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An Endless Frontier: Prologue

Chapter 1

It was a desolated place, with no life. The moon was a vast desert plateau. It supported a thin layer of atmosphere and a brilliant landscape. Sweeping winds from the dark cliff valleys, spewing enormous amounts of airborne magnetic dust particles, made the air incredibly dense and steep to navigate.

Just another run of the mill day for Benjamin Cross, Captain of The Ordinance. Having spent most of his life travelling from a star sector to the next, he was used to the line of work. Nothing is ever easy, and this moon is no different than last week’s, he thought.

Wrapped around his forearm by the wrist, was a device simply called the ‘wristband’. It has many functions such as displaying holograms and long-range communications to name a few. With a push of a button he opened the ship, that stood before him.

The Ordinance’s hangar bay doors dropped open, and the Captain hurtled inside. A man of average build, with dark hair and blue eyes, eyes giving him an intimidating, serious look when he desires to get his point across. His voice is soothing and profound.

`Get us in the air,’ he said. `set a course for the nearest civilized star sector.’

Ben dusted the dirt off of his jacket and ran a hand through the hair. The hangar bay doors had shut airtight and pressurized. The Captain took the central corridor leading from the hangar bay.

He had dark rings under the eyes, as a result of arguing with corporate researchers for two sleepless days and nights.[_ It’s always the same with these types of people, ]he thought[. I have travelled to many star sectors, scattered throughout the Milky Way and they’re all the same. Particular, logistic people dedicated to sciences of the universe. They never appreciate anything I do for them. Fucking pricks_].

It was a dozen kilometre walk to the parked ship. What a waste of valuable time, he thought. The guards even denied giving me a ride on their speeders.

`Protocol’ muttered Ben in frustration.

He was halfway to the kitchen when the ship’s intercom system began emanating a flat, emotionless voice. Ordinance’s voice.

`Captain.’ it said. `My plotting calculations are complete, and the ship will be ready to jump in two minutes and three seconds when maximum sublight velocity is reached’.

`Were the speakers required?’

`No.’ it said. `I received an encoded message from the subspace network 17-hours ago. It’s confidential, and I need the approval to take further action. The message is from the T.E.R.A. Corporation. Would you like me to read it out loud?’

Ben considered it for a moment. Why would the Corporation contact me so quickly? They sent it when I was still finalizing the handover of my cargo. There has to be a mistake here, he thought. He was desperate to crash in bed and rest, and a much-needed shower was also on top of his mind.

`No.’ he replied. `Send a copy through to my archive, I’ll have a look at it later.’

He was one corridor away from the kitchen when The Ordinance’s space-time mechanism was at full potential. The halls began to vibrate subtly with a powerful frequency that hurt his feet. He stood frozen by his feet, unable to move as he felt numbness throughout the body. His heavy breathing increased as he gained heightened senses, Ben realized what was happening.

`Shi—’

A time bubble surrounded the ship, which relatively suspended time. Ben’s bodily fluids halted in place. His body shifted in and out of the fourth dimension. As a result, a blurry, distorted image of Ben emerged from within his body and stretched forward in his general direction, extending a few dozen centimetres. Within the interspace of the shadow were small intervals of distorted images following another image that was, even more, distorted than the last one. This effect continued and gradually faded away. His body hadn’t moved relatively since the jump began.

The images retracted with great speed into his body until the entire shadow had retracted and none of it was left. All of it happened in an instant as the jump caught Ben off guard. He immediately hurled in the opposite direction, as if attracted by a powerful magnet and landed immaculately flat on his back. He didn’t receive any serious injuries, with only a small bruise on the back of his head.

He felt the effects of going faster than the light set in. His empty stomach began to hurt and growled like there’s no tomorrow. A pounding ache hit his head as Ordinance had completed the jump into hyperspace.

`Ordinance.’ he muttered on the floor.

`I am here.’ it said.

`Why in tarnation would you commence a jump into hyperspace without me giving the order?’

