Colonist Diaries for Chapter:
4. Bon Voyage.

Bon Voyage

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by The Historian

They say that “Getting there is half the battle” but I’m really hoping it was much more than that. Leaving the old solar system left all of us bruised, in more ways than one.Finally, the colonists have been revived and we are two days from orbiting our new home. It will be interesting to see what name we finally give to our world…

It’s a pretty planet with two small moons. I look forward to our making landfall shortly.

Goodbye and thanks for NOTHING!!!

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

We were just settling down to some serious stomping of brain cells when the old guy who had been dubbed The Historian, some small woman I had never seen before and some big guy came in. For some reason my hackles went up as I saw the big guy. “Slow down Andy, that wolf is probably on our side”, as I saw the same look coming from him.

Mariana was in the process of tying to calm down a young Lady who was obviously not in the sheepdog category. Mariana was better at that than most anyone I knew. Who would look at her and think “Wolf” and she knew how to use that reaction.

Mariana had just returned to her seat when Capt. Travis gave his acceleration warning speech. Lots of people here were going to have to learn some new reactions.

We were just beginning to feel the first gentle push of acceleration when, “Bamp Bamp” came the shockwaves of two structural explosions. I had blown up too many things to mistake the feel of those shockwaves.

Then there was Travis’s announcement of where the explosions had occurred and the room was suddenly full of action again.

The big guy in a move like greased lightning had Ash by the neck with a Glock at his head and babbling about Ash killing his Boss.

Looking Ash in the eyes I said, “Ash, I trusted you. I gave my word for you.”

“Andy, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t. You’ve got to believe me!” All I could see was the absolute confusion and fear in his eyes, he had no damn idea what was going on.

Bart’s voice growled, “Rocco, break his neck” and I squared to the scene.

My right hand began the first half of the move to put the AMT in my palm when a voice rang out “Nobody is breaking any necks right now.”

The guy we had seen identified as Clark was standing in a Command pose that would have got him plus marks at old Colorado Springs. As He walked past me in low non-carrying sotto voice, “Mr. Stuart, please relax that wrist. We might just need you and Rocco both at some time.”

He quickly settled that Ash was going into confinement. As Bart was mumbling something about taking a while I interrupted. “People, if I may. Ash, give it to me now.”

His head nodded and his right hand slapped the right breast of his flight jacket. The Springfield XD compact appeared in his hand and spun butt down and forward as He handed to me. “Take care of it Andy, Uncle CJ’s ghost would find me if I dishonored it.”

I said, “OK Bart, now put him in the cooler!”

As Bart and Glenda took Ash from the room, I stopped in front of Rocco and unloaded the XD. “I don’t blame you a bit fellow. In your place I would be an accident looking for a place to happen. But, if Ash was dirty you would now have a .45ACP Hollow point where once your heart had been. Think about it! That puppy ain’t nowhere near a tame wolf like you and me but, a sheepdog he is!”

I was walking back to the table when Steven stopped me. “Sorry about this but, Capt. Travis asks if you would lead a team to inventory the non-perishable supplies on board. We know would should be here but, not what really is. The Capt. indicated that you might have some skills in that aspect.”

Grinning I just told him, “Ask the Capt. what database format he wants the data in and give me 6 people with handhelds not wrist comps and we will get it done.”

During a rest break in the survey Mariana asked me, “Why are we getting treated like ignorant cretins?”

“Well DR. Stuart we are not. This is a data basing problem and we got put on it. But, think about it how many people on this vessel could have the data from our classified files. How many could know that you were pushing Real Estate because UNWG shut down your research project and declared you persona non grata. Sure the PHD in Bio Sciences looks good if, you are allowed to see it. Look at my patents that are published as “Originator Unidentified”. To these people we are a couple of knuckle dragging snipers and the sheep are scared of us. When we get on the ground and start doing compatibility research with the new environment, you can get back in your precious lab and I can start building a civilization.”

She said, “So Shooter, we hunker down and ride it out?”

“Afraid we do Spotter, it is best all around!”

Just then our team came in jubilant at finishing the inventory. Collecting all their results via wi-fi I had a good handle on what we actually had. Especially Steven’s much desired store of TP! The commo gear gave me about the same grin!

After the breakfast and briefing that ended a long and eventful day Mariana and I were storing our gear in a room which was to be ours after the cold sleep. I had just located the UPS power and hooked up the two small cyro transports for the DNA and sperm/ova we had brought when there was a knock at the door.

Capt. Travis stood in the corridor and asked to speak with me. “As you may have guessed Mr. Stuart, I have been able to obtain portions of your SOCOM and UNWG files. Might I ask which of you is LTC Stuart and which is SFC Stuart? “

“No offense Capt., you may ask but you will not get an answer. The answer to that question would win somebody a lot of money. You see, in the Teams we never used ranks. The Shooter was in charge until the target was in sight. Then, the Spotter controlled everything. Ranks would have gotten in the way! Now it’s a running gag which, we treat as ‘burn before reading’.”

That got the hoped for laugh and a sputtered, “OK, but who do I talk to about Electro-Mechanical systems?”

“That would be me! She is the Bio-scientist.”

“Good, come with me! Got anymore surprises for me?”

“Yeah, do not make me sing if, you want to keep your supper!”

Laughing again he said, “We compared your survey against the manifest that R. J. ordered and found a discrepancy, we have too many robots. But four of the crates are giving off some strange energy readings. I have a limited number of people I trust to evaluate them, care to take a shot?”

“Lead on MacDuff.”

The quizzical look was worth the bad old pun.

Arriving at the storage vault, I was surprised to see Rocco sitting in front of a full blown DC to Daylight Spectrum Analyzer.

“You really know how to run that thing”, I asked?

‘Run Yes, Interpret No!”

“Ok, let me look at your data.” One good glance at the screen was enough to freeze me in my tracks. That pattern was supposed to have died with old SOCOM.

“Capt., what you have here is four covert insertion self-contained cyro chambers. Developed by SOCOM but, now it’s in the sole and proud possession of UNWG Fleet Marine Recon. You have a rat in the woodwork!”

“What do you think we should do?” Travis asked.

“Go to the bridge and let me and Rocco handle this. Just promise me that when you flush the bastard, you can do what has to be done!”

‘I think I can handle this one!”

“Then Capt., go be the Capt. and let the grunts do the grunts job.”

“Yeah, see you on the other side!”

After the airlock finished cycling I looked at Rocco and said, “Luck big guy, see you on the other side!”

Without another word or look I left to go to do what I thought needed to be done.

“Bart, got a minute?”

“Yeah, what you need?”

“Understand you are going to be staying awake and I thought you might need this. Take this and use it to collect and store the data you are going to get. Crap, your background makes you a better observer than me. But, we gotta collate and analyze all that data on the other side. This little baby should do it for you!”

“I have never seen one like this.”

“I hope not, only five of them were made. That was my price for the patents I gave HP. The two programs you want to look at are DATAACQ and FINDRF. The first is an on-the-fly conformable data acquisition and database program. The second is a DC-to-Daylight Spectrum Analysis program. The source code for it is in findrf.src.code. It should not take much work on your part for it to do Astral Spectrum Survey for you. When we get to the other side I will link its four brothers up in a star array and we will have more computing power than this whole boat put together. You have a prime partition of 80 Terabytes and two secondary’s of 80 Terabytes apiece”.

“Andy, this things worth a Kings Ransom and I wanted to wax your Cuz? Would you still have given me this thing if I had gotten Ash killed?”

“If we had both still been here at this point in time, probably would. Whether we both would have; let’s just say I’m glad I did not have to make that decision. Get the data, make this trip worth it, figure out how to stop them when they come after us if they can and make some sense of this thing. I know Ash is clean, time will prove it. Life however has to go on.”

From there I went to Mariana and the chamber!

When they woke us up I had a moment of terror before the memories came flooding back. Looking to my left was Mariana with the same “Deer in the Headlights” look. “Welcome Home”, was all I said.

Dressed I stepped in to the hallway to see Rocco and Bart waiting on me. “Guess we owe you one. Ash wasn’t the plant. Want to be there when we wake him up?”

“Hell NO! If we can keep him down, let’s leave him there for a while!”

The two confused faces were worth the energy that outburst cost! “Gentlemen and I use that term loosely, do either of you understand the old southern term “Hound Dog”? It means I will trust Ash with my life, my honor, my money and my children. But, never with my booze, my best friends 19 yr old daughter, or my girlfriend. He’s a hotshot pilot and you can always tell a pilot but, you can’t tell them much. He is also a hell of an aeronautical engineer. The best way to control him is give him a problem and tell him ‘Hick, you could not spell this cat if we spotted you the C and the A’. Obsession with a problem is his control. Leave him where he is at till I can find him that problem!”

Rocco looked at me, “You were ready to shoot me over that?”

“Hell, he is my cousin. Mariana is the one who has first dibs on shooting him just on general principals.”

A laugh turned all our heads. Capt. Travis stood laughing, “OK, we will leave him there. There are a couple of others who have to stay down for various reasons. Just wish we had more medical help?”

My quizzical look was answered by Bart saying, “Let me tell you about Van Vogt!”

1001 Nights and a Day

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by William Bartlett

1001 Nights and a Day

     Of course the trip really took us three years and nine months but with a little time subtracted for relativistic effects surprisingly close. A faster more agile ship than the Mayflower could make the trip in a bit under 3 years.

     The Historian and I were both tasked to begin work on the Encyclopedia Alchibah. The Hist says that not only the data gathered during our flight but our daily log files as well will become the primary sources for most of the entries. Once we get to the planet every colonist will be a contributor. What follows are a few instances and details of shipboard life that for one reason or another I found interesting. The complete documents and recorded conversations can be found in the E/A under Log Files.


     Captain Travis and I were eating dinner on the second day when this conversation occurred. “Why the evasive flight plan Captain? I don’t get it. I mean this roundabout route to the wormhole. How can we hope to hide our path? Even a 10 watt signal from a remote satellite is easily detected half way cross the system and our drive must be radiating umpteen giga-watts.”

     “Oh much more than that.” Captain Travis said looking from the navigational display. “But we’ve got an ace or rather 20 aces up our sleeves in the form of decoy drones. We launch them in a couple of more days. If they work as planned the UNWG won’t know where to look first. With their limited number of deep space vessels a couple of weeks delay now might buy us several years should they decide to send someone after us.”


     Travis Spent the first several days getting Arte and Larry Monroe up to speed on the Mayflowers systems. The Hist and I spent that time along with the bots clearing rubble and salvaging what we could from the wreckage of the greenhouse. I had decided to rename mine “J.P.” or Jeep for short. It had seemed almost sacrilegious referring to him as Heinlein.

     “Damn Hist, I am going to hate farming.” I said while clearing some of the debris away from what looked to be a repairable nutrient tank.

     “You can call me Brice,” he replied, “Let’s not get too formal here. And I am sure you’ll get used to it. I have always enjoyed contemplating the pastoral existence.”

     “I don’t mind the contemplatin’ either, but contemplating won’t grow cabbage.”

     I was struggling with a large chunk of rock and glanced sideways over to where R.Jeep and R.Isaac were standing. “You boys ready to help yet?”

     R.Jeep responded in a voice I had reprogrammed to sound like the classic C3PO. All of us fiddle with the voice at first but later most go back to the neutral robot standard. That’s what I did after a couple of weeks. The slightly unnatural speech rhythms the bots produce make anything else just too distracting.

     “Boss,” R.Jeep said “As R.Isaac so aptly stated earlier, beginning such a task before we have been able to internalize the full range of motions and required actions would be contra productive.”

     “How much longer Jeep?” It really seemed a bit backwards that the Hist and I were working our asses off while Isaac and the Jeep stood enjoying the view.

     “I am sorry Boss but it is too soon to tell. We will know when the time is optimum. I can, of course begin assisting you at once but that would be….contra productive.”

