Shipwrecked – September 2023

Shipwrecked – September 2023

Cargo

Shipwrecked

Cargo Serial, Episode 1

A science fantasy serial.

 

Shipwrecked

September 2023

 

“Please. You don’t need to do this.” Rebecca wrung her hands nervously, following the massive wolfman around his quarters as he prepared.

He looked at her, then squinted. “Why are you so frightened?”

“I’m like, your plucky sidekick. Remember? Just here for comic relief?” She held her hands out expressively, then dropped them. “What happens if something happens?”

He didn’t respond.

Rebecca waved her hands, frantic. “I’m not an Evo or Order. There’s nothing special about me. I’m just some dork out in the middle of space working on her PhD thesis. I can’t survive without you.”

“You require no special abilities to survive, Becca.”

“So’rn, please,” Rebecca pleaded. She looked at the wall display screen that now showed the wreckage her wolfman was about to crawl through. Miles of jagged metal just waiting to poke a hole in his pressure suit.

So’rn followed her terrified gaze, stripping out of the last of his utilitarian garb. He held up a large white jumpsuit expectantly.

“What?”

“Help me get into this.”

Sighing, she started pulling the tight-fitting jumpsuit up his legs, pushing his thick, black fur down as she went. “Our space suits are a lot looser.”

“This is just a cooling liner.” So’rn shrugged his arms into the suit and Rebecca helped pull it so he could clasp it shut. “It is supposed to be tight.”

“Hundred-thousand-year-old society and you haven’t invented auto-fit yet?” Rebecca took a step back, looking at him critically.

“Some of us prefer the older models,” So’rn grumbled. He pressed a wall-plate, then stood back as a closet opened.

“What is that?” Rebecca gaped.

So’rn glanced sideways at her. “Chaser armor.”

She ran her hand down the alien armor, admiring the ridges and plates. “It’s so organic. Are these ablative plates?”

So’rn raised a brow. “You are familiar with armor?”

“Dad drove a tank.” She shook her head. “This is a lot more sophisticated than a tank, though.”

“With good reason. I am a Chaser,” So’rn said, extracting the armor from her rapt attention. “Hold this.”

Rebecca helped while her wolfman donned the armor. She marveled as the seams vanished when the armor pieces clicked together, becoming molecularly one. “Chaser.”

So’rn glanced at her, recognizing an implied question. “We chase deviant Gatekeepers. Like your Steven.” He snapped on a head-gear ring. “He is lucid, however, and is not a threat. The others are.”

“This helps?”

“It gives us an extra moment to evade their attack.” So’rn looked in the air and waved at something.

Rebecca touched the armor again and saw the user interface for it floating around them. “They’re that dangerous?”

So’rn stopped and regarded her sorely. “Becca, worlds have been lost to deviants. You’ve been to Senin, right? Saw the history report? A deviant did that.”

“Oh.” Rebecca stopped asking. Apparently, deviants were a sore issue for So’rn. Still, what was a Chaser doing on a freighter? She looked at her friend, wondering if she should broach the subject. But he still seemed to anticipate her question.

“With the threat of the Venda, it seemed prudent to assign me to this circuit.”

“Just you?”

So’rn scowled at her.

“Sorry. I thought you chased deviants.”

“Venda tend deviants.” He stretched in the armor. “So, we engage in combat with them, too.”

Rebecca looked out the window display. It wasn’t an actual window, but looked like one. So’rn followed her gaze. “Do you feel better now?”

She turned to face him. “So you have armor. You could still get crushed. Or something worse.”

“There is a risk to any action we undertake, Becca. This is worth that risk. And my armor should give me an edge out there.”

“Can’t our rescuers look at the projectile?”

“If those who sent the projectile reach us before we are rescued, knowing who they are will increase our likelihood of survival by an order of magnitude.”

Rebecca looked down. So’rn lifted her chin. “I’m going to get a rock. That’s all. I need you to help.”

“Okay.” Rebecca sighed. “Sure. A rock. In the middle of a minefield.”

So’rn cocked his head.

“You know. Mines. Bombs you set to keep people out?” She pursed her lips, forgetting she was speaking Common. “I guess there’s not a word for that.”

So’rn grinned. “Don’t fret. We have our toys too.” He turned on his heel and left the apartment.

Rebecca had to trot to keep up. “Yeah. Toys.”

