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*** Note – this scene is still a work in progress and may vary (slightly) from the final version. I like to tweak things up until the last minute…and I often continue to tweak things once they’re published 😉 …anyways, it’s only been sorta proofed for grammar and the like so…yeah. There will be mistakes I’m sure. ***
^^^Bonus points if anyone guesses the opening scene narrator^^^
…The rebel fleet (ship of one) barely escaped Seed Planet Fifteen with their lives. They (Mica) won their first battle by bringing it green style. It wasn’t a victory against the Empire, but bitches can’t be choosers.
Currently, our intrepid heroes are joyriding, still flying high on their narrow escape from that puke-green swamp planet that had no redeeming qualities other than a sea of tits and ass otherwise known as the chameleon-inclined Stalkers…
Ravil peered into the blue slipstream. Her hands were imbedded in the clear panels in front of her. Her fingertips felt stretched as if she held the entire ship in her hands. She towed the craft and its occupants with her while she rode lines of light on the flipside of space. She smiled at the comforting image for a place that did not make sense. They passed through a sun, and the strands around them vibrated and sparkled like rings on a pond.
Rake sat at her side, radiating stress and protective feelings. The blood bond between a pilot and Navigator was strongest in this place. His hand stayed on her shoulder; his fingers dug into her skin. She could feel him flipping through locations in his head, places they could go. He dismissed each as soon as he thought of them, leaving her aimless. She took the ship for an epic joyride, picking a course at random. She would have been euphoric except for the fact that they had no destination and she was running out of energy. Her hands shook under the strain of holding the ship together.
She took a deep breath. “Rake! Think of something already!”
His green eyes flicked over to her scarlet ones. “Newsflash, you telling me to think of something, doesn’t actually help!” He gestured to the monitors. “Oro was supposed to pick a place!”
“You’re the pilot, take some responsibility!” Ravil did not take her eyes off the monitors, using the lines to guide them like rails for a train. The light around them fluctuated, grew brighter and darker as they swept past stars and planets. She longed to soar through a sun again, but if she ran out of energy, she would leave them stuck inside one and dead immediately. She aimed towards empty space.
A dark bruise marred the bright blue horizon. Its form was fluid and changing; lines of light twisted and warped around it. She gaped. “Whoa.”
Rake picked up on her confusion. He stared alongside her, losing his last thought. “What is that?”
Ravil shook her head. “I have no clue.”
He smiled. “Let’s check it out.”
“That is a terrible idea! I don’t want to go anywhere near it.”
Rake snapped his mouth shut, trusting her instincts.
She veered the ship away from the blot and focused on putting distance between them. Rake and Ravil cocked their heads and watched the darkness as they slipped by it.
The shadowy spot flickered. It seemed to orient on their presence.
Rake frowned. “Is it—”
“Yes.” Ravil made a face. The blot grew larger as it got closer. “Shit.”
Long, dark lines tore out of the blot and soared towards their ship. The vessel was wrenched to the side. Rake and Ravil knocked heads as the craft jerked. The blot reeled them in, stalling their flight. Ravil fought with the force. “Fuck!”
Rake focused on her, bolstering her concentration with his own. The tethers broke and ship bounced. Ravil regained control. She aimed the ship in the opposite direction and put all of her energy into going fast.
The darkness followed them. Bands of it roped through the light and hit their ship like a spear. Having no substance, it passed through the hull, ignored Rake, and slashed at Ravil. It hit her in the back and buried itself in her skin.
Her red eyes went wide as the breath was knocked from her lungs. She could not pull her hands away from the ship’s controls to fight it. She screamed.
Rake seized the shadowy rope; the force squirmed in his grip like a slippery worm. Rake’s hands burned. The darkness stabbed at him. He squeezed it. “Get off Ravil now!” He put his foot to her chair and kicked, wrenching the black spears out of her. The shadow faded, leaving him empty-handed.
Ravil hissed in pain and leaned into her controls. “Fuck!” She forced the ship away from the darkness and increased their speed.
Rake looked backwards. “What was that?”
“No clue!” Ravil gasped. Her eyes lost focus.
Rake gave her a shake. “Whoa. Snap out of it, Bebette!” She blinked and took a deep breath. He wrapped his arms around her. “Did it do anything permanent?”
“I don’t know.” Her words were slurred. “But I don’t feel okay, Rake.”
Rake grabbed the pilot’s controls. “Take us into normal space, now!”
