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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clean-up

     Ships in space.  Floating hollow containers shield the fragile occupants inside.  They drift and bump like rudderless canoes.  Metallic shrapnel ricochets like billions of microcomets then is drawn away and collected with powerful targeted electromagnets.  Ceramic and plastic debris is captured in superfine microfilament nets.
     "How's life support on those boats?" 
     The captain can monitor that from her own ship.  This is a gentle reminder for us to hurry up.
     "We have another two cycles before both sides are conscious again.  The Tellurians have secondary systems that survived our initial burst.  The ships are dead but the crews are still alive.  It's the Marsfleet ships, they have emergency oxygen but air scrubbers, recirculators, all their systems are down.  They have about four cycles and they'll be fighting each other for the breather masks."  The captain knows all this.  Is she testing me?
     "Let's get these boats chained and make a path.  Any bits we don't collect make sure they're swept into this system's sun.  Rule one."
    Rule one:  leave no evidence, we were never here.
     We tracked this battle across four solar systems.  Marsfleet pursuing the last Tellurian defenders.   An old story of colonizers against the rebels.  It doesn't really matter now.  Both sides will be slaves and their ships will be salvage.  One cycle after the captain's command dozens of Marsfleet battle carriers along with the remaining Tellurian heavy cruisers and destroyers are linked by a network of invisible energy "chains".  Any uncaptured debris is washed into the nearest sun and the captain gives the order to leave.  In a few short moments our "path", a shortcut through space is generated, and we flee with our booty.
     The perfect crime.  No witnesses.  No evidence.  Did it even happen?  An entire Marsfleet division and the last Free Tellurian Defense battle group vanish.  
     We took them.  They were being wasted anyway.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Classroom Observations

     The ceiling tiles were yellowing.  They curled at the corners and bowed out in the middles.  Too bright fluorescent lights hummed, buzzed, and flickered at a frequency just beyond human sensory capabilities.  The room was warm and dry, but smelled like it had been water damaged at one time.  A mix of formica tables, plastic chairs, and single desks with attached plastic chairs clustered in twos and threes like awkward cliquish teenagers and faced an aging white board.  Once brilliantly new, it had replaced an aging wood-framed green chalkboard.  The giant erasers and chalk nubs were gone, replaced  with dust-free multi-coloured markers and a single hand-sized "cleaning tool".  Their role, to communicate in written and diagrammatic form - to educate, was the same. 
     Elsewhere in the school other white boards were being taken down, some only half a decade old.  New projectors with attached interactive screens were taking over.  Slim and sleek laptop computers crammed with libraries of information continued their conquest, amalgamation, and subsumption of all previous media. Knowledge now came from boxes linked together with plastic ropes.  It shone through a light onto a screen and reflected back into the learners' brains.  Learning was still a safety meeting - nobody moves, nobody gets hurt - but the interface continued to evolve.  How much longer until a direct link between the box and the brain?  No interaction required just a chair and an on/off switch.