"Starship Endevour" an alternative universe Star Trek episode

 "The Prodigal pig" A funny Christian story :)

 Two more science fiction stories:

 "First Dibbs"   &

 "Among the Sea of Stars"



The author remembers Sputnik , “One small step for a man” , & Kirk's Enterprise...

This series is set on a real star ship in a real universe using real technology and done in the real Naval way...

Having been a Quartermaster / signalman in the Real floating service, the Coast Guard, where there Are Still Iron men and tin ships :). This series is dedicated to the Bluejackets, the lower deck, who crew these ships...........Lewis Brackett August 21st, 2016 www dot lewishb.TV


“The Endeavor Voyages”


Scene one:

The Narrator speaks while the camera pans the bridge of the ship.:

United Terran Republic 2130 AD -- 173 AS ( After Sputnik) :)

UTR System Ship Endeavor 001

The first manned exploration outside the Solar System...

Unmanned probes with plasma torch propulsion have been sending back reports from the nearest stars for the last 30 years. Finally mankind has realized the dream of interstellar flight Inside Einstein's universe.

The theory had been proposed in the early years of the 21st century... Now, 100 years later, an interstellar ship can thrust itself along by literally expanding the universe behind itself and compressing the universe in front of it. … Just like happened in the legendary Big Bang !

Very carefully of course, and a starting “safe distance” from Earth !!!

set details:

The 5 officers sitting in front of displays in the back of the room, with about a dozen enlisted ratings at their stations around the bridge area...


Captain Anson tells the officer of the watch Lt Rush, , “pipe “ secure ship for leaving dock, & reports”

Yes Sir, she responds.. “Quartermaster, pipe the same”... Secure ship for leaving dock and reports”, "Aye sir" Quartermaster Crocker replied, then opened the ship-wide speaker... Spoke “ Now, all hands, all hands, Secure the ship for departing dock, all departments report secure to the Bridge... that is all”

echoed throughout the ship...


“Clean up that mess, Faster” the chief cook in the galley growled at the mess men..." I'll scrub the deck with your faces if you don't get it done yesterday”... 'Yes chief” they echoed, and they scrubbed faster...


In the paint locker seaman Jenkins nervously waited and waited for his petty officer to come have that “talk” with him—alone--, wondering if the “talk” would involve the petty officers fists .... And in the elevator ride up to their station two lovers had a tender moment for the 40 seconds the elevator would take....


Seriously, things haven't changed too much in 300 years, quartermaster Crocker daydreamed, thinking about a ship of the line sailing past the Plymouth harbor entrance leaving England to join Nelsons Armada off the Spanish coast... as some of his family had done in centuries past...


Brought up short by his impatient officer.. “Crocker, I havn't heard anything yet” to which He replied, “Ah- No green board yet, sir, no one reported in” to an unhappy face from Lt Rush and the Captains similar impatience... “See you write everything in your rough log, quartermaster” she said... “and I want to be able to READ it this time” “Yes Mam,” Crocker replied” and to himself “No, nothing much HAS changed in 300 years” and “at least they don't do flogging anymore” smiling to himself...


Finally, 11 minutes more, Quartermaster Crocker was able to report “Lt Rush, Greenboard; Ship secure for leaving dock sir”... the captain nodding, saying “bring her out lieutenant” She looked a little startled, then replied “helm, signal docking clamps off”... in a moment the ship was UN moored...

The slow centrifugal motion of the station at Luna Lagrange point Two propelled the ship outward away from the station.

Then “engage maneuvering jets, stabilize our departure”she added as the ship drifted away from the station... ensign Henry nervously echoed the command as he hovered over the autopilot ...

Quartermaster, “Raise Ship” the captain ordered ...QM Crocker echoed his order, then toggled the speakers to play the anthem of the fleet throughout the ship; and the surrounding space--to the music of a conductor centuries dead...


In 25 minutes, the helm said: “ ready to light the plasma drive SIR” the captain looked at his display again, checking all the co-ordinates … then taking a breath replied “Light the torch” and a few moments later a mile of incandescent flame followed the ship... everyone snuggled into their chairs at the ¼ G of the acceleration... the floor really became the floor again.


scene two


“Quartermaster, pipe full gravity drive in 10 minutes”, the captain ordered... “full gravity drive in 10 minutes, Aye Sir” QM Crocker echoed... then on the ships speakers “:Attention all hands, full gravity drive in 10 minutes” …

A few minutes later, all departments once more reporting ready, the ship lept forward at full thrust giving them their first full “gravity” since leaving the station...

It would be a couple days before they would be far enough away from Earth to engage the Star Drive.


"Mr Hakim", the captain spoke. “As is tradition, you as first officer, an officer from engineering, and the junior deck officer will join me for supper in my cabin... I've heard you play a mean game of Wist”?he asked. Mr Hakim smiled. “That has been said, Captain Anson ” “ by malicious losers, I'm sure” Captain Anson replied... “Very well then, 1800 hours & find those other two who play-but not too well” he added, grinning. Both men smiled again...

“I have paperwork” the captain announced, then disappeared into his adjoining sea cabin.. then stuck his head back out the door. “ call me if in doubt Lt” he said, then disappeared again...


A few minutes later the reliefs for the next watch appeared on the bridge... after 5 minutes of relaying ships information, the deck officer was relieved, then each bridge rating reported the same to the new Deck officer and filed below...


act three

Crocker entered the mess deck, hoping those mid watch sandwiches hadn't all disappeared “Hey Cookie, where're those sandwiches", he called out... The mess-slave stuck his tired face out of the kitchen door, , sighed, spoke “a few on the table other side of the bug juice” “Got several on my heels now, got enough?” the 'slave mumbled unintelligibly, then Crocker saw a dozen left... and it looked like the bug juice hadn't been cleaned in –forever-- you had to hold your nose drinking it... but it couldn't be worse – maybe- than the navy coffee... That coffee maker definitely hadn't been cleaned in months... too many rates definitely wanted that hard acid “real Navy” coffee... “Hey, Crocker”, Jenkins said...

“got any ham left” “you take what Mid Rats R' left, Jenkins” Randal quipped..." Hey, what happened to your face?" “had a talk with my PO” Jenkins replied... "he wasn't happy"... “ Is he happy now?” Crocker laughed... “Don't know yet”, Jenkins replied... "he hit me twice and I brought a hurtin on his head with a pipe I had stashed on top of the cabinet... He's still there, I shut the door—coming back up here, I relented a bit and piped needed assistance to that compartment... They find him & patch 'im up, guess... Might be in the brig tomorrow” … “we'll see” Randall growled, wolfing in his turkey and bacon...


"Why weren't you at the Pequod last night”?, Randal faced Crocker..." we waited for Hours for you to show... closed the place 'bout 2?"  " I was with my girlfriend," Crocker replied. "You won't find a decent girl in a place like that." Randall, redfaced, muttered something intelligible, then some PO got between them said, “to bed with the lot O' You” !!They swigged the last of that awful juice, then left together............


Meanwhile, act four:


Wist, thought  Lt Rush … thinking back years... I played it back when................ then the captain and 1st officer finished with the bridge watch, turned towards the sea cabin, Captain Anson nodded towards his juniors, entering... then collapsing into his deeply padded chair, announced “ Wist Gentlemen”.. Then said, “Oh, and lady”, with a nod to Lt Rush...


Lt McLeon from engineering asked to shuffle... did such a quick good job, everyone looked at him in suspicion... "Stacking the deck, Highlander?", Rush quipped At that everyone laughed.. 1st Hakim replied, "I'll deal", took the cards and concisely set 5 cards before each... “Like in Nelsons Navy?” Rush quietly asked? Captain Anson pursed his lips, “why, yes,ancient tradition ” he replied... "A game of Wist the night before action” “Said Nelson played the night before Trafalgar” “So We're supposed to engage the alien battle fleet tomorrow morning?” Rush said in sotto voice...

“I hope not” Captain Anson replied... “Our main armament is what pistols are in each officers safe... I dont think that would do much good up against an alien battle-cruiser with Laser pulse cannon”... “Me thinks you've read too much Sci-Fi” Hakim quipped... everyone laughed... “None of our probes have caused a response from any alien microbes so far” McLeon answered... All smiled...

“Anyway, to some cards” Captain Anson stated... And everyone examined his cards..........

---insert some card playing here---

After an hour and some un-orthodox playing by McLeon, Captain Anson called it a night... “win often, Highlander?” he challenged everyone chuckled.. “All the time, captain”, McLeon replied with a grin, then they parted...


Act Five

1st officer Hakim entered his quarters... Unlike most crew he had a room of his own... he stopped just inside the doorway, pausing to look at his family shield and crossed spears of the Masai warrior above his family altar... He then crossed the room bowed his head in a few moments of respect to his ancestors and his God... He found himself torn anew between his tribal gods and the missionary's God... Somehow he felt himself believing in both—and neither --as a man of science; and an officer in “the Service”...

