BTS Part 2: Questions and Answers
So, almost a month later… Let’s do this thing.
Owain awoke in a poorly lit room. No door, no windows, just plain metallic walls in front and to his sides. He guessed that it was some sort of holding cell. His captors would probably let him sweat a bit before beginning the interrogation. He tried remembering what had happened. There was a crash, his cargo lost, the beach, and the welcoming party. What was it the man had said? He thought for a moment until the words came back to him: Morrigan Prime.
Militaristic, isolationist, all-around bad guys – that’s most of what Owain knew of the inhabitants of Morrigan Prime. Tucked away in a relatively uncolonised sector of the galaxy, most pilots opted to leave them alone whenever possible. He must have been far off course to have crashed here. It didn’t make sense, the only way he could have ended up here was if someone had hacked his navigation computer, but he was the only one on his ship. Once again, he began to wonder about the contents of his cargo. Surely the GDF wouldn’t hire a civilian to transport something so dangerous. Surely.
Owain heard a hiss as his cell door opened. Two pairs of heavy military boots entered the room and took up position behind him. There was a brief pause, then a third set of boots entered the room, this not as heavy as the others. The footsteps moved around the chair before entering his field of vision. He instantly recognised the man from the beach.
“Oh good, I was wondering when I would be getting breakfast,” Owain quipped, eliciting a frosty glare from the man.
The man stopped directly in front of Owain. “Joke while you can, spy. When I’m done, you’ll be lucky if you can still talk.” As he spoke, he reached inside his coat and pulled out a short rubber tube. “Let’s start at the beginning, shall we. Who are you? What are you doing on Morrigan Prime?”
Owain sighed. “As I told you on the beach: may name is Owain Harris and I crashed on this planet. Believe me; I would never come to this insane backwater willingly.” He knew he would be punished for his words, but his chances of getting out of this in one piece were slim enough he decided to have a little fun in the process.
“Impudent wretch. It appears you will need a little… encouragement.” The man raised his free hand and used it to pull back the sleeve on the arm holding the tube, revealing a thick bracer dotted with buttons and lights. He pushed a button on the bracer and Owain heard two guns ready for fire behind him. The man smiled the same grim smile Owain remembered from the beach, “Let’s try that again.”
“I’m telling you the truth,” Owain said, “my navigation systems failed and I ended up crashing on this planet. I wasn’t sent here by the GDF. I am not a spy.” He paused, expecting an armed response from the guards behind him. “I’m just a pilot carrying some cargo from one point to another.”
“And what is this cargo? Weapons for the traitors on the outer planets? Surveillance equipment? What?”
“I don’t know. I was never told what the contents-” Owain was cut off mid-explanation as the man thrust the metallic tube towards his head.
“Lies,” the man shouted. “Pilots never carry unknown cargo. Even when they do, they always take a look during the trip. Clearly you know nothing about how real pilots operate, thus you are a spy.” He pushed a button on the side of the tube and it began to lengthen, its metallic contents telescoping slowly towards Owain’s face, stopping just before touching his nose. Owain could detect the faint smell of ozone and realised the man was threatening him with a shock prod.
Not wanting to risk angering his interrogator further, Owain decided to play along. “Alright, you got me,” he said, changing his demeanour just enough to make it seem like he was dropping a disguise, “I am a spy. My cargo contained weapons and logistical supplies for the freedom fighters on the outer planets.” He slumped back in his chair, feigning defeat.
The man stood upright, removing the shock prod from in front of Owain’s face. “How do I know you’re telling the truth?” His face was quizzical, like he wanted to believe what Owain was saying, but knew that repercussions would be dire if he were somehow tricked.
“Find my cargo. Take a look inside and you’ll see for yourself. There’s enough weaponry and supplies in there to keep a good-sized militia going for a month or more. I’m sure your superiors will be more than happy to get their hands on that.” Owain’s mind began racing; now that he’d told them this, what would happen to him? They would likely execute him for being a spy, but would they do it now in private, or save it for a public occasion – show the worlds that Morrigan Prime is serious about its security.
“Excellent. I shall dispatch a team at once to retrieve your cargo.” The man raised his sleeve again and touched another button on his bracer. Owain heard the guns behind him click again and began to wonder. Human guards would not react in such a… robotic manner. Could it be? Could the guards behind him be nothing more than robots controlled by the man’s bracer? If he was to have any chance of escaping this hole this could be it.
