My Special Girl
The dream; always the same.
She’s a child again; her mother’s gentle face leaning over hers in the darkness to smile down at her as she’s tucked in for the night, whispering:
“You’re my special girl Aly! I have such hopes for you my wonderful girl. My Alexandra….”
And then she’s dancing, like she used to before, only she’s under water; swaying and twirling and jumping in slow-motion for mama.
“My special girl!”, her mother’s face leans in close again.
The face swirls into shadow, as it always does; the memory obscured by the spans of time and the mind’s sometimes bitter willingness to let go.
With a start and a gasp for air, she awoke; head jerking upright off the counsel in front her with her mother’s name hanging on her lips, as it was after every time.
She rested her elbows on the counsel and ran her hands over her flushed face, rubbing the sleep out of her yes. She exhaled slowly in the hot, stale air of the control box, feeling the sweat bead and run down the nape of her neck before soaking into the already wet neckline of her tank top.
“Aaand we’re back on air” she mumble, humorlessly and to no one.
She sat up, stretching her arms and cracking her neck before drumming her fingers over the foggy glass of the control panel to run a systems check.
“Sleeping on the job…you better get your shit together lady” she murmured, again out loud to herself. She paused momentarily to wipe the dampness from her forehead with the back of her hand.
Gods was it hot out here. Federation Control Tower J-X449 was out in the ass-end of nowhere in Gallente Space. They were a deep-space ping tower, and also a oasis jump-point for fleets; fuel, ammo, supplies….and about 200,000 non-podder crew-members in cryo to be reawaken for active duty as needed.
Their tower was on reserve power; in power-down mode so-to-speak. An eleven member skeleton crew on a rig out in the middle of nowhere was hardly reason to keep a tower running on full steam, so it was down to the bare necessities unless a fleet showed up. That left most electronics down besides coms and scans, and most life systems on emergency mode; hence the jungle temperatures found pretty much everywhere but the cryo silos on this thing.
She wiped more moisture off her brow with her hand, and with another tap, she called up the systems report for the past hour. She already knew nothing exciting could’ve happened while she was catnapping, but the perfectionist inside herself had her going through the motions anyways. She glanced over the readout…as predicted, nothing. No inbound coms, to uplinks, no hails, nothing on direc…
“Hmm.” She muttered. And there it was again, the piece of date that shouldn’t exist. The same thing had popped up every couple days for the past month; a discrepancy, an anomoly. An indiscernible readout on something that couldn’t even really be an object, sitting on the absolute outskirts of the tower’s long-range sensors. She squinted at the data in frustration; data anomalies pissed her off.
She broke away from her concentration when she heard the sound of the tapping of boots on metal coming up the passageway to the control box behind her. She smiled as she guessed who it was based off his walk long before he reached the doorway, as they had all learned to do in the absence of pretty much any privacy that the lack of closed electronic doors entailed.
“Hey babe” she called back over her shoulder as she heard the familiar footsteps reach the box.
“There’s no way humidity is good for the operational box of a control tower” Jacob muttered as he entered wearing a similarly soaked tank top, his civvie pants and bare feet: the now-standard uniform of the tower’s skeleton crew. He glanced at the rough data on Aly’s screen and smirked.
“Ahh….looks like the Doc is stumped again, huh?” He gave her a sarcastic grin before reaching for an H20 pack.
They all sure did enjoy teasing her. Dancing had never panned out, despite her absolute mastery of it as a child. She lacked, as they had told her, “grace”, and that her dancing while perfect was too….what was the word…ah yes, “mechanical”. She grimaced at the word.
She could almost, but never quite remember the look on her mothers face, but she could always remember her voice leaning down and whispering to her as she fell asleep:
“My special girl, there are other plans for you my Aly. Don’t you worry!”
And of course she was smart too; smart enough to get herself through her PhD program in Deep-Space Communications at the top of her class, and then go back for a SECOND one in Cryogenic Psychology. She didn’t hear any peep about being “too mechanical” then.
She shoved him playfully, and he grinned. “It’s probably a lost drone or a random tangent astroid darlin, you know that” he said to her. “There’s no way in hell its big enough to even be a shuttle.”
She frowned again at the data. “Random tangent astroids don’t appear and disappear in the exact same spot on schedule over the course of 5 weeks” she muttered.
Jacob smiled at his wife and snuck a quick kiss as he heard more boot-steps coming down the hall towards them.
“Woop, game-face on darlin, looks like the morning crew is in”. He winked at her lovingly and started up his own work station as the other 9 control crew-members walked in, equally as a flushed and sweaty looking in the heat.
Greetings were mumbled as they went about turning on systems and starting pre-checks.
