Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 10

An hour later, the kids slide to the floor. The soldiers remain on guard but the emergency ship was already cutting into the hall. For some reason, the animals hadn’t tried to attack.

“Time?”

“A few more minutes are left before they can establish a secure connection.”

“And still no movement from the creatures?”

“No. They are keeping back. Not sure why.”

“I can’t believe we made it,” Blue says as she kneels next to Blades.

“I can’t believe none of us died.”

“You complaining?” Sparky says with a laugh.

“Not at all. Not at all.” Blade chuckles then wince.

“Your bandages giving your problems?”

“Nah. Regeneration is a pain. That’s all.”

“At least you can repair yourself.”

“True but getting ripped in half is not fun.”

A clank of metal falls to the floor. Men in armored suits and carrying large rifles file out. Immediately they form a defensive live with the entrance at the center.

“Jenna Leese and Micah Stornbor.” The medical man says with a smile, “I am glad that both of you are alive. Please come with us.”

All three teens step forward but the man raises a hand, “No. Not you.” He points towards Sparky, “Only humans are being evacuated. You must remain on board.”

“What? What do you mean I have to stay on board?”

“It is protocol. Specimens can’t leave the research facility in which they were created unless authorization is given. I’m sorry. Jenna. Micah. Let’s go.

“Wait. No no no no.” Micah shakes head, “All three of us or none of us. That was the deal we made. So she comes.”

“No, she doesn’t. Look. She is not a human and we need to go.”

“What?”

“What?”

“What?”

“She isn’t human. This isn’t a discussion. He snaps his fingers and two more medical officers step out, “You’ve been through a lot and we have a lot of questions but we need to go. Now.”

“Not without Sparky?”

“Who?”

“Me!” The girl says, her arms flaring slightly with orange light.

“No. No. She isn’t human so she can’t come. The security units will protect her. She’ll be fine.”

All three teens give him withering stares.

“We’ve seen your security teams.” Blades growls, “They suck.”

“Thank you for your critique. But I must insist that we debate. Emergency docking is not something we can hold for very long.”

“Then you run along.” Blue snaps, “We’re staying.”

“No, you are not. Your parents are worried about you.”

“What about her parents? Aren’t they worried?”

“No!” The man stamps his foot, “Don’t you get it yet? She. Is. Not. Human. We created her to figure out why this world was going through such rapid mutations. Mutations that are stable. We needed a host to test. That’s her. Her own biological donors gave her, it, to us for science advancement. Haven’t you realized it?”

“I’m human!”

“Haven’t you wondered why her memory hasn’t come back yet? Why her records aren’t there with the passenger logs? Go look under the specimen lists. You’ll find her there.”

Sparky steps back, tears in her eyes. “Please no. I don’t want to die.”

“Jenna. Micah. Come with us.”

“Sir.” A guard calls out, “We have movement coming towards us. At least a dozen.”

“Then let’s go.” Blades says as he grabs Sparky’s hand, “All of us.”

“Yes. All the humans.” Blue grans Sparky’s other hand.

“I can’t! She’s not human and only humans can go.”

“She feels pain. Fear. Talks. Has likes and dislikes. Opinions. Hopes. Everything that a human has, she does.”

“And a nice right hook.”

“Now? Really?”

“It doesn’t matter. She isn’t human because we have said so. Now come on!”

“They’re closing in, sir! We need to leave now.”

“No one has to die.”

“Where are your guards?” Blade snarls, “Those robot guards that are supposed to watch her? They aren’t here and even if they are, ten of them can barely handle one of those lizard-things. And there are dozen heading towards us. She won’t survive.”

“Than that is fate.”

“But you can save her!” Blue begs, “Please. Save her. Save us.”

“No! Tranq them!”

At once the two medical personal fire into the trio. All three slump to the ground with a thud. He shakes his head.

“Get them on board. Now. Soldiers. We’re leaving.”

“What about her?”

“Procedure says all experimental specimens must remain on board. Seal her up but she does not come with us.”

“Did the other teams get the data?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

The soldiers carry Blue and Bones onboard. From the storage section, they carry a large capsule back into the research ship. They place Sparky on board and seal it. Tapping into the computer network, they assign the custodial staff to secure the child.

