Archive for February, 2016

War Journal – 1 Swift Wings (ep2)

Erics eldest son and his pregnant wife were waiting in the common room with him and Ole, the youngest, while the midwife and the wiseman of the order were in an adjacent room delivering the baby. It hurt Eric that his other sons were not present, but life in the order meant for them to abandon their previous lives, hard as that might be on an island with only two villages.

Ole himself was too young to join the order, but since he had an older brother who already was goung to inherit Eric’s lands and livestock, he too was destined to join the order.

Gently the door opened, and he old man in the white robes slipped out. The ash gray shape on his heart depucted a large creature that had been slain. Knights of the order called it a dragon, old texts referred to them eiher as a sphinx or as a chimera.

“Good news?” Eric rushed to him.

“It is both good and bad.” the old.man spoke in a gentle voice. “It is a healthy child born, but he’s a boy.” Eric said, he had heard the rhetoric over an dover again.

Five times so far.

Not that he didn’t love his sons, but the land needed girls.

“Your wife is dying.” the old man said, his voice gentle as ever but clouded by sorrow. Striken as if the stormy waves had crushed against him he sunk into the nearest chair. “But she has birthed a healthy, strong girl.” he added, although bearing sad news he conjured up a smile, bringing light into the dimly lit room with his words.

What use is a girl to me without my beloved Yngrid? “Can I see my wife?” Eric climbed to his feet. The old man nodded leading him in. Yngrid was lying a bed with the child at her breast, sleeping after the exhaustion of being born. “Eric.” she sighed, in stark contrast to the rosy child next to her it became obvious even to his eyes how pale Yngrid looked. “I told you I’ll birthen a girl.” she whispered, a frown on her lips despite the good news of the newborn girl. She knows she is dying! “Yngrid. Save your strength, I need you here.” he kbew he couldn’t lie to her about her impending death, but he needed her. And he needed to tell her just how bad he needed her. For all his life she had been there, for all his life she was the voice of reason in his every day.

“I know.” she smiled faintly, “But she needs you more than you need me! Raise her for me, and I’ll be there when she smiles.” Ponderous he squeezed his wife’s hand. “I love you. I alwayw have and always will.” another smile appeared on her lips. “I love you too, always will and always have. Take good care of Erica and make me proud of her!” Eric stared at the baby, the peaceful face and slow breaths that swayed the little girl’s body. “Erica? I shall,” suddenly the baby began frowning, filling the room with cries of agony felt at the heart, Eric fell.in line with her cries, a life less smile on slightly parted lips was Yngrid’s final greeting to her family.

 

Eric sat at the table, as usual winds tore at the shutters of his home. Unlike many others in tge two villages, and unlike the knights of the order, his family dwelled on the surface, not in tunnels, halls and rooms carved from the age old basalt of the pole. In some nights he wished that they did.

His sister had married off to a subterranean family. His nephews barely saw the clouds, seldom felt the winds, close to never felt the rain on their faces.

It had been three exhausting weeks since Erica was born, three weeks of barely enough sleep. The child demanded food every two hours, to his relief he was not alone in taking care of her. Thorsten and his wife Haale were there, and even Ole could help. Thoughts about the harvest crept into his mind. It was plentiful, more than usual.

Although the constant howling of the wind, the continuous noise of the shutters was still there he observed that it grew fainter. Faibter than the years before. Since the previous harvest he had seen the sun more times than he had fingers to count. Three of his sons coukd count them, but they were with the order.

“Father?” Thorsten stood across the table. “Yes?” his smile was thin and faded after a heartbeat.

“You should come tovthe door.” Eric looked confused, he gad not heard a knock. But he could imagine who it was, what he wanted. Haggle over Ericas marriage arrangements. Already two farmers and the innkeeper had approached him. “Send him away, she is too young to be haggled over.” his voice sounded the growls of an annoyed hound.

Thorsten turned to the door and opened it bidding the hooded figure to enter, despite his fathers wish.

“Hello father.” Eric rose after the visitor had lifted his hood. “Leif!?” he could not believe his eyes. The second oldest son of his stood there in his common room. “Isn’t it forbidden for knights to,” he shook his head, went around the table and embraced the young lad. “I’m glad to see you.” he held Leif at the shoulders looking him up and down. For ten years he hadn’t seen him, but still recognized him. When he became a man grown he was introduced to the order, and soon after took his vows and lost his manhood. Sorrowful he glanced at the small wooden chip hanging on a leather cord from Leif’s neck. It said his name, his fathers name, the dates of his birth and when he joined tge order. In the center it bore a sigyll of the part of the order he was in. “What brings you to our gloomy home?” he bid his sons to sit, seating himself again as well.

