Crisis of Idealism: A Space Opera

The World is destroy. Nearly a thousand years later a sinister plot that could destroy all faith in a transcendental power is revealed. Will Good prevail, or will Evil gain power?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

What's next?

I suppose it prudent to mentiont that I have started the dreaded re-write of this novel. Its going to be a lot different. The focalisation of the narrative is going to shift awat from Jonathan for a large part of the story, and I'm introducing two new sub-plots. Well, okay, one, but the other one exists only breifly in this version. It'll be pulled out and expanded. Oh, and, Captain Fortworth and Grinder will become the same person... Just to make my job that much more difficult. you'll barely recognise the new version. I've already written an entierly new "chapter" that takes place during the decade Jonathan is stuck on his planet alone.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Heh heh heh...

those people printing my book said that my copy should be here soon... within the week. Hehehehe... suckers. They wasted $8.24 one me!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

In Print

If for some reason you absolutely love this stoy and would like the first edit in print, contact me and I can hook you up with a URL that will allow you to order a copy of Crisis Of Idealism ... in real paperback form!
Don't get all excited, its not really published. I just learned that I could get a copy in print for free if I self-published it on a website. And the fact is, they can print these things to order. It looks real pretty and everything is spelled right (I edited and formatted the entire 185 page book myself) ... Special bonus! Its has about 500 more words than the edition on this Blog! See what I changed! See what I added! See what I took away!
The best part is - I'm not charging any royalties, so all it costs you is the printing and shipping cost. Hoorah.

So thats my sales pitch.
Thats all for today

Monday, November 29, 2004

That was intense

Final word count: 50,533.
Thats right sucks! You're looking at my official novel, in its ugly, ugly first draft format. I've already run through the first ten chapters to clean up grammer and its gained 200 words. Weird.
At any rate, It was a long arduous journey, but here I am at the opposite end, one of the proud winners of the NaNoWriMo contest, 2004.
Its a pile of crap in its current form, but once I go through it, add in the climactic battle that I didn't write, actually write the subplot that deals with the romance between Jonathan and Marcelle and flesh out some of the philosophy, explain it a little better and clean up all the theological stuff I got into there just before the climax, well, it might look a bit better.
It also might be half again as long as it already is... but oh well. If I can make it better, thats good. If I can't, oh well... It took me a month to write. honestly, its no huge loss. As an excercise to learn how to pump out a lot material quick, it was good.

Chapter Thirty-Three: An Example

Jonathan spent a sleepless night in his cell. He feared the nexty day because he did not know what to expect.
In the morning, the guards came and took him down to the landing bay, past the broken elevator and the burned out Angel of Redemption, and into a shuttle. He was shortly joined by the rest of his companions and the Port Orpheus elder known as Lucas - the form that Septimus took when he wanted to speak to the people of the idealist civilisation.
"Why the disguise, Mr. Jones?" Jonathan asked bitterly
"It's really quite simple, Jonathan." Septimus said in the calm friendly tones of Lucas. "It's all about my age. People would never accept that Septimus Jones is still alive, and yet, I need to be in contact with my people."
"What about all of the people who staff this ship?" Jonathan asked. To the last, he was curious.
"Oh, they're selected from the best of the best. The people with the strongest minds are interviewed, and if they pass a number of loyalty test, they next speak to me in this form. If I think they can handle the job, I tell them my true nature and they are taken into my inner circle where there are no secrets. They are essentially the modern Apocalyptists, Mr. Brooke. Now, no more questions. I'm afriad if I talk to you too much, my resolve will break and I will take pity on you."
the shuttle ride down to the surface was a quick one. They landed at the spaceport and were all led outside. Jonathan was once again met with the familiar double red suns of the Port Orpheus system, but the city looked nothign like it had during his previous two visits. There was the smell of burning in the air, and he could see more than one plume of black smoke stretching across the sky like an inky hand foretelling doom. In the ditance he could hear random cries and sporratic bursts of gunfire.
As he marched through the city with a troup of armed guards around him, he was surprised to see so much ruin. There were buildings toppled, ships laying in pieces arcoss entire streets. Bodies could be seen, scattered. All dead, lying in the street like the trash of an oppulent society.
It wasn't long before Jonathan could hear the unmistakable sounds of a large crowd. It was growing ever closer as they marched through the unsafe streets.
At one point, there was a clatter of gunfire, and one of the guards dropped to the ground. Almost immediatly, spetimus took cover with surprising agility for a man of his age. The guards forced the four captives down behind the cover and began searching the surrounding ruins for the origin of the shot.
It did not take them long to find a small cell of idealists hiding in the remains of a nearby building. Jonathan watched as the bullet ridden body of an unarmed man fell from a the third story of the building missing it's wall.
The guards soon returned and continued the escort. It was a slow walk thought a war torn city; neither side had clear controll of the territory.
the trip eventually led them to a sort of parade grounds. Jonathan looked and saw what was in store for him. There were a great many people, non-combatants, he assumed, missing about in the feild. There were armed military men watching over a large group of people sitting with their arms bound behind their backs. The crowd was all looking at a new structure, the likes of which none had ever seen before. Jonathan recognised it instantly.
A gallows.
He turned towards Septimus. "You're going to hang us." He stated.
"That's right." the old man said. "I told you I had to make an example of you. I offerend you all a chance to renounce your ways. You could have joined me and ended this revolution without more bloodshed. You could have had a peacfeul sollution. In the end, however, you chose to stick with your beliefs. I must admit, i find this commendable, if foolish. An example must be made to the people. I saw two ways to stop this revolution. In the first, the leaders, that is you and your companions, Jonathan, would have to revert back to the original ideology. If the people saw that the leaders had changed bake to the true path, then they would follow. The second possability would be to cut off the head of the rebellion. Destroy the leaders and the people would lose faith, they woudl want to stop fighting because they would know that they would be next swinging on the rope. I amit that it's a brutal death, hanging, but it makes for a wonderful example."
Jonathan was mounting the stairs by the time Septimus finished speaking. "The only example you'll make here today, Mr. Jones," Jonathan shouted at the old man "Is that of martyrs. The people will see that we believed so strongly in our cause that we died for it! Today, Mr. Jones, all you are doing is sealing the fate of Idealism, and outdated and quite simply wrong philosophy of the universe. Today, Mr. Jones, will be the greatest victory for the realists. Its will forge their characters and they will fight until they have won!"
"Inspiring words, I'm sure, Mr. Brooke." Septimus replied. "But everything remains to be seen."
The nooses were tightened around the necks of the four companions.
Septimus Jones walked up to a a podium of sorts and spoke to the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen! Today I, Lucas, the head Elder of Port Orpheus have brought to you an end of the conflict that has cause so many problems in our once beautiful city. The very leaders of the rebel insurgence have been captured. Today, for their crimes in insiting the most terrible war since The Destruction of our homeworld, Earth, they will be given a punishment that only crimes of their nature deserve. They will be executed by the ancient right of hanging. Let this be an example to anyone who believes the the Realist ideal is worth fighting and killing for. In the end, all you are doing is giving up your own life."
Septimus' speech was interrupted by gunfire around the complex. Realists were pushing in, Jonathan could see them. they were making a bold offensive agains a heavily guarded area in an attampt to save their leaders. The glimmer of hope was lost, however, when Septimus turned around and started walking for the staris down. As he passed, he nodded to the executioner. He would not even hive his opponets the dignity of watching them die.
Jonathan looked over at Marcelle. "I love you," he said to her.
And then he dropped.

