Evolutionary, страница 1
Text Copyright © 2014 James E. Porter
All Rights Reserved
To my wife and kids. Thanks for not shanking me and dumping my body in the river.
Somewhere in deep space…
Celestial Star took a deep breath and checked the charge on her ray gun. It read fully charged but that didn’t help her feel any more prepared. She looked at the group around her, all anxious and not really ready for the run ahead of them. Gorton Nebula actually looked like his main processor was going to overheat and he wasn’t even going.
“I’m not sure exactly what your plan is? How are you going to get there? Star?” He used the shortened form of her name instead of the more formal version. A metallic edge to his voice indicated his agitation and worry.
“The plan is, we run like hell and try not to die!” Star tried not to sound irritated, but she was. This whole stupid thing was her idea. Let’s build a rocket. Let’s beg the Atlanteans for forgiveness and help. Let’s pick people to go. Building the rocket wasn’t much of a problem, as there was a whole crashed star cruiser to pick over for parts. The design was simple with one main engine and a cigar shaped body, and fins for stabilization and to use as landing struts. It only took them a couple of weeks to assemble, they are machines after all, capable of working non-stop. The hard part was keeping all the plants and critters at bay, especially once the planet decided to really get serious about eradicating them. The big question was who would fly the ship back to earth? Of course they picked her. Picked her to lead a team back to earth, and back to their former creators and masters. That is, if the planet didn’t kill her first.
“Okay everyone, ready?” Star turned and fully faced the compound’s bulkhead door gearing up for the run ahead of her. “Focus on the rocket and run…”
Gorton pressed the big green button and the door slid smoothly open, outside air whooshed in causing a breeze as they stood there. The field in front of them was empty and calm. Like an ocean, the calm beauty hid the true danger that lurked below.
“GO!” She shouted and she bolted out the door into the calm field. She felt like the whole planet took a deep breath in anticipation of the carnage to come.
Her companions followed, their sleek metallic bodies sparkling ruby reflections from the red star sun high in the sky. Their feet denting the ground and crushing the grass-like weeds covering it. There were five other runners, all hand-picked by Star. She hoped they were ready for this sprint through hell.
Splatters of orange sap sprayed on their feet as the red tentacle grass was crushed, orange plant blood leaving a trail of goo behind them. Star could almost hear the grass scream in its death throes. The planet getting angrier for their trespassing on it. Intruders on its calm. Parasites in its paradise. Star and her people didn’t mean to trespass, it was all by accident. They left earth to escape their Atlantean oppressors and soon found a nice habitable world and they named it Hoave which was Atlantean for hope. They resided on Hoave for millennia and then the solar flares started getting worse and worse. They would have to leave or be killed by the electromagnetic disturbances. So they once again boarded their stolen star cruiser and fled to the stars, this time however they didn’t have much choice as to where they went. A chance meteor shower damaged the ship and they ended up crashing on the fourth planet orbiting a red giant star. They called the planet Doha, Atlantean for home. At first it didn’t seem so bad, with a pleasant temperature range and indigenous flora and fauna. It seemed like they may have finally had a place to call home. Then there were ‘incidents’ where people got killed, and at first it seemed like they were accidents or random animal attacks. Then the attacks started happening more often and by herds of creatures, or swarms of insects, plants would change to find better ways of hurting them. It soon became clear that they would need to find a way off this planet or they would all perish.
Star tried to just focus on the sleek ship in the distance, it was less than a mile away, cigar shaped with four fins at the bottom and standing upright pointing to the stars. They had originally wanted to build it closer to the compound, but safety demanded certain precautions with the use of so much rocket fuel. There was a flash to her right and she looked quickly enough to see Jaera Stareye get shredded by some razor vines. I will mourn for you later, my friend. Star fired wildly with the ray gun and hoped she hit something. She just kept running. The ship was closer now. Star could see the ladder going up to the entry hatch on the side, and higher up, the domed viewing port where the ship was piloted from. To her left Kin Orion was snatched into the air by some sort of large flying slug only to be devoured and quickly digested despite his metal construction. The four remaining runners tried to pick up the pace and were virtual silver streaks heading toward the launch pad. Abruptly the ground in front of them erupted in a swarm of angry, buzzing, insect-like stingers.
