Novel Update: Preview of Chapter 1 (pt 2)
Hey friends, my blog output has been less than optimal because I’m writing my novel. Many of you are cool to ask how its going. It’s going. Ha!
In July, I gave you a snapshot of the first part of Chapter 1 (HERE). Check that out first, if you haven’t read any of it yet.
Without further ado, here’s the preview of the rest of the first chapter.
All rights reserved and all that lot.
There were sounds, muffled. Eve started to perceive them. In the moment between asleep and awake, real and imagined sounds mingled.
She moved, her neck and joints creaking as she floated in the cryo fluid. Her eyes were still clamped shut.
She started to perceive the actual cold—the freezing fluid. Her body began to shiver, though the fluid was warming steadily. She stayed still for a few more minutes. There were tubes in her nose and mouth. She could feel her tongue against the breathing apparatus. Her jaw ached. Her head ached.
Eve went through the routines from training, mentally mapping out her arms and legs, almost reconnecting with her body. She perceived her toes and moved them, then her feet and legs, then fingers and arms. The fluid became bearably warm, though her body still shivered.
Counting to three, she forced open her eyes for a second then squeezed them shut, the fluid stung a bit, more from the cold than any irritant. A moment later she opened them again. Her cryo tube lights were on, as was the interior display screen.
There were no alarms, no klaxons, no signs of a shipboard emergency. Eve was being allowed to wake up at her own pace. She sighed, relieved, and floated for another few minutes.
The display screen’s large font made it easy to read through the fluid. The system was on standby, waiting for Eve to push the button to start the opening process for her tube.
During emergencies, the ship would take the liberty of doing that for the tech, unceremoniously dumping the groggy traveler onto the freezing deck in seconds. Eve was thankful for the normal wakeup.
Eve began to shiver again. She opened her eyes, found the ENABLE button on the display and pressed it. Some loud metallic clunks and hisses sounded through her tube. A seal cracked and the cryo fluid began to drain away. Eve sank a few inches to the cushions of her tube. The still colder air of the ship’s interior hit her nose and slowly washed over her face and body. She reached up to rub her eyes. The wires and electrodes tugged at her arms.
A final crack and hiss and the tube lid lifted up and away. The room was dark, save for the spotlight from the ceiling on Eve’s tube.
Eve sat up and gagged out the breathing mask. She clung to the edge of the tube and endured her first coughing spell, one of what would be dozens over the next few days. Her skin squeaked and pulled against the leather cushion pads. The sensation of gravity still felt new.
She caught her breath and relaxed, still shivering but more awake. Her breath shot out in ragged plumes into the dark of the room. She noticed some status lights shone through. On the far wall was her medical diagnostic screen, still reporting data from the probes and sensors attached on her body.
She looked down at the probes, then at her arms. They were heavily muscled. In fact, her whole body had been toned and developed in cryo. She ran her fingers along the lines of her abdominals and biceps. She wasn’t sure how to take her new muscle-bound self. She also didn’t much like that it probably meant a deployment on a high-gravity planet or moon. Such missions were unpleasant even with the additional muscle mass.
Sighing, she started peeling off the probes and wires and coughed some more. She looked through the dark at her medical screen. She was now dead, according to her readout. There was another set of readings. Eve looked to the left and right past the empty adjacent tubes. There, about three tubes down, was another tech, still in cryo sleep.
Another tech? It was unusual, but not unheard of. The crew compartment could support up to 10, but in Eve’s years of service, she never heard of more than two on a deployment.
Eve signed again. Another tech meant a more involved mission—not the wake-up/boom/go home missions she enjoyed. That, or it meant a training operation for the second tech. Either way, it would keep Eve awake longer than usual.
Eve groaned as she swung her legs over the edge of the tube. She rubbed her eyes again and yawned. Her shivering had subsided a bit, but it was still very cold inside the ship. The heating elements must not have been on very long.
She eyed the deck, knowing space would have kept the metal at an uninviting temperature during the trip. She looked over to the far wall. Under her flatlined medical display she could make out the faint outlines of the bins with towels. Showers and personal effects would be down the hall of the crew compartment.
