Tag Archives: futuristic fiction

The Antierra Manifesto – blog post #79

(The one-on-one battle to the death between Antierra and Warmo continues and concludes.)

This is his power over me, he knows.  He pictures himself to me thus:  I see the spy who took over the leadership of the people I had come to love so long ago in Galilee and Judea, the serpent who destroyed the work begun by the man I’d hoped would change things forever.  I see the Christian judge in C-16 who had me tortured and hanged as a witch in England.  I see the father who rejected the blind daughter and condemned her to a short life in the wilds of Scotland in C-19.  I see the husband who beat me regularly in the barn on that farm in eastern France.  I see the SS Obersturmführer in Paris who personally directed the torture of female prisoners connected to the French underground and at whose hands I died.  I see Warmo himself, master of the T’Sing Tarleyn official Inquisition and my recent escape from his clutches.  He shows me that not only is he going to finish the job, but he’s going to get every woman still alive who was released from his torture that day. 

 

End blog post #78
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Begin blog post #79

I must die at his hands.  No, not just die, I must know he has triumphed and I must wear the pain he will inflict on me as part of his necklace of conquests.  He must drink my blood while I still live and that crowd up there must know he is the Master.  ‘I am your death’ he whispers in my brain.  ‘I am the One who will destroy you and all those who believe in your power.  This time there will be no escape for you.  No next life, no place to go.  It ends here.  I will rape, not your body, but your mind.  I will destroy you utterly, Al’Tara.’

He has discovered my true nature and revealed his.  Whoever heard of such a contest?  Yes, in the stories of “The Highlander” – a similar tale of arch-enemies chasing each other across the boundaries of time until only one remains, evil or good.  This contest does not mean there are only two of us in existence but that one of us here, today, must die for all time. 

It’s my turn to touch his twisted mind with thoughts as clear as water flowing from melting snows on a high mountain.  I call forth my light and speak into his mind:  ‘I’m not so easy to convince that another entity, however powerful, however evil, can destroy me.  I have met with gods and other entities in the cosmos.  I have seen into infinity.  I have penetrated the very fabric of the web of life.  I have seen the twists and turns of infinite changes.  It does not have to end here, even if I cannot complete this task with this fragile and broken body.  I can escape you…’

I feel elation come from him.  I continue, ‘Ah… now I understand your game demon.  Of course I cannot escape from you.  I am bound to this fight by a promise I have made long, long ago.  A promise to help, not only the women of Malefactus, but those of Earth also.  I have a task to accomplish and I am trapped by it.  Yes, you are right, it will end here.  It will end between you, my ancient nemesis and myself.  I must defeat you, you give me no option.  I must.  And so let me show you how I brace myself for this final act.  However it plays out, I cannot let you have me for I’m all that stands between you and those I’ve promised to protect from you.  To the death of the self, Warmo.’ 

If only they would call a break!  But there will be no break. 

Already the crowd has become restless again.  They want a resumption of the gore; they want blood and they want to see one die.  They want to feel that death, the death of a female fighter.  They want him to tear my body apart and throw pieces of it over the wall into their hands.  They want to take their drug, the chakr they carry for their celebration and suck the blood from the dripping pieces.  They are blood-maddened, enraged. 

Aristocrats!  This time the arena authorities must have decided to take no chances and spend the money on proper policing.  Black-clad police-soldiers, armour pulsing in combat readiness,  begin to file down, goose-stepping through the aisles, two abreast, lasers activated to stun.  The crowd subsides somewhat.  The ones who refuse to settle down are removed without any struggle.

I move my arms and my legs as if I were working a water-logged wooden puppet.  But at least I can control my movements.  I flex my hands, elbows, knees and toes.  Everything works, in slow motion, so it seems, but it works.  I can continue.  Do I feel pain?  What is pain?  All of life is pain, it seems. Everything a birth and a death at the same time.  Nothing but a sea of pain that you swim in just to stay afloat.  And you wonder why you do it and you know:

It is the way of it.

Warmo stands now and has tested himself also.  He brings his hands together, grabs them, pulls then releases.  He forces his lame and terribly swollen foot forward and exercises it lightly, enough to show me he can stand and he can fight.  He smiles through his mangled lips.  I counter with the attacking female fighter’s last sound: the call to the death – “Aieeeeeeeeeeeaaahhhh!” and approach him once more. 

