Launch Sequence – Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FIVE

“Granite Base, this is Alpha-1. Launch Sequence stand-by.”

“Roger Alpha-1. Begin activation sequence.”

I listened to the comm chatter from Launch Control and the pilots while my goggles displayed vast amounts of information. The engine bay information window was bordered in red that turned to yellow as the Icarus’ power plant ramped up for blast-off. There were only two weapons pods, both defensive in nature, though I wondered how effective they would be should we pop out of the mountain only to find a thousand Kai warships waiting for us. I cycled through the acceleration creches, finding my parents’ two rows down from me, both a healthy green.

“Admiral Shaw, we’re cleared for launch,” the pilot’s voice said over the comm. Captain Jun was a female according to the display data next to her name, but she sounded like the gruffest, toughest Marine my brain could imagine.

“Roger that,” my father replied in a tight voice. “Let’s light ‘em up and get the hell off this rock ASAP.”

I turned my attention back to the engineering window. The fusion reactors had been steady at five percent until a few minutes ago when they began to slowly climb into the thirty percent range. I watched, holding my breath involuntarily, as the numbers inched into the low forties, then suddenly ramped up to ninety before leveling off and continuing their journey to one hundred. I expected the ship to vibrate or hum just like in all the movies, but I felt and heard nothing. I wasn’t sure if the gel in my creche was dampening any sensations. I could still hear the muffled noises of the last few sailors climbing into their own creches after securing the rest of the passengers. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FOUR

Mom and Dad talked for a while, though not before sending me off to a corner of the room to read. I had finally calmed down enough to begin once again daydreaming of the strange, shiny ship being prepped a dozen meters down the corridor from me. I felt ashamed that I had cried like a baby, but my mother forced me to admit I’d sneaked enough looks at the holos on the Wire to have a terrifying grasp of what the Kai did to their enemies.

Both Mom and Dad admitted to being just as frightened. When I asked how come they didn’t seem scared, my dad looked away when my mom said they had both done their share of crying over the last few years and didn’t have much—if any—tears left in them. The thought of crying so much that I couldn’t cry ever again scared me almost as much as what I’d seen the Kai do to our colonies. The only thing more terrifying, according to Dad, was how once the Wire went dead, truly awful things happened.

There were rumors the aliens harvested humans for food, used them in disturbing genetic experiments, even dissolving every living person in giant vats of acid. The tales that made me shiver were the ones describing how the Kai set everyone on fire.

I’d burned myself with a nanosolder tool when I was eight. It took almost a month for the wound to completely heal, and hurt even with the pain blockers the doctor prescribed. I shivered again at the thought of that kind of pain all over my body. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

THREE

I tried to raise a single eyebrow again, as this was certainly different than any of the True Responsibilities I’d imagined.

“Hey, good one!” he said with a laugh, and it even made my mom chuckle. “You almost got it.” He changed back to Serious Dad. “Denny, you don’t pay much attention to the news, do you?”

“Not really,” I answered.

Adult news was usually boring unless it had footage from one of the colony worlds under attack, or an important space battle (but those were typically labeled “disasters”). Mom never let me watch any of those news stories, and had done her best to firewall my comm so I couldn’t pull grisly details (and pictures or video) from the Wire. I knew why she didn’t want me to watch them, at least I thought I did, and it had to do with her own experiences in combat.

Mostly, the news always sounded like a bunch of voices all talking at once. Today in blah blah blah, this bad thing happened, a lot more bad stuff happened, here’s the weather and then sports. I did my best to tune it out, but because of my accelerated schooling, thanks to both of my parents being officers in the military, I knew a lot more than most of my peers about what was happening in the galaxy.

