The release will definitely be late, but at least you'll be able to read chapters here as they're released regularly. Anyone who is contributing $7.00 or more will get their copy early. I like how this book is turning out, so much, in fact that I want it to be the most polished, well written novel in the series, which will take extra time. I hope you can see the quality of the story in the posts here.
Highshield will go on hiatus for a while, but will return. As Highshield goes away, you'll see even more Spinward Fringe here. At least one story from Broadcast 11 will be told on this site, and I'm eager for you to see it.
Now, without any further delay, here's chapter 1.
Spinward Fringe Broadcast 11: Revenge
Copyright © 2017 by Randolph Lalonde
The Last Man
For fourteen days everyone thought Ensign Zac Levine died in the blast that put a hole through the port side of The Revenge. Jake looked through that through-and-through wound more times than he could count as he worked with the rescue crews, interfacing with the bridge from where he was, digging for crewmembers in the rubble. Whatever weapon was used didn’t just cut a hole through their ship, but once it burned through the hull it forced material away from it, widening that wound.
Three hundred and eighteen people were dead, and Jake thought they were finished with the rescue effort until that morning. Several meters away from where the medical bay once was, faint life signs were detected by a cleanup crew. A concentrated scan revealed that it was Ensign Zac Levine, that he was intact inside his sealed suit, and that he was in deep stasis.
Jake led the effort as the crew cut their way to him, and after nearly two hours he saw a fully intact hand clad in a white glove. “We’ll get you out of there, Doc,” Jake said, making a mistake that Zac would have corrected if he were conscious. He was a medical technician, not an actual doctor, but he was the most highly trained medical officer the Revenge had.
They got closer to getting him loose, and that meant that the cutting slowed down, or at least it always seemed that way. Jake worked with his team, helping them cut through a twisted support beam that, from its markings, was from several meters down a hallway that no longer existed.
Everyone was still sealed in their suits, the section they were in was open to space. If any of the rescue team leaned back, they could see through the top and bottom of the ship’s hull. The walls of the standard wormhole they travelled through lensed the stars, turning and stretching the light passing through the threshold.
The support came loose, and the rescue team handed the debris back so it could be handled by the pair of crewmembers who was assigned to salvage whatever they could while they cut and pulled broken pieces of their ship away.
Jake examined the warped deck plates in front of him and compared it to the scans on his heads up display. “These must have protected him from most of the concussive damage, but they’re not doing anything now.” He said as he concluded that it was safe to pull the metal plates away.
“Hey, guys,” Zac said groggily. “How long was I under?”
“Longer than you expected, I bet,” Jake said. The rescue team stripped enough loose debris away to reveal most of Zac.
He shared his cocoon of metal and plastic with one of his narrow-bodied assistant bots. The pipe-thin body had been bent slightly, and the head was on his chest, still attached. Zac’s hand rested on it as though he was comforting a child.
“Can you move? It’s safe, just start slow.”
“Yeah,” Zac replied, “one sec.” He carefully handed the body and attached head of his robotic assistant to Jake, who passed it back to the next rescuer. “She’s still intact, just in power-saving mode because she got detached from her base, so don’t recycle her.”
“No problem,” Jake said, attaching a tether to Zac’s chest then taking his hands. “Come on out.”
“I’ve got a little stasis fog in the head, but I’ll be good to join in on the rescue effort in a few minutes,” he said as he was gently pulled from the debris.
“You’re our last rescue,” Jake said. “We thought you were dead.”
“Your medical bay is gone, man,” said one of the rescue workers behind Jake. “Sorry. But hey, Nurse Thingy survived,” he said, holding up the stalk and head of Zac’s robotic assistant.
“Careful, she might not have real feelings, but it took me nine years to program her,” Zac said as he gingerly took the robot’s remains from his rescuer. He looked through the hole in the upper hull, then the lower hull and shook his head. “We lost a lot of people. Is there anyone I can help?”
“The survivors are stable,” Jake said. “But they could use someone with a better trained eye. You’re lucky we found you. Rescue efforts ended yesterday, you could have been trapped in there until we got back to Tamber. The transmission systems in your suit were destroyed when you got buried in this mess.”
“Thanks, Captain,” Zac said.
“Thank Stephanie and her people when you get the chance. She had her people do a section by section scan with the new sensor array this morning.”