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Author Topic: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread  (Read 10138 times)

Offline Nora

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2015, 06:56:15 AM »
Woohoo, here's my baby! A story whose entire plot unfolded in my feverish mind during that last bit of sickness I got. Wrote it today, now that I feel much better.

1351 words so far, not accounting for title A Horror Story In Space

Spoiler for Hiden:
Kertan reached the door latch and in one practised pull, sent himself flying through the control room.
The ship’s captain was alone in it, working on logs by the control boards Kertan had aimed for. He smirked at the sight of his upside down second in command gliding towards him.

“All done?”

“All done! Every single record is in, with every sample. I’m here to send the files,” Kertan said as he immobilised himself above the communication panels and started to key reports in. The holographic screen came to life with the standard Federal submission files.

“You look delighted, and that was fast work, this cycle round.”

“That’s because I hassled Nuri to hand down a report in time. I’m delighted because this will leave me five good days to enter my writing competition.”

The captain laughed. “The same as four cycles ago?”

“Yes the very same. I’ve missed on great subjects, and we spent enough time in dead space this time around that I couldn’t even read the other’s submissions.”

“Is it that popular in such a remote part of the Quadrant?”

“It’s pretty widespread in the literary world, all over. Last topic they even had two alien KommAnche participating. It’s pretty fascinating to see so many different minds bent on the same topic.”

“What’s this turn’s topic that you’re going to be raving about for five days then?”

Kertan turned to his superior and grinned through the glow of Federal paperwork.
“Horror.”


Having sent all reports, the entire crew of the Kolden found itself on holiday, or as much of a holiday as a crew sailing through dead space could find itself in until it reached its docking station.
There they could disband, rejoin family, and enjoy themselves until the next cycle of work was dispatched to them by Federal officials.

The mood was high, and the space packed with floating bodies when Kertan entered the main Hall. Two of the ship’s analysts spotted him and waved him over.

“Kina, Tenssu, enjoying your time off already?”

“We worked hard enough to deserve it,” said Kina.

“More like it was boring enough.”

“Tenssu’s right, this cycle was fairly boring for us. What about you Ker, you look all excited.”

“I’ve been able to downlink my writing contest topic and I have five days to write a good horror story. Still hunting down ideas.”
The two analysts laughed.

“So long as you don’t write about space horror!”

“Yeah, who would want to read about that here?”

“Hey! Talk for yourself. Horror based on everyday life is one of the most efficient and terrifying.”

“It's all relative, everything depends on the nature of your everyday life.”

Tenssu laughed again and excitedly grabbed Kertan’s arm. “That’s right! just imagine being albino for a second!”
Another staff, a man called Ismen, floated over, caught by the discussion.

“Imagine an albino, like Enki at the Station, in an escape pod to a standard planet. He’s in space minimals, and when he lands, the pod catches on fire so suddenly, that all he can save is food and water. Plenty of both. But no clothing.”
Kina picked up on her friend’s idea and laughed too. “Yes, in a desert road.”

“No shadows in sight, it’s midday, but he’s got plenty of water and food to make it to safety.”

“He could be four hours out of the next town and know it. What would be a lucky landing and a pleasant trek for us becomes a terrifying horror with no way out for our albino.”

Kertan nodded, thoughtful. “That’s a fear you can understand but we can’t relate to, that’s a good point but a bit too subtle.”

“Why not stick to a good Alien story?” Ismen asked, “it certainly is in the air, after the recent discovery.”
Heads turned to him.

“What do you mean?” Kina asked.

“He means the floating alien ship found in the deep Eastern Quadrant.” Kertan said.

“Yes, was there any news regarding that?”

Ismen nodded. “Yes, more came down the links, on the aliens themselves.”

Given Kina’s confused looks, Kertan did some explaining.

“You must have heard a bit about it, it was just after we left Station, but everyone was losing it on the links. A miner ship in the Eastern Quadrant was working a new route when their Eye caught the signal of a non responsive ship coming in pretty fast. They sent a crew to inspect it when it became clear there was no obvious life signs.”

“The design of the ship was primitive but beautiful,” Tenssu chipped in, “it was badly mangled though.”

“The idea, Kina, is that it bit a lot of people’s ass that the discovery of aliens capable of space travel was done through their dead finding us, rather than us detecting them. It must be keeping a lot of scientists busy.”

“So, what’s the news Ismen?”

“They released videos and images. From the first contact and from the official take-over. They were all dead on board, had been for some time,” he went on, everyone drinking his words. “It was a seed ship, they had over fifty of their own in sleeping pods, and a lot of lives and cells in cryo compartments. It all melted away.
The aliens… They’re interesting. Small, slim and all built straight, they’re bipedial, two legs and two arms like us, but with a round, flat head, a flat face with very few features. They have small teeth, obviously not carnivorous, despite predatory forward fronting eyes.”

“Do they have opposable fingers then?”

“Yeah, they showed the hands of one, they’re short, pink and pudgy, with five fingers of three knuckles, no claws, just a little band of keratin at the top. Their whole body is pink actually, and pretty hairless. They have mops of hair on their heads though. They have no tail. I still reckon the disturbing thing is their face, and their mouth, that’s just this small slit in the middle of it.” He shuddered.

Kina and Tenssu let out little excited shrieks and jabbered about how odd it would be, to have such a weird alien as a crew member.

