Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (3)

It only took a couple of weeks till it all started to become nothing more than routine for Hans. Morning paper work and afternoon charters, lessons and certification testing – it didn’t take long for the days to start to blend together. Duke had been true to his word and hadn’t been an issue for him, but it was obvious that he still hadn’t earned his respect either. Therefore, it came as a surprise when Marietta knocked gently on his door one morning to tell him that Duke had asked for him to come to the shop to take a look at something.
Hans dropped everything and went straight to the shop. He was pretty sure that it had to be important if Duke was asking for him specifically. He arrived in the shop to find Duke and Jessup, one of the pilots, staring at a diagnostic display for one the larger commercial transport planes. Hans said nothing, but just walked up behind them to see what they were looking at. It didn’t take long for him to see what the issue was.
“Well now that’s interesting.” Hans wasn’t aware he had spoken out loud till Jessup jumped at the sound of his voice. Duke just grunted and turned to face him with a frown.
“Interesting isn’t my choice of words for this. Seen anything like it in all your years of experience?”

Hans ignored the sarcasm in the statement and stepped closer to the display so that he could manipulate it and get a better look at a few details. “I’ve seen something similar once, but not quite to this extent. Give me a second here.”
Duke and Jessup both stepped back as Hans worked with the display, bringing up a few different reports and asking the computer to do a few more scans for him. He kept at it till he was sure that he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. He tried his best to suppress the excitement that he felt rising inside as each new report confirmed what he had been thinking earlier.
“Where were you flying when the error first popped up?” Hans said as he turned to face Jessup, ignoring Duke for the moment.
“I was taking a short cut over the Mantou Islands. I know it’s not the usual route, but I was a little lower on fuel than I had expected. Client asked for a small extra side trip and I didn’t really think it would be an issue if I just took the short way back. I know it’s not an approved flight path, but…” Jessup let his voice dwindle down and looked away.
“I’m not going to fire you. We’ve all done something like that at one time or another, just don’t let me hear about something like that again. So did the issue present before, during or just after the islands?”
“Almost as soon as I was over the landmass, maybe a bit before. Everything just started going wonky.” Jessup didn’t bother to keep the relief out of his voice. He knew he had just dodged a bullet and he was more than eager to fill in any details now that he knew he wasn’t going to get fired.
“Okay, you do seem to know what’s going on here so do you mind sharing already?” Duke interrupted before Jessup could say anything else. It was obvious to Hans that he was annoyed. He wasn’t enjoying being left out of the loop on things.
“Thank you Jessup, that’s good. Go talk to Callie about getting a new craft for the next few days. It might take a bit before this one will be back in the hangar for regular use.” Hans deliberately ignored Duke knowing that it would anger him even more to wait. Once Jessup was gone, Hans turned his attention to Duke.  “It’s an error caused by a very specific type of magno-electric field. It’s very rare and I’ve only ever seen it once before when I was in the Armed Forces.”
“So this is a military thing then?” Duke stepped back closer to the display to get a closer look at some of the diagnostic tests that Hans had requested of the computer.
“No, not exactly.  That just happens to be the only time I’ve ever encountered anything like this before. It was a training flight on a remote planet that was still in its natural state. It was considered unsuitable for terraforming. We used it for target practice with new weaponry.” Hans tapped one of the scans that he had requested, bringing it to Duke’s attention. “This one is the big tip off here.”
“So what caused this magno-electric pulse and should we be reporting it to the authorities?” Duke stepped back from the display, scratching his chin.
“No clue, it was a singular occasion back then and I wouldn’t doubt that it would be so now. However, I would think that the authorities already know about it since they don’t want any travel over those islands already with the exception of emergencies. Just make sure the pilots are all aware and respecting this restriction.”
“Fair enough.” Duke smirked, “Looks like you’re proving yourself around here. System wipe ought to take care of the errors and I’ll run some more diagnostics and give her the once over myself.”
“Sounds good,” Hans gave the time a quick glance. “I have a lesson to do in an hour until then, if you need me, I’ll be in my office. Thanks for calling me over for this Duke.”
As soon as Hans was back in his office he pulled up the initial planet survey for the Mantou Island chain. He glanced at the clock, wanting to make sure that he had enough time to do what he needed to do. He read over the initial survey findings. Unique metal compounds and an extensive cavern system had been noted, but odd magno-electric readings.
Hans made a few notes about the island chains and glanced back at the time. He would have to put further research on hold, but it was looking promising. Very promising.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (2)

