Armstrong Division Chapter 4

After all the humans were out of stasis and in the line, a voice barked out, “FORWARD!” The line surged forward. Anyone who was out of step with the others or hesitated to march forward was subjected to verbal abuse or pulled out of line for punishments.

The group was marched to a stone building and filed in through the door pointed out to the first in line. When Jake finally made it to the door, he saw the assembly line he was about to move through.

As he marched forward in step with the others  uniforms and a hygiene kit were shoved into his arms. Randomly as he moved forward he felt the stings of vaccinations for unknown diseases. Just as he was about to walk out the door, his head was measured and sheared by lasers. With one foot out the door, someone slammed a hat onto his bald head. There was no hesitation and somehow this all happened without skipping a beat. It was a well practiced routine.

The reality of what he had signed up for was finally starting to sink in. He could no longer think of himself as the hero, saving his race from slavery and alien domination. He now saw himself now as something akin to armed livestock. Then he thought of himself as an attack dog, but that wasn’t much better. He had never felt so lowly and demeaned. He understood that a recruit is at the bottom of the food chain, but he hadn’t expected to be so thoroughly stripped of identity and made so uniform with all the other cogs that had moved through that same assembly line.

Upon leaving the building, they were assembled in four ranks. A hovercraft sped toward their formation and stopped about fifty feet away, kicking up dust and other sundry debris that assailed their bodies and faces.

A human exited and walked toward the front. The Triusdz who had been standing at the head of the formation sharply saluted and walked away. The human moved towards the formation with the slow saunter of one who has  authority and can afford to take however much time he desired. He had a sort of confidence that almost made his walk into a swagger.

“Gentlemen, I am your Commander, Colonel Smith. Welcome to your new home for the next several weeks! Training will be rigorous, but you can take it. You have to take it! None of us can go home now! Our government would kill us, our families disown us and our friends deny knowing us. You have crossed the Rubicon! Your only choices now are to serve Emperor Laka or to find someway to go home and die in shame. So your only choice is service to the Emperor. Our only loyalty now is to the Triusdz Empire and its Emperor Laka.

If you fight well and survive, untold glory and wealth await you! Otherwise, remember that we are striking a blow against the Klosx to end their raids and enslavement of our friends and relatives. None of your deaths will have been in vain. History will vindicate us as heroes and we shall all have our glory one way or the other!

Sergeant take them to their quarters.”

The Triusdz quickly resumed his place, moving with purpose and urgency, at the head of the formation as the human commander leisurely strolled back to his hovercraft.

The sergeant began barking out orders. When the men did not respond the way he wanted or quick enough he then began shouting abuse and walking up and down the ranks beating any who seemed to not understand fast enough to avoid his blows.

After receiving such motivation, the formation began to move in starts and fits. The sergeant led them to what looked like a mud hut. Next to it was unmistakably an old west style outhouse. It even had a crescent moon cut out of the door.

“Recruits, this is your barracks. File in and training will begin in the morning.”

Armstrong Division Chapter 3

He lunged out of his seat and hurried towards the beckoning man. It was dark and at first he had to follow the sound of footsteps because he couldn’t see the nose in front of his face. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he saw that the tunnel went further than he could see.

He struggled to keep up with his nameless guide and just as he was starting to wonder if he could keep up, the tunnel started to get light. He realized that he was at the end of the tunnel and wondered if this was where he was staying or if it was just a stop until the journey continued.

As they entered the dimly lit room at the end of the tunnel, the guide pointed at a ladder and barked, “Up!”

Next to the base of the ladder Jake noticed that someone had painted “1984”.

Jake did as he was told and climbed the ladder, though he could not see where it went. As he neared the top he saw that it went into a darkened hanger with a Triusdz ship. As he finished climbing out of the hole, he saw a door open on the ship and the light from the opened door outlined a Triusdz. He had never seen an alien before and was extremely curious, but that would wait. He couldn’t make out more than a silhouette and the alien motioned for him to hurry over.

As he ran over, he heard a loud metallic noise behind him, but he kept going. He went into the brightly lit ship through the door. Before his eyes could adjust to see anything, he was rather forcefully shoved into some kind of compartment in the wall and sealed in.

Soon a vapor enveloped him and he became very sleepy. His mind and body tried to fight the sleep. His mind had so many thoughts and the adrenaline made his heart beat till he thought it would explode. Still he was overcome and soon he dreamed.

