Archive for May, 2014

Tiny Things

Posted: May 26, 2014 in Creative Writing, Fiction

So, here we are. The edge of the galaxy; a bleak, dark, gods forsaken place where even the nearest star is light years away from us.

The edge of the galactic void.

There is beauty out in the void though, and for the first time in months I’ve allowed the shutters of the ship to open.

Light, from any source other than the weak greenish yellow glow of the corridor lamps, is a welcome respite.

The fact that the amber and purple light bathing our vessel is coming from the burning husk of a Kellexus warship is moot.

Burning plasma leaks from the beasts midsection, and from the intensity of the light, it must be from their version of a Void Drive. The purple hues are coming from the smoldering flesh of the ships exterior, tentacles writhing in slow motion as it dies naked in the black.

A flash of blue and white is echoed by a shockwave that makes the amber cloud shift and swirl, a bright white impact on the beasts side, the impact of our primary mass driver.

The beast begins to list to its side and we can see little forms being sucked out into the vacuum, the bioships crew, vented from the breach. Kellexus can survive fifteen minutes in total vacuum, it’s a blessing then that they drift into the burning plasma cloud and erupt like those little tissue paper poppers my son would throw at the concrete back home. A quick, faint pop and then gone. Hundreds, maybe thousands.

“Life signs of the bioship have ceased, sir.”

Here, on the edge of the galaxy, all light must fade.

“Very well. Weapons, target all available guns abroadside, torpedoes and missiles free,”

“Generating targeting solution, all guns abroadside, missiles and torpedoes locked. Targeting solution green, request permission to fire.”

All light must fade.

“End it.”

The sky burns as tiny stars of white hot plasma, glowing warheads and artillery shells streak towards their target.

The beast spins out of control as jets of burning plasma and gods only know what else vent explosively, the erupts in a brilliant amber and purple flash.

“All hands, brace for shockwave,”

I barely remember to say the words, the sight is too beautiful.

The hull trembles and I feel the ship rock and list, a fraction of what I’d expected.

“Comms, send word home, the first of the Kellexus have come through the Void Gate. We welcomed them accordingly.”

Something is amiss. Why is the hull still trembling?

Klaxons blare, red light fills the command deck.

“Report!”

Saunders, the navigation officer, has a panicked look in his eyes.

“Saunders!”

He snaps out of it, his wild eyes looking up at me.

“Void Traverse Field detected! Incoming at lattice 57.6, helion 3.”

Something else was coming through?

“Point of origin, Saunders?”

He was scrambling.

“Saunders!”

“I’m trying commander! The vector doesn’t make any sense! It’s reading as originating in galaxy NGC 1365, lattice 000, helion 0.”

That made no sense, I double check his math on my command screen.

“That’s impossible, there is no Void Gate that far out.”

“Gate sequencing engaged, VTF contact in 45 seconds, no recognition codes transmitted.”

This was impossible, there was no Gate in that galaxy, no way to fold the space between the galaxies. There was nothing there…

“Sir? Orders?”

This was impossible.

“First contact protocol! Engage axial rotation, charge weapons! Weapons, get me a firing solution on their contact point.”

The floor bounces as the center of the ship unlocks from the rest, gravity plating modulating as the mass begins to orbit around us and affect the overall gravity.

I feel my stomach lurch.

“VTF contact!”

Time slows, an effect of the Void Gate beginning to fold space to ‘catch’ the incoming object. The remaining plasma, still burning from the final onslaught of our guns, allows us to see space warp and ripple, like dropping a pebble in a still pond.

My jaw slowly goes slack at what I am seeing.

It is a behemoth, a leviathan, easily triple our size. Chitin plates and pulsing sacs of fluid and sensory organs, a thousand eyes staring and lidless.

It is a Kellexus ship, but one unlike I have ever seen, bigger than the largest of Draxi battle dreadnoughts. Impossibly big.

The time distortion is going longer than normal, and that massive hulk baring down on us is getting closer.

Time snaps back to normal like releasing a stretched elastic band.

“Hail them,”

The communications offers gives me a nod.

“Kellexus vessel, you have entered the sovereign territory of the United Terran Empire, use the codes we are transmitting to you to decode your language and respond at once or you will be fired upon.”

There is a pause.

