Why Pink? Well it was the first thing my player shuffled up for me today . . .
And I have joyous news.
The ebook is complete and it’s right here = FREE FICTION EBOOK
Now just how frikin cool is that? The picture of the crushed cart is courtesy of Magpie and the rest of the cover was put together by me in a moment of artistic deadline panic yesterday.
If it sucks I take full responsibility, because that's just the kinda guy I am . . .
And my special thanks to all the “Second Saturday Psychos” for contributing your stories and poem.
Once again I have prevailed and it is done and I am proud of it - so there.
Oh, the Green means green light, as in the Ebook is a go and now two of my three big goals for this year are complete!
Goal one was the script - check.
Goal two was the ebook - check.
Goal three is to have my entire “Star Trek: The Next Generation” novel up by Christmas this year - looking green.
And hey, with this latest hurdle hurdled, I may have more time to blog and spew about this and that on occasion.
Now, I do have to say a few words about Absolute Sandman Vol. 1.Get it, is the first thing which comes to mind. The stories are twisted, horrific and humorous. What more could you want.
The tome (for that is what it is, no mere name of book can do it justice) is about ten pounds, leather bound and inside are recoloured extra large pages. This, volume 1, comprises the entire first 20 Sandman issues.
If you stand it on its end in a dark room - I swear, it looks like the Monolith. Gives me the urge to just grab up a bone and crack it over somebody’s head . . . Or, um, shave.
By the way, you can get it relatively cheap at Amazon right now. Mine was under 85 dollars Canadian, shipping included.
I couldn’t be happier with a graphic novel presentation than this one.
Oh, and it would make a wicked (as in good, not “and your dog too”) gift for anyone you know of with a love of Sandman.
So, for today, I’ll join Snoopy in the dance and celebrate another milestone passed.
Until next Monday when I return to the ground . . .
Monday, October 30, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
So I get up this morning all keen and shiny and raring to go . . .
. . . and it’s so darn cold and dark and rainy outside my spirits get damped down like an elephant pissing on a campfire . . .
But I shrug it off and proceed to the final edit of my ebook story. Which is now ready for insertion into the upcoming ebook, kinda like an elephant’s . . .
. . . um, I”ll just leave off with that thought.
I have yet to turn the whole file into a PDF – sort of have my hand hovering over the big red button wondering if it will end in annihilation or success.
I may find out tomorrow, or the day after. If you see a big flash in the distance, it could be my file – or my head exploding.
Wish me luck.
I promised I wouldn’t drone on about my career change until next year. So I won’t.
Not a lot more to say. Ebook should be a go for next Monday. You may even be able to download it and give it a read then.
If there is no smoke on the horizon that is.
Until next Monday when you will know if the work is complete, or ends up like a elephant’s . . .
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Drone: Chapter Seven
by Paul Darcy
"Reginald Barclay, please wake up," the Enterprise computer voice insisted a second time.
"Huh, what?" Barclay tossed in his bed, his mind beginning its ascent towards consciousness. "Oh." Barclay realized where he was. "Computer, lights."
The room was illuminated and Barclay grudgingly sat up in his bed. Rubbing his eyes with the palms of his hands he tried forcing the tiredness from his mind. If he could only catch another hour of sleep, but he couldn't let Julie-Anne down. He had made her a promise and he would keep it, if he could.
He took in a few deep breathes and tried a few stretches then left the comfort and security of his bed. After fishing in a drawer for a few minutes Barclay found a clean uniform and quickly dressed. He took his com badge which was on the end table and fastened it to his shirt. He then headed into the bathroom where he shaved and applied his deodorant by pulling out the sides of his uniform so he didn't have to take it off. He looked at his reflection, combed his heir with his fingers, and decided he was ready.
Fifteen minutes later he stepped into the arboretum. The fresh scents of soil and blooming flowers always reminded him of earth. The regulated air in the ship's corridors never smelt quite as good as it did here among the plants.
He absently followed one of the paths for some distance admiring the varied plant life and stopped when he heard the arboretum doors whoosh open. He couldn't see the door now through the thick foliage but almost immediately a voice called out and Barclay recognized it as Julie-Anne's. "Mr. Barclay, are you here?"
"Yes," he answered, then added, "follow the first path in, straight ahead of you." As Barclay waited he studied a bright blue hanging flower which looked so much like a pillow; it was round and fluffy.
"Sorry I'm late," Julie-Anne said rather too loudly.
Barclay snapped awake. He must have been daydreaming for a moment. She was talking to him. "I couldn't get away very quickly," she continued.
"That's Okay, I wasn't waiting long." Barclay watched as Julie-Anne opened a pack she was carrying, removed a computer pad and offered it to him.
"These are all the specifications for Apur." She said.
"Ah, good. Let's have a look." Barclay reached out and took the offered pad and quickly called up the information contained within it. He could not do more than scan details and compare them to his memory of agrav design, but he did notice some differences already.
"Do you think you can find him?" Julie-Anne, with the impatience and enthusiasm of youth, prompting Barclay as if he would have assessed the information and already arrived at a solution.
"Ah, well. I have noted some differences, but it will take more analysis than I can make from memory. What we need is a workstation where we can run tests and comparisons. And I think I know just the workstation for the job."
"In Engineering?" Julie-Anne quickly asked before Barclay could tell her.
"No, but this workstation is as good, if not better, than those in Engineering. Come on." Barclay lead the way out of the arboretum with Julie-Anne trailing. Soon they were in the corridor.
"On the Bridge?" Julie-Anne prodded again, though she didn't really think they would go to the Bridge. But where else, if not in Engineering, could they find a workstation. Maybe Sickbay?