“We’re not anywhere…”
The ship dropped into the black of empty space. Rake hit the ship’s intercom and shouted, “I need medical in the cockpit!”
Danny’s voice blasted on the overhead speakers, “We have our own emergency right now, Rake!”
Ravil unbuckled her straps and slipped out of her chair. She stared at the overhead lights. “Oh…”
Rake did a double take and reached for her hand. “Where are you going?”
Ravil held her head. “I…” She floated in zero gravity towards a wall. “Don’t know.”
“Sit still.” Rake pointed at the floor. She kicked towards the ground and held on to the side of her chair, dazed. Rake undid his safety straps and joined her on the floor. He cupped her pale face in his hands and peered into her eyes. “Are you in any pain?”
She shook her head and her white hair floated around her face like a halo. The charred bits on her left side poked out at clumpy angles. “No, just dizzy, but it is fading.” She smiled. “I feel better, really.” She took a deep breath. “Like nothing happened.”
“I’ll double-check.” She popped off a button on her half-burnt, red jumpsuit and examined her skin for injuries.
Rake stared at his hands expecting to see some kind of damage from the attack, but they were injury free. They looked like his normal callused and scarred, dark hands. “Weird.”
Ravil made a clucking sound with her tongue. “No marks or anything. I’m fine.” She closed up her outfit.
He frowned. “Are you sure? You just got attacked by a space blob.”
“More of a space shadow than a blob.” Ravil’s eyes rolled up in her head. She thumped her chest and recovered. “Whoa.”
“Ravil!” Rake wrapped an arm around her waist and brought her close. Ravil stayed awake, but her limbs jerked in his embrace. Rake glared at the doors to the rest of the ship. “Someone, get up here now!”
The scent of the swamp heralded Mica’s arrival. The British twenty-five-year-old climbed into the cockpit with a first-aid kit in hand. He kicked away from the wall with grace that came from having lived in zero gravity before. He twisted, stopped, and dropped to his knees in front of them.
Rake and Ravil gaped at his green-tinted, mud and algae splattered, very naked body.
Mica ignored their stares and opened the kit, grabbing at supplies as they floated away. Thorny vines around his wrists twisted and grew as he moved. “What’s going on? Did you hit your head on reentry?”
Ravil stared at the plants as she touched her temples. “No, I’m just dizzy all the sudden.”
“Just dizzy?” Rake glared at her. “She got smacked with the dark side of space.”
Mica glared at him. “You called me up here, start being serious.”
“I am.” Rake thought better of hitting Mica in zero gravity. “Something attacked her while we were carting your asses around. We don’t know what it was.”
Mica turned to Ravil. “Tell me what you feel now.”
“I feel okay now…”
Rake left her to chat with Mica. He looked to the cockpit monitors, but nothing seemed out of sorts, and nothing had followed them. There were no alarms going off. Stars glinted in the distance, but besides that, it was empty space. He scraped his fingers through his shaggy black hair and looked to the ceiling. “Sammy, anything out there that I should be worried about?”
Rake’s twin sister, Sammy, responded on the speakers, “Not on our end. There are no immediate threats and the ship is fully powered, fully fueled and—”
Sammy’s voice cut out as the power flickered. The lights turned off. She made a sound of annoyance as the lights came back on slowly. Her personality was contained in the ship’s computers and when they started to fail, so did she. “Oh-kay.”
Rake frowned. “Why are you doing that?”
“I’m not, dildo-face. I think I’m still glitchy from the EMP Naked Bitches attack.”
Rake glanced down at their cockpit readouts, but he had no idea what any of the Empire devices meant. This was Oro and Tasanee’s area of expertise. “What is glitched out exactly?”
Sammy growled. “Oh suck.”
“I have no cameras on most of the lower level and my internal door locking mechanisms are fucked up across the entire ship.” Her dog-sized robots made a racket down the hall as she used them to smack at things in anger. “This is freaking lame!”
Tasanee got on the intercom from the docking bay, “Sammy, I’ll take a look at the damage. There’s probably residual errors from the power down. I can—”
“If we are not in urgent danger,” Darq’s voice interrupted Tasanee’s. He sounded half-asleep. “Everyone should come meet us in the operating hall, I have news.” A thump followed as he got dizzy and scraped at the intercom buttons in confusion. Oro spoke in the background, getting his attention.
Katarina took over. “Like he was saying, team meeting in the OR.”
Mica took Ravil by the hand and stood her on her feet. “Probably for the best anyways. Darq should check you out; it’s been years since I’ve taken proper first-aid training.”
