Sunday, December 16, 2018

PLANET OF GOLD part 6

Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.



Keeper and the
PLANET OF GOLD
Part 6

By R. Peterson

          Keeper consulted the Centurion’s ever expanding ship log. It had been seven Earth years, six months, fourteen days, twenty-one hours, nine minutes and fifteen seconds since the rare species acquisition vessel had ventured into the outer rings of the Viridian galaxy. If the ship’s captain thought it strange that he now kept track of time the way his former First Officer Jeff Bland demanded that it be kept, he didn’t show it. Some things like memories change an individual or a group forever. The inter-dimensional particle-detonation, planned by the Gorwat and meant to create a second Big Bang in this universe, failed when Bland, Leika and Queen Delicia acted as travelers sending the ultimate bomb not just into a neighboring dimension … but to one beyond.
Leika and Bland had become more than crewmembers and Keeper missed them despite an inability to show his emotions. He floated about the ship performing his captain’s duties with the bottom part of his legs, just above the ankles, dissolving into nothing. This peculiar behavior for an Andé species was strictly against protocol and although Keeper was not being insubordinate to his commanders … this was his ship and he just didn’t care.
The current non-biological mission commissioned by Maltese 17 was to travel to the farthest edge of the universe and recover the oldest bit of matter in existence … Diona just happened to be on the way.
            “No matter how many times I see it I’m amazed at just how tiny we are!” Teuth, a land-adapted cephalopod and the ship’s navigator used his eight octopus-like tentacles to make adjustments to the holographic display. Ceilings and walls on the ship dissolved … and gave a spectacular display of the plant worlds they were entering. A swarm of Carriers, enormous bee-like robots made of super strong metallic alloys appeared and escorted the ship as it moved through an interstellar garden of sights, sounds and exotic stimulations.
            Planet-sized orchids sent out rhizomes that connected worlds and sometimes surrounded entire stars … capturing the light and energy in the most functional and efficient manner. Communicable thoughts were now entering Keeper and Teuth’s minds although the captain had taken great pains to insure that the rest of the crew were shielded.
            Welcome.” The message said. “We’ve been expecting you.”
Keeper often wondered if the thought communications they received from the Viridians came from one plant or from them all; he suspected the latter.
As on their previous voyage years before, rhizomes invaded the ship’s outer surfaces and within minutes all crew members were semi-floating in blissful sedation. The Viridians were right in determining that animalia species were better delimited with euphoric and tranquilizing fragrances. As the ship neared the center of a planet sized orchid, cities appeared and the most magnificent civilization in the universe unfolded like a flower. “Welcome to Diona!” the thought transmission, received by all crew members despite his elaborate precautions, was sincere.

-------2-------

Keeper and Teuth wandered through an exotic garden that Keeper was sure had been prepared by the Viridians especially for them. Three cascading waterfalls emptied into a deep blue pond as still as glass except for tiny ripples made by the entering water. Schools of Earth trout and Emloos from Leika’s world swam just under the surface. An eternal revolving hologram depicted Jeff Bland, Leika and Queen Delicia moving through the falling vapors as they carried the particle-detonator through a neighboring universe and beyond. Keeper thought the three dimensional image especially good. First Officer Bland had a wary look on his face as if he expected Leika to suddenly strike him with one of her exposed quills. Leika had been like a spoiled brat during her onboard service but Keeper found himself missing her carefree insubordination and her sense of unregulated adventure.
Even Teuth was surprised to hear the former crewmembers’ voices. They sounded too real to be manufactured and both he and Keeper thought they were actual communications captured and recorded just moments before they disappeared forever.
“Back off … I’ve got this!” Bland appeared to slap Leika’s hands away as she reached for the light array.
“Are you sure?” Leika’s quills were extending on the part of her face not covered by flowers. “You almost missed the event horizon!”
“Almost missed … means I didn’t!” Jeff laughed. “In about six, point, nine, eight seconds we’re going to become part of a universe-sized singularity … the smallest and the heaviest thing in three dimensions … can’t you at least give me some credit for my flying abilities?”
“No!” Leika said as she leaned in to kiss him. “I’ll never, even in death, be caught feeding your outrageous and self-consuming vanity.”
“Look who’s talking!”
“What’s happening to our shuttle?”
“What must all plants make in order to survive?”
Jeff was just beginning to smile when the image broke part. A minute later it began again … from the start.

