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The Secret Adventures of Glitterthorn: Wreck Of The Nemesis – Epilogue

The world “takes a deep breath” after our remarkable escape – or at least that’s how it feels as we come to terms with recent events. Once life support is restored, I invite my guests to one of the recreational areas and we share some of the ship’s emergency long-life rations, which are surprisingly good – or maybe that’s how they seem after our ordeal. Continuing to be alive makes everything seem better…

We eat in silence, but after that, there’s still a distinct reluctance to engage in conversation. It could be that the others are so stunned by the impossible events that have just transpired that they have lost all faith in reality, and fear that they risk “waking up”, finding themselves back in the alien universe, moments from crashing into the desert. As far as I’m concerned, I know what reality… “tastes” like, having taken hold of cosmic forces during my time as an Overlord, and shaped space and time according to my design – could it be that I have some residual “sense of the real”, and that is what I’ve been experiencing lately? Am I having flashes of Overlord consciousness, perhaps…?

Mishihara is the one to break the deadlock. “So, what’s next?”, she enquires. “You claiming the reward for finding this ship, or something?”

“Oh no, she’s mine now”, I reply. “I didn’t come all this way just to give this treasure back.”

That exchange isn’t quite the catalyst for conversation I’d thought it might be. perhaps some more effort on my part is required. “We should be ready to attempt a return to your universe shortly”, I continue. “Do you two have any plans…?”

Jonlan shifts in his chair, and gives the distinct impression he’s somewhat troubled. “I’ve been thinking”, he says, not entirely sure of himself. “What, really, is there to go back to? Our world is safe again, all back to normal – but ‘normal’ is… is just so damned tedious! Yes, the world is no longer under threat from the aliens, but…”

He glances across the table towards Mishihara. He’s struggling to find the right words to articulate his feelings, and avoiding offending his team-mate, for whom the war with the aliens has been particularly hard. “I don’t know how much you know about our world, Mister Agent”, she says, eventually, “but some may wonder just what on our Earth was worth saving. We poisoned our air, killed our oceans, our cities are nothing more than zoos, with no-one looking in through the glass. We made ourselves perfect subjects for conquest – but somehow, we got it together to defend ourselves…”

The Lieutenant takes a deep breath, and it’s a shuddering breath laden with tears. “Miki always said I should do something for myself, instead of ‘playing Mother Hen’”, she sobs. “I… we were all the family we had left, and when the defence agency started recruiting, I signed up. Miki… Miki was volunteering at one of the medical complexes, as part of her full citizenship program – a Juggernaut waded right through it, like it was… was a shower of rain…”

Another deep breath, coinciding with a heavy sigh. “So, I know exactly what you mean when you say ‘What is there to go back to?’”, says Mishihara. “For me, there’s precisely nothing – but now, I have another chance to find a future for myself. This time, I have no reason to look back.”

This all appears to be heading in an interesting, and rather unexpected direction. “So, you don’t want to go home, and be welcomed back as heroes?”

Jonlan shrugs. “Welcomed back in the morning, wheeled out on the vid-stream for the Government publicity machine at lunch-time, repeats in the early evening, forgotten by bed-time. We may make the history files, if we’re lucky. The material for some cheesy game show questions if we’re not.”

“And staying here on the Nemesis is going to be better than that?”

Both Jonlan and Mishihara stare back at me, simultaneously, their expressions saying “What do you think…?

“This isn’t going to be easy”, I tell them. “I have a very good reason for not telling you my real name, and making use of technology most people believe to be irretrievably lost. I can’t promise you’ll survive to tell your side of this story, wherever it leads us, but I have a very strong personal reason to make this work, and anyone who gets in the way of my succeeding will make an enemy they absolutely cannot stop, and cannot escape. I trust you both understand…”

There’s a saying about “the rest is history”, but that doesn’t even begin to cover what I’m expecting us to achieve. I won’t be doing it all alone, it seems, but will that make up for having to keep my eyes on this pair? At least they’ll keep me on my toes, maybe provide me with options a solo operative can’t call upon – as another saying goes. “time will tell”.

I advise my companions to get a night’s sleep before committing to their life-changing plans, but I’m not able to “sleep on it” myself. Now that I have the opportunity to do so at my leisure, I walk the decks of my new flagship and absorb the “atmosphere”, picking up on those sounds and sensations that make up a vessel’s “heartbeat”, and my route ends at the newly reactivated flight deck, where I take my rightful place in the captain’s chair, and silently stake my claim to this exquisite prize.

“Now, just where will we go first?”, I murmur, not entirely to myself. I know where I could go, but it’s too soon for that. First, we load up with gear from several of my equipment caches, then we put this baby through her paces – after that, things get interesting. I have it in my mind to pay visits to several places I’ve visited before – a dangerous tactic, perhaps, but that’s going to be the life I’ll be leading. May as well meet it head-on…

TSAG101-4 (5/100)

For Gerry…