Adapted from Stephen Perry's Personal Log
It was an interesting planet on the fringe. Most of the settlers were human, having relocated from Earth some 50 years earlier. I had set down on the planet for some R and R after a long, tiring patrol. The spaceport was primitive by any standard, but the city offered certain distractions for weary space travelers such as myself.
I was well acquainted with the woman who ran the inn where I was staying. I liked this particular inn because the rooms were clean and the food was good. A small piece of civilization in an otherwise foul city that was inhabited by the very bottom of the space faring society; even the bugs were welcome here. It was hard not to kill them when I saw them walking down the street.
The bugs aren't really bugs of course. They are more like us, in that they are humanoid. They are a cross between reptiles and bugs in a human form. The skin is a kind of soft leather with pieces of exoskeleton stuck on their back, shoulders, legs, and arms. Other than that, the bugs look a lot like us. There was one staying in the inn and presently dining across the way from me. It was a female. I could tell, because she didn't have as much exoskeleton as a male would have had and they look a damn sight better than the males. In hand-
The café was attached to the side of the inn, and I sat at a table in the corner with my back to the wall. The bug kept to herself most of the time. She wasn't nearly as belligerent as some of the males I have met, most of which I killed. Even now as she sat eating, there was something in her perfect manners that set her apart from other bugs. I found myself sitting there studying her trying to figure out what made her so different. As I watched her a half a dozen drunk mercenaries came bursting through the café door.
I grimaced as they staggered in. Starfighter rejects, but in the war with the bugs, they had their uses. It wasn't long before they began to launch a barrage of insults aimed at the bug. Either she didn't understand what they were saying or she was ignoring them. I chose to believe the latter. I was amazed that she could keep her cool even when one of the mercenaries pretended to stagger against her table and knock her food on the floor. She barely glanced at him as she helped the waiter clean up the mess. Perhaps it was just wisdom on her part as the mercenaries were all armed and she was not.
A few more drinks and they found their courage. One of the mercenaries grabbed her from behind as she stood up handing the wet rag she was holding back to the waiter. "Maybe if she won't fight us here, we can take her back to our room, and see if she'll put up a fight in bed," he said. The bug understood quite clearly what he said because she began to struggle against his hold on her to no avail. Another fellow went to help his buddy and between them they were able to pick her up bodily from the floor and start for the door. The other mercenaries got up from their table and headed for the door, too.
Another day, another bug... Perhaps things would have been different, but what they were doing was wrong. I am a Starfighter and we value honor above all. I could not sit by and do nothing. "Let the bug go," I said from where I sat.
"Mind your own business," one of the mercenaries growled at me.
I stood up and shoved the table out of the way. "I'm only going to tell you this one more time," I said. "Let the bug go."
Two of the mercenaries at the back of the group charged me. It was a simple matter to sidestep one of them and push him into the other one. They both went sprawling across one of the tables landing against the wall. The Old West of Earth has nothing on this town a couple of million light years away. Everybody went for their guns. They dropped the bug and she had the good sense to stay on the floor until the shooting was over. Bullets whizzed by all around me and exploded against the wall behind me. I calmly pulled one of my guns and fired six times.
I walked over and reached my hand down to the bug. She took my hand and I helped her to her feet. "Thank you," she said.
"I'm a Starfighter; I only did what duty and honor required. We are enemies and tomorrow I will kill you without blinking an eye," I replied.
"Yes, perhaps," she said. "But tonight, can we not pretend to be friends?"
This was as close to any bug that I had ever been without having to kill it. It was hard to know how to reply to her question, but I could not help but notice that she had the most beautiful blue eyes that I had ever seen.
I remember enjoying the remainder of the evening with the bug. I remember the kiss and my response to it. When I finally escorted her back to her room. I barely remember being hit from behind, but I remember I went down shooting. Maybe I was thinking about the kiss, and being so distracted may explain why I was so easily captured. In any case the bugs got me without much of a fight, much to my shame.
When I regained consciousness I found myself in a cage stripped of my body armor and most of my weapons. There was a bug standing in front of the cage. "I must congratulate you, Starfighter. You are the first we have ever captured alive," it said. "I must admit that despite the ease with which we were able to capture you. You still managed to kill two of us and wound three others." That made me feel better. "You must know that in the end we will win the war. I have some questions I want to ask."
