Relayhttps://relay.sc/feed/fiction/atom2017-02-21T12:01:59+00:00https://relay.sc/fiction/tic-talk-tonight-elias-portwinTic-Talk Tonight: Elias Portwin2017-02-15T17:00:00+00:002017-02-15T17:50:16+00:00StormyWintershttps://relay.sc/contributor/StormyWinters Welcome to the newest edition of Tic-Talk, the transcript that follows is the full interview as conducted by Indira Nooyi with our guest interviewee, Elias Portwin, captain and operator of the Bolide. Interview was carried out at the Central Advocacy Detention Centre in the Ferron system on February 14, 2947.
Indira Nooyi(IN): Good evening and welcome to another edition of Tic-Talk, I’m your host for the evening Indira Nooyi and with me tonight I have the captain and operator of the mining ship, the Bolide. Thank you for granting us this interview, Mr. Portwin.
Elias Portwin(EP): Uh… It’s my pleasure ma’am. It’s just good to be able to tell my side, you know?
IN: Indeed and we are looking forward to giving you the opportunity to tell your side. Now… Mr. Portwin, please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you become a miner? A few personal details of that nature.
EP: I’m from Tram, on Asura, here in Ferron. Things are tough there… but there’s still a lot of mining know how to go around. My family were some of the lucky ones, still have a bit of money. My parents made a living off of refurbishing and selling used mining equipment. I worked with my folks until I had enough credits for my beautiful Bolide.
IN: Thank you. For those folks unfamiliar with the events that have brought you here tonight. Could you in your own words give our viewing audience a little backstory on what happened?
EP: Well, ya see, I’d had a few run-ins with the Chomper crew. They were always tailin’ me, because I actually know how to find the veins. They’re a gang of talentless thieves, they are.
Anyhow, I had uncovered this beauty cluster of platinum asteroids here in Ferron and I was ‘bout to start up my drillin’ when along came the fuckin’... wait, can I swear?
IN: Well, this is a live feed and would prefer if you kept it to a general tone in terms of language, please continue. You mentioned a vein of platinum...
EP: Yeah… yeah. I’d found some nice platinum asteroids out on the ragged edges of Ferron. Along came Chomper to try to push me out. Ya see, Orions have weapons. Not much a little Prospector like Bolide can do to defend a claim. I sure don’t have the credits to hire mercs.
I had had enough, ya know? It’s hard enough gettin’ by out there in the black all by your lonesome without a monstrosity like that breathin’ down your neck. So I decided to do something about it.
IN: I see, but Ferron is a system open to trades like miners such as yourself to scout and claim these precious resources. So the Chomper, Orion mining vessel, had equal opportunity and rights to chase the same veins of resources you yourself were. I guess my question would then be, did you consider what it would mean for yourself if you decided to take the situation into your own hands?
EP: With all due respect Ms. Nooyi, I don’t think you know what it’s like out there. Code among miners is that if you discover a claim and are actively mining, that’s yours. Full stop. They just waltzed in there throwing their weight around… like they always do. Did I consider what it would mean when I ruffled their feathers? Honestly, not really ma’am. I was angry and fed up.
IN: Such rash action has in turn brought you into Advocacy custody waiting to hear whether or not charges are going to be laid against you or more than likely what charges will be brought forward. So in your eyes, was it worth it in the end?
EP: You don’t pull your punches, do ya miss? I… well, you know, at the time it was pretty rewarding to finally get a chance to stand up for myself. But I know it was wrong. And was it worth it, really? No… not in the end.
IN: Just for the record, do you know of or are you acquaintances with the Chomper’s captain? I know in some of these industries you run across the same people from time to time. It wouldn't take much to build a small personal grudge if one was rubbed the wrong way on a prior occasion.
EP: Yeah, I know him. As I said, we’ve had some run-ins. He’s always on me because I’m good… makes the life of his crew easy to use me as a dowsing rod. We’ve had words… many times. I was tired of bein’ used.
IN: It would then not be much of a stretch to say that this was more or less a simmering pot ready to boil over. I can understand how frustrating this whole situation could have been for you and in the end I think you can probably count yourself lucky no lives were lost during this incident.
Now that we heard your version of events in your own words, I would like to just get some clarification on how things unfolded. To my knowledge, it was stated that you maneuvered an asteroid into the Chomper which then caused significant damage. Could you please elaborate for me not only how you managed that but what gave you the idea in the first place?
EP: Yes ma’am. Well, you see… I love the Bolide but she comes equipped with just the one set of small guns up front. Not much protection and completely useless to actually attack anything. So I had to come up with somethin’ more… improvised.
I discovered awhile back that if you pour energy into your front shields and are very gentle with the initial contact, you can actually push asteroids with the Bolide. I settled her nose into an impact crater on an asteroid about half the size of the Orion. I poured my power into shields, engines, and a bit into the tractor to keep the rock tight to the shields… and I pushed it right into Chomper. Those Orions are like freakin’ space whales. They can’t move worth sh… uh… worth anything.
It smashed right into them, wrecked their engines before they could do anything about it. I knew I want you to know… I knew it wouldn’t destroy them. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to push back a bit… stand up for myself.
IN: Since you’ve now had a chance to tell your side of the story, what was your reasoning for accepting this interview? Aren’t you concerned the information you gave today can be used to incriminate you?