Into the death grip.

With the encouragement of the crazed crowd we come at each other.  No finesse now;  no wild moves.  Just pure determination and force of muscles.  Our hands lock together and we both begin to pull down, trying to break each-other’s wrists.  Oh, the pain!  He has the strength of the demon in him and if he could he’d bite at my face.  His battered mouth opens and despite the gap where I knocked out two teeth he still intends to bite into me and suck blood.

I lock in the bionics and tug down more, bringing his face closer.  The smell of him is overwhelming but I block it with my pain.  I give one final pull and snap his left wrist.  His hand goes limp.  I release it and bring my hand to his face, slamming into the bleeding gums, breaking more teeth.  He tries to bite my fingers as I jab into his mouth to grab his tongue.  He cannot and I tear it out of his mouth.

Meanwhile I’m still pulling down to break his other wrist.  Another pull and another snap.  What his hellish cross did to my wrists in his dungeon I have returned to him.  I know I have won.  Bit by bit I tear away at him, breaking bone, tearing into muscle.  I stomp on his feet with the bionic-equipped foot and break his arches, making him collapse on the sand.  I continue to beat his body to a pulp.  I aim a kick at his genitals and rip one of them off.  A few more blows and kicks and I ease off slowly, watching him convulse and bleed to death at my feet.

I stand utterly alone.  There is no crowd.  No arena, nothing.  Just empty space with colours floating around me as if I were experiencing the Shearing drive effect. 

End blog post #79

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #39

The second fight has lasted over three hours.  Later the doctor tells me it was the longest one-on-one combat fights ever recorded.  Even as Torlat still twitches on the ground the King rises, ends the tournament and dismisses the unruly crowd with a show of force from several hundred black-clad uniformed and armoured Hyrete police held in readiness.  As the police units file down the aisles in the stands all outbursts cease.  The fans file out to consider their staggering losses and a few to rejoice over their winnings.  Despite the mounting evidence that female fighters will overcome their male challengers on an average of three to one, these sick men cannot believe the evidence, going with their feelings of revulsion and hate; believing women are weaker than men and continuing to place their bets on the male challengers.   

I live another day, and to what end?  For the moment, there is but one end: to save Deirdre.

[end blog post #38]
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[begin blog post #39]

Chapter 17 – If One Woman Escapes

In the weeks following the fight I am employed, or better said, occupied, strictly as trainer of new recruits.  It is a time of reflection and observation.  I think about my performance, not in the physical realm – there is not much I could change or improve on that – but in my heart and in my mind.  I think about what I thought I would do here, and what I have done instead.  In deep and constant retrospection, I analyze my feelings.  The killings are now beginning to haunt my thoughts.  I feel like a murderer of innocents.  Innocents because I realize they are pushed to be what they are.  Something drives them, something they have no defence against.  I encounter that same feeling of helplessness and frustration I knew so well on Túat Har when I encountered injustice and the various levels of oppression constant in all her societies.

Balomo Echinoza, medical doctor and anthropologist, citizen of the world of Koron, intelligent, educated, aware; an interstellar traveler renowned for his research and writings, after fifteen years on this world is succumbing to the same misogynist force that controls all the men of T’Sing Tarleyn.  He falls into moods of uncontrollable rage against a woman if he feels she has slighted him in some way and strikes her without any qualms until the madness recedes and he realizes his act.  Then he plunges into deep despair.

How much longer before I too become like other gladiator females and fight simply because I want to live and I have no other choice, or worse, because I want to kill men?  I realize now that both the men and women of this world are victims of some Power beyond their will to overcome.  Even the rare Cholradil, the natural born empaths, do not see the problem of Malefactus.  They see themselves as the problem for being unable to become normal members of their society.

I thought at first the problem was in the local natural stimulant drug made from the chakr root.  A simplistic conclusion that was quickly proved wrong.  Neither Bal nor I use it and the few times I did, it only made me sick.  And why do the Cholradil – both female and male – remain immune to the sickness? 

