Dev woke, her body stiff and cold. Without her micro or any external cues, she had no idea how long she'd slept. Before exhaustion had taken control, she had organized her inventory: her cube, the mostly useless hinge, wire, three empty water bulbs and a wrapper.
They were all tucked around her and the nest she'd made of the jump snug.
She swore as she stretched. The bruises from being trapped on the chair clamps during the jump were even more painful this - she would call it - morning. Her hair was a matted mess that she ignored. A cleansing kit would have been nice, but she didn't think Maldonado was in the business of being nice. At least she had food and water.Okay, Dev, wash, eat, drink, plan.
There was enough water to spare some for washing. Anything that made her feel more like herself was a win and whatever Maldonado's game was, Dev needed to be at her sharpest to play it. She considered her shirt for sacrificial towel material, but she was barely warm enough as it was. The outer layer of the jump snug would work just as well and didn't interfere with the functional inner weave. It might also be useful for wrapping tool handles.
Hacking at the fabric with the sharpest bit of her hinge, Dev got it to start to split. After that, it tore easily into strips. At least now when she used her makeshift head, she could clean herself up. She emptied her waste bucket in the galley's sink. There was a good chance that since the water wasn't flowing, the reclamation circuits weren't working either, but that would be Maldonado's problem, not hers.
Breakfast time. Dev chewed and swallowed a meal bar, washing it down with plenty of water. They had the requisite amount of nutrients and calories to keep a body functioning, but also the texture and likely the taste of pressed insulation foam. Unpleasant, but working hungry was never a good idea.
She gathered up her materials. If she'd had access to a heat source and a makeshift forge, she might have been able to make the hinge into a proper blade, but still, the hours she'd spent yesterday weren't all wasted. Between the metal edge and the counter material, Dev had what she needed to shape the polymer water bulbs into things she could use.
The only way she had to mark time besides the fatigue in her body, was hunger and thirst. After what was probably three or four hours of work, Dev had several decent screwdrivers and an awl. She shook out her hands, frowning at the incipient blisters. It had been a long time since she'd been in the field. Not that this was anything like any of her dig sites.
Dev arched her back. It felt as if her spine were one big solid block of ache. She crouched to give her leg muscles a rest, then sat for a while, rolling her new tools around in her palm. Now what?
There was no way to know when Maldonado would check on her again. He'd given her what looked like more than a week's worth of supplies. Maybe they were going to be here for a while. She rested her head on her knees. How many classes had she missed? Would they think she'd dropped out like her brother? Just another settlement-rat washing out of every opportunity handed to her. Shit. Had Micah even reported her missing? His story and Maldonado's actions made her think it was unlikely. Micah seemed to have as much mistrust of the Commonwealth as most of the settlement folks.
If he had said something, then maybe her scholarship would still be there. Which also meant the school would have notified her brothers and they would be frantic. If her grandmother had still been alive, Dev wouldn't have liked Maldonado's chances to get out of this unscathed, but it was just the four of them left. Their parents had split for the colonies not long after Dev was born, when it was clear they couldn't support the family on the jobs available for them on Earth. Her grandparents had raised them, but both of them had died when Dev was young. Her brothers were her entire family, now.
It was a good thing Maldonado didn't expect any of them to ransom her back. Of the four of them, Dev and Giles were the only ones to make it to Uni. Giles had managed to blow his own scholarship after just two years. Her brothers were scattered around different areas of the Midlant settlement, scraping together enough credits to live, but not much better than that.
Dev was supposed to have been the one to change everything.
She slammed her fist into the floor beside her. A hollow clang reverberated through the galley. Dev drew her breath in, sharply and ignored the throbbing in her hand. Snatching up one of her newly made crude tools, she tapped it against the flooring, listening intently. The sound was different for about a third of a square meter around her.
An access hatch. Of course. There had to be service tunnels for water and power all through the ship. Now all she had to do was get it open. Ignoring the grime on the floor, Dev crawled around examining the metallic tiles. They looked solid, each piece abutting the next with the thinnest of seams. The metal was treated with the same almost holographic patterning as the ceiling, giving it a three dimensional effect and making it hard to study closely. She closed her eyes and ran her hands over them instead. What her eyes had missed, her fingers found - small plugs set into the corners of the tile. When she looked at them, she couldn't see them at all.
Letting her hands be her guide, she slipped the tip of her thinnest screwdriver along the edge of the seam and slowly pushed on its makeshift material-wrapped handle. The polymer tool bent in a shallow arc as she pressed down. "Don't break, please don't break," she whispered. The bulb's material was strong and resilient by design, but if the plug covers were rusted in place it wasn't going to stand up to whatever alloy they'd made the floor out of.
She released the pressure on the tool and pulled it free. Her forehead beaded sweat. Her hands were trembling. Taking a deep breath, she moved to the opposite corner and tried again. Again, the screwdriver started to warp before there was any sense of movement from the plug. With deliberate care, Dev set it down and wiped her hands on the bottom of her shirt. Then she picked up the tool and went to the third corner.
In her mind, she was uncovering a precious relic, and this was a dig site, not a makeshift prison. Slowly, carefully, she could loosen the plugs. She had to.
It was just going to take time. Dev had plenty of that.
She lost track of how long she circled the small area of floor, applying minute amounts of pressure to each of the four plugs in turn, when one shifted. At first Dev thought she'd cracked the screwdriver, but when she looked down, the pattern of the flooring had been disrupted and the tiny disk was now ever so slightly raised up above the level of the tile.
"Fuck, yeah," she whispered, before attacking the remaining three with a new energy.
Welcome to another week of #SaturdayScenes
where writers across GooglePlus share snippets of work in progress.
This is another first draft segment from #DreadnoughtAndShuttle
, book 3 in the world of Halcyone Space. Dev is a new character to the series, and rapidly becoming one of my favorites to inhabit. She is resilient and resourceful, not to mention a window into the history of Earth pre and post diaspora. When she refers to dig sites, she is talking about pre-sea rise cities and towns that were ultimately abandoned and now are slowly disintegrating. Some are still prone to flooding during high tide storms. Her grandparents were forcibly resettled by the Commonwealth guard into one of many 'temporary' settlements inland of the rising waters.
Book 1 (DERELICT) and Book 2 (ITHAKA RISING) are available in ebook and trade paperback formats. In addition, DERELICT is available in audio via Audible/Amazon/itunes. ITHAKA RISING will be available in audio shortly. http://www.ljcohen.net
Book 3 will be out summer of 2016.
You can follow my work either in my 'LJ's Saturday Scenes' Collection, ( https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/0CKMb
) or via the hashtags: #LJSatScenes#DreadnoughtandShuttle