This week’s show is guest hosted by Scott Roche, and we seven stories by:
This week Gregory and Friends By: Mick Bordet was the winner with 5 total votes Great Job Mick!
Gregory and Friends
by Mick Bordet
“Listen, guys. I’m disappointed. You’ve let me down, you’ve let the company down and you’ve let yourselves down, both of you.”
The two disgraced men exchanged brief glances before lowering their eyes to the ground. Their boss continued his tirade.
“I asked you for innovation, for groundbreaking developments in the field of ligneous extrusions, and you bring me this… this…”
“Stick, sir?” prompted Shug.
“Stick? You call it a stick? It looks remarkably similar to what you produced last holiday season; the pole, I think you called it?”
“That’s right, Sir. The pole. A design classic, if I might add,” Gumf said, throwing in a reference to the award the company had won the previous year. Their boss, Mr. Gnarf, gave a reluctant nod of agreement, lifted the stick off the desk in front of him and turned it over in his hands to scutinise every detail.
“Yes, it did do well. I’ll admit that I was surprised that it outsold the log. Now, there was a toy the kids could really get a grip on. Little brats don’t know they’re born these days, with their lightweight this and their portable that. What’s the world coming to?”
“Well, Sir, the stick is certainly portable, as you can see. It can be produced in a variety of finishes and materials, is easy to store, so warehouse costs will be lower and is completely fire-proof,” Shug answered.
“Actually, no, Sir. It isn’t technically fire-proof, but since we haven’t invented fire yet, I think we’ll be okay to make that claim in the short term,” said Shug.
“Heh, I like your style. I’m still not convinced about this thing, though. I just don’t think it will sell. It’s not different enough from the pole. I want something new and I want it now,” Mr. Gnarf shouted and slammed the stick down hard onto his desk.
The two colleagues flinched at the crack of wood against stone and wasted no time in beginning to talk through their options. They sat for almost two hours discussing the problem, poring over scale drawings, making adjustments to measurements. As they worked, Mr. Gnarf paced around the room like a sabre-toothed tiger, only pausing to pick up the stick and tap it repeatedly on his desk every so often. As the setting sun cast its orange glow around the office, the two men stood up at last and approached their manager, who was staring out the window, flicking the stick from one hand to the other.
“We have an idea, Sir,” Gumf said.
“Spit it out then. I need to know what additions will be needed for manufacture, cost increases, loss of margin, all that stuff. What are you going to change?” Mr. Gnarf asked.
“We’ll call it Gregory,” Gumf replied.
“Gregory! Gregory? What damn difference will it make whether it’s known as a stick or a gregory? Are you insane? Two hours and that’s the best concept you could come up with? Get out!” Mr. Gnarf shouted, his face turning from white to red, then on to purple.
Shug responded, hoping to diffuse the anger directed at his colleague.
“Sir, it won’t be ‘a’ gregory, it will just be Gregory. Gregory the stick.”
The colour of Mr. Gnarf’s face returned to red. He raised his eyebrows.
“Gregory. The stick. Gregory, the stick?”
The two men nodded, uncertain but hopeful. Their boss lifted the stick in front of his face and jiggled it up and down.
“Hello,” he said, putting on a sqeaky, child-like voice, “I’m Gregory and I’m a stick. Would you like to be my friend?”
“Oh yes, Gregory, I would love to be your friend,” he answered himself in his own gruff voice.
“You see, Sir, we can produce a range with different names for different woods. I mean, if a child wants Gregory this year, then next year we can claim that Gregory is getting lonely, but here comes his new friend, Andrew. Guaranteed sales. Then maybe Gregory wants to settle down, so we start selling his wife, Elspeth,” said Shug.
“I like it! You boys go home and celebrate – tomorrow we launch a wooden revolution,” shouted Mr. Gnarf. “You came in here as designers and without changing a single thing you’ve transformed a poor idea into a world-beater. Consider yourselves the marketing department.”
The two men left the office, relieved and exhausted.
“Good call on that idea, Shug. You saved our jobs and turned us into company heroes,” said Gumf.
“Maybe, but I never got to tell him my idea for next year. I like to call it ‘the twig’.”
Leader of the Pack
By: Ashley Redden
Caesar stopped channel surfing when the camera suddenly zoomed in on the face of a snarling champaign coated Peekapoo. The small dog stood just inches from the camera, body stiff as a board with both lips raised tongue slightly protruding growling menacingly. The agitated dog held this pose for beat then exploded into violence appearing certain that the animal was about to tear the lens of the camera apart. As suddenly as the attack happened, it ended with the small dog retreating back to the feet of his owner who was seated on one end of a plush couch.
