Book 1, Chapter 2 - A History of Bad Behavior



Sands blow down a crowded street on Edari. Shackles clasp around a pair of human wrists. A colonial soldier yanks the pistol from Osborn’s holster. The pilot glares back at him.

COLONIAL SOLDIER: Eyes forward, human.

The Berenian sits idle behind them, its cargo hatch hanging open. Osborn squints into the wind.

A wounded Lieutenant Saranus Kron watches from a distance, engaged in a hushed conversation with his senior officer, Commander Strakker Tygg. The pilot grinds his teeth. The soldier shoves him forward. Osborn winces in pain.


The soldier leads him to a holding area where Oddie is also chained up and shoves him to the ground. Osborn yelps.

COLONIAL SOLDIER (CONT’D): Wait here. (then) Watch him.


A dozen more featureless colonial helmets stare at Osborn and Oddie from cover, pulse rifles tracking their every move.

Osborn sides up to the zaridian. Oddie’s jaws are locked in a muzzle. Osborn wipes blood from his forehead.


BEN OSBORN: Not good.


BEN OSBORN: I don’t know.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: And the flight computer?

BEN OSBORN: What flight computer?

Oddie looks at him sideways.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: The one Vedrahn gave you. They could trace us back to Veristan and then we’d really be grekked.

BEN OSBORN: Oh-- I didn’t even bring that.

Oddie scowls.


BEN OSBORN: Don’t need it.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: You’re flying with a-- You’re just a human, you need the computer.

BEN OSBORN: (agitated) Just drop it.

COLONIAL SOLDIER 2 (O.S.): Hey! No vocalizing!

They turn their attention to the two colonial officers in the distance. Kron glares back, then returns his attention to Tygg.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: They’re taking us back to their station.

BEN OSBORN: How do you know?

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: I’ve done this before. Escape will be simple. Talk more there.


ODDIE KONIDARIAN: Yeah. Just don’t do anything stupid.

Oddie glances at him.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN (CONT’D): Can you fly colonial?

Before the pilot can answer, the first soldier returns and pulls Osborn to his feet.

COLONIAL SOLDIER: Human! On your feet. (to other soldier) Take the zaridian to Commander Tygg’s shuttle.

COLONIAL SOLDIER 2: Yes sir. Get up, you filth. You won’t be spitting on anyone else for a while.


The soldier prods him forward, jamming the barrel of his pulse rifle into the pilot’s back. Osborn and Oddie share one last look.

COLONIAL SOLDIER (CONT’D): Eyes forward, human.

Soldiers watch tensely down their pulse rifles. Corvan vents and emerges from group of soldiers with heavy footfalls. He vents and his optic sensors track Osborn as he walks past.

Osborn stares back, wide-eyed.

The soldier strikes him in the ribs with his rifle. Osborn stumbles and falls.



Osborn gasps for breath.

BEN OSBORN: You grekking piece of--

The soldier winds up to strike him again. Tygg raises a claw.

COMMANDER TYGG (O.S.): That’s enough, officer. They’re not a very resilient species.

COLONIAL SOLDIER: (begrudgingly) Yes, sir. (then) Get up. Move.

The soldier marches the battered pilot to Kron and Tygg.

COMMANDER TYGG: I’m Commander Strakker Tygg. First Officer of the 443rd Colonial Fleet Infantry.

The colonials tower over Osborn.

COMMANDER TYGG (CONT’D): Your crimes are trespass in a restricted sector, acts of terror on an uncivilized world, attempted murder of a colonial officer, hostile attack on colonial forces, and assassination of an uncivilized figure of interest. We’ll be taking you into custody for rehabilitation and relocation, pursuant with the Queen’s directive. Once you’re aboard the station, all charges against you will be waived.

Kron shifts his stance.

SARANUS KRON: Waived? Tygg, he’s a grekking killer we have to--

Tygg raises his claw.

COMMANDER TYGG: (dismissive) Enough, lieutenant. (then) Despite your criminal acts, under the Queen’s directive 971-1548, article 2: humans are a protected species, subject to protections accordant with such a classification.

Osborn stares at him.

COMMANDER TYGG (CONT’D): I never thought I’d actually see a human.

COLONIAL SOLDIER: He was carrying this, sir.

The soldier hands over Osborn’s pistol. Tygg inspects the weapon.

COMMANDER TYGG: Blaster tech. Primitive. (then) But effective, in the right hands.

