Category Archives: Writing

A Beginning

In the beginning, there was darkness.

What comes next is a point of contention.

Some believe that a being of great power came and started creating everything. That our universe emerged from the mind of a Being beyond our comprehension and made all we know. That our universe is less scientific construct and more artistic expression.

This Maker proceeded to create planets, stars, galaxies, life in infinite combinations. And while many worlds may exist similar to our own, we can only see the small planet we reside on.

In one book we believe that this Maker created us in his image. And in this way we are as The Maker was. We see and create. Dream and Nightmare.

For is not the power to imagine and create not the province of a Maker of world?

The Match

History is a lesson in cycles. The cycle repeats over and over again. Civilizations, nations, republics, empires rise and fall. One group dominates another, some try to co-exist, war is followed by peace, expansion is followed by decline. Some people fight it, some welcome it, and others just try to get by.

Whatever the spark had been, it didn’t really matter at this point. Things were falling apart, and while some were using it as an excuse to attack people they hated for even the pettiest of reasons, others were doing their best to bring some order back. We couldn’t stop it from falling apart, but we could try to put it back together.

It all started with one black guy getting taken down. Nothing out of the ordinary, guy had a record big as I was tall. He resisted arrest, attacked both an officer and an elderly woman who was just trying to get some food for her cat. The arresting officer took him down, maybe with a bit more force than usual, but that’s how it goes.

It’s happened before, no one cared about how many people this guy had hurt, or stolen from, or even if he’d almost killed them. He got a booboo when he was taken in so they started screaming about brutality. Protested in the middle of the city. Happens almost all the time it seems these days.

This time though, someone had the bright idea of showing the protestors their place. It was a massacre. Almost a hundred dead, hundreds more maimed and seriously injured. The match had been lit, and it didn’t stop burning until it hit the fuse. Now the bomb was set to blow.

And blow it did. Now the city is in a full on race war. People, just living their lives now having to run in fear, hide from one side or the other. You look white, one side kills you. You look like a criminal, the other side lynches you for “justice.”

The churches, synagogues, and mosques have become refuges for the innocent looking to get out of the firing line. Entire lives burned to ash for the simple crime of not being the same as the arsonist who lit the flame. We aren’t getting any help from the state, or the Feds. It’s on us to go out there and try and bring order to the city.

The Mayor tried to tell us to stand down, to let it burn itself out. The problem is that it’s not. It’s only getting worse. Our duty is to the people, not the politicians, or the ideologies at play here. We’ve got our gear, our guns, and our duty.

Protect and Serve.

May God have mercy on us all.

Hills

We had been riding for days across flat land as far as the eye could see, there were barely any trees, and wild herds of bison roamed without any other real concern as we moved along the land. It had been rather dull really, seeing nothing but grass waving in the breeze as far as the eye could see, but it also made it easier to see any bandits that might cause us any problems along our journey.

It was early spring, the temperature across the plains of Texas had been pleasant enough. The sun not too harsh just yet in the season. Though to be fair the trip from Dallas to Fort Worth had not been to difficult with the mostly flat landscape our horses had to cover. But we were heading towards the south southwest now, towards Granbury. It was just as we were reaching the top of one particularly large rise when we saw it. Spread out for miles in every direction.

Hills and trees covering the whole land. The expanse of country before us seemed to go on forever. Patches of Dark Green blowing in the wind with the lighter grass flowing around like waves on the ocean. We couldn’t help but take a moment to just appreciate this view of God’s creation before continuing on to Granbury.

Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come.

Quick Story

So I’m once again just writing short blog posts every day as I can. I’m trying to get into a rhythm where I create new content and tweet short lines every day as much as I can. Part of the thing that has held me back is that I have problems creating new stuff. I write but I get nowhere sometimes.

I figured I might be well served in just writing out a thought, no real structure or plot line, just a line of thought where I start at something and go from there.

So let us go check the Reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts page and we get this one.

Write the thoughts of a guilty man on death row as he finishes his last meal.


“They denied the appeal, I’m trying to convince the Governor to grant a stay, but it’s not looking good.”

So, this is what it comes down to. A lawyer who was assigned to my case the only one fighting for me. Even now, at the end, he’s still fighting. I have to admire his dedication. Frankly I had given up hope long ago. Not because I thought it was useless, that I was going to be railroaded and executed for a crime I didn’t commit.

I am guilty.

I killed that bastard. He had murdered and raped so many women and children. But because he was never caught, never suspected, always clean, I was the one looked at as the criminal. I ended his life, but due to the fact I had hunted him, found him, and had evidence convicting him it was assumed I was the one guilty of his crimes. And you know what, I can live with that… or in this case die with that.

I know what I did, and what he did. And if it gives his victims some comfort to look at me, damn me, and watch me die than so be it. I don’t have anything worth living for in this world anymore. That animal saw to it.

They even kicked in a hate crime charge because that psychopath was black. I kill a rapist and murder of women and children and I’m guilty of a hate crime.

They aren’t wrong. Ever since he took my little Amelia away from me I’ve had nothing but hate in my heart. It was all that sustained me through the long pursuit. Even now, especially now it’s all I have in my heart. My hatred is not turned towards those who convicted me, or him though.

It is turned towards myself.

I went down that dark road of revenge, or hatred and rage. I will pay for it with my soul. The Priest will be by soon to offer me some comfort before the end. I am not a religious man, but I think, for once, I might ask for something.

The priest is here, the time has come.

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

The Terran Confederation – An Introduction

 

The colonization of space. For decades it had been the subject of scientific debate and writers trying to visualize the future. A future where humanity would either join a community of species bound together in peace, or beset by constant warfare. A galaxy either teaming with life, or bereft of it everywhere but our home. At first, intelligence wasn’t the important qualifier of a world. Just that it had some kind of life on it.

