Monday, July 30, 2012

The Genesis Project...Chapter 3


                                                       

     Kenzi walked into the cockpit of Genesis I ahead of  Gordon Miles and her eyes widened as she marveled at the bright shades of azure, green and brown that swirled around the sphere slowly looming larger in the view port. Gordon stepped around her and slid into the co-pilot’s chair.

     “C1789,” said Miles, “our new home.” He looked over his shoulder at Kenzi and smiled.

     The doctor, sensing eyes on her, broke her trance and looked back at Gordon. “Sorry,” she said, “I don’t normally get this view.”

     “It is quite amazing, isn’t it?” replied Gordon. He turned toward the android pilot. “How long before you can put us in orbit, Max?”

     “We’ll be close enough in about five hours.”

     “I have to go see, Sergeant Brackett,” said Gordon, rising from his seat. “Doctor, you’re welcome to sit here if you’d like to enjoy the view a while longer.”

     “Thank you, Gordon, that would be nice, that is, if Max doesn’t mind.”

     The android looked over at Kenzi. “You are quite welcome to stay if you wish, Doctor Sheppard.”

     Gordon Miles stepped from the cockpit and made the short walk to the pod room where the Freelancers had taken up residence.  He found them congregated around the tables set up in back of the room. Private Billy Gilroy, sitting across from Mike Brackett, nudged the sergeant and nodded toward the hatch. Brackett, who had his back to Gordon, rose from the table and turned to meet the leader of the expedition.

     “I was just coming to see you,” said Brackett, when Gordon reached the group.

     “We’ll be achieving orbit in about five hours and I’d like you to send a scout team to the surface,” said Gordon.

     Brackett nodded. “We’ll be ready. You can find us in the cargo bay getting our equipment together when you need us.”


     Doctor Kenzi Sheppard was still in co-pilot’s seat when Gordon returned to the cockpit. “So, what do you think, Doctor? Have you decided if you want to live there or not?” he asked.

     Kenzi chuckled. “You’re about fifty years too late asking me that question, but considering the alternative, I think I’ll stay,” she said, rising from her seat. “Now, being we’ve arrived, I have work to do.”

     She stepped from the cockpit and made her way down the hallway where two of the freelancers sat waiting for her in sickbay. They both stood when she came through the hatch.

     “Howdy, Ma’am,” said the obviously younger of the two, “I’m Doc Hunnicutt and this here is Corporal Hodges. We come to get the Major.”

     “You’re a doctor?” asked Kenzi.

     “No, Ma’am, I’m the medic.”

     “And a fine one he is too, Ma’am,” said Hodges.

     “Yeah, I’m like their credit card. You know, they can’t leave home without me,” replied Hunnicutt, getting a playful shove from Hodges.

     Kenzi pointed to the gurney with the black body bag. “When I found out he was going with you, I made sure he wasn’t going to become a problem, if you know what I mean.”

     “Thank you, Ma’am. I know we’ll all appreciate that before we find him a place to rest,” said Hunnicutt. The two men gave her a wave as they maneuvered the gurney out of sickbay.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Genesis Project...Chapter 2...Part 2


     “If you’re watching me tonight, your journey is almost over.” Doctor Sheppard quietly slipped through the door of the darkened crew lounge, winching as the door latched loudly behind her. The President of the World Council of Nations spoke from behind a desk in front of the Council’s flag on the screen at the front of the room.

     “Earth, as you know it, no longer exists.” Kenzi scooted into an empty seat next to Sergeant Brackett at the end of the back row. “Did I miss anything?” she whispered.

     “No, Ma’am,” Brackett whispered back after a shake of his head. “He’s just getting started, but he’s getting ready to tell us how he appreciates the sacrifice all of us are making.”

     “All of mankind appreciates the sacrifices each and every one of you is making.” Kenzi covered her mouth to stifle a laugh when Brackett looked at her with a raised right eyebrow.

     They sat for the next twenty minutes and listened to the President rehash the objectives they’d gotten in a pre-launch briefing fifty years ago. Mercifully, the screen finally went white. Kenzi looked over at Brackett with his chin on his chest and gently poked him in the side. The sergeant opened his eyes and looked over at her, lifting his head as the lights brightened the room. “The torture session is over,” said Kenzi.

     They rose from their seats as the rest of the room started to file through the door. “I talked to Gordon Miles about your request,” Kenzi said to Brackett.

     “Yes, Ma’am, I talked with him earlier. Thanks for going to bat for us. Now we can give him a proper sendoff.”

     “Better that he be among friends than being shot off into the stars all by himself,” said Kenzi.

     Gordon Miles, trailing the line leaving the crew lounge, stopped beside them. “That wasn’t as painful as I thought it was going to be.”

     “Speak for yourself,” replied Kenzi.

     “I should be getting back to the men,” said Brackett and nodded at Kenzi and Gordon.

     “Sergeant, I’d like to see you when you get time,” said Gordon.

