Author: Tiffany T. Allen PM
Captain Blake Harris thinks that his only worries aboard his ship, are his pilot who can't fly, his paranoid mechanic, and the teenage criminal who is also his radar op. But he soon finds out that they are only the beginning of his problems.Rated: Fiction K - English - Sci-Fi - Chapters: 9 - Words: 26,256 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 10-10-12 - Published: 04-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3014683
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"It's over, Captain Harris, but the choice is yours." Scott announced. "Be filtered right here, or return to your ship and complete your FM."
Blake and the others could not fight back. They had only two laser stunners between the five of them, and each of the officers was armed. They would not be able to do as much as aim before each of them was shot.
And Blake could not feign giving up again. Scott had already fallen for it once and so had the officers back in Mission Control. None of them was likely to take the bait again, and they probably had a strategy in mind in case Blake should try this anyhow.
"Wait too much longer, Captain Harris and we'll make the decision for you." Scott warned.
Behind him, Blake could hear Ed and Kenny commiserating in hushed whispers, but he could not hear what was being said. Then both of them stepped up beside Blake.
"It's us that they want." Kenny said. "Ed and I surrender."
"No!" Blake exclaimed.
"You should let them surrender." Scott said. "If you do, then the rest of you will be spared. Once you also hand over your third Filter that is."
"No one is surrendering." Blake said firmly. He glanced over at Ed and Kenny. "No one."
"They'll kill everyone if we don't." Ed pointed out. He sure chose one hell of a time to acquire his courage.
"What do you think they'll do to you?" Blake asked.
"We know what they'll do." Kenny said grimly.
"Don't try to stop us, Captain." Ed told him.
"Seize them!" Scott ordered two of the officers. They hurried forward, and when Blake began to move aside to stop them, Scott said, "Don't move, any of you! We'll shoot you if you get in our way."
Ed and Kenny were led away; Scott turned to Blake, Glen, and Lisa.
"You and your crew will be free to go once your pilot is in our custody, Captain Harris." He said. "We'll lead all of you back to the Odyssey and apprehend Mr. Carver."
Blake did not respond. He had no intention of letting Command have Simon; nor of letting them keep Ed and Kenny. He and the other two had no choice at the moment however, but to follow Scott and the three officers outside.
They exited the building...and found that every ship was gone.
"What happened?" Glen asked. "Where are all of the ships?"
"I guess you don't have to hand in Mr. Carver after all." Scott said vindictively. "He's being filtered as we speak."
"The FMs are being completed." Blake said disbelievingly.
For all that could be seen were dozens of stunned officers; those that the crews had dealt with beforehand.
"That was the idea all along." Scott put in. "It is a shame that one Holder was filtered as well. Ms. Torres would have been spared with the rest of you. All of the Holders would have been."
Blake felt miserable, yet at the same time he was furious with Command. Despite their best efforts, Simon and Audrey had been filtered, along with the crews of Dragon Flight,
Eclipse, and all of the others. And unless he did something soon, the same thing would happen to Edward and Kenny.
"The three of you are free to go." Scott said to Blake, Glen, and Lisa. "Wait here and I'll find a craft to fly you from Command."
Scott turned to leave, but Blake grabbed Scott by the shoulder and wheeled him around.
"Either lead me to Ed and Kenny so that I can free them, or you free them yourself." He said dangerously.
The pain of losing Simon and Audrey was too much; at least Edward and Kenny could still be helped. Even that hope was crushed with Scott's next statement.
"Mr. McLeary and Mr. Glazer would have been filtered immediately." He said. "The officers would not have wasted any time in dealing with them."
The only thing more infuriating than the current circumstances was Scott's indifference to what had happened. He seemed to be absolutely pleased with what had occurred, and Blake wanted nothing more than to wipe that expression of smug victory off of Scott's face once and for all.
And he might have done so if he had not felt the barrel of a gun pressing into his back.
"Stand down, Captain Harris." The officer said from behind him. "Nothing can be done. You may as well leave peacefully."
Suddenly there was the sound of multiple lasers and the two officers on either side of Blake froze in place. He sensed that the officer behind him had been stunned as well, and when Blake turned around it was to see Audrey, Jon, and Karen.
"You guys are alive!" Blake exclaimed. "We thought that you were filtered."