I didn’t seek out the news that most adults paid attention to, but I didn’t ignore it either. A lot of the stuff going on around the galaxy made no sense to me for a long time, but I’d learned a lot of “context” (a concept I still struggled with) which made connections between people, places, and events easier to understand. Ever since I found out about Mom and what happened to her at Janus, I paid more attention than ever to any news that entered the small bubble of my world. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

TWO

The elevator opened up into a cavern so large I couldn’t see the far wall. Part of what was blocking my view of the other wall was a starship. I didn’t know how I could know that based on the limited section of it that I could see, but inside, I knew. There was an army of men and women in white lab coats scurrying around the ship like ants around their queen. I looked up toward the ceiling, but there didn’t seem to be one. The walls rose straight up until the darkness swallowed everything. The ship didn’t look like any ship I had ever seen before. It wasn’t that it was so alien that I couldn’t have imagined it, but it was just so… different.

I loved science fiction, both books and movies, though I hadn’t been allowed to see any of the scarier adult versions. I thought I had an idea of what every ship ever conceived of would or could look like. This one didn’t resemble a rocket, the old NASA space shuttles, nor even the Terran Navy’s almost uncountable variations in ships. It didn’t look like any of the Kai ships I had seen on the news and in documentaries.

As I walked along the new yellow line in the floor that began to glow once we stepped out of the elevator, I tried to figure out where the cockpit was, where the engines were, where the airlock for letting crew members in and out could possibly be on the massive vessel before me. The ship looked like a giant, slightly flattened egg with a polished silver outer hull that returned weird images of us as we walked by it. The reflective surface made me think of a funhouse mirror in the way that it distorted every shape it captured. Twice as we continued toward wherever Mom and the yellow line led us, I noticed that some of the reflections would simply wink out, almost as if we had become vampires for a few seconds. Continue reading

The Definitive History of Ronald K. Drumpf’s Presidency: The First 14 Days

CHAPTER ONE – WEEK TWO
White House Waiting Room – 9:30PM Eastern Standard Time

“They’re ready for you, Mr. President,” the Chief of Staff said.

“Did you hear something?” President Drumpf asked his Secretary of Defense as they stood in the waiting room going over the president’s speech.

“I don’t think so, Mr. President,” Secretary of Defense Ralphie Thaddeus Cruise said, hoping that it was the right answer. Wrong answers had caused the previous Secretary of Defense to be fired three days into the new administration.

“Mr. President?” Don Kaylic said again. “It’s time for your speech.”

“There it is again,” President Drumpf said, looking around the waiting room. He spotted an almost invisible man near the door. “Oh, it’s you Don,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s pretty hard to remember you even exist sometimes.”

“Yes, Sir,” his Chief of Staff replied, blending back into the wallpaper.

“Well, let’s get this over with,” Drumpf grunted.

The 45th President of the United States of America and Greatest Nation On Planet Earth and Maybe the Galaxy led the Secretary of Defense from the waiting room into the hallway. They walked for almost a minute in silence until President Drumpf put his hand on Cruise’s arm, bringing the man to a stop.

“I’m supposed to thank you, Ralphie,” Drumpf said in his most presidential voice. “But we all know it was me who solved this important problem. I mean, you did help a little bit, but not as much as I did. So it really should be you thanking me.”

The longing desire in the SecDef’s eyes made the president’s smile widen into a feral grin.

“You know how to thank me, Ralphie,” President Drumpf said, pushing down on the Defense Secretary’s shoulder until the man was on his knees. Continue reading

“The Big Bhang” published!

Right. “The Big Bhang” is now live at Amazon.com and all countries where Amazon has a presence. Amazon gets exclusivity for 90 days, but then it will go live at iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Google Play / Kobo / elsewhere.

“The Big Bhang” – Amazon store link
375 pages
Marijuana themes / Profanity / Stuff You Shouldn’t Be Reading

"The Big Bhang" - Science Fiction + Stoner Fiction

“The Big Bhang” – Science Fiction + Stoner Fiction

Henchman: Ordering A Superweapon Online

I sneaked past Kellie’s desk while she was on the phone. Dr. Carbon’s door was open, so I stepped in. He was seated at his desk, and looked up when he heard (or sensed, I still wasn’t exactly sure what Dr. Carbon’s full capabilities were) me enter.

“Ah, Mike, thanks for coming so quickly,” he said.