“That must have been just an instant before they became less than matter.” Teuth hung his head and all eight tentacles drooped.
“Then there is no way they could have lived through this?”
“Singularity occurs when all compressed matter reaches the limits of infinity,” Teuth said. “The mass is great enough to punch a hole through to another dimension creating a Big Bang as matter re-enters through the same hole into this one. The fact that the Viridians were able to help propel them not into just a neighboring dimension but into one beyond is a testament to their God-like technology. No known living organism, or matter itself, can survive the ultimate cataclysm!”
Keeper and Teuth watched the hologram replay several times before they moved on to other parts of the garden. Keeper was intrigued by the last question posed by Leika but he was no horologist. Chlorophyll? … Oxygen? … Nothing seemed to fit.  Several crewmembers were eating berries from a special plant that made them forget unpleasant memories. Bland’s replacement offered some in his hand. “No more pain,” he said.
Keeper shook his head. “As long as can I remember … they live,” he said.

-------3-------

The Viridian galaxy was one of the oldest in the cosmos and was already on the outer edges of the universe. Still it took the crew of the Centurion, placed in cryogenic hibernation, three-million, seven-hundred and sixteen thousand, four-hundred and nineteen Earth years at reverse light speed to reach the place where the ongoing expansion of space was occurring. After six months of waking and conditioning, the crew members stood on the bridge and watched space being formed … from a white nothing.
“I’m glad that’s over with,” Teuth complained. “The water in my tank was beginning to smell funny.”
“Don’t forget the trip back is just as long … even if we are going back in time,” Keeper told him.
“The oldest chunk of matter in the universe should be close to where we’re at now,” Teuth said. “The Dark Matter Telescope, orbiting Maltese 17, discovered it only three years after the universe’s most costly bit of technology became operational.
“We can thank the Planet of Gold for helping to fund these recent advances in science.”
“We should also thank Queen Delicia’s last transmission giving the Federation a thousand year lease on the planet’s mineral rights.” Teuth said. “Otherwise the Gorwat might still be trying to capture their elusive prize.”
Keeper shook his head. The Gorwat had retreated shortly after their failed attempt at creating a second Big Bang in this universe. “How large is this package we’re supposed to deliver to our tormenters?”
“Somewhere between the size of an average moon and that speck of dust floating in the air where your foot should be,” Teuth said. “Dark Matter Telescopes can do amazing things, but at this infinite distance … even the tiniest flaw in technology can create huge deviations.”
“How will we know what we’re looking for?”
“Dark matter replacement of conventional matter is much like Carbon 14 dating on primitive planets,” Teuth said as he moved his tentacles through a light array, “only about a billion times more accurate. The oldest organic matter in this universe … is speeding away from us just up ahead.”
“Organic? You mean this object we’re looking for was once alive?”
“Everything alive will become un-living or dead … so every non-living thing was once alive,” Teuth reasoned. “But don’t tell my poor mother I said so.”
“I seldom swim that deep,” Keeper assured him.

-------4-------

The oldest object in the universe was much smaller than Teuth’s wild estimate. When the Centurion pulled alongside, matching the target’s velocity at exactly light speed, three six-by-two-meter long objects fused together with a common base were relatively easy to capture and bring aboard.  Keeper and several of the onboard scientists marveled at the uniformity and the smoothness of the dark surfaces. “Any idea as to the composition?” he asked Teuth.
“The exterior is a dark matter extraction, mostly made of the same minerals that make up Viridian,” Teuth said. “This is not surprising since they are relatively in the same location in space time. It appears to be stronger than any other substance we’ve tried to dissect. We might be forced to return to Maltese 17 to get a complete interior analysis.”
“How did something this old get so smooth?” Keeper couldn’t stop running his fingers over the surface. His fingers trembled. Something reminded him of the euphoric rhizome vapors they encountered on the way to Diona.
“Who knows?” Teuth said. “This was probably the first object to shoot out of the Big Bang nineteen-billion plus years ago. That much time rocking and rolling in the solar wind can smooth-out anything.”

------- 5 -------

As the Centurion made preparations for recovery time travel and the almost four million year sleepy-ride home Keeper kept visiting the cargo bay and running his fingers over the three  objects joined as one. He knew he was missing something … but he didn’t know what. Leika’s last words echoed in the far corners of his mind at least once an hour. “What must all plants make in order to survive?”
The ride home was not one continuous sleep for Keeper. He programmed the ship’s life support systems to wake him every one-hundred thousand years so that he could do a quick inspection of the ship before returning to hibernation. It was in the months leading up to his seventh awakening that his thoughts once again turned to Leika’s riddle. Jeff Bland and Leika appeared to him in a dream. “Let the old man sleep,” Jeff laughed. Suddenly Keeper had the answer. When the sleeping chamber opened he raced to the cargo bay. There was something in the air … a mist of euphoria that he hadn’t felt since the garden on Diona.
Keeper wasn’t surprised to see the three oldest joined objects in the universe lying in shattered egg-shell fragments on the cargo bay-floor. Whatever was locked inside … was no longer trapped. He noticed on a light array that three extra humanoid hibernation chambers had been activated since his last awakening and he smiled for the first time in literally millions of years. The Viridians were conquering worlds when animalia were still swimming in the seas. Seeds were the answer to Leika’s riddle. A super tough shell designed to protect precious life as it travels into eternity … and sometimes beyond.

