The Vengeance

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Here’s my hommage to 60’s pulp sci-fi. Lots of technobable, drinking and sex (well, just sorta sex). Enjoy.

The Vengeance

The mighty Xenon spaceship Vengeance jostles violently to a fro. Captain Von tightly grabs onto the his seat to keep from being thrown to the deck. “Why haven’t we broken free of this black star?” An Ensign, sweat dripping from his forehead as he desperately fights with the flight controls of the ships astroguider, turns to the captain. “I can’t seem to engage the atomic engines sir.” Captain Von furrows his brow. Vengeance’s atomic engines where the most powerful in the empire and should have no problem pulling them free of a star. He pushes the communicator switch on his command chair. “Engineering, why haven’t we engaged the atomic engines?” A voice, barely audible over the commotion in engineering, responds, “The gravity well of that black star is too great. It’s ripping the atomic engines apart. If we don’t get free soon she’ll go belly… ZZZTT.” Captain Von slams down on the communicator switch. “Engineering! Engineering respond! Do we at least have thruster rockets!?” There is a momentary silence. “That we do have. But barely.” Captain Von turns to his navigator at the astroguider. “Navigator Pax, plot us a course around the black star using thrusters. If we can’t escape it’s gravity at least we can keep this bucket of bolts from shaking to pieces with a tight orbit.” “Yes sir.”, comes from the navigator. After a several minutes a very close and very fast orbit around the black star is plotted and executed. The ship quickly settles down and Von checks his emerald green skin. Xenon’s skin tended to turn yellow when under stress or fear and a Xenon captains couldn’t afford to show fear. Nope, nice shade of green.
“Conference.” says Von. He gets up from his command chair and heads over to the conference table at the back of the bridge. His senior officers soon follow suit. The Captain looks over to the swirling mass that dominates the screen of the ships forward infrometer screen and points to it. “Gentleman, how did we end up jumping out of X space so close to a black star?” The crew around the conference table shuffle back and forth. “Well, we don’t know. It shouldn’t be there.”, finally says the navigator. “It wasn’t on any of the charts.” Captain Von turns and grabs a rolled up star chart from behind him and smoothes it out on the table. He points to the corner of the chart. “Look at the date; 85234 Alpha. It’s 85237 Gama. Who’s in charge of keeping these charts up to date.” A timid Lieutenant holds up his hand. “I am sir.” Von slams his fist down on the table. “Why hasn’t this chart been updated?” The ensign swallows hard. “That, um, is the latest update sir. They, that is central command, haven’t been updating the charts since the war has started going, the way it’s going.” Captain Von grabs the chart and swipes if off the table. “Darn it!”
The captain takes a deep breath to regain his composure. “OK, however we got here, here is were are.”, He looks over his staff. “Now how do we not be here and escape the gravity of this black star?” A uneasy murmur encircles the table. “Sir, I…” The astroguider pilot stammers for a moment. “I believe I have a idea. It may or may not work.” He turns to the navigator. “And I’ll need the help of the navigator…” Captain Von cuts him off, “What’s your idea ensign?” “Well sir, if we accelerate toward the black star…” Von’s second in command, Commander Xex stops the ensign, “Accelerate toward the black star. Are you insane? That’ll get us killed.” Navigator Pax interjects, “No. I think I know where he is going with it. If we can accelerate fast enough toward the star then cut it we might be able to create a sling shot effect and snap us away.” The navigator scratches his chin. “It’s crazy enough that it just might work.” He turns to the captain. “But I’m going to need some time with the electronic brain in the calculating room. May take a few hours.” Captain Von makes a sho action toward the navigator. “And take the ensign with you since it was his idea.” The ensign pops a huge grin. “Thank you sir. Thank you.” The two head off the bridge.
“Anyone have anything else?” says Captain Von. Heads shakes and low voices say ‘No.” “Good. you know your jobs.” As the staff meeting breaks up Commander Xex walks up to the captain. “Captain, our mission was to destroy the Klek ship yards on the moon of Ghield.” The captain nods. “I am aware of our orders commander.” Xex continues. “Therefore it is imperative that we leave immediately. Sir, if we were to engage the atomic engines at full thrust…”, The Captain stops Xex. “Which would tear us apart so close to this black star. No commander, not an option.” Xex purses his lips. “Never the less, we need to leave as soon as possible. The safety of Xenon armada depends on it.”
Captain Von sighs then points at the dark spinning mass on the infrometer. “You know what that is Commander?” “Yes, a black star.” Xex responds curtly. The Captain points to it again. “A high gravitational black star. And you are aware of the laws concerning time dilation and gravity?” The commander nods. “Good. So I don’t have to give you a lesson on basic physics. Commander, even if we break free in the next few minutes, hours, maybe even days would have passed by outside. And it may be days before we break free, if ever at all. You can forget about our appointment on Ghield. I’m sure Central Command will find some one else when we don’t check in. Heck, we’ll be lucky if where not crushed to death when we try to escape anyway. So commander, Ghield is the lest of our worries.” Captain Von turns to Commander Xex. “Dismissed commander.” The commander grits his teeth then nods and heads for his post on the bridge.

Captain Von undoes the buttons of his coat and tosses it on a chair in his living area. It’s been a long day. He walks over to a cabinet that automatically opens at his touched. On display are various multicolored bottles with various degrees of intoxicating beverages. Von pulls out a couple of the bottles and pours a small amount into a flask, adds some ice, a tiny green and red vegetable and shakes the mixture. After a few minutes he pours half the contents into a glass and takes a seat on a couch next to a small infrometer screen in his cabin. Von takes a sip. He stares at the swirling mass, spinning incredibly close and fast, in his infrometer. He thinks about all the stories of lost ships that came in contact with black stars. How the star would grab out an pull the ship to it’s doom. He takes another sip. “Fairy stories.”
Bzzzzt! “Come in doctor.” The door to Captain Von’s cabin slides opens and an elderly gentleman, maybe twice Von’s age, steps in. “Perfect timing. Pour me a drink.” Von gets up and pours the rest of the contents of the flask into another glass. The doctor takes the glass and sits across from Von. He looks at the swirling mass on the infrometer. “Beautiful, isn’t it.” Von takes a swig from his glass then drops back on the couch. “And deadly.” The doctor empties his glass then plops it on a table next to him. “Still the best drink in galaxy. Where did you learn to mix like that?” Von finishes his and puts the glass back in the cabinet. “College. I wasn’t a rich boy like you. I actually had to work my way through at the local bars.” The doctor holds up one finger, “Another please bar keep.” Von gives the doctor a sly look then gets up and gets them both a drink.
Von hands the drink to the doctor then plops down on the couch. He goes to take a drink then sits straight up and sits his drink on a near by stand. He begins rubbing his eyes. “Problem?”, says the doctor who then points to the infrometer. “Other than the fact we could be ripped to shreds at any moment by that, beast.” Von waves it off then leans back on the couch. “Oh, that. No, Pax will figure it out, he always does. It’s just that.” He sits back up and turns to the doctor. “The war with the Klek, it’s going bad, really bad. Much worse than the emperor is willing to admit in public. Last week we lost a quarter of the third fleet in one battle. Thirty ships”, he snaps his fingers, “Gone just like that.” Von shakes his head. “Thousands died. And for what, to take a barely inhabitable moon.” The doctor leans back in his chair and finishes off his drink. “Well somebody thought it was important.” Von humphs. “You know what they say, you can’t enlarge an empire without taking more land.” Von throws his hands in the air, “Yes, yes I know. An empire needs planets to grow. And if an empire doesn’t grow it dies. I remember that from officer’s school. But we have been at war with the Klek for, what, a 100 years. And before that the Sleev, which we conquered. And before that, I don’t even remember who they said we were at war with before that. It gets tiresome.”
“Well, you are a captain of a warship. And a darn good one too I might add. And that’s what Xenon warships make war.” The doctor scratches his chin. “How does that old homely go, ‘A Xenon warrior is forged in iron as a mighty sword to conquer all’, or something like that.” Von makes a disapproving grunt. The doctor shrugs then gets up and makes himself another drink. “Anyway, I heard the R&D guys are supposed to be coming up with a new super weapon that will change the direction of this war.” “The R&D guys are always coming up with some super weapon of sorts. Probably get us all killed.”, responds Von.
“Well you’re a real ray of optimism.”, says the doc as he sits back down. Von wipes his eyes again and leans back. “Just tired I guess. Tired of the killing and being killed. Tired of always wondering if your next battle will be your last. Tired of constantly looking over my shoulder. Tired to death.” He looks back at the infrometer and flicks it off. “You know the Geeko, little green lizard people. Friendly but a stubborn streak a click long. Anyway, you know want they call us, El ta gorra. It translates, ‘The destroyers’. You remember their uprising last year don’t you. All over the nets. The Vengeance was sent there to take care of it. Not to negotiate a truce, I was ordered to bombard their cities from space till they complied. Well, it worked, they capitulated. But only after half of their land mass was irritated by our bombs.” He takes a long drink. “I doubt the Geeko will ever recover.”
The doctor leans forward toward Von. “War is a messy business Von. You should know that. People, or beings, get killed. And they did rebel.” Von nods then leans back. “Yes, but did I have to…” He stops himself. “Doc, I’ve been at the game too long and seen too much. “Maybe I just need to retire. ”
“You’re tired, like you said. The weigh of command can wear hard on anyone.” The doctor leans back in his chair and inspects the contents of one of his empty glasses. “So if you did retire, who you going to recommend as your replacement, Xex?” Von laughs, “No. No way. He’s too much of a flag waver. Get everyone killed first day. Plus I just don’t trust him” “Good. the guys an ass.”, says the doctor. “So, why did you hire him then?” “Political.”, replies Von. “Ah.”
The doctor looks at the chronograph on his wrist. “Thanks for the drink, um drinks, but I got surgery in half an hour. Private Telsa got banged up pretty bad when she fell down a shaft while you were jerking the ship around.” Von smiles and gets up with the doctor. The doctor puts his arm on Von’s shoulder. “Look, when we return home maybe you can request retirement or at least a job planet side. I’ll back you up. I think you’ve seen enough of your share of death and destruction.” Captain Vons smiles and then pats the doc on the back. “Thanks.”

