Chapter 2: The Orion

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 293
Comments: 5

Chapter Two

T H E  O R I O N

 

"Is it really the beginning of the end? The case of the six-hundred disappearances has been the main dish for the past week. The Anonymous Criminal Organization, also known as the AMINO, is undoubtedly the catalyst in this worldwide terror. But even so, a sacred movement in Monaco led by the Vatican is now undergoing a thirty-day fasting event in preparation for the end of the human race."

 

"Bunch of religious crap," Michel glared at the anchor as if she was to blame.

 

"Can't agree more," Matthias nodded.

 

The three astronauts sat in the vacant office. Though only a few minutes have passed, Matthias' head was droopy with boredom. He crossed his arms and tapped his feet against the marble floor. Ever since the day before, Matthias had been utterly restless. Thoughts of what he might encounter in the mission was exciting, yet mortifying. His tapping increased, keeping up with the pace of his mind.

 

The door gaped open, revealing Terry and a statuesque woman by his side. Her butterscotch hair was up in a tidy bun. Her teal eyes twinkled with anticipation as she smiled at the trio. In her arm, she held a blue folder close to her chest. Her formal midnight suit shone in the light like silken onyx.

 

"Sorry to keep you waiting," Terry said. "This is my assistant, Sara Stone."

 

As they shook hands in greeting, Matthias felt a pang of awkwardness. The memory of the hands he had held came piercing like a stab to the chest.

 

Hey, single. You're getting old. An ominous thought whispered in his mind.

 

Thirty isn't a big number, so shut up. He hid clenched teeth with a smile.

 

"Sara," Terry chuckled. "I hope you don't mind showing The Orion to these airheads."

 

"Well, that was uncalled for," Matthias said with a hint of humor.

 

Terry's grin vanished. His eyes that had seemed to see everything were bleak for an instant as they glared into Matthias. Then the corners of his lips curled upwards and he broke into a chortle.

 

"Oh, that wasn't funny, was it?" Terry wiped at his eyes as if the hostility that they once possessed had never existed. "Oh please don't give me that look. It was funny."

 

"I sure do hope you will stop laughing at your own jokes, Mr. Kirkman," Sara smiled, turning to the three. "Let's be off, gentlemen."

 

They walked without pause, past bustling corridors and down to the core of the edifice.

 

Shuttles of towering heights stood motionless, products of finest designs and countless efforts. Researchers and engineers in white scuffled around on the gray concrete. The repair hall was an incredible sight, but none was fazed.

 

As they walked in silence, Matthias was once again left to his own thoughts. The animosity in Terry's eyes before...

 

Have I done something wrong?

 

At the thought, Matthias' pulse quickened. Is it possible that he knew about the enigmatic girl in his dreams?

 

Matthias was so lost in thought he would have sent Sara plummeting down to The Orion's base if not for his sharp reflexes. She faced the men, a massive spacecraft before them. She cleared her throat and brought forth her presentation.

 

"This is The Orion," she said. "Constructed a year ago, it weighs approximately 147,000 kilos. Reaching 363 feet and a diameter of 33 feet, it is by far, the largest shuttle yet. The cost of this mission is precisely 4.6 million dollars and that is sponsored by Terry alone."

 

"Dang!" Michel exclaimed next to Matthias. "Got money that much, I'd buy Hollywood!"

 

"But please," Sara's voice was hushed. "Just as Terry had said, do keep this confidential. The mission is, in fact, illegal. Only a few officials know it, and even so, they dare not interfere."

 

"Wait..." Matthias began. "I thought the President knew about this?"

 

Sara shook her head. That wasn't a good sign.

 

"Wait, Terry lied?" Michel spat. "Screw him. The guy's got a butt for a brain."

 

"How will this mission even be possible?" Justin said, incredulous.

 

"Don't worry," Sara's voice was calm in the increasing panic. "We have decided a private launch site in the outskirts of Nevada. There's nothing to worry."

 

"Yeah, except we can't return to Earth with a crime," Michel said. "Better lost in space."

 

Silence fell over the arguing party. Despite his absence for words, Matthias agreed with Michel. But the energy...it couldn't possibly be a hoax, could it? No man would go that far just for a mere hypothesis.

 

"But what if he's right?" Matthias' tongue outraced his mind. He mentally slapped himself. Great.You just got yourself in trouble, moron. Thank you very much.

 

"What did you just say?" Michel's eyes snapped to his. "What if he's right? And what if he's not? You can't base everything on if's, Cole."

 

"And you gotta use your logic of a brain," Matthias' words were rolling freely off his tongue. "We all know the energy's real."

