ADSactly Sci-Fi : Outer Earth Series 'The One Eyed Man (Part 8)'
Hello Steemians. For those just catching up now... Are you just like me, hopelessly addicted to Sci-Fi stories and the many wonderful series shows available on Netflix?
Have you ever seen shows like Firefly, The Expanse, Dark Matter, Killjoys, Star Trek Discovery and the rest?
Well, we've got more in common than ever! I've only briefly played around in this genre and by no means can I consider myself a master sci-fi creative writer but at this point I feel like I have a pretty firm grasp of the fundamentals required to create a real sci fi experience. An immersion into another world. With deep characters, comedy and action sequences I will take my readers to another world.
Without further delay, I bring you the latest chapter submission in a new sci-fi novel I've been working on. Most of the final details in the storyline have been outlined so far but there's still time to add in new elements, situations and characters... Any ideas you have will be greatly appreciated in the comments section below!
If you are just now tuning in, I recommend stopping right here and reading the previous chapter submissions of the story before continuing on:
Now I give you 'The One Eyed Man (Part 8)'
Outer Earth Series – The One Eyed Man (Part 8)
Albright awoke to a very metallic sounding woman’s voice chiming off “stasis chamber deactivated, please proceed to your assigned mess hall for fluid rehydration and meal replenishment.”
His eyes slowly opened. Albright’s body was cold and stiff. The door of the stasis pod had swung open, assisted by a hydraulic hinge. Wearily he sat up and then lifted his body out of the pod.
After unlocking his storage compartment he did a quick check to make sure everything was still there as he had left it.
Well, he thought to himself, everything seemed to be in order. It took him a few minutes to get dressed and walk outside the large stasis pod bay where he had just hibernated over the past three days.
The corridor’s green arrows lit up on the LED displays directing him to the mess hall. His body was ice cold, coming out of stasis was never the most pleasant experience but sadly it was still a necessary circumstance when travelling at faster than light speeds.
Even though two days doesn’t seem like much, just to put things in perspective, the Earth is only about 8.16 light minutes from its Sol so you can only imagine how far vessels such as the one Albright had booked passage on could get in a few days.
The ship would soon be docking at Deltia outpost and Albright was absolutely famished. His throat felt as dry as the Sahara desert and his stomach rumbled in anticipation of a hot meal.
He realized the mess wasn’t too much to look at. It had the usual appliances and amenities. A food synthesizer, a beverage synthesizer and an area with basic stainless steel dishes and utensils, a bar with barstools, pretty much what you’d expect from a vessel like this one.
The room was brightly lit with artificial light. There were six rectangular shaped rounded tables with chairs and an area with two sofas placed opposite each other. Other guests were slowly arriving.
Albright rushed over to the food synthesizer and ordered up a Tarlaxian delicacy consisting of stewed meander (an animal native to the Tarlaxian home world that sort of looked like a kangaroo), crushed root vegetables and legumes. With a hearty bowl of stew in hand he scrambled over to the beverage synthesizer and ordered up a mimosa and a tall mug of black coffee.
After busily wolfing down his Tarlaxian stew, he pulled out his tablet and spent some time re-examining the data he had received from Mork regarding Derek’s last known movements on Tremaine while a bit of meander and gravy dribbled down his chin.
Tables were filling up quickly. Albright paused for a brief moment to scan the room. It was a pretty diverse group of travelers.
He observed well to do colonists of different races chatting about sports or politics drinking cocktails, families huddled around tables discussing plans of action once they reach their new homeworlds and other interesting types but there was one person in particular who caught his eye. He squinted for a few moments before it hit him. No, it couldn’t be… Could it?
Yes, Albright was absolutely sure of it now. He was looking at his old friend Brag. Just the sight of him brought back a flood of memories of his past life, a life he had worked pretty damn hard to forget. Albright and Brag had served together in a special elite Black Ops squad organized by the Triad Imperial Guard several years ago.
The squad did the type of dirty work that would turn a normal soldier’s conscience right upside down. They had wiped out entire villages of colonists, burned down entire neighborhoods and left a trail of death and destruction across a handful of worlds. But Brag, well he was a decent guy as far as Albright was concerned.
He remembered one job in particular where Brag really saved his ass. It was late at night and the squad was clearing one last mining colony warehouse before packing it in for the night. It was your typical search and destroy mission and they had already fragged at least twenty to thirty civilians. An uprising required the Triad to send a message and the squad had been instructed to kill on sight. Albright was dressed in all black combat armor holding a multiphasic pulse rifle in one hand and a stun grenade in the other.