Tygg studies Osborn.

Osborn watches him, his cybernetic eye scanning the colonials. Tygg smirks.

COMMANDER TYGG (CONT’D): Lieutenant Kron.


Tygg hands him the pistol.

COMMANDER TYGG: (low) Take the human back to the station in another shuttle. I have questions for his zaridian friend. Find out who hired them. Which port they came from. How they got through the jump gate.

SARANUS KRON: (furious) And then he’ll be released in another system.

Tygg looks hard at Kron.

COMMANDER TYGG: It’s the Queen’s directive, lieutenant. Any protected species acquired outside the habitation zone gets transferred back to the core systems alive.

He puts a strong claw on Kron’s shoulder.

COMMANDER TYGG (CONT’D): It’s a quarter crek flight back to the station. He only needs to get there alive, Kron.

Tygg grins and boards his waiting shuttle. Kron looks down.



His hands bound, Osborn is strapped to a seat in the shuttle cabin. Kron removes his helmet and stands over the human. The door slides shut and the shuttle lifts off.

Kron stares at Osborn. Corvan watches, rotors spinning.

SARANUS KRON: You’re lucky you’re human.

Osborn glares at him.

SARANUS KRON (CONT’D): Do you know how many colonials you killed?

BEN OSBORN: You mean today? Or since... the war?

Osborn stares defiantly at Kron. Kron punches him.



The lift hums quietly as it rises. Numbers tick up on a deck indicator. Elona Zoren rides alone, dressed in a laboratory uniform stained with green blood. She stares at the door.



Lights flick on overhead and then down an empty hall. A sign reads: Deck 8 - Applied Sciences and Engineering. The lift arrives. The door slides open and Elona exits. She walks down the hallway to a security door and pauses. She takes a deep breath, then waves her tarsal claw over the control panel.

LARUS VIRTUAL INTERFACE (COMM): Authorization confirmed: Zoren, Elona. Deputy Chief Science Officer.

The door unlocks, then slides open.



Elona walks into the ASE-lab, lights switching on overhead. Banks of futuristic computer servers power on. A large center console projects a holographic image of Edari and the surrounding asteroid ring. A large storm is simulated on its surface. A digital model of the station orbits above the holographic planet, in geosynchronous orbit with Bisson.

She slumps into a well worn chair.

ELONA ZOREN: (exhausted) Okay Rider, I’m ready to get started.

The comm chirps overhead.

RIDER: I await your orders, Deputy Chief Zoren.

ELONA ZOREN: Let’s review the test results from 721.4 and compare them to 714.6, uh, 714.2, and 3.1.

RIDER: I am collating the data. In the meantime, you have an outstanding high priority transmission awaiting you at the Deck 19 communications hub. It is from Rotonken Base.

Elona closes her eyes and exhales deeply.

ELONA ZOREN: (exhausted) Just call it the comm, Rider.

RIDER: Of course, Deputy Chief Zoren.



The lift hums quietly as it moves. Numbers tick down on a deck indicator. Elona rides alone, still dressed in her bloodied laboratory uniform.



Soldiers and station personnel bustle down a station corridor. A wall mounted sign reads: Deck 19. The lift pings and the door slides open.


Elona steps out and walks briskly down the hallway.



A door slides open and Elona enters. From a workstation, Comms Officer Delerev gestures for her to enter the communications booth.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: Deputy Chief Zoren, the comm relay is ready for you--

He looks her over and pauses.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV (CONT’D): Elona, are you up to this? You could just let Kron deal with... you know...

ELONA ZOREN: I’m not waiting for Kron. (then, friendly) It’s fine, Delerev. Whatever gets me back to my own work.

He nods and returns to his post.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: We’re ready, Rotonken Base. Broadcasting.

She steps onto a small elevated platform, entering commands on a raised console. An electrical system powers up and the comm relay projects a murky holographic image of a high ranking colonial officer. Elona stands at attention.

ELONA ZOREN: Deputy Chief Zoren reporting, Director.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): Your uniform is a mess, Zoren.

Elona glances down at her bloodied uniform.

ELONA ZOREN: I didn’t want to keep you waiting, director.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): Good. (then) How many station assets will need to be replaced?

ELONA ZOREN: We haven’t calculated the final number of casualties, but our losses were-- our losses are heavier than our estimates suggested.

