Worlds Collide

Just when I thought my NaNo was finished… I am having fun with this section, though.

**

“This is Alexander Pemberton, on the Lady Sarah,” he said, as he keyed the button to answer the call.

Immediately, a familiar voice came over the comm.  “Hello, Al,” the caller said.  Alexander smiled as a face appeared on the screen in front of him.  Cyrus Greyson gave him a wry smile.  “Just calling to bring you up to speed on some new developments back home.”

“Go ahead,” Alexander said, as he made ready to record the information, so that he could pass it on to the others later.

Cyrus nodded.  “Director Haruko was arrested – turns out he was the mole that your cousin kept going on and on about,” he said, nodding.  When Alexander looked at him in surprise, he gave a weak laugh.  “Yeah.  I don’t think anyone saw that coming, but that left Keenan with a hole to fill.”

“There’s a new deputy director in charge of Special Intelligence?” Alexander said.  When Cyrus nodded, he felt a trickle of dread.  “Do I want to know who that might be?”

“Michael Graves, Junior,” Cyrus said, smirking.  He shrugged and then shook his head.  “He’s the head of an Organization family centered in Ameria.  Keenan said that it’s all kind of foolish that we have this animosity towards all the families.  After all, they were fighting the Berklians, too.”

“So, his solution is to get rid of an Organization mole and… replace them with an Organization Boss?” Alexander said, his voice soft.  He shook his head.  “What’s his game, Cyrus?”

“Graves runs his family on the straight and narrow,” Cyrus said, nodding.  “If he’s going to ease everyone into an era of peace, this is a good start.”

“Right,” Alexander said, although he was a bit doubtful.  After all, he’d been undercover to stop members of the Blair family.  Part of the reason he’d joined the crew of the Lady Sarah in the first place was because he and Robin had a price on their heads.

How far we’ve come…

This was, I thought, the end of my NaNo.  Then, I kept going.

**

Kit wasn’t especially surprised to learn that Lizette had lost her seat as mayor soon after her return.  After all, she’d basically betrayed the Confederation, even if she had done it to protect her people from another tribute.

He headed down to the medical bay and smiled when he nearly ran into Julian, who was just coming out.  He ended up catching the other man before he fell.  “Everything all right, Master Southmaid?” he asked, as he released his hold.

Grimacing, Julian nodded.  “We’ve got to stop meeting like this, Captain,” he said.  “People will get the wrong idea.”  He shrugged and added, “I was just checking in on Emma.”

Kit smiled faintly.  “How are things between the two of you?” he asked, arching his brows.

Shaking his head, Julian said, “Moving slowly, but… that’s about right for me at this point.”  His brows furrowed.  “Will Master Willows be punished for her duplicity, Captain?  I mean… Dr. Noel died and Alexander was badly injured because of what she did.”

“I expect so,” Kit said, nodding.  He shrugged and added, “As far as the Confederation is concerned, it’s an internal matter – one for the colony to deal with.”  He still hadn’t decided what he would say to Noel’s parents.  It wasn’t the first time he’d lost a member of the crew, but it was the first time one had died on this voyage.  He hoped that wasn’t a sign of what was to come.

Julian touched his arm and gave him a weak smile as their eyes met.  “It’ll be fine, Captain,” he said.  “Whatever happens, this crew will rise to the challenge.  There’s really no such thing as luck, after all.”

“We make our own luck?” Kit said, smirking.

Shrugging, Julian said, “Something like that.”  Then, he nodded and stepped away from Kit.  As he headed down the corridor, he began whistling.  It was a tune that Kit had heard often.

“Let’s see how far we’ve come,” he murmured, as he headed into the medical bay to check on his people.  They had come pretty far, but he knew they could go further still.  After all, there was still the Delta Sector to explore.

Crisis on the ship…

An excerpt from what I wrote today…

**

Ryan bit his lip as they entered the portal.  He wasn’t very surprised when the return trip was actually worse than the initial trip had been.  What did surprise him was the alarm that sounded as soon as they exited the portal on the other side.  He cursed softly and looked at Seamus and Roberts.  “Damage assessment,” he said.

Roberts balked, but Seamus nodded and got to work.  After a moment, Roberts spun on his heel and stalked over to one of the other computer modules.  Meanwhile, Ryan began checking other systems.  Seamus was the one to discover what had triggered the alarms.

After cursing softly, he said, “The Little Bird is gone, Ryan.”  Ryan looked at him sharply and he shrugged.  “It’s not there anymore.”

“Where did it go?” Roberts breathed.  He looked over at Ryan.  “We didn’t leave it back there, did we?”

