I don’t usually do this, but here is the newest scene I wrote for my novella. I kind of like it. Please leave feedback since this is a rough draft. And without further ado:
Treena turned away from her conversation with Sam and looked back down at the monitor showing their biometric feeds. Her lips were pale from her unconscious biting, and her hands were wringing at her sides. “How could they have gotten this so wrong? Again! Arrgghhh!” That was when she noticed Hunter’s feeds jump. “Oh God no!” she thought. His beta waves were jumping off the charts, but his theta waves were trying to keep up. They were torturing him! She hoped that he would remember to shut off his pain receptors but from what she was seeing, he wasn’t succeeding. Even she had trouble doing it in a quiet room with no distractions. His blood pressure was peaking again as another wave of pain swept through his body. She tried tapping into his visual feed but got an error message: 404: input path not found. She stared at the screen until the realization hit her. They tore out his eyes! “Oh Godhwgdhgf.” After a few moments, she emptied her stomach again, before backing up and staggering away from the com screen in tears.
A few minutes later, after she had cleaned herself up, she returned to see if there was any chance she could speak with him one last time. With what Sam had said about the gravity mine, she doubted there would be much left of Hunter anyway. She still had to try though; she demanded that of herself. There was no way she could stage a rescue now, but at least she could try and console him. With trepidation at what she might find, she reached out to Hunter with her Mesh.
“Graham, are you there? Hello. If you can hear me, let me know.”
“yfkyglugkj. Lhlhuf. nwheflium.”
“Oh, Graham. Come to me.”
“whalj. Whois? Treni?”
“Yes that’s it. You can do it! Follow my voice. Come on.”
“Tren, izthat yuu? Wher m I? I cnt see.”
“I know sweetie.” Treena shoved down her tears. Those BASTARDS stole your eyes! “You’re being very brave. Can you meet me in VR?”
Treena pumped up the bandwidth and prepared a special environment for their meeting. Something soothing that would bring him back to happier times. She was already waiting there for him as he materialized into the simulation. He was standing on a verdant green pasture. Behind him, a quiet farm house stood on a foundation of quarried red rocks. A pond rested in the middle distance with coy floating lazily near the surface, occasionally picking at flies that ventured too close. It was their house on the outskirts of the Galiana colony on Mars. Everything was perfect, except him.
His image… stuttered. Patches of gray and green circuitry flashed over his body and dribbled down his sides like blood after a battle. He sagged to one side and his limbs were different lengths. His feet melted into the grass, which crawled up to his knees like moss gone wild on far mountain stones. Treena choked down another sob. She shouldn’t have done this. He was already so far gone. She knew his brain was badly damaged and already running over capacity, trying to cope with the constant waves of pain. Hunter reached out and started to walk towards her. He lifted one leg but couldn’t get the other one to move. It stuck in the soil, unwilling to abandon its position as the last connection to this forgotten world. She rushed over to him and covered him in her arms. He rested his spoiled head on her shoulder and breathed a sigh of relief.
“I thogt nevr sea yoo agn. M sory. I dnt tll thm anytg.”
“Shhh shh, no. Don’t worry, you’re doing fine. I just wish it didn’t have to end like this. Remember when we lived here? It was perfect.” They both knew very well that it wasn’t. They met on their first and second tours respectively. When they were finished, they thought they would settle down. After a little over a year of playing house, they both realized they were kidding themselves, thinking they could start a family. That’s not who they were. They were warriors and had to be true to themselves. So they reenlisted and formed their own company, taking only the best people from each field. Those were the good times. Their golden years. Now, after nearly a century of fighting together, everything was in tatters. “I miss you.”
“Imiz yu two. I luvyu. Alws hve.”
“I love you too. I know I didn’t say it enough but…” Something tugged violently at his backbone, ripping him out of her arms; his surprised face boiling with exposed circuitry. He struggled against the force but was too weak to do anything except dig his fingers into the dirt. “No! They’re back-hacking your signal! It’s not fair! We haven’t had enough time yet! Graham!”
“im don luv. Kep th teem saf. I love you. Goodbye.” Hunter’s eyes flashed up at her, and for a single majestic moment, he was whole again. Then his image quickly decomposed into a pixilated mess that slowly sank into the ground.
“Noooo!” Even as the cry broke from her lips, she knew the signal had auto-aborted. Part of Sam’s security measures to keep their base safe from prying eyes. She burned with rage and sadness, torn between crying and blowing something to pieces. Instead, she got up, and walked quietly back to her quarters, keeping her eyes focused straight ahead, not seeing anything, or anyone.
Treena didn’t come out of her room for two weeks after that. Mizuki monitored Hunter’s feed until one day, it cut out altogether. After his blood pressure spiked one last time, there was a massive depressurization which only meant one thing. Greyson had decapitated him. Not only that, but according to the data, the huge pressure loss had been near instantaneous. She had only seen that once before, when a dock worker got stuck in a faulty airlock and the doors closed on his neck, severing his head neatly above the shoulders. The headless body floated away from the doors after the hard vacuum of space ripped all fluid and gas out of the body before freezing the tissues. Even the hard-as-nails Japanese ice-princess had cried when she saw what had happened to Hunter. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Treena for two days, but when she did, she felt a weight lift off her shoulders and jump over to the older women’s. She had expected some sort of reaction but got none. Lost inside herself, Treena was far away, wandering down roads she thought she had closed forever.