     A couple of hours later R.Isaac went over and began helping the Hist by clearing away items too large for him to handle. Jeep still stood and watched.

     “What’s the matter, Jeep, is Isaac smarter than you or what?”

     “We are computationally equivalent Boss. The Historian’s working patterns are more logically consistent and hence integrate faster.”

     “You can call me Brice.” the Historian said.


     About a half hour later R.Jeep started to work also. That was the way many robot working sessions went. If they had a canned routine they learned much more quickly, only needing time to pick up on the peculiarities of their owner. The bots’ communication network meant that once any learned a task they all learned it. When we get to Alchibah and have all the bots up and running there will come a time when even their large storage capacity is exceeded. A bot is supposed to then begin dumping extraneous material and save that which is most relevant to its owner. We will see.

     How fast were they? On complicated tasks like clearing rubble they were perhaps slightly slower than a human would be, though 2 or 3 times stronger. On simple tasks such as throwing a rock they were like lightning. I had Jeep throw one just so I could see. As it shattered against the exact aim point I had selected I said to the Historian. “Hist”, the Hist was resigned to the name and had stopped asking me to call him Brice, “Would ya look at that! Who needs blast rifles!”

     “Impressive, Bart, but as I am sure you know at the core of their operating system is something very akin to Asimov’s three laws. They are so basic and tied into so many higher level functions that to program around them –though theoretically possible– has proven practically impossible.”

     “Sure thing Hist, and something else, the core is all in Quantum ROM and even back on Earth only a few places can make the stuff. Any Idea how Many lines of code?”

     “Not sure Bart. I heard it was the longest and most convoluted piece of coding ever written with the possible exception of Word for Windows 2045.”


Into the Wormhole:

     “On course Captain…. 2 .… 1 .… cut.”

     The Mayflower’s engines shut down and for the first time in nearly three months their subtle undertone was missing. If things were going smoothly with the decoys they all cut their power at the same time. Larry had explained earlier that we could have gone through under power but then the way the ship’s radiation signature would appear to anyone watching back in system was something that the drones couldn’t reproduce.

     “20 seconds to entry,” Travis announced.

     The rear screens showed the familiar starry background we had grown accustomed to. The forward view screen showed an expanding dim halo enclosing utter blackness with a point of light dead at center. That point of light was being lensed from 48 light years away down the wormhole center from its Alchibah end. The halo was light being lensed around the exterior at the Solar end.

     “2 …. 1 …. Now!”

     I am going to describe what the video replay shows, but for us it was over in the blink of an eye.

     The halo grew rapidly larger then expanded beyond the viewing frame. The point stayed on center, did not get any brighter, but expanded till it filled the frame. Then a new star field oddly distorted as if 180 degrees of viewing angle was compressed into a 10 degree window. Then another new star field filled the screen.

     A very bright star shown bluish white near the left edge. Our destination.


Daily Life:

     We all worked on average 12-14 hours a day with Sundays off for good behavior. The Historian tried a brief experiment using the near twenty hour day of our new home world but soon gave it up saying, “It Just Wasn’t Natural.” I wondered how the shorter day will affect us once we get there.

     I spent at least 4 hours a day working in the greenhouse and so did everyone else including Captain Travis. First at rebuilding and later at all the other stuff that goes along with raising crops in that type of an environment. God I Hate Farming!

     The historian seemed to have a particular fondness for chickens and they seemed to like him too. I think he secretly hated to slaughter those we put on the table but my were they good eating. The Hist took charge of all the growing areas and poultry production spending 12 hours or more most days keeping up with and expanding the operations. He had R.Isaac to help and often several of the other bots. Often when the owner was asleep or engaged in an activity where a personal bot would have nothing to do that bot was sent into the Historians care.

     As the crops came in there was harvesting, canning, and freezing.  Did I mention I Hate Farming? At least all of the bots got good at this. If one bot was good at anything they all were.

     At the start either Travis, Clark or Monroe had to be on the bridge at all times. Later I got enough training that they trusted me to stand around and not blow things up. That still was 6 hours a day plus the farming thing. I spent a lot of my bridge time running simulations and learning how to operate the small cruiser Travis used when he came to the Mayflower. I was going to be the deep backup we hope we never need but there just in case. I flatter myself by saying I thought I was rather good for someone who had never taken off, landed, or operated any kind of spaceship whatsoever.

     I also spent time learning the systems then setting up the scanning routines for our ships sensors. The amount of information gathered was staggering. Terabytes ain’t the half of it. Our baseline would be so long and position data so good that I had hopes about being able to determine the existence and locate any other wormholes, large or small, in the near stellar region without having to rely on lensing. Instead just using the incredibly small stellar displacements caused by their gravity. Nothing on the Mayflower could handle the computing task.  Just maybe, when Andy Stuart was revived his network might be able to to do the job. I had my doubts but we will see. And on top of all that the Hist badgered me unmercifully if I didn’t spend a little time each day on the Encyclopedia.

     Arte Clark and Larry Monroe, besides standing watch, spent a couple more hours every day, first learning the foundry operations, and then learning to roll steel and other metals. Their bots worked right along besides them. They both also performed any incidental maintenance the Mayflower required. Only twice during our entire three year voyage did something break that they felt ought to be taken care of immediately rather than just schedule when convenient and that was only to make sure a backup would always be available. A superbly constructed ship. One of the colonists’ life support units failed but it was only a matter of moments for Arte to switch in a new one. We all tended to stay out of the cryo area it was just too funereal.



     All the time aboard the Mayflower I never met a Sunday I didn’t like.

     We spent a lot of time kicking around ideas of almost every conceivable nature. One of the things we did was make some guesstimates of what kind of occupations and how many people in each would be needed In order to support ourselves  on the new planet. That speculation lead to the Forming a Civilization entry into the E/A. It wasn’t of much practical use but we did argue quite a bit over it so the Hist and I decided to leave it in not necessarily as something useful but to show one of the ways we spent our free time.

     I spent quite a few hours suited on the surface at the ship’s pole. The view was breathtaking but indescribable.

     We were so busy most of the time that we never grew bored with each others’ company.



     So now that we are finally here its hard to believe that the five of us have aged about 3 years relative to those in Cryo.  What memories and stories.  There were a thousand and one nights. This is the new day. 

Captain Travis

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by William Bartlett

The Travis Style

     Captain Travis was in charge, and we all knew it, though he never seemed to be giving orders. His style was something like, “Lar why don’t you and Arte do a visual and PM on the balance pumps.”  The balance pumps made sure that as we used reaction mass in the Dee-Hee drive the Mayflower stayed in trim.  “If you can, get it today, if not first thing tomorrow would be fine.”

     Or, he would say. “Bart, your last sim where you had to land the Surprise, (the Surprise was the name of his cruiser), on that 10% slope. Well…when she toppled over she hit pretty hard. During your watch tonight how about running a few more and when you’ve gotten say…”, here he would tilt his head a bit and look upwards as if in contemplation, “15 in a row without damaging the paint let me know.”

     It took me almost 2 months to get there. After a first success all the sims at each difficulty level ran progressively faster. And at the 15 mark I was trying to complete a 30 minute landing in under 17. When things went wrong, and in the sims they always did, they went wrong in a hurry. There was always a way to save the situation but some were devilishly hard to find.

     With all the time the Historian spent in the greenhouse, the captain rarely asked him to do anything else. But when he did it got done. The Historian could dictate into his log or the E/A even while working on something else if the task wasn’t too demanding. And do it in complete paragraphs with sentences, phrases, clauses, colons and semicolons. He said it was easy because that’s how he had always worked. I could never get semicolons right so just left them out of my entries.

     The Hist had a lot of his material in the Encyclopedia locked away from public access. I asked him why? and he said he was still working on some and some just wasn’t ready to see the light of day. I asked him when? He said “Some sooner. Some later. Some maybe never. In any event the Captain has the passwords.”

     We all took a lot of meals on the bridge where the Captain spent the bulk of his time. The man could cook! There was an alcove which connected to his cabin and contained a rudimentary kitchen setup. Nearly every day he would put together something much more edible than an issue MRE. It was on our Sunday “Day of Rest” meal that he really put on a show. If we run out of need for ships Captains I know where a restaurant can find a pretty fair gourmet chef.

     I once asked him, “Cap, what are your plans if we can make a go of this colony?” He listed a number of possibilities I never would have suspected. After that I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find out he was such an accomplished painter. He spent a fair amount of time every Sunday at it and let me use some of his work to illustrate Encyclopedia entries.  He didn’t much engage in small talk beyond what was necessary for the Mayflower’s operation.

     He told me once, and it almost seemed an inadvertent slip. “Bart, I didn’t come along for the ride, or to be the Captain of the first ever colony ship. I did it because I believe, along with everyone else on board, that this is our last best chance to live as free men ought.

Where There’s a Temper, There’s a Way

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

As Bart finished his explanation of the Van Vogt incident, all I could do was collapse in a chair and shake my head. “That bottom feeder was in this from the get go and was still loyal to UNWG?”

“It appears so but, your summation was correct. Hamilton’s plan beat them at every turn.”

“Please tell me that the solution for Van Vogt included something very terminal?” I asked.

Rocco gave a deep guttural laugh, “Suffice to say I think Capt. Travis has been taking lessons from you guys!

“Speaking of which,” he continued, “Capt. Travis is worried about whether or not the Goonies can get communications through the wormhole. I think He is worried about another sleeper. Bart says He does not think it’s possible but, has not been able to prove it to the Boss’s satisfaction.”

“Well that’s my game anyway Bart,” I said, “how much data you got for me?”

“Are you familiar with 2×1 Ice Cube storage systems?”

“Yeah, how many you got?”

“Oh, just a 150,” he said.

I woofed out loud and asked, “And you want answers in what century? Please tell me you have them ID’d in some way?”

Bart replied, “Yep, numbered in sequence and have a diary file of major events and what cube that event is on.”

I sat and thought for about 5 minutes and said, “OK, I will put three devices on doing a hot catalog of data. Two will be placed on the cube covering the approach and entry to the wormhole. I should be able to crack the communication question in say a week or so.”

Rocco asked “That long?”

Bart replied, “What you should be asking, Rocco, is, ‘that soon?’

I said, “OK Bart, one class of data fast scan and start the crunch. Rocco, that fast is very, very good. Did you think the ‘what century’ line was completely a joke?”

Rocco shook his head and said,“OK, I’m now officially in over my head!”

I said, “Don’t worry Rocco, this crap really is Rocket Science!”

Mariana was sitting in the anteroom off of cryo when one of Hanna Parker’s brood wobbled out of cryo and sat down. Figuring the woman needed some solace, Mariana asked, “Didn’t I see you doing first aid back in the bar on Lancer?”

“Why yes Mrs. Stuart!”

“Please, its Mariana, Mrs. Stuart was Andy’s Grandma, not to mention judging by the age of those kids of yours, I am younger than you are.”

Smiling for the first time she replied, “OK, its Linda here. And yes I was doing routine triage and treating normal trauma, you know sprains and strains. I am a full RN after all!”

“Why aren’t you with the medical personnel?”

“Well,” Linda Parker replied, “when I meet DR. Van Vogt in Med Bay I just did not like him. Can’t say why, just a bad feeling. So, I did not mention it to anyone!”

“Well, that shows your good taste. According to Bart and Rocco, He was the traitor.”

“Oh my Goodness!,” Linda said, “In that case I had better talk to someone. Maybe they need someone to run a lab or help in O.R.”

“You know about running a Lab?” Mariana asked.

“Yeah, my last job was bossing a Level 2 Bio Lab for a Regional Health Center.”

Mariana spun out of her chair like the Commando she was, shouting at the top of her lungs, “Andy, where the hell is that handheld with the inventory on it?”

Andy’s head popped out of the nearest doorway. He said, “Damn, I don’t know. Dumped the data to the ships core before we went to sleep. Battery might be dead, might have cleared the space or overwrote it!”

