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The Dohani War

by Martin Kerharo

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Chapter 2: Battle

part 2

My communicator roused me with its insistent vibrating. Only one hour had passed, and I was groggy. It was Colonel Wilson, of Intelligence. No doubt he wanted details about our discovery, I thought. I was wrong.

“Lieutenant, you are temporarily promoted to the rank of lieutenant in Intelligence with top-secret clearance,” he said hurriedly. “From now on, any information about the creature you captured is classified top secret. I repeat: top secret. Do you understand?”

That woke me up. “Uh, yes, Colonel,” I said as soon as I had recovered from my surprise. I understood the “secret” part but not the part “promoted to Intelligence.”

“Very good,” he answered. “The audio-video recordings of your... contact... with this creature have come to the attention of the command and general staff at the highest levels. You are detached from your current unit and reattached to the 8th Intelligence Group. You will be transferred to another base of operations. You will embark on the corvette C-4096. A shuttle will take you there. Departure from dock 4 at 0800. You have one hour to get ready.” He ended the transmission without further explanation.

My communicator vibrated again. It was a text message confirming his orders and giving other details.

I was confused and shocked to be reassigned so suddenly. I packed my duffel bag and headed out through the corridors, towards the dock where my designated shuttle was due to depart.

When I got aboard, I found Sergeant Charts, who explained that he had received the same message as I. He was even more sour than I was. He liked fighting, and he had understood we might not get any more of it for a while.

Next to us, strapped onto a bunk was the girl we had named Jane. She was still asleep.

We were going to be baby sitters.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

* * *

The shuttle took us to the corvette, which immediately powered up its engines. We were going to a nearby space station, but that was all we knew.

Jane was put on another bunk, still shackled and strapped in. Sleeping, she seemed calm and fragile. But Charts and I were in a good position to know that releasing her would be a fatal mistake.

* * *

Space station S-804 had been a scientific research base and was converted to purposes of surveillance and supply when the war broke out. It was armed and had a few fighter ships to defend it. They were not enough to resist a serious attack. But we were far enough from the front that we would not be involved in combat. Theoretically.

The base looked very odd. It was painted white, like a science station, but it had military equipment, cannons and missile launchers grafted onto the surface of its hull.

When we disembarked we were met by an Intelligence officer. “Welcome,” he greeted us, returning our salutes. “I’m Captain Tacoma. I’ll tell you what we expect of you.”

Soldiers in combat uniform took Jane away on a stretcher. She still had not awakened, which was not surprising if her metabolism were human enough. It had been only three hours since she had been put under by the tranquilizers.

“Your orders are to take care of the survivor,” the captain continued.

They had decided to call her that because they thought she had been kidnapped by the Dohani and indoctrinated to fight humans, but she had managed to survive all that.

“You, in particular, Lieutenant Zimski,” he continued. “You will stay with her permanently because you are of interest to her. Maybe you look like someone she knew before the Dohani captured her. Sergeant Charts, since you are an expert in close-quarters combat and you have already seen the girl in action, you will protect the lieutenant.”

We nodded.

“Our orders are to establish communication with her in order to obtain as much information as possible about the Dohani. We also want to study her combat skills. She will be taken to the infirmary for medical examination. Your quarters have been reserved; the info has been sent to your communicators. Understood?”

“Yes, sir, Captain, sir!”

“I’ll leave you now. Good luck.” He departed down another corridor.

Station S-804 was comfortable compared to a true military station. The corridors were wide; for us that was a change from the passageways of the Phoebus. And it had a calm atmosphere unlike that aboard a combat vessel.

The infirmary was large and had half a dozen beds. We introduced ourselves to the doctor, a woman of about thirty-five with dark hair, who was always smiling. Everyone who met her, liked her. She would make the visit enjoyable...

“Hello, gentlemen,” she said, “I’m Doctor Eliza Doyle. I’m a civilian volunteer assigned to this station. Call me Eliza, or Liz, for short.”

Jane was put on one of the beds. Eliza began to examine her. The escort of two guards in combat gear would remain with us, just in case.

“Does she have a name?” asked Eliza.

“Jane Doe, ma’am... I mean, Eliza.”

“Okay, Jane,” she murmured, “let’s see what you’re made of.” She began to deploy various analyzers, scanners, sonographs, etc. “Go check in and get some rest,” she told us. “I’ll call you if there’s any news.”

* * *

After the physical examination, Jane was put in quarantine in a cell and her shackles were removed. She was still unconscious.

The cell was a comfortable little room with transparent, unbreakable walls. It was designed to deal with contamination problems and was fitted with an airlock. That simplified security: the two doors of the airlock could not be opened at the same time.

In a manner of speaking, Jane was actually a kind of dangerous virus and had to be kept in isolation.

The space in front of the cell served as a small observation room with a bench and medical equipment. Charts and I took our places. All we had to do was wait.

Eliza came and joined us. She explained that she had not found much. Jane had an electric circuit running throughout her body, like the Dohani. Eliza had detected electrical activity in the neural implant circuits, but it was impossible to tell what it was doing.

Probes had been pasted to Jane’s body. She would probably tear them off when she woke up, but that didn’t matter. Until then, the probes would monitor her vital signs. Eliza had undressed her and put her into a hospital gown. Another bureau was analyzing her pyjamas. I doubted they would find anything interesting, and we already had a lot of Dohani clothing and other accessories.

“Her anatomy and physiology are identical to those of a human being,” Eliza said, “except for her... improvements. “She has the same organs we do: lungs, heart, digestive tract. Her bones are very different from ours: I’ll bet they’re more solid, but I can’t know more without taking a sample. That’s why she weighs ten percent more than a human being of the same size.”

Eliza pointed to the electrocardiogram on the medical monitor. “Her heart is stronger than ours; it has to be for her to move so rapidly. At rest, it beats twice as slowly as a human heart. She also has complete reproductive organs. But her genetic code is very different. She has five more pairs of chromosomes than we, and they are much longer than ours. It’s practically certain she can’t reproduce with a human being.”

That meant that Jane was the only member of her species, unless the Dohani had produced other creatures like her.

She was not human.

Proceed to Chapter 3...

Copyright © 2012 by Martin Kerharo
translation © 2013 by Donald Webb

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