Yes, I did learn that there are male Cholradil on this world.  The males never live past the rite of puberty.  When confronted by the female he must kill, she invariably kills him, end of story.  So, according to Deirdre, Cholradil males absorb large quantities of chakr in desperate attempts to overcome their dreaded affliction – all to no avail.  They cannot hurt another, no matter what is done to them and no matter what they do to themselves.

So, does one have to be born a natural empath to be immune to misogyny or can one develop that sense somehow?  I have no answer.  The only side issue I find from this line of questioning is that I would never want to become a natural empath.  To be driven to whatever end by a feeling you have absolutely no control over is a terrible thing.  It’s too much like an addiction.  On Altaria we are empaths by choice.  We choose how we respond to our feelings. 

I remember a time when I was going through particular angst over my visions of this world.  I entered into an extended fast without food or water.  To do this I walked up the green hills of my Altarian home near the valley of the Great Rift we call Shaliant.  I got to the top after three days of steady walking, not stopping of day or night – there is seldom any real darkness there because of our binary sun system.   I remember my feet being guided to my destination by the very soil and stone of the planet herself during my ascent, for she too is an empath. 

At the highest point I sat on a smooth red mound of sun-baked clay, now abandoned, made by travelling swarms of long reddish coloured architect beetles.  These creatures build their mounds over long years of endless work, going through a full cycle, then suddenly swarming and taking flight to the very last, travelling hundreds of miles before they must descend again, lay their eggs in the ground and die.  The emerging larva then begin their task of building a new mound.

Long I stayed awake through the days and the nights, sitting motionless, thus becoming more aware of life’s movements all around.  I knew the fundamental impressions I was taking from my world would keep me sane enough to know when it was time to return, whatever happened to me as a result of my choices.  They were the trigger I would use to cause the remembrance of my true self, whatever the dangers, the temptations or seductions put before me.

Allow me to describe this small aspect of Altaria.  Mists filled Shaliant in the mornings and gently lift, or fade throughout the day as one of our two suns fill the deep canyons to reveal the sinewy bed of the river Fallouin, longest water course on Altaria.  I could hear the dragged-out cries from the majestic osoleys, or sea birds, below the promontory outcropping where I sat and sometimes could see them soaring slowly and gracefully on the thermals far below my vantage point, their grey-blue wingspans up to five times the length of my body.  They come in from the sea during their breeding periods that last approximately two years.  Their time at sea we measure at seventeen to twenty-one years depending on the species.  There are tales on our world of the old sea people (still known as the Mer-people on Túat Har) talking to the osoleys and of their children riding them.  I believe these tales have more than a little truth to them.

But I hadn’t climbed to the top of Shaliant to enjoy the beauty of this totally unspoiled natural space, nor to guarantee my return in some future.  I had come to rediscover another aspect of myself… and to cry alone.  There is an odd flow of intelligent “mind” energy over Shaliant that has the power to block all telepathic connections.  It is so strong that you cannot take any flying object over it, but must circumnavigate it.  It blocks all flow of information from artificial computers.  Only natural life can penetrate the mystery of Shaliant, or survive in it unscathed. 

I wanted to block out the protective, empathic love of Altaria that flows naturally through all of us.  I wanted to re-experience loneliness, as I had known it on Earth and knew I’d know even more on Malefactus.  I remained on Shaliant for over a month.  I relearned how to cry within a brokenness of heart.  I relearned to allow all my feelings to jumble in and out of mind and heart and throw me in utter confusion.  I relearned how to live within the mad cacophony considered normal on non-empath worlds.

It was from these heights that I chose to fade out of my Altarian body, allowing myself to fall over the edge of the Great Rift, plummeting into the maze to re-awaken and manifest physically transformed, on Malefactus. 

Speaking of Malefactus, there is more to this world that makes me wonder.  I cannot see much of it from the confines of our sleeping and training compound, but in this micro environment some things are obvious.  You never hear anyone sing.  It is prohibited.  Why?  There are no visible birds except for the vultures that appear without fail at every killing.  There are no animals, wild or domesticated, except for whatever makes that lugubrious call on our walls in the night.  You rarely see a blade of grass growing along the base of the great stone walls or in fissures and cracks, though there should be.  If one does grow and is found, we are supposed to pull it out and bring it to a trainer to be disposed of… as if a freely growing thing was a sign of disease, or weakness.  Of course no one does that.  Any green thing we find, that being rare enough, we eat!