The first ships were generational, the times expected to reach another star system so extreme that the original crew would have been long dead before even reaching a fraction of the distance. The ships built were huge, with rotating sections to mimic near-Earth gravity and large fields cultivated for both food and precious oxygen. They would never land on the surface of any world, but serve as a base of operations. A lone space station that would stay in orbit and act as the old forts along the frontiers of Earth.

As time passed on developments were made. Years after the generational ships were launched a new technology was created, and ships with the majority of crews in suspended animation were launched. Occasionally a small crew would be awakened to check over the ships course, but aside from that a computer would handle the majority of the trip. This allowed for less room and resources needed for the trip, as there wouldn’t be a constant drain on medicine, air, food, even power. The ships were still intended to stay in orbit however, and the travel times to even the closest of stars numbering in the centuries.

Many missions were sent out with this idea that even if it took longer than the lifespans of ten generations of people, that humanity would still survive if the world suffered a major cataclysm. One ark class mission left Earth with the hope of spending only a century in flight. A nuclear pulse propulsion system had been designed, and enough nuclear ordinance generated for the trip to Proxima Centauri. Though no evidence of planetary bodies existed, this was considered an important mission due only to the relatively short period of time the trip would take.

Several missions of various lengths were launched within twelve light-years of Earth, to include missions to Epsilon Eridani, Wolf 359, Aldebaran, Tau Ceti, and even as far as the Hades Cluster. And though colonization of the Sol System continued, missions such as this were sent out. Earth was slowly being repaired of the damage pollution, war, and overcrowding had caused over the last three centuries. And while many missions had left our home star system, development in making space travel faster still continued. The hope was to one day make interstellar travel possible within a crews life time, and one day even to make it feasible to travel between systems with no more time needed then a year to the nearest systems.

Science had theorized about potential methods of faster than light, or FTL, propulsion since the middle of the twentieth century. With the mining and exploitation of the resources found within Sol System, needed material to experiment was not in short supply. Various experiments were performed in order to, as one scientist put it, crack the light barrier. Research into physical dimensions outside the normal concepts of the average human held promise. However, the technology lagged behind the theoretical concepts for decades. Earth and the Sol System were now entering the year 3257. The Proxima Mission would have reached their destination system by now, however no one would know if it had succeeded or not for another four years due to the speed of radio signals. Assuming that the signal would ever reach Earth in the first place.

Technology progressed however, and not just in the fields of propulsion. Vast sky-hooks littered the orbits of Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus. The valuable minerals and gasses harvested from the Gas Giants and used to fuel to growing Human empire. Cometary debris had its course altered in order to impact on the planets of Mars and Venus. After centuries of work the two inner planets had been made habitable, with green fields and blue oceans now painting the once inhospitable globes. Rain forests and wet lands spread across Venus surface, the warmer yearly climate making for longer year round growing seasons. While at the same time, the planes of Mars were verdant grasslands and red mountains, herds of wild cattle and other animals flourishing outside the manmade dome cities. Many genetically recovered species, flora and fauna, called these two worlds home now.

This is not to say that the centuries had been filled with peace for the Human race. Wars still broke out both on the ground, and in the space between worlds. Where before it had been nations on a map, at times it had become more between various colonies or even entire worlds in the system. Mars would make demands of the Asteroid Miners Collective. Earth would demand fealty from the other colonies. Pirate ships, run more like the ships of old, would scourge across the system flying the colors of their particular band. Discord and Chaos ran rampant across the stars. Peace, in many forms, was in short supply.

Planetary defense forces grew into space based navies. Warships of various designs and concepts rolled out of the shipyards. Carriers, cruisers, destroyers, all types of ships were launched in efforts to defend or attack opposing forces. Fleets of massive warships would slip through the darkness of space taking months to get to any target in the system. It wasn’t until the advent of the wormhole bridge drive that the first movements toward unification of the Sol System began. With travel times shortened to infinitesimal periods of time, travel across the star system and to the various star systems became almost non-existent. Navigation however remained an issue, requiring a series of jumps to get from location to location.

Some of the earlier missions were in fact out paced by the new ships that the recently formed Confederate Alliance sent out to the nearby systems. Many had been forgotten, though the new fleets exploring the surrounding universe were aware of them just in case. Contact was made with the colonists at Proxima Centauri, The colonization of that system had progressed slowly, and a few planets had been declared candidates for terraforming though the process had encountered several setbacks.

Slowly Humanity as a whole came together, colonizing and digging in to the systems nearest to Sol. Massive fleets of warships patrolled the infinite vacuum of space, focusing more towards the core worlds of the Confederacy. Smaller fleets patrolled the frontier, looking for any signs of non-human intelligence. Though no sentient life had been found yet, that hadn’t discounted the possibility of life being found. The hope was that First Contact would be a peaceful affair, and not a fight for survival.

As new ecosystems were discovered new laws were enacted. The Alliance made it illegal to ravage the naturally developed biospheres of any world they found already suitable for habitation. The possibility of another naturally occurring sentient life form was too precious to risk. This is not to say that that poachers wouldn’t ravage a world and strip it of its resources. The Confed Navy patrolled all systems in order to at least capture and prevent such things. It also had come too late to prevent a group of scientists from using a proto-life world as part of an experiment.

This group wanted to be able to see how life evolved, over a period that would allow them to know the answer potentially within their lifetimes. They had setup several observatories around this world, all programmed to record the experiment and send information back to Sol System. Nanotechnology, much like all other sciences in the last millennium had advanced in ways not thought of when they were conceived. A batch of nanites, small machines smaller then a human cell were specially crafted and give one overriding directive.

Survive.

The Farmers Market

“We are approaching Point Zankathie. Everyone get ready for customs,” William announced over the intercom. The merchant vessel, Bread Basket, Was in a way a large cylinder with rockets on the back and a cockpit on the front from the outside. The center of the ship however rotated, providing a gravity effect for everyone and thing within the vessel. Bread Basket was an Earth vessel, one of many privately owned merchant ships within the Terran Fleet. The news spoke most often of pirates and smugglers, enough so you would be understandably under the impression that that was the only type of ship Earth sent out aside from military cruisers and transports to hunt them. It did not talk about the families and groups who crossed the stars engaging in free trade and commerce, the simple folk who wanted nothing more than to make an honest living for themselves and their families.

