Savannah looked out the window. Thin smoke was rising from behind the old clock tower, and the always so busy street was now suspiciously empty. Alarmed, she dialed Nen’s number on a pliant little gadget inside a panel of her desktop communicator, waited a few seconds and dialed one more time. Nen was not responding.
Savannah wondered about his priority message earlier this morning. She couldn’t make much of it; technical noise jammed the transmission. She looked out again. Something was not right.
While she was about to close the window, a frantic cry came from around the corner and a distressed woman in her mid 30’s ran through the street as if she were being chased. A sleeve of her bloodstained coral dress was torn and her brown pumps were missing a heel. She was deliriously waving her blaster to no effect.
A mighty roar in the distance caused the woman shrug and draw nearer to the wall. The roar closed in as its echo shook the neighborhood. The woman was looking for someone, knocking on doors and screaming.
Savannah froze behind the blinds. Her door was next so she decided not to wait-in one grab she pulled the fugitive inside.
“Shhh… Not a sound! Keep to the floor.” The woman exhaled, terrified. “It’s here!”
“What are you running from? Who are you?” Savannah whispered back, shaking off angst. Whatever had happened to her uninvited guest, it must have been very bad-she was getting weaker by the moment.
“I’m a tracker. I just got back from Andromeda, worked on a station there, undercover. The Aurorans have insurgents everywhere. Not that civilians are supposed to know that…” The woman coughed blood at an attempted laugh. “My last assignment was to investigate disappearance of two female officers on the station. That case led me to many more…Now my partner is dead and I will be too, soon, but not before this…” Savannah noticed a tiny silver sphere in the woman’s hand. The woman forced herself to stay awake. Her coral dress was soaked-she was bleeding out.
“You’re wounded. Hang in, I’ll get the kit.” Savannah crawled into the kitchen to fetch first aid utilities. When she returned, the woman was barely conscious.
“Don’t waste your time, I can’t be helped anymore. Here, take this.” The sphere slipped into Savannah’s palm. “It’s the Auroran memory chip. The data is encrypted. Nen is the only one who can crack the code and deliver the list to the High Council without compromising the entire operation. Maybe it’s not too late.”
“Wait a minute…Nen? My brother?” Savannah’s head was spinning. “He’s not here. I’ve been trying to reach him all morning.” So, the woman’s ending up in Savannah’s home was no coincidence. Nen indeed knew someone who knew someone in the High Council, but he didn’t like talking about his connections.
“Yes, him. His profile is in our system. Yours too.” Savannah’s eyes widened. She reckoned there was more to her brother’s life, but didn’t fancy finding herself in the middle of an espionage thriller.
The woman gasped for air and continued in a fainting whisper. “Listen carefully. I need to leave immediately. Use your neutralizer. You have one in the kit, don’t you? It should be sufficient to erase evidence of my ever being here. They sent a neuro-robot to follow us…me…He killed my partner and is now sniffing through town. I managed to burn a part of his matrix, but Auroran technology is highly sophisticated. He’s adapting as we speak. Whatever happens, he should not find you.” She pulled out a pill from a secret compartment inside her belt.
Savannah heard rumors of such inventions. The drug was said to put a person in some sort of a temporary hypnotic state, inducing a nerve block and causing rapid recuperation. The catalyzed abnormally high energy level was enabling subjects to work through pain and injury, but would wear off quickly. The effects were lethal and the drug’s application was restricted to military personnel, to be used in terminal cases.
The woman got up, gave Savannah a brave look and stepped outside just as another powerful roar spread through the street so close Savannah had to cover her ears. She then reached for the first aid kit where she kept her neutralizer.
Nen parked his capsuloid on the roof and hurried to transport down to Savannah’s place. He doubted that his sister got his message; there was so much interference on every channel. He managed to alert several friends, and they, in turn, exercised necessary precautions. By the time Nen arrived, the entire town was locked down.
Savannah’s worried face startled him the moment his body materialized out of the tube, but instead of making a scene, she handed him the sphere and sat down.
After Nen’s manipulations with the Auroran code, the two were looking at a cryptic list of names.
“Terminated, I suppose…” Nen pointed to the crossed ones. “And those with red dots next to them are due, scheduled for. Do you understand?” He turned to Savannah.
“Why only women? And what are these symbols?” She was shocked and confused; her stomach was curling from nausea.
“High Council speculated that the Aurorans were behind nasty bio experiments on humans, but there was no hard evidence to go with.” Nen continued. “A large number of female residents with infertility problems went through artificial insemination in our clinic on Andromeda’s station. Seventy percent of them disappeared in the third trimester.”
“The insurgents!” Savannah jolted at recalling the tracker’s warning.
“Indeed. The symbols must be names of Auroran infiltrators. Impregnated and carrying alien fetuses, the women became disposable after the extraction. This here is the proof.” Nen shut down his decoder and was now inspecting his blaster.
“What will happen when we deliver this list to the High Council?” Savannah looked up at her twin brother, seeking to confirm what she already knew-Earth was bracing for an interstellar war.
Camilla Stein ©2011. All rights reserved.