Hello fellow fiction fans!
So this is my first time writing a full length story. Though it did start as an idea for a short story, it has now grown into a possible three part series. I got a bit carried away, as usual. Anywho, this is the first part of the series I refer to as Delta B, a sci-fi/mystery-esc tale set in space, thousands of years from now.
I appreciate any feedback on it so far and even suggestions for other stories I should read :) I'll try and post a new chapter every Friday and I hope you all enjoy this tale of the lost colony, Delta B.
Now imagine a place, far, far away from here...
Chapter One: The Damaged Gate
I wake up to the first scents of a new year; it's 4476. The air is cool and crisp, it feels clean in my lungs. Clearly the filtration system has been running smoothly while we were out. My mind feels fuzzy and my body is heavy, but I know that I'm smiling. I always wake up smiling. I can see the light through my eyelids, but I know better than to open them before they adjust. I hear the unmistakable click of the pod doors unlocking and the mechanical humming of depressurisation. Finally, I hear the doors glide open.
When I do open my eyes, I see Gia. The most beautiful part about Delta B is the planet we orbit. Her stormy atmosphere is always raging. Completely uninhabitable, but always breathtaking as the winds paint the planet with swirling clouds of purple and orange. A complete contrast to this barren rock of a moon world we're stuck one. At least here we can breath.
I get out of my pod and stretch carefully, my body stiff from being motionless for so long. My movements are slow and my reaction time is poor, but I know it'll wear off in a few hours. It's just how cryo-sleep affects me. I inspect my pod quickly and shut it down for now since the full cryochamber inspection isn't for another month, after all the civilians have been woken up.
I make my way to the workshop where I'll most likely be spending the majority of this year. It's quiet and motionless, everything covered in a thick layer of dust. Ventilation down here isn't great, but it's bearable. I move over to my area. I wouldn't call it a desk really, more of just a surface I use to keep my tools. Don't even have a chair since I prefer to stand. Everything is exactly as I left it, which is always reassuring since I was the last one to enter Dark Orbit. I gather the supplies I know I'll need to make my rounds and head down to the rear North Halls. I always start in the furthest sections of the compound and then work my way back towards the centre.
The halls out this way are darker and dingier than near the core, the lights flicker every now and again and the air is mustier. It's partly because only the auxiliary power is on at this point, but also partly because civilians aren't allowed out this way, so it doesn't have to be kept up to the same standards. There's no sound but the humming of machinery, my footsteps and my breath. It's eery, but in a beautiful sort of way. Peaceful really, knowing you're the only person awake on the entire planet.
Everything is checking out so far, operating up to code. That is, until I get to North gate Q12. The large hangar door isn't locked and the seal is broken; well, it's always been broken per se. This gate has had a crack along the bottom ridge for years now, but we've never been able to fix it. Lack of resources and proper materials, the usual. But it was so small that it barely presented a risk to pressurization, especially since we can seal all the periphery doors into the compound just fine. We disabled the alarm linked to Q12's seal so that it wouldn't sound every time we close the gate and we inspect it regularly, ensure that it still presents no real risk. Now though, now the crack seems significantly larger. Not just that, but the new fractures radiate outwards in a way that makes it seem like the edge was hit hard from the outside. While the gate was open.
My heart starts to beat a bit faster as I get up and spin around quickly, scanning the large empty hangar behind me for the slightest sign of movement. The gate couldn't have possibly opened during Dark Orbit, otherwise the system would have woken me up. Did we accidentally disable more than just the seal alarm? I flash my hand light into every corner of the hanger, but nothing seems to be out of place. I try to calm myself down, taking deep breaths and focusing on slowing my heart rate as I walk back across the hangar to the nearest compound door. If Q12 did open while we were asleep, and for some reason I wasn't woken up, then it should at least be logged in the main system on the Bridge.
I make my way through the winding hallways towards the core of Delta B. They gradually get brighter and the steel panels, pipes and wires are soon replaced by windows showing the barren land beyond the compound and the starry, endless sky above it. The rusted metal floor panels are replaced with the newer, dented ones that still have a bit of a shine to them. By the time I get to Centre Square - ironically named because it's actually a huge, circular dome - I'm surrounded by small structures of stone and wood, shops that people spend their entire lives crafting, all boarded up for Dark Orbit. Gia hangs over the huge windowed ceiling, illuminating the Square day and night, giving us the illusion that we're really outside. Most people are authorised to go out, they just choose not to.
When I get to the bridge, the tall structure that overlooks the dome from the Eastern side, I hurriedly make my way to the main controls and punch in the command sequence the Commander gave us in case we ever needed to access Delta B's records. For emergency use only, of course.
The system takes a couple minutes to boot up and I wait impatiently, my hands hovering over the keys. Finally, the green coding sequence that signifies the end of the reboot appears on the screen. I immediately begin typing, accessing the records of Q12's operation log. It only takes me a few minutes. I scroll through to the last entries before Dark Orbit and they all check out. The gate was closed and locked on schedule along with all the others. But there's one extra entry. One that shouldn't be there.
I have to look over it twice to make sure that I read it correctly, but code never lies. The gate received an incoming signal, from outside. One that it recognised. Q12 opened automatically to let whatever was broadcasting it in. No alarms were tripped.
For any other colony, this might seem perfectly normal. Shipments used to come in all the time during Dark Orbit, the system letting them in automatically, but never in my lifetime. Delta B is at the furthest reaches of the known universe, the last colony to be established by the Human Empire. But we haven't had any outside contact in over 58 years.