There was nothing sexy about a flying farmers market. Bread Basket wasn’t even the only ship of its type. The interior cylinder of the Bread Basket was covered in hydroponic crops and trees. The oxygen produced by the various plants within the main ship made life support less of a worry. It helped that the entire ships systems were based around the farming area. It was only at most a mile long including the expanse of the engines propelling them through space and the control area up front. Due to the design, based off an O’Neil Cylinder, there was a modest sized farm carried in the ship.

Fresh fruits and vegetables were considered luxury items in most space stations due to how they were designed. Life support, docks for incoming and outgoing ships, equipment to relay signals across the known galaxy, and efficient quarters for personnel and their families had been considered more important.

They sold staples, but the thing that made most ships like Bread Basket so treasured to the various stations both of Human and Xenomorphic personnel were the more pleasant items. Fresh fruits, sweets, natural flowers, things of that nature. The chance for a walk through the interior of the ship was something wonderful for those who only saw the dull metal walls of a station. A self-contained world where one could almost be tricked into thinking they had set foot on a habitable planet. After months in space with nothing but the site of stars and bulkheads to fill ones time a walk through a beautiful park.

Considering how long most people were on these stations it was no wonder that you had children, teenagers, families there just for support. So the arrival of a ship like Bread Basket was also a time for couples to spend with each other in pleasant surroundings. It wasn’t unusual for the ship to make a little extra money with more recreational areas on their inner hull. It wasn’t too difficult to create a good sized lake with a small beach. Most of the ships water had to be reclaimed, and once it was purified from whatever it had been used from it was as safe as anything else. In space you recycled everything.

So while Bread Basket was docked at Point Zankathie there would be a constant stream of beings going back and forth, either for recreation or commerce. There was even a Wedding that had been scheduled for the stopover this time in the Forest. It wasn’t unusual, and Bread Basket had an Ordained Minister on board for just such an occasion.

Ships like her were a piece of the world flying through the night, providing more than just supplies and cargo. They provided moments of peace, moments of joy, and moments of happiness. While the Destroyers and Carriers of the Terran Starfleet were the giants of the Galaxy, vessels like Bread Basket were its soul.

Bio-Poachers

When man went into space, he started close to home. First he went to the moon. Then he traversed the black emptiness to Mars, Venus, and Saturn. Before the first hundred years of our expansion into the cosmos was finished, Humanity had found its way to over twenty new colony worlds. Our home star system, Sol, was packed to the brim. People, plain ordinary people, thrived in enclosed colonies and on the recently terraformed landscapes of what had once been our desolate neighbors. A lot of people spoke out against the geo-engineering programs. They said we didn’t have the right to modify other planets to what we wanted. No one took them seriously.

During this time, new laws were enacted protecting the sanctity of Earth’s precious ecosystem. Much like the days of sea faring explorers and conquerors, Man took from the world he knew and tried to make it apart of the worlds he found. It became illegal to remove things from Earth, like trees and exotic animals. The concern was that in an environment completely alien to them, that these flora and fauna would damage the new worlds. Much like plants that choked the life from fields in the Americas which were under control in their home countries.

That doesn’t stop a lot of people. Even under strict controls, someone always finds a way to play the system. If someone wants a hundred year old redwood, and more importantly had the money to pay, then someone can be convinced to do the job. A lot of very rich people across several colony worlds wanted to transplant parts of Earth for their own enjoyment and status.

This lead to the practice of bio-poaching. In order for it to be profitable, entire acreages of land would be scooped up and placed in a ship. It would then be flown out of Sol, and buyers found for the various plants and animals in whatever star system they were headed for. It wasn’t unusual for someone like me to stumble upon the aftermath of such a theft.

I work in the forest of North America. What was once known as Park Rangers are now just called Rangers. We patrol the thriving forests and plains areas looking for such bio-poachers, as well as provide for the safety of the average person. It’s lonely work, perhaps one ranger per thousand acres of forest. We don’t catch a lot of bio-poachers honestly. As long as they don’t take more than an acre at a time, they can be in and out before one of us is even there.

Therein lies part of the problem. The higher-ups have more than once begged Vienna to increase our resources. It always gets caught up in committee, or the funding just isn’t there. Reminds me of why I took this job in the first place. Because I couldn’t stand people, and even here on Earth I could escape all of it in the trees.

My name is Marcus Wayne. I used to be a part of the greater world. I had a wife and a daughter. The bitch got most everything in the divorce. She even won a “No Influence” order against me. One of the few changes in the family court law over the years. Since we could provide everything for our children at almost no real cost, child support was no longer required. The down side however was that you were denied any contact or influence over your child. The penalties for such a breach of the law were severe. I lost everything I really cared about. Until she turns eighteen my daughter, Susan, will never get to know me. That’s if she even cares enough to.

That was what drove me here. Here I couldn’t be reminded of that separation. I was separated from everything.

As I kept up my patrol I came across an acre of land that had been hit. I wrote it down on the datapad and sent in the report. An entire acre of forest, ground and all, had been taken. There was nothing left but a square hole in the ground that had to go down thirty feet. They had to take that much so they were able to keep the root systems of the plants intact. A dead tree doesn’t sell as much on Alpha Centauri or in the Sparta sector as a live one.

I really hoped that one day we’d be able to stop these guys. If we didn’t then we’d lose the whole planet to the greed of others. Only this time not through pollution of the environment, but by slow patchwork transplanting. A few of the alien races we encountered were more than happy with the idea. A weak Earth was one less threat they didn’t have to worry about.

