Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z: Zipping Around the Cosmos

This is a continuous story.  Click HERE to start at the beginning with entry A. You can also find the entire story, from start to finish, on this PAGE.

Zipping Around the Cosmos

A few stunned moments later, Layla hovered into Adam’s field of view.  She seized his shoulders and shook him, a distinct edge of panic revealing itself in the action.  “Hey!  Are you all right?”

Adam pushed himself into a sitting position.  He looked down, and it became clear from his physical appearance, in addition to the rather pleasant fact he was still alive, that he hadn’t been shot.  The book that had fallen by Adam now lay open on the floor, and several pages were torn.  It didn’t take a genius to realize that, in his futile attempt to escape the blast of the phaser, he’d tripped over the book.  The wall behind him had a new charred crater, and the smell of burnt paint wafted across the room.  The fall, which should have been embarrassing, actually saved his life.  “Yeah, I am.”

Layla wrapped her arms around him, squeezing so tight he couldn’t move.  “You scared me.   Don’t do that again!”  She sounded as though she was on the verge of tears, but she held it together.

“I’ll try not to,” Adam promised.  Then his synapses kicked into gear, the initial shock dissipating in light of a far larger concern.  “Bibble!  What happened to him?”

“Come see,” Layla said, offering Adam a hand.

She led him to the other side of Bibble’s desk, where the wild-eyed magistrate sat on the floor, drool running down his chin.  His eyestalks had twirled into a braid from which they couldn’t seem to untangle.  The syringe was still buried in his neck.

“You got him!” Adam’s tension was washed away by an overwhelming sense of relief.

We got him,” Layla corrected.

“It worked so quickly.”

Layla grinned.  “No.  The nanos take time to do their magic, so the syringe was also loaded with sedatives.”

“Brilliant,” Adam acknowledged.  “So, that was it?  We’re done?”

Layla shook her head.  “I need to call the rebels in here and have them come collect Bibble.  Then we’re done.”

“I just . . . I thought it would take longer than this.  All that planning leading up to this moment, and it was over in a couple of minutes.”

“That’s because we planned well,” Layla replied.

“I guess.”  Perhaps Adam was spoiled by movies and total immersion games where the final conflict often took a minimum of ten minutes.  Or books, where the climax spanned a number of pages, embarking on a number of twists, turns, dips, and dizzying highs.

This . . . was certainly not that.  Yet it was a conclusion nonetheless.

When the rebels arrived, a few of them seemed genuinely disappointed that there hadn’t been a glorious battle, but most of them were simply happy for it to be done.  They hauled Bibble to his feet, whose drugged smile and limp, tangled eyestalks made him seem so ridiculous no one could quite believe he’d ever posed a danger to anyone.

Adam and Layla decided to take a walk along the streets of Dyntaxi Prime before heading back to the ship.  The sidewalks were paved with emerald green stones, which paired surprisingly well with the golden sky overhead.  During his first visit here, he hadn’t had the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of this world.  Yet now, as he took in the sights, it only fueled his uncertainty.

“I’m not sure what I want to do with my life now,” Adam said softly, shoving his hands deep in his pockets.  “I could try to go back to my normal life once the details get sorted out here, but all my things have already been sold.  I’m sure someone else already has my old job.  One way or another, I have to start all over again.”

Layla slipped her hand into his.  “You want something different, don’t you?  This whole ordeal, as odd and dangerous as it was, made you want more, didn’t it?”

“It did,” he admitted.

“You could come with me instead.”  Layla shrugged.  “I’m not sure what I’m going to do now, but I have a spaceship.  We could spend our time zipping around the cosmos, seeing where life leads us.  It could be fun.”

The prospect filled Adam with the kind of excitement he only recalled feeling as a kid.  “All right.  I’ll stay as long as you can stand me.”

*          *          *          *          *

George, sickened by the idea of sharing close quarters with two lovebirds long term, departed to find his own way.  “If you need me, you know where to find me.  Just try not to need me,” he told Layla grumpily before she beamed him down to the surface of Warmickan 3.

