Sunday Blogisode Twelve

February 20, 2011

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“That’s alright,” Exec told him. “Are any of us feeling the worse for the extra oxygen in the air? Remember the symptoms that Peterson listed.”

“With respect, sir,” Jody replied. “I don’t recall you and Ensign Peterson discussing symptoms for hyperoxia, just treatment.”

“No?” Exec turned to Archer, who nodded a slow confirmation. “My mistake. As well as I can remember, you’ll want to be watching out for tunnel vision, ringing in your ears, nausea, severe anxiety, dizziness, or a frequent cough.”

Jody froze in her tracks. “Sir, then it might be hard for me to determine if I’m suffering from hyperoxia in time to receive treatment. I was already experiencing several of those symptoms before we landed. I ascribed them to Kane syndrome – the hyperspace sickness.”

Exec considered this. “Then you should probably go back inside the yacht, just as a precaution.”

“But what about when you find the natives? I can’t do my job if I can’t talk to them.”

“There’s the intercom,” Archer suggested. “Or we could bring them inside through the airlock.”

“I’m not a xenobiologist, but I think it’s a bad idea to bring a native of this planet into a lower-oxygen environment than they’re accustomed to,” I said.

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Sunday Blogisode Eleven

February 13, 2011

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The airlock was quite cramped with the Exec, Colin Archer, Jody and I crammed inside, but I was glad enough that nobody was being left out – especially because I didn’t want to be the one waiting behind – even if Melissa was staying back in the shuttle for now.

Lieutenant Archer hit one of the control buttons on the wall. There was a hissing sound and I felt a noticeable pressure building in my ears. After a moment, Archer turned to Exec and actually saluted, which in the tight quarters made that he was step closer to Jody, to avoid putting his elbow through the wall. “External pressure has equalized, sir. I do not see any need to equalize atmospheric composition with the outside.”

“By no means, Lieutenant. Let’s take a look outside.”

So Archer opened up the external door, and I could feel the planet’s breeze blowing in, smelling exotic but fresh. I wasn’t quite sure if I could really feel the increased oxygen content, or if I was imagining that part.

The sun was at a high angle from behind the shuttle, so that the shadow stretched for about a meter and a half in front of the door. The sun was just a trace bluer than the sun of Earth was, and I wondered if that spectral difference was what made the sky seem slightly greenish and the shadows a kind of a muddy brown.

“I think that we’ve been noticed,” Archer said, pointing out the door. “If I’m right, he’s making tracks for the center of the base.”

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Sunday Blogisode Ten

February 6, 2011

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“The space habitats could be regressing too,” Archer argued back. “That’s why they don’t communicate with each other or… or use spaceships. Except for that one Walker saw.”

I did my best to ignore the bickering and started scanning for something more useful on the planet, like where would be a good place to land.

“I’m picking up a lot of useful data,” I admitted once there was a lull in the conversation about the space habitats and personnel shuttles. “The sensors on this ship are really good, and we’re getting close to the planet. I see a fair bit of wilderness of all biomes, climates, and terrains… plenty of cultivated land and small settlements, but only a few gatherings that could be described as – well, even as small towns, really.”

“That figures,” Jody grumbled. “Planet of the hick farmers. It’s of a piece with everything else we’ve found in this double-damned solar system.” There was a pause. “Sorry, Brett, but I think – just a suspicion, mind you, that my pain meds might be wearing off.”

“Probably right, but I can’t spare the time to recheck you just now,” Gary told her. “And we’re going to be coming in for a landing pretty soon, which will probably increase the stress on your system. Umm, Melissa, do you think that you could possibly…”

“I’ll check on Ensign Quinton,” Exec snapped. “I might not have ever taken the time for a formal field medic certification, but I’ve had to pitch in for a doctor under desperate circumstances before, and I saw what you were doing earlier, pilot Peterson. It’s not exactly rocket science.”

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Sunday Blogisode Nine

January 30, 2011

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As we drew close to the planet, I was actually on full-time duty as navigator while Gary piloted – it was my job to observe and find out more information about the natives as we approached the space that they were occupying.

“The space habitats are definitely viable and inhabited,” was the first report I made. “I don’t have quite enough resolution to catch a clear look of the inhabitants, but they look… well, they seem to be walking upright, like humans, but I’m not so sure about ‘biped.’ Might be three or four legs each, in addition to arm-like appendages. And there’s some other living creatures that might be livestock, or… well, it’s probably pointless to guess without more information.”

“Why didn’t we plan to go to one of the habitats?” Jody asked crossly. I could tell that she was really getting tired of the acceleration couch, and maybe the pain drugs that Gary had given her were wearing off.

