Friday, April 17, 2009

Space Dork #1.1

Before we get started on the first installment of Space Dork I must give you some background on this story. I, along with a friend of mine, began writing this story back in 1993 or 1994 and I had originally intended it for it to be my first book but after I moved to Baldwin, I had all but forgotten about this story. I wrote a short story featuring these characters a few years ago and decided to get back into writing the whole thing. While I didn't expect to publish it as it's own book or anything I figured I could shove it into a collection of unpublished works that I didn't deem worthy enough. But I figure this is the next best thing. I don't know if this will last long enough to show all the various storylines I eventually got written down but hopefully we can cross at least a couple of bridges. Enjoy.

Colonel Nicholas Bonaparte sat back in his chair and puffed on his cigar as his ship, Pluto's Revenge, pulled into port in Calgary. He and his crew had been out the last five years terraforming a couple of Jupiter's moons--Io and Ganymede. Bonaparte was excited to return to Earth but was also excited about his next mission. He would actually be able to leave the solar system.

His ship's success rate on terraforming made it possible. It would take a good fifteen years but the payout was worth it. Bonaparte would be able to retire and pay for his grandkids college and take his wife somewhere nice for a second honeymoon.

For the next run, Bonaparte would also get some new crew members. He always welcomed newcomers and always treated them with respect and gratitude no matter what field or position they were in. Colonel Bonaparte could always expect his crew to be the best in the Administration.

Leroy Rizzo let out a small burp as he pulled into the massive parking lot of the NASA Calgary Site. In the passenger seat sat his little sister Colleen who had joined NASA specifically for this trip. The huge payout at the end would pay for her college with plenty left over to move whereever her services were needed.

Rizzo had tried repeatedly to talk her out of it--fifteen years was a long time to be in deep space, millions of light years from Earth. Leroy did see the glamour of it however. It would be nice to have the money so he could pay off his student loan debts.

Rizzo had applied and got accepted to art school and took all four years. Being an artist wasn't something Rizzo really wanted and sending in his picture of the turtle was just a joke. Rizzo stuck it out to the tune of $125,000 and was currently working as a pizza delivery boy and professional roustabout.

"You still have time to change your mind, sis," Rizzo sighed as he pulled into a parking spot.

"You're not gonna change my mind, Leroy. I'm going to do this. I need to do this," Colleen said.

"But fifteen years. Fifteen years away from your friends and family," Rizzo said. The two of them got out of the car and began walking toward the docking terminal.

"In fifteen years the ship's crew will become my friend and an interim family," Colleen smiled. "Nothing but good things will come from this."

"I doubt it," Rizzo scoffed.

Rizzo and Colleen approached the officer checking everyone in. "Name and purpose?" she asked. The officer was an attractive brunette with beautiful wide eyes and very expressive eyebrows.

"Colleen Rizzo, first technician," Colleen replied.

"Go right in," the woman directed. "And you, sir?"

Rizzo was struck by the woman's beauty. "I'm not...Are you going to be on this trip?" he asked.

"Yes, I'm Captain Alexandria Henshaw, or Alex," she smiled. "Are you going to be on this trip, too?"

"Just give me the paperwork!" Leroy said, smiling hugely.

"Leaving Earth"
Several years ago, the United States, Canada and Mexico expanded and combined their space programs and became the North American Space Administration, or NASA. Since Earth was overcrowded and the Moon Colonies had succeeded, NASA began focusing on inhabiting other planets in the solar systems. NASA developed a quick-working terraforming system that helped speed up progress on the Moon and Mars.

The Pluto's Revenge was going to be the first ship to leave the solar system and while that would've taken hundreds of years, hundreds of years ago, it now just takes five years to leave the solar system. This mission would take Pluto's Revenge out of the solar system to the snowy and wind-blown planet of Scotia, a good contender for a replacement Earth.

Rizzo's training went really well, he only threw up three times--once in zero gravity. Rizzo was hired as a third technician, essentially the lowest tier on the ship. They were in charge of clean-up duty and low-key maintenance. Ironically, the service androids who cleaned the latrines and did the laundry were ranked higher than the third techs but only because they had a better union.

Rizzo sat next to the window in a dazed, sickly state on the ride to the ship. Next to him was Manford Cardy, another third tech.

"Are you going to be all right?" Cardy asked.

"Yeah. I'll be fine. I don't think I'm made for space travel," Rizzo said. He extended his hand, "Leroy Rizzo."

"Manford Cardy," Cardy said. "I'm from Louisiana."

"Colorado. I can't believe I signed up for something like this," Rizzo sighed. "I can't even remember what persuaded me to do something this stupid!" Captain Henshaw walked by and smiled in the general direction of Rizzo and Cardy. "Oh, yeah."

In a stroke of luck, Rizzo and Cardy were bunkmates but they also had to share with Randall Ortiz, a chubby, balding and annoying speck of a man who you'd think only joined the trip to die.

Ortiz was in Las Vegas, losing all of his money when he got a wild hair. Ortiz found the cleanest hooker he could find and the two went up to a hotel room. Ortiz got too anxious and nervous and spent roughly the next fifteen minutes kissing the whore and crying softly.

Suddenly, the hotel room door flew open and the whore's pimp was standing over them yelling about how much money she owed him and her denying this. Ortiz tried to get away but his exit was blocked by several policemen who were answering a noise disturbance complaint.

In all the commotion, Ortiz grabbed his clothes and snuch out as the police and the pimp and the whore were arguing. Ortiz got on the only bus outside, which was going to Calgary, to skip town. Ortiz was certain he had a warrant out for his arrest despite the fact that Ortiz was not a part of the argument and that prostitution is legal in Nevada. People told him that but he just shrugged it off.

"Either way, I left the scene of a crime," he concluded.

"I still don't see the crime," Rizzo said. "You weren't an accessory, you were a witness and I doubt you could see much with tears in your eyes."

"Either way," Ortiz's favorite sentence beginner, "I'm not coming back to Earth. On the way back from Scotia, we do a stopover on Pluto. I'm getting off there," Ortiz said.

Ever since Pluto had to be demoted to 'dwarf planet', it has been the bastard child of the solar system. Decades ago, NASA used Pluto as a testing site for their nuclear aeronautical missile. The missile was successful and soon Pluto became the testing site of every military test known.

In recent years, as the radiation had died down, small settlements have started popping up and NASA decided to include Pluto in it's terraforming plans. The population of Pluto was mainly younger, college-aged people leaving some people to remark that Pluto was now a hippie commune.

"Sure, Ortiz," Rizzo said.

Pluto's Revenge left Earth's atmosphere. Aboard ship, you could hardly tell the difference except that the light dimmed. Bonaparte was surrounded by the Captains of the ship, Eric Hanson, Anthony Rousello and Henshaw.

"Fifteen years," Bonaparte said as he and the captains looked at the Earth getting smaller and smaller. "Say good-bye to it because you won't see it again for a very long time."

"Bye," said Rousello.

"See ya," Hanson said to the Earth and turned around to leave the Colonel's Quarters. Hanson was not sorry to see Earth leave. He hoped this would be the longest fifteen years of his life. Hanson's whole family had been military people. Ever since the Civil War of 1861, not to be confused with the Civil War of 2023, the Hanson men had been proud defenders of their countries.

Hanson became the only male in his long lineage to not join a branch of the military. Hanson was more interested in space exploration and aspired to that. While he was a captain, his family still thought of him as a failure.

Little did they or anyone know that by the end of this excursion, Hanson would be the one in charge and a hero.

Rizzo and Hanson meet; Ortiz is put on guard duty in the prison; Colleen goes on her first terraforming assignment.