A week passed.  Adam and Layla had already visited two worlds on the fringe of the Federation in search of new sights.  They were in transit to a third when they received a transmission from Dyntaxi Prime.  Layla read it first.  Her jaw dropped as she perused the text.

“What is it?” Adam asked as he walked into the cockpit.

“It’s a message from the new magistrate,” she replied.  “It says that he’s grateful for our service to the Federation, and that Bibble is doing well in his new prison cell.”  She paused.  “He’d also like to remind you that you owe a fine for the nudity complaints lodged against you while you were in custody.”

Adam was dumbfounded.  “They wouldn’t let me get dressed!  How can they fine me for that?”  He shook his head.  “It looks like my bad luck is returning.”

Layla laughed.  “Oh well.  At least it’ll keep things interesting.”

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y: Yammering With Bibble

This is a continuous story.  To start at the beginning, you can click HERE to go to entry A.  You can also go read the entire story from the beginning by going to this PAGE.

Yammering With Bibble

The knitted blankets succeeded in their task.  The rebels intercepted subspace transmissions declaring that a significant number of enforcers were being dispatched from the DULL office on Dyntaxi Prime.

Adam, Layla, and George set out on the little ship they used to escape from Dyntaxi Prime the last time.  The dynamic this time was vastly different from before.  Adam was no longer the outsider that felt like a third wheel.  Though the two of them hadn’t officially worked out the details of their relationship, Adam couldn’t deny that the night he spent with Layla was the best he’d ever had.  And even with all the tension regarding their mission, he caught her giving him little smiles now and then.

George, who quickly grew disgusted with both of them, largely kept to himself.  When the time came, he’d be with the transporter, but he remained scarce the rest of the time.

*          *          *          *          *

Layla and Adam strolled casually into Magistrate Bibble’s office.  Each of them had syringes filled with nanobots tucked into their clothing.  She’d called ahead and demanded a meeting with Bibble, saying she was ready to negotiate with him.  He happily granted it.

They were welcomed by Bibble’s twirling eyestalks.  Adam looked slightly to the side to avoid vertigo.

“Hello, Ms. Garrison.”  One of Bibble’s eyestalks regarded Adam.  “Why did you bring him?”

“He’s part of the negotiation,” she replied.  “I want you to give him his life back.”

Bibble twisted his thick lips into a sneer.  “Even assuming such a thing were possible, why would you choose that as your demand?”

Layla held her head high, refusing to buckle under the abrasiveness.  “That’s simple.  In the time since I took him out of here, I’ve fallen in love with him.  I didn’t plan to do it, but it’s happened, so his future naturally matters to me.”

Though Adam knew this statement was part of the plan, he still felt something stir inside him.  Could her words have a ring of truth to them?

The eyestalk that had been focused on Adam whipped back around to bear on Layla, sending several items from his desk clattering to the ground in the process.  A book about the history of Federation law came to a rest by Adam’s feet.  “If I were able to make that happen, you would give me the nanobots willingly?” Bibble inquired.

Layla nodded firmly.  “Yes.”

Bibble opened a drawer in his desk and sifted through its contents.  “You know that’s extortion, and extortion is highly illegal, especially when it involves a high government official.”

Adam felt Layla grip his hand, and he knew she felt as scared as he did.

“I thought of it as a simple negotiation,” Layla replied, somehow holding her voice steady.

“The law doesn’t look at it that way, Ms. Garrison.”  Bibble grinned as he found what he was looking for.  When he pulled his hand out of the drawer, it was wrapped around a shiny blue phaser.  They watched as he cranked the dial over to an undoubtedly lethal setting.  He aimed it at Adam’s chest.  “Now, since you attempted to extort me, I can have you arrested.  Any nanobots in your possession would go to me.  As for your friend, he clearly violated the terms of his exile.  Given that he no longer officially exists, I could shoot him and dispose of his body with no legal repercussions.  So, Ms. Garrison, can you explain to me why I should go with your plan instead when I have an option available to me that will work within the parameters of the law?”

