Thursday, August 18, 2011

Starlight, Chapter Nine

By J.D. FarnWorth

  (081911) All rights belong to that of Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else would lay claim to the Firefly and Serenity Verse. Don't copy or use this material without the permission of myself AND someone holding the Gorram copyright. It is for entertainment use only.

Note: I have started adding translations at the end of every chapter. If anyone would like a translation of a line in Chapters 1 and 3, just send a note.

In transit; Red Sun System, July 13th, 2504, 05:41 ETWT

The Captain’s Launch was quiet; it had been a long day. Sixteen hours ago life had been somewhat normal. The cabin lights had been turned down to help calm its passengers. The launch was comfortable for up to eight souls and two pilots with little room for cargo. It was built for speed, which with the extra mass; it wasn’t going its top speed.  
Adam stirred and looked up at the woman and 6 men. Each remained awake and each was fighting their own battle to stay awake. Their heads bobbled, one by one, but lifted just at the edge of sleep. They had gone through hell and had come out as survivors. If I could call them that, he thought. Adam repositioned himself on the floor next to Jenny. She had been hurt badly by their new friends. He knew that it hadn’t been their fault. He also knew who’s fault is was.
The Alliance strived to bring the unruly people of the verse under their control. Slavery was know throughout the Galaxy, and was nothing new. A man could find himself on a slaver ship for a number of reasons; some were very much justified in the eyes of the federals. However, what the Alliance scientist did to those men and women was nothing of the sort. They abducted them off their ship and brought them to the Starlight to perform test. They wanted to control their every movement; they wanted slaves to do the Alliance’s bidding.
He touched Jenny’s forehead. He quickly pulled his hand away and touched Judy’s forehead and then back to Jenny’s. “She has a fever.”
“I know,” whispered Judy. Moving a little closer and letting Gabe fall to the floor with a thump.
“What can be done?” asked Adam.
“At the moment, Shénme.”
Adam nodded in understanding and slowly stood. His bones cracked and he stretched to loosen his frame. He quietly stepped over the unconscious crewmate and nodded to Zack who had remained awake to watch over his broken brother.
Marty had been beaten within an inch of his little life, by the same seven that sat across the cabin from the Starlight’s crew.
“How is he?” whispered Adam looking at Zack.
“Adam, he hasn’t moved for three hours. But he is still alive.”
Adam nodding and glanced up to their new friends, catching the glances from each of them, they felt bad for what had happened but there was anger staring back at him. He turned, telling himself, this wasn’t their fault. This hadn’t been anyone’s fault, other than the man in black, Doctor Ryan, and Gorram Alliances willingness to let this happen. They were pushing out further and further, to bring civilization to the border planets. When the planets that had survived without them for almost 50 years pushed back, they would send men like Mr. Black to enforce the Alliance’s will. 
He could site different times in history, when men stood up for what was right, when their freedom was threatened. That, after all, was why he found himself in the company he kept these days. When the Americas were founded, they had to fight for their right to life and liberty, but now things were different. More like America’s first Civil War. He said a quick prayer that the good people would not fight again. Everyone had learned about the second civil war from their parents, who had learned about it from their parents.
Shortly before human’s left, “Earth that was”. There were three wars that left the world broken. Half the population was dead or dying when the first ships left orbit. There are still some that believe that a great deal of people still remained back there. One day, he hoped he would know for sure.
Adam moved past everyone and into the cockpit, sitting next to the captain. The man had come a long way in just a day’s time, from a half crazed spacer, who just wanted to have a little fun to the serious captain, piloting them to safety, all on the pull of a straw.
“How is it coming?” whispered Adam, looking out at the Red ball. He wondered if he would lose his eye sight if he continued to look, but figured the front ports were protected from the solar rays.
“Hmm. Well, it’s coming. Do you see that little dot off to the left? That is Greenleaf.”
Adam looked out the blue planet and slowly turned around to confront the captain at the minor revelation stirring in his head. “Why is it off to the left and not the dead ahead of us?” He turned to point out the front port and then looked back into the cabin as if he alone shouldered this new secret.
“I have been doing some calculations, we are too heavy.”
“Too heavy,” repeated Adam, looking back to Gabe’s 400 plus pounds and leaning closer to the captain. “What are you getting at Rod?”
“I was thinking on burning up a little fuel, but it hasn’t had much effect on our weight. We will still be far too heavy. We are okay, floating about space where we just burn more fuel to get ourselves moving, but once we hit the Atmo, we will fall like a rock.”
“Can you land her?” Adam asked, with a watchful eye back into the cabin.
“I don’t know,” answered the captain, with the confidence of a mole worm.
“You are a pilot?”
“No, I am an engineer and a good one at that. I know how to pilot a spacecraft, I know how to dock a spacecraft, I even know how to fixer if her breaks, but…”
“You don’t know how to fly a craft in inside the atmosphere of a planet?”
“Heck, I haven’t been planet side in three decades.”
He returned to his work and Adam sat back and wondered what would happen to Jenny, if they waited to get to a station which could be days. “No, captain, we need to tell the crew.” He stood and moved back into the cabin without stopping to discuss it any further. He could feel the captain pulling at his uniform as he did so, but in the end he let him go.
“May I have your attention,” announced Adam.
“Yes, I would like your best ale and a Yú tǎ kē,” asked Gabe.
Adam shook his head. “Not now Gabe, I have something to tell everyone, so wake up.” He watched his crew stir from their slumber and couldn’t bring himself to look over to the other half of the group.
“Does it have something to do with the fact that the captain has no intention on going to Greenleaf?” asked Vin flatly, pointing out the port side.
Adam turned and looked at the shiny blue planet. They had been looking out the view ports all along, not just staring at him and his crew for the last few hours. “Oh, well, I see you are more informed than the rest of us.”
“What are you saying?” asked Judy, turning to see her home planet for herself.
“We have a problem,” answered Adam, “as everyone can see we are not, on a course for Greenleaf.”
“Adam, Marty can’t wait, he needs to go to a hospital or a horse doctor, and I don’t care, as long as he is seen by someone.”
“Nero, can fly,” said the woman.
Adam noticed the others looking sternly in her direction.
“Explain?” asked Adam.
“I thought he was your navigator?” asked Gabe.
“He is both,” answered Vin, looking around at the others before continuing. “He asked us not to tell anyone that he was the pilot. Mary shouldn’t have told you…”
“Why,” said Adam.
“…because, up until a day ago, we were on our way to a new life on Miranda. That is until; we experienced a malfunction with our ship’s environmental system. The Speedwell sprung a leak and we needed to put in somewhere for repairs. The Cortex stated that Raven’s Station had great service at going rates. But when we got there, there was no one around. The whole place looked like a grave yard for ships.”
“I came about, and felt the first harpoon take hold, then the second. It made it impossible to escape,” said Nero. He lowered his head and went back to shouldering the blame.
“Turns out, the place was a trap, they reeled us in,” continued Vin.
“But, why we’re not the Alliance,” said Judy, injecting.
“Mister, you are wearing an Alliance uniform, just like the ones the pirates wore.”
Judy laughed. “I ain’t no Alliance anything and I sure the heck, aren’t a man. Wǒ de rǔfáng bǐ nǐ dà!” She started pulling her uniform from her shoulders when Adam stopped her.