EP: Ms. Nooyi, I haven’t hidden anything. The sensor data from Chomper, the sensor data from Bolide. It’s clear what happened. I’m not going to avoid punishment. I hope that the judge in my case will take into account the history involved but there’s no need to try and twist the truth. I’m glad no one was hurt. I just wanted a chance to tell folks my side of what happened. Thank you for giving me that chance ma’am.
IN: Thank you for sitting down with me this evening, I do wish you the best of luck going forward. I’m Indira Nooyi and this has been another edition of Tic-Talk, thanks for joining us and see you next week. https://relay.sc/fiction/aliveAlive 2017-02-01T18:03:00+00:002017-02-01T18:47:17+00:00Nehkarahttps://relay.sc/contributor/Nehkara January 01, 2947
Today Griff and I were attacked again by the Vanduul. 4 Scythes and a Glaive. We lost our ability to quantum yesterday. I got a distress call out, full power, but we can only hold them off so long. I hope it’s long enough.
January 02, 2947 at 14:09
Our long range scanners are detecting another Vanduul patrol. 6 Glaives. I… I don’t know.
January 02, 2947 at 19:34
Griff is dead... Griff is dead. I got away in the escape pod. I should have stayed. Oh Griff…
January 02, 2947 at 23:43
Entering atmosphere. Crash landing imminent. Hope the landing systems still work. It’s going to be lonely down there without you Griff. I miss you…
January 04, 2947 at 09:31
So I survived. I’m sorry I haven’t written more Griff… I have been busy trying to learn about the world I am stuck on.
Thank you Griff. Thank you for insisting I get an Explorer mobiGlas. I’d probably be dead without it.
I ended up on Leir III. Crashed in the desert. First thing this morning I found a source of fresh water so I should be able to stay alive for awhile. Now I just have to figure out how to get the word out that I’m down here… and maybe find something to eat. Rations won’t last forever.
January 07, 2947 at 01:32
Hey Griff… here’s how I’m doing today:
First of all, the desert is damn cold at night.
Secondly, Aegis really does make these Vanguard escape pods tough. I was attacked by some nomads today but the pod made great cover and I was able to defend without any real trouble.
Thirdly, I managed to reconfigure the E-War equipment from the pod to be used for long range communications. I boosted it as much as I could and began sending an SOS. Unfortunately, I think the signal is what caused the nomads to attack.
January 09, 2947 at 06:02
Griff… I’m scared. Occasionally I can hear something moving through the sand under the pod. What do I do?
January 11, 2947 at 14:31
There’s no easy way to say this… I’m inside a Valakkar. A giant sandworm. I learned that from my Galactapedia. I think my distress call attracted it.
As I said, these Vanguard pods are tough… so I’m still alive. Last night the Valakkar ate the pod while I was sleeping.
Not so optimistic about rescue now, but I’m going to try sending out another signal. It should still get out, even from my current… locale.
“To anyone listening, I am Kora. I am currently located on Leir III inside the escape pod from the Vanguard Sentinel ‘Apocrypha’. Our ship was disabled and then destroyed by successive Vanduul attacks. My crewmate died.
Last night this pod was devoured by a Valakkar. I have included a Galactapedia link about the creature. This is an urgent distress call! Please rescue me if you can. I should be able to survive for a couple of days. Follow this signal to find the Valakkar in question.
If any should make the attempt, I give you my most sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Oh… I’m sorry Griff. I left this recording. Wish me luck... https://relay.sc/fiction/the-day-mars-diedThe Day Mars Died 2017-01-25T17:25:00+00:002017-01-25T18:56:00+00:00Nehkarahttps://relay.sc/contributor/Nehkara Trevor Adams woke early on the morning of September 13th, 2125, his alarm ringing loudly in his ears. Well, I suppose singing would probably be a better description. Birds. No birds up here and Trevor loved birds.
After an exaggerated morning stretch, Trevor stumbled into the shower and then proceeded to wrap up his morning bathroom rituals.
Trevor whistled one of the bird songs from his alarm as he pulled on his overalls and spacesuit. No helmet for the fifth straight day… company says they’re still mandatory but not a single worker is wearing it. Why would you bother if you’re fine without it?
Atmospheric Engineer was his title. He was proud of it. Trevor worked tirelessly in school to prepare himself for a career in the burgeoning field of terraforming and here he was.
The Mars terraforming project was a great success. Only 12 years after terraforming technology was first patented, Trevor and his team had already set up a stable breathable atmosphere on Mars. The achievement was, if you would forgive a brief pun, out of this world.
Trevor’s task for this sol was to visit three atmospheric monitoring stations, to ensure the readings continued to be stable, and perform any necessary maintenance on the associated atmospheric processors.
Despite the fact that there were almost five thousand people on Mars, Trevor was working alone in an isolated area and had been for several weeks.
Munching absentmindedly on a nutrient bar, his breakfast, he strode out of the habitat unit and jumped on to his Marver (some smart ass had decided that Mars Rover = Marver. I know…). It was a short and uneventful trip up out of the crater and up onto the south ridge to visit ATMO-63, first workstation of the day.
Having finished his breakfast, Trevor took a long swig of water from his flask and strode inside the complex automated station.
It took hardly a glance at the display panels inside ATMO-63 for Trevor to understand that something was seriously wrong.
Trevor immediately began working the problem, thinking it was perhaps localized to ATMO-63.
Unfortunately, the huge success of the Mars Terraforming mission had led to significant lapses in the duties of the responsible scientists and engineers. Last night had been a particularly big party at the main hab. No one else had checked their stations yet on this sol.
