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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Chronicles of Free & Stryker {Slipstream Dream Episode 4 of 4}

In the year 2304, sentient androids enslaved mankind, as well as many other humanoids throughout the galaxy. Over the centuries, pockets of resistance rose to oppose them. These are the chronicles of one such team, who even in the face of impossible odds, fight to free the galaxy.

Slipstream Dream Episode 4 of 4

Cecil seemed as if he was trying desperately to hold back tears as he spoke to Free and Stryker. He walked through the cargo hold of the Red Eagle, pointing out the seven hundred or so cryogenic caskets stacked in columns—taking as little space as possible. He rattled off the cargo information in a business-like manner, but every once in a while his voice would waiver.

“You can speak freely here,” Free said. “I don’t sense any potential problems.”

“I ran a technology sweep thirty seconds ago,” Stryker said. “We are good.”

Cecil wiped a tear from his eye. “I worked hard on this project for months, but I never thought that we—you could pull it off.”

“This was a team effort,” Free said.

“I daresay that you are the only agents that could have done it. If you need anything, just let me know.  I will be here on earth or the other occupied planets.”

“I do have one request,” Stryker said. “My family. I left them to escape. If I could just find them….”

“Say no more,” Cecil said. “I have your DNA markers on file. It will take some time, but I can find all of your relatives.”

“Thank you.”

“And you, Free?”

“The resistance is my family.”

“Understood.” Cecil shook his head and wiped his face. “I paid off a few androids. You will have safe passage off the planet, but unless you have slipstream capabilities, it will take years for you to reach the delta quadrant. I suspect that you are opposed to using an organic brain as a component to your ship. But I can steal a component from a Droid ship. After all—”

Free held up his hand. “No. It’s not necessary.”

“Don’t worry about us; we will have our brothers and sisters in the delta quadrant in two days’ time,” Stryker said.

Cecil smiled. “I see. You are using an ancient method to traverse the slipstream. That would explain all of the coffee. But it is very dangerous, which one of you is the pilot?”

“We both are,” Stryker said. “Free has the natural sixth sense that the Droids covet—”

“But that is no different than using an organic brain. The damage that it will do to his mind! Please, I can find another way.”

“Not necessary. Unlike most slipstream drives, Free only maps out the path. He doesn’t have to direct the ship’s control. For him it is like dreaming,” Stryker said. “I pilot the ship manually. For me it is like a fun nightmare.”

“Ah, I see, so it is a hybrid of the ancient ways and modern ways,” Cecil said. “Human ingenuity.” He shook his head. “Still dangerous. If you make a mistake….no, if anyone can do it, you can.” He extended both of his hands. Stryker and Free took his hands and shook them. “Peace be with you.”

“As with you,” Free said.

***

Just past Pluto, Stryker saw a blip on his monitor. It faded away like an electronic ghost. “You see that?”

“Yes,” Free said over the intercom. He lay in his navigational tube. “It seems that Cecil didn’t pay off the right androids.”

“Or free Organics,” Stryker said.

“Don’t even want to consider that,” Free said.

Stryker glanced at his weapon’s control. “If we didn’t have our cargo….”

“We are far enough to jump, let’s just get out of here. No need to take chances.”

Stryker downed a can of coffee. “Yeah. Initiating slip drive.” He pushed the slipstream clutch down; a gravimetric ball of energy fired and distorted space in front of them. A vortex opened up, its gravity pulling the ship helplessly in. Stryker reversed the engines and placed his right hand on the drive shift. The screen changed from actual space to a virtual version—Free’s mind. His dreamscape. The ship slipped into the virtual tube. Stryker gripped his controller, prepared to navigate the unpredictable thrill ride and smiled. “Sweet dreams, Free.”

The End 


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