Greater Good Protocol (2)

Greater Good Protocol (2)

Part 1 – “SAFE ATMOSPHERE” – here

Part 2: published here


I’M THAT KIND OF GUY

It’s no fun,  being tied up and dragged behind a vehicle at breakneck speed.

In case you’re wondering, and want to try it yourself – DON’T! Contain your beer-fueled impulses, folks! Don’t kid yourselves, I only make this look easy and enjoyable!

Continue reading “Greater Good Protocol (2)”

Fenrir

Fenrir

„Fenrir, jam all outgoing signals and patch that in.” The message started with the familiar Strix United jingle and the main screen on the bridge went blue. „No! Kill the video feed, show me the transcript!” Captain Rains’ orders overwrote the AI’s standard routines, and it did as it was told. The message projected unto the analysis screen. It started scrolling down as he read it. „Ha!” He slapped the console in a fit of joy. „Got you, Wong.” The AI encrypted the message again and took it from the screen. The captain leaned back in his seat and was very much pleased with what was coming. He closed his eyes and started thinking of all the gruesome details of his revenge. A smile slowly sprawled over his face, like the legs of a bird spider.

„Fenrir, start recording the signals broadcasted on the designated frequencies. Bounce Paine out of his bunk, and make me coffee.” Rains yawned and ruffled his blonde hair. He started thinking that he’d never get the chance to redeem himself. “Revoke all level B 20 permissions for Brack’s ID. Remove his login-history and cancel his pending requests. I won’t have him butting in.”

„Yes, sir,” the AI answered in a flat tone. The coffee machine came to life snorting and gargling like a choking man.

Minutes later a tall shadow, Lieutenant Paine, appeared in the doorway bubbling drunken zombie words. „Sowhyamupnwhuusresponsble.” Rains pointed to the brewing machine. „Thankgd,” he shuffled towards the coffee, arms stretched out to welcome the dark burnt scent.

„I’m bored.” Rains said, as if to himself. Paine turned around eyeballing his captain. „Aren’t you sick of being stuck out here, freezing your dick off? Wanna go for a hunt instead?” That got his attention, he forgot his curled fingers in front of the full coffee can.

„Where’s the hook?” Paine swallowed, they were Sleipnir’s emergency backup, but he was definitely interested. The captain behaved quite unusual, for the first time in six months, he seemed genuinely happy about something. Never a good sign. He inched his way towards the captain’s seat. Being forced to tail Sleipnir for half a year has been agonizingly boring, he admitted. For the captain it must have been hell, shadowing and monitoring the man who destroyed his life. This was going to be fun.

„No hooks,” Rains smirked,„and no survivors…”

Only hours later, just before virtual sunrise on Fenrir, a distress signal reached the ship, triggering the alarm.

„This is Sleipnir. Fenrir, do you copy? This is an emergency!” The male voice came in over all frequencies. Rains punched a button and the alarm died.

*

It was dark and cold on the damaged Sleipnir. The AI on the ship scanned the nearest area, tracing every course it would be able to take. It did its best to power the life supporting systems. Both of its humans were safe for now. It calculated the possible surviving ratios and decided not to show the results to its captain. „They are receiving the message,” it said instead.

Captain Wong bowed his head, buried his face in his palms. This was the worst possible thing to happen.

„Doctor Wellington’s vitals are stable. No signs of internal hemorrhage.” The AI scanned for the other AI in the vicinity. It sat on the northern hemisphere of Vesta, waiting for orders. It would take two hours to get to its current location.

Wong coughed slightly, with the smoke filtering through the ventilation. At least none of them was dying. Yet. „C’mon!” He waited.”Mayday! We had a critical accident!” No answer. Where was the cavalry? Wong’s stomach froze to a hard icy ball. “We need emergency evac! ASAP!” He looked at the unconscious doctor. He hit his head pretty hard. “Our oxygen will last for three hours. Fenrir! DO YOU COPY?” The com remained silent. The instruments showed, that the transmission has been received. “FENRIR! Dammit!”

*

Captain Rains sat alone in the dawn of the bridge, feet on the com console. He grinned and folded his fingers. „What will you do now, Wong?” He chuckled softly. Behind him, a door slid open and closed. He felt someone, most likely Paine, move through the darkness. That was a man to his taste, a bad soldier but a good mercenary. Rains harrumphed and manned the mic.

