Well it seems my plan of working on Time Warriors frequently enough for new posts each week is a bust. Procrastination, sobriety and self-doubt are ever-present word snatchers. Nevertheless, I am still writing, though not as fast as I’d like. I realize that in the last post I talked about some things in Chapter 3 that are actually in Chapter 4. Doesn’t matter now. Point is, Chapter 4 is where this whole thing broke down. See, I had written it in two parts. The second part I read to my 5th grade class at the time and they loved it. Then the hard drive which had the only existing most recent copy. I tried to rewrite the second part but it just wouldn’t come to me as easily as it did the first time. So I spent $2,000 to have the data restored. And…after over a year I still haven’t pulled off the data from the restored drive. I will though. Seriously, soon.
In the meantime, here’s the first half of Chapter 4. Unedited, of course. In real time I’m toward the end of Chapter 5, but lack of proper prior character development has me stuck on Sebi’s internal dialogue. No matter, I know where it’s going, unlike our intrepid heroes who are about to take their first foray into this unknown fictional universe…
Chapter 4: A False Sensual Security
Phil came to consciousness feeling like he was disappearing from existence. It was an odd feeling to say the least, knowing that after you thought your erasure from eternity was almost completed, you find yourself suddenly awake and in pain. Michelle’s punch had knocked him out of his seat. He used his arms to push his torso up, found that he was still dizzy and had to pause. A hand lowered in front of his blurry visage.
“Here,” said Michelle, reaching her hand out to him, “Let bygones be bygones.”
“You’re crazy,” Phil mumbled, but reached his arm upward anyway and grasped her firm grip.
She pulled him up and he patted himself, checking for scratches or bruises. When he touched his face he felt a dull ache below his left eye.
“Sorry about that. It’ll heal up in a day or so,” Michele lilted.
“Crazy…” Phil repeated. It was the only thing he could manage to mumble.
At that moment the entire ship pulsated and hummed, like a series of precision brown-outs with a light/sound vibration that demanded immediate focus and attention.
“We’ve got something!” Christian exclaimed.
“Finally,” Phil said. He started to push past Michelle, then, freezing under her gaze he said, “Um excuse me, some of us have real work to do.”
He made his way to the sleek reflective dashboard, yanked a small floating hologram and pulled it out at eye level in front of him. It magnified and began rotating as wisps of information scrolled past his eyes in the form of words, symbols, and calculations.
Michelle watched in fascination as Phil turned in his throne-thing and placed his hands over the completely blank center of the ship’s dashboard. He started moving his hands in…. Michelle couldn’t make it out at first, but then it dawned on her.
Sign language. He’s using hand symbols to work the controls. She studied each movement carefully and watched as each manipulation of his hands produced a new event. First, the dome –like transparent top of the bridge dimmed. The stars were still visible but not as bright. Then, like a whirlpool twisting in upon itself, the center of the wall above the dashboard curled into another portal, this one as large as a cinema screen, but curved at the edges.
Sebi and Christian stood at opposite ends of the dashboard, with Michelle and Phil standing in the middle. All four of them froze and stared at what the portal revealed what had just appeared right outside the ship. Jupiter. That mass of hydrogen and helium which banded in stripes of mad rhythm, stormy and violent and groundless. But the Giant Red Spot was not red, it was crimson blue. Phil snorted when the computer gave him that name for the identified color. A thin ring of rocks, ice, and dust circled around the planet, reflected in sunlight that according to the instruments did not exist. Another object circled around the bizarre-planet before them…the moon. Not just a moon, the moon. Earth’s moon.
“Wha-wha-wha-wha?” Christian blurted.
The Akashic Data Drives began downloading the information, and with the limited data still remaining in bits and pieces scattered throughout ship’s systems, it was able to cobble together a confirmation that, in all respects that was indeed Earth’s own moon out there, orbiting around Jupiter…Jupiter with a Great Blue Spot.
“Well, it’s a sense of home anyway,” Sebi said.
“OK,” Phil said, “If it’s real then we can land on it.”
“We can’t land on a gas giant,” Christian mocked.
“You land some major gas giants every time you eat spicy food!”
Despite herself, Michelle laughed. Phil pretended to ignore it.
“I meant we land on the moon, nimrod,” Phil said instead.
“Don’t you think we should get some more data first?”
“There is no more data. There’s nothing out there,” Sebi stated matter-of-factly, “We’re gonna have to get out of this ship and do some old fashioned detective work,” Phil was glad for the second. Christian was always second guessing him, mostly, he guessed, because Christian was a bit of a neophobe. He feared the unknown, always preferring to study it from a distance. Phil was more the kind of guy who would ask any alien life form to dance.
