Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 3


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3


Chapter 3: Mysterious Sludge and Searching Code

“Blood!” Jan exclaimed.

“Blood isn’t dark brown and drippy at the same time,” Seren sighed. Her suit for her job of walking the outside of Hokulua station to find leaks, had been filed with some strange liquid. Everyone had panicked and the supervisor called security and given them the day off.

“What do you think it is then, smarty?”

“I have no idea.” Seren smiled mischievously.

“You didn’t?”

“I snuck a sample while everyone was panicking.”

Jan laughed and shook their head before asking, “You’re going to investigate aren’t you?” Then added, “I suddenly have a free day so I’m coming with.”

As they headed to the pods, Seren sent her father a message. Work cancelled. Need a hand?

They were half way to his lab before he replied, Sure.

They were almost at his lab when the lighting darkened and the screens in the corridor showed a red alert.

“Attention Hokulua station. We have been attacked by and repelled pirates. The station is in lockdown until further notice. Please stay in your homes or work areas while we assess the situation.”

“Hey Dad. Whoa… what’s going on?” Seren was shocked at the massive pile of spare electronics and junk in the center of her father’s lab.

“Hey kids. This was the original pod and stasis for Hoku. I’m trying to compare the code to what we have now to see what happened. There’s no way we can hand over the everyday functions of this station to a faulty AI.”

“Okay… can we use some equipment for a special project?”

“You stole a sample from the mystery suit?” Her father didn’t miss much. “Go ahead and don’t look surprised. I have spies everywhere.”

Seren giggled. He meant it literally. He had created a series of linked micro-robots that would crawl the air ducts, sewage, and water to make sure everything was clean and, in theory, find any leaks or issues. Unfortunately the station seemed to randomly fry them. He probably knew about the suit because he was dating the structural engineer who was in charge of the space walks.

Getting a chemical breakdown of the substance would take about an hour and then it would take time for the computer to give a list of possible results. When she’d gotten it started, she asked, “Anything we can do?”

“I could use a second pair of eyes with this code,” he replied. When he saw Jan’s eyes widen with horror he added, “And someone to try and put this stuff back together.” He gestured to the pile of computer parts that housed the original AI. “I took it apart to see if anything had been tampered with. It hadn’t.” He sounded dejected.

Sitting down with a tablet, Seren put the two codes next to each other. After a few minutes of staring at code and trying to tell the difference between natural evolutions, faulty, junk, and malicious code; her eyes started to swim. “Dad. Why didn’t you just write an AI to find any faulty code?”

“I did. It came back corrupted and asking me if I knew the difference between a fish and frigate.”

Eyes glazing over, she let her mind wander. This was too much code to look at; it was like trying to find a planet in a dark solar system from a quadrant away. She needed to narrow it down.

“What were you working on, this morning, when it gave you that weird phrase?” she asked her Dad.

“I was trying to tweak the power consumption on the docking bays. They’re taking as much energy as the ships engines and I don’t get why.” He didn’t say anything more, just went back to his work.

The docking bay doors were a very simple system with only two components, an air shield and a door opening. She pulled up both sets of code and isolated them.

“Analysis complete,” Hoku station said and made everyone jump.

“Thank you Hoku. Can you tell me what it is?”

“The compound has cocoa, sugar, milk, and flour. Best answer is that it’s a form of space based Cetacean.”

“Hoku… you just gave us the recipe of chocolate pudding and then said it was a space whale.”

“That is correct. It’s all about the cetaceans.” The statement was completely ridiculous. All three of them couldn’t help but laugh.

When they’d stopped giggling, Mr. Plentyn said, “I’ll tell Martin to let me know what his investigation shows. Could be pudding, could be whale, could be bearing grease for all this thing knows.” He tapped the computer console.

It was more code staring and sighs of frustration. Jan had almost finished re-assembling when Seren saw something.

“It’s the shields that are taking the energy. They’re modulating at a subspace frequency.”

“Does it repeat?” He took her tablet and worked on it quickly. The shields were transmitting their position but the exact message was odd.