„Fenrir here. That’s a no-can-do. Make yourselves comfy, cause that’s where you’re gonna stay.” Fenrir’s AI showed a simulation of Sleipnir’s position on the main screen. „We meet again, Wong.”

A gasp filled the air and the aether. „Rains? Is that YOU?!”

“Captain!” Brack shouted from wherever he was running towards the bridge. “Captain! Emergency!” His thumping feet nearly reached the doors. “Captain!” With a whoomph he seemed to collide with it. Rains rolled his eyes and sighed. The door skid open and a big hunched over shadow panted in the doorway.

„This is a distress signal. DAMMIT! MOVE YOUR ASSES OVER HERE!” Wong screamed.

„What did I tell you about second encounters?” Rains asked casually into the mic. Over his left shoulder Paine’s hand held out a cup of steaming coffee.

„Donno, I wasn’t listening. I was busy humping your mom!” Wong barked. The low growl in his voice couldn’t hide his despair.

„This is payback.” Rains shook his head. He took the cup and was surprised it was one of Paine’s.

„Captain, why are we ignoring emergency calls?” Brack breathed horrified.

„Stop pissing.” Rains stared into Brack’s confused face. Scans showed the vital damage to Sleipnir. Paine poked a finger at the analysis screen. „That’s their problem!“


pic: from movie: Prometheus

almost friends

almost friends

– 1 –

I slouched on my bunk and stared at the ceiling hologram revolve. It was the boiling ocean throwing itself against the rocks of some shore. It was Kageshima’s time to watch the sea. In about one hour I would change it to the starry night sky over the Sonoran Desert. This was relax time, after a 25 hour shift on the transporter taking us to the mining regions in the asteroid belt.

With us I meant, Ivanov, Rico, Kageshima and me. Captain Rizzo would remain on board. Five men wedged into a tin can floating through the black emptiness of the space, heading towards some expensive rocks and dirt. The journey we just started would take seven months.

Kageshima was moving, and I watched him start his tai chi exercises. Eyes closed, concentrating on his movements, his muscles worked under his soft skin. I pulled my prosthetic leg in, so he’d have enough space.

I heard he had a fight with drunk Rizzo. It ended with calling names and a bloody nose. No doubt it was self defense on Kageshima’s behalf.

Rizzo was doing the job for over twenty years, and he was lonely. The booze must’ve killed enough neurons that he’d try to hit on Kageshima. On a ship like this, there wasn’t much else to do than drinking, and facing the one eyed snake. And Kageshima had a distinctly feminine appearance, small and slender, long lashes over dark almond eyes. That old fart went insane over any trace of feminity.

“You’re officially classified as liquid, Kintaro.” I told him, and decided to watch his back from now on. Rizzo wouldn’t dare to pick a fight with me. I’d break him in half, with my pinky. 

“Sumimasen, sorry?” He turned to me confused.

“You move like a bengalese tiger.” I stated and meant to be appreciative. Kageshima pulled a sour face instead.

“Ian, don’t say that.” Did I hit a nerve? Why was he stressed? “Did Jefferson set you up? He did, didn’t he?” His black eyes glistened, his cheeks boiled. 

“Rico?” I shook my head. “What do you mean? Set up?”

“Nothing in special, just curious.” Kageshima lied. He was bad at it! Why would he lie? What was wrong? “You two know each other for long?” He asked carefully. I had the feeling that I needed to be wary, for some reason. Kageshima sat down, beside me.

“Well, yes. We already worked for five years together. On Gorgo Beta. A mining ship. He saved my life.” I patted my prosthetic left leg. “I was sent out to repair one of the giant waldos, and Rico was instructing me. Somehow, I got my security line tangled up in the hydraulics, and when the gear slammed back into motion, the gripper went online… You can imagine. It caught and yanked me into the grinder mechanism.” I tapped my left prosthetic arm and eye. “It tore my arm from its socket, ripped my leg straight off.” Kageshima’s eyes lock on mine.

“So… Rico’s your best friend.” It sounded flat, as if he was stating it to himself. He looked at me and smiled. It was a sorrowful smile, the saddest I ever saw on a man’s face.