The End

Chapter Thirty-Two: The Battle of Port Orpheus

The ship started to rattle the next day, Jonathan could hear centuries old machinery kicking into action deep in the bowels of the large vessel. The power need to drive something so massive was more than the ship could output while running all interior functions, so for the time the ship was accelerating, the light went out. Jonathan thought of when the Angel of Redemption was pulled into the bay. The lights were off then as well. the Beast must have been in poor shape after a thousand years. No amount of upkeep could have ever kept it looking new after that amount of time, and the ship missed quite a many repair dates.
The acceleration took hours, and Jonathan sat in the dark. He began to get hungry and realised that his meal was late. He wondered if the crew ate during the blackouts. Eventually the lights flickered back on, silently.
About a day passed, and Jonathan thought about what was said to him in his last discussion with Septimus Jones. It was a difficult set of questions to ponder, but Jonathan still felt that he was in the right. He believed that the realists were the right choice to make.
He was surprised again when the guards came by with a request for him to go speak to septimus once again, but even more surprised to see his companions in the hall with the guards as well. Jonathan knew by looking at their faces that they had all been told the same information he had, in one form or another. Perhaps it had been presented to them in a manner more fitting to their position in the realist underground movement, but there was no doubt in Jonathan's mind that they had faced the same difficult questions that he had.
They all moved silently towards the conference lounge. What could they have said to each other?
There were enough chairs for each of them facing septimus. The table appeared to be less rotten than it was, and it held a few peices of equipment.
"Ah yes, the intrepid and steadfastly realist group of guests." Septimus said as they trouped into the room and sat down without any sort of defiance. They felt broken, but in approaching Port Orpheus, perhaps there was hope.
"You might wonder why I brought you all here. Quite simply, I wanted to show you something that I thought would be best presented to you in a group. Miss Oberholtzer, as a sort of impromptu leader of this realist campaign, i understand that you have used violence before. But would you condone planet-wide rioting and reckless killing in teh name of your philosophy?"
"Of course not." Marcelle replied. "I'm not a monster or a planet killer like you."
"Such harsh words. I of course agree with you that that sort of rioting is not a good thing in today's galactic society. unfortunetly, it is a sad reality here on Port Orpheus. We will be in orbit by tomorrow, and, as you understnad, I will have to put a stop to these riots. I asked each and every one of you if you wanted to stand beside your Realist ideals or if you wanted to once again support Idealism. The offer of conversion, you understand, stays open."
Septimus looked across the table at the group, who sat silent. Grinder matched his gaze, but it had none of the fire that it should have. "I'm going to tell you a story." Septimus told the group. "You might think that I am biased, but I assure you, because of Mr. Grinder's familiy on the surface, I am the only person in this conflict who sees both sides of the issue clearly. it all has to do with what happened on Port Orpheus after you started to spread around your little book. a great many people read this book, and it seems that some of those people thought that it had merrit. Other thought that it was rubbish, clearly. Unfortunetly, too many people read the book, and each side really began to foster ill feelings towards the other." Septimus frowned. "Such a shame."
The old man took one of the pieces of equipment on the table - a video screen, and turned it towards the group. It had footage playing silently on it. there was a large group of people fighting in the street. There were no weapons, nothing but bodies throwing themselves at each other. There was blood on more than one face. There were even a few of the local authorities in the crowd, being beaten by those around them.
"These images were taken a few days after you left. It seems that a group of realists were talking loudly about their new system of beliefs when some old school idealists walked up. I cannot tell you who threw the first punch, but I can tell you that this incident ignited a bloody riot. Eventually somebody was shot," at this comment, the video screen angled in on a body bleeding from a neat hole laying on the ground. "That man, as I understand it, was somewhat of an important figure in the realist movement."
Jonathan immedialy recognised him as the man who had printed Andy' book.
"Well, the realists took none too kindly to this death. Mr. Grinder, perhaps you will be pleased to know that your wife tried to stop your son from going to fight. She argued rather eluquently in favour of a peaceful solution, in fact, but it seems that human nature took over in the end. Your son, Mr. grinder, gathered together a posse of men who immediately went hunting for blood."
There were more images in the screen. It showed a group of men and women toting weapons walking down the streets of Port Orpheus. They were serious looking, and evnetually they were met with opposition. The local military force met them in the street. guns began to blaze in the soundless picture and people started to fall.
"This conflict, you understand, was the real issue. The military took losses in this fight. And so did Realist mob. It inticed people all over the city to take to the streets. Many were fighting one another, nobody knew what side the other was on and some people just took to taking advantage of the material gain in a war torn city. Looting was widespread and fighting prolific in the streets. Groups of either ideology would find each other, and pick a fight with a group of the other. The fighting continued to escalate."
There were pictures on the screen of two buildings across teh road from each other trading shots with many sorts of weapons. Eventually a few rockets straked out of one building and slammed into the other, destroying the fascade. A few bodies could be seen falling to the ground along with the rubble. No one could tell what side had take the forceful action.
"Understandably, there were some mistaken cases of friendly fire, but for the most part, it was ideology sgainst ideology in the streets. The battle raged for days, and eventually teh military began to take drastic action in teh intrest of preserving loyal idealist lives. they began to bomb the buildings that were known to be realist strongholds."
The images on the screen showed the millitary ships of the world streaking above the city, bombs dropping at what seemed liek random interval all over the city.
"Of course, the realist were not pleased with this action, so they took to shooting down the aircraft. There were enough weapons in the street by that point that they could easily find what they needed on the bodies of dead soldiers. Ships were brought down, and they crashed through the city, turning blocks into rubble."
The screen once again showed an aircraft zooming thought the clouds above the city, but eventually an orange ball blossomed out of it and the craft tumbled to the ground, striking a building and casing it to collapse.
"the destruction, you can see, is very widespread. Both sides are responsible for the horrors of war. Both sides killed many people. The death toll on this world incalcuable at this time."
The screen switched again, this time to an aerial view. The camera must have been affixed to one of the craft above the city in ruins.
"Mr. Grinder, I regret to inform you that your family has all passed away. Your son was killed in the initial fire-fight. Your daughter was killed when she turned up in the wrong place looking for you son and your wife was killed when the building she was in was bombed by a passing aircraft."
Grinder's head fell. He had to know that this sort of information was coming, but he began to shake in silent sobs.
"As you can all understand from Mr. Grinder's plight, this sort of fighting is merely unacceptable. I have to bring it to an end. There are two ways that I can think of that provide a way out of this dangerous situation. In both cases, you all will be made examples of. The question is, would you rather do this as my enemy, or at my side? It is perfectly reasonable for you to support me now - you have seen yourselves what damage your ideas have done to an otherwise perfectly peacable society that has not seen conflict that I did not engineer myself since its creation a millenium ago. You four are the key to repairing this damage. I ask you now, and this is your last chance, will you join me? Will you stnad by my side, and renounce realism? Will you once again join idealism, show the poeple the error in your ways? Can you help rebuild Utopia? Or must I do it myself?"
Andy slowly lifted his head. He looked more mature to Jonathan than he ever had before. Camly and with great accuracy, he spit on Septimus and said "go to hell, bastard."
With as much grace as he could muster, Septimus wiped the spittle from his face. He did not betray himself and showed no anger towards Andy. "I assume the young one speaks for all of you, then. It makes me sad, but I guess it is inevitable. You will stand by your realism, but I must still stop this war before it speads beyond the borders of this one world. You understand, of course."
Septimus rose from his chair, and the guards came in to take the prisoners back to their cells. before they left, Septimus said one last thing. "You know, Mr. Brooke, if you had joined me, I might have been able to convert Earth. Now, of course, I'm going to have to go back and finish a job I started over a thousand years ago."

