Friday, September 14, 2018

Kosi Lionhair: 29. I Made an Offer?

I'm giving you the bare bones here, the rack that will eventually (fingers crossed) be fleshed out.  

Marti jumped forward and grabbed the lavender-and-red data-waver by one of its octopus arms. She swung the creature around her head.

Both the data-wavers screamed so shrilly that I could only fall to my knees with my hands over my ears. Shrilling through me, the one scream continued unabated until the wrenching, flesh-tearing scream arced away. Fell. Plop. Became a meeping, sobbing and painful weeping.

Luke was there before me. He picked up the injured creature by clenching its two remaining arms close to its body and would’ve grabbed me in the same fell move.

I jumped back. Stayed out of his reach.

“What are you doing, Kosi?” Jack yelled. “Come on!” Owen held him on the seat with a white-knuckled grip.

Luke thrust the injured data-waver into Jack’s arms. “Now you!” he said, crouching, getting ready to catch hold of me.

I retreated. “I’m not coming,” I said. “Go back to three years of hard labour in the service of my father? I’d rather explore this amazing, alien ship.”

Pallas grabbed Jack’s other flailing arm. Held his hand.

“Kosi!” he shouted. “Hen will speak up for you! After we tell her this whole, amazing story.”

“Me coming back will only complicate life for Du and Zee,” I said. “Hen has them to think about."

“This is all about you being a big sister, isn’t it? Sorry I said anything. Please come with us, Kosi.”

Luke laughed. “Too late! At last I have someone to run the ship while I’m away! I will definitely take you up on that offer, Kosi Lionhair!”

He whirled. Shouted. “Drop that!”

Marti dropped the data-waver’s bleeding octopus arm.

Luke caught her up and set her onto the chair, holding her in place with one hand.

She scratched at his arm and I had some heebie-jeebies at what came into view. That dark green skin. Reptilian, almost. Scraps of the life suit fluttered to the deck.

Luke adjusted something on a control panel on the chair’s side—why had no one seen that yet—and took his hand away as the four on the chair slumped.

That is, the bodies slumped. I could only hope that Jack and Pallas and Owen, and even Marti, had been waved back into their own bodies in SILO 23. The injured data-waver was gone in its entirety.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Modern Blood Letting

Missing my #SaturdayScenes posting seems to be the story of my life these days.

I'm just over another bout of illness so am not even going to try to make it up as I am still feeling a bit ragged around the edges. [In Stormy language that would be 'whimpery' around the edges.]

Illness requiring the kind of blood-letting involved in a blood test every second day over a week is a good reminder that chaos is always just around the corner.

One good thing, I had plenty of time matched with a remarkable lack of energy to do anything else, to read--and puzzle out--a novel written entirely in a 19th-century Dutch dialect.

I haven't read a whole novel in my mother tongue for many years, let alone one written in a dialect largely unknown to me, but thought the exercise could be helpful to my intentions to invent a proper dialect for the Stormies ... an invented people featuring in the Doomed? series.

Sometime when I get through the plethora of emails and other things that pile up when you don't turn on the computer for a few days, I may do a review.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Kosi Lionhair: 28. More Suspicions

Luke laughed. “One day I came down to the hold to fetch more food and there she was. I confess to antics very similar to the ones the rest of you engaged in just now. Then I explored.”

“I explored very thoroughly,” he said, gazing back onto me.

I stared back as belligerently as I knew how. “Hard to believe,” I said. “The whole story is hard to believe.” I didn’t add in the bit about him. How hard it was to believe him even existing.

“Fellow came down to fetch food and there-she-was-the-alien-ship?” Owen said.

“I also find the there-she-was difficult to believe,” Pallas said. “There will have to be a lot of proof trotted out before I can commit to that story. One of the difficulties being the explanations needed when we arrive back on Earth with you. When there probably are no records of you ever leaving Earth? Or am I mistaken in that?”

 “You don’t even rate a mention in that fairy story?” Owen said.

Luke smiled. He didn’t look as if like his Plan A had gone down the gurgler. My Plan A was in all kinds of trouble.

“Don’t stare at me, kid,” he said.

I shifted my gaze. I was coming to a frightening conclusion. I’d thought the trip back to Silo 23 was going to be safe for Jack, and by extension for Pallas and Owen. I needed them to be safe to get Jack back to Earth. Were they really thinking this dangerous not-man should accompany them? Would anyone arrive?

Luke laughed. “One day I dared to sit in that captain’s chair you’ve been admiring, Pallas EMBer. I’m over the shock now and can laugh about it but at the time I clung to the chair like a baby.”

