Renegades: The Gentle One: Excerpt

As Renegades: The Gentle One will soon be available in Print and is currently available as an ebook, I thought I’d give an excerpt from it.  The section below is an excerpt during a section of The Gentle One where the crew attempts to hijack an alien freighter in their attempt to escape the star system.

They sat quietly for long minutes while Ariadne stared at the freighter and tried not to worry.  She wished she could do something… “I’m an idiot.”

“Yeah, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” Mike asked.

“I can help, I can scout out what’s happening there with my mental powers,” Ariadne said.  Why had she not thought to do so?  Granted, it held risk, but her friends had already put themselves at risk, why should she not follow suit?”

“Uh, you can do that?” Mike asked

“Yes, I can try to focus on the other ship.  It’s difficult, not my strong point at all.  But maybe I can see where their crew is and what they’re doing,” Ariadne said.  “I just have to be careful not to join with one of the Chxor or if I do… well I need to avoid any kind of backlash from what they might feel or do.  Oh and I don’t want to overstress myself, especially because this is something I haven’t really experimented with.”

“What happens if you do that?” Mike asked.

“Um, well, If I overstress myself I could pass out, or if I really push too much I suppose I could fry my brain,” Ariadne said, “Or if I get some kind of feedback, well, I’m not sure.  Once I… had a connection with someone I killed and it nearly killed me.”

“I don’t think this is such a good idea,” Mike cautioned.

“Well, they might need my help,” Ariadne took a deep breath, “But don’t tell anyone I risked myself, please, I still don’t want them to know about my telepathic abilities.”

“Right, so if you keel over dead I should just tell them you had an aneurism?” Mike asked

“Yep,” Ariadne said.  “Oh, and please don’t let Run cut my brain up, that would be gross.”

“Yeah, it would be a real mess,” Mike said.  “When are you starting?”

Ariadne didn’t answer.  She closed her eyes and focused.  When she really felt calm, she opened her mind to the world around her.  It felt similar to when she used her abilities to navigate, except she could actually see things, and she consciously noticed things.  It seemed more difficult, and she could only sense a small area around her.  She could sense everything around her, the bloodstains in the seat, the small insect that had made some sort of nest under the console.  She could count Mike’s heart beats, which seemed to happen in slow motion.  She could vaguely feel movement throughout the rest of the ship, but could feel no details.  Slowly, she tried to expand that area of sensation, but it refused stubbornly.

Then she tried to move it.  It shifted, almost without resistance and she slid it up out of the ship towards the other vessel.  Darkness and silence immediately surrounded her.  For a moment she panicked as she lost even the sound of her own heartbeat.  The world simply vanished into complete darkness of the void.

Yet in that moment of panic, she felt something else.  She could feel the energy of the void, the slight hum of vacuum’s energy, and beneath the surface of reality itself, she could taste something else.  Without the interference of everything else… she could feel the fabric of Shadow Space.

Ariadne felt a moment of awe as she touched that boundary with her mind.  She had never approached her sense of Shadow Space from this method before.  It had always seemed a thing of intuition; something she unconsciously processed.  To feel it like she did now, it seemed so much more than the realm of shadows that most considered it.  She felt a sudden urge to dive deeper, to open her mind to that barrier and to taste the alien energy of that other universe.

Then she remembered her friends.  Her desire to help them overrode her curiosity.  She slid her consciousness further outward and then she felt the steel of a container at the edge of her senses.  As she moved further, she found that her sphere of senses had contracted over the distance.  More, she found that the details had faded.

Ariadne continued along the container until she reached where she felt the hull of the ship.  Her mind sank through the steel, and then through the insulation, conduits, and wiring.  They proved no barrier as she sank her mind deeper into the freighter.  Finally, she came to what felt like a galley.  She could sense a stove top and a meal heater.  She also felt several Chxor.  She could hear their conversation, and she could sense the edges of their minds, fuzzy with distance, but open and inviting.

