Nomads is my first experimental serial. The setting is futuristic with elements of armoured suits, diaspora fleets, and bugs. The experimental part is me trying to write cohesively and coherently in first person, with as little editing and preparation as possible.
“Hey Raven,” said Scorch through the side of his mouth. “What makes you think that these guys will attack immediately instead of waiting?”
I made a sour face at Scorch, not just because he was supposed to be playing dead in case someone was looking at him using internal cams. Every plan has a flaw. I assumed that whoever was behind the bomb would show themselves quickly to take advantage of the shock. They’d certainly want to attack before salvage investigations showed that the explosion was consistent with sabotage. But the truth is I was taking a gamble, and I would have trouble explaining my actions if Captain Otumo opened the door to find us all lying around covered in fake blood for shits and giggles.
I was saved the trouble of responding by Malificent; I’ve never seen anyone glare effectively through a single half-open eye, but that woman has serious skills. I head someone snicker. Sunspear probably.
The Dropship shook as the docking field took hold of us. Everyone became still. My mind was filled with unknowns; little scenarios about how the next few minutes of our lives would play out. If our guess was correct we would soon be in combat aboard the Falcon. What if our unknown subversives had smuggled more than a bomb on board?; nomad suits, attack drones, charges big enough to blow the Falcon, the potential situations went round and round in my head as I waited. I can never quiet my mind in that moment of anticipation just before the action starts; one more character flaw on the list I suppose.
There was a metallic click as the docking clamps followed by subtle change in the atmosphere. I always wonder if I imagine that last part, or if I really can feel as the ship engulfs us in her belly.
We waited. Minutes passed. Five. Ten. Fifteen. Even a cautious prick like Otumo would have sent in a drone to check for lifesigns by now. I stoop up, shaking off bug viscera. Tactical sparked to life as the rest of Bright Sword started moving.
“Helmets secured people,” I commed. “This bay isn’t pressurized yet. Either we’re going to catch them by surprise, or they’re set up to gun us down. I’m out first.”
“Why not send a seeker out?” said Sphinx.
“Because it doesn’t change what we’re going to do.” I said. I set my shields to max, full frontal. What I wouldn’t give for a functional shield drone. “On three.”
“One… two… three,”
I popped the drop hatch and leapt out of the Dropship. The bay was unlit and quickly sucked the atmosphere out of the dropship. Other than that things were eerily silent. Emergency lights flashed red through the control room window.
“Open the airlock, over-ride if you have to.” I said. We stepped in to the airlock. Still no resistance. Decontamination protocol activated automatically covering us in biokill sprays.
I commed Otumo on a secure channel while we waited. “Bright Sword alive and active. Status?”
After a moment. “Under attack. Lockdown has been over-ridden. We are holding the bridge. Require assistance.”
On tactical I highlighted the bridge as a conflict zone. This was our first goal. I did not want to split the team up, but Triumph convinced me to sent him, Scorch, and Malificent to secure the engineering deck. Weapons and engines are important, and after the bridge, engineering offers the most control over the ship.
The airlock opened and we started moving. I could see beamer scorch marks on the interior bulkheads. There was no movement in the corridor. We split.
“Plan?” asked Shrike.
“Tactical approach,” I said. In a boarding action on a hostile ship I would blitz, but I had no idea who was friend or foe at the moment. I did not feel like to add friendly fire to my saga.
I sent my remaining seeker drone, Munin, ahead of us. It didn’t take me long to find the first bodies, a couple of crewmen slumped next to each other near the next bay. They had been shot in the back of the head with a beamer, execution style. The bay was the one containing shuttle with the Cryopod. Several men in strange looking uniforms, silver and blue with masks, were examining the Cryopod. The bridge was still our first priority, so I had Sunspear remain behind to deal with them. No matter what tech their suits gave them, they weren’t a match for a Nomad sniper who had the drop on them.
I registered gunfire. Triumph group was still showing as clear. My drone rounded a corner and caught a glimpse of a handful of armed crewmen, security most likely, holding a barricade against a larger group of silver suited subversives. Both sides had wounded.
Tactical gave me a schematic of the entire ship. It was easy to find a round that allowed us to flank the attackers. I sent security a message on local via Munin.
The sad think about an enemy that wears masks is that you cannot see the looks on their faces as they realize they are completely and utterly outgunned. To their credit the Silvers did not run when they saw me, but rather turned an fired. Charge guns arcs and light blaster bolts bounced off my shields. A concussion grenade went off at my feet, staggering me before I could retaliate. The Silvers tried to take advantage of this, but Sphinx was behind me. A blaster shot smoked a hole in a silver. I shook off the grenade and shot a smoking hold in anothe with my tri-beam. They remained eerily silent. The rest turned to run, but ran into Shrike who cut two down with her shotgun. The last of them sought cover and kept shooting, but their position was compromised — we had them in crossfire. They kept shooting until the last one fell.
The security boys were all smiles as they came out from behind their barricades.