“Judy, you’re not helping, no one wants to see them. I mean to say we are not the Alliance that everyone knows and fears. We are a different kind,” Adam fumbled over his words.
“What he means is that most of us were raised on the one of the border planets and have never seen the Core. We took jobs in space and ended up on that giant fèn, we called the Starlight,” stated Judy, nodding to Adam to go on.
“Us that moved out here from the core, are running away from something or to something,” answered Adam, looking back at Jenny.
“We need to get back to our ship,” asked Mary, the only woman of the group.
“I know and we need to get our friends to Greenleaf for Medical treatment,” answered Adam, regaining his composer.
“We have children,” said Mary, blurting out some untold secret and slapping her hand to her mouth.
“Shut up!” exclaimed one of the other men.
“No, let her talk,” said Judy, standing to her full height, which would have looked far more impressive in a taller cabin.
“I would listen to her,” stated Gabe.
“Captain, maybe you should come back here,” asked Adam, looking away from the settlers for the first time since the conversation had started.
The captain stepped into the cabin and turned to Judy’s point of interest. “What has happened?”
“She was saying something about children and that other one mouthed off. Now, she all closed up about it,” answered Judy, moving closer to the man on the end with the mouth.
Adam moved to intercept her, he was half her size and it made no difference. Other than the fact he felt her ease up when he got in between.  
“Can someone start talking? Before Judy starts working this guy over,” asked the captain, who found himself caught up between Adam and Judy. 
“We have children on the Speedwell,” said Mary, “We hid them from the pirates. They are tucked away in the forward cargo hold.”
“But, you said, there was a leak.” Judy pulled away from Adam and moved back to her place next to Gabe. “We need to save them kids Cap’n.”
“Yeah, but first things, first…” he answered, pointing to the direction of Jenny and Marty.
“If I get you to your doctor, will you help us rescue their kids?” asked Nero, leaning back in the seat for the first time since the trip had begun.
The captain looked to Adam and then to each of the others before answering. “Yeah, I think we can come to an understanding.”
“It isn’t that you didn’t want us to know you were a pilot, is it that you know the codes to activate your ship,” stated Adam.
Nero nodded, “So, it remains right where it started.”
“Unless, someone tows her out of there,” stated Zack, before he thought to check his wording.
“We hadn’t thought about that,” said Mary, shooting daggers at him with her glare.
“Okay, Okay, but what about the atmosphere,” asked Judy, wrapping her arms about Gabe’s shoulders.
“The leak is in the main cargo section, crew and dinning area,” answered Nero, as he stood, everyone noticed his elf like features for the first time. He was thin as a rail, white as a sheet, with pointy little ears.
“What’s with the ears? You some sort of alien,” said Gabe, without thinking.
“No, I was just born with pointy ears. Does anyone know where on Greenleaf we’re heading?” He walked passed the captain and moved into the pilot’s seat.
“The coordinate are set in the Nav-con,” answered the captain. He watched him disappear into the cockpit and turned to Adam. “I better give him a hand, it won’t be long now,” said the captain, slipping into the cockpit.
“Everyone, you best get yourselves seated,” said Judy.
The stars out the view ports changed as the Captain’s Launch turned towards the planet of Greenleaf. Out the front, view port the little planet, grew in their field of vision. Nero’s hands flew over the controls as the craft hit the atmosphere and they leveled off for flight.
“We’re okay, just a little heavy!” yelled Nero over the growing noise.
“I was thinking that we were heavy, with the extra passengers and all!” yelled the captain.  
“No, it’s more than that, there must be something else,” answered Nero, struggled with the yoke as the launch began to shutter violently.
“Are we going to crash?” asked the captain.
“Did someone say we’re going to crash?!” yelled Adam.
“I’ll take that beer and fish taco, now,” Gabe said, as he was slapped in back of the head by his new girlfriend.
“I don’t want to die!” yelled one of the Speedwell’s crew.
Nero lowered the nose and dropped the altitude of the launch to gain control of the ship. The sound of the wind ripped through the outer frame of the launch, unnerving its occupants.  
Wǒ de rǔfáng bǐ nǐ dà, My tits are bigger than yours.
Shénme, nothing.
Yú tǎ kē, fish taco.
Fèn, Turd.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Starlight Chapter Eight

By J.D. FarnWorth

(081211) All rights belong to that of Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else would lay claim to the Firefly and Serenity Verse. Don't copy or use this material without the permission of myself AND someone holding the Gorram copyright. It is for entertainment use only.


