Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Greathites 77

This week Great Hites has a special guest host, Arlene Radasky.

We had two stories, From Ashely Redden and <--------- This week's WinnerWinner
Philip (Noval Joe) Carroll.<--------- This week's WinnerWinner

Thank you so much to Arlene. Her help this week was invalauable

Download this weeks Episode.

Don't forget you can discuss the stories or anything else on your mind in our forum here

 Rescue Mission
By Ashley Redden

First Striker Cayhill Banning checked his telltales again, more out of habit than need. A lifetime of reliance on spacecraft and more imminently Space suits had taught the soldier that it was far better to become habitualized to checking vitals than not. So he checked the telltales of his suit every few minutes, mostly subconsciously. Such habits had so far kept the first striker alive through situations thick and thin, usually more thick than thin.
Banning looked to the left then the right. The members of his squad, six counting the first striker sat upon the nose of the ship spread out in a standard entry wedge formation. The five soldiers were all ablebodied marines, ranked first ablebodied through third ablebodied. Banning preferred and even requested that any marines sent to his squadron be straight out of basic. He preferred to train blank slates. Once they began thinking for themselves it was all downhill from there.
Besides, they were all ablebodies to him. Once his marines began insisting to be called by names and worrying about things like rank, it was time for them to move on; they were of no use to him anymore. He didn’t have time to worry about losing people, but losing ablebodies didn’t weigh so much on the conscience. What First Striker Cayhill Banning and his marines did was dangerous work. A person had to keep their sanity any way that they could.
Banning’s soldiers sat upon the hull of the ship in the exact same repose as the first striker, each suit bonded in three places to the plastimetaloplasma hide of the assault vessel Kellan. The feet of each marine and rest bar extended from the back of each perspective suit were bonded to the skin of the ship making each marine in essence a tiny living piece of the Kellan.
The soldiers would stay attached until each marine’s suit released the contact points. The metal contact surfaces of the suits had been changed from one state of matter to another, from metal to metaloplasma.
Were the ship to be attacked and the Kellan’s hull blasted and ruptured beneath the their very feet, though each marine would be long dead from the impacts by then, they would still be just as attached as they were now. The first striker smiled as he wondered when miracles had become commonplace so that things such as the ability to ride on the nose of a spacecraft barreling through space would become routine.
Maybe it was his age. After 113 years of active service, just about anything could become pedestrian. The First Striker was 138; soon he would be hitting the big 1 5 0, middle age. Banning hoped to reach 300, but only if he was still wearing combat suits and knocking the teeth out of some smart ellic puke’s mouths.
‘You never know,’ thought Banning. ‘I might even outlive the Kellan.’ The First Striker smiled mightily, his smile was almost too big for his helmet.
The Kellan was shaped something like a great fat bird, without an extended head and the wings were not wings as such but more like thinner extensions of the ship’s body. Some of the navy pukes that drove the vessel had told Banning earlier that Kellan came from an ancient race of humans that spoke a language called Gaelic and stood for warrior princess.
Banning had no idea if the puke was telling him the truth or not but since ships were supposed to be female, if a marine had to be on any ship it seemed fitting they would ride the warrior princess. Actually, he would have preferred to name it just that, but Banning didn’t think like a navy puke and they sure didn’t think like a marine.
Most of the pukes acted as if they had obtained their brains from what normally resides in a toilet, but the first striker had to give them some grudging credit. At least they got the marines to where they were going and picked them up after the mess, most of the time. So he guessed everything must have a purpose, even a navy puke. Pukes may have a reason for being, but nobody said that he or any other marine for that matter had to like them.
He looked out across the vastness from his perch near the nose of the Kellan upon the bright green globe of the moon CM-3. The moon loomed large even though the ship was still several mega clicks distant.
As Banning studied the moon, it was impossible not to also consider CM-3’s mother planet as the behemoth filled the horizon. The gas giant Chalkos stood out against the pitiless black of vacuum as if some great hand had dropped a reddish-orange plate with a slightly metallic luster upon a tablecloth of the darker than can be imagined ochre.
The planet so resembled natively occurring copper that it had been named after the metal. Banning had no idea where the word Chalkos came from or what the connection to copper was. Some smarter than he should be navy puke said the association was there. Banning asked what the relationship was and the dirty puke had answered, “It’s Greek to me,” and then roared in laughter with his smart ellic puke buddies. The first striker had to restrain one of his marines from going after the puke. The puke sneered and left, but the first striker thought it was a pretty good bet that Banning had just saved his arrogant puke life. First Striker Banning’s marines played for keeps.
