ESS Endeavour – Brig
Anderson Bell stepped out of his cell and looked directly into Tareen’s eyes. “Who did it Lieutenant? Who is the saboteur and murderer on my ship?”
“I think you’d better see for yourself Captain.” He motioned toward Commander Lin. “Would you both accompany me to my office.”
Bell followed his security officer. Lin was close behind him. They received a few surprised stairs along their way through the narrow corridors. No doubt the crewmembers were eager for news and the site of their Captain walking free must have got them wondering.
Bell simply made eye contact with them and said “As you were.”
They arrived at Tareen’s office and entered quickly. Tareen shut the door and then sat at his computer terminal.
“This is a recording that Commander Murphy made before his death. He had the computer transmit it to a set of coordinates deep in space.”
“Yes, I remember you mentioning it,” Bell said.
“What I now know is that the message was directed toward the future location of Earth’s second colony.”
“Why send a message to there?” Lin asked.
“The colony would theoretically have been established by the time the message arrived.”
“Let’s see it Lieutenant.” Bell was growing impatient.
Tareen pressed the control to play the message. The image of Alan Murphy appeared on the screen. The man looked nervous and tired.
“Sophie, my love, they tell me that you are guaranteed to be given passage on the second Ark ship. If that is true then you should receive this message after you arrive on your new planet. I know you were confused and hurt when I left Earth to take my place as first officer on the first Ark. Especially after fighting so hard for get you and the kids on board. I wanted to explain things to you. I wanted you to understand.
“You see, I was approached by some people. They told me that they could fix the lottery. They could ensure that you get to live out the rest of your life in safety. They promised to do this but they wanted something in return. It isn’t much really – not to safeguard the lives of my family.
“They want me to sabotage this ship. It won’t cause any danger to the crew – it’ll just make our journey a lot slower. We’ll arrive at Xinju hundreds of years later than we should. As you’re hearing this message, I am still in my stasis pod. I’ll still be in my stasis pod long after you die from old age.
“As for why they want me to do this, well it’s quite simple. The man who will be captain of the second Ark wants to be the leader of the first interstellar human colony. He wanted to command the first Ark, but the lottery fell to Anderson Bell instead. Captain Craig didn’t want to settle for second best. He wanted to establish his colony before ours. The only way he could accomplish that was to slow our progress.
“If you ask me, the guy is a little crazy, but I don’t care. I want you to live Sophie. I want our children to live. There is no guarantee that you will be able to come meet me on Xinju. Private corporations are talking about launching expeditions but only the richest of the rich will be able to purchase a spot. This way I guarantee that you will survive. I only wish that we could be together. When I awake at Xinju I will be haunted by the knowledge that you and the kids died centuries ago. It will hurt, but I can live with that. I can’t let you die Sophie.
“After I finish this recording I’ll program the computer to send it once we are en-route. Then I am going down to engineering. I’ll upload a small program into the ship’s computer. Nobody will know that it was me.
“Please don’t hate me Sophie. Please remember me well, knowing that I did this to save you. I love you Sophie. Tell Jason and Fergus that I love them too.
The screen went blank.
Bell stared at the empty monitor for some time. A tear began to form in his eye. He didn’t bother to wipe it away.
“He was my friend,” Anderson said at last. “I should have done more for him. I should have fought to get his family on board this ship.”
“He couldn’t have known,” Lin said. “He though the program that he uploaded would do nothing other than slow the ship. Evidently the people he worked for added an extra program – one to shut off his statis pod.”
“Yes,” Tareen said. “Covering up the evidence. Kill Murphy and the only one who knew about their crime was gone.”
“How callous,” Bell said, his voice tinged with emotion. “How could they value human life so little as to kill a man, over a trivial matter like this. Who could be so proud that they had to go down in history as the first human Colonial Governor?”
“Apparently Captain Alfred Craig.”
“I never liked him.”
“So it seems Captain, that Commander Muphy was responsible for his own murder. Captain Craig and his cohorts are in a distant solar system, and have been dead for hundreds of years. It would appear that there is nobody left to punish.”
Bell wiped a tear from his cheek.
“I need some time alone – an hour or so. Then I would like you both to join me for lunch. We have a lot to discuss.”
“Captain,” Tareen said a little surprised. “After what I did to you, you’re inviting me to lunch?”
“I’ll admit that things will be a little weird between us for a while Lieutenant, but you are still my chief of security and we have a case to close.”
Cameron Boyd entered the mess hall and immediately surveyed the room. He spotted the man he was looking for and walked over to Bell’s table.
“Well well. Look who got let out of prison,” he said grinning. “I’m glad to see that the rumours are true Captain.”
“Yes. And has the rumour mill got as far as revealing the full truth?”
“Not yet Sir,”
“Well I’ll be making an announcement to the crew shortly, but the case is closed. It seemed Murphy was responsible for his own death.”
“Not exactly,” Tareen jumped in. “Suicide implies a deliberate attempt to end one’s life. Murphy uploaded the program that killed him – but he didn’t know that it would happen.”
“Well I’m glad that your name has been cleared Captain. It’s nice to see an answer to our prayers right Commander?” he elbowed Lin’s shoulder playfully. “Although I’m sure these two gentlemen would disagree with us.”
“To each his own Chaplain,” Tareen said.
“Please join us,” Bell invited.
“Oh no, it looks like you have official business to discuss.”
“No,” Tareen stood to his feet. “Our official business is finished. I’m going to write up the paperwork. Please take my seat.” Boyd nodded and sat.
“So when do we break ground on our new colony?”
“Very soon.” Bell said. “Doctor Banks and her team are down on the planet surface surveying the second location right now. Their first choice had water contamination issues, but things are looking good for their second choice.”
“What are we going to call the town?” Lin asked.
“Well, I had been thinking of naming it after Murphy. After recent discoveries I’m not sure that’s the best idea any more.”
Boyd spoke up. “I have an idea. Have either of you heard of Auguste Moreau?”
“He was a scientist wasn’t he?” Bell asked.
“He worked on the hyperdrive technology that powers this ship. The man had terminal cancer. He had no family. He knew that he would never have a chance to see Xinju but he worked tirelessly through his final days – abandoning treatment so that he could finish his work. In great pain I might add. He sacrificed his final days so that others – like us – could have hope.”
“I can’t think of a more worthy person to name our city after,” Bell said.
“Neither can I,” Lin agreed.