Starlight station, Module Two, Deck 9, July 12th, 2504, 21:41

Adam, Jenny and the captain stood in silence listening to the feedback from the ship’s intercom. The engineering room seemed to grow in size as the three lost all confidence.
A lump formed in Jenny’s throat at the thought of Gabe and Judy, dying at the hands of the horde of zombies. Jenny climbed the shelf and pulled her duffle from its hiding place. This was New Years all over again. She was determined to find a way off the station and find a new place in the black, zombie horde or not.
Adam had given up on calling the zombies anything other than what they were, controlled by the Starlight’s computer, they were the enemy now. Killing Judy and Gabe was the last straw.
The captain dropped to the decking and looked up at the camera hoping to hear from his crew. His crew, his plan and his responsibility; his fists tightened as the new plan formed. “Adam, you go see what the hell happened, Jenny, you stay here and block the hatch. I am going to head to the Grav-Room and take out the station’s gravity system. Let’s see how the horde can get around in weightlessness. Dohn mah?” He jumped up and headed out the hatch to the Grav-room.
Adam grabbed a large spanner and launched himself into the crawl space. He was determined that he would kill anyone in the Caf-Deck that hurt his friends.
Jenny threw her duffle on her back and tightened the strap. Reaching the hatch in three paces, she pulled it closed and tried the lock. It was broken, like most things on this derelict. She exploded, screaming, “Feh feh pi Gob,” then giggled at the thought of her mother hearing her little princess speak such vulgar language. “Yes, mother,” she yelled, looking into the over head lights, struggling with the first crate and then the second, dropping each at the foot of the hatch. “No! Mother. I do want to go to the training house.” It was then she realized that it was their dream, their wish, not hers. The last 6 months on this station had been the happiest of her life. “Ku,” She whispered as she heard the rapid foot falls, coming from the corridor.
 Jenny smiled, deciding that she would have her new life. She would not end here after all that she had gone through.
A group of Walkers, now numbering five, had split off from the attack on the Caf-deck and headed down into the casino. The gaming computer chose which direction would have the best chance of another win for the casino.
“I always like the name, Virginia, a new Id tag and maybe I’ll head out further on the rim.”
The monitors in the control room, no longer manned, flashed different points of view from across the station.
“Docking release manually activated,” said the Starlight’s system, and then repeated it in Chinese. On the monitor the Alliance Patrol Boat the Falcon eased away from the Starlight’s upper section.
* * *
The captain slipped into the Grav-room falling to the deck. He rolled onto his feet and tapped the intercom. “I am ready.”
“Just do it!” exclaimed Jenny as the first of the zombies hit the hatch pushing the pile of debris a full three inches.
As the captain was about to key in the right combination into the gravity console, Jenny’s screams came from the intercom. “They’re here!”
 * * *
The hatch opened fully, she turned to run, but it was too late. She turned and hit the first zombie, knocking him to the ground. The second and third grabbed at her just as the captain made good on his promises to shut the gravity down. The deck plating clicked and the sound of metal on metal could be heard from all around.
The two zombies clung helplessly to Jenny as she pushed off the deck.  
 * * *
“Docking release manually activated,” said the Starlight’s systems computer, and then repeating it in Chinese. On the monitor the Firefly called Betty eased away from the Starlight’s lower docking ring.
Adam, crawled hand over hand through the belly of the Starlight’s guts, he emerged as the station lost gravity. The Caf-Deck was silent and dark, but no horde lay waiting on his side of the counter. Easing as if in slow motion he peaked over the counter to what lay on the other side.
Judy stood with Gabe and two settlers. In the hands of the settlers were cookies and tea. The fluid floated out of the cups as they jumped in surprise in seeing him.
“What the hell! We thought you were dead!” he exclaimed in his excitement he let the spanner go, which floated away.
“Gabe is my hero. He took out the camera in the Caf-Deck and the computer was blinded. These two were in here when it happened. When the camera went down it shorted out the power,” she answered pointing over to the camera and the busted EC unit.
“Let me guess you throw the evidence at the camera.”
“Well, what good was the evidence if we were dead,” answered Gabe.
“Well, I guess I can’t argue, we need to be getting out of here.” Adam turned to leave but was stopped by one of the settlers.
“We can’t go that way. My wife stepped out of the hatch, and the computer took her over once again.” He looked both sad and terrified at the thought of once again going in to slavery. “I am Tyranny, and this is Nero.”
“It is nice to meet you,” said Judy, smiling widely at the man and his friend.
“We don’t have much time. We need to get the docking ring. The captain is going to…” Adam was interrupted as the alarm signaled, and the decks flashed red with a strobe light from the warning system.
“May I have your attention? An evacuation order has been requested. All guest and crew will report to the lifeboat stations. We at the Lexus Corporation would like to thank you for your assistance,” said the computer the message repeated in Chinese.
“Okay, you two head into the crawl space.” Adam pointed at Nero and Tyranny. “There are no cameras, so you should be okay. We are going to head down the corridor and through the casino. It is the only way, Judy and Gabe will get off this station.”
