Out There

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The sound of beeping woke her from her coma like sleep. Rising her head, she looked up and after a few moments realised she didn’t have a clue where she was. Sitting up fully, she found herself to be on the floor of a long straight corridor. There was a bright blue carpet underneath her and the walls were white and arching in shape.

She stood up, using the wall to support herself as her legs were numb and shaking. Wiping her hands on the blue jumpsuit she was wearing, she looked right and left. The sound of the beeping filled the air and the light was dim. Taking in deep breaths she smelt only smoke.

Where am I? In an old building? What’s happened? She thought.

Patting herself down, she checked to make sure she was fine and also what she had on her. In one side pocket she found a small fabric case containing an incomplete tool kit. In a front pocket was a thin rectangle of glass, which reminded her of a tablet screen. In a long pocket by her right leg, she found a sheathed dagger and a square white device that looked like a mini taser gun. It had a black wrist strap and a red button on the side.

She slipped the device on to her right wrist, even though she wasn’t sure how to use it, but feeling comforted by it’s presence. The dagger she put carefully back. Double checking she had nothing else on her, she looked about again. The beeping and smell of smoke continued, but she couldn’t tell which way it was coming from.

Deciding to go to the right, she set off and followed the corridor to the end. Along the way, she passed closed doors that seemed to have no way to open them. Coming to a stop at the double doors, she looked for a way to open them. There were no buttons anywhere. Then without knowing why, she touched her fingers to a small section of the wall and it came off to reveal a hidden circuit board.

Trying not to think about it, she looked at the flashing red light and the wires snaking around. Gentle, she reached out and and touched a few things. The red light went out, changing to green and the doors before her opened.

How did I know how to do that? she pondered.

She looked at the circuits again, but couldn’t figure it out. Stepping into what was a lift, she searched for a panel of buttons and something tell her where she was. There was nothing though and the oval pale white walls were bare. The doors closed and the lift moved silently up. She felt a flutter of butterflies in her stomach.

When the lift stopped and the doors opened again a few moments later, she peered around them. There was a short corridor ahead of her, ending in a control room.

‘Hello?’ she called out.

Her voice didn’t even echo. Stepping out of the lift, she walked into the room and paused. There were two large chairs in front of four joined together panels which were covered in buttons, lights, switches, screens, dials and English words.

‘A plane cockpit?’ she muttered aloud.

She slotted in between the chairs and looked down at the largest of the screens. Her fingers reached out and she tapped it lightly. The screen came on at the same time the view before her changed. Windows that had been blacked out opened and she gasped loudly.

Wherever she had thought she was got wiped away, as her brain realised what she was seeing. Before her in a vast darkness were pin points of white that could only be distant stars.

‘Space? I’m in space!’ she cried.

She took in a few deep breaths and tried to think.

‘How? Why? Who am I?’

That questioned buzzed around her head like a fly. Sinking into the pilot’s seat, she looked for any clues, but found nothing. Remembering the main screen she looked back at it. There was a blueprint of the spaceship and sections of it were flashing red for damaged. After a few minutes of studying the map, her brain decided that the ship wasn’t that badly damaged. Also, the fire that started in a storage area had been put out by the automatic system.

She looked at the controls again and debating what to do. A few of the buttons were flashing different colors, including one that said engine autopilot which was flashing red. She touched it. tThe light turned green and she felt the rumbling of engines coming to life.

‘What do I do now?’ she uttered.

‘Destination: Raydon,’ a female computer voice cut in, ‘route set.’

‘Oh…Where is that?’ she asked.

The large screen glowed and a 3D model image of a space system appeared before her. There were a few different round planets, stars and some other strange shapes. One of the planets was flashing.

‘I guess there’ll be someone there who might be able to help me figure out what’s happened. And I can’t think of anything else to do right now. Let’s go there,’ she spoke.

‘Course inlaid. Arrival time four hours,’ the computer informed her.

‘Four hours? Isn’t there anyone else on this ship?’ she cried.

‘No. Everyone evacuated,’ the computer responded.

‘Why?’

‘Hull breach. It’s been temporary sealed.’

‘Will it be alright?’ she asked.

The computer fell silent and she watched on a smaller screen as ship blueprints and calculations went by.

‘Seal will fail in six hours,’ the computer announced.

‘We should be okay then….’

She trailed off and looked out of the window again. Stars were going by and she could just see the burning edges of a planet. She shut her eyes and tried hard to recall who she was. For a few moments, she felt it on the edge of her tongue then it was gone.