"No, we can't be as conspicuous as that. Besides, the captain has standing orders to allow no children on the Bridge. Actually, the best workstation on the Enterprise is in Data's quarters. He has a fully functional science station setup tied directly into the ships computer systems.”
"But I thought you said Data was not going to be back for a long time. Is it Okay to use his workstation when he doesn't know?" Julie-Anne was thrilled by the idea of visiting Data's quarters but it somehow didn't feel right without his permission.
Barclay's face looked deep in thought before he answered. "I don't think Data will mind. In fact he has given me the access code to his quarters because I look after Spot for him when he is on an extended assignment, like now." Barclay and Julie-Anne had reached a turbo lift. They entered and Barclay called for the personnel deck where they would find Data's quarters.
"What is Spot?" Julie-Anne asked.
"Oh, I should have said. Spot is Data's cat. She is not very friendly to most of the crew I'm afraid, but she does like me. I'm sure she will like you too." Barclay certainly hoped so. He would feel terrible if Julie-Anne returned to her parents with cuts and scratches. He had witnessed other crew members suffer the cat's ornery nature, but he was sure it was because they didn't know how to handle a cat and not from any hostile intentions from Spot.
Julie-Anne was excited about all the information on Data she was learning from Mr. Barclay. He seemed to have a lot of knowledge about Data and she guessed that they must be friends. She hoped that maybe one day she would be Data's friend also. And he had a cat, named Spot? She wondered if Apur would want a pet. Maybe, once they had found him, she would ask him.
The turbolift doors opened and she followed Barclay to Data's door though she knew exactly where it was. This corridor was familiar to her.
Julie-Anne waited patiently while Barclay keyed in Data's access code. The door opened and Barclay stepped inside. Julie-Anne followed, her heart rate rising slightly as though she were entering a holy forbidden shrine.
She looked around in wonder and the first thing which caught her eye was a painting sitting on an easel. She did not expect to see that. Julie-Anne took art classes in school but never would have dreamed that Data, an android, would be interested in painting. She was beginning to realize how complex Data must be. Though she believed Apur was an android like Data she could see now that that was not so.
Barclay sat down at Data's workstation and downloaded the computer pads information into the workstation's memory. Julie-Anne was taking a closer look at the painting when something brushed against her leg making her jump. Looking down, she saw an orange dappled animal. Data's cat, Spot. The cat returned and bumped into her leg again, then turned and bumped into her again. She squatted down and patted its head and it began to purr.
"I think Spot likes you," Barclay said from the workstation chair.
"I've never had a cat before, though we have had chances to play with them in school on occasion. I think they are neat." She petted Spot some more with no adverse reactions on the cat's part. Spot appeared to be enjoying the attention.
"Perhaps you could get Spot his food from the replicator. Try feline supplement number twenty-seven. I think she likes that one best." Barclay smiled as Julie-Anne walked to the replicator with Spot swatting at her heels. The workstation beeped quietly beside him. The data had been transferred and analysed.
Barclay read the readouts and then addressed Julie-Anne. "The cross analysis between your design and a regular agrav unit is complete. I am having the computer display the detectible differences so we can program a tricorder to pick out exactly what we are looking for. Finding Apur after that should not take us too long." I hope, added Barclay to himself.
"Thanks, Mr. Barclay. I'm not sure I would ever have found Apur by myself. You are being so good to me." Apur had gotten out of control and she felt stupid for letting it happen. She would make sure, once he was found that it wouldn't happen again.
Spot followed Julie-Anne to the replicator and pounced at her heels a couple of times. She wondered how old the cat was to still be so playful. At the replicator she asked, "feline supplement number twenty-seven please." A dish filled with a brownish lumpy mass materialized in the replicator slot and Julie-Anne reached out and took it. It smelled of fish, but she couldn't tell which kind and to her it didn't look appetizing in the least, but when she glanced down at Spot she could see the cat eagerly liking its chops in anticipation. "You are hungry, aren't you," she asked and received a meow from Spot in response as though the cat had understood her.
Julie-Anne placed the bowl on the floor and let Spot eat while she moved over to see what Barclay was up to at the workstation. The moment the bowl was on the floor Spot moved in and began to feed.
When she reached Barclay at the workstation she heard the Enterprise computer voice say, "Initial analysis complete. Please specify your next request."
Barclay made his request. "Computer, can you suggest a detection method for locating Apur without detecting any other agrav units aboard the Enterprise?" Barclay gave Julie-Anne a hopeful grin.
A moment later the computer supplied its answer. "Apur can be detected by scanning for low band Theta radiation below the rated agrav unit signature." Barclay grinned again and Julie-Anne smiled widely.
"Well, I think I can set up a tricorder to detect for that, though the sensing range will only be effective up to a couple of decks away, but that shouldn't be a problem. We will just start at the top of the ship and work our way down." Barclay placed his tricorder on the workstation top and popped the casing off of it. Spot chose that moment to leap onto the workstation and supervise Barclay's work and Julie-Anne had to hold Spot back to let Barclay continue. Julie-Anne petted Spot and she began to purr again.
"Mr. Barclay," the captain's voice spoke from Barclay's com badge just as he began to make the necessary delicate adjustments. What could this mean?
He put down the tricorder and touched his com badge. "Go ahead, sir. Captain." Barclay had a bad feeling about this. Could the captain have found out what really happened in the jefferies tube?
"Mr. Barclay. I want you to report to Engineering at once. See chief Argile there and he will instruct you as to what is needed. This is a top priority." The captain's tone left no room for debate.
