|The Wizard's House|
The woods were nearly silent. Not a single breeze stirred. The only sound was the gentle hiss of the falling snow. Who knew snow made noise?
He stiffened, but did not turn at the approach of muted footstep in the newly fallen snow. He knew who it was, but that was impossible.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” She came up from behind and wrapped her arms around him. She stood on her toes to rest her chin on his shoulder. He spun around quickly, nearly knocking her to the ground. A look of hurt and confusion washed across her face.
“Lauren! What… How… how are you here?”
“What are you talking about? It’s our honeymoon.”
This time the confused look remained on her face. She pulled away from him, running down an infinitely long tunnel. “Lauren; nonononono, NOOOOO.”
Leftenant Jonathon Walker woke up sobbing. He ripped the electrodes from his body. He tore the breath mask he wore from his face and hurled it at the mirror where he knew his silent observers watched. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed, his body wracked with great heaving shudders.
“You said it would go away. Damnit, you PROMISED!” He heaved a pitcher of water at the mirror. The pitcher shattered, scattering razor edged shards of glass, indistinguishable from the ice.
The door to the room dissolved. “Leftenant, we discussed this. It will take time. A long time. There are drugs… well, we discussed the complications; what that could do to a psionic adept… It will get better John, I promise you that.”
“Just get out. Get the hell OUT.” He threw a pillow at the white clad figure in the doorway. With a patient sigh, Dr. Imuel Kincaid turned and exited, the door rematerialized with the soft crackle of plasma and a faint whiff of ozone. Walker took the remaining pillow and cried himself to sleep.
John pulled on his immaculately polished black knee high boots. He donned a stygian tunic emblazoned with the insignia of the Totenkopf on the epaulets. He checked himself in the mirror and adjusted his black garrison cap, giving it a rakish angle.
Finding everything in order he marched from his quarters and found himself standing before the Squadron Commander's office. Startled, he shook himself. That’s odd. The short walk to the office wasn’t the vaguest blur, not a wisp of a memory. He straightened his tunic and knocked sharply on the jamb, exactly three times.
“Enter,” came a booming voice from within. The plasma field fell and John entered an office not much larger than a single seat lavatory, but opulent by the standards of a battle station. Beyond the squadron leader a plasma window offered a breathtaking view of a waning Earth.
“Ah Leftenant Walker, welcome. Come in boy, come in. Sit down.” John sat in the offered seat; barely noticing that, like all furniture aboard, it was securely fastened to the deck. “Drink? Now now, don’t wince like that. It’s perfectly all right to have a drink in my office. So long as we don’t make it a habit.” He gave a conspiratorial wink to the increasingly uncomfortable young officer as he produced two tumblers and a bottle of double malt scotch.
He raised his glass. “To the Confederacy,” he intoned solemnly.
“To the Confederacy.” He tossed back the drink in imitation of the superior officer. The harsh, brown liquor made him splutter.
The senior officer returned the glasses to a drawer and leaned back in his chair. “I suppose you know why you are here?”
John swallowed deeply, a knot growing in the pit of his stomach. The drink had obviously been meant to relax him for bad news. “Yes, Sir, the nightmares, Sir.”
“Yes. Yes, the nightmares. I have here the doctor’s report.” He tapped a memory tab on his desk. “Care to know what’s in it?”
“Not really, Sir.”
He pushed the tab aside. “Thought not. Well, there’s not much really. Stress, tension, overwork. The usual. You need to relax, son.” The major eyed him carefully. “You need to get laid.”
“Come on, son. I don’t mean to be rude, but it has been two years since her death. I can’t have my best Psi Fighter wallowing in self pity. Lauren wouldn’t have wanted it that way now would she?
He agreed that she wouldn’t have. How would he know what she would want? How did he even know her name? She had been dead a year when I joined the team. Wait a tick, how’d he even know about the marriage. It was kept secret, the entire marriage. If my parents knew, they‘d… He shook off the nagging thought and refocused on the Major.