A moment later, she felt a familiar mind sweep into the room.

She sensed Rastar enter, and then the reaction of the Chxor crew.  Most went still, their minds frozen by the impossible intruder.  One reacted quickly enough, however, to dive to the side.

She could hear and feel Rastar fire.  The shots seemed muffled, as did the Chxor’s scream of agony.  Ariadne sensed the other Chxor freeze, either frightened or aware that they would die if they challenged their attacker.

The situation seemed well in hand, so Ariadne sent her mind towards the aft of the ship.  She could sense the hum and energy of the ship’s fusion reactor.  As she approached it, she could feel the footsteps of two others.  Her mind caught up to them, unfettered by the speed at which they ran.  Her senses had grown less detailed, but the black shadow that raced down the corridor could only be Anubus.  The other seemed to be another Chxor.  She could feel both their hearts race as Anubus continued his pursuit.

The Chxor heartbeat picked up as he reached a closed hatch.  Ariadne could hear his hands as they scrabbled to open the hatch.  They rose to a crescendo as Anubus closed the gap.  Ariadne felt Anubus’s lunge, and his mind seemed to blaze for a moment as his jaws closed on the back of the Chxor’s neck.

Ariadne tore her mind away, terrified that Anubus’s mind would draw her in.  She went forward instead.  Her awareness seemed to move slower now though, and she felt the details fade even more.  Her bubble had contracted still further, she sensed details only a few meters in radius now.

Her mind found Eric and Simon as they pushed towards the bridge of the ship.  They stopped outside a hatch, and Ariadne pushed her mind through.  She sensed only one Chxor, his mind a still thing of order, like some clockwork machine.

Simon opened the hatch and Eric swept in, riot gun at the ready. The captain stood still, motionless and calm as Eric and Simon approached.  Yet something was wrong.  Ariadne could feel it, something about the Chxor captain’s calm put her on edge.

Even as she realized that, she felt her awareness start to fade entirely.  She could taste the edges of his mind, though, and in a last push of effort, she dove into it.

She almost recoiled from what she found there.  Inside the layers of angular logic and hard, emotionless decisions, she sensed a creature devoted to hate.  The Chxor captain might not even realize it, but he built his life on that hate.  A hate devoid of any kind of pity and long buried so deep that he could not know he held it.  Hate drove every action in his life, however, a burning hate for those who gave into the emotions that he had long denied himself.  A hate that fed on pain and cruelty to whatever other races came within his reach… and on whatever Chxor he found lacked a proper pattern of behavior.

 Yet as she recoiled, she could sense his thoughts.  She could taste his satisfaction, that even in his demise he would manage eliminate his killers.  They will have time to see their death and give into emotions such as despair before they die, the pathetic lesser creatures they are, he thought.

His hand darted for the switch on the console.  The switch which would initiate the program he had activated when he heard the first gunshot.  The switch that would drop the radiation containment on the reactor and flood the ship with lethal radiation.  It was the logical solution to the pirates who threatened him and the ship.  The ship would continue to its rendezvous in orbit over Logan Two, the pirates would die from the radiation surge, and the majority of cargo would remain intact, along with the ship after a cleaning procedure.

“No!” Ariadne shouted.  Her mind wrestled with that of the captain and for a moment, just a second, she had the strength, even over the distance, to hold his hand still.

In that moment, she shared his consciousness.  She sensed him recoil from the emotions he felt from her, even as a part of him railed at what his society had denied him.  She also saw through his eyes as Eric brought up his weapon.  She and the Captain both stared down the barrel of the riot gun.  “Eric, wait-” she spoke with the Chxor captain’s voice.

Eric squeezed the trigger.

Ariadne threw her mind away from the Chxor.  She had become too deeply meshed with his mind though.  She felt his mind vanish and the chaos of destruction nearly pulled her with it.  Her thoughts shattered and she felt herself scream as thousands of metal darts screamed through the brain that she shared.

Then her world disappeared into blessed, painless darkness.

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