Space Seed

Space Seed is an experiment in improv writing. I have kind of fallen away from regular posting again. Hopefully this will give me a chance to get back on track. I asked several questions on the HARP IRC Channel using the answers I will attempt to write a short story.

Here it goes...

MacKenzie "Mac-Koi" Koi wasn't a rocket jockey. He was an artist. He merged with his ship, he felt the ship in ways that the regular pilots thought was just a myth. He left the cargo ship's bridge at a dead run. It felt as though he started holding his breath when he saw the warning lights on the bridge console and didn't stop until he was skimming the surface of Mercury using the planet as a acceleration sling shot.

He looked over his shoulder at the two pilots that were flying with him. He did not know them and he did not like them but they all worked for the same man, Milo. The pilots were not human, or at least not of a pure strain. They were water mutants, or squids. Mac hated squids, built from human stock to live in salt water communes and produce food for the surface dwellers. After a few generations they had developed a grey green skin hue, and a dark green patch under their gills.

Bred to be slaves, the surface dwellers were shocked when the squid revolt hit. The water mutants had surprised the surface by not only cutting off a valuable food supply but also striking with massive military force into the mega cities of the surface. Mac-Koi had been just a child when the attacks had started, and had served two tours during the second water war. When the water war was all over there were only three governing bodies left. First was the last national government, if you could call it that. The government of India was the last vestige of the old governments. The water mutants were another world power. They called them selves the Seabren. Mac just called them squids. They had become the biggest military force in the world, and except for one force they would have conquered the planet.

The force that stopped them was the consortium. The consortium was made up of the biggest companies in the world. They saw that the water mutants would simply over power the surface forces, so they stepped in. They purchased the militaries of the United States, Russia, Britian, and China. Other governments just assigned their military forces to the command of this growing corporate group. Only India and Japan remained separate from the consortium. The water mutants completely and utterly destroyed the island of Japan. That was what allowed the consortium to make their move. They moved a massive military force into place and moved towards the main home cities of the water mutants. This forced the water mutants to retreat from Japan and defend or risk having their own cities destroyed.

It was a solid counter attack plan, but the consortium was smarter than that. The military forces were just a feint. They had thousands of scientists working on the perfect weapon. When the water mutants had moved to defend their homes they unleashed a gene virus. It made the water mutants change. They could still breathe water but they could no longer survive for long outside of it. The surface forces retreated in front of the advancing water mutant forces. It was a massacre. Thousands of the water mutants died without the surface forces having to fire a single shot. However, the virus was not perfect, or maybe the scientists did not think the consortium was the best choice to rule the planet. In either case a balance was struck. The water mutants were a power but they now knew that the consortium could destroy them on the surface. The consortium knew they needed the water mutants to produce the massive amounts of food the surface dwellers required to survive. So in the twenty years since the end of the second water war the consortium, the sovereign government of India, and the Seabren formed an alliance to manage and govern the planet.

The bubbling and popping noises that passed for squid language brought Mac-Koi back to the present. "Okay you water bastards, none of that bubble crap, we have a job to do." Mac-Koi was selected to be part of the first unit to release the virus into the massed squid troops and as far as he was concerned they didn't finish the job. "The consortium isn't paying us to lose cargos."

"I know that Koi. We are prepared to save the ship. Just get us into position." Jiliat blurted. "Maybe you aren't the pilot the consortium thought you were." A gurggle-pop-slurp came over the comm as Tacoum laughed at Jillat's comments.

"A little more of that and I might have to roast me a little fish." Mac-Koi barked. "Milo! Milo! Are you there, what are our options."

Milo Besin looked into the scanner he was pretty certain he was about to die. It had been almost five minutes since he last heard form his crew. He spent a moment feeling sorry for himself and then started to plan his next move. He didn't think we would live if he lost his cargo, but it was looking like he would not live if he kept it either. Moving along the console he vented cargo holds into space. He grimaced as he mentally calculated the value of the goods he was ejecting into space. The freighter lurched as the cargo was sucked into the void. He was about to vent the second bay when the communicator burst to life.

"Milo! Milo! Are you there, what are our options." MacKenzie's voice crackled over the aging cargo hulk's speakers. "Milo, what the hell are you doing! We can still salvage the hulk if you give us a chance! I'm not risking my ass for nothing, and I am not letting the consortium think I let their cargo get dragged into the sun."

"Mac, I was starting to think you had left for good." He let out a long breath, he know this was a dire straits. "Are the twins with you?"

"We are still here. We are ready to move this ship to safety" Tacoum slurred, "we need to act now or move on."

