Lovers in Space.

The farther you pull back,

The less it all seems to mean,

But looking in on a moment,

Bears all the significance.

 

The lights of a moving carousel,

the smell of pine and fried dough,

Smiles that wont go away,

Standing on the grassy dew covered hill and looking up at the fabric above,’

and wondering.

And not having to wonder alone.

 

Sky rocketing through the clouds and weaving among comets towards the vast uncertainty of the big ocean of reality,

Peering out from the cramped cockpit at a flinging tendril of star energy,

Not minding the close spaces or the empty floating candy wrappers in the cabin,

Or the crumbs, or the love.

There are filters after all.

 

Walking across alien landscapes and marveling together at odd temples covered with blue lichen,

Reaching for each other under a green sky,

and being human in a strange, futuristic land,

on another planet,

in the emptiness of all space,

two specks in the multitudes,

Knowing that when you pull away it all seems like nothing,

But here and now,

Is all that is.

all that is needed.

Nono’s Store

We were all living at Aunt Nono’s store at the time: My Father Kevin and Mother Nancy as well as my Younger brother Ryan. Aunt Nono was in California when it all started so we had no idea where she might have been. The electricity was out for a few months and so we were still getting used to making fires and lighting the old oil lamps Nono kept around the antique store. It had a cozy back room with a fireplace, all wood paneled walls. The front room was about as boring as any store front, and it’s big front windows saw through to the strip mall enclave outside.

I was never a big user of technology and my parents grew up in the 80’s so I don’t think the internet crashes really hit us as bad. Their big thing was the lack of comforts. It took hours to boil the course rice from the bag we salvaged and our clothes stank from lack of any running water to clean them. It bothered me too, but I could see it bothered them more.

But my brother, he never lived in a world without phones and the internet. Even as we sat by the fireplace with the pot boiling rice and the low firelight flickering across our downtrodden faces, he would take out his precious phone and the foreign blue-white LED light would splatter into the dark. His eyes wide and grasping for hope that he would get a connection again. Each time, it became worse to see; I just wanted to take it from him and throw it into the fire, but I could see it gave him hope and that was the resource that could afford any cost.

“Why don’t you just throw that damn thing away!” my mother said. Her face twisted with frustration as she huddled under Aunt Nono’s blanket.

My brother said nothing but clicked refresh on the unopened web page.

“Didn’t you hear your mother!” my Dad said by the firelight. He threw in a leg to an antique chair and the smoke smelled like varnish.

“Maybe it came back up! The government was trying to bring it back in places.”

He clicked refresh again and I could see tears in his eyes. I reached over and put a hand on his. He looked over suddenly with wide eyes.

“You’ll waste the battery.” I said

Slowly he clicked away the screen and put it back in his pocket.

“We’ll try again when we can move.”

The first month or so we had to live this way, sitting by the fire waiting for the rice was full of conversation. We’d reminisce over things and the places we went and how things might get closer to how they were. I always knew that things would never go back to how they were. I didn’t say anything, but I think they knew.

Now we just sat by the fire, watching the flames like the enigma of life. The only sound now the lapping of its magic tenderals on the pot, the snapping of ancient wood, and the occasional bolt of thunder beyond the thin confines of the house. There was no telling if it was natural thunder or not. The silence with each other was a fearful and tense comfort.

We had to find things to occupy ourselves. Nono’s store had a collection of strange knives and I learned pretty well how to throw them and a series of marks embedded into the far wood panels of the wall showed practice. My favorite was a sort of curved knife with a curved handle of bone with a large pommel at the end. I would idly learn how to spin it between my fingers. I taught my brother as well.

“I’m gonna look outside.” I said, standing.

My family looked at me.

“Be careful.” My mom said.

“I’ll look too.” My brother said and got up.

Beyond the thin wooden door was the storefront, still full of junk and antiques which were now of little value except to burn. An old globe, the kind you’d see in old movies in some rich guy’s study, stuck out among brass poles to a disassembled trundle bed. Coffee tables and handcrafted chairs with floral patterns on their cushions from a bygone but not a dissimilar era.

The big glass windows that looked out to the big parking lot showed the rubble and deep holes gouged into the tarmac. The other stores in the old strip mall plaza were dark. Old cars, either smashed into twisted metal or burned to a solemn husk littered the cracked and jaunted pavement. In the distance, a tall building was engulfed in flame. It had been burning for two days.

The sky was clouded with a low overcast that had been present for nearly a month, and tiny speckles of rain formed on the glass panes. Under my poncho and my brother under his blanket, we moved to the window and looked up. Beyond the clouds flashes of orange light could be seen and their mystery was terrifying and out of our control.