Pallas and Owen just about had disbelief dripping off them but Marti said, “Then what happened?”

Such hope in her voice. I think everyone had forgotten her.

“This ship-combo travels,” Luke said. “I’ve been to a hungry construct orbiting a star called Procyon A. You know that construct as a planet called Lotor. The star is a lot like Sol.”

At least three of us noticed that Luke said Sol and not something familiar like our star. His disguise was nowhere near perfect.

He continued. “I checked out Procyon B as well. It’s large and angry and red. Moera, its planet, orbits in what must once have been a goldilocks position. It’s nothing more than a hot red rock now. Its people built Lotor intending to live out their time there.”

How did he know?

“You went to Lotor,” Marti said. “So you can go again.”

“Did you hear me say Lotor is a hungry construct?” Luke said. “It was hard work escaping. I won’t be going back in a hurry. This ship,” … he stamped his foot on the transparent alien floor we were all standing on, … “is all about time travel. So I’ll be visiting Earth next, where times are more recent.”

Time travel? Huh? My confusion maybe showed on my face. But no worries, everyone else looked just as befuddled. The Second Chance just gets dragged along?

“Earth?” Owen said. “What makes you think you’ll be made welcome? The aliens we already have …” His gaze into the faraway snagged on one of the data-wavers and I watched him refocus to see the data-waver in the present. A lightning fast understanding crossed his face.

Luke burbled on about his journeying. “Skip here. Skip there. I got sick of it. After I figured out I was going to be rescued for real—body and all—I brought the combo back here.”

Back here in this part of space, I reminded myself.

After a silent wide-eyed blazing from Owen, Pallas said, “Please explain.”

Similar to how he asked me to rile Marti back in Silo 23 at the beginning of the journey.

“Whenever I wanted time-out…” Luke said. “Time-out is, I think, how you say it. I spent some days on this neighbouring ship, this starship from Earth that you call The Second Chance, to listen in on whatever was going on in the area near at hand.”

Owen frowned at me. Don’t interrupt this long and convoluted account?

“I found it an easy matter to insert myself into the signals from Procyon Products to Moon Base. Moon Base asked details that I’m sure had Procyon Products scratching their heads but never once did they deny my existence.”

I nodded minimally. Wouldn’t dream of it. 

“Procyon Products’ famous greed I think you would say, “Luke said. “Since Lotor is a construct, and I was inside it, it was quite easy to study the EMBers sent to Lotor wherever they went. After I escaped and when I claimed to be one of you, Procyon Products turned the task of rescuing me over to EMBer management. Next I hear about you, Owen, Pallas, Bene and Lydia being sent to rescue me.”

My imagination got stuck on this dark-green alien individual climbing into an Earth-made life-suit. Would he even be the right shape to start with? Uh oh, keep listening.

“Nothing about a pair of stowaways,” Marti said.

Luke drilled her with a searchlight stare. “The way people talked about the Marti, I thought they might’ve been hoping she disappeared somewhere. And although she hasn’t, that can still be organised.”

Marti stepped back smartly.


 Far in the distance, as seen through three watery and a watery floor, I saw that though the baboon-like animals still grazed on their inverted meadow, one of my data-wavers, make that one of the boots, now flew among the herd, touching its friends—how did I know that—to let them know of …? Luke’s plan? Did that involve them?

The other data-waver beckoned me with tiny flights forward and back, forward and back, all the time making its way slowly to the hole in the floor.

I glanced at my shipmates. All four seemed engrossed in the scene at hand. I slow-footed toward the data-waver.

“Kosi has the right idea,” Luke said. “We should move forward to the outcome. Please follow her to the captain’s chair.”

Is that where we were going? The marvellous object that could take all of us together back to Silo 23, I recalled. Wits about you, Kosi Lionhair. 

I dived through the hole, expecting, I admit, to float through the way you do in zero gravity. Had to swim sideways frantically when I began to fall back! The gravity in the new room felt opposite to the gravity in the room I came from. Barely touched the rim and dragged myself into the new place.

Since nobody wanted Luke to touch them, they jumped or fell into the hole when he had encouraged them far enough.

Once I grappled Jack to the side, I had help getting Owen, Marti and Pallas up. Finally we all stood with our feet on the new floor, feeling like our heads were the wrong way up.

Luke jumped, rebounded and landed beside us like the expert he had to be. He pointed.
“Up is always the nock where the walls come together.”

Duh. Telling us now. Thank you for your instructions, I don’t think. But I checked the six places where the walls came together. Where The Second Chance joined the alien starship ….