“For one, I wanted to see my sister!” he grinned. “I wanted to pray at mothers grave.” his smile began to fade. “But I wanted to know whether you still kept the secret of ship crafting stowed away in your vault?”

Taken by surprise Eric reached for his goblet of fermented sheep milk. “I’m astonished, doesn’t the order keep similar secrets?” Leif smiled faintly glancing at the symbol on his amulet. “They do, as you see I am with the scholars of the order, but they have the knowledge to build ships for hundreds of men, or small boats. The knowledge of building fishing boats is readily available too, but I need your secrets father.” his gaze turned to his father. “I need a ship that can brave the stormy sea, walls high enough to keep the waves out, and at the same time a ship small enough to be maneuvered by one man.”

Eric began stroking his beard. “Why does the order want to brave the stormy sea? Especially with a boat this small?”

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Another note to Airrefreshener makers

image

Colours of Nature.
Not all of us can smell colour. In fact that is most of us. Stop selling us this pigslob.

100% natural propellant. Even the most toxic propellant is 100% natural. If it weren’t it’d have to seep in from another dimension, whether intentional or by accident. Again, stop making claims that are 100% lies. I know where you come from and want to go with this, but it’s absolute gobshite!

Citrus. Again the weak, inexcusable stench of a pathetic fruit that should be exterminated from existence by nuclear bombs en mass. Stop using this!
Just stop!

Rings of Fate S1xE1 – Explorer – Ark1 (pt.3)

imageAgainst the blackness of space the tiny bright dot that had been their home seemed lonely. By stellar standards the sun was anything but lonely. Steve knew. Yet the image boggled his mind.

At the head of the command centre was a big screen, first time he had entered it Steve felt like he could take a seat and order an ensign to go to warp. All that he lacked of course was an alien science officer and the warp drive.

His eyes remained fixed at the view screen. Another light flickered. It had a blue hue, approaching fast. It took him some time to realise that it was exactly what they were looking for.

The Ark1.

“Incoming transmission.” The man speaking had a set of large headphones on his ears. “Computers are counteracting the time dilation effects.” Stating the bloody obvious he pressed a button on his console.

“Greetings to the people of the Explorer!” Distorted but understandable the voice of a man rang through Steves headset. “Put him on speakers.”

“Greetings to the people of the Explorer!” The initial words repeated for all in the command centre to hear. “Congratulations on being the first humans in interstellar space. No offense, but we’re going to beat you to the next record marks.” A face appeared on the screen.

Still heavily distorted, but recognisable.

“Audio only,” Steve glanced to his radio guy. “On behalf of the people aboard the Explorer I want to offer our greetings to you, and congratulate you and your crew on joining us in the vastness of interstellar space.” Jarred Bolton. Knew nothing but luxury all his life. At least I won’t have to put up with you for long.
“They’re past the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud.” The navigational officer read the data transmitted by the whiskers, which had been detached from their umbilical cords once the Explorer was at nominal speed. Blinking brighter than before Steve figured that the ship of the rich people accelerated too, now that it had passed the last barrier between the solar system and empty space.
“They are actually doing it.” A woman had stepped onto the command centre. “I couldn’t believe my readings, had to see it for myself.” She hastily explained her presence.

“You are?” Steve looked at her over his shoulder. “Clarke, Jane Clarke. I have a PhD in astrophysics, leading your astrophysics department?” She pointed at the uniform she was wearing. “Alright, lieutenant commander,” turning back to face the screen, Steve sighed. Two years on the ship and he didn’t recognise a member of his crew, even worse an officer. He needed to change that. “Would you care to tell us what they are going to do?”

“They are attempting to pass by certain rules of physics. With their antimatter drive they have capabilities we don’t. And therefore risks we never will have to face.” Unsatisfied with her answer Steve got up from his chair. “Are they going to warp?”

For a moment Jane stood there, her tightly bound hair wiggled as she weighed her head from side to side. “Sort of, we never received the full specs of their propulsion.” She smiled faintly, then returned her gaze to the view screen. “Will that have any ramifications for this ship?”