Together, the soldiers reseal the hole and break away form the hull of the ship.

X

“Doctor?”

“Yes.”

“The children have been recovered.”

“Excellent. And the test subject?”

“It remains onboard and secured in a capsule.”

“And the creatures?”

“They are still in full force. Stage three is set to begin now.”

“Excellent. And no one knows?”

“No one. Not even the digital records will reveal the truth.”

“How did you manage that anyway?”

“By deleting critical systems and program cores, it forced the recovery teams to do a full system reset. Which erased all digital evidence.”

“Well done.” He temples his fingers, “And now we shall see if our subject can survive insertion into a hostile environment.”

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Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 09

Sparky moves as quickly as her tired legs can manage. Four soldiers keep the kids in the middle of them. The remaining soldiers move ahead, keeping them aware of any potential threats. Although nothing has attacked them, the sounds of the creatures are loud and clear.

“Stop here.” The commander calls out, “If you need water. Now is the time to have it.”

The three teens slide to the floor, grateful for the break. They have been moving non-stop and running full out for the past forty-five minutes. Small gestures between the soldiers hint at secret conversations between them.

“I can’t believe we are going to get out of here.” Blades asks quietly.

“You doubted it?” Blue replies.

“A little. I mean. Even if we could get to the escape pods and launch, there wasn’t any place to go. And those pods are not made for long travel.”

Blue smiles, “I can’t wait to get home.”

“Move out.” The commander says, “Our warship just reported that the creatures are moving out in full force.”

The group starts moving again. For thirty minutes the group marches down the halls in silence. Every now and then, the commander would receive a report about the creature’s movements.

“Hey.” Blades whispers, “Does all of this seem to be happening a little too fast?”

“What do you mean?” Blue whispers back.

“Them showing up just at the point when we would have been overrun. Those things starting to hunt us outright instead of stumbling across us? Doesn’t it seem a little too convenient?”

“Maybe. But we were in that big one’s nest or den or whatever.” Sparky glances over her shoulder, “Maybe that set them off.”

“Maybe.”

“You don’t sound so sure.”

“I’m not. And I don’t know why.”

“Maybe you’re on edge for being hunted all this time.”

“Maybe.”

“Hold.” The Commander says, “We got contact up ahead.” He pauses, “Seems like the creatures are trying to cut us off. Pull back. We’ll find another route.”

“What’s the problem?” Blades asks.

“Those animals we were tangling with. They seem to be moving quicker now.” The commander looks out a nearby port, “And the man in charge wants us to move. They’re sending a cutter to pick us up.”

“A cutter?” Blue asks.

“A specialized craft that drills holes into ships. First designed for ship boarding actions. This particular model has been modified with a larger access port to allow an easier time for injured people. The downside is that drilling into a ship without causing a blow out takes time. Time that those creatures can use to come at us.”

“What about the other teams? Are they encountering trouble?” The medic asks, “If they’re not, then we could get together. All of the teams can hold off a determined attack for quite some time.”

He nods his head. “You’re right. We could but each one is coming under attack. The mission commander is ordering all the units to pull back. Except for Delta 33. They’re in the ship’s core memory stores pulling a data dump.”

“A data dump? That’ll take a good few hours to pull.”

“They were the first on board and have been pulling the data since the mission started.”

“Great.” One of the soldiers growls from behind his helmet, “That weasel is giving us the runaround. I’m telling you, there is something he isn’t telling us.”

“Santiago. Shut up.” He nods towards the kids, “They can hear you.”

“Right. Sorry.”

“Raphael. Simson. Did you hear?”

“Sir, yes, sir. We’re coming back to you now.” Gunfire suddenly fills the radio. “Where did that come from?”

“Fire fire!”

“No effect! Switch to plasma rounds!”

A terrible screech splits the air.

“Fall back!”

“Watch it!”

“Another one! On your right! On your right!”

For a few moments, only the sound of static comes over the speakers. Then a crackle and pop sounds. A moment later, their voices come back.

“Captain, we got a problem. Those animals are ahead of us. I think they came out of the service corridors. At least a dozen of them.”

“How can there be so many?”

“I don’t know sir but we need another way off.”

“Control. Send the cutter.”

“Cutter is on their way.”

