Sunday, January 31, 2016

Short Story: Tyrants


A short story

The well-dressed man entered her office. He was over six feet tall and very broad, his size alone could intimidate weaker people. His past would have strong people quaking in their boots to be in the same room.

He came alone, without his guards. His smile was one of confidence, telegraphing his feeling that nobody could stop him. Because no one had stopped him, they had hardly even slowed him down while he was taking over the world.

The Massacre at Munich, Butcher of Boston, Wrecking of Russia... the list goes on and on. Now the world bowed to him. All except this small region. This small region of the world, a paradise amidst the carnage, belonged to her.

The not-yet fifty man ruled the world with an iron fist. He murdered dissenters with the ease of swatting a fly. Now he was here, to take over the last bit of Earth he didn't control. She was older than him but hardly looked her age.

“Madam Chairman.” He addressed her as they did in her cabinet meetings. “You know why I'm here, why delay the inevitable?”

She smiled.

“The answer has not changed. My nation is sovereign and independent.” She gave the normal and expected answer.

“Yes, yes, yes... you have put up quite the show for your people. Now the game is over. My forces surround your tiny nation, my troops outnumber your whole population. Why insist on total ruin? Intact, your province will be the economic engine of the whole planet.” He told her, “That would be quite a legacy for you.”

Legacy. Of course he had no intention of leaving her in charge, or alive for that matter. It wasn't his style.

“Would you like some tea?” She asked calmly.

“I didn't come here for tea, lady. I came to give you one last chance to keep your people from wholesale slaughter. War is hell. Why subject them to it?” he told her, “It's completely avoidable. You love your people, you can save them without this selfish demand to live.”

She folded her hands together on the top of her desk and smiled again. “I'm sorry, Guardian, if I have given you the impression that I am afraid to die. I am not. I am not afraid of you and your threats or your armies.”

He looked lost. He was flabbergasted that she would be so defiant.

“Your armies have no chance of victory. You have no power here.” She told him. His brow furrowed and he looked at his hands for confirmation.

She smiled, this time she did not look like a pretty woman or the schoolmarm she appeared to be in the media. This time she looked as if she had fangs.

“Yes, your powers are nullified here.” She told him. “Mine are impenetrable.”

The man who ruled the rest of the world pushed himself up from the leather couch as if he would run to the exit or attack her. She simply waved a hand in the air and he fell down on the couch breaking some of the wood inside.

“Did you really need the whole world?” She asked standing up for the first time. Walking around the desk she eyed him like a hawk. “You allowed your arrogance and narcissism to control you and this is where you ended up. You are like the fly who took the dare to land on the spider web.”

“Please. I can call off the armies. We can rule the world together.” He tried to plead.

She laughed. “Why do I need you to rule the world? Once you are dead, the world will rejoice. If you haven't noticed, I am beloved by my people. Now the whole world will obey me the same way, because I will be the ruler you could never be.”

“Please don't!” He begged as her hands began glowing a bright blue.

“Mama spider takes care of her young.” Madam Chairman said before a bright blue flash erupted from her hands and made the tyrant of the world vanish.

She exited the office and then the building, finding the personal guards of the tyrant.

“He's dead.” She told them, “Tell your people they are free. Tell them I can help repair and heal the world now that the tyrant is gone.”

The heavily armed and armored guards looked at each other. Even in their nine-foot powered armor suits they looked a bit scared.

“Yes, madam.” One of them answer and then both blasted into the sky and flew away.

After patiently waiting for the fool to consolidate his rule, he had finally given her the chance she needed. She had known he would come eventually. His powers had made him famous, then a hero then a villain and finally a tyrant.

“I won't make those kinds of mistakes.” She told herself. Then she decided to pretty herself up before addressing the media about her victory over the tyrant. There were billions of people who were going to want to hear her speak. She didn't plan to let them down.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Idea: Government agency responsible for rebellion...

Just an idea I had, it doesn't really fit into any stories... yet. What if there was an agency of government responsible for inciting dissent and leading an occasional rebellion?

