By Acquanetta M. Sproule
"Behave yourself, youngling!" the Elders told it.
"Whatever do you mean?" it asked, unconvincingly.
"Very well, then. To be precise, do nothing further to interfere with the humans!"
"What do you mean by 'nothing'?"
"Nothing means Nothing, youngling," the Elders elaborated, exasperated.
"Are you certain? Do you really mean 'Nothing'"?
"If you interfere with the humans again, in any manner, your ship will be confiscated and you will be confined to the Homeworld, permanently! Do you comprehend the meaning of 'Nothing' now, youngling?"
"I shall comply."
"Your activities are being monitored!"
"Understood," it replied, resigned.
As asteroid 2014 DX110 transited the space between the human’s world and its satellite, the tiny, concealed grav-unit the youngling had planted on it several hundred light-years away engaged, pulling the blue-world’s moon a smidge closer to the planet. It would be awhile before the effects kicked in.
"Well done," the Elders said," good to see that you are capable of discreet behavior."
"Thank you," the youngling stated. "I'm learning."
- - -
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Thursday, April 17, 2014
From Frustration to Concern
By John Laneri
Today's local meeting represented another exercise in frustration. The government had gone beyond the point of ridiculous. In my opinion, we needed a viable space craft before debating who would leave the planet first and attempt to seek rescue.
When we initially left Earth, our objective had been to explore planetary systems that displayed unusual gravitational behavior. Our problem arose while we were studying the gravitational interactions within a group of planets that orbited each other as well as the star QHT6441.
What we failed to understand at the time was that multiple interacting gravitational forces could, for brief periods, become unstable. As a consequence, we were suddenly locked into an orbit around one of the smaller planets. Within minutes, our momentum decayed beyond the capacity of our thrusters, and we were suddenly pulled into a crash landing onto an unknown planetary surface.
With little hope of rescue, the six hundred remaining survivors, myself included, set about making the place home. Now, some twenty years later, most of us doubt that we will ever see Earth again, so we've named our new home, Planet Myrika.
It's a moon sized body with a temperate climate. While most natural resources are modest, we accept the place for what it is, even though we continually envision building a spacecraft that will take us home.
The problems we face, however, are enormous.
Our original spacecraft was destroyed beyond repair. Much of it still litters the landscape hundreds of kilometers away. We have no functional computers or sources of power. And worst of all, we have a governing body that completely lacks common sense. As a result, most of us have been socially reduced to peasant status. The unfortunates such as myself either tend ramshackle shops or maintain small farms and hunt chickens in an attempt to earn a living for our families.
Other than an overpopulation of large, aggressive, free ranging chickens, which incidentally represent our major source of food, our greatest threat comes from an all knowing, utterly ignorant group of functionaries known as government officials. Even though we have a democratic system, we've learned that sensible governments can quickly degrade into brainless political bodies unless held in check by the people.
And, that is exactly the reason why I left the local meeting in a state of frustration.
To clear my head, I took the long way home by walking toward a place called the crater region. I needed time to step back and relax and even reminisce about life on Earth.
Near the South rim of crater RW39, a remote area seldom visited, I noticed something odd. On looking closer, I suddenly realized that I had just spotted my first ever flying saucer.
It was partially hidden behind a rocky outcrop, so I edged cautiously toward it and paused behind a boulder to look it over.
In appearance, it was only about three meters in diameter, which seemed too small for humans unless it was alien or the government had devised that rumored technology capable of shrinking people to fit inside of small spacecraft.
On looking closer though, the thing looked elliptical rather than circular – a configuration that suggested the government had either miscalculated the dimensions or the saucer experts were wrong. Either way, the project would likely be considered politically incorrect.
I also failed to see a propulsion system, so I reached for my binoculars. After several minutes of searching, I was still unable to visualize any means of power – again, something probably not thought through by the government.
By then, I was stymied until I noticed something else – and I am not joking. The saucer was resting on two landing struts that were splayed at the bottom to look exactly like chicken feet.
Once I spotted the feet, I knew the saucer had to be a secret government project not only because chickens were so abundant but because the government was often prone to act without reason.
At that point though, nothing made sense, until I reconsidered the chicken feet and began to redirect my thoughts along the lines of government thinking.
Going back to my days in school, I remembered that chicken feet twitch back and forth when an electrical current is applied to the skin, so rapid movement of the feet could theoretically provide propulsion. I also knew that chickens continue to run in circles after the head is excised – a capability that allows them to function without power during adverse conditions.
