Operation Mayflower

October 2286

General Anthony Fraser, commander of the military dictatorship, New Australia, sat at his desk skimming the latest of numerous holo-reports detailing the public uprisings against his ‘tyrannical’ rule. Three warehouses had been burned to the ground, and his soldiers treated as punching bags. He slammed his fist down, cursing as the glass of water beside him fell, shattering. He dropped the report and rose to pace, stroking his beard in thought. He had enough firepower to keep the public in line, but his hold over them was becoming tenuous. Perhaps he had been too hasty assassinating the Prime Minister instead of undermining him first.

Fraser paused and gazed at the bookshelf, noticing a leather-bound book cracked with age. Never a fan of reading, he was drawn to the six words inscribed along its spine: Major Events of the Twenty-First Century. Picking up the book raised a thick cloud of dust. Wiping some from the cover, he flipped to a random page towards the back of the book and began to read:

In both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, humans accelerated the process of their own destruction. In 2072, after wars and plagues had ravaged most of the world, the United States of America launched a program that would send ten of the world’s most adaptable individuals to Enceladus, one of Saturn’s most hospitable moons.

Colonel Winslow, a Medal of Valour recipient, was named commander of Operation Mayflower. Most famous for sneaking behind enemy lines and rescuing his godson’s captured squad, Winslow suffered debilitating wounds requiring a prosthetic replacement. He admitted prior to the mission that he had not volunteered but was selected, saying, ‘I don’t know what to expect, but I’m honoured to be serving the whole world.’

On August fifteenth, 2072, twenty minutes after breaking through the Earth’s upper atmosphere, an undetected meteor struck the shuttle, ricocheting it back towards Earth. News reports and interviews revealed that communication between the Global Aeronautics Space Agency and the Mayflower II was compromised. Mission Control could only receive incoming transmissions, but they could no longer make contact with the shuttle. The screams of those inside the Mayflower II could be heard seconds before the ship crashed somewhere near the Marianas Trench.

However, after three months, the missing shuttle was still never found, and many outspoken conspiracy theorists claimed for years that it was no acc…

A quiet knock disturbed Fraser’s focus. He clicked his fingers. The doors, registering the noise, released the magnetic lock and opened with a gentle whoosh, revealing Fraser’s assistant, who held a report like the one on the desk.

Fraser beckoned him over. The man came to the desk and stood at attention, his cybernetic eye glowing a dull blue. Fraser clicked his tongue and gestured for him to get on with it.

‘Sir, we’ve found something at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, a space shuttle from the late twenty-first century. It’s being analysed in one of the labs off the coast.’

‘Prepare my jet,’ he ordered his assistant, ‘I’d like to inspect it myself.’

***

Dr Joan Steele, Head of the Research Division, emerged from the decontamination chamber where Fraser was waiting. His stature dwarfed her dark, petite frame as she took off her red-framed glasses to clean them, looking straight through him to show she was not cowed by him as most others were.

‘I’m sorry for keeping you waiting, General,’ she said, her tone indicating the opposite. He waved aside the apology as she produced a small key from around her neck and inserted it into the computer in front of them. A holographic screen popped up, emitting a faint, blue glow. She touched one of the icons on the projection and an image of a shuttle appeared.

‘While studying the shuttle, we found a large dent towards the centre of the craft just under the left wing. We traced several extra-terrestrial rock samples that suggest the shuttle collided with a meteor after leaving the atmosphere. Our scan shows one survivor with weak but stable readings.’ She swiped up, and a video appeared of a man in a hospital bed. ‘This video feed is live. It seems the Trench’s extreme conditions kept bacteria from consuming his body, although I can’t explain how his brain is still active. What do you wish to do with him?’

Fraser peered at the figure in the hologram. He was a broken husk, his right forearm replaced by a metal limb heavily coated with rust. Fraser realised who this man was, who he had been. He turned to the doctor.

‘I understand you have a method of extracting memories from people in comas, used to assist law enforcement?’

Steele defiantly met his gaze.

‘Unfortunately, we have very limited success with the process. All previous patients have flatlined, which is why we typically use it as a last resort.’

Fraser smiled menacingly.

‘Then turn off his oxygen supply and pick his brain apart, piece by piece, until you find what I need.’ Not waiting for a response, he turned to leave.

‘No.’

‘No?’ he whispered, enraged at her defiance.

Steele held her ground. ‘I will no longer be a pawn in your hunger for power.’

‘Well then,’ he said, spreading his hands in defeat, ‘I’ll have to find someone who will.’

Without warning, Fraser turned around and drew his pistol, firing it. The bullet went through Steele’s head and into the window behind her. He wiped away the splatter with his sleeve and dug the bullet out, placing it in his pocket. He looked at Steele’s body on the floor, her thick afro soaking up the surrounding blood like a sponge.

Fraser looked back at the figure on the screen, oblivious to the chaos his retrieval had caused. He would have to be kept alive until Fraser could find a new Head of Research, one who could preferably keep their mouth shut better than the last two.

He sighed with contempt. ‘Looks like another mess to clean up.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s