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?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Chapter Seventeen: A Last Message From Captain Fortworth

The man in the vehicle escaped, somehow. It was over a day before he returned. His clothing was covered in dust and he was limping, but he was alive. Jonathan didn't have a chance to ask him how he had managed to live through his ordeal; he was too busy in conference with Marcelle and Grinder.
"It's not our usual proceedure to preform two operations in the same week. It's too damn risky." Grinder was against moving too soon.
"Yes, but it won't take them long to figure out what we were doing in the scrapyard," Marcelle argued. "We have to take action now, or we will never be able to. The Tapert family will report the Norton system to the Spacing Commission, and the system will be locked down. Any unschedueled ship will be destroyed as soon as they arrive in system."
"We could take them."
"We don't have a fleet. Dammit it, James, you still think like you're in the Commission sometimes. We don't have the resources. The only way we can move from world to world is to hijack ships from the families and the Commission, and none of them take too well to it."
"If i can interject," Jonathan asked "I have to agree with Marcelle. If you got to Earth, byt now who knows what light speed travel has developed too. I know my flight used the first functional theory, but the scientific possabilites were far beyond the technology we had. If we can get to Earth, with my science and your technology we might be able to give you an upper hand in transportation. Just out of curiosity, why can't we go to Earth directly?"
"It's simple, really," Marcelle explained. "Nobody knows where it is."
"We need the data from your spaceship on Norton to get back to Earth. From that planet, we can use your telemtry to get back to Earth."
A knock came at the door to the office. The young girl from the mission, Sam, came in with a data reader. "Excuse me, miss Oberholtzer, mister Brooke, mister Grinder. I have the data from the module. In reviewing the files the day before the crew went into the Mind, I found a recorded diary that I though might be important. I think, perhaps, that mister Brooke should read it. Um, immediately." Sam seemed very self conscious of herself. Her voice matched her stature. It was almost hard to hear what she was saying.
Jonathan took the proffered data reader from the girl and looked at the text on the screen. He read aloud, "'It's another seeding mission. Micro-satellites going into orbit around another planet, so we can see if one of the families can claim it and rape the world of everything it's worth. Sometimes I wonder why I even do it all. I don't feel like I'm doing the right thing. I'm not protecting anything by spying on empty worlds. Teh only reason why I'm doing this mission is because of Jonathan. He's an unfortunate soul, that's for sure. I can barely look at him anymore, knowing that I have to lie to him.'" Jonathan faltered at this. He recalled the last days with Captain Fortworth, how he had seemed to avoid talking to him. "That explains a bit. 'The Elders seem to think that Jonathan should not be told a number of things. He was not told about Marcelle Oberholtzer and her anti-Idealist philosophy. They hinted at the conflict, but would not tell him. Maybe they thought it would be better if he didn't know; maybe they thought the Realists would try and take him to lead him to Earth. All I know is I've been ordered to keep the poor man busy while they take care of the problem. Somehow, I don't see the Realists going away in a few weeks. They've been around for at least three years already, and instead of shrinking, have only grown in numbers, as far as we know. It isn't fair that I have to keep this information from Jonathan. Worse still, they did not tell him that his villian, the destroyer of Earth is actually the lost hero of our society, the martyr who sacraficed his life to cut the people off from Earth so the Destruction could not take the colonies as well. Why didn't they tell him that Septimus and Warren Jones were brothers? It doesn't make sense. The more I think about the whole disscussion, the less sense it makes. I think the best thing to do would be betray the Commission. I have to seek out the Realists, I have to find their leader on Vaudeveldt and tell her what is going on with Jonathan Brooke.'"
"Your captain was looking for me?" Marcelle asked.
"Apparently," Jonathan replied. "He said nothing of this to me at all. He could nto tlak to me. It's as if he was debating wether he should or not."
"He knew that sometimes they monitor the audio on ships," Grinder said. "Keeps mutiny and treason down. If he figuired all that, then i have no doubt the Elders were listening in on everything that was said on that ship. Maybe they even got that text - maybe that whey were were shot down."
"Why would they elders want me taken care of? Why couldn't I go back to Earth? And why didn't they want me to find you?"
"I think," Marcelle provided, "That the reason why they didn't want us to know about each other was because they knew I would try my damndest to get you back to Earth. And I would go with you. Why they wouldn't want us back on Earth, I don't know."
"The grand picture is best seen from a distance," Grinder muttered. "But all we've got is a microscope."
