Surge: Chapter Four


Disclaimer: I apologise in advance for any spelling/grammar - this is an entirely unedited Work In Progress and therefore my dyslexia will be on full display. ^_^; If I publish this, I'll get it edited, but for now, enjoy the very, very first rough draft - let's have fun!



Chapter Three


If you fall behind,

It is good to have friends to wait awhile with you. But what if you have no one. What then, do you do?

If you are alone on your journey, Remember, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars - they are with you.


Planet: Ghaliya

Spaceport: Celetris

Litin Empire


It became obvious rather quickly that Little Doc had performed the boarding process several times before and partook in it now with a sense of boredom and detachment. As they entered one of the conveyer rails leading into the Celetris, Tyrin’s own excitement drained away as the taint of negative, foul emotions from the litins bunched up around him focused on Little Doc.

The vernberni pervaded an air of nonchalant, but he was sure it was receiving the same fierce wave of hatred, distrust and disgust fixated entirely in its direction.

“How do you deal with this level of vitriol?” Tyrin murmured as they stepped off the conveyer.

“By sadistically knowing that they have no choice but to be treated by me or die. Truly, the Captain is a cruel sentient.” Little Doc flashed a grin.

Tyrin frowned. “Wait. So, you are telling me, on a ship this size, you are the only medical personnel?”

“I am.”

“But the Celetris is huge. It would need a medical team of at least twenty personnel.”

“Congratulations, you have deduced a problem. Here, have a candy.” A small piece of hard rock candy was flung at him. Tyrin snatched it from the air.

He stared at the sweet. “Has anyone ever told you that you are really condescending.”

Little Doc threw a grin over its shoulder as it floated down a corridor. It had no need to dodge dashing personnel for they avoided it entirely. Tyrin was once again running to catch up. This was all he was going to be doing—running to catch up with everyone around him—he was sure of it.

“The litin’s medical field has suffered severely ever since the Vernberni War. It seemed there was an active push to drive young litins into the Military and Warrior Prides. We of The Cluster saw it as an opportunity to offer you aid, however, no litin thus far as desired to step forward to learn from me. It has been most disappointing. I had hoped for a whole team by now.”

“Wouldn’t trying to recruit at the Universities where the Science and Technology Pride resides be more beneficial to your cause?”

Little Doc studied him with a raised brow. Tyrin doubted it was going to be the last time that he received a look that allied him to be some sort of creature of low intelligence.

“You think what you are feeling now is vitriol? Well. I could not walk into a University without causing a riot. In this case, brawn trumps brain. I will happily take the Military than the stuck-up lunatics your so-called higher education spits out.”

Tyrin sighed, dragging his claws through his tuffs of hair. He had never thought he would ever be grateful for his sheltered upbringing, having always considered it a hindrance when dealing with larger litin society. Now it felt like a boon, to be biased only by his own prides fear of persecution.

“Alright, so I have a lot of work to do.”

Little Doc laughed. “Oh, you will not be conquering this mountain in a day, so let us just enjoy the moment, shall we.”

The vernberni had led them to what appeared to be an observation deck, long and wide, with panoramic windows opening deep enough to be stood upon to create the illusion that one was suspended above the shipyard. Tyrin’s tail vibrated. “Wow.”

“Children get excited over such small things.” Little Doc settled its bag down beside a seat, the golden rings that kept it floating faded. It landed with a heavy thud on the cushion. Tyrin frowned. For something so small and so delicate, the indent it made in the seat seemed excessive. He squeezed his paws, trying to loosen tight muscles. There would be time enough to unravel the mysteriousness of his caretaker. Right now he had to take in the moment, a moment he had been striving for since the horizon had burned in a plume of fire and smoke.

Since his brother—

Settling a paw on the window Tyrin rested his forehead on the glass. It was warm to his forever cold body. In the spaceyard below litins scurried about, leaving the vicinity of the launching bay. Somewhere overhead his ears picked up the sound of the countdown being announced through the intercom. Tyrin tipped his head to the crystal blue sky. A beautiful sky to be surging forward into.

His answer was somewhere out there, and the Celetris was going to take him to it. Tyrin breathed in deeply. This is it, Zy. I’m standing on a pinnacle, and I really hope I don’t fall.

There was no warning.

The moment the countdown ended they left planet-side. He was momentarily floating—at least—he thought he was.

The build-up of energy that had launched the Celetris slammed into him. Tyrin stepped forward, clutching his chest, positive that his heart had burst right out. He stared at Little Doc. The vernberni watched him, head tilted to one side, in a curious and analytical manner. As his world faded to black the faintest of voices reached him.

Help me. Please.

He tried to snatch at it, with the full force of the burning engine of the Celetris behind him, perhaps he could have reached it. If only he had remained conscious for just a few seconds longer.


***


Tyrin came awake begrudgingly. Very aware that he was not in familiar surroundings. Though it had been rotations since he had slept in his kittenhood room within Zlatanburg, it’s great stone walls and long corridors remained forever his source of familiarity and grounding. It rather felt as though he had lost those very foundations and now, he floated, aimlessly, with only the awful clawing of ice biting its way through his skin. His foot-paws and legs had frozen themselves stiff. Such an occurrence had not happened since he been a cub, unable to regulate and temper the volume of his crafts intake. It took effort to shake the limbs awake, kicking away the illusion of frost until racing pins filled that void.

