Monday, July 26, 2010

New Beginning 770

The war ended when the sky exploded like a month of sunrises, turning from blues and yellows to violets and poisonous greens. A second sun shone before the blast wave hit, bending the trees, shaking the ground.

His instruments glitched as the magnetics swirled outward from the imploding FTL drive. Sammy shut down, disconnected his power cell and curled his armor around him like an old-earth armadillo. Life or death, regardless, he'd know in a few minutes. The shadow of Tobald the Warrior intruded.

"You want to meet Death, Tobald?" Sammy asked.

"You will meet Death before I do, earthman."

"Death just appeared in your sky and he's going to reach down and take you and me both," Sammy eyed the giant lizard. Tobald pulled the trigger. The gun sputtered and burnt his hand.

"What sort of earth magic is this?"

"Not magic, science. Your rockets destroyed the battleship's shell but the heart of the battleship, the FTL, is imploding. When you burn the heart of a sky warrior, it burns the sky."

"And so you curl up to die."

“Technically,” Sammy said, “I'm curling up to live. Feel free to meet the blast wave head-on like a warrior, though. I'm sure your ancestors will be impressed.”

Tobald turned away, staring up at the neon stormcloud of the exploding warship. “Your Death-magic is puny. I feel nothing.”

“What you're not feeling is neutron radiation. Give it a minute.” Sammy found the seldom-used manual control switch inside his left gauntlet. He clicked it two positions down, thought about the sequence he'd memorized years ago in boot camp, then moved it one more notch. He raised his arm.

Tobald's laughter was a guttural clacking. “Typical earthman warfare. Noise and light. You have no--”

To his credit, Tobald didn't cry out when the synthetic neutronium round from the slugthrower on Sammy's left forearm punched through his chitin armor. The bipedal lizard stumbled forward with a grunt, falling through a cloud of his own blood as he toppled into the knee-high alien sward.

Sammy strained up onto his feet, fighting the sluggish artificial musculature of his armor that was only just starting to come back to life after the EMP burst. The slugger was an effective antipersonnel weapon in a pinch, but with his suit's electronic fire control suite knocked offline by the battleship's electromagnetic death throes, it was only good for one shot against a close, stationary target--a tribal warrior who turned his back on a live threat and looked up at pretty lights in the the sky, for instance.

“Been nice talking to you, Tobald,” Sammy said to the still form in the flattened grass. “But where I come from, we call that a Close Encounter of the Twenty Millimeter Kind.”

Opening: Dave F......Continuation: Sean


Evil Editor said...

The blast wave hits, bending the trees, shaking the ground in paragraph 1, but it will be several minutes before it's known whether the blast wave was strong enough to kill? Shouldn't Sammy at least have curled into his armor before the blast wave hit?

If we're nice enough to capitalize Martian and Klingon, it's only right that aliens capitalize Earthman.

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

Sammy, the old-earth human/armadillo with the unplugged power cell changed his mind about his thoughts because they didn't make sense but ran along bent lines beause he was a few seconds from life if he lived and he'd know he was alive by living. He wouldn't know if he didn't live because he wouldn't be alive to know so he curled up, bent over and shoved his head where the second sun never shone because it was weaker than the first one that used to shine in his special old-earth human/armadillo head hiding place. Where his head was now, in the dark.


Anonymous said...

Sammy curls into armor that's meant to save him from this blast wave, but he can detect a shadow? Was he peeking? (Not very smart to leave your eyes exposed to the blast wave.) There's some relation between the failure of Tobald's weapon and the FTL's implosion?

Not only would I capitalize Earthman; I'd lowercase death.

I like the chitchat between Tobald and Sammy.

Dave Fragments said...

Thanks for the comments. I liked the continuation. Very good. I like the hidden gun and the 20mm joke. Made me laugh.

Let's see if I can explain some of this.

The explosion occurs in parts.
First the outer shell of the spaceship goes boom and discolors the sky. That's what they see in the opening sentence. The "blast" wave is wrong term. It's a "gravity" wave and it shakes the world.
Second, the antimatter containment fails (I am loath to say that in the story. It's so hackneyed an expression.) and the resulting reaction spreads magnetic storms of the severity that scientists measure in the storms that cause the prominences on the surface of the sun. Unless you have shielded electronics, the EMP of a magnetic field like that generates electricity and electronics and electrocutes living things.
Third, The magnetic storms create sparks that cause fire and also since fire is ionized matter, the magnetics generate plasma and it's roasty-toasty time. Plasma can and does cut steel plate.
Fourth, the magnetic storms are so severe that they play havoc with the iron in blood and the hemoglobin ceases to transport oxygen. There's a medical term for it that I can't remember right now.
So If you didn't die in the radiation or the gravity wave or the magnetic plasma fire or get electrocuted, you suffocate when your blood can't transport oxygen anymore. It's a four step apocalypse if you don't have shielding of some sort.

