[This is the second in a series of oral histories about the night the Contagion broke out on the Mordesh homeworld.]
My co-pilot was the one who figured out something was going on first. Heck, I might never have figured it out if I was on my own. A Longhaul-class freighter doesn’t just fly herself, and I had dials, sticks, and gages to manage. But ol’ Mikee, he saw the way people on the ground weren’t walking around like they usually did. Some of them were, I suppose, but we
later figured out those folks were probably dying. Most of them were running in groups in erratic ways.
He’d gotten me watching ’em too when we saw the killing start. Now the runners were biting and beating and dismembering any living creature they could find, which included their fellow Mordesh and some really unfortunate pets and livestock.
If we hadn’t just unloaded most of our cargo, I probably wouldn’t have done it, but something about the violence –
the sheer madness of it, you understand, the sudden horror of it – compelled me to act.
Mikee pointed out I should have listened to the news on the wireless band. Today, the Everlife Elixir was supposed to turn the Mordesh immortal. Victor Lazarin was gonna be the biggest hero the universe had ever seen, the man who killed death. Guess it went bad, huh?
So we swung the Arovolkin in low, looking for people who weren’t crazy. Just to make sure we
didn’t regret leaving for the rest of our lives, you know what I mean? That’s when we saw the girl, must have been six or seven years old if she was a day – screaming, crying for her parents, confused, terrified. But she wasn’t running at anyone, just from a half-collapsed building. I hit the landing lights, and we touched down just far enough away not to send the kid running away in terror.
Yashka didn’t say much once she came onboard. I’m kind of surprised she did, in the end.
Two strange blue guys show up out of the sky and try to take you into space after watching your parents kill each other? Brave kid.
Of course, we all had a chance to regret it not long after that. No sooner had we gotten our new passenger settled in and restrained – just in case – than the biggest fleet I’ve ever seen dropped into orbit from out of nowhere.
And they dropped in firing. We took three hits before I even had time to raise the
defensive screens. I had just enough time to apologize to little Yashka before we crashed, and she just nodded.
– Captain Barbio, Ekose Freighter Arovolkin