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RPG - The Sixty: Journey of The Fortune
In the same year that Abraham Lincoln freed American slaves, an asteroid, which had previously been knocked out of orbit by a comet and sent into a slow spiral towards the sun, had a close encounter with Mars. It missed the planet by several hundred thousand miles, but the gravity of Mars swung the asteroid into a faster, steeper descent.
The asteroid would never reach the sun. It had another stop to make.
* * * * *
“They can’t just sit around, though. I mean, they’re trying something, right?”
“Yeah, they’re trying something all right. They’re calling it Mayflower. That’s fairly pathetic. Mayflower? They had two weeks notice. What do you think they’re going to do in two weeks, build themselves a brand-new ship? They’re hauling some tired old shuttle out of mothballs, tacking on every half-tested bit of quack technology they can find – I mean, solar sails, hibernation, anything lying around in somebody’s lab. They’re gonna tack it all onto this shuttle, load it up with people, and shoot them off into space.”
“And they’re going to blow up the asteroid?”
“No, Hamster; they’re going to go floating off through space like some lost lifeboat. That’s the big plan. That’s it. That’s all they’ve got.”
* * * * *
The shuttle was visible from miles away. It was lit up as garish as a gas station at night. It looked like a jumbo jet strapped onto a pair of spindly rockets and an odd, outsized, rust-red fuel tank bigger than the orbiter itself. This jury-rigged craft seemed then to have been leaned against what might have been a gravel factory.
At the best of times the space shuttle looked like something put together out of spare parts. Now it seemed positively trashy. A vast piece of junk, all lit up by spotlights, blotting out the stars. They had chiseled away most of the heat tiles: no need. There would be no reentry.
* * * * *
“We’re going to go ahead and light the candle.”
And now the rumbling of the ship grew very suddenly. Far below, the fire was lit. It exploded downward and outward and billowed up in a geyser of flame and smoke. The tired, overburdened old space shuttle carrying the Mayflower mission lifted up from the pad.
* * * * *
“See this?” the commander asked, pointing to a readout on the overhead console. “That’s the solar sails.”
“The readout’s blank,” Jobs said.
“Yeah, nothing. No feedback. Could be the readout is just malfunctioning. Could be the processor, or a software glitch. My guess: wire’s been severed, which means they don’t deploy. Which means if this ship doesn’t crash into something in our solar system, it’ll drift through it at a very leisurely pace.”
“We would need an EVA. Someone would have to go out there and literally pry open those pods. There’s supposed to be a manual release there: a crank you can turn, cranks them right out. So they tell me.”
Jobs said, “Maybe we should try that.”
“It’s a two-man job. Worse than that, it’s a tight space; no room. You’re small enough, maybe, but we’d need a second man, small as you.”
“I have a friend,” Jobs said.
Willett looked intrigued. “Would he do it? Go outside, I mean?”
Jobs smiled. “If I didn’t take him he’d kill me.”
* * * * *
“You’ll need to loosen all the bolts holding the sheath in place. Cast the sheath off. This is important: Don’t throw it forward or back, throw it away from the ship.”
“Under the sheathing you’ll find the sails coiled up. It’ll look like a big wad of Mylar; crumpled-up foil. Supposedly, once you crank the ‘mast’ all the way out, the sail should spread out on its own. Like I told you, the calculations – such as they are – call for the sails to be fully deployed prior to escaping orbit. I don’t know how critical that is. Figure we should do our best.”
* * * * *
They pushed the sheath away. Jobs squeezed his arm and shoulder and part of his upper body into the tight gap between the folded mast and the outer shell of the shuttle. Mo’Steel had to squeeze in beside him to hold down a latch-pawl to allow the crank to turn.
Jobs turned the crank once. Twice. Almost impossible to get any leverage. He was eating up time and he knew it. But the gloves were bulky and way too big; the space too tight.
He turned again and again and nothing happened.
* * * * *
At last the crank stopped. The sail was extended.
They jetted quickly over to the right wing and removed the sheathing. They squeezed themselves into place and started to turn the crank.
* * * * *
“Why is nothing happening?” Jobs shouted into his suit. He had worn himself out turning the crank as fast as he could, and watched as Mo was doing the same thing. Yet the mast hadn’t extended one bit. The sail still remained coiled up in its cubbyhole.
Jobs looked around the apparatus and noticed something he hadn’t noticed before: two small bullet holes just above the crank wheel.
Oh no, he thought.
He nudged Mo to get his attention. “Mo, look,” he said, pointing at the two tiny holes in the hull. “The bullets must have somehow shattered the crank mechanism.” He spun the crank a few more times, and got exactly what he assumed: the same response. The sail hadn’t budged one inch.
“Three minutes to burn, gentleman,” Willett radioed in.
Jobs keyed his mike. “Um, Commander? We have a bit of a problem. The right wing crank is busted. It won’t open, no matter what we do.”
Jobs noticed the long silence on the other end, before finally hearing Willett give the only answer he could come up with. “Well, maybe one sail deployed will be enough. Come on in, boys. There’s nothing we can do.”
* * * * *
Jobs and Mo’Steel braced themselves in the cockpit as Willett fired the rockets. The orbiter’s engines exploded into life. No smoke, no roiling cascade of superheated gas, just a jet as neat and symmetrical as a gas stove.
Jobs and Mo’Steel were slammed hard downward. Suddenly there was a downward. Suddenly there was weight as well as mass.
The acceleration seemed to go on forever. Jobs noticed, however, that the ship wasn’t accelerating in a straight path. It seemed curved; stilted. And I know why, he thought. We needed that other sail.
And suddenly, all at once, it ended.
Willett turned to Jobs and Mo. “You boys okay?”
Jobs nodded. “I’m fine.” He turned to Mo and noticed the biggest grin he had ever seen on his face. Mo turned to Jobs and almost giggled. “Okay, that beat the Pipe.”
Willett checked a number of readouts. “Well, that could have gone better. Our velocity is only two-thirds of what it should be. Not only that, but our trajectory is completely off; the one sail misbalanced the burn and twisted the ship’s course. We accelerated at an angle instead of straight on.”
Jobs didn’t want to ask, but he did. “What does that mean?”
Willett looked like a dying criminal. He turned to a graphic chart and muttered, “It means we don’t go flying off into outer space. We won’t be able to escape the solar system.”
He keyed in numbers into a computer as he said what Jobs knew must have pained him to say. He saw Mo looking at the readout and knew his buddy’s mathematical prowess was at work.
Sure enough, Mo quipped in. “And if that wasn’t bad enough, if we keep our current course...” He pointed to a diagram. “We’re going to crash into Venus.”
* * * * *
News of the Mayflower’s failure sent a shockwave through NASA. A select few, however, reacted in just the way they had planned: sending crews and faculty to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base to prepare NASA’S failsafe: The Fortune.
The only other ship outfitted with hibernation technology available.
It would have to do.
* * * * *
The Fortune was the same make of space shuttle as the Mayflower, which made outfitting it rather simple. Solar sails were shipped from Houston to Cape Canaveral to be mounted onto the shuttle. The engineers responsible only hoped they would make it before the Rock hit.
They had one day.
The same hibernation technology used on the Mayflower was brought in for the Fortune. However, the company didn’t have enough berths manufactured for both ships. They weren’t even aware there was a second ship. No one was. No one needed to be except for the crew and passengers.
The Fortune’s hibernation compartment had room for sixty passengers. Twenty less than the Mayflower. Unfortunately, the company’s remaining hibernation berths only took care of 44 of them. What was to be done about the other 16, no one knew. No one cared that they would undoubtedly die within a century, leaving 16 skeletons on the ship for whoever survived the voyage, wherever it may end. They decided to add those 16 nevertheless. They had some little hope that they might have a purpose. No one wanted to think about it.
