Sci-Fi Story Preview!

As you may or may not know, I’m working on another novella now that my Victorian-era one is finished and cooling its heels waiting until I can afford an editor and cover designer (the concept of the starving artist is not a myth, alas). The lowdown on my current WIP is here, where I offer up a little snippet of what I’ve got written. But now, instead of just a tiny little piece of my story, I am laying at y’all’s feet the entire prolog for public scrutiny.

I know, I know. You’re all positively thrilled. Try to hold it in.

Anyhow, that’s enough Ryan Reynolds GIFs for one day. As one of my favorite YouTubers always says, let’s get into this.

The station was called Paradise.

It had been built as a vacation spot, a luxurious sort of space hotel overlooking the planetary nebula formed by the long-deteriorated sun Taurus IX.  Strewn with the shimmering dust of a dying star, vivid and rich in its palette of greens and deep blues lit up by the white dwarf that served as its dwindling heart, it truly was beautiful.  But the twin of Taurus IX, Taurus III, made it a dangerous kind of beauty.  At the peak of its solar cycle the smaller sun raged in a tantrum of flares and eruptions, flinging its tons of plasma out into the vacuum of space where Paradise drifted.  

Hastily planned and poorly built, the station’s shielding had been made only to withstand the gentler seasons of Taurus III, and against this onslaught it was deemed too hazardous to remain in it.  It had been evacuated, abandoned, and forgotten for seven years. 

But after those seven years had slowly gone by, someone remembered Paradise.  So close to the tantalizing phenomena of Taurus III’s volatile solar events, it made for a too-convenient vantage point for further study.  It was recommissioned, slated to be dubbed the Equilis, and a new directive was ordered: assess, repair, and prep it to receive a permanent research team.

Commander Scott Gallagher, head of Bravo Team, specialized in these kinds of missions.  With the right equipment and expertise, the dubious conditions of the abandoned station would be easy to navigate.  Bravo Team made the long journey from the Control Base on Alpha Hydra II to where Paradise drifted in the lonely Taurean system.  Two days after docking, they radioed in.  Three days after docking, a massive CME from Taurus III scrambled communications for forty-eight hours.  Six days after docking, Bravo Team missed their scheduled check-in.  Then Paradise vanished.

There were all manner of rational explanations for why it dropped out of sight.  It lay at the very edge of scanning range, where signals were already weak when they reached it.  Taurus III was a loud sun, jamming the communication lines with the throbbing hiss of its bubbling surface.  Paradise’s orbit could have easily taken it behind this shield of interference, rendering it invisible and trapping any messages in or out.  Except for one.   

“Shut it down.”  

Gouged with static, broken and half-drowned by the heartbeat of Taurus III.

“Whole sector.  Can’t get anything in or out.”

Sent over a frequency so weak it could barely be heard, suffused with an awful, alien hiss undercutting every harried word.

“Too dangerous.  Too awful.”

Scott Gallagher was a smart man, not easily rattled, with a career built on gauging risks.  If he deemed an area too perilous, Control would take his word for it.  They set on the system of Taurus III the standard ban for a hazard zone: forty years.  No one was allowed in–not to help Bravo Team, not to investigate their cryptic message.  The only option was simply to sit and wait for them to return.   

But for those forty years, nothing stirred inside the confines of the banned zone.  Space was a cruel, impersonal master, cold and unfeeling.  It was not unaccustomed to death, and neither could its explorers be.  Scott Gallagher and his men were put down as yet more casualties in the never-ending quest to seek out the limits of the universe.  By some, they were even forgotten.

Until, at last, drifting through the airless expanse like the final notes of some lost melody, came one single message.  One single word.        

“. . .alone.” 

I know it’s not terribly long, but let me know if you could stand to make it all the way through or not. Depending on how awful it is (and depending on how hard it is to self-publish in the first place!), I may just post it on here in sections. We’ll see. Anyway, tchüss for now!


8 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Story Preview!

  1. “… jamming the communication lines with the throbbing hiss of its bubbling surface.” Very poetic description! Makes me really experience firsthand the sun’s terrific nature! A great beginning, I’m riveted to the action and the suspenseful mystery underlying Paradise. What has happened to Bravo Team? Keep updating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They might hire me if they read much of this story. Won’t they be impressed! A coronal mass ejection is a big burst of plasma. I saw someplace that it can cause radio interference, so I slapped it down before I could second-guess myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That Ph.d in particle physics is just waiting for you to pick it up! When I think of plasma, I think of something that goes in an arm. English likes to double up on words until they don’t make any sense at all! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’ll look nice on my wall, next to my master’s in psychology. I had a devil of a time getting past all the blood plasma (or as Troy says, “plahs-ma”) to the space stuff during my highbrow Google research. But as long as they don’t come out with any new meanings for it, I ought to be okay.

      Liked by 1 person

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