He dreamed that Damien had joined him and they charged into battle together. They weren’t brothers by blood, but in his dreams they became brothers by battle. Damien may as well have been his brother anyways. Just as the brothers were returning home to Earth he awoke alone except for the blurry figure doing some sort of scan.

As the mist of his dream flitted away, he saw a human man standing before him with a medical scanner.

“What’s going on?”

“You’ve been in stasis for two weeks inside this smuggling compartment. Now that you are awake, proceed out the open door in the corridor and queue up with the others already awake and outside.”

It began as soon as he was visible in the doorway. Men and Triusdz in uniform came at him yelling and swearing. Apparently, he wasn’t moving fast enough. He felt a harsh hand strike his back as a sort of universally understood cue to move faster.

He felt their words as though they were punches. Jake had never heard such language or been insulted in such a creatively brutal fashion. They were instantly in his face and shoving him toward a line of other recruits.

He sprinted to the end of the line and stood as still as the others. This seemed to satisfy them and they chased after someone else screaming abuses.

Armstrong Division Chapter 2

He hadn’t told Damien at the cafe, but Jake had already met with a member of the underground the day before yesterday about joining. The recruiter had given him a disposable tablet with instructions loaded onto an encrypted file. He gave Jake the password and showed him how to destroy the file after he memorized the instructions.

The first instruction was to go to the spaceport…

On the way to the spaceport, he downloaded a newspaper to read. He had to hole up tonight in a quiet corner in a hangar somewhere in the spaceport and he didn’t how many hours or days it would take before he would be smuggled out to Triusdz space. He knew he’d want something to kill time.

He walked to the spaceport instead of taking a taxi or bus to avoid having anyone who might possibly remember him. No one remembers a random guy walking down the street, but cabbies remember a lot of their fares and someone might try to strike up a conversation on the bus and remember his face.

As he walked up the stairs on the overpass to get to the spaceport, he rehearsed his instructions over the sound of the busy street below. He quietly muttered, “Go into the Wild Geese Bar and Grill. Find the bar and look for a bartender with a green button on his lapel. Say a sentence including the word water. If he replies with a sentence that includes smoke, wait a few minutes and go into the office in the back. If he doesn’t say smoke, walk away and continue with my life until I receive new instructions.”

Jake was trying his best to stay cool and not show his anxiety. He didn’t want to attract any attention as he looked around the spaceport for the Wild Geese Bar and Grill, but despite his best efforts he was worried about being spotted and picked up. As he came in, he happened to notice right away a display panel showing the layout of the spaceport. He walked over and typed in “Wild Ge…” and selected the name of the place from the drop-down menu that appeared. It was around the corner and on the left about 100 meters.

The security seemed stifling, even more so than normal. There were cameras everywhere. Several sensor drones rolled around on the floor looking for something or someone. He knew that every person he saw was likely to be an informer or an undercover security officer. He noticed the uniformed guards with their particle weapons posted every few feet. He tried not to pay too much attention to them, after all he was just here because he’d heard about an amazing bar. At least that’s what he would tell them. Its amazing how much more nervousness increases as you get closer to execution time.

It didn’t take him long to walk over the Wild Geese Bar and Grill. He walked in. It was dimly lit and cloudy from all the smoke. Smoking had recently become fashionable again when the restrictions were lifted from tobacco and that Triusdz weed, columi. He saw the bar to the left and sat himself away from the three people already there.

There was only one bartender, but he had his back to Jake serving drinks to one of the others at first and he couldn’t see if he was wearing a green button on his lapel. When he was done with that other customer, he promptly turned around to serve Jake. As he came closer, Jake saw a green button that said, “Kiss me! I’m Irish!”

“Can I get a glass of water while I look on this display panel for what I want to order?”

“Would you care to order something to smoke? Or just a drink? Or still deciding?”

“Still deciding. Can you give me a little bit?”

The barkeep was back three minutes later, “What’ll it be?”

“Actually, I think I need to take a leak first.”

“Sure. It’s right over there next to the office.”

“Thanks.”

Jake got up out of his seat and walked over to the office like he worked there. He turned the handle, opened the door and walked in. There was no one inside. There were two chairs, a desk, a computing station, and a few papers. Whoever worked here had to be one of the few people left who still used paper for anything. “Do they still make it anymore?” Jake wondered.

He sat in one of the chairs and waited. After about thirty seconds, the wall opposite the door rose up and a man stood there emerging from the dark frantically motioning him to join him behind the wall.