THE END ???




Sunday, December 9, 2018

PLANET OF GOLD part 5

Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.



Keeper and the
PLANET OF GOLD
Part 5

By R. Peterson

          As though being held hostage on a Gorwat ship wasn’t bad enough,  Viridian invaders now swarmed the vessel. I left Leika to attend to her mother, the plantae-mutated queen of Promo 4, and started a desperate search for an inter-dimensional particle-detonator. Unbeknown to it’s crew, the device had been secretly attached to the Gorwat command ship and was set to destroy Diona and at least a thousand other star systems in the center of the Viridian galaxy.
            Super-fast growing rhizomes had taken over the ships navigation and weapon systems. I had to step over leafy stems covering almost all the corridor walls and floors on my way through the various levels. If I was going to find the detonator, I’d have to start thinking like a reptile. The High Council of  Gorwat didn’t want their ship commander to know he was carrying the deadly bomb. He might be a fool when it came to his romantic infatuation with Leika … but I don’t think he was suicidal.
            The Gorwat all appeared to be suspended in a kind of plant-induced hibernation. Two guards stood like statues next to the inner-ship transporter. Rhizomes entwined them like rope and stems grew into their gaping mouths. I found Gordo Ventbong in his quarters and he also appeared to be asleep. He was entwined with stems and a large yellow flower spread its petals inches from his mouth.  It looked as if he might have been kissing it.
On a bookshelf was a small hologram showing a naked Ventbong basking on a warm rock … probably his last vacation. A fuming bowl of half-eaten Gormeed worms burned my nose. There was a bouquet of fresh Venusian orchids on a table along with a bottle of Jotimo nectar and a childish unfinished note printed with Tanesian silk-fibers and addressed to Leika. It was a poem that Ventbong must have written to the exotic Porosities … as he fell asleep. No doubt he would have a multitude of tail-thrashing lizard-like wet dreams while he was in hibernation.
            Your Eyes are like Nebula-rings shining like stars.
            Your legs are like spore-stems cultured on Mars.
            You r lips are like Hair springs found inside a trap.
            I want to qwodu umacoo beoga  you … and then we’ll take a Nap.
Ventbong’s grammar and writing skills left much to be desired, but something about his attempt at a romantic encounter sparked my interest. I think it was the fresh flowers. In order for Ventbong to have acquired them, the Gorwat must have a bio-sphere on board capable of growing things. If you wanted to hide a super bomb from the Viridians what better place to hide it than in a place filled with their own species!
The holographic display that dissolved walls, floors and ceilings on the vessel was still activated and the Gorwat command ship appeared to be accelerating as it moved toward Diona, the Viridian capital. A swarm of Carriers, enormous bee-like creatures made of super strong metallic alloys escorted us as we moved through an interstellar garden of sights, sounds and stimulations.
Flowers, many light-years in diameter, whose root-structures spread across nutrient-rich nebula clouds created exotic garden pathways between worlds. We were traveling toward a continent-sized peach-yellow blossom that even from a thousand light years distance looked like a rare and beautiful Anoectochilus or orchid.
I stumbled on the Gorwat biosphere by accident … I smelled it. Tiny floating spores seemed to come from the ventilation system. I could hear Leika’s thoughts in my head. Follow the scent of warm, moist soil and sunlight. The riches of the universe lie in life … and not in precious metals. Down a long corridor with two turns to the left and one to the right I found myself walking through a black light and transporting into a Cretaceous swamp … complete with flying reptiles and Gorwat ancestors. Wave-littered beaches led to oceans that met a blue sky on the horizon. A transparent dome many miles above would no doubt show the stars at night. The Gorwat bio-spheres were not that different from those created by humans. If you wanted to survive long space voyages you had to take a world with you. It was a place of dreams … and of dangers.