No flowers, wild or domestic, are ever seen.  No leaf ever blows in from outside, so my guess is there are no tall trees, at least in this part of the world.  Tiegli mentioned trees that made tents in the deep south.

Where do the vegetables we eat come from?  And the straw we put in our cages?  No answer.

I’ve been here several years now and the only thing that has changed is in the amount of sand blowing in and spreading in the yards, in the washing troughs and on the tables and seats.  We have to clean it out and sweep constantly.  I notice less rain also and on rare occasions our water has been rationed.  When I first came here I was aware of a salty sea smell on certain days when the winds blew strong and steady from the north-east, bringing in clouds and rain.  Now the smell is brackish and of rotting sea vegetation as on hot days when the tide goes way out in a collector bay.  I’m guessing the level of the water is dropping.  Is this a natural cycle or an environmental anomaly?  Is the entire planet experiencing desertification?  I have no answer.

Well no, that is not quite exact.  I do have the beginning of vision dreams now.  For years I wondered why my ability to dream was gone.  I think the same force that causes the misogynist imbalance is also responsible for preventing people from dreaming.  I know the women don’t dream, though some have reported seeing things at night akin to nightmares but they “see” their dreams as something happening outside of themselves.  They see ghosts wandering around the cages and walking through the walls.  They have little sense of creativity and most dismiss “brain images” as nonsense that will get you killed in the arena.

On recurrent dream is an image of the planet imploding, with all of her natural life force simply flowing out of her, leaving her, as if she were dying and sending off seeds of herself to re-grow herself somewhere else.  If this is the case, it may come to pass that the sun will also die and all that will remain to light this doomed place will be the cursed Albaral, assuming of course that it is indeed self-powered and its light isn’t just a reflection of the natural sun.

Each time I verbalize the name of Albaral I find myself entering a psychic trance and “seeing” ideas as well as images connected to this artificial sun.  This time I see the image of “Melkiar,” not as invading AI’s in spaceships, but as a gigantic artificial life form frozen within an ancient shiny black metallic carapace housing some kind of mind once an ISSA life, now drained of every aspect of its original self.  A monstrous entity capable of programming AI’s to destroy all that it once was, as if doing so could erase the memory of what it had been before greed for longevity corrupted it. 

Where do you exist now, in space/time, Melkiar?  Where are you?  What are your plans?  Is Albaral one of your observation posts? 

Could there be some connection between this world and the invaders of the United Treaty Worlds?  For example the doctor’s old auto-medic cannibalized from one of the UTW jump scout ships that was sunk beneath the massive stone walls of Hyrete: how was that embedded under a fifty meter thick foundation supporting a twenty metre stone wall without being damaged?  Melkiars could morph from thousands of small armed robots to giant inorganic brains encased in elephantine carapaces that could withstand the most powerful fusion weaponry.  The only way we learned to destroy these monstrosities were with tripleheaded singularity grenades which create multi-level fusion bursts that “ate” their intended target then “died” before they could expand into an uncontrolled melt-down.  

These Melkiar constructs could travel unaided through short distances in deep vacuum space.  They could hack their way through the hardest stone, causing havoc in mining communities of asteroid fields.  Certainly, if they did penetrate the Malefactus stack world dimension along with the jump scouts, they could have easily taken an auto-medic and placed it here.  The question foremost in my mind remains, ‘Why?’  What use would they have for an auto-medic designed to repair biological life forms, namely human bodies when their entire drive was to destroy all biologicals?

What else could they do we know nothing about?  Much research into their particular type of life ended with the wars.  No one wanted more to do with them.  Probably another big mistake.  But logically, if there is any logic to this place, why would they hide an auto-medic here in Hyrete?  Is it possible there are AI rebels even among the Melkiar who sought to save human lives?  Is there a relationship between the Melkiar, perhaps in some of their early penetrations in this Galaxy and the black metal men who defeated the green Desert Beast by blowing her ship out of the sky and subsequently enslaving the women and children of T’Sing Tarleyn?  What about the chronology of these events?  What happens to “linear time” when crossing dimensions?  Could the Melkiars have wandered in this dimension thousands of years ago while at the same non-linear “time” invading our dimension of the Galaxy?