“Look out!” Star pushed Luna VinBanna to the right further out in the hopes he would actually make it to the far side of the swarm, while Star raised her ray gun and kept firing forward, blasting a hole through the cloud of insects. She leaped through the opening and heard the strangled screams of someone from behind her as the swarm caught them and pierced their steely skin with needle sharp stingers. The screams died in a gurgling noise as the injected acid melted them from the inside out. We’re not going to make it! She thought as she willed herself to go faster. “Run faster!” Star’s metallic sinews groaned as she pushed them to the limits churning dirt and grass as she sped toward the landing pad. “Almost there…!” Star made the final dash to the large concrete pad and leaped up to the ladder of the spacecraft. She turned to help the rest of her team onto the ladder and saw no one. She could only see the eerily calm field spread out before her, the grass swaying gently in the breeze. There was no one in sight, no sign that anyone had even been behind her. The quiet plains mocking her search for her friends, daring her to come back and look for them. Star turned and entered the craft wondering what hope her people even had. We are truly doomed. Despair wrapped around her like a cloak against the cool breeze.
Gorton Nebula looked out of the small viewport of the bulkhead door and watched the rocket slowly streak into the sky leaving a trail of brownish-black smoke behind it. Well somebody made it, hopefully they would make it to earth and convince the Atlanteans to help them. If not, then it would be the end of them for sure. The planet once again looked calm, but Gorton knew it was laughing, the maniacal laugh of a serial killer that has his victims right where he wants them.
Star watched he purple and red planet shrink as the rocket gained speed. “Such a pity that this beautiful planet could be so deadl
A few days later and the sleek rocket dropped out of quantum space and into Earth’s solar system. The last time Star had seen the planet was the day her people had escaped their slavery, but it was as beautiful now as it was then. The blue and white swirls were always pleasing to her eyes, and she surprisingly found herself excited to be here once again. The mood was overshadowed with the thought of how the Atlanteans would react to her return. They were not known for being sympathetic to betrayal. Perhaps time has soothed their wounded pride. Star moved her craft into a stable orbit, which wasn’t real easy with all the satellites and debris surrounding the planet.
“Seems our Atlantean creators have done some growing” Star scanned the planet trying to find the best place for her to make contact.
“Well that’s not as it should be….” Star looked at the monitors and the instrument readings she was getting. “Atlantis is gone!” Star could feel her hope disintegrate like glass thrown against stone, shattering into a million glittering fragments. We are lost. There is no one to save us. Star wept into her hands, artificial tears streamed down her face. Static burst over one of the speakers jarring her out of her moment of gloom. “What is that?” She turned up the sound on her radio scanner and was immediately bombarded buy a flood of auditory chaos. “But how is this possible?” She adjusted the filters until she narrowed the bandwidth to cover specific frequency and jumped as a clear voice broke through.
“…accident on westbound six has things backed up for about three miles, so avoid it if you can. That’s it for traffic, back to you, Dan.”
“Thanks, Carl. This has been the morning news break on KSSD 103.5 with Dan the Man, now back to some smooth oldies.” The voice cut out and strange music began playing.
“There’s still people here! Atlantis is gone, but they have carried on! There is still a chance, still hope!” She began flipping through the different frequencies listening to the different voices and music and static. She had a lot of studying to do and very little time to do it.
Gulf of Mexico
The sun reflected off the waters of the Gulf of Mexico giving a magical sparkle to the waves as they crashed against the legs of the monstrous oil platform. On the platform, inside his manager’s office, Jake Wonder stood looking at Kyle Anders like he really didn’t hear what he said. “Jake, it’s not really your job to analyze the durability of the parts; it’s your job to drill for oil. Are you a genius? Or maybe you took some night classes somehow and are suddenly an engineer with years of experience and knowledge about metal fatigue and part design?” Anders paused dramatically as he watched Jake try and form some sort of reply, but he didn’t wait for Jake to speak “I didn’t think so. Get out of my office and get back to work!” Anders was older, just starting to bald, with a pot-belly that was just big enough to hide the muscle underneath. Now Jake’s boss, Anders had once been out working the drill like Jake. He used to be a hard worker, now crushed by the bureaucracies of the company. Tired and broken Anders had sought other ways to cushion the meager retirement that he would soon be getting
“But those parts aren’t going to work! They’re different from the joints we normally get, the metal is thinner. It’s a substandard part. Someone is going to get hurt.” he insisted.
“Prove it.” Anders focused his beady eyes on Jake and dared him to present actual proof to his claim. Jake ran a hand through his thick blond hair scratched the back of his head and tried to think of anything that would support his claim. “That’s what I thought.” Anders looked like the kid who just got away with stealing candy from a baby and was gloating about it.
“Wait, you know about this. You know the parts are not up to standards. You son of a bitch. Jake instinctively moved his hand to the large wrench he always had on his belt. As his hand touched the cold metal he realized what he was doing and moved his hand away from it. Violence wouldn’t solve anything.
“Go back to work before I have to give you some time off to think about it….without pay! This conversation never happened or you’ll never work on another rig. Now, get out!” Anders rose from his seat and pointed to the door to emphasize his point. His face was red and drips of sweat trickled down his cheek and neck. Jake sagged in defeat and went to leave; he turned his head back to the angry man.
