Another Little Preview - Indomitable
Well I've just finished writing the sequel to In Search of the Maiden Light, which I previewed back in February. It's long too, the longest thing I've ever written. The first edit is going to be a huge task! That's my 2021 writings and I'm not going to share any of that with you today. Instead here's some more of my 2020 writings.
It's called Indomitable, and it is a Sci-Fi horror story. It was orginally meant to be a short story but then it grew too long. Don't know what I am going to do with it yet, but thought I should at least share the 1st chapter with you on here. Be aware this is still a WIP, so if you have any feedback feel free to send it my way. Enjoy!
They had found it. Captain Riley couldn’t quite believe it but there, flickering away in front of her on the old monitor screen, it buzzed in pixelated glory. They’d found it, an alien spaceship. Deep, at the very edges of charted space, partially illuminated by the dying light of stars many light years away. Ghosts flickering away from a long lost past. Otherwise the ship was shrouded in a sea of blackness. This was the very stuff of interstellar pioneers. Riley couldn’t help but chuckle to herself: it was going to make her famous, and filthy rich.
She knew the crew were awaiting her orders, but she didn’t care, she wanted to savour the moment. Breath into it, feel every triumphant second of it pass through every sense of her body. To feel alive. This must have been how Admiral Vestoon felt when he discovered Valotoraan Prime, or when the explorers of old earth discovered the new home world those many centuries ago. She leant back in her chair, with her hands resting upon the top of her shaved head, and studied the shape on the screen in front of her. A smile crept onto her face. This was going to be her defining moment.
Relaxing, and breathing deeply, her body flickered with excitement. She let herself get lost in her triumphant day-dreams with only the old engines and support systems of their freighter coughing away. Of palaces made of priceless stone and crystal, of luxurious sport craft, and every delight of a paradise world. She deserved it. The decades spent on those long haul cargo vessels. She had lost count of how many disappeared as she locked herself in the dark confines of the barges, lost in deep astral hibernation. The effort she put in to save up enough credits to purchase her own ship and crew and then after that, the years spent rummaging for salvage and scrap on the space lanes. Her ship the Indomitable was an old freighter, long ago decommissioned and a hunk of junk that took every opportunity it could to break. The crews she hired and then fired were not much better. At least the current batch were competent. She wouldn’t need them for much longer though. No, not with the trawl they were about to bring in.
Her parents had tried to wean her off it all when she was young. Back when she found herself on one of those dull civic worlds, were everything was dull and perfect. That’s what she remembered anyway. They told her that her whole life would disappear around her with little but rough interstellar haulers, menial droids, and the cold void of space for company. That she would never see her home, her family or anyone she loved again. She didn’t leave anyone behind when she left those uncountable years ago. Where were they now? Long dead and forgotten. Here she was on the edge of glory, having existed for over two hundred years but having only aged to 36. A young 36 at that. Astral hibernation agreed with her. Some poor souls just wasted away. Anyway she found that she liked being one of those rough interstellar sailors. If she could have grown a beard or learnt how to properly spit into a bucket she would have. There was still time yet - maybe she could get one grafted onto her chin the next time they stopped by New Hope spaceport? There was probably weirder stuff awaiting her on the paradise worlds.
Riley kept on studying the object in front of her. It was unlike anything she’d ever seen. Indeed it looked more akin to a floating castle, then a ship. The alien craft was made up of a series of pyramid shapes, all joined together side by side, circling a huge central dome. It glistened too as if made from glass or crystal. How it had survived cast away in the vacuum of space was beyond her – it looked like the most delicate piece of flotsam she had ever seen. Like the sort of crystal glass that every fancy individual seemed to own. But that didn’t bother her much, meant there was a better chance the stuff inside would be exotic, mysterious, and of course priceless. What was even better was that there wasn’t even any signs of life on board - it was theirs for the taking. The two old haulers who’d given them the tip back at New Hope had sworn by it. They’d been right as to its location why wouldn’t they be right otherwise? Riley couldn’t quite understand why they hadn’t trawled the thing themselves. She supposed it was just too daunting for the two old timers. Maybe they didn’t want riches and fame? Didn’t want the attention? That’s why many come out to this dark edge of the galaxy. They were odd sorts, all wrapped in cloaks, their bodies mostly hidden. Had a lot of metal bionics. They had probably had an accident at some point, not fit enough to do such a task. Whatever it was, she and her crew weren’t going to waste this opportunity.
The old comlinks on the console in front of her crackled to life. She had always intended to rejig it – was too late now.
“Captain? Imma guessin you can see this?”
It was her first mate. Riley chuckled to herself as she leant back in her chair. Placing a thick gloved finger on a button, the crackling stopped momentarily.
“Oh hell yes I do Blake. Hell yes I smethin do!”
She pulled her finger back with a bounce, a huge grin stretching across her face. Fumbling through the pockets of her old leather flight jacket she found a small packet of nutri-gum. Then unwrapping a sheet she placed it in her mouth and began to chew triumphantly. Her eyes salivated at the sight of the flickering crystal structure. The coms crackled once more to life.