Obviously I’m not yet asking the right questions but I’ll get there.

[end blog post #39]

The Gyre Sniffer

a short story by Sha’Tara
(inspired, in part, by the article, “Gyres” by Bucky McMahon
View at Medium.com

There are twelve of us aboard the “Gyre Sniffer” as we call our sloop. She isn’t pretty, but can take gale-force winds as if they be but a breeze. All her gear is top of the line. Our crew is the best of the best of the best as they so proudly say in the military.

Our job? Well, more of a lark, really, because we were all very well off and could spend money liberally, was to find the sea’s most horrific, deadly, large, stinky, poisonous floating garbage island. We had heard that it was guarded by a giant sea monster evolved from the materials it had found inside the floating plastic garbage.

We hadn’t had much results with satellite feeds or “Googling” our target and we didn’t care. Actually, we didn’t want to rely on advanced tech for this, we wanted it to be a sort of Moby Dick adventure. We were first of all, going to have as much fun as possible, even when we came face to face with the plastic sea monster and prepared to kill it.

It was Selina, the Portuguese girl, who was the first to throw her tablet and cell phone overboard. We remonstrated her about this, of course, but her reasoning was impeccable: they’re kin to what we’re searching for, follow them! We’d had a few drinks, the joints had been passed around and under the circumstances we thought she made total sense. That’s how serious we were.

We had managed a pretty good gender mix, five women, seven guys, everybody from late teens to mid thirties range and all of us totally freed from any sex taboos. When the sun shone we went about naked and enjoyed ourselves whenever in the mood, wherever we happened to be lying or standing, by reading and studying – yeah, right!

We ploughed on, using solar power to run our freezers, fridges, computers and minimal guidance systems, enough to avoid colliding with any cargo vessels we may encounter which to this point was none. We would get excited when we saw flotsam and made for it. But like Selina’s tablet and cell phone, they were on the way, not there yet. Since following was too slow, we calculated the flotsam’s direction and pushed on.

When high, a couple would jump in the sea for a dive and swim and more sex. Sharks? We figured in such an empty world they had better hunting nearer beaches. Yeah, we’d all seen “Jaws” – we even had a copy on a disk drive aboard. That’s how serious we were.

We weren’t so much interested in killing a monster. We certainly didn’t see ourselves as heroes. We were, to tell the truth, just a tiny segment of the earth’s richest “kids” utterly bored with our lives. We had met here and there, at parties, ski resorts, spas, even in board rooms, make that bored rooms, and in semi-drunken, stoned talk, had put this thing together. We ‘coagulated’ together as we discovered our mutual skills and sexual attraction.

We bought the sloop, had her completely overhauled, came up with the Moby Dick idea, geared ourselves up and met one foggy, dreary morning at some dead-beat marina along the Florida coast. We sailed, I mean that literally. We had thrown out the diesel engine and back-up gas engine also. We were going to sail, come hell or high water. If it meant it would be a one-way trip, so be it because nothing is worse than depression borne of absolute boredom.

Though we had this vague goal of finding a garbage patch and, mythologically speaking, finding a plastic sea monster circling and guarding it, the main point was to become the residents of an ark, the last and only remnants of humanity. So, we would enjoy ourselves, pleasure ourselves, to the hilt and to the dregs.

We ploughed on. The seas rose and fell as did our sloop. We got used to the sussuration of the sea against the hull and the music of the wind in the rigging. We got browner, tougher, smarter and quieter as the weeks passed. We began to see one-another, not just as fun partners or sex objects or casual acquaintances but as individuals; as people, as brains and minds with gorgeous bodies not just made for sex, but to admire and to remember, even in our dreams.

I dreamt of our elected captain, Sir Oliver Hampwell the Third, or “Cap’n” who was twelve years my senior.

