12 December, 2010

Additional Scans...Story of a Life Snippet 13

(This story I have worked on in bits and pieces for about three years.  This is the first new piece I have added in a while.)

     "You have much to teach many people still in this Life."
     At times I have felt as if my knowledge was outdated, trite.  I have also felt like I have nothing left to teach anyone, as Time itself has flashed on by.  For all that I see and know, not everything I think is right.  And as was proven to me, I really can be wrong at times.

     Talking with my friend Hanna one day, I lamented the Darkness I felt creeping up on me.  The poor girl listened to me, as I just rattled right through insanity.  I just kept going and going.  Hanna managed to stop me when I took a breath  I waited, hearing the gears in her head turn.
     She said the above statement to me.  For one of the rare times in my Life, I was speechless.  The notion had never occurred to me.   As I learned more about her thought on the matter, I realized just how right she was.  I was taken aback, proving once again I certainly do not know everything.
     We talked for a little bit, about a variety of things.  I laughed at one point, prompting a mystified reaction from Hanna.  I explained my laughter as a sign I understood my own humanity.  Sometimes, I told her, I forget that I am human. 
     From time to time I need reminded of things.  Spending so much time outside of myself, I tend to forget to look inwards.  One of the dangers I suspect of being who and what I am.

     "Why do I get shit on for being nice person?"
     Over the course of many years I have been asked this question.  Each time I have failed to find an answer.  The situations causing it to be asked vary, but the end result is the same.

     My friend Jennifer called me one day in the not so distant past.  When I answered, I heard something I never expected:  her crying actively.  Getting her calm enough to talk, I soon found out why.  The story reaffirmed why I like my cat more than people sometimes.
     A guy that she had been friends with had decided to just play games with her.  It was a terrible mess indeed, ending with me wanting to exterminate the problem.  I shook my head while talking, more so when she asked me the above question.
     In the end I did manage to help, but the scenario made me ponder my lot in Life.  Somehow I managed to be supremely lucky through things like this.  As another friend has told me, I am just very good at what I do.  Others agree with me, thinking I am just supremely lucky.
     Talking to Jennifer reminded me that I wished I could do more to remove some of the painful things that happen in this Life.  To that end, I tried any number of things.  None, sadly, seemed to do much good.  I knew this would not be my last encounter with the question either, making my mind turn more.

     A frown creased my face, as the wheels in my mind fired to maximum velocity.  I laughed, feeling like I was in my own version of A Christmas Carol, with the ghosts of Christmas just taking turns.  The pattern, however, showed a definite shift in things happening.
     My thoughts rambled on, a sense of an answer appearing on the horizon.  Know not precisely what the answer might be, but something hovered at the edge of my thoughts.  Perhaps, just perhaps I was wrong about a lot of things.
     My calm returned, allowing my mind to function fully.  Acceptance and a willingness to learn coloring my thoughts, I waited to see what episode awaited me next.

09 December, 2010

On the New Frontier...Who Said Shopping Wasn't Fun?

(This story combines some fact {From my experiences, as well as those of others.} and fiction from the holiday shopping season.)    

     "So it is completely fried?"
     A distracted nod from the computer engineer confirmed my statement.  I groaned, adding this to the small list of disasters for the day.  The engineer muddled about in silence, only chewing up my patience further.  Huffing, I said finally, "Solutions to this little disaster?"
     Staring for a count, he finally said thoughtfully, "The main processing unit has to be replaced.  The main logic circuits have fused, causing the system to lock in a loop. "
     Nodding, I mulled this over.  Knowing just how important the system was to operations, I frowned at it being down.  The company had a backup, but the system was older than it needed to be.  Knowing engineers as I did, I shuddered at how long this fix might take.
     "Is this a component I can run out and buy, then have you install today?"
     "Yes it is, "the engineer turned to me.  "I just thought of that.  Give me a moment to get you the information and switch you over to the backup."
     Minutes later, armed with precise details of what to buy, I set off.  I puzzled over the look given to me by my secretary Torli.  When I told her that I was running out to buy a piece of hardware, she merely nodded, her scales shading a crimson color.  I laughed it off, walking briskly in the fall air to the nearly shopping outlet.
     Upon reaching the parking area, I noted in dismay the place appeared to be packed.  Crossing through, I attempted to reason why the place sported more shoppers than normal.  Surprise flared through me as I walked, seeing the signs of people camping out.  My surprise ended, as realization of the date caught up to me.
     The day after Thanksgiving in the United States region of Earth.
     The traditional start of the Christmas holiday season recognized by a multitude of people on Earth.
     Black Friday!
     I calmed my racing thoughts, assuring myself it could not be all that bad.  I regained my calmness and sense of purpose as I reached the nearest entrance.  Surely, I told myself, in this day and age of technology, not everyone would be that silly.
     That thought lasted long enough for me to walk inside the outlet.  A moan of contempt escaped me unbidden, as my eyes and ears confirmed the worst.  The place was filled with beings of all kinds.  My plan of a quick run in and out faced the need for serious revision.  Gritting my teeth, I set off for the first store.
     Weaving through people, I only managed a couple of collisions.  I quickly lost my bearing, as the shopping area looked totally different.  I attempted to to flag down a passerby to no avail.  Shrugging, I set off in search of my objective, by any means available.
     After a protracted struggle past two large sales and the throngs attracted to them, I paused at a bench.  Sitting down, I yanked off first one shoe, then the other to rub my feet.  I knew the computer parts store was near, but I saw more sales ahead.  My mind wandered off, contemplating turning back and giving up.
     "What do you believe is the miracle of Christmas young man?"
     I turned to the right, startled at the question.  Standing beside me was a man dressed as Santa Claus.  Looking up at him, he stared back into my eyes.  My mind raced, strangely considering a serious answer to the question.  I never bothered celebrating the holiday, let alone think about it.  After several moments, I said as no answer formed in my mind, "I simply have no idea."
     To my utmost surprise, the character beside me merely nodded and departed.  Staring at the spot he occupied, I frowned at this random encounter.  I jumped up, moving off in the direction of the computer parts store.  I set my focus to maximum for the trip.
     A sudden bump and shove caused me to pause.  Grabbing the individual responsible, I smiled at them.  Holding out my hand, I snapped my fingers.  The girl in my grasp eyes widened, realization coming home.  She ruefully handed over my credit and identi cards.  I let go, giving her a meaningful shove in a different direction. 
     I continued on my journey, managing to reach my target minus (Much) more insanity.  Managing to side step a wrestling pair of customers fighting over some item, I leaped to the counter.  Reading off what I was looking for, a sales clerk returned with it.  Grumbling at the price, I forked over the necessary credits, departing lest a fight erupt.
     Passing a toy store, I doubled back.  My inner child surfaced at the worst of times always, but I relented and entered.  Surprisingly, the place seemed quieter than the rest of the shopping outlet.  I meandered my way through the store, grateful for a bit of quiet before attempting to escape.  I picked over the toys, some of them reminding me of days past.
     I picked up a transforming robot, smiling as it reminded me of my youth.  Turning over the package, I read over it with some amusement.  A slight smile surfaced, lasting until a mass hit me.  Turning, the toy also managed to disappear from my hands.  A female Eloisan glared at me, holding the toy I formerly had.  Looking up, she said defiantly, "You had this long enough.  Now it is mine."  And with that she marched out of view.
     Stunned, I quickly exited the toy store.  Walking slowly, I attempted to avoid contact with any being.  Christmas music blared over the roar of people, making a sound I never wanted to hear again.  I contemplated the total insanity of this holiday shopping thing I found myself in.  As I did, I bumped into a group of Santas.  As they moved off, I chuckled at my earlier random encounter.
      A small child appeared before me, causing me to crash into a (Inconveniently placed for me.) column.  Looking down, I prepared a full tirade for the child.  I stopped short, noting the ragged clothing.  I frowned, bending down to look the kid in the eyes.  I looked into void black eyes, as I handed her a mess of credit tokens.  I tried to decipher her expression, but she departed rapidly.  I watched her disappear in the middle of a large mass of shoppers, sighing.
     Shaking my head, I returned to my original purpose.  Just then a commotion of noise and light grabbed my attention.  Turning left, my curiosity caught me and sent me to the location.  Judging by the crowd, something truly entertaining had to be occurring.  I maneuvered for a clear view, finding a spot at the front of the crowd.
     A laugh overtook me at the sight presenting itself.  A magician, top hat and all, performed random magic tricks.  Some of them I knew, once having a friend who was a stage magician show me the inner secrets.  I laughed anyway, memories surfacing.
     Just then my eye caught movement at a corner of the small stage.  Looking closely, I noted both the ragged little girl and the Santa that asked me the question.  Both seemed, to my eye, to be just watching everything and everyone.  Keeping a figurative eye on them, I paid attention to the magician as well.  Laughing at a trick, I lost sight of those two figures.  Shrugging, I moved off before the performance ended and I found myself stampeded.
     As I deftly sidestepped a singing performance, a hand touched me.  Turning, I found myself face to face with a blue skinned Palatini.  Surprised, I opened my mouth to say something, but stopped.  Uncertain moments passed, then the Palatini let go and departed.  I stared at its retreating form (Members of the Palatini transcended traditional gender classification.) until I forced myself to locate a bench.
     Sitting, my mind worked into overdrive.  I knew from previous experiences that holiday shopping did weird things.  Nothing in those experiences accounted for what seemed to be happening around me now. I realized that I had wanted to leave the shopping outlet for sometime, but kept finding ways to stick around.
     A thought nagged at me.  Something about this felt vaguely familiar, as if I had seen it somewhere. I fought my rushing thoughts, eyes searching for something out of place.  On a whim I flicked out my scanner, dialing it to search for everything under the sun.  When the scan and my eyes returned a negative result, I huffed.  Perhaps, I mused in contempt of myself, I am getting too jittery in my advancing age.
     Rising from my seat, I calculated the distance to the exit.  Drawing a breath, I steeled myself for the dash to it.  Clutching my package close to me, I walked briskly.  I managed to dodge several large knots of shoppers, minus running into anything.  The exit appeared in my visual range, prompting a slight smile.
     I stopped in my tracks.  An odd sensation gripped me, the nagging feeling resurfacing.  Everything I saw and did replayed through my mind in one flash.  Turning, I spotted the Santa Claus, the little ragged girl, and the Palatini.  All three of them stood, looking intently at me.  I returned the regard, mind running for all it could. 
     The three of them wavered before my eyes, showing me nothing but a snowy landscape and a house.  My mouth shot open, as they returned to being three different beings.  The ragged little girl moved to me, holding out a small, bound book.  Mystified, I took it, looking at her.  She backed away, then all three disappeared from view.
     I turned, looking at everything going on in the shopping outlet.  Suddenly, I saw beyond the chaos of the shoppers.  I actually saw the people of all races, from all places.  My hand gripped the book tightly.  I looked down and ran a finger over the cover as I read what it was.
     A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
     I strode out of the outlet.  Just then my commphone beeped.  "Yes Torli, I am still alive."
     "Good Mr. Kaden, "Torli rasped.  "Galactic Charities is here.  Shall I send them off as usual?"
     Smiling, I said, "Not necessary.  I am on my way back to the office.  Please have them wait."
     The moment's hesitation before Torli answered provided all the answer of her thoughts on my sanity.  "Of course Mr. Kaden."
     I laughed as I rang off.  I too would question my sanity, excepting the fact of the book I held in my hand.