“Now what?” Jack said.

My moment. “Now we organise to go back to Silo 23, and from there, back to Earth.”

“No. We don’t,” Marti said. “I have said and I have said. I want to go to Lotor.”

“Fine,” I said. “Go ahead and trank yourself, I’ll bring you the data-waver. I’m friends with them since the dream. And off you go to Lotor.”

Marti’s gaze tracked to where a data-waver awaited our next move. “The green and lavender coloured one brought us here, you said?”

I nodded. “So it’s the other one you need.”

“I don’t see that there’s any way that the EMBers would abandon one of their own, do you?” she said. “Look at the lengths they went to, to fetch him?”

I stopped my lip curling by force. Why did she bother comparing herself—a known quantity—with a mysterious being that Procyon Products would do anything to get their hands on? “Mmm,” I said in a non-committal tone. Encouraging her merely by commenting. How else to get any action happening? My mind was made up.

“So just trank myself, you said,” Marti said.

“If you have any remaining,” I said.

She laughed. “Well I didn’t waste it on you, did I?”

“No.” The data-wavers meeped a friendly chatter into my mind as they approached. They hovered around me.

Pallas climbed onto the gigantic captain’s chair and stood against the back. “I can’t wait to get my own body back.”

Owen joined her up there and encouraged Jack to crouch in front of them so that he’d be in the middle.

Wonder of wonders, Luke turned to me. “I need you to order the lavender-and-red return trip data-waver into your friend Jack’s hands,” he said. “They are not my friends, as I said.”

Marti frowned. “You told me I’d need the lavender-and-red data-waver?”

Guilty as charged. My plan for Marti was unravelling.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Kosi Lionhair: 27. The Three Boots

 Luke herded us toward the elevator and we went without further ado. Most of us were led by our curiosity, I think, about that amazing object. We arrived on the lower deck almost immediately. Not far to go from the flight deck to the hold on a starship after all.

The doors stayed shut because Luke leaned against the control panel.

“You planning to let us out?” Jack said.

“I had to make this elevator into a kind of airlock,” Luke said. “We need to wait for the air in here to equalise with that out there.”

“Really?” Jack said. He sounded as disbelieving as the rest of us showed on our faces. Even Marti. What could the man possibly have in the hold that would require an equalisation of air pressure between an elevator and a ship’s store?

“What did you mean by boots, Kosi Lionhair?” Luke said.

“Yes,” Marti said. “That was an interesting slip of the tongue on the part of a stowaway.”

Oh great. The not-man was going to try to throw us off track with a red herring, if that is the right terminology, and the volunteer will support him in his plot in exchange for getting her way. Good luck with that, sister. “It was in a dream,” I said.

Luke grabbed me by my shoulder and pulled me to his side, at the same time shaking me hard enough that my teeth rattled. Talk about fingers of steel?

I tried to shrug him off but no go. And no one helped me? I started to feel distinctly obstreperous. “It was a dream I had.” I rolled my eyes at Jack. Telling him to help me with some invention.

Jack shrugged. I might have had to tell the truth—that there was one boot for taking us there and one for taking us back—when Pallas interrupted.

“There are in fact three boots,” she said. “There’s one on Silo 23 and two on this ship. The trouble with the one on Silo 23 is that it is a later model. It’s a third or fourth generation copy and since PP still has no way of communicating with the Huddle, any boots that the Huddle produce seem not to have the same capabilities as the first boots known to science.”

“Which is the reason we need a new one,” Owen said. “As I said.”

I don’t recall Owen saying anything about a new boot. Meep, said the data-waver. She was still with me? Which one? Here’s hoping we don’t go into the different colour schemes.

“Mmm,” Luke said. “How would an EMBer not of this ship know that there are two boots here?”

Pallas shrugged. “You’re right. I haven’t seen them. But since there has been travel in two directions—there and back—as there has been, there must be two boots.”

Ouch. My plan must go forward with only the colours of the two boots still generally unknown.

“Do you remember the colours of the boot in Silo 23?” Marti said.

It does not pay to cheer too soon. “Talking to me?” I said.

“You were in the bunk with me.”

“Moss green, lavender-white tentacles?”

“Inside the boot’s opening I’m talking about. I know you would’ve taken notice as it went overhead.”

Marti finally thought I was good for something? But would me telling her and everyone else help or hinder the smooth unfolding of the desired events?

Yeah, right. What smooth unfolding? “Umm. Skin like a cane toad. … I don’t recall the colour exactly …” I hesitated as if to get confirmation from her. “Greenish with lavender warts?”

