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?