By Kenneth Shumaker
Episode 006, ‘Red Moose Automobile’
April 11, 2017
August 12, 2017
Challenge: Issue 116
- Colin Riley
- High Prairie, Alberta
Our story takes place in Kenneth Shumaker’s 5th Galaxy science fiction realm of the Toran sector with the crew of the starship, Star Grean. Her captain is the enigmatic and sly thirty-six-year-old Veran human male, Levan, who is the default owner of Flind Exploration Corporation. Levan lives in a society that is dominated by females, ran by corporate political organisations, which obeys the female ran Venkaer religious institution. This is a society where no male is given the opportunity to command, or own property. Yet, we find Levan to be Captain of the Star Grean and her crew, even with a Venkaer’s 3rd Purist on board.
In the previous Episode 005 on 216:04:28:06:00
The crew simply wants to survive now. Entering into the new system, the Star Grean is struck down twice more. Yet the crew of the Star Grean do their best to pick her up again. They are running exhausted as they fly in-system, and then they sling around the star, Tunda and back out to the system’s big gas giant, losing velocity as they go.
We now continue in Episode 006 on 216:04:31:03:06 with:
Exhausted, the crew needs more rest, even though they had a full rest period yesterday. Levan is playing his green Royal Pheasant guitar to a lesser known Cora tune from ten years ago, as 3rd Purist Frena is singing the words to the campy tune for the seven others in the mess hall.
Horrace is still in the med bay recovering from his surgery.
Coming near the end of the song, the two performers pause and grin. It’s the raunchiest part of the song, and their minds are on each other.
Gunner Kendra glares at Frena as the two performers dreamily look into each other’s eyes. Storming out of the mess hall, Kendra lets the others know that she’s upset, but not about why, though Levan and Frena have their suspicions.
Back in their cabin, Levan timidly asks, “How do the Purists view a triad, Frena?
Amused at Levan’s timidity, but also used to it from males, Frena shrugs, answering, “The Church doesn’t forbid them. But you never asked how I feel?”
Bowing and kneeling in front of the 3rd Purist, pale with fear, Levan asks, “Begging your forgiveness 3rd Purist, I had meant to ask, what is your opinion on the subject?”
Ruffling his hair, Frena shakes her head, saying, “No. What you want to know is, what do I think of Kendra and us together? … There’s not enough room in our bed for her, Levan. But … perhaps Talla can remedy that? It would resolve our issue with Kendra, in all likelihood … I hope … shall I propose this to her? Do you think you can satisfy us both?”
Swallowing hard, turning bright red and feeling warmer, Levan answers, “There really is only one way to know, 3rd Purist.”
Teasing him further, she strokes his chin. “Then we’re going to find out as soon as Talla modifies our bed … If Kendra agrees? I’ll talk with her.”
Concerned for his safety, Levan watches the 3rd Purist grinning broadly as she enters the command deck. With an evil grin, she walks over to Talla and softly talks with him.
Then Talla gives Levan a confused glance.
Levan simply shrugs and decides to nod.
Talla turns back to Frena, talks to her and then he nods.
Finally, gleefully happy, the 3rd Purist prances to her seat and plops into her couch. “Well, my sweet, be prepared to be further exhausted in a couple days. Talla says he’ll remanufacture our sleeping quarters to accommodate three. Tomorrow, during our work shift, he’ll do it with the help of the junior engineers.”
Gasping involuntarily, Levan didn’t believe the two women would agree to this, not this easily. Now, what does he do? Stiffening his body, he mans-up and replies, “Understood, 3rd Purist.” Blinking, he tries to figure out how much sleep he’ll be getting – not likely any for awhile – unless it’s on a work shift.
The mischievous female humar from the ever energetic Fren race smiles and leans over across the space between their couches, kissing his lips. Frena consoles Levan, saying, “You’ll get used to two females commanding you. Trust me; you’ll like it and enjoy it.”
Somehow Levan’s not so sure, and he turns back to his monitors. In his entire life, until a few short weeks ago, he couldn’t get a female interested in him except for the tender ministrations of grandma Velma. Now he has this: sleeping with and sharing two women who will dominate his life, even though he is technically their superior officer. How the gods is this supposed to work?
He watches the purple puppy burst forth on the night side of the northern hemisphere of the moon for perhaps the hundredth time, thinking that perhaps he is the blue bottle donkey in truth.
Turning to Kni, he keeps his thoughts to himself. “Kni, give me your report on the planet.”
