I like this section. I felt like I got back into the minds of the characters. Note: there is a reference to Fife’s time spent in virtual. I plan on writing the scene that is referenced and slotting it in earlier upon revision. For anyone new to my site, this post is part of an ongoing freewrite experiment that I’m keeping up as 1: a promise to myself to create, and 2: a break from revisions. Enjoy.
Fife sat and stared across the tarmac. Dunes of regolith dust bunched against the edges of the landing field, blasted back by ancient starship engines, frozen now on the windless lunar surface. The bubble domes of the port facilities waited, blank-faced, not so much as an amber light showing that the building had power.
“Why don’t you show them you trust them? Walk on out,” Ohnsy suggested. The warden sat beside the open hatch, back to the outer wall, space-suited legs crossed out in front of her, fishbowl helmet leaning forward as if interested, in contrast to her bored expression.
Fife ran her tongue against the backs of her teeth, deep in thought. “I don’t know who they are,” she said.
“You don’t know me,” Ohnsy said, “but you let me control Silver Pod.”
“I think you’ll agree that the situation with the missiles was a bit more time critical.”
Beryl edged around the back of the bay in his own space suit, keeping out of what he thought were the lines of sight that unseen snipers might have on the open bay door. “There is a time constraint,” he pointed out.
The anomaly. Post-humans.
Fife looked over her shoulder at Beryl. The high lights of the air-evacuated bay glared off his helmet. “I don’t know what to do for you. I haven’t got any tricks that can stop the them.”
“Didn’t think you did.” Beryl reached up to scratch his face, bumped his hand on his face plate, lowered his hand sheepishly. “The sooner you get me into another ship the better. I’ll make a run for it. They won’t bother you.”
“How do you know?” Ohnsy asked aggressively.
Fife ignored her. “I won’t abandon you,” she said to Beryl.
Beryl’s disbelief came through with a cross between laughter and a hacking cough. Something dislodged from his throat and wetly hit his mic. His hand rose to wipe his face again, stopped. He said, “Very noble of you, but that’s ridiculous. There’s nothing anyone can do.”
“He’s right,” Ohnsy said. “If we had anything that could stand between them and what they want, we would be them. Presumably.”
Presumably. She hoped that some of the Post-humans’ mystique was overblown for intimidation purposes. Even then, hope wasn’t a plan.
She barely heard Besh walk up behind her. It was more of a sense of another presence, an aura pushing against the edges of her proprioception. He put a hand on her back, a surprisingly compassionate gesture for a person who had barely known human touch.
The contact took her back to a place she had only visited in virtual, a besieged mall. A stranger’s hand, fingers splayed beneath her shoulder blades. Another stranger holding onto her shoulder for support. Her own left hand braced on the person in front of her, her other hand holding a bat. Emotions associated with the memory flooded through her. “What’s worthwhile?” she asked softly.
Ohnsy and Beryl looked at each other. Besh walked past and looked out the open bay door. He was naked as a baby, comfortable in so many different environments. He had an ear piece and throat mic so he could still communicate with the others despite the lack of air to transmit sound.
“What’s important?” Fife asked again.
“Are you talking to me?” Beryl asked.
“I’m talking to all of you.”
No one spoke. The silence stretched. Fife said, “Beryl, you and I spent years in virtual. Some would say that doesn’t matter because it’s all fake. The Post-humans live in some kind of other dimension or quantum digital world or something. I can’t say how real it is. Is it more important? Less? What’s important?”
“Protecting my ship,” Ohnsy proclaimed.
“Why?” Fife snapped.
“It’s my duty,” Ohnsy shot back just as sharp.
“Because I was made to protect it.”
Besh nodded, “We were all made for some purpose or another.”
“That’s right,” Fife agreed, “Made by other minds, or made by change and circumstance. Back in virtual I found a family of sorts. When I got out, there was just you, Beryl. It matters to me that I stick with you, even at the cost of my life.”
“I would like to do the same,” Besh said.
Beryl put up his hands, pushing away the support. “You people hardly know me. You can’t do this.”
“Then you’ll be glad to know that I’m out.” Ohnsy punched the ground and bounced to her feet in the low gravity. “The sooner you all go die in some fool mission against the PH’s, the better.” She headed out of the bay.
Fife scrambled to her feet. “You’re not going anywhere yet.”
Ohnsy faced her, jabbed a finger at the ceiling. “They’re coming and when they get here they may very well pop my ship open like some cheap plasticware and take what they want from inside it. We don’t matter to them!”
Fife sighed. Ohnsy was right and Fife didn’t want that scenario to play out. Perhaps it was time to walk across that exposed tarmac, into the teeth of whatever or whoever had tried to shoot them down.
“Hey guys,” Besh called out from where he leaned in the open door. “Someone’s coming.”
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