`I don’t know.’ it replied. `That’s a question similar to what humans mean when they ask themselves what the meaning of life is. A silly question I have no answer. If I commenced the jump into hyperspace, then you certainly gave the order. Any argument about that would suggest my programming is faulty and bug-prone.’

It’s useless arguing with this thing; he thought as he felt even hungrier than before. Ben stood up from the floor and continued his way to the kitchen by taking the next corridor to the right.

Inside the kitchen, he saw Hugo, the Cook of The Ordinance. Hugo was, as usual, struggling to keep up with expiration dates of his kitchen supplies, while also cooking out of the advancing rotten food. Hugo had to pick ingredients closest to expiration, because the Captain couldn’t justify wasting the food. The Android was making soup from the only satisfying pieces left on the ship.

Ben fetched a bowl and spoon. `What’s the soup?’ He asked, taking a seat at the large kitchen table. The Android took great pleasure answering the question and announced his work with pride.

`Today’s soup contains dried tomatoes, cheese, more dried tomatoes and cheese, and, of course, your daily quarter portion of vitamins. It’s crammed with your requirements of proteins, carbons, fat and some iron and—’

`Yes, all right, all right.’ The Captain said. `Sounds excellent, Hugo, but please tell me the food has some taste to it. That white cauliflower soup you made two days ago was a bit over-cooked and strange. It felt funny, I must admit, and I’m not even sure it included cauliflower at all, more like cucumber and beets.’

The Android assured him.

`Nothing to fret about.’ it said.

Most of the time Hugo forgets the concept of taste and rather puts his focus on making sure his master gets all of his daily needs of nourishment. He fulfills the job assignment, but it’s his biggest flaw by far when cooking. No doubt about it.

The Android turned, and looked at the Captain. `Cap’n.’ said Hugo with a sad voice. `I do apologize if your taste buds don’t accept my soup. There is only so much I can do with limited supplies of human supported sustenance, and without the capabilities to smell or taste creation.’

`Don’t sweat it, Hugo.’ replied Ben with a smile. `As long as I don’t get food poisoning or worse, then it’s fine by me.’ He paused. `How long until it’s ready? I’m starving.’

`Oh, no more than 2 minutes, Cap’n.’

`Great.’ said Ben, sliding his fingers through the wristband’s user interface. Two minutes to spare, he thought. Let’s see what the Corp. has to offer this time. I’ll be damned if it’s another lousy fucking assignment.

He detached the wristband and placed it upside down on the table, exposing the thin circular crystal, embedded into the device’s body. It began to emit a steady, continuous flow of visible light, ranging from all possible colours, creating a faint hologram figure. It displayed Ben’s message archives. With the most recent appearing at the top, titled T.E.R.A. Corporations – An endless frontier and it read:

Congratulations Benjamin. Please report back to Corporate Headquarters in Dyephen. T.E.R.A. hasn’t forgotten your brilliant leadership skills you demonstrated in the Mortem Assault. The executive board is confident in your abilities and chose you for the Andromeda mission. Use the encoded file included to get comfortably passed the orbiting defences, it is important that you dock within 51-hours. I look forward meeting you, Benjamin,

Best Regards, Jessie Baaires.

An unexpected and complete surprise. His stool toppled over onto the floor while the Captain jumped to his feet and howled in exhilaration, throwing his fists into the air celebrating. `Yes!’ he cried. `We’re going to Andromeda HAHA! Fuck yeah!’

The Captain’s behaviour surprised Hugo. `That’s great Cap’n. Could you please fetch a heat resistant mat for the pot and place it on the table?‘Ben concurred

Of all the candidates they could have chosen. They picked me; he thought in astonishment.

`It is ready!’ said the Android and brought the pot of boiling soup. Hugo noticed something off about his master’s face; it was rude to be on the computer while sitting at the kitchen table.

Why does he not dive into the soup I just made, is he not hungry? I could swear I heard growling coming from within his internal organs. Humanity is so bizarre and unpredictable sometimes, the android thought.

`Problem, Cap’n? Hugo paused. `Don’t you like the look of my soup?’