Neither of them had an answer.  Layla dropped Adam’s hand, as if preparing herself to make a desperate move.

If there were ever a time for the Ludicrous Field to do its work, this would be it, Adam thought.

“I didn’t think you could,” Bibble said.

From the corner of his eye, Adam saw Layla reach into her pocket.  She had to be going for the nanos.

Then Bibble’s finger was on the trigger.  It would take the slightest of moves to end Adam’s life.  He instinctively stepped backwards, while Layla lunged across the desk at Bibble with the syringe in hand.  A beam of energy shot out of the weapon, passing her in midair on the way to its target.

Adam’s confused mind couldn’t make sense of anything as he hit the floor.

Proceed to entry Z.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Weekend Philosopher: Judgment

The world is filled with judgments, many of them negative.  Whether we mean to or not, we make assumptions based on the way people dress, the color of their skin, their religion, where they come from, their job or lack thereof, how much money someone has, who someone falls in love with, and a variety of other factors.

Even when someone makes an actual mistake, I find it does well to remember this.

Background Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono
 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

None of us are perfect, and it's far too easy to dismiss someone without taking our own imperfections into consideration.  We are all human, we are all fallible.  That doesn't mean we don't have amazing things to offer.

Since we know judgment of others comes all too easily, we know also that people will judge us.  This can prompt us to look inward and think too critically of what we see.  Don't live according to what you fear other people will think about you.  If you go that route, you will only wind up making yourself unhappy.  No matter who you are or who you pretend to be, someone will judge you badly for it.  So if the negativity will come either way, why make yourself miserable by denying who you are?  Why judge yourself unworthy of being shared with the world?

Found on Sun Gazing Facebook page.

Don't dwell on those who think badly of you, and surround yourself with people who love and encourage you.  Life is too short to be wasted on the negativity, whether you aim it at yourself or people you don't know.  I've aimed a lot of negativity at myself over the years, and I can say from firsthand experience that it's a waste of time and energy.  I'd rather devote that time and energy to something more productive.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X: XX and XY

This is a continuous story.  If you haven't been here before, click HERE for entry A.  You can also find the entire story to date on this PAGE.

XX and XY

Adam’s day only improved from the moment he stepped out of the science lab.  Once Layla was satisfied he would be all right she returned to her work, and he went for another walk around the space station.

During this walk, he found a turquoise hat shoved behind a trashcan.    The thing was made of an itch-inducing material and was covered in glitter, but he figured someone might be missing it.  When he went to turn it in, he learned that The Great Orator had been searching for it for days.  Tradition dictated that he had to wear this hat while using the toilet facilities.  If he didn’t have it . . . well, it’s obvious why someone might have taken it upon themselves to hide it as a joke.  As one would expect, The Great Orator was elated to have the hat back, and he promptly rewarded Adam with a meal of edible meat and vegetables.

After this incident, Adam had no doubt the recalibration was a success.  After all, how could avoiding the nasty gray mash, even if only for a single meal, be viewed as anything but a ridiculous miracle?

When Adam returned to his room, he found it laden with sweet treats from all over the galaxy, courtesy of the grateful orator.  Some were nothing short of exquisite, while others were undoubtedly an acquired taste.  Either way, this was part of a welcome change of pace.  He lay back on the bedspread, feeling content for the first time since he was yanked from his home.

A knock at the door roused him from his blissful relaxation.  “Come in!” he called.

When Layla walked into the room, Adam pushed himself immediately from the bed and onto his feet.  “I wasn’t expecting you.”

She shrugged.  “I didn’t mean to bother you.  I just wanted to see how you were doing.”  Her eyes traversed the room, taking in the multicolored, multi-shaped landscape of culinary delights scattered about the furniture.  “Part of your reward for being of service to the Great Orator, I presume.”