The two of us just looked and said nothing for a long moment.

“What do you think is going on?” My brother finally said as booms and rumbles reached our feet.

“I don’t know. The government could be trying to fight them.”

Suddenly an object burst from the clouds far away. Behind it carried a streamer of blue flame and debris broke away and spiraled in streaks of blue.

“look!” My brother said.

The object became more clear, and it seemed to be nearing us. An aircraft of some strange design. I couldn’t see any wings and my brother adjusted his old rayban glasses to see better.

“Get back.” I said as the craft broke apart further, it’s hulk rocketing down.

The craft struck the burning building and the largest part skipped off of it in a shower of fire and rubble. It moved very fast now in our direction and crashed against the smashed pavement at the edge of the parking lot. The sound was a tumult and the ground shuddered under our feet as it came to rest at the far end of the plaza.

From what I could see, it was not a government plane or design at all. Wordlessly we watched it as blue flames rose up to the heavens.

From the side a door could be seen opening and we pressed up to the glass to see. Several small blue humanoid creatures exited it and milled about the wreck, they had weapons of some kind and red spines flaring off of their heads. At the distance we were, it was hard to tell what they were doing, but they were the survivors.

“It’s them.” I said, and the primal fear took hold. We looked at each other and both bolted back to our parents.

“We NEED to go.” I said

Mom and Dad both looked up at us, breathing heavy.

“What is it?” My dad said standing.

“A ship or something just fell and some of them  are out there in the plaza.”

We took no time to hurry our things together. The hunger was what lead my dad to strain the half cooked rice, pouring the water over the fire and make for the door last with the pot in his hand. We left the embers for whomever might find it.

The four of us moved swiftly as we could out into the woods next to the highway and we did not stop moving until dawn rose the world into a grey.

Johnny6

<————– Continued from Johnny5

Pat looked out the window. As he furiously smashed buttons on  the observation room console, he swiveled the microphone and spoke.

“Johnny you need to relax.”

Johnny did not respond as the Regallion came into view on the far side of the station.

“Johnny, the combat stims should be wearing off now. Just THINK for a moment.”said Pat.

The ship ponderously turned about and aimed it’s prow directly at the room where Pat was. The energy bursts from the engines fired out from behind and into the vast blackness in the background.

Pat needed to act. Words were not going to work with someone hopped up on solder juice. He needed to use the emergency transporter. Pat stopped pushing buttons, and looked towards the yellow and black bordered glass chamber on the adjacent wall. The empty space spoke only danger to him, and the words of his training instructor came back to him.

The gruff, cropped-top, aviator-sporting pro spoke with the intense authority of a man who was required to give a safety speech. Truth be told the mustachioed fellow did not expect any of the valets to do anything correctly.

“This is the A1-7 transporter. It is very similar to the standard pedestrian model, however it does not have a direct link to any standard receiving portal. In the case of an emergency where a ship is out of control and headed towards the station, this transporter can be used to “board” the out of control ship. It accesses a transporter inside and deposits a subject in there.

Be warned however, that these devices are unstable and can constitute a serious threat if used improperly. Without the exact correct coordinates, a subject will simply dissipate beyond the realm of scientific knowledge.”

A bead of sweat rolled down Pat’s temple. The Regallion approaching the point of no return. The space Valet prepared the A1-7 system, planned out the trajectory of the ship, and pulled himself from his chair.

As fast as his legs could take him, he heaved himself across the room, threw open the door to the chamber, and stepped inside. Through the glass of the window and the chamber, the Regallion continued on, without any sign of deviation, and no word from Johnny.

Inside the chamber was a big red button. On the wall was a red and green light. With the coordinates set, all he needed was to hit the button, just as the ship passed into that place in time and space. Pat tried to watch the dim green light, waiting for it to spark to life, yet the spaceship outside was growing nearer. The flashing lights of the station patrol could be seen forming behind the ship, but they were too far and to late to do anything.

Suddenly the light flashed green and Pat slammed his hand down on the red button. It was not like the other transporter. It did not go “Whirr”, it made a piercing, radioactive “VOIP”, de-atomizing Pat and casting him into the temporary link with the Regallion’s transporter.

Pat found himself in a dark room falling violently into a stack of boxes.Pat felt as though he was the thickness of a five mile piece of string that had been wrapped around a thumbtack. Slowly shaking off the twists in his thoughts and the sudden understanding of pea soup, Pat pushed himself up from the boxes, tripping several times before getting up in the dark. He staggered towards where he thought the door was as his mind came back up to speed.