"I think the best way to deal with this issue would be to go to Earth and find out first hand what is happening."
Grinder considered Marcelle's statment for a moment before nodding curtly. "I conceed. We're going to have to move soon."
"Before we plan anything," Jonathan said, "I'd like to know something."
"What is it?"
"Captain Fortowrth said you were the genesis of the Idealist movement. Is that true, Marcelle?"
She looked at Jonathan for a minute. "I guess there's no harm in admitting that I was an Idealist," she said. "We all were, once. Except for you, of course. I was a thinker. In fact, I went introspective. You do know what that is, right?" Jonathan nodded. "Well, you probably know that all introspectives have proved so far is that the mind is a lonely place. The Elders always highly discouraged it because they were afraid that some sort of discovery would be made, one that would damage their Idealist culture. You see, when Warren Jones first understoof The Mind, it was becaus ehe had been introspective. Unfortunetly, Warran Jones was wrong. As much as the Idealist society seems to work, there is one major flaw. It entierly cuts our the true Transcendental Power - The Mind is essentially Idol Worship. I managed to access some racial memory when I was introspective - or, at least, thats what it seemed like. I'm not sure it's possible to have your ancestors memories, but a religious text known, among other names and versions, as the bible became very prominant in my memory. It showed me how using The Mind was Idol Worship and took away from the true Transcedental Power, Elohim. This name swirled before me, and I realised - it was the God of old Earth." Marcelle's voice lowered as if she was saying something she had never admited before. "My introspective revelation may have been a message from God."
Jonathan could hardely believe what he was hearing. The last person who had claimed to be a prophet of the Lord had been destroyed by an arsenel of nuclear weapons.
Marcelle continued onward. "It was revealed to me that the Idealist philosophy was wrong on a fundamental level. I tried to explain it to people - particularily the Elders, but was odered to death immediately. Ordered to death! They don't execute people, and even if they did, i didn't have a trial! What choice did I have but to go into hiding? I had to spread my message - the human race is destroying itself out here. I thought earth was gone, we all did. I thought that these colonies were all that was left of the human race, and I know, I know dammit, that this culture cannot hold itslef together any longer. It's too corrupt, and it's going to self destruct any time now. I have the message that could save the people, but too few will listen to me! Too few..." Marcelle's frustration led to tears. "Excuse me." She said as she wiped her eyes.
Jonathan sat, stunned. He felt a great respect for Marcelle in that moment. She was leading a small group with the grand plan of saving the very people they were fighting. It must have been so painful to watch the corrupted idealits destroy each other. It must have been terrible to have to fight the idealists, just so the realist message, the one that would save the idealits, could be heard. In that moment, all Jonathan wanted to do was comfort Marcelle. the only problem was, he didn't know how.

Chapter Sixteen: To Beat a Hasty Retreat

Looking upon the ruins of the spaceship, Jonathan did not even recognize it. It was a chared husk that was torn and dented. Looking at it, he did not understand how anybody had lived, let alone fully half of the people onboard. The ship had been torn asunder, there were two large pieces and various scattered remains. It seemed impossible that there could be any hope of salvaging anything.
"Got it!" a voice shouted from inside. "Pull me out!" It was the young girl Jonathan had seen earlier. She had a small frame and had managed to snake her way into a tight spot and find one of the data moduals. She was covered in carbon, her face and hands streaked with black soot, but she was smiling. She tossed the Modual to Marcelle when she saw her standing nearby. Marcelle attached a small device to the modual and studied some figures.
"Good work, Sam. The modual is good." Marcelle pressed tha transmit button on her Radio and said "Everyone not currently at the ship, rendezvous at the gate. Mission is accomplished."
Grinder's voice crackled back as they heard gunshots in the distance. "We could use all the help we can get up here as soon as possible. We have company."
All the troops at the ship immediately began running for the front entrance of the compoud. They had the advantage of superior numbers when taking the compound, but had lost a number of people.
The forces outside were large, but there was skill in the realist squad - there was also a lot of determination. The Idealists outside had no clue why the realist were realy raiding the junkyard. The realist were staring down a fast action light armoured squad of the Tapert familiy military. There were, in the beginning, twenty-two footsoldiers and three officers in the outfit. They were pined down by the Realists. At least one sniper was still out in the feild, because it looked as if two of the officers were dead. The squad was in shambles. They had probably never seen a real battle before. they were trying to lay down covering fire towards the plains, but they couldn't figure out where the sniper was.
