Special Holiday Price: Intergalactic Space Tour

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Prologue:

Every planet in Earth’s solar system fought the scourge of space pirates for hundreds of years before the Treaty of 2137 ended the hostilities.

Earth – Intergalactic Space Port 2237

Special Holiday Tour: 

Last call for Andromeda – Departing at 16:00

Regularly Scheduled Tours:

Black Eye Galaxy – Departing 17:00

Cartwheel Galaxy – Departing 19:30

Cigar Galaxy – Departing at 20:25

On Board the Atlas 4000 Space Cruiser To Andromeda:

“I hope you’re enjoying the trip Ladies and Gentlemen. Fun fact; Andromeda is the closest big galaxy to the Milky Way! How about that?” the ship’s captain asked via intercom.

Two-hundred passengers made an affirmative buzz.

“Not so fun fact: Andromeda is expected to collide with the Milky Way about four billion years from now. They’ll merge into a single new galaxy we’re calling Milkomeda. Enjoy your trip, and thanks for flying with American Intergalactic Connections!”

1st Passenger – “This new Atlas 4000 model is a real improvement over those MF-900 Cruisers which have been the backbone of the fleet for 20 years.”

2nd Passenger – “This is my first time in space. I’m a little nervous.”

1st Passenger – “Not to worry. I’m an ex-space pilot, and I can assure you space travel is safer than driving the freeways in California.”

2nd Passenger – “I’m glad to hear that. I wonder if the stories I’ve heard about space pirates are true? Could we be attacked?” 

1st Passenger – “Again, not to worry. There hasn’t been any space pirates in over 100 years since the Treaty of 2137.”

2nd Passenger – “Funny, I never heard of that treaty. Then there were space pirates? I couldn’t find a thing about them in the World Main Frame. If it wasn’t for my best friend’s father,  I would have never heard of them. He was a pilot too.” 

1st Passenger – “Well, it’s just not the kind of information the company wants to share with potential customers. Why bring up the distant past? You’re in a state-of-the-art cruiser with every convenience, and you’re going to see things you never dreamed of.”

2nd Passenger – “You’re right. Can I order a drink for you?”

1st Passenger – In a low voice, “Thanks, but I can’t. I’m on duty. I’m a security guard for American Intergalactic Connections.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain. We’re going to make a temporary stop at Alphas Tendir to switch our new warp drives over in the dock. For safety reasons we’re asking you to de-board once we land, and to wait in the lounge area provided for you. It won’t take long.”

2nd Passenger – “Hey, what’s going on? There’s no scheduled layovers on the trip ticket?”

1st Passenger – “Sorry about that. You’re a nice guy. The least I can do is explain everything after we get off the ship.”

When the 200 puzzled passengers were being led to the lounge area the 1st Passenger stopped, and pulled the 2nd Passenger out of the line.

“It’s like this. We lost the war against the space pirates. That’s why every year we have to pay a tribute of 200 inhabitants from each planet as slaves. Whatever you do, don’t look them in the eyes. It really pisses them off!” 

As It Stands, throughout recorded history conquerors have demanded slaves for tribute.

Escape From the Slaughterhouses of Het-Kre

sf183_ghoulTrent was one of a few lucky humans on Ridon to escape death before the warlords of Zurpt-Major obliterated it.

The attack came so quickly that the humans were overwhelmed.

If Trent and his crew of two weren’t test-flying the new ES Star Chaser in space, they would have been destroyed with the rest of humanity.

Ridon’s last three humans, Trent, Sally, and Rick, watched in horror for two days as the planet erupted into fireballs and turned into space debris. They only had one option left. Go to Xenalth.

Xenalth and Ridon had been allies for over 200 years. Travel back and forth was strictly regulated to visiting and going on tours. Xenalth had a more advanced civilization and technology, but willing became friends with the inhabitants of Ridon.

For unknown reasons the two species enjoyed each others company.

The crew of the ES Star Chaser approached Xenalth’s Intergalactic Landing Ports and waited for clearance. It only took a couple of minutes before their craft was given the okay, and directions to a parking pod.

