Posts Tagged ‘scifi’

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ONE

And then there was only Jem.

Of the others, Oldpa had gone first, then Oldma, followed by Ma and then Pa. Of them all, losing Ma had been the worst. Afterward the ceremony, and after Ma had made the drop, Jem’s father, who came home seldom, had heaped on Jem all of his frustrations, as if Jem were the cause of all of the death that surrounded him. Those six weeks of his father’s leave from service to mourn his wife had been the worst days of Jem’s twelve years of life.

When Jem had heard through the Chan that his father had gone down from the sky alongside the rest of his crew during an engagement with the navies of Horn, he had cried his eyes out for a few hours, but this was less from his loss than from the fact that he was all alone in the sky, even though in Cirrus he was surrounded by tens of thousands of Cirrans, though few of whom he actually knew.

Jem had turned thirteen shortly before his father, Olwen, died in a firefight with the murderous Horn. This he knew even though his birthday had come and gone uncelebrated the way Ma used to, with a small party and a special present. He knew his birthday had passed because the Bright Star had come directly above Cirrus in the night sky. The Bright Star, as his mother had always told him, was Jem’s star.

From school, Jem had learned that Cirrus was exactly fifty-two thousand feet above Land, no more and no less. It had always been that distance, and would forever remain so.

Jem waited at the entryway to his home near the southern, poorer edge of Cirrus for the wardens to come and take him away. He was never going back to school because with the death of Olwen the family had no money. It was a rather stupid fact that he was now a family of one, and that one—himself, Jem—was to be taken and integrated in with the Janus: the orphans of Cirrus. But his father had been a Janus, and so it all made sense to him now as he waited, his small pack of clothing beside him in a buoy rig: everything is always the same. Nothing changes.

He had expected a phalanx of wardens to come for him, but instead a lone warden drifted out from between two nearby dwellings, stopped, turned his head left and right, his polished helmet flashing in the fading sunlight, then focused in on Jem in the only open doorway along the street. The warden floated slowly toward him. Everything floated in Cirrus: the buildings, the people, the few scattered outside light sources, and with the exception of the trader ships coming in beneath the city or to the edge, everything in Cirrus floated slowly.

“Hey, kid,” the warden said. His visor was up, and the face was less young than Jem had expected. They warden, in fact, looked familiar. “Are you 355721? Are you Jem? Olwen’s son?”

Jem nodded to the man.

“Hmph. You probably don’t remember me. Your dad, Ollie, used to be in my outfit in Janus together. He ever tell you stories about him and Vic and some of the stunts we used to pull?”

Jem shook his head.

“That’s me. Vic.”

Jem nodded.

“Don’t say much, do you?”

Jem shook his head again.

“Just like your old man. Come on. Get your rig. I’m to take you to Janus and make sure your billeted in. The least I can do for Ollie.”

Jem reached over and tapped the tow button on the rig that contained all of his worldly possession, tapped the stud at the juncture of his breast bone, and floated out the door, the rig in tow behind him.

When he got even with Vic, the man put out his hand and stopped him.

“Look, it’s not so bad. There’s lots of kids where you’re going. And just think—no more school. Not a lot of rules like there are outside Janus. The only thing is you’ll have to learn to fight, to stick up for yourself, or they’ll kill you. You understand that, right? I mean, surely you’ve heard all about Janus.”

Jem looked up at the man. His face was broad and his cheeks were nearly outside of his helmet.

“I understand.”

“Good. Let’s go.”

Jem had only ever twice before been to Centro, the Cirrus city central district. He and Vic moved along the Strofe, the main open thoroughfare, and passed hundreds of small shops and dozens of gargantuan, towering buildings. There were more people than Jem had ever seen before, and they all seemed to be going someplace.

There were parents with their children as well, but a glance told the tale. There were few poor children along the Strofe, if any—their clothes were stylish and clean, their float rigs were of the latest style. None of these kids had ever risked taking the drop because their rigs weren’t right. The drop, of course, being the end. The final and early death. A one-way ticket to the Land, fifty-two thousand feet below.

