Zethal looked out of the huge windows in front of him and the vibrant view of two beautiful moons reflected back at him. One of the Moons, Abula Alpha, was swimming in a pink nebula, while the other, Abula Beta, was floating in front of him with an azure glow. Zethal knew that if he were to fail to stop the activities of the Vadda battleship within probably half an hour with his three-member team, the panorama of these celestial bodies and all the biosphere on it would be a thing of the past. He had no choice but to risk everything. His home and the Resistance itself depended on it.
A sudden sound of impact flashed through space and Zethal turned instinctively in the direction of the noise. The automatic entrance, which he short-circuited after entering, was now being forced open by someone. The sound effects and the vibration of the metal door were obvious signs of that.
“You dogs, you’re already here!” Zethal whispered, trembling with adrenaline. He did not hesitate for another second to run up a gray flight of stairs to the control panel that controlled the secret weapon with which the Cooperative’s tyrannical rulers wanted to suppress the spark of resistance on the free planets forever. As soon as he got there, he was greeted by dozens of switches, buttons and levers, but Zethal was a computer hacker and very soon knew his way around all of it, his motivation constantly being aided by the metal door’s intensifying rumble.
He was meant to rewrite the control codes inside the reaction interface software so that it would perform a chaos-calculation for most commands which would implement immediate self-destruction as the most logical defense mechanism. The key is time! His commando comrade Arinn had been concealing large-scale detonation devices in various parts of the crew sector, which if launched would the allow emergency mode to be activated on the Vadda ship. This would make everything easier. Zethal tapped the codes on the surface of the displays with the speed of lightning, his hands fluttering, his sweat dripping onto the control panel. He knew all the while he was sealing his fate with this single act. They had no other choice.
The Cooperative had such wealth and advanced ammunition at their disposal that when the Resistance was notified by one of its spies about the new ionized crystal weapon that could allow the Cooperative to affect the geomagnetic field of an entire planet, they realized they must stop this weapon at all costs before it could be ever deployed. That included self-sacrifice as well.
The Vadda military ship had such a potent energy shield and internal system opposed to the few dozen ordinary ships and sometimes questionable crew of the Resistance that an upfront ambush was out of question.
The system responded well and Zethal had just started overwriting the last command sequence when the metal door slammed open, accompanied by a huge explosion and a ball of smoke. Zethal was completely open to the Cooperative’s squads and he groaned in alarm quickly pressing a button on his communication watch to send a signal to the rest of his team, indicating that he had been found. Then he tried to pull his laser gun from his left pocket, but in vain, because before he could turn around or jump into the potential shelter of the control panel, a nerve-paralyzing blue bolt found the back of his neck and, as Zethal was quite familiar with this gun and its effects so he immediately realized he had been defeated.
Arinn was a gothar, that is, a member of a galactic species that was considered to be one of the physically strongest in the Universe. His orange, faintly glowing skin had exceptional hardness to it and he was also impressive in size. Unfortunately, this also meant that Arinn could not easily mingle with the soldiers of the Cooperative’s on-board division, even though he was wearing the same (stolen) uniform. He knew that if it were to come to a melee fight with the soldiers, he should definitely take advantage of his racially inherent immunity and strength, for example with his 30-inch fists. And Arinn was prepared to do so as soon as he heard the alarm signaling an intrusion.
Arinn hoped he had hidden enough detonation devices in the canteens and crew departments where the vast majority of the crew happened to be presently, as in a minute it would be impossible to get in or out. After the head of the operation, Zethal, used their spies to find out how Vadda’s security system worked, they had to come up with an interesting solution to separate themselves from the soldiers from them at the crucial moment. The firewall did not allow the emergency command codes to be removed under any circumstance, but Zethal was able to reverse the order of the sectors to be closed. Thus, if a fire broke out in the crew class, for example, instead of separating the dangerous departments from the rest of the ship, the rest of the ship would be shut off from the soldiers’ sector.
