Alex Kaidan: S01E01 - Paradise Lost

Being completely unable to think of a sensible name for your space ship tends to be less of a problem when there's only one ship in the whole Human 'fleet', besides Alex Kaidan only ever really borrowed it. What could be more of a problem is Earth having been paved and only a few Humans surviving, and that was only thanks to the actions of a benevolent alien race known as the Un. Alex and his crew have made it their mission to find and rescue however many Humans they can that are being held captive by any of the alien races. A mission made all the more difficult by the sad truth that a catastrophically decimated population is not an employers' market.

In this episode, Alex's attempts to save a large group of imprisoned Humans from being slightly too comfortable goes horribly wrong when Sara Heath, a member of his crew, shoots and kills a man.

“Paradise Lost” is the first episode in season 1 of the science fiction series “Alex Kaidan”.

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The return journey for Alex was tortuous, alone in the smaller shuttle, but he could only imagine the atmosphere of fear and hatred in the other one as both headed back to the ship. With Nedic security on its way and the Human prisoners now compliant, there was nothing to do except withdraw to the shuttle. He did make sure that Dann brought along the corpse of the man who had challenged Sara for a proper burial - he did not even know his name. Alex was suddenly overcome with guilt. He was the one who had hired Sara. Not that there was much choice, but still it was him who had sent her on this mission. He knew she was a shoot first, ask questions later type - he had even privately admired her attitude at times. Even so, he could not believe that Sara would kill another Human. To kill anything in cold blood (or diffusion lung-sacs, or whatever) was wrong, but to do so in front of that person's family and friends was just monstrous.

Now she was over on the other shuttle, armed, nervous no doubt, probably angry and representing what was supposed to be the best and the last of Humanity. The Human prisoners would never voluntarily join The Village now. Sara was a liability and she had to go. Worst of all, she knew Alex well enough to know that this would be exactly what he would be thinking. He just hoped that she would not do anything stupid. Er.

The Nedic did not bother them for the remainder of the trip. The shuttles passed several of their vessels, but all were bound for the stricken institute and none stopped to challenge them.

By the time Alex's smaller shuttle had docked with his ship, the larger, better powered one had been there for well over twenty minutes. He opened the shuttle's inner airlock and cool air rushed in. He made a mental note - as he always did about this time - to remember to give the ship a name. He had had it for almost two years now and the fact that it was still unnamed was beginning to get silly. He was edging towards calling it the 'Permanent Loan', but was still undecided. He initially had his heart set on the 'Kaidan Maiden' but his crew refused to paint the name onto the side of the ship until he came up with something better. It had turned out to be for the best - the amount of covert missions that they had undertaken where blending in as just another Un vessel had saved their lives since he had acquired the ship was becoming legendary back at The Village. Having 'Kaidan Maiden' plastered across the hull in Human-English lettering probably would have given the game away on more than one occasion. Besides, as the only ship in the Human fleet it did not really matter, especially as the other races did not tend to name their ships.

His thoughts were interrupted by the annoyingly chirpy voice of Liam Tsang over the transmitter, "Welcome back captain!"

Liam was a sycophant, which annoyed him, but he had still left him in charge of the ship whilst he and Dann were away. Having never gotten around to giving the crew any kind of formal rank, seniority had become sort of determined by how long each crew member had been there. He did not want to leave Liam in charge, but the only other person with the experience to pilot the ship was Sara. Had he left her behind but not in charge of the ship then questions would be asked, eyebrows raised and so on. For some reason, she was respected by the others, and it was for this reason that Alex had not gotten rid of her a long time ago. That and the lack of anything resembling a replacement. At the time, he felt his hands were tied: even if she did not try to run off with it, giving her command of the bridge would have been disastrous - but he clearly had no idea just how disastrous the decision to bring her along on the mission instead would get.

The outer airlock began to open on automatic. Normally, the first sight of the docking bay through the crack between opening airlock door and bulkhead filled his heart with joy, safe in the knowledge that he had survived another mission and now was back in the welcoming embrace of his ship. Today was different. He had been dreading this moment since he departed the institute.

