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Everything posted by JamesSavik

  1. If You Came Up Then You Would Understand "If one more idiot asks me if I'm a top or a bottom, I swear, I'm going to deck them!" "Easy, easy champ." "It's none of their damned business. There's no way I'm going to play hide the salami with a perfect stranger." "Dude, it's not the eighties anymore." "Thank God. If you came up then, you would understand." "If I'd come up then, I would probably have been a causality or a basket-case. What was it like?" "It was like some malevolent thing was stalking you and everyone you cared about. At the time, being out often ostracized gay people and the community was all they had. People read the paper back then. Every day you would look at the obituaries and hope you didn't recognize a name." "Jesus." "There was a guy who was part of a group that ran a few record stores around the area. I saw him at the store pretty regular. Then he wasn't there one day. A week later he was on the obituary page. If you were lucky, it was like that. It just nipped at your acquaintances. If it got someone close to you, and you were faithful and stuck around, you got to see what a real nightmare looked like." Rocky put his hand on the older man's arm and said, "You sound like you are speaking from experience." "Yeah. AIDS was an epic shit show. Nobody got out of that without scars."
  2. So I'll start my very own Militia: Gay Men that will Shoot You if you fuck with us-- GMSUFU. I'll get a flag and everything. Maybe we'll have cookouts and target practice. It'll be awesome. Just remember- if you take away everyone's guns, guys like me will be the only ones with guns because I WILL NOT COMPLY.
  3. I refuse to have one without dinner and a movie.
  4. Freethinker is awesome. It's a great one to start with.
  5. Freethiinker’s work is a cut above. Lot’s of stories you forget but Ft’s you won’t. The story craft and writing is top shelf but his settings and textures are addictive. He’s in the same league as Driver or Dewey and, that’s high praise coming from me.
  6. Phillip is 16 and new in town with his first job: working for the Y. With no friends and his Dad stuck in London (or was that Hong Kong or Singapore?), he resolves to make a few. One of the new fiends older brother Andy is known to be a real asshole and, he wants to have a talk to Phillip.
  7. Carbon Based!? By James Savik "They are carbon based." "Carbon based? How does that even work?" "It works for them." "That’s so weird." "Yeah they’re evolved for an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, can only exist in a narrow band of temperatures, need water, the whole works." "That can’t possibly last. How stable is their star system?" "They lucked out there. Their sun is a G7 dwarf and their system has four gas giants in their outer solar system that deflect most comets and asteroids." "Where are they on the standard scale?" "It’s a fractured R7 class civilization." "They are just advanced enough to be dangerous... to themselves" "It gets better. They use fossil fuels and nuclear fission." "I guess that tracks since they are carbon based but the environmental consequences have got to be taking their toll." "They’ve come a long way very fast. The report says they were just learning to bang rocks together the last time we surveyed this sector." "When you say fractured, what do you mean?" "Their society isn’t unified. It’s divided into nation states that constantly jockey for position and even war against each other." "And they are all the same species?" "Yeah. Imagine that." "That’s frightening. Fission technology, hydro-carbon pollution; they have to be insane." "Our observation probe has even recorded fusion explosions." "They must be insane." "So what do you think about contact?" "No way. They are still far too primitive. If they managed to get their hands on some real technology they would be exceptionally dangerous. If they can’t get along with each other, what do you suppose would happen if they met the Shindarans or, Maker-forbid, the Taurons." "That would not be pretty." "Agreed. We’ll reevaluate contact the next time we survey this sector assuming that they’re still here." "I hope they make it." "Why? They are just another primitive culture. Ugh… they’re even related to Simians." "Have you heard their music?" "No. Is it good?" "Listen to this. It’s by one of their masters. I think his name was Hendrix." Strange beautiful grass of green, With your majestic silver seas Your mysterious mountains I wish to see closer May I land my kinky machine Although your world wonders me, With your majestic and superior cackling hen Your people I do not understand, So to you I shall put an end And you'll Never hear Surf music again "So they know." "Yeah. They know. It’s so bizarre: a species capable of such insight and ignorance all at the same time." "I hope they make it. They sure won’t be boring." "You know that in all probability they won’t." "Maybe not but stranger things have happened." __________________________________________ © 2010 James Savik Lyrics taken from Jimi Hendrix’s Third Rock from the Sun.