Kertan looked down on his own hands, so familiar, with his tan blue skin, almost black, and the purple dance of veins along the long bones of his six fingers, tapered to the razor sharp set of retractable claws that allowed for exquisitely precise work.

“Sounds more like a very sad story to me.”

“What’s that Kertan?”

“Did you think what might have drawn them out? Packing a ship with so much precious cargo and into space, using gravitational slings to power their trip? So much effort to end as a mere curiosity for a more space developed race?”

“You know, we’ll find their world soon. Maybe we can help.”

Kertan shrugged. “The Empire only helps what it can conquer.”

“Yeah,” Kina said, “That’s our everyday life.”

“Too true” said Kertan as he waved an apologetic sign and pushed himself away in a long arc around the room.


His course sent him towards the window, the second largest in the ship. His long tail curled around a handle and pulled him to a stop in front of the dark expense of space.

Yes, horror would be to wake up in a ship of hope, pulled from slumber by a panicking AI. Fumbling in one of these full body suits and helmet, battling to correct a course that wouldn’t shred the hull, dealing with the last drops of fuel of a ship never designed for deep space travel. The sheer weight of every decision. The pressure of the sightless stares of forty-nine sleeping bodies.

And then the shock, the blast as air escaped into the void.

The horror of floating there in the dark on your own tank of air, in the carcass of an unresponsive ship, wrapped by the accusing silence of forty-nine mute comrades in death.
Waiting. Not knowing that help would come, if too late.
Waiting and finally dying alone, a failure at the end of a risky bet.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2015, 07:26:07 AM by Nora »
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline D_Bates

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2015, 10:44:57 PM »
Managed to push it down to 1474 words. Hope you enjoy.

Space Politics.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Alexi’s footsteps echoed throughout the silver tube to the station’s auditorium. He’d only joined the cleaning crew aboard the KK-Rispy Reme for little under a week now, and had yet to even see what lay within this forbidden chamber. During his arrival flight, he’d noted how it had looked like a sparkling marble suspended in the middle of a glazed donut.

At the end of the passage he swiped his hand over a panel on the wall and the air-lock door rolled open. His anxiety bled away to the smell of weathered carpet and wood polish. A beautiful female voice caressed his eardrums with song. This was so unlike the sterile metallic environment of the rest of the station… It left him wondering where he was.

“You’re late.”

Alexi jumped and spun to face a grizzled old man in overalls.

“The new kid, right?” the man queried. “Lompins…? Stonkson…?”

“Tompkinson, sir,” he said. “Alexi Tompkinson.”

“Ah, Tompkinson! That’s it. I’m Parker, but people around here call me Earthrunner."

"Why?"

The man stared at him plainly. "Never you mind. Just grab a bag and let’s hit the upper decks. The show’ll be over soon.”

The mention of a show filled Alexi with anticipation. After grabbing a black bag from an open metal cubicle in the veneer wall, he hastily tailed Earthrunner to a glass tube similar to those elsewhere on the station that were used to travel between floors. It was like levitating on a breath of air.

The opening at the top of the tube led onto the upper rafters of a vast semi-circular chamber filled with many rows of seats. It reminded Alexi of the theatre back home… only, the audience wasn’t quite how he remembered. They were aliens, and were all transfixed by a lone human woman stood alone on the stage—the source of the beautiful voice. “What is this?” he asked Earthrunner.

“It’s space opera, my boy. Ain’t you ever seen one of them before?”

“But what’s it in aid of?”

“Peace, of course. Don’t you read the news? The President has finally negotiated for the heads of the other powerhouses in the galaxy to put their differences aside for an evening to share their culture with one another.”

“Why on planet Earth would he do that?”

“Why not? Peace conventions is what us humans do, ain’t it? It’s been our eternal mission to unite all sentient lifeforms under a single union... a federation... a united intergalactic state! Didn’t you study history in school?”

“Not… that kind of history, no.”

Alexi gazed over the chamber. Almost a quarter of the seats were empty, but the rest were filled with humanoids, insectoids, and what looked like limp squids floating in large cylindrical tubes of water. “Are those things dead?”

The question startled Earthrunner. “A death? Where?”

Alexi pointed at the nearest tank, drawing a relieved sigh from his associate.

“Goodness, Tompkinson, you almost gave me a heart attack. Have you any idea of the spatial consequences were somebody to die here today?”

“Then those things aren’t dead?”

“No, those beings aren’t. How macabre to even think that of the Hydraxids of Aqua-Centai VII. They’re amphibious by nature, though they can’t hack the artificial air pressure up here. Hence the tanks.”

“I see. And what are they?” He pointed towards the rows of crickets the size of dogs which dominated the central regions of the seats.

“Oh, they’re the—“ Earthrunner made a series of clicking noises with his tongue.

“Huh?”

“I said they’re the—“ Again he made the odd clicks.

“What’s with the strange sound?”

Earthrunner huffed. “That’s their language, Tompkinson. They’re a species of giant insect from the Anton Hillier Nebula. It took learned men over a century to translate their language. If you ask me, the time would've been better spent creating a universal translator that just allowed us to communicate with everything off the bat.”

Alexi frowned. “Do the terms giant and insect really go together?”

