“Chrysalis Emergent”, A K’Arian Legions Novel
Kiri believed the best place to hide dark secrets from her past is in the equally dark reaches of space. Hiring on as a crew member of a deep-space freighter, she begins a new life.
Her hopes of safety are soon shattered on her latest trip with the presence of a Starwolf on board. Inadvertently dragged deeper into the mysteries surrounding these elite warriors of The K’Arian Legions, she soon finds herself facing her fears and her past again.
Her only escape is to make a choice – stand and fight, or die.
Kiri was, relatively speaking, standing half on the “ceiling” of the core corridor, and half on the wall, her mag-boots holding her secure.
In the time remaining before the main drive was activated, the crew was checking and double checking every component. Since free fall meant there was no real “up” or “down”, the ship’s designers had continued their sadistic delight in the contortions needed to reach ships systems, placing a backup power routing she needed to check behind a panel in a tight corner
Somehow, probably from the metal expanding slightly, the panel was wedged in its frame. Distracted, thinking about her encounter with the Starwolf, Kiri acted on mental auto-pilot, grasped the handles of the panel with both hands and pulled, straightening her legs to put her weight behind the move.
With a metallic “tink”, the panel broke free, but was quickly followed by an unexpected flash of electric blue from inside the space. A shock ran through her body as current arced from within to the panel she held, her muscles going into spasm instantly. As her legs locked straight from the shock, the stress on the seal of her boots broke their magnetic contact, and she came free from her perch, inertia pushing her wildly across the corridor into the corner opposite.
Her head crashed into metal deck plates, and for a moment her world went dark. Winded and dazed from the impact she blindly reached out, her hand catching then clutching a bulkhead fitting. She reached up with her free hand to the back of her head, probing gingerly, her fingers coming away sticky with blood.
She clamped down on the panic she could feel trying to start, her head spinning, she tried to stand but found her legs weren’t answering her commands to move. Droplets of blood, perfect spheres of crimson, floated lazily past her. She flinched from the salty sting as the flight path of one brought it into contact with her eye, and a wave of pain washed over her from the back of her head, nearly dragging her down into darkness again.
“Oh crap, I’m in deep shit here.” The thought flashed through her mind as she tried to figure out what to do.
Turning herself carefully in her weightless state using the handhold, she could dimply see the hatch to the Command Center, but realized her current state made reaching it near impossible. Turning back, she could see the hatch to the drive compartment behind her, much closer, and beside it, a comms panel – with an emergency call button!
She tried to assess how to reach it with minimal effort, the pain she had felt just from flinching looming large in her mind – she couldn’t risk blacking out from a repeat.
Right then, Kiri wasn’t sure if she would even be able to let go of her hold around the fitting anchoring her in place, but she knew that she was injured, and badly – the amount of blood floating around her head was growing rapidly. She had to make a decision, and fast.
“I’m not going to die, not here.” She repeated the words like a mantra, over and over, and reached down to put the fingers of her free hand into the grill-work of the deck plates. “OK, next hand” she muttered to herself.
Painfully, slowly, she moved hand over hand towards the hatch, her only chance to survive. Moving her eyes instead of her head to look for each handhold in the deck plates meant less pain, but waves of dizziness were coming faster now, the blood loss starting to take its toll.
After an eternity she was at the hatch, but now came the hardest part of the whole process – she would have to let go of the deck plates and push herself towards the comms panel. She doubted she would have more than one chance to slap the emergency button as she floated past.
Psyched with the desperation only one who knows her life rests on her next act, she pushed against the deck plates firmly, letting go and beginning to float towards the panel, hoping she had estimated the angle correctly, only to come to a stop in mid-aid, something pressing against her back. The panic began to break loose from her iron control, and a whimper escaped her lips as she wondered what had gone wrong.
Forgetting the pain that would come, she tried to turn her head to see what was blocking her, and just as a new wave of blackness engulfed her senses she could see a shadow – someone was there! She fought against the pain, forcing it back with the last of her energy, and found herself nose to .. helmet? The Starwolf!
“Emergency button”, Kiri managed to croak out, trying to point to it with her eyes. The Starwolf said nothing, instead holding Kiri steady in the air. She sensed, rather than saw, the grey-clad alien move, just before blinding agony slammed into her from the back of her head.
Drained, wanting to scream in frustration at the cruelty of a universe that would let her come so close to rescue then snatch it from her at the last moment, she finally succumbed to unconsciousness. The last thing she knew was a whispering whipping sound. She knew that sound, she’d …