“Unknown sir.” Changing her expression to a mixture of sadness and concern Jane did not avert her eyes from the view screen.

Someone in the command centre stated the bloody obvious. The Ark1 was accelerating, and approaching fast. Things that were easily deductible if one looked at the screen. “Admiral, I think you can’t appreciate how fast they are moving at the moment.”

“Lieutenant commander Clarke, I think I can.”

A low alarm signal began ringing across the room, concerned and uneasy, Steve marched to the console. A relatively young man sat there reading through lines of data on one of his screens. “Radiation spike in the Ark1 reactor.” He stated as he noticed Steve standing behind him. “I don’t know whether that is intentionally or not.” He added.

“Keep calm.” Steve hummed, the same soothing hum he had made when Jason was just a Baby and cried in his arms.

“The Explorer is shielded against radiation, space after all isn’t the most hospitable place.” reassuring he put his hand on the man’s shoulder.

Jane joined the two, also looking at the data on the screen. “It doesn’t look entirely purpose driven.” A faint irish accent shone through in her words, Steve noticed. Another alarming beep, more alarming than the prior one.

Even without intricate knowledge of the meaning of the displayed data Steve recognised it as radiation alarm.

“Hold on. This can’t be right.” Steve turned around, Brenda looked at her console. “According to these readings they are travelling half the speed of light.”

A moment of silence followed Brendas statement. Everyone in the command centre stared at the view screen. Fast approaching the shimmer of the Ark1’s engines showed their approach, shifted into the blue light spectrum. “Whisker four is hit.” The ensign in front of Steve stated following a beep from his workstation. “By a gravitational wake.” Jane added, also glimpsing at the display.

As fast as it had approached, the Ark1 moved away. It’s engine’s light shifted into the red, watched by all in the command centre until it vanished. “Computer is compensating for time dilation.”

Steve looked to the communication officer witha mix of astonishment and shock. “Another transmission? They’re alive?” For a moment the man was listening to his headphones, shook his head. “It’s the whisker.”

Steve and Jane turned tk the display before them. Automatically the computer routed the signal to that console. “They’re still accelerating.”

“An automated distress signal from the Ark1 is crying for help.” The communication officer again. “Most of the crew is in G-tanks, all outside those have succumbed to the extreme effects of that speed, antimatter reactor out of control, over-feeding the engines. Engines and reactor at critical, ” he stopped, waited a moment. “They’re out of range.” He adjusted the antennae to receive further signals, but asked for patience as time dilation had to be taken into account.

 

“How long since we lost contact?” hunched Steve sat in his chair, his elbows rested on his knees, his hands folded, only the index fingers weren’t, fingertips pressed together directly beneath his nose.

Glancing down to her monitor Brenda sighed. “One hour twenty seven.”

Except for a few more words and incoherent data from the whisker probe, they had not received any information from the Ark1. Upon Steves inquiring look the communication officer shook his head. “Alright,” he got up, “Brenda, note everything in our report to earth, and maybe include a warning to the Saudis.”

“Admiral!” Steve turned to the telemetry ensign who had called out to him, he silently pointed at the viewscreen.

In equal silence a series of red flashes danced through the blackness of space. “Sensory data confirms it was an antimatter explosion. Or rather a series of them.”

Distraught Steve nodded, silently telling Brenda to include that information in her report.

 

Ark1 overtook the Explorer, speeds of fifty percent the speed of light were confirmed. Crew outside the G-force tanks had already succumbed to the effects of that acceleration. An hour twenty nine minutes after last confirmed contact was lost , an antimatter explosion was recorded, still at speeds beyond Explorer’s capabilities. Future reports concerning the Ark1 can not be expected. Recommendations to the Arabian endeavours with the Ark2 include to ditch the antimatter reactor in favour of the more stable but less yielding fusion technology.《

War Journal – 1 Swift Wings (ep1)

Wind tore at the shutters of the low room, small trickles of water flowed down the steps that lead out if the house. In the hearth a fire was burning low, only scarcely lighting the room in a dance of shadows against orange.

“Calm down Eric.” the words uttered by the woman were filled with bith pain and unrest themselves.

A surge of pain went through her the very next moment, causing her to give a muffled scream as she bit her lower lip. “I will bring forth a girl!” she promised after the pain faded. Worried the man squeezed her hand. It was mere hours since they discussed the sex of their child. “You will bring forth a child, healthy and all, that is the most important thing right now!” he mumbled.