"The Filters were." Jon said quietly.
"So Simon…" Blake said.
"Filtered." Audrey murmured.
"They set the Holders free." Karen added.
"If the other Holders weren't filtered, then where are they?" Lisa asked.
Before anyone could respond, a dozen officers raced through Command's door with their weapons locked and loaded.
"Why do the rest of you insist on fighting us?" Scott asked wearily. "We can't reverse what happened to your Filters and even if we could, we wouldn't. Your lives are being spared, as long as you cease this pointless rebellion."
Blake hated to admit it, but Scott was right. Grievous as it was, Simon, Ed, and Kenny were gone. There was no need for harm to come to the rest of them.
At that moment more of the Holders emerged; some from inside the building, and some seem to come from around the back of it. Among them, Blake saw Rita Pertroli and Elaine Crawford from Dragon Flight, Dana Rollins and Kyle Miller from Eclipse, as well as the Holders from Brahe, Super Nova, and some others. Each of them possessed a laser stunner.
"Lower your weapons," Scott ordered them, "or you'll leave us no choice but to force you. And we don't wish to harm anyone."
"You've already murdered every Filter aboard our ships!" Jon argued. "How can you say that you don't wish to harm anyone?"
"We don't wish to harm any of you." Scott said. "The Filters got what they deserved."
Jon began to hastily approach Scott, but one of the officers took aim at him and Jon
There was a standoff now between the officers and the Holders; the officers were outnumbered by three. Still, they had their guns aimed at the Holders, while the latter held their stunners at the ready.
"You have thirty seconds to lay down your arms." Scott said, glancing at his watch. "If you do not do as you're instructed, or if you attempt to fire at any of us, we will retaliate."
The Holders kept their aim, though none of them fired. They were not giving up, but they undoubtedly knew that their resistance meant a death sentence.
"Twenty seconds." Scott announced.
No one on either side backed down, but Blake saw Karen slowly withdraw a comm device from her pocket and say something into it. He wondered who she was speaking to. Of course, not all of the Holders were present yet, but if they came onto the scene now, the officers would waste no time in opening fire on them. Karen had to know this; maybe she was telling the others to stay back.
"Ten seconds." Scott said and the officers moved in a bit; the Holders stood their ground. "Nine…eight…seven…six…fi—"
A large explosion abruptly sounded and the roof of Command was blown off. In its wake hovered Eclipse, with its front cannon smoking.
Scott and the officers seemed positively alarmed and confused; two feelings that Blake shared. If the FMs were on their way to the black hole, then what was Eclipse doing here? He glanced back at Glen and Lisa who were gazing at Eclipse in equal shock.
"But—what—how—?" Scott sputtered.
Before he had time to form a coherent sentence, Dragon Flight ascended from the back of Command and fired its laser gun at an empty space between the officers. They immediately lost their aim on the Holders as they scrambled away from the laser.
Then with a flurry of speed, the Odyssey swept by low overhead, banked sharply to the
right, and hovered before the window above Command's front entrance. One of the twin cannons shattered the window and sent the officers who stood below it running for cover, as sharp fragments of glass fell to the ground.
Glen and Lisa seemed even more startled by the appearance of the Odyssey, and Blake could not explain it either. Nor did he know who was flying it.
According to Audrey, Jon, and Karen, the Filters had been filtered. So when Eclipse, and then Dragon Flight appeared, Blake had assumed that their Filters had been dealt with in some other fashion and that it was the missing Holders who were flying the crafts.
Simon was filtered…and Ed and Kenny had met the same fate. Blake and his three remaining crew members were on the ground, so it could not be any of the Odyssey's original crew. Even if Blake did think that Simon may be flying, this pilot's strategic maneuvering of the Odyssey would have made him dismiss the idea.
During the confusion of the newly arriving ships, the Holders were able to catch the officers off guard and stun them. More officers arrived on the scene, but as they did Brahe, Super Nova, Halley's Comet, and Galileo ascended on all four sides of Command. This offered a distraction and the new officers were promptly dealt with.
Scott, alone of all of Command's personnel, remained unfrozen. For some reason, those with stunners were not aiming for him.
The seven surrounding ships descended and their doors slid open. One person
disembarked from each craft and made their way over to the others.
