Read Starting from Scratch Online

Authors: Bruce George

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

Starting from Scratch (5 page)

BOOK: Starting from Scratch
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

While it may not give you the huge edge you need, it
could play a small part in giving you some hope. Now go eat.

 

 

Chapter
3

 

 

Max, Wayne and Mike ate together in Max’s room. They
chatted about their new abilities and each of them confessed that
he felt intimidated by the volume of capabilities they had with a
mere thought.

His son admitted, “It’s not that I’m actually afraid
of it. It’s just that it’s vast and there is so much to learn. But,
I’ve got to tell you, I definitely learn faster and, depending what
I’m working on, once I play with it, it sails along quickly.”

Max looked at Wayne and added, “Yeah, me too. I’ve
also noticed that after working with a new set of files, I can
retrieve the info with ease and utilize the contents, without
concern that I’m doing it wrong. I can see were this gives the user
a distinct advantage over a non-user.”

The old General cast a glance at Mike, as he asked,
“How about you?”

“Same. To tell you the truth, I’m a little
embarrassed by the ease of use, once you get the hang of it. But,
I’ve got to agree with Wayne. The size of what is available to me
is daunting. Bambi tells me that it will get easier for everyone,
as they work on it. We need to keep that in mind, as the newbies
come on board. We have to insist that they work with their new
mental abilities.”

He shoved a spaghetti blob into his mouth and became
serious.

“Gentlemen, we are going to have to trust the
Americans almost completely. And we’re going to tell them that. I
think we’ll bring them two fabricators, one small and one large.
They need to see for themselves what some of this remarkable
technology can do. Of course it will only manufacture what we’ve
already programmed it for. There’s no sense in having it make solid
gold ID badges for congressmen.”

“We’ll ask them to devote the fabricators use to
building items that will aid in the defense of the solar system.
The idea of defending just the planet is foolish. Hell, if we can’t
defend the solar system, then the Earth doesn’t stand a
chance.”

Max agreed immediately. “I think that’s the only way
we can hope to create a viable chance at victory. If we can make
the enemy spread his forces throughout the solar system, he will be
weaker everywhere. Even his strong points will be weaker, as
well.”

Wayne, mumbled, “Yeah, he’ll be trembling in his
boots. And don’t forget, we’ll be spread out too.”

Mike scolded him. “You can knock that shit off right
now, Wayne. As leaders we have to present a united front to the
men. That front has to seem solid and confident and you know it. So
buck up, sonny boy. Win, or lose, we go after this as though
victory is inevitable, because there won’t be any draw in this
fight. It’s all or nothing for the human race.”

“I know. I just wish you wouldn’t give me a speech
every time I voice my doubts. If I can’t reveal my concerns in
private with my commanding officer then who can I vent them
to?”

Max demonstrated his wisdom, born from years of
experience as a senior commander. “He’s right, Mike. We have to
allow our immediate staff the luxury of being honest about their
worries. If we shut them down, then we’re going to miss some flaw
in a plan or within our ranks. We don’t want to engage the enemy
without knowing the negative possibilities as well as positive.
Damn it, Sergeant Hurst, you know that.”

Mike smiled and said, “You right, Max. And it’s
Sergeant First Class Hurst. I worked damn hard to make E-7.”

“Bambi, are you taking notes?”

“Yes sir. Send one small and one large fabricator to
Earth on the next trip.

“By the way, Sir. I have those videos for the newbies
ready to go. We can begin waking them any time you want.”

“Great! Start right now and notify Mary, Al and Jo
that we’ll be along shortly.”

He turned to the other two men and said, “We have a
major problem in intelligence. We ain’t got none.”

Max grinned, but it was not a happy grin. “True
enough. We talk about defending Earth and the solar system, but we
have no idea what kind of weapons the Saurans will bring, or what
sort of weapons would be effective against their ships.”

Wayne offered some hope to them. “That’s not entirely
true, sir. Mary and I were discussing this last night and we think
it is reasonable to assume the Saurans are using the same sort of
drive this ship uses. They are almost certainly more powerful and
agile, but maybe Bambi could shed some light on how they work and
these scientists could review the design for it and come up with a
way to counter its performance.