Now, with everything that could be done having been done, the Sixty were selected, from random families, from more people NASA and the government owed favors, from pretty much anyone that could be found.
Now all that was left to do was round them up, and send them on their way.
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 11.26.05 09:37:09 AM
The wind rushed through Raven’s raven black hair as she wove around the neighbourhood on her bike. But despite the usual freedom she felt when she rode, something felt amiss today.
Just as she arrived on her cousin’s doorstep she noticed an empty feeling of the house. She decided not to take note of it – her parents had always claimed she was too paranoid about things so she was resolute not to listen to her instincts. She ditched her bike at the tree as usual and stepped onto the porch.
Tap. Tap. Her knocks on the door resounded, echoic and hollow. She didn’t like the sound of that but ignored anyway. To her complete surprise the door swung open, revealing the cold emptiness of the house. That was odd – Aunty never left the door unlocked when she left the house, for she was far too obsessed with safety to do so.
“Hello?” she called out. Her voice sounded small and timid. Gingerly, she stepped into the house.
Everything looked normal. The furniture was still there, the clothes were still there, and everything was in place. However, as she approached the office she gasped.
The computer, TV, DVD player, MP3 players, pendrives and radio/cd player had all been broken into pieces. Wires pulled out, chips broken, you name it. She fondled her cousin’s link – why would she leave it behind? She never went anywhere without it. Then again, no one did these days. Even Raven had to, on the order of her parents in case she got lost or something. When it came to that one, Raven thought they were the ones who were unreasonable but she didn’t refuse them.
Why would anyone do this to them? Who would want to hurt this family? Why would they break all the electronic devices? Questions like these spun around Raven’s head and she sat down. This time she was not being crazy. Something was definitely wrong here. Should she tell her parents? Or would they consider sending her to the mental hospital like the last time she said something lurid but true?
“Excuse me?” a voice said behind Raven. She jumped up a foot and spun around delivering a good kick to whoever was behind her in the groin. The man doubled over in pain, clutching the wounded area.
“Sorry!” she yelped. She had always been a tad jumpy. Another one of the reasons her parents thought she was irrational.
After a while the man stood up, slowly getting over the pain. Raven noted the black suit on the built up body and thought, He looks like an agent from the FBI or something.
A serious expression took over the man’s face. He said, “What are you doing here?”
“I was just going to visit my cousin!” she winced. She was alone with a very fit built up man whom she had just offended. Not good. Plus, he had a gun. “What are you doing here?”
“That is none of your concern.” he retorted.
Before she could bite back a response the man’s link rang. He answered it.
“Hello, Agent Corex here…. Yes, I am still at the location… WHAT?! It didn’t work! Dear god, that’s not good. What are we supposed to do now?… I see, I see…All right. Bye.”
Agent Corex looked very grave right now. He seemed to be shaking and his face had gone grey.
“Mr Corex?” Raven said tentatively and politely. She wasn’t too sure on how to talk to an agent. “Are you all right?”
“No, I’m not. It’s failed.” He put his head in his hands.
“Erm, all right. What’s failed?”
“The Mayflower Project.”
“It’s a ship fitted with hibernation technology with eighty berths for eighty people. They are going to be the last hope for mankind. An asteroid is going to hit Earth a day from now. Everything on Earth will die; everything will be destroyed. It’s too big to stop, too big to destroy. It’s too late to delay.” He seemed to be going hysterical.
Raven perked up at this. She had heard about this hoax of an asteroid from the radio, web and TV, but everyone had thought it was a joke. She wasn’t too sure whether to think it was significant or not; when she had expressed her concerns to her parents they had simply laughed it off. However, the secret agent before her was going panic-stricken about it.
“Do you mean the one from the news that everyone is talking about? The one everyone thinks is a joke?”
“Yes. But it’s not a joke. It’s deadly serious. The Mayflower Project was our last hope but it all went wrong. It was blasted into space with eighty people, but it’s bound to crash into Venus. And no one can survive in Venus.”
“Okay.” Raven had heard something like this from the media as well. Something about a Noah’s Ark of people being shipped off into space.
“My girlfriend was on that ship.” He sobbed. “Now she’s dead.”
“Oh. I’m so sorry.” Raven didn’t know what to say. She had never known what to say when people were upset so she just said, “So what are you going to do now?”
“NASA is going for Plan B: The Fortune. It’s got the same hibernation technology in it as The Mayflower Project but it only has sixty available booths in it.”
“They are inviting me on board but I don’t want to live anymore. Miranda is dead, there is no reason for me to live anymore.”
“Why are you in my cousin’s house?”
“We were told to secure the locations of The Eighty’s homes too make sure nothing would go wrong and no one would notice anything. Your cousin was one of The Eighty, along with her family.”
“So she’s dead?” Raven gasped. She was shocked at the revelation her Aunty, Uncle and cousin were all about to die. She didn’t like her cousin too much but she knew she was tough and could survive anything, even the worse torture in hell.
“Yes.” Agent Corex then perked up. “What’s your name?”
“Raven. Raven Hwang.”
“How would you like to board The Fortune?”
Posted by Brant on 11.26.05 01:58:53 PM
“Roger Dodger, open up!”
Noah Rosetti sighed and stopped pounding on the door of Roger's apartment. Roger Dodger either wasn’t home or was avoiding him. Why would Roger be avoiding him when they had planned this trip weeks ago and talked about it almost everyday since?
Noah Rosetti pulled his shiny, new link out of his pocket. “Link: Call Roger.”
“Unable to complete action,” said the voice of…Giuseppe Garibaldi? Mom must have been tampering with it again. Is that why it couldn’t contact Roger, or was something else wrong?
“Stupid link,” said Noah Rosetti, and he threw the link onto the ground. It broke into two pieces.
Noah Rosetti decided that nothing could be accomplished by staying at Roger's apartment, so he walked back down the crowded city's street two blocks to his house and placed his palm on the biometric hand reader. The door opened, and Noah Rosetti walked in.
“I’m home!” Noah Rosetti yelled, his voice enchoing through the whole house.
His father, with a rather demanding figure, walked down the stairs with a puzzled expression on his face. “Weren’t you going to the Empire State building with your friend?”
“We were supposed to, but they’re not home! I even tried calling Roger Dodger on his link, but something was wrong!” Noah Rosetti reached into his pocket to pull out his link but realized it wasn’t there.
“What happened to your link?”
“It, um, broke.”
“What? It couldn’t have broken. They are equipped with---”
“I dropped it.”
“Oh, you should be more careful. Go pick up a new one upstairs. There are some of next month’s models in the link room. Some of the new features include---”
“Can you call Roger’s dad and find out what’s up?” Noah Rosetti yelled as he ran up the stairs to pick out a new link.
Two hours had gone by, and Noah Rosetti knew something was wrong when his father walked into his parents’ room, where his mom had been resting, and slammed the door.
Noah Rosetti crouched onto the floor and aligned his right ear with gap underneath the door so that he could hear what they were saying.
“We’re going to have to leave tonight,” Noah Rosetti heard his father say.
“Clarice, Reed! We’re not leaving without our daughter,” the voice of Noah Rosetti's mother demanded.
“But she’s--- right. I’ll call the Florence Travel Agency.”
“Link: Call the Florence Travel Agency.”
“And she BETTER be home tonight, or we’re not going.”
“Shhhh, they’re talking...No, we’re not interested in purchasing a vacation...That’s nice and all, but we don’t care. We need our daughter back home...She’s with the -- what’s her school, Virginia?”
