Untitled space opera novel

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Greenlantern Excelsior
Intelligence - Commodore
Intelligence - Commodore
Posts: 521
Joined: 170814.0903
Duty Post: USS Taylorholic Durant
Ship/Station Posted: USS Taylorholic Durant
Grid: Second Life Grid
Location: Iona, Idaho, USA
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 26 times
Contact:

180729.1050

Chapter 1, Scene 1

The asteroid was a crime scene.

Sol System Police Officer Frank Bacon sat in his patrol craft, checking his scanner again as he had been doing all night. Nothing. Moving the craft to the other side of the asteroid, he scanned in its “shadow.” Still nothing. He returned to his previous location, matching his speed to the orbital speed of the asteroid dump known as the Rock Pile. He was halfway between Orbital Stations Six and Seven, ten thousand miles from either one, in synchronous orbit 22,800 miles above Mother Terra. The Rock Pile was the collection point for material brought in by the Sol System miners. It was source material for the manufacturing process at Station Six (informally known as Marconi Station), where they produced electronics, and Station Seven, called Newton Station, which built heavy equipment. But both stations were in danger of shutting down their processes during the murder investigation. Ore carriers, curious news media, and possibly the perpetrator returning to the scene of the crime were all barred from the area.

Bacon turned his ship’s camera to inspect the asteroid’s surface again. Sol’s illumination was at a slightly different angle from when he had last looked about 15 minutes ago. He could see more clearly the slightly off-color stain on the surface that marked the location where a ship had impacted less than 12 hours ago. That stain, and the organic materials within it stuck to the asteroid’s surface, was all that was left of a living being.

The alarm had come in from the Sol System Jump Point. A ship emerged, and almost immediately accelerated toward Terra. The occupant ignored all attempts at communication. Patrol ships were sent to intercept, but as the computers updated the ship’s projected course, it became apparent that help would not arrive in time. The ship was hurtling faster and faster toward the Rock Pile. As the rescue ship pilots watched in horror, the doomed ship slammed into the Pile and exploded into a cloud of vapor.

Bacon had been one of the first police officers to arrive on the scene. He hadn’t seen any object other than the asteroids that was larger than a child’s fist. Certainly there was no living being waiting to be rescued. His Shift Sergeant had directed him to set up a crime scene and wait for the detectives to arrive. Bacon had set out a crime scene projector, which generated a pulsating yellow force field around the Rock Pile and would notify approaching ships by radio to stay away. And since the crash occurred early on the night shift, he had spent a long and lonely night doing essentially nothing.

The ship’s radio burst into life. “Dispatch to Six Three - status check.”

Bacon activated his microphone. “Six Three to dispatch - Six Three One Three.”

There was a pause as the dispatcher looked up Bacon’s badge number. Had he responded with anything else, “I’m doing fine,” for example, the dispatcher would have known that he was under duress or in some other kind of trouble, and would have initiated an emergency response.

“Copy, Six Three,” said the dispatcher. “Detective should be on the way to your location soon.”

As if on cue, a different voice rumbled forth from the speaker. “David One Five to dispatch, on duty, en route to the Rock Pile.”

“David One Five, received,” said the dispatcher.

Bacon smiled. David One Five was a good guy, Detective James Hayden by name. Hayden had been one of his best instructors at the Academy several years ago. Apparently he had been rotated back to field duty. He sounded happy to be out and about.

In a few minutes, the scanner pinged and an incoming ship appeared on the map screen. The ship’s computer labeled it with a Sol System Police designation. Bacon switched over to the police direct frequency.

“Six Three to David One Five, I have you on approach to the crime scene,” said Bacon.

“David One Five, Roger. I’ll take over from here. You can go get some shuteye, Frank.” Hayden’s ship slowed to a stop near Bacon.

“Thanks, Jim.” responded Bacon. “No one else has been here all night. Have a great day.”

Hayden could retrieve the crime scene beacon after he had retrieved the evidence. But now it was time to head for home. “Computer, set course for Station Six and implement.”

“Acknowledged,” responded the computer. The course was displayed on his screen and the ship’s indicated speed began to increase. Bacon yawned, stretched out in his seat, and closed his eyes. Then he sat back up and returned his attention to the ship’s readouts. Some officers enjoyed catching a nap during a routine flight, but he preferred to keep his attention on the job.

A few minutes into his flight, the radio came to life again. “Dispatch to Six Three. We show another spacecraft here, just appeared out of the Jump Point, like yesterday’s crashed ship. Same course and acceleration. Looks like it’s also headed for the Rock Pile.”

“Copy, Dispatch,” said Bacon, “I am moving to intercept.”

“Understood,” said the dispatcher.