30 seconds earlier.
The captain struggled with two of the zombies as he reached an alarm panel, hitting the woman with his left arm to free his right, he pulled open the panel. The zombies seemed to have no trouble fighting in zero gravity. He pulled the handle down to the bottom, triggering the evacuation alarm.
As he raised back and was about to kill the man that had been crawling up his leg he realized the man showed emotion in his face. Something the zombie’s lacked before.
“You all there?” he asked the man.
“Yeah, I think so.” The man grunted.
“You mind letting go.”
“Sorry,” said the man.
The captain turned to the bulkhead and pulled himself over to the intercom and triggered the com, station wide. “Adam, the computer has released control of the zombies.” He looked over and apologized with his eyes for calling them zombies.
The man that had been crawling up his leg, nodded in understanding.
“Let’s get out of here,” he said it into the intercom but really meant it for the confused man and woman around him.
“We are already on our way,” responded Adam, pulling his body across the video poker machines of the main casino.
* * *
The captain, together with his new friends, was first to get to the docking ring. He went to work punching out instructions on the console.
“Here comes someone,” yelled the woman. 
Adam was not more than fifty meters from the console, where the captain tapped away on the little screen. He pushed off the bulkhead launching him self down the corridor, followed by the others.
Adam pointed to the little hatch, “Go!”
Judy pushed off and disappeared into the hatchway. One by one everyone slipped into the opening.
“Captain, where’s Jenny?”
The captain continued to type orders into the console. “I don’t know.”
Adam launched himself down the hallway as another group of settlers emerged from the same corridor he had come from. One of the men pulled Jenny along. Adam’s mouth dropped open as he reached her floating body.
“I think she is alive,” said the man pulling her along by the wrist.
Adam grabbed her by the waist and held her for just a moment before taking charge of her limp body. “Go,” he ordered the men and pointed to the captain at the console.
He turned her up right and kissed her on the mouth despite the blood from her wounds that were all over her face. He pushed her away to get a better look and met her eyes staring back at him.
“The first one is free; the second one will cost you.” She smiled, and then grunted in pain.
“Captain!” he exclaimed as he launched her down the corridor.
The captain looked up as the Jenny reached him. He caught her with ease and pushed her into the little opening.
Inside the compartment, it was getting a little crowded as Jenny dropped to the decking. The captain stepped over her and Adam followed pulling her up from the deck of the Captain’s Launch.
“The gravity plating is working fine in here, by the feel of it,” complained Jenny rubbing her head.
Gabe stepped over to the hatch and pulled it closed as he heard someone on the other side. He gave it a push, and there was Zack holding his brother in his arms.
Zack smiled pushing his brother into Gabe’s arms, “I figure we could eat him if it takes too long to get rescued.”
Marty moved a little and gave Zack the finger.
“You’re alive?”
Marty laid his little hand flat and moved it side to side.
“I think that means, so, so,” answered Zack, entering the Captain’s launch and finding a seat for his brother and him.
“It looks like you broke your jaw,” said Judy, moving over to help care for Marty.
He shook his head and pointed to the men who sat quietly.
“Sorry,” said Tyranny, lowering his head in thought.
“We will have time for apologies later,” interrupted Adam, as he locked the pressure hatch and spun the handle around.
“Ready?” asked the captain.
“Everyone, hold on!” yelled Judy.
* * *
On the well lit deck of the Falcon. Commander Black stood next to his command chair. He watched the front screen waiting for the transport to be out of the way.  
“The Betty is underway,” said Petty Officer Blue.
“Fire, all weapons until there is nothing left of the Starlight. Mark the disposal of the station as a main reactor breach.”
“Aye, aye.”
Just as the first of the volleys of light hit the station, small objects scattered from the lower and upper half of the station, out into all direction.
“Life pods launched, Sir, the computer tallies three hundred objects and counting.”
“It was expected, they're empty.”
“Maybe a few guardsmen got away.”
“No, it must be a malfunction, main guns continued to fire on what’s left of the station. Inform the engine room, we will be going to full burn in 30 seconds.”
The home team moved away in the captain’s launch with the rest of the life pods scattering into the black. They watched as the Starlight was awash in white light with destruction set upon it by Black’s ship. It slowly was disappearing from view. The Alliance vessel’s main engine lit the view ports as the ship went into full burn.
“How soon to Jubilee? I'm hungry!” yelled Gabe.
“Not for a few hours. I am afraid to go to full burn, until they have put some distance between us and them. I am going to have to thank Mr. Black for making me a captain. After all, only the captain can take the launch out for a spin.”
“Can I come and help you thank him?” asked Adam.
“Yeah, can I come to,” whispered Jenny.
The others nodded in agreement.
“Jubilee is a bad idea,” stated Nero.
“Why is that?” asked Adam.
“Wrong time of the year, Jubilee is rounding the Red, The only planet that is close is Greenleaf,” said Nero, without raising his head.
“How would you know without a chart,” asked Adam.
“He is our navigator,” whispered the woman.
 “I have family there, and I know of a place to get help for the wounded,” said Judy.
 “So, Greenleaf it is,” stated the captain.