The door to the small storage closet burst open as Pat fell into a corridor. The hallway had orange rust walls with brown seashell imprinted borders. The carpeting was a guacamole green and the ceiling was white. Along the walls were various portraits of people, and end tables with sky blue or green lamps. The doors were all brown wood with brass knobs.

It was as though whoever designed this ship was fascinated by detour from the early 1970’s.

It phased Pat a moment before he took off, his heavy breaths deepening in his panic to find where the bridge might be in this giant flying house.

magnificentfacilities.wordpress.com

magnificentfacilities.wordpress.com

To be continued…

Johnny5

<———continued from Johnny 4

The Ragallion Quadrant Skipper, broken of it’s restraints, cruised into the digital traffic lanes. The massive ship then unfurled two solar sails, catching the light and radiation to further power the thrusters.

All sorts of bells and whistles were going off in the huge chrome and white cockpit. Johnny jammed the thruster pedal with his boot and slammed the energy retention intake to maximum. A wide smile broke over his face, his eyes bulging, and the veins in his head pulsing. He did not heed any kind of protocol or decorum; simply on manual controls, Johnny’s head pounded with the thoughts a subwoffer might have during a series of deep base drones.

Pat’s voice came over the Radio after a calming series of notes amid the warnings and flashing lights.

“Hey man, I’m gonna try to talk you down. It might be kinda imposable, and you’re probably freaking out a little right now-”

Johnny’s smile and expression remained in his rageful mania as he grasped the controls to the multi-billion Credit vessel. Only his eyes moved, his pinpoint pupils and irises sliding to the right side of his head towards the mic.

“-but, you need to try to think about the consequences to your actions. It’s not to late to just stop and let me take over. You can calm down from this, I’ve seen it, It’s a fail safe for the solders so they don’t go Bonkers, you just need to focus on stopping and calming down.”

Johnny’s brain did not hear a word after “think about the consequences”. He imagined continuing to pilot the vessel across the spaceport towards the docking station. He thought about how when the ship collided with the observation room, the consequence would be a massive explosion.The Regallion was a large ship with thousands of gallons of fuel along with the reactor coils from it’s solar array. The wreckage and destruction would likely result in docking bay 27’s shut down for years.  Surely this would be enough to accomplish his goal of killing Pat.

Gripping the controls and grinding his teeth, he pressed forward on the accelerator. A freighter vessel on an intersecting course pulled up just before the space-ship thundered past, it’s V9-TX main thrusters had the force to send the small (more modern) Carrillion  spinning out into space as the Ragallion blew by.

Johnny thought about how much Pat deserved to die for his transgression and like the pinpoints of his pupils, his vision was in a direct tunnel towards reaching that goal. That was until one thought floated through his narrow gaze. To be fair it was part of a larger feeling. It went something like this:

“killpatkillpatkillpatkillpatkillpatkillpatfasterfasterfasterfasterfasterKill Pat I’m going to explode KILL PAT KILL-”

Like the rest of a dubstep song after the drop, his addled thoughts and anger all crashed together into a cacophony of chaos.

“I’m going to explode.”

Johnny pulled his foot back from the accelerator. His brain was suddenly conflicted.

“But I need to kill Pat.”

“But I’m going to die”

“Why do I need to kill Pat?”

“Because…he …did something”

The Regallion, still at a hideous momentum for the spaceport, hurtled on as docking bay 27 neared.

Johnny4

“WHY DO YOU EVEN HAVE THOSE!!” Johnny squeaked into the mic, sweat beading on his forehead and commingling with the irritated skin on his pimple thing. The vision around the exact point he was looking blended together in faded colors as his pupils shrunk to about half their normal size.

“Hey man, chill out, this isn’t a secure channel.” Said Pat “Just try to find a way to-”

“Did you just tell the guy – you gave combat stimulants to – to calm down?” asked Johnny, the tingling bumping pulsing adrenaline coursing through his dilated veins speeding up now.

“Listen,” Said Pat “you’re going to be fine if you just-”

“No, You listen, I think there is a fundamental flaw in your fucking logic!” Johnny said hunched over the controls, breathing heavy, the frustration of the hangover, the tunnel vision of the stimulants, the sting on his forehead. “I don’t have a freakin’ choice, I’m NOT going to calm down, and I’m going to take the ship in docking bay 556 back, and when I do, I’m gonna RAM IT UP YOUR FUCKING ASS!”. In that moment, the pressure in his head had built up to the point where the bump on his forehead burst open, and a fleck of white shot out and landed on the observation window.

