“Are you fucking insane, Frankie! We don’t have time!”
“You fucking tell them we don’t have time to shoot them!” Frankie fell on her knees, and grabbed two plasma guns
before sliding below the retractable door on the bridge of the enemy’s ship. She quickly jumped on her feet, and started shooting at anything with a white, almost translucent skin, and ran toward the two crew members that were left behind, grabbed by those Rakes. She had come to despise them more than anything else in her life.
The walls were dark, the lighting very minimal, and the grid she ran on made more noises than the breathing of the ones she shot, incapable of a full vocal cry. Frankie grabbed one of the Rakes, his mouth fully opened, and about to scratch her shoulders. She put the plasma gun in his mouth, and shot. She then used him or her, because to be honest, Frankie knew there was no way to tell the females apart from the males, as an organic shield, and charged into the pack of Rakes coming her way.
Her guns almost out of fuel, she decided to retrieve one of the oxygen tanks from the side wall, and threw it among the Rakes before shooting. The explosion was contained once she ran out of the section, and closed the pressuring doors. She stopped, and bent over, hands on her knees, and took a deep breath. She then wiped her sweat dripping from her nose with the back of her right hand. Still holding a gun in each hand she looked to her side where she had to keep going, and started jogging.
The ship now seemed entirely emptied, and she got a message on her earpiece, “Frank! Answer me! We heard an explosion, are you, all right?
For fuck sake, Frank answer!” She turned on her vocal emitter, and said, “Yes, I caused the explosion.” Her superior officer, Commander King, had orders to keep Frankie safe at all costs, and right now, she was several hundred meters away from him in a ship full of very hungry Rakes, “How the fuck do you suggest coming back? You blew up the only passage to their working teleportal beam!”
Frankie, with a cool tone in her voice, answered, “It was a risk I was willing to take.” The Commander didn’t find it one bit amusing, “That’s funny, because see I am the Commander, and you’re the Lieutenant. I make the decision, you follow my orders.” Frankie followed a curving corridor, and decided to slow down, “Yeah, well I came here to chew bubblegum, and kick ass. I have two plasma guns with a few shots left, and no bubblegum. You do the math.”
Frankie knew Commander Nakamo King wouldn’t understand her reference. Nobody on her ship understood her puns from the twenty- first century, since she was the only one out of her timeline. She then turned off the device entirely. Frankie knew she would find her crew- mates approaching the place where they were ambushed by Rakes, that according to King, weren’t supposed to be onboard the abandoned ship. The air was heavy, and humid, the stink of the place burned inside Frankie’s nostrils who wanted to beam out of the ship as soon as she could. But first, she had to free her men.
Frankie might not have been military material, or at least she thought so until saved by Slicer’s Captain. But she had proven herself time and time again. All those hours spent playing warfare video games were suddenly paying off, and helped protect herself from something she possessed that made her quite precious to the Captain of her ship.
The cries were loud, long, and agonizing. The mumbling, and what sounded like the chewing of animals crawled its way to Frankie’s ears who feared what she was about to see when turning to the room on her right. She looked at her forearm bracer where it displayed a monitor screen of all Slicer members. She saw the faint life signs of her crew- mates, and then turned on the 3D holographic blueprint of the ship, showing that on her left would be the feasting room.
She closed her eyes, knelt to the ground as slowly as she could, and crawled closer to the entrance of the room. Once opened, what she saw, created a sudden gag reflex. There was no more time to be discreet, as she threw up bile on herself. She jumped on her feet, and shot the two crewmates. Both of them hung from the ceiling by metallic hooks, resembling ones used by fishermen. It pierced through the bruised flesh on their backs. Denuded, the two men were hanging, their heads falling
forwards. A wide X incision covered their abdomen, buckets at their feet, letting the blood drip down as Rakes exposed their tongues.
When Frankie saw the scene, she expected as much, but not for both crewmen to lift their heads up, orbits emptied from their eyeballs, and screaming without a tongue to articulate their pain. She shot them both between the eyes, and their heads fell forward instantly, putting them out of their misery. Twenty-eight Rakes came forward, angry, as they showed their long curving claws perfect to grip their prey as she stepped back. Frankie analyzed the situation rapidly, and calculated her chances of survival if she ran through the ship. “9%. N ot high enough.” She thought to herself. She needed another strategy .
Frankie noticed a tall man with a black uniform, and helmet covering his head. Impossible to see through, she blinked, and hoped her ocular scanning lenses took a picture. She noticed his belt with a scarab looking device attached to it. “You’ll have to do mate!” She propelled herself onto the man, elbowed his head, and then his stomach before injecting herself with the decoding serum, and entered the code, “Sextans A, NGC 3115, S licer LSS, Authorization Code 05bw3d.”
Frankie shot at the Rakes coming her way, until she felt her body dematerializing, leaving a sensation of absolute relaxation. Then every- thing disappeared until she felt stretched out into a tube, and instantly rematerialized.