 

“We need fresh blood.” she had said those hours before. “Nothing comes from beyond the sea.” he had replied, that had been before she gone into labour. “Our ancestors came from beyond the sea, what have they turned into?” he had raised his voice then. “Us.” he answered his question, retoric as always in that discussion.

Five children. All five of ’em boys.

Their eldest already wed and hoping for a daughter himself. The youngest a toddler sleeping in the bed chamber. The middle three were already in the order of the pole. Eunuchs, all of the orderly knights were eunuchs. After their training, they pledged theur vows and paid the prize for the safety of the world with their manhood.

Still their second youngest was only in training.

In the old days the order had women as members as well, their vows were not paid with a single drop of blood, nor with an oath of celibacy. But when the women of the villages gave birth to more and more boys the order changed with the times. Celibacy was the first oath added, women were soon after prohibited from entering the service, as incidents of rape grew in number there on after, the castration was added a few centuries later.

No ships came to the pole, none left. The two villages on the pole continued to work the thin soil, hard work with little gain, barely enough to feed the population of the villages and the order. Intermarriage between the villages had taken it’s toll, a girl born now was a small miracle. The dowry men brought into a marriage was high, paid by the groom’s family to compensate the bride’s family.

“I don’t like the idea of our daughter having to go through five births before having a daughter herself.” that was when labour began and Eric had sent for a midwife. “We need fresh blood.” she added lying down.

“Perhaps there will be some. But not today!” Eric softly squeezed her hand.

Dolphins and People – a rant.

As a writer – especially in my preferred field of fantasy and science fiction – it is my ‘obligation’ (sort of) to take the human condition, and mirror it.

Reflect the ugly human visage back to the reader, make them think and change their way of thinking.

I find it difficult, nigh impossible, to do so these times, when one newsstory about a dead dolphin baby says everything and anything there is to say about the current, psychotic nature of the human condition, the deranged state of mind our society currently is in.

Looking for quick validation by our peers, no regard for others be they animal or fellow humans:
A baby dolphin, used as a photo prop, handed around like it was a plushie even after it had already died, later it was dumped on the very same beach where it had been plucked from the waters, like some piece of cardboard cutout, or worse, garbage.
Why?
No, no one wanted the meat or fat, no one took the skin or bones.
No.
Just pictures.
Pictures no one will care for two weeks later, with or without the media outcry.
Quick likes by peers for validation of the self centered, egotistical and, yes, heavily narcissistic selfie-asshats that pollute the finite storage capacity of the net with their garbage pictures of always the same faces grinning into the camera, with but one desire behind the images – to garner attention.

No one is making these to show where they are, to show what incredible thing they do/did, to demonstrate something.
No.
They all just want attention.
All of the time.
Likes and compliments, keep them coming to these attention whores, the whole lot of them.
And that is a testament to our society as a whole.

Idiots protesting or rioting against people who have had to leave everything, sometimes everyone (for dead) behind, just to save their lives; congratulating themselves on the successful riots/protests, videotaping or photographing their deeds, putting them online, yelling (semi-)racist things, feeling strong in the masses because the impact and general success they have as an individual is negligible beyond worth mentioning in their own resumé, which could be summarised as a blank page of failure – why they do it?
Validation.
Again, they get selfworth out of this. They get likes, they get attention, even if it is negative attention, they at least get some. And there are enough of their own breed to give them positive attention.
This list could be continued to include science deniers and other rebels against the “mainstream” (which doesn’t really exist,  come to think of it), all in the effort to get selfworth, to push narcissists and to get attention for either themselves or their goals, and validation of values.

Again, how could I as a writer take this and mold it into a story that would be better (on a metaphorical level) than the news story about the dead dolphin, and the selfabsorbed selfie people?

I couldn’t, even if I have tentacle monsters from the deep abduct and drown a little kid for entertainment purposes only, having the twist at the end that the tentacle creatures are humans.
It can be seen as a metaphor for anything ‘refugee-crisis’ (sic!) related, as no one truly seems to care for the refugees and what drove them to become refugees, only their own (political/personal/economic) agenda is being driven onward, with the refugee situation being just a front.
Again, someone in need/plight is picked up, handed around like a prop, everyone “takes pictures”* (sometimes flattering, sometimes not so much), until the ‘prop’ is thrown away. Discarded like garbage, treated worse, possibly dead.

