History Redux

Author : Allen McGill

LEADER was about to impart; hoards of followers pressed toward the sanctified podium in the domed plaza, along the warren of tunnels leading from it, and on every crag and terrace where the stentorian resonance could be felt. The silence of static thousands was tangible, pressing on the epidermal layers, smothering.

Suddenly, without warning or introduction, LEADER’s words bellowed throughout the cavernous domain, reverberating off the crystal ramparts: “We are the master race! The inferior humans must be destroyed! They have decimated all we’ve permitted them to inherit and now threaten our world with their incessant pollution, wars and diseases.”

LEADER’s corporeal image materialized beside the podium in an evolving emergence of light; angry red infused with the blue tint of sorrow and a purple shade of pain. LEADER’s physical being was immense, more massive than any other in the assembly. Bodily countenance spoke as clearly as the mind-projection of thoughts and words. LEADER would be understood and obeyed; the universe to change forever.

“Their ambassadors and politicians convey nothing but untruths; their so-called religions are nothing more than means to control, enslave, and lead our offspring into cults of self-indulgence and anarchy totally against our belief in the unity of all.

“Their inferiority extends even to their inability to communicate without ‘heard’ or ‘written’ language. They are of less value than the animals they devour, or keep in chains. We have been patient with them since we first allowed them to crawl upon the dirt of a pristine world and begin to destroy it. We excused their faults, pardoned their intentional disregard of our warnings and demands for care. Too long. Far too long. Possibly our own fault. But now the time has come to remedy the error.”

LEADER drew up tall, taller than could have been imagined possible, crystal-white of determination emanating from within the visible body. The atmosphere in the cavern was still as the congregation, warm to suffocation.

“I have decided,” LEADER continued, “and the council agrees with me, that we will halt the continuance and advancement of the human problem. The final solution! Extermination!”

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SC Bounty

Author : L. Hall

Martin’s hand waved lazily at the string of scented smoke that hung in the air. The tent smelled of sand and hot breezes, mixed with heady aromas of spices and metal. The mines on Cypress 304 provided the Wan Military with their massive ships, but the aboriginal people provided the metal. The taste, the smell, the heaviness of metal hung about the planet… enveloping the adapted vegetation.

The government had showed the cadets countless films; reels upon reels of warnings of contamination. Degradation of humanity was the most highly punishable crime; the human element could not be soiled by other planets. The military emphasized that non-Terran planets were inhospitable and beneath human consideration.

All the new recruits were psychologically tested after every third film, until it was ground in and concrete the contempt the men would have for other worlds. This was standard Wan protocol, to prevent AWOL and keep their people focused. A very young cadet Dremmel had measured his responses to the psychological tests, slowed his heart rate and answered appropriately; ensuring an assignment off world. Those who could not were doomed to a life in the lush but identical offices in a Terran bio-dome.

Deserts were non-existent on Terra-Earth and when a burgeoning Captain Dremmel arrived on Cypress 304, his senses exploded with unfamiliar sights and sounds. With watchdog mechanical eyes following everything the crew did, it was a rare occasion when Dremmel’s eyes would stray from his work. But when they did stray, he drank in the sepia desert and held it close to his heart.

After three years of active duty, Captain Dremmel’s crew boarded the “SC Bounty” to return to Terra-Earth. As the ship rose toward the upper atmosphere, there was a hissing sound as a piece of the extended cargo bay ripped off. Some distance away, three figures watched as the “SC Bounty” shuddered and fell apart, falling back into the lower atmosphere and eventually, the planet’s surface. The records of the Wan Military recorded no survivors… certainly not the Captain, his first officer nor his navigator.

Two years later, Martin breathed in the intoxicating scent of spice and metal. The taste of the Cypressian woman lingered on his lips. He stroked her dusky skin, following the ridges along her back. She chuckled and at the heavy sound, Martin’s skin tingled. Looking up at him with her golden eyes, she hummed contently. “You Terrans… You have such a hunger for desolate places…”

Captain Dremmel had gone native.

