Saturday, December 9, 2017

First half of Alternate Universe tale by me

This is my first alternate universe tale. Or half of it that is. I wrote this originally over six years ago, I could easily see what needed work, even though I went over kinda of quick. It was 4600 and some words long and that was before I started to revise it. Now it is 4,995 words. It will be over 5,000 by the time I finish. And that is with deleting some parts. This part is 2,282 words.

Enjoy:

The Gathering

Samuel G. Longrian waited. He knew they would make an appearance just like he had known that the process would work this time. That trip though had been wild. He still felt a bit dizzy. Which wasn’t the fault of his ship-the thirty meter long twenty meter wide Future. The energy convertors and extra shielding: radiation, electronic, stealth-he had those turned off now though-and heat and cold, all functioned well. He didn’t know if he would need all of that but to test his new process drive powered by tachyon radiation he thought it would be best. So now he waited. His cushioned seat, silk fused with leather, and air temp were set for his maximine comfort while he waited. The air tasted just right too. He had learned that something bad in the air would change its flavor, the hard way. For a second he thought he had smelled too many man scents during the trip but now his command center had a good smell.
The command center contained three other seats, but he didn’t need a crew or passengers for this trip.
His command center-like a big cockpit in a huge air transport-styled plain with the only colors were black, silver, and dark gray-had arrived here in one piece with every device functioning correctly at 110 percent.
The sensors beeped for his ship sat inside a large empty pocket near the side of an area full of asteriods and other space debris. The experts thought an exceptionally large comet had collided with an ice planet. One or the other had a change of orbit possibly because of a mini black hole passing though, a war, a very slight time shift, or nothing at all.
He had known there would be such a clear area, before he arrived, so it hadn’t taken long to find it. Samuel made the test with his sensors on max, just to make sure that he really was the first to arrive. He had been.
Some of the asteroids that made up this belt were as big as large houses, while others were barely the size of a medicine
ball. Opposite where his ship was resting, there was an opening, just large enough for a small space craft to easily fly though. He had flown though it, so knew it how easy maneuvering through it, would be for the others.
Samuel had been waiting for twenty-four hours already, and was surprised no one had shown up yet. He still had no doubt they would be there. Not all, of course, for some would have experiences circumstances that interfered with them being able to come here. Some would be dead, that made him think. How many times had he almost died. More than he wanted to conterplate
A few hours later, after he made a trip to his little ship's head, he made himself some Chinese green tea. As he poured the tea leaves into the hot water, he wondered if the others would like green tea as much as he did. Probably, but it wouldn't be that big of a deal if they didn't, he decided. He would be finding out soon enough anyway. He quickly ascended back into his ship’s observation cabin.
On most ships it would be called an observation deck, but because his ship was so small, he always referred to it as a cabin. He sat in his favorite of the four seats in the cabin. It was a comfortable padded lounge chair, that was in the right spot for him to see space, free of any obstacles. Five steps behind the chair there was a circular door in the floor, which led to the control room. He always left it open so he could hear any beeps the computer might make. He could jump though it and immediately be in the control room, if something did happen.
Not many vessels, as small, as his had observation cabins and that was one reason he had chosen this vessel. One of the other reasons would be evident if any of the others gave him any trouble.
He had just taken a couple of sips of the tea when his sensor array beeped. Something was coming. After glancing at the small repeater screen, near the chair he was relaxing in, he decided that he had time to enjoy some of his tea.
A few minutes later he observed another vessel make its way though the opening in the far wall. It was a vessel slightly larger than his with different lines, however he could see that it too had an observation blister.
His ship was very streamlined, looking very much like pictures he had seen of spy planes flown way back in the 1950s on Earth. The Future was thicker than those planes, with various blisters along each side. Some blisters protected sensor arrays while others hid weapons. One larger blister on top, toward the back, made up the top part of this cabin. This new vessel was less streamlined and more cubic looking.
“So”, he spoke out loud, a bad habit he let himself have, “the first one has arrived”.
After another thought he added, “The first one after me that is”.
Now he had to decide rather to contact the newcomer, or allow the person to contact him. It was possible that it was not one of the ones he was expecting. Someone else could have made the trip, but he just shrugged thinking that he would find out soon enough.
The other would know that he was there. The new ship's
sensors would be able to identify his ship easily. He took another sip of the tea rolling it around his tongue. He decided to let the other do the work. He glanced at his sensors again and it showed what he had expected, that the newcomer had no weapons online. He had been careful keeping his weapon systems on standby. They could be at full power in a second, or two though.
He watched the other ship stop in the center of the clear area. His sensor screen showed that the single occupant of the new ship first scanned the clear area, some of the surrounding asteroids and finally executed a deeper scan of Samuel's ship.
Seconds later his comm unit beeped the incoming message signal. He decide to jump down to his command room instead of
activating the observation cabin's comm screen. It would lower
from the ceiling and obscure most of the window he was now looking out of. That was one of the few things he didn't like about this ship.
He sat down the still half filled cup, stood than running to the hatch he leaped though it, landing easily, flexing his knees as his feet touched the floor. He quickly straighten up and took the three steps to the main comm unit. He activated it and, as the screen slide up out of its recess a picture formed on it. It showed the head and shoulders of a fairly young man with medium length reddish hair, bright green eyes. He looked to be in his 30s, 38 to be exact, Samuel knew. Even though the image on the screen had longer hair than he expected, it was one of the people he had been expecting.
He said in a deep voice with proud ring in it , "Greetings. I am Samuel G. Longrian."
The other responded with a hello, and by saying his name.
Samuel said, "I've been expecting you."
"I am, on the other hand, fairly surprised to see you."