As Jonathan mounted the wall, he saw what was happenening. The last officer was shot by one of the realist and fell to the ground.
Grinder found the base loudspeaker system and turned it on. He was up in the tower. "Gentlemen, I suggest you lay your weapons aside."
One of the soldiers from outside raised his hands in the air and lay his weapon on the roof of they vehicle, a sleek looking on eight wheels. He walked forward with his hands in the air. "I uh, I guess I'm in command of the outfit." He yelled towards the base.
"Excellent," Grinder said over the com. It was easy to see that the booming, seemingly sourceless voice was bothering the young man trying to negotiate.
"Uh, I, I beleive you've won the battle for now. I, uh, I want to, uh, ask you to spare us."
One of the other soldiers jumped up and shouted, "McTagert! We're going to get thrown out of the military!"
"Would you Rather be dead, Hampton?" The soldier negotiating shouted back. "We surrender!"
"Very good!" Grinder said over the com. "I'll ask you to place your weapons in the vehicle and for all of you to walk into the base with your hands placed firmly on the back of your heads."
The Idealist squad complied, but they acted slowly. Marcelle kept on glancing towards the horizon, as if worried about something.
"What's wrong?" Jonathan asked.
"More are going to come. We have to get out of here." She clicked on her radio. "Everyone in the troop transport, now. Move!"
All of the realist jumped at the command and moved into action. Jonathan noted that two men were carrying Buck's body. There weren't as many people going back as there should have been. People had died during the skirmish. It was just sinking in to Jonathan that these people were risking their lives for an end that was to them very nobel. All he wanted to do was go back home to Earth. It struck Jonathan as selfish to demand that he merely come along for the ride. In meeting their ends, these people would be able to help him more than anybody ever had.
He jumped in the back of the vihicle. the door remained open as it started to move out towards the plains. the Snipers in the feild were running towards it with some urgency, and people were jumping out to recover the wounded and dead from the feild.
Jonathan heard a rattle above his head. The vehicle was equiped with a large calliper machine gun turret. One of the realists was i the turret, firing at something.
"Gun it!" somebody yelled as the last person was aboard, and the vehicle immediate lurched into high gear, accelerating enough to throw the people inside back. There were no other on board weapons like the turret, but Jonathan watched as a few soldiers grabbed what looked to him like a rocket launcher and moved to the back of the vehicle. He didn't understand what was happening, and there were no windows to see out of, only slits in the armour to fire out of. A low thrumming noise accompained by a high pitched whine made Jonathan think that maybe a shuttle was following them, but he knew better than to assume as much. It was unlikely that a merey shuttle would be after them on a military world.
A wide hatch was opened at the back of the vehicle, and the two men with the Rocket launcher lined up a shot on an aircraft outside.
It was hovering along at an alarming rate. It bristled with weapons. Jonathan could see that it was far enough away that a clean shot was impossible, and the driver of their vehicle was trying to be as erratic as possible. It didn't help the gunner, but it did keep the ship outside off their back enough to keep from being utterly destroyed.
The two men with the rocket launcher had managed to afix it to the vehicle. It was now supported by the sil of the open hatch. Wind was rushing through the interior of the veihicle and Jonathan could hear nothing but the thrum of the engine and the ship behind them.
A few shots from the turret laced one of the wings of the ship, but it did not slow down. A thin veil of smoke streaked out from the front of the ship and, for a moment, all sense were overtaken by a blast of heat and white light. Jonathan noticed that he could not hear anything except for a ringing. It was a few moments before he could see a again. A large earthy crater where the ship's missile had impacted was quickly falling away from the vehicle. It had beena very near miss.
The two men at the back seemed to be arguing over something, but they could not hear each-other. Eventually one shoved the other out of the way and took aim. The shot was true, and the missle slammed into the front of the ship. The ship was engulfed in a huge ball of flame for only a second, and then immideatly dropped to the soil. It did not explode, but it did shower the surrounding area in peices as it rolled to a stop.
Jonathan could see specks on the horizen. More ships were coming. It might only be a few minutes until they arrived.
The truck stopped almost as suddenly as it had started moving. The scrapyard was long behind them. they had arrived back at the Realist base. "Everybody out, double time. Grab what you can, get the bodies first!" Marcelle shouted as she took hold of one of the injured soldiers.
One man stayed in the pilot's chair. He ahd a solmn look on his face. he was about to embark on a mission that would probably claim his life, but would save the realists. He had to drive the truck away from the base before teh Idealists arrived with re-enforcements. If the base was discovered, it would be the end of the rebellion on Vaudeveldt.
