Somewhere in deep space
Shuttlebay, following part 1
She tested the substance encasing her hands as she considered their options. It felt light, yet solid enough that it would in fact make a good cudgel, but not against beings encased in full armor. They might have the numerical advantage, but the odds of disarming all their guards and freeing themselves before reinforcements arrived seemed incredibly low, not to mention the casualties they would certainly incur…no, there had to be another way. Sadly however, all her own ideas involved having her hands free and access to a tool kit.
More information. They needed more information before they could even hope to come up with a plan of any kind.
Fortunately, she didn’t have long to wait. Seemingly only a few minutes after she awakened, the nearest exit opened, and two more armored figures entered. The suits seemed to be the same basic configuration as the guards already present, but these two were adorned with colorful embellishments, possibly indications of rank.
They both resembled armored chickens with arms where one expected wings, but the one in red sported a feathered plume on its helmet, while the one in blue did not. Red entered first, while Blue followed a step behind. They paused for a moment, turning to speak to their companion. “Is this all of them,” Red asked. Possibly male, judging by the voice.
“No master,” Blue replied in a feminine voice. “We found two aquatic lifeforms in a large tank, but I do not believe they could function on dry land. They lacked the proper appendages.”
“We will deal with them later,” Red told her. He began pacing down the first row of prisoners, his face invisible behind his beaked visor. Blue remained stationary before them, cradling her rifle. “I am Brother Skrellik,” Red declared in a mechanically amplified voice that demanded their complete attention. “Abbot of the Blue-Sky Nebula. Which of you is the captain?”
The bald man struggled to his feet, not an easy task with his hands bound. “I am,” he said defiantly.
Brother Skrellik raised one of his gauntlets and tapped it with a claw. “Lie!!”
Pain radiated from her neck, igniting every nerve in her body all at once. Worse, she could hear everyone around her crying out in pain just as she was. It only lasted a moment, but that was long enough. If she hadn’t been kneeling on the deck, she would have toppled over. Her bald companion actually did.
“Sub-dermal implants,” Skrellik told them casually when the pain began to abate. “All of the adults received them,” he added. “Be grateful I excluded the hatchlings. Disobedience from one of you will result in punishment for all. Am I understood?”
His question generated only murmurs of assent from the audience, causing him to sting them all again. “You will address me as Brother Skrellik! Now, am I understood?”
“Yes, Brother Skrellik,” she replied as forcefully as she could, hoping the others would follow suit.
Skrellik must have been satisfied with this response because he lowered the gauntlet. Instead, he pointed a claw in her direction. “You were sitting in the captain’s chair. On your feet,” he ordered.
Not wanting to risk another sting, she clambered to her feet as best she could. She realized she was shorter and smaller than the bald man, but the top of Skrellik’s head only came up to the top of her chin.
But Skrellik either didn’t notice or simply didn’t care. “What is your name, mammal?”
“I don’t know,” the captain replied firmly. I’m telling the truth,” she insisted when he raised his gauntlet again. “We’ve all lost our memories! In fact, the last thing I remember is waking up on the bridge, just before someone threw a grenade in.”
“More lies,” Blue hissed angrily.
Skrellik lowered the gauntlet again, this time tapping his armored beak thoughtfully. “Perhaps not,” he mused. “This ship has drifted for hours, and they have made no attempt to repair it. Perhaps your masters erased your memories,” he told the captain. “Or perhaps the Beyonder took them as punishment for your crime.”
As if this situation couldn’t get any worse. While she felt certain they hadn’t knowingly committed any crimes, without her memories she had no defense against the accusation. “What exactly are we being charged with?”
Skrellik pointed past her. “Behold!”
Capt. Marla Jonas