Chapter Forty-Six – Pashtek’s Devilish Plan
Pashtek had spent years in hiding on Janus Omega, in its capital city Pranash. When Eugene and his marines landed and began their bloody takeover of the planet, Pashtek was the last Khaz left alive on the planet, indeed in the Drana Empire, and had come close to being caught on several occasions. With his unique knowledge of the sewers and hidden passages within the walls of the city, somehow he always managed to find an escape route whenever they got too close.
Our natural bodily reaction whenever we are in fear of our lives caused him problems on more than one occasion. The stench from his body exuding its waste products through his grey skin was unfortunately unmistakable. Pashtek was no fool, and realized from the first day on Janus Omega, that Eugene would kill him on sight without a second thought. It did not take him long to find a good hiding place in the caves above the city, well away from Eugene and his marines, where he could watch the general’s progress and bide his time, waiting for an opportunity to escape the planet.
When Eugene began selecting his three women for the journey, Pashtek was close by, waiting to hatch his own devilish plan to create a race to conquer the cosmos. When the three women were finally chosen and segregated from the rest of the female slaves prior to launch, Pashtek put his own first phase into action.
After dark, when the majority of the marines were either drunk or asleep, the tiny grey Khaz descended into the city and made his way via the sewer system, to where the three unfortunate women were held. Not wishing to alarm or harm them in any way, Pashtek stole silently into their cells via the ventilation system and took a single strand of hair and a skin sample from each of the three women while they slept.
Next, he went to the medical facility where he began synthesising a mix of his own DNA with that of the three women. Each night, he returned to the laboratory working feverishly, until after seven long nights of experimentation, he had successfully produced a compatible new Khaz hybrid DNA string for each of the three women, based on their own racial genetics. He now needed to store the three precious strings in the right environment. But he had a problem. The only correct storage was the cryogenics lab where Eugene kept his own human DNA bank, and it was heavily guarded.
Because the laboratory compound was made up from a group of isolated buildings, each with its own independent environmental system, Pashtek had to run the very real risk of getting caught in the open. He watched the guards’ patrol pattern for a long time. The whole area was floodlit at night, which did not make things any easier for the little Khaz. He cursed the fact that there was no underground sewer system there, only waste containment vessels on stands outside the buildings, connected by small pipes through the walls. He lay in the dirt beneath one of the buildings for hours, waiting for the right moment. His opportunity finally arrived when the guard changed. Scurrying across the open ground, he tripped and fell, dropping the container housing his precious DNA strings. Quickly getting to his feet, he picked up the container and ran for the cryogenics lab. Soon he had the door to the laboratory open, and began searching for Eugene’s DNA bank. In his haste to get inside, he forgot to lock the laboratory door behind him. The alarm was sounded by one of the patrolling guards, and soon the entire laboratory complex was swarming with guards searching for the intruder.
Pashtek panicked as his familiar stench began to fill the air of the laboratory. When the guards entered the lab, Pashtek shut himself in a cool cabinet shaking with fear. The guards carefully checked around the benches and cupboards, even checking the toilets and sonic decontamination showers, but found nothing. Eventually all went quiet in the laboratory and Pashtek cautiously pushed open the cool cabinet’s door and peered out. The lights were off and no one was in sight, so he silently climbed out of the cool cabinet and began searching for the cryogenic containers housing Eugene’s DNA bank.
At the far end of the laboratory in a separate room, hermetically sealed from the main lab’s environment, were five large Dewars containing the human DNA frozen in liquid nitrogen, all marked ‘New Generation’. A coded security touch pad, and a retina scan, controlled the door to the room. Pashtek’s frustration was palpable. He needed someone to open the door for him. The only way that would happen, was when the laboratory staff began work the next morning. In the meantime, the delicate strings would soon begin to degrade if he did not get them into one of the Dewars inside the room. Calming down a little, he searched for more liquid nitrogen to replenish his container’s own rapidly warming supply. Eventually finding some, he hid in the cleaning closet for the rest of the night.
The sound of breaking glass woke Pashtek from his slumber. One of the lab technicians had dropped the results of a month’s painstaking research on the floor. As Pashtek peered through the crack in the door of the cupboard, he saw the unfortunate technician picking up the pieces of a shattered Erlenmeyer flask, while the scientist in charge blasted him for his carelessness. The technician came over to the cleaner’s cupboard to fetch a mop and bucket, causing Pashtek to dive for cover behind a pile of boxes containing industrial bleach and liquid soap.
For the rest of the morning he patiently hid in the confines of the cupboard, peering out, and waiting for someone to open the sealed room. Before the laboratory team went to lunch, they were instructed by the scientist to take their work across to the room and place it inside for safety reasons. No more accidents would be tolerated. When the lab was empty, Pashtek took his chance and scuttled across the lab, positioning himself behind a large acetylene gas cylinder beside the door.
