Sunday, August 27, 2017

Part one of "Piece of Cake", a Science Fiction tale

As I promised a Sci fI tale and as the header says this os part one of two. This is also the shortest as in 2,225 words.
Could have revised more but I did this l late afternoon, and I am tried. The rest of it will hopefully be in a couple of days

This is another old story of mine-over six years old-and one my favorites. I realized it's a little hard to revise these older stories with all I have learned about writing since I first wrote them. But it's more readable and enjoyable than the original version.

Piece Of Cake By L. E. Doggett

The tiny, one man ship slid through the clear section of space quietly. Nothing orbited even close to him, that included other ships. The tightness of his piloting space didn’t bother him, nor did the heavier than normal clothing of his flight suit.
Carlos Manqué had been told that that his ship would blend in with the surrounding space if anyone glanced its way. That would be equally true if they used their physical eyes or electronic eyes. He almost believed them. The lights on his control panel would not reach outside the ship even if he opened his blacked out cockpit cover. The comm band he used, for extreme emergencies only, didn’t squrk or hiss with back ground radiation. No way could it be picked up. His AI could talk to him, but only through the device in his skull.
The pilot glanced through his cockpit window at the surrounding space. He shivered but he knew that any cold he felt was his mind only. No way could he feel any cold with his flight suit on and inside the temperture controlled fighter. Even the air in this improved fighter tasted clear and very close to planet normal.
He could, however really see the hundreds of pinpoints of light with yellow dots and nickel size disks mixed in that bordered the system he was flying through. Those stars provided significant light for this region.
Carlos was proud he was able to fly this new ship. It was a streamlined, state of the art craft. A craft so new this was its first mission. Its paint actually was a special light absorbing material so black it was difficult to make it out even with the number of suns shining around it. He had seen it disappear in a darken hanger. He had known it sat in front of him but no shadow or dark blob gave it away. They had demonstrated how it even absorbed lidar blips and other sensor radiations.
He flew not only with radio silence but dark, all of his running were lights off. The cockpit was located on top right along the center beam, one quarter of the way back from the blunt nose.
Carlos sat in the cockpit encased in a thicker then normal flight suit. It was more of an armored extra vehicle suit then a flight suit, but that is what they called it. His suit’s helmet had a light amplifying feature, so he could make out everything around him-it even had very short range lidar and three separate lights.
At the moment his drives were on stand by, as were most of his controls, including full sensors and the few weapons he had. He was cruising with only passive sensors to cut his chance of detection. If the need arouse he could have full operation mode in a two seconds after the touch of three touch points. The new gravitiaonal thrusters steered his craft with little escaped radiation or gravity anomilies.
So far everything was going as planned. He glanced at the diagram of the ship set in the control panel; streamlined yet stocky looking. The ship was small, three feet shorter then the jet fighters from the Twenty-first century, he had studied in flight school. It was however twice as wider and twice as thick as the fuselage of the same air craft. He studied the outline again. It was a nice looking ship. The new fighter’s wings were stubby running most the length of each side. He had to step on one to exit the fighter. The section of the wing that connected the ship’s hull was half as thick as the craft. As they swept backwards their thickness narrowed to half its original.
He sat there calm, without a trace of sweat or nervous butterflies. Back when he received the assignment he had predicted to his friends-without even hinting at what he would fly or do with it, that it would be a piece of cake. He recalled the moment he had announced his special assignment. As usual his friends had been sitting at a table in the academy’s canteen. He and his friends were still considered cadets even though they had graduated from the space force academy a few weeks earlier. That meant, among other things, that they could not be in the officers canteen, or lounge and they did not belong in the enlisted men’s canteen. They were in a sort of no man’s land, not officially belonging to any group. So like most of those previous to them they stayed around the academy, while waiting for assignments where they could advance to the next level, full fledged officers.
Carlos had come rushing over to their table, barely able to contain himself. He had felt like jumping up and down, as well shouting. That would have caused a scene, as well as being non officer like, so he restrained himself. They were expected to act like full officers. After arriving at the table he just stood there, until someone asked him what was happening. He had answered by saying that nothing much was happening, he had just been to the bases’ commander's office.
That had taken a few seconds to sink in. Finally three of the six heads spun his way. Jacqueline had asked if that was what it sounded like, or had he gotten into trouble. He had broken into a large grin and Tony had said that by that smile it was what they thought. Everyone had started to talk at once, some congratulating him with others asking him what the assignment was and others asking if the outfit he had been assigned to needed any one else. When they had quieted down he looked around to make sure no one else was close, bent down over the table and spoke in a low voice explaining that he had been given a special assignment piloting a new experimental craft.
Brittany said that those assignments were always the toughest. He replied that he was the best pilot in their