Shaking his head, Ryan began checking the time step systems for an error log.  After a moment, he had his answer.  “Not back there,” he said, tapping the screen.  He keyed the communicator and said, “Lieutenant Greenfield, the Little Bird was sheared off in the portal.  It was flung through slip space.  I haven’t figured out where she would have emerged as yet.”

“Get on it,” Lieutenant Greenfield said, his tone strained.

“Sir,” Ryan replied.  He looked up at Roberts.  “Have you ever tracked a ship through slip space before?”

Roberts stared at him for a moment.  Then, he nodded and said, “I’m guessing that neither of you has ever done it.  Am I right?”  He grimaced when both of them shook their heads.  He looked at Ryan and then pointed at the readout.  “Can that tell you where in slip-space we lost contact with them?”

“Yes,” Ryan said, tapping the screen.  “Those are the coordinates.”

“I know the speed we were traveling as we entered the portal, which is the other half of the equation,” he said.  He stepped over to an astro-mechs station and began working.  “How long have we got to find the Little Bird?” he asked, as he began fighting with the numbers.

“Twelve hours,” Seamus said, his voice soft.  His ears pinned and he added, “Their batteries will die in twelve hours without being connected to the Lady Sarah.  If they aren’t in atmosphere, everyone on board will die.”

Roberts heaved a sigh and shook his head.  The Little Bird housed most of the departments that were considered non-essential: the commissary, the recreation areas, the nursery and the cabins for the non-essential crewmembers.  With all the crewmembers that were still stricken with the illness currently resting in their quarters, that meant more than half of them were now on a ship that might or might not have safely exited slip-space.

“I guess it’s a good thing that we have dual medical bays,” he said.  As he worked the numbers, he frowned.  “Do you know what happened?  Why would the landing craft break away from the mother ship like that?”

“The turbulence,” Ryan said, shaking his head.  “Emma’s a great flight officer, but we had three different people controlling the helm on the trip back in time.  It kept the turbulence to a minimum.  On the trip forward, she was doing it all herself.”

“Which isn’t to say it was her fault,” Seamus added, hastily.  “It’s just… those were the circumstances we had to deal with at the time.”

“I wasn’t anticipating such turbulence on the way forward,” Ryan admitted.  In a softer voice, he said, “If anyone is at fault, it’s me.”

“I’ll respectfully disagree,” Roberts said.  Then, he shook his head.  “We can argue this some more later.  For now, I think we’ve got a location for the Little Bird.”  He looked at Ryan and shook his head.  “Are we safe entering slip-space?”

“We should be,” Ryan said, nodding.  “Send your data to the bridge.”

The Bear!

This scene was insane fun to write!

**

Alexander ducked into a room with Raven close behind him.  Then, he slammed the door shut.  He had just enough time to get out of the way before Raven shoved a table up against the door.  “Oh, my God,” he breathed, as a crash reverberated outside the door.  He looked at Raven and shook his head.  “It just doesn’t quit!”

Raven gave a nervous laugh and then screamed when the door shook with the force of the thing outside attacking.  “Go away,” she screamed.

Giving a weak chuckle, Alexander said, “Go away?  Is that all you’ve got?”  The beast outside let out a vicious roar and he looked around for some kind of weapon.  “Never mind,” he added, as she began piling more furnishings against the door.

“Al?  Raven?” a voice said.  It took Alexander a moment to realize that the call was coming from his wrist-comm.

Tensing, he hit the button.  As before, it chirped twice and then fell silent.  “Are you kidding me?” he rasped.  He tugged the wrist-comm free and slapped it on the table.  Then, he hit the button again.  “Kit,” he cried when the wrist-comm made the single chirp that indicated it had opened a comm-line between them.

“Al?” Kit said, sounding surprised.  “Where are you and Raven?  What’s your status?  Why haven’t you answered?”

“The stupid wrist-comm clearly wanted a bear to eat us,” Alexander said, when the door shook under another attack from the beast outside.  He glanced around and then heaved a sigh.  “We’ve locked ourselves in a room – the record’s room, by the looks of it.  There’s a vicious bear outside – in the corridor, that is.”

“Are either of you hurt?” Calleigh asked.  She sounded a bit out of breath.  Obviously, they were running to get to the town hall.

“We’re fine,” Raven said, shaking her head.  She gave a weak laugh when the door cracked under the constant onslaught from the bear.  An enormous paw reached through the crack and flailed around for a moment as the bear tried to reach them.  As the paw withdrew, Raven said, “Go away!”