The fact was that ATMO-63 was not an isolated case. All of the atmospheric processors on Mars had been malfunctioning for hours. In order for the system to establish a stable atmosphere, all of the processors had to work together.
Trevor worked to isolate the cause of the abnormal behaviour of the terraforming machine while also attempting to contact the main habitat.
Before he could get far in his work, Trevor noted something truly terrifying. Instruments were reading a massive buildup of pure oxygen inside and around ATMO-63. Trevor immediately turned and started to head for the exit from the station when he heard a deafening WHOOSH followed for just a fraction of a second by the most intense heat he had ever experienced.
And that was it.
The explosion at ATMO-63 was massive, visible all the way from the main habitat, and almost instantly every other atmospheric processor on the planet overloaded and exploded. The interdependency that made the whole system work to build Mars’ atmosphere was what ultimately caused the deaths of all 4,876 souls on Mars that day. Mars’ new atmosphere catastrophically collapsed.
Approximately 9 months later, during the investigation into the disaster, Trevor Adams’ body would be found in the Martian sand near the ruin of ATMO-63.
Hailey Jones, a dear friend of Trevor’s, would be among those to find his remains. She personally dug a grave for her friend and marked it with a small plaque and a tiny audio device. For many years on calm sols one could hear bird songs drifting over the crater from the south ridge. https://relay.sc/fiction/hunted-and-hunter-part-viiiHunted and Hunter, Part VIII2017-01-18T18:00:00+00:002017-01-18T04:24:54+00:00StormyWintershttps://relay.sc/contributor/StormyWinters They came when I was out hunting.
I stormed out the back of my house, running from another of my father's lectures. He said the same thing over and over. "Do something with your life." Well I was trying. But no matter what I settled on it wasn’t good enough for him. So I walked out, to be alone in the forest. I took my rifle and began trekking through the trees far from our small, frontier town.
At first I was just annoyed at the idiot pilot skimming low over the treetops, scaring away the prey for kilometers around. But then I caught a glimpse of the blood red Cutlass. I saw him, and he saw me. In an instant I turned from hunter to hunted.
I ran. Sprinted through the shadows underneath the canopy of leaves. Branches whipped past my face. I slid down a steep embankment to a small creek, splashed across, and scrambled up the other side. Ship engines roared overhead, sweeping over the treetops. A spotlight shone down through the darkness, and I turned to stay out of the light. If I could keep going for long enough, perhaps there was hope. My lungs burned and my legs ached, but I had to keep running. They were coming.
I woke up in a cold sweat. My hands were shaking, my heart pounding. I had been dreaming, but couldn’t remember what about. It had to have been bad, though. My breathing was heavy and I couldn’t get it under control. I sat there shaking, sweating and panting, feeling an oppressive sense of urgency. I didn’t know what caused it, but I knew what could fix it.
I reached over and yanked one of the autoinjectors from my pack, jabbing it into my arm. The cool calmness was sweet relief, the urgency was gone. There was no reason to be afraid. Nothing was coming. I was alone in my room... safe. Everything made sense, the world so simple; the turnings of cause and effect were so obvious, playing out in my head.
I rolled over and went back to sleep.
"Wake up, Pup." A hand grabbed my shoulder and I reluctantly rolled over. Ajax stood by my bunk in the dimly lit room, hand still resting on my shoulder.
I rubbed my eyes and looked around the room. Ajax was fully dressed in his customary light combat gear and worn jacket, pistol strapped to his side. "What time is it?" It felt early, but it was always hard to tell underground.
"0500," Ajax said. "Something's up, captain wants us in the hangar." I clambered out of the small bunk and dug out some clothes from my footlocker, hurrying after Ajax as he strode off down the metal corridors of the outpost.
"I can hear you most nights. You're not sleeping well," Ajax said as we walked. "I could get you something to help, if you want."
"No, it's fine." I gave a weak smile. He wasn't convinced. "I'll be alright," I assured him. "Things have just been stressful, we've been so busy lately."
"All the more reason you need a good night's sleep," he said. I looked at his stern face and bright eyes. There was something almost grandfatherly about him. I nodded, giving in.
The hangar, which usually seemed so empty with only a Cutlass or two, now looked overstuffed. Cobra, the gang's Caterpillar, was there, alongside Draconis, Captain Brannigan's Redeemer. But that wasn't so unusual, not like the strange, curving hulk of the Banu ship that was with them. Stepping down from the vessel were two of the aliens, greyish green skin looking almost bark-like, their long faces and protruding foreheads giving them something of a regal look. In front of them walked a fat, bald man I had hoped never to see again. The slave market auctioneer.
"Brannigan, my friend!" The fat man called as he crossed towards the captain, whose cold glare showed no intention of reciprocating the affection. "It's been too long." The other mercs were slowly trickling into the hangar to watch the spectacle.
"You should know I'm not one for pleasantries," the captain replied. "I let you land because you said you had work for us. So what is it?"
"Of course," the fat man said with a small bow of his head. "Perhaps you would like to discuss it in private?" He motioned to the Banu vessel, inviting the captain onboard.
Another bow of the head, all accommodating. "Very well. I have told my Banu friends here of your battle skills, and we have a proposition for you. They represent a swiftly-growing business venture in the Sovereignty, and their need for manual labor has outpaced their ability to provide an adequate workforce."
