Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lucinda's Story-Part Three

It's April 30th. The last day of April 2016, soon it will be summer,  And it's time for the third segment of Lucinda's Story 2,536 words. Next week will be the last one and it will be shorter.

This one didn't seem to need as much work as the two previous segments so hopefully I didn't go over it too fast.

Some excitement in this one. For those who may not recall Lucinda is deaf and currently she is having a tour of the bridge she is on.  Captain White is letting her give commands to the ship. Later on something else happens though. 


White checked a readout then said, "We have changed course one half degree to starboard."
     Chelsea signed You did it.
     The captain turned back to Lucinda and motioned for her to give it more commands.
     She faced the lens and gave it a series of commands that the computer followed. That included causing the lights to flicker, slow the ship, to increase speed again, to change the color of the monitor at each console to a different color. Finally to tell the captain that he is a great guy, very nice and that she appreciated being able to talk to the computer.
     He turned to her and signed, Thank you to her then said to Chelsea, "You two can come back anytime you want so we can talk  more. I might have her do any course changes we need to do."
     During the next few days the Lucinda and the other passengers settled into a routine for the four months it would take them to get to Blearier's Star. She watched and sometimes joined in when the other passengers talked to each other during the meals. Afterwards they played the various games in the lounge, read or talked. Lucinda began teaching Ferdinand more sign language. 
     At one dinner Lucinda’s face burned when she realized that Chelsea was talking about her. 
    "I'm sure you know that because most handicaps can be fixed either in the womb or soon after birth there hasn't been the need for much research and development in special interfaces and programs."
     Jackie asked, "Why go to the conference and not watch it as a recording?"
     "This way she can actually participate in the discussions and ask any questions that she may come up with. The interactive recordings are not as complete as actually being there. And the distance is too great for an instantaneous    video chat.”
     "Why are you going too?"
     "For two reasons. One is that I think the experience would be first star, I would like to learn more too. The second reason is that she wouldn't go by herself. Lucinda's parents can't take off from work for that long, and they thought the experience would do her some good, help her to break out of her shyness, give her some more confidence."
     The others at the table nodded in understanding.
     Nine weeks into the trip Lucinda was awaken by a sudden shaking of the ship. As her eyes popped open the ship was shaken again. It felt like she was in a ground vehicle that had hit a wall. Or that something had hit the vehicle. The lights came on suddenly and she saw her friend standing by the switch just as a powerful force threw Lucinda out of bed. She landed in a heap, tangled in the blanket. Unhurt, except for a couple bruises she pulled on the blanket, kicked at a part that was wrapped around her foot. With a heave she threw the blanket one way and stood up. The lights flickered. She glanced at them to see if they would stay on. They did for the moment so she quickly moved to her friend.
     Quickly she signed a question.
     Automatically Chelsea spoke, "I don't know what's happening," but then she repeated it with her hands.
     The lights in the outer room started blinking red. She signed telling Lucinda that there was also an alarm, but so far no announcement.
     Suddenly, a component in the wall, a foot below the ceiling exploded, sending sparks downward. Both girls threw their hands over their heads and letting out short screeches. When they tried to move toward the door, Lucinda felt a force throw her to one side when the floor heaved upward. She smacked into Chelsea and then into the wall hard. 
     Lucinda leaned against the wall dazed for a moment then realized her body was pressing into something soft. There was only one thing that felt that way so she knew what or who the softness had to be. She quickly stepped away, turning in time to see Chelsea's eyes close as she fell limply to the deck. Lucinda watched in shock as her friend crumbled. A scream tore lose from her throat when she saw blood on Chelsea's face.
     She stared at her friend for a second. What to do? I don’t know how; get help.
     Lucinda looked up at the doorway-that better work. Without further thought she ran into the passageway. Stopped, where to? The tour flashed through her mind, she turned left, toward the medical center. The ship rocked hard twice on her way. Her feet tried to slip, but she wouldn’t let them. She danced to stay upright. If she hurt herself she couldn’t get help. The flashing red strobes didn’t help. Darkness and red; it looked worse than a horror film she saw last year.
     After what seemed to be way too much time she approached the right doors. They were open and a light shone out of the doorway. She ran in and grabbed the first person she saw. She moved her hands in a fast plea for help. The passenger she had grabbed though didn't know what she was trying to say. 
     A second later she saw someone in a ship jumpsuit, and went over to them. She again signed asking someone to come help Chelsea, but again the person didn't understand. She hoped Ferdinand would arrive, but he didn't. Sweat ran down the inside of her arms, she gasped, breathed hard, gasped again. Think but that scene of her friend with blood on her popped into her mind, she couldn’t banish it.
     Of course she could speak, she knew it would be squeaky and the volume not correct but she knew how to speak loud, "Chelsea needs help, she's bleeding, Please Help."  
     One of the crew members said something then left carrying a med kit, and at that moment General Hackney came in helping an injured passenger. He talked to the crew member whom she remembered as George, but Lucinda had no idea what was being said. Suddenly some huge force impacted the ship, tossing everyone around as the lights went out. Lucinda screamed along with two others. It seemed that the vessel tilted then settled back. Gravity went off for a few seconds as did the lights. Gravity came back on, even though at a lesser strength. The emergency lights came up.
     That was the last of the bouncing and impacts. Lucinda watched the others as they got up. Reading his lips Lucinda saw Hackney say something about she's drifting and George nodded his head in agreement. George went over to a small panel on the wall, pushed a button then spoke. Lucinda had no idea what he was saying but he didn't look happy. Her breath came harder as fear built. Had the drives blown up? The reactor overheated?
