Cover of the short story Fading Signal by Frederick Lacroix


A Jackson Garrish Story
By Frederick Lacroix

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Jackson and Jella are offered a job to investigate a distress signal.

For Jella, this military-sponsored contract is a problem, one only compounded by the fact that they have to return to the roaming asteroid field they’ve discovered before.

What will they find in that asteroid field? And how will it impact their future?



“Ha, mister Garrish. Please take a seat.”

The man behind the desk, Stuart, pointed at the only unoccupied seat in front of him. In the other sat what Jackson could only describe as a monster of a man. He was tall, probably around seven feet tall, and wide. His muscular shoulders rippled under his military uniform and the cloth could barely contain his arms. The black skin of his head shone as if he’d just done polishing it and, Jackson judged that the man’s neck was as thick as his own thighs. He approached and sat down, feeling small.

“Jackson Garrish, let me introduce Commander Harold Sunshine,” Stuart said.

Jackson extended his hand, which the commander made disappear into his own for a brief handshake. He didn’t look pleased to be there, to say the least. Jackson got comfortable. If the Magellan-Pell Corporation had some dealings that involved a freelancer and the military, it promised to be interesting.

“Mister Garrish, you’re here today because we’ve received a distress signal from a place that you’ve explored before. A distress signal sent by a small military vessel.”

“Then it brings up two obvious questions; why me? and where?” Garrish asked.

“The where is the easy part. The moving asteroid belt you’ve encountered before. Its traveled some since then, but we’ve kept an eye on it. As to why you, I don’t know. If I had to guess, the military is busy elsewhere. There’s a rebellion brewing in the Katala System, and I’ve heard that most of their personnel was sent there. Could be the reason.”

Commander Sunshine piped up with a nod. His deep voice resonated through the office, even though he was speaking quietly. “It’s part of the reason. The other part is that you’ve experienced the unpredictability of the asteroid belt and you know the terrain better than anyone else.”

“I see. I don’t mean to be difficult, but I don’t want to go back there. And I’m pretty sure Jella feels the same. That place is a death trap.”

“You will be compensated, of course,” Stuart said.

“And I’ve been authorized to send a few contracts here and there your way,” Sunshine said. “We always need equipment or personnel moved quickly. Especially now with the rebellion brewing.”

Jackson looked up at the ceiling. They could use the money, their last few contracts hadn’t been as lucrative as they were expecting, this would be a good boost to their bank account. And the military contracts might prove useful, if not also good for their wallet. He was almost certain Jella was going to refuse, but he still had to talk to her about it. Maybe she was in a good mood today.

“I’ll talk to my business partner,” Garrish said. “If you could forward all the details to my ship, we’ll get back to you in a few hours.”

Stuart nodded. The commander simply got up, shook Stuart’s hand and left the room. He was truly monstrous. Jackson felt like he’d underestimated his height.

“I’ll forward the necessary paperwork immediately,” Stuart said. “Don’t mind Sunshine too much. He’s a hard ass, but he gets friendlier after a while.”

Jackson grunted, shook Stuart’s hand and walked out the room.