Arinn was just passing through a corridor next to two guards when the alarm sounded, instantly shifting the entire department’s atmosphere into one of danger. The two guards looked at each other, then at Arinn, someone they believed to be their fellow soldier. He knew he couldn’t waste a second hiding anymore and slammed his chest straight into one of the guards, who bumped into the metal side of the hallway and hit his head hard. The other guard reacted too quickly and got out an energy whip from his waist wrapping it around Arinn’s neck with a swing. The energy whip burned Arinn’s neck, suffocating him. He had not expected such fast reaction and gripped the coiled weapon hard with his hands, trying in vain to ease its pressure. The guard held the gun tightly for a while, then reached for his laser pistol with his other hand, but luckily Arinn could kick him right in his abdomen, causing him to pass out just long enough for Arinn to knock him out his elbow.
After the man was on the ground next to his companion, both unconscious, Arinn found the whip’s activation button and turned it off, releasing himself from the distressing embrace. He glanced at the control device attached to his left arm under the uniform, which would trigger the detonation. He wasn’t close enough to escape yet, so he started running hurriedly toward the secret control panel. As Arinn entered a huge hall, thousands of soldiers rushed in from many different directions and, taking advantage of the busy scene, he held his communication watch to his mouth, sending a message to Zethal.
“Zethal! I’m Arinn. What your status? I still need a few minutes and then I am ready to set off the bombs” – but there was no response. Arinn switched channels and tried to send a message to the third member of their team, the feline Elenia, who was responsible for the logistic side of the operation and being an experienced spy and assassin, was supposed to use her special sneaking and camouflage skills to potentially terminate the lord of the Vadda ship, Commander Morro.
“Elenia, sign in! Zethal doesn’t answer. I still need time. Did you succeed in the chess-king operation? (which covered the assassination of Morro) Are we going to be able to escape on something?” No response. Arinn was just about ready not to wait any longer when a seductive female voice answered.
“Arinn! It’s Elenia from Sector H. I detached a small emergency pod as planned and directed it towards Abula B. We just have to get there and our escape route is certain. I have not reached the chess king yet.”
“All right, clear!” Arinn whispered and started running even faster parallel to dozens of soldiers towards the sector of the control panel.
“Something’s not right” he thought, guessing that something must have happened to Zethal. He entered Sector F and paused for a moment. He tried to message Zethal again, then feeling like he was finally running out of time, pulled his uniform off his arm, and began to start the detonation, but unfortunately, luck had turned against him. At the same moment he revealed the obviously dangerous device on his arm, several soldiers rushed in from both sides of the corridor and immediately opened fire on him.
Arinn exclaimed in surprise and anger, then threw himself to the side, trying to get protection from the laser bolts using his other arm’s armor, on the back of which he could already feel the burning results of this. Being Gothar, he endured much more than a human for example, but his skin was not invincible either. He managed to throw a smoke bomb at his attackers and headed for the west corridor exit, while he fired back with his laser gun towards the east side.
He dodged most of the laser bolts and Arinn hit two enemy soldiers, but more and more people flooded the small room. Arinn hurried, turning his head back and forth with haste trying to defend himself from both sides, but it was impossible and a precise laser shot hit his left knee. Arinn shouted in pain and knew speed would not continue to serve him today. Seeing no alternative, he decided to make a desperate move and aimed his weapon at the control device attached to his arm, then pulled the trigger.
The embers of the smaller explosion also reached his face and he felt as if fire was penetrating his veins. His roar was probably heard very well even over the great chaos, even from afar. And the detonation device’s response was also immediate, the result of which could be felt and heard all around them. The cost was the palm of Arinn’s left hand. Trembling, he tried to cover the rest of his hand with a piece of cloth.
A big rumble and the whole sector shook so hard that the soldier attacking Arrin all fell to the ground. There was a mixture of huge noises, squeaking, roars, alarms and metal door slams. Arinn came to and, with his last strength, made his way to the eastern exit, zigzagging between the shocked men trying to get up.