"Yes, captain. I'm on my way now, sir, captain, sir." Barclay touched his com badge again and broke the channel.
"I'm sorry, Julie-Anne, but I have to go. Ah, do you know how to adjust a tricorder to. . ."
But he trailed off when he saw the lost look on Julie-Anne's face. "I guess not. Don't worry though, I'll be back as soon as I can. If you need me, ah, use the workstation pager." He got up to go, an apologetic look on his face.
Julie-Anne had no words to say. She had hoped they could find Apur right away, but it wasn't to be. She looked at the open tricorder, but didn't know how to adjust them and didn't want to wreck this one. She would have to wait until Barclay returned. She and Spot would have to keep each other company for a while and as if in response to her thoughts Spot moved closer to Julie-Anne and licked her hand. His rough tongue tickled her and she cheered up somewhat.
* * *
Riker strained the shuttle to its limits and the rescue team arrived back at the Enterprise in less time than it had taken them to reach Data and Geordi's position. The doctor and Tomlin were glad to be back, but not necessarily looking forward to anther racing trip to the alien vessel again. Not that Riker was a bad pilot, they just didn't enjoy dodging asteroids at high speed in a shuttle. Accidents could happen, even to the most skilled of pilots.
"Riker to Engineering. Do you have a status report on the shuttle?" Now that the shuttle was safely parked inside the Enterprise, Riker was impatient to have results and now that they had returned he wanted to know what kind of a wait they were in for before a return flight.
"Chief engineer Argile here, sir. We have just started now running the design tests in full and should be able to start construction in half an hour if the designs prove out, longer if adjustments need to be made. The prototype is only seventeen percent metal. I hope that is low enough."
"It has to be. Keep me informed of your progress. Riker out." Riker left the shuttlebay with the doctor and Tomlin. Once inside the turbolift, the doctor headed back to sickbay, Tomlin to engineering to help with the shuttle and Riker went directly to the bridge.
The turbolift doors to the bridge swished open and Riker stepped out onto the bridge. Picard looked over at his first officer. "I've assigned as may people as could be spared to help in the construction of the shuttle. Did Chief Argile indicate how long it would take to construct?" Picard, as well as all the bridge crew, wanted to know.
"The Chief is keeping me updated. They are running the last simulations on the design right now before they start building. It sounds like it could be a few hours yet, sir." Riker looked at the main view screen which was displaying a fuzzy image of the derelict Romulan Warbird.
Picard nodded his head. "How are Geordi and Data holding up?"
"Geordi and Data are somewhat shielded from the radiation inside the alien vessel so radiation shouldn't be a problem. We should be able to get them out when we return. Data has shut down but is okay. He was apparently injured in the attack and his suit was compromised.
Geordi said it looks very much like Borg technology, but if it is Borg he hasn't been able to locate any Borg on it. He is going to continue searching the alien vessel while we build the shuttle. Maybe when we return he will have found out more about the ship."
Picard, Troy and Worf took in all the information with no outward show of emotions. Riker needed something to do while they waited and made a suggestion. "Well, I don't see that we have too much we can do until the shuttle is built. Perhaps we should get a closer look at our Romulan neighbour?" Riker directed the question at Picard nodding his head toward the screen.
"I don't think that would be a good idea just yet, number one. I would rather wait until we have everyone aboard. If this derelict is some sort of trap we wouldn't be of much use to Data and Geordi if we sprang it and couldn't help them." Picard didn't want to risk so much with so many unanswered questions. One away team in trouble was enough he didn't need two.
Picard pursed his lips reading the look on Riker's face. "Don't get me wrong Will. It is an excellent idea. One we will take full advantage of once our situation improves. Let's make Data and Geordi our top priority for now. Besides, I don't think that Romulan warbird is going very far."
The bridge crew looked at the fuzzy image of the warbird uneasily, even destroyed it still represented a threat all too real.
Picard would offered a suggestion of his own. Something he hoped would answer at least one question and give the crew something else to concentrate on while the shuttle was being constructed. "We need not sit idly for the moment though. I would like to know what causes these asteroids to emit so much radiation."
Picard turned around and faced Worf. "Mr. Worf, could you launch a probe to the nearest asteroid, one with drilling capabilities?"
"Aye, sir." Worf, with great efficiency, readied a class one probe with a phaser drill and chemical analysis capabilities.
A few moments later Worf was done. "Probe ready to launch, captain."
"Excellent. Launch the probe at the nearest large asteroid. Maybe we can get the answer to a least one of the mysteries out here." Picard sat back down in his command chair and Will sat down on his right. They watched as the probe travelled in a blurry streak toward the nearest large asteroid.
* * *
Geordi's spirits were lifted significantly from a few minutes ago. Contact with the rescue team had been like a light in the dark. Engineering would design and build a shuttle in no time, his mind already running through the possibilities. He had to stop his mental designs of the shuttle though. He could make much better use of his time recording and investigating this alien ship. The information he gathered here could be very important later, especially if this was an unmanned Borg vessel.
He began to explore again with the tricorder as much as his VISOR. There was still significant interference to make the tricorder effective for only a short range, but it was enough to record what he could of his immediate vicinity. He could gather a great deal of information with the tricorder that the Enterprise may be able to use later. He decided to travel upwards against the slight gravity in the direction he thought the beam weapon was located. The ship was large and there could be a lot to find on other levels higher up. The climb in low gravity was not strenuous but the constant dead ends he had to find ways around were a bother. Whoever designed this vessel certainly didn't plan on doing a lot of walking around in it.
