Into the Dark: One

A word from one of the authors: This series was a collaboration between myself and Ciarente. Many of you have likely already read it, but I am working on copying it over here so it won't be censored and so it can be easily found in the future. For those who are new to it, or who are re-reading it, enjoy.


Fisk Hurun tried to crawl.

His legs wouldn't work, not even to push him along the floor. Fingers scrabbling on the smooth deck of the shuttle, he tried to drag himself forward. Moved an inch.

A wave of darkness then.

When it passed, the pain was back. The bullets had torn up something important inside him, something that sent out distress signals in jagged flashes of pain that made him retch.

He tried again to crawl, failed again. Dragged himself another inch.

The comm, he thought. Get the comm. Tell the XO. Pilot ...

His earpiece was gone. That had been the first thing he'd thought of when he'd woken face down on the shuttle deck, still thinking Alpassi shooting, wrong, wrong ...
But when he'd felt for it, lifting his hand to his left ear, his fingers hadn't touched hardened plastic but something soft and wet and spongy. His hand had come away smeared with blood and bone splinters and flecks of something worse.

No earpiece.

Get to the comm.

Dark again. When he came to this time he was lying awkwardly on his side, jaw clenched and aching. He opened his eyes and found himself staring straight into the dead face of Helmi Alpassi, neat bullet hole in her forehead.

You shot me, he thought. Who shot you?

The shot comes from behind him and Fisk reaches for his sidearm even as his conscious mind is still processing the sound. He has his gun out of its holster and is half-turned toward the sound when he feels a massive blow to the side of his head. Half-in-instant's flash of Alpassi, gun drawn, bodies of her squad-mates on the ground, and then nothing.

Nothing until he opened his eyes some uncountable time later to see the man at the top of the security watch-list standing with a gun drawn and levelled at Pilot Roth. Pilot's father. Jorion Roth Hell of a family.

Fisk had felt surreptitiously for his sidearm, found the holster empty, and then seen it lying across the other side of the shuttle. Felt for his earpiece and found -

Tried to gather himself to throw himself unarmed against Roth and discovered that his legs wouldn't so much as twitch in response to his brain's frantic commands.

Pilot hadn't seen him wake, hadn't seen his scrabbling attempts at movement, her gaze fixed on the man standing over her, wide and glassy. Shock, Fisk had guessed. Shock, and those pills she keeps taking.

Nor had the man Pilot called Papa.

The little girl had, though. Camille. Fisk had looked for her, hoping she hadn't been hurt, and met her intent, frightened gaze.

It'll be all right, Camille, he'd tried to communicate with a look, aware that with half his head blown off he probably wasn't going to be particularly reassuring to a seven-year-old. It'll be all right. Somehow.

It was then he'd seen his shattered earpiece lying a few feet from his left hand. Carefully, trying to avoid making a sound or drawing attention, he'd reached for it.

The little girl had seen what he was doing, her eyes widening, and turned to the other two. For a horrible instant Fisk had thought she was going to point out his movement to them.

"Papa, papa, when we go home, can I have a pony?"

She'd jumped from her seat and scampered to the other side of the man with the gun, so as he turned to look down at her his back was to Fisk.

Fisk had got his hand on the earpiece, but it was immediately apparent to him that it was dead, probably hit by the bullet that had hit his head. Maybe fixable. If I had time.

Time was what he didn't have, by any calculation.

Jorion Roth had started herding Pilot and her sister toward the door.

Maybe fixable.

Fisk remembered the hours Camille had spent tinkering with the circuits on the scrapped Rifter some rich pilot had given her. As she passed him on the way to the door of the shuttle he flicked the earpiece towards her across the floor.

Camille had not missed a beat, stooping to adjust her shoe and sweeping the earpiece up in her hand and then into a pocket as if she'd spent a life-time making dead-drops for covert organisations.

Good luck, Fisk wished her, wished her sister. Ancestors shelter you. Spirits protect you. Since I couldn't.

He'd started trying to reach the comm as soon as the door closed, shutting him in with the dead. How long has it been? He kept losing himself in unexpected holes of blackness, and every time it happened there was less and less of the world to come back to.

Fisk tried to get purchase on the deck-plating to drag himself further but his fingers were going numb and fumbled uselessly against the cold metal.

Come on, Fisk. Get to the comm. Call the XO.

Another inch.

Sound behind him. He wanted to to turn and see what but the movement was beyond him. Another inch.

There was a voice. He turned his head a little, saw a gunmetal grey hand, a woman's face.

"Fisk, it's Amieta, you shouldn't move." Her hand was on his shoulder, so gentle it barely caused him any pain. "What happened, Fisk?"

I know her, Fisk thought, the idea coming to him slowly and distorted, like sound underwater. Pilot knows her.

A deck of cards, Nerila dealing, her and Mitch pretending they weren't going to be spending the night together in a storage locker later and Fisk and the XO pretending they didn't know ... A cool metal handshake, a level gaze ... the XO nods and Nerila deals Amieta in. Pilot's friend. Tell her.

But the words stuck somewhere between his mind and his lips. Fisk heard himself a long way away, "C-c-c-c- ... ex. Ex. ex."

"XO? Call? I'm getting back on com with her now," Amieta said.

Pilot's gone. The words wouldn't even begin to form. Desperately, he sought others. "Queen ... girl. T-t-t-took."

"Queen girl? Captain?"

"Yes! " The man on the watch list, Jorion Roth. Papa. "Wa - wa- wa ... tall man. Tall. Wa - wa - wa ..." He willed the words out, to no avail, reached for Amieta as if he could convey the message through touch.

Amieta took his hand, a grip that could have easily broken bones closing around his fingers so delicately he barely felt it. "Don't move, Fisk. Tall man? A stranger?"

Watch list. "No. No. No st-st-st - "

"Someone you know. Friend of the pilot?"
Not friend. Fisk didn't know if he'd said that as his vision fragmented into shards of colour and then blackness, pain lancing through his head.

"Fisk?" Amieta's voice brought him back out of the dark. "You there? Fisk? Was it someone you were to look out for?"

Yes. He wasn't sure if he said it or only thought it. Another voice was saying something about putting him under and Fisk tried to protest.

Amieta held up a hand and the other voice stopped. "Someone on your list?" she asked. "Jorion? Fisk, Pilot's father?"

Yes. "Y-y-" He was tired. So tired. More tired than he'd even been in his life. The urge to sleep was almost irresistible and fighting it was harder than anything he'd ever done. "Girl ... girl ... ha-ha-ha ... ear. Ear"


"Yes. ha-ha-ha ... girl ... ear. Ear!"

"Ear?" Amieta frowned.

Fisk willed her to understand. "Ga-ga-gave. Ear."

"Gave Ear... Gave to who? Camille?"


Darkness again then, no matter how he fought it. Somewhere in the black he found the hand that held his, clutched at it, felt the metallic grip squeeze his fingers in return. Amieta was speaking to him, and he fought to hear her, her words sliding and breaking around him, trailing colours across his vision, making no sense that he could grasp.

Find her, he tried to say. I lost her. Find her.

The spirits gave him a gift then, one I don't deserve. The flashes and sparks across his vision faded and let him see Amieta's face, a light in her eyes that would have been frightening if he'd thought it was directed at him.

"There's nowhere I won't find her," she said, and her voice carried absolute conviction. "Nowhere."

He wanted to thank her, tried to.

All his words were gone.

Fisk Hurun closed his eyes and fell into the dark.

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