Rake followed behind the pair as they left the cockpit. The three of them floated up the stairs to the upper level. Rake eyed Mica holding Ravil’s hand. “Mica, what happened to you?”
Mica kept his gaze fixed ahead of him. “We ran into the Stalkers at the base while we were getting fuel for the ship. Kennedy and I were kidnapped.”
Rake gave him a once over. “So…why’re you naked?”
Mica flinched, recalling the hours he’d spent tied to the ground and assaulted. He struggled to remain calm. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Well okay. Why’re you green all over?” Rake examined Mica’s wavy blonde hair with new green highlights. He poked at a trailing vine and snatched his hand back as it grabbed at him. “And why are you covered in plants growing like they’re on crack?”
Mica’s neon green eyes flicked over to Rake’s then away. “I’m not entirely sure of the why or how of it, Rake. It just happened.”
“You know what this means?” Rake slapped him on the back, sending him and Ravil a few feet down the hallway and Rake the opposite direction.
“Rake!” Ravil complained.
“At least you’re not nuts right?” Rake caught hold of the wall to stop his flight. “You’re just fucked up!”
“Yeah.” Mica eyed him.
The trio arrived at the operating room as Marx and Tasanee reached the lower-level hatch outside the OR doors. The tall, copper-skinned Hunter pushed Tasanee up first, letting the petite, Thai mechanic go ahead of him. She stepped aside as he jumped through the hatchway. He snagged hold of the walls with his claws, stopping him before he hit the ceiling.
Mica tapped on the OR doors. They opened at his touch, letting them all inside. The room beyond was half-lit.
Danny, Evgeniy, Oro, Darq, and Katarina stood inside the large medical hall. They waited on the left-hand side of the room where the floor spread out over the docking bay on the level below. Straps around their waists kept them attached to the floor.
Danny was covered in a mixture of mud and blood. The forty-seven-year-old former commander hadn’t slept in awhile and his face showed the strain of it.
Evgeniy didn’t look much better. He had bruises and scratches across his face, chest, arms and back. He rubbed them absentmindedly as he pulled the sliced pieces of his black jumpsuit back together.
Katarina’s white medical jumpsuit was soiled from mud and the tips of her blonde dreadlocks were brown and green from swamp muck, but she’d managed to towel most of the grime off and put her hair into a ponytail.
Darq could barely keep his purple eyes open. He injected himself with a stim shot to stay awake. The Rexos yawned, showing off the yellow insides of his mouth that matched his light yellow skin.
Out of those present, only Oro looked well off. The only thing out of place on the short twenty-four-year-old was his tangled, long black hair. He stayed by Danny’s side, looking concerned at the older man’s injuries.
All of them stayed near their two injured crewmates, two Hunters that had taken damage from the Stalkers they’d fled from on Seed Planet Fifteen. Lincoln was comatose. His body had been bandaged and tied to an operating table.
Kennedy was unconscious and suspended inside a glass recovery tank. The clear fluid inside had turned pink with her blood.
Ravil let go of Mica’s hand and floated towards Tasanee. She hugged her. “Congratulations on your mating, Rat!”
“Ravil?” Tasanee grinned. “You’re back to yourself! You have emotions again! What happened?!”
Ravil pointed to Rake. “He did it!” She shivered, still woozy. “He healed me.”
Evgeniy patted Mica on the shoulder and handed him some pants. “Nice trees.”
Mica slipped the clothes on and nodded to the Cosmonaut. “Uh, thanks, Czar.”
Oro grinned at Tasanee. “Did Marx tell you what you are yet?”
Katarina hugged Rake. “You look like shit! We thought you’d died or something.”
“Same to you, muddy buddy.” Rake smirked. “We crashed both USDs in the mountains, so we almost died.”
Tasanee ignored Oro and rounded on Rake. “You did what to my babies?!”
Rake pointed at Ravil. “Her fault! Totally, completely her fault!”
“It was not my fault!” Ravil squeezed Tasanee’s hand. “He was doing—”
“Will everyone shut up?” Danny glared at them. “Stop chattering like children! This is a formal debriefing! Form up.”
His former cadets jerked into position. They took a few steps back and formed a semi-circle with Darq and Danny as the focal points. Katarina retook her spot at Darq’s side, keeping the boy in place against her hip. Tasanee, Marx, Ravil, and Evgeniy took their cues from the others and stood at attention.
Sammy got on the intercoms. “Is everyone in good spots?”
Rake frowned. “Good spots for what?”