“Bishop Kearney High School.”
“She’s on a trip with the Bishop Kearny High School. Her name is Clarice Wagner...Yes, that’s her...It’s a family emergency. We need her back home tonight...We don’t care. She’s coming home tonight...Thank you. Credit card works...Alright, goodbye.”
“See, Virginia? It’ll be alright.”
The sound of footsteps approaching the door could be heard, and Noah Rosetti darted down the vast hallway to his room.
Posted by Luckie on 11.28.05 05:09:03 PM
Lori Grissom stepped out of her house. She looked up at the sky. The clouds hung low and a steady wind blew. Her parents were at work. Her mom was a Forensic Investigator. Her dad was a NASA scientist. She was fifteen.
She walked over to her Pontiac Accrue`. “Dang it. Mom must have taken the keys.” Desperately, she looked around. I guess I’ll have to walk.
Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning. The wind picked up. I knew I should have stayed inside. Stupid thunderstorms. Something hard fell from the sky and hit Lori. She looked around. The streets were empty. It hit her again. This time she saw it. Ice? Ouch. No…it’s hail?”Ouch.” She picked up her pace and ran down the street.
Two streets over were Jason and Olivia Nielson. Jason was Lori’s best friend. Both of his parents worked at NASA. Olivia was Jason’s older sister. Her boyfriend, Matt, was over. “Turn that stupid game off.” “But Oliiiiii. Me and Matt were just getting started.” “Jason, don’t complain to me. Do you hear that storm outside? I need the weather channel.” “It’s Florida. It always rains like this. You’re paranoid.” “I am not.” “Matt, tell her she’s paranoid.” “She’s not paranoid.” “Thank you Matt.” “Maaaatt. I thought you were supposed to be on my side.” “I am…I mean I-“ He was interrupted by the doorbell. “Who wants to answer the door?” “You two are so lazy. Don’t even bother getting up.”
Olivia went and answered the door. There stood a very wet Lori. “LORI?! Goodness. Are you okay?” “Settle down Olli! I just came to ask you guys something. Gosh, you’re so paranoid!” “See, I told you, Olivia!!!” Lori giggled. “I am going to need the TV. The news could be important right now, you know.” “Fine.” Matt handed Lori the remote.
The news… A very depressing thing. A newscaster reported: “The Mayflower Project has failed. NASA….” Lori tuned out. She stared into the abyss. Thinking of all the people that died. All the people that were going to die…
Then, her link rang. “Stupid thing.” She answered. “Hello? What? Is he okay? That’s good. The Fortune…what the heck is that? Like the Mayflower Project? Who else? What do you mean you don’t know? Dad? Daaad? DAD?” “Did he hang up?” “I think he did…” “Lori, what’s wrong? What’s the fortune?” Lori walked over to the window and looked toward the threatening skies. “I don’t know what he meant…”
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 12.09.05 05:17:31 AM
The glassy black casket was lowered slowly into the ground, the soul within it never to be seen again. Numerous men and women in black and grey who never knew her, stood around to mourn the lost one, a sort of vigil to her terrible death.
Hondo stood eerily still at the grave ceremony. He still couldn’t believe it. Cordelia dead? Impossible. What was even more unbelievable was that she died in the most awful way that was broadcast far and wide. Everyone knew about it. Everyone knew her name.
No one expects these sorts of tragedies to happen to people they know. No one. So Hondo was still in shock, even if he knew she was dead for at least a day now. It was extremely upsetting to have been watching The Simpsons and then CNN: Important News just pops up, showing some of most horrifyingly gory scenes ever. An amazing little stone that fell from the sky, destroying anything and everything where it hit. Buildings, cars and trees were blown to bits by the loud sonic boom it made, shattering anything in its path. Including people. Not even the little blurs CNN provided to shield eyes from the more graphic details couldn’t hide all the blood, guts, pieces and bodies strewn across the once popular city.
Hondo could see the camera quivering from fear. Then he heard a voice he recognized, muttering, “Oh, my god, all those people,” in a fearful voice. Cordelia’s? What on earth was she doing there? Then the camera dropped, and Hondo could see his ex-girlfriend, staring at the post that killed her, right before she died.
So that was why he was here today. He also felt guilty for going behind her back just before she died. I guess you don’t know how to appreciate someone until they’re gone, Hondo thought. I’m so sorry I made you cry before you left.
He looked up from the coffin and observed his father talking to some other business friends he didn’t know. His father insisted that he would come here. Fair enough – he didn’t know that Hondo and Cordelia had just broken up recently.
But there was something else on his agenda. How Cordelia died. That too was rational – she died in the most well known phenomenal way. However, Hondo could feel his father had a sort of business air to it, which was beyond reason, because his father, John Holowick, simply worked as a businessman doing trade overseas. Hondo couldn’t understand why he brought his colleagues here.
The men glanced around the area furtively and got into a sedan. John detached himself from the group and briskly walked up to him. He said, “Son, I’m leaving to do some business errands, okay?”
“What?” Hondo yelled uncontrollably. “Dad, we’re at a funeral! We’re supposed to be paying respects to Cordelia! You can’t think work is more important than this can you?”
That was part of why Hondo was going into hysterics. However, there was more to it. John always had to leave – which made Hondo’s relationship with his father virtually nonexistent. Over half the time it would be just him, his mother, and his older brother, Rex. The few things they did together were all he had – even if it was as depressing as a funeral.
“I’m sorry son but I have to go, this is imperative.” His father turned and entered the black sedan with his friends before Hondo could say anything more.
Hondo stared at the vehicle angrily and quickly made up his mind. He was going to follow him, see what more urgent than spending time with Hondo. Quickly, before the car drove off, he crouched low and slunk around to the boot of the car. It opened with a soft click! and Hondo rolled in, just as one of John’s associates drove them off.
As they drove, Hondo stared out at cars following him, trying not to focus on how cramped he felt. He wasn’t a small guy, but quite tall and lean. He was surprised that he actually managed to fit inside the trunk at all.
I hope that Dad does not catch me, he thought. Last time John did, was when Hondo was twelve and he had snuck out of bed to go to the toilet late at night. At that time, he father also had some of his ‘acquaintances’ in the study. Hondo was just about to sneak back into his room when he heard someone say, “This gun could kill a million in one go you know.”
Unfortunately, the door was locked and Hondo couldn’t get a peak of what was happening. So he tiptoed into the backyard to peak at what was going on through the window. The blinds were shut but he could see silhouettes of men and what looked like a gun.
Dad? With a gun? Impossible! he thought. John may have been slightly stiff around him but Hondo simply couldn’t imagine his father slaughtering someone with bullets. In fact, he was so transfixed by the shadows of what was inside he didn’t notice a man, who later claimed to be going out for a smoke, sneaking up behind him. His father convinced him that it was only a toy gun and that the man who said, “This gun could kill a million in one go you know” was just kidding around. Then he gave Hondo a long lecture about not listening on his private conversations and didn’t let Hondo use the computer, watch TV, go outside the house or do anything remotely fun for three months. Not enjoyable.
Finally the car came to a halt and Hondo heard the four doors open and shut as the passengers got out. He stayed in the car a little longer to make sure he wouldn’t be seen. At long last he got out and stretched. Then he looked around.
They were on a grassy hill. There wasn’t much cover around except for a few bushes and trees scattered here and there so Hondo would have to be very careful not to be seen. Up on the peak of the rise were the backs of the businessmen.
Hondo ducked around and hid behind a tree, close enough to run back to the car and within sufficient range so he could hear their conversation clearly. He was a professional at this, as he had done this before several times at school. He was smart enough to learn from his mistakes and more importantly, not to get caught.