“We’ll be there in a few,” Kit said, his tone strained.

Alexander heaved a sigh of relief.  “Our weapons don’t seem to work on it,” he warned them.  “I don’t know what the bears on Anchorage have been eating, but they shake off our lightning guns like they’re nothing more than a bee sting.”

“Hurry,” Raven said, as the bear reached in and grabbed the door, trying to break the opening wider.  She grabbed a ruler off the wall where it was hanging and struck the beast in the paw.  It roared and pulled away.  When its face appeared in the opening, Raven poked it in the eye.  That time, it pulled away with a cry of pain.

“He’s huge,” Matthew cried from outside the room.  This was followed by the sound of several shots from their lightning guns.

Alexander rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, those don’t work so well,” he called.  He looked at Raven and shook his head.  “I’m fairly sure that I mentioned that.”

“You did,” she grimaced. Shouting through the opened, she said, “Don’t die on us, guys!  Once it finishes with you, it’ll come after us again.”

“Actually, this might be our chance to escape,” Alexander said, shrugging.  “When there’s a bear chasing you, you don’t have to outrun the bear, after all.”

“Right, just the people with you,” she finished smirking.

What Happened Here?

So… my group has arrived at the colony of Anchorage and what they find is pretty unexpected.

**

They were in the middle of a field, but it was clear this wasn’t just any field.  Stones dotted the field, spreading out in all directions.

“This… looks like a graveyard,” Julian said, his voice soft.  He looked at Calleigh, who frowned.  “Have you ever seen so many headstones?”

“No,” she said, her voice soft.  She turned to Alexander and said, “I want you to compare the names on the stones to the last census from the colony.  See if… there’s anyone who isn’t accounted for.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Alexander said.  He glanced at Robin, who nodded.  Then, he heaved a sigh of relief and drew out his datapad.  He walked away, heading towards the far corner of the field.  Chewing at his lip, Robin fell into step behind him.

“What do you suppose happened here?” Robin asked as Alexander began checking the names on the stones against the ones in the last census of the colony.  As far as he was concerned, it was like something out of a nightmare.  His mind was conjuring all manner of scenarios, each worse and less likely than the previous one.

Alexander shook his head.  “Whatever it was,” he said, his voice faint, “it was bad.”  He waved at one stone and said, “This family – parents and five children – all died on the same day.  I can’t imagine… some sort of disaster, perhaps?”

He looked around at the field of stones and then looked back at Robin.  “It wasn’t something immediate, though,” he added.  “After all, someone buried all of these people.  Didn’t they?”

“The same person?” Robin asked, his voice soft.  It wasn’t reassuring when Alexander simply shrugged.  After all, there was no way either of them could know the answer to that question.

Magi-tech in action…

I had so much fun writing this scene!  Lori’s a fun character.

**

Cameron was unaccountably nervous as he headed to the transporter room.  It was just as he was stepping into the room that he realized the source of his anxiety.  “I’ve never been teleported off a ship before,” he said, looking sharply at Nicholas.

Nicholas frowned at him and then nodded.  “I’ll be right there beside you,” he said, patting his arm.  “They do this all the time.  It’s a very straightforward spell and there are rarely any accidents associated with it.”

Amity and Carlisle arrived just behind them.  Smiling brightly, Amity said, “Lori’s an old pro at this.”  She grinned at the sunny-natured redhead and arched a brow.  “Are we ready to go, Master Coons?”

She grinned.  “We’re just waiting for the last member of the away team.”  When Joel Rylan stepped into the room, she waved.  “There were go!  Now, we’re all set.”

Joel frowned and then moved over to the platform that Lori began waving at.  “You… do know what you’re doing, right?” he asked.

“Chickie, I’ve done this about a thousand times,” she said, shaking her head.  She looked at the little group and added, “All right, here’s how this is going to work.  You all stand in the spell circle that’s etched onto the platform.  I will recite the incantation and then touch the edge of the circle.  Poof!  You appear on the surface.”

“How do we get back?” Cameron asked, his voice cracking.

Amity smiled.  “I’ll transport us back when we’re ready,” she said, patting the man on the shoulder.  “That’s why there’s always a mage on the away team when we use the transporter.”

“I’d feel better if we could use a shuttle,” Joel murmured.  However, he stood at the center of the spell circle without any further argument.  When the others had joined him, he met Lori’s gaze steadily.  “Are you ready?”

Lori grinned and then nodded.  “I was born ready,” she said.  Then, she drew out her wand and began speaking a long incantation in a language that none of them – presumably, with the exception of Amity – understood.  When she finished, she leaned down to touch the edge of the circle with her wand.

