View Full Version : The Wrath of Horn

2005-Dec-02, 04:03 AM
This is a story I was thinking of sending in to the schools literary magazine, The Spicey Chicken, What do you think?Its not quit finished.

The Wrath of Horn

“Good morning everyone, I am a Consolidated Computer Corporation 300 series space navigation computer. I will do my best to ensure your safety and comfort on this mission.”

“ Wait a second, you need a better name,” I injected.

“Yes sir, what do you suggest, commander?”

“ How about…uhh…hmm…ahhh…Bob?”

“I like it, the old name was kind of stupid.”

“Have there ever been any malfunctions with the 300 series.” Dr. Li Tsung, computer specialist, said suspiciously.

“The 300 series is considered absolutely foolproof.”

That scared me, a lot. With a chill running down my back, I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have a similar fate to the doomed USS Discovery of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the story the ships computer, Hal, begins to slowly lose his mind during a trip to Saturn, and in the process kills all the crew except one. I would tell you more but I’d ruin the story for you.

Our ships, the Columbia and Challenger (named honor in of the two lost shuttle orbiters) were very different from the Discovery. The Challenger, had a lot in common with the old shuttle orbiters, except longer and lower, and it had many new safety devices, such as a breakaway crew module in the nose. The Columbia, built from a modified upper stage of the Heavy lift version of the Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle, was considered one of the fastest spacecraft built, thanks in part to its Nuclear Saltwater Water Rocket, devised by Robert Zubrin years before. It will shorten our trip time to Mars considerably. It was also quite spacious on the inside, too.

We stopped off at the moon to take on supplies, use the pay phones to call home, and tour what that particular moon base had to offer. I bought a spiffy new Tranquility Base T-shirt. (I came, I saw, I bought the t-shirt! The same mantra I used on a trip to Texas a long, long time ago.)

Then, we went into hibernation for the rest of the duration of the trip to Mars. It was like a long dreamless sleep, which was a welcome change, because I was really getting tired. Then suddenly I was awake, a week too early. Jeff Wallace, robotic arm operator, had also been revived early. ”Bob” wanted us to repair one of the solar panels after a micrometeoroid shower damaged it; since he was incapable of using Challenger’s arm himself (This was a safety protocol, just in case.) I was the one who had to perform the spacewalk (my favorite part). After I had everything patched up, I was ready to go back inside when the straps holding my feet down broke. I felt myself being dragged with invisible hands into this black triangular void that seemed to swallow space and time itself.

“I knew something like this would happen, just like Dave Bowman in 2001. I hope the crew is safe; I seem to have lost contact. Well, I’ve got Also Sprach Therathustra on my iPod, and it seems like it would be very appropriate right now.” I thought this blissfully as I was flung down endless corridors of flashing lights and dazzling arrays of color.

That’s when it stopped, I was still in Mars orbit, but something was drastically different. There, below me was a massive space station, composed of two- dozen shuttle fuel tanks with clear tubes attaching the ships to the station. It dwarfed even the mighty ISS Mk II, which was under construction when we left. Docked to it were several
large spacecraft bearing the names: Carl Sagan, Alexi Leonov, Edwin Hubble, Paperclip (as in operation Paperclip), Duct tape (?), Republic, Von Braun, Hornet, George W.Bush, Tehran, and First Contact (after radio astronomers contacted an alien race, who were really closer than we thought). This was the might fleet of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the United States Space Command.

The next thing I knew, I was on board the Duct tape. An ensign (yes I know that’s a naval term, that’s what it said on his uniform) ordered me to the captain’s office for a debriefing. On the way I saw some surprisingly familiar people. Then there was Captain M. (don’t ask) James Quirk, for all I know he could have been my evil twin; (he wasn’t, as I later found out) we were all most identical (now, isn’t that creepy, but it would be useful later though).