“I need you here boy,” he tapped a forefinger against his temple, “which is why, effective immediately, you are on administrative leave. Report to the dirtside shuttle in one hour. I will call ahead to make the arrangements. You have three days Earthside and you will enjoy them. There is a new psi pilot coming aboard. A Leftenant Lindsey Carter. She is still dirtside. You may want to look her up and… welcome her to the club, as it were. Do I make myself clear, Leftenant?” The major smiled at him and extended his hand.
John smiled, took his hand and barked, “Yes, Sir.”
“Oh, and Patrick?”
“If you visit Galveston, I suggest you avoid the Tsunami Bar. No use dredging up memories.”
“Yes, Sir.” How the hell did he know where we met?
Two black uniformed men watched the interaction on a holovue. “As you can see Sir, we monitor the ‘pilot’ and give him orders through, what we call marionettes. Characters that follow a predetermined script until jockeyed by a battle commander or a psych tech. Orders, or memories of… shall we say, distractions such as wine, women and song if you will, are uploaded during the brain's desynchronous phase, then triggered during normal waking periods by a marionette.”
“What about the other pilots?”
“All five pilots have interactions worked into their ‘scripts’. With the aid of a marionette, they generally all end up at the officers club together. We can watch them there.”
"Hey, John, how was the trip?” John’s squadron mate, Greggori Rooka asked, slapping him on the back.
John looked puzzled. “I didn’t go…” With a brief shock, the memories came flooding back. Pleasant thoughts of the beaches of Galveston, a wild night of reckless abandon in Port Aransas, wafted through his mind. “… it was great, I met this little devotchka and… well, I’ve never been the kind to kiss and tell,” he leered.
The two men pulled on their flight suits and left the locker room. “Should be an easy one. Just a destroyer off the shores of Europa. I don’t know why they need two of us.”
“You haven’t heard? No, of course you haven’t, you’ve been gone. Felicity cracked up. Synapsed. Armed every atomic torpedo as well as the HEs and thought herself into the Ionian Colony. The Tesla shield held for a while against the blast, but the EMP knocked out the generator. The HEs did the rest. Lost half the colonists to atmospheric exposure. Good thing she didn’t have ferro torpedoes or the losses would have been higher. We‘re going in linked so they can monitor us. Shrinks, I hate ‘em.”
John visibly shuddered and failed to hide a grimace. “I hate links. It’s like somebody’s cutting thin slices of my brain with a rusty piece of corrugated tin.”
"Why the bit about the dreams, the vacation? Why the fiction about the Ionian colony, Doctor?"
“If I may indulge the General; life is not perfect and neither are people. If we went through this with everything registering a dandy, hunky dory, it wouldn’t be long before they started to suspect something was wrong. Even the most tunnel visioned Pollyanna would get suspicious after a while.
If you wish, you may access the project histories; you can see what happened when we manufactured a utopia. The first ‘pilots’ couldn’t handle it. Psi Fighters appeared deep underground; inside mountains… some plunged into the sun. It wasn’t pleasant. At that time, they did not know how to handle themselves.
You see, they could handle their own thought and the PK process, but their brains were still used to making adjustments for their much ‘slower than thought’ bodies. Their bodies could not work at the necessary reaction times and… well, there was unpleasantness. Once we resolved the mind/body interface problem, everything went much more smoothly.”
“Why wasn’t I made aware of this?”
“We didn’t want to skew your objectivity before testing was complete. We had to take the whole project back to the planning stages. Lost a lot of good ships that way…”
“… And a hell of a lot of men!”
“Not men, Sir. ‘Pilots.’”
"All ready, Gregg?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” Greggori sat safely in a stasis couch attached to a psychokinetic amplifier to which John’s ship’s PK amp was slaved.
“I show all green. You link me there; I’ll fire one salvo and you link me back. ‘kay?”
“Roger that. Ready… Linked.”
“Gahhh, that hurts. Go…”
In the hanger bay, the flat black Psi Fighter seemed to shimmer slightly, its sharp lines becoming indistinct. It took on an almost ghost like appearance. For a moment it seemed to disappear altogether when the shimmering effect became more pronounced and abruptly stopped. The little ship had become so cold that a thin coating of ice was created around it as it caused the moisture in the air of the hanger to instantly freeze. Within the hanger bay, it briefly snowed.