Bacon turned his attention to the screen. The display zoomed out, showing a red dot heading inbound at high speed. It was marked with an “UNIDENTIFIED” symbol by the perimeter scanners.

“Computer, plot intercept course for unidentified spacecraft.” For the however-many thousandth time, he was thankful that he didn’t have to calculate these things with a piece of paper and a slide rule. “Intercept course on screen,” responded the computer instantly.

The course track displayed on the screen showed his ship intercepting the intruder after they had both passed the Rock Pile. Apparently the computer wasn’t programmed to believe that someone would intentionally smash into an asteroid. And it assumed that Bacon wanted to make a standard leisurely intercept to conserve energy. What he needed now was to throw away some of his safety margin.

“Computer, plot intercept course using emergency acceleration and implement,” said Bacon.

“Implementing,” responded the computer. The ship seemed to vibrate slightly as the computer balanced the artificial gravity with the tremendous acceleration. The display now showed that the intercept would occur before the unknown ship reached the Rock Pile, but the timing would be very close. Bacon had an idea or two about how to get there quicker. The first idea involved the fact that the ship could accelerate beyond the capability of its artificial gravity.

“Computer, increase acceleration to an indicated two gravities on the pilot,” he said grimly.

“Implementing,” responded the computer, and Bacon instantly felt twice as heavy as before. He could withstand a higher G load, but he needed to be awake and alert on arrival. The displayed intercept course now showed an earlier interception, which meant a more acceptable safety margin, and the vibration had increased. There was one more item to take care of before the intercept.

“Six Three to Dispatch,” he gasped. “Inform David One Five to evacuate the area. I won’t be able to stop this guy.”

Hayden responded before the dispatcher could speak. “David One Five, acknowledged. I copied the traffic, and I will be done here in sixty seconds. Take Care, Six Three.”

“Roger that,” Bacon said through gritted teeth.

The display screen changed, showing that Bacon’s radar rather than the distant scanner was now tracking the unidentified ship. The distance numbers, to the target ship and to the Rock Pile, were dropping at an alarming rate. It was time to put his second idea into the mix. At the beginning of the flight he had checked to ensure that his Control Glove was connected to the ship’s force field generator. Now he began to make reaching motions with his gloved hand. Again and again he reached forward, made a grasping motion, and then pulled his hand back toward him. At last, his ship’s generated force field caught the other ship and pulled them both together.

Just a few seconds left now. Enough time for a rescue, but not enough time to make a mistake. His training took over (thank you, Senior Instructor Hayden!) and he executed a rapid sequence of moves.

He extended his ship’s force field to surround the other ship.

He opened the outer door of his ship. His ears popped as his ship’s atmosphere expanded into the force field.

He reached out with his control glove, and his force field tore the access hatch away from the other ship.

He reached out again (gently, gently), and pulled the lone occupant through the door into his ship.

He closed his ship’s outer door, went into a violent turn, and used the force field to push away hard from the unidentified ship.

The grouped asteroids of the Rock Pile flashed past as the unidentified ship hit them and splashed into fragments.

He cut his acceleration back to one gravity, hoping that his voice sounded calm as he spoke into the radio. “Dispatch, Six Three. Spacecraft occupant retrieved, en route to Station Five.”

When the dispatcher responded, he could hear excited cheering in the background. “Copy that, Six Three! Good job!”

“Computer, set course for Station Five at normal cruising speed,” said Bacon, turning to his new passenger.

The man was breathing heavily, his eyes wide, but he did not appear to pose a threat, so Bacon released him from the force field. He did not recognize the man’s species, but quite obviously he was not human. Tall but well-proportioned, the man had absolutely no color in his skin. The exception was the area around his eyes, which were shaded a light blue. His neck was somewhat longer than a human’s, and a dark, gently writhing tentacle sprouted from each side of his waist. He wore short pants, a simple pair of work shoes, and a sleeveless blue shirt. The most striking feature was the shape of his skull. Completely hairless, it extended in a smooth curve to a blunt end at least a foot behind his face. I wonder if that skull is full of brains, thought Bacon.

“Are you injured?” he asked, speaking in Galacta. “I am Frank Bacon. What is your name?”

Confused, the man looked around the cabin, felt of his arms and legs, then looked up at Bacon.

“Brave Master, you have saved this unworthy one from certain death.” he said, in slightly accented Galacta. “If it pleases Master, this one’s name is Tolovar, of planet Lathia. If not, Master may wish to select a different name. Thank you a million times over for this one’s life, which is now dedicated to you.” Tolovar knelt before Bacon and bowed low, his forehead touching the floor.

Bacon was both startled and appalled. Startled, because slavery was prohibited throughout the civilized galaxy. Appalled, because Tolovar’s speech pattern demonstrated that he was long accustomed to living as a slave. This needs to stop, right now.

