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Dolores Esteban

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Everything posted by Dolores Esteban

  1. Dolores Esteban

    Ask an Author 2.0 #15

    I liked everybody's thoughts. Thanks for featuring the questions and answers. AC Benus 20 Poetry Prompts are actually a good start for exploring poetry. I tried them all and learned about new poetry forms.
  2. Dolores Esteban

    Yule Tide

    Thank you. 🎄
  3. Dolores Esteban


    I can tell it was a difficult challenge. You actually managed to write several long sentences and a whole story. Well done!
  4. Dolores Esteban

    Yule Tide

    Thank you. I wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. 🎁
  5. Dolores Esteban

    Yule Tide

    Yule Tide Look up at the sky The night dressed in black and Put on a wreath of stars The stars shine so bright Nym, the Elf Prince, wears A crown of gold on his hair Round a grand white star A wreath of green leaves Donned with a red bow And a neat sprig of green White pearls and bells Glint and gleam through the haze Draped in veils and fine clouds It’s Yule Tide in space Blessed is the time The night dressed in black and Put on a wreath of stars Look up at the sky Nym, the Elf Prince, fares The sky in a great gilt bark
  6. I submitted a poem. I hope this qualifies.
  7. Dolores Esteban

    CSR Discussion Day: Sumeru by Dolores Esteban

    I don't have a science background. I simply love reading science articles and books. I read them all the time, so it's not actually research for a story.
  8. 1 5 3 - Elf, bark, wreath I guess I'll try a poem.
  9. Dolores Esteban

    The George Mackenzie Poltergeist

    Thank you.
  10. Dolores Esteban

    November CSR Feature: Sumeru by Dolores Esteban

    Thanks for featuring my story. I hope you enjoy it.
  11. Dolores Esteban

    The George Mackenzie Poltergeist

    Thank you. I'm happy you liked the story. ☺️
  12. Dolores Esteban

    Food Impostors

    Quite a 'disgusting' Halloween tale. Well done.
  13. Dolores Esteban

    The Treasure of Escanaba

    I only recently read about Samhain and the other holidays. It was quite fascinating. I enjoyed your story a lot.
  14. Dolores Esteban

    Chapter 15 - The Dawn of Day

    Thank you. I'm glad you liked the story. Many thanks also for the review. ☺️
  15. Dolores Esteban

    The George Mackenzie Poltergeist

    I once had a neighbor who had a gun and shot at a customs officer.
  16. Dolores Esteban

    Chapter 15 - The Dawn of Day

    Thank you. ☺️
  17. Dolores Esteban

    The George Mackenzie Poltergeist

    Thank you. I'm happy you liked the story. ☺️
  18. Dolores Esteban

    The Dawn of Day

    A gravitational wave sweeps the USS Explorer to the star system 55 Cancri. The crew detects a deserted alien airport on a planet in the habitable zone. The planet, however, is not deserted. A young native and a stranded alien crew spots the arrival of the spaceship from Earth. Unsettling events follow. Will the humans ever return to Earth? Story completed. 15 chapters. Enjoy.
  19. Dolores Esteban

    The Dawn of Day

    Final chapter posted. Many thanks for reading.
  20. Dolores Esteban

    The Dawn of Day

    A gravitational wave sweeps the USS Explorer to the star system 55 Cancri. The crew detects a deserted alien airport on a planet in the habitable zone. The planet, however, is not deserted. A young native and a stranded alien crew spots the arrival of the spaceship from Earth. Unsettling events follow. Will the humans ever return to Earth?
  21. Dolores Esteban