Ben didn’t hear him. He was in a state of pure joy, re-reading the corporate message, analyzing all the smallest details. Hugo began to act anxious.

`Cap’n? Can you not hear me?!’ said Hugo waving his plastic hand in front of Ben’s face. Hugo took a few steps back, realizing what he had done. `Oh no… my soup made my master not only blind but also deaf!’

Ben gasped. `I hear you Hugo and this soup made me neither deaf nor blind, you silly toaster. I haven’t touched the pot yet!’ he said. `I’m in the highest heavens after reading this message from the Corporation.’

`The Corporation? What do you mean? What made you so happy?’ asked the android.

`I got the job, Hugo! The T.E.R.A. listing I applied for two deliveries back. You remember?’

`Yeah, I recall it.’

`Well, they sent me a reply, informing me that I’ve been hired! I’m going to Andromeda Hugo!’ he cried.

The wristband laid beside his bowl of soup. He reached for it, and orders Ordinance to drop out of hyperspace.

`Plot a course for the Diasol star sector. We’re going to Dyephen.’ he said.

`Consider it done, Captain.’

This time, Ben was going to be ready for the jump. Thrusters were in the south, and Ben had to face north with a wall supporting him from the behind. He placed his kitchen seat beside the closest wall and there he sat and waited for the jump into hyperspace to initiate. Ben was so thrilled and had a hard time sitting still. `Jump when ready’ said the Captain.

Ordinance initiated a countdown. `Three’

``…Two…’

`…One, and zer—’

The moment Ordinance entered hyperspace Ben could feel how the sudden change in acceleration pulled on him with a feeble force. This time, he was ready for it, resulting in no sudden side effects. The jump was gentle and easy-going. He decided to give the soup a try and moved back to the kitchen table.

`I am real happy for you Cap’n. I know this means much to you, but are we going with you? I mean Me and Flynn?’

Ben’s growling stomach screams for food as he picked up the quite strong scented smell of all those spicy dried tomatoes. He poured a handful into his bowl and went for a taste.

`To tell the truth, Hugo, this soup is delicious. Even though it’s quite sour and bitter, it’s an impressive improvement. I like it.’ said Ben. `And to answer that question’ he said grimacing at the bitter taste that went down his throat, giving an unpleasant after-taste. `I will take you both with me, unconditionally, but I can’t assume that with the same confidence about the AI. We’ll have to wait and see.’

`Oh thank you, Cap’n’ Hugo paused. `If you do not mind me leaving until we arrive to the Diasol sector. I would like to see Flynn; he owes me a bedtime story. You see it’s a bet we made abo—’

`Yes it’s all right, just be ready when we drop out of hyperspace, and Flynn too. You two might have to fetch some supplies for restocking while I’m gone.’ said Ben, most intent of consuming all the dried tomato soup.

`Yes, do not worry about us’ said the android `Take care of yourself, Cap’n.’

`Thanks, I’ll see you later.’ Ben replied.

***

Flynn and Hugo, the androids, are nothing of the higher tier, but they are exceptional to Ben. He bought them from his various delivery destinations the Corporation assigned, latter being Flynn. With the decent pay Ben earns, he gets by with them. There isn’t a whole lot of maintenance work surrounding the 300 series models, at most it’s replacing their power units or replenishing limp oils.

Hugo makes the food and Flynn keeps everything tidy and clean, a custodian of sorts. Flynn is weird but has his good sides. Reading books with such strong desire is a unique flavour in an android of his grade. Hugo, however, is a complicated personality. Sometimes he behaves like he’s at the age of a child. At other times, he talks like a mother worried, for its child. There is always a problem with Hugo, whether it’s his bad cooking or he is anxious about all his surroundings.

Side by side, though, Hugo and Flynn are the best company a Captain could have. Whether it’s sharing a lot of bad puns or arguing about the way of life.

The Ordinance’s AI is kind of like the other guy on the ship. Mainly considering it’s an AI, a complex one at best, but it’s not something one would talk to for the sake of it.