“Why not ask their queen,” he said, pointing at the largest of the creatures—almost ten times the size of the others—perched across four of the seats.

Alexi shuddered.

By now the beautiful song had finished and the woman was departing from the stage. The room gave her an odd send off—a cross between claps, clicks, popping bubbles, and razor blades scraping together.

Things eventually quietened down, and it remained so for a good five minutes, everyone frozen staring at the stage. When a further five minutes passed with no improvement, Alexi had to ask,” What’s happening?”

“It’s the Eviscibles turn,” said Earthrunner.

“Which ones are they?”

“Them over there.” He aimed a crooked finger towards the empty seats on the right.

Alexi couldn’t see anything. “Are they really tiny?”

“Not tiny: invisible. They’re an invisible race of spiny lizardmen who occupy the asteroid belts of Incineral.”

“How come they're invisible?”

“Why ask me!? Maybe they’re shy? Maybe their features are so complex that our eyes cannot fully comprehend them? Or maybe it’s just more horrifying to see them eviscerate somebody when their body isn’t in the way to cover it up! Now shush and listen.”

Alexi did, but he couldn’t hear, let alone see, anything, and the Eviscible performance went on for a good half hour. By the time the crowd began to make some noise he was struggling to stand.

“Is that it? Do we get to clean now?” he asked.

“Of course not,” said Earthrunner. “The show doesn’t end until the fat alien sings. Speaking of which…”

A circle in the middle of the stage opened so that a large, round yellow alien in a tuxedo could rise up on a metal disc. And he kept on rising to float all the way up above the audience.

Earthrunner stared at this new performer in awe. “The Slopranos,” he mumbled. “Such a rare and beautiful species from the edge of the known space.”

“How come his skin’s yellow?” asked Alexi. “I thought Slopranos were either blue or green?”

“Maybe he’s the missing link between the two? You know, you ask very stupid questions, Tompkinson.”

Undeterred by this insult to his intelligence, Alexi set about to prove that he wasn’t the densest janitor in all the universe. “They’re also supposed to weigh fifty times their body mass. I doubt a real Slopranos could be lifted on a little disc like that.”

Earthrunner slapped his head with one hand and motioned towards the section where the Hydraxis tanks were situated. “Don’t you see the flashing lights over there? That machinery’s an anti-grav ejector—a most complex piece of technology that infuses the elements Nita and Vityrag together, lightening all airspace within a hundred and seventy-seven million cubic inches.”

“I… didn’t understand a word of that.”

“You don’t have to understand it, Tompkinson. Just accept that it’s what’s making the fat man float. Now shut up and just enjoy his voice.”

Alexi tried, but he was more intrigued by the odd antennae protruding from the Slopranos’ neck. They seemed to vibrate in tune with his pitch. The higher it went, the faster they moved, until, in the final crescendo, they each became a blur like a hummingbird’s wings.

The pitch was so high that the very walls shook.

A chain of smashing glass drew everyone’s attention to the left. The Hydraxis’ chambers had shattered, and the squid folk were all flailing about on the flooded floor, suffocating.

Smoke started to rise from the drenched machinery behind them, and moments later there came a resounding crunch.

The Slopranos’ disc had crashed down and squashed the Anton Hillier Queen, coating everybody in the vicinity in orange blood—including the invisible Eviscibles. And oh, what terrifying features their blood skin revealed… maws… and claws… and scythe-like tusks.

The death of their queen sent the bugs into a blind rage, and they started to hop onto the heads of everything in range. Most of the humanoids began to flee, some splitting into multiple pieces as the insulted Eviscibles also started to lash out. It was sheer bedlam down there.

“Oh, the alienity...” muttered Earthrunner. He threw his arms down. “Oh, and now the insects are laying their eggs in people's cheeks.”

“Ew,” was Alexi’s response.

“Ew indeed. The process was once considered as a new form of botox. Rather than preventing wrinkles, the larvae just ate out the ones already there… Along with the rest of the face, mind you. But hey, what vanity process doesn’t have unfortunate side effects?”

“So what do we do?”

“Do, Tompkinson? What we do is what we’re paid to do. Wait for them to finish and then clean up the mess.”

“But they’re killing each other down there!"

“Welcome to the world of space politics, my boy. Think we may well need a new President after this fiasco.”
« Last Edit: August 31, 2015, 05:21:12 PM by D_Bates »
David Bates
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Ciara: A Faun's Tale - 90,000; The K.B.G. - 100,000; Maria and the Jarls of Jotun - 90,000; The Shame that lurks in Stableton - current project; Ezra'il - Plotted. TBC July 2018

Offline Elfy

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2015, 03:00:29 AM »
Took a bit to cut this down to the word limit. Hopefully it doesn't suffer too much. This was a fun topic and one that we don't see a lot of in fiction these days. It's called Always a Hero and weighs in at 1475 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Always a Hero

I glared at the hateful Venusian across the room; I knew that the multi-limbed creature had to be smirking behind that helmet they all wore, but as I was trapped in a stasis field there wasn’t a damn thing I could do.

That was when Captain Awesome skidded into the flight-bay. He snapped off a few quick shots from his blaster at the pursuers; a perfectly aimed final burst hit the controls that activated the heavy metal doors.  They slammed shut, cutting off the ‘shellheads’…at least temporarily.