“Alright folks. We just sit tight and wait. I want barriers set up with charges down both halls. Set up barriers along these halls too.” He points to the corridor, “Just in case they’re on the other side. We’ll just sit tight until help comes.”

“Excuse me, sir.” Blades asks, “Why the worry about the animals? We were able to pass through the halls without much trouble.”

His eyes glance at Sparky for a moment then he turns his attention to the hall, “I don’t know kid. But don’t worry about it.”

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 08

They round the corner of the hall. Dozens of them with jaws open and teeth flashing in the light. They close the distance in heartbeats.

“Been nice knowing ya.” Sparky growls as she sends twin bolts of energy into the attacking horde. “Wish we could have made it off.”

“Not over yet.” Blades answers as he steps in front of them. The bone plates on his arms thicken and grows. Acid strikes the bone.

The three teens are shoved to the side of the hall. An armored suit stands between them and the horde. Gunfire booms down the hall, sending bullets singing into the animals. The sound of explosives competes with the angry animal howls. Blue, Sparky, and Blades stare in amazement as five other armored forces march forward.

After a few tense minutes, the animals retreat backward. Two of the armored suits step forward and set up a glass barrier.

“Are any of you hurt?”

“Not really.” Blades answer as he sheds the bone coverage that is covered in acid.

The guards push forward and form a defensive barrier between the kids and the attacking animals. One of the armored individuals’ steps before them. His shoulder plates are painted with red stripes.

“Are you alright?” The wearer asks, looking between Blades and Blue. “Are they hurt?”

“No.” The first armored figure answers, “I am seeing light injuries. Nothing to stop us from moving them to the evac ship.”

“What’s going on?” Blades ask.

“Let’s go.”

“Wait! Who are you?”

“We’re part of the security team for the colonization program.”

“Sorry. We didn’t realize that the computer failed to notify us that passengers have been left behind. We’re here to rescue you.” The wearer straightens and looks towards the hall they came in, “Retreat. We need to retreat now! The Captain is picking up heat signatures.”

“What’s happening?” Blades yells as he is pushed away from the entrance.

“Move it short stuff!”

The half dozen guards form an oblong circle around the teens and the hustle away from the hole. Before the children could ask, two of the guards drop behind and place a clear barrier.

“Phew. Close one, boss.” One of the guards removes their helmet. A woman with short brown hair grins at them, “Hi. I’m Medic Officer Third Class Chesna. Let’s take a look at those wounds. Oh, looks like you have regenerative abilities.”

“Uh.” Blades raises a hand, “This might seem ungrateful but… Uh, what is going on? Who are you? What is happening?”

“Well.” She glances at the hole, “It was. Well. There seems to be some sort of plant that is taking over the ship. Seems like this particular plant likes spaceships.”

“Lovely.”

“Alright.” The commander removes his helmet, revealing dark features, “I’m Captain Eric Selzar. I am in charge of Strike Team Charlie Zero Four, or Dynamite Team. We’re here to rescue you.”

He looks at Blue then at Blades. The two teens break in hopeful smiles.

“I see the stasis amnesia is still in effect? Well. Short answer. You and your families were part of a colony expedition on the way to this world. However, your ship was damaged. You two were the last few people recovering from that damage. However, this ship fell victim to a then-unknown assailant. The medical ship was evacuated but the ship’s computer apparently glitched out and failed to register you two.”

“I’m actually kinda glad that I wasn’t awake for that.”

“Wait. Our families. Our parents. My sister!” Blue says worriedly.

“Safe.” The medic officer says with a smile, “Containment procedure held off the lizards and the plant while the ship was evacuated. However, the plant caused structural damage. Repair procedure was set in motion. Then we discovered that you two were left behind.”

“Alright.” The commander turns to them, “The rescue ship is holding position and is waiting for us. We have successful feints by the other teams. They’ll keep those animals off while we get you to the rescue ship. Captain confirms that there are no other passengers onboard.”

The soldiers break into three groups of six each. One team remains at the barrier. The other one disappears down the hallway. The last group surrounds the teens and begin heading towards the front of the ship.

“Can you at least what is going on?” Blades asks, “We kinda have some of our memories back but nothing about what happened.”

The commander glances over at one of the other soldiers.

The teens exchange worried glances.