After stepping through a doorway he heard a clicking sound followed by beeping noise which sounded like an activation of sorts, he looked down and saw to his dismay he had just stepped on a plasma mine that had been planted under some old newspaper.
Brag knew Albright was in deep shit instantly and began a hail mary charge towards Albright. In proper professional wrestling fashion he tackled Albright and send him flying several meters.
After the explosion he found Brag lying unconscious next to him with severe burns across his neck, shoulders and back. He knew at that moment Brag had literally saved his life and that if he ever had the opportunity to repay him, he resolved to take it in a heartbeat. And here he was, right in front of him.
Brag was sitting a few tables away ferociously feeding on a large leg of lamb. He ate like a bloody animal with bits of meat falling on his shirt and juice dripping down his chin. Apparently he hadn’t noticed Albright in the slightest.
Sometimes stasis could do that to the brain. It had a way of putting you into a sort of foggy haze for a while and it took different people varying amounts of time to properly come out of it.
Albright stood up and walked over to where Brag was sitting.
“Brag you old perv, how the hell have ya been?”
Brag put down the lamb leg and looked up. He gazed upon Albright with eyes of stone and a stern look on his face. He sat there quietly for a moment.
“Albright! You’re a bloody sight for sore eyes. Have a seat mate!”
Brag reached out his hand, Albright grasped it firmly for a few moments. Albright pulled out the chair across from Brag and collapsed into it. The two examined each other briefly as if they were both conducting a terrorist threat assessment.
Brag was as solid as a rock with huge arms, broad shoulders and a bulging chest. On top of his thick turkey neck sat a shiny bald head with large greyish brown eyes and a thick grey beard. He wore a brown V-neck t-shirt and white tracksuit pants.
In Brag’s mind Albright wasn’t a bad bloke. Years ago he had met the guy on their first day of advanced training and they got along pretty well right from the start. They both enjoyed telling profane stories, which usually including the odd hooker or someone getting their head blown off.
He knew Albright had grown up as an orphan and had to fight and claw his way out of wretched circumstances. The guy was a self-starter who worked himself to the bone to get a leg up in life. Life on the outer colonies changed a man. Opportunities were few and far between and if you wanted to live a comfortable life with the credits to go with it, well, usually you had to cut some corners, evade the powers that be, sell a few drugs or get your hands bloody.
Brag hadn’t had it as hard as Albright but he didn’t grow up on easy street either. He came from a dysfunctional family, destitute with a couple of alcoholics for parents. What he knew, he had taught himself and he knew quite a bit. He was both loyal and extremely lethal.
“So Albright, tell me, what kind of shitstorm have you gotten yourself into now?” Brag beamed at him.
Albright cleared his throat, thoughts raced through his mind in a split second, could Brag know anything about his mission? Impossible, it had to have just been a coincidence.
“Well Brag. I’ve had a few ups and downs, a couple minor setbacks at work. I picked up a few new scars and shagged the odd bird or two since we last parted ways but yah, overall things seem to be looking up at the moment. I’m on my way to Tremaine to sort out some quick business. After I’m done with that I plan to treat myself to a little holiday on Risa. But enough about me, it’s been ages, what about you mate?”
Brag followed every word tracking Albright’s facial expressions and taking note of his tone. It was an old habit but one that had proved useful on several occasions. He knew Albright had been a smooth talker on occasion and was more often than not known to be completely full of shit but as far as he could tell, he was the same old Albright, his mate, the guy hadn’t changed one bit.
“You dirty scoundrel! That sounds absolutely lovely.” Brag paused for a brief moment. “Well, not much to say really, I just closed a contract out for a job on Delirium. Turns out some silly accountant in a fancy corporate office thought he could pull a fast one and embezzle funds from one of the Triad casinos there. What a knob head! He was a real tough son of a bitch too. You know the bloody bastard survived two weeks of torture before he finally gave in and died. I’m talking missing limbs, disembowelment, electrocution, waterboarding, the works. What a freakin mess. Triad likes to set an example out of guys like him. Easy credits mate.”
Albright sighed and looked up at Brag. “Guys like us get chewed up and spit out eventually. One shitty job after the next until one day our number finally gets called. They say that somedays even the sun shines on a dog’s ass. Mine is as cold as ice, I’m still waiting for that day. I remember a time when the women were twice as pretty and the credits were four times easier to come by. When can guys like us ever catch a break?”