Their first stop was Xenalth’s High Council headquarters. The Five leaders of Xenalth were waiting for them when they arrived at the council chambers. Lord Asherath, spoke for the others and said, “Are hearts are heavy for you. We monitored the attack on your planet with great alarm.”    

“We seek sanctuary great lords,” Trent said.

There was a flurry of voices among The Five. “Never happened.” “It’s against all rules.” “Where else can they go?”  

Trent and his crew listened through their translator earbuds.  Their fate was on the line. The discussion took about 30 minutes before Lord Asherath announced, “We cannot break our laws and let you live here permanently. However, we can grant you temporary asylum while you look for another planet to live on.”

Resupplied, the crew of the ES Star Chaser, went in search of another planet that could sustain them. The recently refined ship’s computer tracked other planets that could meet their basic requirements of breathable air, water, and proper gravity.

They found a possible candidate one day. It did have life forms, but that wasn’t necessarily bad. They landed at the edge of a lush jungle. There were dozens of dilapidated space ships scattered around in the open plain.

After securing the perimeter around the ship, they set out into the jungle.

It wasn’t long before they suspected they were being followed. Figures kept darting in and out of the heavy underbrush and trees alongside of them. Trent held his hand over his laser sword as he led the way.

They finally came into a large clearing with a dozen massive wooden buildings. Out front, stood a group of very short earth-like, heavily-muscled men, and women.

Their skin was a mottled gray, and they were naked, except for the sparkly charms that hung around their necks and wrists. The leader stepped up to them. He was the only one with something on his head; dull red ribbons of cured meat wrapped around his skull in a crude turban.

Sally came prepared, and pulled out a pair of translator earbuds which she handed him. She took hers out, smiled, and showed him how to put one in each ear. His eyes lit up with surprise, but he didn’t take them out.

In the ensuing conversation they discovered that the people lived in small clans, but all worshipped the same gods. They called their planet Het-Kre. There were thousands of clans who ruled the planet according to the leader, Huth.

He built a crude fire and they sat around on logs and rocks, talking for many hours. Rick was an intuitive guy. He was always able to read people by their eyes and body movements. That’s why he whispered to Trent that he didn’t trust their host.

Everyone slept outside. Rick agreed to take first watch. As the hours slowly crept by his curiosity about the buildings increased. Why not sleep in them instead of outside? He stood up and stretched.

The first building was just a few yards away. He walked up to it and peered inside. Too dark to see anything. Pulled out his utility light and shone it on the racks of…meat. But this meat had human-like faces that looked similar to Huth. And, meat from other species splayed open on drying racks.

Bodies were split open like cattle. They ran in neat rows. Troughs for blood. Drying skins hanging from the ceilings. It was a slaughterhouse. He rightly guessed that their main staple on this planet was the residents themselves, and any unlucky travelers that came their way.

He cautiously left the foul room and went back to where Tent and Sally were sleeping. “Time to go,” he whispered into their ears. Without question, they followed Rick back into the forest. After they’d gone a distance, Rick told them what he saw.

It was light when they made it back to the ES Star Chase. Back in space they talked about what to do next. “Let’s find a planet that no one else is living on and start our own civilization,” Sally said, with a coy look at them.

Both men smiled, and asked, “What shall we call it?”

As It Stands, I could see doing a novella on these three characters. What do you think?

The Toddler and the Conqueror

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At eighty years-old, Nulf was considered a toddler on Venus. The average age among Venusians was 1,000 years-old.

He was an energetic kid who loved to collect things like artifacts from other planets, and other life forms. He was especially fond of finding a new species to put on display in his room.

Each specimen was displayed in the exact environment they came from. Servants came by Nulf’s room once a day to feed his collection, and to clean out the cubes waste.

Artoin Nes was excited. His spacecraft was entering a new solar system to conquer! After relaying his discovery to his commander in Utunal, he instructed the navigator bot to chart a course to the nearest planet.

Plan in hand, Artoin Nes ordered his fleet to battle stations. The flotilla of space-fighters were locked-and-loaded well before they attacked Mercury. It took the Utunalians two days to overwhelm the crude technology that the Mercurians tried to defend themselves with.