“Not here.” The commander continues, “We’ll talk when we get to a resting point. And we’ll need to get you two into evac suits.”

After passing several halls, they come to a stop in what appears to be a meeting room of some sort. The soldiers take up positions near the doors. Outside, the world turns quietly below.

Blades frown in surprise, “What about Sparky?”

“What do you mean?”

“Captain! They’ve broken out of containment.”

“Time to move.”

“What broken out of containment?” Blue yells out, “You mean those lizard things?”

“Yes. They’re an apex predator found on the world below. A sample was brought up for examination. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the animals reproduced like ants. A single queen producing workers and warriors. To top things off, an aggressive plant was also brought up. Which was released when the lizard creatures broke their own containment. Sensors on board the ship reported you trying to escape. An emergency rescue vehicle was dispatched to rescue you. Then we discovered the plant infestation. Well. That took a bit to figure out how to get on board, save you, and then get back off.”

“We were heading to the escape pods. Or the bridge.”

The commander chuckles, “The pods were all launched when initial containment was lost. And you can’t get into the bridge without a passcode. Anyways. You’ll be fine. We just head down to the launch bays and we’ll be home free.”

A howl fills the air just behind them.

“We better get going. Those animals are not going to take an attack lying down. If we run, we can get off this boat in an hour.”

2019: Goals and Dreams

The New Year has begun
Full of promise and hope
The New Year has begun
Full of goals and dreams

Some are hopes for careers
Others are personal goals
To write and grow
Still, others are for me
To be better than who I was

The New Year has begun
So bright and cheerful
Yet a fear shadows it all
That I will fail as before

Will this year end the same as before
With nothing changed and nothing to show
Or shall this year be different
With goals reached
And achievements earned

The New Year has begun
Plans are set in motion
The New Year has begun
And I am already dodging potholes

The year will past me by
Whether I am ready or not
So onward I will go
Ready for the challenges
Ready for the new year

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 7

“BLADES!” The girls scream as they charge towards the ladders.

They catch a glimpse of a long tail before it disappears out of sight.

“What do we do?” Blue asks, stunned.

“Go get him!”

Together, the two girls sprint down the stairs, their feet ringing. Ahead of them, the howl of a creature grows fainter. The girls slide to halt on the next floor down. Three halls lead in different directions. One to the left. Another to the right. The last hall lies in front of them.

“Which way?”

“Follow the blood.” Sparky points to the floor.

Drops of blood lead off to the left. Without another word, they start running down the hall.

“Where did that thing come from?” Sparky wheezes out, “I thought they were trapped.”

“Not a clue. Might have gotten out before the security measures.”

“Great. I thought we had put them all behind us.”

They slide to a stop again at another intersection. The trail of blood they have been following is joined by several more from different halls. The girls slow to a stop and glance at each other.

“Maybe they are eating each other.”

“What is the likelihood of that?”

“Very low.”

Carefully, the two girls walk forward. Their energy crackles along their forearms and lower legs, ready for a sudden attack. The further they walk down, the thicker the blood trails become. Eventually, it becomes impossible for them to avoid the blood. Their feet stick to the floor. The only upside is the trail of footprints left in the sticky blood.

“Can you hear anything?” Blue whispers quietly.

“No.”

Blue winces suddenly as she puts a hand to her head.

“What’s wrong?”

“A headache. I was remembering a nightmare.” Blue takes a deep breath and slowly exhales, “I was a kid running down a hall and then a river of blood swept me away.”

“Oh.”

“I’ll be alright. Come on.” Blue slowly moves forward, “I don’t hear anything right now.”

“Great. What is the chances that is just the one?”

“Not likely.” Blue leans towards the floor, “Looks like another set of tracks here. Smaller than the one that took Blades.”

“Great. Just great.” Sparky starts at a metallic clang.

“Do we keep going?”

“What choice do we have?”

Slowly they walk forward into the hall. The well-lit hall is a sharp contrast with the blood-streaked floors. Here and there are streaked handprints. Without a word, the two girls move cautiously forward. They round a corner and freeze.

A pair of giant lizard creatures lies on the ground. They are twenty feet long but with a narrow, lean build. Protruding from their jaws are curved teeth. Long black claws decorate the end of their limbs. Their hide is dark green along their backs but white along their underbellies.