After maybe twenty minutes, Vic turned off the Strofe to the left and they passed through the industrial district.

The last vestige of day had retreated and night had fallen.

Jem looked up and the Bright Star was there, far off center. The factory walls, in fact, blotted out most of the star-filled night sky.

Another warden passed them by, his rig outlined in light, and Vic and the man exchanged nods.

One day, Jem knew, he would become a warden, and when he did, he would never push people around nor kill them the way he had witnessed so many times in the past. A warden had the power of life and death. He or she could shut off a float rig if they happened to have a Key, and there was nothing for it but to take the drop.

Upon thinking of the drop, Jem looked down and saw a massive trader moving beneath them, several hundred yards distant. If Jem flicked off his rig, he would likely fall down directly on it, and the ship might take his broken body off to one of the other Major Cities he had learned about it school. Perhaps Cloisteros, or Metros, or maybe even Garden or Citadel. Or possibly even Horn. Naval vessels, his father had once told him, never attacked a trader, unless the trader had turned pirate. Then, if a trader had done so, it was their duty to blast them out of the sky and send them down to the Land far below, where the savage demi-humans lived. It was thought that anyone surviving the drop was doomed anyway, because no one could live among the demi-humans. It just wasn’t possible.

They turned again and made their way around a large, drab-looking edifice, and across a yawning space of several hundred yards.

“That’s Janus.” Vic pointed to the large, ugly, multi-storied building set far apart from the rest of Cirrus.

“Don’t like it.”

“Of course you don’t. What’s to like?”

In school there had been pictures of a place called Alcatraz. Janus reminded him of that place. First of all, it was large and blocky, with numbers of seemingly separate buildings attached to the one, grim, main building. Second, there were few windows. Low down in front there was a wide, pillared porch with twin double-doors thrown open. There was, however, not a soul in sight.

“You’ll get along fine in Janus. You just have to watch yourself, Jem. I’ll come around from time to time and check up on you. I made a promise to your dad, you see. He made me swear that if anything ever happened to him, I was to keep watch on you. Make sure you made it to adulthood. I aim to keep that promise.”

Jem felt that the man was looking at him, awaiting a response, but as Jem turned to look at him, Vic, the only friend of his father’s of which he had ever been aware, looked away.

The came to the porch.

“Jem.”

Jem turned around to face the man.

“Your rig.”

“Huh?”

“You can’t have a rig in Janus. It wouldn’t do for anyone to be able to leave whenever they wanted to, now would it?”

“I—”

“I’ll make sure it comes back to you. Go ahead. Take it off now.”

Jem couldn’t recall ever being without a rig. Quite suddenly, he burst into hot tears.

“Now that’s enough of that, my boy-o. You can’t walk in there crying like that. It’d be like walking up to the Horn and turning yourself in for being a sub-Horn, which is the way they think of everybody. What I’m saying is, they’ll tear you to pieces, so it’s best to dry those eyes, square your shoulders and walk in there.”

Jem nodded and wiped his eyes with his sleeve.

“In fact, if I were you, I’d pick the meanest looking kid in the place, walk up to him and punch him right in the face and keep punching him to somebody pulls you off of him. It’s the only way you’ll earn any respect, and for damn sure, it’s the fastest way.”

Jem nodded and Vic touseled his cornsilk blonde hair.

“You look like your dad, Jem, and that’s saying a lot. You’ll do fine.”

Jem unhooked his rig and the harness came free. Before they both could lose it to the sky above, Vic punched the stud and it dropped into his arms.

The tow rig settled down to the steps behind Jem.

Vic floated in space in front of him, and then Jem could see it all quite clearly: the vast space between Janus and the other buildings on the edge of Cirrus made Janus an island unto itself, if one didn’t have a float-rig. Janus, for all intents and purposes, was Alcatraz.