The soldiers all ran inside as the vehcile sped away. Jonathan heard somebody mutter "Godspeed" as it directed teh enemy away from the secret location of the base.

Chapter Fifteen: The Ideological Rift

The part of the caverns where the realist were standing was no doubt natural. It was a wide open space. There were crates of supplies and machinery piled about, much of it in ruins. mechanics scavanged parts from teh old machines even as Grinder paced up and down infront a ragged line of what might, under the right circumstances, be called troops.
Jonathan was in the group. Marcelle had originally protested his inclusion in the force; he was the only Earthling that could guide them. Jonathan had retorted with the fact that Marcelle was the leader of the Realist colony, and they couldn't afford to lose her either.
Grinder looked up and down the double line of men and women, about twenty-five altogether and took a deep breath. "This could get ugly. But - if we get those records, we might be able to get to win the war with no more fighting - no more killing." The crowd was silent. "We're not going to have any cover, we are our own backup. Stay in your teams, and be careful, damnit! Get in, find the ship and try and get a data modual. Once you have it, radio in, we'll converge and try and make it back here. Everybody in the base will be armed, and our best machines of war" Grinder gestured to one of the contraptions the mechanics were working "will be ready to cover us.
"We cannot take the Idealists on this world. They outgun and outnumber us immensily. But, we don't need to take them. We just need to steal this data from them. You know your jobs." Grinder hoisted a rifle in his hands and started towards what looked like a boulder. He was wearing light combat armour tinted in the earthy brown tones that matched Vaudeveldt's terrain. The rest of the troops, dressed in a mix of different types of armour and carrying a hodge podge of weapons fell in line solemnly behind him.
Jonatan had what felt like a leather tunic and a combat helmet for protection. He was holding an angry looking pistol in his hand and had been issued a knife. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with either, he had never fought before. War was entirely in the history of Earth. After the horrors of the Dstruction, even the minor skirmishes did not have many casualties and were generally solved very quickly.
The boulder rolled aside as if on it'sown - Jonathan had been told that it was actually a hidden door - and they broke into the daylight. It had been months since Jonathan had seen a sun. The one in the sky looked deceptively like Earth's. The light here, Jonathan noted, was not wrong.
Almost immediately, the troops began jogging off towards the horizen. Jonathan moved up to travel with Grinder and Marcelle, at the front of the coloum.
The ran in silence for hours. Where they were going, any kind of vehicle would be noticed far too fast.
Jonathan soon began to realise a flaw in their plan. If they were pursued by a vehicle, they would quickly be overcome. Either Grinder and Marcelle knew something he didn't, or they hadn't thought of it.
A city developed on the horizen, it grew as the time passed. Soon Grinder came to a halt and lifted his rifle to his shoulder, looked through the scope, and pulled the trigger.
Jonathan could not see the effect of the shot, but as soon as it was over, they began running again.
One of the people in the coloum suddenly twisted around and hit the ground. The entier troup dropped to the ground. A woman crawled to the fallen man. she pulled out a medikit and began working on the man.
"He's not good good, sir." She said.
"They're going to send a runner! They know we're here!" one of the men said.
"Relax, Johnson." Grinder said. "Hegel, Reinders, take up sniper positions, stay low, and cover the ground between the city and the yard." Indeed, the troops had been advancing on what looked a like a camp set away from the city. It was the scrap yard.
"What about communications?" Jonathan asked.
"That's what my first shot took care of" Grinder said. Jonathan nodded.
"they know we're coming, lads," Grinder said, "but we have the advantage still, because the city doesn't know we're here. Move carefully." Grinder went into a crounch, then sprung forward in a sprint. This time, Jonathan heard the shots coming from the yard ahead of them and a few of the people behind him. he ran with grinder, forward.
It was not an easy task, Jonathan had never been under fire before.
the scrapward was surrounded by a corrugated steel wall. It was topped with barbed wire. There was one tower by the wide chain-link gate. In the tower, there was the marksman who had shot one of the realists. There were a few other men on a walkwat around the top of the wall. they were not particularily accurate, but they were lyaing down enough fire to make things difficult. Marcelle dropped to the ground, and carefully aimed her rifle. Jonathan saw the shot blast through the thin metal wall and saw the man drop off the platform.
