"He did nothing," Captain Kane defends me.
"Word has gotten out about the Upsetter alien. The alien attacked the hangar. Dozens were killed in the attack. The entire space station knows there is a rogue alien on board this ship. Only two members of your crew knew. The Admiral warned that this would mean Procedure 770 if this information got out."
At that moment I'm shocked. Was it really my fault? I had only told my crew. Did someone leak the information to others? Even worse, did someone on my crew release the alien personally?
Was the attack my fault?
Captain Kane tries to get me up off the ground but one of the men lift their guns at him, "Absolutely not. Procedure 770 means that he will be killed..."
"Stay away from him."
"I'm the Captain of the UCE Heavenly and you point a gun at me private?" Kane tells one of the soldiers.
"Captain we have so much respect for you, especially after your mission," the soldier explains, "It inspired all of us. You have no idea. But these are our orders. Please stay out of this Captain."
The gun stays pointed on Kane. I know that it is eating him up right now. A few of them try to lift me up at that moment but they don't get far. Someone runs over and tackles the guard holding me to the ground! It's Katashi. I'm shocked when I see Katashi wrestling the gun out of his hand. Anne grabs me and pulls me to safety in her arms. At that moment Royce and Cassie attack another soldier. Royce knees him and pins him to the ground. Cassie wrestles the gun out of his hand.
Both Cassie and Katashi have guns right now but they are surrounded.
"No one's hurting Selah," Katashi says.
I'm a little shocked my crew members are running to my defense like this. Cassie is close by as well pointing a gun at the soldiers just like Katashi is doing. It's not just them two either. Johnny, Trucker and even Idris have formed a wall to block Anne and I from the soldiers who are approaching. The soldiers surround us lifting guns in the air.
"I don't like him but if anyone hurts him it's going to be me," Idris responds.
"Walk away," one of the soldiers says.
"Captain Kane. Order your men down," another one instructs.
Captain Kane has his hands lifted still in a hopeless manner.
"You told me to stay out of this. Remember?" the Captain responds.
We are at a standoff. My crew is protecting me from the Admiral's personal soldiers. The soldiers are definitely more seasoned in combat than my crew. Just not too long ago we were all civilians. Still everyone has that defiance in their eyes. To be honest I'm grateful. This isn't just my crew. At this moment these are my friends and they'd do anything it took to protect me.
"Here is what is going to happen," Cassie announces, "You motherfuckers are going to go back to the Admiral and tell him to shove a dick up his ass. Selah is a part of this crew. There is no way we are going to let you guys kill him."
"He broke protocol," the soldier responds.
"Fuck your protocol---bareback with no condom," Cassie spits back aiming her gun directly at the guy who said it.
"See my friend here is very vulgar but she means business. And what she means is what we all mean. You want to kill him, you'll have to kill all of us," Royce lets them know.
"I don't think you'd want to kill the crew who brought humanity hope in its time of need, would you?" Captain Kane asks the soldiers, "People are already on edge because of the explosions."
One of the soldiers shakes their heads, "No. Of course we don't want to. But we have orders from the Admiral. We have to carry them out. No matter what."
"Bring on the bloodbath. I guarantee we won't be the only ones that die in this room," Cassie warns them.
My crew stays ready. They are ready to die for me. Every last one of them. I can't let this happen though. There is no way in hell I could let this go down.
"No," I interrupt, "I'll go with them."
Kane looks hard at me, "Selah, no, you won't..."
Kane called me Selah and not Private Powell. I can see this emotion in his eyes. The Captain looks emotional. He is clearly upset and he doesn't care who is around. He is showing it. Seeing him so upset means the world to me.
I smile at him, "It'll be OK."
"I'll go with him," Anne says.
"Ma'am. That isn't allowed," a soldier says.
Ma'am? I'm confused.
"I'm going," Anne argues with them.
The soldier seems reluctant but surprisingly agrees, "OK, Ma'am."
That's when Anne looks at the crew and says something that shocks us all, "Don't worry guys. I'll make sure my father doesn't hurt him..."
As we walk Anne stays close to me the entire time. She doesn't keep me out of her sight. She has this protective eye. I remember how reluctant my crew was to let me go. Still even though I know Anne is protecting me I can't help but to realize how confused I am by her little revelation. The soldiers lead me into a room one that Anne isn't allowed into.
"Don't worry. I'll make sure everything is OK," Anne tells me.
I'm pushed into the room and they block Anne from entering. When I get in the room I realize that I'm not alone in the room.
They got Lucky as well. I haven't seen him in some time. He's not really happy to see me. He has his arms crossed when they push me into the room. He rolls his eyes at me.
"You OK?" he asks me.
"I'm fine," I respond, sitting in the chair.
I look away from him. I'm annoyed he left the Heavenly still. I can't get over it.
