The purpose of this blog is to provide a place for me to express the stories that boil out of me. Feel free to comment, critique, congratulate, or hate. To create is to live.

October 17, 2013

Colony Darkling - 01-04

Part 4
The nursery was crowded with the excited burble of young children. Miss Keen, the nursery intendant, had been on shift for the last 12 hours. Her skull felt like an apple in a vice, though thanks to a few white pills the jaws had stopped closing an hour ago. Her assistants had called in sick for the second shift, or just not answered her pages, and she had had no choice but to be there for a full double.
Both classes had been hellish, the children could sense her discomfort and saw it as weakness. The memory of ancient documentary footage showing an elk being torn to shreds by wolves flashed through her head and she shivered.
“Miss Keen! Miss Keen! Brad is being mean!” a little girl screamed as she ran at Miss Keen. The girl’s face was a red mask of dripping blood, an eye dangling from its socket to swing with each pounding step.
Keen froze, her pain expanding into a metal chrysanthemum scraping the inside of her skull, as her eyes locked on the charging figure. The girl collided with her leg, the ruin of its face slapped wetly into her thigh while tiny arms locking her leg in place.
“He said I was ugly!” The creature looked up at Keen, a strand of blood and pus trailing from her empty socket to Keen’s leg. “Do you think I’m ugly?”
Miss Keen’s hands were trembling as she wrenched the beast from her body and pushed it away. There was a wet thud as Miss Keen shivered, the taste of bile sliding across her tongue
“Miss Keen?” a girl’s voice pushed through her shock as a hand gripped her shoulder. Miss Keen blinked and looked to the hand and followed an arm into the concerned face of a 14 year old girl.
“Miss Keen, are you OK?”
Gone was the creature, the blood, the hanging eye of judgement. All that remained was the dull thud in her skull.
She shook her head, trying to clear the pain and make the nursery come back into focus. The place was relatively quiet now as it was late and most of the colonials had picked up their offspring.
“Yeah, I’m fine, I think I’m just a little tired. Ceril! Ceril!” Miss Keen called to the room. A tousle haired 8 year old turned from a paint smeared esil with a smile. He wiped his stained hands on his tiny overalls and ran to Charlotte.
“Time to go kid,” Charlotte said as Ceril put his hand in hers. He gave a little wave to Miss Keen before both of them left the nursery.
Keen walked to the easel and looked at the picture Ceril had been working so hard on, the screaming figures, the burning hab unit, the smiling face mouthing the word “kill.” She narrowed her eyes and put her finger on the paper. It was warm, wet, and there was a smell she couldn’t give a name to.
“Just need some air...”

July 30, 2013

Colony Darkling - 01-03

Part 3
“Mom, there’s nothing to do here!” Charlotte whined.
“There’s plenty that needs doing, you just don’t want to do it,” Debra casually threw a shirt at her daughter. “Now fold that and stop complaining.”
Charlotte’s whine became a grumble that her mother tried to ignore. If truth be told Debra agreed with her daughter and part of her regretted supporting Vic by taking the family to the stars for his job. She missed the nightlife of London as much as her daughter missed “sophisticated” girls her own age but dreams required credits and credits were to be found helping colonials. Vic was able to sell his skills as an atmosphere processor installer and Debra could tag along teaching provincial brats the ABCs.
Rationality and “realism” didn’t make the tedium any easier to bare, nor did it really make it less painful to hear the same dozen dramas from the same dozen people day in and day out.
“Mom, seriously, stop trying to distract me with meaningless chores, it’s infantile.”
Not for the first time Debra debated the wisdom of allowing her daughter unrestricted access to the colony’s feed. Her daughter was 14 going on 20 and thanks to “college level” interactives she had spliced several patronizing vocabulary words into her rebellious teenage tirades. Debra took a deep breath and locked eyes with her eldest child.
“You will not take that tone with me. In fact, I should turn off your net privileges for the next month, unless that’s also ‘infantile’ or ‘overly punitive’ in your oh so la de da opinion. You know, I think I’ll stop distracting you with ‘menial labor’ and send you to the nursery.” Debra could hear her daughter’s eye roll.
“But mom...”
“Shut it, go and get your brother or I’ll do more than just ‘engage in provocative posturing’ do I make myself clear?”
Charlotte gave an angry huff and stormed through the hab unit’s pressure door. Debra’s nerves were frayed thanks to the isolation, her daughter’s response to it, and Vic’s headaches. He had been coming home after each shift more and more irritable, complaining about the pounding in his skull. The doc said he was probably just reacting to the stress of his job and the nanorad boosters they had him on. Vic had been drifting away from the man she married in that cold chapel years ago and towards something else altogether.
With a sigh Debra finished her folding and moved to the kitchen alcove to start dinner. Mr. Bertrand would be arriving in a few hours and she wanted to make a good impression on the aging superintendent, after all, a positive report from him would easily translate to a hefty bonus for Vic and a shorter time in the colonies.
Debra massaged her temples as the alcove moved through a food prep cycle. Her head was throbbing but she consoled herself with the thought that it was to be expected of anyone trying to keep a daughter like hers in check.