Yes he had grown up in Nairobi, gone to pre-college there before being selected for the Naval Academy...

However his soul was still in the vast expanse of the Kenyan savanna, his lithe Tawney body moving like the wind, then stalking prey with his spear and shield as millennia of his ancestors had done...

And later that night laying under the expanse of the heavens as the great dragon moved majestically across the sky...


The first of my kind to the academy-and now to the stars- he thought in both pride and humility... I must be true to the code of the warrior... of my family; of my people... several minutes later, a beeping from his bedside console awoke him from his trance...


Act six

The “lower deck” was not really happy... or his section anyway, Crocker could see.... Jenkins had been put on report for just defending himself, thats how the lower ranks saw it anyway... While “their lordships” (meaning those in charge anyway) took a dim view of anyone striking a superior, be it a petty officer even... in centuries past it would have been a hanging offense, however things were not quite that dramatic today... Rumblings and rumors were that the PO was in as much trouble as Jenkins... As you can't have an officer or petty officers even assaulting their subordinates... so the discussion went back and forth in the bunk room... the room slept six, but some 30 people sat, lay, and stood around, the most vocal of then holding on how “”they”” --“their “lords and masters” should call it even and forget the whole thing.....

Crocker was trying to lay on his bunk but with two others sitting on it too it was a bit crowded :)

He didn't push them off with his feet as there was enough fuss going on anyway as it was... So he just lay there not listening any more then he had to to the opinions and cussing going on around him... his headphones and music did help to somewhat drown out -at least some- of the din, but only somewhat...

That went on back and forth forever... however finally some people filtered off, someone shouted “Hey enough already- Revillie in 3 hours-- I gotta get some sleep”” then the uninvited guests finally left so Crocker and the few others could get some rest...


The phone rang and Candy quickly reached over and fumbling strangled it before it could wake her partner beside her... It was one of those social media updates-at 0330??? then Candy saw the video footage of her and Sam kissing during that elevator ride going to Quarters during “Raise Ship”... Some twerp had seen the clip on the security camera and actually posted it !!! Her claws came out and she swore that that nerd twerp creep would pay with his/her/its Life,,,, when she tracked IT down... Sam asked sleepily, “whats that”? “Nothing, my love go back to sleep” Candy answered... and fumed to herself.... That twerp who posted their private moment--He/she/IT will pay!!!


Act seven:

A day/ Crown/Shekil later, QM Crocker mused as he filed onto the bridge with the rest of the evening watch... this was the big moment they had all been waiting for... in a short while, the ship would be engaging the Star Drive... to the Great out beyond, to the Far Star... The Torch had driven them on a course above the Solar Eliptic in the general direction of Proxima Centuri... To the world the media called “Pandora” After an early sci-fi epic,, Orbiting in the Goldilocks zone around a red dwarf star... The two probes sent in its direction had missed close aproach-badly it turned out... It was really hard to change course going a third of light speed... however, what results that were sent back were taunting and tempting... an oxygen, nitrogen atmosphere with some water vapor... yes tempting enough indeed...

Even though the planet looked a lot like Mars from the long miss distance the probes achieved...


Crocker communed with on watch QM Stephens... “Whats the word, Stephens”? “Greenboard, Crocker” She replied.. “maximum Torch, about ready to transition to star drive” she frowned... “guess you'll win the Jackpot” she added... “We all wanted to be on the bridge in the Big Moment... Now they say a little over an hour till Star Drive” “some say it might turn you a bit inside out for a bit” she grinned... “Looks all in shape Stevens, You're relieved” Crocker announced, turned to the new bridge watch officer Lt Rush. “Mam, I have relieved the QM” “Very well” she said. And to all, “ I have the watch” to various echos “Aye Mam” from around the bridge.


Up over the eliptic Crocker mused we sure dont want to run into anything... even our hundred yards of special Ice and the hulls ablative shielding wouldn't help much hitting a rock big enough... However the LiDar should pick up anything of any size first in time for us to sidestep it... cant turn at these velocities, but can push the ship sideways fast enough to avoid anything we Can see... Its the stuff you Can't see that could chip away our shields... and thats bad...


About then, 1st officer Hakim came out the Captians sea cabin's door, said: “about 45 minutes, Rush” Aye sir she replied.

Hakim then sat in his seat next to the helm... Toggling his intercom, “Engineering,Bridge” he said. “Lt McLean here 1st, “Mclean replied... “Ready to throttle down the torch?” Hakim asked... "Yes Sir" Mclean replied. “Ready to throttle down' “ Commence at 2020... off by 2100... have the drive warmed up by then” “Commence 2020 off by 2100 Sir. Already warming up the star drive coils sir be ready soon”McLean replied...”Very well, How long before we can go fast, McLean?” “As soon as she's ready sir,” McLean replied... Hakim sighed, “Very well, Let me know” “ “Aye sir” came the response....


“Gravity” got less and less. The captain got out of his sea cabin before he had to swim for it... just barely, Crocker noticed with a grin, meeting the captains eye. The captain had the grim look of responsibility & command...

“How soon, engineering"  he asked Over the intercom... “in a few moments sir” was the reply.

Then Crockers stomach felt like it was being left behind as the ship surged forward... someone threw up across the bridge... then he felt like he was catching up to his stomach... The captain, a bit green looking himself, roared “What are you doing down there McLean ???” getting the reply “about got it adjusted, sir... The fine tuning is a ##&&**#--sorry sir” he said a moment later, obviously hassled...

Finally the surging subsided and the ship surfed forward as on the crest of a huge wave...

The forward view screen showed the outer worlds flashing past way under them as they picked up speed....They did still have a feeling of inertia, and “gravity” Crocker noticed... guess we can only go so fast or we would be sause on the deck... red sauce, too, he noted with a wiry sense of humor...

“Lost comms”, radio announced. “Very well”, Lt Rush replied. “Help LiDar watch for rocks” “Aye Mam” he said...


Really strange, Crocker thought... The forward view screen has a fish eye lens look, off to the side you can almost swear you see motion of the stars moving while the aft screen seems more wide angle... Maybe we're lucky we can see out at all...


His friend Cheryl sided up to him and murmered “Harry, this whole thing is making me -, well you know"... Crocker smiled back “Got the same feeling, Cheryl” he wispered back... "See you after watch?” She nodded, and moved back to her station... the Watch officer had been too mesmerized by the forward screen to notice...

Kind of a rush he thought to himself... I'd pinch myself trying to see if I was really here, but then Cheryl would have to kiss it to make it better...... he mused on that a while....... sounded great to him...

The remainder of the watch seemed to fly by, and before you knew it, their reliefs were there getting the scoop on what was going on... relieved, and yes relieved, Harry and Cheryl left the bridge together ... A few minutes later, after getting a bite to eat, they were taking the others clothes off and snuggling in bed...Her bed...


Act eight

The noon mess deck was a madhouse... everybody babbling, some much louder as trying to convince the whole table and maybe ajoining tables they were right... The loudest were-usually right-, Crocker dryly observed... or at least got the most attention... the Jenkins controversy still got center stage at three tables in the middle of the mess deck,, some junior Petty Officer exclaiming that it was Jenkins fault as he had wised off to his PO, then others shouted him down that his PO was an arrogant fool and deserved to be hit in the head... that just maybe his smart ass arrogoence might even get knocked out of him, if not by Jenkins then by them-All... Couple even demanded the PO be bum rushed to the showers and scrubbed within an inch of his life... with lie soap lest he lay a hand on one of them again... Babbel, Crocker smiled...

At an adjoining table,  Sheila was all but mugging some poor wimp from Electronics accusing him of posting the video of their tender moment  in that elevator... To catcalls, laughter snickering from the others... for a while it looked like she wanted to take on the whole table... finally, a senior PO from another table told them to “Stow their jets” shadddduppp in the commoner lingo... so with bad language and venom, she backed off, still erupting over what would happen to the guy if she caught him in a dark lonely place...


Act nine

In the Wardroom, decorum reigned... Well sort of anyway.... the officers were Ladies and Gentlemen.

Or at least the law said that they were... far above the “motley crew”... Engineer Mcleon was holding forth in his dark Scottish brogue on how it just wasn't his fault that everyone's stomach got turned inside out when he engaged the Star Drive.... “You see, laddies”, he tried to explain, “you just havta finesse ships engines like a reluctant virgin.”

To 1st lt Hakim, “Ya cant just pop the clutch like in your vintage Ford and stomp on the pedal”

By then everyone was laughing... “If you drop your transmission way out here, its a LONG walk home... And the nearest tow truck may take a while”... more laughter...

