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A short story by

Brian T. Kindregan

Martul limped onto the bridge.

“There are more down there,” she said. “Eliminate them.”

“You’re welcome, Commander,” Juras replied. Even with the reassuring touch of the Khala, Juras’ habitual irritation with others had returned in full force.

“It was not a request,” Martul said.

This was Juras’ ship. He’d designed it and piloted it. He’d rescued this young one with it, and he was not going to let her use it for more carnage. If the zealot thought he would submit simply because she was a warrior and he was a scientist, she had much to learn.

Her eyes narrowed as she sensed these feelings welling up in him. “Those things killed my warriors,” she said. “My friends. And you have the power to destroy them. We are at war.”

“I saved you, Commander. That will have to suffice for now. We will go to Aiur, and I will speak to the Conclave. We must learn more about these zerg – perhaps we can find a way to avoid them, to leave them in peace.”

“There will be no peace.”

“I will speak to the Conclave about it.”

Martul spun and stalked to the door. “Let us just get to Aiur then. I will be in the crew quarters, studying the schematics of this ship.”

“Do not think you will take control of the Moratun from me. I will always know it better than you, and I answer to the Conclave.”

“You have been too long away from your people, scientist. You have gone mad,” she said.

“When we destroyed the kalathi, we thought we were doing the right thing. We thought our motives were the best and we had no other choice. When we realized our mistake, it was too late. Once you have destroyed an alien intelligence, you cannot bring it back. As terrible as the zerg seem, we must learn more; we must understand them. The stakes are too high.”

Martul stared at Juras for a moment, her gaze a mix of anger and pity. She turned and left the bridge without another word.

Juras took the Moratun up, away from the planet, from the zerg, from the devastation. He looked out into the depths of space. The universe in which he found himself was not as he’d imagined.

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