So it’s Christmas Eve and I’m feeling generous. I posted chapter two of my work in progress yesterday. Part of me wants to wait to post this, but it’s one of my favorite chapters. This chapter Introduces Misha. She’s the exact opposite of Dayna who we met in the last chapter. She was raised in the colonies and is far from helpless. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter, and it also marks the point where the plot starts to thicken and the story starts to pick up. I hope you guys enjoy the Hell out of it.
“A gun? What skill is that? Anyone can point and pull a trigger. If you really wanna test the skill of a warrior, give them a blade. See if he can cut the enemy—see if he can sever them from their own life—without bleeding himself out in the process.”
Black Bay Compound
1840 hours, Feb. 22, 2324 General Space Time
“Get out of my face, Girl.” The fat guy spat as he slapped her away with a large backhand. The bar broke out in laughter as he leaned back into his booth, wedging himself back in between the two scantily clad women at his sides.
Misha picked herself off the grating, and sucked the blood off her lip as she glared at the big brute. “Not a chance fat-ass.” She stood up, ignoring the sting to her face. “Give me my credits.”
“I wanted his head, you gave me his tongue.” He motioned with the flick of his wrist, and the woman to his left picked a beer off the table and held it to his mouth for a sip.
“It was easier to carry.” She smiled as she stood in front of him. She pulled one of the blades from a sheath on her exposed thigh and started to clean her finger nails, uninterested in the happenings around her. “And more fun to take. Either way, your snitch won’t be talkin’ again.”
The crowd behind her had gone back to their own story telling, dealings, and gambling. The thick smell of beer, sweat, and steam filled the dimly lit taproom. Smoke and dust floated through the air in a never settling haze. Girls gave dances, sat on laps, and waited tables. The pub was about the only legitimate business in the compound. It didn’t matter how you earned the credits. As long as you had them, you could drink. And there was no shortage of alcohol or would be patrons flowing into the nameless alehouse. It was neutral territory, and everyone kept it that way.
“So maybe I give you half.” He leaned forward, grabbed a stack of credit chips and tossed them at her. She was still as they hit the floor around her feet.
“You could do that.” She tossed the blade up and down a couple times, catching it by the sharp end every time. “But then maybe I take the other half in a different currency.” She grinned, and before the large man could even blink, her blade stuck into the bench between his legs. He looked down and saw his pants cut and split open right at the crotch.
The two women to his side stood and left him alone in the booth, scared to become the next practice target. Misha’s fetish with blades had its reputation, but in a place like this, everyone had a reputation for something.
In the distance behind her, a man stepped into pub and stood at the top of the stairs, the only way in or out of the joint. The bar fell silent and everyone looked at him with a mixture of curiosity, fear, and respect. Everyone, but Misha, who kept her back to him and eyes on the obese freebooter.
“Misha.” The man called out. “Come.”
The crowd turned and looked at her. She didn’t acknowledge the attention that was once again on her. The blade lover took four steps forward, crawled across the table almost in a teasing fashion, and plucked the knife from the bench. “So what’s it gonna be Bobby? Do I take my credits, or do I take your dick?” She ran the blade lightly across his pants before pushing the tip into his thigh.
“Take the credits, bitch. But that nark better not be a problem anymore.” He relaxed.
Misha smiled at him, almost playfully. “Thanks Bobby. I knew you’d come around. And trust me, he won’t be an issue.” She stood up and sheathed her blade before pocketing her chips. She turned in the silence and walked. The Pub stayed silent until she and the man on the stairs had left, but she could feel their eyes on her with every step.
She followed Sid through the dark hallways of the station. The few yellow lights that lit their way were spread far and thin. She let her feet drag against the grating while her fingers did a double count of the chips in her pocket. Why do they always wait for the knife? The walk was quiet. Awkward. Steam rolled through the holes in the deck, leaking from aged pipes.
“I need a favor, Misha.” Sid’s voice broke the silence. He stopped at the hatch leading into his room and turned the wheel, unlocking the manual dogs that held the door tightly shut. It creaked as it opened, but it was hard to hear over the rush of air pulling them in as the pressure equalized across the door. Sid stepped in, and held the door for her. After she was in and the door shut, the room grew silent. There was no humming of the pipes, or whisper of the ventilation. No drunk stories being told or fights breaking out. She enjoyed the rare sound of nothing. Sid dragged a chair out from under a large wooden desk and the moment vanished as quickly as it had come.
The man more than two times her senior opened a drawer, pulled out a bottle of bourbon and two glasses. He poured two fingers worth in one and offered it to her. Misha, not ungrateful, waved him off.
“Nice digs ya got here, chief.” She looked around the room, touching one thing and then another. She’d been on the outside of this room over many times over the years, but never in it.
It was a small room but she didn’t care. Sid had a library of leather bound books that littered the quarters. She loved the way animal skins felt beneath her fingertips, and she tried to imagine which animal it had been cut from. Gotta remember to hit him up for a good one later. She allowed him to take a sip of his drink, then got down to business. “What can I do for ya?”
“He’s out. Been out for about a week now I hear.” Sid never looked up from his glass, just swirled the ice around in the tumbler and took another sip. His rough scarred face didn’t hide that something was bothering him. “I need him here. There are…” He paused to pick his words carefully. “There are important matters we need to discuss.”
He never said his name and there was no need to. There was only one him. The survivor.
“Why me?” She stared at him. Not in anger, but searching for answers. Her feet stood planted on the worn deck plating, and felt heavier than ever. She forced herself to quit staring.
Sid finished off the drink and looked her in the eye for the first time since they entered the small room. “He’ll listen to you.” He grabbed the bottle and poured another two fingers worth. “He cares about you.”
