Arkhaven logo

Their Expired Mistress panel 1

Episode 54

Their Expired Mistress

As Barngate spoke, York covertly studied his companions. Lee Chun was slender and poised despite his soiled clothes and grimy hands. His expression gave nothing away. Around forty, he reminded her of Char Wong. In contrast, Jarrett Shumway was a burly man, with a heavy, sullen face and dark eyes that kept straying towards her suited form. In fairness, she reminded herself, it had probably been months since he'd last seen a woman. He plainly was more than willing to let Barngate do the talking.

Hull glanced at Wexby. “Lieutenant, please escort these men to the launcher. Take Osborn with you.

“Aye aye, sir.” As Wexby sprang to obey, Hull gave Barngate a piercing lookover as the petty officer walked past him. York glanced at the quartermaster chief and his two companions as they dutifully trudged after the Draco's lieutenant. They looked as if they had come straight from the fires of hell, she thought. Lines of strain and fatigue marked their faces. Whatever their roles had been, their lot hadn't been easy. And strangely enough, none of the three men struck her as being Dai Zhani operatives, not even Lee Chun.

Of course, the better the agent, the better he was able to conceal himself in plain sight. Or herself.

“Captain, you know where the others are located?”

The Marine officer nodded. “We'll go find them and bring them back to the launcher, Captain. You should have a clear path to the designated hatch; my men are already there. I assume you don't want an escort.”

“It appears we'll be fine.

Hull paused several times, closely scrutinizing the air ducts in particular as they walked through the corriders and ascended to the top level. There were still no signs of a struggle, or any conflict at all.

Benbow, who had been studying a meter on his device, said, “No sign of any radiation leaks.”

“What about anomalies in the atmosphere?” asked York.

“It's been thoroughly scrubbed, Miss York. The ECS for a ship this size will recycle its entire atmosphere in about four kiloseconds. A single scrub wouldn't remove it all from the air, but it's been weeks. There have been hundreds of cycles, which, of course, is why it's perfectly safe for us to breathe it now.”

“Won't the air quality records be logged?”

“Certainly. And even if the computer records were scrubbed as well, there is the physical evidence that would be detectable in the filters.”

York grimaced and shook her head. “Do you really think anyone capable of planning and successfully executing a mission this lethal would fail to replace the filters? They're almost certainly floating out in space with the corpses.”

“Mm, yes, I suppose that's true,” Benbow admitted ruefully.

Hull led them around a corner, then halted as a pair of plasma burners were leveled at them from the end of the passage. The two Marines looked more than intimidating in their powered battle armor, more like a pair of oversized and heavily armed robots than mere technologically enhanced men.

“Identify yourselves!” one of their voices projected over his helmet speaker.

Hull simply held up his hand and waited as a blue light briefly streamed out from above the Marine's visor to scan it. The captain waited for a moment, then nodded as the two Marines put up their weapons and saluted him with the crash of metal on metal.

“As you were, Marines.” Hull held up his hand to the door switch and the iris valve popped open in immediate response. “Doc, I think you'd best wait here. Miss York, with me, if you please.”

The doctor nodded obediently. She followed Hull through the valve, then jumped, startled, as it slammed shut behind her. “We'll make our way up to the bridge first, I think. Then the compartment in question.”

Hull walked with a light, quick step, picking his way unerringly through the corridors to the central passageway, where he waited for York to catch up.

“You're too fast for me,” she said when she reached his side.

“I've lived in such ships for thirty years,” Hull explained. He flicked his light along the passageway to illuminate the empty walls. “This is a hellish thing, York. A ship was not meant to die like this.”

“Murdered,” she corrected.

“Murdered,” he agreed. “I couldn't even begin to conceive of such a thing when you first came on board the ship. Even now, that I see it, I still can't believe it to be real.”

She nodded. It was one thing to see it through the eyes of logic. It was altogether something else to stand in the empty metal sarcophagus where so many men had died.

Hull came to a ladder and moved up agilely. “This will take us to the bridge,” he called back to her. When York reached the top, he was still there, waiting for her. “The number two lander was launched,” he said noncommittally. He flicked the beam into the empty lander bubble.


A MIND PROGRAMMED runs every Saturday and Sunday on Arktoons.