Planet Avenia

As the United Assembly gathered in the capitol city for their second legislative session of the year, the one where they proffer and debate which laws to repeal instead of ones to pass, another agency of the government kept a close eye on the proceedings.

Director of Dissent and Reset (DODAR), Maxwell Donovan, read the reports from the various faction leaders with a grim look on his face. “This is pathetic.” He muttered, tapping the flat screen he held to change the page. “This is peanuts.”

As expected, well into the second decade of the sixth republic it was happening again. The elected officials were becoming used to corruption and misgovernment. “Is there no faction that wants to repeal the Expansion Act? Is there no leader who wants to repeal the Extirpation Clause?”

These and other acts had been completely unconstitutional but they had become law anyway, but unlike previous years the opposition wasn't riling up the populace and introducing them for repeal. It was as if those critical of the misuse of government power had given up to those who wanted to abuse their power.

He dropped the tablet computer onto the desk with a look of disgust. People never seemed to learn their lesson. People never failed to try and vote themselves more giveaways and handouts despite this not being one of the powers of government.

Maxwell rubbed his face with both palms. Not even two decades into this republic and it looked like the time to yank the rope had come. Human nature never changed, that was why the DODAR existed in the first place. Even though his organization had been writing and issuing dissenting opinions, articles and fact sheets, the majority nevertheless felt pulled to those offering a fantasy of something for nothing.

A century after this world was colonized and he would have to pull the plug on it's sixth republic. The whole stinking business had to go. It was not a good feeling to see the people of his own world so corrupt and greedy that they'd toss aside their reasoning and sanity when someone promises them the sky.

Maxwell Donovan then unlocked another drawer on his desk and pulled out a binder of paper documents. These were the files of individuals who were potential revolutionaries. He would have to choose one of these people and convince them to wage a rebellion against the sixth republic. To clean the slate and let the people of Avenia start all over with a seventh republic.

The Department of Dissent and Reset was not a well-known agency of government, but it was a very important one. It's main duties were to release dissenting opinions, criticism of government acts especially those not within their specified powers and duties and occasionally, when times warranted, touch off a rebellion.

Maxwell just needed to decide who was the right person for the job of leading a rebellion, or “reset” as they officially called it within DODAR.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sepia Seven

Sepia Seven

by Floyd Looney

Wrapped in blankets, huddled in the chair of the communications station on the bridge Claire thought about the events that left her stranded aboard this derelict ship. The small light from above the terminal the only illumination was a small comfort as she felt the cold creep ever deeper.

She wipes condensation from the only working screen at the work station with her gloved hand. The liquid quickly froze into ice crystals and fell to the floor.

“Is there really no one out there at all?” Claire wondered to herself. Her mayday signal had been repeating for days and there had been no response. It made sense that another ship wouldn't hear her plea for salvation, this was the frontier after all.

She could see the dim blue light of a world called Sepia 7 coming through one of the portholes. Claire knew that her last, desperate chance was using one of the escape pods and trying to reach the research station there. Not that it would be any better than dying on the ship, but it was a human thing to try something, anything even if it was reaching for phantom straws.

“My name is Claire Austin. I am the Junior Communications Officer aboard the frigate Independence. The ship is a wreck, the rest of the crew are dead. I am officially invoking the First Law and declaring an emergency, I request assistance...”

They are all dead. Some of them died trying to escape, because even the pods are hardly capable of miracles. Claire had lost compatriots, friends and Harley. Her feelings for that man were complicated but he had died like a hero. That had been a week ago, but it felt like a year. Harley had pushed a Junior Engineer into an escape pod, when he could have taken it for himself.

Instead he had fought off the nightmare long enough for the younger man to escape. The creatures outer shell disintegrated into a million tiny fragments, and these fragments had moved from the alien and onto Harley as they fought. These fragments had eaten Harley alive but they left the rest of his body alone when the end finally came.