“I’ve mapped the field and found a chunk close to one of the access ports.” He waved his hand and Rebecca saw a representation of the asteroid chunks in the wreckage. An airlock on the external hull was highlighted, as were several boulders that littered the fuselage around it.

“Huh. They’re affected by the ship’s gravity flow too.”

“The effect extends outside the spacecraft a little.” So’rn pointed. “That one looks good.”

“There’s a tangle of sharp metal junk all around it.”

“I’ll be careful.” He looked at her. “I’m not foolhardy, you know.”

“I’m starting to wonder about that,” Rebecca grumbled.

“Wonder about what?” So’rn stopped and tapped a panel. “Here we are.”

“What do I do?”

“You’re my backup.” So’rn pressed another wall-plate in the room they had entered. A closet emerged from the wall. “Put, um,” he squinted at her, then pointed, “that one. Put that one on.”

Rebecca looked at rows of actual space suits neatly hanging. “Do I need a liner too?” She pulled at her blouse.

“Not necessary. This isn’t armor. Just put it on.” So’rn extracted the suit and examined it. “It is auto-fit and close to your size.”

“Oh.” She kicked her loafers off and stepped into the suit. So’rn sealed it for her and clicked on the headpiece ring.

“Your helmet will deploy automatically, but here is a manual deployment control.” He put her hand on a control surface.

“That’s… what if I hit it accidentally?” She toggled the control and her helmet seemed to materialize from the neck-ring. The visor was opaque, like So’rn’s, but she could see everything perfectly from within. Another toggle, and it retracted.

“It will not respond if you are in an inhospitable environment,” So’rn grinned. He couldn’t help but be impressed by the questions she was asking. “Okay, I assume you know how the lock works, right?”

“I’ve been in one during transfers a few times.” Rebecca fiddled with a control panel on her arm and looked up in the air at the settings floating around her. She activated one and her suit resized itself to more comfortably fit her. “If you expect me to go out there and drag your crushed butt back,” she stopped. Shaking her head, she pointed at the door. “I don’t want to go out there.”

“You’ll operate the return cable.” He tapped another panel, and a winch emerged from the wall by the door. He clipped the cable to his armor. “Just pull on that lever and it’ll retrieve me if there’s a problem.”

“What if you’re, like, stuck? Crushed?”

“Then it will retrieve parts of me.” So’rn gave her a toothy grin. He sobered at her horrified expression. “That was humor. You Terrans have a very dark imagination.”

“You Camdyn are really annoying,” Rebecca grumbled.

“That we are.” So’rn pulled up a virtual control and activated it. The door to the room snapped shut, and the room seemed to lift.

Rebecca walked to the door and stood beside the winch. “I don’t like this, So’rn.”

“I’m not going to get injured. The thought of you nursing me is motivation enough.”

“Pfft, you only wish.” She hit a panel next to the door. Her visor deployed automatically while the air was removed from the room. After a brief moment, the door opened, revealing the expanse of their little section of the space-freighter. She watched So’rn exit, stepping through a thick layer of dust. “I thought we had this cleaned every transit.”

“This is from this transit,” So’rn said, looking down. The downside of having gravity on the exterior of the vessel was the inevitable buildup of dust. He looked up and pointed. “We have a much better view of that now. Look.”

Rebecca followed his gaze and nodded. This transit had a supermassive black hole. They were far enough away that it wasn’t a threat to them. Their trajectory was already pre-programmed to account for the gravitational pull. “That’s why this transit is such a gold mine.”

“Gold mine?”

“A rich source of resources.” Rebecca clarified. “You guys can mine this for centuries and not make a dent. Dust, rocks, planetoids, all pulled into that accretion ring. Easy pickings.” Part of her thesis covered the astrophysics being represented here. She looked at her suit sensor readings. “And radiation. Hurry up.”

She watched So’rn navigate carefully around wreckage that was strewn across the fuselage of the space freighter. The edge of the chasm created by the projectile was close, and the distorted metal raised up like a vast, frozen wave. The sheer size of everything intimidated Rebecca, and she shivered a little. The engineering section alone was over fifteen miles long. The cargo section was over eighty-five miles long. She felt like a little flea standing by the door as she watched So’rn pick through the dust looking for samples of the asteroid.

“This is odd,” So’rn said.

“What?”

