A Voyager Falls From The Sky

A Voyager Falls From The Sky

A Chapter by ShatteredUniverse

Section 6, Southern Continent, Reno | C.Y. 5364

Emma Amanthis Townsend had never been as outdone over a clock in her life as she was over the one on the wall of the garage right then.

It was maddening because she could hear what was wrong with it but couldn't do anything about it. One of the gears was slipping slightly in the clock's movement, causing it to run slow by three-tenths of a second. But the replacement parts for that particular kind of clock had been out of production for at least 700 years, since before the colonization of Reno, in fact.

The problem was the repetitive sound of that slipping gear made it impossible for her to concentrate on the task at hand -- fixing the leaky plasma flow regulator in front of her.  With each tick, the antique clock pushed her closer and closer to breakdown. It was getting to the point that not even her boss's wishes would save that clock.  So, with a sigh that veiled the screaming she’d been wanting to level at it, she pulled out her cylindrical multipurpose tool. She adjusted the tool, pointed it at the clock, and activated it. A second later, the clock exploded.

Finally! Should have done that weeks ago…

Emma turned her attention back to the flow regulator. She smiled and hummed an ancient Celtic tune as she set to figure out what was wrong with it. She placed her hand on the regulator and closed her eyes, letting her consciousness extend into the object, checking every last part"

"Got you!" She grinned.

The flow regulator had severe microfractures in the lateral junction -- microfractures more than likely caused by exposure to an unbalanced subspace field. Even one slightly out of balance could cause that kind of fracture with enough exposure. Emma made another adjustment to the tool and started repairing them.

She was about halfway through with this when something else stopped her.  A sudden bubbly exuberance not unlike that she'd felt as a teenager at times. The sensation was bubbling and popping in the core of her being, and yet it was alien to her.

Her empathy was manifesting again. 

Immediately, her perkiness took on a tinge of something dark and elusive. She concentrated on the foreign exuberance as hard as she could in response.  It was then she realized its source could only be one person. Her fourteen year-old niece, Claire, was about to burst into the garage. Emma whistled as she waited.

It wasn't ten rels before Claire ran in through the open door, the atmosphere envelope forcefield announcing her presence with a zisss.

"Em! You broke Uncle Dale's clock!"

"Yep. I broke Dale's clock…"

"I didn't think you were actually gonna do it."

At that, Emma turned. "Really?"

Claire's ruddy, freckled face slipped into a grin. "Nope," she admitted.

"So, what's up, Claire-Bear?" Emma asked.

She drummed her fingers on the workbench behind her as she saw the flaming red curls of a seven year old Claire bouncing around as she chased her around the park.  The 'girls who should have been twins', everyone called them. And Emma had to admit, Claire did look a lot like a younger version of herself, with the exception of the freckles and her own hair being a darker hue.

"Well, Aunt Miriam's talkin' serious about putting up Christmas decorations today and she's wonderin' if you're still comin' over."

"You can tell Mama I'll only be a bit. I just gotta fix this flow regulator for Mister Quinn."

Claire snickered.

"What?" Emma asked.

Claire shifted on her feet. "Nothin’…"

Emma faced the half-fixed flow regulator again. "You know, the sooner I get this fixed, the sooner I can join you and Mama at the house--"

Her ears picked up an odd sound.  "You hear that?"

She felt Claire's confusion.

"Hear what?"

"I don't know, a hummin' sound?"

Claire stood at the threshold, her brow furrowed. "Yeah, I think so."

Emma got up. "Just wanted to be sure.  Sounds like it's comin' from outside."

"Yeah…".

After standing there for a moment, Emma pushed past her niece into the wet blast furnace that was a typical summer day in Shackleford.  She listened more intently. The sound was louder outside, but she still couldn't pin it down. It was as if it came from everywhere at once.

She heard the zisss of Claire following her out through the forcefield.

"Yeah, it's from out here somewhere, all right," Claire confirmed.

But where?

She walked around, letting the sound guide -- or not guide -- her as she tried to discern the origin. Using this approach, her feet took her behind the garage. She shielded her eyes and gazed into the cobalt sky, avoiding looking directly into the huge white disc of a sun, a sun which had been known to permanently blind people after only a few seconds of direct exposure. Finally, she stopped walking and stood in place, kicking around some of the sandy ground beneath her feet. For all the humidity, her hometown was turning into a dust bowl.

The pulsing, humming sound was even louder now and fed on itself, echoing. And the louder it became, the more directional it became, to the point that she could have pointed in a general direction had someone asked.

