Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 6 of 7

Oh, how I hated that smile. It was smug, knowing, and superior. I hated it all the more because I had perfected the same one years ago. The man looked a lot like me, but older and evil. How does one look evil? His eyes were the colour of space with no stars, his smirked tilted in a way that said he knew he was better than everyone, and sides of his eyes didn’t crinkle when he smiled.

I didn’t believe in evil, even when the church I served tried to have me killed, twice. But that changed when I saw the man. I can feel the people around me. There’s warmth to all sentient souls. It’s a reflection of Sol himself. This man was colder than the heart of a black hole. Dispite all that, I could feel the powers of a prophet in him.

“Emissary of Sol. I’m here to kill you,” he repeated.

“I prefer Sun Speaker, Prophet, or just Hal thank you.”

“Your preferences make no difference. You will die today and everything in this system will bow to Denebola and The Pantheon.” I could hear both the truth and the capital letters in what he said. There was a lot to unpack there. First, was that Sol wasn’t alone as a god. Second, there was a pantheon of them. Most pressing was that this guy was like me. I’d met my predecessor before I had any connection to Sol. He was the first member of the church to try and kill me. But I’d never met someone like me.

Reaching out, my senses I felt his power; it was slimy like a vegetable left to it’s own devices for too long. He was still in perfect contact with his god even from this distance. Something I wasn’t. There was something else there though, he was powerful but like a wood fire, I could see he was wearing thin.

I had always assumed that Sol was the only god and finding out there were others threatened to send me into a philosophical spiral. I did what I do best and compartmentalised; I’d deal with the fact that my god wasn’t alone and might be weaker than others later.

From my study of my predecessors, they all died rather young. None survived past forty. In this line of work, our connection to Sol, literally made us burn out.

Our Doctor Janet’s miracle serum that let her stay young, had a very different effect on me. I wasn’t reverted to my early twenties, thank Sol, but instead it had allowed me to channel the power without killing myself.

“You busy yourself meddling in the affairs of others, when you should be ruling them.” He stretched out the vowels of ‘ruling’ and lifted his arms melodramatically. The nightmare creatures moved forwards as if pulled by strings attached to his hands.

He glowed a deep green light and smirked. I decided that if that was the way I looked in a fight, I wouldn’t want to fight me. The nightmares attacked and I sliced two of them down. Suzie would have gotten five.

One dove to bite me and I grabbed its head. For a moment I considered wrestling control of them from him. Being inside their heads didn’t seem all that much fun. Instead I pulled the sunlight out of its soul.

We are all made of the same elements, forged from stars over billions of years. Those elements are infused with a kind of spiritual energy. It’s what kept me calling Sol a god. Not his prophetic visions, but knowing that we were formed inside him and he had given us our souls.

Creating fire is fun, it scares people and makes them do what I want. Pulling the Soulfire from something isn’t fun. It was an act of destruction that left me feeling sick and horrified.

From the outside, all you’d have seen is the creature collapse, shrivel, and turn to dust.

“How? No one can channel that power without destroying themselves.” The man looked… excited? Amazed? Aroused? I wasn’t going to ask.

“You can give up now and head back home. Tell The Pantheon we’re good.” If Sol wasn’t part of this pantheon, maybe he was a rebel. No wonder he liked me.

“No! I’ll still kill you.” He pulled out a sword. It was the kind of sword villains carry in bad entertainment vids. Completely impractical in its size and spikiness.

Reaching into the belt of my robe, I pulled out the gun I had taken from the armory on my way up and shot him. The first hit should have killed him. I should have shot him in the heart. Instead, it went through him and the wound healed. I emptied the clip into him and he shrugged it off. It was my turn to be envious. I didn’t heal like that. I can heal by going into a sort of flaming trance, but it takes time.

Dropping the gun, I held the sword in both hands and prepared for his attack. The bastard pulled out a gun of his own and shot me.

“Copy-cat,” I said with a wheeze. I think I felt the bullet rattling around in my lungs.

Read Final Chapter Tuesday August 20


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

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

The Assassin

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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

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

Gladiators in SPACE!

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

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 5 of 7

“Hal, you’re an idiot. Get the hell out of there.” Suzie was sad and ignoring it by being furious with me. I couldn’t blame her. I’d told her I loved her and sent her back to the ship with a giant alien monstrosity’s head. If I’d been going for romantic, I should have gone with flowers or chocolate, but it’s all I had at the time.

“Sorry. Sol tells me I’m more likely to survive this.” It was mostly a lie. I’d seen her death, more than I ever wanted, but I hadn’t seen anything about me. Although these nightmare creatures were sure trying hard to get me. I’d managed pretty well so far by slicing with the sword and pushing them back with gusts of heat.

“Fine. Just get to the shuttle. We need to talk before I kill you.”

Clearing his throat, Adric said, “I’m having a little trouble getting a lock on the ship. Can you get to engineering and turn off everything?”