As in the other conquered planets, the inhabitants were forced to pay a ransom; whatever natural resources the Utunalians deemed useful. The inhabitants had to meet a yearly quota. If it wasn’t met, savage destruction would follow.

The invading Utunalians were met with much stiffer resistance when they attacked Mars. Not only were the Martians fierce fighters, but their technology rivaled the attackers.

Nulf knew something was wrong when a servant came to his room and summoned him to his parents quarters. For the first time in his life, Nulf’s parents didn’t have calm faces.

Nulf’s father came right to the point,”Our allies on Mars are being attacked by unknown enemies. We must honor our pact with the Martians and attack their foe.”

“You know what that means Nulf,” his mother said. “There will have to be a mind meld.”

Nulf couldn’t help but be excited. He’d never seen one before. Only in times of dire emergency did the 17 Great Lords gather in the great hall.

Despite the Martians bravery and technology, the Utunalians massive fleet was causing considerable damage to the planetary shield wall. Commander Artoin Nes directed the bombardment.

It was interesting when planets fought back. Artoin Nes saw himself as an omnipotent conqueror and each planet his private playtoy. The victory was always sweeter if the victim struggled.

One of his Ranger squads finally broke through a section of the shield and instantly honed in on the Golden City of Tandia. Deadly laser beams set the great city on fire. It’s inhabitants panicked. They’d never been exposed to violence of this magnitude.

Nulf’s father, Din-al III, was sitting at an alabaster round table with the other 16 Lords of Venus. They were chanting. One-by-one their eyes rolled back in their head. The incense burning in the room made Nulf dizzy, as he watched from nearby.

Utunalian’s throughout the fleet were holding their heads and crying out in agony! The fighters started spiraling out of control. Ships slammed into each other and exploded. The mother ship with Artoin Nes hurtled down into the Martian landscape, crashing in the Red Desert of Xoon.

The Martian militia took the survivors from the crash and locked them up in electrified glass cages.

A week later, to celebrate Nulf’s 81st birthday, his parents took him to the auction house to get a new specimen for his collection. One – who was screaming and pounding on his cage caught Nulf’s eye.

He looked like a lively source of amusement for years to come.  The auctioneer gave a brief bio on him, and said his name was Artoin Nes.

As It Stands, irony is one of my favorite themes.

 

How ‘The Human Beings’ Became Pets On Neptune

Paradise Found?

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Prologue:

In the era following the great nuclear wars there were small groups of mutated humans and animals scattered around the planet.

Climate change caused hundreds of islands to sink into the sea. Once lush landscapes were turned to deserts. Civilization, as man knew it in the 21st century, was reduced to ancestral memories…

The Kank’s long hops were rapidly closing the distance between it, and it’s prey. The prey however, had a plan. Stopping suddenly, Orun Tallman, turned around and raised his spear, a thousand year-old weapon made by the ancients.

The Kank took one last leap, eagerly anticipating a man-meal. Instead, it went crashing down into a pit lined with sharpened sticks with toad poison on their tips. The impaled Kang screamed several times, and finally went limp.

Orun waived to his clanmen. They cautiously came out from behind the nearby rows of green corn. They all wore dark green cloaks held on with a golden clasp. Each had a spear and a sword, or long knife. All ancient relics

If it wasn’t for the fact that they all had light blue skin, were hairless, and had six-fingered webbed hands, they looked just like the people in the sacred history books.

The small clan of 80 people were ruled by a circle of six judges. Three males, and three females. They called themselves “The Human Beings,” and lived by a few basic rules. Equality, and freedom, were cornerstones of their beliefs.

The most unique thing about The Human Beings was their lack of religion. They prayed to no gods. Instead, they lived their lives a day at a time. In the present. When they looked up at the night sky they saw stars, not gods.

There were no regular seasons to grow crops. The fruit and vegetables that managed to survive had morphed into different shapes and tastes. With the Kanks, and the Roons, roaming the land it was impossible to farm.

The Human Beings were forced to lead a nomadic lifestyle in order to survive. Hunting and foraging took up most of their day.

Orun was the clan’s best forager, and hunter. It was he who discovered the museum that yielded the weapons they now carried. What they weren’t able to take with them was buried in another secret location.