Emma continued to scour the sky with her eyes and ears as her niece joined her in the skyward search.  Her eyes caught something, an orb of writhing violet energy rippling into existence a couple of hundred meters above the ground. What appeared to be nothing more than a common naval runabout shot out of the orb, resuming its normal proportions like a released rubber band and… just hung in place for a few seconds.

Her mouth went dry as she observed what appeared to be plasma streaming out of the shattered field transmission grilles of the two outboard drive nacelles. Worst case, it was preceding a catastrophic failure of the ship's reactor containment system.  Best case?  Whoever was in that ship was about to have a really bad day.

"What the hell is that?" Claire asked.

"Looks like a runabout.”

The orb collapsed and precipitated a shockwave and painfully loud sonic boom. An instant later, the young ladies were thrown backwards as one, hitting the ground with considerable force.  On impact, she thought she began to sizzle. 

"Ow!” Claire said.

Emma just grunted, though her tailbone complained right along with Claire. Its complaints were certainly noted.

With frightening speed, the ship shot forward, the narrow prow aimed right at them. They couldn't have gotten out of the way of it if they'd tried. And yet, right at the last moment, the nose turned up just enough to pass over them by little more than five meters. Emma grabbed Claire's hand and winced, her heart jumping into her throat all at once. 

When she realized they hadn’t been charred by superheated plasma, she craned her head and saw the ship hit. She heard the screech of tritanium hull plates tearing from the spaceframe.  She caught a glimpse of it as it slid along the ground until it was completely obscured by dust. She got up and helped Claire as soon as the screeching stopped.

"What"?" Claire demanded again.

"I still don't know…"

She started shuffling in the general direction of the crashed ship.

"Em?" Claire asked.  She didn’t answer.

"Emma!"

"It's okay, Claire-Bear…”

It took awhile since the dust had decided to hang in the air like an unwanted curtain, but then the long, narrow outline of the runabout resolved itself, becoming clearer with each step. The shattered starboard nacelle now faced them, some plasma still streaming from it.  She stopped. They could only  get so close until that stopped.

Claire's indecision finally give way to curiosity, and she ran to catch up.
When Emma was close enough, she saw lettering on the hull spelling out the ship’s name, Voyager, much as one would expect on a normal runabout but no registry number.

"You think there's anyone alive in there?" Claire asked.

Emma tried to scan the interior for any living presences but ran headlong into a wall, causing an instant headache.  She shuddered. "I can't feel anything from inside."  As far as her empathic sense was concerned, the ship was just an exterior.  Not exactly possible, but that’s the way it was.

Claire's hand went up to her mouth.

Emma narrowed her eyes.  "Did you have another dream? Did you dream about this?"

"I don't know!  It all seems familiar, but it's different.  Completely. Different.”

A pneumatic hiss made them both jump. It was the side door sliding forward in its moorings. The door slid forward and then up, and bitter smoke poured out of the opening backlit by a red flashing light.  When it did -- the very instant it was open a crack -- Emma nearly dropped to her knees because of an empathic presence that hadn't been there before.

In addition to the pain, the dust was smothering her and sweat drenched her undergarments, doing her no good since the sweat was trapped underneath her coveralls.   She unzipped the upper part of the coveralls and let it drop, exposing her soaked, purple blouse.  She tied the sleeves around her waist.

"There's definitely someone in there.  A man, I’m thinkin’." she told Claire.

Claire's reaction made Emma's heart pound.  A panic attack, perhaps?  That wasn't like her.

"I thought that’d be a good thing,” Emma said.  “At least someone’s still alive."

"That's what I was afraid of."

Emma blinked. She couldn't understand Claire's supposed fear but then, she was an empath, not a mind reader. As far as she could tell, the presence inside was anything but aggressive, more frustrated and dazed than anything.  Whatever Claire was referring to was more than likely the product of her own imagination, not budding precognitive abilities.

The smoke moved to either side as if someone were sweeping it away with their arm. She heard a bit of coughing. Then, a shape appeared in the opening, and the smoke cleared from around it revealing, indeed, a man.  He braced himself on either side with his arms. A tattered and singed black vest hung off of his once white shirt, some of the edges still smoldering.

"Look at that! I made it!" He exclaimed.  “Wherever this is…"

Emma's eyebrow slipped up. The man's accent was odd, having a slight trilling undertone she had only heard on the few holovid news and entertainment serials one had access to in Nowhere, Middle-Of.

He leaped out of the opening and landed sure in the dust.

