Read Chrono Virus Online

Authors: Aaron Crocco

Chrono Virus (5 page)

Something within Ken suddenly took over and he ran toward the capsules. Through the paralyzing fear of the haze, Ken had a sliver of thought to get out of there, even though the overwhelming haze was close to rendering him unconscious. He managed to escape it with a quick burst of speed. It only took him a moment to regain focus and keep up the pace. After a few strides, he glanced behind and saw the haze contracting all the loose particles into itself. The tight ball of energy shot forward in pursuit. Ken turned a quick left-right bend in the corridor. The escape pods were in sight, just twenty feet down, and a lone green light hung above an elongated hexagonal opening. It only lit when the ship was in danger, and in a sea of red, it was an oasis for Ken's fear. Ken sprinted the last several strides. The loud clangs of his boots on the grated floor rang out each heavy step. His breathing kept in sync with his feet. He was a marathon runner on the home stretch.

The buzzing returned. It faded in quick, and like a club hitting him from behind, Ken slammed into the deck from the hard blow. His gaze slid forward, and he spotted the pod just five feet away. Ken rolled onto his back. The haze hovered over him. It dropped over his face and overloaded his senses. Ken breathed fast as the haze entered his mouth, nostrils, and ears. Over the loud buzzing, he heard the Raven's announcement system come online.

"Self destruct sequence deactivated. Repeat: self destruct sequence deactivated."

The horror of what the haze had done only lasted a second as reality on the Raven slipped away.

"That's two," a voice snarled into Ken's left ear.

Ken jumped from the words. The room faded in through rapid blinking. Brown support beams lined a cement room under construction. A single light hung in the center where a man stood—Azim, he remembered. He spoke to both Ken and the man to his left, a younger Ken Mallory. It took him a second to realize they both were tied to chairs. Azim's associates stood in the shadows like stone statues waiting to spring into action the moment Azim blinked the command. Young Mallory coughed violently before throwing up a small pool of bile onto the ground. A slight burning fired in Ken's throat. He wanted to think it was from what he'd just seen but it was just the ripple effect from his younger self catching up with him.

"I have a third shot ready, agis," Azim said, using his home world slang for 'friend'. The pirate held up his vintage-style cartridge blaster. The weapon was a throwback to the old Earth revolver guns, but used powerful laser cartridges instead of weak metal bullets. He'd loaded one cartridge into the blaster, spun the cylinder, and snapped it closed. Ken watched Azim lower it to his counterpart's head. "Now, where is the qit load being stored?"

"I don't know! I don't know! I don't know!" he cried.

"It's true!" Ken shouted. "He doesn't know where the qit is." He regretted the move instantly as one of the thugs moved in and punched him in the gut. Azim approached Ken now doubled-over and gasping for air.

"Really, now, agis?" His voice was almost soothing. "So then you know where the qit is."

All Ken could do was cough. He didn't know back then where the money was, and that hadn't changed years later. The pirate was a legend among the transport ships and the fact that he'd personally come aboard their ship was a testament to his determination for the stash of qit he demanded. This time though Ken had one large advantage over Azim: he knew the first four slots on the blaster were empty. The ship's security would storm in after that and end this.

Ken pulled himself upright and looked Azim in the eye. "No. I don't know where the qit is because there isn't any. The Logan is a cargo ship if you hadn't noticed."

Azim smirked. "Or so your captain told you. I've seen the manifests and they're clearly fabricated. The only reason to do that is when qit is involved in your activities. So I will ask you both a third time: where is it?" He leveled the weapon at Ken.

Ken didn't answer. His hands trembled even though he knew the weapon wouldn't kill him. Azim cocked his head to the side and locked eyes with Ken. He pulled the trigger.

A short buzz sounded from the weapon, indicating no cartridge in the chamber.

"He's right!" the younger Mallory called out. "I don't know anything about any money."

Ken was glad to see himself speak with a little more confidence, but this whole situation was so wrong. There were never two people being held by Azim, and Ken knew that his being there was changing everything as it happened. A wave of fear blanketed him as he understood the consequence of being in the room with his younger self. The shots of Azim's blaster were coming faster than he'd remembered. He wasn't sure how long after the forth shot it took before he was rescued, but he was sure a third shot hadn't occurred yet.

Azim spun away from the younger Mallory's words, blaster aimed at Ken. "Agis, you know what I'm looking for and where it’s located. Let's just end this now and you both go free, right?"

No one spoke for a moment though Ken thought he could hear his heartbeat racing in sync with his other self. Anger fell over Azim’s face and without warning he sighed and pulled the trigger. Over his double's scream the blaster let out another buzz of an empty chamber. Immediately, he pulled the trigger again at Ken. It was the fifth shot, an unknown one. Ken cringed and the weapon rang its familiar sound.

Ken remembered the weapon held only eight cartridges. Three shots left.

Azim's posture softened. "I'm growing tired of this game, agis. You tell me about the qit or we end this now."

Ken glanced toward the door between the thugs and waited for the rescue that saved him all those years ago. A rescue that let him see Lindsey grow up and a rescue that eventually brought him to the Raven. The door didn't budge. There was no echo of boots coming down the hall. He thought back to Watts and what Hubs told him back on the ship. He knew this time they weren't coming. It was then that he felt the rope around his ankles loosen. The knot hadn't been tied tight enough and it began to slip.

"Take me," Ken yelled to Azim.

"And why's that?" Azim trained the gun his way.

"Look at him," Ken cocked his head toward his counterpart. "He's still got years ahead of him. He's young and stupid. You want to kill someone, kill me."