13 November, 2010

On the New Frontier...Memories, Flashing Just By

(For the one year anniversary of this blog, I am dedicating this whimsically serious story. I know I am bloody late, as the anniversary date was October 23rd.  For those of you who know me well, you will recognize the traveling companion in this story easily.)

     I moved as swiftly as I could to the kitchen.  She, of course found my actions too slow, yelling at me the whole way.  Kicking around the kitchen, I located some food for her, presenting it to her with a flourish.  Smiling as she chowed down, I turned to leave.  Another yell, and I sighed, turning to sit down, waiting for her to finish.  Once she did, I looked in her eyes, shaking my head.
     "You know Graycee, for such a little cat you certainly are bossy."
     Another meow, and I strode off, heading for flight control.  Sitting at the navigational controls, I quickly fired through the prelaunch routine.  In minutes, I received clearance to depart from Trillium Surface Control.  Firing through the atmosphere, I entered clear space.  Smiling sadly, I reflected about this being the last time I would blast off from a planet on my own.
     A ping from the communications relay snagged my attention.  Flipping a toggle, I brought up the incoming signal on the main screen.  Surprise flashed across my face, as the image of Director General Tamela Itiri popped up.  Smiling, I said simply, "Greetings Director General."
     Smiling warmly, Itiri said, "Greetings to you Vincent Lissan.  Before you leave the system, I wanted to convey my gratitude one last time with your assistance concerning our problem."
     I nodded in a show of respect.  "Director General, "I said, " I appreciate the sentiment.  I was quite happy to assist.  Hopefully many more years of peace will grace Trillium because of it."
     Itiri smiled broader, saying, "You will always have a home among us.  Your contributions will never be forgotten."
     My smile shaded to sadness, although I kept my tone even.  "I thank you for that Director General.  I am headed for home."
     "Fare thee well in thy travels Vincent Lissan."
     I nodded deeply, closing the communications link.  My hands remained frozen on the navigation console however.  Thoughts unbidden ran over me.  I felt my mood darken as the import of the words about going home sunk in.  The darkening mood forced words from me.
     "This is goodbye."
     Shaking myself, I forced my hands to plot the course home, to Earth.  Sadness slowed my actions, knowing this marked the end of 15 years of traveling space, solving problems and helping people and planets.  In the last three years, less and less calls for help had come to me.  The last year had decided it, the stop at Trillium being the first in eight months.
     Graycee jumped on the console to stare at me.  I jumped a little, laughing at her and myself.  I told her, "We are headed to Earth Graycee.  Cats originally come from there."
     For a response, Graycee simply sniffed at me, then jumped down.  I punched the final command to lay in the heading for Earth.   Suddenly feeling old, I held onto the nav console.  The future stretched into darkness before me.  All I had known was going away, I thought sadly.  The only thing I had done for the last 15 years, being the 'talented amateur troubleshooter' was drawing to a close.
     I forced myself to action.  Punching buttons, I set my ship's automatic functions.  Rising slowly, I moved from flight control to my quarters.  I sat at my desk, tapping the screen before me.  Logging in, I checked for new messages, hoping.  Disappointed as always, I returned to the document I was preparing.  Pecking at it slowly, I fought myself to finish the letter outlining my retirement from my self appointed task.
     The chime of an old clock interrupted my thoughts.  Looking at it, I realized just how late it actually was.  Saving the document, I stood and stretched.  I glared at the boxes in the room, pondering packing some more memories.  In the end, I jumped into my bunk, dimming the lights.  Packing could wait, as I would not arrive home for several more days.
     Sleep seemed out of my reach, as my thoughts raced.  Memories of everything I had done flashed through my head.  I felt depression grab a firm hold, and my rebellious spirit rise.  Despite that, I knew my time was finished.  In the last three years the galaxy had changed, peace and stability finally knitting into an Alliance of Planets.
     I forced my thoughts away.  Tossing and turning, I fell into a fitful sleep at some point.

     My eyes snapped open, and I jumped nearly airborne.  Staring me in the face from bare inches away, Graycee jumped with me, accelerating to light speed and disappearing.  Laughing once my pulse calmed down, I returned to laying in my bunk.  I decided to attempt to get some more sleep, with little else to do.
     Laying there, sleep escaped me yet again.  My eyes snapped open, as a sudden thought surfaced.  In three years of living on board this ship, Graycee never once approached me when sleeping.  Disturbed by this sudden display of behavior, I rotated to my feet, heading to my desk.  Opening drawers, I pulled out a scanner and an ion blaster.  Setting both, I headed out the open door, scanning as I stalked the entire ship slowly.
     Thirty minutes and two complete searches later, all I had to show for my efforts was nothing, save a cat that was angry for scaring her.  Pouring over the internal sensor logs, I frowned.  Nothing showed, prompting me to speculate about the insane twists of feline psychology.  At a loss, I turned to return to by cabin.
     The sensor alarm screamed, about a microsecond before I was tossed right out of flight control and skidded down the corridor.  The ship pitched, throwing me back into flight control.  On the way in, I screamed. "Emergency stabilization systems!"
     The computer implemented the order, causing the ship to settle enough for me to strap myself into the seat at the navigation console.  I hammered at the controls, transferring the readings to the main display.  Blinking at the magnitude of hyperspatial distortion, I dropped from hyperspace immediately.  Returning to normal space, I ran a damage control check.  Outside of my wounded pride, and one freaked out cat, no damage returned.
     I fired the detectors to maximum range, looking for something.  Waiting, the detectors returned absolutely nothing.  Hissing in frustration, I ran the scan again, at maximum intensity.  Yet again, to my deepening disappointment, the scans revealed nothing.  In 15 years of being in space, I had seen many an oddball thing.  This little incident, however, presented me a new enigma.  I knew the route well, and a quick check of flight news and conditions yielded nothing I managed to miss while busy.
     After a couple of minutes of glaring at the main display, I fired up the ion pulsers and accelerated to 80% sublight.  Skirting the general area, after 12 minutes I shifted back into hyperspace.  Resetting the automatic controls, I enabled the detectors at maximum range and intensity.  Shrugging, I followed the meowing of Graycee to the kitchen, where the contents of her food dish lay scattered.  Punching the cleaning drone, in scant moments the kitchen was clean.  I filled Graycee's water and food, then turned to her peeking from the open door.
     "Maybe you can explain that one to me little cat."
     When she simply stood there, I turned and returned to my cabin.  Tossing off the scanner and blaster, I threw myself into the bunk.  This time sleep caught me.