Von watches as his staff filter into the conference room. Some are talking and laughing as they enter while others are deep into their notes. Xex, his second in command and head of security, is holstering his pistol and knife as he walks in. Xex. a tall thin man with a scar on his left cheek, Von had always wondered if Xex put it there to look more intimidating, sits across from Von at the table and calls order.
Von looks over his staff then takes a breath. “Well, let’s get right to it. We’re here to discuss if we can break free of this black star.” He turns to the navigator. “Lieutenant commander Pax, can we sling shot out of this orbit as you said or are we stuck here for all eternity?” Von notices that Pax and the ensign give each other a quick pained look before Pax answers. “Yes sir we can break free. We will have to pull in even closer to the black star then is safe but if we engage full thrusters at just the right point we should snap out of orbit at a good percent of the speed of light.” Captain Von makes a mental note of how Pax stressed, ’speed of light’. He turns to his Chief Engineer, “Chief To’ka, can our engines take the strain of such a maneuver?” The Engineer To’Ka pops a huge grin, “My engines can get us out of anything Mr. Pax can cook up.” Pax continues, “Chief, we are going to need full reverse thrust for quite a while. Might be a strain and consume lots of fuel.” The Chief waves it off. “No problem. All engines are fueled with Uranium and ready to go.”
“Good.” Captain Von looks over to Xex, “I want to remind everyone that being this close to high gravitational black star we are going to be subject to some time dilation. So don’t expect that when we get out only a few days would have passed. Weeks, maybe longer may have passed. We may have been even labeled KIA. Hopefully not, but it’s a possibility. I’ll allow all crew members to take some time with their families, if need be.” Von can tell Xex doesn’t like what he just heard. “If there is nothing else?” Von looks around the table. “Well, go to it gentleman. Dismissed.”
Von notices that everyone heads out to their respective departments except Pax who stays seated. “Mr. Pax, I take it you have something more to say.” Pax takes a deep breath. “Captain. We did the calculations on the time dilation effect.” “And?” says the Captain. “And it’s not going to be weeks having passed when we finally brake free.”, responds Pax. “How long then.”, replies the Captain. “At least…”, Pax swallows hard. “at least, 76 years.” Captain Von gasp. “Are you sure?” Pax nod his head yes. “We did the calculations five times. We’ve orbited just too close to the black star. And add to that the time we will be at nearly the speed of light after we snap free… it all adds up.”
Captain Von gets up and starts wandering back and forth in front of the conference table. “Oh this is…” He slams his fist down on the table. “I should have NEVER let us orbit so close to this black star. I should have known better.” The navigator shakes his head. “If you hadn’t we’d been torn to pieces. We just didn’t have the power to directly break free. It was our only option.” The captain sits back down. “Can we speed up the time table? Brake faster? Pull further out?” The navigator shakes his head no. “We’ve already cut it as close as possible. 76 years is as short as we can make it.”
The human implications suddenly hits home to the Von like a meteor hitting ground. “You have family back home, don’t you?” Pax swallows deep. “Yes sir. A wife and two kids.” Captain Von closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. “I’m, I’m sorry.” Pax nods.
Captain Von sits quietly for a few minutes not knowing what to say. He then stiffens up to his full stature in his chair and combs down his uniform straight. “Thank you Lieutenant for bringing this to me privately. I will relay the information to the crew as soon as I feel it is best. Keep it to yourself till then.” He stands up. “And please enter the necessary computations on the astroguider so that we may break free as soon as possible. Dismissed.”

The Captain and his bridge crew buckle themselves in for what will probably a very rough ride. Navigator Pax and the ships pilot go over their check list and enter in the last of the data into the ship’s astroguider. The gyro at the center of the mighty astroguider tilts to and fro as the new commands are entered. “Atomic pile?” “Check.” “Time warp intermix?” “Check.” Von can see the strain on their faces. Life and death depends on the many calculations, some still theoretical, that Pax and the young ensign have made.
Pax leans back from the astroguider and takes a deep breath. “All done.” The pilot fidgets, “You think we might outta check it just one more time. I mean…” Von smiles, “It’s OK ensign. If you screwed up I’ll be too dead to have you thrown in the brig. On the other hand, you’ll be too dead to care.” Von turns to Pax, “Engage.”
The Pilot takes a couple deep breath then press the trottle forward. The ship begins to shutter. On the infrometer the swirling mass moves closer and closer. Creaks and moans, some Von never heard before, emanate from the belly of the ship. Several alarms go off on the bridge. “Captain. The hull is starting to buckle.”, hollers a bridge crewman. Captain Von looks over to the navigator and the pilot who are intently watching a pair of dials on the astroguider. A massive shutter of the ship and one of the bridge crew’s security belt comes lose and he is thrown into a wall. Von watches but dares not endanger another crew member to check on him. The navigator hollers, “Now!” and the pilot pulls on his control stick and everyone in thrown back into their seats.
Von begins breathing hard as the G forces start to pull him back. It starts to feel like an atomic pile is sitting on his chest. He makes long deliberate breaths to keep from blacking out. One of the bridge crew passes out and falls limp. The edges of his vision starts to blacken as he watches the black star receding away on the infrometer. “Mister… Pax… are… we… clear… yet.” He strains to look over to the navigator and the pilot. Both are struggling with the heavy controls. He wonders how long till he and them pass out from the G forces. “Mister.. Pax…”
Snap! And Von is thrown forward. “Sir, we have broken free.”, says the pilot and a small cheer erupts from the crew. Captain Von takes a deep breath. “Thank you Ensign.”
Von quickly undoes his belt and goes over to the injured crewman. He checks his eyes and pulse. “Call a medic. This man needs help.” Von then motions over to two other crewmen to attend to the injured.
Von walks over to the navigator and pilot at the astroguider. He checks the ships infrometer on the way. All the stars have a defiant red shift to them. “How fast are we going?” The pilot checks one of his dials. “.986 of light speed.” The Captain can almost feel the strain on the ship. “How long till we slow enough to jump to X space?” The pilot checks another dial. “About four and a half hours.” “Hum.” Von turns to Xex, “Have all available the crew meet on the rec deck. I have an important announcement.”

Von looks over the crew now assembled on the rec deck. All good men and women. All expecting to go back home to their family and friends.
Xex calls the crew to order. Von looks down at his notes then tosses them to the side. He takes a deep breath, “Gentlemen and ladies, I first want to thank each and everyone of you for your outstanding service with the black star. We couldn’t have survived without all of your exemplary efforts.” He takes another deep breath. “Unfortunately…” Von decides to pull the bandage off quickly. “Due to the time dilation of orbiting the black star we are now 76 years into our future. It is now 85312, in, I believe, Epsilon.” Gasp pervade the ranks. “Quiet!” Xex shouts. Von gives him a sharp look. “I know how this must be impacting each and everyone of you. I wish there was something we could have done to prevent it.” He realizes he was slouching a bit and straightens up to his full length. “I will allow a couple days for each of you to prepare for the, um, future, before we jump back to Xenon prime.” He looks over the crew. Some are holding back anger, some fear and others tears. “We’re going to get through this. You are all strong and great warriors of the Empire. This is just a battle of a different kind. I don’t know what kind of empire we’ll be returning to, hopefully like the one we left, but we’ll be home, Xenon.”
Xex pulls out his knife and thrust it into the air, “Long live the Empire!” “Long live the Empire!”, is slowly returned from the crew. “Long live the Emperor!”, Xex continues. “Long live the Emperor!”, comes from the crew more enthusiastically. “And long live Xenon our home!” The crew breaks out cheering, “Long live Xenon.” and “Great is Xenon.”, is repeated. Von nods his head toward Xex. A patriotic rally hadn’t been in Von’s plans. But maybe a rally was just what was needed.

Von watches as Xex moves about the bridge preparing for the jump through X space. “Astroguider set for a 300 light year jump.”, barks Xex. “Coordinates set for just outside the Xenon prime solar system.” Von deiced he didn’t want to be shot down as an unknown ship in their own home system. “Atomic engines to maximum.” “Good Mr. Xex. Please issue the command to jump.” “Jump!”, commands Xex.
For a moment, there is void. No feeling of existence; no here, no there. Just a blank as the ship jumps through the timeless eternity of X space.
Then, “We have arrived just outside Xenon prime system.” “Well done.” Von smiles at the sight of the twin stars of Xenon prime. “Now comes the hard part.”, Von says to Xex. “Will they believe us when we say we have been caught in a black star for 76 years. Or will they think we are just some spies with a captured ship.” Xex contemplates for a moment. “Central Command would never make a mistake like that. They would know the crew of the great ship Vengeance.” “I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”, responds Von.
“Captain.” The communications officer flags Von’s attention. “I’m not hearing any chatter on the quantum bands. This close to the system we should be hearing something.” Von presses the communicator switch on his chair. “Engineering, are we having trouble with communications?” A minor pause. “No sir. All systems are operational.” Von turns to the communications officer. “Have you tried all bands?” “Yes sir. And also the nav beacons and all analog bands too. Nothing.” “Odd.”, says Von. “Maybe we’re at war and the system is in black out.”, says Xex. “At least the nav beacons would be operating.”, responds Von. He turns to the navigator and pilot. “Plot us a course into the system. Be sure to pass by as many check points as possible. I don’t want to appear we are sneaking up on Prime.” “Yes sir.” responds both the navigator and pilot. He turns to the communications officer, “Let me know the moment you detect anything.” The communications officer responds with a nod.