Hans walked into the hangar area to find the small staff under his command all huddled together talking quietly. He took a deep breath and approached them. This wasn’t going to be easy, but he had to be confident and in charge. He needed to show them all that he knew what he was doing, even if he had no clue at all.
“Good morning everyone. I’m Hans Beaulieu, your new supervisor. For those who don’t already know I learned to fly in the Armed Forces. When I retired I joined Global Space Tech as an instructor. I am certified in all planetary and space craft operation. This includes military craft as well. I have five years experience in flight instruction and flew in active service for five years prior to that.”
Hans glanced around at the faces before continuing, hoping that he was making a good impression on his new employees. All he got in return was blank stares. He smiled before continuing.
“I’m not going to be your stereotypical military hard-ass boss. I’m pretty fair-minded and I believe in efficiency and honesty. I’m looking forward to getting to know you all over the next few weeks. I know we have a busy day ahead of us, but are there any questions at all?”
Once again he was met was nothing, but blank stares. He noticed a few people giving Duke quick glances as though waiting for him to address the new boss. He made a mental note of those people, knowing that he would have to be careful with them down the road. They were most likely the ones that supported the idea of Duke as the boss.
“Alright then, Duke?” Hans waited patiently for Duke to respond.
“Yes,” he said after letting the silence between them grow to an awkward length.
“You were the interim manager before I was assigned here, if we could have a small talk so you could bring me up to speed on what’s what and who’s who around here, that would be great. I did take the liberty of double checking the schedules this morning when I got in so I believe your schedule is fairly clear right now?”
Although Hans phrased that last sentence as a question, it was really more of a statement. If Duke was going to play games with him and then he was going to give it a good go. He was used to people looking down on him for his youth, but there was no way he was going to let anyone get the upper hand on him.
“Sure.” Duke continued with the short and sharp responses. He was giving no ground to the new boss.
“Okay, I look forward to chatting with each of you later. In the meantime, my door is always open.” Hans didn’t wait for anyone else to say anything or to see if Duke would follow him. He just turned sharply and headed back to his office.
He caught Duke out of the corner of his eye as he stepped around his desk. He heard the door shut quietly behind him before turning to sit down and face what he believed was going to be his biggest challenge in this new position.
“Alright Duke, I’m asking you to lay it down for me. I’d like you to be honest and frank. Are you going to have a problem with me as your new boss?” Hans stared at him intently, really studying the older man for the first time.
He took in everything from the rough stubble and weathered skin to the semi-permanent sneer on his face. There was no doubt in Hans’ mind that the man across from him was going to be a tough man to deal with if he couldn’t find away to strike a deal with him.
“Frank and honest, eh?” Duke scratched his chin and gave a quick glance to the ceiling. “Right then.  I’m not overly impressed that the company sent some as young as you to take control of the location. I’ve been with them a long time and was originally under the impression that I was going to be given this position.”
“I can respect that, but is it going to be an issue? I need to know if I can count on you. You’ve been here since they opened this location a few months ago. You’ve got the feel for this place and you know the people. I very much respect your experience here and I don’t want to step on toes. I didn’t ask for this transfer, but I wasn’t going to turn it down either.” Hans leaned towards Duke and extended his hand across the desk.
Duke started at for a moment before taking it and shaking. “Can’t say that we’re going to be best buds, but I’m here to do a job. I’m going to respect your honesty, but you’re going to have prove yourself as a boss to me. That’s just how it is.”
“Understood, now anything I need to know to keep operations going smoothly here? I don’t need there to be any hiccups with this change in leadership.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, it should be pretty routine stuff. Although we’re getting pretty busy since there is really no way around this planet without a pilot and there just isn’t many people here beyond us to get people places. So there more chartering and less lessons than there would be where you came from.”  Duke gave the same non-committal shrug that he had been using earlier this morning.
“I noticed that and it was expected on a frontier planet, especially with the heavy mining on the moons. I did take the time to study up on this planet and the system it’s in before coming here.” Hans smiled politely. “Thank you Duke for your honesty with me and just so you know, I would like to keep you as an assistant manager of the facility. It’s not what you wanted, but it’s the best I can do.”
“It’s the smart thing for you to do.” Duke stood up and walked out without waiting to be dismissed leaving Hans a little unsure still of where he stood with this man. He had done the best he could in damage control and a part of him wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough.
“Alice, did you make a record of that conversation?”
“Yes. All conversations are automatically set to be recorded and stored unless otherwise directed to do so. These files will be stored locally for up to one standard-t year before being archived to the main server.”
“Thank you Alice. Please show me my schedule for today.” Hans glanced over the display and frowned at how light it seemed. He knew that this position would bring more administrative work with it, but he had been hoping to get out of the office and into the air a little more often. He made a note to talk to Marietta about booking him out a little more once he had settled in.
He had a couple of hours before his first customer for the day, in the meantime there were inspection reports to sign off on and requisition and special request form to go over. He wasn’t a fan of paperwork, but it was one of those necessary evils of any job. He could bear with it so long as he got to fly often enough to feed his soul.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I had a nightmare...