  8. Starry Starry Night Starry Starry Night So cold and clear and bright and bold Tell me the secrets I long to know Shine away the darkness in my soul Wash away my fear in your radiant glow Starry Starry Night Take me from this frightful place Hold me in your timeless grace Wrap me in your radiant embrace Show me God's own face Starry Starry Night Please show me that I am wrong Believing love is only pain Remind me that I am yet strong Keep me sane despite the pain Starry Starry Night So much has passed me by Shadows and scars upon me lie Telling me it's all in vain There is nothing left to gain Starry Starry Night A faithful friend you've always been There despite my doubts and fears Nothing more beautiful have I ever seen Restore my heart and dry my tears Starry Starry Night
  9. Income. There's a weird tipping point in tax rates that makes it cheaper and easier to go ahead and pay up at lower rates than construct elaborate tax shelters. It's odd but whenever taxes are lowered, there's more revenue. Some favored tax shelters encumber money for many years and it only really pays to go that route at higher rates. One of my many consulting jobs was for a tax lawyer and I saw the lengths that people will go to legally avoid paying taxes. There are enough shelters and loop holes to drive a battleship through. You didn't really think congress has the country or citizens best interests in mind, did you?
  10. There's no such thing as altruism on that level. When the elites let go of money, it's either a tax break or a publicity stunt. People that have banked that kind of money don't throw it away. They'll hire accountants and tax lawyers and in the end, pay less than their secretary. There's a reason the tax code is something like forty-five bound volumes. If you are a plumber or electrician you can't afford the loopholes or the expertise to use them. I'm in favor of a flat tax. 10-12% no deductions. All the crooked loopholes go null and void and the null and void tax lawyers and accountants will have to work for a living. That alone would make it worth doing.
  11. Way back in January a lot of people I know said they hand the "crud". You know sinuses, cold like symptoms and feeling bad for a few days. My 92-year-old mother had it. We tested positive for corona antibodies. This bug is a lot like pulling the lever on a slot machine. Most of the time, nothing happens. Then, a poor unlucky sap pulls the lever, gets three lemons and gets zapped. A lot of people have had this thing and it just bounced. Made in China rubbish!
  12. LOL, but I got there first.
  13. My Carona Ooh my head and sinuses are a pain. When you gonna give me a break Carona? Ooh you make my nose run, my nose run. I’m coughing all the, all the time Carona Go away, you’re no damned fun. Screwing up sports and spring break Carona. Such a dirty germ. Going around Carona Infecting everybody My my my i yi woo. M M M My Carona Come a little closer, you’ll get it too. Close close enough to get some Carona. Where I got you is a mystery, How did you get to me? Always getting around, M M M My Carona M M M My Carona When you gonna go away, go away. It is just a matter of time Carona. Is it just destiny, destiny? Or is are you here to stay, Carona? Please go away, you’ve really overstayed Your welcome Carona. Such a dirty germ. Making us squirm You’re a pain Carona. My my my Wu-flu. M M M My Carona M M M My Carona M M M My Carona M M M My Carona
  14. Sounds more a lot more like Arkansas.
  15. When the Pollen Drops on us in Dixie When the pollen drops on us in Dixie, And turns all our cars lime green, It's a time every year that brings a tear, And reminds us that it's finally spring!
  16. I really rather not let this thread go political. I'm pretty sure Trump doesn't have horns and, I'm damned sure the democrats don't have halos. Neither one is a scintillating choice.