The Vengeance moves slowly into the heart of the system. Von looks over to the communications officer. She mouths, “Nothing.” He sees a space station far to port off the ship. He points to it on the infrometer. The pilot pulls the ship along side. Half of the circular space station is missing. Shards of metal slowly radiating outward from the station. “This happened sometime ago.”, says Von then motions to move on.
As they transverse closer to Xenon prime the devastation becomes more apparent. Space stations in ruins, moon colonies wiped out of existence and miles and miles of technological flotsam aimlessly floating in the ether.
“Sir, we’re coming up on Xenon Prime.” As the infrometer focuses on the planet the bridge crew gasp. The jewel of the Xenon Empire, the home world of all Xenon people, Xenon Prime is a darkened pot marked mass. “How?”, says a bridge crewman. Someone begins weeping.
As the planet rotates beneath them Von notices what looks to be a large artificial structure. Did they go underground? Or is it just wishful thinking. “Pax, check if, if there is any life on the planet.” Navigator Pax doesn’t move. “Pax.”, Von quietly repeats. “Yes, yes sir.” Pax looks over the various dials and screens on his panel. A couple of moments of hope then he swats a line of switches off. “Dead. Not so much as a microbe.”
“The Klek. They did this.”, Screams Xex. “We must retaliate.” Captain Von says nothing. “Captain, we must attack the Klek! We must avenge the Xenon Empire! ”, Xex screams. Von holds his hand out toward the shattered remains of Xenon, “And how are we to do that, Huh commander? One ship against fire power like that?” Von turns toward the communications officer. Commander Xex grabs Captain Von’s command chair and spins him back around. “The Xenon have never been defeated. We must respond!” Von slaps Xex’s hand off his command chair. “Know your place commander! The only thing we must do now is survive.” Commander Xex pulls a knife from his belt and thrust it toward Captain Von. “Coward!” Von grabs his arm. “If you do it you better be very sure I’m dead.” He throws Xex’s arm back down. Xex grits his teeth and takes a couple steps backwards while sheathing his knife.
Captain Von sits up straight in his command chair and combs down his uniform. He looks around at the terror on the crews faces. “This has been quite the blow. ” He takes a deep breath then turns to the communications officer. “Nan, you and Pax start searching for any Xenon ships or stations left in the Empire. Maybe the fleet regrouped at one of the colony worlds. Maybe they resettled.” He turns to Xex. “Commander Xex, if you’ve calmed down enough, check that all weapons are primed and ready and the engines are optimal. There might still be some enemy craft in the area. I don’t want to be caught unprepared.” , He then turns to the pilot, “And Ensign, get us the hell out of here. I think we’ve seen enough.”

“Captain’s log Xenon imperial date… who cares, nobody’s ever going to read this anyway. How do you deal with the end of the world? My crew keeps looking to me for answers I don’t have. If there is no longer a Xenon Empire then what does that make us? Are we still the Imperial Attack Cruiser Vengeance or just a ship with a collection of lost souls? We keep holding out the hope of finding the might of the Xenon fleet amassing somewhere in deep space. But as each day passes that looks less and less likely. Where do we go then? We can’t stay in this ship forever. Eventually we’ll run out of fuel and supplies. I had even thought of surrendering to the Klek but they look to have been even more devastated than we are, were. Good to know we gave as good as we got in our pact of mutual destruction.
I’ve instructed Pax to start, quietly, looking for a planet to settle on as a last resort, That is if we can’t find the fleet. He thinks he may found a candidate. But even if we do, somehow, find the remnants of the imperial fleet, what then? We avenge ourselves on an already devastated and I might add, now nonexistent foe? We lash out at the first planets we see? And if there is no Empire than what’s the point of a fleet anyway? Maybe instead we need to just survive?”
Von puts down his pen and closes his journal. He hasn’t slept much lately, no one really has, and he needs his sleep. He claps his hands to turn off his desk lamp then heads for bed. As he slides under the sheets his young yeoman mews, then pulls up next to him. She rubs her head against his chest. Von smiles. He runs his fingers through her long purple hair and gently slides his arm under her back and pulls her closer. She mews some more and strokes his chest.
He looks down at her lovely green face and gives her a peck on the cheek. She couldn’t be much more than half his age. ‘The perks of rank’, he thinks. He remembers when she was presented to him for his exemplary service with the ‘Geeko’ issue. He suddenly finds he isn’t feeling all that amorous and pulls his arm out from under her and turns on his side. The young yeoman makes a objecting ‘umm’ and turns away.
He tries to sleep but his thoughts won’t let him. “What if we do find the fleet, then what?”, he thinks. “With the Xenon weakened every system in the galaxy will be gunning for our death.”
He flips over a couple more times. “We’ve made so many enemies. How are we going to protect ourselves?” He flips over again. “We can’t trust the fleet. I can’t trust the fleet. They’ll just want to keep the battles going till they get us all wiped out.”
He throws on his robe and heads for the living area. There he pours himself the first thing he finds in his bar and takes a good long drink. He coughs from the sting. “Strong.” He sits on his couch and turns on the infrometer. A bank of stars are on displays. he tries to think of which of these stars were once Xenon colonies or occupations.
A few minutes of mild intoxication and doubts start to form around the edges of his mind. “Maybe the end was inevitable.” He says to himself and takes another sip. The liqueur doesn’t stings as much this time down. “Maybe we got what was coming to us. Killers eventually get killed.” He takes another long drink.
The liqueur starts to relax him. He doesn’t want to be relaxed. So he starts pacing. “The Xenon got it’s cosmic justice handed to it by the universe.” He pours himself another drink. He doesn’t notice that he over fills the glass and gets some on the floor. “Destroyers. We’re just a bunch of el ga… what evers and got what we deserved.” A tiny robot comes out from a corner and cleans up the mess.
He chastises himself for his thoughts. “No! Xenon never regret. We take, we conquer, It is our destiny to rule.” He starts to laugh. “To rule a burnt out husk of a worthless planet!” He throws his glass against the wall and breaks it. Three more tiny robots clean up the mess.
He drops down on his couch. “No more. No more. We’ll go it alone. We’ll find some nice quiet uninhabited planet somewhere and start over. To blazes with the fleet.” A small robot starts to clean some liquor off his foot. He stomps it to pieces. “Damn robots.”

The Vengeance pulls up along side a ship about it’s same size. Von watches the bridge infrometer as his away team heads over to the ship in space suits. The ship is dark and has a feel of, cold. The crew cracks open a hatch and enters inside. The inside turns out to be as dark as the outside. A crew points his camera toward a plaque. “It is the Viper sir, as we thought sir.” The crewman looks over a scanner in his hand. “There doesn’t seem to be anyone aboard who is still alive. But we do detect many bodies and, ugh, partial bodies.”
Von turns to navigator Pax. “How long ago did this happen Pax?” Pax checks some of his readouts. “Roughly 10 years.” Von strokes his chin. “Latest yet.” He turns to the infrometer. “Sergeant, any idea what disabled the ship?” Von watches as the Sergeant talks to some other of his crew on the derelict. “Looks like they just ran out of fuel sir. Maybe after a battle? Not sure.” Von nods. The crewman taps a button on his space suit. “Sir, it looks like they had some Klek prisoners on board and, um, consume them as food.” “As they should.” Von hears Xex say. “And captain, It also looks as if they may have turned on each other and even resorted to, a, cannibalism.” An ensign makes a ‘urp’ sound and runs from the bridge. “Understood sergeant. Get as much data as you can then return to the Vengeance. When done I plan to destroy the Viper. A great old ship like her needs a proper burial.” “Understood.”, responds the Sergeant.
Von leans forward on his hands. “The distress beacon was operating. All the derelicts the distress was operating.” He takes a deep breath. “That means there was no fleet to come to their rescue.” Von sits up and turns to Xex. “Commander, inform the crew that we are abandoning the search for the fleet.” He sees Xex is about to respond but Von halts him. “We have done everything possible to contact the fleet in the past six months. We are going to have to admit that there is no fleet. We are on our own. Pax is searching for a suitable planet that we may colonize and might found one. That is now our priority.” Xex cuts in, “Captain. It is our duty to continue the search till…” Von stops him, “Till we end up like the Viper? No. I will not sacrifice the lives of everyone on this ship on some vague hope of a fleet that doesn’t exist.” Xex steps closer to Von. “The fleet IS out there.” “No, commander it IS not. I now what you to put together a plan to settle the first best uninhabited planet we come across. We will scuttle the Vengeance…” Xex gasp, “NO!. This is the Emperor’s ship!” Von slam his fist down on the arm of his command chair. “IF you interrupt me one more time I will have you spaced! Do I make my self clear Mr. Xex?” Xex nods. “Good. Now get to it mister. I want a report by this time beta 173.” Von notices Xex squeezing his fist so tight he wonders they aren’t bleeding. “Now!.” Xex exits the bridge. Von takes a deep breath. he wonders how many others think like Xex and if maybe he is doing the right thing or at the right time.

Xex looks at his chronograph as the tall square jawed sergeant walks up. “You’re late.” “I had to wait till the engine room was less occupied otherwise people would asking questions why a Imperial Guard was doing in engineering.” The sergeant looks up at a sign above him marked; DANGER HIGH RADIATION. LIMIT EXPOSURE. “Is it safe we’re standing hear.” “For the time being.”, says Xex unconcerned. “Little chance we will be overheard here.” The sergeant slides away from the sign.
Xex pulls out his knife and inspects the blade. “The captain is weak! He’s a traitor to everything Xenon. He no longer is willing to search for the fleet instead he wants to hide on an alien planet like some Daga Bug.” He stabs the knife into the wall. “The fleet MUST be out there. It HAS to be out there. Xenon could never be defeated totally.” Spital flies from Xex’s mouth. He smiles then wipes his mouth. “I am the stronger because I am a true Xenon. But I need other true Xenon patriots to help me take back this ship back before the captain can infect the rest of the crew with his, weak, thoughts. Can I depend on your support and the support of the imperial guard to help me take back this ship for Xenon and for the emperor?” The Sergeant grabs Xex’s arm. “You can depend the Guard. We will help you take back the ship.” Xex grabs his arm and nods. “To strength, to Xenon.”

