chapter one of my novel Rise of the Phoenix
Doctor Louis Matthews strode through the station corridors, his mind thinking about the task at hand. A cheerful man, he didn’t get downbeat no matter how difficult the situation. This time, however, was different.
Several attractive nurses smiled as him as he passed by and he smiled back at them. The sunny disposition had been good for his sex life. Female companionship was easy to find and enjoyable.
Despite the reputation as a ladies man, the nurses all wanted to spend their spare time with him. In fact, jealous squabbles erupted from time to time behind his back regularly. He just smiled inwardly at it and enjoyed the attention.
He stopped before a door and leaned close to the controls. A red laser beam shot out and started to scan his retina. It disappeared and the computer slid the door open.
A darkened room awaited him as he entered. However, a soft, diffuse blue light fought back at the gloom. It source: a stasis table at the far end of the lab.
Matthews pulled a pen out of his coat pocket and started to click it open and shut absent mindedly. He stopped before the chamber and sighed.
A woman’s body floated inside, her long, raven colored hair sprayed out in all directions. Young, she couldn’t be more then twenty, and Matthews’ heart sank. He had a daughter back on Ireland and it would kill him if what happened to this young woman occurred to his daughter.
He rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. His knees cracked as he knelt down beside the chamber and looked at the woman within. The sight inside made even him shiver and it was the fourth time he had seen her.
A antipersonnel weapon called a penetration grenade had exploded and mortally wounded the young woman. The explosive shot out tiny, hardened metal flachettes that ripped through a human body like a buzz saw. Matthews shook his head and got back to his feet.
Damn things ought to be outlawed galaxy wide, he thought.
He started with the head. The woman’s raven colored hair sprayed out in the zero gee environment. Long strips of flesh hung off the bones of her arms. Ligaments had ruptured, their milky white color turned pink from excessive blood loss.
The torso was even worse. Matthews put the tip of his pen in his mouth and chewed on it. The woman’s chest had been ripped open. Her rib cage had shattered, both lungs collapsed and half of her heart had been destroyed.
Her legs were a disaster too. The flachettes had ripped both quads and hamstrings to an irreparable mess. Both knee joints had been destroyed and both lower legs hung onto the flexible joint by threads.
There’s no way she survives these injuries, Matthews thought as he pushed one of the chamber’s controls. It might be more merciful to let her die. Besides, I don’t think she’s who we’re looking for.
Matthews pulled out his pocket computer and let the chamber wirelessly send its readings to it. Other then brain functions, which the machine kept alive, she was effectively dead. A push of a button on the touch screen and she’d pass quietly out of this world and into the next.
He placed the computer back into his coat and shook his head. Why the Old Man was adamant on keeping her alive, he didn’t know. The young woman was nothing more then an escaped gladiator slave from Necko (and don’t get him started on that!). She was an orphan; no family alive in any of the Alliance databases. Her father had died in the Germanic Empire vs Interstellar Alliance war 22 yrs ago. The mother had disappeared around the girl’s second birthday.
But there’s a reason why the Admiral wants her alive.
Matthews heard the door swish open but he didn’t turn to face the visitor. Boots echoed in the room as their owner walked towards him. He tensed slightly over the conversation that would ensue.
The boots’ owner stopped beside Matthews. “Doctor,”
He looked over his shoulder at Admiral Claudio Reyes, chief of Fleet Intelligence. The admiral’s salt and pepper hair hid a fierce intellect. “The Ghost” was the nickname Fleet Command had given Reyes due to his skill at avoiding the public eye.
“Admiral Reyes,” Matthews started to click his pen nervously. “I don’t understand the purpose of this. She’s just a gladiator slave.”
“Doctor Matthews,” A thin, vulpine smile tugged at Reyes’ lips. “Your reservations are noted; however, have you ever heard of Delta Nine?”
Mathews tried not to let the sound of gritting teeth reach Reyes’ ears. “Admiral,” he said, “I fail to see how a star system has anything to do with this.”
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