The Idealits moved forwards. It wasn't too long before seventeen of them had their backs pressed up against the metal wall on either side of the gate. There were a number of bodies out on the plains. At the time, Jonathan had no way of knowing whether his compatriots were wounded or dead.
One man wearing particularily heavy armour was cluthing a hand to a large dent and seemed to be winded.
"Are you okay, Gentry?" Grinder asked.
"Just... winded." The man replied.
"Alright, stay here, cover the bodies in the feild. Make sure the Idealist don't try and pick them up."
"Yes sir."
A girl stepped forward - yes, Jonathan though, a girl. She coulnd't have even been eigteen years old. She had a set of fence clippers in her hand. She went to work on the gate, creating a hole in on the edge of the chain link.
Marcelle was first in line through the hole. She dove and rolled behind an old oil drum. Covered by their leader, the men and women slowly made their way in and took defensive positions inside the gate. A few people stayed outside with Gentry to cover the feild.
Grinder gave teh silent command to move out in teams. Jonathan paired up with Marcelle and a man he had been introduced to as 'Buck'. Jonathan liked Buck, he had had a chance to talk to him before they shipped out. There was some sort of deep sadnedd in the man's eyes, though.
they began working through the large compound slowly, trying to locate the ruins of the ship. There was no doubt that they would be about somewhere.
Jonathan was astounded by the sheer number of ruined hulks in the yard. There were a number of space craft, miltary vehicles and various machines of any sort. They all sat, broken, burnt and rusted, in some cases sinking into the ground.
"They gaurd this pile of junk because they're afraid we're going to steal useable materials form them." Marcelle explained before Jonthan asked. "It used to be a big pile of garbage out on the plains, before we discovered the truth about the universe. Then they put up the big fence to gaurd their trash."
They moved slowly and quietly, checking behind parts and around corners carefully, just to make sure Idealist weren't waiting to ambush them.
A quick message over the headset radio said "Tower secure. Taking up covering position."
The yard was quiet. The only sounds were those of the boots crunching on the dry soil beneth the feet of the realists.
Not too long after the last message, another one was sent. "Third team - we've located the wreck. Request rendezvous near the north-eastern corner of the complex. Commencing search for data modual."
"That's our que." Marcelle said. She bagan moving towards the ship with Jonathan and Buck in tow.
They came across a small building on the interior of teh complex. Marcelle raised a finger to her mouth to indicate quiet. She backed herself up agaisn teh wall beside the door and listened hard. It sounded quiet inside, but she knew better than to trust that. She motioned with her hand towards Buck, telling him to go in the building.
He walked in the door and dissapeared inside the building. After a few moments, Jonathan heard a quiet sob from inside the building.
"They told me you were dead," a small voice said. Jonathan risked a peek inside the door. Marcelle was still standing with her back against the wall on the other side. The quick glance revealed a lot of important information to Jonathan. there was an idealist inside the building. She was behind buck, holding a pistol to his head. It was on an upward angle, because the woman was shorter than he was. Buck had his hands raised in the air. the woman was crying.
"I'm not dead, sweetie." He whispered.
"Where have you been? Why did they take you?" The woman cried. "They told me you were dead!" she spat out the word dead as if it gave her a vile taste in her mouth.
"Sweetie, things are changing around here. I've seen another way to live."
"You're a realist?" Jonathan heard the voice say.
"You're not my husband." Jonathan heard the ring of a gun shot, and heard a body slump to the floor.
Marcelle immediately peek inside. "Shit," she murmered. "Do you have a clear line of fire?" she wispered at Jonathan.
He nodded.
"Take her out."
Jonathan raised his pistol. He'd never even imagined killing somebody before. With a shaking hand, he raised it around the corner. The woman kneeling over the body of Buck, looking at him, weeping. Her hands were in her face, and tears were falling on the body of her fallen husband.
Jonathan looked are Marcelle, his eyes pleading. He didn't want to kill her.
Marcelle stepped into the room and clubbed the woman in the head with the butt of her gun. The woman slumped to the ground, but she was still breathing. Marcelle looked at Jonathan's shocked face. "She murdered her own husband over an idea, Jonathan. It's better than she deserved." She said bitterly. "Buck was a good man."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Chapter Fourteen: The Real Underground

Jonathan was in a makeshift hospital set up by the Realists. Despite the best medical help that the Realists could offer, it was Months before Jonathan was back on his feet. It was explained to him, when he asked about rehabillitation, that it would not be necessary. The medical science of the colonies was working off of the science of Pre-Destruction Earth. Although the Idealists seemingly felt no pain, as Andy seemed to prove with his abilty to walk away from the Crash with broken limbs, they still needed to mend their worldly vessels.
