Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Tycho: Book 2 of the Tyke McGrath Series

Tycho is the second book of the series, but its the first I read.

Do not let the "Book 2" sub-title run you off. This book works fine as a stand-alone novel. This is a great science fiction story told from the POV of a teenager who also happens to be a genius when it comes to things like DNA and such. Sure, happening to know people who have access to a spaceship might seem implausible but it makes sense in the circles he was in.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this story, except for the hundred times a sentence ended with "You know". Those were annoying. It also makes it sound like the story is being told verbally, not written down. I don't know if the author intended that or not. Overall this story is well-done, you know...



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Short Story: The Embassy

Image:By Cyberjunkie (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

The Embassy


"I don't understand why you have brought me here, father" the boy said, he didn't like to be dragged away from his war games, especially if he suspects it is for educational purposes.

"This is very important" his father told him as they left the carriage and walked up the gilded path to the white stone building atop a small hill. "A long time ago there was a race of beings that defied any logical description. They were kind but also hateful, they were loving and warlike, they were barbarians as well as technological."

The boy rolled his eyes and looked at the trees, the grass, his sandals and anything but where he supposed to going. He hoped his soldiers did not all go home, thinking their games were over for the day. They passed two guards holding spears and then came up to a most remarkable door.

"This door, as you can see, is no ordinary door" his father told him. The boy already knew just by looking at it. "Are those..."

"Those figures, yes, those are human" the elder said

"What is this place?" the boy asked.

"We call it the Embassy" his father, the King, answered "We have learned a lot of their people here, which can be learned nowhere else"

The boy was very interested now. "Can we go in, father?"

The older man nodded "I believe it is important that we do so. If we do not go in, then we will never know the answers to the questions we bear"

Only the King could open the door and he did this with a touch. The doors knew him and would respond to him. They swung open and the prince followed behind his father as he entered, the doors shut behind them.

Inside were artifacts of the human race and its history. These were mere trinkets, though, to the real purpose of the building. Against the back wall were four large tanks with coffin-like metal tubes standing against them. On these coffin-like tubes could be seen four human faces, preserved and alive.

"These are the Ambassadors of the human race" the King told his son "Their minds and heads have been preserved, so that our species is never alone. We conquered them, as we did many species, but we keep a few alive, because exterminating them completely is evil"

The boy nodded solemnly. This was a good lesson for a future king.

....................

If you like my short stories, you might like my first ebook New Arrivals ($2.99 or free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription), buying it will help me keep writing. Seriously.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: The Contact: Episode One


The Contact: Episode One (of four) tells the beginning of a first contact science fiction story. Something has entered the solar system and was accelerating until it used Saturn to slow down and then took up orbit around Jupiter.

Natural objects don't do that.

Two young student-scientists are the first ones to realise that the object is an alien vessel and that it is trying to make contact. An international team of eminent scientists is gathered to decide how to make contact with the craft.

The end of episode one happens just as the first communication is exchanged with the unknown ship.

It was very well done and almost realistic in how it is portrayed. The first part, which I read, is free. What happens next, I dunno until payday.

I give it a thumbs up, it's just far too short. Each of the other parts are also as short and are about $1.69 each, making it about $5 total.

(I could not link to the cover from the website, this seems to be an earlier version)



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Short Story: Sally in After

Sally in After


Sally didn't like being sick, staying in the hospital for months on end for treatments that made her feel worse than her original malady had. She remembers her parents and grandmother and her brother standing around her bed crying, holding her hand, but she was so tired. She just needed some sleep.

When she woke up something was very different. She just felt that she was in a different room and then she noticed other things. There was no respirator on her face, there were no noises of the machines pumping air and beeping all the time.

Then suddenly she realized that she felt perfectly fine. She wasn't sick anymore! She sat straight up and looked around. “Mom! Dad!” where did they go?, there were just here. Then a nurse in white with a pink vest came to her bed.

The nurse looked at her eyes and ears and asked “How do you feel?”

“Fine! I feel good. I want to go home, are my parents here?” Sally asked looking around and in a hurry “They were just here, they were crying, but tell them I'm well now. Hurry.”

The nurse suddenly looked a bit sad and held her face for a moment like some people do. “Oh honey, I guess you really don't understand yet”

“Understand what?”

“There is no easy way to say, it. Just have to tell you bluntly. You died” she told the girl “This is After”

“Is this heaven?” the girl asked

“Not yet, darling, but it's closer” the woman said “You'll understand better after you go to school”

Sally looked dubious. “I'm dead but I have to go to school? ha. Tell my parents to come and bring me home now”

“Poor child” the nurse said “You will understand everything when you go to After school. By the way, what did you die of?”

Sally was starting to get scared that the nurse was telling the truth, tears were forming. “Cancer”

The nurse nodded slowly “Were you sick for a long time?”

“Since I was 5” she answered quietly, unsure of everything.

“It's sad. You have moved on to After and your parents will miss you, and you will miss them, this is all very normal” the nurse said seeing Sally start to cry. “I'll let you alone to grieve for a good long while”

True to her word the woman went on and saw to others who had arrived in After. When Sally had about cried every tear she could, she watched the nurse comfort the new arrivals, some of whom seemed to have died under pretty traumatic circumstances.

Later the nurse introduced a couple who said she would live with them for a while, during which she would attend the After school. Sally was given a nice room but somehow the trip to the new home seemed to disappear from her memories. As if she had been transported from the 'hospital' to their home without passing anything else.

It was kind of strange. The room looked a lot like her room back home in 'Before', there was even a similar stack of coloring books and dolls with just a trace of difference. Sally opened the closet and there were already three dresses in her size. Pink, blue and yellow. Her favorite colors.

Okay, even a ten-year old would find this strange, she told herself. She went out and down the stairs and walked to the couple who were at the dining table drinking from tea cups.

“How did you know what my favorite colors were? How did you know I liked coloring books? How did you already clothes in my size?” she asked with her hands on her hips.

“Did your parents ever show you old pictures of the family? In albums?” the woman asked “Maybe a pink one with a white heart?”

Sally was stunned. How did they know her family had an album like that? There were several photograph albums on the shelf by the stairs. The pink and white one was.... dad's parents. The grandma and grandpa she never met because they died too young. Dad was still a teenager when they died.

Then suddenly she noticed these people looked exactly like the pictures in that album.

“Grandma? Grandpa?” she asked, they nodded and embraced her and they were all crying together.

After a while they were just talking. Grandpa wanted to know about his son, her father. How he was doing, if he still fished at the same spot on the river.

“Yes! He took me sometimes. Dad thought that maybe the peace and quiet of fishing would make me get well” she said, looking at her feet. “Dad tried everything to make me better”

After a long while she fell asleep on the couch but they were still there wen she woke up, she embraced them and cried again for her parents, her brother and mom's mother. Then something crossed her mind and she looked up at them.

“Why are you still here, in After? Why haven't you moved on to heaven?” she asked them, they smiled to her and grandmother said “Because you need us. How would you have felt if no one you loved and who loved you was here waiting? Too sad.”

