"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, December 25, 2011

BEAST, Part 3

Merry Christmas and Happy Channukah to all of my readers! Today, with the help of my friend, author Tony Healey, I offer the final installment of your Holiday treat. So, before you begin racing to visit your in-laws, relax for a moment with your cup of chai and enjoy part three of our sci-fi adventure. (Pssst, if you missed parts one and two, scroll down. You'll find the links in the column to the left.)
Just a friendly reminder, some of the situations and language in BEAST are not what all of my readers expect of my blog, but I choose not to censor Tony's story. You've been warned.
BEAST is a preview of the forthcoming novel THE STARS MY REDEMPTION due out at the beginning of 2012.
If you like what you read here, then please leave a review on BEAST’s Amazon page here: BEAST
If you leave a review I will gift you the full novel for FREE when it becomes available. So simply leave your review and I will make sure you get it.
Tony Healey


Abe sparked a welding torch so that he could see in the pitch black, and walked back to the reactor. Squatting down, he cut through several of the coolant control pipes, and then turned the torch on the pressure control panel. He heard the whine of the reactor as it already started to overheat from insufficient coolant.

If the Draxx came into the engine room and discovered how he had sabotaged the ship, they wouldn’t have the time to fix the pipes, nor would they be able to shut down the reactor since he had destroyed the control panel. In case they tried to disable it manually, he also welded the emergency levers so that they couldn’t be turned. He had locked the ship into a cycle of overload, and it was so simple. The ship would explode once the reactor reached critical temperature.

It wouldn’t take long.

He listened for noise outside the engine room entrance before venturing outside and climbing the ladder to the main corridor. There were no Draxx about; none patrolling.

They’re confident they have everyone locked up, he thought.

Red emergency lighting flashed in his eyes and there was the low wail of the klaxons that the Draxx hadn’t silenced.

He padded silently along the corridor, making his way to the aft of the ship. He was passing the crew’s quarters when he heard a thump come from one of them. The door was locked. He forced it open with his robotic arm; the door mechanisms straining to keep it locked shut. He saw Lorna on the floor, hugging her knees. It was her quarters, then.

She was screaming at him as he walked in and pulled her to her feet.

"Come!" he growled at her.

She stopped screaming.

"Come!" he said again, dragging her with him out into the corridor.

"Where are the others?" she asked him.

"Locked up in the officer’s mess."

"Oh God..." She said, clinging to him as they walked. She was terrified.

They came to the intersection that would take them to the left, to the mess room, the gym, and the medical bays, and to the right which led down to the hangar deck. He paused at the corner. Lorna went to press ahead, not paying attention, and he shoved her back. When she looked up at him he had one finger up to his lips. Peering back around the corner he saw a Draxx foot soldier pulling apart a wall panel, throwing wires and circuitry everywhere.

It was at least eight feet tall, with a long snout filled with small but sharp teeth. Its thick tail swished from side to side, as it tore at the wall panel with its clawed hands. It had brown armour about its chest, and a belt with daggers and a pistol attached to it. Abe could tell it was preoccupied and ignorant of the fact that there were humans still roaming the ship. He left Lorna cowering around the corner and crept out behind the reptile. As he got less than three feet away, the Draxx seemed to sense him because it paused what it was doing and started to turn.

He wasted no time. Abe leapt on it, wrapping his mechanical arm about its neck. With his other arm he reached for the pistol on the reptile’s belt. The Draxx bucked and tried to toss him off, turning in circles and screaming with a hair-raising roar. It was trying to get at him with its claws, and Abe knew that if it did, the thing would probably tear him to bits. He pulled the pistol free of the belt and jabbed it into the Draxx’s side.

He fired.

An eruption of clear fluid and yellow flesh flew from the creatures torso, splatting up the wall. He fired again and again until it dropped to the floor. He climbed up off of it, stood, and as it convulsed on the floor, he fired at its twitching body once more.

Abe went and took Lorna by the arm. She was shivering and shocked. He looked left, as far as he could see up the hallway. There was no movement. He checked the way to the hangar deck. It was clear.

