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(Contains: violence/gore and strong language)
If you're reading this, you're fucked.

The words themselves were ominous enough, but the fact that they were carved into the metal bulkhead spoke of how emphatic the writer was on the point. The faded bloodstains underneath hovered on the verge of being overkill.

The wall helped form a small, plain room, comprised of monotonous gray surfaces broken by hints of past violence: the odd bullet hole, strange gouges that were a hair's breadth from shearing through the panels, and the bloodstains that covered most of the floor and an alarming portion of the walls.

Technical Officer Jon Riley pressed his thumb against his envirosuit's collar and keyed his mic. "You guys on my deck yet?" he asked.

"Keep your panties on, tech-o. Jesus. You should love having a valid excuse to sit around with your thumb up your ass for once."

Riley grinned. "Thumb wasn't up my ass before, Luis. Speaking of which, how's your sister doin'?" he asked.

"She's a lesbian now. We burned through the lock; we're a couple hallways from the bridge. Hang tight, tech-o."

"Yeah, easy for you to say. You haven't been stuck in this room for the past hour," Riley grunted.

"Well, if you didn't suck at your job, we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place."

"You girls
do know this isn't a private channel, right? You two wanna make out after we're done, that's your business. Until then, could you at least pretend to be professionals, Technical Officer Riley? Staff Officer Ortega?"

Riley came to attention out of habit, even though there was no way Captain Shandra Hise could see him. "Yes, ma'am," he said, Ortega chiming in a half-second behind him.

"Good. We'll have you outta there soon, technical officer. Sit tight, and for the love of Christ keep the fucking channel clear."

"Yes, ma'am," Riley said again, then released his mic with a grimace. Taking a deep breath, he blew out his cheeks as he exhaled, running a hand over his short brown hair and studying the room for what had to have been the thousandth time.

This was not how he had envisioned this patrol going. It was bad enough their cutter, the UANF Roanoke, had been assigned to scan the Fringe. Just on the edge of known human space, all kinds of crazy shit had been rumored to occur in this area. As humans were under an embargo while their eligibility for joining the Coalition was being reviewed, until the petition was accepted no vessels were allowed to pass into or come out of humanity's astral territory.

Plenty of humans chafed at the restriction. They felt that if humanity wanted to leave their solar system and explore the rest of the galaxy for the first time in history, they should be able to, galactic council or no. It was the United Americas NavForce's job to ensure no one made it over the border. This made them targets to every xenophobic secessionist that decided anyone agreeing with the aliens was no longer human.

As if being stuck on the Fringe wasn't bad enough, they'd found a derelict transport floating across the stellar lanes. With the embargo, these lanes were used as often as a dick joke in a nunnery, but regulations required the damn thing to be investigated by the first arriving ship, and it had to be inspected on location to avoid a contamination risk for any space ports.

On paper it didn't sound so bad, but most transport class vessels near the Fringe were used for smuggling all kinds of materials into the system by enterprising aliens who wanted the first crack at a new market but weren't up to date on human biology. You could dock, open the first hatch, and be attacked by drug-addled spacers that hadn't realized the shit they were transporting wasn't meant for human consumption, infected by a virus that had decimated the crew, or get your own ship infested with critters whose breeding rates had been underestimated by the original haulers.

The fate of the UANF Kingston Falls was used as a cautionary tale as to why quarantine SOP's should be followed to the letter, no matter how cute and harmless an animal may look.

No life signs had shown up when they bioscanned the transport to ensure the air to be breathable and flesh-eating-bacteria-free – it was. There had appeared to be no reason for the vessel's abandonment – life support and engine diagnostics came back clean, and there was no obvious damage to the hull or interior. While the rest of his squad had gone down to the cargo decks to check for any clues as to the crew's fate, Riley – the sole technical officer – had been sent to bridge to try and hunt down any logs that could shed some light on the situation.

There had been one recoverable register – the computer system was not human, and most was beyond Riley's ability to decipher. He'd discovered that the Roanoke was not the first to investigate the transport. Riley had found a list of docking signatures large enough to cause him concern – one of them was a UANF FAC that had gone missing a month ago.

He'd been about to leave and rejoin the group when he'd noticed the open door to this room at the back of the bridge – it must have been a storage cupboard or something before being used to stage a blood bath. After the sterile emptiness of the rest of the ship, Riley had been intrigued by any signs of habitation, sinister though they were.