Samuel sat down in his captain's chair and said, "After some thought I concluded that I wouldn't be the only one to learn of the process, and be willing to test it."
"Now that you mention it, it's obvious." The other said with a smile.
They chatted for a long period of time, describing their lives plus getting into the history and modern affairs of both their worlds. During their talk more ships joined them. Some came though the short channel and others came though the narrow wall of asteroids that made up the edge of the belt.
Soon the clear area was full of one man ships. Many were carbon copies of Samuel's ship, while three were copies of the second arrival's ship.
Of the ship's similar to his, most were black, even though two of those had red trim. One copy was bright red and three had been painted white. One of the white ones had red trim while one had black trim. The third was solid white.
The smallest of the ships arrived almost last. This ship was the only one with just a passenger compartment, to Samuel it looked to be some type of runabout: long, narrow, with two drive pods next to the hull and what might be a shark’s fin on top. It was purple, blue, green with chartuse trim of all colors That ship came through a side wall, thick with larger asteroids, and stayed to one side, instead of mixing it up with the other vessels.
The second to the last ship to arrive zipped though the opening at breakneck speed. Its pilot almost scraped two ships sitting near the opening. Finally it executed a maneuver that could only be called screeching to a stop. Even before this new ship had come to a complete stop, its occupant had sent a signal, interrupting all of the other comm signals being used.
His image showed a man with long flowing hair, a muscular figure except for the start of a beer belly, he wore a black turtleneck with slacks. he said, "I am here, let the party begin."
Samuel noticed that even though this brash new comer looked to have the same build as most of the others, some were a little heavier while some were a little scrawnier, he seemed to take up more room. It was as if he had a large body to go with his loud voice. His green eyes were intense while having a humorous twinkle to them. He dressed in an older, to Samuel, casual-dress style. The majority of the others were dressed in a casual-formal style. Samuel's clothes were one step up from them. Some of those gathered wore ship jumpsuits. One man dressed in bright colors of a form of robe.
Some of those present ignored the newcomer going back to their conversations. Others greeted him like a long lost brother.
Samuel, along with everyone else in the gathering, talked for many hours, after taking his leave of the first man. Some shared computer files: with songs, books, histories etc, while others just chatted. Finally, after most of those talking considered it to be late night, the conversations ended for the day. Many went to bed, while others stayed up even later. The noisy one invited some over to his ship where they partied far into the "night". 
 The next morning, ship time, Samuel G. Longrian woke and had a leisurely breakfast. Afterwards he commed a few of those present, he hadn’t had the time to talk to the previous evening. Hours later he realized that he had talked to most of those present. He had declined invitations to come over with various excuses and made more excuses when two of the more brash ones wanted to visit him.
He had, as most had, exchanged adventure tales, while asking questions about the other person's background. Samuel asked some questions a few had thought strange.
He looked at his computer's screen and decided that he needed to talk to just two, or three more than he could go home. He was uncharacteristically a little nervous about the return trip. The process had worked once to transport him here, as it had worked in tests, therefore it should function correctly to send him back home. Should was the operative word though. In his life he had found many things that should work didn't. There was always the possibility that it would not work at all, or that it would send him someplace else. The process had been steady and reliable in the many tests, but a part could short or disappear on him. That had happen twice during his first tests. He had learned that most of the others had the same test results. Except for three he had talked to. One had gone through the tests like they were not really needed, another had better success so hadn’t needed the same number of tests. Samuel thought about talking to him more but he seemed even more intellecual then Samuel which was sating a lot. He mentally shrugged there was always a chance of harm in most things humans do, even in ordinary travel.
His musings were interrupted by his comm unit beeping. Someone else wanted to talk to him. Which was fine with him. That is it was fine, until he keyed his unit to receive. A picture of the person comming him instantly appeared.
The one comming him was dressed in the same tasteful clothes as Samuel was and had his hair in the same style. Samuel eyed the other warily, pressing a button that traced the comm signal back to its source. He wasn't surprised that it led back to a vessel very similar to his. It was one of the black ones and had exactly the same power readings as his vessel.
The other smiled warmly, which did not reassure Longrian, and said, "Hello, brother traveler. Is this what you expected?"
Samuel said, "Yes and more. This is wild.”

end part one

Saturday, December 2, 2017

excerpt from 2017 NaNoWriMo

An excerpt of this years NaNoWriMo novel. This is from story one. It's science fiction and takes place in the far future.

To find out more on nano go to nanowrimo.org

 A couple of years a go I discovered in NaNo's rules that we can do short stories with two stipulations: have to go together and they all equal at least 50,000 words. So this year I did The Adventures of Lance J. Starhammer five stories that equal 54,600 and some words. Someone has cursed him to live in interesting times and he has to find out who and stop them.