Caesar turned up the volume and settled in intent upon the program. The name of the show was Hollywood Lives which documented different stars and their perspective digs. The show this week documented several actresses and their personal companions. Some had cats, one a ferret, but most of the five documented had dogs. Caesar watched, brows furrowed, as the starlet explained how much she loved her little dog, the same Peekapoo that had attacked the camera only moments earlier on the screen.
The owner explained how she felt so alone because the small dog became aggressive whenever anyone, anyone at all, came into her house. The distraught actress explained how much she loved her dog, named Star, and that she couldn’t live without him. She finally said that she was resigned to trying to learn to live with the behavior.
“He just doesn’t know he’s a dog,” the actress explained with a fluttered sigh. “He really thinks he is human.”
Caesar hit mute on the remote, got up and went to the kitchen for his cell phone. He flicked it open with one hand and rapidly pressed several buttons scrolling through numbers with the other. When he found the number that he was searching for, he hit the green button and brought the phone to his ear. After several rings, a receptionist answered.
“Hello, this is Caesar Milan from the Dog Whisperer. I was wondering if you could help me. I need to speak with someone who could look into a new contact for the show.” Caesar nodded and said, “Yes. I was watching a TV show, um, I think it was called Hollywood Lives; there was an actress who owned a very aggressive little dog, a Peekapoo I think. Yes, yes that’s the one. Really, you watched the same episode, that’s amazing. Yes, Star, that’s her name.”
Caesar listened for a moment, smiled and said, “Absolutely, absolutely, thank you so much. Are you sure that it wouldn’t be an inconvenience? When you speak to the producer can you have her give me a call? I would really like to help them if possible.” Caesar smiled anew and said, “Thank you Sherry for all the help. I really appreciate it. And thank you for all the kind things you said about the show. Have a great day.”
Caesar closed the cell phone with a snap and looked down at the bulldog that had just now sidled up to him. “Well Daddy, do you think we can help those people. I think we can. I tell you this much buddy, that little dog didn’t think he was anything. He knows his little butt is in charge and that’s most likely the problem.”
Caesar reached down and gave Daddy’s head a scratch and a pat and said, “That little guy just needs some perspective, that’s all. What do you say about a walk?” Daddy panted calm and serene.
Caesar smiled and went to round up his in-line skates and a bundle of leashes. “Come on Daddy, let’s go walk the pack.”
Caesar walked out followed by Daddy preparing to take ten to fifteen of mans best friends for a walk.
The Bowler Hat
By: Justin Lowmaster
The bowler hat sits amongst several other hats of the same. They all were stacked in a pyramid. He is second from the left in the middle row. The hats on top believe they are the best. The ones on the bottom row below him only speak of depressing things.
“I’m absolutely sure I will be picked first!”
A sigh. “No one will pick me. The hatter who made me probably did such a bad job.”
“Not me! I’m the most brilliant bowler hat around! Just you wait, someone will pick me right away!”
The hat in the middle, the one who’s tale you are listening too, pays no attention to the other hats. He simply waits for the right man to come by to pick a hat. When he arrives, he knows he will be picked to be worn on a good mans head.
Warm rays of sunlight beam down through large breaks in the cloud. One beam is shining right on the hats. A man walks by, eying the hats. Our friend the hat doesn’t like the looks of him. He has a squinting gaze that oozes mischief, a sneer of yellowed teeth, and worst of all, greasy hair. The hat tries to look small and plain, doing his best to hide in with the other hats. The hats above him puff themselves up and put themselves on display. There is a commotion behind the hat stand and the man who sells the hats turns to look. The greasy haired man takes his chance and snatches a hat from the top of the stack and runs off into the crowd, clutching the purloined hat against his dirty jacket. Our friend sighed with relief, glad to know he would not have to adorn that man’s head.
A few days later several horses trotted down the lane. Mounted on each of the horses a man. On one of the horses rode a man wearing sharp hunting tweeds. They moved with the riders motion perfectly. Clothing like that had to be tailored. The hat would be very happy on the head of a man who wore tailored clothing. His head had no hat adorning it! Short black hair flowed across his head. It was straight and clean. More than the clothing and hair though was the way the man carried himself; confidant and tall. A small child ran across the path of the horses, dangerously close! The man saw this and pulled on the reigns. His horse stopped immediately. The child continued to run.