“You will understand everything when you go to After school. Do you want to be here when your dad or brother or grandmother come here? Don't you think they will need you to comfort them?” her grandfather said

“Are you angels?” Sally asked

“No. Humans do not become angels, but that doesn't mean we can't be angels for those who need us”

“Once you are ready, you won't need us any more. Then the two of us will move on” grandmother told her.

“But I just met you!” she protested

“We feel the same way, but we will all be together next time” her grandfather said

Sally nodded. “I'll do my best in After school. I'll be here waiting for my family, I really want to see them again. Just not too soon”

“I still find it weird that I died and I have to go to school before I can to heaven” she said before going to bed on the couch, with her head on her grandmothers lap, who was stroking her hair lovingly.

................................

 If you like the stories on my blog, please consider buying New Arrivals. (Borrow for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Short Story: A New Home


A New Home

by Floyd Looney



(Art work by Don Davis, commissioned by NASA, 1975, and released to Public Domain. http://www.donaldedavis.com/PARTS/allyours.html)


“The strawberries, honey” Janet told her 7-year old daughter Anna, in the garden near their house “Make sure you pick the big, plump ones that your grandpa likes”

“Okay, mommy” the girl said swinging her little wicker basket excitedly, wearing her brand new yellow dress and feeling like this was some sort of holiday. Grandpa was visiting, he didn't live too far away but he was normally busy with his writing and stuff. Anna glanced up and could see his house from the garden, it was a mile or two up the curving wheel of the revolving space station.

“His whole class graduated yesterday, he is proud of them all. They all did so well” her mother said “Your grandpa got to watch the ceremony live from Earth, so I invited him over for our own little celebration”

“Yea” she said twirling on the spot “Maybe he will take me for a walk by the lake”

“He does have time today, I guess. A rare day off for him” Janet said, thinking it might be about time for her father to retire but knowing he wouldn't. With the end of the semester he would dive back into his writing full time. She sighed and shook her head.

“We have enough strawberries for two cakes” she said, guessing that half of them would survive long enough to decorate the cake “Let's go back in now”

They left the garden and passed by a lot of other gardens before they reached their modest house with the little decorative white picket fence. Janet had always wanted a cute house like this but before coming to Terra Beta, it was never going to happen. Her husband was one of the engineers who kept the station running smoothly, like trying to keep cloud formation inside the station to a minimum.

Terra Beta had cost a fortune to construct, it was located in a Lagrangian Point just past the moon, but they could see Earth a lot of the time rising and falling behind the moon – which looked bigger from their perspective than Earth. It was supposed to be a pilot program as a test, the real goal was to build a rocket to push it into Mars orbit so that world could be studied more intently for a long time.

That phase never happened because of a global depression across Earth. It affected Terra Beta a bit but internally they had their own cottage-industry economy. Much of their own food and other things were made right on the station, such as the gardens. Nearly any part that was needed to repair the space station could also be manufactured there.

Janet greeted her father when he arrived but Anna leaped into his arms. If it weren't for the 0.8g gravity she was sure he would have been bowled over. They chatted and had some tea until her husband came home. He looked a bit grim but he put up a good show of enjoying the little celebration.

After Anna went to bed, they had some wine and chatted about things like her fathers teaching job and how his books were selling. When she put her father to bed in the guest bedroom she went back downstairs to confront her husband.

“Jeff, what's going on, why are you so grim and worried?” she asked “and yes I can tell”

“Earth's governments are clamoring to send up ten thousand refugees to Terra Beta, as if we can take care of them. It's insane, it could never work” he told her “They do not understand how carefully balanced everything is up here. Ten thousand welfare cases would destroy everything.”

“What can we do? The consortium is owned by those governments after all” she said, wondering if they would have to move back to Earth. She really didn't want to go back to Earth.

“I don't know. There will be a council meeting on the subject tomorrow, but the members haven't been told about this yet” he told her “Everyone will find out and the reaction to it could tear our community apart”

It doesn't make sense, Janet told herself. Why would they want to send a bunch of refugees to a space station. Did any of those politicians understand what they were doing? Maybe they did. Maybe they saw this as a way to end the space program for good. They already canceled the idea of sending it to Mars and of building a second habitat wheel, maybe this was to be the final death knell. Politicians haven't changed much since Herod, she concluded.

The Terra Beta community was incensed and shocked when the news came out. Many of the adults had come to the same conclusions that Janet had. That this was an effort to end the space program for good, binding the human race to surface dwellers forever.

Janet's father was on the council. He had gone into “deep think” mode while everyone else panicked and argued about what it all meant. Finally he raised a hand and the gavel told everyone else to shut up, including the small crowd that had shown up in person.

“We do have an engine on this space station” he informed them “It would take a while to build up enough speed, going around and around the moon and then Earth and then going out to Mars. We can park at Mars like the original plan had called for. Let them spend millions to send a handful refugees that far and see how fast their minds change”

“But isn't this station owned by those governments when it is all said and done?” Another member of the council asked “Can't we try to come to a compromise of some kind?”

“How about you guys keep them talking for a few months while we get out of dodge?” her grandfather replied to some chuckles “That would be useful”

The thing any politician ever did best was distract the public, Janet reckoned. Her grandfather would be fired from the long-distance teaching job, besides it would be hard to do that from Mars with the delay in communications it would bring.

First they reported that the space station had an bronchial infection and shut off all entrances from the outside. “It is very contagious, no one should visit this station for a while” their top doctors had reported to Earth.

Then while negotiations were going on with the Consortium the station started orbiting a small area of empty space within the Lagrangian Point, most of this while hidden by the moon. It took many weeks to build up any real speed and they orbited the Moon, now the Earth could see it and track its speed, their communications became alarmed.

“It is time for us to find a new home” Janet's grandfather announced to the station to much applause, it was also being beamed to Earth “Humanity can no longer be anchored to one world. We must move amongst the planets and then the stars and thrive. Thriving can only be done with freedom, which would be denied us if we stay”

Then once they were clear of the Earth-moon system they began to track an incoming vessel, catching up with them a little by little. It announced itself as “Space Fighter One” and said it had been sent by the consortium to bring them back or to destroy them.

With only a couple days to act the council met again. Her grandfather was now the Chairman and he told everyone to shut up when they were arguing and bickering. Instead he opened a communication channel to SFO and allowed them to watch and participate in the meeting.

“So, you carry a single nuclear missile” her father said, repeating the information as it stood “How much fuel do you have?”

When he heard the answer his eyebrows went up. “You are on a one-way suicide mission, sent to murder 11,000 innocent people who want to be free. Is this what you wanted to do when you grew up?”

The pilot answered “Of course not”

The old man nodded “Why don't you fire off the missile toward the sun and come aboard and join our community? Wouldn't that be better than dying for such a horrible cause?”

So Terra Beta survived. It thrived in Martian orbit, it sent down teams to study the world below even as Earth slipped into darkness. Soon radio signals ceased to be broadcast, nothing but static and evidence of increased radiation levels.