He stopped and struck a heroic pose. His golden hair fluttered in the breeze from an air vent, his teeth shone as he flashed me a grin. I could see his muscles rippling under the tight green and blue bodysuit he wore as a costume.

“Scrapper!” he shouted.

The stasis field shook as I tried to warn him.

“Need a hand little buddy?” he asked.

 I couldn’t even nod a response. The field was too strong.

Fortunately it had been a rhetorical question. Awesome unclipped a small disc-shaped object from his utility belt. With the arm that had won countless gravball games during a glittering high school career, he flung it at the stasis field. As soon as the disrupter hit it, the field disintegrated.

I didn’t have long to celebrate my freedom. The Venusian who had held the two homesteader kids under its gun, turned the blaster on me…

                                                              ****

“So what happens next?” Dash Darington aka Captain Awesome asked me, as I finished the installment of his serialized adventures and prepared to send it to our editors, before it was beamed to the digichips of IP Murdoch subscribers everywhere.

I looked at my none-too-bright partner and rolled my eyes.

“We die of course.”

“Really?” Awesome asked with blithe unconcern, tossed a peanut in the air and caught it neatly in his mouth. “That’ll surprise the readers.”

“We don’t die,” I reassured him. “I was kidding.”

“Oh.”  He really had believed me. “So how do I rescue you this time?”
“You throw your tivanium boomerang at the Venusian’s shot, which ricochets off it. Then you shoot the Venusian and we rescue the kids. We return them to their parents on Mimas, give them the usual speech about how this war is all about them and tell them that if they eat their vegetables then they too can grow up big and strong like Captain Awesome and become interplanetary heroes.”

“I love a happy ending,” Awesome said, his big dopey grin creeping across his broad face.

                                                                   ****

Dash Darington isn’t really a hero. He was a high school gravball sensation on Titan before he wrecked his knee, and some bright spark in the marketing department of IP Murdoch worked out that he looked great in a superhero suit, and could sell the fight against the shellheads to the public, and actually give them some hope.

I was writing advertisements and reviewing local theatre on Themis when I saw the offer to write the adventures of Captain Awesome. My entry was the best of those submitted, so I got the job and was even able to cast myself as his sidekick.

I’m a Larvatus, so I look cute and cuddly and appeal to kids. I’m a relatively harmless type of sidekick, so I always need rescuing. Larvatus’ all have very fast reflexes so have been in demand as fighter pilots ever since the shellheads entered our system via the gate near Venus, overwhelmed the planet and launched a full scale attack on the rest of the system’s planets and moons to get control of our resources.

We call them Venusians because they set up a base there, and that’s where their gate is. They’re not even from our galaxy. They have four arms and two legs; those that have seen them under the helmets and lived to tell the tale say that they look like giant ants. Some of the scant research done on them suggests that like the insects they resemble they have a hive mind.

The Adventures of Captain Awesome and Scrapper became a huge hit, and kids everywhere want to grow up to become Captain Awesome. I find it rather ironic that despite never having been anywhere near an armed forces recruiting office, Dash has been responsible for more people joining up to fight the Venusians than any ten bonafide war heroes anyone cares to name.

                                                              ****

We were both debating heading out to a bar for a few drinks when the door to my office burst open and a wide-eyed Klataan girl stormed in. Her skin was blue, her antenna poked out wildly from her fiery red hair and her name was Lucy.

“Let me see if I have this straight,” I asked her. “Your grandfather worked out how to shut down the Venusian’s gate and they kidnapped him?”

Lucy nodded and then said, “The Planetary Alliance were taking him to Earth so they could protect him and destroy the galaxy gate, but the Venusians attacked his ship and took him prisoner. You have to help me!”

“Why doesn’t the PA do it?” Awesome asked.

“They’ve got him on their Saturn station. The PA can’t get anyone in there, but you’re a hero, Captain Awesome, and our only hope!”

                                                          ****

If we hadn’t agreed to help Lucy I honestly think she would have figured out how to rescue her grandfather all on her own. The Klataans are technologically brilliant and make most human geniuses look like dunces, but Lucy and her Poppop (as she called him), were advanced even by their standards.

Awesome is almost as brave as I make him look in the stories, but this sounded suicidal even to him. That was until Lucy produced a couple of little toys that she and Poppop had developed. One could cloak the Awesomobile from the Venusians until we were just about on their station. The other translated her voice as Venusian, so if they did hail the AM, they’d think they were talking to one of their own.

                                                                ****

The cloaking device was fine until we landed on the flight bay, then the Venusians worked out that we weren’t one of theirs and all hell threatened to break loose. Lucy held her little microphone up to her mouth and spoke into it. Awesome and I heard her speaking Standard, but what the shellheads heard was their own clicking language. She claimed to have captured the human hero Captain Awesome on his own ship and would bring him out to them.

“You sure about this?” I asked Awesome as he got ready to exit the ship, look captured and provide cover for Lucy and I to find Poppop.

He shrugged large shoulders. “Dude, I’m a hero. This is what I do.”

I gave him a hard look and muttered, “You’re a pretend hero.”

Awesome exited out one side and was met by a squad of armed shellheads. Lucy and I took off from the concealed entrance (Awesome never uses it, he’s too big, even Lucy, slender as she is, was a tight fit) and went running for where Poppop was being held. Apparently Lucy’s antennae let her know his location.

