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A-to-Z Challenge — Letter X

April 28, 2015

Xenocratic Deligation

Astraeus Earth Force Station, 2115 A.D.

“Sir, I’ve been monitoring Alex Murphy’s intercom link. He just got a call from S&R. He’s got on a mask and hooded sweatshirt. He’s on the move and headed there now,” Shannehey reported over the link-in.

Davies looked down at Rourke’s bleeding shoulder and then at his link-in. Dr. Agarwal knelt down beside him, removed his hand and placed hers over the wound. “Go, Charles. I will tend to this,” she said as she pushed him away with a gentle nudge.

“On my way. Don’t let him out of your sight!” Davies screamed at his link-in as he stood up. He motioned for several officers to follow him and headed out of the funeral airlock.

S&R was just on the other side of the docking area about thirty meters away from the airlock. Mechanics was in the opposite direction, but only 20 meters from S&R. Davies estimated that they could sneak up on Murphy without detection if they stayed close to the outer rim of the S&R compound. He led the officers through docking, weaving in and out of the delivery ships until they came upon the edge of S&R. He motioned for half of the team to head to the eastern side of the bay opening. Along with the remaining officers, Davies took up position at the western end. From his view point, he saw Murphy enter S&R from the opposite direction. Moments later, he saw Shannehey holding back at the bay entrance on that side.

Davies watched as Murphy headed to a small enclosure where several crates rested on a dolly. He stopped, opened several of the crates and nodded at an attendant standing nearby. After sealing the crates back up, Murphy tilted the dolly and began pushing it towards the lift. Once inside the lift, Shannehey came out of his hiding spot and went over to the lift. After a couple of seconds, he ran across S&R to Davies.

“He’s going to the Caverns, sir,” Shannehey said as he gasped for air.

“Okay men!” Davies yelled into his link-in at the ones on the eastern side of the bay opening. When they joined him, he squatted down as the officers circled around him. “Shannehey, I want you to lead a team down to the Caverns. Stay positioned just outside. I will lead the rest of you to the casino. As soon as I talk to the Commander, we go!”

Davies called up Dr. Agarwal on his link-in. When she answered, he inquired about the Commander.

“He’s all bandaged up, Charles. He will be fine. It was merely a scratch,” she reported back.

“Let me talk to him. Tell him channel 4.”

“Do you have Murphy?” Rourke asked as he came on the line.

“Not yet. He is headed to the Caverns though. The shipment came in a day early.”

“I will meet you there.”

“I can handle this, Jeremy.”

“I am fine, Charles. I want this bastard now!” Rourke exclaimed and ended the call.

Davies and his officers piled into the lift. They were silent but alert as it descended down. When the door opened, Davies peeked out one side and Shannehey glanced out the other. They turned to one another and gave a nod. The officers exited the lift and half took up with Shannehey down the corridor to the entrance of the Caverns. Davies waited with his team until Rourke arrived.

The lift opened again and Rourke stepped out. One arm of his black uniform was ripped clean off and his left shoulder sported a white bandage. His arm was in a sling to keep it immobile. He looked like hell, but at least the shot of painkillers Dr. Agarwal gave him had taken effect. He felt nothing. He joined up with Davies.

“You sure you are up to this?” Davies questioned when he saw the shape Rourke was in.

Rourke nodded and took out his laser. “Let’s do this!”

Rourke, Davies and the other officers of the team made their way down the corridor and met up with Shannehey’s team. Shannehey assured them that Murphy was still in the casino and they moved forward into the caverns. Stealth-like, they crept through the first set of tent dwellings, took a left hook before the second set of tents and approached the entrance to the casino. Davies lifted his hand for the officers to halt. With Rourke by his side, they tip-toed to the doorway. Davies peered inside. Jack Sparks and Alex Murphy were in a heated argument.

“You said tomorrow!” Sparks screamed as he walked away from the crates.

Murphy followed him and yelled back, “I work on my time table, not yours! Do you want the goods or not?”

“Of course I want them!”

“Then why the hesitation?” Murphy asked as he pulled a telebanker out of a pocket in his sweatshirt. “Code in your bank account!”

Sparks rubbed the back of his neck. He was stalling and Davies could tell he didn’t know what to do. Davies looked at Rourke and nodded, then signaled his men. They burst through the door, lasers raised and tables flying across the room.

“Get down on the floor! Both of you!” Davies ordered the two men.

Sparks fell to the floor and put his hands behind his back. Murphy tried to dart past Davies, but Rourke was waiting for him. He struck Murphy across the throat with his laser. The red-headed man fell flat on the floor and cupped his hands around his throat. Rourke bent down and ripped the black mask off of his face.

