Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday Fiction for January 30, 2009

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Dorinda on her Treasures in Jars of Clay blog. Be sure to check in there for more great fiction, and also be sure to check out LauraLee’s interview as the Featured Author on Faithreaders. It’s a terrific interview, and one you shouldn’t miss.

This week’s fiction is another original, written for Friday Fiction. I’ve been considering a story, or series of stories, about a rover character. I’ve done a few short sketches of him in various situations, but wanted a short sketch that introduced both him and the ship. The actual story, when I finally get around to writing it, will be set in the Terran Archipelago of my Eridani stories, and I already have a pretty good idea of what I want to happen in that first story, well after this first introduction.

I hope you enjoy…

By Rick Higginson

He entered the tiny cockpit and felt his heart beating faster. He’d never expected to be there so soon, and the thought of his father once resting in the solitary seat brought a tear to his eye. “May the final dream be one of love and joy,” he sang the traditional blessing for a deceased relative. “May my father be welcomed to the arms of our mothers, and share in the peace of our God.” Though it seemed odd to do so for a man that had been in space for most of his life, he lowered his eyes in respect for the appropriate duration.

With nervous anticipation, he settled into the seat and reclined back. The ship’s computer sensed the pressure of his body, and molded the cushion to fit him until it seemed he rested on nothing. He settled his left arm into a recess provided for it, and nearly jumped out of the seat.

Knowing ahead of time that the cybernetic implant in his arm would make him one with the ship was one thing; experiencing it for the first time was another. He closed his eyes, and felt the warm tarmac beneath the landing struts. He could see the terminal buildings in the distance through the optical sensors, and with barely a thought, magnify them until he focused on tiny details in the wall. The cargo rested in the hold, and the mechanical retainers that held it securely in place were as his fingers. Relaxing his grip, he shifted one of the containers a short distance, and sensed the change in the balance of the load.

You are the offspring of my previous symbiote,” the ship said to him through the interface. There was no sound; the sensation was like the others induced into him. “Do you wish to access the memories he entrusted to my storage?”

“Do I need them to safely pilot you?”

“No. All that you will need, you will have once the protocols have synchronized. By Archipelago law, you must grant specific permission before I can initiate the synchronization sequence. Once the protocols are synchronized, then any time you are in that seat, we will be a single operating system. Do you understand this?”

“I understand. I do not wish to access the memories at this time.”

“Do you grant permission for synchronization?”

“Permission is granted.”

A moment of disorientation swept over him, followed by the strangest sensation of no longer being in his body, but rather of holding it in a gentle embrace. Before, he had needed to think about what part of the ship he wanted to sense; now, it was if the ship was his body, and he processed all the sensations with natural awareness. If a system malfunctioned, there would be pain; since everything felt right, he was ready for flight.

All the hatches closed and sealed, their integrity verified with no more effort than holding his breath would have taken. He looked upward, scanning and plotting his path safely beyond the orbit of the moons, and then transmitted the plan to orbital control.

“Temple City Control, this is Stardreamer requesting approval and clearance for filed departure vector,” he said directly through the transmitter.

Stardreamer, you have approval and clearance for departure. Please observe noise abatement measures until achieving ten kilometers of altitude.”

“Affirmative, control.” He lifted from the ground and made a gentle turn to follow his vector. He retracted the landing struts as he gradually accelerated to altitude, and delighted in the feel of the air’s movement and temperature against him. When the surface was over ten thousand meters below him, he leapt for orbit with a delightful rush of power. His skin grew cold, but it didn’t hurt. The air became thinner until it was non-existent, and he didn’t care. There was tightness in his throat, but not from suffocation. Instead, there was the sense of fulfillment of his fondest dreams.

He could leave a world behind and cross the void as easily as he’d once crossed the village of T’Cha. He didn’t just have his own ship; he was the ship, and as the larger of the two moons appeared ahead in his increasing orbit, he felt like God was laughing with him, dancing through the empty space like he’d once danced with his mother down the road.

Looking northward towards the faint yellow star, he increased the magnification sufficiently to plot his course. “Puerta del Cielo Control, I am Stardreamer, and I request clearance for Earthrise.”

1 comment:

Joanne Sher said...

Oh wow - what a concept! Wonderfully developed characters, as usual, and, as usual, I was completely engaged.