“… Fragments of the pebble rained down here last night,” one of the men explained. “The farmers heard what sounded like hale at the same time the San Francisco area was hit. They discovered that they were fiery hot rocks. Some people have been injured, property damaged and some even dead. One bloke who was on a tractor got hit in the head with one. It went through like a bullet. As you can see, the ground is pockmarked with little craters.”
Hondo looked down. Indeed it was. There were little holes everywhere, filled with tiny rocks. He picked one up and examined it. A chill ran up his spine as he ran his fingers over it.
“We have a little situation here as everyone here is going into hysterics about it. We are here to control it.”
What on earth is Dad doing here? Hondo wondered. After all, Dad was just a simple businessman. Then again, it would explain a lot, like why he was always leaving on emergencies, why he was always so rigid when they inquired about his job… Hondo never exactly believed him about the incident that the gun was only a toy and the man was only joking ever. The gun was too detailed, whereas toy guns have vague plastic lumps where real guns had a barrel and a trigger. Plus the man’s voice was far too serious to be joking.
A man walking around the perimeter was drawing near. Hondo gasped. He would definitely see Hondo if he ran to the car. He didn’t know what to do. Should he run to the car when the man wasn’t looking or stay put? He leaned further into the tree, wishing he could melt into it.
Closer and closer. What did he just get himself into? The man was getting dangerously close to him. Hondo could hear him breathing in the silent emptiness of the field.
He wasn’t looking! Go now! Hondo dashed into the car’s trunk. He glimpsed the man’s head swivel in his direction. Oh no, he’s seen me! Hondo was shaking as he listened to the dirt crumbling under the man’s steps grow louder and louder.
The man opened the boot quickly and recoiled in shock of seeing Hondo. “Eh? Hey it looks like we have ourselves a stowaway here! Agent Holowick, is this your boy?”
Agent? Despite his fear Hondo was surprised at his father being called an ‘agent’. What on earth was going on? Was his own Dad a secret agent?
John walked over and looked at his son in shock. “Hondo?”
Posted by Brant on 12.29.05 10:59:59 AM
They’re onto me.
At least a dozen men in dark uniforms had appeared on the dark streets and were rushing towards the small man.
The small man dashed down the street, easily navigating through the stopped cars and started putting some distance between himself and the FBI agents. Of course, the cars started moving, and all of the ground he gained was lost. So, he’d have to revert to a different method.
The man pulled the shotgun out of his pocket, aimed, and instantly killed one of the trailing officers. Unfortunately, his shotgun had only one bullet, and there were still eleven FBI agents trailing him.
Maybe my luck’s changing, thought Sleibhin as he saw the machine gun laying on the street ahead. He made a dive for the machine gun and noticed a bullet graze over his shoulder. It just grazed him, so he still had the energy to continue.
Grabbing the machine gun in the alley, Sleibhin released a series of shots, instantly killing eight FBI agents. Only three were left. Two of them jumped into one of the traveling cars while he lost sight of the other one in the heavy traffic.
Not slowing down, Sleibhin navigated his way to the car with the two FBI agents. He jumped on the windshield, hoping to distract the driver enough to cause the car to crash. But the car continued to travel as if a man weren’t standing on the windshield.
Then, he noticed the tips of the guns emerging from the windows and quickly blasted the windshield with the machine gun and jumped away. The car crashed, and there was only one FBI agent left. He’d never find him in the traffic. But…what was that? He rotated his body one hundred eighty degrees and saw the last FBI agent, standing directly in front of him.
But it was too late, Sleibhin realized as the FBI agent released a series of bullets.
Thank God she was coming home. Clarice didn’t exactly know what was going on, but it most have been something important for her parents to convince the school to send her home after all the work that they put into the trip. All the work that her mother had put into the trip.
What was the deal with heritage anyway? No one cared about it in 2011, but her mother would never accept that. Instead, she’d continue to pointlessly remind her that she was Italian by doing something stupid like trying to have her adapt a second name like Noah had, regardless of the fact that the name Clarice was Italian. So, she had decided to send her on a trip with her school to Italy. Like that would work.
The food was okay, but that was it. Italy sucked.
When the limo had dropped her off at her house, her mother, father, and brother were waiting outside. They didn’t look sad or upset, like anything major had happened. Just…nervous?
Clarice stepped out of the car. Her mother frowned when she saw her, and Clarice couldn’t help grinning. Three weeks hadn’t been enough time to change her at all, and her mother knew that. It was another failed attempt, but she’d surely try something else.
Clarice started walking towards the house, but her father shook his head and ushered her back to the limousine that she had ridden back from the airport in.
“Where are we going?”
An age limit? How pathetic, thought Engelbert.
He glanced down at his suitcase and smiled. It would be undetected, no one would be harmed, and he’d be on the Fortune.
Sleibhin exited the game and reloaded TheFortuneGame.com. Now, he would now have to apply for a second game. It would take at least three hours. The failed Mayflower Project and Fortune were common knowledge on the Internet forums…if you knew where to look. And fourteen-year-old Sleibhin did. TheFortuneGame.com was created by a NASA member, now ex-NASA member, who obtained two tickets for the Fortune. One, he would use himself, and he would reward the other to the winner of his game. Sleibhin didn't have a clue why he had done this, other than the fact that he'd make lots of money off the hits to his site. Money that soon wouldn't mean anything.
Had he learned of the Mayflower Project before it launched, the CIA would surely have quieted him. But with the truth about the Mayflower and the Fortune discovered on the Internet, there was no way to keep the people who knew the truth from talking.
Sleibhin applied for another game, made it farther, but still failed. Three hours later, Sleibhin applied again, and he won.
Posted by Luckie on 12.30.05 01:51:31 PM
Cyan West. He was a kid whose family had passed away in a car accident. He didn’t want to end up like his family. That’s why he decided he would sneak onto the Mayflower Project. He hadn’t made it to Cape Canaveral in time. When he heard of the failure of the Mayflower Project, he was glad he hadn’t made it in time. It seamed he was always escaping death. He was too slow to make it to the Mayflower, he didn’t want to go to the store with his family that day because he was mad at his mom, and there was a time when he was younger and a tornado ripped though his best friends house. He was going to go stay the night there but got sick, and couldn’t go. Now Cyan was going to sneak onto The Fortune.
He was on the streets. That was something he had gotten used too since his family died. Sometimes things got hard for him. And now was no different. Cyan was running for his life.
A bullet flew past his head. Then another. Members of L.O.D were chasing him. It was a gang…the Lords of Destruction. They were after him for associating himself with their rival gang K-9-12-L (which stood for Kill. I was the ninth letter in the alphabet and L was the twelfth letter.) They were going to shoot him unless he could escape death once more.
It was night and once again Cyan found himself running. He was not a fast runner but he would have to learn how to be because it would probably save his life. Another bullet flew past him. Then he turned down a dark alley. Then it began to hail. It was just his luck. Always lucky enough to escape death, but never enough to live a normal life. He reached a fence at the end of the alley. The L.O.D. started down the alley. They were headed for him. He climbed up the fence. There had to be somewhere for him to hideout until The Fortune launched off. Then he went into an abandoned building. He would stay there until The Fortune left, and hope the L.O.D. doesn’t find him.
Lori Grissom still sat at Jason’s house, The weather wasn’t letting up any and her dad wouldn’t answer his link. She had to talk to him. She had to know what would happen. She called her mom. Then a voice said ”All links are down at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please hang up and call back later.”
“Oh no. You guys, the links are down. I just tried to call my mom.”
“Then maybe you’re dad didn’t hang up.”
