After the escape, my further way led to quarrels and chaos.
It was a strange feeling. I had my freedom back and yet I was not free. I had escaped the hell of Klescher Maximum Security Prison, but now I was in the captivity of my new situation. Officially, I was dead, but that didn’t mean I could do whatever I wanted. I was only safe as long as Hurston Security thought I was dead. So no one was allowed to know that I was alive. No scanner or control was allowed to pick me up. I had to stay under the radar, way under the radar.
However, I did not want to live as a hermit in the desert for the rest of my life. The emergency shelter I was in was not a permanent solution either. In order to move forward, I had to find a way to make undetected contact with people I trusted. My only hope was Brubacker. I sent him an encrypted message via the emergency call system:
The old 38 is not a locomotive
But you have to pass those who stand at the door
They act on behalf of their commander
Whom they also call the black ……
That’s also the name of a building for emergencies
A friend stands there waiting for rescue
About it a station known to you by hot chips
The friend you met there for the first time
The days passed and with each passing day my worry increased that Brubacker could not decode who the message was from and where I was. In a stranglehold of depression, I sat in a corner and waited. I was so introverted that I didn’t hear a spaceship landing outside. The sound of pressure equalization in the airlock hissed through the building. Then two people in spacesuits stood in front of me. Both were wearing helmets. One was aiming at me.
“Zero, hey Zero! “
The voice sounded familiar, yet somehow alien.
“Brubacker? Is that you?”
“Yeah, who else.”
The second person was Ella, pointing a medgun at me.
Brubacker had not come alone. He had the Carrack with him, which he had gotten from Anvil, along with the whole crew. As soon as I boarded, I was greeted by Mr. Aruhso in his typical manner.
“Oh, the cyborg. I smelled you before I saw you.”
Not much had changed on board. Even the janitor was still much the same. But he was right, I really needed to get in the shower. After informing the crew what had happened to me since my arrest, I let the hot shower water run over my body for a long time and then lay down in bed. A deep, restless sleep overtook me even before my head touched the pillow.
Loud footsteps, shouting. A commotion roused me from my sleep. Something was going on on board. Tired and exhausted, I got up. Through the window, the desert could still be seen from the moon of Daymar. We had not come far. In the mess hall I found the explanation for the noise. The janitor was lying unconscious on the floor. Brubacker and Husky were arguing loudly.
The crew had a plan to fly into the Hades system. They wanted to follow the secrets of the artifact they had found on board. But on Anvil’s instructions, the janitor prevented this plan. Husky had knocked out Mr. Aruhso and wanted to create facts. Brubacker was dead set against it and beside himself with rage.
As a bystander to the heated situation, I stood in the mess hall in my underpants. I wanted nothing to do with the quarrel between the two. I longed for peace. Besides, I had another problem. I needed something to wear and a new space suit.
I found some clothes in the crew quarters. Just as I was about to put them on, the floor shook.
“Everybody hold on!” it echoed over the intercom.
A rude jolt jerked me off my feet. For a moment, the lights went out.
“Everyone to the mess hall, pronto!” Brubacker’s voice sounded anything but amused.
Brubacker, Husky, and Ella were already seated at the table when I entered the mess hall. Mr. Aruhso was still in the medical bay. Husky had indeed not let up. He just wanted to fly to the Hades system. However, the Carrack did not play along. Shortly after takeoff, it fell back to the moon’s surface. Something was wrong with the engines. We were stranded on the moon Daymar. Brubacker was pissed.
“Do you realize what this could mean? The end of the project, or do you seriously think there are no consequences?”
Silence, no one said anything. Then I took the floor.
“It’s not dramatic. I’ve seen worse. Oh well, do you know where I can find a spacesuit on board?”
My question added fuel to the fire. Brubacker exploded.
“Yeah, Zero, you got it.”
My God was Brubacker on it. I wasn’t up for that kind of mood. On my way out the door, I replied: “Bru, calm down.”
I found some distance from the disputes on the bridge. The view was fantastic. The central star of Stanton stood low, casting long shadows across the sand. Suddenly I saw a cloud of dust moving away from the ship. It was the janitor, up and away with the rover. Brubacker tried unsuccessfully to radio him to turn back. Only when Ella intervened did he turn around and come back aboard. Brubacker again called everyone into the mess hall.
As soon as we got there, Brubacker snapped at the janitor.
“Mr. Aruhso, have you tampered with anything on this ship? I really need to know right now.”
The janitor replied in his typical calm yet somehow arrogant manner.
“Mr. Brubacker, that may be so. I’ve offered you and your crew several times now to just drop me off and then you can go your separate ways.”
“…But we don’t want to do that…”, Brubacker sounded almost desperate.
“Anyway. If you promise me that you won’t just disable me again and dump me somewhere, I’ll remove the unlocking device.”
“The main thing is to get out of here”, Husky interjected.
“…But first, clear it with your crew. Until then, everything stays the way it is.”
The janitor had spoken. And we were stuck, stranded in the desert. Somehow I could understand him. Hursten Security had put me out of action and disposed of me along with my White-Rabbit. It was not quite the same with Mr. Aruhso, but somehow similar.
Quiet had returned to the Carrack. The crew lay asleep in their bunks. The faint light of a million points of light in the night firmament flooded the bridge. I had not come far after my escape from the underground jail and rescue from the emergency shelter. And the crew’s bickering was annoying. But at the moment I didn’t care. The main thing was that I was safe and could see the stars. With arms outstretched, I stood behind the huge window on the bridge of the Carrack. The sparkling play of light above me was a blessing. Like a thin layer of stardust, some confidence settled on my shaken soul.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)