Captain Brannigan's face grew darker as he listened. "So they need slaves. Sell 'em what they need and be done, why come here?"
"Ah, well," the man's face took on a sorrowful expression, conveying some personal failing. "My stock at the moment is not... adequate for their needs."
The realization of what the man was asking was a slap on the face. Dead silence filled the hangar. The gathered mercenaries watched on without a sound, some with mouths partly open, others confused, more with greed in their eyes. The captain slowly dropped his arms to his side and took a step towards the fat man. “You’re asking us to get you some more?”
“I have the perfect target,” the slaver said. “Got info from a nearby system, their militia is a bit undermanned right now, and they’ve been tied up dealing with Vanduul threats. Last time we met, Troya was telling me about some truly fascinating Vanduul signature decoys she’s been working on. With those, a small, fast, well-armed force such as yourself could...”
“No!” Captain Brannigan cut in. “You know very well I despise your trade. I tolerate you because I know if you were gone someone else would just take your place. I’ll protect you from the vermin you do business with, but we’re not pirates, and we’re sure not slavers.”
"Pleased see you." The oddly-formed words coming from one of the Banu came as a surprise. "That is, for the purposes of benefit mutual we see you gladly.” The broken phrases were almost comical, and that somehow served to multiply the contrasting tension. “Slaves, as you say, are not desire. We seek purchase of debt contract to be repaid by work. Finding us such contract, that is desire.”
The fat man frowned at the Banu, then flashed a smile back at the captain. “You see,” he said. “They won’t be slaves. Indentured servants. The Banu will let them go, eventually.”
I began to see the twisted logic of the alien slavers, how they could justify it all to themselves under their morality and own strange laws. If humans did the capturing, then in the Banu’s eyes they would be saving the slaves from their human captors. This debt would then need to be repaid, along with the cost of transportation, living, food, and a dozen other things until the ‘indentured servants’ would never see a hope of freedom.
The captain slowly looked over the Banu from head to... whatever they hid inside the apparel at the end of their legs. “Whatever you call it, it’s still slavery. And it’s still disgusting. The answer is no, now get out of my hangar.”
The captain turned to go, but the fat man wasn’t quite done. “I’ll pay you four times the usual!” he shouted.
Brannigan froze in his steps. I could see he was actually considering it. But that wasn’t what horrified me. Rather it was looks of absolute glee on almost every mercenary face in the hangar. Even as the cold anger and repulsion burned through me, a part of me admired the skill of the manipulation. Brannigan couldn’t refuse, not now. Not once the offer had been made in front of everyone. For most of the crew that stood around him, it was all about money. And if he turned this much down, that crew would no longer be his.They’d just kill him and go do the job anyway.
I looked to Ajax and was relieved to see he, at least, seemed just as revolted at the idea as I was. Though he, too, knew the inevitable outcome. The captain slowly turned back around, his eyes sweeping over the mercs, taking in the tacit vote on each face and realizing just how outnumbered he was. When those cold, blue eyes settled back on the slaver, there was hatred. A solid promise of death. Not today, but soon. His voice was low, quiet, but hard. “Deal.” https://relay.sc/fiction/dear-diaryDear Diary2017-01-11T16:32:00+00:002017-01-11T18:53:55+00:00Errishttps://relay.sc/contributor/Erris We’re heading to the protest today, Sandra and I. We’re human, but…
It’s still wrong, what the UEE are doing, and we have to stand up for them, just like someone stood up for people like us all those years ago.
No. I should…
This is going to be a record, to explain why, to my family, friends, and to history, what happened, and why I had to do it.
So let me explain.
The Tevarin. It all comes down to the Tevarin.
The UEE beat them. Twice. Two different wars, decades apart, and then they just… we just… we enslaved them.
They’re getting some rights now, slowly, but it’s too slow. Even here on Jalan. The Tevarin are beings too. They have thoughts, hopes, dreams… and the UEE just… they just crush them. Grind them under jackbooted heel like some common bug.
Have you ever seen the Tevarin camps? I don’t expect you have. And if you’re reading this in the future, then… then hopefully you never will. Hopefully they’ll be long gone.
Because they are horrible. The Tevarin, living in squalor, stripped of dignity, respect, honour; stripped of the very things that make them Tevarin. Stripped of their belongings, thrown together like cattle, treated like criminals.
It’s like if we stripped humans of our freedom. Of the most important thing we have.
And Moscovitz sits on his throne, sits on his pedestal of power, and he abuses them. He laughs at them, posts videos of them, uses them for sport. He attacks any that try to stand up for themselves, attacks any of us that try to stand up for them.
Well, no more. We can’t let it continue.
We are organized. We are powerful. We are free. We can change the world, for the Tevarin, and for us. We just have to make our voices heard. We have to make our voices heard against the tyranny, the lies, the antagonistic assault, against the hate and fear spread by Moscovitz, spread by him, and those in power under him.
There’s an event today. Moscovitz is holding a rally; a ‘confirmation’ of his power. It’ll be a military affair, but…
We are organized. We are powerful. We are free.
And we are many.
There are more of us than there are like him. And even if they gun us all down, someone will know. Someone will hear. Someone else will rise up and take up the cause.
All he wants is power. All the Tevarin want is their honour. All we want is their freedom.
Mamma, Pa, if you read this… I hope you understand. You always taught me to treat everyone with love and respect and… I hope you can see that I’m just trying to live up to that. I hope you can be proud.