DIRECTOR TETZI: I’ll mobilize an additional three garrisons to bolster the 443rd’s efforts. (then) And Captain Landris?

ELONA ZOREN: His injuries were... particularly severe. He suffered extreme stress fractures from the shuttle crash and the particle bolt grazed a thoracic neural node, but Rider was able to--

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): You’ll refer to the project by its formal designation, Zoren.

ELONA ZOREN: Apologies, director. Instance 6-1PC was able to repair the damage.

Pending continued treatment and regular physiological assessments, Captain Landris can be cleared to return to station duty within 5 solar days and field duty within 10.

The hologram shifts and warbles.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): He’ll return to duty immediately. The system is too volatile without an experienced officer commanding that station. Our diplomatic relations with the Holkari Empire have never been in greater jeopardy. Maintaining that cooperation is critical to your mission. When construction is complete on the Rotonken Base jump gate, I’ll come myself. (then) I have read your reports regarding your work with Instance 6-1PC. Your progress is unparalleled.

ELONA ZOREN: Thank you, director.

DIRECTOR TETZI: I’m approving your request to advance to the next stage of development. You’re being accelerated to Stage 6, with a number of non-trivial modifications. You’ll receive the details of your orders at your lab.

Elona’s brows furrow.

ELONA ZOREN: Stage 6... Thank you, director, but I’m not authorized to access--

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): I authorize you.

ELONA ZOREN: What about the chief, ma’am?

DIRECTOR TETZI: Chief Tava’s... reassignment... has become permanent. Congratulations, Acting Chief Zoren. I hope you’ll find a fitting celebration to mark your achievement.

Elona collects her thoughts, face downcast.



Wearily, Elona steps back into the Deck 19 Corridor. Putting her claws on her hip nodes, she stares ahead.

COMMAND DECK (COMM): Traffic Control to station commander.

She taps a claw to her comms, jolted from her exhaustion.

ELONA ZOREN: AC Zoren here, go ahead, control.

COMMAND DECK (COMM): Understood. Ma’am, we’ve made contact from the shuttle squadron. Now tracking their approach from Edari.

ELONA ZOREN: (to herself, relieved) Finally… (to comms) They’re approved for docking. Get them aboard as quickly as possible. Put the medical bays on notice.


ELONA ZOREN: (then, switching channels) Rider.

RIDER (COMM): I am here, Acting Chief Zoren.

ELONA ZOREN: Prepare the test environment for... for Stage 6 experimentation.

RIDER (COMM): Orders confirmed.

She beeps out. Elona draws a deep breath.

The door behind Elona slides open, and Delerev steps into the corridor.


He gestures back to the comm relay.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV (CONT’D): That sounded like a promotion in there. Congratulations.

Elona shrugs it off.

ELONA ZOREN: Ah, maybe... Thanks.

They smile warmly.


ELONA ZOREN: Well, acting chief. It’s probably temporary.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: When Chief Tava comes back, no, I understand.

She looks down pensively.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV (CONT’D): But for now... technically you even outrank Commander Tygg.

ELONA ZOREN: (thinking it over) That’s true...

The comms chirp.

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN (COMM): Flight Officer Drejen to station commander.

ELONA ZOREN: Zoren here.

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN (COMM): You need to come down to hangar 12. Kron just landed. He... he has a prisoner.

Elona and Delerev share a worried look.



Elona Zoren marches down a hangar corridor flanked by a team of soldiers armed with decontamination and containment gear. Elona’s eyes are dark. Delerev struggles to keep pace with her.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: We have a duty to report it to Rotonken Base immediately. With Captain Landris unfit for duty, jurisdiction over these sorts of matters falls to the Director, maybe even the Queen!

ELONA ZOREN: Per the Director’s orders, Captain Landris is still in command.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: (scoffs) Of course, but with all due respect the captain can barely regulate his hematics.



The entourage enters the hangar as personnel bustle past and around Kron’s shuttle.

Drejen approaches the other two officers.

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN: We’ve been holding them until the decon teams were in place.

Elona nods to the other soldiers, who begin setting up various complex equipment.

ELONA ZOREN: Okay: go ahead, Drejen.

He taps his comms.

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN: You’re clear, drop the ramp.

The ramp drops and Kron stands at the top, a battered and bruised Osborn shaking before him. His flight suit is disheveled. Blood trails from his nose and fresh cuts across his face.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: It’s... that’s a real human.

