Gold Dust Prologue
by, 4-12-12 at 6:22 AM (225 Views)
Here is the prologue to one of my projects I am currently working on. I have made great head way with it of late, and if my progress continues like this, I might try to self publish it by the end of the year.
For the moment though tell me what you think.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...ITqWOb214/edit For an easier read
By Thomas G. Newman
“Pulvis III, a true wonder of the new horizons that man is just discovering. The once thought barren planet, located in Orion’s Arm, has proved that even the ugliest rocks can hide diamonds underneath. The great riches it has to offer are only now just beginning to come clear.” The screen flickered from an image of the dusty orange and brown ball hanging in space, to a clean white sterilized lab with the lights dimmed. A man, with teeth whiter than his lab coat, stands in the middle.
“Hello I'm Carl Barrymore, and I’ll be your guide as we come in on your final entry to Pulvis III.” Carl walked around the lab, where less attractive men and woman were hard at work, ignoring the cameras that followed him, and bothered them at their work. Gesturing around him Carl continued.
“As you can see, or not see as it were, these labs are kept dimmed, for the things that make Pulvis so great, can't live in the shine of natural sunlight, or any strong light for that matter. Let’s take a look at one of these diamonds in the rough. Doctor if you would.” An old man wearing sunshades and a matching white coat nodded. He approached a heavy metal box in the centre of a table, now shown in the middle of the screen. He ever so carefully lifted it up, revealing a thick glass container underneath. A high hissing and scratching could be heard over the grainy speakers, as the thick metal hood was removed.
Inside was a truly alien thing. It seemed to be like some sort scorpion, without the long stinging tail. Its thick metal pincers were larger than the rest if its body. It charged at the thick glass, bouncing back off with a small thud. Its whole body had the colour of gleaming iron, its thin needle like legs clicking on the hard tables surface, its jaws clacking as it shrilled and called, like some mad, demonic song bird. Its calls grew more furious and enraged as it continued to assault its prison to no avail. Its swipes and slashes doing nothing else but scratch the glass, sending off showers of sparks. Carl tapped the glass with one gloved finger.
“This little beasty has the cute name, of Specimen 105, the fifth tiny lovely to ever be safely taken, and contained, by prospectors of the Lark Foundation, and what a little wonder it is. It doesn't breath, eat, or even sleep, and yet he carries on ticking. You can see it’s already agitated by the dim light of this lab.” Carl replaced the heavy metal lid, and carried on through to another lab, with large strips of yellow and black paint on the door. “Now you may say that man has discovered far more beautiful and wondrous things since it leapt into the heavens, and though it and its cousins aren’t the prettiest dainties, they sure are wondrous, here let me show you.” Carl put on a pair of sunglasses, as the camera panned to show a larger reinforced glass container.
The creature was nothing like Specimen 105. It was a brute, six foot in height, with half a dozen powerful legs, each ending in three claws, sharp and silver. Its chitinous shell gleamed as well, its large eight jointed maw wide open, showing row after row of fangs and spike like teeth, the colour of copper. Its roars couldn’t be heard through the thick sound proof glass, though its jaws left long scratches on its reinforced box. Carl seemed unconcerned by the alien monster as he re-entered the frame, slipping a long rectangle clip into the grip of a gun like object. It was covered in warnings and cautions, as was the dark grey gun, and Carl, smiling still, flicked the safety off. He showed off the modified gun, the end of the barrel topped with a series of glass lenses that could be twisted and moved. The rest of it seemed like any other pistol.
“This is a Lark Foundation Light Guard Hand Held, far more efficient than any, Hudson or Isekc models. It’s a fine tool used by all Lark sponsored prospectors, let’s see what it can do.” He made sure his sunglasses were on firmly, as did the group of scientists around him. They were busy at consoles, and an array of other equipment, around the glass cage. As if sensing something, the strange six legged beast slowed, its many tiny eyed head, turning this way and that, looking for an escape that didn't exist. Carl grasped the Light Guard in his two gloved hands, and after a thumbs up from one of the white coated women, pulled the trigger.
The screen whited out for a long moment, before the picture returned. The beast three left legs and a large flank of its left side were gone. Its other legs flayed uselessly in the air, its eyes closed, its great powerful jaws opening and closing uselessly. Where the rest of it had been, a large pile of dust now lay, and the rest of the beast was also slowly turning into the same glinting shining grains. Soon only the end of the beast’s fangs and clawed feet remained, and they had grown still, as they too were consumed by the encroaching dust. Sunglasses off, and Light Guard left on a table, the vents on the sides still steaming slightly, Carl opened the vacuum sealed door to the cell, the camera man following behind. He picked up a handful of the sandy dust, letting the glinting substance cascade through his fingers.