On to Part 4!

February 6, 2013

Colony Darkling - 01-02

Part 2
He shook his head for the hundredth time trying to clear the dizziness that had been plaguing him through his shift. The haze at the edges of his vision pulled back slightly but he could still feel a pressure in his skull as halos shimmered into existence around the blinking lights in his Suit HUD. The colony doctor had told him to take some pills and rest, it was only migraines she said, nothing serious.
Well he couldn’t exactly “rest” since he was the only one qualified to properly install the atmospheric scrubbers. 320 men, women, and children had dropped on the harsh surface of Carmon-4, 300 desperate people and 20 professionals hired on so the colony wouldn’t die in the first month. Of the “Pros” there had been three atmosphere specialists and the other two turned out to be a wife beating drunkard who couldn’t be bothered to actually show up for a shift and a fraud who couldn’t be trusted to turn a bolt the right way without a tutorial overlay.
Not for the first time that week Victor questioned the wisdom of answering that Terra Ferma contractor’s ad but in the end it was the fastest way for him and his family to get enough credits to secure their future.
Eventually, once the scrubbers were installed and the domes sealed, he’d get some of the colonials trained in maintaining the equipment. It was designed to be relatively simple to keep running but it was a real pain to set up. Rumor had it, at least in the Pro circuit, that there was an arrangement between Terra Nova and the trained monkeys who built the things to keep them complicated so that Pros would always be needed to install them.
He shook his head again as a wave of vertigo jolted him back to the open panel in front of him.
“S...Status...” he panted to the receiver in his helmet.
His HUD, reading the position of his eyes, drew into sharper focus and scrolled his vitals. In the center of the display was a large pulsing yellow radiation symbol, a constant companion to everyone working outside the relative shelter of the colony center. Victor had dosed himself with nano-rad before going out, standard protocol, and he thought he should still be fine for another few hours before needing to come in for a booster. He was fuzzy on the details of the little bots that swam through his bloodstream but he knew they somehow cleared his body of radiation as long as they were boosted. Everyone who worked outside the shelter had to take nano-rad if they liked the idea of their insides staying inside and not sloughing their intestines into a recycler during a morning constitutional.
“Stim...single,” he said as he moved his mouth to a small tube coming up around his right cheek. He sucked at the liquid that dripped from the tube, a personal cocktail of wake up juice and painkillers. The doc had grudgingly approved the mix but threw in the customary “the longer you do these the more likely your heart will explode” lecture.
“What the hell is wrong out there Vic?” a bead in his left ear pulsed with a woman’s voice.
“Nothing much, just my skull imploding again Sal, ya know, a Tuesday,” he tried to inject a chuckle with his final word but it came out more as a pant.
“Well suck it up buttercup. My board says you’ve been staring at the panel on Scrubber 3 for the better part of an hour...”
“An hour?” Victor moved his eyes through the HUD again and blinked a few times, trying to get the shimmery aura away from the clock display. “You sure? My readout says no more than five...” Victor watched the numbers melt and felt a cold shiver go up his spine as five minutes turned into an hour between blinks. “Ok, must be something wrong with my system. I’ll get the scrubber up and running ASAP and get back to base, get my equipment checked out.”
“Vic, don’t make me regret letting you back out there ok? You screw this up and we’ll have ‘you know who’ breathing ‘you know what’ and good luck getting any kind of work after that,” Sal clicked off the com and Vic was back to his own thoughts.
He’d never lost time before, never seen his HUD lie to him, but he convinced himself it was nothing. The stim shot was starting to work and things were getting clearer, though the pain in his skull remained as a dull reminder. He thought of his wife and kids back in their own corner of the central hab, waiting for dad to get home after a long day making the world breathable. They were expecting a dinner guest that evening, Vic had to stay awake and functional if he hoped to impress the superintendent and get a much needed bonus.

