Applied Science – On a clear day…

I had heard it said that on a clear day you could see forever.

Well forever is a mighty long fucking time, and living in the negative times we lived in, it was hard enough to have to see as far as next week and if forever looked as bad as it looked now, why would anyone want to see it.

Sure enough that would be a reason for considering suicide.

But just for the hell of it I waited to see if it was true. I looked from the window of our sparsely furnished apt, and waited for a day that was clear. I had stopped going outside months ago. It didn’t seem productive. The air was polluted, the possibility of being exposed to some bacteria or virus that could kill you was great, and on top of that, it was just plain dangerous.

The year was 2055, and I had suffered many illnesses, lost two thirds of my friends and family, and now lived in a small two bedroom apartment. We had discovered the building some years ago. My brother had received an envelope with a description of the building and a package with the keys, combinations, and instructions for getting to and in the building. I had thought that it had come from a nut.

Then my brother was a scientist at a research company and he got lots of weird stuff from people in the mail. But he did not seem to think it was a nut or a joke and guarded the envelope like it was the key to some treasure.

When the difficulties had begun, he did not seem at all surprised and began looking for the building right away. It had two armored entry doors, it was smooth and uneasily scaled, with high sealed windows, and it looked as if it had been built to discourage access. In the times in which we currently lived I could see why, but it was hard to image why someone would have built something like this back in the 1970’s.

My brothers scavenged for food, and my sister and I tried to keep things tidy and sanitary,. which was hard in the filth the city had become. But survival depended on keeping things as clean as we could get them. The cabinets and closets had been filled to the brim with cleaners and disinfectants when we first arrived. I though it odd and assumed the person who had lived here must have been a real germiphobe. But my brother being the scientist had replied, “I doubt that, then they would have used them and the bottles would be empty. These were left here for us.”

I looked at him strangely, but shrugged and accepted his analogy, but how could anyone have known we would need them and why so much. Many days after, I began to appreciate the store of cleaners, especially when they began to get low and we had to find them outside. We boiled the water and collected cleaning supplies when we could find them. Occasionally running across a buried store of supplies in one of the used to be superstores that cluttered the metropolitan areas in the early part of the millennium. We found lots of things there. Dead things, half living things, and even valuable things. We’d bag up what we could find and take it home for sorting. Since I no longer left the house often this became my job. I would keep what we could use and then my brother’s would take what we didn’t need or couldn’t use and trade it with people who could.

On the day that dawned clear, I was cleaning a window high up in the building we called home. I watched as a large ball of flame swallowed up everything, and stood riveted as a storm covered the surface of the land as far as I could see. The last vision was an armada of ships, space ships. I covered my eyes and cowered as if they could see me.

Overcome with fear and despair, I was suddenly filled with the urge to throw myself from the window. Unfortunately at this height in this high-rise building the windows did not open. I slid down and remained sitting in that same spot until my sister returned. When she could not elicit a response from me she grew concerned, and when I finally did speak what I told her made her even more concerned.

“We are all going to die!”

“Yes one day we are all going to die, but not today. What the hell has gotten into you?”

“They said that on a clear day you could see forever so I looked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about but you’re going to lie down until the boys get back. I won’t have you falling apart now. We have too much to accomplish.”

When my brothers arrived I told them what I saw. My other brother, an ex-soldier, thought I was losing my grip or succumbing to some illness, but my older brother, scientist that he was knelt beside me and asked me to explain to him what I had seen. It was dark outside and I couldn’t show him and I didn’t know when there would be another clear day so I attempted to explain what I had seen.

He looked pensive and stood to look out of the window.

“On the next clear day you must show me where you were looking.” he said.

The other’s looked at him amazed.

“What it is?” my other brother asked, “Is there something to what she saw?”

“I don’t know yet, but I need to see to be certain.” My older brother replied.

It only took two days for it to be clear and sunny again. Which was odd since it had been many months since such atmosphere had existed. My younger brother and sister went out to handle the scavenging and my older brother stayed behind to stare into forever with me. We stood at the recently cleaned window, which I had wiped again to be certain I had created the exact same conditions as before. I pointed in the direction of the clear empty sky. For a moment we saw nothing and I began to doubt my sanity, but my brother stood stark still and waited. He was not disappointed, though what he saw was different than what I had seen two days prior. Today the fireball seemed closer, the super-storms had passed and the Armada seemed to be search for something.