Mcleon was on a roll so also said to 1st: “I cant help it, laddie, if the gear gets stuck tween park and first” Hakim was holding his sides he was laughing so hard...

I trust next time will be smoother? Hakim gasped, “ Well you just never know about reluctant virgins”

the Highlander replied and everyone was helpless in laughter....


Finally, after the laughter subsided, McLeon added “we just dont have automatic machinery yet to smoothly transition to FTL... That'ill likely come-with time...


Scene Ten

The last part of the evening watch was always good, Crocker mused... All the officious unpleasant people were already in bed with only the Bridge officer and half a dozen ratings on watch...

How long to far star he wondered? Even the best minds in the establishment didnt know...know how fast they would be going & when they would be getting there... Some said two weeks , some said two days... The best they could do was keep the Centuri group just below the center of the screen... When the visual seperation of the Centuri suns reached a certain number of degrees, they had better adjust course and be ready to put on the brakes..He smiled at that ufamism … Come out of FTL and approach Proxima Centuri using the Torch... The moment they saw the tiniest disk, of Proxima, it was time...

A lot like the old navigation technique of parallel sailing in the days of Iron men and Wooden ships... He thought it was ironic that they would be resorting to a navigation technique a millennia old...

Sail up the coast to the latitude of a city then sail East Or West until you-almost- hit something :)


A few minutes later as he was thinking about the Sci-Fi he had read and how it had influenced his choice for the space service, Crocker's friend Cheryl inhaled sharply, almost a gasp, drawing looks from across the bridge... I think I have the right separation ,.. mam... she hastily added... Deck officer Rush punched the Engineroom comms button... “Engine-room-Bridge” She called. A rating answered and she loudly ordered “tell that duty officer be ready to stop Very soon, we're almost there”

She then toggled the Captain, getting a tired voice... Ly Rush stated” We have the right separation of the Centuri system sir” to his reply “on my way” almost immidiately Captain Anson came through his doorway, running his hand through his unruly hair... “How long ago” he asked? “Just now sir” Rush answered. Jones on the LiDar just noticed... The captain squinted at the distorted screen, not really sure how anyone could measure the distance between the suns through this seeming fisheye lens..

Considering how long we have been underway, sir, and this fact gives us a approximate speed of the drive... my guess we may have 4 hours before we must put on the brakes, sir” “about there give or take a short while sir” she added. “Very Well, call Mr Hakim” he ordered. “Aya Sir” Rush answered looked at Crocker. “I'll call him sir ah Mam” He corrected himself.. A few moments later, Hakim's tired voice answered. “Your wanted on the Bridge Sir' Crocker stated. This is QM Crocker and the Captain is here.

We have the correct seperation of the Centuri system sir”

“ On my way” Hakim replied.

1st Hakim is on his way Sir” QM Crocker said to both officers. They replied “Aye” in unison, then smiled at each other...

Three minutes later Mr Hakim opened the door to the Bridge... “You have the next few hours, stop the ship at your discretion, call me when you light the torch or as needed” the Captain said to Mr Hakim, then he retired to his sea cabin... Hakim's “Aye sir” saw his back.


Scene 11

Crocker had this dream that he was floating, almost being sick... then he woke to the noise and smell of someone retching in the hallway... Close that door, he hollered, waking up the rest of the people in the room. Then realizing he Was weightless, & without the pervasive hum of the star drive... All of a sudden he just HAD to go to the bathroom, unbuckled his bunk strap and pulled himself into the bathroom—after slamming the hall door cutting off the sight of that doubled over wretch in the hall way and his smell... Finally after 5 minutes he was feeling a little better.. By now they could hear the gradual ramping up of the plasma torch, and were getting a little gravity back... Crocker pulled himself over to the viewing screen in the room, keyed in the Bridge forward view screen and all four saw the tiny orb that was Proxima almost center of the screen... Well, someone else said “its not going to change very fast and I've got to get back to bed”... In a couple minutes they all agreed and offed the light... Before going back to sleep, Crocker remembered that other guy out in the hall and reported him to medical... then he was dead to the worlds as soon as his head once again hit his pillow....


Scene 12

“Great, Hakim, you're up” the captain said as 1st Hakim entered the bridge. “Seems we're about to orbit” Hakim replied. “Yes, and a magnificent sight” the captain replied... “We'll be going into a polar orbit so the mappers can get everything... looks like its kinda barren around the equator, but lots of clouds and water at the higher latitudes... We've even seen small seas through breaks in the clouds.” he added. “So thats where we want the landing team to go” Hakim half asked and stated. Yes, I understand Ms Rush is a geologist, have her lead one team, and you lead the other. Take Fredrick, He's competent with climate and Earth sciences... Round out your teams with talented rates”Captain Anson stated. “Aye Sir. QM, contact Lt Rush and Fredricks... and yes, ….......Johnson as well, have them here in 30 minutes”. “30 minutes, Aye sir” she replied, and it was so...


Scene 13

The landing craft was certainly hitting every pothole, Crocker mused as they broke through the clouds...Lots of turbulence , maybe even a thunderstorm building... He couldnt believe his luck... guess Rush more than tolerates me he smiled to himself... She had said “Since you're into ancient languages, history, archaeology, Crocker, I want you along” “For comms, Lt”? he had asked. “your friend Jones seems competent” she had replied... So the four of them (with Lt Johnson) had been one team... Hakim had chosen the other. This LCEP was spartan, but sure held enough stuff... Most of the science stuff had half a mind of its own and would be scattering around like hunting dogs on a scent once they touched down... Planetary science scans had sniffed out a suitable landing site on the Northern side of one of the higher latitude seas on a stip of land just a few Kilometers below another smaller sea... had said the weather & climate should be fairly good there... The air was thin but breathable at sea level... simular to about 9000 feet on Earth... The tempertures about 75f degrees today...This worlds Equatorial highlands would have been almost as inhospitable as Mars, and very very hot...


Lt Johnson was sitting in the front next to Lt Rush who was doing the piloting... “Right there, that level spot next to the sea”, he exclaimed, and Rush brought the craft to a stop, then after a moments hesitation, brought the craft into a landing... 1st Hakim's party were hundreds of miles away...


They were already in their isolation suits, and it only took a few minures to cycle Rush and Johnson through the airlock... She stepped out first, said “We're here” Jones quipped you mean a small step for a girl and giant leap for womenkind, dont you! “ They all laughted... “Johnson and I are going down to the ocean, you two see the 'bots get to work” Rush ordered. Both echoed “Aye Mam”


After a few minutes, the 'bots out & running around doing 'bot things, Harry said to Cheryl “ those rocks over there sure look wierd” the whole surrounding area was just a gentle slope down to the sea...


So, hand in hand they walked the 200 yards over to them … A few yards away Harry suddenly stopped, his heart skipped a beat then  he said  "Cheryl, my Love, these were buildings !!! He had seen simular things in digs in Assyria... yes, everything was well worn by centuries;  mellinnias of wear through sand and water, but yes, these were buildings... Then stepping through what may have once been a door, before him was a wide squat truncated cone of noble metal polished but not at all eroded by the ages and as they stood in shock, they could see ancient inscriptions engraved on it, but in no tounge Harry had ever seen... His first impulse was that he was looking at a combination script, both pictrograms and writing as the Egyptians had used.... Looking back over his shoulder at the acre of flat landing zone he immidiately saw that it to had to have been constructed by someone or something eons ago...

All of a sudden, Harry remembered his duty.


“Ah, Lt Rush, mam, we have buildings and a written language here... interested”?

Where-away” Rush replied. “those odd pile of rocks a couple hundred yards from the Craft are buildings- and we found writing; lots of it” he replied... “on my way” Lt Rush  said.


10 minutes later they too were awe struck at the find, slowly circling the ancient artifact.


“Wonder what it says” Johnson finally asked.

“an old poem sums it up nicely, I think” Harry replied...

“I am Ozymandias king of kings look on my works, ye mighty, and despair--- and around the broken half buried statue, the desert stretched far........


They all smiled at that... an hour later, as they had found no other relics, they returned to the Craft, whistled to the “bots who came scurrying back. A couple minutes later, Lt Rush raised ship



The Beginning

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The Prodigal Pig and other stories

We all remember the parable of the Prodigal son...

However there was also the Prodigal Pig...

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9

We have heard the story of the prodigal son from Luke 13, but have you heard the story of the prodigal pig? That's in the Bible too. (see 2 Peter 2:22


The Prodigal Pig Grew up in the pig pen, like most of us... His momma was a pig his daddy was a pig... So were his brothers and sisters...They all did piggish things... every once in a while, Oscar (Or in pig Latin, “oink snort oink”) would find his way out of the pig pen through a hole in the fence and wander all over the farm yard looking at the cows, being chased by the geese, rooting up veggies in the garden... but mostly at night, cause the farmer would get mad if he was seen doing it in the daytime... that way someone else would get blamed... And of course Oscar was always underfoot at lunch time, nearly knocking over the farmer as the slop bucket was poured into the feed trough...

