This guide isn’t a guide at all it’s a story…[mainly because every time i tried to open a discussion steam wouldn’t let me, i gave up trying to fix it, so i’ll put it here]… the story takes place around 200 years after the main game events, the protagonist ie the main character is a nineteen year old kid named John Fetman.. this story follows his journey as a merchant captain and beyond..[eventually, if i ever write a sequel]
you can rate or like or even you can give me steam points. [what ever those do] or leave a comment.
*** Copyright BJON XENTARI 2021 *** All Rights Reserved ***
*** This is a story inspired by Endless Sky ***
User: //FETMAN// //JOHN//…
Feeew!…We had a *slight* emergency, the main reactor nearly melted we had three breaches in the hull, and a repair pod was stuck floating in space, so yeah, no more busy than Saturday. Also a note to Frank..[the guy that got stuck in the repair pod]…CHANGE THE TERRAN POWER CELL!!
I’ve been working at Hydra station For just a year now, it pays handsomely, and just yesterday the stationmaster offered me a promotion!
I turned it down.
Now I can imagine you’re thinking: Why would you do that!?
Well two reasons: I’m ready to go home, plain and simple.
And for two, well I’ll have to monologue a bit…
I had a brother and one sister, back then life was good, hope for a better tomorrow that kind of stuff.. however, eventually everything fell apart,
first, my dad was a scientist, he was always hopeful, if there was something wrong he could find a way to make things right, but then the vessel
he was on was hiJacked by pirates and he was taken and the
police did nothing.. they just said “sorry for your loss” and moved on.
For a while, I had an imaginary friend, she helped me get trough
some of the really rough times, but as all friends do they fade.
then after the funeral the whole world seemed to fade away,
No beauty, no color, no life, just a world of endless gray. I was only five years old, only then, I knew he was gone and not coming back, and almost every night for seven months I cried myself to sleep. Thankfully I had my brother and sister to lean on they helped me a lot and I loved them dearly.
But thanks to Henry Veheli and his daughter, Sasha. They helped where they could.
From what I heard Henry had a very hard time economically speaking, so what he did was he sent sasha away to live with her aunt. So that he could clime out of the hole he was in.
Twelve years later.
a war brewed and at the end of the war the economy fell and my brother and sister secretly enlisted in the league of factions military [as it was known at the time]
It saved the house and our backs, but the act destroyed my mother.
At the end of it a year later we received a letter, the war took its toll.
WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON TIMOTHY FETMAN.
HAS BEEN K.I.A.
AND YOUR DAUGHTER, LEAH FETMAN HAS BEEN DECLARED M.I.A
deepest regrets from all of us at the outreach center.
And yes the letter is dated a YEAR out of date. You know what that meant? My brother and sister where dead for a whole year before we found out! So imagine how we felt.
she cried, but I was in shock I didn’t know what to think, I needed to clear my head so I walked for miles and found a trail, and as I was walking, I saw a bench, and gracefully hanging over the bench was a cherry blossom tree, the wind gently wafting the petals through the air, overcome by grief I walked over to the railing and thought:
“I could just end it now. What’s the point of all this pain. And suffering, the galaxy will go on without me just fine, and no one would miss me…”
as I stand at the rail my grip tightens and a lump in my throat swells then
and a tear rolls down my face, then from nowhere voice says:
hey john, it’s been awhile.
I turn around to see a girl in blue jeans and a flannel.
Me: who are you?
With a surprised expression she says: John, it’s me, Sasha. She warmly smiles.
I squint to look to at her trying to remember, and then it hits me in the head like a brick.
I gather my thoughts and ask: where have you been all this time?
Sasha: dad sent me away to live with my aunt…he tried hard to care for you and your family…[she pauses and continues]..I’m so sorry for leaving..I didn’t have a choice.
There is a long silence.
Me: sasha… thank you. I needed to see you.
Then she glances down at my hand still tightly griping the railing. Her disposition changes she seems worried. John, are you ok?
Leave me alone…I say.
She thinks and says: I know, I haven’t been there when you needed me, but I’m still your friend as I always have been, she pauses and says: John, please be there for your family, they need you now, more than you know.
She calmly walks over to the railing and leans on it and looks at the view.
Me: why did you leave? I ask.
Sasha: because I had too. The only way I could survive is for dad to send me away…
She doesn’t say anything any more but just looks at the view, the last time I saw her it was a different time, a time of tire swings, and water balloons.
Now though, I can’t get over how much she’s grown in that time.
Her long silky blond hair seemed to wave effortlessly in the breeze and her steel blue
Eyes were fortified and strong, yet at the same time so loving and kind. Simply she makes me feel weightless, and free. myself again.
But it was her smile, It wasn’t fake in any way it was all genuine, I felt like I could always trust her, but with out a doubt she’s a strong woman, not just physically but in holding to her beliefs, and I can see she really wants to help others and for that quality, I’ve never met another person like her.
Me: I don’t want to hold you up. You can go..
Sasha: I won’t leave you, not again. I’ve got your back…remember?
Me: thanks, for not leaving me again…
for the next hour we watched the sunset and the moons rise.
She offers to give me a ride home,
Me: nah, I’m good I’ll walk.
Then just when she disappeared around the trail, I get a ping on my watch.
I answer the call and its the hospital,
the nurse asks: is this John Fetman?
Me: yes this is.
Nurse: Mister Fetman, your mother was admitted because she had a seizure,
however after a scan we discovered she has a brain lesion and the bleeding is not stoping
even with medication, the nurse stresses, please get here as soon as possible.
I bolt down the trail and see a parking lot, and Sasha is just pulling out.
I wave my arms and yell like a madman.
Me: SASHA! WAIT!
She stops the car and lets me in,
Sasha: whats wrong?!
out of breath, I just manage to say:…mom..hospital.
She gets the seriousness of my message. She floors it, and barrels down the dirt and gravel roads kicking up clouds of dust in our wake..
And I’ll be honest, I don’t know how we weren’t caught speeding.
When we reach the hospital I ask the nurse:
please, can you tell me where Helen Fetman is?
The nurse immediately stops what she was doing and says:
follow me please.
As we briskly walk the cold, brightly lit corridors, anxiety creeps up on me,
my hands are suddenly sweaty,
my mouth is dry and each step I take feels
longer and the last.
We reach the room and time returns to normal, but my heart sinks when
I see my mom hooked up to a ventilator and EKG machine,
she is very pale and weak. Sasha stands out in the hallway.
I walk over to her bedside and grip her hand. Her eyes are unfocused, staring far off into the distance.
She’s mumbling to herself. It pains me to see her like this.
she keeps mumbling for a few more minutes. Then the doctor that tended to her speaks up: she’s been unresponsive, she might be responsive to you though…
Mom.. can you hear me?
Her eyes suddenly become focused and alert. She’s so weak that her talking sounds like wheezing.. and taking a breath she says: know I love you— her speech trails off and her eyes are glassy and lifeless.
I can hear a dull alarm sound as doctors and nurses flood into
the room and try to revive her but to no avail.
Then the doctor says: I’m sorry we did all we could.
Then nurses quietly walk out of the room and I sit on a bench in the room I put my head in my hands and wonder: “this is my fault If I hadn’t left home..”
Then as the doctor is stepping out the door he turns around and says: she kept saying that she needed to give something to you, she was holding a letter when she first was brought in.
She made me promise that I would give this letter to you.
He reaches in his back pocket and pulls out a letter, and hands it to me.
Me: I wish I could say more than just, “thank you”
Don’t mention it, kindness should always be free. I’ll be honest thats truly what this galaxy is missing. Then he walks out and down the hall.
Then sasha walks in and says: you could stay at my place for a while.
Till you get things sorted at least.
Me: you really don’t know how much all you have done for my family.. what you have done for me, means to me.
We walk out of the hospital get in the car and drive to her house, her house is an old farm house, her and her dad live there,
her mom died when she was very young and has almost no memory of her,
so, she and I are both not strangers to loss,
we arrive at the house we get out of the car and walk in the house and
Henry[Sasha’s dad] is a kind man and a good father he’s tall and broad, a very hard worker.
[easily at home on the farm and at the shop. he’s the owner of a local scrap yard]
Henry stands there and says: your very much welcome to stay here as long as you need.
Me: I really appreciate this, thank you.
Henry puts his hand up and says: don’t mention it.
Could I sleep in the barn?
This request surprises Henry, but
he doesn’t say no.
I go into the barn and clime in to the hayloft.
Lay back and look at the ceiling.
And my mind wanders, then I remember the letter in my pocket.
I sit up and open the letter.
please never forget who you are, and trust your self, and your friends,
never give up, and don’t be afraid no matter what happens
or what you find, this is who you are and what you will be.
there is going to be a time, when we won’t be there.
We’ll need you to be strong for us.
be who you are,
don’t let your guilt bind you,
please, fly, among the stars,
and see worlds we could only imagine.
[In the letter is a small, odd looking necklace,
it’s an upside down triangle, the surface is scuffed and scratched.
the necklace has a metallic silver color to it.
But at the edges of the necklace is a dull reddish pinkish paint.
and there is an inscription on the top part of the necklace, it’s far too small to read and it appears to be faded,
I look back at the letter and the letter closes with a saying.
“May the paths you walk be clear and bright.” -Love mom and Dad…
I wipe away my tears and lay down and I look out the window and see the stars.
They give off a comforting glow as if the stars are saying: “we are here, everything will be alright”
I owe it to my parents to fly. it’s been my dream..So I will.
And so that is the reason why that I want to be a merchant captain, and I still wear the necklace to this day, and I haven’t taken it off since I put it on. More than two years now.
I took my captains license test yesterday so I’m waiting to see what it says, I’ll hear the result probably in a few days.
Also, the refinery where I’m working is actually in a different system than my home and
I called Henry and asked when I come back if I can take a look around the scrap yard.
it’s only been a year and I have saved up somewhere in the neighborhood,
three hundred and sixty thousand credits.
There’s a story behind this too in the will that my mom had,
Basically it said that all the money that my parents had
wen’t in to my account, I had only one hundred and sixty thousand.
And my parents left me, two hundred thousand.
And after all, I’ve been meaning to talk to Sash–.
then a deafening impact is heard. then hull breach alarm sounds,
and the computer says: all damage control teams to your stations
you will be briefed on the way.
And my bunk mate jay slams his fist on the bunk, and says: Terra! That’s the fourth time
[sometimes a stray asteroid or two can slip through the shield]
Me: ah, comon jay you know this thing happens.
Kinda stinks though, that we’re the only d.c.w’s on this station until tomorrow.
His full name is jaden yu, but goes by “jay” he’s been working at this station for ten or fifteen years and has saved my bacon quite a few times, but I managed to return the favor once or twice. He’s in his fifty’s and still kinda’ a kid in an a good way.
The station crew is at eighty five currently including us.
Well the job pays well, but the risk is very high.
And for the record d.c.w’s mean; Damage. Control. Workers.
So guess who has to go out into the cold unforgiving darkness of space and repair the hull, in the middle of an astroid storm? [You get one guess.]
Then a larger thud rocks the station.
Jay: guess we better get goin’, that felt bigger than normal. He says in a disappointed tone.
We walk down the corridor in a relaxed manor, until another jolt rocks the
Station. Jay and I look at each other.
Me: this isn’t funny anymore.
So we start walking at a brisk pace
Then the lights flicker and go out, leaving the station in complete darkness,
and to make this an even better situation, the gravity fails.
And we float haphazardly around the corridor,
Then suddenly the red emergency lights activate.
Then the computer says: emergency power-restored, life support-restored,
gravity restoring-in three, two, one.
The gravity snaps back in to place and jay ends up
slamming the deck flat on his face, I land on my back and lower neck,
I lay there like a dead fish, the wind knocked out of me.
Jay jumps to his feet.
I take a deep breath and sit up.
Me yeah… I’m here.
The computer activates a holo-display on my pda
and it says: below the living quarters is the primary power core, and the primary
power distribution center, the center has received major damage as a result of a large asteroid collision.
The repair points will be sent to your space suits.
Jay: great, that means the repair pods don’t have power.
We’re now running full sprint toward the airlock.
We get in to our very bulky space suits.
I look over at jays’ power cell and oxygen system and notice that the power cell is low and so is the oxygen system, but jay knows what he’s doing he’s been in worse situations than this.
Then jay gets ready to open the hatch,
he looks at me and waits,
he opens the hatch and we slowly
climb out the airlock, the space station is anchored to an ore rich asteroid where the FTL
fuel is mined.
After a few near misses and anxious moments, we’re finally are within feet of the
Me: I have eyes on the prize.
Jay: ok I’ll take care of stage one of the bypass, you fix the hull damage and work on stage two and keep a look out.
I grab my laser cutter and start cutting at the impact point,
Me: so do you have any plans for leave?
Jay: I’ll probably take it easy for a few days.
Then I see sparks coming from under a piece of steel casing. I cut away the mangled plate casing and see that the exposed part of the cable had completely fused to the under side of this plate.
Me: hey jay, do you have that extra cable with you?
Jay: uh..is it here?..nope..how ‘bout…here? Yes.. found it!
Jay hands me the cable, and says:
word round the station is that your leavin’
Me: yeah, I was thinking maybe, I might be a merchant captain.
This job gave me a good start.
Jay: well when you’re a millionaire don’t forget the little guys that
Helped you out. He says jokingly.
Me: I’ll comeback someday, and I’ll put in a big order for ya!
Jay chuckles, then says: I don’t say this often but it’s been nice to have ya in my cabin,
you’re a good kid,[his voice takes a more serious tone].
Jay: kid, once you’re a captain and you can travel between systems
don’t run, face your problems, I found that out the hard way. I got into debt and got in to the wrong crowd, and picked up some really bad habits, I just don’t want you to be like me…
He continues: anyway what should I do here I’m done?
Me: once I unhook the cable you can cut the steel panel free.
Jay sends me a thumbs up.
The storm lightens up a bit. But the computer says: Warning orbit destabilizing.
Me: hey jay, that storm we passed through, our orbit is bringing us around to face it again,
but we’re coming around the back end of it the “dust belt”.
Jay: great! Even worse than the actual asteroids being thrown at us!
I’ve seen a few unlucky souls disappear.
Don’t be one of them, Get your tether ready.
This will be worse than a dust storm.
I use my tiny ion thrusters to clime up the side of the station and find the junction box.
I unhook the broken cable and say to jay: ok cut it loose!
with one quick motion jay slices the plate and it floats away.
I place the new power cable in the socket and slowly make my way back to jay and try to connect the cables.
I try to connect the cables but the mag-lock isn’t working.
Jay: aah! The dang thing hasn’t got any power left!
He and I just look at each other for a second.
The jay says: No, absolutely not!
Me: I have to!
Jay: there must be another way!
Me: I’ll be ok jay.
Jay: why are you so sure?!
Me: Two reasons,
The suit will take most of the surge, what’s leftover will just knock me out.
Then I point to my chest and say: because I have something-someone to live for.
He looks at me like maybe I am crazy, maybe so, but for the safety of the station
We have to try. Right?
Jay thinks for a long minute and says: alright no time to waste.
I grab hold of the two cables and brace.
Jay: now in order for the mag-lock activate, you need to hold the cables the entire time.
All of two seconds.
Jay: trust me, I’ll get you home.
Me: ok, hit it!
Jay flips the switch, and I feel a cool sensation
moving up my arms, through and around my heart and then to the tips my toes,
then almost instantly excruciating pain runs up my arms.
The electricity saps my strength and I start to see lights moving in my vision.
Sunday present II
Then every thing goes black: then I hear a strange noise, like a low buzzing but like someone talking very far away. Then I see a gas giant with rings, and then the scene changes and I’m in a very dark room I can’t see the walls but I can see an orb like object that seems to undulate an eerie blue light. Afterward I see places mostly but I can’t make sense of them, the picture is faded, unfocused, and random, then I see a city, the buildings look so familiar yet equally strange.
Then I’m transported to the park bench where Sasha and I met.
Then a hand rests on my shoulder and a voice whispers in my ear:
The dream ends and I shoot up to a siting position,
jay’s there and says: easy!.. john easy.
I look around and I’m in the stations main hangar. I look out the hanger door to see the dust storm raging outside.
And the entire station crew is here, even the stationmaster is here.
Me: jay, thanks for bringing me back inside.
Jay helps me to my feet, but has a bewildered look and says: kid, you walked inside by yourself.
Jay: you saved my life.
Jay: yeah, as we were climbing back in, when my oxygen reserve and power cell went out and you turned around and gave me your reserve tank.
And you went with out air and a depressurized suit for three minutes, once you got inside and took off your helmet and just collapsed face down. And when I turned you over to see if you’re ok all of the sudden you just woke up.
Me: I don’t remember any of it.
Jay: how are you feeling?
Me: I don’t even feel like I was a lighting rod.
Then jay leads me over to the stationmaster.
The stationmaster is a black man in his late sixty’s and smokes like no tomorrow, air scrubbers aren’t free you know. Don’t get me wrong he’s not a bad guy in general but if I know one thing about him its that he cares deeply for the safety station and crew, but for the first time
he’s with out his pipe.[which meant he really was in a hurry because he never leaves his pipe behind. Or I’ve just never seen him without it]
his full name is Lenny Cordelia, but people just call him “Len” or “Lenny”.
Lenny: so this is the “human lighting rod”.
Jay: Lenny, he saved my life.
Lenny has a quizzical look on his face.
as jay relates the story, Lenny grabs something from his back pocket… he pulls his self-lighting pipe out, lights it and takes a puff and continues intently listening to the story.
I told you that he never leaves that pipe behind!
After taking in the story Lenny turns to me and asks: Would you like to leave early
your shift ends in..[he looks at his watch]..eighteen hours?
Me: would I like to? Yeah, but the contract says I work until the day is up,
so thats what I’m going to do, I feel fine, so am I free to return to work?
Lenny is completely bewildered, I don’t think he’s heard that response before.
He stutters: Y-Yeah theres some panels that need replacing in the cargo bay.
Then he says to every one: Alright, everyone back to work!
Once the crowd begrudgingly disperses.
Lenny says: Fetman, you saved every one on this station..he says putting his hand on my shoulder…and for that I’m grateful.
As I stuff the last t-shirt in my back pack, jay walks in the cabin and says: Hey kid. I got something to show you.
I sling the back pack over my shoulder and follow jay.
As we near the hanger I can hear the murmur of people, and when I reach the hanger the hanger Is bustling, the entire crew is here, then the crowd goes eerily quiet. Then out of the blue, lenny just starts clapping [pipe in hand], then another person, soon the whole hanger is clapping.
After minute the clapping stops and I walk over to lenny and ask: what’s all this?
Lenny: we just want to thank you for risking your life, to save us.
A refinery engineer by the name of Tom speaks up and says: I was walking down the outer refining corridor the power went, and I floated into an air lock, and as standard protocol
goes when the emergency power cuts on, the computer reroutes the air to the living quarters.
Well I was stuck, the airlock door had shut and I could feel the air being sucked out of the room I tried to call for help but the hallway was empty, then when I thought “this is it” power came back on. And later when I heard that you risked life and limb for people you really didn’t know…I’m grateful.
Theres a long pause.