“Unknown vessel, you will respond.”

I motion, the main mass driver firing a salvo past them.

“The next one will not miss, I assure you.”

Tiny things.
Little things.
Kill you
.

That psychic imagery was all I needed.

“All batteries, fire at will!”

It’s magnificent, the true unbridled fury of the Gentry Ascendant brought to bear, enough firepower to burn Earth itself to a cinder.

And it is doing absolutely nothing.

Charged plasma shells, high intensity directed energy weapons, high explosive ordinance that could level a city block, torpedoes and missiles that are banned from being used near population centers because they can ignite an atmosphere.

Nothing is so much as making a scratch.

“Arm the primary and secondary canons, full yield shells, emergency targeting solution.”

My hands grip the rail of the command station.

“Put a hole in its head!”

That head, if you could call the armored lump at the front of it a head, rotates slightly towards us.

It’s thinking, deciding what to do to this pest flying about and tickling it.

Well, this pest has a sting!

My console glows as the computer notifies me and the weapons officer that its reached a targeting solution. I don’t bother to wait for my officers confirmation.

“Fire!”

The ship lurches as both mass drivers fire in unison, over one hundred fifty thousand tons of ordinance streak towards the monster in front of us at nearly half the speed of light.

They hit home, making the beast reel and list, but as the blinding light fades I can see its barely scorched.

Tiny things. Break you.

A thousand eyes fix on us.

“Commander, VTF detected!”

You have got to be kidding me.

“Where, Mr. Saunders?”

His eyes get wilder.

“Lattice 11.2, helion 6…Engineering section! VTF Core!”

What the…

“They’re folding space! They’re folding it inside the ship!”

My hand is on the comms button before he’s even done speaking.

“All hands, abandon ship! To the escape pods! Now!”

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Zarathan Beshon watched from the stations command deck as the lumbering chunk of planetary debris began to crumble, the five mining vessels tearing away at it, an elaborately choreographed dance that required weeks of preparation and planning for the highest possible output during this ballet of devastation. The Harvaren Mining Consortium had bought the rights to the dying system, the star having already gone into its Red Giant phase and consumed several potentially profitable planetoids, but the sacrifice of those few meant massive secured profits from the remaining five along with the stellar matter and plasma harvested from the dying star.

He’d make millions from this in commission alone from the unexpectedly higher yields the miners would bring in, because if there was one thing Zarathan Beshon understood better than anything, it was how to squeeze the most of out seemingly worthless rock. He’d probably even get an official acknowledgment from the Guilds, which would make his Personal Stocks skyrocket and insure his continued employment for the foreseeable future. This claim had officially pushed Zarathan Beshon into the top half percentile of all Harvaren.

A stubby, fat finger pressed on the comm as Zarathan Beshon watched the dancers in the void.

“Overseer to Breaker Fleet. Kyoga, increase forward mineral extractors by six percent. T’Kai, watch your armatures in the debris field. Zevrasta, hold Y axis rotation and move north on Z by twenty-three degrees, fifteen percent thrusters. We’re breaking down planets here, not waging war, no need to go full throttle.”

Zararthan Beshon had long since become accustomed to the comm echo as his orders were translated in multiple languages as he spoke, and the ponderously complex Harvaren language meant that most other species were always waiting for the translator to catch up to the speaker. At least he didn’t have any Ves ships in this team, the fact that the Ves spoke literally at light speed meant they were always waiting on you, and that notion made most Harvaren uneasy.

Never trust someone who speaks faster than you. His father had taught him that.

“Analysis of the current planetary fragment,” Zarathan Beshon asked down towards the Analyst’s Pit where fifty Harvaren, Kartoshi and Vele were watching every single bit of data coming from the various mining vessels and surrounding observer ships.

“This one reports all Organic contamination still reads nill,” said a young, pale skinned waif of a Kartoshi.

“Mineral extraction reads thirty six percent iron ferrite, high levels of assorted natural gases and the Kyoga is picking up a feathering of gold in quadrant eight. Recommend we crack Segmentum Helion and Kioshi after this to see if we can net the bulk of it before planetoid becomes to unstable,” piped up another, a wide shouldered Vele. One head was speaking to him while another watched the screens and the third head was crunching numbers and plotting mineral deposits.

