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[2006: NOV-DEC] *WINNER* En Route


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“En Route”

By Nemitor Atimen


He sat, his head in hands. Around him was debris, the stool he was sitting in was charred. His elbows rested on the bar, small pieces of metal and dirt covering the surface. What was once a frequent place to be with friends was now in ruin. Metal wires hung from the ceiling, wooden and metal planks were thrown around, some welded together in unusual ways. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it was only the bar, but a good chunk of the complex was in similar condition. Too many had died… Cochrane was dead as well, being buried that morning. All hope was lost for the Phoenix, and the voyage that was supposed to have taken place. He heard someone enter what was left of the structure. He remained immobile.

“Now what?”

The man at the bar didn’t move. He spoke in a quiet, low voice. “What do you expect me to do?”

Even though he already knew who it was, his eyes barely twitched to look into the broken mirror barely hanging on to the wall. The man standing in the doorway was leaning against the door frame, his hand bandaged up.

“You were right up there with Cochrane with the engineering! You’re the most competent to fly…” he was cut off mid sentence by a harsh, stern voice, “Cochrane is dead! We cant launch without him! The ship may not even…”

“You yourself checked the ship. You said it could fly.”

“I said it could fly if we could get the doors opened, and power restored. Last I checked, half the complex was blown to pieces, including our power generator! Too many have died… the last thing we should be worried about is launching.”

“Come-on, George! If I get you power, and the launch doors opened, will you fly her?” The man at the bar twitched, his head now hovering above his hands.



Two Weeks Later…

There he stood, on the roof of a three story building, one of them which was not severely damaged. He overlooked the complex, craters scattered throughout it. The launch doors were half opened, machines and men pulling it with anything possible. The whole complex was determined to get the ship launched. He heard foot steps, and turned his head to see a group of men and women, all engineers, walk up the steps to the roof. A woman in a military uniform was in front. He recognized her immediately as the military liaison in charge of opening the doors.



“I’m not in the military.” The engineer in the uniform sighed, and spoke again. The men and women behind her looked either annoyed, or glad, or both. The uniformed engineer emphasized the next word.

“MR. Anderson. The launch doors are almost opened. Everything is ready.”

“I See… go tell Franks that I’ll be right there. And…” he looked at the woman’s rank symbols, attempting to figure out what rank she was. After a few seconds, he had it. “Colonel, you are coming with us.”

“What?” A blank look covered her face. Her mouth shaped into a smile. “Alright, I’ll be there”

“We’ll need someone in the military to come with us. But don’t ever forget who is in charge.” He paused for a few seconds as she and the others began to walk down the stairs. As she was about to leave sight, he spoke the next word louder, finishing his sentence. “Me”


The pilot’s seat was comfy. At least, Anderson thought it was. Franks and the Colonel seemed to be having a bit more trouble. It was cramped, no doubt, but it would do. He looked up, and saw the launch doors being opened. He took a deep breath, and thought back on all that had happened in the last few weeks...

The complex was nearly destroyed… Cochrane was dead… and now he was to pilot the first warp ship. Besides him sat his colleague who helped build the ship, and a colonel from the military. It was a not so unusual team for such an unusual voyage.

As he stared into the blank sky, Franks hit him with a clipboard with some paper attached to it.

“You still with us?”

“What?” The two others in the [...]pit stared at Anderson, “Oh… sorry… I was thinking.”

“Well, focus on getting this thing in the air.” Franks leaned in a bit, lowered his voice, and nodded in the direction to the Colonel in the rear seat. “Why’s she with us? We don’t need someone from the military here! This is a civilian…”

Harshly Anderson spoke loud enough so that the Colonel could hear, “Think a little! She is with us so that the military will know that this was a success. And unfortunately, the military and the government have close ties – that means that if the military doesn’t believe us, the government doesn’t either!”

Anderson had been quite harsh, and Franks was silent. The Colonel was even quieter. She just sat there, not really doing anything. She wondered if this was the last thing she would ever do… strapped to an old nuclear missile pointed at the heavens. Originally she wanted to come along – if it worked, she would be famous. But if it failed… well… the worst that could happen was death…

She snapped back into reality as Anderson started pressing buttons.

“Alright, time to go.”

“What? Just like that?!”

“Yes. Communications from the control in the silo was cut off. Now’s the last chance to get off.” The Colonel’s eye twitched, as she debated getting up and leaving. Her thoughts were cut off again when Franks said quickly, and quite energetically, “Too late!”

She said a quick “What!” as the rocket burst to life, gripping the arm rests. As the missile soared out of the silo, Franks turned around to face the Colonel, who was white faced, eyes wide open. He quickly laughed before turning back. He pressed a few buttons before speaking again.

“All systems operational. It was a good launch.”

“Yeah… too bad Cochrane wasn’t here… he would be blasting his crazy music about now.” Franks had nothing to say to that, as he focused more on making sure everything was working right. Minutes later they had broken out of the Earth’s gravitational field, and were floating in the heavens.

“What a ride.”

“That was nothing. Wait til we go to warp…” Franks last few words drifted as he stared into space. “Hey, George… what’s that thing?”

“What thing?” All three of them were now staring into space. Franks was looking at a specific point, and pointed. “That thing.”

Anderson squinted, and gave his reply, “That? Looks like a piece of a satellite. Strange.”

“Meh. Lets go.”

“Fine. Start powering up the engines.” More buttons were pressed, and the Colonel sat in the back, staring into space while the others worked. She looked down at her clipboard, and took some notes.

Suddenly, a loud bang was heard as the ship rocket slightly. All three of them looked up. The Colonel dropped her clipboard and began screaming, followed a few seconds later by the other two.

Gripping the [...]pit windshield was a man. Or at least something part man. Metal covered parts of its body, and small machines were covering him. Anderson was the first to stop screaming, as he calmed himself down. Looking closer, he turned back and faced the others.

“Its dead. Nothing can live out there”

“NEVER MIND THAT! WHAT THE HELL IS IT?!” The colonel was paler than before, eyes wide open while she screamed those words.

“Calm down.” Franks was a bit calmer now that his brain figured out that it was dead, and leaned closer to the wind shield. His face was almost touching the glass as he looked over it. He pulled back, and Anderson moved forward. “It looks like a machine.”

“Get away from it! Its definitely not human!”

“Come on Colonel! Even if it is an alien, nothing can live out there! Here.” Anderson reached forward, and tapped the glass by the being’s head. “See?” He tapped again. It opened its eye, and its arm slammed into the [...]pit window. The screaming began again.


The machine was now punching the glass, and it was beginning to crack. It raised its arm, and two tubes came out of it, and smashed harmlessly against the glass. Anderson, while the other two were screaming, was pounding at the computer, flipping switches.

“GET US OUT OF HERE!” Franks screamed, as the machine gained control of its second arm, and began to hit the [...]pit with even more power.

“NOW!!!” The ship jerked, and the three passengers were pulled into their seat by the immense amount of Gs. They all screamed as they were propelled faster than the speed of light, with the creature bouncing off the hull into the abyss of space.

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