27 June, 2010

On the New Frontier...Would You Say I Do?

(Inspiration hits me at the damndest of times.  I am currently fighting my way through a complete rewrite of a longer story, which has sucked up my time from working on the story I am posting to this blog.  In the middle of its frustrations, setbacks and contemplation of launching myself into orbit, inspiration nailed me for something else.  Just remember...I hate weddings.)

     "Just who the Hell are YOU?"
     Blinking rapidly, I attempted to ascertain where I was.  Firstly, I appeared to be laying down.  Secondly, the surface I found myself on was not comfortable.  Thirdly, a wedding dress hanging over me stared in my face.  Fourthly (Is that a word?  Oh, it is now.) a rather angry brunette women fumed at me.  Looking into her blue eyes, I smiled apologetically.  "Dear me.  I seem to have arrived in a most unusual fashion."
     "Get off the table!"
     Swinging hurriedly off the table at the scream, I stood, assessing my surroundings.  Groaning, I realised I was in a wedding hall.  Judging by the appearance of everything, a Terran wedding hall.  A further groan issued when I noted it was early 21st century Terran, and the woman appeared in her early 20s.  Terrible music during this period would soon assault my senses, if this woman before me did not.
     Realising some form of explanation might be required, I smiled again.  "Why hello there, Norville Kaden at your service.  Terribly sorry for the unconventional entrance.  I seem to have been blasted out of my nap to here."
     Rounding on me, the women snapped, "You almost ruined my wedding dress!  You made a mess of the whole table!"  Eyes flashing in pure anger, she looked into me.  Deciding for once to be charming, I said humbly, "Simply your servant Miss, and a mere mistake. Inspection-"
     "Get out of here!  OUT!"
     Running for the nearest exit, I stopped only when a corner hid me from view.  Panting and checking for holes, I frowned in thought.  Somehow, something yanked me out a rather comfy chair, dropping me on a rather uncomfy table.  Shaking aside the thoughts of how rude, I pondered as I walked.
     Flicking my wrist, the temporal locator popped out.  My initial assessment held true:  Earth, November 2011, Fremantle, Western Australia.  Odd place, I mused, to find oneself tossed in, especially the bit about the wedding.  More thoughts followed a trip over a trash bin into flowers.  Dusting myself off, I strode purposely, mindful of the glances of onlookers.
     Two hours, three detours, one loss for words and four old people mistaking me for someone's grandson later, I arrived at lodging.  Eating in record time, I threw myself at the bed.  Bouncing on it, I let the motion jar my thoughts.  When that failed, I stared straight into the ceiling for a count.
     In my era, temporal travel represented a well documented phenomena.  Working for a time agency, traveling through time was nothing new to me.  Occupation it happened to be, this represented an amusingly frightening first:  uncontrolled temporal shift.
     For the 20th time I attempted shunting myself back to my own time, and for the 20th time failed.  Cursing, the same answer read out in my brain.  Some force was blocking me from achieving temporal shift, yet for some unfathomable reason I appeared here.  The growling accomplished little, except to remind me of a cartoon from circa this period.
     Waking up in a heap on the floor, I winced from my rather painful choice of sleeping positions.  Stumbling about, I managed to shower.  Banging my head on the shower, I reflected about just how Terrans survived this period of history.  Giving up, I dressed, pondering what next to accomplish.
     Striding down the street, I let my thoughts wander about.  Returning to reality after bouncing off a pole, a telephone pole to be precise, I laughed.  Despite a lifetime of solving complex things, simple items always seemed to escape and amuse me.  I headed for a small store I spotted, entering and buying a paper and a coffee.
     Making my way back to my lodging, a hotel I believe it is named, I sat down.  Listening to the chair creak, I poured over the paper intently.  Taking in the info, I smiled, laughing at this century of Terran history.  As I continued on, the news turned mundane.  At least I noted, reading then tearing the page out with the comics on it, something funny brightened the day.
     Turning the last page I saw the notices.  I gripped the paper suddenly, seeing a familiar face in the section.  Reading over the notice, I saw that the wedding for the woman I met yesterday was to occur today, in roughly three Terran hours.  Tossing the paper down, I wondered why I thought this important.  Speculation mounted a starship and flew off, leaving me at the spacedock.
     Snapping my fingers, a decision arrived.  Information needed, and only one way to acquire it.  Heading out the door, I laughed, knowing I had but the vaguest of plans for acquiring any knowledge.