  17. The asinine idea was just two friends bantering. The important part is where it went.
  18. "That has to be the most asinine idea I've ever heard." Marty rolled his eyes and shooed the cat away from the cold pizza box. "Really? That's rich coming from a guy that is dating James." Ray said in a mock Yoda voice, "The dumb is strong with this one, Breed he should not." Somewhere down the hall the thump of a techno dance song began as Marty replied, "What's the story with you and James anyway? Of all the guys you could have chosen..." "It's so very, very simple even Mr. Tie-me-up-and-spank-me-like-a-dirty-dirty-whore should understand it. We love each other and have since the first time we laid eyes on each other." Marty said, "That's really sweet but, it can't be easy for you." Ray started rummaging through dirty clothes, made a face and asked, "What part?" Marty said, "Well, There's the little matter of him being two years younger than you are." Ray sprayed evergreen scented air freshener around the room and said, "He's precocious and I'm dumb. It works for us." "You know that's not all there is too it. Ray, you're white. We share a shower. You're a ginger so you are one of the whitest white-boys that ever whited and, Marcus is..." Ray smirked and said, "Black?" Marty shrugged and said, "It can't be easy. This is still the South." Ray grinned and said, "Marty, it is all mind over matter: all that matters is we love each other and, those that mind, just don't matter."
  19. Judge Vinson said, “Tim truly is gifted. I’ve seen it before in a rare social worker or two. They just know how to handle boys. It’s not something that can be taught. Now we get to you Rebel.” Rebel stuck his jaw out and looked like he was preparing himself for a whipping. Detective Monroe said, “We just picked your mother up for a DUI.” Rebel said, “That was predictable. She got some money so; she was off to the liquor store.” Judge Vinson said sadly, “You know she’s an alcoholic and, she can’t take care of you. You’ve been taking care of her. Tim has offered me a solution that will put you in a much better position Rebel. He wants you…” Rebel jumped in my lap and hugged my neck. I said, “Easy there Tiger. Never interrupt a Judge. You might miss something important.” Rebel vibrated with excitement in my lap and the Judge smiled. She said, “I think we can take that as Rebel approves of the situation. As I was saying Rebel, Tim wants to take care of you and, he has offered your Mother a way out. If she goes to a long term rehab and sobers up, he’s offered her a good job. She can land on her feet and have a life again.” Now the ornery little cuss that didn’t take crap off of anybody was hiding his face in my shirt sobbing. Judge Vinson said, “I’ll expect him to see Dr. Chang and Patrick tomorrow with Matty.” Detective Monroe said, “Judge, this place has an excellent kitchen. Could I buy you a hot dog?” “I’d be delighted.” They left me alone with Rebel still silently sobbing on my shirt. I stood and flipped the bright lights back down so the room was cool and dim and sat on the couch and held him for a while. I let him get it out of his system. “Are you OK Rebel?” “Uh huh. Better than ever. She said you wanted me.” “I do. I know your secret. Behind your tough guy persona, you’re a really sweet kid. I saw you put your ass on the line for Matty. He was kid you didn’t even know and you risked your life. You’re amazing Rebel and I’m glad to have you.” That started him sobbing again but it soon abated. He choked out, “Nobody has ever wanted me. I’m always in trouble. I get in fights. I steal stuff. I get detention…” “You do all of that because you don’t get the attention you need Rebel. I’m going to fix that. You’ll have umpteen brothers that’ll love you to pieces. Nobody will force you to do anything and, you won’t have to trick to eat. You won’t have to get in trouble to get attention. I’ll be there for you.” All of the tension in Rebel eased. It drained out of him like air in a balloon. He said, “My name isn’t really Rebel. That’s just what people call me. My real name is Joey.” Everything was different about him, even his voice. He sounded younger and not so tough and cocky. I said, “Nice to meet you Joey. We need to go by your old house to get your things.” He said, “I don’t want to go there. Bad things happen there.” I got a very uneasy feeling and asked, “Where is Rebel?” Joey’s voice answered, “Rebel is asleep now. We’re safe. Rebel is strong and brave and protects us. I’m just Joey. I’m little and scared all the time. I haven’t been out in a long time. Rebel says you’re our new Daddy? Is it true?” “Yes baby, I am.” “Rebel won’t have to do… that anymore?” “No baby, not unless he just wants to.” Joey began to cry. It wasn’t Rebel. Rebel would never, ever wail and weep and sob out loud. It was Joey. I knew it was Joey, the sweet little boy inside the armor he had created to protect himself called Rebel. I said, “Joey, you and Rebel are going to be all right”, even if I wasn’t sure it was true. “I will love and protect you and give you brothers who will do the same. You won’t have to be alone and afraid anymore.” Joey’s voice said, “I love you Daddy.” Rebel’s voice said, “I do too.” I said, “I lucked out. I got two amazing boys for the price of one.” Three different voices laughed so... maybe it would be OK.
