Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
Alice - 2100, crossover fanfic 
Author Message

Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:20 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Moscow
Post Alice - 2100, crossover fanfic
Alice2100, first story, "The jungle"
Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth
The shuttle was climbing smoothly. We have passed the layer of clouds already, and the sky grew almost black. I adjusted my safety belts and looked around. A rather cramped four-seat cockpit painted light-gray, angular glasses of cockpit canopy. Two lads are sitting ahead – these are pilots. To my left, there is a blue-skinned girl with pointed ears and white hair. She is clad in blue-and-white overalls – which go well with her hair and skin. This is Beryl, my partner.
Our today’s task was not that important – not important at all, to be true. Arrive to the planet, fill up the hold with the beasties, that were stranded with care by automatic traps earlier, then depart home with them. Even so, most of the filling-up job was done by the lads, who undertook the heavy part of the job as perfect gentlemen. Many thanks to them for that, I myself wouldn’t have managed for sure. Not even with Beryl’s help, although she’s stronger than I. She and I were sent here as part of our training to become army biologists, to enable us “learn more about fieldwork”. This is plain pathetic! Filling in various cargo handling forms, this is all the work comes to. What can one learn in a matter of two hours, especially when practically everything is done for you by the automatics?! I sure understand: the war, and hence the intensive training course. At my 17, instead of the usual 22, I am already a fourth-grade student, near-graduate of the United Army Academy. But I am the daughter of Igor Seleznev, legendary professor of xenobiology, plus I can already boast of my own modest achievements in the field of science, but other students, my coevals, – what will they have time to learn?
I rubbed my eyes. Those nagging thoughts made me all sleepy, unwilling to do anything or think of anything. Beryl, it appeared, had read my thoughts and she offered me a sweet bar from her ration. I smiled at her, but didn’t take the bar. I closed my eyes and reclined to my head-rest, trying to make myself comfortable in the seat, to take a nap till we arrive. Oh well, dream on.
- Alice, we have some minor snag with the ACS1 ( 1 Air-Conditioning System ). Nothing lethal, but it’d do us no harm to sort out what’s up till we’ve travelled too far, - one of the pilots addressed me.
- What exactly is wrong?
- I guess sensors are out-of-order. Air consumption in the cargo compartment is not displayed.
- That’s where the beasts are… What d’you say? – I turned to Beryl, but she just shrugged her shoulders. – OK, land then.
The shuttle rolled into turn sharply. Safety belts and anti-g tubes were actuated again, and again my seat felt like it was made of iron. Small tongues of flame flickered behind the glass – we were entering the atmosphere. The shuttle shook several times, setting the maladjusted panels to creak and vibrate. On our further descend, gravity came to be of help, and we lowered to the level of clouds pretty quickly. Having made a couple of circles over the surface in search of a suitable landing spot, we commenced with landing. Behind us, I could hear flaps going down, while the released landing gear ski hooted beneath. The shuttle lifted its nose up sharply and, cutting off speed, it landed near-vertically right in the center of a small opening in the forest. In fact, it was rather a jungle than a forest, but that was obviously not the lads’ concern. When picking place for landing, pilots must think of a better landing comfort in the first place, last of all – of potential perils from the jungle.
Upon landing, we hurried to get rid of our safety harnesses. I made it faster than even the pilots, while Beryl, on the contrary, was unfastening everything with no hurry, closely following the instruction. Exit hatch lay almost behind the cockpit door, so we didn’t have a long way to travel through the shuttle, but then we had to jump – shuttles are not provided with stairways. The pilots picked up a step-ladder and stomped in the direction of the power compartment. Beryl remained standing in the hatch’s opening, while I went to check on the beasts. One could get to the cargo compartment only from outside.

Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi
Here we are, on this planet again. This morning I found myself here for the first time, just like all of us in fact. As I could make it from conversations, this is a reserve, very seldom visited by any representatives of the sapiens species. Even the traps here had been set up by a robot. Talking about the traps, Alice and I were sent here alone, but some of the animals captured were pretty massive. I guess the instructors were counting on the fact that we, loroi, are stronger than humans. We are, but still, they’ve overestimated me apparently. The guys did all the work – I wanted to give them a hand, but they’ve rejected my help for some reason. I’m used already to seeing Earth men at work, even the heaviest one, but I can’t help feeling awkward all the same. They must be mad, using their men in such crude manner! They may be stronger than our males, and more numerous also, but like all humans they are deprived of such essential capacities as telepathy and telekinesis.
When others left the cabin, I didn’t follow them jumping down and remained inside the ship, poised by the exit hatch. I wanted to take a better look at this planet, to store it in my mind – hardly I’ll come back here ever. Alice calls this routine, but for me even two hours spent on a planet like this is a big event. The local sun was setting and its orange light dyed everything orange: the white body of our shuttle, the turquoise grass of the glade, the deep-green jungle which stretched up to the horizon. Even Alice’s black jacket and her dark-blonde hair were ginger now. Talking about Alice. There she was, walking now along the long body of the ship towards the cockpit hatch, where I stood. I read alarm and sulk emanating from her. It was all written on her face, in any case.
- Let’s go! – she snapped at me, turning on her heels sharply. I jumped down and followed her running. We climbed into the cargo compartment where our pilots already stood and where animals in their cages laid. Laid suspiciously still. I took a closer look at a small creature that looked like a terrestrial beaver who laid, not stirring and not blinking, with its mouth slightly open.
- Alice, it looks like… this one is dead. - I said uncertainly. Having served as a sniper already, I hardly felt qualms about deaths of the sapiens, but the animals…
- They all are dead. Could you give us the reason?
I nodded, while pulling a small scanner from behind my belt. These are singularly our, lorian scanners – we never give them to people or any other races. This is strictly forbidden, because it’s top secret. I crouched to bring the scanner closer to the animal, it irradiated the animal, beeped and produced on its display the animal’s tomographed image with several multicolored maculae. Despite the inscriptions being in Lorian, Alice who was looking over my shoulder, announced with certainty: “acute heart failure”. We checked the rest – all had the same problem.
- And so what does it all mean? Of stress, did they? – one of the pilots asked.
- Don’t know… Hardly our return could… - Alice shrugged her shoulders uncertainly.
- It has nothing to do with us, and with the AC system either!
- It looks like your traps have caught only old beasts! – the guys nearly attacked Alice, defending either themselves or their ship. Under their pressure, Alice took a step back, and I decided to support her.
- When we’re back at the base, it’d be up to them to decide whose fault it was and who’s to carry the responsibility.
- Who’s to be responsible for them but you?! Who failed to monitor them?!
For an answer, I placed my hand on my knife holster in a demonstrative manner.
- Enough! – Alice screamed, wedging in between us and throwing her arms apart. – The beasts are dead, aren’t they, and now it’s time to decide not whose fault it was but what we should do now. What exactly was the problem with the ACS?
- The sensors displayed zero air consumption.
- Meaning the air was not consumed?
- Well, yes, was not recycled, to be precise. Air here flows in a simple cycle. It goes to the impurities sensors first, then it’s purified in the filters, then air from the air bottles gets mixed in with it.
- And if impurities are absent?
- Then the air does not get mixed in.
- Impurities? Breath consumption, you mean? – I specified.
- You got it, carbon dioxide exhaled. Anyway, with the local fauna it’s carbon monoxide. Well, it all means that they died right on our takeoff. Indeed… Very strange.
- What are you going to do?
Alice peered through the open cargo hatch at the jungle.
- We’re going to set up traps again.

Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth

Regretfully, all the beasts have died. And it isn’t clear why – for the beasts we had trapped were miscellaneous – some of them old, some young. Yet the reason of death was inevitably the same, as well as the time of death. We are going to have problems now, and the pilots too, we nearly had a fight with them about it already… and only a while ago I was complaining that there was nothing to do! To compensate for our mishaps, we’ll have to set up traps by ourselves now – next ship will have to pick them up later. Perhaps we’ll even manage to understand what exactly had killed the beasts. A shame the lads can’t join us – even if they wanted to, they’d hardly dare to leave the ship, and now, after our row, there’s no hope for that at all. A day here is twice as long as a terrestrial one, plus we are in high latitudes – sunset will last for four more hours at least, and still, all tells me that we are off for a night shift.
Beryl picked up several traps, I took a couple more. The tent, provisions and two power rifles we’ve agreed to carry in turns. And so we set off.
As soon as we dived under the jungle curtain, our nostrils were hit by a sharp sweetish smell. The clearing where our shuttle had landed, turned out to be a height – trees stood very high here, much higher than they appeared from the glade - with thick bright-green foliage. The branches were closing densely high above, forming a beautiful whicker ceiling or a cupola, with beams of flirty ginger light making their way through it here and there. Lianas, minor trees, bushes – all that was present here in great plenty, while the flowers were iridescent, yes, sir, iridescent with all colors of a rainbow! And yet, the out-of-line humidity typical for any terrestrial rainforest, was absent here. It was humid all right, but one could breathe here easily and with no effort. But what was weird – not a single sound around. No birds screeching, no insects buzzing, no rusting of some minor beasts in the bushes – nothing. Having walked for five minutes or so, I turned round to take a look at our ship, but I couldn’t see it – the jungle had closed in on us already! Seeing my confusion, Beryl gave me a questioning nod.
- Don’t mind me, it’s all right. It’s just the jungle had closed somewhat far too fast.
- Had it? I thought it was supposed to be that way.
- Ha, Beryl!.. Nature, whichever nature it is, doesn’t know any “supposed to be” - “not supposed to be”. At least, trees certainly don’t follow any instructions or programs.
- You made a strange specification. Was it essential?
- Oh well, the laws of nature exist anyhow, nothing is to be done about that, and besides, we sapiens are part of nature, too.
Beryl just shrugged. She possesses this pretty rare - even for people - gift to snatch out all the essential details. And thus, she tried to squeeze out most from what I just said.
- Does it seem to me, or are there very few animals round here? – she went on.
I took another look around. We have travelled a more considerable distance [from the ship] by now, and local lifeforms were gradually quitting to hide from us and camouflage themselves.
- They are here, they just hid because of our shuttle’s landing. Say, see that dry branch? – I pointed to one of the trees. Beryl nodded. I picked up some piece of wood from the ground and flung it at the “branch”. The piece of wood had missed, but that had proved enough in any case – the “branch” coiled up into a spring rapidly and made its retreat higher up into the branches. – There is another one of such “lianas”, see? – I pointed at another snake. – There are plenty of them here, and you, being telepathic, could have scanned the place by now. – In reply, Beryl only frowned fastidiously.

Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth
We are marching for over two hours already, and still this jungle seems to have no end. No, I am aware of its dimensions pretty well, but indeed… To be honest, too, I don’t feel at ease in here somehow – this jungle is in some way different from all I knew before. It’s unclear, imperceptible, but there is something deeply wrong with this jungle. We have set up several traps already, and were now travelling almost light – each of us is carrying a rifle, to share the tent’s weight we split it in two, which proved possible thanks to its module construction. It was getting dark already, and we were looking for a place to spend the night.
- Maybe we should go to the riverbank? I saw the river as we were landing. – Beryl asked me.
- No, that’s a bad idea. The place must be infested with reptiles no doubt, plus local predators sure visit it for drinking. On the other hand, we do need an open space, you’re right here. And you made out it so well then?
Beryl nodded.
- And you could lead us there?
- I think I could. For my caste, strong memory is a standard. Could I ask you something, by the way?
- Go ahead.
- Why did the guys act in such a strange manner? They were so eager to help up at first – they’ve traced the captured beasts by the beacons, stowed them in the hold, but then, when it came out that the beasts were dead, they’ve started to put all the blame on you. Why?
- Well, at first they tried being sweet to us. But now, its not just us who’ll be punished for the beasts, they also will be.
- Being sweet? We just wouldn’t have managed on our own, their help was a necessity.
- No. This is called flirt, advances, this sort of thing… There are many words for it…
- You mean this was male courtship?
- Well, sort of yes and no… - I felt my cheeks flushing. – This is a kind of game, but at the same time a chance to impress – what if it works…
- What works exactly?
- A more serious relationship. – I replied diplomatically. However, Beryl got the idea.
- Oh well. Did you happen to like any of them? – she asked me with a hint of a smile.
- Well… they are both pretty sweet. And you?
- Me? Well, to be honest, the one who…
Beryl didn’t have time to finish. A bush right behind her has shot at her with a liana! I pushed her back automatically, and the liana swooshed past. But by then another liana was at me. Oh devil! My wrist felt scorched, I tried to set myself free, but the liana was dragging me up, into the greenery! A shot – Beryl’s shot split this liana in two, one more shot – and another one was agonizing on the ground. We set off running, me ripping off my hand the stinging whip as I was speeding. My set of traps, my rifle, my share of our provisions – all that was left behind. We ran for ten minutes approximately, until we reached a small glade. Beryl couldn’t keep to such a tempo any longer, neither could I. We both collapsed to the ground.