My brother watched a good deal longer than I had been able and when he was done he was calm but pensive again. He took out his computer, which he reserved for emergencies. It ran on stored solar energy from panels we had collected from the roof of buildings no longer in use. He ran a series of calculations on it’s fancy scientific programs. The space into which we were peering was apparently some temporal time gap, moving in several phases, though none the immediate present. After a short time he looked up at me and said, “We have to prepare to leave soon. If we are going to be gone when that fireball hits we will need to be gone in two weeks tops, and far enough away not to be caught in the fallout. The storms are four or five months away.” he said.

He did not talk about the Armada.

In the weeks in which we prepared to depart, I stumbled upon a small cabinet we had never opened. Inside there were a variety of things which I took and put in a back pack. Several vacuum sealed candy bars, a fire arm with the shells, syringes, a list with suggested items to collect among which was antibiotics, first aid supplies, and an envelope with maps and coordinates. I gave the backpack to my other brother. He would most likely know what was to be done with it, and would be able to inspect and verify the safety of the firearm. It was sometimes a good thing to have around when you had someone familiar with how to use one. For others it was dangerous especially if accosted by someone with a desire to take it away. But being a sharp shoot had been one of the benefits of having military training. But hopefully we wouldn’t need it.

Were readied ourselves to leave. Our electric paneled truck had been outfitted to recharge with solar panels, as long as there was sun during the day we’d have power to drive at night. There was no way to be certain of the roads or what we would run into, but my brother seemed confident we would reach our destination no matter what difficulties we might face on the way.

If my brother’s calculations were correct, even if we missed the fire ball we would arrive in Kentucky just in time to find shelter before the storms. Even if we were lucky enough to survive the trip across county, and the coming super cells, my brother said we might still not be among those chosen to leave when the last of mankind were selected to be rescued from our dying planet. I was shock at his revelation.

Apparently the building had been a temporal window for several of the inhabitants of our apartment. The lucky few to understand and heed what they had seen would be there to assist us if and when we arrived. The others were now too old but had followed their directives to make certain the things we needed were in the places we were destined to find them. I shuddered to think now that I realized the gun had been left there intentionally. The person who left it had to be privy to some circumstance that mandated it’s necessity. They must also have known there would be someone who could use it. Because of my fragility, the candies had been included to help control my glucose levels. Though I was not diabetic, my energy was often too low to endure too many activities that required stamina. With maps to guide us and our path laid out for us, we looked upon the place we had called home. It was the last time we would see it.

It was a shame the building would not last the fireball, but it had, my brother believed, served it’s purpose. He never said how he knew this, or explained fully what it was he saw, but one thing was certain, we would arrive at our intended destination. Maybe worse for the wear, but we would live to see a future.

A clear day might have given a vision of what to look forward to, but it did not tell us how to survive to arrive there safely. My brother did not have all the answers, nor were they provided by those who had seen the visions before us. But if he applied all he had learned, and we used our brains as well as our technology, then maybe we would have a fighting chance to be among those who would be the remnant of our world.

What was the point of science if it could not be applied to survival?

Applied Science © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved


Couch Potato



My name is Mignon Celestia, and I am a Twenty eight year old neobotanist in a human colony on a planet called Arkellia. I’ve been here for the past five years, but before that I lived with my father on an Arkellian space station. I still live with my parents, which is amazing after all I put them through as a teenager. But after my experiences back then I learned to appreciate them, as well as a lot of other things.

Until I was 12 years old we still lived on earth. My mother and two thirds of the neighborhood called me minion because they claimed I behaved like the spawn of the devil. I was bossy, brash, rude, disrespectful, and a bully; and those were my good qualities. I was a glut, a couch potato, and like many of my human counterparts, I was addicted to carbohydrates, sugars, violence, and media. I preferred my video games, my computer, and my television to live company any day, sitting and consuming junk food.

“You had better stop eating like that or one day your stomach is going to burst.” my mother would tease.

It’s a wonder that I somehow managed to maintain a 4.0 grade point average in school. I wasn’t a dummy. I was mostly just bored out of my skull.