“Well. That was a fine show you put on.” A whirring voice droned out. “Our new Ships Counsellor collapsing on launch. Yes. Yes. I can see that going down swimmingly well. At this rate, you are going to be discovered and flung out an air-lock faster than I can perform brain surgery.”

Tyrin groaned into the silk pillow beneath him. “Does the Captain know?”

A gentle touch soothed the fur of his arm, and Little Doc’s alien mind brushed against his own. He had been unprepared the first time, but now, the foreign buzzing was restful, like a warm beverage on a cold night.

“You are simply getting your space-legs. She is not overly concerned. Many will not admit it, but you aren’t the first to fall flat on their face at launch.”

He doubted it was for the same reason though. His craft still sparked and popped, as if firecrackers had been let loose inside his skull. He had been taught from a young age to decompartmentalise the bombardment of outside stimuli. Things a normal sentient would never have noticed a crafter was forced to contend with. Powerlines buzzed in a constant, irritating manner that he had always likened to someone dragging claws over a slate-board. Anything that power nibbled at had become second nature to ignore along with the mental melody of sentient minds.

Now—

Now the immense beat of the Celetris’ engine was near impossible for him overlook. If this was what drove a crafter mad—

“Thank you,” he managed the choke out the words.

“But, quickly get those space-legs, marakdor.”

Tyrin dropped back into the comfort of the medical bed. Marakdor. He was sure that was a giant slug found on one of the moons of the Kyrna-nat System. It seemed so strange that a vernberni used it as an insult.

A small cup was held out in front of him.

“These are for the headache I imagine you have.”

“Ah…thanks.” He swallowed the pills.

He had not noticed it before, but now that the lights were dimmed around him, the glow of the vernberni’s inner mechanical interior burned through the habit it wore like the lambent light of the sun being eclipsed.

Little Doc’s slender hand gave his shoulder a pat, the metal crafting them softly clanking. “Get some rest. You are not needed until tomorrow’s briefing. Try and sort out your craft in the meantime.”

He glanced at the clock on the adjacent wall, blinking numerals at him. He had a good block of time until the next shift. Closing his eyes, he pictured the gradual building of a wall, stone by stone. Heavy stones, strong stones, like the stones his ancestors had mined to build the great Zlatanburg from. They would muffle the sound of the Celetris’ engine. He would need to maintain it, reinforce it every day, but as long as the wall held, the terrifying force behind it would be dammed.

Over the course of the next few hours Tyrin watched curiously as several military personnel tiptoed into the medical rooms, hesitantly inquiring after medication for nausea and headaches. Little Doc was kind, gentle, its entire demeanour altering with whomever it was that walked through the doors of the medical ward. Was the crass, sarcastic little vern the real personality?

A young female litin walked past his bed, glancing his way and he smiled hesitantly as she paused.

“A bit early to be confined to the medical ward, isn’t it?” her voice was soft, considering the reduced lights and the stillness in the ward. He appreciated the darkness while nursing the ache in his skull. He shuffled upright, touching his forehead with a wince.

“You would think that, yes.”

“Ah, launch sickness…” she clicked her tongue. “Gets some folk worse than others. You’ll be back to normal soon.”

He smiled. “Thank you for the reassurance.”

“Going by your chrome-suit colour, you’re a bridge officer. So, I presume we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.” She motioned to his suit and he glanced at the coloured lines running in seams throughout the attire. Three colours were apparent in his own, he presumed the blue was for his position in the Medical and Science Division, the red for his fabricated life within the Warrior Pride but the yellow had been a mystery to him.

“The bridge, right, of course…” he murmured. “I’m on the bridge.”

“Navigator Linou,” she offered, placing paw over chest in a salute. “Military Pride.”

“Ship’s Counsellor, Tyrin, Warrior Pride.”

Her brow lifted as she studied him with pursed lips. “Warrior Pride, really, with those horns. Bet you had the worst time of it.”

He shrugged. “I managed.”

The scoffing sound she made was mockingly bitter. “Sure, Shorty.”

Shorty. Right. He was already getting his horns and height mocked and he had not even left the medical bay. He raised his brow, waiting for her next comment.

“Officer Linou.” Little Doc spoke up from its desk. “I do believe you are due back on the bridge in ten minutes.”

Her tail flicked, gaze refusing to shift in the direction of the vernberni. “Appreciated, Doctor.” Linou turned stiffly, waving a paw over the door’s activation panel. “See you around, Counsellor.”

Tyrin sighed, slumping back onto the bed. He felt like an imposter. Fake—false—masked—did he even know who he really was? No—not really—

He held out a paw, grasping at the unseen enormity of space beyond the walls. If he could just reach it, the cold, icy grip that clutched him, then maybe he would discover who he was.

Something sparked and nearby, Little Doc let loose a string of sharp, loud notes. Tyrin sat up sharply, only to bend forward as his head spun at the sharp movement.

“What happened?” He peered up, squinting.

Little Doc was floating around a nearby piece of smoking equipment.

“You caused a surge.” The vernberni snapped. “Keep your craft to yourself, litin. My devices are sensitive.”

“That has never happened before.” Was it because of how unstable he felt?

“Most likely because you have never experienced a situation such as this.”

“I am so confused.”

“Yes, that is why you are here, to learn things.” Little Doc shot back. “You will never expand your horizons unless you step beyond the boundaries of your own knowelage.”

“Is that how you have become such a fountain of information.” Tyrin muttered.

“When one has been around as long as I have, much is learnt about many useless things.” Little Doc floated back to its desk, slipping into its high seat easily to continue flipping through files of holo-slates on space-personnel.