NaNoWriMo Chapter 2
Before getting to the main point of this post, we wanted to take a moment to offer our sincere appreciation for the men and women who serve (and have served) our country. Our freedom is because of your service and dedication. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do!
Last week, the Mr. shared Chapter 1 of his NaNoWriMo project (2,000 words written daily) with you. Read on as the adventure continues in Chapter 2, and keep checking back in. We will continue releasing chapters upon completion. We'd love to hear your feedback. Please consider leaving a comment below or shooting us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
And now, sit back enjoy as...
Walter shaded his eyes from the afternoon sun. It was sliced in two by the ring of moonrock, but it still shone brightly. His sister and he were saddled up in military gear. He wasn’t too happy with their new predicament. The council had assigned them to a heavy cruiser, instead of a colony ship, which meant stricter regulations than a colony ship. They would not have their single cabin and would have to reside in the common barracks with all the other crew. Only high-level officers had separate bunks for privacy. But at least they were leaving Earth. As a reward for their last mission, the council had deposited a large sum in appreciation. Ether was the rarest commodity in the known galaxy. It’s uses were still not completely known, but there seemed to be many.
Jess and Walter had talked about their plan before setting sail on the heavy cruiser. It had been a quick meeting in the privacy of their small cabin near the airstrip. They would work the job until they got into the new colonies. They would retire their commissions, and hire themselves out on a commercial ship, until they could buy their own. This was a huge change, and risky as anything, but it was their future. Jess kept calling it destiny, but Walter would just shrug the word off.
Jess lowered her head under the low entryway, as did Walter, and they found themselves in a low-lit environment. The lights were white and were embedded into the walls of the hallways. These would turn red at night, since there was no other way to tell time in the dark of space. Each shift would need to know what time it was, to ensure the exact schedule of a military ship. Consistency and efficiency were needed at all times. Jess looked around and shrugged, “Well its not stylish, but it’ll do.”
Walter just shook his head in exasperation and followed his sister through the ship’s corridors. It didn’t take them long to find the barracks. It was tight…cramped really. Walter was used to tight spaces, especially being in a spacesuit for most missions. Jess on the other hand was looking a bit squeamish, having been always able to enjoy the inside of a fairly spacious cockpit. They would make do. This was just the start of this journey. Jess nodded and put her best face of resolve into place.
“All quarters! Emergency! Code Red!” The ship’s alarm blared through the compartment.
Jess and Walter ran down the corridors, splitting up near the middle of the ship. Walter was expected to help with security at the outer doors in case of unwelcome boarding parties. Jess shot up toward the forward section, where she would help in the main command center in navigation. As Jess reached the command deck, she realized what was happening. She could see the captain of the ship with his hands behind his back, shouting out commands. “Okay, that’s enough ensign, call the ship to stand down.”
“Yes, sir.” The ensign flipped a switch and then spoke calmly into the comms. “All hands stand down. I repeat, stand down.”
Now, Jess wasn’t stunned by the commands given, knowing that most commanders would run their crews through similar training simulations. She was stunned by the face of the captain. Captain Argent turned to her, and he smiled genuinely at her. His ears seemed to move with his smile, making him look very comical. “Well, howdy Captain Argent!”
“Hello, Jess, and welcome aboard! A bit surprised to see me, eh?”
“You could say that cap’n. But a very nice surprise. You always were good to me and my brother.”
The captain’s smile faded, and he moved to clasp his hands in front of him. “Well, Jess, there will be no special treatment here. You will do as you are commanded and if your conduct is fitting, then we will have a good flight. If not, well, let’s just not go there. What do you say?”
Smiling, he turned away from her and issued more mundane orders to the command crew.
Jess was left flabbergasted. So it was gonna be a tight ship she sailed on for this flight. She resolved to make the captain and her brother proud. Just wait til she told Wally who was in charge. She almost chuckled outright, but held it in. This flight was gonna be entertaining at the very least.
