Touched by Hell Part one
Hellfire art work
The opening to Volume two of the Hellfire series
Volume 2 of the Hellfire series shows you a darker side to space travel. If you like a story with a bit then read on as this will have you on the edge of your seat.
Touched by Hell
Aboard the small interplanetary shuttle Pay-check, the crew of the destroyed ship Payload are on their way back from Zedust colony, after making a delivery of expensive crystals for a customer that didn’t want to pay the high customs taxes during the ongoing Plotation, Caridian war. It has been a whole day since the shuttle left the colony with their pay for the job and everything seems to be going well.
Business as always
I felt a hand on my shoulder gently shacking me as I heard the voice of my navigation’s personnel Miller saying,
‘Captain it is your shift, there is not much to report and I got to get some sleep. These long journeys are killing me.’
I opened my eyes and pull myself out of the make shift sleeping quarters as I replied,
‘Ok, I’m up. Come on Andrew it’s our shift, get up.’
I started to move over to the small door that led straight to the cabin of the shuttle as I turned and asked Miller,
‘So everything is good, and we are still on course?’
‘Yes Captain but there is just one thing.’
‘Well what is it Miller?’
‘Nothing much, it’s just that we seem to have picked up a ship on the edge of our scanners.’
‘Who are they?’ I asked.
‘The ship is reading a Caridian signal and it seems to be moving slowly across the sector.’
‘Do we have any communication from them yet?’
‘No, I just guessed that they were patrolling the area, you know.’
‘I suppose so, now get some sleep. Andrew come on, get up it’s our watch.’
I moved through to the front of the shuttle and over to the pilot’s seat as I put my hand on Phillips shoulder and stated,
‘Come on you need to get some rest.’
‘Thanks Chris. I just hope we can afford a better ship soon with real living quarters.’
I smiled at Tom Phillips as I replied,
‘Just another couple of months now and we should be able to afford that star classed frigate. I know its second hand but it’s much bigger than this shuttle.’
‘Yea, and then we can really make some credits.’
‘Just keep that in mind, now go get some rest and that’s an order.’
‘Yes Captain, have a good shift.’
I sat down and gazed out at the stars before I checked over the ship’s controls. Miller was right there was a Caridian military ship on the edge of our scanners. But it seemed to be moving very slowly away from us, so I just ignored it and continued to check the ship’s systems.
‘Good morning Chris, how are you?’ Andrew stated as he took up the co pilot’s seat.
‘Good, but Phillips is right. We need a better ship.’
Andrew started to check over the systems as he rubbed his neck.
‘Do you want a coffee?’ I asked.
‘Yea, but what’s going on with this ship on the scanners?’
‘It looks like it is just passing through.’ I replied as I got up and moved over to the food dispenser on the wall. I punched in the order for the coffees and moved back over to the pilot’s seat once I had got them. I then passed one of the drinks to my first officer.
‘Thanks, but it looks more like it’s drifting to me.’ He replied.
I checked back over the scanner’s readout and he seemed to be right. So I pulled up the readout for the last hour and checked it over.
‘Your right it is drifting, I wonder if it has been attacked. Can you try to get them on an open channel, and see if they need any help?’
Andrew turned his chair to the communication’s console as he opened up a channel before he relayed our message of assistance. He tried several times, but with no reply to our calls I said,
‘Ok knock it on the head. Let’s try a scan for life signs and if it shows up nothing I will get onto the Caridian military to see what they have to say.’
‘Scanning it now Chris.’ Andrew replied
I turned to the readings we had already recorded on the ship to find that its fleet name was Nightfall and that it was an old destroyer classed warship.
‘Chris I think you should know that there are no life readings aboard. Shall I open you up a channel to the military?’
I nodded in agreement as I continued to drink my coffee.
‘Channel open, Captain.’
‘This is the independent shuttle Pay-check. We have picked up a drifting Caridian warship called Nightfall on our scanners. It is reading no life signs, so would you like us to bring her in for you?’
There was a moments silence before we got a reply.
‘Ha Chris is that you? Artos here, your message was relayed through to the closest warship. Anyway thanks for the offer. But that ship has been missing for five years now and its class was decommissioned two years ago. It’s yours if you want it. I can give you some codes if you bring me a copy of the ship’s last recorded logs, so what do you say?’
‘Thanks we will check it out then, and it’s good to hear from you again Captain.’
‘Likewise, just be careful kid. That ship was in uncharted space when it went missing. Now I have a war to fight, so Artos out.’
The com line cut and both Andrew and I looked at each other before he said,
‘Well we need a bigger ship.’
‘Yea, so let alter course and get there before anyone else does.’ I replied.
