Groaning, Kate blinked and stretched her aching muscles. Her entire body seemed to ache from being thrown around. She touched her forehead and pulled her hand back, feeling the sticky wetness. Blood covered her fingers and she stared at them for a moment. Blinking, she forced her eyes to focus, her head spun as she moved slightly to glare up at the flickering green emergency light. In the sick bay, cupboards were thrown open and supplies strewn over the benches and floor. She had come in here with…

Her eyes widened and she turned around quickly, trying to find … and immediately cursed her head as the room spun sickly. Holding her stomach so she would not throw up, Kate move quickly to the other side of the room. Dr Jenkins lay on his back under a pile of boxes that had landed on him during the crash. She pulled the boxes away quickly, scanning his body for any signs of life.

Dr Jenkins pale blue-grey eyes stared sightlessly up at her and his mouth lay open, blood trickled from one corner of his lips. Sadness filled her, and she sat staring at him as she leaned back against the wall for a moment. This was to have been his final trip. He was to return to Earth for his retirement.

Sniffing, Kate wiped her nose with the back of her hand and cursed herself again. Some nurse she was, sitting beside a man she could do nothing for when there may be others that needed her. As she pushed herself to her feet, she clung to the bench and squealed in fright as the ship shuddered once more. Gathering herself shakily, she grabbed the emergency supply kit off the floor and opened it, checking the contents.

Bandages, water, scissors, needles, thread. It all seemed to be there. She licked her lips and gazed around the room. Was there anything else she would need? Her eyes fell back by Dr Jenkins’ body, the gun seemed to stare back at her. It was a useless thing really, he had always said. It gave nothing more than an electric shock. A gun used for stunning rather than killing. She picked it up anyway and clipped it onto her belt.

The door slid open and she moved out cautiously, the hallway outside the sick room seemed to be deserted. The ship shuddered again as she moved through the next set of doorways towards the main part of the ship. The ship itself was divided into five sections. 1st was for cargo and supplies. 2nd was for the prisoners they were escorting to the prison planet Arkena. 3rd floor was sleeping quarters. 4th, her floor was for kitchen, dining & sick room. 5th floor was for administration and flight deck.

Kate stood before the elevator, wondering if it would work, or if she should just use the stairs. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she heard someone screaming in pain as if they were being attacked. Her fingers tightened on the emergency pack and she darted forwards through the double doors and checked in both directions. Nothing.

Again, someone screamed for a moment and then was silent. This time it appeared to come directly below her. She ran for the stairs, taking them as quickly as she could and cursed her parents for her height deficiency.

Rounding the corner panting for breath, her feet skittered to a halt. Bodies lay everywhere. The entire floor looked as if it were a slaughter house. A man dressed in bright orange shapeless overalls was leaning over a body on the floor. She recognised him instantly from the files on the computer screen. A convicted murderer being taken to the prison on Arkena. Ben Wilson.

She licked her lips, aware her hands were trembling as she pulled the gun from her belt. “Get your hands off him.” She commanded shakily and tossed her head, holding the gun with two hands to steady it. Pointing it directly at his chest. It was broad, a good easy target. She was aware of his sudden smirk and wondered if she had the gun round the right way. She glanced at it and then back at his sardonic smirking face.

“I mean it.” She said savagely and then looked at him. The sleeve of his overall was ripped, blood oozed thickly from a cut near his shoulder. She could see the dark outline of a tattoo. “You’re hurt.” Kate said quietly, mentally calculating the number of stiches he would require.

He only smiled at her again, cold and infuriating. “This?” He smirked jerking his head towards his shoulder. “A scratch.” His voice almost purred hypnotically as he took a step towards her. “Nothing-“

“Don’t move!” Kate yelled and jerked the gun back to his chest. He stopped moving and gave her an unwary glance. His eyes flickered past her, staring at something over her shoulder.

“New recruit?” He whispered. “Yeah, I thought so.” He grinned again. “Straight from training aren’t you? Tell me, is old Morris still at the academy?” His eyes flickered once more, past her. “For fucks sake. Don’t move, don’t make a sound.” He hissed suddenly, his voice held a strange warning tone.

“What?” Kate looked at him perplexed. A shadow seemed to have cast over his face, his eyes burned intently staring down the corridor she had just come from. His eyes flickered back to hers glaring.

“Acar behind you.” He whispered, licking his lips. “Don’t look!” He hissed, sounding almost desperate and he took a half step towards her again, one hand stretched out in front of him. “Give me the gun.”

“Are you mad?” Kate replied, stunned and glared at him. At that second she heard a chattering sound and then a screech from behind her. Wilson moved in one swift motion, pulling her behind him and grabbing the gun from her hands, firing it at the creature as it lunged for where she had been standing.

Kate screamed, as blue light shone like streaks of lightning from the gun, and the creature, looking like a tall thin half-skinned rabbit, lay on the floor. It’s elongated body twitching.

“There may be more.” Wilson said quietly, glancing around and slid the gun onto the belt he wore around his waist. “Don’t mind if I keep this do you?” He asked, and that insolent grin was back. He looked at her. “You alright?” He asked, his voice light and yet … odd.