                                                             ****

The old Klataan was being held in a small cell. The bars were composed of glimmering blue light. They weren’t much different to what was used throughout the system to hold prisoners. The weird thing is that despite how high-tech it looks, no one has ever thought to shield the mechanism that activates the bars properly.

“You got a hairpin?” I asked Lucy.

Even as she withdrew one from her flaming locks she asked me, “Why?”

“Misspent youth,” I replied, as I twisted the bobby pin and went to work on the lock. Before long the bars let out a powering-down noise and disappeared.

We filled in a surprised and delighted Poppop as we ran for the Awesomobile.

“We’re going to have trouble getting away,” the Klataan said.

“You think?” I asked him sarcastically.

“I have something that may help,” he said, tossing a rectangular black box to me.

“What’s this?”

“A bomb. It will blow this entire station to bits.”

“But Poppop, they activate very quickly,” Lucy pointed out.

“You armed it, didn’t you?” I assumed.

He nodded.

                                                              ****

Awesome was holding off a platoon of shellheads. I may have made up a lot of stuff, but he really can shoot.

“Got a plan?” he asked.

“Got a bomb,” I answered.

“That’ll do. Toss it over.”

“The catch is that it’s armed and will blow really quick.”

“I can’t fly and we really need the information in the old dude’s head.”

“Dash!” I argued, knowing what he was thinking.

He shook his head, “I was always a hero, Scrap.”

Tears in my eyes, I threw the bomb to my best friend.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline The Meddler

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2015, 10:44:14 PM »
So here's my story, 1080 words including the title. Probably shouldn't have left it this late to write up, but hopefully I'll learn eventually. ;D
A Captain needs a Crew
Spoiler for Hiden:

Lyra looked over the sleeping minds that filled prison complex Delta-One and sighed. She had been sifting through the thousands-strong population for six days now. Almost a week and she still hadn't found someone to be her second-in-command. She'd thought this would be the perfect place to look; Delta-One held prisoners of varying security levels, and due to its location near the local system's trade planet the inmates came from all over the quadrant. She should have had plenty of choice. That, as it turned out, was not the case.

Obviously there were the creeps and the psychos who she could not in good conscience release. On the other hand, none of the goody-goodies in low security were of any use either. Most of them just wanted to go home. Of the rest in low and the inmates in medium security, they were all either unsuitable to be XO's, not strong enough to hold their own in a fight or was someone she knew she wouldn't be able to work with.

 The young woman leaned back in her bunk and shifted her focus to the various guards patrolling between her and the prisons small port. She had stolen a couple of food packets in front of some off-duty lawmen, so she was being held in the lowest security area. It wouldn't take much effort to dodge a few guards, steal a ship and escape. She could always try again somewhere else. On the other hand, she didn't really want to admit that this had been a complete waste of time. She'd thought it had been such a good plan when she had made it.
As Lyra was thinking, a spike of emotion from one of the guards caught her attention. He appeared to be listening to one of his co-workers talking animatedly about something. Curious, she tapped into their minds and listened.

"-and they're stopping off here tomorrow. That's why the prisoners are getting shut in earlier, the boss wants to make sure the transfer goes well."

"They won't be too happy about that. How long is this thing going to take?"

"Just a couple of hours. They arrive, wait for their new ship to be readied, then they're on their way to the jump gate. I think the people who want him are getting impatient."

"Makes sense. They've wanted this guy for what, two years? I bet they're worried he'll escape before they get their hands on him."

"Yeah. Do you remember when he did it? It was all over the local networks. 'Rogue soldier blows up weapons factory.' It was lucky only one person died."

"Not for that guy."

"Heh. Hey, do you know whether the cooks are-" As the conversation drifted, Lyra considered what she'd just heard. She had experience dealing with soldiers, and if this one blew up a factory he could obviously handle himself. She nodded to herself. If he was the one she'd been looking for and he agreed to her terms, she had some work to do if she wanted to break him out.

*******

Gerrick closed his eyes and tried to relax. After he had been taken aboard the replacement ship he sure to be sedated for the remainder of the journey. He may as well enjoy his last peaceful moments while he still could.

"Hey, soldier boy."

One eye flickered open.

"Yes, you. We don't have a lot of time, so this will be easier if you just listen and stick to one-word replies."

Maintaining an outwardly calm facade, Gerricks mind raced. There were four guards keeping watch around his cage, and not one had reacted to the voice. How was she-?

"I'm using telepathy, you twit. And I thought I said to just listen?"

Telepathy? He hesitated, then thought, "OK."

"Good! Now then, I'd like to make you a proposition. If you join me as the second-in-command of my crew, I'll not only help you escape your captors but I'll also make sure you stay out of their clutches for as long as you're with me. What do you think?"

Gerrick considered, struggling to control the hope that welled up in him. He put the telepathy to one side; he'd deal with that later. But if the rest of what she said was true, it meant no more running. No more looking at everyone and everything as a potential threat. Finally being able to feel safe. And in return...

"Is it for life?" he thought.

"It doesn't need to be. In fact, you'll be free to go anytime after we escape. However, if you do decide to leave then once you do so I will stop hiding you from your enemies. I won't broadcast your location, but if they come for you then you're on your own. Also, I'd recommend hurrying up your decision. I wasn't kidding when I said we're on a time limit."