Claire had to dispose of the body later. It had been the hardest thing she had done since saying goodbye to her father at his funeral service. Harley had been so big and strong, it was hard to imagine that anyone or anything could have done that. This alien thing had come aboard and ransacked the place, killed the crew and left again.

Claire saw no rhyme or reason as to what had happened. Harley had locked her into a maintenance shaft when it looked bad. It was cramped and the vents in front of her brought her air but also enough of a view of the corridor to see what happened.

Later, Claire pieced together what happened from the security footage and sensors. About ten people, a quarter of the crew, had escaped in pods. The sensors showed what had happened to most of them, Claire could not fathom it but the aliens had destroyed the escape pods. The rest were butchered in the corridors while fighting, some were killed as they slept in their bunks.

Most of the crew had been issued arms to fight the intruder, but this proved futile. The aliens swept through the frigate like ghostly invasion force. The weapons had been useless, but the aliens did not respect mercy, they loathed it.

“Sepia Seven.” The Captain had informed them. “It is cold and pretty inhospitable but there is a more or less breathable atmosphere and water ice. Neither of these are exactly pure, of course.”

The research station had been abandoned years ago, but some of the automated systems were still operating. There is an occasional vessel to download the research and logs, but also to check up on the conditions of the research station in case it was needed in an emergency.

Now, Claire was alone. The ships internal batteries were nearly drained, the last escape pod was waiting for her. It was so cold she wondered if the atmosphere inside the ship could freeze solid before she realized she'd be dead long before that question could be answered.

Even if she managed to reach Sepia Seven alive with an intact escape pod, there was little chance she could survive there. It was a lifeless frozen world normally covered by a blanket of blizzard. Claire had spent less than 10-minutes looking at and listening to a short lecture on the escape pods when she joined the crew of the Independence, three years ago.

It would be three miracles if she managed to crash land anywhere near the research station. She barely knew how to pilot the escape pod. Putting a space suit on before entering the pod would be pointless, there weren't any suits. There hadn't been enough for anywhere near a majority of the crew. The ISTAR had been pinching pennies when they supplied their ships, apparently.

Claire unbuckled the seat harness that kept her from floating around the cabin. She kicked off from the seat and floated through the bridge where the open hatch beckoned her to the escape pod. Looking back at the communications station, she felt home sick already. Saying goodbye was hard, but this ship was already dead. She pushed herself through the short tunnel and found herself inside of the escape capsule.

It was tiny. There was barely enough room for her to push herself into the seat and strap in. Claire couldn't imagine trying to get into the seat wearing a uniform. She flipped the three buttons that were supposed to use battery power to warm up the control panel.

Less than twelve percent remained in the batteries. Claire did not know if she could survive a trip to Sepia Seven. She could not determine if the life support system was working at all. It had just enough fuel to launch itself toward the nearby world, but there wouldn't be any course corrections.

It was no time to do an inspection, Claire decided, whatever else was in the capsule-shaped escape pod could wait. It was time to leave.

The computer panel was warmed up and seemed to be operating normally. Step One, release the docking magnetic clamps.

*Shnak* The immediate sensation is relief. Claire noticed the lack of vibration, everything was deathly silent. The pod drifted away from Independence as she watched through the porthole. She was seeing first hand that there was a real cloud of debris surrounding the frigate.

The frigate looked like a cylinder in space. The Independence was once a proud vessel but now it looked like a tin can without its tuna.

Claire reached out and wiped the condensation from the porthole in front of her as every breath blasted out a white cloud. She should be breathing through her nose, but it was something that she never spent much time thinking about before.

The computer was working after she rubbed off the crusting ice from the its screen. There was also ice forming on the porthole in front of her. Sepia Seven was the nearest planet so it was already listed as a possible destination. She tapped that option before trying to find out about the capsules life support. It's power levels were too drained to turn on whatever heaters it might have, though.

She felt the kick of acceleration after the pod had reoriented itself. In a matter of hours she would be on the surface of a frozen planet. As if that would really be much of an improvement in the grand scheme of things. Still, Claire wanted to live. No matter how far-fetched it sounded, she would do whatever she could.