“A few reasons,” the exec put in when nobody else volunteered. “Mostly we had no idea if they’d have a dock facility that would fit this ship. Especially since we couldn’t observe one of their own ships in flight…”

“Hey, I think one’s launching!” I exclaimed. Exec grunted doubtfully. “Just let me capture the video… sheesh, it’s a fast little bugger!”

When it was all done, I played the footage on the screen in the passenger compartment, so that the rest of the team could see it – a somewhat shaky re-enactment of a tiny little capsule speeding through space towards a distant space habitat. I’d have loved to get a clear look at the docking procedure, but the end of the trip was extreme range, and the capsule flew behind the destination habit just at the end.

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Sunday Blogisode Eight

January 23, 2011

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So I took the seat to Gary’s right at the controls, strapped in, and went through the rest of the pre-flight checklist with him. Soon enough we were on our way out of the flight bay, and zooming ahead of the Discovery to Achernar four. Once the flight was well underway there wasn’t much for either of us to do at the controls, but nobody seemed to want to speak up or start doing anything to fend off the boredom.

Jody finally said something about twenty minutes into the trip. “Aren’t you guys going to turn off the seat restraints sign and resume standard gravity?” The pinnace had artificial gravity generators built into the deck, like Discovery did, but Gary had never activated them, even though the main thruster was pushing all of us backwards into our couches at a little over double our usual weight.

There was a few seconds worth of silence. “No, sorry honey,” Gary called back. “The mission requirements are specifically that we get to the planet and land with all possible speed, considering the medical emergency. Unfortunately, that means that we can’t divert the power for reducing g-force.”

“Oh,” Jody said, and I could hear her sigh from up in the cockpit. “I still have a headache, and the pressure is making it worse.”

“Ensign Quinton,” the exec officer snapped. “Were you examined by medical personnel before reporting for this duty?”

“Yes, sir,” Jody replied, her voice stiff with the chain of command. “Doctor Haverman looked me over himself – he did remark that he’d like to have me resting and under observation, but understood that I was needed on this mission.”

“He consulted with me before coming to that conclusion, sir,” Colin chimed in. “I did ask about the likely progression, and it seemed that Ensign Quinton would be able to function for long enough that we could complete our task and she could then receive treatment.”

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Sunday Blogisode Seven

January 16, 2011

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She didn’t quite say it out loud, but I got the notion that she finally realized how hung up I was on Melissa and didn’t want to stick around as second-best. I can’t really blame her, but it breaks my heart when she looks at me like this, as if I lied to her. Maybe I did, but if so I was lying to myself too.

“So, umm… I guess Vic rates a visit from all the prettiest girls on the ship, just for fainting?” I said. “Is something more wrong than we knew, bud? I thought you’d be discharged by now.”

“We’re keeping him around for observation,” Nat said. “And for your information, we’re not just here in our capacity as beautiful women.”

“I see… as good friends, then?”

“Try competent professionals,” Carla informed me archly. “I’ve been assigned as hyperspacial sciences’ liaison to medical for investiagting the causes of… of Kane syndrome and attempting to devise a practical program of treatment.”

“And I’m medical’s liaison with hyperspacial,” Jody shot back. “So of course I’ve been assigned to keep Carla busy so that she doesn’t get in the way. But that’s okay – we’ll lick the problem together.”

“Along with your guinea pig, don’t forget,” Vic said with a itred smile.

“Well, good luck to all three of you,” I said, shaking my head slightly. “It makes me feel a little better that there’s another line of defence other than our crazy landing party mission. Vic – you’re hanging in okay, right?”

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Devin Versus the Distinctive Sweater

January 14, 2011

Okay, as I said I might, I’m posting the full text of ‘Devin Versus the Distinctive Sweater,’ which provided the ending sentence that I shared in the New Creations Blogfest. This is a bit longer than my usual posts, but I’ve decided against breaking it up for dramatic impact reasons. I hope that you enjoy it.

Devin Versus the Distinctive Sweater, by Chris Kelworth

The only thing that Devin Partlan understood was that he had to keep pedaling.

He didn’t know how he kept getting mixed up into this kind of thing. Just because his brother-in-law was some kind of spy, and Devin had accidentally found out the truth behind the ‘cover’, which suggested that Charlie wasn’t really that good at spy stuff, but so what? Devin suspected that there were other CIA agents whose family members knew some details about their jobs, and those family members weren’t constantly getting drafted and inveigled into missions. It just wasn’t at all professional.

On the other hand, after this kind of thing had already come up three times, possibly Devin should have thought better of planning a trip to Paris on the second anniversary of his and Kelly’s wedding. He’d thought twice about it, more about the money than the possibilities of French counterspies putting his life in danger, but – well, his dear Kelly had wanted Paris so badly.