I will capitalize Earthman.

The armor doesn't deploy in an instant and when I say: The shadow of Tobald the Warrior intruded.
I meant that Sammy sees a shadow. I ought to make that clearer.

Normally, I would write death with a small "d" but in the aliens consider Death a person and the discussion later in the story makes that apparent.

I also didn't like "Sammy" as the name. I changed it to Rydar and then after a while didn't like that because it was close to Radar and changed the "A" to the more normal "e" -- Ryder.

IT turns out that Sammy and two others -- an alien teen and a 18 y/o boy are the only survivors. Sammy is the Praetorian Guard for the human boy who inherits the planet. He is under contract for life to protect the human teen at this point. The Tolbald of the beginning is the alien boy's father and was Ruler of the planet and leader of the revolt. He turns out to be the last alien alive on the planet. This the aftermath of that revolt against exploitation. A revolt gone awry.

And somehow, they repopulate the planet. But to tell that would be to give it all away.
Hopefully, in less than 7500 words.

_*rachel*_ said...

You had me reading avidly until Tobald showed up. Then I got confused. The best suggestion I can make is to make switch "Sammy" and "His" in the first two sentences of the second paragraph. That way you get first that Sammy's got the instruments, and second that they're part of him.

I like Sammy as a name here.

Three guys, one of whom isn't even human, repopulate a planet? I don't want to know.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't want to know.
That made me laugh out loud and spill stuff. All I can say is:
Well, I don't actually describe it.

They are embarrassed to even admit it until the lizard starts laying eggs. It's more funny than gross. The admission forces the human one to face up to his responsibilities as "emperor" of the planet. That might not make sense with what I've said here but it makes sense in the story.

I see what you mean about "his" and "Sammy." I'll fix that.

Sarah said...

"Three guys, one of whom isn't even human, repopulate a planet? I don't want to know."

Come on...a little bit of you does.

Dave, I'm intrigued. Do let us know if/when you sell it. :)

_*rachel*_ said...

I meant it, Dave. I really didn't want to know.

Appropriately enough, WV is "retch."

Dave Fragments said...

I didn't really tell you.But I did go back and look at the 300 +/- words where the two other survivors (not Sammy) reveal the apocalyptic legends and, of course, I edited it into better than what it was before. It made the story better. Tomorrow (as it is late tonight and my eyes are hurting) I will fix the end of the story. Think of JR Oppenheimer's quote from Shiva in the Bhagavad Gita. "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

Daron Mercil said...

Okay, this is way, way beyond soft sci-fi. I think you've gotten into the zone where science is just a little whimpering kitten being run over by the rampaging machine of space opera. Let's start with your sky discoloration. That can only happen by way of airborne particles or ionizing radiation. Judging by the rapidity of onset and the rainbow of colors, this is the latter. And it would have to be enough radiation to nuke your characters more thoroughly than a marshmallow Peep, and with similar, albeit less explosive, effects.

On to the FTL travel. It's bullshit, but it's bullshit that every amateur does, so I'll let you slide on that one.

And how about that gravity wave? It would be really cool if it didn't stink to high heaven. Gravity is an attraction between masses, and you can't have waves of it any more than you can have static cling waves or suction cup waves.

It's actually kinda funny when you refer to the antimatter containment failure as 'hackneyed', because it's the ONLY part of this that makes some sense. And then you have it producing an ground-level EMP that somehow has a larger area of effect than the blast wave (which is totally wrong), and you have to go and describe it as 'swirling magnetics' just to twist the blade. Your explanation of the EMP is also straight out of a ten-year-old's mouth. As it is an ElectroMagnetic Pulse, and not, say, a Taser Pulse, it cannot electrocute you. It only does damage to electronics that are capable of generating an electromagnetic field (i.e. can be turned on).

Anyways, you don't have a serious EMP and it couldn't start anything other than circuitry fires anyways, so your fanciful plasma outbursts everywhere are out the window.

As for the EMP affecting oxygen flow (it's an EMP, goddamnit, you can't have 'magnetic storms'), I recently read an IEEE report on that and it seems that for any serious effect to take place, you'd need an E1 phase continuing for minutes, at the least, which is impossible.

So, yeah. It's a lot of technobabble shit with some poor statistical analysis and historical projection thrown in to cover things up a tad.