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Fading Radiance

By: VintageBubblegumClub

Chapter 1, Marina\'s existence revolved around life on the Radiance, a private space shuttle that transported dangerous weapons for the army. Her life is turned upside down when the crew is taken hostage by a band of raiders. Marina discovers the army is a pool of corruption, and contributed to the captivity of the crew. She decides she must rescue her crewmates and stop the army that is bent on her destruction before it\'s too late. Except for someone, it already is.

“Chase, shoot them!”

“I’m trying!” Chase shouted, evasively jerking the ship to the right.

The craft shuddered as one of the raiders’ lasers struck the side of the ship. Alarms instantly began to sound, as if we hadn’t already figured out that something was wrong.

“Marina, go fix whatever was hit!” Captain Halon said.

Another blast rocked the ship. I staggered, but managed to stay on my feet. I stumbled toward the sound of the incessant beeping. It didn’t take me long to realize that our engine was damaged, and it wasn’t something I would be able to repair anytime soon, let alone mid-battle.

From where I stood in the grey hallway, I could see into the cockpit, where Chase and Halon were still desperately maneuvering the ship out of harm’s way. “Captain!” I screamed, and he glanced over his shoulder. “It hit the engine!”

He said something to Chase before sprinting to where I stood. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know exactly what’s wrong yet, but we’re not going to have power for much longer.”

“Can you fix it?”

I shook my head. “I’m going to need at least a few days from the looks of it.”

A stream of curse words flowing from his mouth, Captain Halon stormed back to the cockpit. “Keep it together for as long as you can!” He called out to me.

Careful to keep my balance as the ship rocked, I rushed toward the staircase that led to the engine room. Halfway down the stairs, the ship reeled sharply, sending me flying to the ground.

The ship settled, and I bolted toward the engine room. The room was a nightmare of red. So many alarms and lights flashed that I could hardly even comprehend what was happening.

Cotto flew down the stairs. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know—that shot damaged almost everything, it looks like.”

She glanced back up the stairs. “Chase can pilot us out of here if you can keep the ship together for another ten minutes.”

“I don’t think I can hold it that long.”

Cotto glowered at me. “I didn’t pick any amateurs for my crew. You’re going to keep the ship moving, Marina.”

I sighed. “I’ll try.”

She retreated up the steps as the ship listed sideways from another impact.

I could only patch things together for so long. Finally, the engine sputtered and gave out. The room fell into darkness. “No!” I banged on engine. “You piece of crap!”

“Marina!” Halon’s voice carried all the way to me. I winced, but there was nothing I could do. The engine was dead, and I wouldn’t be able to revive it in the dark, and without the proper tools.

A loud bang echoed through the room. The ship had no power, so the sound could only have come from outside—the raiders. They were going to board our ship. “Marina! Get the power on!”

“I can’t!” I wasn’t sure if anyone heard me or not. The sound of gunfire ensued only moments later, and I was trapped in the engine room, with no weapon.

The door slammed open, and I caught sight of the silhouette of an unarmored figure—one of the raiders. I dropped to the ground, hoping the darkness would conceal me long enough that I could hide. I wedged my way as far under the massive engine as I could get just as the raider approached.

They circled the engine room a few times, as the gunfire from above slowly subsided. “No one’s in the engine room!” The raider reported, though to whom I wasn’t sure. The raider trudged back up the stairs, their footsteps like thunder on the deathly quiet ship.

“Where’s my pilot? Where’s my mechanic? Chase! Marina! Shoot the raiders!” Halon screeched, his voice getting softer, like he was being dragged away. Chase and I must have been the only ones unaccounted for.

One gunshot sounded, but that was all. Chase must’ve either been shot, or fired and then been captured.

I was too stunned to move. The raiders, in the course of what couldn’t have been more than ten minutes, had managed to capture the entire crew, except for me.

A group of raiders descended into the engine room. I held my breath, for fear even my breathing would give me away. “I told you, the engine is too damaged to use.”

“We could sell the parts.” One raider mused. “Tie this craft to our ship. We’ll drag it back to port and sell what we can. Leave Talon on board here; he might be able to get the engine to work. The rest of you dolts get back on the ship. If they sent out a distress call, the army will be here any minute now.”

Not long after, they had all exited the engine room and departed in their own ship except for one. They’d left behind one who I assumed was their own mechanic to fix up the engine. “I don’t know how this stupid thing works.” The raider muttered, poking at the engine.

My heart skipped a beat. This raider might not realize it, but the engine may begin functioning again if their ship transferred power to ours.

As I had feared, a little button began to glow. Even not being able to see it, I knew what it said. Start engine.

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