It was a slow recover, still. Jonathan could not believe that he was still alive. He was thankful, in fact, that he had the opportunity to go on living. Perhaps he would be able to go back to Earth, after all.
He learned that, of all the people on the ship, only he, Andy and Grinder had survived. It was disconcerting to know that Captain Fortworth was dead - he had been the man who introduced Jonathan to the strange culture. Jonathan was bothered by his death, but did not greive him as a friend would have. He simply did not have the time to develope a real friendship with the man.
During the time he spend in the Realist hospital, Jonathan developed a close friendship with Andy, who explained to him as best he could any further questions that Jonathan had about the Idealist culture. Andy also began to relate what he was learning about the Realists. Andy could not come to see their veiws himself, but he admitted that he had not been told the true philosophy of the realists - not at that time, at any rate.
Jonathan was given a clean bill of health after his long stay in the hospital, and almost immediately was taken by an armed escort through what were undoubtedly manmade caverns in the rock. They were underground.
He was led with Andy to a small chamber that looked like an office of sorts.
Behind the desk there was a woman. Jonathan immediately felt like she looked familiar, but could not place the face. Sitting in another chair was Grinder, a beard covering his face and a casted leg up on the woman's desk.
"Welcome, gentlemen," She said and motione dtowards the remaining two chairs.
Andy's jaw suddenly dropped. "Captain Grinder!" He nearly exclaimed.
"Easy lad," the man said kindly. "I don't go by that title anymore. Jonathan warned me when we first met."
"When did you meet Jon?" Andy asked. "Before he was assinged to our ship?" Jonathan quickly gathered that Andy had been kepy very much in the dark about what had been going on. Jonathan realised that, at least, for once, he was not alone.
"Please, Andrew" the woman interjected. "I think perhaps you should allow me to do that talking for a while. Perhaps a lot more will become clear when I am done speaking."
Andy nodded.
"My name is Marcelle Oberholtzer. I'm the head of this organisation. You undoubtley have already us called the Realists. We have been given a bad name by the Idealists overhead," Marcelle pointed upwards "but we really are not as terrible as we're made out to be. But, the Idealists are afraid of us."
"Scared Shitless." Grinder asserted.
Marcelle let the comment pass and continued. "There is a considerable amount of effort put forth above to deny our existence, and to make sure that we do not get our message out. However, more and more people are willing to admit our existence. We have outpost on all the colony worlds and most of the minor worlds, as well. Our main base, as you can see, is here on Vaudeveldt, a military outpost world. Not very good for anything, most of the landmass is either dessert, mountin or dry savanah, not much life out there." Again, Marcelle gestured upwards. "I don't really know what to tell you here. I feel if we had an open dialogue about what you already know, we could better inform each other."
"First and foremost" Andy said immediately "How did I get here? Last I remember we were going on a seeding mission and I was in the Mind with Helen and Captain Fortworth, changing the perceptions."
"Andrew, you do know they're dead, right?" Marcelle asked kindly.
Andrew glanced down, and frowned. He nodded with out saying anything else.
"What happened, Andrew, was an unfortunete error," Grinder said. "A colouge of mine and I highjacked your ship. My friend, she used regression hypnosis to coerce you into programming a different destination. Something went wrong. We were trying to get from Port Orpheus to Ranch. Vaudeveldt was pretty far out of our way. After the transfer occured, we found ourselves in the wrong place. The Tapert familiy doesn't like unexpected visits from the Spacing Commission. they fired a minute after our arrival in system, and a missile destroyed the bridge of your vessel. We did our best to save you and your crew, but the crash was a brutal one. I was nearly killed myself." He waved towards his leg. "I grew a beard to cover the scaring on my face."
"After the crash," Marcelle jumped in "we knew the Tapert's local police forces would be all over the place. we scrambled a squad as soon as we discovered that was an unknown ship in system. We got to the site first, recovered the living only. We were quite suprised to find Grinder there, and pleased to find him among the living. There were three people that were dead, I know one was Magdelina, one of the Realists. The other two must have been your crew, Andrew, and I am sorry for your loss."
Macelle looked the two men over. "Please, Andrew, tell me what you know of the Realists, and Jonathan, you tell me what you know of the Idealists."
Andy could not provide any new information. Basically all he knew about the Realists before encoutering them first hand was that they existed. He was only an Initiate and would not be privy to government secrets.
