- Mixu Lauronen(Mixula)Finland
HelsinkiThe revolution lasted six minutes and covered one hundred and twelve meters.
Hi, my first novel is in the final stages of editing. It is in Finnish, but I made a crude translation of the beginning just for you. Here goes...
THING FROM THE SKY
The war of Ahanga'Kahanga is the dullest war in the universe. You see, the soldiers are part-time for monetary reasons. For the rest of the time they do real work. Since the generals know that the next battle may kill their valets or bartenders, they are too afraid to make any kind of military manouvers. The soldiers just sit in the trenches and make handicrafts. All failed works are thrown to the other side. New soldiers learn to keep on their helmets very fast.
The reason of the war has been forgotten. The annals of the biggest city on the planet, Ki'Ki, claim, that the inhabitants of Ke'Ke have stolen the mayor's daughter years and years ago. The story doesn't tell by whom. It wasn't clear who was stolen, either. There were five daughters, all identical. Nobody could tell them apart, and the theory of stolen girl was a result of a fact, that maximum of four had been seen at any time. Anyway – or so the story tells – one of the princesses have been outside the city walls when Ke'Ke's army marched to the city gates.
The Ke'Ke version claimed that their count was checking his lands – largest on the planet – when a traveling bard entered the edge of the fields. Since the count didn't react to him, he cursed the ruler. Upset by this, the count ordered the bard to be apprehended. He ran to the nearby hill, behind which the Ki'Ki army was marching into view.
The curse divided the opinions of the historians. Some said it had struck the cont's speech, since it turned more and more blurry every day. Others said it was a fattening curse, since the count became fatter and fatter each day. The servants tried to slim him down, but to no avail. They stopped trying, since there was a bigger problem: somebody stole beer and food from the castle larders. Even though the count was personally on guard duty, food kept disappearing. The culprit was never found.
Behind closed doors something else was happening. The greatest scientists of the planet were gathered into a secret meeting. They had a purpose greater than peace – conquest of the universe.
”Ladies and gentlemen”, said Be'be, the foreman of Ke'Ke's librarians. ”We are here tp discuss something that will make our home one of the greatest planets.” Someone applauded, and Be'be blushed. ”Thank you thank you”, he continued and fell silent. ”Where was I?” He waited for help from his listeners, but finally shrugged. ”Anyway, it is clear, that the goal will be reached in a few days.” New applause.
The scientists were a motley bunch. There were philosophers with their funny hats and odd monologues (some of them were missing, because one school of thought was convinced they didn't exist in large crowds. That's why they had refused to send a representative to the meeting, therefore proving their theory), engineers with their portable computers and coveralls, politicians in pinstriped suits, pedagogues who tried to forbid the engineers to smoke, accountants who refused to tell how many of them there were and answered ”enough” instead, and linguists whom nobody understood.
”If the great war continues and we all get killed...” (muffled applause and a slap) ”...we got to have something for those who come after us. That's why I propose we start operation Long Jump immediately.” This sentence produced huzzah-shouts from the listeners. The politicians hugged each other, pedagogues hugged everybody else, and the engineers hugged their computers. Operation Long Jump was a project that, if successful, would bring everybody involved fame, and, most importantly, lots of money. The purpose of Long Jump was to develop a spaceship which would search for habitable planets.
The technology of the Jump was complex, but the principle was simple. In addition to the four basic particles, photon, graviton, gluon, and meson, a fifth one had been found. It was chronotron, or the time particle. Long Jump used the chronotrons that were created as it was journeying in space as power source, which meant the traveling time was close to nil. Several scientific groups worked on the project, and they gave different estimates on the total price. Some said a hundred million, others said twenty bucks. The place for the launching pad was also decided upon. It was in the middle of the front. This wasn't a problem, the politicians said.
”We will take a new scientific step forward”, Be'be told to the huzzaing bunch of scientists. ”It doesn't take long for our ambassadors to meet new life forms in the spirit of peace and friendship.”
”Excuse me”, said one of the philosophers faintly. ”What if... what if those aliens aren't friendly? I mean what if things escalate to violence?”