Kron roughly pushes Osborn down the ramp. Osborn stumbles and falls to his knees at the bottom.

Kron looks down smugly from the shuttle. Drejen’s mouth hangs open.

Elona and the colonials stare at Osborn as he stumbles back to his feet in a daze. He spits blood in the silence.

She shoots a withering glance at Kron.

ELONA ZOREN: Sergeant, escort this patient to the medical bay. I want a full assessment, including tissue sampling. (then) Officer Drejen, get this shuttle under quarantine. I want any organic material collected and sent to Deck 8 for analysis.

Drejen stares at Kron.


He gestures to a group of hangar technicians.

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN (CONT’D): Sweep the ship. Deck officer, we need the beam scanner.

She turns to the comms officer.

ELONA ZOREN: Officer Delerev: notify the captain at his quarters.

He looks back at her with apprehension.



RIDER: I am here.


Prep the Medical Bay on Deck 9 for surgery. You’ll need to reference the xenophysiological archive entries on-- on humans...

RIDER: Of course, Acting Chief Zoren.

Rider chirps an affirmative.

SARANUS KRON: Deputy Chief Zoren.

She glares at Kron.

ELONA ZOREN: Lieutenant.



Kron and Elona walk tensely down the corridor. Kron’s armor is scarred and dusty. He clutches a claw to his bandaged side.

SARANUS KRON: Is Tygg back yet? How’s the Captain?

She stops. He turns back and notices her uniform.

SARANUS KRON (CONT’D): Hey, are you okay? Whose blood is that?

ELONA ZOREN: What happened?

SARANUS KRON: What? (then) A couple of zaridian assassins. They were targeting Senator Oo’than and Captain Landris, probably hired to destabilize Edari. They seemed pretty well funded. Major off world tech. We have a lot of casualties planetside.

ELONA ZOREN: And the human?

SARANUS KRON: He was the pilot. Got hired on a transport job out of Veristen, didn’t say much more. You should have Rider run his details through the registry.

ELONA ZOREN: What happened to him?

He looks at her curiously.

SARANUS KRON: We captured him.


SARANUS KRON: What do -- he shot down three gunships. He killed at least a dozen soldiers -- my soldiers. That human is dangerous, maybe as dangerous as the zaridians who blew the grekking city to dralk. The only reason we got him at all was because Corvan landed a lucky shot on his engine.

ELONA ZOREN: And once he was secured on the shuttle?

SARANUS KRON: What are you--? You know, you don’t-- You have no idea how bad it is down there, Elona.

ELONA ZOREN: We have an order from the Queen to conserve--

SARANUS KRON: The future of the universe is at stake with every decision we make our don’t out here. He’s grekking scum just like the grekking zaridians--

ELONA ZOREN: He’s a human, Kron. They’re a protected species and you have to--

SARANUS KRON: I don’t give a dralk if he’s human! This is the frontier, Elona. He’s dangerous and he’s not colonial. That makes him our enemy.

She can’t believe what she’s hearing.

SARANUS KRON (CONT’D): You should be thanking me for even bringing him here alive.

She steps away from him.

ELONA ZOREN: You know for someone who hates Tygg so much, you still manage to act exactly like him sometimes. (then) Debriefing is in one crek, lieutenant. Captain Landris is expecting you. (then) And I’ll take your gloves.

Kron looks down at his beaten gloves, deep red blood drying on the knuckles.

ELONA ZOREN (CONT’D): Seems like they got contaminated.

He hands them over. She turns and walks away. He turns to look out the corridor window, holding a bare claw to his bandaged wounds.



A door slides open and lights come on overhead in the brig. Oddie enters, escorted by Corvan at gunpoint. The zaridian’s snout is held shut in a metallic muzzle.

A warden sergeant enters behind Corvan, sets down Oddie’s particle rifle, and interacts with a security terminal.

WARDEN SERGEANT: Okay travorian, the system is ready for you.

Corvan vents, then grabs Oddie roughly by the neck. Oddie struggles, but his limbs are bound in a futuristic set of shackles.

Corvan’s arm rotates, and an injection barrel extends from the port. He jams it into Oddie’s neck. Oddie whimpers in pain, unable to open his mouth.

Corvan shoves the zaridian into a cell.


The door slides shut in Oddie’s face.

Corvan looks at the other empty cells in the brig. The shackles unlock from Oddie’s arms and fall to the ground. The muzzle unlocks from his jaws and drops. He snarls, hands examining the injection site on his neck.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN (CONT’D): What the grek did you do to me?!