And Jem hadn’t committed any crime, other than losing his parents.

It stung. Jem was trapped. The only direction for him lay through the doorway at his back.

Vic floated off several yards, turned, gave Jem a smile, then floated away across the impassable gulf of sky.

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It is my firm belief that Captains Malicious is one of the best science fiction/space opera books ever written. I’m rather proud of it, since I’m one of the co-authors. Also, my hat is off to TR Tom Harris for his excellent writing. Here’s the beginning of the book, a hefty portion of Chapter One:

CHAPTER 1

Captain, I don’t like this,” said Commander Javon Steele as he hunched over the proximity screen, shielding it with his body from the glare of the lights on the bridge. “It sure looks like a six-master. I’ve heard rumors of one prowling around, and this could be her.”

“And you don’t think we can take on a little six-master?” Captain Robert Kincaid asked with a smile. He remained seated in his command chair, knowing that joining his Executive Officer at the screen might be read as panic and negate the air of confidence he was trying to convey to his bridge crew. He could tell by their fidgeting and furtive glances that they were growing nervous knowing full well that if they could detect the other ship, then the alien warcraft could detect them as well. And if this was the rumored Vixxie DN-Z then trying to outrun her would be a waste of time. Their fate was sealed the moment the image on Steele’s screen resolved clear enough to show the gravity signature of the powerful starship, along with her six deadly dots of light.

Steele left the proximity screen and went to where his captain sat, with legs crossed and appearing completely at ease. The tall, slender black man leaned in close so the others on the bridge couldn’t hear.

“Robert, we cannot go up against a ship that big. I know it, you know it…and so do they,” he lifted his hand to indicate the remainder of the bridge crew.
Kincaid kept a placid smile. “Your look of absolute dread isn’t helping things, Javon. The crew is scared enough already.”

“This is serious, Captain,” Steele said, growing frustrated. “And by the way, you ain’t foolin’ nobody. Everyone knows we’re in some deep rhino dung when you start wearing that goofy grin. They’d feel better if you were the irascible, top-deck-dictator you normally are.”

“Dictator! Dammit, Javon, I’m a captain, not a dictator.”

“Six of one….”

Kincaid took a deep breath and let the smile fade away. Shedding his fake countenance made him feel better since it was so out of character for him to mask his feelings just for the sake of his mostly-rookie crew. And his XO was right, it did betray the seriousness of the threat they faced.

There were a total of twenty-two men and women aboard the Malicious, with eight on the bridge, including himself and Steele. Since going to General Quarters, the tension within the ship had notched up palpably. The remainder of his crew were either nervously sweating it out at weapons batteries or sat huddled in passageways with damage control equipment at the ready—just in case. The news of the possible six-master was no doubt spreading rapidly.

Robert narrowed his focus on the forward viewport. The enemy ship was out there still light-years away, yet it represented the gravest threat his crew had ever faced—and everyone knew it. It was now time for some serious captaining. After all, one didn’t sit in this chair because you knew how to coddle a crew. You sat here because you knew how to survive.

“Helm, bring us to one-eight-zero degrees, down fifteen, all ahead flank.”
Steele backed away from the command chair and gave his Captain a nod.
“The Drift Current?” he asked.

“Yep, the Drift Current. If this does turn out to be the Vixx’r forty-gun dreadnaught then she hasn’t been in the Reaches long enough to get a lay of the land. We just may catch her off-guard.”

“It’s worth a try,” Steele said. “Seeing that we’re all going to die otherwise.”

“Have faith, Number Two. Besides, they’re going up against the Malicious. They may be aliens, but they can still shit bricks, and I’m sure that’s what they’re doing right about now.”

“Target tacking to starboard, sir,” Lt. Sean Sinclair reported from tactical.
“They’re coming after us, Captain.”