From the nearby dock of the USS Republic, sudden bursts of gunfire caught our attention as we rushed to the bridge. On our way, a massive explosion rocked the ship; we had no choice but to follow them.
At the helm was none other than Tiberius Horn (not to be confused with Zach Horn) and his henchmen, and his current heading was taking him and his stolen spacecraft to the asteroid belt. If there is such a thing as a real-world plot device, this my friends is definitely one.

We pursued them for hours; the radar operator had managed to keep a positive track on them the whole time. They came into view; this was our one shot to take them out while we had a chance. The Weapons Deck crew got one of our missiles prepped for launch. We watched in horror as the missile went off; the other ship was untouched! The order was given to fire all weapons still, nothing. All we could see of it was a faint, distant, blue glow. From this the Republic emerged, again unharmed, as if nothing happened.

I, because both the captain and helmsman had been knocked unconscious, was now in control of the ship. I ordered the bridge personnel to a conference room behind the bridge. Our first strategy was to use one of the two small shuttlecrafts to dock with the other ship and take it back without causing too much collateral damage to a really, really expensive vessel. That possibility was ruled out two minutes later as being highly suicidal since the craft was covered in an almost impermeable shell.

Then I heard a familiar voice, coming from the bridge’s display screen. It was Horn.

“So Quirk, you and your ship is not as powerful as you thought, I could easily smite you if wished. I stole the Republic because I knew it was special. I learned that it was equipped with this shield through your trustworthy CIA. They leaked the information a month ago to the public in an issue of the Popular Science Magazine. Now with this new technology, I am invincible. My master race of supermen shall rule this system with immunity from prosecution. The Sol System is now my playground.”

“Well, apparently my trick worked, he thinks I’m the captain, now to bring in the negotiator,” I told the public relations people. The negotiator, a lady in her late thirties, talked for what seemed like hours.

“So have we reached an agreement on a compromise, we give you a colony on Europa and let you have all the mineral and territorial rights to that area. We’ll stay out of your business and you’ll stay out of ours.”

“I have you answer right here,” Horn said as he sent a stainless steel slug torpedo aimed right at our right engine nacelle. Prompting us to eject it. When the two collided, the whole vessel reeled from the shockwave it created. The bridge crew and I lost our footing and started bouncing around the cabin like pinballs. When I got my grip back, with Velcro strips on my shoes clinging to the carpet, I thought it was about time to reveal my true identity, for reasons unknown.

“You! I can’t believe you survived. I took every conceivable precaution to keep this from happening. Apparently my attempt to sabotage the Challenger had failed. Even the rest of the crew made it out alive some how! The prophecy holds true, one of them would thwart my efforts to control this system and bring about my downfall! How did you get here anyway?”

“Lets just say I’ve got friends in high places. Wait a second”

“But, but… you Horn and the sabotage plan and ,and the uh Challenger, and you, Horrrrn!!!” I said mumbling, and half shouting in disbelief.

Now it was time for plan “B”. “Alright, we surrender, your free to go.” The negotiator said in fearful confusion.

“You’re just going to let him go like that, did you even stop and think what kind of trouble he could have caused,” she said to me in a fashion that was like that of someone had seen a proven serial killer go free.

“Trust me I’ve got it all figured out. Tell every one in the engineering shaft and artificial gravity sections to board the lifeboats and shuttlecraft. We’ll take the command section an, land it back on Mars, and ditch the aft section in a close proximity to Horn’s ship. Then we blow a hole in the antimatter container.”

The remainder of the crew, including myself, buckled in for the blast, as a clock on the view screen counted slowly to zero. Just before the explosion we could see them reveling in their false victory, using live video feeds from a camera mounted on the engineering shaft. Then static filled the screens as we braced for the impending shockwave. When it hit, panels buckled, control consoles sparked and smoked, everyone made it though, no major injuries.