“I already looked at this chunk.” He held up a fist-sized piece of the asteroid. “Not enough mass for a good radiation read.” He tossed it and kept feeling in the layer of dust. “There should be a larger piece right here, but it’s moved.”

“That’s a little creepy, So’rn.” Rebecca fidgeted, glancing at the handle of the winch.

“It is peculiar.” He stood up straight and turned around in a circle, looking down at the dust. “I’m not detecting any magnetic resonance, and yet the fragments seem to be aligning themselves as if there were.” He bent over and lifted up a much larger fragment. “Here it is.”

“Good. Now get back here.” Rebecca tugged on the safety line.

So’rn looked out into the chasm created by the asteroid. “It’s different when you’re actually looking at it out here.”

“I’m sure it – So’rn!” Rebecca screamed.

So’rn looked back at her, then around as a large black wave seemed to rise out of the surrounding dust. The chunk he held liquified and joined the wave that enveloped him. He writhed, trying to dislodge the black liquid while it attempted to find a way into his suit.

Rebecca pulled the lever and started pulling on the cable when the winch wasn’t turning fast enough for her. “So’rn!”

“No! Don’t pull me in!” So’rn waved a hand at her. The entirety of the liquid that had blanketed him abruptly left him, following the cable toward her.

Rebecca pushed the lever up and tried to jump back just as a mass of blackness suddenly fanned out and engulfed her. She fell back, hearing a distinct scream through her suit. Whatever it was, it was trying to get in. Suddenly, her headpiece retracted. Rebecca screamed into the vacuum as the blackness seemed to instantly fill her suit, immersing her.

Her last thought was a combination of emotions she had no idea existed.

Then, nothing.

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Shipwrecked – September 2023

Shipwrecked – August 2023

Cargo

Shipwrecked 

Cargo Serial, Episode 1 

A science fantasy serial.

 

Shipwrecked

August 2023

 

Suddenly, everything went sideways. Literally. Rebecca almost forgot to be scared. One moment she was arguing with a wolfman in a wrecked control room, and the next she was in the air as the vast control room seemed to precipitously slide by.

There was not a lot of furniture, thankfully, but the far wall was approaching rapidly. Like the others, the wall was a giant display, making it look like an opening into space. It made the visual even more terrifying. It was like the cosmos was approaching, ready to consume her.

The wolfman was suddenly next to her, grabbing her. He wrapped himself around her and spun around so she was looking at the receding wall. Only then did it occur to her just how massive he was. Sure, he towered over her when they walked together. But she felt even tinier in his embrace. She looked at one of his clawed hands that pretty much covered her belly. The other pulled her head back to his chest and she could only see between two of his fingers.

The impact was jarring. Rebecca seemed to blink for a long time before opening her eyes. She groggily realized it wasn’t a blink. She had blacked out.

“So’rn?”

No answer.

She looked around at him. His black eyes were partially closed and he floated limply by the wall.

Floated?

Rebecca looked down, then around. They both were floating. “So’rn!” She waved her arms then took a deep breath, feeling nauseated by the sense of falling.

So’rn blinked, then looked at her curiously.

“We’re weightless? We’re going to lose all our air!” Rebecca flailed her arms while taking another deep breath.

He grabbed one of her arms, wincing, and pulled her back to him. “What does weightlessness have to do with losing our air?”

Rebecca stopped flailing and stared at him for a long moment. “Um. I don’t know?” She looked around. “I just, it seemed, I freaked.”

So’rn huffed.

“You’re hurt.” Rebecca turned in his embrace and pulled back the fur on his shoulder, peering down his back. No blood, thankfully.

“It’s nothing. We play harder than that as children.” So’rn pushed her away. He looked around, at the wall-display. “The wreckage is cooling.”

“And?”

He glanced at her. “This part shifted, apparently.”

“That was a shift? A shift? We were standing over there a moment ago!”

“Becca, be calm. We are still alive.” So’rn pushed from the wall, dragging her with him. “Gravity flow generators must have gone offline in the shift.”

Rebecca looked back at the wall. On it she saw the wreckage of the hundred-mile-long space freighter. Actually, the forward shield was intact, as were most of the cargo containers. It was as if the asteroid was intended to destroy the rear engineering section of the vessel. Still, that was a good ten or fifteen miles of structure that was shredded at high velocity.

