Title: Daisy’s Run (The Clockwork Chimera #1)
Author: Scott Baron
Publication Date: November 14th 2018
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Life in deep space could be a drag sometimes, but Daisy supposed things could have been worse. They were still alive, after all, which was always a plus in her book. Now if only she could figure out who, or what, was endangering her return home, things would be just peachy.
It had been one hell of a way to start the day––being rudely snapped from a deep cryo-sleep, and in the middle of a ship-wide crisis to boot––but Daisy was pleased to note that the ship had not decompressed, the crew hadn’t been blasted into space, and, most importantly, they hadn’t simply blown up. At least not yet. So, they had that going for them, but being stuck on a damaged ship in the inky depths of space as it limped toward Earth was not exactly the relaxing trip home she’d imagined.
With the powerful AI supercomputer guiding the craft beginning to show some disconcerting quirks of its own, and its unsettling cyborg assistant nosing into her affairs, Daisy’s unease was rapidly growing. Add to the mix a crew of mechanically-enhanced humans, any one of whom she suspected might not be what they seemed, and Daisy found herself with a sense of pending dread tickling the periphery of her mind.
Something was very much not right––she could feel it in her bones. The tricky part now was going to be figuring out what the threat was, before it could manifest from a mere sinking feeling in her gut into a potentially deadly reality.
“Captain, what happened? Mal woke up everyone.”
“I know. Impact on the port side. Sensors are down, and there’s fire on board.”
“Are the engines all right? I can head down there—”
“Barry’s already on it. They seem to be untouched, but we’ve had a few artificial gravity fluctuations, so he’s going to examine the pulse feeds. Once he’s done there, I’m having him do an EVA outside to check the collection panels for damage.”
The Váli, unlike most ships, possessed an unusual secondary propulsion system, one that allowed for extremely long-range travel without draining power. While the standard fusion engines would provide basic propulsion and maneuverability, the collection panels would gather cosmic energy and solar radiation when deployed, gradually filling a series of reserve power stores, while also directly feeding a supplementary pulse drive.
Without the resistance of an atmosphere, this system allowed the ship to progressively ramp up its speed over time. It also allowed, should an emergency occur, for several short, but intense, bursts of speed. The only drawback being such an act would drain the entire system and require quite some time to recharge.
“Captain, what about the shuttle?” Reggie asked.
“Impact was up top, so it was protected by the body of the ship. Good thing it’s mounted upside-down to the bottom. Unfortunately, that means our comms and navigation array are what took a beating. How are the others coming?”
“I saw Vincent and Finn gearing up. Do we know where the fire is?”
“Negative. We have to do a full-ship check, starting with compartments in proximity of the damaged area. Where the hell is Gustavo? We’re flying blind here.”
“Here, Captain,” Gus called from the airlock door. The command center’s lights reflected off the exposed metal patch of his skull near his cybernetic eye. The metal, like Tamara’s arm, smoothly blended into his skin. Whatever had happened to him, they’d done extensive repairs, including not just his skull and eye, but part of his ear as well. The navigator slid into his seat.
“Plug in,” Captain Harkaway barked. “No wireless, it’s glitching. Go hard-line and tell me what you can see.”
Gustavo pulled a high-capacity data cable from his station and plugged it into the slot at the base of his skull.
“I see where Mal’s problem is, sir. Several relays near Starboard Seven have been damaged. Possible fire, though I can’t be sure.”
“Starboard as well? Get Swarthmore and Moore in there. Those two are going to have their work cut out for them.”
“Affirmative, sir,” he said, switching on his mic. “Daisy, Sarah, do you copy?” Gus asked over the wireless comms.
“Copy,” Daisy replied through her headset. “Sarah’s still suiting up, but she copies too.”
“Okay, listen up. Captain wants you to hit the Narrows. One of you in the exterior layer, port side near Pod Twelve, the other starboard near Pod Seven.”
“We’re on it,” she replied, clicking off the comms.
“The crawlspaces. Why does it have to be the crawlspaces?” Sarah lamented.
---About the Author:
A native Californian, Scott Baron was born in Hollywood, which he claims may be the reason for his off-kilter sense of humor. Before taking up residence in Venice Beach, he spent a few years studying abroad before settling into the film and television industry, where he has worked off and on for some time. Scott not only writes, but is also involved in indie film and theater both in the U.S. and abroad.
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