Lance is a Jack of All Trades who do many things for money, usually loners they can con, rob, smuggle, race, do unusual jobs. Some are little better than pirates but others have some scruples and will only go so far. Lance has run blockades to get food to people, and conned dishonest politicians among many other Jobs. 

I will be publishing the Lance Starhammer stories which is why I am changing the NaNo ending by adding to it. I didn’t have time to do the ending I wanted so I am doing it now. And I will also be adding a couple of little things here and there. I thought of two things while writing the last story that I need to add earlier. I hope to have it out in Jan or Feb. Three of the stories have been revised and I don't plan on adding to it beyond what I have stated.

In story one, Lance is transporting five very large creatures for a certain company using one of their ships. Someone has been releasing them. Lance and a Nancy works for the company full time has been trying to figure out who let out the first one. Then this happens.

Enjoy:

Lance hit the intercom button, spoke, “Potential escape of Number Three, bring the sedative for it and the correct way to administrate it. Now!”
He thought of saying, “This is no drill”, but they hadn’t had that many drills, and he thought they should be able to figure that out with what they got paid. And with two men missing, dead, those six would earn their pay if that creature got out.
Nancy said, “What did you see?”
“I don’t know but something is not as it should be, I trust my instincts.”
He had called for the emergency response without thinking. He wasn’t even sure what he had seen. A flicker much faster than last time?
At another thought he hit the intercom button again, “Watch out, it could smoother you. Check out the bulkheads and ceiling outside the cage and inside. It likes to climb.”
In his mind he could see Jorge whispering that he knew that, while Tony would agree.
Lance decided he better go see what was happening but he told Nancy, who still seemed to want to go with him, to drive the tram. This way he could rewatch the door scenes and maybe see what had hit his subconscious.
He thought there was a very slight flicker but it hit him just before Nancy stopped the tram and said, there were there: the door looked the same in both recordings. It shouldn’t if the second recording had been taken from another angle. Shadows and blemishes should look different.
By the time they arrived, gotten out of the tram and walked the rest of the way to where the cages were, the creature, a giant being that looked like a half formed curving of an insect, It even creaked like stone when it moved, had been shooed back into its cage. Not the one he thought had escaped but it had been out. His men were having problems getting the door down and shut.
Lance was glad this worked out easy for the insect statue liked to walk up walls, but they had gotten it back in while it was still on the deck. Easier than he thought it might be. In its native habitat it walked on huge trees where it laid eggs and ate of the bark and leaves of that tree. It did eat other plants, and even some smaller insect type creatures that didn’t get out of the leaves it was eating, but it didn’t hunt or otherwise search for meat of any type.
A moment later though he looked at the door again,
He raised his voice, “Wait guys.”
They looked at him, he said, “Wrong cell.”
Tony said, “What? It was the one that was open.”
Lance shook his head, “I recognized the type of door it had. And checked the older recordings. Its cell is the one to the right of it.”
They looked at the doors in confusion.
Tony turned back to him and said, “Which creature was in that one?”
“The long, skinny blob, looks almost like a short, thick transparent snake.”
“And it likes to climb too.”
At just the right moment with what he said, a shadow moved on the deck near his feet. Again Lance grabbed Nancy and took off running toward the other bulkhead. Something wet sounding and large made a plop behind him.
Yeah, they like to climb walls but don’t always do a good job of it. I was right they can smoother you though if they land on you.
Nancy screamed this time. Maybe it had to do with the smell of the thing: unusual crap, dried mud, decay all mixed together, with how close it was.
Lance said, “Don’t worry, they don’t hunt meat or people. They are careless though. They don’t care you are there or are not intelligent enough to understand about getting out of the way of others.”
One of the other workers said, “How do we get the insect out this one’s cage?”
Lance said, “Take leaves from its cage and lay a trail to its cage,” as he ran toward them.
At least they had some form of stuff to knock this one out. Five of the men went to get the leaves. Very large with a rounded end and a stick at the other end that you did not want to touch. It was covered with tiny thorns and hooks. Not deadly even with its size but they still hurt.
What to do with the snake blob though? Even knocking it out was not the answer unless it was inside the cage.
His feet hit the deck hard this time, of course this part of the ship was reenforced with armor. Which made it harder when he hit it with any part of his body. He arrived where the one man was, Jaried, he thought. He wore a tank on his back which had a hose that led to a strange smaller rifle in Jaried’s hands. Next instant Lance identified the weapon. Not a gun but a spray nozzle set to spray out what was in that small tank. Another tank, hose, sprayer lay next to Jaried. Its user would be with those with the leaves.
At that moment two came around a corner. They each carried six of the leaves. Each one reached from the man’s fingertips to way past the man’s elbow and were wide enough to carry with both hands, like some type of huge meat platter shaped like a leaf. They were brown and reddish with a bit of what looked like blue throughout each one.