  20. I do love audio books and those are the very best kind: free!
  21. My Halloween story- too late. 😞 The Big Empty Every port worth a damn has a place run by an old sailor where the food is good; the beer is cheap and has ladies of negotiable virtue. At Kingston Station in the Harimon system, that place was run by a salty old codger named Colly who had run the triangle route on the Plymouth Star for forty years until he hung it up, took his pension and opened a place of his own. Old Colly’s was the sort of place where sailors from whatever ships were in system could have a few drinks, eat some really good chow and tell their stories. There are a lot of stories from the big empty— the space between stars where there’s literally nothing for light years in any direction. I’ve heard more than a few tales that sound like the teller had cracked while passing the cold, dark, empty void of interstellar space. It’s a place so cold, were you to find yourself outside without a suit, no one is really sure which would kill you first: being flash frozen or instant decompression. Either way is a short, very unpleasant trip to the afterlife. Sailors are a cautious breed by nature. Everything in the void can kill you in many unpleasant and grisly ways. They are very deliberate in their actions and check ever dial, gauge and seal. If you don’t you won’t become an old sailor. Sailors are just that. The void is just another ocean in the way of commerce— much larger, deadlier and far colder than those of earth but, the job is essentially the same. To say there’s nothing out there is inaccurate. Like any ocean, it has its moods. Sometimes it is sleeping, others it is angry with radiation or storming with highly energized ions that seemingly appear out of nowhere. Sometimes you’ll blunder into a dark nebula and so much ice will form on your hull, your ship looks like it is in a snow globe. You never turn off you collision avoidance systems as orphaned comets and asteroids can appear with no warning at all on their eternal course to nowhere in particular. It’s the big empty sailors must pass between the warmth of the stars and the worlds around them. It’s the big empty that excites, terrifies and holds secrets older than mankind. No one can pass it without it leaving its mark upon you. I was Third Officer on the old Atlantic Princess when her number three reactor finally gave up the ghost and was on a three week layover on Kingston Station. As I had officer’s rank and did not wish to prove myself all over again to a new captain, I stayed with the ships company. The Princess was old but Captain Stafford knew his business and wouldn’t tolerate officers or men that did not know theirs. Much to Stafford and the old Princess’s credit, the entire company of twenty-two elected to stay and wait out her repairs and the overhaul of her reactors. I became a fixture at Old Colly’s during that time and enjoyed the Bouillabaisse, beer and stories. It was well into my stay that Old Colly became familiar enough with me that I was invited to his own table which I saw as a feather in my cap. One night after closing as we sat and enjoyed the last round, Old Colly, well into his cups, told a story from his time aboard the Plymouth Star under the legendary Captain Yarlburo. Old Colly said the Plymouth Star was bound for the Leonis sector with a load of terraforming gear and had to cross three hundred light years. The ship and crew were well into the rhythm of jumping twenty light years, taking a fix, calculating the next jump, charging the jump engines and jumping again. In those days a good crew could turn around a jump in a little over three hours. Operations on a long haul are routine and monotonous. A sailor has to pay attention and do his job because even a small mistake can kill him or severely damage the ship. Any possible help is weeks and many light years away. Old Colly was working the engineering watch. His Chief was a gifted engineer by the name of Lew Sang that kept the Plymouth Star ship-shape in Bristol fashion. Only the most trusted and skilled sailors make snipes because every jump cycle, the high power systems that charge the jump engines have to be carefully checked. The fusion reactors are quite reliable but the capacitor bank that holds the charge that powers the jump engine start up can go wrong catastrophically at the drop of a hat. That much energy is astonishing and if the capacitor fails, even a fraction of the stored power will vaporize any ship. It is boring, tedious work but is must be done right every single time. They had just come out of a jump when the Captain called the Chief Engineer and ordered Secure from jump cycle, bring the main engines to full and stand by to maneuver. This was unexpected and had the snipes busy. The jump capacitors had not begun to charge so it gave the men a chance to stand down from the standard