Cameron felt a strange squeezing sensation, as if he were being forced down a long narrow tube.  Then, when his head cleared, he found that he was standing in the sunlit square of a ruined city.

Real Aliens…

A scene from my NaNo.  I really like writing these characters…

**

Kirei was on duty when they reached the planet that was called Oceano.  One look at it told her why it had such a name.  There were small landmasses, but most of the surface was covered with water.  The first thing that she did was attempt to make contact with the colony.  Her first hails went unanswered.  However, after trying different channels for half an hour, she got a response.  The only problem was: she didn’t understand what the person was saying.  Her brows furrowed.

Turning away from the comm, she looked over towards the captain’s chair.  At that moment, the captain was in his study.  Calleigh was sitting in the chair, reading something off a datapad.  “Commander Skyler,” Kirei said, her ears flicking back.  When the woman looked up, Kirei heaved a sigh.

“You got a response, Ensign Firetail?” she asked, moving to her feet.

Kirei nodded.  “A response, yes,” she said.  Then she shook her head.  “The problem is, I can’t understand a word they’re saying and I’m not finding any of the phrases in our language database.”

Calleigh hummed thoughtfully and stepped over to the comm.  She took the earpiece and closed her eyes.  After a moment, she shook her head.  She turned to Kirei and nodded.  “Tell them who we are and that we’re sending a team down.  Even if we can’t understand them, there’s a chance they can understand us.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kirei said, nodding.

Touching the internal comm on her wrist, Calleigh said, “Captain…” she trailed off when the device chirped.  She was about to touch the comm again when the Captain entered from his study.

“Did you need me?” he asked, tilting his head to one side.

More

An Unexpected Fear

A little scene that I wrote between Robin and Julian.  I really like how it turned out…

**

Julian frowned slightly as he glanced over at Robin.  He was a member of the engineering team and Robin was a member of the morale team.  Which made Julian have to wonder what Captain Locksley was thinking.  He shook his head and then leaned over closer to the man beside him.  “What are an engineer and a steward doing being sent to explore a deserted colony?” he whispered.

“Hell, if I know,” Robin breathed back, shaking his head.  He chuckled wryly and then shrugged.  “I figured that the captain wanted to get me as far from Lieutenant Johnson as he possibly could,” he added. Arching a brow at Julian, he said, “Have you been at odds with someone since joining the crew?”

Grimacing, Julian nodded.  “Roberts,” he said, his voice strained.  Even though most of the people from Alistair had made amends with him, Roberts still didn’t care for him or even trust him.  He seemed to take great joy in baiting Julian – poking at him until Julian had taken all he could take and lashed out in anger.  Then, almost without fail, Gretchen would end up scolding Julian for fighting.

“So, are we being punished or are they trying to see whether or not we’re the troublemakers?” Julian asked, arching his brows.

Robin chuckled wryly once again.  “Bit a both,” he said, shrugging.  Then, the light telling them to keep their seat restraints locked went out.  Without waiting for a word from Ken Holmes, Robin loosened his belt and stood.  He shrugged when the other man frowned at him.  “Call it claustrophobia, Commander,” he said.  “I was at the edge of my endurance when it came to being….” he trailed off, waving at the restraints.

“Fair enough,” Holmes said, nodding.  He shrugged and added, “You’ll just have to put it back on when we get ready to land.  There’s not much point in wandering too far from you seat.”

“Be that as it may,” Robin said, shrugging.  He stepped over to one of the cabinets and slid it opened.  He grabbed two water capsules and held one out to Julian.  “Are you thirsty, Mr. Southmaid?” he asked.

“No, thank you,” Julian said, shaking his head.  He smiled when Robin offered the capsule to the other members of the away team.

Schuyler smiled brightly, accepting the capsule.  “Are you thirsty, Carlisle?” he asked, glancing up at his companion.

Frowning, Carlisle shook his head.  “I am not,” he said, his voice soft.  Then, he glanced at Julian before looking back at Schuyler.  Bowing his head, he added, “Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome,” Schuyler replied, grinning.  He opened the capsule and began sipping from it.

Unlikely…

An excerpt from my current NaNo…

**

Julian stepped out of his little house in the cliff and blinked at the clear blue sky.  Behind him, Marissa giggled and scampered outside.  It was the first clear day in a week.  She hurried over to where a few other children were and they began to play a form of tag.  However, there were other things on Julian’s mind.  He knew that this was the day he’d seen in his vision.