In mere seconds, John’s fighter had been sent 149,597,871 kilometres to rendezvous with a destroyer of the Asiatic Alliance that had set up a blockade of the Confederation’s Europan Colony. In that time, the destroyer was engaged and eliminated as a potential threat. The fighter returned unscathed through the hyperreality portal to its cradle in the hanger.
From Patrick’s position as pilot, things were very different. John and Gregg were linked via a neural interface to the PK amplifier. Gregg was acting as the sending savant. John was merely the trigger man on this mission. As the slaved psychic adept, a brilliant flash of pain seared through John’s skull as soon as the mental link connected. He was hit with the full power of an amplified savant.
The small craft travelled that great distance at the speed of thought, virtually in an instant. Once in position, the twin rail guns dropped from their tucked positions beneath the craft's stubby “wings” and locked in the firing position.
John selected a mixed spread of solid iron projectiles interspersed with standard atomics and singularity devices. The iron shot penetrated the ships protective Tesla field and laid a ferromagnetic path for the armed shells to follow.
Neat holes were not only punched through the protective energy screen that was the Tesla shielding by the iron balls, but small singularity devices were dispatched directly behind the armour penetrating shells. The destroyer's defences blazed into action. Too little, too late. Smashing through the now exposed decks of the ship the torpedoes blossomed and revealed a naked singularity, the very heart of a black hole, to the destroyer. Destruction was instantaneous.
The warship was destroyed and the psi fighter and pilot were returned within four seconds of their departure.
The atmosphere of the small bay was evacuated and refreshed. As soon as the all clear signal was given, Greggori rushed in to check on his friend. The hatch of the diminutive craft popped open and John carefully reached out a gloved hand and checked the temperature of the ship‘s skin. Finding it warm enough, he pulled himself out and dropped to the hanger deck.
Ignoring the mental strain of piloting such a craft as well as the resultant physical debt it imposed, John managed to perform his post flight checklist.
He marvelled at the beauty of his ship. Not beauty in any aesthetic sense, but in the functional. The surface was blacker than space. It was difficult to focus on; it was almost as if a steady gaze was deflected from the matte black finish. It seemed to defy a direct look.
For the wallop it packed, it was quite small. The longest portion, the ‘wings’ that produced the amplified psionic field, were a mere seven metres long. The field generated by the amplified telekinetic powers of the savant allowed the ship to slip into hyperreality and move almost anywhere in an instant. The devastating twin rail guns that delivered the grapefruit sized projectiles were only slightly shorter. The central pod that housed the ‘Human Component’, as the pilots jokingly referred to themselves as, was only slightly more than two metres in length. Barely large enough to hold a man. There were no rockets, ion thrusters or other means of propulsion. The telekinetic prowess of the pilots, multiplied a thousand fold was all that was necessary to wage war at any distance. Undetected.
Finishing his inspection, John seemed on the verge of collapse. Gregg stepped forward to support his exhausted buddy. Linked missions took a heavy toll on the slaved pilot. As Gregg stepped up, John noticed that he hesitated briefly, as if someone had spliced the moment together. What the hell was that? John shook his head and took Greggs outstretched arm and let his friend lead him back to his quarters.
"What the hell was that?”
“Nothing to worry about, Sir.” The doctor remarked, unsure if he himself should not worry. “A minor glitch in the system. The ‘pilots’ never notice since they’re caught up in the charade themselves. Nothing at all to worry about, I assure you.”
“I’m not so sure. Did you not see the look on his face when the other ‘pilot’ froze momentarily? He knew something was going on. Maybe not what, but he knew it was definitely something.”
General Sebeka watched the proceedings in consternation. “Why do you bother with the simulated meals? Don’t they get what they need to maintain the organics in the gel pack?”
“It’s not just a matter of providing fuel for the organics, the nutrient drips are delivered at fixed times daily so that the cyclic shift of the glycemic index will appear normal.”
“You mean feelings of hunger and sluggishness?”
“In a sense, that is correct, Sir.”
