Friday, 23 June 2017

Zoology ~ Episode Three

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)

Three

Grove follows the rest of the team from the galley up through to their berths, a suite of small cubicles, each with an en suite and an ejectable space storage-pod for their personal effects. Grove sighs and takes the last available room. The bunk is narrow and the decor is utilitarian. Home for the next eight months is a very dull place indeed. He stashes his backpack, unopened, in the pod and, without knowing why, runs a hand down the curved, grey bulkhead wall next to his bunk. He has the feeling there is more to Satan than simply having biosynth...

A voice behind him interrupts his thoughts.
'You got the short straw for the rooms I see. That's an outside wall, get a breach in that, you'll de-pressurise instantly. Mine name's Harp Engelthrop, I'm the planetary ethnobiologist... I'm in the room next door.'
'Is this your first mission?' Grove asks, noting the hint of excitement in Harp's voice, as though they are off on an adventure.
'Yes! That obvious? Ah well, better get to the flight deck, don't want to be late.' Harp picks up on the sarcasm in Grove's voice, clearly he is not welcome.

As he leaves he bumps into Yume Moto, exiting his berth for the deck. 'Going up?' he asks, indicting to the deck lift. 'Yes! I'm Harp..'
'I know who you are, I recommended you for this mission. I was very impressed with your recent dissertation on adaptive behaviours in non-indigenous winged pollinators.'
'Dr. Moto, I am delighted to meet...'
'Just call me Yume, otherwise this will be a very long eight months. See you made a new friend?' Yume nods towards Grove's berth and Harp raises his eyebrows and sighs.
'Don't think so. He seems pretty happy with his own company.'
Yume chuckles as they wait for the lift door to open. 'In space, our own company is something we need to be comfortable with.' He raises his voice and shouts down the narrow way, 'Lift's here!'
The two of them climb in and wait for Grove but after a minute, Yume shrugs and takes his finger off the door hold button and the lift slides shut.

Grove stretches out on his bunk and decides he does just about fit, perhaps he could ride the outbound journey in his bunk.
'Not a good idea!'
The thought is so insistent in his mind it makes him jump. 'Who said that?'
'Who said what?' Grove gets to his feet as Cressida Blythe and her second, Aliya Garcia, fill the doorway. 'Not hearing voices already are you Grove?'
'No, just... thought I heard the lift.'
He pushes past them into the corridor suddenly feeling intimidated by them. 'Where's your sidekick, the Xenograft?'
'Cme? She's up on the flight deck with the others, I thought I'd just make sure you didn't keep us all waiting. And she's not my sidekick, she's the property of Nutrishia and as such, under my security remit. In fact, when it comes to survival out there, she's more important to the Corporation than you are.'
'Thanks for the compliment.' Grove comments as the two women usher him towards the lift as the door opens at their approach.

'Hey? Who's overridden the controls?' Yume presses the door button again but it refuses to shut as though waiting for something. He sticks his head out of the lift to see Grove approaching. 'Looks like the lift is broken...is there another one on this deck? We are running out of time!'
Grove, Aliya and Cressida squeeze into the lift as Yume keeps trying the door button but the lift door does not budge.
'Here let me try that. ' Grove pushes Yume's hand out of the way and gently presses the button. Under his touch the lift door closes and starts to move and somewhere, in the back of his mind, is a name. 'Annie.'




New chapters soon...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Zoology ~ episode two

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)


Two

Daniel Delacroix runs a hand over his close cropped skull, feeling the reassuring thin prickle of new growth. It is a nervous reflex, a gesture he barely notices anymore. The galley clock reads 12:00hrs but is still empty save for Cressida Blythe, perched on a table, quietly resetting the aim on her tranquilator. He had worked once before with her.. how many? maybe fifteen years before. Now her reputation precedes her, twelve successful missions in a row, no lives lost. He hopes her presence will reassure rather than alarm the crew, this mission makes thirteen.
Movement in the corner of his eye makes him jump. Why is he so nervous? The thought irks him, fear is not an emotion he has time for. He had thought the galley was empty but there, on the far wall, something, someone is barely visible, slipping in and out of his peripheral vision. He blinks and misses it.

Cme leans in close to the Pilot as he unblinks. He leaps about half a meter into the air and Cressida chuckles laconically. 'Nice one Cme.'
Daniel tries to recompose himself as Cme tilts it's head to one side quizzically watching his reaction.
'Cme?'
'Yes Expedition pilot, I am Cme.'
'Good, great trick, you got me! ' Despite having read the classified file on this Xenograft, he is still unprepared for what confronts him. Cme lets out a giggle. 'I am quite a sight, if you can see me!' and as quickly as it arrived in front of him, it leaps across a nearby table and perches next to Cressida, its skin slowly mottling over in the metallic shades of the galley. Before he can think of anything to say, the rest of the team arrive and he calls the room to order and begins his mission speech.
'I would like to welcome you all, on behalf of the Newtrishia Corporation, on board the Saturn Anne II. I have been successfully piloting this ship for seven years, over six missions to distant galaxies for the Corporation and will expect this mission to also be a success. The key to success is punctuality.' He pauses and glances a the galley clock , now reading 12:07hrs and shakes his head. 'This is the first and last time you will be late. If we are on-world and I say the ship is leaving at 12:00 hrs, we are leaving at 12:00hrs, whether you have made it back from collecting whatever exciting algae or bacterium you think is more important than my orders. Nothing is more important than my orders. Your life, and more importantly my life, depends on your punctuality.'