A viable computer, however, would still be needed to control the chicken as well as its direction of movement.
Chuckling to myself, I remembered an earlier government attempt to use chicken heads to replace the processors of our lifeless computers. The project failed, but technologies do evolve.
On the other hand, if the government was actually able to use a chicken head for a computer, then it might be capable of designing a rescue vehicle around a chicken – a highly unlikely possibility, none-the-less, a possibility.
A short while later, as I was reviewing my thoughts and having a good laugh, concern began to replace my earlier frustration.
By then, I was beginning to wonder if the government actually did think it could use a chicken to power a flying saucer through the reaches of outer space. If that was true, then we only had a few short years before the chickens were intellectually capable of running the government.
- - -
Thursday, April 10, 2014
The Lights Beyond
By Chais Kalz
This was everything she had been preparing for. All the months of research and enticing investors for equipment had led up to this moment. The dive. This one trip would earn her a Nobel for sure. Elise would be set for life. As she stepped through the airlock into the submarine she could feel the blood pounding in her throat. Her hands tingled and she could barely feel her legs.
“Okay, deep breaths now. Remember your training.”
She was alone on her mission for fame. After some scientists theorized the formation on the readings was due to some loose sediment all of her investors had left. Her team of researchers had left with the money. Her crew had stayed, if only to honor her pride. But she knew they would never go on this suicide mission.
Some divers had found what looked like a U.F.O. on their sonar scan. It had sparked a wildfire in the industry. But the depth itself was what kept amateurs like Elise out of the running. Only a few top businesses were left, but she knew they wouldn’t be attempting any dives for a few months. Not until the waters calmed down. But she couldn’t wait. Her heart was screaming in agony not to be down there.
Elise took a few more breaths and locked the hatch behind her.
The sub did most of the work. It was an expensive model from one of her investor’s prized collections. The sub was scheduled to be picked up in the morning and shipped out back to some lot in god-knows-where. Tonight was her only shot. As Elise engaged the autopilot she hoped her sleeping crew would forgive her.
The chill of the freezing waters made the metal cold to touch and sent shivers up Elise’s spine. Her diving suit would keep most of the cold out but it couldn’t keep up with the sudden drops in temperature that greeted her as she descended. Luckily the sub had a few heating protocols and they engaged once they sensed the cold creep in. But Elise knew that if she were to make it to the wreck and back she would have to try to conserve the sub’s energy. She let the heater warm her up for an hour before switching it off. She turned off the ship’s inner lights after two hours.
She drifted like that for miles and miles. Hours passed like years to her as she huddled up in the pilot’s seat trying to conserve what little body heat she had left. The darkness of the void below her was coupled by the silence around her. Only her hushed breaths and the infrequent groans of the ship as it sank served to remind Elise of her surroundings.
Nothing but the frozen water and the odd school of fish were around. The sub bleeped a warning. Elise turned to the sonar display where the craggy rocks of the sea floor appeared. She turned on the blaring lights outside the ship and saw the deadly formations rise slowly toward her. Her hands shook as she gripped the sub’s joystick for manual steering. It would be the hardest thing she had faced yet. Every twitch of her fingers would send the ship a foot too close to the canyon walls and she would need the ship in perfect condition if she expected to return alive.
She steadied her hand and focused on the job ahead. It would be a few more hours before she reached her destination. A crude map she had copied by hand lay at her side and it confirmed her path through the silent depths. She thought back to her crew who would be waking any minute now. She wondered how long it would take for them to realize she had left.
What she didn’t know is that the submarine wasn’t going back to the owner’s private lot. It was being sent back for repairs after the manufacturer had found a fault in the model. Her trip was doomed the moment she decided to step inside.
Hours went by. Elise’s determination had kept her hand and eyes focused on her task. Finally she reached an open cave. The cave was enormous in size and reached farther than her lights could ever hope to see. Her wreck was down here and she was going to find it. She put the ship back on autopilot and relaxed her grip on the controls. Her hand had frozen in its position around the joystick and it took some prying from her to get it to stretch open. She dimmed the sub’s lights and prepared herself for the last drop into darkness.
Elise had long stopped feeling the cold on her skin. As the hours continued to drift by she started to doze off. The sudden thought of hypothermia jolted her awake. She went back to shivering in her seat and staring out the window, stretching her arms and legs every few minutes to keep herself awake.