They left two in the doorway then placed one every couple of feet until the path led into the insect’s cage. A dozen had been placed inside on the deck.
Lance hoped they got it in and the door closed because it stunk in there. He decided to check on how often it had been cleaned out. Or for that matter if it needed to be. A very likely possibly existed that their natural den stunk that badly.
He wished for some gum to clean out his mouth. And by the look on her face Nancy had the same idea. The team didn’t seem to be bothered all that much. Maybe they were used to it, or stinks didn’t bother them that much. That might be one reason they were hired.
It took ten minutes to get the statue insect back in its own cage. Maybe that is why they had to force it into the other one. It knew it was not the correct den. This door closed as easily as it should.
Good something worked.
Now to get the long blob back into its place. At least that cage didn’t smell as bad. All of the stink had been absorbed by the creature, he thought. Even though it didn’t smell as bad as the insect’s cage or other stinks Lance had smelled over the years.
It had climbed the bulkheads and fell five times that he counted, while they had worked on getting the other one in its cage. How do you get this one in its cage?
First though…
“Let’s get the door to close.”
Tony tried it and this time it came down as it should.
Each of the team stared at it.
Lance said, “Maybe you pressed the button for the other door on your tablet when you thought this cage was the insect’s. This one didn’t close because you pressed the one already closed.”
Two of the team nodded as if that made sense. They tried the food trail again, once they figured out what this one wanted. But it didn’t seem interested. Full maybe? It didn’t like to eat outside its den? It didn’t really eat but undulates over the food to absorb it which is why it always had that decay smell.
Maybe they should use slight shocks. They had electric stun weapons on board. Start with the lowest setting and go up and have five of the men use them. They might use the crane deigned to carry huge beasts once it lay there out, even though it could harm this one. So could the shocks but they had to use something.
He ordered Tony to go get five stun weapons. The man looked at him for a moment but turned to leave. It shouldn’t take him long for there was a lounge with an emergency locker, which included these weapons, nearby. If not there was also a full armory two levels higher and over a section.
He looked at the other men and said, “Any ideas on how to get this fellow back in his home away from home without the electrical shocks?”
They all thought and they all shook their heads. It would be a good mark on his record f one of them could think of something, but there might not be another way.
One of the men said, “We tried food, we got out of the way, we yelled at it. Put hot sauce on the walls?”
 Lance said, “It might like it and it would take a whole lot of hot sauce.”
The man said, “Yeah, it would but I was kidding about that part.”
“I know, but I would try it anyway if I knew it could work.”
Lance waited for Tony to get back and thought some more. That much hot sauce would definitely smell up the whole passageway. It might even cover the stinks made by the open doors.
A new thought hit Lance. It is too perfect in here.
How about heat or cold. Would either chase it back into its den? He didn’t know. But more than likely one would. He rushed over to the master cage block menu, fed it his passwords when they were asked for. them
He found the correct menu. A movement caused him to look behind him. Tony stood there with the five shock weapons. His eyebrows went up, they looked like stub nosed small versions of the typical U-6 laser rifle. Someone didn’t have much of an imagination when it came to weapons.
“One moment, I am trying something else.”
Nancy was at another terminal, she sent a note to his that stated she was looking for the perfect weather for these snake-blobs.
He nodded, he would need that.
A moment later a new note formed. So that cold? Hmm.
He set the temperature level to cold enough for ice to form. He saw her stare at him with what might be confusion on her face. He looked up at her than her second note.
Damn, thrice used air filters.
He switched menus as quick as his fingers moved. There that second note had come from a different terminal. He resisted the urge to look up at where the closest camera was located. Someone had to be watching them and following their moves via computer probably via tablet.
A quick change again this time he waved his little finger over the spot for security protocols to begin.
He looked up suddenly said, “Damn, did that again what is with my little finger?”
A quick search through a list of tablets someone had hooked into the computer. There were seven in altogether. Almost like a miniature internet, he thought.
Two were needed, and used all the time, so he assumed it would not be them.
Another thought came to mind. If it turned out to be his, he would scream, hit his head on the monitor and punch someone hard, fast and continuous.
Lance found his but even though hooked in, it was on stand by which made him let out a breath of relief. A moment later he found two more. Looked closer at both. One watched movies his tablet held on the large screen set in that person’s cabin. He looked closer at it. No, no porn. He thought it would be porn and half afraid it would child porn or worse, but no just a regular movie. An old one in fact converted to this format.
He moved on to the next one. It had been disconnected but he was able to get a reading on it and send it to his tablet.