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Space Colony Delta

Author : Patricia Stewart

Space Colony Delta was the largest manned spacecraft in history. It was a three-mile in diameter donut that rotated in the most stable location in the Earth-Moon system, the Lagrange L4 position. The population of 12,176 souls lived and worked in the six Habitat Sections that were equally spaces around “The Rim.” Today, however, was not a good day to be living in Section 3.

The warning klaxon finally subsided. “What’s the situation, Chief?” asked the Station’s Commander.

“Not good, sir. According to the sensors, an iron-nickel meteoroid, approximately 15 feet in diameter, punched a hole through Section 3 about 15 minutes ago. The primary bulkhead doors sealed off the Section, but the damned thing went clean through, exposing almost every hallway to the vacuum of space. Anybody that wasn’t blown out during the decompression had about 20 seconds to get into a pressure tight living area or office space. They’re probably 1,800 people trapped, with anywhere between 12 and 24 hours of air, depending on the size of the room and the number of people in it. I’ve got both shuttlecraft evacuating whomever they can through the exterior escape hatches. But at best, they can only save about 50 people an hour. We have to seal the entrance and exit breaches, and re-pressurize the section, or over a thousand people will suffocate.”

“Can’t you seal the breaches with a meteoroid patch or sealing foam?”

“No, sir. The patches are sized to seal 99.9999% of possible impacts. That’s a hole of two feet in diameter, or less. The foam can only seal a crack less than three inches across. The problem’s the pressure. The fifteen foot hole equals about 25,000 square inches. At a minimum of 0.8 atmospheres, the outward load is approximately 300,000 pounds. A patch won’t hold unless I can tie it into the secondary structure. And there just isn’t enough time. I’m out of ideas.”

“Perhaps I have a solution,” said the disembodied voice of CACC, the Station’s Command and Control Computer. “If the Chief’s crew could open up the two exterior breaches to a circular hole exactly 18 feet 4 inches in diameter, you could plug the holes using the nose section of the shuttlecraft, and seal the gap using foam.”

The Chief was irritated by the stupid suggestion. “It won’t work CACC. As soon as we pressurize the Section, the shuttlecraft will pop out like a campaign cork.”

“I believe, Chief,” explained CACC, “that each shuttlecraft can produce 500,000 pounds of thrust for up to two hours. Properly coordinated, the thrust can counteract the internal pressure long enough to rescue everybody that’s still alive.”

It took 4 hours to laser cut two circular openings, and two more hours to seal the gaps. The shuttlecraft thruster loads were coordinated with the re-pressurization of the Sections, and at 0.8 atmospheres, the evacuation began. It was complete in less than an hour. Only 84 people died, all of them in the first few minutes after impact. Later that day, the Commander asked CACC a question that had been plaguing him the last eight hours. “CACC, you’re not programmed to have that kind of reasoning ability. How did you come up with that idea?”

“It wasn’t my idea, Commander,” answered CACC. “As part of my duties, I ‘read’ approximately 600 bedtime stories every night to the Colony’s children. A favorite is Hans Brinker’s story about a Dutch boy plugging a leak in a dike with his finger. It’s not a big leap for me to think of a shuttlecraft as a finger.”

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Serene

Author : V.L. Ilian

With only a beep the small wrist recorder came to life extending its minute sensors.

“Casefile 2501 /12– Primary analysis of crimescene. Hello Neko… what do we have today?”

A rather tall man in a containment suit approached. “Well detective, we’ve finished setting up the stasis field in the alley. Victim is a female, 16 years of age by all indications”

“Identity?”

“Not determined. Her retinas are unreadable due to heavy drug use prior to death. DNA hasn’t turned up a match yet so she may be foreign.”

As they walked past the blue curtain, an all too common scene of brutality greeted the detective. Resting in the trashpile, bathed in the shimmering light of the stasis projectors, was the body of a young blond girl, laying lifeless, staring at the sky above.

