The Sleeper - an unfinished first chapter

Darkness was broken by a single, tiny flashing blue
light. There was no sound; at least, none that caught
his attention as out of the ordinary.

He thought for a few moments, trying to recall what
had happened. A gentle tingling rippled along his
limbs and congregated, it seemed, at his nose. Or,
more precisely, that spot on his lip that always
tickled for a split second before he sneezed. Back
and forth he wiggled his nose, willing the insidious
itch to go away. Moments passed, and the sensation

The man sighed in relief, and as the gust of air left
his lungs, they spasmed, forcing intake as the sneeze
took hold of him. Sharp gasp and contracting relief
as his abdomen clenched in such a way that would
normally ball him up, almost into a fetal position.
Or would have, had his legs not been trapped under a
forty centimeter ceiling.

Instead, his torso snapped forward and up, carrying
with it his head, which collided quite forcefully
against a support beam.

Groaning would have been heard throughout the halls of
the merchant vessel Aurora's Flame, had any other
humans (or fraal, weren, or any other number of
sentient aliens) been present.

"Mel?" The electronic voice resounded quietly in his
head. "Are you alright?"

Still rumbling in frustration and pain, Melfo Barine
started cursing in a number of different languages as
he felt around his body for his missing toolbelt.

"I'll take that as a yes." A pause. "Diagnostics
indicate your repair was not quite successful. You've
shorted out two more junctions and disabled cargo
doors three and four."

The cursing became more colorful, with Melfo, or Mel
as he liked to be called, bringing into question the
dubious parentage of the lead engineer in charge of
his ship's last refit.

Fingers finally contacted the lost toolbelt, and Mel
dragged it to him. Digging through assorted tools and
instruments, he dug out the item he was seeking - a
short handlamp. With a click, he illuminated the area
around him.

Measuring only a meter square, the electrical junction
room was nestled between the messhall (which was quite
messy at the moment), the primary head, and the second
cargo bay.

"It's a wonder these damn ships can be repaired at
all," Mel complained.

"Considering," another pause, and Mel knew from
experience that, had the disembodied voice been human,
its owner would be laughing at him, "the monetary
savings of routing all the electrical conduits through
just one room."

"I'd rather not consider it, Melda." The Most
Excellent Library Data Access and Retrieval System was
the brains of the Aurora's Flame. The ship's computer
had been imbued several years ago by a mechalus' idea
of a practical joke - a human-patterned AI. Which did
not want to leave. Melda, as she became known, for it
exhibited traits demonstrated only by females, enjoyed
teasing and nagging Mel with tidbits of financial
trivia. "You've told me often enough how much money
the designers saved when laying out this style of
ship, in just this way. Knowing how much they saved
on just one corner of it really will not make my day
any brighter."

Surveying the tiny chamber, the damage seemed worse
than it was, Mel realized.

Fraal: 1.5 meters tall, they have a thin, graceful
humanoid form. Large eyes look out from a rounded
head accented by wisps of silver, white, or pale
yellow hair. A fraal has pale, almost luminous skin,
and the apperanace of ancient wisdom etched into his

Weren: Armed with rock-hard claws and enormous
strength, weren are 200 kilograms of muscle, fur,
fangs and rage. They retain the distinct second joint
in their limbs, indicative of quadrupedal ancestry.
Walking on their toes, their hands are very pawlike.
Enrobed in dense fur, they tend to have
forward-sitting skulls that end in prominent fangs.

Mechalus: Mechalus, an off-shoot of the human
species, tend to be marginally larger and heavier than
the average human. Their joints are more rigid than
"normal" humans, lending them a symmetrical, angular
apperance. Most distinctively, mechalus can be
identified by the presence of various mechanical
skeletal, muscular, and nervous computer circuitry
systems that parallel and enhance their organic
systems. Marked with bands and veins of circuitry and
metallic flesh, they are a perfect blend of organic
flesh and computer hardware. They often have the
ability to directly interface with computer systems.

This story was originally started to be based upon the Star*Drive campaign of the Alternity sci-fi products by TSR, the folks who brought you the original D&D.
I had tried to clean up the blockiness of it but it just looked like crap, so I left it this way.