Welcome back to the blog! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis and this is Story Time With Tim! An ongoing series where I share my old writings and writings that don’t seem to be doing anything more than gathering dust! I have some new offerings that should cover much of this year and am working on new material as well. Maybe this will be the year I get an official publication beyond self-publishing! Or, not. You never know. Gotta keep trying though.
Anyhow, this story is a novella I wrote back in 2019-2020. It’s all about a ship being propelled through space to the nearest star system of Alpha Centauri… I think. I based the plot off of a plan scientists currently have utilizing lasers to push small swarm satellites to one fifth the speed of light in the hopes of reaching Alpha Centauri within twenty years. I thought the concept was fun and came up with a sort of deep space mutiny involving solar sails and stupid people. Just like all great stories do!
Since I have so much going on, I am just going to copy paste these intros and outros. Sure, it’s a little lazy, I suppose. But, I will add some extra thoughts here and there. So, stay tuned and thanks for dropping by, folks!
Check out Part One here –> The Day The Laser Died Part One
Check out Part Two here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Two
Check out Part Three here –> The Day The Laser Died Part Three
THE DAY THE LASER DIED PART FOUR
THEY WERE COMING in nicely. After sixteen years, the slow growing hydrolins (a new breed of spindly water lily) were flowering inside their bowling ball sized enclosures. Eventually, they would fill the orbs completely, each one producing much needed oxygen for their reserves.
Tyra smiled and took a step back from the row of thirty. The whole of Hydroponics was functioning exactly as it was supposed to. A slow build to the entire Biome Support Network providing food and air. Not a single glitch in the matrix.
It wouldn’t be so bad. We could get pretty far with what we’ve got. She braced her hands on her hips. Maybe there’s another habitable world nearby we can find? Surely, this would last us until then?
Originally from the United Empire of States of the Western Hegemony, Tyra had run away from home at the age of fifteen. After her uncle and his family had been executed as traitors. Her uncle had been trying to encourage societal reforms in the Hegemony. They didn’t take kindly to the thought. With her father and mother cheering on their executions and suggesting it was what they deserved, Tyra managed to hitchhike to the border separating the Hegemony from the Outlands and worked her way to the Southern Collective. She spent ten years going town to town working odd jobs until she came to the Argentine Sovereign where she went to work for a Hydroponics laboratory.
After so many years dealing with tyrannical people, she’d found a real love for plants. They provided life and weren’t likely to mug a person (or worse) just for the fun of it. She spent the next three years there until she was offered a job in the Federation. She hadn’t realized at the time that that act would make her a permanent citizen of said nation or that she could, as consequence, be drafted into a project she wasn’t originally interested in. But now, standing there staring at the rows and rows of bubbled vegetation and the enclosed moon trees in the back of the room, she couldn’t be happier.
We’re going to be just fine. We’ll figure something out. She took in a deep breath and let loose a contented sigh. Then the comm across the room buzzed. Answering it, she was greeted by Colleena’s voice.
“Tyra, when you get a minute, we need you on the bridge for an itinerary meeting.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be up there shortly.”
“Have you seen Fredrick?”
Tyra stared at the comm board for a moment. “Not since his angry outburst some forty minutes ago. Have you tried cargo?”
“I’ve tried everywhere. He’s not picking up.”
“He’s so sensitive. Maybe try a ship-wide broadcast?”
“A ship-wide…” There was silence for a moment. “Damn. I should have done that to begin with. Thanks, Tyra.”
The comm went dead leaving Tyra standing there to ponder. In the short time I’ve known her, she’s so scatterbrained. Oh well.
She turned and started for the stairwell, running her hands across a railing in front of the incubators as she went.
BOPPING SOUNDS ECHOED all across the cargo bay. The ball bounced off a crate and back into Fredrick’s hand. The bay was on the very bottom level of the ship and was sunken down into the belly where their all-terrain vehicles (three in all) awaited usage on their new home. But he knew (knew!) they would never be used now. When he’d volunteered for the expedition, it was for one thing and one thing alone: Amiko. And the details he’d learned after volunteering, that they’d essentially be mating up and colonizing a new world, made him even more eager to get going. Ten men. Ten women. Everything they needed for a new world away from the tyranny of Earth. And it was up to all of them whom would be with whom.
