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Authors: Bruce George

Tags: #space opera, #science fiction, #spaceship, #space war, #alien contact, #military sci fi, #star fighter

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BOOK: Starting from Scratch
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“Not in America. It could cause problems. I was
thinking Mexico. We could get a long term lease, probably from any
number of the wealthy landowners down there. We can pay in advance
with cash or gold. Bambi can keep the trouble makers at bay and the
local government can probably be bribed to leave us alone.”

Mike chuckled, as he said, “Son, you’re a chip off
the old block. A little larceny can go a long way. And if the
Americans find us out, we tell them the truth, that we didn’t trust
them to take the need seriously, so we did it on our own. Either
way, we’re going to need everything we can get. And once the cat is
out of the bag, we’ll let the Americans inspect the site, so that
they can see we’re not planning a military coup.”

“Wayne, work with Bambi and do some research on
possible locations in Mexico. You’ll have to consider the
pliability of the local government and the landowner. Also, be
aware of the local criminal organization in the area. We can pay
them to leave us alone, but if they get greedy, we’ll have to
eliminate them.”

Mary seemed upset about that. “Mike, do we always
have to resort to violence?”

“No, we don’t. The bad guys will be given a chance to
make some money. As long as they leave us alone, they’ll be left
alone. But if they won’t leave us alone, they become a hindrance to
the human race. So, they’ll have to go.”

She pleaded, “Can’t we use Bambi to get some evidence
on them and have the Mexicans lock them up.”

Mike gave her a cold glare. “Look, we only have so
much time to prepare for the Saurans. So let me ask you this. Which
innocent families do want to see killed by aliens first, because
that’s what’s going to happen if we can’t stop them. So, some low
life, drug dealing, piece of shit assholes that don’t give a flying
fuck about anyone’s life but their own is going to get all of us
killed. That’s the nasty reality we face.”

She looked embarrassed and shocked by his
outburst.

He felt terrible about his tirade, but it was true
and too late to retract.

“I’m sorry I was so rough with you, Mary. It may have
seemed uncalled for, but it is the situation we find ourselves in.
We don’t have the time to pussyfoot around with a few criminals who
would rape and murder you without shedding a tear.”

She nodded, straightened her back and said, “OK. I
understand. But you know what? My concern is going to be the
concern of every scientist we get. What do we tell them?”

“The truth…like I just did. There’s no use in sugar
coating it. The human race is in a fight for their very survival.
If these people don’t want to help, they are out of the
program.”

She shrugged her shoulders. “I hope we don’t lose
anyone over this.”

“Honey, these are smart people. They may balk at this
at first. So, we give them a chance to consider the alternative.
They might not like what must be done, but I imagine most of them
will come around.”

All of them filed out and Mike headed for the bridge.
He intended to learn more about flying this big bird. Bambi gave
him a familiarization program, which was quite extensive. It took
forty one minutes. For a normal human, it would have been a three
week course.

“Bambi, I notice that there aren’t separate control
stations for navigation, engineering or firecontrol…why not?”

“The Saurans don’t need them and neither do you. One
person, plus me, can run everything. That’s an enormous time saver
in a battle that can be over in seconds. As I’ve told you, I’ve
never been in combat. But, if this were a warship, I would have
complete control of all areas within the ship and I’d handle all
ship movement. The Senior Pilot would tell me what he wanted me to
do and I would do it.

She explained, “I’ve heard that space battles start
out very slowly, due to the great distances and speeds. Both sides
can see the other’s movements and are able to adjust for the coming
action. The actual firing of weapons and the results are over very
quickly as the opponents pass each other, at enormous speeds,
frequently beyond the speed of light.”

He had come to realize that Bambi assumed that
whatever the Saurans did was the best way to do it. So, Mike
challenged her on that.

“What happens if something unforeseen happens? What
if the enemy gets a lucky hit on a Sauran ship and it loses an
engine or has a few of their weapons damaged?”

“General that rarely happens. I suspect most
successful hits result in complete failure for the ship.”