“Johnny-”

Johnny smashed his fist into the button for the mic, his face purple with the onset of a vicious rage. He made his way to the airlock door which opened before him into the dock with the transporter as the lone object in the white paneled room. His boots scuffed against the linoleum floor, the red in his eyes were that of crimson hatred and anxiety.  Blood ran in a small rivulet from his forehead.

(I feel as though here it may be necessary to tell you a little about the drug Pat had unwittedly given his co-worker. What he thought was basic acetaminophen was actually a chemical compound labeled only under the TOP SECRET database at the Federation capital. No one besides high level security forces actually knew it’s chemical name and it’s strict monitoring made it a nearly imposable substance to obtain relationally. Pat had some serious connections, and friends with drug problems. Simply known to the small levels of proliferation, both legal and illicit, the compound was simply called “Stims”.

Stims legal uses were to give to drop troops as they were about to hurtle from an orbital platform through a planet’s atmosphere and immediately into heavy ground combat. The Drug balanced out certain chemicals for peak awareness, pain reduction, endurance, and control.

This had the overall effect of actually heightening one’s metabolism, blood flow, O2 intake, speed, focus, and irritability for one at rest; It’s “control” effects only helpful to those under extreme physical conditions. The depressant effects of the alcohol, the dehydration of the hangover, and his previous irritability commingled with the Stims that had only begun to enter his body. He was beginning to “come up” as it were, but at the “peak” of the combined effects….)

Johnny dropped the ignition key for the Carrilion on the floor and waited on the transporter. A moment later the blue light swirled around him and he was at docking bay 556. He moved like an ape machine, snatching the ignition key for the Quadrant Skipper and stepping through the air locking doors. The Quadrent skipper was a long term space passenger ship, made for the opulent and well to do, like a yatchet or something. This one was named the Regallion.

Johnny moved through the living space, the game tables and puffy couches in recessed areas in the floor passed as unnoticed as the minibar near the cockpit. The valet jumped into the pilot seat, turned the ignition key, punched in the clearance numbers, and ratcheted up the thrusters to full power.

The kinetic energy of the space yacht’s engines scored the rear wall of the spaceport and the ship groaned as the coupling arms fought against their force. A heaving sound of metal would have been heard by Johnny if he was not an ion in a building torrent of anger. Instead, he was just, “aware” that the couplings had broken off and the ship was flung forwards into space.

He had one goal forming in his mind. It began as rational as anyone could be. he was going to bring back the ship needed at the docking bay, collect any tip, and return to pat, very perturbed about the fact that he had been given something he did not expect.

This idea changed in a manner of moments, and although at the time his remark of, quote, “…I’m gonna RAM [the ship from docking bay 556] UP YOUR FUCKING ASS!” was largely an empty threat, it began ringing through his mind. The moment of running the Quadrant Skipper into the observation room, the huge explosion, the crushing metal. It all became….so appealing.

To be continued.

Johnny3

<————— Continued from Johnny2

The Carillion Orion lurched upwards towards the docking bay. Johnny rubbed his eyes to combat the yellow spots which had formed on his vision. The weight of his hangover was a constant pressure but at this point the act of piloting was second nature to him. Carillions all had the same thruster and control layout to each other, and they were a dime a dozen. The seats were big puffy leather; everything clicked into place, the buttons were an old school style, raised lighted cubes which clicked in and out of place. The screens were all a green hue as he input the coordinates and path of motion through the busy space port to the private valet hanger.

“Okay” Said Johnny to himself as a welling in his stomach began to quicken his focus. As the ship made its way, larger ships with outboard docking passed as the blinking lights and windows of the station fluttered by from the huge mass of the floating city.

He eased forward on the long lever at the center console, slowly and deftly navigating between cruisers and digital checkpoints.

Suddenly a Velock Nightwhisp darted out from the underside of the fueling station. It was a smaller ship, modified from the Velock F-75 fightercraft. It blazed across the surface of the station without regard for the Digital Traffic Navigation Systems (DTNS). Several whirrs and whistles went off on the Orion’s consoles and Johnny had only a split second to react. Largely it felt like his body was some other entity but it at least had a better reaction time than his mind. In a flash he somehow changed the guidance to manual and jerked the controls up and back.

The Nightwhisp sped through his pathway, missing inches from each other. Johnny let out a gasp of relief. But, he was now not on his planned trajectory and at any second a similar scenario could occur. Two Station Five interceptors whizzed past moments later in pursuit of the nightwhisp as a large freighter passed overhead. Johnny looked about the cabin at the sensor arrays. They showed no more incoming ships. Calmly he returned to his set course.

