The Tuesday Tales feature continues with a new story this week. The previous story was Shadow of the Beast To read the story, click on each link: Shadow of the Beast Part 1 | Shadow of the Beast Part 2 | Shadow of the Beast Part 3
This story is a a departure from fantasy for me and into a bit of science fiction where the science is more setting and the fiction is nuanced with it. Click this link to read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
by P. H. Solomon
Weeks of preparation followed. Jake moved aboard his ship, The Pilgrim’s Rest, and met his officers. He organized his command and explained his expectations. Anyone he deemed deficient in proper motivation–regardless of age–he requested be replaced. Unknown danger in the form of lost ships awaited his own expedition so he reserved no tolerance for hopelessness. Archangel-Commander Patterson approved every request.
Jake attended more meetings, especially smaller ones and dinners where George Patterson detailed the assignment and its dangers.
George drank his brandy as they sat after dinner the night before the launch. “Jake, with those lost ships exploring between The Afterlife and The Jesús, that quadrant remains unexplored. Many here don’t care, but we’re serving for life and that means we keep moving forward.” Patterson brushed his close-cropped tufts of white hair.
“I understand. That’s why I’ve asked for those most motivated. It’s an earth-year of travel to the other station.” Jake sipped from his own glass.
“And why I’ve given you what you need. Who knows what happened to the others but I’ve got to give you every chance to succeed.” Patterson stared at the darkness beyond the nearby porthole. “Who knows what happened. I think sickness of the mind is just as bad as that of the body. With all us geezers on-board it can be like a plague once it’s loose. Mistakes are made then.”
George held up his glass. “To discipline and success.”
Archangel Lassitter joined the small group with them in the toast.
Jake slept in his ship quarters and rose fresh and ready for the launch. He ate with a smile and checked through last minute well-wishes from officers he’d gotten to know in his short time aboard The Afterlife. He sat back as time drew near to embark. The ship floated in the bay like a babe in a womb waiting for birth. It was good to do something. All the waiting at home had sapped his morale. Purpose renewed him. He leaned back in his chair. His wife followed him in space by now. If only he knew her destination.
Bridge com lights flashed and he opened the channel. “Captain-Archangel, here.”
His older second, Baxter, appeared in the projections. “We’re near launch time, sir.”
“Just coming, old man, just coming.”
Jake didn’t need his ID to show him around his ship anymore. Projected console lights winked in the dimness of the bridge. The crew acknowledged him and he sat.
“Status report, please.” Lassitter plugged his ID into it slot in his chair. His controls projected in front of him.
Baxter stood near Jake. “Plasma screws are functional and providing optimal energy for all ship systems and engines, sir.”
Jake suppressed his grin. “Good, and guidance rockets?”
“Fueled and on-line.”
“Well done. Show screen of the bay door. I believe we’re ready. Baxter, request permission to open bay doors and embark.
Across the bridge, the screen displayed white bay doors with lights trained upon them.
Baxter relayed the request to The Afterlife. “Request acknowledged and permission granted.”
Jake leaned forward as the bay doors parted to empty space. “Engage rockets.”
The navigator tapped his console. “Engaged.”
The Pilgrim’s Rest accelerated toward the bay. As the ship left the station, the bay lights filled the screen for a moment and then the ship cleared its host.
Jake stared at the ceiling. He drummed his fingers and sat back. If only they could reach their destination. If only his wife arrived there. Jake and his crew left all that was familiar in search of The Jesús in the boundless, cosmic void.
Thanks for reading today. For more information about my writing, please see the page about my epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga, which includes two award-winning books.
About the Author