Author, Mini Series, Novel, Science Fiction, Writing

Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode Three: Breaking-in

K8 successfully traversed the contraction. JOS looked out of the viewport to see the hulking, angular remains of an Ancient’s ship. The biggest he’d seen this intact. Voiyn went into a flurry of action, stopped, turned to face the compartment. “K8 has an amazing sensorial array. First, infrared.”, he instructed.

Poomph!

The ship rocked on invisible threads in the sea of nothing, as the IR drones launched from it’s belly. Ten shells in all, each containing five probes. Have a unit in size, and as black as the void, it was impossible for JOS to follow as they worked.

“No external heat, loiñl*must be defending inside. Don’t die little monkie…” Voiyn silenced the tiny OhkBD with a jab from his talon. In the immediate silence after, the whole crew could hear the strain on the synth-metal plate. Seriousness returned, somehow JOS didn’t feel as tense anymore, like the atmosphere had thinned.

“Then we use Boomers.”

Two thumps, each an audio emitter and receiver. By pumping out ultra low frequency to ultra high frequency waves throughout the ship. Creating a three-dimensional model of the entire structure, excluding air tight compartments. Data streamed into K8’s brain, and began to form into a map from the holoprojector. JOS watched the map draw itself in greater and greater detail. Finished it was like nothing he’d ever seen.

Elaborate corridors in circular designs, weaving throughout the ship in complex, even overlapping, what he could only assume, corridors. Much of this floating rock remained internally intact, a nearly functional structure.

Voiyn unstrapped, standing from the pilots seat. Walking up to the projection, examining it carefully. The crew stood, following Voiyn’s lead, JOS tried to understand the design before thinking about looking for something out of place.

What do you see?” Voiyn’ too close voice startled JOS.

Circles. Paths. A ship. His mind tumbled, he took a breath, gathering his thoughts in the process, “I see a very complex design, like a catacomb intended to house life. Determining what’s in these sealed compartments will give us a better idea.” JOS completed the idea.

“Good. This time we don’t though. Throughout the Vale, there are a decent amount of these. Zepzhyr, half-alive. Two have been converted into Pits.” Voiyn lectured, “These seven compartments,” His touch leaving red chevrons along one side of the vessel, “are our secondaries. Getting to these can prove difficult. He’s probably in the main hangar.” Voiyn tapped the huge hollow spot on what he assumed was rear.

“How will we get in?” NaN asked with a little too much confidence.

“We have a few choices. Best to enter through the manual hatch from outside.” Focusing his talons to a point, he touched the external portion of the projection. Expanding his fingers, magnified the image. He then spun it a quarter-turn, revealing a flat panel JOS assumed was the entry point.

“The hunt start’s here.” Voiyn assured them, “Go below, and prepare. I’ll meet you in the depress. Essec, con. Vahl, guns. Disable only. You two,” Voiyn motioned to JOS and NaN, “grab a 5-dij* immobilizer. There should be two Twister-AP6’s for you.”

Neither cared if there were more instructions or not, bolting to the common compartment in the first curve of the ship. Then slid down to cryoprison/armory. Amongst the various immobilizers were two shoulder stabilized, hip shot weapons. Bulky and strange. Cylindrical cartridges were lined next to the weapons.

Both reached for their own, first the Twister which attached to the magtag along their spines, followed by their ammunition, securing the cartridges to their belts.

“Pralo, this is real.” JOS almost yelled.

“I know!” NaN barely restraining himself.

“If you die… so will I, to kill you a second time.”

“You first.”

Both roared, any nerves had been lost.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

JOS, and NaN pulled their matching helmets from the nearby rack. Sliding them on the suits gave a temporary glow, as it sealed itself. JOS watched the suits computer analyze his body composition, physical diagnostics, and personal biometrics.

SYNC? The suit asked

“Yes, now.” JOS demanded, it felt nice.

Lines of code scrolled past his eyes.

SIGN?

“Fligar*.”

“Ragilf*.” Came from NaN. Using the call-signs they’d created cycles ago, just for such a moment. Their secret identifier, so they’d always be aware of the other, even if they were enemies.

Excitement bubbling, the two went to exchange glances. Frozen by the shock of their appearances. Both stared into the reflection of themselves off the mirrored surface of the angular face shield.

“Pralo…”

“I know…”

JOS let out some air.

“Let’s get ‘im.” NaN slapped JOS on the back of the head.

A final embrace, the two ascended to the common compartment, cocksure. No words along the way. Waiting for them in the depress, Voiyn stood fully regalia. Rather than the basic oblong helmet, Voiyn’s elaborate headpiece was as or more foreboding then the being himself.

Sharp, black horns protruding out of the back. Golden, grotesque teeth formed a sinister smile across the face. JOS had to force through the momentary lurch of fear it cased.

“How d’you activate the external audio.” NaN’s amplified voice causing enough feedback to double over JOS, and Voiyn. As JOS reoriented himself, he saw NaN fly into the back of the compartment from the great reptile’s slap. “No outgoing coms for you.” Voiyn snarled, JOS suppressed a laugh. Continuing, “The control mechanisms are opposite your aural cavities. Left, “ he demonstrated on NaN,”outgoing. Right, external receiving.”

