Good morning. Welcome to another session of the Mid Week tease. As always, thanks go out to Sandra Bunino and all of the regular participants and readers who make this possible. You are my inspiration and my support.
Last week, I stepped out of my comfort zone and posted a sci-fi story I’d been working on. My hubby is a sci-fi aficionado, so I thought it might be nice to write something he’d like. I was so amazed by the response I got, that I’ve decided to finish it, or in this case begin it. Eloisia,a post-apocalyptic space opera as they’re called, will follow the exploits of Space Marine Colonel Jim Striker and the passengers and crew of the Intergalactic Peace Council Ship, Alpha Explorer. Lost in time and space, they travel through uncharted space looking for a suitable planet to call home. Inspired by all of the sci-fi series I have enjoyed over the years, I hope I can do justice to them.
Eloisia, will be written as a series of episodes similar to the way television series is made-recurring characters, long term goals, and regular crises to keep the viewer, or in my case, reader coming back. Each episode will be between 10 and 12,000 words long, and I intend to have at least the first one up for sale by the end of August.
Here’s the premise:
Earth is gone. In the year 3015, in an effort to save what little humanity they can, six ships carrying three thousand humans and animals, similar in some ways to Noah’s Ark, set out beyond the known galaxy, searching for a new home. Alpha Explorer, commanded by Colonel Jim Striker, is one of those ships, and the five hundred men and women aboard are his responsibility. In cryogenic stasis, the captain, his crew and his passengers are unaware that another faction believing in Doomsday and the end of time, has sabotaged the ships, determined that humanity cease to exist when its planet does. Now, it’s his job to save as many people as he can, find the traitors aboard his vessel, and finish the mission–a piece of cake for a dedicated space marine.
Opening his eyes, he gazed out at the ceiling that seemed farther away than he expected and wondered where the hell he was. It took him a few moments to identify the cryotube designed to keep him alive during the long space voyage. He and Vic shouldn’t have had that last drink before getting into their tubes. Judging from what he saw above him, he was in the wrong one. Oh, well. That didn’t seem to matter now. He smiled. They’d done it. They’d found a new home for humanity.
Taking a deep breath of surprisingly fresh air, he tried to flex his stiff muscles. His slight movement was all the tube’s computer needed to open the casing so he could sit up. The dizziness and nausea associated with space sickness swamped him. As a space marine, he’d logged thousands of hours aboard ship, but this was the first time he’s been in cryogenic stasis for more than a couple of years at a time. No doubt the queasiness he felt could be attributed to that as well.
Moving slowly, he raised himself up to a full sitting position and looked around. Beside him, the indicators on Vic Anders, his Science Officer and Second-in-Command’s tube, flashed as it went through the reanimation process.
“Alpha, this is Colonel Jim Striker, authorization code two seven six beta tau omega. I’m taking control of the ship. Acknowledge and respond.”
“Voice pattern recognition engaged. Authorization code two seven six beta tau omega recognized. Colonel James Striker of the United World Marine Service. Command restored to you as per protocols. Are you in distress?”
“I’m a little dizzy and nauseous, but otherwise, I’m fine. What’s the date?”
He frowned. “What the hell do you mean unknown?”
“The chronometers are not functioning.”
“Explain. Why are they not working?”
Striker cursed silently. This was why he hated computers, even super-duper, semi-humanoid ones. “I know you aren’t much of a conversationalist, Alpha, but you’ve got to give me more than that. Was that why you reanimated me? Has the ship been damaged?” A meteor storm or other space accident might account for a malfunction.
“Unknown. I did not activate your cryotube, Colonel Striker. It was preprogramed to open.”
“Have we reached our destination?” The cryotube was designed to open automatically when they entered the Eden galaxy, the place they hoped to find Eloisia, the new planet they’d call home. It also activated in an emergency, and he was afraid this might be the latter case.
Damn! Alpha Explorer, and her five sister ships, had been built secretly by the Intergalactic Peace Council, made up of humans and aliens who didn’t want to see the end of humanity. Controlled by one of the fastest, most complex android mind of its time, capable of thinking and reacting to any situation within nanoseconds, the fact she was currently unable to explain what the hell was happening didn’t bode well. Things were looking worse by the second.
Moving slowly but surely, Striker stood, noted he wasn’t wearing any clothes, reached for the thin metallic sheet that had covered him in the tube, and wrapped it around his waist. He wasn’t exactly sure what Alpha was, but he wasn’t in the mood to provide her with a peep show. Vic had shown him the robotic body she could enter when necessary, and machine or not, she’d been hot. Until he knew more about the way she functioned, he’d keep his private parts just that. Stepping away from the tube, his head pounded the way it had when he’d been on that four day drinking binge just after he’d been given command of the mission.
“Okay, what do you know?”
