December 16, 2019

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise Part 3

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Here’s our latest and greatest installment straight from our Solar Winds universe.  Andrea and team may have successfully used the Radium core to lure in and capture a small Legion cruiser… but what will they do next? And will her team rally under her leadership? Things are definitely going down in the outer solar system out near Saturn’s orbit, in our solar system spanning adventure. Set in 2222 AD, Solar Winds follows a the adventures of Scorpius Cell and the Zodiac cartel as they navigate perilous worlds on the brink 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 entirety.

 

Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise

by

David A. Dickinson

Chapter 3

Andrea watched out the view port as the newly shielded Radium core was dragged back into the loading bay. This little Kuiper belt asteroid had seen a lot of activity as of late. And things had only gotten stranger and more complicated since the hijack of the Daedalus.  The captured communications officer was still in the medical ward. Andrea had scanned her retinal implant and discovered her name was Lori Stutton from Earth.  She also ordered that Karl stay clear of her. Their freed prisoner was still nearly incomprehensible except when she wanted to be understood, which wasn’t very often. She was dark-skinned, and various strange markings were tattooed on her limbs.  What startled them most were her webbed toes, clipped wings along her shoulder blades and the apparent gills on her neck.  A genetic alter? Why did a scout ship have a prisoner, anyway? And then there was the Core. It was a precious but terrible prize. It had served them well today, but it wasn’t like they could unload such a dangerous gem on the black market.  Andrea suspected the Professor and Karl didn’t know what they were doing when they first planned on stealing it.

Andrea paced in the asteroid’s light gravity.  Recently, she felt that it took every iota of her psyche to maintain a certain level of grace under pressure.  A lot of truths had been revealed to her as shams since the night Marc had told her of the Martian Underground. Art school days on Mars were much simpler. There was something to be said for living ignorant amongst the rank and file. Now, out here in the outer Solar System, you couldn’t always count on your next meal.  Basic things like air and water were finite. Even her current teammates couldn’t be fully trusted.

Andrea had helped inspect the Daedalus after it was docked.  She wordlessly went over it with Karl. Everything pointed towards a deeper mission than a routine scout. More provisions than needed had been loaded.  Most ships used their brigs for occasional shipboard discipline only, and yet this one carried the foreign girl. I’ve got to get her to talk…Andrea had hatched the plan to lure a Legion ship, but Karl used his military know-how to select this one. Why?

 

Andrea and V.I.C.A.R. entered the base’s small galley. She thought that she might find their new guest here. The girl was seated, busily consuming an enormous tray of food. Andrea noted a lack of plates or utensils; sustenance had been merely heaped on in an enormous mound before her as she dug in.

Andrea sat down first with a cup of Martian coffee. “You might want to pace yourself…This processed fare gets quite monotonous after about a week.”

The girl stared back across the table. Andrea was amazed to see flecks of gold in her irises. Silence bit through the air.

Andrea decided that being forthright might be the best approach.

“What’s your name?”

“We har Vuldure ru Griuture!” the girl exclaimed, spitting out bits of food.

Andrea was not discouraged. Right now, she needed some allies, and she sensed this girl felt the same.

“I’ve got to give you a name,” she said, gingerly taking her forearm.  Most of the markings were utterly alien, except for a winged female warrior.  Andrea was immediately reminded of the Norse mythology she’d read as a girl on Mars.

“They were called Valkyries…women who rescued dead heroes. With those wings, that’s as good a name as any.”

V.I.C.A.R. leaned forward to examine the symbols with a mechanical eye. He considered consumption of food to be a waste of time, but was always amazed at how humans would open up to him while eating.

“These markings are a century old, but are indeed in my religious database. These are blessings from an Anthro-Centerian Priest…”

“You are Verboten!”  The girl shouted, overturning her tray at the startled android.  She spun and sprang out of the galley. Her agility surprised them both.

“An Anthro,” Andrea breathed, “Are you sure?”

“My religious programming is very thorough,” V.I.C.A.R. continued. “Although if I’m correct, her particular denomination was… is…” he corrected himself, “especially pious.”

This puts an interesting spin on things, Andrea thought.  The Anthro-Centerists were sentience worshipers. They believed the constants of the universe were arranged in such a way that life had to arise. Weary of persecution, they had departed the inner Solar System over a century ago. Supposedly, they had headed for the Oort Cloud,. When she was a child, Andrea remembered watching their giant ark ships with her grandfather as they performed orbital slingshot maneuvers over the skies of Mars. Some of the myths were apparently true. They were supposedly highly skilled in the forbidden art of gene manipulation… and they hated robots.

“She’ll open up when she wants to,” Andrea said to V.I.C.A.R.  “I doubt she’ll turn us in to the Terran Legion.”

Andrea suddenly felt the urge to destroy something.  She decided to look up Karl for some low-g hand-to-hand combat. His brawn against her gymnastic skills.  At least I can make amends on that front, she thought.

To be continued…

Read The Cloaked Promise and other original tales of science fiction by David Dickinson.

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