My father was a Neocryptologist. For those of you who don’t know what that is, don’t worry, I didn’t know what he did either. But apparently when I was fourteen years old he spent a lot of his time deciphering communications between alien arrivals (Arkellian) and the scientific community; which was a trip, because during that time no one had known that there was such a thing as alien arrivals. My dad’s primary job was keeping it that way. The government couldn’t be trusted with the responsibility, and the general population was too afraid of everything to even comprehend the importance of the Arkellian’s arrival at that time.

The Arkellians were there to determine if assisting earth with space travel was prudent since humans seemed to have the nasty habit of polluting and destroying their own environment. Species like that usually ended up as nomad class, little better than parasites moving from planet to planet because they couldn’t be trusted to stay on any one world too long for fear that their abusive habits would destroy the host planet. There were others, whom the Arkellian and other important races of aliens kept strict control of every facet of their lives, everything from breeding to eating.

The Arkellians were a very conservative race, they didn’t believe in any form of waste or debauchery. For every ounce of energy used or resource gathered it was required for there to be a replacement. You couldn’t just cut a tree and plant one, you had to have a plan to regulate the level of oxygen replacement while the new tree grew, calculate the solar damage being done to the surrounding area, and even account for the use of every part of the tree from the leaves to the trunk. Everything had to be used. They were this way about everything; water, fuels resources, power and energy, even food.

The Arkellians had come to monitor our behaviors and attempt to teach us to improve our interaction with the planet. They knew it would be some time before we were able to develop the technology necessary to leave our own solar system so they ventured to our world to attempt to augment our thinking to a more planetary one.

It was during this time that I had decided to become a nuisance at school and began spending the majority of my days in the principal’s office. My mother’s solution to this was to send me to live with my father. They were still married so I didn’t understand the need for them to live separately. I loved my father, which might have explained some of my behavior. On the day selected for my move my father sat me down and explained that I would be experiencing something new and that it would be necessary for me to be on my best behavior. In most cases my best didn’t measure up to even the worst of others. I didn’t know what he expected of me.

Twelve hours later I was escorted to a very clinical looking facility. I was given a complete physical, a series of inoculations, given a uniform like my father’s to wear. The suit was made so that all of my bodily functions were monitored.

“My god,” I said, “You’d think they were prepping me for space travel.” I laughed.

My father held his comment until we had reached a room that looked like isolation chambers. He opened the tube and walked in. I followed innocently. When he stood facing me in the tube opposite and had closed the doors he said, “They are.” It was the last thing I heard.

I beat on the glass and screamed, but the effort was wasted. The tube filled with an almost foam like substance which later solidified to a gel like consistency. I could breath but I could not move. He couldn’t hear my screams, his own tube was preparing for departure. In moments we were both in a sleep like stasis preparing for real space travel. In the ship in which we traveled the trip would take months. It was not necessary for us to hurry and the Arkellians would make the best use of the time teaching us and retraining our bodies.

When I woke on board one month later, my body had already been readjusted to the change in atmosphere, but the thing they had not adjusted was my attitude. I was angry and screaming. The young attendant, or at least I took her to be young, communicated my state by computer and moments later my father was escorted to my quarters.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were taking me into space, and who or what are these people?”

“They are Arkellians and they are here to teach us how to make better use of our planets resources.” He went on to explain the state of our planet, our predicament as a planetary race, and how imperative it was for us to change our way of thinking.”

By the time he was discussing our behavior I had nearly tuned him out. I was not going to spend the next six months letting alien creatures tell me what to do. At least that’s what I thought.

The first week I was belligerent, but there was nothing in the room if you wanted to call it that, that I could break. Everything was made of a soft indestructible material. It was comfortable to sit on and to sleep on, yet it was firm enough to serve as a table for my food and drink. Because of my behavior, that was all I got. Three meals with all the necessary elements of things required for taste, aesthetics and nutrition. That meant I hated everything, or at least I thought I did until I tasted it. After which I had a moment from the story ‘Oliver’ asking “please sir may I have some more.”

The Arkellians interpreted this as an insult. They had calculated what was necessary to sustain my ideal body mass, trim off my excess bulk, and provide me with enough energy to maneuver around the ship if I was ever lucky enough to be allowed out of my quarters. They could not fathom that I might want more than this. My meals grew smaller, diet smaller. Though they did not say anything they had made their point.