Kincaid noticed the sudden attitude shift on the part of the bridge crew—the abrupt passage from uncertainty to a resolve to carry on. This was what these people had trained for—even if hastily and mainly on-the-job. Yet already his young crew had four successful raids under their belts, and with each they’d gained proficiency, experience, and most of all, courage. Of course, none of their other prey thus far had been a 40-gun six-master.
From pollywogs to shellbacks in such a short time, Kincaid thought. I’m proud of you people.

Robert Kincaid shook his head as the series of strange terms came to mind. He had no idea where they originated, just their context as they referred to a time long ago and on a far-distant planet called Earth. He often wondered what life was like back then, in the days of real seafaring pirates, when all a man had was the deck beneath his feet and the wind in his sails? He’d read it was glorious.

Many of the terms and traditions from those ancient nautical times were still in use. Sure, the sails they now unfurled were space-bending neutron projectors, and the winds they chased were ribbons of dark matter that guided the creation of the unpredictable and often dangerous stellar warp-currents they sought to catch. Still, the experience had to be the same. And now, like then, the price of failure was death.

Captain Robert Kincaid—formerly of the United Peoples of Earth, 9th Tactical Assault Group—was a seasoned veteran of space warfare and experienced enough to know the reality they faced. It was simple: They would either live today, or they would die. There was no in between. And yet there was still hope, a way for Robert to cheat destiny’s deadly stare.
All he had to do was reach the Drift Current in time.

Take a few hundred trillion tons of the rich soup of the interstellar medium, lace it with a jumble of strands of invisible dark matter the size of a planetary system, and then stretch it over three parsecs of space. What you’d end up with is a region of space called the Drift Current, an almost invisible, nebula-like pool of gravitational spider-silk, strings, ropes and cables. The masts of interstellar starships, with their neutron projectors and electromagnetic accumulators, are but teacups in the roaring maelstrom of swirling, stellar stew. Navigationally, the Current is a hazard for even the most-seasoned helmsman, and its expanding boundaries are carefully marked on star charts as close to actuality as possible in light of the ever-changing conditions.

Captain Kincaid had witnessed what happened to ships caught in the Current. The closest analogy was watching a vessel dashed to pieces on a coral reef. The trick for him would be to lure the Vixx’r into the Current without diving Malicious into the morass as well. It wouldn’t be easy. Not one bit.

“They’re still closing, sir. Weapons range in five minutes.”

“Very good, Mister Sinclair, steady as she goes.”

Robert pressed a button on the armrest of his command chair. “Attention crew of the Malicious. Target will be in range in five minutes, and even though she may outgun us two to one, it’s a pretty good bet she won’t be expecting what we can bring to bear, so we’ll have the element of surprise on our side. Cannon crew: Wait until we’ve made the turn before locking on target. Once we change course, we’ll only have one chance to deliver a salvo, so make it good. And there’s going to be some rough seas for a few minutes after we drop anchor, so factor that in before committing. Anchor crew: Stand ready to drop on my command. Everything must go smoothly; that’s an imperative. Four minutes everyone. Stay frosty. This is where the fun begins. Captain out.”

Robert turned to Javon Steele. “Get down to forward steering and make sure the anchor crew gets it right. We can’t afford to be off by even a degree.”

“Roger that. I’m on my way.” Steele ran from the bridge. It would take him forty seconds to reach the small compartment five decks below the bridge where a nervous anchor crew waited.

“Picking up current anomalies, Captain,” the helmsman reported. “I’m having to fight her quite a bit.”

“That’s the idea, Mister Devlin. Keep us in the channel the best you can, and get ready for a course change to zero-one-five, up twenty. Execute with anchor drop. On my order, not before.”

“Aye, sir.”

Robert looked out through the forward viewport just as the stars began to change color, shifting more to the blue, while their single points of light began to stretch out. They were entering the edge of the Drift Current, and if the anchor wasn’t set precisely, they would be sucked all the way in, with deadly consequences.