“Sure. Just a walk through a park. An alien, prophet eating, dog park.” I’d been doing okay against the creatures and that wasn’t a good sign. They should have been able to swarm me. Maybe cutting off the big one’s head had scared them? Or maybe something else was going on and I was sure that wasn’t a good thing.

Sure, I had a sword and sure, I had cut a few of them down, but if they all attacked at once I’d be swamped. What were they waiting for?

I moved slowly towards engineering and wished I could stop off at the armory. I killed a few of the nightmares as I went. They were getting less petrifying and more annoying.

It took me much too long to get to the main power shut off. It would shut everything down. Thank Sol for my portable air extractor. It would let me breathe in terrible conditions for at least a few hours.

I saw fresh blood on the ground and Sol hit me with a disturbing vision. “Adric, power’s off now. Is the Doc there?”

“Yeah Hal. I hear you. What’s up?” Janet sounded and looked like she was in her early twenties. It was the side effect of her immortality serum. She should be just over a hundred now.

“I’m seeing blood in engineering. Either they’ve been spreading our poor teammates around or someone was bit. Check Suzie and Travis out and let me know.”

The creatures all lifted their slimy heads and turned around, leaving me alone in the semi-darkness. I started to wonder where they were going and decided to worry about it later. Making my way back to the shuttle quickly would have been my best bet; but I was worried about a trap. I made a small stop at the armory on my way.

“We’ve locked onto the ship, but we have a problem.” Adric sounded annoyed and didn’t wait for me to say anything before adding, “Travis was bit by one of those things. He says he can’t remember, but now his legs swollen and Doc put him in the fishbowl.” He was talking about the sterile biohazard room that doubled as our jail cell.

Janet started talking, “Something’s attached itself to his leg and infected him somehow.”

“My day isn’t going to be complete until you tell me that one of my crew has alien eggs in him, is it?” I tried to not gag.

“How did you know?”

“I asked myself how things could get worse and this was one of two options. Can you cut it off?”

A sigh from the coms told me she didn’t like the idea, “The eggs are releasing an antitoxin. If I cut off his leg, the toxin that’s throughout his system will kill him. I’m trying to synthesise an artificial version but…”

“I owe that man my life. Do what you can… wait… what about the virus? Could that work? It was genetically engineered to fight these things right? Maybe it could be adapted to cure him.” Travis had been the captain of one of the most impressive pirate ships in the system. They stole from the rich and gave to the poor. The poor were mostly their families, but they gave to others too. They were rotten and wonderful all at once. I’d infiltrated and it hadn’t gone well for him. I’d felt every pain the other pirates put him through before he escaped, and I’ve never forgiven myself for what he went through.

“This isn’t my first medical issue, Hal. I’m already working on it. Get your healing fire ass over here.” She sounded tired and stressed. Without me or Travis to pilot they’d have to take a risky jump or coast to the closest commercial jump gate. One gave them even odds and the other would take a few hundred years.

“My flame cleanse might make things worse.”

“Then do the opposite. I don’t know. Get here and we’ll figure it out.”

It was an interesting idea. If I could create heat and plasma why couldn’t I drain it? Could I freeze these things?

The point was academic. I turned the corner to approach the shuttle and there, standing with a cocky grin, was the man from the cryogenic pod. I stopped walking and he must have taken that for fear instead of shock. Still smiling, he said, “Emissary of Sol. I’m here to kill you.”

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

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

The Assassin

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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

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

Gladiators in SPACE!

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

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 4 of 7

I have wonderful timing, I mean I’m a bonafide prophet. I spun around and shot not one, but two, of those nightmare dog things in the head without hesitation.

They had no eyes, no nose, they were nothing but dark, slimy muscle and teeth. They seemed utterly quiet until they pounced, then they let off a series of complicated clicks.

“They’re blind and hunt by sound,” I told Suzie as we moved through them towards the shuttle.

“Good thing we have lights,” she said before grimacing and adding, “I shouldn’t have said that.” The light died. We both had enhanced vision built into our suits. It didn’t make any difference other than making the whole situation creepier.

I shot another one and then tried to throw a plasma blast. It hit the closest nightmare and seemed to do nothing.

We fought until heard a screech, howl, and louder clicks. Somehow my plasma managed to feed the damned thing I hit with it, making it grow. It was now big enough to shrug off the bullets I was shooting at it.

They swarmed over every surface. I blasted holes into the floor, walls, and ceiling. They still came towards us, but slower. The big one stayed back, barely moving. We killed them as they came at us. By we, I mean Suzie sliced them and I tried not to die.

“Hey Sunny. Lets get that matter transporter working, shall we?” I yelled into the coms.

“Sure thing boss… I’ll see what I can do.” Adric replied.

“Faster is better.”

“Right. Not something I’m going to rush. Stay exactly where you are.”

We were backed into a corner and I aimed the gun to make the biggest bang. Unfortunately all I got was a click, meaning I was out of ammunition. My trusty blaster did nothing and my super awesome plasma attacks made them grow.

“Suzie… I-”

“Not the time Hal.” She was right. I had terrible timing.