There must have been a sensor or something, because the second Riley crossed the threshold, the door had slammed shut behind him and trapped him inside. The inner panel had been smashed into uselessness, and the cover plate welded to the bulkhead so he couldn't pry it off and attempt a bypass. There was nothing else in the room that would help him. When he'd radioed his squad for assistance, he'd learned that every door on the ship had closed and locked at the same time this one had. He'd been forced to sit here in the death room as his team cut their way through to him.

While he waited, a growing sense of foreboding tightened Riley's shoulders and set him to keeping a hand on his pistol, though the thing gave him precious little comfort. He was a technical officer; he should never be in combat unless everyone else was dead. Riley tried to tell himself he was letting the room get to him, and he was jumping at shadows.

Still, it would be a relief when he was let out of here. Riley read the message again, and once more wondered why someone had gone to the effort of writing it – inscribing words into metal was not an idle task.

"Seniorman Tremblay? Where are you?" Riley jumped as Hise's voice snapped through his ear piece. "Seniorman Tremblay, if you're not in front of me in six seconds, I'm taking the cost of the boot I'm gonna lose up your ass out of your next paycheck."

That did not help ease Riley's mind at all. He keyed his mic. "Everything alright, captain?"

"Don't worry about it, technical officer. Just noticed somebody got lost. Dipshit must have – "

"Captain! Life signs are popping up all over the place near your location! I don't know how – shit, we've got an unidentified ship, coming in hot! Bastards came out of the Fringe! We're gonna undock for evasive ma – "


The ship was rocked with a violent shudder, pitching Riley to the side. "What the fuck was that?!" he demanded.

"No fucking idea! Roanoke! Roanoke, come in!"

The silence from the other end raised the hairs on the back of Riley's neck. "Ma'am...?"

"God damn it... Seniorman Soto, Staff Officer Roche, get back to the ship and figure out what the fuck is going on. Technical officer, unless you have something useful to add, stay off the fucking channel – we'll get to you soon."

"Yes, ma'a – "

Goosebumps rippled across Riley's skin as he heard the screams come over Hise's mic.

"Seniorman Soto! Staff Officer Roche! Damn it, what – "

The lights cut, plunging the room into absolute darkness, and Riley's earpiece gave out with a loud pop and a crackle of static. Cursing, he dug into his ear and tore the thing out. Fumbling at his collar, Riley tried to activate the sidelights, but whatever was affecting everything else had corrupted the electronics of his envirosuit, too.

The ship shook again, and the ensuing vertigo sent Riley crashing to the floor. "Captain Hise! Ortega! Anybody! What is going on?!" he shouted, though he doubted anyone could hear him. The distance would be too great for voices to carry.

Gunfire, however, was well within hearing range. Riley stiffened as he heard the report of pulse rifles, and a sense of dread curdled in his stomach as he realized this was nowhere near the controlled bursts they had all been trained to use; this was panicked firing.

It didn't last long. It was not the disciplined cessation of firing, signaling the target had been eliminated. This was a gradual lessening as the number of rifles – or the number of people firing them – decreased. All too soon, the last rifle fell silent, and Riley was left alone with the sound of his breathing for company.

The door hissed open, and Riley froze. With no light whatsoever, his ears were his sole source of information. "C-Captain?" he asked, his fear leeching most of the strength out of his voice. A series of odd footsteps crossing the room answered him – though he would not have been able to see his hand if it had been touching his nose, whoever had joined Riley had no trouble locating him. Riley scuttled away, pawing for his pistol. He never got the chance to draw it – something clamped around his throat, and as he was lifted into the air Riley had to use both his hands to keep his own weight from strangling him.

Though he was still blind, Riley knew whatever held him was not human – the limb seemed to be a combination of scaled fingers tipped with talons and smooth tentacles. Though xenobiology was a periphery class in basic training, Riley could not think of a single race that possessed that combination. Riley's panic flared, and he began clawing at whatever was holding him in a vain attempt to free himself.

Wheezing whimpers crawled out of Riley's throat as the barrel of a rifle was jammed against his sternum. "Wait...! Please.... please, don't....!" he panted.

He didn't hear the shot. His body was too focused on the white-hot agony that tore through his middle to be bothered with auditory input. In the split-second of illumination provided by the muzzle flash, Riley was treated to the face of a nightmare.

Riley was released, and his body thudded to the floor.