“Fine,” Christian said, “Just let me get the Surreal Calculator and we can—“
“Have you finished testing it?” Phil interrupted.
“Well, not exactly,” Christian admitted, “But if we’re heading out to the middle of nowhere in a place we know all too well, it’s the best tool we’ve got.”
Phil had to concede this point. The Surreal Calculator was his brainchild. Christian was so damned clever. He got his revenge through compromise. He knew Phil wanted to see the Surreal Calculator in action, but he didn’t want to give Christian the credit he deserved for making the damn thing work right. Of course, it didn’t work quite right but Christian maintained that this was more a result of the user’s negative vibrations causing gremlins in the Gluurg Regurgitator.
As if reading Phil’s thoughts, Christian said, “We won’t use the Gluurg Regurgitator. It has a few gremlins and we don’t want to ask help from a deity that might screw us in the end.”
“Agreed,” said Christian and the two boys seemed to come to some kind of quiet resolution.
“So, wait, we’re just going to go down there, and…walk around?” Michelle asked doubtfully.
“You’ve got a better idea?” Phil asked.
“Yes I do,” Michelle flared, “How about a chair so I can sit down and PROCESS some of this!”
The three heroes looked guiltily at each other. Sebi felt most guilty of all, as if he should have been the one to think of such things.
“Think of a chair,” Phil said flatly.
“What?” Michelle cocked her head.
“THINK,” Phil barked, tapping his index finger to his cranium, “of a CHAIR,” he said, tapping his index and middle fingers perpendicular against his other two index and middle fingers, which was sign language for “sit” or “chair.”
Michelle thought of the chair in her bedroom, the big soft yellow one she could stretch out or curl up in. She had spent hours upon days sitting in that chair reading, and more recently, plotting.
As the image of the chair formed in her mind it formed in mid-air around and under her. She felt a slight drop as gravity placed her upon the familiar feel of the cushion. Then she turned to face Phil.
“Thank you,” she said. “Now, you can start by telling me how I just did that.
“The Beacon runs on Doolean technolgoy.”
“Don’t you mean Boolean technology?” Michelle surprised them with her knowledge.
“No, we mean Doolean, named after our one of our awesome spiritual mentors, Mike Dooley.”
“He’s the one who taught us that thoughts become things.”
“And that’s how Doolean technology works. You focus your thoughts, kind of like in meditation, and what you want manifests in front of you.”
“OK, OK,” Michelle replied, “So I just think of something, like going home, and I’m there?”
“Well, there is an actuality factor that limits the crew member’s choices. We can do almost anything, but we can’t do everything.”
“Uh….huh,” said Michelle.
“Anyway, let’s get going. Time Warriors…SUIT UP!” shouted Sebi.
Phil and Christian rolled their eyes. The three boys each made separate movements as sleek looking uniforms, utility buckles, boots, and backpacks materialized onto them [describe uniforms: all-terrain slippers, make complete descriptive list]
Michelle thought they looked kind of ridiculous and said so.
“So lame…you look like the next generation of Ghostbusters,” she quipped.
“Thank you for the compliment,” Phil grinned. He turned his back to her, and made his way to the center of the chamber. Computer consoles hovered out of the way, clearing a circular space about 6 ft in diameter. Another portal opened up on the floor in front of him and what looked like a clear soap bubble wobbled upward. It expanded, shimmered, and stiffened into a perfect sphere.
“Let’s go,” Phil said and stepped through the bubble. It clung to his skin like cobwebs until letting go when he was completely through. Christian followed, his eyes glued to the Surreal Calculator as he attempted to write some last minute programs.
Sebastian turned to Michelle and said, “Here.”
A backpack appeared over her shoulders and a utility belt similar to the one the boys had materialized around her waste.
“Uh, thanks,” Michelle said, “What about the ship? You’re just going to leave it here?”
“Yes, but in Lurker Mode. It will monitor our movements and provide a stationary reference point.”
Michelle rolled her eyes, “Whatever.”
As they stepped through the bubble, the entire bridge dimmed away. They descended through the floor and like a single drop of water falling from a faucet, they dripped out into the new space.
All four of them hovered inside the thing. More circuitry and holograms appeared in front of all three boys. Each focused intently on whatever task had been assigned to him. Michelle could only guess by the frequent facts they verbally shared with each other.
“Standard physical laws seem to apply…”
“…with with some obvious but irrelevant gaps…”
“It’s like parts of the continuum were ripped out and what remained was hastily stitched together,” Christian said.
“No data on lifeforms, the terrain is exactly the same as our own moon…except…this one has an atmosphere. Now that makes absolutely no sense,” Sebi said.
“Add it to the list,” Phil replied, “I’m bringing us into standard orbital. Let’s do a full circle and find the best place to land.”
