ultracosmicrays: (ray/ray just another day)
[personal profile] ultracosmicrays
Rays in Space!AU

Part 1

Climbing the ladder into the cockpit, Ray could hear furious mumbling.

"MacDonald!" he yelled. "You blocking up the com channels with your FOIL crazies again?"

The mumbling stopped.

"Would I do that?"

"Yes. Yes you would," said Ray, slumping into his seat at the front of the cockpit and swinging it round to face his pilot, seated behind banks of instruments on a raised dais.

Ian MacDonald smiled at him, dark eyes round with attempted innocence. Ray considered providing examples to back up his argument, but it made him tired just thinking about it. He swung back around to stare into the star-filled blackness.

"When's the next scheduled stop?"

"If we swing round Oberon and use the momentum to sling us back out of orbit we could make it back to Ganymede as long as we're not called. If we're called we might end up floating, dead in the water, spinning endlessly in the void. Or not." Ian's voice was relentlessly cheerful.

"Let me repeat the question. When's the next scheduled stop?"

"Oberon. Port 7XJ. Thirty-six hours. Give or take."

"Thank you. Was that so hard?"

Ian didn't answer. They sat in silence. Ray liked it that way. It didn't happen often enough as far as he was concerned.

"The new guy seems kinda edgy," Ian volunteered after a few minutes.

"They always are. No one joins the COPS for fun. Something's got him here – just don't know if it's enough to keep him. Can't even keep his food down when the grav field fails. Noob."

"I joined the COPS for fun. And also because I wanted to see the solar system and because my father was the Prime-Lieutenant of Contingency CourtShip 4 so obviously I had to become involved in law enforcement despite the Toronto Fliers begging me to join their ranks because it turns out I'm the only pilot in existence who can fly through the asteroid belt blindfolded."

"Sure, Ian," said Ray, examining his fingernails. "You joined for fun. It had nothing to do with you being caught stealing a ship when you were a kid and ending up indentured to the COPS for life."

"If you're going to get all literal about it-" started Ian but was interrupted by a harsh, repetitive buzzing. A red light flashed on the console to the right of Ray.

"Ah, damn," he said and flipped a switch. A small screen set into the console flickered and lit up. The craggy face of COPS-Captain Welsh crackled into focus.



"Got something for you. A terrorist group calling itself JIM has blown up a hospital wing in Lysander. As if this weren't tragedy enough, the wing they blew up contained both neonatology and paediatrics. They killed children, Vecchio. They do not do that on my watch. You understand?"

"Sir, yes, sir!" Ray's stomach plummeted. Piece of shit terrorists, didn't care who got in the way. But kids! He tuned back in.

"You're the closest team I have. Get down to the surface, liaise with OLE and catch these bastards."

"Yes, sir."

"Oh, and Vecchio? If you could find it within yourself to keep hold of this partner for, let us say the foreseeable future, this would be extremely beneficial to my blood pressure and, indirectly, to you."

"But, sir-"

"No buts, Vecchio. Kowalski has an excellent record. Short, but excellent. He could be a real asset to the COPS. Do not run this one off."

The screen fizzled and went blank.

"I don't run them off," said Ray to empty air. "They run themselves."

Behind him, Ian muttered something that may or may not have been "You keep telling yourself that, Ray."

"Okay!" exclaimed Ray, clapping his hands together and getting to his feet. "Ian, get us to Oberon as fast as you can. Find the closest port space to the hospital in Lysander. Permissions will be taken care of. I better go brief Kowalski."

"Sure thing," said Ian and started tapping into a keyboard. He pressed a button, leaning over and speaking into a small microphone. "Frannie, we're gonna need those thrusters to be ready to go full whack. You've got three hours."

Ray didn't hear his sister's reply; he was already down the ladder and on his way to Kowalski's cabin.


"We always get left behind," grumbled Frannie as she watched the triker disappear into the seething chaos of the port. She heard increasingly insistent blares of the horn and her brother yelling incomprehensibly and shook her head. Always the same.

"You really want to go and see the site? All little kiddie parts scattered around? Reminds me of the time when I was in the Horsehead Nebula and the Katarons had taken the Sylvithian Emperor's children hostage. Of course, being formicacious he had, like, a zillion. It was this whole big thing, I had to act as go between because after the Eternal War I was the only non-arthropod the Katorons and Sylvithians would trust."

Frannie turned and looked at Ian, eyebrows pulled down low and lips pursed.

"I don't think so," she said. "You have a point, though. I don't want to be looking at those poor, poor babies," she sniffed. "Maybe I'll go shopping."

"Can't," said Ian. "We have to refuel and you have to mark off the stores. They'll be here any minute. See?" He gestured towards a man walking purposefully towards the ship. Bobbing alongside him was a hover platform on which was stacked several crates. The whole thing had a precarious look about it. Frannie found herself holding her breath.

"Tell you what," added Ian. "When we're done I'll let you in on the latest research I've been getting in."

"Warp gates?" asked Frannie, her voice low and confidential.

"Them's the ones."