“Asshole.” said Johnny, pushing forward on the thrusters towards the large bay of the valet hanger.

The hanger dominated the entire wing of station five, angled metal scaffolding encased several ships which had already been parked. Another Carrilion, a C-class, was detached and slowly made its way out in front of him, but this time with ample room.

Johnny passed the bays to the open one where the other ship left, passing all manor of spacecraft illuminated by orange and yellow lights in their holds.

Shifting the thrusters, he spun the ship around and used the reverse engines to back slowly into the bay. This was without a doubt the hardest part of the job, one hair off or askew could cause the couplings in the bay to miss a sturdy hold on the craft.

Most ships now a days had reverse guidance systems with sensors and correction codes. The Carrilion Orion was by no means a modern craft. It had one camera and a dot in the center. As Johnny jammed the lever to reverse, the screen in front of him lit up and showed the docking bay.

Johnny’s small spike in adrenaline from the near miss with the Nightwhisp commingled with a concern for the yellow spots which seemed to appear on the edge of his vision. The welling in his stomach grew and he felt a tingling in his forearms and fingers as he moved to the joystick next to the main controls. His head still pounded with the dehydration of his hangover as he channeled his energy to use calm, smooth movements. The pimple on his forehead hurt as he concentrated on putting the little red dot exactly on the center of the back wall of the dock.

This precise task frustrated him beyond any reason yet necessity and some divine power flowed through Johnny. Against all the negative factors blaring out for attention, Johnny was surprised with himself as he eased the ship back with perfect precision.

He let out a tired groan and fell back in his chair when he heard the couplings latching onto the fuselage.

The radio suddenly squawked from the controls of the Orion.

“Yo man, bring back the ship in dock 556.”

Johnny recognized the voice as his co-worker Pat.

“Rodger.” he said, disengaging the ignition key and standing very quickly to get to the transporter outside the bay dock.

His head rushed and the yellow flashed before his eyes in a moment of disorientation.

Gaining his bearings, he slammed the button to the radio again and yelled into the mic. “WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU GIVE ME!”

Pat did not reply for a long few seconds.

His voice came back, crackly over the mic of the Carillion.

“Ohhh.”

“OH WHAT!” screamed johnny, the tingling in his arms taking over his shoulders and neck.

“I think…I may have accidentally given you combat stims.”

To be continued

Johnny pt1

Johnny awoke with a hangover and rubbed his fragile forehead as he turned over to his side. His fingers hit a bump that must have formed during the night, and it emitted a sharp sting to his touch.

“Aw shit.” He said, the pain giving him enough sudden motivation to make his way to the bathroom across the one room unit he lived in. Hitting the switch, he examined the source of the pain in the mirror over the sink. His normal goatee had newly formed stubble surrounding it, the blue in his eyes contrasted the deep red surrounding his iris, and beneath his Mohawk, the pain seemed to come from a small white dot surrounded by a slight red discoloration.

As in all instances of any strange bump, Johnny poked at it and assumed it was a pimple or a spider bite. he raised his eyebrows and found that the little basted was on the crease in his forehead as well. The small  tender swell was taught and stung like it was too deep to pop which would have been his next action per protocol, but since he could do nothing now, the word “Whatever” flowed through his addled mind.

His mouth felt like an ashtray caked with dry sugar and so he washed it out with water and for the first time in a while he ran a brush across his teeth and scrubbed away the film of yellow on his tongue. Thats when he saw the time. Luckily he had slept in his work uniform.

Swearing and throwing water on his face, he darted from the bathroom. The true form of his hangover had yet to set in and he operated in a haze on the complete auto pilot of necessity putting on his socks and shoes, slicking his Mohawk to one side and locking the door behind him

The walls were lined with doors marked by sequential numbers which were exact duplicates of his room. the white tiled walls matched the white tiled floors and ceilings. Every few units was a blue light over an emergency phone. The lights passed quickly as Johnny hurried along, his hard rubber boots cloping against the smooth polished floor. His boney knees turning like gears in a dying remote car, pulling his unwilling body garbed in black shorts and polo along the corridor. He came to the transporter already five minutes late. He stepped onto the wide circular pad and in a voip of blue light and energy, Johnny was whisked away.

He arrived at the hub almost instantaneously. His hangover felt like a very real barrier among the lights and sounds. The walking, talking, thinking public made their way to and fro within the giant domed room lined with similar circular disks marked overhead by simple stenciled black numbers surrounded by a square of yellow. He was aware of the extreme tunnel vision he had to put himself in to find the proper numbered transporter. All of his effort was channeled into moving his body in the minimum fashion of correctness for such a public place.

