Here’s the 4th rewrite of Book Three chapter 3 as promised. This improved chapter has a little more intense action and it cuts off with Terk going unconscious instead continuing on. I also changed the title. Let me know what you think! I’d love to read your feedback.
(If you haven’t read the rewrites of the first two chapters of Book Three, check them out HERE.)
Terkeshi glanced past the scaffolding, through the gaping maw gouged out of the unfinished spaceship, and out to the starry universe beyond. Pinpricks of light gave the illusion of infinite possibilities, but all he noticed was the oppressive nothingness.
He sighed, creating a whisper that hissed through the extreme silence of space that surrounded him. His helmet visor adjusted as he brought his attention back to the Fire Breather’s illuminated inner corridor. A line of the outer hull had been removed, leaving a long crevice segmented by seemingly endless light and dark intervals.
The plan was to lower the emitter here once the foundation and sides had been reinforced. The work was slow-going. There was too much to do and most of the work had been halted due to the lack of skilled labor.
Terk reviewed the incomplete tasks on his tablet and his shoulders slumped. There was no way he could manage all this. The construction workers claimed they didn’t have the right equipment, the electricians couldn’t determine how to generate enough power, and every new patch implemented by the programmers created a convoluted mess of redundancies.
The hollowness in his gut swelled. His desire to please his father was smothered by his lack of capabilities.
He hated this damned ship. Even though Father would allow him to take command of it when it was ready, Fire Breather reminded him of all that he’d lost. If only the cyborgs hadn’t told Father about the perantium emitter. His mother wouldn’t have been exiled to some island on one of the Toradon planets, and Jori would still be alive.
He pushed off and floated down the corridor, adding another connection point to his tether along the way. “Malkai,” he called to a shokukin through his comm.
The man in a white spacesuit ahead both knelt and floated as he used a pistol-grip tool to secure a panel. “Yes, my Lord?”
Terk grasped a leg of the scaffolding and halted his forward momentum. “How’s this coming al—”
A piercing beep sounded through the main channel, followed by a verbal transmission. “The ship is under attack!”
“Chusho!” Terk’s heart skipped a beat. A quiver from the scaffolding bolted up from his grip.
Malkai’s mouth fell open and he stared dumbly as the metal braces vibrated.
Terk grabbed the shokukin’s arm. “Move! Get back inside and find an escape pod.”
His attempt to shove Malkai toward an airlock didn’t work well in zero-gravity. All he managed to do was push themselves apart. Terk growled and grasped for the scaffolding.
To go forward or back? He glanced over his shoulder and noted the airlock he had initially come through. Heading back would be easier. All he had to do was draw himself back down his tether, but it was so far away. Did he have enough time?
With a sigh, he propelled himself toward the closer airlock and followed Malkai. As the shokukin hauled himself hand-over-hand, Terk had to carefully secure his tether along the way.
A flash of a hazy glow erupted from the black sky above. His heart jumped as more flashes indicated the ship’s shields being struck. He held his breath, hoping the meager defense systems would hold.
Malkai reached the airlock. He turned with wide eyes and motioned Terk with a wave.
“Go! Don’t wait for me.” Terk gripped the next bracing and wrestled with his tether’s clip. His heart pounded as the mechanism fumbled from his hand. A brace bowed. A tremor ran through it. In a blink, it bent into a sharp, twisted angle.
Chusho! Terk kicked out, flailing until his foot struck the floor. He pushed off toward the airlock just as a soundless snap warped the scaffolding.
Everything jolted. Terk’s helmet slammed into the scaffolding, creating a flash in his mind’s eye. His shoulder rammed into the opposite wall. His tether went taut as he was flung back into the scaffolding. A sharp pain to his elbow followed by a stab to his leg escalated to an agonizing buzz as his body was thrashed.
A thought about the inertial dampeners flickered long enough for him to realize no gravity meant nothing to stop his momentum either.
His comm erupted with the cries and panicked curses of other workers, adding to the piercing sensations overwhelming his entire body. He lost himself in the chaos as blackness swirled in. His arms and legs flailed. Bam! Bam! Darkness seared until he fell into utter oblivion.