Lockdown

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Rylan lounged in the pilot seat and stared out the windshield. As he waited for select members of the crew to arrive, his fingers tapped the console. After a moment's reflection, he withdrew the small data crystal from his pocket and placed it in front of the light source. The illumination penetrated the tiny and translucent stone rod, letting its blue tint shine.

The door opened, and Darvan knocked on the wall. "Boss everyone's on board."

With a nod, Rylan clenched his fingers around the gem and spun to face the gigantic man. "Excellent, I'll come down shortly. But I need you to finish the emergency protocols."

"You don't want me there for the meeting?" Darvan asked as he leaned against the doorframe.

"No," Rylan answered as he stashed the crystal in his pocket. "You know the plan well enough, and besides, I'm doing everything I can to keep you off the Captain's radar."

With a chuckle, Darvan muttered, "You appear competent in that regard."

"Has anyone bothered you while you've been working?"

The sizeable man shook his head.

"Good," Rylan sighed and stared at the ceiling. "We're running out of time to finish our preparations. If we are still on this ship, the moment we break the atmosphere back home, none of us are getting away."

"I'll be finished making the required updates tonight," the living mountain answered.

"That's the best piece of news I've gotten in a long while." Rylan pointed at a crystal next to the door. "But first deliver that crystal to Annabelle's quarters."

Darvan jerked his thumb back as he asked, "What do you want me to tell everyone down there?"

Rylan stared at the massive man and bit his upper lip, sucking in a lungful of air. "Tell them I'll be down in a bit," Rylan replied as he turned to stare out the windshield.

"Roger that, boss," Darvan said as he left.

As the door slid closed, a hand caught it and pulled it open. A lithe figure walked through the opening, muttering, "Why am I not surprised that you're wallowing in self-pity?"

Rylan suppressed a chuckle, saying, "That's not what's happening, Annabelle." He lifted a tool from the console, adding, "And you know it."

Annabelle sighed and clenched her fists. "Then what are you doing in here while everyone is downstairs waiting on you?"

Rylan spun the chair around and flashed a broad smile at Annabelle. "You realize that I'm not a complete idiot, right?"

"From what evidence should I draw that conclusion?"

"From the moment the Captain restricted you to your quarters, my mind has been laying the groundwork for this plan."

"And what strategy is that?" Annabelle demanded as she stomped her foot.

Rylan rose and crossed the room and draped an arm around her shoulders. "I need you to trust me."

"I do trust you," Annabelle muttered. "But telling me that everything's in hand, is not a valid response. Not to mention your blasé attitude regarding this meeting that you orchestrated."

Rylan grabbed her wrist and guided her to the cargo hold of the shuttle. "Everything is going according to plan."

"I told you that's not enough for me now."

The pair entered the chamber, and Rylan whispered, "Sit down and listen."

Annabelle's smoldering eyes locked upon Rylan's for a moment. Her fists turned white as she stormed off towards a free seat.

Rylan took a deep breath and leaned against the bulkhead. "We all understand that more than half of this tub's crew have become hostile."

An array of murmurs erupted from the crew assembled before him.

Rylan raised his hands, and silence filled the shuttle. "We also know that the Captain isn't immune to this."

"What is it you believe I am not resistant to?" The Captain asked. Everyone went silent and backed away, creating a path. The Captain strolled through the throng, stopping in front of Rylan. "What are you all talking about?"

Rylan lifted his hands and grinned. "We're leading off about your abrupt change in attitude."

The Captain nodded and circled Rylan as he addressed everyone. "Each of you will report to your quarters for the rest of this trip."

"That's not fair," Annabelle bellowed as she stormed towards the Captain.

"That is irrelevant," the Captain replied as he continued his circuit around Rylan. "Those are my orders. You can either obey and have nothing to worry about, or the security officers outside the ship can escort you there."

"Since when did we have those?" Rylan asked.

The Captain beamed at the technician as he paced about him. "From the instant, I started hearing about certain members of the crew gathering."

"And when did congregating become a problem?"

"When topics, like mutiny, are discussed."

Rylan drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Captain, you're wrong, there has never been any talk about a mutiny."

The Captain shoved his face into Rylan's. "You can leave on your own, or my security officers will remove you. If my men have to get involved, I can't guarantee your safety." He spun and scrutinized the gathered throng, "Which option will each of you choose?"

Rylan cleared his throat and stepped around the Captain. "You heard him, everyone head to your quarters." The assembled crew muttered their displeasure, but they nodded and filed out of the shuttle. Rylan glided over to Annabelle and rested his hand on her shoulder. "Trust me and go to your quarters."

She eyed the Captain and bit her lip. After tense moments, she hurried out of the hold.

The Captain walked over, saying, "That order applies equally to you, Rylan."

"I expected as much," the technician replied. "I'm attempting to avoid any violence." Rylan started down the ramp adding, "Don't worry, I am heading straight to my quarters."

"Cederic's presence will ensure you reach your destination," the Captain said as he followed Rylan off the ship.

"He won't have to touch me," Rylan insisted, scampering ahead of the limping man.

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