Friday, November 6, 2020

A Question of Trust (3)


Previous The Bot Queen, vampire Cambris, and tha avatar of starship Orchidia convene to figure out a way for the ship to return to the future. Young Eric has been sent back to New York.

On the set of the Wicca Horror Show, the namesake diva paced peevishly about a bizarre trio. The two bot brains were doing most of the talking; something about the whole affair had Cambris in a dreamy state, with no more understanding of the technobabble that had Wicca. 

Producer Ed lounged on the set's red divan next to Commander Moast. Both savored beers while keeping a wary eye on the proceedings. First Officer Kyra stood nearby with coffee, looking ready for action.

Ed took a swig for courage. "Look here, Moast--are you in charge of this shootin' match?"

"Nominally yes. But Orchidia has altered her priority to self preservation. I can't make her do anything she feels is a threat to her integrity. On the other hand, that trait has saved us more than once."

The devious mind of the gold cyborg Queenie sought to draw Cambris out of her aloof superiority over the artificials. Calculating outrageous statement for maximum impact. "I sense a sexual tension between us."

It worked. Cambris drew up in wide-eyed amazement. "I?--with a collection of wires and springs?" Fangs came out, though no target presented save for super hard metal.

Undeterred, Queenie made a proposal. "Access to the starship will allow me to reroute the injector coolant circuit for chronotronic interphasiality." 

Only Orchidia could fathom a tongue twister like that. "Plausible, though unlikely to see us home. Projected rationale: you will take the ship to Pluto Station, hyperjump to a suitable star system, and rebuild your Bot empire."

Wicca interjected herself with a toast of her small chocolate gin bottle. "A gal can dream. You know, Vern?" 

Three sets of eyes considered, then quickly dismissed her. 

Cambris recovered her aplomb. "To sojourn among the stars. How I yearned for it on summer nights."

"The observation is relevant," Orchidia said. "My alternate hypothesis relies on your species' ability for transforming into mist." 

"Species indeed!" Cambris' pinpoint pupils fastened on another unlikely target in the amorphous hologram. "My husband was village alderman centuries before you were constructed from junkyard scraps."

Not programmed for cattyness, Orchidia found the statement nonsensical. "Your data set is flawed."

Wicca spread arms in a pique. "Borrrrring!" She put a finger to Queenie's neck. "They need your help, but you aren't going near that ship. Tell Orchid what to do. Remember what I did to you once?"

"Barbaric. You briefly regressed me to my humanoid origin."

"You were a huntress, a regular Peter Pan with bow and arrow. Then the Bots came. They sure didn't bargain for a type A overachiever like you." 

"Preparing interface," Queenie prudently decided. She reached out to touch the virtual fingers of Orchidia. A clear disk formed between them, on which schematics flashed with mind-bending speed.

"Wow," Ed mused. "That's kinda hot."

Moast had arms crossed. "Your diva is unexpectedly resourceful."

"She's an enigma, all right. Still hasn't figured out the urinals in the men's room, but she can engineer the overthrow of an empire."

"Assimilation complete." Orchidia rotated to face Cambris. "You may contact the hull in an envirosuit, under escort of Commander Moast. He will conduct you to a junction of limited opening, where your mist form will deliver the required part."

Moast sat forward with elbows on knees and brow furrowed. 

"Quite a situation," Kyra observed. "Orchidia must trust you, and you must trust the. . . .the one with the fangs, in a restricted space."

"Then let's begin," said a resigned Moast.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

A Question of Trust (2)


Previous The starship Orchidia accidentally reaches Earth in 2021. Seeking a way home, its commander identifies offworld technology involved with the Wicca Horror Show, and sets out for Hollywood. 

Commander Moast and his first officer had barely departed before two titan intellects began sparring. Orchidia came under intense scrutiny by hijacked satellites. The gold cyborg responsible was of demonstrably higher technology, but lacked the immense power available to a starship. Orchidia subjected them to rolling overload blackouts, which kept resetting the alien program in a non-terminating loop. She devoted a full second to analyzing every show from the franchise, especially those involving the cyborg called Queenie.

