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The Nebula's Tide

By Piper Cleaveland All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Romance

Spotting Stars

A golden comet. That was the last thing Dr. Kala Leahy saw before her ship was struck off course. An orange halo, cradling its burning treasure through space, cut suddenly through the spangled darkness. Offsetting the doctor’s equipment as it passed, Kala hardly heard the ship’s warnings before she caught a glimpse of the rare sight.

Comets in the beta quadrant were exceptionally common. But even the most diligent star chasers would not likely spot a golden comet in their entire lifetime. Though its beauty only served to amaze the doctor for a brief moment, it kept Kala’s eyes away from the controls just long enough for a cloud of debris to come racing toward her starboard engine.

The spacerocks collided with the Federation craft and as they shattered, the fiberglass-like particles were instantly sucked into the forward compressor, jamming the rotary propulsion and sending the doctor’s ship spiraling out of control.

Kala tore her eyes from the cockpit window and grabbed at the handles of the steering mechanism. Amid the flashing of red safety lights and wailing alarms, the metallic voice of the ship’s computer proceeded to inform the doctor that her autopilot had been disengaged and the manual steering override was now in effect.

Tell me something I don’t know,” she cursed at the computer through gritted teeth, trying desperately to find a center point among the whirlpool of stars that spun round and round before her. But no matter how hard Kala tried, she could not right the ship out of its corkscrew dive.

"Obstacle approaching. Crash imminent. Prepare for impact," the voice called again.

Kala could just barely see the dark shadow of something large emerging beneath her. Abandoning hope for control, she took the computer’s advice and released the wheel. Snatching wildly at her safety belt, Kala pulled it forward. But the doctor’s haste was in vain for before it could be fastened the small ship collided with the impending object, one of many asteroids drifting in the comet’s wake, thus stopping the capsule -and its passenger- in a sudden and violent crash.

Doctor Leahy was thrown from her seat. Her forehead met the hard metal surface of the ceiling controls and she was knocked brutally unconscious.

The spiraling chaos and noise from before was stilled instantly, leaving an eerie and empty silence to fill the void. The small Federation shuttle hung motionless against the black depths of space, holding its breath as it floated in its transient state. The electric connections had been severed, causing the lights to flicker briefly before the ship went dark. Losing all systems except for the backup oxygen cells, Kala’s body now floated free throughout the cabin. Small droplets of her blood beaded from a large cut on her forehead and drifted upon the suspended air.

Her ship was drastically off course, and in these outer channels of the quadrant, Federation patrols would not pass by for weeks. She would likely be doomed, if it were not for the other population of space travelers that roamed in these parts; seedy species who traveled under the law and were often on the prowl for the broken remains of ships like these to scavenge upon. It was only a matter of time before Kala would be found and taken.

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