To Geekfinity and Beyond!
Over the past week or more I’ve been working on a story during my commute to work and back. It’s a draft 1.5 which means I wrote the thing and then went over it with a spell/grammar checker but haven’t debugged it for funny sounding sentences and continuity errors. Either way, here it is…
Chikara reached up and pulled away the bloodied restraining collar from around her neck. It struck the metal of the flight deck causing an echo to reverberate down its long length.
She was free.
Free from exploitation.
Free from experimentation.
Free from manipulation.
Free from enslavement.
Free to die of her own accord
She was free.
She was free to be afraid.
She wasn’t sure how long it would last at least for now she could do with her life as she now chose.
Chikara closed her eyes and took in a deep breath of the blood scented air. She took it, felt her chest expand with a sense of power, and held onto it. She wanted to relish this moment for it had come at such great cost.
She could still hear the screams of those that had died alongside her.
She was the lucky one.
She exhaled and opened her eyes. Down amongst the bodies of the Saethar were the mangled bodies of those that had bought her her freedom.
A klaxon went off in the distance, this brought her back to this moment in time. Some system on the ship had failed. She didn’t know anything about starships, she only knew what the Saethar had placed into her cortex. Still, her mind started scrolling through its memory banks looking for something that might prove useful. Her mind eye scrolled over her various personality profiles knowing these would be of little use. Her most recent profile, a Kelsey Bender, had all the skills of being a spy. It’s cover was that of being a diplomat from the remote colony world of Giligania, a world covered in water. This personality profile had all the skills necessary skills to infiltrate and negotiate. It knew less than nothing when it came to starships or even basic engineering. For her immediate situation, it seemed like a waste of skills.
Still, she had to give some thanks to the profile for it had been its combat training that had allowed her to survive the revolt. The shuttle that had been carrying her along with her fellow infiltrators had just landed on the Saethar light stealth carrier, which wasn’t part of a direct fleet so much as it was being used by a special espionage unit to collect information on the Coalition Worlds. As the various Saethars were preparing the encapsulation modules for the members of her team there was a brief moment when five of the twelve agents had all been simultaneously not been armed with their restraining collars. That was when one of her fallen comrades chose to make his move. The result had been bloody but that is to be expected when explosives implanted into agents brains are triggered to go off. The Saethar in charge of detonating the remotes had been the first target of the impromptu revolt.
Chikara scrolled to her second profile, a computer hacker who by day was an investment banker. She switched profiles as she walked towards the computer terminal alongside the bulkhead. Her vision faded as she lost consciousness momentarily. A fraction of a second later she regained her footing and stood before the terminal.
She viewed the screens and but resisted interfacing with them out of fear of drawing attention to herself. She was able to discern that the alarm was a from a failed component in the ships drive system. She knew this was not the first time for this part to fail. In fact, even through all the time she had spent in isolation, she had experienced it failing twice before. The Saethar had spent countless hours trying to determine why this ships coupler system failed on a regular basis. That was part of the reason this vessel had been taken out of regular fleet service and reassigned to this program. It would have taken a crew experienced with this issue a few hours to get the parts swapped out from the surplus they now kept off to one side of the flight deck. She glanced over towards the stack and saw that it was indeed smaller than the last time she had laid eyes upon it. She guessed that it would take her a week if not longer to try and effect the repairs all on her own.
The terminal flashed a new display message and another klaxon went off. This one was different. This one she had only heard once prior. This one told her that the electronics detection scanners had picked up an unidentified ship approaching them.
She felt the coldness of death touch her for the second time in less than a hundred heartbeats. The coalition had somehow found them. They had tracked the shuttle she and the others had taken back here.
She glanced down the length of the flight deck, past the carnage, towards the other various smaller fighter and shuttle craft. She knew that if the arriving threat was of any credible size, the Saethar wouldn’t have the means of fighting back. This vessel, even though it was a carrier, had a new purpose. Because of this it no longer had the same resources at its disposal as a true combat would have. The bridge crew, aside from attempting an escape had the drive not been down, would have no other choice but to cause the engines to go critical and incinerate the ship and everything on board it to prevent the coalition from learning more of the program.
Without thinking further, Chikara raced down towards the mangled bodies and began grabbing whatever supplies she could carry. She shoved handfuls of vials and cocktails into her pockets and even into the thin spaces between her garments and skin.
