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The Passerby

Written by Cylapse

“Open your eyes, Jacen…” the voice whispered.
“It’s time to wake up…”

An intense hum echoed in the back of his mind… it continued to pound at his migrane, prodding him to a harsh awakening in a groggy state. Light flooded his eyes as he opened them, seeping in from a large crack in the hull of the ship.

“Looks like we landed eh…” Loxx shuffled away from the light and crouched into a corner, laying his head to rest on folded arms as he tried to settle the disorienting daze that drifted thru his head.

Jacen Loxx was the pilot of the Starship Twilight, an Escort-Class vessel that was assigned to survey the remains of Aldan IV. Once a thriving Cynapse outpost, it had been reduced to rubble several years ago by an Amon’Krie fleet hellbent on claiming the Aldan System. He was one of two crewman assigned to the Twilight.

“Commander Mercer…?” Loxx called…and then it hit him.
The Commander must have taken the controls shortly before the crash, as Loxx’s lack of sleep had taken a heavy toll during their trip, and he remembered warning Mercer that would set the auto-pilot before catching any sleep. Did the Commander try to land the ship himself?…

Loxx approached the pilot’s chair in slow, uneven steps… his right leg trembled slightly as one hand reached out to spin it around to face him. A smashed and disfigured face was his eye-candy, as the Commander’s dead body slumped over and into Loxx’s arms.

“God...” he paused, idley running a hand over a shattered face to close the eyes of the dead. “I’m sorry, David.” He whispered. “But you were a fuçking fool to try and land this thing…and now you’re dead, and I am stranded…”

No sooner did the words leave his lips, did guilt strike him a heavy suckerpunch. He was the pilot of this vessel, not Mercer, it was –his- responsibility to guide it to safety. But instead, his need to celebrate the maiden flight of the SS Twilight had landed him sleepless and hungover, and Mercer must have taken the controls…as a result, here he was, stuck in a broken ship only 3 days old, cradling a disfigured dead man.

He looked down and grasped Mercer’s left hand between his.
“I had no idea you were married, Commander…Good choice on the ring, almost as nice as mine.” He smiled, recalling the same words as spoken by his wife 6 months ago. “We had a lot more in common than I had thought, David. Looks like both our wives are in for a bit of bad news eh…”

A heavyset sigh escaped his chest as he rose to his feet. It was time to salvage what was left of the situation… Loxx left the bridge and climbed down a short ladder leading to the ship’s cargo hold. He snatched a small survival pack before making his way back up to the command deck.

He dropped the pack in utter horror. The chair had been turned back around to face the controls, and the Commander was dead at his console, as Loxx had originally found him. The humming sound started again as the stress of his trauma began to overwhelm him.

Adreneline raged thru his veins as he stared in disbelief at the apparent un-doing of his actions…his thoughts raced in a chaotic discord…

Maybe the Commander wasn’t happy laying dead on the floor? Maybe he wasn’t dead?…What if this was some sort of joke… yeah… That has to be it… A sick joke…a sick fucking joke.”

Loxx narrowed his eyes and reached for his sidearm, a polished Machman VII; top of the line particle weapon developed by the Cynapse Syndicate.

“You know, Mercer, I really thought we could have worked it out. But apparently, you know no sanity.”

Loxx opened fire in 3 steady bursts, each one searing through the chair and scarring the titanium walls of the Twilight’s hull. His headache was relentless…
“What do you want, God damnit? I said I was sorry! You’re not a drinker or a pilot, so you wouldn’t understand, Commander…but you tried to be. I’d give you 4 points for effort.”

As Loxx began to regain his composure, he found himself losing something else…It was as if speaking to this dead man brought him comfort… Allieviated the guilt…perhaps they could salvage the situation further…


Loxx loaded several supply bags into the onboard shuttlecraft, which although damaged, showed some promise at-a-glance. There was obvious thruster damage, but the diagnostic results said it would fly. He also recharged the cell in his weapon, should he encounter anything…unappreciative of his presence.