He was dead before the footsteps had finished retreating from the room.
August prompt for :iconscreamprompts:.

"Write a story. It should be at least 1000 words but no more than 2000. It can be a vignette or a short story. It can be any genre. It can be any POV. Hell, it can even be in 2nd person!

... You can't use any adverbs."


"Hey!" I thought to myself as I sat down to write this, "You know how adverbs are one of your biggest flaws, and you include them without even thinking about it? And you know how it's going to be difficult enough to write this story without using any? Well, why don't you make up an entire universe and try and smash it into coherency in less than 2,000 words! That should be fun!"

I am a goddamned idiot.

Still, though, I had a lot of fun writing this. I wish I could've gotten into worldbuilding a little more -- I'm learning I have a strange fondness for sci-fi -- but the cap wouldn't make it feasible. I still had to include the story, after all.

Speaking of the story, I tried to smash as much coherency into it as a could without revealing anything about the attackers. "Nothing is scarier," after all, and I wanted to experiment with that. I figure I'm already going to suck because of my adverbial Achilles' heel, might as well go for super-suck.

Tell me what you think and point out where I fucked up -- although I checked a thousand times, every look through dug up another adverb, so there's probably one a lot more lurking in there somewhere.

EDIT: Fuck, I just deleted another one. Then realized that certain derivatives of "fuck" could be considered adverbs. Christ, I'm bad at this game.

It's been too long since someone told me I was retarded, and my ego's getting uppity.

EDIT 2, THE SEQUEL: HOLY SHIT I GOT A DAILY DEVIATION! This marks my first ever DD, and I am SO honored! Oh, my goodness -- thank you to :iconbeccalicious: for the feature!

I would also like to thank the following:

:iconnikitadarkstar: for pointing out a few bits and pieces that I needed to work on.

:iconlinderel: for being such a lovely little helper -- I can't thank you enough for all the assistance you offered me!

and last but definitely not least,

:iconraspil: for creating a group that constantly sparks my imagination, and for giving a prompt that pushed the boundaries of my abilities.

Also, thank you so much to everyone who's commented, faved, and watched! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2012-10-10
Roanoke by ~mvtk42 ( Featured by Beccalicious )
:iconshadowofnifaris:
ShadowOfNifaris Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Here I was thinking this would be about the Roanoke incident...xD

You are quite talented to create such a vivid world in such a limited word count (and NO ADVERBS!).

The DD is well deserved my friend ^_^
Reply
:iconmvtk42:
mvtk42 Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! I'm honestly not sure which was more difficult: the no adverbs or the word count. But I'm glad I managed to make it entertaining! Thank you!
Reply
:iconragnarok995:
Ragnarok995 Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Student General Artist
This is going in my favorites. Write a sequel please. NAO!
Reply
:iconmvtk42:
mvtk42 Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I probably will, don't worry.

Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it!
Reply
:iconbag-fu:
bag-fu Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Loved this! Very easy to visualize the action and a great job building the tension. I'd love to read more, too.
Reply
:iconmvtk42:
mvtk42 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much! I'm glad the tension built nicely -- I was afraid I was throwing it at you too fast after the exposition. Thank you for the lovely comment!
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:icondrawitout:
drawitout Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
Enthralling writing! congratulations on the well deserved DD. c:
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:iconmvtk42:
mvtk42 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much!
Reply
:iconrion-the-fox:
Rion-The-Fox Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Had I have found this without the DD, Id've said the exact same thing.

This one is beautiful, and arranged in such a stunning way that I can't put it into words.

The fact that it's devoid of adverbs in entirety is astonishing - that kind of devotion takes a special kind of focus.

I must sat in all honesty that this universe - no matter how established or not - should have had the tiniest little followup.

Besides, I'd love to see what monstrosity lurks beyond...!
Reply
:iconmvtk42:
mvtk42 Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:blush: Thank you very much for the lovely comment! I really appreciate it!

It was rather difficult to make sure there weren't any adverbs -- I'm a recovering adverb addict, and they have a habit of sneaking into my writing when I'm not paying attention. It was a neat exercise to completely erase them, mainly because it was so difficult. I highly recommend trying it.

I'm glad everyone's enjoying the universe! I'm actually amazed at the reaction I've gotten to it -- and frankly a little intimidated. Like, "Oh, God, how am I going to be able to write something everyone enjoys just as much?"

Thank you again!
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