Mimic and the Space Engineer Space Shifter Chronicles, Book 1
James David Victor
1. Digging Up the Future
2. Shifting Paradigm
3. All You Can Eat Buffet
4. Friends in Unusual Places
5. Scan This
6. Pillow Talk
7. Imitation is the Finest Form of Flattery
8. Unlikely Allies
Copyright © 2017 Fairfield Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Except for review quotes, this book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the written consent of the author.
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is purely coincidental.
Digging Up the Future
“Higgens! Clean up on the base deck!”
I jolted forward, nearly shocked out of my skin by the ship’s intercom. A sizzle from below my hands pulled me the other way, and I realized my little gizmo-project had set itself alight with my gap in attention.
“Dammit.” I groaned, grabbing my well-used extinguisher and blasting the creation until it stopped it’s popping and cracking.
“Higgens! Do you read?”
“Yeah! I read! What’s the mess?” I asked.
“Why do you need to know? Just get down there!”
I gave myself a few seconds while I mentally retorted with the sarcastic comeback I wanted to say, before saying what I knew I
“Alright! Alright! There was a slight rupture in the base of one of the drills and a mess of grit and debris got in.”
“Righto. Space contamination and debris clearing it is.”
“Whatever. Just get down there. We’re supposed to start drilling again in a couple of hours and I’m not missing out on any bonuses because of this.”
“Yes, sir. Of course, sir.”
If this were any other job, I would not tolerate that kind of condescension. But this was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I wasn’t about to risk being kicked off at the next station because I ticked off one of the senior engineers that ran this place. The pay was triple anything I had been paid at any other job and I got to travel to remote parts of the galaxy where I would never have a chance to go otherwise. As an added bonus, the crew didn’t seem to care if I picked up interesting things that came through the junk stream, which I was turning into my own little creations that I could sell at our next stop.
I hummed to myself as I gathered up my things and headed down. The best thing about my new gig was that we were working on a massive, government-contracted mining vessel with a skeleton crew. I could go days without seeing another human being and it did wonders for the anxiety that always pooled in my stomach when I was forced into professional, polite conversations.
It took about ten minutes to get down into the maintenance underbelly that housed the base of the drills, and the subsequent tubes where all their churned-up debris was funneled through to the sorter. Sure enough, one of the tubes had ruptured, spraying a wall with grit, goop, and who knew what else.
One of the sensors on my cart beeped yellow so I glanced at the display.
“Space radiation levels slightly elevated,” I said to myself. “Might as well play it safe.”
Digging through my supplies, I found my anti-rad field and placed it onto my chest. Once it adhered to my jumpsuit, it was just a press of the button and then I was safe from any of those cancerous sorts of mutations that liked to happen when space messed with one’s insides.
“Let’s get this party started then,” I mused, turning on my music in the earpiece implanted just under my ear. Standard fare for all government and government contracted employees.
A lot of people didn’t like cleaning, or repairing, but I did. It was like one of my virtual games, but with real world consequences. I set about patching the tube first. I could flush it once it was repaired and clean the rest of the room while that was going on.
It was a fairly long, drawn out process, and by the time it was all finished, I was covered in dirt and sweat. I took a last look around the metal covered room, which now had a great sparkle to it if I do say so myself, and gave a nod of satisfaction before trundling back to my room.
“Tube repaired and flushed, and the cleanup is finished. I’m on my way to dump the debris and muck now.”
“Took you long enough. You’d think you wouldn’t mind putting a rush on it considering how much we’re paying you.”
“Apologies, Sir. I just like to be thorough and leave it better than when I arrived.”
“Yeah, whatever. Just be quicker on the next one.”
I shook that thought out of my head. I didn’t have time to be negative. It was a waste of both energy and brainpower. I turned my music up and continued to the disposal room, daydreaming of my next little project.
It was easy to slip into a daydream, and I was only paying half attention as I pushed my cart through the ship. Making sure to put on my thick protective gloves, I reached into the waste chamber and started picking out bits to toss in.
A sheet of buckled metal, some jelly-like liquid, it was all very ho-hum until I felt something pinch my arm.
“Ow!” I jerked and looked into my cart, expecting to see a sharp piece of shrapnel or bit of warped equipment. Instead, I saw
I screamed, and reached an octave I didn’t know I was capable of hitting. I reared back, whipping my hand about like a complete maniac. There might have been sensible words coming out of my mouth, but I had no idea what they were. I just knew I needed whatever the heck was touching me to let go!
And boy indeed did it let go. Like a black and shiny little missile, the thing went sailing into the far wall where it smacked into the aged, metal surface then slid down to the chemical-disposal shelf.
I finally stopped screaming and somehow had the wherewithal to grab a piece of junk that could work as a weapon. I brought it up, totally ready to go toe to toe with the strange thing that attacked me.
Except… it wasn’t attacking me. If anything, it was cowering, hurt and shivering on the shelf. Despite everything my brain was warning me, I slowly lowered the pipe in my hand. “I’m sorry, you scared me. You alright there, little guy?”
The thing stopped shaking, and turned to look at me. Or at least that’s what I was assuming it was doing. It didn’t have any eyes that I could discern, and yet I had the distinct impression that it was indeed seeing me.
It was a strange critter, all angles and harsh, onyx spikes. It didn’t seem to have legs so much as it would grow random bits to move itself about, then they would shrink back into itself.
I lowered my arms completely and took a cautious step toward it. “Hey, I’m all about the non-violence, so if you’re not going to eat my brains, I don’t see why I can’t help you out.”
The little thing let out a trill and it was possibly the most adorable sound I had ever heard. I instantly thought of a basket full of puppies. Its color rolled from black to grey, to a dark green and it cautiously scuttled forward to the edge of the shelf.
It was the moment of truth. I reached out, trying to quell the anxiety pooling in my stomach, and held out my hand right in front of the little alien. It stood there for several long, painful seconds before taking a cautious step forward onto the top of my hand. When I continued to cooperate, it gingerly climbed closer and closer, until it was perched on my shoulder.
“Well,” I murmured to myself, my head trying to wrap about everything that had just happened. “I guess I always wanted a pet.”
I stared at the little creature intently, noting its movements and habits. As soon as I had arrived in my room, it had scurried off of my shoulder and under my standard-issue cot. And then into my shoes. And then out of my shoes and into my own personal scrap bin. I had never thought that I would have to alien-proof my quarters, but I was beginning to think it might be necessary.
“Higgens!” Dang it, I had still forgotten to turn my comm down. It was obnoxiously loud in my tiny space and my new guest let out a squeal of panic. “Gonzales has some expired blaster cores that need to be disposed of. We just found the case that was lost on the load up. Some idiot labeled it as stims! Can you believe that?”
“Have them meet me at the lift on their floor. I’ll make sure to have the proper containment unit.”
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll deliver the message. Be there in ten.”
At first it had been strange to me that I only corresponded with the head of crew, Francis Giomatti. Now, I was grateful for it. The thought of having all twenty members of the crew bothering me with every little thing that went wrong—and probably wasn’t even in my job description—made my stomach twist.
“Alright, so I gotta go, but I’ll be right back in less than half an ho-” I trailed off as I realized I couldn’t see my new alien friend any ...