     I groaned without opening my eyes.  Awake, again, for no good reason, I moaned to myself.  I sighed, struggling with the decision to open my eyes.  Giving in, I allowed my eyes to open.  I felt my pulse rise, followed by my hair once I focused on what was before me.
     Staring at me was a being, about six and a half feet tall, and faintly luminescent.  Frozen in place, even this sight could not prevent me being annoyed by the fact my intruder alarm never sounded.  Smiling back at the mysterious being before me, I relaxed my posture.  I slowly rose, hoping my actions would not be deemed hostile.  Smiling my best and hoping the alien had a translator, I spoke evenly and calmly, saying, "Welcome to my ship.  I wish to assure you of my peaceful intentions."
     Sweeping my hand towards my desk, I spoke again.  "Inside one of the drawers is a translation device.  With your kind permission, I would like to retrieve it."
    Maintaining my smile, I slowly moved towards my desk.  The alien watched my movements, and I kept an eye on 'him'.  Thankfully I knew precisely where the translator resided, so I opened the center drawer and removed it.  Tapping it on, I looked at the alien and realized I faced a serious problem.  How, I pondered bleakly, could I convince 'him' to speak for my translator?
     I walked into the clear, holding the device before me.  Pointing at myself, I said, "I am Vincent Lissan, a human."
     Right before my eyes, the alien walked through the wall.  Stunned for a moment, I turned to head for the open door.  Upon reaching it, I found myself tossed to the floor.  Shaking myself from the jolt. I looked again at the doorway.  Eyes narrowing, I noted a faint glow around the opening.  Pulling myself from the floor, I cautiously pushed my hand into the field.   In seconds my arm flung back, spinning me.
     I spent the next 50 minutes trying everything I could to escape my cabin.  Not one thing I tried, from throwing objects at the barrier to blasting it, accomplished any results.  I frowned in contempt at the doorway, throwing my chair at it.  Avoiding the chair as it flew back, I forced myself to sit and think.  Apparently I needed logic or a miracle at this point.
     I rose and moved to the open door.  Searching every inch on my side, I detected no mechanism for the field on my side of the door.  Carefully looking out the door, I spotted a box on one side of the door.  I studied it a moment, trying to guess it's precise location on the wall.  Moving, I pulled off the wall access panel that I believed was directly behind the device.
     Peering into the opening, I located the clips holding the panel on the other wall.  I tapped on them, then pushed for all I was worth.  One loud clang of the panel hitting the floor, and the field surrounding my door disappeared.  Rubbing the rapidly forming lump on my head from hitting the wall, I scooped up my blaster and translator.  Peeking out the door, I determined the coast was clear.
     I edged down the corridor, scanning and listening.  A small ship held some advantages, I mused.  A quick and uneventful trip towards flight control caused me to pause before the open doorway.  From inside, I clearly saw four of these odd aliens.  I quietly moved behind a strut to observe without being spotted.  Inside flight control, three aliens milled about over my systems.  I frowned deeply, trying to ascertain their motives.
     Realizing they were attempt to figure out the controls of my ship, I slipped off.  Stalking the corridors as silently as possible, I kept a wary eye out for aliens and for Graycee.  By now, I thought glumly, she has to be scared senseless.
     Reaching the engine room sans any sightings, I peered inside.  No one, I noted in satisfaction, appeared to be home.  I advanced on the main console, hurriedly punching in commands to disable the on board surveillance system.  Punching in more commands, I activated a program that encoded all my systems unless you used the right cipher.  I smiled, hitting the execute command, as this particular gift from helping the computer driven society of Mandaris worked away.
     I crossed to a nearby computer terminal, and punched in my cipher.  In moments I saw the heading the aliens had me on.  Shaking my head, it seemed to be nothing but empty space.  I halted mid shrug, as realization appeared.  They had my ship headed back towards the point of disturbance from earlier.
     Absolutely, positively, fantastically lovely, I thought sourly.
     A meow intruded upon my thoughts.  Standing on top of the console I worked on, Graycee looked at me in something approaching wide eyed terror.  I smiled at her, happy to see she was okay.  Smiling, I turned, plotting my next move.
     That is when I realized her meow wasn't for attention.  I smiled sheepishly at the two aliens I faced.  Graycee hissed, bolting down an access chute.  Maintaining my smile I looked at both aliens, vainly trying to decipher their thoughts.  I spread my hands in what I hoped constituted a non threatening gesture, saying, "Hello again.  I was hoping we could chat.  Perhaps you could explain your interest in myself and my ship?"
     Nary a reaction nor sound did either alien make.  I kept my hands spread out, trying to think of some way of communicating.  Before all my thoughts ran off the cliff, the aliens acted.  One of them walked through a wall, exiting to the corridor.  The other one raised a hand, prompting me to raise my hands in the universal gesture of surrender.  'He' stepped aside, and I marched back to my cabin under escort.  Once inside, I grabbed my scanner, flicking it on just as the alien walked out through the wall.  Glaring in total disbelief at yet another display of this trick, I also spotted the glow from my open doorway.
     I looked at the readings recorded by my scanner.  Blinking hard, I reread them three more times.  Nothing I ever encountered matched the insanity of what the readings told me.  Sitting at my desk terminal, I fed the information into my database, asking for a search of anything remotely similar.  Minutes passed, which I fidgeted through, before the computer displayed me an answer.
     The computer appeared as baffled as I in this instance.  Points of the data vaguely matched some vague theories on other dimensions, and such high science I could not fathom.  Beyond that, no mention of anything else.  Huffing, I leaned back, letting my thoughts wander about.  After a fruitless thought session, I decided to change course.
     Logging in, I received a nasty surprise.  The aliens had managed to lock out the navigational controls, as well as the communications system.  My system locking prevented another course change, but this provided scant comfort to me.  Traveling at transluminal speed, I saw we would reach the area of the disturbance in about seven minutes.
     Depression and weariness caught up to me just then.  I slumped over, feeling all my energy just flow away.  I just wanted to go home, not be shanghaied by a group of out of this universe aliens for some unfathomable purpose.  I simply could not believe this, letting my frustration boil over and slamming my fist into the desk.
     Looking up, I spotted Graycee in the doorway.  She sniffed at the barrier, then proceeded to come towards it.  Frozen to the spot, I couldn't even yell.  My fear gripped me that she might be hurt by the barrier throwing her.
     When Graycee walked through unharmed, I about fainted.  She jumped on the chair beside me to complain.  Staring at her, my mind took off running.  In a moment I managed to grab her.  Now yelling at me, I moved to the doorway.  Sucking in a deep breath, and fighting a struggling cat, I strode through the doorway.
     My surprise at this accomplishment nearly allowed Graycee to escape.  Petting her, I said, "Oh no little cat, you and I have a job to do.  You can yell at me later."
     A growl issued forth from her.  I sighed, heading for the flight deck.  Along the way I attempted to ponder a reason why Graycee, a Terran feline, could disrupt the barrier setup by these aliens.  When each passing thought turned more bizarre than the preceding thought, I stopped.  Perhaps, I thought in amazement, I can write a paper on this insanity.
     Slowing, I peered carefully into flight control.  Seeing it empty, I walked right in.  As I did, one of the aliens walked in behind me.  Graycee meowed her loudest, as panic firmly set in.  Stock still, I waited for the alien to do something since I had managed another escape.
     The alien ignored my presence, and the meowing of one annoyed cat.  Bafflement galore raced through my mind, as I watched the alien manipulate a device connected to my main access interface.  Mind racing, the alien moved out of the room.
     Managing to hang onto Graycee, I ripped the device off the access interface.  Throwing it on the floor, I kicked it straight into the nearest bulkhead.  Sparks issued from it to my extreme satisfaction.  I hurriedly entered my control system and shut down the engines.  As the ship lurched to a halt, four aliens raced into the room.  They hurriedly began doing all manner of things,  allowing me enough time to flick on my translator.  My hope they would make a sound, say anything.  My patience giving way after more silence, I let go of Graycee.  She stalked away from me.
     The aliens noticed me appearing suddenly.  I smiled, speaking slowly.  "For your peace of mind, the malfunction would have been caused by me ripping the device from the console."
     The aliens stared at me in something resembling shock.  Well, I thought, I guess it is shock.  Not a one, however, said a word.  Fighting to keep my face and tone neutral, I said, "With intelligence obviously as good as yours, you should be able to recognize speech and a translation unit.."
     Frustration crept up through my brain.  So far, the quartet of them had not moved, talked, anything.  I snapped my eyes closed for a moment, fighting off the feeling of a headache forming.  Upon opening, I drew a breath to say something probably not considered entirely diplomatic.
     At that moment, one of the four turned and pointed at my main viewer.  Pointing, the viewer sprang to life, showing me a chart of the immediate area.  Nodding, a pointer appeared, showing the area of distortion, then one showing my ship's position.  Nodding, as they appeared to understand and acknowledge that, a new pointer appeared.
     Figuring they would not answer me, I addressed them anyway.  "Okay gang, I understand what two of the pointers represent.  I am at a loss about the last one however."
     The four of them shared an unfathomable look at each other.  One of them moved to a device attached to my communications system.  Touching the device, the main viewer cleared.  Strange characters flashed across the screen, then settled into standard.  Fascinated now, I watched as the letters moved to form words.  Finally this message appeared to me:
     We understand your words but can not communicate to you.  The third pointer you are seeing is our ship.  It is trapped in transit.
     I mulled over this statement.  Thinking, I voiced a thought aloud.  "Why did you not simply ask for my assistance?"
     I watched again as words formed on the screen.  In moments, I had a vaguely baffling answer.
     We are unfamiliar with your form of Life, as well as your mental patterns and communication ability.
     Puzzled by this, I let the statement be.  Stretching, I addressed the aliens.  "Allow me to assume navigational control.  I will direct us towards your ship."
     Waiting, no response seemed forthcoming.  I held back a smile, realizing they did not know they need to respond to that.  Moving, I slid into the navigational console's chair.  Nullifying my overrides, I powered up the hyperatomic drive and got the ship moving.  Checking, I noted we would arrive in about four minutes.