“Why not just maintain a continuous feed?”
“Pangs of hunger and similar sub cognitive associations with food have been hard wired into us over millions of years of evolution. On a subconscious level he would notice. It would throw of his sense of timing.
Besides, meal times are not merely times to consume sustenance, but a social time as well. While we do provide the framework in the rules of the simulacrum, he maintains his own reality with subtle nudges from us through the marionettes. If we are not using the ‘nettes at the time, they are programmed to play off the scene that he writes as he goes.”
John and squadron mate Lin Carter, carefully made their way through the crowded canteen careful not to tip their overfilled trays and found a table beside a narrow portal with a view of a nearly full Earth. Luna was just appearing on her right.
“How was it,” Lin asked around a forkful of manicotti.
“My head is still splitting.”
“I mean the sortie. How was it?”
“It wasn’t a normal destroyer. It was big. Same configuration, but BIG. Really BIG. I’ve never seen anything like it."
“But it still went boom.”
“Big BOOM.” The two shared a laugh.
“Say, John, I’ve been meaning to ask you something,” Lin paused momentarily while raising her fork to her mouth. “I… Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Why did you stop?”
“Stopped moving. Like you were paralyzed.”
“You just stopped for a moment. I mean stopped. Dead. Stopped. Come to think of it, all the talking in the room stopped for a moment. Everything just… paused.”
Dr. Kincaid savagely grabbed the monitoring technician‘s shoulder. “Oh my god…. Link the ‘Nette. Link the ‘nette NOW!”
“What is it?”
“Please, Sir, not now.”
Lin’s eyes glazed over for the briefest flicker of a moment then became a steady piercing blue gaze. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay? I think that linked job may have been a bit much for you. You should lie down. Maybe see Doc.”
“Don’t patronize me. I know what I saw, I am not going crazy. I have made dozens of links in simulation, both as savant and slaved. This was not a delayed reaction to the link. This was real.”
“…and how many ‘live’ links have you made?”
“Well, just the one yesterday, but the links in sim were all real.”
“Yes, but how many with the PK amp on full?”
“Well, none. But still…,”
“But still, nothing. Listen to yourself. The entire world paused just for you. Sounds like the beginnings of a megalomania delusion if you ask me, but hey, who am I to say.”
“Okay Sweetheart, if it will make you feel better I’ll get checked out.” He reached across the table and cupped her chin in his bear paw mitt.
“That’s all I ask, Loverboy.”
Dr. Kincaid, visibly shaken removed the interface lead from the jack behind his right ear.
“What the hell was that all about?”
“I’m not sure, Sir,” he replied, partly to himself.
General Sebeka regarded the small man contemptuously. “Take an educated guess, Doctor, amuse me,” he said sarcastically.
The little psychiatrist withered beneath the fighting man‘s glare. “Well, if I had to guess, and keep in mind, this is purely speculation; I’d say he’s waking up.”
“What do you mean ‘waking up’?
“I mean just that, Sir. He is becoming aware of his surroundings. His subconscious is beginning to notice the unreality of the simulacrum. If we are not careful, he could become completely cognizant. We hadn’t expected it from Walker.”
“All of our pilot’s abilities were selected for in vitro; it is their high degree of telekinetic prowess we were after, not telepathy. Walker showed far less telepathic ability than the law of averages would suggest a normal person would demonstrate while trying to guess the right symbol from a standard Zener run. In essence, he had negative telepathic ability.”
“I think he may be linking without the aid of the PK amplifier.”
“Linking to what?”
“Not to what, but to whom, Sir.”
“What does that mean?”
“As I said, Sir, I’m not sure. Whatever it is, it can’t be good.”
"4500 kilos. Very good Leftenant. You may bring them back now.”
A thick shadow appeared on the deck, shimmered briefly and resolved itself into a stack of lead plating. The temperature of the room abruptly dropped several degrees.
“So how am I, Doc. Fit for duty?”
Doctor Kincaid made a few notations on his computer, folded it and returned it to his pocket.
“It would seem so.” He gave the young officer a reassuring smile. “Just one more thing. A couple of passes with a Zener set.”