And that was why Devin was cycling desperately away from the bad guys, trying to remember how to get to the one CIA Sanctuary that Charlie had ever told him about south of the Pont D’lena.

At least he’d kept on biking ten miles a day, six days a week, since marrying Kelly.

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Sunday Blogisode Six

January 9, 2011

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By the way, if anybody’s actually reading these little serials, I’d love to hear what you think. Pretty please with candy-canes on top, leave a comment? Thanks!

By popular demand – Now you can find all my blogisodes over here!

————

My Academy paper, ‘On the thought process of extraterrestrial intelligence’ had started off as a goof. I’d been reviewing the notes on our Xeno-studies unit with Vic and Gary, trying to come up with ideas for the mandatory essay assignment, and complaining that all of the exo-sociology stuff was made up anyway, because we didn’t have any alien cultures as a reference point yet. I distinctly remember Gary suggesting that I should do my paper in that area, then, because they couldn’t grade me down for being wrong either. Gary says that I came up with the idea before he did.

So I picked a topic that was a little ways to the side of what we’d been ‘taught’ in exo-sociology, because contradicting anything caught in class probably wouldn’t go over too well, but nobody had fed us speculations on the psychology of individual aliens. And as I got into the piece – well, it still wasn’t incredibly academically rigorous, but I guess I got sucked in a little and tried to do a decent job, particularly when it came to tackling the problem in terms of what we know about evolutionary psychology on Earth and what sort of evolutionary pressures might shape species in the environments of different planets.

But as exciting an opportunity as getting to go on a landing party was, I wasn’t that eager to go and put my little theories to the test, in front of the Exec officer, Melissa, Colin Archer – and Gary and Jody. But from the look on Gary’s face, I didn’t really have much of a choice.

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Sunday Blogisode Five

January 2, 2011

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I hung around in the officer’s mess with Jody for a while, and had just gotten to the point where I was getting ready to go and report for duty in navigation/cartography again when Gary showed up. “Walker! And Miss Jody Quinton as well, cool. Big news – there’s a landing party going down to the surface of Achernar Four, and we’re all going to be on the Gaia’s Hope!”

“Huh?” I muttered. “Are you being serious here, Gary? Because if not, I really need to go report to Lieutenant X.”

“As serious as the shit-uation that we’re all stuck in, buddy, and don’t worry about X – he’s heard about this stuff already. Well, maybe not that you’re on the roster, yet, he wasn’t there. But he’ll hear soon.”

“Okay, why don’t you back up and tell us from the beginning?” Jody asked him. I could tell from looking at her that she was trying to keep the star-struck expression off her face when she looked at Gary, but it wasn’t working one hundred percent.

“Gotcha,” Gary said, pulling up another chair at the table. “When they called me away from sick bay, Brett, I found myself in Captain Stevens’ officer, along with the exec, Lieutenant Archer, and… well, I think that was everybody at the time. They had the ship’s doctor on the intercom, though, and apparently the prognosis isn’t good.”

“Vic’s really sick?” I asked.

“We’re all getting sick,” Gary told us in a whisper.

“Yeah, I feel like it,” Jody muttered.

Gary shot her a moment’s look. “I believe it. You and I, Brett, we might not feel like we’ve got anything serious, like a hangover or so, but it’ll get worse. The tests that they’ve done so far don’t look good – some kind of microcellular tearing, especially in nerves and muscle tissue, with bleeding into the spaces between the cells.”

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Sunday Blogisode Four

December 26, 2010

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Okay, but enough rambling about Melissa and my unrequited love for now, it’s not that important anyway. I waved a little bit and sat down on the other side of Vic’s bed from her. “Hi, there. How’s the communication outlook?”

“More than a little puzzling,” Melissa admitted, making a disgusted face. “We’re stuck in the position of trying to translate total silence. There’s no radio, no microwaves that we can pick up, and no gear that we’ve been able to spot in the Space Habitats for communications lasers. As far as we can tell so far, they’re not talking to each other, and they’re not trying to talk to us.”

“Mysteries added to mysteries,” Vic muttered thoughtfully. “Is it possible that they don’t have the level of tech that they’d need to operate radio anymore? You’d think they’d have had it at the time that they set up their space program, but maybe the culture has declined since then.”

“That’s possible,” I said, a little doubtfully, and noticed that Nat had stepped over again. “Oh, hi Nat. Do you need Melissa in for tests too?”

“That’s probably a good idea,” she said, “but I had something to say to you, Ensign Walker. Go and grab something to eat from the mess. I can tell that you haven’t eaten since we inserted from hyperspace, and you need it. That’s a medical order.”

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