“Lo, child, stop!”
The child turned, stopping. The hatless man waved his hand.
“Come here, young man.”
Slowly the child walked forward. The man stepped down from his horse and knelt to the boy’s height. Placing a hand on the child’s shoulder, he looked into his eyes.
“You were nearly trampled by the horses, did you realize that?”
The boy looked down and shook his head. His curly hair wobbled.
“You need to watch where you are going so you wont get hurt. Then you can grow up to be a big strong man!”
He lifted the child’s face with a careful finger under the chin, and once again looked into his eyes. The child couldn’t help but smile back as the man smiled a brilliant smile at him. He patted the boy’s curly hair.
“Be careful now. Don’t run into the street without checking whose on the road!”
The boy turned and almost ran forward, but instead walked carefully around a white haired man and woman who walked hand in hand. Once he passed them, he continued his run.
The hat felt joy in his rim. This man’s goodness was undeniable! The hat did his best to look strong and true. He made sure that his shape didn’t leave anything to be desired. Much effort flowed into his brim, keeping it curled just right. If he could just get the man’s attention. The man turned to go back to his horse. Above the hat the other hats puffed themselves up, arrogant and vain. A few quiet murmurs of despair rose from below. The man’s eyes fell on the hats and he stopped mid-turn. For a moment he stood in place. Then he walked over to the stack and looked them all over. He reached for the top row and picked one up. It gloated a bit, but cut short when the man picked up our friend and sat the other in its place. The replaced hat protested at not being on the top row anymore. The bottom row hats wailed at the disgrace. The man placed our friend on the top of his head. The hat felt elation all through his crown and found it very hard not to curl up his brim. He made sure he slid on smoothly, taking care not to muss up the man’s hair. The man removed his hand from our friend then turned towards his friends still on their horses.
“I say, this is a really good hat!”
He turned to the hat salesman.
“How much for this hat?”
The man who sold the hats was very thankful for the large tip he had been given when he sold the hat.
The hat hoped to do a good job.
The men on the horses rode into the forest. One of them patted his horse.
“Let’s go see some birds shall we?”
The man wearing his brand new hat reached into a saddlebag and retrieved some binoculars. When he rose back up a low branch hung right in front of him. He did not see it but the hat did. The hat toughened up and took as much of the force of the blow as he could. He bet the man hardly felt a thing as he rode rode into the branch.
He took the hat from his head and brushed it off.
“Good thing about this hat, it really does the job I say!”
He replaced it with care.
The hat could do nothing about the smile that radiated from him.
After a long day of birdwatching all the men headed back towards home. A rough wind rose up and the clouds mobbed up together to rain down their wetness. With each gust the hat held on tight. A hat would be useless if it fell off at the slightest breeze! The men all rode low to their horses, galloping. The rain began coming down harder and harder. The hat strained and reached, trying to grab as many raindrops as it could to keep the good man’s head dry. Some water got under the brim, making it slippery, but the hat held onto its resolve and would not he taken unwillingly from this man’s head.
They all made it to a stable without and trouble. Lightning flashed and thunder growled as they unsaddled and fed their horses. The man plucked the hat from his head and wiped his brow, finding it a lot drier than he had expected. He smiled at the hat and replaced on the top of his head.
An old man walked onto his house and smiled at his wife who greeted him at the door. He removed a bowler hat from the top of his head, revealing wisps of white hair. The hair was straight and well kept, the sign of a good hat. The man removed his tweeds and hung them in a closet. He rested the hat on a round knob by the door and patted it warmly. The hat smiled, glad that he would not be discarded even though he had many scuffs and even a small tear. The man turned and walked into the kitchen with his arm around his wife.
“You love that old hat, don’t you dear?”
He glanced back at it, then smiled at his wife.
“It is a very wonderful hat.”
By: Norval Joe
“Mommy, Kitty has my dolly and won’t let him go.” The little girl was on the verge of tears. “OK, dear.” Her mother replied, almost looking up from her magazine, but returning to finish the article, “I’ll be there in a minute”
She crossed the verge. She wailed. “Mommy, Kitty is hurting dolly and he’s crying.” She looked at her daughter and saw the frantic fear and urgency on the little girls face.
