A dark blue haze hung over the tall pillars of ice in the distance before her. The charon moon of pluto sat permanently locked in the sky overhead. The earth's sun shone above Charon, casting a dim glow on pluto's surface. She squinted her eyes at the faint image of the milky-way reaching out from behind charon. As her gaze fell back to the sheaths of ice below, she wondered what other worlds looked like beyond the sol system. Momentarily, she pondered the question of whether or not life existed elsewhere in the galaxy and then frowned.
Godiva Breckenridge sat atop the hull of her starship. She had one leg up, the knee pointing at the sky. She sighed, bemused, her mind lost and wandering. An insulated undergarment kept her warm in the harsh cold. Over it, she wore the standard civilian space suit, a composition of liquid Kevlar, nylon, and spandex. A sleeve on her leg applied the appropriate counterpressure. Her arms wrapped around her leg. She had jet black hair with blue highlights that could scarcely be seen through her helmet. She smelled nothing, and only the occasional wind broke the silence.
A few minutes passed, and she looked up at the stars. As they twinkled in her meditative eyes, a sharp gust blew, but she remained still, as if frozen like the columns of nitrogen ice over the horizon. She could feel her back beginning to ache and shifted her legs to counter it.
Godiva held many secrets and had told, in any two years of her life, more lies than any politician told in their lifetime. She had a thick, tough exterior, encasing a stubborn and proud attitude. Her face, with deep, piercing brown eyes, full lips, a small nose, and creamy, pale skin, masked a coldness. People always seemed to like her, though. Whether simply because she'd feigned sincerity in talking to them, or because she adorned an enticing body. Both arrogant and somewhat selfish, she reveled in the high esteem in which people held her, attributing it to some divine heritage.
Her ship had taken her nearly two years of saving money to buy. A year later, it remained her home. She held it as close to her as a mother would a child, and named it the Phoenix. An Orion-X cargo ship, the Phoenix had a far more streamlined design than any other cargo vessel to date. It also had the largest cargo spaces and some of the most advanced ship technology on the civilian market. Godiva did her best to take care of it.
The silence broke when she heard a dull pounding from behind. Her partner and friend, Michael Allman, had crawled out of the emergency hatch to join her. Godiva switched on her suit's internal communications link as she arched a brow in Michael's direction.
"It's about time," she scowled. "I was already getting bored."
A neurotic, and occasionally melodramatic, individual, he had a timid nature and an odd sense of humor. Nonetheless, Michael had great intelligence, and, however annoying, he managed a strong friendship with Godiva. He had a pale complexion with squinty, green eyes and wiry, dark hair. His unshaven beard didn't particularly fit him, nor did he like it, but he hated shaving if for no other reason than laziness. With an affinity for science and physics, he complimented Godiva's technical expertise well. The two of them alone had managed keep the Phoenix running fairly smooth.
"I'm sorry," Michael retorted, "I cut myself on that wall panel I was working on. Besides, I don't have a fancy, tailored suit like you. Takes forever to get this damn thing on." He sat down beside her and looked up. "Isn't it amazing out here!"
"It is pretty nice," she admitted, scanning the landscape. "You're still paying for the trip though."
Michael frowned. "I said I would already."
"Okay. You get that relay fixed?"
"I think so."
Godiva rolled her eyes. "Did you test it?"
"I'll test it later," he sighed. "Not like it's gonna blow us up or something."
Michael's focus turned to a chryogeyser erupting in the distance as Godiva looked around at the stars. One specifically caught her attention as its light seemed to slowly intensify and grow larger. Squinting at it, she watched it a few more seconds until she noticed it moving. "What is that?" she asked.
"What is what?" he asked looking back at her.
She stood up and pointed up at the light. "That. It's moving."
Michael found the light and studied it for a few seconds. "Meteor maybe," he offered.
Godiva reached into a pouch on her suit's belt and pulled out a small computer display that she kept to monitor the ship's systems. She accessed the sensors and did a quick scan. The result sent a chill to the back of her neck. "Uh...it's a ship," she said.