Elise’s mind was full of ideas about extraterrestrials and lost German warships as she got closer and closer to the bottom of the cave. The sub’s radar came to life. Elise stared in shock as small blips came into existence on the screen. She turned up the sub’s searchlights and was greeted with a flurry of motion and colours. As she stared in awe a school of fish circled around the sub. Every colour she had ever seen in her life flashed in front of her. The reflection of the lights off their scales made lights dance inside the ship. Tears of joy blurred her vision. It was at that moment that the horde of fish began to crush the ship.
It only took a few moments for the pressure to knock Elise out. The water rushed in shortly after. The last thing she would ever see was the display of lights dancing around the room.
- - -
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Soldier of the Rorne
By David Scholes
Just outside Canberra, Australia
The human form male entity was kneeling by the roadside looking disoriented. Dressed in a metallic blue-grey semi military style outfit with some unfathomable attachments.
“Are you all right?” inquired Rachel, stopping her SUV.
He hesitated as if gathering his thoughts. Then spoke slowly as if unfamiliar with the language he used.
“Thank you for your kindness, I have some memory loss, but this is normal in my circumstances. It will return as I rest for a while. The journey always takes it out of you but I see that I am where I should be.”
Rachel knew immediately that he was not “from around here” or anywhere else that she had heard of or probably could even imagine. Still she offered him a room for a few days at her nearby farmhouse and decided to let him tell his story in his own time. If he chose to.
Rachel enquired as to his name but he seemed unable to provide an answer, even struggling with the concept.
Before resting at Rachel’s home he withdrew a piece of instrumentation – pulsating light tracers left it in several different directions then converged above a large shed at the edge of Rachel’s property.
"These are the coordinates, this is the place,” he said pointing to the shed. Have you ever witnessed anything unusual here?”
Rachel’s mind raced. She recalled stories of strange happenings decades ago as told by her grandfather.
The “man” spent more than two weeks at Rachel’s home, then the sole reason for his being there crystallized.
As the dimensional aperture above Rachel’s shed appeared she saw the fearsome Xyylk gathering to cross over. They were too horrific for her mind to fully process and she “saw” instead what was only a filtered approximation.
The “man’s” task was to stop them gaining any kind of beachhead. To defeat them right at the dimensional interface. He did so, destroying the dimensional aperture in the process. At the cost of his own life.
The destruction of the interdimensional aperture had a finality about it.
Rachel realized that he had come here to die for a world he hardly knew. She knew a sadness out of all proportion to the length of his stay here. He did not even have a name but explained that he was a soldier of a race known as the Rorne. Soldier 13849734.
She was grateful that she had been able to show him some kindness during his short stay and to tell him a little of our world.
Rachel and her daughter were at the modest grave site when the alien came.
It had been years but she immediately recognized the metallic blue grey semi-military uniform. Then as he came closer she saw that he had his father’s eyes.
“The war with the Xyylk is over,” he said “we, the Rorne, have won.” He did not say this in any triumphal way and chose not to elaborate on what had been the Multiverse’s most horrific war. Simply stating “I have come to see where my father died.”
Rachel wondered if the alien would be bitter. That his father had died so far from home. For a world of which the son probably knew nothing. She was wrong – if his father could die for a world he could certainly learn as much about it as possible. As he had done.
“The authorities here do not know of your father and what happened here,” said Rachel sympathetically “we kept things simple and avoided complications.”
“Dad would have wanted it that way,” came the reply “he is remembered where it counts.”
And in our hearts too, Rachel thought.
There was silence for a long time.
“Will you be taking his remains with you,” Rachel inquired somberly.
“No we do not do that,” came the reply “Rorne soldiers are buried on the world where they die. It is our way”
Inwardly Rachel breathed a sigh of relief.
“This is your half sister,” she said quietly.
“I know, I can feel it,” the third generation soldier of the Rorne embraced his half sibling. Rachel smiled.
“We gave your father a name,” she said, tears welling in her eyes “an Earth name “Orin” you can see it on the small grave stone along with his soldier number.”
The son of soldier of the Rorne 13849734 (aka Orin) smiled.
“Thank you," he said quietly.
- - -
I've been writing science fiction for 6 years and have 5 collections of short stories and 2 novellas published (all on Amazon). I've been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and Beam Me Up Podcast sites and have been published on a variety of other sites. My Alien Hunter series appeared in the then Golden Visions magazine for 2011/12.
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