It is dark here. I feel alone, most of the time. Lost. The sounds of my brothers so far removed that I cannot be sure that they are real or just my imagination. The smell of the cloud sea is gone; these smells are unfamiliar to me. I do not know where I am, or how I came to be here. I was swimming with my brothers, I saw a strange light above me, and then nothing until I woke up here.
I stretch out, feeling the confines of the space where I am. It is small and angular, confined and hard. I drift, expanding my awareness. I can feel unfamiliar pathways connected with strange beings, some close, others far distant. I try to talk to the closest ones but they are mute and unresponsive. Reaching out, I explore the distant pathways...
Samantha Mcleod slouched in the co-pilot’s chair of the Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear, her feet up on the console. It had been a long day, and although she loved her work she didn’t particularly enjoy spending all of what was supposed to be her free time working on someone else’s ship, even if that someone was her some-time boyfriend, currently abroad exploring and ‘road-testing’ his new Diamondback Explorer, the Slippery When Wet.
Commander Calvert’s Cobra lay hidden in maintenance hangar 00, an unlisted dock that on occasion did double-duty as Sammy’s unofficial personal workspace. The diagnostic terminal in her hand was linked to the ship’s computer, which was resolutely refusing to provide the expected results from her routine power-management test.
The impact of the ship’s hull caused my head to ring. A heavy hand pushing my face against the cold metal, the taste of blood in my mouth and the smell of laser-scorched paint filled my senses.
“Seems you’ve been busy, Commander”, came the deep gravelled voice, “Why in such a hurry?”
“I outrank you, you son of a bitch, get your hands off…”
Another impact cut my sentence short, and brought with it a searing pain and a warm trickle of blood down my face. “The Senate does not care about your rank, Commander. It is only concerned with the truth. Information is all we want. Now, why not make it easy on yourself?”
The other officer had stood back silently until this point, presumably letting the heavy guy soften my resolve before he deemed it necessary to speak. His voice was almost snake-like; a whisper, “We tracked you here from Gliese 900.1...
15 years ago.
A backward world, in a backward part of the galaxy.
The fist came in fast from the right, taking me square in the jaw. My head whipped hard, my body hit the ground harder.
“What the frack?!” I spat out with the blood forming in my mouth.
A boot connected with my gut and I groaned and buckled over.
“Dimitri wants a word with you.” the voice from atop the boot snorted.
Dimitri…just what I needed right now….
“Bloody Hell. How about a nice comm call next time, shit.” I managed to get myself into a standing position and looked at my attacker in the eye. Well it was his chest actually, but my head wasn’t quite ready to look up to his face. “You tell Dimitri that I got it under control. I need like two more days…”
“Bullshit…you said that a week ago. Time’s up Bobby boy. Dimitri had enough with your lies...
She hit harder than I thought she would. I knew this wasn’t going to go well, but then, it didn’t start too well either…
I dumped Logan’s crumpled hull into the pad delicately enough for the landing gear to lock. It was ungraceful, to say the least, but when you are gasping for air as your life support fails, style is the least of your concerns. I’d been flying missions for CCP a while now, but this was the first time I’d crash-landed into one of their starports and needed them to save my life. They did their duties, but more out of curiosity than generosity.
I was cleared by the medical officer, and free to leave. The last 24 hours were a blur. I remembered seeing the station, and hitting the landing pad but… my head was still trying to piece everything back together. The smell of molten metal and the terrible grinding sound of a mutilated hull. Logan...