graduating class and therefore it would be a piece of cake for him. They had gone to a real restaurant that night to celebrate. Three days later he had been called back to the commander's office and the full assignment had been explained to him. It was top secret so he had to keep his mouth shut tighter than a locked up flight computer. All he told his friends was that he had leave to be trained for his new assignment but that for him, it would be a piece of cake.
Two days later he left and was taken to another base for training in this new craft. He had been surprised how small it was. It wasn’t the first one man fighter he had flown but it was definitely the smallest. Years of research had gone into condensing various components. They had even changed the shape of some so that they would fit into the space left for them. That was one thing he didn’t like about the ship. Every bit of space was crammed full of electronics and such. If part of one system blew up, it could take two or three other components with it. He had been assured that certain parts had been modified to make sure they would not explode and that others had an armored covering which should protect them if something next to them fragmented or blew up. He didn’t like the words “should” and “make sure they would not explode”. Devices and humans had a bad habit of doing things they should not.
The ship did not have much in the way of weapons just two double lasers and a larger maser just a little bigger then the lasers. The maser was on a turret located on the belly. The lasers were stationary and located at the front portion of each wing. It did have strong shielding though and dozens of anti-missile rockets and electronic defenses. He would have the shields turned off for the mission however. The little ship’s main ordinance was located on its belly. Usually it would carry four ship killer missiles, or eight of the smaller ones, but this time it had something special.
The design and building of this prototype had finished significantly ahead of schedule for a change, so High Admiral Jackson had decided to use it for this. It would show what the new fighter could do. How it could be used. That was why after just the basics of training, mostly simulators and actually piloting the ship three times, he now piloted it in stealth mode.
Even with passive sensors he could see his target sitting in a parking orbit. There were a lot of smaller craft flitting around it. Some were patrol ships guarding the new ship, while others probably were cargo shuttles. There were also civilian craft and other patrol ships on guard paths further out. With just the passive sensors it was hard to be sure which ships were which at this range though. This was true with his eyes also since even with the magnification mode on his helmet, the ships were just moving pinpoints of light at this distance. He would be able to tell with full sensors of course but they would be able to detect it if he “painted” the target with them. With so many other ships, including quite a few civilian ships, it might be a little hard to detect just another set of sensors but with the heighten security around the target bit would not be worth the chance. Also his would be military grade sensors which would attract even more attention. Some alert sensor officer could follow the beams back to their source, him. That would not do at all.
His mission was deceptively simple, get in launch his special ordinance at this new ship about to begin its maiden cruise and get out all without being detected. A piece of cake, as he had told everyone. That was why he had started this mission a large distance from the planet and after building up his speed he had turned off the drives. They could not be detected if they were on stand by. Now he was coasting using his inertia and the planet’s gravity to get him in on time. Not only did he have to get in without being detected or seen but he had to be at the launch point at a certain time. This was so his ordinance would hit its target at a certain time. He had allowed himself just a few seconds leeway since, as he had kept saying, this was a piece of cake.
A few minutes later he adjusted his course slightly. It just got harder; he couldn’t approach too close to the target since there was the heighten security and since there were a number of other ships around it. Some were stationed in one location while others were moving along certain courses. A few of the ships further out were zipping this way and that as if their pilots could not make up their minds where they wanted to be.
After another minute one of the small ships zipping about suddenly cut him off. It just came out of no where, zipped right in front of him, slowed down quickly then stopped. One second his front window looked clear and then it was full of ship. He had to make a sudden turn to his right to avoid running into it. He used the thrusters located on his wing tips to make the turn. He gently fed power to the thrusters at the same time he banked. As his small craft curved to starboard, he got a close look, though his view screen, of the paint job on the civilian vessel. It looked kind of neat actually with reds, greens and a
certain round red and yellow logo painted here and there. It, however, was a closer look then he wanted.
When his ship came out of the curve and straighten out his course he thought about the close call there. Not what he had expected. Two-seconds later he jerked as the realization hit that he hadn’t turned off the thrusters and that his ship still moved in the wrong direction. Or had he? He thought he remembered doing it. Whatever, he reached for the control, ran his fingers down the virtual power control too fast and his finger went past the end, almost hitting another control. That would not have been good.
He spent a second hoping the longer thruster run did not attract anyone’s attention. The energy produced by thrusters that small should not be easily seen unless someone with powerful sensors happened to be looking straight at him. With the security as tight as it was around here that could have happened. Than again with so many thrusters and drives in action his could go undetected.
Nothing he could do about it through, so he decided to ignore the possibility until and if it was proven true. He had to get back to his course. He pivoted the ship until its nose pointed toward the planet. He let the gravity do the work for his drives.

