For the Moon: 6
My heart jumped into my throat. “I don’t understand.”
Wes scoffed, “What don’t you get? They’re nuking us.”
“How? Treecia doesn't even have bombs.“
“They weaponized one of their transport ships.“ Captain piped up.
“They want the reservoir.”
“We don’t even have the reservoir. The Kraiks do.”
“So we gathered from this guy.” One of our soldiers slapped the captured Treecian on the shoulder.
“Then why come after us and not the Kraiks?”
“Because Kraikanatowahau has resources of its own that the Treecians will need to go after if they fail to get the moon,” Captain explained. “They can’t risk blowing up their backup plan. Unfortunately, Corsius has nothing of value from a survival standpoint. We get the Kraiks to hand over the reservoir to save our people. I guess it's fortunate that you picked up a Kraik along the way. Some negotiations are in order.”
Hein blinked around at everyone, completely oblivious. I spoke up on her behalf. “She doesn’t understand our language.”
“She?” Wes balked.
“Yes, she’s a woman.”
“How are we supposed to negotiate then? Her language is a bunch of mumbo jumbo.”
I drew up, my pride struck by his slander. “I can speak it.”
The entire cabin of men gawked at me. Wes shook his head. “Where in the world did you learn to talk gibberish?”
“It was in our books.” I shrugged.
Captain dismissed our bluster and issued commands at me. “Tell the Kraik what we’ve discussed, that our planet is at stake. Tell her to give the Treecians what they want.” His back straightened and a hostility flickered in his eyes. “And tell her that if the Kraiks don’t stand down, we will force them to.”
I stepped back from Captain, aghast at his aggression. “The Kraiks are the only ones holding this war at bay. If we give Treecia the reservoir, we’re all screwed, Kraik and Corsius alike.”
“My job is to protect our people and this is the way to do it.”
“We can’t fight anymore. We’ve already muddied up the reservoir with this war. If we go any further there will be nothing left for anyone, not even Treecia. We’re condemning every planet-”
“I gave you an order,” Captain snapped, though the crinkle of his forehead betrayed the remorse under the surface. “Tell the Kraik what I said.”
Bowing under his glare, I turned to Hein.
She tilted her head in worry. “What has happened?”
I cleared my throat, suddenly resolved. “They don’t know what I am saying to you. They do not speak your tongue.”
“What are you saying to me?”
“Do you know the coordinates of the loch, the exact location of it here on the moon?”
“I need it.”
“To save Corsius. To save everyone. You wanted to help me end this.”
She tapped three fingers on her temple to show she remembered her promise. “12°10’17.5”S 103°24’3.8”W.”
I inched up to the console and my fellow soldiers scrutinized me closely. “She needs to send a message to her people, but doesn’t know how to use our equipment. I’m going to send it for her. Do you mind?” I nodded to all the buttons.
“Do what you have to,” Captain allowed.
I fiddled with the communications arbitrarily and slipped my other hand to the GPS, slyly entering the coordinates that Hein had relayed to me. The system searched for a signal to connect with my location instructions before finally sensing one traveling between Treecia and Corsius. With one click of a button, the destination rerouted. My fingers continued with the communications to keep up the pretense.
“Hold on,” Wes suddenly hollered across the tense silence. “The nuke is off course.”
Captain pushed forward. “Is it still on line for Corsius?”
“No, sir,” he mumbled in shock. “It’s headed here.”
Captain’s club pressed against the Treecian’s throat. “What is this? What are your people up to?”
Our hostage proved as taken aback as everyone else and Captain backed down.
“Someone from Treecia would have to have reset it,” Captain went on. “If it hits here, we lose everything.”
“We’ve already lost everything.”
The entirety of the compartment turned on me with fire behind their stares.
“You little prick,” Wes spat, stomping toward me with his club at the ready.
I rose my chin, accepting the onslaught, but Hein lunged in between us, poising her blade at Wes’ throat.
“Nolan,” Captain barked as we all froze, at an impasse. “What did you do?”
“I made my own ransom. We have representatives from all three races in this room. We call a ceasefire, a truce, or no one gets the reservoir.”
“You will kill us all.”
“No, that’s what you were doing. I’m giving us the chance to all live.”
“Not only will our planets lose all resources,” Wes scowled. “We’re too close to the reservoir. If that hits, this ship is dust, with us in it.”
“I know that.”
“And this Kraik is in on it too?” Captain carped.
“She just wants this to end, like I do. The nuke was my idea.”
“How did you knock it off course?”
“I read a lot. That’s all I’m good for, as I recall.” I pointedly glanced at Wes, the man who shamed me for my well of knowledge and lack of experience.
“I don’t remember nuclear manipulation in any manuels,” Captain chided.
“But there is a section about connecting with other ships, latching onto signals and rerouting destinations. The nuke has a signal of its own. It's the same principle.”
“You could have rerouted it to leave our solar system.”
“I could have turned it off altogether.”
Captain’s ire flared. “You could have saved us all and instead you chose to kill us?”
“Getting rid of the bomb wouldn’t have solved anything. We would still be fighting. This way, we’re forced to cooperate.”
“I order you to shut it down.”
I dug my heels into the deck. “No.”
Captain shook his head. “You bring shame on yourself, Nolan.”
“This war is much bigger than you and me. It’s not about glory. You said that,” I mused. “If I save these planets and get marked as the enemy of all three, I can live with that.”
The blip on the map beeped closer every second. A drip of sweat trickled down Captain’s forehead. “Even if I concede, nothing says the others will too.”
“Hein,” I murmured up to her. “I need your statement on behalf of Kraikanatowahau that you agree to a truce.”
“You know I agree to it.” She lowered her blade to punctuate.
“The Kraiks are with us.”
All eyes fell on the Treecian.
“Does he understand us?” I asked.
“He speaks the language of Corsius,” Captain confirmed. “We only need his word.”
The Treecians sunken, beady eyes flicked around at the console map in front of him, watching as destruction crept every closer. With a growl, he finally sneered up at Captain. “Truce.”
At this last accord, I leapt forward and jabbed at the buttons until the signal of the nuke blinked off the radar.
To be concluded in For the Moon: 7...
© 2021 by Kelsey Garber