"Excellent!" Frannie stamped her feet with excitement. Then, pulling out a single curl from her ponytail and strategically unfastening the top couple of buttons of her jumpsuit, she sashayed down the ramp to meet the delivery guy. When you didn't have much money, you used whatever bargaining power you had, and Frannie had a lot. The delivery guy didn't stand a chance.


Ray watched Vecchio picking his way through the wreckage, sifting debris through gloved hands. A couple of times he would lift something to his nose and sniff it before putting it down or slipping it into the evidence bag. Once Ray could have sworn that Vecchio's tongue came out, as if he was going to taste the rubble, just like- Ray cut that thought off at the pass. Vecchio's tongue retreated, unused.

The Captain of the local OLE Hub was yakking in Ray's ear about warnings and evacuation procedures and how his wife's cousin's best friend's sister's daughter had almost been in the wing because yesterday she'd had a bad reaction to a sting. Ray got the terror, understood how important it was to find even a tenuous link to the explosion, because that way it could be reduced to a single point and the horrifying enormity of dead children, unrecognisable even to their loved ones, could be kept at bay. So he didn't tell the guy to shut up like he wanted to, he nodded and hmmed and listened, keeping one eye on Vecchio.

It occurred to Ray that Vecchio hadn't moved in some time. He was crouched down, body mostly turned away, but Ray could see that he was gripping something in his hands. Even from a distance Ray could see that the guy was radiating tension. He supposed he ought to check it out.

"One second," he said, holding up a hand to stem the flow of the Hub Captain's monologue. The man was well-trained, shut his mouth immediately and nodded.

Ray scrambled over the shattered building, dust clouding around him with every step. Every now and then his foothold would tip underneath him, leaving him flailing wildly trying to regain his balance. There was no way his approach could have been described as subtle but Vecchio did not move. Ray got to within a couple of strides of him and stopped. He could see now. Vecchio was holding a child's doll in his hands. It looked home-made, lovingly sewn together by nimble hands. Now its dress was torn and dirty, and the head hung half-way off, one eye sewn on slightly higher than the other, giving the doll a permanent look of surprise. Vecchio's hand was stroking the dishevelled woollen hair over and over again, soothing it, bringing back order where there was none.

Ray cleared his throat.

Vecchio turned and Ray saw striped cheeks where tears had carved paths through the dirt and grime. Vecchio looked blindly at Ray and Ray could tell that for a split second Vecchio had no idea who he was. And then he turned away, rubbing his face with his sleeve and dropped the doll.

"Any clues?" he asked, not looking round, voice thick with dust and grief.

"Not sure," said Ray, stopping as he heard yells from the Hub Captain still standing at the edge of the wreckage. Ray twisted round to see the man jumping up and down and waving at him. "Who needs a Com when you've got interpretive semaphore?" said Ray. "Come on, Vecchio, I think we may have something."

Part 3

(no subject)

Date: 2007-08-06 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nos4a2no9.livejournal.com
I really loved that first installment, but things are even better this time 'round. Your world-building is extremely good: I'm getting much more of a sense of the way this future works, clicking on its weary way, resources stretched out across the solar system, commanders like Welsh and guys on the front lines like Vecchio trying to hold it all together. I liked Ian's backstory (he's a wonderful addition, although I'm still hoping you'll find a way to work Fraser into this story) and your Welsh voice was absolutely perfect. Kowalski is the most intriguing piece of this puzzle, though: I'm really looking forward to the revelation of his backstory. And, yes, the fire, and the poor dead kids. Vecchio and Kowalski picking through the rubble afterwards was a good imagine, and I liked the brief Fraser-less nod (sob!) to "Burning Down the House." Good section, and I'm really looking forward to the next part!

(no subject)

Date: 2007-08-06 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ultracosmicrays.livejournal.com
Phew! I'm glad you're finding the world-building good. I always worry about telling too much versus telling too little. There's a lot more going on, obviously, than has yet been mentioned, but so far you're getting what I hoped you'd get. (And please, do not let me dump exposition like rocket fuel, will you?)

I'm delighted you like Ian. With his beliefs in alien life forms he seemed like the perfect guy to have in the future - despite its lack of aliens.

Notice how I sidestep the issue of Fraser and wander off to look for some beer and tea (the meal, not the drink, that would be weird).

(no subject)

Date: 2007-08-08 08:56 pm (UTC)
ext_3244: (Default)
From: [identity profile] ignazwisdom.livejournal.com
Oh, wow. Nice use of the reference to Fraser.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-08-08 09:50 pm (UTC)
catwalksalone: happy grey cat surrounded by flowers (ray/ray tread new ground)
From: [personal profile] catwalksalone
Thank you again. *beams*

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-22 02:34 am (UTC)
ext_10634: (dS | frannie)
From: [identity profile] snoopypez.livejournal.com
Oh, this makes me so flaily! I lovelovelove Ian and his truth-spinning, and Welsh, yay! And Frannie workin' it, yay some more. The doll thing is so sad and I am already super invested.

..And I feel lame saying that when it'd DONE already, but.. yeah.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-11-22 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ultracosmicrays.livejournal.com
Ian makes me very happy. There's just something weirdly honest about all his lies - I don't know what it is.

And yay! for super investing.


ultracosmicrays: (Default)

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