It's been fifteen years now and another station is being built, this one will be sent forth toward interstellar space, on a mission to thrive and survive around another star. They are also told to build another some day and send it elsewhere too. When Terra Delta is complete, I will be on that mission to find a new home.

-Anna Smith

.................

Buying my book, NEW ARRIVALS (or borrowing with Kindle Unlimited) will help keep me writing and sharing my stories on this blog.

Review: The Fleet (by John Davis)


This free first book in a 3-part series by John Davis was first published a little more than a year ago. The main characters including the rootin' tootin' hard drinking, dirty-mouthed sex-addict (with his gal) Commander Dalton James. He is written so over-the-top he is almost a cartoon character who would feel at home during the gunfight at the O-K Corral.

Most human worlds are now infested with the undead (formerly, most humans) while the survivors live aboard a fleet of spacecraft. There are also vampires out there. Just when the decision seems near to choose a place to settle the remnant of humanity a new race shows up: cannibals with advanced technology.

The fleet can't go much farther without water (which is everywhere in our solar system but rare in theirs - not Earth) but they can make fuel out a lot of the rocks floating in space. Better yet, maybe they can duplicate the technology of the cannibal race who wants nothing more than to eat them. All of them, infected and uninfected alike.

The main character in this book kind of throws me off. The book is still entertaining enough to finish, though. If the gruff space cowboy (who is the best shooter in all the western galaxy) is your cup-of-tea you will enjoy this story.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Short Story: Orbital PD: Just Part of the Job



 Orbital PD:

Just Part of the Job

 by Floyd Looney


The small craft looked like a small version of the old Space Shuttle but this one was near a tall, rusting hulk that looked like a grain silo with four solar panel wings. The two space-suited figures inside the ship were investigating reports that an illegal drug called an “outie” had been moved from this location to other orbital communities. Outies make people lose it, often they end up walking out of an airlock.

They turned on a spotlight to get a better look at the habitat. It really was a rust bucket and any markings had long since worn down. Those inside had turned off their exterior lights as the shuttle approached but those in the ship knew they were home, the habitat was warm and they knew there were two human-sized heat sources inside.

Lieutenant Reese Davison shook his head “They're going to make us do this the hard way, aren't they?”

Sergeant Manny Jones sighed and started putting on his helmet “Looks like I need to make a house call”

Davison kept up with the radio “Since you have ignored my communications we will be boarding your habitat. Put on your spacesuits and prepare to be arrested”

“They won't answer, Reese” Manny told him “We know exactly how these kind of people think”

Davison nodded and turned on the red and blue strobe light on the top of the ship. Manny was connecting his stunner to his spacesuits hip with his bagger hanging off his belt from the other side. Of course it was weightless so “hanging” wasn't exactly the right word.

After leaving the airlock Sergeant Manny Jones kicked off from the ship just above where the word POLICE was painted across the side next to an emblem of the Orbit Police Department. The same emblem on the chest and shoulder and helmet of Sergeant Manny Reese as he reached the exterior hatch of the habitat.

Manny tried the lock, no dice. They weren't that stupid. He pulled a small box off of his belt and entered it into a recess on the locking mechanism. The red light turned green and he opened the exterior hatch, then he entered the airlock.

Once inside he attempted the normal pressurization sequence. Once this was complete he tried to open the inner hatch of the airlock and it was also locked. After repeating the work with the black box it unlocked but the door was blocked from the inside. There were no lights, the lights on the sides of his helmet and on his wrists were enough for him.

He had seen a 3d diagram and he knew there was barely room on the other side for the airlock door, then you went up. He had planned for this, he thought of it as soon as he had seen the schematic, he would have done the same thing was he one of them.

He took a small cannister connected to a bag, since the door opened a little he pushed the bag out at the bottom, underneath what was blocking him from entering. He hoped. Once this was complete he hit the button on the cannister and it rapidly inflated the bag, pushing whatever it was upward. It worked and he was out of the airlock, he looked up and saw some sort of seat flying upward through a central tube.

Now he just needed to find and arrest the suspects. He kicked off of the bottom and upward, he found an open area that seemed to be the biggest room in the habitat, a circular less than eight feet across. This was probably the main room, a galley hidden behind a panel and two terminals that controlled everything, but the suspects were not here, they were hiding.

He took the stunner from his belt, just in case they put up some more resistance. He inched up through the center, opening the sliding doors as he found them. When he shined his wrist lights inside he found closet and coffin-sized compartments on either side, one was a little larger and it contained a bathroom, some were storage, a few were sleeping berths.

He knew there was another “large” chamber at the end of this silo-designed habitat, this is where all of the batteries, life-support and other equipment was located. They were obviously hiding in there, so he reached up and turned on the scatter-light at the top of his helmet, this would disorient them even more.

He banged on it with the butt of his stunner and used the speaker on his helmet “Come on out, you are under arrest, there is no-where to run”

True enough. Where would they go? They were 220 miles above the Earth traveling at more than 17,500 miles per hour, there were no neighbors for a hundred and ninety miles. They had no ship or escape pod, the ring-leader had obviously made his escape without them.

The door slowly slid open and two people were there holding their hands up. One was in hi forties, bald, spider-web tattoo over his head, he had piercings in his nose and ear. The other occupant looked to be a thin, short teen-aged boy with thick dark bowl-cut hair and two small piercings under his bottom lip.

“Go and suit up” he told them, Manny remembered having seen two suits in the airlock when he came in. The two male suspects looked uncomfortable before the older one said “Those suits were slashed, we were abandoned as soon as the boss found out you were coming”

Manny called Reese back on the ship “They have no suits, you'll need to dock”

“Just tell the suits everything about your boss. You two won't be locked up at the tank, not worth it, you guy will be going down to the dirt instead” he told them, that meant Earth. They both looked even more upset at the idea of being sent back to the planet.

“I didn't make you commit the crime, don't blame me” Sergeant Manny Jones told them “I'm just a cop with Orbital PD, just doing my job”
 .................................

You can always help me out by buying (or borrowing if you have Kindle Unlimited) a copy of New Arrivals.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: The Human Chronicles Saga: Book One


I'm just going to call it The Fringe Worlds and be done with that too-long title. Like many first books of a series, this one is free. These writers are like drug dealers, knowing you'll pay for the next dose and the next when you get hooked.

Adam Cain is a Navy SEAL who was abducted by aliens while on a mission in the Hindu Kush. He was later rescued and finds himself the lone survivor on a ship full of kidnapped humans. He soon learns that in his new "world" humans are the strongest and best fighters there is, no wonder an ancient race erected a barrier to the spiral arm of the galaxy where Earth is located.

This is a very entertaining story, no wonder it was one of the best sellers of 2013 (as the cover claims), or maybe it is a cover that feels familiar somehow, like deja vu.

I give this story 4 stars out of 5 because the author keeps bringing up religion and has all the characters agree that faith in God is stupid. The author seems to think the very existence of aliens and other worlds discredits Christianity, when there is no such limit on God in that religion. The only people who think this way are the ones who think it anyway. In other words the author allowed his own prejudices to sully a few parts of his story.

