Science Fiction

The Sentinel.

Engineer required; Location Dock 23. Ship; Black Griffon.

Captain Mikhail Conrad Heikkinen commanding.

Please be available for an interview if you are successful in your application, Thankyou.

The printed hard copy now in her shaking hand, the break she needed looking straight back at her.

She was early, not taking any chances with so important a meeting, jumping at the chance to escape Purgatory Station. The name like something unpleasant you eat from a very unsavoury food vender and let me tell you! there are plenty of them here on this poor excuse for a space station.

She met the Captain grateful for a savoury snack and a bitter hot coffee. He had amazingly managed to recover her documents and kit bag from the worn out understaffed authorities, not realising the offenders had been apprehended though freed without charges unbelievably.

Yeah figures… She shakes the handsome mans warm strong hand. Her spirits rising exponentially at the prospect of leaving, and good riddance to the damned place.

Looking upward the first person she had met from the crew was his Executive Officer stood outside the airlock surveying the dock.

Immaculately dressed completely in black. Looking up at the very tall but surprisingly young officer. Her unblemished skin was paler than her brothers, there is no mistaking the likeness the pair probably from one of the famed Ice Worlds.

White, blonde hair, long thick and tightly braided with a red and gold ribbon running through it. Her face a porcelain of angelic beauty, regal in her strait nose and defined cheek bones that gave her face strength, the impression of someone aware but not a slave to her own stunning appearance.

Her lips invited you to taste them, pale and pink, her gaze was caught and ensnared by them. Biting her own bottom lip at the surprising thought!

By contrast looking up she was shocked by the startling ice blue eyes which held absolutely no warmth, her irises like pin pricks in the brightness of the dock, they looked completely blue. Pale, frosty, and very unwelcoming!

Intensely aware of the hard unflinching stare as they approached, as if she was guilty of some unspeakable crime by just walking onto the access ramp. Looking into that cold penetrating gaze she felt an unsettling fear even the criminals that mugged her did not inspire. Eyes that you could lose your soul into, to drown in their clear waters, she felt exposed her most guarded thoughts naked to the tall blondes sharp scrutiny.

The woman radiated the might of the military, arms crossed in front of her, legs at parade ease her frowning forehead resigned to accepting her brother’s choice of replacement for the AWOL bad-tempered missing engineer. She was a grim sentinel in every sense of the description, only seeing that look from Imperial Marines. A stare that can unnerve the stoutest heart. There was a dark intimidating presence which surrounded them as if they were wrapped in a cloak of power, the air shimmering with a molten wrath raging below the iron control of their stern will.

Very aware now of the well-used snub pistol hand grip visible from the holster on her belt, an ideal weapon in the pressurised environment of a spacecraft.

Looking at the tall combat boots she could see her own reflection in them, moving slowly up skin-tight uniform pants and top, underneath them a muscular lithe frame, broad shoulders framing her athletic outline, body tense, alert, her eyes scanning the docking bay behind them, she exuded violence as if she was born for war.

Mikhail introduces her smiling ‘‘this is my little sister Kira’’ the tall young woman smiles at her… like a wolf that has just discovered dinner in the form of some defenceless unwary prey sat before her.

‘‘She is my Exec, any queries just ask, she will be happy to help. I need to go and oversee the loading of our cargo I'll see you later.’’

The sentinels eyes harden even more, she is regretting signing on, knowing this hard-faced officer will never be her friend, probably just one of the many enemies she seems to collect with an unbelievable regularity.

Cocking her head to the side asking politely, ‘‘how would you prefer me to call you?’’

‘‘Mistress’’ just one word, her face emotionless.

Confused she says, ‘‘you can’t be serious…. are you actually joking?’’

‘‘Do I look like I am laughing’’ the Exec retorts stone faced.

‘‘Don’t treat me like a fool, you need a mechanic, and now you have one,’’ the youngster replies bravely, sure in her knowledge, more than capable of handling any situation that arises despite her youth.

At five eight she thought she was quite tall, the blonde girl looking at her was six feet two at least, with a pissy attitude, a cold hard stare, and a predatory smile that would put a shiver down any sane person’s spine.

‘‘You want to show me around or should I just wander round till I find a spare berth and the engine room!’’ she says with a sigh, the thin veneer of her resolve cracking at the long cold look she is receiving. I am for some reason really getting right under her skin, why does life have to be so hard? She starts to fidget under the intense scrutiny. Why can’t I just find somewhere I can fit in and just… disappear for the rest of my shitty life. She looks at the Exec, tilting her head, waiting expectantly eyebrow raised.

Finding she just can’t break the eye contact, her willpower not strong enough to sever the connection that spans the chasm between them. She feels a bond growing oddly…

‘‘Follow me…. Mechanic.’’

We leave the dock, my small kitbag over my shoulder and march through Airlock Alpha, at least the labelling is Imperial Standard.

The light brightening automatically as we progress into the vessel, the internal sensors picking up our movement and body heat.