"What?" Michael leaned over her to look at the scan.
"Computer doesn't recognize the design and there's no registry." They both looked back at the object and noticed it moving faster.
"And it's coming right at us," Michael added looking back at the scan. The sound it made as it entered pluto's thin atmosphere gave them both a chill.
Godiva closed her display. "Move!" she ordered, and together they ran back toward the emergency hatch.
The sound of the unknown ship quickly grew louder as it flew directly over the Phoenix. Michael had just made it into the hatch ahead of Godiva when she felt the ship shudder beneath her and a loud crashing sound made her look back just as she grabbed hold of the hatch. She watched a large metal block slam onto the Phoenix where the two of them had sat, a long, silver cable extending up from it. Suddenly, the ship jerked, launching Godiva into the hatch and sealing it behind her. Michael let out a cry as she tumbled down the ladder on top of him. Another violent jolt threw them both back against the ladder.
"Son of a bitch!" Godiva exclaimed, using the ladder to pull herself off of Michael. "Are you okay?"
Michael slowly peeled himself off the floor, moaning and aching. "I think so." Sarcastically, he added "Glad I could be here to break your fall."
Godiva had already sprinted down the hall. "I'm sorry, babe, but we need to get to the bridge, now!"
Michael dusted himself and hesitantly jogged after her. Grimacing, he sighed and muttered, "You're never sorry."
They both began to strip out of their space suits at the end of the hall after Godiva adjusted the room pressure to match that of the rest of the ship again. A loud groan echoed through the hull, vibrating everything and giving Godiva the uneasy feeling that the Phoenix had moved. She wasted no time getting to the bridge, Michael trailing behind in a heavy pant.
When they made it to the bridge they froze. A large, dark mass loomed over them, obscuring the starfield outside the view port. The Phoenix had moved. The unknown ship had plucked them from the surface of pluto and tucked them underneath it.
Godiva spouted a few explitives and darted to a console at the front of the bridge. She attempted to identify the ship by scanning it again but found nothing. "Who the hell is this?" she growled.
Michael stood next to her and looked over the unknown ship through the view port. "It's a goddamn alien ship."
Godiva sighed in frustration. "Your paranoid conspiracy theories aside, Michael, I don't really care who they are. I'm pissed off!" She spun around to the station behind her. "Weapons...aren't working." The console took a swift blow from her fist. "Fucking piece of shit, cheap-ass turrets! Six more months-just six more-and I'd have those damn cannons already."
"Try hailing them."
She moved to the station on her left. Mashing a few buttons, she leaned over the console and spoke tersely, "Whoever you are, I demand that you release my ship immediately."
"Oh, that's good," Michael chimed in sarcastically, "I'm sure they'll respond well to that."
Godiva shot a glare at him through a few strands of her disheveled hair. "Are they doing anything?"
Glancing back at the station behind him, he answered, "No. If they're aliens they might not understand you."
"So what am I suppose to do," she exclaimed, throwing her hands up, "talk to them in a bunch of clicks and beeps?"
An alarm caught their attention, and Michael leaned over his station to check on it. Godiva watched him impatiently. "They're cutting through the hull," Michael uttered in disbelief. "There's a tube extending from their ship to the Phoenix where they're cutting." He looked back at Godiva while she ran around to the station beside him. "I think they're trying to dock with us."
Godiva expelled a few profane words as she looked up where the docking tube attached to the Phoenix. "Activate security mechs and get them up there," she ordered, walking to the back of the bridge and pulling a gun from a case in the wall.
"Where are you going?"
"Where do you think I'm going," she exclaimed. "Stay here."