Now, the thing about a heavy cruiser, is that it is a medium-sized warship. It is faster than a battleship, but slower than a destroyer. It has armaments in the mid-range, right between a battleship and a destroyer. The ship is built for offensive and defensive campaigns. It is possibly the most used warship in any space battle. The only thing that troubled Walter about this, was why were they being sent into the frontier alone. It just didn’t make sense. They weren’t protecting a convoy of merchant ships, or a military fleet sent from Earth. So, what was their mission?
That question would have to wait until he had more time to think. Right now, well, he had his hands full patrolling the full length of the ship. As he passed by one of the lobbies used for recreation by the off-duty crew, he was able to catch a glimpse out one of the viewports. It was like looking at the red dusk of Earth’s simple sky; yet it seemed pulled out into the actual sky. No horizon could be seen, and pulsating light fed the scene with hues that should not be possible. He loved space, and its unique qualities. Once they had their own ship, they would be able to explore these beautiful scenes at will. They just had to fulfill their duties for the next two years.
Finding out that the Captain was Argent was a bit of a shock, and his sister had laughed loudly in his face after seeing his expression. She could be rude at times, well quite a few times, okay maybe his whole life, but he still loved her. He would find his own way to get back at her, something subtle, she hated subtlety. He smirked as he thought through his plans, staring, literally, into space. “So, kid, you got yourself stuck on patrol, but your patrol seems stuck.” A burly looking man, bald, with small ears and a large bulgy nose stood next to him. The man seemed unkempt, dirt smudges on his rolled-up sleeves, and a grayish-white undershirt sticking out of his uniform only added to this image. “Uh, yeah, sorry, I’ll be going...” Walter started to move down the hallway. The man slapped him on the back hard and laughed, “I was just kidding with you, boy. I just got off my shift and you look like an interesting addition to this crew. Seein’ as I know most of the folks that belong to the ‘Lionguard’.”
“Oh yeah…?” Unsure, Walter wavered between continuing his patrol and talking with this newcomer.
“What did you do before this, son? You look like you know your way ‘round a ship.”
“I…we…my sister and I used to do moon missions for the council.” Walter sighed feeling the shame of having left that part of his life.
“Wha?! Why’d you join this cruise ship? Ya know we just go from one end of one galaxy to the end of another, right? Boring as anything!” The man looked exasperated and his bald pate was turning a shade of red that did not look healthy.
“Yeah, well, sorry. I’ll be moving along now, sir.” Walter started down the hallway at a quick pace.
“Don’t call me ‘sir’, kid, I ain’t no overblown officer!” The man turned back into the lounge and threw his arms in the air. “Can you believe this generation of spacers?!”
Walter was dealing with the anger, shame, and confusion of the encounter with the man. He was smart! They made this decision to gain the freedom they had always desired. That man seemed to think he had given up a golden ticket. He was wrong, and he had no idea of the risk to life and limb that they had taken daily. It may be boring on this ship, but they would live long enough to find the future they both desired. Jess understood the plan, that’s all that mattered.
As he walked down the hallway, a shudder ran down the middle of the ship. At first he thought he was just imagining it, but a second shudder, much stronger warned him that his instincts had been right. A blaring alarm started, “All Hands, prepare for boarding! Intruder Alert!” Walter ran toward the front of the ship, and then stopped suddenly. He had been running to protect Jess, but he had realized that his first duty was to guard any nearby entryways. He positioned himself at the closest airlock, looking up and down the corridors for anything suspicious. The man that he had met before, was walking quickly down the hallway from the lounge, he had a barstool in his hands. He was stocky and muscular, looking dangerous, even with such a ridiculous weapon. “Sorry kid, the name’s Tyke. I just realized we didn’t get off to a good start. So…your name being??” Tyke gave him a sideways glance with a lifted eyebrow.
“My name is Walter. Sorry if I upset you back there…” Walter stared back at him with a sheepish look.
“No problem Wally! We are all family on this ship. Anybody messes with one of us, they mess with all of us!” Tyke’s glare turned to the airlock, where a thud could be heard against the outer door.