“It keeps repeating, ‘fear, pain, death,’ over and over again.”

“What could that mean?” said Jan.

No one had the chance to answer because the intercom blared. “Violet alert. We have incoming hostiles. Everyone prepare for combat.”

Mr. Plentyn gave them each a repair kit and said, “You’ve been recruited to help with damage.”

“Aern, why in the Mother-of-Stars are all our defences down? I need weapons and shields, NOW!”

Read Chapter 4 in April


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Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 2


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3


Chapter 2: Asteroids and Pirates

Stars filled her view screen and Annie sighed. Space was beautiful. Reluctantly she manoeuvred the little fighter back towards the debris field and her next target.

Hokulua Station had shields that would deflect most debris but with a micro-star at its core, it generated enough gravity to pull stray asteroids and rubble with it. Small fighter ships were used to defend the station against big impacts. There were also occasional pirates or planet-hopping wildlife.

“Hokulua tower, I’m on vector to my next target.”

“Roger that Echo 2. Make it snappy, you have your other job to get to.”

The next target was an asteroid the size of a living quarter. Her scans showed that the asteroid was mostly water which would require a wide beam plasma blast. But it wasn’t moving right.

“Tower. Target is moving slower than expected. Can I get a proper scan from Astrometrics?” Annie wished that her older brother James was at the coms. He’d have listened.

“Echo 2, a second scan isn’t necessary. Blow that thing and come home.” Just as she expected, the old man just wanted to get the job done.

“Negative tower. Scans are indicating water but-”

Tower cut her off with, “No Buts, child. Just do your damn job.”

“I’m sorry tower. Without a second scan I’m going to do a scoop-and-shoot.” That old man would rather risk the station than be a few minutes late. Annie was convinced there was something off with the asteroid.

“Stop showboating and destroy that asteroid or I swear to the Eater-Of-Stars you’ll never fly again.”

A scoop-and-shoot maneuver was exactly what it sounded like. She’d fly by the asteroid and then extend the little ships shields. It would scoop the asteroid and she could move it away from the station. Once it was at a safe distance she’d shoot it.

It was a tricky thing to accomplish. Annie swung back around and started to follow the asteroid, matching its speed and direction. She needed to be right on top of the thing to catch it in her shield. The darned thing was moving really slow and she almost bumped it.

It was made harder by the swearing and insults from the tower.

“Tower, this is hard enough without you berating me. I request radio silence.”

“Echo 3, here. I second Echo 2. Shut up tower.”

“Echo 4 agrees with the other Echos.” The rest of the Echos agreed.

She’d forgotten that she wasn’t alone out here. There were a half dozen other ships. She appreciated their backup.

The asteroid took much less force than it should have to move. She overdid the throttle and went twice as far as she should have.

“Tower. I have completed scoop and I’m moving to a safe distance to shoot.”

The normal safe distance is fifty times the size of the object but in this case she doubled it. She shot a short direct plasma blast at the edge of the asteroid. If it was water filled, like the scanners said, it would chip off a corner and nothing else. If it was what she suspected, it was going to explode.

A piece chipped off and Annie sighed. “Tower. I have-” she was cut off by the shockwave from the exploding asteroid. It tossed her ship towards the station with such power that her vision blurred and she thought she was going to lose consciousness.

Everything was ringing and it took a while before she could hear the station Tower. When she could hear clearly she heard her brother James, “Echo 2, do you copy?” He sounded worried.

“Echo 2 here. Tower I copy.”

“Echo 2 get control of your ship. We have bogies incoming.” The ship was spinning like a grounder in zero-g for the first time. She gently took control and directed it away from a crash course with the station.

“Tower. Did you say bogies?”

“Yes. Echo 2. Form up with the rest of Echo wing and get out there.”

The attacks from pirates were rare and Annie had the seconds it took her to meet up with her squad to wonder at the coincidence of the timing. If she’d been at the regular safe distance for a scoop-and-shoot, there would be a hole in the station. That’s not to mention if she’d listened to tower.