Kni had been watching Levan and Frena, feeling somewhat envious, but concerned for Levan, too. He reports, “Captain, the planet is of no use to us; it has no solids at its core that we can access. The atmosphere is so full of sulphurous gases that it is totally toxic to us, and according to Engineer Talla, it is too difficult to filter to be of use.”
About to swear, he feels Frena touch his arm, and as he looks over at her. He notes her disapproving expression as she shakes her head. Settling back into his couch and muttering nonsense, Levan then asks, “Then what about the moons?”
Kni answers quickly, “With my scanning, I’ve found eight moons with usable atmospheres, and five of those have appreciable water sources. One moon’s atmosphere is totally methane filled. Moon twenty-three, the one you keep watching on your monitor, contains life. The moon is roughly planet-size at fifteen thousand kilometres in diameter, with a surface of roughly twenty-seven percent water. Life is abundant, as it has temperate and tropical zones, due to its proximity to the gas planet and their orbit of Tunda.”
Thinking this over, Levan comes to a decision. “We’re going into the orbit of moon twenty-three. Then I’ll shuttle down with an engineer and marines to gather resources to get some repairs completed, and get us better situated.”
Keying the com to all speakers for all decks, Levan says, “Five minutes to get strapped into your jump couches. We’re going to leave orbit, going through manoeuvres.”
Levan laughs as he extracts himself from the embraces with Kendra and Frena. This would be their first rest shift together in their newly shared quarters. The two women understand his need to pilot the shuttle down to the moon’s surface now. But it doesn’t mean either one of them is happy. Truth be told, Levan almost feels some relief.
Sweating in their space suits, Junior Ensign Engineer Lester and Biogeoscientist Kni are waiting with both marine privates on the shuttle. Levan, also sweating in his space suit, waits to leave the Star Grean’s two females to pilot the newest class of planetary shuttle available. He’s flown it to pilot the crew from Mort up to the Star Grean; this is his third flight of the shuttle. The beast carries up to six passengers, and they’re landing with five. The cargo space is empty going down. They want to fill it with two tonnes of resources to bring back.
Cautiously, Levan pulls away from the two females after kissing them. Kendra is so much more relaxed now. Levan hopes she doesn’t become too relaxed.
The Star Grean was put in orbit around the moon’s equator an hour ago by Levan, just as the crew went into the rest period for the new day. But Levans’ accelerated the resource search, mostly for selfish personal reasons which he hasn’t shared, explaining to the others that he’s nervous about the low air and the damages of the Star Grean and that he needs to fix these.
As the shuttle is settling down in the plains, twenty kilometres north of the native’s settlement, Levan sets the shuttle down with barely a bump.
He shuts down the two planetary engines and runs the environmental test scanners for atmospheric factors. Muttering to the gods under his breath, Levan says to the others, “We need rebreathing gear. The air is full of sulphurous gases that’ll kill us in less than a minute if we breathe it.”
Breaking out the survival packs, the crew gears up. Levan mounts the universal translator on his back. He will carry the ten-kilogram computer with him to use with the local natives.
They cycle through the airlock before entering the coolness of the grey-blue moon. Kni says, “There is a roadway we can use a hundred meters from here, on the other side of that shrubbery.”
Following Levan, the team marches westward over the plain. They break through the thin five-meter-tall hedge of orange shrubbery, coming out onto a twelve-meter-wide roadway. Looking right then left, Levan turns to Kni and gestures south. Kni nods, saying, “Yes, twenty-one kilometres.”
Nodding, Levan begins walking to their left with the others following.
Having walked for nearly three hours without seeing anyone, the team is shocked when a three-meter high mechanical red moose approaches them on the road. The odd-looking mechanical moose is chugging greyish black smoke, with steam billowing out in great grey and white clouds. It’s moving along, approaching them at over eighty-kilometers-an-hour. The vehicle manages to come to a rumbling halt five meters from the team. The marines quickly move to the fore, between the moose and the rest of the team, with laser rifles pointed at the ground but set to full charge beam.
A noisy rattling rumble comes from the left side as a door swings open and out steps a nearly four-meter tall creature rising up on its three massive tree-trunk-like legs. Levan thinks it must have occupied the whole of the front seat of the two-and-a-half-meter wide red moose-automobile. Chuckling that this intelligent behemoth stands almost more than twice his height, Levan moves between the marines to stand in front of them. He keys the universal translator and hopes the machine is quick to pick up this creature’s speech.