     More talk, she caught certain words but nothing made sense. It soon became obvious that they decided to go check for themselves. Hackney, George and Jackie headed out the door. For some reason she wasn't sure about Lucinda decided to follow, nothing she could do here and nothing more she could do to help Chelsea who looked—not alive. General Hackney was good at fixing things and he would be able to figure something out. Maybe they would lead her to Ferdinand or the Captain and she could find out what happened as well as find out about Chelsea. 
     On the way Lucinda could barely contain her panic as she 
tried not to think of what happened to Chelsea. The three men went down the corridor obviously headed for the emergency stairs which Lucinda thought were more of a ladder. As she followed them she tried to keep four steps behind so she wouldn't get in their way but would be close enough to see if they turned or went into a room. And maybe they wouldn’t notice her and tell her to go back.
     Once on Deck two they moved quickly down the passageway. Lucinda had problems walking with the much reduced gravity. All three acted like they were used to it but  At times she would take missteps and almost stumble and she felt like she was bouncing. They arrived at engineering and stepped through the door. There was a smell and taste of smoke in the air but no fires that Lucinda could see. Debris was scattered all over the place, but it looked mostly like papers, tools and such. She saw someone dressed in a burnt Orange jumpsuit standing before a console that came out of the wall. The controls where chest high on the man and he was pushing buttons. He stopped and typed something on a keyboard then pushed the buttons again. From the expression on his face she could tell that whatever he was trying to do wasn't happening.
     He turned to face the newcomers then said something. Hackney and the other crew member each spoke but he just shook his head. He spoke again and Lucinda was able to read a couple of the words he said. Something about the computer locked down and the Captain. She thought it looked like he couldn't fix something without the computer and he couldn't get the computer to let him fix it. The men discussed the situation more then Hackney motioned for them to go some where else. Not knowing what else to do Lucinda followed them. Part way to wherever they were going they met still another crew member, this one spoke urgently and took Hackney over to a porthole. Lucinda tried to see what they were looking at, but only saw a sun that looked very tiny. Whatever the man said caused the others to frown, before their expressions all changed—to something that showed determination.
     The General turned and hurried off with all the others, including Lucinda, tagging along. A few steps further and he slowed then glanced at Lucinda with an expression like he was listening. Soon they neared the bridge. One of the crew members led the way to the door leading to the bridge but as he put in a code in the keypad next to the door nothing happened. Lucinda doubted anything would happen for the door was warped, and looked like it wouldn't open. She wiped sweat from her forehead and eyes. The air felt warm and maybe harder to breath. She hoped that last was just her panic.
     They stood around for a minute, then Hackney suddenly turned and took off down the passageway. He went through one door then another, and came out in what looked like a back passage. One Lucinda hadn't been in before for she hadn't known it existed. He went down it a few feet until he found another door. This one was only half as wide as the cabin doors and was set in the wall making it look like another section of the wall It slide sideways into the wall as he pressed the open button. Everyone crowded around the small opening to look in. Lucinda could see sparks from something loose inside. 
     They men talked some more, and it looked like they were arguing. Hackney pointed toward her twice then finally the two crew members nodded obviously convinced about something. General Hackney turned to Lucinda and quickly moved to her. She flinched thinking he was going to be angry at her. He tried to say something to her but she shook her head and put up her hands to sign something. He took her by the shoulders and looked at her face making her look back.
     He said, "I know you can read lips, I have seen you do it, so I know you can understand me."
     She nodded and said. "I read lips a little." 
     "Good, We need your help. Something only you can do."
     She looked puzzled, but she knew her expression showed panic also. 
     "First, all that shaking was caused by someone attacking us. Some lowlife tried to take us out. They gave up, I'm not sure why. It could have been because of Ferdinand getting one, or two lucky hits with his return fire, or something scared them away. Whatever the case, they damaged the ship."
     She said, "Who...why? We aren't important."
     "I don't know who, they never boarded us, so I don't if they were pirates, someone using us for target practice or what. If they were pirates they want to rob us and the ship. And they may want more from you and the other women."
     Lucinda blanched as she caught his meaning.
     He continued, "There should be none of their type in this area of space but obviously they didn't know that. After the attack we are drifting with no power to the engines. Billy thinks he can fix that but the computer is locked down and he can't get in to fix what he needs to fix. He believes the captain thought we were going to boarded so he commanded the computer to shut down all but life support. That means no other crew member, even with security codes, can get the computer to do anything. That was something Captain White programed in case pirates boarded the ship, they would not be able to use the new computer to help them steal the cargo. 
     "We might be able to break into the bridge eventually, but most of the tools we would use for that are locked down too. We have another situation though. You saw Tony show me something out of the porthole?"
     Lucinda nodded.
     "He was showing me a star we are drifting toward. Somehow all the pounding the ship took got us off course and we are now headed for that star. It will take us a week to get close enough to kill us, but unless we are rescued it will happen. Right now we can easily escape the gravitational pull but the closer we get the harder it will be to escape. The part of the drive that allows us to go faster than light is out, totally fired, but we can use the sublight side to get us away from the sun. We would still be under powered, the drive be able to produce half its normal output, but it would be enough to get us away from the sun's gravity. And it would enough to get the weapons up. They're not much, but they could be enough to chase away any normal pirates. We need to get the drive fixed before we get too close to the sun, or before the attackers come back. Once out of danger we can move close enough to a trade route which would allow us to be rescued." 
     Her eyes went wide and she opened her mouth to say something, but he anticipated her question and said, "I said that I didn't know they were pirates. If they are and their ship was damaged or they were scared off by something they will be back. More then likely they know we are drifting so they will be able to find us if they come back.”