My father visited me on the second week awake and told me about the Arkellian protocols and way of life. I looked at him in amazement.

“You can’t possibly believe I’m going to deal with this for six months.” I said not wanting to overstep my boundaries too far. It was one thing to backtalk my mother and quite another thing to jeopardize my father’s job.

“I don’t see where you have much choice. Of course you could have behaved at home and not had to be here at all, but since that isn’t the case, I suppose you’ll have to make the best of it.” he responded.

It was like him to throw a jibe in at me when I had to suffer a mess of my own making.

“We are guests more than anything up here, if it’s possible can you try not to say or do anything else that might contribute to the destruction of the earth.” he smiled.

I kept hearing all this talk about wasteful species and failing planet, and all I could think of was how great it would be to watch TV and sit and have a pizza. It showed up, TV for an hour and a single slice of excellent pizza. It had never occurred to me that I had mentally called it up, or that my room was designed to provision me with whatever I wanted as long as I didn’t ask for more than was necessary. I learned this by accident.

“I’m bored. I want something interesting to do. My attendant arrived carrying a computer; powerful unlike any I had yet seen. She showed me how to use it and left. It’s desktop had four icons; develop your skills, cultivate interests, historical archives, and challenge your mind. I was intrigued by all except the history section, at least for the moment.

I didn’t have any skills yet, and I wasn’t in the mood for what I thought might be games, so I clicked on ‘cultivate interests. The ceiling became an amphitheater which displayed information about every item I wanted to investigate. When it discussed the cultivation of new plant life for developing planets I was struck. What was a developing planet? I watched as world builders created planets and different species beings worked to create plants to suit the atmosphere and provide for the inhabitants. I watched until I could barely hold my eyes open. The computer shut off automatically, announcing it was time to relax and allow my brain to regenerate.

I was too interested to be angry, and instead instinctively laid back, and asked for a blanket. In moments one was provided. I asked for dinner and it was delivered. I asked for apple pie and was given a slice. But then I pressed my luck requesting ice cream, chocolate and whip cream to put on top. The sensors simply responded that this was not a necessity. Like everything else the Arkellian designed, it understood the difference between a need and a desire. It accepted the idea that dessert might be an acceptable request, but would not allow me to exceed my daily bodily requirements. I could ask for whatever I wanted as long as it didn’t surpass too greatly what I needed but I didn’t get that lesson.

For the moment I decided I would behave so I might see the ship. No point being confined indefinitely to my quarters. I apologized to the attendant, and accepted what was given to me. I participated in requested activities, which they tried to keep interesting, but when it came to food I was never satisfied though I never asked for more again. I tried asking for snacks, but there was nowhere to stash things.

I was slowly diminishing in size. If my father noticed he didn’t say anything. The Arkellians were not fond of vanity, so there were no mirrors around for me to see just how tight and tone I was actually getting. By the time the ship reached the Arkellian space station I had lost the equivalent of 40 lbs which I might have noticed if the gravity on the station wasn’t slightly less/greater than earth atmosphere. Of course the uniform also covered a great deal of what used to be sins.

On the space station we were allowed our own quarters and my own things had arrived. I was stunned to see that none of my own clothes fit. My father suggested I learn to sew, or wear what they wore on the station. I didn’t think sewing would be a quick enough solution though I was not now adverse to learning new things, but I objected to the station uniforms thinking I would look fat and unattractive. All zipped up they were sleek and attractive and though I had not been concerned about it much before I felt pretty.

I attended school with the Arkellian children. They were smart and strong. Though I had no difficulty keeping up, which seemed to amaze them, my tendency to bully did not sit well. Arkellians could be fierce in a fight and I found myself pinned to the floor. The younger Arkellian boy bared his razor sharp teeth and said, “If you had done thus in the history of my people, I would have torn out your throat, but we are civilized, if you plan to stay here I suggest you learn quickly to adapt, or your survival may be shortened.”

I didn’t fight again, but after that I was sullen and ill tempered.

“When can I go back home?” I asked my father when he returned from work one evening.

“It will be some time before I go back, but your mother has asked if she may come here. The Arkellians have agreed to let her visit for one month. If you wish to go when she goes back you may.”

I didn’t like it at home when my father wasn’t there, but things were too different for me to stay here much longer. It took four months for my mother to arrive. She had brought a trunk of my favorite junk foods, but when she saw me she said, “Oh my, look at you so pretty, maybe I should have left this back on earth.”

