Working title. What? I need a working title?

Something a bit different today. Thanks to some creative thinking from an over active imagination I’ve started writing a science fiction story. Some background: It’s now 2158 and humanity has started colonising the stars. It’s also 2 years since the city of Los Angeles disappeared into the Pacific ocean after the largest earthquake ever recorded in history. One of the few survivors from that earthquake has joined the “space marines” with a hope of qualifying for a life on another planet. This excerpt is from approximately a quarter of the way into the story and has Private James Parr meeting his fellow marines for the first time.

James entered the barracks that would be his metaphorical new home for the next 5 years. Training was over, he was now a US Marine, Exo-terrestrial division.

As he walked into the room he looked around. Twelve bunks lined the walls of the room, it wasn’t hard to tell which one was going to be his. As he walked over to his bunk the other marines nodded greeting until he got to a heavy built Lance Corporal with the name Blake across his breast pocket. His skin was as black as ebony and his imposing bulk towered over James until his face cracked open into a huge smile.

“Welcome to the Fifth, Private” he grinned at James. “This will be your new hell away from hell.” The grin never left his face and James found himself instantly warming to the huge man in front of him. Almost at once the rest of the squad stood up and faced the door. James turned to see a woman dressed in a Corporal’s uniform enter the room. Dropping his kit bag straight on his foot he clumsily raised a salute before she gestured for him with a gloved hand to relax.

“At ease Private, I may be in charge of this sorry bunch but I’m still one of you. You’ll forgive me if I don’t shake your hand but something tells me I don’t need your pain.” Looking at the other men and women in the room she turned to leave. “Give him a proper welcome, we leave for the Swarzenegger tomorrow morning.”

James turned to the Lance Corporal. “The Swarzenegger? I thought he was an early 21st Century actor?”

Lance Corporal Blake looked at James with a wry grin on his face. “USS Swarzenegger, the newest starship in the fleet. Well okay, the only starship in the fleet. Named after President Matthew Swarzenegger, the actor’s grandson.” He picked up James’ kitbag and indicated towards his bunk. “Well you’ve met Corporal ‘Psycho’, time for you to meet the rest of us grunts. You can call me ‘Rhino’”

James looked confused for a moment. “Why’s she called Psycho?”

“Well it’s not for her charming bedside manner. Did you notice the gloves she was wearing?” James nodded that he had. “She’s a Psyker, every squad has one. Gives the marines that extra edge.”

This only served to confuse James more. “I’ve never heard of Psykers, what’s so special about them?”

“Oh good lord! Where the fuck have you been? She’s a telepath, you never tested for Latency?” Rhino stopped and looked more closely at James as he shook his head. “Oh shit, Quaker?” James just nodded. “Man, genuinely sorry to hear that. Lost some good friends in L A that day. And yeah, don’t ever shake her hand unless you want a head full of pain.”

Rhino introduced him to the rest of the squad. He was part of a team of four led by Rhino, along with Private ‘Ace’ Jones and Private First Class ‘Scotty’ McKenzie. By the end of the day the nickname ‘Quaker’ had stuck.

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