There was a depression about a hundred meters from where the ship lay, her back broken and the drive section missing. In the suit, it took him an hour to drag Rebbo's corpse across the rocky ground, and after a rest, another hour to find enough flammable materials from the wreck to build a pyre.
"This time would be more productively spent erecting the portable comms unit." ELLE's voice was in his ear.
"Plenty of time," he wheezed. "Nobody in range for another week."
Which she knew, of course. She had all the information he did and more, and had total recall of it and no concussion. But procedure was to set up the comms before doing anything else, and following correct procedure was paramount.
"You've been injured. The telltales in your suit are sending worrisome readings. If you were to lose consciousness before the portable comms unit is operational, rescue might be catastrophically delayed."
"Do this first."
Rebbo had been ten feet tall in life, with the thick bones of one descended from brute-force predators; getting his remains up onto the pyre without help proved difficult and time-consuming.
"Your radiation exposure is already significant."
He looked up at the planet: the immense gas giant and its rings hung above him, painted onto the sky. "Suit."
"The suit can only guard against so much; the more energetic particles are still getting through. You—"
Mays switched off his suit radio. He'd turn it on again, in a while. It's not like she'd be angry. She'd just make him take all sorts of shots, and because he went against ELLE's advice, the Company wouldn't pay for them.
He had to stay out here for this. He couldn't predict the timing.
There was a welding LASER in the toolkit, he dialed it to wide dispersion and set the pyre alight. The moon's atmosphere had even more oxygen than Earth — how, Mays had no idea — so the fire was burning merrily in a few seconds, consuming the pyre, tall flames whipping at the air high above. Rebbo's corpse was lost from view, mercifully.
Mays stepped back, sat down in the dust, watched it burn. After a while, he turned the suit radio back on.
ELLE spoke almost immediately. "If your task is complete, you should return to the airlock now."
"Almost; won't be long now."
The pyre had already begun to collapse into a pile of red-hot embers and ash, with flame and smoke swirling above it. From within the base of the conflagration, something stirred: small, blister-white, Rebbo-shaped. It nosed out of the ash and scuttled across the dust to where Mays sat.
"Welcome back." He reached out, picked it up.
I love how this is contained in just 450 words, giving us hints at their "world" without having to explain it. Very well written!ReplyDelete
One piece of concrit: When you use the pronouns "she " and "her" after referring to Rebbo's corpse, I think you're referring to Rebbo, not someone else (ELLE?) I thought almost all they way through that either Rebbo wasn't REALLY dead, or maybe she was but some kind of after-image of her brain was talking to him.
Nice take on the prompt!
hmm, yeah I see what you mean. It's really just the first one, before the computer's name is established. I'll finesse it....Delete
Oh I liked this! Really enjoyed the way the world took shape, and the interaction between the ship's computer and Mays.ReplyDelete
The only suggestion I have is in this sentence: She had all the information he did, and more, and had total recall of it, and no concussion. It's just a little awkward and heavy--which makes it stick out since everything else flows so well!
Nice job on the prompt!
too many commas. Usually I go through and delete commas when I'm done because my instinct is to add too many, as we can see here :-)Delete
Brilliantly executed. Well done!ReplyDelete
Thank you! :-)Delete
Good fixes, I thought it read very clearly. Is this stand alone or part of a previous ongoing character?ReplyDelete
I like it. I am checking out your other stories, I like sci-fy
No, not a character/setting I've used before. Thanks for reading!Delete
I like the sci-fi twist to the classic phoenix story. It makes me wonder why the first priority was to set up the tower rather than address getting a "person" back and did ELLE understand that was what was going on. Nice job.ReplyDelete
I assume ELLE knows that Rebbo's race is supposed to be able to 'reproduce' this way after death, but the official line is that it's just a myth, so she's programmed not to believe it.Delete
I absolutely admire writing that can make me believe in a world outside my own--and you did it in 450 words! I really liked the ending, too. Very well done.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much :-)Delete
It has a bit of an Enemy Mine vibe if you know that old movie.ReplyDelete
It's a solid bit of sci fi. You convey the obvious friendship in an authentic and subtle way.
Thanks so much. :-)Delete
Very cool piece - I love the idea of being able to bring his friend(pet?)back to life through the fire. makes me wonder how many times Rebbo has lived.ReplyDelete
Thank you :-)Delete
Sentient computer system? Or just highly specialized? Just curious.ReplyDelete
I like Mays. And I can't help being intrigued by his partner. A ten foot tall warrior reborn from a pyre? Ooooh.
ELLE would be the ship's AI, I'm assuming. But it would be interesting if she were a cybernetic crew member, somewhere in between. Either way they're sort of an odd and interesting trio. I may come back to them sometime. :-)Delete
Story sucked me right in and then spat me out wondering what happened after.ReplyDelete
Thanks very much :-)Delete