    Chapter 15 - The Dawn of Day

    The ship dropped back into real space at the edge of the solar system and moved on at a reduced speed. The sensors gathered data about the planets and their orbits and they checked the star system for transmissions coming from Earth, the Moon, the habitats on Mars and from satellites in space. The computer produced a map of the star system and compared it to the maps saved to the archives in space. It also searched the databases for registry entries about the solar system and the planet Earth. The computer identified the solar system. It had been mapped in the past. Earth was registered as planet XO-10874no, a planet in the habitable zone of its star system. The planet was not recommended for colonization and mining activities. No further explanation was offered, however. Nahusha handed the translation tablet to Eric. Eric read the text and then spoke to Brandon and Dave. “The computer identified the solar system. The planets are where they are supposed to be. Nothing has changed,” he said. “The computer produced a map. It matches the maps saved to the archives in space to a high degree. Some of the maps were produced in recent years, other maps are older. The USS Explorer didn’t jump millions of years into the past or onto the future. The Aryaka are checking for transmissions coming from Earth, from the habitats on Mars and the Moon and from beacons ins space, communication satellites for instance.” “Don’t they fear the ship will be detected by Earth’s monitoring systems?” Brandon asked. “No,” Eric said. “The ship has sophisticated shields. It can’t be seen by terrestrial devices.” “Our ship could have jumped two thousand years into the future and the civilization on Earth could be well advanced now,” Dave said. Nahusha turned in his seat and reached out for the tablet. Eric handed it to him and Nahusha typed a text. Eric read it to the others. The sensors are receiving signals from Earth, but not from Mars and the Moon and neither from beacons in space. You said Earth’s population was global but we’re receiving signals only from a restricted area. “What? What does it mean?” Brandon asked. His voice was shaking. The men looked at each other, fighting against a sudden fear. “It can only mean that something happened on Earth. A major disaster. A global catastrophe,” Dave said finally. “Where do the signals come from? Have they already identified the area? Can’t they send a map to a screen?” The ship approached Earth and went into orbit. Images of Earth were coming in. They showed the European continent in daylight. Everything looked familiar, but the images were taken from a great height. They saw the change when the ship crossed the American continents where the sun had not yet risen. The continents were dark with only a speck of light on the Southern continent. Nahusha told them that this was the area where the transmissions were coming from. The signals were regular and showed a repeating pattern. They were most likely automated and sent by a beacon still working after who knew how many years. It was the only active area on the planet. The ship completed a couple of orbits. The entire planet was silent and dark. The humans were devastated. Earth had looked different when they had left it. Humanity had come far. They had erected habitats on Mars and the Moon. Dwarf planets were mined in the asteroid belt and spaceships traveled regularly between Earth, Mars and the Moon. They had sent unmanned ships to Planet 9 in the outbound region of the solar system and to Alpha Centauri, four light years from Earth. Plans had been made to send manned ships with gravitational drives to exoplanets in the neighboring regions of space. Interstellar space flight and colonization of an Earth-like exoplanet was imminent because the overall situation had worsened on Earth. Energy resources, oil and gas, had become scarce, and climate changes had become a major factor all over the world. Vast areas in Africa had turned into wastelands and the people had fled as a result. War had never stopped in the Middle East. The European continent was hit by a never-ending migration flow from Africa and the Middle East. Welfare systems had collapsed and governments had gone down. Many European countries were ruled by military leaders. The situation and life conditions of hundreds of millions in Africa, the Middle East and Europe had deteriorated as a result. Russia, China and the USA had closed themselves up. The three still fairly stable countries watched each other suspiciously, but none had the will or the means to attack the other. That’s what the men had believed, what everybody had believed. The belief had turned out to be false. “A nuclear war in the past?” Brandon asked. “The gravitational wave that hit our ship. Was it the beginning of a major war?” “The catastrophe must have happened after a colonist ship reached the star system 55 Cancri,” Dave said. “They didn’t have space programs anymore after the war. The colonists were left to themselves. Think of the old spacesuit in the monastery. The logo was identical to the one on our suits. They must have sent a ship to 55 Cancri around the time we left Earth. They equipped a ship with the new warp drive that we were supposed to test and sent a colonist ship to 55 Cancri. They probably hoped to escape the catastrophe.” “The wave that swept our ship to 55 Cancri was immense. Which nation on Earth could have possessed such a powerful weapon? Could it have been an