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   Chapter 10 No.10

Dead Beckoning By Christina Engela Characters: 5942

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

"Really? Now where did you find time to get me a present?"

"Who says I got you anything?" She replied coyly.

"You are just too bad!" He laughed out loud.

* * *

Space was an interesting place. It could be dangerous and violent, overflowing with the destructive forces that extinguish stars and form new worlds, or it could be placid and serene, filled to the top with endlessly unchanging starscapes – peaceful, beautiful and so boring – but regardless of which side of space one happened to see, it had one constant: its vastness, and its loneliness.

Caries was a curious little world, part of a four-planet star system that lay at the outskirts of civilization. The other three were uninhabitable and beyond all realistic hope of terraforming. The innermost world was a gas giant, the second was also close to the sun and had a surface temperature the melting point of lead, and the third was a lifeless, airless carcass of a world.

Caries had some interesting local life that had survived the terraforming process that gave the world oxygen and water and an atmosphere for the Humans to breathe… Interesting sulfur-based life, like the forests of giant mold-like plants which covered the hills and plains of Caries – some of which appeared to be growing on each other – making it look to the rest of the universe like a discarded week-old slice of bread. The planet's main only claim to fame so far was the science station situated at the North Pole, euphemistically called Geek City, where lab-coated figures stared at space and at the star at the center of this unimpressive system to try and learn secrets nobody else seemed to understand or care about.

Civilian life on Caries mainly revolved around the prospectors and miners interested in the rich minera

r even, but his eyes told a different story altogether.

There was one other thing that set him apart, his one Achilles heel, and that was that he had a conscience, and that deep down he really was a good man. He was more certain of that now, ever since his new friend and savior in the Imperial Space Fleet had recently tried to convince him of that. He was a man who just happened to lose his way… and then had been lucky enough to find it again. This was a man of uncertain origins, with no confirmed identity but the one he chose for himself…but in truth, his history went back a little further than that. Quite a bit further, actually, but he didn't really wish to dwell on that at the moment either. At any rate, further back than the past month he'd spent on this dreary chunk of desolation on the edge of known space…

He suppressed an involuntary shudder, returning to the present. He smiled again at the girl sitting on his lap at the bar. She was pretty, far more pleasing to the eye than all those nightmare memories he was trying so desperately to forget. In all that time, she was the one person on Caries he'd spoken more than a one word sentence to. Or smiled for.

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