Me: well, don’t expect a speech!
Most people chuckle.
Me: well, I will say this, for the short time I was here I didn’t get to know you all, but you’re like family to me and I’d do anything for my family.
Then a woman I only met once says: I thought you weren’t gonna’ give a speech?!
The whole hanger to erupts in laughter.
and after a few minutes of saying good-byes and handshakes.
The transport arrives, I look back and grin, then climb aboard.
I take my seat in the empty eight person shuttle and breathe a sigh of relief.
The transport takes off and I look back at the station and think: maybe I’ll visit again someday.
The shuttle begins the jump sequence, the stars and the nose of the ship begin to warp into a single bright white point in space, then there’s a light jolt of acceleration and a blinding flash, then after a moment the void of white light fades to a kaleidoscope of colors flashing by the window at breakneck speed, It’s strangely beautiful yet and at the same time completely chaotic. Most people throw up when it’s there first time through hyperspace.
I’m no different. on the first trip to the station I threw up on a strangers shoes he just shrugged and got on with his day.
You don’t get over space sickness until three or four jumps after your first jump.
Fortunately I’m not puking, yet.
She puts the ship on auto-pilot, and walks over to the over head storage and takes out a space sickness bag and offers it to me, I refuse and she puts it back and closes the compartment, then casually sits down a row in front of me and half faces me.
Pilot: so kid, what’s your name?
Me: John. you?
the pilot is a woman with greying hair in probably her late fifty’s
I’ve rarely seen that In all my years of flying.
Pauline: the guys at the station they gave you a send off.
Me: what’s odd about that?
Pauline: that’s never happened, who are you a senators kid? Or sumthin’?
Me: nah, I’m nobody special.
Pauline: well you’re somebody to them, and they’re hard to impress, come on kid what’s your
story? She asks.
So I relate the story, and try to recall as much detail as I can.
And I tell her the reason why I took the job, pauline is impressed and asks: how did you survive?
me: I don’t know I blacked out for a while.
She sighs: well, in any case you earned their respect.
Then the ship exits jumpspace with a light jolt, and eases into an orbit above my home world.
The Red giant and Yellow dwarf greet me.
Normally your average planet has one or two moons but my home has three.
And a small alarm goes off on the instrument panel. And pauline gets up and sits down in the pilots seat and looks at the data on the system.
Pauline: well, Taros. you’re a farmer?
Me: no my parents where refugees, they chose to settle here
did you ever hear of the belt war?
Pauline: ha! Heard of it? she chuckles. I lived it, I was the in the thirty-first armored division, lost a lot of good friends. We were fighting something. Someone but we didn’t know who.
[there’s a long pause]
Pauline: so what port?
Me: brook’s junction.
Pauline: hm, that backwater town, not a problem though.
Me: so were are you from?
Pauline: just a few skips from earth.
We talk for a little while, then she says: you might want to take your seat.
I get in my seat and strap in. It takes a few minutes, but the shuttle enters the atmosphere and flies a few thousand feet over the surface of Taros.
The planet was Terraformed in response to the ‘Belt War’ or the ‘League War’…[its the same war]…hundreds of thousands refugees came to this world seeking stability and peace.
Taros is a “goldy-locks” class planet, meaning that the flora and fauna, is lush and
the air is breathable as well as plenty of liquid water.
But Taros is most known for it’s mountain ranges, hiking trails, and dense forests.
As the shuttle fly’s over the surface, the thick forests thin, and slowly give way to lush farm land. Then the space port tower comes into view.
The space port tower
is a forty year old building with a white ball on top that houses the L.S.A.
Lidar. Scanning. Array.
Only the local police are allowed to dock directly on the tower.
some of the older landing pads are concrete, whereas the newer pads are made from a
new synthetic, lighter stronger materiel, less likely to warp or break over time than concrete.
Soon the shuttle touches the concrete pad with a thud.
I grab my back pack from the chair next to me and walk over to Pauline.
Me: ok, how much do I owe you?
Pauline: thirty five hundred.
Me What?, that’s half the standard rate.
She waves her hand and says: I charge too much anyway, this will cover fuel.
She smiles and continues: if you’re going to be a captain,
your going to need every last credit.
now get out of here before I change my mind. she says Jokingly.
I pay her and go on my way.
I text Sasha and say: “You can meet me at Toni’s”. I’ll walk.
As I walk out of the space port commons a horse and a flat bed buggy pulls beside me and a grey haired old man says: Well, john it’s been a while!
I look at the man he looks familiar…
Me: Daniel? Is that you?! I almost didn’t recognize you!
Daniel: yeah..[he says with a chuckle]..gettin’ older I’m afraid.
Theres a short pause, then Daniel says: well its a long walk into town… I’ll give you a ride.
Me: no, you don’t have to.
No..[daniel says quickly]..I insist!
I climb onto the buggy, sit down and daniel snaps the reins.
As the horses clop along, he starts asking about how the year went by and I try to explain to the best of my ability. Then he says: did you hear about Haley?
No, what about her? I ask. Daniel says quickly: she got marred last month if you can believe it. Her settle down?! I ask incredulously. Yeah that’s what I thought.
Who’s the guy?..I ask. Daniel says: someone Haley would go for, take a guess.
Daniel: no, but you’re warmer.
Daniel: yep, you got it.
Me: Really? I thought he had it out for Sharon… then Daniel says: well personally, I thought he had it out for Sasha.
Me: what? I ask with a dead serious tone, Daniel looks flustered for a second then says: well-I thought the deal was sealed when he asked for her to dance with him, and she accepted.
Me: When I asked Sasha about the dance went she just said: “it was nice”
Listen kid…Daniel says. I’ve seen many come and go, seen many join together, and split apart. But when two people have a true friendship, that bond is stronger than the stars themselves. You and sasha have something.
We talk for a while longer. when before I know it we’re trotting down the gravel lined main street.
The town is bustling with people, tractors and visitors.
The reason? Its the end of the harvest season just before the winter solstice.
[there is no real ‘fall’ here on Taros, within a few days the leafs completely fall off the trees and a few days after that, snow, a lot of snow.]
There are tractors here from every era, from the 1920s style to Mag-Lev hovering mammoths.
And different crops; corn, barley, oats, wheat, apricots, heck, even pumpkins! are being bought and sold, there ether shipped by train to the space port for off world purchase, or the metropolitan capitol city of New Castle.
I look ‘round the town square and walk in to a bar called Toni’s.
in the middle of the day it’s empty, but there’s a bartender here.
I walk into Toni’s and as I open the door I hear the old tinkle of a hanging doorbell.
the bartenders name is Dale Baker, when I was in high school,
normally the seniors torment the freshmen’s but dale didn’t.
I guess he took pity on me. For some reason, can’t imagine why.
He was a “speak softly and carry a big stick” kinda guy.
He’s a big guy tall and very strong. Nobody messed with him.
he helped me out quite a few times.
Dale: How can I help you? [He asks not even looking up]
Me: shake my hand?
Dale looks up and sets down the cup he was polishing and walks over to me and shakes my hand.
Dale: so what are you doing back in town?
Me: finished the contract at the station, so I’ll be back for a while.
Dale: It’ll nice to have you back, lemme go get Toni.
Dale disappears around the corner, and a minute later I hear then the thundering footsteps of a short heavy set man in his late seventies.
Toni walks around the corner and says: pay up!
This causes a good round of laughter.
Toni waves us to a table and we all sit down.
ok here’s what happened I somehow convinced Toni that I would do some kind of entertainment, so I bought four brooms and took off the handles,
and would balance plates on the ends of them and that would be the entertainment.
But one time I was on standing on a chair, and I slipped off the chair and shattered every
Single plate. Eh, we’re all human…
We talk for a little while longer, then Toni says: hey john, I really regret letting you go when I did, I just couldn’t pay you. [this is something that clearly has been bothering him awhile]
I wave my hand and say: forget it. The economy was bad for everyone..
Then the conversation shifts.
Toni: Well i got a personal question to ask, do you like sasha?
Me: well… I respect her.
Toni: what the heck does that mean?
Me: First of all I wouldn’t be a good choice.
Toni: why? You seem like a fine young man.
Me: I just don’t want to get in her way, she still has a bright career ahead of her..you know?
Toni: haven’t heard that before… I guess that counts Dale. He says holding an open hand to Dale.
Dale sighs, and silently hands Toni five credits and seeing the annoyed and quizzical expression on my face he explains: you see we have a bet going round town who’s gonna be the next couple.
I just shake my head and ask: so where do the credits go?
Dale chuckles and scratches the back of his head then says: don’t worry, the credits go to a community fund.
Me: for what?
Toni cuts in: a school, pre-k, middle, and high.
Me: huh, how much do you have set aside?
Dale: five hundred thousand, out of three million. We’re working on it though.
Me: good..good. I say nodding not fully believing his story.
Dale: so.. he says in a slightly mischievous tone.. the Moons Light Dance is in a week.. you gonna bring anyone?
I chuckle..are you kidding me?!
Dale: no I’m serious.
Me: Dale, you know me, I’m the kid that stays by the snack stand and doesn’t have the courage to ask someone to dance.
Dale and Toni chuckle but then, Toni’s expression shifts and he says: so how long have you been sitting there?
To my surprise Sasha stands up from a corner table and says: not long..[then she quickly adds]..you ready?
Me: yup, I’ll be right with you.
I walk out, and get in to the car, where awkward silence abounds.
Finely after what felt like an eternity she asks: so you respect me? Heck does that mean?
Me: we were just talking sasha..
Sasha: yeah, right.. she mutters to herself.
Me: So how was the dance?
Me: really, cause it sounds like you had a good time.
Sasha: what are you talking about?!
Me: Sam! You danced with him didn’t you?
Sasha has a look on her face I can’t describe, but I can see the gears turning like she’s thinking about something.
she heaves a sigh and after several long minutes I ask: so how’s Henry doing?
Then I ask a new question so did Henry finely sell “Bertha” yet?
Sasha: yeah, some off planet merchant wanted it.
Me: wow. Good, good.
After a few more minutes of silence I see the scrap yard over the next hill so I ask sasha: hey is your dad at the yard?
Sasha: yeah, do you want me to drop you off?
Me: yeah, sure.
She slows the car and stops at the gate, I get out of the car, and she drives away
with out another word.
As I walk though the yard I see starships of every shape and size; some shuttles the size of a shipping container, while some freighters can nearly be hundreds of feet long and two story’s high. I skirt along the edge of the yard and find a small parts shack.
As I walk into the shack I notice that Henry bought him self some new tools.
I guess the sale of ‘bertha’ was worth it. Then I see a frame of a ship, probably ready to be scraped.
Or not, once I heard a story of a captain that sold his ship because he had an engine
malfunction, well the mechanic that bought for scrap looked it over, and found that the captain
forgot to change his coolant and it gummed up the radiators and caused the engines to over heat, and eventually completely killed the hyperdrive, but the mechanic simply replaced the hyperdrive and the ship was good for another sixty thousand light years.
I walk over to the frame and there’s a very large tarp that covers the majority of the craft.
I hear Henry walk up behind me and ask: well, what do you think?
Me: from the parts I can see, its old.
He walks over and says: here gimme a hand.
He grabs one side of the tarp and I grab the other, as we pull off the tarp Henry’s grin grows bigger. Then he continues: ship itself is a medium size, multi-purpose freighter, but just small enough to even contend with a fighter.
Me: what’s the model number?
He pulls up the manifest and says: Blue Jay.
He continues: it’s mostly complete..except for the P.E transfer box, Medical grade. Oxygen. Scrubber.and Sanitizer, or M.O.S.S. type1-b,
sound wave stabilizers for the repulsers, five quartz-computing nodes, a whole new set
of magnetic plasma coils for the sub-light engines, and the hardest part to find is a like new warp drive, and an Ergonin crystal.
Me: why did you do this? Henry: well, I wanted to but also…it’s in your parents will.
Me: what? Henry: yeah I looked at it and found a note, and that’s what the money was for.
He continues: I’ve done as much work as I can but she won’t be space worthy until we can get ahold of a copy of the technical specs, and the parts, but I can tell you where to start.
Henry: well, the space port is the place I’d start for the specs, for the parts..
he shakes his head and continues:.. you can salvage what you can from here, but you’re
really going to have to get creative when looking for the rarer parts.
Me: ok good to know….I got something that I want ask you about.
I tell him the story and his demeanor visibly changes, he stands straight now and his arms
are crossed but I can see that he’s still interested, but his posture is not condescending.
Me: so what do I do?
Henry sighs and says: well, except it happened, she’s probably trying to figure it out just like you are. There will be repercussions at some point, but right now just accept it happened, and move on. he continues: not that I approve of what you said but…he scratches the back of his head and leans over a little and says: I bet in your favor at toni’s.
Me: who’d you “pair” me with?
He chuckles and says: Amy Castor.
After processing what he said I shake my head and say: what’s with you people betting on who’s gonna be the next couple?!
He laughs a little[and avoiding the question he continues]: well I was about to close up, need a ride home?
Me: yeah, that’d be nice.
Henry and I walk over to a small fenced off part of the yard and I see an old pick up truck….but it’s not, it’s a replica.
But! It’s a really old replica basically an antique.
I stand there and admire the truck.
Me: what kind of paint did you use?
Henry: the best kind.
Me: oh yeah! uh..omni-.
Henry: omni-refactive paint?
I snap my fingers: yeah that’s right.
he gets in the truck and says: hop in.
I get in the truck and Henry pulls out of the yard and we drive toward home.
The sun setting and the moons rising.
I ask Henry: so on Saturday how did sasha do on her exam.
Henry: well as you know, she passed with flying colors, but the most interesting thing is the medical advisory board contacted her and said: ‘we would like to have you come to collage, if you except you have a promising career ahead of you’
Me: where is the Collage?
Henry: Alpha Centari.
Me: Wow! That’s the Collage.
Henry: I know that’s what I said! but, she seems to have something weighting on her mind I’ve tried talking to her but she avoided the question,*tsk* but I can’t put my finger on what it is, I think she’s nervous is all..
after a while we arrive at home we get out of the truck and walk inside, and sasha is cooking supper over the stove.
Henry seems surprised: sasha, I thought I was going to cook tonight.
Sasha: no it’s fine I felt like it.
She serves us then herself last.[honestly cooking hasn’t changed much since the 2140s,
people are still pushing the “pill” propaganda, the said pill in question is the nutrition pill,
So supposedly by now we would eating pills instead of food, I mean common! That’s almost inhuman!]
She cooked broccoli, chicken and rice. It’s just simple, I don’t know about you,
but I don’t need a four course meal to be happy.
The conversation was light and carefree, almost like for a moment I had a family.
Afterwards Henry turns in for the night, and I offer to help clean up but sasha declines.
Me: well I guess I’ll turn in too. I start walking toward the door: night sasha.
She responds: night.
As I walk out the door around the side of the house I am stopped dead in my tracks by a woman…
She is wearing a mask that obscures her face and the only way I can tell she’s wearing a mask are tiny lights on the masks surface. And a cloak like garment as well.
: mister fetman.[her voice is clearly modulated]
me: what do you want?
: Right now, to talk.
I cross my arms and listen.
: what you did on Hydra Station has not gone unnoticed.
Me: what I did?
: yes, we analyzed the space suit you wore when working at the station.
Me: who are you again? I ask.
She ignores my question and continues: we found that you went with out oxygen and pressurized a suit for three minutes.
And the suit sustained a major electric shock but the most interesting thing is
the suit took only a tiny fraction of the power, that amount of power surging through you was
surely almost enough to vaporize a you, yet somehow you survived, with no injury.
I sigh, and process the information.
Then with the ever so slightest expression of surprise in her voice she asks: where did you get that necklace?
Me: my mother gave it to me before she died, I keep it as a memory of her.
For a second she seems to slightly tilt her head and analyze me.
Then says: here take this. She hands me a card, on it has the numbers G-8-0-9-6-4-7.
call this number when you feel your ready.
Then I hear the porch door being opened when I turn round and sasha stands there she asks: who are you talking to?
I look back and no one is standing there.
Me: no one. I say with a hint of surprise.
Sasha: I wanted to say I’m sorry for being so cold earlier, I’ve just had a lot on my plate, and not much time to think, the letter deadline is in a few days and then you, leaving. She says in a depressed tone.
Me: Sasha, go for it.
You helped me when my mom died, you gave me a roof and a home when I had nowhere to go.
Me: You’re helping me now, with my dream.. maybe I want to help you with yours.
she walks over to me and hugs me tight and just says thank you.
She pulls out of the embrace and says good night.
I walk back to the barn and just as I go to open the door I feel a cool gentle breeze washing over me and I turn around to take in my surroundings the moons overhead and the tall grass swaying gently in the nighttime breeze it’s a beautiful scene, then my thoughts are ripped from me when I see a faint figure very far
in the distance, the figure out stretches their hand.
I blink and the figure is gone.
“just my imagination” I think.
I walk in the barn and quietly make my way to the hayloft.
But I’m happy for sasha, she needs a chance to “go for it”
Now, I can imagine you thinking: “why are you letting your best-friend slip through your fingers”.
Because, maybe she wants to have her own life, I want to give her that chance, and if we do grow closer as friends, well, I’m still here, but for now we’ll probably just go our separate ways now don’t think I don’t care because if I didn’t care about her feelings, I would only care about how I feel, and I wouldn’t be a good friend if I did that.
I’m going to sleep.
Tuesday morning part- I
TUESDAY-morning, part I
I shoot up to a sitting position my forehead covered in sweat, my heart pounding inside my chest [oh man, what a dream…there was people running, screaming, then the bombs came..bodies… so many…and-and ships flying around like angry hornets]
Then as I’m sitting, sasha bolts into the barn and yells: John! You need to see this!
Get in the house quick! She runs back to the house and I climb down and I run as fast as I can, I reach the house and open the door and the news is on, out of breath I ask: What happened?
Henry Is speechless and sasha is visibly worried.
The news comes on again and I listen…
“the galactic senate is holding an emergency meeting, the reason is unclear, how ever we suspect- then the newscaster stops and says: we are getting a live transmission from and unknown source, then the monitor is taken over by a symbol of a shield that has orange, bronze and silver streaks running through it, then commanding voice speaks: we wan’t what’s best for you, so reach out, stop governing like children, and submit.
The transmission ends, and I feel a cold shiver run up my spine, fear fills my heart and goose bumps are on my skin.
Damn marauders, Henry mutters.
Me: Henry, are you heading to the yard?
Henry: yeah I was going to arrange sale of a finch chassis.
Me: would I be in the way if I worked on the ship you set aside?
Henry: No, you’d be fine.
well before we go, lets grab some breakfast.
We eat our breakfast and after awhile we’re on our way to the yard.
As we’re driving down the road Henry asks: so how did your talk with sasha go?
Me: you heard us talking? Henry: yup, you need to remember to close the kitchen window.
Theres a pause then Henry says: you’re a good kid for letting her go on her own and do what she wanted.
Me: thanks, I guess.
And after a while we reach the yard, Henry pulls in the fenced off area and we get out and Henry unlocks the yard’s large fenced gates.
I ask Henry: can I borrow your truck?
Henry sighs: yeah go a head, where are you going?