extraterrestrial attack?” Brandon asked. “Beings so vast and powerful that are able to snuff out a civilization as you would a candle between your fingers?” Dave asked in a doubting voice. “I don’t think the aggressors came from outer space,” Eric said. “Think of the monks and their hateful reaction. They know what happened on Earth. The truth is buried in their secret chamber. I think humanity started a war that led to total annihilation. Humanity destroyed the world and erased the civilization on Earth.” The men fell silent. “Do you think there’s still somebody down there?” Dave asked finally with a nod at the screen that showed Earth. “Are there survivors of the catastrophe? In the area with the transmissions maybe?” “The Aryaka think the signals are automated. They show a repeating pattern. It could of course be an emergency call, but we don’t know when the sequence was started. Centuries could have passed by,” Eric said. “What about the light coming from the area?” Dave asked. “Still working after hundreds of years?” “I don’t know,” Eric said. “I’m certain, however, that the Aryaka won’t land the ship to investigate.” “The inhabitants of the exoplanet in the system 55 Cancri are the descendants of the human colonists. The items in their secret chamber were old and the people had no clear picture of their origin anymore,” Brandon said. “Their civilization dropped to a more primitive state, peasants and monks with a weird cult. I think many centuries have gone by since the colonist ship and the USS Explorer left Earth. I think Earth’s civilization has degraded, too. I imagine agricultural societies with backward religious cults, hunter-gatherers societies possibly.” He paused. “If there are any survivors at all.” “Izanami mapped the solar system in the past. Earth is registered as planet XO-10874no, a planet in the habitable zone of the solar system. Earth is not recommended for colonization and mining activities, but unfortunately no further explanation is offered in the archives,” Eric said. “They know damn well what happened,” Dave said angrily. “They mapped the system and made an entry to their databases. They sure had a look at Earth after the war and they know what happened on Earth. The area with the transmissions could be an Izanami ground base now. The transmission station might be a beacon, the regular signals guiding spaceships in. Whatever they do down there or did in the past, I prefer not to know.” He leaned back in his chair. The men fell silent. The Aryaka watched the humans. Nahusha typed a text into the tablet and handed it to Eric. The first entry to the space archives is 1,859 Earth years old. It was most likely made after the catastrophe on Earth attracted Izanami’s attention. We could jump back 2,000 years for instance, to a time when transmissions most likely still leave Earth, and then calculate a precise second time jump based on the transmissions. You may find an intact world and the catastrophe may still be far in the future. Eric read the text to Dave and Brandon. He took a breath. “I was captain of the USS Explorer. I was responsible for the safety of the ship and the crew. I’ve already lost my ship. I don’t want to lose the crew. I think we know very well that the pulse that hit our ship was the beginning of a war that resulted in a global disaster. I consider a double time jump a tremendous risk. It would also put the Aryaka in danger. I opt for abandoning the ill-fated mission once and for all. I opt for returning to Kunjara,” he said. “Let’s talk it over. Dave and Brandon, what are your thoughts?” The Aryaka left the bridge and the humans slumped in their chairs. A chasm had opened out to them. *** The ship set course for Kunjara, a four days warp trip for the sophisticated ship. The men had retreated to their sleeping chambers. They had chosen the only reasonable option. They had opted for a fresh start on Kunjara, but they had to come to terms with Earth’s cruel fate and their own uncertain future. The men had not taken their decision lightly and they would forever feel guilty for it. The Aryaka were on the bridge. They let the humans be and only called them back when the ship was approaching Kunjara. The ship touched down in Patha’s spaceport. The group left the ship and was welcomed by an Ektari spaceport official and an Aryaka group. Varyuka, the Aryaka Elder, had come to Patha. He was accompanied by several individuals from Dharana and Patha, among them the trader Raktanga. The group talked and then proceeded to a gate. Patha spaceport refrained from security controls. The Ektari official would lead them from the landing area directly to an air cab stop outside of the spaceport. The group stopped at a sudden commotion. Two security men dragged an individual from a small passenger ship bound for a planet in the adjoining sector. “Izanami arrested the squad that threw the three Aryaka out on the half-deserted planet. They also arrested the captain of the Izanami ship that shot the repair ship off course. An investigation is underway. One man of the squad was missing, an Ektari individual who didn’t go to Izanami but to Varuna instead,” the Ektari official informed them. “You were lucky you didn’t fly to Varuna. You could have run into this man. He came back to Kunjara where he learned of the arrest of the others. He fled from the facility and, as we see, was seized before leaving Kunjara. He’s really a shame for the Ektari species.” The security men and their captive passed them by. The Elder