“You presume correctly.”

“I’m going to have a hard time leaving here with all this stuff taunting me,” Layla said lightly.

“Then don’t leave,” Adam replied, freed by his new sense of confidence.

She rewarded him with a playful smile.  “All right.”

They initially spoke about the mission.  “The knights have completed their knitting.  The blankets are being shipped out tonight, and they’ll be flooding charities all over the sector for the next couple of days.  Hopefully that will have most of Bibble’s enforcements out of the DULL office.”

If that part of the plan worked, it would make things a lot easier for them.  When Adam and Layla walked into Bibble’s office, they would be alone.  Yes, they would have backup in case the primary plan failed, but the goal was to avoid shooting.  Adam and Layla’s survival hinged upon avoiding the backup plan.

Though Adam had to acknowledge the possibility of a grim outcome, he didn’t believe it would come to that.  He still felt unstoppable.  “It’ll work.”

“George says it won’t.”

“Well, I may not have a foreshadower, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  George’s foreshadower feels too much like a badly conceived plot device anyway.” Adam stopped for a moment and laughed.  “Then again, so does my whole life.”

Layla sat on the bed, and Adam followed suit.  “Either way, this is risky, and I got to thinking about what I want to do before we go.  I don’t want to leave anything unsaid.  You know what I mean?”

Adam nodded.  “I know exactly what you mean.”  Undeterred by the memory of his disastrous first attempt at kissing the last girl he had a thing for, which resulted in a trip to the hospital, he leaned forward.  Her hands found their way to his shoulders as she met him partway.  His concerns about the mission melted away as the warmth of the kiss spread through his body.  Yet, even after a full minute spent in that embrace, one stubborn concern remained.

Breathless, he pulled back.  “Are you sure you want this?”

Layla, whose cheeks were flushed, furrowed her brow.  “What do you mean?”

“I’ve been having a lot of good luck since I went through that procedure.  How do you know this is what you want, or if you’re just being manipulated by my bioelectric field?” Even as he said it, Adam noted that sounded highly irregular, like it his statement could be rearranged into a bad pick-up line.

Layla shook her head.  “I liked you before this.  Even if your biochemistry is messing with me, I can live with it.  So maybe you should accept the fact that you’re getting lucky tonight.”  Her voice was irreverent.  Uninhibited.

Adam, content with and excited by that answer, kissed her again.

Proceed to entry Y.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-Week 15

For those of you who are looking for my A-Z entry for the letter W, you can find it HERE.

You can also find the latest installment in my Memoirs From the End of the World series HERE.

It's Friday!  That means it's time to once again Celebrate the Small Things with VikLit!

Whether your victory is large or small,
share it-we'll celebrate them all!

April is almost over, and I can see now that I will indeed be able to successfully complete the A-Z Challenge on both my blogs.  It' no easy task, but I've enjoyed the challenge.  When you have a concrete goal, it's easier to find the motivation to get things done.

Tomorrow's Saturday!  For some reason, that fact is really exciting to me this week.  I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with my husband and children.

I was able to provide a fellow writer with inspiration this week.  Who knew that the simple act of editing someone's story and offering words of encouragement could mean so much to someone?  Well, besides writers like us anyway.

Nothing Earth-shattering happened this week, but overall, it was a pretty good week.  What small things would you like to celebrate?

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #33

If you're looking for today's A-Z entry for the letter W, you can find it HERE.

For those of you who have missed previous installments, you can find the entire story on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #33

The afternoon sun barely cut through the chill in the air.  RC’s face was partially hidden by a faded black scarf.  She pulled the hood of her coat tight over her ears, more to keep out the shouts of the crowd than to protect them from the cold. 

The shouts were a mixed bag, though.  Much as she didn’t like hearing the shouts for blood, which came from those who feared the punishments doled out to the general population in response to any perceived rebellion, she felt encouragement in some of the cries of the brave few who pleaded for mercy.  Patrols scattered about the area were letting them be at the moment, but she had no doubt they were prepared to pounce.  She made sure she wasn’t standing too close to any of the protesters for fear she could get swept up with them if the patrols decided to respond.

