The ZOO

Here is a sneak peak at my science fiction.

 

PROLOGUE

 

Earth’s population had exploded in the last century, causing a drain on natural resources, which in turn started WWIII in 2055. The war had lasted for five hellish years. Earth had been decimated, and billions of people were killed. The majority of countries were forced to band together, forming the Coalition of Nations in order to end the war. Once the Coalition constructed the first space ship and space station, nothing could hold the explorers back. During the next ten years of exploration, another suitable planet was discovered, and Earth sent delegates to colonize it — calling it, unoriginally, Earth2.

During Earth’s years of space exploration and discovery, humans had encountered many species bent on the subjugation and slavery of Earth’s inhabitants. The alien races loved using Earth for target practice. Growing up, Adelaide Zedler remembered seeing the sky crack open to rain fire and destruction down upon what remained of Earth’s cities. Adelaide still woke up with nightmares thirty-one years later. So many lives had been lost. It was why she had joined the military and was now the captain of one of Earth’s battleships. But now, in the year 2108, Earth was in the middle of another war that, if not won, could see the end of their civilization.

 

CHAPTER 1

 

“Captain, we’ve received the coordinates.”

Captain Adelaide Zedler turned from analyzing the computer data to looking down her thin, straight, freckled nose at the ensign. Trying to rub away the pain pulsing at the back of her head from her severe bun, she demanded, “What are the coordinates?” Adelaide frowned, swiping at the few red curls that were escaping from her hair elastic to land smack dab in front of her eyes. There were so many times when she had been tempted to chop off her hair, but it was only worse short.

“The destination is Earth2,” the ensign said.

“Engage,” she said, sitting down in her chair and pushing the comm button on the arm of her chair. “Attention, battle stations. We are on a trajectory to Earth2, where our enemy has engaged our allies. Hopefully, this is the last battle, and we’ll beat those bastards back. Captain out.”

Cheers echoed in agreement throughout the ship, as the alarm sounded the battle warning. Adelaide looked around the bridge at the crew that, over the past years, had weaseled their way into her heart. The battleship was large, with a compliment of two hundred members, and housed one of the largest arsenals in Earth’s fleet.

As she stared out into the vastness of space, the ship’s massive cannons shifted in the corner of her eye. The ship was built in three square segments. Cannons stuck out on either side of each segment. The bridge sat above the middle segment like a large periscope, acting as the backbone of the ship. Either of the end segments could be jettisoned if damaged beyond repair, but if the middle went, they were all doomed. When no one important was listening, Adelaide would call it the caterpillar.

Adelaide watched as the ship moved to enter a jump gate. Eight years ago, in 2100, Earth had signed the Multi-Species Accords with the hope that the defences they offered would provide Earth’s citizens with protection against any non-members. The jump-gate technology Earth had received by signing the Accords was a godsend. They were able to reach locations within their galaxy in hours, compared to earlier estimates that it would take at least a billion years to cross the Milky Way galaxy. It opened up endless possibilities for exploration, and for some, exploitation. Not many jump gates existed. They were built near Accord-member planets, so the gates could be easily defended. Other species could pay the planet an exorbitant fee to use the gate or try entering by force. Only a few were ever able to pass through and cause problems throughout the galaxy. Of course, this rule encouraged innovation, and many scientists were trying to duplicate the technology and even improve upon it, in hopes of making it smaller.

Adelaide had an inkling that the Raykar may have developed this new gate technology, for how else they could travel such distances so quickly? Everyone in the Accords was aware of the travel ban prohibiting the Raykar from using the gates. The reigning government of the Accords constantly sent out bulletins listing the peoples and planets who were on their shit list. Shaking her head, she set aside the concern for the moment, and instead, Adelaide tried to mentally prepare herself for the fight ahead. Earth’s three battleships and ten warships would engage their enemy, the Raykar, along with their allies from the Accords. Hopefully, the Raykar would be beaten into submission, and Earth could finally know peace.

Adelaide adjusted her mandatory uniform jacket. It was a dark blue double-breasted jacket with large gold buttons running down the front in two lines. She was grateful for her small waist, because the jacket cinched very tightly, and she could barely breathe as it was. You would think the higher-ups would realize that girls had boobs, and hers were larger than most. With today’s medical advances, women were getting breast reductions and lifts in just hours, with no recovery time. Surgery might be in style, but Adelaide had no plans on changing her God-given natural assets.

“Captain, we’ll be exiting the gate within minutes.”

“Everyone prepare for arrival,” Adelaide commanded. Space seemed to zoom past the ship in streams of light as they shot across the galaxy. When they exited the gate, Adelaide sucked in a breath and said, “Contact Admiral Arteaga.” As she waited, Adelaide watched the massive amount of debris floating in their path.

It was a requirement of the Accords to provide support during war. The sensors showed that only nine Earth ships were left, fighting alongside five allies. From the reports she had received, there were originally twelve allied ships. This was not good. The biggest problem was the group of twenty-five Raykar ships plowing straight towards them. The enemy ships were shaped like massive sting rays, and their sleek black shapes seemed to glide through space effortlessly, as they blew one of Earth’s ships to kingdom come. They were down to eight.

She had a bird’s-eye view of the battle. There had been skirmishes throughout their galaxy, but this was the final one. The Raykar were trying to break through the Accords’ blockade to reach Earth2. Three other planets surrounded the battlefield like a fighting ring. Two were uninhabited, and the third was primitive. The locals lacked space travel and the desire to advance, much to the surprise of all spacefaring species. Adelaide could understand the simple life, though. It would be a lot quieter and easier than dealing with these issues, but she enjoyed the excitement. She was surprised the Raykar weren’t trying to subjugate them, but maybe the planet had nothing they desired.

“I have Admiral Arteaga.”