Walker released an exaggerated sigh. “Damnit Doc. What’s the point? I couldn’t predict one pass if you showed me the set.”
“Alright. Go ahead… ummm… star?
After several unsatisfying passes with the Zener deck, Dr. Kincaid replaced them in their box and regarded John Walker coolly. “How are the dreams?”
“They're becoming more frequent. It’s like she’s trying to lead me somewhere, like she’s trying to tell me something.”
Dr. Kincaid pulled the lead out of the socket behind his ear and pondered the holovue. “Look there, Sir. Do you see it?
“No, I don’t… wait, do you meant that Alpha wave spike?”
“Yes, partially anyhow. It’s something we haven’t noticed because we haven’t looked for it. While the Alpha wave shows decreased psychic stimulus, the beta as well as the theta are both highly charged as well.”
“Meaning that he is lying, Sir.”
“Not consciously, but essentially, yes. For some reason he has managed to mask his latent telepathic abilities.”
“What do you make of it?”
“I suggest we take a wait and see posture. He is one of our best pilots and this might just be a surfacing of previously unknown abilities. We can subdue them I’m sure.”
“Should I be worried?”
“I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, Sir.”
Walker's psi fighter winked out of existence from its holding position around the station and instantly reappeared in the war game arena, an area of space above the plane of the elliptic defined as a cube one AU on a side.
Walker's fighter pin wheeled on all three axes, acquired its target, a two meter combat drone, destroyed it and winked back to the station.
This time the target was a derelict freighter. Walker's ship appeared off the starboard bow, spun to orient itself and launched two torpedoes carrying conventional warheads. The projectiles had barely cleared the barrels of the twin rail guns, when the fighter winked out of existence.
“Negative, negative Skippy. Perfect run. 40 out of 40. Hey, what was the deal with the double tap at the end?”
“You saw that?”
“You thought you could hide it from me, Rookie? I taught you everything you know.”
"Gotta keep you on your toes. Hey, how about another assault round with live targets this time. Got to keep loose.”
“No can do, Buddy. The torch guys need to get a little target practice in too, you know. Come on, I‘ll buy you a beer.”
The two friends met up and with the PK amps set low, the two nearly invisible black fighters gently glided back to the battle station, continuously blinking in and out of reality as each pilot tried to out manoeuvre the other to gain a firing solution.
Leftenants Carter, Clark, Silverberg and Pournelle met the two fighter jocks as they left the hanger bay. Falling in step with Walker, Lin slipped her arm in his. She transfixed him with a penetrating stare and asked, “So, how was it? Any problems?”
“Are you kidding,” Greggori said, cutting off John’s reply, “the kid's hotter than ever. You should have…”
“I didn’t ask you,” she replied coldly, “any more lapses in time. Any more… ummm… anomalies?”
“No. No problems. You should have seen me, Lin. I was right on it. Nothing can get past me.”
“Yeah. Okay, flyboy, let’s get that beer.” Lin Carter’s eyes glazed briefly and softened as she walked to the pilots lounge locked arm in arm with her friends. Something briefly flared in John’s mind over Lin’s comment about the beer, but the thought was quickly subsumed in the intoxicating glow of camaraderie. The six made their way to the pilots lounge arm in arm.
The lounge, appropriately named “The Lounge” was little more than an oversized living room with beer and liquor dispensers in a corner. Patrons could use their ident tags to requisition their daily allotment of liquid bliss. An illegal yet largely overlooked and very lucrative black market booze ring had sprung up among the non drinkers.
As it was the shift changeover, the lounge was packed to capacity, but the pilots had their own table, marked with their totenkopf symbol, that was always left open for them. They managed to squeeze around the table that was barely large enough to hold their drinks. “I don’t know, it’s nothing really. I wouldn’t say they’re hallucinations, more like lapses. It’s like time stops for everyone but me.”
“And this has been going on since the linked mission,” Lin asked, taking a sip of her beer.
“Yeah, at least I think so. I don’t know for sure. I guess it’s nothing to worry about. Stress I suppose.” John stared into his untouched whiskey.
