"Island Command, I'm on the ship. Transport was a success."

Asya peered around the dimly lit ship, holding her Light gun out in front of her, senses heightened. She had no idea what she was walking into.

"Copy that, Daimon." A voice came through her ear piece. "You have exactly 30 minutes to find the crew and meet back at your current location for extraction. Good luck." A small click told Asya there was no point in responding; she was on her own. She looked at her watch and saw the timer was set automatically for 30 minutes. She needed to work fast.

Spotting a computer console on the side of the hallway, the R.A.S. Agent slung her Light gun over her shoulder and slid the computer's keyboard out of its slot in the wall.

"Let's see, ship schematics," Asya muttered to herself, searching through the computer. "And search for life forms," she said once the plans were pulled up.

As the computer scanned the ship for signs of life, Asya, getting her Light gun into a more easily accessible position, wandered a few feet down the hall. The Island had gotten a distress call from the ship not two minutes before she had arrived on site, but based on what Asya had seen so far, there was no need for distress. As far as she could see, the ship was empty, and no one seemed in distress.

Heading back to the computer, Asya stopped at a small porthole. She glanced through it. The black of space and scattering of stars were always visible from the Island, but it was different being on a ship. Asya felt surrounded by the emptiness.

A beep from the computer jerked Asya back to her mission, telling her that the scan had finished. She quickly went back to the computer to see where all the people were.

There were three separate readings. One dot she recognized as herself, the only person, the only dot, in the vicinity.

The second reading had two dots. Examining the map closer, Asya saw that those two signs of life were coming from the helm of the ship, where the captain likely would be. Asya guessed that's where the distress call had come from.

The final reading signifying life read from a lower deck of the ship, where the cargo would be kept. There were four dots there. Asya gave a silent sigh of relief as she saw the six dots on the screen. The Island had told here there were six crew members registered to this ship that she had to get out. No one had died in whatever distressing event had occurred.

Asya checked her timer. She had 27 minutes left to find everyone and get back to where she was. She swiped a copy of the map and life forms from the computer to the mobile display that was hooked on her belt, and then Asya cautiously, but still keeping a brisk pace, headed toward the helm. It was the closest of the two locations and Asya would hopefully be able to confer with the captain once she got there about the best way to get everyone off. And ask what happened that was so distressing.

Keeping a constant eye on the map and the timer, Asya reached the door leading into the helm with 24 and a half minutes left to go. She knocked, not wanting to startle a jumpy crew member with a trigger-happy finger. There was no response.

After checking to make sure the life signs were still there, Asya called out. "This is R.A.S. Agent Asya Daimon of Island 99, identification number 613924. Island Command received your distress call approximately eight minutes ago. We have approximately 24 minutes to get everyone off this ship."


Then, Asya head a click. The door had been unlocked.

Proceeding carefully, Asya pushed open the door and slowly entered the helm. It was dimly lit inside, and an absolute mess.

As her eyes adjusted, Asya saw a young man in his mid-20s, not much older than Asya herself, standing in the corner and pointing a pistol at her. Asya calmly raised her Light gun to point at the ceiling. "I'm here to help," she said.

The man gulped, nodded, and slowly lowered his own pistol.

"What's your name?" Asya asked.

"First Mate Benedict Caseo," he replied. "But everyone here calls me Benny."

"Right," Asya said. "Benny, I saw two life forms in this area, I'm assuming the other one is your captain. Where is he?"

Asya saw the young man's jaw clench and look a spot just passed Asya and to the right. Asya turned around, following his gaze. It took every bit of self-control she had not to throw up right on the spot.

There lay a man with a captain's broach pinned on his chest. What looked like a cooling pipe protruded through his chest, likely knocked loose by whatever happened. Asya swallowed hard and turned back around to face Benny.

"What happened here?" Asya asked, trying to keep her voice steady.

"We were attacked, shot at with energy canons," Benny explained, sounding like he could use liquor. "The interior halls, where you came from, are fine. There's not much that can be thrown around out there, and anyway it's more protected. But in here, we didn't see it coming. He was killed at the first hit. After that, I had just enough time to put the emergency shields up. Once they realized their hits weren't doing anything useful, they stopped, but I doubt they've given up."

"Who are 'they'?" Asya asked.

Benny paused for just a second too long before answering. "I don't know," he said, unconvincingly.

Asya let it drop for the moment. "Alright," she said, "we still have," she checked her watch, "21 minutes to get everyone off. But first, I have one more question," she said, as Benny began to move toward the door.

Benny stopped. "What's that?" he asked. Asya detected nervousness in his voice.

"If the captain's dead, and there are only six crew members on this ship, then who is the other life sign in this room?" Asya's grip tightened on her Light gun.

Benny's face, already white as a sheet, somehow became even paler. "I don't know," he said. "The equipment must be malfunctioning after the attack."

"Don't lie to me," Asya said. "We don't have time for lies. I'm going to make this clear to you, and as simple as possible. I don't trust you, we die. You don't trust me, we die. We will miss the extraction and will be stranded on this ship. Is that what you want?"

Benny stared at her. "Come on out," he said softly, looking down at the desk he had been standing behind.

Asya peered around Benny and saw someone crawling out from underneath the desk. Asya's grip on her gun tightened, but then relaxed.

"Agent Daimon, this is Kit," Benny said.

Asya stared at him. "What is a five-year-old girl doing on a cargo ship?" she demanded.