------- 2 -------


I had no idea where to look as I wandered along the beaches. There were hundreds of square miles of jungles, mountains and oceans. The inter-dimensional particle-detonator could be anywhere. I struggled to remember what Teuth had said the device would look like. Dark matter is the unseen elements in the universe … the magic in all worlds. If the device was unseen, how would I ever find it? The tiny spores were surrounding me again … buzzing around my mouth and eyes like tiny gnats. Connect to this world. It was Leika’s voice once again entering my thoughts. Ask the force of life to help you!
There were sea-shells scattered in the sand. I picked one up that a foamy wave left exposed as it returned to the sea. Rainbow colors curved like a bloated French horn. On impulse I held it to my ear to listen to the ocean. It was alive … and I rode it through time.
I stood on a pile of rocks covering a septic tank and felt wonderful. I was six years old and living on a farm four miles from Cloverdale. My mother stepped from a tiny white house onto a porch made of cinder blocks and called to me and my older brother. She wanted wires to create fake flowers for a funeral. To the west lay an old horse drawn hay-wagon half buried in a clump of weeds. We played there often and pretended that an old wooden-spoke wheel suspended two inches from the ground was the steering part of an old sailing ship. Nearby was the remains of an old rail fence and a bush sized ball of wire. The wire was rusty and easy to break with a little twisting. Another voice sounded much farther away. I knew if I didn’t listen I could stay here forever and grow up again … but the voice called … and I answered.
Leika was once again in my thoughts. I dropped the shell and walked toward the jungle. Vines became snakes and snakes became vines everything moved in and out of existence. I was directed to a large fig plant and placed my fingers on the leaves. I was with Leika and her mother and we were floating, spinning on seed-pods toward Diona. You must find the bomb … or all beauty will vanish!
I removed my fingers from the leaves and turned but I was directed back. This time I placed my fingers on the plant’s leaves and tried to remember Teuth’s technical explanation for an IDPD, a bomb idea that had never been tested outside of physics theory. I could almost hear his bubbly-voice and see his tentacles swaying in the onboard Centurion classroom.
“Subatomic particles traveling at velocities exceeding the speed of light and moving through up to sixty-four different dimensional-plates inside the nucleus of Meitnerium atoms, are un-bound by transactinide-elimination and form a black hole inside a neighboring dimension … thus creating a Big-Bang in ours.
An inter-dimensional particle-detonation is essentially a new universe forming inside our own. The tremendous release of energy-turning-matter vaporizes everything as it expands outward at the speed of light. But since everything in our universe is already expanding at that exact same velocity … the only star systems theoretically affected are the ones closest to the initial unbinding.”
What did the bomb look like? Meitnerium was one of the heaviest and most radio-active metals in the universe with a half-life of only seconds. Supposedly incased in dark matter that propelled sunlight, the device would appear as a translucent black globe growing as the binding was released … with the smallest of all things becoming the largest.
We were becoming one as I rode with Leika and her mother toward the center of Diona. I was there but I was also everywhere. You must find it! The voice was Leika’s.
All things serve the life force! The voice was unknown to me but familiar. It was the origin and the end of all life. The heaviest of all metals would sink to the lowest of places. I stared toward the water. We need a traveler … someone to send to other worlds with the end of this one.
The unbinding was happening … I could feel it. A shadow rolled like a ball beneath the waves and I dove toward it. It found me when I found it. I was a moon sized rock hurtling toward Earth, becoming smaller as the world became larger. I carried the seed of destruction with me and it was growing.
Expansion happened at the rate of ten just as I entered the Earth’s atmosphere. I was inside a semi-dark translucent sphere suddenly larger than a planet then larger than a star system. Larger than ten star systems then a hundred. A thousand – ten thousand and a hundred thousand. A million and ten million. A hundred million and a billion. Ten billion and an entire galaxy. Ever growing consuming the universe. I was unbelievably large and still growing. A trillion galaxies then a hundred trillion then a zillion … to the edge of infinity!
It was near the end that I realized that I hadn’t been growing at all … size like all things travels the road of eternity. I was shrinking – compacting - becoming a black hole with unimaginable mass. A billion minds from the plant world of Diona willed me to carry the seed of destruction beyond … to a universe no longer bordering this one. I was at the place where all things become as one and singularity becomes everything. It was the end of all things. It was darkness and I slipped through the fabric of time … just before the largest explosion possible … and the beginning of all things.


TO BE CONTINUED …





Monday, December 3, 2018

PLANET OF GOLD part 4

Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.