*- “takes pictures” is a metaphor for anything and everything related to the refugees here. Whether it is PRO or CONTRA doesn’t matter. Pictures, videos, figments or articles – all sides do their own, and just USE the subject matter.
A few voices call for action to make the refugees’ home land(s) safe again, but that are just a few. There surely were a few people on that beach yelling for the baby dolphin to be returned to the sea before it dies from heatstroke. Were they heard? Sure. Were they heeded? It’s dead. From heatstroke. You decide…but the answer is no.

All advances we have made as a society to overcome these inhumane practices (including, but not restricted to: xenophobia, generalising, treating helpless animals like toys, ignoring/negating people’s needs and plights, ignoring/dismissing scientific truth, ignoring evidence and truths, etc.), to reach an age in which we can share information at the speed of light, where one can learn new and wondrous things at every hour, around the clock, seven days a weeks, in every room of the house, with a device in hand that is smaller than a palm. Living in a society that has a hralth and education systems our grandparents would envy us for, having achieved a level of tolerance with people of “other races” (imo there’s no such tbing, but that’s moot here), religions and ethnicities unthinkable just a hundred years, or even fifty years agao. All these advances are being ignored, or twisted into their demonic counterparts from planet dungball.

Makes one question how to continue writing in a meaningful way, and what distorted ugly visage I as a writer would have to portray, to make it accurate enough to be recognised, yet obsucre enough to fit my narrative needs, without turning my innocent stories into snuff.

Still, I will not quit writing, you won’t get rid of me this easy. I just needed to vent…

Until next time, take care,
A.

GHOSTBUSTERS – Trailer Announcement

Is this a thing now?

Making trailers for trailers for movies?

What the frak?

What will be next?
Ads advertising for ads advertising for products?

What ever the case, let us enjoy this action packed, thrilling,…what the heck, it’s Ghostbusters – where’s the witty humour? Why is this looking so hyper realistic, stern, as if it was an action-scifi-adventure instead of what it is supposed to be?

Here’s hoping Harold Ramis’ ghost is haunting this film…

Rings of Fate S1xE1 – Explorer – Ark1 (pt.2)

allringsfinal2.png“Trees!” Jason jumped forward, Steve hadn’t seen him in such excitement since Jason had found his first new friend aboard the Explorer. Where is Francis now anyways? “Dad!” Called back to reality Steve waved Jason as he stood beneath an apple tree. The fruits were still tiny and far from ripe.

 

“But, don’t brag about the garden.” Jason was reminded as the three walked toward one of the four tube entrances to the garden. “I won’t! Promise!” How many times had they heard that before?

“Alright.” Doors opened. “Doctor Charles!” Steve greeted a tall man with a bald head and black skin. “Admiral Anderson.” a broad smile accompanied the returned greeting. “Mrs. Anderson, young Mister Anderson, I presume?” Had Steve not known that Doctor Charles was originally from South Africa he would’ve placed him in Britain based on his accent.

“You are correct. How long until we can expect general access to the garden?”

“Give us until harvest is over, that way we have enough time for the fences.” Finding the bio-engineer oddly friendly Steve muttered In agreement as his wife and son pressed on into the cab.

Close to everyone on board was a bit gloomy. Even two years after their departure from earth, many people still had difficulty accepting the circumstances. Our generation, and Jason’s too probably, will always have survivor’s guilt. Something in his pocket vibrated. In a fluid motion he took out a device he would’ve described as a smart phone a few years ago. Only that this device tied into the ship’s communication network instead of a cellphone network. Equipped with a strong transmitter they could also be used from the surface of, yeah, where exactly? Earth? RV-p296? Steve guessed that these devices were meant to be handed down through the generations until his grandchildren landed. “I gotta get this.” He put on a head set with a small display over his right eye. “Yes?”

Jason and Carol observed his expression change from slightly miffed to curious. “Alright,” he looked at the screen of the cab. “patch it through to cab 2-1021 please.”

Steve pointed his son and his wife toward the screen.

“That star in the center, that is the sun.” He explained calmly, although they were not far from it on a stellar level, it appeared as a tiny bright dot visually. Just like a regular star in the night sky.

“This image is a few minutes old. Taken by a camera on the whiskers.” Immediately he regretted using that word. Hastily he explained that the whiskers were a series of probes, currently attached to the Explorer by cable, but later running autonomously, flying around the ship to see what lies behind them, and before them.