“Iron, Zinc, Copper, and yes, even gold, all from this once primal beast.” He stepped away as a pair of coated men came in, gathering the aliens remains in cylinders with a small vacuum built around the lid. Carl was passed a full one. Along its side was a small display listing the properties contained.
0.001% - Unclassifiable
0.1% - Potassium
0.4% - Iron
1.6% - Tin
2.5% - Rubidium
5.3% - Zinc
10.4% - Cobalt
23.8% - Silver
23.9% - Copper
31.8% - Gold
Total Weight – 11.4 kg
“You'll get eighteen to twenty cans worth from something this big, and any and all Lark Foundation 'cans' are processed for you into cold hard cash with no extra charge, asides from your Lark Foundation registration cut.” He tossed the 'can' over his shoulder, where a young boy scrabbled to catch it, as Carl left the containment room again, giving another pearly white smile to the camera, along with a winning wink.
“And that’s just scratching the surface of what Pulvis has to offer. Our scientists are learning more and more each day about these wondrous creatures, and our brave prospectors delve ever deeper to find greater and more precious beasts to harvest. Already, after only five years of stable production and refinement, Pulvis III ships thirty percent of humanities precious and valuable metals, and ten percent of that comes from the Lark Foundation. On Pulvis III we are striving to preserve earth’s few remaining resources, and open up greater opportunities, as humanity makes its expansion into the stars, that still hold so many secrets. You should be coming into land, and remember, the Lark Foundation is the first and foremost, in science and safety. The Lark Foundation, a company you can trust on Pulvis III, and beyond.” The movie ended images of prospectors hard at work collecting dust and further scientists at computer terminals. The last was a still of Carl Barrymore, sat in an earth style bar with a group of prospectors, dust covered from their work, all smiling with glasses raised. Below them it said.
'Welcome to Pulvis III. A new frontier.'
“Come on boys, we're nearly there, I can feel that sun in my bones!” Old Jack called back to the last three men of his troop. They had lost six good souls in this run, but what they had found was beyond belief. Some of the cans were fifty to sixty percent gold, and one even had twenty percent titanium. The old grey beard had never heard of such a thing during his five long years on Pulvis. Three days in the Dark was enough even for him though, the surface was calling, and the safety of Frontier. He recognised these tunnels, and if his watch was right they had a half an hour of sun. They would just make it before the hatches closed.
“Mick, how’s the Light Hood holding.” He looked back to the young man just behind him. In his hands the young blonde haired boy carried a Hudson Crusader Pick, and strapped to his back with his other kit, was the Isekc Mrk II Light Hood. It was usually as bright as the sun, but even through his sunshades Jack could see it was dimming. Beyond, past the rest of them, he saw the beasts lurking in the shadows, catching their glint, in the failing light. Mick looked up, his thin face pale clammy with sweat, as he checked the screen on his wrist.
“We're running on vapours here, maybe twenty minutes at best, you’re sure we're heading the right way, I ain't wanting to dash back, with the creepers biting at my backside you old git.” The boy’s words echoed oddly in the tunnel, as he gave word to all their fears.
“Aye lad we're nearly there, just think of the money, enough to retire on for all of us.” The rest of the band gave a weary cheer, as they carried on upwards, scrabbling over cold hard rock. After another few minutes, with the sounds of the beasts ever present around them, they broke through to a main shaft. The under surface was one hundred feet above, and there lay their safety and fortune. They formed a perimeter, each checking their guns for the fifth time in as many minutes. Young Mick laid the Light Hood in the centre, as Jack called down the lift. Bruce 'the bull' looked nervously up at the slowly descending lift, and the weak light that streamed from the hatch above, his palm sweaty on his Quick Fix Six Shooter.
“Get it moving Jack; we ain't got all the blessed hours that Lord gave us.” He muttered, rolling his large shoulders underneath his duster. Diana tutted slightly, a pair of old Lark Light Guards grasped in her hands, as she flicked her dark hair out of her face.
“You aren’t scared of what goes creeping in the dark Bully, a big man like you.” Her voice was cool and husky, as she scanned left and right. The big bald man grunted, as the lift slowly made its groaning and screeching way down. The cackling and clattering was growing thicker in the darkness around them.
“It’s not what creeps that worries me, it’s what goes right through you with foot long claws and teeth that’s got me jittery, or haven’t you noticed the buggers following us since yesterday. I tell you Jack it ain't natural.”
“Quit your belly aching. We're nearly out of this and I don't want you losing your head.” Jack said, flinging his pack and cans on the lift. The others quickly followed. Mick was last, the Light Hood held firmly. If it gave out now they were all doomed, and no amount of fortune would save them from those lurking metal monsters.