He could only jog slowly, and with his remaining laser pistol in his right hand he tried fiercely to hit anything and anyone who got in his way while hearing the threatening noise of the metal doors slamming fast behind him, one after the other. At one point he turned left and collided with a soldier looking like a special elite guard, then thanks to a quick instinct he knocked him over with his own head, then shot another elite guard in the neck. Only then did he see a humanoid man standing light-headedly in handcuffs between the two guards. The realization painted the first smile of the day on Arinn’s face. It was Zethal!
Zethal blinked with dazed eyes, apparently not yet recovered from the effects of the nerve-paralyzing projectile, but in the end he was the first to speak.
“Zethal, you can’t believe how happy I am to see you! I thought it was all over for you.”
“Mee too… but unfortunately I couldn’t finish the whole thing. I was found at the last minute whe-“ but Zethal couldn’t finish his sentence, because a whole new kind of whistling sound ran through the whole ship and a strange intensifying vibration started shaking the plateau beneath their feet. Zethal and Arinn looked at each other, Arinn stepped closer to hold the dazed Zethal who could barely stand. They helped each other to the nearest window, although afterwards they wished they hadn’t done so, as the sight was exactly what they had never wanted to witness in their lives: a beam of purple energy shot from the ionized crystal cannon, heading from the weapon compartment below them straight towards Abula Alpha. It was too late.
Elenia was crawling through a vent when her communication watch started beeping insanely. As a feline, she easily crawled, climbed, jumped on most surfaces and thanks to her small size, was able to traverse places that were unthinkable for other species.
“Elenia! Can you hear me? The weapon has been initiated! The ionized crystal is targeting Abula Alpha right at this moment!” Arinn’s voice cried out. The message could not have come at a worse time. Elenia was only a few meters away from General Morro’s main hall and Elenia was afraid she had been already noticed because of the loud communication watch she had left on when she spoke with Arinn.
“Elenia! I couldn’t reprogram all the command codes; they broke into the control room too soon. I don’t know what to do, Arinn is badly wounded. Where are you?” Zethal’s dazed voice was audible this time. Elenia gritted her slightly pointed teeth.
“Gosh! These idiots just won’t give up!” she thought to herself, then decided, based on what she had heard, not to give in so soon.
Instead of replying to the message, she muted her communication watch with a click, hoping nobody had heard it and jostled forward in the restrictive space of the vent. She decided she would rather try getting one thing done at least, namely the chess king, rather than answering her comrades. She was too close to miss this opportunity.
As soon as she reached the right ventilation surface, she took a deep breath and pushed it aside, then jumped down at the same moment pulling her laser daggers out, ready to settle accounts with their greatest enemy, General Morro.
Elenia fell precisely on General Morro’s tactical table with the grace of a cat, that is, on her feet, and assessed her situation with wild eyes. It was an easy thing to do as the room was empty.
“Ah!” Elenia slammed a dagger angrily on the table and unmuted her watch.
“Zethal, I heard what you said earlier. I tried to catch Morro, but he’s not in his tactical room, though he should be here! All the information indicated this. What about the crystal?” Elenia snorted, waiting eagerly her partners’ reply.
“Elenia! Nice to hear from you. The crystal cannon is fully operating. The scene is terrifying. I think it will be a matter of 10 or 15 minutes and irreversible damage will befall the entire planet’s ecosystem.”
Elenia growled to herself, then began to jabber into her watch.
“Okay, listen! A small emergency pod is waiting to be launched in sector H. You could escape with that, go now!” she instructed her friends.
“We can still go back to the control room, maybe we can still overwrite the system, and we could rendezvous there” Arrin tried coming up with an alternative, but Elenia heard the pain in his voice.
“No Arrin! I can hear you’re badly wounded and Zethal is also not in the best shape to do this. I shall go. We’ll be in touch and while you are fleeing you can tell me what else I need to do at the control panel.
“Elenia, this may be completely in vain. We have to be realistic, the weapon has been switched on. You better get away from here as well! With us!” Zethal said desperately.
“I’m too far from Sector H. This is our only chance and I shall take it. I’m off to the control panel, you two, head to the ships! My decision is final and I’m leaving now!” Elenia stated fiercely and stopped communicating with her peers, signing off from the chat.
