So, I was doing the rewrite after the crazy NaNoWriMo crunch of November and I decided I needed a bit more content in Atlas. Something to give some context and life to the universe I’ve created. Not to worry this is not purely filler. The characters in the following chapter excerpt do not reveal anything about Kodiak if you have not read it yet and do not give anything away about Atlas (I made sure to cut it off before I do). So if you don’t mind a bit of reading … enjoy this Atlas: Infinity Verge II teaser:
Inner System near the Quintar Prime system
EFNF Allied Mining Freighter – Icarus
Year 2973: 5th Cycle, Week 19: 03:00 hours
The large vessel floated through the dark system a few parsecs towards the center of the Quintar Prime galactic ring. The inner systems were still mostly uncharted, but ambitious captains still took their ships out looking for anything that could help humanity and the Quintarran people survive. There was always the threat of EXO attacks or pirates, but the rewards were great too. The human captain of the mining freighter Icarus stood on the bridge of his ship and watched the Transteel viewer. He listened to the voice of his second in command.
“How did you find this place Ivan?” A lithe woman with greasy black hair and too-high cheekbones sat down unceremoniously. “It is as dark as the devil’s–”
“Ima, please,” Captain Ivan Straught cut her off. “I’m thinking.”
“Not much else to do I guess,” Ima Straught said.
The duo had joined the Exodus Union years ago when they were new starship captains. The EU had needed mining vessels and they were offering a new beginning. Ivan and Ima were adventurers and still rookie miners, but they had been selected. Ima thought back to when they’d joined and wished she had declined the offer. She knew that if she declined Ivan would have too.
“No,” Ivan began. “There is not much else to do.”
“We could…” Ima let it hang.
“The crew,” Ivan said.
He didn’t need to turn around to see the disappointed frown on his wife’s face. She had always been forward and he had always been shy. He understood her needs, but sometimes he didn’t feel in the mood. It was a frustrating thing for him and for Ima. He shook his head trying to get his mind back on what he had been focusing on before. Each kilometer they covered mapped the systems in this galaxy. Each mapped system created a better understanding of what resources and worlds were available.
The particular mission of the Icarus was to scout unknown systems and build new routes. Ivan saw opportunity in charting new systems. Doing this he would have the first opportunity to mine untapped resources. The Icarus was equipped to handle solid metals as hard as magnesium. The primary function of his vessel was to mine the tough metal so important in creating alloys. He didn’t understand what the scientists did with the metals he mined. He didn’t much care what they did with it as long as he got paid.
Ima, bless her soul, he thought.
Ivan thought of the hardships he had put his wife through and the long stretches of lonely space he dragged her through. He was amazed every cycle that she stayed with him. He was an angry and belligerent idiot at the best of times. Ivan knew he was a jerk most of the time and more often than not his wife was the recipient for his harsh tongue. He had never hit her, but he sometimes hated how he acted. Ima, of course, was the very soul of patience. She had shown him enough grace that he loved her all the more for it.
“What are you thinking?” Ima leaned back and put her feet up on the console.
“I’m a jerk,” Ivan chuckled.
“No argument here,” Ima said glibly. “But you’re my jerk.”
Ivan chuckled again then turned back to the Transteel viewer. A small blip beckoned from the screen. Ivan looked up and saw the indicator that a small asteroid field had been located less than a few light-seconds away.
“Egad! We’ve got something Ima,” Ivan twisted on his heel and ran to his captain’s chair. “Go and get the crew for me love”
Ima grinned, “I love seeing you like this,” she stood and moved to the comms station. “Attention crew, prepare for asteroid docking. Prime the mining lasers.”
Ima looked back to her husband and smiled. Ivan didn’t notice as he was focused on restarting the primary engines for a burn towards the asteroid belt. The boyish excitement on his face brought another smile to Ima.
I love that idiot, she thought.
Inner System Asteroid Belt
EFNF Allied Mining Freighter – Icarus
Year 2973: 5th Cycle, Week 19: 07:21 hours
The Icarus’ engines were powered down and the vessel was anchored to a large asteroid. The mining laser extended from the belly of the squarish freighter and bored into the rock. The cargo hold sat open with the doors folded under. Large electromagnets drew up the lasered minerals.
Ivan sat in his captain’s chair on the command deck with his hands behind his head and watched the statistics. Power output from the laser and electromagnets and the amount of mineral weight collected. They would have to review the molecular structure of the minerals once they were collected. Ima would work to get the system to sort through the mineral content as they made their way back to the Quintar Prime system.
For several more hours the crew maintained and reviewed the laser output. Ivan and Ima took time for themselves while the crew worked. The starless system had taken a toll on everyone and none more than Ivan and Ima. As they both dressed the klaxons began to blare across the ship.
Ivan pulled on his shirt and rushed to the command deck. He rushed into see the entire Transteel screen flashing red.
CRITICAL SYSTEM MALFUNCTION
CRITICAL SYSTEM MALFUNCTION
HEAT SHIELDING AT 15%
“Flak!” Ivan ran to the captain’s chair and punched in commands into the console. “What the flak is going on down there!?”
The comms crackled, but no one responded. Ivan changed the settings and switched to the emergency shutoff. He input his credentials and hit the shut off. The Transteel viewer reverted to its normal view and displayed a confirmation that the lasers had been shut down. Ivan tried the comms again.
“Crew, anyone there? This is Captain Straught, do you read?”
The comms continued to crackle and the only response he received was static. He switched comms to Ima’s WritCom, “Love, I need you up here now!”
“I’m on my way, cool it,” Ima barked.
“I’ll flakking cool it when I know what the flak is going on! Where the flak are you?” Ivan snapped.
“Right flakking behind you,” Ima said aloud.
“I need a navi-scan of the surrounding area. I need to know what the flak happened out there!”
“Calm your shit and don’t get all glitched,” Ima sat down at the scanning station.
Ivan might have been able to figure out the scanners, but in truth he wasn’t great with anything but having hunches and barking orders. It was Ima who did the real directing and navigation. Ivan had the mining crew to do the work and his wife to get them to the right place. He was the taskmaster.
The Transteel viewer changed again to display the LIDAR scanning. A moment later they read a second signature near the bow of the Icarus. As far as he could tell it looked to be a gunship. The Icarus wasn’t much smaller than a full-fledged destroyer. However, that was because it was all cargo and mining lasers. The nature of a mining ship meant that it really had no defensive capability save for a rear kinetic turret and the mining lasers. The crew all had access to arms for protection against boarding, but not while they were outside mining. There was a two-fold reason for that. First, it kept the ability to mutiny relatively low. Second, most pirates waited until a ship finished mining before attacking.
Ivan thought about the ship on the asteroid beneath them, if they’re pirates they’re an odd sort of pirate.
“Ima,” Ivan said breathlessly. “Open comms with that gunship.”
“You sure about that babe? EXO virus spreads through comms,” Ima warned.
“If they were EXO we’d be dead and that’d be a Vulture back out there,” Ivan said.
Ima considered it for a moment then nodded, “I am hailing them now love,” she paused. “You have a channel.”
“This is Captain Ivan Straught of the EFNF Mining Vessel Icarus. Identify yourself.”
Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,