Genre: Science Fiction — #BlogBattle: Surfer
Finally! He’d passed all the holodeck training courses. The last one went way better than he’d expected, and Rifynn was stoked to try out his new skill in the real world.
His mom harped on him over and over about “safety first” and “beggars can’t be choosers.” Both phrases drove him nuts, but she meant well, and since he was still alive at eighteen he figured she deserved to remind him a few more times. If he proved himself capable he would make it off this rink-a-dink space station and have a shot at working the big ones, like the Titan Prime.
Only the top students in the surfer class were chosen for Prime stations, and thus far Rifynn ranked second. Delinia was the only one with a holo-score higher than his and he figured it was only because her dad was the instructor, which meant she got extra practice time. In fact, her dad was like a star in the space surfer world. He held the record for longest air in the ice matrix. But it was his deep barrel twist through combatants that had earned him the most fame in the Outer Sector.
Besides Delinia’s dad being top space surfer, they also had plenty of money to buy a ranking position in the United Planetary Forces, so Rifynn imagined he’d have no problem getting first pick of station once he was officially in the UPF. Granted, he’d have to work his way up through the ranks, but it would be worth it.
His own father had served during the Great Pluton War and given his life in the pursuit of freedom against the Galaxis Reguma, a wolf-humanoid-type race from beyond Pluto who’d invaded the inner circles of the Milky Way in search of an inferior slave race. They hadn’t known what they were up against, but in the midst of the battles many good men died, including Rifynn’s dad, a space surfer. It was one of the most dangerous positions in the military but also one of the most honored.
He imagined it was the death of Kronos that had his mom constantly nagging him over his own surfer dreams. He could barely remember his father, but what he did made him proud. His mom also told him stories about Kronos that were bigger than life, but he didn’t care; it was his dad they were talking about, and he was his hero.
Rifynn hung up his specially designed, ultra-thin protective space suit, his blaster, and electro-whip then slipped back into his school uniform, a tight-fitting blue zip up shirt and black slacks.
“Hey, Rif, that was choka! You’ve got some fine carving skills, man. If I didn’t know better I’d say you could beat out Delinia for top spot, except we both know she’s a sick surfer,” Boon said and slapped him on the shoulder.
Boon had been Rifynn’s worst enemy when they were younger, but after Rifynn helped Boon escape a late night station patrol by taking him through the air duct system when they were ten they’d become best friends. Both of them had decided to join the UPF after finishing junior school. Boon was a good surfer, but he paled in comparison to Rifynn. He also wasn’t as willing to push the envelope, saying his life was worth more than a half-second thrill.
“Thanks, Boon. Del is pretty good, but she’s got a get-into-military-free card ’cause of her daddy.”
Rifynn ran his hand through his two-inch-longer-than-regulation dark brown hair, but the smirk on his face was quickly wiped off by a shin-pad as it slammed to the side of his head. “Hey!” he yelled and rubbed his temple. “Tone down the arggo, Del.”
“At least I’m not a barney with no skills, Rifynn. I work just as hard–or harder even–than the rest of you. What you don’t seem to get is that because my dad’s the instructor, he’s that much harder on me than the rest of you,” Delinia said with some serious venom and stood on her tiptoes to glare into his face. “Pull your head out of your–”
“Woah, Del. Sorry,” Rifynn said with his hands raised in surrender. “You win. You’re the best.” He took two steps back and bowed at the waist twice. He stood tall again in time to see her roll her eyes and try to hide a smile. He grinned in satisfaction at having tamed the beast, at least temporarily.
With grudging slowness she said, “I saw you on that last ice split. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
It was as close to a compliment as Delinia had ever given him, and it shocked him while also giving him an intense spike of pleasure.
“Get a room,” Boon groaned from next to them, and Rifynn felt his face turn a deep shade of pink.
He was about to smack his buddy for interrupting his pleasant flirtations with the class leader when the blaring of the emergency alarm assaulted his ears. It was followed by the frantic flashing of red lights all along the ceiling. His heart jumped into his throat. The last time Hauser Station had used the alarm system was during the war, when Rifynn was four, and he wasn’t expecting the frantic beat of his heart to outstrip his calm and cool demeanor.
They were all frozen in indecision, each looking around at the others in the room. Within ten seconds, which felt like an hour, Leader Montress burst into the divided locker room. “It’s an attack! Everyone, get back in your gear. You’ve been drafted early, folks,” he said, and Rifynn thought he heard panic in Delinia’s dad’s voice.
Boon smacked Rifynn on the back. “Well, so much for graduation. And I had the coolest underwear picked out.”
In unison the two of them turned back to their lockers while Delinia rushed off to the girl’s side. They changed in record time, adrenaline coursing through their veins. Rifynn was excited, nervous, scared out of his mind. As space surfers they’d be out there in the midst of battle, and he realized no amount of training would ever prepare him for the real thing.
“I’m gonna be sick, man,” Boon said and gripped the edge of his locker, his face a serious shade of green.
He looked at Rifynn with fear screaming out of his eyes then threw up in the waste receptacle just behind him. Once that was done he stood tall and nodded in grim acceptance. Rifynn nodded back. Neither had any words to describe how this moment felt, and yet both were glad to be there together.
They’d seen all the footage of battles past, the carnage, the lifeless floating surfers caught on the lazy current of space. In what could be just a few minutes one or both of them could end up just like that, no joke. It wouldn’t stop them from doing their duty.
They held their helmets under their arms and marched to the compression hatch, lining up with the others. Rifynn slid the light-filtering, heat-reflecting helmet over his head and pressed the button on the side to activate the seal. Next, he pressed two buttons on his wrist which turned on the full body shield. It was the final line of defense, though it couldn’t stand up against too many blows from the Galaxis Reguma’s light phasers.
He took a deep, calming breath, but it caught in his throat when a hand gripped his gloved one. He looked down at the twined fingers first then up into the shielded face of the owner of the other hand. Delinia. Her eyes were bright, but she looked sad and Rifynn didn’t know what that meant except he was overcome with a desire to protect her.
She loosened her fingers from his. “Go get ’em, surfer,” she said and punched him in the arm.
The compression hatch opened, and Rifynn felt the pull of open space, but he couldn’t pull his eyes from Delinia as she grabbed her board and ran out into the gaping, vast blackness. He shook his mind loose and joined her and the others, all zipping on their boards in formation, him at the lead of one combat unit, her in another.
“Head in the game, Group Leader,” Boon said from Rifynn’s right as he spoke into the comms.
The four combat units circled under the station and headed for the middle rings of Saturn. Rifynn looked around, mainly trying to spot the enemy, but was more concerned over the lack of other units, or strike ships in the vicinity.
It took them one minute to reach the edge of the ice rocks delineating a ring, but just as they were about to split and head between the jagged field, Leader Montress barrel-rolled out of the ring’s patchy cover.
“Nice work, class,” he said into the comms as he settled his board over a rock and jumped onto it, holding his board like an old earth surfer on the sandy beaches Rifynn wanted to fight to protect but would probably never see in person. “I’m pleased to see there are no deserters in this group. You have one final test, here in the real world, but against our drone forces. This will be purely laser sighted, but you could still be injured. Good luck.”
It was only the beginning, but it was exactly where Rifynn wanted to be.