“Look at the size of them.” Blue whispers.

“Think you can take one of them out?”

“Overcharge?”

“That’s what I’m thinking.”

“What if there is more than one?”

Blue smiles, “Do you know how to make a pulse bomb?”

“A what?”

“Nevermind. Just get ready to hit them if it doesn’t take them out. Or if any of their friends come to check in on them.”

“Got it.”

Blue takes a deep breath and steps out. Energy pulses between her hand. A white-blue stone forms and crackles with energy. The sounds of the crackling lightning cause both beasts to wake. With a grunt, Blue tosses the white stone between them. The lizard creatures rise to their feet as the stone explodes. The force of the blast knocks both creatures into the hall. The power released scorches the hall, burns away the paint, and tears a chunk of flesh out of the two lizard creatures.

As the stench of burned flesh fills the air, another lizard creature leaps forward around the corner.

Sparky steps forward and throws a fist forward.

The orange energy rips through the air and hits the lizard on its head. The animal curls up as if it hit a wall. With a roar, the creature writhes in pain as the energy consume its head. A moment later, the creature flops onto its side. The flesh on its head burned away.

Howls fill the air.

“Can you use quick speed?”

“That I can do.”

Energy crackles around both girls. Their legs glow as they leap forward down the hall. Moving down the hall quickly, they glance back and forth. The side doors are jammed open. Unlike previous rooms, these have been gutted. What few belongs are arranged in circle-like nests. Here and there are creatures curled up.

“Look like they’re moving in.”

“Great. Wait.” Blue yells.

They slide to a stop at an intersection. Carefully they look about. Then they hear Blades yelling and fighting down the right-side hall.

“I go first.” Blue says, “You come a few seconds behind me.”

“Right.”

With a flash of energy, Blue moves down the hall. Lighting crackles in her wake. The energy casts dark blue light as she speeds down the hall.

“One thousand one.” Sparky whispers to herself, “One thousand two. One thousand three.”

She allows energy to sweep through her body. The lightning dances along the length of her body. Moving quickly, she sweeps through a blood-stained hall. In what was a large cafeteria-area, she finds Blue in the middle of a fight.

A dozen of the lizard creatures are charging her. Blades is beside her, firing spikes as quickly as he can make them. His left leg is covered in blood and he is leaning against the wall.

But at the opposite end, filling the room with angry bellows is a giant lizard. Nearly five times as large as the ones they have seen, it crouches over a clutch of eggs. Its tail forms a protective barrier between them and Blades’ spikes.

Letting the energy flow and form into white-orange swords, Sparky charges into the mix.

The giant lizard is immediately aware. With a howl, the entire pack of lizards turn their attack away from Blades and Blue and begin charging towards Sparky. Out of the corner of her eye, Sparky sees Blue grab ahold of Blades. Using her enhanced speed, Blue gets Blades out and into the hall.

Sparky holds the door, fending off two lizards with quick swipes. Blue hurries past with Blades limping beside her.

Letting go of the sword foams, she slaps the ground in front of her.

The ground glows with orange-white energy and a wall appears. The front wave of lizards slam into it and rebound. The remaining begin their own attack, slashing with claw, tail, and headbutts. Cracks begin to appear in the wall.

Letting the energy flow once more, Sparky turns and runs.

With an explosion that fills the hall, the wall collapses. Animal cries of pain are drowned out with an angry bellow. From the sides of the room comes movement.

A few moments later, Sparky slides to a stop in the first clean hall. Blades lies on the ground, his face grimacing in pain. Blue stands close by, breathing hard.

“What did you?” Blue asks between gasps of breath.

“Tried to build a barrier. It didn’t hold.”

“I think you ticked them off.”

“A little. And there is a lot of them heading this way.”

“Alright.” Blades tries to stand up but his leg refuses to hold the weight.

“What happened?”

“That big one bit it off.”

“Off?” She looks at the blood soaked leg.

“Tried to at least. Advance regenerative abilities.” He answers with a gasp, “Makes useful for recovering lost or damaged limbs but also really painful when I do need to replace them.”

The sound of howling echoes down the hall. Steadily it grows louder.

“What do we do?” Sparky asks as she raises another barrier to block the hall.