 

"Crap, Matthias. It's clear the AMINO's behind this. Let Terry off with his energy flapdoodles."

 

"You don't know what you're saying," Matthias said, sudden anger in his veins. "This is for the sake of Earth alone! Even if this mission fails, we could at least have reduced half the risk."

 

"Oh yeah? I ain't wasting my life for a bunch of alien dung."

 

"Maybe you should."

 

Michel lunged forward, pure rage in his navy eyes. His fist aimed for Matthias' face with surprising speed. Matthias narrowly dodged the assault and spun around, landing a kick on his back. Michel fell flat on his face, a sight so rare for his tough reputation that Matthias got the urge to laugh.

 

"Guys, stop this!" Justin stepped between the two, though he was trembling. "This is no time for joking, Matthias!"

 

"You think I'm that pathetic?" Michel was back on his feet. He pushed Justin aside and approached Matthias menacingly. In an instant, pain coursed through Matthias' right cheek. Michel shoved him against the wall and thrust his wrist beneath Matthias' chin.

 

"You understand you're messing with the wrong person, don't you?" The pressure upon his throat increased with every word.

 

"Enough!" Sara pulled Michel back by the collar, planting a slap on his cheek. Matthias sucked for breath.

 

Such relief.

 

Michel turned to Sara, his cheek red from impact. "And who do you think you are?"

 

"I am Sara Stone, right-hand of the director of the National Space Administration. You will go to complete this mission at any costs, period."

 

"Oh yeah?" Michel grabbed her collar. "And why is that, sweetheart?"

 

"Because I said so," Terry's dignified voice echoed through the hall.

 

Heads whirled to face the cobalt-suited man who spoke. His arms crossed behind him, Terry paced around the group. His coal eyes caught Michel's with such assertiveness that he let go of his grip. Sara staggered back, nearly tripping over her own heels.

 

"Terry..." she began, but he silenced her with a stare.

 

"I think that's enough of The Orion for now," his voice was barely audible. "I hope all matters are settled between you. As for the meantime, Sara, please escort them to the practice hall for training."

 

"Understood."

 

As Matthias turned to follow, a hand promptly caught him by the elbow. He whirled around, only to find Terry's eyes dark as night. "I would like to have a few words with you, Mr. Cole."

 

Michel glanced back and grinned in mockery. Matthias resisted the urge to tie him up nude in front of a train.

 

Michel you bloody bastard, Matthias thought with clenched teeth as he turned after Terry.

 

Back in his office, Terry motioned for Matthias to sit. Matthias settled down before a slab of fine oak as Terry dug through the shelf.

 

"Brandy or rum?" Terry asked.

 

Astonished by the unexpected question, Matthias hesitated. "Uh, rum would be fine."

 

Terry dislodged a bottle of Bacardi and a pair of glass. He poured an amount in each before settling on his own seat.

 

"You do understand why I called you here, don't you?" Terry said, taking a sip.

 

Matthias stared at the transparent vessel of yellowish liquid. The memory of the previous glare in Terry's eyes came back to him, but nonetheless, he ignored it. "No."

 

Terry sighed. "Honestly, I thought you were as clever as what I expected, but you're not," Terry settled the glass. "This mission is not to be taken lightly. This is of the life and death of mankind."

 

Matthias said nothing.

 

"You might be wondering why I'm so obsessed with this project," Terry chuckled humorlessly. "Frankly, if I have my own choice, I'd leave you all to rot. But that won't be fair for all the innocent lives out there, now would it?"

 

Matthias lifted his gaze from the glass. "What do you mean?"

 

"This mission will be much much bigger than you think. My role is over, but I am counting on you three, and especially you, Matthias."

 

Matthias laughed before taking a gulp of rum, the liquid like fire in his throat. "Now it's on me, huh?"

 

"You will know soon enough when the time comes. Don't worry, you can thank me later." A twinkle of humor shone in his eyes.

 

"Thanks in advance, then," Matthias said with a hint of sarcasm.

 

Terry smiled. "Remember this conversation, Matthias. You are free to go."

 

Matthias started to walk, but stopped in his tracks. "Hey...I...got this weird dream last night."

 

Terry's eyes snapped to his, the mysterious glare returning back. "What dream?"

 

"It's about a girl...she was saying goodbye," Matthias shook his head. "Nevermind. Forget it."

 

For a while, Terry seemed to be at loss for words. The coldness in his eyes were lingering still, and he opened his mouth. Matthias flinched, expecting a bang to the table or a shot of cusses. But instead, Terry slumped in his seat. "Alright then. I'll leave you to your little goodnight romance." He forced a smile.