The arrow shaped launch slipped into full burn disappearing quietly into the black. Leaving what was left of the station to slowly burn out and fade away.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Starlight Chapter Seven

By J.D. FarnWorth

(080511) All rights belong to that of Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else would lay claim to the Firefly and Serenity Verse. Don't copy or use this material without the permission of myself AND someone holding the Gorram copyright. It is for entertainment use only.

Starlight station, Module one, Deck 3, July 12th, 2504, 20:17

Gabe sat in front of the monitors watching everyone ready themselves. He laughed as Judy ran up and down the corridor, blocking the image on the monitor each time she moved in front of the camera. When the main monitor focused on Judy’s actions, Gabe yelled out the hatch, “Okay, you got their attention. I hope this works.”
Each time she moved down the corridor, someone from the Caf-Deck moved from the table and headed into a cabin, in sight of the camera and the people in the control room.
Marty and Zack walked into Gabe’s cabin and sat down. What the image didn’t show was that each time she moved in front of the camera, one of the Starlight’s crew moved from their cabin back into the Caf-Deck. They stood against the wall and out of view of the camera. To the observer they all seemed to be going to bed except the large woman running up and down the corridor.
“Okay, Marty keep an eye on the monitors, I am going for it,” said Gabe moving into the corridor, he was having trouble not hiding his excitement about his part of the plan.
On the monitor, he walked from his cabin into the corridor; to the observer he looked as if he were talking to the jogger. He then motioned her into the storage room.
Marty and Zack watched as his two crewmates kissed and moved into the hatchway. As predicted the camera in the Caf-Deck, which to the observer looked empty, switched to the two lovebirds in the storage room.
“Go for it,” shouted Marty.
The escape plan was set in motion.
Zack lifted Marty up to the air vent.  The captain, Adam, and Jenny crawled around the counter into the kitchen. They pried off the access panel and slipped into the crawl space.
“We’re in!” yelled the captain.
“The Space Dwarf is away!” yelled Zack.
Marty climbed into the vent and disappeared into the small space. He had spent many hours in the Starlight’s air vents. He could fix anything and was half the upkeep of a robot. He loved his job, now if the dust wouldn’t make him sneeze so much, “Achoo.”
The captain crawled ahead and as they passed the storage room, he banged on the floor to let them know they could progress to the third part of the plan.
Judy and Gabe moved from the storage compartment to his cabin. From the point of the view of the observer he was about to get lucky.
They sat on the bunk and watched the main monitor move from a view of the storage room, back to the Caf-deck.  
“Okay, you can stop that now,” he said, pushing her away, but she moved back closer stroking his hair.
“Oh, come on,” complained Zack as he walked out of the room and down the corridor taking his seat next to the welded door to wait for Marty.
“What if I don’t want to,” Judy purred, unable to control her excitement.
He smiled and responded by kissing her. “We have time,” he whispered, moving closer.
She laughed pulling his jumpsuit off his shoulders exposing his hairy back.
The left monitor switched over to the control room, where Dr. Ryan stood. “The program is ready.”
Judy and Gabe sat up in the bunk to watch the next test.
 “Okay, everyone we are about to start another test. Be careful that they don’t hurt you.”
Black glanced from his monitor over to Dr. Ryan who had taken position in front of the small console. “Doctor my people are well trained and they will be fine.” Mr. Black cleared his throat and waited for a ready signal from everyone.
The Walkers seem to wake up from a trance as the Starlight’s Gaming computer system took charge. The guardsman readied their weapons and the orders were given to stand their ground.
The Walkers took two steps forward and to the surprise of everyone turned, and ran away.
“What the in the hell!?” exclaimed Black turning from the monitor to face the doctor. “What the hell did you do to them?”
Judy slid over behind Gabe as he typed out commands on the EC unit. “Did… did you just tell them to run away?”
“No, the AI program is still controlling them. I just informed the gaming computer that the card pits are taking heavy losses.”
“What will that do?” asked Judy, sliding her hand down the front of his chest.
“If the computer is being told that the casino is taking heavy loses,”
“It will tighten the odds!” she exclaimed, as she grabbed his nipple between her finger and thumb.
“Crap!” he yelled.
“Don’t you mean Craps?” she laughed playfully. “Look, the soldiers are giving chase.”
The guardsman ran from the arena and by the time they reached the casino floor, the Walkers had armed themselves with the brooms left there from the earlier test.
“Interesting,” announced Dr. Ryan.  
“What? Are they going to start cleaning again?” asked Black, his face was red, and beads of sweat formed on his forehead.
Dr. Ryan wore contempt upon his face. “No, that is a different program.”
“Then what are they doing!”
“Wait just a minute. They have armed themselves,” answered Dr. Ryan, he could hardly contain his excitement, his joy, as his Walkers formed a phalanx.
Mr. Black turned and watched the Walkers pause, waiting for the guardsmen. As his men approached the Walkers ran once again for the exit to the crew section and Module One.
“What are they doing now?” asked Mr. Black.
“I have no idea; the Starlight’s computer makes too many decisions. It is checking and rechecking the odds of success.” Dr. Ryan keyed some quick equations into his hand held.
The Walkers stopped at the opening to the crew section and waited for the guardsman. They held their brooms out in front in another phalanx defense, bottle necking the guardsmen from entering the crew area.
“It's cheating,” said Dr. Ryan.
“Who is cheating? Ryan, you start making some sort of sense, before I end you.”
“The Gaming computer, it decides who wins and who loses, it was designed that way, if the casino loses credits, it makes it up somewhere else,” answered Dr. Ryan, again looking at his EC unit.
“So?” squeaked Mr. Black, who had began to loose his voice.
“Well, in a casino the house always wins, even if the computer has to tighten the odds.”
“SO! Why is it tightening the odds now?”
“I have no clue, but the computer is going to win no matter what.”
“Shut it down!” demanded Black, watching the group of Walkers push out their brooms holding the guardsmen to a stalemate.
“Denied!” exclaimed Dr. Ryan.
“What did you say to me?” Black’s eyes widen and his hand slipped to his pistol.
“The computer just denied me access to the simulation,” answered Dr. Ryan.
“Look!” yelled the petty officer, pointing to the main monitor. “The Walkers have left seven at the bottle neck and the rest are on the move.”
“Where are they going? Somebody explain to me what in the hell is going on with my project!” yelled Mr. Black, he resorted to pounded the console to get everyone’s attention.
The group ran passed a sign labeled Caf-Deck hallway.
“They are coming here. We taught the program to fight by defending and taking out the leadership. Just like it tried to do with the master chief,” announced Dr. Ryan, who seemed rather shocked at what he was witnessing.