pointed at them and spoke to Nahusha. Vasuki grabbed the translation gadget from Eric’s hands, typed rapidly and handed the tablet to Dave. That’s the man who knocked the Elder down. The man shot at the child. Varyuka recognized the tattoos on his hands. Dave handed the tablet back to Vasuki. He took a deep breath and started to run. “Hey, you there. Wait,” he shouted. The security men turned around, dragging their captive with them. Dave stared into the yellowish face with a broad nose and rubbery lips. “That’s for the little one,” Dave shouted and slammed his fist into the man’s face. “And that’s for having me wait so long,” he shouted, dealing another blow. A security man drew a weapon. “And that’s for you simply being an asshole,” Dave shouted, raising his fist again. He was dragged back by Raktanga who had hurried after him. The Elder hastened towards the group and explained the situation to the security men. They gave a sharp response but then moved on. The prisoner was bleeding from his nose and his lips. One eye was already closing. Dave was breathing heavily. Raktanga placed his hand on Dave’s shoulder and pushed the man back to the others. The Elder apologized to the spaceport official. Vasuki nudged Dave and held a thumb up. Dave grinned and gave a triumphant laugh. The group left the spaceport and the Ektari official departed. The Elder and Nahusha spoke with Raktanga, and then the trader left. The remaining group climbed into an air cab and traveled to Dharana. The Aryaka had gathered in their meeting place. They had prepared an opulent welcome meal. They greeted Nahusha, Shesha and Vasuki and they all nodded politely at the humans. Some even reached out their hand for a handshake. The teacher had trained the welcome gesture, typical for many warm-blooded species, with the Aryaka. She nodded at each handshake approvingly. Brandon spotted the teacher and walked over to her. “It’s nice to see you again, Karma,” he said, trying to convey the meaning of his words by gestures. Karma nodded. “Welcome Brandonchieftain,” she said with a heavy accent. “You’ve remembered my words,” Brandon said with surprise. “That’s nice, Karma. I’m glad to be in this beautiful place. You can’t imagine the havoc I’ve seen.” Nahusha, Shesha and Vasuki sat down on the step of a pyramid. The Dharana citizens asked questions and the three Aryaka answered them patiently. The official welcome ceremony ended and the meeting turned into a social gathering. Dave waited for a moment to leave the place unnoticed. He went to the pyramid where the little one had rested after the attack. Dave ran into the nurse who was just leaving the building. She pointed into the room. Dave went inside. The little one was sitting on the bed with colored pencils and a piece of paper on a clipboard. The child looked up. “Hello, little one, how are you doing?” Dave asked softly, sitting down on a chair beside the bed. “You’re drawing a picture? May I have a look?” The child had drawn a blue circle with a spaceship orbiting a yellow planet. “That’s the label on my shirt, right? It’s a beautiful painting, little one,” Dave said. The child looked at him, jerked its head and moved its fingers choppily, as if indecisive or thinking twice, and then it took a pencil and held it out to Dave. Dave smiled and painted a flower garland. “Kunjara flowers, blue, red, and yellow,” he said. “Kunjara is a beautiful place for a fresh start.” Night fell. The meeting dissolved and the place emptied. Eric was sitting on the step of a pyramid. He was listening to the sounds of the night. He was alone with his feelings and the scents and sounds of a new world. It was already late at night when the Aryaka Elder sat down beside him. They sat together quietly for some time. The Elder placed his hand on Eric’s arm softly, then made typing movements with his fingers. Eric pulled the translation tablet out and handed it to him. Varyuka typed slowly, then handed the gadget back to Eric. The Aryaka composed a song when their home planet went down and they became fugitives in space. We remember this time in a song. Witness the fate of the tortured land There is no graceful way to fall Son of dawn, star of the morning Darkness has crept into our souls The waves have risen and lowered When the sun rose high in the sky Son of dawn, star of the morning The old Dragon days have gone by We sing the song on our most important holiday: The Dawn of Day. We remember our fate and acknowledge our destiny. Our fate is written down in the Serpent Songs and our destiny is recorded in the book of the cosmos. We Aryaka believe in the concept of the balancing scales. Whenever we deviate from our way, destiny will take us back on the right path. We can’t avoid our destiny. We can only acknowledge it and learn on our way. We Aryaka have learned in our long history that destiny will lead us through the night and into the light of a new day. The Elder pointed at the sky. Dawn was breaking. He took the tablet and typed again. The celebration is closed with the words that I now want to say to you on behalf of all Aryaka. We may seem cold, but we know how your loss feels and we feel with you. The Dawn of Day. Welcome a new day. Peace be with you and your kin. Varyuka placed his hand on Eric’s arm, then rose to his feet and left the place. The first rays of the sun were shining through the leaves and Eric heard the wind whispering softly to the creatures and trees. The subtle sound was comforting. THE END
  22. Dolores Esteban