Assessment: evidence of long-term planning and brute force conversion. An unknown quantity exists via the subseries on Dracula Brides. Three, unnamed, appear in a period film. Cross reference with radio program of Derek von Halter, billed as a vampire hunter. Collating from Wicca Horror Show: Emmy, Cambris, Yelena, Mirjana. Portraits painted by Eric Harker. Accessing home address.

In Hollywood, a gold cyborg with a black punk 'do--courtesy of Wicca--tread heavily downstairs into the second-floor studio. 

It didn't sit well with the diva enthroned on a wing chair. "Queenie, who said you could pop out of your cubicle?"

"Alert: two crewmen from an orbiting warship. Arrival imminent."

The producer, Ed, set down his script copy. "Don't we have space weapons?"

"These are inordinately outclassed by the intruder."

Wicca stepped off the stage. "If this in one of your Bot ships. . . ."

"Negative. There is no Bot presence in this dimension."

Two people were shown in. One was a rugged type, the other a no-nonsense blonde. They looked a little out of place in L A, wearing casual hiking attire. 

"Alert. Particle weapons detected."

"Oh, we can't be having that." Wicca motioned for them to disarm. To their surprise, they came up with water pistols.

The woman squirted a few shots. "We hadn't thought you capable of transphasic conversion. Where is your emitter? I don't detect one."

"I'm not emitting anything," Wicca said. "Who says I am?"

The blonde indicated her partner. "This is Commander Moast. I'm First Officer Preston." She decided on Galactic Intro 6B. "Friends call me Kyra."

"What do you want me to call you?"

Kyra recovered smoothly until she glanced at her scanner. "Commander, this woman has no life signs. Are you reading this, Orchidia?"

"Confirmed," said the AI via comlink. "She is a fully preserved animated corpse. I detect an energizing force of high kinetic potential, type unknown."

"Just a little Outworld magic," Ed said. "She spent years finding and absorbing the five crystal skulls." He shook hands with Moast. "I'm Ed, and you can tell easy enough who the diva is. If you're like the gold one here, I reckon you're magic-challenged."

Moast eyed the cyborg. "We're from your future, here by accident. I don't suppose any of you have time traveled."

"Nothing to it." Wicca said. "I brought Queenie here from a thousand years ago because she was just too cool to kill."

"A costly mistake," Moast pointed out. "Are you aware your cities burn due to nanobot infection?"

Wicca turned on the Bot Queen. "I thought I had you neutered, missy!"

"If you mean spayed," Queenie said, "I was able to infect a cat before you corrupted my nanites with native force."

Ed shrugged. "Today a cat, tomorrow the world."

"Native force?" Kyra asked.

Wicca rolled eyes. "She's another unbeliever."

"What about you, Commander?" Ed shook hands again, forgetting he'd already done it. "Forget magic--I mean, what's it like in your time?"

"Thanks to your gold friend," Moast said, "Earth is one big video game playground where soldiers of fortune hone their skills. The uninfected live on Mars. And. . . .elsewhere."

Queenie faced him squarely. "You believe I don't know about your Pluto Station?"

"Regrettable," the AI said. "Her access to satellites briefly penetrated our peripheral files." 

Wicca leaned forward to address the unit on Kyra's hip. "Relax, girlie. Queenie's nanites--at least the ones still inside her--only do my bidding."

"Ladies--" Ed raised hands to interrupt.

They encountered another surprise when Eric Harker came in. The young college student was a long way from home. Ed and Wicca rushed to greet him, launching a flurry of questions. 

"Hold on," Eric protested. "I got kidnapped aboard a spaceship. The AI asked a lot of questions about the show, the Outworld, the Brides. Then she sent me here on a remote-controlled skimmer," 

"Accessing Bride One," Orchidia said. From Kyra's hip unit she sent an energy beam that unscrewed the top of a coffee mug on Wicca's belt. A mist flowed out, taking the white-gowned form of Cambris.