Me: Spaceport I want to get as many parts as I can before I can start work on the ship.
Henry: yeah go ahead.
I get in the truck and drive to the spaceport commons.
The space port is bustling much more than normal I guess every body saw the broadcast earlier. I see crate after crate being loaded on to ships and ships taking off and landing quickly.
I get out of the truck and am walking in the spaceport commons, and as I’m walking
I see three people trying to move a large pallet onto an already overloaded ship, the woman hollers: HEY BUDDY CAN YOU HELP US!?
I run over to the ship and help push large the pallet onto the ship [and it seemed at one point that I was only one pushing, me and my weak arms, I guess…anyway] then the people thank me but one guy stands there and gets a good look at me and walks away then the ship takes off.
Then I walk over the commons and look for parts, after a while I find an old parts shop.
I ask the clerk: I need all the parts on this list, do you have any in stock?
The clerk is a man in his late fifty’s.
He looks at the list and whistles: man, what kind of ship are you restoring?
me: a Blue Jay.
The clerk looks up the schematic and rattles off some information: uh.. built in the 3230s blah. Blah.blah… Ah interesting, Variable Warp drive, speed 94.7 light years a second, not bad.
P.E transfer box, M.O.S.S. type1-b, sound wave stabilizers, five quartz-class computing nodes, a new set of MPC’s for sub-light engines, warp drive and an ergonnin crystal.
The clerk looks at me and says: most of ‘em are off world, but the ones that are on-world will come within a few days they’ll only arrive one at a time though, you can pick them up when they come in. also the warpdrive and ergonnin crystal…well, you’ll be on your own.
Clerk: that’ll cost you a150 thousand.
Me: yeah…I say hesitantly…I’ll take it.
I transfer the credits, and when I turn to leave the clerk says: wait! I do have one part in stock that you need.
I turn ‘round and he continues: I have a PE transfer box and mounting brackets.
Me: and how much do you want for that?
Clerk: Nothing, you already paid for one so, I’ll just take it out of the order you placed and you can have the one I have in stock.
Me: ok how big is it?
Clerk: five by two, five feet long and two feet wide and hundred and fifty pounds.
Do you have a way to move the box?
Well I have a truck I can bring it around back.
The clerk says: good! I’ll be around back. Me: how do I get to the back of you shop? he gladly gives instructions.
me: also could I have a copy of the schematic?
Clerk: yeah no problem, that will be three credits.
I hand the clerk three credits.
And he hands me a small disc drive.
Me: thank you sir!
He stops me and says: don’t call me “sir” my name’s Vince.
Me: Thanks, vince.
I walk through the crowded streets and finely reach the truck, and per vince’s instructions
I drive to the back of his shop.
where he uses maglev-clamps to put the box in the bed of the truck. I shake his hand and
get in the truck and drive start driving back to the yard and a large ship, flies overhead and disappears across the horizon. After ‘bout maybe twenty minutes I arrive at the yard and
get out of the truck and find some maglev-clamps, after I find them I grab the box and move it to a table in the shack, I start unboxing it, and after a while I have completely dismantled the box, I tried to be as neat as possible, but I’ll be honest, it looks like it was this box versus an industrial grade shredder, but I can bet you can’t guess who won.
Anyway, Henry walks over to me with a big grin and asks: so did you get what you needed?
I tap the box: well I got this, and I ordered the rest of them.
But I was going to put this in the ship so I could at least try and fire up the reactor.
Henry: can I help?
Me: of course!
Henry walks away and comes back with a rectangular looking power cell.
then we walk over to the ship, and using a lever we manually crank the back ramp down.
A cloud of dust hangs in the air.
The ship has two levels the cargo level the and engine room.
And the cockpit and logistics servicing area and bunks, as well as a small airlock hatch in the back.
Henry: I tried to fix as much as I could, she’s almost ready for a paint job, and
her new name.
Me: what was it before?
Henry: I honestly don’t know, when the cops dropped her off they didn’t tell me the name.
Me: who owned this ship before?
Henry: I think maybe a pirate, or a smuggler, or maybe just a dumb merchant.
I look around the empty cargo hold and Henry says: comon, lets get to work!
I climb up the ladder to the repair area, and Henry goes to the engine room.
As I look for the repair area, I just can’t help myself when I see the pilots chair.
I sit down and start playing with the instruments, the joystick is on my right and the throttle is on my left. I feel the controls. And other than the stiff seat it feels like home.
Then Henry yells up the ladder: hey! you gonna get to work? Or what?!
I open the schematic and find the spot where the PE box goes, and I use a clamp to hold the box in place,[the meaning of a “PE” box is Plasma to energy transfer box]
[and when I said repair area, I should have said a closet]
after I connect the unreal amounts of wires and cables,
I crawl out from under where I was working, and climb down the ladder and I find Henry hunkered over the main reactor/engine, feet completely off the ground and almost upside down.
I chuckle and ask: Henry, You ok?
Henry: yeh, just fine, in a minute gimme a hand.
Me: yeah, ok. After about a minute, he asks me to grab his legs and so I pull him upright.
And after he brushes himself off he says: this power cell I brought should kickstart the engine,
he grabs the rectangular power cell and inserts it into a slot and for a moment the reactor powers on, but then shuts down with a thud.
But the burst of power from the reactor must have been enough, to trigger the emergency power.
Me: Henry, the emergency power is on, let me try something, what operating system are you, computer? Then a digital female sounding voice speaks: hello, I’m your Interactive Remote
Intelligence System, or IRIS, how can I help you?
Me: I.R.I.S. why is the main reactor nonfunctional?
The computer slowly process the information and answers back: the reactor has no fuel,
Henry swears and throws his wrench against the wall then after a minute he says in a dejected tone: this is a “wet start” reactor.
Me: what’s a “wet start” reactor?
Henry: well, a normal reactor starts with a set of charged particles that causes a chain reaction in side the reactor core however this requires a lot of extra power.
So a “wet start” reactor gets ‘round this by using a specialized FTL fuel mixture to start the chain reaction. But the fuel mixture is highly volatile and unstable, and since the new laws regarding reactor safety you might have to go off planet in order to find it. You might even think about replacing this reactor with preferably a “dry start” reactor, and they had a nasty habit of if installed wrong, turning into a bomb.
Me: great I’ll add that to my list. I say in an irritated tone.
Henry: list? Me: yeah I also need a ergonin crystal.
Henry thinks for a long moment then says: have you ever heard of “scrap runners?”
Henry: well these guys and gals, tend to get to a battle site before the feds do.
And they pick a ship clean.
Me: how do you know all this?
Henry hesitates: well-I- for a while was a scrap runner.
Me: what? You?!
Henry: yeah, scrap running is “mostly legal” but most system authorities don’t like it.
However, you can find all kinds of things even the rarest of items.
Me: ok I’ll do it.
Henry seems surprised: ok, well then.. I used to work with a guy named “Jack”
I’ll give him a call. Then Henry pulls his phone out and calls the guy.
Henry: hey Jack I-[he’s cut off and rubs his eyes and says]: listen Jack, I got a kid here he needs some parts and he’s willing to work for you for a few days. [then he’s cut off again, after a long pause]: listen that was a long time ago. This kid is different Jack I know it.
[then theres another long pause]: New Castle? Alright, when would work for you?
Then Henry looks over at me and asks: would an hour work for you?
Yeah! I say quickly. Then Henry says: deck 4 section 17 ok Jack see ya.[and he hangs up]
Henry gives a sigh of relief and says: well, kid lets get goin’
Tuesday- IV the Test
we quickly leave the ship and after Henry closes up we hit the road.
On the drive to new castle the wide open fields become smaller and smaller and neighborhoods start popping up and before I know it the landscape disappears and sky scrapers loom over me.
And after twenty minutes of cursing traffic we finely reach the space port. New Castle space port is a gargantuan steel, granite and glass ziggurat that has; a hundred floors of landing pads cargo holds fourteen malls and a power generator akin to a nuclear fission reactor.
After spending a good fifteen minutes looking around, Henry and I find a map and walk to the place that Jack described.
I look at a massive concrete column and painted on it are letters 4-17
Then I look around and the landing pad is empty. The place in the space port we are in, is almost in a state of disuse.
Henry: well this has to be the right place.
Me: maybe we’re early?
Henry: well that’s possible. Jack was never one to be on time.
Me: hey anyway, how do you know so much about him?
Henry: I told you that I worked for him for a while, what I meant was I actually worked for him for several years.
Me: As scrap runner? I ask.
Henry opens his mouth like he’s going to say something but then is interrupted by an alarm sounding.
Henry: that’s the incoming ship alarm!
Then after a minute I see a small speck on the horizon. The speck grows bigger and after a while the ship comes in for a landing.
Henry and I step back. When the landing repulsers fire the concrete floor shakes beneath my feet. When a pockmarked freighter sets down with a heavy thud, I notice that there are four large and bulky grabbing arms, that would appear to serve some kind of use for salvaging space craft.
the cargo hold opens and out walks an old man, who I would assume Is Jack. And three other crew members walk out as well.
A man steps out how ever I notice that his eye balls and his forearms are some sort of a cybernetic implants, the iris’ are a yellowish orange. Next a lady with short grey hair probably in her early fifty’s.
Then, A short guy in his mid forties.
And a tall solidly built woman who is muscular and equally intimidating steps out as well, and from the way she holds herself I would guess she is in her mid forty’s and probably was ex military some point. Then I notice a tattoo on her shoulder that says “GM”
that stands for the former, Galactic Marine corps.
The old man walks over and introduces him self as Jack.
Jack says to Henry: you haven’t aged a day since I last saw you!
Henry: ah, I’ve aged just like everyone else. He says chuckling and patting his stomach.
Then after a minute or so of idle chit chat, Jack doubtfully looks over to Henry: so, this is the kid I’ll be hiring?
He looks at me and thinks.
Jack: Henry, I have a schedule to keep!
Henry: with what?
Jack chuckles and says: none of your concern you’re no-longer part of our crew.. he says poking Henry with a stubby finger.
Henry just shrugs: fine then, test him right now.
Jack: really?[he asks with a razed eyebrow]..I didn’t think you had it in you! Ether you went senile quick or…
Then Jack shoots a look to the marine.
She walks over to Jack, and asks yea boss? [in some kind of an old earth ascent that I can’t nail down]
Jack: find his weak spot.
She nods and starts walking around me in a circle, then when she comes full circle she notices my necklace she ♥♥♥♥♥ her head to the side and says: Hmm.
She makes a grab for the necklace. I dart back: what’re you doing?!
She ignores my question and looks to Henry and asks: so that’s the kid’s weak spot?
Henry nods in a doubtful way.
Then she looks back at me flashes a smile and says: well kid this will be fun.
She says as she cracks her knuckles.
Then she throws a left hook that clocks me right in the jaw knocking me to the ground.
For me, not you. She says coldly.
Then still reeling from the blow I get to my feet.
[I mean I’ve been in a fight before but I usually try to run first.
But I got no choice on this one]
then Jack cuts in and says: easy daz… try something else.
Then she gets in my face and says pushing on my shoulder: come on kid, where is it?
Where’s what? I snap back.
She takes a step back and turns to Henry: he doesn’t know?
Huh..well then! This will be interesting. She says.
She turns back to me and says: okay, kid gimme’ your best shot
I weakly throw a punch. She quickly grabs my arm and twists it behind my back and kicks me on the back of my knees and I slump to one knee on the ground.
Then she lets go of my arm and walks over to Henry and looks at him for a second.
Henry sighs shakes his head and takes off his cap.
Then the marine squares herself and punches Henry in the chest so hard that he is thrown ten or fifteen feet away. He lays flat on the concrete floor motionless.
Then she turns around and says: your turn.
I grit my teeth: you’ll pay..
Really, you think so? She says as she picks up a pipe off the ground.
Then she takes a swing at me. I dodge back.
The pipe makes a light whiff sound as it passes inches from my face.
I throw a punch with my right hand.
She quickly grabs my fist.
And starts to slowly and painfully crush my hand.
Then with one quick movement she pulls me toward her and at the same time clobbers me on the side of my head.
Dazed and disoriented, my head ringing like a bell, I fall flat on my face. I feel tiny little pebbles poking my face.
My eyes roll back and my eyelids shut. I feel myself slipping away…
theres a moment of complete silence.
after a moment though, I hear voices whispering..
when I open my eyes and I’m standing up in a hospital hallway.
I look ‘round and see an open door and but just before I walk through, a nurse briskly walks out of the room and down the hall. And as the nurse walks by I see her eyes are red from crying. I pause for a second then I walk in the room. When I turn the corner I see my-my parents. My mom is sitting in a hospital bed cradling a baby in her arms weeping and my dad beside her.
My question is unanswered. However the child starts to cry, but the cry is louder than normal and after a few moments it’s deafening even to the point of piercing.
Then after a moment the cry fades away and is replaced with a sharp ringing that fills my mind and causes me to loose my balance.
I stumble out in to the hallway and the ringing stops. I stand up again
But as I recover my hands start to throb in pain, I look at my hands and see that they’re bloody and bruised.
Then as I look at my hands I hear a voice yell faintly: John! Stop! I can’t tell where the voice is coming from I look around aimlessly. then I hear the voice again, except its louder and clearer. I look down the hall to my left and Henry stands there alive and well.
Then the ringing returns, my vision becomes blurry and unfocused.
I shut my eyes and slump to one knee.
Then I can feel a light breeze blowing on me, and the ringing is gone.
I open my eyes and I’m back at the space port I look ‘round and see Jack and Henry looking at me with a look of surprise.
Jack speaks up and says: well kid, you’re through the worst of it now.
Through the worst of what? I ask as I brush the dirt and pebbles off me.
Jack: I’ve rarely seen some one put daz in her place, yet you did.
Me: what?! I don’t remember anything.
Jack just shrugs: we all react differently, It’ll go away with time.
Henry: you ok?
yeah, I’m fine. I say with a hand wave.
Jack: you know how I know for a fact that you’re “different”?
Jack: you stopped.
Me: Huh? What do you mean?
Jack: when you where fighting daz over-there. he says gesturing with his thumb over his shoulder….kid you have heart, and for that you are welcome to join our little merry band. He says with a smile.
Me: thanks, I’d love too.
Jack and I shake hands, and Jack walks back to his crew and starts a very animated discussion.
As they’re talking Henry says: kid, I hate to tell you but what you just did wasn’t the real test. That hoop that Jack had you jump through was just to get him interested!
Me: what do you mean?
Henry: I mean that he’s going to test you much harder. your life will be in danger.
Me: why would he do that?
Henry: because he needs to see how you will react in a life or death situation I know because I’ve been there.
Me: well, I can’t back out now!
Henry: No, you can’t. Just one piece of advice. You can trust Jack but tread lightly around his crew.
I sigh and stare at the ground with a nervous expression.
Then Henry puts his hand on my shoulder and looking me in the eye he says in a sincere, compassionate tone: I have faith in you.
And I feel a sense of compassion and pride wash over me, but it’s not coming from me it’s coming from Henry.
Then Jack disentangles himself from the discussion and walks over towards me and Henry.
Jack: so! He says in a cheerful tone.. can I show you to your bunk?
I nod and Jack his crew and I walk up the large cargo door ramp, I’m halfway up when Henry says: just remember what I told you.
Jack, now at the top of the ramp asks Henry: what’d you tell him, Nothing bad I hope?
Henry shrugs with a smirk: no more than usual… after that Henry starts walking away.
I walk into the large cargo hold and it’s twenty-four feet high and fifty or so feet long, and thirty feet wide.
as I’m looking around Jack says: well kid lets go.
Strangely, I didn’t get sick this time around when we jumped, Guess I’m getting used to it.
Oh, I learned the names of the other crew members besides Jack and daz.
The oldish lady with white hair her name’s Valery she goes by “Val” she doesn’t talk much if at all. what she does exactly, i don’t know…she’s just there.
the short guy’s name, is Warick he goes by “rick”
he has an unhealthy need to build bombs, but the ship hasn’t been blown up, yet…
and the cyborg-guy-dude-thing..[ugh]..his name is T.E.O. which is an acronym for:
Technologically. Enhanced. biological, Organism.
And Daz…ok look, I’ll shoot you straight, I don’t know daz’s story, like I literally know nothing about her. Maybe she has a past that she is trying to run away from or forget, But it seems that most people today have some kind of a regret that they’re trying to runaway from.
Then I hear Jack over the Com: every one up! We’re here.
I jump down off my bunk and run down the hallway and Jack and teo are siting in the pilot seats, I walk over to peer out the cockpit window to see a battle scared republic frigate it almost dwarfs us in size…I didn’t tell you about the factions, did I?
Quick history lesson…
The Republic was formed after the Faction war of 2390, a bitter dispute of ethics, political power and resources. The 24 separate factions that now republic is made of, each faction had a glistening arsenal of nuclear weapons, all sides where afraid of the weapons but no one wanted to give them up because doing so would make them vulnerable to pirates, mercenary’s, etc, so the senate was formed and soon after the republic. The nuclear weapons were all confiscated and deconstructed…[At least we hope]…No faction would have solely maintained peace. But together they had a chance. and for 421 years the Republic was the sole government in the known galaxy.
However, one message sent directly to the senate chambers shook the republic to it’s core.
“grant us our freedom or we will refuse to pay taxes”
so the Republic, to save their skin, allowed the Colonies to form into governments.
And the first faction to form a government was in the east around 420 years ago “The Syndicate” then 200 years later in the south..the “Free Worlds” as well as the “independent worlds” aka the “Pirate worlds”
Then around thirteen years ago before my brother Tim died, and my sister Leah went missing.
The senate declared war on the marauder clans and a bloody war exploded.
The marauders are officially blamed for the war, but some suggest that the war wasn’t an accident in fact, they suggest that the marauders weren’t responsible, however most agree that these are just conspiracy theories. The marauders also as a part of fear mongering, hiJack the local news and radio signals and try to spread fear. Thankfully, most know who is sending these messages…Ok..so long story short, the three factions of humanity, Used to be apart of the Republic, But now are separate.
*a note there was a civil war around two hundred years ago.
it was rumored that during the war a Merchant Captain went from “zero to hero”
probably just a rumor or war time propaganda…*
I told you all I could in a short time, And that was skipping the details!
History lessons over…
Jack says: ok teo scan for power signatures, teo types some commands into the console
and responds: it appears we are not alone.. he starts scanning again.. it appears that its a small ship no bigger than a fighter.
Jack: Heat signatures?
Teo: nine. Plus seven on the frigate. They appear to be holdup in the mess hall.
Jack:..Hmm, I say we go for it.
Five to nine, risky isn’t it? I ask.
Jack swivels ‘round to face me and stands up: risky? Yeah! Course it’s risky, but we have six remember? He says patting me on the shoulder.
He then turns to teo and asks: is the jammer running?
Teo responds: yes, running at full capacity.
He walks past me and down the hallway to the living quarters.
I follow him down to the living quarters and lean against the wall facing the Holotable.
The whole crew is here, and Jack pulls up a scan of the ship and starts going over the briefing…
Jack: this isn’t going to be a simple scrap and run, we have company, and it seems that there are hostages. And according to the Informant this is expected.
Me: who’s the “Informant”? I ask.
