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Authors: Stephen Arseneault

Tags: #Sci-Fi & Fantasy

AMP Colossus

BOOK: AMP Colossus
3.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
By: Stephen Arseneault

"The world is full of small people, people who seemingly despise their own existence and bemoan the success of others. Don't let the minions of darkness drag you down with them. Instead of anger and vengeance, try a hand up and a kind word. Lift the world on your shoulders, hold it up into the light, and shake it. The dark minions will surely fall away."


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Copyright 2014 Stephen Arseneault. All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1

Two months into our journey to a new sector, a rumble rolled through the station. Actuator-11 was offline, sending the Grid in a new direction.

I walked into an ongoing staff meeting and spoke. "Colonel, Senators, we have discovered the reason for the failure. A Durian saboteur had been in hiding since we sent the rest of them packing. He managed to set off an explosive device, damaging some of the equipment that provides power to the actuator. We can repair the damage done to the equipment, but we cannot correct our direction to that which we had previously entered. We will be stopping somewhere other than our intended destination. Let’s just hope it’s not right beside a white-hot sun."

The Colonel replied, "Were we able to catch the Durian?"

I sat at the table. "The Durian blew himself up. It must have been a desperate move or a foul-up on his part, as they aren't known to be martyrs. I'm told our direction may be skewed by a full degree. Instead of stopping in a sector with only a few scattered star systems, we will end our journey in the thickest part of the galaxy arm. There will very likely be other star-traveling civilizations there. Let's just hope they are friendly, because we have no space fleet to defend us, and as always, our resource stores will be running low upon our arrival."

Admiral Zimmerman spoke. "Too bad Frig can't open a portal large enough to pass a ship through."

Admiral Chaulk replied, "If we're making wishes, Zimmerman, I would like a magic hat."

Admiral Chaulk had a dry sense of humor and always displayed a serious face. His comment drew chuckles from the other members of the meeting.

Zimmerman shook his head and continued, "If Frig was able to track our location and follow, how long before he arrives with our ships?"

I replied, "The estimates, as I understood them, are just over five years. What should concern us about that is that the Durians can be here in less. Their ships are faster than ours. If they wanted to catch us, they could do so before we had another chance to jump. The fastest recorded filling of those hydrogen tanks for the gravity drive is seven years and two months. Due to those faster ships, we can no longer just outrun our enemies."

The Colonel spoke. "We have several of those hardened Helgron suits for study, as well as a few of their blasters. Our lab rats are attempting to replicate them as we speak. If they do catch us, they will have a much harder time taking this station. We know how they fight, we know how they move, and we know how they think. But I will have to admit, I would prefer to fight them out there and not in our hallways."

The Colonel gestured towards the space outside of the Grid. That was his domain. Ship-to-ship battles were what his Gray Ghouls had trained for and fought during most of their military lives.

The Colonel continued, "Grange, we have been discussing the fact that this station no longer has a president. The staff here and I are of the opinion that you should assume that role until such time as normal elections are held. That would likely be once we are settled into our new location."

I stood and replied, "Ah, no thanks. I’ve assumed that type of position for far longer than I wanted to. There have to be others who are qualified for that."

I looked around the room. Michael Felix sat in a chair beside the wall, away from the main table.

I spoke. "As much as I hate to say it, and I will likely regret this, Felix over there would be a good candidate. He enjoys the whole politico/administrative thing. Make him your figurehead."

The room turned to look at Michael Felix. He stood and neatened his clothes.

The Colonel spoke. "Well, Felix? You interested in running this place? You would, of course, be answering to this group at the table."

Michael Felix cleared his throat and responded, "It would be an honor and a privilege. I do have experience managing business and people, and of course my time in politics, although somewhat short, adds governance to my resume."

The Colonel turned back. "Unless anyone has objections, I think we have our interim president."

The room was silent. I looked back over at Felix. He was turned towards a mirror on the wall and was primping himself.

I thought out loud, "What have I done?"

Michael Felix turned towards me. "You have nothing to worry about, Mr. Grange. I will soon have this station operating in an efficient manner. And it will be to the wishes of this… council."