“That was a years ago. I haven’t seen him since he got locked up.” Since I was twelve. “How will I even know where to look for him?” She took a step backwards and thumbed through some pages of an open book, not really trying to read any of it. Will he even recognize me? Will I recognize him?
“Do you remember why he was locked away?” Sid took a long slow sip, as if enjoying the drink for the last time. He sat the glass down and looked at the ceiling, staring at nothing in particular.
She turned around and thought for a moment. Who doesn’t? “Bloody Sunday.” Her fingers fell from the faded pages of the book. She reached for the bottle and left the glass. “I think the official body count was thirty-eight.”
Misha topped off Sid’s glass and took a sip straight from the bottle, allowing the burn to linger in her mouth for a moment before swallowing it down.
Sid let out a grunt as if hearing the number for the first time since it happened. “Thirty-eight. Just that day alone.” He turned the glass up, engulfing the poison. “It’s my fault, ya know.”
Misha glanced at him, unsure of how to feel.
“I took him in, just like I did you.” He sounded hurt. “You were just a girl.”
“I remember. He-”, she let out a short laugh. “He came to my room. I asked him if he wanted to play and went to get a toy out of the closet. By the time I had turned around, he was asleep on the floor next to my bed.” She looked around the wall. There were no pictures, no memories. “He held Darla like I held my pillow.” Another short laugh left her chest.
Sid grinned, but only for a moment. “You remember what else happened that day?”
“Just what they say in the stories. That during a gathering of delegates between PlaGo and the free folk, something happened, and you and he were the only ones to live. That you’re some kind of legends now.”
“Legends? Is that what they say?” He let out a shallow chuckle and took another sip from the glass. “There were thirty of us. Fifteen free folk, and fifteen of them. We were going to discuss some sort of cease fire, a truce, whatever you want to call it.”
She sat down on his bed, hoping he wouldn’t mind, but otherwise glued to the story.
“I was chosen to represent the free folk, along with my second.”
“Connor?” She asked.
“Connor, that’s right.” He leaned forward in his chair, almost hunched over, but continued. “He had his son, Jackson, there with us. A young kid, good lad. He had this toy gun—a harmless trinket—he wouldn’t let go of. So we’re having the meeting, and about halfway through the meeting, there was this light—I”m talking blinding—the whole room was as white as white can be.” His hands stretched trying to measure the brightness.
“And then it faded.” He continued. “And when we could finally open our eyes again, this orb as bright as the sun, but no bigger than your fist floated in the middle of the room.”
She watched as he looked at his own balled up hand, not daring to interrupt.
“None of us knew what to make of it. We were accusing them. They were accusing us. The whole room was in a riot surrounding this ball of light. Then it happened. Ribbons of light shot out of it, weaving, dodging, and flying.”
Misha’s knees were drawn up to her chest, arms pulling them tight. Her ears more open than they had ever been.
“I watched as it grabbed man after man, four total.” Sid shot his arms out, grabbing at air and pulled them back in, in demonstration. “Grabbed the first one by the leg and held him upside down. Another, an PlaGo officer, by the neck. It picked them up off the deck. Then it grabbed the boy, Jackson. And by this time, the whole place is in a panic.
“We’re pulling at them, trying to free them, but it’s not doing any good. I mean we’re about to fucking pull the boy’s arm off, and then Connor gets grabbed. None of us could do anything but watch as these men, people we knew, and the boy…“ Sid stops to dry his eyes. “I’ll never forget his face, they’re all screaming as they’re pulled into this, this thing no larger than a kid’s toy ball. And then they were gone. The orb too. Nothing left of them.”
Misha could feel the tears in her eyes as he told her this story. She could all but experience the pain of this man in front of her. As far as she knew, he had never told this story before.
“We didn’t know what to do. The chamber was quiet. No one moved or said a word for what felt like, what must have been minutes. And then it appears again. People were up and running, looking for the nearest exit, trampling over each other to get to their ships. Everyone but me. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop looking at it. So here I am, on the deck just inches from this thing, waiting for something to happen, and their guy shoots out of this miniature sun. His skin is smoking, his clothes are full of burn marks, and he’s covered in sweat.
“Then the next guy appears just like the first. And now, everyone in the room is paying attention again.” Sid takes a swallow, finishing the bourbon. She watches his hand reach into the drawer while continuing the story.
“And then the boy shoots out right at me, knocking me over. I mean he completely knocks the wind out of me. I hold him while I catch my breath. His skin is burning up, but he’s shivering. I try to shake him awake, but it’s no good, he’s unconscious—out cold. Then I see it in his hand. He’s holding a pistol, with this death grip. Not the same toy he disappeared with.” He hands her a photograph. “This pistol, and he’s not letting go.”
Misha looked at the old picture in disbelief. Maybe he needs to lay off the books. No. I believe him. I don’t know why, but I do. “What about Connor?” She was on the edge of the bed impatiently waiting to hear the rest.
“I don’t know. The orb disappeared and we never saw him again.” Sid sat up straight and poured another round of bourbon over what was left of his ice.
“But the stories say you two were the only survivors.” She looked at him, wondering what to think of the man before her now. What aren’t you telling me?
He stood up and tucked the chair back under the desk made from a tree that went extinct long ago. “You said it yourself. It’s a legend, a myth.”
You’re hiding something her instincts told her. “So how do I find him?”
He walked towards the hatch and opened it. “You go to Earth. My source says he boarded a cargo ship that’s headed there now.
“He’s a danger Misha. To himself and everyone around him. Be careful. Bring him back here.”
She met his eyes for the last time as he shut the hatch between them. Part of her wanted to see her old friend again. And the rest of me is completely terrified.
Well? What do you guys think? Tell me the cold hard truth.