Copyright (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0): 2017 David Noë
Co-authors/players involved: David Noë, Laura Loolaid, Kieyotie McDermott, Drew Eckhardt
The original forum thread ran from May 2014 to Oct 2014.
Read more about the Forum Leakage project here: http://bit.ly/2gkGNrm
Read previous post in this series: http://bit.ly/2zwBInz
And now onward to part 6!
Corey struggled with the unknown vessel’s outer hatch. He glanced at the tow crews who had stopped to re-align the floating wreckage – again. The irritation gave Corey strength, and he yanked the hatch off with one frustrated motion.
He stepped inside, looked around, and listened. Silence.
Begrudgingly, Corey allowed himself to rely upon his enhanced senses, and followed the faint shuffling sounds deeper into the shuttle. He found a human figure strapped to the upside-down pilot seat above his head.
“Nice shuttle.” He climbed over some burnt electronics. “Love the end-of-days decor!” Through the age-old command-stress crust, Corey’s younger self was asserting itself.
The figure uttered some words but the headgear muffled them all.
Corey examined the figure in the chair, and noticed how the safety harness was cutting into the protective suit. It also became very clear that this was not his partner Trouble.
“Oh. Sorry, I was expecting someone else… Hi.”
Corey dropped down and stumbled outside. He peeled a torn bit of metal off the scrap ship, then returned to the pilot to cut her down. Before severing the final straps, Corey readied himself and caught the stranger.
They made it out to the daylight and sat atop the wreckage. “So…” Corey offered his new acquaintance a smoke. “What brings you to Ar-Kaos? Besides us I mean. Fame? Fortune? A taste of the high-life?” He took a heavy drag on his own smoke and glanced back to the shore.
“… expecting someone else.”
The voice drifted away and got lost in a jumble of ethereal noises. Then there was light – proper daylight. There was sky, there was water, she was breathing. And then there was this guy, waving somewhere, talking apparently – she couldn’t quite concentrate to make any sense of it. She fumbled towards a shoulder pocket and pulled out a small multitool. With some effort she was able to break her visor’s seal and pop it off.
The guy was still talking.
“Those,” she croaked.
She pointed at his smoke.
“I got those. My shop… Paper… Licorice.”
She gratefully accepted the smoke handed to her. She only smoked on occasion, but this here certainly qualified as “occasion”. She leaned back and flicked some ash away.
“Who were you expecting then?”
His eyes narrowed, “I… I’m not sure anymore… I figured my old buddy had tagged along from Tucker 9, but instead I’ve met two new people and an old friend who has no business being here…” He took another deep toke and watched as the wind took the fresh ash before glancing back at the woman, “Name’s Corey… Corey Henderson, Commander of the Alesha Last Defense Flee…” He trailed off before giving a re-assuring smile, “Eh… Just Corey, how about you?”
She watched the last embers fade atop the debris. Peeling gloves away, she extended her right hand.“Call me Smith,” she said. “I’m sorry I jumped your ship.”
Standing on the mountain, he watched the ship crash into the water. It was happening again. Things were different this time, of course. But they always were. He watched Corey Henderson climb from the wreck and thought of killing him right there to save time. But satisfying as it would be to watch him die, Corey was integral to making things right. Hopefully, the variations this time would allow him the opportunity to save-
It didn’t matter.
The man turned back to his fighter. Once again he had the chance to make a difference. His ship rose from the ground, and faded from sight.
He had some time to see how things play out. The Alexis was here. Then again, Boats was not: this time he had run harder, faster, and had racked up a bigger debt; in this incarnation the debtors would claim more than just an ear or a finger. He had thought about stepping in to replace Boats, but too many changes in the timeline would prove just as counterproductive as too few.
Br’er Rose walked through the junkyard.The smell of hot metal, old fluids soaked into the earth, and… something always made her to enjoy these places. Many saw them as graveyards, but, unlike with ships, taking pieces from a long dead corpse wouldn’t bring another another person to life. She knew what she was looking for, she had seen it before – but it wasn’t where she expected to see it. Not surprising, with the way things had a habit of changing.
Then she saw it – in a back corner, sitting crossways atop two others.
Mallory had run into an asteroid field, her drunken pilot relying too heavily on the autopilot; Yolanda’s crew hadn’t bothered with the basic filtration maintenance, had all asphyxiated before she crashed into the Lindos Space Station; Alexis was the trifecta, done in by a simple compression dampener. Between all three ships however, there were enough parts to put two into service. Now that she had found them, she hurried back to the salvage office and made the purchase.
Three men surveyed the damage on Tucker 9. Even without uniforms, their conduct was unmistakably military.
“So he finally made it?”
“That was the message, Commander.”
“It appears to be the case, sir.” The second subordinate stepped closer. “I ran some interviews and looked over the security scans. Despite all the false alarms so far, it looks like this time Corey’s really awakened.”
“Thank you, Captain.” The tall man gave the ruined city another look, wishing he had been able to prevent the loss of life. But certain events had to flow a certain way. He turned back to the others. “It’s about time.”