I replied, "Efficient manner… just keep in mind, Felix, you screw this up, you get spaced!"

I turned away from Michael Felix and towards Ashley Elizabeth. "Other than bringing news of the actuator investigation, I thought I might try to lure one of your council members away for a bite of lunch. Miss Elizabeth, would you care to join me?"

I jumped as the Colonel banged his big fist on the table as he spoke. "Lunch is good. Let’s all meet back here in, say… two hours."

The room quickly cleared as the thoughts of food and a much-needed break settled in. I took Ashley by the hand, and we walked to a special picnic I had set up in the Alpha Bay landing port. With no ships entering or leaving, the giant gravity wall that separated the bay from space was the only thing that stood between us and an instant death.

The panoramic view offered by sitting out on the edge of the gravity wall was the best that could be seen from anywhere on the station. With no traffic moving, the lighting in the port was shut down to the bare minimum. It was as close as one could get to actually sitting out in space, hurtling forward at more than a thousand times the speed of light.

We sat on a blanket, and I removed the cork on a bottle of wine from the Grid vineyards that I had purchased earlier in the day. Two generous glasses were poured. After taking a sip, I leaned back on one arm as I rolled onto my side, my head propped up on my hand.

I spoke as I looked out at the starry sky beyond the wall. "You know, every one of those stars out there has the possibility of a new world to explore or a new civilization to interact with. I was really hoping we could stick it out in the Mensa sector and make a go of Jarhead."

Ashley sat with her legs out to one side, propped up by her right arm. "I think you might have had to change the name if you wanted Humans to settle there. Don’t get me wrong; as a veteran myself, I respect the other vets and their contributions, but that's just a horrible name for a home planet."

I replied, "Yeah, I kind of threw that one out there because I had nothing better at the time. I don’t think anyone ever thought enough about it to push for a change. We had bigger things on our minds."

I took another sip and then set down my glass. "You know, I used to daydream about us."

Ashley replied with a coy smile, "Really, daydream?"

I raised my hand as if to outline the top of a mountain. "We would be walking on a ridge on Jarhead; the cool, fresh mountain air would be blowing gently through your blonde hair. I would look deep into your eyes and then pull you in for a long, passionate kiss. I look back now, and I think that was the moment I fell in love."

With that statement, Ashley set her glass down and moved closer. We were soon embroiled in that same passionate kiss that I had imagined. The following day, we were standing before a magistrate.

Ashley spoke. "Do you think Frig will be offended that he was unable to attend?"

I replied, "He would have wanted to be here, yes, but he has bigger worries to think about now, such as the fact that he will have a new partner in the

Ashley smiled as she replied, "Maybe he will like the fact that with a few kind words, he can have a controlling interest in the decision making."

I replied, "You would sell out against me with that short-armed Gambit cowboy? I guess I didn’t know what I was getting into."

We were quietly married and went about our daily business as the Grid hurtled towards its new destination. Time passed quickly, and we were soon faced with a station that was slowing as it entered a new sector.

I sat down to a council meeting to discuss the destination information we now had in hand.

Admiral Zimmerman spoke. "We should come to rest a quarter of a light-year from a young blue star. We have five hydrogen harvesters ready to begin work on refilling our tanks. The system has four planets. None are inhabited that we can tell. We should be able to pull resources from two of them. We will have two harvesters ready when we stop. I realize these numbers are not adequate, but we need more resources to build more ships. It will take us most of six months to bring the needed harvesters online. From that point, we should begin immediate work on warships. Those big guns surrounding this station are all we have for defense."

I stood and spoke. "I would like to volunteer as a pilot for one of the harvesters going down to those planets; my beautiful wife and I, that is. We travel as a team now."

The Colonel replied, "Always having to poke your nose in things, Grange. We have trained pilots to fly those things, and we need those resources."

I replied, "We will take one of those pilots with us, Colonel. I’m starting to see why I became a Messenger in the first place. It will do me good to get off this station, but only if Ashley now comes with me."

Admiral Zimmerman spoke. "Nobody has issue with you doing just about anything you want, Don. But those harvesters only support a crew of two, and one of those needs to be a pro. We have the entire Grid relying on those two harvesters. So, if you go, you will have to go without Mrs. Grange."