If the planet Chalkos was a great plate, then the moon CM-3, which was so named as Chalkos moon number three, looked like a bright green marble that had been dropped and forgotten upon the red plate’s surface.
Banning shook his helmeted head. Sometimes just the scenery alone was worth the job, not always, but sometimes. First Striker Cayhill Banning settled in for the long wait, but he remained restless, he always remained restless and continued to check the telltales of his suit every few minutes or so.
The operations officer of the Kellan transmitted, “First Striker Banning, ready for soft dock.”
Banning replied, “Roger.” Soft dock meant that the ship would get close and the marines would jump across, with the aid of their suit propulsion. Being a marine was not a job for the faint of heart.
Banning readied his troops for disembarkment. The operations officer had already reported that all scans had come back negative. The science station was five-by-five intact and all systems operational though each at the minimum setting. The scans showed no signs of life whatsoever. The science station glittered black haloed by the bright green of CM-3. The station had gone quiet a little over two standard years ago. It would be up to Banning and his marines to go over there and find out what happened. Or more accurately, to make sure the place was secure so some of the brainier navy pukes could come over to piece together the puzzle.
No matter, the first striker had a job to do and do it he would.
The operations officer called the soft dock and Banning’s marines launched in quick succession across the black void and landed onto the science station’s dock. Within minutes, the marines were inside the station, one ablebody was stationed at the lock, and the rest proceeded with quiet precision in the direction of the station’s operations center.
At each of the two major junctions within the station, Banning left an ablebody and moved on no resistance met, no life found. When the marines reached the operations center, the first striker moved to the other side of the large single console that dominated the confined space.
Several monitors were active, though dark. The central monitor was bright with words on the screen that read to play message push blinking button. Just below the monitor a single blinking button flashed. All the other buttons along the console were either dark or a steady green.
Banning reached forward and pressed the blinking button.
A picture immediately appeared on the screen of a small child standing in the very place that the first striker now stood. The marine to his right gasped and put her free hand to her face as if to touch her mouth.
Banning snapped, “Control yourself ablebody. You’re a marine, act like one”
The marine lowered her hand and answered, “Yes first striker.”
Banning looked back at the image on the screen and understood full well how his marine felt.
On the screen stood a small child, for all appearances human, but…the child was completely nude. There was a great red welt that ran from just below it’s chin to where it’s legs met. Where the child’s sexual organs should be there was nothing but smooth skin, parted by the welt. As Banning looked at the welt, he licked his lips and blinked in discomfort. The welt was red as red could be but it didn’t look infected. Actually, the more the first striker studied the red line down the front of the child, the more it reminded him of a weld, like a seam that has been melted and sealed. The first striker shook his head.
Other than the welt, the skin was completely unblemished, too much so in Banning’s opinion.
The hair on the child was cut in a pageboy style, as if a bowl were placed upon it’s head and the hair that peeked out cut off. The child’s complexion was a ghostly white, it’s hair jet black.
Banning and both of his marines gasped as the child spoke.
The child stood weaving slightly back and forth it’s hands clasped cutely before it smiling it’s sweetest smile. The child said, “Hello. You are probably wondering who I am and why I am here.”
The child smiled even bigger and continued, “First of all I am not so much of a who as a what. As to the what, the scientists who discovered me called me a tickler because they said I tickled them when I interacted with them. When I was first discovered, you see, I was not embodied. I am not sure exactly what I was made of because the scientists never figured that out, so how could I know? I was able to enter the scientist’s minds and speak with them, like a child at first, but I learned so quickly. When the scientist first discovered me, I was unaware. I was simply there orbiting the planet below and feeding from the complex gravity system of the planet or moon as the scientists called it.
Once I realized that there was a me, an I, I began to experiment with the scientists at first to help them, but later to help myself. I began to delve into the natures of the scientists. They were rich in diverse feelings and thoughts; every new discovery was a revelation. I must admit that I was a bit intoxicated by the emotions of the scientists at first. Unfortunately, I used most of them up quickly, humans I found out, are so very fragile.
But later, I was able to move more slowly and the last few scientists lasted much longer. I craved the flesh that they so took for granted, so I made my own.”