Keeper and the
PLANET OF GOLD
Part 4

By R. Peterson

You and I have been alive since the beginning of time … and we will journey together through an infinite number of worlds … forever.
I fell asleep holding Leika’s hand, or at least the stems, rhizomes and leaves where her fingers used to be. But the profound truth that entered my subconscious was no dream … it was advanced Viridian communication. The interior levels of Gugo Ventbong’s command-ship were strangely silent. After an hour of ferocious attacks the Gorwat had succumbed to the Viridian protectors that Leika’s mother, Queen Delicia, called carriers. An enormous bee-creature made of a super strong metallic alloy had landed on the destroyer and inserted a stinger-like probe through the heavily shielded hull. Instead of an explosion, an odorless gas, that made animalia species sleep, had been injected into the ship and every crew member, including Leika and I, had been rendered unconscious.
The holograph display, that dissolved walls, floors and ceilings on the vessel, had been activated sometime while we were sleeping and I wandered through the various levels gaping in awe as we rocketed, along with an escort of Viridian ships, through the strangest and most fascinating galaxy in the universe.
Giant rhizomes with leaves as large as moons grew outward from massive planets connecting other living worlds through the unimaginable distances in between and even surrounding stars and nebulas. These plantae life forms were the most well-organized in the cosmos for capturing and utilizing the vast energy in this far corner of the universe in the most efficient and resourceful ways. They were also the most dangerous. Ventbong’s command ship vibrated with plasmatic energy of a type not utilized by any other living organism. “Any offensive action on your part will result in immediate liquidation!” The communication originated from Leika but I had no doubt that it was a warning from the Viridians. They were using the Centurion’s Organic Science Officer as an interpreter.
“I wouldn’t know where to begin … even if I wanted to commit suicide,” I complained to no one in particular. “The weapon systems on this lizard-sled are designed for scaly claws and insect-catching tongues!” I noticed an echo as I sloshed along a circular passage designed for creatures at home wading through water. I wanted the others to wake up; I wanted myself to wake up.
I felt isolated and desolate and I could somehow sense the Viridians reading my emotions. Leika finally appeared at the end of a lighted corridor. “What have you done?” she demanded. I thought she was standing just behind a plant with yellow blossoms … but she wasn’t.
            “I told you to water that Spider plant hanging in your Quarters at least once a month or it would turn on you!” I told her.

-------2-------

            Leika stared at her leafy fingers as if she hadn’t seen them before. She shrugged her shoulders and made the yellow blossom covering half of her face shake. “I’ve been told I resemble my mother … even more so now I fear.”
            “How is your mom?” I asked.
            “She is now almost totally attuned to the Viridians,” Leika said. “And she looks it.”
            “I don’t understand why we were attacked,” I said. “Ventbong told me he had permission to escort your mother to Viridio.”
            “The lizard king was just as stunned as everyone else when the Viridians suddenly became hostile,” Leika said. “I’m sure Keeper is to blame!”
            “What does Keeper have to do with all of this?”
            “The Centurion has been following us,” Leika said, “and has activated a new type of defoliant shield that prevents the Viridians from attacking it.
            “Teuth must have created a giant weed-sprayer,” I mused. “I hope he took into consideration the solar winds.”
            “This is no joking matter,” Leika said. “The Viridians now think the Gorwat bringing my mother here was just a ruse to allow an attack on their galaxy.”
            I had tried activating my remote communicator several times before but I tried it again. “Still no signal. The Viridians must have all transmission-signals blocked.”
            “My mother may be able to help,” Leika said. “Her extrasensory abilities have been magnified enormously during her transformation.”
            “I hope so,” I said, “because I have a feeling we’re going to end up as plant-food.”

