I have had an idea for a new story going around my head for a while, but I thought I'd put it a different setting. So here is the first chapter of a new story called Aurora and it's placed in some other solar system, some time in the far future, but the characters are all human, having colonized this part of the galaxy some millennia before.
So what I'm hoping to give you is an old fashioned love story with an element of mystery set in an environment that gives me some liberties beyond our contemporary experience.
Comments are always welcome. It helps me be a better author and will give you a better story.
The story is below, I hope you enjoy it.
Aurora- Chapter 1
Another Place, Another Time …
It was a rare sight. The colors of the aurora borealis sweeping through the dark sky where unusually bright and intense. This far to the north and at this point of the planet’s orbit around its aging sun, full darkness lasted only 30 standard minutes—human minutes—and the full cycle time was only five and a half hours, again in human terms.
It was peak darkness now and the next peak was still five and a half hours away and what show the aurora would put on then was anybody’s guess. The lights were fickle. So anyone who had a view of the sky through a skylight, window, view port or even a slit was captured by the spectacular display outside; anyone that is whose attention wasn’t captured by something else.
Though there was a skylight above him, at an angle that would have given him a prime view of the light storm outside, Commander Garran Raulsten saw none of it. He was sitting alone on a defendant’s bench with space for three, surrounded on three sides by ceiling-high steel walls and a fourth, removable floor to ceiling glass wall in front of him. A military court martial was in progress—his court martial—but Garran listened with only half an ear to the arguments that were being tossed back and forth around him. His so-called defense council was useless; the whole thing was a sham anyway. Held in enemy territory and being tried for treason, this was nothing but a publicity exercise and a show of power. One that would cost him his life and nobody was going to intervene on his behalf.
He had been the leader of a secret commando squad sent by his government to assassinate an inconvenient, but powerful crime lord who was effectively holding the purse strings of the elected planetary government of Horlus I, the planet he was currently on. Though hardly hospitable, Horlus I, the closest to the sun in this solar system, had been colonized by humans centuries ago. Because of the lack of a true biosphere, the planet was a prime location for resource exploitation and waste dumping, and access to the resources was at the root of this mission. This godforsaken black-ops mission that had started going wrong long before the moment he had been shot and captured by the thugs posing for representatives of Horlus I’s planetary defense force. And now his own government and military superiors back on Horlus III were washing their hands of him, denying any involvement in the failed attack.
There had to have been a leak, within his own government Garran assumed, because it was the only explanation for how they had been so neatly ushered right into a deadly trap. Five of his best men, five of his closest friends, dead; he had been the sole survivor.
Since the outcome of the trial was already predetermined, he refused to participate in this farce in any way. He kept his eyes lowered, his gaze alternating between his hands, his right leg and boot and the concrete floor. At least that’s where he tried to keep it, but he was fighting a losing battle against himself. His gaze was inexorable drawn back to his left leg. If the angle at which he looked was just right it looked just like a normal leg, but he had only to flex or extend his left knee a tiny bit and all pretense was lost. Most of his lower left leg was gone. The sight still took him by surprise every time; to speak nothing of the feeling. There was no way he could put it into words, that combination of lack of sensory feedback because his leg just wasn’t there anymore combined with phantom sensation and pain.
He had been shot through his ankle during the raid nearly two weeks earlier. Had he been on his home world, his rank and status would have guaranteed him the highest level of medical care and he was sure his ankle could have been fixed. If not he would have been eligible for an immediate cybernetic replacement, a temporary measure until a new leg had been bio-engineered for him and transplanted. That is if he wanted it. He knew of some among his fellow commando units who kept their cybernetic parts permanently, swearing that they were more functional and useful to their jobs.
Being where he was though, Garran thought, that maybe he should be grateful he had received any kind of medical treatment at all, even if it was the most basic treatment possible. Cutting off a limb to be fitted with a simple mechanical prosthesis was the level of care reserved for the poor and disenfranchised.
But no, they had needed him alive to make an example out of him. But the blatant disregard for his rank as well as physical wholeness spoke volumes about their intentions and left only one possible outcome. He wouldn’t live long enough to ever be fitted with a prosthetic leg of any kind, let alone a biological replacement. Even the bright red prison jumpsuit he had been given had been tailored, with the left leg shortened and sown closed at the end, just another little cruelty to remind him that they didn’t intend for him to have a leg, mechanical or otherwise.
Back in his cell he had followed the censored news reports on his trial, the truth heavily twisted and contorted to fit their agenda and they only ever showed him sitting with his lower body concealed or in a head shot so that back on Horlus III everyone would be assuming he was unharmed, while in truth he dragged himself around with the help of a pair of old-fashioned crutches.
As he slowly bent and extended his left knee back and forth, Garran stared at the stubby piece of lower leg that remained, all six inches of it. Why in Horlus’ name did they amputate almost his entire lower leg if all that had been hurt had been his ankle? At the one time he had been seen by a human doctor instead of an FRM, a field robotic medic, he had posed the question, but the man had obviously been under orders to refrain from talking unless absolutely unavoidable, so his answer had been a cagey. “It was necessary.” Necessary my ass.
Suddenly Garran became aware of the silence that had descended around him and he cursed himself under his breath for completely tuning out of his surroundings. It was so quiet that he wondered if everybody was collectively holding their breaths. Just then the silence was shattered by the thundering voice of the presiding, judge and jury in one. “I ordered the traitor to rise,” he boomed.
Garran struggled to stand up and balance on his foot, but he would be damned if he showed any weakness now, so he left the crutches on the floor and straightened out his 6’3 frame. He braced his good leg against the bench and clasped his hands behind his back. For the first time he raised his gaze straight ahead and regarded the presiding with a menacing glare.
A man that Garran recognized as the target he had been sent to eliminate was standing behind the presiding, a little off to his right. The man leaned forward and whispered something into the presiding’s ear. In response he gave a curt nod and for a fraction of a second his features contorted into a grim smile. Then his face lost all expression again as he rose to announce the verdict and sentence. After five minutes of painful elaboration, he finally came to the pronouncement. About time, Garran thought, who at this time was struggling to maintain his military erect posture.
“ … and therefore, I pronounce the traitor to be executed by lethal injection.”
Despite the fact that he had expected just that, Garran felt his knee weaken and he struggled to remain standing. The glass panel in front of him slid down, disappearing into the ground and two hulking guards stepped in, grabbing him under his arms before he could sink down to the bench, hauling him off towards a door on the other side of the court room. Garran tried to keep up the pretense of walking with them, taking steps with his good leg, while the truncated left moved uselessly back and forth. He stumbled, but the guards didn’t care, they just dragged him on, down a short passage and into a room on the right that Garran immediately recognized as an execution chamber. The room was windowless and bare safe for a gurney with solid leather straps in the center of the room. He struggled, but despite his height and considerable strength the guards were unfazed. Within a minute they had him strapped to the gurney and one of them slipped the needle of a field syringe he had extracted from a pocket of his fatigues into Garran’s arm. The drug spread like fire through his body making his muscles contract. Garran instinctively tried to curl himself into a ball, but only his unrestrained left leg was able to cooperate, the thigh pulling up against his chest and his knee flexed fully, the stump of his lower leg pressing against his hamstring, as the calf muscle that had been wrapped over the end of the stump to provide padding contracted so strongly it felt to Garran as if his leg was being ripped apart. Torn between trying to hold on to his consciousness and silently begging for release from the pain in his amputated leg—after a few more seconds Garran’s world faded to black.
A few moments later a booming voice came over the intercom. “Take him to the operating theater, now!”