What Truly Mattered

By Teegan

Thomas and his team had been traveling for months and had finally reached the sun-scorched sands of Arrakis. The barren planet looked like a giant ball of sand from space. Hot, dry, and windy was how their elders had described it, and so it proved to be—it was what they saw from the ship, at any rate. Kim was not thrilled by the task at hand and the “terrible” weather. She had been raised in the cold mountains of Heno, on the planet Titan. Thomas, however, felt both excited and nervous. Excited to finally get a chance at victory in this protracted war, as the prophecy had foretold, and anxious of the unknown. This was the farthest that the Titans had traveled on their voyages.

The journey to Arrakis had been strenuous, but despite the many setbacks, Titan’s Elite 4 had arrived in one piece. The spies were determined to save their planet from destruction. The ship they traveled on was a sleek, state-of-the-art vessel, capable of traversing the vast distances of space in a matter of hours. The team had refrained from using the SpaceFold vessels as their mission was secret. They had taken the dreaded longer route to Arrakis, navigating through perilous oort clouds and asteroid belts. They had finally made it after four full moons and three days, and now the mission had to be executed.

Kim, the pilot, was a skilled navigator who had spent all her life traveling the stars. She was a woman among men, a gladiator among fighters, and one of Titan’s spies. She guided the ship through the treacherous atmosphere of Arrakis, carefully avoiding any sandstorms and invader triggers set by the Harkonnen. When they finally landed in the desert close to the base where the Codex was stored, the team could see the enemy forces patrolling the perimeter. They knew that they had to be invisible, careful, and fast on this mission, to prevent alerting the guards of their presence and wake the enemy planet.

The Codex contained all of the DNA codes for Titan’s entire future population. Their civilization had moved away from biological means of reproduction; instead, genetic codes were chosen for every child, and they were grown in birth hubs. The Codex had been stolen from Titan years ago by the ruthless Harkonnen. It was now stored in a vast, underground facility, accessible only by a series of winding channels. It resembled a steel fortress with vertical and horizontal pipes running in every direction.

The spies snuck into the facility, which was guarded twenty-four hours a day, during the change in security. The four of them split into groups of two to cover as much ground as possible. Kim took Antony, a man with a godlike physique who was known for his muscles more than his intelligence. Max was a demolition expert and the smallest of the group. He quickly climbed up the ranks due to people underestimating him. Little did they know that the little man was a maniac with a cybersword. The maniac joined Thomas, a well-balanced warrior gifted with many military attributes. He was like Captain Zod, but with a good heart.

As they made their way through the tunnels, they had to bypass a series of complex security systems without triggering alarms or being detected. Max made certain of that. The Elite 4 were well prepared for this challenge, having studied the schematics of the facility in great detail for weeks.

Finally, all four of them reached the chamber where the Codex was stored. It was protected by heavy laser trigger systems as well as heavily-armed guards that were always on patrol. At the exact right moment, Thomas and his team drew their weapons on the unsuspecting guards and quickly overpowered them. It was a bloodbath. This was war: it was them or the guards, and they knew it. The Elite 4 were lethal killers and within a few minutes, they had taken the Codex.

Thomas couldn’t believe what he held in his hand, but before he could blink, he realized that he was exactly where the enemy wanted him. A group of twelve highly-trained assassins with a name I shall not mention arrived at the chamber with their weapons drawn. They were there for one reason, and that was to kill.

The Elite 4 fought bravely, weapons blazing in a desperate attempt to fend off the attackers. It was four against twelve and the odds were against the spies. The assassins were skilled but it was their numbers that gave them an upper hand. One after another, the team was slaughtered.

Anthony was the first to fall, his movements slow from the exhaustion of battle. One of the enemy’s swords pierced his thick neck from back to front and a cut to his abdomen exposed his bowels.

The three other warriors were limping, helpless to do anything but fend for their lives. Their bodies were racked with pain as the assassins mercilessly attacked. Suddenly Thomas shouted, “Plan B,” and the spies immediately knew what he meant. One of them, selected at random, had to survive to tell the tale and deliver the Codex to its rightful owners. Now Kim was closest to the exit. Within five seconds of Thomas calling out, Kim ran for her life through the exit while the two warriors tried to fend off the six remaining assassins. Two of them followed but it was too late. The moment Kim left the exit of the central chamber, the facility sealed its doors and blew up instantaneously. Dan had set up the bomb in the case of an ambush. Murphy’s law.

Only Kim managed to escape with the Codex. Her body was properly battered and bruised. The remaining team had sacrificed themselves to make sure she’d escape with the Codex. She fought to get to the ship despite breaking a leg when she jumped out. There was no time for tears: she knew she had to make sure that the mission was completed. As she escaped through the tunnels, she planted trigger bombs at every turn in case the assassins followed.

Three of the Elite team were gone for good, their bodies left to rot in the unforgiving desert sands of Arrakis, if they weren’t incinerated by the blast. Now the task was left to Kim to complete her part of the mission. It was hard for her to grasp what had just happened and what it entailed. As soon as she was on the ship, she tried to process that her captain, along with the rest of the crew, were gone.

She knew that she would be scarred for life and never forget the sacrifices of her fallen comrades, nor the terrible cost of the mission they had undertaken. Kim thought about this as she piloted the ship back to Titan. She had been a fighter all her life and she knew the vital importance of completing this mission. It was all that mattered. She smiled at last, thinking of what Thomas had told her before they reached Arrakis. He had said that in the face of insurmountable odds, heroes would always rise to the challenge, willing to sacrifice everything to save the ones they loved. The captain had made peace with dying for the cause and this had given strength to his team.

As Kim held the Codex, she couldn’t help but cry because of what they had achieved. Kim knew that the loss of Thomas and his team was a terrible blow for Titan. But she also knew that they had succeeded in their mission, retrieving the Codex, and restoring it to its rightful place.

As she looked out over the vast sea of space, she knew that the fight against evil and injustice would continue. For now, the spies had completed a great feat. And that, in the end, was what truly mattered.

21 July, 2023