As he slid into the Pilot’s chair he took a moment to run his hands over the controls before turning and offering a deep smile to the dead man in the Co-Pilot’s chair.
“Commander Mercer, we are ready for lift-off. Pre-flight tests check out, and we’re lifting this baby outta the bay…”

Loxx guided the shuttle slowly out of the mangled bay of the Twilight and brought it to a half-throttle thrust, achieving a low altitude as he soared the small craft above the rocky terrain… Seems that Mercer’s landing left them on a small island, nowhere near any other land masses.
As Loxx tried to circle the Island in an attempt to pick up speed, a warning beacon flashed indicating an engine failure…The port-side thruster was out, causing a sudden dip in altitude… Loxx prevented a full crash, instead managing to set the shuttle down near a crumbled facility, apparently an old Research Center.

“Well old friend…” he spoke to his dead Commander. “Looks like we get to live here from now on… The shuttle’s replicator should suffice for a few months, and you… well, you wont need any food, will ya? Heh. Guess not. I’ll go take a look around, you sit tight.”

He stepped from the shuttle and cast a gaze up at the open sky…The clouds were quite swift today, sweeping across the sky in a rolling gust… almost as fast as that… starship…?
Loxx stood in disbelief…A large cruiser was passing by overhead, although it was not Cynapse in design or construction… It bore the markings of the Amon’Krie.

He scrambled back into the shuttle and sealed the door, his hands gripping his pistol as his paniced breathing took over.
“Commander! It’s the Amon’Krie! They’ve found us.”
Loxx tossed an extra firearm into the lap of the dead man, in some small way trusting that he had backup.
“Ok…Ok…we’ve gotta think here. I’m open to suggestions?” He stared intently at Mercer, expecting an answer. “Fine. I’ll figure this out myself. Lay low for now, I’ll come back after I’m done dealing with our friends out there…sit tight buddy.”

Loxx crept out of the shuttle, his eyes panning and scanning along the skies for any sign of the intruder…the Amon’Krie. He made his way away from the shuttle and ruins, crawling thru nearly 2 acres of shrub in a vain attempt to stay concealed and protected from enemy fire.

He finally made his way to a large tree and hoisted himself up high enough to catch an overview of the surrounding terrain. He spotted the research facility in the distance, but couldn’t make out the shuttle…it should have been right there. But nothing... as if the shuttle never left the bay. Another sick joke, perhaps?

He climbed a little higher, but still, nothing… Not even a trace of the Amon’Krie cruiser in the sky. He did see something though, a metalic glimmer near the shore.

Loxx dropped from the tree and scrambled towards the shoreline, where a cascade of waves washed against the sandy beach to offer a serene view of a turbulent ocean. In the shallow depths of the reef, Loxx saw the large object that had caught his eye… as he waded closer, he was able to make out the engraved designation on its side.

SS Twilight – Escape Pod 1 – CX245-01

Curiousity engulfed him like a blanket as he worked feverishly to pry open the damaged pod…a loud metallic groan echoed throughout as he managed to jimmy the hatch, and he pulled it aside to reveal a watery grave, the final resting place of Commander David Mercer. His face was in near mint condition, only adding to the confusion that had assaulted Loxx’s mind since the crash…as he stood there in the water, trying to piece it together, a thousand realizations bombarded him at once.


The Amon’Krie vessel ‘Kezalla’ landed near the remains of a smashed escort on the lonely planet of Aldan IV. Its Commander stood outside, gazing over the broken ship named ‘Twilight’.

“Report, Sub-Commander Tenza?” the Amon’Krie Commander queried.
“A simple crash, my leige. There were two humans onboard, according to the ship’s logs. Apparently the ship experienced auto-pilot malfunctions as they neared the planet. The Commander had jettisoned in an escape pod, which we have located near the shore, while the pilot stayed onboard, apparently trying to land the ship. We have performed an autopsic scan and confirmed that the cause of death was the craft’s impact with the planet. We also noticed that the pilot’s blood-alcohol level was at near-fatal levels. He may have been passed out at the controls, which could explain their plight.”

The Amon’Krie Commander cackled outright.
“A pathetic display of carelessness on the part of our enemies, Tenza… Gather the bodies and bring the Cynapse ship in tow, we will analyze it back at the base.”

With that, the Amon’Krie left the planet, leaving behind the broken memories of two dead men…One, a spineless commander at peace within a watery grave. And the other, a careless pilot lost in limbo, a confused prison where he suffers an eternity, oblivious to his own death.

Written By Cylapse

Copyright © by the author, posted with permission.

Published on: 2004-05-12 (6646 reads)

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