Short Story Excerpt – Part 1

Here’s another short story/nanowrimo start (and subsequent failure) I wrote a few years ago, as yet un-named, that I recently found. This is the first part, that I have re-worked a bit. Believe it or not, this is a romance, or at least it was when I started it. Next time I am up at 1 AM, I’ll rework the next part and post it up for fun.

I’m kind of enjoying being very brave and putting this out there. Its giving me confidence again, seeing my stuff up for others to read. Its a very difficult thing to send your writing for others to read, and although in real life I have a hard time even letting my husband read my stuff, I am more at ease with this, for some odd reason. I have to remember that, because it is fueling my creativity.

Besides, my husband doesn’t read my blog. 😛

Part 1

If his comm link buzzed one more time, he was going to smack it across the room and give Machela what-for.

Herman had, for the last few hours, been attempting to write the monthly report for the outpost, ready to send to HQ. It was going to be late, as usual. Ten minutes ago, that buzzing had started, he had ignored it, and was still no further ahead. Balls. There were some days he didn’t want to be on this Godforsaken rock of a planet, extracting minerals and leaving no part of the planet un-tapped. He was one of three people on the outpost, Machela and Poitre the other two operations staff. The remainder of the outpost were robots, drones, and unmanned barges. It made it bloody hard to find solace sometimes, or find a fresh opponent for squash.

But, being the situation as it was, he didn’t have much choice. He was safe here. He had access to all the music, movies and canned television he could ever want. He had an exercise bike, ancient weight machine thingy, and a treadmill. He’d even come to enjoy the food packs they were sent every few months, the dry-as-dust eggs not so bad if you mixed them with the squeeze tube of peanut butter paste and the blister pack of noodles. And water, once sent through the purifier, was palatable on this planet, at least. He did wish for ice cubes though. He hadn’t had a proper cold drink in eons.

Finally, in a fit of desperation to make the thing stop its annoying sound, he swatted the button.

“What?” He barked.

Sir, there is a woman here to see you, she won’t leave. She says she needs to speak to you about Jeremiah. Do you know who that is?

He stopped shuffling tablets and felt himself go cold from all the blood now draining from his face. Jeremiah. He hadn’t heard that name in almost three years. His name. His old name.

He placed one shaky hand on the table to brace himself and cleared his throat. “Send her in Machela, and please hold any other communications for me, ok?”

The doors to his office slid open a crack, and long fingers wrapped around the edge of one side and slid them the rest of the way. A black leather terrain boot stepped in first, then the rest of the woman followed, flowing lithely over the door jam, then softly closing the door behind her. She stood perfectly erect, removed her light-ray goggles, pulled her other glove off, and surveyed his tiny cramped bulkhead of an office, with a look that was carefully guarded, or openly hostile. He wasn’t sure which.

A long, curved sword hung off her back, the cross-hatched handle poking up behind her shoulder. Her heel-length black coat draped straight down, covering what he assumed would be a carbon fibre bodysuit. Her in-ear comm link winked silver out of her left ear, and her data link pulsed a faint purple light from around her right middle finger. He assumed, as his eyes travelled her body, that she would also bear a black tattoo, on her lower back, of the Mercenary Guild. She looked to be one, right down to the bulk on her left hip of a firearm of some sort.

The only peculiar thing about her was her messy, chin-length bright blonde hair, shining in the light emanating from the moon just about the surface of the planet. Not a very inconspicuous part of her uniform, he found himself thinking. It rather stood out in the dark.

“You’re here about Jeremiah?” He finally asked, completely on-edge, his heart racing. He slowly moved his hands towards the panic button underneath the arm of his chair, and hovered his fingers over it. This woman, in all likelihood, was here to kill him, and collect the bounty placed on his carcass. He knew the hiding couldn’t last forever, but he’d at least hoped for a few more years before the Huunari caught up to him. If she made a move, he’d press it. If not, he didn’t want to arise suspicion any further.

“Herman Windham?” She asked in a voice which seemed at odds to her curved, fit body, perhaps aged by too many pulls on a nicotine machine, or too many shots of Earth Whisky. “Formerly known as Jeremiah Plackett, of Earth?”

He hesitated a moment. Obviously she had found him, he was a sitting duck, and there seemed no sense in lieing. “Yes, that is me.” He replied tersely, slowly backing up from the desk, the panic button forgotten, ready to stop, drop, and roll if she unsheathed her sword.

