Alien Victory

an excerpt



Chapter One

"This ship is going to be attacked."

Mike Carlson and Girn huddled in the cargo hold of Prison Ship 437 headed to planet 6743-OA, an uninhabited world their jailers hoped would be worse than living in the most lurid vision of hell.

They'd taken refuge in the darkest corner of the gloomiest aisle. Innumerable boxes in a wide variety of sizes surrounded them. It was one of the few areas in the vessel Mike knew had no surveillance system. Guards patrolled only once a night. Mike realized the lack of precautions taken was because their guards didn't care if all the goods being transported were stolen or ruined. Mike figured the guards would prefer them all to just die. Mike was determined not to let that happen.

It was early morning, although the amount of light on the grim, gray walls of the prison never varied, no matter what time it was.

"Are you sure?" Mike asked.

Girn had arrived with a delegation from the Senate, the ruling body in the star systems of Hrrrm. The Senate had decreed that all gay people were to be exiled to a prison planet. Billions were to be rounded up.

Girn was a spy for this first group of exiles. His eyes peered into each shadow of darkness. Even though their communicators said they were the only two in this room, Girn spasmed like an amphetamine addict, seconds away from collapsing into a twitching heap on the floor.

He said, "I shouldn't be here. If they catch me, they'll execute me on the spot. Even I didn't know about this surprise inspection. We were lucky to find a way to meet."

"How else were you going to let me know about the decree?"

"I don't know. I didn't think I could. Then this came up. I should go. It's too dangerous."

Visits by official delegations or plain old harassment inspections happened at random intervals. Their prison ship was one of the slowest of interstellar vehicles. Almost any inter-planetary vessel, no matter the size, could catch up to it. It was a prison transport, not a battleship. It was in need of repairs, and given to cranky behavior that Mike compared to glitches in the simplest electronic devices on Earth. He'd thought these people, advanced as they were, would have been able to solve electronic anomalies. They hadn't. Mike wasn't sure whether or not he was comforted by the universal ability of technology to fuck with its owners.

Each delegation that stopped at the ship was required to have representatives from all the major factions in the Senate. Mike figured they didn't want anyone horning in on their possible profits.

Or risk any other faction capturing him.

Grin said, "Yes, I'm sure. You know how you were attacked on the way to Hrrrm?"

"Yeah."

"Same thing here."

"I thought we had better protections on this trip."

"And the people who want to kill or kidnap you are more prepared as well."

"Kidnap or kill?"

"If they can't get you, this ship is to be blown to smithereens. You will be in space eternal, maybe protected for a few seconds by that aura you have, but then you will die, from lack of oxygen if nothing else."

Mike knew he was one of the most prized possessions in the galaxy. Or rather the chip implanted behind his left ear was. He and it were kind of a package deal. A frontal attack on Mike couldn't work. This was due to a serendipitous fluke of a combination of his physiology along with a device created by Vov, the greatest mad scientist/weapons maker in Hrrrm's part of the galaxy. Vov had taken refuge on Earth, where Joe, Mike's husband, had managed to defeat and kill him, but the technology the scientist created was now desired by all the factions of Hrrrm.

At least Vov had created a technological device that had no glitches. The factions wanted the device, and they wanted the technology, and they wanted Mike, and if all else failed, they wanted him dead.

Mike glanced around at the shadow-infested interior. Boxes and crates were stacked to the vast ceiling and stretched to the far distance. He checked his communicator, which again told him there was no one else in this room.

Mike asked, "When's the attack supposed to happen?"

"I'm not sure."

"Who's attacking?"

"The Sky Pirates of Msssk."

Mike muttered, "Them again."

Girn was part of a spy network that Mike and Joe had developed. Mike knew there were factions on their side, but they hadn't been enough to stop the Religionists, who wanted to exterminate all gay people but had settled on exile as a compromise.

They'd been on their way on Prison Ship 437 for over a month. Joe had explained to Mike that they were going in the exact opposite direction from Earth, perhaps fifty thousand light years from home.

In the dark nights when Joe was asleep next to him, and Mike lay worrying, mostly he wished, as Bilbo so often did in The Hobbit, that he was home, in Mike's case in his warm, cozy apartment with the man he loved next to him.

"Should we report it to Captain Zmond?" Mike asked.

"If we tell anybody, they'll know the information most likely came from someone in the delegation." He drew a deep breath. His hands twitched. "Zmond is an incompetent blowhard especially chosen for this mission. He was the one most likely to screw it up. The guard ships around you will have to be enough."

"If we told someone else, could they send help?"

"Who else?"

The question stumped Mike. He had no answer. He also had no idea if being taken by the Sky Pirates would be better or worse than being shipped to this prison. He did know that the Sky Pirates had tried to capture and kill him before. He assumed the pirates would have fewer restraints on their treatment of him than the central government. At least on the ship, by law, there were ways they had to be treated.

Girn interrupted his thoughts. "They've waited until you're more than halfway there. So even if you know someone to contact, any help wouldn't get here in time."

"Maybe several factions planned this?"

"Possibly. Unfortunately, your only savior is likely to be Bex. He's with this delegation that Girn arrived with."

Bex, the second richest man in the galaxy, was Mike's evil nemesis. Bex was quite capable of sending someone out into space eternal on a whim. Mike had learned to fear even Bex's whims.

"Why is he here?"

"I don't know."

"Is he part of the attack?"

"Not that I know of."

They both looked at their communicators, which were about half the size of an iPod. The language was that of Hrrrm, which Mike could both speak and read. Mike no longer found it difficult to hear the speech of Hrrrm translated in his mind into English idioms. He had spent hours learning the language with Joe before he left Earth, and on the months-long journey from Earth to Hrrrm.

Mike had also gotten used to the mostly monosyllabic names. Actually they were nicknames, as the real names were strings of numbers and designations, and had little to do with warmth and babies and naming newborns. Joe's whole official name was Police Detective Joe from the Seventh Directorate of Violence Control, sub-category twenty-six, unmated, reared in concept house 152-86, Implanted with series G through R anti-crime, series A to XX intelligence. That is, until they returned from Earth when his career as a cop was over and most of his implants were removed.

Girn wrung his hands. "Don't trust any of these people. Bex may be the direct face of your enemy, but this Dyn who showed up with Bex scares me more."

Girn's communicator beeped.

"Is that the attack?" Mike asked.

Girn checked the readout and gave a sigh of relief. "They're calling the delegates to breakfast." He looked from his screen to Mike. "Don't try to contact me anymore this trip. I'll bring news or try to send someone. The last time I met with Bex, I saw suspicion in his eyes."

Mike nodded. He didn't like to think about what would happen to his spies. Him, they couldn't hurt. People working with and for him could suffer and die.

Girn turned without another word and hurried away.

Mike wanted to find Joe and tell him the news, but his own communicator gave a soft beep. It was a summons to meet with Bex.