Chapter Thirty-One: The Third Discussion

Jonathan expected the return of the gaurd the third time. The door opened as soon as he stood up from the cot. Jonathan took the data pad with him.
The walk to the conferance was almost familiar and Jonathan did not even wait to be asked to sit down. He decided that he should show some sort of self will.
Septimus stared at him steadily for a few moments before he spoke. "Mr. Brooke, the last two time we spoke with each other, I questioned you. Perhaps you would like to ask me a few questions today."
Jonathan looked at Septimus. "How are you still here?" He asked bluntly.
"That, my friend, it a very broad question. I assume that you mean how have I managed to live for over a thousand years? I'll tell you the truth on this one, Mr. Brooke. I don't know. Maybe I have some sort of devine purpose to fufil, maybe it the close relationship I have with the eternal universe. Perhaps it poured itself back into me. I know that might not be the answer you were looking for, but it's all I can offer."
"Alright, I'll except that," Jonathan told the old man "but how did you manage to escape the moon?"
"A more refined version of your earlier question, of course. Also a vauge question, I've been on many moons and escaped more than one. But again, I'll assume that you mean the Earth's moon. That one is simple, after The Beast finished her firing sequence, there were two hours before the nuclear arms arrived at the moon. I managed to change the perceptions of the Universe just in time to get this wonderous ship behind the moon, and from there I managed to take it out here to the Ranch system, where I reburied it. In all these years, this is only third time I've taken it from it's berth in the rock. Of course, your interesting experiment with the light speed ship managed to ignite the planet here and a flare destroyed that moon as well, but that escape was just a matter of flying the Beast out."
"Alright." Jonathan looked at Septimus "Why did you destroy Earth?"
"I wondered when you might get to the heavy questions, Mr. Brooke. You won't believe my answer, but I swear on your transcendental power that it is the truth. You of course remember the Apocalypists? I was the leader of their group. The ideology behind the group, I am afraid, was lost through the ages of time. I was there, I know what it was about. We wanted to save the human race, not destroy it. 'The Apocalyptists' was a title given to us by USNA propoganda. It was not our name nor our ideology. We were a religious group - Christians, if that means anything to you. I've long since seen the error in the dogma of that religion, but the principal distilled beliefs were sound. Our group could see what was happening in the world. There was a claim of equality that masked terrible biggotry, a claim of economy that masked terrible waste, and fiction of a prospering economy..." Septimus sighed. "The world was in sorry shape, and we thought that we could save the human race. We would take the worthy - a word, I might note, that was translated into wealthy in the past thousand years - to a new sort of promised land and returned to Earth to destroy the unworthy masses. I made a mistake that day. I assumed that the Beast would destroy all life on Earth. It obviously did not, as I expected. The in system colonies, I though they would destroy each other. Apparently I was merely lucky in that respect. the Colony on Mars almost survived."
Jonathan was processing the information in horror. He closed his shocked mouth, but said nothing.
"You look so horrified Mr. Brooke. Tell me, in all honesty, is what I did really all that different from what you and your companions are doing now?"
Jonathan, on the defensive, said "We were not planning on destroying entire worlds!"
"Of course you weren't. But tell me this - what of the people that reject your message? What would happen to the people that wished to continue to follow Idealism?" Septimus waited for an answer. None came. "I see that you cannot answer my question. In that case, I will permit you to ask me another."
"Why wouldn't you let anybody return to Earth?" Jonathan asked after a few moments.
"This question should have a very apparent answer, Jonathan. What if my fellow Idealists went there and found out that I was the one that destroyed their fellow humans? The worthy did not want to condemn those on Earth. The wanted to believe that they could be saved in time. Some even tried to stay and preach. I had to use another moniker when destroying the planet. I was two seperate apocalyptists. One was Septimus, the radical. The other was Warren, the saviour. It was the only way I could get the worthy out to these systems and still destroy earth without being destroyed in turn. I did have an elaborate death planed to Septimus. Thankfully, the USNA took care of that for me. Simply put, I hid the location of Earth from everybody in the new soceity and forbid people from returning. I was afraid, should they find any evidence of what I had done, they would turn against me. I could not risk that. Not even I returned. Of course, in retrospect, I feel that maybe I should have, because you led your realist friends right to Earth, and have caused the very problems that I was trying to avoid."
Jonathan and Septimus sat in silence for a few moments. There was a certain amount of tension in the air. "I suppose it might be useless to ask, Mr. Brooke, but I must. You have certainly given thought to everything I have said in these discussions. I have to ask you, will you consider renouncing realism and taking into consideration the path of the idealist?"
"I would never follow an evil man like you." Jonathan said to Septimus.
"You know, Jonathan, I expected an answer like that. I knew miss Oberholtzer would never accept my offer, but i wondered about mr. Grinder and your young friend Andy. It seems that none of them would accept. But, I am still willing to let you change your mind. In a few days, we will engage the in system drives and push the Beast into orbit around Port Orpheus. A bloody revolt has broken out there. The only way I can think to quash it is to appear, in my moniker of Lucas, of course, and make an example of the leaders of the rebellion. That would be you and your three companions, of course.The question is, Jonathan Brooke, what kind of example should I make? It's entirely up to you. Should you change your mind about what side you wish to take in this conflict, all you need do is speak to the gaurds."
Septimus paused for a few moments. "I have one last idea for you to consider, Mr. Brooke. You called me evil. What if I told you that there was no such thing as evil, Mr. Brooke, but only lesser good? What if I told you that either philosophy would be just as good for humanity, and that neither would lead the human race into eternal damnation? Is your philosophy not self destroying when it says that no interpretation of the Transcendental Power could ever be accurate? Is it not acceptable to believe that Idealism and Realism are equally as valid? What is less good, Mr. Brooke, destorying one world to create a utopia among the stars, or destroying that utopia to make a system that will condone violence and destuction, and take a bloody war that will destroy billions of people? Who here is the evil man, Mr. Brooke?"