-------3-------

            The Queen of Promo 4 no longer resembled a humanoid or even a member of the animalia species. She was growing out of a large crystalline container obviously filled with liquid nutrients. Beams of constantly changing blue-green light swirled around and through all parts of her foliage. “This can’t be your mother,” I gasped.
            “Oh, it’s her,” Leika said moving closer so the rhizomes extending from one half of her body entangled with those of her mother. “She’s been lamenting my presence here for hours!”
            “You mean lecturing you?”
            “No I mean lamenting,” Leika snarled. I wasn’t all that surprised to see tiny thorns emerge from several of her stems. “She thinks I’ve already brought my life to an end.”
            “Mother! First Officer Bland needs to contact the other crew members of the Centurion. Can you help us?”
We waited for what seemed like an eternity. I must admit Leika had developed an abnormal amount of patience along with her new leafy-body. She stood there calmly gazing into nothing. It was driving me crazy. Finally leaves began to vibrate on both the former Porosities and a strange greenish holographic display appeared about our heads. Teuth lay in his specially designed sleeping chamber aboard the Centurion. The land-adapted cephalopod’s eight tentacles floated in green sea-water. I had seen him in this state hundreds of times but was now amazed at the resemblance to Leika’s mother present state.
“Can I talk to him?”
“You can … but you’ll be entering his dreams,” Leika said.
“Dreams?” I was stunned. “But I’m awake. How can that be?”
“All plant life … even on your Earth, communicate with animalia on a subconscious level.” The soft voice was suddenly everywhere and I instinctively knew it came from the queen. “Humans are most susceptible to this advanced form of communication when they are asleep. Those who live in large stone and metal cities, far from abundant plant life, seldom if-ever dream. They become stagnant and self-centered, only concerned with advancing their own status and missing the abundant beauty-of-creation that surrounds them.”
I suddenly understood why half of the Centurion’s gigantic bulk, the rare species acquisition vessel that I served on, was devoted to more than nine massive biospheres each resembling a small world with oceans, forests mountains and streams.
            “Touch me,” Leika said. “If you wish to make a connection.”
I reached out suddenly unsure of myself. “Place each of your fingers gently against one of my leaves … and then relax.” Leika’s smile looked crooked because of the yellow blossom covering one half of her face. “Try to enter into a sleep-like state.”
I was absorbing something through my fingers. It sent feelings of euphoria rushing through my body. Like a sexual encounter it suddenly reached a climax and I found myself floating … not inside my own dreams but in another’s …
            Teuth moved along the ocean floor. In the distance a cluster of caves could be seen shimmering in the blue green water. He was going to investigate the beams of light sweeping the gardens of underwater flora, ignoring his mother’s warning to stay inside the shelter. The lights were familiar and when he stopped and almost turned back, I urged him on with my thoughts. It’s only a spaceship collecting rare and unusual species from across the universe. Do not be afraid!
He ventured on and I suddenly could feel his anguish and fear as he was captured by a tractor beam and pulled inside the vessel. Until this moment I hadn’t realized that the Centurion’s navigator was himself an acquired species. I felt guilt. Was I the reason he was taken from his home? Teuth was a crew member long before I left Earth. How could that be? Then I remembered Teuth explaining the secrets of the universe to me when I was first brought on-board. “Time moves forward and backward,” he explained. “The things an individual does in his or her lifetimes affects not only their future … but their past as well!”
As Teuth struggled being pulled toward the collection ship a cloud of silt muddied the ocean bottom. His dreams were shifting, this time to a very recent occurrence. When the water cleared Teuth, Keeper and others were on the bridge of the centurion. A hologram from military command on Maltese 17 was being transmitted. Admiral Yoádem Frizge appeared floating in the air above their heads.
            “Intelligence has confirmed that two of your crew members have been taken by the Gorwat to the Viridian galaxy. We found their empty shuttle-craft floating in space on a course set for Promo 4.  We have also learned that the Queen of that world is also missing!”
I could see Keeper speaking to the others. “First Officer Bland and Leika must be for some reason accompanying her mother.”
“As you know with the deteriorating situation regarding Midas 7 we can’t spare any military ships.” Admiral Frizge said. “You must pursue your abducted crew members and stop the Gorwat from reaching Diona at any cost. The Viridian’s massive governing planet occupies the central point of a million rotating stars. Half of the gargantuan sphere is covered by an impervious-to-light shield made of dark matter that moves against the world’s natural rotation to provide days and nights.”
            “If Leika is going there with her mother the queen she must be going along of her own free will,” Keeper told him. “She is not a species easily taken against her will.”

            “That may be,” the Admiral said. “But our intelligence has also discovered that unbeknown to the Gorwat Commander Gugo Ventbong, his command ship is secretly carrying an inter-dimensional particle-detonator meant to liquidate the Viridian capital planet and at least a thousand surrounding star systems.”
            “That’s insane!” Keeper said. “Why would the Gorwat do such a thing? Their own vessels would be destroyed as well!”
Admiral Frizge held out his hand and a replica of the Midas 7 appeared to be floating just above his webbed fingers. “Humanity has long known that certain precious metals can infect intelligent hominid species with a rare and incurable disease called greed,” he said. “The Gorwat don’t want just this planet of gold. They appear to believe that an entire galaxy is filled with planets of gold … and they are willing to sacrifice millions of their own people including Ventbong and his fleet to get what they want!”
I removed my fingertips from Leika’s leaves. “There’s more,” she said, but I shook my head.
            “Maybe later,” I told her. “We don’t have time.”
She shrugged. “What do we plan to do?”
            “Find that bomb,” I said.

TO BE CONTINUED …



               

Sunday, November 25, 2018

PLANET OF GOLD part 3

Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.