Rick: can it kid..[He says sharply]..that’s need to know only, and you don’t.
I cross my arms and continue listening…
Jack: as I was saying, this is expected and we’re prepared, Rick, Daz, Val.
You three are the distraction, give us the signal when you’re in position. Teo and I get the data, Fetman will bring the hostages back to the ship.
Any questions? No? Good… gear up we move out in ten. If anyone is late getting back to the ship we will leave without you.
The group walks over to their individual lockers.
Jack notices me looking over the group and walks over: hey kid, don’t let what rick said go to your head. He’s abrupt, grumpy, and in general..he’s got the worst case of “little dog syndrome” I’ve ever seen, But he’s the best engineer this side of Sol, and like all of us you need to earn their trust, but once you have it you are one of us.
Me: are you just sayin’ that because he’s short?
Jack chuckles and says: No, but that helps.
Me: so why me to bring the people back?
Jack: if Henry trusts you to hang around me, he trusts you, and if he does I do. Just remember though, you’re responsible for the lives of those on that ship and getting them back safely.
Teo walks over and says: we’ll need to get going, the heat signatures have begun to move.
Jack says: well kid, gear up. He shows me to a locker, Jack places his hand on an Id pad and the locker opens, I see a scarred matte black helmet with a surprisingly light also black chest plate, and a rectangular shield.
I take the chest plate and put it on my chest and almost instantly a set of arms clamp to my sides and start to build the armor. With the chest plate secure, I put on the hemet and the H.U.D springs to life and starts to list technical specifications. And lists a program called “A&D
trainer” after reading the summery. What it does is it calculates the weak points and punches
being thrown by your assailant and in the HUD it shows you the spots to hit and, supposedly you can remember how to fight and use the moves even not wearing the helmet.
After I’ve put everything on Jack walks over and says: you look good, I have one more thing to give you.
He and I walk over to a decently sized secure locker where he taps in a code and the doors open with a pneumatic hiss, a weapons locker. There are all kinds of rifles and pistols as well as ammo.[most mags these days are very similar to old earth guns except the bullets are replaced with a tiny canister of charged particles I.e. plasma, but the entire principal of guns hasn’t changed in hundreds of years] Jack quickly looks over the locker, picks out a pistol and hands it to me, and gives me a quick tutorial on how to hold it safely, and he points out the stun and kill settings as well as the safety, then he grabs a holster from a shelf near by and hands that to me as well. I wrap the holster around my waist, and slide the pistol in the holster.
Then as I go back to close the locker I see an ordinary looking brown leather Jacket on a hanger.
Me: hey Jack, what’s this?
Jack walks over, and seeing the Jacket he sighs and says: that was Henry’s. Then he takes the Jacket off the hanger and examines it and theres a stylized Mocking bird on the right shoulder. He then mutters: plucky, just like a Mocking bird. Jack has a wistful smirk, and then in an emotion I can’t read he looks at me and says: here kid. He hands me the Jacket then says: if all goes to plan, you won’t need to find a second hand ergonin crystal, you’ll be able to by a brand-new one. Then I feel a slight thud, then I hear teo over the coms: we are docked, everyone down to the airlock.
Jack doesn’t appear to have any weapons except a hunting knife and pistol.
He’s wearing a chest plate and a helmet. And on the side of the shoulder pad is the same stylized bird.
Wednesday- the mission- I
Jack: common kid, lets go!
He quickly makes his way to the ladder leading to the airlock.
I quickly don on the Jacket, grab the shield, and follow him.
I walk through the door and meet up with the crew. The airlock is a small room just big enough to fit six people.
Val, Rick, and Daz are ready, they look at me skeptically… Then Val speaks up. So kid, she asks. Do you know why you’re here?
Me: yeah, to help you guys. She gets right in my face and says: wrong, Your here because your expendable That’s the only reason you are still alive So stay out of my way… or if you get in the way of the mission, I’ll kill you, and leave your body to rot in a broken ship.
I stare down at the floor…
she condescendingly smirks in triumph.
I take a breath and look her in the eye and say: fine, but those people, are…I say pointing to the door. Their lives are worth more than my own, So yeah I am worthless compared to them.
Her eyebrow raises for a split second, then her expression shifts she huffs and brushes past me and stands at the airlock door.
I walk over to the far wall and set down the shield and heave a sigh.
The room is quiet. Then Teo walks in and says: we have fifteen minutes until the jammer is detected.
What!? Jack exclaims.
Yes, says teo. The mercenaries appear to have prepared for this eventuality. We need to move quickly… he walks over to a command console on the wall and types in a code.
The hatch hisses and opens. Val slips on her helmet and flips on her helmet mounted flashlight, picks up her short barreled rifle which was propped up against the wall.
And rolls back her shoulders, charges head long into the dark and dank vessel, along with Daz and Rick.
Rick stops before crossing the threshold and turns to Jack and says: good luck boss…
Then looking at me he says: see ya later kid. He then follows Daz and Rick. Down the corridor to a junction and turns right toward the bridge.
Jack walks over to teo and says something quietly, I can’t hear what he said.
Then he walks over to me and says: you ready kid?
Yeah, when ever you are. I say grabbing my shield.
Where I come from we have a saying: “use your shield first, your weapon last, is better to die protecting, than killing.” Remember that, please.. he says sincerely.
Teo walks over and says: follow me.
As soon as we cross the threshold into the cold, dark, and dank four way junction, the hatch seals itself with a pneumatic hiss, afterwards, we continue straight on down the hallway…
The only light is from Jack’s flashlight and teo’s holomap.
Jack and Teo are using sign-language to communicate.
It’s not the darkness that’s scary, it’s the quiet… the almost complete silence, except for our footsteps which echo throughout the corridors and hallways like a cave. The fact that we are not alone yet if we hear nothing we’re safe, but if we hear something we’re not.
Then Jack turns off his flash light and gives the hand signal for “stop” it takes a minute for my eyes to adjust, but three junctions down I see a faint light and hear footsteps.
Through basic hand signals Jack tells me to “wait here”.
I squat down and watch as Jack and teo creep over to the lit corridor. Jack quickly peers around the corner, he taps a button on his com three times and gets three quiet beeps in return.
Then I feel the deck plates shake beneath me and I hear a low resonant explosion, coming from above me.
Then I hear shouts from the hallway in front of me and the thundering footsteps of boots clopping along the deck plates. I hear the footsteps fade and a distant door hiss shut and an eerie calm sets in.
Jack turns around and says quietly: the deck is clear, make your way to the mess and bring the hostages back to the ship.
I nod, stand up and walk over to teo who transfers me a copy of the map.
As I look at the map hologram Teo says: you need to go you have nine minutes left.
I split from Jack and teo and briskly walk down the corridor to my right. As I walk I come to a junction my holomap, flickers then crackles and shuts off, [great] I look around and see that this part of the ship isn’t as badly damaged.
In this spot where I am, the air in here feels cool and dry and fresh.
The life support must have been redirected here. So I must be close to the mess hall.
I can feel a draft on my right side, but just before I follow it I notice three bolt impacts next to me I make a mental note of it, and follow the draft down the corridor, and I come upon a room that has large bulkhead doors that have been scarred by gunfire and have been partly forced open.
The hallways aren’t well lit so I blend in to the shadows. I slowly creep toward the door and peer around the corner and see the seven hostages are being guarded by four pirates with some kind of heavy repeating rifles, these pirates look though different, they have silver pads on their right shoulders that have gold edgings. And there’s one who’s tall and strong looking, his armor isn’t like the other pirates armor, its more sturdy looking and battle scarred, he only seems to carry a pistol. he’s is at least six foot five. Maybe more.
Wednesday- the mission-II
The hostages are siting down, bound with handcuffs in a loose circle.
I’m out of my depth here, I need to talk to Jack. I quietly make my way back to a junction and contact Jack.
Jack: what’s wrong? He asks quietly.
Me: there are solders guarding the hostages, and they don’t look like pirates ether.
Jack: then take care of them. He says coldly.
And to top it off he cuts communications… Guess Val was right, I am expendable…
I might as well try, don’t know till you try, right?
I walk back to the doorway and grip my shield tight and pull my pistol out of it’s holster and set it to stun, it does so with a slight whine.
I brace myself to run around the corner, one, two, three!
I charge ‘round the corner and surprise the pirates.
Before the first pirate can raise his gun I just manage to shoot him first. But the second pirate catches me by surprise, as a bolt grazes my shoulder pad. [thankfully I have armor on] I quickly put my gun back in it’s holster and charge toward him and hit him so hard with my shield that he’s knocked clear off his feet and slams into the far wall, he’s out cold. The third pirate behind me reloads his weapon and shoots a yellow bolt just past my right ear, I notice a piece of debris on the floor, using my shield to block the incoming plasma bolts, I grab the pipe shaped scrap and hurl it at the pirate as hard as I can, It clocks the pirate right in the forehead with a loud metallic, bell-like ping from his helmet. The pirate hits the floor hard, like a sack Betelgeusan tubers.
I turn out of breath, toward the fourth pirate who’s the tall one.
But instead of clobbering me in my weak state, he just says: well done Henry, you haven’t lost your touch.
Me: I’m not Henry.
The pirate asks: who are you then?
My helmet folds up over my face and retracts into the armor.
His helmet does the same.
After staring at me for a minute, he asks: what is your name?
John. I say. He shakes his head and asks again: what is your name?
John Fetman. The pirates expression changes he had a quizzical look, but now his expression is blank.
He sighs and with one lighting fast movement he knocks my gun and shield clear out of my hands and grabs me by the throat with one hand and shoves me up against the wall,
I struggle for breath. The pirate brings his face within inches of mine and yells: WHERE ARE THEY!?!
with unbelievable strength he tightens his grip and slides me up the wall, my legs and feet are dangling beneath me.
Me: who… I ask wheezing.
Oh, that’s right he says you’re too weak to do anything, let alone speak! You’re pathetic! You’re not worthy of wearing that symbol! he yells.
Still with one arm he pulls me away from the wall holding me by my neck he asks again, thankfully not yelling this time: where are they?
What? he pulls me closer to his ear.
And then two shots ring out, the pirate winces, his hand becomes limp and he drops me. I land flat on my back and cough for air. A second later the pirate drops to the floor next to me, dead. Once I catch my breath I stand up
To see a Republic officer holding a rifle in his hands. He lowers it and nods.
I walk over to the now dead pirate and rummage through his pockets and find a handcuff key.
Here, unlock yourselves. One by one they unlock themselves and start to rummage around picking up rifles and pistols that the pirates had.
Then as I bend over to grab my pistol, I hear the sound of a rifle being ♥♥♥♥♥♥ behind my head.
Hands up…says a voice behind me.
I raze my hands and slowly turn around to see an officer holding a rifle at my head who I believe, judging by the uniform is the Captain…
Who are you, and what are you doing on my ship?! she barks.
Me: my name’s John, and I would be rescuing you guys if you didn’t point that rifle at my head.
Why should I trust you.. asks the Captain.
Two reasons. One, because I handed you the handcuff key with out batting an eye, and Two, your officer shot that pirate over there…. saving my life, so I owe you guys don’t I?
The Captain gives me a hard unyielding stare. Then she lowers the rifle and says: ok, I’ll trust you but if you break that trust.. well, you get the idea.
Yeah, I do…I say muttering to myself as I gather my gear.
We quietly walk out of the mess hall and down the hallway, and after a short walk we come across a junction and according to my map we turn left.
After a little longer of twisting and turning through a maze of dark corridors and damp hallways, we are almost back at the ship.
As we approach another junction though my holomap starts to act up, again…
I try hitting it but it doesn’t help, it shuts off anyway.
Then I look around the corridor junction area, and see on my left the same bolt marks that I saw earlier… the Captain tells her “crew to wait here while we scout ahead”
This way..I say quietly to the Captain.
As we walk down the hallway, we come up to a junction the Captain grabs me by the shoulder and pulls me back.
I notice that down the hallway there are Three, no check that, four pirates silently patrolling the corridor.
Me and the Captain backpedal down the hallway to a point where we’re out of earshot.
Me: Captain, If I can contact my friends, they can close the bulkhead doors along this corridor so we can get to the ship.
Captain: It won’t do any good, the pirates disabled the IDP, so I propose a different plan; But first, we need a distraction.
Me: I’ll do it.
Captain: good, and make as much noise as you can.
Me: got it. what’s your name if you don’t mind me asking?
She responds: Anika.
We creep quietly back to the crew and relate the situation.
Wednesday- the mission-III
Anika manages to convince them to listen and lays out the plan.
Anika : John is the distraction, he’ll get the pirates attention but it will only work for a short time, remember your combat training and if you didn’t have combat training, then just keep your head down and run like Terra.
Anika : now kid, you have five minutes to distract them and get back to the ship.
And give me your contact frequency so you can signal us.
I contact Jack and Teo and relay that we are coming.
I run over the mental checklist: pistol on stun, shield, helmet..
I brace myself and prepare to do something that I’m probably going to regret.
I roll back my shoulders and run ahead of the group following me…
as I run I come to a junction and there I split from the group..
I slow down and creep slowly along the path where I saw the pirates earlier.
I half expect a pirate to jump out from a junction and shoot me, but around bend after bend it’s dead quiet.
Until suddenly I hear a radio and see a flashlight down at the end of the hallway.
I quietly pull out my pistol and ready my shield..[it’s not like I’m stalling or anything]
I carefully peer around the corner, and see two pirates guarding the hallway the Captain needs to take, one’s tall and one is short.
I look around for an idea, and I see it, a piece of debris about the size of a golf ball, I grab it and throw it down the hallway, it hits the far wall with a loud ping…
Then I listen as one of the pirates say: you hear that? theres a short pause, then one of the pirates says: well we probably should check.
I quickly hide behind a large panel that juts out from the wall, and wait anxiously as the pirates slowly walk down the corridor.
Then as they near me their com devices beep and one of the pirates answers: status- all clear.
I told you that you didn’t hear anything..says the tall one.
Yeah, I’m glad your right, after what Alpha did the last time I was wrong, hoo, I don’t want to be..the short one says fervently.
Yeah, says the tall one.. how’s the eye anyway?
Still can’t see a thing out it.. says the short one tapping his helmet.
Well lets get back to our post… says the tall pirate begrudgingly.
Then they turn around and start to walk back down the hallway, I quickly jump out from my hiding spot and shoot both of them in the back, they both fall to the floor face down and lay there stunned.
I tap my com three times to signal Anika and get three beeps in reply..
With that done, I walk over to them and search their belts for something of use.. hang on, what’s this?..
I pull out from a pocket a palm sized egg shaped object, and immediately recognize it as a hand grenade.
I search the other pirate’s belt and find no more.. two down two to go..
I continue walking down the corridor, to find a four-way junction with two pirates standing guard, and at the end of the hallway past the junction, the hallway turns right and the ship hatch is there, and from the fact that the ship hasn’t been boarded yet means that the pirates where stationed here to wait, and to cut down anyone trying to escape.
After seeing the two pirates, I backpedal down the hallway to another junction and pull out the grenade from my pocket, and examine it for instructions. [Because what average person knows how to operate a hand grenade? It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies…]
then in unbelievably small letters it says “push pad-arm- 20s”
So I push the button on the side of the grenade and the device beeps once…….Then It dawns on me that I’m holding a counting-down grenade.
I throw the grenade down a long hall and take cover behind a wall.
The grenade explodes with an ear splitting bang….[honestly I was expecting more of a flame when it exploded…. Again different than what’s in the movies] but what the grenade lacks in “flare” it certainly makes up for it in just sheer concussive force. Chunks of heavy debris, and bits of sharp metal, were hurled in every direction, the really, really heavy pieces were scooted along the floor, while the light and sharp pieces of metal were flung down the end of the hallway where I was standing, at such speed that they embedded themselves in the wall.
as I marvel at the power of the grenade, I hear a set of heavy foot steps thudding down the hallway towards me.
Wednesday- the mission-IV
A pirate runs around the corner so fast that he has to jump off the wall in order to make the turn, just before I can react the pirate shoulder checks me into the wall.
I clamber to my feet and face the pirate.
Like the rest he has a mask, but he only carries a pistol and a knife as weapons.
He throws a hard punch. I’m just able to get my shield up in time, when he hits the shield he hits it so hard that I’m thrown back down the hallway and land flat on my back.
I quickly climb to my feet, and lunge toward the pirate and throw a hard punch in return.
The as the fight continues my strength starts to wane and my opponent seems to get even stronger and faster, then with one hard kick to my shield I am thrown backward and land on my back. I try to get to my feet but the pirate triumphantly walks over and pulls out his pistol and points it at my head.
Pirate: well this was fun, but…he says pulling back the firing pin..but this has to end sometime.
He pauses for a minute and says: let me see your face, I want to see the face of the man who had the audacity to kill our Alpha..
My helmet retracts and the pirate says: hm?, you are but a boy!
Me: yeah, so?
Pirate: I must know, did you kill him or did someone else?
Me: why does this matter?
Pirate: because..says the pirate.. we all have a choice.
He continues: you acted in the defense of the officers, you were in the right for killing him.
Me: I.. didn’t kill him.. I say shyly.
An officer did..
this officer..asks the pirate.. do you know this officer?
Me: no..I respond.
I don’t know why he did what he did.
Then he says: that symbol thats Henry’s Jacket! He exclaims.
Then we hear gunfire off suddenly spark off in the distance.
Run kid the others need you! He says..
Why are you helping me?
He sighs and says..Tell Henry we’re even.
Then I run down the hallway toward the sounding gunfire, and catch up with Anika and her crew.
Wednesday- the mission-V
They’re currently engaging a single pirate that is physically blocking the hatch, he stands in front of the sealed hatch holding a piece of debris like a shield, and is firing back with a rechargeable Automatic Pistol. then the gunfire suddenly stops and I notice that the officers rifles and pistols have ran out of rounds. Then the pirate says: Well then..he says returning his pistol to it’s holster.. since you are defenseless I want to ask, before you all die of course, are you afraid of me?
Then a Republic officer stands up and starts walking toward the pirate.
Dawson get back!.. Anika hisses.
The officer ignores the order and says: no, I don’t fear you or your kind. He says.
Then the pirate says one word: Pity..
Then with an unbelievably fast movement the pirate grabs the poor Republic officer by the neck lifting his feet clear off the ground, then bringing the officer within inches of his mask he says: you should… then his mask retracts over his face. And an audible gasp rises from the group as the identity of the assailant is revealed.
The bright green skin, the deep purple hair, the unmatchable strength, and the psychopathic need to kill. Anika and I look in horror as the man that stands before us, is a member of the most vile and deadly breed of super-soldiers, the Alphas.
Anika quickly stands up and says: let them go, your fight is with me not them.
The Alpha shrugs and lets go of the officer, the officer hits the floor with a heavy thud, coughs and gasps for air. After a second or two he climbs to his feet.
The Alpha then walks over to Anika and brushes a piece of dust off her shoulder, then says: you are not the one I’m interested in, however you probably would have been…suitable, if you weren’t a Republic Captain…he says with a smirk.
he then turns his attention to me and tilts his head and says: so why do you want to be a Merchant Captain?
Me: Because I made a promise.