“Don’t worry,” she said trying to keep a soothing tone in her voice, but becoming deeply concerned about her daughters attachment to the creepy looking toy, “lets go see what the trouble is.” She said, leading the little girl down the hallway. The closer that they got to the utility room, the more agitated the child became. She was pulling on her mothers hand, trying to make her move faster. “He screaming mommy, hurry, he’s screaming!”
A week after they had returned from New Orleans the little girl had started speaking of the doll as if it were alive. She would tell her parents of conversations she had with the doll, and her parents, initially, smiled encouragingly, amused at their daughters vivid imagination. However, as time passed, they became concerned as their daughter described her conversations with the doll in deeper and deeper detail; ascribing to the toy human characteristics and behaviors.
At times she would stand outside her daughters door and listen to one sided conversations as her daughter compared her interests and preferences to those of the silent doll. When she would come to the breakfast table each morning, she would relate things to her mother that she had learned about the doll that morning; they assumed that their daughter had dreamed about the doll and was sharing the details of those dreams. “Dolly says that he is afraid of Kitty. He hides from kitty when she comes in the room.” “Dolly says he doesn’t like morning, he says the sun hurts his eyes.” “Dolly says I am his only friend,” “Dolly is afraid of dying,” and other such and similar items in intimate detail. At times she even sounded a little paranoid.
By the time they got to the laundry room the girl was so worked up that she had her hands pressed against her ears, and was screaming at the top of her lungs. They found bits of the doll scattered though out the small utility room. String, yarn, and bits of cloth, one popsicle stick arm was in the cats water dish.
Her daughter had stopped screaming, but was now doubled over, leaning on her knees, heaving and retching, as if she was over come by the gore at the scene of a brutal murder.
The cat stopped playing with the doll when she saw the woman enter the room, and went and sat by the food dish, assuming that the woman had come to feed her. Instead the woman picked up what was left of the doll. It was severely damaged, but not beyond repair. As soon as she stood up, her daughter was at her elbow, and tugging at her blouse, trying desperately to get a hold of her doll.
“Mommy,” she gasped as tears exploded from her eyes anew. “He stopped screaming, I think he’s dead.” “Calm down, dear, let’s see what we can do. She retrieved the arm from the water dish, and as much of the bits and strings that were spread around the room. She carefully carried it down the hallway and back to the kitchen, where she laid all the pieces before them on the dining room table.
Her mother exaggerated the care and concern that she showed as she re wrapped each piece of thread around its lumpy waist or its popsicle stick arms and legs. Finally, she took strips of athletic tape, and secured the ends of string and yarn.
“There you go sweetie,” her mother said when she felt that there was no more that she could do. “He looks alright, with his bandages and a cast on his leg,” Her mother ventured, trying to bring her daughter into the scenario. “I think he will heal just fine. She finished with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, observing the deep scratches that the cats teeth had made in the dolls clay head.
Her daughter said nothing, her face expressionless, she silently stared into the black bean eyes of the little doll, where it lay in the middle of the table. She reached out a hand and placed it on the dolls forehead, then smoothed his cotton serape as if performing the routine tasks of an experienced nurse, caring for her patient. She continued sitting at the kitchen table with her hands folded quietly in her lap.
“Honey, is everything alright?” She asked her daughter.
Without actually moving her head, she looked up at her mother, and with a fleeting, half smile, she acknowledged her mother’s question, and returned her gaze to her patient and waited without further expression.
Her mother tired of the waiting game. ” I will be reading my magazine in the TV room, if you need me,” she said as she got up from the table. Again, the fleeting glance and the half smile, as the woman walked from the room.
She had just gotten settled in the reclining chair and opened the magazine when she noticed a faint, undulating whining sound coming from the other end of the house. She got up and went to investigate. She followed the sound and though it grew louder, the whining became intermittent, and punctuated by a rhythmic thumping. She realized what the sound was and rushed to the utility room, where her daughter stood before the dryer. She yanked open the door and the cat leapt out, hissing and scratching as it dizzily stumbled across the utility room floor.
The little girl was holding the ugly doll in the crook of her arm, as if she had been rocking a small baby. She looked up from the dolls face, the deep scratches of the cats teeth almost completely faded, and said to her mother, matter-of-factly, “Dolly says kitty was bad and he needs a lesson.”
By: Guy David
I survive the line by imagining. I have this theory, might have read it somewhere, that every human being has his own animal and if you look carefully, you can see that animal. As I stand at the unemployment line, I strain to see the animal associated with each of the people in the room. That woman with the pointy eyes and the sharp look is a weasel. That man with the old flat hat and the immigrant look is a hedgehog. That big man over there, flexing his muscles and looking mean is a gorilla. He sends out his hand to scratch his own back and stare back at me. I avert my eyes, looking away. Better not make eye contact with that sort. My eyes meet those of a young woman on the parallel line. She is a fox. She stares at me for a second with an empty look, then looks away.