“And I will believe that 45 seconds after a goonie pops in here says he’s here to take us back and lives for 30 seconds Reaper!”

“OK,” he smiled with that ‘very good My Padawan’ look and said, “it’s in the room they gave us hooked up to the UPS like the sample boxes. Why the big fuss?”

“I found me a Lab tech that can spell Bio. We are going scrounging!” And turning to Linda she said, “Linda, lets go find us a Lab!”

Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning!

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Hanna Parker

      Jules murmured into my ear, “Dear, time to get up now…”  I felt woozy as I rose from the cryo chamber.  Almost four years had passed, but he said it was the equivalent of nearly a month for us.  I said to Jules, “You need a shower, darling.  And a shave.  And a haircut.”  With a chuckle, I added, “And I need a manicure!”  So on that happy note, we emerged from our cocoon.

     My mind was groggy, but racing.  First, Jules seemed fine so his ticker must be none the worse from the nap.  Aside from our having sea legs, I basically felt allright too.  What about JJ, Linda, and the girls?  How soon til we’ll reach Alchibah?  Then what?! 

     “Let’s find the kids and go to the lounge.  Maybe they’ll let me tend bar again.  You know, that’s a job I’d like to keep.”   Sure ’nough, there was JJ.  Giving me a warm hug, he said, “Linda’s in seventh heaven.  She linked up with Mariana Stuart and they’re gonna get a lab going.  Ran off to have a look see.  They’ll get Emily up shortly, but wait a bit longer for Liza and Karyn.  Dad, Mom, have you met Tim, and Jack, and Marty.”   

       Soon Jules and Hist were in deep discussion.  Jules talked about wanting to teach, really teach.  Not the jaded facts and theories spewed by the UNWG.  Maybe a one-room school house in combo with distance learning - the old with the new.  Build from both.  Maybe have Liza as teacher-in-training.  And he thought to himself, “need time with Hanna, too.  That’s what our retirement was supposed to be all about.  Time together.”

       I felt a surge of emotion in seeing the colonists again, like a mother hen.  Glenda came over, “You seem like such a natural.  How about being our permanent barkeep?”  A  far cry from dealing with the facts and figures of population control, to serve the populus itself.  “Sure!” I replied.  “I’d love to run the First Inn.  I’ll have a lounge and gaust haus where everyone could come — to hang their hat, quench their thirst, and down home visit.  The guys, they need food and grog, not just guns and equipment.  All of us, need a place to come to.”  Janie said, “That’s for darn sure.”

       As I stood up, I nearly careened into a 6½ foot mass of metal.  A tin man.  “Oh my gosh.  Excuse me.”  Do I talk to a bot or not?  “Pardon me, ’mam or sir.  I am R.-J.P.  You may call me Jeep.”  Flustered, I turned to JJ and said, “What’s that all about?”  He said, “We’ll each get one.  Most of them are named after sci-fi authors.  This one is Bart’s, and named after Jerry Pournelle, a co-writer with Larry Niven.  You can dub yours whatever you choose.”  “Who would have thought that the sci-fi Jules read, we would live out in real life!”  Silently, I thought, “Oh my Lord, be with us in this journey into the unknown…..”  

     As I gazed into my wine glass, Dave Webber and Sally Kellerman came over.  Dave’s an Electronics Technician with Communications experience, and Sally’s an RN who managed Emergency Room Co-ordinations.  Dave said he needed JJ to set up protocols for a Communications Center. 

     “I know how to build a Comm. Center” Dave said “and Sally knows how to run one, but neither of us knows how to design and implement a whole new set of protocols.  We’re going to have to communicate with exploration teams, new settlements, and who knows what.  All of that data has to get funneled to Mariana and Linda in a cohesive manner or somebody’s gonna die for no good reason!” 

     JJ nodded and said, “I can handle that!”  The plans began in earnest.

     “Emily’s waking up” Dr. Kellerman announced.  JJ interrupted his discussion, and I quickly offered, “Let me take care of Emily.” ”Thanks Mom.” 

      I sat alone in the cryo room. Emily was restless as she began awakening, with deep furrows across her forehead.  I recalled waking up more serenely; having Jules at my side, I’d been glad to emerge from deep sleep.  I whispered, “Emily, honey.  It’s Grandma.”  She half raised her eyelids, startled and confused.  Softly, I reassuringly said, “Emily, everything’s okay.  Don’t be afraid.  Mom and Dad are just down the hall.  We’re all okay, and so are you.”  “Oh Granny,” she cried, “What am I going to do?  I’m pregnant!”




Birth is Always Bloody

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Zoe Heriot

How did it all come to this? Bombings, shooting, mayhem of all kinds in what should have been an amicable parting of the ways.

In one of the proscribed texts, it was said that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”

Well, we’re certainly up to our necks in manure, anyway.

I look around me, and I see people who are excellent arguments for both the Gun Control and Mandatory Retroactive Abortion laws. Yet they didn’t fire first, the “Good Guys” did. Well, what I used to think were the Good Guys, anyway, a long, long time ago. There were just a few bugs in the system, Human Nature being what it is. The corruption was a small price to pay for the good works that were being done. But the corruption grew, and the good works were strangled. Not all of them. Some of us fooled ourselves because of that for far too long.

So I raise my glass in a toast: To all those misguided soldiers who did their professional duty in trying to kill us all, and sacrificed their lives for what they believed in. And to those cowboys and gun-nuts who turned out to be right after all, and gave their lives so that Freedom May Prevail!. Yeah, Right.

Shedding a few tears for both. I’m getting too old for this. Probably an effect of the cryosleep, my weird hormone levels never did conform to the norm. Not The Average Mutant.

I wonder how many moles there are on board? And will they “go native”? We’re going to need all the people we can get, and there’s strength in diversity of opinion. It’s only when opinions and thoughts - rather than actions - become proscribed that a dangerous intellectual monoculture grows. Even a monoculture such as the Chaos of Radical Libertarianism can become Rank and Corrupt without an opposing view to strengthen it.

Enough of the maudlin musing. We have a colony to build, and a generalist like me is going to be valuable, so I better go and start valuing.

You Have Got to be Kidding Me

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

Mariana entered the room to see Andy slumped back in the chair massaging his temples with the obvious pain of a headache etched on his face.

“So what’s got you killing brain cells?” she asked.

“The fact that I am in about 10 miles over my head,” He replied.  “I can handle the Captains request about communications but, the rest of this stuff is way out of my specialty.  Astronavigation, I know just enough of that stuff to pass my Pilots Boards.  All of this Gravity Field stuff yeah, I know how it affects signals propagation; little else!  Deep range scans of the planets, it’s all chemical stuff.  I do not even know how to catalog this stuff!”

“OK, so why the headache; yell for help and get some sleep!” Her questioning tone very clear!

He just grimaced “Because I know the perfect person for this Augean Stables job.  The very thought of which is in and of itself my worst headache”!

She stared for a long moment, “Oh My God, you gotta mean Ash?”

He moaned into His cupped hands, “Aeronautical Engineer, Atmosphere and Orbital; Physicist, Propulsion Systems Endorsed and a Masters in Computer Sciences.  Got anybody better qualified?  Remember that’s why they had him in Plans & Training while he was grounded!”

Mariana returned the groan, “Question is, do you have a big enough problem to keep him task fixated?  Remember that high octane brain is what always causes the problem with the Hound Dog!”

Andy grinned at last, “Oh, only about 5 or 6 years worth I would guess! But, changing subjects; how did the equipment search go?”

This evoked a return grin from Mariana, “Not as well as I hoped but, better than we could reasonably expect.  R. J.’s manifests reflected that he had planned for a full Level 4 Bio lab.  The problem is most all of the high end Level 3 and Level 4 gear was supposed to be on the ship carrying the perishable supplies.  What we have is a high end Level 2, call it a 2+.  My worry is that I have nothing to do viral isolation.  The only thing I can do for virus infections is the old fashioned way; blood samples from infected victims and try to develop a vaccine!   But, I can do DNA and Micro-Bio no problem.  Most pleasant news is that Linda seems to know her stuff.  She can run the joint procedure wise, while I concentrate on the real elbow work”

Andy grunted,”Yeah, Dave Webber dropped by while you were searching.  He and Sandy Kellerman have an idea for a Central Communications Center to funnel data and samples from exploration teams into your Lab.  I told him to find me a power source and an antenna.”

Mariana grinned again, “So, what are you going to do?”

Andy smiled ruefully, “Set this rig on Auto, take a shower and find Capt. Travis.  Then I am going eat a big helping of humble pie and get Ash up.”

Walking out the door Mariana tossed over her shoulder, “As the Chinese said, “May you live in interesting times.”

She actually got the door shut before the coffee cup hit it!

Could This Be Love?

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by William Bartlett

From the Log Files of William Bartlett

     I was watching from the control room when the Captain gave his “Colonist Welcoming Speech” and went down for breakfast after Arte relieved me. We were serving ourselves buffet style from the breakfast bar and I grabbed a tray then headed towards the tables. The room was packed but I scanned back and forth and finally saw Janie Cantarubias sitting at a full table in animated conversation with a guy I didn’t really recognize who was sitting next to her. Joe Fortson was seated across from her on the other side of the table. There were a few seats open near to me but I had been waiting almost four years to talk to and see Janie again and so I headed that way.

     She didn’t notice me as I approached from the right and slightly behind. I paused waiting for a lull in the conversation when Joe noticed me and said in a voice cutting through the chatter, “Hey Bart, good to se ya!”

     Janie spun around and a smile which could have launched a thousand ships lit her face as she said “Bart grab a seat.” Janie glanced around the table, saw it was full, and the smile began to fade.

     Just then Fortson stood up and said, “Here take mine I was just leaving.” His tray wasn’t empty yet but I was not about to argue.

     I went around and sat down and couldn’t think of a thing to say and so just stared at her with a goofy look on my face. She was looking back, smile once more in place, when the guy who had been talking to her interrupted my reverie by saying, “Hello Bart, I’m Frank Turner, tell us about the new planet. Captain Travis didn‘t say much.”

     “Oh yes Please do”, Janie piped in. This wasn’t the conversation I had been hoping to have. But in a crowded room at a full table what else could I expect. You see I think I had fallen in love.

     Everyone else at the table had just gone to sleep and gotten up the next day. For me near four years had passed and Janie was always with me someplace in the back of my mind. But her command “Please do”, sent me to marching.

     I began, “Well the details are all in the Encyclopedia.”, and continued on between bites of breakfast, though never tasting a thing. I think just seeing her again put me into sensory overload. It probably seemed I was talking to everyone but I was really just taking to Janie. Anyway all too soon the meal was done and hearing a background chime I knew I was due back on the bridge in ten minutes. “Sorry folks gotta go.” and then to Janie, “I’ll be off duty in four hours can I catch you then?”

     “Sure, why don’t I walk with you to the control room?”

     “Best offer I’ve had all year.”

     We both stood, said goodbye to the rest, and headed out into the corridor. “Gee it’s good to see you Janie. I really missed you.” Just then I noticed Andy Stewart walking our way.

     Andy saw me at about the same time and immediately said, “Yo Bartlett, Got any idea where Capt. Travis is?”

     I replied, wondering at his hurry, “Hey Andy good to see you. If you need something fast that I can help with, I’m on my way to the Bridge right now.”

     Andy smiled crookedly and said, “Thanks for the offer but, this really needs a Command Decision. I need to wake up my worst headache, I’m sure you know who I mean, in a really bad way.”

     I could not help laughing, “God I can see how that might hurt but, I’ll tell you true, I need to talk to Ash too.”

     Andy’s face went half-way cold, “Bart, you are not going to go for his throat again are you?”

     Not sure if that was a question or a statement and I laughed, “You know that’s over Andy. At least for now. But Travis did mention that the data we pulled from his ship along with your cousin’s “ Plans & Training” background might help in figuring out what the Goonies might be able to send after us. And we did find a few things which could use some explanation.”