Jess was trying to make out all of the readouts on the security screens in front of her. “Captain! They are small ships, one or two-person craft, and they seem to be all over our ship. They are trying to enter from every entry point available. It looks like they are trying to overwhelm our defenses!”
Captain Argent turned from his own station, “How in the world did they bypass our anti-boarding defenses? Those guns could have easily cleared every craft off of the hull!”
They both looked at each other with eyes wide, shouting in unison, “We’ve been betrayed!”
Another ensign at a station close to the captain shouted, “Sir, all airlocks are being opened.”
“They are breaking through already?!?” Argent looked about to punch the screen.
“No, sir, they are being opened by the software!”
Jess ran over to the ensign’s computer screen. What she saw there made her realize how dire the situation was at this moment. Several hundred intruders would enter with very few security measures to show any resistance. The few security officers available at the entries would be overrun by the unknown intruders, especially if they had anything similar to a low-tech laser pistol. Her brother was down there, and she couldn’t do anything to help!
Walter turned to Tyke, “You know that barstool isn’t going to do much against actual firearms, right?”
Tyke grimaced, “Yeah, but it’s better’n usin’ my hands!” With that he let out a sharp bark of a laugh.
Walter imagined if his hands hadn’t been occupied, he would have given him a huge slap on the back. He was grateful that Tyke had his hands full at the moment.
The banging on the door intensified, and Walter stepped closer to look through the viewport. He saw men in spacesuits, they were old suits, and the men had low-tech laser pistols. They looked like a ragtag bunch of outlaws. Suddenly, the full weight of a barstool came crashing down on his back and neck. As the darkness overtook him, he could hear Tyke say, “Sorry, kid, but we got work to do, and I ain’t lettin’ no one get killed if I can help it.” The swish of air from the airlock opening was the last thing he felt, along with a feeling of despair and worry for his sister.
Jess turned to look at the security screens, her brother had been incapacitated by a traitorous member of their crew. She slammed her fists into the console near her, provoking a light alarm from the console itself. She quickly looked back and saw the captain with his eyebrow raised, looking at her. “Everything alright Jess? I mean, notwithstanding the current order of things.” He smirked and continued, “Do not always think that the situation is beyond our control, your brother was knocked out, not killed. This is a good thing.” He came over and laid his hand gently on her shoulder. “So calm down, and help me figure out how to save the ship, not help destroy her.” Another smirk. Jess sighed and let her shoulders relax, “Aye, aye captain! Let’s figure a way out of this.” She put more enthusiasm in her voice than she felt, since she felt none. Her brother was her life, and after the deaths of their parents, it became even more true. Suddenly, she was hit with an idea. “Sir! If we reset the ship’s engine core, we could kick out the software that is messin’ with everything!”
Nodding Argent stared at her, “But, who, in God’s name, will make the trek through the underbelly of the ship to bypass the intruders? It has to be someone small, and have knowledge of the ship’s engine core.” As he said it, Argent, squeezed his eyes shut and put his hand to them.
“I can do it!” Jess lit up, and started toward the bulwark entry hatch.
Sighing, the captain nodded, “Okay, but if you are going we are fitting you in a fibroflesh suit. That should take care of most weapons they have; and give you an upper hand if the air gets sucked out into space. They were expensive suits, rare, and only used on the most dangerous missions. Her brother had always worn one, which had shown how dangerous his job had been. As she suited up, the captain pulled a dagger-looking object from his belt. When he unsheathed it she could see it start to glow blue and heard it humming. “This is an energy blade, it is only given to captains. Use it, and do the work that needs to be done. Well, and then get your butt back here alive!” He turned and walked back to his command chair, sitting down swiftly.As she opened the hatch, she looked back to the bridge. These people were going to possibly die if she did not do her duty well. Jess promised her brother, in her mind’s eye, that she would not fail him. “I’ll fix this kiddo.” She whispered under her breath as she closed the hatch behind her, and the darkness of the small passageway enveloped her.
(Click to "turn the page" to Chapter 3)
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