"Wait Selah, shouldn't I be the one with the attitude?" he asks me, "You're the reason we are in here. You should have kept your mouth shut but you just needed to tell your crew about the alien."
"I trust my crew."
"Trust them?" Lucky asks, "Are you serious?"
"Yes. I'm serious."
Lucky laughs, "You don't even fucking know those people."
Lucky was getting on my nerves. Just because he abandoned the Heavenly doesn't mean that I was going to do the same thing. I cross my arms. I hate talking to this guy. I can't believe I'm stuck in a room with him waiting to die.
"I know them enough," I respond.
"Really? Did you know Cassie was a virgin?"
"Exactly. All she does it talk about sex but she's never even had it. I know because I tried to have sex with her the first day on this space station and she admitted it. I was so turned off that I ended up not doing it. The freaky chick never had sex before...in her life. I bet you had no idea."
Lucky is right. I'm shocked by this.
Cassie talked about wanting to have sex constantly. She had the mouth of a sailor and spent every moment she could flirting with guys on the space station. I had seen it myself. Gay, straight. It didn't matter to Cassie. She wanted it all and I thought until today that she had it all.
"It doesn't matter," I respond.
"Yes it does," Lucky responds, "You trust these people so much and clearly one of them ran their mouth to the wrong person. Or worse yet one of them helped an alien escape. Now we are going to fucking die because of it."
"You won't die. I'll admit to it. I'll take responsibility."
Lucky stares at me hard.
"No you won't," he says walking over to me and grabbing me out of the chair, "Don't even play like that..."
"I'm not going to let you get hurt for my mistake," I respond.
"Don't be stupid," he says, "Just deny it. We both can deny it."
"And what if he kills both of us."
Lucky takes a deep breath. He gets real upset, lets me go and then punches the wall hard as hell.
"Selah, I'm not about to let you just give yourself up like that," he explains to me.
"You don't have a choice."
"What about your friends?"
"If you admit to telling them, what do you think happens next? They'll have to find out who actually released the alien. What if no one on your crew admits to it? The admiral will kill the whole lot of them."
"He wouldn't..." I state.
Would he? I had no idea honestly. The truth was people had died in that attack and someone had to answer for it. The question was who released the alien. I think about the members of my crew. I couldn't imagine any of them releasing him but then again Lucky was right. I didn't know everything I needed to know about every member of my crew. All of them were there except for the Captain. Anyone of them could have released that alien. One of them could have been the person who betrayed the human race.
Was I willing to risk even one of them to punish some unknown traitor?
Lucky raises his eyebrow, "You want to risk their lives on that idea? Huh? No? I didn't think so. Keep your mouth shut when they come questioning us and follow my lead. I'll do all the talking."
Hours go by.
Lucky doesn't speak to me the whole time the hours go by. I wonder if he has some grand scheme to let us out of this room but I'm pretty sure he is just going to find a million ways to deny whatever claims the Admiral makes. I also know for sure that all his denying isn't going to mean a damn thing to the Admiral.
It takes what seems like forever until the Admiral comes into the room. He isn't surrounded by soldiers this time. He comes into the room alone and sits across from us. He has that same look on his face as well. The Admiral seems falsely pleasant and just odd over all. His eyes squint a little too low and his smile seems a little too much like forced protocol. He seems deadly serious when he sits in the chair. He takes these small circular glasses he has off, folds them neatly and tucks them into his breast pocket.
Lucky and I watch silently as he sits there for a moment as though contemplating intentionally how to frame each word. The admiral seems like a very intentional man.
"It seems like we are in a little bit of a pickle, but I'm sure you're aware of that," the Admiral states.
I stay quiet like Lucky wants. I let him take the lead.
"We have no idea what you're talking about," Lucky states.
"There was an attack in the Pioneer's shuttle hangar which I'm sure you are aware of. The attack was done using bombs stolen from the Pioneer's weapon deck. Based on cameras we were able to see that the attack was done by the Upsetter alien. We saw this because the alien changed faces several times during the attack to keep from being detected by the maintenance crew. I'm sure the two of you assumed that as well."
"We don't know what you are talking about man," Lucky states.
The Admiral sighs.
"The alien escaped from captivity in order to carry out this attack. That would have been impossible unless he had help. No one knew about the alien but the two of you. Because of one or both of you there is an alien on board this space station."
Lucky sighs, "Well, why you talking to us? I suggest you get looking for it before it causes even more trouble."
"Don't worry. We are on that," The admiral states, "I'm more concerned on what I should do with the two of you."
"I have a suggestion," Lucky says, "How about you release us?"
I look over at Lucky. Did he really think it would be that easy?
"My daughter suggested the same thing. My daughter has real affinity towards you," the admiral says looking towards me.
I'm shocked, "I had no idea Anne was your daughter."