“Yeah…” That was a strange reaction. “Come on, he’s the funniest guy. You’ll like him, once you get to know him.” I tried, but Kageshima stood up.

“Let’s talk later, Ian.” He said and resumed his exercises.

– 2 –

There was a killer on board. I had seven month to unravel his identity and to pin him down. I went through the received data from the ministry. The profiles of Rico Jefferson and Ian Dervall were promising. I could rule Ivanov and Rizzo out, after today’s incident. Rizzo really thought I’d be defenseless. He won’t make the same mistake again.

I shared my room with Dervall, a huge afro-american cyborg with sand colored eyes. He occupied the lower bunk, I had the upper. A quiet man, with the average of ten words and two facial expression a week.

My first thought upon meeting him was, that he was Jefferson’s brute lap dog. The way he followed him everywhere, like a shadow. Gaining his trust was most important. I started with him, and see where it takes me.

I knew he and Jefferson had a history together. They worked for five years on the same mining ship, most likely side by side. It was that time, when Dervall had his accident, leaving him a ruin of a human being. I’ve read the log data and the surveillance feed transcript on that accident. It was fishy. Someone had it altered. I wondered why though…

On the ceiling, the ocean hurled and splashed against rocks. It was the comfort holo for the passengers, designed to keep us happy. Depression was common during these long flights. I chose it to soothe Dervall’s alertness to my actions. Monotony was a cyborg’s weak spot.

I used the time for tai chi, to let my thoughts fly. A clear mind is a most effective mind. “You’re officially classified as liquid, Kintaro.” Dervall said. I mustn’t let him know that I was capable of killing him with bare hands. My moves could betray me.

“Sumimasen, sorry?” I managed.

“You move like a bengalese tiger.” He added a gummy full teeth smile. Did he see through?

“Ian, don’t say that.” I hoped not. It’d be very inconvenient if he sussed me. “Jefferson set you up? He did, didn’t he?” I tried.

“Rico?” He shook his head confused. “What do you mean? Set up?”

“Nothing in special, just curious.” I thought of his pain and suffering. I sat down on his bed. “You two know each other for long?” I looked at what was left of him, lining of scar-tissue ripping his perfect dark skin to ribbons, stitched up with nearly skin tone prosthetics.

“Well, yes. We already worked for five years together. On Gorgo Beta. A mining ship. He saved my life.” He patted his prosthetic leg. “I was sent out to repair one of the giant waldos, and Rico was instructing me. Somehow, I got my security line tangled up in the hydraulics, and when the gear slammed back into motion, the gripper went online… You can imagine. It caught and yanked me into the grinder mechanism.” What if that wasn’t an accident? What if it was a cover up for something else? Dervall tapped his left arm and eye. “It tore my arm from its socket, ripped my leg straight off.” Did he even remember how it happened? I doubted that.

In his eyes, I could only see the dullness of a man under heavy medication. “So… Rico’s your best friend.”

“Yeah…” He furrowed his brows. “Come on, he’s the funniest guy. You’ll like him, once you get to know him.” I bet! Something told me that Jefferson was a dangerous man. I had to be very careful about this.

I stood up. “We’ll talk later, Ian.” My body went on with the exercises, but my mind raced.


This short story was an assignment for HWWF 2015. The task was to interpret a dialogue from two different points of view, and that the characters talk about a person not present, lighting two different sides of that absent character.

Sleipnir

Sleipnir

this is an assignment I’m working on and thought of sharing with you guys-

also content warning: strong language

 

„Where’s – the horse?“ The words. So hard. To speak. Heavy. My eyelids are heavy as stonework. I swat at the light in my eyes and the fingers forcing them open.

„What horse?” The light hurts. Who’s voice is that?

„That kicked me. Somewhere…Chest” Sighing. „Proto?“ The light and fingers retract. The floor is spinning, so I have to hold tight.

Above me, a silhouette fogs up. „Don’t you scare me like that, EVER again!” I know that uniform, that shape. A captain-shaped uniform! Huh… What’s he doing here?

I’m soaked and flat on my back. „Still on the ship, aren’t I?”

„Aye. Still on board of my Sleipnir.“ His words fall on my stomach, their weight make me nauseous. My head is empty. Think! What am I doing down here? Something went wrong. Dosage? Anaphylactic reaction? Why am I wet?

„Oriented to location. Now tell me your name.” I obey.