Bacon stepped forward, extending a hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Tolovar. Please stand up.”

Tolovar sat up, his expression wary. He reached up to take Bacon’s hand, but then jerked his arm back as though the hand had turned into a poisonous snake. After what looked like a short internal debate, he took the offered hand and allowed Bacon to help him stand.

While grasping Tolovar’s hand, Bacon had a brief impression of great strength, carefully controlled. “Please sit down,” he said, indicating the copilot’s seat.

“Yes, Master,” replied Tolovar, hurrying to obey.

Bacon sat down in the pilot’s seat. “I gather that you were a slave on Lathia. Is that correct?”

“Yes, Master,” said Tolovar.

“Then I have good news for you,” smiled Bacon. “Slavery is illegal throughout the Federation of Aligned Worlds, including Lathia. Your days as a slave are over. From this moment on, you are a free man.”

Tolovar relaxed back into his chair, closing his eyes and making a curious, ritualistic hand gesture. After a few moments, he opened his eyes and smiled happily. “Thank you…Frank Bacon. This is exactly the result we had hoped for.”

“We?” asked Bacon.

“Yes, a small group of slaves has been working to steal a spacecraft from the Masters and try to find freedom. The first attempt was yesterday. Since the opportunity presented itself suddenly, I made the second attempt today.”

“I see,” said Bacon. “If my information is correct, your group’s first attempt ended with a crashed spaceship and a dead pilot. Are they planning any further attempts?”

“Just one more,” replied Tolovar. “My brother made the first attempt. My daughter will be next, and then it will be some time before more of my people can be prepared and trained to fly. After my ship emerged from the Jump Point, the computer demanded a password. When I was unable to supply it, the ship turned and accelerated toward that group of asteroids. From that point on, I had no control.”

“Excuse me,” said Bacon, turning to the control panel. “Six Three to Dispatch. Expect at least one more ship to come out of the Jump Point in the near future, same trajectory, same destination. The pilot will need to be rescued. Maybe a tug can capture the ship for further study.”

“Dispatch to Six Three, copy that.”

“Ship arrival, Station Five,” said the computer.

“Six Three to Dispatch, I’ll be arriving at Station 5, starting a one week quarantine with my passenger.”

“Copy, Six Three. Have a nice vacation.”

Tolovar’s eyes widened as the massive station swelled in the viewport. “Welcome to Ellis Station,” smiled Bacon.
Last edited by Greenlantern Excelsior on 180729.1058, edited 1 time in total.
Commodore Hal Jordan (GreenLantern Excelsior)

Service Jacket

Second Officer, USS Taylorholic Durant
Chief of Communications
Academy Director of Curriculum Development
Chief Archivist
User avatar
Greenlantern Excelsior
Intelligence - Commodore
Intelligence - Commodore
Posts: 521
Joined: 170814.0903
Duty Post: USS Taylorholic Durant
Ship/Station Posted: USS Taylorholic Durant
Grid: Second Life Grid
Location: Iona, Idaho, USA
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 26 times
Contact:

180729.1051

Chapter 1, Scene 2

Bacon switched over to the Station Approach Control channel. “This is Sol System Police Officer Frank Bacon, requesting docking and access to quarantine quarters. I have with me one extraterrestrial from a previously unknown species, and will require an extended quarantine stay.”

“Officer Bacon and passenger, welcome to Station Five,” came the response in Galacta. “Please switch to automatic control, and we will guide you to your destination. Enjoy your stay with us.”

Bacon switched the ship’s control to EXTERNAL and noted the slight course change as the station’s computer moved the ship toward an access port. He turned to Tolovar, who was staring at the scene outside the viewport. Bacon explained what they were seeing.

“This is Station Five, also known as Ellis Station. It is one of several colonies orbiting our planet, Terra, at synchronous distance. It is connected to the orbital ring that circles the planet at its equator. You can see numerous spacecraft moving cargo and people up to the station and down to the planet. The ring itself has a rapid transport system that allows travel to any of the stations and all points in between. Station Five is what we call the Port of Entry for offworld spacecraft. Any nonhumans wishing to visit Terra must first go through quarantine to ensure that they do not bring in any dangerous diseases. Any nonhumans who are unknown to us must go through an additional quarantine period, because they require more thorough medical scans. You will be required to be inoculated against a wide range of human diseases, not because you could become ill yourself, but because you may become a carrier and infect other humans. Since I have been in contact with you, I also must go through the extended quarantine. Once the quarantine period has been completed, you are free to go anywhere you wish, including any of the colonies or even down to Terra itself. You may live with us or travel to any part of the galaxy. The only restriction is that you will need to find a job, so you can earn money to pay for everything.”

“I think I have an idea about employment,” smiled Tolovar. “And it appears that we have arrived.”