     Turning, I said, "We shall arrive in approximately four minutes.  Do you have names?"
     We are the Houlisa.  You are of the Terran race, yet have a name separate.  Your assistance in our matter receives much appreciation.
     A smile escaped me at this statement.  I punched the detectors to maximum scan, transferring the readings to my console.  I checked the readings, dropping to sublight velocity about about 800,000 miles out.  The Houlisa moved about my flight control, making several modifications to my detectors.  Once complete, I could see a massive ship, flickering in a decidedly phantom type way.
     I stopped about 7,500 miles out.  pouring over the readings, I could not easily make sense of them.  Addressing the Houlisa, I said, "Alright, how can I be of assistance?"
     The answer startled me, as my ship began moving.  The assembled Houlisa simply watched in silence.  On the main viewer I watched a set of doors open, my ship heading inside.  In mere moments my ship entered a large hanger bay.  Settling onto what appeared to be a landing slip, I felt the ship power down.  A frown appeared on my face, prompting me to turn to the Houlisa.  The surprise on my face to find they had disappeared probably approached epic proportions.
     Noting a walkway leading from my main airlock to the inside of the ship, I grabbed the translator and headed off my ship.  Entering the Houlisa vessel, I felt dizzy suddenly.  Staggering against a wall, I fought to regain control of my raging senses.  I closed my eyes, senses threatening to make me violently ill.  After a moment, I settled enough to open one eye.
     Looking down the corridor, I realized that it was swimming.  Shaking my head and closing my eye, I looked again.  Definitely swimming, I thought as yet another shudder of nausea ran through me.  I turned myself, and slowly negotiated my way back to my ship.  Once inside, I recovered enough to go hunting through a storage locker.  In minutes I located a visual filter.  Quickly shoveling the scattered contents of the locker inside and slamming the door, I set out again.
     Several misfires later, I managed to tune the filter enough to allow me to see without wanting to empty my stomach.  Walking slowly down the corridor before me, I searched for a door.  The corridor kept going, no sign of a door to be found.  I found myself beginning to feel a sense of alarm, as I also found I had lost all conception of time.
     Maybe, I thought sourly, my alien friends had no need for doors.  With their penchant for walking through walls, I deemed this a likely probability.  Stopping, I pondered turning back.  Shaking my head, I decided to continue.  Perhaps, I thought in mild amusement, a leprechaun might appear with a pot of gold or something.
     Laughing, a door finally appeared to me.  As hoped for, it opened for me as I approached it.  Stepping inside, my eyes widened at the size of the room.  Looking about me at alien machinery, the dim realization of being way out of my depth reared its head.  Not the best with my own brand of technology, to me it appeared I entered a child's nursery.
     I moved slowly about the room, attempting to find a point of familiarity.  Searching, finally i spotted something vaguely familiar to me.  Using my translator, I ascertained it was a main engine console.  Some of the controls translated to me, including the rather troubling reading showing 124% output of the main drive.  I frowned at this, as the ship was stationary.  I recorded everything on the console, determined to try translating this on my ship.
     Turning to go, I paused in mid stride.  To this point, my thoughts catching me, I had seen nary a sign of my hosts.  One self conscious look about me produced no sign of any being.  Feeling a bit like being on a ship of ghosts, I retraced my steps and arrived at my ship.  Once inside, I dropped down in front of the terminal on my engineering deck.
     Feeding the readings through the translation program, I also punched up everything I had in the engineering database.  I tapped my fingers impatiently, waiting for something to give me an answer.  As I did, Graycee appeared in my vision range.  Looking at her, I noticed something approaching wide eyed terror.  Speaking to her to reassure her, and quite possibly myself, I said, "No need to worry Graycee, we are simply inside another vessel.  Strange as the aliens are, they require assistance."
     Her response of jumping on the console and sniffing and starring at me notched vaguely familiar to me.  Puzzled, I looked at her, trying to decipher the age old question of feline logic.  I found myself engaged in this preoccupation as I sailed across the engineering deck.  Slamming into a bulkhead, I crawled across the heaving deck to the main console.  I yelled at the computer, "Status report!"
     The computer spoke in a maddeningly calm contrast to the heaving I felt.  "Gravitational disturbance level 15.  All stabilization systems at tolerance.  Main power fluctuation to 23% level."
     Hanging on for everything I was worth, I yelled out to the computer, "Priority command Tango-Foxtrot-Sierra!  Locate source of disturbance and pinpoint on location map."
     The heaving subsided enough for me to haul myself into the chair at the main console.  Holding on to the console with one hand, I punched up the map display.  A shudder ran through my ship, forcing me to hang on with both hands.  I thanked all the stars for the gift installed in my ship's gravitational system from the engineers on Galatin.  Without it running right now, I realised I would not be in this chair.
     My eyes nearly shot out of my head as I looked at the map display.  The map displayed my position on the map, along with the origin point of the disturbance.  Blinking, I punched in commands to magnify, the computer responding minus hesitation.  Sure enough, the points were sitting right on top of each other.
      Another shudder rocked the ship, as I punched in commands to get readings.  I whistled once I saw said readings.  In defiance of logic, the readings showed the source of the disturbance as the ship I was sitting in.  Holding on, I double checked and the same readings returned again.  I punched buttons for the voice link, saying, "Computer analysis of phenomenon, cross referencing with information in database.  Relay findings via vocal output."
     "Computer analysis running.  Cross linking databases."
     Jumping up, I dashed across the room to the main drive console.  I quickly powered them to full capacity, using the energy to keep the ship as stable as possible.  A reading caught my eye, causing a rare burst of fear to sweep through me.
     Guessing, I had about all of ten minutes before the hyperatomic motors imploded from fusion decay.
     Pushing aside the sour thoughts, I dashed down to my storage hold.  Digging through the collected mess, I wasted three minutes searching for a device from the people of Altair Sigmas.  I located it, and raced about the ship.  A two minute search netted me an emergency space rescue pack and Graycee.  Fighting her all the way back to the engineering deck, I entered and sealed the control area.  Graycee ran under the enviromental console, looking for the worlds terrified beyond any version of reason.
     Knowing I had her in a defined area, I dropped the pack and the device.  Hammering away at the main drive controls, I attempted to do something, anything to stop my ship from exploding.  I fought tears, as I had come to help, not kill and destroy.
     Nothing I attempted produced any effect.  The seconds ticked away, each one bringing destruction closer.  The implosion decay alarm rang, as my face fell.  I tried opening a communications channel to warn the aliens, but static roared at me.  A sense of failure washing over me, I grabbed the device from Altair Sigmas and walked to were Graycee watched me.  Kneeling before her, I stretched out a hand and pet her, my free hand keying the device active.
     "Computer analysis complete."
     Graycee and I both jumped at the same time.  Laughing sadly, I yelled, "Vocal readout!"
     "Gravitational disturbance type unknown.  Distortion disturbance is variable, dimensional distortion approaching danger level.  Indicators register minus .9713 on dimensional gradients..."
     I stopped listening just then.  Intently looking at Graycee the cat, I saw something reflected in her eyes.  Getting on the deck, I nearly touched noses with her.  Sure enough, an image glinted off her eyes, one I was not seeing.  In point of fact, images that were moving backwards.
     Pushing off the deck, I attempted to figure out this strange occurrence, as I paused from pressing a button on my gift from the Altair Sigmasans that would remove Graycee and I from this impending disaster.  Dimensional gradients and distortion plus a negative reading...
     Negative dimensional reading!
     Somehow, this ship I currently sat in was existing in another dimension.  For some even more insane reason, the dimension was running backwards from mine.  And, my mind thought furiously, for the trifecta, I have 93 seconds to do something.
     I rounded on the main engineering console, attacking every switch, button, relay and who knows what else.  I invented new a combination of commands in waves, not a one having any effect.  The rumbling from my hyperatomic engine grew ominous, joining the screaming alarms.  Graycee managed to meow at maximum volume over the noise, running and jumping in the confined space I held us in.
     The thought raced through me, a memory attached.  I hurriedly tapped into my communications systems, shouting, "Attention!  Hyperspacial pulse jump commencing in ten seconds.  Order imperative, jump in 8 seconds!"
     I counted in my head, remembering a trick taught to me by the Novan Space Stunt Group.  A precise hyperspacial pulse jump my two vessels would unlock most anything.  I had seen it from them after I helped unravel a case of sabotage.  Hopefully, this would work.  Hopefully, the aliens understood what I meant to go with it.
     Closing my eyes, I pressed the enter command.  Feeling quite weird suddenly, all sounds around me dropped out.  I decided not to open my eyes, not quite ready to face what I may have done.  Afterall, I reasoned, I could be quite dead.
     "Vincent Lissan, we thank you."
     I opened my eyes slowly.  Floating before me, several radiating balls of light appeared.  Disbelief crossed my face, as I asked, "Where precisely am I?  And who are you since you have the advantage of me."
     "We are the Houlisa.  This is our natural form, from the place we come.  As for where, you are on the bridge between our realities.  You will return to yours in a moment.  We wished to thank you for getting us home."
     I nodded and smiled.  "Helping others is what I do.  I am glad I could help one more time in this life."
     One of the balls moved close to me.  Looking intently, I realized a ghostly image played across its surface.  I watched tears welling up in my eyes.  After a moment I smiled, nodding my understanding of what I saw.  The ball moved back, the voice echoing to me, saying, "A gift of our appreciation.  We will remember always Vincent."
     I waved, as my ship faded into view.  Reality returned with the yelling of one cat.  I leaned down to her, petting her.  Smiling at her, I said, "I owe you my thanks Graycee for the idea.  So, "I turned off the barrier around us, "I think a treat is in order for us both."
     As I led the way to the kitchen, I called out to my computer system.  "Engage automatic systems.  Abort previous course.  Plot and execute course to Proxima Dockyards, standard by three."
     Looking at the impatient Graycee, I smiled broadly.  It would be, I thought as I rummaged about the kitchen for something for her, necessary to have the ship checked over.
     Someone, somewhere always needed assistance...one may never know when they would require it.