And Blake could not believe his eyes when he saw Simon approaching, with a wide grin on his face.
"You're alive!" He exclaimed.
"Even through the hollow eyes of death I spy life peering." Simon quoted.
The pilots of the other ships were climbing off board as well, and the Filters from each ship followed. None of them had been sent on their FMs after all.
"Who was flying the Odyssey?" Blake asked, gazing over at its door as he waited for a second person to emerge.
"Your pilot." Simon replied.
"But, all that fancy flying just now…"
"You said yourself Captain, all I needed was practice." Simon turned to Scott and said, "And you wanted to Filter me."
Scott seemed dumbfounded. He gazed wordlessly at the surrounding Filter ships and the stunned officers. And now that none of the latter could stop him, Jon approached Scott.
"We would stun you as well, but we want you awake and alert when the administrators arrive."
This seemed to reawaken Scott to the current predicament. And his voice was filled with
fear when he said, "Administrators?"
Blake echoed this inquiry though his voice only held curiosity. "Administrators?"
Karen offered an explanation. "Apparently, Filter Missions were a well-kept secret of Command's. Law enforcement, the government, not even the Galactic Court knew about them."
"Whenever a Filter or Holder was murdered on a Filter Mission, their families were told that their loved ones were involved in an accident of some sort." Audrey continued.
"How did you find out?" Scott asked.
"We overheard your officers discussing it." Jon said.
"And I'm sorry if we worried you when we told you that Simon and all of the other Filters had been sent on their FMs, Captain." Audrey said. "But with Scott and the officers here, we couldn't tell you what was really going on."
"Captain?" Simon began. "Where are Ed and Kenny?"
There was no easy way to break this news, so Blake came right out and said it. "They were filtered."
"No." Simon said quietly. "No, it can't be."
Audrey looked close to tears. "How did it happen?"
"They sacrificed themselves for the rest of us." Blake said, recalling all that had happened in that room downstairs. "They gave themselves up to Command."
Now that the fight against the officers was over with, Blake, Glen, and Lisa had time to let the information sink in. The crew of the Odyssey had spent two weeks together; longer than most other missions, which were generally a week long at the most—and usually even less than that.
But it was not just the amount of time that they had spent together; they had also worked
together in stopping the Filter Missions.
Audrey was shedding tears now, and Blake could feel his own eyes growing misty. Lisa seemed to be in shock now that she had time to process the news, and when Glen spoke, his voice cracked slightly.
"They were both overcoming the things that they were being filtered for." He said quietly. "Ed was defeating his anxiety—and Kenny…that boy was on his way to reforming from his old ways. He was only sixteen!"
Despite all of their arguing and disagreements, Blake knew that there not had been any real enmity between Glen and Kenny. Of late, most of their arguments were mere banter.
"Blake," came Jon's voice from the left, "I'm sorry about your two crew members, mate. I met both of them." He glared at Scott. "Neither of them deserved to be filtered."
Another craft was heard approaching and everyone looked up. A ship slightly smaller than the Odyssey, yet painted in alternating bands of blue and black was approaching. A ship of the Galactic Court.
They landed and two men and two women, all in uniform, emerged.
"Scott Dufrey?" One of the administrators prompted.
"He's right here." Jon answered, grabbing Scott roughly by the arm and leading him to the new arrivals.
"Mr. Dufrey, you're charged with being an accomplice to murder through knowingly sending people on Filter Missions." The Court administrator said as he handcuffed Scott.
"The Odyssey was the only Filter Mission that I knew about." Scott argued, abandoning
his right to remain silent. "And it wasn't destroyed."
"That's true, Mr. Dufrey." Blake agreed. "But you did allow the murder of two of my
crew members, and I seem to recall hearing you threaten to kill all of us."
"Time is the old justice that examines all such offenders." Simon quoted as Scott was loaded into the ship.
Blake approached the other three Court administrators and said, "On Neptune, there's a broken-down Command ship called the Scorpio. With the ship, is Commander Cory Nichols. He was sent to destroy the Filter ships."
"We'll send a craft after him." One of the women replied. "What about the officers?"
"They did have knowledge of the Filter Ships, but they mostly followed the commands of Mr. Dufrey."
She nodded. "We'll sort them out once they come to."