"Where the hell is Sara and what has she done with the freed prisoners?" he barked at Liam

"She put them in the brig - sounded a bit weird but she said it was your idea. I guess she's still there with them".

"Liam, we don't have a brig. We've never had a brig. All we have is a padlock."

"Yes, sir. Sorry, Captain Kaidan"

"And stop calling me sir," he added bitterly as he started off towards the only cargo hold they had with a working door on it.

Well before he reached the ‘brig’, he could hear Sara shouting at Dann. When he got there, Sara had her back to the entrance and was trying to convince him that the prisoners should remain that way until they pass a loyalty test, all the time gesticulating wildly with her unholstered gun.

Alex took out his pistol for the second time that day, walked up behind Sara and placed it firmly against her head. She had not noticed his approach over the shouting.

She froze as he calmly said, "Would you like to explain to me why you're waving your gun around near my second in command and our new guests?"

"You don't know what's happening here, Alex."

"No I don't, but that's what happens when my crew don't follow orders and then start shooting unarmed civilians"

"He was threatening to call in the Nedic."

"And so you shot him?!"

"I made a command decision. Now please remove the gun from my head. It's very unprofessional"

"How could you have made a command decision when you weren't in command? Dann was in command; you were supposed to be on lookout. You shouldn't have even been there. So no, I won't remove this gun from your head because you deserve to share the same fate as the man you shot in cold blood."

As he was talking Dann had slowly and deliberately approached her and she allowed him to take the weapon from her hand. The sudden and mass relief that emanated from the crowd was visible.

Alex then added, "Unless, of course, you can convince me of a compelling reason why you were forced to do so?"

"I already told you. He said that he would tell the Nedic that we were there"

"And you tried to talk him out of it for how long before killing him?"

She began to fidget with her now empty hands and looked uncomfortable. Alex knew her well enough to know that she had probably managed to convince herself that what she had done was for the greater good. He also knew that now that she was disarmed and no longer in control, this illusion would break down as she could no longer hide from the consequences of her actions.

"I tried to convince him..."

The atmosphere of the crowd silently intensified as if they all had clenched their fists and gritted their teeth simultaneously.

"Not from what I could hear and I'm sure one or two of these people may disagree with your version"

Can we talk about this in private?”

No”

"Look, I just panicked, okay?"

"Not okay, Sara. A man is dead. And we don't have many of them left"

"I'll make it right," she whispered, hoarsely.

Alex looked at Dann, "Confine her to her cabin for her own safety until we work out what to do with her"

"Yes, boss"

Dann escorted her away at gunpoint using her own weapon, leaving Alex to face the crowd alone.

Now that he was able to divert his attention from Sara, he scanned his eyes around the room and estimated that there must be close to a hundred of them. A massive number for Humans. There were young children and a few middle aged people. There were not many old people, strangely. It was a fairly even split between men and women.

Somebody in the crowd coughed politely and he realised he was just stood there, staring. Now came the moment he had been dreading. He looked up and addressed the expectant crowd, "Hello," he started, only to stop immediately when his voice exited his mouth at a significantly squeakier pitch than normal.

He silently cursed his nerves, muttered an apology, and cleared his throat before trying again, "Hello, my name is Alex Kaidan. I am the captain of this, the first and only Human ship capable of FTL. I would like to -" he stopped after realising that he had missed a bit, and backtracked, "Oh, that's faster than light, by the way. So - oh hang on. You do speak Human-English don't you? Not Nedic?"

"We can understand both," came a tired female voice from the crowd, "But we can only speak English"

It was a stupid question, he realised. Sara had been talking to them in Human-English and he had already heard their voices over the communications channel.

"Right. Good. Well then, I would like to extend my welcome to you aboard this ship and invite you to join us at the Human colony of New Earth, or The Village as we like to call it"

If he were asked there and then to pick a word to describe the feelings expressed by a typical face in that audience he would have picked 'incredulity', although he might have had to look up the spelling first.