If that was the only thing these bio-poachers did I would still be angered. But that’s not the only thing they provide to their buyers. Several alien races value humans for certain tasks. Slavery is alive and well out in the depths of the galaxy. Miner colonies worked by sentient aliens evolved from insects and reptiles. Avian sentients used for cargo transport and working farm lands. And those are the lucky ones.

I’ve heard stories from some of my fellow Rangers who went off-world. Stories of red light districts on some alien world where children are bought and sold. Some cultures consider a girl a women the moment she can conceive a child. There aren’t many that hold to the human laws that link maturity to chronological age. Human females are especially valued. No scales, rocks, or any other appendages.

On Earth, women from developing countries trying to escape to a better life ended up forced into slavery as sex objects during the latter part of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries. It’s not much different now, only those looking for a better life find something worse than death. Drugs from other planets that subvert the conscious mind. Other drugs that enhance their senses, especially touch.

Then there are those that end up simply killed, valued not for what they are alive, but what they can be as spare parts. The genetic black market is another nightmare. DNA from every species known being traded and spliced together. Some even look back to the dormant genes of a million years ago, trying to find something interesting.

I hate to say it, but my taste for non-humans is as sour as it is for my own species. The only race we’ve encountered that fits the benevolent stereotype from old science fiction and fantasies are the Zancari. I’ve never met one, but their home world of Zancara Prime is said to be what Earth was only a hundred thousand years ago. Any sane sentient would call it a paradise. For now, they are the oldest space faring race we’ve encountered. The other races, older and younger, are not so benevolent in their ways.

I sometimes wonder if the miracle that is intelligence isn’t just a cosmic joke. For years people thought that anything that had mastered space travel had to be of high moral fiber. The other side of that were those who expected a full out invasion by an enslaving alien armada. Neither was true, but it was still a letdown to many. Finding out that the universe is for the most part untamed frontier and vast reaches filled with pirates and raiders hurt. Now we have people pillaging our world for the more impressive natural wonders in it.

I keep driving, damning whatever raider it was that just dumped a mountain of paperwork on my desk. There wasn’t much I could do about the acre that was gone. That didn’t mean I didn’t have to send in a supplementary report that indicated exactly how much was gone. Hopefully the department would get around to fixing that patch of ground in the near future. Where they would find tons of soil I didn’t know, didn’t frankly want to know.

Earth wasn’t the only planet that had this problem. You could find parts of various world scooped up and sold off part and parcel all over. There was even rumor that someone had taken a piece of most of the other worlds and created a patchwork planet. I’ll let the engineers figure that one out.

Frankly I don’t understand half of the technology behind the things we use in this world. I’m certain that scientists back only two hundred years ago would say everything here is virtually impossible. After all, the jeep I’m in has no wheels, just an anti-gravity field to keep it off the ground. Space ships and star fighters operate in ways I couldn’t even begin to explain. And don’t bother asking me to tell you how interstellar travel works. Like every other layman I just call it hyperspace and leave it at that.

It wasn’t always like this, I wasn’t always like this. I had always felt a need to serve my planet. Enlisted with the Marines when I had just finished high school. I believed in something more than just myself. I had faith in more than just myself. The part of the oath to defend against all threats foreign and domestic were more than words to me. I’m sad to say that the truth didn’t live up to the ideal. I didn’t live up to the ideal. Not really. I went and I killed the sentients I was ordered to kill. I tried to tell myself it was for the greater good. That I was a protector more than a butcher. It was a lie to help me sleep at night, even if it wasn’t as restful as I would like.

Maybe I deserved the life I’d ended up with. The loneliness, the cynicism, slowly fading away into eternity.

The sound of landing thrusters firing breaks me from this cycle of thought and forces me to look up. An atlas-class heavy cargo vessel slowly makes its way across the sky, the hull showing signs of heavy modification. The markings on its hull though are what tell me what I need to know. The picture of a snake eating the world. The mark of the Jormagard Pirates. One of the worst Bio-Poacher cartels. Scum of the universe, and they had to come to MY jurisdiction. Lucky me.

I pull out my radio, the real name being an Omni-purpose information pad or o-pip. Standard procedure in these cases is to call it in and provide enough information for a rapid deployment team to take care of the problem. They have the tools needed to take down a heavily armed pirate vessel. Theoretically at least.

A lot of us have been convinced that there are a few moles in the Defense Network. There really shouldn’t be a way for these thieves to get anywhere on the ground without It someone knowing about it. And all I could do was document it.

I took my o-pip and took images, documenting any identifying marks I could, and made sure to measure what was being taken. An acre when you think about it is pretty small after all. This one was mostly just a clearing and a couple of trees. Rather nice and picturesque all things considered. The pirates used laser cutters and energy field stabilizers to separate the segment of ground from the rest of the planet. It frankly would take over two hours to just cut through down to the base of the roots of the trees.

I doubt my report will be seen before tomorrow morning.

All I could do was observe them as they finished their work. I kept watch and out of sight for the better part of 6 hours. Then using an anti-gravity field and tether cables they pulled the segment from Earth and stored it in their cargo hold. I watched as yet another piece of our world was stolen from us. The hole would end up being filled with a combination of dirt from construction and organic waste material that had been composted. Some grass seed and some saplings, over time the damage could be repaired. Over time.

I just pack up my gear, get back in my jeep, and head along on my way. All I could do was shake my head, and hope that eventually we’d either get these poachers, or at least stop pretending it wasn’t happening. But what can I do? I’ve got my own problems.

Drift

“You know, you are wasting oxygen.”

It was an interesting thing, weightlessness. When you just hang there in the vastness watching the whole of the universe as you slowly drift. The cargo vessel U.S.S. Bounty was drifting through space near the Carina Nebula, almost ten-thousand light-years from Earth. The outer colonies this far out needed cargo haulers to almost constantly move needed goods from planet to planet, mostly medicines and food. The occasional super-carrier or Military convoy would come out with newer technology and terraforming equipment for the colonies.