They are small parts and that is why I only took away one star.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Lonely Space - Chapter Seven (Revolting Robots)


 

 Chapter Seven


 Revolting Robots



The main computer of the Salutem Novis carefully examined the selected rover and corridor service module for any flaws after the clean install of their operating systems. Jay Johnson and Tamita Koroma were also watching, on terminals from the bridge, static cameras as well as an exterior drone feed following the rover made for gripping viewing.

Should we send Gopher for popcorn?” Jay asked, Tamita hushed him. He used hand signals to tell Gopher to do it anyway and it left quietly. He had his popcorn within minutes but Tamita kept taking some without asking. Jay just smiled and shook his head.

“I do not see any flaw in their operating systems” the computer said “When I simulated them, more than a thousand times last night, there were no problems at all”

“Maybe it's not in the OS” Tamita said, munching more of his popcorn.

“Wait, what are you suggesting?” Jay asked “That there is a piece of hardware in these machines causing them to attack humans or tear up the ship?”

“Could be malevolent program inside one of the parts. A tiny hidden chip could do it” she told them.

Jay shook his head. “I doubt that would have gotten through the manufacturing process”

“Why? Do you think that after they saw it once or twice on the assembly lines they would ever question it again? So much advanced hardware being put out, I think it could have slipped by” she told them.

“How would we look for that?” Jay Johnson asked “We wouldn't even know what to look for if we tore them apart!”

The two robots on the screens quietly moved about their business without any signs of trouble at all that anyone could see. They had watched for hours as the robots made minor repairs and inspections in their specified portions of the ship.

“Okay, even if that is true, then what triggers them? Neither of the malfunctioning robots had even seen one of us before they went bad. I am having trouble believing that this could be possible. If something happens to us, what would the ship do?” Jay Johnson said “Maybe turning around is the best thing to do, sometimes it seems like it”

The computer tried to parse the meanings behind that whole statement. The idea that the ship or the computer might be in danger should these two humans die was illogical. They were quite easily replaced. It might briefly hinder the psychological studies the computer was doing but that was more of a hobby than part of its job description.

“This is getting really boring” Jay Johnson said later “Is there anything you need me to do?”

“No” Tamita said absentmindedly.

“I was asking the computer” he told her, they both laughed “More beer, Gopher”

“Yes sir” the little robot said and took off through its own little chute above the door as it hung from the ceiling. They went back to watching the two robots on the screen and then heard the chute open again and Gopher entered empty handed.

“Houston, we have a problem!” it said “The corridors are blocked by robots”

“That is not possible” the main computer said “They would have to disable their location beacons or I would know when they moved”

A second later the computer said “The rovers and corridor service modules have all left their assigned storage bays, I am unable to track them”

Tamita and Jay Johnson stood up and switched the terminals to views outside of the bridge. “Lock up the bridge!”. They could see several corridor service modules on either side of the door to the bridge.

“I have already” the computer said.

Tamita sat at the terminal farthest from the door to the corridor. Jay was still closer but he was looking around for something. “These things are working together!” she yelled.

“Looks like we're surrounded Captain” Gopher said

The monitors went blank. “Now we can't watch them”

“Gopher keep looking out there and see what they are doing!” Jay Johnson ordered the little robot. It went through the chute and came right back.

“They have opened all the wall panels and are cutting wires and pipelines” Gopher said just before the lights went out and the red emergency lights came on.

“Computer, is there an air duct or anything we can fit though? Any way at all that we can get out of here and to safety?” Jay Johnson asked and then waited. There was no response. “Looks like they must have cut the main trunk line to the bridge if the computer is cut off”

“What can we do now?” Tamita asked “Gopher. Gopher still works!”

“I am functioning normally” the little robot confirmed

“Are you in touch with the main computer?” Jay asked, “Put us through if you can”

“Through my rail I am, it is also how I draw power” the robot said “Okay”

Tamita came to stand next to Jay, looking at the little robot in front of them. Then the voice changed and the main computer said “I have been able to calculate a way for you to survive”

“Good to hear that” Jay said “Just hurry up and tell us”

“There is an escape pod connected to the bridge behind the hatch between the bathroom and Captains office. Disconnect the panel and there is a hatch, crawl nine point seven feet to another hatch, that will put you inside of the escape pod” the computer said “Then you can get far enough away, it is already programmed and stay there until I can deactivate all of these rovers and corridor service modules”

“There were no rovers in the hall” Jay said. Tamita looked behind them across the bridge and to the transparent dome and a short scream escaped from her. There were more than a few rovers watching them from the other side, one was moving back and forth liked a caged tiger. Then they started hitting and scratching at the dome.

“We have to go right now!” Jay Johnson said, grabbing her shoulders and pulling her toward the alcove where the restroom and Captains office were located. He examined the panel and had no idea how to get the bolts to unbolt. “Gopher, do I need a tool for this?”

After a second the little robot took off through the chute.

The banging and screeching of the transparent dome being attacked by the rovers echoed across the bridge. If they managed to punch a hole in that, the bridge would lose all of its breathable atmosphere.
Then there was banging on the door, very loud and hard bangs as the corridor service modules were attacking it.

Finally Gopher was back and holding a tool. It was a simple design with one button and two small lights. He placed it over each corner of the panel and touched the button, sure enough this was all it took and he pulled it to the side. He and Tamita both knelt to look into the tube that led to the hatch of the escape pod.

“How long before you can shut those things down?” Jay asked pushing Tamita into the tube first as he saw the computer had already opened the inner hatch for them.

“I am working to isolate their response algorithms. It should take about nine minutes because it seems to have many built in firewalls.” the main computer said through Gopher.

“Go and save yourselves” Gopher said.

He was still in the tube and Tamita was inside the escape pod looking out at him. “Come on, hurry up!” she said reaching back out to pull him in.

Jay Johnson resisted “I think I should stay”

She shook her head “No. Are you nuts? Let the computer handle this”

“Just let me suggest something before I go then” he said backing out of the tube. He stood up “Gopher, can I make a suggestion?”

“What kind of suggestion?” the little robot asked.

“Have you ever heard of an electro-magnetic pulse? Can you produce one? A rather small one that will affect just a little more than this room enough to shut down the rovers out there and the service modules, can you make one?” Jay Johnson asked.

“There is a power transformer in this wall, but there is no power currently running through it. The conduits have been cut by the service modules” Gopher said “I might be able to produce one in another section that will reach the service modules but not the rovers out there”

The main computer spoke through Gopher again “Try not to cause permanent damage”

“Do that, then we will figure out what to do with the rovers” Jay Johnson said. Then he crawled back into the tube and told Tamita “I have a plan, you need to go though”

“If you stay I want to stay too!” she said and started to climb out of the pod but he pushed her back in and she protested. Then he pulled her to him and kissed her. Then he pushed her back in again and hit the switches that locked the inner hatch. As he exited the tube he told the main computer through Gopher “Launch the escape pod”.

He watched through the dome as it disconnected and drifted upward slowly, the rovers noticed it and started moving towards it. Just as the first rovers got close the rockets ignited on the pod and it moved out of their reach, even one that leaped after it.