'Like you were punctual arriving here at the space port...' Grove's voice trails off as he realises he had spoken out loud.
'At the advice of the expedition security expert,' Daniel nods towards Cressida, his voice icy cold, 'Precautions were undertaken to keep the ship off the radar of Newtrishia's biggest competitor, Alimentorum, who has financed an aggressive takeover of the space port in the last twenty-four hours. If they catch wind of our mission, they will endeavour to delay, disrupt or, even worse, quarantine us.' Daniel walks over to where Grove is leaning back on two legs of his chair and looms in close, 'We were punctual, just not easy to find.'

'Why quarantine?' Harp asks, half interested in the answer, half hoping to diffuse the stand-off between the pilot and Grove. It works and Daniel turns away from Grove to answer him.
'This is an Ark class ship, one of the last of its kind. It incorporates what, in its day, was cutting edge biosynthesis within the hull structure. After a space-plague, carried by a biosynth ship wiped out a whole colony a few years back, ships can be quarantined indefinitely by order of the space port. Such tactics have been known to be deployed by Alimentorum, who seize competitors ships, find the mission protocol and hijack it for their own profit.'
Harp whistles softly under his breath. 'I had no idea this industry was so cut-throat.'
Cressida laughs. 'Cut-throat? That's a good name for it. Legalised piracy is what it is. Daniel is right, as your security specialist I can confirm that, as soon as you signed your sweet little name on the contract for this mission, you put yourself in the line of danger and the best way to survive is by working together as a team and by following orders without question. If you are not a team player, you are not welcome on this team.' Her last comment is for the benefit of Grove, still swinging back on two legs of his chair, a look of nonchalant defiance on his face. For a moment he hangs, perfectly balanced, a picture of cool aloofness and then he yelps as, for no reason, the chair suddenly collapses under him. He sprawls on the floor as Cme laughs loudly, her camouflaged outline barely discernible nearby. 'If you haven't got our back, we haven't got yours, see!' Everyone laughs at Cme's joke and even Grove, scrabbling ungainly about on the floor, raises a weak smile.

Cressida turns to Daniel and quietly whispers. 'We need to get Satan out of here ASAP. The space port shift change is at 13.00hrs and all docking bay boards will be updated. I can only pay for so much time.'
Daniel nods and resumes his speech.


'So, we leave in thirty minutes, I expect you all to have located your berths, stowed your gear and be back on the flight deck in your seats by 12.47 hrs precisely. Anyone not in their suits and strapped in will be taking a long ride, cargo class.'

next chapter...

previous chapter...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Oola's Intergalactic Tuneship, Eerie presents... ZOOLOGY

(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)

ZOOLOGY

Earth was abundant. When we had finally finished plundering its resources, we moved on. But our new homes were never as rich. So we sent ships with scientific teams to find new zoology in distant galaxies we could farm, synthesise or simply hunt down and eat.


Daniel Delacroix ~ Expedition Pilot, Veterinary Scientist, 54

Cressida Blythe ~ Expedition Security Specialist, Survival Expert, 38

Aliya Garcia~ Tracker, Secondary Security Specialist, 25

Harp Engelthrop ~ Planetary Ethnobiologist, 27

Grove Jones ~ Large Entity Zoologist, 38

Yume Moto ~ Zoologist, Insectologist, 46

Cme ~ Xenograft, hazardous zoology retrieval unit, microbiologist, years since graft: 10. Actual age protected under a Newtrishia Corporation patent.




One

Grove Jones stops on the main gangway of the space port and glances at the briefing alert on his digi-billet. The ship he is looking for is called the 'Saturn Anne II' but he can see no sign of it on the computerised docking list boards. Just like the Newtrishia Corporation to hire some tin-can space barge that can't even find its way to the right docking bay. He spots a techanoid and waves the billlet at him. 'Know where this is?'
The teachanoid blinks twice and then pulls the rictus grin of the very poorly made synthetic robot. 'Yes sir! The last bay, in late last night. Boards not updated yet. Very big ship. Have a very happy journey now.'
'Last bay, late. Says it all.' Jones growls in thanks at the too-cheery reply, shoulders his backpack and heads in the direction of the illuminated arrow sign lit up on the techanoid's chest plate.