The only thing running through Johnny’s mind was “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhLOOKhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhFORWARDhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh27hhhhhhhhhhhGOhhhhhhhh….”

He stepped through the huge echoy room with the directness of an arrow in flight towards transporter 27, the colors and shapes of other people moving around him in whatever plane of reality they occupied. He was now already 7 minutes late by the time he stepped onto the platform with four or five others.

With a similar Voip, Johnny arrived on a separate transporter which was within a small room with big glass windows overlooking the docking bay where he worked. Beyond the grey bulkheads and infrastructure was the vastness of space, Stars dotted in every direction. Johnny could not notice any of it right now.

“Dude, really? You’re eight minutes late.” came a voice from one of the chairs at the records desk in the far corner.

The invention of the transporter had reduced commute times so much, that despite how relieved everyone was that they would have more time to themselves because of the marvelous advancement, there was no longer an excuse to account for lateness. There was no traffic to be caught in, no accidents, and no problems with individual mechanics. being eight minutes late was like being half an hour late today.

To be continued

Entry Service

Grivo’s ship plummeted through the atmosphere at 5X terminal velocity. From the city floating on the ocean surface of the moon, a thin grey streak ran across the sky.

The metal shutter doors over the windows of the cabin pulled up to reveal the vast emptiness of Ganymede. Silver waves reflected in the rays from the small sun on the horizon. The small furry Gederian pressed up against the window from the dash and looked over the curvature of the moon below. His ears perked up and his spiny tail weaved slowly back and forth. In the distance five circular citadels connected by sturdy bridges floated on the ocean surface: the capital.  Grivo looked over to Lynda who had passed out from her dose of Mox V. She reclined deeply into the passenger seat with a sheepish grin plastered on her face.

Slowly, the lights in the cabin began to return and the glow of various controls on the dash returned. Grivo looked away from the human woman to the dashboard and sat back in the pilot’s seat. On the smart windows, the trajectory of the Ganymede entry services program showed an orange pathway down to the city far below. Grivo hit some switches to bring the electronics back online.

After a few silent minutes the surface was much closer and the curvature of the moon was becoming a flatter angle. The silver metropolis below neared quickly as the ocean waters closed beneath them.

A generic tone came over the speakers and the voice of an automated woman came over the comlink:

“Thank you for choosing the Ganymede entry protocol service. We are happy to report a successful entry. You now have landing permits for Capital City, docking bay 94 on the near side of the main citadel. Your trajectory and velocity can be modulated by the program, but manual control will be restored once a safe operational speed has been achieved.”

Grivo sighed. He looked to the speedometer and leaned back in his seat to wait for the program to take the ship down to the dock.

“Would you like to participate in a short survey to reflect upon the nature of your entry? This can help us fine tune our program to better serve you in the future.”

“No.” said Grivo into the comlink.

There was a short pause before the voice of the woman returned

“Thank you. This survey should not take more than five minutes.”

“No!” said Grivo.

“Question one:” Said the program as the ship hurtled closer towards the city. “On a scale of one to five, one being completely unsatisfied and five being most satisfied, how courteous was your GES representative.”

“Umm. three.” said Grivo as he massaged his temples. Lynda stirred in the passenger seat.

The recorded voice returned. “Question two: How comfortable was your entry experience. One being most uncomfortable and five being-”

“Ahh, are we there yet?” muttered a dazed Lynda.

As the surface neared, Grivo looked back to the speedometer. The speed was unchanged from entry.

” Um three.” Said Grivo into the comlink. He sat up in his seat and looked over the dash.

Lynda laughed “What does that mean?”

“I’m answering this survey. We’re just coming in.”

Lynda settled back into her chair. “Wake me when we land.”

Grivo’s brow furrowed “…But, our speed should have slowed by now.”

The ship shot trough the air of Ganymede towards the city below, now growing larger in the windows.

“Question Three:” Said the automated woman “How successful would you rate the GES program?” Grivo’s eyes flew over the controls and he began to pull back on the throttle. Nothing changed. The city neared before them.

“What?” said Lynda picking her head up.

“We’re coming in too fast!” said Grivo, now flipping switches and trying to pull the controls back.

The voice of the recorded woman was confused. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. On a scale of one to five, how successful would you rate the GES program?”

“I don’t have any control, the program is locking me out.” The city was now much closer. Somewhere in one of the towers below, a worker monitored the ship’s progress. A smile spread across their lips.