Nancy waved at him, got his attention. She pointed to his screen and made a writing motion with her hand. He got back to the temperature menu and saw that she had sent a note.
So heat would be better?
Not surprising.
Lance raised the air temperature.
Out load he said, “It's going to get very hot in here in a minute or so. Leave if you have to but it won’t last long,” he added to himself, “At least I hope so.”
Soon the air got hot, than hotter still. The creature bopped up and down and made a strong noise. Finally it moved toward its cell. Lance found the cell controls, made its cage cooler and blew air from it, like a strong breeze.
The snake-blob looked at the cage three times. Either it hated being in there, or it was just plain stubborn. He bet on the last and made it even hotter.
Sweat rolled down the back of his neck. Not so much under his arms though. The jumpsuits were heat and cold resistance. But his feet were out of them and now hot.
His own smell got worse, he licked his lips and came away with a salt flavor.
Two of the men took off their shirts, the creature looked uncomfortable.
Two other men moved closer to the snake-blob’s cage. He hoped it wasn’t too close for that might make the thing not want to go in. But then again it didn’t seem to notice people, or other animals or care if one was around.
A wet bounce made him look. It had fallen from its wall spot and bounced. That didn’t seem good. But it recovered and moved toward its cage. When it hit the cooler air coming from the opening, it moved faster. Within seconds it was inside. Evidently it could move fast when it wanted to. Someone hit the close button and the door came down.
Good, he got the right one.
Even before the door closed Lance had the temperature come down. He wanted to melt in relief but no time to relax. He grabbed one of the shock rifles and headed out the door. Soon he saw that Nancy had one and was with him. Tony wasn’t too far behind them. Back-up was good but did they know what they were letting themselves in for? No time to explain though.
He ran to a tram started it and gave it a heading and emergency speed, but didn’t get in. When Tony looked at him and the tram Lance shook his head. The little car took off like it would if someone drove it. Now if no one else saw it and tried to stop it.
He ran to the jefferies tube connection slipped in through a barely opened door. The elevator maintenance people used wasn’t connected to the main menu like the tram was. This elevator was basically only three feet wide, three deep with walls that ended at waist level. All three got in and up they went.
Once at the right floor it stopped and Lance got out, the others followed. Before they went through the hatch way he said, “This could be dangerous, I don’t know the motivation of the person who released the gagturid, I assume he did the other two to create confusion, but I don’t know. He might be crazy, he might be some form of animal rights terrorist, or someone who just likes to cause problems for other people. He may react calmly when I approach him, he may get violent, or sneaky and just pretend to cooperate. He may have helpers or he may not. Or a something set up already to trap or harm us.”
Tony said, “We get the picture. We know the danger already.”
Lance nodded and opened up the hatch out of the jefferies tube. No one was around. Lance wiped sweat off of his face. He had expected someone with a weapon.
When they went through the hatch Nancy said, “I was wondering how long you were going to talk us out of it.”
“I don’t want any harm to you on my conscious.”
“That’s nice, but we made up our own mind. But what about you?”
“I’ve been in violent situations before. And I am angry at this guy. He is responsible for the deaths of two men and of endangering this job.”
“Were you in the military?”
“I did a stint as a fighter pilot, found it wasn’t for me, but by violent I meant in fights with Crime bosses and other Jacks of all trades. Some are no better than pirates.”
She would know some of this already if she had read his files or talked about him. He let out more than he had wanted to but as he said he was angry.
A pause then, “Now we can have the rest of this discussion later, quiet from now until this is over.”
They both nodded. He was surprised by how well and fast Tony obeyed.
He set his shock rifle on the medium level, that way even a near miss could slow the man down. They walked on until they got to a certain door. He motioned the other two away from where the outside camera could not see them. He tapped the tiny square next to the number pad to alert the person or people inside that they had company.
To his surprise the door open. No one stood there. He peeked in and no one stood or sat, even close to the door.
He looked around the passageway just in case someone snuck up on him to harm him, or push him inside and lock the door. Belatedly he thought that of course Nancy and Tony were there to stop anyone or scream if someone showed up and surprised them.
He pulled out his tablet and speed checked where everyone was. According to the ship the person he wanted was in here. The sensors could be tricked of course so just as well go in and see. He walked in and found himself in a living room. His tablet had been set for detecting anyone close and would chime and buzz even with it in its holder.
No one hid behind the couch or in the closet. He walked to the bedroom and wondered if he would find a dead body but his tablet would detect one of those too.
He pushed open the door hard enough to slam into anyone on the other side but it just hit the wall. He went in with Nancy, Tony stayed on the other side.
The first mate sat at a computer desk. He turned suddenly and stared. “Oh, you’re here already.”
Lance said, “We made enough noise.”
“I was concentrating.”
He rolled the chair all the way around to face him. It took Lance two-seconds to see the hand gun The second mate held.