Someone out there will know who I am, she thought and then she settled back to watch space going by.

Escape

Wallpaper city, future, science fiction, sci-fi, night, lights, buildings

 

As Magtanta Soo Oolong stood in line at Zenx Star Shuttle Port, she rubbed the inside of her right wrist. Underneath the warm skin she could feel the wafer thin circle ID Chip like a foreign body. Her eyes rolled at the irony of that thought. She’d had an IDC all her life, just like everyone else at birth as the Galaxy Laws decreed. The problem was that this wasn’t her chip and she’d only received it two days ago.

The image of that event still shadowed her mind and came every time she closed her eyes. The brightly lit room, the scalpel cutting skin, a ribbon of blood, tweezers holding her chip, the healing Nanos ray, the thin scar, an injection containing her new identity and the cold floor under her bare feet.

Magtanta let her arm drop as the check gate opened and people began stepping through. Her eyes flickered to the blue hover case at her left ankle, which was programed to follow her and held a week’s worth of clothes and personal items. She then stole a last look around the boarding area.

The surrounding metal floor, walls and ceiling were covered by rotating images advertising produces and businesses. There was a seemingly never ending line of white door frame like gates facing large circle access hatches to the docked shuttles. Each gate had a slow moving line of figures before it and behind them, there was a vast space taken up by rows of chairs, merchant stalls, vending machines and a recharging station.

Keeping her head high, Magtanta firmly put one booted foot in front of the other. The familiar wobble of fear in her stomach, caused her breathing to quicken.  Feeling suffocated by the large concealing cream robe, she pulled back the massive hood, which went to rest on her shoulders and revelled her coiled up newly dyed silver hair. The fluffy robe gave nothing away of the cotton clothes she wore underneath or her slender frame. With her breath catching in her throat, her hand shot into the deep side pocket of the robe. Her fingers grasped a hard, smooth, round object and she squeezed it hard.

Magtanta knew it was dangerous to be a human, especially one from the former planet Earth. They had been deeply un-liked for generations by most of the known alien species. It was all to do with the past, she knew, their treatment of the planet, animals and each other. The governments had tried to shift the blame onto other things. However, Magtanta knew the grim truths because she had been a part of it all and now she was trying to get out.

The line stopped moving. Magtanta peered around the male centaur, whose dark brown bulky rear she had been semi-using as cover. The portal was flashing red and on the other side a security android was using a scanning device on two Coltands. The three foot, dark blue thick furred creatures, were witting in their own tongue and seemed very unhappy. There were both dressed in layers of brown leather and had matching sacks. As Magtanta watched, the security android pulled out a small glass jar from the first Coltand’s pocket. He shook the jar and there was a small flash of sparking gold light, a tiny humanoid figure flutter to the jar’s bottom.

‘Illegal,’ the security guard announced.

The Coltand pulled a face and started jabbering in very broken English, ‘come, come. Not real. Only artifice-ee, fakes. See, see. Looks-ees.’

The guard stared into the jar and then held it in the portal, which had now returned to standby. The red lights came on again.

‘Real. Illegal,’ the guard said, ‘Please follow me.’

Grumbling, the Coltands were marched away, surrounded by three other guards. Magtanta let go of a breath and saw that an asSIStant robot was hushing everyone remaining through the gate. The centaur clopped through and then it was her turn.  Relaxing her body and become coming calm, she walked under. A whispered disembodied voice tickled her ear with

the words, ‘Awentia Hah-dun-Key. Female, Astrialing. Red Leaf Isle, Astria, Gama Quadrant. Access confirmed.’

Stepping through with a sigh, Magtanta glanced at the SIS and clocked the empty face lingering on a screen embedded inside the portal’s frame. Something’s not right, Magtanta thought. She felt the hairs on her neck go up and her thoughts spiralled out of control. Is the IDC faulty/wrong? Is it something else and do they know? This was a bad idea. How many laws have I actually broken now? Buda, please get me out of this.   

‘Can I see your hand please?’

Magtanta stared, suddenly aware of movement behind her and the dead-pan eyes of the SIS. She gulped and peeked over her shoulder, but it was just the other waiting traveller; a Morph, who had taken the anthropomorphic form of a stripy orange domestic cat and was wearing a purple velvet jacket suit, complete with top hat and glasses. Magtanta, returning to SIS, opened her fisted left hand.

‘What is it?’

