No Place for Us
by Thomas R. Willits
|Table of Contents|
Part 3 appears
in this issue.
|part 4 of 5|
“They already outnumber us. We’ve got no reinforcements. They have more ships on the way, Command said it was a large fleet. Shartran wasn’t lying about that. Now we must get this station evacuated. We are running out of time. Prepare evacuation procedures. That’s an order, Sergeant.“
Sergeant Peters looked at him defiantly but did as ordered. He sounded the evacuation alarm and the station’s alert sounded.
“Dispatch two of our transports to Alem Kor to evacuate the miners,” he told Peters. “Tell them not to complain about being overcrowded, because two is all I can spare. Their transports will go directly to Eyos. Prepare all remaining transports to begin loading civilian and non-crew first. Keep me informed. Reese, you’re with me.”
“Yes, sir,” he said and followed him out of the control room.
Crew and officers were scattering about, making preparations to evacuate the station. Some of them glanced at Hawker briefly, and he tried not to show any disgrace. Some of them stopped to ask him if it were true and he had to say, “Yes, it is true. Now hurry up before you get left behind.” They proceeded to the nearest lift and descended below to the lower decks.
“May I ask where we’re headed?” Reese asked.
“Something I haven’t had time to see to,” Hawker answered. “You haven’t taken a stab at me yet, Reese. Aren’t you going to ask me if I made the right decision here? Or maybe try and talk me out of it?”
Reese shook his head. “I’ve known you too long for that, Commander. I guess once you make a decision you always stick with it. It’s one thing I’ve come to know about you.”
Commander Hawker stepped off the lift and thought about what Reese told him. “You probably just think I’m hard headed.”
“Not at all, sir,” Reese argued and gave him a brief smile. It was quite unusual for Reese to be humorous.
“Guard,” Commander Hawker called. “Release the door.”
The guard on duty did as instructed and let them in.
“May I ask why we’re down here in lockup?”
“Well, I figured we’d take care of our guests,” Hawker answered. “In the middle of all that’s happened I haven’t had a chance to see to these Venorans.”
“You think they might have had something to do with what’s happening?” Reese inquired.
“Maybe. Maybe they had nothing to do with any of this. But they are Venorans regardless, right? And they do deserve justice, right? I figured you might want to tag along.”
“I don’t understand,” Reese said confused. “You practically fought me off them the other day. Now you want me to kill them?”
“Haven’t decided yet,” Hawker said strangely. “Depends on how they answer my questions.”
Reese looked at him and tried to decide if he was kidding or not. Honestly, he couldn’t tell. Hawker did look serious, but his actions weren’t exactly normal. Reese grabbed him by the arm and stopped him before he entered the next corridor. Hawker did look serious and Reese slowly let go of his arm.“Did command decide what to do with them?” Reese asked him.
“No,” Hawker said turning back to the corridor. The holding cells were at the next junction. “They never even acknowledged my transmission. I guess they have more important matters to see to right now. They apparently believe I’m capable of taking care of them, as well. I hope they’re right.”
Hawker and Reese turned into the next junction and they were in the main lockup. Holding cells were on each side of the room. The only two occupied were by the two Venorans. He approached both cells, then stopped at the older brother who had spoken before.
The younger one never said a word. Hawker looked at him closely. “Are you Anor?” He asked. Both of them looked identical.
The Venoran nodded his head, but said nothing.
“Your brother doesn’t say much. Does he speak?”
“I will answer any questions you have, Commander,” Anor responded.
“As long as you approve of the question, right?”
Anor didn’t answer but his expression on his face told him enough.
“Have you come to deliver the verdict, Commander?” Anor asked him. “Have your superiors given us our sentencing? If so, please get on with it. I grow fatigued in this cage of yours.”
“Perhaps I have come to do that. We can’t have ruthless villains like yourselves roaming the galaxy. It’s probably better that you die now anyway. Sooner or later you’ll run into the wrong people, and they’ll likely take matters into their own hands.”
“It’s amazing,” Anor said approaching the bars of the cage. “How much alike you and I are.”
“That’s absurd,” Hawker snapped. “Venorans are monsters.”
“Is it so absurd, Commander?” he protested. “True, we are more vicious. We kill in the most vile way we can. Sometimes the most painful ways possible. We torture, we murder, we annihilate entire species.”
“It’s a good thing we stopped your kind when we did,” Hawker spat. “You are monsters.”
“Yes, Commander!” Anor screamed, although it sounded more like a hiss. “We are monsters! You and me. We are monsters. How many have you killed? A hundred? A thousand?”
“We are nothing like you.”
“Nonsense,” he hammered again. “Our reign was at an end. We knew our time was up before you came along. But we still fought because we are a proud race. We don’t surrender. Their is no word in our language for surrender. And here we are in similar places, aren’t we, Commander? Time to make some hard choices. Surrender or die, right?”
“You know nothing of my situation.”
“I know why you’re here Commander. You may hide behind your disguise of an upstanding and moral officer, but deep down you’re just like us. Before I grow tired and beg for death, ask yourself something first. Ask yourself if all Venorans are guilty of the murder and atrocity you’ve convicted us of. Did you ever consider that maybe we aren’t guilty? That maybe not all Venorans took part in the wars of annihilation or the tortures and experiments? Ask yourself if we’re guilty because justice has been rightfully served or because we’re guilty of being Venorans. That is why we’re alike, Commander, don’t you see? Don’t you see that we are the same? We are monsters.”
Hawker looked at him, puzzled. “Martial law was passed years ago declaring all Venorans guilty,” Hawker recalled. “I could show you the conviction notice. We lost millions because of your kind. And not just the ones that died at the hands of your biological weapons. The ones that were captured, and tortured to death. Those are the ones that deserve justice here today.”
