Sorry for the delay. I have had much going on lately, so I decided to post what I have of the second part to Initiation. It is a little rushed, but I will continue to work on the rest of this series.
North American Space Union, space station: Silver Mountain, orbit over Earth
It should have been a sunny day. The swirling white clouds were avoiding the green conifer forests of western Washington, thundering upon the Oregon coast with what would soon be rain.
Correction, acid rain. It would definitely be acid, Ritchie thought.
He took the controls of the telescope, zooming in to the smoking ruins of his hometown. The skyscrapers were missing their upper floors and the network of freeways remained littered with cars and semi-trucks. Bullet trains and monorail cars were scattered along the vacant rails or smashed into the concrete below the viaducts like squashed watermelon. Worst of all, the bodies. Ritchie hated to spy on the resting places of dusty skeletons. The city’s bay was full of green and brown poison-water, dead fish beached along the sea walls.
Ritchie often wished he could go back to the time before the war, before those gray-skinned aliens arrived. That day was one he could remember clearly. A six-year-old boy, he was with his parents at Green Lake park learning to ride a bike. He had fallen a few times, on purpose, to get his parents to take him home. When that plan failed he sucked it up and began to ride on his own, which is when it all happened. The space ships entered the atmosphere and all hell broke loose. Life hadn’t been the same ever since.
“Doctor Scott, stop playing with the instruments and get back to work,” the voice on the intercom told him.
“Yes, sorry Sir.”
Ritchie watched the camera near the door stop beeping as the Captain stopped his spying. He turned the telescope off and stepped over to his messy work station, scattered across the tops of multiple tables. Test tubes were filled with a variety of liquids and substances that had been collected from the aliens. Scales and burners were placed around the workstation and data displayed lit up with plans, notes, and references.
It was Ritchie’s job to help what remained of human government to discover more about the aliens. That included alien technology, for which a separate workroom had been set up across the hall. Ritchie hadn’t been able to make any breakthroughs in understanding, and as a result he was in danger of being fired.
And in this day and age, being fired meant being returned to the dying planet below.
Ritchie had had some progress, however. He believed that he was getting close to understanding how aliens had been able to slip past human defenses without being detected during the invasion. His research just needed a final step. That step required funding and time, however. He knew the Captain would never approve of a mission to benefit his experiments, nor would he be able to convince what remained of the Earth Commonwealth government to grant him some. They had enough on their hands at the moment.
“Good day, Doctor,” an automated voice said as he began to work.
“Is it day?” Ritchie asked. “I seem to lose track of time out here, Terence.”
“So does everyone else, Doctor. Your work may have to be put on hold, I’m afraid. You are going to have some visitors.”
“They are on their way.”
Ritchie couldn’t remember a time that Terence, the station’s artificial intelligence, was completely helpful to him. He tended to only have a presence in the station’s bridge and in the engineering sectors, leaving little time with doctor. When Terence did decide to pay Ritchie a visit they were usually very quick meetings with very vague conversations.
Still, Ritchie respected the AI. He couldn’t be sure if it was because of Terence’s endless pit of information or because he had control of the station’s life support and gravity systems.
As Terence had promised, there was a tap at the door and sound of it sliding open. It was followed by the sound of boots and the rustling of combat armor. The man, Ritchie assumed it was a man anyway, grunted to get his attention. Ritchie removed himself from his studies and walked over to the man.
“What can I do for you?”
The man removed his black helmet to reveal his dirty, hairy face. “We have a wounded man. Captain said you could help us.”
“Well, don’t keep the man waiting. Bring him in,” Ritchie said.
“It’s not that simple,” the soldier explained. “He isn’t one of ours. We found him on that incoming cruiser. I’m afraid that you will have to come to him.”
Ritchie followed the soldier just outside the door and across the hall into the sick bay. The station’s medical team was out on a supply run on the Earth’s surface, leaving only Ritchie to deal with the medical duties. The man from the ship was strapped to an operating chair and surrounded by a dozen or so armed soldiers, including a few bear-like guards.
Cherjiks, he thought in disgust. They sure aren’t letting him go easily.
The man’s face was bloodied and his clothes were stained. His armor had been stripped off and piled on the floor and his shirt ripped in various places. His black hair was dripping with sweat and his face had concerned written all over it.
As Ritchie entered one of the men stepped before him. He was wearing a black helmet and visor, but Ritchie felt a chill run through him as he looked where his eyes would be.
“Finally!” The man spat. “Took you long enough doc. I thought you would already be in the sick bay.”
“My apologies,” Ritchie said. “I was not aware of the situation. I was just focusing on my research duties?”
“Research?” The man laughed. “I thought your name was Doctor Richard Scott.”
Ritchie nodded. “No matter, I will take care of the patient.”
The soldiers began to file out of the room, leaving only Ritchie, the man, and the patient. The man took one last glance at the patient before pointing a finger within the “too close for comfort” radius of Ritchie’s face.
“Don’t let him do anything stupid.”
The man rushed out of the room and sealed the door behind him, leaving the room silent, except for the light sound of the ventilation system and the hum of the station’s mechanisms. Ritchie approached the man, many questions burning through him.
“I am Doctor Scott, but you can call me Ritchie. I will be tending to your wounds. Now, please hold still.”