But he didn’t sign up for getting abandoned in space. He would never go on a sea ship because of his fear of being lost at sea. Suffocating in the depths of a void and he’d never set foot on land again. It was a fear that sat deep in him. When he was ten, he’d almost drowned at the beach when a riptide had pulled him under. It was his brother that had managed to save him.
Who had died at sea while on a standard observation flight over the South China Sea. That was enough to stay away from any sort of ocean, water based or star. And when they had flown over vast areas of water, it was usually Amiko flying those missions. During those times, he’d trust her to get them out of any messes they might find themselves in and kept to the inner hull and as far away from any window as possible. It’d worked for the most part.
What the hell am I doing out here? Chasing a woman into the stars? That’s it! We’re all dead! There isn’t any getting away!
Amiko was beautiful, and sweet, charming, and more reliable than anyone he’d ever known. That he was willing to brave that which he most feared just demonstrated how out of his mind he was. Still, his heart always jumped when she was around and he couldn’t keep his eyes off her.
He leaned forward on the box he was sitting on and chucked the rubber ball as hard as he could deep into the bay. It bonked violently from box to crate to vehicle and disappeared into some recess. A scowl crossed his face as he clasped his hands together over his knees.
“All bridge crew, please report to the bridge for an itinerary meeting. Thank you.” Colleena’s voice boomed across the ship. His scowl deepened. The whole reason he was in the cargo bay was so that he didn’t have to talk to her. Or Holland for that matter. There was a fear in his gut that he might explode if he didn’t keep to himself for a while. And now they wanted to powwow. To share whatever absurd idea they’d come up with. Fredrick hadn’t even wanted to be part of the main crew. The fact that he was the head of maintenance and repair was what put him in the upper echelon. Much to his irritation.
This had better be good. He growled and stood up. There was no anticipation of the news being good and they were inevitably going to ask him for his thoughts. Mainly, he just wanted to turn around and go home. But, since he didn’t think he had anything more than that to offer, the idea of waking everyone else up to help decide was eking into his mind. Now, there’s a thought.
MOST OF THE bridge crew was already there. Fredrick, however, had yet to arrive which was worrying. The last thing he needed was his main crew being unresponsive to the needs of the ship. Doug was about to send one of the others when the man in question deigned to make an appearance.
“Sorry I’m late,” Fredrick said. “I just got absorbed in examining the supplies we have on hand. You know, in case a meteoroid pierces a hull or something.”
He gave a sharp smile but got only fierce unappreciative glares in return. Doug frowned but ignored him, clearing his throat.
“We’ve finished reviewing the last twenty communiques. Whereas we don’t know what exactly transpired on Earth, it’s a foregone conclusion we’re on our own.”
“Wait, you can’t be serious,” Guile leaned into the console table in the center of the room, affixing Doug with a deep stare. “There has to have been something more recent than five years?”
“No. Nothing. Which makes it even more baffling why the LPS would only now go offline. It was functional up until a week ago. According to the mother unit, the ship went into standby since it wasn’t the scheduled blackout with Earth behind the sun. Earth was still in transmission proximity when the laser went out for good. Whatever happened on Earth, took two years to bring the whole system down.”
There was low mumbling, with Guile shaking his head. Fredrick leaned against a wall, arms crossed, a strange grin on his face.
“Who is the Archangel Consortium?” Guile asked. “Your official communiques must have said.”
“Perusing files on your own?”
“Well, captain, it’s not like we were given anything else to do.”
Doug didn’t like his tone but continued without addressing it. “No. Nothing. Just propaganda on how the Federation will be victorious against the Imperials and the Hegemony. If I had to guess, this Archangel Consortium was some sort of highly effective mercenary force. It’s irrelevant, though. Right now, we have to figure out our next move. I have some thoughts, but I want to hear from you all first.”
Doug looked around the circular bridge. The crew looked to one another. If uncertainty were a smell, the room would be reeking of it overriding the stale sanitation of over a dozen years. Fredrick chuckled and had his eyes closed.
“Did you want to go first, Fitzgerald?” Colleena asked him, beating Doug to the punch.
Fredrick waved his hand and shook his head. “No, no. I’ll wait. I’d like to know what everyone else thinks, as well!”
Colleena frowned and Doug sighed. Amiko braced her hands on the console edge and looked around.