„Oz. I mean Oscar Wellington. Doctor.”

„Good. Who am I? Don’t roll your eyes, you know the drill. Location, person, time, situation.” Yes. I know the drill.

„2198.“ I don’t have to think. „You’re the captain. Edward Wong.”

A disappointed shade crawls over his face. Or is it anger? I can’t tell. „Do I have to run a drug test on you? Were you high, or what?! How do you explain THIS?” He waves at me, the destroyed electronics and scattered data sheets on the floor. „Why were you locked in, and floating facedown in that tank? Spill it!”

Everything’s smashed… I sit up. Just look at that mess! My work! „I-I dunno.” Six months research! What happened here? “Wires?” What am I hooked up to? A defibrillator unit… „How many shocks did I get?”

“One to 250 and three to 310 Joules. Jumpstarting you wasn’t easy. I might have cracked or broken some of your ribs.”  He looks at his hands, as if they were bloody. “It looked like you wouldn’t make it.”

„Explains why I feel like a schnitzel…”

Eddy’s eyes search for mine. I can’t stand the look. „Who did this?”

Why was I fully dressed, if I was doing a hibernation experiment? “I’m sorry—„ I start pulling off the electrodes of my chest and back. “I can’t remember. All I know is… I was testing new chemical compounds.” My first accident ever. Cardiac arrest is not an option… Strix Genome won’t be pleased with my near-death-experience… Of course, this is not the first accident with hibernation research anyway. CPR is taking long, which means that my electrolyte metabolism is off balance… Where is my safe guard? Where is Proto?

“You mean, you did this on purpose?!” Eddy bellows. “You little prick! You asshat! You were DEAD! No breathing! No pulse! What do you call that?! Fuckin’ power-napping?” Oh-uh. That shade of red can’t be healthy. A human volcano is going to spit a ball of anger right into my face.

“Eddy, I’m sorry.” He grabs my torn shirt and pulls me up to his face, lips tightening.”- Really sorry. Okay?”

“–NO! What if I hadn’t pulled you out in time? Or the liquid destroyed your lungs? There are no prosthetics on board! And you are THE doctor. IDIOT! Even downloading and printing would take nearly half a day!” He lets go and turns to leave, but has some powder left. He’s not done. „Where’s your lapdog? Where is Proto? Isn’t it supposed to watch your back? PROTO? Where are you hiding, you little shit?”

“HE is doing research. I sent him.” At least, I think I did.

The captain turns to the surveillance panel in the medical unit. „Don’t make me laugh! Babe? Who’s on board?”

„Captain, Edward Wong. Doctor, Oscar Wellington. My robot pilots, ninety-six maintenance robots, and my neural hub.” The Sleipnir answers in a flat tone.

„See?” Eddy gives me the I-told-you-so-look. „Where is Proto?” he asks.

„Proto is – not on board.” WHAT?! „His suit is – not on board. Scanning… Scanners are jammed.” Another I-told-you-so-look.

No! Where is Proto? He is priceless! He is a being between an AI and a human clone. A miracle, if you ask me.  For the captain, he’s just an AI, in a meat suit…

With a soft purring of the Sleipnir interrupts. “Warning. Warning. Collision imminent.”

“What the hell is going on?!” The captain shouts sprinting out of my lab.

SCOOTER

SCOOTER

The screen flickered to life. A simulation of the landscape hidden under the thick blue methane and helium clouds unraveled itself. My custom navigation grid stretched over it, and listed all promising magnetic anomalies in the partially viscous crust. Areas of seismic instability stretched further into the polar regions. That was what the analysis program showed me in the lower right corner. I threw out my right index and thumb and the writing faded away. I did not plan to stick around to witness any crust activity.

Through the bull’s eye the surface seemed so peaceful and lush blue. It reminded me of Earth. The upper atmosphere showed a relievo ribbon of white clouds further to north to our orbiting position.

What bothered me most were the atmospheric pockets and the wind velocity, unpredictable and vicious. Even the CPU had problems showing me depressurization timely. Scooter was approaching faster than the simulations showed. Something was off. I had less time than calculated. That peacefully looking blue under me was deadly. It was ready to tear me and my glider to shreds. If anything went wrong, I could only hope for a fast death.