end segment

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Third and final part of my Dragon tale

If you have not seen them, parts one and two are just done the scrolling bar.

At one time I thought about doing a series of stories about these three, mostly with Star and Penny. But I have only one done, with just Star. A zombie story where zombies appear on a collage campus when someone reads a very ancient curse in its original language. That is the reason for the way I ended it like I did. The ending could use some help but it's easy to get the gist of it. And it does have a bit of horror and Romance in it.

Because of various real life events I hurried through the revising but it is still more readable than the original version.

I stared, as I saw through the corner of my eye, so did Penny and Billy. I knew we all believed.
A real dragon wearing Jerry’s iron dragon sculpture. We gaped at each other. I looked at Penny and saw a look that said she had figured it out already. I nodded at her indicating I knew she had known all along.
She said, “We need to call the Guard out.”
“And what are we goin’ to say that a honest to Betsy dragon is wearing a dang flak jacket?”
Penny looked at me for help, but I just shrugged my shoulders for he was right. I didn’t know what we could do about a dragon wearing “a dang flak jacket” but I knew if we reported it the authorities they would measured us for jackets of our own. Straight jackets in our case.
Penny’s eyes lit up suddenly.
She said, ”I know what to do. We can sic an iron horse on the iron dragon.”
I started to ask where we would get a train engineer when she continued. “I know how to operate a train engine and I know where we can get one.”
I managed to get out “How did you...?” before she continued, “A guy liked me a while back. He was training to be a train engineer and he taught me how to operate an engine. He thought it would be a good bonding experience for us.”
I wanted to ask if it worked, but she said, “I liked him but I think he felt like it took me too long to come around to his way of thinking. He ended up graduating and moving away for a good paying job. He writes now and then but...” she ended with a shrug of her shoulders.
Billy added, “He wanted her to go with him so they could live together while their relationship grew, then maybe get married.”
She looked surprised that he knew, then shook her head as if to say she didn’t want that. I felt relieved that she didn’t have a boyfriend after all.
I think she saw the relief on my face but she didn’t say anything.
She said, “As I was saying I know where to get an engine. It may be hooked up to only one to three cars but that will be enough. We need some bait on the train tracks at the bottom of a small hill I know of. It’s just outside of where the Roger ranch is. I can get the engine going and as it curves around the top of the hill I can shut done the engine and let the momentum carry the train down the hill. If the dragon is at the bottom I will hit with more iron than is around the dragon.”
Billy said, “I don’t know it sounds tricky and the dragon has to cooperate.”
“If we use the right type of bait it probably will. The dragon where ever he came from probably doesn’t know about trains and we will have your high powered rifle as back up. Its either that or let him attack and kill enough people--your friends--to get the authorities moving,” I said.
“You’re right but I don’t like it.”
“I don’t either but it’s this or sit back and watch it start eating or flaming people. If it hasn’t already.”
“Ok, you sure know how to git to a guy.”
We split up at that point. I gave Penny her helmet along with my jacket and two other pieces of equipment I found in the SUV. She rode off on my motorcycle to find her engine. Before leaving she described the place where we should place the bait. Billy knew the hill’s location so he could find it easily. I watched her go hoping that she would come back alive.
I joined Billy in the SUV and we went on a hunt for cows. The tracks ran by a ranch near the place Penny had chosen, which made it fairly easy to find a few cows close to where Penny wanted them. It wasn’t, however, easy leading them but we managed to get four cows to the bottom of the incline and to tie them down. We used ropes we found in the back of the SUV. The cows fur felt rougher than I knew. Billy took it all in stride, probably because he know both things about cows. I also found out how their fur tasted when one jerked to a stop as I pushed at it. My right hand slipped and I ended up with my face too close to the one I pushed.
They mooed and jerked at the ropes-I had to redo one-but settled down and started chewing on the grass that grew around the tracks. Up close I found that cows stunk more than I expected. Maybe that was why Penny figured the dragon would show up for these cows.