“Whatever we decide, I know I can get us there. But, with no engines, we’ve only got the solar sails and the gravity edger.”
“Gravity edger? What’s that?” Tyra asked trying to figure out where to put her arms and ending up just emulating Amiko.
“It’s a special unit that uses our gravitational plating to slide into a planet’s atmosphere. Sort of like a giant electromagnet where you turn down the electrical current and the magnetic force diminishes,” Amiko replied. “But we have to have a gravity well to provide that secondary contact. Like Therseus. It won’t do any good for, say, propulsion if there’s no gravity to utilize.”
“There’s gravity out here,” Doug said. “Just not to the degree that we can use, like you said.”
“So, what, we just have the solar sails to rely on? Sela asked, her eyes wide and olive features noticeably paler.
“It… looks that way,” Colleena nodded.
“Then, we can use them to scout out nearby star systems, see if there’s a habitable world that we can settle on,” Guile put in, nodding to himself confidently.
Doug’s lips pulled up in an almost regrettable gasp as he looked to the floor briefly. “I’m sorry, Guile. The planetary body we’re headed to is in the Sisyphus star system. It’s the closest star system in the localized region.”
“Well, then, we’ll head back to Earth!” Guile’s voice rose an octave.
“There’s… no going back,” Colleena replied, crossing her arms and looking as uncomfortable as Doug had ever seen her. “We’re just over three light years out, almost a light year and a half to Sisyphus. That makes it still our best bet.”
“So, what do we do?” Sela looked to Doug. “We can’t just wake the rest of the colonists up and live our lives on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere! We don’t have the resources for it!”
“That’s exactly what we should do,” Fredrick finally spoke. “It’s obvious we don’t have any ideas. We need to bring them into it, give them a chance to be part of this conversation. Deciding their fates like this would be cruel.”
Doug shook his head. “Absolutely not. As Sela just said, we don’t have the resources for it.”
“Also,” Tyra interjected, “there’s the small matter that Colleena brought up earlier. We’re, what, eleven thousand years out at current velocity?”
“Something like that,” Colleena agreed.
“There’s no way I can guarantee Hydroponics being sustainable for that period of time. The systems are designed to operate for one hundred years, one hundred twenty if we push it.” Tyra glanced at Fredrick. “If we bring everyone else out now, there’s just not enough food, water, or oxygen to support them. The system would be taxed in a matter of months.”
Fredrick’s smile vanished and his face turned red. “So, what are you suggesting we do then?”
Doug lifted a hand. “I think what’s going to need to happen is this, we realign the solar sails to capture more solar energy. At the same time, we rig the gravitational plating to utilize what gravity is pulsing around out there for extra push. Capture some extra wind in the sails, if you will. If my math is right, we can halve our trip.”
“That’s great. But it still leaves us with a Hydroponics problem,” Tyra grumbled.
Amiko frowned. “I’m also getting the hint that you want us to go back into stasis.”
“Yes. I am suggesting we go back into the hibernation pods. Before we get there, though, we need to prepare ourselves more thoroughly. Which is why, Ms. Burnes, we need to find a way to make hydroponics last until planetfall.”
“I have no idea how I’m going to be able to do that.”
“You’ll figure something out.” Doug smiled at Tyra with a nod.
“It’s ridiculous!” Fredrick screamed, fists clenched at his sides.
“Our options are slim, Mr. Fitzgerald,” Doug replied.
Fredrick shook his head. “You’re asking us to go back to sleep and pray we don’t run into space debris, or a moon, or an asteroid, or some alien attack fleet for the next five thousand years or so!”
“Pretty much an accurate assessment. Also, alien attack fleet? Really?”
Nobody laughed and Doug could almost hear all their heartbeats it had gotten so silent. Somewhere in the ship, the walls settled with a metallic creak. The hums of the vessel operations were a light reverberation.
Fredrick’s mouth dropped. “You son of a bitch, you already decided this was the action you’d take. Why did you even bother asking us what we thought then!”
“I had to make sure I wasn’t missing any other avenues. Apparently, I was correct. This is the only real course of action.” Doug allowed a small frown to tug at the corner of his lips. “Now, what I need you to do is start reinforcing the hull. To prepare for just those sorts of circumstances you’re worried about. That we’re all worried about.”