I froze almost in mid-step. I’d interacted with Dr. Carbon quite often in my time with him, but I was sure I was just another faceless hireling to him, a name on a check or a jail roster whom the attorney had to bail out. If he knew my name, he probably had it in a file that he’d been reading just so he could address me properly before firing me. I had no idea what I’d done wrong, but to be called into a Vil’s office out of the blue… It wasn’t usually a pleasant experience from what I’d heard.

“Please, Mr. Williams, sit down,” Dr. Carbon said, pointing casually to one of the chairs in front of his desk.

I sat, wary of the chair being a trap, my mind visualizing webs or straps locking me in so he could tell me why he was about to toss me into a volcano. I have no idea why I was so paranoid, but the mind control incident had happened only a few days ago, and the Supes and Vils pretty much share the same information grapevine.

“Mike, the reason I know your name is because you’re a good worker.”

I froze again, this time in surprise that he might be able to read minds.

“The reason I’m an A-lister, Mike, is because I pay attention to details.”

I nodded, letting him know I respected him and enjoyed working for him because he paid attention to details enough to be an A-lister. At least I hoped that’s what my nod conveyed.

“A big part of the details,” he continued, “are the people working for me. I know most citizens and Supers only see you and your fellow associates as faceless goons, and too many of my own associates, the C-listers and below, make the same mistake. You’ve always done great work for me, and HR knows that any time your name comes up on the rotation, they are to do whatever it takes to get you back with us for another six months.

“And as an employee who is one of two on the HR list to get such special treatment, it means whenever I have a tough job, one that I dare not trust to anyone but someone I consider fully capable of successfully completing it, you and Washington are at the top of my list.”

I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t too surprised to hear Washington’s name. The guy scared the hell out of me, scared the hell out of most people, including the Vils he worked for. I tried to imagine what kind of scheme Dr. Carbon had cooked up that he had to call me in and praise me.
Continue reading

Gaming the System (short story)

(Probably rough, hasn’t really been edited yet, just sort of banged this out tonight! I could probably expand this to a novella if not more. Maybe a serial?)

ONE

I listened as I stood in the darkness, but the only sound I heard was the thumping of my heart and my own breathing. With my back against the wall, I inched forward as quietly as possible. The killer was somewhere ahead of me, armed with a chrome or stainless automatic. I wondered where the fuck Tillman was. My partner and I had split on at the entrance, with me taking the stairs while he went around back.

It was stupid, and we were going to catch hell for it. Sergeant Hines would be just the first in a chain of superiors taking a piece of our ass for chasing an armed gunman into a nearly-finished office tower without waiting for backup. The they didn’t watch this guy execute two men less than twenty feet from us either. They didn’t see the look in his eyes as he stared at us while putting a bullet in the second victim’s skull. The perp was insane, or he was the hardest of the hard-nosed killers that organizations like the Russian mob used to take care of problems.

Then there’s the fact that Tillman and I had each burned through an entire twelve round magazine from no less than fifteen feet away, and this asshole only started laughing as he turned and ran across 5th Street and into a construction site. Neither of us spotted a blood trail, which means we wasted twenty-four bullets at almost point-blank range and came up empty. Last time Tillman and I hit the range, we were thirty out of thirty at thirty feet, and twenty-six out of thirty at twelve. Twelve feet and a moving target that randomly swiveled to present an inch of surface area to hit.

I heard the soft scraping of feet ahead of me. I counted to three then hit my flashlight, hoping to blind him. I barely thumbed the switch on the flashlight when my vision whited out from the continuous fire that belched from his weapon.

“Fuck you!” I screamed after diving to the floor and behind a pile of drywall sheets. “Emerson P.D.! Drop your weapon!” I prayed Tillman heard the shots and was running his ass off to get to me. Continue reading

It’s Harder This Way – Chapter One

And finally tonight, many, many, MANY readers have been waiting for some sign of life concerning a sequel to “It’s Better This Way.” Well… “It’s Harder This Way” is getting dusted off and is in the queue. Here’s a sample. Keep in mind, it hasn’t been heavily edited (or even lightly edited). Enjoy! I’ll update as more gets written ;).