05 October, 2010

On the New Frontier...Who Said This Would Be Easy?

     Smiling into the twin sunset of Talia, I breathed in the warm air.  For all the time I spent managing Temporal Troubleshooters Ltd., occasionally I got to head into the field.  Today's assignment:  Ensure an election and wedding go off without a hitch.  Smiling broader, I reflected on the joy of this simple assignment.
     Beeping from the temporal locator disturbed my thoughts.  Frowning, I flicked it open, pouring over the readings.  My frowned deepened, as I noted a temporal transport signature.  Noting the unregistered temporal signature, I moved to my rented air cruiser.  Once in, I headed for the co-ordinates on my locator hurriedly.
     In minutes I reached a deserted building.  Jumping from the air cruiser, I dialed my forcefield to maximum.  Cautiously pushing open a door, I pulled my scanner, searching for life forms.  Negative readings displayed, prompting me to slowly head inside.  Resetting the scanner, I searched for temporal signs or equipment.
     Pinging from the scanner lead me to the rear of the building.  I stopped, the scanner showing me no equipment, but a strong temporal displacement.  Edging the door open, my eyes confirmed no one was home.  Entering, I stared about the room.  A sigh escaping me, I realized staring would accomplish nothing.  Walking out and back to the cruiser, I thought.
     Sound intruded on my wild musings.  Listening carefully, I realized the local version of the police decided to show up.  Growling lowly, I deduced a carefully laid trap, one which I fell straight into.  Knowing I had but seconds, I flicked the temporal locator open.  I hammered the controls, holding in a breath as I hit the emergency relocation function.  To the instant I and the air cruiser disappeared, avoiding some rather odd questions.
     Reappearing at the (thankfully empty) overlook, I thought anew.  My thoughts ran the entire gauntlet of speculation.  Only one thing seemed certain in my troubled mind as it hoped on a race car:  Friendly people did not leave traps.  I huffed at that particular thought, pondering how to rate the offense according to Universal Etiquette.
     Shaking my head, I forced my brain to ponder more serious matters.  Obviously, whomever decided to visit this time on Talia held little good will.  Also as obvious, I noted in contempt, was the simple fact 'they' scanned for another temporal signature upon arrival.  Glaring, I attempted to find a thread of logic in the little information I possessed.
     Appearing in the distance of my mind, a thought raced forward.  Freezing in place, realization struck home.  My mystery counterpart knew of my presence, and more importantly enough to lay a trap.  Skin crawling, I pulled out the scanner, setting it to scan for anything.  Watching the readings, I sighed in relief as they returned negative.  Laughing at my paranoia, I returned to thinking.
     A rustle startled me, causing me to jump.  Acting first, I flicked my forceshield to maximum.  A fortunate thing, as energy bolts streamed at me, throwing me to the ground.  Pushing myself up as the energy beams searched me out, I bolted for the air cruiser.  My half baked notion of running away died a miserable death as three beams nailed the cruiser.  Pulling my locator, I did the only thing I could, and jumped out of the area.
     Using the locator, I bounced all over the capital city.  On the last jump I set the locator to go on it's own and disappear.  Concern washed over me, as without it, I was at something of a disadvantage.  Growling, I commenced the walk of a half mile to my hotel.  Letting my thoughts roam, I pondered briefly how the rental agency might react about their air cruiser.
     A thought raged through my mind.  Stopping roughly a block from my hotel, I looked about.  Walking across the street calmly, I disguised a scan of the area in a casual stroll.  Upon passing the hotel, I sighed in relief.  My unknown 'friend' appeared not to have set me yet another trap.  Entering the hotel, I marched to my room.
     Throwing myself onto the bed, I glared at the ceiling.  When the ceiling refused to provide answers, I closed my eyes.   One overriding thought chased me to a restless sleep:
     Why where they here?

     Hitting the floor, I awoke with a thud.  Pushing myself up slowly and wincing, I checked the time.  I groaned, realising how early it was.  Knowing sleep would elude me now, I hauled myself to the hotel bathroom.  One hour and three yelps later, I exited the hotel.  The twin sun appeared in the western sky, chasing the mist away as I strolled down the street.
     In minutes, I arrived at the election counting center.  Flashing my credentials, I gained admittance.  I smiled as I entered, seeing Talians and computers checking election results and tallies.  I marveled as I always have at the general distrust, even in a modern era, of people for machines counting election results.  I strolled around, chatting with various workers, playing the guise of Talian Elections Control Inspector to the fullest.
     Using my standard scanner, I kept a wary out for anyone else being 'involved' in the process.  To my utmost delight, nothing registered out of the ordinary.  After about an hour or so, the final, official, tally received confirmation.  I congratulated the assembled staff of the Election Control Bureau.  I waved aside the honor of announcing the results, saying simply, "This was a team effort.  Let the efficiency speak for the whole Bureau."
     After sharing in the celebration for a bit, I departed.  Hailing a local taxi, I jumped in to head for the second destination.  In short enough order, I arrived at a massive wedding chapel.  Paying the fare, I checked the time.  The ceremony would not commence for about two hours, giving me time to ponder yesterday's little mystery.
     Walking slowly down the street, I pondered, appearing to be casually sightseeing.  Guessing, I decided my unknown friend would appear at this wedding.  I shrugged to myself, as this seemed the only logic about it.  Well, I thought sourly, the only apparent logic about it.  At that, my thoughts managed another gallop.
    Bumping into a random person, I smiled apologetically at the rude glare I received.  I nodded and moved off, once again amused by my ability to get lost thinking.  Shaking my head, I returned to my random thoughts.  Finding no direction, and realising I strolled a bit far, I spun about.  Disenchantment echoed on my footsteps.
      Returning to the wedding chapel, I entered and milled about the crowd waiting to be seated.  As I did, I grabbed my second false ID and pinned a Talian Order of the FireStorm to my lapel.  Smiling, I registered with the official on duty, just as the hall opened to allow people to be seated.  Following the usher, I sat on the groom side.  I watched, looking to spot anything out of the ordinary.  My unknown friend, I thought in expectation, has to appear.
     In short enough order, the ceremony commenced.  Continuing a good streak for the day, nothing seemed amiss.  The ceremony lasted a good 90 minutes, with the reception following immediately after.  I smiled, moving and chatting amongst the crowd.  I fought a frown however, during my mingling.  Disturbing, I mused sourly, to be forced to wonder constantly about the moves of the unknown.
     Following the wedding party, the guests watched the happy couple board an interstellar cruise ship.  Waving them off, I smiled, my dark thoughts chased away.  From this point, nothing would happen to this particular and important couple.  In fact, I mused in enjoyment of silly facts, they would inspire much peace in this local region.
     Walking back towards my hotel, I allowed myself to relax.  My thoughts throwing about aimlessly, I managed to trip about three times.  Despite my worry about the appearance of another time traveler, everything seemed surprisingly good.  I shrugged, rounding the corner to see my hotel.  I entered, making my way to my room.
     Checking the time, I decided to pack.  I kicked on the local news for some noise, grabbing everything and stuffing it in my case.  As I did, a sudden news alert intruded on my work.
     "-ing live from the Minister's residence.  Approximately 15 minutes ago, Outgoing Prime Minster Ataei Okuni's body was thrown from the roof of the residence.  New elected Prime Minister Tasi Hocli was supposed to be meeting with Prime Minister Okuni.  No word fr-"
     Snapping off the holoviewer set, I liberally scattered the contents of my pack across the room.  Grabbing everything device I packed away, I dashed out the door.  Pounding out of the hotel, I hailed a taxi.  I informed the driver to take me to an extremely specific address.  Arriving quick enough, I hoped out and skidded right through the door to the deserted building the other temporal signature originated from. 
     Using my scanner, I once again noted I was alone.  Making adjustments, I used a more intense scan to search the building.  To my delight, the scanner detected a cleverly shielded temporal transport mechanism.  Locating the offending machine, my delight vanished.  The scanner translated the language, but I twas not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination.
     Running through the controls on the device, I panicked.  I knew only moments remained before the owner returned.  I hammered away at the control panel, guessing for everything.  Hoping I had not managed to enter a self destruct sequence of some kind, I ducked behind the machine and a wall.  Taking a chance, I shut down everything on me, hoping the equipment would hide my physical prescience.
     I fidgeted continuously, waiting.  I attempted everything possible, inventing new things on the scene, just to keep from going batty.  Patience, I reflected sadly, a virtue for some.
     Suddenly, a faint noise intruded on my madness.  Holding my breath, I remained stock still.  No other sound followed, prompting me to exhale.  A deserted building probably resounded with all manner of sounds, I thought glumly.
     Just as restlessness reared its ugly head, sound once again resounded.  No mistaking it, footsteps approached.  A heart stopping pause, and the door to the room slowly pushed open.  My heart sank, noting not one, but two unknown individuals entering.  I barely repressed a groan, before noting something about one of them.
     Realization cracked me clean across the face.  Despite his haggard and seeming drug induced appearance, I realised my unknown 'friend' had abducted the newly elected Talian Prime Minister, Tasi Hocli.  Following that thought, I realized why the out going prime Minister received such an inglorious death.
     A double of the new Prime Minister, inserted into a brutal situation, to destabilize an entire world, if not more.
     In seconds, I knew the other chap would see his controls had been tampered with.  Yanking out a small writing device, I tossed it into the farthest corner of the room.  The noise cause my 'friend' to turn, allowing me to sneak out of my hiding spot.  Moving as silently as I could, I grabbed Hocli, my destination the open door.
     The whine of an energy weapon stopped me cold.  I really, I thought in pure contempt, need to work on better plans.  Mind cycling, a rough voice filtered through me, speaking gibberish.  For a moment, I frowned, then remembered; my language translator was off.
     Turning slowly, I kept Hocli between me and my companion of the moment.  Making a face I prayed communicated confusion, I spoke, "Terribly sorry my friend, but I am afraid you sound like an electronic kazoo."
     Keeping his weapon squarely on me, the being commenced fiddling with a device on his belt.  A beep from my watch caused me to smile slowly. Spreading my hands, the alien before rattled some more unintelligible speech at me.  Smiling broadly, the temporal locator rematerialized in my left hands.  I nodded to the apparent look of bewilderment, saying evenly, "Violating Article 42 of the Intergalactic Temporal Accord carries some severe sanctions.  Would you kindly refer me to your temporal location of origin?"
     I flinched at the outpouring of speech the alien spat at me.  Unsure about how my words translated, I noted the alien advancing on me.  The move inspired little confidence in me, causing me to shove Hocli out the open door and dive after him, energy bolts sizzling the air.  I scrambled to my feet, grabbing a mess of metal.  Skidding it across the floor, I staggered to my feet as the alien crashed to the floor.  Dragging the dazed and drugged Hocli, I rounded a wall.  Grabbing a firm hold of Hocli, I stood, tapping commands into my temporal locator.
     When the alien skidded around the corner, I merely laughed.  My display struck a pause from him, forcing a louder laugh from me.  Pressing the transport control, I said sarcastically, "Terribly sorry old man, but I must dash."  Temporal transport took hold, whisking both Hocli and I from that astonished face.
     Arriving on the grounds of the Prime Minister's residence, I noted no one near us.  Huffing a sigh of relief, I located a simple message pad in my pocket.  One quick note to the authorities about cellular scans, cybernetic impostors and rogue alien plots, I pointed Hocli to the door of the residence.  Watching him walk towards the sentry, I felt a snigger of regret.  I could only imagine, I thought wistfully, the absolute surprise the real Hocli's sudden arrival would cause.
     Punching the sequence to bring me home, my thoughts rambled.  All kinds of questions haunted me, paddling alongside the intense speculation.  One question fought to the surface amongst the tide.
     Who exactly said this would be easy?
     Punching the control, I disappeared, wondering who in the office won the betting pool on the difficulty I would face for this assignment.

