When you awoke you were surprised to see that you were still in space. Earth was no where to be found. Just where were you? After a very interesting breakfast, everyone was gathered in the observation deck. You and the others have been exploring the sky through the floor length windows that made up both sides of the observation deck. If you stared long enough you felt as if you were walking in space and not on a cruise ship. Where ever you were going you would absolutely want to get something to take back with you. You wonder if you took something from the future would it have any affect on the this timeline?
|Space by Sweetie187 @http://www.flickr.com/photos/58782395@N03/5519580228|
Earth Date: 475 N.V.A. (the New Victorian Age started in 2065 A.D.)
Location: Earth Space Dock, high geosynchronous orbit
“Please remain strapped in your flight seats until the space-plane has docked and the ‘gravity and atmosphere restored’ lights have come on,” the feminine computer voice said. The small ship settled with a clunk as the strut magnetics locked onto the deck of the cavernous hangar bay. A chime sounded, the green light flashed, and the computer voice said: “You may now safely disembark. We hope you had a pleasant voyage on Trans-Empire Near-Earth Flights.”
Sighs of relief and nervous laughter sounded as the guests roused themselves from the cramped cabin and shuffled toward the interior hatch. The hatch swung open and everyone grew silent. A tall, thin man with no hair and piercing light-blue eyes stared at them. He offered a forced smile.
“Good afternoon and welcome to the Black Eagle. My name is Louis Franelli. I am the Chief Engineer. The Black Eagle is owned by the Bestmarkes – you probably have heard about them – on the Empire’s most wanted list. They were last seen at Jupiter’s Io Station – so I’m in charge now. I know this ship inside and out and built most of the systems – if you have any questions, just ask.”
A small boy at the front asked how big the ship was.
“If you want the ancient measurements it’s 1,640 feet – that’s 500 meters. But I am forgetting my manners. Please follow me into the central corridor and we’ll head towards the bridge. You all go ahead and I’ll secure this hatch. I don’t need anyone getting spaced on my shift. Don’t worry folks – that’s just a joke.”
The hatch shut with a muffled thump followed by hurried footsteps. “You are probably wondering why my eyes are purple tinged. When you live with artificial gravity for a long time that is a side-effect, but it’s harmless. You probably won’t be affected.”
A woman wearing a blue flight suit asked what was behind the large carved doors. Franelli walked up and grandly swung them open. “Behold! The Captain’s dining room!” Oohs and ahhs emanated from the crowd. “The floor is Phobosian granite with veins of silver. The furniture and woodwork are solid walnut. And the ceiling… coffered beams encasing cobalt fields of stars accentuated with blue Martian-crystal chandeliers. Nothing but the best for the Bestmarkes – ha-ha-ha, get it?”
Franelli led the group to the bow of the ship. “As promised, here we are on the bridge. These are the gravity seats for the pilot and gunner. Everything inside and outside the ship can be seen on the NAV screens; that’s short for navigational screens and something required for space travel. There are a lot of buttons and controls as you can see… Wait, young man, don’t touch that red button… Yes, you are correct – it is a hyper-laser trigger – quite deadly. Please step back from the control panel. Thank you.” Some murmurs floated through from the back of the crowd.
“I believe now would be a good time to retreat to the mess-hall for complimentary refreshments. It’s back down the corridor – first door on the left. There are restrooms to the right as you enter. Please, follow the instructions.” Franelli breathed a deep sigh as he exited the bridge, shutting the hatchway. Why did he always get stuck with this job?
“Any more questions while you finish your refreshments? The engines, you say?” Franelli smiled. “That’s my favorite subject. We refitted the ship with two Zenkati B fusion engines, the best we could get. We can leave Earth Space Dock and be at the Kuiper Belt on the other side of Neptune in just over a month. Not another ship faster, take my word for it.”
“I saved the best for last,” Franelli said, encouraging the tourists down the long central corridor. “Here is Bestmarke’s notorious Trophy Room.” Anxious whispering changed to silence as they crept into the circular chamber. All along the perimeter were heavy carved wooden pedestals. A shimmer like very clear glass, almost invisible, sparkled faintly above each one.
The curious crowd gazed about. “Are these the famous pedestals?” a young girl asked.
“Yes, my dear,” Franelli said, a faint smile forming, his eyes half shut. He walked to the nearest heavy wood cabinet. “I will turn this one on. Please, do NOT touch the pedestals.” The nearly invisible shimmer turned to a sparkling sheen, grew darker like a thick fog, and finally dissipated. Gasps and outcries erupted from the crowd.
“It’s a magnificent trophy, isn’t it? A polar bear’s head, quite large – and still alive. It’s in the sleeping mode. I’ll leave it that way.”
The crowd murmured and turned. “Not that one! You – boy – get away from it!” People began to scream and run for the hatchway door, pushing and shoving into the corridor. A tremendous roar from a lion’s head trophy shook the room as the fleeing tourists bolted down the corridor. “Back to the space-plane… back to the space-plane…” someone yelled.
Franelli sighed to the empty room and turned off the trophy pedestals. “Tour is over, folks. Thanks for visiting the Black Eagle.”
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Who is Paul Schofield?
Young Paul was hatched in a nebula at an early age in the Galactic Quadrant of Montana. Tired of the cold he and his family warped to the Florida Quadrant, living near a red giant star. Burned out from the heat they finally time-warped to the Outer Galactic Rim of North Carolina. Every clear night he stares at the stars, contemplating why he stares at the stars. Paul writes books about time and space and talks to his cats. He likes cats and they like him. Life is good…buy a book from Paul and life will be better for everyone, especially his cats.