The line moves slowly, then it suddenly stops. A man at the other side of the line seams to be shouting at the biometric fingerprint reader. The machine doesn’t answer since it’s only a machine. I see the man as a bulldog, spittle dripping from his mouth. The machine apparently stopped responding. The gorilla is at the other, parallel line. He stares at the commotion with blank eyes. A security guard appears and tries to help, but he’s just a dumb bull, knowing nothing about biometric machines.
The computer man arrives at last, an owl naturally. The machine is finally fixed, only needed a restart, and the line starts moving again. Suddenly I don’t see the animals anymore. I only see a line of people, most of them without hope, just moving with this line of hopelessness. I feel small, but then, I’m only a mouse after all. I reach the biometric machine, press my finger and get the slip. Like always, no job is available for me. I take a long walk home. Outside, I can see the people as animals again.
By: Jeff Hite
It took a while longer for the Captain to regain his voice, and even longer for the rest of his body to functioning properly again. While he recovered Christina filled him in on what was going on.
“Sir, about a week ago, the ship navigational computers started having to fire the thrusters more and more to keep on course. Three days ago the computer awoke me and the chief engineer to try figure out what the problem was. The problem is that we have figured it out. We have entered a planetary system, but for some reason the computers automated response to wake you when a system was found didn’t function. Instead it saw the gravitation pulls of the planets as errors that needed to be corrected.” The paused then and let the words sink in.
A planetary system. That was what they had been looking for. That was why they had left earth during it’s bloodiest wars, why when the super humans started to arise to power, the small conclave had decided that it was time to leave by any means necessary. When they could not hire, or buy a ship, the stole one. No matter that it was a one way trip. They were not sure there would be an earth to come back to, the way it was currently being torn apart. No matter that the ship they stole was one of the super humans. The only way to catch them an take revenge was to follow them, and that revenge would take decades even centuries to exact, if anyone had the technology to follow them.
“We are still very far out in the system, and our instruments can’t tell us much about the inner planets,” She continued. “The ones that we have passed so far have been gas giants and really no moons that would be suitable. The question that remains is do we wake the others.”
“How?” he managed to squeak out.
“How long?” He nodded. “Well if the computer can be believed we have been asleep for about one hundred and twenty years. If you were asking how long until we reach the inner part of the system, about ten days.” He nodded. He remembered his navigator and second in command being the best person he had even known at knowing what he was thinking.
“Sleep,” he croaked.
“Alright, we will let them sleep for now.”
“Help me to the bridge.”
“Not yet. give the Meds time to take effect, you have only been laying there for over a century, what is fifteen more minutes.”
nodded his agreement.
“When this alarm chimes you can get up,” She grinned “I feel a bit like your mother putting you in time out,” they both smiled. “I will be on the bridge when you get up trying to figure out exactly where we are in relationship to earth. We might even be able to set up a radio link if we do it right.”
Captain Matt Weston sat at the tiny table that served as the combined mess table and conference room table and reviewed the first scans of the inner planets. They were playing a very delicate balancing act. Every day that the three of them were awake they used up more of there very limited supplies. If used too many of the supplied and they needed to by pass this system and try again, they might not have enough to make it. The ship, that had been named the Marx when they stole her had been renamed with the more fitting Molly Brown, was meant to support up to two hundred people in animation for up to three hundred years, but there was not much room for storage, and it was not intended to support life for more than a couple of weeks. Molly’s engines pushed them faster than anythings else man made, nearly three times as fast as the the pioneer and and voyager spacecraft, toward the inner solar system, where they had found a binary planetary system. The two planets were both nearly earth sized, and only slightly further apart than the earth and the moon, which would cause planet rocking tidal quakes but if they had water and vegitation they would be all they needed to survive.
When they were within a day of the planets they decided to name them, Helen and Clytemnestra. Helen was a shining world the looked as though it would have water, maybe in the form of ice on a good portion of the planet. Clytemnestra was a deep brown, and from ther current vantage point looked mostly like a desert. They hoped that one of them would have at least some of he elements they would not need to go back in to hybernation, but it did not look good.
“Captiain we are getting data from the probes now?”
