[This is the third in a series of oral histories about the night the Contagion broke out on the Mordesh homeworld.]
I witnessed the crash of the Arovolkin. The ship came down calamitously, but the Ekose at the helm – Captain Barbio – brought her in without losing his co-pilot, their petite passenger, or anyone on the ground who hadn’t already turned.
I was especially grateful for that final fragment of fate. Like little Yashka, I too had lost many people already, but unlike her, I was not alone.
My wife had, at my insistence, taken our first dose of Everlife – the only one we could afford, to be truthful. She was transformed within minutes. My loving bride, a doting mother who spoiled our son at every opportunity, tried to kill him almost immediately. I was merely acting on instinct when I killed her. I was more deliberate when I killed the others on the way to the ship crash.
I don’t know what I expected. An escape pod capable of escape velocity, maybe? A cache of killbots to repel the
Ravenous? Instead, I found a pair of Ekose – a freighter captain and his shiphand first mate – along with little Yashka.
The next several days were a blur. The city was a charnel house, but our little group – me, the Ekose, my son, and the girl – somehow held out. The ship was largely intact, serving as a surprisingly sturdy shelter against the Ravenous hordes – the ones who made it past our weapons fire.
The Arovolkin had been a weapons smuggler. An
amazing stroke of luck. But even their stock began to run dry on the evening of the fourth day. Despite the corpses everywhere, the number of Ravenous seemed unchanged. We wondered if we were the last people truly alive and conscious on the planet – or possibly the universe.
A call answered those final desperate questions just as we loaded in the last of our ammunition. A stealth shuttle from an Exile blockade runner was en route. They had the security codes for passing
the blockade courtesy of someone they only identified as the Widow. Of course, I now know who it was, and I’m amazed at her ability to organize what was left of us before it was too late. Had she not kept the mob from slaughtering Lazarin, let alone arranging for evacuation to the Exile Fleet, the Mordesh would never have survived.
Now Yashka is grown and a soldier. My son Ulyn is a talented alchemist. Like me, their flesh is dead, but the Vitalus keeps us going. I do
not keep in touch with them as much as I should.
I still see Captain Barbio and Mikee from time to time. They offer to buy me drinks, but I always decline. Remembering the hope of rescue only causes the pain of reality to sting this cold, dead flesh. Let Grismara remember.
– Ulik Yunkev, Survivor of Grismara