After many dead ends and retracing of steps Geordi found something of interest. If he wasn't mistaken he had climbed almost to the top of the ship and found what looked like the main coupling to what must be the underside of the plasma laser. The laser which destroyed the shuttle and most probably the Tecton as well. It was massive and multi-jointed allowing for many degrees of freedom, but the firing tip was outside the hull through a large opening. He could just make out the outlines of some asteroids drifting by thought the opening. Beside it was what looked to be the main controller although no physical connection between it and the laser was apparent. The main controller was connected to an energy node however, like so many redundant ones seen in Borg ships. The large opening into space would allow the laser to cut a large angle about the ship. Perfect for the type of work it did. Geordi recorded it all in the tricorder.
When Geordi finished taking readings of the laser system he then travelled to where he believed the hull of the shuttle was tractor beamed to. Geordi used the tricorder to find the most likely route to the massive storage area. Closer to open space now his tricorder picked up even more interference and reliable readings were harder to obtain about the internal structure of the ship. It was frustrating and he had to go by guesses some of the way. When he thought he was near he adjusted the tricorder. At first he set it to scan an area of open space inside the vessel, then reasoned that if the storage area was nearly full, he should be scanning for an area of high density instead. He located it quickly after that despite the heavy interference.
The source of high density was unmistakeable, registering somewhere in the order of seven and a half million tons of heavy elements. He followed the readings, which was a feat in itself, and it took him the better part of an hour before he found what he was after. Geordi's mouth dropped open when he was struck by the view. Before him was the biggest storage area he had seen, it made the cargo bays in the Enterprise look like small storage containers.
This area was immense but he recognised the hull metal of the shuttle immediately, shocked to see how it had been stored. The storage area was square as far as he could tell, and the metals collected there appeared as if they had been melted and poured into it from above. The shuttle hull metal had been spread out like it had been squashed under tons of pressure to form a discoloured patch on the upper layer of the stored metal. Almost all of the available storage space was filled with melted, compacted metal.
Whoever built a device that could spread tritanium out like butter must be very advanced, and dangerous. He came to the sudden horrible realization that if the storage area was almost full and this ship may not stay around for long.
As if in answer to his fears the great alien vessel began to move again.
* * *
Riker's communicator beeped and he responded immediately. "Riker here, go ahead."
"Commander, this is chief Argile. The tests proved positive, and as a way of bonus we shaved another percent off the metal content. We have it down to sixteen." Argile was feeling exhausted but very good.
"Good work, chief. How soon before it is ready?" Riker was impatient to get going again.
"How much time do we have, sir?" Argile knew the answer and wondered why he had asked it. Perhaps he was overtired.
"We need it right away. Is five minutes enough time?" Riker was half joking and half wishing.
"Commander, if we begin construction straight away we could have it for you in seven, maybe six hours." Argile began to sweat even though the environmental controls in Engineering were functioning perfectly.
Picard who had been listening to the conversation cut in, a thought coming to him that wouldn't go away. "Mr. Argile, would it be possible to feed all the design information into the computer and have the shuttle built by the computer in the holodeck? With the fully constructed ship in the holo could we not transform the energy patterns to matter and have a real shuttle as a result using the cargo bay transporters? " Picard had thought of this before, but it had always seemed of no practical value, until now. He waited a few moments for Argile to answer.
Argile's reply came with the sound of fingers tapping rapidly on a computer console. "Captain, let me check into that alternative and I will get back to you on the result in a short while."
Argile was already running calculations and cross reference systems when Picard answered. "Thank you Mr. Argile. I will look forward to your answer, shortly." This was Picard's way of saying time was of the essence and everybody knew it.
Picard turned to Worf. "Mr. Worf, anything yet from our probe or Romulan Friends?" Worf looked irritated.
"Nothing, sir. I am still getting large disturbances from the asteroids. More Romulan vessels could be present, but I am unable to tell at this time." Worf tried in earnest to clear up the signals only to find his frustration mounting again and a low growl escaped his throat. "The probe has landed and should be drilling shortly." Worf continued his diligent efforts.
* * *
The Romulan warbird Actos dropped out of warp three hundred kilometres from the Federation facing side of the Altronin asteroid field. The high praetor immediately had the area scanned, intent on leaving the cloaking device in operation until all possible threats were determined.
"Sir," came sub-commander Tralc's verbal report after a sensor sweep. "I am unable to penetrate deeply into the surrounding space. Too much interference. No trace of the Triscome's transponder signal yet and no readings of any other vessels. I will keep scanning. "Sub-commander Tralc continued his endeavours.
High praetor Krintac scanned the last scrambled message from the Triscome again trying to piece together its meaning. The sector was not yet secured, alien ship encountered, engaged. No further message, if there was one it was not decipherable through the expected distortion from the field. High-commander Krintac furrowed his brow. "Begin a sector scan in large sweeps. Let me know the moment anything is encountered. Let the Falcrin know of our plans also. They should be with us in less than two days"
Krintac left the bridge for his chambers. There he would find solace in a glass of brandy. Missions into federation space were often left to incompetents and this was not the first time he had had to go in and repair the damage. He would not make the same mistakes as the captain of the Trisome. He would return to Romulan space, asteroids secured for mining and the Federation none the wiser.
* * *
Apur waited patiently. Determining that the grill was fastened by only six screws, he could remove those in a matter of minutes and attend to the disorganized coloured rectangles in the panel once the remaining life-form had left the area.
Apur did not have long to wait. After six minutes, the life-form moved away down the corridor. Apur then quickly scanned and found no other life-forms present and began removing the six screws, neatly and efficiently.