“Good lets see it.” The small view panel between them lit up.
“That is interesting, from this information Clytemnestra seems to have a lot more liquid water, that would certainly be easier to deal with than the ice of Helen.”
“Right, and if there is liquid water, the soil should be easier to deal with as well,” John said walking in from the engine room.
“How are we doing?” The Captain asked.
“Well, two of the thrusters have malfunctioned, I have no way of telling if they are jammed or just malfunctioning. Everything else seems to be in good working order.”
“What effect will those thrusters have on us?”
“Well they are horrizontals and they have both secondary and back ups so as long as nothing more goes wrong there should be no problem.”
“Good. What about you, navigation all squared away?”
“Well it is going to get a bit more complicated as we get closer to the planets. They have a good thing going, being tidally locked, so as we get closer the sisters will start to fight over us. But we should be able to play monkey in the middle until we decide which one of them will suit our needs best.”
“Alright, I want the both of you to let me know the minute anything changes.” They both nodded their agreement. “Alright then, I will continue to go over the data as it comes in, you two get to work.”
Both planets loomed large in their screens and still they had not been able to make a decision. If they two planets had been combined they would be prefect, but as it was they both had elements that they would need. Clytemnestra had liquid water and softer soil, the atmosphere was not as clean, and had a bit too much sulfur, Helen on the other hand was very cold. She had plenty of water, locked up in ice, and the atmosphere was much more hospitable, but it would be very difficult to grow crops, and there would be little or no food to forage, and since their food supply was already running low, that would be a necessary part of keeping them alive.
Weston Knew that in the future that the proximity of the two planets would make sharing resources possible, but in the near future, they would be stuck with which ever planet they chose. And there was more bad news. It appeared now that something else had happened while they had been asleep. The Nuclear fuel that should have lasted them for nearly two more centuries was nearly spent. Which meant that they now were face with the choosing one of the two sister planets even if they were not as perfect as they would have liked.
The crew stood assembled in the gymnasium, probably the only space that was large enough for all hundred of them to be at one time. Waiting for their captain to speak. As Weton looked our over the group he saw the former businessmen and women that had been part of thier company before they decided to leave Earth, but he also saw children. They were no longer businessmen and women that had designed the sleeper ships. they were no longer astronauts that had tested them on the first trips to Mars, they were a family. But they were more than that too. They were crew, they had come together, training in secret working out the detail, scrounging ever last bit of the supplies they would need to make this happen. Now they were the seeds of that new colony, seeds that had floated though space. Like it or not they were looking down over the two worlds that would be their home.
“Good morning every one.” There was a little nervous laugh though the crowd. “Five days ago we entered a planetary system after nearly one hundred and twenty years. They system has a set of binary planets that are in the habital zone. I will not lie to you and tell you that this is the best choice of planets. But we have a few problems. The ships system have experinced a number of problems that will prevent us from going any further.” He stopped and waited for the knowledge sink in. He could see concern mirrored in many faces.
“Below us we have two planets to choose from. We have named them Helen and Clytemnestra. From out our parts of the system it looked like Helen would be our destination, but as we got closer, what we took for water from a distance turned out to be ice that covers a good amount of the planet. Clytemnestra, has more of an arid climate, but their is water down there, and their is much more vegetation that we suspect will provide us food to supliment our emergency rations until we can get crops in the ground. I will not tell you that this will be easy. But it is doable, and we can do it.”
“Alright folks,” Christina stepped on stage taking control of the logistics, one of her strongest point. “Here is how things are going to happen over the next day or so. In about two hours we are going to be entering orbit around Clytemnestra, and we will need to survey for a good landing zone, then we will be dropping the cargo containers. Once the containers are on the ground, we will begin shuttling people to the ground. Since the shuttle will only take ten people at a time, we will send the advance group first, one pilot and 9 of you will stay behind to begin set up. The round trip with the shuttle should take about three hours, so you will not have much time. You will need to start getting shelters set up. The next group down will be more of the same. After that, we will send the foraging party down.” She lay out the plan group by group. In the end, the Captain and the bridge crew would be the last ones to leave the ship. They would place the Molly Brown in as stable an orbit as possible, with any luck she would still be there in a few years when they were ready to explore Helen.
All but the final crew was on the planet. The shelters had been set up and food had been found in plenty. The whole process had taken two days and had only stopped twice while the shuttle pilot rested. It looked as if despite her name Clytemnestra was welcoming new bridegroom with open arms.