“I’m an idiot.”

“Go on.” The nightmares were staying back, having learnt what she could do with a blade.

“I should have told you before. I’ve been having nightmares about these creatures since before my funeral.”

Sighing, she said, “You talk in your sleep. We all know.”

“I really am an idiot.”

The problem with a matter transporter is that it’s unreliable, illegal, and painful. You’re just as likely to get rearranged into a pile of goo as you are to arrive at your destination. Which, in normal times, isn’t an issue since I can use my powers to know when it’ll work. But when my powers are on the fritz, well, that’s not great.

I reached out and touched her shoulder. I was going to say something, but a vision of her death stopped me. I saw over a hundred versions of her dying before I found a plan that would work.

“I love you, Suzie. I know I’ve been an idiot and I know I don’t deserve you. Just make sure you remember me.”

Her face softened for a moment and she looked at me. “What…”

I gently took the sword from her hand and took two steps to the side. “Now, Adric, now!”

“Use the head to figure out the virus. You only have a few months.” The large nightmare creature dove for me but I had already moved out of it’s way. With a swipe of the sword, I cleanly took off its head. It fell where I had been and both it and Suzie were teleported.

“Go into the dark, you son of a third rate pirate!” I heard Suzie’s cursing transition from in front of me to the coms as she was transported to the ship.

When I didn’t say anything, I was too busy fending off the creatures, she asked “Why?” There was a catch in her throat. That catch and the sadness it represented was worse than all the yelling she could have done.

“Because it meant I saved your life. Adric, tow this thing within tossing distance to the sun.”

“Hal No!”

“Last resort, throw this garbage heap into the sun and let Sol work it out.” I was fairly certain that the heat of the sun would kill these things. If they fed off plasma this would kill them from overfeeding and Sol himself should be able to deal with them.

Not to mention my powers would be more… well, powerful. Yes, it was a terrible plan but it was the only thing I could think of. Give me a break; I was fighting of nightmare creatures with a sword on a ghost ship. Sure, it might have been the solar prophet equivalent of wanting my teddy bear when facing nightmares. Thankfully my teddy was a seven thousand kilometre radius ball of fire.

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

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

The Assassin

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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

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

Gladiators in SPACE!

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

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 3 of 7

Things got worse after we heard Teddy scream. We all just took off running and shamefully didn’t notice what happened to Fry.

When we reached Suzie, she had cut one of the creatures from my nightmare in half. I froze and had to fight off urge to run, puke, or both. When I finally felt confident I wouldn’t, I looked at the thing that had been haunting me for the better part of the past few years.

It looked like a cross between a wolf, an alligator, and a human. Everything about it ate light. My eyes had trouble focusing on it, but what I did see showed that the insides were the same greasy light-absorbing substance as the outsides.

What was left of Teddy was all red with some splotches of brown. I bent over to look at him, but he was dead.

“Teddy shot that thing eight times and it just ate the plasma bolts like they were nothing. Thankfully it couldn’t defend against my sword.” That sword had been made by one of the first Sunspeakers, forged from solar alloys in the heart of Sol itself. I don’t like swords so I gave it to the assassin turned bodyguard who’d been using them for her whole life.

Hoff’s mouth was agape when she said, “This is it. This is the thing the virus was designed to kill. Except it’s not affected. The thing’s body just ignores the virus.”

Suzie sighed, “Great; an unkillable enemy. Let’s get the hell out of here before more of those things show up.” She looked around. “Where’s Fry? Adric do you have a location on Fry?” Everyone was starting to move more frantically. I could tell they were trying to act cool, but it was starting to get to them. After spending enough time around me, people develop a thick skin but this was too gruesome, even for me.

I said a small prayer over Teddy’s body and turned to Hoff. “Take a sample and treat it as the highest biohazard level. Go back to the ship and send the shuttle back on autopilot. Travis, go with her.” Hoff looked relieved and I could see her hands shaking as she took the samples. The command effectively left me alone with Suzie, something I wouldn’t mind, minus the horror show going on.

Travis nodded. He was a mild Precog; enough to be a damn good pilot but not much else. He liked the feel of a pilot’s chair and buttons to press. This was not in his comfort zone and he looked damned relieved to get out. He held his swords out and the two of them retreated to the shuttle.

“Your crew respects you too much,” Suzie said. “Leaving you behind with only me as defense in this situation is a great way to get you killed.”

“Or maybe they’re terrified and want to get the hell out of this place before they die. If I thought you’d listen, I’d have sent you with them.”

“I guess you’re not a complete fool.” She stopped and looked at the man in the cryotube. He was dressed in what looked like robes and he had a calm frustratingly smug look on his face. “He makes me think of you.”

“Oh?”

“He gives off a feeling of power and authority.”

“I thought you said he reminded you of me?” I joked.

“I did… but there’s something missing, something cold. Even asleep he scares me. You’re warm and you only scare me in that you care too much.”

Adric’s voice cut in, “That’s really deep. I found Fry’s signal in the armory. Two levels down.”