Milo shook his head. He didn't know how he was going to keep this crew from killing each other. He started to wonder how he could drop the cargo and not have the consortium kill him. This was his last job, he could make the jump to alpha-centauri and retire but only if he salvaged this last cargo. Jillat and Tacoum came back towards the ship. They passed as close as they dared and Milo was knocked to the deck as the Seabren used the gravity drives on there ships to drag at the cargo hulk and pull it out of its decaying orbit. Milo was just getting to his feet when he was knocked down again. This time it was Mac-Koi. He got a lot closer and he had a bigger ship. Milo got to his feet and checked the console.

"Okay, get back here. We have two hours before we need to have this thing back on track." He shouted into the communicator. Milo started to run to the cargo hold to assess the damage and find out what the hell is going on.

It only took a moment to get to the cargo hold, and Milo looked at the artifacts the consortium had them hauling to the jump points in orbit around Saturn. The cargo hold in question was the most expensive, of course. This was the one cargo that was officially owned by the consortium, of course. Milo started to go through the rows and rows and of items, looking for whatever had caused the blast. It was all some type of artifacts that had been harvested off Venus. It was a big shock to the people of Earth when the terraforming of Venus started and massive sites and machines began to be found.

Milo and his crew had been selected to make this delivery along with a lot of the items from Earth because they were not weighed down by the legality or morality of leaving behind people to haul away artifacts of questionable merit. Milo found the section that had been damaged, he looked at the now sealed hole in the bulk head. The crates that had exploded had been sucked into the void. Along with about seventy of the two or three thousand crates that had been in this hold. The damage was minor and the bulk heads had closed to seal the hole.

Milo heard the crew approaching him from behind. "About time. We will have to do an inventory, recalculate the escape vectors and maybe even jettison some more cargo." Milo turned to face the crew and there was no one there. He walked over to the wall and punched a communicator. "Where are you guys, get down here now." No one responded. Milo started to think that his crew had abandoned him. Milo pulled out his personal communicator and turned it on. It didn't have a lot of range but if Mac and the twins were in the ship and near by he could communicate with them without using the ancient and apparently faulty communications of the cargo freighter.

"Mac! Jillat! Tacoum! Where the hell are you guys. I need you in the cargo hold now." Milo snapped into his communicator.

"Milo? Is that you I can barely hear you." Mac voice cracked over the small device. "You dropped the ball buddy, Tacoum's ship is badly damaged. Drop the Magnetic shields, we can't get into the ship."

"What? The shields are down. I dropped them after we left Venus." Milo moved over to the mini console. "Dammit, Mac I don't know whats going on but the weapons systems are powering up. Get away from the ship. Get away from the ship." Milo was started to get very nervous. He turned to return to the bridge and ran straight into two of the strangest creatures he had ever seen.

They were about 7 and a half feet tall and had a metallic quality to their skin. Milo was struck by how fragile they looked, but judging from the swelling in his lip where he had contacted one, it was only appearance. They reached out and grasped Milo by the neck and shoulders. A high pitched squeal rang out from the creatures as they moved Milo over to the crates. It seemed like quite some time to Milo that they sat there as they made those noises at him. Finally they led him away from the crates as several of the creates converged from multiple locations. They each had peaces that Milo recognized from the inventory. Items that his contact at the consortium had mentioned as critical to the completion of the contract. Milo started to yell at the creatures holding him and they released their grip on him. The items they were carrying started to melt and merge into larger items. Milo could not identify the purpose for these items.

Milo started to worry that he would not make his retirement. The items started to grow and Milo suspected that the creatures were building a ship. He moved towards the main portal out of the hold. The creatures started to melt into the ship as the ship started to spin. The lower portions of the ship started to glow. The floor of the hold seemed to bend and warp away from the ship. Milo ran. He leapt through the portal and slammed into the wall beyond. The entire ship shuddered as the things in the cargo hold broke through the first layer of the hull of the ship. Milo reached the control panel and hit the seal controls to close the bulkheads around the cargo hold.

Milo did not wait until the cargo hold was sealed, he sprinted to the bridge. Before he got there the ship shuddered as the creatures ship ripped through the hull and escaped. Once on the bridge he assessed the damage. It wasn't good. A massive hole had been ripped open along the side of the ship. This immediately noticed three significant problems that this had caused. First the freighter had resumed its near free fall into the sun. Second the port engines were offline, and judging from the massive damage on the port side of the ship they would not be back online prior to the freighter was drawn into the sun. Third, the hole in the ship had cut off Milo's path to the landing bay on the port side of the ship. Unfortunately that was where Milo's ship was, and right now it looked like that was his best chance to survive.

Milo started to punch commands into the control panel. He turned off the weapons systems, dropped the magnetic shields, and opened communications channels. "Mac you still out there?" Milo screamed. "I think I might be in trouble."