I am not one of those people who often dreams - or rather, if I do dream I rarely remember. However, last night I had a dream that I could remember. It was a nightmare actually because I what I remember the most this morning is how scared and how incredibly sad I felt.

It was a simple dream. I dreamt that there was this darkness in our shadows and this darkness was a reflection of our souls. I was watching as shadows became darker because of this infection. It was spreading and getting worse and all I wanted to do was find a way to fix it - to cure the infection and rid the shadows of darkness. Instead, it kept spreading and I could do nothing, but keep running away from it... And in my dream I was so distraught that I was crying as the darkness closed in on me.

And, I have a feeling that dream says a lot about the person I am.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH.1 (1)

I'll admit the first chapter or two are pretty rough. I do think it gets better as I settled into the story and get to know the characters better. I wrote this from a prompt given to me by The Capillary and wrote without any plot and only a general idea of where I was going. It was certainly an interesting NaNo writing without a plan, but this is the result of my month long journey.

Hans glanced around at the barren landscape that surrounded him. It was hard to believe that this part of the planet had already been terraformed. He did his best to hold back his opinion of this planet until he had seen more of it, but at least it was a step in the right direction. His own centre to be in charge of, it was a big step up even if it was in a place as remote as this one.
It didn’t take him long to collect what he had brought with him. All of the bigger items had already been moved into his new place by the company. With no issues at customs, he walked into the greeting lounge and looked for a sign with his name.
“Hands Bowlow…” Hans shook his head and sighed as he walked toward the gentleman holding the sign. He tried his best not to read into it, but he couldn’t help but feel slighted. He expected there to be issues, but he hadn’t expected anyone to be so forward about it.
“Hello, I’m Hans.” He didn’t bother to smile. It was purely business, he would worry about making friends later – right now it was all about getting the upper hand. He didn’t want his new employees feeling that they could walk all over him just because he was young.
“Riiiiighht.” He drawled the word out as he gave Hans the once over. “This way then, sir. I suspect you’d like to go right to your residence?”
“Yes.” He didn’t really want to go see his new place yet. He was more excited to see his new work area. He had been told that it would be state of the art despite being on a frontier world. Global Space Tech had assured him that it was only a matter of time before Cantun became a trading centre for the outlying expansion worlds.
As the landscape whipped by Hans found the need to re-evaluate his opinion of this world. It wasn’t near as barren and boring as he had originally thought. Mountains soared, dark blue against a purple tinged sky and he longed to explore them. There wasn’t much for vegetation outside of the occasional cultured park, but it wasn’t as bad as he had thought it would be.
His own residence, when he was finally dropped off, was considerably larger than he had grown used to on more populated words. It was definitely one of the perks of moving to the edge of civilization. Even by civilized standards it was a nice domicile – all of his stuff still waiting to be unpacked.