One company had cell phone towers out here which allowed us to keep track of each other. Penny found an older engine ready to go with three cars. She figured the engineers had gone for a bathroom break or ran when the dragon flew overhead.
She later told me that she managed to get through the gate and to get on it for the guards stood happy and ignorant lulled into a slack routine because nothing ever happened out here. One listened to what she assumed was music. No one came to check it out when she started it for they had expected it.
I asked Billy to get a cutting torch ready to go just in case we could cut some of the iron bars off the dragon. I had no idea how we would do that but I wanted to be ready.
With that in mind I readied two items I thought might help. I also kept the grenade even though I doubted the phosphorous would hurt a dragon. Distract it maybe which would be good.
Penny thought the dragon might be flying a pattern, perhaps looking for something or just getting used to the land. If she was right the dragon should be flying over head about the same time we got things set up.
Sure enough five minutes after we had the cows tired up and the cutting touch ready we heard the noise the dragon made while flying. A kind of rumble I had heard twice now. I didn’t know if that meant it was hungry or if it talked to itself. We parked the SUV out of sight and scrambled to separate hiding places near the cows.
The dragon circled the area while the cows went crazy with fear. It dropped down landing on the tracks. So far so good but we needed to keep it there for another minute. Penny was on the way, I could hear it. The cows madly pulled at the ropes trying to escape. They pooped in fear. And sweated. I felt sorry for them. Sweat ran down my back and from under my arms and my hair became matted with it.
At that moment something unexpected happened. The dragon turned in my direction and spoke.
“I can smell you, human. I know this is a trap, but your puny weapons can not harm me especially with this metal armor on. I’m protected just like one of your paltry knights.”
Maybe he did know about guns after all. In either case I could see that the sculpture didn’t cover everything which meant that Billy’s rifle would still work.
When I felt the earth move under me I knew the train was approaching. A second later I wondered why he couldn’t smell Billy. Maybe my after shave attracted him or I sweated more than Billy.
“What weapon do you think would be able to do me harm, oh
puny human.”
Deciding to take a chance I shouted, “Oh great dragon you are right all we have is a horse to fight you with.”
I could hear the train so I knew it even closer.
“A horse! You mean one of those unicorn like animals that you like to ride? How could one of those hurt me?
I knew the dragon still could escape but I didn’t know how to keep it there. Two heartbeats later I realized it sounded egotistical, that gave me an idea.
“Hey, snake face. What happened you make you lucky to come here?”
It reared back lifting its head as high as it could go. I thought oh oh I over did it.
It finally spoke, “It took me years to gather the knowledge to change worlds. You humans don’t know of the other worlds but we dragons do. It has been eons since one of my kind was here but we still talk of your world. I had to use almost all of my strength to come, here I made it, as your eyesight can testify.
“I had looked into this world and spotted this armor. I knew instintly that I would become even more invincible with it on. I almost made it on my first attempt so I knew I could do it. I can do anything I want to even fly with this extra weight.”
So Penny had been right, it needed to eat. That thought of her reminded me that I couldn’t hear the train anymore. It must be curving around the hill and ready to ran down that decline.
I hoped Penny would be all right. She wore my riding jacket as well my extra motorcycle helmet. The padded jacket could protect a rider from a fall so it might protect her. The knee and elbow pads, Jerry used in making his art, would help also I thought. All of that may not be much but at least the padding would protect her if the dragon knocked the engine off the track. It helped that the engine weighed tons, probably even more than the dragon and the sculpture combined. Of course if the dragon used its fire nothing we could do would protect her.
A glance showed me that Billy readied the rifle just in case it looked like the dragon was going to breath fire at her. From his angle he could hit it where no iron protected it. How much harm a bullet from that rifle would do probably depended on where it hit, I thought.
