Carried into Peace

January 25, 2011
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Hot. Dark. Wet. A small red lamp overhead cast an eerie light over the scene. A tall, dark figure stood in the hallway. The door to hydroponics was locked tightly. Two Enforcers lay unconscious next to the bulkhead, firearms untouched, head wounds bleeding profusely. Soundlessly, a masked figure replaced the length of piping he used to club the burly men down. The security camera’s single red light went dark. “Good” he thought to himself, “Part one was a success.” From the depths of his black overcoat he produced a simple plastic rectangle, with a single magnetic strip running down one edge. He slid the silver card into a nondescript slit where a door handle should have been. The thick door slid open obediently. The futuristic portal revealed a room about the size of a pre-war football stadium. The figure walked with authority, striding past the rows of green plants growing from large plastic vats. The UV lights overhead were turned off, casting the room in darkness. He strode to the center of the room, to the water distribution console. Savoring the moment, took out a small syringe. Inside it was a viscous black liquid that seemed to absorb the ambient light, consuming it. “Finally…8 months of planning, and we have won.” He thought to himself. He jabbed the needle into the large rubber tube that distributed water to all of the plants in the room. Checking the console to see that the evil liquid was thoroughly integrated into the water supply, the Agent was satisfied. He knew the Company would be too. Leaving no trace behind, the Agent walked calmly out of the room and off of the Carrier.

Later that morning

Sean McCarrick woke to the sound of metallic clanking and deep groaning of the ship’s rolling. He had gotten used to the sound, it was a kind of lullaby. Not that he knew any. His father died in the War. His mother died giving birth to him. All that he had that was left of her was a small necklace, in the shape of a small key. He didn’t know what it was for, but he knew it was from his mother, and that’s all that mattered. He was raised in the Carrier’s home for children. Some of the old nurses told him stories about the times before the War, of better times. This hulk of a ship was all he knew; those stories might as well have been Fairytales. Sean rose from his thin cot, staring at the studded ceiling, realizing that today was his fifteenth birthday. Today was the day he would be selected. Today he would find out what he would do with the rest of his life! He rushed out of bed, thumping his head on the low ceiling of his compartment for the thousandth time. He woke his bunkmate Davis “Hurry up! Do you want us get stuck with sewage facilitator?” He was also fifteen today. “Yes…As long as I can sleep in…” he groaned.

Twenty minutes later, the two were ready, sprinting for the flight deck. Their stomachs ached! They had to skip breakfast that morning. The two arrived just in time for the Flotilla’s anthem to start playing over the scavenged PA system. Sean could see the other two carriers in the distance, floating on the heavily polluted water about half a mile away. He knew that the fifteen year olds of the two ships would be doing the same thing at this moment. The anthem ended. The Chief climbed onto the ramshackle stage, gripping the pedestal with heavily muscled arms. He slowly read the names of the others that were to be selected. Sean finally heard his name. Nervously, Sean climbed the stairs leading to the uniformed man. He wordlessly handed him a scrap of paper. Too afraid to open it Sean kept walking. “What, you’re not going to open it?” barked the Chief. “Uhhhh……No?” Sean replied in a small voice. “Not my problem kid.” The Chief began reading off names again. Sean looked to find Davis. He spotted him by the starboard side of the Carrier. “What did you get?” Sean asked “Barber! Can you believe it? What’s a stupider job than that?” he snorted. “What about you? Did you get Enforcer?” That was every boy’s dream job. You got to hold guns and look tough. What more could a boy ask for? “I hope so! I haven’t looked yet...” Sean slowly, carefully unrolled the paper, as if he was performing a delicate surgery. “Cultivator.” The most boring, mind-numbing work on the Carrier. Cultivators literally watched plants grow. Sean wordlessly tossed the paper over the edge of the ship. He thoughtfully fingered the small key around his neck. “Don’t worry man, tonight we’ll sneak into the Records Room. It’s easy to change it.” Davis didn’t get the chance to finish his thought. A woman fell to the ground clutching her throat, eyes a deep black.

Sean’s first thoughts were of the rumors about viruses and bacteria. Stories from before the war of disastrous epidemics that swept through populations like a fire. A Team of white clad Healers rushed out onto the flight deck. They wore no protective clothing. Sean knew it couldn’t be a plague then, but what was it? The woman wasn’t moving. Her lead lolled to one side, black eyes staring straight at Sean. He looked away from the haunting orbs, shaken. Before he could say anything, an electronically magnified voice came from behind him. “Prepare to be boarded. We’ve poisoned your food supply. Give us the Key, or more will die. The longer you wait the more you will loose.” Sean and Davis turned to see three prewar battleships with the Company’s logo painted on the side. “You have 24 hours to comply.” Just before the bombs fell, the Company kidnapped hundreds of innocent people to enslave. The Company seemed to know exactly when Armageddon would come, and packed the slave onto their ships for “later use”. They either wanted slaves, or The easily recognizable voice of the Skipper came across the PA system. “We’ll give you nothing, you filthy slavers! All defense personnel to the flight deck!” he snarled. The battleships began to motor up in formation around the Carrier. Sean looked off into the distance to see two burning columns of smoke, and knew it could only be the other two Carriers. Sean and Davis turned and ran as fast as they could, along side the others trying to escape.

They heard gunfire. Lots of it. Sean and Davis managed to make it to make it inside the bridge. A dark fog rolled in covering the flight deck. Flashes of gunfire lit the fog like will-o-the-wisps. The guns ceased. Sean knew that the Company had won. Sean felt a deep sadness; he knew some of those Enforcers. Sean looked around. He saw the small faces of the children looking back in fear. He realized what he had to do. The Key. He finally knew what his only inheritance was for. To save the people of this ship. The last bastion of hope in this cruel world.

Sean walked with the key high in the air. Nothing was on his mind. He only felt what he had to do. The Agent surrounded him jabbing guns in his face. A tall, old man in a business suit wordlessly took the key from Sean. “Our final goal is in sight. Victory is ours.” Sean didn’t know what the Key was for, but he knew that it would keep the Company away. The man produced a small black cube, with a small hole in the top. He slowly inserted the Key into the top. It fit perfectly. The man greedily watched the box fall open. Nothing. There was nothing. The man let out an enraged scream and pitched the box overboard. I looked at his feet and saw a small blue orb. I reached for it, instinctively knowing it would stop the Company. I touched it, a flash of light, and then…blackness.

Sean was dead. But he died heroically, in defense of innocent people. The Company was finished, their slaves free. The Key’s final job was fulfilled, saving the last free people on Planet Earth.

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