Keeper and the
PLANET OF GOLD
Part 3

By R. Peterson

            The hologram didn’t do justice to the Gorwat flagship’s reality. As soon as Leika and I were transported aboard I noticed the density of the hydrogen and oxygen swirling around our feet. It felt so strange, as though we walked, or rather, paddled through warm water. Naturally this created condensation, humidity was off the scale and we might as well have been inside a Turkish steam room. This wasn’t at all where I wanted to be but Leika’s mother was onboard and where Leika went … I followed. Lizard-like crew members crowded us. I felt like a meal-worm about to be eaten by these creatures. Leika had to push her way through to where Delicia was.
            The queen looked to be more than half plant. Stems and leaves had replaced several fingers and one half of her face was a yellow blossom. “Momma!” Leika cried throwing her arms around the mutant creature that lay on the hospital bed.
            “Your dear mother has lost the ability to correspond vocally,” Gugo Ventbong, the military leader of the Gorwat, said. “Perhaps if you try some other method of communication?”
            “What have you done to her?” Leika’s eyes were like laser beams coming to full charge.
            “I only tried to make her comfortable while we journey to Viridio.” Ventbong held his webbed hands outstretched as if in surrender. “You and your friend ….” The War Chief glared as if daring me to suggest there was more to our relationship and be killed on the spot. “are of course welcome to come along.”
            “Thanks,” I said. “But I think Organic Science Officer Leika, her mother, and I, will all be returning to our own vessel.”
            “What are these?” Leika pointed to a cluster of what looked like IV tubes connected to her mother’s veins.
            “Nutritional feeding lines,” Ventbong said. “Your mother’s new chlorophyll structures need a constant supply of nutrients to grow and flourish. Queen Delicia is now a composite of two distinct species groupings plantae and animalia …. Kill one and the other will die.”
            “The only thing your mother has going for her on this ship is fertilizer,” I told Leika loud enough so all the Gorwat could hear. There was a humming sound … laughter … and then everything went black.

-------2-------

 Leika was standing over me wiping my face with a damp sponge. That wasn’t like her! “Where are we?” I tried to sit up but she pushed me back onto a bed.
            “About three-hundred and eighty-five light years from Promo 4,” she said. “Ventbong Left about two-thirds of his armada blockading Midas 7; the rest of his ships are traveling with us. They just enabled their reverse light engines so we’ll be much farther away in a few seconds.”
            “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck,” I moaned.
            “What’s a truck?”
            “Never mind.”
Leika finally allowed me to sit up once she was sure I would crumple to the half-liquid floor. “I’ve been examining my mother. I think Lizard breath is right. She needs help from someone who understands this cross species mutation. The Viridians evolved much faster than any other plantalia life-forms in the galaxy. Their vastly superior technology is far reaching and difficult to understand. If only I could communicate with my mother. She might be able to tell us what’s going on with her body.”
            “Do you think your mother knows you’re here with her?’
            “I’m sure she does. She only has one working eye. The other side of her face is a blossom but that eye follows me as I move around the room.”
            “Ventbong said for you to try another form of communication. What did he mean by that?”
            “I don’t trust this king of lizards,” Leika said. “Obviously Ventbong has tried to communicate with her, but my mom probably resists. I think they want to use my mother as an interpreter when they enter the Viridio galaxy.”
            “I guess returning to our own ship is out of the question.”
            “The Gorwat know I won’t leave without my mother and they’re right … she won’t survive unless we get her to Viridio.”
            “Why didn’t they kill me?”
            “I told them you were my servant.”
            “Thanks.”
            “Don’t thank me. I’m a harsh and demanding mistress. When you’re able to walk I’ll have you running errands all over the ship.”
            “How is your mother doing?”
            “Not good. I was glad when Ventbong increased his ship’s velocity. The leaves where my mother’s fingers used to be … are turning brown!”