“Lock the hatch!” ordered Black, pointing at the open exit.
“Aye, aye,” answered Petty Officer Blue, as he jumped to his feet and ran to the hatch.
Just as the hatch closed the Walkers reached the entrance each grabbing the handle. The petty officer held the end and stopped the entry by placing his stun stick in between the handle and the door.
“Look!” Ryan pointed at the monitors.
The prowler system activated and was searching the casino, the arena, the hallways, and everywhere there was a camera. All cameras were activating and deactivating, causing a strobe effect across the control room and on the faces of the command staff.
The monitors each stopped on different angles of one man, the Master Chief. He had recovered and moved from the arena to the bottleneck in the casino.
“Why is the computer watching him?”
All three monitors followed the Master Chief as he pulled his automatic and pointed it in the direction of the Walkers.
“No!” screamed Dr. Ryan, “Stop him!”
“Why?” asked Mr. Black.
Just then the gun went off and the back of the head of the first Walker exploded outward and the settler fell limp on to the deck.
“Gorram-it.” Dr. Ryan, fell into his seat, as he watched another test subject fall.
“What’s wrong? They’ll have this mess cleaned up in a few minutes now.”
“He just taught the gaming computer how to win,” answered Dr. Ryan, he reached over to his EC unit and then just flung it away. “I told them that I needed more time to run tests, I need more control. But, hell, no.” Looking up at Mr. Black and pointed to the main monitor.
The monitors had broken up into the 10 by 10 images of different cameras, all searching for something. The center monitor stopped on the automatic in the hand of the Master Chief, the next on the Petty Office that stood next to Mr. Black. The last monitor stopped at the ready room just off the docking bay near Black’s ship. In one corner of the image was a shotgun leaning against the wall.
“What is that?” asked Mr. Black, moving from the hatchway to the left monitor.
“That is where all the weapons are that we took off the Starlight’s crew; it is just some shotguns and a few pistols.”
“Someone, tell me why they are there and not stored on the ship?” asked Mr. Black.
“The men just dropped them on the dock. I wasn’t sure you would want anything from the Starlight on the ship.”
“Okay, so, where are the guardsman’s rifles.”
“On the ship,” answered the petty officer.
“I told them to go easy and I was afraid they would kill the Walkers.”
“You are right doctor, we have lost,” said Mr. Black, plopping into the oversized chair next to Ryan. He looked up to the main monitor and watched as the Master Chief began firing into the faces of the Walkers that remained at the bottleneck. In turn, each settler fell to the floor.
After seven shots, the guardsmen started up the ramp and into the crew area passing the entrance to the Caf-Deck and an opened vent hatch.
* * *
Judy and Gabe looked on in horror, sitting arm in arm. “Oh, my, how are we going to tell the captain about what has happened?”
“We ain’t,” answered Gabe, pulling his ships suit back over his shoulders.
They had watched the running battle, but there was no way to tell the captain what had been going on, Gabe knew it, and so did Judy.
The dozen or so confused zombies mulled around the docking bay. The soldiers ran up the ramp and over the bodies of the settlers. Mr. Black and Dr. Ryan sat in front of the control console watching the same images. One of the cameras focused on the zombie holding a shotgun.   
“They look like they can’t use the weapons,” said Judy.
“The computer doesn’t know how to use weapons,” said Gabe, watching as the Master Chief moved in close. Without mercy he began shooting the Walkers down stopping to reload on the third shot.
Judy began to cry, turning her head into Gabe’s neck.
Giving Gabe, an idea how to help his team, saying, “Oh, but they do,” he said, pulling Judy from his neck. He keyed in a statement into the log on the EC unit. All screens on the prowler system read the words.
The men know how to use the weapons release them.
The Walkers stopped and screamed in a rage. “How do you like it?!” The settlers awoke from their trance and fired the shotguns into the unarmed soldiers and orderlies that had just joined them. By the looks on the settler’s faces the computer had released the real monsters, the ones that had been taken from their ships and forced to do these experiments.
Judy screamed and ran out of the hatched into the corridor.
“Stop!” yelled Gabe.
It was to late the gaming computer had already locked on to her. The three screens locked on one camera of Marty, one on Judy and one on command staff in the control room.
Marty was working to open the doors and Judy ran into the kitchen and disappeared behind the counter.
The computer took control of the settlers and in a few seconds they were upon Marty. He stood his ground but in the end the Walkers showed no mercy. He fell limp under the arms crashing down upon him.
Gabe sat on the bunk rocking back and forth, holding Adam’s EC unit with both hands. “This is the evidence of what’s happening.”
The Walkers started to pull at the hatch weakened from Marty’s torch.
Gabe could hear Judy screaming into the crawl space. The center screen shifted to the engineering room, where Adam and the others had slipped out of the other end.
Mr. Black was on the move also running for his life leaving the control deck and heading to his ship.
Gabe dropped the EC unit into his lap and opened up a screen. The center console showed his employee photo as soon as he opened the communications app.
“So, I got your attention now,” he said aloud, keying an intercom connection between him and engineering. “Adam, most of the Alliance people are dead.”
He could see Adam pause.
“You need to get us out of here, I think Marty is dead too.”
“How did they die?” asked the captain.
“The gaming computer out thought them and the zombies killed them with weapons they took off of us.”
Gabe watched the captain come into view. On the other monitor was the hatch of Black's ship. The Gaming computer had no access to their ship.
“Gabe we will get to you somehow. Won’t we?” asked Jenny.
“Of course, we will need a new plan,” said the captain as if he were trying to convince himself.
“Okay,” responded Gabe, who started to rock once again.
“We will just have to figure out how to get passed the zombies,” said Jenny, turning to the shelved crates against the back wall.
“Can you try to launch that protocol that slows the computer down again?” asked Adam.
Gabe lowered his head and started typing.  “Yeah, I will work on it.”
The banging got louder then and sounds of tools against the door.
“Gabe, how many are left?” asked Adam.
“Eight or nine, I am not sure.”
He pulled the EC unit loose from the monitors and the screens went black. “If they are going to die I don’t want to see it.”
The banging stopped as Gabe rushed from his cabin into the corridor passing Zack as they met the on coming horde first. Gabe moved into the Caf-deck to the awaiting Judy.
“Adam, we are in the Caf-Deck. Hatch isn't going to hold them for long.”
* * *  
In the background, Adam could here the sounds of the remains of the Caf-deck door breaking apart.
The channel went out with a “FIZZ” sound and Adam looked over to the captain, who shook his head. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Starlight Chapter Six

