The Day the Earth Went Dark Episode Eleven: False Flag

Xal’s head pulsed with pain as a migraine pulled him out of the darkness. The soft fabric sat against his skin, which felt wrong. The last thing he’d worn as a precautionary spacesuit that had stiff padding should make it more comfortable. The spacesuit always felt like wearing football pants—the smooth material with solid cushions for protection. A sharp breath in, a beep of a machine, and the memories shocked Xal into full consciousness. 

“Sir, Robinson is awake,” a voice said.

“Well, then get the damned Fleet Admiral,” A gruff voice replied.

Footsteps disappeared in the distance. The Fleet Admiral is dead, though, unless I just had a bad dream. Xal found Third Guardian Dalton glaring down at him. The artificial white light surrounded Dalton with a bright glow, but Xal didn’t see it as symbology for a savior. No savior would look so angry or full of hate.

“So, you killed off the Fleet Commander and returned unconscious,” Third Guardian Dalton said. “How are you going to talk your way out of this one, Spaceman?”

The rest of the room came into clarity, and Xal recognized the Med-Bay. All Spacemen aboard Dark Specter 1 spent the majority of their first week in visits to the Medics. The Med-Bay was the only room on Dark Specter 1 that sported the full white furnishings. The Medics complained of always needing to clean the floors after other spacemen walked through their areas. The Medic stood off from Xal with a string in hand. That’s when Xal noticed the restraints. I can’t keep waking up like this. Though Xal fought, the leather straps held tight against his wrists and ankles.

“Third Guardian Dalton,” Xal said, trying to hide the terror from his voice. “Could we remove these restraints?”

Dalton didn’t respond. Three succinct knocks came from the doorway. Dalton called the room to attention, and a new man walked into the room. The reflective rank pinned on the Officer’s shoulders matched a Fleet Commander’s insignia, but dark brown eyes smiled at Xal under a fresh high and tight haircut. The defined jawline looked like it might cut through the air as the man walked. 

“Ah, Spaceman First Class Robinson,” Adonis said. “I see you’ve woken up from your return. What did the enemy have to say for themselves? Should we expect another attack, or was Fleet Admiral Crafton’s life enough to dissuade their advances?”

What in the hell? What kind of game is this? Xal turned his gaze to Dalton and then back to Adonis. In the shifting of his eye, Xal noticed the medic tense and took a step closer with the string at a low ready. 

“I’m sorry, Fleet Admiral,” Xal said, “but I don’t seem to recognize you.”

Dalton slapped Xal, and his face stung with a strange numbness.

“Don’t play stupid with Fleet Admiral Boon,” Third Guardian Dalton said.

The thing was, it wasn’t Elite Guardian Boon that stood in front of Xal for that moment. Adonis flickered in front of him, and the face of the Fleet Admiral shifted into Boon’s scarred face. The scars came from a firefight in Afghanistan before Boon transferred from the Army to the Space Force. The eyes didn’t match, though. Boon’s striking emerald eyes washed out with the dark brown murkiness of Adonis’s eye color. Xal realized that the assigned task, and his hope for survival, turned into more of a challenge.

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