Hey guys, I don't post regularly anymore, but I thought if I wanted honest feedback, this'd probably be the more likely place to get it than say, facebook.. So here's my short story entitled "Launch". It's a bit clunky.. But If I'm not gonna be a writer, best find out early eh? If the paragraphing here doesn't work for you, try here:http://challenger78.blogspot.com/ “Opening Airlock in 10…” All around the airlock, men in blueEVA suits started their final checks, looking for leaks, locking helmets into place. The blue glow of their Heads Up Displays lit up the decompression bay. Their bodies moved with the unhurried grace of professionals, who had clearly done this before. Well, most of them did, My own partner seemed to be having problems moving about. I hoped it was just nerves. The rest of the blue dots moved towards the rectangular airlock, while a voice counted down. “5…4… 3..” Outside the window, there were stars, clearer than ever, with no pollution or air to make them shimmer. They stood there, pinpricks of light from millions of miles away. No one glanced out the window as they completed weapons checks. We’d had months to get used to the view. Ahead of me, I could almost pick out Hadley Station, the white, pre-fab buildings catching the raw glare of the sun, bouncing off its golden solar shielding. That station was about to be the first moves in our first Space War. Glancing back, I saw my home for the last day, the ISA shuttle; Destiny. Black tiles gleamed with an illogical sheen, as if someone had been mopping and cleaning them, and as I drifted further away from her, I could see the scars of micrometeorites, one of many hazards she had protected us against. “Decompression cycle complete, Airlocks open” I felt the airlock doors open, the vibrations moving through the metal plating of the deck. One by one, the men, activated their thrusters and hurtled towards the rocks that formed our objective. The deck still vibrating from their departure, I followed suit. “Squad Audiolink Online”.. At first, static filled my helmet, as I activated my own thrusters and headed out into the void. Usually, One would get a dizzying sense of vertigo, as if the ground had fallen away, but months of training had gotten rid of all the queasiness of space flight. The voices of my teammates filled my ears, the tinny chorus somewhat reassuring. One by one they checked in, before the radio was mostly silent. In space, radio transmissions can give away your position as surely as tracer fire. Not a good thought to be having on any mission. “Audio simulation online” A series of lights lit up my arm panel, indicating that my radar and laser targeting system had come online, already detecting the other astronauts and dozens of micrometeorites. Using thrusters, I brought myself towards the nearest set of rocks, watching, and listening for any sound of enemy fire. Normally there is no sound in space, but developments in laser radar and computer-assisted tracking systems had allowed real-time movements of meteorites and bullets to be translated into passable audio simulations. The shrinks back on earth thinks it helps with situational awareness. Thankfully we could still switch it off if we wanted too. An observer would see dozens of flashing blue lights, as we all moved off our shuttle in formation. The same observer would have noticed those lights cut out as momentum carried us towards the tinier specks of light in the distance. In space, the difference between life and death could be in the tiny gaps between thruster bursts. Especially if someone was glancing out the window. Moving in groups of two, the astro-commandos, moved from asteroid to asteroid, lit up only by the light from the thrusters of the man next to them. My partner was a rookie named “Raj”, hindi for King, which is his real last name. He copped a fair bit of shit about it since he came from an upper class family. We both linked up above one of the pre-fab structures that once housed engineering equipment for the arduous task of mining the moon. So far so good. Hovering there like little specks above the boxy white-washed structures, the teams of astro-commandos swiftly maneuvered for entry. Stacking up against one door at a time, we would attach explosive charges to each airlock entry. Raj’s fingers stumbled in attaching the charge. Calmly, giving no hint that he almost actually blown us both away into the depths of space, I guided his hand to the plastic tab marked ADHESIVE. His arm felt stiff, probably because of the suit. “Easy there, Attach the bottom adhesive first, then Arm the charge”. Faceplates being what they are, I couldn’t tell if he was annoyed or relieved that I intervened. I hoped for the latter. Backing up against the wall,I waited for him to pull the ARM tab, when his head exploded. It wasn’t an explosion like you see in those old action flicks from the noughties, but more like the outgassing of a wounded hot-air balloon. The hole is his faceplate let loose globules of blood, like those bubbles in lava-lamps back on earth. Bits of bone and brain matter smeared against my own faceplate. King was clearly dead, but his body would float forever in space. All this happened in the space of a few seconds. Without thinking, I grabbed hold of his body to prevent him from floating away, when I noticed the gaping hole where his faceplate used to be. Shit. Looks like there would another one for the micrometeorites. Tracers flew over my head, looking like little shooting stars, with a point of light, and a nice vapour trail. Guns in space were completely different from your standard firearm. Basically miniature railgun in design, the bullet was twice as large as a .50 cal round on Earth, almost the size of a man’s hand. The SAR-51, or “Potholer”, as it was known by its unlucky victims, accelerates its highly conducive projectile using overlapping electromagnetic fields, to over 2.4 meters per second, about 7 times the speed of sound. Of course, that distinction is lost in space, save for the giant gaping hole it leaves in people. As I pressed against the wall, bright glaring flares of light sprung up here and there, men dying as their microfusion tanks exploded. I thrusted closer to the wall of the pre-fab, pulled the ARM tab myself and waited. A bright yellow glow started around the edge of the blast charge. Unlike the “Frame charges” used back on earth, this did not use det-cord, but a powerful acid, ignited by the incendiary chemical lined along its edges. Had the late Raj set of the incendiary without sticking it to something, we could have been blown off into space. If that weren’t enough, detonations are dangerous in space, sending fragments everywhere at high velocities. While the chances of a “natural” micrometeorite hitting you in space are remote, man made ones are a whole other matter. The charge evaporated in a ball of gaseous vapour , taking the door with it. Tracers still flew outside. After all that effort, I was in. Damn that was exhausting.