Image

Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi
Something unknown had attacked us in an unknown manner. We managed to break free, but we’ve lost part of our stuff – Alice dropped her provisions bag and the traps. Her rifle, too. Which is too bad, another rifle could be helpful. What a looser I am – lost focus for a moment, and as a result Alice had to protect me, to be injured in process. On the other hand, it’s hard to expect much speed from anyone – even a loroi – who’s heavily loaded with bags, plus we get overheated faster than humans. I hardly made it with all that load to the glade and fell on the ground. Alice tried to sit down, but she fell down too. It took us several minutes to get our breaths back.
When I was capable of standing up again, it was already twilight. Going deeper into the woods was out of question – even in daylight we nearly became someone’s prey. That was why, not to waste time, we were setting our tent up right here. Fortunately, we had both parts of the tent with us, which meant that the tent’s alarm system was here too. We worked as rapidly as we could manage. Alice was setting up the tent’s framework while I was spreading up the alarm system along the perimeter [of the glade]. The traps remaining with us served as a supplement to it. I also did the job of pulling the tent over its frame, while Alice attended to her hand. It looked like a pretty nasty wound. She treated the hand with a spray, but that didn’t help much. When everything was switched on and the tent was ready, I questioned her finally.
- What was that?
- A predator plant.
- What?!!
- Never heard of those? But yes, you were transferred from the geology section… See, there occur such degenerates of evolution. Incapable of sustaining themselves or even establishing links like common plants.
- But I thought… - what I’ve just heard came as quite a shock for me. On all four planets I’ve been to so far, I never heard of anything like that. – Was it a mutant?
- Sadly, nature gives birth to such creatures, too. Although, - Alice kept rubbing her wounded hand non-stop. – there were certain peculiarities here.
- A tree was trying to eat us…
- What’s the big deal? Plants like that exist on Earth too, only they’re considerably smaller. What was strange is that it had attacked us in particular. – Alice was trying to bandage her scarf around her burn that was developing more and more. – God, it stings!.. In wild nature, nothing happens for no reason. If a plant hunts, that means it either lacks nutrients, or else it defends itself. Soil here seems pretty fertile to me, and there’s enough light, which means, it was defense. But main enemies of all plants are insects and rodents. Those here are obviously not of our dimensions. All this just doesn’t make any sense. It just can’t be! Oh, dammit! – I saw blood oozing from Alice’s hand.
Thinking suddenly, I extracted a cooling package from my pouch quickly, broke it and pressed to her hand. She drew the scarf over this compress, then pressed the sick arm to her chest.
Having had a light snack with what we had remaining of our ration, we started settling down for the night. Alice was starting to have a splitting headache, so I gave her some tranquilizer. Then I made an attempt to contact the ship, yet to no avail – we were in lowland, and radio was not working here. I stuck my head out of the tent, to take a look around. Night fell already, and it was pitch-dark outside. All one could hear were the quiet sounds of some nocturnal animals rustling along the perimeter of the glade… When I got back in, Alice was asleep already. I turned on voltage on the tent’s surface, placed a loaded rifle next to me, stuck a chemical flashlight under my pillow and closed my eyes.

Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi
I was woken by some rhythmical growing rumble. When I opened my eyes, it was already getting lighter outside. I unzipped the tent and looked around – the rumble was coming from the side of the slope from where we ran down here. Flocks of birds were rising from the trees that lay in the same direction. I crawled back into the tent, grabbed the rifle and started to wake Alice.
- Alice, get up! – no reaction. I touched her forehead and drew my hand back automatically – it was iron-hot! I tried to rise Alice up but to no avail. I dragged her out of the tent, and bending down, I threw her over my shoulder. Straightening myself up, I ran towards the river – I remembered where it was. When we reached the trees, I saw what it was rushing at us down the slope – a herd of huge steppe animals . Grey, dense, plenty of them.

I jumped into a large ravine – it should lead me to the river. Behind me, I could hear the alarm setting off, traps snatching and the animals trumpeting. But the traps failed to stop them, on the contrary, their whole mass rushed after me! Why?! Dropping Alice was unthinkable, I grabbed my rifle tighter and… I suddenly found myself on an open riverbank. As it turned out, the river was only a hundred meters away. I put Alice on the ground and made several shots at the ones running ahead – they fell, causing a jam – this spacey ravine was but a small footpath for them. The animals were trampling over each other, and while they were busy doing so, I took a quick look around. What a luck! There was a riffle at the river bending! Rising Alice back to my shoulder, out of my breath by then, I ran there. Several animals had managed to break through and they were now following me… To make a shortcut, they rushed after me right across the water, and there, from the fountains of splashes they’ve created, huge reptiles went to attack them! – just what Alice had been warning me about. Two of them attacked me, I’ve lost my balance and fell in the water, but I finished them off with the last bullets remaining in my rifle. I climbed up on the shore, carrying Alice in my arms and moving some distance away from the water to an open gentle slope, I placed her on the ground. When I caught my breath back and looked around, I spotted a small flat area rising amid the slope, with a small grotto beneath it. The place looked relatively safe, and I resolved to move Alice over there.