When the technicians and the scientist entered the room to collect their work, no one noticed the tiny grey figure silently enter behind them. Pashtek hid behind the Dewars waiting for his chance to store his precious strings. For the rest of the day the technicians came and went from the room, never giving him the opportunity. So he had no choice but to wait until the lab was silent once more. Finally, when the team had left, Pashtek carefully removed the cap from one of the Dewars and pulled out three of Eugene’s DNA samples, replacing them with his own. After he had placed them in the frozen confines of the Dewar, and marked the cap, Pashtek settled down for the night, locked inside the hermetically sealed room. By the following night, he was back safe and sound in his cave above the city, satisfied that phase one of his plan was complete.
When the DNA was taken aboard the ship, Pashtek managed to hide himself in the ventilation system of the hold, where he remained undetected. Once the three women were locked into their cell, he began his second phase. Looking for a way into the cell was difficult given its construction. Essentially, it was a small metal box welded to the floor of the ships hold, barely large enough for its occupants to lay down, with only one door that was securely locked, and a small ventilation grill on its flat roof. The grill was large enough for Pashtek’s purpose. After the launch and the ion-ram engine proved workable, Pashtek spent many hours silently working on the grill until he loosened it.
He watched and waited to carry out his next phase. The crew’s sexual depravity supplied Pashtek with the opportunity. On each occasion after one of the unfortunate women was returned to the sweaty, stinking confines of the cell, Pashtek went to work after they had finally gone to sleep, introducing the strings into the unsuspecting women. Now, as he watched the product of all his work happily playing under the watchful, loving eyes of their mothers, Pashtek could take a well-earned rest until it was time for phase three.
For the next six years, the three children continued to grow happily in a loving environment. By now, Meral had proved herself as the chief mischief-maker of the trio. Naron was growing into a strong and silent young boy. Banab, because of his obvious delicate and effeminate differences that prevented him from playing their rough and tumble games, evolved differently, rapidly becoming the scholar of the group. When their seventh birthdays were drawing near, Pashtek began his third phase.
“General, we’re having problems with the ion intake, sir,” Odesh reported, after he had revived Eugene and opened his stasis unit.
“Well fix it, goddamn it!” Eugene growled.
Odesh shut down the ion-ram engine. He and Miorr suited up for the dangerous job outside the ship’s hull. After they had left the relative safety of the airlock, they began working their way along the length of the hull, to where the intake was situated, beneath the hydroponics compartment. It took them several hours to clear the intake, removing thousands of small meteorites that clogged the micron-sized holes of the fine grill over the opening, thanks to the destruction of Shu’s planet. By early evening, the ion-ram engine was once more in operation.
For the next three days, the ship assumed its normal routine while Pashtek began his campaign of sabotage. “Christ, what’s the matter now,” Eugene snapped, when McCall woke him.
“General, we have several leaks in the outer hull, sir. We need to repair them urgently; otherwise we’ll lose our air supply, not to mention the pressurisation of the ship,” McCall reported, rapidly backing away from Eugene, sensing how the general would react.
“Jesus Christ, what else is going to go wrong?” Eugene roared, jumping out of bed and donning his shirt and pants. The ship once more slowly drifted in space. McCall, Miorr, and Odesh began immediate repairs sealing the leaks.
“General, we’re fighting a losing battle out here, sir. Each time we plug a leak, another takes its place. The damned ship is falling apart at the seams!” Odesh reported.
“Get back inside now and be quick about it,” Eugene angrily ordered.
After the men were back on board, Eugene made a fatal mistake by ordering his crew to prepare the escape pod for immediate evacuation; Pashtek had sabotaged the shuttle, leaving the pod as the only means of escape. Gathering up supplies necessary for their survival aboard the pod, none of the men, Eugene included, saw Pashtek silently at work committing his final act of sabotage. Eugene gave the order to abandon ship. McCall launched the tiny pod into space without the women and children. As they moved further away from the ship under thruster power, Eugene watched the ship grow smaller as the distance increased.
“What now,” Eugene snapped at Miorr’s terrified cry.
“Sir, the pod is leaking, look!” Eugene, McCall, and Odesh followed Miorr’s shaking finger. A crack in the hull was getting larger; loose items inside the pod began gravitating towards it, causing the men to jump out of the way. Large boxes containing their survival equipment drifted across the confines of the pod towards the ever increasing tear in the hull.
In a panic, Eugene ordered McCall to return to the ship. McCall pressed the control panel in front of him to restart the thrusters, but nothing happened.
“Get it fixed you stupid lizard bred bastard!” Eugene screamed.
McCall and Odesh tried everything they knew to regain control of the pod, but thanks to Pashtek, the pod’s only propulsion, the thruster system, had totally shut down. “Jesus, sir – look!” McCall cried out. They all watched the screen in front of McCall in horror. The booster rockets burned as the ship continued its journey, soon vanishing from sight. Pashtek repaired his sabotage and reset the automatic pilot system; phase three of his plan was complete. Now his children’s education would begin in deadly earnest.
Next time – Chapter Forty-Seven