“Are you Kidding me!” Lynda said, now bolt upright in her seat. The waves below could be seen lapping against the citadel platform in the sun.

“I need to override the program” said Grivo, suddenly diving below the dashboard near the rudder peddles. He began to claw at the underpannel.

The calm voice returned: “I’m sorry, i didn’t catch that-”

ONE!” yelled Grivo as he threw off the panel and began to pull out wires.

Their altitude continued to plummet as Lynda gripped the armrests of her chair. WIth wide eyes she watched as the silver city infrastructure filled the windows. Grivo pulled out a circuit board form beneath the dash and threw it across the cabin. Lynda rose as the towers below became clear. Speeder car traffic and monorails zoomed below in the tangled cityscape of the growing city below.

“What should I do!?” screamed Lynda looking over to Grivo’s feet sticking out from under the dashboard. The spines on his tail were frayed outwards as he furiously ripped out wires and electronics.

The survey continued. “Question Four: Would you recommend the GES program to any future travelers? Say yes or no.”

“NO!” Grivo yelled, “Take the controls, pull the thruster back and pull up on the wheel!”

The windows and towers were now flying by as the ship hurtled into the city at a blistering speed. Lynda shook away confusion and jumped the center console, grasping the controls with white knuckles and pulling back as far as they would go. The hanger was fast approaching in the main central tower.

The ship rocketed through traffic to the surprise of commuters on the skyway.

Red and blue lights began to flash in front of Grivo’s face as the wires hanging around him shook with the motions of the ship.

“Question five. Would you be willing to donate to the GES in order to reduce the cost of entry? Please say yes or no.”

Lynda closed her eyes and put her whole weight into pulling back on the wheel. Buildings and speeder cars were all around them as Grivo pulled out one last wire from the tangled underpannel. The ship groaned and shook as the craft suddenly hurtled upward at fantastic speed. Lynda held fast to the controls as they shook in her hands. The hanger building loomed in front of them and in a split reaction, Lynda twisted the wheel around. Dampers opened all around the ship and the thrusters dimmed as the craft corkscrewed away from the tower, spinning with velocity out over the city and into the sky. Grivo was flung from under the dash, past Lynda, and into the ceiling.

Lynda pulled back on the throttle and straightened out the ship’s course before letting out a deep sigh. The ship drove high above the metropolis and slowed to a safe and quiet speed.

Lynda crumpled over the dashboard and breathed heavy, the sweat beading on her neck and face.

“We made it.” she said

Grivo let out a manic laugh. Lynda looked back to see him dangling from the ceiling, the spines on his tail stuck into the upholstery.

The automated woman on the comlink returned:

“This concludes the Ganymede entry protocol service. Thank you and enjoy your stay here on Ganymede.”

A touch of backround during descent.

The Drug Lynda had just taken (called “Mox V”) is made and refined from a planet that now shares it’s namesake. When the galactic system was still new. The small, greyish blue planet on the very edge of the system was horrible and arid with little life and no known resources. One plant grew in huge patches on the planet, it became known as the Mox plant. The Mox is a twisting and woody vine that grows in tangled brambles that are attracted to any type of heat but need the liquid of the frozen poles. One of the original research team members sent there by the intra-galactic science corps. noticed that the Mox had within it a compound that could act with certain nuro-receptors of some intelligent life species with, potentially, very interesting effects.

The long and short of it was that this researcher stole several samples of the plant and worked nine years before distilling out the compound. In a total it took the attempts of five methods before it became Mox V as it is known today across the galaxy. The researcher’s second step was to take it themself and study the effects. What the scientist found was that it produced a heavy euphoria accompanied by psychoactive hallucinations and a rush of positive and racing thoughts. The dose they had taken lasted for three days.

The researcher took the remainder of the drug across the star systems to every club rest stop and major city with the help of his roommate and two friends. They sold it cheap, until everything that had been distilled was gone, and the market was clamoring for the drug. It’s saving grace and the biggest reason for it’s success was that it worked in settings of adrenaline or relaxation. Whether dancing or locked into a couch, the drug was phenomenal…and addictive.

Still yet known was that the drug was from Mox V (at the time the planet was called G7875N75) and the strange plants that grew on it. When the research team moved on. The researcher, roommate and two friends took what money they had made and bought property where the plant grew most rampant. Because no known resources were on the planet, it was never claimed. The planet was cheap and in ten years the drug money paid for the planet to be bought and made sovereign in the galactic system. The planet’s only export, deemed illegal by many systems, was the drug Mox V.