RC wondered where Ollie was, but she didn’t dare look for him.  The last thing she needed to do was draw more attention to herself.  Stay calm, out of sight, and keep your eyes peeled for anything threatening, she recited silently.

Though she stood toward the back of the crowd, she occasionally glimpsed the platform up front.  The chopping stone had been set up in the center, and guards flanked it.  Behind the block stood a human male dressed all in black.  The executioner.  The ultimate in traitors, this man killed his own kind at the behest of the alien overlords.  He held a long sword, confirming RC’s suspicions.  They had decided to decapitate Alyx.

The very thought of it made her nauseous.  This method of execution was definitely one of the more brutal options they had at their disposal, at least for those watching.  As long as the blade was sharp enough, it would be over so fast Alyx wouldn’t be able to feel anything.  Not that it’s going to get that far, RC reminded herself.  We will get him out of here in one piece.

RC’s stomach somersaulted when she heard the low rumble at the front of the assembly begin to swell.  She moved slightly so she could have a largely unimpeded view of the platform.  Sure enough, two guards escorted a slender figure wearing a black bag to obscure their face.  She knew it was Alyx, of course, though she he certainly wasn’t moving the way he was the last time she saw him.  There was a distinct limp to his gait as he favored his right leg.  He wore the same clothes he had on when they were captured, only now they were torn to shreds, revealing festering wounds, the red and black of dried blood contrasting with pale skin.  They’d worked him over good, presumably for information he was unwilling to provide.

The guards pushed Alyx to his knees before the block, and one of them unceremoniously plucked the bag from his head.  Now that he stood in the bright light of day, the sun reflecting off of the piles of snow distributed about the area, forced him to squint.  He bowed his head, his matted hair hanging limply and hiding his face.

One of the guards turned to face Alyx.  “Prisoner #137, you are hereby sentenced to death for crimes committed against your leaders.  Do you have anything to say before we proceed?”

Alyx slowly shook his head.  It seemed he’d been through too much to bother with any final words, though RC had a few words for them all.  More important than that though, she hoped Ollie was ready to make his move.

Their plans had changed slightly since they first started formulating this rescue operation.  Ollie was tasked with creating the initial distraction, and he was armed just well enough to make a fuss without necessarily alerting the authorities to a larger attack.  In theory, their comrades would come out and collect Alyx, and RC’s job was to then get Ollie out of any trouble that he would surely be in by that point.  The rebels had provided Ollie with body armor that, hidden discreetly under his clothes, would protect him from most energy weapons and all projectiles.  While this would do him no good should a guard opt for a headshot, it would give him a chance to do what he needed to do.

The executioner moved into place.  She knew without a doubt that, should they fail, she would have to live with the image of this event for the rest of her life.  Of course, odds were that wouldn’t be for very long.

A loud sound suddenly tore through the air.  The crowd reacted immediately.  Within moments, RC could see where Ollie stood as those surrounding him tripped over one another to get away.  Looking back at the platform, she saw that the executioner had folded into a clump of black robes and red blood.  The gun may have been antique and no match for overlord weaponry, but the element of surprise allowed Ollie to get off one perfect shot.

RC reached in her pocket, ready to brandish her own weapon.  She watched as the guards moved toward Ollie, who quickly dove back into the crowd.  Though RC didn’t see it happen, she heard the sound of another bullet tearing a path through the air, and it found a home in the leg of one of the guards.  He dropped to his knees.  RC’s gaze shifted to Alyx, whose eyes were wide with shock.  He focused on the crowd, and she imagined he too was trying to locate the shooter.

The remaining guards left their wounded colleague behind and moved to pursue Ollie.  That’s when several smaller pops went off in quick succession, and thick plumes of smoke swelled and filled the air.  Much as she wanted to run to Alyx, she had to trust that the rebels would fulfill their part of the bargain. 