“Could it be the storm that made the system fail? I wonder if it’s that bad?”
“Look at the TV. I don’t like that at all. We better take cover…NOW!”
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 12.31.05 01:52:12 AM
“Erm, hi Dad,” Hondo stuttered out when he found his voice.
“Son, what on earth are you doing here? You were supposed to stay at the funeral! What is so interesting about my absence, huh? Why did you crawl into the boot of my car just to follow me?”
“Well you’re always leaving so I have every right to be curious! And what do I see here? You’re some secret agent looking at rocks that fell out of the sky. You’ve been lying to us all about who you are and what you do! How much of what you tell us each day is the truth, huh dad?” he snapped, surprising even himself at the courage to be angry at his father in a situation like this.
“This is important work that you have just screwed up. Do you want to know what I’ve been working on lately huh, boy?”
“Go on then, tell me. Has it got anything to do with that asteroid that killed Cordelia?”
“Actually, yes. It has everything to do with that rock. That rock was only a measly fragment of an asteroid that’s about to hit Earth. And that rock is about to impact upon us in a few mere hours from now. We need to keep everyone calm because there is mass hysteria going on down here we need to control. So now you know. Thanks for making my life so much more complicated.”
John sighed and slumped onto the side of the SUV. Hondo said nothing. His father knew about Cordelia’s death. And he was helping cover it up.
Secret Agent. Sounds like something you would hear out of a movie, but Dad had the most serious look on his face that it sure didn’t look like a joke. So I guess I know why Dad has to leave so often, Hondo contemplated. I wonder what he has been doing all this time overseas. Saving the country from terrorism? Spying on nations as they made newer and deadlier weapons? Or working as an assassin, murdering people, killing them silently, with the government hiding every trace of what he did, the families of those he murdered never discovering the truth of what happened… Just like Cordelia’s family.
John smiled grimly. “Well I guess you know now. I was never able to tell your mother, or your brother, or anyone for that matter, as it might bring danger to the family. You have no idea how relieving it is to tell you now, even though it is too late.”
“Too late? What do you mean by too late?”
“I just told you boy! Jeez you’re thick sometimes. Don’t you know how to connect the dots?”
Hondo blushed. Truth was that he had never focused on his studies, because he found them tediously boring. Talking up girls, mucking around with his mates and annoying the hell out of teachers were always so much more fun. And anyway, it was pointless. Even when he did do well in class, no one was there to appreciate how good he was in math, or science, or whatever. So what was the point?
John sighed. “The rock is going to hit soon. All life on Earth will die because there is no way to avoid it and Earth will be completely destroyed. And before you begin asking any stupid questions on whether or not we’ll be able to survive, the answer to all of them, is no.”
Hondo was too hurt by the way his father had chosen to phrase his statement so obviously to notice what he actually said. Hondo wasn’t the brightest kid in the class but the wasn’t the dumbest either. John didn’t really know him at all.
“Boy? Did a word I said get into your brain at all?” John rapped his son’s skull sharply.
“Ow! OK, OK, Dad, knock it off.” Hondo rubbed his temple, more in frustration than pain.
“Agent Holowick? Get in the car,” another one of the agents commanded after talking into a headset.
“What? Did I do something? If it is anything to do with my son, it’s not his fault he’s curious,” John was far too worried for Hondo’s comfort. If he was scared, something was definitely wrong.
“Nothing to do with your son. But he must get into the car too.”
“You’ll find out when we get there.”
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 01.16.06 03:39:33 AM
Raven could not help but smirk when the Agents told her parents the bad news. Sure, the world was ending, but it meant she wasn’t insane, or paranoid. She was right for once, and her parents were the ones who were wrong. Whilst two Agents explained everything to them, other Agents went around the place breaking anything that used electricity, just as they did in Essie’s house.
“We have to go. Now.” One of the Agents came through the front door and rushed them all to the black Sedan. Out on the front yard, Raven could see her best friend struggling against one of the Agents.
“Please! I just want to see Rave! Can’t you just let me speak to her for a moment?” Mika pleaded, as she attempted to wrestle with him. Raven stared. With all the rushing, and one thing happening after another, and the thought numbing thought that the world was going to end, she never spared a thought on Mika. The world was going to end. And she didn’t know. Worse still, she didn’t have a ticket out of here when it happened.
“Mika!” Raven shouted and jogged over to her. “Mika, what are you doing here?”
“Visiting you! Is that something I need to ask permission from a Federal Agent now?” she snapped and pulled her arms out of the Agent’s grasp. She took one step toward Raven, but the Agent blocked her off.
“It’s okay you know, she’s my friend,” Raven explained to the Agent, thinking it was a bit absurd for him to block off a fourteen year old girl as if she was a National Security threat. “She won’t hurt me.”
“I’m sorry but I’m not allowed to leave your presence in case you leak important information,” the Agent said.
“What? But - ” Raven began.
“Rave, what the hell is he doing here? Have you guys done something illegal or something?” Mika asked before Raven could even finish snapping at the Agent. Mika didn’t even take notice of him.
Raven glanced warily at the Agent. Didn’t he understand the meaning of private? “We’ve just discovered the world is going to –”
“Sorry, I’m afraid you can’t divulge that information,” the Agent said rigidly. Raven stared at him.
“What?! But, please, you need to let me tell her! What’s it going to matter afterwards anyway? You have to let her come with us,” Raven latched onto the front of his suit and pleaded.
“Rave,” Mika said cautiously. “What’s going on? I’ve never seen you this desperate before! Why do you want me to come with you? Where the hell are you going?”
“Xiang Hwang! Come on, get in the car, we only have very little time!” her mother yelled. She and Raven’s father were already in the Sedan and were waiting impatiently for her to get in.
“Wait a minute!” Raven turned back to her friend, who was staring wide-eyed at her.
“Rave, I’m serious, what the hell is going on? You have Agents swarming all over your house, your parents are in their car and you’re not allowed to talk to me!” Mika said.
“The world is going to end!” Raven blurted out before the Agent could stop her. He grabbed her around the neck and dragged her into the car, kicking and screaming. All her blows seemed to affect him like they would a brick wall – no reaction. His bulky form chucked her into the backseat and slammed the door on her as they sped out of there. Raven scrambled off her parent’s laps and latched onto the door handle. No good, child safety locks on. She tried winding down the window. The Agent driving the car simply pressed the button and wound it back up.
“Xiang! Xiang!” her father and her mother struggled to get her under control. She twisted around in their grasp to look out the back window and found Mika struggling with two other Agents on the front yard. Her best friend was going to die. She was going to suffer a horrible agonizing death, as the asteroid whammed into earth. She could die via earthquake, or tsunami, or burnt to death as lava engulfed her. And Raven would never see or speak to her again. Her friendly face would be forever gone from Raven’s life. What else was she about to leave behind?
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 01.16.06 03:40:50 AM
Agent Vatsney looked at the rear-view mirror and glanced at his client. He may have been forty but he looked like he had the health of a sixty year old. Vatsney highly doubted he could make it through the long journey on The Fortune.
Cautiously, he drove over to the side of the alleyway and parked. Mr. Bowens glanced up.
“Why are we stopping here? Aren’t we going to NASA?” he rasped.
“I am,” Vatsney answered. “But you’re not.”
BAM! Before Mr. Bowens could move, he was dead with a bullet in his head. Vatsney got out of the car and dumped his body by the garbage bins. There was no real point in concealing it anyway – it’s not like they were going to launch an investigation when everyone was dead.
Vatsney got back in and drove to NASA. Mr Bowens ticket out of here may as well be useful to somebody.