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Chapter Thirty: Echoes of the 21st Century

Jonathan was left alone in his cell for days. He had nothing to do but think. He kept on pondering the conversation he had had with Septimus Jones. Often, though, he wondered what had become of Marcelle and his other companions. Jonathan also though about how he could escape. Every few hours, he would look over his entire cell and try and find something he missed, but he never could.
Three times a day food was delivered to him to the two gaurds. Jonathan saw no point in refusing the food, and ate it everytime it came. There was never anything useful to be found on the flimsy plastic tray that might aid his escape.
Jonathan spent the days wondering what might become of him. It was genuinely a surprise when the armed guard walked up to the door and said "Your presence is requested by Mr. Jones in the conference lounge."
Jonathan wasn't sure he wanted to go, but he saw it as an opportunity to perhaps get some information. He stood up and walked to the door. the guard outside gave a signal down the hall and stepped aside as the door swung open.
Jonathan was no manhandled this time, but rather just led by the one guard to the same room he had been in when last speaking with Septimus Jones. He walked inside and found the old man once again sitting on the far side of the rotten table. He looked up from the same pad he had been holding the last time when Jonathan walked in the room. "Ah, welcome back Mr. Brooke. Do take a seat."
Jonathan saw no need to refuse, and sat down in the old chair opposite of Septimus.
"Looks like you're willing to be a bit more civil today, Mr. Brooke. Your friends certainly were on their subsiqeunt interviews."
"I suppose I can talk to you. After all, how else am I going to learn anything new?"
"A man of logic, I see. Well, as a matter of fact Jonathan, I did bring you here to talk today. First and foremost, I wanted to know about that strange creature that seems to have come with you. I disected it myself, and the physiology was really quite fascinating. It appeared to have the right traits for an intellegent species."
Jonthan's jaw clenched tight. His eyes went cold. "You treated him like an animal. He was a rational communicative being. He didn't deserve to be killed."
"You talk about it like it was a person... the fact is, your small alien companion was an animal. As for killing it, well, I'm sorry I did. It looked to be a such fascinating creature. I would have liked to study it when it was living. But you understand, I was just devending myself from it. It did attack me after all."
Jonathan was having tourble keeping himself in check. "He had a name. It was Norman," he hissed through clentched teeth.
"Surely you gave him that name? But that is beside the point. I realise that your pet was rather special to you. I understand it... he was your only companion when you were stranded on a world otherwise along for quite some time. I did want to apologise for incuring such extra emotional strain on you by being the progenitor of Norman's death. It was Norman, correct?"
Jonathan just stared at the impossible man.
"You know Mr. Brooke that your philosophy is as much flawed as mine is?"
This caught Jonathan's attention. "What do you mean?"
"I read your companions Andy's book. It seems you are exhaulted as the saviour sent from Earth. The one that allowed the realists to learn my true nature. Of course, that isn't the point I want to discuss. I was wondering, what makes you think that I am the one that is described as a," here Septimus consulted his note pad, "oh yes, a 'corrupted evil from a confused millenium'? Who is to say that I represent this concept of evil, Mr. Brooke? It says in this book that my descendants, I'm sure he meant the colonists and not my children directly, had forgotten the true transcendental power and replaced it with the Mind. Who says that is true? What Idealist truthefully believes that The Mind is a god of sorts?"
Jonathan could not answer the question. He thought back to his discussions with Captain Fortworth, but thought of nothing that was relevant to this argument.
"I see that you cannot answer. I would like to read you something, Mr. Brooke." Septimus flipped through a number of pages on his pad untill he found what he was looking for. "Ah, here we are. This is something that was written by an anymous philosopher sometime around the dawn of the 21st century.
"'Space Invaders is just a game, but it has to be one of the largest symbols of hopelessness I've ever come across. In most video games you overcome the great evil and defeat it, everybody's happy in the end and such on and so forth. In short, you save the world. That’s the point, you're supposed to go through trials and much difficulty, and in the end you are left with a feeling of accomplishment - that is what makes video games entertaining. Not so in Space Invaders.' You do know what the philosopher was speaking about, right?"
Jonathan thought about it. "I can't say I do, no."
"Back before the destruction, computers were used as much for entertainment as they were for tools. I remember those days. The game that the philosopher is lost on me, I don't really know what it is, but he does describe it as he goes on. Basically, the premise is that the people of that century used computers to be their opponent in when they played a game. Do you understand this concept?"
Jonathan nodded.
"Excellent, then I shall continue. 'Space Invaders is different. You shoot all of the weird flying jellyfish that feel that the best manoeuvre they can make is to march on your little green vehicle at the bottom of the screen in a stepwise, geometric pattern downwards.
"'You can line the aliens up in your sights and shoot them all, you can even blast that red mother ship at the top of the screen and get four question marks worth of bonus points, but you can never really defeat them.
You whittle them down, and you take refuge behind your shields, and then, once you think victory is at hand, you shoot the last alien out of the sky and there suddenly appears, as if out of nowhere, a new hoard of invaders. Only this time, they started just a little closer to the surface of Earth. You work fervently to destroy this wave of aliens as well, and if you do, it buys enough time to get an extra vehicle to defend Earth with. But this is just a kind of false hope. Every wave you destroy, there's one new vehicle for you, but there are hoards of aliens, and each time you defeat them they get a little bit closer to the ground.
"'The premise behind the game is that it's supposed to get more difficult with each subsequent wave, so each one starts closer to the ground, is a bit faster than the last and returns more fire. The way the game is programmed, however, dictates that if you should continue to quickly defeat the aliens, another wave will always follow - Literally, there is no end to the invasion.
"'The fight you put on, pushing the joystick back and forth and desperately mashing the fire button after you miss that last alien in hopes that you will somehow coax another shot out of your guns before your first one reaches the top of the screen, it's all in vain. It's like trying to read Hemmingway with only your teeth. You can't do; in Space Invaders, you cannot save Earth. It's hopeless.
You can hide behind your sheilds, but as time passes the fire from the alien ships will wear them away. There is no hope. Space Invaders is a tragic symbol of inevitable defeat. '"
Septimus pasued for a moment. He let the short essay hang in the air. Jonthan looked at the old man and asked "Why did you read me this?"
"I found it to be oddly prophetic." Septimus replied. "I've had a thousand years to read the library on this vessel and of all the things I've read, this particular peice stuck out to me. It's such a tragic description. You can tell by the narrative that the author, whomever he or she may have been, had spent time with this game. It's almost like a confession. They fell enteirly hopeless to stop the aliens, and yet they always go back to try again. Now, Mr Brooke, I want you to apply this to yuo life. You are the defender down on Earth, the realists are your sheild. Who do you suppose are the aliens in the sky?"
Jonathan knew well what the answer should be. "The idealists" he spit out bitterly.
"Of course, Mr. Brooke, you are correct. I knew you could work it out, you are an intellegent man. The question I want you to think about, really, however is this: would you rather fight a futile losing battle against the ever closer aliens, or would you rather come out from behind your sheild and keep it from being destroyed?
"That will be all for today Mr. Brooke, there is a guard outside waiting for you. He will take you back to your cell." With that, Septimus Jones turned back to his pad of paper and began to scribble in the strange figures that Jonathan did not recognise.
Jonathan left the room and was taken back to his cell, where his thoughts again followed the conversation he had just had with Septimus. Jonathan was left to try and figure out what Septimus had meant coming out form beuind the sheild.
In his cell, Jonathan found a data pad with the short essay and Andy's book saved in the data file.

Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Legacy of Septimus Jones

Jonathan felt a tingling down his spine and inadvertantly took a step backwards. Looking at the man, he knew he looked familiar. There wasn't a doubt in Jonathan's mind that this Septimus Jones was the Septimus Jones - the one who had established the colonies and the one who had destroyed Earth.
The old man looked at Jonathan, and then at his offered hand and retracted it. "You seem a little upset by something Mr. Brooke."
Jonathan could barely believe the friendly tone of voice he was hearing. "You might say that," he replied.
"Of course, you are from Earth. I suppose I am responsible for some misunderstandings and minor unpleasntries there. But, Mr. Brooke, that was a millenium ago. Can't you forgive an old man?"
"Quite honestly, I don't trust you or feel comforatable." Jonathan told the man.
"Why not take a seat, then? I apologise for the state of The Beast, it seemes that it's rather fallen into disrepare over the last few hundred years; but I assure you, the chairs are as solid as ever. I always told myself I was going to fix this place up, all it would really take, you understand, would be a moment of thought. I would just have to focus my perceptions and tell the Mind what things really should be like. But, honestly, it's gotten to the point now where I can't really remember what anything looked like before. And who am I to destroy this marvelous wonder of archeology. I'm not sure you noticed the emblem on the door when you came in?"
Jonathan was still recovering from the shock of what he saw before him. His mind was mostly blank, but questions were slowly forming. The first was about that very emblem. He sat down carefully in one of the chairs, opposite the rotting table of Septimus. "I did see it."
"Ah, excellent! Then you might have noticed that it said 'USNA' on it; stands for the United States of North America, you understand? This ship is probably their most incredible wonder of technology. They couldn't build it out in the open, so they had to build it underground. On the moon, in point of fact. It's the last remaining fuctional peice of technology from that era, as far as I know. It really does carry a powerful weapon, a great cannon that can destroy human minds. I haven't used it since those days, of course."
"You bastard. How did you get off the moon befor the nuclear missiles obliterated the surface?"
"Now, now, Mr. Brooke, is there really any need to be insulting?" Jonathan still couldn't place what was wrong with the way Septimus was speaking. It was like he had an accent, but it was so vauge. "Remeber that I am an Idealist; in fact, I discovered this particular form of the philosophy."
"But it's wrong!" Jonathan demanded.
"So you would think, Mr. Brooke. So you would think. It's all because you fell in with the wrong crowd. You see, there was not supposed to be any sort of survival on Earth. I was a fool and assumed that the in system colonies woudl destroy themselves and that all life on Earth had perished. Apparently I was wrong - imagine my surprise when we spoke in the hall of Elders on Port Orpheus."
"You weren't there."
Septimus, in the blink of an eye was no longer the same bald old man in front of Jonathan. He had taken on the appearance of Lucas, the elder of Port Orpheus. When he spoke, it was with a different voice and the accent was gone. "Wasn't I?"
Jonathan's jaw dropped at the sight. It was impossible that Septimus could have changed his appearance like that. In an instant he was back to the same wiry old man. Septimus seemed to read Jonathan's mind. "The thing about Idealism," he said "is that the more you practice it, the better you get. I've had a thousand years to hone my skills, and, of course, I was the first to start changing the perceptions of the entire universe. Of course, it really is against the social laws of the colonial society to change your appearance with the Mind, but I feel it's necessary. I mean, most people in the worlds thing I'm dead."
"Maybe you should be," Jonathan said acidly.
"You know, your friend James Grinder said the same thing. Interesting really. If I had died, he would never have been here. Its through him that I knew where you were and were able to capture you. Blind luck, really, that you ended up here in the Ranch system and I didn't have to bring you from another world."
"What do you mean by saying through Grinder you could capture us?" Jonathan asked slowly.
"Oh, it's this strange side-effect of being so close to the Mind so often that I noticed. It seems that as I pour my perceptions into the universe, so the universe pours its perceptions into me. I was surprised at first when I could see thorugh the eyes of my children, but soon learned how useful it was. To my great pleasure, this trend continued through all the generations of my family. Most of them don't know that they are my descendants, of course, and none of them know about this strange ability I have to see through their eyes. Except, of course, James. I told him when we had a bit of a chat. He seemed to take the information very poorly. It's wonderfully really; the abillity I mean. I have hundreds of spies out among the colonies and not a single one of them knows what they are doing for me."
"You are a terrible man." Jonathan told Septimus.
The old man made a clicking noise with his tounge and said "Now Jonathan, did I really deserve that?"
Before Jonathan could reply, Norman dropped off the ceiling and onto Septimus Jones' head. The creature was attacking the old man, using his many thin legs to try and puncture the man's skin. a few scrapes began to appear in the flurry of movement, but Septimus managed to grab hold of the creature and throw it. Norman bounced off the wall, and handed on the ground. A strange clicking noise began to come out of his carpace once again.
Septimus calmy drew a gun out of the recessed of his clothing and pulled the trigger. Norman fell flat to the ground, and the clicking stopped.
"I think," Septimus said, wiping a dot of blood of his forehead "that our interview for today is over."
Jonathan felt speechless, and looked at the body of Norman. The creature had taken on a generic grey colour. Although Jonathan really knew nothing about his physiology, he was sure that the creature was dead. He was ready to attack Septimus himself when the two guards grabbed his arms and dragged him back to cell.
All the information he had learned on that day weighed down on him, and he felt heavy. The talk alone had been enough to justify the lack-luster pace the other three companions had adopted after their interviews, but Jonathan had the added weight of a lost friend.
He colapsed onto the cot when he was thrown into his cell and wept. He felt more hopeless in that moment than he even had in his entire life.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Inside the Beast