Echos were the only squad out there. They didn’t have a regular patrol or military presence. They were so far out from colonised space that no one expected an attack. If they’d showed up just ten minutes later there would have been no one around.

“Echo squad. This is Echo leader. We don’t have to win this one, we just have to make sure no one dies. We hold them back until Alpha squad can come clean up.”

The battle was a blur of ships, asteroids, blasters, and commands. After it was done, Annie barely remembered any of it. They’d been lucky that the Pirates had only sent a scouting party. A few clean shots to their ships and they turned tail and ran.

If they’d come in a destroyer sized ship, the station wouldn’t have been able to defend itself.

As she peeled off her flight suit, James came up to her his brow furrowed in anger. “What the black-hole were you thinking?” His reddish-purple eyes, exact copies of hers, glowed with frustration.

“Something was off and I asked for a second scan. I followed procedure until that mouthy space-monkey tried to cut corners. I was right, too. If I’d followed orders we’d have lost a ring or worse.”

He pulled her into a hug and said, “You scared me, sis.” After a pause, he added, “I’ll check the logs and talk to the bosses. But until a full review, you’re grounded. Except for space walks.”

She’d forgotten about her second job. She hoped repelling space pirates was a good enough excuse.

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Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 1


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3


Chapter 1: All kinds of leaks

The stars were in different places, they always were, but with a little concentration Seren could map out their location. The universe was impossibly large, but her and her people had spent time untold sailing the stars.

Hokulua was a generational exploration and protection space station. Most GEPS were crawling with scientists, soldiers, and their children. Hokulua was quiet but it wouldn’t be for very long. There were a ten million souls on their way to the station and it would be the flagship of the Starchild Family.

“State-of-the-art my ass!” shouted Mr. Plentyn as he paced around the living quarters, angrily tapping at his tablet. “More like experimental and unstable!”

“Did Hoku refuse to give you your coffee again?” Seren’s large smile lit up her face making her skin seem to glow. Her bright green eyes were questioning as well as teasing.

“No, Hokulua Station didn’t refuse to give me coffee… more than once. It’s this blasted power drain. I can’t seem to stop it. The station is using twice as much power as it should and every time I patch a hole a new one opens up.”

“Have you asked Hoku?”

“Dear child. Why would I bother asking a glorified entertainment AI something I know it can’t answer?”

“So you asked and it gave you one of those weird phrases again?”

It was Aern’s turn to smile at his daughter, he shared her dark brown skin and reddish hair but he had light amber eyes. “Yes it said, ‘Plasma Beasts are at the gates’; whatever that means.”

“Wish I could help,” she said and meant it.

Walking over to the wall and the food dispenser, she asked, “Hoku, can I have some orange juice and a breakfast number four please.”

The soft deep voice of the station’s AI replied, “That will take forty percent of your daily recommended rations food intake. Are you sure you want to proceed?”

“I’m doing a space-walk today and will need the extra energy. Please proceed.”

The food appeared in the food slot and she could have sworn she heard Hoku say, “Good luck.”

She ate in silence, watching the stars. It was the way she ate most mornings. Her father was up and fed hours before her and she liked the quiet.

“I’m here to make sure you don’t miss your first shift,” Jan stood at the door in their uniform. Their blonde, almost white, hair and nearly translucent skin glowed slightly in the dim light of the living quarters.

Seren made a rude noise and drank the last of her juice.

“Jan you know that you don’t need to wear your uniform right?”

“Just because the rest of the military isn’t here doesn’t mean I can slack off. Might as well get used to it.” Jan was officially known as Private Jan Ng, they’d graduated and passed military training a week ago. Seren hadn’t applied for the military but instead tested and passed the tests for both the engineering corps and her real passion, the archeological civilian branch. She wanted to follow her passions but didn’t want to leave her father. He’d had too many people leave him already.

“Well I’m not wearing a uniform until I have to.” Instead, Seren wore a deep red button up shirt with a pair of snug kaki pants, with her comfy dark brown boots.