End segment

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lucinda's Story Part Two

Yay, time for part two of Lucinda's Story. My Science Fiction tale about a shy, young woman who is deaf yet is going off planet and ends up in more of an adventure than she planned-it's will be up to her to save the ship they are on.

For those who missed it last week I wrote this story over five years ago. I've learned more about writing since then and so have spent time revising it, to make it more readable and enjoyable. This week I think I got all of the Point of View changes but can't say for sure.
One thing. 
This week is 2,334 words long
Part one is under this if you go back to the main page of my blog
And as with all of my posted stories I don't mind comments and real criticisms.

So enjoy:

After reading the signs her friend said, "Lucinda is as excited as I am, she wants to shake your hand, but is too nervous to ask. She wants me to thank you for saving us from the invaders."
     He said, "Thank her for me and tell her, I did what needed to be done. It was obvious where the invaders were headed, and it was equally obvious that the combined fleet would not be ready."
     After a pause during which he shook Lucinda's hand he asked,     
    Chelsea signed for Lucinda that he asked "But what about you two? Why are you two young women going on this trip?"
As she signed Lucinda knew she also spoke to the General, "We are going to a conference on a planet in the Blearier star system. Part of the conference deals with deaf people and the different opportunities they have."
     Answering his unasked question she said, "Lucinda was born deaf. Out here in the boondocks, we don't have the medical knowledge like they do in the main sector. If we had, they could have found the problem before she was born and fixed it."
     They talked a moment further with Chelsea translating for her friend. Hackney apologized for having to end the conversation, but he had to get going.
     Both teens nodded. Chelsea said they would see him later and Lucinda gave a short wave just before he walked off.
     The purser-tour guide motioned for them to follow him as he led them on a quick tour of the ship on the way to their cabin. After a minute of quiet he signed some but also said in words that Chelsea signed when he explained that the ship had two decks. They were on the first one or Number One. The six staterooms as well as the cafeteria-lounge, the med center, and some cargo holds were all on Deck One. The bridge and larger cargo holds as well as engineering, what there was of it, were on the second or Number Two deck. From a diagram on a wall Lucinda saw that deck Two covered only half the area of One. The Captain's cabin was on deck one near the bridge which was in the nose.
     When they arrived at the cafeteria he opened the door showing them which button to push as he did. He explained that even though one needed to push the button to get in the doors were set in special grooves which made them easy to slide. That was so anyone could slide them sideways by hand, in case of an emergency.
     Chelsea signed that he said, "This is the cafeteria and lounge where everyone eats. We do all the cooking on board the ship, which includes snacks. The lounge has a couple of video games in one corner plus an old fashioned foosball game. We have a lot of movies in the computer's library, but you can watch those in your cabin."
     They stopped for a moment so that Chelsea could translate for Lucinda. He apologized for not knowing enough sign language to tell her himself. 
     Again Lucinda watched Chelsea’s hands, ”The Captain knows more then I do as you will see when you met him, probably at dinner tonight. He is a bit eccentric but he's a good captain and he is friendly. He's very busy right now with preparations for lift." 
     There was a pause while Chelsea finished translating for Lucinda. When she was done they continued. Lucinda noticed that both Chelsea and Ferdinand turned their heads in the same direction. Chelsea used a sign for voices.
     Then she finished with, Ferdinand said there are cards for card games.
     Even before she finished Lucinda saw them turn , she followed and saw that in one corner where two people seated at a table talking. One was dressed in the same burnt orange jumpsuit that Ferdinand wore. 
     Chelsea translated, This is Tommy, the medical, communication and morale officer. The other man is one of the other passengers.
    Lucinda held back. She finally let Chelsea urge her to follow the guide to where the two men where seating. 
     He led them up to the two men and Lucinda watched his mouth move, he said, "Tommy and Jackie Lei. This is Lucinda and Chelsea, our last two passengers."
     The men looked up at the newcomers, then stood. 
     Tommy said, "Good to meet you."
     While Jackie said, "Hello fellow travelers."
Both stuck out their hands. Lucinda watched Chelsea shake the offered hands and knew she had to too. Then she watched Ferdinand explain that they were on their way to a conference on the fifth planet of Blearier's Star. They would be attending one area of a large conference dealing with hearing issues. After a short chat Ferdinand led them on the rest of the tour, ending up at their cabin. All three went in and he showed them where everything was than after saying he would be around to help he left. 
     Before leaving he moved his hands saying good to meet you, to Lucinda.
     Two hours later after an announcement that Chelsea translated for Lucinda that all of the luggage along with the crew and passengers were on board, the Captain ordered the ship to lift. On a computer monitor in their cabin Lucinda watched the ship take off. It rose straight up, pivoted, its nose tilted upward as it did. When the ship reached the right direction it took off, using the vessel's magneto drive to blast its way through the atmosphere. In half an hour the ship was in space. The moment it left the atmosphere both girls could feel the magneto drive shut down and a new vibration begin as the Space drive took over. The space drive had two modes. One for sublight speed, and the other drove the ship faster than light. 
     For their first dinner aboard the ship the girls wore their best outfits, calf length, loose fitting dresses. Lucinda's wore a solid blue and Chelsea's put on a red dress with purple trim. During that dinner all the passengers were able to met the captain. Lucinda saw a  man in his fifties with shoulder length red hair and green eyes. 
     As they were seated he said, "Hello, I am Captain White owner of this fine vessel."
     He then faced the girls as he said, "You must be Chelsea, 
nice to have you on board," just before sticking out his hand.
     They took turns shaking it. White explained with words and with his hands that he had been busy with making sure the last minute cargo was loaded right, and all the "paperwork" finished, and sent to the spaceport's administration.
