About the Author/Foreword: This story just popped into my head when I first heard about EM-8ER from a friend who also told me about the demise of FireFall. I'm an avid gamer and daydreamer, I always feel things could be better. I wish I could be artistic but all I can do is write. This will be my first published work ever, I've written before but i've only ever been the one to read what I've written. I also wanted to give a shout out to one of my best friends, Oskar, he helped edit/proof-read the story and introduced me to both FireFall and EM-8ER. I'm hoping to do more so let me know in the poll how you feel I did, thanks a bunch and enjoy! Chapter 1 Firefall Earth, it was our home, it was where it all began. We were born, as a race I mean, on that third rock from the sun. It started with use eating meat, the higher caloric content of meat allowed our brains to evolve and from there everything took off; at least that's what the eggheads say. Me, I couldn't care less where we started I was worried about where we were going. Now just so you know, I have no lofty ambitions and I don't mean where we as a race were going; we'd long since left that little rock floating around that class 2 yellow star we call Sol; I mean it more in the immediate sense. We, as in my teammates and I, were careening outside of normal space. Traveling in subspace waiting for a computer, a computer that we knew nothing about aside from how to input coordinates given by the corporation and general maintenance for that system, to spit us out opening a tear in the fabric of time/space. Waiting isn't something I do overly well, that's why I hibernate in cryo, in cryo you don't dream. You're supposed to shut your eyes and open them again, magically transported to 1-2 AU from the destination. I have a neural implant that keeps me partially awake in case I'm needed for an emergency; the team lead has to be ready to go at a moment's notice. The first thing I noticed as I was jarred out of cryo, literally spit out of a glass and steel tube onto the hard deck, was the cloying taste of the E1KtrA, otherwise called Electra. It's mostly electrolytes and a few other chemicals to help the body loosen up from being frozen for however long you'd been asleep. It all healthy and tastes like lemon-lime snot. I hated the stuff. I was definitely stiff from cryo, but the alarm was going off and I had to get moving. "I swear if this is just another asteroid lost in subspace," I mumbled. It does happen, from time to time, if an asteroid gets close to the accretion disk of a black hole but isn't eaten it can be launched into a naturally occurring rip, it's how we used to jump. I stretched for a moment, a yawn took over and I had to wipe my eyes. The skintight jump suit was annoying to run in; it bunched in places that didn't need bunching. The alarm was going off in time with the yellow alert lights, flashing on and off as the 100 decibel klaxon sounded its warning tone. The smooth grey panels of the inner hull charged by as I ran, the hollow sound of my feet pounding against the deck grating reverberated up through my body. I guess I was still stiff from cryo; stopping to unlock the cockpit was a bit difficult. "Yeah that'll leave a bruise, fun," I said as I rubbed my shoulder. Slamming the console in annoyance the door slid open, well mostly, stupid junk ship needed to be ramped up to max speed and directed into a star, or black hole. I shoved hard against the panel and managed to get the doorway hatch open. I glared at the door a moment, grumbled something not nice under my breath and headed for the NavComm read out. I sat down, waved my hand over the display and hit the silence tab on the Aether Keyboard. Leaning my head against the headrest, I enjoyed the brief quiet that follows the silencing of the alarms. Rubbed my temples and wished I had coffee. Reading over the display, I went from sleepy to fully awake, keyed in the emergency wake up, and launch protocols. It wasn't an asteroid lodged in slip. It looks like a small moon or planetoid came into slip and broke apart, staying lodged in subspace as a debris field. My fingers flew through a fast series of commands, my heart was pumping in my ears, and I didn't have much time. I blew out my breath as I went over my options "it'll have to be an emergency exit outta slip." Of course, it isn't that simple, god knows I wish it was, but it's not. I had to go and get the cheat sheet, a list of the right protocols for us pilots who barely can fly space let alone calculate an exit trajectory while technically traveling faster than the speed of light in a pseudo-alternate dimension. Yeah the idea of slip space hurts my head too. I grabbed the emergency kit, pulled out the viewer, and powered it on. Moreover, it did nothing. "Freaking seriously!" I shouted "I swear to god I hate being broke!" I always had to buy second-hand equipment, at least until this job. I went over, grabbed a new charge pack, and frustratedly slammed it into the viewer, tossing the old one somewhere behind me. The alarm came back on. I powered up the viewer, and started keying in the necessary info. Entry vectors for all four axis (yes time is a vector, don't ask me why), length of time in slip, destination vectors, list of all systems along the route and any major anomalies (i.e. a black hole). It seemed to take forever and those rocks, spinning out in the distance, were only getting bigger. I tried to type as fast as I could, had to go back a few times and fix a mistake and finally I got the 4 output vectors we'd need for the exit from slip, one problem was that the nearest exit was in 2 minutes, and we're supposed to impact on the rocks in about 30 seconds. I can force an override but we'll come out early and who knows what'll be on the other side. "Rocks and who knows what hard place," I said with a sigh, "glad to know the universe isn't gonna make this easy for me; I'd hate for it to have to make a huge change." I keyed in the bypass sequence, prepared the ship with all the necessary steps for exit, and punched the go button. panels slapped into place, all along the outside of the hull, engines shifted and moved into exit positions as Ether thrusters prepared to open a tear in space/time. A tear looks exactly like you'd imagine, green/black energy parted and suddenly the void that is subspace opened. In front of the ship, I could see an uncountable amount of small white specks, each either a star or some other celestial body. I was back in space, the ship seeming to crawl through the tear, it's just because I have no visual markers that it seems slow. I know it's stupid but I still have nightmares about that tear close prematurely and cutting the ship in half. I fought down a shiver as we cleared the tear. all the read outs said we were clear, on one hand I was glad we didn't have a rear viewer, watching the tear close would freak me out but on the other hand it'd be nice to know we were in the clear for sure. I sighed and leaned back against the seat. "Well that could have been terrible," I paused for a moment and reached into the emergency kit, found the block of wood I keep stashed in there and knocked on it three times.