“What was the idea, Lieutenant Stein?”
“Yes, I’m happy I’m alive too.”
Frankie got back on her feet. The man covered in a black military
suit was about to lift himself up, so Frankie kicked his head, and knocked him out for the third time. She walked down the circular Decoder pedestal, holding her head with one hand. She was covered in soot, and sweating like she just went for a hundred-kilometer marathon. King was yelling at her. She had to follow his orders when away on missions. Then Frankie felt shivers grabbing onto her spine, crawling its way to the back of her neck when he walked in the room.
“Lieutenant Stein, what is this Khe soldier doing on my ship?”
It seemed as if Frankie lost her words, the entire language indeed. She walked back to the Khe soldier, grabbed his teleportal device, also known as a PBU, and unlocked his helmet. She then caught on to its ocular lenses on his eyeballs, and retrieved the chip placed in his bracer. She walked down the Decoder, and handed it to Captain Caldwell, who had turned forty-nine years old the week before.
“This Khe soldier was the relic we were looking for.” Frankie admit-
ted, “I read his signature when we teleported to the supposedly aban- doned ship.” She mentioned slowly looking at her superior officer with a frown as he affirmed the wrecked ship deserted by the crew. “These objects, once I analyze them, will prove to be the missing parts of previous encoded Grey artifacts left behind. It also proves our theory of the Rakes working alongside the Dome...um...Sir.”
Frankie looked down when her Captain asked with his grave, and commanding voice, “How were you able to use the PBU? You needed access to a Rake code.” Frankie wasn’t about to reveal all of her secrets to her Captain, and so she answered, “As for the Portable Beaming Unit, I...um” She cleared her throat before King said, “She disobeyed my orders, and went on a silly mission to—” Caldwell raised his hand before King, and uninterestingly nodded, his eyes fixed on Frankie, “Yes, yes, yes, subordination, who gives a fuck Commander. We’re at war.”
He had Frankie look into his eyes, “How did you get that code?” She had to think fast, “I hacked their system, and copied one of their codes when I knew a Khe soldier was onboard the ship.” Captain Caldwell smiled, “Move the prisoner to the brig until Dr. Gillman can start the rehabilitation process.” Before leaving the room, Caldwell glanced at Frankie one last time, subtly winked, and grinned before saying, “Good work, Lieutenant.” Followed by, “Both of you take a shower, and report to Dr. Gillman.”
Frankie couldn’t help but smile, and with the objects in her hands, about to walk out, she felt King’s grip on her shoulder. She knew he would again lecture her about how the Captain was a weirdo, and not to let him inside her head. He tried his best to have the Captain lose interest in Frankie, but it never worked. She would get away with many things, but then again, “I’m not a real soldier, Nakamo.” She said.
They both walked toward the closest elevator to get to their quar- ters. Once inside the half-moon shaped cylinder elevator, King pressed the stop button, and Frankie suddenly felt a little claustrophobic. It had been over four years since she come onboard S licer, four years that she had become close friends with King.
“Caldwell will be the end of you. He is dangerous. He is working his way into your head, Frankie.”
“You are paranoid, Nakamo. It’s been almost half a decade, Caldwell would be the slowest criminal of all time!”
King slowly approached Frankie, and moved a streak of her hair away from her face. Confused by the loving gesture, and admitting to herself that yes, she once had some indecent thoughts about him in the past, she tried resisting the softness of his touch. She looked into his black
eyes as he said, “It’s just that, if something would happen to you or if someone would take you away from me, I don’t know if I could ever forgive myself.” Quite a few inches more than a foot over her head, King leaned in, and Frankie thought about stopping him, but she secretly wanted it. It had been so long since a man caressed her skin, and kissed her. She craved the touch, the skin of a man against her own, and the pleasure it gave that she surprised herself by risking their friendship, when a monitor screen turned on, “Is everything all right? The elevator seems stuck.”
The moment got away, and King replied by pressing a button, and moving his face in the camera’s frame, “Yes, all is okay. Mind your own business, will ya.” The silence was awkward, and Frankie knew it took a lot of courage for King to show weakness before her, and so she moved her hand to grab his, and said, “Maybe it’s better that way.” King rolled his eyes, “As long as he’s in your head, I just have no chance.” He left the elevator, and Frankie walked to her quarters thinking about what might have happened if there had not been any interruptions. Would they have stopped at kissing, or since she craved a man so much, would she have let him...? “Stop, this is insane. This whole situation is entirely insane!” She murmured out loud to herself while walking to her quarters in the opposite direction of Commander Nakamo King.
She wanted to turn around, and see if he looked at her, but it would break her heart if he did or didn’t. Frankie thought of herself as foolish, she needed to focus on the reason why she was on Slicer. She had to think about her mission, and duty, and then, they appeared in her head. The door to her quarters opened to let her in, but Frankie was immo- bile. In her head, images of emptied eye orbits appeared, mouths without tongues, and her shooting...it just didn’t go away.