Welcome to Wednesday Briefs! Last week I introduced the first part of Chapter 1 from my upcoming sci-fi romance novel, Regeneration. I’m continuing where I left off, with the introduction of more new characters.
Don’t forget to check out the other Briefers’ works this week, links below:-
Regeneration – Chapter 1, part 2
I exercised until I was exhausted, then showered and dressed in fresh clothes. I’d just finished when another sound drew my attention. The whine of a ship passed overhead, and I grabbed my pistol again and raced to the door, my heart pounding. I opened the door carefully and gazed in all directions before I decided it was safe to step outside. The creatures didn’t like the sun and it currently blazed down onto the dusty plain surrounding the facility, hellishly bright and painful to the eyes. I walked a few steps from the building, holding onto the cable attached to the outer door handle to prevent me being thrown off my feet by the gusts of wind that lifted swirls of dust from the ground. Tilting my head back and shielding my eyes from both sun and dust, I squinted at the sky.
A few hundred meters above, a ship turned in a slow flat spin, its underside parallel to the ground. The stricken ship shuddered ominously, tilted one way, then leveled out again. The vehicle appeared similar to the Explorer 9—one of the more recent models, with its smooth curves and reflective surfaces, powered by the same laser propulsion system as its predecessor. Its struggle continued for several minutes with the gap between land and ship gradually lessening. My heart in my mouth, I waited for the imminent crash, hoping the travelers would make it safely and that their ship wouldn’t be too badly damaged. After six months, finally a possibility of escape had arrived.
In a few more seconds it was over. The craft rolled to the side and dropped out of sight behind the facility, its impact making the ground tremble beneath my feet. I sucked in a breath and held it, imagining the possible damage to the ship. It hadn’t fallen far and the Explorer series was designed to withstand heavy impact. Surely the craft would still be serviceable and its crew reasonably unharmed.
I gazed around me as a flurry of yellowish clouds scurried ahead of the wind. In a minute or two they’d block the sun. If any panthers were in the vicinity, they’d smell flesh and come looking for its source. I stayed where I was and waited, wondering what the ship’s inhabitants’ chances of survival were when they emerged from the ship.
I considered fetching more weapons and heading out to meet them, but I had no way of knowing who they were, or where they’d come from. Walking into potential danger didn’t appeal, as desperate as I was for company and transport.
The sky darkened and I moved back into the doorway, pulling the pistol free of my pants. Priming it to prepare for potential attack, I repeatedly glanced left and right. There was no sign of the cats yet, but the cloud cover was set to stay for a while, and it was only a matter of time before one or more of them came out.
Eventually, I heard a sound, faint above the howl of the wind. Voices, thin and disjointed, reached my straining ears. The first figure appeared around the far corner of the building, moving in a low crouch in an effort not to be blown over in the gale. I couldn’t make out whether it was a male or female, but as it made its way along the side of the structure, several more followed. I counted five in total—a surprisingly small crew for an Explorer. Perhaps some had died in the crash after all. The relief was that they clearly weren’t soldiers. Even after so many years, I still feared I’d be found one day, and punished for my escape from my creators.
I lifted a hand to draw attention to myself. One of the group saw me and waved. I narrowed my eyes as they teared up from the cooler blasts coming at me from the side. The leader of the small party was a woman, slim, brown-haired, and armed with a similar weapon to my own. Behind her walked a smaller, red-haired girl who could have been in her mid-teens. She was the one who’d waved. A youngish blond man gripped her arm, presumably to help her stay on her feet. The final two were both male, one gray-haired and stiff-faced, aiming a weapon at the man beside him. This one held his cuffed hands in front of him, but he looked capable of breaking free of the restraints if he so wished. His huge frame appeared well over two meters, and muscles bulged in his shoulders and chest. As the group came closer, I studied his dark close-cropped hair and stubbly chin, and guessed his age to be around thirty. All of them, except for the cuffed man, wore the thin, heatproof suits common for traveling, and carried backpacks on their shoulders. The prisoner wore combats similar to mine, with a dirty sleeveless T-shirt and heavy boots.
I lowered my pistol to my side as they came within speaking distance, even though the brunette’s weapon remained trained on my head.