But at the moment, Bill was just drifting next to the ship, an umbilical cable feeding him power and air the only thing keeping him from floating out into the eternal black. He had been working on a drive plate, ensuring it as properly secured. He had just finished putting his tools up and rotating in the zero gravity in order to return to the safety of the ship when he caught the view.

“You should come in now, we don’t have any other work to be done out there.”

Bill just sighed as he took in the sight. The sound of Officer Hastings voice grating on his nerves. Alec Hastings was not very interested in the universe around him. All he cared about was getting to their next destination, unloaded, then back on course for wherever was next. No time to take in the grandeur of the Universe they passed through.

“Just taking a moment to admire the scenery,” Bill said, slowly starting to make his way to the airlock along his umbilical line.

“There is no scenery, just dust and rock.”

Bill just shook his head. Hastings just couldn’t appreciate the true beauty of the expanse of space. Everything was just dust, rock, or maybe ice if you had a comet. How someone like that could end up on a long haul freight like this and not be able to appreciate the natural wonder puzzled him.

He was just reaching the airlock when he turned and took one last look. It was just as he turn that he saw it. A once in a lifetime occurrence. All of the sudden, in the dust of the nebula a new point of light emerged. IT was dim at first, but slowly grew brighter and brighter until Bill could see it very clearly, illuminating the nebula from within.

The birth of a new star. Maybe one day a new sun.

The event was so moving, so astounding that Bill couldn’t even think of how to put it into words. The Spark of new light in the darkness was such an event, never before witnessed but known to occur. Bill shed a single tear at the beauty of what had occurred before him.

“Get in, I want to increase speed by ten percent. Maybe cut some time off our trip.”

And of course Hastings had to ruin the moment. Back to the grindstone.

An Idea – Oregon Trail

The upheaval of the early Twenty-First Century, the socio-political strife and constant warfare eventually broke the larger governments ability to maintain order. Militaries deployed to help maintain order fail in their attempts to end the chaos. Roving bands of gangs in the major cities start attacking the authorties with impunity.

As time goes on, things settle down. While the Federal Governments of the world, the nations have all but dissapeared, smaller local communities have remained intact. In some case, like the Republic of Texas, larger collectives of city-states have banded together to form a new nation. In others, like the Island of Manhattan, there is only constant Gang Warfare.

Some have evolved around political ideologies that are similar to the past, while others have moved in extreme ways along all spectra. This is the story not just of this chaos, but of trying to do the right thing. And trying to figure out what it means to find home.

Contingency – Chapter 5: Preparedness

Three Months, One Week after the Vancouver Incident

“Hijo de tu puta madre!”

This had followed a small explosion from the direction of the Armory. It had been going on for the better part of a month. Juan had been trying to modify the pulse weapons from the Bladed Claws armory for weeks now. And every time he’d get close something would cause it to go wrong. He couldn’t get the pulse fields to pierce soft warm butter let alone anything close to human flesh. Oh he could get the field to take on the shape he wanted, it just burst like a soap bubble the moment it hit anything denser than air.

The minor explosions and deep wounds from destroyed pulse weapons had provided DuFrane with a chance to test the cruzzir drug. Under Cranex supervision he had applied the drug to the man’s wounds. Cranex had noticed that the rate of cellular regeneration was enhanced in humans but noticed no other problems with it. Juan had so far not reported any differences either. DuFrane was still worried it could cause Cancer… or turn Juan into come kind of Wolverine.

Juan had told him if that happened to just call him the Chubacabra.

Both DuFrane and Cranex had watched him leave with the same deadpan level glare. Jackson was certain that Cranex might not be the best influence on DuFrane. Though Cranex was concerned as they had kept an eye on Juan during treatment. That was what lead to Captain Drake being in the medical for the moment. “I have never seen a species take to Cruzzir as well as your species does. You consume close to four time the amount of nutrients, oxygen, and water of any species in the galaxy. Yet the smallest amount applied on a wound and the result is almost instantaneous. I’m honestly shocked,” Cranex said.

Drake nodded and asked, “Are there any side effects so far?”

Cranex shook his head, “No, Cruzzir works exactly as it is supposed to on your people. Perhaps a bit faster but that is it.”

Drake nodded, “That’s good then…”

All of the sudden the conversation was interrupted by a loud explosion and Juan’s voice screaming, “Chinga tu hermana!”

Drake sighed and rubbed his temple, “Let me know when he grows another arm or something Bones.”

Cranex just sighed and pulled out the vial of Cruzzir and an application stick.

Six Months after the Vancouver Incident

Drake was walking up to a small clearing. Jahmal and his working group and summoned him out here to day. They had spent the last several months working on their project and apparently had something to show for it, finally. Drake had hoped for something. What he saw as he reached the group was at least very intimidating.

The group was walking around a volunteer who was standing there, the armor was a glossy black in places, with some kind of black fabric underneath the individual plates. The helmet was an opaque black as well, but with a white skull on the front. There was also what could only be described as a cloak over the figure, draping down his shoulders with a cowl over the helmet.

Drake felt that was one creepy looking setup.

“Ah Captain, we are just ready to show our demonstration.”

Drake nodded and said, “Tell me you are documenting this. Earth is going to need this advantage or at least something to work from.”

Jahmal nodded, “We’re recording everything and we’ll make sure we have it fully documented. We’ve got Brooks working on a computer system to store everything we are developing here.”

Drake knew of Brooks second project. The Central Intelligence Core, where everything they figured out was being documented and stored. IF and When they finally managed to get back to Earth they would have something for the boys at JPL, MIT, and yes maybe even Area 51 to work with.

“Now, we’ve been operating on the idea that we’d have to have armor good enough to at least stand up to traditional Earth weaponry. Compared to a Kinetic Pulse Weapon this is a considerable threat. We probably won’t see any projectile based weaponry out here but better safe than sorry,” Jahmal said.