***

9-hours until Ordinance reaches Diasol, Ben’s home planet, and still he hadn’t taken a shower. Ben walked through corridor after corridor until arriving to his quarters.

`Password’ the console keeping it locked demanded.

`Blueberries’ Ben said, and instantly the doors slid into the side walls, and an entrance came into view.

The smell of the metal walls never grows old; it felt like home. He has slept in these quarters ever since he led the Mortem Assault eight years ago. Moving from one ship to the next, the smell of refined metal is fixed. A foul reminder. That’s hard to forget.

Benjamin goes for the shower first. 40 degrees, that’s how he liked it, barely enough, so his skin was briefly burned and red. That way, sleeping naked was sensational if done right.

In the shower he thought heavily about the last visit to Diasol a few months back. He was delivering raw mineral deposits to T.E.R.A. associated university in the lower cities. Beside from the good folks he met, the sensation of a natural cool breeze hit his face, the cleanest air he ever knew, is something he will never forget. It’s his most memorable moment from childhood, because nothing comes near to Diasol’s fresh atmosphere.

Diasol is a wondrous blue world teeming with diverse life of rich complexity and benefit. A planet with the perfect temperature range and conditions within the Goldilock’s zone. Diasol is in a select group of planets. The fact that it’s one of the few planets humanity had no need to terraform during the Occupation Age, and it’s to all intents and purposes reminding everyone what Earth was like, our starting point.

Smack in the middle of the two colonized planets, Heros and Pragus, lies Diasol, which makes it the focal planet because of its celestial position. The capital city is a place Ben is not very fond of, called Dyephen, the least appealing venue of the entire system in his humble opinion. Aggressive droid forces standing guard on the streets surrounding the Corporate Headquarters, due to minor riots.

The politics bordering Diasol has always stood complicated, and slow. The Corporate’s relationships between other Outer Rim systems is their priority; the people come second. All though that might sound awful, it has its upsides and luxuries when travelling between the hundreds of systems throughout the eastern galaxy quadrant.

Ben exited the shower and saw Flynn reading a book; this was unexpected and, at first, gave him a scare. The android wasn’t bothered to look at Ben. It just sat there minding its own business.

`Flynn what are you doing inside my quarters?’ he said, and Flynn gazed up with a surprised look on his plastic face and placed a finger on his book to mark the spot he was reading.

`Is something wrong, Cap’n? Why do you look troubled?’ Flynn gazed back down at his book, searching for something, a chapter or a line.

`What are you doing inside my quarters, Flynn? How did you even get in?’

`Well, to tell ya the truth I and the ship are great friends you see-- Ehm.' he saw Ben was solemn as ever and got straight to the point. `You see… Hugo thought you'd like me to read you a story before you go offline or whatever you humans do to rest.'

`Over my dead body! Now get out.’

`Well, that’s rude.’ Flynn replied.

`I just need some rest to be awake tomorrow, why don’t you recharge your power unit? It’ll be a long day tomorrow.’

Flynn looked disturbed and disappointed. The android shut its book with haste as if it got offended.

`I suppose I will read Hugo the story then, he’s always fond of my reading.’ Flynn said and left the room.

Ahh… At last some peace and quiet, he thought meanwhile keeping down his jumpy excitement about the new job. By the bed was a small chest of drawers. There he kept his audio player amongst other objects that are important to him. If he wanted to relax, then music always does the trick.

He picked up the audio player from the top drawer and jumped into bed. Turned on his Relaxing Symphony playlist while closing his eyes and everything goes black.


An Endless Frontier: Prologue

The first chapter of an upcoming novel I'm writing. This short chapter serves as a prologue for the main character, Benjamin Cross. He is the Captain of The Ordinance, a small ship he uses to retire from the military. Briefly serves to tell how one of his normal days are like and introduces the story of my novel. An Endless Frontier. A science fiction that will later develop into a mystery suspended fiction.

  • Author: Guðni Gilbert
  • Published: 2016-01-07 11:20:06
  • Words: 3060
An Endless Frontier: Prologue An Endless Frontier: Prologue