The Red Sea

“So why didn’t you call it Noah’s Ark?”  The awe and marvel over all the structural and technical engineering surrounding them subsided enough for Deuce to ask a long-standing question.

He watched Ita’s frown from the corner of his eye since he knew better than to make any direct contact with her.  She had finally brought him on board one of the spaceships scattered, hidden, around the globe, a spectacular behemoth that offered hope for everyone … but very few knew about their existence.

“For one thing, Noah had it easy.”  She never looked toward him.  “All he had to worry about was his own family and two of each animal and one boat.  Our mess is more like what Moses had to contend with.  We’ve got multiple nations and all their livestock and rootstock, and have to keep them alive on several ships in the desert of space for multiple generations.”

He nodded.  “Recreating a miniature facsimile of the world and condensing it to a dozen interstellar ships still sounds like an enormous risk.  Space is a vacuum that’s otherwise sprinkled with colliding asteroids and lethal radiation.”

“No more risky than having the Elite attack us relentlessly, where they either annihilate us or we have to annihilate them.”

“You’ll remember Pharaoh’s army got drowned in the Red Sea.”

She almost cast a sidelong glance toward him.  “Pharaoh’s army, not the whole of Egypt.  And drowning the army is your job.”

Yes, figuratively speaking, that had been the focus of his assistance over the last few months.  Once the exodus began, the Elite would do anything to stop them, even shooting the ships out of the sky as they launched.  He had been coordinating defensive measures around the Earth, and each location had different parameters around which to devise strategy.

But less than two days ago he learned of a detail which dictated there was another part of his plan he would have to implement if they were to succeed.

“I apologize to prevail upon you with a request.”  Deuce knew to get to the point, but this entreaty needed some prefacing.  “But there’s a matter, concerning that job, I need your help with.”

The furrow in her brow deepened.  “This had better be good.”

“I need to have a bomb implanted, preferably in my chest.”

Ita stared at a display panel on the wall behind him, and didn’t respond for a few seconds.  “Why?”

“Standing orders have always been to kill on sight any IMP like me that defected.  Instead, they tried to capture me at the last raid.  It’s a miracle the Red Sea stayed secret all these years, but that action can only mean the Elite have begun to suspect you have a project like this.”  He drew a deep breath before continuing.  “If they capture me, they will find out about it.  I can’t defend my knowledge from the central data core.  So … I must ensure they never make that capture.”

Her frown remained, but there was something pensive in how her lips pressed together.  “You would really blow yourself up?”

Odd, he’d expected a more positive reaction from her, like a quip “Consider it done.”  Ever since the first day they met, Ita made it clear she despised him for killing her father.

Deuce wasn’t sure whether to bless or curse the fact he couldn’t remember the man.  On the one hand it was nice not to look at her and recall the final few seconds in the life of a defender performing above the call of duty.  On the other, he would have liked to acknowledge the eminence of such a person, perhaps even confirming her father’s bravery.

“The blast must be sufficient to shatter my remains beyond reparation.  I’ll need it set up where only I can detonate it, and I must have several options to do so should any avenue become inaccessible to me.  And since this procedure must remain as secret as the Red Sea is, we need as few people as possible involved to insert the implant.”

Ita continued gazing at the wall as though she spied an instrument that didn’t belong.  “You need me to contact the right people?”

“We’ll also need to override the security protocols that would detect the implant.”

She studied the panel for several more seconds before responding, her words proceeding slowly.  “An ion bomb is small enough to do the trick, but as far as the programming … I know a woman who could probably help.”

Her statement didn’t surprise him.  With every able-bodied man needed for combat, the supportive fields of medicine, technology, and engineering were heavily populated by women.  Ita’s role in the Red Sea kept her in touch with the most pioneering individuals.

“We need the procedure to be completed promptly.”  A surreal sensation pulsed through him as the reality of what they were discussing began to solidify.  His entire life he’d been conditioned to accept the possibility of death on the battlefield, but to personally sacrifice himself carried weightier implications.

“I’ll stress its urgency.”  For a couple of seconds her gaze darted to his face, and then she turned aside and muttered, “You always have to keep us on our toes with surprises.”

“What do you mean?”

Ita hesitated and glanced back at him.  Her eyes met his for another couple of seconds, and her impassive expression continued to puzzle him.  She turned aside again and began walking away.

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

Too bad, Deuce thought.  That would have qualified as the nicest thing she ever said to him.

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So here’s the next installment of my serialization for #BlogBattle this month.  The word this time is Miniature, which kind of like abbreviation seems like a pretty big word for a small thing….  Be sure to check out their website for other stories submitted this month.

If you’re new to this novella in progress and want to catch up, you can find the previous stories on my Blog Battle Short Stories page.  Have a prosperous November!