Intended? Rebecca remembered something So’rn had said just before everything went sideways.

“You said we were hit by a projectile?”

So’rn glanced back at her. “I did indeed.” He appeared surprised the Terran actually listened.

“No. That’s bull. We have protections.” Rebecca shook her head. It was hard to deny what she was seeing, though.

“Our shields protect us from impacting stuff. And our maneuvers protect us from stuff coming at us from the side. But none of our shields can protect against a guided projectile.” He looked back at her again. “You were there with me. You saw it.”

Rebecca gulped. They both had been on an observation deck and witnessed the black asteroid coming seemingly out of nowhere. It was traveling impossibly fast. And it ripped through their ship like it was foil. She closed her eyes as she remembered. It did seem to match their course change. She remembered the stars rotating as the ship attempted to avoid the asteroid. But the asteroid followed. “That’s impossible.”

“We move asteroids all the time.” So’rn grabbed a counter and pushed her into a chair. She gripped the armrests while he strapped her in. “This transit is a new mine, after all. We were supposed to leave two containers in orbit for the future crew.” He looked at the display, scowling. “This asteroid was only about thirty-two thousand cubic feet in size. But it was the velocity that did the damage.”

“Oh. Only thirty-two thousand cubic feet. What was I thinking?” Rebecca rolled her eyes. He actually used another word in his language. But that’s how it translated to her. She seemed to sink into the chair suddenly. “Oof, that was sudden.”

So’rn grinned at her. “Secondary systems are online.”

“No duh.” Rebecca unstrapped herself and stood up. The floor seemed to rumble and she looked around nervously.

“We’re still shifting. The impact caused a lot of heat expansion. Now we’re cooling.”

“Death by cooling spaceship. Not fun,” Rebecca grumbled.

“Can you name a fun death?” So’rn shook his head.

Rebecca grinned, then frowned, looking out the window. “So’rn?”

So’rn moved something in the air and looked at her while reaching up and moving something else. Rebecca couldn’t see it, but knew what it was.

“Who did this?”

He scowled and returned his attention to the air around him. Sighing, Rebecca touched the control panel and suddenly saw what he was seeing. Holographic displays floated all around them. Representations of data he was searching through. Apparently, he was pondering the same question.

“The Venda would be the easiest to blame.” He glanced at her. “They’re why I’m here.”

“Yeah, but don’t they normally hijack the ships?”

So’rn nodded. “True. This is different.”

“But the Cooperative doesn’t have any other enemies, do they?” Rebecca pursed her lips, nervous. The Venda were insidious and ridiculously relentless. Who could be worse than them?

So’rn chortled. “Oh, there are others. Contacts we’ve made that did not fare well.”

“I’ve never heard of them. Just the Venda.”

“Because the Venda are currently waging war against us. But they’ve focused on the core worlds.” He looked sideways at her. “They think they’re fighting on behalf of your deviant.”

“Steven Crow?” Rebecca shook her head. “He’s an Elf. And Earth… Terra, we’re not that happy with him either.”

So’rn huffed, returning his attention to his displays. “I need to get a sample of the projectile.”

“You’re going out there?” Rebecca pointed at a wall display, incredulous. Sharp shards of metal and fragments of the asteroid made the area near them a death-trap.

“Perhaps I can find a sample without going far.” He pulled up a 3D map of the ship that hung in the air around them. “Its radioactive signature will help identify the technology used to drive the projectile.”

“And?”

“That would help me identify the responsible party.”

“Pfft. Then what? Our computers have lost contact with everyone.”

So’rn looked at her thoughtfully. “They hijacked the entanglement. We’ve only seen the Sadari do that.”

“And their Venda.” Rebecca waggled a finger. She shuddered. “I thought I’d be safe on a freighter. Now we’re being attacked by gods and their hordes?”

“Just another day in my life,” So’rn grumbled. He stopped and looked at her. “What do bovine have to do with it?”

“Huh?” Rebecca blinked, cocking her head.

“You mentioned a bull. I am still trying to figure that out.” So’rn squinted at her. “Did you bring any onboard?”

“What? No! That’s just something we say.” Rebecca held her hands out, exasperated. “We’re on a wrecked spaceship about to be attacked by who knows who and you want to know about bull?”

“I am just trying to make sense of your vernacular. Terrans are an odd people.”

“And then some.” Rebecca smirked.