“We’ve based the plates on traditional armor plating. The Fabricator has allowed us to experiment with certain material combinations while not wasting our resources.”

The Fabricator seemed to allow them to process most forms of matter into usable products by recombining matter at the molecular level. So even though they didn’t have a lot to work with they could have the fabricator take whatever waste they had and recycle it into new objects. Though from the number of warped, pierced, burned, melted, and one that looked like it had been turned inside out, that had been a lot of recycling.

“First off the under layer you can’t see right now is where the pressure is being applied to the body. By replacing air pressure with mechanical pressure we are able to provide the soldier with a greater field of movement. The under layer also has the environmental temperature regulation, as many materials available to us can be used that aren’t available on Earth.”

Drake nodded, thinking of the big bulky white suits that were basically wearable space ships. Drake took a moment and asked, “What kind of field of motion are we talking about?”

Jahmal handed Drake a piece of fabric he assumed was for the suit. It seemed to stretch rather easily, but not too much. In fact it seemed to only have a little bit of give as he tugged on it. Than Jahmal pressed a button he had mounted on the sample and the fabric loosened up significantly.

“We decided that if something happened and the armor lost all power it was better to design the survival systems to be able to maintain necessary conditions when unpowered.”

Drake nodded, it made sense to lock things down to improve the longevity of the soldiers life as much as possible.

Jahmal continued, “Over that was have the actual armor. Using the material samples we had from your flack jacket we were able to create something we hope will be up to the task. We took a carbon-Kevlar composite and overlaid it on top of a titanium tri-weave fiber that should stand up to a hand gun with little problem. Combined with the basic electro-static defense screen everyone uses out in space it can stand up to several hits from a standard assault rifle. A Barret .50 cal sniper rifle however will still end you without you even knowing it.”

Drake thought for a moment and asked, “What’s powering all this?”

Jahmal answered, “We’re using what can only be called a quantum power battery. We pulled the energy sources out of a few of the defense harnesses in the armory. I’m not sure how the stuff the Hunters had when they attacked Vancouver compares. We’re not sure how it will all work in actual combat, but for now we know no one uses bullets so we should be fine.”

“Yea, just record everything and see if the guys back home can figure it out when we get them all of this information,” Drake said, grinning at the camps attitude towards alien technology. Its space magic, let the white coats back home figure it out.

The problem they had was they really didn’t understand a lot about what was available. Space Magic was really how they were treating everything right now. It was all they could do. Because in spite of how intelligent they were, they were still soldiers, fighters, criminals, and killers. None of them were researchers.

Jahmal took a moment and said, “We’ve still got a few ideas, but we’ll be playing around with them before even thinking of adding them into the standard armor kit. We are including fusion blades inside the gauntlets. That way if you need a knife it will be handy. There are also maglocks at the hip and on the back for larger weapons like side arms and rifles. Juan has finally given up on trying to make the standard pulse weapons work as he wanted. They just keep exploding on him. And even when he got it to actually fire like he wanted, the moment it hit something denser then air it popped like a bubble. Doesn’t matter how much force goes behind a soap bubble or how it’s shaped, it will still pop.”

Jackson thought for a moment and asked, “Then how the hell can we be using this sort of science to fly, or shield against anything?”

Jahmal looked at him for a moment and then said, “Strictly speaking, we can’t. At least not against anything we’ve developed on Earth really. We still don’t understand HOW it allows for shielding, or providing lift and thrust in space, or flight, or gravity. Right now it just… does. The scientists who got a hold of the tech from the Vancouver Incident probably were able to figure out a Hell of a lot more than we are.”

“Still it’s all just so fanciful. Let me ask you, how much of this stuff do you think we could have developed or figured out on our own if they hadn’t interfered with us like they did?” Jackson asked, the question something that had bothered him for a bit.

Jahmal thought for a moment and then said, “To be honest, I don’t know. The basic premise of how some of this seems to work LOOKS like it could operate with regards to KNOWN principles. An electrostatic field creates a bubble around a ship, that bubble glides along the surface of space. It was theorized by a Mexican Theorist Migul Alcubierre that you could create a bubble around an object, and with this bubble push and pull on Space-Time in such a way that you could effectually bypass Relativity. You can go faster than light without the actual vessel ever getting close to light speed. That looks to be HOW the FTL drive on the Bladed Claw functions.

“A lot of this is all guesswork on our part though. I’m accessing a lot of the galactic data network, which seems to have a fully accessible copy of our internet, make of that what you will. We’re referencing enough to put what we have into context, but aside from that… there is still so much that we don’t know,” Jahmal admitted.

They needed to fix that.

 

Eight Months After the Vancouver Incident

The burn of muscles, the dripping of sweat as she completed the well-remembered movement of the form. Claudia Dresden had always found the state of mind she achieved in the movements of the many forms she had mastered calming. She could take whatever was bothering her, from a case at a dead end to a relationship problem and let the stream of movements and muscle memory take over and by the time she was done everything would be clearer to her. She desperately needed that right now.

She had been gathering intel, interrogating the crew of the Bladed Claw and doing some digging through the galactic information network. There was something bothering her, something at the back of her mind that really told her something was wrong with the Galaxy. And it wasn’t just the fact that the rest of the Galaxy was more scared of Humans who had apparently from what she had found always seemed to prefer to be friendly with them then the Hunters who just destroyed and ate them.

That was one thing that bothered her. The other was something she had heard during a meeting from DuFrane about the Corti Neural implants. That frankly was eating at the back of her mind much more when she took into account certain things. The neural implants were able to communicate with each other, and using an artificial language called Complex, were able to ensure that anything a person said, or tried to communicate through body language and the like would be understood. Complex was developed to ensure translations between languages, both verbal, visual, tonal, and anything else was faithfully translated. Nothing could be misunderstood or misinterpreted thanks to these implants. That bothered her significantly though.

The amount of information needed just to be able to process that let alone transmit between implants was astounding in her mind. That the Corti had accomplished that was impressive, but it lead to a question in her mind. One that might just be paranoia. What else could be transmitted, and how far?