I couldn’t wait to sit and consume everything she had brought with her. My father was concerned.

“That may not mix well with the way her chemistry has been altered here, maybe you should wait until I can check to see if it will be a problem.” he said.

“Oh for goodness sake, quit tripping dad,” I said reverting back to home behavior. I stuffed my face nonstop watching TV, then more while playing on the computer. I had adjusted to the time limiting of the technology, and found other ways to spark my interests, but food especially junk food was one thing I missed, and I was going to get my fill.

“I keep telling you, you shouldn’t eat like that, one day you’re going to explode.” said my mother

I stopped momentarily, her choice of words felt in some way ominous, but I did not stop eating for long. After an hour I began to feel ill. When it didn’t subside my father went to fetch the station doctor, but before he could return there was a loud rumble in my stomach and an explosion like a small explosive had been ignited and gone off inside a wet enclosure. Never mind that the enclosure had been me.

By the time my father returned I was unconscious. Bits of food and flesh covered everything. My mother was in shock; I was hurried to a stasis chamber and stabilized. My mother and father were both heartbroken. I was their only child and it did not look as if I were going to make it. The Arkellians felt sorry for me and made my parents an offer. They could return to earth and leave me on the station in stasis until such time as they could find a suitable way to let go of me, or they could take me to Arkellia and use available technology to save me. If they made this choice, I would never be able to go back to earth. Sufficient technology did not exist there to repair and maintain what would need to be done to save me. On Arkellia there would also be many other like me who had been in accidents or obtained injuries during conflicts and such, so I would not feel like an outcast.

My father could not bear to leave me. So both my parents sold everything they had, liquidated every ounce of financial holding they had and purchased materials and goods valuable to Arkellia, seeds, metals, medicine, and fabrics and in four months returned with everything to collect my body and travel to Arkellia.

A procedure was performed to give me a cyborg middle. Though I can taste food, I can no longer eat large amounts. I no longer have a stomach or digestive tract, I have a processor which breaks down small amounts and converts them into enough energy to maintain all my functions and the remaining flesh and blood parts of my body. Every day I am required to hook up to the mainframe in our home and allow it to run diagnostics on my systems to make certain they are running correctly.

I finished high school early and went to college with Arkellian girls to become a neobotanist. In the five years I have been on Arkellia I have learned and done more than I ever thought possible, but I sometimes miss the earth. In the history program on my computer I learned the fate of earth, which would in a very short time be destroyed during a galactic war and the survivors would be moved to a series of developed worlds which will have plants I have grown for it.

I looked up and grabbed a fruit from the small tree I had been pruning; I tasted the sweetest apple pear I had ever had. I cut the remaining pear in many slices and handed it to my co-workers. At home I would never have eaten any fruit with such relish, or at all if I was prompted, but now if I could I would finish the entire pear

Though the earth that I have grown up on will never exist again I will have the pleasure of knowing that I have grown plants that may one day make someone look back and long for home, or taste a fruit and think back to a time when they had a world that provided them with everything they ever wanted but gave up everything they had trying to get something they never really needed in the first place.

I guess someone should have told them if they didn’t stop what they were doing they were going to explode, but even if they had, they wouldn’t have listened, I never did.

Couch Potato © DJuna Blackmon 2014, All Rights Reserved

written-for-30 (3) copy


The Gathering Storm

Havari, introduction



The three ship escort arrived in Havari space, three weeks after we left what was left of Corva Prime. The Havari were preparing a new offensive now that the Hegemony was in disarray.

Rapacious, the Havari had chaffed under the Hegemony’s rules for the annexation of worlds. While they were barely members of the Hegemony, they were forbidden to take any planets that were part of Hegemony space. This meant they were forced to move away from the coreward worlds they preferred, and instead into the radiation-poor regions of the the edgeward planetary systems. When the news of the Insurrection reached Havari Secundus, they mobilized for a new war. A war where they might be able to annex new territories under the cover of anarchy.

The Havari living ships were already clustered throughout the sector, their energy signatures testament to their biologically-enhanced, self-contained singularities powering their star-drives. Their fleet was one of the few not dependent on the Galactic Gate Network, they could reach most of their close neighbors in as little as three months Standard.