“Some… what?”

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Shipwrecked – September 2023

Shipwrecked – July 2023

Cargo

Shipwrecked 

Cargo Serial, Episode 1

A science fantasy serial.

 

Shipwrecked

July 2023

 

“I could eat you.” The massive wolfman leaned inches from her face, clacking his teeth and licking his lips loudly. 

“Sure. Then where would you be?” She refused to back up. Instead, she pointed again at the chamber behind her. “Eating those.”

“Becca, Camdyn don’t graze.” 

“Duh.” Rebecca rolled her eyes. Camdyn eating veggies? She shook her head and lifted a panel between the rows of vegetables, exposing large grubs. “Protein, just the way you like it. So’rn, Elves eat these just fine.”

“I’d rather eat you. Terrans are so deliciously tender.” 

“Pfft. I’d get caught in your teeth.” Rebecca stood up. “That fella on Mars did it. So can we.”

“That movie again?” So’rn grumbled and turned around, heading out of the chamber. “We still have rations. And we’re not on your Mars.”

“C’mon.” Rebecca chased after the massive Camdyn. Wolfman. She sighed. Why couldn’t she be marooned with an Elf or Faerie? “We could be here for months.”

So’rn looked at her quizzically.

“You know. Month. It’s, um, like thirty of your days?” Rebecca shook her head. “We cannot use up the rations too quickly. We need to make them last longer. That food is healthy for us.” She pointed behind her.

“For you.” So’rn scowled. “No.”

“You’ll love it. I promise.” 

“No.”

“We can cook them. Spice them.”

“No and no.” 

“It’d be like eating clams.”

“Do I look like I eat clams?” So’rn pulled up short, looking at her in exasperation. 

“They are yummy.” Rebecca said, subdued. “We have this sauce stuff back home. It’s called soy sauce.”

“No.”

“We have salt here. That’d help make them yummy.”

So’rn glowered at her. “It’d make you yummy.”

“Give it a chance, willya?” Rebecca pulled on his thick, black fur. “It’ll make the rations last longer.” She followed him into a ruined control room. “We need to be ready for anything.”

“We weren’t ready for that.” So’rn pointed at a wall sized viewscreen.

Rebecca sighed and looked at the wreckage displayed. They were on a space freighter over a hundred miles long, and something had impacted it head on, carving it nearly in half. “We’re alive, So’rn. And we’ll be found. I know it. But we need to prepare for the long term.”

So’rn turned to face her. “I have no doubt we’ll be found. But by who?”

Rebecca just looked at him. He turned to look at the wreckage again. “We weren’t hit by an asteroid, Becca. We were hit by a projectile.”

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Download this FREE science fantasy novella today!

Download this FREE science fantasy novella today!

Download this FREE science fantasy novella today!

https://books.mjv.com/hx2i9cvcg2

Sally Crow is having chronic nightmares about ravenous wolves in a dark forest. Now, those nightmares have come to life, and she is desperate to rescue her young son, Steven.

They were supposed to be kept safe, with an army of heavily armed agents at their disposal. Their safe-house, far from the wilderness, is a guarded fortress. Steven is safe, and her husband is safe. Life is good. Until it wasn’t.

Their enemy has zeroed in on them, and even those guarding her were powerless to guarantee their safety. Nowhere is safe for them.

With their world crashing around them, Sally is on the run, frantically trying to keep Steven safe. And then the worst happens.

How was she supposed to protect her son from the dark forest, when the city streets have abruptly become far more dangerous?

Download this FREE science fantasy novella today!

https://books.mjv.com/hx2i9cvcg2

Sally Crow is having chronic nightmares about ravenous wolves in a dark forest. Now, those nightmares have come to life, and she is desperate to rescue her young son, Steven.

They were supposed to be kept safe, with an army of heavily armed agents at their disposal. Their safe-house, far from the wilderness, is a guarded fortress. Steven is safe, and her husband is safe. Life is good. Until it wasn’t.

Their enemy has zeroed in on them, and even those guarding her were powerless to guarantee their safety. Nowhere is safe for them.

With their world crashing around them, Sally is on the run, frantically trying to keep Steven safe. And then the worst happens.

How was she supposed to protect her son from the dark forest, when the city streets have abruptly become far more dangerous?

Download this FREE science fantasy novella today!

Download this FREE science fantasy novella today!

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