However Oscar was vaguely aware that the slop came from the farmhouse and maybe just maybe there was more and better slop in there... So, in the evening he would plant his soft nose onto the kitchen window, see the nice way the people in the house treated each other... Not at all in the piggish way he was used to and the food looked much nicer that what he got in the pig pen...

So one day when the youngest girl was playing in the yard, he stopped and watched... The girl stopped skipping rope came over to him and asked Oscar if he wanted to come into the house and meet God...

Now Oscar didn’t know about God or who He was or even if He was... But the food looked really good on the evening supper table...So Oscar replied, Yes, I'd like to try this God thing... The little girl squealed with delight, ran back thto the house, got her sister, and the both brought out a pail of hot soapy water and scrubbed him really good... The hot bath felt SO Good!!! Wow this is gonna be neat, he thought... Finally, they tied a big blue ribbon around his neck, and led him into their fathers house..

Oscar was amazed by everything he saw... finally, when their parents came home, the girls told them about Oscar... Now they were happy that Oscar wanted to find God, and to leave the pig pen. However they were also a little skeptical as to why... However they wanted to be good Christians, so showed Oscar his room with a bed, and told Him not to be late for dinner... At the word “Dinner” his ears perked up a a big smile across his face... He went into the living room and was puzzled that the family watched the same stuff on TV as he did at home... but he said nothing of course...After all this was a Christian home and GOD was here...Finally, dinner was served... And Oscar watched everyone really closely as to his table manners and everyone said they were so glad he was there...

After supper, the whole family gathered in their living room along with some neighbors and they did what they called evening church... This puzzled Oscar a bit because he thought that church was the big white building downtown... But it seemed these people did Church several days a week... very strange

.. strangest, though, was that the church elder who came from across town for the meeting said that all pigs were going to hell (wherever that was) and so were everyone who dug up other peoples gardens in the night... Oscar squirmed in his seat a little at that... Why, that teacher was talking about Him!!! However he noticed a few other people looked a little guilty as well, so Oscar felt a little better...

The teacher also said that unless you were chosen by this God person to be saved, you were going to hell regardless of what you did... This confused Oscar... What did saved mean, and what was hell?

And if you went to this hell place, whatever that was, it sounded really bad, why would pigs leave the pig pen?

Later, he asked the little girl about being saved and hell... She said since he had been washed and was now in the fathers house all that didn’t really matter... Just be nice, clean, come sing songs, eat at the table stay out of the pig pen and Oscar had nothing to worry about...

Oscar was a little bit confused after all the teacher had said something from a book called Thess-something that said something like “No one believes in this God unless God makes Him”Read from a Bible called the “New Illiterate Version” He also said that if a person sins (whatever sin is) they will go to this hell place even if God called him... Called him to do what or to go where Oscar wasn’t sure...

And worse yet no one could ever go out and have any fun, watch TV or go to movies--(Oscar looked then did a double take into the corner of the living room and the TV wasn’t there.. A table with a floor length table cloth with a flower pot was there instead... a table the same size as the TV... Oscar stared until he got a reproving glance from the mother, then looked down at his folded paws... and then was lost in confusion....

Anyway, after much more what seemed rambling ranting, the teacher closed the church meeting with a prayer... everyone stood around taking about what a nice sermon it had been... then as soon as the food was gone, people made excuses and left... as soon as the last one was gone, the mother picked up the flower pot, the oldest girl whisked off the table cloth and the family sat down around the TV to watch the evening shows... Just like Oscar did back in the pig pen... This was very confusing to Oscar...

but the food was good, his bed was warm and soft so he said nothing...Near the end of the evening, they watched The living message from Brother Ralph's Universalist church... Brother Ralph promised that if you sent him money you would be forgiven from all your sins and that if you sinned more you were forgiven more and to be forgiven more you had to sin more...– as long as you sent him money...well, you were good--- Afterwords, everyone talked about how much they liked that message and just maybe they would buy Brother Ralph new book, “God wants you happy rich and giving—to his church”...

At 9pm sharp the TV was shut off, everyone went to bed... later Oscar wondered about this church stuff, sin stuff, his head swam in confusion...after a long time he fell asleep....


the next day as Oscar wandered about the farm yard, the geese chased after him laughing at him for believing in this church stiff... the sheep said it was all BAAAAAD news, the cows turned a stiff shoulder and when he walked past the pig pen mother pig snorted and shook her head in dismay...

Youl come back to the mud soon, I hope, she said and forget all this church foolishness... Then she turned her back on him and lay down and rolled around in the mud...


Oscar was ashamed with himself... He trotted down to the creek... there he saw some some rich gooey mud just at the waters edge... Oscar carefully untied his pretty blue ribbon from around his neck,

Then jumped off the bank right into the mud, rolled around around in it,,, it felt soooo good... Finally, he cleaned himself off,put his ribbon back on, then solemnly walked back to the house in time for dinner....


The next month, he played church, but once in a while went wallowing in the mud down by the creek

… after all, no one would know... and after all he Was a pig !!!

Well of course sooner rather than later a goose was winging her way back home to the farm from an illicit affair with a handsome gander and spied Oscar lounging around in the mud... The story was all over the farmyard by the time he got home... The sheep saw him coming and cried out Baaaaad Baaaad , everyone laughed at him... There was total silence at the dinner table that night... Afterwords, Oscar walked away from the farm down the dark road, looking for a pig pen he could comfortably wallow in where no one would know his name.....

There are both prodigal sons and daughters and quite a few prodigal pigs in every church...


So, where did The Christians in this story get it all so wrong?

Does getting washed, cleaning up your act get someone saved? Sadly, lots of Churches think so. The Episcopal church I attended as a child tought that church membership got you into heaven. They also deny all the doctrines of the faith...grace, blood attonement, virgin birth, resurrection, coming again... The Nicene Creed they say by rote every Sunday mentions these, but the priests dont believe it...

Hypocracy... There did not seem to be much difference between how the pigs lived and how the Christians lived, what they watched on TV... Pretending to be pious, they covered the TV with a table cloth when the Bible teacher showed up... really confusing Oscar...

No Discipleship .. no teaching about the doctrines of the faith,,, along with lots of christianese gobbdegook like saved, faith, hell, sin, and who was this God everyone was scared of-- or just pretended to be? All very confusing... And then there was the teaching the Christians agreed with that if you were a christian and “”saved”” if you sinned more you would be saved, forgiven more so lets go out and sin more---- Just as long as you didnt go out and rool around in the mud... that was a Legalism that would get you thrown out of the church...

Legalism-and seemingly endless list of rules you had to pretend to keep to stay in church to get to heaven... whatever wherever heaven was... No wonder Oscar was confused !!!

We all have a sin nature and find ourselves in the mud from time to time... A believer does not stay in the mud, Our precious Holy Spirit spanks us so we repent, wash off the mud , and once again enjoy fellowship with God...

Without the Holy Spirit we are helpless to keep out of the mud, or leave the mud once we fall- or jump- in... so why do so many people like Oscar leave the Church after a while?

  First  Dibbs


It was rock, Thomas thought, all rock, drifting in a void between the dying stars. A rock they would be transforming into enough energy to replace their needs for a long time. Must man eternally wander in the gathering intropic darkness , at the time when all the stars would be extinguished and these lonely bits of rock in their billions used to maintain their lives?

For now, Thomas thought, yes. They had no choice. His scout ship touched down on the planetoids mostly smooth and entirely barren surface. His fingers quickly told his machines where to begin drilling into the planetoids shell for samples of the ore they had sensed from orbit. Yes, they could transmute rock into metals and into energy, but it was far easier and cheaper to mine the minerals they needed than to create them. And presently, Thomas reclined back in his command chair and went to sleep.


The alarm bell rudely awoke him sometime later. After Thomas silenced it, he noticed a large ship approaching his world on his radar screen, rapidly breaking its swift approach.


Presently, a rather tired and annoyed face appeared on his computer screen. "Thomas 317, I presume?

This is commander John 8186 of the science vessel Robar 81. Our Corporation overheard your telemetry findings and sent me here. We have instructions to tow this rock to coordinates 001/01/01 immediately. Anchor your ship firmly, let us know when you are ready for the tow."


"Understood, Robar 81". Thomas replied in resignation. Now someone wants my find all to themselves . It's not often that someone finds a large amount of Trillium ore. I'm going to complain to my union rep about this.

Shortly, Thomas sent his ready signal. A rather beautiful Aurora of energy descended to and around the planetoid and it accelerated with the ship into hyperspace. It was many hours later that they emerged from hyperspace just outside a dead solar system, its Sun had long ago scorched its planets clean in its red giant phase and it was now a tiny red dwarf.