To my right side the com came to life. „Crap,” I sighed. Of all crew members on duty it must be him.

„What did you just say?” Rains’s guttural voice filled the tiny cabin of my glider. I didn’t have time to put up with his yapping, so I ignored him diligently. „Decker? Protocol?” The best I could do for now, but he was one annoying fellow. „Do you copy?” I’d sign him up, if there was an Olympic discipline called annoying. I bet he’d be top ten. “Decker!”

“No time, Rains.” I needed to focus. „Buckle up!” This was going to be quite a ride. I pulled my straps tighter and started the sequence. The countdown appeared on the screen. Ten seconds to detachment.

„Decker! Is this your idea of—„ I pinched my fingers together and the tone died instantly. I grinned into the video feed and watched Rains ugly face deteriorate.

Five seconds. Rains was signing me something. First he pointed at me with his index, then he seemingly slammed his middle finger into the screen. Ouch. I only could imagine how pissed he must be, losing this bet to me, so I blew him a kiss. I got to be dolphin and he had to be mother hen. My name was going down in history, not his. The first human to drift with Scooter around Neptune.

Two, one.

Trip.

A deep rattling went through my seat, and my stomach lifted off. My glider shuddered and moaned as the winds caught my wing panels. Rapid acceleration swept me to the left, and the glider bucked. Scooter’s vanguard storms caught me in a powerful stream. Air speed indicators spiraled insanely. Exceeding sound velocity! Already! Although I was sealed in properly, I felt the static charge stinging on my skin, even the air tasted sour. I imagined the sonic boom reaching Rains, making him spill his hot coffee.

Stabilizers were screaming, thrusters working at maximum performance. The blue darkened to a steel-gray. The slipstream sucked me down into the lower regions of the atmosphere and the storm picked up speed. The grey withered to a blueish black. The wind screamed around my little plane. Unbelievable! Lightning flashed inside, nearly blinding me. Everything shook, sounded as if someone was throwing rocks at me. Must be hail, methane hail. God of hull integrity stay with me.

Scooter was approaching. I was the very first human to meet it. The first one to see its funnel. Face to face with the to fastest cyclone in the solar system.

***

My cabin was lit dimly by the instruments and screens. The read-outs went head over heels. I couldn’t make out a thing, the information was changing so fast. Simulation toppled over simulation, illuminating the darkness washing in from outside. The hail went as fast as it appeared, leaving me with a cracked porthole. Between the towering cloud formations I was just a speckle thrown into a blender.

To my right Rains was still there, waving his hands frantically, mouth moving like a dying fish. I unmuted him, and a thunderous scream filled the audio feed. I jumped in my seat.„You—„

Rains looked as startled as I was. He furrowed his brows. The scream lowered in tone and volume to a metallic screeching and low-key buzzing.

„Wind? Interference?” I don’t know if I was audible. No reaction from Rains.

Then the screeching got louder and louder. It filled my cabin, my head, the console. It got so loud that I tried to put my hands over my ears, although I was in my suit.

I saw Rains muting my audio feed and staring at me.

The noise got louder and louder. It hurt. It clawed at my eardrums, tore on my nerves. The air felt hot. I smelled blood. Rains eyes bulged.

Can it get even louder? Nausea was on it’s way. Unbearable!  My stomach shook, my lungs vibrated.

I screamed.

I screamed at the noise.

I screamed at Rains.

I screamed.

Alec, the (war)time-tours guide

A Chuck Wendig prompt - create a character(283 words *IknowIknow*)

Ah, is this gonna be one of those interviews? I’ll have none of that. Thanks.

Of course I know what you wanna ask!

‘Sex, age, job, full name and shoe size? Pimples on my ass?’

Well? I’m a time traveller. Obviously.

Don’t stutter. Ugh … Please, could you stop wasting my time? You know what? Shut up! I’ll talk. I tell you something people never ask.

I travel through time. And it’s horrible.

I can’t shake off the wooziness. I’m nauseous nearly all day. Can’t eat or drink too much, cause I throw up.

I have to eat a lot of sweets, so my brain doesn’t crash after a jump.

My hands shake whenever I get stressed, and I’m stiff in the morning. And not the good kind of stiff. My cold joints hurt, my back aches and it stops when I’m moving. So I have to move. Constantly. I have to run, jog so I can walk properly.