The flight decks lights went out and the red tinted emergency combat lights came on in their place. She located a toppled over the cart and righted as she came close to losing her footing thanks to the pooled blood.
She started throwing more gear on the cart, doing her best to catalog what she still needed. Her cart now full, she pushed it towards what she hoped was a readied and fueled shuttle craft. She got halfway towards the shuttle when her mind went into shock at her having forgotten to grab one of the program asserters. She gave a strong push on her cart so as to keep it moving towards the shuttle and then doubled back towards the corpses. Her first thought was to get her own asserter but then realized she couldn’t see it amongst the chaos. She spotted another one much closer. Fearing the ships imminent self-destruction, grabbed this one instead. She had no idea the personalities programs this one would contain but knew in her gut that there had to be something useful in its matrix.
She slid to a stop and reached out to grab the device as her legs worked on getting her back towards the shuttlecraft. The programming part of her profile tried assessing the odds at her even getting to the shuttle. Her odds and even getting out of the hanger alive. Her odds and escaping the ship without someone discovering her flight and triggering her implant to go off. Her odds and not getting destroyed by the Coalition forces. And worst of all, her odds of living past the next few weeks with the limited supplies she had been able to collect.
She caught up to her cart, which now rested up along the outside of the shuttle craft. Her aim had been true and the cart hadn’t veered off course due to some defective wheel. She thanked creation for small miracles.
She punched in the sequence and the shuttles side door slid open. She pushed her cart up and inside the craft and scrambled towards the pilot’s seat. She had seen the various Saethar agents fly these shuttles several dozen times and, if luck was still with her, would be able to get this ship up and going. She pushed, pulled, twisted, flipped, pulled some more, yanked, flipped other things, and started to get lost in the bewilderment of it all.
Her craft started to ascend.
She let out a scream of joy in such as way as to startle herself.
So far so good. Now all she needed was about three more miracles and she might survive long enough to take up a religion in praise of her luck.
She grabbed both hands onto the throttle and pulled back. The crafts nose dipped and started towards the launching the electric screen at the end of the long bay.
She watched as the carrier jolted underneath her shuttlecraft. Her shuttle slammed up against the roof of the bay and scrapped as she fought to keep control and get out alive.
Another jolt rocked the carrier as she caught sight of something exploding through the side of the launch bay. It slammed to a stop and that was when she caught sight of the black length of fibrous cable extending out from the end of the harpoon. She now knew exactly what the coalition’s goal was which gave her a renewed sense of hope that she had a chance in escaping all this alive. The coalition learned from their prior mishpas when attempting to capture Saethar ships. Their new tactic had been to send in several specialized stealth tugs at once. These would slam hooks into an enemy vessel from multiple directions in an attempt at ripping the target apart. This way, should the Saethars manage to get their drive core to go critical, they would at least have some sections of a ship in which to study. This, of course, meant that the various harpooning vessels didn’t get caught in the impending blast. The guided weapons had an impressive range.
Chikara managed to peel her craft off of the roof of the landing bay. She tried once more to pick up speed again as she headed towards the still sealed heavy launch bay doors.
She closed in towards the doors and noticed how they weren’t opening. She realized that they would require some sort of clearance and she didn’t have any such thing. She slowed her craft back down and reached out towards the keypad before her craft. She pounding away at it hoping to find some way of getting the doors to open. After her third attempt, the video screen in the cockpit flickered to life.
There staring back at her was Saethar regent sGolritha. sGolritha’s eye’s lenses flickered open and shut in what was an obvious sign of bewilderment in their species. sGolritha asked, “What is going on? Where is your handler?”
Chikara said back instinctively, “They’re wounded and have directed me to fly the sensitive cargo out and escape. We need to perform as jump and prevent the Coalition from securing these assets.”
sGolritha’s eyes tried looking beyond the limited view of Chikara in the pilot’s chair. “There is no need, we are preparing to sterilize everything.”
Chikara blurted out. “The information one of the other agents recovered from the last mission is critical to the war effort and needs to get back to command. It is vital to our war efforts.”
sGolritha asked, “What information?”
A voice somewhere else on the bridge said, “She’s lying. I have the video feed of the bay up. She is trying to escape.”
sGolritha’s eyes narrowed. “I would trigger your cortical implant and kill you right now but don’t want to waste the effort seeing how this ship is about to go critical.”