I shouted, “We are going to bring you down with a horse you foolish dragon.”
It reared its head up looking for me. I was right even though it could smell me it didn’t know where I hid. At that moment the engine came whistling down the decline. I heard a gun shot and saw a spark as a bullet hit and ricocheted from one of the iron bars. I heard a second shot followed by a second spark. I knew Billy was just trying to distract the beast.
The dragon said, “Your puny weapon can’t hurt me and neither can your horse.”
I shouted, “Its an iron horse.” as it flapped its wings possibly to take off.
My heart stilled for it looked like the train would just miss when the beast shifted its weight as if it would leap upward. A frozen second later though and the engine hit. I saw and heard the smack as iron hit flesh-even the thick dragon’s skin was still flesh. The horrible noise almost made me sick and I tasted bile for a second. The next heartbeat I heard metal tear as iron bars split. The engine continued on after while the dragon fell to one side and tumbled down the slight rise of the tracks.
I moved as quick as I could and grabbed the two devices I hoped would work on the dragon. One consisted of a huge tube almost as big around as a quarter drum. I could barely lift it as I picked up the second tube, a narrow, long cylinder. Both were colored a faded red and both could be operated by pressing a spray nozzle. I ran up to where the dragon lay. I could see one side was torn and bleeding. I almost gagged from the very strong smell of blood. A second odor I couldn’t identify. I thought it might be burnt skin or dragon musk.
I avoided the blood as I started spraying its chest with fire retardant. I have been told that fire retardant felt cold and it did seem to lower the temperature around its chest. When the larger fire extinguisher run out I grabbed the smaller one and sprayed it around the beast’s head. I don’t know if the form helped or not but the dragon looked more unconscious then just stunned for which I was grateful.
I shouted for Billy. He came running up from his hiding place carrying a small cutting touch. He lit the flame and started cutting the sculpture off. I called Penny. She sounded Ok and the engine was still in one piece.
Billy cut two bars all the way through and had started on a third when the beast shook its head. He dropped the torch and took off stumbling down the incline to a ditch. I backed off as fast as I my legs would move.
The dragon shook its body and tried to lunch itself into the air. It didn’t get very far.
It started raining finally with close lightening bolts.
The beast roared, it then looked at me as I continued to back off.
“You think that is all it would take to stop me. I will heal and I will be back.”
Penny voice came over the phone. I thought I heard her say she would back the train up. I told her not to, it looked too dangerous now. I saw the beast flinch as I heard a gunshot which indicated he hit it this time.
I heard the train in-between the thunder and knew that Penny was backing up for another try. The dragon saw the train backing up and readied itself for what I thought would be a shot of flame. I didn’t have anything except the grenade so I pulled the pin and threw at the dragon.
I thought it would at least distract the dragon. I aimed for the partially cut iron bar hoping the explosion would break it the rest of the way through. The grenade exploded against the beast sending a cloud of burning phosphorus over the dragon and iron. It roared in a way I thought sounded humorous.
“Puny human you thought that would harm me. That burns delightfully.”
Shouting I said “No, I thought it might distract you.”
I heard two gun shots, one right after the other and I saw the beast’s skin ripple where the bullets hit. Its head jerked just before it looked down trying to spot where the bullets came from.
A second later looking straight at the train it tried to take off again. It only managed to gain a few yards of height when the train hit it again along one side. It hadn’t been able to build up much speed or kenitic force but it weighed tons. The dragon flapped a wing but dropped from the sky. It hit the ground some ten yards away. I heard a bar break.
The second it came to a stop the beast stood and roared its defiance. I opened my mouth to tell Billy to try another shot when it launched itself into the air. I wondered how it could fly with one side torn apart, it leaked blood from more than one spot, and other injuries. I stared and saw that neither wing had been injured. Maybe that was how it could still fly and just plain determination.