The Angle droped heavily to the surface of the docking bay inside the enormous ship. There was a resounding rining clang as the ship landed. It was dark inside the bay, there were no lights. Shadowy figures and shapes could be seen in the darkness. Jonathan could feel the vibrations of the great old ship through his seat. They sat in silence for about ten minutesbefore the vibrations underneath them stopped.
The lights came on and a large landing bay was revealed to them. The mysterious unmarked ships were resting in neat lines along the walls, hanging in a sort of rack. The bay passed ended in what looked like mighty metal doors. They looked as if they had long since degraded and would no longer open. They were far enough away that Jonathan theorised that they might well have been at the other end of the ship. Although some machinery seemed in good repair, there was a considerable amount of old rusted and broken machinery strewn about.
Strange things seemed to have happened to parts of the ship through the ages. Melted piles of metal refused on the surface, evidence of an accidnet of some sort - perhaps a crash of one of the unmarked vessles.
A group led by a very stern looking woman was walking towards the ship. She stopped where the crew could still see her in the port, but some of the men continued forward. Teh hatch was opened from the outside, and a gun was teh first thing through. An armored man followed looking carefully around him. He quickly scanned the four crew members. Jonathan noticed two things. The first was how professional this man looked, the second was that Norman seemed to have dissapeared again.
"Walk real slow" the man said. He stepped inside the ship and cleared the way to the door. "If I die, they blow up this ship." He kept the weapon trained on Grinder. "I want you out first. The rest of you follow, one at a time, real slow. Keep your hands where I can see them. If you try anything I will not hesitate to kill you." He kept the gun in his steady hands and watched as Grinder slowly moved out of the ship.
Marcelle looked levely at the man. She pointed at Andy and said "He can't walk."
The man snapped his arms to point the barrel of the gun directly at Marcelle's forehead. "Did I say you could talk?" He demanded.
Marcelle replied by pointing at Andy's leg. The man glanced down breifly and saw teh amputation. "Alright." He said, then mumbled something into a microphone in his armour. He looked up and said "You help him out the door."
Marcelle and Andy were out the door next. Jonathan was the only one that remained. The gun was trained at his head. Moving slowly towards the hatch, he moved through the ruined Angel. He stepped down onto the ground and was met by a squad of six people, lightly armoured compared to the man inside the ship. None of his shipmates were in sight. The squad quickly looked him over and one ran a sort of machine past him that he did not recognise.
One of the squad turned towards the stern looking woman and said "He's clean."
The woman looked at him for a moment, then said "Take him to a cell. Make sure its not near his companions."
Most of the squad boarded the Angel, put two people took him by teh upper arms and began to march him across the rusty floor of the cargo bay towards a staircase. It was beside an elevator that had lost it's cable and crashed to the deck.
They went up a floor and moved towards the relative front of the ship. Here things were a bit cleaner. By no means did it look fresh, but the metal was putting up a good fight agains the rust. It was a very stark environment. There was something very military about the ship.
Jonathan was led to a room with a solid metal door that looked new. There was a small barred window in the door and that was the only distinguishing feature about it. There was no handle on the outside or the inside, it was just a smooth flat surface that nestled to within a milimetre of the wall around it. It swung outward into the passageway. The interior of the room was funrished with a small bathroom and a cot. The furniture was moulded out of the same ceramic-like materiel as the walls, floor and roof. The room was white and very bright. Jonathan was pushed inside and the door swung closed as if on its own accord.
There seemed to be no escape. Jonthan explored the room fully, but found that there were no seams that he could try and pry apart. The few that there were were thinner even then his fingernails and would not budge apart, no matter how much force he applied.
Admiting that there was nothing he could do for the time being, Jonathan sat down on the cot. He eventually laid back and tried to sleep. He couldn't, it was too bright in the room. He sat back up, and began to pace. He was bored, but questions buzzed in his minds. Where did this ship come from? Why was it buried on an alien moon? Who were the people that had captured them? Why had they done it? Where were his companions? What was happening to them? What was happening to Marcelle? Jonathan worried about Marcelle. He stopped pacing and sat back down. A very deep unsetteling emotion passed over him as he though about Marcelle being kept by these people, whoever they were. He wanted to be with her at that moment.
Time passed, and eventually, Jonathan fell asleep. He woke up and looked around himself. There was no visible change in the room, there was no indication that time had passed. He might have slept for ten minutes or ten hours, he didn't know.
Jonathan could, however a voice in the hall. It was Grinder's. He was talking animatedly to the guards . "Where are you taking me? Where? Where are my friends? What is this place?" The questions just slipped out of his mouth. He showed great concert for his companions.
Grinder passed Jonathan's cell and Jonathan called out to him. "Grinder!"
"Quiet!" one of the gaurds said, and he beat Grinder with a club. "Don't talk to the other prisoners."
Jonathan watched the guards travel down the corridor with Grinder as long as he could. Eventuelly, they passed out of sight.
It was over an hour before he returned. Jonathan heard three people walking down the hallway. He stood up and looked out the window and saw Grinder walking freely down teh hall without the guard's hand son him. When he passed the cell, he looked up and had a horrified look in his eyes. He just shook his head a few times, and then looked down at his feet and kept walking.
The guards passed by again soon with Andy. He was leaning heavily on the two men and hopping down the hall as best he could on his one leg. He gave a brave grin when he saw Jonathan, but didn't say anything as he went. Andy was also gone for some time, but when he returned he was making no effort to walk freely down the hall. He was begin carried by the two guards and his foot was dragging behind him. His head hung down and he didn't even seem to move.
Marcelle soon passed by excorted by the two guards. She stared breifly into Jonathans eyes before being shoved forward and moved along. When she came back from whatever was at the end of the corridor, there were tears on her face. She look upset, but she was still apparently enough of a threat to be manhandled by the guards.
It wasn't a minute before the door of Jonathan's cell swung open. One of the guards motioned for him to step forward and grabbed his upper arm. The other moved in on his other side and grabbed his other arm. They walked him down a series of corridors to a wide double door that perhaps used to slide open on its own accord. Under all the grim, stains and rust, Jonathan could just make out a familiar looking logo, surrounding four very important letters: USNA. handles had been welded on the doors, and the gaurds wrenched them open with a sqeeking sound. They led Jonthan into what once might have been a conference room of sorts. It reminded him vaugely of the hall of Elders on Port Orpheus, only that the wooden table here was rotten and crumbled when touched.
A grisly, skinny, bald old man sat in one of the chairs. He looked up from a pad of paper he was holding in his hand. Hand written notes were take on it, Jonathan could see that, but the language didn't look familiar. The old man looked Jonathan up and down and said with a suprisingly clear voice "Ah, Jonathan Brooke. Welcome to the Beast. It is my home." The man was speaking english, but it didn't sound write. The inflections on the words sounded different than Jonathan was used to.
"You know who I am," Jonathan said as the gaurds released him and walked out of the room. "So I think I have the right to know who you are."
The old man looked at Jonathan critically. "Of course," he said after a moment, standing up. "Where are my manners? I expect you know me rather well, Mr. Brooke." The old man offered Jonathan a hand. "My name is Septimus. Septimus Jones."

