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Jupiter’s Ghost –by Kate
Nashira sped West across the plain, her land speeder flying just inches from the ground. The digital map on the dash told her she was three miles from her destination. A tall cliff rose out of the horizon in front of her. She steered the vehicle toward it. A light blinked on the screen signaling an incoming transmission. She touched it and a hologram of Tyrell appeared on the dash.
“Nashira. Where are you?” Tyrell’s voice came faintly through the speaker. Nashira turned the volume up.
“I’m a few miles from the outpost. I’ll be there soon.”
“Well you better hurry. General Kuiper knows where you are. A patrol has been dispatched from Rackmai.”
“What! How did he find me?”
“My guess is someone saw you when you left the port.”
“Doubtful. I was wearing a holo suit. Anyone who saw me would have seen an angry Hurian.”
“Is there any other kind of Hurian?”
Nashira grinned. “Not that I know of.” She slowed to a stop at the base of the cliffs.
“Tyrell, I’ve reach the facility.”
“Good. Contact me when you’ve finished.”
“I will” Nashira reached over to end the transmission.
She stopped her hand hovering over the screen. “Yeah?”
“Don’t take any chances.” His face was earnest. “Get out of there before Kuiper or the patrol reach you.”
Nashira smiled slightly. “I promise.”
He smiled. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” Nashira ended the transmission. She grabbed her pack from the side seat and stepped out of the speeder. She walked to the rock wall of the cliff. “Hologram deactivate.” The portion of the wall in front of her disappeared to reveal a metal door built into the side of the rock.
“Please state you name,” a electronic voice commanded.
“Nashira Ellix Dangent.”
“Voice confirmed. Please enter.” The door swung open. Nashira stepped into the dim interior. Lights came on in front of her as she walked down a long hall. She came to the end and entered a large room that was half filled with a gigantic computer.
“Welcome back, Princess Nashira,” a voice said from the back of the room.
Nashira looked up, searching for its owner. “Mal, for the last time I’m not a princess.”
The humanoid droid walked out of the shadows. “My programming says otherwise, Your Royal Highness.”
Nashira rolled her eyes. She could shoot Tyrell for messing with the droids programing. “Mal, I need you to lock down the facility and have Jojo bring in my speeder. Monitor the scanners and let me know of any incoming ships.”
“Expecting trouble, Your Highness?”
“Yeah. A whole lot of it.” She crossed the room. “I’ll be in the lab.”
The lab was a huge room that took up half the complex. Half-finish droids leaned against one wall. A stasis pod was inset into the wall opposite. Spare parts littered the floor and tables. At the far end of the room a window overlooked the launch pad. In the center of the lab stood a work station fit with a holo computer. Nashira went to it. “Right,” she sighed. “Time to get to work.”
She opened her bag and pulled out an energy tablet, which she interfaced with the holo computer. A message requesting a pass code popped up on the holo screen. “Computer, began decryption process.” There was a whir of motion on the screen as the computer responded. A moment later a timer popped up showing twenty-five minutes to completion.
Nashira left the work station and wandered deeper into the room, picking through boxes for any useful items. On a table in the far corner of the room she found two holo discs. She activated the first and a still hologram of an eleven year old Nashira, with her two parents, appeared. They were seated on a bench in front of a setting sun. All three smiled into the lens as if there was not a worry in the world. The image caused Nashira’s eyes to fill with tears. That had been their last family picture before the terrible accident that made her an orphan. No, not an accident. Her parents were murdered. She slipped the disc into her pocket and activated the second one. This one was a moving image. Tyrell running his hand through his thick brown hair, his dark eyes sparkling as he laughed. Nashira smiled at the image. She slipped the disc into her pocket with the first.
Behind her the computer dinged, signaling that the decryption process was complete. As she walked back to the work station, Mal’s voice came over the intercom. “Princess Nashira, the scanner is detecting three speeders heading this way from Rackmai.”
“Most likely soldiers sent by Kuiper. How soon until they get here?” Nashira reached the computer and began shifting through data on the screen.
“Approximately fifteen minutes. Shall I send out Jojo to greet them when they arrive?”
“No, they may not know exactly where the entrance is and I don’t want to help them find it. For now just put him on stand-by.” Nashira clicked into a file that looked promising: Research on genetic enhancement.
“Very well. Jojo is on stand-by near the entrance.”
“Ah ha!” Nashira smiled as the file she was looking for popped up on the screen.
“By your exclamation of delight, I assume you found what you were looking for,” Mal commented.
“You can say that again!”
“Very well. By your exclamation of de…”
“That was an expression, Mal.” Nashira interrupted.
Nashira plugged a chip the size of a thumbnail into the computer. “Mal, head to the launch room and get the G68 Pod started up.”
“Right away, Your Highness. Shall I send the security scans to your screen?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
Images appeared on the screen. A map of the countryside showed the fast approaching speeders. Next to it was a live feed of the area outside the front door. Nashira swiped the images to the second screen and continued her work. She copied the files onto the computer chip and ejected it.
As she closed out of the files, a different document caught her eye. Dangent Family. She clicked on it and began to read. Tears sprang into her eyes. She clenched her teeth and balled her fists. “He’ll pay for this, Dad.” she mumbled.
Categories: Critique Group