“Colonel, many of my systems appear to be offline,” Alpha said in the calm voice that belied the terror her words produced. “We are moving at ten sols, but there is no course programmed into my navigational controls.”
“How the hell did that happen?” He looked over at Vic’s unit and wished the lights would quit flashing so that the tube would open. Snafus like this were his expertise.
Damn! Didn’t that overblown, supposedly incredible, hunk of circuits have any other words in its vocabulary? Ten sols meant they were moving ten times faster than the speed of light, much faster than the ship should be travelling. What was going on here? None of this made any sense. Maybe his brain was still in low gear, but he distinctly remembered programing a destination into the navigational controls.
Along with the other ships crews, they’d boarded their vessel at the secret base on the far side of Mars, where they’d believed themselves safe from an attack by those religious nuts who expected humanity to roll over and play dead. Creator’s wishes, my ass. Obviously, they’d miscalculated, and there’d been a snake in their Eden.
After two weeks of working and planning, the ship’s passengers and crew had entered the cryogenic tubes for the deep sleep necessary to leave the galaxy. Six ships had set out on the mission with six different destinations. Three thousand humans hoping to save their species. In the event a ship found a suitable planet, they’d contact the others. One of them had to make it. Humanity had to survive.
The civilians aboard had been put to sleep first, then the science team, and finally the other eighteen members of his command crew, leaving him and Vic to batten the hatches for the long voyage.
Assuring themselves that everything was ready for the long trip beyond the Pandora cluster, he and Vic had entered the tubes, turned control of the ship over to Alpha, and activated the cryogenics. At that time, they’d had a destination. If they’d all been frozen, who’d programed the changes and why?
“Colonel, I am unable to download my consciousness to my android body.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“It is missing.”
“Vic must know where your body is. How long before he awakes?”
“Commander Anders should be awake now. I have provided the necessary energy and vitamin beverage to stabilize your anatomical functions. You must consume it all.”
“Yes, Mother. Will do as soon as I get Vic out of bed.”
“I am not your mother.”
“It’s a joke, Alpha. I thought they programed you with a sense of humor.”
“That subroutine is currently offline.”
Great. He shook his head. Just what they needed a super-serious malfunctioning computer. Walking over to the second tube, he pressed the open button. “Alright, you stupid son of a bitch, get out of my bed. Alpha says we’re lost, and she can’t find her body…”
The tube’s casing opened, cutting him off mid-word. Staring in horror at the shriveled, mummified remains of what had been his best friend, he vomited.
“What the hell happened to him?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper, his stomach still spasmming, the tang of vomit assaulting his nose adding to his discomfort.
Panic filled him. What if he were the only one alive? Swallowing the bile threatening to choke him, he moved over to check the other tubes encasing the frozen bodies of his command crew. He checked the controls, reassured when he looked through the small glass plates on each one and saw his crew’s healthy faces.
“Colonel, I have finished my analysis. Cryotube 1 tube malfunctioned early in the journey, but I cannot currently explain why.”
At least she hadn’t said “unknown.” He pursed his lips and took several deep breaths hoping to calm himself. He was the one who should’ve been in that tube. “Are there any other tubes that malfunctioned?”
God, he could grow to hate that word.
“A number of my basic functions have been disabled. Please consume the energy drink I’ve provided. Your heart beat is accelerated and irregular.”
“Of course it is. For god’s sake, I just found my best friend dead, and all you can do is say unknown? How’s that going to help? And don’t you dare say ‘unknown’ again,” he shouted, swiping at the tears spilling down his cheeks. Vic had been like a brother to him.
The ammonia scent of the automatic deck cleaner assaulted his nose as the ship cleaned up his mess. No sense getting mad at Alpha. Whatever had happened to Vic wasn’t her fault. Stepping over to the replicator, he wished he had a gallon of water to drink to clean the taste of vomit from his mouth. No time for a pity party now. Stepping over to the replicator, he took out the glass filled with a pale, yellow, opaque liquid and downed it. It wasn’t as unpleasant as he thought it would be, and he did feel slightly better. “Can you bring life support up to normal parameters for the ship?”
“Affirmative. I began the process as soon as you activated me. Oxygen levels on the command deck and officer quarter levels are optimal. Replicators are online.”
“Activate cryotubes three to twenty. Contact me when the process is done. I’m going to my quarters to get dressed. Begin self-diagnostic. Report to me when you know what’s working and what’s not.”
“Yes, Colonel. Cryotubes activated. Beginning self-diagnostic. This may take some time. I appear to have a number of disabled systems.”
Sighing, hoping everyone else came through the reanimation sequence properly, he headed out of the command nursery as Vic had jokingly called the bay where their cryotubes were stored…
That’s it for today. I’d love to hear your comments.
Now, please take the time to visit the other Mid Week Teasers.