1.9 Poison Planet

90 21 3

Margo silently hoped to never see a Torth again. She shouldn't need to shoot anyone, or triage wounded aliens; not with Alex on their side. Never mind what Thomas said.

Their ship sped up. She backed away from Thomas, moving out of his range, not wanting him to sense her suspicions. They only had one pilot. Maybe he was in pain, and pessimistic, but they had no choice but to trust him.

"Just remember," Thomas said in a resentful mutter, "I recommended a quick death."

Maybe he wasn't hurling them towards the sun. Good.

Warships began to move, reconfiguring in an ominous way. Margo braced herself and tried to pretend the tunnel of enemy ships was no worse than a snowy road. Alex would get them through it.

And he did; at least, at first. Liquid fire and light splashed against an invisible shield. The barrage became so intense, Margo had to squint against the fireworks. It was eerily quiet, and their ship remained steady, so the explosions seemed like harmless illusions.

But one glance at Alex told her that he was putting all of his focus into fending off the attack. His jaw was set. Encased in armor from head to foot, with his shoulders rigid, he looked unmovable.

It was hard to believe he'd forged that whole suit of armor in mere minutes. If Margo hadn't watched him reshape the torn-up metal, she would have guessed that all he could do was wreck things.

Maybe that was because Alex himself seemed to think he was nothing but a talentless oaf. Everyone seemed to think that—including the Torth Empire. Including Thomas.

Margo remembered the giant-sized couches and tables in the Dovanack mansion, and figured they were all underestimating Alex. He had built those without help; probably without instructions. His armor was just as clever. It might be a little bit uneven, and it was plainly utilitarian, but it would surely throw the Torth Empire a new challenge.

"What can we expect on the Torth Homeworld?" Kessa asked.

"I expect the Torth to pummel Alex for as long as possible," Thomas said, "to exhaust his powers, or his attention. Or both. They'll look for a way to distract him. If his attention wavers even for a half-second, that could be enough to doom us."

"We won't give them that chance," Cherise said.

"The Torth will present Alex with bad choices to make," Thomas went on. "Dilemmas which cause him to think, which will make him pause, which will lead to him making mistakes. A mistake can get him killed. Then we'll all be easy pickings."

Margo glanced at Alex. He didn't seem to be mentally present, so maybe he couldn't hear the conversation, but even so, she wished Thomas would stop outlining everything that could go wrong. Alex had enough to worry about.

"Maybe they'll send kamikaze slaves at him," Thomas said.

"What is kamikaze?" Kessa cocked her head, wanting a definition.

"Slaves forced to fight." Margo adjusted her blaster glove. "We'll show them these," she said, wiggling her gloved fingers. "Once they see ummins wearing blaster gloves, they'll abandon the Torth and join us." At least, she hoped so.

Weptolyso and Kessa exchanged a troubled glance. They seemed to have doubts.

Alex's grim look of focus intensified. Ships blew backwards and slammed into each other, shedding parts and rippling with explosions. It was impossible to see far ahead with all the debris. But a tunnel swept open for their ship, either controlled by Alex or opening in invitation from the Torth.

"I'm searching for more sabotage programs," Thomas said, scrolling through long blocks of geometric Torth symbol-writing. "I'll bet she set up a hack to shut down our life support at an inopportune moment."

Nowhere Nation [#SFF] Updates every 5 days [#Galactic]Read this story for FREE!