Claire wrapped up tighter in the blankets. She had time to review everything she knew about the blue orb. It was too far from the parent star to receive much heat or light, even at noon it was like early daybreak back on Earth. It was bitterly cold, always. The air was breathable and the snow was made of water ice and this meant it had some small potential for human settlement.

The aliens may have their own base there, though. It was right in the border area, which was a wide swath on the star maps. Alien territory had never been truly defined, it's not like they talk to us. For all we know the aliens were just xenocidal killers.

“Find the beacon.” Claire said to herself as the computer continued to search for the site of the abandoned research station. There was no telling how much power this was using from the near-dead batteries, but at least it was a passive scan.

The condensation was freezing on the surfaces even faster than it had aboard the Independence, already there was ice covering the portholes. Since the engines had cut out a while ago, Claire found herself drifting off to sleep. It was cold, quiet and dark and being wrapped in blankets brought back memories of her childhood winters when the whole family slept in late.

Humans hadn't expected to find another space-faring civilization. After colonizing and exploring two hundred solar system, most people decided that we must be alone in the galaxy. The first human vessels to be attacked hadn't known what hit them, they had been totally unprepared.

Even after the slaughters became known there were politicians fighting against arming our ships and building a military space fleet. They wanted to reach out to the aliens with love and kindness and they had a majority in the Inter-Star Assembly. So a mission was devised in which a vessel with only a few occupants, broadcasting messages of peace and kindness was sent toward the area where attacks had taken place.

The twisted hulk of the vessel was found months later drifting in the outskirts of what would be seen as a “gray zone”, or a border area. The insides of the ship had been ripped apart but they missed a deeply embedded back-up hard drive where security footage and logs were saved.

It had been a total slaughter. The aliens didn't even bother treating the humans as enemies or even animals. They were much more brutal than that.

The footage was kept secret for months by the High Commissioner until the massacre of a small colony shocked the human species to its core. There was nothing the authorities could do to cover it up or explain it away. These aliens were treating humans as if we were ants. You couldn't reason or even communicate with these monsters.

Claire awoke with a start. The interior of the escape pod was covered with ice now but a faint blue glow permeated. Sepia Seven was close. She scraped ice off of the computer monitor and found that she was in orbit but that the computer had chosen a landing site and would fire engines in a braking maneuver within a few minutes.

Perhaps the computer had located the stations' beacon below. The thought was barely enough to make her feel a little better. When the braking maneuver took place Claire had the dreaded feeling that this was all going a little too smoothly under the circumstances. The escape pod could land in the middle of a frozen desert, perhaps once an ocean. Or the mountains, which would be a disaster.

No. She had to believe in something, waste no time worrying about what-ifs. She steeled herself for the worst while hoping for the best. Just trying to tell herself to push away all the negative thoughts.

Suddenly the escape pod buffeted and shook. The light blue glow from outside had hints of orange and the sheet of ice on the surfaces started melting. Claire imagined that she had a miles-long streak of fire following her entry. If there were aliens down there... She shook her head. Just stop.

Strangely, Claire did not feel any heat or warmth even though the ice was melting. She felt the escape pod falling now. The sensation on her stomach was very uncomfortable, as if her stomach was trying to flee. As suddenly as it started it ended, she heard the para-wing chute open and felt relief. She breathed the cold air in deeply, having held her breath before.

The monitor said that the estimated landing site was less than 3 miles from the research station, but the location look wrong on a topographical map that it displayed. As she tried to figure out what was wrong with the display, it went blank. The last of the power in the battery must be dead. The altitude reading had said that she was 1,000 meters up when it had went blank.

Claire closed her eyes and then looked at the porthole, a part of it was ice free and she could see a large black eye looking in at her. Scared, she closed her eyes, holding in a scream. When she opened her eyes it was gone. Now she was seeing things. A few minutes from being on the surface and she was already losing it. Great.

“From here on out the readings will be useless.” Grantor complained. “We'll have to start the simulation all over again.”

