Science Fiction Archives - Page 2 of 5 - Lyonesse

Category Archives for "Science Fiction"

The Slow War

The fierce blue star lied. It appeared to be in the center of a field of crowded blue and violet points of light all focused and pulled towards the front of the ship. It was the incredible speed that they traveled at that hid the truth of a warm yellow dwarf star. The glare of the star from this distance hid its collection of planets and asteroids.

Astrogator Vyron Rhoson preferred to see the ″real″ image of uncorrected light. Gazing at the floating images of the stars crowded ahead of him the universe assumed its familiar cast given by relativistic velocity that he had known since childhood. A universe of stars in all directions, without the blue-shift in the direction of travel did not really seem real to him, any more than the world outside the ship’s walls as more than an intellectual abstraction.

Rhoson activate the full scope of the sensor’s abilities once more. The fierce point of blue light became a warm yellow globe speckled with sunspots. The three large gas giants were easy to discern, and the various icy and watery planets and moons were visible as faint crescents and discs. The haze of the cometary belt glowed about the system as each item was located and updated by the computer.

These had been known for years; he was looking for minutiae in the haze of individual photons. He scanned carefully for the high-energy emissions of ship’s drives, power sources or communications. Nothing. Still, he double checked. While he would never live to see the star-system, the survival of his descendants was at stake. Would the ship decelerate and form a new colony, or would they enter into a radiation-filled battleground? Satisfied that the system ahead was still unclaimed, he made the call.

″Still no sign of the enemy in the system ahead, Captain.″ he reported. ″No high-energy signatures, no signs of industry. It looks like a good place to stop.″

″Thank you, Astrogator.″ the Captain replied. ″I want an updated navigational deceleration map and relativistic probe launch tracks for the meeting in two hours.″

″Yes sir.″ I looked like they were going to be stopping at last. They would not have to continue to drift along until they ran into the enemy in the Sagittarius arm. The system ahead would have everything needed for a colony: comets, asteroids and barren worlds. He was a little worried about that second planet and it’s oxygen atmosphere, though. Still, that temptation aside, the system would be a perfect location to fortify and prepare the next generation of generation ships. All of this would take generations of course. Only those that planned ahead went to the stars.

Vyron updated the projected paths for the relativistic probes. Each would speed silently by, dormant for most of their flight, sending bursts of coded data to the ship about the system ahead. The ship meanwhile, would then engage the powerful braking drives and fields, blasting super-heated particles towards the system at near light speed. Not only would Vyron loose his cherished view of blue stars ahead, but the stream of particles would be a loud alarm across the galaxy announcing their presence.

The light of their engines would race ahead of them though the centuries, and be received by the enemy. Slowly, inevitably, ships would be launched, or more likely, ships already in motion would change their course towards the new target. Even though all would take centuries, speed was essential.

Behind them lay a thousand light-years of conflict, where the expanding waves of human and alien colonization had met. He hoped that they had arrived here first, and may have left behind the conflict, for a while. Perhaps they may even be able to flank the alien’s expanding space, as had been intended when the ship was launched so long ago.

All around him were the faint, red-shifted broadcasts of the conflict they left behind. Haggard faces in slow-motion described the constant struggle. He listened to the last broadcast of a doomed world, watching as it died centuries ago. This would not happen to their new home, he swore.

Continue reading

Moonset

Harski licked each of his twelve fingers slowly in turn, relishing every drop of the sweet, sticky nectar. The harvest had been especially bountiful, more shining dark purple pods swelling to ripeness at the top of waxy lavender stalks than he had ever seen. The stalks were so heavy with nectar pods they bent toward the ground within easy reach. He had worked long and hard, carefully stripping the glistening globules without damaging the stalks.

The only problem was how to store all those pods. Harski had already filled his two favorite hollow logs and had almost filled a small, dry cave. The cave was far from the stalk field and the pods felt heavier with every trip he made there. He rarely returned to his nest, sleeping in the open under the three Moons to save time. If he hurried, he might be able to find a second cave before moonset to store the abundant nectar. There were still a handful of sleeps to go before he’d have to hunker down in the dark.

He spread his tattered lupt on the carpet of leaves in the shade next to the velvety red trunk of a hraffli tree. Lying on his back, Harski filled his lungs with the fragrant air then exhaled a contented sigh. He untucked his ear flaps, gave them a long, satisfying stretch, and brought them around to cover his eyes, blocking out the dim light filtering through the umbrella of yellow-orange leaves. He wondered if other dreffigs were having the same wonderful harvest in other stalk fields, enjoying full bellies, working hard until moonset. Did they dream, like him, of one day living in a colony with thousands of other Gwims instead of eking out a lonely existence harvesting and trading nectar?

Stop it. No colony wants dreffigs, only nectar. He drifted off, wondering what life in the Great Tree Colony was like, or if he might prefer the Mountain Rocks.

Harski woke with a start, instinctively thrusting his enormous ears straight up. He blinked his large, luminous black eyes, angled his head and twitched both ears searching for the source of the sound. For a moment, all he could hear was the fast thrump-thrumpity-thrump of his pounding heart.