      Andy’s look softened a bit and he said, “You don’t know the half of it. That hot shot is a trained spaceflight engineer and I do mean design type stuff. So, if the Capt. Lets me get him up I’ll be sure to let you know where he’s at!”

     Amazed at that potential goldmine, though wondering if I could ever get along with Ash, I said I would like to see him when he got out of the freezer and then told Andy where I suspected Travis might be found.

     Andy said thanks, and then with a small bow, “Pleasure Ms. Cantarubias!” He then moved briskly around the corner. Ignoring Janie like that he must have had an awful lot on his mind.

     Just minutes later, all too soon, Janie and I reached the control room with Arte standing in the door.

     “Glad you could make it Bart.” he remarked.

     I turned to Janie and said. “Four hours in the lounge, ok?”

     “Sure thing.”

Training the Jeep

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by William Bartlett

“Ok Jeep listen up.”

“I am in ambient teach mode Boss.”

“Now listen cause this is important! Whenever Janie Cantarubias is around you will call her Miss Janie. Got it?

“Yes Boss.”

“Even if she asks you to call her anything else you call her Miss Janie.”

“Yes Boss.”

“Don’t you want to know why?”

“I was sure you would tell me”

“It’s a term of endearment and that’s all I’ll say.”

“Yes Boss.”

“Now Janie hasn’t got her robot yet. But when she does I want you to make sure you watch over it and make sure the training is done right. Got that?”

“Yes Boss.”

“Now here’s something else forget all the farming stuff.”

“You wish me to erase all the hydroponic and animal husbandry data?”

“That’s it Jeep. No farming for us.”

“Data erased Boss.”

“What’s a chicken?”

“A life form which needs a reason to cross a road.”

“Exactly right and keep it that way.”

“Yes Boss.”

Oh, but the Humble Pie Tastes Bad!

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

I maintained the straight face with which I had greeted Janie until I had rounded two corners and several hundred feet of corridor. Then and only then did I collapse against the wall and begin laughing!

Bartlett had it bad and it showed! The last time I had seen a face like that was in the mirror the day after Mariana and I had gone pub crawling in Brisbane after the first Belt Mission! The stories of how we had stopped and switched ranks in every airlock had the whole unit rolling in the floor and totally blitzed! That night was when I knew was hooked. I wonder how long it’s going to take Bartlett to realize that He had chased Her till She had Him right were She wanted?

Just as I was getting my breath back, who walked up but Capt. Travis?

“Well Mr. Stuart are you having a seizure or did I miss the joke?”

“Sorry Capt., but have you seen Bartlett around Cantarubias lately?”

He stared at me quizzically and said “No, can not say that I have.”

I just laughed again, “Oh you should, it’s the worst case of hooked I have seen in a long time!”

Laughing, he asked “Bad?”

“Oh, first class Tuna on the hook! But, to change the subject I was looking for you when I chanced on the humor of the Day!”

He chocked down his grin and asked “And what could be of import to get that out of your mind?”

I grinned back, “I have to admit it’s time to eat some humble pie and say I need to unfreeze Ash. I know, my reasons to keep him down are still valid; but, my need of his skills overrides those constraints!”

He stared at me for a moment and said, “I think I need him also but, you first!”

Grinning I said, “I am overwhelmed. Bartlett presented me with more data than I can handle. I am an Engineer with a bunch of patents true! But, I do not have a true Research and Development mentality. Wading through googols after googols of data chasing patterns is not my forte. On the other hand, that is Ash’s forte. I need him!”

Travis grinned back and said, “I need him and his Plans & Training background to answer specifics about the UNWG’s development programs to come after us. So, we really have a common cause!”

I sighed, “Glad to hear that; just, let me break it to him my way! I need to keep control of the Hound Dog Capt.”

He gave me a strange look and said, “The name is Travis and if you are buying its Glen.”

I grinned and said, “And when we are on the ground at whatever Hanna’s place is gonna be called, it will be Travis. If I am buying it might even be Glen. But as long as you are the Captain of a Ship under Way and the Commander having High, Middle and Low Justice; you will be to LTC Stuart, Capt. Travis!”

He grinned, “So you gave me the winning bet?”

“Nope but, I will now. Always ask for a date or a place. We swapped the ranks as mission or humor required! They were cover stories. The real ranks are COL and COL Stuart. We just never forgot where we came from!”

I had never seen such a stunned face!

He gave a wry grimace and said, “I guess I do not have as much of your classified files as I thought. Wake up Ash up by all means. I assure you there are some stories I want to hear!”

I grinned, “Thank you, and I hope we get a chance to tell them!”

So this is what a hangover is like.

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Tim Watson

I have never had a hangover.

Yes, I have had alcohol before, all too much at times. But in my younger years I was also an amateur bike racer. Body fat percentage in the single digits. Resting heart rate somewhere around 40.

Terminally aerobic is a good description.

So I could always burn it off before it hit. The worst ‘morning after’’s I ever had were either due to just plain staying up until dawn and being dog tired, or seeing who I woke up with. (Like I said, all too much alcohol at times…)
But this was something new.

Ever stayed up for two days straight, then slept too little before you had to get up again? Multiply that by about 10 and add a head full of fuzzy fluff and you are in the ballpark.

Lot’s going on. Robots being issued to those that need them immediately, talk of how we set up our group once we disembark.

And apparently an execution that troubles me deeply. We need to fix that. I do not care if it was the captain that issued judgment, that guy should have been judged in a public trial. Then executed, otherwise it is vigilantism, and not a good start to our legal system. How much would it have taken to put him in a pod until we all woke up? And as unlikely as it seems, what if he WAS innocent? Are we running from one murderous tyranny just to create another?
I am not the only one that has bad feelings about that.

There are far too few of us with guns. Thanks UNWG. Wish I had that old shotgun right about now.

Time for Time

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Tim Watson

I have always been a bit of a loner. OK, so not ‘a bit’. Since waking I have been keeping mostly to myself, waiting to see what I can do to bring up the issue of the ‘execution’, as well as what kind of organization we will set up to govern ourselves. Constitutions and such being a minor study of mine. I seriously want to be in on that discussion.

I was asked to see what we could do about the time difference. Since timekeeping is set up in the hardware of every computer, run by oscillating crystals, it is near impossible to change once manufactured. But software programs can correct for that. So I set up a rudimentary time-server on the main computer using a twenty hour day, based on Alchibah seconds and minutes, using the new 1118+ day year, numbering the days rather than naming them. It reads the system time from the main computer, which reports it down to the thousandth, and uses it to calculate the Alchibah time using a simple algorithm. It reports the Alchibah time when queried by another device, reporting it as, where Y=Year, M=Month, D=Day, all numeric, and h=hours, m=minutes, s=seconds, t=tenths/second and h=hundredths/second. I can not get closer than hundredths, since the rounding errors are too much for accuracy at that level. But hundredths are good enough for damn near everything, and internally each device will still run on Earth time, just getting it reset a lot. This is for Human convenience. Plus, we can all check Earth time easily, since each device will now have both times. Might be nice for those that want to remember certain anniversaries or other dates.

We can set most dumb devices to query the server daily or more often if need be, and the robots we can just instruct to do so. I suggested hourly for most devices, at least initially.

No months or seasons yet, since the proposed 93 day month seems silly to me. It needs discussion. Why keep a 12 month calendar? heck, why keep anything from Earth that we do not need to? This trying to match up an Alchibah week with an Earth week is like those old stories of when the old North American USA tried to convert from the ancient English Imperial system of measurements to the world standard Metric System. They totally screwed it up by trying to get everyone to convert and use both systems at the same time. Better to just change all at once and get used to it.

So whatever day we decide to start our calendar from will, at least at first, be known as 0001.01.0001, Poetic, eh?

Yes, I made an assumption that there would be 99 or less months, but I think it is a safe one. We can backfill names for days and months after we decide on them, or just see what people come up with themselves. I think we should wait and see how people adjust to the new day length, and see what kind of work schedule they choose to maintain. This is going to be stressful, so better let folks sort it out each as they need. And trying to impose an 80 hour week is damn near suicidal. Assign tasks and due dates and let folks work it out. Some may get done faster and be able to help others, some may not. Some won’t be able to. I can not imagine Hist out in a field for 80 hours, supervising robots while sitting under an umbrella or not.

Hey, we can get rid of Mondays!

The Doc’s Legacy

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

Wearily, I had returned to our temporary Data Center. The talk with Capt. Travis had been encouraging and we had Ash on the wake up schedule! The command computer was asking for a new cube which meant we were making progress. The 3 Ice Cube array I was writing as an index was coming along well. Well, if Ash could make sense of half of this stuff. I had just slumped in my chair when Mariana came equally as wearily into the room and slumped into another Chair.

“Well sweetheart,” she said, “I am here to talk you out of one of your babies there to run our Lab and fast!”

I looked confused, “This fast, why?”

She smiled, “It turns out that Dave Webber is a better tech than he claims and Linda is better than she gives herself credit for! We have a fully functional Lab, transportable no less; ripping ready to go except for one little problem. No high speed, high capacity, non purpose built computer!”

Laughing I replied, “I can spare one as I have the Commo thru the Wormhole problem solved. But I do not have the software to run a Bio Lab!”

She actually laughed as she pulled a small case from her pocket containing 2 Ice Cubes, “Do you still think you are the only one who can run smart? Full Protocols for up to Level 5 and even tailored for those little brutes of yours!”

I just sat stunned, “Wow, you did come ready. But, again why the rush?”

She grimaced, “Because every drug and treatment on this vessel that Dr. Van Vogt had a chance to touch has to be tested and verified before it can be used! The only exception is the stuff in Cyro as he refused to enter there!”

“My God woman, a crooked Doc is scarier than a whole squad of Force Recon armed to the teeth. He could have sabotaged everything on this vessel thinking no one could figure it out!”

She stared at the roof for a moment, “And what if I had not found a Dave and a Linda. Where would we be if He had done something and people just started dieing?”

I replied, “It would simply have destroyed any hope this colony attempt would have had. Which if you think about it, was his job!”

She grinned, “Right and it’s my job to make sure it don’t happen. I got a miracle when those two people found me and we need to throw it over the whole colony. Right now this group has no need for Magic and the Reaper; they need Dr. and Dr. Stuart. So gimme my Command and Control unit and let me get started.”

“OK, give me five and you got it.” This said as I began breaking #5 out of the end-link. “By the way I am waking up Ash.”

She grunted, “Are you sure you are not crazy?”

I replied, “One, I need him to have any hope of this project making any sense. Two, Bart and the Capt. want him to answer some questions for them. Three, Ash know now’s both of us are crazy. Remember he finally had to stare right into the face of those MPD alter egos of ours. I betting that may have shaken him up worse than you believe.”

As I handed her the unit she said simply, “I hope so I am tired of getting his behind out of trouble!”

Granny … and Great Granny

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Hanna Parker

I was in the cryo room with Emily, as she raised herself shakily, overwhelmed with the situation. I held her. “Dearie, we’ll just take it one day at a time, and all of us will be at your side.”

Slowly, she said “Grandma, we had it all planned. At my 17th birthday party, Jace and I were going to announce that we’d been secretly married.” “I remember Jace from the barbeque. I liked him, and he took time to speak with your ol’ granny! That was nice.”

“Jace’s dad got suddenly transferred to Australia. So instead of waiting a couple years and being separated, we just upped our plan. Then everything happened so fast. I’m pregnant, and worlds apart from him …….. Will I ever see him again?”

“Well, what do you want to do first, Emily?”

“I want to talk to Mom and Dad as soon as possible.”

“I think your Dad’s in the Communications Center.  I’m not sure about Linda, but I’m sure she’s nearby.  And for some privacy, you could meet back at the family cabin.”

“Good idea, Gran.  I’ll track down Dad, and would you please find Mother.”  Emily went to the Comm Center and found JJ.  “Hi Dad.”

