September 23, 2019

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise

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And with the advent of another Friday, we’re pleased to announce the start of another story straight out of our Solar Winds universe. This tale is Part 2: be sure to read the first chapter of Part 1 entitled Scorpius Cell here. Can’t wait? You can read ‘em all in their entirety including The Cloaked Promise on our Amazon page.

 

Solar Winds- The Cloaked Promise

by

David Dickinson

 

“Have you glimpsed them? Have you sighted their flitting shadows at the edge of the watering hole?”

-Hanna Julian Sweeten,

The Violet Integer

The Radium Core spun lazily in the diminished sunlight of open space. Its shielding elements alternated from light to dark as the locator beacon on its side blinked with a forlorn glow.

A single ship approached it from sunward.  The blue-green emblem emblazoned on the ship’s hull identified it as a military craft belonging to the Terran Legion. The stolen core grew fat in its view screens as the command crew circled, then zeroed in on their prey.

Commander Bajwa smirked at the dull routine of this assignment. He hated the outer Solar System wastes.  Born and raised on Earth, he much preferred the radiant glow of the inner planets.

“So much for Mars in two weeks.” he told his second in command after reading the time delay dispatch from Headquarters some hours ago. The dispatch, coded with the highest secrecy, had diverted them here to these coordinates.

A voice crackled in over his comset. “The core is within grappler range.”

Only a select few of his crew knew what they were doing here, or even that their prey was stolen a few weeks ago from a luxury liner bound for Uranus. That liner had just been reached and boarded a few days ago. The dispatch relayed how the beleaguered crew told of a band of pirates that had hijacked them. Most of the surprised passengers were unaware anything had happened. Very brazen, he thought. Mostly, pirates went after automated cargo ships and garbage scows.  The hijack sounded more to him like a well planned precision military attack.

“Match our orbital range with the core,” he called out to the helm. Commander Bajwa studied it intently as it rotated before them.  The shielding was ruptured on one side and was spewing radiation throughout the electromagnetic spectrum as spun crazily looking like a wounded lighthouse.  The radiation had essentially blinded the ship’s onboard sensors, causing them to report spurious ghosts.  As they got closer, the Commander weighed the idea of dispatching troops to scan from posted guard mounts visually, and then rejected the idea because they were in such a remote region of space. Clearly, there had been a struggle.  No sane man would intentionally rupture a power core of pure, compressed radium.  Most likely, greed had overcome the pirates, causing a battle to ensue. Then fear had probably had its turn with them, causing them to jettison the core.  The Commander called to his second in command. “Those short-sighted fools had no idea of the wrath they would incur…”

A swift thud cut the Commander short. He was tossed weightless through the darkened cabin. Emergency batteries whined to life as the shaken crew struggled to regain their posts.

“Jove be damned,” he shouted. “What hit us?”

All view screens on the Daedalus were blank.  Gyros before the Commander now showed the ship heading into a random spin relative to the ecliptic. The bridge had no windows. Capitan Bajwa felt the sweat condense on his cold palms as he steadied himself against the rail.

Instantly, his mind flew through the possibilities. A malfunction? The ship had just left a Ganymede orbital phase dock less than a month ago… If that were the case, he had a good mind to jettison the Chief Mechanic into open space. An asteroid? Highly unlikely, he thought. No Kuiper Belt rock should be this close in to Saturn’s orbit. Even then…

He suddenly considered a third and more unpleasant reality as the main view screen flashed to life. A single silhouetted face stared back, a shock of shoulder length brunette hair betraying the feminine nature of the visage that was now projected before him.

“This is the leader of the Zodiac Cartel,” she called out. “Your ship has been disabled.  Stand to and prepare to be boarded.”

The Commander abruptly laughed and sneered. “A woman pirate? You’d best back up your threats, missy… this is a Legion cruiser.  If you’d like, I can arrange transport to a nice women’s penal colony on Mercury Prime…”

“Your heavy weapons have been knocked out.”  Andrea spun and shot back.  “Your distress beacon won’t work this close to the Radium core. Wake up and look at your options, Commander. We’re claiming your ship, Legion or no.”