In the last bay, lost in the deep shadow of the run down warehousing quarter of the space port, the Saturn Anne II gently rocks in her space moorings. She is an Ark class ship, a great hulk of corroding alloys and multi-plane biosynth. Along one flank, her name is emblazoned, scored and scorched over time until all that is legible are the letters, SAT AN . Grove stares up at the name and reads it aloud 'SATAN. Well, that seems appropriate for this particular hell hole of a space port.' He glances around at the dock, a sudden feeling of menace running through his veins but he is alone. Just him and the ship. 'SATAN it is.' He shakes his head, sighs and slaps the side of the ship but instead of the reassuring pressure of metal, the bulkhead shivers and an echo of it runs up through his arm into his mind. Grove leaps back as though stung. Did the ship just whisper the name, 'Annie' to him? He squares his shoulders and gently slaps the side of the ship again, this time whispering 'Annie' but the metal bulkhead simply clangs to his touch.

Harp Engelthrop stands in the cargo hold of the Saturn Anne II and stares at the rows of bio-cages, sealed hazmat tanks and quarantine bays running in corridors the length of the hold. Overhead is a network of inspection gangplanks and environmental control ducts. Even though he knows planets all over the five galaxies need feeding and it is his work, particularly on crop foods, that might help to stave off starvation for billions of people, the sight of an empty ark reminds him of how close to extinction humanity is. The ark, though old, is well equipped. At least the Newtrishia Corporation had invested well in making sure whatever they found would make it back to the galaxies alive. Whether or not Harp would make it back alive would depend on the rest of the team on this mission. He checks the time, the meet and greet is scheduled for 12.00hrs in the galley. Time to go and find out what his chances of survival are.



Tuesday, 3 May 2016

In the beginning...

Once upon a time when this universe was nothing
but a reflection in the eye of nothingness
there was a moment of stillness, of such silence
it bought forth the great illumination
because how can you have nothing
without something?

From the point of the great illumination
poured forth the
sound & substance
of all contained within the universe
and, in those first, ultimate moments
of existence the
Sentients were formed
from the very fabric of the
universe itself.

These novel creatures in this new firmament, took it upon themselves
to be mediators, to nurture and preserve the balance, to guide
and to help this new universe they found themselves inextricably
bound with, flourish. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Downloads from the Automated Storyteller

The automated storyteller is a computational algorithm designed to curate a historical compendium of stories collected as Oola travels the universe on the Eerie. The ship, a present from a grateful galaxy saved by her a long, long time ago, is a customised one-off and, like Oola, the sole survivor of her species wiped out by the Oblitomage, the only one in existence.

(Oblitomage ~ a creature of malevolence)

The following posts and links are all downloads from the Automated Storyteller.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Eerie



Engines : Running the length of the ship are the two ion propulsion chambers, now customised to use the popular ramjet inlet technology where the upgraded ‘maglev’ technology meld-all* skin allows thrust acceleration at the same time when skin polarity is rapidly reversed within the inlets.

(*Meld-all works through the relationship of its ions and the ions on the surface of the hull it is in contact with. Normally they would either attract or repel or be inert but meld-all assumes the identity of the ions it comes into contact with, mimicking its properties. It melds with whatever it comes into contact with, albeit in a very limited way. This also gives it a unique profile in terms of fluid mechanics. Meld-all is designed to conquer deep space flight by providing a protective self-healing membrane around the external hard structure of the ship, skin over the skeleton if you like. But, an unlikely bonus to this is its magnetic properties, the ship’s speed is also benefited by the unique friction properties Meld-all affords us, It reacts with space itself and creates a layer that acts as a lubricant, reducing wear and allowing the solar winds to flow smoothly over it. But its magnetic properties also give greater grip to the ship in relation to its speed, helping to pull us through the fabric of space quicker. Thus, the meld-all also provides an effective solar radiation shielding and impact protection from pebble meteoroids, gravel/dust clouds and space junk.)

Note the two trailing coil antennae, added to turn Eerie into a deep-space transmitter and receiver. They are designed to avoid the localised interference from the ion propulsion system. These can be fully retracted for flight. This allows an ergonomic hull profile for solar-wind surfing and smooth worm-hole passage and the now outlawed practice of planet-planing.

Interior: Clearly prominent at the front of the ship is the space flight deck, the Eerie was originally capable of providing safe space travel for a crew of up to two hundred, having a full deck for hydroponic food cultivation and water filtration/reclamation. There are three further living decks, a medical and engineering deck and the aforementioned flight deck. The modified flight deck contains state of the art multi-synthesis sound emulators, four-dimensional holographic digi-sound amplification throughout the vessel, multi-interplanetary communication decoders, universal positioning system and an extensive, continuous-update music library collected from throughout the universe working alongside the automated storyteller, a computational algorithm designed to curate a historical compendium of stories from the universe.