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 01.16.06 03:41:31 AM
“I still can’t believe you never told us, Dad,” Hondo said quietly as they were driven to an unknown location.
“I know that an asteroid is about to hit us ought to be public news, but that’s just the way it had to be, otherwise there will be global panic. Plans of panicking people will be pressuring them too much. And anyway, it’s better to have your last few days living normally rather than panicking with a hopeless situation.”
“That’s not what I meant. I meant us. Family.”
“Hondo,” John rubbed his temples. “We have just gone over this. It’s a part of my job.”
“What to lie to your family and put trust in the people who might turn their back on you any moment? Great Job, Dad,”
“Hondo - ”
“Remember how you said you were going to take me and Rex bungee jumping off Mount Everest, hmm Dad? Six years have passed since you said that and look now. We won’t be able to do that now, because in a few moments time, BAM! and no more Mount Everest. In fact, BAM!, bye Rex, bye Mom, bye Dad. I guess I’ll never see you guys again! Toodles!”
John said nothing. Which was reasonable, because nothing he can say can justify what he did, Hondo thought. He felt their Sedan slow and looked out the tinted window to see they were entering a secured area. Another Sedan was parked in front of them and Hondo saw two figures get out.
“Mom! Rex!” he shouted and scrambled out of the car as soon as it was parked.
“Hondo!” Mom yelled and hugged him. “John! Are you two okay? John, why are we here? These men just took us, and, I don’t know what’s going on, and - ”
“Dad knows.” Hondo said. “Don’t you?”
“As a matter of fact, this time I’m as confused as you are, I swear it,” John said.
“I can tell you what you’re doing here,” a gravely voice said behind them.
“Agent Boxer! Wha - ” John began.
“Agent John Holowick. You and your family have been one of the few selected to board The Fortune. Follow me.”
Posted by Charmed Ravenclaw on 01.31.06 12:37:58 AM
Agent Vatsney calmly gave his identification card to the security. The security guard gave him the all clear; oblivious to the fact that Vatsney had no passenger in the backseat he was supposed to carry, oblivious to the sticky dark substance that covered the leather upholstery, oblivious to the fact that Vatsney’s hands were shaking.
Vatsney drove in, focussing on keeping his face emotionless and his hands steady. His tutor always told him that when you were an Agent, acting was the key. It was absolutely necessary to keep your emotions from your face or you give away who you are to the enemy and BAM! You’re dead.
He parked the car somewhere remote and gunned the engine. Then he reached into the glove compartment, pulled out a pair of scissors and cut out his photograph in the picture from his NASA identification card. Kevin Vatsney then picked up Mr. Bowens’ wallet, which he had plucked from his dead body before leaving it to rot in the alleyway. He took out a glue stick from the glove compartment and stuck his own picture on top of Mr. Bowens’. If no one looks at it too carefully, I just might get away with this,Kevin thought.
The agent plucked a lighter out of his pocket and proceeded to burn his own identification card, along with his FBI identification card and anything that was connected to him as an agent. The smell of burning plastic filled his car, but it was important not to wind down the windows in case someone asks what was going on. It was vital to destroy all the evidence he had once worked here.
Though, it wasn’t as if anyone was going to notice that he was an agent and not a passenger on the ship. He hadn’t worked here long enough for anyone to recognise him immediately. In fact, he was still a rookie agent, trying to work his way to the top until he heard the devastating news. So now his top priority was survival. Survival was everything now.
Posted by Brant on 03.12.06 01:22:28 PM
Engelbert took a deep breath when he saw the old phone booth. Everything had been easy up to this point. But from here on, he’d need to act perfectly. A single mistake would completely ruin his plan. Engelbert knew that he could have once done this easily, but he was concerned that the eight years he had lived in retirement might have slowed him down a little.
He stepped into the phone booth, and all of the dust inside made him sneeze. It was obvious that no one had been inside the phone booth in years. But with the modern-day technology, who would need a phone booth anyway? Additionally, he had chosen this phone booth for the reason that it was close to Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, and virtually no one traveled within seeing distance of it. Engelbert took one last glanceat his watch and was satisfied that he was four minutes ahead of schedule. It was time to open the suitcase.
Engelbert shut the suitcase and opened it up again, but the contents were still the same. A few Hawaiian shirts, some swim trunks, and sunglasses. Frustrated, he threw the suitcase down on the ground. He wasn’t going to disguise his age and enter the Fortune wearing a Hawaiian shirt with swim trunks and sunglasses.
When an FBI agent explained to Clarice what was happening, she showed recognition and nodded but didn’t say a word. No one said a word. No one cried. The trip to Cape Canaveral was filled with an awkward silence for the Wagner family that made Noah Rosetti feel extremely uncomfortable.
Sleibhin knew that his parents would not believe him about the Fortune and circumstances surrounding it. To comfort his conscience, he tried to explain it to them, but they told him that he was gaming too much again. So, when he was preparing to leave, Sleibhin wrote his parents a brief message, thanking them for everything and apologizing for the years of his life he had spent isolated, gaming or web browsing in his room, that he should have spent with him. Sleibhin knew his parents would love the note. He didn’t mean what he said, but it sounded earnest, and that’s all that would count for his parents because they’d never see him again.
Sleibhin saw the two red flashes outside of his window and moments later, a ladder was raised up to him. He opened the window, crawled through it, closed the window, and climbed down the ladder. After winning the Fortune Game, Sleibhin had explained his unique situation to the NASA member in charge, who went by the name Xavier online, and they had organized the Red Flash-Ladder escape method together.
Sleibhin took one last glance at his house, turned around, and walked towards “Xavier”.
Engelbert Raybourne was a magician, a talented magician. He wasn’t Harry Houdini-talented, but he still shocked and surprised audiences whenever he presented a show. By 2003, he had made enough money to live a luxurious life without work. So, Engelbert retired. Not being married or having children had helped financially.
Living in Cape Canaveral, news of the Mayflower Project had somehow slipped past him, but learned about the Fortune, and he wanted on it. Engelbert had packed material to create a simple illusion that he believed would easily allow him to board the Fortune. He had no plans of what he would do next, but he figured that if he was on board, he would receive one of the leftover berths. Some basic makeup and clothes, typical in the magic business, could easily camouflage his age. There were going to be leftover berths. With all the chaos surrounding the Fortune, the likelihood that all sixty passengers would safely board the Fortune was extremely unlikely.
For extra precaution, Engelbert asked an old friend to go on a trip to Jamaica. He had explained that he had won it as part of a sweepstakes but wasn’t feeling well enough to travel there. Fortunately, his friend agreed, and he also agreed to travel under Engelbert's name. That way, if anyone would investigate and find his house empty, “Engelbert Raybourne” would be on a trip to Jamaica. Unfortunately for Engelbert, he must have switched the suitcase with his makeup, Fortune clothes, and illusion equipment with one of the suitcases that he had meant to give to his friend traveling to Jamaica.
Now, he sat in the phone booth, pondering what to do next. If he could think of a backup plan in the next two hours, he could possibly make up for his stupidity. But could he?
Posted by Jabu on 06.17.06 06:20:42 PM
Julia was all alone in her apartment. Then Sarah walked in.
"Grrlll what is up?!" Sarah exclaimed.
"Dude, the world."
"Gonna blow up."
"But grl I have two tickets for a space ship outta here!"
"What about my baby" She looked at her child sadly.
"Screw that kid, you can make some more after."
"Grl, I don't know."
And then Sarah left.
Kicking herself, Julia went to get drunk. She grabbed some spare Opium, and grabbed her friend Sarah.
"Sarah, do you want to go with me to outer space to get away from the Earth blowing up?"
