The Continuing Saga of Zip Harrington, Asteroid Ornament

After padding along a near-silent and empty hall for what seemed a lifetime, Zip finally came upon an opening in the featureless wall. He peered in and pulled his head back out quickly so it couldn’t be used for some sort of alien target practice. When no shots came, he peered in again.

A table was set, and behind it sat an old man, who looked back at Zip with a steady gaze.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

Zip looked carefully at the rest of the room to ensure there were no others waiting with weapons.

“You have my word, you will not be harmed.”

Zip took a cautious step in and was surprised to find the floor warm. He looked at the floor quickly and then back up at the old man. “What kind of game is this?”

“No games. We simply do not see the point in warming spaces that we do not linger in.”

Zip, space mercenary, afraid of no one, took a hesitant step inside the room.

“Come and eat, you must be hungry,” the old man gestured to the tabletop.

Zip studied his companion before sitting down. There was no way to guess at his age, his skin looked more like aged leather than flesh. His skull was longer than any human Zip had ever met, but he had eyes the shade of blue many women back on Earth would have killed for. He wore robes swirled with many colours, shot through with silver threads reminiscent of nebulas.

“I have given you my word that you will not be harmed,” the stranger gestured to the seat across from him. “That includes the food. You will find it surpasses anything you had back on Earth.”

“Yeah, you’ve given me your word, alright, but I don’t know who you are, so I don’t know that your word means much, do I?” Zip said while approaching the table.

 

“I am called D’Rar, of the Merudue. This is my ship and my crew. My word means a great deal among my people,” D’Rar lifted the cover off one of the dishes in front of him and the smell of meatloaf wafted up to make Zip’s stomach growl again.

“Humans bodies make strange noises when they have not taken sustenance for some time,” D’Rar observed. “Perhaps you should silence it before it turns on you.”

Zip chuckled, in spite of himself.

D’Rar took all the covers off the dishes spread out on the table, revealing all of Zip’s favorites from home. “We have gone to great lengths to ensure you would enjoy these. Please do not waste those efforts.”

“Fine…” Zip sat across from his host, picked up a scoop-shaped instrument and took a tentative taste of the dish in front of him. It was indeed meatloaf, and it was wonderful.

Zip dug into the dish with no further hesitation, speaking before he’d swallowed. “This is great, but why go through all this, just for me? I was almost dead.”

“We have saved you so that you might do a small favor for us.”

“Yeah? What’s that?” Zip asked as he eyed something that looked like creamed corn.

 

“We wish to hire you to remove the K’erini.”

“Who’s that, another captain that opposed you or something?” Zip asked as he took a bite of sweet watermelon.

“The K’erini have been my people’s enemies for generations. They steal our young, destroy our outposts, murder us in our sleep if they can find us…we wish them…eliminated.”

“Wait,” Zip held up a hand and swallowed his mouthful of food. “You want me to kill an enemy race that is capable of destroying whole outposts?”

“That is correct.” D’Rar replied with a beatific smile.

To be continued!

Comments are always welcome!

Advertisements

Zip Harrington, Space Mercenary-Part 3

Zip stirred and promptly wished he’d died instead.

His head pounded with the force of twenty-five dancing rhinos. No hangover he’d ever suffered through had split his skull quite like this. He stilled as a thought came, painfully, to him.

Wait…I’m not dead? There’s a metal floor under me, where am I?

Slowly, Zip cracked one eye open and surveyed what he could see without sitting up. He was slumped in an uncomfortable position on a light grey, metal floor. He could feel a vibration running through the floor.

Okay, I’m in a ship. But not mine. The floor is wrong.

The light wasn’t harsh, so he eased his other eye open. He was in an empty room, illuminated by a source he couldn’t see. The walls seemed to curve organically from the floor, as did the ceiling above him, and all of it was the same metal. He should have been cold, between all the metallic surfaces and the blue-tinged light, but he was surprised to be warm.

He patted his body, intending to take excess clothes off, but found himself no longer in his own clothes. They had been removed somehow and replaced by grey pants and a grey tunic-style shirt.  He was barefoot.

“Hello? Is anyone listening?” He called out cautiously.

 

There was no answer.

 

Zip waited a moment before repeating himself. “Is anyone there?”

HIs stomach growled, loud in the empty metallic room.

 

A panel slid open with a whisper, and Zip could see a hallway beyond.

 

He stood slowly, mindful of the rhinos still dancing on his skull. At the door, he looked both ways, wondering which direction held food.

 

A blue line lit up a stripe in the floor, leading off to the right.

Zip looked around once more. No space mercenary lived to see old age by letting his guard down. Muscle memory taking over, his right hand went to his hip. But his weapon wasn’t there. He scowled. If his head didn’t hurt so much, he’d be pissed off. He had invested time and credits in that hand-laser, and he wanted it back.

His stomach growled again, and the line in the floor pulsed, as if to hurry him along.

“Damn it, this better not be an ambush,” he muttered as he padded silently down the hall.

 

To be continued!

Zip Harrington, Asteroid Ornament

Zip knew his oxygen wouldn’t last forever, so when he felt himself growing lightheaded, he figured his nefarious career had come to an end. He couldn’t even sigh in resignation. He felt logic and conscious thought slipping away, like that old Earth desert jello used to slip through his fingers as a child.