“How do you know it’s the armory?”

“I have the ship’s schematics now. Along with how to build those engines.” He sounded inappropriately happy, considering.

Taking off her ear piece, Suzie turned to me and said, “You know he’s probably not alive, right?”

I only nodded. I knew she was right but I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. These people were my family and they far too often died for me. The walk to the armory had me less nervous than before. My enemy was here and now I could deal with it instead of waiting in horror.

When we got to the doors that would lead us to Fry, Adric told us he hadn’t moved and that Hoff and Travis had made it onto the ship.

“I’m going first,” I said and she rolled her eyes. “It’s not a macho thing. I can just take a lot of damage if it’s a trap.” Her eyes rolled again and she gestured with her sword.

The armoury was filled with swords and projectile weapons. It had been centuries since we’d used that sort of weapon. Plasma blasters were cheaper and easier to make.

In the centre of the room was what was left of Fry. Mostly his head and his earpiece. They were precariously balanced on a chair. There was no blood anywhere and the whole scene felt like it was meant to unnerve us.

Inside, I looked around and tried to figure out why he was displayed. “These things aren’t dumb. They bated us here.”

“Oh great. It’s a trap. I never saw this coming,” Suzie deadpanned.

I instinctively grabbed a weapon and a few cartridges. As I loaded the weapon, I said, “Suzie… I-”

She cut me off by saying, “Not now Hal. For a smart guy with the ability to see the future you have terrible timing for personal talks.”

“But…” I trailed off as she walked away. I followed her out of the armoury and back the way we came.

“I’ve waited two years. What’s another couple of hours?” Suzie quipped.

The lights flickered and I turned around to shoot the first creature in the head as it seemed to fly towards us from behind.

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

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

The Assassin

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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

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

Gladiators in SPACE!

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

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 2 of 7

The bridge was an interesting design; no captain’s chair, pseudo-military layout. Just a large screen with three rows of four work stations. It looked more like a coding party set up than a bridge.

“Okay Adric, what do we do?”

“Just slap the patches I gave you on the closest computers and let me work.”

“Alright. Adric will poke at the computers, we’re going to explore the darker places. Suzie you’re closest to what should be the flight decks and primary docking bays. Go find me a reason this ship’s empty. We’ll head to crew quarters and living areas.”

“Aye, aye Captain!” Suzie said mockingly. I could picture her face as she said it and it made my heart skip a beat.

The walk was slow and nerve-wracking. Without my visions from Sol to guide me and having no real Precog abilities, I was blind and I hated it. I don’t like being surprised.

The hallways were boring grey and utilitarian. A very Earthen design. I was more used to the opulent, borderline ridiculous design esthetic of the Venusians. This felt like being in a metal box or coffin.

What should be the crew quarters, based off of Sol standard design, turned out to be a giant hold, it held nothing but glass and dried blood. “Everyone back out. Masks on, there’s something viral in here,” I ordered. I could feel a virus trying to take hold of me. The moment the other two left the hold I burst into flames.

The virus wasn’t natural. It had been designed to wipe out something specific. I got a flash of two scientists finishing the virus and then a vision of them being horribly killed by the creatures from nightmares.

The room was now filled with melted glass and ash. I walked out and Hoff gave me a new robe to wear. Fire doesn’t ignore clothes. That’s why I never keep my credit chips on me.

“That virus wouldn’t have affected us. It was designed to attack something specific. I have the genome now but I’ve never seen anything like it.” Hoff had her pad out and was looking at it with a mixture of horror and amazement.

“How did you get that so fast? I wasn’t out for that long, was I?” I was worried. I hated losing time.

“No. I scanned the virus and it had a secondary part that was biotech. It interfaced with my pad and downloaded everything about itself.”

“So we’re on a plague ship with viruses smart enough to interface with our tech?” Fry asked.

“So a few steps ahead of you Fry,” Hoff joked.

Cutting into our conversation, Adric said, “Yes, and it gets worse.”

“What? Did it infect our ship?” I asked, starting to feel a little better.

“What? No. I’m better at security then that. I’m not just stumbling through a ghost ship’s systems without a plan.” He was snarky but not wrong. “I managed to get some data from their systems. This isn’t an original jump ship. It’s a distress call. The Earthen’s settled in Tau Ceti and it looked like everything was fine until they were attacked by ships from Epsilon Indi.” He sent a picture of the ships over to Hoff’s pad. They were the ships from my nightmares. “They’re asking for help but this information is all over a two hundred years old.”

“But where’s the crew?” I asked, hoping he’d found something.

“Looks like they should be in the lower decks where Suzie is. They were in cryosleep. The ship said it tried to wake them, but got an error and shut down to conserve energy. It’s been drifting towards us slowly for two hundred years.”

“Sir, we found the cryotubes. There’s almost fifty and they’re all smashed except for one.” Suzie sounded worried. She never sounded worried, unless it was about me.

“Okay, fall back to the shuttle. Let’s decontaminate and figure out our next move.”