“Blast detected from the Vixxie ship, Captain!” Sinclair reported. “Tracking on target, contact in fifteen seconds.”

“Crap,” Robert said. This is going to be close.

“Captain?” the helmsman cried out.

“I know. Five more seconds.”

When Robert saw the surrounding starlight suddenly streak to port he pressed the intercom button. “Anchors away; prepare for heavy rolls! Helm, execute course change!”

The ship suddenly shifted to starboard, sending the bridge crew surging against their restraints, inertial compensators pressed to the max. The rest of the crew should have been similarly strapped in by now—and if not, there were going be some serious injuries. The Malicious swung by on a course now one-hundred-eight degrees out from her original heading. The stars in the viewport became nothing more than streaks of white and blue lines across the field of view.

Kincaid had a small tac monitor attached to his command chair and on it he could see a graphic representation of the Malicious as she followed an arcing course to starboard—just as the monstrous alien warship shot past them to port. Flashes of cannon fire erupted from the Vixx’r ship’s weapons deck, and for a moment his blood froze in his veins. He watched with relief as the plasma shells from the enemy vessel folded in upon themselves—an effect of the Current—revealing the alien’s inexperience with this region of space.

“Cut the anchor!” Kincaid commanded. Commander Steele was a split second ahead of him, as the Malicious broke free from her radically-arcing course and shot away from the Drift Current at a ninety-degree angle.

“Fire!” Kincaid shouted.

From their new vantage point behind the Vixx’r dreadnaught, multiple clear targeting sights were presented to his hungry aft gun crews. Unlike the Vixx’r, his gunners were quite familiar with the odd effects the Current would play on their shots and had already compensated for them. Now Robert watched as the Vixx’r ship was bathed in small puff-balls of fire and light, a result of his crew’s dead-on accuracy.

“Fire at will!” Kincaid yelled into the intercom, simultaneously—it turned out—with the first jolt of the ship as the main port cannon unleashed a deadly salvo of fire.

Apart from the hellish onslaught from the guns of the Malicious, the unfathomable clash between regular and dark matter in this region of space also wrought its own brand of havoc upon the warp-sails of the alien starship. She lost all control and began to drift helplessly to starboard, drawn in by the invisible hand of the Current.

Even more holes were blasted into her superstructure just below the main deck from the accurate aim of his gunners; however, Kincaid watched with interest as one of their plasma shells missed the side of the alien ship altogether. To his delight, the treacherous Drift Current plucked up the errant shot, and by a strand of dark matter, swept it back toward the aft mast, shearing it off completely. The giant, billowing sail broke apart and began to flutter off into space, appearing to be under the influence of some hidden breeze.

“Sighting on target, sir; we’re really giving it to them now!” Sinclair turned in his seat.

Kincaid’s smile—this time—was genuine. “Let me know when they can no longer return fire, Mr. Sinclair. I think I might want a souvenir from this battle.”

“Aye, Captain.” His weapon’s officer swiveled back to his panel. “Readings indicate…plasma ignition onboard.” At that moment a brilliant sunburst lit up the bridge through the forward viewport. Hands lifted to cover sensitive eyes, even as the monitors polarized to block out the damaging light.

“Damn…is she gone?”

“No sir; that was her magazine. She’s…sir…she’s dead in the water.”

“Cease fire!” Kincaid shouted, and watched as the salvos from his ship halved in number.

“Cease fire, dammit!”

Finally the deadly eruptions dropped to zero. Their blood is up, he thought.
Years of Vixx’r occupation has made a simple command not nearly enough. By God, they hate them as much as I do.

“Open a ship-wide channel, Mister Sinclair. I want to hear what’s going on below decks.”

The sound of cheering washed across the bridge.

“Well done, people,” Robert said.

“We did it, Cap’n!” an ecstatic voice called out, and he wondered who it was? He couldn’t help but smile.