His associate looked disapproving. “This one has already been through the analyzer more than fifteen times, I am afraid it has outlived its usefulness to our purposes.”

“It's probably already been corrupted enough. It's memories are not intact and reactions to stimuli are no longer valid. Some of the other specimens have proved much more valuable.”

The associate grimaced and sighed, “Dispose of this one, we have others.”

Claire opened her eyes again. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

The crew had not been slaughtered when the aliens invaded. They had been fitted with mental control collars. The aliens rushed them and placed the devices on their heads, her memory now showed. As soon as this happened the crew members were out of it and were dragged off by the aliens.

The escape pods had not been destroyed as they fled. They had been captured.

Claire realized her own memories had been compromised. All of the strange thoughts and feelings, how many had come from others? No. They were all hers. As if she had been through the same ordeal many times.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Things interfere...

I'm working on a short story. I just sort of lost the plot.

I'm also trying to figure out Blender 3d. I'm not very artistic as you can see, I downloaded these free models to play with. Yes, that is my new space submarine. lol.

Monday, January 11, 2016

computer problems

I'll be writing again in no time. Lost some stuff, but I'll try not to cry too much. :p

Friday, January 8, 2016

Life & Death in Outer Space

Life & Death in Outer Space

 by Floyd Looney

The suit was so heavy and bulky that Lydia couldn't hope to move much. The grounds crew used a crane to lift her and the other pilots into their fighter ships. The Predator-class fighter ships would accompany a swarm of drone fighters to overwhelm the enemy forces. Life, death.

“The enemy comes through a portal from another universe or another part of this one. We know they aren't from this galaxy.” The Admiral said. After fighting the aliens for a decade, all of the humans alive knew about this already. Every human on every colony was affected by this nightmare. So many had suffered and died already. Life, death.

“We have pinpointed the gateway.” The Admiral told the assembled fighters aboard the conference room of the Determination carrier. The Determination was the core ship of the flotilla, Regatta One.

Regatta One had a single purpose: destroy the gateway.

Life, death.

Lydia did fine in training and in the simulations, but she had never faced actual combat. This was to be her first combat deployment. If they succeeded, this could be the last one for any of them. The aliens had killed her father in the first engagement of this war, and now she might close the book. Life, death.

Lydia had argued with the Air Boss. He had not wanted to send her. “Keeping you in reserve.” was his excuse. That was not the real reason, they both knew it. Marcus Russell had fallen in love with her, despite not being able to admit it. Over the past six months Lydia had developed similar feelings for him.

Still, he wasn't going to keep her locked away for safety.

“I'm a pilot.” She had told him, “This is the reason I'm here.”

That last part might have come across wrong. She wondered if he had heard it as “You're not the reason I'm here.”

Marcus had relented, but looked wounded. She would have to make up for that. Lydia had not led him on but she had never given him reason to doubt her before. Months ago he had confessed, in some empty compartment where no-one could hear.

“I know we are in no position for allowing our feelings to get in the way.” He had said, she had remained stone-faced through his whole gut-wrenching admission. “I know we can't openly admit it right now. Just tell me off or something if you don't have these feelings.”

Lydia didn't say anything. That had allowed Marcus to retain his hopes. The idea that this war might soon be over gave her butterflies. The idea of fighting was less stressful than allowing Marcus to think she had changed her mind. Life, death.

“Shark Squadron.” She heard his voice over the com. “You will launch after Manta Squadron. Form up in  quadrant four.”

This was all programmed into the ship computers.

“Shark Three.” Lydia heard his voice on the ship-to-ship frequency. “Make sure you come back.”

“Definitely.” She responded.

Her ship was pulled by the robotic mule toward one of the launch chutes. These were actually large airlocks that lined the wall of the carrier deck. Manta Squadron and their black spaded emblem were already being positioned inside the chutes.

Lydia checked over everything again. The life-support system of the ship, check, the life support system of the suit, check, the engines, weapons, navigation system and the whole list was nominal. Life and death. One coin with two sides.