”This isn’t over by a long shot, Anders.” Anders chuckled at the empty threat. He was the one who worked out the deal to buy these new reduced price joints, while getting a significant kickback from the manufacturer. No one was ever going to be the wiser about it. Especially once I get rid of Jake. Anders was pleased with himself as he thought of ways he could fire that troublemaker.
Jake walked out of the office and resisted the urge to slam the door. Being a roughneck on this oil rig didn’t give him a lot of weight to throw around, he was going on his third year on the rig but he was still considered one of the new guys. He was a hard worker and that gained him the respect of his co-workers. Jake was moved to team leader for his crew, a reflection of his hard work and dedication to his job. Now he was in a position of putting his team at risk with faulty parts and no one would believe him. If only the micrometer that he kept ordering would show up, he could measure the part and be sure, but it never made it to the rig. That didn’t matter now, his shift was starting and they had to get to work drilling. His team would be the first to use the new parts and there was nothing he could do about it now. “Damn you, Anders!” He slapped on his hard hat and hurried down to the deck where the drilling operation was just starting. The drilling machinery had started to hum to life plunging the great rotary drill bit deep into the depths of the ocean seeking out a vein of black earth-blood, oil, their treasure. He watched closely as his team worked, making sure everything was going smoothly. Jake tensed. The air felt wrong, like it was made of thick sea foam. It churned around him, weighing on him making it hard for him to breathe. Jake looked around at his crew studying their movements and features looking for any kind of clue as to his discomfort. Deep down he knew what it was, the new parts. He watched Don attach the next section of pipe with the new joints that Jake suspected were faulty. Time seemed to slow to a crawl for Jake as he watched the two sections of pipe being joined, every muscle in his body tensed in anticipation of doom. Nothing happened, the pipe just slowly descended into the guide shaft without complaint. Section after section of pipe was added without incident until Jake started to think he may have been wrong. It was then that the drill hit a section of dense rock and was straining to cut through it. The groan of stretching metal filled the air as a high-pitched twang announced the failure of the pipe joint they had most recently attached. Jake was already moving toward Don when the joint catastrophically failed.
“Don! Look out!” Jake leapt to his friend, but he was too late. Don was ripped in half by a shredded pipe as it flung out of the drilling assembly, spraying blood and oil across the deck. The half of the pipe still attached to the machinery was spinning around and finally jerked free and launched itself into the drill controls. The resulting explosion of sparks ignited the oil. “Everybody run!” Jake started pushing people toward the evacuation stairs. Great gouts of flame erupted behind him singeing his back as he evacuated his team. As people launched off of the rig in the life boats the rig spectacularly exploded and burned uncontrollably behind them.
Star backed away from the viewer. She had just witnessed the most horrific display of planet-hating environment–wrecking actions. Oil and fire were killing fish by the hundreds and a blue whale had beached itself in confusion caused by the shockwave from the blast. She played the video again to pinpoint the cause of failure, and it did indeed appear to be caused by the one they called Jake. He reacted just prior to the cataclysm as if he knew it was going to happen. She scanned through the news reports starting t
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
Misty Moon walked along the quiet trail deep in the Ozarks wilderness. The air was warm and the sun sprinkled rays of light through the trees dotting the trail that she was lightly treading on. .The bright yellows and blues of her dress a stark contrast to the muddy browns and greens of the forest. She hummed softly as she walked, her strawberry blond hair worn long and gently catching the breeze. Her orange blouse was loose and hid the curves of her young twenty-two year old body, it had no sleeves so her smooth arms were bare. She walked at a slow pace, taking her time to explore all the sights in the familiar woods. Her blue eyes twitched around like they couldn’t decide exactly what to look at. Up ahead was a small clearing filled with wildly growing clover, patches of little blue flowers lived in harmony with their green neighbors.
“Well hello my little blue friends, how are you today?” The blue flowers swayed slightly in the wind. Misty liked to think that they were actually answering her though. She imagined them talking back to her
“Oh mistress, we are doing fine now that you are here!” She feigned embarrassment
“Oh really you silly little things, you shouldn’t say things like that…” She trailed off, and sat down as sadness took hold of her. Ever since she could remember, nature had been her one true companion. Comforting her and making her happy. She could always talk to the plants; they were nonjudgmental and basically listened to everything her heart poured out to them, just accepting her for who she was. People on the other hand, were not so understanding. Her mother didn’t understand her love of nature and mistook her simple theatrics with the plants as the ravings of a lost mind. Years of therapy ensued, including a short stint institutionalized. This only ended when her mother lost her life in a car accident, leaving Misty all alone, her father having left when she was just a baby.