Brag gave Albright a very stern look, he then coughed into his hand and took a deep breath.
“Albright mate, you’re looking at things all wrong. Any joy you feel in this life, even a single moment of happiness, well that was a moment you got ahead. From the day we were born the universe saw fit to give us to a life, just a life, nothing more and nothing less. We came into this world dealt the hand of cards we were given, some had a royal flush, others were left with nothing. You and me mate, we were pretty much dealt the latter. So what did we do? We bluffed. Fake it until you make it brother. That’s the key to salvation. Smiles and cries. That’s life for you in a nutshell.”
It was like a huge weight had been lifted from Albright’s shoulders. Brag had a real way with words. The mounting tension of the looming task ahead, the baggage he carried with him from failed jobs, failed relationships and the pain and suffering of his troubled past. It was as if Brag had taken his big meaty hand and just swung it all off the table.
Albright sat a moment in silence pondering what Brag had just said.
“Brag, the people that have given me my most recent contract are the worst kind of people. The task I’ve been given is to hunt down a man and retrieve some sort of cargo of which hasn’t been made clear. I don’t have much time to complete this job before the corporation that has hired me decides to take me out of commission and replace me with someone they feel is more competent. The bottom line is that I’m in deep shit I could really use your help. I’ve already run through the credits advanced to me but would be more than happy to cut you in after the job’s completed assuming I can get out of this whole mess alive. What do you think?”
Albright had just laid his cards on the table. Clearly he had doubts about the mission and held Brag in extremely high regard. After all, if it wasn’t for Brag, he wouldn’t be sitting here at this very table chatting about old times. He would be a ghost, a forgotten ghost without even a handful of souls in the galaxy that even gave a flying flerk he was gone.
“Alright. I had a feeling you had gotten yourself into a bit of a shit pickle. I’d like to help you but I only work solo these days and to be frank, based on what you’ve told me about your employer I’d say that you’d be much better off closing this job out quickly and quietly. If your target is on Tremaine the first thing you’ll want to do is blend in.” Brag cleared his throat.
“Don’t draw any attention to yourself. Set up your surveillance systems and lay low. Let the fly make its way right into your web. The cargo may have been sold by now for all you know but you’ll need to figure out what you’re looking for before capturing the target. The best I can do is give you a name of a contact I’ve got on Tremaine. My guy knows his way around and has spies everywhere. Don’t give him too many details or it may be weaponized against you. Information always has a way of travelling to the highest bidder.”
He then swiped his hand left and a beam of light was emitted from his wrist. He poked a few details into the holographic display and then pinched his fingers together. The display disappeared. Albright’s neural implant was now flashing inside his retina, the red message indicator displayed contact information for Brag’s informant. Well, honestly he had hoped Brag would offer to lend a hand but surely this had to be better than a kick in the arse.
“Brag, you never cease to amaze me. It seems like I just keep stacking the favors I owe you up like a pile of newspapers. I don’t know how I can ever repay you mate.”
Brag grinned. “Just stay out of trouble, try to make it to a ripe old age and knock a girl or two up. You’re a decent bloke. I figure if there were more guys like you in the galaxy, well then, I guess we wouldn’t have to live in such a shithole.”
At this point the mess hall had pretty much cleared out. Travelers were waiting in the forward lounge as the ship would be docking any minute now. Albright stood up and walked over to Brag’s side of the table. Brag stood up and the two shook hands for a moment. Even though Brag had been unwilling to help Albright out on this mission the man still clearly held him in high regard and wanted to see him win.
The two men made their way through the airlocks and onto Deltia station.
They simply said their goodbyes and went their separate ways. Albright sort of wondered if he’d ever even see Brag again but it was just a passing thought as his mind was already deeply preoccupied with meeting Claire and hunting down Derek.
This chapter has a lot to chew on. Best practices for appropriate space travel. The nature of travelling at lightspeeds and need to enter stasis to endure it. Albright's favorite foods and beverages and a bit more about his backstory as it relates to his long time mate, Brag.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter and are eager to see what type of chemistry Albright and Claire manage to create on Deltia station. One area I feel may need improvement is the amount of action presented up until this point.
However I do remember reading books that had very little action at the beginning but rather just mounting tension. We know something big is going to happen but it just hasn't happened yet! Wait for it!
Thanks so much for reading. As always, your feedback is welcomed and greatly appreciated.
Authored by: Zentalk
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