Welcome back to my dream story!
This series is based on an odd dream I decided to turn into a short science fiction story for the blog even though I usually write fantasy. I’m not doing any beta read revisions on these, so they will read like the draft version they are. These will just be fun little shorts between other posts.
If this is your first time coming to the story, you can find earlier posts at the links below, and I’m tagging them with the Dream Journal tag if you want to search.
The Story Continues…
Velocity was deceptive beyond Earth’s atmosphere. With no scenery flashing by, my movement seemed minimal relative to the gargantuan spacecraft. The deceleration was noticeable, though. As I passed into the docking bay, a force grabbed my chutes, pulling them to the side as I plummeted toward the landing net. With loose legs, I crumpled into it, pressing flat as the net worked to halt my momentum.
A faint blue glow enveloped me as the net stretched deep into the bay. The force field did not suddenly snap back like a physical net, shooting me in the opposite direction. Instead, it eased gradually into a neutral position and activated the “sticky” property to maintain a slight pull toward the net.
I hit the button to start retracting the ascent chutes while the net was still rising. By the time I could stand, everything was away and I was ready to proceed. The net anticipated my actions. Each time I raised my foot, the net illuminated a step in the right direction with the same soft blue glow. The sixty seconds between each lift takeoff allowed enough time for these landings.
“Welcome Bitsa,” Flash greeted me as I passed through the airlock.
Flash was Tryss’s second-in-command. He was 5′ 2″ with dual citizenship in Korea and Norway, and he had a lean build that was all muscle, maintained from his days as a university gymnast. Flash’s real talent, though, was in programming. He could hack, counter-hack (I’m pretty sure that is a thing), and finesse systems faster than most anyone. It’s why he picked his call name, “Flash.”
Mine is Bitsa. My brothers used to joke about how I was always messing around with “bitsa this and bitsa that.” I took apart more of their tools and toys over the years than any of us remember. It was no surprise when I went into engineering, and I thought it was fun to turn that family saying into my call name when I could finally select one for myself.
“Thanks, Flash,” I replied. “Are we still clearing this spire?”
He nodded. “About half-done, so we are ahead of schedule. Take Lima-group as planned, and I’m still sending the new kid your way when he drops.”
My previous robotics partner was recently promoted out of the squad, so our latest addition was assigned to me more often than not.
I smirked at Flash’s tone. “Yes, sir.”
Grabbing a charged energy pistol from the bay armory, I headed toward lima-group.
Each spire had the same layout, with sections spiraling from the tip toward the join alphabetically. The sections each consisted of ten floors laid out in alphanumeric grids. Our docking bay was in golf-group, which meant I had four sections to travel to reach Lima.
The hallways lit up in anticipation of my presence and darkened behind me as I passed. The soft light might be easy on my eyes, but it was very sterile. When the manned mission staffed up, the walls and ceilings would show images of stained glass, murals, and other art to lighten the austere atmosphere. All of those extras were not operational for our little repair visit. I only saw a soft white light and silver-grey paneling.
As this spire would be our initial base of operations, my current task was to clear lima-group room by room, looking for anomalies. If there were any glitches here, we could focus on those closest to us first. We were not expecting any. So far, all issues noted by ground operators were in the sphere, but our orders were to take no chances.
Arriving at lima-group, I used the lift to start on the top floor. I stepped into each room to activate the automation and took measurements of all life-support controlled factors. It was tedious, boring, rote, repetitive…and I ran out of synonyms before I ran out of rooms to step into and out.
“Bitsa,” Flash’s voice came over the comms, “Juicy has dropped. What’s your twenty?”
I stepped out to confirm based on the hall signage.
“Copy Flash. I’m at Lima, floor three, grid papa-zero-eight, moving in alpha vector.”
“Copy, Bitsa. Juicy incoming.”
I could hear Juicy’s groaning sigh in my head, and I grinned to myself. He hated our team’s probationary name more than most. It would be about five minutes before he arrived, and I was not going to extend this lovely assignment by waiting around.
Door…Open door? My pulse jumped.
Not creepy at all…
I tilted my head and looked at the crack in the doorway at the end of this hallway. Lights flickered beyond as the automation triggered them in anticipation of my entrance, but I stopped short.
“Flash, Bitsa here.”
“Hold, Bitsa, drop in progress,” Flash replied to my call, so I waited.
The wait was no more than thirty seconds. “Bitsa, go.”
“I have a glitch at Quebec-one-zero” I reported. “Manual door with an automated lock is open with lights in the area flickering.”
“Copy, Bitsa. Mark on our map and proceed with a preliminary investigation.”
“Understood.” I marked the location on my HUD and looked at the door.
My pulse kicked up further, and a shiver went down my spine. It was just a door and some malfunctioning lights. This was no big deal. Right?
I closed my eyes and silently cursed Big Ben, my eldest brother, for making me watch that sci-fi horror movie with him the day before this mission. Abandoned spacecraft? Check. Flickering lights? Check. Monster, alien, ghost, or psychopathic crazy person jumping out to kill me? I really hoped not.
I’m a rational person. There is no way my heart would be pounding like this if the movie had not put such thoughts in my head. It was just a glitch, a malfunction. I could handle a glitch. I could fix a malfunction.
Taking a deep, calming breath, then another, I did a little body shake to settle my nerves and reached for the handle.