Jonathan was asked to repeate the story about the Destruction and how Earth survived, and repeated what the Elders had told him during his previous interview.
Somebody borught in tall glasses of water and a tray of sandwhiches part was through the interview. For this, the entire group was thanful.
When Jonathan was done, Grinder had a ghostly look on his face. "Do you know who Septimus Jones was?" He asked Jonathan.
'You mean other than a militant Fundametalist?"
"Not in particular, no. History was never one of my best subjects in school."
"Jonathan, this is a very important fact. Septimus Jones was Warren Jones' younger brother - the disciple he left on Earth to contact that Idealists and bring Earth into the system of colonies." Marcelle explained.
"It explains a lot" Grinder said. "Like why they never went back to Earth. They had to know, somebody had to have gone back at some time and found out what happened."
"It punches a hole in the philosophy." Marcelle said. "This might be the information we need to break into the Idealist public eye. There had to be a reason why Septimus gave up on the Idealist philosophy and resorted to the ways he did."
"But why?" Andy asked. "Look, I'm beginning to doubt things I've been told, just by Jon's stories."
"Andrew," Marcelle looked at the young man kindly. "This is your choice. I can have the realist philosophy explained to you. You need to understand, however, that you will be labeled an outlaw and will not be able to preform Idealist tricks anymore."
"Am I going to be lied to anymore?" he aksed frankly. "I hate being lied to."
"We wouldn't dream of it. We cannot prove that we are not lying, Andy, but you have to trust us." Grinder encuraged teh young man.
Andy saw that even his favourtie childhood hero had given up the ways of Idealism. "I can accept that," he said. Soon, he was led off.
"Jonathan," Marcelle said, looking at him with an intent expression. "We have to get to Earth. We need to understand your history better."
"I wish I could take you there," Jonathan said. "But I can't."
"You're right, son" Grinder said. "But that ship we crash landed can tell us how to get to your colony. And from there, we can use your ship to get back to Earth."
"He's right," Marcelle replied. "We're going to need to make a plan. First, to get computer core data from that wreck, and then to highjack a ship that will take us to where we need to go."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Chapter Thirteen: Survivors

Jonathan didn't even feel it when the perceptions of the universe changed - or maybe they didn't, if Grinder was right. the fact was, at one moment the ship was in the outter reached of the Port Orpheus system, and then it was suddenly in the Ranch system.
Jonathan realised that he didn't really understand where he was supposed to be going, but this wasn't it. The basic principal seemed to say that the ship was supposed to go to the ranch system and drop into orbit around the moon.
The problem was, there must have been some sort of error. Almost out of nowhere, alarms began ringing in the ship. Looking out the window, there was no doubt that what they were looking at wasn't the moon of Ranch.
Griner could see that this was a dangerous position. The moon of ranch should not have a ring of armed platforms. It should not be so big, and furthermore, it should not have had an atmosphere.
"Magdalina!" Grinder shouted. "Where are we?"
As if on que, the three orignal crew members were awakened by a screaming alarm that bit through the ship. Helen leaned over her chair and vomited, Andy colapsed into a fetal position, and Captain Fortworth screamed as if in terror before slipping back into unconscienceousness.
The woman up front yelled "Vaudeveldt! Weapons locks all over the system. Sir, the Taperts are demanding to know why we dropping in so close to a planet in a restricted system. What should I do?"
"Good Lord! Vaudeveldt! How did we get here?"
"I don't know sir! The Idealist must have done it, somehow! What to do about the demands being made?"
The bleating alarm suddenly increased in urgency. There were flahses from teh nearest platform in orbit around the planet.
"Weapons fire." Grinder mutterered. He immediately set the controls in montion. It was tough to bring the ship up to operating speed after it had sat dormant for so long, waiting to be preceived elsewhere. It was sluggish, but somehow grinder managed to twist it around and about, dodging the first set of missles. the next volly, however, was launched from more than one direction, and Grinder was working off of limited radar scope. A rocket bashed into the lower section of the ship. A new alaram started to bleat in the cockpit of the ship.
"That's the decompression alarm!" Grinder yelled, and he grabbed Andy. "Head for the door!" he shouted over the din. Jonathan smashed the control pad that would shunt the controls of the ship to the aft sections. Then he grabbed Captain Fortworth's collar and started pulling him towards the door. Magdelina had grabbed onto helen.