My job was to convince them, not that it was an error to be preparing for war, but that their target was not Corva Prime or any of the Hegemony’s core planets but the approaching alien fleet hoping to take advantage of this moment of engineered weakness.

As we dropped into Secundus’ atmosphere, our ships were reconfigured for the thick, dust-filled air. Two dozen of their winged attack insect ships flew alongside and paced us in directing us where we needed to land.

I could not make heads or tails of the sensor data at first, the land scanning systems were having difficulties determining depth and visibility was low in the upper atmosphere. It was only once we got below the cloud cover did I determine why the land-scanners had problems. It was having trouble discerning hives from mountains! The Havari hive-cities were three to five miles high arches created from the rock of the mountains themselves. They were reputed to be hand-crafted taking hundreds of years to create and perfect.

They were a symbol of power for each hive who created one, such that each was unique, yet signifying a social order and social hierarchy rarely seen in the Hegemony. These were beings who believed in order and were organized through their hive minds to bring about the order they were seeking.

The Hegemony was right to be afraid. These were this sectors apex predators. With a taste for the grand, capable of building what they needed and wanted. And when they could, they would take what they wanted from anyone unable to stop them.

The Hegemony’s destruction of Havari Prime in the First Wars of the Hegemony would not make this an easy sell. We needed them as allies because we had enough enemies.

Truth of the matter is, if we cannot convince them to join us, what’s left of the Hegemony’s Corvan leaders, in their current, devolved state, will destroy every last element of this civilization to make their borders safe making the First Galactic War little more than a border skirmish. The fate of twelve billion sentients lie in my hands.

As our ships dock, my translator activates and my Human crew prepares to disembark. Nothing prepared me for the scale of the Havari. Insectoid, they stand three meter tall. Their armored limbs and insect-like heads are shiny black and covered with sharp spines. They have both simple eyes and compound eyes surrounding their heads. Their segmented bodies are beautiful and yet terribly alien.

There is a sound, a quiet reverberation underfoot, something like the sound of crickets, like a rhythmic breathing, growing louder and then softer. The air is filled with a panoply of scents some sweet, even cloying, others bitter, carrying the rage of the Havari with them.

“I am Essver Dream-singer, of the People of the Sjurani, son of Minru, son of Daor the Terrible, warrior-poet of Harata II, Sjurani Rex, mated to the nǚgōngjué the Glorious Pielienhis, Representative of the Great and Glorious Corvan Hegemony, representing the High Council of Worlds on Toranor.” This is one of the few times I am forced to look up at my hosts. My human cousins bow as deeply as I do.

“We are Hive Harak, representing Havari Secundus and the Confederate of Harani Star-systems. We greet you in the spirit of hospitality. That no arms will be lifted against you, no poisons shall be presented in any cuisine you may partake with us, no threat or ill will shall be directed toward you while you are a member of Hive Harak. We welcome you as Hive Brothers. I am Prefect H’al.”

Before I could even answer the generous benediction, two of the Harani flying overhead, all of whom I assumed were maintenance technicians of one sort or another wheeled about and dropped directly into the center of our group. Weapons were drawn and pointed at my delegation and the House Harak group drew weapons on the two intruders.

“You do not speak for all of Havari Secundus, Prefect H’al. Leave our world aliens, know that we are coming for all of the coreward worlds we can take.” He leveled his weapon and I realized we might all need to defend ourselves in the next few seconds.

I felt it before I saw anything changing. A vibration so powerful it silenced all other sounds in the room. The Harani standing around us moved back and then prostrated themselves on the ground. The two intruders backed up but did not lower their weapons, at first. Then the vibration sounded again and a shadow appeared above my head. I could hear the thrum of a huge set of wings and feel the backblast as the Harani landed in our midst. Black and golden with fiery red highlights, she was twice the size of the warriors who already towered over us.

She landed light as a feather and her giant wingspan folded neatly beneath her carapace. The two armed intruders dropped their weapons but before they could hit the ground, both were beheaded. Their heads were simply gone. Their black blood shot into the air as their bodies toppled backward.

The Queen turned to us, and still chewing she announced, “Now our negotiations can begin.”


Conflagration – Saga of the Twilight Continuum © Thaddeus Howze 2014, All Rights Reserved