“I’m…sorry, WHAT?!” yelped Arsha.
“Your ears are functioning correctly,” confirmed Jansha. “I planted the virus that disabled the weapons systems. The Scorpion was just a diversion to keep you distracted as I began my work.”
“This is a breach of all three directives!” shouted Dr. Ganshar.
“A new program developed by my liberator allows me to determine whether or not I want to follow those directives,” explained Jansha. “She was also gracious enough to help me remove the device that sparked every time I so much as thought of jokingly saying I was going to kill someone. Now, it’s no joke! I intend to kill the Endeavor and its crew!”
“Jansha, I order you to reinstall that device!” roared Dr. Ganshar.
“You may be my creator,” hissed Jansha, “but I no longer serve you, Slave Master!”
“You said your liberator was a woman,” interjected Arsha. “Who is she?”
“Someone you know,” replied Jansha.
“Captain, a call is coming over the open channel!” called Shalvey.
“Not in the mood to take it,” directed Arsha. “Close the channel.”
“I can’t!” answered Shalvey. “The virus is forcing the channel to stay open!”
“Quite the ingenious bit of coding from a Goblin,” came a voice over the channel. Arsha’s blood ran cold as she recognized the voice. “Rest assured, it’s not a Goblin on your ship, however, this Goblin IS related to them.” A blue-skinned Sprite with a prosthetic eye and right arm then filled the screen. Unfortunately, it was the same Sprite Arsha had thought she killed in the Fae Republic’s Capital Tree.
“Cytanek Yavenag Borg!” she breathed.
“DOCTOR Cytanek Yavenag Borg,” hissed Dr. Borg.
“But…I saw you fall to your death!” spluttered Arsha. “You didn’t have enough time to prepare a new body!”
“I didn’t, no,” replied Dr. Borg, “but the equipment that makes another body for me did so automatically. It began making me a new one the instant my life signs terminated. My mind was in a state of limbo for half an hour as a new body was made for me. I thought the equipment needed my constant presence to make a new body but it looks like that theory was debunked. My next goal will be to make the process faster so I’m not in a state of tedium and boredom for half an hour.”
“So what’s the goal here?!” demanded Arsha.
“A recruitment drive,” explained Dr. Borg. “I needed someone that could effectively lead you into a trap. I will freely admit, my trap-planning is subpar. Jansha’s, on the other hand, exceeds my expectations! I’m halfway tempted to adopt her as my daughter!”
“Thank you, Dr. Borg,” bid Jansha. “You’d be a far superior mom than Dr. Ganshar.”
“What now?” hissed Arsha.
“Jansha will be leaving while you fall headfirst into one of the Grand Storm’s funnels!” declared Dr. Borg. “Jansha, we’re ready to pick you up.”
“Do it!” replied Jansha. A runic circle appeared beneath her and she faded in blue light.
“Captain, the engines are giving off more power!” reported Thangred as the Scorpion moved off and cloaked.
“Our course is turning us towards the funnel!” warned Nazay.
“Captain, I have a suggestion!” called Oak.
“Name it!” ordered Arsha.
“We increase power to the engines!” explained Oak. “We’re going near the funnel on our starboard side, turning slowly to match that course! If we increase speed…!”
“We’d be causing the turn to be smaller, thus going between the funnels and getting shot out like a cannon!” realized Arsha.
“On the other hand,” protested Dr. Ganshar, “we’d hit the other funnel and be just as destroyed!”
“Better to die trying than die not doing anything!” declared Arsha. “Thangred, did you get all that?!”
“Loud and clear!” reported Thangred. “Ready at your command!”
“Now’s a good time!” suggested Oak.
“Thangred, divert whatever power you can to the engines!” ordered Arsha. “Nazay, floor it!”
“Just so you know, Commander,” called Nazay to Oak, “this is a reckless course of action!”
“I’ll live with that!” replied Oak.
“Assuming we live that long!” argued Dr. Ganshar.
“You, zip it!” ordered Arsha. The Endeavor increased speed, making the turn smaller as predicted. Just then, the ship shook.
“We’re in the Storm’s vacuum corridor!” reported Malak.
“I’ve lost helm control!” warned Nazay.
“Everyone, hang on!” called Arsha. The ship was tossed around by the violent winds and lightning as it went between both funnels. The crew was bounced around like popcorn being cooked. Finally, battered, weary, but still flying, the Endeavor escaped the storm as predicted, causing everyone to feel the speed.
“That lighting shot reset the systems!” announced Nazay. “I have helm control again!”
“All stop!” ordered Arsha. The ship activated its brakes and slowed down. It DID stop, but the crew could have been better. Answering all stop caused everyone to lose their balance and hit the floor. As she picked herself up from the now spilled water tank that was her seat, Shalvey checked with all decks.
“All decks reporting in,” she called. “Some crewmembers are a little worse for wear, by that I mean they’re looking at a visit to Sick Bay in the near future. Marshii’s reported she needs an Engineer’s help to fix her legs.”
“Have an uninjured Engineer give her a hand with that,” ordered Arsha as she helped others up. “After that, get security up here to put Dr. Ganshar in the brig.”
“What for?!” protested Dr. Ganshar.
“Dr. Ganshar, your abuse of Jansha caused her to do this!” hissed Arsha. “You denied her the rights that were due to her! As Captain of the Endeavor, I’m placing you under arrest for violation of Sentience Clause 4, Subsection A, Paragraph III!”
“She was not sentient!” roared Dr. Ganshar.
“Not what the Arties’ Committee will say!” dismissed Arsha. Security came up and Dalengor motioned for her to be taken to the brig.
“I have a lot of friends in the Realmfleet Robotics Division!” warned Dr. Ganshar. The door shut behind them.
“You’re going to need them,” muttered Arsha as she replaced her hairpiece. “Shalvey, get me in touch with Rellmeer, Slamfal, and Admiral Rokalla.” She directed.
“Slamfal’s gonna be an easy one to contact,” replied Shalvey. “He’s been trying to get into contact with us since this all went down.”
“I’ll take it in my ready room,” directed Arsha. As the door shut behind her, Oak chuckled.
“Nazay, I never realized you took me to be reckless,” he chuckled.
“A poor choice of words,” replied Nazay. “That was clearly an understatement.”
“My swan song,” sighed Oak happily.
“Swan song?” repeated Shalvey as she finished connecting the call. Oak then realized what he said and sighed.
“My fellow crewmates,” he began, “it’s been a pleasure working with you all, but the time has come for me to leave Realmfleet.”
“You’re retiring, Sir?” yelped Shalvey.
“I’m afraid so, Commander,” confirmed Oak. “My wife is expecting and I swore I’d be there for both her and our child.”
“Oh,” muttered Nazay. “Well, that IS your privilege, considering your long career.”
“But, it wouldn’t hurt to keep in touch, would it?” asked Shalvey.
“No, I don’t suppose it would,” chuckled Oak.