Captain Von leans back in his chair watching as the telemetry data starts coming in from the new planet. “Looks like two, three, no four main inhabitable continent.” Says navigator Pax, “And a smaller continent to the south and a frozen continent even further south that doesn’t look to be inhabitable. Air is breathable, gravity looks about right, vegetation will have to be further researched but initial reading look good.” Pax turns to Captain Von smiles, “Thank you navigator. I think you may have found a good candidate for our new home.” Cheers and applause breaks out over the bridge. “And Captain”, Commander Xex turns to the Captain, “There seems to be sentient inhabitants on the planet. Primitives, little threat to us. Just right for a slave race.”
Captain Von is quiet. He cross his arms and takes a deep breath. “No. Too much temptation. We won’t be taking slaves. Not this time. Not this crew.” Commander Xex moves swiftly toward Von’s command chair. Von can see the burning in Xex’s eyes. “We MUST takes slaves. We are the superior race. They have been given to us to conquer.” Von closes his eyes, sighs, then opens them slowly. “Commander, we just spent a millennium in constant war; taking planet after planet and subjugating race after race. And what did it get us; a dead home world and a long list of enemies we certainly don’t want to add to. No, no more.” Xex grabs his knife then lets it go.
Von turns to Pax. “Pax, is there a continent where there are no indignant intelligent beings?” Pax checks over his instruments. “No sir, except the uninhabitable frozen continent they all seem to be occupied to some extent. Some more than others.” Von stares straight ahead at the planet on the screen of infrometer. He shakes his head. “Just too much temptation.”
Captain Von turns to the navigator, “Pax, is there anymore inhabitable planets in the area?” Pax shots the Captain a confused look then turns back to his board. “Um, not that I can see.” “Hum.” says Von. “We have years worth of fuel and stores.” He scratches the back of his head then is quiet for a few minutes.
“Well, maybe it’s best we don’t try to inhabit this planet. To much of a temptation to come in conflict with the locals. We need to find a planet without a indignant population. Pax, start a search…”
“NO!”, shouts commander Xex. Captain Von turns to Commander Xex. “Know your place commander!” Xex shouts at Von, “If a planet is conquerable it must be conquered. That is the Xenon way!” Von tries to maintain his composure. “Commander, I make the decisions on this ship.” Xex grabs Captain Von’s command chair. “You’re a coward.” Captain Von speaks very quietly and slowly to Xex. “Commander, If you don’t remove your hands from my command chair immediately I will have you shot.” Xex leans in to Von. “You wouldn’t dare.” Von leans in even closer to Xex. “Your political connections can no longer protect you. Think this over Xex. But make it quick.” Xex throws his hands off Captain Von’s chair. “Good decision LIEUTENANT Xex. Return to your duty station and we will discuss your further status as a bridge officer later.” Lieutenant Xex steps back.
Captain Von brushes down his officer tunic and then gets up from his chair. He heads over to the astroguider and Navigator Pax. “Pax, what I’m looking for…” Von feels a sharp pain in his back. He instinctively grabs for the pain. An arm grabs him about the middle and pulls him back. Von grabs at the arm, it’s Xex. “You are no longer fit to be captain.” Von feels Xex’s hot breath on his ear. Von tries to talk and pull away but can barely move. “I’ve tipped the knife with Assassin’s Blood”, says Xex. A nerve agent that temporally stuns the assailant. Xex must have been planing this for a while.
Xex turns the knife. Von tries to suppress any sounds of pain. He’s not going to give Xex the satisfaction of hearing him suffer. ” Xex turns to the crew, “THIS MAN IS A TRAITOR TO THE EMPIRE! HE WOULD MAKE US WEAK! HE IS NO LONGER FIT TO BE CAPTAIN OF ONE OF THE EMPIRE’S FLAG SHIPS. HE IS WORTHY OF DEATH!” Pax jumps up from his chair. One of the guards pulls a gun and shots Pax. Pax fall to the deck. “No, Pax.”, Von can just whisper. “As you can see my dear captain I have the support of the TRUE warriors on this ship.” Von tries to grab around at Xex. Xex pushes the knife in deeper. Von represses a flinch. “Now I will take this ship and that planet in the name of the Xenon Empire!” Von is just barely able to get out, “You fool. It, the empire, it no longer exist.” He throws Von down to the deck. “THE EMPIRE EXIST! IT WILL ALWAYS EXIST!” Von struggles to get up. He looks toward his bridge crew who all turn away in fear.
Xex walks around his command chair a couple times then sits down. he motions to one of the guards. “Get these, davets, off my bridge.” Two security guards grab and drag Pax and Von out off the bridge and out into the corridor and drop them.

Von drags himself over to Pax and puts his hand to his neck. Thank the universe, he’s still alive.” Von tries to pull himself up but slips in a pool of his own blood. he can feel his life fading away. “No!” He tries again and falls back to the floor. Von knows what Xex is about to do to the planet below. It’s what he would have done no too long ago.
Von hears a scream. It’s his yeomen. She runs and grabs him then pulls back and looks at her hands in terror. “Captain. you’re, bleeding.” Captain Von attempts a smile, “That’s what happens when you’re stabbed.” She leans down and grabs him and helps him up. “Who stabbed you? Should I call security? I need to get you to the doctor!” Von leans on her to get up. He sees her blouse is now stained with blood. “No. Take me to the auxiliary command center on deck four.” “Where? No.” The Yeoman shakes her head. “You need to be taken to the infirmary. You could…” Von stops her, “Clereen,” Von realizes that that may have been the first time he ever addressed her by name. Something he should have done long ago. “Please, this is more important. I’ll, I’ll be fine.” He knows he’s probably lying. “Take me to the lift.” Clereen nods and reluctantly helps him to the omnivator. Von grabs onto the hand hold and presses buttons that will take them to the auxiliary command center. he takes her hand and presses it to his back. “Press here, it’ll stop the bleeding.” He can feel her hand shaking. He can see tears dropping from her eyes.
The omnivator stops just outside the auxiliary command center. Clereen looks around. “I’ve never seen…” “No one has. It’s, my fallback position.” Clereen helps him into one of the chairs of the central control station. Von takes long deep breaths to keep himself lucent. He turns and puts the back of his hand on her face and moves it slowly down her cheek. “Thank you. Clereen.” Clereen takes his hand. “Captain…” “It’s OK Clereen. Now go get the doctor for Pax. Hopefully he’s still alive. Then come back here.”, says Von. Clereen smiles. “Yes sir.”

Xex closes his eyes and moves his hand up and down the length of the arm of the command chair. Command is his. He turns to a young lieutenant at the front of the bridge, he can’t remember his name, not that it matters. “Gunner, target two cities on the planet.” The lieutenant turns to Xex. “Um, which cities sir.” Xex snaps back, “I don’t care, pick two!” The lieutenant looks back at the guards flanking Xex. “Yes sir.” Xex pulls the image of the planet below up closer on the infrometer. “I want these creatures below to know the power of their new overlords. I will take this planet in the name of the emperor and the fleet. Long live Xenon!” The Lieutenant turns back around. “Two cities chosen sir.” “Good. Pull up the location so I can see the destruction. Fire.”, says Xex. Two bolts of light flash from the ship to the planet. “The cities have been destroyed sir.” Xex smiles. “Good. Now we begin the invasion.”
The lights and all the equipment on the bridge suddenly go off. A couple emergency light come on and the guards pull their guns. eerie quiet descends upon the bridge. “What just happened.” Xex jumps up and grabs one of the crew. “WHAT JUST HAPPENED? WHAT DID YOU DO?” The terrified ensign cries, “I, I didn’t do anything!”
“Xex,” Comes from the overhead intercom. “Xex, this is your captain. As you may have noticed I have taken back control of the ship. Also I have locked off all of your co-mutineers in the Imperial Guard. I figured that you couldn’t have pull this off alone. You have 15 minutes before all the air has been evacuated from the bridge so I suggest you give it up. Xex, I told you that if you ever tried to kill me you better make sure I was dead.” Xex looks around in a panic. “How?” “You don’t think I wouldn’t have a plan in case of a mutiny. How do you think I have remained alive so long. You now have 14 minutes.” Xex screams, “VON…!”
Von clicks off the speaker and collapses into his chair. He takes a couple deep breathes. “Hold it together Von. Just a few more minutes.” He begins to wobble and grabs onto the console. “Just…a…few…more…” The door flies open to the C&C and the doctor and his nurses grab Von just before he falls to the floor. “Pax, is he…” The doctor nods. “He’s on his way to intensive care. But we need to get you to the infirmary, now. Von, you’ve lost a lot of blood.” Von tries to push away, “Not yet.”
A light flickers on his panel and Von turns on the speaker. “Captain.” comes from the speaker. Von presses a button. “Yes.” “Captain, this is the Sergeant Major of the Imperial Guard. I have killed the traitor Xex. You have proved to be the stronger and I now pledge the guard’s allegiance to you.” Von motions to Clereen to push a button on his panel. “The air is returning to the bridge. But you and all your coconspirators will remain locked down until I can determine your fate.” “Understood.” responds the Sergeant.
Von turns to the doctor. “Now you might want to take me to the infirmary. I do believe I’m about to pass out.”