Sector 001/01/01 Thomas frowned. It sounded familiar. He did a quick search and notice that it was the coordinates of the solar system where man had originated. Wonder, awe, and a little uneasiness filled his soul. What in the world are we doing here? He asked himself, this place has been barren and deserted for over a billion years. As to answer his question, his computer chimed in a message icon demanded his attention. Somewhat hesitantly, Thomas clicked on the icon and Commander John 8186 appeared, looking at least a little less tired and harassed than before.


"Thomas, good. Our techs have coordinates ready for your drill rig. You are to allow them access to your computer. They will direct the operation from here." " Commander, what are they doing and why are we here of all places?"


The commander had an impatient look on his face and said patronizingly, "its science, Thomas, new science. They want to use the Trillium you found to open a wormhole. I don't know how. Just be glad these________ techs aren't on your ship". With that, the screen blanked off.

A few minutes later, his ship rose from the surface and over the next hour, drilled 11 holes in a two mile circle, then wires were drug into the holes by robots. Finally, several hours later, Thomas was ordered to join the larger ship a few miles from the planetoid. Thomas heard a count down to zero. First nothing, then all of a sudden a circular black vortex appeared above the planetoid and before Thomas could think to do anything, both ships were sucked into the vortex in a split second and spit out on the other side. Thomas blinked in astonishment at the light of a brilliant yellow sun.

Thomas checked his coordinates, but he could not find the Galactic navigation beacons.

"Are you all right over there?" He heard a voice asking, and he quickly turned on his video. "Yes, commander," Thomas said, hoping that his anxiety did not show it is voice. "What happened?" "Looks like we were sucked through the wormhole back in time," the commander said. "We aren't picking up any transmissions, so it's likely safe to visit the third planet, Manhome. In 5 min. we will engage planetary system engines," and so they did.


This world was beautiful, Thomas thought as his small ship came alongside the larger vessel a couple hundred miles above the planet. When they docked, commander John and four Marines came aboard. "Go to these coordinates, Thomas," the commander ordered. Thomas punched in the coordinates as he backed his ship away. In a few minutes, they were descending down through the atmosphere to a green plain between two rivers. As they got closer, they saw a city built out of mud brick and a large temple pyramid being built in its center.


"Land next to that pyramid." The commander ordered, And they did . As they exited the ship, all of the natives were on their faces before them


The commander turned on his microphone loudspeaker and spoke in a booming voice "we are your gods". As soon as the echoes died away, an equally booming voice replied from the heavens "no you're not" and two beings materialized in front of them.

"Among the Sea Of stars"               

   ...... A little over 6000 words in two episodes.

By Lewis Brackett 10/2011


The night sky was illuminated by the ancient blue white messenger star sending harsh shadows across the land scape. “Very far away and yet still a tiny disk” he thought, laying on his back on the sand, and staring up at it. … and two worlds not quite twinkling lay just above the ocean among the sea of stars.

Tomorrow I wont see this again-likely ever he mused.. Outward bound past our worlds, past the messenger star, the system, the worlds of The Collective. In several hours the sun will dawn in the sky, we will assemble and be gone.

What will we find out there? Will our training be enough for what we find? Or will we voyage forever into eternity never finding a world to set foot on again he mused. We don’t know. I know I’m not even supposed to think of these  things… but I do and what if the others secretly doubt also? Rumor always has dogged previous expeditions. There has seemingly been an undercurrent in their more and more infrequent reports back to the world as their voyages lengthen, then always fade away into final—silence.

From the beginning we have been carefully selected, indoctrinated, and given a desire by clever psycology to want to go into the cosmos for the good of the society but despite that I have doubts…… Others that have voiced doubts have disappeared , no explanation has been given, they are suddenly non-people that never existed. And no one ever seems to to question why.... Am I  so wrong that I ask WHY?

Now my Freydis is emerging from the shadows, softly calling me. I must go with her to await the coming day.The sun has risen, beautiful in its reddish glow that seeps into our cubicle from down the passage as I hear the morning call to assemble. My Freydis stirs also, and together we soon make our way to the meeting place.As they passed each cubicle, a pair joins their ranks and they go out into the early morning sun.

Across the Plaza they enter the Great Hall and form up row upon row around the raised center platform where imposing figures stand. “The Coordinator” Freydis gasped as she saw them. Gunner gave her a warning glance as the final group entered and took their places. After several minutes of inspiring music the Coordinator of the Collective spoke: “ Once a generation we send out a ship into the deeps of the Cosmos for the seeding of our great race. We ourselves are the seed of a similar ship hat crossed galactic space long ago. Our collective has chosen each of you as our best, has programmed you to your utmost capacity, and sends you out to the stars. May the originator of species guide you in your quest………………………...”


There was more, much more- but Gunnar didn’t hear it. He thought back to the years that had brought him to this point. From the first memories in his first class after becoming self aware to the new discoveries as they explored their world as a group. Always the group Gunner thought, never was a solitary thought or action encouraged., firmly group think was implanted upon every person-except me– he thought. I learned early to do what was expected and to say what was expected. I saw that those who rebelled simply disappeared.. … he shuddered… So as a coward or as a survivor I said and did what was required; asked and saw -nothing.


With her arm around his waist his Freydia urged him out of his daydream and to tword the exit, breaking his spell.Together, her hand in his, they walked to the waiting shuttle.Once seated in their couches, they heard the ancient anthem “Raise Ship” as the shuttle fell into the sky…..

It is very difficult to gage size in orbit as you have nothing with which to compare scale or distance. The ship grew in their view screen to enormous proportions. Gunnar knew from his occasional trips to the ship as it was building that if he was to walk on the outside hull at a good pace it would take him almost two hours to walk from one end to the other. He smiled to himself. Course that was unlikely as he would drift off into space if he tried. The artificial gravity was fairly weak outside the ship. And it was hard to breathe vacuum.


They approached the vehicle landing bay doors which looked like the mouth of the great fish he had sometimes caught years ago on the islands. Those fish were mostly mouth– just like certain section leaders he had experienced.The smile vanished as the shuttle’s docking clamps engaged, slightly jarring everyone. Well, they were “home”.The gravity here was almost normal. As they exited the shuttle into the cavernous bay, he saw row upon row of vehicles of every type and description plastered like large insects on every wall , as well as the force field that kept the atmosphere inside the ship’s bay even with the bay’s doors open. ’ I sure hope someone doesn’t push the wrong button turning off that force field he thought. I really don’t want to get flushed out into space’. The doors would only close once the great ship was underway.Just before entering the airlock to the ship he paused and looked back out the docking bay entrance and saw the crescent world in all its glory. Regret and homesickness flooded over him. Then his faithful Freydis urged him along.

Some time later they were in the ships 3rd conference room with 14 other couples. As the screened presentation ended, A figure came forward into the spotlight. “I am Griswald the 1st Officer he said. I oversee the ships watches and the running of the ship. Already most of the crew and all the colonists are in cold sleep, there will always be a few awake to monitor the flight and ships systems. This group will have the 1st 90 day duty. You will rotate 4 hours on 8 hours off in 3 watches. Green crew have the first watch. Then red and yellow. Green will report to the flight deck in 30 minutes time.The captain will command the 1st watch leaving the system. A meditation service will be held immediately here or all who wish to attend. It is encouraged.. That is all”. He turned and left.

“Guess we are fill ins for the ships crew”, group leader Hagin said with a half smile, as green watch gathered around him. “Gunnar and Freydis will be sitting behind the autopilot at the Navigation station and the rest of you HAVE READ ??? the watch list and know where you will be. I will be at the science station. To stations now, you want to relieve the watch 15 minutes early. If not you are late and we don’t do late”. Another half smile almost cracked his face “that’s all”

The flight deck was a nest of couches and monitors on a catwalk suspended in a large globe with view screens over its complete surface, an awesome panoramic view as if you were outside the ship in a space suit. It could take a little getting used to. You could get an attack of vertigo if you lost your orientation, your up and down. For this reason the screens were in sections with brightly colored borders around the “top” sections and darker borders around the “bottom” sections. You could see the mostly dark black star filled cosmos above them with the rapidly moving planet below them taking up almost half the scene.