“Alright folks, it is just the eight of us left. Lets get us ready to put Molly in her parking orbit and start shutting things down. Christina, I want you and John to setup a transmitter and aim it back at Earth. If there is any one left there I want them to find us in another hundred years or so.”
“Robert you and I will work on the parking orbit calculations, the rest of you start shutting things down to just the essential systems.”
“Captain, I think you should hear this.” John said coming onto the bridge, is face as ashen.
“What is it?” He didn’t reply only shaking his head and walking back to the communications room. Christina was there with her head on the table, but it was obvious that she had been crying. “What is going on here.”
“Sir to set the transmitter up we had to take the com system off line for about an hour,” Christina began.
“It is not her fault sir, there was not much we could have done even if,” John piped up.
“What is not her fault?” He was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.
“We let the teams on the surface, we were going to be off the air.”
“Would one of you please tell me what is going on?”
“A huge storm sir. It came up suddenly. At last report half of the crew is dead. It was as if she waited until there was nothing we can do to make her move.”
“Yes, half,” John continued for the now distraught navigator. “They were able to get most of the Children into a cave on the north side of the ridge, before the storm hit, but camp has been desimated and they don’t have any way to communicate with the kids.”
“Why do I feel like this not the end of the story?”
“Because as soon as we got the reports, we started surveying the planet. I appears that the along with the effects on the ground that Helen has on her sister, she also stirs up the atmosphere, there are two move huge storms headed for the landing zone.
“This is probably the final transmission from the Molly Brown, having left earth on January twenty second in the year 1984, we set out to find a new world, that would welcome us and be free of the wars that plagued our home planet. By the time this message is recived, there will be nothing left of our expidition,” he paused the recording and breathed deeply trying to steady this voice. “Included in this transmission will be the data records of all that has befallen us since we left Earth. Yesterday, the rest of the crew went down to help the survivors, and begin the process of shuttleing people back to the Molly Brown. Christina and I stayed on board to prepare the ship for reciving the injured, and to plan our next move. Unfortunately the shuttle was destroyed by sever lighting storm, that disabled her engines causeing her to crash. There were no survivors. This effectively marroned the rest of the survivors on the planet we have named Clytemnestra. We lost contact with them late yesterday, as yet another firece storm hit them.” Christina stired and he stopped talking until she settled down. “Even if we could reach them, the shuttle was our only method of transport to and from the surface.”
Weston stood alone on the bridge. staring down at the planet below him. Helen’s reflective surface had drawn him to move the ship into a closer orbit with the ice covered planet. He had been watching the surface ever since. The probe had continued to feed data to him since it landed five days before. It had record, a temperate zone near the equator, with large numbers of grazing herd animals. The equator zone was also rife with caves that would have made perfect natural Shelters for the storms that the two jealous sisters inflicted on each other. If he had wait just a day or so more, he would have seen this data, and his crew would still be alive.
Star Log the USS Columbia found a DY-100 Class sleeper ship, named The Molly Brown, her orbit had almost degraded beyond all hope of recovery. If there had not been a life sign, they would not have risked even going on board. As it was they found only one person on board in suspended animation. When she was brought around, she was incoherent, and still has yet to say anything that makes any sense. She just keeps repeating that the Sisters killed them all. We are trying to retrieve the data from the ships computers before she burns up in planet’s atmosphere.
By: Scott Roche
The torpedoes exploded harmlessly in space, doing no apparent damage to the other ship. Of course they still couldn’t see it, just the representation of where it should be hanging in space.
“Status report Banks.” Thornton barked.
Lieutenant Banks pecked at some keys. “It appears that the intrusion has stopped. Something is hailing us sir. Shall I answer?”
Thornton nodded. “Put it on screen.”
The individual that showed on the large viewer up front was hideous. There was an element of the arachnid about it, possessing as it did four pairs of arms and multiple small, dark, round eyes. It was covered everywhere visible by short grayish bristles and something that may have been a mouth in the center of what Sean could only think of as a torso.
Sometimes it was easy to fall prey to anthropomorphism when you dealt with aliens. There were whole classes that dealt with that in Starfleet back on Earth. The first thing that got pointed out was that the term itself was anthro-centric. You needed to treat each race individually. That made first contact more than a little tricky especially when you just initiated that with a photon torpedo.
The voice that came from the ships speakers was electronic and not the being’s natural voice. He couldn’t imagine what that would sound like. Before it was all said and done he would probably find out though. “You have initiated hostile advances with us. Please explain.”