JOS inserted his index into the device, and audible click was followed by a ringing. Clearing up, he could hear the hollowness of the space, as NaN picked himself off the wall.

“You three done? I’ve been ready to drop you for six circuits now.” Vahl sounded agitated.

“Depressurize.” Voiyn not losing control for a sphere.

“Depressurizing now.”

JOS’s nerves made his body feel like an automatron. Aware of his actions, and consciously deciding them. Only, his body performed the in-between. Coupled with the depress, every part of him felt foreign.

“Compartment depressurized.”

“Open up K8. JOS, NaN, stay close. Emergency situations are the only reason you should leave my side.”

“Valegbosh.” Chorused the youth.

Opposite the entrance, a portion of the bulkhead silently slid into itself revealing the external plate shielding. A hiss as the shielding detached and swung into the void. The behemoth sat before them. JOS had never seen an object so large. It’s entirety had to be close the size of the whole Servitude Colony, he couldn’t even see the ends.

“Jump. Magboots first. Directly onto that smooth octagon. On my lead.” Voiyn gave them a parting flick of his digit. Effortlessly, Voiyn took the outboard handholds, JOS followed, NaN came out, positioning himself like his comrades. “Watch closely.” Voiyn lifted his body perpendicular to the ship. Aiming with his feet, he pushed with his arms. Nice and gentle, Voiyn glided across the hundred unit gap. Imitating, JOS pointed his feet, one last check before he leaped. NaN looked good to go.

JOS inhaled deep, pulling himself to K8. Watching the point where his heels met, he exhaled and pushed. Sensationless motion caused his mind to race as he watched himself fly straight for Voiyn, already landed and waiting.

Closer, and closer, until he heard the definitive click from his magboots attaching to the surface. Looking up, NaN had another ten units before touching down. Relieved, JOS threw out some encouragement, “You look as graceful as a pxois* dancer.”

Unable to receive a response, JOS imagined NaN’s contorting features trying not to laugh. JOS barely contained his own.

“NaN, outgoing coms on.” Voiyn commanded. “Hereforth, your life is threatened, focus yourselves accordingly. Anything trapped in a corner is likely to fight o the death to live.”

“Valegbosh.” the crew responded.

JOS watched intent to learn. Voiyn unslung a rectangular device from his shoulder, placed it against the far edge of the panel on which they stood. “Step back.”

JOS and NaN moved back to the outside edge of the octagon. Placing a hand on the device,Voiyn became basked in the fluorescent blue glow emitting from his hand’s outline.

The center of the ‘access hatch’ fell into itself. “On, quick.” growled Voiyn. Both maneuvered awkwardly onto the platform. Voiyn fingered the device in an apparently random series. JOS’S eyes were fixed on the dazzling light. “Let’s make these easy orn.” Voiyn disconnected the box, and slung it back up on his shoulder as the platform descended into the heart of the floating giant.

Loiñl – an insult something like scared baby.

Pxois – an dancing entertainer whom has no skill or ability.

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Author, Mini Series, Novel, Science Fiction, Writing

Act One | Chapter One: A Pack With a Mission | Episode Two: Target Locked

“Your debt has been increased by 9,107 orn*.” Immediately followed the greatest news in his life. Before JOS had an opportunity to protest. Voiyn continued, “Acquiring them took time. Your omni-suits have taken time to earn. To date your earnings sum 9,107 orn. Now that you have them. Earn your place in my Horde.” Voiyn looked deep into JOS with those eyes. Releasing him, JOS felt relieved when his gaze focused on NaN.

The cool chill of excitement went down his spine when Voiyn stood his full 2.7 Units. His taloned gauntlet motioned for Essec to stand.

“This is as close to a ceremony you’ll get, we don’t really do fancy.” The smoothness of Essec’s fluid articulation put them both at ease. Even as he reached for the matte black cubes stacked in the corner of the compartment, every action minimal, sliding them across the metal flooring with is foot. A black Unit-Cube* at each of NaN, and JOS’s feet.

No longer would they be stuck being hangers-on aboard the ship, cleaning while the team did the important work. The fact OhkBD stayed onboard, felt more like a punishment, “Open them.” Essec instructed further.

JOS stared. At a loss for words. His first new thing, ever. And of all things an omni-suit!

Excitement overpowered reverence as JOS’s fingers eagerly undid the synth-metal* locks. Somehow his hands were moving on their own, lifting the lid. Inside, a really folded omni-suit, azure with white accents on the joints. Off to the corner a matching helmet, the vyinellin’s wings wrapped the crown, lined with white on an equally azure background.

“Wake me up, before I believe this is real.” NaN broke his focus. “You wouldn’t wake up if we tried anyway.” JOS quipped.

NaN glared for a sphere, suddenly his attention shifting down, “Pralo*, we’ve got matching suits.”

“We are ‘brothers.’”, JOS performed the two finger sign of a joke, the whole room snickered.

“If you’re going to copulate, please do so elsewhere.” OhkBD was probably going to focus on that the rest of the rotation. JOS rolled his eyes at the thought. Not even OhkBD’s dung flinging attitude could ruin the mood.