Another Kartoshi gently tapped on the glass enclosure he stood in, the barrier that separated his ammonia based atmosphere from the methane required for the Kartoshi and Vele and allowed him to work without an encounter suit, unlike the unfortunate Harvaren in the pit. The Kartoshi was clad in blue and green silks, compared to the bland uniforms of the analysts, and Zarathan Beshon’s personal aid.

“Guild Office Chancellor on narrow beam transmission for Zarathan Beshon. Shall this one ask him to call again at a later time,” Hiyeni asked, her melodic tones hardly done justice through the speakers into the chamber.

“No, I’ll take it now.”

Her Harvaren was nearly perfect, although she’d never been able to shake the melodic quality of her birth race. Zarathan Beshon had to admit that the Kartoshi were more than pleasant to look at, and the diligence with which they did they tasks, no matter how mundane, was admirable. He was even considering paying for her next Youth extension, which of course would carry the benefit of keeping her a pleasant to behold female, rather than a curiously pleasant male if she aged and shifted to the male part of her life cycle. He pondered it more as he trundled over towards his Overseers Throne and engaged privacy mode, shading the glass of his environment cube and leaving the operation in Hiyeni’s capable hands. The vid screen flickering to life as he thumped onto the throne.

The Chancellor was fat, even for a Harvaren, unpleasantly so. It was a constant reminder that his station in the Guilds meant he never had to move and had enough underlings to do what needed to be done. Success meant never having to leave the comfort of your chambers, and Chancellor Jothun Getenki hadn’t needed to leave his in over a fifty rotations.

“Do I have the privilege of addressing Overseer Zarathan Beshon,” The Chancellor blubbered, all formality and pomp accorded.

“I have the honor of being named and titled such, most revered Chancellor,” Zarathan Beshon responded with equal propriety.

“Overseer, allow me to congratulate you on your most fortunate contract acquisition and assure you that the Guild Body has the utmost faith and confidence in your ability to bring -” The Chancellor blubbered on and on and on and all Zarathan Beshon could do was listen diligently and feign flattery as was expected. He kept his head nodding so as to avoid the Chancellor noticing that he was staring at the undulating jowls of fat that jiggled and bounced obscenely as the Chancellor droned on and on.

“I’m sorry, could you repeat that last part Chancellor, the planet break is causing some interference in the signal,” Zarathan Beshon said after the twenty minutes of flattery had caused him to open a monitor to continue observing the operation outside, but something the Chancellor had said pulled him back.

“I said, we require you’re assistance on a consultation brought forth by the Union on behalf of the Ves.”

The Union bringing a consultation to us on behalf of the Ves? I knew he was buttering me up for something…’ Zarathan Beshon thought.

“It would be my honor to lend me expertise, Chancellor. You may notify the Union, at your convenience, that I will be available in five rotations after the operations here have stabilized.”

The fat jowls and winkles obscured any discernible reaction from Zarathan Beshon, another perk of his station. No one could tell what he was thinking,

“I’m afraid, Overseer, that simply will not do. I am forwarding some images to you now, tell me what you can make of them.”

As the files began to steam onto his console, Zarathan Beshon let his annoyance show plainly. He had earned that right.

Images of a blasted landscape and charred and roiled ground began to appear, along with mineral and geological reports, making the Overseer frown.

“Chancellor, it would be quite obvious to someone even less skilled than myself that this world has been strip mined. Have I given such offense to the Guild that my time must be wasted on such trivial circumstances?”

That made the fatty wrinkles in the Chancellors brow deepen.

“That world is the third lunar body of Tyoga 7.”

Zarathan Beshon blinked, not sure he had heard that correctly. He chuckled.

“Tyoga 7.3 is a well known Ves research station. They engineered the cure for the Ulaty Plague there. It’s a jungle world with Nitrogen atmosphere. This…rock has no organic life to speak of, an atmosphere comprise primarily of carbon monoxide and its overall topography only matched with the moon in question by five percent. And that moon is inhabited by over-”

“Five million Ves,” The Chancellor said, ending his sentence for him.

More images began appearing on the Overseers screens. Destroyed settlements, blood stained sand, ruined structures, utter devestation.

“Chancellor, are you saying someone strip mined a Union world while it was still inhabited,” Zarathan Beshon said, almost in disbelief.