The admiral nods, "Anne's mother was in charge of overseeing the construction of the Pioneer. She was brilliant...just like Anne. Unfortunately she was killed by an Upsetter assassin. The Upsetters hoped to stop the construction of the Pioneer."
I had no idea.
"I'm sorry to hear that," I respond.
For the first time the Admiral shows some sort of true humanity. It isn't in the form of emotion. He is more reminiscent. He's thinking of his wife probably. I can see how he stares away like one does when they are remembering something very important.
"I wasn't able to stop the Upsetter. That's what these aliens do though. That's probably what they've always done. They change shapes and they upset us. That's how they got their name. The upsetting things these aliens do. They thought by killing my wife that the construction of the Pioneer would be halted, but they had no idea that my daughter had been working so closely with my wife in it's design. My daughter was able to complete the work her mother started."
"Anne helped design the Pioneer?" Lucky asks.
Lucky and I look at one another.
We are both shocked.
"She was it's head designer after her mother died. You can say that this is Anne's idea. She's always been brilliant. Just like her mother. Anne always took the Upsetter threat serious. We would have been even more unprepared if it wasn't for her."
"And you put her as a regular crew member?" Lucky asks.
"It was what she wanted," the Admiral responds, "She wanted to help out. On the ground level. She wouldn't be upset. No matter how much the Upsetter tried. She wanted to save humanity over everything. That's what my Anne wanted. That's what Anne's mother wanted before the Upsetter you let escape killed my wife."
The same Upsetter that killed the Admiral's wife and Anne's mother was the one who they had in captivity. Why had the Admiral kept the Upsetter alive this time? Why not get revenge on the Upsetter for what it did to his wife?
"I'm sorry..." I state.
"Shut up," Lucky tells me, "He has nothing to be sorry for. Selah didn't do a fucking thing. You hear me? We didn't do anything. We're innocent. We didn't say a word. Maybe you have a leak somewhere but it isn't us. We kept our mouths shut."
"It was the two of you or at least one of you. I know that for a fact," the Admiral states, "I've interviewed the members of the Heavenly crew and they all deny you told them anything and that's why I know. They aren't very good liars."
My heart burns. It makes me smile knowing my crew didn't give me up though. Not even Idris.
"You're here to kill us aren't you?" I ask, "Procedure 770."
"That was the plan," the Admiral states.
"Then why talk to us? Why not just fucking do it already?" Lucky asks.
I'm surprised Lucky still hasn't snitched on me either. I can't believe him right now. He doesn't notice the look in the Admiral's eyes. He's still calling his bluff. I saw though. This was personal for the Admiral. I was responsible for the release of the alien that killed his wife. Not even Anne would be able to quell that anger.
"It was me," I state.
Lucky panics and stands up at that moment, "He's lying."
I stare directly at the Admiral.
"I figured," the admiral ignores Lucky and stares at me, "You're the sweet one. No one was going to lie to me so hard to help save this piece of shit..."
He is referring to Lucky when he says that. It wasn't the first time one of these officers referred to Lucky as a piece of shit. I hated it. No one saw in Lucky what I saw. I see the worried look in his eyes right now. He likes to pretend like he doesn't care about anyone or anything but I know better. Lucky is concerned right now. I can see it in his eyes. I'm happy that he is so worried about me. I'm happy that Lucky is breaking through his shell even if it's just a little bit. Even if he is just breaking through his shell specifically for me.
"Don't hurt him," I state, looking dead at Lucky.
The admiral nods and goes to the door. The soldiers come and they literally have to drag Lucky kicking and screaming out of the door.
"GET THE FUCK OFF ME!" Lucky states reaching for me, "SELAH! SELAH! SELAH!"
He screams my name so many times. It should be painful to see Lucky in so much pain but seeing him actually care for someone is something that I like. If this is the last time I see Lucky at least I know that he still has a heart. Even if he laughed when the Earth was destroyed I know that Lucky still cares deep inside his soul. He just needed someone to help bring that part of him back out. I'm glad I could play that part for Lucky one last time.
"It's OK," I tell him smiling.
I'm crying but I'm not crying for myself. I'm crying because I want to see Lucky care again. I don't want to die and Lucky just revert back to his old self that doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything.
It takes a 10 days before the day of my execution. I'm not sure why the Admiral has waited so long.
The admiral walks me down a hall with a few soldiers. Within a matter of minutes they put me into the airlock. From the other side of the airlock I can see space. I'm so alone at that moment. No one is there to help me. No one is there to save me.
The admiral stands on the other side of a thick door.
"When I press this button, you'll be released into space," he tells me, "Do you know what happens when you are released into space?"
"Anne told me."
"My daughter was prepared well for this mission. Do you remember everything she told you?" the Admiral asks me.
"Yes. I do."
"Repeat it if you can."