“Sir?” Adelaide responded.

“Captain, the Raykar are advancing through our front line, and we can’t hold them off. Cover that hole!” ordered the admiral.

“Yes, sir. You heard him — maneuver us now. Be ready to engage.”

She watched as an Earth ship exploded on their left, and the pieces blew apart, a few hitting their hull and sending shudders rippling throughout the ship. Seven Earth ships remained. Crewmen swore as their ship reached its destination, and they witnessed the destruction. The noise was deafening within the ship, which continued to shudder as it was bombarded by the fragments. Some were the size of large boulders, and the flashes from the blasts lit up the space around them.

“Ensign, ensure there are no breaches,” Adelaide commanded. “Here they come. Fire!”

The ship jerked as all cannons fired towards the oncoming vessels. Time seemed to slow as ship after ship lit up. With all of the remaining ally ships directing their energy on the incoming enemy, they were finally able to slow the advance.

“Captain, a ship is coming in fast on the starboard.”

“Concentrate our firepower. We need to slow them down and take evasive maneuvers.”

Adelaide watched as the ship continued on its path, straight for them. “Shields at maximum. Divert power from every system that can afford it. Everyone, brace for impact,” she yelled, as the incoming ship collided with theirs between its front and middle segments. The crew was thrown forwards, and alarms sounded throughout the ship. Adelaide gripped the arms of her chair, forcing her body to remain rigid. The lights flickered off and then burst back on causing little sparks in front of Adelaide’s eyes. Their ship was skewered, damaging both the front and middle segments. Adelaide gazed in horror as the front of her ship slowly peeled away, dragging the enemy ship with it.

“Status?” she demanded, staring at the jagged edges of the ship.

“Shields are at minimum, but we can still shoot the bastards, Captain.”

“Do we have propulsion?”

“Yes.”

“Move us a few degrees to port side. There’s a gap that the enemy is trying to penetrate. Keep firing.” There was no way in hell that Adelaide was going to let the Raykar win.

“Yes, Captain.”

The ship teetered before righting itself and inched forwards. Reports were coming in from all over the ship. Adelaide scrolled through them, mentally sorting the priorities. There were hull breaches in the rear segment, but as long as their segment survived, they would be alright.

“Captain, half of segment three has been compromised, but it’s holding strong.”

Just then, the ship was hit with a barrage of cannon fire, and they tilted to the right. The roar was deafening as her crew yelled and the ship squealed, then popped, while slowly beginning to pull apart.

“Captain, the ship’s lost life support and firepower. We’re dead in the sky.”

“Everyone, to the life pods,” Adelaide yelled. The crew began scattering as she stumbled to the control station situated at the front of the bridge. She needed to pilot the ship.

“Move it, Ensign,” she ordered a remaining crewman.

“Captain, what about you?” he asked.

“I’m staying. Someone needs to pilot this bucket of bolts until everyone is safe.”

“Then I’m staying,” he stated, and a few others echoed him.

“No. Everyone, evacuate. I’ll be close behind. That’s an order.” Many crew members argued, but Adelaide held firm, and they eventually ran for the life pods.

Adelaide sat in the pilot’s chair and grabbed hold of the stick in order to steer the battleship manually, staring intently ahead. Hopefully, she could at least guide them away from friendly ships, while everyone escaped. If she could take out some Raykar ships on her way, all the better. The lights began to flicker, and smoke swirled under the door and onto the bridge. Adelaide watched the computer and counted the life pods as they ejected. She slammed her ship into an enemy vessel, and her body flew to the ground. Time to go, she thought, scrambling to her feet. Adelaide’s battleship screeched past the other ship and was now on a direct trajectory towards the enemy line. The ship groaned and seemed to scream in agony, or maybe that was just her, as the bridge exploded just as Adelaide ran through the door. She ducked and dodged the falling debris while stumbling to the pods.

One of the hull breaches had been close by. Broken bodies littered the hallways as she drew closer to the pod room, but there was no time to mourn. Flames shot out of a mechanical panel, and Adelaide threw her body to the ground, but she hadn’t been quick enough.

“Crap!” Adelaide ripped off her jacket, glad she could take a breath, and stomped on the smoldering sleeve.

“Captain,” a crewmember called out, crawling towards her on the floor.

“Lieutenant! Let’s get you out of here.” Adelaide gently grabbed the man’s muscular arm and heaved up, helping him stand. A large gash ran down his leg, leaving a trail of blood behind them as they hobbled towards the escape pods.

“Watch out!” Adelaide yelled, pushing him forwards as a beam fell. Adelaide dove for cover but didn’t move fast enough. Her leg was pinned beneath the beam, and her head crashed against the hull. She groaned, trying to hold in a scream. Blood dripped down her forehead, blurring her vision.

“Captain, are you alright?”

“Get out of here.”

“No. Try to pull out your leg when I lift the beam.” The lieutenant braced his back against the wall and tried to lift, grunting with the effort. The pressure eased slightly, and Adelaide wiggled her leg.

“Hurry, I’m about to drop it.”

Adelaide moved faster and let out a shriek as she yanked her leg free. It was broken, and she might have to crawl, but there was no way she was staying here. Flames were now making their way down the corridor, causing little explosions along their path. She coughed as smoke filled the area, and she tried to glimpse what was ahead.

“Help me up,” she said. The world dimmed and her eyes briefly closed as she stood. “Give me a sec,” she said gruffly. Agony shot up her leg with every step.

When they reached the pods, Adelaide shoved the protesting man into one and pushed eject. It was her turn next. She dragged her leg to the last waiting pod and stumbled in, closing the door. As Adelaide’s escape pod shot into space, the ship reached critical condition and exploded, sending her into a tailspin and making her head smash into the wall. Thankfully, she blacked out.