The 1st officer swiveled around in his chair looking directly at Gunner and Freydis. “you will be mostly observing today” he said . “as the Captain and I will warp the ship out of the system. The machines should do everything

flawlessly. however if anything happens it will range from annoying to really bad. Annoying we can handle, bad, lets not go there. You have gone over the drills endlessly and are about the best we have.” With that, he turned around and studied his instruments. After consulting the latest space weather report, He moved the destination curser to a point about 15 degrees above the elliptic tword and above the navigation star. He said “ the first leg of the journey is to get us out of the system without running into any rocks or even into a hard dusty vacuum. Once out of the system we will go into a series of hyperspace jumps tword our first goal. We will see if the automated survey ships really saw anything useful”

“ 10 minutes Captains call” went out on the speakers. A few moments later the door to the captains day cabin opened at the end of the catwalk. And she emerged, looking like a Valkyriean.. A minute later, seated at the station next to the 1st officer, she pushed the “accept to launch’ button. The all systems all stations board in front of her was solid green. The computer then said “5 minutes to launch”. “final situation check” the captain called all stations. Each station audibly verified their launch OK. Finally, the 1st officer replied Nav GO. The captain entered her code, then pushed the final authorization button. The ships computer started the final 30 second countdown.

At Zero, the ships energizes pulled at the fabric of space in front of the ship and pushed at the fabric of space behind the ship and then slowly ever so slowly the great ship began to leave space dock to the music of great conductors millennium dead….. Then The world slipping away behind them. Soon, the world was only a tiny dot. The 1st officer said “ready for FTL drive” the Captain nodded, and they swiftly left the world behind…..then a short while later the outer worlds and then the messenger star, huge and green-white passed under them and they were out of the system and on their way to the stars.

Over an hour later, the Captain gave the order “rotate the ship tword destination, prepare for hyperspace jumps”The 1st office entered the nav instructions, pushed the “accept” key, and the ship aligned itself tword its destination. Finally, after a look tword the Captain the 1st officer touched the “go” button—– It felt to Gunnar that his insides were trying to trade place with his outside. Then they were outside Space-Time and doing a rapid series of micro-jumps. “set the watch” the Captain said, and Gunnar and Freydis came forward and occupied the Nav station. The 1st officer smiled as he said “be sure to call us if anything happens” the joke being that if anything bad DID happen, in a couple microseconds none of them would be there to notice.Freydis nodded, said “Yes Sir” and the watch was set.

On the view screens hey could watch 3-d representations of the ships progress outside the hyper drive field. It seemed that every few minutes a star system would flash by in the distance and be gone. In reality the ships drive was pulsing through space several times a second, far too fast for anyone to notice it. By the clock on the wall, the ship would exit hyperspace and pause for a systems check just as the next watch came on duty. “so we might just get below decks before the ship comes out of hyperspace” Gunnar thought. He smiled to himself at the eons old adage “below decks” …..Before the next gut wrenching jump . Or maybe he would get used to it. “they” said either you did or did not. If you did not, they put you in cold sleep for the duration, whatever that meant. Whatever it meant, he might loose Freydis. “they” might even pair her up with someone else. Even though it was cool in here he found himself sweating. They would have to if he couldn’t handle his watches. All to soon for him, the ship said “return to impulse drive in 5 minutes”

Freydis was about to notify the captain when she came out of her ready room and approached the Nav station. Freydis started to get up but the captain waved her back to her seat." I'll just watch” she said. The “accept” light came on. Freydis looked up at the captain and she nodded, so Freydis pushed the button and they returned to normal space. a wave of nausea washed over Gunnar and everyone visibly flinched at the effect. Gunnar thought that it wasn’t quite as bad as the first time, maybe he could handle it. He had to handle it. He wanted needed Freydis so for her he HAD to. “We are going to have to adjust the entry to hyperspace” the captain said. “It really should not be as hard on people as this”. Gunnar felt some relief. At least he wasn’t the only one.

“The captain said we will be coasting on impulse for a day or so while the engineers look for the right size screwdriver to fix the problem” Freydis joked before the group at the supper table. Her watch mates snickered. “I might have an extra one in my eyeglass case” said Odin . “you might lend them your glasses too" Lydia said. They all laughed…. “At least its not our watch our problem”, Gunnar remarked ”them that have the watch”—–”fix the problem” Shila finished the age old seafaring adage. They all smiled at that. “an engineers work is never done” Lydia remarked. “That is why I’m bridge crew.” They all snickered in agreement ….“Well, Gunnar”, she thought as she stroked his sleeping head. “you are doing better” The re-aligning of the hyper drive and the next series of micro jumps had gone much better. Only a mild being turned inside out feeling this time. “You didn’t turn green, just that you ate something you didn’t like” Freydis thought of their past. How she had hated him-and all filthy boys in pre school… how she thought his quirkiness kinda cute in middle school… and all of a sudden how she just had to have his rock hard beautiful body sometime later. “he's moody and silly and not always all here but somewhere else , but I still love you, you gorgeous hunk”. She smiled, snuggled closer and presently was asleep.

She awoke with a start then relaxed again “ must be the wind in the trees” she thought. Then noticed the clock hanging from the roof of the tent …. 30 minutes before wakeup. Well I’m up, might as well get him up too. So she started tonguing his ear and caressing him provocatively. He awoke and she quickly mounted him and they devoured each other, collapsing in each others arms just as the morning bell sounded. “You were saved by the bell”, she purred. “so, who wants to be saved” he responded . “no no” Freydis pushed him away and sprang up and out the door to the fresher as he chased after her… A few minutes later he paused outside the fresher, Looking around “camping in a tent “ he mused “in a rain forest-in a starship-going several light years a minute…. It doesn’t get stranger than that.” “out of my way, silly”.. She pushed him aside “ we’ll be late for breakfast” he followed her in as she burst back out fully clothed in a ??”What WAS that” ?? He grinned, went inside, through on pants and shirt and ran after her.

Lydia moved the piece.. And Odin grinned… “are you sure you want to go there” Freydis taunted. Lydia flushed a little “go ahead and heckle” Gunnar retorted. “you lost the last two games” Freydis pinched him Hard “ow” Gunnar said. Just at that moment, the ships vid program was interrupted for a special announcement. “our masters voice” Odin ridiculed. Lydia pursed her lips and said “now Odin, you shouldn’t speak ill of her majesties lover”,As the 1st officers furrowed face appeared on the Vid screen. They all laughed….He spoke. “ inertial navigation expects us to arrive at the first world for us to inspect shortly. Red shift has the watch while we decelerate and approach to insert into orbit. While the probe did not notice any intelligent activity, we will approach carefully. All crew must be ready for a very quick departure should the natives prove restless.” They all snickered again….. As he continued, they lost interest and turned back to their game. So Odin, you want to trade Lydia in for a green skinned lover,? “ Freydis taunted “hey” Lydia retorted mockingly swing her cushion twords Freydis . “I’ll have you know I keep Odin two busy to even THINK” —— at that moment the alarm sounded, and the ship dropped out of hyper drive, Gunnar turned green, and almost chucked his breakfast.

   “change the vid-screen’ Lydia yipped excitedly, and over the next hour they watched in awe as a pair of suns emerged from two stars ahead, one yellow and one blue.. “that would sure make beautiful sunsets” Gunnar murmured, entranced as the suns enlarged and the ship dropped tword a planet circling the yellow sun, the blue sun paling into the distance…… “Oh you fuzzy headed wuss” Freydis said softly, planting a kiss on his cheek, caressing his neck. “Always the romantic. Maybe that is why I love you” her other hand strayed. “and of course this is the other” she murmured into his ear. He awoke from his daydream with a start, and they giggled softly together.

      Everyone was riveted to the vid screen so the others pretended not to notice them.

At the end of their bridge watch, the 1st officer approached Gunnar and Freydis. “The orbital survey is about complete” he said “ We have wakened 4 planetary specialists, they should be ready for a shuttle flight to the surface in a hour. They need pilots, I’m not going to trust them totally to automatics. Freydis will be the pilot and Gunnar, you will man the weapons. Nothing seems to be moving down there. No radiating energies detected at all. But all virgin planets have unpleasant surprises. We don’t want surprises. These techs tend to wander off oblivious, so watch them” with that he turned and strutted off. They looked at each other. “better than waiting and watching from here” Gunnar said. She nodded. “not too much green down there, “she said as they watched the planet swiftly pass below them. “Small seas fringed by a belt of green and then lots AND lots of desert. no structures at all ” ……..

Gunnar felt himself being pushed into his seat as the shuttle accelerated out of the shuttle bay, the world a brown mist as the dawn approached him. After a couple minutes Freydis keyed in the approach vector and the shuttle dropped tword the daybreak terminator as it caressed the eastern shore of a small sea.“looks like we have a full day to walk about” Gunnar said “ my feet hurt already” “well, you didn’t have to come” Freydis said. “Linda was just itching to” “ Don’t think I would let some alien have you for lunch, did you” Gunnar asked? “I want my girl back in one piece” She looked both amused and resigned as an amused chorus of chuckles came from behind them. The senior rock guy said “we spotted Extensive ruins over there from orbit, and a number of other locations acrost this world. “ pointing to higher ground klicks from the sea. “ Yes, but our instructions are to spend the morning by the sea shore” Freydis said. “ that’s where any life may still be found”. “this does look like a dyeing world.” They buzzed the trees at the beach and came in for a landing in a meadow a short ways from the shore. “ Everybody out” Gunnar said as he shut the visor of his suit., and grabbed his rifle. The tall blond rock guy Alfred laughed “ So your going hunting” he teased,No Gunnar replied “its to shoot the first and 2nd guys that even look at my woman” They all laughed and filed out of the craft.