cycle but, they also had to bring the standard engines up to full and prepare for maneuvering. This was accomplished in orderly fashion and soon the big ion engines that propelled the ship in normal space were humming. Colly said they felt the ship heel over hard and a few minutes later the Captain came on the 1MC and announced, “Attention all hands. On our last jump we arrived several hundred kilometers from a large object sizzling along and .1C. Our sensors did not tell us much about it as it is partially covered in ice but it is mostly metallic and very large. It is not of natural origin and Alliance regulations require us to investigate. Given the objects speed it will take us at least three hours to get close enough to get a good look at it. It looks like we might be up for a nice, fat salvage bonus on this crossing.” The crew was very excited at the opportunity. Salvage shares could add up to a tidy pay day. All hands began preparations to intercept the object. Colly’s duty was to prepare the remote drone used to do repairs outside. It wasn’t designed to be a scientific probe but it would do in a pinch. The repair drone was a nifty piece of engineering. It was cylindrical shaped and about seven meters long. Powered by a small fission plant, it had an ion drive for maneuvering, a host of remote controlled tools, a flood light, a high resolution video camera and an adjustable laser. Colly was certified on the use and maintenance of the device which had been primarily used for repairing micro-meteorite damage to the hull. Other snipes from his division were tasked with prepping the Plymouth Star’s two shuttles: one a standard multirole shuttle and the other, a cargo lighter. It was the Chief Engineer Sang that first spotted trouble. As the Plymouth Star closed on the object, he detected a minute drop in power. This caused a minor ruckus in engineering as that power was going somewhere and, Sang was the sort that would never simply shrug and hope for the best. The snipes began a systematic survey to see if any of the circuits feeding the jump capacitators were correctly open. All of the feeds were closed and those systems were safely in standby mode. Then they began to check other systems. At this point in his story Old Colly stood and walked to the bar where he poured himself a shot of whiskey. He drank it, poured another and returned. It was obvious the old sailor was rattled and whatever had happened decades ago in the big empty still haunted him. He returned to the table somber and shaken. His hands holding the three fingers of whiskey in the glass trembled. He sat and began telling his tale again. Colly took a sip of the amber liquid and said it took us longer to catch the object than we first estimated. The Captain had us break for lunch so we would be ready when we did encounter it. The object was bigger than we first thought. Laser range finding just didn’t work as it seem to swallow any beam we tried to bounce off it. It was very dark and tracking it optically was near impossible. We had better luck tracking its infrared signature but that was because it stood out as a black spot against the cosmic background. The thing was very cold and was mostly covered in an ice sheath. Its color was a dark gray or black with a metallic sheen. It was egg shaped and about thirty kilometers long and seven kilometers wide. There was a strange structure on its very back end that we assumed was some kind of drive. It was mostly smooth except for small clusters of what looked like some sort of equipment kept external to the hull. None of us could decide what it was. By our standards, if it were a ship, it was enormous. Some argued that it must be some sort of space station. We had no clues and how something that massive could be hurtling through space at just a little short of a tenth the velocity of light. Hollingsworth, the second officer and astrogator, said that he had run its course and speed backwards and it had had a very close encounter with a black hole two hundred light years previous and a slingshot imparted force may theoretically account for its velocity. Prior to that encounter, it could have come from anywhere. One thing was certain: it was not of human origin and on a course that would take it out of our galaxy in a few thousand years. It took another two and a half hours for Captain Yarlburo to pull the Plymouth Star even with the object. Approaching from the rear was dangerous as ton of ice would occasionally let go from the object. It was followed by a small constellation of ice chunks as big as a house. Yarlburo steered well clear of its icy tail, matched its speed and was running about ten kilometers parallel to the objects vector. Old Colly took a sip of the whiskey and continued after a short pause. We began with the reconfigured repair probe. I went up to the bridge and we set up one of the stations