There was a kind of whooshing noise that drowned out all the alarms, and Jonathan felt a large tug backwards. There was a sucking noise and a clap as the pressure doors sealed all over the ship, simultaniusly. He was in a small compartment alone with the Captain of the dying vessle. There were no controls in what was essentially a hallway, only buttons to open or close the pressure doors. There was nothing he could do but sit with the still unconsious captain and see what might happen.
He didn't expect there to be a soft landing. When the ship crashed through the atmosphere, Jonathan believed he was going to die. the first time it skipped off the soil, he was thrown into a wall and lost consiousness.

Inspecter Graft looked at the wreckage. It was still smoking in the bright daylight. a black plume scorged across the sky. The plains around him were covered in short grassy plants, indigenous to Vaudeveldt. It was an outpost world of the Tapert familiy - a military base. He was the head of the planetary police body. he had had a lot of trouble with the Realists recently. It was tricky business, trying to keep it from the public, and he couldn't help but feel that this random craft, a Spacing Commision ship, was somehow tied into the whole affair. The Spacing Commision knew better than come to this world.
He scanned the horizen, looking. They had been here before his team. The Realists. He didn't know why, but his team had looked over the ship for the past day, looking for a clue as to why. They had been inside the vessle, that much was apparent. But why? There seemed to be no explination as to why.
"Sir," a graceful young woman said from near his side. "We've got confitmation from the other team." Graft scanned across the horizon to the other plum of smoke - where the rest of the ship had landed.
"One body," the woman said. "That's a total of three. Standard crew for a vessle of this sort."
"Why were they here?" Graft asked rhetorically. "What were they up to?"

Jonathan was surprised by the light when he opened is eyes. It was bright, and white. It look like the light from Earth. he wished there was some way he could believe thats what it was. He knew better than to hope, though.
He was in a bed, he knew that much. There was pain, a lot of it. Maybe 'eyes' wasn't the right term, he realised. Only one was open, the other was occluded by something. His limbs were encapsuled in plaster. He didn't even try to move.
Andy walked into view. He was covered in a network of burns. There was no way he could have come out of a crash like the one they were in without sustaining serious injury - there was no crash webbing, only walls to stop your fall from space. It was a miracle that they were alive at all.
Jonathan tried to speak. His throat was raw, but he bit back the pain and asked "How?"
Andy looked at him and seemed to understand. He smiled. "Remember Jon - The pain? It doesn't really exist."
As if signaling his growing hatred of this concept, Jonathan slipped back into the darkness.

Chapter Twelve: --continued--

"What do you mean 'of course'?" Jonathan promptly demanded. "This whole culture fails to make sense to me."
Grinder's face stretched into a thin grin. "We're the revolutionaries. I expect that you'll hear all about us sooner or later."
"All I've done since coming to this place is hear about different things." Jonathan said. "It's quite a lot of information to absorb."
"Of that, I'm quite sure. Come up to the bow of the ship. I want to show you a little something." Grinder stepped out of the room. His boot clanged on the decking as he made his way forward. He could move with absolute stealth, or he could be noisy as one woudl expect a man of his size to be.
In the front of the ship, the woman was still muttering to the three meditative crewmembers. They all looked as if they were sleeping.
"The new place we want to go, Helen, is the moon of Ranch. Helen, we're going to the moon of Ranch. Andy, the new place we want to go Andy, is the moon of Ranch. Ignus, the moon of Ranch is where we are going." It was almost like a chant. It was hypnotic to listen to when one was awake. Jonthan could only imagine what it was like to be one of the Idealists.
"We're reprogramming them." Grinder whispered softly. "They're going to take us where we need to go, and maybe, just maybe one or two of 'em will hear our reasoning and join our cause. Hell, it'd be an unlikley blessing, but many all three will understand out position and our movement will finally get a ship of our own. not sure how we'd pilot it, thought."
"Listen, Grinder," Jonathan began. "What is your movement?"
"We're the realists, son." The man said.
"And what does that mean?" Jonathan was beginning to find it difficult to follow anything of what was being said, and he was alos beginning to fell like every question he asked was elementry to the people asked it.
"It means we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, Jonathan, we know that the idealists are wrong."
Jonathan's head wrapped around this idea. "They're wrong?" It didn't take him long to sort out the major issue with that statement. "Then how in the hell do these spaceships work?"
"I'm going to leave that delicate question for later."
"Why can't I ever get a straight answer..." Jonathan mutter, and he sat down. There was nothing else he could do.