"We are not in the best of shape either." Mac-Koi's voice was shaky, "Why is the weapons system on? You nearly took Jillat out with the last volley of EM Disruption missiles. And Tacoum is down an engine. When that thing blew out of the ship, it really made a mess. There is a lot debris out here. Fore up those engines we'll start another acceleration run past Mercury."

"Don't bother Mac, the port engines are out and I think the thrust from the starboard engines just isn't enough to break the gravity pull now. I am going to try to drop some mass and maybe gain escape velocity that way." Milo barked.

"That will take time, lose the freighter. Jump into you single seater and get the hell out of there." Jillat's voice was crisp and clear.

"Sorry boys the path to my ship seems to have a rather large whole in it right now." Milo said. "I either get this ship going or I don't make it out."

"Okay, you start dropping cargo Milo we'll see what we can do from here." Jillat said. Some bubbling an gurgling followed as he spoke with Tacoum. "Tacoum has a really good idea. Don't jettison the cargo from the starboard cargo bays. Tacoum is going to blast it. If you rotate 70 degrees the blast should give you the equivalent of a 2 minute engine burn."

Milo ran the calculation and Tacoum was right. "sounds good, rotating now... landing bay and port cargo bay beta and gamma are emptied. Fire away Tacoum."

Tacoum made a single pass past the freighter and blasted the beta and gamma cargo holds. The blast sent the freighter spinning, but spinning away from Venus. Milo gripped the console as the ship spun and shook and groaned. Looking at the console Milo started to to see that the blast was not enough. He need to get the mass of the ship down and have a good long burn from the engines.

"Okay guys, I need to drop 100 tons in order to have the starboard engines reach escape velocity. I can drop 70 tons on cargo but that's it. I am really interested in any ideas you have."

"Start dropping cargo, I think we can help you with the other 30 tons." Tacoum said.

"Cargo dropped. I am read for burn but I need another 30 tons gone." Milo was watching the screen as Tacoum and Jillat ran the length of the ship. The ship jerked and shuddered as the blasted off any super structures that were not necessary. "This better work, you arne't leaving me a lot of second chances."

"We'll get you out of there!" Mac shouted as he blasted the landing bays off the ship. "That's it how your mass?"

"98 tons down, get clear if this doesn't work its going to be a real short trip." Milo told his crew. "It's been great working with you."

Milo fired the engines and the ship rocketed away from the sun. He watched the sensors he had left and hoped that they would show him breaking free and moving towards Saturn. As the fuel ran out the sensors did not give him good news. The ship slowly started to fall back towards the sun. Milo sat by the consoel and started to go over the things they had tried, something that he could try. Mac-Koi's voice was crackling over the comm, but Milo wasn't listening. He knew that this was his last shipment, just as he planned, but he wasn't going to retire according to plan. He reached up to turn off the console and something dropped out of his pocket.

It was a small shard, no longer than a seed. It looked like it was made of the same strange material that the creatures in the cargo bay was made of. Milo stared at this thing the space seed as it grew and expanded in size. Milo backed away as the thing grew.

Milo crawled over the comm link. "Mac get clear, really strange things are going on here. I am not sure but I think I might have a way out, but the freighter isn't going to make it." Mac started to reply but Milo povered down the freighter and walked over to the tear shaped growth that had grown from the space seed.

Milo reached out to touch the thing and was shocked that his arm passed into the mass. He steped completely into it and found himself in a small cockpit with strange screens and controls. The seed ship lurched off the deck as Milo started to learn the controls. Milo started to get an idea why the consortium wanted thses artifacts. The ship was sleek and judging from the small motions he had mastered it was monster powerful. Milo smiled and started to move back from the freighters hull. He started the thrusters of the seed and rammed into the hull. he backed up and rammed again. It took him three tries to get through the hull. Then he was free of the freighter and he stopped and watched as the aging hulk slid into the suns gravity well. He watch for about a half hour until a massive solar flare consumed the old ship.

Milo turned his new ship towards Saturn and openned up. he caught up with his crew after only a few minutes. They were travelling slowly as Jallit had badly damiged his vessel trying to save the freighter.

"Well boys, we lost the cargo but I did manage to grab something for us." Milo spoke over his personal communicator.

"What in hell is that?" Mackenzie blurted. "And where did it come from?"

"Good to see you boss." Tacoum said.

"Let's get to the jump point. After that we'll see what we have here. I have a feeling that the consortium has a good idea what this thing is, but they are paying us to evacuate the Earth before the sun fails. I think we earned our pay today, we'll see what they will pay for this little gem once we get to alpha-centari."

okay that's it.
I hope it passable.
Please leave a comment to let me know what you think of the story.

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