Armstrong Division Chapter 1

 “C’mon! Don’t you have any sense of adventure?” Jake said as he flashed the most charming smile he could muster.

            “Is that what you had to ask me about in person? Jake, I like adventure as much as the next guy, but you know the penalty if we get caught!”  Damien said in hushed outrage. He dared not let the other people at the cafe or those walking by on the sidewalk know that his friend Jake was trying to recruit him into joining the Neil Armstrong Division. The penalty he spoke of was a public lashing every day for a year and after the last day of lashings there was a public execution to send a message that humanity was staying out of alien wars.

        “That just makes it even more exciting! And you know it’s the right thing to do!” he retorted and calmly added; “Besides they’ve only caught just a small handful.”

            “By ‘small handful’ you mean over 5,000 since they passed the law against it last year? You go if you want to but I’ll have nothing to do with it.” Damien said in another hushed voice of outrage.

            “Fine! I’m about to go on the adventure of a lifetime and if my best friend is too afraid to join me then so be it.”

            Jake shot of his seat almost knocking over his chair. He reached in his pocket and threw down a few coins to pay for his coffee that he didn’t even drink. Despite taking offense at Damien’s rejection, he did his best after getting out of his chair to not show his emotions and draw undue attention. These days everyone seemed to be an informer or worse.

          He hurried off down the sidewalk never once looking back at Damien. He was sure Damien would join him. Jake had always been reckless, impulsive, thrill-seeking and Damien had always enjoyed going along on his adventures, until now. He felt as though he had left half of himself sitting there at that table.

           Why didn’t Damien come along? He knew the outrage Damien felt at the Klosx for their constant raids on Earth for supplies and slaves. Why won’t he take up arms with the Triusdz in the Armstrong Division? Why wouldn’t he strike back? What good is all that outrage if you won’t do anything about it? How is anything going to change with so many people unwilling to take action?

           He was sure about one thing though, no matter how Damien felt about joining, he’d rather die than give Jake up to the security forces. Earth had become a security state and Big Brother was omnipresent. The Klosx raids had made everyone afraid and like so many times before in history, fear caused many to demand a more powerful state and many in power were quite willing to accept that power. Everyone seemed to have become a part of the state’s security network in some way. Many sought out their role as spy or security officer to power and gain. Others were coerced and subsumed. Trustworthy friends like Damien were worth their weight in platinum.

         “What has become of people these days that they rather remained as sheep with an impotent shepherd waiting for the wolf to pick them off?” Jake thought as he stormed off.

Joe

This is the very first part of my novel. I am going to post it here piece by piece. This particular work has not been named yet, but in my grand scheme it will be the first book in a trilogy. Here’s “Joe”, the first section:

Joe had always wanted to travel in space. He was fascinated by what he had read about other worlds and he wished that he had the opportunity to travel through space. As he read over the letter again he realized that his wish was about to come true. The reality of the words printed in black and white were inescapable. His quiet office job in Chicago was over.

He had just been drafted into the new Space Defense Force and while he had always wanted to travel in space, he wished he could do it under more peaceful circumstances. There was no war, but everyone knew it was imminent.

One by one planets fell to Mahmud Alina’s forces. Space had never before been militarized since humanity never encountered other sentient species. However, Alina rose to power in one of the colonies and quickly built a fleet of ships to dominate the heavens. His military quickly conquered many other colonies and every inhabited planet scrambled to build fleets to protect themselves.

Earth and every one of its colonies faced domination by Mahmud’s growing imperial forces. Even if Earth was never attacked it was allied with planets that faced attack. There was no avoiding the fight.

Joe knew this and prayed that he might return home safely.

Walk of Shame

I saw on Yahoo!’s Odd News that China will start trying to shame jaywalkers.

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Shanghai police will post photos and videos of jaywalkers in newspapers and on TV in a bid to shame them out of breaking traffic rules, local media reported on Thursday.

Offending pedestrians, moped riders and cyclists would be snapped at selected intersections and their images put in regular columns and on special television programmes set up by police, the Shanghai Daily said.

That’s bit too much Type A thinking going on. It might be a problem, but I am sure that they have bigger problems that need more immediate attention.

Hello world!

Welcome! This is my first post to my new blog, The Frozen Spud. What “Frozen Spud” mean? It means I was trying to think of an original name and I thought, “I am from Idaho and I am living in Alaska.” Somehow in my mind I concocted The Frozen Spud.