As I thought about Cap’n I felt years slipping from my heart. I was getting younger and increasingly introspective. I found so much emptiness in my heart, I had to dig in our stores to find the classics Eugene and Mira had insisted on packing (though they had yet to pull out a single one.) I chose Moby Dick simply because I’d studied it in college but never actually read it. Certainly not to grasp the deep philosophy underlying the story. I read. I actually read. When approached by Darwin who’d been swimming and looked like he really had a ‘need’ I actually turned him down, me! “Not now, Darwin, I’m busy. Later maybe?”

“H’m… sure. I’ll find somebody else, no probs!”

That’s how it was with us. No one would ever insist on getting their way, they’d just find another way, someone else. I was ‘in love’ with all our guys actually, it’s just that I was discovering I developed ‘my moments’ when I had to belong to myself. It was nice to be desired, of course, but even more so to be understood and left alone in those times. I think one could say I was re-birthing myself, re-creating myself. Actually it would be more accurate to say that I was giving myself a life: I’d never really had one before.

We ploughed on. Less and less we listened to satellite radio feeds. There was so much traffic, so much noise, it jarred with our ocean-filled ears. We got more serious about life, more introspective, more eager to share and understand; to listen to another’s story. I would say, “Jesper?” and not “Hey you!” I wasn’t the only one changing, we were all going through it.

We became philosophical. Imagine that, us, the spoiled brats of a planetary elite, seeking the meaning of life.

“When we return to the real world, it’s going to be so different,” said the diminutive Suki. I wonder what I’ll do…”

“Maybe we won’t return. Maybe Suki, this is the real world and we all came out of an illusion. Maybe this ship will sink into the waves and we will become part of something so big we can’t even imagine it,” said Clive, our fabulous cook with the body of an Adonis. I didn’t want to see Clive drown, what a loss, it seemed to me then.

“We won’t sink, we’re past that now. We will sail, we will grow, we will learn more and more. We will all change, evolve. Best of all, we will seek and gain understanding. We will see signs and events in the sea and the sky no one ever saw before and that will make us both, certifiably crazy, and the wisest of people. We can never return to our old lives, you realize? Our past is non-existent. We can only go forward.” So spoke Cap’n, the wisest among us.

We ploughed on, the seas parting freely for the sloop’s proud prow. One sunny morning, with the spray shooting up, I walked up, naked, to the jib’boom to lie on it like a goddess figurehead pointing the ship in the direction of good luck, and a safe harbour. I made it, eyes full of salt spray and I saw the gyre-created island to starboard. I cried out, “Island to starboard!” and slowly worked my way back to a safe deck then joined in the work of rigging our change of direction.

We circled the plastic island for days, smelling the horror of it when downwind. We were indeed horrified. We thought there could never be a man-made disaster worst than this.

Then we heard the news as we were attempting to communicate our find to the “real” world: The US had just dropped nukes on North Korea and both Chinese and Russian nukes had annihilated the US surface navy and taken out most major cities of continental US and Europe. In automatic response, US and European nukes were heading for Russia and China.

Our monster had struck before we could confront it and it mocked us as it sang to us of the end of the world.

The Story Teller

 

                                                       [a short story—by Sha’Tara]

So, as I was saying, I crewed with Abraham, on the old Windsong, you know, and as luck would have it…

“Hey, wait a minute, did you say Abraham? I thought the Wandering Jew died when his ship’s hull was breached by a meteor and the computers failed to sound the warning in time.  They found the records in the wreckage.”

Well, obviously he hadn’t yet eh?  Can I get on with this? As I was saying, the Old Man called his commanders to his cabin one day, that is, those of us temporarily out of fugue, and he said, “You dogs listen, and listen good.   I don’t have a lot of time left, no matter how much fugue I take, and with rats like this crew to command, not much of that allowed me or I’ll find my ship boosted and me shackled in the hole or looking at the stars without a face visor. Here’s the deal, and it will explain why I felt the need to hire a pack of criminals like you for this trip. Our manifest states we are hauling arka-brite to the smelters on Ita. You know this. What you don’t know is, we’re going renegade. Are you hearing me?”

We all nodded silently, looking at the floor, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“What, no argument from you pirates?   Fine. A couple of sleeps ago, I had a dream. There was an ancestor of mine with the same name I have. He too was a wanderer. Seems he was looking for his home and his god, so the dream said, spoke to him and promised him this home if he would do whatever he was told to do.   Fugue dreams can get very detailed, and often very boring, since you can’t get out of them. This one was interesting. This Abraham turned from his ways and began to follow the directions given him by his god and messengers, or angels or whatever you call them.   We’ve seen enough of these in our travels, not a problem to accept this possibility is it?  Still no comments?  Very well.  