"There's one officer in a small control room at the back of the second floor." Blake said. "A younger fellow. He didn't do anything wrong."
"We'll see to it that he's not charged."
Two of the Court administrators remained behind to wait for the officers to come around, while the other two flew Scott to the Galactic Court. In the meantime, the captains and crews decided to take their ships back to their stations by the launch strip.
Blake and his crew boarded the Odyssey, and he was just about to close the door, when a familiar voice said, "Hey! Wait for us!"
Unable to believe his ears, Blake stepped outside the door.
"You can't leave without us." Kenny said as he drew closer.
"Unless you're trying to leave us behind." Ed added.
"Never." Blake said with a wide smile. "I'm just so glad that you two are alive;
Mr. Dufrey said that you would have been filtered immediately. How did you get away?"
"I still had the laser stunner from earlier, remember?" Kenny said. "When they stopped at the door to the cage room to gain access, they had to turn around, so I stunned both of them."
"Then we began making our way out here but we were met with officers every step of the way." Ed explained. He glanced around at the stunned officers and asked, "Is this all of them?"
"I think so." Blake said. "And the Galactic Court took Mr. Dufrey into custody."
"Good." Kenny said fervently.
"Well, get on board you two." Blake said cheerfully.
Ed and Kenny made their way inside and were met with surprise, and then exuberance, by the other four.
"It gives me wonder great as my content to see you here before me." Simon quoted cheerfully.
"I'm glad you're alive, kid." Glen said to Kenny.
"You are?" Kenny asked.
"If you're not around to annoy me, who else is going to do it?"
"Always happy to be of service."
"Shall I take us to the parking stations now, sir?" Simon asked.
"Maybe I should do it." Kenny said with a slight smirk.
"I think Simon can handle it." Blake said. He looked at his pilot and added, "Let's fly."
It was a short trip from the front of Command to the parking stations in the back, but it
was the smoothest flight that they had had yet with Simon as their pilot.
Ed and Kenny had not been present when Simon demonstrated his newfound aeronautic
skills. And both of them seemed to be genuinely impressed.
"What did they do to Simon?" Kenny asked. "Did Command transplant his brain or something?"
"You should have seen him earlier." Glen said. "That was really impressive."
"How did you improve your flying techniques anyhow?" Blake asked Simon.
"Earlier, when the officers invaded the ships, before I was knocked out, one of the officers was explaining to the other one how to fly the Odyssey." Simon explained. "I paid extra attention to what was being said and came up with ways to remember all of it.
"After we had defeated all of the officers out here, we began devising the plan of pretending that the Filter Missions were being completed with the Filters still onboard.
"I was worried about my flying skills, and afraid that I may cause more trouble than anything when it was my turn to fly in. So before the Holders left the ships, Robert—Dragon Flight's pilot—offered to help me. He also gave me some tips on how to perform those more strategic maneuvers that I had to use earlier."
Simon's flying may have improved, but his landing still needed some work. It was not as rough as their previous landings had been, but to say that it was smooth would be putting it lightly.
He braked a little too late so that they were still going fairly fast when they hit the ground. The Odyssey rebounded and then skidded a few feet. It came to rest at the station just
before its own. Simon brought them up a few feet and then flew over to the Odyssey's station
The crew filed out, and walked in through the back of Command.
The inside of the building looked as if a tornado had hit it. Dusk was setting in now, but since the Command building currently lacked a roof and most of its walls, the last rays of sunlight were issuing in.
Other crews were walking through the building as well. Dragon Flight's crew came in behind Blake and the rest. Eclipse was just ahead of them, and those from Brahe were emerging from a hallway to their right.
They went through to the front of the building and a few officers were beginning to come around. They walked by Scott's office with the shattered window, where two weeks ago, Blake had unknowingly accepted a Filter Mission.
Outside, more members of the Galactic Court had arrived and although they were not arresting any of them yet, each of them was questioning one of the officers.
From behind Blake, the young officer that had been frozen in the control room emerged. He approached Blake and asked, "What's going on?"
"The FMs were stopped and Mr. Dufrey was taken into custody." Blake answered. "And thanks for your help earlier, Officer…?"
"Curtis. But call me Sam."
"I'm sorry I stunned you, but I couldn't take any chances."
"That's alright. So what happens now? Will the Galactic Court shut down Command?"