“Check in.” She heard Shark Leader say. Shark Two announced “Shark Two, ready.”

“Shark Three, ready.” she followed and the others came after.

“Is this the meaning of life?” Some student had asked at the Academy. “We spend all our effort at building life support systems inside death machines. Something dies so that we live. Plants and animals die, so that we might live. If we didn't have aliens, we'd kill each other. So, is this the purpose of life?”

Lydia had wondered the same thing, but only on a background level. Suddenly it seemed to be a very immediate kind of thing to think about. Manta Squadron had launched and the inner doors of the chutes were opening, she was being pulled inside by the robot mule. Things outside got dark when the inner hatch closed, of course her sensors and HUD worked properly, she knew where all of the ships were. She wasn't dead or lost in some void.

Life, death.

“Launch in 3.....2....”

The outer hatch opened and she was thrown into space as if the Determination had sneezed her out. Outside she saw the rest of Shark squadron had been similarly ejected.

“Okay, fall in on me.” Shark Leader said. Lydia turned the control sticks and the whole flight turned in unison and joined up in formation with their leader. They followed him to the holding area where they would wait for the other squadrons to join them before the mission could get under way.

The Predator-class fighter ships were big but even at a kilometer from the Determination it dwarfed the fighters. The other ships of Regatta One had spread out for this operation, but she imagined them pouring out the unmanned drone fighters that made up the first wave of any attack.

Somewhere on the desolate planet below there was a gateway to somewhere else. Aliens had come from there and sought to eradicate our kind. We need to find it and destroy it, although we don't know what it looks like or how big it is. Somehow we will know it when we see it.

“We have been detected.” A voice announced, “Took long enough.”

From the surface of the world below came readings of a multitude of small launchings. Missiles. It seemed a bit outdated to launch a missile from the surface, a waste of energy if no other reason. The weapons on the Determination would take out most of these missiles without much problem.

“Launching drone fleets now.” The voice kept the fighter pilots informed but without much detail it only made them more worried. At least that is the effect it had on Lydia. They could not see the inbound missiles, they could not see the energy weapons on the vessels of Regatta One firing to destroy the missiles. Except on their monitors.

“I feel like a spectator.” Shark Five said over the Squadron com.

“More like a couch potato watching from home.” Some else corrected him.

“We could just nuke it from orbit.” She heard Shark Six say. Six was the only other female in the squad of eight.

“That would take the fun out of it.” Two answered. “I think they want to know more about the gateway before it gets destroyed. At least to make sure it is really here.”

Of course it's there. This planet was half the size of the home world but it was showing a gravity well as deep as any gas giant you could name. It had to be caused by the gateway, nothing else made sense.

The first wave of incoming missiles hadn't got near them. The outbound drones screamed toward the planet along with the Shaker missiles launched from Regatta One. These missiles would impact the surface and cause quakes to damage underground military facilities. Lydia had seem aerial footage of the shockwaves these things caused, it was scary to see.

Of course Lydia was high above it and unable to see anything in person. She would have to wait her turn to participate in this battle.

“Archer Squadron, Dragon Squadron, Growler Squadron... initiate attack run.” The disembodied voice ordered.

“Okay. We'll be going any minute now.” Shark Leader told them. “You know the routine.”

Life, death. In that order. Routine.

When the student had asked that question about the meaning or purpose of life, the Professor smiled and answered, “When you can answer the question, you will be ready for living your life.”

Were none of them living their lives now? Did this not count?

Marcus. Lydia loved him but she had never said so. She had never told him different, and that was also an answer. Sort of. Maybe Marcus was the meaning of her life. Maybe killing aliens and avenging her father were not the purpose of life.

“Shark Squadron, initiate attack as planned.” The voice ordered.

Not everything you do or want in life is some grand thing. Maybe even this war was meaningless in the grandest scheme of things.

“Let's go.” Shark leader said. Lydia gripped the controls and tilted the left one inward. The fighter ships flipped over and dived toward the barren planet below.

Some die, others live. Many never ask why.

End of part one.


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