When the final screw was removed and orderly placed, he grabbed the grill and pulled it away from the wall. It came away easily. Apur placed it along side the six ordered screws and scanned once more for life-forms. None were in the area and he moved into the hall and in front of the panel of coloured rectangles.
The entire panel was now in the line of Apur's optical sensors and he easily calculated the proper order they should be arranged in. Without hesitation Apur rapidly made the changes to the configuration. Several panels beside the one he was working on erupted in sparks.
Suddenly alarms sounded throughout the ship but Apur worked on ignoring them until his job, which only took him a minute, was done. Apur observed his work, saw that all was now in order and returned to the Jefferies tube where he replaced the grill and screws the way he had found them.
As Apur finished he scanned two life-forms moving rapidly towards the panel in the corridor he had just organized. Apur, continuing his orders, proceeded farther down the tube looking for more problem areas.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Well, where to begin. So much has been going on the past week - none of it good - that I’m in a bit of a spin.
Lets see, there is my good friend's pet in very serious condition and not likely to pull through (that sucks) . . .
. . . Then another friend at work had his mother fall and break her hip (that sucks too) . . .
. . . And just last night I got a call from my Mother. She broke her wrist in two or three places and is going in to surgery this morning to have a plate put in (the suckage continues) . . .
But, despite all this I have managed to edit most of my ebook submission.
Err, doesn’t sound like much for a whole week, now does it? But, as you can see, I’ve been distracted.
I did manage to clean up the garage, mow the lawn and pick the rat poop out of my daughter’s pet’s cage . . .
. . . I am the master of avoidance. You see, truth is I have a funny feeling the ebook is going to be much less than I had hoped.
The content will be well worth your read, and passing it on to hundreds of thousands of others, but the layout may be an example of suckification in the extreme. I struggle with hyperlinks - not even that hard - and don’t even get me started on those cool features like hovering summaries and click through to exact location in the PDF file thingies . . .
Can you tell I’m a creating-the-PDF dunce. But that is not the point - is it?
The point will be to have an electronically transferable and printable collection of some of our best stories for others to pass around and enjoy.
To that end I will succeed. I just don’t want anybodies hopes to get too high on a professional layout level - because - it ain’t gonna happen.
And no news on my NEW profession yet. Gotta let you stew for another five months on that front yet, so I’ll be putting information on it onto the back burner until next year most likely. Because you don’t want to be reading about a whole lot of nothing until then, do you?
So, the title today of “Fractures” seems to be fitting. Things fall apart, the middle cannot hold - but by hell I’m going to get out some spit and twine and make sure it doesn’t go to complete hell.
Wish me luck.
Oh, and this Wednesday another chapter of my novel is going up. Missed last week on purpose - too much going on - and I will still make Christmas deadline on it.
Take care until next Monday where I hope to post a title like . . .
Mended, or Satisfaction or Deep Fried Iguana Eyes.
Monday, October 09, 2006
for not getting more done this week, but . . .
. . . our washing machine decided to blow its transmission - and they cost about as much as one for a car - so we chucked it and bought a new one and are desperately trying to catch up on the laundry.
. . . and my daughter has been suffering from a cold all week not letting me get much sleep.
. . . and so I’ve been fatigued and not up to much.
There, my whining is done.
Rest assured that tomorrow the regular schedule will resume and I will get to cracking on that ebook (10 stories) . . .
. . . Which reminds me. I haven’t picked a cover art yet from M so you don't get to see it today but you will next week - unless the drier blows a clutch or something.
Oh, and happy Gobble Gobble day out there . . .
I am such a turkey!
Now it's time for me to enjoy the holiday - much to do about everything.
Until next Monday when you should get a “real” update.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Drone: Chapter Six
by Paul Darcy
Picard listened as Riker finished his conversation with Barclay. It would appear that the forward shields were now operational and so far no ship, cube-like or otherwise, had followed them from the asteroid field. Picard didn't know wether to feel relieved or not. Rising from his command chair, he moved forward and joined Riker behind the ops station. Any response to their message from Starfleet would take too long to reach the Enterprise and Picard wasn't about to wait. Turning partially around, Picard spoke. "Mr. Worf, please send another message to Starfleet. Inform them we are returning to the asteroid field and will contact them again when we are able."
Taking a deep breath, the captain moved back toward his command chair but remained standing. "Ensign, Mahoney. I want you to manoeuvre the Enterprise as deeply into the asteroid field as is safely possible. Farther, if you can."
"Aye, sir." Came Mahoney's eager reply. The ensign quickly plotted a course and began to move the Enterprise.
Picard addressed his first officer. "I take it Mr. Barclay has returned our shields to normal?" He already knew the answer to this question but wanted it confirmed non the less.
Will glanced at Worf who performed a quick check and nodded back at Will. "Yes, sir. All shield functions are normal. Mr. Barclay will not be conducting any more tests today." Will said with conviction and a bit of sarcasm.
Picard raised his eyebrows slightly and continued. "Well, then, we should be back in the asteroid field momentarily, and since you were so keen on leading the rescue, number one, I want you and Dr. Crusher and whomever else you need to take out a shuttle and recover Data and Geordi."
Riker grinned like a wolf that had just spied a large lone sheep and nearly ran from the bridge. He was tapping his communicator and calling the Doctor as the turbolift doors closed on him. Picard had always known Will was more a man of action as he himself had once been in his earlier years. A distant painful memory made him think of the artificial heart beating in his chest and he secretly hoped Will would be careful. Enough damage had been done already.
Ensign Mahoney had plotted his best course into the asteroid field and managed to nestle the Enterprise quite a distance amongst the tumbling rocks, but was having difficulty getting any farther. He had squeezed them in as far as was physically possible while still retaining some margin of safety, though a small one. He stopped the ship and waited for further orders.