“What about the man in the last tube?”

“He’s been in there for two hundred years, a few more hours won’t hurt.”

Teddy’s com cut off any other conversation, “What the ash is that?” His screams of pain caused us to start running.

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

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

The Assassin

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

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

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

Gladiators in SPACE!

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

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 1 of 7

“Are we going to die?” Fry asked me for the third time since we entered the Robinson’s airlock.

“Shut up, man,” Hoff sighed as she double checked her gun.

“I saw myself dying on a dark space ship and this ship is dark.”

I tried not to say anything. As the prophet of Sol, the deific entity that lives in the sun, I often had visions of the future. More so since I was injected with a serum that should make me live forever.

“What did you see, Hal?” Fry asked sounding less like the walking arsenal of death that he was and more like a scared child.

“The less I say, the better for all of us.” I hadn’t seen anything. I couldn’t see anything. This part of the solar system was beyond Sol’s influence. I felt naked and blind. The only reason I was here was that I’d heard there was something floating past Xanthus from their local Precog, Caro. All they’d tell me was that there was something there and I needed to go look. Even their amazing abilities couldn’t tell me anything more.

“I hate it when you’re cryptic,” Teddy said over the coms.

I had brought a team of six people. Somehow, with the solar system in the midst of a civil war, or three, my ship had gone from echoing lonely hallways to loud and tight. I liked it cramped; it meant I was never alone with my own future. The things I saw when I slept haunted me and for the past two years I’ve wondered when they’d come to pass.

“Can we stay on mission, please?” Adric said over the coms. He was a brilliant engineer and computer hacker; young enough that he still couldn’t drink on most worlds and not fond of chatter when we were exploring ghost ships.

The six person team was me, Teddy our second engineer, Fry head of security, Hoff our bioscience expert, Travis our secondary pilot and swordsman, and Suzie my ex-assassin personal bodyguard.

Just over two years ago, Suzie had told me she loved me. I hadn’t said anything at the time and then I’d been resurrected and we were trying to stop a solar system-wide war and unite the people of Sol in order to face a greater threat… Yeah, I chickened out.

“Team two, this is team one, we’ve reached engineering. Ship’s completely abandoned but everything is still in working order. We’ll try to get the lights on.” That was Suzie; she was with Travis and Teddy.

The lights stayed off. As we approached the doors to the ship’s bridge, I heard a sound that haunts my dreams, a soft clicking noise. It’s the sound of two dried bones tapping each other, the sound of death, and the sound of my nightmares.

In general, I’m a pacifist and don’t like killing or hitting things. I did spend some time in a gladiator Arena so I learnt how to punch.

The piece of the ship’s ceiling that fell next to me didn’t know what hit it. Probably because it was inanimate and because it was disintegrated by my fiery punch.

“What was that?” Suzie asked.

“Hal’s teaching the ship whose boss,” Hoff said dryly.

“Ok. Anyone recognize this ship’s design?”

“Looks Earthen; maybe five hundred years old. From just before they went all luddite.” Adric said over the coms.

“Could it be one of the system jumpers?” I asked. The last fleet from earth was comprised of over a hundred ships. They were escaping the rise of technophobia that had gripped earth and the xenophobia of the other planetary empires. Using extra powerful faster-than-light drives, they jumped into the unknown, never to be heard from again. With a bad calculation, the ships could have appeared in a sun or black hole. They used supercomputers back then and those are extremely unreliable compared to Precogs.

“That would explain the engines,” Suzie said. “They’re absolutely amazing. Like nothing I’ve ever seen. Is this what Earth tech was like before?” The Fall was the name for what happened when half the population of the earth rebelled against the corporate government and demolished the factories that had been destroying the planet. They returned to an agrarian lifestyle. Most of their tech was lost.

“Has anyone seen any sign of life?” I asked, hoping no one had. This whole situation terrified me and I didn’t know why.

“I saw a few escape pods still in their bay. No one bailed.” Suzie said over the coms.

“So where’s the crew?” I asked, jumping as the lights came on.

Read Next Chapter


Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

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

The Assassin

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

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Gladiators in SPACE!

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Ghost Ship Robinson

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 6 (Final)

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The transporter was set to drop me into the middle of the funerary celebrations. I had planned to land on the stage next to the priest giving my eulogy. I missed, even being a prophet isn’t fool-proof and I’m certainly more of a fool than I like to admit.

Instead of the stage, I materialized front and centre on the casket. Standing and looking over the crowds I said, “Closed casket was a good idea.”

The priest on the stage blanched, kneeled, and said, “But you’re supposed to be dead.”

