Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Space Opera Comes to Talbot's Peak
Middle of May howls and yowls, shapeshifter lovers.
Okay, I was Muse-struck by this sci fi story idea last week. And as usual it began playing in my head like a movie. So I thought I'd turn it into today's flash scene.
Space Opera Comes to Talbot's Peak
"Jettison escape craft."
Commander Sarza listened to her final order reverberate through the empty battle cruiser. On screen she watched ten pods emerge from the belly of her ship, then scatter like a flock of hunted birds -- before they cloaked, becoming invisible to the Gray Galactic's surveillance platform.
The monstrous pyramid lasered frequencies nonstop in this sector of the galaxy, the information instantly available to their war fleet. However, Commander Sarza owned a decent amount of hope that her devoted crew would be rescued or find their way to rebel-held planetoids.
After star-all, they'd decimated the enemy in this sector. Until now that is. With this defeat not one weapon functioned, all of them drained to uselessness.
"Why are you still onboard?" she demanded, hearing Nherone's quiet familiar tread.
"Why would I leave you?" he countered, stepping before her, his night-purple eyes glistening with concern.
Sarza rapidly roamed her gaze over his face. Bronze-red, glistening skin stretched over sharp features, and his prominent elf-like ears swivelled toward her. "The others need you. Leave now," she harshly ordered, knowing it was likely the last time she'd see her paramour, her second in command.
Nherone didn't argue. Instead, he deferred to her wisdom. After kissing her with his gaze, he spun around and raced for his small fighter jet.
Sarza slumped forward, and for a spec of time, she simply sat in her command chair, her senses dulled. The screeching alarm for the ship's auto-destruct had long since run its course.
With a mental snap, she straightened fast and refocused as she'd trained herself to do over the long years of battling the Gray Overlords. So what if she faced particle obliteration, her precious cruiser blown to its eternal rest.
She remained in command to the end.
Yeah, feck the fat brain androids and their evil, withered hearts. With two minutes ticking down, Sarza threw her gaze at the holo-screen. The Gray's death ring of battle craft advanced at warp speed now.
They knew, and planned to shoot scalar rays in an attempt to halt the Intrepid's destruction. On an impulse she didn't understand but respected, Sarza leapt up rushing to the silicon container that held Herman, the new AI she and her crew had liberated from an outpost lab – before he'd been programmed by the Gray Overlords.
As he proved his loyalty, Herman had been allowed more responsibility in running some of the cruiser's systems. With this final battle, he'd kept them alive and fighting far longer than would have been possible pre his AI assistance.
The decision had been made to leave Herman behind. Given his unique AI capabilities, they couldn't afford for the Gray's AI master-hive to assimilate him.
At her touch, the container whirred open. "Sleep," Sarza ordered. She scooped the shimmery alabaster egg out, and since Herman was larger than her palm, she pressed him against her chest. "We can go boom together," she whispered.
"No!" burst past Sarza's lips in the following moment as she heard the racing paws of her pet drogon, a small dog-dragon breed. He sprang, and Sarza caught him against her side, their usual athletic game together.
"What are doing here?" she scolded, hysteria welling up at the thought of his death. "You were supposed to be with the rest of the animals. Safe."
From beneath her arm, Drexi gazed at her, answering with what she called his sweet face. "Damn the fascists freakazoids," Sarza muttered, fast-walking toward her command chair.
She sat, placing Drexi on her lap. After cradling Herman in the crook of her arm, Sarza stroked her pet's silky slick coat. "You were supposed to be safe. I've had a long space run. Longer than I ever dreamed possible ... I knew the end would come like this ... some day."
Drexi licked her hand in his loving way. One tiny sob broke free, and sadness overwhelmed Sarza. As the last warning buzz began, her life flashed before her mind's eye.
Tears dripped from the corner of her eyes slightly blurring her vision as Sarza glanced at the holo-screen. Stunned, she stared, watching an unknown sleek warship streak toward her, ahead of the Gray's death ring.
White flames of light surrounded Sarza, and unconsciousness claimed her.