Frowning, Magtanta looked at her palm. The object she had been tightly gripping in her pocket lay there. She laughed and held it out to SIS, as a light beam reflected off the brown shining surface, highlighting a rippled effect.

‘It’s an artificial conker,’ she explained.

Sliding the trinket down the twisted twain it was attached too, she dangled it inside the portal. Nothing happened. SIS nodded and Magtanta hurried through the hatch and across the docking seal. Entering the shuttle, she scanned for empty seats and unluckily found that only the front ones were available. Heading down the aisle, she took the seat numbered one which faced a door marked pilots. Storing the hover case away, she sat down and put the cross belt on. It was only then she looked into the staring eyes across from her.

The centaur was standing in the designated square for large creatures. A halter belt looped around his brown furred back and stomach was attached to metal clips on the floor and wall. His muscular human arms, covered in colourful tattoos were crossed over his shirted bulging chest. He had broad shoulders, a veiny thick neck and large head, which was covered by a heavy black mane that trailed down his back. His large black eyes were staring at her and his wide flared nose was sniffing the air. His pink lips curled more into smile and flashed flat white teeth.

He knows….somehow…Magtanta thought, turning away, feeling a rush of heat. The chair next to her was taken and the door locked with a hiss. As the pre-record announcements got under way, she twisted back. The anthropomorphic cat was next to her and pulling out a screened personal pad device from a leather case. She leant back and from the robe’s other pocket took a music pod. Removing the first ear bud she put it in, then selected a play list from the mini screen displayed on the other, before placing that one in too.

The opening notes of Five Finger Death Punch’s Bad Company invaded her ears. Just before she shut her eyes, Magtanta saw the ears of the Morph cat and centaur twitching in her direction. The shuttle’s engine vibrated and she heard the distant blast of ignition. There was a shuddering movement, then the shuttle shot upwards like a popped cork, sending waves of juddering tremors through everything. Remembering not to clench her teeth, Magtanta seized the cross belt tightly, causing her knuckles to turn white. Only when she felt the shuttle level out, did she dropped her hands and open her eyes.

‘Oxygen?’ a male voice purred.

She glanced at the cat-man and his single pointed clawed finger. Following it, Magtanta saw a small plastic mask stationed in a circle hole lit by a dusty blue light, close by her left knee. Grabbing the mask, she pressed it over her mouth and began taking huge breaths.

‘Are you okay?’ A gruff voice called out, followed by a hoof stamp.

Trying to hide her embarrassment, Magtanta nodded in the direction of the centaur’s.

‘First flight?’ the cat-man asked her.

Magtanta shook her head and partly removed the mask, ‘my second.’

The cat-man nodded and took her in for the first time.  ‘Are you from Astria?’

‘Yes. How do you know?’ she said quickly.

‘Your robe.’

‘Oh.’

‘Where have you been? From my knowledge Astrialings detest travel and worship the natural. It’s rare to find one outside their Quadrant.’

‘I was…visiting someone and now I’m going home, to Red Leaf Isle,’ Magtanta answered carefully.

The cat-man and centaur watched her closely and feeling pressured, Magtanta put the mask back. Sinking down, she shut her eyes and pretended to doze off. The flight was due to last an hour, but Magtanta had heard that they often under-predicted it as there was always traffic getting into Beta Quadrant. With her hands on her stomach, she concentrated on the rising and falling caused by her breathing. FFDP continued to blast in her ears, covering up most of the shuttle’s noises and the chatting of the passengers.

She was the verge of sleep, when something brushed against her arm. She wasn’t sure how she’d felt it through the thick robe, but it brought her fully awake. Opening her eyes, she saw a hostess android with a small hover cart containing two large sliver two pots and trays filled with supplies. Magtanta realised that the cat-man had chosen to have a milky tea from the cart and had been pulling the small table up from between the seats. She pulled an ear bud out as the hostess turned to her and in a metallic voice asked, ‘Would you like a drink and/or something to eat?’

‘I’ll have some water and do you any chocolate?’ Magtanta asked.

Blankly, the hostess handed her a bottle of water and a small package, before holding out a digital scanning box. Taking the things, Magtanta held her right arm out and the box was waved over her IDC. The scanner bleep in confirmation of payment and the hostess moved onto the centaur. Putting her music back on, Magtanta opened the water, took a few sips and then fought her way into the air-sealed chocolate bar. The chocolate tasted glorious as she ate it and she began to feel completely calm.

I’ve done it, she thought, I’ve got out.