Andrea flipped off the comm switch and drifted back. She looked out ahead into space at the crippled Daedalus.  Karl had hit them exactly where it would hurt.  The scout ship was effectively theirs to plunder.  The radium had lured a fly into their spider’s web.

She flipped another switch to link her to the docking hatch. “You ready, Shrink?” She called out.

“Let’s blow this sardine can,” The Professor responded.

Andrea smiled as she cued V.I.C.A.R.  to match velocity and rotation with their prey. Soon, the Armageddon on Tap was locked in a lazy ballet with the crippled scout ship.  The silver sun slowly cast shifting shadows through the cabin as silence ensued.

Commanding the newly formed Scorpius Cell had actually come pretty easy to her.  She found that Karl and the Professor secretly craved the direction she brought, and that in the wake of her recent losses, she thrived on her new found mission. She wanted desperately to stick it to the Terran Legion and Imperial Earth any way possible. Taking this ship was a good start.

Andrea felt a shudder pass though the ship as they docked with the Daedalus. She swiftly unbuckled and slung a micro-beam pistol onto her hip. “I’m joining the party,” she called out to V.I.C.A.R. “They’ll need the backup.” She deftly slid down the tube to the dock.

 

The silence was unnerving to the Commander.  He calculated his options as emergency lights punctuated the darkness. Damn her,   he thought. She was on target.  They were a scout ship, not a shock troop landing party. They were lightly armed and were unlikely to hold off a small band of pirates. Outrunning any would-be attackers was the crew’s best bet, and this was clearly now not an option. How many did she command? If she had backup nearby, they were dead. And the way they hit them… it was with surgical precision.

An officer handed a sonic pistol to the Commander. “Weapons have been issued,” he stated. “What’s the word?”

The Commander strained to face the reality of the situation. A simple equation ran through his head. Negotiate, and perhaps, at best, be marooned on the nearest rubble heap of an asteroid. Or fight and die. This ship wasn’t going anywhere.

“Raise our attackers,” he croaked.

Andrea knelt and cupped the left side of her head as the communications plug in her ear came to life. The sound of the Professor’s Las-torch was deafening in the confinements of the boarding tube.

“This is Commander Bajwa of the Legion scout craft Daedalus,” the voice quivered. “Cease this senseless attack.  We are carrying nothing of value”

Nothing except your ship…Andrea thought. She knew they’d have to act quickly. You’ve almost completed the objective, she thought. He’s ready to capitulate. The next few minutes are crucial.

Andrea issued her response. “We’ve penetrated your outer hull. With our weaponry, we can detonate the radium core and take both ships with it. Scuttle your ship, lay down your weapons, and I’ll permit you passage to the Saturn system aboard your two life pods”

Commander Bajwa grimaced at the prospect she presented to him. Life pods! A journey inward towards Saturn would take weeks. Not to mention the humiliation his career would suffer.  His hand clutched his sonic pistol and his mind twisted and struggled to confront the situation. What did they want?

To be continued…

Read The Cloaked Promise and other original works of science fiction from Dave Dickinson.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] write this, so we’ll get right to this week’s installment. Be sure to 1.) Start back on chapter 1 from last week, and 2.) Read The Cloaked Promise and other original tales of sci-fi in their [...]

  2. [...] of open rebellion.Think of it as Star Wars meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. Be sure to start back at chapter 1, or read The Cloaked Promise and other tales of science fiction adventure in their [...]

  3. [...] action is heating up, as Andrea heads to Titan and Cronos City. Be sure to start back with chapter 1, or better yet, the first chapter of the first story Scorpius Cell, or better yet read em both and [...]

  4. [...] it is; the final installment of our second book of the Solar Winds series. Be sure to start back on Chapter 1, or better yet, start back with chapter 1 book 1: Scorpius Cell. Or, you can read em all and other [...]

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