Welcome to another week of Wednesday Briefs! Briefers post a short story or chapter between 500 & 1000 words, often based on a prompt given.
The other briefers this week are below, so don’t forget to check out their work:-
Regeneration – Chapter 1, part 1
I lay back on my bunk with a sigh. I’d always wanted to become an explorer and I’d achieved that at least. But my arrival in this hellhole had been accidental—an electrical malfunction in the Explorer 9 craft I’d been traveling on, throwing the vehicle off course and leading to a crash-landing. S.K.431’s barren landscape, interrupted here and there by small waterholes and clusters of spiky-leaved trees had little to offer, and the previous inhabitants had abandoned the place many years earlier. My crew and I had quickly dubbed the planet “Pardus”, when we’d discovered it to be infested with creatures resembling Panthera Pardus—the black panther from Earth I’d read about in history modules.
Six months had passed since we set foot on the surface of Pardus. The faces of the rest of the crew flitted through my mind, but I struggled to remember their names. Jennifer, blonde and feisty, constantly fighting off the attentions of a dark guy with a shaved head, and a pale-faced redheaded man. Zander, rugged and muscular, with multi-colored dreadlocks. The ship’s captain, graying and tired. Several others, all gone now. None of them had been like me, and their wariness of me made it impossible for me to grow close to any of them.
I raised my eyes to the featureless metal ceiling above my bunk. The basic, old-fashioned design of the facility had surprised all of us when we arrived. A large steel construction with doors that locked or bolted, something I’d previously only read about. Logs dating back fifty years indicated the vast building had been used as a weapons factory and lab, by colonists who’d gradually spread through some of the more habitable planets in Sigma Kappa over the past couple of centuries. But the people who’d lived on Pardus were long gone, having left everything to the dust and the panthers.
There was still a water supply and power which provided light and heat. A storeroom held a vast supply of dried sustenance packs—the artificial combination of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals which many people lived on. It was all I’d ever eaten, and now I had a seemingly endless supply and no one to share it with me. I’d tried contacting other worlds using the dated computer equipment, but I hadn’t received any response. I didn’t know whether the equipment I used was faulty, or whether no one had picked up my messages. It had been pointless anyway—it wasn’t as if the previous occupants of the facility hadn’t already tried.
A sharp noise penetrated my thoughts and I jerked upright. I realized it was only the outer door of the building crashing in a sudden gust of wind. The weather on Pardus was unpredictable, with winds rising to over two hundred kilometers per hour in mere seconds.
Snatching up my weapon—a ZM10 laser pistol—I tucked it into the back of my pants and went to secure the door before one of the predatory felines discovered the entrance. I swore under my breath at my carelessness in not securing the door properly. My vigilance and speed had allowed me to survive as long as I had, but perhaps subconsciously I’d hoped to invite trouble, just for something to do. Life stranded in the facility was little better than the laboratory prison in which I’d spent the first fifteen years of my life.
I returned to the room I slept in and looked at myself in the mirror. Some of my hair had escaped from my braid, and I untied the thong on the end of it, allowing it to unravel. The silken strands fell around me like a curtain, almost reaching my waist. It reminded me of Maya, the woman in the lab who’d cared for me when I was young. She’d told me she was a descendant of a Korean family, dating back centuries. She wore her hair in a long braid and I’d copied the style. Physically, I looked different to her; I was told I was Caucasian. I considered my features bland beneath my pale skin, but my hair was the one thing I liked about myself. Its blue-black sheen mirrored Maya’s.
She’d been the one person in that lab who’d called me by the name I’d chosen for myself. Her family name was Kim and I’d liked it, so I’d asked if I could use it too. To everyone else, I’d been simply R6—the sixth born regenerate of the batch of ten experiments.
I wondered what had happened to Maya. It was years since I’d escaped and she’d been there then, taking care of the newest creations. For all I knew, she was still at the lab now.
I pushed away my moroseness and retied my hair, then changed out of my combat pants into shorts. I spent a lot of my time working out, keeping my lithe body fit and flexible. Part of the building, an area over fifty meters across and twice as long, held rows of steel benches and equipment, the design clearly for the manufacture of weaponry. A network of metal pipes crisscrossing overhead formed an ideal workout zone, and I used these either for simple pull ups, or more complicated gymnastics.