She wanted to laugh. He didn't look like he should have been able to leap like that. He looked young enough, in his early twenties like her, but after standing there for a moment he’d started the slight sway of someone too acquainted with the taste of ralfkron.  That, and he had a number of serious-looking cuts all over,  especially notable the gash on his forehead that trailed blood down the side of his Romanesque face.

In any case, there was something different about this particular man.  Perhaps he was just one of those regens with the ability to heal rapidly from most wounds?  But it couldn’t be only that. There was something else.

As if the thought was a summons, the man ambled up to Emma. Once he was close enough, her eyes left his injuries and ruined clothes and met his. In them, she had her answer.

He stuck out his hand, a lopsided grin appearing on his face.

"Hello…”

Emma now knew what was different about the man. It was so obvious, from his black irises, she wondered how she'd missed it until he’d spoken. The man before her was a native of Terra Nova and a member of the smallest yet most storied subspecies of humanity.  It was a miracle to meet one on Reno in a lifetime.

The man standing in front of her was a Solana.


© 2011 ShatteredUniverse


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Featured Review

That was completely amazing !! I am so totally hooked on this story already. The storyline flows really well, you have given us plenty to build the characters in our minds, yet still leaving room for them to grow..

When Emma smashed the clock with her tool - I was having Dr Who flashes and cheering (love Dr Who) and I love the cheekiness that is Claire. One question - most 7 y'olds I know don't swear (tho I know there are plenty that do). Maybe its common place on Reno, but if not then maybe Emma would give her a reproving look or something.

As far as grammer goes, I couldn't see any obvious spelling errors, tho I was completely caught up in your story I may have missed them. And I am not sure if it is just me or not, but there were a number of "quotation" marks that just appeared in the writing that seemed to be completely out of place.

"This didn’t help matters much, because in addition to the pain, the dust was smothering her and sweat drenched her undergarments. This did her no good, of course, since the sweat was trapped underneath her coveralls." - for me, this was the only 'awkward' passage I found in the piece. You could simply start with, "In addition to the pain..." and maybe the second sentence, "Trapped beneath her coveralls, the wet undergarments only added to her discomfort." but is only a personal POV :)

I myself have not made any real attempt at sci-fi. The freedom to be unrestricted by reality to me I have found both a help and a hinderance, because I have to be the one to make all the rules and set the boundaries of what is and what isn't and it is harder than it appears, so kudos to you!

Loved this and looking fwd to reading more :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

DOCTOR WHO IS AMAZING.

ANYWAY

This is an AMAZING first chapter. It's got that vibe like when you're reading an actual novel. This is VERY VERY well done. I was sucked in the entire time, and I'm anxious to see what comes next!
I know, i'm not much help. But I couldnt find anything bad :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


That was completely amazing !! I am so totally hooked on this story already. The storyline flows really well, you have given us plenty to build the characters in our minds, yet still leaving room for them to grow..

When Emma smashed the clock with her tool - I was having Dr Who flashes and cheering (love Dr Who) and I love the cheekiness that is Claire. One question - most 7 y'olds I know don't swear (tho I know there are plenty that do). Maybe its common place on Reno, but if not then maybe Emma would give her a reproving look or something.

As far as grammer goes, I couldn't see any obvious spelling errors, tho I was completely caught up in your story I may have missed them. And I am not sure if it is just me or not, but there were a number of "quotation" marks that just appeared in the writing that seemed to be completely out of place.

"This didn’t help matters much, because in addition to the pain, the dust was smothering her and sweat drenched her undergarments. This did her no good, of course, since the sweat was trapped underneath her coveralls." - for me, this was the only 'awkward' passage I found in the piece. You could simply start with, "In addition to the pain..." and maybe the second sentence, "Trapped beneath her coveralls, the wet undergarments only added to her discomfort." but is only a personal POV :)

I myself have not made any real attempt at sci-fi. The freedom to be unrestricted by reality to me I have found both a help and a hinderance, because I have to be the one to make all the rules and set the boundaries of what is and what isn't and it is harder than it appears, so kudos to you!

Loved this and looking fwd to reading more :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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2 Reviews
Added on June 7, 2011
Last Updated on June 8, 2011
Tags: voyager, time machine, crash, empathy, emma, alexander, premonition, precognitive, healing, regeneration


Author

ShatteredUniverse
ShatteredUniverse

Aiken, SC



About
I'm a creative-nut who specializes in prose, primarily in the speculative fiction subgenre known as science fantasy. I also do lyrics (sometimes) and poetry (even rarer), so don't be surprised if they.. more..

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