     “Yes sir,” replied Brackett and followed the last of his men out the door.

     “Mister Miles, “ the android’s soft voice appeared from the overhead speaker.

     “Yes, Max,” replied Gordon, looking up into the speaker.

     “Our destination has come into view.”

     “I’ll be right there.” Gordon looked at Kenzi. “Care to have a look at our new home?”

     “I’d love to,” replied Kenzi and followed him out the door.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Genesis Project...Chapter 2...Part 1


     One by one the pods opened and the chatter and laughter of life slowly returned to Genesis I.  Kenzi sat in sickbay when one of the Freelancers, wearing sergeant stripes, stepped through the hatch.

     “Gordon Miles said you wanted to see me, Ma’am,” he said.

     Kenzi paused for a moment and looked at the name label on his camouflage shirt. He stood at attention, his feet together and his arms rigid at his side. His eyes riveted somewhere behind her.

     “Did Gordon tell you why, Sergeant Brackett?”

     “I think I know, Ma’am.” His eyes never wavered from the spot behind her. “The Major was supposed to be up before me and I’ve not seen him.”

     “Relax, Sergeant,” said Kenzi. She held out her hand to Brackett. “Doctor Kenzi Sheppard.” 

     Immediately the tenseness in Brackett disappeared and he shook Kenzi’s hand. “Mike Brackett, Ma’am, glad to meet you.” Spreading his feet apart, he stood with his hands behind him.

     “Major Grayson’s pod malfunctioned,” Kenzi informed the Sergeant. “It happened sometime after we left.”

     “Can I see the Major, Ma’am?”

     “He may be hard to look at.”

     “Yes, Ma’am.”

     Kenzi rose from her chair behind the desk. “Follow me, Sergeant.”

     She led Brackett to a corner of the small sickbay where a black body bag rested on a gurney. Kenzi unzipped the body bag. The sergeant looked at the remains of Major Grayson for a couple of minutes, and then looked up at the doctor.

     “Thank you, Ma’am, I’ll break the news to the men when we’re all together. One more thing, the Major was really looking forward to this mission. If you don’t mind, I’d like to bury him wherever we decide to settle down.”

     Despite the sergeant’s rough exterior, Kenzi could see the sadness and hurt in Brackett’s eyes. “I think that could be arranged, Sergeant. We have a chaplain with us. I’ll talk to Miles about it.”

     “Thank you, Ma’am. The Major and me go back a ways. We met in the Corps. Fought a lot of wars together since. He was a warrior and a gentleman. You would have liked him.”

     “I’m sure I would have,” replied Kenzi.

     “Well, I should go be with the men. Thanks for taking care of the Major.” Sergeant Brackett turned and strode out of sickbay.

     Kenzi zipped up the body bag and returned to her desk. She’d been apprehensive about the dangers of the Genesis Project, but if the rest of the Freelancers were like Sergeant Brackett, they were in good hands.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Genesis Project...Chapter 1...Part 2



     She turned left from the dining room and walked down the hall until she reached the large MEDICAL sign. She stepped through the hatch and grabbed the white lab coat that hung on the peg on the wall. She checked the large pockets to make sure her stethoscope was still there. Everything was as she left it. She slipped the coat on over her white jump suit. On the way to her desk in a corner of the room she stopped at the sink and looked in the mirror.

    “You don’t look a day over thirty-five,” she said, running her fingers through her brown hair. She didn’t really want to think about how old she really was.

     She opened the top drawer of her desk and removed a watch. Much to her surprise the seconds were still counting up. Not sure how long it was going to last, she strapped it to her wrist. At least it would make a nice accessory, if nothing else. She took a quick glance at the watch and realized she had just enough time to make the pod room before the next pod released its occupant.


     The pod hissed and the lid lifted as Kenzi stepped through the door. She looked up at the numbers on the vital signs board and noted they were increasing slowly into the normal ranges. She walked up beside the pod.

     “Good morning, Gordon,” she said with a smile.

     Gordon Miles, the advance party’s leader, rubbed his eyes and squinted up at Kenzi.

     “Doctor Sheppard,” he said, “is it morning?”

     “It is for us,” said Kenzi.

     Miles swung his feet over the side of the pod, tried to stand up, lost his balance and sat back down.

     “Guess I tried to get up too quick,” he said, scratching his salt and pepper hair.

     “It does take some getting used to,” replied Kenzi with a chuckle and patted Gordon on the shoulder. “Max has coffee in the galley when you get your legs under you.”

     Kenzi left Gordon Miles and walked down the row of pods looking at the changing numbers of the vital signs boards above them. She frowned when she approached the blank board above pod number eleven. The name under the board read Major Anthony Grayson. He was in charge of the Freelancers, a group of mercenaries that accompanied them for security. She walked up to the pod and looked through the small rectangle window in the lid.

     “Oh my,” she exclaimed when she saw the shriveled face lying on the pillow inside.