Instead, she bolted through the crowd in search of Ollie.

Go to Entry #34

W: Weird Wedding Memory

This is a continuous story.  If you're new here, you should start with entry A. You can also find the entire story to date on this PAGE.

Weird Wedding Memory

Though every part of Adam’s body felt like it was ablaze with energy, it wasn’t painful.  It was just . . . odd.  With each cell vibrating with power, it seemed as if he might just come apart.  His molecules would simply drift away from one another, filling the entire room with invisible bits of himself.  Yet, even with all the implications this result would have, Adam didn’t find it alarming.  His brain no longer seemed to have room for worry.

That enabled him to focus on the vision of the giant cake.  The icing was white with yellow and blue flowers piped around the outside of each tier.  The whole assembly stood about ten feet tall.  This cake came from his first childhood memory of something truly bizarre happening to him.

Why is it here now? he wondered.  He hadn't thought of it for so long.

At four years old, he was leaning out the third story window of the apartment where he spent the first ten years of his life.  The cake was set up on the patio far below for a wedding to which his family had not been invited, while almost every other family in the building had been.  Little Adam was disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to eat any of that impressive cake, but that wasn’t going to stop him from looking.

Then came the point when he’d leaned too far.  He felt something shift, and gravity seized him with iron fingers.  He recalled the sensation of falling, and the bewilderment.  He didn’t have time to find fear as he tumbled headfirst toward the waiting world below.  A sugary scent filled his nostrils, and a split second later, he was plunging through the spongy layers of cake.  He stopped when he was buried head-to-waist, leaving his little legs flailing desperately in the air.  At first he thought this was a dream come true.  Then he realized he couldn’t breathe, and his arms were pinned firmly to his sides. 

The cake that kept him from smashing into the cement now threatened to suffocate him.  That kind of death definitely would have made the newspapers.  Fortunately, rough hands grabbed his ankles, and soon he was pulled free, left alone on the patio to lick away the cake and icing that plastered his body while an irritated wedding planner sent a guest to find his parents.

Adam recalled that incident with absolute clarity.  The sense of euphoria that accompanied this brush with death was indistinguishable from the sensation that filled his body as the recalibration procedure continued.  It felt like it always did when things inexplicably worked out for the best.

It took a minute for Adam to realize that the electric current had ceased.  He blinked several times, and the vision of the cake faded, leaving in its wake Layla, Emmett, and a whole crowd of observers.  He pushed himself out of the chair, hastily yanking free the electrodes that hindered his movements.

“Let me get those!” Emmett exclaimed.  “The equipment is delicate!”

More time passed as the scanners became intimately acquainted with Adam and his altered bioelectric field.  “The readings look good,” Emmett confirmed.  “We’ll see how you do the rest of the day so we can be sure how you’re doing.  Still, we’ll have to move quickly.  The human body has a way of resetting to its default over time.  I doubt this change is permanent.”

When Adam left the science lab, Layla walked out with him.  Though she had plenty to do, she wanted to be sure he made it back to his room okay.  “I’m telling you, I feel great,” he insisted.  “You don’t need to worry about me.”  And it was true.  The rush of euphoria had become a constant feeling of well-being.  He felt invincible.  He could only hope this effect was not psychosomatic.

“I hope you’re right,” Layla said.  “I just want to be sure.  You went through a major experimental procedure, after all.  I don’t think I’m overreacting.”

Adam knew she wasn’t overreacting, and it felt good to know that she cared this much about his well-being.  Maybe, if this recalibration really did work as intended, things with Layla could work out the way he’d been hoping.

This thought was cut short as George came catapulting down the corridor.  He flew past Adam and Layla, generating a significant breeze in his wake.  “Sorry, I don’t have time to stop and talk right now!” he yelled behind him.

Adam laughed.  “See?  Mr. Misery doesn’t have time for us.  My luck is improving already!”