Shaky on her feet, Sarza forced her eyes open. About twenty paces away, a tall, broad-shouldered man in a nondescript, skintight uniform stood with his back to her. Hair the color of an Earth puma fell in a thick curtain to his shoulders, and he appeared to be studying something on a com pad, even though he was behind what appeared to be a personal workstation.
Where in the galactic hell was she? This was no Gray prison-interrogation ship. Unless they'd constructed a holo program to deceive her.
Going on the offensive, Sarza demanded in universal vernacular, "Where is my pet?"
The man turned to face her, his manner unhurried. Piercing eyes that reminded her of a clear turquoise sea regarded her, but gave nothing away.
"Where is he?" Sarza took a step forward, discovering she wasn't exactly steady on her booted feet. Dammit it to the next galaxy, and beyond.
"The animal is being tended in the health ward." The man's voice sounded like a low boom, even though he spoke calmly. "I am told he is recovering well."
"What do you mean recovering well?"
"The beam I used to extract you from your exploding cruiser was designed only for your physical signature, Commander Sarza of the Khy Woden."
At his words, Sarza glanced down just to make certain she was still fully attired, given some beams stripped away any garment. Except for her array of weaponry, yeah, so far no problem.
"However," the man continued, his voice even more baritone, "I strengthened the intra-fractional–"
"Got it," Sarza interrupted. "So where is my AI? And how do you know who I am?"
In that instant, her brain kicked in and Sarza's eyes widened involuntarily. "The Hunter," she puffed out, even as all breath fled her body.
Why bother with any pretense? Clearly in her depleted state, there was no way to best him, not now, not mind to mind.
The Hunter grimaced more than smiled. "You can believe me or not, beautiful woman, I have always been allied with your rebel cause."
"Not the story I hear," she fired back, her hand grabbing for the plasma sidearm she didn't have. "I lost two station comrads, two of the best–"
"Two traitors," he interrupted, his expression grim. "Or, I should say, they'd been targeted by the Sirens, and were about to turn to the dark side. I got to them first."
"The Sirens," Sarza murmured. "We've lost several to those machine seductresses. Lost cruisers too, because of it." Narrowing her eyes, Sarza studied The Hunter, who did his wanted holo-poster one better, as far as good looks.
"AI?" he inquired, hiking his dark brows.
What the starhole hell? The Hunter seemed genuine. Yet... this could all be an elaborate deception. Still, her psi-warning system wasn't blaring at her.
"Herman," she stated. "Looks like an egg."
Without answering, The Hunter lowered his gaze, and touched open a compartment on his workstation. "Herman?" he asked, holding out her AI, who fit neatly inside his palm.
Sarza found her tongue, saying, "That's him."
She tried another step forward, but whooziness stopped her. Resisting the urge to clap her hand to her forehead, Sarza stood still, willing herself to keep her gaze locked on him.
"It will pass," The Hunter assured. He moved around the workstation with the latent power of a big cat species. "The temporary affect of the specialized beam," he explained.
In what appeared to be a gesture of good faith, he handed Herman to her. Sarza clutched the AI close, and felt the slight throb of recognition. Even so, she kept her gaze targeted on The Hunter.
"Is the AI why you survived long enough for me to arrive?" he asked. His gaze hard as diamond-infused steel sought to see through her every atom. Yet, she noticed, the warmth of humaness flared within.
"One reason," she conceded. "Where are we headed? The Grays have to know you betrayed them."
Half a smile lightened his boldly formed features. "They figured that out several star months ago. I had the element of surprise on my side when my crew broke through the death ring. However," The Hunter pivoted from her striding toward what Sarza recognized as a food station, "I have contingency plans. We're headed toward Earth."
"Earth! ... why? Every space bad ass and his scavenger mother is there."
"Not in Talbot's Peak. At least, not at the Pleasure Club. It's an underground fortress, and there's an ancient tunnel system that will conceal my ship."
Mentally rocked back on her heels, Sarza uttered, "I hope so ... Pleasure Club?"
Wishing you love and passion on the wild side ...
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~