“Sounds about right,” she said.

The same Marti who had her eyes closed at the time, I now recalled. I did not sigh. Couldn’t show my relief. We left that boot behind on Silo 23. The sister-boot on this ship, the one with lavender arms and red warts, will wave the others back to Silo 23.

Holding me back, Luke hit the doors-open button. Pallas, Owen, Marti and Jack trooped past into the scene from my dream. The same two pyramidal shapes were still joined at their bases. They were filled with the same shining, sunshiny light without any evident light source. The inner walls still looked like upright sheets of smooth water. The creatures grazing downward along their slope swayed and trembled as if they were underwater.

One of the data-wavers hovered near an inner wall, above the hole in the floor.

Everyone except Luke and me staggered about trying to orient themselves on the transparent floor.

Pallas got her footing first. I swear she clenched her jaws when she saw the large-size captain’s chair in the quadrant below connected upside down to the floor we stood on.

The chair was quite close to the inner wall in that space, and we were quite close to one of the corners of the conjoined pyramids. The distance between the chair and us allowed us to see what it was.

Marti looked like someone trying to get her footing on ice. She fell over and picked herself up and fell over again.

Jack turned and stared back at me in Luke’s grasp. “Some dream,” he said. He didn’t sound friendly.

Maybe I looked injured because he proceeded to explain his point of view. “You’re not surprised, shocked, or nauseous like the rest of us?” he said.

“Exactly,” Luke said. “So it can’t be that she just had a dream.” He shook me again. “When were you here?”

“It was a dream,” I said telling Luke as much as Jack. “Marti didn’t trank me—she said she didn’t have enough of the juice—so when the boot helmeted over me, it gave me a dream? At least, I thought it was a dream.”

“Can’t trust anybody,” Luke said.

Considering it was a boot that gave me the dream, did he mean the boot couldn’t be trusted? Or, that I couldn’t be trusted? But what did he know about me besides nothing? I was a stowaway, a late addition to the adventure, and not even in my own body. Throw him a red herring? It’ll be tit for tat, as the saying goes. “I’d like to know how this alien ship came to be joined to the Second Chance?” I said.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Kosi Lionhair: 26. The Original Plan

The original plan being the reason for the space journey by the EMBers which is then adapted by Kosi ... 

Right. The original plan was that Bene and Lydia would wait on Silo 23. Hold station, I seem to remember that was called in EMBer-speak. Owen, Pallas and Marti would transfer to The Second Chance, wherefrom Owen, Pallas, Marti and Luke, and an original data-waver, would transfer back to Silo 23.

That did seem to mean that Procyon Products knew Luke. Or, that they knew about Luke. Suspicious me wondered where and how he had inserted himself into the records.

“And, anyway,” Marti said. “I decided that we’ll go further forward before we come back.”

Owen zipped his stern-face lips at me—warning me—and tipped his head friendly-faced toward Luke. “Easy, how?” he said neutrally.

Did that mean Owen suspected Luke? Happy days. I wasn’t alone in my suspicions.

Luke chose to answer Marti. “We’re wallowing somewhere between the orbits of Neptune and Uranus, about four billion kilometres from Earth. We haven’t left the Solar System yet?”

So kindly said, that I burned for Marti when I didn’t even like her. 

Marti, however, did not miss a beat. “It must be true then,” she said. “That all those people were data-waved. Or—possibly—this ship is on its way back from Lotor. It all happened fifty years ago. And that could be the reason why they are all wearing bike gear? That these are the bodies of the minds that went to Lotor? That somehow only the minds were sent on to the silo?”

Luke laughed. “They’re all wearing bike gear as an expression of support, meant as a morale-boosting thing for the poor sapients who drew the short straws and had to go.”

He said sapients! All the other impossibilities sank in the swamp I keep in mind where to store extraneous detail.

I studied Owen, then Jack and Pallas. All of them looked to be trying to calculate without the help of any software, the distance in Earth-years to Lotor. Or back from Lotor to where we were now. As opposed to light years, that would be. Not any of the three, that I could see, wondered about green glints, a dark green elbow and a mispronunciation. Joggle things along? 

“You didn’t listen to the whole story obviously,” I said, aiming my voice at Marti. “The Second Chance never went to Lotor. We’re on it. Ask Pallas if you don’t believe me.”

Pallas nodded.

I shifted my hopes to Pallas. Did she understand the situation we were in? I continued rattling the story, what I knew of it. “Joddy was small for his age, and a couple of years older than me when it all began. In the hold, there will be a kid approximately my size next to his poor mother.”