    Chapter 14 - The Dawn of Day

    Well, like Eric said, things never turn out the way you expect. I'll post the final chapter today. Many thanks for reading and your feedback. I found your comments constructive.
  23. Dolores Esteban

    Chapter 14 - The Dawn of Day

    The men and the Aryaka finally regained consciousness. None of them was seriously hurt. They ignored their blood-smeared faces and hands and Shesha said his overstretched arm didn’t need treatment. The Aryaka sat down at the console and checked the messages on the screens. Nahusha pressed his hand against his ear and attempted to open a line to his Aryaka supporters. He finally gave up on his communication attempts. He turned to the men, took the tablet from Eric and typed an explanation. Eric informed Brandon and Dave. “A gravitational pulse hit the ship and threw it off course. The Aryaka think the Izanami ship shot a pulse at the repair ship to shove it out of their flight corridor. They don’t rule out a directed attack entirely, but they think it unlikely,” he said. “We must proceed with caution, of course. The Aryaka approve of the destination you picked from the menu, Brandon. Varuna is an important stop-over and a trading place for ships and ship equipment. It’s a good place to get a ship without attracting attention, but it’s not a safe place now, considering the incident that happened in space.” “The gravitational pulse from the ship sent the repair ship off course. The space-time fabric was undulating as a result of the pulse and the moving fabric dragged the repair ship along. We’ve already experienced it before. A gravitational wave sent the USS Explorer from the solar system to the star system 55 Cancri. The ship crossed the distance of roughly forty light years in just a few of minutes. A powerful gravitational wave sent the ship through space and into the future. Sophisticated ships traveling the galaxy have shields that neutralize the side effects of an unexpected hit by a gravitational pulse. The repair ship, like other small vessels, has no such shields, however. The ship was dragged through space and most likely through time as well.” “Why? The ship’s computer was able to set course for Kuru,” Brandon said. “The computer was able to determine the ship’s location in space.” “Nahusha can’t establish a communication line to his Kunjara supporters. We must have deviated from our former timeline. I can’t think of a different explanation,” Dave said. “The communication break-down could as well be the result of a computer malfunction,” Eric said. “The Aryaka are currently looking into it.” Brandon shook his head. “Dave’s right,” he said. “They have an advanced communication system. Distance has no major effects on communication. Transmissions cross space without delay. Communication fails, however. This must be the result of a time jump. The ship jumped into the past or into the future. Nahusha’s contact doesn’t reply because he gave up waiting for an answer a long time ago. Or he’s not even yet born. We could as well be way in the past now.” “I guess the computer was able to determine our location in space by referencing star constellations. The constellations must still be the same or look very similar. We can’t be this far off in time,” Dave said. Brandon gave a dry laugh. “Referencing star constellations! They move slowly from our point of perspective, but the time set-off can still be thousands of years either into the past or into the future.” “We’re not talking millions of years,” Dave said. “We’ve already experienced an undirected space-time jump with our own ship,” Brandon said. “We could be anywhere in time now since we’ve left Earth.” “What are they going to do?” Dave asked with a nod at the Aryaka. “The computer is calculating the time set-off, but the result could be inaccurate. We will definitely know more when we have reached Kuru. It’s a minor planet with a long history as a mining place. Mining started thousands of years ago,” Eric said. “We could as well find an early star system with the planet Kuru just forming. We could also find the gas cloud of an old star that exploded a long time ago. I don’t like either prospect at all,” Dave said. He crossed his arms and stared into the room, brooding. Brandon leaned back and closed his eyes, Eric looked into the room and the Aryaka turned back to the console. It was another two days to go. The computer finally confirmed a time jump into the past but was unable to determine the exact time set-off. The time off-set was narrowed down to be at maximum 12,000 years. The result didn’t do much to relieve the humans. “12,000 years. That’s about the time the ice age ended on Earth,” Brandon said resignedly. “12,000 years at maximum,” Eric said. “It’s good news actually.” “It’s horrible news,” Dave said angrily. “I don’t want to come back at the end of the ice age. In this case, I