Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Zoology ~ Episode Five

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)


Truro scans the docking list. Sayonara Space Port, or the soon to be Alimentorum Deep Space Docking Platform Twelve, as the virtual adblurbs keep announcing, is fast becoming too busy for her liking. As soon as the big corporations moved in, spacedrubs like her get pushed out. It's all regulations and red tape. If you haven't got an intergalaxy permit or a clean space-rad level, they just don't want to know. Shame as well, she was beginning to feel at home, waiting bar at the dock hotels and filling in shifts on the freight shuttles, not to mention the occasional illegal boxing match down in the reprocessing plant. She could make a few thousand scads on a good night.
The docking list is short and everything looks pretty tame, mainly inter-galaxy freighters hauling processed food proteins or water wagons. Then one ship catches her eye, the Saturn Anne II, soon departing. She's pretty sure that was the name of the ship the scientist propping up the bar last night said he was travelling on, what was his name? Hart.. Harp. She finds the dock code and punches it into her wristnav. If she was quick, she could hitch a ride out of here!

Truro stares up at the vast looming hulk of the ship, she could just pick out a few letters of the name, SAT AN in the gloom. She sighs and guesses it must be the one. Her luck is in, there is no one in sight on the dock and one of the exhaust vents is within reach. She rummages through her jacket for a universal codelock and deftly unpicks the inspection access panel. Once inside she relocks the vent, shimmies quickly down the access tunnel and drops neatly on her feet onto the service deck above the cargo hold. Instantly she realises her mistake, it's an Ark ship, not a personnel transporter. Harp wasn't travelling through the galaxies as she thought, he was travelling to a new galaxy.

Across the cargo bay sirens start to sound and warning lights flash, she is out of time, the lasers will fire and she will be gone, far from Sayonara, the five galaxies and all she calls home. She tries to climb back up to the exhaust vent but already she knows the lock codes will be scrolling continuously, resetting to make sure no one can do what she has just done now the lasers are firing up. She runs along the gangplank in front of her, peering down at the maze of cages and tanks in the hold below, all are still empty. There is a slim chance the hold will be flooded with a halon mix gas to suppress fire and conserve oxygen and Truro makes a quick calculation about how to survive if this is the case. There isn't time to try and find her way out of the maze of ducting and walkways, so she shimmies down to the floor below, finds the nearest open bio-cage and throws herself in it. It is barely big enough for her but it will have to do. She shuts the door and it seals tight behind her.
Truro takes a deep breath and tries to relax as the biowalls expand to form a smart-gel sponge around her, engulfing her. A mix of tranquilisers and oxygenated nutrients are pumped through the sponge as it traps her safely suspended in travel-stasis. She closes her eyes as her body gives in to the sedatives. Her last conscious thought is whether or not anyone would bother to wake a stowaway spacedrub like her on the other side of the wormhole, wherever the hell that will be.

Next chapter...

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