Still a long time before moonset… His nostrils, two vertical slits above his wide mouth, vibrated with terror. Too soon for—

Continue reading

In Another Life

Sarah was the only person still at the laboratory. Her obsession demanded that she be the last person to leave, and the first person there in the morning. Most nights she didn’t even go home at all — why should she? Not even a cat waited there to greet her.

Next to her monitor sat an old fashioned photo, with a print and a frame and everything. She did not want a digital device. Her heart could only handle a single picture. The blue light of the computer illuminated it so she could see it all hours of the night. Except for the dim emergency lights, her monitor provided the only bright light in the entire building at this hour. Darkness blanketed the rest of her office and the whole laboratory building. At 3am, only Sarah and her work existed. Not even Joe, the janitor robot, ventured away from his charging module at this hour.

The mahogany frame held a picture of Abram. Sarah glanced at it while she thought, and her chest constricted painfully. Why did she even keep it around? But every time she convinced herself to finally toss it in the trash, she turned and set it back on her desk instead.

He was a handsome man even though he had been twenty years older than her. Sandy hair, wireframed glasses, hazel eyes with laugh line crow’s feet. Even now she remembered every inch of his features. And he’d been an absolute genius. Sarah spent her life amongst people as far beneath her as a dog was beneath a human, but in him, she had finally found an equal.

It was perfect. Even their names were written in time – Sarah and Abram – the parents of descendants as numerous as the stars.

But he was gone now, lost to her. Everything they had planned for ended one awful day a decade before.

She would bend the universe to her will, do anything to have him back. The cost didn’t matter. Sarah Cowen always got what she wanted.

Sarah stared at the picture for a moment longer. The despair always lurking at the edge of her mind surged forward, threatening to consume her again. Angrily she slammed the picture face down on her desk, removing it from her sight. The glass covering the picture shattered from the force she used to knock it down. The breaking of the photograph barely registered with her. Breaking it was of little consequence now.

She would have the real Abram back soon enough, and wouldn’t need the picture any longer. She was so, so close to finally finishing it. So close to finally realizing their work.

And then she would get her happy ending, and it then the last ten years would never happen.

Continue reading
3

St Lucian’s Star

Earth, 2087

“I’m closed!” I didn’t look when the bell jingled on the front door. It was likely just Alma. Again. The 103-year-old woman could never keep track of her keys. Or her purse. Or her teeth. Locating another lost set of keys was not on my agenda for the evening, but saying no to Alma wasn’t an option. What she lacked in size and strength, she made up for in attitude. The majority of my referrals were from Alma. If I denied her once, most of my clients would go with her. Finding lost keys wasn’t very exciting, but it paid the bills. At least it would be quick and then I could go upstairs, get in my pj’s, eat cold pizza, curl up with Jake and read the latest Declan Finn novel.

I inherited the building that served as both my home and office a few years past when the gentlemen I was renting from died. He had left me everything, which wasn’t much beyond the building and a cabin at Spirit Lake. I sold the cabin and used the money to fix up the building and upgrade the outdated appliances. I didn’t have much, but I didn’t need much.

On the first floor, the front door opened into a hallway that led to two rooms. The larger of the two was my work room, where I entertained clients. The other was my closet sized office where I kept the records for my floundering locating service.

Troppe Recovery.
Nothing is too small to locate.

I could have more business if I had moved to a big city, like New York or Los Angeles, but I liked it in western Iowa. Leeds was quiet and within walking distance of everything I needed. Although, on occasion, I wished for a little excitement.

There were some things I couldn’t locate no matter how hard I tried. It didn’t stop people from asking though. I had little control over when my gift worked and when it didn’t. I was ten when my gift first became apparent. The nuns who ran the orphanage had at first thought I was possessed and tried to get the local priest to do an exorcism. Father Andrew was kind and saw my ability for what it was, a gift. He convinced the nuns that I needed protection from those who would abuse my gift. So, for the next eight years I was kept cloistered in a monastery, using my gift on rare occasions for the Church. The decision to use or not use my gift was left up entirely to me. I never refused, considering the Church and the nuns had done so much for me. Everyone had expected that I would eventually join the ranks of the nuns, but my heart was elsewhere. I was never a very good Catholic, even though the nuns tried.

Continue reading
1

Number 43

First came the gurgling in my ears, swiftly turning into a roar as the fluid all around me emptied into suddenly-gaping orifices. Next I was falling, slamming hard into a metal grating on my hands and knees. I let out a low moan, flinching as gobbets of tissue and semi-congealed blood splattered onto the floor all around me and slithered down my back. Gasping for air I curled my fingers into the holes in the grating and glimpsed the dull glint of metal beneath the fluid that coated my skin. Seeing more metal encasing my joints and feeling unexpected firmness in other parts of my body I shuddered, and wondered what had been done to me this time.

Lifting a hand to wipe my face clear of the liquid, I looked up as a rattling, clanking sound announced the arrival of a servant. An iron framework in the rough shape of a man stood before me, spars lancing inwards to pierce the flesh of the hunched person within at half a dozen points, the most prominent being straight through the forehead. His cloudy eyes rolled madly as he tried to focus on me, eventually settling on a point somewhere above my left shoulder.

“The Master will see you now,” he intoned, rasping voice tinged with faint static, amplified by a speaker sutured into his throat. He turned, twitching within his iron shell, and lurched away through an open doorway without waiting for a response.

Continue reading