I will snippet for another couple of weeks and then release the collection. I’m not done writing this story, but I do know what the plot arc is, and all I have to do is follow my character through her journey to the end-point, scribbling hasty notes… As always, a snippet is a rough draft, subject to change (almost certainly ) prior to publication, copyright to me, and if you see egregious errors, let me know in the comments!
You can find the earlier snippets here…
I had no idea where I was. I was pretty sure ‘nowhere near Earth’ was as close as I could put myself on a starchart. As the scooter’s radio crackled and I waited for a human voice, I could feel my throat tightening up until I wondered if I’d be able to talk back. It seemed like it had been a lifetime since I’d spoken.
“Station to unknown craft, come in please.” The crisp male voice on the radio sounded tense.
“Station, this is the scooter N1UUX, calling for assistance.” I got it out with just a bit of a quaver and a voice crack, but that was AOK with the story I’d ginned up. “Station…” I gulped loudly, “where am I?”
“What? N1UUX, say again?” He sounded startled and very clear. I was getting closer.
“I don’t know where I am. Can I come in?” I watched the station loom in my viewscreen, until it filled the pickups and blocked out most of the stars, saddening me. I almost turned it around, but it seemed a shame to waste the gift I’d been given.
“N1UUX, please follow the blinking blue in your starboard plane.” He was back to the original tone of voice. Tense, but not overly ruffled.
I turned my head and saw the light start to flash over a bay opening. I swooped toward it, the tiny scooter dwarfed as it passed through the shields with a ripple like a bubble in water. I might never have seen an ocean, but water I knew. The shields held off micrometeorites, and had I attempted a landing without warning, I’d be a smoking hole in space about now. I landed on the scarred ceramsteel and sat waiting, looking around. I didn’t undog the hatch – this was clearly an unpressurized cargo bay. They were taking no chances with me.
I took a few deep breaths of the fresh air my friends had given me, and watched the marines come through the door at a trot, weapons held ready. They must have already seen I was alone, they only sent six. I could guess what was coming, and it wasn’t going to be pleasant.
They took their time inspecting the exterior of my craft. It had me, and my skinsuit, in the cockpit. I couldn’t see the cargo hold from where I was sitting, but from the way they lingered I guessed that my fuzzy friends had put something in it. What, I had no idea. Hopefully nothing too outlandish.
I hadn’t worn an exosuit into the scooter, too expensive to waste on my final trip. I couldn’t just step outside and talk to them. The radio crackled. “N1UUX, who are you and where did you come from?”
I took a deep breath and reminded myself again that people believe what they want to believe, not reality. “I don’t know. I mean, sort of. My name is Jade. But I don’t know where I am.” I allowed some of my fear into my voice. Not fear of the past, but fear of the future, which they couldn’t know. No more I. “I was out in the scooter prospecting in the Oort Cloud. I blacked out… and woke up drifting here.”
There was silence for a long moment. The exosuited marines, their hardened armor far more bulky than anything I’d ever worn out in the rocks, withdrew a few paces. I was relieved to see their weapons were no longer pointing at me. Movement across the bay caught my eye. A small tracked vehicle – magnetic treads, from the way it moved – was steadily moving in my direction.
I didn’t have to worry, it turned out, about my air running out. They towed me through a lock, and into a maintenance bay behind the cargo area. Made sense, to be able to work on smaller craft under pressure and gravity. The marines had faded away, leaving one of their men still on guard, and a man in a skinsuit walked up and tapped on the cockpit. I obligingly opened up.