The Leash

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A marine in the 23rd century has to reach a target deep in an asteroid field. He is alone in the cold darkness of space and things start to go wrong.

The short story is fan fiction loosely based on the backstory of the game Interstellar Marines. No knowledge of the game is required.

Submitted: September 30, 2013

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Submitted: September 30, 2013

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The helmet gave off a faint hissing noise as the visor slid down and pressurized. A reassuring sign it was now airtight. Jenkins took a last look around the small steel plated corridor; one crewman was next to him. He would operate the airlock doors. Jenkins took a deep breath, clenched his fists and stepped carefully into the small airlock compartment. His sleek black space suit was tight and flexible; the huge thruster backpack not so much. The doors closed behind him. Even through his suit, Jenkins could tell that the air was sucked out now. He felt a bit the same way. After all, this was a mission in space and there were so many things that could go wrong. But, he tried his best not to think about them and instead focus on the mission. After a few seconds, the stream ceased and a green light lit up above the door. A stern female voice told him over his comm.-link: “Lieutenant Jenkins, your mission is a go.”

Moments later the outer airlock doors slid open. Jenkins hesitated a moment, then gently pushed himself out into open space. Asteroids were in front of him; more specifically the asteroid belt of Saturn. Jenkins stared in awe. He let himself drift and was complete invested in taking in this scene in. In this very moment nothing else mattered; not his fears, not the mission, not he. The asteroids appeared as if they wanted to embellish Saturn, moving on their well defined path and in unison. Situations like this made him wondered if space combat was the reason he joined the marines. Space infiltration would describe it more accurately; he added in an afterthought. This thought shook him out of his trance and reminded him of the mission at hand.

Asteroids were a common hiding place for smugglers, hostage-takers and all kinds of other scum. The trick to a successful operation was to get on their ship undetected. This was Jenkins’ task. He swiftly stabilized his position and then fired the main thrusters, heading for the asteroid belt. Asteroid fields provided many areas sensors could not reach due to shadowing effects. This meant someone hiding in there could hardly be detected. However, this worked both ways as it was equally difficult to detect approaching targets. Jenkins could use this to get to the ship undetected. His HUD showed him the expected locations where he would be visible to the target’s sensors. He swiftly navigated through the asteroid field and around these locations, past several big rocks and small fast moving ones when suddenly there was no further way. At least, no further way which would leave him undetected.

Jenkins floated on the spot for a moment. Several scenarios ran through his head. Should he track back? And how far? Should he risk detection? Jenkins took a quick look at the map and a faint smile came across his lips as he mentally congratulated his own ingenuity. He fired the thrusters for a moment and landed on one of the bigger rocks in his vicinity. This asteroid was full of holes and rotated slowly. Jenkins manoeuvred towards the closest hole. He reached for a slightly protruding rock, swung himself down into the hole and waited. On his HUD, Jenkins observed how the asteroid turned slowly with him safely hidden inside. After a few minutes, it had turned into the desired position and away from the target’s sensors. Jenkins pushed himself back out and was about to hit his thrusters when he was stopped again by his greatest weakness. A storm was brewing on Saturn and he could see it with his own eyes; not through the external cameras of a Starship, but only filtered by the brightness compensation of his visor. Jenkins remained completely fixated on this spectacle, so much in fact he did not even notice the collision alert until it was too late.

An asteroid hit him. Jenkins started to tumble and bumped into another one. The universe rapidly zipped around him, asteroids rushed by and his HUD went crazy with warnings while he was desperately trying to get back into stabilized flight. Finally Jenkins regained control. The universe had stopped turning but in his head everything was still whirring. He felt nauseous, his hands were shaking and his pulse hammered against his temples. Jenkins took a few deep breaths to calm down. Then he checked the status of his gear.
His life-support system was still intact but the rotational thrusters were heavily damaged – using them would only send him tumbling again. However, he could still move up, down, and sideways reliably. Enough to evade asteroids but this would only grant him a slow death since he was on a trajectory into deep space. Jenkins shouted: “Shit, shit, shiiiiit!” while furiously punching the vaccum. Then he let out a deep sigh of resignation. There was only one thing he could do. Jenkins hit a button on his suit and his movement was immediately stopped. The official term for the attachment that stopped him was flexible recovery rope but the Marines simply called it ‘the leash’. Over his comm.-link, he heard the same female voice as before: “Exercise abort confirmed. Stand-by for pick-up. ETA 3.41 minutes. AI Sara out.”


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