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, Science Fiction, Writing

VALE HOUND Episode Zero: Prologue – The Vale

         A remote region of space.

         Littered with the debris of some ancient battle.

          Forgotten by those who’d fought it, the scattered result of gravity implosions that are assumed to have ended whatever war this was. The distortions in space slowly collecting the remnants into ghost worlds at the center of the gravity wells. Currently more akin to an asteroid field, rather than organic material, made up of the ships destroyed in the conflict. Inhabited by bands of scavengers living among the fragments of the past.

          Lording over these Packs throughout the Vale, are the corporations. Five of them own the salvaging rights over an equal section of the coveted territory. Together they make up the Board for Surveying Ancient Technologies, a glorified meat processor of recyclable materials with the promise of a huge find. Once a team could claim a valuable, intact, artifact they would be elevated to the position of administrator within the Corp. of that section, where the easy life was promised.

          Independent researchers have tried to calculate the average lifespan in the Vale. Inconclusive, the results speculate between 37-58 cycles. Born into indebted parents, children are levied against their parents debt, accumulating their own cost-to-live debt. Manage to earn back the debt, and the child will be introduced to civil society. If unable by 15, a pack of hounds will buy the young ones debt, enlisting them until they’ve earned back the remainder of their cost, generally between 15-20 cycles.

          A volatile way of life, well enjoyed by those living it. Young boys in the many Juvenile Servitude Colonies are sold the dream of making their name amongst the legendary Vale Hounds, the Valegbosh. Heroes, celebrated and dramatized by the Board of Surveying Ancient Technologies. Characters whom have made important discoveries, or subdued huge rare bounties from one of the many interstellar criminals camping in the seclusion offered by the Vale.

          Thriving beings from a great many sectors have worked to make the region more hospitable. Establishing colonies using salvaged materials, and wreckage from the living quarters left intact off the dead behemoths of war. Given new life as satellite communities, mangled floating messes on the outside, with makeshift armoring, pleasantly dubbed Pits. Between three and five hundred Pits are estimated throughout the Vale. Each it’s own law, and source of revenue. Suited individually to the interests of those who operate, or own the Pit. From Pit to Pit the community is represented differently: from bazaars, to luxurious lounges, to dens where all carnal desires may be met.

          Wild and free, yet bound by the constraints of the corporations, therefore the borders of the Vale. Around it’s 307.762lightcycles* border, the Board of Surveying Ancient Technologies has a satellite grid intended to search out any lifeform who attempt to leave before repaying their debt. Not only does it act to keep those enslaved within, it all allows the Corporations to keep out any unwanted “authorities”, or individuals that draw too much attention.

          Occasionally, the corporations will commission new vessels to be subsidized to the various Pit Alpha’s running their Pit. Due to the infrequency of these commissions many hunter ships have been pieced together, ingeniously, with whatever could accomplish the job.

          Pit Alpha’s receive large packets of requests from the corporation in control of their particular sub sector. Depending on the request, depends on the Pit Alpha selected, the only know holder of a list of all Pit’s and their leaders are hidden within the upper echelon of the corporations. Pit Alpha’s distribute the jobs amongst their favored of the Vale Hounds within their influential territory.

          Vale Hounds generally operate out of a specific Pit, it isn’t uncommon however to find Hound’s hopping between Pit’s. The promise of more, and better paying work is a temptation for many. Breeding intense rivalries between the packs, and shady cloak and dagger transactions.

          Scavengers have ten a liking to mind altering substances to pass the time between hops, and long stints without work. Most are produced for individual use because of cross species tolerance.. Though, lack of purchasable product leads some to imbibe exotic substances with potentially fatal effects. Surprisingly very few deaths occur from these overdoses, usually the creature in the practice of use is well educated on the physiological effects of the substance they produce. Ready to expel the substance from any user not prepared for its effects.

           Religious organizations have found a place among some Pits, where one species dominates the census. Yet, it’s been difficult to gain a foothold spreading their word due to the extreme diversity present in the Vale. Multitudes of beings have also brought their own unique religions as well, creating an open tolerance for religious independence.

           Pits typically gain revenue from the Packs collecting bounties, and completing scavenging quotas. Some are known to profit primarily from slave fighting tournaments, and gambling houses. Seen by the inhabitants as part of their corrupted lives. More distractions for them to forget their position as indentured servants. Some enter themselves as an attempt to win the large purses for the champion of these lethal gladiatorial tournaments. Certain Packs force new enlistees to prove that they are worth the price the Vale Hound paid for them.

* * *

          Voiyn’s Horde is one of these scavenging Packs. Voiyn Valegbosh leads one of these Pack’s in the South South-Western subsection controlled by Notan’s Pit. Jxul Juvenile Servitude Colony having just released a group of young ones for enlistment, Voiyn has successfully has bought the debts of two underrated, spirited humanoids for a relatively low price. Being of an ape-like decent, they would prove adaptable and quick to learn. As a second-rated scavenging crew, it was important for him to acquire indispensable workers at every possible opportunity. Teaching them would take time, but it would also take a long time to earn off the debt owed to Voiyn.

*Cycle: the time it takes for the average inhabitable planet to travel around it’s star.

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