When he thought about it, it shouldn't be a hard decision. Either certain and agonising death at the hands of the people he turned on, or freedom and the promise of work (admittedly under someone who appeared to be some sort of witch, but he'd never been one to shy away from excitement). And yet..

"Can I ask one more question?" he thought.

He heard a faint sigh, then a curt, "Sure, why not."

"Will you ever make me regret choosing to serve under you?"

As they'd talked (thought?), Gerrick had started to sense a far-off place in his mind where the voice seemed to originate. Even when she wasn't speaking, he could almost hear a faint noise coming from that distant point, like static from an old-style communicator. When he asked his question, that noise disappeared.

"This is important to you," she thought.

"Yes."

She was silent for a few moments, then she spoke. "I'm only human. I won't tell you that I'll never mess up, because I know I will. However, I want to be a good captain, and I know I can be one. I promise that even if you do decide to go your own way at some point, you will not regret accepting me as your captain."

A grin slowly spread over Gerricks face. "Good enough for me. Let's do this, Captain."

His new superior giggled. "Yes! I knew you'd join me! Now you might want to brace yourself, Gerrick." He could hear a matching grin on her face. "This is going to be fun."
« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 09:15:48 PM by The Meddler »

Offline NightWrite

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2015, 12:04:15 AM »
Lack of ideas left this one later than I would have liked, but it is what it is.

Here's my story Went Down With the Junk at 1,128 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Curses filled the cramped cabin as Varren rubbed his knuckles. The sub-orbital drives were malfunction and his usual deft touches weren't doing their magic.
   At the rate things were going he'd never make it to any of the floating market on Caladon. His current haul rung out with promises of repairs and new parts. Promises drowned and smothered by the failing parts set to be replaced. He could call for a tow ship, but costs were gut wrenching with the recent wars surrounding the area. A conundrum made worse by the teasing visage of Caladon, the gas giant languidly orbiting its sun in front of him.
   He should have gone into opera like his mother wanted.
   Varren loved his ship though. Even on days where it was a pile of junk puttering about with a pile of junk inside.
   The scavenger pilot grumbled as his thoughts turned to his engineer. Instead of working on the engines with Kala, Tors had gone off to tinker. With some of their junk of all things. Leaving Varren to suffer her rants over the intercom.
   He sighed, flicking a switch to his left. “I told you Kala, nothing's changed. The display is still reading in the negatives.”
   “And I'm telling you you're an idiot. We just updated this–“ A loud crackle filled the cabin. “Curse this to the void.”
   “What happened.”
   “Seems you aren't blind after all. Some of the wiring is chewed through. Moon mice and a large nest if the droppings are any indication.”
   “Tors did mention some of his food missing.”
   “Tors is a glutton who can't remember what he's stuffed his face with.”
   “Your just jealous.” Tors' voice sounded through the intercom. His tone dripped with sarcasm and smug satisfaction.
   “A black-hole is jealous. Now get down here and help me. That junk will still be there later.”
   “Not if Varren sells it.”
   “It's one of the most worthless looking pieces of our haul. You can keep it as part of your pay if it matters so much to you.”
   “I've been trying to tell you this is worth more than all our earnings.”
   “Yet you can't tell us what it is or does.” Varren could hear the tightness in Kala's voice, his own headache as tight.
   “Well, no. But I feel it in my bones. You accept Varren's gut feelings, the least you can do is accept mine.”
   “I'd be more tolerant of them if you were down here doing your job.”
   “Kala's right Tors.”
   “Fine, I'll be there in a moment.”
~~~
It took a lot of work, but the pair had patched the problem and caught all the mice within a few hours. The ship was now pulling into one of the dry docks stationed around the market hub. Tors had remained in his cabin as Varren went off to find their usual buyers, having left Kala to harass the dock crew about repairs.
   It had taken a few tries, but Varren had been successful. The buyer, however, hadn't wanted to buy everything at the original estimated price. It made him wish Tors had come along, the other man better at haggling for scrap.
   Sending off messages to his crew and for someone to pick up the scrap, Varren turned his attention to Kala's list. Most of it was food, Varren noticed. Before he had left, Kala had mentioned the moon mice had eaten more than expected. They'd have to cut back on fruit, much to Tors' protest. Real fruit, however, was too expensive on Caladon, leaving just synthofruit. Varren wouldn't get any though, knowing Tors wouldn't stand for the synthetic, rubbery food.
   Kala or Tors would deal with the new parts themselves. Varren expected Kala with Tors' too distracted by his new obsession.
   It was some time later, as Varren was returning to the ship, when the market shook. The floor twisted beneath their feet, the shrieks of metal filled their ears. Merchandise and lighting toppled over, forming a large shattered mess. From a side street Varren was blinded by light filling the neighboring street. His flesh tingled with a feeling of wrongness. As if sitting in a sun, sweat pouring down his tightening skin.
   As the light faded he could see the street again, or what was left of it. It was a burnt out channel, carved into the metal hull of the market. Nothing, not even ash, remained as proof of the once busy stretch of market. Small fires spread as what did survive along the edges had ignited. The ship corridor was gone. Varren hoped with everything he was Kala or Tors hadn't started looking for parts yet.
   The people, stunned by the light and sound, regained their senses. Panic filled the streets, people screaming about rebels or terrorists. People fell into the gouge in the market as shopper trampled each other to escape. Sirens filled the air with a cacophony as the smell of burning flesh and molten metal assaulted his senses.
   He ran, pushing against the flow as people ran from blast. Varren needed to find his crew. They had to be alright, they just had to.
~~~
As the streets emptied it became easier for Varren to run and he soon made it back to the dry docks where his ship rested. There he found his crew pinned down by blaster fire next to one of the railings overlooking the lower decks. A group of men in strange, heavy armor shouted as they laid into his crew's protection. Dodging fire to dive behind cover he opened his mouth to question them.
   Kala, sensing his question, cut him off. “Tors new toy isn't just a hideous piece of ceramic and metal. It's some kind of ancient battery. One which is under a lot of pressure to discharge.”
   “I didn't mean to open it I swear.”
   A heavy feeling sank in Varren's gut as he saw the molten gash through the sky market radiated forward from their positions.
   “All that aside,” Kala said, “these guys arrived to take it.” Reaching around cover she returned fire, taking one of the men out. “They know what it is. Desperate to get their hands on it too.”
   An explosion rocked them from behind, Tors stumbling forward. The device slipping from his grip to tumble over the edge of the deck. All three rushed to look over the edge, watching the device plummet to the deck below.
   The last thing Varren saw before the world went white was the device smashing into the ground. A multitude of web thin cracks raced through the casing. A soul twisting shriek. Then nothing but oblivion.