She began a swift rush through a small passage that led from the tactical hall to the control panel. Meanwhile, she was gripping firmly her laser daggers in her hands and focused on the task ahead. She might run into a lot of resistance in the control room, but she had to overcome them all. Thousands of lives depend on it. And the sole loss of her life after launching the self-destructive feature is a small price which she will happily pay if she knows that all her friends and loved ones on the Abula moons will be safe from the Cooperative for a while. Yes, so shall it happen.
Meanwhile, she also tried to memorize when she needed to enter another vent. She reached the spot and grabbed the lid of the opening, then jumped up into the ventilation system. She crawled through perhaps the last passage she would ever sneak into in her life, and when she saw through the holes below that she was in the right place, she cut a circle with her laser daggers into the cover, then kicked it down and jumped down on the two Cooperative guards. Before she reached the ground, she swung her arms vigorously and precisely to her sides and the two guards, with necks open, fell to the floor.
Elenia was about to jump at the next enemy, using the power of surprise to send at least a few more guards to the afterlife, but she was surprised to find that there were no more guards in the control room. There was only one living being in the control room besides her. That is, if such a twisted person could be called a living being. Yes, there was one obstacle standing now between her and the control panel: General Morro.
“Well well!” he turned around wearing a dark latex uniform. Earlier he had probably been admiring the destruction of Abula Alpha through the window. “I didn’t think I would receive such a guest today” he grinned and two laser pistols flashed in his hands.
“Actually, I am going to be your very last guest!” Elenia whispered threateningly and straightened up.
Morro attacked first. He commenced shooting deadly laser bolts at Elenia with relentless determination, whose graceful, light, and deflecting movements managed to dodge them, long enough for her to jump behind a metal table that could be used as a momentary shelter.
Elenia pondered her options, while Morro continued to besiege the table with heavy force, which in a few seconds would be nothing more than rags. Elenia chose to rely on her speed and recklessness and jumped out from behind the table in order to reach Morro from the sides.
The ship’s general was surprised at the move, but only for a second and already fired a new set of bolts at Elenia, who had to avoid death by ducking a very close laser bolt aimed at her chest. Morro laughed out loud, confident that the fight was over, but then Elenia did something unexpected and instead of trying to protect her face from the bolts with her daggers, as she had done so far, she now threw one of the daggers at Morro’s feet.
The dagger hit one of Morro’s ankles and the man shouted in anger, but was able to maintain his standing posture. Although her plan did not fully materialize, Elenia at least gained some time to get to another shelter. She circled the control panel from the right and leaped behind it, just before a series of new laser bolts carved some holes into it.
“You’re too late, see with your own eyes what will happen to those who rebel against the Cooperative!” Morro’s cry echoed throughout the control room. But Elenia didn’t pay any attention to his words, she was protected for a few brief seconds before Morro could approach her, as he wouldn’t have dared to shoot at the control panel out of security reasons and by then maybe Elenia’s plan would have a favorable outcome. She reached into her chest pocket and pulled out a round blinking device and turned it on.
Morro, meanwhile, approached the feline cautiously, already knowing how great a mistake the woman had made when she decided to hide behind the control panel, which offered a dead end. A few steps, a trigger pull and his victory would be final. He prepared and as he got close enough to the control panel, saw the shape of the feline rushing straight at him. Morro started firing. She didn’t even try to jump to the side like previously, she just ran straight at him and Morro fired and knew he had won.
On the fifth shot, which was one of many direct hits, he suddenly had a slight suspicion that something was wrong, because the woman kept running towards him, then something shiny gleamed from above and a silhouette, another woman was throwing something at him. Morro only saw the light of the electric blue laser dagger for a moment before it drilled right into his chest. He fell to his knees and didn’t understand a single thing. How could it be that the feline was running towards him and then jumping into the air at the exact same moment. Only when the running feline figure reached him and ran through him without any problems did he understand what had happened. The feline woman running towards him was a hologram.