So Sarah and Julia made their way to Florida to board the ship.
Posted by Brant on 07.06.06 09:28:17 PM
Stay calm, Engelbert told himself. Unfortunately, it was easier to tell himself to stay calm than to actually stay calm. He kept glancing down at his watch, and the time that he had to think of a plan was reducing before his very eyes. He was down to an hour and fifty-five minutes.
An hour and fifty minutes.
An hour and forty-five minutes.
Still nothing. Engelbert was shaking; he wasn’t ready to die. Even though the Fortune was probably going to fail, he needed to be on it. He might as well walk to the Fortune in his normal clothes and beg for a berth. It would be better on his conscience than dying without a fight. After what he had gone through in his lifetime, Engelbert had learned that giving up was never an option for success...which in this case was potential survival.
Engelbert laughed. At this stage, why did it matter what was best on his conscience. But he began to stand up nonetheless. After he stood up, he felt a small tap on the side of the phone booth. Out of surprise. Engelbert jumped and shifted his glance towards the tap. He was relieved, however, when all that he saw was a small rock lying against the side of the phone booth. He breathed a sigh of relief. Small rocks must get shifted around all the time, right?
Then he saw who had thrown the rock.
Posted by Brant on 07.10.06 08:55:22 PM
“Damn it!” cried Vjekoslav Radoslav, staring at the contents of his suitcase. He was baffled by the illusion equipment; it made absolutely no sense to him, even after he had memorized The Basics of Magic. How Engelbert had mastered this technology was a complete mystery to him. A mystery that may cost him his life.
There was only one thing left to do if he wanted to survive. He needed to leave this bench in front of Cape Canaveral Air Force Base and get back to Engelbert. If Engelbert was on schedule, like he always was, then he’d be entering the phone booth in about ten minutes. Then, he’d notice that the suitcases were switched. After that, who knows where he would go. If Vjekoslav left now, he could probably meet Engelbert as he was leaving the phone booth. Vjekoslav left; there was no time to lose.
Mixed thoughts plagued Vjekoslav’s mind. He might have to keep Engelbert alive after all. If he helped him onto the Fortune, would that justify what Engelbert had done to him? Could he possibly let him live after he had planned on letting Vjekoslav die, being killed by a rock that he didn’t know existed?
No, it wouldn’t. Vjekoslav would still kill him. He’d kill him in the most embarrassing way he could think of. But for now, he needed him.
“Please! Don’t hurt me,” cried Engelbert as the three members of the Lord of Destruction approached me. He could identify them by the white letters L.O.D displayed on their black shirts. The Lords of Destruction were known for their cruelty, and cruelty was the last thing that Engelbert wanted to experience at a time like this.
The lead gang member picked up Engelbert’s suitcase. Engelbert expected him to open it up and see the beach clothes inside. Instead, he smacked Engelbert on the head with it and knocked him unconscious.
When Engelbert offered him the free vacation to Jamaica, Vjekoslav was pleased beyond belief. A free sweepstakes was just the kind of stupid thing that Engelbert was suckered into entering. Vjekoslav was so pleased that he almost didn’t notice how fake Engelbert’s sickness was when he picked up the ticket and the suitcase from Engelbert's house. But he noticed, and while Engelbert was in another room, he signed onto his computer, discovered what Engelbert knew about the Fortune, and printed off a copy of his plans. He had switched the suitcases before leaving and acted like he didn’t know anything unusual was happening. Then, he bought a copy of The Basics of Magic and headed to Cape Canaveral to pull off Engelbert’s plans, only using a remote bench instead of the phone booth.
Vjekoslav arrived in the phone booth. Instead of staring at the frustrated Engelbert he expected to see emerge with the suitcase, he saw three men standing in front of him. One of the men hit Engelbert on the side of the head with the suitcase. It was enough to knock him unconscious, but it probably didn’t kill him. What the hell were they doing to him? Were they trying to kill him, too?
Vjekoslav reached into his pocket and pulled out his pistol. He fired three quick shots, and the three men were now dead. Dead before they knew what happened. It felt good; it had been a few weeks since his last kill.
He walked over to Engelbert and carried his body back to the bench. It took all of the energy that Vjekoslav had, but it would be worth it.
“Oh my God, no, don’t!” Engelbert cried as he regained consciousness.
He opened his eyes. Staring at him was Vjekoslav, the man who was supposed to be traveling to Jamaica at this time. He had a weird look in his eyes. He didn’t look at all like the kid who used to stare in amazement and laugh at his magic tricks for hours when he performed them in front of him.
“Engelbert, buddy, it’s good to see you,” said Vjekoslav.
“I realized these suitcases were switched and came back to get you. Then I saw your body laying in front of that phone booth and carried you here. I’m so glad that you woke up”
Engelbert felt uncomfortable with that answer. How had Vjekoslav known to find him by that phone booth? It was an extremely unusual coincidence, but maybe it would work out and save him. Also, fortunately, they were sitting on a bench about ten minutes away from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. And, judging by his watch, there were still about twenty minutes left before the Fortune would be launched into space.
“Vjekoslav,” Engelbert began, “I have to tell you something.”
“What?” responded Vjekoslav, with curiosity in his eyes.
Engelbert gave him a quick summary of the Fortune and his plan for escaping. When he was done, Vjekoslav stared at him.
“Well, we might as well continue that plan, eh?”
That type of response didn’t comfort him, but it made sense. Vjekoslav could focus on the big picture, and the big picture right now was surviving the destruction of their planet.
“Uh, yeah, I guess. Stand back.”
Engelbert opened the suitcase and performed an array of illusions that left security not knowing that he and Vjekoslav had boarded the Fortune. Under normal circumstances, this would have never worked. However, security was distracted at the moment because of all the men running around with guns.
Unfortunately, thought Engelbert, these horrible men are the reason that I’m going to get a berth on this ship. He heard the screaming, heard the gunshots.
“Let’s find our berths,” he said grimly to Vjekoslav.
Vjekoslav nodded, his eyes still gleaming with that look that made Engelbert feel uncomfortable.
After a few minutes of walking, Engelbert said, “We have a problem.”
“What?” asked Vjekoslav, puzzled.
“The only empty berth doesn’t appear to be equipped with the hibernation technology. That little girl over there is climbing into the last hibernation berth”
Before Engelbert knew what was happening to him, he fell to the ground unconscious.
A light tap on the head with Vjekoslav’s gun had been enough to knock Engelbert unconscious for the second time that day. He didn’t want to knock him unconscious, but Engelbert couldn’t see what he was about to do next.
Vjekoslav aimed his gun and shot the young female climbing into her hibernation berth. Immediately afterwards, he heard footsteps heading his direction. Vjekoslav hesitated for a few seconds, slipped the gun into Engelbert’s limp hand, and threw the dead girl’s body on the floor a few feet in front of Engelbert. He then climbed into her hibernation berth. As the numbness took over his mind, he vaguely saw Engelbert’s body being carried away. But it wasn’t being carried out of the Fortune. Wherever the Fortune was going, Engelbert would be traveling with Vjekoslav, probably in the empty berth they had spotted without the hibernation technology. The confusion and embarrassment that Engelbert would suffer if he survived would be better than death.
Vjekoslav took one last glance at his watch and saw that time was up. Then, the hibernation equipment overcame him.
Posted by z2005 on 07.11.06 04:11:33 PM
”Well, it seems you’ve made... a full recovery.”
Wallace checked the man’s vitals. Everything looked okay.
He removed his mask and smiled. Another day at work.
* * * * *
Wallace checked out of the operating wing for the night and walked to his car. Life had been good to him so far. Good, if you disregard the adolescent mental epilepsy.