“Gopher, go blow that transformer. Make sure you get far enough away before it goes up!” he reminded the little robot. It took off through the chute again. The rovers were all now attacking the dome, he could see the little dimples like micro meteors might make.

He heard a popping sound and the banging at the door stopped. It seemed that Gopher had done its job and the service modules were now inactive. Jay Johnson tried to open the door by touching the panel but nothing happened. Then he put his fingers into the groove between the doors and pulled, it opened a few inches and he looked though.

It looked like the small EMP had done the trick. Some of them had stopped with their tools out when some of their circuits were fried. He pushed and pulled until he could squeeze out between the double doors. “Now what?”


He was standing in a corridor with eight service modules the size of airport mule vehicles and trying to figure a way to stop the rovers. That is when Gopher returned “Got them!”

“Yes, now we need to get the rovers too” he answered “I'm just out of ideas”

The main computer spoke through Gopher again. “The escape pod from the bridge, unlike the others, was built with defensive weaponry. I believe I can program the laser on the pod to fire a weakened laser at just the right frequency to disable the rovers.”

Jay sat down on a service module “I wanted to be the hero”

The computer didn't miss a beat “There is an air-lock one hundred meters down the corridor”

“No” he said waving a hand “Your way is faster and better, I suppose”


Tamita was sitting in the front seat of the 5-seat escape pod and not touching anything. Even though the control stick seemed familiar she was too scared that something bad would happen. She could barely see the rovers from where she was at, stationed 1,000 meters away. The ship still looked huge from that distance, it was just really big.

“Tamita” the voice of the computer reached her, though there was static.

“What? I can hear you” she said

“Communications... difficult... damage to bridge... need you .. shoot laser... rovers...”

“Okay, I can barely hear you” she said. She saw a button on the dash in front of her that said “weapons”. Why there would need to be weapons on a trip to New Eden she did not know, but they would be useful against bad robots.

“Hang on” she answered “Even if I figure this out, those rovers are right next to the bridge I can't shoot”

The computer voice came back “Reprogrammed... EMP laser... You must … targeting system”

When she touched the switch labeled “Targeting” the monitor in front of her lit up, and then it showed the ship below with red dots where the rovers were. “So how do I aim this thing? Is it like a video game?”

When she moved the control stick to line up the cross-hairs on the red dots, the whole escape pod moved with it. The whole vessel reoriented itself which threw off her aim the first few times. When she the hang of it, taking out those tiger-like rovers didn't seem so hard.

She counted eight of them when it was all said and done. The main computer had broke back into the static to say “Recalling escape vehicle”. It moved all by itself and soon docked where it had been in the first place.
When Tamita crawled through the tube, Jay Johnson was there to help her get out.

“I thought I was going to get to be the hero” Jay Johnson told her “But you got to play shoot'em up all by yourself”

“So what happens now?” Tamita asked

The main computer spoke through Gopher again “I will have to manufacture new computer cores for the rovers and corridor service modules. Jay Johnson and you will need to take their original cores out and replace them. Then the service modules can repair the damage they caused.”

“That should make the robots act normal again?” Jay Johnson asked

“Affirmative”

“I hope there aren't any more surprises coming” Tamita said “At least not any time soon”

The main computer watched Tamita and Jay Johnson leave the bridge through Gophers eyes, he saw them shake their head at all the disabled service modules in the corridor. He heard Jay Johnson smack one on the top and say “I thought we were friends Goth!”

Then they walked back towards one of the biological habitats for “a break”.

The computer noted that they held hands this time. They had started to bond, which the computer noted in its psychological research database. The computer also noted that humans seemed to thrive on adversity, or at least surviving adversity. Overcoming obstacles and challenges was “progress” for humans, the computer determined.

It analyzed this conclusion. It seemed a correct deduction, supported by the recent events. The main computer of the Salutem Novis filed this away for future reference.


.............................

This is just barely the beginning of the story of the Salutem Novis and its 6,000 year journey to New Eden carrying the remnant of the human race in cryogenic suspension with just one or two crew members "awake" at a time. There will be other characters and other challenges, and I don't think anyone really trusts that main computer do they?

When I complete the whole story I will release it as an e-book, unless I decide to release them a serials. If I do that, then these first seven chapters would be part one.

Meanwhile I will probably begin another on-going story soon enough. It will, of course be science fiction.

You can always support me and this website by buying New Arrivals (or borrow if you have Kindle Unlimited or Prime subscriptions)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Here comes the circus




 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Comes The Circus

by Floyd Looney









“What's up, mate?” one creature said to the other “Welcome to our side of the woods”

“No worries” the visitor said “I heard the circus was coming to town, is this true?”

“They are scheduled to arrive soon, I wasn't sent to the edge by the elders to greet you now as I?”

The visitor agreed “I ain't nobody important, that's true”

He stayed and they soon caught sight of the visiting circus, walking up tn a long column two by two and a fat one urging them on.

“Keep moving, the destination is just ahead!”

The greeter moved forward “This clearing just over there is the place, my friend”

The fat one looked at the location “That will do the trick, thank you”

Then he turned back to the long columns “Over to this clearing, we have arrived for the next show, put on your best smiles everyone!”

The greeter and his friend watched as the big top and other attractions were hoisted into place, they could see the athletes practicing their acrobatics. One of them bent down and then leaped a good twenty-five his own height, did a flip at the top and landed with not a trace of a problem.

“This show is going to be spectacular” his friend said

“Might be the best ever, the whole village will want to see this!”

He was right, that evening the whole village did show up. The acrobats were planning to put that practice jump to shame. The concessions were doing a good business, the greeter saw long lines for the bleeding lumps and the oozing pustules.

“This is going to be epic” he heard a child tell its friend as they walked by eating scab cakes,

The greeter decided it was a good time to take his seat as the fat carnival barker began to introduce the big show.

“Welcome everyone to the greatest show on dog!” he said to applause but then everyone stopped and looked around. What is that smell? A few of the elders thought it was familiar and then they panicked “Everybody run! Save yourselves!”

The whole crowd began pushing and shoving like a riot had broken out, but the greeter who was at the entrance was able to move away quickly, but the toxic stench was overwhelming. He grabbed onto the roots of a hair and looked back.

A flood of green ooze had saturated the whole area, it completely covered the big top, he could see the bodies of others inside of the blob. He tried not to throw up, it was sickening. He hung on for dear life but the green blob was spreading quickly. He tried to climb the hair but ended up being covered in white bubbly toxic ooze. He was soon starting to black out, he knew the end was near.

That is when the real flooding starting with fast moving water that pushed others and the bodies right off their world into nothingness. He could not hang on any longer, he was destined to join them. This was the end.

END

..............

You can buy my ebook NEW ARRIVALS (if you have a Kindle Unlimited or Prime subscription it's free). It will help me continue writing, for sure.

Review Hijacked (Tales from the 23rd Century: Chronicles book 1)


From the title I thought this was going to be a very different story! What seemed to me a very good and enduring character turned out not to be so enduring after all, I was a bit stunned! No spoilers even though this book is free, you still have to go and see for yourself.