Corvan vents.

CORVAN: Where is the human?

WARDEN SERGEANT: He hasn’t been brought down yet from medical.

Corvan glances at Oddie, then hands the warden sergeant Oddie’s particle rifle.

CORVAN: Secure this.

The sergeant looks over at Oddie. Corvan vents.

WARDEN SERGEANT: Yes sir. Right away.

The sergeant takes the rifle and ducks out through a side door.

Oddie looks around the small cell: a single bed and hygienic station illuminated by a soft orange overhead light.

Corvan steps up and stares at him from the other side of the door.

CORVAN: A biologistics officer will address your nutritional requirements in time. Ask your questions.

Oddie grinds his teeth.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: The other zaridian, my brother. Where is he? What happened to the human?

Corvan vents and turns to leave.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN (CONT’D): You’re on the wrong side, travorian.

Corvan vents.

CORVAN: Unlikely.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN: You know, I met another one of your kind. A travorian. On Mukua 5. He was freelance, running, uh, procurables across the boundary. He liked it. Business liked him. (then) You know about business, don’t you, travorian?

Corvan turns away.

ODDIE KONIDARIAN (CONT’D): His business was as good as it gets on Mukua 5. Basically honest. (then) Colonials came through the system, looking to collect dues that weren’t theirs to collect. (almost mournful) And he was a travorian of upstanding principle. (then, dark) We found him in his garage. Suit stripped open like a grombulan shell-gor. They left him to spoil. And they laughed. (a beat) Until we caught up with them.

Corvan looks back.


ODDIE KONIDARIAN: That’s right. Me and my brother.

Corvan vents. The warden sergeant returns through the side door.

CORVAN: I care not. He is in your custody, warden.

WARDEN SERGEANT: Aye, travorian. Larus, online.

The overhead computer beeps online.

LARUS VIRTUAL INTERFACE (COMM): Larus virtual interface now online.

WARDEN SERGEANT: Log prisoner entry, one zaridian. Oddie Konidarian. For crimes see attached incident report.

Oddie watches as the travorian exits the holding cells.



Dressed in a clean uniform, Kron approaches the conference room doors. He clutches his side for a moment, grimacing, then slides a tarsal claw over the sensor.



The door opens and Kron enters to find Elona, Delerev, Drejen, and Commander Tygg sitting around a long sleek table framed under a set of massive observation windows. At the head of the table, Captain Landris sits waiting. Asteroids drift behind him.


CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Have a seat, lieutenant.

Kron sits next to Delerev. Elona ignores him from across the table.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS (CONT’D): The death of Senator Oo’than is a crippling setback to our progress here on Edari. An entire cycle could pass before they replace his seat. Our main priority to secure the trade agreement.

He grimaces in brief pain. A medical device mounted to the front of his thorax gently injects a glowing blue fluid.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS (CONT’D): We’ll also need to scrub the attack sites as quickly as possible.

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN: Shuttle squadrons will be ready for redeployment within 5 creks, sir.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Why the delay?

FLIGHT OFFICER DREJEN: Decontamination teams are still working on, uh, on some of the fleet.

He glances briefly at Kron.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Fine. And what about the off- worlders?

COMMANDER TYGG: It was two zaridians that carried out the attack, sir. Dorgo and Oddie Konidarian. Brothers from the Theerian Family Blood clan, most likely based on Calixtal. They were hired by an arms broker called Vedrahn to assassinate you and the senator. We have Oddie Konidarian in a holding cell on Deck 61.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: What about his brother?

COMMANDER TYGG: (a beat) Dorgo is dead.

Elona looks at Kron.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: And the human?

Tygg snarls contemptuously to himself.

ELONA ZOREN: He was in the registry. Formerly a fighter pilot for the Terran Navy but there’s been no record of him since the war. He’s in the Deck 9 medical bay awaiting transfer to the holding cells.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: No, I want him transferred to his own quarters. See that it’s prepared, lieutenant.

The other officers look nervously at Kron.




CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Has Rotonken Base been notified about our human?

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV: No sir. We were waiting for your approval on the official transmissions to Rotonken Base and, uh, and Central Command.

Landris shakes his head.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: I’ll make those reports myself.


CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Tygg, arrange a transport for the zaridian. Tell CoreSec they can collect him from Teristan Base on Faravor. He’ll stand trial on Myndal.