Be'be looked at the guy like he was crazy. The man was Ok'ok, the most famous philosopher on the planet. Instead of lecturing in a modern auditorium, he walked with his students on the university corridors dressed up in bedsheets. One of their subjects was the essence of truth. Ok'ok and his pupils were convinced that the reality was only a figment of their imagination, and totally something else than it looked like. This view wasn't very popular. Other philosophers argued that if the universe was just imagination, everybody should have similar imagination. Since this clearly wasn't the truth, a great mind couldn't be the source of the whole universe. Q.E.D. Ok'ok's pupils answered that since the speaker was clearly a figment of their imagination, he didn't exist. Q.E.D.
”Then”, answered Be'be, ”our men have to shoe exceptional courage.”
”Does that mean armed response? How do we know the crew doesn't misuse their weapons?” Ok'ok asked. Be'be sat down, put his feet on the table and wrapped his tail around the chair leg.
”They won't if the weapons don't work.” This, for once, silenced Ok'ok. Be'be continued. ”We won't send just anyone to the space. The tests have been thorough.” Since everyone else was nodding, Ok'ok let it go. ”Do whatever you want.”
So came the great day. The ship, christened Enormous, was standing on the launching pad. Thousands of pairs of eyes peered at it from the trenches. The elite was also invited. You could have cut the air with a dagger. If somebody made a wrong move, everything would just blow up. Some of the engineers had said that Enormous could also blow up, and had made a fireproof bunker, from which they could observe the event through smoked glass.
Enormous looked great. It was a red-and-white squared egg with three sturdy legs. There were no windows, and the only door was half way up the hull. It was reachable by ladders. At the lower end of the ladders two spacemen were standing. One had a red space suit, the other a white one. They had been trained by the best scientists on the planet. The philosophers had taught them how to cope with strange things they were sure to meet, the politicians the necessary directives to avoid diplomatic conflicts, the engineers the inner and outer workings of the ship, the pedagogues had instructed how to meet a foreign nation – which was probably more primitive and would behave like children, the accountants showed how to keep an account of everything (in order to sort out later responsibilities in the event of the ship returning), and the linguists ways to communicate with an alien culture.
Both cities had their own representatives. E'e – who was from Ke'Ke – was dressed up in red, the Ki'Ki man, I'i, in white. Since neither city trusted each other, they had both decided to send a least suitable person. That way the loss was as small as possible, if something went amiss. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the crowd was cheering. The men were ready to ascend the ladders.
The ship was a masterpiece of engineering. The hull was nearly indestructible – at least by Ahanga'Kahangan standards. The legs were retractable. Enormous was even better from the inside. The fully automated storage space was in the bottom. The crew had no access there, but neither need, since everything was done by robots. That way nothing could go wrong. There was water, food, tools, spare parts, gasoline for the impulse drives, and even stuff to spend time with.
Next there was the mess and living quarters. Mess was shiny and new, and would stay that way, since food came from the storage in tubes. Living quarters were crowded, because the mess took up space. There were only two hammocks there. The crew members kept their personal belongings in them. The men slept on lumpy mattresses on the floor. The students of Ok'ok had made the engineers convicted that a slight discomfort was good for your attitude.
Farthest up was the command room. It was full of levers, touch screens, hissing pipes, lamps and keyboards. There were also two leather chairs, one red and one white. The room would horrify untrained persons. Fortunately the crew had seen it in a photograph.
The sun reflected from the side of the ship, when they were ok'd to go. The spacemen climbed into Enormous, then the hatch was closed. There was no returning now. For a moment, there was dead silence. Then the countdown began. Start. The ship disappeared like a cork from a bottle of champagne. People were cheering. One of the engineers came out of the bunker. ”Hey, am I too late? This is the safety pin of the fuel tank.”
Inside the ship it was very, very uncomfortable. G-forces attacked it and its passengers. Neither of the crew – since they were male – had fastened their seat belt, and now they were in a heap against the back wall of the control room.
”Care that elbow!”
Eventually the speed steadied itself and the gravity of the ship changed. It was redirected through complex machinery to one side of the rocket, so it became the floor. The bow of the ship was in front, not up. After the initial acceleration, you couldn't feel the motion at all. The hull was perhaps shaking a bit, but it could be resonance from the crew's knees. E'e crawled into captain's chair. He had lost drawing lots and ended up as the captain. After I'i had settled in his down chair, E'e turned on the chronotron engine. Everything went dark.
- [+] Dice rolls