December 10, 2019

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell Part 6

And here it ’tis, faithful reader… the conclusion of Scorpius Cell and the first of several tales to come from our Solar Winds universe. Be sure to start back on Chapter 1, or read Scorpius Cell and other sci-fi tales in their entirely.

Enjoy!

Solar Winds-Scorpius Cell

by

David Dickinson

Chapter 6

 

The Professor caught a flash out of the corner of his eye. “What the… look out!” he exclaimed, dropping the lift extensions. The pallet drifted to the floor as Karl attempted to turn in his cumbersome suit. Andrea caught him by the helmet and used the accumulated momentum to spin him around, smashing his faceplate against the exposed radium ore. The faceplate shattered, exposing Karl’s face to the ore. The smell of charred flesh permeated the air.

“Ahhhh…what the…!” he shrieked.

“I told you we shouldn’t have drugged her,” The Prof quivered. “The vacuum of space would’ve been more fitting!”

Andrea spun to the far side of the bay. She thought she could already feel her blood boil, pelted by a steady cascade of sub-atomic particles. A good student of the inverse square law, she knew the radiation would be less intense the farther she got from the source.

The Professor was already working something from its sheath on his leg. A tethered bolo sliced the air, barely missing her face and burrowing itself in the exposed rock behind her.

“Tracers work both ways,” she shouted, bracing against the wall and grabbing the tether. Yanking with all her strength she drew The Professor towards her.

A surprised expression was on his face. He flailed about like a landed fish. Andrea reached out and grabbed his suit, grappling it with one hand as she drew him close.

“Tell me why I shouldn’t gut you like a Martian Crater Trout,” she hissed, pulling the bolo from the wall.

“We were going to cut you in,” he blabbered frantically. “We just got some debts to pay off first.”

“I’ve got a debt,” she said coldly, catching the bolo’s curved tip in the fabric of the radiation suit. “I’m owed the lives of two scumbags who lied to me.”

Tears mixed with sweat dripped down The Professors’ cheeks as his expression pleaded her silently for a swift end. Suddenly, a large shadow pulled Andrea off balance, taking her to the floor. Struggling, she barely recognized Karl’s horribly disfigured face framed by the smoldering visor of his smashed out helmet. He drove his burly elbow hard into her throat.

“They know…” Andrea rasped. “They know who we are…”

“What!?” Karl shouted, half hysterical with fear.

“I told Holderson about Scorpius Cell,” Andrea whispered, summoning her final gasp.

Exhausted, Karl rolled back off her. He rubbed his burnt chin. It was numb to the touch. “I may never have to shave again!” he half-laughed, half-cried as he collapsed slowly to the deck.

Andrea awoke to the sharp antiseptic smell of the asteroid’s automated medical ward. I’ve got to stop coming to like this, she thought, I’m an easy riser. Lifting her head, she saw Karl hooked up and asleep in the litter across from her. She sank back and fell on her cot limp as a newborn colt. The last thing I remember was being lifted from the bay, floated through her mind.

The sound of meshing servos echoed through the hall. The V.I.C.A.R. entered the room, followed closely by The Professor.

“You here for last rites?” Andrea said weakly. She stiffened a bit when she saw The Shrink.

“Ah, the nanobot gene therapy has repaired most of your mangled cells,” The V.I.C.A.R gleamed, holding up the transparent chart. “You can thank the little micro-warriors I’ve got coursing through your blood stream for that. Of course, for any final spiritual needs, I’d be happy to refer you to my own services.”

The Professor slid uneasily forward. “You’ll have to forgive him; he’s what we got. Karl used him to escape from his old platoon.”

“Why should I trust you?” Andrea snapped. “You both have done nothing but lie to me from the start.”

The Professor leaned forward on his elbows. “Because we’re all we’ve got,” he continued, gesturing toward the other gurney. ”Karl here is highly wanted throughout the Solar System. Milady, you are looking at the only man who has ever successfully defected from a Terran Legion Shock Brigade and lived to tell about it. The training alone he received would be worth killing him for on sight. He’s A.W.O.L., baby.”

Andrea shot upright. “You think sharing your touchy-feely background can forgive what you did?” she spat back. “Do you think it will bring Marc back?”

Heads down, both the Professor and the V.I.C.A.R. silently departed.

 

Andrea stood on the station’s only observing deck looking over the tiny rocky world. Her new boots locked in place, she stared at the expanse of the Milky Way through a view plate running the length of the small room. She thought she could just make out the small oval shape of Saturn, far to the left.

“Marc wanted me to go there, but I don’t know why,” she whispered to the darkness. Surely, the authorities would have been waiting for her at Cronus City.

“Maybe he counted on your spontaneity,” a voice called out from behind. Andrea spun to see Karl drifting towards her, still in a surgical waist cocoon to help him about.

“Apple?” He tossed the fruit in her direction. She caught it and took a bite.

“Could you at least tell me what you were going to do with it?” she asked.

“The radium? We were going to trade through a middle man at Enceladus Station…” His voice drifted off.

“And then what?” she said between mouthfuls. “Retire to a private asteroid? Join the Quantum Christians in the Oort Cloud somewhere? You know what the Legion does to people who even think about deserting!”

Karl took a deep breath. “All right, so we didn’t really have a great plan,” he continued, “But now, thanks to you, Scorpius Cell is real. The authorities will know who we are. When they intercept that liner and question Holderson, the Zodiac Cartel will be a real entity, and frankly, I’m terrified.”

“Good,” she huffed, crossing her arms.

“And thanks to our little melee, the radium core is too damaged to transport. It emits so much raw radiation that it’s only a matter of time before they trace it here,” He said.

“Better think what size control collar you want as they lead you to your own private Slave Pit on Mercury Penal Colony,” she shot back.

Karl looked down and sucked in his breath. “I know you don’t trust us. You have every reason not to. But if we’re to have a chance at survival, we need to make Scorpius Cell real. You more than proved your worth.”

Andrea shut her eyes and turned away. She no longer knew what to think. Karl turned before exiting the viewing deck.

“If it helps, we need a leader. Someone with a plan.  The three of us voted for you. You would make it unanimous…” he called out as he left.

Alone again, Andrea looked back out the view plate. Saturn had drifted out of view and the Sun now shone like a silver button to the right. Somewhere, too close to it to discern, was Mars.  Somewhere, there was Marc. “I’ll do it,” she said, tracing a ♂ on to the fog that had formed on the glass. “I’ll do it for you, my love.”

 

The cyber-detective followed the Sergeant through the gutted armory. Instantly, his augmented cortex calculated the force needed to produce the blast.

“Weapons like these are outlawed for sale,” the Sergeant cried.

“It’s a small wonder they didn’t rupture the hull,” the detective agreed. “Definitely a large, well-armed force.”

Deftly, he moved his hands along the rubble, scanning it with ultra-sound implants.

“Hello,” he said, plunging his hand into the pile. He pulled a pair of women’s boots up to the light.

“About a 7 ½ regular,” he wagered.

The End.

 

Read Scorpius Cell and other original tales of science fiction by David Dickinson.

 

 

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