to run the remote. As the ship was pacing the object, it imparted its velocity to our probe so it was a simple matter to fly it over to the object and began mapping its hull. The floodlights on the probe revealed a mostly icy surface with big patches of bare hull metal. Colly reconfigured the laser to deliver a low powered beam that could produce a spectra to identify the composition of the alien hull. Most of it was dark, flat grayish-blue and turned out to bean alloy that was mostly lead. It was crossed by a latticework of lines of a different alloy that was mostly sliver. No conduits or cables were present on the hull and all machinery appeared to be internal except for a few bulbous spots so encased in ice that it was impossible to get clear images or tell what they were. Colly set the drone on automatic and it orbited the object mapping its outside. It took a good four hours. Old Colly sipped his whiskey and fidgeted. It was out of character for him but clearly, the memory had him on edge. He said the longer he worked with the drone, the more that thing bothered him. There was something vaguely sinister about it all very dark metal crisscrossed with lines of silver. When the exterior of the objects hull was mapped, a 3-D image of it was rendered by the ships computer. Colly wasn’t the only one who had misgivings about it. Several members of the crew expressed concerns but, others were emboldened by the promise of a big salvage claim check. After carefully studying the 3-D image, the Captain picked one of the bulges from the hull and ordered Colly to use the drone’s laser to remove the ice. The laser, usually used for cutting, could easily be reconfigured to a much wider beam and make short work of the ice but it would take some time. He programmed the drone and had someone watch its progress as the crew had supper and got some rack time. Old Colly’s hand shook as he took another drink. He cleared his throat and continued: No one rested easy that night. I personally had a real great grand-mother of a nightmare. I didn’t remember the specifics of it but, just general impressions of cold, dark things sleeping. Waking up in a cold sweat from that in the wee hours, there was no going back to sleep. I hit the showers and ran into two other crewmen in similar shape. They had awakened with a start covered in sweat and feeling really jumpy. We didn’t compare notes but maybe we should have. Everyone had nightmares that chilled them to the marrow. By ships morning, the drone had cleared away the ice from the selected area and a large area of the surface surrounding it. Once revealed, the structures looked a lot like a large cargo dock or some approximation of one. The ship’s third officer Garrett Hunt, able spacer Mike Jacobs and a young snipe named Sully were picked to fly over to the object, take samples and leave a beacon. Colly flew the repair drone over to illuminate on the dock his flood lights. The shuttle made the short flight over to the huge, ominous object under the expert piloting of Garrett Hunt and made a perfect landing in what appeared to be a cargo handling dock. As soon as the shuttles skids touched down things began to happen. A very bright flashing red light came on in the apparent cargo bay. Hollingsworth and Yarlburo on the bridge began to notice indications of systems aboard the object powering up. A loud, complex wide-band radio beacon signal began pinging from the object. It was so loud that they turned the volume down immediately and began recording. Things did indeed begin to happen. The objects outer surface began to warm vaporizing the ice that covered so much of it creating a fog of gas as it vaporized. As Colly watched, shapes and patterns began to coalesce on the skin of the ancient derelict. Patterns and shapes that both mesmerized and terrified in equal measures. The men on the shuttle placed the beacon to mark our salvage claim and Sully took a few quick samples of the hull metal and placed them in sealed containers to prevent any contamination. As things were getting very strange they performed their tasks and departed staying aboard no longer than a few short minutes. On the way back, Hunt asked, did you hear them? Jacobs and Sully both answered yes and the further away from them we get, the better! Then we all heard them— a psychic scream, a chorus of hundreds of voices of malice, hatred and despair. They were awake. They were angry. They knew we were there. It was not a ship or a station. It was a prison holding things so powerful and malevolent that they had been cast into the void. Colly grasped the now empty tumbler with white knuckles and a look of remembered horror on his face. Hunt had the presence of mind to put the shuttles autopilot to return to the ship. As soon as it was aboard, the Captain sheered away from the object and gave the orders to prep for jump. The crew, badly