Alpha: aww isn’t that sweet, but why did you really want to become a Merchant Captain?
Me: because.. I like the idea of choosing where I want to go.
Alpha: no, I don’t think so, you want control your childhood was fraught chaos. You are so desperate for control!
Me: No! I-
Then he grabs my Jacket and shoves me up against the wall.
Alpha: I helplessly watched from space as the Republic dropped a Nuclear device on Zenith!
The last of my brothers and sisters, gone… except me.. Why me…
I wanted you to feel my pain, to feel what I felt.
I can see the Alpha’s eyes start to tear up, and I notice a tear roll down his cheek.
He then lets go of my Jacket and walks a few steppes down the hallway to gather himself.
I quietly ask Anika: is this normal?
She responds: no, his behavior far from a typical Alpha. She says with a worried tone.
Then the Alpha starts to chuckle, he then gives way to laughing hysterically.
Finally after the laughs run through his system he turns to me and says: so ironic, a boy talking of normalcy, and yet no single point in your life has ever been “normal”..I saw to that.
Then he starts to walk closer to me: ever wonder, why your father died? that was me…He says with a sadistic smirk… ever wonder, why Tom is dead, and your sister Leah is… missing? That was me too… he says his smirk growing.. ever wonder why your mother died an agonizing, painful death? Hmm?.. he is now within inches of my face, close enough to feel his breathing. That…was…me. He says seething with rage. Then he backs up says: Honestly, I thought you actually where going to jump off that railing, in fact you should have, yet, how you pulled through was a miracle, but then again, this miracle has a name doesn’t she… Sasha, was it?
Me: shut Up or..!
Alpha: Or what!? What are you gonna do, huh? Kill me?
I’m an Alpha you are human, YOU in many ways are beneath me,
hell, you’re so weak you can’t even defend yourselves!
With that he whirls around and draws his gun in a single smooth movement and fires a salvo of six rounds at the Republic officer. The shots hit him from the thigh all the way to the shoulder, the impacts seem to slow time itself as I hear Anika cry out: Dawson!
The officer thuds to the floor and dies. I suddenly feel dizzy and unsteady on my feet.
Then turning his attention back to me he asks: How did that feel? Did it hurt? To see somebody you care about, die? But, you probably didn’t feel a thing… thats right, you have no one to care about anymore, except one.
He gets in my grill again and says with a sadistic smile: I’ll do things so terrible to Sasha that you’d wish she was dead.
But I’ll let her live long enough to see your death, and to bear my future, and when the screams of humanity fill her with terror, and as iron, bronze and fire rains from the sky, and if she lives long enough to see it the sight of all those bodies that’s what will kill her, Seeing me beaten and broken he chuckles to himself.
Then I feel something inside me give way and I become suddenly calm. I shut my eyes and take what breath I can get. Then when I open my eyes the Alpha doesn’t seem so intimidating or his words.
Then I roll back my shoulders and stand straight and repeat the words that Dawson used: I don’t you or fear your kind.
The Alpha snarls and says: think so?
Grabbing me by my neck he throws me against the wall and yells: Fear Me!!
No! I yell back. This angers him even more, he pulls me away from the wall and tears off my chest plate and punches me in the ribs as hard as he can, I try to fight back but he’s just too strong, then he punches me in the ribs again but this time there is an audible *Crack* and pain just explodes from my left ribs.
The Alpha lets go of my neck and leaves me to writhe in agony at his feet.
Standing over me he says: look at you, you’re almost pitiful.
You’re incredibly stupid for standing up to me…Like this rat here.. he says talking to the Republic Officers corpse..
Alpha: get to your feet human And face me like this Republic scum!
Pushing through the throbbing pain and grabbing what breath I can, I weakly climb to my feet, I feel words bubbling up inside me, I can’t stop them: His.. name.. was.. DAWSON!!
I quickly square myself and punch the Alpha as hard as I can In the chest.
He’s knocked clear off his feet and is thrown fifteen to twenty feet back down the hallway and hits the floor with a loud metallic slam.
I quickly catch what breath I can and open the airlock door and usher Anika and her crew through, and they walk through the open door into the cargo hold, I quickly look back down the hallway and I see that the Alpha is gone. [rats]
I quickly cross the threshold and just as I go to close the door I hear a sudden shot of gunfire, I look to see Daz using Jemma as a crutch and Rick running like ships off of Terra.
Rick yells down the hallway at me and says: Hold the door!!
I wait to shut the door as they run across the threshold, once the cross the threshold I slam my fist against the button to shut the airlock, and it immediately slams shut and locks with a with a heavy thud.
I feel like I’m asleep, yet I’m awake.. this is a strange feeling.
Then I feel hot, no, the ground feels hot, I open my eyes to see I’m in the middle of the desert, two massive sand dunes on ether side of me but they don’t touch, there is a valley in the middle and the sand that I’m standing on is hard like it’s been compacted. Then I look around more and I see my shadow, no wait, shadows. I look back in to the sky to see two suns blazing, and a circular haze just near it I look closer at the haze and I see It’s a planet of some kind.
I take a step back to get a better look of my surroundings, and the ground suddenly caves in and a chasm opens up but before I can react I fall into the chasm. The light disappearing, Then everything is black.
Then I feel a hand rest on my shoulder and I wake up.
I’m in the cargo hold with the other officers, and Daz who looks mellowed out on painkillers.
I sit upright and rest my head back against the wall, and I hear a voice next to me say: you did good kid.
I look to see Rick still nursing his wound.
And I notice the pain when I breathe is gone I roll up my shirt to see a bandage and a blinking medical device to help with the healing process.
Then Rick says: I’m gonna catch a few winks, see ya.
I nod and Rick gets up and saunters away.
I then I hear a voice next to me ask: how are you holding up?
I look over to see Anika siting there.
Me: fine, you?
Anika: fine, thanks to you.
Me: no worries.
Then Anika asks: so, what the guy said was it true? [by guy she means Alpha, even two hundred years later the Alphas are still spoken with caution]
Me: yeah, I guess so.
[Theres a long silence.]
So where are you from? I ask trying to change the subject.
well, I was born on Winter but I was raised on Hope, my Grandma was also from Hope, she was one of the evacuees..Anika responds.
Me: I thought Hope was an abandoned planet?
Anika: It was, but the volcano that made us leave ended up bringing us back.
Me: how, The closest town to the surface is under thirty meters of ice?
Anika: the volcano that caused the ice age is ending it, it’s spewing huge gobs of methane and carbon dioxide, Gradually warming the planet.
Me: What about the ash, How are you dealing with that?
Anika: we have a small fleet of bulk freighters sweeping the atmosphere.
Just like they did on Tundra, and look at Tundra now, it’s a tropical paradise.
She pauses and asks: You? Where are you from?
Me: Taros, in the Ipsing system.
Anika: huh, that was settled during the League War.
Your parents where refugees?
Anika is suddenly quiet and deep in thought for some reason.
Me: I’d ask where they where they fled from but they always said “the cost of staying was too high..”
I never knew what they meant… guess, I never will.
Then I see the bright flash of exiting jumpspace from a nearby porthole, accompanied by the light jolt in deceleration.
Then I hear Teo say over the comms: entering orbit of Geminus, landing will begin shortly.
Anika: Geminus? And with that she quickly gets up and walks in to the commons area leading to the cockpit, I get up as well and follow her.
I follow her down the short hallway. And she walks up behind Teo and Jack.
And asks: how’d you get landing clearance on a level seven world?
Jack calmly swivels around in his chair. And says: none of your concern.
Jack: but how did you, know this was a level seven world?…He Retorts…Unless you’ve had clearance to land here.
Anika chuckles and says: you’re just as sharp as they say.
And you.. Jack says in return.
Anika walks out and brushes past me. I follow her down the hallway, through the commons and to the cargo hold.
Then I can feel the deck plates buffeting beneath me. [we must be landing]
Then a second later I hear the low rumble of the repulsers firing.
And then the accompanying heavy thud from the landing gear touching down on a hard surface.
Then I hear Teo say over the comms: we have landed.
After a minute or so the cargo ramp lowers and touches the concrete pad with a low ping.
Afterward Anika walks over to Jack, Teo, Rick, and Val. And starts discussing something with them.
I walk out on to the concrete pad and look around; the continuous foot heavy traffic, and the near constant chorus of ships taking off and landing, it’s kind of overwhelming at first.
The Atmosphere on Geminus is caustic, not toxic to humans just corrosive to things made of metal.
Then I hear Anika say next to me: I’d give you a tour, but the guys upstairs are going to want an explanation.
Then an officer in an unmarked uniform materializes out of the stream of people and greets Anika: Captain Springborn, we are relieved to see you back, your crew?
The surviving officers step out of the ship and walk over to Anika and stand at attention by her side.
Then the first officer starts asking vague questions about the mission.
Then I feel a chill run down my spine, I look around, and In the corner off my eye I see an outline a like a faint figure just out of focus, like a Ghost, I blink and the figure is gone.
Then my attention is drawn back when a second officer in an unmarked uniform materializes from the crowd and stands by the first officer.
The first officer ushers the Captain and crew along with the second officer.
Then as the Captain and crew vanish into the stream of people, the first officer walks over to Jack who now stands near me, and says: another job well done…says the officer… and as per usual there where no casualties.
Me: that’s not true…I interject.
There was a casualty, an Officer named Dawson.
Without taking his eyes off me the Officer says to Jack: you usually travel with five, not six.
He then turns to face to Jack and looking him in the eye he asks: is there something, anything, I should know about him?
Jack responds: nothing you don’t already know.
the air has a tension in it, I shoot a quick glance at Val and I see that she has her hand poised for drawing her weapon.
Even in the densely packed spaceport the noise seems to fade.
After a second of staring at each other the officer says calmly: every thing is in order here.
Then he starts walking away and just as he is about to enter the stream of people. He turns around and says: good hunting Captain, and John, I hope you find what you are looking for.
Then Jack quickly says: we’re leaving.
Then he and I start walking up the cargo hold ramp and once inside the ship takes off and within minutes is in the vacuum of space, then with Jack still in the cargo hold, looks at me and shushes me and walks over to a shelf on the side of the cargo hold and pulls out some sort of scanner, and proceeds to scan the cargo hold, and then the device beeps and Jack stops and looks around and he sees something in the upper corner of the wall near the ramp door.
He walks over there and after looking he grabs something that looks like a tiny ball and places it on the floor and says one thing: you’ve always been a pain in my ass since the beginning.
He draws his pistol at a remarkable speed and shoots the tiny ball, the plasma bolt vaporizes the ball with a small plume of smoke.
Then Jack heaves a sigh and says: it’s safe now.
Jack walks in to the commons where Teo, Val, and Rick are.. .. I follow him in and he sits down in a chair with a sigh, then he ushers me to sit. After I sit down he asks Val: what happened on the mission?
Val: once we’re in position you gave us the signal we made our way to the bridge, after reaching the target, rick quickly discovered the IDP was unusable..
Rick: no kidding… every single control panel on the bridge was torn to pieces.
Val: when the first pirates came trying to pin us down, we fought them off with ease.
But then the second wave came then the third and a fourth, Jack…Val says… this wasn’t typical pirate behavior, this was just sheer strategy and cunning, and brutality.
Jack rubs his eyes and stands up out of his chair and faces the wall away from us.
Then Val quickly stands up and asks: you.. knew about this didn’t you!?
Where you trying to get us killed!!?
No!…responds Jack… they said the ship was taken over by mercenaries the only thing odd he said was that they where “well equipped” but no other than that I didn’t know anything.
Val: anyone else have any thing to add, this can’t possibly get worse.
I raise my hand cautiously.
And Val says: speak up kid.
Me: when we where on our way back we where stopped by a pirate.
He was unbelievably strong and fast… I brace myself for what I’m going to say next..
and the pirate had green skin…
Val: an Alpha?!
Me: yes, the pirate—the Alpha, killed an Officer named Dawson, I don’t remember much I just felt so angry.
Val: convenient you don’t remember much..she says walking towards me..and all you came back with was a broken rib, and you sit here like nothing even happened.
With a lighting fast movement she draws her pistol and points it directly at my forehead and yells: Who are you!?
Jack speaks up: Val! What are you doing?
Val: this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen an Alpha steal someones face!
With out another word she grabs me and tosses me out of the chair, slamming me on the floor.
Val: I’m not gonna ask again… I hear her pull the firing pin back with a metallic click.
Me: then do it, but before you do, look at me and tell me, do I have the eyes of an Alpha, or a Human?
Val gives a hard unyielding stare that seems to rip into my soul.
Then Jack speaks up again: Val, think about what you are doing you have a choice now, remember that.
Then her hard stare stops and she disarms the firing pin and returns it to it’s holster.
She then says: you don’t have the eyes of an Alpha… then storms out of the room leaving me laying on the floor in bewilderment.
Jack walks over and helps me to my feet.
And asks: wanna help me out flying for the night, I could use a copilot, and Teo’s been itch’n to take a look at the jammer to figure out why the mercenaries detected us so quickly.
Me: yeah, sure!
Then Jack and I walk into the cockpit and Jack sits down and I sit in the copilots seat.
After a minute or so Jack says: you know… Jack says frankly… in all my years I can still tell when someone’s lying.
So I’m gonna ask nicely, and not like Val did.
What aren’t you telling me about the mission?
Me: I saw something I can’t explain.
Me: a pirate, he was taller and stronger than the others and he kept asking: “where are they”
Hm.. Jack contemplates.. maybe the pirate mistook you for someone else?
Me: yeah, maybe.
Then Jack starts inputing coordinates into the jump control panel.
But something is different with jump markers, instead of the route being one jump at a time from what I can see the route is one continuous line.
Me: Jack, where are we going?
He responds: Skymoot.
What’s there? I ask.
The thing you came for… he replies.
He unconsciously puts his hand on the throttle, then stops himself and says me: go ahead kid, you earned it.
I put my hand on the set of throttle controls.
I slowly push the throttle forward, and a tiny white light forms at the nose of the ship and the stars start to warp into the light dot, and the noise of the engines reach a crescendo of low buzzing and a light whining. The ship enters jumpspace with a thunder clap like boom.
Then as the surreal colors flash by at break neck speed.
Me and Jack fall asleep.
Then I open my eyes again and I’m back in the desert.
I haven’t seen this place this much since dad died… am I going crazy?
Then I look around and I’m not in the place I was before, the sand dunes are much smaller and I can see along the horizon what looks like an outcropping of mesas.
I take a step forward but instead of the ground caving in a sharp ringing fills my ears and drops me to one knee. Then as my knee hits the ground the ground caves in and I fall into the pit.
John, John wake up. I feel a hand nudging me in the shoulder.
I lift my slumped over head, and open my eyes to see the world of Skymoot.
Me: Wait, how did we get almost halfway across the galaxy overnight?
Jack: all I know is: a Hyperdrive can accelerate a starship instantly to FTL speeds so likewise it’s much faster than a warp driven starship in top speed and acceleration.
However what a warp-drive can do is unique, while It may be slower it can take ‘short cuts’
Meaning that the ship can “deviate” slightly from hyperspace lanes and go ‘off road’ if you will. And saves a lot of time, mainly how we’re able to get from one side of the galaxy to the other.
Then after a short while we are descending through the atmosphere of Skymoot and are sticking to our preplanned flight path. Around two hundred years ago the population of the ‘Dragons’ reasonable, albeit still surprisingly small for an apex predator, but for some unknown reason within the past two hundred years the population has skyrocketed. And the danger of a hundred ton baby Dragon accidentally flying into a starship Is suddenly quite real.
So starships are regulated and told to fly a certain flight path. So almost no midair collisions happen.
Then after the spaceport crawls into view, we wait hovering on standby for the control tower for a solid twenty minutes.
Then Jack says: the best excuse I heard was when I waited for an hour and the controller said “he acted like he won the lottery” now it’s a term for a controller or controllers who are lazy.
Then the tower comes back on the coms and says: sorry for the delay we have a couple guys who “their actin’ like they won the lottery” proceed to LP one two.
Then Jack chuckles and says back to the controller: no problem, just go easy on em’.
Tower: Thanks for understanding, control out.
Then Jack brings the ship around to landing pad twelve and lands gently.
Then he goes through the shut down sequence.
Afterwards he says: just so you know, the real test was never you bringing the hostages back to the ship, it was this, you showing me who you really are, not in the bar fights and brawls or how well you can hold your own, the test is who is John Fetman.
And you have heart and I respect that, and you seem willing to give of your self no matter the cost, that kind of self-sacrifice is rare these days. You’re a good kid John.
Me: thanks I guess.
Jack smirks and says: don’t mention it.
And he and I walk down the hallway to the commons and I shoot a quick look to the cabins and see that Daz is gone.
And when we enter the commons I see Daz siting in a chair eating something.
Everyone including Val is more relaxed. I guess a good night’s sleep can do a lot.
Then Jack stands by his open locker and clicks his tongue as if looking for something.
After rummaging around He finds a clear glass, foot long cylindrical container with a metal or metallic handle.
I’m gonna go get what you earned and I’ll let you know when to come back.
Me: why can’t I go with you?
Jack: well.. he says sheepishly.. what I’m going to do is technically legal.
Me: what are you going to do?
He just looks at me point blank and says: the less you know the better, but don’t worry you won’t get in trouble.
He presses the button to open the cargo ramp and once the cargo ramp opens he starts walking down it, noticing something he stops and looks back at me and says: it’s ok kid, first time off world, it’s a lot to take in. but you’ve been on two, but take it slow and you’ll get the hang of it. Just mill around.
I nod and he walks away.
Then my holowatch buzzes.
I flick it on and scroll through the hovering holographic display, to find I have a new message.
Ok, it’s from… Henry.
All your parts came and a ship just came to the yard, an old Headhunter,
apparently it’s been in his family for two generations.
Lot of fond memories Yada, yada, yada.
But, What I was after was the reactor it’s a ‘dry start’
and it’s compatible with your Blue Jay.
the warp drive from the Headhunter is in fair shape, but I think that fix it and get it
All we need is the crystal.
It’s been stormin’ here for the last two days nonstop and I haven’t
been able to get much work done.
And what else…. Oh! Sasha put in her application for college and they accepted.
She has to work at the local hospital for little while in order to finish the qualifications.
Well, I’ll hope you are well, and you get this message.
I’m glad Sasha’s doing what she wanted to do.
I can’t help but feel sad, she’ll be leaving here soon… well we all have to grow up sometime don’t we?
*sigh* it just hurts a little, like growing pains.
I quickly check on my calendar and see the Moons Light Dance is in three days.
Then after I’m done looking at the calendar, I walk down the ramp and start walking through the spaceport.
The atmosphere here is much different than Geminus, granted its not caustic but that’s not what I mean, what I mean is people look me in the eye here and nod when I nod back.
I’m starting to notice theres a certain level of respect among starship captains.
I guess it’s the fact that you’re still alive and kicking, and you made it through another pirate attack, as a side note, the pirate attacks have quadrupled in the last two hundred years.
As a result the job of being Merchant Captain has gotten much more dangerous.
from the look of things it’s mid afternoon and the spaceport is busy, but not like a sea of people like on Geminus.