To everyone else, to anyone else, Sandra and I… we know we probably won’t make it back from this. We know how the UEE, how Moscovitz, deals with protestors. Just… don’t forget about us. Don’t forget about the Tevarin.
Don’t forget about Freedom.
Excerpt from the diary of Reese Allanah, 2719 – 2747
This entry, and thousands like it, are kept in the Tevarin Freedom Memorial, in memory of all who fought for Freedom from tyranny, oppression, and the UEE. https://relay.sc/fiction/iris-and-anemones-on-new-corvoIrises and Anemones on New Corvo2017-01-04T18:00:00+00:002017-01-04T19:29:59+00:00StormyWintershttps://relay.sc/contributor/StormyWinters Life is made of moments taken for granted. Moments of joy, moments of sorrow, moments of regret, the list goes on. The touch of his fingers as they glided down the skin of my back, the way he would caress my hair and then my face but most of all the light kisses he pressed into my neck each morning we were able to steal moments together in our busy lives.
Everett was a Navy medic and trained Cutlass Red pilot, he was stationed at the New Corvo Naval base and did regular rotations off world every few months. I was a civilian nurse at the New Corvo Medical Institute, New Corvo’s largest hospital. Between his deployments and my shift work, it took a lot of effort and work to try and make something in our schedules work.
This morning was a rare occurrence. The sun streamed through the window of my bedroom, warming me as I slowly woke. I could feel the weight of Everett’s arm across my hip, his body heat permeating my back from his closeness, his breath slowly tickling the back of my neck every time he exhaled. I reached back and slid my fingers into the hair at the back of his head, slowly working my fingers in circles as I heard him sigh.
“If you keep that up I may not leave this morning.” His gravelly morning voice vibrated my shoulder, his lips pressed up against it.
“Would that be such a horrible thing?” I asked with a small smile.
“Mmm, no. Would just make us both AWOL and then I’d have to contend with the Navy knocking at your door to drag me back.”
I didn’t have a chance to answer before his mobiGlas pinged abruptly in the quiet apartment. I felt him roll away from me to grab it from the bedside table, fully expecting him to check it and rejoin me. When a long moment went by I turned and glanced at him, his face a mixture of focus and shock.
He jumped out of bed quickly gathering his clothes and pulling them on, “I’m being
recalled immediately. There’s been a Vanduul attack in orbit, our fleet is fighting them as we speak.”
As if to emphasize the truth of his words my mobiGlas pinged beside me, I quickly read the message that had been sent. NCMI was prepping for a mass casualty situation, calling in all able bodied medical staff to assist and stand by. I threw the covers aside and grabbed my clothes off the chair and quickly dressed. Everett was almost ready and walking out the door.
I chased him out my front and stopped dead in my tracks as I looked up to the sky, “Everett…”
My voice trailed off as I spotted the battle that was taking place in orbit right above us. Splashes of colour so intense they lit up the early morning sky, one disappearing just to be replaced by another. A cold feeling took hold in the pit of my stomach, I grabbed his hand so tight in mine my fingers ached. I turned to him taking hold his other hand, “Don’t go.”
“Sweetheart, you know I have to.” His voice was gently restrained as he pulled me tight
into his arms, his hand rubbing my back trying to calm me. “No more than you couldn’t stay if I asked you to. We have our duties.”
He pulled back caressing my face with both his hands, “We both have to be strong and think of the people we need to help. Focus on that, ok?”
I nodded as I bit my lip to keep my eyes from filling up. I was scared and he knew it, his voice was rock solid, not one tremble in any of his words to convey his fear. He kissed me softly on the lips before pulling me in for one more tight embrace, “Know that I love you very much, ok? I always will, stay safe.”
A military transport pulled up, I hadn’t even seen or heard it coming up my street. “Lieutenant Cole, we were sent to retrieve you.”
“I’ll see you later.” His words whispered into my ear before he pulled away, dropping a quick kiss on my forehead before hopping into the waiting transport.
I watched the transport take off and disappear down the street at an urgent speed. I waited til I could no longer see it before turning and starting the walk to work. NCMI was only a 10 minute walk from where I lived but Everett’s sense of urgency had also taken me over and I felt the need to make it quickly. Just as I walked through the doors of the hospital I heard the aerial siren go off, warning the city of an incoming attack.
Mere minutes passed before we felt the shudder of the first bomb shake the ground, the lights blinking off and on once, everything glass rattling momentarily. “Amy, I need the staff list, I need to know who’s here.”
I was the charge nurse for the NCMI Emergency Department and used to the chaos and busyness of said department but I knew our worst day to date wouldn’t compare with today. I was handed a digital manifest that I quickly scrolled through, assigning tasks and duties as fast I could. Trying to get the basics out of the way before we were inundated with the wounded.
The next hours pushed us to the brink, the bombing accelerated and it became the norm to hear both Navy and Vanduul aircraft whistle over the city as the Navy fought to protect the city from the enemy. The outside courtyard turned into triage as every free space filled up inside the hospital, forcing us to only admit the most critical and treat the minorly wounded outside under the risk of aerial attack.
The floors inside my department became slick and dangerous to traverse as we worked feverishly, hopping from patient to patient in hopes of saving as many as was possible as they bled all over my floors. A few Navy personnel who obviously hadn’t made it to the base filtered through the doors. Every time a uniform ended up on one of my beds, my heart stopped. Just to start again when I realized it wasn’t Everett.