“You sure did, and you all deserve medals, if pirates gave out medals. Now secure from General Quarters. Set condition yellow. Damage control crews stow all gear. Gunners take inventory and then secure all armament.”

Steele arrived back on the bridge a few minutes later, a big grin on his chocolate brown face. “I see now how spending your misplaced youth wandering around this part of space finally came in handy. Great job Captain.”

“Same to you, Mister Steele.”

“I guess we can learn something from this little mishap, like make sure we know what we’re up against before committing to an engagement.”

“What, and take all the fun out of pirating? No way! But our job here isn’t done, not yet.”

Steele frowned. “What do you mean?”

“That,” Kincaid pointed at the viewscreen. The Vixx’r ship still struggled on the edge of the Drift Current, appearing as though she might break free at any moment. Somewhere aboard the dying ship, there was a Vixxie at his post, working earnestly to get the ship to clear space.

“What about it?” Steele said. “Done deal.”

“If we leave them they’ll eventually make their way out of the Current. We have to go mop up the mess we’ve made. And for our trouble, I think a six-master should be a fair trade.”

“Make that a five-master now, Captain…for what good it will do. We barely have enough crew for the Malicious.”

Kincaid frowned and pursed his lips. “That is a problem; a fancy new starship and with no one to drive her.”

“She’s not so new, not anymore.” Steele now mirrored Robert’s furrowed forehead. “You know every time you make a pitch for new recruits you run the risk of being found out. And then what would we do if the Vixxie have you for dinner?”

“Hopefully I’d give them indigestion.”

“Robert—”

Kincaid raised his hand. “I know, Javon, and thanks for your concern, but we both know the time will come eventually.”

Steele grimaced. “I’m your friend and shipmate, but that thing there—the dreadnaught—could be a lot more serious than the revelation that you’re the infamous Captain Malicious. It could have some very dire consequences for the rest of the Human population in the Reaches.”

Kincaid nodded. “Rest assured, Commander, plans have been made to prevent that from happening. We just have to trust the UPE when that time comes.”

Steele’s frown turned into a sour smirk. “Trust the government to do the right thing, like defend the Reaches against the Sludgers? We all know how that turned out.”

“That was different, Javon, and you know it.” And then he smiled. “Besides, all they have to do in this case is betray one person—me! I’m sure even the government of the UPE can’t screw that up!”

It was a young graduate student in the mid-21st century named Holland Norvell who first came up with the formula for faster-than-light travel.
While working on his doctoral thesis in quantum mechanics, Norvell kept hitting the brick wall of a mysterious thing called “gravity,” something that had never been previously well-defined. From not long after the time of Sir Isaac Newton, gravity had been labeled as “the weakest of the nuclear forces,” the implication being that gravity had something to do with the atom and with the laws of cohesion and adhesion. But nothing seemed to fit the model of the universe the young, eccentric genius envisioned—that of mankind traveling throughout the stars in real-time and not over centuries as was the present level of technology.

As the historians record, in the wee hours of the morning, a week before his thesis defense, Norvell picked up his yogurt spoon and dropped it. He picked it up again, and once more let it fall to the table. Again and again he repeated the process. Lift the spoon. Drop the spoon.

It’s then believed he asked the empty room, “What am I looking at?”

His own voice answered: “Gravity.”

Norvell’s mind must have then gone off into a fugue state or a black hole or something—the other side of the universe perhaps—because he was soon asking aloud, “But what would it be like if I dropped the spoon on the surface of something other than a gigantic electromagnet spinning in space?”
It dawned on him that no one in recorded history had ever asked that question, and as the mythology goes, Norvell then opened his computer and erased the title of his thesis, and replaced it with large block letters that read:
GRAVITY IS DEAD.