“You mean that most hits are unsurvivable and the
entire crew is lost.”

“Yes sir.”

“But if an engine is lost, don’t you need robots or
some of the crew to fix it.”

“Yes, but usually if the ship has been hit and the
crew is still alive, there’s plenty of time for repairs. Most of
the crew is still in stasis and it will take a few days to complete
their rise to consciousness. The ship just keeps on moving in the
last direction it was heading and it’s still going at a tremendous
velocity. Usually, it drifts along in space, millions of miles away
from the battle and the crew takes their time fixing it.”

“Like how long?”

“Anywhere from two weeks to two years.”

“Good grief. Two years?”

“Yes sir. There is no urgency to return to the
battle, because there are always other ships available to deal with
it. So, the surviving crew is in no hurry to make repairs. It is
considered very good luck to be on a wounded ship, because they
know they’ll have lots of free time. Saurans can be hell in battle,
but there is a broad lazy streak that runs through all of them.

“Even transports like this one can have the rare
accident and become incapacitated. When it occurs, the crew first
makes sure the ship is safe. Then they eat and play games. There is
no great urgency to make repairs. It is like a…vacation.”

“How in the hell did they ever get so
successful?”

Bambi coldly replied, “Superior numbers and
technology, General.”

“Hey, you said most of the crew would be in stasis.
Certainly that wouldn’t be true if they were in a combat zone.”

“Yet, that is the case, sir. The ships don’t need a
large crew to handle them, even in combat. That’s the reason for
computers like me. We direct a variety of robots to provide
operational needs in every situation. We deal with all functions,
from normal cruising to combat.

“The only reason they have as many crewmembers as
they do is to provide for rotation and training, which is minimal.
Also, every crewmember is a potential combat warrior. They can be
used for boarding operations and partake in planetary
invasions.

“There have been cases where the entire conscious
crew was killed and the computer continued the fight. We are
programmed for that.”

Mike went silent for a moment, as he pondered the
nature of combat in space. He knew he was way out of his element.
He was a ground pounder. What they needed was someone who was
familiar with large scale naval maneuvers.

“Bambi, in the mix of old vets we rescued, are there
any naval officers?”

“Yes sir, there are five officers and eight enlisted
men. Within the officer ranks there is one Captain, three
Commanders and one Lieutenant Commander.”

“I don’t suppose you know whether or not they were
line officers?”

“All of them.”

“Excellent. Get me a copy of their records and send
them to me.”

“You will find those records in a file marked Human
Resources under the sub file listed as Military Personnel and a
sub-sub file listed as Navy. Those files are there now, sir.”

“Oh good. I love it when you anticipate my
needs.”

“I didn’t. I just now created them for you as we were
talking and sent the information to those files. I realize that
seems impossibly fast to you, but it’s not. You really have to make
an effort to use what you’ve got. When you do, you’ll make much
better use of your time.”

He disliked when Bambi admonished him. It reminded
him of his old high school English teacher. That old bag had been
quite shrill when she took him to task. The memory sent a shudder
down his back.

He weakly said, “I know and I will. It’s just that
events have been moving quickly and I’m just beginning to catch up
to them.”

Again she scolded him. “And if you would spend a
little time experimenting with your new mind, you would be handling
ten times the duties you’re currently doing. When I took you
through the upgrade, I reorganized your brain.”

“Great!”

“Damn it Mike.” She was obviously angry. That always
surprised him, because she was a computer, albeit a sentient
one.

In an irritated tone, she took him to task. “You have
a degree in computer science so let me explain it a different way.
When a hard drive is reformatted, essentially it is wiped clean,
and then you start all over. You were partially reformatted. Your
brain was cleaned, but I saved the files you already had; those
were your memories. When I reloaded them into your new cleaner
brain, I put back everything in neatly organized files, not like
they had been, which was a bunch of random memories.

“I performed a clean disk function, before I gave you
back your old files. So now, every memory is complete. All of the
fragments have been joined together in order. When you seek a
memory, it will be the entire memory of whatever event you wish to
look at.