“No, Overseer. I’m saying something has strip mined eleven Union worlds.”

Zarathan Beshon couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“But, an operation the size of Tyoga 7.3 would’ve taken at least five rotations to even strip the surface. These reports show evidence that everything, down to 40 kilometers has been stripped, and I see strong evidence that even the atmosphere was harvested. An operation this big would’ve taken close to fifty rotations, and the planetoid would be crumbling apart. Why are we just hearing about this now?”

“Because, the operation you speak of was done in less than half a rotation, as well as the stripping and destruction of the other ten worlds.”

Zarathan Beshon leaned back in his throne, trying to come to terms with what he was hearing.

“There is no Harvaren technology that can do what you speak of. No Ves or Vele or Kartoshi or Sylandic nor a dozen other species combining their mining fleets could do this.”

“And that, Overseer Zarathan Beshon, is why we are sending you to Tyoga 7.3.”

Vetaya’s digits ran through the sand, slowly taking a deep breath. The sand was still damp with blood, the smoke in the air from the fires stung xyr olfactory gland along side the trauma, pain and fear still in the atmo made xyr thin skin prickle. Even without facing him, the soft glow of Betay’s luminescent words could be understood.

“Have you found anything new,” Betay asked, the color of his words a soft, calm, amber that rarely deviated. Betay was a Vruud, possessing two genders and both of them being male. Vruud were hulking, towering, Ves that stood easily double the height and triple the weight of even the largest females. Despite their appearance, however, they were gentle giants that bonded to a single Ves. They would be bodyguard and councilor to the Ves they were bonded with until the day they died, and woe be to poor soul that stir the gentle giant into the need for violence.

“No,” Vetaya responded, xyr words glowing silver and starting to radiate into the quiet of the infrared spectrum. “More of the same. Pain. Shock. Horror. Fire. Black shadows.” Xe was smaller than the rest of xyr species, ganglier, xyr limbs longer and xyr sense organs significantly more developed and pronounced, but totally lacking reproductive organs. It was a good omen to birth a Hyol, and their position in Ves society was a cherished one, because they could see things that other Ves could not. Xe was a Hyol, the seventh of the Ves race’s seven genders.

The pair had been walking on the blasted landscape for hours, Vetaya periodically stopping to run xyr digits through the sand or across a ruined wall and always wincing at the flood of emotions and flashes of imprinted memory flooded xyr mind. Everything had memory, from the sand to the alloyed hull of a ship, and the Hyol could see those memories with a mere touch.

All of the memories of this place were bad.

“Always the black shadows,” Betay asked, helping the Hyol to xyr feet again with a hand that was nearly the size of xyr.

“Drones,” Vetaya said.

Betay was quiet for a long moment, mulling that statement over.

“You are sure about this?”

“What else would do something like this?”

The blasted and charred rock they stood on, now windswept and begin consumed by the sand, had once been the colony hall. It would have been the last defensible structure of the main colony. Nothing remained. The air was sour with the shadows of panic and despair, and blood soaked sand clung to all thee of Vetaya’s bare feet, causing xyr to periodically feel the sorrow and rage trapped in the blood.

“Do you think anyone survived? Surely a few had to make it to shuttles, or at least to the comm gem to send an assistance beam.”

Vetaya glowed softly at Betay’s optimism, but it didn’t last long, the dark truth of the situation sapping xyr of anything good to tell xyr companion. Xe rubbed a bit of the coarse sand better xyr digits, holding it up to xyr face to examine it and allowed the gains to fall one by one from between xyr digits.

“No one got away from this,” Vetaya said, xyr tone shifting down towards the whispers of Infrared light.

The Ves had no eyes as most species would recognize them, and in comparison to most species, they didn’t even have a face. Their epidermis was their eyes, a highly complex and sensitive organ containing the rods and cones for sensing light. Ves communicated with light, being able to impart their thoughts and intentions in the light generated from the bioluminescent glands in their heads and chest while being able to perceive and make sense of any light that touched their skin.

Vetaya and Betay’s flickering conversation was interrupted when a comm gem hovered down near to them, gently pulsing as it awaited activation, Betay running a digit across it’s surface to open the light link.