It was just another reason she swore she would only be using the Translator headsets or Reaper helmets and not getting an implant anytime soon. At least those she could remove. A neural implant was far too invasive for her liking. The sentiment was shared by everyone else that was human at least. Cranex assured them it was perfectly safe, and had already been cleared by the Directorate for Human use. That was going to be something else for them to take up with the Directorate at some point.

She hadn’t been a fan of Star Trek, but an old boyfriend of hers had, and she had watched all the series with him. To her the Borg were by far the scariest monsters that they had come up with. Because with machines in their heads they all became part of the machine. She just couldn’t help but think that these Corti Implants might be that particular Pandora’s Box that should never have been opened.

She just finished her last form when Drake walked in. Claudia was the soul female among the group, and had frankly just kept herself busy. Like everyone else she had focused the last several months on the tasks they had assigned themselves. The only reason anyone followed Drake for so long had been because no one else had anything close to the authority to make any decisions. His rank in the Military had just been a convenient excuse for the soldiers that had been snatched and grabbed to put the responsibility on him. Everyone else had just gone along with it, even though aside form her and maybe a few others the rest were civilians, criminals, and terrorists.

President Ronald Reagan had once given a speech where he pondered the effect a common foe from beyond the stars would have upon the world at large. She was seeing that principle in action here. Drake himself had risen to the challenge but like her kept a lot hidden. She was the ONLY female among a group of men. It had been an interesting time for her.

She was admittedly a very attractive woman, her skin a creamy pale color and smooth save for the callouses on her hands from the hours of training and the constant typing on a keyboard filling out paperwork. The hours of exercise and training had kept her in good shape, as she had to make sure that no matter what she could bring down a suspect without endangering her own life. She was not what one would call buxom, but her gender could NOT be mistaken from any angle as anything other than feminine.

Her brown hair fell in waves down her shoulders when free of the tight ponytail she had it in when she worked out. No one had really bothered with maintaining their hair length though due to fear of using fusion blades anywhere near their heads and necks. The men were all looking a bit shaggy now, Drake no exception. However, Claudia had had her gym bag on her when she had been grabbed, and had been able to use the fabricator to make some things she needed for her own hygiene. Included shaving her body hair.

The men hadn’t felt the need to do the same, but they kept as clean as possible using the facilities they had at hand. Nothing on a good hot shower and soap, but nowhere near what they’d have smelled like if it had been eight months without ANYTHING. The lack of deodorant had taken some getting used to by everyone.

Especially as everyone had shared every aspect of their combat training, and aside from Mark Ryan the kickboxer and MMA fighter she had the most extensive training in hand-to-hand combat. Everyone was expanding their skillset as much as they could. They were still working on how to properly use fusion swords and knives but were getting close to an acceptable method.

She had been in extremely close contact with everyone, Drake included. She had been on the outs with her last boyfriend, and while she had been given some privacy she like most everyone had her desires and needs to work through. She also however had a very different issue to everyone else. One that was hard to ignore.

There was no birth control out in space. It wasn’t needed, plain and simple. No other species in the Galaxy, not a single one, had sex for any reason other than procreation. Even the Corti had sex, even if they transferred the resulting embryo to a specialized tank in order to ensure it met with the Directorate’s strict eugenic controls. But none of them had sex as a form of recreation, or intimacy. It was only considered in the arena of childbirth. If she really wanted she could probably work something out with Cranex, but he was a Medical Doctor.

A Medical Doctor who had no experience or even comprehension of Abortion. It would be a mistake for him to even TRY to abort a pregnancy unless absolutely necessary. She’d just have to accept the consequences if she decided to indulge in that particular past time. Which considering their situation would be irresponsible on far too many levels. Still…

Drake had pulled up a punching bag and had started working hard on it. Claudia decided she needed to go and take advantage of that privacy she had been afforded, better than the alternative at the moment.

One Year After the Vancouver Incident Classified Star System: Code Named Forge Corti Military R&D World

The shipments of Allebenellin heavy troopers left Forge on schedule and delivered to the front lines for both the Celzi Alliance and the Dominion. Granth could only smirk as the Directorate, and by extension his superiors in the Hierarchy continued to ensure the prolonged engagement failed to come to a conclusion.

Granth starred out the window as another company of heavy troopers marched into a Celzi troop transport for some system on the line he couldn’t be bothered to remember. All was going according to plan, the conflict would end when the Hierarchy choose to end it, not only to gain the benefit of the influx of credits from weapons sales to both sides. It would end at the appropriate moment to increase Hierarchy, and by extension Corti supremacy over the galaxy. The Corti had already mastered their Evolution, they had mastered their technologies and had made themselves indispensable to the rest of the galaxy. The only way one species could possibly strike at them was if they were willing to go to war with the whole of space itself.

Only the Hunters were both willing, and potentially able to do so. At least they had been. The Humans had both the will and the reason. Cranex frowned as he considered that mess. He trusted that 07 and other members of the Hierarchy had a plan for the Deathworlders, but in his estimation everything that had occurred could be considered a declaration of war. If the Humans ever achieved FTL and managed to get themselves out of the containment shield, then they could potentially declare war against their Wardens.

And with all the returned abductees back on Earth, they could decide that there are no allies to be had out here. That would be a worst case scenario. Thankfully in Cranex estimation, the actions of the Mother-Supreme of Gao by accepting the Human Female Xiu Chang into the Clan of Females would stay Humanities war machine for long enough for possible diplomatic and economic talks. That did not mean that contingencies weren’t needed.

He had already considered a few that would ensure extermination of all Human life on Earth, but none seemed practical as the other species of life on that world were extremely profitable to other ventures of Directorate research and profit. He had already sent out a scouting team looking into potential other Death Worlds for both Military and biological research. A Colleague at the R&D system of Chrysalis might be interested as well. He always enjoyed Vrenzs company, and had sired many children with her that were the top of the genetic spectrum. Perhaps it was time to see if she were interested again.