“As for any weapons they might have, you can bet they
have at least something along the lines of the plasma guns we’ve
been toying with.”

Bambi jumped in. “I am beginning a search of my files
for any reference to engines other than the type on this vessel. If
there were any such info, it would indicate that the Saurans use a
different drive for warships. If not, then it is reasonable to make
the assumption Colonel Hurst has suggested.

“Also, as I have indicated before, I do not possess a
complete set of plans for the engines on board, just a set of
maintenance guidelines, although they are extensive and precise.
That may help in determining a greater potential from larger
engines, or variations of them. I suppose there is even the
possibility of learning enough from the guidelines to build a
prototype. If it works, we may be able to fabricate our own
spaceships.”

Everyone smiled and Mike gushed, “Now you
talking.”

In a very mechanical voice, Bambi responded, “Yes
sir, I was talking.”

“Don’t pull that dumb computer shit on me now,
Bambi.”

Contritely she answered, “OK.”

Other than Mary, Al and Jo, no one else had been to
sickbay since their return to the Mother Ship. So when the three
men walked down to that area, they were amazed to see that it had
undergone extensive alterations. Bambi and her robots had been
busy. There were now large recovery wards, spreading out from the
main sickbay, holding twenty beds each, much like a hospital’s
wings.

Each recovery room was playing a video to the people
who were just getting used to their repaired and slightly younger
bodies. Most of them watched with rapt attention, as Mary’s face
explained the new facts of life, regarding what had been done for
them.

They found her in one room, speaking with a few men
and women, who were obviously the scientists they had kidnapped.
She was apologizing for the unfortunate way in which they had been
captured and assured them they were safe and would have the option
of returning home or sticking around for further improvements to
their bodies and minds.

Mike watched from the sidelines, as Mary answered the
anticipated questions, some of which were quite hostile. Finally, a
woman noticed him, angrily pointed his way and shocked him by
asking, “Is that the son-of-a-bitch who runs this cluster fuck. I
want to talk with him.”

Saving Mary the necessity of a response, he strolled
into the room and announced, “Mike Hurst, ma’am, how can I help
you.”

“What gives you the right to kidnap us? Who the hell
do you think you are? When we report this, you’re going to be in
real trouble.”

Several of the scientists looked concerned at the
woman’s brazen assault on Mike.

Bambi, open a screen and show these people where we
are.

When one entire wall lit up and the view of outer
space appeared, there were oohs and aaws from most of them.

After ten or fifteen seconds, the lady dove right
back at Mike. “Listen buster, tricks like this might fool the
average person, but most of us aren’t so easily hornswaggled.”

Bambi, take the gravity down to one tenth of Earth,
but just in this ward.

People began to yell and curse, as some of them lost
there balance and went down to the deck, although not hard.

He stared at the lady, who looked a little more
concerned, as she said, “All right; that’s a nice trick and I admit
I’m interested as to how you did that.”

Mike gave her his best smile and told her, “Ma’am, I
have no idea. I’m a military guy, not physicist.”

Then he slowly walked toward her, as he extended his
hand. “I’m Mike Hurst, Ma’am. May I have the pleasure of knowing to
whom I am speaking?”

The woman seemed thrown off by his weak attempt at
charm, but not for long. She straightened her back, threw her chest
out and defiantly told him, “I am Dr. Elizabeth Fulwiler and I’m
not about to shake the hand of the man responsible for kidnapping
us.”

“Dr. Fulwiler, did you pay any attention at all to
the video?”

“I’m not going to be brain washed by you and your
fancy equipment, Mr. Hurst.”

Mary corrected the woman. “Actually Doctor, it’s
General Hurst.”

The woman gave Mary an angry glare and told her,
“Listen sweetie, I’m not impressed with titles, just results. And
this guy hasn’t done anything to impress me.”

Mike had always had a short temper, especially where
arrogant type A personalities were concerned.

“Mary, put this woman in stasis and ship her back to
the planet. She’s to damn full of herself to be of any use to the
people of Earth.”