“I don’t know. Can you travel? I mean a long ways.”

“I don’t know. I need time to heal. Just. Maybe twenty minutes? Thirty?”

“With how fast those things move, I don’t think we have a time.”

A few feet away, a part of the wall slides upward. A low rumble comes from the hall. The teens struggle to their feet. Each extends their sword-like weapons.

The rumble becomes a low roar.

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 6

Editor’s Note: Please forgive the unexpected delay. Holidays are here and required my full focus. I hope to be more consistent! I think that might be a New Year’s Resolution.

“The ship is stabilizing.” Blades murmurs as he glances out of the window. “The ship is still skewed but at least we are not doing vertical jumps anymore.”

“That’s good. Have you found anything?” Blue asks quietly. “Mainly how do we get to the bridge and why is the ship seems to be breaking down.”

With a shake of his head, Blades turns back to the terminal he has managed to gain access. Half of the screen has text slowly scrolling past. The second has an outline of the ship flashing past every second. The three teens shift uneasily as the ship creaks and groans. Error reports flow out of the overhead speakers. Every now and then there is a distant roar.

“Seems like something has gotten into the engineering compartment and is wreaking havoc in the navigation system. That’s what is causing the ship to go nuts. Repairs are underway but there seems to be a problem with the repairs.”

“No parts?” Blue asks.

“Maybe. Maybe not. That.. that part of the report doesn’t make sense.”

“What?” The two girls ask as they lean in.

“Well. Repair units have been dispatched but the system doesn’t show that the repair drones arrived. Or that the repairs have been started. There is also a report of combat units being dispatched. But there is no report that they have arrived. All of which means that there is something going on in engineering. According to these reports, there have been seven repair teams and three security teams sent. All robotic. At this point, the computer is preparing a much larger security team.”

“What do we do? Are we even close to the engineering section?”

“Not at all. We are about halfway through the ship.”

“What do we do? Keep going?”

“Maybe. What about escape pods? Can you access that information from here?”

“Yeah. Give me a second.”

“Sparky, why do you want to know about escape pods?”

“Because there are monsters running around a ship that seems to be falling apart. We may need to get off in a hurry.”

“But we haven’t seen any?”

“Maybe but I’m thinking the reason the ship is going nuts is the monsters.”

“You don’t have any proof.”

“True but have you seen any of those custodial bots? That one we tangled with went for the robot and shredded it.”

“Got the locations. Nearest one is three halls down and two floors below us.”

“Great! I say we go for the escape pods instead of the bridge.”

The other two teens exchange glances but seem to be unsure. Sparky stands up and taps her foot. She glances up and down the hall.

“We need to go.” She says quietly.

“I know we need to go but… what if we need to launch the escape pods from the bridge?” Blue looks down the hall, “And I feel like we are missing something.”

“Yeah well, this empty ship is making me uncomfortable. We haven’t seen or heard of anyone else. In fact, that first robot said that passengers were supposed to be left. I mean, how long ago did they leave? And I find it disturbing that they somehow forgot us.”

“That is disturbing to think about.”

“So which is it? Bridge or Escape pods?”

“Why not both?” Blades stands up and stretches his back, “I say we drop down to the escape pod and see what shape it is in. We’ll know then if we need to head to the bridge or not.”

“Wait. Can you get into the ship logs from here?” Blue looks up at Blades.

“No. Security prevents that access from an information kiosk stations.”

“How did you get access to the repair logs then?”

“Part of the system-wide alert system. I can see the reports about repairs but I can’t influence them or get more specific codes.”

“So what do we do?”

“Like I said. Escape pods.”

The three teens begin walking again. Their footsteps echo through the empty halls. Doors slide open and close if they pass too near. Through viewports they see a yellow sun dawning on the world below.

“Reminds of my family’s Christmas camping trip.” Blue murmurs.

“Say what now?”

“Oh. That sunrise. It reminded of a family camping trip.”

“Wait. Your memories are coming back?”

“A little. I see something and a thought would pop in.”

“That’s good. Maybe the rest of us will have our memories return soon too.”

“That would be nice.” Sparky growls as she rubs her head, “I can’t take much more of these alarms. They are starting to give me a headache.”

“Hey look! Stairs.”