“What I found interesting is that my ancestor stopped questioning everything. He basically did as he was told and he had a pretty good and interesting life all around. Women, battles, hobnobbing with some king in a place they called “Egypt” or so it sounded.   Then he had cattle that grazed on rolling green lands—I saw these in the dream—and he lived in tents that billowed in the wind. It’s my understanding that the god wanted Abraham to have children who would inherit the world they were on at the time and didn’t much care how those kids were “begotten” as the saying went, if you get my drift.”  

Old scar-face actually winked as he said that. Must’ve been a pretty exciting dream for him to demonstrate feelings!  He continued:  

“I couldn’t make out whether these people had ships, but it seems they actually didn’t. I know, sounds far-fetched but who knows the kinds of events that happen to worlds over time? In fact, if I understand the dream, they walked, yes, with their own legs, from place to place. They didn’t even use exoskeletons. Gravity must’ve been pretty low to be able to do that. Didn’t mention equipment either, so best guess, they were able to survive on it without suits. What else… oh, yes, in what I saw of it, this world had biological life all over it: things like live animals, plants, and open water, lots of open water in some places. I saw the sky: it was colored a light-blue. Now that makes for an interesting kind of world.  Best guess, I had a dream about Old Earth.”

Somebody chuckled a bit too loud.  Old scarface looked around until everbody stood rigidly at attention, stone-faced.

“Well, you rats, I have a mind to find that ancient world of my ancestors and if I can black-market our manifest to my smuggler friend Hino the Zealous for a half-decent payoff, we head out.”

I remember then saying, “Uh, cap’n, apart from the fact that if we’re arrested after high-jacking a load of arka-brite from Arka Corp we’ll all hang so to speak, do you have coordinates for this planet of yours?”

“I will have. I intend to do exactly what my ancestor did. Not for nothing they sneeringly label me the Wandering Jew. I am Jewish, not that it means anything anymore, but it did in those times, apparently.   My plan is simple: I intend to enter into fugue shortly and return to the dream. I intend to contact that god and get the coordinates from him. Since the planet was given to my ancestors, then it’s also mine.   Logical. If my people are already on it, then I’ll retire there and you can have the old Windsong. Lots of parsecs left in her yet. We’ll give her a facelift, change her name, registration, and off you’ll go boys.”

“Sorry to interrupt cap’n,” our computer analyst and programmer Bryxt cut in, “but you intend to enter fugue while connected to a brain scan?”

And as you space dogs know, it’s the only way to reconnect to the dream sequence, and totally illegal because in most cases, it induces what has come to be known as “gap” sickness, an incurable condition of acute paranoia caused by jumps.  Jumps is the only way to get around in space unless you want to spend eternity looking at the same stars.

“That’s what I mean to do, damn space admin’s rules or the consequences. If I come out addled, the ship is yours that much sooner, so what’s the worry? Toss my body out and we’ll be square.”

So, to make a long story short, the cap’n entered fugue connected; came out apparently sane and sound with a smile on his scarred leathery face that spread from ear to ear.

“All right you useless worms, contact Hino. The coordinates are in the computer. As soon as we’re cleaned-out and paid, we head out. A little adventure, that’s what a man needs at the end of his journey.   Space can get so damned boring after a while.”

We sold our cargo to the smugglers and entered worm hole TF-068 using a pirated ship’s signature from one of the smuggler’s barges and after some unexpected and bone-jarring jolting came out among the weirdest groupings of solar bodies I’d ever seen. Our computations had wiped out in the boost—hell, old Windsong was never meant for that kind of torture: she was a freighter, for Ajax sake! Of course we should have realized our cap’n had lost it when he gave us his plan, but you know, the captain is the man and if you want to survive space, there is but one rule: do what the man says once you’ve had your say.