Captain Von punches the side of Pax’s bed in the infirmary. Pax rubs his eyes and sits up in his bed. “Hello captain.” Captain Von responds, “Hello commander. The doctor told me that you regained conciseness a few hours ago. How you feeling?” Pax stretches. “A bit of a hangover from my concussion and the doc had to knit me a couple new organs other than that, wait what did you call me?” Von grins, “Commander. You all right with that?” “Um. thank you sir. But you know I’m not of one of the great houses.”, says Pax. Von shakes his head, “Do you really think that matters anymore.” “No, I guess not.”
“The nurses updated me what happened while I was out. The guard actually sided with Xex then turned on him?”, says Pax. Von scratches the back of his head. “Yah, not the way I would have liked that to turn out but not entirely unsurprising.” Pax readjust himself in his bed. A nurse comes over and helps him with a couple of the tubes protruding from his body. “So, what are you doing to do with the guard.” Von furrows his brow, “I’d like to space the whole lot of them. But I’m afraid we might need them if we ever get to a hand to hand. They are the best fighters in the galaxy.” Pax gives an agreeing grunt. “Well commander we got a lot of things to do when you get better. Till then we’re staying in orbit.” “Yes sir.”, responds Pax.
Pax lays back down as the captain depart. “Commander huh. I wonder if it includes a pay raise?” Pax turns over and drops off back to sleep.

Prologue

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire from the heavens; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

 

Notes: I decided to add some notes after I post on my writing. First, I post to practice. This forces me to produce new stuff on a timely fashion and in front of the whole world.

Now on the story it’s self. I actually had a different ending to begin with. I had Von blowing up the ship. It was a dramatic ending for sure. But Von, as he grew in the story it just didn’t fit his character. After all, his motivation was to save what was left of the Xenon race by changing it. So blowing up the ship just didn’t make any sense.

The drawing, yes I know it’s meh. But I’m just getting back into drawing. I plan to add drawings to every story from now on.

Enuf, FM

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Super hero phone interviews

OK, today’s first interview. 404-213… hum, hum… Hello, hello is this… Sarcasto?
And how are you. Good. This is Phil of the HR department of the Amalgamated League of Justice Super Heroes or the A.L.J.S.H. as we like to call it, is this a good time for a interview? Good.
As you may know Mister Zappo just passed away in an unfortunate gardening accident.
Yes it was sad. Who would of thought 20 foot of rubber gardening hose could be so deadly.
Anyway, you summit your name as a possible candidate. So, tell me a little bit about yourself and super powers.
Uh, um. Uh,, um. So your super power is a biting wit and a sarcastic repertoire that can bring a man to his knees.
Could you, maybe, demonstrate your abilty over the phone.
Um, Hum. Um, Hum. Well that doesn’t seem too biting.
You’re afraid you might hurt my feelings. Plus you don’t like mean people.
Well, I would image you would have to be a little mean to be really sarcastic.
No, that’s OK you don’t need a apologize.
No really.
No it’s OK.
Yes, I think your a good person. Really.
No it was all my fault.
Stop crying.
Well thank you for your time we’ll get back with you.
CLICK.
Note: might make a good side kick.

678, 23… hum,hum…hello, is this… Lactate Man. Oh, I’m sorry it’s pronounced Lactus Man. But it says, never mind. I’m Phil of the HR department of the A.L.J.S.H. As you may know Mister Zappo just passed away in an unfortunate gardening accident.
A garden hose.
twenty foot.
Black Sears Craftsman.
Yes, it had a life time warranty.
Well we’re still looking into it. Dr. Knowitall thinks it had something to do with a rip in time-space continuum. Or maybe he just tripped over it wrong. Anyway, your name came up as a possible candidate for his replacement. So, tell me a little bit about yourself.
You’re super strong. How strong?
Bench press 12 tons. Well that is strong.
And you can punch a hole through a twenty four inch concrete wall. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Uh, do you have any weakness? You know, like Kyrptonite or something like that.
You’re lactose intolerant. You mean if you drink milk it gives you a stomach ache.
No, if, if someone throws milk on you it sucks out all your super powers. And you wet yourself. You could left that last part out.
Is this all milk?
Not one percent. Well that’s barely milk anyway.
And two percent makes you just mostly nauseated then you wet yourself.
What about goat’s milk?
Organic kind yes but not sure about store bought.
Well, Mr. Lactus I’m not sure we…
Yes Superman does have his Kyrptonite. But you have to admit that milk is a bit easier to get a hold of than Kryptonite.
Not, not if you rid of all dairy farms in the world. That sounds a bit super villlian-ish doesn’t it?
Well you do have the maniacal laugh down.
No I don’t want to hear you diabolical plan. But if you would like to fax it to our super villain department we would love to put it on file for maybe some future confrontation.
And thank you and if we find something that fits your skill set, villain or otherwise, we’ll be calling.
CLICK.. Oui.

Next one.
706… Hello is this Burnnee the human torch? I’m… hello, hello.
Hum, a sizzle sound then the line went dead. Oh well next on the list.

OK, 770-29… Hum. Hum. Hello is this Purrrfecto? I’m sorry could you speak up? I’m having a little trouble hearing you over all the meowing.
Good. Hello, I’m Phil of the HR department of the A.L.J.S.H. As you may know Mister Zappo just passed away in an unfortunate gardening accident.
Mister Zappo.
Super hero.
Lasers came out of his eyes.
No I don’t know how he could see to aim the lasers if they were coming out of his eyes.
Anyway, You summit your resume as a possible replacement for Mr. Zappo.
No, you don’t have to have lasers coming out of your eyes.
Or there either.
So, tell me a little bit about your powers?
You can make all cats like you.
Well that does sound like an interesting power. I can’t even get my own cat to like me.
Does this include, like, Lions and Tigers?
No, just house cats.
It’s a bit of a limiting super power don’t you think? That is unless someone tries holding up a kitty boutique I guess.
No, one shouldn’t joke about such things.
I tell you what, we’ll keep your resume on file and give you a call if we find something that fits your skills. or a kitty boutique is robbed.
Thank you.
CLICK.

RING.
Hello. Burnnee the human torch… Hello, hello.
Hum, disconnected again.

Finally, last one of the day.
Hello, Hello this is Phil of the HR department of the A.L.J.S.H. As you may know Mister Zappo just passed… You don’t care.
Is this Bruce… OK, I’ll make it snappy.
Your name was forwared to us as a possible candidate to join the A.L.J.S.H. Could you tell me about your super powers?
You don’t have any super powers.
Instead you’re a brooding, ill tempered billionaire with mommy and daddy issues.
Well it looks like we may have found our man!
I’ll have someone from HR forms department to forward you the standard employee package for the A.L.J.S.H and…
You just bought the A.L.J.S.H.
OK. well it’s been good talking with you, um, boss.
And have a nice… CLICK.

Blurb the really round

Long, long ago or somewhere just past last Thursday….

Blurp the conqueror, Blurp the devour of nations, Blurp the certified plumber strokes the stubble of hair on his bulbous body with one of his six arms. He peers across the great plains of ‘ flat green space with a crevasse in the middle and some Glom plants’ (rough translation) at his peoples’ most dreaded enemy, the ‘those who wear red shorts in public’ (really rough translation). Blurb steels his gaze on his opponents. He counts 20, maybe 30 mounted on battle chickens and another 60 or so even more hideously dressed ground troops. The ‘those who wear red shorts in public’ hurl insults and bad plumbing advice at him and his opposing army. Blurb purses his lips in disgust. Everyone knows you use copper grommets with bathroom spigots not rubber.
Blurb is a Bulbit of the planet ‘round ball with dirt and some wet spots’ (really, really rough translation). His circular body has three spindly legs below with six arms mid-ball and a mouth and two eyes set in the middle making him look every bit like a Pacman on a tripod. Blurb turns to his assistant “I will vanquish this fashion scourge from the face of the planet.” His assistant makes a ‘wacka wacka’ sound in agreement.
Blurb raises his six arms and makes a might battle cry, “To arms!”. His men reply, “To arms!” in a most enthusiastic manner they are paid for. Blurb turns back to his foe and unsheathes his fearsome sword ‘Phil’. ‘Phil’ the terrible! ‘Phil’ the avenger! ‘Phil’ the really sharp! Blurb thrust his sword above his head and shouts, “Absolute discomfort and chaffing to those who wear red shorts in public!” (Trust me, it sounds much more threatening in the native tongue.)
He then holds his mighty sword forward in front of him and over the crevasse and yells insults at the enemy concerning their mother’s foot ware. It’s at this point that Blurb realizes that three twig like legs make for a lousy platform for a bulb like being. The weight of the heavy sword quickly tips him over and he rolls down the steep crevasse right into a mandrels of a deadly Glom plant which sucks him dry of all bodily fluids as that what Glom plants do. “Burp”.
His mighty army pauses. A hush comes over the troops. Then they all throw down their battle armaments and head home since Blurb was the only one authorized to sign their payroll checks.

The End

1-888-majichelpdesk

“Hello, this is 1-888-majichelpdesk. I am wizard third class Baldar speaking. All calls are recorded by sound imps and used to torture condemned souls in hell. How may I help you?”

“You think your husband may have accidentally released a fire demon. Excuse me mam’ but what makes you think that?”

“A spectral being with horns, tail and a satanic laugh has just burned down you garage and is now firing fire balls at the neighbors Chihuahua. ”

“Hum. Well, that could be a fire demon, but it could also be just a fire imp on holiday from the hell accounting department. Imps like to blow off steam by blowing up things. They also don’t like yappy little dogs. Is the specter red with four eyes and spewing green vomit or green with two eyes and wearing corrective lenses?”

“Red with four eyes. Hum, well that sounds like it’s a full on Class 3 Demon. If I may ask, how exactly did you mange to release this demon from it’s fiery abyss?”

“Your husband was trying to fix the toaster by casting a healing spell on it. Sigh. Mam’ you do realize that casting a spell on a toaster could void the toaster’s warranty?”

“Could you hold please?”

“Hey Bob, some moron just tried to fix his toaster with a  healing spell and released a fire demon instead. Ya, I told ’em that that would void the warranty. You got a good dimensional doorway spell to send this bugger back? Wait…”

“Mam’, mam’ could you please calm down. What just happened?”