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Ignition

The days pasted slowly in the close quarters of The Angel of Redemption. The ship was not designed for comforatable living, it was designed for functionality, and that is what it provided.
It took days for the ship to revert back into space in the Ranch system. Jonathan began to pilot the ship in towards the planet, but it was not long before a few ships slithered out of space and onto their scopes. They were pacing the Angel of Redemption and surrounded it on all sides. Andy immediately recognised them as the same style of ship that had attacked the colony on Norton. None of the ships had any visible markings.
A gruff voice crackled over the speakers. "We are escorting you through the system. Match our course changes directly or be destroyed." The com crackled off before the crew of the Angel had time to respond.
There were too many of the unidentified ships to try and fight their way out, and by the way they bristled with weapons, a run was out of the question.
As a group, the ships peeled away from ranch and towards one of the outter gas gaints. Jonathan matched the course and began to fly to the outer system. It was a long flight, and the crew of the Angel was so apprehensive of what might happen next that they did not speak.
The com stayed dead as they continued to fly outwards. They passed the first of the gas giants and continued outwards. The second in a series of seven in the Ranch system was the largest in any of the colonial systems. It was so huge that the scientists of ranch were still studying it to attempt to understand why it wasn't a star in it's own right. There were as many as fourty large moons orbiting the beast of the planet, most of them lifeless pieces of rock. Others, closer to the planet were volcanically active, and in the case of a smaller moon that orbited almost danerously close to the atmosphere was a ball of molten iron.
The myserious ships began to pilot towards one of the moons. Grinder's face passed into a kind of scowl. "The only thing out here is a research station. I'm not sure what moon it's on up here, but it could never support all these vessels."
Jonathan just continued to follow the ships. they began a decent onto a large moon that looked much like Earth's moon, but with less craters. It was also much larger. Jonathan was surprised when the Angel began to buffet as it passed through the upper levels of a thick atmosphere. This world did not look as if it had one - nothing but dry grey craters and rock. There was no evidence of weather of any kind.
The gruff voice returned on the radio. "You will dock in port seventeen" is all it said.
Following instructions, Jonathan carefully piloted the ship down to a groud level and saw a large opening in the side of a grey cliff face. The ships began passing into it one by one. Jonathan waited for a moment after the third ship went in before the gruff voice returned once again. "Proceed into the bay." Jonathan pushed the nose forward a little. He glanced at Grinder and Marcelle. "If we're going to make a break, now's the time."
Grinder looked at Jonathan. "Do you think you can pilot us out of this one, son?"
"It will certainly be easier than the last system. This planet might have enough gravitational force for us to preform the dive on - we should be able to jump out of here within seconds."
"I've already got a course layed in." Marcelle told them.
The gruff voice once again made itself heard. "Proceed into the bay," it told them forcefully. Jonathan griped the controlls tightly. Andy poised himself over the missile defence system. Marcelle held onto Norman and Grinder lined up the ships in his sights.
"You have ten seconds to move forward or we will open fire," the gruff voice told them.
Jonathan mashed on a foot pedal and the Angel lurched upwards. A strange noise filled the cockpit. It took a moment for anyone to idenify it as noiseing coming from underneath Norman's carpace. The alien creature looked excited. The clicking hum eminating from his body continued as the ship ripped itself away from the moon's gravity.
Streaks of flame soon burst out of the side of the mountian, tracing their way through the atmosphere towards the Angel and the three ships still outside of the bay immediately took action. The crew of the Angel were being forced down into their chairs, they began to see spots due to teh undue acceleration, yet Jonatha continued. He shifted the rotation of the ship so that the nose pointed upwards. The steaks of flame, whatever kind of weapon they were, could not catch the Angel. The missiles could. Andy deftly handeled the defence system, there were a number of explosions in the wake of the Angel of Redemption.
The three mysterious ships were not far behind, and they began firing their chain guns at the Angel. One managed the trace a pattern of fire across the hull, but the armour held and the only effect was a metallic clinking that seemed to interfere with Norman's voice.
Grinder laced one of the ships with small explosions from his explose ammunition. More ships were streaking out of the base below. Grinder realied that any missed shots would continue downwards and possibly hit the shits behind the one he was targeting. He opened up a little because of this fact. Sure enough, one of the foilowwing ships began to spew black smoke and stalled its forward movement, hanging still in the air for the breifest of moments before it slipped backwards towards teh surface of the moon, landing in a spectacular cloud of dust.
As soon as they breached the odd world's atmosphere, Jonathan started the dive towards the large gas giant. The Angel of Redemption's lightspeed drive locked in on the centre of the planet and started to use the source of gravity as a way to accelerate.
Something went wrong however. Infront of the crew's eyes, they saw the Gas Giant suddenly shudder. there was no other word for it. It began to collapse, great chunks of atmosphere began to sink in towards the interior or the planet. Great jets of gas began to climb their way into space and in an instant, the world suddenly exploded. The light was so sudden that the ship could not automatically compensate for it by tinting the port, and it blinded the crew.
The Angel was struck by a wind off a sudden flare of gas, now burning, and shoved forcefully off course. None of the crew could see anything but white and did not know what was happening.
Eventually, distinct shapes began to fade back into their vision. What they saw before them was not anything like what was there when they had been blinded. In the place of the giant planet, there was now a turbulent white star, flaring out with long arms of buring gasses out into space. More than one moon had already been hit by a flare, and the remaing peices were drifiting outwards from the place of impact. Jonathan tried to engage the engines, but there was no response in the controls.
He leaped out of his chair and back into the living space and pulled a panel off the wall. He was met with a sharp tangy metalic smell and saw black mass of burned parts of the engines.
A large ominous ship that looked a lot like the mysterious ships that had been pursuing them drifted through space in their direction.
Marcelle first noticed that it seemed to have rocking growing off of it. The next thing she noticed was that it was ancient. The ship looked older than anything she had ever seen. There was a sudden tug, and their ship began moving in towards the ancient vessel, directly towards an familliar looking hole.
Andy stared in wonderment at the ship in space. "It was burried in that cliff," he said with wide eyes. "It must be hundreds of years old."
Jonathan returned to the cockpit and flopped down in his chair. "We're done - the engines are basically melted. I think something happened when we connected with the gravity well of the planet."
Grinder stared at him. "I'd say something pretty serious happened," he said, gesturing towards the new sun.
"Well, the engines are basically melted together" jonathan told his companions. They drifted in closer to the large ship. "As ominious as it may seem, that big ship might be our only hope for survival."
They hole in the side of the ship slowly grew larger in the port, and eventually the Angel of Redepmtion, dead in space, passed inside the large ship.
"Into the belly of the beast," Grinder mumbled as the light from the new star was blocked off by the wall of teh strange vessel.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Chapter Twenty-Six: Dangerous Flight

Andy presented his book to the local leader of the Realist cell, Grinder's wife Victoria. She took care of the distribution among the local realists. It was not more than a day or two before the reactions to the book started to come in from the Realists around Port Orpheus and surrounding towns and cities. There was even one man who owned a printing company and was willing to risk printing limited run of the book in hard copy during the night.
Overall, the book was a sucess, it was what the movement needed to really challange the Idealists. They could articulate and spread the message easily, and they had a common source with which to be able to describe the ideas.
It took a few days, but eventually a number of copies were delivered to Marcelle, Joanthan, Grinder and Andy. They could not stay where they were after that. The had a new weapon against the idealists, and they had to use it.
They took the box of books and once again returned to the Angel of Redemption. Grinder once again tried to smooth talk their way out of port, but his efforts were not as successful as they were when landing.
"I'm afraid we can't let you take off sir," the voice on the com said. "We've been instructed to impound your ship."
Grinder looked at his three companions. They were not in a good position. If the ship was to be impounded, but there were no security gaurds there yet, it could only mean that they were on their way. Blasting out of the spaceport garunteed pursuit by the local authorities and quite possibly the Spaceing Commission. Waiting, however, would ensure them of capture. The copies of the book would be found and would be traced back to their origin. "It's too dangerous to stay." Grinder said to the ground.
Marcelle nodded. Jonathan took the controlls in his hands. "This could get a bit serious," He warned the group. "I suggest you belt yourselves in."
Jonathan turned on the engines and put the ship throught a fast warm up proceedure. The man on the com came back on with a warning. "Set down immediately or we will be forced to take action against your vessel. I repeate, set down or we will take action."
Grinder looked at Jonathan and said "I'll look after the weapons. You fly this beast away from this rock."
Jonathan set to the controlls and pulled up hard, throwing the ship into the air. The com continued to speak warnings, but they paid no heed to them. The Angel of Redemption and her crew were focused on escaping from Port Orpheus.
They broke atmosphere without any trouble, but there were four Port Orpheus port control patol ships waiting for them in orbit. There was also no doubt that there would be more ships launching from the surface.
Jonathan kicked the Angel into high speed. The ships had actually almost managed to surround him. There were three in a trilangle around him and one in a higher orbit than the angel. Turning around to escape out the bottom of the trianlge would have lost too much time, so Jonathan increased the forward velocity of the ship; durectly towards one of the port authority vessels. There was one obvious way Jonathan saw out of the situation that the port authorities must not have considered. He began a shallow dive back towards the atmosphere. The port authority ship began to dive as well, but on a much steeper angle, attampting to cut off Jonathan's path of descent. It was a judgement call, but Jonathan got lucky. At the right moment, the wide and flat body of the Angel skipped off the upper atmosphere like a stone on a smooth lake. Jonathan used the ships engines to provide extra energy into the jump and managed to pass over the port Authority vessle.
That ship would take time to turn around and break orbit or travel around the planet and break orbit on the other side. There were still three more ships in hot pursuit, however.
As soon as they saw that their trap that had been most likely an attempt to force them down to the Port Orpheu's surface had failed, the three ships increased their speed and began to use weapons. Solid fuel rockets began to streak from the front of the lead ship. Grinder deftly activate the missile defence systems and managed to destroy the rockets as they came in, but he was too busy to return fire. "Andy! Take over the missile defence," he shouted when there was a slight break oncoming barrage of missiles.
Grinder switched his panel over to the weapons. The Angel was equiped as an attack vessel, it wasn't really meant to be running. The designers had not made it weak, however. The aft section of the ship had two rear-facing chain guns. Grinder wasn't certain about what kind of ammunition they carried or how effective it would be against the port authority ships, but he took aim anyway.
The lead port authority ship was slowly catching up on them. Soon the missiles stopped coming and the ship behind them lurched into gear, throwing itself towards the Angel.
Jonathan was trying his best to get a clear course down towards the dueal red suns, but there was an asteroid belt in the way. They would have to break above the plain on which the planets orbited the stars and dive in from a different angle. Relative to the system, he pulled up. The change in trajectory gave teh ships behind a chance to change their course and catch up even more. It was an unfrotunate reality, but it was a necessity.
It wasn't long before the lead port authority ship was in range of Grinder's guns. He opened on on the ship. His initial volley went wide, but he swept the guns to the left and was surprised to see a line of small explosions trace across the port Authority ship. Apparently the ammunition was equiped with exploding tips. The ship behind them continued forward, but did not accelerate anymore and began to rotate of a strange angle. It was dead in space for whatever reason.
As he fired, Grinder watched a number couting down from twenty thousand for each trigger. It had to be an ammunition count. he was limited to how much he could fire. Grinder knew that this would not be their last battle, and thus descided to conserve as many rounds of amunition as he could.
Jonathan knew that to try and take any sort of evasive maneouvers while the other two port authority ships were still out of range would be counter productive to his purpose. They would only slow him down. He pressed forward in what was essentially a straigt line, trying to outrun the ships behind him that were not really much faster than his ship.
Marcelle was busy plotting the destination into the ship's computers. She had programed the computer to tell Jonathan when he could safely dive towards the sun and activate the faster than light travel engines.
Before the other ships could catch up enough, Jonathan nosed the ship into a down angle and hit a few buttons. It provided the ships behind them with an opportunity to once again cut off the angle, but it was not a sufficient advantage. The Angel of Redemption dove towards the two suns of the Port Orpheus system and, soon enough, blinked out of space and time.