The sphere dipped and the moon expanded into view as they began a cautious orbit. As they glided low over the surface, it appeared to shift and ripple beneath them.
“Wha-wha-wha-what?” exclaimed Phil.
The surface continued to merge, as if the rocks themselves turned to dark liquid and filled their own cracks. Within minutes the moon was a uniformly smooth grey sphere.
“Maybe we should go back to the Beacon,” Christian murmured.
“Fuhgeddaboudit,” said Phil, and made some signs with his hands that brought their bubble to a hover a few feet above the surface.
“Scanners indicate solidity. We won’t sink or anything,” said Phil.
“That’s encouraging,” Sebi said sarcastically.
The bubble they were in vanished and they drifted softly onto the smooth grey surface. Phil clearly felt lighter. He turned to Christian and said, “Same gravity as the moon.”
“Yes,” Christian agreed as he looked at the Surreal Calculator, “1/6 Earth’s gravity.”
“So what about the surface?” asked Sebi, “What happened to all the craters?”
“There were craters here a few minutes ago. “
“Fine, so, no craters. Big deal.” Michelle scoffed.
In an uncanny replay of gym class, a meteor suddenly shot out of the sky, seemingly from nowhere. There were only a few precious seconds to think, and luckily Christian thought fast. He concentrated and quickly punched a series of keys on the Surreal Calculator. The other three turned and ran in separate directions, a futile act because the impact of the meteor would smash the whole surrounding area to bits. Phil sprinted but soon realized he had left everybody behind. He turned to look back and saw Sebi and Michelle running in opposite directions. Christian just stood there, punching keys into the Surreal Calculator as the meteor hurled directly at him. Phil began to sprint back in the other direction, to knock Christian out of the way and then later knock him silly for acting so stupidly.
Phil didn’t get more than a few feet when an invisible force pushed him hard and he was flung backwards into the air. Christian watched the meteor smash into the ground as he also flung upwards with enough speed to clear the exploding cloud of rock and dust, and still clutching the Surreal Calculator in his hand. The same thing happened to Sebastian and Michelle. There was a deafening sound for a few minutes as all four of them lay flat on their stomachs, spread far apart from each other, with their arms over their heads and eyes closed. Soon the cacophony subsided and they each stood up, looked at each other from a distance across a freshly steaming crater.
“Holy Bejeezus!” Phil exclaimed, “Talk about coincidence.”
“There is no such thing as coincidence,” Christian retorted.
“Then what the hell do you call that?” Phil pointed at the crater. “We’re talking about craters, and boom, meteor flies right at us.”
“I call it synchronicity,” said Sebi.
“Well it sure as hell ain’t serendipity!” Phil continued, “There’s some Machiavellian machinations going on here and I wanna know who’s messing with us!”
“Are you OK Michelle?” Sebi said as he stood over her with an outstretched hand. Still stunned, she took it absently.
“I…am…so…SICK and TIRED of things falling FROM THE SKY!” yelled Michelle as she dusted off her skirt.
“What did you do, anyway?” Phil asked Christian.
“I used the Orthagonal Colligation program to create an expanding force barrier. More specifically, a Buckminister-Fuller dome of transparent aluminum that multiplied in diameter exponentially until it could push us far enough out of the blast range.”
“Good thinking,” Phil admitted.
“Guess this thing actually works,” said Christian.
“Well, that’s a simple program. Don’t go trying anything fancy or you’ll liable to get us transmogrifried.”
“Yes Yes. All in the name of science.”
“Indeed,” Phil rolled his eyes.
“So now what?” Sebi asked.
“Now we walk,” said Phil.
“But where? There readings show no landforms!” Christian insisted.
“Well then I guess one direction is as good as another.”
“Do you remember seeing those mountains before?” Michelle interrupted.
The three boys turned to look in the direction she was facing, and sure enough there was a range of mountains thinned out across the horizon only a few miles away.
“No, but it’s as good a place as any to start,” said Phil, “Let’s go.”
Before Christian could disagree, Phil started off with brick low-gravity hops, with Sebi and Michelle soon following. Christian sighed and kicked up dust as he skipped into a lengthy glide to catch up with them.
The immense, swirling spookiness of Jupiter loomed over them, filling up almost the entire sky. The great blue spot seemed to rest lazily over the mountains, casting an iridescent glow over the barren landscape.
At first they walked side by side in silence. After a while though Christian and Phil started talking about something she neither understood nor cared about, and she slowed her pace to fall back. Sebi slowed his pace to match hers, which she found slightly annoying. He didn’t speak to her though, so she was forced to listen to Phil and Christian debating about a sci-fi book series called Dune.
(incomplete, attached updated file)
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