for them.

‘So far we’re all good up here,’ she told them, ‘nothing new to report, the Shimmer is still in place and Charlie’s reporting a few criticals, but no fatalities … nice to see you Fury.’

‘Strychley,’ Fury nodded, before turning to Lady, ‘let’s find out who your rat is.’

‘How?’ asked Lady.

‘I’ll need access to your internals – cameras, sensors, everything,’ Fury explained.

‘OK, I can do that,’ said Lady.

‘Now tell me, do you think the traitor is a new addition or someone “switched sides”?’ asked Fury seriously, taking a seat next to Strychley as she gave him access to the Anhinga’s systems.

‘To my mind we’ve had two opportunities when someone could have gotten on board, when we picked up the new girl about a week ago, and then when we had to get one of Demise’s spiders off the hull … that was a few days ago, and also when we had the first explosion.’

‘Wait, hold up a minute, Demise put a spider on the Anhinga and this is your second explosion?’ asked Fury, shocked at what he was hearing.

‘It’s been a bad week,’ responded Lady dryly.

‘Think the incidents are linked?’ asked Fury as he furiously accessed the Anhinga mainframe.

‘Initially I thought so, but why bother with the spider if you’re just going to blow us up?’

‘Sound logic,’ nodded Fury, ‘Demise isn’t the most stable mind in the hive though…’ he trailed off.

‘Thinking about it now,’ said Lady, thinking out loud, ‘the explosion only occurred after we’d removed the spider, it’s a new type, one Sagan hasn’t seen before, so removing it could have been what triggered the blast…’

‘But they would have had to already be inside …’ added Strychley.

‘And the other blast was much smaller,’ continued Lady, ‘it just damaged one of the condensers and created a small hole, so it may have been a practice run, to see what we’d do. 

‘Again your logic is solid …’ said Fury, ‘so you knew you had trouble on board, and you thought you’d head for Royale, hope they jettisoned you there?’

‘That’s the short version, I thought perhaps they’d lay low ‘til then … but after we checked all the vision and data we had, well there was nothing on camera, the sensors picked up nothing, it’s like we had a ghost.’

‘Maybe you did,’ mused Fury, ‘and the new girl? Not a suspect?’ Fury asked as he kept trolling through the Anhinga’s security archives.

‘Nope, she’s sound, was unconscious the whole time,’ Lady explained.

‘I reckon it’s got to be a switcher,’ said Strychley, ‘no one could have come on board without us knowing.’

‘Hmmm, you say that ….’ Fury trailed off deep in thought, ‘but then again just because you didn’t see them doesn’t mean … wait, there! I got it, there’s your ghost!’ 

‘But … what?’ asked Lady astounded, staring at what looked like video of an empty air lock. 

‘Look there, coming through the water wall, see that ripple? That’s your saboteur, any money you like.’

‘But they didn’t even register when they came through!’ said Strychley, a frown creasing her forehead.

‘They wouldn’t, I don’t think they’re human, I think it might be ….’ 

‘Mellion?’ asked Lady cutting him off in alarm.

‘Maybe, or at least … well if it is human they’re using their tech to hide themselves …’ reasoned Fury.

‘Look at that date stamp though, that’s when we picked up the girl, they’ve been on the ship for days, how’ve they survived?’ asked Lady still trying to accept what she was seeing, as Fury pulled up other camera footage and showed them how to recognise the ripples of displacement that showed their interlopers progress around the vessel.

‘Do you think they’re still on board?’ asked Strychley, biting her finger and not noticing she’d drawn blood.

‘No, or at least I doubt it … whatever or whoever that was they must’ve been ejected when they set off the second explosion,’ explained Fury bringing up even more camera footage, ‘see here, there they are setting the charges on the wall, and then … wait for it … total structural collapse and anything not nailed down is sucked out, you’re just lucky the few people who were down there managed to cling on to something or get through to safety when the Anhinga’s auto safety measures kicked in.’

‘But doesn’t it follow that this …. asshole or thing or whatever it is, could’ve done the same?’ asked Strychley.

‘I don’t think so… they would have assumed that with this blast the Anhinga would be done for, and so they wouldn’t want to stick around, burial at sea is a nasty way to go.’

‘How can we be sure though?’ asked Lady, ‘perhaps we should try and find it?’

‘No need, once I knew what anomaly I was looking for, I simply told your computer so it knew what to look for, and after the explosion that thing is no longer traceable. In my opinion it’s either dead or gone, or if we’re lucky both....’

‘Do you think it was an actual Mellion though?’ asked Lady, leaning back in her chair now, deep in thought. Part of her was disappointed it was gone. She’d never seen a real Mellion in the flesh. It would have been quite something to see.

‘I couldn’t tell you, but I sincerely hope not … could you imagine? We’re convinced we’d wiped them out, then they show up again hiding underwater or something … it’s hard enough to make it down here as it is without having to worry about the remanets of an Alien population making a comeback … though it could always be worse,’ answered Fury somewhat cryptically.

‘Alright, what’s going on Fury, first you mention its getting crowded down here, and then you tell me you’ve been laying low, and now you’re hinting that shit could be worse…. Spill your guts, I want to know what’s going on out there!’ Lady demanded.

Fury turned away from the screen he’d been intently focusing on only moments before, and leaned back in his chair with a sigh.

‘It’s not good out there, Lady,’ he said slowly, looking up at her. Lady had never seen him look so worried, even scared.

‘What is it, and if it’s as bad as your face says it is, how’ve we not noticed it?’

‘Look, we only found this by accident,’ Fury began, ‘no one else seems to have figured it out yet, but it’s not just one thing Lady, a combination of shit is going to go down very soon, and I don’t know if we even can stop it, let alone survive it…’

‘Go on,’ Lady prompted, while Strychley stared at Fury in horror.

‘Where do I start…’ murmured Fury to himself, looking overwhelmed.