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Welcome to Beyond the End of the World. My name is Aaron Dennis, and I will be presenting this published novel to you one chapter at a time. The entire novel is free for download via Barnes and Noble online.
This is an action-packed, scifi military novel. Some language may not be suitable for minors.
They Lurk Among Us, Lokians 2, has officially been released, so make sure to visit www.storiesbydennis.com too!
Chapter Twenty Four
One morning, everyone was gathered together by one of Swain’s all scientists report pages.
“Okay,” Levine walked everyone through the process as she adjusted her glasses. “Essentially, we’re activating a DOS-like program and routing through a Thewlian operating system. This allows us to give commands via satellite uplink, which is received via the Lokian’s antennae.”
“Once it’s activated, won’t it be under Lokian control,” one scientist inquired.
“No, the core program is off, so the ship can only connect to what we provide,” Levine responded.
She then sat at a monitor and activated each, individual program one at time. The alien started emitting a green glow from between plating, and an ominous hum reverberated throughout the hangar. Swain told everyone to keep their cool; that it was just on, but not aware of itself.
Successful activation of programs provided the scientists control over everything but faster than light travel, subspace travel, and the feeding system. A quality assurance team then ran several diagnostics. They found the Lokian not only inhaled gasses, but also fed off various intensities of light—not the standard spectrum, but infra-red, ultra-violet, and even gamma rays—it became evident that from time to time, the creature had to make pit stops near stars, which also explained how they turned bioluminescence into highly excited photons.
“Ho-ly cow,” Swain muttered.
“See these readings,” Levine started, but she noticed he was spacing out.
With the creature up and running, a mind shattering occurrence took place. Swain saw how bioluminescence was condensed. Photons were isolated and moved in circuit through the previously unfamiliar protuberances. The photons were then re-routed through tubes, which acted like nerves, carrying light energy rather than neurons.
“This is freaking amazing,” he whispered.
“What,” Levine asked.
“These aliens…they’re a hundred percent efficient, wasting nothing,” he met her eyes, adding, “It’s too bad they destroy other civilizations to harvest tech. I have to admit, considering what they can do in their natural state, I don’t understand what’s turned them into terrorists; there’s really no need for them to do what they do….”
Everyone looked at him. He just shook his head in disbelief. Levine turned her lips inwards, touching his wrist.
“We can learn a lot from them, though…that’s for sure,” he breathed,
“Great, all that’s left is their subspace capabilities.”
Excitement gave way to irritation. They were all still stumped on that matter. Swain rubbed the back of his head; he felt cramped, hungry. Nevertheless, he plopped back into his chair and rolled over to monitors, where he reviewed more data.
He saw nothing explaining methods for puncturing space-time. His mind darted between the traveler’s ship, which created wormholes, the Carrier, which bent space-time, and the inexplicable Lokian. Hoping a full recapitulation of all events inspired a new train of thought, he puffed.
“Criminy, I’m hungry,” he chuckled.
Day had not seen Swain for over a week. She knew well enough he had a habit of getting wrapped up in his machinations. Her determination to get him to take a break took her for a long stroll from the military housing sector to the labs.
It was a warm and windy morning. Gusts fluttered her hair, and a sense of anxiety made everyone around her look nervous. Everyone smiled, but their worries were evident in their stutters, jumpy movements, and lack of concentration. She paused briefly and looked into the purple expanse overhead. There were no clouds that day.
Standing outside the drab, green hangar, she looked at the personnel door, leading into the workshop. Since Horizon had been established, security protocol required clearance to access any building, especially buildings designated for alien research. She swiped her I.D. card, and the mechanism beeped once, indicating she was clear. The lock slid out with a clank before the door popped open.
Inside, under white fluorescents, she witnessed men and Thewls staring into monitors, barking orders, darting around the immense Lokian. Swain was at the rear of the lab. Day moseyed by a few people, who were too busy to pay her any attention. When she reached him, he was still in the chair with his head in his hands. She stood to his right rear and tapped his left shoulder. He looked over left then to his right and lit up with a big smile.
“Miss Day! Well, how ‘bout it. I didn’t expect to see you,” he cheered.
She stood on her toes with her hands clasped in front of herself. “Yup. Having trouble, huh?”
“Yeah, got just about everything figured out, but we still can’t understand how it punctures space-time.”
She detected exhaustion in his voice. His eyes were baggy. It was clear he hadn’t slept.
“Have you tried asking the traveler,” she ventured.
“Thought about it, but last I heard he was off somewhere, walking outside the city.”
“No kidding? So, where does that put us?”
Swain narrowed his eyes and furrowed his brow. “You know...seeing you gives me one idea.”
“If you could hook into the Lokian like you do the traveler ship—by the way, we should name that thing—then maybe you could search the systems.”
Her heart skipped a beat. She wanted no part of that, but looking at his expectant gaze, she took a second to ponder the premise.
“How would I even hook into it? It doesn’t have headgear….”
“That’s okay! I can check the helm on our ship and figure something out. I can do this...you work on a name,” he smiled and bolted from his chair.
He left her in mid breath. She had wanted to tell him not to bother, that it sounded too dangerous, but in the back of her mind, she knew if there was any possibility of helping O’Hara, helping her crew, all the races of the galaxy, she had to give it a shot, even though she secretly hoped there was no way of doing what Swain intended.
Download Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1 free via Barnes and Noble online
The big man stopped at the new cafeteria and picked up a Philly cheese sub. He then took a cart into the city outskirts. Normally, there was paperwork and copies of ID’s, but he didn’t have time for all that. He just drove off before anyone noticed, kicking dust in his wake while he devoured his lunch.
The outdoors was invigorating. He hadn’t left the lab for anything short of food and sleep, and several times, he ate and napped at his desk. Crisp, clean air filled his lungs. Stopping short in front of the space cat, he marveled once again at its exquisiteness.
“Should call it One Bad Kitty Beast, or O.B.K.B,” he snickered.
Placing his hand on the door, he watched it sink down to reveal steps leading to the interior airlock, and beyond it, were three doors, leading to various decks. There was an ominous, dead air about the craft when powered down, sterile, like a morgue; none of the lights were on.
He made his way through the semi darkness and to the bridge, where he simply plunked down in the helm. He fumbled for the switch next to the rail, and the headgear came down from the ceiling.
He placed it over his head, but it didn’t activate. Sitting there, breathing slowly with his eyes closed, he relaxed, delving into the mechanics. Seconds later, he sifted through components, which brought to mind a foreign language, but one piece at a time, he started making connections, analogies.
“I see it…this helmet can only be used by a pilot, whose brain is operating on a specific frequency, something similar to entering theta levels when going to sleep,” he muttered.
There was no way for him to achieve the phenomenon, but he gleaned enough information to construct new headgear. After removing the helmet and sliding out of the seat, he marched back to the airlock, and finally exited the craft.
A full belly and a slow ride back to the hangar were enough to reignite the fire under his ass. Orange light washed over his face. Fresh air whipped by his ears. Stopping outside the lab, he sauntered from the cart to the door, swiped, entered, made for the comms., and called out.
“Attention! All scientists, report.”