Offline ArcaneArtsVelho

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #20 on: September 01, 2015, 01:22:07 PM »
Finally got it to 1500. When I was gently outlining the story I though it would end up being 1200-1300 words.  ::)

But hey, I made it! Enjoy!

1500 words, including the title which is Hope to Deception.

Includes some swearing.

Spoiler for Hope to Deception:

Hope to Deception

She paid no heed to the flashing lights or the wailing of the master alarm. The shouts of others were muffled in her head as she concentrated, staring at the dark canvas, speckled with tiny lights. Many others would have panicked at a time like this. But she didn’t; she never did.

There was a thud, and the spaceship shuddered. And with that she sprung into action. “Open comms, all channels!”

“Comms open, Captain.”

“Unidentified spaceship, this is Captain Ai Hiro of the Interstellar Cruiser Deception. We are on a peaceful exploration mission from the New Earth. Hold your fire and establish communications.”

The Navigation and Communication Officer, Lieutenant Bradley, fidgeted as he translated the captain’s words to the two known alien languages. Then they waited. But the only answer they got was another thud and shudder.

“Okay then,” Ai said. “Filip! Status report!”

“Er?” the Chief Military Officer, Major Leshaux, hesitated, hunching over the station of Ship Manager Lewis who had been knocked unconscious by the initial attack. “Rear shields at 70 percent, sides at 80, and front full. We still have thrust, but the auxiliary reactors are shutting down, so power levels are waning. Er, what else?"

“The weapons, Filip?” Ai smiled to her long time colleague.

“Oh. Defensive and main lasers are functional. Missile Control is offline.”

“I’ll check on them,” Doctor Laura Jones said and got up from examining the bruised head of the unconscious ship manager.

“Others can help them. You’d only get hurt getting there, dear. Sit down,” Ai asked, not ordered, her best friend. Reluctantly Doc Laura took a seat, just as they got hit again. “Can we take them down with only lasers?”

“Hardly. And we’d have to turn around to use the main one. Rear shields near 50 now,” the major said.

“Shit!” Ai cursed and weighed her options briefly. “How are the SS systems?”

“Er. The subspace-drive looks to be down, but the subspace-beacon is functional.”

“But the long-range antennas are not,” Bradley pointed out.

“Nice,” Ai snorted and shook her head. Then she opened the intercom. “Engine room, status?”

“Fucked up, sir, ma’am, whatever,” was the no bullshit reply from the Chief Engineer, Sergeant Johnson. “And I’d like to inform your highness that the escape pods aren’t working down here.”

“That’s the only way to keep you from leaving,” Ai gave a short laugh. “They become active after the evacuation order is given. Any chance you could fix —” Another thud cut off the captain. The intercom carried a sound of an explosion from the engine room. There was static on the line. “BS! Are you all right?”

After a short silence, the intercom crackled back to life. “I’m here. But the SS-drive has other ideas.”

“No way to fix it?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Well, thanks anyway. Try to keep the main reactor operational. Over.”

“Wilco. Out.”

“Rear shields at 38. They can absorb two hits at the most before we start taking some serious damage. The ship's gaining on us and hits harder the closer it gets,” Leshaux said as the captain was deep in thought.

“Time between shots?” Ai asked.

“20 seconds.”

Ai paused again, staring into space, her mouth moving ever so slightly as her brilliant mind—as Doc Laura would have said—formed a plan with which came the best chances of survival. Then, in a heartbeat, Ai’s vacant expression was gone, and she nodded with a smile on her face. “Re-route half the power from the sides to the rear. Take all non-essential systems down to minimum to get a power reserve. All except the SS-beacon.”

“That makes no sense!” Bradley protested.

But Leshaux had no problem following the captain’s orders. “Rear shields at 75. All non-essentials except the subspace-beacon on minimum.”

“Long-range comms are down and so is the SS-drive; the SS-beacon is a useless waste of energy!” Bradley continued to argue.