     Lucinda took a moment to smell the food, a chicken dish from her planet, that surprised but decided it might have been done on purpose to make everyone feel more comfortable.
    She halted her thoughts on food though for the Captain had started to sign, To help make up for not being there to see you, I invite you to the bridge anytime during the next few days.
     Lucinda nodded and said, We will be happy to see the bridge
     Chelsea responded first with her mouth, "That would be first star" then moved her hands, We will be there whenever you are not too busy.
     Lucinda and Chelsea meet the other passengers during that meal. One was a couple on vacation and another confessed to being a salesman headed for his home base. 
     During another dinner two days after leaving the planet, General Hackney was seated at the same table as Lucinda and friend. This time the main dish was a lamp stew from a recipe from Armenia  on Earth. She endured more conversations, with Chelsea translating.
     "I don't mind playing cards, as long as it's a game I know," he said to respond to a question dealing with what he did all day, "I also read, and chat with people." 
     After some urging by Chelsea Lucinda joined the conversation by asking through her friend. "Where are you going on this trip?"
     "To the same conference you are. The section I'm going to be speaking at deals with security issues. No navy ships were going my way so the military had to buy a ticket for this trip,” he shrugged, “It’s happened before."
     "You don't have your own ship?"
     "Not anymore, I pilot a desk now."
     Lucinda explained that this was her first time in deep space, she had been to two of the stations above New Nevada, but never to other planet. 
     To a question put to her by Liee she said, through her friend, "My parents are sending me on this trip even though they can't come."
     They talked more throughout the dinner with Chelsea continually having to get Lucinda to participate. During the first part of the trip Lucinda stayed in her cabin, only eating in the cafeteria, she felt too nervous around the talkative strangers. Gradually she spent some time in the lounge even when it wasn't meal time.   
     Three days into the trip the two girls arrived at the bridge the tour of the ship's command center, The Captain had promised. They were surprised to see General Stephen Hackney standing just inside the door as they entered. The room seemed cooler than the rest of the ship, Lucinda thought, and it smelled. Old popcorn of all things, and sweat as well as something she thought might have been a cologne. The popcorn scent reminded her that their cabin had various flavors of popcorn, maybe she would try candy-cane later.   
     Chelsea said to Lucinda, why would he be interested in this ship's bridge? After all he has seen the bridge on many different types of warships, I'm sure most of them were more modern than this one.
     He greeted them then, said as if he knew what they wanted to ask him, "As you probably have figured out I have seen many command centers. Most though have been on war ships, only a handful have been on civilian ships. It is a curtsey to check out a captain's bridge when you’re invited, but I would come here anyway. I'm interested in how various command centers are set up."
     As Chelsea translated that he looked around at the walls and said further, "This one seems to be within a cocoon of protective armor. You may have noticed as you came through the door that the doorway was over a foot thick. I would imagine that this ship was built during a period of heavy piracy."
     The Captain, now wearing burnt orange trousers and shirt, was seated before a console. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail with a wide, orange tie, that could be tied dyed.  
     He paused while pushing buttons and then according to Chelsea said, "You are partially correct General. The armor surrounding the bridge isn't as thick as you think. There are access tubes, circuits and other components between the armor and the inner walls. The computer core is there also. The people who built this vessel thought they needed extra protection also, if the ship was attacked. But you are correct in that the extra shielding was because of pirates and other marauders.”
     He got up and walked to where the three were standing.
     After Chelsea and Hackney shook hands White turned to Lucinda and moved his hands in a greeting to her. 
     She smiled and signed back, Good to meet you.
     He started the tour pointing out the work stations. “In this size ship there were only four. A console for navigation-helm; one that combined communications and sensors plus a spare station, that was usually used as a regular console, and lastly the Captain's chair”
     He explained what each panel did. While he was speaking to Chelsea and Hackney he signed for Lucinda.
     As they stood by his chair he said, "I don't have a full Captain's chair like many larger ships, with repeater screens and communications within in easy reach, but what we have serves our needs. You have probably noticed that there is no main viewing screen for everyone to use. We don't need one since each station has it own set of monitors. However we do have a newer computer that is a lot handier to use then our old model. It even has a visual record input."
     He showed them a lens that was embedded in the wall close to his chair. 
     He finished with, "The computer is programed to ‘see’ things and to react as necessary."
     He moved his hands, Lucinda to tell the computer something.
     Lucinda looking unsure turned to face the video pick up and moved her hands.
     A voice was heard saying, "Ship's time is 0800 hours, Earth, Greenwich time."
     Chelsea tapped Lucinda on the shoulder and after she turned, explained to her the computer had told them the time.
     The Captain said to her, Try something harder, more complex.
     Lucinda signed, What?
     Try a small course change. Tell it to move a quarter degree to starboard.
     She moved her hands, but the computer said, "Unauthorized command, I cannot comply.”     
     "Of course, she's not a member of the command crew... Here let me tell the computer she has the same standing as I." he spoke with both his hands and his voice.
     He quickly moved to a console, typed in a code then typed in a command. 
     He said, "I could verbally tell the computer to do this or even use sign language, but I prefer to type my commands in, unless it's an emergency."
    Lucinda’s eyes went wide as he signed that the computer knew signing. When he was done he straightened, then moved his hands, Ok now tell the computer to change course one half a degree to starboard. 
     Lucinda turned back to the lens. She moved her hands in a 
quick dance and the computer beeped.
     It said, "Course changed as ordered,"