20 August, 2010

On the New Frontier...How Exactly Do I Get Out of Here?

     I paused my wandering long enough to lean against a wall.  I decided three things as I closed my eyes to think.  Firstly, 30 minutes of maze was more than enough to cause hallucinations.  Secondly, my arrival here provided plenty of bafflement.  Thirdly, Ben's Breakfast Brunch was truly a bad idea.  I pondered a fourth, but refrained from it.  No more thoughts, I reflected sourly, concerning food.
     Ignoring the growling in my stomach, I returned to the matter at hand.  I let my hand feel the wall I found myself against.  Mulling over this in my mind only prompted a louder growl from my stomach.  I stretched, letting my hand feel the wall above my head.  Detecting nothing but ferrocrete, I pushed off the wall.
     I surveyed the area in complete dismay.  Refraining from attempting to scan, I turned in place.  Not a damn thing, I mused darkly, makes a bit of sense.  Kicking the wall, I fumed for a minute.
     Turning, I faced the three paths before me.  Hating choices, I opted for cheesy.  I advanced on the middle of the three.  Something stopped me though, right before I headed down the path chosen.  A nagging thought reared its head, dashing all in its path.  Frowning, realization drove home something about not having any choices before now.
     Stepping back, my frown deepened.  Prior to this point I faced the usual maze fare; dead ends, long looping corridors, back tracks, and the like.  Venting frustration, I yelled, "There better bloody well be a seriously good prize at the end of this!"  Silence answered me, providing a pause to think.
     Fishing in my pockets, I located my standard issue scanner.  I pressed the release catches on it, removing the outer cover.  Placing the internals by my feet, I threw a piece of the case across the floor.  Just as it slowed down, electricity snapped.  Watching grimly as the thing smoked, I turned for the next guess.  Stepping right, I tossed another piece down this pathway.
     I exhaled loudly, as nothing happened.  Scooping up the remains of the scanner I strode down the corridor.  Looking about, nothing save ferrocrete gazed back at me.  I amused myself by attempting to figure out what next I might run into.  Hopefully, I mused darkly, no falling boulders awaited.
     After five minutes, I reached a T junction.  Kneeling, I studied the liquid before me.  Dipping the remaining piece of the case in, I counted to ten.  Yanking it out, I studied it intently.  No damage or discoloration appeared on it.  Acting on a whim, I yanked out a strand of hair.  Touching it to the liquid, I noted in dismay that it melted away.
     Dropping the rest, I rose to glare at the mess before me.  Looking left, then right, I frowned yet again.  I looked over the walls near me.  Not a sign of anyway to get past this little poser presented itself.  Swallowing my pride, I prepared myself to double back.  Perhaps, I thought angrily, the way back lies under a cloud of rainbows.
     A thought arose from the crowd, throwing a note at me.  Spinning, I examined the wall nearest me once more.  Pressing my fingers to it, I pushed.  My hand remained on the wall, causing me to reach for the scanner.  Placing it at my feet, I slowly edged it to the wall.  It slid into the wall, making a smile surface.
      Landing with a thud, I winced as I pushed myself off the floor.  I groaned, glaring at more featureless walls.  Looking about me, I shook my head.  Someone, I decided, really enjoyed games.  I snarled, yelling, "Okay, we have indeed reached absurd!"
     Casting about, I carefully searched every wall in view. After my intensive search ended, I stood still.  Closing my eyes, I pondered the choices before me.  When steam poured from my ears, I snapped my eyes open.  Glaring at the five exits before me, I tried applying statistical logic.  Using every form of math known to me, I calculated.
     A devious grin spread slowly across my face.  Casting statistics aside, I looked anew at the five corridors before me.  I walked over every entrance, searching with my eyes this time.  Reaching the fifth, I paused.  Kneeling, I lightly ran my hand over the floor.  Sure enough, the barest of roughness confirmed what I saw.  Feeling the ridge, I discovered it ran across the floor and up both walls.
     Puzzled, I returned to the remaining entrances and double checked.  Only the fifth one, I noted, seemed to possess that single difference.  Faster and faster thoughts flashed by and through my head, none leaving a note of passing.  Dropping down again before the fifth passageway, I touched the floor again.  I glared at it, trying to decipher why the difference.  Drawing a breath, I rose and moved down the passage.
     Once the shock of making a right guess wore off, I slowed my pace.  Letting my eyes observe every detail, I meandered my way down the corridor,  Concentrating on everything else, I soon realized I had no conception of how long I walked this path.  Frown resurfacing, I halted in place.  Rest seemed in order, I thought, as I sat on the floor.
     Time seemingly halted as I thought.  Tapping the floor in random rhythm, my thoughts raced into another place.  Roaring loudly, the noise of my empty stomach startled me.  My finger twitched out of the beat of whatever tune happened to be cycling through.  Laughter flowed, making up for my jumpiness.  A sound hardly registered over my laughter, forcing a sudden stop.
     Rising, I circled the immediate in every particular.  Hissing in frustration, I focused my ire on the spot I formerly sat in.  Bending down, I tapped on the ferrocrete, then smacked my hand off it.  Wincing slightly from hitting the floor a bit hard, I tapped again.  I stopped, pondering.  In a moment, I remembered the sequence and tapped it out.  Smiling, a click resounded from the wall on my left.
     Advancing, I tapped out the sequence over and over on the wall.  Disappointment creased my face, as no further clicks issued forth.  Letting pure thought roll, I randomly tapped and hammered at the wall.  Panting after five minutes of this, I paused to stretch.  Thoughts roared by, moving in a drifting, melodic pattern.  Slapping my forehead, the answer appeared. 
     A tune!
     Next question:  What tune?
     Growling, my stomach echoed my massive dilemma.  Frown appearing once more, I suddenly wondered. Pulling the temporal locator, I commenced fiddling with the settings.  Cheating, I smiled in memory, was not always a terrible thing.  Pressing a control, the temporal locator scanned and pulsed.  Holding a breath, clicks sounded.  In scants seconds, the wall slid aside, showing a room within.
      Grinning, I strode inside.  Thanking unseen forces, I noted the hidden door remained open.  Checking, I detected no other beings present.  I marched straight towards the biggest console.  Groaning, the symbols on the controls mocked me.  Cursing, I halfheartedly searched for a manual.  Perhaps, I thought sullenly, it contained a translation.
     Slamming my hand down, I turned on the rest of the consoles.  No assistance issued from that quarter, causing me to glare once more at the main console.  Shaking my head, I attempted to sound out the symbols.  Hopefully, I wished, something would leap out at me.
     From the corner of my eye, a doorway popped open.  Realizing I had zero hope of hiding, I turned to face the pair of beings just entering the room.  Affecting my cheeriest disposition, I said, "Why hello.  Pardon, could you explain the meaning of this button?"  Moving to one side, I watched their expressions upon seeing my finger poised over a large and green button.
     Alien they might be, I observed with a measure of satisfaction, the absolute horror of the situation conveyed to their faces.  Smiling widely, I commented absently, "Galactic Convention states clearly the penalty involving unauthorized transport of sentient beings.  Do you have a license?"  I concluded wickedly, seeing one of the pair attempt to edge over towards me.
     Yawning dramatically, I pressed the button.  One alien jumped for the console, causing me to spin out of the way.  Pressing the home button on my locator, I continued smiling.  Both aliens raced about the equipment, punching frantically and calling out things.  As one, they turned to face me.  At that particular moment, I realized the recall had not whisked me home.
     Each alien produced a wand-like device.  Swallowing hard, I slowly backed up, mind going for everything possible.  Bumping into a solid object behind me, I read the menace in the aliens before me.  Wondering for all the worlds exactly what those wands would do, I remained still.  I had, I thought bleakly, no avenue of escape. 
     Suddenly both halted their advance.  Puzzled, I wonder at this turn in events.  Huffing in relief, I walked forward and relieved them of their weapons.  Unable to resist a grin, I spun about.  Bouncing off something, I landed on my back.  Wincing, I stared in disbelief at the cause of my sudden position.
     Five members of Galactic Convention Enforcement stood, covering the aliens.  Turning my locator over, I laughed sharply.  Instead of pressing the home/recall button, I choose the emergency signal.  Laughing again, I looked up at the officer in front of me.  Flashing my credentials, I chuckled, asking, "You wouldn't happen to know the way out of here would you?

05 August, 2010

On the New Frontier...Where is the Off Switch?