The Kanks and the Roons both had smaller brains than The Human Beings. Their crude weapons were no match for The Human Beings, but they made up for it in their body structures.

The Kanks legs were heavily muscled, supporting a powerful chest and short thick arms. It’s reptilian head looked too small for it’s body. They prayed to a panel of gods, each with a different power. Their were almost 200 Kanks.

The Roons were powerful, short, and squat. They looked like a blend of man and wildcat. Their multi-colored coats could change colors like a chameleon, allowing them to attack unwary prey. Combined with their speed, the Roons were formidable enemies.

They prayed to a single God called “He.” There was less than a hundred of their kind.

The Roons and the Kanks had one thing in common; they loved eating The Human Beings.

Orun had a vision for his clan. It involved finding a safe place to live where there were no Kanks, Roons, or any other clans that wanted to kill them.

Was it destiny? A matter of luck? Or, if you will, a miracle?

When the first Neptunian Cruiser came to earth on an extended space tour, it got close enough to earth to make out it’s inhabitants. The gigantic passengers (averaging twenty-five feet-tall) were delighted to be able to see new life forms.

Earth was added to the Neptunian travel packages after that, and soon became the place to visit in the solar system. It wasn’t long before sanctioned hunter ships began appearing and bagging “game.”

A live alien from earth soon became a precious thing on Neptune. There just weren’t that many of them. Most were too savage to be kept as pets. They killed each other off in no time. The lone exception was a small clan recently discovered called, The Human Beings.

Because The Human Beings couldn’t breath in Neptune’s atmosphere, they built clear walled enclosures that allowed visitors and inhabitants to see each other. The enclosure was a replica of where they lived on earth, right down to the soil, fruits and vegetables.

Orun Tallman, already highly thought of,  became a revered member after he made the pact with the Neptunians. The Neptunians were so pleased with their new zoo that they started searching for other civilizations that needed “rescued.”

As It Stands, I wondered how to do a zoo story with a twist, and suddenly Oren Tallman appeared!

The Legend of the Last Tiger

He was a Shaman once…

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Harry and Greda were lost in the vast woods of Wildermare and their oxygen tanks were getting dangerously low.

They’d been on Hunter’s World for over 23 hours, and only had enough air left for less than an hour.

The Hermit who lived in the Wildermare woods, their intended prey, was once a respected shaman in Atland. His species were wiped out by Lord Awraths legions of lions. But they never could catch him.

Now, he was a target for every pair of human hunters who could afford Lord Awrath’s game fees. They all hoped to kill the last of his race.

Thus far, he fended off every attempt. Years ago, it use to be just one hunter stalking him. Now they were coming in pairs, since last season’s record high of 14 hunters killed.

The Hermit’s biggest advantage was this was his world, and it’s atmosphere was deadly to humans. It became a game of cat and mouse, as the hunters turned back towards the ship’s safety.

Greda saw the Hermit first. He burst out of the thick underbrush and landed on all four paws in front of Harry. Unlike the Hermits cousins, tigers on the planet earth, he could talk and reason as well as any intelligent species in the solar system.

“You lose!” he roared, and with one swipe of his huge paw shredded Harry into bloody ribbons. Gerda fired her Super Laser 3000 and missed. Her oxygen was depleted when she was sent to the same hell as Harry.

The Hermit didn’t know how long he would be able to elude his hunters. He suspected they’d come in threes after today. But it didn’t matter.

He had a reason to live. Life wasn’t boring, and he did enjoy chasing those clumsy human hunters. He had to be careful of their weapons, but they were slow.

The Hermit became a legend, his story told throughout the solar system, and in distant galaxies. It inspired many species to make brave last stands.

As It Stands, this is my twist on hunting, a so-called manly sport.

 

The ‘Good’ Genie from Mars

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The Martian desperately steered his spacecraft towards earth.

Bright blasts from the partical cannons of his pursuers streaked by his tiny craft on both sides, incinerating the space junk that clustered ahead.

Only Han-jinn’s speed and dexterity, combined with the AI interface of the spacecraft, kept him a step ahead of his enemies.

He only had one Vortex Accelerator Thruster left. It was his last chance. There were too many of them after him this time. His bank robbing days were going to be over…one way or another.