By J.D. FarnWorth

(080511) All rights belong to that of Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else would lay claim to the Firefly and Serenity Verse. Don't copy or use this material without the permission of myself AND someone holding the Gorram copyright. It is for entertainment use only.

  Also, if you see a spelling error or any other issue, feel free to send me a note as many have in the past week. I will update with corrections so future readers will enjoy the story more and more. You can friend me on Facebook and follow me here.

Starlight station, Module one, Deck 3, July 12th, 2504, 15:03

 The Starlight’s crew had settled into Gabe’s cabin, each staking a claim to part of the room. Judy sat close to Gabe on his bunk. Zack and Marty sat on the overhead bunk. Jenny leaned back in the only chair bracing it against the wall. Adam was on the floor in front of the monitors, which was the center of everyone’s attention.
 “We’re all going to die!” Zack exclaimed, pounding his head against the frame of the bunk. He had been watching the colonist wander around the casino like zombies in some wave (movie).
“Bizui,” responded Marty.
Adam moved from the floor over to Zack and Marty’s side of the room. He watched Marty hit Zack several times, but that only made Zack even more agitated. Zack raised his fist and Adam made his move, grabbing the man and pulling him to the floor. Before Zack could respond Adam flipped him over onto his stomach and pressed his knee into the small of his back.
Zack let out a series of mudder’s curses that would have made any spacer blush.   
“Zack, I understand you can’t help yourself, but you are ruining my calm!” Adam yelled. Rising to his feet, he turned to Jenny and nodded in the direction of Zack.
The captain stuck his head into the cabin and cleared his throat. He waited for everyone to look his direction. “I want to have a meeting in the Caf-Deck.”
Judy and Marty headed out into the corridor first, looking relieved. Adam briefly watched Jenny as she knelt over Zack before departing the area. Gabe nodded to the captain with the understanding that he planned to keep watching the monitors.
“Jenny, you and Zack come when you are ready. Gabe, let me know if anything changes,” ordered the captain.
“Aye, captain,” answered Gabe, turning to the images on the monitors.
The captain could hear that Gabe had almost given up, his spirit had weakened, and he just called him “captain” in a respectful manner.
* * *
Everyone sat at the table, tea in front of them. An empty cup sat in front of the seat reserved for the captain. He sat down, placing his hands together as if he was going to pray.
Jenny and Zack wandered in and took their seats. Zack looked as if he’d been crying. Jenny shrugged in the direction of Adam and the captain.
“Okay. So, what do we know?” asked the captain.
“There are zombies on the deck, I…I mean visitors,” answered Zack, sounding a little more coherent at the end of his statement.
“And the twenty or so Alliance soldiers,” said Adam, obviously trying to give the meeting a little momentum. He looked over to Jenny.
“A few orderlies,” answered Jenny, counting them off with her fingers, holding up a count of four.
“That doctor with the glasses, Mr. Black and the two guys he has up there with him,” said Judy.
“How many would you say there were on Black’s ship?” asked Marty.
“Maybe two, but we can’t be certain because we haven’t seen any wave footage of Black’s ship,” answered Adam. He took a drink of his tea; he rolled his tongue wishing he had taken the time to brew some coffee.
“What about the Firefly? How many do you think would be on that bird?”
“Oh, at least five, and I would say no more than ten, but we can’t be certain that a few of the orderly’s aren’t part of the crew,” answered Adam.
“So how many does that make?” asked Jenny.
“There are around 40 on the Visitor’s side and 26 on the Home team,” said the captain.
“Thought there were 20 zombies,” said Judy.
“No, nineteen,” whispered Zack, in the last few minutes he seemed to have calmed down.  
“No, in the end this is a different game, and we are going in on the Home team’s side,” said the captain, sounding confident.
“So captain, it’s 40 to 26, which wouldn’t be so bad if we had weapons and could be sure the Home team won’t turn on us,” stated Adam.
“Yeah, and we have the element of surprise,” stated Marty. He noticed everyone looked confused.
“How’s that? We are stuck in here like rations in a can.” responded Judy, rising to stretch her legs.
“Not exactly, as everyone points out at least once a day, I was an injector cleaner on the Basure,” stated the captain, again sounding even more confident. He looked around at the un-enlightened faces. “Does anyone know what an injector cleaner does?”
 “Not really,” answered Jenny.
“They crawl through the insides of stations injecting cleaning solutions into sewage lines. It’s so the lines don’t get plugged,” he answered, sounding less confident.
“Oh, my, that is a crappy job,” Jenny answered with a little laugh.
Everyone struggled with laughter before noting the captain’s expression.  
“That is why I jumped at the chance to be any engineer on the Starlight. I was trained as an engineer, not a plumber, Damn it!”
“So how does that help us, exactly?” asked Zack.
“Under every Mess and Head there are crawl spaces,” answered the captain.
“I was also thinking that I could fit into an air vent, after all that is my job,” stated Marty.
“Because he’s the size of a turd,” laughed Zack.
Everyone began laughing along with Zack, including his brother. It was the first normal thing Zack had said in the last 8 hours.
“How big are these exits?” asked Judy, suddenly looking worried.
“Not big enough for you and Gabe, I am afraid,” answered the captain. He lowered his head looking into his tea, pausing to think on the problem.
“Then count me out, I can hardly stomach the corridor let alone a fracking vent, or a crapper cave!” yelled Zack, with a renew frustration, jumping to his feet and exited into the corridor. 
Adam watched Zack stomp away, he looked to Jenny, who nodded back. “So, any plan will have to include an exit strategy for the three of them.”
The captain nodded without raising his head. “Yes, maybe Marty could use the air vent to get around the welded hatches and open them from the other side.” He sounded less confident, a fact that was noted by the quick glances amongst the crew.
“As long as there is a cutting torch on the other side of the door,” said Marty, nodding in agreement.
“If not, could you bring something up from engineering to do the job?” asked Judy. She moved around the counter, ducking under the bulkhead.
“Yeah, but the air vents don’t go there. I would only have access to this module,” answered Marty.
“I am not trying to punch holes in the plan, but, we don’t have a way of communicating back and forth,” stated Jenny, but by her tone it was meant as a question.
“No, we don’t,” said Judy, pulling a snack from the cooler.
“So, what do we do for communication?” asked Adam, turning to the captain, who had remained quiet for the last few minutes.