Just as Billy came running up to get a good shot at it lightning hit it. The beast screamed joined with the thunder and blast as the bolt’s power went through it. I thought its roars earlier sounded loud but this one was so loud I covered my ears. I stumbled backward while Billy slipped further down a hillock. I hoped Penny was safe in the cab of the engine.
I smelled burnt meat and burnt metal, making me hungry and nauseous at the same time. The dragon tried to keep flying but failed as another bolt hit one of the iron bars. It screamed again, or it looked like it did. I couldn’t hear after that last thunder clap.
The dragon fell to the ground and after one attempt to raise its head it lay still. I moved closer before backing off again as it moved. A few seconds later it relaxed just before the body started to disappear. Slowly a section at a time it vanished. What was left of the sculpture collapsed to the ground. I stood there staring at it with rain running down my face. From what I could see no part of the dragon remained, hopefully it went back to where ever it came from. Later after a thorough search we decided all of its blood and the torn pieces of flesh had gone back with it.
Penny came along at that moment and I smiled when I saw she was Ok. She looked at me and smiled too.
I think she mouthed the words. “I’m Ok Star. Everyone is Ok. We did it!”
Billy came back up holding the rifle like he wanted to make sure the great beast really was gone.
We walked back to the SUV. Neither of us talked mainly because we still couldn’t hear anything. After a short search we found and collected all the equipment lying around. After we loaded it, we piled in the SUV and drove off. Billy took me home.
The next day when I woke, I could hear a little. I explained to my family that I felt fine, I just stood a little too close to a lightning strike. After they made sure I really was all right I went outside wondering how to get back to Jerry’ place.
Penny rode up on my motorcycle and after getting off she said, “We need to get over to Jerry’s.”
Or I think that is what she said, for as I said my hearing
wasn’t completely normal yet. We got on the bike and rode to Jerry’s.
Once there we met with Billy and decided we couldn’t say anything about the dragon. No one would believe us.
“But what do we tell Jerry about what happened to his dragon sculpture?”
Billy said, “We tell him the truth. It got hit by a train. Some egotistical loon-probably from the city-managed to move it and placed it on the track. Then he or someone else stole the engine, and ran into it. Lightning hit it next,” he shrugged, “who knows how some of those big city people think”.
We agreed to that.
At that point Penny said, “I’m glad we all survived.”
I’m sure that she looked at me when she said it too.
She added, “And thanks for the use of your stuff, Star and for throwing that grenade. I’m glad you did.”
I decided to take another chance and I hugged her. I knew she didn’t mind when she hugged me a tight hug back.
I also shook Billy’s hand and she thanked him for coming along and for shooting like he did.
Billy smiled and said, “I couldn’t have done it without each of you.”
After a moment he explained that besides the bar and tack building, an old unused barn and a trailer had been destroyed by fire. A family lived in the trailer but they were all out for the evening so no one had gotten hurt. Most of the townspeople believed lightning strikes, or the same dang fool who took the train for a joy ride started the fires. The only damage to the engine consisted of easily fixed scratches, even though two ran deep. Four cows came up missing from one ranch while three cows and two horses were missing from another. The authorities thought some outsider with a mobile butcher shop might be responsible for the disappearance of the animals.
At the end of the summer break I went home and back to school. I believe that adventure became a turning point for me. Probably because of the chances I took without thinking, but I no longer felt fear when I wanted to take a chance. I took new classes and reached out to other students making more friends then ever before.
The three of us kept in touch with letters and E-mail. I managed to make it back to visit Penny and Billy a few times in the next years. Billy stayed in town, working with Jerry, where he underwent three similar adventures over the next few years.
Penny and I kept in touch regularly with letters and E-mail with an occasional phone call for the next few years. In the next few months we saw each other as much as possible despite a very busy year of studying for me and working for her. We had another adventure and later I ran into other paranormal events alone and even later with her again. Those were the ones I remember more fondly.

The end