Chapter Twenty-Five: The Book

Andy could not stay on Norton in his condition. Living in a tent with a recently amputated leg was just begging for complications. He was to weak to move at the time however. The doctor among the colonists assured them that Andy needed rest to gain strength. In a few days time, they could take him in the ship to a real medicale facility that would be able to take care of him properly.
In the mean time, Jonathan helped the colonists. They were stranded on Norton and were unable to go home. The Angel of Redemption had another mission to preform. Jonathan was convinced that his message pod theory was sound. The colonists managed to cobble together a strange sort of machine that was perhaps a little more effective than Jonathan's. It was their best hope. Jonathan also promised that he would alert Earth of the situation of the Colonists when he could.
Marcelle stayed with Andy in the hills and talked. She told Andy everything about what she had experienced when she went introspective, and all about what she had learned on Earth. About how teh human race was being led astray and into a sort of eteral darkness, and that the only path to redemption was to once again find an embrace the Transcendental Power.
Andy sat and listened and contently wrote down what he heard. He took notes on paper and carefully wrote everything out on an electronic data pad. He re-told the stories as he wrote with an elegance of prose that went far beyond what Jonathan remembered his capable of. If it weren't for the proof of the writing directly infront of him, Jonathan wouldn never have believed that the young man who had told him one of Grinder's former military exploits was indeed the same person writing what was essentially a mixture between history and a prophetic dialouge.
Andy wrote without end. He continually directed the information into a kind of book that he was designing. It layed out the paths of history and how they intertwined and how it was relevant to the culture of the Idelists. But it did more than that, it had an almost timeless quality to it, liek it could still be read and used generations after the fact. He called it Crisis of Idealism: The Transcendental Power and the Destiny of the Human Race.
It was a powerful book when he was finished. The text was all there, but Andy insisted that it still needed editing. He played with the words and changed passages to make meanings more clear.
He was still not happy with the outcome when he was well ebough to be moved to the Angel of Redemption. The six days it took to transport the ship to the Orpheus system were enough for him to satisfactorily complete his text.
Port Orpheus was weary of the arrival of a new type of ship, but Grinder managed to smooth talk the local flight control into letting them land. It was a simple matter of claiming to be a new experimental vessel of the Tapert family.
Port Orpheus had the largest realist population out of all the world. It was not as much of a military operation on this world, because it was a civilian colony world. There were many cities and towns, and they were not patrolled by a military like Vaudevelt. The realists could walk around in the open on Port Orpheus if they claimed to be Idealist in public.
There were three people waiting just off the landing pad by a hovercar when the Angel of Redemption landed in the spaceport. The strange red suns once again met Jonathan's eyes as he stepped out of the hatch and onto the ground. He accepted an end of a makeshift stretcher which Andy was sleeping on, holding his book in his hands. Norman was sleeping on the stetcher as well, curled up by Andy's remaining foot. Grinder carried the other end. They moved over towards the car. A tall woman smiled and nodded as Jonathan pushed the stretcher into the back of the large aircar.
Marcelle walked over and greeted the realists, thanking them for coming to get the party. She got into the car and all of the others followed.
Jonathan suddenly recognised one of the realists. It was the young woman who had been working in the Spacing Commission building at the front desk during his breif stay there. She bore a striking resemblence to the tall woman who had met them. Jonathan could only assume that the girl was her daughter.
"I'm sorry," jonathan said, "I don't think I even caught your name."
"Ellen" the girl said simply, looking at Andy in the stretcher and seeing the missing leg. "You didn't have a safe trip, Andy." She said, leaning back into her seat.
Jonathan was surprised with the ease at which they moved through the city. He assumed that Marcelle and Grinder were wanted criminals, and he guessed that he was as well.
Grinder was talking with the tall woman who was driving the car. "I heard about Magdalina," she was saying.
"It was a damn shame, she was a good woman. I'm just glad I got out of that wreck alive."
"I'm glad that you survived as well. Managed to bring a couple people you, too."
"Well, I do have a reputation to live up to."
The woman grinned. "That's why I love you James. You're always so cheerful."
Jonathan leaned forward and asked "Grinder, how do you know these people?"
Grinder looked back at Jonathan. "My God, where are my manners! Jonathan, I want you to meet my familiy. My daughter Ellen, my son Greg and my beautiful wife, Victoria."
"Please, call me Vic." The tall woman said.
"You're whole family converted to realism with you, Grinder?" Jonathan asked.
"I'm a lucky man. What else can I say? I suppose its because they're all so damn smart."

The car eventually pulled into a small white building outside of the city. Jonathan couldn't say what the purpose of the building was, but he found it to be full of friendly faces. It was certainly a respite from some of teh times endured in his recent past. It was a Realist base, there was no doubt about that, but it was much more comforatable that the depths of the Realist caves on Vaudevelt.
Never before had Jonathan felt so among friends since he had started his journey through the stars.
There were ample medical facilities where Andy could be looked after. His face was a little hollow and his eyes a little harder, but it wasn't long before the onld enthusiastic smile was back on his face. Everytime that Ellen came into the room, he would put his book aside (he still insisted on checking it over to mae sure everything was right). She was the only person he would put it away for.
The entire party took some much needed rest. Jonathan was pleased to be able to spend some time with Marcelle just as people.
They knew that this happy life away from the city could not last forever though. When Andy as well enough to begin moving around on his own, it was time to present to the Realist community the Crisis of Idealism.