     Breathing deeply, I smiled in the warmth of a summer day.  Arising early for a change, I marched outside sans coffee.  No sign of rain, and only some passing clouds greeted my eyes.  I walked over and looked over my small garden.  Noting some work needed done there, I advanced it to the top of my list for the day.
     Rattling about my storage shed, after a few shin banging episodes I located all the tools of the trade.  I laughed as I carried a variety of hand tools.  Any of my colleagues seeing this would undoubtedly question my lack of using technological means to garden, plus sanity.  Laughing at the notion, I set everything down.  Besides, I mused to myself, a break from things that beep and boing always provided a chance to rest the mind.
     Grabbing a garden hoe, I set myself to work on removing weeds.  The sun warmed everything nicely, bringing a huge smile from me.  The weeds, conversely, made me frown as removing them was requiring more effort than I hoped for.  Pausing, I looked over the half of the garden I fought through.  Smiling, I noted I had managed to uncover a few onions.  Looking them over, I reached down, picking a couple.  Placing them to a clear spot, I resumed attacking weeds.
     Buzzing assaulted my ears, renewing my frown.  Hating flying insects that sting with all I am worth, I looked to see if one was in close proximity.  A quick search revealed nothing near me.  Perhaps, I thought with a smile, my usual intense hostility to such creatures scared it away.  I chuckled at this thought, checking the tomato plants near me.
     Renewed buzzing displeased me.  Slowly turning, I hoped that the contemptible insect would leave.  As a precaution, I removed my hat for the purpose of persuasion.  Being prepared never hurt, well never hurt much.
     Surprise caught me and slapped me upside the head.  No bee hovered behind me.  In its place an android of some form was just finishing it materialization.  Puzzled, I asked of it, "What may I assist you with on this lovely day?"
     "Target confirmed."
     Leaping as a blast of energy burned past me, I landed.  Wondering for everything who I annoyed for this, I shouted my frustration, "Didn't they program you the memo:  Today is a holiday!"
     A patch of weeds burned to a crisp as I managed to leap and roll out of the garden.  Landing, the android advanced tracking my movements.  Scrambling and cursing, I tripped over the hose.  Landing in a tangle, I discovered the blasted thing twisted around my feet.  Acting on impulse, I grabbed the sprayer end and drenched the android.
     One muffled boom later, the android lay smoking.  Breaking my disbelieving glare, I unwrapped the hose from my feet.  Smiling childishly, I grabbed a stick and commenced poking the thing.  Buzzing from behind prompted a groan from me.  Tensing, I turned and hosed down apparition number two.
     A pair of blades cycled up on the new threat, as water harmlessly rained on its advance.  Less than thrilled by this event, I backed up, mind racing for all I was worth.  Falling, I scooped up my shovel, hoping sword lessons might help.  Swinging, I yelled as the android buzzed the handle in half. 
     Reacting first, I threw the handle end.  Hitting true, I managed to spear the main visual sensor.  Falling to the ground, a louder boom greeted my ears.  In seconds I stood, another smoking mess before me.  Moving to it, I hurriedly commenced an inspection.  Renewed buzzing forced me from that task, as two more materialized.
     Flames licked at me as I staggered and crawled for the shed.  In seconds, I entered and exited, sprayer and spade shovel in tow.  Yelping as flames warmed the situation, I shook the sprayer vigorously.  Throwing the sprayer, I hit the ground.  Rolling over, I saw the sprayer land at the feet of the advancing androids.
     The chemicals in the sprayer reacted as advertised, impressively exploding both of my flame throwing menaces.  Springing to my feet, I hurriedly looked about me.  Realizing I could have another 'visitor' in seconds, I raced into the shed.  Buzzing intruded on my preparations, forcing a record sprint out of me.
     Skidding to a stop, I panted at the sight of three more.  Someone, I thought sourly, needs a hobby.  One not involving exterminating me.
     "Security Protocol Option 1-Beta!"  I shouted, in dire hope.
     The trio halted, confirming the theory in my head.  Looking over the collection of items laying about me, I wondered a way out of this mess.  My surprise guess would only buy me a small reprieve, rapidly expiring.
     Thought flashed by, smacking my face as it passed.  Smiling wickedly, I edged over to the second android I dropped.  Yanking the shovel handle out, I jammed in the small metal spade shovel I held.  Wincing to the sounds of high pitched interference, I smiled.  Theory solidified more, centering on nonstandard android gear and metal objects.
     Yelling from behind my shed surprised me.  Dashing around, I found a humanoid throwing gear on the ground.  Noting all sorts of fun gear scattered about, the other half of the theory solidified in my mind.  Precise control, I reminded myself, requires close monitoring.
     Walking to him, I said cheerily, "Why hello.  Let me assist you to a chair."  Grabbing the man, I dragged him to a lawn chair.  Locating a cord, I secured him firmly to said chair.  Turning, I trotted back to the spot I found him.  Rummaging through discarded devices, I located the communications and control devices. 
     Fiddling with the control device, I made my way to the three immobile androids.  Finishing a quick programming job, I secured the communication device to the back of one of the trio.  Walking over, I yanked the hand shovel out of the other one, shutting down the jamming field.  Tapping the commit button on the programming I whipped up, I ran over and hit the recall on the comm device.
    I laughed, regretting I would be unable to see the havoc caused by the reprogrammed androids.  Right this moment, I thought amusedly, a symphony of destruction occurred somewhere. 
     One more regret surfaced as I surveyed the scene.  The man I captured also teleported out, denying me the joy of asking questions.  Sighing, I gathered my tools.  Returning to the garden, I wished the recall had not scooped him up. 
     Regrettably, I could have used another pair of hands for pulling weeds.

01 August, 2010

On the New Frontier...Chasing Darkness: Part V

Day 8
     "You rarely consider security I see."
     I vaulted clean out of my bunk.  Landing on my feet, I found myself facing the woman I had rescued.  Panting a moment, I waited for my heart to stop pounding.  Looking her over, I said calmly, "You might consider a simple thank you in this case."
     Nary a sign of reaction crossed her face.  She gazed about my cabin, her hand idly touching the door frame.  I tried to discern her thoughts, to no avail.  We stood for several minutes, staring about.  Finally my patience gave way and I asked a simple question.  "Could I possibly get your name?"
     "Lady Alitaian Seilirz Danteirnd"
     I tried mightily to sound out her name.  Muttering to myself, I sounded like I was making gibberish.  Shaking my head, I opted for the easiest route out of this.  I hope, I thought worriedly, she surrenders gracefully to this one, sans beating me senseless.
     "A pleasure to meet you Ali, "I smiled as her eyes suddenly locked onto me.  "Sorry, but saying that full title and name requires more effort than feasible."
      Ali maintained her gaze upon me, spurring another attempt to decipher her thoughts.  Alien she was, I thought I detected something in her demeanor.  Processing the little I know of human psychology, the answered floated out of reach.  Perhaps, I thought darkly, tallying her in the massive mystery I faced would be the only option.
     Ali seemed to make a decision.  Speaking in a tone approaching wonder, she began, "Failing an outlandish explanation, I feel no sense of you."
     I smiled sheepishly.  Knowing that was not the first time I heard a similar statement, I simply couldn't help myself.  I looked intently at Ali, saying, "Indeed there exists a reason. The explanation, however, sounds fantastic.  How willing are you to listen?"
    Ali hesitated a moment, her gaze losing focus.  I tilted my head in contemplation, smiling faintly.  My amusement fully faded as decision colored her tone.
     "My people believe in the power of story."

     Sliding into the navigation seat, I smiled at my baffled guest.  I studied her, taking note in her observational skills of my extremely alien (To her.) flight deck.  In scant few minutes she surmised 30% of my controls.  Returning her attention to me, she said in wonder, "I have never seen such a ship.  This alone proves you alien."
     Nodding, I said simply, "I hoped seeing this would spare me the long and detailed story telling.  I am as alien as they come to your galaxy."
     Alarms sounded, right as Ali and I flew off our feet.  I skidded clean to the viewscreen.  Cursing furiously, I dragged myself to the navigation console.  Seeing Ali scramble for the nearest chair, I yelled, "Bloody well hold on!"
     Gravity waves pounded the Stellar Rush.  Impressed by the magnitude, I realised this should not be happening in hyperspace.  Punching in commands, the ship lurched mightily as she dropped from hyperspace.  Sighing relief, I hurriedly called out for a scan of space.  Damage control processes checked negative, allowing a sigh to escape me as the deep space scans popped onto the main viewscreen. 
     Whistling, the readings showed exceedingly minimal gravitic disturbance in normal space.  The whistle forced out of me for the magnitude of gravitic disturbance in hyperspace.  Punching data, I compared these readings to the data on the phenomena that brought me here.  Some of the readings washed out similar, but most to my dismay registered vastly different.  Calling up the star charts, I frowned as they told me nothing.
     "Ali, "I motioned her to me, "could you pinpoint where we are if I show you a star chart?"
     Nodding, she focused her attention towards the main viewscreen.  Punching commands, I transferred the chart, adding reference markers from what data I acquired.  I located the points I remembered, making a mental note of my voyage.
     "We are in the ShadowZone.  Roughly, 'she said in thought, "500,000 miles in."
     I waited for a punchline.  Looking at Ali, I detected amazed wonder radiating from her.  My patience wore thin quickly.  Sudden chanting from her threw me for a loss, more so when she stopped abruptly.  Looking down at me, she spoke quietly.
     "I will admit to total surprise.  No ship, "seriousness dripping from her voice now, "ever has penetrated the ShadowZone.  All ships entering, no matter the means, simply explode."
     Impressed by that statement, I began to ponder.  Logically, I mused to myself, I should turn tail and run.  My curiosity, I knew, held other plans.  Tapping a finger in a vague beat, I felt a plan slowly form.  Tapping into the computer, I set it to track a probable source location for the gravitic waves.  Turning, I punched up the data I collected, and searching for information on this 'ShadowZone'.  After turning up nothing, I faced Ali.
     "I find no mention of it in the data I collected.  So mind explaining to me what you know?
     As she thought of a way to explain this, the computer beeped.  Punching the display up, I smiled.  I forwarded it to the main viewscreen, saying to Ali, "Apparently we are not the only ones to be here."  Punching in maximum scan, I processed the info for Ali to interpret.  Amazement chased across her face, as I relaised she recognised the ships well.  Without hesitation, I plotted a parallel course, using my superior detector system to the full advantage.  Ali looked at me, nodding in apparent approval.
     As we followed the ships, my mind took off wondering.  Was there an explanation in this space that would help?.  Was I leading myself farther and farther away?  Why flashed by a million times, no answer ever forthcoming.  Looking over the readings on the ships, I was baffled by their slow progress.  More questions arrived to torment me, causing steam to blow from my ears.
     "I hope you enjoy long trips Ali.  Our friends are not in any hurry."