Ashley stood and spoke. "Go on your little adventure, Don. You’ve earned it, and I will still be here when you get back. I can always use a little ‘me’ time."

I stepped around the table and planted a big kiss on Ashley in front of everyone.

The Colonel spoke. "You know, Grange, those displays of affection used to be all cute between you two, but now it’s just sickening… hahahahaha!"

I replied, "It’s not sickening to me, Colonel. And thanks for the opportunity, everyone. I’ll do my best to get that first load of refined ore back here for final processing."

I stood and left the room to prepare for two days on a new planet. After gathering my duffel bag, I began to make my way to Beta Bay and to the harvester that waited. When I arrived at the harvester, a tech was waiting.

The technician spoke. "Mr. Grange, the Colonel sent me down with this. It’s a new hybrid suit with some of the things we learned from the Durians. It should offer you far more protection than a battle suit. The Colonel says the atmosphere on that planet looks active. If there are high winds, this should protect you from flying debris."

I replied, "Thanks, and tell the Colonel thanks, but I don’t plan on being outside."

The tech persisted, holding out the hybrid suit. "Sorry, Sir; I was told that if you didn’t put this on, the mission was going to be scrubbed."

I replied, "Scrubbed? It’s a harvest run. There is no mission."

The tech persisted.

I spoke. "Fine, I’ll take the suit."

I threw the suit over my arm as I picked up my duffel.

The tech stood in my way.

The tech spoke. "Sorry, Sir. I was given instruction to help you suit up before you got on that ship, Sir."

I grumbled as the tech snapped, zipped, and pulled the suit into place. The hybrid suit had a soft, rubbery feel to the exterior.

I spoke. "You know, it doesn’t feel all that bad. It’s a bit more flexible than our battle suits. Kind of comfortable in the right places, you know."

The tech then pulled out a metal pipe. "It feels nice, doesn’t it, Sir. Almost like a thin coverall."

I replied as I rubbed up and down on the arms with my hands, "Not bad at all…"

The tech then turned and swung the metal pipe violently at my crotch as he screamed. My only reaction was to go rigid as I waited for an impact, which never really came. At the instant the pipe made contact with the suit, the inner layer hardened. The pipe stopped abruptly as the energy from the mass was spread across the suit's entire forward surface.

I looked angrily at the tech. "I should beat you over the head with that pipe!"

The tech replied, "Sorry, Sir, the Colonel insisted that you be shown what the suit would do."

I replied, "So the Colonel thought it would be funny to hit me in the crotch?"

The tech chuckled, "No, Sir. That was the other guys in the lab, Sir. They thought it would have a more lasting impact, if you will. That was the only test, Sir. You are free to board the harvester now. And one last thing, Sir: the manual for that suit has not been fully written yet. You will find a temporary copy in the harvester’s memory. I would suggest you read through it on your way down. It will be erased in a couple hours, as that harvester computer is not meant to be very secure."

As I turned back towards the ship, Ashley was standing with her hands on her hips.

Ashley spoke. "That was an impressive demonstration there, big guy. Have you been holding back on me?"

I replied, "Har, har. I almost peed myself when he brought that pipe around."

With the few minutes I had left, I shared more small talk, gave Ashley a long embrace, and then boarded the harvester. Duane Freeman was sitting in the pilot’s seat waiting.

Duane spoke. "Welcome aboard harvester 99, Sir. I call her the Beast. Get yourself strapped in, and we will get the Beast moving."

The ground harvesters were massive digging machines. The pilot would fly over an area while scanning for resources. From the scans, he would identify the highest-density concentrations and then settle on the surface for the dig to begin. Half a day later, we were sitting on a rich vein of iron ore.

I spoke. "So, you basically just sit here for two days while this machine does all the work?"

Duane replied, "Yep, sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I fly over and press a scan button, and then we land, and I press the dig button. I was all excited the first time I rode along in that chair. That excitement lasted for about ten minutes, until those laser drills took us below the surface. After that, there was nothing much to see."

BOOK: AMP Colossus
3.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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