He turned around and began to leave. Mary ran after
him, saying, “Mike, she’s one of the most promising scientists of
the group. We really need her. She’s a brilliant physicist.”

He spun on Mary and whispered loudly, “Oh no we don’t
need her. I’ve seen far too many extremely bright Generals who
fucked up every mission they were involved with, because they were
more interested having people kiss their ass than getting the job
done. I’ll put up with a lot, but not someone who puts her sense of
grandeur above the lives of the human race.”

No one missed his words, although he had seemed to
whisper them. He stormed out, leaving the newbies with their mouths
agape.

As he angrily marched down the passageway, Mary
commed him.
The woman was frightened, Mike. Some people react to
that with anger. Please allow me to address the situation with her,
once she’s calmed down. I’m convinced that once she gets a good
grasp of the truth, she’ll have a different attitude.

All right, Major Hurst. It’s your call. Salvage her
if you can, but don’t waste a lot of time on her. Some people just
aren’t going to be a good fit for us.

Thank you, sir.

He just couldn’t believe that woman had cranked up
his blood pressure so quickly. No one had been able to bring him to
a boil that quickly, since Sherry passed away. Dr. Fulwiler had
come at him with such vitriol. It was very much like dealing with
his late wife, when she was angry. Fortunately, that was a rare
occurrence. Maybe that’s why he reacted the way he did. The woman
certainly was a spitfire.

He made his way into the next room, which was filled
with veterans. Mike was surprised to see a few of them openly
crying. Wayne had gone ahead of him and was there trying to comfort
them. It didn’t take long for Mike to realize that those men were
weeping with joy, at regaining limbs they had not had for
decades.

It touched him, because he had had a similar
emotional reaction, when he first experienced true feeling in his
long lost legs, although he hadn’t cried. He almost did now though,
as he watched the men caressing legs and arms that had been lost so
long ago. Also, they had a little of their youth back and they now
had the prospect of a life they had been denied when they were
young.

Mike regretted that they must be told the real reason
they were here and that they could lose their lives all over again.
Actually that wasn’t entirely true. If they were wounded and
disfigured once more, the med units would repair their broken
bodies and they could be put back in harms way over and over
again.

When he thought of it that way, it sounded awful.
They would need to have some sort of time off guarantee for a
wounded warrior. And, if they had enough recruits, which he doubted
would happen anytime soon, those wounded men should have the option
of retiring and not having to face the fickle twist of fate once
again.

He rather imagined Max would fight him on that. He
could almost hear the man demanding that those warriors be
available for the battles that might follow, if they survived the
first one. Their combat experience would be invaluable. Max was
ruthless like that. He had seen it first hand in Iraq.

Mike thought a prayer. “Oh Lord please don’t ever put
me in a position where I have to ask these men to make too many
sacrifices. Surely we can do what must be done without tearing
apart the lives and hearts of these fine soldiers, more than twice.
They have paid their full measure the first time and I shall ask
them to do it a second time…but no more than that, I pray.”

He spent a lot of time in that room, back slapping
the old soldiers, congratulating them on their new bodies. Many of
them were suspicious and wanted to know what price they had to pay
for this privilege. Like any veteran, they knew that good fortune
came with a price tag.

Wayne stood on a chair, drawing everyone’s attention.
“Gentlemen, we have avoided answering many of your questions,
because the two of us have been through the same process that you
have been through. We know it takes a while to adjust to the
reality of what has happened here. Rather than get lost in a
mishmash of questions, we’ve prepared a video, which will explain
what’s going on.

“We have an offer for you to consider. If you refuse,
you can continue with your lives in your new body. But remember,
you were chosen for a reason and there is no higher calling than to
save your fellow man, or in this case, the entire human race. So,
watch the video and then we’ll have a Q&A.”

BOOK: Starting from Scratch
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Dark Corners: A Novel by Rendell, Ruth
Criminal Pleasures by Darien Cox
Waterland by Graham Swift
The Viper by Monica McCarty, Mccarty
TheFugitivesSexyBrother by Annabeth Leong
Others by James Herbert
Hope Farm by Peggy Frew
Tis the Season to Be Sinful by Adrienne Basso
The Variables by Wescott, Shelbi