   “Sure wish we didn’t have to wear these isolation suits” Alfred said, “it looks like a nice summer day” “If you don’t we’ll have to leave you here “ Freydis said shortly. “get busy digging or sifting or whatever it is that you do and we will see to it that you don’t get eaten by the wolves” “What wolves, I don’t see any”__” What ever might find you tasty” she retorted, turning and stalking off ahead of them tword the waters edge.“Yes sir Captain sir” someone snickered behind her. She stiffened, paused for an instant, then let it go and walked to the waters edge. The ferns and trees were all the way down at the waters edge, thirstily drinking in the life giving liquid. The techs went to work busily examining everything. Gunnar felt foolish carrying his rifle, but as the Captain said, you just never know. It looked like flesh eating ameba might swarm out of the trees at any moment nibbling at them. Gunnar sighed. He wanted to be the only one nibbling on Freydis.

    He looked around. The green belt extend back from the shallow sea only a few hundred paces. Then nothing but sand and rock. And not a cloud in the sky. “We could breathe it, he mused, enough oxygen, but what else we might breath in as well could be a problem”. “A little more than the usual background radiation in the plants ” the enviro tech called out. “but not enough to hurt anyone “That’s odd for sure,” .Gunnar thought as he read the readings. “Must be in the soil”. “so don’t eat the flowers” he said.” They smiled.

They poked, prodded collected everything for several hours. Then they finally turned their back on the sea. After decontamination, they relaxed in the shuttle. “not much here” said Alfred. “ no life but algae, amoeba, fungus,, not even any bugs” “So much for your big game hunting, Gunnar ” someone heckled.They all laughed….After lunch we will try the higher ground beyond the sea’ Freydis said.


    “Weapons Launch” The weapons station bridge officer loudly said in alarm. The Klaxon went off briefly, and the Captain boiled out of her ready room onto the bridge, closely followed by the 1st officer. “A missile has been launched at us from the inner moon” Weapons said. “Our ship automatically launched a defensive missile and is activating our close-in defense grid… its now on line, Captain” “Stand by to launch a 2nd and get us out of here”

“It will take 4 minutes to get the engines spun up Captain,” Navigation said. “We don’t have four minutes, the Captain said. “A close miss, but the missile is veering off said weapons “ Launch two, get heavy fighters ready for launch, ready three” ordered the captain. “Two is away “said weapons. “Launch bay is already scrambling fighters, estimate 3 minutes to launch” “We may not have three minutes” the Captain loudly insisted. “a few seconds later “Missile destroyed” said weapons. “then “No more launches, but tracking radar still coming from the inner moon.”“One minute to ships drive” Nav said.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the ship slowly started moving. “I want us 800,000 klicks above the outer moon’ the Captain said. “NOW” “800.000 Klicks, “ Nav repeated.“Both fighters launching” weapons said. Three minutes later, “fighter has weapons lock” then “ launching anti-radiation missile” then a large puff of debris was seen from the inner moon. “that was TOO CLOSE “ the Captain said. “ask the fighters if there is any other sign of life on those moons. “fighters say some equipment on the airless surface” .Then ” Other faint energy signatures” weapons said. There might even still be life underground. Telemetry says that both moons are somewhat hollowed out . However it could also have been just a robot launch left over from a war a long time ago”. “ Just the same, we’re staying out here” the Captain said.” signal the shuttle to stay on the ground until we can send fighters to bring them back” “They have a two day mission” the first officer said”. “We will finish the mission, but its almost a dead world” the captain said. “The radiation they found, if a war caused it, how many millennia ago ? She asked. “at least several millennia” weapons said.“about the time of the pyramids” the Captain mused. “They were a proud vibrant race when we were using stone tools”.


Later that afternoon, At the top of a mesa far from the sea, Gunnar could see the remains of crumbling masonry walls in every direction and somewhat below him the sand of an ancient beach. Looking tword the huge arch with some writing still inscribed in a forever lost tongue, he wondered, What does it say, & who were they?

Likely no one would ever know...


"Among the Sea of Stars"  Part two

Lewis Brackett 11/2011


     Gunnar was COLD. He couldn't believe how cold it was. “Still in the cabin he thought, the one in

the snow”? Maybe his father would get up first this time to build the fire in the fireplace --- Then he

realized he couldn't open his eyes but felt hands massaging his naked body. Finally a warm spray was

playing over his body; and finally he could see; and remembered where he was...the Ship. He had been

in cold sleep for how long? How much further were they from home? Freydis my Freydis , thoughts

and feelings came back as a flood. How he longed to hold her in his arms again. Their last long

embrace, a few tears before laying down in the cold sleep beds. A thousand things could go wrong.


    Sometimes the equipment malfunctioned and all you got out of frozen livestock was fresh frozen

pork. Tears of doubt flooded down his face and then There was his sweet Freydis leaning over him,

and kissing him as hers and other hands lifted him out of the cold sleep bed and wheeled him into the

infirmary to finish his awakening.


   “Two years and three months” the 1st officer said. Gunnar was stunned. He should have been

awakened over a year earlier. However the next stop the ship had made was one of initial promise,

but full of large hostile flying insects. Plenty of bugs, but no place for people, it had finally been

decided. Leave them alone and maybe they will leave us alone, all in good time. Several people had

been lost in landings. After an interlude on a barren island in the middle sea, it was decided to leave.

After that the only other stop was a double star system where their mutual gravitation made planetary

orbits too erratic for habitation. Many other systems were imaged on flybys, but nothing even remotely

habitable was found. “So, we continue our quest. “Finally” he said, “the first watch section

was brought out of cold sleep” “Survey drones say We should soon be entering a system with some

promise”. “We also must note that we have been out of contact with home world for a long time. Even

hyperspace radio only goes so far”



    “I'm getting a radio signal from ahead” Linda said from the science station. “The main dish is picking up faint signals” Everyone was stunned. After a few moments, Freydis pushed the intercom button “Captains Call” she announced.”first contact” Then they watched over the next short while as seven planets spread themselves out as a string of pearls from a single yellow-white sun. As the captain

entered the bridge, she ordered. “All engines stop. Launch a class one probe. ready four fighters”

“A class one probe is launched Able said. “ stopping ship “Freydis answered. Then “Ship is stopped.”

Then the Captain ordered “Back up the ship, Freydis, one quarter impulse” “Ship backing one quarter

impulse” Freydis responded. When they were five times as far from the star as the outer planets, the

Captain ordered the ship stopped again. And they waited. Linda from science reported in disbelief“high

gain signal boost from the main dish is now picking up unmistakeable human speech, likely from the

fourth planet.” There was another stunned pause. The Captain ordered “ Have the probe thoroughly scan the outer worlds before heading sunward” We are not in a hurry here” Any hostile action we will put us a long distance from here before attempting first contact””any results from language? “”Nothing from the computers, Able at science said. Do we wake up our linguists now?” “Staff will decide who is

needed' the Captain replied a few moments later.


   “Broadband scattered transmissions from across the 4th world” Able said. “But nothing from

anywhere else” “Nothing?” the Captain puzzled over her screen. “The outer world gas giants, only

small moons” “How soon do we get high resolution pictures from the probe?” “another few minutes,

Linda said from science.”Our long range radar images show structures on the outer moons, but we

don’t see any electromagnetic activity.” “Strange” the Captain said. They all mentally agreed. The point

of mining moons and asteroids was critical for any space going culture. Free energy refined minerals

mined there. Two hours later, Gunnar Freydis and their friends gazed in wonder at the images of the

moons of the outer world. “Yes” Lydia said, “they had a nice mining operation here. Then it looks like

one day they suddenly just went home” Then, the probe hurried off sunward. Just before the probe

arrived at the next world's moons, the Captain appeared and ordered the screens off to howls of

protest. “You have to be rested for your watches tomorrow” she said. “The rec center is closed. “go to

bed” You can see the pictures tomorrow”.


    At breakfast they gazed with great interest at the pictures of the moons of the next planet. There

were even what seemed to be ore ships in orbit here, but no sign of activity. “So, Lydia”, Freydis said

with a grin, I saw you and yours had a spat yesterday” “Men” Lydia erupted.”Men treat you like” she

paused at a loss for words “Expect you to be their little squeeze any moment they want,but them?