“I love you, Dad. I’m off to find out where our air is disappearing to.”

Barely looking up, he replied, “Love you too. Be careful.”

“Dad! I’m eighteen!”

“The vacuum of space doesn’t care how old you are.”

She kissed his cheek and headed out.

“So, Private, are you excited for everyone to show up?” Jan’s parents were part of the advance team with Seren’s father that were sent ahead to prepare stations or sent in to repair old stations.

“Mother-of-Stars, yes! This quiet is painful; I’m so glad I won’t have to do this again.”

They headed to the nearest transportation pod. A small train-like transportation controlled by the AI. It would seat twenty when the station was fully manned.

Each pod could move along one of the arms of the station. Like all Starchild Stations, Hokulua was built with a micro-star in the centre of four large rings. Each ring touches at least touches the other rings and has four bridges connecting to the micro-star engine and power station.

Each ring is given a designation, Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta. Each quadrant of each disk is given a letter, A, B, C, and D. Finally each quadrant of each ring had a hundred floors. Each of the floors was roughly six hundred square metres.

“So we need to walk the entire alpha-ring today?” asked Jan.

“No just the top of A quadrant,” Seren said and then added, “That’s still four kilometres.” They had been hired to inspect the outside hull of the station and make sure that there were no air leaks. If there was an air leak, even a small one, it would glow a florescent orange when it hit the cold of space.

The transport pod stopped at the spaceport and they reported for duty. There were five of them that had been hired but only four had shown up.

“Just like Annie to be late or forget to come to work,” joked one of the others.

They were given their sections and assigned space suits. Seren went over to hers and something wasn’t quite right. The suit wasn’t hanging like the others, but was put together and leaning in the locker storage.

The visor was oddly tinted dark brown. She was about to disconnect it when Jan grabbed her hand. With a tremor in their voice, they said, “Your suit is leaking blood.”

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Serial Story 2019 – Results

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

You voted and this year’s serial story will be an Adventure Mystery, written in the third person, with 2 regular human main characters in an original setting.

That turned out to be pretty vague and I decided a few things.

  1. I want to write a classic YA style mystery
  2. I want it to be on a space station
  3. The Welsh words for Star Child translates into the perfect name for a YA mystery.

So without further ado I give you the description of this year’s serial story:

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station

Hokulua Station is the newest in generational exploration and protection space stations. Brand new and not quite working right.

Seren’s dad is the head or engineering for the new station and in charge of getting all the bugs worked out before the rest of the colonists arrive. That leaves her with plenty of time to explore. Something isn’t quite right though; weird noises, things going missing, and power drains that no one can explain.

Seren and her best friend Jan are going to do their best to figure out what is going on before someone gets hurt.

This should be an interesting and fun year.

Later Days,

Éric

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The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part Seven

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

“How the heck are we going to get out now?” Felix looked across the chasm that they had somehow crossed.

“We can just time Jump from here,” Amanda, Miss Eris, said.

At the same time they looked at their hands that were both resting on the large diamond they then turned to each other and smiled.

The past day (was it really just a day?) had been filled with nonsense, dirt, and chaos but through it all Miss Eris had been there stalwart in her mission to save his life. That dedication impressed him.

The jump was no more pleasant than it had been before. The found themselves in a small village.

“Where are we? Shouldn’t we be bringing this thing,” he waved the diamond around, “To Tesla?”

Looking at him in the way his grade school teacher once had when he asked what the point of playing well with others was, she said, “Felix. We must do our best to not disturb the timelines. This means we must find that gangster’s grandmother and give her the gem.”

Rolling his eyes, Felix replied, “I hate time travel. How do we find the woman? All we know of him is that he’s a mob boss and kind of impatient.”

She snorted at the last comment and giggled. He ignored her outburst and looked around. It was a small village, assuming they were at the right place. The words quaint and smelly came to mind.

“Get out of my way, you stupid foreigner. You might be able to laze about all day but some of us have to do an honest day’s work.” Standing behind them was a woman who didn’t look impressed in the least. She also looked awfully familiar.