Gregg tossed back his vodka and grimaced. “Why do you drink that stuff if you hate it so much,” Lin asked.
“I dunno,” he laughed, “it’s expected of me. Anyway, listen, John, don’t let it get to you. Tomorrow we have a shakedown run. No links. Just a routine run around the game arena to stretch our brains. With only five pilots in the squadron, hell the only ones in the Navy, or anywhere for that matter, there is a lot of pressure on us to perform. Just relax, it’s just the stress getting to you.”
“Yeah,” Bobby Silverberg chimed in, “soon you’ll be nearly as good as me. Piece of cake.”
"Yeah,” Lin added, “piece of cake. Drink up.”
“John? John can you hear me?”
“Do you remember what happened?”
“I’m dreaming again, this isn’t real. They told me I’d have lucid dreams. You’re not real. Dr. Kincaid told me it was survivor’s guilt. It‘s just one of those lucid dreams.”
“If this is a lucid dream, then change it. Fly, dream up dragons and St. Michael. Make me go away.” She said the last bitterly.
“He told me that’s mostly myth. One can be aware of one's dream, but cannot influence it.”
“Perfectly circular reasoning. And if I tell you something only the two of us know, then it is your subconscious telling you?”
“And if I tell you something only I could know, then it’s just an invention of the dream state.”
“Well, usually my dreams aren’t this boring.”
“Very well, if you insist on being an idiot, I’ll have to show you. You won’t like it.”
“Maybe not, but it’s only a dream.”
“Come on, let’s go.” Lauren led him down the corridor of the outer ring of the station. This corridor bothered him less than the others. The closer to the hub, the more of an impression he had of continuously falling down a curved shaft as he could see no farther than ten metres . The outer ring was much wider in diameter and thus he could see farther. It seemed as if he were walking up a never ending hill.
The hangar decks were located in the outer ring to utilize the centripetal effect of the station's rotation to fling the conventional ships out into the void saving precious reaction mass. Though the psi fighters had no propulsion system at all, they were by tradition still housed in the outer rim.
“You never did ask me how I got here.”
“It’s just a dream, what does it matter?”
She released a heavy sigh and stopped before a non-descript door.
“This, as if you didn’t know, is the hanger bay where your squadron, as you call it, is housed.”
“You mean the ships.”
“I mean the squadron. You, the other pilots, the ships, all are housed in here.”
She led him through the door. It didn’t drop, the plasma door didn’t drop. I knew this was a dream.
“Of course the plasma field didn’t drop, it only drops for solid objects. For a Psi Fighter, you have a pretty thick skull. It never ceases to amaze me how you pilot the weapons when you are so obtuse.”
“Then it should have dropped, I am after… hey, I didn’t say anything, how…”
“Telepathy, telekinesis was only one small aspect of your latent abilities. They tried to suppress them, but they failed, as they did in so many other things.”
“… but the door…,”
“John, are you going to listen to me, or stand there spluttering like an idiot?” She waved her hand over a wall pad and flood lamps illuminated the hanger bay. Five pairs of rail guns lay in cradles on the hanger deck. The guns were linked by a sphere a metre in diameter. The sphere bristled with tubing and photokeyleonic sensors.
Above and behind them, a glass panelled booth overlooked the bay. Inside, three black uniformed men, one wearing the rank of a general of the Totenkopf, the second a small man with the insignia of a colonel. The pin of a caduceus over a flaming bomb marked him as a member, a doctor, of the Bioweapons Corps. It was Dr. Kincaid. The third man was an NCO, a Bioweapons technician. The three men appeared to be motionless, but careful observation showed them to be moving, if only minutely, over a long period of time. John watched them for some time.
“What’s wrong with them?”
“Nothing, they are moving at normal speed. It’s you that there is something ‘wrong’ with.”
John continued his survey of the hanger deck. Slowly realization dawned. He stared blankly at the naked guns. “Where are the ships?”
“These are the ships, John.” He began to speak but with slight gesture she silenced him. “Look at this.” She led him to the far left set of guns. “Look here.”