Chikara reached out and slapped the console which terminated the video link in a curse of frustration.
This was it.
She couldn’t get out of the hanger bay.
She was going to die.
She felt the carrier shudder as the harpoon and cable from the Coalition tug ship went taunt. The carrier continued to shake as she assumed the other lines were also getting pulled. She watched as the long length of bay began to twist upon itself.
The hope in her had not died, at least not yet.
The gravity on the ship failed as she shuttle bobbled against the roof.
Half a second later she watched as the entire length of the launch bay split itself open like an over ripened fruit.
She got herself situated again and grabbed a hold of the controls. Her mind reeled to find the thrusters again as her eyes scanned darted back and forth across the console before her.
Had she glanced up, she would have caught sight of the now free floating support cross member section floating towards her crafts cockpit. Having found and placed her hand upon the thruster control yoke, she looked up a fraction of a second the beam was to spear her ship. Her hand yanked back upon the thruster and her craft started zipping backward. It wasn’t quick enough as the metal scraped across her viewport. The stress of the intersection caused the protective enclosure to crackle like a sheet of ice before an ice breaker. The momentum of the debris, added to her crafts increasing backward thrusting, was enough to cause her shuttle to bounce off.
Her backward momentum was halted by her crafts impact deeper into the section of the carriers shuttle bay behind her. The craft tumbled once more due to the impact. She then re-orientated her awareness of where her ship was and where it needed to be to not get sandwiched between the two massive chunks.
She pushed forward on the thruster arm with everything she had and yanked on the flight stick. Her shuttle twisted in a semi circle and spun down towards the gap that was the blackness of space.
She cleared the impact zone as she heard more debris rattle against the backside of her craft. The result of inertia throwing out smaller parts from the impacting of the larger two hull sections.
She allowed herself a heavy exhale. That was when she noticed that she felt a breeze whipping past her face and out through the cracked windshield before her. She pushed down on the throttle arm knowing she needed to put as much distance between her and the expected explosion of the Saethar carrier. She was thrown back into her seat under the force of the acceleration. She now had a choice to make. Slow her crafts escape velocity and risk getting fried in a detonation of the carriers engine core. Or slow her craft down enough so that she could find a means of patching the cockpit so she didn’t die of asphyxiation.
She felt a chuckle of humility rising up from deep within her gut.
She was free to die by her own decisions.
She swallowed hard upon her dark anxiety and twisted sense of fate. She strained to push herself out of her chair and tried to get out without causing herself further harm.
Fate was not done playing with her.
She cleared her way out of the chair she felt her shuttle get rippled and tossed about. The shockwaves of the carriers explosion caused the entirety of space around her to become white and pure as the portal beyond death. She lost her grip and fell back towards the rear of the shuttle craft. She landed against the back wall as she blacked out to the sounds of her bones cracking and snapping.
Chikara awoke to pain.
She was cold.
She could taste the blood within her mouth as she struggled to open her eyes. She tried lifting her head off of the bulkhead but found the side of her face was stuck due to the blood that had dried her face to it.
As she continued regaining consciousness she started moving her limbs and the pain shooting through her told her that wasn’t a wise thing to do.
Through the pain no longer being blocked by her being passed out, she tried collecting her thoughts as to what had happened to bring her to hear and now. She feared her handler would find some fault and she would be punished.
That thought didn’t last long as her mind recalled the carnage amongst her and her brethren that had helped facilitate her escape.
She closed her eyes again realizing the cost of it all and wondered if she had ended up postponing the inevitable. She felt another spasm of pain as she took in too deep of a draw of air. Was she deluding herself into thinking it was all worth it.
She had recalled the explosion and her tumbling out of the seat and hurtling back towards the rear of the shuttle. Her mind pieced together that the emergency breach doors had activated which separated the hold area from the cockpit. She pondered how far she had gone and it was then she realized that the shuttle’s engines were no longer engaged. She knew then that she had been out for quite some time, either that or they had taken more damage than she had realized during the event and had broken down. Either way, it meant she didn’t have a means of controlling the craft and had only a limited amount of resources from which to survive.
She was tired.
She allowed her eyes to close again and remained still.
She exhaled and hoped she could drift off once more.
She got her wish.