Holding his hand out he said, “Sorry ma’am, you’re perfectly right. Take this diamond as an apology.”

Scowling at him in the exact same way her grandson would, she took the jewel and continued on her way.

“Well that was easy. Now let’s go steal it back and get this damned day over with,” he was about to mention how he was looking forward to reading in front of his fake fireplace, the real ones were too messy, but he had forgotten had his apartment had exploded.

“Run!” Miss Eris took his hand into hers and pulled him down through a field. He considered asking why, or looking back to see what was chasing them but decided he’d rather not know. He concentrated on not falling and keeping up with Miss Eris.

As he stared down at his feet and where they were to land he saw that Miss Eris was still wearing those ridiculous high heels. He scoffed internally at the vanity of such footwear, and then had to admit she was quite nimble in them. He felt that it was him that was holding them up.

“How are you running in those?” he couldn’t help but ask.

His question must have broken her concentration because she paused in mid stride and fell forwards, right off a small hill, pulling him along with her. They tumbled down the long hill until they hit a grassy area at the bottom. Somewhere along the way he’d lost a sleeve.

Sitting and catching his breath he looked at the shoes again and shook his head, “Is it some sort of future technology? Are they the time machine?”

Her hair, that had escaped it’s bun in the diamond temple, was now all over the place. Her hair was a light reddish brown, now spotted with grass, twigs and other things.

“I just got used to them that’s all. They’re very comfortable,” her indomitable calm seemed flustered. She seemed angry.

“I find flat shoes uncomfortable I assumed those would be worse,” he said, trying to keep any indignation out of his voice. He didn’t want to offend her. Which was a lot for Felix, it meant he cared about her feelings. Feelings were messy, stupid things, but he didn’t want her hurt.

“Oh. In my time when you buy shoes, you choose the style and they scan your feet to make sure you have a perfect fit.”

“Ok. Are we safe from what we were running from?” He still wasn’t convinced that the heels could ever be comfortable, like dress shoes they should be made not to be comfortable. If Felix wanted to be comfortable he would work from home and avoid dress clothes all together.

“I don’t see the dinosaur that was chasing us,” She looked up the hill.

Standing up and offering her his hand Felix sighed, “Shall we go?”

Once again they jumped but this time instead of making him sick, it made him very sick. He was extremely happy to find a waste basket next to him as they appeared.

Once he’d lost what little food he’d eaten that day he looked up at his bedroom. “Oh thank god I’m home.” He headed towards his closet and opened it but instead of a change of clothes there was just a grey metal wall.

Turning around he saw that one whole wall of his bedroom was a glass mirror. On the other side of the mirror were children, at least he assumed they were children, they were small and of various shapes and sizes. He thought it rather looked like Halloween or a Star Trek convention.

The children were gawping and drooling, as children always do though Felix.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“We’re in a museum,” Amanda replied, looking utterly defeated. That’s when he noticed the sign just to the left of their little exhibit that said, “Early third millennium time travellers.”

“Shall we leave?” he asked offering her his hand.

Looking a little sick, Amanda gave him a sad look and said, “We can’t. The fall damaged the time travel device.”

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The Ridiculous Adventures of Felix Felicis – Part 6

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

“Let me get this straight,” Felix had given up disbelieving. It lessened the headaches. “We need to steal a diamond from a Mobster to give to Leonardo da Vinci. So that he and Nicolai Tesla can defeat the Dinosaurs that wants to kill me. Do I have that right?”

“Yes but…” Miss Eris looked uncomfortable and looked around but Felix wasn’t going to be deterred.

“Nope. Not getting distracted this time. You’re going to look me in the eye and tell me why they’re trying to kill me. Now!” His nose started to itch. There must have been a lot of dust where they were but he refused to look away from the vibrant green orbs that were her eyes. They were mesmerizing and all he could concentrate on for the seconds before she responded.

“I really think we should move just a few more feet to the left,” she avoided the question.

“I insist that we clarify this now,” he stubbornly insisted.

