Work on the second book in the Sundered Crown saga is going well, the first 4 chapters of the first draft are almost done. I’ve also started another new story, this one in the sci-fi genre. As a treat here is the opening part to Terran Defenders (Working title)
The small salvage ship fired its retro engines slowing it and creating another bright dot of light in the vast ocean of stars in the depths of space.
Tumbling and rolling before the little ship was the desolate hull of the legendary SS Regent. Debris and flotsam spiralled away from the wrecked vessel causing the salvage ship’s captain to reinforce the shields. Tiny sparks like miniature solar flares brightened the cockpit as the shields disintegrated the potentially lethal detritus.
Captain Finley Adams scowled at the sad scene of the once mighty ship crumbling apart before his very eyes. Carefully he brought the salvage ship in closer and activated the powerful search lights that were sat above the cockpit.
“Are you seeing this captain?”Over the intercom came the voice of his engineer and wife Carolyn Adams.
The married couple had been salvagers for over ten years making a good income from their dangerous work. This case however had been a complete surprise. They initially hadn’t had any intention of scouting the Ro system. Their contract had told them to search the much more profitable region of the Eagan system, another twenty light years away from their current location. No large scale battles had ever taken place in Ro, according to the charts Ro was a quiet backwater of a system, not having much in the way of resources and was home to only four gaseous planets.
Finley took the smouldering Chindin cigar from his mouth and blew a thick cloud of bluish smoke before replying; “Yeah, I see it. Looks like something ripped a chunk out of the port side of the hull. Jesus, it looks like an Asteroid strike to me.”
He tapped a series of buttons on the control console bringing up the external scanner. On the small screen to his right he saw a 3d model of the wrecked Regent materialise as the ships computer began its spectral analysis. The powerful scanners blasted out radiation ranging from gamma rays right through to X-rays to get a complete readout.
“Any life signs?” enquired his wife over the comm.
Finn snorted at the silly question.
“No darling, if this is the Regent the poor sods on board would have died 200 years ago.”
The scanner pinged indicating the initial scan was complete.
“What the hell?” Finley exclaimed as the image of the Regent zoomed in showing the ragged hole that was threatening to tear the stricken hulk apart. Impossibly the hole came into focus showing the sheared metal facing outwards, as though something had ripped out of the ship rather than struck it.
“Maybe the asteroid came through from the other side?” offered Carolyn as she joined her husband in the cockpit. Her long brunette hair was tied up in a bun and her ragged features were as usual covered in grease and oil stains. She wore the same blue overalls as her overweight husband, each bearing the sign of the Space exploration Ministry.
“I don’t think so, according to the scan only this side of the ship has been ruptured.” Finley leaned forward and brought up another screen showing the magnified X-ray image of the stricken ship.
“Fuel leak, munitions explosion?” Carolyn offered again.
Fin smiled at his wife’s persistent use of logic. Fin however couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. After so many years scouring battlefields, wrecked colonies and ancient scrap yards he’d never had his ship brought out of FTL right on top of a wreck, and the Regent was as famous as they came. She had once been the colonies most prized vessel but had mysteriously vanished on her maiden voyage two hundred years ago.
“Well honey there’s only one way to know for sure” Said Fin as he prized himself out his chair setting the smaller ship to begin docking procedures.
The airlock hissed as it slid open to reveal the dark opening of the Regent’s docking bay. Fin and Carolyn were now wearing their bulky zero G-suits. Neither of them enjoyed travelling in them, the suits made them feel claustrophobic and clumsy. Each of their breaths made a sharp hissing noise through their internal comm’s making Fin more and more uneasy as they slowly made their way across the empty bay.
Scattered about the place and floating lazily in the vacuum were crates and tools. Carolyn caught one of the papers and held it up to her torch light.
“It’s dated August 2145. That’s two hundred years ago.” She said in surprise.
Fin nodded, the dates fitted.
“That confirms it then. This is definitely THE SS Regent.” He replied as he too knelt awkwardly and picked up a page. It was from an engineering manual for an ancient victor class of star fighter. He shook his head in wonder.
“This place should be in a museum. Imagine the finder’s fee were gonna get Fin!” Carolyn whooped.