     Charm working once again, I managed to sneak my way into the wedding hall staff.  Vainly attempting to remember Terran wedding customs and the like, I managed to sneak about the place.  A concentrated search provided me nothing, not a clue.  Huffing in disgust I trudged down a hall, quite intent on making an exit.  A plan to find my way home needed-
     "Excuse me, we need a couple of towels for the bride's room."
     Turning, I smiled and nodded.  Escape plans would wait a moment.  Wait they would, as I found myself sucked up into the work team for the wedding.  Running through chaos and seeming disordered order, I panted.  I vowed in my mind never to mock anyone's job, ever again.
     Before I could comprehend, the time for the ceremony arrived.  Finding myself in the reception hall, I added the finishing touches to the tables with a flourish.  Smiling in childish delight, I marched off to the kitchen, checking to see if I could take a break.  Receiving approval, I threaded my way to a spot to think.
     Reaching the spot I located in my travels, I looked about and realised I could see the wedding.  Moving quietly, I saw the groom and minister standing.  Skin crawling, I hated the sound of the organ player mashing keys.  Just then the bride arrived, slowly marching up the isle.  This time she actually looked happy, unlike upon my first encounter.  Smiling, my attention wavered as a sound caught my ear.  Frowning I turned about me in the dim light.
     Seeing something in the dim light, I advanced towards it.  Tripping, I landed besides a bound and gagged figure.  I noted three things instantly.
     First, the person I untied was wearing a tuxedo, and in his early 20s.
     Second, more than just this person where occupying this room, all bound and gagged.
     Third, this man in the tuxedo looked awfully familiar.
     Leaping, tripping and landing at my view into the wedding I stared hard.  The ceremony underway, I stared at the groom.  I stared again, after a good head shake.
     Standing beside the bride, the man on the floor looked on expectantly.  Slapping myself, the vision wavered.  Slapping myself again, the vision finished wavering, solidifying for me.  Choking a scream down, I noted to my dismay a mess of Chindith masquerading as the groom and members of the wedding party.
     Acting, I grabbed the real groom and undid his bonds.  He was still groggy as I hunted around for a weapon of some sort.  A frantic search produced a half empty bottle of water and a yo-yo.  Moaning I grabbed the real groom and propelled him towards the door leading into the ceremony.
     Finding the lock tripped, I reverted to Plan K, kicking the door open.  Yelping from the pain, I staggered into the stunned assemblage.  Shock, astonishment and outright anger greeted my unannounced arrival.  The father of the bride rose, advancing on me menacingly.  I chucked water on him as he did, waiting for the holoshield to short and show him for what he truly was.
     Jumping aside as the bride's father lunged, now madder for getting a soaking, I realised my mistake.  Turning, I threw the rest of the water on the father of the groom, just then heading for me.
     Sparks flew and wedding party and guests scattered, some fleeing.  The bride herself stood her ground, staring in something beyond contempt and disbelief.  Everyone present looked on in horror and amazement at the unmasked Chindith before them.
     Flashing my credentials before the Chindith, I addressed them sternly.  "By order of the Galactic Temporal Code, I order you to vacate this planet and temporal location."
     My words produced little effect.  At this point, the remaining Chindith unmasked, inspiring more panic.  Drawing a breath, I steeled myself for serious dramatic acting.
     The bride rushed past and grabbed the real groom.  Staggering into her arms, he focused on her, saying, "Oh Kella."  Turning from the sight of them kissing madly, I returned to the matter at hand.  Most of the Terrans managed a masterful retreat, excepting the bride and groom and a handful of guests.  Sighing, the Chindith glared at me in unison.  Having dealt with them before, I knew I could expect the glare, and possibly being converted into melted flesh. 
     Speaking rapidly, I made the yo-yo appear.  "This device, when activated, pulses non Terran lifeforms.  Sadly, for such beings as Chindith, your molecules shall suffer cellular inversion."  Stopping before my acting skills received the test of a lifetime, I waited.  Fighting the urge to climb on the ceiling, I opened my mouth.
     "I don't give a flying damn what you are...leave my wedding!"
     Kella's sudden shouted caused everyone present to jump or scream.  I managed both, looking in disbelief as the Chindith present clustered together.  As a body, they all teleported right from view.  When I blinked again, Kella and Jonathan ran to free the remaining members of the wedding party.  Kella's father, muttering away, went to round up the guests.
     All I could do was stand there.  And just laugh.