The ship glided to a stop and docked at the station’s outer door. The ship and station doors opened, and Bacon led off down a short hallway, stopping at a door marked with a flashing light. He pressed the access button and the door slid open to reveal a small, clean room containing several chairs, a medical scanner, and a viewscreen. Tolovar sat in the chair that faced the viewscreen. The door closed, the viewscreen lit up, and the computer began asking questions.

Q: Please state your name.
A: Tolovar.

Q: Please state your occupation.
A: Slave.

Q: Please state your planet of origin.
A: Lathia.

Q: Please state the name of your race.
A: Lathian.

“Error,” said the computer. “Lathian race currently exists, and you do not match the physical characteristics of a Lathian.” The viewscreen displayed a photo of a generic Lathian, a tall purple being with blotchy yellow markings, shaped something like an inverted light bulb, wearing a combat harness and several weapons.

“I do not know the name of this race,” responded Tolovar. “They came to my planet three hundred years ago and conquered and enslaved my people. We simply call them The Masters. Our planet is Lathia. We are the Lathians.”

“Computer,” interrupted Bacon, “Hold processing. Mark the entire Tolovar interview as confidential pending review from the Security Council of the Federation of Aligned Worlds. Do not release any information obtained in this interview without Security Council approval.”

“Understood,” said the computer.

“Continue processing,” said Bacon.

The computer directed Tolovar to step into the medical scanner, and continued the questioning after completing the scan. There were just a few questions left, and Bacon was intrigued by Tolovar’s answer to the last one.

Q: Do you have any special talents or abilities that you wish to declare?
A: I am an electronic and mechanical engineer and inventor, and a telepath.

“Thank you for your cooperation,” said the computer. “Please wait while we analyze the results of your medical scan.”

Tolovar turned to Bacon. “Is your race telepathic?”

“No human in recorded history has ever been proven to be telepathic. We do know of a few races who are, but we are not.”

“All members of my race are telepathic,” said Tolovar. “You saved my life, and you treated me as an equal for the first time in my existence. I owe you a debt of gratitude. I would like to open my mind to you, so that you may see what kind of being I am. Do you accept?”

Bacon’s two previous experiences with telepaths had been somewhat unpleasant, but this offer seemed harmless. Besides, the man had asked permission first. “Okay, go ahead.”

Tolovar relaxed and slowly closed his eyes. Bacon’s mind was flooded with confusing images for a few seconds, and then everything snapped into crystal clarity. Tolovar’s mind was built on almost a childlike innocence. Tolovar’s race had been mistreated by The Masters for hundreds of years. They labored in the mines, built virtually everything The Masters owned, and were even taken on journeys through space, where they were used as servants. And yet they had no concept of fighting back or doing harm to their brutal masters. The only thing they could think of was escape, to get away from the bad people so they could be happy, as they had been so very long ago. He saw goodness, and kindness, and a race that did not possess the concept of hatred, even after all the mistreatment that they had suffered. He had been determined to help free them from slavery before, but now he wanted to dedicate his life to that purpose.

“Thank you, Tolovar,” said Bacon. “That was a beautiful experience, and you are a wonderful person.”

“Frank, it was my pleasure to be open with you. My people are open with each other in this way at all times. Now I would ask a favor from you. May I look into your mind as well? I am interested only in seeing whether you can communicate mentally with members of my race, and to get a general impression of your surface thoughts.”

“It would be an honor to have you look through my brain,” said Bacon. “I just hope you don’t find things to be too messy in there.” He closed his eyes and waited for the unpleasantness to start. Previous contact with telepaths had left him with a slimy, unclean feeling.

After a few seconds, Tolovar said “Thank you. It is as I expected. You could well be a member of my race. Your mind is almost entirely free of hatred and fear, and with a short period of training, you can easily initiate mental contact with any one of us.”

“Why did you need to know that?” asked Bacon.

“Because, with your help,” replied Tolovar, “I am planning a jailbreak.”
Commodore Hal Jordan (GreenLantern Excelsior)

Service Jacket

Second Officer, USS Taylorholic Durant
Chief of Communications
Academy Director of Curriculum Development
Chief Archivist
User avatar
Greenlantern Excelsior
Intelligence - Commodore
Intelligence - Commodore
Posts: 521
Joined: 170814.0903
Duty Post: USS Taylorholic Durant
Ship/Station Posted: USS Taylorholic Durant
Grid: Second Life Grid
Location: Iona, Idaho, USA
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 26 times
Contact:

180729.1101

Couple of visual ideas

Image
Lathian lady

Image
Orbital ring
Commodore Hal Jordan (GreenLantern Excelsior)

Service Jacket

Second Officer, USS Taylorholic Durant
Chief of Communications
Academy Director of Curriculum Development
Chief Archivist
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