This blog will contain stories taking place in two universes. In one 'reality', Earth has been hit by a large asteroid that wiped out most of the population. Stories (with the exception of the intro) will follow those spared by the impact as they struggle to survive on the now hostile planet. The other story line involves an invasion by a large alien fleet intent on settling on Earth and ruling over mankind. All stories belong to Mihai Pruna, no republishing without permission.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Core snickered inwardly at Katie's question directed towards the... entity, for lack of a better word. Thinking of Gaia, he'd picture a ball of green, white and blue, unspoiled and teeming with life. The landscape rolling five hundred miles below looked like a cross between Mars and the Death Star.
"No, Gaia is obviously a female entity, and I lack gender. I think...Adeve should be my name. For after you leave, I will truly be the last of the human species left on Earth. Adeve sounds genderless, too."
The spacious cockpit of the shuttle they'd been living in for the past two weeks was oriented towards a true orbital shipyard. Among dozens of construction ships, theirs was taking shape. Core pushed himself towards the glazed nose of the shuttle for a better look.
"I still can't believe this", he thought. Adeve had decided to send them on a quest to search for other humans throughout the galaxy. If any were found, Core and Katie were to let them know of his existence, and send a message towards Earth.
A veritable Star Trek, that's what this adventure was shaping to be. Their ship would travel at near light speed, and their first target, Alpha Centauri, was only a week away in ship time. They would signal as soon as something was found, or continue on. Adeve would patiently wait for their answer. Of course, there was the slightly nagging matter of all the other probes that he'd sent vanishing without ever telling him anything. Adeve had put up a very reassuring tone when he'd said that their ship was way more advanced than his probes, and capable of taking on anything out there...and all it needed was a couple of true humans to steer it the right way. And as a bargaining chip, heshe said there were life extension pods aboard the starship that would rejuvenate him and Katie whenever they went in, allowing them to essentially live forever.
Core, who'd read a lot of Sci-Fi as a teen, could take all this in stride, but he often wandered if Katie was perceiving this as simply a bad dream she couldn't wake up from. Her demeanor gave away little insight of what was going on in her mind, unless she wanted it revealed. She'd always been like that, and Cornelius had found out too late how unhappy she'd been with their relationship. He now missed those first few days in this future, when she was bewildered and scared and she was reaching out to him. But as time went by and the strangeness of their situation lifted, she had become more aloof. She didn't shut him out completely, but she acted towards him like with an acquaintance rather than a friend...or a husband. And they'd never slept together, curses!
He was startled as she bumped into him, floating toward the window. He reached to steady her, but she grabbed a rail and quickly pulled herself away before he could touch her. He could tell that she was embarrassed and afraid of giving him false messages. Double curses!
She said, to no one in particular: “I hope we see real Alien life forms, that is, life not originating from Earth.” She’d majored in biology for a few semesters before switching to marketing.
Core thought he should be more worried about what lay ahead. He could be getting them into something sticky, and it wasn’t his life he was worried about. After rescuing Katie from sure death, he could be putting her in peril by agreeing to this foolhardy trip from scientific curiosity and thirst for of adventure. But, was there really an alternative? Though Adeve never stated that they had to leave, heshe’d never asked them if they wanted to stay on Earth or in the Solar System either.
Since his…or whatever, its influence didn’t seem to extend to other star systems, they would at least be in charge of themselves during the trip, and maybe find a nice planet somewhere…settle down…have kids. Or maybe not have kids, the way his interactions with Katie were progressing.
“I’m going to bring us in for a closer look” Core announced suddenly. He could have brought a zoomed up view of the starship on one of the screens, but he’d use just about any excuse to fly the shuttle manually. Talk about wildest dreams came true.
“Please be careful” said Adeve.
“She … it…heshe… can be so melodramatic”, Core thought as he gingerly pushed the jetfighter-like throttle forward. “The planet could take over the shuttle at any time, so this is probably hisher highness way of making us feel more comfortable by playing mere human with us.”
The genderless contralto voice offered another cookie.
“I think you should take this shuttle with you. There is one more aboard your starship, much more versatile, whereas this one is designed for Earth’s atmosphere and gravity field. But since you, Core, seem to enjoy flying it around and you, Katie, might have developed some affection for it during your time spent aboard, I think it’s fitting to take it along as a memento of your time spent here, with me.”