Worf's voice broke the relative quiet of the bridge and ensign Mahoney relaxed slightly as the Klingon's words were directed towards the captain not himself. "Captain, the derelict warbird has drifted farther and is now fairly close to our current position." Ensign Mahoney confirmed that with a check of his own. The readings from the derelict were so faint that he had first mistaken it for a small asteroid. He would have to watch such things in the future. Looking at the readings again, he could tell it was completely dead in space. It had moved, but definitely not of its own power.
"Worf, are you sure there are no life signs from that Romulan ship?" Picard asked Worf as he decided to sit in his command chair.
Worf checked again to confirm. "No life signs, sir, but this could be a trick to lure an away team over to the wreck. That alien vessel could be a new Romulan weapon and this," Worf indicated the destroyed Romulan vessel barley registering on the main viewer, "could have been a target ship. If that is so then other Romulan ships may be in the area, and cloaked. We would not be able to tell through all of this interference." Worf offered Picard a lot of speculation and the captain could well imagine Worf going over all the possibilities and deciding to voice his opinions. Any comments from his crew could be worthwhile, but Picard had to keep in mind that, where the Romulans were concerned, Worf had a special animosity and could be jumping to conclusions. Like he had about the possibility of the Borg?
Picard, hand on mouth, twisted sideways in his chair before he commented. "Then, if this is a Romulan ploy, would they destroy one of their own warbirds? And to what end? To lure us to it? If the Romulans wanted us in a trap they could easily have sprung one upon us by now. No, let us assume that the - alien vessel - the same one that destroyed the Tecton also destroyed this Romulan warbird and attacked our shuttle. That would leave us only one question to ask about the Romulans. Why are the Romulans here in this asteroid field in Federation space?"
Worf immediately offered more of his speculations. "Perhaps this asteroid field, with its near impenetrable interference, would be an excellent arena for testing a new weapons or a staging area for an invasion." Picard was growing a little weary of Worf's suppositions. What he needed was solid proof.
"Worf, can our scanners tell us if that warbird is a mock-up?" Picard asked.
Worf's theory seemed to loose its plausibility once he confirmed all the readings he had obtained from the destroyed warbird. He reluctantly reported his findings. "The warbird appears to have been a fully functional vessel as we know them."
Picard now voiced his own opinion. "The Romulans would surely not destroy one of their own warbirds to test a new weapon. I believe what really happened to that ship, the Tecton and our away team was something else entirely. And we will find out what it is, of that I have no doubt" Nobody offered any other comments. Picard crossed his arms and leaned back into his chair, trying his best to relax. He resisted the urge to call Will. The rescue team would report as soon as they left the Enterprise and had something to report.
A moment later, Picard uncrossed his arms and began to idly drum his fingers on his console, staring at the fuzzy images on the main viewer.
* * *
Riker sat in shuttle three in the main shuttlebay unnecessarily checking shuttle systems. He paused, looked across the bay, but didn't see anybody coming yet. He touched his communicator. "Riker to Dr. Crusher and ensign Tomlin, are you ready yet?" Riker was slightly annoyed at their tardiness and tried not to let it show in the tone of his voice, but suspected that he had failed.
"We'll be right there, commander. Tomlin and I had to stop off in engineering to gather the proper supplies for commander Data, sorry." Crusher was also trying not to sound irritate but failed as well. Both she and Will had fears that this mission would be more one of recovery, as apposed to rescue, and it was affecting them.
In a few moments the doors to the shuttlebay whooshed open and admitted Dr. Crusher carrying an assortment of medical supplies. Ensign Tomlin accompanied her and carried a large metal briefcase.
Once Tomlin and Crusher arrived beside the shuttle Riker stepped out and forwarded an apology to them. "Sorry I was so short with you two. I should have realised that Data would need special care."
"That's all right, Will," the doctor answered for them. "We are just as upset as you are." All three quietly entered the shuttle and, once settled, Riker contacted the shuttlebay operator who promptly opened the shuttlebay doors.
The shuttle launched from the Enterprise like a bee from the hive. Riker, though he seldom had the opportunity, enjoyed piloting. If his mind weren't so absorbed with other thoughts at the moment, he might have even found flying into the asteroid field exhilarating. Riker wasted little time in achieving maximum safe velocity.
Back on the bridge, Picard had waited for what he felt was long enough. He had promised himself that he would allow Will to call first but he could not sit idly any longer. He checked. It had only been ten minutes since Riker had left the bridge. It seemed like an hour. He touched his command console. He noted the shuttle had cleared the Enterprise a minute ago. "Picard to Riker. How do things look out there, Will?"
Will's voice came through with a slight static background for accompaniment. The shuttle was not far enough out from the Enterprise for the interference to significantly hamper the signal yet. "If you are asking if I see any Romulans, Captain, that's a negative. We are just entering some denser sections of the asteroid field now, and should be at Geordi and Data's last location in about, twenty minutes. We'll keep you informed of our progress. Riker out."
The captain felt it necessary to give the away team one last set of orders. "Good luck. And if you encounter the alien vessel, do not engage. Return at once."
"Understood." answered Riker, and then there was nothing left but to wait for the rescue team to call them with any further information. Picard pulled his uniform down tight and waited. He hated waiting, but sometimes, it seemed, there was nothing else he could do.
* * *
"So this is the inside of the Altronin asteroid field?" Dr. Crusher looked out of the shuttle's windows and asked more to break the uneasy silence than anything else.