Yes it is a little short, but many first of series are free and often short (not always), which does not mean the story isn't good. I think Paul J Fleming has done an excellent job here, even if I'm not sure the main character was all that much of a "good guy" in this one. (no spoilers)

It is definitely worth the short time to read this story.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

LONELY SPACE - Chapter Six (Sabotage)

Link to Chapter One

 

Chapter Six

Sabotage


Jay Johnson went back to the biological habitat where he found Tamita stacking sticks and broken branches in the center of three rocks. He went over to the opposite side of this pile and sat down with crossed legs.

“What is this?” he asked

She looked up at him from the other side and said “Any woman in Sierra Leone with any dignity has her three stones well taken care of. We cook with them, we take them inside when it rains... they define the traditional wife and mother in my country. A three stone stove, with a pot balanced on the tips of these, is something everyone in my country knows of”

He nodded. “I think remembering is important. No matter how far we go, New Eden or whatever, we should never forget where we came from”

She shook her head “A hundred years after we settle a new world, nobody is going to remember this, not much of anything from Earth is going to be remembered. They will be making their own customs, their own culture, their own memories. This is where it all ends, I guess”

Then she furrowed her brow “and where have you been?”

He smiled and shook his head “Outside. There was something the computer needed human hands to fix and I was the lucky volunteer”

Tamita knew he wasn't telling her something but she would find out what it was eventually, it is not like the computers kept secrets. The little Gopher robot would probably tell her anything she wanted to know. She still wondered if was wise to trust this man, Jay Johnson, too much.

Jay Johnson was very frustrated but he didn't want to let it show. That night, after Tamita had locked herself in her quarters he decided to have a real talk with the main computer.

“So, have you figured out why that rover tried to rip open the skin of the ship and why it tried to attack me?” he asked looking at a small terminal, because he had to look at something, and a voice in the ether had no face.

“I have not” the computer said “It is illogical for such a major malfunction to occur so soon after launch”

Jay crossed his arms and leaned back on the bunk. He suggested, not seriously, “Maybe we should abort the mission?”

“Negative” the computer said “Only a catastrophic failure would activate any protocols for returning to Earth”

“Those rovers are your hands out there” Jay said “You can't expect me to know how to fix stuff, that wasn't my field. I'm here because...” he stopped and sighed. “I could learn, in the virtual reality chamber, I could learn how to fix some of it”

“The library has everything you would require to become a fully certified technician in any sub-system or engineer in all of the systems” the computer agreed “It would take years”

Jay lay back on the bug with his hands clasped behind his head “I have plenty of time”

The computer thought there was a 75% chance that Jay Johnson would live another 15 years, 5 years to learn to become an engineer and maybe a decade of work after that. There was a 66% chance he would become unstable or insane before then. His relationship with the female had not yet come to fruition, the computer thought it was unlikely within a year. It was not an expert on that, it knew, humans were quite unpredictable sometimes. It was learning though.

In her quarters Tamita lay on the bunk. Then she rolled to face the wall terminal with the small blinking red light. “Computer”

“Yes, crew member Tamita Koroma?” the computer responded

“Tell me what happened to Jay Johnson today” she said “I know something happened. Don't try to lie to me”

The computer of the Salutem Novis did not know where she had gotten the idea that it would lie to her, but it decided to open a separate file on her psychology, not just on her interaction with Jay Johnson.

“Jay Johnson was requested to make an excursion outside of the vessel to replace exterior panels that protect many of the ships sub-systems. Once there he was attacked by a malfunctioning rover, but he was unarmed and the rover is no longer a threat” the computer said.

He was alarmed by this revelation. “That's insane!” she calmed down a little “How could one of the rovers malfunction like that?”

“This remains a mystery” the computer said “Prior to being sent to repair a minor problem an hour earlier it was perfectly normal. Since the rover unit is now floating far away in the depths of space, it cannot be opened up and studied”

“Jay didn't tell me any of this because he thinks I'm too fragile to know?” she asked nobody in particular. “Did he think it would frighten me?”

The computer pondered whether Tamita was upset by this revelation that Jay Johnson tried to protect her from this knowledge or maybe because he was a gentleman. Would she feel warmer toward him or colder, this is something the computer wanted to see.

The next morning Jay Johnson woke up and showered much earlier than normal for him, the computer thought he was eager to see Tamita again, instead he went to the bridge.

“Have you figured out what happened to the rover yet?” he asked

“Negative” the computer said “There is just no information available to make a determination about why the rover behaved the way it did”

Could it have been a malfunction?” Jay asked

“Unlikely” the computer said “It's behavior could not have been the result of random chance”

“So someone tampered with the program?” Jay Johnson asked

“I have found nothing in the programming that would cause this though” the computer said “I have compared the software of all of the rovers, they are identical”

“Sabotage” Jay Johnson “You should go through the programming line by line and create a virtual rover and see how it behaves”

“I will do that” the computer said “I also need you to replace an instrument outside the ship, since the rovers are deactivated for the time being”

Jay Johnson found himself suiting up again for a spacewalk, but this time on the top-side of the ship over in area C. He didn't have to walk up the wall to the ceiling this time since he was already oriented correctly. The computer assured him that all of the remaining rovers were accounted for in their bays and he did not have to worry about being attacked.

He found himself walking through a forest of antennae and other extrusions from the ship, he was looking for one of these in particular. The computer was acting as his navigator. Turn left, turn right, this much farther. He was expecting a bing followed by “You have arrived at your destination” any time now.

After walking nearly a kilometer he found himself outside of one of the biological habitats, he could see the trees and the water on the inside. It was like seeing a bubble of life in a vast, dead ocean that stretched all around him.

Then he saw Tamita inside the habitat and waved, she smiled and waved back. She smiled, Jay Johnson felt his heart flutter. She had a spectacular smile and it warmed him up.

“Your heart rate is elevated crew member Jay Johnson and you have not moved in twelve point seven seconds” the computer noted “Are you having a problem?”

“Negative” Jay answered “So, that sensor that needs replaced is around here somewhere”

“Correct. It is at the top of that tower to your left”

Jay looked and then looked up. The tower was at least ten meters off the surface of the ship, the shaft was about as thick as his arm. He could see the sensor pod at the top, he had the replacement in a satchel over his shoulder. “I can't climb that...”

The tower started retracting straight down until it was nearly at the same level as his head.

“It is a simple and routine procedure” the computer said “normally the rovers would be doing this kind of thing but right now, you are my hands”

On the way back to the hatch he stopped to peer inside of the biological habitat and saw Tamita cooking something in a pot over the traditional three stone stove. He felt hungry all of a sudden, he couldn't wait to get a taste of whatever it was she was making. Then he saw the hatch open at the far in and one of the Goth robots entered the habitat. Not even Gopher entered these habitats.

“Computer why is Goth inside the biological habitat? I never knew they could enter” he said

“They are not supposed to enter, it is forbidden” the computer said “Do you really see a ...”

Jay Johnson was already running toward the hatch he had come from, it was nearly a kilometer away but he just knew there was trouble. “Make it stop! Shut it down!”

