Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Fiction for October 22, 2010

Karlene is hosting Friday Fiction this week on her blog, Homespun Expressions. Be sure you pop over there, and let her know how much you appreciate all the work she does for this (and for her writing).

The Faithwriters Weekly Challenge Topic for June 4, 2009 was “Empty and Full.” I submitted a short story titled, “Exiled With a Fool,” which dealt with the idea of lab-grown humans, programmed to the buyer’s request. I followed shortly thereafter with a Friday Fiction piece titled, “The Requisition,” and the idea for my NaNoWriMo 2009 novel, “Empty Threats,” was born. This was my tenth completed novel, and the fourth story in the Eridanus/Archipelago series.



The remotes loaded the last of the containers into the cargo hold, moving out of the way before the vessel secured each in the proper location for optimal balance. From his position in the pilot’s seat, Peri felt each action through the cybernetic interface with Stardreamer. The manifest of ferl fruit and medicinal salve bound for Alsafi would be preserved by a modified SusAn field, and despite the time it would take to traverse over twenty-four light years of space, the produce would arrive as though it had just been harvested.

Com-link instructions to other vessels, both orbital and planetary, entered his hearing through the same sensory link. The communications were exclusively in English, which still seemed odd to him considering the official language of the planet was Qi’le. Even after all the years that the Terran Archipelago had been carrying on business on the world, they still refused to call it by anything but Epsilon Eridanus.

When the load was fully secured, and the total mass calculated into the flight profile, Peri closed the loading hatch and initiated seal integrity checks. Next came the final self-tests on the orbital drive and the preliminary checks on the plateau drive, though most of the ship verification was transmitted as sensation into his body. If something was wrong, he would feel pain or discomfort.

It was well into afternoon when he was finally ready for departure. “Temple City Control, this is Stardreamer requesting departure clearance for Eridani orbit,” he said through the com-link.

Stardreamer, you have departure clearance on vector two-seventy point five. Current conditions mandate noise abatement measures until fifteen kilometers AGL.”

“Affirmative.” Stardreamer lifted from the tarmac and pivoted towards the instructed vector. The orbital drive pulsed up, propelling her both forward and upward, using less than thirty percent of the potential thrust of the drive, in keeping with the noise abatement requirements. The heavily forested highlands favored by the local population soon gave way to coastal desert, and then ocean as he climbed through eight kilometers of altitude.

The mainland, with the cities and villages concerned with noise, were far behind him as he crossed the fifteen kilometer threshold. He increased the thrust to sixty percent and pulled into a steeper climb, easily maintaining escape velocity through the thinning atmosphere.

The sky around him turned to black at the edge of space, and he continued to climb until he reached the nominal orbital altitude for trans-stellar departure. He leveled off, and brought the orbital drive down to idle.

With the void insulating the world beneath from the possible effects, he performed the final checks on the plateau drive, and finished the calculations for the journey to Alsafi. “Puerta del Cielo control, this is Stardreamer, requesting clearance on filed plan for Sigma Draconis.”

Stardreamer, you have clearance for departure in three orbits.”

“Affirmative,” he replied. He prepared a final message for transmission back to the Temple City, which would be relayed to the village of T’Cha where his family still lived. His regrets for not visiting while on planetfall were spoken in Qi’le, and would elicit some grumbling from the Terran workers in the com-link system, but probably not as much as they would receive from his grandmother.

He wished he could tell her the truth – that it was just too much for him to see how much older she had become each time he returned from a manifest. Even at the speeds the plateau drive could take him, he would spend years crossing the void, preserved by the SusAn field. Life continued in T’Cha, while he remained nearly frozen in time.

As the plateau drive started his acceleration away from the world of his birth, he weighed the sensations of being one with Stardreamer against the costs of being a rover, and once again decided he wouldn’t trade his life for the world.

Any world.


Debra Gray-Elliott said...

Excellent writing!

Catrina Bradley said...

It's like Tom Clancy in outer space! And now I'm trying to imagine what it would be like if my family aged around me while I stayed the same. Deep thoughts.