Knowing he might never see the red plains of Mars again, or the spectacular rivers that ran underneath the surface, Han-jinn made the decision to live, and threw the switch.

In the blink of an eye his craft was resting awkwardly on a big sand dune. There was only desert as far as he could see. The main computer was busy gathering information while images of the area flashed by on the silver screens in his control pod.

He was relieved to see humans looked just like him. They even came in different colors, like Martians did. He hoped to go among them, if he could find his way out of this desert – the Sahara Desert – according to the geological information being feed into his headset.

It was going to be a long walk, his computer earbud informed him. He strapped himself into the exoskeleton that added two more feet to his height, making him eight-feet tall. He was use to intense heat.

Al-Malik and his nomad comrades looked up from their noon day meal and saw Han-jinn in the distance. They were left speechless as he came nearer to their camp. Concern crawled over Al-Malik’s face as he muttered, “A Jinn.”

As Han-jinn walked into their circle all five of them fell to their knees and touched the ground with their heads.

“Are you a good Jinn?” Al-Malik asked as he looked up hopefully.

“How do you know part of my name?” Han-jinn wondered. Just then, the earbud came through with a summary of the situation.

“These men are Arabs who believe in Islam. In their mythology and theology there are supernatural beings called genies, or jinns. In their holy book the Quran Jinns are mentioned frequently (the 72nd sura is titled Surat al-Jinn),” the earbud informed him.

“Simply put, these supernatural jinns can be good or evil. Sometimes they are even neutrally benevolent,” the earbud concluded.

Han-jinn stepped down from his exoskeleton mobile platform and stretched.

“It’s your lucky day my brothers! I’m a good jinn – Han-jinn – looking for a good time.”

As It Stands, all cultures have their own mythology, and bank robbers!

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Drink at Dewey’s Bar

The End To An Era

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Dewey’s Bar was a good place to get drunk and disappear.

It was located next to a unique wormhole that only allowed for time-travel to the planet earth. Life forms from throughout the solar system enjoyed visiting Dewey’s place. Things were always hopping. Good times. Sometimes romance.

The parties at Dewey’s Bar were known to inhabitants of 100 solar systems and galaxies. The owners liked to brag that whatever happened there, stayed there. It was a rogue planet only accessible by extensive criminal contacts and a safe escort through thousands of air mines.

Lonecust, a space raider from Earth, loved Dewey’s bar.

The obnoxious drunks repelled him. But he had to admit it was a good place to get hammered and meet other beings. He watched a lithesome Venusian sip her cocktail like a real lady with her delicate mandibles. Two Martians were laughing at jokes a chubby Neptunian was telling them.

A group of traveling entertainers from Zreeeren, a nearby solar system, were doing magic tricks in an effort to hit on some hot chicks from Jupiter. The background music blended with all the languages being spoken in the cavernous bar.

The thing about Dewey’s bar was that it was a haven for criminals since the earth was formed millions of years ago. Outcasts always populated the tiny dwarf planet that was home to Dewey’s.

For a moment – a zano second – Lonecust thought about backing out of his deal with the Teronnet Federation. But he knew he didn’t have a choice. The device they planted in his chest would explode if they thought he wasn’t going to go through with his agreement.

Actually, it was a fair trade, if it wasn’t for blowing himself up with the rest..

Earth was going to be spared the wrath of the Teronnet Federation if he planted the bomb behind the bar and blew up this dwarf planet. Of course, he understood that they expected him to be blown to hell with everyone else.

Still, he thought, there was hope, as he sipped a Plutonian boilermaker. If he could jump into the wormhole right after planting the bomb (that second), he’d end up somewhere in Earth’s history.

Nostalgia unexpectedly brought a tear to his eye. How long was it since he had his first drink at Dewey’s bar? At least 30 years. In one swift movement Lonecust jumped over the bar, stuck the magnetic bomb onto a keg of moon beer, and melded into the wormhole by the mirror.

The next moment Lonecust was sipping a beer at Dewey’s Bar in Scranton, Pennsylvania circa 1952. It was 2 a.m., and the owner, Mike Dewey, called for a last drink.

As It Stands, I suspect there will be a time when time travel is commonplace.