“Wow”, pondered Core as Katie shot him an amused look. ”Adeve is trying really hard to show heshe understands human psyche." I wonder if heshe truly wants to be like us…fleshy and sociable.”
Then, another idea shot through him along with a slim feeling of hope. Maybe Katie was reserved towards him because she felt under surveillance by Adeve at all times. Maybe once heshe cannot monitor them, when they are speeding away from himher, maybe then Katie will open up to Core.
The starship was almost two miles long, with a diameter of about five hundred feet. Core had spent some interesting hours going over schematics with Adeve, and by now he felt he understood the principles behind the machinery, even though the details escaped him. If anything broke during the trip, he hoped the maintenance robots could fix it.
In essence, the starship used matter/anti-matter reactions to propel itself forward with huge explosions behind its stern. It could generate antimatter from matter by using its enormous total conversion reactor, which occupied three quarters of the length of the ship. The reactor could also generate matter in any configurations, and thus feed the passengers and provide spare parts for the ship as well. Anything could be used as fuel, and the starship had powerful electromagnetic scoops that could pick up anything from air to asteroids and send it into the reactor’s dual inlets. With the inlets on both side of the central section, the ship resembled a gigantic jet airplane, with stubby wings and no tail. The wings were used to radiate any excess heat into space.
But this was not all. Relativity dictated that even this ultra powerful engine could not push the ship to speeds that would allow them to cover the colonized strip of galaxy in less than a thousand lifetimes. Which, if Adeve’s rejuvenation contraptions worked, they might actually live, although it made for some boring spans of time spent inside their luxurious tin-can.
Fortunately, an artifice allowed the ship to trick physics. As they moved faster and faster, the laws of relativity dictated that the mass of the ship and its inertia increased, thus reducing acceleration. It could never achieve even a quarter of the speed of light. Kind of like the rabbit that always eats through half of the remaining cabbage patch, and never finishes it.
This starship though, it contained a field generator that made the rest of the universe ‘see’ a progressively lighter version of the ship. Thus, as speed increased, mass remained almost constant and apparent acceleration decreased much more slowly than it would have sans the field. Pretty nifty tricks. Adeve had said that this was the first time a ship like this was being built, at least to hisher knowledge.
And, three weeks later, Core and Katie stepped foot on the ceramic floor of its hangar deck for the first time. As the shuttle touched down, artificial gravity came online, building up slowly to one Gee as they got accustomed again to walking.
Though they’d both contributed to the design of the living areas, walking around caused may Oohs and Aahs. There was the greenhouse, where seeds caught in the Hummers wheels had bloomed into beautiful flowers as random genetic variations had been introduced to the few species represented. A small stream led to a pond in the center, and a bike and running track twisted around to provide almost a mile of scenic jogging.
The inner surface of the dome could project three-dimensional vistas, and today a rustic landscape surrounded their garden.
Their quarters, separate, unfortunately, each had five large rooms, which right now were furnished with standard 21st century furniture and amenities. Later on they could configure the living spaces at will, using the extensive library and their imagination.
There was a common area as well, filled with couches and gadgets, and a gym.
Core had insisted on adding a Trekkie ‘bridge’ where every function of the ship could be accessed from two leather couches, via configurable controls or simply by voice commands.
Katie in turn had wanted a real observation deck, not just holo-screens, and thus a ¾ sphere jutted in front of the ship, circular windows dotting its surface.
“We need a name.” Core smiled at Katie. “Since you didn’t get to name our gracious host, I think you should name the ship.”
She smiled back, a rare sight:”Let’s call her Hope.”
“Hope it is.”
Two days later, they were ready to go. As the mass negating field activated, they would lose contact with Adeve, so this was a goodbye of sorts. They would send a message back from Alpha Centauri, which Adeve would receive about ten years from today.
“Be careful. You have showed me what it means to be human, and I thank you for that.” Cornelius nearly sputtered the champagne he was drinking. He exchanged looks with Katie, and instantly knew that she too felt this was overly sappy, like a bad movie.
“Goodbye Adeve. We’ll send you love letters.” Katie chuckled. Cornelius pushed the big red button. All outside views suddenly went blank due to the mass negating field, and a computer rendering of their path appeared on the main screen. They were off, but couldn’t feel any signs of movement. Hope was already outside of the Moon’s orbit, flying faster and faster into the great unknown.
Behind them, Adeve could finally start working. Heshe would not be alone for long.