Corsair Clearance? I’m not sure you can really do a #FlashbackFriday post with something you can’t find in the past on your blog. But this is a special occasion: I’ve deleted this entire section from Curved Space to Corsair (Viridian System #2, in prep), and sometimes you just need to share your deleted scenes with your readers.
Why delete these scenes? Well, I had them in a sort of prologue, but called it chapter 1. While the clearance is dramatic enough in itself, we then go to our heroes, Pete, Lars, Dolores and Maggie, and stay with them for around half the book before we need to see how the people on Corsair are doing. It just didn’t work. I’m having to work some of this in as backstory instead. In fact, I’m writing a whole new story based on Corsair, and then dividing it up into suitable chunks within the rest of the book.
You can join in Flashback Friday. Just republish a post on your blog that you want to have some more airtime, or attention, or lurv… and link it to the comments here – or link your blog up to the Flashback Friday page as in my menu above.
The Corsair Clearance
Screams and shouts echoed over the gently sloping fields as dawn pressed through the rising mist of a fine summer’s day. The idyllic and fertile land of the planet Corsair had seen twenty-four years of Imperium rule. After the initial killings and enslavement, those who were left had enjoyed a peaceful existence, provided they worked from dawn to dusk in the fields alongside the automatic harvesting machines, ensuring the Imperium’s bread-baskets remained filled.
“What’s happening?” Maya Trescothick asked her husband Colin, as he burst through the doorway of their tiny wooden cottage.
“Get the kids, grab some food. We’re leaving.”
“No buts, Maya. They’re back. Just like when we were kids. Move!”
Maya needed no second urging. She could hear explosions in the distance now, and more screams, from adults and children alike, noises that were growing louder.
She pulled the children from their bed, got them dressed, against their squeals and protests. “Come now, hurry. Hear the people running past? We have to join them.”
“Dolly!” squealed Trisha, the four year old, hanging back as Maya pushed her out of the door into Colin’s waiting arms.
“I have her!” called Maya as she added a knitted woollen doll to the sack of essentials she was gathering. Wool sweaters, hats, scarves: barely a change of clothes each. Martin’s wooden horse got thrown in alongside Dolly, string, candles, a skein of sausages drying from the ceiling, two cooking pots, and a small box made of silvery metal.
“Maya!” Colin urged her on, settling the kids on the cart, pulling sacks of corn on board, and keeping the horse under some sort of control by hanging on to the end of the reins. Maya threw the sack on board too and joined her husband. He gave the horse its head and they set off, pausing only to haul three neighbours up onto the cart as they joined the flight away from their homes, away towards the hills and the limestone caves where they could hide.
Now they could hear the yells at the end of the village, screams from people who had stayed to defend their meagre hovels. Everything the people had built in the last twenty years, since they had emerged from the caves last time to work the land for the Imperium, was under threat. Explosions punctuated the screams. Three hovermachines moved inexorably forward, blasting every house in their paths as they chased the Corsairs off the land once more. Anyone in their homes died, vaporised. As long as they didn’t blast the retreating families …
Some weeks later, the survivors of the latest clearance, a group of about fifty men, women and children huddled together in the limestone caves of Angaroth. Three of them, two men and a woman, felt their way through the rough tunnels, and climbed through a narrow cleft into a small cavern beyond the light of the main group.
“I’m sure it’s just here. Ow!” The thud of boot on metal bar preceded her exclamation.
“I reckon you’ve found it, then, Maya.”
“I told you I had a good memory. You going up?”
“Right.” Her companion reached up the cave wall, found another metal bar set into the side of the cave, and swung himself up, climbing the offset ladder to a dry ledge some five metres above the cavern floor.
“Two steps to the right, right?”
“Yes,” Maya called in response to the man now on the ledge.
“Can’t feel anything.”
“It must be there,” croaked the other man, whose vocal chords were permanently damaged.
“Hang on. Got it!”
The two at the bottom of the ladder let their breaths out and shoulders sagged with relief.
“Yeah, the box is here too. Hope it still works. Let me see…”
The two at the bottom squatted down to wait. There was nothing else they could do. Up on the ledge, a young man named George looked over the pale light of the dials and settings, programmed a message from previously arranged codes, and pulsed it into the universe.
Now all they could do was hope someone with the right codes to unscramble it would intercept their plea for help and pass it to the holder of the Perihelix.
© J M Pett 2018
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