The evening wore on and supplies were low as we scrambled to field dress and treat everyone with whatever we had. This was the one time I was glad I had sat through one of Everett’s little lessons when he had shown me the basics of how to patch someone up with no advanced medical techniques. His words at the time echoed through my head, “You may not always have all the fancy machines and advanced technology that you’re used to. One day you might be forced to resort to other means.”
The main power had been knocked out hours ago and we’d been running on backup power ever since, it made things twice as hard as day turned to night. I threw another pair of gloves into the closest overflowing garbage and snapped a clean pair up as I moved to the next bed. I could hear the wheezing of his laboured breathing before I even got close to the bed, never a good sign. As the the closest nurse stepped back to allow me closer inspection my heart dropped and I felt bile rise in my throat.
Tears filled my eyes and pooled there, his eyes locked with mine and held them. “Hello sweetheart.”
Those words took the greatest effort for him to say and I felt the pooled tears silently track their way down my cheeks. I stepped forward and lifted the dressing from his chest as small trickles of blood slowly seeped down his sides. I closed my eyes and replaced the dressing, my hand lightly holding it in place.
I felt him lay his hand over mine, my eyes opening to meet his. His raspy breaths came irregular and he fought to speak, “I know.”
I felt defeat settle over me, there was nothing I could do for him. His condition was too far gone to treat with what I had on hand, he’d lost too much blood. He’d come in too late in the day for me to do a damn thing for him and because of a wretched twist of fate, I was going to lose him.
I grabbed his other hand with my free one and held tight, my eyes staying locked on his. Feeling his chest rise and fall irregularly, a small hitch once in awhile that forebode what was ahead. I felt his warmth slowly seeping through my fingers as his life drained away. Any words that I might have said wouldn’t have been enough, my eyes told. Hot tears smearing the dirt on my cheeks as they left clean trails behind.
In the end Everett managed to rally enough to speak once more and it was enough, “Know that I love you and that I always will.”
His chest fell once more and didn’t move again, his hand slowly sliding away from mine as the weight of his arm pulled it down. Life is made of moments taken for granted... the way his eyes lit up when he smiled, the way his lips felt anytime he kissed me, the softness of his hair as I ran my fingers through it, and so much more.
When it was all over, the fighting and the dying, it rained. The day after everything went silent, large drops soaked into the earth, attempting to wash away the evidence of destruction and death. I walked out to the crest of a small hill overlooking the largest park and river in all of New Corvo - the spot Everett and I had always called our own.
Scorched earth with patches of enduring life dotted the park, I turned my face up to the rain and let it wash down, mingling with the tears that escaped the corners of my eyes. I looked up to the sky, the unseen space where Everett had spent most of his career, doing what he loved. My voice cracked mildly but I managed to get the words out before new grief hit me, “Know that I love you and always will.”
Author’s Note: The title to most wouldn’t make sense when you finally read the story but when I wrote that final paragraph where she’s looking up into the rain in the park, the thing that came to mind was flowers and that each flower symbolizes something. An iris for instance is symbolic for hope and valor while an anemone is symbolic for the end to cold, dark days and the return of the sun. Both appropriate especially for that final closing paragraph, I hope you enjoyed it. https://relay.sc/fiction/a-day-in-the-life-of-tobias-fordA day in the life of Tobias Ford2016-12-21T17:00:00+00:002016-12-21T07:48:34+00:00Nehkarahttps://relay.sc/contributor/Nehkara I’m actually famous… well… sort of. My name is famous. My family name really. Or it was. My great-great-great-great - let’s just say my ancestor from long ago was Henry Ford. You have no idea who that is, do you?
Well, he founded the Ford Car Motor Corporation… or something like that. They were like the RSI of the first motorized ground vehicles - they made lots and they made ‘em cheap.
So I must be some big shot eh? 30+ generations with a famous family? Hardly. I am just a trader. I merely have my trusty Hull B, ‘Bee’. I love Bee even though she’s got about 50 billion km on her and she’s getting a bit worn in certain spots. Just replaced my port engine last week… son of a Tevarin that was expensive.
You’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the point of this message. Well, you’ll just have to wait.
I grew up the only son of my parents Lorna and Perry - they were also traders. They liked to roam between Goss and Terra on their trade runs and I grew up in the cabin of their Freelancer, ‘Kitty Hawk’. I learned everything I know about… pretty much everything, from my parents. They were killed last year by the pirate Captain Mottar and her crew. I… well - I cannot begin to express how much I fucking hate those evil thieving wastes of flesh. They didn’t have to kill them; my parents weren’t stupid, they would have given up their cargo. I hate them so much. I hate them.
So, I’m dead. It wasn’t glorious, my death. It was… well it was pretty damn stupid to be honest. And ridiculous. I really can’t believe it.
I was traversing this here asteroid field - I think it’s called the Akiro Cluster? Anyway, I wasn’t really paying much attention. Honestly I was mostly listening to my tunes and letting my instincts fly.
You know, I think you’ve had enough lead up now and I’m running out of time.
I hit a fucking RSI Zeus. Yeah, that’s what I said. I know you all are gonna think I’m crazy… well, unless you find the wreckage around here somewhere. But I did. I hit a Zeus. I didn’t even know they still existed - even in wreckage form. It must have been lingering around this field for…… for… oh hell, I don’t even know. A long time.
Unfortunately the Zeus just ripped apart Bee. I lost the whole starboard side of the ship. Venting atmosphere. Engines went critical. Somehow I squirmed into my suit and jumped out of the gaping hole in the hull.