Great industrialized distilleries covered the surfice, and all manor of “enthusiasts” make trips there. Some live there. They say that the air is lightly dusted with the purple vapor it produces. The researcher stepped down as the president of the drug planet and left his roommate in charge. But not before emptying out the vast treasury and searching for adventure.

That was how that planet got it’s name, and until recent to our story, it was the only place one could get Mox V in the galaxy.

The researcher was a small Gederian. They are small and have a coat of reddish-tan fur. They closely resemble something canine from old earth but walk on two legs and have opposable thumbs. They lave long ears and a tail with many spines like that of a hedgehog.

The name of the Gedarian researcher was Grivo.

Mox V

“Bing Bong” came a soft and irritating alert from Ganymede Entry Protocol and Services. It echoed around the cabin’s comlink speakers.

“You have successfully downloaded the standard entry package. The standard package is updated every fifteen minutes and has a success rate of sevend-”

Grivo Switched off the comlink  with a curt flick of his wrist on one of the knobs outlined with a neon green on the intricate dash. With another flick of his wrist the little furry alien twisted a neon orange outlined knob. Just as he did so, radio waves from earth’s past brought the sounds of Pink Floyd to the ship in a descending orbit around Jupiter’s most civilized moon colonies.

Grivo reclined back in his pleather chair, stretching out his little arms before crossing them behind his head. The little tufts of fur on his elbows stuck out from the sides of the pilot’s chair. His long ears rubbed against the material before they relaxed about the sides of his face. He let out a deep sigh that whistled between his sharp teeth and finally he crossed his legs.

Lynda on the other hand was suddenly struck with a tense paralysis once more.

Fucking hell, why now. She thought as the moon grew closer. It’s small, it probably barely has an atmosphere. 

She looked down to see her nails digging into the coarse tan fabric of the passenger seat. She looked out the window and saw only madding space or the moon which was now dominating half of their view.

She looked to Grivo. His eyes closed; stomach rising and falling in a soft peace beneath his flight suit.

She felt her knee reflexively bobbing and looked for something to take her mind away from the rising tide. She scratched her elbow. She scratched her jaw. She felt beads of sweat on her brow. She turned suddenly to the little alien.

“Are you always this calm when you’re about to do an atmospheric push.” She said. Her eyes grasping at Grivo to say something to distract her.

“Hmm?” Said Grivo, his eyes opening slightly. “Why aren’t you. You paid for them to do it. Does that not bode well on your nerves?”

“It’s…I’t’s not that I’m nervous…” Said Lynda “I just have a conniption about planetary entries.”  Lynda’s left ankle pocket began to feel very heavy.

Grivo shrugged “It’s just a Lunar entry. Over in three minutes.”

Lynda’s teeth began to chatter, and her skin felt as though she was being bitten by lice .

“I’m trained fully myself. I’ve done it lots of times. Eventually you accept that you’re gonna make it or not.”

Lynda’s eyes groped to the window. Madding space. The moon which was just a pinprick before was now looming before them as they descended. She could make out structures and formations on the surface.

“Don’t worry. Atmosphere entry is way over hyped. I guess you haven’t done it too often, but it’s really not that difficult.”

Lynda’s scalp felt like sandpaper. She let out a irritated breath and reached down into her ankle pocket.

“It’s fine.” She said, scratching with her other hand as she raised a cylindrical device. It had a large metal cylinder with a blue button. A glass chamber at one end became a mouthpiece with a rubber tip at the end.  She stopped to calm herself before  putting the mouthpiece into her mouth. “It’s fine” she breathed. “I have ways to cope.”

She pressed the blue button and a wave of vapor snaked through the glass chamber. She pulled the device away and took a sharp secondary breath before letting her arms fall. She closed her eyes and a plume of vapor spread out into the cabin.

Grivo glanced over to see Lynda fall back into her chair as the smoke trailed from her head. Her arms slumped over the armrests and the cylindrical device fell to the floor. He shrugged and closed his eyes.

Lynda’s eyes opened. They were dilated to the edge of her iris’s. The lights of the cabin waved in and out of focus as the motion outside the window continued beyond care or worry. She felt her body being enveloped by the puffy passenger chair. She laughed as fire began to creep up the windows of the cabin.

Metal-alloy shutter shields lowered  in front of the windows. Blocking out the view. The lights inside the cabin flickered and faded away to darkness as the ship began it’s long and turbulent decent to the surface.

Lynda’s eyes made patterns in the blackness and felt soft swaying nudges in random directions. She giggled as the ship continued on.

Mox V? thought Grivo

There are worse problems. thought Grivo