Sparky and Blades look to where Blue was pointing. Next to five open lifts are two stairways leading up and down.

“I am going out on a limb that we shouldn’t use the lifts.” Blue mutters.

“Yep.” Blades laughs as he enters the stairs. “Don’t want to get stuck in one.”

A large shadow appears behind the wall.

“What is that?”

Blades turn.

Suddenly he vanishes.

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 5

“Blades. How is it going?”

“About the same the last time you asked. Five minutes ago. Just chill Sparky. I’ll get this door open in no time.”

The three teens huddle around a small interface. Blades kneels next to the door with a toolkit stripped from the custodial bot. The two girls stand watch next time him. Blue watches one hall. Sparky the other. So far they have heard or seen nothing.

“Ow.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Shocked myself.” He rubs his head, “I think I am still missing parts of my memory.” He chuckles.

“What?”

“Oh. Just remembered the first time I cut into the software of a security door. I shocked myself so bad that my hair stood out for a week.”

Blue laughs, “Maybe we should have called you Sparky instead.”

“Nah. I rather like Blades….” He frowns as the door display flickered with data.

“What’s wrong now? Another layer of security? Maybe we should try a different door.”

“No. It’s not that. I just don’t remember having bone blades then.” He shrugs as the door unlocks, “Then again, I could still be missing parts of my memory. How are your memories?”

“Fragmented.” Blue says as she boosts herself off the wall, “Like you. Just random thoughts that pop into my head when I say something or we do something.”

“Nothing.” Sparky sighs that turns into a snarl.

“It’ll come. Relax.”

The three teens slip through the doorway. Blue shivers from the cold while their breaths hang in front of them like clouds.

“What do you think?”

“I am beginning to wonder how long we have been on the ice. I mean there is dust and no sign of people. I wonder how long ago the ship was abandoned.”

“Stop. We talked about this already.”

“Ready?”

Blades starts at the sound. He looks over and sees the two girls staring back.

“What?”

“Leaving here. Getting out of this zone? Remember?”

“Oh right.”

The ship suddenly shudders. It tilts violently and the teens are thrown to the side. At once they begin sliding down the hall. The tilt becomes nearly vertical and doors slide past in a blur. Ahead of them is a narrow passage. With a roar, Bones throws out both arms. Bone blades extend and catch the edge of the doorway.

He screams as he jerks to a stop.

Bone creaks as the two girls hit him. They tumble to either side of the door.

“Bones?” Blue calls, “Bones, are you okay?”

Sparky helps Bones to her side of the hallway. He groans as he cradles his arms. Blood drips onto his clothes.

“Warning.” A disembodied voice calls out, “Warning. Structural failure. Warning. Structural failure. Warning. Structural failure.”

“Ya know.” Blades groans, “I thought we were past all of that.”

“Do you think we can get down the hall.” Sparky peers down. “Okay. I may not have my memories but I think I’m afraid of heights.” She scoots back.

“Not without a way to climb.”

“Uh, what about the air vents.” Blue points over their shoulders.

“Are you kidding me? If the hallways are not made for climbing, what do you think that will be of use?”

“Well… For starters, I can polarize my hands. Basically, turn them into magnets.”

“And you couldn’t do it as we were sliding to our doom?”

“Well. I need time to do it. Plus if I touch none metal while doing that I would basically deep fry organic material. Messy.”

“Ah. Thank you for not deep frying me.”

“Your welcome. Sparky? Can you do the same thing?” Blue holds up her hands. Faint electrical lines dance along her palms.”

“Uh. No. I don’t think so.”

“Here. I’ll teach you.”

X

“THE SHIP DID WHAT?”

“The program controlling navigation is glitching. The ship is now mistaking vertical and horizontal positions. We’re trying to access the programming to fix it but right now it isn’t going well. At all.”

“Could this get any worse. Wait. You have that look on your face.”

“No, I don’t. Okay. There is worse news.”

“The specimen is still wreaking havoc but last I saw the security drones were containing and destroying them. Especially the eggs.”

“Yes. Well. There is another problem.”

“I should have stayed in school and become a doctor. What now?”

“We found the data log entry explaining what happened and what went wrong. Here is the file.”

“No. It can’t be.”

“It is.”

“Oh, this just gets better and better. Come on.”

X