The child released it’s hands and turned from side to side with it’s hands out showing off its pale unblemished flesh, unblemished except for the great red welt.
“I read in one of the last scientists mind that it is customary to leave a recorded log for the final survivor. So I decided to record this message.”
The child pouted and momentarily appeared sullen.
“But I grow weary of speaking into this dumb machine. Machines are no fun, they are so cold and don’t feel anything. I have great need for new specimens to continue my experiments so that I may grow and develop. There is no way that I can go back to what I was before. I need more humans, many many more.”
Banning was shocked at how much the thing on the monitor looked just like a petulant human child.
The child leaned forward and placed both small hands onto the camera, just out of the picture’s screen. The child’s expression darkened and became very intense, it did not blink.
The child whispered, “I have discovered from the memories of the scientists that lived here before that it is customary for trumpeters to herald a king. I will soon be your new master, soon all humans will aid in my quest to improve.
The herald is supposed to announce who or what is coming. I believe that a scream would be better than some silly trumpet and a more appropriate harbinger of my arrival. Yes, a human shrieking in anguish and torment would truly announce who and what I am”
The child’s eyes filled with blood swirling in from all sides until the entire eye, pupil, white and all was black, unreadable. Tears of blood began to form in the inner corners of each of the child’s eyes, slowly methodically. Banning watched with morbid fascination as the tears formed from small dots that swelled slowly as if he could watch the shape grow and bulge until finally the tears tumbled from each eye down the child’s face marring its perfect complexion with foul scarlet streaks. Two tears crawled down the child’s face in unison, slowly followed by two more, then another pair. The blood tears did not stop.
The child with the black eyes whispered, “I hope that the journey back home is long. It will give me plenty of time to get to know you better, better than you know yourselves. Thank you so much for coming to rescue me, I have been so lonely. I will see you soon and our new life together will begin. Listen for the scream that shall mark the dawn of my arrival.”
The child looked for a moment longer into the lens, it’s face looming large, the eyes black and the blood tears plummeting down it’s otherwise too perfect face. The child’s head turned slightly and leaned to it’s right. The picture flashed and vanished. Words appeared on the screen stating that to replay the message push the blinking button. Banning stood, shocked to the spot looking at the blinking light.
As the first striker stared at the small blinking light trying to decide if what he had just seen was real or not, he snapped his head up as a blood curdling scream sounded through the entryway, from somewhere down the hall. The marines to his left and right snapped to attention and brought their assault rifles to bear on the opening.
As the marines listened, they could hear a great panting cry that grew louder and louder finally erupting into another scream that turned into a penetrating howl of pain. This time it did not stop. The screamer did not seem to take a breath as this scream continued on and rose in crescendo to become an all encompassing shriek.
Finally, the sound seemed to lessen, then sounded wet, gurgling and finally died away.
A giggle drifted down the hall that could have come from a child at a candy store, all sweetness and joy.
One of his ablebodies said, “Oh my God.”
“Easy marine.”
Banning stood in the middle of his marines that he had trained to meet all possible situations with fierce professional determination and had no idea what to do. For a few never ending seconds he was as lost and bewildered as a babe in the woods. Finally, he shook himself out of his stupor and swallowed hard.
Banning keyed his transmitter by staring at the icon on his helmet’s heads-up display.
“Operations here.”
“Send someone to the marine’s section and enter the armory and access the artillery locker. Send the weapons from the artillery locker across to the science station.”
“First Striker Banning, are you requesting that the ship’s personnel go to the marines section and bring you those weapons?” replied the Kellan’s operations officer with a great deal of incredulity.
“Correct, but send them on a remote controlled sled, no people. Do not, I say again, do not hard dock with the station”
“Let me get this straight Banning, you want the navy to send some guns to your marines?”
“Not guns, but weapons and yes we need more. All we currently have are assault rifles. Strongly suspect that there is an alien presence aboard the station. Suspect that all station staff members are dead, I say again, suspected alien presence aboard station. Send the extra weapons as soon as possible.”
“Which weapons,” asked the operations officer?
Banning glanced to the right; the ablebody didn’t look back at him but he saw her cut her eyes his way then back forward. His marines remained focused on the entryway weapons at the ready, tense and edgy. Banning nodded ardent approval, his mood dark and ominous.
First Striker Cayhill Banning said, “Send everything we’ve got, all of them.”