Kate nodded and pulled her hand back from where it had been clutching at his arm. “Yes. Fine.” She whispered and glanced at the creature, its mouth lay open showing rows of angular jagged yellow teeth that were stained red with flesh blood. “Nearly had my arm ripped off.” She said with a smile and looked back at him.

“Sorry.” He smiled. He had a nice smile, it seemed to reflect in his deep blue eyes.

Kate smiled at him, suddenly realising how tall he was and found herself wondering what he would look like with longer hair. It was short, almost shaved light brown almost blonde. The prison cut suited him though, made his face seem less square, more angular. She felt her heart flip in her chest, the man nearly needed a warning sign around his neck for lonely single women to stay away from that smile.

She felt her face heating and she looked away, remembering the cut in his arm. “Let me look at that.” She whispered.

“Later.” He glanced at her thoughtfully. “Ben Wilson by the way, and you are?”

“Kate … Kate Mulraney, I’m Dr Jenkins nursing assistant.” Her face fell. “I was I mean … I … he’s dead.” She said softly and rubbed her forearms.

Ben nodded and gave her a soft smile of commiseration. “Come on.” He said quietly, taking the kit from her and slinging it over his shoulder. “Butchers bill ran high here, let’s see what else they got up to.”

Kate stretched her legs, almost having to run to keep up with him. “Where are we going?” She asked.

Ben looked at her quickly, but slowed his pace slightly. “Command room. See if we can find out where we are for a start.”

“Arkena.” Kate said quickly and then looked at him. “That’s where we were headed right?” She asked.

Ben snorted almost angrily. “Yeah right, headed, but that’s not where we are. I’d say we’re on the other side of the galaxy.”

“You’re kidding!” Kate gasped and stared at him. “But why, who?” She stammered.

“Only one who is likely to have given those coordinates is the Captain. Let’s find him and find out. Shall we?” He asked, stepping aside to open a door for her. He held it open, smiling at her.

Kate looked at him curiously and stepped through to the stair well. The space inside was small, with barely enough room for them to walk side by side. “I thought you would be trying to escape.”

“And go where?” Ben asked, glancing up ahead of them. He paused and looked at her intently. “Shh.” He whispered, taking hold of her arm.

Kate paused, her heart seemed to pound in her throat as she pressed further back against the wall, her ears pricked listening to the sounds of the ship. It seemed to hiss, as if alive. “What is it?” She breathed, looking up at him.

Ben smirked at her once more, leaning over her. “Aren’t you afraid?” He whispered. “Alone … here … with a convicted criminal?”

Kate blinked and swallowed hard, her mouth opened and shut. She tried to speak but nothing came out other than a jumble of noises. Ben laughed softly and turned away, taking the stairs quickly. Kate darted after him, laughing and swatted at his arm playfully. “Don’t do that!” She complained and then pushed herself off his back. He had stopped so suddenly, she had ran into him. He was staring ahead into a scene of utter destruction.

She moved past him, as a disembodied electronic voice came over the loud speaker. “Warning, warning. Turbine engine three has malfunctioned. Systems are now running on emergency power. Warning, warning. Electronic malfunction detected in system core, cooling system is off-line. Automatic attempts to repair have failed. Warning, warning. Thirty minutes emergency power remaining. Recommend evacuation.”

The voice trailed off as if someone had turned off the power. Everywhere Kate looked was death. The ships navigator lay slumped in her chair, her head twisted at an impossible angle with a large gash in her throat. She had been dead for some time. The lights on the console panel surrounding the wall flickered on and off in a strange pattern.

“Don’t touch anything.” Ben warned as she moved.

Kate looked back at him, fighting back the tears. “What happened?” She asked, afraid of the despair sounding in her voice. She looked around the room, it appeared as if someone had taken to the computer bank with an axe, wires lay hacked to pieces. A groan from across the room made her head turn in that direction and ignoring Ben’s hand on her shoulder, she moved swiftly.

A man sat, leaning against the wall, bleeding from a wound to the side of his head. He pulled his hand away and blood gushed forwards. Sinking down to the floor, he groaned in agony. Kate swallowed and took the kit as Ben handed it to her.

“Ben … is that you?” The man groaned. “God it’s good to see you. If anyone else is alive, I don’t know.”

“Try and not to talk.” Kate murmured. “Save your strength.”

The man pushed her hand away and reached for Ben’s shirt, pulling him down and looked at him with his one remaining eye. He gasped and coughed with the effort.

“What happened Luke?” Ben whispered, squatting on the floor.

“The Captain.” Luke gasped and then grunted in pain. “He … killed everyone … destroyed the computer systems.” Luke panted for breath for a moment, obviously struggling. “He jumped. Just moments before.”

“I felt the jump.” Ben replied gently, his voice strangely soothing. “But why, where?”

“Veela.” Luke murmured and coughed. He wiped the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand. “He … he was hiding them on board. Acar, I don’t know how many, two or three. He …” Luke broke off, exhausted and breathing shallowly. “He took the Alnitak.”

With that, Luke’s eyes rolled back in his head and his head fell backwards against the wall. Ben grabbed hold of Kate’s arm and pulled her to her feet, a look of cold determination crossed his face.

“Veela.” He hissed.


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