Azim’s laugh echoed around the unfinished room aboard the Logan. "I don't know if killing you will be as satisfying, agis. You... you're not as scared as him." The pirate gestured to the regurgitated puddle on the floor.

"Perhaps," Ken said. "But, consider that I'm going to attack you."

Azim frowned and Ken sprung to his feet, his arms and torso still bound to the chair. He rushed toward Azim with his freed feet. He ducked his head and slammed into Azim's chest. The pair hit the ground, Ken's muscles screaming from pain. The chair twisted his bound limbs in almost impossible directions. It took only one shove from the pirate to roll Ken off of him. Azim caught his breath, but a second later, he was on his feet again, blaster pointed down, inches from Ken's eyes.

"You will regret that, agis."

"I'm not your friend, Azim," Ken spewed the defiance.

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way... Stephen," he called to one of the thugs. In a fluid motion the burly man revealed his blaster and tossed it toward Azim who caught it mid-air. He didn't skip a beat. He flicked the second weapon's safety off, ready to fire an instant after the catch.He pointed the blaster at Ken’s face, while the barrel of the revolver swung toward the younger Mallory.

"We end this game," Azim said.

Azim smiled at Ken and pulled the trigger on the revolver. It buzzed as if it were empty, but then Azim’s grin widened. The long-delayed shot rang out of the weapon. The impact caused young Mallory’s chair to fall back, the boy dead before he even hit the ground.

"No!" Ken shouted.

The shout ended abruptly when Azim pulled the blaster’s trigger.

Ken fell limp to the right, his wide, lifeless eyes looking out into infinity.

Five feet from the entrance to the escape pods, the life within the motionless body of Ken Mallory slipped away as the unmanned Raven continued its course toward Cogan. The engines didn't stop firing and the ship still crawled through space at sub-light speed. The haze hovered over Ken Mallory until the last beat of his heart. The second he was dead the entity swooped up and flew down the Raven's long corridor and onto the bridge. The equipment sprung to life, sensing the presence of a life form. The communications console blinked with an incoming transmission. Thirty seconds passed and the auto-play kicked in.

Static rang out along the empty bridge, until the crackling
dissipated, and a man cleared his throat.

"To anyone listening to this message, I am Captain Hue McDowell of the Horizon. It is 2384 and we've encountered a devastating entity on our ship. While traveling through the Galeen system, the Horizon hit a form of space turbulence. While this is normally attributed to FTL ripples in space, there are no such spots in Galeen. Soon thereafter my crew began dying across the ship.

The turbulence allowed a purple-colored cloud to enter the Horizon through the outer vents. This cloud is intelligent. I cannot stress this enough. It's capable of killing people, but through time manipulation. My helmsman was lucky enough to survive an attack from this cloud and reported being sent back to a moment in his past that nearly killed him. We've concluded that this cloud is trying to spread to other ships and does so by creating emergency situations for other ships to respond to.

I don't know if this is accurate, but we're not taking any chances. Before sitting to record this message I gave the order to abandon ship. I also have initiated the Horizon's self-destruct to go off in one hour. If for any reason this doesn't happen, I must implore you to not come aboard. Do not make any attempts to save us. This thing cannot be stopped and I cannot allow any other ships to get infected."

An alert rang out in the background of the audio transmission. "Self destruct sequence aborted."

The captain was heard sighing at the message.

"This is the third time this cloud's disabled the self destruct. I don't know if we'll be able to achieve our goal, but I'm sure as hell going to try."

"Captain!" an urgent voice called out.

"Yes, Mr. James."

"It's Gibbons, sir. She's dead."

Another sigh. "Damnit. I'll be right there."

A door closed in the distance.

"That was my navigator. I need to tend to what's left of my crew. May Higher One save us all. This is Hue McDowell of the ship Horizon, signing off."

Static rang out once more. A few seconds later the message repeated itself. The haze swarmed over the bridge equipment and powered it all down. One by one each system of the Raven went dormant except for the engines and navigation. The Raven would continue its course to Cogan on schedule, ready to be docked with a station full of new people to infect in 53 short days.

Thank you for reading Chrono Virus.

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Copious Notes

Please know that all creative endeavors take time, dedication, and hard work. This is no different for me. I feel this book has a fair price and I strive to have it available in as many formats as possible so everyone can enjoy it. I also do not use any DRM (unless mandated by the distributing platform) because I believe that companies who treat customers as thieves benefits no one. If you purchased this book you have my utmost gratitude. However I do know there are many ways to acquire creative works.

If you’ve acquired this book for free through alternative methods, I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading it and ask that you tell a friend. You can make this copy legit by making a donation at
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I’m keeping it short and sweet on this book. A big thanks to: Brooke Johnson, Eric Hubbel, Lindesy Clements, Meg Winkler, Rachel Desilets, Andrea Trask, Sarah Rios, Judy, and Marc.

About the Author

Aaron Crocco can be summed up as a writer and a podcaster, but complicating issues further is the fact that he's a huge geek, Apple fanboy and loves Back to the Future so much that he owns a Delorean. In the mid-2000

s his writing spark was reignited and he's been tearing up the keyboard ever since, slinging words all over the place. Aaron's apocalyptic debut series AS DARKNESS ENDS explores the end of the world from many points of view. His short story PARADOX was published in November, 2011. He hails from Long Island, NY, the home of fishing, hockey, and Billy Joel. Aaron enjoys hockey, rock and roll, way too much ice cream, Nutella, and coffee. He can be found at

Chrono Virus

Copyright © 2012 by Aaron Crocco

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law. Reviewers may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover by Eric Hubbel

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