Proceed to entry X.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

FSF: The Requirement

For those of you who are here for the A-Z Challenge, you can find my entry for the letter V HERE.

It's time for Five Sentence Fiction!  This week, Lillie provided the following word as a prompt: SHADOWS.

The entire Unchained story to date can be found on this PAGE.

Chapter 29: The Requirement

When Orton woke the next morning, it looked like he could only be a few steps away from his grave as the pain of what his ex-wife had done to him cast shadows across his eyes, informing and impeding his interactions with the world around him.
Blue Eye
by Paramore Pixie on DeviantART

Even so, the brilliant scientist within him could not be felled quite so easily, and over a nice breakfast of pastries and some kind of exotic coffee, Orton explained to the women what he had learned about Ylana’s people since they last met.  “I think I have an idea of what I need to do,” he concluded, “but you must remain here so I can run a few tests.”

Ylana looked at Nara, who gave her an encouraging smile, and considered that while she did not particularly enjoy the idea of being a laboratory experiment, this brought her one step closer in being able to free her people, so there was only one answer she could give.  “I’ll give you what you need.”

Go to The Nevarian World Festival

V: The Vanity Variable

This is a continuous story.  If you're new here, start with entry A.  You can also find the entire story to date on this PAGE.

The Vanity Variable

You might say Adam was crazy for agreeing to undergo a highly experimental procedure that could possibly kill him.  Layla certainly jumped at the opportunity to do so.  Within seconds of him agreeing to the task, she grabbed his arm and pulled him aside.  “Are you mad?”  She was clearly trying to yell at him while also keeping it quiet enough to be discreet and she ultimately failed on both fronts.

“Probably,” Adam confessed, “but I need to do something.  I’ve just been killing time here, but I want to do something useful.  If this is it, then I’m willing to try.”

“You’re already the face of this rebellion.  Can’t that be enough?” she pleaded.  Her hand had never left his arm, and he could feel it trembling.

“And how will I ever be able to earn the respect of the people who learn about this rebellion if I didn’t actually participate in it?”

Layla looked away from him as she considered this.  “If you do this, you may end up being a martyr instead.”

“Which means I’ll still be useful to you in my original capacity,” Adam said lightly.  “Causes love martyrs.”

“That isn’t funny.”

“I know that.”  He touched her cheek, prompting her to look back at him.  “Still, I have to do this, and it may not be as big a risk as you think.  If I really am surrounded by this Ludicrous Field, then the ridiculous odds against this procedure working may work in my favor.”

A smile slowly crept across Layla’s face.  “That’s actually solid reasoning.”

After that little hiccup, they wasted no time.  The procedure necessitated the donning of a surgical gown, which was embarrassing enough to make him have some second thoughts.  So many factors that contributed to his risky choice remained unspoken, though he was aware of them.  Like the fact that he desperately wanted respect.  He wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment.  With all that had been happening to him, he had almost no time to be the kind of man he wanted to be.  And, on top of it all, he wanted Layla to feel like she could count on him to do what needed to be done.  Though vanity played its role in his decision, knowing this fact wasn’t enough to make him change his mind.

Soon Adam was seated in a cool chair, and Emmett set about attaching electrodes to specific points all over his body.  This part took no time at all.  Afterwards he’d use his scanning device, which conveniently enough seemed to perform every function imaginable, to regulate and adjust the electrical current.

“This will feel insane.  At least, I assume it will.  I’ve never done it myself, so I can’t be sure,” Emmett said.  Layla hovered directly behind Emmett, her eyes fixated on the scanner’s readout.

I feel reassured, Adam thought.

“All right.  Here we go,” Emmett announced.

The current began, and Adam’s senses were consumed with fire.  

And memories of a giant cake.

Proceed to entry W.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U: Unexpected Readings

This is a continuous story.  To start from the beginning, go to entry A.  You can also find the whole story to date on this PAGE.

