Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Out of Sight… Out of Mine…
By Shari Armstrong
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Startled awake, Keithâ€™s head echoed the sound off the bunk just above his head. He pulled his hand away from his head and saw blood on his palm. â€śGreatâ€¦.â€ť He grabbed the nearest pair of coveralls and pulled them on over his skivvies. Lights dimmed and yellow lights along the top of the wall began to glow. He started to jog, but the throbbing in his skull made him slow down again.
â€ťAttention, all crewmembers, yellow alert. Beta crew, please report to duty stations ASAP.â€ť
Keith ducked through the hatch, careful not to smack himself in the head again. He wiped at the blood now trickling down his cheek. â€śAnybody here?â€ť He grabbed a package of gauze off a nearby exam table, ripping it open with his teeth, applied it to his head, hoping to slow the blood flow.
A nurse emerged from the back, looking nearly as frazzled as her hair, which was falling out of its on-duty bun. She noticed the blood soaking up the gauze, and reached for more. â€śLieutenant? What happened?â€ť
He grinned, â€śThe bunk was harder than my head.â€ť Grin turned to grimace as a wave of nausea and dizziness hit him and he dropped into a chair.
â€śI see.â€™ She placed more gauze on top. â€śLet me get a cold pack.â€ť She gingerly placed it on top of the gauze, and moved his hand to hold it. â€śHowâ€™s your vision?â€ť
â€ťSo far, only seeing one of you, but my stomach isnâ€™t very happy with me.â€ť He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
The ship suddenly lurched, causing Keithâ€™s stomach to revolt into the nearby trashcan. â€śWhat was that?â€ť
â€ťAsteroids. Thereâ€™s been some hull damage, but thankfully just in the cargo hold. Itâ€™s been sealed off and repair crews are already working on it.â€ť
â€ťAsteroids? They must be huge to rock the ship like that. Howâ€™d they miss spotting them on the scope?â€ť
â€śIâ€™ve been too busy patching people up to find out.â€ť She handed him a pill and a glass. â€śTake this, itâ€™ll settle your stomach.â€ť
He swallowed as she began to clean up his wound and seal it with liquid stitches. â€śThat should hold. Take it easy for a couple days. Come back in five.â€ť She typed some notes on her computer. â€śIf you have any problems before that, come in immediately.â€ť
â€śHere, you guys analyze these the repair crew found in the hold.â€ť Stevens dropped the crate on the lab table. â€śIâ€™ve got to get back and help move more debris out of the way. The captain wants to know why we never saw these things coming.â€ť
Keith looked at the box of rocks sitting in front of him and his fellow science officer, Jefferies. â€śSo thatâ€™s what rang my bell.â€ť He picked up a small piece with a pair of tongs, turned it over, and put it on a tray.
Jefferies got another piece out and took it to his side of the lab. â€śI thought the nurse told you to take it easy?â€ť
â€ťShe did. If I donâ€™t feel well, Iâ€™ll go back to see herâ€¦ er see the doctor.â€ť He grinned. â€śIâ€™m fine. Really. She gave me some pain meds, and they are doing the trick.â€ť
Jefferies let out a low whistle. â€śHey, check this out.â€ť
Keith joined him and looked through the viewer. â€śSynthetic rocks?â€ť
â€ťYup. Look closer.â€ť
Increasing the magnification, he soon saw micro circuitry imbedded in the outer layer of the â€śrockâ€ť. â€śCloaking tech? Why would anybody cloak a chunk of fake rock?â€ť
Keith took a segment of rock, and tried to chip off a piece. It exploded, sending the chisel across the room, sticking in the wall. â€śYowch!â€ť Keith shook his hand out, and then looked at the new bruise already forming on his hand. â€śThis just isnâ€™t my day.â€ť
â€śCloaked mines? Disguised as small asteroids?â€ť The captain ran his fingers through his hair.
â€ťSeems like a bit of overkill to me, one or the other would be enough to cause problems in the spacing lanes.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™ll keep digging, sir. We havenâ€™t found a clue to the manufacturer yet.â€ť
â€śThe bigger question is,â€ť the captain paused to look at the view screen in front of him, â€śwho would want to mine this part of space? and why?â€ť
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