end excerpt

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nov 11 Veterans Day tale

Nov 11
To all who have served in the armed forces: Marines, army, navy, Air Force, Coast Guard I say Thanks and I appreciate your service. Most of you have served honorably over the years. My dad was a Seabee during WWII and served that way. I have never served though, but I know those who have go through much hardship and if you were in a war that makes it much tougher so I can still say Thank You. Only a small number of the population does or has which makes it something to Honor. This Story is 3,200 words long.

#veterans

So instead of another novel excerpt or Science Fiction story I will place one of two stories I have written that I think honor veterans. I put it up last year so some of you may have read it, but a few haven’t had the chance. I wrote it a few years ago and it has been updated a few times since. It is Science Fiction but that is a side point it is meant to honor Veterans and what they go through doing a time of war.


Enjoy:


The Logcutter

By L. E. Doggett



The condensed beam of light shot out. It took only an instant for it to cut through three two foot wide log. The roughly ten by ten clear area where he did his cutting was quiet as it should be. Trees started another five feet after that but something could wiggle its way here. The scent of burnt wood tickled Cal Jones’ nose. Burnt dirt also, for the laser cut into the soil under the wood. That’s why he set up a tripod so it would be aimed downward at all times.
The six inch long piece dropped with a dull thud. He would wait until it cooled to place it with the others. The air this morning showed that he better work faster to get his wood cut for the winter. Thanks to the insulation and building materials, it looked rough like rock, heating the prefab two bedroom green and grey house behind him didn’t take a lot of wood. However cold hamburgers and soup didn’t taste good. Cold cut sandwiches wouldn’t be bad, but not for all winter.
The ex-solider shook his head. He still didn’t like to use such a beautiful weapon to cut logs. If he didn't though he wouldn't have anything to warm his farm house, or cook his food with when winter started. Fall, what passed for fall on this planets, chilled the air. The wind picked up for a moment and blew dust, pollen and ash into the air. He spat, followed by a sneeze. It also blew it into his mouth and nose. He never did like the flavor of ash-it reminded him of all the times he had breathed it in, and tasted it, during the war.
Cal sighed, it would be better to use the laser against some of the dangerous, large animals that roamed this forest. They roamed further deeper however, and he didn’t really want to use it on them. He had used it on animals, but he tried to avoid them when possible.
The pile of lasered logs grew. His house had solar panels, but the sun didn’t shine for long in the winter months. If there was an emergency he could use his bicycle generator, even though that supplied only enough power for certain appliances: such as his radio and his TV, when he was in the mood for movies that is.
He liked pretty much any type of movie except for war movies. After five years of fighting a real one Cal didn’t feel ready to watch a make believe war. War movies reminded him too much of what he had done during the real war, and the friends he had lost. Cal’s nightmares were strong enough now, he didn't need anymore reminders.
He bent down to adjust the laser, moving its tripod, so it could cut another six inch slice off the log.
The laser and his boots were the only things Cal brought home from that Godforsaken war. He still felt surprise that the people who signed him out let him keep the rifle and the boots.
If I went crazy I could do a lot of harm with that rifle. The military hadn’t needed the number they had for peace though. My buddies decided to each keep something and after an argument I ended up agreeing. Evidently those that processed us also agreed. After I signed the release papers they turned their backs, literally, as I walked out of the processing center carrying both the laser and my boots in a sack that didn't hide their shape. They didn’t like the way the government just booted us out and at the same time they were grateful we had kept the Juggernaut at bay.
At least the money the government gave me was enough to buy two acres and a small house out here in the middle of nowhere. The house is well built, with good installation, and all the appliances are well made.
I bought these acres way out here, because I didn't want to be around people. I knew I needed to be alone to heal and at the same time I didn't want to be bothered by people. I felt like the hard work needed to farm in this half jungle was what the doctor ordered.
He shook his head, there's probably over two hundred of us out here on these two acre farms, and I know of two other communities with the same numbers. So many men, and a few women, with bad memories and feelings.
He sat down on the log tired. Maybe he should move to town. Teddy and John are coping in the city. They say it’s hard, but they both found the love of a good woman, which they said helped.
A scream interrupted his thoughts. A loud growl followed a second scream. The screams came from a human throat and the growl didn’t. He stopped to listen, all of his senses on alert.
He heard another scream, this one was joined by softer ones.
Oh oh, children, which probably means a family; one who came here to enjoy nature. It sounds like they are being attacked by a Gorillain-and they traveled in packs.
Without further thought, he unhooked his laser from the tripod and took off. From his battle experience he knew how far away the screams came from and what direction. As he ran through the tall grass he didn’t feel the knee high, whip like red seed stalks as he crashed through them. Before he knew his senses slid into war mood. His speed increased, the trees and anything else along his sides blew by in a blur. He caught a whiff of a dead animal, he normally won’t have notice, he could see better in the dark shade under the trees.
On the way he glanced at the power setting. A curse slipped out. He already knew the power level, but out of habit he double checked it. He should have recharged it instead of waiting until after he finished with the logs. On the run, he used his thumb to change the weapon’s setting to just below medium. That would make it harder to kill any of the beasts, but it wouldn’t be good if the charge ran out before he chased them away.
He hoped he didn’t have to kill them, but bile came up when he thought of the children in the animals’ claws. At least he didn’t have to worry about where he set his foot. His boots had survived the last two years of the war and three years of living here. It wouldn’t matter if he stepped on a sharp twig, a snake or a sting beetle.
It took him only seconds to enter the trees, even though he slowed a little he still ran almost full out, weaving in and out of the trees. The low branches he avoided for even the very thin ones felt as strong as battle steal when he ran into them. Which explained why he used the laser to cut the wood from these trees. They burned for a long time, but took for ever to saw through.
Seconds later he smelled the musk of the Grollians, very strong which meant they were upset. When he neared the clearing from where the screams and growls come from, he heard soft thuds, followed by growls of pain and anger. The air had warmed, sweat tickled his forehead, under his arms and back.
He thought that the noises sounded like the humans were trying to drive away the beasts by throwing rocks at them. Not a good idea, as they were about to learn, but at the same time there wasn't much else they could do.
He hurried through the last of the trees, instinctively moving with the wind blowing his way instead of toward the beasts. Without thinking he moved silently as he learned to do during the war.