His view of space grew blurry, even as the damned asteroid continued to plummet through the stars and space dust. He coughed once, a desperate and involuntary plea from his lungs for more oxygen. When none came, his eyelids simply slid closed.

As Zip’s eyes closed, the space rock that was his killer, slowed and finally stopped. A long arm tipped with a pincher separated itself from the surface, inched toward Zip, and pulled him off like a bird trapped on the grill of a tractor trailer.
Had he been conscious, he would have found the similarity hilarious.

The long arm pulled him back toward the bulk of rock, where an airlock opened. The pincher dropped him in, the airlock closed and the arm receded.
Then the rock that wasn’t, promptly changed course.

Taking Zip Harrington, Space Mercenary, with it.

To be continued!

Zip Harrington, Space Mercenary

Just a little bit of short fiction, inspired by a word prompt over at The Daily Post. Enjoy!

 

The asteroid wasn’t large, but it was on a deadly trajectory. Headed straight for him and there was bugger all he could do about it. There was nothing to push off from, nothing to give him the thrust he needed to get out of the asteroid’s way.

He waited to see his life flash before his eyes like everyone said would likely happen.

It didn’t.

Nothing changed.

Space continued to move around him. The asteroid carried on its merry way, seemingly determined to take him out.

Zip Harrington was a little disappointed.

He could hear his father now – accusing him of not even being capable of dying correctly.

Zip could only watch as the asteroid got a little larger with each second that passed.

Just before impact, he screwed his eyes shut, an involuntary reaction. He felt the asteroid body-slam him and his eyes flew open in time to watch his hoses and safety tether snap off the outside of his ship.

The ship he’d been repairing.

Alone.

 

No one knew he was out here, no one to care that his ship had been crippled by a cascade wave of malfunctions. No one knew he would have died in a matter of weeks.

And now he would die in hours, a bug pinned by momentum to the leading surface of an asteroid no bigger than a Volkswagen, hurtling through space.

With a screaming space pirate unable to pry himself off, with nowhere to go.

And nothing to do but watch space speed by his visor.

And wonder what came next.

Zip
 

If you enjoyed this bit of short fiction, please feel free to leave a comment!

Feeding Martians & Earthlings Alike

mars

So it turns out that The Martian might have been onto something all along. Yes, the movie with Matt Damon.

Scientists have now proven that not only can potatoes be grown on Mars, which could be of enormous value when we colonize the red planet. Not only will our first generation of Martians benefit from this research, but so might the hundreds of thousands of Earthinglings suffering from chronic malnutrition and starvation.

No, it won’t solve all our food-related woes, but it’s a step.

Read the article here on Futurism

Universe, Star System or Galaxy?

universe1

 

In my ‘Infinite Worlds’ series, (which starts with ‘If It’s Easy’) a previously unknown planet is discovered in an alternate universe. The scientists who discover this world call it Terra Geminus. Without giving too much away, the initial expedition finds the planet is not only colonized but already named New Olympus! Confusing? Not really. It’s common for one group of people to call a landmark one thing, and another group refer to that same landmark by a completely different name.

I knew sooner or later, I’d have to decide where in the skies my imagined planet of Terra Geminus resided. I already knew the planet would not be in our skies…but where? Did I focus on its immediate galaxy? Was it in a solar system?

Before I drove myself even further nutty, I knew it was time to buckle down and learn the differences before I made a mistake there was no coming back from. So, here’s what I learned.

A star system is a large number of stars and accompanying bodies with a perceptible structure. (Sounds a lot like a galaxy to me)

Our solar system is a collection of eight planets and their moons, comets, asteroids, gases and star dust in orbit around the sun.

A galaxy is a system of millions of stars, gas and dust, all held together by gravitational forces.

A universe is all existing matter and space as a whole containing vast, uncountable numbers of galaxies.

So then my question changed. Did I want to focus on only the planet or the larger galaxy it belonged to?

My overall plan is to tell the stories of other characters on other worlds, all of whom will be in the same galaxy, and will all have some degree of interconnectedness.

(Think of knots in a web. Connected, but still on different points within the web)

I knew then, that I had to name the galaxy as well.

Just as Earth is but one body in our Milky Way galaxy, so too will Terra Geminus/New Olympus be just one planet of many in the Claudisius galaxy. There are other worlds, stars, comets and gas balls in the Claudisius galaxy of course. There are scientists, dreamers, cartographers, xenobiologists and explorers as well, all roaming about and having adventures.

If it’s Easy’ introduces us to two of those explorers, and ‘Infinite Worlds’ shares more of their story with us, and allows us to go with them on the adventure of a lifetime as they race to save an expedition to Terra Geminus. Like our own lives, small grains on a large planet, in a larger galaxy in a vast universe.

After all, we can’t possibly be the only life among the stars.

Here’s A Question For You…

mars

Question time, my lovely reader!

Can you name any science fiction, fantasy or speculative fiction books that have

  • indigenous/Native/First People as leaders of a culture/planet/world
  • queer/LGBT/trans/gender-fluid cultures portrayed as commonplace
  • disabled folks (visible or otherwise) as world leaders

 

If you know of any, shout out in the comments below and expand our reading horizons!

 

Next time, a review of Fletcher DeLancey’s fourth book in her brilliant ‘Caphenon’ series!