“I am attempting to shut it down, but it is not responding”

Jay couldn't bear the thought that the square robot might hurt Tamita, he was barely getting to know her and she finally smiled at him. “Tell her to get in the water, go swimming! That thing isn't water-proof is it?”

“Negative, it is definitely not able to get into the water” the computer answered

He climbed into the hatch and shut it, it began pressurizing immediately. He took off the spacesuit and tossed the helmet. Once the inner hatch opened he knew where to go and it would send him straight up Maple Street, his nickname for the main corridor at the top that led to Biological Habitat 4. He was tired and a bit worn when he arrived, Gopher was at the hatch opening looking in.

“She is all wet” Gopher said as he ran by.

Jay ran into the habitat and saw the robot near the edge of the water, it's side facing the simulated ocean where Tamita was standing in waist-deep water.

“Are you okay?” he asked

“I guess” she said “Except that thing is trying to fry me”

The side facing her was open and the welding torch was active and another tool starting firing bolts or something into the water. It couldn't reach her and it was kind of pathetic. Jay climbed on top of it and opened the access panel.
“What is the shut down code?”

“Type in 0-1-3-2-8-0-9 “ the computer said, once he did this the tools deactivated and stowed away inside the robot and the hatch on its side closed.

“Corridor Service Module C-14 has been deactivated manually” the computer said

“I bet someone in the project sabotaged these robots” Jay Johnson said “Maybe they found out they weren't going to New Eden and decided to get some revenge”

Tamita was out of the water and standing nearby. “That was disturbing” she said “If the computer hadn't warned me, it would have electrocuted me from behind. Those things are pretty quiet”

Jay shook his head “This trip is going to take thousands of years, what are we going to do if we cannot trust these robots?”

“We can't keep going without them” Tamita said as left the habitat and into the corridor, Gopher followed them quietly “The ship and its systems would fall apart long before we reach New Eden”

The computer suggested “I can try to reinstall the programming in the rovers and the Corridor Service Modules before restarted them. Then I will reactivated one of each to assess whether they function properly”

“Can we really trust that?” Jay asked

“I will run the test as far from your location as possible” the computer said “It must be done, as you have already pointed out, we cannot proceed for long without them”

“Yes” Tamita said “It has to be done”

“If that fails, then what?” Jay asked

“Then we would need to replace the main computer in all of these robots and start from the beginning. I can, of course, manufacture new computer boards for them, but it is complicated and would take some time”

“Tamita needs some dry clothes” Jay told Gopher

“Yes sir!” it said in its happy-go-chirpy voice before taking off down the corridor, hanging from a rail on the ceiling.

“Computer, do you think there's a chance that Gopher has been compromised by whatever this is?”

After a moment the computer “Seems unlikely, it has a completely different manufacturer than the robots and the corridor service modules.”

“Is there a way to send a message to Earth about the sabotage?”

“Negative” the computer said, because this was forbidden, it did not add.

“With the way things are on Earth, there is a good chance he's being punished anyway” Jay muttered and put an arm around Tamita “You doing okay?”

“Yes” she said “A little scared, but okay”

The computer noted that the two humans were finally bonding. The circumstances and the danger was bringing them closer together. If this was normal for humans this could be useful in the future, and would be remembered. Meanwhile the Salutem Novis is about 122.8 billion kilometers from Sol but the continuous nature of ion propulsion meant that the ship is accelerating and would continue to accelerate for about 2,500 years to half the speed of light, before the ship turned around and began to slow down as planned, finally reaching New Eden.

................................

Click Here For Chapter Seven!

If you like this on-going story about the 6,000 mission of the Salutem Novis you might also like my ebook NEW ARRIVALS  Buying my book helps me keep writing science fiction and other stories. If you are a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited or Prime, you can read the e-book for free.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: The Backworlds

The Backworlds by M Pax is a free novel, not a novella, that launches a series set in a very colorful and entertaining universe. The aliens are very different from those seen on TV and in movies, they are all real characters. It's not a new book, but I just read it and that's why I am reviewing it.

You will want to continue reading into the series. This is a very entertaining book, I will be reading the second book, Stopover at the Backworlds Edge, soon enough, it was free when I signed up for the authors' newsletter.

Stories on my Blog


I am happy to post short stories and stories like Lonely Space on my blog, even though I do have a book for sale. I would not want people who did not like the way I write to waste their money buying my book.

If you like stories like Lonely Space and The Proper Care & Feeding of a Gort, please consider supporting my efforts by buying New Arrivals. This will help me continue to write and feed the dog. Just kidding about feeding the dog.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Star Wanderers: Outworlder

Star Wanderers: Outworlder is a short FREE novelette of about 15,000 words by Joe Vasicek, it is the first of a series (or more than series if you count the Gaia Nova series). It has been around a little while and is quite well-polished, the world-building is fantastic and well-thought out. It could easily be a never-ending series based on such a rich universe.

Outworlder tells the story of how Jeremiah and Noemi met, if you can call how they were thrown together "meeting" and how they came to terms with each other on such a small vessel.

The first one is free but you will need to buy the rest of the series to get the whole story. Cruel but that is life.

Lonely Space - Chapter Five (Stirring)

 Start from Chapter One

 

Chapter Five

Stirring


“The ship can do anything for us” Jay Johnson told Tamita “It makes our food, tailors our clothes, can even operate on us if we need it”. She was now dressed in the same khaki slacks and shirt that Jay Johnson was wearing.

“I read the brochure too” she responded, sitting at a table next to a big device. “Okay, computer, give me groundnut stew with some cassava bread”

Gopher took off quickly and left the room.

“Where's it going?” she asked

“To get your food of course” Jay told her, sitting across the table from her.

She looked at him like he had lost his mind. “It can do it that quickly? Make something like that?”

Jay nodded. “It can make a hamburger as fast as any odd or rare dish you can think of. I've been here a while, I have seen many things. When they built this ship they were prepared for almost anything to happen to it on the voyage, it can repair or make any part it might need. It is quite impressive”

She shook her head “It was all in the manual, but it's still hard to believe”

“This ship is huge, its miles long and wide and a mile deep, at least” he told her “I haven't even explored half of it”

“So why are we here exactly? Does the computer need us for anything? Are we supposed to learn how to repair things? Make space walks? I don't get why it needs to have humans alive and walking around” she asked “It doesn't make sense”

He shrugged “I never had to do any of those things. I'm not really sure why it needs one... or two of us to be out of suspension, but it has to abide by the rules that were made for it”

Gopher entered the room with a tray and laid it on the table in front of Tamita, her eyes widened just looking through the transparent dome over the food. “This looks exactly like it should”

She took off the top and took a big spoonful and a smile crossed her face. “Like a taste of home” she said “This is fascinating”. She continued with her meal, seeming to enjoy it for a while but by the end she was looking sad again.

“Homesick?” Jay asked, she nodded. “I know how that feels... let me show you something that might help a little.”

She followed him through the corridors before noticing something, “Hey”. She stopped and went to look at something on the wall. A rough scribble outline of a man hunting an antelope. “Did you draw this?”