We scoured that area with what was left of the ship’s computers working, found nothing, nothing at all. We were years looking, scanning, probing, sending surface craft to promising worlds until enough didn’t come back we couldn’t risk that anymore. We used up all our surface probes, most of which never responded. Those that did only increased our despair. This system we had tumbled into refused to make the least allowances for biological life, let alone human life.

Sanity was the first and greatest victim in our situation. We argued and fought with what little energy we had left. Most wanted to mass-launch the last jumpers and sling-boost equipment or crash land WindSong even to take their chances upon a particular world that seemed quasi-adequate for some sort of survival. Radioactivity was high but they argued they could beat it. Anything to get off what had become our prison on dying Windsong.   Anything to get away from the totally mad Wandering Jew who now spent his days hooked up to the brain scan that didn’t work, trying to recall his stupid dream. When he disconnected to walk among us, he had tears in his eyes, but they weren’t for us, for having stranded us. He didn’t see us, or hear us either. His tears were for his damnable dream. He began to talk to his ancestor’s god out loud and we shuddered, giving him wide berth whenever we heard him pleading, demanding, cursing, sighing. Off the chart, he was, poor bastard. We even felt sorry enough for him not to boost him out the air-lock.

From a healthy and happy crew of 68 men, we were whittled down to 31 emaciated ghosts wandering through the ship’s corridors when the damned angels appeared.  

“So that’s how you got back?”

That’s what’s so sick about the whole thing. I woke up here, right here, in this pub. Alone. No crew, no ship, nothing to my name, just old memories.

“What did space admin have to say about your story, man?”

Just a story, home boy. Bar tender, did that earn me another round before I return to the Heritage II?

“You from the Heritage? Hell’s bells, I should’ve known! We’ve been had, he’s one of those story tellers.   “

And all of you so sure you could spot a storyteller, eh? And also a shape-shifter, friends. That old man you made your little bets with before I joined your group was none other than myself and it’s time to pay up.   Better luck next time boys.

I could have been anything.  I could captain my own cruiser.  I came out of the Academy with top ratings, family money, prospects, offers, the works. Space is infinite. The number of ships that move through this one universe alone would be considered infinite. Possibilities endless. But despite the less than glamorous conditions of spacing around from galaxy to galaxy as a story-teller, you can’t beat it. It’s not only that we exist as double-agents, spying for corporations or this and that tin pot dictator or emperor searching for traitors, princes hunting for concubines and wives belonging to opponents; even indulging in sleuthing on the side—you know, to relieve the boredom between gigs—but there are other compensations.

I even had me a date with a blue-skinned Andromedan dancer last time through there and it didn’t cost me anything but a little story I made up on the spot. It would have been worth it just to watch her purple eyes dilate and hear that universally renowned laughter. I might tell you about that sometimes, but not this trip. My feelings are still too closely associated with it, especially the part where I was caught with her “in fragrante delicto” and trying to explain to the *Genoba that I had imbibed a bit too much Andy beer and was under the delusion she was an Andy goddess I had come to propitiate. He almost bought it… almost.  

Anyway, next time is next time. I have to board now, before my pub acquaintances discover the old man I claimed to have shape-shifted into was an old wino I found outside the bar and bought for a bottle of cheap rot-gut. So, I live my life on the edge. Why not? I’m young, not even 150 years old, galactic standard time, with a whole life, and more if I play my cards right, ahead of me begging for adventure.  Crazy?  Maybe, but if I stayed out of all the illegal, banned or dangerous places, where would I get my stories, and my money?  My very first commander, Light Leeta, would remind us at each enemy encounter, “OK people, remember, move to kill, move to win.  Live hard, live fast, live to live another day.  Go!” As the last surviving member of that motley crew, I can say this: it worked for me.

*Genoba, for those of you not familiar with the two or more dozen major Andromedan lexicons is the owner of a very high class, very exclusive Andy brothel, the kind that unless you’re royalty, or a member of the Family, you want to be sure you steer clear of.  The name itself isn’t originally Andromedan but followed an ancient family from Old Earth.  I know, nobody believes such a place did exist once upon a time but I have stories about it.  Another time.  I’ve got to board my ship, my actual destination to be given while in fugue.   They never give your destination until secured on board in case you get scanned and your coordinates lifted from your brain – everybody knows that, right?  OK wild and weird, here I come ready to live another day!