A short walk and I can see the Main Frame in its armoured column, with the sensor rack beyond, left past the ship’s office where the Exec enters and taps in a string of code into a console, and asks my name.


I look around at the tidy well organised office, the paintwork clean. Nice!

An exasperated sigh comes from the impatient officer as I try not to laugh.

‘‘Full name! And D.O.B. Miss…’’

‘‘Hey how do you know I’m not married!’’ I say affronted, teasing her lightly.

Kira replies sharply ‘‘Just an educated guess’’ looking over her cold shoulder, ‘‘and I’m still waiting for an intelligent answer!’’ sarcastically raising her eyebrows.

‘‘Constance Carmichael 02.20.1053.’’ I say chastised, respectful.

‘‘That’s sweet, nineteen and still wet behind the ears!’’ as the 3D office printer spits out the new access key, she attaches the lanyard and hands it to the dark-haired girl. ‘‘Don’t lose it, or it comes out of your pay when we have to change all the pass codes and keys.’’ The accusation made unfairly, baiting her, testing her character.

The office is at the back of the Bridge. In the middle the Captains seat on the left, Pilot on the right, there are two large tactical screens above the raised armoured shutters, light flooding through the thick clear plassteel windows.

She can see people on the upper ring glancing down through the heavily screened portals set at intervals around the dock. In front and below the Captain, the Engineering seat and next to that…. No way, the Gunnery console, she looks at the blonde girl with a sense of dread.

‘‘Yes, that’s right, I’ll be keeping a close eye on you on and off duty. Don’t get any ideas about my brother, I know that look, he’s married! and I promised Clara I would make sure nothing happens to him, you comprendo!’’

‘‘Keep it in your pants, I don’t care what you do planet side, just so you don’t disrupt the fine balance onboard. We do not need the added drama of a hormonal teenager causing friction between the crew,’’ Kira smiling to herself watching the new girl turning an angry red at the unwarranted slur.

The novelty of this encounter had disappeared rapidly for Conny with that last harsh remark, she was just unpleasantly… infuriating!, she wanted to scream at her.

Pointing opposite, the Med Bay ‘‘I’m your Medical Officer as well, so you will be getting a full health assessment before we lift off.’’

‘‘Great,’’ she says under her breath, just my luck to get the wrong side of this nut job. The hostility building between them escalating rapidly spiralling out of control, so much for being happy to help!

‘‘If you have illegal substances in your bloods, I will take immense satisfaction in insuring you are clean before we jump.’’ It was a promise not a threat!

Wow even better it was as if she wanted her to just throw the towel in and leave!

‘‘The only drug in me will be Caffeine’’ she retorts tartly, that’s if it’s not as bitter as her new adversary, what a bitch! can she be any more hostile? Probably will be a safe bet. This girl has to be a one off, nobody, and I mean nobody could be this obnoxious!

Moving deeper into the ship glaring at the back of that arrogant blonde head, watching the long braid swing from side to side. Wanting to tug it hard! the urge was so strong her fingers were flexing involuntarily, though looking at her broad shoulders, long strong neck, and the cat like way she moved she decided that it was obvious who would end up with a good hiding!

Looking right the Exec says ‘‘Food store on the right, Low Birth Bay at the end.

She shudders, hoping she never has to be frozen like a popsicle, your chances of surviving depending on luck, a good medic! and more luck, 3 percent of people don’t make it, and that’s if you believe the propaganda.

She hears ‘‘Galley on the right.’’

Her head swivels round, the blonde had marched on whilst she had been daydreaming.

‘‘After you!’’ the tall Frost Lander says, keying the door on the right, ‘‘you’re in 6 with Anya our Navigator, dump your kit on the top bunk and we’ll go down to Engineering.’’

She presses the pad and the internal door cycles open, a fresh smell of lemons to greet her. She breathes deeply of the clean air momentarily closing her eyes on the threshold. The internal light off, she sees a shape under a duvet turning over and hears the faint sound of rustling, a mumble of sleepy complaint from the occupant on the lower bunk as she gently places her bag on the top one and retreats backwards out of the room keying the door closed.

Looking left she can she the dockside through the large window at the far end of the room. This is The Grande Refectory comprising of a real wooden table large enough to seat ten guests with matching carved chairs, all tethered to prevent them drifting about if the gravity fails.

Ignoring the Exec, trailing her long fine fingers along the polished surface of the exquisitely inlaid table, Constance walks towards a pair of comfortable brown leather couches at the far end of the room. Beyond them unbelievably an observation window three metres wide and two high, looking out into the space port, allowing the bright light to stream into the room.

The armoured shutters are open to the dockside where the thick plassteel clear panels are safe from micro meteors and the junk usually orbiting settled worlds.

‘‘Nice place you have here, do you entertain often?’’ she asks in wonder wandering towards the view out of the Observation Window, a vast improvement over the old, tired Medusa trying once again to engage with her host, sighing sadly when she hears a derisive scoff.

‘‘I’m glad we now have a comedian onboard, maybe you can put a show on for us, a seductive dance on the table for a finale, I’m sure you have some great moves.’’