Both at the bow and stern the Explorer had a large deflector. The one in the aft to catch the pressure of the nuclear bombs that drove them forward, the one in the front deflected any space debris from the ship as they plowed through the universe. Micro asteroids and the likes, if any of the probes that had been sent out in advance would’ve hit something and now was naught more than a debris field in their path. Therefore the sensors were blinded to what lay directly before or behind them.

Jason stared at the image for the entire ride, Carol had turned away with an expression of despair.

Somewhere close to that spec of light was an even tinier pixel in unseen blue and green and brown.

A place that once had been home.

Deep inside Steve felt the same despair, the same homesickness.

“So what are you going to tell your friends tomorrow?” Hoping not to hear about the garden, or a depressing and depressed rant about missing earth, Steve asked on their way to their quarters. The ceiling of the hallway gave a sky like blue impression, while shining down a light that was both bright and warm, giving the impression of sunlight.

“That I was shown around the ship, after we started to accelerate since the firing of the bombs might have caused structural stress. And that I have seen a picture of our sun in the far distance.” Surprised by the eloquence of Jason’s answer Steve looked at the plants that were lined up to the sides of the corridor.

Amongst various fruit bushes and plants the botanists seemed to have a thing for wild roses. Their odour filled the hallway.

“Good, was there any structural stress?” Carol also picked up on the boy’s story. “Not that I had seen. No cracks, no bends. But I’m not an engineer, so,” he shrugged his shoulders. Both Carol and Steve laughed.

I just hope that there is no damage. Teams of technicians and engineers are swarming the ship, will continue to do so until we have finished acceleration. It took Steve a moment to realize that he had grown accustomed to the constant shudders, but that they still occurred. For a brief moment he had worried that they might have stopped. An eventuality in which he would’ve been contacted.

 

“That’s the last one!” Brenda yelled across the command centre. In her voice a cheer that Steve was unaccustomed to. Applause roared through the command centre, Steve applauded too. Ten days of constantly feeling the trembling of the explosions were over, the Explorer was at her nominal speed.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are on course,” Steve spoke to a ship wide audience. A small News network had been founded by some of the passengers, mostly family members of essential crew members. “and at our nominal speed. I want to thank all of you for your patience those last ten days. I want to thank the engineering department in particular, their hard work over that time was outstanding. It is with great relief that I can report to you, that the Explorer has suffered no damage to its structural integrity, no damage whatsoever in fact. Thank you all.” The line was cut on his mark. “I’m not accustomed to making speeches like that.” sighing he leaned against the console behind which Brenda had assumed position. “Cone on, Admiral,” a playful smirk in her lips she leaned closer too, seeming more like a bartender than a subordinate. “surely you had to make speeches to your crews before?”

“That’s different.” He too assumed a more relaxed stance. “Those were people with orders, military people. Now I hold speeches for civilians!” Smiling a similar smirk he tapped the console. “Now, Barmaid, where’s my Vodka-tonic?”

“Can’t help you with that, sir. No alcohol aboard, but there’s a man on deck seven of the gamma ring, he has a lemonade stand.”

Raising his eyebrows in surprise Steve leaned in closer. “A lemonade stand? Where does he get the lemons from?”

“Grows ’em in his quarters.” Baffled over the motif of that man to have a lemonade stand Steve stared off at an unspecific point. “There’s no monetary system aboard?” He replied after a few moments. “What would he want for a lemonade?”

“From you or me? That we won’t shut him down. From others he gets sometimes gifts, sometimes nothing.” A philanthropist? I have doubts.

“I suppose some women might sleep with him for more lemonade, he too has a rationing programme.”

Thought so. “Well, as long is it consensual.” He sighed.

Brenda snickered as he shook his head. “Well. He has an implant like everyone else. So he isn’t fathering a whole bunch of half siblings.”

With a mixture of relief and anger he gazed at his hand. Like anyone else aboard the Explorer, he too was shooting blanks. Unless permitted by a scientific committee, both men and women were under birth control.

Regulations permitted two children per couple, only in cases of others forfeiting their respective quota, or a dramatic loss of lives, could that be extended to more children. Population control was important in an enclosed limited environment like the Explorer. Or her sister ships.

“At least something.” Steve mumbled, slowly pacing to another console. “Fresh lemonade sounds intriguing however.” Again snickering, Brenda promised to bring some the next day.