"No, they can't. There are still standard missions that need to be completed. Hundreds of those missions are launched every day."
"With Mr. Dufrey gone, Command's going to need a new supervisor." Sam gave Blake
a significant look and walked off.
"It should be you." Glen said from behind him.
Blake turned around. "I should take Mr. Dufrey's place?"
"Yes. Or Commander Nichols'."
"Given a choice between the two, I would take Mr. Dufrey's post. But I don't know…"
"Who else?" Glen asked him. "You're an excellent captain, you know how Command operates, and you won't try to Filter anyone. Besides if it weren't for you, the FMs would have been completed."
Blake still was not exactly sure that he was the best suited for this job. But he supposed that he could take over Scott's position temporarily, until they found someone else.
As if reading Blake's thoughts Glen said, "And I don't mean as a seasonal position either."
"I'll think about it." Blake answered.
Only then, a Court administrator approached Blake and did not give him any other choice.
"Captain Harris." She said. "I understand that you're the best candidate to take Mr. Dufrey's place."
"Where did you hear this?" Blake asked.
"Officer Curtis made the suggestion, and your crew and others confirmed it."
Before Blake could say anything the Galactic Court administrator said, "We'll transmit the paperwork to your office for you to sign."
She walked away and, just like that, Blake was Command's new supervisor.
His crew, Sam, and other Filter crew members were conversing nearby, and Blake
"You're all conspiring against me." He said with a smile. "When did I ever say that I wanted to be the supervisor?"
"Never." Simon said. "But you're still the best candidate."
"But I'm a captain." Blake pointed out. "I'll be needed on missions from time to time. Who's the supervisor while I'm away?"
"You can find anyone who's qualified to fill in for you." Sam put in.
"And besides," Kenny began, "we couldn't think of anyone else that we'd rather be working for."
Blake sat at his desk, in what used to be Scott's office, and uploaded a holochip into the viewer.
It was only three days since the fleet of Filter ships rebelled against Command and the
building was undergoing reconstruction. The window in Blake's office had been repaired first so that he could begin using it. The roof and other parts of the building were still undergoing constant renovations.
There was a knock on his door.
"Come in." Blake said.
The door opened and Karen came through. Blake smiled and indicated the chair across
from him. "Have a seat."
As he turned on the viewer Blake said, "Most of your crew is the same as those who were on Eclipse's FM. But Kyle and Evan are at the Galactic Court testifying against Mr. Dufrey."
He tapped the viewer again and a dossier of a woman with short blond hair and blue eyes appeared.
"This is Elizabeth Parker. She'll be filling in as your pilot. Ms. Parker is well-experienced in piloting and has been at her post for five years." Blake explained. He tapped the viewer and a dossier came up of a man with short-cropped brown hair.
"And filling in as your navigator is Peter Winifred; as it says in the dossier, he also has knowledge of the basic mechanisms of the crafts."
"Extra mechanics are always handy, you know…in case we need to arm the ship with illegal weaponry." Karen said lightly.
Blake laughed. "Hopefully we never have to do that again."
He ejected the holochip and put it in a small pouch.
"You're delivering supplies to the laboratory on Saturn. The packages are already loaded in the cargo hold." Blake handed over the pouch and the coordinate card. "Have a safe trip. Eclipse and your crew are waiting at the launch strip."
"Thank you, Captain Harris." Karen said.
"Why so formal?" He asked her. "We're both captains."
"Yes, but you're also the Command supervisor."
"I'm a captain first. Call me Blake."
"What about Jon?" Karen asked. "Does he still want us to call him by his first name, or
is he Commander Carwell now?"
Jon had been elected to take over Cory Nichols's post.
"He's still Jon. I called him Commander Carwell earlier and based on his reaction, you would have thought that I threw a sun sphere at him. He still captains the Dragon though. The Scorpio is nearly complete in its repairs, but Jon had the obliterator removed. Like he said, the Scorpio won't be needed to destroy Filter ships anymore."
Karen stood. "I better get going. I'll see you in a couple of days, Blake."
She left and Blake glanced up at the clock. Eleven-hundred hours; only thirty minutes before the Odyssey's next launch.
