Excerpt from Salvage by Sam Honour
Alien Dimensions Issue 4 January 2017
An amber light started flashing above the ramp. Yaora gripped tightly onto the safety bars that mounted the back wall of the bay as the ramp started to descend. He felt the tug of the air being violently sucked out of the bay as he watched the tow chains rattle towards the ramp. The ramp then opened fully and the chains became taut in the vacuum. Yaora let go of the safety bars and launched out into open space. It was moments like this where he felt all the waiting around was a little bit worth it, the moments where he could fly. He locked his arms into his sides and flew like a bullet. He looked up and could see he was approaching the satellite so pressed a button on the suit’s glove. The towline went taut and snapped him to a stop, nearly cutting him in half in the process.
“Dammit!” he cursed loudly.
“You dead out there, kid?” came Huuran’s voice.
“Not yet,” Yaora spluttered back.
“Good. Go find out what we’ve caught.”
Yaora activated the suit’s mini jets and flew towards the satellite. Except it wasn’t a satellite. Not like one he’d ever come across anyway. In the centre was a large, white circle that looked like it could be used for transmitting of some kind, while the body looked to him like a larger version of the probes they used to search the asteroid field. On one side was a long, metal girder of some kind, maybe an antenna, and two smaller ones on the opposite side. Whatever it was it looked pretty technical, more technical than either he or Huuran could understand.
“We got a live one?” Huuran asked, anxiously.
“I dunno… it’s something.”
“Your observational skills never cease to amaze me.”
“I don’t know what it is, Huuran. It doesn’t look like a satellite.”
“Does it look expensive?”
“It looks like it might be worth something.”
“Then bring it in!”
Yaora flew back to the ship and collected one of the tow chains, affixing it to the object securely. He repeated his journey until all four tow chains were attached to the object.
“Okay, chains secure. Reel it in!”
The chains tautened as Huuran brought whatever it was back to the ship. Yaora grabbed on to one of the chains and rode it all the way back. The object only just cleared the entrance to the bay and from end to end only just fit. It looked a lot bigger now it was inside. Yaora pushed himself to the floor as Huuran closed the ramp, and gravity returned to the bay. There was a violent rush of air as the bay pressurised, signalling it was safe for him to take the suit off. He heard Huuran’s heavy footsteps rushing across the catwalks to see his prize.
“What we got, what we got, what we got?” he sang as he slid down the banister and landed clumsily on the floor. He rushed up to the object and seemed to instantly deflate. “What the hell is this?”
“I’ve told you, I don’t know,” Yaora repeated, shrugging the suit off as he did. He joined Huuran by the object to have himself a closer look.
It still didn’t look like any satellite Yaora had ever seen before. The main body stood at about twice his height give or take and was about the same size across. The disc that sat atop the body was much bigger, disproportionately so he thought; the body looked too small to bear such a large object. But what caught his attention the most was a golden circle that adorned the main body of the object. It looked like it may have gleamed once but its time in space had robbed it of that property. Who knows how long it had been trapped in the asteroid field? Salvagers were the only ones who ventured into the rocky death traps and this sector had been left alone for quite a while, Huuran had told him.
“What a piece of junk!” exclaimed Huuran, kicking one of the already bent antennae.
“Hey, be careful!” Yaora shouted at him, “It might be sensitive.”
“It’s trash, kid,” Huuran reaffirmed, “Just look at it. It’s got a few decades worth of space grime on it, there’s no functioning power source, it’s nicked, bent and broken in numerous places…”
“How do you know if it’s broken if you don’t know what it is?”
“Because I can see it! You can’t tell me you think this thing still works?”
“It might. If we fix it.”
“That would be a huge a waste of time.”
“It looks technical.”
“Ha! Technical. Check again; I’ll bet I’ve got toasters that are more technical than this.”
“Just on the outside, maybe. We don’t know what’s on the inside.”
“Well there’s a sharp way to find that out.”
Huuran walked over to the tool cupboard and picked up a huge wrench. He returned to the object and raised the wrench high above his head.
“Huuran! No!” yelled Yaora.
Read the story in Alien Dimensions Issue 4