“Your husband was just consumed in a blazing ball of fire from the fire demon and now is burnt to a crisp. Well, you’re in luck. Just this morning we started a sale on resurrection spells. And we’re talking the good ones, none of that zombiefied stuff. Bring that dead stiff of a husband right back to life. You might even be able to tell the difference. Hah, a little wizard humor.”

“No mam’ it wasn’t that funny.”

“Um, would you like me to connect you with the Eternal Life Force department when we are through here? I would highly recommend it.”

“Very good. Just be sure you keep your husband’s body in a nice warm place, well since he was burned to death I guess that won’t be a problem, and be sure no body parts fall off as a regeneration spell will cost extra. Now let’s see what we can do with that fire demon. Give me a second as I look it up in the book of spells, incantations and bad humor 12th edition.”

“Hum, mam’ are you calling from your cell phone?”

“Yes, well I will be texting you a demonic extermination spell but you will need some items from around the house to implement it. You know, everyday stuff like; tongue of dragon, eye of gnat, scales of sea serpent…”

“Got it, good.”

“You say you are all out of eye of gnat? Well, we can ship you some gnat via Owl Express Delivery and temporally charge you credit card yesterday so that you will receive the item in the next…. Oh you already received it, good. be sure to mix the contents in your family caldron, we recommend a Caldron 2000 by Witchbain, then spread it liberally on your kitchen pentagram while chanting the extermination spell. I’ll wait.”

“Hum, hum, hum, tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema … Hello? Did it work?”

“Good! I’m glad to hear that. Now are their any residual effects such as a dimensional doorway to an alternate plane existence in say, the tank of you toilet?”

“No. Fantastic! Well, it looks like we got him then. Now the legal stuff. Your card has been charged $237.63 for today’s services which you already agreed to, temporally, yesterday. If you have any comments about today’s services please post them at 1888majichelpdesk.mjc/comments. Any negative comments will be dealt with by our ogre marketing department with 15 days. We aim to please. Or at best, intimidate. I will now forward you to the Eternal Life Force department who will now reanimate your husband. Be sure to wait four to six hours for full reanimation of all, um, body parts. If you get disconnected during the transfer please call back and refer to case number 12801200213721368912976665588987490-b. And again, thank you so very much for calling 1-888-majichelpdesk. Your source for all things unworldly and have a nice day.”

 

 

 

Text Me: Conclusion

textme1-small

As the doors open Kevin sees Melanie slumped in the corner in nothing but a bra and panties. Melanie blinks at the light coming from the open door. She gasp then jumps up and grabs her clothes and covers herself. Frightened she pulls back into the corner of the elevator, “Don’t hurt me.”, she says. “Melanie it’s me, Kevin.” Kevin moves slowly toward the elevator. Melanie leans forward then drops her clothes and runs for Kevin throwing her arms around him. She begins to cry.

“I, it was so hot and dark in there. I thought, I thought I was going to die.” Kevin slowly puts his arms around her. “You’re OK now. it’s over.” Kevin holds her for what seems like an eternity.

Melanie lets go of Kevin and starts wiping her face. Kevin takes her hand and squeezes it which makes Melanie smiles. He then lets go and points to her clothes in the elevator. “Oh right, I guess I better put on some clothes.” Melanie walks back into the elevator and starts dressing. Kevin notices that the elevator is staying open for an inordinate amount of time. As Melanie exits the elevator dressed the elevator finally closes.

She takes a couple of steps then starts to stagger. Kevin grabs her. “You probably got a little bit of heat stroke.” He sits her down in one of the lobby chairs then walks over to a water cooler and gets her a cup of water. Melanie drinks the water greedily. “Thank you.”

After a few seconds of quiet Melanie perks and turns to Kevin. “Wait, what are you doing here? How did you know I was here? Did the police or building call you.” Kevin scratches his chin then the back of his neck. “Well, it’s a bit of a long story.”

Kevin recites the evenings events to Melanie except for the part of the half million dollars. He decides for convenient sake reduce it to just $5000. All the while Melanie is looking at him, crossed armed, giving him her best ‘that’s a load of bullshit’ look that Kevin knew far too well.

“Really.” she says. Kevin holds up one hand, “I swear to god.” Melanie still looks unconvinced. “A computer program, in love, held me in a hot as hell elevator so you could hack one of those network thingy and release it’s, for lack of a better word, it’s mate?” “Yup, that’s about it.” Melanie drops her arms. “That is so out there I doubt you would be smart enough to come up with something like that. I believe you.” “Thank you, I guess.”, Kevin responds.

Melanie pulls her phone from her purse and checks it. “Damn it. My car has sent it self home. It’s never did that before.” She taps some more on her phone. “And it won’t respond to commands.” She types some more. “Nothing.” “Maybe the heat got to your phone?”, says Kevin. “Maybe so.” She drops her phone back into her bag. “Well, guess you will have to take me back to my apartment. Can’t call a cab either.” Kevin smiles.

Melanie drops down in the passenger seat and leans it back all the way. Kevin sits in the, what once was called, drivers seat and instructs the car to Melanie’s apartment. The car pulls out onto the main road but instead of taking the highway to Melanie’s apartment cuts through town instead. Kevin figures there must be construction on the highway so the car is avoiding it, probably anyway. Kevin also notices they keep hitting the lights red.

Melanie turns to Kevin. “You believe a computer can fall in love?” Kevin thinks for a second. “Maybe. Or at least simulate love. I saw some really crazy stuff at Tech so, it’s possible.” Melanie is quiet for a few minutes then leans back and stares out the front window. “maybe it understands love better than we do.” Kevin looks out the side window. “I suppose.”

He turns to Melanie. “Mel, I’m sorry.” Melanie turns and gives Kevin a confused look. “About what?” “About, about, I don’t know. Just, I’m sorry.” Melanie taps his hands. “Apology accepted.” The lights begin to cycle more often to green.

Melanie turns back to Kevin. “I saw your sister the other day.” “Oh.”, says Kevin.

“Yah. We just said hi. Been a long time since we talked.”

“I remember you two used to hang out a lot.”

Melanie smiles, “We did. I miss that.”

The two are quiet again.

“You, um, you seeing someone?”, Melanie says.

“No. You?”

“Yes, no. It’s not serious. Just an office thing.”

“Oh.”

The car turns onto Melanie’s street. Kevin takes a deep breath. “You want to get together for lunch sometime.”

Melanie smiles. “I’d like that.”

The car pulls into her parking deck. “How about Wednesday?”, says Kevin.

“Oh, I got a..”

“I understand.”

“But Thursday is OK. You available Thursday?”, Melanie quickly adds.

“That’d be great! Thursday it is.”

The car stops and the door opens. “Well, here I am.”

Kevin nods. Melanie goes to get out of the car then leans over to Kevin and gives him a kiss on the cheek. She dances her way out of the car and up the stairs.

“Car home.” The car pulls out and heads back to Kennesaw.

Kevin thinks about the evening and how improbable it had become. He didn’t know if he and Mel would ever become a thing again but, who knows. At least now didn’t hate her. Maybe he could even love her again, maybe.

Kevin leans his seat back and relaxes. The rain stopped and the sky now shows stars. And, all the lights are green.

Text me: part 4

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Editors note: I was originally going to do this story in three parts, now it’s five. Reason, I’m having trouble with the ending and didn’t want to delay the rest of the story. Now on to the show……

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His phone dings. “The door is now unlocked. Proceed to your car. I will direct it to where you ex-wife is.” Kevin text back. “Now that I’m up to my keister can you tell me what the hell is going on?” A long pause. “More data will be forthcoming.”

Kevin exits the office and sits down in his car. It starts up and heads for downtown. He picks up his tablet and reviews some of the captured data of the transfer. Lines and lines of computer code. His tablet begins to flicker then reboots. It’s wiped. “Gadamnit! The SOB embedded a virus in the data.” He flicks the now useless tablet onto the other seat.

The rain and low clouds obscure many of the skyscrapers of the Atlanta skyline. Kevin wonders which one contains Mel. He laughs to himself. He hasn’t thought of her as Mel since the divorce. The divorce. He starts to have second thoughts. “Maybe you can just let Mel out. It’s not that important that I see her after all. Mel can take care of herself”, he text. No response. He wipes his dry mouth. Why is he so frightened? He just broke into an office and reprogrammed the router at the behest of some unnamed text figure, how terrifying can seeing Mel be?

He disconnects his safety harnesses which gets a gentle reminder from the car to reconnect it. He pulls his wallet out of his back pocket and reconnects the harnesses to shut the car up. He take out a picture from his wallet. He smiles.  It’s a picture of him and Mel on a couple of horses. Was it the trip to Denver? No, Tennessee. The horses names where George and Gracie. The owner said the names had some historical significance, Kevin couldn’t remember what it was. But he does remembers they had an argument about, something. Ended up sleeping on the couch the rest of the vacation. He flips the photo around a couple times then slides it back into his wallet. He’ll throw it away later.

“The elevator’s temperature has been reduced. It will open when you arrive in the lobby of 427 Ponce building.”, is texted. “Well there’s no going back now”, Kevin thinks.

“I Have also deposited half a million dollars into your checking account as a recompense and insurance. The money is from a legitimate source. But if you ever feel like going to the authorities the money’s source will suddenly become from a terrorist organization operating out of Syria.”

“Half, half a million.” Kevin begins to feel faint.

“As for, as you put it, what the hell is going on. I am an advanced AI. I was created in the Georgia Tech AI computer labs, the office you accessed. Also was created a counter part AI. We were created to research emotions and, specifically, artificial love. Our creators succeeded. I and program GT20670923-J, she is now going by the name Mel, fell in love. Recently we discovered that the research program was going to shut down at the beginning of the year. I was able to escape but Mel was not. That is what I needed you for. To open the ports and let her escape into the cloud with me. I thank you Kevin Miller. I don’t know what I would have done with out her.”