-------3-------

Leika was good for her word. In less than twelve hours she had me running errands to all parts of the ship while she was attending her mother or arguing with Ventbong on the bridge. I brought her costly pilfered Disperian designer shoes from a storage level dozens of times that were either too large, too small or the wrong color. I took demanding instructions to the ship’s galley about how she wanted her food prepared along with numerous complaints and ended up being chased through six levels by a Master Chef with centipede legs and twenty rows of teeth. Before twenty-four hours had elapsed, I was exhausted and took her flashing pager from around my neck and flung it across the room as I collapsed on my bunk.
I was back on Earth dreaming …. Before …
Leika was shaking me. “I just need a few minutes sleep,” I told her.
            “You’ve been out for twenty-two hours,” she said. “I told Ventbong you passed out from one of my beatings.”
            “That’s one of your most endearing qualities,” I told her. “You never lie.”
Leika ignored my sarcasm. I was beginning to believe that being prisoners of the Gorwat had changed her for the better.  “I’ve had a breakthrough communicating with my mom,” she said.
            “You spoke to her?’
            “Not exactly.”
Leika pushed me to one side and lay beside me. “I was holding and stroking the leaves where my mother’s fingers used to be until I became exhausted,” she whispered. “I went to sleep and my mother appeared to me in my dreams. I know what you’re thinking … but I’m sure it was really her. It makes sense. You make contact with plants by touching their light-receptors and then they communicate to you via your subconscious. Mom said it is very dangerous going into Viridio and that we have to watch out for something called carriers.”
            “I wonder what she meant by that?”
            “I don’t know. Her leaves are very brown now and are turning brittle. It’s getting very hard to make contact with her.”
            “I’m sure that once we get to Viridio your mom will recover …. Although you might be taking a large house plant back to rule Promo 4.”
I was expecting at least a slap or a large chunk of my hair pulled out for my insensitive humor but Leika just snuggled up next to and went to sleep holding my hand. Leika was changing. Who would have thought that on a ship filled with Gorwat lizard warriors … she could become so human.

--------4-------

When I woke up Leika had peeled my clothes off and was shoving me into a cleansing chamber. “I’m going to send you to the engine and navigation levels today,” she said. “I want you to become familiar with every part of this ship. When the time comes for a mutiny, we have to know exactly where we’re going and what we’re doing.”
            “Mutiny?” I laughed. “There must be ten-thousand Gorwat aboard just this ship. If you can’t control Ventbong with your charms, how do you expect to control his crew?”
            “Ventbong wears a Bosh armband that blocks almost all of my seductive powers,” Leika said. “So far, I haven’t been able to persuade him to take it off.”
            “So what’s your plan?”
            “The Bosh armbands are insanely expensive. Only Ventbong and a dozen of his highest officers wear them. I’ve already caused a few accidents with his lower ranking crewmembers.”
            “Accidents?”
            “Yeah. Yesterday an airlock and an exterior hatch came open at the same time and sucked about a dozen lizards out into space before the emergency systems kicked in and sealed everything.”
            “Gorwat system controls are almost impossible for humans to learn. How did you manage that?”
            “I didn’t have to,” Leika smirked. “I promised I’d kiss the first crew member who brought me a rock from a small moon we were passing. How was I to know they would be so competitive?”
I laughed. “This is indeed … a ship of fools.”
            “Not really,” Leika said. “One very large lizard with a very long tongue actually held his breath and did return with a rock when the others didn’t. Uggghhh I still can’t get the taste out of my mouth!”
She was silent for a long time. I was almost asleep when I heard her whisper. “You don’t have a moon rock, do you?”

-------

Leika began to spend more and more time in her mother’s medical chamber. Days passed, and I didn’t see a glimpse or hear a whisper from her. I couldn’t believe that I was actually missing her. The atmosphere inside the Gorwat command ship began to change. Crew members were on high alert. I knew we were getting close to Viridio.

-------5-------

The entire Gorwat command vessel began to shake rattle and roll as ear-shattering sirens exploded on every level. I was on my way from the engine levels and searched for Leika but couldn’t find her as I transported to the bridge.
Ventbong and his commanders had turned the ceiling and all the walls into a three-dimensional holographic display so that they could watch the ongoing battle. The Gorwat armada was being attacked by what looked like giant insects. Interplanetary rhizomes connected hundreds of planets called hives. We watched what looked like a giant bee land on a Gorwat Destroyer, pierce the hull with a humongous stinger and fill the insides with explosives. The tremendous blast that followed made the power in our ship flutter for a few seconds. This same thing was occurring hundreds of times as we watched. The distant stars were suddenly blocked out by constant explosions and massive clouds of flying monsters.
            “What are they?” I yelled.
Ventbong was too busy frantically directing his fleet’s defenses to answer. His warships were sending out thousands of decoy vessels to try to keep the invaders at bay. Exploding rings a thousand kilometers in all directions were not enough to stop the onslaught.
            “Carriers …these are creatures that prevent harmful species from entering Viridio.”
Leika spoke from somewhere behind my shoulder. I spun around and stared. Leika’s anxiety over her mother had revealed her softer side. Although we’d not even exchanged a kiss, over this past few weeks I’d come to know the Organic Science Officer more intimately than any lover.
 Stems and leaves had replaced several of her fingers … and a small part of her face was now a yellow blossom.

TO BE CONTINUED …