In the sleepy upstart to the morning, the first ping went unheard as they all engrossed themselves with waking up and getting their stations going.
There it was s second time. Julie, the coms tech, looked up.
“What was that?” She asked quietly. The rest of the room looked up.
They all stopped what they were doing and went silent. Markus walked over to the directional scanner and monitored as the quiet alarm went off again.
“Well thats not right, this thing says there’s something sitting right on top of us” Markus questioned, looking at the readout.
Silence filled the room as the ping of the directional scanner started to go off louder and with more frequency.
“What the hell…?” Jacob half rose from his seat to peer out the tower’s viewing shield, and they all followed suit, squinting into the darkness.
“Guys, I’m telling you this thing is bugged, it says there’s a fleet sitting right up our a-” Markus froze as a single Succubus frigate decloaked less than 500m from the tower’s shields.
“Holy. Shit.” Markus breathed, as suddenly behind the frigate, an entire Sanshas battalion, frigates through Nightmare battleships, seemingly aparated out of thin air.
The room went absolutely pin-drop silent as they froze at the reality literally staring them in the face. Aly felt her heartbeat pound in her ears as her breathing got faster.
“My special girl”. She heard her mothers voice in her mind.
“My special girl…” her mother’s voice again, calming her.
She turned her head, eyes wide, towards the frozen faces of terror next to her in the box, watching a bead of sweat slowly roll down the side of Julie’s jaw.
“Don’t be afraid Alexandra. My special, special girl!”
The voice was changing now, becoming louder, more urgent in the frozen beat of time as she watched the droplet of sweat gracefully let go of the edge of Julie’s face now, and fall to the floor.
The voice changed further still, sounding less and less like her mother, and yet more and more familiar, and more loving every second until she felt her pulse-rate slow, and her body let go.
“And now my special girl, dance!”
The droplet hit the floor with a small splash as time came roaring back to the present in an explosion of sound and action.
The blaring of klaxon horns and alarms started to blast throughout the ship as the crew of the box erupted into chaos and panic. Julie was screaming at someone through a com-link, her face a mask of terror, and Jacob was madly trying to online systems, his face also molded by fear into a parody of its former self.
Aly watched all this happen around her, unfazed, as the voice, surely no longer her mothers, but yet so warming, so understanding, and so gentle, again whispered inside her ear:
“Dance, my special girl!”
And she danced.
Calmly, she pulled the heavy blaster pistol out from under her chair, starting to and then ceasing to wonder or care how it got there, and rose, unblinking, her face in perfect composure. She turned, gracefully and on toe-point, towards the crew member to her right and calmly raised the barrel to the side of his face.
The ricochet of the blast thudded heavily in her shoulder as she spun gently back, twirling as the mans body crumpled to the floor.
“Yes! My girl! My Special Girl!” The voice was so lovely; so true.
She twirled around, gun raised, as the rest of the crew leapt from their stations at the sound of the blast.
“ALY!!! What the FU-” Jacob didn’t get to finish as the gun thundered again in her grip, blowing a hole through the back of his neck and throwing his body backwards.
And then they danced. Her, the center of the piece; the rest of them her chorus, in a miniature underwater ballet. The thundering of the blaster erupted out again, and again, and again in the heat of the control box amidst the screaming and the blood, and the musical voice POUNDING in her very veins! And she was dancing! Dancing with more passion than she’d ever felt in her life! She twirled, and dipped, and pirouetted; her face a perfect mask, her body an absolutely perfect machine.
She was perfect.
Perfectly, she felt felt her free hand close around Julie’s throat as she emptied another blast into Markus as he tried for the door, felling him as she felt a quiet snap with the hand gripping Julie. And one-by-one, she out-danced them all as the music in her limbs and in her heart hit a pounding crescendo note that almost moved her impassive face to tears.
And then, as the music dimmed, she twirled once more through the carnage, putting one last blast through the fleet-com line before whimsically dancing her fingers across the control panel to drop the tower’s shields.
The voice spoke again, and she was filled with her mothers love once again.
“My special girl, I always told you there were other plans for you!”
The voice was in her head as she closed her eyes and smiled, letting the gun drop from her grip to clatter on the floor.
“You are my girl, and there will be a place for you HERE! With US!”
The True Slaves filed into the control box behind her, some moving towards the cryo controls, other to the com-lines, and other simply embraced her.
She watched out the window as a giant leviathan of a ship exited warp outside the tower, and the voice was strong. The voice was true, and the voice was love, inside her head and filling her heart.
“Welcome Alexandra, to MY Nation! My special, special girl!”
This is my submission to Silver’s Second Annual Fiction Contest. Total word count is 1,905. Hope you all enjoy, and feedback is always appreciated!