1. Onward and Forward

“Mr. Greggs, sir?” Spider asked, skidding to a halt in front of me.

“Spider,” I said, trying not to laugh at his name, “just call me Evan.”

“Evan, sir,” he said, fumbling the words. I could tell that it was hard for him to keep the Mister title from slipping out. “There’s an army scout coming up the road.” He looked back, as if the scout had been stalking him, then back at me. I nodded for him to go on. “He’s coming to you and Mist… Tony.”

“Okay,” I said, glancing over at Tony Galliardi. He shrugged. “Make sure he finds his way to us, and make sure no one says anything. Go.”

We watched him run back down the road, an all-out sprint at first, then after a sheepish look back at us, he smoothed out into a jog. I picked up my pack, shouldered it, waited for Tony to do the same, then began walking south again along the Willamette Highway.

“Who do you think taught him manners like that?” Tony asked as we put one foot in front of the other.

“No clue,” I said with a chuckle. “Is he a Farm kid, or from one of the outer reaches?”

“He’s one of the Davies’ kids. From up on the northeast edge.”

“Huh,” I said, trying to place the family to the location. “I don’t remember them. Seems like a good kid, though.”

“Let’s just hope he doesn’t fall on his knife while trying to slice into an apple.”

I laughed, imagining the gangly teenager tripping over his own two feet, especially around council members. We stopped when we came to the small bridge over Big Marsh Creek. Tony gave the halt signal to the… soldiers behind us. I didn’t want to call them soldiers, as they definitely weren’t that. They passed the signal back down the line, where it would eventually reach the rear, almost a mile behind us. Continue reading

Chronvalescent (a story in the “Departure” universe)

If you’ve never read “Departure,” then this story might not make as much sense. Then again, it might not make much sense mostly because I wrote it…

NOTES: Not edited, so there will be mistakes/errors. I am around 85% finished with the story, which has sort of come on strong over the last few days out of nowhere. I AM planning on a sequel to “Departure” (and in effect, this story as well), which will be titled “Arrival.” This story together with “Departure” will give a more complete backstory to “Arrival.”

CHAPTER ONE

“We have to go, Drea,” Melly said, tugging my arm.

“I don’t want to,” I said. She heard the sulking, near-whining in my voice. “Well, I don’t. I want to stay here with you.”

“You can’t,” she said, her voice heavy with emotion. “You know you can’t. We’ve talked about this for years.”

“I don’t care,” I said.

“Bullshit. You DO care. You’ve seen what happens when you miss your departure.”

“I don’t care,” I said again, feeling every bit the petulant child that I sounded.

“Then you lied all these years,” she said with sudden anger as she let go and pushed me away. “Because if you cared, you wouldn’t do that to me. You wouldn’t make me watch it.”

“It’s not fair, goddammit!” I nearly screamed. I only kept my voice down because the Hackers were everywhere in this part of the Bower.

“I know, baby,” she said, her face immediately back to the crushing defeat she’d tried to hide from me for the last few months. Hell, the last year or more, but it really began on my 39th birthday. She stroked my cheek, trying to wipe away my single tear without allowing herself to shed any. The heartbreak in her face made me want to fall to the floor and just give up. I would just lie on the floor and cry until I missed my departure. The memory of what happened to the unlucky (or stupid) ones who missed their departures was ingrained in us from childhood. Even without the instructional holos we were forced to watch at various intervals in school, there would be one or two who drove the message home every month when they refused to depart.

“Come on,” Melly said. “We have a ways to go just to get topside.”

When I refused to budge, she cupped my cheeks and pulled me in close. I stared into her eyes for an eternity while she nearly brought me to orgasm with an intensely passionate yet soft, loving, slow kiss. My mind whirled as her tongue gently flitted against mine. Time became nothing. My departure became a worry for someone else. I was no one and nothing, my only thought on Mellisandra and how much I loved her. Continue reading