"On a more, um, specific level, I would like to apologise for the way in which you have been treated and say that I'm so sorry for your loss. This should not have happened - our intention was to liberate you from your captors. No matter how comfortable you were, they were still holding you prisoner. Sara - that woman - was not following orders when she did what she did. In fact, she was told to be somewhere else. Now a man is dead and she will be put on trial. In the meanwhile, basic sleeping accommodation has been set up on a different cargo hold and you'll be pleased to hear that its door doesn't lock. You have the run of the ship and please consider yourselves our guests."

A young woman stepped forward. The same one as had spoken previously, "That's it? ‘Sorry’? We don't consider ourselves your guests - we consider ourselves your hostages. Take us back!"

Alex thought that she could be beautiful if she held herself with a little more confidence. She currently seemed to slouch in an unattractive manner.

Are you the nominated spokesperson for the group?”

"My name is Eleni; the man you shot was called Jens. He was the spokesperson for our group when dealing with the Nedic so now we don’t have a spokesperson. He was also my father."

Alex now felt doubly guilty. A single tear rolled down the right side of her face.

"I ..." was all he was able to muster.

We just want to go home”

He sighed, "We can't. Even if we wanted to. We sabotaged the institute so that we could free you. It will soon be destroyed so you can’t go back there, and we certainly won’t take you to a Nedic planet because it would no doubt result in our capture and probably our death."

"The Nedic aren't like that. They're our friends. They'd let you leave if we asked them to"

"Look, under the circumstances I understand why you wouldn't have much faith in your own species about now, but you can’t trust the Nedic. Just because they’ve been good to you - just because you were having a whale of a time on your orbital pleasure palace - it doesn’t mean that they’ve got your best interests at whatever they have that passes for a heart."

"What are you talking about?"

"We don’t know if they were keeping you as their guests as you claim, or if it was part of an experiment, hell, you could even be their pets for all we know. As far as we can work out from the intel we managed to gather before we came here, the Nedic abducted your distant grandparents from Earth back when it was still there. Now I don’t know if you’ve heard, but now it’s gone and Humanity’s a dying breed. We're gonna have a real problem with inbreeding and genetic disease in a few years time and could really do with some new blood - quite literally - if our race is going to survive then we need to all band together"

And this is what you call 'banding together'?"

"No it's not. It's completely the opposite. It's a member of my crew going off the rails and killing another Human and it's something that I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life. She shouldn't've been there. She shouldn't've even been on my crew in the first place, but there's so few of us left and we don't exactly have a queue of people lining up to replace her."

He was aware that he was ranting to a woman who had just lost her father, but he was also trying to vindicate himself from what happened to the others and probably also to himself, "I know you've suffered a tragic loss. I know it’s because of our actions, but you must believe us when we tell you that we only did it because we are desperate. The Earth has been destroyed. That probably means nothing to you."

"Oh, I don't know. I'd say we're pretty well placed to understanding what it feels like to lose our home"

"Look, if I'd known what she'd do..." His voice dropped to a whisper and he looked her straight in the eye, "If I'd had any idea..."

She didn't answer. Neither of them spoke for several seconds, although to Alex and many others in the crowd, it felt much longer. Eleni just stared at Alex while he stared at his feet.

"What's a whale?" A child near the front of the crowd asked, innocently.

His mother shushed him. Alex looked up at the boy and quietly admitted, "I've no idea"

He addressed the whole crowd once more, but avoiding looking at Eleni (who was probably still staring at him), "Please try to make yourselves comfortable while we try to sort this mess out as best we can. I'll be back soon"

With that he turned and walked out, all the while feeling as if he was running away. Probably because he was.

As he turned into the corridor he heard the boy once more, "Mummy, do they have a swimming pool here?"

"I don't think so, dear," she replied.


 


 


 


 

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