Gal Bartfeld

Pandora’s End

“NO! It’s not a dust cloud, you idiot!” David’s commander told David. Look at it! It’s a mob!”

“It couldn’t be. It’s too big,” David exclaimed.

“Crap,” someone said “How did they get such numbers?” There was no need to say the obvious. They couldn’t hold the line against such numbers with their rifles.
The mob of prisoners came closer like an army of fire ants, ready to consume everything like locusts.

“Call reinforcements now!” the commander shouted at the person charged with the transmitter. The troops rushed to their firing positions, grabbing their guns for a desperate defense. They shoot so much the air was heavy with ozone gas.

“They can’t send anyone, sir! They are attacking all fronts!” The commander didn’t waste a second.

“Man all positions NOW!” he ordered his troops.

It was hopeless. David and his comrades tried to repel the attackers, but for every person they killed, 5 more emerged. Firefights raged everywhere, and soon David and his friends could see the whites in the eyes of the prisoners. At the end, the outpost was overrun. Someone yelled, “Everyone retreat!” and everyone ran. Then, David felt a club hitting his head and everything went black.

                                                        * * *

The judge stared stunned at the message. Planet Pandora V was reduced to a bunch of asteroids floating in space. He could remember the last time he sentenced someone to that place.
The judge spoke: “After hearing the evidence, I find Samuel Julian, AKA Man Torak, guilty in a rampage that killed 4 people, injured 5 Planetary Guard officers, and destroyed property worth of 50,000 Imperial Credits.“

In his godlike position in his elevated seat, the judge was playing with the balance statue on his desk. “The defendant is sentenced to be sent to planet Pandora Talate VI,” said the judge in an ice-cold voice. Torrak was taken downstairs to the prison chambers.

“You can’t keep me like this forever! One day, you’ll hear from me again, and this building won’t be the last thing I will explode! I will have the last laugh!” Torak said in anger.

                                                        * * *

It was 6 AM, and the sun was already blazing on the walls of outpost 97. Sergeant David, one of the outpost’s residents, was awake since 5. He read from his bible about the fall of Jericho.

He heard the rest of the troops waking up. This was another ordinary day on Pandora. He took a look from the outpost. He saw nothing but sand. Sand and… He struggled to see the black shape in the horizon. It looked awkward and out of place.

“No, just a cloud of dust,” he said to himself. At this time the rest of the troops were awake. David proceeded to put on his body armor, his best protection from the sun and took his laser rifle. Out of all the planets he has been to, this was the worst. Ever. He would never want to live and die on it. Serving was bad enough.

But this nightmare could soon be over. David knew that in just 5 more months he and his units would be out of this stinking hole forever. He would never have to wake up under the sun, nor carry patrols knowing every man you and your squad passed had killed quite a few people. He remembered the times his mom got mad at him when he was little and told him she’ll send him to Pandora.

                                                        * * *

It took Torak little time to understand the life facts on Pandora. There wasn’t enough food, so gang wars broke out. Torak wondered why a big enough riot never broke out, as he estimated that the number of policemen on the planet was low. He would change that. He would take over a big gang and unite the prisoners…

When David woke up, all he could see was the corpses of his friends. The prisoners were running amok in the spaceport, looting everything. He could see them firing looted blasters to the sky. Some prisoners even took the helmets his friends wore and wore them themselves, mocking the past wearers.  David didn’t see anyone of his friends alive. There was no way to get to orbit, and no one knew who was alive. He was as insignificant as a particle of dust. David didn’t know what to do now, but then he knew: he had to avenge his friends. He would have the last laugh. He was heading to the orbital transmitter under the cover of the already approaching darkness.

David approached the transmitter.  He saw the switch that can bring justice to this cursed world. He came closer, but then he heard a voice behind him. He pushed the switch. David remembered the first time he had been in this building, about four months after his company came to this planet. It was his unit’s turn to guard it. He knew how to operate this doomsday device, in the case of a prison riot brake. The neutron bomb orbiting the planet would soon explode, and he would have peace.

“Not so fast,” said a harsh voice. It was Torak. “Did you seriously think you’d escape from the fate of your comrades?” David readied his blaster, but Torak had one of his own. The smell of blood was blending with the smell of ozone. David felt life squeezing out of him.

“Soon,” David said in his last strength, “I will die. And you’ll join me.”.

Torak wanted to go away, but he couldn’t. There seemed to be some horrible prophecy hidden in the dead man’s words.

In his insane happiness, David said, “Abraham asked God if he would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there were ten righteous people within it, but there wasn’t, and God dropped fire and sulfur on the city.” Then David died, and 10 seconds later, Pandora VI was no more.


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