     I stumbled to the flight deck, blinking from being quite asleep.  Ali's summons scared me, but was a good thing.  Before decided to pass out, I let her work on the tutorials on the ship.  In those five hours, she learned much.  Rubbing my eyes, I glared at the main display.  Ali vacated the navigation chair, allowing me to slid in.  I noted with amusement she already dropped our speed.
     Scan registered a planetary system.  The three ships we tailed entered orbit around the fourth in the system.  Growling at the detector readings, I halted the Stellar Rush.  Moving any closer doubtlessly would alert whoever was on the planet.  Thinking a moment, I turned to Ali, asking, "What is this ShadowZone?"
     "The ShadowZone represents a region of space where nothing exists.  "Doubt now colored her words for explanation.  "Over the last 300 years, no ship or probe has penetrated the Zone.  The thoughts concerning the Zone's composition and the like stretch volumes."
     I nodded, pointing out to her, "No mention of this ShadowZone exits in the data I acquired.  The information I pulled from came from public sources."
     A shadow crossed Ali's features.  She spoke darkly, "This represents another instance of the Imperium dictating knowledge."
     Knowing Earth's history well, I understood.  Too many times, one individual or group attempted deciding for all.  In the end, the damage was generally undone.  No matter what occurred afterwords, I mused sadly, the lasting impression remained.  Shaking myself, I returned to reality.
     Glaring over the readings, something caught my eye.  Peering at the sensor read out, I asked the computer to data match.  In seconds I had an answer.  The answer stunned me visibly, forcing a gasp from me.  I felt Ali move to peer over my shoulder, doubtless wondering at what forced the noise out of me.  I hurriedly double checked what the data match showed. 
     I turned to Ali, saying excitedly, "A structure near the system is emitting spatial distortion similar to that which dragged me here.  Not exactly the same, but I daresay they are working on a artificially creating the same effect."
     "The ships and base register clearly as Imperium.  I sincerely doubt, "Ali said with sympathy, "asking them for assistance will be a good idea."
     My silence confirmed her thought on the matter.  Waving her to bed, I sat staring through the main viewscreen.  Something was missing, I thought dejectedly, about all this mess.  I wondered if I might ever locate it.  Pouring over everything I possessed, I searched for a missing clue.  Hours passed, leaving one solitary burning question as I found a parking spot in a dust cloud.
     What precisely was the intentions of the Imperium with this project?

18 July, 2010

On the New Frontier...Now, What Does That Button Do?

     Sitting in my office, I fended off an attack of the mundane.  Paperwork through the ages, I mused in annoyance, may very well have moved away from paper, but it never lessened in volume somehow.  Fighting for the past two hours, I felt unaccomplished.  Staring at the screen, my eyes suddenly decided to cross.  Realising I needed a break, I arose and marched out of my office.
     Torli nodded as I approached.  My faithful secretary, she doubtless heard my frustration with her superior hearing.  She confirmed my suspicion by stating, "All calls held Mr. Kaden.  I hear there is a lovely jazz concert occurring this afternoon at 1."
     Grunting an acknowledgment, I stalked past her desk.  Casting about, I decided to head for the top floor of the building.  A quick trip up deposited me in the clinical confines of the research and development department.  I laughed faintly at the sound of an alarmed shout, coming from the far back corner.  Heading in that direction, I soon located Doctor Jersil Weki.  Waiting patiently for him to extinguish the smoking remains of something, I finally pulled him aside.
     "Doctor, " I said loudly over the general noise of the department, "anything new?"
     Weki stared blankly at me.  Tapping a foot impatiently, I waited for his brain to return.  In a moment he said, "Ah Norville."  With that statement, I noted with some frustration, ended his attempt at social pleasantries.  Waiting again, I knew from previous experience his distracted thoughts would catch up.  I hoped that is.
     I pulled his sleeve, dragging him away from the commotion and scurrying staff members.  Steering him to a quieter corner of the floor, he said, "Nothing new developed really Norville.  We thought, "waving a furry hand at the disaster I found him attending, "the solution of the Mystery of Talius presented itself."
     Nodding to him, I frowned in sympathy.  The Mystery of Talius represented a handful of true temporal mysteries not a soul seemed able to solve.  I sighed in disappointment, casting about in my mind for what to do next.  Weki sucked in a sudden breath, scattering my thoughts.  Pulling me along to his office, he produced a case and opened it.  I stared at the device within, puzzled beyond words.
     "Alright Doctor, I give.  What exactly am I looking at?"
     Weki pulled the device from the case.  Studying it a moment, he said simply, "By all appearances, a temporal projector.  A primitive one at that."
     "Alright Doctor, but why are you showing me this?  I see the non-standard design, and by the bulk it is fairly primitive, but-"
     Weki waved me to sudden silence.  Looking at it absently, he said, "Agent Colui discovered this item.  She found it on 19th century Earth.  It appears inert."
     Eyes widening, I pondered that statement.  Earth of the period was barely into a Class 2 society, and certainly unable to produce anything concerning temporal manipulation.  I studied the device in Weki's hands intently.  He turned it over, popping open a control panel.  Applying all my knowledge, I could not fathom the design on this device.
     Noticing a large button, I asked sarcastically, "Now, what does that button do?"
     Without a thought, Weki pressed it.  I began laughing...
     My laughter halted when I landed in a warm puddle of muddy water.
     I blinked, then again for extra good measure.  I scrambled out of the puddle, dripping to drier land.  Cursing loudly, I screamed, "Weki!"  Huffing from all the shouting, I looked about me.  Snapping my temporal locator off my belt, I groaned aloud.  The scrambled readings informed me I was quite on my own.  Sucking in a breath, I proceeded to clean mud from myself.
     Looking aloft, I noted twin suns.  No signs of advanced civilization greeted my eyes, scaring me a bit.  Regaining calm, I let my mind automatically run through a checklist.  Pulling out a simple scanner I decided to see if rain was going to pelt me.  Fiddling with the scanner, I barely noticed the ground shaking.  The ground ceased shaking as I determined no rain in the immediate area.
     Freezing suddenly, my skin crawled.  Pure silence greeted my ears, causing me to flick on my forceshield.  Growling, it refused to activate, doubtless from the muddy water. My eyes flicked left then right, showing nothing in range.  Slowly turning, I faced the opposite direction.
     Yelping, I stared into a mouth full of teeth, big teeth.  Breaking my gaze from teeth straight from a childhood nightmare, I saw the rest of the large animal.  Swallowing hard, I said cheerily, "Nice doggy.  Want a treat, other than me?"
     The roar silenced me, nearly knocking me over into the puddle.  Thinking hurriedly, I fiddled with the controls on the scanner in my hand.  Smiling, I triggered a sonic pulse.  The beast roared and stomped about in rage.  I managed to miss most of it's performance, already running for the nearby trees.  Running harder, feeling the ground shake, I tripped over a stone, flying into the brush and skidding to a stop against a tree.   I crawled, barely missing teeth from the massive head poking in the trees for me.
     Huffing and counting bruises, I staggered away from being the main course.  Musing over the emergency checklist, I decided to add a few things should I return home.  Smiling at the absurdity, I formed the memo and the lecture in the same thought.  I couldn't, I thought mischievously, wait to get my hands on Weki.
     Landing unceremoniously on my behind, I yelled.  Adding a major bruise to my list I opened my eyes to identify the offending object.  Disbelief chased my pain away, as I looked up at a pair of spears.  Letting my eyes wander farther along, I noted with serious dismay what was holding them.
     Reptilian humanoids.  Primitive reptilian humanoids, with spears.
     Smiling, I managed to rise.  Reviewing things rapidly, I spoke slow and even.  "Hello.  I seem to have landed here quite accidentally.  Perhaps you fine chaps could direct me to a safe place?"
     Hissing, I realised the translator would provide roughly zero assistance.  I began pondering ways out of this particular turn of events.  Smiling for all my worth, the stony expressions I received in return did not endear me any.  Backing up slowly, the advancing reptiles with spears cornered me.  Swallowing hard, I wondered what effect my remains might incur on the time stream.
    The reptiles stopped advancing, turning and hissing.  Puzzled by this, I realised they possessed sharper senses than I, as the ground commenced rumbling.  Scrambling up the tree behind me, I climbed as far as I could get.  Willing my panting to quiet, I listened to the commotion below.  Roaring mixed with the reptiles, forcing a smile.  I turned my mind to the more immediate issue, of getting home and kicking Weki a few times.
     Pulling out my temporal locator, I saw in disappointment the thing was still quite scrambled.  I yanked out the pair of scanners in my pockets, glaring at them.  Ideas chased logic through my head, sadly to no avail.  Feeling my mind shift to hyperspace, I refused to stop it.
     Completely in a dimension of thought, moments passed before noises intruded upon my rampaging thoughts.  Blinking myself to my rather dismal reality, I glanced down from my perch.  Seeing a crowd of reptile humanoids all looking up, I tensed.  Frowning, I attempted to reason their thoughts.  Surely they would have climbed by now, I thought, so what in the worlds were they waiting for?
     Seeing a flaming stick, the answer rang in.  Leaning out, I saw in total dismay that my tree was surrounded by wood.  The flaming stick passed around the pile encircling the tree.  Flames sprouted, burning and beginning to burn up the tree.  I frantically searched the trees about me, finding none near enough to jump to.  Panic building, I hurriedly played with the devices in my hand.  Sweating, fire licking at my shoes, I pressed a button.  Screaming as nothing occurred, I threw the devices against the tree.
     Landing on my head, I wondered absently why death looked like the lobby of the building I worked in.  Scrambling painfully to my feet, surprise colored my features, followed by embarrassment.  Straightening my rather dirty and battered clothes, I strode past the astonished onlookers.  Entering the building lift, I keyed my code to override the security.  Going straight to the research and development floor, I exited the lift to mass commotion.  Smiling wickedly, silence descended slowly as I searched the floor for Doctor Weki.  Finding him bent over the device causing my misadventure, I broke his intense study.  Looking for all the worlds shocked, Weki rose.  Waving him from uttering a sound, I pasted him with a glare.
     "My office, 15 minutes."
     Smiling broadly, I simply turned away.  Entering the lift, I laughed, knowing Weki would sweat a bit.