Putting her finger to her mouth musing, ‘‘I will call it Inflight Entertainment, you are sure to be a real hit with the crew, when portside we could bring a pile of dockers in and charge them a small fortune.’’

Delighted as she sees the brunettes head dip at the scathing criticism.

Kira has no idea why she is being so horrible to the new girl. She should not have the face of the sister she lost so long ago. The girl is beautiful outlined against the window, she looks like an angel bathed in the halo of glaring light shining in from the dock. Stopping to stand stiffly at her patronising remark, she can feel the girl’s anger brimming. That’s Herttu ‘the name meaning Shining Spear in her tongue… is Her in every small heart breaking detail.’ She thought she could intimidate the young woman, the baiting achieving it’s purpose of driving this apparition away.

Conny has had enough, shouting ‘‘What the hell is the matter with you? Are you always such an obnoxious cow! or is it just a part of your charming personality?’’

Kira feels shame at treating the girl so badly, her face bringing back memories she has tried so hard to bury. She is losing it, adrift and lost in the past trauma, reliving the nightmare in a brief flashback, her soul screaming, cold and in shock, bleeding…. Her life draining away…. The last memory…. Herttu’s sweet, armoured face…. then her world changed forever.

Turning Constance storms towards her room brushing past the blonde to collect her kit bag, the contact of her hand on the girls skin as she thrusts past her is like an electric shock. Seeing anger in her ice blue eyes and deep pain, her own hot fury overruling her mind she marches onward her world imploding once again, but before she can key the door she collides with Mikhail, walking straight into the Captain dressed in his working fatigues.

The new Engineer red faced hot with anger, his younger sister white, a temper he knows is churning below a thin surface of control.

‘‘You girls getting along OK!’’ seeing the confused look from them both.

‘‘I’m leaving, you can find another Engineer. I’ll take my chances with the corrupt lying b*****d’s port side.’’

Confused he says ‘‘But you seemed happy to be joining my crew!’’ realising they need the girl if they are going to stick to the planned schedule.

‘‘Your Sister is a real piece of work, I suggest you put her back on her leash before she savages anyone else.’’

Rolling his eyes up then back to her warm hazel gold flecked one’s. ‘‘I’m sorry’’ he says to her, looking up into a pair of pale blue shards of ice behind the girl’s shoulder.

‘‘Apologise to Constance Kira, I know you feel protective of me, but I’ve had just about enough of this nonsense.’’

He folds his arms, raising one eyebrow, ‘‘I’m still waiting!’’

Looking at her older brother she says ‘‘I’m sorry.’’

‘‘I know you are, but Constance is the one you are supposed to be apologising to!’’

She turns towards the dark-haired girl, ‘‘I sincerely apologise for my…. Behaviour,’’ glancing at her brother grinding the words out. ‘‘I can be a bit of a bitch sometimes.’’

Just rubbing salt into the open wound the brunette smiles brightly and unable to help herself says ‘‘just call me Conny. Is it OK if I call you Kira’’ smiling sweetly. She leans forward rising on her toes kissing her cheek, whispering in her ear ‘‘or is it still Mistress you Cold Bitch!’’ so only the blonde girl can hear it, seeing an angry twitch of her lip out of the corner of her eye?

The Captain is relieved, ‘‘I can see you two getting on like a house on fire, you’ll be best friends in no time,’’ beaming at them with more optimism than he actually felt.

Looking at his sister saying ‘‘you could do with another girl on board, it’ll be good for you its about time you had a real friend, you spend to far much time on your own.’’

He sees his sister’s eyes widen with incredulity.

This is absolutely not what she needs, what the blonde needs is no reminder of what she had lost, even if it was a very long time ago. Dreading the inevitable nightmares lurking in the shadows.

Constance smiles wickedly ‘‘I’d love that, I’m feeling right at home already.’’

Kira has a hard glance at the new girl, a promise of unfinished business between them in that icy look.

Watching the blonde girl smartly disappearing into the corridor Mikhail sighing says ‘‘Sorry, she can be exasperating at times. I worry about her.’’

‘‘Is she sick?’’ Conny asks wondering if she has caught anything!

‘‘Yes and no, it’s some form of Post-Traumatic Stress from her time in the Military.’’

She looks at the tall blonde girl as she disappears from sight into the corridor. Sighing with relief, just mental then! Maybe she is a nut job after all, volatile and armed not a particularly safe combination on a spaceship, especially now she has just painted a large target on herself.

She should definitely refrain from pushing her buttons, but for some irrevocable reason she just can’t, as if she is destined to clash with the hard-faced young woman.

‘‘She won’t speak about what happened, but she was the only survivor of whatever mission she was on, the other seven marines didn’t make it,’’ Mikhail recalling the awkward and painful conversation.

''I got the impression they were a really tight bunch. There is a great wound that will not heal in her, the pain showing in her haunted eyes sometimes.''

She had seen that deep pain...

Remembering the touch.

January 29, 2022 13:42

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