   ARRRRUGH sure you can't hook me up with one of your green skinned aliens? They might even treat a girl right”.”Well, if there is a planet full of people up ahead,you might get a chance to jump ship and take your pick”,Freydis said with a smirk.”On the other hand, you might be trading down, you never know” “Men “ they echoed each other. Of course several nearby men thought “Women” but of course they weren’t involved and knew enough about women not to say anything.


   Gunnar approached with his food tray. “Is it safe to sit here” he asked? Lydia dramatically rolled her

eyes. “ Of course” Freydis said with a smile.”For you”. With that Lydia flounced out, still in a huff..

It looked like the two small moons of the fifth world were being used; mined somewhat,

that world was merely a useless barren dusty almost airless rock, Freydis thought as she and

Gunnar sat at the Nav station. I guess its no wonder they did nothing with this world,” Gunnar said.

“Path of least resistance” Lydia commented from Science. “Would you mine ore from the surface at 30

credits a ton or from moons and asteroids at 10 credits a ton?”” Its going to be wonderful to see the

fourth world”.”So you can get your little green guy?” Gunnar teased. Freydis sharply elbowed him in

the ribs. “OW “ Gunnar reacted. And she mockingly wagged her finger at him. “Now children “ the

first officer admonished,” none of that on the bridge””First, we are still analyzing language”, Lydia

reported from science. “The linguists we defrosted (snickers all around) are on the job

this morning she said. They think they have found some really ancient links.; really good news”.


   “But our grandmother world did not send out the seeding ship here. It may have even come from the

mythological Earth.” “So, we can talk to them”? Gunnar asked?” Maybe just maybe Lydia replied. “It

would be so much easier than trying to learn their language from scratch” “Mythological Earth”?

Freydis commented. 'There had to be a mother world way back in time”.Granted, politics, religion and

revisionist historians have clouded the subject” The first officer looked over at her in some anxiety.

“Commander, we are a very long way from the Iron Dominion, and all us young people feel the same

way. Even back there, the Iron Dominion will not last forever.” Gunnar felt a surge of both

uneasiness , and hope... she did understand how he felt!! She had grasped that merging of practical

ability and near genius that he had just missed. Silently, they watched the probe approach the fourth



    After their watch, their group sat at lunch watching the probe's approach and it going into high orbit

around the fourth world, broadcasting ancient music as a greeting. “Women” he thought. Gunnar

noticed with a smirk that Lydia was snuggling against the boyfriend that she had been so mad at

yesterday. His Freydis read his thoughts as she often did. “Yes, Gunnar, but we love each other despite

of or because of our differences. I love you . One reason is because of your absent professor type. We

will occasionally have our fights but you're my guy”

It looked like someone had towed dozens of small asteroids to within a few hundred thousand klicks

of this beautiful blue green world, and occasionally shuttles flitted between these rocks and the world

beneath. “Lots of construction on the planets surface,' Alfred said. After all that building you would

think there would be a lot more activity in near planetary space.” “Maybe they all took ship back

home Jason said” They all snickered..


“    We'll be able to ask them soon” Lydia said. “ I got the word we are

close to cracking their language. It's similar to old earth ( people snickering) dialects we all once

spoke”.“ You really believe those old legends” Alex snickered. People had to come from one world at

some past time Alysia said. Parallel evolution is nonsense. “ Heresy-heresy” someone protested in more

fear, coming around they all laughed again. Finally, occasionally a shuttle would try yo rendezvous

with the probe but it was easy to maneuver the probe out of danger, After a month of playing this kind


of tag, and with the assistance of linguistic, they cracked the language barrier. Shortly after they started

playing a first contact message.  Much of the tape was the earliest classical music beginning with the

classic “raise ship” and others from ancient earth. We were all the human family, separated by a very

long period of time, perhaps 1000s of years. In the docking bay 4 fighters were constantly held at ready

with crews next them. Gunner and Freydis filed among them on the way to the first contact shuttle, “

No we're notgoing to be in someones stew pot”, Freydis and Lydia giggled to their taunts, “ My Gunnar

will keep us safe” “ but who is going to keep up safe from him, all alone on that alien world” one of the

others asked? “ who says I want to be safe? Safe is for sissies and loser’s” said Freydis “

that's right” Lydia  agreed. But t you just might have to get your girlfriends to protect you” with a light banter of abusefollowing them they entered the shuttle with the scientists.”


    You are expendable”, the captain has said “

there will be no weapons in your shuttle. The shuttles weapons have been removed”. They all looked at

each other, then back at him. “Allan the Geologist asked”So, how long are we likely to be their guests?

“ Anywhere from a few days to the rest of out lives” The captain grinned. They have so much unused

land we could settle our whole colonial establishment there: “ outer doors opening” the announcement

came over the shuttle speakers. Finally they were cleared to launch, 10 of the best and bravest of

humanity. “ Power up” Freydis said, “ launching” and the shuttle pulled itself from the launch bay and

partly around the solar system . This was to try to protect the location of the mother ship. After a while

Gunnar said “ coming upon planetary insertion point “ on his 3rd mark, Freydis nosed the shuttle over in the direction of the inner system falling towards the 4th worlds sky.


“ These are silly uniforms” Shila pouted “ there not for us” Gunnar replied. “ Each of us had our

specialty on our collar emblems”. “ we have our shuttle pilots and you each have easily identifiable

emblems of your specialties. Shila still pouted. “ Their just ugly” she complained “ you don't get to

choose your own colors” Allan remarked with a smirk. “ But so what, does it matter? “ we are

having an experience of a lifetime” “ lets just make sure its just not the final experience” Joseph said.

They all agreed. “ Those rocks in orbit look like a hive of activity” Gunnar said “ so much of it in orbit italmost looks like a planetary ring that would cast shadows on the planet”. "Lots of smaller seas rather than huge oceans” Allan fromScience said. “ We have white wispy clouds near the landing site but a storm front coming in a fewhours! “ Thanks” said Freydis.

    They swooped into the atmosphere to land a few klicks from a smaller busy center. Certainly they did not want to cause a collision invading a busy space port. The probe already scooped up virus experiments so they knew they were reasonably safe. As soon as they landed,Allan did a final round of tests as they waited for their hosts to arrive. It took them a while. Finally,atmosphere craft were buzzing by overhead and a bit later ground vehicles surrounded them at a distance“ guess its time to go outside and set up the patio furniture “ Gunner joked” It had already been stored in an external pod so they filed into the airlock inside their bio suits, and a minute later were walking finally on a new world reminding them hauntingly of home. “ Looks like we set up the table here” Gunnar said. Itquickly unfolded in place. Lydia said “ should we set the video monitor on the table or by itself?” “ I would think in the center of the table” Allan said, “ They noticed one of the vehicles approaching. “ Here they

come “ Lydia squeaked” Welcome to lunch, you're the main course” Freydis said under her breath.

“ Who, them or us” Allan joked They visibly chuckled and relaxed. “ You're the captain here” Gunnar

told Freydis. “ Guess you get to be first” “ at least they are REALLY human.”


   And as waves approaching a beach, two civilizations met. Freydis stepped forward, offering her hand in greeting, with Gunnar half a step behind, “ Welcome to New Terra” The Terrain said His voice being clearly translated. “  Our People were seeded here directly from manhome/earth a very long time ago!! “ we are from a much younger sister world” Freydis replied. “ Most of us had thought Earth/Terra a myth”. “ It took us quite awhile to decrypt your old style planetary English. It had not been used on our Grandmother world for a very long time. "


    “ Let us sit here and talk” Freydis motioned to the chairs.

“ Greetings from our world the captain said over the video”” We have come more than 10,000 light

years, in over 2 years to find you!” A shocked look on their faces. “ we really would all like to know more about Manhome, Terra of Sol. “ It has approached mythological stature among our people” “ You have come 10,000 light years in 2 years? The older Terran  asked? “ Yes” the captain said”. And we did stop elsewhere, but no-where was enough earth like for is to stay” We noticed you had a number of empty cities- and had even abandoned your mining out posts in the outer system. “ We have brought with us many shuttles and utility craft with much advanced technology” “ We hope you will allow us to join you here” That back and forth went on got quite a while. After their hosts finally left,   Freydis and Gunnar stood hand in hand on a small hilltop “ it sounded really good” Gunnar said “ yes” Freydis replied “ I guess this is now our home” "I asked one of them about the abandoned cities” she said “ seems a hundred years ago a Gamma ray burst came through this system  they had enough time-barely- to get some of the planetary population underground but everyone in the outlying  areas and outer planets  died. Even today they are building underground. They do have a basic GRB warning system, but with our help we can   give them months warning should it ever happen again."


They stood there, his arm now around her, watching the storm approach, until it began to rain.


The End .......... 


(For now, until I write the next episode)  :)

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