“My cave art phase” he acknowledged “Not my best work but it catches the eye”

“The computer doesn't mind you drawing on the walls? I wonder why it lets you do this?” she asked, he just shrugged. Then he waved for her to follow and soon they entered one of the biological habitats, this one was very large, 16 acres, but half of that was a simulated ocean.

“How could we make this more like your country, so you'd feel more at home?” Jay asked while chasing a small rabbit through some tall grass, but it ran into a wooded area and lost him.

“We would have to build some dirty, crowded slums” she answered

“No, no, no” he said, putting his hands on his hips “The part of your country that might be on a postcard or something, the good parts”

She shook her head “I don't know, I'll think of something later. I guess the markets where the women sell the gara cloth and all sorts of foods and spices would be one of the most idyllic”

“The computer could make you some traditional clothing from your country, if you would like to wear things like that” he told her, trying to find something that would interest her. She was just sitting on a rock looking at the roiling dust clouds and stars through the transparent top of the habitat. “I wonder when sunlight will ever pour through it again?” she asked.

“Crew member Jay Johnson” The main computer intoned “I require your presence on the bridge”

“That's a new one” he said, then he looked at Tamita who was still sitting in the grass and now watching the tides on the simulated 8-acre ocean “Are you coming?”

“No” she said lightly “Unless the computer needs me to do something”

“Okay” Jay said heading toward the hatch “You know the way home, right?”

“Home?” she said to herself, just waving her arm for him to go.

Once on the bridge he looked around, it was as dark and quiet as usual. “What is it? Why do you need me?”

The computer answered “A rover failed to respond to inquiries, it was on the exterior of the ship. Then its beacon vanished and I could no longer track it. I launched a drone to fly to the location and I found damage, here is an image of the damaged area”

Jay looked closely, then he shook his head “That wasn't done by a rock or anything”

In fact it looked like someone or something had been removing panels and shielding from the ship, he wondered if the rover had gone rogue. “The rover must have malfunctioned” he said “It can happen”

The computer responded “I considered this. I checked the logs and there is no sign at all that any of its programming was damaged or altered. I have deactivated the rovers until my investigation into this is complete, the drones cannot do the work either. I need you to go out there”

“Me?” he asked, then looked at the holographic display again “You want me to go out there?”

The computer turned off the holograph. “I need you to assess the damage, it looks like everything under the paneling is intact. I just require you to put the panels back.”

After years of being asked to do nothing Jay almost felt like a freeloader for a second until he remembered he didn't want to be there. He wanted to still be in cryogenic suspension so that he could someday step foot on New Eden like he was promised. He threw his hands in the air “Whatever, where do I need to go”

“Section B, deck 80” the computer said

Jay thought for a second “That's the underside of the ship? On the bottom”

“There is no up or down in space, Jay Johnson” the computer said “There will be artificial gravity during your excursion, it will almost be a normal walk”

He took the lift all the way to the lowest deck and then moved to B section, near the front of the ship as far as he concerned. He wondered if the computer would argue that there was not really a front either. Soon he was at a ready room, spacesuits in transparent lockers covered the walls. The computer directed him to a spacesuit that would fit and instructed him on putting it on.

When Jay and the computer were both sure the suit was on correctly and the life support system in the small backpack was functioning he entered the airlock. He could hear the air being sucked out of the chamber and then as he watched an exterior door swung open.

“First you must pass the green line and then walk up the wall and stand on the ceiling before exiting” the computer said. He found the green line, about two foot deep, it went up a wall and onto the ceiling above him. It wasn't a natural thing to do but this is how one walked onto the bottom of a deep-space vessel, or something.

“I'm upside down, on the ceiling now, I'm going out now” he told the computer but got no response, so he just walked through the exit. He was on the outside of the vessel, looking side to side he couldn't see the edges, but space was everywhere when he looked above the horizon.

“Which way?”

“Straight ahead” the computer said “You might be able to see the drone floating around soon”

He kept walking, which surprisingly felt like walking anywhere on Earth or inside the ship, because of the artificial gravity. It was still a little dark and he had to pass through a forest of domes, squares, antennae forests and other things.

Then he stopped. He had seen something moving amongst the surface blisters. “Computer, are you sure you cannot track that rover?”

“Affirmative” it said “Why do you ask?”

“I thought I saw something moving to my right” Jay answered “Maybe your drone is looking in the wrong area”

“I am ordering the drone to search the area around you again”

He continued to walk, but he was wary. Something felt very wrong, there were chills running up his spine. He saw the drone fly over but it didn't make him feel any better. Just keep walking, he thought to himself. Then there was a small clearing and the missing panels, this was the right place.

“Do I need tools?” he asked

“Negative. Once the panel is positioned properly it should do the rest” the computer said, Jay shook his head, even the bolts were high-tech. Wonders never ceased. He picked up the first red panel, it was taller and wider than he was but it felt very light. Once he laid it on the opening and pushed it flush with the panel next to it, he saw it lock into place, moving inward a bit when tightened.

“Are you sure the drones couldn't do this?” he asked “Seems too easy”

“Drones have no hands “ the computer said “Try to hurry”

That was alarming, he stopped what he was doing and looked around“What do you mean, what's happening?”

As if to answer his question a drone flew over and then hovered in the clearing but at 15 feet up and it spun around to face the way it had come. Then he saw something else come around the corner quickly and pounce into the air and grab the drone, pulling it down to the surface and smashing it into the ground. The rover was a big mechanical tiger and it was now looking right at Jay.

“Oh give me a break”

He backed up, holding one side of a panel up, the other touching the ground. Maybe he could use it as a shield, for all the good that would do. Then the rover dived right onto it and it slipped out of his hands, it was now flat on the ground with a mechanical beast on top of it.

“I suppose running would be pointless” Jay said, to nobody in particular.

“Reach into the exposed area and grab a wire or a pipe” the main computer said into his ear-piece “try to do that quickly”

He dropped down and grabbed whatever was handy. He looked to see the rover launching itself towards him, but then another drone slammed into the airborne rover, at the same time Jay felt his feet and then his body raise off the ground. “Whoa”

When he looked back up he could see the rover tumbling through the sky, drifting away from the ship with a broken drone nearby. The other busted drone and panels were hovering a foot or two above the ground. Then everything fell to the surface at the same time.

“The threat has been eliminated” the computer said “You can finish with the panels now”

“How did that happen?” Jay asked standing up and examining his suit.

“The impact of the drone just as the artificial gravity was disengaged flung it into space, where it cannot threaten you” the computer said.

“I meant, how did that thing go nuts in the first place. You said you examined its logs and found nothing, so what is up with that?”


Jay Johnson was angry again, the computer noted. This instance would be added to the study logs along with the other 562 times the computer had noted anger from him. He had his companion, but so far this was not an improvement in his personality or function. More study would be required.

................

LINK TO CHAPTER SIX

If you have Kindle Unlimited or a Prime membership you can borrow my first ebook, NEW ARRIVALS, for free. It would certainly help me out a lot.