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Lucinda's Story SF part one.

It's April 16  

A new story for me-another Science Fiction tale. This one has a main character with a certain problem. Again it's one I wrote many years ago before I knew half of what I now know about the craft of writing. I am revising it as I go and improving the writing even though in this one I left in a couple changes of POV-point of view. Some readers do not like that while others of us don't care.

I will be splitting it up into three-possibly four-sections. 

Here is number one:

Lucinda's Story

                        By L.E. Doggett

    The young woman stood at the bottom of the loading ramp, alone. Lucinda looked to the right and left turned around and looked behind her while she searched the tarmac of the spaceport. Still seeing no one she knew the teen turned back to the ship that was taking her to Blearier's Star. This trip made it her first time she off planet. The whole thing made her nervous especially the fact there could be pirates out there. Very few or her parents would not let her go but new gangs could form.
    Sweat formed in the middle of her back and on her forehead. She would have to try to “talk” to the crew for her friend was late.
      Looking up the pitted and discolored grayish ramp she sighed. At ten feet wide and six feet long it of pitted and grayish hard, cold metal, it looked opposing. The whole area stunk of coolant, burnt ground, hot metal and on some breezes like an outdoor pipeless bathroom had burnt to the ground.
     Was that a bit of bile in her mouth? That wouldn’t surprise her. Come on Chelsea-you’re late.
    She wiped sweat off her hands by rubbing them against her powder blue skirt. She refused to stroke her shoulder length blond hair. And with what filled her mind she didn't notice when her hands brushed across the knitted small red flowers adorning the full skirt. The sleeves of her blouse almost faded into the skirt's blue. The whole effect made her look modest and, from what her friends said, pretty.  
    Since she had looked everywhere Lucinda looked at the ship once more. It looked like a flat thick oval laying on the ground, but the two tail fins and large round drives spoiled the effect. They made it look like there was a set of binoculars stuck in the rear of the ship. One with three lens instead of two. The freighter looked huge up close for it was over two hundred feet long and four times her height even though it was small when compared to other ships docked here.
    She sighed, then raised her arm and looked at her watch. She shook her head again as she saw what time it was. She touched a button on the wristband making the clock face disappear. A 3D projection appeared above it. The note read "No Mess" in four inch high powder blue letters. She frowned, pressing the off button. 
     She shook her head and took another look at the ship, even though clean and neat it still looked its age with pits, scared paint as well as patches placed along the hull. It was mostly blue gray with red streaks along the flanks. After another sigh, she took a deep breath. More heated metal scents along with fresh food and rotten food mix. Another look over the tarmac, her expression harden and she started up the ramp. She felt warm standing in the sun anyway.
     When she was three steps from the top, another teen came running up to the ship. She was dressed much the same as Lucinda, in a calf length solid red skirt, and a white peasant blouse. The newcomer ran up the ramp stopping right behind Lucinda. She tapped her on the shoulder. Lucinda spun around with her eyes wide and her mouth open. Relief replaced the first look as she saw who it was. The newcomer gave a short wave then moved her right hand making a fist with her forefinger sticking straight up and her thumb pointing away from the hand. After half a second she formed a U shape with her thumb and forefinger, finally making another fist, this time her thumb curled upward almost meeting her forefinger curling down. The whole series was done almost faster then one could follow. Lucinda responded by pointing to the newcomer, then moved her right elbow out from side, close to a 90 degree angle, hand pointing downward. Starting at waist level her hand moved backward, as if brushing something behind. The last movement was a considerable motion.
     The other young woman’s mouth moved and said, "Sorrrry" as she pointed a thumb at herself immediately followed by an arcing motion above her head level with her other hand. This motion flowed into one where she placed both hands together flat then placed them on one side of her head for a second. 
    Lucinda  thought it figured she would oversleep as she pointed to the PDA on her wrist. 
     Her friend moved her hands in quick graceful dance which said Sorry Lucinda, I forgot to charge the battery.
     With a painful look on her face, Lucinda moved her hands, I almost had to meet a stranger, by myself.
     You can do it, we are expected after all.
     But I would have to talk to him.
     At that point, Lucinda glanced upward for a man in a burnt orange jumpsuit appeared in the open doorway. He glanced around then approached the two young women, saying hello as he did. The second woman, interrupted her friend by pointing his way. Lucinda stopped moving her hands and turned around. The man gave her a little wave then moved his hands in a not so smooth imitation of the hand motions the women had been using. Lucinda nodded and moved her hands in a quick movement.
     The man moved his hands in a slower movement and mouthed the words "not so fast".
     She repeated the movement slower and he nodded. After another exchange of hand motions, he turned his head slightly to the second young woman. 
     He said, "I am Ferdinand, The Star Traveler's purser and chief cook. You must be Chelsea."
     Chelsea reached out her hand for him to shake, and said, "Yes I am. Its nice that you came out to meet us."
     "That's my job, one of them anyway, to greet the passengers as they board. The Captain wanted me to apologize, for him not being here. He's busy seeing to the last minute details... I can show you to your cabin anytime you want."
     The first woman nodded and signed an ok.
     "Lucinda agrees that would be good. Oops, I mean.... I didn't need to say that, you obviously know sign language, it’s such a surprise that you do. I mean... I didn't mean to say you were ignorant..."
     She paused as Lucinda who had been watching her friend talk, touched Chelsea's arm. Once Chelsea looked at her she moved hand in a quick movement, her thumb and forefinger formed an O with the rest of her fingers pointing straight up. Her friend stopped talking, nodded and took a deep breath.
     "Umm, we would like to see our cabin."
     Ferdinand said, "This way," motioned for them to follow before turning to head back up the ramp and into the spacecraft.
     On the way Lucinda watched Chelsea say, "I'm surprised you know sign language."
     "Lucinda is not the first deaf person we have carried. We 
seemed to have a rep for taking good care of people who are hard 
of hearing or deaf. I'm the one in charge with making sure the passengers have everything they need, which includes 
communicating. I know only a few signs but I try to pick up as 
many as I can. I don't get much chance to practice with people."
     There was a pause then he continued with, "Speaking of signs, I saw her form a B. Why?"
     "Um, That is short for boring, she was telling me I was babbling again. I do that when I get nervous, or excited. Lucinda watches the mouths of people while they are talking, so she can tell when I'm babbling."
     Ferdinand nodded. A second later he stopped as a tall man with chiseled features, hard eyes, short brown hair, who looked to be just pass middle age yet still fit walked up to them. He wore a casual light brown shirt and trousers Their tour guide stopped as both of the girls' eyes widen. 
     She twisted her torso sideways, and her hands danced. Is that who I think it is?
     Chelsea signed. It looks like him.
     Lucinda again moved her hands, That couldn't be him-not here.
     You're right, he's wearing civilian clothes instead of a military outfit. 
     Lucinda nodded in agreement, that he was wearing the wrong type of clothes.
     Chelsea hands moved some more. But if it is him, I think might scream.
     Again Lucinda nodded in agreement, even though she wouldn't scream, she would feel like it.
     The purser turned to the two girls and said, "This is another one of our passengers who is going to the same place you are” A pause then, “General Steve Hackney."
     That was all he needed to say in introduction for Lucinda knew who he was.
     Chelsea let out a gasp and Lucinda, just as she had thought, felt like screaming. She thought, it really is him. I grew up hearing about him and what he did. 
     She motioned This is cool to Chelsea, but her friend was too amazed to see it.
     Lucinda thought, I've seen most of the movies about what he did and we studied about him in school. 
     I still think it’s so first star what he did. If it wasn't for him we would all be under the control of a mean dictator. When I was one, our sector of space was invaded by a large space force. The New Athenians had already conquered three other star systems, and were about to take over this whole sector. 
     Hackney was a new, very young, Major in charge of a planetary system the invaders would use as a resupply point on their way to take over us. He had a very small force, made up mostly of older attack vessels and patrol ships barely adequate for protecting the system from pirates, and guarding the large penal colonies there. From their path he knew they would head his way eventually. He figured he had five month to eight months prepare. He hand picked a fighting force, made up of criminals, civilians and his own men. In six weeks he turned them into a trained disciplined fighting force that was able to stop the larger, stronger invaders. Hackney used guerrilla tactics in space and on the ground for they had landed on one of the penal colony worlds. They thought they could use the infrastructure there. But as it turned out those who knew it better made greater use of it. The Hackneys were able to stop the advance until a larger, better armed force, from three different systems could meet the New Athenians. 
     After losing a two month war, part of the reason for that was the lose of their planned resupply points, the New Athenians retreated, going all the way back to their home system. Everyone declared him to be a hero and he was made a General.  
      "General, this is Chelsea Thompson and Lucinda Kennedy, the two passengers we were picking up here."
     Lucinda watched his mouth while he spoke so she was able to understand most of the introduction. She formed the word WOW with her mouth, as she moved her hands in a certain motion. 
     Chelsea said, "I am so glad to meet you, we hardly ever get to see any famous people out here it’s so exciting, especially a hero like you. You’re such a famous person... of course you know you're famous but we're still excited to see and meet you. To meet such a hero is soo cool I mean its first star. Its something that doesn't happen often out here."
     Lucinda was looking at the general so she didn't see her friend babbling. She was as amazed as her friend. She signed something again, but Chelsea wasn't paying attention so there was no translation. Lucinda glanced at her, seeing that Chelsea was talking too fast to be also translating she nudged her. Chelsea looked at Lucinda, her eyes widening as she realized she wasn't doing her job.
     She moved her hands in a dance and Lucinda responded with her own movements.