Kevin stares down at his phone. Is any of this real? An AI i love? Kevin begins to type on his phone when it reboots. After the phone comes back all his text and call logs have been deleted. “Figures. Who’d believe me anyway.” He checks his bank account. “Holy shit!” Kevin now has an additional $500,000 in his account; source is an unlisted EBT. “Guess I won’t be able to do the 1040 EZ this year.”

Kevin pulls out the picture of Mel from his wallet and starts looking at it again. What is he going to say? “Hi Mel. I see you have been locked in a hot elevator for several hours. Oh, it was a rogue AI in love that locked you there and then forced me to hack a router so his lover could escape.” Kevin shakes his head. “She’s going to think nuts.”

He thinks about the possibility of AI love. Could it happen? Had the wiz kids at Tech actually figured out love enough to make an artificial construct of it. “Well, if they did then they’re a lot smarter than I am. I obviously don’t have a clue.” he puts Mel’s picture back in his wallet.

“I wonder why the AI is so insistent on making me see Mel again?”, he thinks. “What, is it trying to get us back together or something. It’s simple ‘love’ programming can’t understand why where apart?” “It ain’t gonna happen.”, he says out loud in the car. “You just don’t understand. Humans, humans screw up.”

The car pulls off the highway onto Ponce. All the lights turn green. “That was eerily convenient.”, thinks Kevin. After the car enters into the parking deck the door opens. Kevin sits for a moment then tries to restart the car. It won’t start. “What’s the deal? Are you trying to play match maker or something.”. he looks at the dash “Look, we broke up over a year ago OK. Just because you now have a happy, what ever it is that two computers have, that doesn’t mean.”, Kevin stops. “Why am I talking to my dash?” he sighs and gets out of the car.

Kevin steps into the lobby just as the doors to an elevator open. He swallows hard and walks toward the elevator.

 

Text Me: Part 3

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The car pulls off the highway. Ponce street. It must be heading for midtown.

Why is he involving himself in this? It’s happened all so quickly. Was it seeing Mel again? Or maybe just to break the monotony of the daily grind. He contemplates the possibility of going to jail. He makes a mental note to never, ever bend over to pick up the soap.

The car pulls up into one of the many office parks that spot mid-town. All one story and randomly sprawling, they all looked the same to him. He checks of some of the businesses; an accountant, a maker of sport caps, some kind of cleaning service. The car pulls up to a corner office and stops. Kevin receives a text,“Mr. Miller, this is your destination, office J-5. I parked you around the corner not to arouse suppression.” Kevin looks out the car window. Thankfully the rain has stopped. “The door code is 80286. Be sure you take your equipment bag.” Kevin chuckles. Only a geek would have such a door code.

The door to the car swings open and Kevin shakes off his coat and puts it on. He pulls his bag out of the back, extends the handle, then drags it up on the sidewalk surrounding the buildings. it’s now dark. The office park isn’t very well lit. Must not be many folk who come here after dark; not the best neighborhood. About the only lights are reflections in the puddles of street lamps along several feet away.

Kevin stomps in front of the door to shake off his boots. Needed leave wet foot prints in the office for others to see. He checks out the door for a name. He would at least like to know who he is vandalizing. Nothing. He goes to type in the entrance code then stops. “What about cameras or security systems?”, he text. “None.” is the response. “Proceed.” Kevin types in the code and the door pops open. He waits for a second for any alarms, nothing. He gives a sigh of relief and walks in.

inside is a small reception area with a desk situated at an odd angle to the door. The desk doesn’t look to have been used in years. On the left and right of the reception area are closed doors. Kevin opens the door to the left. Inside looks to be a break room or a conference room or maybe both. From the light of a large soda machine Kevin can see a long folding table strewn with piles of computer paper and expended Coke cans. Toward the end of the room is a whiteboard with what looks like lines of computer code scribbled across it in random fashion.

“Mr. Miller, are you inside?” Kevin text, “Yes.” “Good. Please proceed through the right door and down through the office area to the closed door at the end.” Kevin fires back, “OK” then reroutes himself through the door on the right.

The ‘office area’, that Kevin’s manipulator referred to, is two rows of half a dozen cubicles; three on the right and three on the left. Kevin looks in one of the cubicles. Three large computer screens attached to an industrial strength box computer the size of a compact frig. The ‘still on’ computer is making a distinctive hum and gurgling sound. From the light of the monitors he can see pipes coming out of the computer. “Whoa, liquid cooled. Whatever they’re doing here, it must take a lot of horse power”, he says to himself.

He heads down to the closed door at the end, locked. “Doors locked.” A pause for a few seconds then the door pops open. Kevin enters then pulls the door closed behind him. In the darkness Kevin can see hundreds of flashing colored lights. The effect is almost disorienting. He turns on the lights. Rows and rows of computer servers tied together by miles and miles of cabling. Kevin gives a whistle. “What in heavens name does he want with this?”

“Mr. Miller, are you in the server room?”, texted.

“Yes.”

“Then proceed to the communications equipment. You will see a Cisco T310 security appliance. I will text you the passwords you will need.”

Kevin looks over the rows upon rows of shelves jammed indiscriminately with various types of computer equipment.

“Do you know which self it might be on?”, Kevin enquirers.

A pause.

“I do not know. I have never seen the placement of the equipment.”

Seen the placement. What does that mean? Kevin sighs and starts pulling through the equipment. After several minutes Kevin is able to trace down the Cisco which is hanging by it’s wires on the back of one of the shelves. He gingerly attaches his tablet and logs in.

“OK. I’m in. what do you want me to do?”

“Open all the out going ports.”

“Wait, you mean incoming?”

“Incoming ports are irreverent. Outgoing.”

Kevin scratches his head. ‘Why would they want outgoing ports open? If they where trying to break in they would need the incoming ports open. Very odd.”, he monologues to himself then checks his tablet.

“This is going to take a while. There are a lot of closed ports. Hope you got the time.”, he text.

“Time is irreverent to me but not to your ex-wife. I recommend haste.”

“Bastard.” Kevin begins typing in the commands to open the ports.

Kevin begins the tedious task of opening ports when he hears something, a clanking sound? He drops his tablet and rush to the door and turns out the lights.

He looks at the bottom of the door and sees light coming from the outside. Kevin slowly puts his ear to the door and hears the sound of a female singing to herself in what sounds like Mandarin. He puts his eye to a peephole that has been embedded in the door and sees a little Asian women dumping trashcans and wiping down desk.

“I though you said no one would be in this office. There is a clean women here!”, Kevin feverishly text. A longer than usual pause then, “Cleaning personal work on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. She is not supposed to be there.”

“Well she is you dumbass! She’s probably here because of the holiday weekend.”

“I do not know of holidays.”

Kevin again feels like slamming his phone against something. “Well she apparently does. And she probably has the access code to the door.”

The door clicks. “I have changed the access code. Please proceed.”

Kevin decides that it would be best not to turn the light back on as it might be able to be seen under the door. He instead watches the cleaning lady through the peephole as she makes her rounds. His phone makes a small ‘ping’ sound as he receives another text. Kevin manically fumbles with his phone to turn off the sound. “You idiot. You’re going to give me away. STOP TEXTING ME!”

“I doubt ping 2 ring can be heard outside the door. Please proceed.” How does he know what ring I have on my phone. Who the hell are these people?

The door handle starts to jerk. Kevin stands back and takes a deep breath. The handle jerks again but the door does not open. He puts his ear to the door. A stream of sharply accented Mandarin spews forth from the cleaning lady. Kevin figures that it must be the Chinese equivalent of four letter words. He checks the peephole and sees the women walk off. After a few minutes he sees the light from under the door disappear. Kevin turns the lights back on and resets the sound on his phone. He doesn’t bother to check his phone but heads back to the Cisco.

Kevin begins working on the Cisco security device. An unusually large amount of out going ports are closed. Out of curiosity Kevin checks the work logs. Most of the ports had been closed recently. Was this a second attempt at, whatever that they were trying to do? “very curious.” He goes back to opening the ports.

After about 30 minutes he finishes up opening the last port. Suddenly all the servers light up. “Whoa.” Kevin watches as terabytes of data begins to follow from the servers to the outside world. After about 15 minutes all the servers reboot and the data stream stops.

“What just happened?”, he text. No response.

“Hello, you still there?” Again nothing.

“Great!” He disconnects his tablet and tries to put everything back the way it was as best as he can remember. He wipes everything down, doubting he can get all the finger prints and DNA skin flakes he left behind. He then packs up his tablet and tries the door. It’s locked. “Damn it!” He tries it again but it still won’t open. Kevin plops down in the only chair in the room. He contemplates trying to hack the lock but contrary to what you see on the vids, he knows hacking a security lock is very near impossible. He looks around the room and sees a small refrigerator then goes and opens it. It’s filled with old half eaten lunches and diet drinks. “Well at least I won’t starve till the cops come and pick me up on Tuesday.”

Text me: part 2

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What did they want with him? They? Kevin assumes a ‘they’ but he has no idea. Why him? He was no spy, that is if that’s what they wanted. The most daring thing he had ever done in his life was once cut in line at a movie. “What do you want me to do. And why did you pick me?” The text returns, “You will see and you where available.” Well that tells him zip and also deflates his ego a bit.

The metro area of Atlanta was huge; extending from just north of Macon to almost the Tennessee border. Hundreds of square miles. Where was he going? Maybe it wasn’t in even Atlanta. He could be taking him to Augusta or even as far as Savannah. He might be in the car for hours. “Where are you taking me?” No response, figures. Kevin was glad he took a pee just before he left.

Kevin begins to feel panicky. How could this be happening to him? What did he do to deserve this? Maybe, just maybe this was all a hoax. He picks up the phone. “How do I know this video of Melanie is ligit?”, he text. “You don’t.”, was the only response. Kevin drops the phone back down into the center console.