The vampire stared daggers. "Who dares to summon me?"

Eric came forward. "It's okay, Miss Cambris. These are some space people who need help getting home." 

Tearing her gaze from Moast's muscular neck, Cambris said, "I will see the one who disturbs my repose."

Orchidia's avatar materialized, a ghostly waif with a power crystal set in the forehead. She formed a very odd trio with Queenie and Cambris as they gathered for high-level talks.

Wicca's mouth went aslant. "Freak showwww. . . ."

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

A Question of Trust


The return hyperjump to Pluto Station was anything but routine. Orchidia's mission to the dwarf starburst galaxy NGC 4449 turned up little of profit; only a plant that could copy appearances, even human heads. Yet they arrived at a dark and deserted moon-sized sphere, not one bustling with activity. The logical course was a return to Earth for answers. During final approach, the AI switched them to stealth mode, making them invisible to observers below.

Commander Moast looked up from the tactical display. "Orchidia, explain."

"Problem: this is the year 2021."

That was a problem to say the least. "It explains Pluto Station: it hasn't been discovered yet."

First Officer Kyra methodically got down to cases. "The Builder portal  has a time-travel aspect it wasn't designed for. Orchidia, account for influencing factors."

"The dwarf galaxy inhabits the star cluster Canes Venatici. Its blue spectrum is indicative of metal-deficient stars of ancient origin. Theorizing: its hyper rate of star production has altered the enhanced dark matter content typical of dwarves, diverting the stellar stream from the Magellanic Clouds. The portal's quantum field generator--"

"Message received," Moast said. "The portal has a bug. The question now is how we get home."

Berl, the beefy helmsman, swiveled about. "If it helps, I'm seeing a lot of civil strife worldwide, especially in the U.S." 

"Ancient history," said bearded navigator Chet. "That was the start of the Cataclysm Wars."

That worldwide collapse of civilization gave rise to soldiers of fortune like Moast. His exceptional talent led to his being chosen as a starship commander by the Mars-based Consortium.

"Warning: scanning two anomalies."

Moast sprawled in the command chair. "Helm, transfer graphics control to the AI. Orchidia, we may have a unique chance to determine the cause of the insanity. Proceed with analysis."

The main viewer featured a human figure alight with thousands of bright dots.

"Violent anarchists and their handlers are infected with nanobots."

Moast traded a puzzled look with Kyra. "That technology wasn't available at the time. It suggests an offworld source."

"Collating a series of unexplained events. All are beyond scientific plausibility."

Kyra frowned. "If not scientific, that leaves the supernatural."

It caused the AI a rare second of hesitation. "There is no verification of the supernatural. However, I have used a matrix construct to locate the origin of these events."

Moast stared at the screen. A man with a goatee stood with a mischievous-looking woman and a large-boned man in a suit. At the end was a dwarf in logger's cap. He read the graphic. "The Wicca Horror Show?"

"I am scanning a super intelligence that has just become aware of us. The source is verifiably offworld. In addition, the dwarf and the female vibrate at different galactic frequencies compared to indigenous forms. They are not from this dimension."

Moast took a  moment to digest it all. "Are these people responsible for the wars? They must be stopped. Kyra, you're with me. We'll need clothing from this era."

"There's a bigger problem," Kyra said as they walked to the turbolift. "Can they or will they help us get back to our own time?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Stereo Pairs as Inspiration


We've seen stereo pairs before: you look "through" the screen until the two images overlap. That third image--in the center--will be in 3D.  Hint: look between the L and R at the top, then make them overlap. The view directly below will be 3D.  That places you right in the cockpit with Koenig and Helena. Now you're off and running with a fanfic adventure. If Space 1999 isn't your bag, there are other stereo sets you can do a search for. Harry Potter is one example.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Borga Lisa


Disaster! The Borg went back in time and. . . .well, you know.