“Hi Honey.  What’s up?”

 ”I have a problem, er …situation, and want to talk it over with you and Mom.  Could we go to the cabin?  Gran is asking mom to go there too.”  Affectionately JJ put his arm around Emily, and they strolled down the corridor.

In the meanwhile, I went to the lounge and saw Linda. “Hi,” she said.

“Do you have time for a cup of coffee?”

“Sure, especially for you, Mom.” I always warmed when JJ’s wife called me ‘mom’. She quickly began, “My head’s swimming. … Finally, I get a chance to actually run a lab and I get to do it my way. All Mariana is interested in is results and as she says ‘Forget any political crap, there’s no government yet!’ So pulling all stops, we’re off and running. What a challenge, and opportunity - no rules, no boundaries!”

“Now Mom, what about you”

I was still numb from Emily’s announcement of her marriage and pregnancy.  How could I help prepare Linda, and my son, for yet another new dimension to life?  How could I ease into it?

Stalling a bit, I started off on another tangent, “Well, I’ve got myself a new career – I’ll be running the lounge and diner! Right now, I’ve more questions than answers. I’m trying to imagine it all: floor plan; furniture and hard goods; supplies: current and how to replenish; barter system. Hmmm, I’ll have to come up with a good name for my robot staff too. All I know for sure is that I don’t want a leaky roof, the ice to run dry, or to run out of toilet paper. But, how to begin?”

Linda stared at the roof, “Well, I could ask Dave. He’s great at putting things in place! You should see how he has the whole Lab in racks, and ready to go down to the planet, but still running where they’re at. He has nothing to do at the moment, and says he needs “Mr. Dr. Stuart”, whatever that means?

Hanna laughed, “It means, my dear, that you have a great deal to learn about our resident Commando Couple. Capt. Travis told me about the portion of their classified files that Mr. Hamilton obtained. You may be surprised, as will many other people. Let’s just say that they live by the phrase ‘Those who can, Do!’ to the max.”

Linda laughed, leaned forward and gave her mother-in-law a quick peck on the cheek. “Right Mom, but gotta run to the Lab, check on a few things, and then be back to finish that coffee.”  And she was off before I could tell her of the real priority.

Entering the Lab, Linda was able to hear the end of a conversation between Dave and Andy.

“Don’t beat yourself up, Dave. You’ve done great here, there is just no common protocol in this marvelous lash-up you built. The fun part is that it will only take me about 2 hours (Earth) to have this thing up and humming. So find yourself something constructive to do!”

Dave just shook his head, “I was so sure I had done something wrong!”

Andy laughed, “Wrong, are you kidding? This place is one step short of a miracle, now go; I really do have to think to do this.”

As he turned away, Linda saw her chance! “Dave, Mom’s got a problem about how to ship the consumables down to the planet. Think you can give her a hand?

He looked puzzled, “Like what do you mean?”

Linda was surprised at his genuine confusion, “You know like bottles, frozen goods, refrigerated foods, fragile containers and bulk stuff like TP.”

He slapped his forehead, “Oh yeah, there are about a zillion empty ore containers that I can rack up and pad in a couple of hours. I’ll find somebody that has a robot up and get them toted to your Mom’s place by lunch!”

“Great,” she grinned, “ask Bartlett, it will get his mind off Janie for at least 10 Min.”

Dave Looked Confused Again!

“Never mind,” Linda laughed, “just go solve Mom’s problem!”

She turned and asked, “How are things going, Andy?

He grinned, “A whole lot easier than it’s going to go when you and Mariana breech your pet plan to get DNA samples from everyone before we land!”

Linda grimaced, “I know, but we really do need that database. Good grief, that’s going to be one hard sell! But if you don’t mind, let me tell Hanna that Dave can handle the transport problem.”

Returning to her cold cup of coffee, Linda said, “Mom, good news! Just spoke with Dave Webber and he said he could organize it all for you. He’ll stagger, if you pardon the term, the stores. Leave enough here as things wind down, another for commodities waiting, and a third segment for start up.

“That’s great, Linda. Thanks!  Sure takes a load off my mind. Now I can organize this lounge, the Last Stop, here on board, and the First Inn on planet!”

“On another note though, Linda, there’s something else.  Emily’s troubled.  We abruptly yanked her out of her life, away from her friends, without warning. She needs your ear, yours and JJ’s.”  Linda listened attentively as I continued, “Emily and Junior are back in the cabin, waiting to talk with you……  I’ll keep an eye on Karyn before she hides again!”

 Linda turned to leave.  Would our trust be breached?  Then she turned around, gave me a hug, and said, “Thanks, Mom.  We’re family.  We’ll do fine, whatever the problem is.  Together.  ‘love you.”  And, head held high, Linda went …..

Lab Rats Rule!!

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

Mariana Stuart:

Looking over the lab, I noticed Sally and Linda had finished testing the last of the drugs. There was a smile on their faces.

It was Sally that told me the results. “Around 80% of the drugs were fine. That ‘Good Doctor’ switched drugs. If you handed out pills for a diabetic to take, these substitute pills would have killed them.” There was a lot of anger in her voice. “I’m glad the Captain took care of him.”

Linda spoke up. “I’m just thankful Dave was able to piece together enough equipment and your husband was finally able to make it work.”

“Yes. Between Dave and Andy, we’ve got a functioning Level 2 + Lab.” Glancing at the two women, it was time to mention the next task. “Ladies, before anyone can touch this planet, we need to come up with a plan to make everyone give us a DNA sample.” I had an idea, but I wanted to see if they could come up with something different.

After several moments of concentration, Linda said, “I guess we could stick a gun to everyones head and get a sample, but I doubt the Captain would go along with that idea.”

Both Sally and I chuckled. That was my first thought, but I didn’t mention it. Another minute passed without comment. It was time for me to speak up.

“Probably the easiest way to get samples, is to come up with a lot of the truth, but also a fear factor.” I had four eyes giving me a very puzzled expression.

“Mariana. Have you lost your mind?” Linda gasped.

“Hey. It makes perfect sense to me. Before posting this requirement, we tell everyone that we don’t have a Level 3 Lab and have to treat viral infections the old fashioned way and that takes a lot of time. This time delay, could result in death or a mutation in the DNA. That might cause enough fear to get our samples.”

“Oh man. That should work.” Linda was all smiles.

For the next several minutes, we organized the lab for taking our future samples.

As we finished, Sally spoke up, “I sure wish my husband would get off his high-horse.”

That took Mariana by surprise. “Exactly what do you mean?”

“As a surgeon, that jerk believes he should be the ‘big cheese’ and everyone should be coming to him.”

“But we don’t need a surgeon at the moment.” Mariana said, “ Doesn’t he realize that?” At first I was stunned, but I knew this man could be a prick at times.

“Apparently not. I’ve tried talking to him, but he won’t listen.” Sally was exasperated.

“Guess he doesn’t know that he’s not the only one that can cut.” Mariana mumbled, loudly enough to be heard! This man was beginning to piss me off. Neither Sally nor Linda knew what I was referring to.

Linda chirped up and changed the subject. “I’m hungry. Let’s go to mom’s.”

Sounded like a great idea to all of us, and that is where we headed.

Hound Dog on Deck!

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

I was sitting in the waiting room outside cryo waiting on Ash!  Good Lord but I had better things to do but, I needed the smartass fighter jock!

Ash staggered out through the double doors looking pretty much worse for the wear!  “Maybe I should throw you back and get a real Jet Jockey,” I laughed.

He just groaned and grunted, ”Hell, I’m surprised you guys woke me up!  Guess I’m still branded as the traitor, right?”

I came out of my pocket with his XD and handed it to him butt first, “Nope, the stay awake crew found the real one.  Dr. Van Vogt was as dirty as sin.  Hell, he tried to sneak Fleet Commandos in as part of the plan.  Did you know about that part?”

He looked puzzled, “No, how the crap did he do that?’

“Apparently the second ship tried to slip them in as cargo in Cryo sneak chambers,” I said.

“Gutsy but, a little dumb.  That’s why you said you would never use them wasn’t it?”

“Spot on Cuz, it’s a stupid play!  Now down to business, you have some people on this tub who really don’t trust you yet!  Good news, those same people are ready and willing to work with you.  They have your open files and need your skills the same way I do.  Hell, Mariana even needs you for some research.”

He grinned, “Oh Lord, I bet it hurt her to say that!  What does she need anyway?”

“She needs DNA data basing on a population with cross-reference and real time disease projection!”  It was my turn to grin as a face went white.

“Good Lord, any other miracles before breakfast?” He moaned

“Yeah, I need a cross reference of 150 Ice Cubes full of Astrophysics data and the Capt. needs a back trace of UNWG ship development that has a chance of coming after us.”

Ash slumped against the wall of the corridor, “And what do I have to pull off three Manhattan Projects with?”

I grinned, “On that cuz you may be very pleasantly surprised, come on I will show you!”

We started down the corridor towards our temporary Data Center when I spotted the Three Musketeers, “Heads up Ash, the Lab Rats approach.”

He was still staring with his patented dumfounded look when Mariana spoke up,

“Here are our first two ‘volunteers’.  Open up for a swab sweetheart and Ash open that jaw or I’ll break it open!”

She then proceeded to do a swab of each of our mouths and snapped the swabs away in sterile containment tubes.

I asked bemused, “Starting DNA samples already?”

She just gave me that intentionally dimpled smile, “Drug sweep is finished, no time like the present.  Five down and how many stubborn one’s to go.  Your guess is as good as mine!”

I just grinned back, “Good luck, cause you are gonna need it!  Come on Ash; let me show you your pit!”

We entered the Data Center and he saw the old Plasma display and flex control station I had scrounged up and said, “Well I/O and control looks good.  What’s under the hood that’s what counts?”

I was well and truly grinning when I showed him unit 1, “How about four of these in an end link Cuz?”

He was for once speechless for about a minute, “And how did you manage to get 4 of the five of these brutes ever built?”

“Wrong again cuz, the fifth one is running Mariana’s lab.  I designed them dumbass, these were the price for the three patents that came from them.  That and the fact that there would be no more built.  Bet, that went out the door five minuets after we left!”

The look was one that I was waiting for, that high priced brain went in to overdrive as he took control of the system and the look went somewhere into a different space, “Oh yeah cuz, give me some time here but this is doable.”

I just turned softly and left for Hanna’s place.  I had my leash and in spades!

Thoughts While Waiting

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Kara

Don’t let the brochures fool you, waking up from cryo is a bitch. Some are doing better than others…lucky bastards. My head hurt, I was stiff as a board, looked like a gargoyle, and my mouth was so dry I’m still thirsty. But life goes on….

Some people brought their families, or at least their other. Luckily I’m not the only one alone, otherwise I might as well jump out the airlock. I think it is too early to figure out who/what the cliques will be, and where I’ll end up. I think there are a couple of us watching, and waiting, to figure it out. Not like there’s much else to do right now.

I overheard someone talking about taking DNA samples from volunteers (or everyone?). Isn’t DNA a bit personal to start rounding up? Maybe there’s a good reason for it, but it seems awfully like something UNWG would do. I know there’s at least one traitor on board, who knows how many more. How do we know this isn’t being cooked up by one of Them?

Luckily we’ve been able to take a look at Alchibah. Looks ok enough, though there’s not much to see at this point (damn clouds). I can’t wait to get down there and see what it’s like! What will the animals be like (I’m assuming there will be some), and the plants? What about the colors (perhaps the ground cover won’t be green, but purple or red)? They’re going to need people to explore, and I’d love to be one of them. I can’t help much in the way of science, but I can do what I’m told.  Ugh, so much excitement, but also so much time.  Must. Practice. Patience.
One thing I’m not looking forward to, however, is the long year. I hope we are able to pick a spot where the winters won’t be bad! Not like we’ll know until they happen…eek!…


Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by The Benjamin Family


You know when you fall asleep in a chair and wake up an hour later, only you don’t realize it was more than a few seconds until you see a clock? That’s what coming out of cryo was like for me. Except the hour was damn near four years long and the clock was a new planet. Surreal doesn’t even come close.