Then I see a sign that says “Skymoot Museum of Natural History”. I continue walking and see an official looking building, which has “Skymoot Museum of Natural History” emblazoned on a piece of polished granite.
When I walk inside and after I pay a steep entrance fee thirty credits [yeesh], I notice there are people walking around and looking at the displays and holograms of different wildlife on this amazing world.
Then theres a small line going to several large spherical chambers, and at the beginning of the lines is a sign that says “See the Dragons of Skymoot”.
Then I notice the people exiting the chambers are quietly talking among themselves almost in a giddy fashion.
I stop a guy exiting one of the chambers and ask: hey is this any good?
The guy says incredulously: ‘any good’? You’ve never been in their have you?
No..I respond.. is it worth it?
He almost immediately responds: of course it’s worth it! This is my third time here!
I thank the guy and join the line of people.
After a while of waiting, one of the pods is open and me and five others walk in.
The door shuts behind us and six circular pads light up in the floor.
Then we hear an automated voice say: please step on the pads, and the program will begin.
Then the six of us step onto the pads, and the lights go pitch black.
Thankfully they give you some handrails to hold onto.
Then we hear some etherial music starting to fade into the background.
Then in front of me I see a tiny speck of light starting to grow brighter then… wham! I see a star in front of me and I see the world of Skymoot, but I feel like I’m not in a simulator, I feel like I’m floating in a spacesuit.
Then the voice comes back again and says: the world of Skymoot is very different then others in the Dirt Belt, this world seems to teem with life at an unprecedented level. And a richness in diversity that has been very rarely seen since Old Earth.
But this little world is home to an animal that was thought to exist only in the realm of fantasy… then the scene changes and I’m in the jungle, I almost feel like I can reach out and touch the humongous tree that towers over me. Then the scene moves along the jungle floor to a truly Massive cliff that drops hundreds of feet down, but when I take a closer look I see that the cliff forms a huge loose circle, I think this is a sinkhole.
Then the voice speaks again… two hundred years ago the biologists recorded a disappearance, every single Dragon across this world left their roosts and came here to roost in this chasm, where they remain to this day, then just three weeks after the disappearance the nuclear device that unfortunately started the Civil War was used.
The coincidence was so extraordinary, this led a particular scientist among the Bio-Science Community, Natalia Zahniser, to speculate that the dragons are far more intelligent than we realize, while many dismissed this theory as “pure speculation” or even “religious”. However this theory, combined by the later discovery of Sheragi City, it was enough to proof to prove that further investigation was needed.
So Natalia continued working in the field for nearly sixty two years until her death, at age eighty five..
but the data she recorded was enough to create this program to show you what the dragons look like.
Then I hear a slow flapping sound, I look up and see a Dragon, flying over head. Then I feel something nudge me in the arm. I look round to see a baby dragon. The six foot tall baby is old enough to fly.
Then I hear the brush loudly rustling behind me. I turn around to face the noise, and what I think is a head of a dragon is just the snout. Then the dragon fully emerges from the brush, and I see the true scale of the creature the mother is at least the full length of a Sparrow, [not the bird] then the wings which seem to loom over me like a dark scaly canopy. The wingspan is maybe at least two Sparrows long. Then the wings fold up along the mother Dragons body, and the mother dragon starts to gently nudge the baby toward the ledge.
The baby reluctantly moves toward the edge, and looking down the cliff, the baby suddenly runs underneath his mother and hides.
Then the mother takes her wing and gently lifts the baby to its feet and walks in front of the cliff and turns around to face the baby. Then the mother looks into the baby’s eyes and just stares for a minute or two. Then the voice says: this was the most puzzling phenomenon
discovered by the scientist, a display of genuine affection toward another of it’s kind.
Then the mother breaks the stare and moves to the side allowing the baby to walk by.
The baby looks at the mother and the cliff several times and then suddenly gallops toward the cliff and leaps off it and disappears.
I try to take a few steps to see over the cliff and I slam straight into the spherical wall.
After recomposing myself I continue watching…
even the mother dragon is looking with rapped attention toward the cliff.
Then I hear a high pitched cry… and then a blur rockets up from the cliff face.
Then the mother dragon lets out a short but bellowing cry.
And the baby flies away.
Then the mother stares at the sky yearning to follow the baby. But doesn’t for some reason.
Then the dragon turns and looks directly at me and slowly walks over and sits down in front of me.
Towering over me, it stares at me with an intelligence that I can’t put a finger on.
I don’t know why but I reach upward and the dragon bends down, and I put my hand on its snout.
The eyes of a creature that shares such intelligence yet innocence stares into my soul and I and for a reason I can’t explain, I feel sad, almost like I know what it’s thinking like it’s trying to tell me something.
It seems to feel sorry for me.
Then the dragon blinks slowly, I notice the third eyelid, and the dragon looks back at me but this time the eyes looking at me aren’t sad, they’re hopeful and I feel a confidence swell within me, and this feeling I only felt once before, that time on the trail, when I thought of giving up. When sasha came and helped me I felt a sense of relief, that I wasn’t alone that I was loved.
Then the dragon fly’s away and the hologram ends.
Then I look around the room and see the others, some are wiping the tears out of their eyes, some are hugging each other, and then theres me. I walk out of the chamber and feel hopeful like the galaxy may not just crumble into nothingness, like maybe a better tomorrow is possible.
I leave the building and head back toward the spaceport.
As I’m milling around I notice a little bar/restaurant and when I walk in the archway has a built in firearms disabler. My pistol beeps quietly twice indicating it’s been disabled.
I have a seat at the bar, and when I sit down the other captains don’t even look, they mind their own business. Some are looking at inventory pads and others watching sports on the holodisplays.
Then the bartender walks over and says: If you’re gonna order beer I can’t serve you.
Me: good, cuz I’m not gonna.
Do you have any Beteljuice?
He looks genuinely surprised…
Yeah I got it, just no one drinks it… responds the bartender whilst unconsciously opening a bottle.
How much will it cost me?..I ask.
kid just take it I’m losin’ money on it anyway.
I thank him and watch the holodisplay.
Then as I’m watching I hear some loud voices outside. Then it gets louder.
And a guy maybe no older than twenty walks in with a group of late teens early twenty’s, there are four of them. Two guys and two girls.
Like the other captains I mind my own business and watch the holodisplay.
The rowdy bunch walks over to the bar and the oldest guy says: so you gonna give me a drink or what?
The bartender asks: yeah I can if you’re old enough.
Twenty one…responds the guy.
Really?…asks the bartender doubtfully…when did you turn twenty one?
Last night…says the guy sending a wink to one of the girls.
I silently roll my eyes… and take a sip of my drink.
Then the bartender says: no, I’m sorry I can’t serve you, you can buy something non-alcoholic I got no problem with that, but you just turned twenty one. That’s not legal.
Actually…responds the guy… it’s technically legal, and you have every right to serve us.. he says sliding a thousand credit chip across the bar.
Noticing the credit chip the bartender asks gruffly…Who do you think you are?
Jason Decaldi. Responds the guy quickly.
Then leaning in the bar heavily he says: so, you gonna serve me or what?
No…responds the bartender crossing his arms… my bar my rules, ether you abide by them, or get out.
Fine!..fine..says Jason.. I’ll have what he’s having…he says thumbing towards me.
No problem…says the bartender as he grabs four bottles.
Then the guy called Jason starts to drink and the tension in the air subsides.
Then the guy turns to me and asks: so you’re a merchant, what’s it like?
I reflect on the previous day and respond: work, a lot of hard work.
Jason responds casually: yeah, that’s never been my thing, but ever since the economy fell like the Syndicate said it would, I’ve actually had to get a job!
Yup…I say automatically.
Then I ask him: so who are you again?
He looks astounded and responds indignantly: I’m Jason Decaldi, but you probably know my father.. Senator Travis Decaldi?
Oh, yeah, I know him very well, he’s the one that started the economic crisis.
That’s not true!…Responds Jason.
Are you kidding yourself? He even took credit for it, my brother and sister would still be here if you father didn’t decided blow trillions of credits away on some half thought out bill that doesn’t even make sense.
But no, of course you do this ‘for the betterment of all’ that’s what you say, but what you do is ‘for the betterment of your pocket’.
All I got left of my family is this necklace…
Taking a look at the necklace he says: that’s the most ugly thing, I’ve ever seen. Then Jason continues: what I make in one day is tenfold to what you’d make in a lifetime… he says proudly.
Fine…I respond… but at least I earned mine.
Then he stares at me and says: you know, that necklace Is the most revolting thing I’ve seen, however I think it’s starting to grow on me.
I’ll take it off your neck for three credit’s or… then the three other members of his gang stand up and walk behind me…or I’ll just take it.
So what will it be?
I set my drink down and quickly scan the room and see I have a clear shot at the door if I run.
Well… I start to respond, but I make a break for the door and just when I think I will make it, something grabs me by the back of the Jacket and pulls me off my feet and slams me against the hard wood floor all in one move.
Then I hear an occasional light whirring as the four walk over to me. [they must be wearing concealed exo-suits, which are highly illegal and only available on the black market.]
Then they stand around me in a circle and Jason grabs my Jacket with both hands and lifts me clear to my feet.
Then a captain siting in a corner booth stands up… Hey, back off Terran!..She says.
Then some of the other captains stand up.
Then the entire room stops and every one stares at him, even one person is recording this on a Holophone.
He becomes visibly nervous and says to his gang: let’s bail.
He drops me and the four of them walk out of the bar. And every one goes back to minding their own business.
Then the captain who spoke up walks over to me and asks if I’m alright and introduces herself as June..
The Captain is a woman in her mid-late-fifty’s with greyed hair pulled back into a ponytail. She says: how ‘bout we walk around the port you look like you could use a change of scenery.
You’re very perceptive…I say.
And you’re smart for trying to run first, before trying to fight…she responds.
She and I walk out of the bar and start walking through the port…
she starts conversation off by asking where I’m from, and why I wanted to be a merchant captain.
Then I notice the colors on her Jacket have been worn down over time but I see the distinctive green and gold colors of the Freeworlds.
I didn’t know you served. I ask nonchalantly.
Yeah, she says.. keeping peace in the Belt has definitely gotten harder.
I lost so many people under my command, the only reason I’m still alive is because the captain of a sparrow under my command rammed straight into the bridge of a Leviathan. Because of him, our losses where much less than what would have been for a long drawn out fight.
She stares off into the distance with a dour expression on her face.
I speak up and say: If he saved you and your squad you are a good leader.
How’s that? She asks.
Because he was willing to die for you and your squad… I respond.
She thinks about it for a second and says: thanks, I appreciate the thought, but even in all of my years of being a Commander it still hurts every time.
Then I ask trying to change the subject: so where are you from?
My family Is from Hesta, in the Talita system. My grandmother was an ex-Republic “field analyst” [though from the tone in her voice, it stands to reason that’s not what her grandmothers job actually was.]
And my grandfather was a retired merchant captain.
He used to tell me the story’s of pirates and the occasional bar-fight, but what he told me most where the story’s of kindness, compassion and empathy.
He used to say to me: “when you are a Captain you are at the helm not just of your ship but of your life and the lives of others some you can make better, some worse.”
He taught me the value of helping others, I wanted to help so I became a Captain and when the pirates started ramping up their attacks prior to the League War I went into the Freeworlds Militia.
She tells me a few good story’s some that her grandfather told her.
After finishing one of the story’s I ask her. Did your grandfather meet any Aliens?
She nods and says: yeah, the Quarg but other than that, there are rumors, legends, I don’t know.
Then my watch vibrates and I check it and see It’s an official message.
Congratulations John—Fetman you have passed your exam with a score
of 87% you are as of now designated a Starship Captain.
May your ship have good fortune.
then just as I finish the first message I get another from Jack saying to ‘meet back at the ship’
so I say farewell to June and walk back to the landing pad and once I’m back I don’t see Jack.
I look around and even ask Teo who says he has no clue.
So I wait inside the cargo hold and when I am about to go look for him.
Jack appears out of a small crowd of people walking by, and walks up the ramp and gingerly puts down the now gently glowing container.
And closes the cargo ramp door and starts putting away some of his gear.
While he’s putting his stuff away I walk over and ask him: so, you got it?
Yep! He says cheerfully… and it’s better than what you would get from a second hand dealer it’s a Class 7 Crystal!
And how is that different than other classes…I ask.
Because… Jack says.. this crystal will increase your maximum jump-speed from what ever it is now by at least fifteen to twenty L.S.-[lightyears a second]
Then Jack wraps up what he’s doing, and walks to the cockpit and Teo joins him and they start the pre-flight checks, I go to the commons and I see Val and Daz siting in chairs playing chess, not wishing to disturb their game, I continue walking to the bunks where Rick is snoring away.
I take off the Jacket I’m wearing, and lay down on the bottom bunk.
And I feel the rumble of the repulsers firing and after a few minutes I feel the rumble of the repulsers subside to the point of hearing them turn off. After-which I hear the warpdrive spin up. And feel the light jolt of entering jumpspace.
I lay there contemplating my day and my mind wanders, and I start wondering if I should then I ask myself: should I ask Sasha to the dance?
Then the other part of me says: no! Are you kidding, You’re the guy that stands around the snack stand remember?
Yeah I know, I know, but if I don’t try I won’t ever know will I? And it’ll always be on my mind.
The doubtful side of myself goes quiet.
Then it sinks in… oh man, I have to ask her, how do I do that?
Then I see Teo walk out of the cockpit into the bunk space across the hall,
then it dawns on me that I could ask Jack for advice…
I quietly get up and walk into the doorway of the cockpit, and knock lightly on the threshold.
Jack was playing a video game of some sort and hearing my knock he swivels around and ushers me to sit down, when I’m seated Jack goes back to doing whatever he was doing.
Then I ask: hey Jack. Can I ask you a question?
Jack: yeah shoot.
Me: well-i-you see-
then Jack says: you’re involved with someone, right?
Me: Yeah I guess thats what you could call it.
How’d you know?
Jack: two ways, one: you asked to come in, I think you’d know by now that I don’t care who walks in here, unless you’re a pirate, or you’re trying to kill me, or you’re a pirate that’s trying to kill me, but that’s beside the point. Two: I was young once too. So I know.
Then he presses a button on a control panel and the door to the cockpit shuts.
He then says: kid, while I believe to some extent what the Alpha said… about what he did to your family, which I can’t imagine what you had to go through. Don’t let it get to your head.
While the Alphas are one of if not the, most cunning and cruel race to exist. They also bluff.
Then I ask Jack: wait you heard that part?
No, he replies… I heard all of it.
Then contemplating that thought, I hear a beep, I check my watch but it’s not from that.
Then It beeps again and I notice that the device that has been healing my wound is beeping.
Me: Jack, this thing is beeping what does it mean?
He looks and shrugs and says: you’re healed, you’re probably going to be a little sore but other than that you’re fine. I peel the device off my ribcage and the bandage too.
Then the colors flashing by the windows quickly fade to a white and instantly we exit jumpspace.
And we’re in orbit of Taros.
Then Jack radios the control-tower and with in seconds he clears us to land.
Then as we descend through the atmosphere of Taros, we come across one of the storms that Henry was talking about, and we steer clear of it.
Then as we come in for a landing I notice a blob that looks like a person near the landing pad.
Then once the repulsers fire and we land Jack says: welp I’m afraid this is your stop.
I shake Jack’s hand and walk down the hallway into the commons where Teo is. And I notice the Henry’s Jacket laying on chair and I hear Jack walk up behind me, he picks up the Jacket and hands it to me and says: you earned this symbol kid, wear it with pride. You are one of us now and you’ll always be welcomed back.
Thursday- the order
Thanks I don’t know how to thank you… I say.
Don’t, he says…kindness should be free, Ergonin Crystals aren’t… but you earned yours.
He says handing me the container.
Then we walk into the cargo hold and Jack opens the ramp.
And I look behind me as the ramp door lowers and Rick, Daz, and even Val is here.
This time though, they seem to have a warmth about them, I think I earned their trust.
And even when I shake Val’s hand she doesn’t feel hostile or angry just calm and empathetic.
Then when I reach the bottom of the ramp they wave one last time before closing the ramp and eventually flying off. [to another mission I suppose]
then I hear a voice say behind me: did you get what you came for?
I turn around and see Henry stands there.
I quickly set my stuff down and give Henry a hug.
Henry says wheezing: kid… loosen…up.
Henry catches his breath and says: I got the car today, sasha needed the truck to help bring in supplies for the festival..
Wait, when’s the festival again? I ask.
Saturday night. Henry responds.
Ok good, you had me worried there for a minute.
Worried about what? Henry asks slyly.
I go to open my mouth but I notice Henry is just barely holding back a smile.
Come on lets go…I say quickly.
We walk through the empty concrete corridor and make our way to the parking zone, and as we are walking past a cafe the newscaster on a Holodisplay is rambling on about, assault cases, and all the other wonderful things that clog up the news…[if you didn’t already guess I was being sarcastic].. then I notice a familiar scene, the picture is shaky, but I notice it’s the bar on Skymoot.
So I continue watching and listening to the newscaster… This just in, allegations of aggravated assault and disturbing the peace have been placed against Jason Decaldi the son of the late senator Travis Decaldi. The newscaster rambles on for another few minutes and tells the story in such a way that points the finger at me.
[Great! Can’t even stand up for myself]
then Henry grabs my shoulder and says: come on, lets get moving.
Why, what’s wrong? I ask.
He ignores my question and walks away briskly and I follow him to the car.
Then once we’re inside the car he says: what the hell where you thinking!?
Then hearing himself he takes a breath and says: Kid, you should have thought of what you were going to say and do.
Never! Ever act on impulse! That can be perhaps the worst thing you can do!
Then he backs out of the parking space and after a few minutes of driving we are on the highway bound for home.
Then In a calm voice he continues: I’m sorry for yelling at you, I just don’t wan’t you to be like me…
What do you mean? I ask.
When I was young…he pauses like the memory that he is recalling is very painful… my mom lived on a pirate world, and one day she was kidnapped by a pirate gang, and well, now I’m here… then he takes a breath and says: in an idiotic attempt to release my pent up… frustration, I joined a mercenary band, I killed people, John. Intentionally or by accident, afterward I got fed up and I wandered the galaxy wondering what is the point of it all, Then when I was at my lowest and I thought of ending it, Jack stepped in and saved me he reasoned with me and seemed to know me.
It was a long climb but I eventually got out of that pit and found a life here.
The people here were welcoming and kind even though I hardly deserved it, later I met Lesa.
You would have liked her John she had a way about her that I… can’t explain.
A love, a feeling, like she knew what I had done but forgave me…
and I see that in Sasha, she’s all I have left, now.
Then I look over at Henry and he put the car on lane-keeping and is wiping the tears out of his eyes…
then once he recomposes himself he says: I acted on impulse a long time ago, don’t go through the ‘school of hard knocks.’ and just save yourself from all this pain.
Then he says: I’m sorry I didn’t even let you explain yourself.
I clear my throat and say: what happed was my fault, I got frustrated.
Henry says: you know there was probably a lot the newscaster left out, tell me, what really happened.
I explain to Henry the entire story.
Then Henry says: well yeah of course you would feel angry, the guy was planing to take something of very high value to you.