Elenia landed one meter from Morro finishing her huge acrobatic leap with the elegance she always hid in her movements. She was facing her defeated enemy and said nothing just hissed at him before Morro closed his eyes forever.
Elenia had to act immediately, no matter how epic the present moment was. She ran up to the control panel and her home was revealed in front of her eyes, the wildlife of which the ship she was on could destroy within seconds.
“Zethal! Are you there? Did you manage to escape with the pods? I managed to reach the control panel, tell me the commands I need to embed, now!” Elenia shouted with widened eyes as she saw with her own eyes the pink atmosphere of Abula Alpha turning wild reddish and she didn’t want to imagine the effect of changing the geomagnetic field on her home moon. Fortunately, Zethal responded at once.
“Wow! You’re amazing Elenia! So do the following” – and the man began to explain the complicated codes that Elenia had to type into the control panel’s system one by one, reprogramming its software. When she was done with the last one, she slammed the “Enter” button a last time and held her breath, waiting for what would occur.
There was a huge noise, a ton of beeps as the system tried to perform the proper procedure, then suddenly a great silence reigned and Elenia began to cheer as the purple ray that had covered Abula Alfa so far, simply ceased to be.
“It worked! Arinn, Zethal we did it!” Elenia shouted, jumping up and down with joy. There was also a loud cheer coming from the other side of her communicator.
“Elenia, you stopped it! You really stopped it!”
“You were wonderful!” They praised her, then the ship responded to another command and more alarms were launched, announcing the initiation of the self-destruction mode.
Elenia was proud of herself and their mission was a success. Because of this, she knew she would die happily and therefore she was not disturbed despite the final outcome that was awaiting her.
“Have you left Zethal?” she asked his partner.
“I’m sorry, Elenia, we have already left a few minutes ago.” We waited for you for a while, but I heard the Cooperative’s squads approaching and I launched the pod towards Abula Alpha. You were the key, Elenia and the whole Resistance can live on thanks to you” Zethal announced emotionally.
“Yes, you’re a hero, Elenia, I’m so sorry it turned out like this. We will always remember you!” Arrin added hoarsely.
Elenia sat down in the control panel chair and decided to admire her beloved moon which was also the birthplace of the Resistance against the Cooperative’s rule. This will be the last thing she sees before she dies.
“Zethal, Arinn… Thank you for your friendship and all the nice times we had together. With my past, I would not have thought that I would be trusted within the Resistance. I was accepted for the first time in my life among your ranks. And my last years with the Resistance were truly wonderful. Thank you for that… Long live the spark of the Resistance and may the stars take care of you!” She decided this would be her last word to her friends, who had since long become her family throughout the years against the Cooperative. She turned off her communication watch.
She just kept marveling at the amazingly beautiful Abula Alpha and Abula Beta as they lay out in front of her eyes like a vibrant mesmerizing vision while the ship was vibrating more and more wildly. She knew there wasn’t much time left and she closed her eyes when suddenly something emitted a loud creak.
She turned her head to the side and saw a secret door opening in the wall. The illuminated inscription projecting above it said “General Morro Emergency Capsule is ready to be launched”. The recognition took her breath away: Morro had a secret emergency pod built into the control room all along. And it’s functional. It cannot be true! Then, laughing, she ran down the hallway leading to the little emergency vehicle.
As the capsule raced through space, Elenia watched the Vadda battleship explode, scattering a huge multitude of debris everywhere in the Galaxy. She had never seen such a sight before, and she had a feeling that, in all likelihood, she would never experience anything like this ever again. Yet as the capsule was approaching Abula Alpha, Elenia could only think of how much she liked surprising her companions, Arrin and Zethal, every now and then. The two men always resented her when she shocked them with something new and unexpected, but this made her enjoy it even more. And as soon as Elenia arrived at Abula Alpha, her friends would receive their biggest surprise ever. Anyway, in turn they had always teased Elenia because of her stature, fur, and other feline characteristics, but now she will finally show them that what she had claimed so many times has been true all along – that cats have nine lives (minimum).