Stencilled on the matte sphere were a series of numbers painted in dull white. “A serial number? So what?”
“Look again, Fly Boy.”
“A09042268. Yeah?” Slowly realization sank in. “Hey, that’s my birthday.”
“And the little lady wins a prize. Not only is that your birthday, but that’s you inside.”
“Now I know I’m dreaming.”
“Don’t believe me? See for yourself.” She tapped the sphere and a small panel slid open. A soft blue glow emanated from within. John bent to peer inside.
“All I can see are a bunch of wires attached to some sort of blobby thing suspended in glowing blue goo.”
“Take a good hard look at the ‘blobby thing’ John.” Her voiced held a hard edge.
“It looks… kind of like… a brain.”
“It is. Yours.”
“Okay, this is ridiculous. This is a dream.”
“Look at me, John. What do you see?”
“I see you, I see… uh, nothing.”
“Right, look at your hands.”
“What the hell? I can’t see my hands. Okay, if it’s not a dream, what is this?”
“Think John. It’s all been an illusion. This is all in your head. All that’s left of you is in there,” she said, indicating the black sphere.
“So, how did you get here?”
“How the hell should I know? Telepathic manifestation, astral projection, the afterlife. All I know is that it took me a long time to find you.”
“But the accident. You’re dead.”
“I’m not dead, John. There was no accident. Those are implanted memories.”
“But, but we met in Galveston.”
“That was real. Mostly. They wanted to breed us; they wanted to develop a strain of telekinetic warriors. I was part of the set up. I went along with it. My duty to the Confederacy. To preserve our way of life. Whatever lines they fed me, I believed them. The accident was designed to separate us and put you in a receptive state for the procedure.” She indicated the sphere with a non existent hand.
“Where are you?”
“I don’t know. Wherever it is, it’s dark John. I don’t like it here, there are… things… here. It took me forever to find you. I think I am being punished for something.”
“I was pregnant John. Pregnant with our son.”
“What? We… What about our son?”
“They took him. They induced labour. They dissected him, John. They killed our son. To find out how his brain worked. Like a lab rat. They wanted to make more like us, like you. Look at what they did to you,” She pointed angrily at the sphere with a non existent finger, “John, if you ever loved me, if you ever felt anything for me, make it right.”
"General, one of the weapons is raising its psi field!” The technician’s fingers flew across his maintenance board.
“Stop it, shut it down. Shut it down, NOW!”
“I’m trying, Sir. I’m trying. It’s… It’s gone.”
“Well, where the hell has it gone?”
“Sir,” the technician began as if he was explaining it to a rather dim five year old, “this is a Mark V psi weapon, it can’t be tracked… oooh, there it is.” He indicated a blip on the projection bearing the designator Ascalon 09042268. It lay just one hundred kilometres from the station.
“Ummm, General? Sir? She’s charging weapons…”
General Vorkosegen’s face went slack. “Oh shi…”
The Confederacy Battle Station, DRACO, winked out of reality as an infinitesimally small singularity was born within her.
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Space_Moose - This is a relatively good story, A few points I would note though is that perhaps a bit more of the details of the environment could be added in dialog between the characters. Also the characters would be more interesting if you talked about minor details of their appearance and actions like what kinds of accents they have and any flaws they might exhibit in their appearance as well. You almost never use any other senses except sight, remember that humans have five senses. Finally, this might not matter to you but it is impossible for humans to go any closer to Jupiter then the Galilean Moon Callisto because Jupiter's magnetic field is so strong it makes incredibly powerful radiation belts around the planet that could kill anyone instantly. No chance of having colonies on Io unless the populations are exclusively robots, but, that's only a minor detail that is not very important. Apart from that, great story.
Some stories get better each time you read them. This is one of them. Keep writing!
As a manufacturer of the Vibram Shoes, it’s the first time for him to produce his own shoes for himself. Vibram Five Fingers is designed according to people’s feet, and the Vibram FiveFingers are not only used in different occasions, but also they do good to our health when you put on them..
Lots of turns to this one... it kept me hooked until the end, wondering what was going on. Nice.
This definitely needs to be a whole lot longer... great story
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