“You must come with me. I have orders to bring you back to Earth.” She stated flatly, pulling a tablet out from inside her coat, throwing it at his desk, where it skidded across to bump up against the pile already jumbled on top.

Herman, or more rightly, Jeremiah, dove away from the desk, screaming and hiding his eyes in his sleeve. He curled up into a fetal position on the other end of the room, expecting the bright flash of a scatter bomb at any moment. When nothing happened, he simply stayed where he was, and waited a moment more.

“Sir, I have orders to bring you in alive.”

Jeremiah looked out between his fingers at the woman, who now looked slightly annoyed, or terribly bored. She flicked a finger against her thumb in irritation, and he slowly uncurled himself.

“Sorry, a bit jumpy, you understand.” He said, standing up, pulling his work uniform down. “Not every day a Merc comes in to my office and then throws bits about.”

She blinked silently, pursing her lips. Obviously she didn’t understand.

Now that he was eye-to-eye with her, he noticed her perfectly ice blue irises, smattering of freckles across her angular face, and the slight crook of her nose. She’d had it broken a couple of times, he figured. He intinctively ran his fingers down the bridge of his own, remembering the pain and crunching noise when his was broken, all those years ago.

She was his height, he guessed, and as they each analysed each other, he felt himself relax a bit. She had said alive. The threat of imminent death gone, he felt safer to question her.

“So why must I go with you?”

She motioned at the tablet, softly glowing out from the pile, and he reached over to pick it up. When his hand touched the casing, it sprang to life, showing him the spinning logo of his former company, the one he had left years ago, in his brother’s capable hands. A wave of trepidation flew through him and he pressed his thumb to the biometric strip, prepared to be bombarded.

Perhaps they weren’t so capable after all. As he thumbed through emails, transcripts, and media clippings, it seemed that his older brother, Kensington Plackett, has gotten himself into hot water with the company, dribbled away the war chest to nothing, ran the company into receivership, and had subsequently been killed in a rather spectacular fashion when he declared bankruptcy. In the wake of the investigation, his own “disappearance” was noted, and a manhunt had begun for the brother, and founder, of Plackett Industries. The investigators for the Crown Police seemed to think there was a connection of his disappearance three years ago to his brother’s murder now. Unfortunately, his witness protection docket had run out a year or so ago, and he was on his own with his new identity. Likely the Crown Police didn’t even know about it, since it was highly classified, his reasons for high-tailing it off Earth, being that he was a target for the Huunari, and being that he pissed off the North American group boss when he turned his location and dealings over the UCBI. It didn’t help that he had also been in bed with the man’s daughter when his informant status had been outed.

Jeremiah groaned and put the tablet down. It was all going pear-shaped back where he had left his old life. Kensington, never very close to anyone else in the family, hadn’t been his first choice to head the company when he left, but his sister, Yasmine, was still too young at the time to take the helm. He briefly wondered if she too, was in danger, and then put it past him. He could worry about that when he had more time to think. She was a capable girl.

“Why do you want me? I have no more clue than fly why my brother is dead. I’ve been on this rock supervising Barium mining for the last three years!” He said, running fingers through his hair and gesturing out the window to the massive, red blinking machinery boring holes in the planet surface, the steam and dust rising up around it like a massive, seething beast.

“I don’t know about your brother, Sir, or why. I have orders to bring you in. I am not authorized to view what was on the tablet. If you do not come willingly, I am authorized to use force.”

“Who is it that wants me then?” he replied. He was going to find out something, bedamned!

“I am under contract with the United Continental Bureau of Investigations. This is all I know.” She countered. She moved her foot out, stood at ease, and then gestured towwards his desk. “Gather your things, we haven’t got much time before the transport leaves.”

Resigned, and fully aware the UCBI was not to be taken lightly, Jeremiah grabbed up some personal tablets he had in his desk, his tattered ancient paper book of 1984, a squeeze ball in the shape of Earth, and his mobile comm link. He tapped his data link to the port on his desk, and closed down the connection to the mainframe. He looked quickly around his office, and then at the monthly report, still unfinished on its own tablet.

“Bugger it all then.” He said, and he followed his mercenary escort out the door.

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