So, Citizen, here I sit floating amongst the asteroids and wreckage with a few minutes of O2 left. I hope this message finds you well. I have a gift for you. I have no family anymore, if you can find Bee’s black box you can claim her insurance and get yourself a shiny new Bee. Use this message as proof.
Now, I really am getting rather sleepy. I think it’s time to… fade away. Merry Christmas pilot. https://relay.sc/fiction/garbageGarbage2016-12-14T08:30:00+00:002016-12-14T20:46:59+00:00Errishttps://relay.sc/contributor/Erris The radio crackled, a young man’s voice coming through soft, but clear.
‘An Aurora? A Mustang? Maybe your daddy was ‘rich’ and he bought you a shiny 300 series, or a small Hull, an A or B, or a Freelancer.
I got my first Connie when I was 12 you know. A Phoenix. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to fly it myself, but I wrecked my Archimedes my first time out. Pa bought me 20 more, just so I could get used to them.
At 16 he bought me a solid-gold 890 Jump. Solid gold. Only 111 were made. I got number 3.
Of course, I moved up from ships almost immediately. Pa gave me a small loan. By 18 I was buying settlements. Buying and selling people’s lives. Oh, sure, the slave trade is ‘illegal’, but trust me,I’m rich enough to find ways around that.
I ignore that rule, just like I ignore all other rules.
That’s who I am. Do you know who I am? That is who I am.
I own entire planets. My name… my name is synonymous across twelve systems, a literal synonym. It means ‘wealth’. People just say my name, and they know I’m rich. They know I’m big. They know I’m important. They know me.
Look at you. No-one knows you. You don’t matter. You’re not big, or important, or special. You’re nothing.’
The man’s words started to speed up, a sense of panic emerging as his tongue started to stumble.
‘But I… I can make you something. I can make you big! You give me a chance, you listen to me, and you can have it. You can have whatever you want. You want money? Power? Ships? Women? I can give you all of that. I can give you anything.’
I don’t relent. It’s not even a therapy session at this point. There’s no conversation that I need to have, nothing I need to get off my chest. There is no catharsis, no healing, no freedom to be had here.
This one… this one I’m not doing for me.
I’m doing it for everyone.
Sometimes a bug just has to be crushed.
The man’s radio starts to break up as the claw on my Reclaimer continues to squeeze, cracking the cockpit of his 85X. He keeps talking, he must be wearing a flightsuit, but my grip, the grip of justice, it is inexorable. He can do nothing but plead.
‘Please! I… I can give you anything! Just tell me what you want! I… I can… I… Tru-‘
The radio cuts out with a squelch. It’s over.
He’s gone, and the Verse is better for it.
Now if only someone would do the same to me.
https://relay.sc/fiction/dragonflies-in-the-dark-chapter-3Dragonflies in the Dark – Chapter 32016-08-24T16:00:00+00:002016-11-20T12:15:48+00:00Nehkarahttps://relay.sc/contributor/Nehkara Captain Titus rises from his chair and nods to Beth, “How is he?”
“Seems somewhat disoriented, sir.” Beth says stepping aside to let him pass. “He knows who he is and where he is though.”
Titus motions for Archer to follow and gives Beth an affectionate pat on the bottom on his way past, moving into the corridor. “Does he have any physical injuries that you can see?”
“There seem to be two contact burns on his wrist where his mobiGlas sits and upon examination he has a barely detectable arrhythmia to his heart.” She explained, “Nothing that will affect him in the long term though.”
“Do you have any theories on what could have caused those injuries? Must have been something to do with his mobiGlas… Archer, you said it overloaded?” Focus knotting the wrinkles on Titus’ forehead.
“Yes sir, Zulu reported the overload just before we lost contact.” He answered in the wake of Titus as he followed him down to the infirmary.
The small group entered the infirmary to see Zulu sitting up in bed, wrist cleanly wrapped and monitor leads attached to him in various places tracking his vitals. A small smile crosses his face at the sight of company. “Captain sir, Archer.”
Titus smiles at the sight of his crewman once again conscious. “Zulu! How are you feeling? Can you tell us anything about what happened to you?”
“Can’t say for certain, Captain…” Zulu answers thoughtfully. “I remember talking with Archer, doing a scan with my mobiGlas and pulling the information about the Ponderosa, I think I briefly saw a shadow just before my mobiGlas overloaded and gave me a severe shock and then nothing.”
“You said shadow, what do you mean shadow?” Archer interjects before Titus can weigh in on Zulu’s response.
“Yeah… I know. Kind of a weird thing given it was almost pitch dark in there before but the light from my mobiGlas was enough… I saw something. I think there’s something on that wreck.” Zulu says reluctantly.
“Would explain how he made it from the inside to the outside, sir.” Archer gives the captain a thoughtful look as he considers the new information being presented. “The next question though is, does this ‘entity’, thing, being, whatever you want to call it mean us any further harm. Was that just a warning shot off the bow?”
The group is silent for a few moments, each taking some time to theorize. Archer is the first to speak again, “We need to go back in there, sir. As dangerous as it may be we have to find out what the hell is in there.”
“It might not have been a warning shot per se… perhaps more akin to a defense mechanism?” Captain Titus muses, stroking his beard. After a long pause he continues, “Even despite that consideration, I am tempted to agree, Archer. That wreck could contain some pretty incredible tech. We need to at least get a better look. How do you feel about us exploring this further Zulu?”