Rumbling and the sound of a steam engines horn pulled his attention away from her. It was an early model train and they seemed to be in a tunnel. Sighing he grabbed her shoulders and dove for the far wall.

Twisting as they flew towards the wall his back hit the stone with a hard impact. The train passed by them and he saw a human shaped Sauren sitting in the dining car with its family. They were dressed in early Victorian clothing.

“We’re running out of time, we have to hurry. This temporal area has already been converted.”

“Converted? What? Why?” She was reaching for his hand, and he sneezed. There was a breeze coming from somewhere and it wasn’t from either end of the tunnel. “I’ve had enough of being dragged around without knowing anything and being afraid.”

Reaching out he pushed on the wall that had, surprisingly, cracked from his weight and pushed on it. A large hole opened and an old stone staircase could be seen.

Seeing her confused look he said, “I don’t sneeze for dirt only dust,” and he walked towards the steps.

The stairway was narrow and lit by torches every fifteen steps. He was terrified and for the first time since he’d met Eris, he admitted it to himself. He wanted to go back to his comfortable, clean apartment and not be messing with time.

“Why are you going down there?” Miss Eris asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “These torches couldn’t have been here very long. Someone must be here.”

The final step led to a small corridor that turned sharply to the left. He was about to make the turn when she grabbed his arm and pulled him back. As he was going to argue he saw the person, or rather Sauren, who’d been here before them. He’d been shot by a dozen arrows on either side of his body.

“It’s trapped?” He yelled looking down the corridor. At it’s end he could barely see something glowing. It looked familiar. “That’s the diamond isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is. But we’ll have to get through these traps to get to it.”

“Thanks, I was afraid you’d say that.”

“My pleasure,” she smiled looking happy to be of service. She had missed his sarcasm.

“Do you have a personal force field?”

“No. Why?”

Sighing loudly he said, “For a time traveller you’re not very prepared.”

“My mission was to find you and get you to safety and then ensure you stayed there for twenty four hours, I wasn’t expecting this.” She gestured towards the trapped corridor and her hand got to close. A Line of arrows shot out from where her hand had been and then another, creating a wave of arrows from one end to the other of the corridor.

“Well that’s interesting.” Felix passed his hand and then did it again nothing happened the second time. No new arrows escaped until the wave had finished. He tried again and the same thing happened. “We have two choices, run across trying to outrun the arrows or let the wave go and then run after it and hope it doesn’t go the other way.”

“Ok. Let’s do that.”

“I’d try to exhaust the arrows but something tells me that’s too easy.”

Taking a deep breath he reached out and set off the wave and then started to run. It seemed he and Miss Eris entangled hands before running.

They made it just as the second wave started from the opposite direction. The room they found themselves in was square and there was a small pedestal on the far end of the room with the diamond on it.

“This looks simple enough,” Miss Eris said.

“Wait, I’ve seen this movie before” he took a quarter out of his wallet and tossed it across the room. It bounced and rolled towards the left. The floor gave out on both sides of a narrow bridge. It was less a bridge and more of a pole.

“You had to say something.” He sighed again and put one foot in front of the other. Miss Eris was behind him, a little out of her element, and they were making good progress until the gouts of flame shot out from the pit around them. His nice suit was now crumbled, cut, and singed.

He heard a crunch and heard Miss Eris slip. He tried to turn and catch her but she fell onto the bridge. She held on for dear life. Her hair had escaped the bun and was flowing freely, daring the flames.

He reached down to grab her and almost fell. Finally he managed to awkwardly sit on the bridge and reach for her. She took an iron grip on his hand and he pulled her up. She managed to sit in front of him. Her business skirt had seen better days.

“Are you ok Amanda?” he asked, assuming it would be ok to use her first name now that they’d saved each other’s lives.

“Yes Felix I think I’ll survive.”

They moved together to the platform and he grabbed the diamond.

Taking his hand she looked at him and softly said, “I don’t know why they want to kill you. Just that they do.”

Read Part 7

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