don’t want to go back to Earth at all. I’ll go to Kunjara or back to the deserted planet in the system 55 Cancri and I’ll live with the monks. I may even prefer to board an automated ship and travel through space with no particular destination to go. I’ve not yet decided.” Brandon and Eric exchanged a look. The Aryaka were confident, however. The planet Kuru had already been an active place with regular flights between Izanami and Kuru 12,000 years ago. The Kuru residents would help a possibly time-stranded crew. *** The repair ship dropped back into real space at the edge of the Kuru system. The ship’s sensors, though less advanced than those of more sophisticated ships, scanned the Kuru system and the computer compared the findings to the maps that were saved to the ship’s database. The scans matched the maps. The star system was unchanged. The ship had not jumped hundreds of thousands of years either into the past or into the future. The humans and the Aryaka were somewhat relieved. Kuru was the second planet of the star system. The medium-sized rocky planet orbited its star, a red dwarf, in the habitable zone. The climate was harsh from an Aryaka’s perspective. The average temperature was 16° degrees and the oxygen level was low. The planet had six huge continents, all rich in cobalt, a material needed much in the past by the species located near the galactic center and still demanded to the present day by many young species. Kuru had been mined excessively for tens of thousands of years. Resources were getting short now, but a big mine was still active on the biggest continent. The computer was receiving signals from the planet and from beacons floating in space. The signals defined a flight corridor to Kuru. Shesha re-programmed the ship’s course. He tried to contact Kuru spaceport but couldn’t establish a line. They were receiving transmissions from Kuru but were unable to get messages out. The computer analyzed the transmissions coming from the planet and sent the results to a screen. Nahusha studied them, said something to Vasuki and Shesha, and then turned to the humans. “Good news?” Eric asked hopefully. Nahusha typed into the translation tablet. Eric read the text. A wave of relief rushed through him. He turned to Dave and Brandon. “They studied the time stamps of the signals coming from the planet. Our ship jumped into the past, but only one day, four hours, seven minutes, and forty-one seconds to be exact, measured from our last position in time and space,” Eric said. “Landing the ship on Kuru won’t pose a problem at all. We’re regular space travelers and not travelers from a distant past or future.” “Why can’t they establish a line to the spaceport?” Dave asked. “A computer malfunction most likely,” Eric said. “The ship receives transmissions from Kuru but the computer can’t open a line and contact the spaceport. Shesha is looking into something. He’s confident the communication system will work again soon.” Dave took a breath. “Thank goodness. The best news I’ve ever heard,” he said. He nodded at Shesha and held a thumb up. “Ask them if they are able to determine the time set-off we’ve experienced after the jump with our own ship from the solar system to the star system 55 Cancri.” Eric typed Dave’s question into the tablet. Nahusha replied. “They can’t, unfortunately, because they don’t have signals from Earth.” Eric said. “Nahusha says we must fly to Earth and listen into the transmissions that are leaving the planet. We could be far off from our former timeline, of course. We just don’t know. Nahusha offers a flight to Earth with the sophisticated new ship they hope to get on Kuru.” “Look,” Dave said, pointing at a screen. “We’re approaching Kuru.” The planet filled the monitoring screen. Kuru was not an inviting place. The planet looked like a poisonous ball in space. The planet was entirely covered with thick gray-greenish clouds that formed vortexes and swirls above the poles and along the equator. Three moons orbited the planet. The biggest one was a rust-brown marble, the other two were yellow and gray. They looked even less inviting than the planet Kuru. “A bleak, dismal place in space,” Brandon said. Eric and Dave nodded. Shesha finally managed to re-boot and re-calibrate the communication system. He contacted Kuru spaceport and they received an immediate reply. Kuru spaceport sent a landing vector. The repair ship approached the planet, entered the atmosphere and descended through the thick clouds. The ship touched down on the planet. The spaceport was surprisingly big. It had been built in ancient times when lots of mining ships had landed on the planet and departed from it. The Aryaka demanded breathing equipment that provided additional oxygen, just in case they found breathing was hard in the spaceport halls. A ground vehicle approached the ship and a spaceport employee brought the