 

Matthias gripped the knob but hesitated, turning back. Terry stood before the window with his arms crossed behind his back. His melancholy eyes, which seemed to contain countless mysteries, were lifted to the infinite expanse of blue.

 

I am counting on you three, and especially you, Matthias.

 

At the thought, a small smile formed on Matthias' lips. He took a last glance at the lone man before shutting the door completely.

 


Submitted: June 05, 2016

© Copyright 2020 BigBang. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Ethan Howard

Chapter 2

I was intrigued by your story description and the content did not disappoint.

This reads like an old school sci-fi classic. Very impressive. You have a good handle on the genre.

I have so many questions already but I will wait.....because there is only two chapters.

Needless to say I will be following the story and commenting as I go along.

Thank you for asking me to check it out.

Sun, June 5th, 2016 7:30am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for reading, Ethan :) ~BB

Sun, June 5th, 2016 1:08am

Amy R. Beckett

I definitely like Matthias as a character - he seems the most humane out of them all in a way. Terry is also very interesting, and I get the feeling he knows more than he's telling...

Another great chapter - well done :)

Sun, June 5th, 2016 8:04am

Author
Reply

Thanks a ton for reading, Amy :) ~BB

Sun, June 5th, 2016 1:09am

B Douglas Slack

"... outskirts of Nevada." How is that defined? Wouldn't the outskirts of Nevada be Arizona or California? I think maybe you meant to insert the name of a Nevada city there. Also, in this world anyway, the liftoff of anything like a shuttle would be monitored heavily by the military as a possible missile launch. Or, is that covered later?

Michel seems to be painted as the bad guy here. I am sure some sort of showdown between Mattias and he will happen eventually.

"Terry dislodged a bottle of Bacardi..." The word 'dislodged' is perhaps inappropriate here. It calls to mind him knocking it to the ground by 'dislodging' it. Perhaps 'lifted' or even 'found' might work better here.

I can't decide if Terry is setting up the trio for a fall, or genuinely worried about the whole of mankind.

~Tom

Sun, June 5th, 2016 3:39pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for reading, Tom, it means a lot to me :) Ah yeah, I thought the word 'outskirts' mean the desert areas around Nev haha. I'm not actually familiar with the city since I live nowhere near Nev :) Yeah, Michel seemed to be the antagonist in this chap, but they're both just clashing perspectives :) Thank you, I'll be sure to change the word :) The true purpose of Terry will be revealed in the later chapters! Thank you so much for the constructive comment :) I hoped you enjoyed the read.

~BB

Sun, June 5th, 2016 8:46am

BrieBlakmyre

And the tension rises... I really enjoyed the way you introduced Orion and their mission. The honest, frank dialogue that ensued was done pretty well. Matthias is an interesting fellow! The only suggestion I could make would be concerning the price of the shuttle. From what Ive heard, in the billions might be more accurate. Great chapter! :)

Sun, June 5th, 2016 4:09pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for reading! :) Yeah actually I just based all the data about The Orion off the Saturn V :) Thank you so much for reading, Brie :)

~BB

Sun, June 5th, 2016 6:19pm

LeParadisNoirPoetique

The only critique I can give you here is that when talking about this subject, things down from materials to the price of everything in the mission has to be exact, because people will pick up on it if anything is wrong, and you will lose the realism that you create. I just want to point out something important that could help your story my cool new mate.
I like how you introduced Sara Stone, and how she was briefing the astronauts about The Orion, and it reminded me of the film Armageddon, but far better. The revelation that it is not legal, and how people are disappearing, this energy that they are trying to find, talk about a jet setter.
No wonder the tension is building up, and why people are in fight mode. What I admire about your chapter here is that you make sure which characters are in charge, and who are doing the mission, all with a silent code.
Your details of this kind of story are stunning, because this is a super difficult subject to get accurate, and I see the believability of all aspects of your story here. Terry seems to know a lot more than he's letting, I get that from his reaction to the dream Matthias mentioned, so yet again a true success my dear.

Fri, June 10th, 2016 6:20pm

Author
Reply

Thank you so much! :) Ah yes I know critiques are highly needed for this story because it needs some serious improvement, so I appreciate critiques to the core! :) Oh, I've heard of that film before, though I've never watched it. Bet it's awesome :) Yeah, to be honest, it was a complete pain to make this story believable haha. Once again, thank you so so much, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the upcoming chaps! :)

~BB

Fri, June 10th, 2016 6:09pm

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