Cal came upon the scene from one side. The Gorilians stood still on one side of the clearing, which gave him a sense of relief. No one had been killed yet. A glance on the other side made bile raise in his mouth. Five people stood there: a woman and man with three children of various ages. The two oldest were boys and the youngest looked like a five year old girl. Even from his postion Cal could see tears as they ran down her cheeks and hear her sobs. All three children stood behind the couple. Both adults were holding thick sticks, ready to swat the first beast to come near them. Both wore terrified expressions on their faces.
From the way they glanced at each other they more then likely knew their best efforts probably wouldn't slow down the animals. At the same time they looked determined to do something to protect their children. He thought he could smell their fear; it reminded him of the war. That stink always melded with his thoughts of the battles he had been in.
A breeze blew by him and carried their and the humans’s scent. He studied the animals for a moment. He knew them by sight and study, but it still amazed him that they looked so much like a cross between an earth gorilla and an earth bear. These like most of their kind, even the females, were seven feet tall. From his position he could make out females in this bunch. The females were not as board as the males, and Cal could easily make out where their six mummery glands would appear, as they filled with milk right after they gave birth. Their presence made this a family group.
He wondered why they were attacking the humans. They usually left humans alone, preferring larger prey. Maybe they couldn’t find their usually prey and thought the family would make a communal meal. Or maybe the family had come upon them and started screaming and throwing rocks. Whatever the reason, their standoff was about to end. One male moved toward the humans.
Without having to think about it, Cal leaned against a rough tree and raised his rifle to a firing position and pressed the trigger. A red beam shot out hitting the moving gorillian in the claw it was reaching toward the adults.
The beam could have been invisible, but the heads of military development thought it was better if soldiers could see the beam. That would help them not run into it on the battle field. They might have been right, he grudgingly admitted, for he had seen soldiers blunder into the laser beams, as bright as they were. If they couldn’t see the beams there would have been more accidents of that type.
The beast kept moving for two-seconds, as the beam burnt into its hand. It finally stopped and looked down at the claw, before letting out a howl of pain and rage. It pulled back the claw, but Cal managed to keep the laser on the hand with practiced ease. It finally burned all the way through the claw, as the beast screamed its fury. It turned from the family, glanced around, as it looked for the source of its pain.
Cal switched targets, firing at another one, hitting it in the chest. It humphed in surprise before it screamed in pain with a deep throated growl, as the needle of light started to burn into its chest. The gorillian moved out of the beam, before it could burn all the way through its chest. From the blood and time Cal thought it might have cut halfway through the torso, but it looked like it missed everything fatal.
A glance to his right told him that the first male he hit was headed his way. Moving with haste he backed into the trees. Without stopping he ran as quietly as possible against the wind. He came out of the trees closer to the band. This time he fired from the hip, another maneuver he had plenty of practice with. He hit another big male, keeping the beam on the creature long enough for it to burn all the way through its torso. Its yell lasted a long time and when it tried to move it fell. The wound didn't kill it immediately, but Cal thought it would eventually.
He moved again when the one he had just shot started to move his way, probably after catching his scent. On the run, he let the beam score along the back of another male, who was headed for the family. It didn't go deep enough to do much damage, but the beast turned from the family, now headed his way.
A glance told him that the family was edging toward the
trees. A wide fallen tree lay behind them, that would slow them down.
Cal made it to the other edge, turned, aimed and shot all in one movement. He hit one in the eye this time. He was able to keep it on it long enough to burn out the eye, but not long enough for the beam to reach its brain. The Gorillian whiplashed in pain, first moving its head up and back then falling to its knees.
Shaking his head, that wasn’t good, I wanted a fast kill.
A shadow interrupted his thought. He pivoted out of the way of a claw swiping at him, then dropped to the ground to avoid the other claw. Rolling out of the way he thought that's it for the lower setting. If my shots are fast and precise I should be able to score death shots before the power is used up.
Without even a glance he used his thumb to slide the setting to the second from the top. He rose up on one knee, raising the rifle up to an aiming position and fired, all in one movement. He hit one in its back. The beam cut in quickly, but the beast arched its back. The beam slide sideways burning a line across the back, but not staying in one place long enough to burn completely through. Keeping the beam on it Cal managed to finally hit its heart, destroying it in less then a second.
Beetles scattered from where it dropped and a large carrion eater crowed its thanks to Cal. Tasting sweat on his lips Cal turned to the one whose eye he had burnt out, it still rested on its knees, in an all too human position. He moved to it behind it. When it started to turned toward him, he fired one quick shot at the base of its head. He smelled something new and realized that it wasn’t just humans that sometimes emptied their bowels when they died.
His stomach felt like it wanted to empty his last meal, as he turned; that felt too much like an execution. He watched two during the war and someone told him that the other side had killed one of his friends that way. In this case it was putting an animal out of its misery, but it still didn't feel right.
As the gorillian fell, Cal ran to another position and fired
at still another one. Before the beam could kill that one, he leaned backwards as a claw came out of nowhere again. This time his rifle went flying across the clearing. He observed a hole in that claw, and knew this one was the first gorillian he had shot. Somehow he missed it’s smell when it snuck up on him.
His hands stinging Cal dropped to the ground to avoid another swing meant to take his head off. He was surprised, but glad when the soft dirt under the trees, hard dirt can be just like rock. With a soft grunt he rolled to his back, fear grew while at the same time he would not let the thing win. He positioned a knife he had managed to pull on the way down. It was what used to be called a Bowie knife; long, thick and very sharp. He cursed himself for leaving his hand weapon back at the house. It may not be a military grade weapon, but it could still kill this Gorillian before it got him. A bullet in the chest, neck and head would do the job. But he didn't have it on him.
The knife could do the job, if he was quick enough. He knew where the vital spots for a gorillian were. He picked up the habit of learning a potential enemy’s weaknesses during the war. It would be a fight with a real possibility he would end up dead. Or wounded bad enough to make him an easy target for one of the other members of the band. He couldn’t let the thing just kill him, or the family however.
Before he could move though something flew across his vision. He thought it hit the gorillian in the head. A second later another fist sized rock hit the beast. It ignored this rock, as it