Granth frowned though as he thought about those worlds. A large concentration of Category 12 Temperate worlds were located within a few light-years of Earth. One at what the Humans Designated Proxima-Centauri, another at Epsilon Eridani, and two in the Vega system.

He had dispatched a research team to reevaluate all of them, and potentially mark certain species of interest. Vega 3 had some promising biological flora specimens that could be potentially new medicines or recreational agents. Vega 4 was also looking to be a source of potentially new fauna for weaponization.

The team had several more months before departing Vega for the journey to Epsilon Eridani. He wondered what they would find there.

One Year Four Months Two Weeks After the Vancouver Incident

It was a bit of a special day for the Abductees. It had been on the suggestion of one of the civilians that if they were going to be out in the Galaxy and seen they should take on a name taunting their oppressors. IT had begun with Jahmal’s team calling their armor Reaper Armor and designing it to look like one of Earth’s Death Gods. It had evolved into a poll in the Mess hall they had put up first to take suggestions, then to vote for a winner. In the end they had decided to call themselves as a collective the Shinigami, Japanese Gods of Death.

And Today SSgt Clark Brooks unvailed his contribution. The Bladed Claw had been gutted and rebuilt into a design less blocky and far more sinister looking. The utilitarian and thin grey metal hull had been replaced with thick armor and black carbon fiber plating to make it invisible to most scanners. The ones they could test against anyways. It had a sleak winged appearance, and almost looked like a crow wit hwings spread flying through the night.

Brooks had re-christened the ship “The Valkyrie.” The Chooser of the Slain.

They partied hard that night. Juan had in his spare time found a plant that he had managed to turn into extremely high quality alcohol. It had been lovingly dubbed Space-Tequila. Jahmal’s group respectfully declined to partake.

Jackson was sitting back away from the crowd, enjoying his drink when Claudia walked up to him. Being the only woman on the planet had resulted in her having to deal with and accept the occasional cat call and sexual innuendo. If anything it had become a sign of affection, but no one disrespected her.

Jackson gave her an appreciative glance and lifted his glass in welcome, “Claudia.”

“Jack, how does it feel to be Captain of this Pirate ship?” Claudia asked, an amussed look on her face.

Jack shook his head and said, “I’m not sure if we are Pirate’s yet. But if we are we can just ask Juan to start working on creating Space-Rum.”

Claudia laughed softly, “It may come down to that. Earth is still lost to us, the Galaxy is terrified of us. It just doesn’t make sense that We scare them worse then the Hunters. We don’t eat sapient species alive after all. Yes, we are carnivores but not cannibals, if that word applies here.”

Jack looked at her, “You’ve been thinking about the implications on the Neural Implants again haven’t you?”

Claudia raised an elegant eyebrow at him, “And you haven’t?”

Jackson didn’t answer for a moment. After gathering his thoughts he said, “I think, with all the information we have now, and everything we’ve ended up warning ourselves about in popular media that maybe you are right. That there might be something to this neural network being potentially a danger in and of itself. Cranex says no, that the implants aren’t designed that way. But at the end of the day, he’s a medical doctor. It doesn’t mean he knows everything about these things that he doesn’t need to know.”

Jack took a moment and took in Claudia’s profile in the light of the bonfire. HE sharp chine and aristocratic nose all seemed to work with her high cheekbones and her eyes to convey the look of a hawk, watching from on high to see it’s prey running along the ground. He couldn’t help but find it attractive. That focus on something she had no proof for, only a gut instinct. That certainty attracted him to her on a level more then just physical.

“I want you to get with Brooks, now that he’s done with this see if the two of you and Jahmal can figure out a way to potentially monitor this neural network. Keep it between the three of you and me. I don’t want anyone else to know about it,” Jack said. He had decided to let her run with it long before now, he just wanted Brooks and Jahmal to be able to provide her with technical support.

Claudia looked to him and smiled, “I’ll let you know what we find out.”

She walked up to him, so close they could both smell each others individual scents. The lack of any perfume, aftershave, deodorants, seemed to make things less contrived and more primal. In that moment she finished her space-tequila and grabbed Jack by the back of his neck and forced him down into a kiss. It was a searing, passionate exchange between the two. It lasted for only a few moments, but it was long enough for them to both to breath heavy and feel a burning crush of desire.

The moment the kiss was broken Claudia looked up into Jackson’s green eyes, and backed up slowly, almost reluctantly. She said, “I should turn in for the night. I want to get a fresh start on this project early tomorrow.”

Jack nodded, his throat a bit tight as he said, “Yea, I should probably as well, don’t need to end up with a space-hangover.”

Claudia smirked, “We really need to stop putting space in front of everything we do out here.”

Jack smiled, “Probably, won’t stop us from doing it though.”

The pair retreated, but neither forgot that kiss, the moment, the urge. It was only their professionalism, and the knowledge of what could result if they let go that stopped them. Had this been Earth, then something completely different might have happened.

In a way this was better, it might not burn out so quickly had it been otherwise.

One Year Five Months After the Vancouver Incident

ULTIMATUM FROM HUNTERS: DEMAND ALL HUMANS BE TURNED OVER ELSE QUOTE SWARM OF SWARMS ENDQUOTE WILL RAID KNOWN HUMAN LOCATIONS. ALL SHIPS, STATIONS CARRYING HUMAN PASSENGERS ADVISED: JETTISON IMMEDIATELY. NOTIFICATION ENDS.

Everyone sat in the Mess Hall after one of the watch officers had heard the message over the Dominion Emergency Notification System. A simmering rage had ignited in everyone there. Drake didn’t shout, didn’t yell, didn’t even bat an eye. He simply stood there, and though he said it quietly it could be heard as if he had shouted it from the rafters.

“Ready the ship. It’s time for the Valkyrie to ride.”