Ordos – Chapter One
When writing my own, solo stuff (meaning not a collaboration with my wife and her pen name) I tend to lean towards the gritty, scary stuff. I try not to constrain myself, though, and if an idea pops into my head that doesn’t quite sit flush with my other stuff, I write it anyway. It’s usually fun, and I can always just release it for free in web-serial format or even make a pen name if it comes to it.
Late last year, 2015, (wow, I almost typed 2014!) I had an idea for a pulpy, sci-fi series with an ass-kicking, cocky heroine in the driver’s seat. This is the (very) rough draft for the beginning of that story. Like I said, it’s a little less thought-provoking than my other stuff, but it was always my intent to make this a simple, fun, fast read.
Let me know what you think in the comments at the bottom of this page and I will love you forever (or until you stop leaving comments, at least).
Months in stasis
Lightyears from Base
Damned be the man who invented stasis.
Cyrin Thorne came out of hyper-sleep the same way she always did; falling to the floor like a newborn, coughing and retching up thick, blue gunk. Her eyes burned as if she had been staring into a star for the last six months, and her bones felt as weak as the excess cryo-gel clinging to her arms.
“Sleep well, hon?”
“Whoa there. Is that a way to speak to your doctor? I could’ve just left you in there.”
“Where is he?”
“Who? The Colonel?”
“Who else?” she said, then propped herself on her forearms before retching again, noting the red veins mingling with the blue vomit. She tried to stand but her legs gave out six inches from the floor and she collapsed again.
“Need me to carry you to ‘im?”
“Would you just fuck off already?”
“Gods be damned, what a bitch. Crawl there naked for all I give a shit. He’s up in command.” And with that, Captain Jones stormed off toward the exit of cryo-bay, his boots clanking against the diamond shaped treads on the walkway.
Cyrin tried to rise once more, but her legs wobbled like a baby’s and gave out again, her soggy knees scraping against the floor. Jones may have had the right of it. She might have to crawl her way to the Colonel. But that was a deck up, and her arms were little stronger than her legs. Why didn’t I just let him carry me? She shook her head at the thought. She’d be damned before letting that gorilla parading around as a doctor wrap his fat arms around her naked body. There was no telling how many times the sick bastard came down to see her suspended there, floating bare and unknowing like a fetus, no doubt claiming to just be doing his rounds or checking on the pods. She would make sure he paid for it later, but for now she needed to find a way up.
She rubbed her hands along her arms and legs, trying to coax the blood into the joints which had been dormant for so long. Minutes felt like hours as the feeling-less limbs began to tingle and come to life, remembering a function long since used. She was ready to try standing again. Using one of the side handles on her now-empty pod, she tried to pull herself up. Slowly she worked her way to what could hardly be called standing, but it was something. She leaned against the ice-cold cryo-tank as the sensation of tingling blood ran into her feet. She took a step forward. It was a mistake.
She stumbled and tripped, her toe catching a diamond rung that ripped at her nail before letting go. Slamming against an unopened but unused pod on the adjacent wall, she managed to grip a new handle to save from falling. After taking another moment to steady herself, she started again. A single step — a success. Another step. Her legs were starting to grow strong again. Her feet began to remember their purpose. Before long she found herself at the end of the chamber. She grabbed a rag from a rack and began to wipe the remnants of slime from her body, thoroughly soaking the makeshift towel. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do. With muscles that could not react as instructed, she made her way back to her pod and punched in the code for her locker in its base. It didn’t contain much; only what she needed. She pulled out her suit and slid it on, cursing in frustration as the material tried to cling to some missed, wet remnants of gel. She zipped the front to her neck, then pulled the last object from her box — a silver chain necklace with a small pendant hanging loosely from its center. She wrapped it around her neck, fixed the clasp, then made sure it was hidden beneath her suit before leaving the cryo-bay.
She hadn’t been on the ship long before stasis, but all the covert vessels in the fleet were made the same. Cryo opened into a short hall lined with three doors on each side. She couldn’t remember which she had been in as she walked by, but she hated them. Sick-bays were for the weak or injured. They were also for stasis-prep. The thought nearly made her throw-up again as she hurried past.
The hall of sick-bay ended at a round hub room with a few additional halls jutting off in their own directions. The hub also contained the chute for the ladder and the lift. Cyrin would usually use the ladder, if for no other reason than being sure she didn’t have to ride in a closed space with anyone else, even for a three-second trip, but she wasn’t quite confident she could climb it in her current state. She blew a thick strand of drying hair from in front of her eyes and punched the lift button. Thankfully, there was no one inside. She hit the three and the doors closed, only to open once again seconds later.
Top floor was busier than mid and cargo. Several people bustled by; one of them jumped into the elevator and slapped the button for the bottom floor. Cyrin was glad she hadn’t got stuck on the lift with them — whoever they were. No one seemed to acknowledge her as she walked to the command room. When she reached the shut door, she came to the realization that she didn’t have her key-card. Had they given her one? Surely. Before she had time to think about it more, the doors slid apart.
