Chapter 43 ATLAS Surrender
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Atlas stood next to Icarus in Trillion’s dimly lit war room – a cleared out zone in her hangar. The three of them were watching the battle unfold. The room was lit up by the blue hapticgraphic projections of Trillion’s force and the armada from Sol colliding.

Atlas watched as more and more of Trillions ships turned red. About a third of her force had been destroyed and Sol hadn’t lost a single spacecraft yet. She was running out of time, and he couldn’t do anything but watch.

Atlas heard the ping that signalled he had received a private message. It asked him to meet back at his spacecraft. He didn’t know who it was. He needed to leave the room discreetly and quickly – if it was Ship or Lex it might be something urgent.

He excused himself, telling a white lie, as he didn’t want to worry Trillion. He needed to be there supporting her right until the end. “I’ve got an idea. I’ll be right back.”

He teleported out of the hangar and into his office. Waiting on the other side was Icarus.

“Atlas, she needs to surrender,” warned Icarus, unable to hide the stress in his voice.

Atlas took a step back. “How are you here?”

“Oh, it’s just Ship controlling my avatar over there. This is the real me,” Icarus responded.

Atlas had thought Icarus had been a little too quiet before – this explained why. He hadn’t realised having Ship control another avatar was possible. He made a mental note to write a script to flag whenever Icarus did that trick again.

“We’ll never be able to convince her to surrender,” Atlas said.

“We don’t need her to agree.”

Atlas raised an eyebrow.

“You still have access to her systems. You could send a message from her saying she surrenders.”

“That sounds like a breach of trust.”

“At this point, she doesn’t have a choice,” Icarus said, a little frustrated. “The fight is so one-sided it’s embarrassing. Every second this continues increases the odds that some stray object hits the moon she is on.”

Icarus bent forward, a conspiratorial look on his face. “Space warfare isn’t what I thought it would be,” he said whispering. He made a turning motion with his hand, as if he was turning up the volume. “We should speed up this conversation. Let’s discuss this quickly before we run out of time.”

The world around Atlas slowed.

“So can you do it? Can you send a message to surrender?”

Atlas thought about it for a good long while. He didn’t want to break Trillion’s trust, but he also hated the idea of his friend being hurt.

Icarus interrupted his thinking. “Either you surrender for her now, or we risk losing her forever. She’s practically immortal, it’s not like it matters if she spends 100 years in jail. But it matters if she gets killed on the battlefield today.”

Atlas reluctantly agreed. He sent the command off to his Ship to send the message.

The wait was excruciating. After what felt like forever, Ship entered the room. “We received a message.”

“Is the war over?” Icarus said.

Ship just shook his head and played the message.

Too late.”

“What else is there?” Atlas asked. “That can’t be everything.”

“It was pre-recorded. Same as the original message. Like this was always going to be the response to our surrender. I guess that makes sense if these spacecrafts are all automated.”

Atlas replayed the message once more. He could hear a smile on the face of General Walker this time. ‘Too late’. As if that was always going to be the response and she was happy with that. As if this was always the plan. Atlas remembered back to that day they left Mars. Him and the team had embarrassed her by escaping. They had probably been the one blemish on her perfect record. And now this was her exacting revenge on them. “I bet she always planned for a war. I bet she’s hoping to destroy us by mistake. Accidental deaths in making sure Earth doesn’t dirty the galaxy with humans. Casualties of war.”

Atlas got angry just thinking about it. Then sad because it meant Trillion probably was going to be that casualty.