“The reports of my death were exaggerated.” As I spoke, I looked around. We were in the anti-grav stadium, the only structure on Venus large enough to hold several million viewers. It was home to the Venusian Vultures, the greatest anti-grav team in the solar system. I’d snuck into more games here as a child than I could remember. I hadn’t seen the playing field this close since I’d first become Sun-Speaker. There were large thrones set up around the stage and casket for each Solar-Monarch. The Venusian Empire had two delegates, their king and queen. I nodded to their queen and my ex-best friends. The Martian thrones were empty and I shook my head. The independent Republic of the Asteroid belt had their president and her wife. The Jupiter Protectorate had their monarchs, and the Uranus Confederate had their current warlord. I did a double take when I saw that the Trans-Neptunian Parliament had sent two of its representatives. The androgynous TNP members nodded at me and were cheeky enough to wink at me.

The crowd had started to applaud quietly when I appeared. Unsure if they should be celebrating or booing. “Friends, Venusians, Countrymen,” some openings for speeches were classic for a reason, “I am alive and I have come here for an explanation. Why have I been declared dead when blood still rushes through my veins?” I paused, turning away from the crowd I spoke to the centre chairs holding the Venusians, “Why?” a few seconds and I repeated, “Why?” The crowd got the idea and soon I had near two million voices chanting with me. It was pretty amazing.

Rising from her chair, Gwindolyn, whom I’d always known as Gwin, the high Queen of Venus and protector of the inner planets lifted her hands silencing the crowd.

“Sun-Speaker, this is not a funeral, this is a trial. We knew your ego would force you to come and face us.” The casket sprouted arms and clasped itself to each of my limbs and my neck. You shouldn’t have come. You knew it was a trap. Gwin spoke to me in my mind, her limited telepathic powers and more than a decade with me allowed her that.

“What are the charges?” I demanded.

Sighing she said, “You are charged with impersonating a Sun-Speaker and abusing the holy rights of that office.”

Dramatically I threw my head back and laughed. “Did you need proof of my office?” I started collecting heat around me slowly preparing for a blast of pure energy.

All the delegates are shielded from heat based attacks.

I know Gwin but it’ll startle the smug little jerks.

“We all know you are powerful. That is not in question. The church of Sol has repealed your status and it is the opinion of this council that you are a fraud.”

“The only frauds I see on sitting on thrones,” I spat out the words with contempt. The crowd cheered, unfortunately they didn’t decide my fate.

“Your contempt for authority of all kinds is well documented.” The Venusian King laughed, sitting as if he were at a show and not a trial.

“Hal, formerly known as the Sun-Speaker, on the charge of impersonating a Sun-Speaker, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty, but you’ve already made up your minds.”

“Had you pleaded guilty we could have shown mercy. Since you deny the obvious, your sentence is immediate death.” I’m sorry Hal. I tried to stop them.

I know Gwin, I smiled up at her. Turning to the crowd I said, “I have acted as the Sun-Speaker for twenty-three glorious years. I regret only that I couldn’t do more.” I took off my official garb and revealed a simple Venusian’s peasants outfit. “Let me die as I was born, one of the nameless, faceless mass, of glorious Venusian people.” I paused. “You are the empire; you are its lifeblood, its strength, and its beauty. Long live the Venusian People. May they someday taste freedom.”

I heard the plasma gun a moment before the searing pain passed through my back and exposed my chest. In my last few moments of life I heard two-million voices rising up in anger chanting, “Freedom.”

***

When my eyes opened again I saw grey ceiling tiles and smelled antiseptic. “If this is the afterlife it needs more interior decorators.” My chest hurt, but when I looked down, the hole I’d seen was gone.

Standing around my bed, Janet, Suzie, Travis, Adric, and Caro smiled down at me. Even dead, they didn’t laugh at my jokes.

“You’re not dead Hal. I used my blood to synthesize more of my serum. You’ll live.” Janet, with the prophetic powers of Caro, had worked up a serum that could heal me.

“I was supposed to die. The revolution…”

“Is twice as strong with a martyr that rose from the grave in front of them,” Caro’s voice echoed in my head.

“What about Sol? Do I…” Sol interrupted me with a huge dump of information, but it only hurt a little. Nothing like it had before.

“Hal, your body reacted oddly to the serum, instead of making you younger it has boosted your natural healing ability to amazing levels.” Janet’s mouth was open.

Sitting up and feeling a phantom ache in my chest I said, “Since I’m not dead, we might as well do some good. Who’s up for saving the Venusian Royal family from an angry mob?”

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I’m not a great man. I’m a glorified do-gooder with a soft spot for underdogs. I’ve made small changes and big changes. All of these have been at the orders of my God and Master Sol but they’ve all been for humanity.

When I die, a small group will mourn and a much larger group will celebrate. Ten years later I’ll be remembered fondly by some and forgotten by most. I’m ok with that. My closest friends will always remember me. They are a loyal, no I mean ridiculously loyal, group.

That’s why I needed to get them away from my funeral and death. If I gave them any chance to save me, they’d all die with me. I couldn’t stomach that idea.

“Where to next, boss?” asked Adric. He’d been on the ship for less than a day and he’d already made it twenty times more efficient and got rid of that annoying rattle in the life support.

“We need one last member of the crew to survive this.” I paused for dramatic effect and the coms bleeped. I pressed the button and a person with shoulder length purple hair appeared on the vid screens.