‘Course altered and E.T.A in five hours.’
‘Well, I will go and prep the boarding equipment, if you keep us on course.’
‘Of course Chris, shall I let the rest of the crew know what’s happening?’
‘Not just yet, let’s let them get some sleep first. Well for the next few hours at least.’
I got up and moved over to the middle of the shuttles living area, where there was a large floor panel with a hidden release switch built under a small steel cover. I pulled the panel open and started to pull out several pieces of equipment, as I placed them on the floor next to me. Andrew got up from the controls as he stated,
‘I have locked the ship on course. Do you fancy something to eat while we prep?’
‘Yea why not, we have a few hours to kill.’
Boarding the unknown
Four and half hours later everything was ready and I had gathered the whole crew together for a briefing before we attempted to land on the drifting ship. All six of us were now in the cabin area of the shuttle while we fast approached the drifting ship. I look at my crew as I addressed them,
‘Ok as you know we are approaching a drifting Caridian warship. It has no life reading we can pick up on, and the military have said they have no need of it. So this means it is ours if we want it.’
‘It all sounds too good to be true, so what’s the catch?’ Miller asked.
‘Well that’s it, the only thing is the ship has been missing for five years and from the information the military sent us. They say they lost contact with her in uncharted space. So we need to be careful.’ I replied.
‘Careful of what, you have already said that the ship has no life readings?’ Phillips asked.
‘Good question, but something must have happened to the crew and from the stories we have all heard about drifting ships. The ones with no life signs are the worst.’ I replied.
‘So we’re going on old ghost ship stories, now are we?’ Phillips sarcastically replied.
‘Not exactly, but we do need to be careful. So until we know that the air is safe to breathe we will be using the face masks and I want everyone to be armed. Just in case this is a trap and something jumps out of the warp when we are all on board. Any questions anyone?’
The crew stayed quiet for a moment so I continued as I handed out the face masks and laser pistols saying,
‘Ok then, keep these on and keep your guard up. We will keep in touch over the com and I will split us into three teams. Andrew and I will head for the bridge to take control of the ship. Hudson, Miller and Phillips you will need to head to the engine room to find out what state the ship is in before we try to move her. That leaves you Richards to keep watch on our shuttle. That means you will lock the door behind us once we leave and let us know if anything turns up on the shuttles scanners that maybe of help to us. Any questions at all?’
Again the crew stayed quiet and there seemed to be an air of excitement in the room.
‘Ok then let’s get to work and we should have a new ship by the end of the day. Miller take the pilot’s seat, Richards take up the co pilot’s seat and let’s get this ship landed.’
I heard the crew agree as we switched places and I picked up my G8 Reaper gun and handmade energy sword. I saw Andrew look at me with a smile as he said,
‘Don’t you think that’s a little over the top Captain?’
‘Maybe but if this is a trap, you know pirates like to use stabbing weapons and no one is going to argue with this gun, if they have any sense.’
‘I’m glad I’m on your side mate.’
I smiled back at him before I turned to look out of the shuttle’s forwards windows. Now we were approaching the drifting warship. I could see that the ship must have been drifting for years now. Its outer hull was marked and scarred from being hit by space debris and asteroids. Still it looked in reasonable condition and we needed a bigger ship, even if it was on the old side.
‘Well she looks like she could do with a good servicing.’ Hudson stated with a warm grin on his face.
‘Don’t be too hasty yet, we have to make sure she is safe for space travel first.’ I replied.’
‘Oh don’t worry Captain. I will have her ship shape in no time.’
‘I bet you will, now what are we waiting for let’s get landed.’ I replied.
We came in close to the drifting ship as Miller flew our shuttle to the underside of its hull as he stated,
‘I have located the fighter bay and with any luck, we should be able to land in there without any trouble.’
He was right the doors to the bay where wide open and with the ship’s shielding down, we could put down safely and close the doors by remote with the pass codes that Captain Artos had sent us. I continued to watch from the shuttle’s front windows as Miller began to land our ship. I also noticed that the shuttle bay seemed to be completely empty and in immaculate condition. Our shuttle gently bumped as Miller landed her before he stated,
‘That’s it we’re down and I am starting to close the doors behind us. It should then take about five minutes to get a safe atmosphere in the fighter bay before we can leave the ship.’
‘Great, now once that door opens I want everyone to be on full alert. I also need you to wear the face masks until we can confirm what happened to the crew and that the air is safe to breathe. Ok.’
Everyone agreed as I pulled on the breathing equipment and picked up my sword and gun. Andrew pulled on his face mask as he said,
‘Now we have four hours of air in these things. So let’s make sure we make this place as safe as we can, as fast as we can.’