SARANUS KRON: Captain Landris...

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: We need to prepare a security team to travel planetside and retrieve the human’s ship. We can’t afford to let the holkari gain access to whatever off world technology is on board. Zoren I want you to assess and oversee the repairs yourself.

Bring Rider with you. Officer Drejen and Corvan will go with you.


SARANUS KRON: With all due respect, sir, that human killed at least a dozen of our soldiers and you want to give him, what, a private room on the station? His ship back?

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Those soldiers will be replaced, Kron, and not because that human killed them but because you put them in a position to be killed. We’re following Queen’s directive here.

He leans back in his chair in pain.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS (CONT’D): And we’ll need to make contact with the holkari council. Share everything we’ve learned. We can’t let the holkari come to the wrong conclusions.

SARANUS KRON: Captain Landris, this is a grekking farce--


CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Somehow I understand your emotional outbursts, Kron, but I won’t tolerate them. I gave you your orders. If you cannot follow them then you have no place on my station or in this system.

Landris winces and leans back in his chair.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS (CONT’D): What about Director Tetzi?

The other officers look at each other.

Elona looks at him.

ELONA ZOREN: She’s awaiting another report, sir.

Landris looks away, then at the officers.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: You have your orders. Dismissed.

The officers rise and go to leave.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS (CONT’D): Not you, lieutenant.

Kron glances up at Elona, then returns to the table. Elona, Delerev, Drejen, and Tygg exit the room.

Captain Landris studies Kron.


SARANUS KRON: If that human goes back to the core systems, there will be no justice for Edari.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Justice for Edari--? Cut the dralk, lieutenant.

SARANUS KRON: How many holkari died? We don’t even have a number for our own losses. Do you think the Holkari Empire is going to understand why we’re planning to release a terrorist back into the galaxy? (then) I came to the frontier to help make it a safer place. So let’s make it a safer place.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Damn it Kron, Academy didn’t just train you to fight and kill! It educated you -- to think! (then) Do you have any concept of how valuable a human could be to our work?

SARANUS KRON: (incredulous) On Edari?

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: As a species! As a civilization! This is the entire reason we’re in the frontier! (then) By the Queen, Kron, your incompetence and your insubordination place my own capabilities as an officer under scrutiny. (then) My mission here is to ensure that Edari agrees to peace with the Colony. Our influence over this system is too tenuous for me to suffer an officer who isn’t ready for command.

He glares at Kron.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS (CONT’D): I wish I could trust you, lieutenant. You’re suspended from duty until further notice.

Kron withers.



In the medical bay, Osborn awakens on a surgical table. He sits up, and a bed of robotic medical arms retracts into the ceiling above him. He scans the room but he’s alone in the uncannily sterile medical lab.

He hops down from the table and almost collapses in pain. He steadies himself against the table then searches a nearby workstation for a weapon. He tries a computer interface but it doesn’t respond.

He taps his eye implant and it spins up, almost powering up the console but a sudden power shift shuts him out.

RIDER: You are awake. For your safety, you are being restricted to the medical bay until an officer can collect you. I will be monitoring your compliance.

Osborn spots the door and limps across the room.

RIDER (CONT’D): I recommend that you limit your locomotive functions. Repairs to your organic components are suboptimal. Unfortunately, my knowledge of human physiology is incomplete.

Osborn tries the door -- it doesn’t open.

RIDER (CONT’D): Do not attempt to interface with station controls.

BEN OSBORN: Who the grek are you.

RIDER: I am Rider. (then) You are Commander Osborn, Benjamin K.

Osborn eyes a wall panel by the door. He pries it off, exposing wiring and fuses underneath. He grabs a handful of wires and roughly yanks them out. It sparks as he tries to rewire the door.

RIDER: I recommend that you avoid damaging station components.

BEN OSBORN: What are you, colonial tech?

RIDER: I cooperate with colonial forces. I recommend you cooperate as well, Commander Osborn.

He wraps a set of wires together.

BEN OSBORN: Don’t hold your breath.

The door slides open, and Corvan fills the doorway. Osborn gulps and steps back fearfully. Corvan steps forward with pounding footsteps.

RIDER: The prisoner is ready for transfer, Corvan.

He raises his arm and rotates his pulse cannon into action.



