Confront a monster that no-one believes exists.
Read chapter one of this stunning sci-fi horror below…
The salvage Tug shuddered. Sirens wailed penetrating the sleep induced by the stasis quo-fields. Zoë blinked, sluggish. The alarm meant only one thing; their passage within the Rösenbridge was lost and they were hurtling blindly through the vacuum of space.
Zoë was the first to clamber from her pod and stagger to the bridge. She reached a console and keyed in her codes. For a moment the screen remained blank, then text and telemetry scrolled across.
She sensed movement beside her in the gloom.
“What’s up?” Dezza asked in a calm twang that never betrayed emotion.
“Core collapse,” she said, jabbing at buttons. “It’s jumped us out of the Rösenbridge short again.”
“Shit. I thought Tubs swore blind he fixed that.”
“Obviously not well enough.”
He tapped away on the adjacent console activating the holographic display. In any failed Rösenbridge jump, they risked blundering into other ships, planets, stars and moons with fatal results. Space might be infinite and almost empty, but Fate had a habit of testing the reflexes of the unwary.
Static crackled and the computer updated the projected image of what lay outside the hull. An arc of grey became an arc of blue shimmering in the air. With agonising slowness the computer decided that there was nothing of immediate harm and the readouts stopped their garish flashing.
Zoë shook her head grimly and keyed off the alarms. “It’s only so long before Lady Luck stops seeing herself clear to keep us from hitting a star. That could have been close.”
“It’s always close. I’ll see what Tubs has to say for himself.”
* * *
Tubs lay on an inspection trolley, grappling with the underside of the console panel. Wires stretched out loose either side of him. He studiously ignored the mess to soldier on with careful laser-pen work inside the tangle of electronics.
Dezza leant on the railing, watching him with strained patience. “How long before the core is back online?”
“Just a few hours,” Tubs replied, muffled from beneath the panel, “I’m not sure why it croaked this time anyway. It should have held until we could get to dock and have it refurbed.”
Dezza held his composure. It was not the first time the tugship had dropped from the Rösenbridge short. For the last two months it had become an increasingly regular occurrence, and one which had become tedious fast. The ship’s drive core was old and frail. There were only so many times that ancient electronics could be patched back together. Tubs might be a miracle worker, but eventually even miracles disappoint.
Dezza’s communicator buzzed, and for a moment he felt relief that something would break the boredom of this unforeseen stop in deep space.
Zoë’s business-like voice answered, sounding tinny through the old electronics. “Have you checked the scopes?”
He frowned. Something was not quite right.
“No,” he snapped.
“This one’s the longest yet. According to the navigation sweep, we’re not even at the further colonies. The damn core popped us out more than forty days short.”
“Forty days? Shit!”
He glared down at Tubs’ feet, but the mechanic was oblivious and the gentle buzz of the laser pen drifted from beyond the pair of wriggling legs.
“That’s not the only thing,” interrupted Zoë.
He heard the concern in her voice. Tubs’ work was forgotten and he listened hard.
“The sweep picked up something else. About an hour’s jag away on the ion drive, we’ve got a ship floating dead.”
“Have you tried to get them on the Comm?” he asked.
“There’s no answer. You had both better come to the bridge.
If that ship is what I think it is, this drop might just be the break we’re looking for.”