A frantic Michael paced the floor once, cursing at his confusion. He hated it when a lot of things happened at once. His mind had too much trouble keeping track of everything. The unknown ship filled him with curiosity and excitement at the prospect of alien contact, but the abduction of the Phoenix and the cutting through the hull scared him. With Godiva going after the potential intruders, he also felt worried for her safety and wanted to help her. Just then he remembered the mechs and quickly sent in the command order to activate them. Then he wound his way to the station behind him and attempted to hail the other ship again. He tried to warn them not to board the Phoenix but never got an answer.
Michael couldn't sit there and wait for something else to happen. He hesitantly took the other gun from the wall and went after Godiva.
When the elevator opened on level two Godiva's heart instantly began beating harder. She had never actually engaged in a fight before, but she had never feared doing so either. Not knowing what to expect bothered her the most. The idea of dealing with aliens gave her some pause, but she didn't yet believe Michael's assertion. Humanity had explored and colonized the solar system without any definitive sign of alien life. Interstellar travel to other star systems remained elusive however, and many scientists had started to believe it unachievable without an impossible amount of energy.
She had cautiously made her way through the corridors, weapon firmly in hand. As she neared the breach in the hull her jaw tightened. The air seemed colder than normal. Dim lighting only slightly illuminated the dark hallways. A smell like that of a strong electric current irritated her nose. Slowly, she leaned around a corner, the breach in the ceiling just a few feet ahead of her. The large, black hole looked like a cave that had formed in the metal panels. She could feel the cold air coming from the bowel, and she thought she could hear an eerie wind blowing deep within it.
She moved stealthly along the wall toward the breach, half crouched and gun aimed upward. Peaking into the hole, she saw only darkness. A sudden distant rustling sound made her flinch. It echoed down the hall from the corridor she had come from. She froze for a second to listen for more and heard what sounded like a footstep from around the corner she had just walked around. Quietly, she put her back to the wall and moved close to the corner. Her eyes closed as she drew in a deep breath. Then she spun around the corner and pointed her gun. Immediately, she fired a shot at the moving figure she had only caught a glance of.
Michael had only narrowly avoided the round Godiva fired at him, and he had let out a loud scream as she did it. Wide-eyed and trembling, he had thrown his hands up in the air, dropping his gun, before he realized Godiva had shot at him.
"Holy shit, dude!" Godiva exclaimed, grabbing him by the shoulders to see if she had hurt him. "What the hell are you doing? I told you to stay on the bridge."
Breathing heavily, Michael barely managed to mutter, "If I'd known I was going to be greeted this way, I would have."
Godiva rolled her eyes, and just before she could say another word, a sudden loud squeel went off, followed instantly by an explosion at the end of the corridor. Michael and Godiva had dropped to the floor against the wall for cover. The hole blown in the wall billowed with fire from the internal machinery. A series of random explitives poured from Godiva's mouth before she decided to peek around the corner.
Just as she started to lean out, gunfire rang out from down the hall. She recognized the sound of some of the rounds going off as that used by the onboard security mechs. "It's about time they showed up," she whispered.
"Good. Let's let them handle it," Michael said.
Godiva narrowed her eyes at him. "Did you come down here just to scare the shit out of me," she asked,"cause if so, you can go now."
Michael frowned. "I came down here to help you," he retorted.
Godiva chuckled. "Really?" she asked incredulously. "Michael, you haven't even picked your gun back up."
Michael began to say something, but Godiva threw her hand up at him. "Be quiet," she said, listening down the hall. "The gunfire stopped." She started to lean around the corner when Michael grabbed her arm to pull her back. Without thinking, she ripped her arm away from him, elbowing him in the face. When he cried out, she laughed and checked his face. "Oh, Michael, I'm sorry."
"You're not sorry…" he moaned, holding a hand over his face. "You're never sorry."
A clicking sound from right beside them made them both freeze.
"Godiva Breckenridge," a male voice spoke.
Godiva slowly turned her head and looked up to find three armed humans standing over them, the barrel of a gun staring her in the face.
"You're coming with us," said the man holding the gun.
Sighing, Godiva said simply, "You're right, Michael…I'm not sorry."