End segment

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Teddy Bear in Space-second and last part

As you may or may not know this was written five to seven years ago for the 100th anniversary of the Teddy Bear. I revised it-I made quite a few changes in when I revised it: deleted sentences as well as words, added descriptions and dialogue, changed other sentences and a couple of paragraphs. I would have made more changes if I rewrote it from scratch but I think it's a good read as is. Evidently a few people agree with me--thanks all who plussed it, made comments.

For those who come to this but missed the first part it's here

So now to the story:

The cabin was a box just like her room back home, but it was smaller, a lot smaller. It smelled slightly of industrial strength cleaner too. The walls were metal gray. Ugly, she thought. There was some decorations; either painted onto the wall, or set in it. In that way they would be permanent: the occupant would not have to worry about the decorations falling off the walls if the gravity failed, or the ship had to maneuver too suddenly. 
     There were places were she could attach four posters or paintings of her own. She put up three posters and a large picture of some of her friends. There was a bed, she thought smaller then hers, but yet somehow it looked big enough for her. A dresser was built into one wall and as her dad had warned her it was a lot smaller then hers. It had no mirror even though there was one in her small bathroom, or head as she should learn to call it, somehow painted onto a wall.
     She settled in, unpacking and then joining her parents for a light meal just before the ship left orbit. She wanted to watch that from one of the blisters she had seen, but her parents won’t sure how she would react. They finally gave in to her, and her mom took her to an observation blister. 
     The ship started to move, quickly picking up speed. The earth receded fast-in five minutes it was so small she could hardly see it. Two hours later, out of the range of any planetary gravity wells, the passenger liner shifted to hyper speed. From that point on it would take five months to reach their destination. They would spend two months there taking care of the business her mother and dad had, then head back. If every thing went as planned they could spend the last two weeks of that two months as a vacation.  
     Brittany, her parents, and the rest of the passengers, soon settled into a shipboard routine. Brittany's mother, with some help from her dad, taught her from lesson books they had brought along on a tablet. Even though she didn’t like it she accepted that her parents thought the trip would take too long for her to skip her education doing the duration of the trip. She liked some subjects and was glad she would be able to keep up her studies in them, but she didn't like the idea of having to spend a certain amount of every day in "school”.
     Brittany had bought along some books on her tablet to read during her spare time. However she ended up in one of the observation blisters every day, when she wasn't studying. She took her tablet and listened to some of the 300 songs she took with her. The personal field let her enjoy her music without anyone near her hearing it. She took turns going to the various Observation balloons, as they were called. 
     She enjoyed watching the stars go by at such speeds, and she used the computer monitors that were located in the blisters to learn about the various systems they passed. The distances between the stars were so great that even at the ship’s speed she could keep a set of lights in sight for hours. The systems were usually just pinpoints of light, but she could see something was there, and the monitors reported what systems they were. Twice they were close enough to almost make out a planet the size of half of one her fingernails.
     Half way into the out way journey Brittany and others in the blister she was in that day, saw a strange ship approaching. They had seen other ships past by: it was a tradition for liners to come within visual range of a passing space vessel. Usually they were freighters, even though two others had been liners, and one toward the beginning, had been a warship. They passed close enough for her to see four weapons turrets, flat web like sensor arrays and round circles that hid more weapons and missile tubes. Of course "within visual range” was subjective, therefore most of the few ships seen were no larger then a human finger. She had needed help to visually find most of them. At one point the ship had slowed significantly, as they passed a busy space station. The captain had rolled the ship to allow the passengers in observation blisters on the other side to get a good look. 
     Now though Brittany was so intent on finding a certain star that had two colonies in its system that she didn’t notice a new ship until it was close, closer then any other vessel had been. One of the adults saw it and called the other passengers’ attention to it. It came in close, but then zoomed away. When she asked it the liner's computer did not know what type of ship it was. It looked kinda of oval shape with a concave line along the top. It had a set of globes along both sides toward the end. She studied it for the very short duration that it buzzed them but the globes didn’t seem to have any connection to the ship. Yet they stayed in the same location.    
     A day later a mysterious force grabbed hold of the ship, forcing it out of hyper speed, than to a complete stop. Brittany felt the sudden change in speed even as she fell forward. Somehow she reached out and grabbed an emergency handle. Her arm felt pulled too long but she stayed upright even as she watched two other passengers fall. She realized that the internal gravity kept them from being squashed, but some kinetic force still sent many of the passengers and crew flying, or tumbling.
    Teddy flew from her hand and as soon as she was able she picked him up, and started running to find her parents, for she had been in a companion way on her way to her favorite blister. Within seconds alarms began to sound. After a few steps she heard, and felt a clang that reverberated though the hull. It sounded like something had landed on the liner's outer surface. Less then thirty-seconds after the clang, another alarm joined the others: a higher-pitched double-beep. She knew, from the drill every one was given before leaving Earth's orbit, that the new alarm was a warning that the liner was being boarded.
     It was an old alarm that hadn't been needed for years since a pirate problem had been taken care of. There were still pirates here and there, but they were very rare and there had been no reports of any marauders in this area of space. Before they decided to take her on the journey, Brittany's parents had made sure of that. But a new set of pirates must have formed and moved to this area.
     Hearing the sound she almost panicked, but held Teddy closer instead. Increasing her speed, Brittany ran toward the lifts. Once there she found that the lifts were down because of the emergency. Panic ran through her heart, but she hugged Teddy and remembered something. She turned, found an open doorway, ran up a three flights of emergency stairs to get to the deck her parents would be on. 
      Teddy didn’t know what was going on but, I enjoyed that squeeze after that fall. It made her stronger and braver which is what I was made to do. That hug was the hardest she had ever squeezed me but I wanted to shout “yes” if I could. I did my job and got her up those stairs.