“I don’t believe they’re just in stasis either,” Jack said. “They’re being used up. Eaten while they are still alive.”

Pallas looked sick and well she might. Did she really think Bene and Lydia would still be able to be retrieved when we all got back to Silo 23? I corrected myself. When they all got back to Silo 23.

“All the minds from this ship were data-waved to a ship that had crash-landed on Lotor,” I said. “Ask Luke if you don’t believe me.”

Yeah, I know. Trick question. How else to find out who and what he was?

But he nodded. “The Mary Rose. Doesn’t explain why the kid is youngering. Is anyone else?”

“I’ll say it again,” Owen said. “The youngering thing is a myth. No one I know has met either Joddy or Lem. I’m fairly certain no one from Procyon Products has either.”

“I don’t blame the boots for the eating,” I said, looping back to the earlier conversation. “I doubt that they are all that smart and they are only doing what they know. Like non-sentient animals anywhere.”

Oops. I referred to the boots in the plural. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Glanced up real quick. Didn’t see anyone take note.

I continued at speed but more carefully. “So, anyway, when they returned from their travels on Lotor, the EMBers were data-waved back to this ship, The Second Chance, which then travelled back toward Earth. Which would assume they had a flesh-and-blood data-waver with them at the Lotor end. Not just a virtual I mean. Wonder how that worked?”

“You know a lot, Kosi Lionhair,” Luke said. “For a person who has never been in space; who wasn’t in the world yet when all this happened; and who apparently lived an extremely sheltered life.”

He noticed my gaffe about the boots. How does he know about my sheltered life? I couldn’t tell what Jack was thinking, his expression like a blank screen.

“You might as well tell us what you think happened next,” Luke said, laughing secretly again.

I shrugged. “The rest of the EMBers, with Joddy and Lem, would’ve been data-waved to a silo when it came within reach, and then picked up from the silo by shuttle when the silo got nearer to the Moon. Or the silo itself returned to the elevator.

“Going by the fantasies told in the public domain, there was no separation between bodies and minds. Joddy, Lem and the EMBers were data-waved with their bodies and souls in one unit. While we know that the bodies were those that Lotor made for them. But all of it happened before I was born, as you said.”

Out of the blue, Luke said, “I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being data-waved one by one. A lot of opportunity for back-stabbing and such.”

Mere astonishment didn’t describe the sudden awareness around the circle. Like they all woke finally.

Luke turned to Owen. “Back-stabbing is the right term?”

Jack, bless his Fetcher heart, half-crouched ready to run. Seeing me watch him, he straightened and grinned. He mocked himself. “Nowhere to run, is there?”

It resembled a standoff with Luke and Owen staring at each other. “Depends on what you want it to mean,” Owen said not wanting to commit, it seemed to me.

Luke blinked.

Oh no! Silver eyes. Did I really see that? The dark brown irises slid back into place a micro-second later.

I stared hard at the deck. Did he see me notice?

“There’s an object unknown to mankind in the hold that will allow us to all travel together,” Luke said. “Now is the time to discover it, I think.”

“You eat in your spacecraft’s hold, I think you said?” Pallas said. “Why wouldn’t you already know all about this mysterious object as yet unknown to mankind?”

Yes. Yes. Yes. Pallas is suspicious. And as an EMBer, she would be the one to know about any technology as yet unknown to mankind. A smidgen of hope grew in me.

I glanced sideways at Owen. A slight frown crinkled his eyes at the corners. Maybe he was suspicious too?

“I’ve been asleep,” Luke said. “Massively good researchers might already know all there is to know about the Second Chance.”

“Asleep?” Jack said. “Don’t make me laugh. You would’ve been a husk by now. Sucked dry.”

If only I could be sure that we were all suspicious about the same things. Massively good researchers! Huh.

The way Luke was behaving? Like he was plotting something. Mine was a plan, I hoped. I started thinking it when Pallas finally told us their mission—can we transfer three people from a silo to The Second Chance and return with four people possibly?

The difference between a plan and a plot is the reasons for doing them. A plan usually had good reasons for doing it. A plot usually required a nasty outcome. I couldn’t think of any good reasons for a nasty outcome.

The numbers added up if you discounted Jack and me. Everything that happened so far convinced me that Marti was here as planned. Pallas and Owen and Marti would make up the three. Luke, as the person to be rescued, was the fourth person.

My plan was for Jack to go back to Silo 23 with the others. But I would be staying both in the Second Chance and in space. I almost shuddered thinking it so plainly. So concentrate on the other. With Jack there would be five people to go back?