Thornton looked over his shoulder at Banks. “Are they sending in Standard?” He couldn’t think of any way for the Universal Translator to already know their language, unless they were sending in some language the UT did know.
“Aye sir, they’re sending in Standard.” The large man shook his head.
Thornton turned his head back to the being on screen. “We interpreted your active scan of our sensors as a … hostile advance and wished to warn you. Since we couldn’t contact you in any other way we used what we had. Please accept my apologies.”
“A misunderstanding then, we will commence our scan.” The creature waved its top pair of arms. That was something that their own UI wasn’t able to interpret, body motion.
Thorton thought that the tone of voice came across as a little annoyed, so perhaps whatever they were using didn’t have that limitation. Or perhaps he was reading the annoyance into it. In either case, he was annoyed and his own inflection showed it. “Negative, negative. Do not scan us again or the next volley will come a bit closer.”
That threat was a little empty since they didn’t know exactly where the ship was. The captain made a motion behind his back to Banks. As agreed upon the communication officer cut the outgoing audio. “Banks, Lisor are we getting anything we can use to target the ship a bit more accurately?”
Lisor spoke first. He was looking at something on his station intently. “Aye sir. I am refining my search parameters to include their broadcast. I should be able to give you a better firing solution in a few seconds.”
Another gesture and the two way communication resumed. “What is your purpose in scanning our ship?” Thornton stood a bit straighter and projected his command presence a bit more strongly. Body language was probably lost on this alien, but it made him feel better.
Another gesture and the two way communication resumed. “What is your purpose in scanning our ship?” Thornton stood a bit straighter and projected his command presence a bit more strongly. Body language was probably lost on this alien, but it made him feel better. Showing fear and he was afraid of what he saw on the screen, would not do him or his crew any good.
The being twitched. “You are in our area of influence and you demand answers from us?”
A green tell-tale now glowed on the arm of his chair. It was the go ahead from Lisor. They had a better lock on the target. “If we are trespassing then I apologize. We traveled through some sort of spatial anomaly and wound up here by accident. We don’t take kindly to strangers overriding our ships systems without warning.”
“Remain where you are. We will discontinue scans… for now. You will discontinue hostility?” It came across as a question whether that was the intent or not.
Thornton nodded. He didn’t want to fire again. There was no way of knowing what capacity for violence the other ship had. “We will.” The screen went dark.
“They cut communication sir. The frequency they used is very similar to standard subspace radio. We should have no problems hailing them back on it if we need to.”
Thornton nodded at the communications officer. The fact that their technology was compatible was interesting and a little too convenient. “Lisor, anything on what that was?”
Lisor straightened and turned from his station. “Negative Captain. There are no races I have in the databanks that match that description. If they are local to this quadrant then I would not expect for us to be aware of them. The beam scanning matches known scanning technology and the protocols they were using for attempting remote control would have worked eventually.”
Thornton left the area near his chair and walked to the science officer’s station. In a lower tone of voice he asked, “Don’t you find that a little odd?”
“Yes Captain. I would expect this far out of our own sphere of influence that we would see technology that was dramatically different. I see a few possibilities. This might not be our first contact. The aliens might be concealing their true appearance and intentions. Then again this is a big universe and statistically it is possible that they developed methods that were close to our own.” Lisor shrugged. “We will find out eventually what the answer is.”
That last statement was probably the single most annoying thing Thornton had heard today. He couldn’t argue with its veracity, just its usefulness. There was an increased level of tension on the bridge and he was feeling its effect on him.
Just sitting here waiting on the strangers to act wasn’t going to help anyone, but scanning their adversary was out and while they could certainly run there was no guarantee that other ship wasn’t just as fast or faster than they were, added to that they’d be running blind. Running wasn’t his style anyway.
“Is there any way they can access critical ship functions if they go through the new sensor package?” He didn’t know enough about what the birds had plugged in to his ship.
Lisor shook his head. “I don’t believe they could get to any critical systems, no Captain. I could disconnect the umbilicals and cut it off hard, but it would be a challenge to reconnect it. It would require an EV suit and approximately 6 hours.”
“Well continue to monitor the situation. First priority, find a way to get through what ever is cloaking their appearance.” Thornton returned to his chair and sat. A yeoman appeared at his elbow with a cup of tea and some reports to sign.
He sipped the tea and nodded gratefully. The reports indicated that everything continued to operate as it should. Now they played the waiting game.