Now it was up to me again. Even though the computer would steer us through the entry into the Martian atmosphere, I was the one who had to land this beast. Before us grew a bright orange glow as the computer put us on the right trajectory to land at the Cydonia spaceport. Once control had been handed over I deployed the main drogue chute to slow us down, then the main parachute, which was made so that its user could steer it to a precision landing. About 30 feet off the ground, the radar operator/co-pilot put the landing skids into the “down” position. He then cut the parachute loose, and deployed a smaller chute to slow us down faster, coming in for a landing just south of the “Face” (actually a practical joke by the valkrans in the 70’s). Woo hoo, back on the ground at last!

I really don’t know why I’m here, or what exactly the purpose of the Pyramid Monolith is. However I do know that this was done for some purpose, but that is one many people will study for years. I do know that I’m here and I might as well enjoy it. The Solar System is now our back yard, there for us to explore.

2005-Dec-02, 04:59 AM
Intriguing. Looks like it will be very good. One suggestion: I would go into a bit more detail about the bit regarding breaking loose and traveling through ... whatever it is he traveled through. This is a very important sequence but you kind of rush through it. I would also describe the ships and space stations in a bit more detail. Perhaps describe a bit about the original space station, compare it to the same aspect of the new one, and go through feature by feature comparing whatever you think is important in order to give us a picture of what the two are like. You could also do a feature-by-feature comparison between your spaceship and a modern space shuttle. All in all it is very interesting, I can't wait to see more.

2005-Dec-02, 06:11 AM
ducttape :)

Although I admit I have seen Ducktape brand tape

Dave Mitsky
2005-Dec-02, 06:30 AM
I wouldn't call ships that can't travel beyond the solar system starships.

Dave Mitsky

2005-Dec-02, 12:19 PM
It´s a canonical sci-fi story, as I see it. It can be a good one. I would suggest you to find other names for spaceships. Orion, for instance, is kinda old... Congrats.

2005-Dec-02, 10:29 PM
Looks like I've got alot to do, any suggestions for names? Also the Duct tape was named after a fictional project by the USAF to convert captured Nazi V-2's into their manned counterparts. One of them crashes on a New Mexico ranch in 1947.

2005-Dec-03, 01:57 AM
Well, if these are military vessels then a mix of historical battles and US president names would be best (following Aircraft Carrier naming conventions from today). I personally see no reason why the US would change their current military vessel naming conventions merely because the military activities start taking place in space, so I think it is best to follow the naming conventions currently used for equivalent vessels. See here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aircraft_carriers_of_the_United_States_Nav y) for a list of names that have already been used. Hornet, Ranger, Independence, Wasp, Langley, Lexington, Princeton, Saratoga, Wasp, and Yorktown have each been used twice already, so I would probably use a couple of them. Then pick maybe a couple recent battles, or ones that have not taken place yet but you think may happen soon (maybe USS Baghdad or USS Tehran, although there don't appear to be any post-WWII battles used yet so anything in that timeframe is good). Then pick either a few recent presidents (maybe both USS George W Bush and USS Bill Clinton to be fair) or a few really obscure and unimportant presidents (to imply that they have gone through the list of important ones and had to start using insignificant ones, although a lot of people may not get the joke so this may not be a good idea). I would stick to names that have some significance to the readers, so current events or events of recent memory for people your age would be the best targets. So although battles from the Korean War and Vietnam War are probably more likely choices, I would avoid them (except perhaps for USS Saigon) because the average person of your age would be unlikely to recognize them. I would also avoid obscure presidents from before Reagan that your readers would be unlikely to immediately recognize, or at least recognize the significance of. The idea is to strike a chord with your readers, like events of their time are being remembered in this future time. I think eliciting this connection may be very useful for drawing the readers into the story and making them feel more "part" of ut. Having something recognizable for your readers to latch on to is very important for a story set far in the future on another planet where everything will probably feel very alien to them, and since this is for a school literary magazine you know exactly how old your readers are and thus know exactly what should be familiar to them and have an emotional impact on them.

2005-Dec-03, 02:30 AM
Ah, got it, also the ships in a prequel followed a millitary pattern, Enterprise, Lexington,and Essex.