The room hummed. Their feet snapped to the floor, though they remained weightless. Sammy laughed. “Your jumpsuits have magnet things in the feet to keep you anchored when needed. Sorry, Mica.”
Mica shrugged. He was shoeless and floating a foot off the floor, while everyone else was rooted to the ground. “I’m fine.”
Darq yawned; the circles under his eyes were as purple as his irises. He spoke softly, “Thank you, Sammy.” He glanced down at his checklist. “Firstly, Ravil and Rake, what was your medical emergency?”
Ravil blushed pink. “It’s nothing.”
Rake caught her wrist. “Something attacked her in the place between while we were flying just now. Some weird space darkness hit her in the back and she nearly passed out while flying.”
She pulled her hand from his. “But I’m fine now.”
Darq looked her over. “You seem fine, though your jumpsuit indicates you took fire damage.”
“That’s all better.”
“Then I’ll see to you later.” He gestured to Lincoln. “Lincoln appears to be sound with Empire tech to repair him, but Kennedy…” he looked to Marx. “I know of none of your kind that survives that type of injury. Any information you could give would be appreciated, Marx.”
“I know of none either. I have not seen this type of injury in some time, barbaric.” The longhaired Hunter walked over to the wall of tanks and put his hand to the glass. He gazed at Kennedy with a mixture of anger and sadness on his face. Her head was raw and bleeding where the Stalkers had partially scalped her. Marx hissed and turned back to the others. His hair writhed around his head. He looked to Danny. “How did this happen while she was in your care?”
Danny met his gaze. “We found her that way when she returned to us. By the time—”
“Then why did you not return her with Czar?” Marx’s yellow eyes flashed.
Danny went pale under the Hunter’s gaze. “We would not have found the village or Mica without her. Lincoln said—”
“Lincoln is not in charge.” Marx snapped his teeth.
Danny recovered. “I know that! But Kennedy was adamant she help find Mica! We would never have gotten to the village otherwise!”
Mica turned a shade of gray and his hair shifted brown. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left my position. There’s no one to blame for this besides myself. I should have been able to protect her better. I shouldn’t have let her come with me.”
Darq cleared his throat, silencing them. “I don’t think blaming anyone is necessary or a good use of our time and energy. What has happened, happened. We must deal with the consequences as they are. We have injured crew.”
Marx rejoined Tasanee. His hair coiled into a braid. He glanced at Lincoln. “What is wrong with him?”
Mica folded his arms. “He took injuries, arrow wounds. Then he would not return with me so I had to render him unconscious. He wanted to kill all of the Stalkers in the village, which would have been suicide.”
Marx calmed and nodded. “He wanted to avenge her murder. It is the Hunter way. It would have been a good death for him.”
Katarina paled. “Kennedy’s not dead yet!”
Marx and Darq shared a look. Darq held Katarina’s hand. “If she survives it will be nothing short of a miracle.”
Mica went to stand by Kennedy’s tank. His vines slipped up his arms and brushed against the tank. “Then it wouldn’t be the first we’ve had today.”
Danny eyed Mica and looked to Darq. “Can you explain what is going on with him now?”
“Yes, but…” Darq pointed at Marx. “He has things to explain and he should start to explain now.”
The others looked at Marx. The tall Hunter smiled.
Danny frowned. “What does he have to explain?”
“He knows something.” Darq eyed Marx. “He is the only one here not surprised over what happened. Not only is he not surprised that he is now a Resister.” Marx hissed with laughter and nodded. Darq continued, “But he’s not surprised about the changes in Rat or Mica.”
“And Rake!” Ravil pointed. “He healed me.”
Darq looked her over. “And Rake. Marx?”
Marx shrugged. “I made logical inferences based on the data that was equally available to everyone. You seem to have deduced some of it yourself. You can all come to the same conclusions if you were to think on it.”
“How about you just tell us.” Katarina folded her arms. She had little patience for the Hunter.
Marx grinned at her anger. “It is more fun and educational to learn things yourself.”
Sold 5ooth Kindle book for profit today. 🙂 Yeah, it’s up in the few 1000s if you include free promo copies and lending copies, but I’m not. 🙂 So…woooo! That’s a milestone or something. I guess the next milestone is 1000 copies sold for profit. Maybe I’ll get there in another 6 months.
I’ve been doing this for ~8 months, but sales didn’t really pick up (at all) until December. So a nice 6 month run so far.
Maybe when I get to 1000 I’ll do some kind of promo giveaway/swag thing.