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Andreas Flogel

For The Sake Of The Mission

by Andreas Flögel

Jorgens and Krem patrolled the hydroponic area of the generation-spaceship Mighty Endeavour. No critter sightings were known in this region of the ship. It seemed that these creatures were not interested in plants or human food, but solely in humans.
Jorgens was animated as he shared the events of the previous night. He had hoped to catch the attention of Ensign Carmen Gomez but failed utterly. Krem chuckled, thinking that Gomez could do way better than hooking up with Jorgens. 

Something hit Jorgens in the shoulder, jerking him around, his assault rifle slamming to the ground and sliding across the floor.

Krem ducked behind a crate. Critters! A flash at the end of the corridor told him the location of the alien. He fired a shot but wasn’t fast enough.

 “Bollocks! Are you okay, Jorgens?”

“More or less, Sergeant. The arm feels paralyzed.”

Krem concentrated on the far side of the corridor, hoping for another shot. Good thing they were in an area where the use of kinetic weapons was okay. No shootings in the red zones, e.g., in the engine rooms or near the hull of the ship. But this corridor was green all over. So Krem would kill this pest with all the firepower he had. 

It started two or three generations ago. Some alien life form entered the ship. No one had the slightest idea how they achieved this or even what they wanted.

They ambushed people who were alone or in small groups. Attacked them by shooting pointy bolts made of ordinary steel or even killing their victims by stabbing them with their long, spidery legs. They did not differentiate. Military personnel or civilians, adults or children. All could fall prey to them.

Those critters looked like dog-sized robo-spiders and their bodies consisted of metal and electrical circuits. Nevertheless, one could stop them, best with a well-aimed shot. Whenever you killed one of them it immediately started dissolving, leaving no corps but only some metallic ash. Everyone on the ship got told to keep their distance from the remains. Those were said to be toxic.

In addition to regular patrols, the military command ordered the formation of search teams tasked with locating the hideouts or nests of the critters. However, the aliens proved to be incredibly elusive. The searches did not achieve any significant breakthroughs or successful discoveries.

Waiting, rifle at the ready, Krem heard Jorgens radioing HQ. They wanted to send reinforcements.

Krem shook his head.

“Everything is under control. We’ll let you know if we need support.” 

Krem knew that they were glorified janitors on this ship, not real soldiers. No need for any combat at least until landfall when they had to secure the settlers and their settlements. But that was centuries away. Critter hunting was the only action they would see before they were dust. And Krem would not let this chance get taken away from him by a group of grunts, all as eager to score as he himself.

The beast came out of hiding for a moment to send a bolt in Krem’s direction. But the soldier was ready and caught the critter full on. Bullseye!

The dissolving of the alien was quite a spectacle. Krem would not miss it. Something wrapped around the critter’s body. It lit up, then disintegrated into smaller parts, which also fell apart. In the end, only a pile of brown ash and some smoke remained. 

“Hey, Jorgens. Got it! Did you see?”

Krem turned to his buddy and was shocked to see a second critter attacking from the other side. It fired several bolts in Krem’s direction as it charged toward Jorgens, who, unaware of the attack, looked for his rifle.

Krem shouted a warning and ducked away.  

Jorgens jumped, but the critter stabbed him with one of its legs. Krem fired several shots.

Jorgens broke down over the critter, pressing it to the ground with his body when the dissolving started. An awful smell of burnt flesh filled the room, accompanied by Jorgens’ screams.

After a short time, everything was over. Only silence and the smell remained. Jorgens lay motionless on his front. Krem rolled him onto his back. The big hole with the charred edge in his friend’s torso was not the only thing that made his bile rise. 


“I brought you a gift, Major.”

Krem’s throat hurt, but he ignored it. He slapped the thing on Major Belkin’s desk. The officer didn’t even look at it.

Krem’s anger grew.

“That’s not alien! It consists of the same electric parts we are using.”

The Major let out a sigh.

“I assume, Corporal Jorgens body was in contact with the critter when it dissolved, Sergeant?”

He did not wait for an answer.

“So many years, and they still haven’t found a solution to this problem. The disintegration process is a masterpiece of engineering but contact with a large organic object causes it to fail.” 

Krem was shocked.

“You’re not even trying to deny it, Major? You know the critters are built by humans … by us? But why?”

“This ship’s too damn safe, Sergeant. That’s the problem,” the major growled. “Folks get complacent with nothing to threaten them generation after generation. Accidents and cabin fever don’t cut it. Without real threats nipping at their heels every damn day, people are no longer fit for a destination, where we do not know what awaits us. Carelessness could get us killed and destroy our mission.” 

Krem felt dizzy.

“We are not careless!” he said through gritted teeth.

The major laughed drily. “If your mind had been on the patrol, would those critters have gotten the jump on you?”

Krem clenched his fists but said nothing.

“And if you hadn’t waved off backup, maybe young Jorgens would still be breathing.” The major blew a smoke ring. “But I guess you wanted all the glory for yourself.”

“But people got killed. Soldiers, civilians, even children.”

Krem gasped for air, felt he could not breathe.

“The critters are needed as enemies, to keep everyone alarmed. This incident, the knowledge that two of our soldiers died from a critter attack helps with that.”

“Two? But I am alive. And don’t try to kill me to cover up your doings. People have seen me after the attack.”

“Try killing you, Sergeant? But you already did that yourself. You were warned to keep your distance from the critter-remains. The poison is already in your body. As I said, careless.”  

Krem slumped down, his eyes becoming glassy. It wasn’t clear whether he still heard the Major’s words.

“Hopefully this will keep others away from undissolved critter-parts, for a while at least. Thank you for your service, Sergeant. Your death is a valued contribution to our mission.”



Andreas Flögel is a German author with a passion for exploring multiple literary genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, and fairy tales. His fiction has been published in anthologies and magazines in both German and English. Recent credits include stories in Dark Moments, Flashpoint SF, Trembling with Fear, Stygian Lepus, and various anthology collections. For additional information see his website:

Philosophy Note:

The idea of a generation ship has always fascinated me. But living in such a secure environment for generations raises questions—will the inhabitants become complacent over time and unfit for the challenges of colonising an unknown world? My story explores philosophical issues including:

  • Can immoral acts be justified for the “greater good”?
  • Is it ethical to deceive people and endanger them without consent?
  • How much freedom should individuals surrender to ensure a society’s long-term survival?

Rather than provide answers, I want to stimulate reflection on these timely questions relevant to our world today.