Fin smiled, but that nagging feeling returned.
“Come on, let’s get to that hole. I want to know what happened here.” He said as he carefully moved to an access hatch at the far end of the bay. The pair of salvagers made their way through the ship encountering nothing but eerily empty rooms.
“How come we’ve not seen any bodies Fin?” asked Carolyn nervously. The emptiness of the place was starting to get to them both. It was strange not to encounter any dead crewmembers, those they could handle; it was a common thing for salvage crews to run into.
“Maybe they all got sucked out into space through that hole.” Fin offered shrugging his shoulders. “I’m picking up some faint electrical anomalies.”
He glanced at his wrist scanner that displayed readouts of the interior of the ship. Another left turn and they would arrive at the damaged portion of the hull. Rounding the corner a vibration ran throughout the ship causing them both to stop dead in their tracks.
“Movement?” Fin wondered aloud. He placed a thick-gloved hand onto the passageways wall and sure enough, he could feel a tremor running through the hull. His wrist scanner began to beep insistently, the speed increasing at a rapid pace. He quickly looked at the readouts.
“Holy hell, our ships engines are spooling up,” Fin cried in alarm.
He spun around and grabbed his wife’s hand pulling her after him as he rushed his way back to the scout ship. They ran as fast they could back towards the small craft. The wrist scanner was going crazy as the sensors detected that the ship was about to jump away at any second, stranding the salvagers on the dead Regent.
Desperately Fin jumped and kicked off from the access hatch they had gone through sending him flying through the vacuum of space. Within seconds, he reached the air lock and frantically removed his zero G-suit. Carolyn was screaming over the comm., screaming at him to hurry.
Fin was sweating, the perspiration was getting in his eyes and the sense of dread he felt was now of absolute terror. The airlock opened as he bounded through the ship towards the cockpits access ladder. All the while, he was swearing under his breath. The sound of the ships engines was deafening, at any moment the ship would jump ripping apart the wreck of the Regent and vaporizing both of the scavengers. He forced his bulk awkwardly up the ladder and threw himself into the command seat. Urgently he brought up the console and with a cry of relief, he punched the engine override button, shutting them down. Fin collapsed back in his seat in utter relief, panting for breath and swearing profusely. After a few moments, he collected his thoughts and picked up the Comm.
“Carolyn. Honey I did it, the ships secure. I don’t know what the heck caused that. I’m gonna start a ship wide diagnostic.”
He frowned. “Where is that damn woman? Carolyn, Carolyn can you hear me?” he asked in frustration and more than a little worry.
Fin felt fear once more knot his guts. He was just about to try again when a voice came over the comm.
“My god Fin you got to take a look at this honey. I’m at the impact site.”
Fin frowned, It was Carolyn’s voice but it sounded distant almost ethereal. Cautiously he headed back to the airlock and once more donned his suit. Quickly he made his way back across the bay but not before disabling the scout ships engines with a computer override. Whatever had caused the mysterious engine start up could happen again, he wasn’t prepared to take any chances.
He reached the point they had made it to before the incident and slowly rounded the corner. There before him was a scene of utter devastation. This was where the crew was, all five hundred of them. A cavernous space lay before him, the massive hole that led out into space on the far wall.
However, it was the rest of the walls that made Finlay vomit into his suit.
There impaled on the walls was the ship’s crew, frozen in terror thanks to the vacuum of space. Blood covered every surface, disembowelled corpses littered the floor and there standing in the middle of it all was Carolyn her back to her husband. Finley staggered towards her desperate to take them away from this nightmare. He grabbed her arm. Slowly she turned to face him.
“Nooo!” Fin screamed as his wife stared at him. Except it was not his wife.
A sadistic grin adorned her face, her eyes were black slits and the skin was ripped and torn. He staggered backwards screaming. The thing that wore his wife’s suit reached for him, gripping his suit, and pushing him down to the ground with a superhuman strength. Fin struggled against the creature but it was too strong.
He screamed again as out of the corner of his eye he could see the corpses of the ship’s crew stirring, moving slowly towards him, arms outreached to drag him to their fate. The last thing Finlay Adams heard was the scanner on his wrist beeping frantically. Someone or something had started up his ship….