The massive gemstone flickered, then glowed a familiar hue of lavender before the image of another Hyol Ves appeared in its facets.

“Hyol Vetaya,” the gemstone pulsed.

“Hyol Po,” Vetaya responded.

“We have found something, you should come to my coordinates at once.”

“What is it?”

“They killed one.”

Fitting a Vruud into a shuttle was no easy feat, and while Vruud sized craft were available, it was not often readily so. When Vetaya and the other Hyol’s had been dispatched, the few Vruud sized craft were all already dispatched with their massive occupants on official business of the state, leaving Vetaya and Betay to make due with a ponderous cargo hopper. While Betay fit in the ship, the only way he did so was by carefully crawling into the cargo compartment and keeping himself curled into a tight ball. Traveling this way was uncomfortable to say the least, but Betay did it without complaint. The bond of a Vruud meant he would follow his bondmate anywhere, and endure any hardship.

The flight to Po’s location was short, an outer settlement as blasted as the rest, but now being swarmed by the military and other investigators. Betay urged Vetaya to go on while he extracted himself slowly from the back of the cargo hopper, and maybe take an extra moment to massage the cramps out of his legs. The focus of all the Ves was a crater on the western edge of the settlement and Vetaya was met halfway by Po who matched Vetaya’s hurried pace.

“Is it a Drone,” Vetaya asked, barely sparing to turn xyr head towards Po for fear if xe took any attention from the site the find would vanish.

“Yes,” Po began, less afraid of their subjects magical disappearance than xyr counterpart. “It appears to have been brought down by -”

Po trailed off as they reached the rim of the crater, doing dark and silent as the other two dozen Ves had as they all stared down into the charred black pit. Vetaya had only paused the briefest second, shocked by the sheer size of the ruined craft. Large chunks of the hull were missing, slagged off or torn off from the impact, but the bulk of it was intact. Black metal, some untouched portions still gleaming, curved and bent to create a hull roughly ten meters long and standing taller than a Vruud. A slagged wound was in the metallic beasts flank, the scar from the impact of an air defense weapon. The other Ves were standing around the rim of the crater, in a mixed state of shock and awe, as Vetaya circled the craft to inspect it.

Po had been about to say that xe wouldn’t suggest touching the craft, but Vetaya was a step ahead of xyr. Visions of a cold womb, the rumble of its mother breaking atmo, being birthed into blinding light with fire and death, larger brethren lumbering in the distance as they-

Vetaya ripped xyr hand away and turned to look up towards Po.

“You saw?”

Po nodded.

“Has the land east of here been examined?”

Po nodded again.

“And?”

“Stripped of every mineral, the land churned and ruined. The same at over a thousand other locations.”

Vetaya’s second stomach roiled as though a school of Damdari Eels were living in it.

“Get me a comm gem,” xe said towards Po between shifting attention to the rest of the group which had roughly quadrupled in size. “I want this thing extracted, get a cargo barge down here to ferry it up to the Divine Light. Get the defenses back online.”

The group hesitated, forcing Vetaya’s words to shift into the loud Ultraviolet spectrum.

“Now!”

Today, Inspiration Died.

Posted: May 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Those that know me know that today, as an artist, I’m grieving.

H.R. Giger passed away today, and I am filled with a deep sadness for the loss.
I never met the man, never shook his hand or even dared to write him to explain how much of an effect he had on me artistically.

Very few ‘celebrity deaths’ affect me in any true way, but reading the news about HR’s passing this morning damn near made me cry.

When I was younger, I was an avid fan of his art though have lost a number of the collections I had acquired.
In college, I wrote my final thesis on him analyzing his artistic methods, theories and the origins of much of his cinematic work.
After graduating, I dreamed of one day meeting him.

I saw the vast, terrifying biomechanical landscapes of Giger’s imagination as the landscape of my dreams.
I have walked in his shadow, modeling creatures and species after the undulating, elegant and terrible forms of his portraiture.

Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery…and now I feel it to be just the cold, dull wanting of daring to dream the dreams of an artistic titan that channeled the cold, the visceral and the macabre into transcendently elegant reality that I will never dare to come near.

Sleep well, my muse, and may the biomechanical hellscapes of your dreams welcome you as their god and their father.
My words and visions will never do you justice, and the world is poorer for your passing.