“Jack hurry, I’ll be closing in two minutes, whether or not you’re through. I'm not risking my hide for you,” came a grainy voice over the hub at the lifts centre around the lifter cables.
“Fine by me Sweets, but the first drink on you.” He slammed his dust heavy fist on the green button, and the lift slowly made it way up, the tunnel below quickly falling into darkness. The beasts quickly pressed forward as the light retreated, like a wave of inky scuttling black. Jack had never seen so many, and he gripped his rifle tighter. Just think of the money, he thought. He had enough in his pack for him to retire, find some young girl with tits bigger than her head, and live the last of his years in happiness. The Light Hood grew dimmer, and he turned to see the young boy Mick, cursing as he tried to get a few more moments of juice from their shining shield. The lift groaned and screeched its way up.
Diana looked down through the lift, seeing some of the creatures moving up the thick cables, she had never seen them so eager for a kill. She pointed one of her Light Guards down through the space, the thick cables stinking of grease and metal, mere inches from her face.
“Turning it on!” She warned, and they all closed their eyes instantly. A beam of light shot down below the lift. A few of the small beast fell from their climb, turning into wispy clouds of dust before they hit the dirt below. Others cringed back from the light, their cries and roars of pain echoing oddly and deeply off the thick tunnels and walls of the Dark. She had brought them a few more moments, her gun steaming as she let the power cell cool, each shot had to count. Bruce looked over the side; Mick was still spitting death at the Hood. The big man shot a glob of phlegm, and then stepped away from the side. He brought his Quick Fix Six up, calling to the others, his deep voice shaking.
“Lads their climbing the walls, Turning it on!” They barely had time to squint, as the big man fired off all six barrels, each sounding like a clap of thunder, as the lift groaned ever upward. There were more screeches and harsh fast scuttling and clacking. Bruce blinked away the sun spots in front of his eyes. He didn't see it coming, none of them did. The lifts platform gave a groan and a heave, knocking them all off their feet, Mick barely had time to grab the still dimming Hood as he fell. Old Jack looked, and where Bruce had stood nothing remained, but a rough spray of rich red blood. What the bloody hell was this? He had no more time to think on it, for the lift gave another groan, shaking from side to side.
“What's going on down there Jack?” Came Sweets rising voice over the crackly comm. The lift gave another violent shake, part of it falling away, turning end over end to land in the thick darkness below. The scuttling and creeping seeming to grow louder, both below and around them. Jack thought fast, he wouldn't die now, and he seen himself through worse. He couldn't think of any specific situation which had been worse than this, but now wasn't the time for that.
“Mick get the Hood on your back, Diana start climbing that cable, boy you get after her, I’ll follow you.” They went to it quickly, and soon the girl was moving up the lift cables hand over hand, Mick close behind. Jack slammed a hand down on the emergency comm button, more and more of the lift collapsing around him.
“Sweets get the hatch closed; we got to abandon the lift. Shits gotten crazy down here.” He didn't have much else to say, or the time to say it. The light was receding above him, Mick and the girl were making good their escape, and already that which lived in the Dark, was climbing over the remnants of the lift. He crushed the first under his boot. It sounded like a squashed tin can. More were coming; he could half make out their looks in the receding light. Pincers, long scythe like claws, and other more horrid things, all reaching for him. Without looking back, he leapt up onto the console, and began to climb the shaking cables, his heartbeat loud in his ears, his lungs pumping like bellows. The beasts were all around him, climbing the walls. Through the sound of their movements, he heard the deep bass groaning of the hatch closing above him.
“Jack close your eyes!” He felt the heat from Diana's second Light Guard, as the beam of light shoot past him, blinding him for a few seconds, despite his tightly shut eyes and sunshades. Carry on old boy, he told himself, hand over hand, hand over hand. He blinked away the last of the white spots, he was nearly there, the hatch only a few feet above him and nearly shut, Mick was reaching down to him desperation in his eyes, the sound of the monsters scuttling and clicking was loud in his ears.
Mick didn't see what caught Jacks leg, but the old man gave a surprised grunt, and was pulled back into the Dark. The hatch closing above him. Mick was blinded, as a cleaning burst was shot through the hatch chamber. He lay panting on the cold metal, his ear against it. He couldn't hear anything, save Diana's sobbing. He came over to her and they held each other, thankful that they had survived, shocked by what had happened in the space of only a few minutes. A door opened and Sweets stumbled in, blinking through his thick glasses, at the two that should have been four.
“Where are Bruce and Jack?” He asked his high voice more confused than worried, as he approached the dust thick pair. Catching his breath Mick replied wild eyed, tears running down his face.
“I don't know, but I ain't going back.”