Hans was relieved to see that no one had tried to unpack everything for him. It would have been nice to have come into a place that was all ready for him, but he preferred to have it set up the way he wanted. He had never been too keen on other people touching his stuff.
It was late, by local time and Hans had to admit that he was pretty tired. Unpacking could wait till another day. He watched as the dual sun slipped behind the mountains and alien stars came into view. This new place was going to take some getting used to, but Hans also knew that that was the least of his worries.

Hans stood inside the massive new hangar, staring at the various crafts that were now his responsibility. It was finally sinking in that he was the boss, not just a lead instructor, but the number one go to guy for all the instructors, pilots and mechanics in this facility. It was a huge responsibility and he almost began to doubt if he was actually ready for this or not.
“That just won’t do.” Hans mumbled to himself and tried to shake the thought out of his head. He was going to be just fine and he could handle this.

“What just won’t do?” A familiar voice drawled. Hans turned around, surprised that anyone else would be here so early.
“It’s not important.” Hans smiled and held out his hand. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were actually an employee the other day or I would have made a proper introduction.”
“Duke.” He shrugged his shoulder slightly as he said it and glanced down at the proffered hand, but didn’t take it.
“Okay then.” Hans lowered his hand, but kept his smile firmly fixed in place. “Nice to officially meet you Duke. So what do you do here?”
“Mechanic.” Once again the statement was accompanied with a shoulder shrug as though Duke wasn’t at all committed to what he was saying.  
“I see…” Hans wasn’t exactly sure what else he could say to this man. Just like his misspelled name, it seemed like Duke was making his dislike of his new both well known without actually saying as much. “Well it was good to meet you Duke.”
Duke nodded and walked away leaving Hans alone in the hangar again. He took a deep breath and searched for where his office would be. It didn’t take him long to find the door marked ‘Manager’. He pushed it open. He walked around the desk and threw himself into the chair as the computer came to life, acknowledging is presence.
“Good morning, sir.” It was the nicest thing that had been said to him since he had arrived here and it was an automated system that was responsible for it. “My name is Alice and I will be your personal assistant here.”
“Good morning Alice.” Hans tapped his fingers idly on the desk, trying to phrase his first query properly. “Can you give me a list of all current employees at this posting?”
“Yes, sir.” It was less than a second before the entire list was displayed in front him. He glanced down the list till he found the one name that he was familiar with – Duke Willis. Reaching out to touch the name, it expanded into a full bio about him.
Hans gave it the once over and stopped halfway through to read it in closer detail. He had known that this centre had been open for a few months before his arrival, but he hadn’t known that Duke had been the interim supervisor for this centre. It explained a lot about his animosity. It was more than likely that he had been expecting to be given the permanent position, not some young off-worlder.
He worked his way through the rest of the profiles for his employees. I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to have an issue with any of the office staff, but a lot of the instructors and mechanics were probably going to be loyal to Duke. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but Hans was determine to make the best of it.
It wasn’t until someone knocked on his door that he finally looked up and realized that more time had passed than he had thought. He had been so absorbed in learning about his new staff that he had managed to lose track of the clock. It wasn’t normal for him to do so, but this was a brand new situation.
“Come in.” Hans waved the display closed and looked up to see a older woman opening the door to his office. She was smiling, but it seemed like one of those professional smiles that meant nothing. It didn’t reach her eyes, but then again, he was the new boss and no one knew him yet.

“Hi, I’m Marietta. I’m your front desk staff.” She stood unsure in the doorway as though she wanted to make a quick escape.
“Hello Marietta. I was just going over the employee profiles. Is everyone in today?” Hans smiled politely, trying to seem as though he was confident in what he was doing. In truth, he had no idea what he was doing, but he wasn’t going to let anyone else know that.

“Yes, they are.” She smiled a little more naturally this time. “Did you want to meet everyone in person?”
“Definitely. If you could get everyone together in the hangar area for me that would be great.” Hans watched Marietta wander off, leaving the door open behind her. He waved the display back up and made a few notes in a file for later. There was still a lot that he needed to know about his new staff, but it would have to wait.