So the first thing I saw was a hardened old woman who looked like she may just have eaten nails for breakfast that morning. Kinda reminded me of grandma.

I stepped out of the coffin that had been my home for far too long and extended my hand. “How do you do ma’am? Name’s Connor Benjamin.”

“Ma’am? Well now, that’s something you don’t hear much anymore. Hilde Garronde. Just for that you can call me De, all my friends do. Now out with you, I have others to attend to. Not everyone takes the cryo so well.” Clearly this woman knew her job and knew it well. And I had managed to get on her good side, which was a plus. I could do with some friends, given that I had kept to myself up ‘til now. Had a lot to think about. Still did, but I couldn’t be a shut in forever.

“Will do. One question though; when are they waking my girls up? I want to make sure I’m there when they do.”


“Jaisa, Aya and Arra. They didn’t wake them up before me did they?” She glanced down at her tablet.

“No need to worry about that dear, we were very careful to wake parents first. Ah, here they are. You’ve got two hours. Might I suggest you go shave in the meantime? I doubt your little ones are used to the mountain man look. Your belongings were put into…let me see,” she glanced at the computer pad again, “room 21. Just head out that door and tell the golf cart where to go.”

Giving her my thanks I hustled over to the door she had indicated. If I hurried I could get the rooms set up for the girls before they woke up. They hadn’t had a real home in six, no, in ten years now. If I could get them a head start on one I was going to.

The room was sparse, but what could really you expect from a mining base? Gray bunks, your basic footlockers, not a hell of a lot else. Obviously not meant to be family friendly. Oh well, do the best with what you’ve got, right? I’d been operating on that philosophy for so long now that it was second nature.

I put the twins’ stufties on their bed – they always slept together for the first while when we moved to a new hiding place, and I’m sure this would be no different. I’m sure they would grow out of that soon (and hopefully we could stop moving around now), but at 9 they were still small enough to fit on the same bunk and un-self-conscious enough to not think it weird. That being done I put Jaisa’s Colt Python under her pillow and secured her kerambit in it’s quickdraw sheath on the wall side of the bed out of view.

Oh how things had changed. It seemed like just yesterday that I would have been putting her favorite little bunny on her pillow. That was before the “Riots.” Now I put a revolver that had claimed lives under it and knew that she would thank me. That was no life for a beautiful young girl. She should be worrying about prom and boys, not goonies and handloading. If only we hadn’t been at that protest, if only one of a thousand things had gone differently. But nothing really would have changed. Given my family it was only a matter of time before we ended up on the UNWG’s dead or alive list. The massacre at the Riots had only accelerated the inevitable.

About 10,000 had gathered in the city to protest the UNWG’s actions in the 2nd Belt War. It was the biggest protest in years. After Chicago a lot of people in the movement had been too afraid to take to the streets anymore, and the sheeple all viewed us as violent crazies and anarchists (that’s totalitarian propaganda for you!). In reality it was a completely peaceful protest. They opened fire when my father, the late, great Governor Benjamin, was leading the group in prayer. He never asked to be the leader of these people; he just did what he felt he had to. He was governor of Vermont when the US announced its plans to join the UNWG and he knew a bad idea when he saw it. Vermont voted to secede two years later. There was hell to pay when they killed him, let me tell you.

The story later was that we were being subversive and he had been “inciting the protestors to riot.” In reality they just wanted a chance to capture my father. That they got to test out their newest “non-lethal” weapons was just a bonus. Only this time they missed the “non” part. A hundred and thirty seven people were killed that day, including my parents, my wife and both my sisters. My brother and I only survived by chance. Well, I survived by chance. He survived because he’s built like a friggin tank.

God I need to stop playing that scene in my head.

I got up off the bed where I had been sitting and walked over to the luggage. Checking on my little armory always helped get my mind off things. First came my Mk23 - the military version, of course, and all tricked out too. That (not so) little bugger was as rugged as they come. Next came my blades. The other kerambit got placed aside; that one was staying with me for sure. The only HI khukri I had in the luggage, the YCS, was holding up just fine, as was the HI-Koster Bowie. Man they were beauties. Had to leave some other stuff behind to bring them, but they were simply such deadly works of art that I couldn’t leave them behind.

Wish I had more with me, but on such short notice and with so little room I hadn’t been able to take much of the rather substantial arsenal I had amassed over the past few years. Oh well, I’m sure they were being put to good use back home by Gabe and his old SSEAL buddies. Thank the lord he had friends in low places or we never would have been able to take even this much. I hoped the rest of the firepower and steel I had shipped with my tools and the extra ammunition and clothing had gotten to the Mayflower before I did. I guess I could now say one good thing about living on the run; I did get lucky that I had to ship that stuff ahead.


Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by The Benjamin Family


Alright, I was calmed down. I packed the weapons back up, got my shaving kit out (the old straight razors, not that disposable junk) and cleaned up. De was right, the last thing the girls needed was a scraggly(er), scruffy(er) version of their dad greeting them. I put on my Mk23 and the kerambit and headed back to cryo.Judging by the number of empty coffins (I have to stop thinking of them like that) it looked like about half the colonists had been woken up so far. An older couple was greeting a beautiful girl of about Jaisa’s age that looked a little shaken up. The cryo must not have gone well for her. I didn’t see De around, so I settled for getting the attention of a gorgeous blond who appeared to know what she was doing around the cryo tubes.

“’Scuse me, miss? I’m looking to find out when Jaisa, Aya and Arra Benjamin are going to be woken up.” She looked up.

“Hmm…” she glanced at her pad, “they’ve already been disconnected and are in process. Jaisa should be up in five minutes and the other two a little after that. Sally, by the way.” She held out her hand.

“Where are my manners? Connor.” I said shaking her hand. She was wearing a wedding ring. “The girls are my daughters.”

“Well, it’s good to meet you. You’ll probably want to go get your wife before they wake up.” She had obviously noticed the ring I still wore as well.

“Oh, no, I’m sorry, we’re here alone…She passed on a while back. Probably wouldn’t be here if she were still alive.”

“I’m so sorry. I just thought…I’m sorry. I didn’t, I mean…” she trailed off. The poor girl looked horrified.

“No, please, don’t be. It was a long time ago and I’ve accepted it now.” And how many bodies did I leave behind me in my path to that acceptance? “Heck, it’s my fault for still wearing the ring. So, why are you here?” I asked, trying to change the topic. “For the grand adventure or just for the perks?”

“Oh the perks, definitely the perks,” she laughed, if a bit uneasily. So that had lightened the tone of the conversation. Good. “Although sometimes I think my husband came just so he could be the most important person around. Which hasn’t worked out so well for him. But that’s his problem. Enough about that though. So, who are you?”

“Used to be a veterinarian, although that seems like a lifetime ago. I’ve also dabbled a little in this and that.” I shrugged, “Mostly I’m just trying to be a good father, but it can be tough.”

“You seem like you must know how to handle yourself though. I mean, you’re carrying, which I’d say less than a third of us are.”

“This thing?” I asked, brushing my hand against the HK. “It used to be my brother’s; he wanted me to take it, so I did. Given all we’ve been through I figured it might not be a bad idea to keep it handy.” Yes, that’s right, I’m just a country boy. I’ve spent so much time hiding and pretending to be something I wasn’t it was hard to stop. Maybe I would learn to trust these people, but secrets are damn near impossible to get back in once they’re out. “Well, I should go see to Jaisa. It was good meeting you.”

“You too hun. Oh, before I forget, you should go see Mariana about getting in on the Bio Lab, being a vet and all. I’m sure she could use you. And maybe we could continue this over drinks in the lounge tonight. Kurt will probably be busy doing doctor things until later and I’m sure you could always use another friend.” She smiled.

“Ain’t that the truth? Sure. Sounds like a good time. I’ll be there as long as the girls are alright.”

I wandered over to where the girls were sleeping. It was so eerie seeing them under glass like this. Way too much like an open coffin for my taste. A tall man who I assumed must have been Sally’s Dr. Kurt entered the room and started monitoring the equipment.

“You the father?” he asked curtly.

“I am.”

“Good. This one will be awake in about a minute and the other two a minute or so after that. That Garronde woman thought you would want them to wake up together.” With that he was off. Something about how he referred to the girls almost as things really rubbed me the wrong way. Weren’t doctors supposed to care about their patients? But there was no time for those thoughts to fester, as the green light on Jaisa’s machine started blinking and the cover came open.

And there was my beautiful, tough as nails daughter blinking groggily like she was just getting up from a long nap. She was the spitting image of her mother: long black hair, olive skin, a swimmer’s build. My wife used to joke that her Hawaiian genes beat down my Irish ones when they were fighting over what to make her like. Sometimes when I looked at her I really felt like I was looking at the young woman I met nearly twenty-five years ago. It made me heartsick each and every time it happened.

“Dad? Are we there yet?” she yawned, grinning at the memories of endless car trips and happier times. “The twins up yet?”

“You,” I said, embracing her as she got up, “always trying to be laid back about everything. I love you so much.” I was almost crying now. “We’re going to have a good life now, ya hear? No more running, no more killing.”

“I know Dad, I know. I’m glad I came. We’re going to have quite the time here, I just know it,” she said, stepping back. “Now, what’s first?” She always acted the tough girl. She was damn good at it too. Just wish she didn’t have to be.

I smiled and wiped away a tear. “Oh, the girls are waking up!” And sure enough, the lids of their cryo tubes had just started to open.

“Rise and shine girls!” I exclaimed, putting away the tears and painting a broad grin on my face. “We’re almost home!”

“Dad!” they yelled in unison. I kneeled down and hugged them both. “Was that really four years?” That was Aya. Then Arra, “There’s no way!”

They did understand how huge what we just did was, I was sure of it (they’re both very bright), but they weren’t half bad at the tough girl, I’m doing just fine act either. Only for them it really was an act. For Jaisa it was becoming less and less and act and more and more really her, which scared me. She had killed three people on this very ship, back at the greenhouse. Lord only knows how many before that.

“Yuppers, it most certainly was!” Jaisa responded. She loved the girls as much as I did. After Luana died she had become like a mother to them as well as their cool older sister. She thrived in the role. I had never heard her use “yuppers,” “sweetness,” or any of her other silly little expressions with anyone else. The twins always roll their eyes (like they were doing now) and pretend to just tolerate her goofiness, but I think they secretly appreciate it. They haven’t really been able to be kids with anyone but her since they were too young to remember.

“Come on, let’s go see the room.” I said, waving them to follow me. “We’ll be on the planet soon, but might as well get settled in a bit here. I’ve already set it up.”


Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by The Benjamin Family


I never intended to end up on this ship headed for the outer reaches of space and our new “home.” Riiiight. I’ll believe that when I see it. I haven’t had somewhere I could really call home since our house burnt and honestly, I never expected to have one again. I guess I’m here for the same reason Dad is – family. I almost didn’t come, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing my little sisters again. I love Dad. It would break my heart if I had stayed while he left, but he would understand. Aya and Arra need me though, almost as much as they need Dad. So here I am, 500 trillion miles from anything and everything I’ve every known. Kinda sucks. But then, this is the adventure every kid always dreams of. The Wild West ain’t got nothin on this! I guess I’m willing to give it a shot.

Dad put the room together just like he knew the twins and I would like it. He’d sort of been on daddy overdrive since Mom died, but I guess I understand that. Lord knows I needed it for a while, and I think the girls still do, a bit. All the moving has been hard on them. If this works the way it’s supposed to though, we’ll be done running. Like dad said, done running, done killing.