“Prepare yourselves now.” Voiyn commanded, scanning the rest of the circle, he ended the e.r.* council, “Adjourned.”

The black body slip felt tight and comfortable. JOS wiggled his toes feeling the silky material between them. “Who’s fantasizing now?” He shot NaN a look. “I can believe it, I didn’t think they’d ever let us off this thing except pick up garbage until we paid ’em back.”

“When he said our debt increased… I nearly blacked out.”

“Voiyn’s got a sense for funny pralo.” NaN smirked.

“I’m really starting to believe you about that.” JOS laughed to himself, thinking how the great reptiles timing was perfect. Totally aware of how intimidating he is, using it to create humor.

He’d left the omni-suit folded on top of its cube. Bending down to pick it up was like opening the case. The rough looking material felt strangely smooth as he admired the design and placement of white throughout. JOS slipped his limbs through the opening feet first. Then filling the gloves to the finger tips, the suit still seemed big.

Confused, but unrelenting JOS did up his mag tags. Attaching the final mag tag the suit shrunk. “Look!” NaN looked just as he finished his own, “What?!” Nan exclaimed incredulously.

Both suits fit to their bodies. JOS watching in amazement as the nanotech sealed the suit to the elements, it was beautiful. Matrices of light, twisting and twirling, making the suit its own self contained environment once the helmet was attached. Resisting the urge, JOS slid his feet back in his magboots.

“What a chance! Imagine if all those quovora* could see us.” JOS said, half to NaN, half to his reflection in the helmet.

“What if bÆW were here.” NaN laughed. JOS snickered instantly, imagining the poor boy who was terrified of everything. A giggle slipped out despite the empathy he felt for poor youngling still probably stuck in the Juxl Colony.

Dressed and ready, the two clasped hands grinning ecstatically, picking up their helmets and proceeding below to the hanger deck.

Like when they first arrived, JOS was unable to keep his eyes off the K8-Blackstar. The strange curve that made-up it’s crewspace and cockpit. The strange “personnel hold” that jut straight out into a beveled point matching the one under the cockpit. Lit well by the hanger lights, the K8 managed a bluish black shine, with accents of orange on the outboard equipment. Once in the void only sensors could see it, if they were strong enough.

OhkBD demonstrated how powerful the sensors needed to be to see it. The average ship might catch it if physically close enough, the K8 would destroy anything within the kind of range required. She was an invisible murderess in the dark. JOS was on edge from the excitement, as NaN and he approached the boarding lift.

“The order taken from Notan’s Pit is a Capture-Only hunt.” Voiyn began the prehunt assignments. “All experienced hunters will take support. You two, with me. Should you perform well, and follow instructions. One of you may get to take him yourself.” JOS was paralyzed, caught up in the thrill, his eyes locked into the amber slits of of Voiyn’s.

“Our target,” Voiyn spoke directly to NaN and him, “is a detprize*, caught trying to escape from the crew he was bought by. We’ll get the most orn for the least damage to it. Our chase may seem easy. Don’t underestimate anything fighting for its life.

“We are!” Voiyn started.

“VOIYN’S HOUNDS!” ,the crew finished, even the miniature onscreen OhkBD on the operator console.

“OhkBD, set our navigation to the last know location.” Voiyn ran the pack.

“Yahdah*, co-ords set, transferring with overlaps of most likely locations the little gærg is sneaking about.”, the lanky creature’s cackle sounded choked by the systems audio.

The sector began to draw itself in the center of the K8’s crew compartment as the data was organized. Their target’s estimated location appeared in a translucent gold sphere. K8’s a red sphere, everything else in blue. “We’ll jump here,” Voiyn’s golden, claw tipped finger pointed,”below, away from our standard orientation. Should he run. We push him into Essec and Vahl. He’s piloting a single man transport with basic defenses. If he is scared, you two disable his ship. No one get hurt for this one.” JOS heard a strange note in Voiyn’s voice. Was it, care? JOS refocused.

“Let’s go get your first.” Voiyn clapped both boys shoulders hard on way to the operator’s seat. Essec and Vahl were already in their jump seats facing center, along the bulkhead. Understanding the procedure JOS, and NaN took their seats as well.

Engines whined in a tinnitus ring as they strained to get K8 off the ground. JOS was beside himself feeling the positive g’s pushing on his body, as they exited Valevyinellin’s body. Essec winked reassuringly with his amphibious, hazel-grey eyes.

Far enough from the ship, K8 contracted. Gravity pulled from in front of, expanding the space behind it. K8 pulled itself across the “shortened” space from their current point, just outside the target’s sensor range.

*orn – currency throughout the Vale.

*synth-metal – an atomically configured carbon molecule mass, can be shaped into practically any shape, and any hardness science can allow.

*Unit-Cube – literally 1 Unit Cubed, standard size for storage containers.

*e.r. – early rotation the first 1000 Circuits of a rotation.

*quovora – those who are easily forgotten

*detprize – a typical bounty, usually a recently acquired crew member who escape their purchaser.

*yahdah – Roger!

To be continued next week…

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