“You want me to use what’s left of our construction materials to reinforce the hull? And what will we use should we succeed in landing planetside on Therseus?”
“That’s a bridge we’ll cross once we arrive.”
“So, you believe we can make it?” Sela replied to Doug.
“I do. If we work together to get us ready. Let’s not take longer than a week, if we can.”
Guile sighed, asking, “What should Sela and I do while you have these plans put into motion?”
“After ensuring that all of our inventory is there and intact, secured for the long trip, help everyone else out,” Doug replied licking his lips. “I’m going to have to perform a spacewalk or two to realign those sails with M.S. Merricks’ help. Amiko, you’ll be tasked with reprogramming the gravitational plating and coordinate projections. We can afford to keep a minimal gravitational well in hibernation chambers until we arrive. But I want the majority of the plating working overtime on propulsion boosting.”
“I assume there’ll be a timer involved?” She asked.
“Let’s say two hours after we return to the pods and two hours before we wake once entering the Therseus system.”
“Then I think we all know what needs to be done. Let’s get to work and we’ll meet back up to discuss our progress come dinner.”
Most nodded and left the bridge. Fredrick took a moment, scowl on his face. “Right. Of course.”
He left leaving Doug and Colleena to ruminate over the meeting. He wasn’t happy about Fredrick’s attitude, but he couldn’t blame the man. It was a stressful situation where all of their lives were literally on the line.
“You don’t think he’s going to go mad, do you?”
It was as if she was reading his mind. Doug looked down to her and rubbed his hand across his face. “I think we’re all on edge. We’ll keep an eye on him, just in case. However, we need to keep our main focus on the long-term preparations,” Doug started towards the exit to engineering. “God, what do you think Earth will be like in five millennia?”
“I… honestly, Doug, I don’t even want to think about it. This is every definition of crazy.”
“We’ll be alright,” he smiled.
Colleena forced a return smile. “Yeah. I know we will.”
Doug nodded hoping that he believed it himself.
Thanks for dropping by and reading! Hope you enjoyed! Read to you again next week! Until then, take it easy!
~Timothy S Purvis
Since you’re here, why not check out the whole work available on Amazon right now? Just click the link below to be taken straight away to The Day The Laser Died novella! It’s cheap and a fun read if you enjoyed what you’ve read already! Please, support the cause:
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I would appreciate if you have Kindle or even if you want some paperback goodies if you’d head on over to my page and maybe show me some love there. I mean, if you’ve been reading a while and see something you like, wouldn’t you like to have it in your personal library? I have some cool short stories available for cheap. Also Tales From A Strange Mind that collects my short stories (there’s also a Kindle edition but, for some reason, Amazon wouldn’t let me link them together) , Tales From A Strange Mind II which collects my old novellas, Red Star Sheriff (Which also has a Kindle edition but Amazon, am I right?) my first novel ever released, though, yes, it does have some grammatical errors and drags on for way too long, sigh. But I still love it and I will be writing a follow up sometime within the next few years. I have a collection of my poems called MisAligned: The Heart Waxes Poetic which collects my old poems but not some of my newer ones included those flash fictions! I’ll probably do that in the future as well. And if you love the perfectly inane, why not check out my Star Cloud scripts presented in book form? Star Cloud The Original Scripts. Another one where Amazon was being difficult with me in connecting the Kindle and PB versions. Still, the paperback they let me sale for cheap and it’s well worth a look if I say so myself. Or, if you don’t want to click on individual links (all of which will take you to my author’s page anyway), just click on my author’s page directly by tapping my name: Timothy S Purvis See for yourself what all I’ve published since I began this venture in 2016.
I mean, if you like my work, of course. No pressure. Just trying to find my way in this world without working menial tasks and suffering physical and mental issues as a result. If only I could merely stay home and write. That would be my most epic fantasy brought to life. Well, if you don’t want to do that, you could also donate to my cause down below after all is said and done. It would help. You know, if you liked what you saw and all. Up to you. I don’t have a lot of reviews on my materials because of low sales. I mean, very, very low sales. In the single digits. Right now, I have to rely on Pubby for reviews and those people only read your synopsis and recap it for a five star review. I want honest opinions. Not mean ones, but honest. So, if you ever find yourself buying some of my work, I’d certainly appreciate some feedback. Again, up to you.
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