The computer console beeped to indicate that the atmosphere outside of the ship was now at a safe level.
‘Ok then, what are we waiting for? Let’s get that door open and move out.’ I ordered.
Miller released the shuttle’s door and it hissed as the two atmospheres mixed. I could feel a cold blast of air come from the fighter bay and it was clear that the ship had not been heated for a long time.
‘I moved boldly through the open doorway and stepped onto the strange ship as I ordered,
‘Let’s move out.’
My crew followed as I moved across the open hanger bay towards an open doorway on the other side of the room. I drew my gun as we approached the doorway and Andrew moved over to my side while he was looking at a portable scanner unit.
‘Any think showing up yet?’ I asked.
‘It’s strange Chris, I am getting no life sign at all from the corridors and rooms on this scanner but.’
He paused as he stopped in his tracks. I also stopped and moved back over to him as he continued to say,
‘Well, I seem to be getting movement from the rooms ahead of us and I have checked the scanner’s systems over. It confirms that it is registering just six life reading and that is us.’
I looked at the screen to see that some of the rooms ahead of us were reading steady movement. But no life reading at all as I asked,
‘Could the ship’s walls be interfering with the scanner’s read out?’
‘No I don’t think so, or the scanner would not read the movement from the rooms either.’
‘Ok people, I think we should check out one of the rooms and find out what’s moving in there. So ready your weapons and let’s stay alert.’
‘Agreed Captain. Now we should head this way.’ Andrew stated as he pointed towards a doorway to the far right of the corridor we were standing at the entrance of. I moved into the corridor as my crew followed and we soon found ourselves at the closed door as I asked,
‘Is this the first room reading movement?’
‘Yes Captain, just one movement pattern. It seems to be circling the middle of the room.’
This all seemed strange and as I moved my hand over to the door release panel I said,
‘Ok cover my back.’
I pushed the open door button and the small doorway hissed as it slid open. The room was fully lit with little in there other than shelving racks lining all the walls. I could see a figure standing facing the wall. It seemed to stop what it was doing as the door opened and I could see that it was wearing a dirty gray military overall. I pointed my gun at the man as I said out load,
‘Hello, do you need any help?’
The figure turned around to face me slowly and I could see that its lower jaw was missing. The man had a vacant look on his decayed looking face. But as he spotted me in the doorway his eyes seemed to glaze over and then without notice he lunged for me while starting to moan. I didn’t wait to find out what it wanted and fired off a single shot at its chest. The G8 Reaper’s shot tore through its body, throwing the man like a ragdoll back against the wall where it slumped to the floor. My heart was pounding in my chest as I kept my gun trained in on it for a moment.
‘Well I guess it is dead now Captain.’ Miller stated.
‘What the hell just happened?’ I asked as Andrew moved passed me into the room, I lowered my gun as Andrew moved his scanner up in front of the dead man.
‘I just need to get some closer reading and then we may kno…’
Suddenly Andrew fell back as the dead man moved forward towards him as it moaned while reaching for my crewman. Andrew dropped his scanner as he grabbed for his laser pistol. The man’s top torso ripped off as it tried again to grab for him. There were then several laser shots as Andrew fired his gun at the things head until the thing slumped to the floor in a lifeless pile of blood and flesh.
‘I think we should leave now.’ Andrew stated as his hands shuck, while he pulled himself up to his feet.
‘Are you alright?’ I asked.
‘Yes, but it scared the hell out of me.’
I moved passed him and retrieved the scanner from the floor. I then moved back over to what was left of the dead man like thing and ran another scan of the body. Andrew moved back into the corridor as I heard him order,
‘Weapons ready and cover our way ahead while we check over what is left of the body.’
He then came back into the room and moved over to my side as he asked,
‘Well have we found anything out from the body?’
‘More than I thought we would. The body is confirmed as humanoid, but in a state of advanced decay. The scanner readout from when the thing attacked me makes no sense. It had no heart beat or body heat, and the only thing the scanner could pick up on was a very low level of brain activity.’
‘So what you’re saying is the man was already dead. But he was still moving around because his brain was still active.’
‘Yes, that’s about it and once you shoot it in the head, the brain stopped functioning and the body stopped.’ I replied as Andrew looked at me with disbelief.
‘You’re saying we just had to shoot a Zombie.’
If you enjoyed this first part of the book checkout the link below to read more and enjoy.
Get volume 2 here
- Touched By Hell (Hellfire) eBook: Christopher Sharman: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store
Touched By Hell (Hellfire) eBook: Christopher Sharman: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store