On to Part 3!

Colony Darkling - 01-01

Part 1
The world was a mottled brown and white ball, the planetary terminator a slow curtain moving over rock and haze. Captain Grant twitched his finger and glanced at the cloud of data scrolling across his lower left visual field, bringing the ship’s survey report into focus. Carmon-4 was about the same mass as Earth with a thick atmosphere, low in oxygen and high in other gasses. The planners had claimed that an unprotected man could even breathe the stuff for a minute or two before his lungs fatally hemorrhaged.
Grant didn’t envy the colonists nestled in the Insertion Pods clinging to his ship. Passengers on his runs were always the most desperate souls humanity still held, people looking for damn near any option, even something as dicey as first contact colonization, if it meant they could escape the hell that Earth had become.
It was clear from the outset, when they had been granted settlement rights by Terra Ferma, that building a colony on Carmon-4 would take some doing. Bad air, high radiation, probably hostile life forms, and no guarantee that any ground the colonists tried to use would even grow anything. However, again thanks to the planners, the podders would be packed with enough food, equipment, and hired Professionals to at least establish the first domes and start generating breathable atmosphere by the time he returned. Depending on how the Wellness Check went Grant was 50/50 that Carmon-4 would join the long line of colonies that were making up what the Newsfeeds were calling “The Great Human Diaspora.”
Grant gestured and the survey data was replaced with hovering windows showing external cameras, telemetry, and live feeds from inside the three Insertion Pods.
“How’s the window looking?” he asked the bridge
“All teams report nominal,” said a calm voice to his left. “We should be in geosync in a few minutes. Reading heavy rad belts around this bastard but our shielding should be enough if we don’t overstay our welcome.”
“Enough to fry the cargo?”
“Hard to say for sure but I think they should fall through with minimal exposure unless something goes wrong. Might be some burns and some long term complications, but that’s why most of them sprung for the injections right?”
“Christ,” Grant moved a finger again and looked deep into the data floating in front of his eyes. “Who picked this landing site anyway? Whatever, get the timing as close as you can and let’s try to make sure none of their kids have three arms.”
There was a little laughter around the bridge but soon enough Grant’s displays read green and ready. He flipped on the shipwide and cleared his throat.
“Good morning folks, I hope you’ve all enjoyed a more or less pleasant ride so far, we’ve arrived at Carmon and Colony Insertion Carmon-4-1 through 4-3 will commence shortly. Please follow the safety instructions that will be playing for you after this announcement or risk serious injury and possible death. Terra Firma takes no responsibility for any physical or mental trauma, nor loss of life, that may result from not following required safety procedures.
“The weather looks clear and your landing site is free of obstruction. Please maintain environment suit protocols and listen to your Professionals, THEY WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE, as the air down there will be actively trying to kill you.
“In any case, Terra Ferma wishes you luck, and I personally hope to hear that you are living the life you dreamed of by the time we come back for the Wellness Check.
“Drop will trigger in...” Grant looked at a window counting down, “ten minutes starting from my mark in 3...2...1...mark.” Grant blinked and a counter appeared on every monitor the ship had.
He cut shipwide, “and may God have mercy on your souls...”

On to Part 2!

February 5, 2013

Statement of Purpose

Welcome and Salutations!

This blog is designed to give me an outlet for my creative energies. I intend to include stories and any other floating bits of random creativity that tumble through my brain. I fully expect things to be pretty raw at first as I find my feet, but hopefully this can force me to get stuff out of my brain and onto a screen.

Planned Projects:
  • Colony Darkling - Horror story set in the Ordo Humanus setting.
  • Ordo Travelogue - A series of articles featuring locations and peoples found within, and without, Human Space.
  • The Game Mechanic - Work ups for new mechanics for various games.