Nightmares are my routine. 

How’d you feel, if you’d forget your daughter’s first steps, or her birth? Yes, I’ve been there. Seen her, laughed with her, hugged her, nuzzled with her and sucked in her sweet scent…

Tell me, would you trade those memories?

For money?

For some egomaniacs, who plays war-safari and kill, without risks? Cause they’ve got privilege, ‘n enough money to buy themselves the right to kill people.

I want to throw up, every time I see one of those sleek suits.

The doctors call it temporal multi-sensorial memory runaway. A special kind of retrograde amnesia.

But you’ve heard of time traveller’s disease, haven’t you?

There you go. Now do something with that!

how to disrupt “the sacred silence” and ruin mankind

- Part 1 and 2 -
- Part 3 -

Sneeze minus six minutes.

*

Harold grunted heaving his ample body up the narrow stairs. „Damn you stairs.“ The chilli kicked him in the guts repeatedly, before he noticed the dark silhouette staring at him. It stood quietly at the stairhead, in complete silence, waiting and staring. „Captain Pain, sir. You wanted to see me?“ Harold gasped. He felt stupid for being startled like this.

„Move along. I have work for you.“ The dark figure said and turned to walk away. The movement looked so slick, as if it was floating away from the stairs. Harold stared at this for a second or two, and thought of the first time he met Pain.

That one damned November night… On Earth, to be more precise United Territories, Bay area 132-ish. Harold wasn’t sure, he had been wandering the whole night, climbing fire stairs, hiding in the shadows, looking for the perfect spots to observe his favorite apartments, or spying out new ones to visit. From time to time he encountered other humans on the rooftops, but he preferred not to interact to with any them. The night was his hunting ground, and had no impulse to ruin it with the babbling of other humans.

He had been followed for quite a while. Harold knew that, felt that, under his skin, on the back of his nape. It burned like a short circuit, like a loose wire. The hot tingling  warned him whenever he was in danger. He had dubbed it his “creepomatic sense”. He remembered the soft gleaming of a cigarette always behind him, in some distance…

That blasted night he kept himself busy. His mind didn’t come to a rest after visiting his favorite apartment. The peaceful elegant atmosphere, the paintings, the books, the liquor – it usually calmed him down, after a stressful day at the museum. He remembered, that particular day was hellish. Someone clogged the ladies lavatory on second floor. Coincidentally several school classes visited on that day and some jerks blew up a stall in man’s restroom floor level. What followed was an ungodly mess he had to mop up, and all the toilets had to be sealed off that day.

When Pain got to him, he was in a vulnerable position, bodily and in mind. He had been ignoring all the unusual noises and his creepomatic sense, which was screaming at him. He was deliberately kneeling – also very unusual for him- ready with the lock and turning the doorknob. Fifth door, ninth lock, his mind kept on blustering.

Suddenly he became aware that someone was standing behind him, but far too late. The side of a hand came crushing down on the side of his neck, like an airplane onto a mountain side. Short violent blow, well placed.

The world went black.

In his first shock he nearly shat himself.

Coming to tied up like a the cattle he saw in old cowboy movies and documentaries, he knew that something awfully bad was about to happen. Either he was going to be branded or arrested.

He thought a detective, or worse – the police had him. Though the universe being the universe and having a sick sense of humor, the police would have been the best thing happen to Harold. But not with this universe. No, sir!

The man bringing him to bay seemed a dark muscular blur with the most disturbing grin he ever saw. It was Pain himself frowning at him, patting his head. He looked so damned proud of himself that Harold wanted to punch that face with a chair.

Pain sat on the floor in front of him, in the hallway he just opened the door to, in his hand a can of beer. What followed was half an hour of calling names, negotiating, which involved being kicked in the nuts and bowels. Harold shuddered at the memory and decided to push those thirty minutes back into the furthest corner of his mind. His subconscious stated that there was an agreement at the end of that half hour. He would keep opening doors, never asking and that he would follow Pain wherever he went, as his servant or lap dog or whatever pet Pain felt suitable. In exchange he wouldn’t be arrested, nor going to jail. Even better he was under Pain’s protection, or supervision – you may call it what you like…

Nothing much changed since then, maybe the lighting got better, and he had a ridiculous amount of space between him and other people’s apartments, the Earth in general.