     Roughly an hour Terran Standard Time later, Jonathan and Kella said, "I do."  Standing at the back of the hall I smiled, watching the proceedings.  Everyone filed out past the newly wed couple, leaving me for last.
     Approaching them, I shook their hands.  Smiling sheepishly, I said, "Terribly sorry my dear girl for breaking in like that.  However, I concluded you may not want to marry an alien, let alone live with one."
     Kella smiled just then.  She put a finger to my lips to stop me from saying another word.  She looked through me again, saying, "I am afraid of an explanation of who and what happened.  I wish to convey my thanks to you."
     I nodded and bowed to them.  My temporal locater beeped, causing me to smile.  "Home, headed for, is I.  Before I go, I believe tradition says I owe you a gift."  With that statement, I handed them each a card.  Waving, I faded from view, going home.
     Laughing over the entirety of the misadventure, I registered a single regret. 
     Missing the expressions of shock upon opening those cards.

12 June, 2010

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

Day 5
     Watching the readings on my detectors, I whistled.  The ship had just dropped out of hyperspace near my position.  Thankfully I was powered down already and in a sensor masking asteroid field.  My short range detectors worked out of the field thankfully.  Based on what the readings informed me of, really thankfully.
     The ship registered about as massive as an Alliance Stellar Navy light carrier.  Heavily armed and armour plated, I decided I was damn glad I already was hiding.  My little transport was certainly no match for anything this massive.  A question haunted me about this ship.
     Who were they?
     So far, nary a clue in my possession told me who happened to have such a 'healthy' interest in me.  I mulled over again and again what scant facts I observed.  Simply nothing added up in my mind.  Running them again accomplished nothing beyond grinding a layer off my teeth.  Reason seemed to escape me at this point, and critical thinking was never a strong suit of mine anyway.
     Watching the detectors, I noted the ship within visual range.  Shrugging, I fired up my exterior vision and made a photographic record of as much of the ship as possible.  Keeping a wary eye on the detector readings, in a minute the ship departed.  Sighing relief, my thoughts quickly returned to my musing of earlier.  I decided to review the information I collected on Sirrum.
     Scanning through the history of space flight, I stopped suddenly.  The section titled 'Rise of the Imperium' drew my attention.  In this place I found myself, space travel was an older knowledge than in my neck of the woods.  In the beginning, it seems there were no less than 170 small kingdoms scattered about this particular galaxy.  The usual fare of power struggles ensued and the galaxy plunged into a galactic Dark Age of sorts.
     About the time Earth first achieved hyperspatial travel, the forces of the Imperium started conquering star systems, bringing order and re-establishing communications.  Reading over this information chilled me, with my amateur historian bent screaming bloody murder.  All of it had an all too familiar lean to it, right out of the Earth history of dictators and empires.
     Leaning back again, I pondered the last major intangible, that of my ground encounters.  What in the name of everything unholy were these people using?  No visible weapons...chanting...what the Hell!  My musings brought me no peace of mind.  Turning decisively, I punched every reading on the atmosphere of Sirrum.  Giving the computer some marching orders, I focused my attention to leaving my hiding place.
     Powering up, I plotted myself a leisurely course out of the asteroid field.  Watching carefully as I made my way through, my heart hit my boots when the short range detectors commenced screaming.  Company arrived in the form of the light carrier I saw earlier.  Cursing myself, I accelerated as much as I dared.  Managing not to hit an asteroid, I blasted into clear space.
     Seeing three groups of 15 fighters converging on me forced a sudden revision to 'clear space'.  Boxing me in, I grimly punched maximum intensity to my forward screens, firing maximum power ion strikes at everything dead ahead.  Picking a target as the formation scattered, I screamed for the fighter at 95% sublight.  Holding my breath, the fighter loomed larger as the collision alarm sounded.  Turning blue, during the last second the fighter skated off to my port.
     Exhaling with every thing I had, I gasped as oxygen hit my system again.  Scrambling, I engaged the aft shields, listening to the symphony of things bashing my hull.  Dialing the shields all the way, I watched the explosions form to my aft.  Jumping to hyperspace, I bounced around jumps for an hour.  Satisfied, I settled into a nice, tight orbit around a trinary star group.
    Huffing my relief, memory kicked me swiftly in the ass.  I remembered the analysis I asked of the computer.  Transferring the readout to the forward display, I pondered over it.  My science skills lacking, I punched a comparative analysis against Earth.  In a short moment, I poured over a detailed breakdown of atmospheric components.  Two readings caught my eye suddenly.
     One seemed to be a radioactive isotope.  Suppressing panic, I had the computer check and found it harmless due to my shielding.  The other element registered as an inorganic compound.  The odd thing I noted, was the inorganic compound scanned at high concentrations in the atmosphere, along with the radioactive isotope.  The computer confirm that neither element seemed to be a product of the other, which made little sense.
     I mulled over this poser.  Something nagged me, saying how truly odd this occurrence was.  I thought for a good long while, no revelation forthcoming.  I flagged the data, keeping it fresh in my mind.
     Searching the immediate area, the detectors found a dead moon floating through the area.  According to scan info, the mining base showed no sign of habitation for 64 years.  I brought the ship down and settled under a cliff.  Troubled, I set the automatic warning, and dragged myself to my bunk.

