This is a snippet of my work in progress (WIP in writerspeak), and it's here in its raw and unedited form, so please bear that in mind. Most people don't share first drafts, but I'm awkward, so this is here particularly for members of readers' group, The Awkward Squad. I hope you enjoy this snippet, and I really hope it makes you smile. Please leave comments in the comment box below, and play nice with the other commenters. Thank you.

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NB: This piece contains cursing including F bombs, so if that will spoil your enjoyment, please don't read it. Thanks.

Prologue

Aboard The Kreltonian Skull – Andromeda Class Battle Cruiser

Official Status: Assigned to Andel-Kreit Coalition Fleet.

Ship’s Log: Routine Patrol of Sector Seven-B.

Admiral Norph paced the bridge, his hands clasped behind his back, his restless fingers rubbing his talons across his palms, the crooked claws scraping across the scales with an insistent scraping hiss.

The crew hunched over their consoles, their stubby fingers darting over the touch screens as they kept their heads firmly down, their thick-skinned brows furrowed in apparent concentration; all fully occupied with their assigned tasks. All, that is, except for the science officer. Zak3 stood upright at his post, his head turning from side to side, a bemused smirk on his thin lips as he tracked the admiral’s motion.

Norph halted abruptly and turned his gaze on Zak3, his rheumy eyes narrowed as he studied the science officer’s expression. “Am I entertaining you, Mister?

The silence on the bridge grew thick, the rest of the crew sitting rigid, their hands frozen over their screens. The ship’s counsellor, Lieutenant Grulb, closed his eyes. The only sound was the faint whir of the bridge’s dehumidifiers. No one breathed.

But Zak3, for whom breathing was not an option, lifted his chin. “Only mildly, Admiral. I’m afraid that if entertainment was your intention, I must report that your performance was lacking a number of the essential elements.”

“Really? Is that so?” Norph said slowly, his voice little more than a whisper. “Well, well, well. “ He stepped close to Zak3, raising his gaze to look the tall science officer in the eye. “So, why then, would you happen to have that moronic grin on the lifeless abomination that passes for your face?” Norph raised his voice to a low growl. “Did you blow a circuit or something? Did you fuse the tiny part of your robotic mind that tells you how to treat your superior officers with some respect?”

Zak3’s smile faded as he seemed to realize the gravity of his situation. “No, Admiral. My neural net is fully operational and all my circuits are operating normally. I was merely observing the stress patterns in the deck which seem to be caused by your repeated…” His voice trailed away and his eyes went to the bolt gun on Norph’s belt, apparently hynotized by the way Norph was stroking the weapon’s gleaming handle. “I apologize, Admiral,” Zak3 added, standing to attention. “No offense was intended. “It won’t happen again, Sir.”

“Good. Good.” Norph stepped even closer to the hapless science officer. “That’s all right then. We’ll say no more about it.” He smiled, but just as Zak3’s shoulders relaxed, Norph whipped his bolt gun from its holster and aimed it at the science officer’s head. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do somthing about it. And unfortunately for you, If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a smart-ass robot.”

Zak3’s lips worked silently for a second, then: “Sir, may I respectfully remind you that I am not in fact a robot but a cybonic lifeform with the same rights as any serving officer in the Andel-Kreit fleet.”

“Noted,” Norph said, his thumb turning the slider on his bolt gun, switching it from automatic to single shot. “One bolt should to the job, don’t you think?”

“Yes, Admiral,” Zak replied. “But I calculate that the bolt would pass through my skull and cause considerable damage to the critical systems on the bridge.”

Norph nodded thoughtfully. “Good point.” He lowered his aim until the gun pointed squarely at Zak3’s chest, and when he pulled the trigger, the sharp crack of his weapon discharging echoed through the bridge. For a moment, Zak3 rocked back on his heels, blinking rapidly, then his body slumped and he crumpled to the deck, his sturdy frame meeting the floor with a hollow thud.

Norph smiled as he holstered his weapon. “Right, that’s the crew well-being consultation dispensed with for the day.” He paused to brush his hands together while mentally running down his todo list for the day. He’d already had couple of crew members thrown in the brig for minor infringments of the uniform regs, and he’d breakfasted well enough, despite the inferiority of the Kreitian blood sausage. What was next? Ah, yes, he thought. Start a war. He turned to address the crew. “Listen up! We’ve been cooling our heels in this backward sector for far too long. We’re heading out. We have a bold new mission with new objectives, and finally, some action. Are you ready?”

A chorus of agreement rang out: “Aye,aye, Admiral.”

“Excellent.” Norph swaggered across to his chair and sat down heavily, the seat’s heavy duty springs groaning in protest beneath his bulk. Norph made himself comfortable then tapped the console attached to the seat’s armrest, his lips moving as he typed. Satisfied, he ran his tongue across his bared teeth then sat back, his eyes alight with a savage greed. “Helm, I’ve sent you a set of coordinates. Lay in a course and get us there as fast as you can.”

Lietenant Turm, the ship’s senior navigation officer, activated her nav panel and went into action at the helm. “Aye, Admiral. Laying in course now.”

“Good.” Norph chuckled under his breath. “Number One, what’s our travel time?”

The first officer, Commander Stanch, ran a hand across his brow as he studied his console. “Admiral, please be advised that those coordinates will take us very close to Earth. And under the terms of our treaty with the Gloabons–”

“Gloabons be damned!” Norph roared. “I don’t give a flek for the knock-kneed coalition and their cozy little treaties. As of now, we fly under the colors of Andel as is our sovereign right. And we’re not headed toward Earth, we’re headed to Earth. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Admiral,” Stanch said, his tone and manner brisk; a professional to the core. “In that case, our journey time will be just under thirteen hours.”

Norph turned in his seat to glare at his first officer. “Is that in Andelian hours or Kreitian hours?”

“Standard Imperial Andelian hours, of course, sir,” Stanch said. “In fact, Admiral, with your permission, I’ll switch ship-wide systems to run solely on Andelian units of measurement with immediate effect.”

“Very good,” Norph said, looking pointedly at the bridge’s central clock, its numbers flashing past rapidly as it registered the miniscule units of time peculiar to the Kreitian system of timekeeping. Ever since the formation of the coalition, the entire fleet had been forced to adopt the nit-picking ways of the Kreitians, and he hated it; hated it with a passion bordering on insanity. And the ship’s central clock, with its integral system for time-stamping every damned thing he did, was a symbol of all that he despised. But all that was about to change. With one command, he would be free. He gestured toward the clock, his hand chopping the air, and said, “Make it slow.”

“Consider it done, Admiral,” Stanch replied. “Sir, may I request the objective of our mission to Earth?”

“Oh, it’s very simple,” Norph replied, relaxing back into his chair and activating the hydraulic footrests. Tipping the seat back, he smiled up at the ceiling, absent-mindedly rubbing his stomach. “We’re going to Earth because I’m hungry. Very hungry indeed.”

—-

I hope you enjoyed that snippet – please leave a comment and let me know!

If you'd like to see the next chapter, it was featured in an earlier post, but please remember that it was very much a work in progress when it was posted. Here it is – Chapter 1

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