“Shall we proceed on course towards it Captain?”
Again she pressed down upon the button with a bounce.
“Oh hell yes! Dock us next to the thing, nice and gentle like and let’s get ready to trawl!”
“Yes C’ptain.” came the reply.
The buzz of the ships engines roared and spluttered into life. The bridge was then full of noise as Riley began to feel the ship pull itself forwards. She never liked the din. It was as if a collection of rusty nails was being shaken violently inside a small metal box. The coughing and spluttering sounds never filled her with much confidence either. Still the Indomitable had seen her through many adventures. It would get her through this one too. She pulled chunky headphones over her ears and plugged it into the console. She still needed to hear her crew.
Pulling herself from her chain, her heavy boots thudded onto the metal grating underneath her, the vibrations of the ship rushing up through her legs to her head. Her teeth chattered away in stereo with the rattle of the engines. She did her best to focus on her chewing, though she could hardly feel her jaw. The din would subside - once the ship ached itself out of its drunken stupor. It was as if it were an old astral dog, who would creak and groan when roused, but once they started their work would be just as fit and agile, if not more so, then the young salts. Still she wished she had a better ship. At least she wouldn’t need it for much longer. Maybe she could get a new one with the treasure from the alien craft? She couldn’t help but let her mind wander back to her dreams. A sleek sports skiff would be nice.
Finally the ships engines stopped groaning and the chatter of her teeth subsided. She could actually feel herself chew her gum again. As if on cue the crackle of coms burst through her headphones. A tiny voice then followed, barely able to reach her ears. It was as if they were in the distance and unable to project. Meant someone wasn’t using it correctly. Riley tightened her fist in frustration. She knew who it was and immediately pressed the button on coms and interrupted.
“Dammit Gousten, you’re on the wrong bloody channel again.” the Captain said, her gum crushed between clenched teeth.
Gousten was a dullard, an idiot. Sometimes she forgot why she hired him. He had no grasp of technology. Everything seemed to break when he touched it. In fact when anything broke she just blamed him. Probably a bit unfair sometimes, it wasn’t like he was a junior member of the ship. He took it all in his stride mind. In fact it had become a running joke with the crew. If anything went wrong, no matter how small, and no matter where he was, and who might be responsible, it was always his fault. Any outsider checking the logs would be confused as to why we kept him aboard if he was that bad. Indeed their Hamilton often complained how they were all messing up the records. Gousten was big though, strong and, though dull, curious, friendly, and very loyal. He was also obsessed with relics from old earth, which none of them understood. She just didn’t know why she had made him coxswain.
There was a pop over the coms, a recognisable one - someone was messing with connectors. It echoed into her ear sharply, almost forcing her to remove her headphones. Then a moment later the coms crackled again and he began to speak this time at full volume.
“Captain, I was hoping to read a section from the papers I recently found. You know to mark the occasion.” he said in a heavy voice.
Riley rubbed her forehead, both with annoyance and thought. Gousten had recently found a play text from some ancient writer. He probably didn’t understand half of it, the language was old and archaic. Problem was a lot of it was very similar to the common tongue so he took every opportunity to read it out, whether anyone wanted to hear it or not. It was harmless though, and everyone had their strange hobbies. After a few moments she answered.
“What the hell go on!”
It wasn’t long before there was a crackle again and he began talking.
“Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises. Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices, That, if I then had waked after long sleep, Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming, The clouds methought would open, and show riches Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked, I cried to dream again.”
After he had finished Riley waited, just to make sure he was actually done and then, not knowing what to make of it, she pressed the button on the console.
“What was that?”
There was an awkward silent pause before Gousten replied.
“It’s from an old play, it’s called the Tempest. Thought it’d be good to mark the occasion…”
Another voice burst onto the coms.
“You think? It’s all bloody nonsense, you moron-”
Blake continued to berate him over the coms. Riley left them to it and let herself get lost once again in her thoughts, staring at the flickering figure on the screen. It was gradually getting closer. She didn’t know what her coxswain had just said but she liked it. The language was fancy, rather fitting for her moment of triumph. Though he was a dull man he always spoke clearly when he read his old papers. She sometimes liked it. Then placing her finger on the coms button she interrupted the bickering.
“Blake, get everyone together in the mess. I think we should have a crew meeting before we proceed. It will start in 10 standard minutes.”
For a very brief moment it went quiet save for the hums and creaks of the ships machinery. They were familiar sounds. She was going to miss them. The coms crackled.
“Yes Captain, as you command.”
Riley sat back in her chair once more, and gazed upon the mysterious alien shapes that flickered away on the screen. Just a few more moments, she thought. She had to bask in her glory for a little longer. The old salts were right. They’d found it - it was theirs for the taking.
With that it's bye for now. I'll be back soon! Jon