“Everyone,” I said. “This is Caro. They are the systems strongest telepath and precog.” They all looked from the androgynous figure on the screen and me. “Yes, they are stronger than I am. With the two of us, how could we possibly lose?”

Smiling, the ethereally attractive figure said, “Hal. You’ll have to pick me up on Eris.”

I don’t like this old friend. They spoke to me in my mind from over eighty astronomical units away.

You’ve seen what will happen if you save me. They’ll need your guidance. You’ve always been more careful and wise than me. I was buttering them up and they knew it.

Fine. I’ll do this because I know we will make a better solar system, but I don’t like it.

I know. Neither do I. Goodbye my friend. See you on the other side.

As we’d been speaking they had introduced themselves to the crew and given me coordinates to pick them up.

I must have looked as bad as I felt, for I felt Janet’s hand on my shoulder. I patted the hand and said, “I’m feeling tired. Been a long couple of days. I’ll take a nap. Travis, do you mind?”

“You must be feeling bad if you’re letting me take over.” Travis knew I was a little bit of a control freak.

Standing shakily, I headed to my room. When I’d turned the corner, Suzie walked up behind me and took my arm. “How bad is it?” she asked.

“Bad. One more episode will probably kill me.” I lied. I could have survived at least three more. I leaned on her for support.

“Why haven’t you told Janet?”

“She’ll want to use inhibiters to prevent my contact with Sol. It would save my life but I’d be utterly useless to everyone.”

“Do you really think you’d be useless?” she asked.

“I’m nothing without Sol,” I said, thinking of the boy I was before I became the Sun-Speaker, an orphaned street kid with more brains than sense. Compared to the crew I’d assembled, I was an intellectual dwarf, they didn’t need me.

We reached my room and Suzie let me down on my bunk a little harder than she should have. “You’re an idiot Hal. None of us give a damn about Sol or the messages he gives you. It’s you that we respect and…” she hesitated, trying to decide if she should say what she wanted to.

Reaching out a hand and caressing her cheek, I said what she was too proud to say, “I love you too.”

“Get some rest. We’re going to your funeral but I’d like you to stick around for a while.” She stood up and left.

Waiting until I was sure no one was going to interrupt me I changed into the official draperies of my office as Sun-Speaker and snuck down to the cargo hold. Once inside I went straight for the matter transporter and programmed my coordinates. The mathematical formulae needed to dissolve my form and reassemble it were extra tricky but I had Sol to help.

As I pressed the button, I whispered, “Goodbye, my friends.”

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The forests of Mercury, through a twist of optics and evolution, were a bright pink colour. Unlike the green of Earth or the dark brown of Mars, you end up feeling pretty silly being terrified by bright pink trees. I knew nothing as going to kill us in the New-Black Forest, stupid name, but I was a city and spaceship kind of person. Walking the wilds of Mercury looking for a small town that shouldn’t exist wasn’t my idea of fun.

“Would you stop jumping at every twig and shadow?” Suzie was the only crew member to come with me. Janet didn’t want to be recognized and Adric said he needed to work on the ship. I knew what they really wanted to do, but I also knew it wasn’t going to happen for a few more years. They would take my death very hard.

“There are things everywhere on this planet that want to kill me.”

“We’re not on Earth. The biggest wildlife they have here are cats.”

“Did you know that cats will eat their owners if the owner dies? That means they want to kill me.”

“I’ve seen you stare down some of the most dangerous people in the system and you’re afraid of a cat?” Suzie rolled her eyes as we approached Green Lake. I really need to have a terse word with the person who named these things.

Green Lake was neither a lake nor green. In fact it was a small jungle town with a river running through it. The ground was brown and the trees were still pink. The native people, having absorbed millennia of radiation, were nearly completely black.

This semi-tropical area was considered ideal, especially by people who didn’t want to be found. We checked the bar first. Some things never change. The man I was looking for was an old friend and that’s why when I found him, his fist found my face.

“Nice to see you too, Travis.” I mumbled through a few napkins quickly filling with blood. His pale grey eyes almost glowed in their dark sockets. Suzie had her sword out and it sang with power.

“What do you want, Hal?”

“I need a pilot and I want the best.”

“Do you have any idea what they did to me in that Pirate Ship?” he looked at me with anger and I returned his look with my own. I knew every pain and every injustice that the Pirates had inflicted on him. I had experienced each second with him. I knew his pain as if it was my own.

“Yes. I know, and trust me, worse would have happened to you if I’d taken you with me.”

“How much does this job pay?” I could see his anger soften as he started to understand how intimately I understood his pain.

“It pays room, board, and a small salary. It also lets you pilot the greatest ship in the solar system.” Both he and Suzie laughed at that. When he laughed I could see through the pain that made him look much older than his forty years. “I’m not joking. I’m assembling the best crew and ship possible to go back to Venus.”

“What’s on Venus?” he asked.

“We’re going to my funeral.”

Another hearty chuckle and he replied, “I’m in!”