     As she hurried down the passageway she found herself floating as the artificial gravity failed. Brittany pushed with one just when the familiar pull stopped. With a squeal she jumped toward the ceiling. Just before she reached the ceiling the gravity came back on, but at a lower level causing her to drift downward, instead of falling. The gravity again increased slightly, allowing her to run again, this time in looping strides. The air started to smell funny too, like it was effected by the low pull. 
    She hugged Teddy closer, but moved him down off of her mouth. Yecch his fur wasn’t good. She reached the final corridor and headed down it. She knew she was close. However as she caught sight of her parents waiting for her near their cabin, a group of four figures appeared in a side passageway. 
     The side corridor was between her and her parents. At the same moment she saw a steward, by his clothes, doing something to a panel on the wall two feet above the floor. She was supposed to follow the liner’s employees if something bad happened. But he was busy and there were her parents yelling for her to run. 
     When she looked back at the newcomers, she noticed that they were taller then anyone she knew, with strange rounded backs. The figures had what looked like thin crests of hair on the top of skinny heads. Brittany thought there was something strange about their faces. As she neared them, though, she made out that they woe some type of masks. Masks that resembled the breathing masks, that were kept in every cabin on the ship, to be used in case of a sudden lose of air. They had to be pirates. 
     She screamed and her dad yelled for her to hurry. With a burst of speed she ran toward him, almost running into the wall, as she tried to keep as far away from the unfamiliar people, as 
she could. Her dad started to run toward her, but it was obvious that the strange looking people would get to her first. 
     As she ran, Brittany heard a strange peeping coming from one of the four people. It seemed to be coming from a device, he was holding in his hand. 
     She increased her speed with another burst she didn’t know she had in her. Brittany started to cross the side passageway they were now coming out of, when the gravity shifted again. Teddy moved in her arm, slipped from her fingers and started to float toward the figures. She reached for him, but the bear spun and she missed. But how she wanted to stare at him because she shouldn’t have missed, but she didn’t have time. She started to turn to go after him, but her body went the wrong way because of the very low gravity. 
     Once she had herself under control, Brittany started after the Bear. She saw one of the strangers point the hand held device at the teddy bear, and it beeped louder. A new scent grew, she didn’t like. Out of nowhere a hand grabbed her arm. She turned expecting the steward but her father’s face was above the arm that held her. He pulled her back the way he had come. 
    She screamed, “I have to get Teddy.” 
     The being with the device, made a motion with his hand and 
one of the other four launched forward and grabbed Teddy. 
     Brittany screamed, "Let go of him,” she paused then said, 
"Daddy, I need to go get him.”
     Just then a bulkhead slide down, between them and the side passageway, it landed with a muffled thud on the carpet. It now separated the two groups. The steward stood up. Brittany relaxed, she wanted to pound on the bulkhead but knew it wouldn’t do any good.
     The steward said, "Finally, I got that emergency bulkhead to close. I had to wait until everyone was this side of it. Now, everyone to the nearest lifeboat! One of those alarms going off is the abandon ship signal. Those beings seem to be every where aboard the ship.”
     Since it was useless, Brittany stopped struggling and allowed herself to be led toward the lifeboats. On the way she noticed that her mother had been able to grab their carry on bags, she still had her tablet in its carrying case. 
     By the time they were half way down the passageway they joined a throng of other passengers hurrying toward the lifeboats. The first lifeboat entrance was full of passengers trying to get into that it, so her parents passed it by. And the next two. They hurried to one further down whose entrance was empty. 
     Brittany had seen pictures of the lifeboats, during the periodical drills. She knew that the lifeboats were basically the same as those on most ships used by the public: long teardrop shaped pods with three small drives on the smaller end. The pods were painted a bright white to help them be seen. She could not see them bit Brittany knew that each of the small craft had stubby wings, two on each side, sticking out of the middle. The wings were for atmospheric flight in case there was a need to make planet fall.      
     Brittany and her parents were among the first to reach this one. Once inside Brittany saw that the inside colors were pastel pinks, peach, and light blues. Calming colors designed to help the survivors feel less like panicking. The seats were lined up against the walls on three sides, looking almost like the seats on rides at amusement parks in groups of four, with food lockers and other compartments separating them. 
     Her parents found seats and helped her with the straps. Each seat had a series of straps which were designed to be adjusted for all sizes and ages of humans. Once her and her parents were strapped in she looked around. Brittany saw that her initial observations had been correct. There was a large open space in the middle, with there was an enclosed head at one end and a separate pilot niche in front. The center section was clear, to allow the passengers space to stand and even to do light exercises.
     After a few more passengers had scrambled in and were in the process of being strapped in, the steward, who as it turned out was the same one who had lowered the bulkhead joined them. He quickly seated himself in the pilot's seat. After making sure the power was on and all lights were green he turned and explained that they had to wait for the pod to fill up. Three or four people mumbled something that sounded like they should go now or they hoped it didn’t take long but no one spoke up. 
     Once the lifeboat was full, he again spoke, explaining that they would have to wait a few more seconds. The engineer had been ordered to set his hyper speed engines to flare at a specific time. The flare, would cause an energy burst that would do two things. It would be able to be seen by sensors for light years around. Any ship that spotted it would either come to investigate or send a signal to the navy who would send a ship out immediately. The huge flare should also disrupt the sensors of the boarder's ship. Hopefully this would allow the lifeboats to escape. He still didn’t know what they wanted but they seem to be going after the passengers. The old defenses that were once used against pirates were interfering with that though. 
     A light pulsed and a radio voice spoke even though Brittany couldn’t understand it. Evidently the right moment finally arrived, and the steward, shouted, “Go!” and hit the launch button. The lifeboat exploded out of the side of the liner like a seed from a pod, or someone spitting out a watermelon seed, sShe thought from the videos she had seen All of the escaping lifeboats where on the side of the liner opposite of the vessel that had landed on the ship. The lifeboats shot out in many directions, but three managed to stay together. The launch was a little rough for it pushed Brittany back into her cushion but no harm done.
     Brittany, her parents and their follow travelers were in the three lifeboats for a week. At first Brittany cried, over the lost of her teddy bear. She couldn't understand how she had lost him.  
     She said, “Its as if he twisted out of my grasp, but he 
couldn’t do that. Could he?”
     He dad said, “It looked like he moved but maybe it was that las shift of gravity made it seem that way. Or mMaybe he knew that danger to you and gave himself to save you. So you didn’t lose him, he voluntarily went.”  
     She noticed her mother give him a look that she didn’t believe him but Brittany decided to. No one could explain why the aliens grabbed it though. 
     The steward said, “From the way that small device, that one alien carried, beeped when you came running up the passageway, it was probably a life detector, or other type of hand held sensor. When that one aimed the device at the teddy bear, I heard the beeping increase, indicting the bear was alive. That was why they grabbed him instead of Brittany.”
     Her mother said, “But how could that could be? It wasn’t alive.”
     Her dad said, "Perhaps after all the years of Brittany hugging Teddy, he absorbed enough body heat and sweat from her to trigger their device. And his fur had been once been part of a living animal, maybe the combination had been enough to trick their life detector. It was obviously an alien mechanism, we don't how it detects life.” 
     The steward added, "The device might have been actually aimed at Brittany, through the teddy bear, so it was her life signs it detected.”
     No one could say for sure. 
     Brittany didn't cry for long. She had almost outgrown him anyway and this end was more fitting, better than to be thrown out, or to sit in a closet rotting away. 
     During the rest of the time in the lifeboat she read some of the books on her tablet as well as doing some school 
work. Her mother had managed to grab her laptop. It was a bit embarrassing to have learn in front of the other passengers but she managed. She and one other person passed around their tablets so others could read. The lifepod’s computer continued some books, games and movies too. There was enough emergency food and water to last them a month so no one worried about starving. The steward couldn’t say how long they would be in the boat, so they all decided to keep their rations down, to make sure the food would last. 
     A warship found them at the end of seven days and picked them up. Brittany managed to watch the ship’s arrival, all of its weapons were out of their hatches and it looked ready for a fight, but a moment later the Steward told every one to get seated and to buckle up the pick up would be rough. A large hatch opened in section of the destroyer. The steward explained that the ship would use its loading tractor beam to bring in the lifepod for safety. The captain of the destroyer, had news that eight other lifeboats had been picked up already, but that there was as many as twelve more still out there. More warships were out searching though. As far as they could tell, miraculously, no passengers, or crew members had been taken, or killed by the aliens. The quick action of the liner's captain and her crew, using the old pirate defenses allowed everyone to escape. Those that had actually seen the aliens thought they had been more interested in capturing the humans, perhaps for study, then in killing people. On the warship everyone who had seen the aliens were questioned about what they saw.
     After all the life boats were found, Brittany and her parents were taken to the closest human colony: one of the two colonies in the system Brittany had been studying when the aliens first showed up. They were all questioned by the local media before they were able to get a ship to take them to the planet her family had been heading to. Once there the whole family had to go through more media interviews. Both of her parents insisted they would be able to stay with Brittany during all interviews. She didn’t like the number of times she had to say the same thing over again but and Brittany did not like all of this attention she just wanted to mourn the lose of Teddy for a few weeks. However her parents were able to finish their business and they went home after a week long vacation.