“Alex Murphy,” Davies said as he pulled the man up and cuffed him, “you are under arrest for conspiracy, treason, illegal trafficking, handling forbidden artifacts, murder and ah hell, I am sure I can think of a dozen other crimes to charge you with!”

Rourke looked the burly man in the eyes. “Your brother is dead,” he said with satisfaction in his voice.

Murphy twisted and jerked his body as he fought to get away from Davies. His eyes were red with rage as he screamed at Rourke. “You ruined my father and killed my brother! I will get you. Someday, I will kill you!”

Rourke laughed, and then in a more serious tone, he yelled, “Get this piece of shit out of here!”

Davies passed Murphy off to Shannehey. “Take him to the hole. I want two guards on him at all times.”

Rourke patted Davies on the back. “We did well today,” he declared. “But right now, I’ve got a funeral to finish.”

“You should rest, Jeremy,” Davies said. He was concerned for his friend.

“Later. Katie needs closure and so do the rest of us.”

“Okay. I will wrap this up here and join you in a bit,” Davies said.

As Rourke left the casino, he called Tomas on his link-in. “I’m on my way. Where are Katie and Dr. Agarwal?”

“I escorted them to Dr. Agarwal’s quarters, sir.”

“I will get them. Can you get the Chaplin back down there?”

“Yes, sir. Right away.”

Rourke ended the call and took the lift to Dr. Agarwal’s quarters and knocked on the door. As he waited for the doctor to answer, he shifted the sling on his arm. The pain in his shoulder was back. He winced just as the doctor opened the door.

“Jeremy! You are safe!” Ananda cried as she flung her arms around him and hugged him.

Rourke winced again, but hugged her back. “I am fine. We got him.”

“You are not fine,” she whispered as she traced the lines of his face with her hand. “Let me give you another shot.”

Rourke followed her into the small seating area of her quarters and smiled at his daughter who was sitting on a chair. “Really, Ananda, I am okay. We need to get down to the airlock and finish the funerals,” he protested as she led him to a small couch.

“This will only take a moment. Sit!”

Rourke gave her a sheepish grin and sat down. Ananda went into her bedroom and returned moments later with a medgun. She pressed it against his arm and gave him a shot of painkiller.

“There, that should hold you for a little while,” she said as she rubbed the spot with a piece of gauze.

Rourke stood up and kissed her on the cheek. “Fit as a fiddle!” he exclaimed. “Come, ladies. Let’s put some souls to rest.”



The next morning, Rourke slid out of bed, holding his left arm steady as he got to his feet. He was still exhausted from the evening before. The funerals took nearly two hours. He could still hear the airlock as it opened and the sound of the bugle as it played a soulful song. The Chaplin said a few words to the mournful crowd and then Rourke gave his funeral speech.

“We are stardust. The Universe runs within our veins and as we leave this life, we return to the Stars. I commit these bodies to space.”

They had all stood there and watched as over a hundred caskets floated off into the darkness of space. He held Katie as she cried for her lost friend. For all of his bravery, even Rourke shed a few tears.

Afterwards, they’d had a late dinner and everyone resigned to their quarters. Rourke had been much too tired to argue about the painkiller Ananda shot into his arm again before he left her for the night. Now, the pain was back, but Rourke had no time for it. He’d called Earth Gov before he went to sleep and was expecting a call back early this morning. He dressed as well as he could, put the sling back on his arm and left his quarters.

Rourke arrived in Command as his intercom system went off. He punched in the secure code and Admiral Chase’s face appeared on the screen.

“Good morning, Commander,” the Admiral said.

“Good morning, Admiral. I take it you’ve seen my report?”

“Indeed I have. You and Chief Davies did some really good work apprehending Alex Murphy. The IBI wants to prosecute him right away.”

“I can get him on an airship later today, sir.”

“That won’t be necessary, Commander. A xenocratic delegation from the Alien Alliance is on its way there. They should arrive later today.”

“Xenocratic, sir? Does this mean there will be no Earthlings on the delegation, only alien nations?”

“That is correct. The IBI has taken jurisdiction because of Mr. Murphy’s connections with the Makaa. They want to try this solely as an offense against the Alien Alliance. It is out of my hands, Commander.”

Rourke nodded. “Very well, Admiral. We will welcome them and allow them to proceed.”

“Good day to you, Commander,” the Admiral said as he saluted Rourke and signed off.

Rourke shook his head and sat down at his desk. He didn’t feel sorry for Murphy yesterday, but today, he honestly pitied the man. Without the compassion of Earthlings, Murphy would be tried and convicted by the Alien Alliance. If he didn’t warrant a death sentence, when they aliens got done with him, he would wish himself dead.

(more to come in tomorrow’s challenge!)

  1. Do you have any video of that? I’d love to find out more details.

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