shaken, complied and three hours later, we jumped away from that hellish thing toward the Leonis colonies. That wasn’t the end of it. Something was badly wrong with the three men that had landed on the object. They had seen the shapes and symbols with their own eyes and the very memory of it drove them mad. In the middle of the night, Hunt walked out an airlock without a suit. We sedated Jacobs and Sully until we arrived at Leonis Station three days travel. We took longer jumps than was recommended because we all felt as though we were losing our minds. The worst of it was the nightmares. We could see those things. We could feel their coldness and malice. We could see what they had done. They were a plague in their home galaxy destroying worlds, destroying life. Their power grew and grew until they met others that had the strength and will to destroy them, cage them and cast them into the endless void. Their sentence for war crimes was infinite damnation in the infinite void and from the way they touched our minds and what they revealed, I can believe that they deserved it. When we arrived, they put us in quarantine. They put Sully and Jacobs into stasis to ship them back to more advanced facilities in the core worlds for treatment. The last I heard they were both in an asylum on Scorpius Prime where they were expected to live out the rest of their lives totally barking mad. Scientists interviewed us and reviewed the samples and video we had returned. All of the video of the shapes and symbols were sealed. They were classified a class one memetic hazard and could only be studied under controlled conditions. One of the bright boys let slip that the sample of the hull metal was quantum dated at three and a three quarters billion years. Whatever those things were, they were apex predators on a galactic scale when our closest relatives were trilobites. The beacon signal was also a serious memetic hazard. It was analyzed as a warning but it carried information much like the symbols that could burrow into your brain and make Swiss cheese of it. Finally after a few weeks in quarantine, we were released and strongly encouraged to never reveal anything about that artifact or how to find it. No doubt there would be eager beaver scientists that would love to open that can of worms but God knows what would crawl out of it or, if we could ever put it back in. We took a load of rare earth ores from the Leonis colonies, packed them away aboard the Plymouth Star and set course back to the coreworlds vowing never to mention the artifact again. The only time I do mention it is with seasoned officers and spacers so that they might know what they could run into out there. A big salvage payday isn’t worth being so touched with insanity that could lead a good man to walk out a lock. Old Colly finished his story, we all had another round and we went back to our berths. A few days later my ships reactors were four-oh again and we took off on our next route. I didn’t get back to Kingston Station in the Harimon System for another nine months. Old Colly’s place was open under a new name. It seemed a few months before our return, Old Colly had taken his own walk out a lock.
  22. Before they came, we silly humans thought it would be the coolest thing ever to meet aliens. We forgot what happened in our own history when primitive cultures met more advanced cultures with technology maybe fifty or a hundred years more advanced. Then came Chris Columbus the Conehead from somewhere in the general direction of the constellation we call the Southern Cross. That wasn't his name or his races name. That was unpronounceable to humans. Good old Chris was an entrepreneur. He offered to sell us ten super nifty high capacity fusion reactors and a few other high tech gadgets for a few tons of precious metals. This started a bidding war among the nations of earth and Chris made out like the bandit that he really was. That is until the Butt-heads showed up. It turned out that Chris the Cone-Head had stolen the fusion reactors and other gadgets from an Interstellar Alliance Supply Depot and the Butt-Heads were not amused, nor were they happy that he had gifted them to savages. The Butt-Heads were a strange outfit that were supposed to protect primitive species from exploitation, cultural or technological contamination called the Native Protection Bureau (NPB, yes there are bureaucracies in the future). They arrested Chris, impounded his ship and demanded we return the reactors and assorted junk. We, the United States, Canada and Mexico, argued that we had just spent a kings ransom on our reactor and junk and needed a refund. The Butt-Heads launched a salvo of 100 kilogram kinetic energy darts into our heartland to show their displeasure. That really sucked for Kansas and Nebraska. The Chinese agreed to return one of their reactors which the Butt-Heads promptly