From birth, Wallace had been a normal child. He’d been rather reclusive, but his parents saw no reason to be worried. Then his eighth birthday came. Wallace started to slur unintentionally, wobble when he walked, or lose control of a part of his body for a short while. Eventually, it got so bad that he couldn’t move his eyes and could barely move his head; not to mention the incredible effort it took simply to go about his daily life.
His parents were extremely worried, and had been trying to get treatment for him since the symptoms had started. However, nothing seemed to work. Every doctor they went to couldn’t figure out how to fix him, or even what was wrong with him. On their last visit, the doctor had told them Wallace had less than a year before he would succumb to his condition and remain in a vegetative state. His parents had taken him home without a word and put him to bed.
However, a few weeks later, he woke up and found himself better than ever. He could move more normally than he could before, talk more normally than he could before; it seemed too good to be true, both to Wallace and his parents. The doctors checked him out and couldn’t explain what had happened. His parents called it a miracle.
Ever since, Wallace had absorbed himself in the field of neurology and brain study. Even when he was 15, he’d studied college-level material in order to learn everything he could, in hopes that someday he’d be able to figure out and possibly treat his own problems. He still slurred and hesitated a bit when he spoke, and if he was having a physically bad day he’d hobble when he walked.
Still, he graduated from high school and entered college when he was 17, rapidly working his way towards his doctorate. His determination toward his goal was the stuff of envy.
He couldn’t have been happier.
* * * * *
He pulled into his driveway and locked the car as he stepped out. As he walked into the house, he could sense something was wrong. He went into the living room and saw Angela, his wife, sitting on the couch with a forlorn look on her face, holding the phone. “It’s for you.”
He went over and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Yes… this is.”
“What I am about to tell you is classified top-secret.”
“You and your family have been designated berths on NASA’s failsafe ship, the Fortune. NASA is launching a ship with 60 passengers off into space to avoid an asteroid on an intercept course with Earth. Scientists estimate that all life on the planet will be wiped out by this asteroid. The humans in hibernation on the Fortune will be the last surviving members of the human race. You will be the last hope for humanity.”
Wallace could barely take any of the information in. “Well, what—“
“You and your family will report to Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 10:00 tomorrow morning. You will be given further instructions there. Upon receiving further information, you and your family will enter the four hibernation berths designated for you. What will happen then, we do not know. We wish you good luck.”
The phone clicked. A dial tone rang in Wallace’s ear. After a few seconds of dazed silence, he set the phone on the receiver. He looked at his wife, at her anguished expression. Her expression told him she knew everything as well.
Suddenly, Wallace remembered something. Four. The man on the phone had said four berths were designated for his family. He had a daughter, Mychelle, with Angela, but no others. They were a family of three, not four. A mistake must have been made.
He sat down as he tried to figure out what to do. Obviously, the part about heading to Cape Canaveral was simple enough. But what about the fourth berth? How were they going to explain that a mistake was made?
All of a sudden, a thought rose to the forefront of his mind. In a situation like this, he would’ve been surprised that such a thought had come to him, but it came nonetheless. He knew what to do about the fourth berth. He didn’t know if he’d be able to get away with it, but he could at least try. For the sake of the man.
He turned to his wife. “We’re going to have... company... on our trip.”
Posted by z2005 on 07.11.06 05:25:51 PM
Psymon picked up the stapler and grabbed another piece of toast off the heaping pile he had laying on his dresser. He slammed the toast against the first piece of empty wall he saw, and stapled three or four staples into the bread.
He grabbed another piece as the door opened. He paid no attention to who it was; he was making staple-toast. Nothing was more important than staple-toast right now.
He stapled the piece to the wall next to the previous one. He almost stapled his finger; he’d done that twice already. He should be more careful. The staples were for the toast, not his finger. His finger would have to wait.
He turned to get another piece of toast when he saw the person that had walked in. It was Doc. He hadn’t seen Doc in a few days. He liked Doc. He glared inside his mind as he thought of the other doctors he’d met. He hated them. But not Doc. He liked Doc.
Doc came over and took the stapler from Psymon’s hand. “You know... you shouldn’t be tampering... with harmful things, Psymon.”
Psymon let out a mirthful laugh. “I’m making staple-toast, Doc. Wanna piece??”
Doc put his hand on Psymon’s shoulder. “Not now, Psymon.” Psymon wasn’t a kid; he was 24, and he was big. He was quite large, he thought. Muscular. He found it funny whenever Doc put his hand on his shoulder. Psymon’s shoulder was higher than Doc’s hand. He laughed to himself.
Doc went over and sat on the mattress Psymon slept on every few days or so. Psymon didn’t need sleep as much as Doc did. He didn’t want sleep. SLEEP WASN’T HIS MASTER.
“Come. Sit... Psymon. We need... to talk.”
Psymon sat down.
Doc seemed to be struggling with what he wanted to say. “There’s... something that’s going to happen. To the Earth. An asteroid... will hit it, and all life... will be destroyed. NASA... has a ship... ready to send... some humans... into space... to survive. I’ve been selected. And I’m taking... you with me.”
Psymon leapt up into the air. “ALL RIGHT! Road trip!”
Doc stood up. “Come on. It’s 9:00. We have to be there... by 10. My car... is outside. Come... with me.”
Psymon couldn't remember the last time he’d been happier. He was going on a trip! He’d never been on a trip since his accident!
This was definitely better than staple-toast.
Posted by RPG Troika on 07.11.06 06:32:58 PM
There were a few mishaps, and some unruliness, but for the most part everything seemed to be in order. Rallies seemed to be on their way, and there were reports that shots had been fired already, but all was well now.
The Sixty were all in their births, and the hibernation equipment had already set in. The births with hibernation equipment and those without it were randomly placed in the ship. None of the passengers were informed about the un-hibernated births, or who had gotten which. Officials hadn’t wanted fights to erupt over who’d gotten a hibernated birth and who hadn’t.
The Rock was three hours away. It was visible in the earth’s sky.
“We are Go for Launch. T-minus 10...”
The rockets fired. An explosion of flame erupted out from under the rocket as the countdown continued.
The walkways broke away as pieces of the material showered down from the rocket. After a second where time seemed to stand still, the rocket lifted into the air.
The Fortune, humanity’s last hope for survival was on its way.
On board, Forty-four passengers lay in a perpetual state of hibernation. All their bodily functions had been shut down. The hibernation equipment slowed their hearts, and then stopped them. Slowed the bouncing electrical impulses in their brains, and stopped them. They were as dead as the people of Earth, but with at least a hope of rebirth somewhere, sometime.
Meanwhile, as the rocket left the Earth’s atmosphere, sixteen other people lay in their births, completely awake. Most had undoubtedly figured that something was wrong when the instructions told them to swallow the hibernation pills, and their berths contained no such thing. So while 44 people lay on the brink of death, 16 people lay on the other side of the spectrum.
Sixty people were flying into the unknown, as the Rock flew by them in the opposite direction. As all life on Earth would be obliterated in a few short minutes.
The Fortune glided into the emptiness of space. A shot in the dark by a doomed civilization, with a small hope that space wouldn’t be as empty as it seems.
Posted by z2005 on 07.11.06 07:13:16 PM
* * * * *
I have found a civilization of hope.
I have found a civilization that has the capability to aid us.
After all my seh'n of searching...
I have found light.
I may be the only one of my kind to fulfill their mission.
I may be the only hope we have.
I may be the only light.
I must join this ray of hope, as I may be a ray of hope.
I must join this light, as I may be the light.
I may be the light...
One of them is not well. I will make him well. I will use him.
I will be the light...
* * * * *