Ashell Burndtree waited near the alien box that the Zirkonians had provided him. He was awaiting his next communication. Burndtree had tried to contact the Zirkonians but he had learned that the Zirkonians would not talk unless they wanted. And then, without much forewarning, it sparked and fizzled like it had done many times before.
“ Rak, I’ve been waiting. When will I get my end of the bargain? “
“ We’re not humans, Burndtree. We know to keep our word. When Admiral Xa’s soldiers recover the God-seed, then your package will be delivered. But not a second before. And for your sake, and for the sake of whoever you wish to save, pray that we find the God-seed soon. “ The fiery voice crackled and died out.
Ashell Burndtree let his head collapse into his hands. He wasn’t even sure he had done the right thing. But atleast he had done something.
He got up wearily, and made his way into the lower levels of his residence. He was headed to the secret chamber in the basement. Deep inside the basement, he went, bypassing corridors and metal doors until he eventually stood in front of a large containment chamber. The containment chamber had a glass viewing screen and was filled with a mixture of nitrous coolant and hypothermic freezing liquids. At the very centre of this chamber, suspended by a few cords, lay a woman. She seemed to be in some kind of stasis. However her body kept jerking, bubbling and frothing in the blue liquid. Only someone who knew what was happening could tell that her body was spontaneously exploding, small bursts of energy breaking out like rashes all over parts of her body, and the liquid was what kept her body cool and unharmed. It kept her alive.
But Ashell knew that Lana Burndtree would not live very long if the deadly disease that affected her could not be cured soon. Her body would eventually disintegrate due to the repeated impacts of the explosions. The pyrorexia virus that afflicted her could only be cured by something the Zirkonians possessed. And Ashell Burndtree was willing to sign over the universe to save his daughter’s life.
Franklin Delaney had not killed all the survivors of the Mellinks incident. There was one who he actually saved. One whom he loved. Lana Burndtree had been in the Mellinks Metrorail when the off-course Zirkonian ship had crashed into the area. It was later learned that the Zirkonian pilots had all been affected by the pyrorexia virus and they had been unable to control the ship. They passed on the dreaded disease to all the people in the vicinity. Although native to Zirkonians, the disease could easily take hold of any race with an organic composition. It soon spread by way of random explosions all over the area. Franklin and a disease containment team was sent in to neutralize the threat. It had been Franklin’s decision to destroy everyone in the area. However, he couldn’t bring himself to kill Lana. He saved her and took her to her father. They had been working together to save her ever since, till a strange twist of fate brought them into the case of the God-seed.
“ Madam Convenor, the Menovians and Zambarians have agreed to send us peacekeeping forces to ward off the Zirkonian attack. However, clearly they wont step in until Zirkonian forces attack civil or residential areas.”
“ Understandable, Commander. We’ll just have to hope that we do not need their support. “
“ And Madam….the Chancellor of Luna wishes to speak with you.”
Finalta knew this had been coming.
“ Patch him through. “
A second later, the hawk-nosed pudgy face of the Chancellor of Luna came into view before Finalta.
“ Finalta, dear. Greetings and good health.” He intoned in his unctuous voice.
“ Chancellor …“ She emphasized on the word, ”…Maldoran, I know you probably need something. Just tell me now instead of wasting my time with pleasantries.”
But Maldoran was clearly enjoying himself. “ I am hurt that you would feel that way. It so happens I was just informing you of… a change of plans.”
“ What do you mean ?”
“ There was a transport you’d asked for. Leya, I believe the name was. It was supposed to be docked back on Farside soon enough. However, it seems that the Leya is taking a detour. We wouldn’t want it hijacked or something now, would we ?”
Finalta was shocked. She had no idea of Gunnar’s plans, and she tried to show no surprise on her face.
“ I’m sure its headed where its supposed to be.”
“ Would those travel plans include being blown up by rebel factions ? I hope not. I’ve been led to believe that you have some….precious cargo aboard.” Maldoran grinned wickedly.
Finalta wasn’t sure how to deal with Maldoran, but she knew she had to do something quick.
“ What are you getting at, Maldoran ?”
“ I’ve always told you, I never wanted this Chancellorship. Give Luna planet status, Convenor. Make me a member of the Planetary Council. Then, maybe, I’d have the military powers to deal with this kind of a situation, and bring back the Leya safely.”
“ Maldoran, this is exactly the kind of talk that’ll take you further from a seat on the Council. As for Luna becoming a planet, that’s for the Council to decide, not me.”
“ I’m sorry you see it that way.” Chancellor Maldoran’s voice turned ice-cold. “ You see, the separatists here have an agenda which involves planet status for Luna. If they take it upon themselves to destroy a few transports to get what they want….I can’t really stop them with the meager powers I have. Even as we speak, they could be firing heavy artillery at Leya. I hope you understand my position.” Maldoran sneered.
Finalta had heard threats like this before. Any other time, she would have called Maldoran’s bluff. But not this once, not with the God-seed at stake. She had to do something.
“ Chancellor, rest assured, I will convene an emergency meeting as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of according Luna planet status. I hope we have reached an agreement then.”
“ By agreement, if you mean that the Leya remains unharmed, I hope so too.” Maldoran’s sneering face disappeared.
Finalta couldn’t help but exhale deeply. She needed to contact Gunnar soon, but she also knew that it would be dangerous if the Zirkonians or the Amenorites were to track her communications. She had to wait for Gunnar to call.
And all the while, somewhere inside the Leya, an entity was lurking. Its last attempt at possession had failed, and it was looking for a new host, a better one. It already had one in mind. And the time was just right. For as the ancient force in Cargo Hold 8 craved, the entity craved to possess it, to use it to finish what had been started. It could feel the gravity waves tugging and pulling at everything in the ship, almost as strong as the God-seed pulling at it.