I laughed. "Ask away, bug. I don't know anything because they don't tell us anything. I think they do that for occasions exactly like this one." It was the simple truth.
"Why are you here?" it asked.
"My duty is to patrol this sector and kill bugs like you," I replied.
"How many of you are there?"
"Do you want to know the total number of Starfighters or just the ones in this sector?"
"I think there are a couple of million Starfighters now; maybe more than that. I'm not sure," I told him. It was a lie, I had no idea, but a couple of million sounded like a good scary number. "As far as I know I'm the only one out here in this sector, but I could be wrong. There could be other Starfighters out here and no body told me. It would not surprise me to find other Starfighters out here engaged in their own operations completely unaware that I was out here, too." I answered all the bug's questions -
My interrogator answered many of my own questions quite readily as he figured that being a prisoner I wasn't going to be able to use the information anyway. I found out that I was on a secret base not far from the city, and that this small base was maintained for the sole purpose of gathering information from the space faring humans that stopped off on this world. In short, the bugs controlled the planet. I wondered if there were any humans that had sold out to the bugs, or if they were completely unaware of the bugs' presence on their world. Either way, I had to escape and contact Starfighter Command.
When the bugs finally went to sleep, I pulled a thin wire saw from one of the seams in my pants and proceeded to saw the lock off the cage door. It was a simple matter to bypass the lock on the room door; after all, it was meant to keep people out, not in. The bugs must have had a lot of faith in their cage because there was no guard on the door to the room where I was being kept. I spent most of the night trying to find my way out of their base. I wasn't having any success in finding my way out when I stumbled across their flight hanger. I might not get out of their base alive, but I was afforded the opportunity to take a lot of bugs with me and expose the bugs' base at the same time.
Their fuel trucks were electric and so I was able drive one about without being heard. I just opened the valve on the back of the truck and drove it around the hanger a couple of times as the fuel leaked out. I made sure to stop at the fuel depot and the ammo bunker as I drove around. I rigged several of the doors to explode when opened to start the fire that would blow the base sky high. Then I returned to my quest of finding an exit before the base exploded.
I was almost out of time. The bugs were waking up and it was only a matter of time before one of them walked through one of the doors I rigged in the hanger. Then I saw her walking down the hallway. She was with a small group of bugs -
She pulled my hand from her mouth. "Are you going to kill me now?" she asked.
"Not unless I have to," I replied. "All I want to do is to find my way out of here."
"Why don't you go out the same way you came in?"
"I would, but I was unconscious when I came in. Listen, I need to get out of here before they discover that I have escaped."
"I can't do that," she said. "We're enemies, remember."
"Yes, I know, but I've rigged the base and it’s only a matter of time before someone triggers the bombs that will blow a big hole in your base. If we don't get out of here right now, we're going to be a big part of that hole." I did not need anymore discussion at that moment with time growing short.
She looked at me for a moment. "Okay, this way," she said. I had no choice but to follow her. Even as we started down the hallway the base alarms went off.
I was closer to an exit than I had imagined. Once outside she turned to go back inside the base. There was no time to argue with her. I just picked her up and threw her over my shoulders and began to run. She tried to struggle but it was ineffective. Even as I made it to what passed for trees on this planet the ground behind me erupted like some dormant volcano blowing me from my feet. I rolled over on top of her to protect her from the falling debris.
She sat up once I got off her. "What now," she asked. "Am I your prisoner?"
"No," I replied standing up. I reached my hands down and helped her to her feet.
"I still want to know what I'm going to do," she said. "You just blew up my home and any chance I have of getting off this planet."
"Well, you can become my prisoner, or I can give you a ride home," I replied.
She reached out and brushed some of the dirt off my shoulders. "I think I'll take the ride home."
I surprised more than a few bugs when I landed my ship at the spaceport in a small city on one of the planets held by the bugs. It was an isolated planet well off the beaten path with no military presence. Mostly it was an agriculture producing world. I helped Tyreseeia down out of my ship and saw her safely to her family's home in the outskirts of the city. No one tried to stop me and I had time for dinner and another kiss before I blasted back into space.