This is a spin-off of my sci-fi series, "The Lone Wolf" coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. I took two of the main characters and expanded upon their backgrounds and how they were interconnected.
Wil VanLipsig, the Lone Wolf, is a mercenary, assassin, ex-Marine who was genetically enhanced at the age of 26. Since then, he hasn't aged a day. Matilda DuLac is the eldest daughter of Wil's closest friend. Though he's much older, Wil finds himself falling in love with the beautiful, self-confident teenager. For part 2: http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/
Tortured winds ripped through the mining camp which clung to the inhospitable cliffs and crags of Saltulle. Synonymous with Purgatory in miner’s vocabulary, Saltulle excelled in two things: providing the Mining Guild with ores and gems unavailable almost anywhere else and turning out the most experienced miners in the galaxy.
The hurricane force winds drove the blinding rain in horizontal sheets, stinging exposed skin. At times, the rain turned to sleet which could sheer flesh from bone. Scorching sun, torrential rain and gales were on the surface, the real fun started underground. There dwelt the beasts of the dark.
The beasts were subterranean cave dwellers who long ago had been driven to deep cover by Saltulle’s foul weather and solar flares. Their shaggy coats were a mottled calico of burnt orange, dirty brown and rusty red. Their teeth were nearly nine inches long, with claws of equal length and lethality. Their disposition matched their environment.
Those who encountered these formidable creatures rarely lived to tell about it. The beasts could see in the dark, and track miners through solid rock. Lightning swift attacks made them nearly impossible to kill. The miners had set traps for awhile, only to find them decimated when they checked them. Often as not, they were ambushed by the beasts for they were diabolically clever animals.
It was here that Edmund DuLac and his wife, Mary, had lived for nearly eighteen years. All three of their daughters were born on Saltulle. Matilda was fifteen, Brigette twelve and Amie eight.
Ed went through his morning routine automatically, fixing coffee and waking the girls. Mary hated rising early, but Ed’s day began at 0500 each day. He usually had to drag Matilda up too, but the other girls were early risers like their father. Ed made breakfast while Brigette made lunches for three girls and one miner, who could eat as much as all of them combined. Today was special though. The atmosphere of the small, sturdy house was charged with anticipation. Even Mary and Matilda were up for it was Matilda’s first day of work. Ed had pulled a few strings and gotten her hired as a log runner. Her training was over, now she was a full fledged Miner One, lowest rank in the Galactic Mining Guild.
Log running was a relatively safe job for a teenager, for it merely involved going from one base camp to the next and logging their hourly dig rate. This job was done by comunit most places, but Saltulle’s environment made communication virtually impossible. Special underground lines were in place for extreme emergencies such as a collapsed face or beast attack, but nothing short of life threatening condoned their use.
Matilda felt awkward in her uniform, which consisted of a khaki colored, ill fitting jump suit; heavy, steel tipped boots, safety goggles, hard hat and gloves. The gloves were more like chain mail gauntlets, articulated across the knuckles and reinforced with strips of tanned beast hide. Stronger and more durable than faux leather, they protected the miners’ hands better than metal alone.
Ed gazed at his tall, athletic daughter and grinned approvingly. Her sisters giggled at her and her mother smiled supportively. Matilda tried to smile, but her nervousness prevented it.
“My baby girl, a miner like her old man. I can’t tell you how proud I am, Tilda.” Her father clapped her on the shoulder as he would have a son. “Following in her daddy’s footsteps.” He chuckled.
Breakfast was cleared away and the two younger girls left for school, still giggling. Matilda took her lunch in its insulated thermal box and followed her father to work. She had to check in with the supervisor before starting to work.
The mining supervisor was a man who had known her father over twenty years and Matilda her entire life. His name was Ivan MacHale, but the girls always called him Uncle Mac. Today, her father had warned her repeatedly to call him Supervisor MacHale and not to slip if she knew what was good for her.
Knees shaking, hat and goggles in her hand, she was given her first assignment. Her lunch and portable computer logs packed securely in a heavy floater cycle, she followed a flashing yellow arrow on her console to Mine Base One, about twenty clix away.
The floater cycle handled like a lumbering elephant, but remained stable in all but the most severe weather. Each cycle was equipped with state of the art weather gear so she should have plenty of advance warning before a storm hit.
She was about two clix from Mine Base One when her spine tingled unpleasantly. The hair on her neck rose and her nerves jangled, making her very alert. Curious, she checked her weather report, but saw nothing unusual. It was a calm, clear day on Saltulle.
Absently, she noted her relative position on her map and continued to Mine Base One.
Part 2 is at: http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/