“Not only did I reorganize what you had in there, I
loaded a great deal of other information, with regard to all of
your new capabilities. There is so much more available to you now.
But, if you don’t poke around in there, you’ll be missing out on
what you can do.”

He should be thankful, but gratitude didn’t come
easily for him. He began to try and look in his mind. He found
nothing. It was plain to him that he was doing it wrong.

“Bambi, are you sure this is going to work. Maybe the
upgrade didn’t take properly. I don’t believe I think any
differently, although I have noticed I tend to make decisions
quicker.”

Then he asked, “Do you know if the others are having
a problem with this? Am I the only one that’s a flop?”

Going back into comm mode, she responded,
No sir.
Everyone is having difficulty accessing their full mind power. I
find it interesting really. All of you have demonstrated some
ability to utilize the upgrade. But you each show it in a different
way.

Mary probably has progressed the furthest and
fastest and I suspect that is due to the nature of her previous
experience in thinking as an engineer. You know, very orderly and
detailed, so it is opening up for her more quickly.

I should remind you that upgrading was new to me,
also. I had never done this on a human before. That’s one reason
you had such a tough time of it and I’m truly sorry for not doing a
better job for you. But I was learning as I worked through the
process for humans. The people who go next will have it much
easier, thanks to you Max, Wayne and Mary.

An idea hit him. “Isn’t there some way you can aid us
in our efforts to browse through our minds? I mean, can you join
with me somehow and show me some pointers?”

I would need your approval to enter your head,
remember. I had made that commitment to you, once you realized I
had seen all of your memories. So, for me to crawl through the
shallow surface levels of your minds, each of you must give me your
approval first. I hope that once you have begun to master that,
you’ll be able to go deeper without me. It’s possible I may
discover a few things you’d rather not have me be aware of.
However, I promise to keep those things private and not mention
them to anyone and that goes for anyone I’m helping.

Thank you, Bambi. I officially give you access to my
brain, for the purpose of helping me to learn how to use it. Now,
pop my top, or whatever it is you have to do.

He knew she was going in through his comm unit, which
was the primary reason for upgrading, as far as he was concerned.
Mike felt nothing physical; yet somehow, he knew she was in
there.

She commed,
Mike, whenever I want to draw your
attention to a certain file or sub-file, I’m going to create high
lights in your thought process. It won’t be a blinking light, yet
it should pull your mind to my bookmark.

He became aware of Sherry, and then Wayne,
remembering a day they had all spent together at the beach. Wayne
was seven and played in the surf with his dad all morning. Sherry
had looked sexy as hell in a new two-piece swimsuit, which resulted
in a passionate evening, after Wayne had been put to bed. It was
one of his fondest memories of them all together as a family. It
was how life was meant to be enjoyed.

Bambi, you sure picked a great file for me.

Yes, I know how much that memory meant to you. I
felt it would be easier for you to find a doorway to your
potential, by drawing you in through a pleasant memory file. Now
that you are in, let me highlight a few other files. As you look in
them, you should begin to grasp how to browse without my help.

As I’ve said before, you need to practice. The more
you do, the better you’ll get.

For the next two hours, she took him to files that
offered him the opportunity to realize how extraordinary his mind’s
capability really was.

Suddenly he blurted out, “I’m starving to death. I
need to eat.”

Yes, that’s one of the drawbacks to using your
upgrade. It drains your body’s resources and warns you of the need
to replenish, before you begin to slow down. I can’t be sure, just
yet, but I think the more you learn how to best use what you have,
you will build stamina and last a lot longer, before you begin to
fade.

“Is this a problem for the Saurans, too?”

Yes, but they’ve been dealing with their abilities
for many generations. However, they do tire. From what I’ve
observed in the mediocre crews on board the Mother Ship, they don’t
seem to work at it, because they are never challenged. It’s been so
long since they had to use everything they had, they don’t bother
to maintain it at their full capability.

BOOK: Starting from Scratch
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