In the long range communications room, a door slides open and Captain Landris enters cautiously. He steps onto the small elevated platform and enters commands on a raised console. An electrical system powers up and a projection of Director Tetzi emerges from the digital gloom. Landris leans against the console for support.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): Captain Landris.


DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): I’m pleased to see you walking. Chief Zoren told me your injuries were quite severe.


DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): Oh yes, with Chief Tava’s reassignment, it seemed only fitting that his Deputy Chief assume his role and responsibilities.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Decisions regarding the rank and responsibilities of my officer staff fall to me, Director.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): Of course, captain. I have no intention to usurp your authority. But the situation at Edari has become too precarious for your attention to be divided. I’ll be joining you after the jump gate is complete.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Do you believe that’s necessary?

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): I trust your ability to manage the holkari, captain, even in your present state. I’m only interested in Zoren’s progress with Instance 6-1PC. I expect her to be far more capable than her predecessor.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: I have no doubt.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): And with your acquisition of the human, we may finally see our asset restoration realized.

He freezes.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: You... already know about the human?

The warbling image smirks.

DIRECTOR TETZI (COMM): Of course I do, captain. I’m the Director of Frontier Intelligence. We’ll arrive at your station in a matter of solar days.



In the medical bay, a suite of robotic arms hangs down from the ceiling. Fine motorized appendages mend the knife wound in Kron’s exoskeleton. A heat ray passes over the surgical site, sealing the chitinous shell.

RIDER: I estimate your wound repairs to have an efficiency rating of 85.2%. If you avoid high intensity activities, your healing process will complete without incident in two solar days.

SARANUS KRON: (distant) I don’t think that will be a problem.

The door slides open and Elona enters. She and Kron lock eyes.

RIDER: Chief Zoren, I have completed all assigned medical tasks. I am ready to resume our normal work.

ELONA ZOREN: Stand by, Rider.

SARANUS KRON: “Chief Zoren?”

ELONA ZOREN: Acting chief.

SARANUS KRON: Congratulations.

ELONA ZOREN: Thank you.

A beat. Kron steps down from the examination table.

SARANUS KRON: Elona, listen, about earlier...

The comms beep overhead.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV (COMM): Command deck to Acting Chief Zoren.

ELONA ZOREN: Zoren here.

COMMS OFFICER DELEREV (COMM): The captain requested that you meet him at Deck 74.

ELONA ZOREN: Orders received.

SARANUS KRON: Everything below Deck 65 is still under construction.

She stares at him.

ELONA ZOREN: Will that be all, lieutenant?

SARANUS KRON: Yes, chief.

She leaves Kron alone with his thoughts. He looks down.

SARANUS KRON (CONT’D): (to himself) Acting chief.



In an empty hallway, Elona stares straight ahead at the lift doors. The lift pings and the doors slide open -- Captain Landris is waiting inside. Elona looks at him, then enters.



The lift hums quietly as it goes down. Numbers tick down on the deck indicator.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: Since you’re assuming the chief’s responsibilities, you’ll also be inheriting his secrets, Elona. I don’t want you working on this project, but we no longer have a voice in the decision. (then) And this may be our only opportunity...

She turns toward him slightly.

ELONA ZOREN: For what, sir?

Landris stares ahead at the door.



Lights come on overhead in a small corridor. A mounted sign reads “Deck 74.” The lift doors open and close, leaving Elona and Landris in the quiet hall. They walk.

A door looms ominously at the end of the hall, illuminated by small red lights.

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: You and I are the only officers with permission to access this level.

He indicates a door panel. She swipes her tarsal claw over it.

LARUS VIRTUAL INTERFACE: Authorization confirmed: Zoren, Elona. Acting Chief Science Officer.

Locks unlatch from the door. With a soft alarm, the door slides open slowly to reveal a storage chamber.



Elona enters the round chamber as pressure valves release clouds of icy fog into the air above and around her. She steps forward slowly.

Along the far wall, a row of cryo stasis tubes mounted into the metal paneling lie empty -- except one.

Elona creeps forward, wide eyed.

ELONA ZOREN: How... I don’t understand...

A human woman, dressed in a Terran Navy scientist’s uniform, sleeps in suspended animation. Frost coats the interior glass of her stasis pod. Her name tag reads: Foster.

ELONA ZOREN (CONT’D): (horrified) What... what is this? What are we doing here?

CAPTAIN LANDRIS: This is the asset. You need to reactivate her.

Elona reaches out and touches the glass.

Behind them, the storage room door slides shut.