equipment onto the ship after the ramp of the repair ship had lowered. The Aryaka and the men got off the ship and the car took them to the spaceport building. They entered the hall. The air inside was good. They wouldn’t need additional oxygen. The Aryaka and the men proceeded to a counter. Nahusha told the individual behind the counter that an unexpected gravitational pulse had hit the repair ship and sent it off course. The wave had sent the ship through space and time, but the time set-off was luckily small. He asked if a sophisticated ship was available for rent on Kuru, preferably an advanced ship with proper shields. The employee told him that Kuru was a mining place and usually didn’t rent ships. Provided the circumstances, he would check, however, if a ship was available for them. He asked Nahusha’s name, entered it into the system and then looked up with surprise. “That’s odd,” he said. “A Kunjara individual deposited a big amount of credits for you yesterday. The amount covers the costs of renting a supply ship. Like I said, we don’t usually rent ships, but this deal was arranged yesterday. Didn’t you say your ship was swept away by a gravitational wave and you came to Kuru by accident?” “That’s true,” Nahusha said. “But Kunjara spaceport knew we were drifting through space. Our ship vanished from their monitoring screens. What’s the individual’s name?” “Raktanga,” the employee said. The Aryaka exchanged a look. Raktanga, the Kunjara trader, had deposited the amount. “We know him well,” Nahusha said. “Aryaka family, you know. They must have reckoned with us showing up here and asking for a ship.” “Well, a very considerate man,” the employee said. “The ship can be prepared for you anytime. When do you plan to leave?” “As soon as we can,” Nahusha replied. “When will the ship be ready for take-off?” “In the evening. Do you wish to contact the man? I could establish a communication line for you,” the employee said. “We’ll contact him from the ship,” Nahusha replied. “Can we have a meal somewhere?” “Sure,” the employee said. “There’s a lunchroom over there. I’ll let them know that you’ll get a meal for free.” “Thank you,” Nahusha said. “There’s something else. Our implants need recalibration. Can it be done?” The employee pointed at the far end of the hall. “Ask the man in the shop over there,” he said. “He should be able to re-calibrate your implants.” Nahusha thanked the man. They went to the lunchroom and received a warm meal and drinks. Shesha typed a summary of his talk with the employee into the tablet and Eric talked it over with the other men. They remained in the lunchroom until their ship was ready for take-off, then went to the shop to have their neural implants recalibrated. A man asked the Aryaka to sit down in chairs. He handed them helmets and studied a screen. “Your implants have shut down completely. I’d suggest a complete reset,” he said. “I’ll install the latest software. It will be done in almost no time. That’s more efficient than looking for errors and fixing them.” It was done in less than half an hour. The Aryaka and the men left the shop. A car took them to their rented ship and an employee collected the breathing equipment. The Aryaka and the humans boarded the ship. “Finally connected with the world again,” Shesha said when the hatch closed behind them. “I actually feel whole again,” Vasuki said, sounding relieved. “We’ll contact the Elder when we’re back in space,” Nahusha said. “Take-off is scheduled in an hour.” The group went onto the bridge. The ship was cleared for take-off. It climbed to orbit and set course for Earth. Nahusha contacted the Elder. Eric recounted what Varyuka had said. “Raktanga deposited credit amounts in all spaceports that were listed in the flight menu. The Aryaka trusted the ship had not drifted too far through time and space,” he said. “There was a commotion in the spaceport after the shot at the repair ship. The incident was classified as a hostile attack and was reported to Izanami. There will be an official investigation. The Elder thinks the Aryaka can safely return to Kunjara. Nobody will arrest them. No one has an interest to become the target of an investigation. Nahusha told the Elder they’ll take us back to Earth. Varyuka thanks us on behalf of the Aryaka for our support. The Elder wishes us well.” “I would have liked to confront the man who attacked the little one,” Dave said. “Sadly, I didn’t have the chance.” “I didn’t say a proper goodbye to the teacher,” Brandon said. “I could have never imagined that I’d return without my ship,” Eric said. “Things never turn out the way you expect.” ***
  24. Dolores Esteban

    The Tale

    Great story, northie. I absolutely loved it.
  25. Dolores Esteban

    The George Mackenzie Poltergeist

    Thanks everybody. Glad you liked the short piece. ☺️

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