On the uncomfortable trek back to the ship, I hate nature, Suzie walked ahead and Travis walked next to me. He asked the question I didn’t want to answer, “You’re dying aren’t you?”

“Yep, but these visions aren’t going to kill me yet.”

“What will?” He looked at me and added, “You’re preparing a ship of people to continue your work. Aren’t you?”

“How did you know?” I said, sighing in fatigue. I always felt weak now.

“I was your captain for two years, I know you.”

“Sol let me know that I would die at my funeral, feels almost ironic.”

“Can we stop it?” he asked and it sent a shiver up my spine. My premonition told me that if anyone tried to stop my death, it would lead to terrible things. Empires falling terrible.

“No, and I don’t want you to try.”

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

“‘Hey Sunny’, please stand down and prepare for boarding,” an authoritative voice ordered and I snickered. It was the main reason I’d called my ship, “Hey Sunny.”

“You’re a dork,” Suzie laughed.

I made a gesture for them to be quiet and opened the communication channel, “Hey Gramps. This is Hal of the ‘Hey Sunny’ requesting permission to land on Callisto.”

“You’re dead?” asked the person on the other side. Looks like new of my death had spread quickly.

“Not last time I checked,” I replied, trying not to sound like I was laughing at him, and failing.

“Prepare for boarding. Lower your weapons.”

“Nope, not going to happen. I have complete diplomatic immunity.” It was one of the few perks of being the Sun-Speaker. Like all the other perks, it only worked occasionally.

“All immunities have been revoked due to your death.” I could hear the man on the other side chuckling.

I set the coms to receive only and Janet asked, “What now?”

“Short jump into a field on the planet.”

“No one has ever been stupid enough to attempt a jump onto a planet. If you’re off by a billionth of a calculation we’re embedded into the bedrock of the planet. Can’t we just use your teleporter?” Suzie sounded panicked.

“Sorry Suzie, using the teleporter would be messy this time.” Matter teleportation was highly experimental and teleporting living matter only worked once in a million times. Being a prophet meant I could make the odds a little better.

“Trust me,” I said reaching out and gently massaging her shoulder. “Everything will be fine, we’re too pretty to die.” I winked and activated the Alcubierre Drive, better known as the Jump Drive.

“Where’d they go?” The voice from one of the battleships asked and I cut the coms. We’d made perfect jump, more or less. We’d landed in a tall field of grass about a little closer to the city than I would have liked, but they didn’t really need that overpass did they?

“Hal? Is that your ship parked next to my house?” The coms picked up short range radio frequencies, and this one was coming from the building next to the ship.

“Hey Adric. How’s life?”

“You’d damn well know if you ever sent an email!” Adric didn’t sound amused.

“I’m a prophet. I know either way. I was just being polite. Are you coming or not?” The only answer I got was the hatch door opening and closing.

“We have several police and two fighters on their way to us, I hope you have a plan,” Suzie sounded like she wanted to throttle me. I think it’s the way she says she cares.

The controls told me that the engines needed a half hour to recover from the last jump and that Adric had closed the hatch door.

I turned my chair around and when Adric walked in, I stood up shakily. I gave the boy a big hug and said, “Welcome to the crew.” I let him go, the hug had given me the chance to check his health with my telepathic abilities and make sure he didn’t have any weapons.

“Adric, this is Suzie, security expert, and that’s Janet, medical prodigy. Ladies, this is Adric, mechanical and computer genius.” I introduced everyone and Suzie just scowled. Adric’s mouth gaped when he saw Janet and she had the nerve to blush. I hadn’t seen this coming.

“Adric, the engines need twenty five minutes before we can jump again, could you check and see if you can shave some time off that?”

“Sure boss!” he said semi sarcastically and winked at Janet.

When he’d left, Janet said, “He’s pretty.”

“Doc, he’s a fourth your age,” I warned.

“Only if you’re into the tall skinny pale underwear model type,” laughed Suzie ignoring me.

“I am I really am.” Janet also ignored me. I swear, I get no respect on this ship.

“Five minutes before the fighter’s on top of us.” Suzie said, getting back to business.

From the engine room, Adric said, “Nice stuff down here Hal. I can give you jump drive in ten minutes.”

“Do better. I’ll try to outrun them.”

“Same old Hal.” Adric laughed. I didn’t offer him a job, and he didn’t tell me what had happened to him. We both knew the other one knew.

I lifted the ship off the ground. “Don’t shoot down the fighters.”

“What? But they’re coming in hot!” Suzie didn’t sound happy.

“Trust me, you want these two to live,” The fighter pilots were going to be the great-great-great grandparents of the first human to make contact with an alien civilization which would change the way we see the universe and ourselves.

We took several hits on our way out but I eventually got us out of there. Our jump took us to Mercury.

“I thought the funeral was on Venus?” asked Janet.

“It is, but we need some repairs and I need to pay off an old debt.” It wasn’t a complete lie. The ship had a doctor, a weapons expert, and engineer, now it only needed a pilot.

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