     She stepped back from the pod and walked around it. Not seeing anything that would suggest foul play, she decided it was an unfortunate equipment malfunction and would make Gordon aware they had lost a member of the party. She finished her inspection of the pods and solemnly walked from the pod room.

     She found Gordon Miles sitting at the first table in the galley sipping on a steaming mug of coffee and munching on a pastry.

    “These are quite good,” he said, holding up his breakfast, “you should have one.”

     “We’ve lost one of our Freelancers,” said Kenzi, ignoring his suggestion.

     “Oh?”

     “Major Grayson’s pod malfunctioned. It must have happened shortly after we left. I’d like to get him out of there before anyone else wakes up.”

     Gordon popped the last of the pastry in his mouth, licked his fingers and wiped them off with a napkin. He drank the last of his coffee, wiped his mouth and stuffed the wadded up napkin into the mug.

    “I’ll get Max to help me.”

      Kenzi watched Miles leave the galley and hoped this wasn’t a forecaster of what lay ahead of them. They didn’t have any more people to spare. With a soft sigh, she turned toward the plate of pastries next to the coffee urn.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Genesis Project...Chapter 1...Part 1



     The last few numbers on the control panel countdown clock held Max’s attention as they clicked down to zero. The streaks of light in the view port suddenly turned to a twinkling star field as the big sleeper ship dropped from hyper light drive. The android pilot of Genesis I turned in his seat to watch the lights in the forward compartment flicker to life. The sleeper ship’s fifty-year journey had entered its final stages.

     Earth was dieing and Genesis I was the first phase of  The Genesis Project. She carried an advance party to C1789, a planet in what was deemed a habitable zone in the then, newly discovered Hemera galaxy. Once revived, the crew would shoulder the responsibility of creating a new earth colony for Genesis II and the ships that followed.

     Max turned his attention back to the control panel in time to catch the red light marking the first pod blink to green. Life was about to return to Genesis I.

     The android stepped through the pod room hatch as the lid on the white pod marked with a big black number one on its end, hissed and slowly lifted. He stopped next to the  open pod and quietly waited while Doctor Kenzi Sheppard’s eyelids fluttered open and she took in the sights and sounds around her.. She blinked twice and smiled when her eyes settled on Max.

     “Welcome back, Doctor,” greeted the soft-spoken android. He looked up at the numbers on the panel above the pod. “Your vitals signs appear normal.”
    
     “Thank you, Max,” Kenzi replied, “it’s definitely good to be back.”

     She swung her legs over the side of the pod, sat up slowly, then waited for the wave of dizziness to subside. After a minute, Max held his hand out to her and helped her get both feet on the floor.
    
     “I expect you’ll be wanting a big cup of hot coffee,” said Max, getting a chuckle in return from the doctor.

     “Yes, that would be nice,” she replied.

     “Shall we?” said Max and swept his arm toward the hatch.

     Kenzi took a couple of unsteady steps. “Now I know how babies feel when they take their first steps.”

     “Before you know it, you’ll be as good as new,” said Max, walking behind Kenzi as she made her way toward the door.

     They left the pod room and walked down the long hallway toward the dining room. Max seated Kenzi at a long table with a long row of bench seats on each side and disappeared through the swinging doors into the kitchen. He returned with a steaming mug of hot coffee and set it on the table in front of her.

     “Anything in it?” he asked.

     Kenzi smiled at the range of Max’s knowledge of human tendencies.

     “Black is fine,” she said and wrapped both hands around the coffee mug. She looked over the rim of the mug as Max sat down across from her.

     “In approximately thirty eight minutes the next pod will open,” said the android. “Your pod opened twenty two minutes ago and they are scheduled to open one hour apart.”

     Kenzi looked at Max and wondered if the appearance of the ever-present smile on his face was a hint at humor by the creators of the android and his counterparts. She was curious to see if the androids piloting the rest of the ships that followed them carried the same pleasant trait. She giggled softly as she took another sip of her coffee.

     “Did I say something funny?” asked Max, cocking his head

     Kenzi giggled louder. “No, Max, it’s just nice to be up and about again.”

     “I’ll have to prepare something light,” said Max as he rose from the table. “Everyone will need something to eat when they awaken.” He stopped midway through the double doors and turned back to Kenzi. “Do you remember where sick bay is?”

     “Yes I do, Max, thank you.”

     The android continued through the doors and Kenzi finished the coffee in her mug. Setting the mug on the table, she rose from her seat. “You have work to do, Doctor,” she reminded herself. “Time to get a move on.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Shifting Gears

  For some time now, I've been tinkering with a science fiction story. It's been read by a couple of reliable readers who would tell me to stuff it in a waste basket if it wasn't worth their time. But it hasn't gotten that kind of reception. It's been quite the opposite. They've asked for more.
  So, I'm going to deviate for awhile from my normal western fiction and into the realm of science fiction. I'm going to blog it and see what happens. It will all start in the next day or two. As always comments are welcome, pro and con, and any suggestions are always considered.
  The Genesis Project is about to launch! Come along for the ride!