He then began to reconstruct the universe based upon the supposition that there was no such thing as gravity, that there was only electromagnetism.
The day of Norvell’s thesis defense came and went, and nobody saw him and he wouldn’t answer his pad. He emerged from his room three weeks later, much thinner, yet with the answer to his question. Within that time he had figured out how galaxies adhere and why they pool into squashed spirals. It was so obvious to him now. So-called gravity was instantaneous.
Einstein must have turned over in his grave so fast that he blurred to invisibility.

From Norvell’s early theories came many more, including the equation that permitted travel to the stars.

In the Captain’s lounge aboard the Malicious, Steele raised a glass of rare specialty port and toasted, “To Norvell!”

“To Norvell!” Kincaid replied. After draining the glass of its potent contents, Robert got down to business. “As soon as we get the tow lines secured, let’s make best speed back to base. Then we’ll take my flitter back to Ione. We should be home by late afternoon the day after tomorrow.” “So you’re still going through with it?” Steele asked.

“I don’t have a choice. You said it yourself: we barely have enough crew for the Malicious. I need bodies, and I need them now. And after that, there’s a meeting scheduled at KST that I don’t want to miss. Gaolic’s going to be there, I believe.”

“You need to be careful, Robert. That old Vixxie is a patient son-of-a-bitch, while you’re the most impatient man I know. That’s not a good combination. Also, I wouldn’t expect much out of your friends at the Duck. It takes a special breed of fool to do what we do.”

Kincaid smiled. “I hear that. But I’ve only invited the ones I believe have what it takes.”

“What’s that—a terminal illness and with nothing left to lose?”

“You are one sour cynic, aren’t you, Commander? I’m expecting you to make the meeting. I’m going to need your back-up.”

“I’ll be there. In fact I think it might be quite entertaining watching you explain our mission to a bunch of landlubbers.” Steele them lifted his glass and observed the dark burgundy color through the light. “Good stuff this port of yours. Beats the hell out of the swill they’re brewing in the Reaches these days.”

“The recipe’s been in my family for hundreds of years. A distant branch of the family still owns a winery back on Earth—or so I’ve been told. I’ve never been there myself.”

“You could go, you know?”

“To Earth?” Kincaid shook his head. “No way, I have to stay here and nursemaid this glorious revolution we have going against the Vixx’r Occupation of the Reaches.”

“I don’t know that it’s technically a revolution yet, not until….”

“Until what?”

“Until the people rise up. That’s why they call it…an uprising. It seems to me everyone is settling down for the long run, everyone except us.”

“That’s why I can’t go to Earth. Someone needs to light a fire under them. Too many are accepting the current situation as a permanent state of affairs.”

Javon Steele nodded.

At that moment Sinclair’s voice intruded over the comm. “Captain, tow lines are secure. We’ve got the ship.”

“Very good, Mister Sinclair. Captain out.”

“I still say you should cancel the meeting at the Duck,” Steele said. “We can find recruits in a less public way, more one-on-one.”

“I have to go, Javon. Besides, I know all these people; have my whole life. I’ll be fine.” Robert Kincaid was tired, and he wore his exhaustion on his face and in his every movement. He set the empty glass on the coffee table. “Give the word Mister Steele: Best speed back to base. Our destiny awaits.”

Get Captains Malicious.

 

 

 

These are friends of mine that have either been there since the beginning or that I have befriended along the way. Clicking their picture will take you to their amazon author pages where you can check out their books.

Billy Kring

Billy Kring

Billy Kring is a writer and actor. He has worked as a Border Patrol Agent, and as a consultant on terrorism and international border issues in such places as Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pan Pacific. He has also written a romantic suspense novel under the name B.G. Kring, because his wife asked him to.

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor

I was born and raised in Bryan, Texas a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I started writing stories down when I was ten after one of my older sisters (thanks, Gari!) read an assignment I’d written for school and thought it was hysterical.

David Carus

David Carus

David Carus, author of “Super Artist – How To Take Flight As A Creator” and “Hip Hop Will Save The World” was born in Salinas, California, one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. He graduated from Georgetown University, double majoring in Government and English, in 2001 and returned home to make a difference in his community by teaching English at his old high school.