Day 6
     I decided to explore the abandoned mining complex before departing.  Hopping about in the weak gravity, I smiled.  Looking every bit the old fashioned ghost town, a complete record of Life unfolded before me.  Recording everything to an uplink on my ship, I decided I could sell all this upon reaching home.
     Depression slammed me, stopping me cold inside a building.  Emotion finally caught me, draining everything from me.  I simply stared into the alienness of this deserted place.  Home, a place seemingly in a dream.  A place remembered, perhaps remaining a memory.
     Minutes passed before I moved again.  I spent a solid hour exploring, finding nothing but dust and ruin where ever my torchlight shone.  Frustration lashed out a foot, kicking a wall.  Snarling at myself, I fumed all the way back to the ship.  I needed results, not pointless pottering about.
     On a whim, I set the computer to analyze the soil of this moon.  Waiting impatiently, the analysis presented itself shortly.  To my utmost surprise, the same elements I noted in Sirrum's atmosphere appeared again.  Frowning, I wondered what this could possibly mean.

     Setting down on a world called Asxia, I exited my ship carefully.  Looking about, certain no 'reception' committee awaited, I thought.  The portable analyzer was strapped to my left arm, allowing it to take readings on everything.  Remaining nondescript as possible, I described a circular course through the spaceport.  I spotted a park, and entered.  Despite the differences, seeing trees and grass of a fashion brought a smile.  I spotted a bridge over a reddish stream and looked over it.
     "Life is a flowing stream, never staying in place."
     The soft voice startled me enough to almost leap right into the stream.  Looking left a women stood close to me.  She stared intently at the stream herself, lost seemingly in some thought.  Locating my voice, I said evenly, "Indeed so.  Change, constant, unremitting...unfeeling marching across the shores of Time."
     The women turned purple eyes on me.  Studying me a moment, she spoke again in her soft voice.  "Wisdom of truth I find unfamiliar."  She paused, her next words causing my heart to skip, "Strange, I feel no sense of you, yet see and hear you."
     Turning, I stared in disbelief.  A leap of logic told me that she was referring to a spiritual sense of me.  My thoughts mounted a horse and rode off.  Unsure of what may happen next,  I managed a skillfully hasty retreat.  Once certain no one followed, I used my recall and teleported back to the Stellar Rush.  Safely inside, I received clearance for departure, wasting no time in the process.  In minutes space stretched before me, along with an infinity of questions.
     Frowning, I knew at least one answer I could get.  Punching the scanner info in, in a moment the readout on Asxia appeared.  Unsurprisingly, once again the two mystery elements appeared.  Impulsively, I scanned myself and the air of the ship.  No trace of those elements existed in me or the air of the ship. 
     Frowning deeper, I wondered.  I could not place it, but something nagged me about this.  Those two elements showed up in air and soil in three distinctly different worlds. 
     Why?  What did they do?
     Damn I hate mysteries.