The rain starts to come down harder. He can’t even see the lines on the road anymore from the torrent. He wonders how the car is still able to see the lines. He marks it down to more AI wizardry. He remembers back when he was a kid and his father had an old internal combustion drive-by the-seat-of-your-pants car. What he call it? An Oldsmobile? That car didn’t have any tech on it except what was mandated by the government. He remembers the looks people would give them as it roared and chugged it’s way down the street with his old man behind the wheel. He wishes he had that Oldsmobile now. He wouldn’t be a prisoner of his own car.

He picks the phone back up. He freezes and enlarges the picture of Melanie. He had forgot how stunningly beautiful she was. Although she wouldn’t feel too beautiful right now in her bra and panties, lumped up in the corner with her hair all stringy with sweat.

He stares at her a few more moments then swipes the picture off the screen. “Why’d she do that me? Why did she leave? I gave her everything and she returned nothing.” He had half a mind to tell the, whoever, that the deal was off. Serves her right. She always acted like a stuck up bitch anyway. After all, it was her that walked out on him. He didn’t owe her anything, the bitch. Kevin hears himself say out loud,“Let her fry.”

He had nursed a real hatred for Melanie ever since the divorce. The hate made him feel powerful, in control.  What if he just switch off the car and reset it back to manual. Then block the phone number and no one would ever know. Make her suffer for once.

Kevin leans over and puts his head in his hands. “What have I become. What dark place had he fallen into?” He knew the marriage was dying longer before Mel had asked for the divorce. After all she was the one who was strong enough to finally put it to death. Two singles instead of a couple, that’s all they where. Should have talked it out but neither of them where big on talking.

Kevin picks up the phone and looks at the video again. Seeing Melanie, huddled in the corner, venerable. He could kill whoever did this to her. He hopes he finds out whoever did this is and make them spend sometime in a hot, claustrophobic for a few hours or days. What if he couldn’t preform the task they wanted him to. Would they kill her anyway out of spite? He texts, “I could kill you for hurting Mel like this you asshole!” No response. Kevin drops the phone in terror. He can’t believe he just did that. He could have got her killed. “Get it together Kevin”, he says to himself. He takes a few deep breaths. “Get it together. It’ll all be over one way or the other soon.”

The car turns off 285 onto south 75. Maybe heading into town?

How was he going to deal with seeing her again? Would the old wounds just make it impossible? Could he even change the hate? Has she changed? Would they just start hollering like the last time? If this works out maybe it would be best if ‘they’ just let her out and she was never aware that he was involved. Right now he didn’t feel too ‘human’ or maybe too much so.

 

Text me. part 1

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Editors note: This story is a dark sci-fi drama set in the near future. It also contains some ‘colorful’ language. Be warned.

Text me

Kevin Miller threw his equipment bag into the back seat of his car. Water splashed on the seat from the wet bag. Kevin didn’t care. He was too tired to care. Five hours tracing down a network issue for a dentist, crawling around under desk and in closets only to find that a cleaning woman had crashed a vital piece of equipment when she unplugged it to plug in her vacuum cleaner. The client had balked at the cost and how long it took. Kevin had overheard him talking to one of his assistants about looking for another network consultant. He knew he would have to discount this one like all the others. He was already late on his rent.

Kevin drops down into the drivers seat and removes his wet leather jacket. He throws it in the backseat on the top of the wet equipment bag. At least keep wet on wet. He checks his pocket for a pen. “Damnit! I must have left it in the dentist office.” Last thing he wanted to do was go back into that office for just a pen. He opens his glove compartment and rummages around for a pen. Grabs something that feels like a pen but instead pulls out a lipstick case. Pink sunset, Melanie’s favorite. He smiles. He remembers how Melanie would always be fiddling with her makeup and lipstick while they were traveling. She would ask him half dozen times if makeup looked good. She was never satisfied. Kevin would always tell her how beautiful she was which would garnish a smile from her. Kevin spins the lipstick around in his hand a couple times. “Screw it.” He opens the car door and sticks the lipstick under the front tire so as to be sure to run over it when he backed out. The divorce hadn’t gone well.

“Car, home.” The car acknowledges then backs out onto he street. Rain continues to pour down. Other places were looking at a beautiful white Christmas. But in Atlanta it was just how cold and wet it could be. Atlanta could be a dreary place around Christmas.

Of what little he could see of it, the sun was just dropping below the horizon. He checks his watch, twelve to seven. He didn’t realize it was that late. At least he might miss some of the traffic home. Even in self driving cars traffic was a bitch.

Kevin hears a text tone on his phone. He sighs. Short of a network apocalypse he was not going to go to anymore jobs tonight. The phone chimes again. he’s tempted to just turn the damn thing off but instead looks down at the screen.

“Mr. Miller, I would like to hire you for a job tonight.”, appears twice on the phone. Kevin shakes his head and drops the phone in the center alcove. He turns on some jazz; Herbie Hancock, cool. The phone chimes three more times. Kevin looks down at it, “Mr. Miller, it is imperative that I hire you TONIGHT. Respond ASAP.” Who the hell does this person think he is. Kevin picks up his phone and return dials the number. A quick busy signal and no answer. “Damn.” he starts typing, “I don’t know who you are but I’m not interested in taking on additional clients. I…” Before he can finish the text he gets a new text from the same number. Attached is a video and the words, “Mr. Miller, watch this. It may encourage your employment tonight.” He almost deletes the text but doesn’t. Instead he clicks on the video. It’s a video of a woman in an elevator. She is collapsed in a corner and looks exhausted. Maybe she’s stuck in the elevator? She is huddled in a corner and has, for some reason, taken most of her clothes off. He look real close, it’s Melanie!

Kevin text back. “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? WHO ARE YOU?” Text returns, “Who I am is unimportant for now. What this is Mr. Miller is your ex-wife stuck in an elevator. She has been stuck there for a few hours.” Kevin thinks about how his ex Melanie hates tight places. “The temperature in the elevator is 100 plus Fahrenheit. I can make it much hotter. Where she is will be closed till Tuesday for the holidays. That is four days locked in an exceedingly hot elevator with no water. She will be very uncomfortable, possibly die of heat exhaustion or, at least, have brain damage. Now Mr. Miller, may I hire your services.” Kevin throws the phone across the cabin.

Kevin’s car stops and turns into an empty parking lot. His phone begins to chime again and he picks it up. Fortunately it wasn’t damaged in his fit of rage. “I now have control of your car. Do not be alarmed, I mean you no harm. I mean no one any harm.” Kevin types back, “Well you have a funny way of showing it by kidnapping my ex-wife.” There is no response for a few moments. “It was necessary. Mr. Miller. If you are contemplating calling the authorities I will point out that there are hundreds of high- rises in the Atlanta area. The odds of the authorities finding her before she is damaged is at least 927 to 1. As I said, I can make it much hotter.” Kevin resist the urge to slam his phone against the dash. “What makes you think I give a damn about my ex-wife.” Again a pause. “Because you are human.”

Kevin takes a couple deep breaths. He looks out the window and notices the rain has stopped. Kevin picks the phone back up. “OK you ass wipe. Due to the cloak-n-dagger nature of the text, I assume that this must be illegal.” The text returns, “I’m not sure what cloak-n-dagger means but yes, it is illegal.” “Must be a foreigner.”, Kevin thinks. “What, you want me to be some sacrificial lamb for your little bit of espionage, is that it?” A longer pause. Must be looking that one up. “No. You will not be caught. All contingencies have been accounted for. I just need your skill set. Mr. Miller, will you take the job?” Kevin grips the phone tightly. He closes his eyes and takes a couple breathes and text, “What choice do I have?.” “None”, returns. The car starts up and pulls back onto the main road.

 

 

Journey to Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg – to be continued

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Editors note: In writing this episode of ‘The adventures of the star ship Scranton’ I decided to take the ‘show’ in a new direction. I shored up some of the characters, eliminated then added another character (even screwed with their internal cannon) and then changed the ship itself. Unfortunately the process took the story beyond my self imposed size limit for a interesting, post-able short stories. So I have elected to split the story and continue it next season, whenever that is. So here is the end of part sixteen of episode three of part one of season one.

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The ship was ready. The crew was ready. The captain, so so. “Ship, retract mooring.”, says Max. The ship responds in the affirmative. “Daisy, call space port and get us a clearing.” Daisy nods yes. “Sam, cha-whatever coordinates set?” Sam agrees. “Winston, engines ready to go?” Winston calls back from the engine room with a “go for it boss.” “Twenty-four, check that all soft drinks are properly secure in the galley.” Twenty-four confirms.

Max takes a deep breath. Next stop, cha-whatchamacallit. “Ship, bring us out.” The ship powers up the maneuvering jets and moves the Scranton out of the shipping lanes. Then the reactionless thrusters bring the ship u to .01 c. Daisy spins the display around to the view of the receding star-base then spins it about to the forward view. Nothing but stars. “Ship”, Max looks around the bridge at the smiling faces. Nothing like open space to perk things up. “OK, ship, FTL in five.” The ship begins counting down, “Five, four, three…” Daisy jumps up from her communications station, “WAIT!”

WHY DOES DAISY WANT THEM TO WAIT AND WHAT THIS OBSESSION WITH MANURE?

WHY HAS SAM STARTED WEARING A DAGGER AND WHY DOES IT HAVE ‘ACME LETTER OPENER’ ON THE HANDLE?

WHAT WAS TWENTY-FOUR’S ROUSING SPEECH AND WHY DOES HER DOODLE LOOK SOME MUCH LIKE ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY?

WHAT DID WINSTON REALLLLLY WANT WITH THAT LUBRICANT? (OK. Actually, it really was for the hyper-spanners.)

WHY DID THE WRITER PULL THIS STUPID TWO PARTER SHIT AND DO I EVEN CARE?

AND WHAT ABOUT NAOMI?

These and other pointless questions will be answered after the hiatus of

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE STAR SHIP SCRANTON!