Now I understand… Henry says nodding.
I didn’t want to fight I just wanted to run… I say sheepishly.
Henry says: I know I did too.
Then after a long traffic jam. We finally reach our exit and drive to our little town.
Then as we are taking one of the gravel backroads to the scrap yard I get a ping on my holowatch I check it, and it’s a live audio broadcast, I start playing it but the speakers aren’t that good on my watch, so I use a flicking gesture and the audio transfers to the car speakers we come in on the latter part of the beginning: …Freeworlds have declared a state of emergency, as a Large pirate fleet has started to mass above Greenrock, and at the same time the Syndicate has also declared a state of emergency, as another pirate fleet is massing above Covert, the Republic is in a state of turmoil as a result of another heavy pirate assault, they where driven back but at heavy losses… what- what are you talking-
[the news caster seems to be having an impromptu discussion with someone.]
Then the newscaster recomposes himself by taking a breath and says: we have received a message, from the pirate clan Fornaxus… Henry slams on the breaks bringing the car to a quick stop on the gravel road… he looks at the radio intently with a hint of fear in his eyes… then the news caster says: this is the relayed message; “we have waited and watched you long enough, your end is in sight, lay down your weapons and we may spare you. if not, you and all you know will be ours and you will not know of their fate and they yours. If you think we are bluffing, I give you until Sunday morning, and then, let there be fire… this is the order of Fornaxus.”
Then the radio goes quiet and the newscaster says: we’re on the brink of war once again…
Henry turns off the radio and says: a dark time is coming John, this war will tear this galaxy apart.
So what do we do? I ask.
We’ll have the Moons Light Festival, because it maybe our last… Henry says with a hint of sadness.
I open my holowatch and try to call Sasha but the moment I goto call her she calls me.
I answer it…
Me: Sasha did you hear?
Sasha: yes I heard.. she says with a worried tone… what are we going to do?
I think about what Henry said, and respond: is everyone still planing on the going to the Festival?
She says: yes, as far as I know.
Good, then proceed as normal. I respond.
Then we say our good-byes and I hang-up.
latter we arrive at the gate to the yard, the gates open automatically and Henry drives through and parks.
Then as I get out of the car I start walking toward the Bluejay and Henry says: John?
This ship maybe necessary in the coming weeks. So how about we get it finished, hm?
Then I look in the backseat to get the Crystal and I notice the Jacket Jack gave me.
Me: Henry, this is yours you should have it.
I grab the Jacket and hand it to him after examining it he says no, it’s not mine anymore, I made the choice to leave, and I stand by it. He hands it back to me and says: it’s yours now, wear it with pride.
Then he and I walk over to the ship and Henry asks: so what are you going to name her?
Me: I’ve thought about this, and with every thing I’ve seen the past few days I think Mocking Bird is the right choice.
Henry chuckles and says: well, let’s make her fly.
Then for the next several hours into and past nightfall, we work tirelessly, and eventually at 1:30 in the morning we are ready for the final instillation, putting the Ergonin Crystal into the field generator.
Henry carefully opens the casing for the glowing container, and grabbing a set of grabber things, he slowly pulls out the Crystal and places it into the hexagonal housing where the field generator is.
He then lets go of the Crystal, and setting down the grabbers, theres a light warble and an energy shield forms over the Crystal, Henry looks at it in bewilderment: that’s never happened before.
He then shrugs and closes the housing by sliding the panel back into the engine bay.
After brushing his hands, he says kid, want to do the honors?
I giddily respond: yes! Are you kidding?
Yeah it’s 1:30 in the morning, but I’ve never felt more awake than ever before.
As I sit in the pilots seat two switches and a button light up on the control panel, I flick the switches and hold down the button on the panel, then the ship entire starts to hum as the coolant circulates, and the reactor slowly hums to a cacophony of other sounds some of which are harsh and aren’t all that pleasant.
But eventually the harsh sounds fade away leaving an almost calming dull hum resonates through out the entire ship from the reactor.
Then Henry says: welp, if it weren’t 2:00 in the morning I’d say lets take her for a spin, but if you do, you’re liable to wake up half the town, and anyway I’m beat.
Then after shutting down the systems. And locking the ship down, [and if you’re wondering, yes, people steal ships that aren’t locked down] after using a mag-lock to clamp to the landing gear securing the ship down.
Henry gives me a ride home, and we quietly tiptoe in the house over the creaky floorboards and make our way upstairs, then a light turns on in the upstairs hallway nearly blinding us.
And a familiar voice says from down the hallway: I was wondering when you guys would come home. Henry and I look sheepishly at Sasha who’s wearing her nightgown, and her hair is a little frizzy.
I look over to Henry and I see that he is visibly embarrassed, he clears his throat and says: hi Sasha, sorry for being late.
Sasha’s expression is best described as generally disappointed: I’d have more to say to you both… she yawns… but I’m too tired to say more. She flicks off the light and loudly shuts the door to her room.
Henry and I look at each other and cringe slightly, then after a minute Henry says good night and goes to his room, and I make my way downstairs and grabbing a blanket off a chair and a pillow from the couch.
I lay down on the couch and fall asleep not trying not to think of what will happen, or the impending war.
After a dream I can’t remember, I wake up with the sun in my eyes, and rolling on my back trying to avoid the bright light.
I open my eyes to see Sasha standing at the back of the couch looking at me.
Morning, I say wearily.
Morning, Sasha says.
I sit up and notice my shirt moved up in a way that it shows the large bruise on my ribs.
I get up and help myself to a cup of coffee. And sit at the table.
so where did you get that…Henry says taking a bite of his breakfast.
Get what? I ask.
Comon kid, I may be old but I’m not stupid, he says.
The broken rib, where did you get it from…he asks again.
We were on a mission and a pirate took me by surprise and broke my ribs.
I look over at Sasha a little farther down the table holding a cup of coffee and notice the expression on her face she looks disappointed, but she seems mostly sad for some reason.
Henry nods and says sincerely: well I’m glad you’re ok.
Then theres no more mention of anything related to me on my trip, mainly I’m just listening to Sasha talk about the town, getting me up to speed.
Then after finishing breakfast. Henry and I agree to Sasha to be home by dinner, then Henry says: Comon, lets put the finishing touch on your ship, and maybe we can take her for a spin.
And just as I go to leave Henry says: your Jacket.
I look back and grab the Jacket, and follow Henry to the truck, and after a few minutes of driving, we arrive at the yard.
After getting out of the car and following Henry to the shack at the back of the yard Henry says: you’re probably wondering why I told you to bring your Jacket, well you’ll need get used to wearing it, and I can take the symbol off the shoulder and paint it onto the side of your ship.
Me: how are you going to do that?
Henry: first I scan it, then I put the dimensions into the printer, paint it and voila, You have your symbol.
Then once Henry is done, he and I walk over to ship and he takes a paint sprayer and sprays over the symbol cut-out, then he pulls the cut out off the hull of the ship, revealing some rough edges, seeing them he takes what looks like a flashlight and shines it at the symbol, and the surface of the symbol wrinkles and buckles.
Then Henry stops and takes a brush and wipes off the excess paint to reveal a symbol that looks like it’s always been there.
I marvel at the quality of the paint job, Henry looks a little smug but says: this was my first job when I came here.
Me: the moment I think I know you, I realize how little I actually know.
Henry shrugs. And ushers me inside the ship where I notice on the cargo hold wall there is a small plaque that’s mounted flush to the wall, when I look closer at it and it says:
THIS SHIP IS REGISTERED BY THE INDEPENDENT MERCHANTS GUILD, IT’S SAFETY REQUIREMENTS MEET STANDARD REGULATIONS. Then the plaque lists some of the ships specifications and how it meets some of them almost perfectly…
Then below the large wording in smaller letters it says ‘May your paths be clear, and fruitful’
[it’s known as the ‘Old Captains Farewell’, the saying harkens back to a time of plenty and prosperity after the Civil War, supposedly it was said by the Zero to Hero Captain]
then Henry says: Oh, did I forget to mention I already registered this ship?
Yes, you did. I say with a slight tone of annoyance.
Then Henry says: I think I can help you with your first job too.
Ok I’m listening…I say.
Good, first though we need to meet with with Daniel.
Ok, why… I ask.
Because, Henry says.. he has the cargo.
I nod in agreement and start to walk down the cargo ramp toward the car, then Henry asks: were are you going? Cockpit’s that way…he says thumbing over his shoulder.
Yup! Henry says cutting me off… Daniel has a concrete landing pad at his house, so it shouldn’t be a problem, unless he’s barbecuing… he thinks to himself sheepishly.
I stare at him incredulously.
Henry explains: Daniel’s a farmer, so, he literally needs tons of Seed, fertilizer, and sometimes equipment to be brought to him from off world and on world.
I’ll send him a message to tell him we are coming….Henry says.
Henry pulls out his holophone and types a message out and sends it to Daniel.
Then Henry and I climb up the ladder and walk into the cockpit. Henry takes a seat in one of the extra cockpit seats and configures a control panel attached to the seat itself.
Once I strap in and adjust my seat.
Henry says: take her up.
I place my hand on the Id pad and recognizing me IRIS responds: Welcome Aboard, Captain Fetman, ship controls unlocked.
I flick the switches to prime the engines and the repulsers to the sounds of different kinds of liquids starting to circulate throughout the ships veins, and Henry says: it’s been quite a while since the engines have been run, but I’m fairly confident that they’ll start.
Well here goes nothing… I say pushing down the three starting buttons.
As I hold the buttons down hear a dull grinding, and over time the dull grinding morphs into a light whine, I look at the engine instrument panel and see that the engines are warmed up and ready.
I start to slowly throttle up on the repulsers, as I do the ship starts to rattle and shake a little, then the rattling and the shaking stops, and I notice the ground starting to get farther away.
I flick the switches to retract the landing gear and the landing gear retracts with a dull grinding sound.
Then I slowly throttle up on the main engines and I start to throttle back on the repulsers.
I start the climb to a few thousand feet and then my HUD activates and I start getting readings of speed, altitude, and even weather.
Then Henry says: Daniel’s farm is only forty five miles from here, I’ve input it as our destination.
I give Henry a thumbs up and fly the ship along the programed flight path.
Then after a five minute flight, I see Daniel’s farm and I notice the concrete pad.
[landing Isn’t my strong suit, the instructor said I passed the landing test I say in quote “adequately”] nonetheless I make an approach on the landing pad, to slowdown I apply the brakes..[Airbrakes mind you].. and at the same time I throttle up on the repulsers.
I’m within feet now of the pads surface and I throttle back on the repulsers and the ship gently touches down on the hard surface.
Then I go through shutdown sequence and once the engines are shut down, Henry and I make our way down the ladder and open the cargo hold ramp.
Once the ramp opens and we exit the ship Daniel greets us: Henry, John, great to see you both!
Henry shakes Daniels hand and says: the word I got says you’re in a pickle?
Yeah, bout that.. Daniel says trepidatiously.
Henry: what’s wrong?
Daniel: I just got word about the pirate fleet above Greenrock and Covert, nothings happening yet but..he pauses for a second then says: I guess…I’m just a worrying old man.
Then Henry says: no, I’m worried too. Then Daniel trying to change the subject asks: is that a Bluejay?
Yup!…I answer proudly.
Daniel: haven’t seen one of those around in a long time.
Then Henry asks: so what are we transporting? I know we’re taking fifty four tons of cargo to Delta Velorum. But that’s all I know.
Then Daniel ushers to a group of nine cargo containers, and says: these containers are filled with Pumpkin seeds, honestly it shouldn’t be any easier, it’s not alive so it’s a good start out cargo.
Henry shakes his head with a smirk and asks: Daniel, could you have made this any easier?
Daniel: well, I could have delivered this myself, if you want real easy.
Not quite that easy! Henry says quickly.
The two of them chuckle together, a sign of a long friendship.
Then the three of us over the course of an hour, manage to get five out of the nine containers.
[cargo containers that deal with tons of cargo at a time have built-in Mag-Lev systems.]
then taking a break I get a text from Sasha basically saying that she is going to work at the hospital for the next few hours.
I write back and tell her that henry and I are going on a short delivery.
I just get a thumbs up in response.
Then after another hour and a half the cargo is loaded.
Daniel wipes his sweaty brow and looks into the cargo hold and wonders: how did we ever get e’m in?
Henry responds: cleverly.
Then after a few minutes of resting, we finally say good bye to Daniel.
Once back onboard the ship, me and Henry go through the pre-flight checks, life-support online, cargo secure, engines online.
Henry: everything’s in order, take her up.
When the ship takes off the normal rattles and shakes accompany it, but once in the air the noises disappear.
after gaining altitude and breaking atmosphere, I use the HUD I align the ship to the jump-point leading to Delta Velorum.
As I go to push the throttle forward Henry stops me and says: “May our paths be clear”
I swivel around in my chair and ask Henry: so what’s with saying stuff like that, I mean I know they do it in the movies bu-
Henry cuts me off and says: just go, you killed the moment anyway…
Ok…I say to myself and proceed to throttle up on the jump engines. The nose of the ship slowly warps into a small white dot in the far distance and suddenly the ship enters jumpspace with a thunder clap.
Henry unbuckles himself from his chair walks over to the window and asks: how fast are we going?
Reading the instrument I respond: 111.7 Ls.
Henry looks surprised and says: what kind of Crystal did we put in?
Me: a Class Seven.
What?! Henry exclaims.
Yeah, that’s what Jack told me…I respond.
Henry just sits back in his seat with surprised expression on his face and says: wow!
…Wonder who he stole it from?..He mutters half a second later.
Then a little alarm goes off on the control panel, and then the ship drops out of jumpspace and eases into an orbit above Bounty.
Then I get on the radio and contact the spaceport control-tower: Bounty control, this is IMV Mocking Bird, requesting landing clearance to LP three four…
then the Tower responds: Tower to IMV Mocking Bird, clearance granted, proceed to LP three four as requested, and keep an eye out for pick pockets, Tower out.
We descend through the atmosphere and land at the main space port on the southern pole.
Then when I open the cargo ramp, a dockworker and two loader-bots stand there already waiting.
The dock worker asks: so, you got fitty’ four ton uh, pumpkin seed.
Yeah, I respond wondering if we are even speaking the same language.
Sign here… the worker responds.
I sign a J and an X the worker responds: heh, clever.
Then putting the pen up in his hat, he starts directing robots unloading the cargo and another dockworker asks: you need fuel? Right?
I nod and the worker grabs a large hose and connects it to the underside of the wing.
Then after looking at a data pad, he walks over and says: that’ll be thirty five hundred.
And after I transfer the credits, Henry and I leave the space port and head into town.
It’s night here on Bounty, which feels kinda strange to be in one place and it’s morning then night in another.
Still that’s the life of a Starship Captain.
Then as we walk down the dimly lit sidewalk we come across the entertainment sector,[oh joy] the loud club music blasting out the doors every time some idiot get’s thrown out, or a staggering drunk person walks out, there are also puddles of random liquids on the street, some of which might be barf, sick or whatever else you call it.
Then taking It all in Henry says: welcome to the galaxy in which we live.
Then pausing he says: I used to be like them, he says pointing to a couple drunk people slummed over in the gutter… then Henry says: comon, I know a half-way decent place not far from here. With Henry leading the way we make our way to a much quieter part of the city, there Henry finds a little hole in the wall place called Malcom’s.
When Henry and I walk in, I notice the décor in the room looks old, like this place harkens back to a time in the galaxy when the stars where the ‘final frontier’. Pictures and trophies decorate the walls as well as a large old map of then known human space.
The bar itself looks old but I can’t be sure how old, it appears to have been maintained very well.
Then ripping my thoughts away from me the bartender hollers: Henry Veheli!
Then the bar goes dead quiet, the light sound of some chairs scooting across the wood floor is the loudest thing for a split second as people turn around to look.
I can’t help but shoot a look at Henry, he looks slightly nervous but responds: Hey all.
Then the people and captains go back to minding their own business.
Henry and I walk over to the bar and sit down on the barstools.
Henry orders himself a beer, and I get a cup of coffee.
Then the bartender says: been a long time since you came here.
Mm hm…Henry responds.
Say, maybe you can help me with some’m, says the bartender.. I got a guy-
Henry cuts him off and says: stop, I don’t do that kinda stuff any more, I got responsibility’s now.
What? The bartender chortles.. you got responsibility? Or you got the responsibility?
Henry just responds: yep, totally didn’t deserve it.
Then the bartender notices the quizzical expression on my face and asks Henry: you didn’t tell your own son?
Henry and I chuckle and then I explain: no, I’m not his kid, when my mom died I just had nowhere else to go, so Henry took me in.
The bartender nods and says: you’re a good man Henry, and I’m glad you found what you where looking for. Then he starts helping someone else.
Then a woman walks in sits next to Henry, she then says: your bold one for setting foot off of Taros.
I shoot a quick glance at the woman, she looks older than her voice sounds.
Her hair is neat and tidy but shoulder length, her hair is a dull red color but greying at the same time.
What are you doing here? Henry asks seething.
Oh, can’t I just visit old friends? She asks nudging henry in the shoulder.
No, you’re after something, Henry says with a hint of anger.. so, what… or who is it?
She sighs and says: four.
She says again: four pirate spies are behind us, I’m after them.
Good luck, Henry says.
I don’t need luck, I got you. She responds.
I don’t do that stuff anymore, comon John we’re leaving. Henry says quickly.
Henry nonchalantly gets up and I do to but as I go to pass the woman, she grabs my arm and says loudly to Henry: theres a price on him too.
Her grip is incredibly strong. And trying to break free would only make things worse.
Then Henry’s face takes on a look I’ve never seen before, he looks angry, no enraged.
Holding himself together he walks back over to the woman as she stands up.
He gets in her face and says: let. him. go.. now…
Then looking at me she says: you know, I thought you where the one on that mission, the speed and the fact that the pirates where only stunned I genuinely thought that you went postal, or got bored, or both. Hearing this kind of news is not ground breaking, but what I heard next really peaked my interest.. then looking Henry right in the eyes she says: he hit an M.A. in the chest and got away..
[M.A stands for: Mad Alpha.]
Liar! Henry seethes.
Henry, says the woman. When have I ever lied to you about a bounty?
Henry huffs and takes a step back and the woman lets go of my arm.
I gingerly ring my arm out.
Then henry asks: how high’s the bounty? The woman shrugs and says: not high at all, heck if you just mind your own business he’ll disappear off the list in no time.
Then why did you come here? Henry asks.
Because I wanted to see my friend one last time before the War. And I wanted to see the kid that got away.
Henry has a look of respect on his face and he nods to her and heads out the door.
Then as I go to leave the woman says to me: watch your back, you can’t ever know who is watching, if I found out so did someone else.
Then I nod and head out the door.
Afterward, we start walking back to the spaceport and after crossing the street I get a notice on my watch that my ship is fueled up and ready.
I think we can go home now. I say.
Good the sooner the better. Henry responds.
We enter the well lit spaceport and start to walk to our berth.
Then from nowhere a smoking and in some spots glowing freighter clumsily lands on a pad with a heavy thud, the cargo door opens to see smoke belching from it. A sooty crew member staggers out from the smoke and with what breath he has he talks to a near by captain who then turns and yells: there are people still inside!!
with the captain taking a breath, he then bolts into the smoking freighter, two other captains follow suit.