Their Expired Mistress panel 3
A Mind Programmed series cover
Their Expired Mistress episode cover
39K views1.8K likes
14 comments

A Mind Programmed

Created by
author avatar
Vox Day
The Greater Terran Ascendancy finds itself facing a historic crisis when the Shiva-class cruiser ATSV Rigel goes missing during a routine patrol through the Kantillon sector. Fortunately, the Ascendancy Intelligence Directorate's top operative, Daniela York, is on the scene.
Their Expired Mistress episode cover
Their Expired MistressEpisode #54
The Abyss Without a Surge episode cover
The Abyss Without a SurgeEpisode #53
Marines First episode cover
Marines FirstEpisode #52
Boarding Party episode cover
Boarding PartyEpisode #51
An Almost Preternatural Calm episode cover
An Almost Preternatural CalmEpisode #50
Expendable Tools episode cover
Expendable ToolsEpisode #49
A Statistically Anticipated Probability episode cover
A Statistically Anticipated ProbabilityEpisode #48
Just Crystal episode cover
Just CrystalEpisode #47
Three Ways to Hide episode cover
Three Ways to HideEpisode #46
Against the Tide episode cover
Against the TideEpisode #45
A Planet-Sized Trap episode cover
A Planet-Sized TrapEpisode #44
Suspicion, Bordering on Paranoia episode cover
Suspicion, Bordering on ParanoiaEpisode #43
A Game of Wits episode cover
A Game of WitsEpisode #42
Galactic Stakes episode cover
Galactic StakesEpisode #41
The Devil's Advocate episode cover
The Devil's AdvocateEpisode #40
Escalated Contest episode cover
Escalated ContestEpisode #39
Utmost Confidence episode cover
Utmost ConfidenceEpisode #38
A Matter of Survival episode cover
A Matter of SurvivalEpisode #37
The Working Theory episode cover
The Working TheoryEpisode #36
Penetrating Orbit episode cover
Penetrating OrbitEpisode #35
A Lifeless Star episode cover
A Lifeless StarEpisode #34
The Great Stream of History episode cover
The Great Stream of HistoryEpisode #33
A Drastic Action episode cover
A Drastic ActionEpisode #32
Mirror Images episode cover
Mirror ImagesEpisode #31
A Very Resourceful Girl episode cover
A Very Resourceful GirlEpisode #30
Knowledge of the Unknown episode cover
Knowledge of the UnknownEpisode #29
The Obvious Conclusion episode cover
The Obvious ConclusionEpisode #28
A Sort of Madness episode cover
A Sort of MadnessEpisode #27
No Biological Elements episode cover
No Biological ElementsEpisode #26
Algorithms of Central Importance episode cover
Algorithms of Central ImportanceEpisode #25
Medical Emergency episode cover
Medical EmergencyEpisode #24
The Instinct to Pry episode cover
The Instinct to PryEpisode #23
House Dai Zhan episode cover
House Dai ZhanEpisode #22
A World in Miniature episode cover
A World in MiniatureEpisode #21
She Can Hold Her Own episode cover
She Can Hold Her OwnEpisode #20
The Next Step in Evolution episode cover
The Next Step in EvolutionEpisode #19
Every Facility and All Aid episode cover
Every Facility and All AidEpisode #18
The Technology of Space episode cover
The Technology of SpaceEpisode #17
Top Priority Alert episode cover
Top Priority AlertEpisode #16
Homo Posthomo episode cover
Homo PosthomoEpisode #15
The Spy-Master episode cover
The Spy-MasterEpisode #14
That Damned Violet Sun episode cover
That Damned Violet SunEpisode #13
Deformed By An Evil Star episode cover
Deformed By An Evil StarEpisode #12
Sabotage in Zero Seven Zero Two episode cover
Sabotage in Zero Seven Zero TwoEpisode #11
The Causative Factor episode cover
The Causative FactorEpisode #10
A Mirror of the Mind episode cover
A Mirror of the MindEpisode #9
The Primary Pieces episode cover
The Primary PiecesEpisode #8
A Message to Director Karsh episode cover
A Message to Director KarshEpisode #7
Highest Priority episode cover
Highest PriorityEpisode #6
First Contact episode cover
First ContactEpisode #5
Sacred Meditations episode cover
Sacred MeditationsEpisode #4
Somewhat of a Predicament episode cover
Somewhat of a PredicamentEpisode #3
Restricted Knowledge episode cover
Restricted KnowledgeEpisode #2
Last Minute Passage episode cover
Last Minute PassageEpisode #1
,
List icon
Comment icon
Prev icon
Next icon
Fullscreen icon