“Don’t you hear yourself, Commander?” Anor pleaded. “You knew I was guilty before you laid eyes on me. You may not have told your staff, but deep down you wanted me dead. You wanted your officer to pull the trigger.”
“No, You’re wrong. I believe that even you are entitled to a fair trial. Even a monster like yourself deserves a chance.”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Anor said in response. “Kill me now. Deliver justice, Commander. Take matters into your own hands. Show the galaxy you can deliver justice. Do it for all those you lost. Those that died horribly.”
“I’m not here for revenge.”
“Wrong, Commander,” he argued. “It’s the only reason you’re here. Don’t try and cover the truth. If we had been more civilized in our tactics you would not be here today. We would likely have lost the war long before, and you would have treated us differently. It is because of revenge, Commander. Don’t be fooled by your sense of ethics. Don’t you see Commander? There is no place for us here. Not any more. You must deliver justice. It is the only way. There can be no punishment for what we have done. There can never be any, Commander. We are all guilty. Guilty of being Venoran. You must see that now. There is no place for us.”
Hawker watched him, almost afraid at this point. Anor was now hunched over. His last few sentences were coming out in weeps. He was crying, sort of. Hawker turned to Reese, wondering what to do next. Anor said nothing, just continuing to wail.
“You may be right,” Hawker said under his breath and then spoke so Anor could hear him. “You’re innocent aren’t you?”
Anor, still hunched over stopped at what he heard. His eyes were wet with tears. He looked at Hawker trying to speak. His words came out broken. They were nothing like how he had started with. “No, Commander,” he tried to say in a normal voice. “I deserve more than death.”
“I don’t think so, “ Hawker said approaching his cell. “You really had nothing to do with the war, did you? You won’t admit it, but I can see it now. You’ve probably never killed anyone.”
“No,” he stuttered. “I am guilty! We are all guilty!”
“What about your brother here?” he asked him trying to put things together. “Why doesn’t he speak?”
“He will not answer your questions, Commander. Speak to me.”
“No,” he argued and moved to his brother’s cell. He looked at him closely. They were so alike. There were no noticeable differences. “Why doesn’t he speak? You understand what I’m saying, Yentoc, don’t you?”
“He will not speak!”
“He will speak if he is honorable,” Hawker shouted back. “Tell me Yentoc. What did you do in the war? What was your job? Did you assemble the bio weapons? Or did you torture? Or both?”
Yentoc said nothing. He only stared back with no emotion.
“You don’t speak because you would expose yourself, right?” Hawker questioned. He was now right at the front of the cell face to face with Yentoc. “You let your brother speak because you are guilty. You would speak the truth because of your code of honor. You’re the monster here, not your brother. “
“Don’t answer him!” Anor commanded.
Yentoc’s arm swung forward quickly smashing against the cell’s bars where Hawker stood. The bars sustained the blow but the noise was immense. Hawker stepped back quickly and smiled. Yentoc was furious.
“Ahh, so I’m right.”
Hawker watched him closely and waited. For a moment Yentoc said nothing. Then he began to speak calmly and clearly like a well trained Venoran would.
“My brother is right, Commander,” Yentoc said collecting himself, his anger subsided. “We are the same, you and I. Now ask your question.”
Commander Hawker looked at him and nodded. Beside him Reese watched not knowing what they were talking about. Hawker moved forward and whispered something to Yentoc only the two of them could hear. Whatever he said Yentoc made no reply and showed no further anger. He simply nodded.
* * *
For the first time in nearly ten years, the planet Alem Kor was as desolate as the day it was discovered. All the miners had been evacuated, even Galtor who put up a long-winded protest. Sargent Peters had to threaten him to get him to leave. All were en route to Eyos. On the station, all civilians and families of the mining team were now gone, as well as most of the crew. Some engineering teams were still making last-minute preparations. Most of Hawker’s senior staff was still on the station awaiting their next orders. The evacuation had taken the entire day. The station was quiet and empty.
Hawker entered the control room along with Lieutenant Reese. Sergeant Peters was still in charge. He saw them enter and stood up. “Sir,” he said as Hawker entered the room. “The station is nearly evacuated. Only those in this room and a small engineering team remain. We are moving them to the last transport ship now. All of our fighter ships have been launched. All systems are functioning on automation mode. Station defense systems are on standby.”
“Good work, Peters,” Hawker applauded. “I guess it’s time the senior staff be on their way as well. See that the engineering team boards the transport and then get yourselves aboard. I take it my ship is still in dock?”
“Of course. I figured you’d want to leave on her. She’s ready for launch.”
“Do you think we’ll be back, Commander?”
“I don’t know,” Hawker answered. “Things aren’t good at home. We’ll likely be busy there for some time.”
“You’d better see to those engineers, Sergeant,” Hawker told him. “Then get yourself aboard. I’ll see you all back on Eyos.”
“Yes, sir,” Peters said and gave him his chair. “It’s been an honor serving with you, Commander.”
“You’re a good officer, Peters. One of the finest.”
“Oh, Commander,” Peters said remembering something. “Doctor Lacon was just here. He wanted to see you before he boarded his ship. He wanted to let you know he identified the body from the damaged section. It wasn’t the Captain’s. It was an engineer named Descor. He thought you’d want to know.”
“Thank you, Peters,” he said sincerely.
Peters lingered for a moment then left with the rest of the senior staff. Reese remained.
“You too, Reese,” Hawker said as he sat in his command chair.
“I stay with the Commander,” Reese protested.
“Not this time, Reese,” Hawker argued. “I’ve got to do this alone. Shartran is already on his way.”
“You always get what you want, Commander,” Reese sympathized. “Good luck, Commander. I’ll see you on Eyos.”
Copyright © 2005 by Thomas R. Willits