He hurried down the steps to the building where the equipment was.  “Master Westerburg,” he called, as he entered.  He stopped when he noticed that she wasn’t there.  He frowned and looked between Brent and Roberts.  They were the only ones there and Roberts was convinced he’d had something to do with the crash.  Brent simply thought he was insane.  He wasn’t sure which was worse.  “Um… where is Master Westerburg?” he asked, as he looked between the two men.

“Westerburg went with Bailey,” Roberts growled.  “They’re looking for something they can use to extend the life of these batteries.”  He crossed his arms over his chest.  “What do you want, Southmaid?”

He took a steadying breath and closed his eyes.  “I – I had a dream the other night about a ship,” he said, clenching his hands together.  He forced himself to meet Roberts’s gaze.  “It’s out there and – and the stone here will make it impossible for the scanners to find us.  We need to call them!”

Brent growled and stalked over to him.  He shoved Julian hard enough to knock him into the wall of the little building.  “If you think we’re going to let you anywhere near that communications equipment, you’re as crazy as I’ve been saying for the last two years.”

Julian felt his cheeks warm as Brent turned to stalk back to where Roberts was.  He was tempted – sorely tempted – to back down.  He’d done that numerous times over the last two years and, each time, something horrible had happened.  The first time had been when Alyssum was killed.  As he thought of his late wife, he also remembered his daughter.

Marissa was depending on him to see this through.  If he backed down this time, everyone would die.  This might be their only chance for a rescue.  She needed him to act.  He didn’t want his little girl to die on this godforsaken world.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Julian surged forward.  He pushed between the two men and grabbed the communicator blindly.  Trusting his instincts, he flipped it on and turned it to a frequency he prayed would work.  “Lady Sarah,” he said, his voice cracking.  “Please come in.  This is Julian Southmaid, a passenger from the Cruiser Alistair, requesting assistance.”

“You fool,” Roberts growled, grabbing him.  He pulled Julian away from the table and threw him against the wall of the building.

“You and your dreams,” Brent snapped.  He stepped up to Julian’s other side and added, “You don’t even know that there’s anyone out there!”

As Julian winced, bracing for one or both of them to start hitting him, the comm crackled to life.  “Master Julian, this is Alexander Pemberton, on the Lady Sarah.  We have your location.  Help is on…” the voice trailed off as the battery finally died.

Julian lifted his head and released a shaky breath.  Meeting Brent’s gaze steadily, he said, “What were you about to say about my dreams?”  Without waiting for a response, he spun away from the pair and headed out into the sunshine.

He looked across the clearing at Angie Hogencamp, who was watching over the children.  “Which way did Master Westerburg and Master Bailey head?” he asked, his voice pitched just loud enough to carry to her.  “There’s been a development that they need to know about.”

Even as she pointed the way for him, Angie said, “What’s happened?”

Julian smiled.  “Help is on the way,” he said, shrugging.  He heaved a sigh and looked up at the clear blue sky.  “After two years on this rock, we’re about to be rescued.”

The Only Thing to Fear

Here’s a nice little vignette with the prompt of: write about a fear your character is ashamed of.

**

“You could go up and get a birds-eye view, so to speak,” Kit suggested.

Calleigh looked sharply at Kit.  “It’s dark,” she said, her voice strained.  She flushed when Kit regarded her with a curious expression.  In a soft voice, one she could barely hear herself, she said, “I don’t fly at night, Kit.  I could damage my wings.”

“It’s not that dark, Calleigh,” he said.  His tone was gentle and reasonable.  He was also absolutely correct.  It wasn’t so dark that she risked flying into anything.  She couldn’t think of any other excuse for not doing exactly what Kit had suggested.

“I could do a spell,” Alexander offered, looking from one to the other.  He smiled at Kit.  “Commander Skyler would see further with a bit more light.  Wouldn’t she, Captain?”

“Yes,” Calleigh said, nodding.  She gave Alexander a weak smile.  “Thank you,” she said, her voice soft.

“Do the spell, Al,” Kit said, nodding once.

Alexander wove the lighting spell and the area where they were – where Calleigh would need to fly – brightened noticeably.  A moment later, Calleigh flew up and got their bearings.  After she’d landed and the spell began to fade, they set off once again.

Alexander let Kit a bit ahead of them and then smiled faintly at Calleigh.  “I’m afraid of the dark too,” he murmured.  Then, he shrugged.  “It’s less frightening when you aren’t alone.”

A faint smile touched Calleigh’s lips.  Taking his hand, she said, “Your secret’s safe with me, Al.”  She knew that he’d keep her secret as well.

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