He went right, dragging Lorna along with him.

“That... that... thing...” Lorna was muttering.

“A Draxx,” Abe said, pulling her with him. “Don’t worry about it. It’s dead now.”

Lorna was looking down at it as he pulled her past it. In her slightly dazed state she was starting to realize where he was leading her.

"Where are we going?" Lorna asked him.

"To the lifeboat. We're getting off this ship," he said.

He made her move quickly down the ladder that led to the hangar. There was another way of getting to the lifeboat, but it meant using the main entrance and he didn't want to expose himself like that if there were Draxx in the hangar bay. He climbed down after her, the two of them reaching the floor of the hangar behind several large cargo containers. He peeked around one of them, and looked across the hangar. It was empty. He didn't know what the Draxx were after, but they weren't looking for it this end of the ship. It wasn’t cargo they were after.

The lifeboat was in the middle of the hangar. It was a large saucer shape, with a pointed front, and a cluster of small engines at the back.

"Up!" he said to Lorna, lifting her up from the floor by her arm and dragging her out to the lifeboat. He accessed the controls to the entrance and stood back as it slid open. He shoved Lorna inside first and then climbed in himself.

Abe watched the entrance hatch close automatically behind them and then he mounted the flight controls.

Inside the ship there were places for up to twelve people. Lorna sat down in one of the seats and buckled herself in. As Abe started the engines, she said behind him “I thought you were saving the others, not leaving them there.”

He said nothing.

Abe accessed the hangar controls, opening the bay doors and exposing the hangar to the vacuum of space. A rush of escaping atmosphere from inside the hangar flew past the front viewport like mist, sucked out. Abe brought the engines online, and pushing a lever the lifeboat slid forward through the hangar bay doors and out into space.

"Why have you left them behind?" she asked him.

He ignored her. They left the Royale behind.

"We have to go back for them!" she shouted at him.

When they’d come a safe distance from the Royale, he cut the engines and spun them about so they were looking back at the ship, and at the large spherical Draxx ship hanging from it like a tumor. Seconds later there was a bright white flash, the explosion consuming the Draxx vessel as well. The lifeboat was rocked by the resultant shockwave, the overhead lights flickering.

"You’re a monster..." Lorna said, although he suspected that she was not as sad about her companion’s deaths as she was making out. He sensed her relief at having survived, despite the fact he had left the others to die.

Abe shrugged.

He’d been called a monster before.

“Look, love, there was no way we could rescue the others. The ship was overrun. And I wasn’t risking my skin even trying.”

Lorna nodded.

“So you would have left me as well,” she said.

Abe grinned at her.

“Don’t matter, does it? Found yuh so no need to grumble,” he said.

There was a moment of silence between them.

“Now what?” she asked him, slumping back in her chair.

“A planet called Ractor Prime in the Alpha-Nimoy system, about three week’s journey from here. We might just have enough rations and fuel to get us there… if we’re lucky,” he said.

Lorna rolled her eyes.

“Three weeks!”

Just a spoiled brat like the rest of them, he thought. I knew her concern for the others was just an act.

“I can’t believe I’m trapped in this tin can with you for three whole fucking weeks!” she said, releasing herself from the safety harness around her seat and standing up.

Abe remembered Lorna standing with the others in the officer’s mess as the footage played of him grunting on top of her. She had stood there, laughing with them. Laughing at him. Her mutual affection towards him as he had nailed her had seemed so genuine.

He stood up. Lorna watched, startled, as Abe started to unbuckle his trousers. He had a considerable appetite, and food would not abate it, as Lorna would come to realise.

Tony Healey hails from the UK. His first novel, The Stars My Redemption, featuring the main character from BEAST (and an engineer named Laurie), will be available on Amazon in early 2012. His short story, "Redd," which also centers on the main character from "Beast," appears in the anthology, Kindle All-Stars Presents: Resistance Front which is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for the amazing low price of 99 cents (about 86p). All proceeds from Resistance Front will be donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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