had ignored the first one. It also ignored the next three which hit it almost the same instant. Cal took a second to glance at the direction the rocks came from. He saw that the two older kids throwing the rocks. The father picked up a rock three times the size of the pervious ones and threw it as hard as he could. It hit the beast in the face, as it reared over Cal. Blood dripped from a gash left behind by the rock as it dropped almost hitting Cal.
Roaring the beast turned toward the family. Cal readied the knife as another rock flew across the clearing. Slightly smaller then the one that left the gash it hit the beast as it roared again. By luck, or by planning, Cal didn't know, but it landed in the gorillian's mouth, sticking in the orifice. The beast let out a muffled roar, and shook its head, trying to dislodge the hard thing in its mouth.
While it was occupied with the rock. Cal rolled out of its
way, and on his hands and knees scuttled to where the laser lay. He could hear the other gorillians moving, so he raised up to a crouch, running the rest of the way in that position. He scooped up the rifle on the run, turning to face the animals, as he kept stepping backwards.
He again fired from the hip, scoring a hit on the gorillian, as it headed for the family. It screamed and pivoting before the beam could burn in far enough to kill it. The beam scored along the beast's side as it turned. Once it faced Cal, the beam started to burn into its stomach. He raised the beam burning a line upwards until he found its heart.
Even before it started to fall, Cal aimed his weapon at another male heading his way. He kept the beam on its chest for
the few seconds it took the beam to reach its heart. As it fell the rest of the band decided that they had enough damage. They ran off, using their hands, much like earthly gorillas, to increase their speed.
Cal knew that one of them would die before too many days had passed. He better get home to radio a warning to anyone else that might come across that band in the next few days.
He stood there a moment tasting blood from where he had bit his lip, but otherwise he seemed to be in one piece. Before he could move the family came over to thank him. They introduced themselves, and with tears in her eyes the mother hugged him. He smelled her sweat over a weakening perfume-deodorant. The father shook his hand expressing his thanks. The oldest boy shook his hand also, while the two youngest hugged his legs.
Cal squatted down to let the two smaller children hug him, both stunk of dirt and he felt loose soil fall on his clothes, but he didn’t care. He thanked them for throwing the rocks and distracting the gorillian, while he was on the ground. They both shyly nodded a you're welcome.
Mr. Andrews asked him if he was ok.
"I'm in one piece. Thanks for asking, I didn't take any serious injuries. This action wasn't any rougher then anything I experienced during the war."
The father nodded, for he had heard stories about how bad some of the fighting had been during the war. They talked some more, as they walked to the family’s vehicle. With one last thank you, the family piled into it and drove off. As he watched them drive off, Cal smiled glad he was able to save them. He didn't want to think about them, especially the little girl, being torn apart and eaten. It hit him that the only reason he had been able to save the family, and that little girl was his training and more importantly his war experiences.
On the way back to his house, he realized how much he missed seeing children play. Once home, he sent out a general call to warn his neighbors about the wounded Gorillain. Then his stomach growled. He thought a shot of whisky would be good, but decided he didn’t need it after all. A quick meal of warmed up noodles and beef, though would be good.
The next few days he thoughts of playing children stayed on his mind. In a sudden realization, it hit him, he hadn't been having very many nightmares since the rescue. He sat and thought about his experiences the pass few days. He used what he learned during the war to save the family. All that junk he had gone through had ended up for a good purpose. As he considered that, he remembered John and Teddy’s statements. The love of a good woman helped them to heal.
Maybe it was time to move back to civilization. Not all at once though. He could sell this farm, he always was getting
offers, and get a place in the town three hours from here. Only two to three thousand people lived there, a large portion of which were veterans like him. And just as importantly the population included single females.
He would miss this place. He liked working the land... maybe he would buy a farm next to the town. He would have to think about it, but by the way he felt he knew his mind was made up already.

The End