Then the three captains emerge with four passengers in tow.
Then as they start to relax, a young passenger no more than eleven years old, catches his breath and says: my mom’s still inside please, you have to help her!
The first captain says to the boy: count your blessings, that nearly killed us going in after you.
Then the boy starts to cry, then some concerned bystanders walk over to the boy and try to comfort him, but as I watch this scene unfold, I’m reminded of myself all those years ago.. and maybe I can change it, if not for myself but for him.
Something overwhelms me and I run past the crowd straight into the freighter, the smoke is thick and choking, stinging my eyes causing them to water. But I push forward and once I get near the crew quarters and bunk rooms I hear a faint banging on the other side of a sealed door. Then I hear a voice on the other side calling for help.
I look around for a something I can use to pry open the door and I see nothing.
Then as I run out of options I feel a strength well up inside me again, I take what breath I can and yell to the person on the other side: stand back!!
Then I haul off and punch the door which to my surprise buckles, so I hit the door again and the door buckles some more I continue repeating this process until I can wedge my hand inside the door. Hold on I yell through the small hole.
Then I grab the one side of the door and tear it clear off it’s hinges and shove the other side into the wall. I see the mid thirty’s woman unconscious, slumped over in the corner near by the doorjamb, I grab her and lift her into a fireman’s carry..[they teach you this stuff when you’re in school, and when you apply for a Captains License for situations like this.].. I carefully walk through the smoke and eventually reach the cargo ramp, once outside the paramedics take the boy’s mother and stabilize her, then as I go to leave, the boy runs right over to me and hugs me, then says with bloodshot tear filled eyes: Than-k-k you-…
I hug the boy back shedding a few tears of my own.
Then as I go to leave I am stopped by guy who has a small spherical drone following him, this along with what I gather from the amount ridiculous amount of questions he asks he must be a reporter.
I look away from him and say loud enough for him to hear: no comment. And brush past him.
And with that the guy leaves me alone. I walk back to Henry who says to me: the moment I think I know you, I realize how little I actually know.
Then as henry and I walk back to our ship we are stopped by four police officers.
The lead officer says: excuse me, are you Captain Fetman? Yes…I respond.
Then he proceeds to ask me questions about what I saw, which way did the ship come from, who went in to help the passengers.
I try to answer him to the best of my ability, then satisfied. He thanks us for our time and walks over to the crowd that still stands around.
Then Henry and I walk up the cargo ramp Henry says: take a few winks, I’ll fly us home.
Henry climbs up the ladder and into the cockpit and starts the pre-flight.
And I walk over to the far end of the cargo hold where there are two bunks. And flop down on the bunk exhausted and fall asleep.
I’m awoken by a heavy thud… then I hear henry over the coms: Welcome home!
Then Henry climbs down the ladder and walks over to my bunk and exclaims: hoo! Kid, you smell like every kind of burning smell there is.
Is it really that bad? I ask.
Henry nods and just responds with: That bad.
Then henry opens the cargo ramp door and pats me on the shoulder as a sign of approval then noticing his sooty hand he awkwardly wipes his hand on my shoulder, then after my watch adjusts to the local time I notice it’s one a clock in the afternoon, then Henry and I walk to the truck and drive home…[all the windows wide open in the truck]… then once we get home I hop into the shower, and once I rid myself of the horrid burnt-smoke smell. I dry off and get dressed.
Then I go into the kitchen where I grab some stuff from the fridge to get something to eat. Sasha walks over behind me as I’m eating and says: you said it was going to be a short run…
it was…I say.
Then I turn around to see a disappointed look on her face.
Can I make it up to you? I ask looking back.
She looks at me quizzically.
Then I set down my sandwich and stand up and ask her: Will you go with me to the dance tonight?
She exclaims yes! And hugs me so tight I think she just might re-break my ribs again, but then she pulls out of the embrace and looks me in the eye and beams the most gorgeous smile I’ve ever seen her give… oh, that smile.
So, you finally asked her? I nearly jump out of my socks, and I whirl around to see henry at the bottom of the steps looking thoroughly satisfied that he scared the crap out of me.
Henry chuckles to himself then has an analyzing look on his face.
Then sasha says: I have to get some stuff together, but I’ll see you later.. then she quickly pecks me on the cheek and starts to walk upstairs.
Once she walks upstairs, Henry walks over and says: John? he waves his hand in front of my face.
I’m frozen, then I blink slowly and henry says: welcome back to reality.
What happened? I ask.
Sit-rep..Henry says..Sasha, she said yes and kissed you. Oh, no… I respond.
Henry is probably having a mix of emotions too.
You ok…I ask Henry.
Henry sighs and says: yes and no, while I’m happy that you asked her and she said yes, I’m equally worried.
Why? I ask curiously.
Why? because I’m her father, and I have every right to be worried. He responds.
You’re wondering if you can trust me..I say.
Henry leans on a chair, sighs and just nods.
Then after a minute of staring at the table Henry says: eighteen years and nine months.
That’s how long I’ve looked after her, I just- this level of trust is different.
While you are a good kid, I-I don’t think you’re ready for this.
Did toni tell you what I said about Sasha? I ask.
While this may not mean much to you, I respect her, and I love her deeply enough I wouldn’t let any harm come to her. I respond. Any harm. I repeat.
Then Henry says: I’ve never been worried about you, John, it’s her I’m worried about..
I’m worried about things going to far to fast.
I won’t let that happen…I say… and frankly neither will she.
How do you know? Henry asks.
Because I know she’s listening right now.. I respond.
Then henry looks up at the top of the staircase and sees Sasha standing there.
Sasha looks slightly saddened.
Henry: Sasha, I’m just worried-
Sasha: it’s ok dad, I know…Sasha says cutting Henry off.
Then Henry stares at the table and then a minute later looks at Sasha he asks her: do you respect him?
Yes she says.
Then turning to me he says: do you respect her?
I nod and say: yes.
Then you both can go, then sasha and I smile at Henry, then henry holds up his hands and says: wait, just one thing, no kissing ok? Just, not yet I don’t think I can handle anymore of it.
Sasha and I promise not to, and then she disappears back into her room.
Then Henry turns to me and asks: so, what are you going to do today?
Honestly I have no idea.. I think for a second and respond.. mill-around town, I guess.
Henry nods then says: yeah you might want to check up on the mayor see how he’s doin’.
Where will he be…I ask.
At Toni’s playing pool I’d imagine.
Me: Really, I thought he gave it up?
Henry: yeah, the betting part he gave up, the playing part, not so much.
Huh..I chuckle.. that’s Samual.
Then Henry says: ah! I almost forgot! He then reaches in his pocket and fishes out a keyring, and tosses it to me and says: comon, I got something else to show you.
Then I grab my now clean jacket, and walk out the door with Henry toward the barn.
Then he opens the barn doors and asks: see it yet?
Then I notice an outline among the debris, I walk over and start peeling away the random debris, to find an old Levi-Bike, Henry says: I came across this at an auction no one wanted it for some reason, I knew the auctioneer and he came and asked me if I wanted it so I thought “what the heck, why not” and here It is.
The bike has a minimalistic paint job, a dark red. Frankly this bike has seen better days but I notice the shiny parts on the outside and the replaced handlebar.
Then Henry says: go ahead, start ’er up. I start the engine up and after revving it once, or twice, ok, three times, the engine purrs like a happy little kitten.
Then I shut the engine off and ask Henry: when did you have the time for this?
Henry: well I like tinkering, and when I’m bored or I have some time on my hands, I tinker with things.
I’ve been working on this on and off for years, but I managed to finish it just before you came back home.
I look back at the bike and then back to henry and see the genuine look of satisfaction on his face.
Then he says: why not go ahead and see how Samual is doing.
Then he hands me a helmet and after pumping up the tires we bring the bike outside, and shut the barn doors.
Then I say goodbye to henry and drive down the gravel road quickly.
Then after I reach the more densely traveled areas I slowdown considerably and ride sensibly up the main gravel street. Then after spotting Toni’s place. I turn off the bike and park it near the entrance, but out of the way. After taking off the helmet and placing it on the bike I walk inside.
I walk inside the building and sit down on one of the barstools.
Then Dale appears from nowhere and walks behind the counter and opens two bottles of Beteljuice and starts drinking one.
His brow Is sweaty like he’s been working all morning.
Me: Toni working you hard?
Then Dale says: nah, just trying to get here… his statement doesn’t make much sense but then I notice that Dale sounds out of breath, like he was running, then I notice that his eyes are scanning the room as if looking for someone, then he asks: did you ask someone to the dance yet?
Me: yes I did, so stop asking about me, ask her!
Then Dale quickly walks out from behind the counter and I turn around to see him walking up to Emily Tahs, he asks her and I swear the entire building falls silent for a second. Asking someone to the dance is a pretty big deal around here. I mean to be fair it’s the only big deal around here.
When she says yes, and Dale is overjoyed.
Then Emily says goodbye walks out, he walks back toward the bar, then behind it and stares at the door with a glint in his eye.
Dale.. woo hoo, anyone home? I ask waving my hand around in front of him.
Then he snaps back to reality and says: sorry, I’ve been procrastinating for far too long.
So did you run all the way here? I ask.
Dale looks at me sheepishly and responds: yeah, three miles..
I guess your hundred yard sprint training is finally paying off.
Dale chuckles: well the first hundred yards were just fine, it was just the two miles that weren’t so fine.
Have you seen the Mayor? I thought I’d check up on him. I ask.
Then Dale points over to a booth in the corner and I see the Mayor and Maggie sitting around the table casually discussing something.
I thank Dale and walk over to the booth, I walk up behind Samual and pat him on the shoulder.
He whirls around and with a look of genuine surprise on his face he quickly ushers me to sit.
Then Maggie speaks up: John, I can’t believe it’s you! I haven’t seen you since the festival two years ago..
Me: yup, it’s me, so how have you guys been?
[Samual is a man in his mid-early-fifty’s, with greying hair and a salt and pepper mustache, he tends to hang around Toni’s and he likes a good game of pool as he used to be a pool shark back in the day, Maggie is an older woman in her mid-forty’s.
She was raised on a ranch on New Argentina, and after the League War erupted, the republic needed people who where experienced in handling livestock to come and show the refugees the ropes if you will, so she applied and got excepted, after being here a year she fell in love with the place and didn’t want to leave so she stayed and she has been the Local Director of Agriculture for a decade now.]
Being the local director of agriculture and livestock is a handful..says Maggie.. but it’s no different than my old homestead, so I like it.
Then Samual says: did you hear we got married last year?
No..I say.. but congratulations!
Then Samual shifts the conversation completely around.
I heard a story just this morning, of a Starship Captain who risked his life for a person in the burning hulk of a starship.
Oh that’s a good story. I say. Did the mother survive? I then ask.
Yes, Samual says. However she and other eye witnesses told an interesting story, that a man with a mocking bird symbol on his shoulder ran right past them and brought the mother out of the ship, I didn’t think anything of it until you came over.
And you were gone all day yesterday, so.. he asks crossing his arms and siting back.. what do you think of that story?
I think that it’s a good story, and that possibly someone has the same jacket as mine.
No one had picture of the persons face, so it could be anybody. I say casually.
Riight…says Samual skeptically… however I didn’t say that there where pictures taken.
Then Samual shrugs and says: eh, just a coincidence.
Yeah, just a coincidence. I say.
Then Maggie asks: so will we see you at the dance tonight?
Probably, I respond.
So you found someone? She asks.
I start chuckling: and here I thought a Hydra station with a crew complement of eighty five was nosy.
Fare enough…says Maggie … I guess we just have nothing better to do.
Then the three of us continue reminiscing and talking about experiences ranging from cattle farming, to starship landing protocol.
We continue talking for while longer when I get a call from Henry. I excuse myself from the table and answer it: hi Henry what’s up?
Henry: hey John, I need you to come to the woods we need more hands to help set up the decorations and a bunch of other stuff.
Me: ok I’ll be there as soon as I can.
I hand a credit chip to Dale and thank him for the drink, then head outside to my bike and after putting on my helmet I ride out of town, and after a little meandering I find “Moon’s Light Forest” road and after traveling down it for a while. I come across the forest, a large collection of Aridis trees… [they look almost like old earth trees but the leaves are radically different, the leaves much larger and shovel shaped than traditional old earth trees, and when the moons rise at this specific time of the year the leaves shimmer and shine in the moon light, the reason is Unknown.].. then later down the road I see a few parked cars and I park beside them.
There are only a small handful of people working here. Henry’s hard at work helping to clear away the brush and fallen branches from the storms.
And our local carpenter is fixing some of the planks that are ether broken from the storms we had or fixing the ones that are damaged.
After taking off my helmet and dismounting, I walk over to see Daniel helping to organize things, I walk over to him and ask if he needs any help.
Saturday- Clair de lune
Daniel: yeah I really could use your help.. here, now help me with the lights.
He leads me over to a tangled mess of clear-bulb string lights. I cringe at the sheer entangled mess. Then Daniel says: don’t worry, you won’t suffer alone. Then we begin unraveling the mess.
it takes two and a half hours and seven replacement bulbs but eventually we have the lights hung in place.
I then go and help out some more and after all that the floor is ready, and honestly after all that work, seeing the finished product is worth it.
Then I notice the suns going down, and the first of the guests are starting to arrive.
Henry walks up behind me and says: you better get home and change if you want to make the dance.
I shoot a look at my watch and see it’s seven thirty.
Crap! I exclaim. I’ve only got a half an hour!
I bolt to my bike and once I put my helmet on and start the engine I retrace my steps and quickly make it out to the main road where for the first time today, I open the tap on the bike…[the reason they call it a mag-lev bike because the suspension is mag-lev, that’s it, that’s the only reason, and no it’s not a Hover Bike that’s something completely different]… then after a bit of quick, actually check that, very quick driving I manage to get home in just under ten minutes.
I run into the house up the stairs and up into the spare room, then I manage to put my suit on and surprised how well it fits, however I can’t find the tie.
so I walk over to Sasha’s room and politely knock on the door and ask her if she knows where the tie is.
She tells me that the tie is downstairs near the coat closet.
after looking around I find the tie and after tying it, I bolt to the door and onto my bike and I notice the suns are already down and I only have thirteen minutes.
I drive up the driveway and out onto the main road.
Then after a short drive I find the lumpy dirt road that leads to the forest, I drive up the road considerably faster than before, the suspension managing to somehow endure the punishment I put upon it.
Once I enter the forest, I slow down and start looking for a parking space.
The parking lot is a lot fuller than when I was last here, but I manage to find a parking space.
And after dismounting, and straightening myself, I make my way toward the group of people.
I walk over to henry who somehow managed to change into a suit.
Me: where did you get the suit?
Oh this?..He asks looking at his suit..I packed this ahead of time…He says taking a sip of punch from his cup.
After grabbing a cup of punch, and milling around for a little while, I find myself anxiously looking back at the parking lot so to take my mind off it I walk over to a bench that overlooks the lake.
I sit down a start to stare at the starry night sky, then I notice the moons looming over head, they look so clear and shiny, almost like someone polished the moons, just for us. I stare out over the lake and the lake is so still it’s like a mirror reflecting the starry night sky. Then I feel a hand softly rest on my shoulder.
I turn around to see Sasha in her simple white dress who looks absolutely stunning… I hardly have anything to say.
I just stand up and exclaim: you look absolutely stunning!
Thank you…she responds blushing.
Then she says: comon lets go, the dance is about to start.
Then she takes me by the hand and leads me over to the large wooden stage, I can see the expressions change as people notice us, most are happy, they smile or give a nod of approval, others are happy but showing a slight look of regret. And some people just don’t care.
But as I get closer I see Henry with a look of happiness shining from him.
Then as we stand beside the wooden stage, Maggie walks up the steps and grabs everyones attention: I personally would like to thank all of you who helped set things up, and to those who had to work up the courage to ask their dance partner here tonight. Then she asks the guys to come up on stage and all of the “Gentleman” including myself walk up on stage and form a line, the she asks the “Lady’s” to walk up on stage one at a time they line up, and then when her turn Sasha lines up in front of me.
Then Maggie looks back at the moons and on her cue the lights dim, and to my amazement and I notice the underside of the leaves shimmering and shining like glass, even though I’ve heard of and seen this before, every thing seems different now.
Then Maggie asks the dancers to join up.
Then I along with Dale and some of the other dancers join up with our partners.
I’ve never done this before and somehow Sasha notices my anxiety and carefully grabs my hands and says: follow my lead.
Then an old earth song starts playing…Clair de lune.
Then as dancers dance the loose circles a sense of calm falls over me like a light vale and for the first time in so long I feel so happy and free I don’t care what happens tomorrow, I just know I will always love her so much, this galaxy can fall apart, it can crumble yet that lightness that hope, carry’s me on a blanket. I just want this moment to last as long as I can make it.
Then as we’re dancing I say to Sasha: I promise to you, that I will come home no matter how long it takes or how hard or far a part we are, I will always be apart of you-
-and you apart of me…she says…finishing my sentence, we have a bond without distance-
-a bond beyond the stars. I say finishing her sentence.
she just looks at me with a shimmer more beautiful than the leaves over head.
when you meet someone and they are the most beautiful thing you ever saw, then you get to know them, and they’re as dull as a brick, but then, you meet someone not who isn’t as beautiful as the last person, but then you get to know them, and their personality becomes them, and they are the most wonderful, and beautiful thing you saw…I saw.
And when I look at Sasha I don’t just see a beautiful girl, I see a woman who loves life, who cares deeply about others, and me. She is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met, the person I would gladly spend the rest of my days with. That time is still along way off yet I know, but for one instant, moment, I feel at home and cared for, and loved.
Then she and I stop dancing and just look at the leaves overhead, then back at each other.
Then the waltz closes and the lights come back on and me and Sasha walk over to the bench near the lake.
She and I sit down and just look out onto the lake, then she says somberly: I was excepted by the collage…so…I’ll be leaving in a few weeks… then I notice only when she looks at the lake, and the moonlight shines on her face I see tear marks streaking down her face.
I scooch over to her and give her a warm hug and say: you and I have been through a lot together, you are entitled to your own life.. you gave me a second chance, so please don’t pass this up.
Then she pulls out of the embrace and with a shaky voice says: I love you John, I really mean it.
I respond back tearing up: I love you too…so much.
Then she makes a sound half-way between a cry and a laugh, and says: look at us, like were going to die tomorrow.
A few seconds pass as she recomposes herself..
Then she asks: can you take me to Alpha Centauri? I just want you to be the last I see for a while…you know?
I promise I will.. I say.
Then she says: oh, hang on I wanted to give you this.
Then she pulls out a compass and says: this is so you can always find your way home.
I open the compass and see that It’s old but well taken care of and I see on the inside of the compass is the four pointed star that is also known as a Captains Star, an old wives tale says that this will always guide some one they love home.
I take the compass, and thank her for it.
And she and I just enjoy the moonlight.
I couldn’t think of a time when I’ve felt more peaceful especially, in a time like this.
What happens next? I don’t know.
One time is ending and one time beginning.
I just hope the next one is kind…
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