I’m not so sure about the second part though; there are still a lot of people that need to get dead, and the sooner the better. I guess that’s up to Uncle Gabe now. He certainly knows what the hell he’s doing. I doubt he’s good enough to get the job done, but then, I doubt anyone is. Not him, not Sinopa, not any of them. And it looked like The Fox was done fighting too. She’d been keeping pretty much to herself except for the incident with the exploding flour, and so had we, so I don’t think she noticed Dad or I yet. That would be a fun reunion when it happened. I certainly intended to give her an earful for running and not staying to fight, but that could wait.

After the twins got settled in (Dad was reading them The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe again) I strapped on my Python and headed out to walk off the buzzing headache I still had from the cryo. Waking up had been a bitch, but hell if I was going to let Dad know that.

I headed for the bar (the Last Stop I heard people calling it now). Seemed as good a place as any. Besides, a little Jameson’s or McPherson’s might help with the headache.

I hadn’t gotten a hundred meters when who walks around the corner but Kaye. Kaye, that gorgeous blond boy who proved himself resourceful, brave and quite literally hardheaded all at the same time in that little invasion we had before takeoff. I should have been the one thrown against the wall in the blast, not him! He was just a kid; he had no business getting blown up without me there to protect him! I froze in my tracks.

“Miss,” he said, taking my hand gently in his and bending down to lightly kiss it. A shiver ran through my body. What on earth was that all about? And that accent… “Me name’s Kaye. ‘Tis a pleasure to meet you. Heard you were quite the fine shooter back ther’ in the greenhouse.”

“Uhhh. I mean, I…it’s nice to meet you. Jaisa.” I blurted out, pulling my hand away. What the hell was wrong with me, stumbling over my words like a drunken toddler? He was just a kid! A fine looking one, to be sure, but he couldn’t be more than…

“So y’ know how t’ handle that un?” he asked, gesturing towards my revolver.

“I, yes, I shoot some,” I answered, lamely (I thought). Lord, if he tried to punch me I’d at least know what to do. This was torture.

“Neveh have m’self, growin up here ‘n all. Blastin’ I know. Guns ‘re new t’ me. Mebe y’ could show me sometime, after we get t’ tha surface?”

“Sure. Sure, I’d love to.” I smiled. I was regaining a little composure at least.

“Well, ‘m off. Cap’n has me on ‘n errand. ‘Twas good meeting you, little miss.” He dipped his head slightly and was off.

Why that little! Little miss? Damned if I was going to give him shooting lessons! Still…

I hurried on to the bar. My headache was getting better, but that Jameson’s definitely still sounded pretty damn good.

A little like home…

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by The Benjamin Family


“Oh do please come on,” said Lucy.“Well I’m nearly ready now,” answered Mrs. Beaver at last, allowing her husband to help her into her snowshoes.“I suppose the sewing machine’s too heavy to bring,” said Mrs. Beaver.

“Yes. It is,” said Mr. Beaver, “a great deal too heavy…”

I loved reading to the girls. They were nearly too old for it now, but I hoped they’d indulge me for another couple years. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe in particular held a special place in my heart. My grandparents had read it to my father time after time and my father had read it over and over to me when I was a kid; I suppose I was passing the tradition on to my kids. It always made every place we went feel a little like home to me, and I think my little ones felt the same way.

…”Come on,” cried Mr. Beaver, who was almost dancing with delight, “come and see! This is a nasty knock for the witch. It looks as if her power is already crumbling.”

I closed the book.

“Aw come on Dad,” Arra protested. Then Aya: “We want to see Father Christmas!” That was the twins for you. It was almost like they finished each other’s thoughts sometimes. Sure as hell finished each other’s sentences.

“Sorry, later. I’ve got to go see a woman about maybe doing some vet stuff.”

“I thought you didn’t do that anymore. I mean, since the fire and everything.” Aya said.

“I don’t. But if I’m the only one around then I might just have to. Someone’s gonna have to take care of all the sheepses and horsees.”

“Daa-ad,” Arra punched me in the arm.

“Ow!” I laughed. “Yeah, yeah, I know, cut out the baby talk. Alright, we’re gonna swing by the Parker’s cabin on the way so you two can stay with their girls.”

“Nice! Emily and Liza are sooo cool,” Arra said as we got on the cart, “and Karyn ain’t bad either.”

“Aw, give her a break, she’s only three.” Aya replied. “I’m sure she’ll be twice as cool as you when she’s our age.” Arra stuck her tongue out at her sister.

Ten minutes later I pulled up out front of the makeshift Bio Lab and hopped out. I had told myself I’d never treat another animal again, but it looked like I might just not have a choice. Well, I was about to find out. I took a deep breath and walked in. Seemed like I was just catching the end of a conversation.

Linda (Karyn, Liza and Emily’s mother) was just saying, “I’m hungry. Let’s go to mom’s.” As I opened the door three heads turned my way.

“Hi Sally, Linda. Mariana I presume?” I asked, smiling. I extended my hand to a hard-eyed blond. “Connor Benjamin. Sally here mentioned you might be able to find use for a vet.”

“You’re a vet? I was getting worried we didn’t have one onboard. Damn right I can put you to work,” Mariana replied.

“I should probably also let you know I’ve got a doctorate in zoology. I’m hoping it might come in handy in dealing with the new species we encounter planet side.”

“A doctorate? You didn’t tell me that,” Sally chided playfully. “Any other tricks up your sleeve we don’t know about?”

“A few,” I shrugged. “But like I said, I haven’t worked with animals in a while. I’m sure it’ll come back to me quickly though. Come on, let’s walk and talk. I could certainly use some of that food Linda mentioned.”

Almost There

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by William Bartlett

From the Log Files of William Bartlett

     With less than two days to orbit I kept standing my bridge watches and had also been assigned a couple of other tasks by Captain Travis. While Larry Monroe and Arte Clark were supervising the refitting of the Mayflowers’ freighters for use as ship to shore transports, I was giving virtual tours of the freighters and the Mayflower, and along with the Jeep teaching multiple sections of “Intro to Robots 101″.

     When off duty, which was almost never, I sat with Janie Cantarubias and examined the portion of the long range planetary images being directed to her console. They were spectacular. She had snagged one of the larger displays in ships engineering because she could at least monitor the readouts while Arte worked on the freighters renovations.

     I recorded the virtual ship tours and let everyone know that the answers to specific questions could usually be found in the ship database or the E/A. I couldn’t really do this with the Robot classes as they were more instructional rather than descriptive.

     Each Robot session was scheduled to take four hours and had to be taught to small groups, eight seemed about the right number. This was to insure that everyone could get a little practice interacting with the Jeep. I started out by giving the robots specifications and explaining what they meant from a practical prospective. Then came describing what was meant by “Ownership” and the Owners’ programming possibilities and responsibilities. I next spent about half an hour talking about how literal the bots were and the importance of precise instructions and told some stories concerning incidents which had happened in the previous three years which illustrated the same.  After that a break and finally the Jeep would take time answering colonists questions and reacting to requests for the performance of some action from the class.

     Almost immediately I figured out that these action requests always had to be prefaced by the phrase “If I were to ask you to, (Insert the Question here), Jeep, what would you do?” I told the Jeep that anytime we were teaching a Robots 101 Class, except for those requests made by me, he was to assume any request for an action was proceeded by that “What would you do” statement and he would answer but make no attempt to actually perform the task.  At the end of the session some windup questions to me and “Class Dismissed”.

     With about 18 groups of colonists to instruct, some of the older children were included, it was obvious there wouldn’t be enough time to teach all those sections before we reached orbit but as we were finishing up our third section I had an attack of inspiration.

     “Jeep when we start section 4 in about 15 minutes I want you to teach both your part and mine. I will sit in the back of the class and you will introduce yourself and explain that you are delivering a lecture developed by Bill Bartlett and for the first two and a half hours will be speaking in his voice. At the end of that part announce the break and say that when they come back you will be acting as yourself. Tell them about the “If I were to ask you stuff” and finish in four hours. Understand?”

     “Yes Boss”

     It was quite good if I do say so myself. Using class three as the basis but bringing back a few of the things I had said earlier but dropped because I was interrupted or went off on a tangent the Jeep got the first half done just at the two and a half hour mark. It went as well after the break.

     “That was excellent Jeep. You get to teach all the rest of the sections. Just one suggestion.” The Jeep knew in “Bart Speak”, a suggestion was the same as an order, “As people enter before class ask each to please be seated because we will be starting promptly, and when you start the talk introduce yourself as Dr. Professor Robot J.P. Most humans are impressed by credentials. Got it?”

     “I think that was two suggestions Boss. I got them both.”

     “Oh and one more thing. It’s ok if you keep mimicking my voice but don’t wave your arms around and fidget so much, it makes you look silly, act more professorially. If you find that you need me you know what to do.” I said that while pointing at my communicator as I left the room.

     That worked so well I talked to the Captain about it and after he took a look at one of the sessions he thought it good enough to ask Arte to have his bot download the course and teach a few sections also.

     All the questions and action requests made to the bots were recorded and though some were rather inane most were well thought out. One question was asked in almost half the sessions and I found it both interesting and descriptive of robotic behavior.

     “R. J.P. do robots have a conscience?”

     “ What do you mean by a conscience?” Jeep would respond. And depending on how the questioner replied the Jeep would answer “Yes” or sometimes “No”.

     Thus begins the history of, and my involvement with, the teaching profession on Alchibah. Not a bad job but I thought  nothing that ought to take up anyone’s full time.

Ever Just Know it’s Gonna’ Be a Bad Morning?

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Andrew Stuart

As told by Ashcroft William Andrews IV

I was sitting in the temporary Data Center, somewhere in another space and time. I was interrupted by Kurt Kellerman banging open the door like a Rhino in Heat!

“I was told Young Man, that you might have certifiably clean copies of the standard diagnoses publications in your Data Base!” He said it in that Master to Peon tone of his!

Well, as I had linked the Lab network to Andy’s little monsters I in fact did; but, this guy just rubbed me raw!

“Well”, I said in my best Southern drawl, “I probably have it in here somewhere. Leave me what you need and as fast as the Captains’ priority search is over I’ll get it right to you.”

Then he came in that same haughty tone, “Young Man, I am not accustomed to waiting on tin pot dictators nor trumped up researchers both of who seem more like hired killers than what they purport to be!”

I probably never will remember coming out of that chair, cause the first thing I remember was shoving the barrel of my XD up his right nostril! “With you left hand, pass me your personal padd! And do it slowly!”

He complied and I placed it into the reader slot and punched several keys. “Down home they had a phrase for people like you. Plain ole snooty Asshole, comes readily to mind. That trumped up researcher was a Board Certified Thoracic Surgeon when you were still dreaming about getting into Med school! She got out of it to try to fix stuff with Bio-Sciences instead of a Knife. Hell, half of the drugs for Cyro sleep came from Her team.”

I punched several more keys. “ I do not know what she was onto that made the UNWG shut her down, except that it scared the hell out of them. So she became a clinician for the old U. S. SOCOM, that being the only job she could find! While running the drills so she could understand the stress involved, guess what happened? She got ID’d as the perfect fit as a partner for the deadliest man alive. You might have meant him, he’s my cousin Andy. Course theses days he’s also her husband. Don’t ask about her first one if you want to keep your teeth.”

I punched up another sequence. “On a personal note, having three Piled Higher and Deeper’s of my own; and being by the records two years older than you, the next Young Man outta your mouth will cost you those selfsame teeth! As for the Capt., I don’t see you putting your precious ass out where the hard calls have to be made.”

I reached out and placed his padd back in his pocket. “Here you go, Asshole. Latest and greatest copies of the PDR, Merck and if you have the stomach the UNWG treatment guide! Now take this and get outta my sight. One last thing, you break Sally’s heart and there will be more than me looking for you Asshole!”

With that I shoved him out the door! This was my morning for things I didn’t really want to do. Racking out the 2 Terra byte padd from the second reader station I thought of the next one.

God, after what I had just been through; finding Bartlett was the last thing I wanted to do!


Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by William Bartlett

 A Job for Ash 

     After arriving at Alchibah we put ourselves into a slightly inclined equatorial orbit 600 miles up from the surface. This would give us a good view of the temperate regions though we would have to scan the polar areas at a later date. The inclination permitted stereo views to be processed from shots taken on different passes. We certainly had enough to look at for now. The ship’s instruments were scanning Alchibah’s physical data. Things like atmosphere, cloud cover and densities, magnetic field strength, surface temps, water coverage, volcanic activity, and, as much as deep radar permitted, mineral deposits. We were taking in thousands of images for the colonists to examine. There was a big screen set up in the dining area and some of the most interesting were shown for all to see. At least four people were involved in examining every image and rating them for colony site suitability. This was such an important decision that everyone’s input was needed.

     I was still busy but had found a few moments to sit with Janie in engineering. Arte Clark had been there when I entered but shortly he left saying that he had something to attend to and would be right back.

     We were looking at upland plains, others were viewing coastal areas and still others near shore islands. Each screen shot had a location based on latitude, easy to figure, and longitude based on the tip of what we were calling Meridian Island. As the magnetic field data came in we also recorded the deviation data. Luckily ‘Magnetic North’ was such that non electronic compasses would align with their needles pointing so that east was in the sunrise position but the location of the magnetic pole was some 30 degrees away from the geographic pole. This could have been an indication that the two magnetic poles were about to reverse, something which has happened many times on Earth, though never when science was advanced enough to study how fast it happened. Whatever mineralogical data was available was tagged and coded into the image header for inclusion into the main database. Any comment on the images anyone made was also included into the file.

     I heard the entry door slide open but didn’t turn around, figuring it was Arte returning.

     “Hello, Bartlett and Good Morning Ms. Cantarubias.” came a voice softly from behind me in a Southern drawl I almost recognized. I turned around slowly. It was Ashcroft William Andrews IV.

     “Why hello Ash”, I said, then waited for him to say something.

     “Well Bart”, he began, “My cousin Andy told me you were the one who collected all that data from the time we exited the Alchibah end of the wormhole and you needed it analyzed. Just exactly what are you looking for?”

     “There are actually two things…. Do you know if Andy is available?“

     “Last I heard he was going to meet me here. Said he wanted to talk to me, before I met with you. Guess that’s water under the bridge.” Ash said this with a most deprecating wan smile.

     I merely returned the smile. I was working on it, but hadn’t completely gotten over his recent involvement with the UNWG! “First of all we’re trying to see if there are any wormholes closer to Alchibah than the one we came through; the one that leads back to Sol. Ones that might be too small, or too far out of position to occult a star, but large enough for a ship to travel through, even if that ship was smaller than the Mayflower, say about the size of a freighter. Capt Travis is worried we may need a bolt hole.”

     “Ok, I can see that,” he paused a second then said, “What’s the minimum size the wormhole could be and how would the data reveal them?”

     “I’ll have to get back to you on size, it has to do with tidal effects and I need to check the numbers again. A small out of position wormhole would show up by causing some kind of stellar movement unexplainable by ships motion. It might be so slight in fact I‘m not even sure it would show up in the data. That’s the problem that has me stumped right now. So much data to scan at such high levels of precision.”

     Ash just grinned, “My ballgame Bart, if it’s there I’ll damn well find it!”

     Janie, who had been silent till this point, said in a tone that dripped with venom. “And just what makes you so sure you can locate something the Mayflower’s comps have been working on for six months and found no hint of?“

     Ash, somewhat taken aback, began to say something just as the engineering door opened once more and in walked a figure in a chameleon field jacket with ‘Stuart’ over the right breast pocket. “Ash, what did you do to Herr Dokotor Kellerman?”

     He turned away from Janie and looked over to Andy with a puzzled expression and said, “Just gave him some documents and had a short discussion, Why?”

     “Cause he is mumbling stuff about crazed southern mad dogs and I know I have not talked to him. So, cuz who else is left?”

     Ash said, still looking puzzled, “It’s a mystery to me.”

     Andy glared and said, “ What have you got on the UNWG coming after us?”

     “Short answer or long one?” Ash asked.

     Bart suppressed a laugh and said, “Short one for now, publish the long one in the E/A!.“

     Andy did laugh and agreed, “Short, I’m thirsty, been up for 23 -E- hours!”

     Janie said, her tone a bit less grim than brfore, “You’re always thirsty Andy!“, and then, with some genuine warmth, “It looks like you need to do some more reading. The Earth hour and the Alchibah hour are so close you don’t need to mention which one you’re using.  I’ve switched over to the Alchibah hour mode already. Not sure about the rest of the time system though.”

     Ash, thankful for the brief interruption, went right straight into his lecture. “OK, when we bugged out the bad guy’s had plans but, no budget. That means, no program in place. Projecting from their base, which does not include the Lancer’s drives; we can project three scenarios.”

     “But they have the Lancers drives now and may have had them for some time.” Janie interjected.

     “Well yes Ma’am, as much as a renegade MD could have given them” …. and clearing his throat Ash began again:

     “One, they want to come and nuke us and have it done with. They have to develop the drives and life support systems to put a four or five man deep penetration Fighter/Bomber and get it here. My projections show at least 6 (launch and use) years to develop and then deploy. If that case We can expect them in 4 years -E-.“

     Ash looked over to Janie and said, “I haven’t figured out the time system yet either so when I talk about my former masters I’ll use their time.“ Janie’s expression remained neutral and so Ash looked at me and continued. “Good news is that Lancer should be able to blow them to hell!”

     “Two, they decide to attempt a military takeover. We are looking at a cruiser with at least 200 troops and a time frame 10 years down the road. Remember they have to bring what their elitist mind’s think is overwhelming force! We should be able to stop that with the Lancer and an up gunned Mayflower hidden in the asteroid belt!”

     “Three, they try to beat us with more population. This is the max threat. We are looking 20 years down the road and our best defense is a solid infrastructure and just maybe the Capt.’s bolt hole!”

     “That’s how I see it, now, can I get a drink?”

     Finally my turn to get a word in edgewise. “Did you have the key, or have you broken the encryption on the rest of the cruisers files?”

     Looking somewhat sheepish Ash replied, “Well not exactly it’s tougher than I thought, but I’m thinking about ways to attack the problem and am going to work on it as soon as I get the wormhole search started.”

     “Good, Captain Travis gave us an almost verbatim version of your summary about a month ago. We need more and newer information if you can get it.” Ash nodded his head.

     “Andy a word with you before you go?” taking his cue from that, Ash proceeded to make his exit. “I know you say he’s good but is he that good?”

     “If he’s not I don’t know anyone else who is.” Andy replied thoughtfully. “I’ll keep on him. Ash needs to be liked so badly that he will drive himself harder than anyone else could.”

     “The twerp gets on my nerves”, Janie said. “And that Southern accent he switches on and off at will!”

     Andy laughed, “He’s like that. You love him or you hate him. But we don’t turn the accent on or off darlin’, we just sometimes ferget to suppress it! Anything else Bart?”

     “Nope. Good enough for now, get yourself that drink and I’ve got to get some sack time.”

It’s a small world, after all.

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by The Benjamin Family


Having caught Ash in the corridor I dragged him to Hanna’s place, “You are going to eat cuz. I am gonna drive you hard, but I’d prefer to keep you breathing!”

“OK OK, when did you become a mother hen?” He grinned.

I grinned, “Since you became the keeper of the keys. Think you can back up that brag back there?”

For once his face was serious, “If it’s the last thing I ever do!”

Reaching the bar it was, “Hi Hanna, food for this lug and two Bourbon on the rocks for me; Mariana’s on the way!” Leaving Ash to Hanna’s care I turned for the center of the room just as the New Lab Rats entered!


At the bar at last! Man I should have taken one of those silly little go-carts. I certainly don’t mind the exercise (though I’d hardly call it that), but it seems like everywhere you go in this place is a hike. I walked over to the bar and sat myself down.

“I’ll take a Jameson’s, on the rocks. The good stuff if you’ve got it.” I slapped the bar.

“Aren’t you a little young for that?” the barkeep asked. Hanna I think her name was.

I just looked at her. “I am.”

She stared back for a second. “Alright,” she sighed, “one 1780 coming up. I’ll save the real good stuff for later.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.” I turned to my right. “Now, what are you looking at? Ash, isn’t it?”

“Me? Nothin’. Just admiring the view.”

“I’m 17. Or I was when we got in those damned contraptions.” I replied, grinning. “Now, if you want to talk about that XD you’ve got hidden in your jacket, that’s one thing. If you want to keep admiring the view, that I might just have to take offense to.”

“Well now. I get the feeling you’re the type of person I wouldn’t want to offend. Firearms it is. So you got .38’s or .357’s in that Python your wearing?”

“Oh you better believe it’s got mags. Ashcroft,” I laughed, slapping him on the back, “this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”


We were just arriving at the Last Stop after a short but productive conversation on getting the Bio Lab prepped for our current and future animal companions. It looked like between Mariana, Sally, Linda and I we had most if not all of the bases covered as far as our medical needs went. Shame we only have a 2+ Lab to work with, but I have no doubt that with this team we can do a bang-up job.

As we entered the bar I pulled Mariana aside. “Linda, Sally, you go on ahead. I’ve got to talk to the boss here for a minute.” They went over to the bar, joining Jaisa and…Ash. Huh. That was a little worrisome, but it would have to wait. Andy was coming over as well.

“He’s your husband right? Word on the street is you were in SOCOM together.” I asked, quietly but intently.

“That’s right. What’s it to you?”

“What were your names? Your callsigns?” She gave me an inquisitive look.

“Well, I suppose it doesn’t much matter anymore, and a fair number of people on this boat already know. I was Magic. He’s Reaper.”

I looked at her gravely. “Come on, we need to talk. Andy too, if you don’t mind.” I started walking towards the private back room. “Jaisa, I need to borrow you for a second.” My tone was level; she knew I wasn’t joking around.

What Happened to Him?

Posted in 4. Bon Voyage by Kurt Kellerman

Sally Kellerman

We split off from Mariana and Conner and started across the Last Stop when I saw a sight that stopped me in my tracks.  My Husband sitting at the end of the bar with a bottle in front of him.  One small problem, Kurt did not drink.  He was too protective of his precious Surgeons skills to mess up his bod that way.  Yet there He sat!

I first went to Hanna and asked,” What did Kurt say he was doing Hanna?”

She gave me a wry grin,” He was mumbling stuff about Redneck Southern Mad Dogs but, if anybody ever needed a drink it was him!”

“OK thanks, I think.” I grimaced.

Hanna just stared at me, “Girl I have no idea what went on this morning but, I think you have one chance to save that boy.  For sure as God made little green apples, something kicked him right where he needed it!”

I walked over to the slumped figure and said, “I didn’t think you drank that stuff?”

The face that looked at me was more like a wounded animal than a man.  “That was before someone shoved a mirror up my nose, and I did not like what I saw!”

“What,” I asked speechless!

“Look 30 feet to your right.  There sits a man I tried to humble and degrade just like I have everyone for ten years.  Including, as I remember you!  Well, he would not take it.” He gave a small sick grin, “I understand it runs in the family!  Do you know what it feels like to be sure you are going to die; and then be dismissed as not worth the price of a bullet!”

His face looked like a graveyard, “You are right sweetheart, I have not drunk a drop since my last Shock/Trauma shift but, I seriously need to kill what stands between now and then.  This is the only acceptable way I can think of! Maybe, I can even forget some things!”

I made one swift decision, that was in fact my last chance.  “OK, don’t puke on the floor of the room. And, tell me when you are ready to talk.  Because then, it’s my turn”

His shocked, drawn face was worth it!

I turned away and moved to the center of the room where Linda was waiting, hoping no one could read my face!

Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

All Contents (written or photo/artwork) not attributed to other sources is
Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.