“Greetings, I’m Captain Levan of the Humar Territory. I wish to speak with you.” He realises that he can’t even tell if this is a male or female, or if it even has clothes on?
The creature grumbles a deep tenor string of speech, waving about its three arm appendages with the hands that each have six fingers with two thumbs. It goes on and on as if telling a story. Eventually, the translator begins picking out single words here and there. Levan lets the beast continue its monologue; he’s happy it’s so verbose.
He looks at the red moose-automobile thinking that the engine is steam power, fired by what appears to be coal. Odd.
As the universal translator’s microphones and video camera’s listen and watch the creature, the translator begins forming phrases and sentences from the monologue. Levan realises that it’s telling them its family genealogy. He tries not to laugh at the creature, allowing it to continue for a few more minutes.
Once he’s sure the translator is catching most of the words, Levan motions and repeats. “Greetings, great one. I am Captain Levan of the Interstellar ship, the Star Grean. We are from the Humar Empire; we seek your aid.”
Stopping its monologue, the creature hurmps and says, “Captain Levan, I’m Huss Lor of Yuses Village. What do you need?”
Sighing as he sees they’re now getting somewhere, Levan says, “We need several canisters of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. As well as a few hundred kilograms in several bars of hard metals.”
Huss Lor jumps into his red moose-automobile, closes the door, and drives right at the team, resulting in the team rushing for the road side. Huss Lor speeds off gaining speed to over a-hundred-kilometers-an-hour.
Confused, the Star Grean’s crew look from one to the other. They shrug and start walking again in the same direction they were originally headed.
Seeing the smoke of the buildings ahead, the team stops. Levan is amazed at the enormous size of the structures. Seeing the rooftops of the buildings in the village ahead, he is having second thoughts about this. Especially after the reception by Huss Lor.
Grunting, and committing them to encounter the villagers, Levan starts the last two-kilometer walk, only to feel the ground shaking and hearing the rumbling of some contraption approaching from behind them. The group turn in time to react making a dive for the sides of the road as Huss Lor brings his red moose automobile to a rumbling stop just behind them. He is followed by an even odder contraption that is impossible to describe, but Levan decides to call it a barnacle truck.
Huss Lor leaps out of his car and asks, “Your list? That was everything you wanted?”
Confused, Levan can only laugh lightly at Huss Lor’s excitement and his odd antics as he leaps about.
Nodding, Levan answers, “That will get me started.”
As he stops directly in front of Levan, Levan peers into all three of Huss Lor’s sea-green eyes. Huss Lor says, “Then I want on your airship.”
Stunned at such a request, Levan looks up at the scaley top of Huss Lor’s domed head. Levan estimates that the creature is 3.53 metres tall when standing at full height, and he has to be at least six hundred kilos. It would be impossible to fit him on the crew decks of the shuttle or ship with their one-point-eight meter ceilings and floors that are only meant to withstand loads up to two hundred kilos. Not to mention, there are no sulphurous gases in the ship’s air.
How to tell Huss Lor this? “Master Huss Lor, let me show you my airship, and you will know why I can only show you my ship. You won’t be able to get into it. What is your second vehicle?”
Huss Lor waves two arms violently at the other vehicle, a door springs open and out leaps another of these behemoths, running towards them excited, or at least Levan assumes they’re excited. Huss Lor exclaims, “This is my pod brother, Huss Lur. He is driving my truck with your supplies; cylinders of gas and trusl bars.”
Huss Lur greets the team, whispering, “Captain Levi, it is so honourable to meet an airship captain. We are so blessed. I’ve only heard of such things. Please, may we see your airship?”
By, Kenneth Shumaker
To be continued in Episode 007 on 216:04:33:11:12 …
On the surface of Lesraga, the five crew members of the Star Grean must deal with intelligent natives who are more than twice their size to get the necessary supplies off the moon and to the Star Grean. Once they have the supplies, they need to proceed with outfitting and repairing the ship, resulting in a vital vote that determines the future of all the crew members.
© 2017 by Kenneth Shumaker with Inevitable Unicorn Press
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About the author: Kenneth Shumaker (Rusty Knight)
Following a long break from writing, Kenneth recovered his passion for writing. He is a science fiction and fantasy genre author, as well as a non-fiction writer, with Inevitable Unicorn Press (InUPress). Kenneth has been blogging with the Owerton Challenge and other blogs for many years. He now writes several serial short stories. Kenneth’s two businesses, his wife, his two children, and his six grandchildren keep him busy.
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