    In another system light years from the nearest human colony, an officer of that planet’s authority was talking to a friend. 
    "We were the only ship sent to capture some of these new people. We want to know who and what they are. We found one of their larger ships and buzzed it to gauge the reaction of those inside. They did nothing. So came back around and pulled it out of hyper speed, docked with it and boarding it. The air they breath isn’t one hundred percent like ours so we had to wear breathing masks, very uncomfortable. We spent a long time on the ship but every effort to get a person was stymied. Some of them fought and bulkheads kept closing separating us from them. A gas was released too. It did us no harm but made it hard to see and confused our hand sensors.
     “All we got was this fake being. My assistant’s life detector was fooled somehow into thinking it was alive. I gave it to my daughter, she is of the age that such things hold an attraction. Now though she is so attached to it that other children she knows, want one. My son wants to make some and sell them. He figures he can for one medium circle and half a small circle. I don’t know about that but I don’t think anyone would buy  it for a larger circle even if their offspring desires one.”
      I’m glad I wasn’t destroyed, like I thought I would be. He snuggled in deeper into the arms of the being who held him. The arms of this girl are longer then I’m used to and her body is different then the one my previous owner had, but it feels good to be hugged. Her skin is harder and it takes longer for her warmth to get to me but it feels right. I will miss my previous owner, though. How I managed to twist out of her hands, I don’t know. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, not just physically, but emotionally also. I needed to do it through, I couldn’t let my owner be hurt. I’m glad I was able to save her, but at the same time she had been out growing him, and this new owner will need me for a long time.
     I will be getting company soon, for I overheard her parents making plans to make copies of me. My new owner's friends want their own Teddies. That will be good, for these people have nothing like me. They needed me and my type. I have been able to comfort my new owner already, make her sleep better, and that was very fulfilling-it was what I was made for, after all. 

                             The End