Will was busy manoeuvring the shuttle, so it was ensign Tomlin that answered. "Ya, this field is only six thousand years old. Barely a flash in the history of the universe. Still it is incredible though, such power in this star's nova to literally tear the planets into asteroids. One very odd thing though, the radiation readings in this field are extremely high." Tomlin was looking now at his readouts and spoke his last sentence so quietly that the doctor and Riker didn't even hear him.
The doctor began to busy herself, checking through her medical supplies and equipment. It all appeared to be in perfect working order, for the third time.
Tomlin addressed Riker with some of his findings. "Radiation levels reaching point five of shield maximum, commander. It seems that the closer we fly to any particular asteroid the higher the radiation level as though we were experiencing severe electromagnetic feedback."
Riker turned his head slightly to reply keeping most of his attention on piloting the shuttle. "Record all that information for review later. It might give us a clue. And keep us informed of any dangerous radiation levels." Riker smiled after giving his orders, remembering his junior years and eagerness. Tomlin responded by paying even more attention to the readouts.
"Riker to Enterprise, we will reach the last recorded shuttle coordinates in ten minutes. Also we are experiencing very high radiation levels the closer we get to any of the asteroids."
"Can you see anything visually yet?" Picard's reply was growing steadily more garbled with distance, but Riker could still make him out.
"Nothing yet sir, I'll let you know the second I do." Riker dodged several more asteroids while Tomlin busied himself recording the radiation fluctuations. The doctor sat quietly, her inspection complete.
* * *
Barclay watched Julie-Anne's animated face. "Then I attached two type three manipulator arms with micro servo controllers onto the agrav unit and interfaced it optically with Apur's brain so he would have full control of the limbs." Julie-Anne finished her detailed description of Apur for Barclay in the hopes that he would think of a way for them to find him quickly.
Prusing his lips, Barclay nodded his head. He had decided that informing the captain of Apur would only compound his problems right now. It would appear that Julie-Anne, however young, was capable of creating Apur as she had just described him. Their immediate concern was to locate the errant robot before it caused any more minor problems. He had also gleamed form Julie-Anne that the programming she had done to Apur's brain would alow it to learn and adapt. It had also been clear from their conversation that she had ordered Apur not to be seen, which would complicate things.
"Well, that is very fascinating. I'm sure your teacher and parents will be very proud of your achievement. Apur sounds like a very intelligent ro..... android." Barclay had to be careful in choosing his words. Julie-Anne seemed very sensitive about making sure Apur was acknowledged as an android, like Data. She was so certain that Apur was sentient, and for all he knew, maybe she was right. Apur had managed to enter the jefferies tube, avoid any contact or notice from the ship's personnel while rearranging his work.
"What I'm going to need from you, Julie-Anne, are all the schematics of Apur. I know the construction of a normal agrav unit but it sounds like you've made considerable alterations. The specific details are necessary if we want to create and accurate detector. We need to devise something specific for Apur or we will detect every agrav unit on the ship, and there are an awful lot of them. I know, I perform diagnostics on them occasionally." Barclay's mind was beginning to fog from lack of sleep. He was hoping she could get the information soon and that a solution would be found rapidly.
Julie-Anne's expression suddenly changed. "I almost forgot. I have to meet my parents for lunch. But as soon as its over, I will go and get the designs. I can meet you in the arboretum in, say, two hours?"
"That sounds okay. I'll see you then, two hours." Barclay watched as Julie-Anne walked away. He was a bit like her when he was a kid. He turned the other way and went off towards his quarters for a couple of hours of much needed sleep.
* * *
Apur, his job completed, scanned the intricate tunnels and found no life forms present. Heading off in no particular direction he began to search for disorder following a downward grade. The sloping tunnels were almost endless and Apur noted that the walls, ceiling and floor were quite regular and so pressed farther downward looking for something to tidy.
After a few hours of travelling, Apur drew close to a grill set in the tunnel wall. His sensors had registered two life forms earlier and he could now tell they were more or less directly opposite this grill. Maybe there was disorder there as there had been the last time he surveyed a stationary life form. Moving up closer to the grill, Apur tuned in and listened to what the life forms were saying.
"Okay, Janson. That completes the shield array diagnostic. I'm heading back to engineering. When you finish the calibrations meet me there."
"No problem. This should only take me another fifteen minutes, or so."
When one life form departed, Apur could detect with his visual sensors a panel holding various small rectangular blocks. These, he noted, were definitely out of order. The colours were not aligned as he thought they should be. Apur was learning to interpret more and more of the life forms language and reasoned, from the conversation he had just heard, that the remaining life form would not be staying in this position indefinitely. Since Apur had been ordered not to be seen, he would have to wait until this one left to begin his work.
Possessing infinite patience, Apur used his time to examine how he might neatly remove the grill so he could replace it exactly as he found it after he finished the job which needed doing beyond.
* * *
Now that the alien vessel had begun to move, Geordi wasted little time in preparing for a look around. He took all of the supplies he could carry, and headed for the interior of the ship, hoping to find answers before it was too late. His first order of business was to try and communicate with the Enterprise. He had to warn them of the danger should they attempt to send another shuttle.
He left Data in what he believed would be a comfortable position, then picking the easiest path through the ship he began to walk holding the tricorder before him. The gravity was marginal within the vessel. He guessed it to be about one quarter of standard and confirmed that it was .20 on the tricorder. Not too bad he thought to himself. This ship obviously had some form of artificial gravity though he wasn't sure why. He grew nervous feeling the thrusters vibrating as the vessel manoeuvred some more. He had to contact the ship before he was so far away he and Data could never be found.
