NaNoWriMo Day 13: Fleshing Out

Posted: November 13, 2011 in National Novel Writing Month, sci fi
Tags: , , , ,

I decided to go back and revisit a scene that I had glossed over before, and expand “The Battle of the Eraser”. Here’s how it ends:

 

“Sarge, I -” Tilu began. Setetenepini heard a soft pop. When she turned to look, Tilu’s exo stood still, like a statue. Well, she thought grimly, with the transport gone, this was gonna be a one way trip any way. She still had to fight back a tremor or six.

An alarm blared. A different one than before, different from all the other bells and whistles that were going off all over the place. A section of wall slid away, and was replaced by the deep blackness of space. Some sort of force field was holding the atmosphere in; there was no whoosh of escaping air, no irresistible wind blowing anyone toward the opening. All the same, the icosahedron began, slowly, methodically, to drift.

“They’re launching it! They’re launching -” Pili yelled, and was silenced, somehow. And, just like that, it dawned on Setetenepini just what the “it” was.

The Eraser.

Launched at Shield of Faith base.

She ran after it, turning behind to fire off shots.

 What am I gonna do with it when I catch the damn thing? she thought.

Pound on it with the butt end of her rifle out of sheer desperation, naturally. It rippled and pinged, made gurgling sounds. She fired into it. The surface darkened where the beam hit it. She tried to push her hands into it, to grab hold of something. She had the queasy sensation of feeling her hands growing ever longer, thinning, spreading out. Still, the Eraser lazily drifted.

Why am I not being shot at? Setetenepini wondered. She glanced back. No one was stirring.

More to the point, nothing else, save her and the Eraser, was moving. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a small shape. It was a rail pellet. It hung motionless beside her. Over there, a soldier without an exo was frozen, gruesomely, in mid pop. Here, one of her squad was in a perfect action posture, running after her.

 I think this thing’s gone off, Setetenepini thought. She tried to dig her boots into the metal deck below her feet. Tried to wrestle the nothingness that was the Eraser to a stop. Positioned herself between it and the opening to space. She looked down at one of the rippling metal sides. It was splitting, tearing, in slow motion. Whatever was keeping it together, was failing.

She stared into it. As she watched, she saw her squad come aboard the Power of the Duality. She saw the transport torn apart by a rail gun. She saw the Shield of Faith base this morning, yesterday, tomorrow. She saw Tilu, shot and killed, and at the same  time, alive and pinned with a medal for bravery, made a general. She saw all the faces of those she’d watch die, die again, then not die. She began to see…

Everything,

Everywhere,

Every when.  All at once. It was glorious, beautiful.

The Power of the Duality faded around her. It doesn’t matter, she thought, serenely. Was that what she felt? Yes, serene. So, I’m dying. I didn’t think it’d be like this. Kind of a nice surprise, actually.  What’s that they say? Right as you die, your brain releases the biggest amount of dopamines it ever will into your blood? I suppose it does, doesn’t it? There was an impossible riot of color and sound, that became silent black.

 

Setetenepini floated in her exo. Gradually she became aware of the fact that she was breathing. Her eyes adjusted to the darkness, and soon she was able to make out faint pinpricks of light. She was on the night side, she realized, and was looking down at Tangeet.

So. Not dead, she thought. She checked to see if her radio worked. “Tangeet Base Shield of Faith, this is sergeant Setetenepini, please come in, over.” There was silence, a bit longer than would be normal for radio lag at this distance. Then:

“Sergeant Setetenepini. You are in restricted space. You are hereby ordered to vacate this area soonest. Over.”

“I know this is restricted space, Shield of Faith. Check my clearance. Over.”

There was another over-long pause. “No clearance for a Setetenepini, sergeant or otherwise. No Setetenepini assigned to this base, sergeant or otherwise.” There was another, much shorter pause, then the voice added, “No Setetenepini in Divine Military service, sergeant or otherwise. Over.”

“That’s not right, Shield of Faith. I was with the attack that went out this morning to board Power of the Duality. Which appears to have been destroyed. Over.”

The pause, then:

“No attacks were launched from this base, this morning or otherwise. Are you trying to infer that there is a war of some sort occurring? Over.”

“I am not inferring. I have been fighting in the war against the Heretics since my first posting, I have done two tours of duty. What the hell are you smoking down there? Over.”

After the pause, there was a different voice on the radio. “This is Captain Kiseritelere. We don’t detect a vessel at your co-ords. What are you piloting? Over.”

“I am piloting a Yan Co Heavy Industries model R 8 exo, mark III, Captain. Over.”

“What the hell are you doing in an exo, sergeant?” came the time dilated astonished reply.

Setetenepini was seized by the imp of the inappropriate. “Floating aimlessly, ma’am, and running out of O2, ma’am. Over.”

“Sending a shuttle to your co-ords soonest. Can you send us a link to your vitals, so we know how long til you freeze-dry? Over.”

Setetenepini touched some buttons on her wrist, then nodded in satisfaction. “Link established, ma’am. I’ll be here when you get here, with bells on.Over.”

 

 

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved

 

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