“Not to mention finding out the truth about what actually happened to the Ponderosa all those years ago.” Zulu replies, moving to unhook the leads attached to him.
“Wait a moment, where do you think you’re going?” Beth asks staying his hands.
“With Archer, I can’t let him go it alone.”
“You came back on the back of Archer’s Dragonfly, unconscious… you are in no shape to wander back out into the field so soon.” Beth says firmly, looking at the captain for back up.
“Oh will you both just cool it!” The Captain says with a clear tone of exasperation. “We’re not sending Dragonflies this time… the Monarch will take a look herself. Come hell or high water we are going to find out what’s out there.”
“Captain… there’s no water, we’re in space.” Archer replies with a grin.
“Smart ass.” https://relay.sc/fiction/lost-in-spaceLost In Space2016-08-17T16:10:00+00:002016-11-20T12:15:49+00:00Nehkarahttps://relay.sc/contributor/Nehkara “What the fuck was that?!” Captain Derek Kilgore braces himself against the arms of his seat as the Sedna harshly rocks in space.
“I’m not sure Captain, seems like some sort of gravitational anomaly.” Polly, Science Officer, replies in a worried tone.
“Undiscovered jump point?”
“Possibly. Bringing jump scanners online. However, this is the Stanton system… it has been pretty well explored.”
Another vicious wave throws the Carrack wildly about in seemingly empty space. “Faster would be better Polly. Jacob! Get this ship steadied.”
“Aye Captain, I’m trying.”
Polly gasps and shouts, “Captain! We are falling into a jump point! We must get the ship-”
Panels and pipes all around the bridge explode as the Sedna is buffeted by a massive shockwave. Polly lies unconscious against a bulkhead.
Alarms sound around the entire vessel as a dizzying sea of light and colour engulfs the ship.
“JACOB! Get us stabilized and pointed downstream. Jacob?” Captain Kilgore glances at his pilot, realizing that he is dead… a length of pipe impaling him through his pilot’s seat.
Rapidly, Derek transfers navigational control to his station and begins working feverishly to get his ship out of danger.
There simply wasn’t enough time.
The jump tunnel split in two. The Carrack, still being pulled sideways through the passage, slams into the split and is viciously thrown clear out of the jump and into normal space.
The shearing forces of tearing through the wall of the jump passage wreak havoc on the Sedna. As she finally settles, her wings and wing turrets float nearby… ripped clean off, along with a myriad of other bits and pieces of the ship. “I’ve always wanted a Carrack…” Liko grumbles under his foul breath.
Last week he had landed his heavily modified Crucible on Microtech and retired to a dark corner of a quiet bar.
Later that evening a nondescript businessman walked by his table and surreptitiously dropped him a note.
The note read, “Check your mobiGlas for a very limited time offer.”
Curiosity immediately clawed at Liko’s mind and he flipped open his holographic device.
The businessman had offered him the coordinates for a nondescript salvage operation for 20k UEC. It was a lot to pay for coordinates but he felt flush and ready for a new job so he quickly accepted and exited the bar.
Now, he stands on the bridge of his Crucible, the Tulip, glaring at his long range scanners. A Carrack. She’s right out on the farthest reaches of the Stanton system, further out than anything he could remember.
Liko worked alone. He had jury rigged up a ton of automation which allowed him to operate his Crucible with a crew of 1… himself.
As the Tulip approaches the wreck, he jumps back in the pilot seat and guides his ship out of quantum. Immediately he knows there is something not right about the situation. His suspicions are immediately confirmed as he spots a figure in an EVA suit, attempting to do patch repairs on the outer hull of the Carrack.
Liko is torn… he wants the Carrack but he had decided long ago that wasn’t a murderer and it was highly unlikely that figure out there would give up the ship.
After a long period wrestling with himself, Liko queues up the comms: “Captain Liko of the Tulip repair and salvage vessel to any crew of the adrift Carrack.”
“*Static* … Kilgore…”
“Please repeat. Transmission did not come through.”
“*static*… This is Captain Kilgore… Sedna. Crew… medical. Help?”
“Captain, I will close on your position so our communications are clearer.”
Liko slowly eases his hulking repair vessel closer and closer to the mangled Carrack.
“Captain Kilgore, this is Captain Liko of the Tulip. Could you please repeat your request?”
“Hello Captain Liko. We discovered an uncharted jump point in Stanton… but not with our long range sensors… we hit it and entered it sideways. Pilot was killed before entry. We burst through the wall of the jump passage and it tore the ship up pretty bad. Engines at 10%, main power offline, main turrets sheared off. I need medical assistance for my crew and significant help in repairing the Sedna.”
“Did you say you found an undiscovered Stanton jump point?”
“Roger that Captain.”
Liko considered the information carefully and was glad he hadn’t opted to come in firing.
“I was actually given this location as a salvage opportunity. However, seeing as you are still in possession of your ship that seems to be off the table. I have a proposal… I will lend you a pair of advanced biobeds to help heal your crew, I will get the Sedna back to best condition I can with my Crucible. In return, I would like us to return to the coordinates of this jump point, properly map it, and split the profits garnered from selling it to the UEE.” Liko was well aware that the profit from the jump information would far, far outweigh his costs.
“Captain Liko, that is a reasonable offer. You could have asked for much more given our situation. Consider it a deal.”
To Be Continued..