Nick Russell

Nick Russell

Nick Russell is the author of Highway History and Back Road Mystery, Meandering Down The Highway – A Year On The Road With Fulltime RVers, Work Your Way Across The USA – You Can Earn A Living And Travel Too!, The Frugal RVer, Overlooked Florida, Overlooked Arizona, Dog’s Run, and the bestselling Big Lake mystery series.

Cleve Sylcox

Cleve Sylcox

Cleve Sylcox has been writing short stories most of his life. He writes in a variety of genres with an emphasis on the strange and bizarre. His works include a fascinating story of angels and demons called Nicboth, where he combines biblical knowledge with his gift of imagination.

Thomas Jenner

Thomas Jenner

Originally from Los Angeles, California, currently living in Austin, Texas. Tom’s unique imagination runs at high speed, as if whole universes reside within it. He approaches storytelling based on what it would look like as a movie rather than how it should read in a book, which gives his stories an interesting flow – different than the norm but still gripping on the mind. Tom started an entertainment company with Angeline Perkins, a digital artist and character designer. They bend toward survival horror, but also have a strong affinity for supernatural, sci-fi and action. He cites his main inspirations as The Matrix, Mission Impossible, Stargate, 24, The X-Files, and The Walking Dead.

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant published his first novel DUTCH CURRIDGE in 2010, and has followed it with two more in the series. (SPIRIT TRAP has just been published in May of 2014.) He has also published two books of poetry and several short stories, including “Doll’s Eyes” in Subterranean Press’ IMPOSSIBLE MONSTERS. Tim also writes and records music, having released albums under his own name, 2Take Tim, Othy and with the international band Ramshackle Day Parade.

This may be the start of something. I woke up and had to get up and write this down. I hate it when that happens:

I’m calling this “The Tribe”.

Specimen #22 A-1959.

Report: Cassette number 22, side A, which is the first cassette discovered from the Narwhal Expedition, which set out from Newfoundland on October 1, 1958 in an attempt to find a narwhal specimen for the Royal Museum. Seven men and two women comprised the original expedition. They have never been found, nor has the wreckage of the Occident, the four-hundred tonne ice-breaker frigate which was the expedition’s sole transport. The cassettes were found in a hut on the northern coast of Quittinirpaaq Island on the Artic Sea. The recording equipment and the cassettes obtained from the hut have been proven by serial number to be the registered equipment of the Expedition. Notably, the recording devices and the tapes were originally calibrated to the ultra high frequency of whale song. Had the sounds contained on the tape been made upon a standard magnetic cassette, they would not have been recorded. It is believed that the ice, which may well have taken the lives of the original expedition, is responsible for the pristine condition of the tapes. Tape #22, side A, is the final cassette of the batch, and was in the housing of the AC Delco tape recorder that was to be used by the expedition for recording whale song. The Crown will not release these tapes to the public or to any foreign power.

Below is a transcript of this last tape. Note that the voice is sonorous and slow, as if practiced. It is believed that the speaker is female, from nothing other than the contents of the recording alone.

“ ‘…And Tiamat ruled the Tribe for thirty-three and ten thousand years ere she fell, and the Tribe splintered, but the Tribe is never lost.’ ”

“This is the last of the speaking wafers, so it is fitting that it begin with the last line of our oral scripture. The words are like fire in my mind, here in the frozen wasteland. The cold could never touch us, however, and we have retreated here, though some still walk among you. This act, this message, were it known by the Tribe, would result in my banishment forever. But then I am already banished, after a fashion. Time is not marked by calendar or watch among us, nor by the rising or setting of the sun. It is simply…forgotten.

“If it is a mortal hearing these words, then you hear the words of the immortals. It is said the gods cannot die. But where are they, I ask? Where are the old ones?

———–

Spooky, neh? We’ll see where it goes.