“That’s why we have a plan that we stick to,” answered the captain, looking up to meet the stares of his crew.
“So, Captain what do you have in mind?” asked Jenny.
“We need a distraction.”
* * *
Gabe reached into his duffle and pulled out a bag of Blue Sun pretzels, saying, “You might be old but you are still good.” He was talking about himself, but laughed when he thought about the pretzels. Leaning against the back of the bunk, he buried his meaty hand into the small bag. The image flickered as the man in black appeared on the center monitor.
“Doctor Ryan, have you finished loading the Walker program to the Starlight’s computer?” asked Mr. Black, showing his renewed calm.
“Yes, I am just running the diagnostics, and soon we’ll be connecting the Walkers. You should be happy with the progress,” answered Dr. Ryan, not looking up preferring to work.
“Let me know when you are ready.”
“Yeah-yeah,” answered Dr. Ryan, waving his hand as if he were shooing a child away.
The main monitor switched to the Caf-Deck. The group sat around the table talking, looking as if they were planning something.
Gabe jumped up, stumbling over the trash in the middle of his cabin. “Guys, they’re watching!”
Judy stood and grabbed Adam, pulling him across the table for an extended kiss. The others laughed and jumped from their positions around the table to root her on. Adam’s arms flailed in an attempt to get away from her, to no avail. She pressed him against her. His free arm hit her side over and over.
The center monitor changed back to the main casino then to the arena.
“Okay guys, they are looking the other way!” yelled Gabe, settling back onto the bunk. In the other room he could hear Adam fall to the deck and the few choice words that he used to describe his attacker.
“Ah, it is all for the good of the cause,” he yelled, laughing once again at Adam.  
The multi-cam view changed. This time, an image of the corridor and the Caf-deck appeared.
“What are you up to?” he asked, as he stood and walked out of the hatch to inform the rest of the crew. Maybe he could get a repeat performance; this time she could kiss him.
* * *
The Walkers came at the guardsmen fifteen strong, bouncing off the line at full speed. Their reaction time was impressive compared to the last engagement. The remaining four swung around and attempted to out flank the guardsmen who, in turn, were waiting for the attack.
“Guys, you might want to get in here,” yelled Judy. She had replaced Gabe at the monitors.
Adam appeared at the door, “What’s happening?”
“The zomb…,” she started to say before simply saying, “They are doing better.”
Gabe slipped into the room, taking his seat next to Judy.
On the center monitor the Alliance troopers pulled their stun sticks and started to knock back the attackers.
“Okay, tell them to stop the attack,” ordered Dr. Ryan, he sounded frustrated and tired.
“Doing so now,” answered his orderly, from some where off camera.
“That was a lot better, Doctor Ryan,” stated Mr. Black who sounded very much impressed.
“Yeah, but it wasn’t what I was expecting,” said Dr. Ryan, only glancing to the camera.
“What are you talking about doctor?” asked Mr. Black, he sounded a little nervous, causing his two men in the control room to look over.
“Something is slowing the AI processors of the gaming program.” The doctor paused to make eye contact before turning his attention back to his work.
“Can you fix it?” asked Mr. Black.
“No, we’ll need to fix it from up there. Tell your man to look for a protocol that doesn’t belong. It should stick out.”
“Peter look for the problem. Ryan you should come up here.”
“Aye, sir,” answered Peter.
“I am on my way,” answered Dr. Ryan.
“Gabe, what’s going on with the gaming computer?” asked Adam, turning his attention to Gabe.
“I slowed it down.”
“How slow?” asked Adam.  
“It has trouble counting to twenty-one.”
“And why would you do that?” asked Adam.
“So I would win,” answered Judy, now smiling in Gabe’s direction.
“Yeah,” he responded, leaning away from Judy, half expecting to be slapped.
“Well, I think that it is sweet,” she said.
“You’re not making plans to corpse-ify me?” he asked, leaning back to where he started.
“Yeah, well, I was wondering why I was taking the casino for every credit it had,” she laughed.
“If only the credits were real,” said Adam.
“It was the thought that counted,” whispered Judy rubbing her large hand through Gabe’s long greasy hair. She moved away and out the hatch to inform the other half of the crew.
“Gabe?” asked Adam, pausing to listen for Judy’s footsteps to fade. “What happens when they turn the Starlight’s computers up all the way?”
Gabe sat back in his bunk and pulled his hands behind his head for support before answering the question. “Well, it is like this, they started off acting like zombies, with the second attempt they looked like a riotous mob, now I would be willing to wager that they will look more like…”
“Monsters?” asked Adam.
“I was thinking a squad of colonial marines.”
“Are they a match against the Alliance guardsmen?”
“I am no soldier, Adam, but I would still bet the guardsman will take them out with the stun sticks, but it might be a better match,” answered Gabe.
“Sounds like a good distraction and a great time to make our escape.”
“You know they will catch up with the life-boats or worse, use them for target practice,” stated Gabe, mournfully.  
“That is why we won’t be in the life-boats,” said Adam.
“Okay, where will we be?” asked the now confused Gabe.
The center channel went to a close up view of Mr. Black.
“We have figured it out, and are removing the sub-routines blocking the Starlight’s potential. How is Master Chief Thymus?”
“I am back up, but moving a little slow,” answered the scare faced man, who instead of a helmet wore a white bandage. “I got brained pretty good, but I’ll heal.”
“That is good. Get your men ready, the walkers should be moving a bit faster.”
Gabe looked from the monitor and met Adam’s eyes, “You have a plan?”
“I’ll get back to you, Gabe. I need to see a man about card game.”
“A card game?” asked Gabe, now standing to face Adam.
“Yeah, we need to play Three Card Monte.” Adam smiled at Gabe’s facial response.
“We don’t have time to play games,” said Gabe, chasing him out of the room and into the corridor.
Adam walked out into the corridor and moved to the storage area. Under the watchful eye of Gabe who remained in his hatchway.
In a past life, he had been a school teacher. He left the profession when he refused to change history to fit the school board’s ideology.
He missed the young faces of his students.
He was threatened with prison just for teaching them about the French Revolution. Someone didn’t want him reminding his students that in history, the oppressed had often risen up against their masters.
He was told he would be free to teach what he wanted on the border planets. His credits ran out short of his goal of living on the edge. Taking a job on this station was as far from the Core as he could get.
In the storage room he looked up at the camera then turned the light out. He slid the hatch shut.
“It’ll do,” he whispered, slipping back down the corridor, to the hatch leading to the Caf-Deck.