retrieved took to their ship where it exploded with a force of ten megatons taking out the Butt-Head cruiser and Chris the Cone-headed con artist. Three months later another Butt-Head ship arrived. We blamed Chris the Conehead for the whole debacle and asked them nicely to go away. The Butt-Heads still wanted the reactors but by this time we had reverse engineered them, learned some really nifty new tricks and were making our own. We returned them, and the Butt-Heads left. While they were in orbit, a gifted Czech hacker downloaded their database. Apparently the Butt-Heads never heard of data security, hackers or dealt with primitives that had. Yeah, humanity!. It took a bank of quantum computers about five years to translate it all and analysts are still going over it all these years later. That is how we found out what a huge dumpster fire our galaxy really is. Historically, racism was a problem for humanity but often it was mostly just cultural differences, and we got over it. Wrap your mind around the idea of species-ism. Every advanced race thinks they are the cats own balls and are absolutely sure they are the superior species, intellect, moral authority and have God on speed dial. The galaxy is divided into four large coalitions: the Butt-Head Alliance, the Raving Religious Fuk-wads, the Assembly of Genocidal Lunatics and the Coalition of Cut-throats and Pirates. To our disgust, it turns out the Butt-Heads are the pick of the litter. There are some independent powers but to stay that way they have to lean in the direction of one of the big dogs. The Big Dogs of the galaxy are always at war, hot or cold, with each other. The Butt-Head Alliance was nice enough to protect the primitive species in their space from the other powers who would arrive and take all the slaves (or meat) and goods they wanted. Fortunes of the great powers in the galaxy fluctuated, but they were all too large to fall in a rush. They existed at a sort of stalemate/equilibrium point while working desperately hard to gain the upper hand. Lots of things we had hoped to put behind us as a race, were back, and we found humanity on the wrong end of it. Slavery, genocidal wars, piracy: all those old favorites are new again. To the Galactics, humans are dangerous primitives with fusion sharpened spears and arrows. Well, good for us. The longer they avoid us, the tougher the nut we'll be when they do come back. Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not a species-ist. I just hate the aliens who would wipe us out, perhaps eat us and strip mine the earth. Unfortunately, that's most of them. I bet you though humans were the only assholes in the galaxy. Hell, in comparison, we're mere babes in the woods dealing with the East India Company. "Opium sounds really nifty. How much?"
  23. JamesSavik


    "I need to, um, tell you something. Okay?" The boy in Dr. Chang's office was handsome and young. Too damned young at just 17. He hated this. He absolutely hated this. This is why he moved his practice out of Southern California. He had come thousands of miles and it wasn't far enough. The boy said, "You are scaring me Doc." "There's no easy way to tell you this William but, your test came back HIV positive." William turned pale and Doctor Chang continued, "The test we use is not definitive and false positive results are quite common. We will run two much more precise tests before we know for sure. These tests take longer to process and we won't have the results back for two weeks." Silent tears rolled down the boys cheeks. Doctor Chang continued, "My advice is not panic. These false positives are very common in the ink blot tests. You are in for difficult days before we know for sure. I can tell you that the common test false positive results are one in three." William asked, "What if it really is positive?" "AIDS is relatively new and we're still learning about it. People who get infected may not become really sick with full blown AIDS for five to ten years. We know that many of the people who are getting sick now were infected as far back as the seventies. There are some new drugs under development and in clinical trials. If you do turn out to be HIV positive, you may not become symptomatic for a whole decade. Research on drugs and treatments is ongoing and we aren't going to give up." Doctor Chang took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. He said, "I won't lie to you William. The prognosis for anyone that is HIV positive is very grim. The important thing now is for you to not give up. We don't know for sure and the tests will tell us. Then we will decide on how to proceed." _________________________________________________________________ This is what it was like. If you can't imagine, I'm glad. If it's burned into your memory and you can never forget it, I'm sorry.
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