“You should be careful, though. The cargo is trapped, in case I was boarded by pirates en route. If your men try to open it they’ll get a nasty surprise.”
The man laughed, “That is no problem. We can always build more soldiers.”
Owain had his answer; Morrigan Prime used robotic soldiers in their armies. A clever tactic, but one that had a couple of big flaws; one of which Owain was about to exploit.
“Well, that is good to know.” Owain smiled and leapt forward. He punched the man in his stomach as hard as he could with one hand, causing him to release his grasp on the shock prod. With his other hand he grabbed the prod as it fell and jabbed the metallic point into the man’s bracer. There was a buzzing sound as the high voltage current surged through the control device, creating sparks and foul-smelling smoke. Lifting the prod, Owain aimed it towards the man and thrust it forward, into his abdomen. The man began to twitch as the current coursed through his chest.
Glancing behind him, Owain saw the two guards had not reacted. His assumption was correct, the guards were robots. He now suspected the soldiers on the beach had been as well. He started to wonder just how many humans were outside his cell. One? Two? Was this man the only one? Deciding the man had suffered enough, Owain withdrew the prod, allowing the now unconscious man to slump to the ground. Owain grabbed the man’s sidearm before making his way around the lifeless guard robots and out into the hallway.
The view outside of Owain’s cell was not much better. He found himself in an equally poorly lit hallway lined with cell doors. A panel next to each door displayed its contents. His own cell’s panel read “UNKNOWN GDF SPY” but the rest were blank. Quickly checking a couple of the cells, he realised that he was the only prisoner and made his way to the large door at the end of the hallway. Opening the door just enough to peek through he could see an outpost base. A handful of prefabricated buildings were surrounded by a wall topped with watch towers and the occasional gun emplacement. Trees rose up beyond the wall and Owain realised he was likely still in the forest, hopefully not too far from where he had crashed. In one corner of the outpost, on a landing pad, was the ship he had seen on the beach. He couldn’t see a pilot at the controls, not that he would need one of those to affect a successful escape.
It was then that Owain realised the one thing the base was missing – people. Sure, there were guards manning the watch towers and gun emplacements, but there was no movement within the walls. It’s possible everyone else was inside resting, but he suspected they were just as likely powered down. Assessing his chances of making it to the ship without being spotted as slim to none, Owain closed the door and returned to his cell. Seeing that the man was still unconscious, he helped him out of his coat and took his hat. The coat was a couple of sizes too small and wouldn’t button across his chest, but Owain hoped it would be convincing enough.
Opening the door once more, Owain stepped out into the outpost and strode towards the ship, mimicking the movements of his captor as much as possible. Amazingly, he made it to the ship without question. Not pausing to see if he was being watched, he jumped inside and almost died of shock. Sitting inside the ship were the same men he had seen on the beach, only now Owain could clearly see they were robots. Not a single one moved as he boarded, no heads turned, no weapons raised. They just sat there in eerie silence. Owain suddenly wished he hadn’t destroyed the control device. Being able to control a squad of his own robot soldiers would make leaving this outpost very easy indeed.
Moving forward to the cockpit, Owain strapped himself in and activated the ship’s control panels. The design of the controls was similar to his own ship, close enough that he realised he would be able to pilot this ship with little difficulty. Peering through the window, he realised the suddenly active ship had drawn the guards’ attention. They turned to see who was piloting and Owain quickly tilted his head forward, obscuring his face with his new cap. He finished his pre-flight checks as quickly as possible, his desire to leave this planet growing stronger with every second.
As Owain lifted off the ground, another trench coat-wearing man emerged from one of the other buildings. He ran over to the prison block and disappeared inside, returning a few moments later and shouting at the guards. It looked like the game was up and Owain gunned the engines, causing the ship to surge forward over the outpost wall and above the tree tops. As he fled, he routed power from the ship’s meagre weapons and armour to the shields. This paid off as, seconds later, he came under fire from the gun emplacements at the outpost. The shots that hit were absorbed by the shield, leaving the ship unharmed.
When he was sure he would out of range of the outpost’s guns, Owain activated the ship’s navigation panel. Pulling up the ship’s previous trip, he quickly spotted where he had crashed and been captured. He adjusted his course slightly and gunned his engines. With any luck, he’d be able to track down and retrieve his cargo before the outpost could organise a proper response.