Access through the ship's winding ways was difficult in some places, even in the low gravity, and it wasn't for some time before he found something that he felt might help. He double checked a reading on the tricorder he had ben looking for. His best guess was that the hexagonal box he had just scanned at a junction was a receptor unit of some sort, and if so, then it may be possible that he could make it transmit also, as long as he could figure it out how it operated.
He used the tricorder to locate the main energy feed for the unit and followed it up to what he believed would be the processor. He experimentally touched a few leads on the circuit panel and got quite a jolt for his efforts. However, he was making headway. He wished Data could help him since he was much quicker than himself and had a natural affiliation with computers, but Data wasn't in any shape to render assistance. Geordi would just have to do it on his own. He set down his pack and began to take more accurate scans. Strangely enough, it wasn't his sense of self preservation which drove him on, but the thought of failing Data.
"Well here goes nothing," he said aloud and began to open the casing of the box.
After a great deal of trial and error Geordi was satisfied. That ought to do it, Geordi thought to himself as he made the last connection. He had rigged his suit communicator into the alien box and reconfigured the internal crystal structure of the box in to what he believed was a correct configuration to enhance his transmission.
Now came the moment of truth. He connected his suit communicator to the boxes internal circuits and switched it on. "Geordi to Enterprise, come in Enterprise." He was answered only by static. Come on Worf. "This is the away team to Enterprise, come in please." Geordi waited a few minutes then slumped back, temporarily defeated. There was no reply. He felt a slight change in the ships's direction again and switched off the communicator fearing that it may overload. He examined the arrangement again, thought of a few more adjustments he could make then got back to work. Giving up was not an option.
Twenty minutes later, Geordi had tried just about all the things he could think of and a few he just guessed at. His years as an engineer had taught him that no matter how impossible a solution seemed, there was always one, however improbable it may seem. Geordi chuckled to himself. I've been hanging around Data too long he thought to himself. I'm starting to sound like him.
He reconnected his communicator to the makeshift amplifier, and tried again. "This is Geordi, do you read me. Come in Enterprise." To Geordi's surprise he got a response filled with static. But it had definitely been a response.
"This is shuttle craft four. Geordi is that you?" Riker tried his best to communicate and fly at the same time and decided it would be best for the doctor to take over.
"It sure is commander. Boy am I glad to here from you. I've got to warn you though, Data and I managed to get inside the alien vessel. It's not Borg, but it sure looks like it. If you come close to the vessel it will attack. I believe its collecting metals. Stay away anyhow, until I can find out more of its purpose. The ship shields us from most of the radiation, so we still have a time left. Data has shut down but should be alright. I've had a lot of time to think over here and I would suggest that you construct a shuttle out of as little metal as possible and come back for us. Geordi out. Don't be too long." Geordi was relieved and scared at the same time. The shuttle was so close but the transporters were useless in this soup of radiation and ion feedback, and there was no way he and Data could float out to the shuttle with no operational thrusters. He would just have to wait.
"Understood Geordi, we'll be back as fast as we can. Hang in there." Riker looked at the relieved faces of Beverley and Tomlin and spun the shuttle around as quick as possible to head back for the Enterprise. "Mr. Tomlin as soon as we are within communication range of the Enterprise would you relay what we heard to the engineering group. We need that shuttle built as fast as possible."
Tomlin was glad to be of use. "Yes, sir." His enthusiastic response was perhaps a little too enthusiastic, but Riker and Crusher hadn't noticed behind their smiles of relief. Geordi and Data were not out of danger yet, but they were alive.
Monday, October 02, 2006
We have rats in our house!
What are the odds of that? I mean just how many houses have rats . . .
. . . Okay, enough with the fake out. These are not the wharf, bubonic-toting mite-covered two foot long, twenty pound variety. They are domesticated, and they are my daughter’s pets.
They have names too. Harry and Feather . . .
. . . I didn’t name them.
If I had they, would be Thing 1 and Thing 2. They are actually very smart, friendly and not nearly as big as the dog-sized genetic mutations fighting for scraps in the back alleys of city slums.
And their colouring is pleasing too. Feather has a dark head and dark patches down his back while Harry is lighter, almost white, with light brown patches.
I hope they turn out to be great pets. So far they have been friendly and fun to watch.
But you want to know how the ebook is coming, don’t you?
Well, let me spill a bit about it.
The ebook will contain 10, yes 10, original works of fiction. How cool is that?
Very - like winter mint gum or January in Canada.
I have the task now, that I have all submissions, to play editor. Which means this week I’ll be reading the stories, picking a cover art (thanks M) and testing my PDF making abilities.
My original thought was pictures (if submitter wanted) for each story, but that will not be happening. Just the cool cover will do. We will let the words speak for themselves.
I will write an introduction (short so as not to torture readers) and was thinking we best have a short (one sentence) bio of each author in the back.
Look to next week (if I get off my butt) to “maybe” (with M’s permission) show the upcoming art for the book cover.
As for my impending career change . . .
. . . nice try on Saturday guys . . .
. . . but you will need to wait.
So, no info here yet - please move along.
Okay - a tidbit.
Once I start I will be posting on Fridays about it. So a separate day to yammer about my change of life . . . Which sounded better in my head just now, but I think you get the idea.
Also had a great get together with pizza (homemade) and beer (store brand) to discuss the fun multimedia project.
Plans were laid, and I’m on the hook to write the pilot episode. Me thinks this, when complete, will be a global phenomenon . . .
. . . Like warming perhaps, or Dr. Phil.
But much more entertaining.
Well, that wraps another Monday writing projects and rodent invasion update.
Until next Monday.