Unexpected Readings

The science lab was a flurry of activity over the next few days.  Layla coordinated the efforts of the engineers effortlessly.  Adam admired the way she asserted her authority, and he couldn’t deny her intelligence.  She was confident in what she did.  That quality about her, which he may have initially perceived as arrogance, didn’t seem so abrasive now.  He wanted to use every excuse he could to find to be around her.  Unfortunately, he knew nothing about nanotechnology, so he could hardly justify getting in her way.

The Knights of the Order of Knitting occupied their own part of the station.  They were tasked with knitting as many blankets as they could.  The knights would work their magic as a large, infuriating distraction.  The more they knitted now, the better their distraction would be.

The rest of the rebellion, an awkward conglomeration of humans and several other species, were studying the schematics of the DULL offices.  Since Adam wasn’t officially part of the shoot ’em up segment of the plan, they didn’t want him around.

That left him spending his time with George, who’d finally recovered from the frat party.  “When smart people get drunk, they become even more eager to prove how smart they are,” he explained as they walked down the same corridor they’d been pacing for hours.  “Parties are a hotbed for recruiting the best and brightest these days.”

“What role did the tutu play in your strategy?” Adam asked.

“That was just a side effect of my strategy.  I had to assimilate to the environment, and playing beer pong with physics and engineering just made sense.”  George shrugged.  “It was also fun.”

“I didn’t know gloomy George could have fun.”

“Only when I’m too wasted to know who I am,” George replied nonchalantly.

When they passed the science lab, Adam decided to pop in to say hi.  He hadn’t been there since breakfast, after all.  George rolled his eyes and continued on his stroll down the corridor.

Layla was in the middle of an intense conversation with several engineering students.  Seeing this, Adam felt a bit awkward about his timing.  Yet when she caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye, she waved him over.  He joined the group, astonished at the amount of technobabble being tossed about between them.  Determined to look like he was keeping up with the conversation, he casually put his hands in his pockets and nodded as people spoke.

After about a minute, Adam noticed a young man in a lab coat wandering toward him with a scanner.  The scanner chirped and screeched, and the young man’s eyes widened with wonder as he stared at the readout.  “Oh wow.  This is unexpected!” he declared.

“Emmett, I thought you were supposed to be monitoring the nanos,” Layla said pointedly.

“I was,” Emmett replied off-handedly, “but when he walked in, the readings went all whack-a-doodle.”

“I suppose that’s a technical term,” Adam jested.

Emmett ignored the comment and held the scanner within an inch of Adam’s ear.  “His bioelectrical readings are bizarre.  These are the same measurements that one would expect of the theoretical Ludicrous Field.”

“What?”  Adam, suddenly the center of attention, felt distinctly uncomfortable.

“Are you serious?”  Layla rushed to the young man’s side and craned her neck to look at the readout.  After several long moments of astounded silence, she muttered, “Oh my.”

“Adam, have you led a disturbingly illogical life?” Emmett man inquired.

When Adam nodded, the motion of the entire room shifted dramatically.  Before he knew it, he was sitting in a corner recounting every embarrassing and irrational moment of his life while a small group of eager students took notes.  He silently regretted that Layla was hearing this too.

“This discovery could win us the Nobel Prize,” one of the students whispered excitedly.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” another cautioned.

After hours of interrogation and measurements, they all seemed to agree on one fact.  Adam Evans was the biggest scientific discovery of the century, and all the absurdities of his life could be reasonably explained.

“We could use this to our advantage,” Emmett said.  The excitement oozed from his words like ink from a broken pen.  “This data shows that he’s had a mixture of both good and bad results from this unique bioelectric field.  If we could calibrate it properly, we could guarantee that the bizarre events that befall him during this mission would only be positive.  If things were to go wrong in there, it might be enough to save them.”

“Could you really do that?” Layla asked.

“I think so.”  Emmett paused.  “Of course, if I got it wrong, it could also kill him.”

Proceed to entry V.