“Ah, there she is,” Colonel Urser said, his voice thick and accented. “Come in, my dear.”
Cyrin ignored the pleasantries and entered the room. There were only two others aside from the Colonel — XO Valentine and Captain Jones, the medical officer. She sneered her nose at the doctor.
“You two, out. I need to talk to the good agent here.”
The XO and Captain both headed for the door, Jones making sure he passed behind Cyrin as he went.
“You looked good in Cryo. Got me through many lonely nights if you know-” Cyrin spun and swung her fist as hard as she could at the captain’s face. He ducked out of the way and bobbed through the door laughing, the doors sliding shut and locking behind him.
“You just got up and you’re already trying to take one of my crew’s head off? What kind of way to act is that?”
“He’s lucky my body’s still in stasis-shock. Otherwise he’d be dead.” She stretched her neck and rubbed the front of her throat with her hand. It was still sore from the life support cables which, until less than an hour ago, had been winding their way down into her lungs and gut.
“Ah, now Cy, give the kid a break. You’ve been sleeping for six months, remember? He’s been riding around this whole time with nothing to keep him company but the rest of the crew. All men.”
“And his hand.”
Despite himself, the Colonel laughed. “What would your dad think if he knew I let you talk like that?”
She tensed up at the mention of her father, then tried to change the subject. “So, can you tell me what the hell we are doing out here? And for that matter, where out here is? You said you had a big opportunity for me, but the only opp I’ve seen is fulfilling some fuck-face’s fantasy.”
“That’s enough. I’ve tolerated it this long because I knew your father, but I’m getting tired of it already. You’ll remember that I am a Colonel and the head of this ship. Daughter of Tarson or not, you will speak to me properly and refer to me as sir and nothing else. Is that understood?”
“Right, sir. I was just asking, sir, if you can tell me why the hell I just traveled six months from base.” She paused. “Sir.” For a moment, she thought she had gone too far. His left eye squinted the way she had seen it do before he disciplined a subordinate, and she braced herself for the oncoming barrage, but nothing came.
“We’re about two hours out from Ordos.”
“Yes. A Noxxic controlled planet out in the Cepula system.”
“Whoa. Hold on a second. We’re in Noxxic controlled space?” She was surprised but thrilled. This is what she had been waiting for.
“And just what are we doing here?”
He rubbed his forehead with index and thumb. “You’re really pushing me, girl. I’m trying to tell you. Just hold your damned questions for a minute. The system is Noxxic controlled, but it’s mainly a research hub from what our intel says. Just Ordos and its two moons are occupied. The other worlds are useless — gas giants and balls of ice. As far as they know, there is no reason to think we’d launch an attack out here. This is way out. Near off-grid. They shouldn’t be expecting us.”
Despite his earlier request, Cyrin opened her mouth again. “Research world? I’ll say again … what the hell are we doing out here? We’re only one ship. You can’t possibly think we’ll be able to win a battle. Even if it is some shit, back-water planet, they’re going to have ships, and they won’t be researching; I can tell you that. They’ll have our ass.”
“I think I’ve been around long enough to know a few things more than you, girl. Don’t you think? I’m not so stupid as to go into battle against a planet with only this ship. Damned be me for requesting you to come instead of another, more seasoned Ghost.” He walked over to the command chair and poured an amber liquid into a small, silver cup, then downed it. “Do you know how much shit they gave me for bringing you? Half the crew resents me for it. All of them resent you. They feel sending someone so green is a waste. And if they are right, then they’ve wasted six months. If it wasn’t for your dad …”
“Whatever I need to do, just tell me, and I’ll do it. I’ll do it better than anyone else you could have brought. Green or not.” She already knew the crew resented her, but the words coming from the colonel, her own uncle, made it real. Was he one of the fifty percent?
He nodded, but something made her think he was not convinced. “There’s something on Ordos that I need. Something we need. And you’re going to get it for me.”
“Planet-side? I hope you’re joking. It’d take an army to set foot on a Noxxic world, maybe the whole fleet. As soon as they know, research world or not, more will come. They’ll be here in hours and any help we have is six months away.”
“We don’t need an army. We need a Ghost. This is what you were trained for, remember? Infiltrate. Remain unseen. Get out. It is beyond crucial that they don’t find out who did this.”
“And how do you plan on getting me planet-side?”
“Leave that to me.”
She huffed. All these vague answers were starting to piss her off as much as the pervert of a doctor. “And what exactly are we going through all this trouble for?”
“You’ll know once you’re down there. I won’t say here.” More vagary.
“So for my first real, no-training-wheels mission, you’re sending me to a Noxxic world with no idea what I am looking for? Alone?”
“You drop in two hours. I suggest you suit up.” He poured another cup of brown liquid. “And Cy. You damned best not die down there.”