In Scott's time, the ships and crew members were assigned to captains, and they had to accept the assignments. The captains were allowed to request certain crew members, but these requests were hardly—if ever—followed through. And if a crew member was assigned to a mission that he or she did not want, he or she had to take it anyway.
These were the three changes that Blake had made in Command. He let the captains select their ships, and if they had any requests for specific crew members, the captains were allowed the input. And crew members had the option of accepting a mission or declining it.
The captains who had been on Filter Missions during the past two weeks wanted the same ships and crews that they had been with. Similarly, the crew members were happy to accept the same captains and crafts.
Recently some crew members from the FMs were absent on days that their captains were launched on a mission due to Scott Dufrey's trial at the Galactic Court; just as was the case today
with Kyle and Evan. Many others throughout the week had been summoned to testify against
Scott as well, and each of them was eager to bring Scott to justice.
In fact, Kenny and Audrey had been at the Galactic Court yesterday to give their testimony. Kenny had said that it was a nice switch to not be the one who was being tried for once.
Next week was Cory Nichols's trial, and again, people would be summoned to testify there as well.
Blake contacted the Scorpio Station via the communicator on his desk, and Jon's face appeared. "Blake. What can I do for you, mate?"
"I have to leave for a mission. Do you think that you could cover for me?"
When Jon arrived, Blake showed him the holochips and coordinate cards for the rest of that day's missions. Though as Blake and his crew were only going to Mars, they should not be gone much longer than two hours.
Blake left for the launch strip. The Odyssey was parked there, but there was still twenty minutes until launch time, so he figured that his crew had not arrived yet.
Like everyone else, Blake wanted to stay with the crew and the ship that he had been with on the Filter Mission. To his gratification, his crew wanted to stick with him and the Odyssey as well.
Blake boarded the ship to make sure that everything was ready for the launch, and saw that Simon and Kenny were already present. They were seated at the controls discussing something, and stopped to greet Blake when he entered.
As he made his way to the cargo hold, Blake heard Kenny say, "The best way to do it, is
to pull the lever here while you bring the ship down. That keeps it steady. Then you can hit the
brake, and the ship will make a smooth landing."
It was a moment later when Blake heard Kenny exclaim, "Do you have to have a Shakespeare quote for everything?"
Blake smiled to himself as he checked the two parcels that they needed to deliver. Kenny was a lot calmer now than the rebellious, stubborn, troublemaker that he had been a fortnight ago. His defensive, irritable attitude still shown through from time to time however, but Blake and the others did not begrudge it. Besides, Kenny without attitude, was not Kenny.
Apparently, Ed had been below deck. He emerged up the stairs just as Blake left the cargo hold.
"Everything below is in working order, Captain." Ed reported.
"Did you check the parcels for a default system?"
Blake smiled. "There's nothing in those parcels that's not supposed to be there."
Simon turned to them as they entered the control deck and said lightly, "If we crash upon landing, it's Kenny's fault."
"How is it my fault?" Kenny asked in that characteristically defensive manner.
"You were showing me how to land, weren't you?"
"Is that why you asked me to show you?" Kenny asked, this was said in good humor. "So that if we crash, you can blame me for it?"
"I would appreciate it if we stopped talking about crashing altogether." Ed chimed in.
Like Kenny, Ed had also calmed down quite a bit since their initial launch two weeks
ago. He was still anxious from time to time, but he was never even half as anxious as he used to be.
Audrey and Lisa arrived then and greeted the others; Glen was not too far behind.
Lisa went straight to her station to check on the technical aspects before takeoff. Blake sent Kenny up to his station to make sure that the cameras and radars were in proper working order. Audrey took her post at the monitor, and Glen took his at the IPS.
Blake handed the coordinate card to Glen who said, "If this card can't locate the coordinates, I'm not launching until I know why."
Through the comm system, Kenny laughed. "And I thought Ed was the nervous one."
"Of course, we could always go to the black hole anyway and shove Kenny in." Glen added.
"But then you would be depriving everyone of my company." Kenny said lightly.
"That's a risk that I'm willing to take."
Blake took his seat and asked everyone for confirmation that everything at their posts was operable. With everything affirmed, Blake said, "Simon, we're ready when you are."
"Now sits the wind fair," Simon quoted, "and we will aboard."
And with that, he lifted the Odyssey into the air as smooth as could be, and gracefully flew them toward their destination.