“The garbage truck found her there while it was making its rounds and called us directly. Unfortunately the area doesn’t get any other traffic. “

“How long has she been sitting there?”

“Estimated time of death is 17 hours ago …; cause of death is kind of difficult to pin down.”

The detective could see the marks on her broken body and the dried tears of blood from her red eyes, once blue.

“How many options are we looking at?”

“There’s evidence of violence, sexual abuse and heavy substance abuse…, legal drugs but they’re so many that the portable analyzer crashed. Also by the looks of her I wouldn’t rule out exhaustion, heart failure or even aneurism.”

“Must have been some party…”

As Neko went back to his men the detective approached the body. His movement caused ripples in the field, but that didn’t detract from the effect the image was having on him. “Serene” was the only word one could use to describe her. A girl looking up at the sky, brushing away the tears brought on by her unhappy life.

Once every few years a victim would get to him like this. The detective would see to it that this case would not remain unsolved…

“It seems we’ve interrupted dinner for nothing.”

Neko’s announcement replaced the detective’s thoughts with confusion.

“What on Earth do you mean?”

“The DNA just returned a match. Take a look.”

“I’ll be… That’s it then. Shut everything down.”

The detective, datapad in hand, approached the crime scene administrator.

“Give the order to pack everything up. Slap the maximum fine on the owner for littering and bill him for the department resources spent on this. Damn stupid people.”

“Sir… What about the remains ?”

“Pack it up and send it to the recycling facility… bill the owner for that too.”

He took a last look at the body before they stuffed it in a bag.

“They make them better every year… and I must be getting old.”

“Case 2501/12 – case closed – improper disposal of synthetic remains”

With only a small beep the recorder retracted its minute sensors remaining motionless… serene.

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Big Surprises

Author : Rollin Jeglum

“Sam, would you check the sensor detection module? Some of the readings are scrambled.”

“Sure, no problem. Any specifics?”

“Try the logic board in slot A3. I’ve switched to backup already.”

– – – – – – – –

Mining engineer Dean Jenkins stepped out of his transporter and surveyed the new landscape before him. Unfamiliar, unusual; but then they all were, and he had seen plenty. Jenkins wondered what these places might look like from a distance, but the transporters always brought them right to the site. He never knew exactly where he was, despite the readouts.

– – The wormies could put me anywhere – next door, or another world light-years away, Jenkins thought. Just a pile of numbers! What’s the range of these things, anyway?

The sensors had told him of the vast wealth of metals at these coordinates. Copper, mostly. Some tin, a little silver, even traces of gold! They also told him there were no animals or plants, and that the atmosphere was compatible. Also unusual, but not surprising.

– – And no pesky sentients! Negotiations were a bore and cut into profits. And some were downright hostile!

A dozen worm-hole ore transporters were soon in place and operating at capacity, sending the ore directly to the bins. Over three hundred workers filling them.

– – Breathable air! No environmental suits needed! Jenkins thought happily. With a find this good, this will be the most prof—

– – What! — Earthquake! Emergency evacuation!

His people had trained for emergencies and knew what to do. The ore wormies were emptied and workers piled into them. They will end up on an ore heap, but safe.

– – The sky seems brighter? Yes, much brighter. And a huge wave approaching. Water? Sensors say no. A large mass heading for us. Sentients? Could the sensors have been wrong? Impossible! Sensors say mass is hot –

– – Workers are safe; I can leave now. The wave! I’m not going to make —

Sensors record and transmit – Liquid envelops mining area, Fe encl Cu 750 F mass strikes area, mag. field det. Liquid explodes into vapor. Liquid Sn 98.5 + Ag 1.5 fills area. One casualty.

– – – – – – – –

“Hey, Sam! Have you found what’s wrong with that circuit board you pulled?”

“Yeah. Some weird corrosion around the leads to one of the chips. The rest of the board looks OK, though. A little flux, a little solder — good as new.”

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