The captain—a former Navigation and Communication Officer herself—knew all this well. But she had ingenuity that the new NavCom officer did not possess. “Just perform the locking procedure with the beacon!” Ai ordered.

“Fine! Locking to the beacon at New Earth!”

“No! They can’t help.” Ai browsed through the mission documents from the briefing two days ago, finally stopping her eyes on a line on the Active Missions list. “Target a beacon at geocentric equatorial coordinates: Right ascension 14h 39min 36.4951s, declination: -60° 50min 02.308s, distance: 1.339 parsecs, epoch: 2100.”

Bradley furrowed and shook his head but entered the coordinates. “Calculating target... No known beacon at the coordinates,” he read from the screen, his voice more triumphant than what would have been expected in their situation.

Thud.

“Rear shields at 45! After the next one they’ll be too low to do us any good!”

“It’s a dormant beacon. Try to lock on,” the captain said, unfazed by Leshaux’ words.

Bradley sighed.“Locking.” Then his jaw dropped as a small blip appeared on the screen. “We have a lock?”

“Break it!”

“Break the lock? What the he—”

“Just break the damn lock!” Ai ordered. The icy scowl of her eyes was enough to tone down Bradley’s defiance.

“Fine! No lock!”

“Target the same beacon again.”

Bradley did as ordered but couldn’t bite his tongue. “You do know this thing sucks a lot of power? And that’s something we are lacking.”

“Use the power reserve.”

“New guys,” Doc Laura sighed, rolling her eyes. Then she gave a wide smile to Ai who responded in kind. “You should learn to trust your captain, Bradley.”

“In my experience they lack both the knowledge and skill to earn my trust.”

“Not this one,” Leshaux assured.

“Yeah, yeah,” said the lieutenant who, despite his experience aboard other spaceships, was only on his first mission with the Deception. And he clearly didn’t buy into the tales of Ai’s heroic deeds. “Lock!”

Thud.

“Keep breaking the lock and reacquiring it!” Ai ordered. “Filip, how are we looking?”

“No lock!”

“Rear shields are practically down. There would be some loss in the transition, but I could re-route the power from the sides and front to the rear. Otherwise the next shot, in... 15 seconds, will probably be our last.”

“Lock!”

“Re-route only the sides. That gives us at least one shot longer. Still, we need more time. How are the thrusters?”

“No lock!”

“Main thrusters at 20 percent. Retros, stabilizers, and turning at the bare minimum.”

“Cut the main. All power to the turning and stabilizers,” Ai said and then paused to think again. “And re-route all the power from life-support to them too so we have full maneuverability.”

“Lock! Oh, now you want us to die by asphyxiation?”

“Don’t be silly,” the doctor said. “We’ll most likely blow up waaay before we asphyxiate.”

“Great! No lock.”

“Ready?” Ai asked. “I’m going to turn us around after the next hit. Haven’t done that with the artificial gravity at minimum, so hang on tight.”

“Turning and stabilizers at maximum.”

Ai pulled herself closer to the console which she had outfitted with all the controls needed to fly the ship alone. She had operated the cruiser without help once before the modifications—before becoming a captain—, but that one time, running around the bridge—between pilot station, engine controls, and navigation console—to control the spacecraft, had been enough.

Thud.

The captain took the controls and began an excruciatingly slow yaw. She had to make the turn, for a shot from the pursuer to the shieldless side of her ship would have been the end.

Bradley kept shouting the beacon status. Unconscious Lewis slid gently across the floor. Doc Laura stared at Ai, muttering prayers to gods she didn’t believe in. Leshaux counted down to another hit. And when he got to five, the alien spaceship appeared on their front window. It fired its weapon just as Ai stopped the cruiser’s yaw. With a thud and a green flash of light the shields absorbed the attack.

“Front shields at 55! One shot and they’re down!”

“We’re dead!” Bradley whimpered, forgetting to run the beacon.

“There’s still hope!” Ai said firmly, though there was nothing they could have done.

They waited. The alien spacecraft was practically touching the Deception when a light popped up on Bradley’s screen. “What! Our SS-beacon is targeted! Incoming traveller. ETA 25 seconds.”

“There’s Hope,” Ai smiled, waiting.

Thud.

“Subspace traveller here in 15 seconds.”

They held their breath for 15 seconds and for 20, but there was no thud, and the distance to the alien ship started to increase.

Then the short-range radio caught a signal. “This is Colonel Farrell, Commander of the Interstellar Battleship Hope. Alien spacecraft, cease your hostilities and back the fuck away from our cruiser!”

The aliens were already going.

“Hope to Deception,”
Farrell said on a secure channel. “Two failed beacon locks could be an accident. But seven? That spells trouble to me.”

“Well, sir, then I’m glad you can read,” Ai laughed. “Thanks for the assist.”


« Last Edit: September 01, 2015, 01:42:27 PM by ArcaneArtsVelho »
Everything I wrote above is pure conjecture. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm a perfectionist but not very good at anything. That's why I rarely finish things.

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: [AUG 2015] - Space Opera - Submission Thread
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2015, 10:09:47 AM »
THIS THREAD IS NOW CLOSED, PLEASE DON'T SUBMIT ANY MORE STORIES.

(the proper stuff will come later)
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