The early morning cling of gunk, the shadowy embrace of dreams – the hollow fingers of sleep stroking at her mind, tempting her back into unconsciousness. She was operating on automatic after the brisk flight, what had felt like a bad night’s sleep was in fact two decades spent deep-frozen. Janice was the first awake, flitting between the other sleep-pods, squeezing light-footed between the droids reviving her crew.
It was a risk, travelling this far beyond Sol’s system – the ‘danger-wages’ she had been blackmailed into paying her crew spoke volumes about the inherit fear at being the first to leap across deep space and into the gravitational grip of another star. The exhilaration was a savage glee, the passion of that must’ve been shared by Cook, da Gama and Armstrong, the knowledge that your footsteps would be the first recorded, that your name would go down in the history books. Of being almost a different species to the ragged hordes of humanity basking beneath their sun.
There was the small matter of the billions to be made as well.
Slowly she descended into the ship’s hull, the silver-brightness of mining machines long since forbidden on Earth promising her fortune and fame. And the EPA had no authority out here. They would pillage Exo-996, would tear the world apart – strip-mining to create a hollow planet and ship it all home. To leave nothing behind.
She was tongue-tied, stranded and overwhelmed twelve light-years from Earth. A brush with life on the surface, armed insurrection – mutiny. The drills, sabotaged. The ship crippled.
They were going to bleed the planet dry.
It turns out the natives didn’t appreciate the sentiment.
A quick story – it’s not yet 7am – for BeKindRewrite and SundayScribblings. The prompts were Brush With Life, Hollow Planet, Automatic, Tongue-tied and Brisk Flight (InMon) as well as A World Apart. I’ve been out of form recently (if you couldn’t tell) so hopefully I can do a bit more writing today…