She held her breath and hopped down. The searing cold of the floor caused her to hop like a lunatic over to the wall.
Eve yanked open the drawer and dumped several towels on the floor as makeshift sandals. She cursed, and pulled out another and started rubbing her legs and arms to get warm. The cryo fluid was full of nutrients and would be quickly absorbed into the skin. Still, her first order of business would be to get to the showers and fully wash the sleep from her.
She was closer to the readout screen now and looked it over. Chief Warrant Officer Evelyn Roel, Chief Technician (Level 5), it said. Next to that was the emblem of her component, the FUS Auxiliary, showing her as one of those drafted into military service.
Eve looked over at her companion’s readout. Her eyes were finally focusing as they should, though they, like most of Eve’s body, hurt from transit. Lieutenant Cassandra Matthews, Technician (Level 3), it read. An officer, Eve noticed. Again, not unheard of. And at least she was a level three, which meant she wasn’t a rookie. What did give Eve pause was her component: FUS Regular Forces—a volunteer. That was unusual. Eve tried to remember the last time she served with a regular.
Eve stood draped in towels and noticed the other tube was still locked down. She was the only one waking up. That was odd, but Eve wouldn’t be able to access any ship systems or status reports until she’d dug out her visor from her equipment. For the moment, she was content the ship didn’t seem about to explode.
Eve shuffled along the floor toward the cryo bay door in her makeshift sandals. She felt the walls. The heating elements were on, but the cold of space would take some time to shrug off. The ship was minimally heated and even the crew compartment stayed cold during the voyage. It would take a couple of days for the bulkheads and walls to absorb enough heat to take the biting cold edge out of the air.
Eve made it to the open door and hit the light panel. The ship seemed to notice part of its crew was awake and turned on some lights. Floor and ceiling banks flickered on, their cool blue light added to the idea that Eve was in a meat locker. Even with the lights on, the crew compartment was dimly lit.
She shuffled out into the passageway, the lights faded in the cryo bay and activated in the hall. The ship was tracking her movements, at least.
“Morning, ship,” Eve said, and coughed.
She continued shuffling down the hall. The smooth lines and panels of the crew compartment gave a cold, yet softer impression than the more utilitarian build of the remaining ship spaces she’d see later. Eve tried to imagine comfortably shuffling along the floor grating and exposed pipes and wiring of the maintenance spaces. Here, she could nurse her aches and hobble into the showers like an old woman if she wanted.
She walked into the shower room. Again, a space built to accommodate up to 10 people. There was a bank of sinks and mirrors on the right. The shower modules were in the middle and went farther back into the space. Behind the shower modules would be benches, lockers and equipment bins—where her clothes and personal effects would be, so long as the loading drones had loaded the right containers at the expedition station.
Eve shambled over to the sinks and tested the water. Warm, then hot. Good, Eve thought. She looked up at herself in the mirror. There were bags under her irritated eyes. She looked haggard, but most did after waking from cyro sleep. She noticed her face had slimed a bit, no doubt from the physical conditioning. Specifically though she wanted to check out her implants. She wore her hair longer on the top and left, leaving the right close cropped around the interfacing nodes. It was a hair style normally not allowed in the service, but was tolerated for techs, especially level fives and their unique hardware. She ran her fingers along the visor seating points on her temples. There didn’t seem to be any inflammation. She brushed aside her auburn bangs to better see the interfacing nodes. The grey metal plates blended with her skin well enough, even if it meant living with the bald patches. The port was clear, again no infections.
She took a second and made some faces in the mirror. Her jaw and neck still hurt. She noticed the tense areas and stretched and yawned, then shivered. It was still freezing. Her mind turned back to the showers.
She shuffled over to the module, second from the left, her usual, and activated the controls. Turning it on maximum heat, she waited for the steam to begin bellowing out into the dim cold space. The ceramic shower modules would become comfortably warm in no time.
She hung up her covering towel, leaving the two piles on the floor, and stripped off her sleeping suit. Dialing down the heat a bit, she walked in to the comfortable warm embrace of the shower stream. She laughed, leaning against the module wall and letting the water leech the creaking cold from her body.