"I'll get sunburnt and sick. I'll lose consciousness after 15 seconds. If I don't hold my breath I could survive for two minutes. If I do external pressure will cause my lungs to expand immediately and I'll be vaporized. Either way I'll die. And I'll be mummified if I'm near heat. Admiral, may I ask a question?"
"Are we near heat?"
"Yes, Selah. We are near a star."
I smile, "Good."
"I think it's cool to be mummified in space. With the earth exploding there isn't much of anyone else. It's nice to know my body will be around forever I guess."
The admiral gets quiet for a minute.
"You are strange Selah."
"Why is that?"
"You are about to die. You don't look afraid."
"I am afraid. But I'm more sad."
The admiral is staring at me for a few minutes trying to figure me out. I had no idea I was that hard to figure out honestly. I guess when you face death the emotions you experience are complex. I'm not sure why the Admiral cares to figure out these emotions. Maybe he's trying to connect to all those people who died before the explosion. Capturing that emotion would be important to keep a leader like the Admiral going. Maybe he wants to know for when his time comes. Maybe he wants to know what his wife felt in her last moments.
"I don't know," I shrug, "I guess it's sad knowing how my crew will feel. I think they care about me. It's sad to think about their reaction."
"I saw their reaction first hand," the Admiral states.
"They believe you are already dead."
I'm confused, "Why would they believe that?"
"I told them."
I turn to the Admiral and stare him hard in his eyes. I'm the one trying to figure him out now.
"Why would you tell them that?"
The admiral sighs, "I figured one of them would break and tell me that they had information on who released the alien."
"Did they?" I ask.
"No. They were just devastated that you died. Not a dry eye in the room. Some got angry. A few of them attempted to even attack me. I detained them."
"Don't worry. I released them. They weren't even the most emotional one in the room. Would you like to know who that one was."
"Yes. How did you know?"
"Just a guess."
"He quit his position as Captain. He walked away from it all. Nothing and no one was capable of calming him down when he thought I killed you."
"You should try to get him back. He's a good captain. You'll need him."
The Admiral nods, "I think so as well. Why was he so emotional about you though? I've thought about it all day. What relationship did you have to the captain?"
"He would be that upset about any member of his crew."
The Admiral smiles, "You're lying. I can always look in someone's eyes and tell when someone is lying. I find it hard to believe you are just a normal member of his crew to him."
I look away. If he can look in my eyes and see that I was lying then I was going to make sure when I lied he couldn't see my eyes. There was no way in hell I was going to get the Captain in any more trouble than he already was in. The Captain would mourn me for a while but I hoped he came back. Not for me. I hoped he came back for everyone else. Captain Kane was a good captain. The Heavenly needed him. Humanity needed him.
"It doesn't matter," I state, "He'll come back. I know he will."
"I hope you are right. Selah. Before I press this button I need to ask you something."
"Who released the Alien?" he asks me.
"I did that."
I look up at him, "Because I wanted to."
I look away. Goddam him.
The Admiral stares at me hard, "Who released the Upsetter, Selah? If you don't know, who do you think it was?"
I didn't know who released the alien but there was no way I was going to let him hurt anyone else on my crew. They had my back and I was going to make damn sure I had their back.
I stare out into the other end of the space lock.
I wonder if I should hold my breath or not.
"I did," I tell the Admiral.
"It won't matter. You'll be dead in a second. At least do this last thing for humanity. It is important. Please Selah. Who do you think released the Upsetter?"
The stars are so beautiful even right before I die.
"You're an interesting boy. Selah," the captain tells me, "It suits you."
"To be the first human left in space. Mummified. It suits you. I'm sorry I have to do this, Selah. I'm sorry but humanity simply can't deal with traitors."
"Any last words Selah?" he asks me.
I see flashes of my friends. Katashi and his endlessly adoration. Cassie and her perfect vulgarity. Jonathan and his mysterious silence. Trucker and his quiet emotion. Royce and his inept goodness. Idris and his fearful anger. Anne and her useful knowledge. Then I think about the Captain and Lucky.
Who would miss me more?
Would it matter?
"Can you tell them that I love them?" I ask.
It's almost as though the Admiral is phishing for information.
"All of them. Every last one of them. I have enough love to go around."
The Admiral smiles at me.
"I'm sure you do. Goodbye Selah."
With that the Admiral presses the button and I am released into space.
At 1 second...I think about how beautiful space is as my floats.
At 5 seconds...I think about my family back home.
At 10 seconds...I think about my new family aboard the Heavenly.
At 15 seconds...I stop thinking all together. Anne was right once again. It would take 15 seconds before I lost consciousness.
There is nothing but eternal blackness. I thought it would be strange to be gasping for air. I thought it would be uncomfortable. It isn't. Death is not as frightening as the Upsetters would want us to believe. There is something so peaceful about it. I wish I could describe it to the crew. I wish I could let them know not to be afraid.
I wish I could let them know that no matter what happens everything would be OK.
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