Some wise man once said ‘in space no one can hear you scream’ which in itself is quite true. But place a vessel of some sort in space. Fill said vessel with that gaseous cocktail normally referred to as atmosphere and unlike in hard vacuum sound waves travel extremely well. In fact, not only can any and everyone on board the vessel hear you scream, but there is nowhere to run to get away from the sound. And if the scream is loud enough and long enough and at just the right pitch, it may even echo also. But have no doubt, each and every scream will most definitely be heard and be heard well.

Apollo 26
By: Norval Joe

“Houston, this is Anderson. We will begin our pass behind the moon in less than five minutes,” the mission commander said. “We will resume communication in an hour.”

Anderson waited for Houston’s reply. When none came he looked at his companion in the small lunar orbiter.

“I don’t know, Harry,” Captain Baker said to his superior, “maybe we’re already blocked.”

“We shouldn’t be for another few minutes. Look at the mission clock,” he said, confusion evident in his voice.

“Houston, this is Anderson. Do you hear me?” he asked, but there was no reply.

“Look at the log, Carl. When was our last communication from Mission control?” Anderson asked.

“You’re right,” he replied, shock and concern in his pensive whisper. “It’s been over half an hour. I’ve been concentrating on the lunar orbit so much, I hadn’t noticed their absence. They should have checked in fifteen minutes ago.”

“We better check all our instruments and find out which are malfunctioning,” Anderson said, thoughtfully, “I’ll bet mission control is going crazy, not being able to communicate with us.”

“Right,” Baker said. “I hope it’s just us, and not them that has the problem.”

Baker worked with his instrument panel, flipped switches and turned dials while watching the various gauges and indicator light.

He spoke into the microphone. “This is Captain Baker of Apollo 26. Do you read me?”

He waited, and a moment later the words crackled across the speaker system, ‘This is Captain Baker of Apollo 26. Do you read me?’ as the radio waves bounce back at them from the surface of the moon.

Anderson went pale and said, “well, we can send and receive. We’ll just have to see if Houston can in...18 minutes.”

They watched the monitor view of the moon's surface and waited for the earth to rise above the horizon.

Even before the earth was visible, Anderson began. “Houston, this is Anderson of Apollo 26. Do you read me?”

He repeated the words over and over, more frantic with each repetition until the earth was fully above the crater pocked, curved, horizon on the monitor. Small pin pricks of intense light flashed occasionally across the North American continent.

“What, the...” Baker began, but realization dawned on the astronaut at the same moment as it did on his companion.

“A nuclear strike,” Anderson said, “Huston is off line. Try Cape Canaveral.”

"I'm on it. Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral, this is Apollo 26, do you read me?" Baker fairly screamed.

"Nothing. Damn it. Now what? Edwards Air force Base?" he asked Anderson.

"Try," was all Commander Anderson said.

"Edwards, this is Apollo 26, do you read me?" Baker said into the microphone.

All that returned was static. The two astronauts neither spoke, nor looked at one another as they pondered their options.

Baker fiddled with dials on the control panel and listened for patterns in the static as he slowly moved the receiver from one band width to the next. He shook his head and sighed. "Are they all dead? Is there no one left alive?" he asked the air in general.

The continuous stream of static made a faint "pause, pause, pause," sound, and Anderson shouted, "Hold it there."

He leaned over to Captain Baker to watch the other astronaut work. "Fine tune that one," he said.

Baker turned the larger knob. It moved the indicator needle a small fraction of an inch at a time. He set the volume as high as it would go.

Faintly, they heard one side of a ham radio conversation.

"...as I can tell....yessir....all network stations are down here. No TV or AM radio. How about you?.....no...no idea....Yeah, I got food enough for a year, or so. Can even live under ground.......no....don't know what good that will do if the rest of the world is gone...Yeah, check back with me tomorrow...good luck..."

They listened a while longer, but there we no further comprehensible transmissions. Their fears confirmed, dread filled the small capsule.

"Harry," Baker asked?

"What, Carl?"

"Do we continue our mission, or just head back now?" Baker asked.

"Right." Commander Anderson smiled grimly, "No sense hanging out in space. Let's go back."

Anderson stared up at the monitor, the earth hung unnaturally above the grey and black horizon of the moon.

"Keep transmitting," he said to Captain Baker, "hopefully there is still someone waiting for us out in the ocean. If not, it's going to be a long swim to Florida."