Image

Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi
We spent over half of the day sitting in that grotto. That is, I was sitting, while Alice lay almost motionless. Occasionally she’d made an attempt to stir or say something, but nothing but moans came from her mouth. I made no attempts to speak to her telepathically, afraid it may do her even more harm. Once I took a quick trip to the river to scoop some water and made a wet bandage around Alice’s forehead. What if it helps? For it was clear by now that that was poison, or maybe a virus.
Our first-aid kit, food, cartridges – it all remained in the tent. We had to return to the ship urgently, but I was afraid even to take a quick trip to the glade where our tent stood. The radio was dead, too. I was trying to think up something or to plan a safer route, for I could remember how this place looks from air. Bad luck, though, any the new route I could think of didn’t appear any safer than the one we arrived here by. A carnivorous plant could be anywhere, it didn’t look any different from any other bush (or perhaps it even was right here, concealed under a common harmless plant), and thus spotting it in advance, to bypass it at a safe distance was not an issue. Also there could be more of its likes that I’d like to think. Finally I came to a decision that that the safest way back was returning on our own trail, just as we had planned before. The single perilous place I did remember, our cartridges may well have remained intact back at the glade, besides, I could always apply telekinesis if required.
Right now, the issue was getting something to eat. Last time we’ve eaten was back at the orbit station, before we took off. Searching for berries or fruits may take too much time, besides there was no guarantee they won’t prove poisonous, so the only solution would be – a hunt. We were briefed a little about the local fauna, and for all we knew, it was potentially edible. I pulled my last remaining weapon – a jack-knife - from its holster, removed a belt from Alice’s waist and used it to fix the knife on the rifle’s barrel. A bayonet knife was supposed to go with this rifle, but we were not issued any, as always. Armed with my improvised spear, I climbed out of the grotto.
The option of going to the river I dismissed at once – the reptiles were too dangerous. The only way was going to the forest. I reached its edge pretty quickly and walked under its curtain with care. I didn’t pay much attention to it in the morning, but at high sun, it wasn’t not much lighter here than it was in twilight. But now the jungle was simmering with life – both upper and lower levels sheltered an enormous amount of birds. Birds here were of various sizes, shapes and colors. Some were not afraid of me, and now and then a bird would come so close that it looked like I’d be able to catch it with my bare hands. But they were such tiny birds that to satisfy one’s hunger, one had to eat at least a hundred of those. Again, they were so brisk, that at the slightest danger they’d vanish in a twinkle of an eye. Above, in the upper levels, scarcely moving their one-meter-long wings, large parrot-like birds flew - blue-and-red, their long tails bearing a pair of 3m-long ribbon-like tail feathers. It was one of such birds I’ve resolved to catch. I was going deeper and deeper into the woods while keeping a close eye on the birds. As it turned out, they never landed on the ground, they sat on trees exclusively, very seldom diving lower. Finally, one of the birds, attracted by a flock of tiny birdies who were pottering about in the earth not far from where I stood, has dared to come closer. As it let out its claws, and I was ready to fling my spear at it, two lianas shot at it suddenly from somewhere beneath the ground, dragging the bird down with them.
This forest is one big predator in itself…
I backed up, unwilling to become the next prey. Till the night fell, I kept trying either to catch something, or to make out how to tell a dangerous plant from the others, but neither worked. I returned to the grotto with empty hands. Damn! And that was what for I left you here all alone for so long… Please, Alice, forgive me!

Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth
It hurts.
Hard to breathe.
Because of the pain, I can’t manage to concentrate.
OK, we focus on the sounds now. It helped last time, should help now as well.
I can hear some noise. It’s water, running somewhere beneath. Some squawks. Birds screaming? Must be. Over and over again. Am I alone? Was there someone with me? Some rustling. It’s footsteps. Something cold and wet touches my forehead. It makes me feel better. Should I open my eyes? I don’t have enough strength for that. But I’ll try.
My eyelids feel like they are made of lid. I can hardly open them. There is a silhouette hovering above me. Is it human? All is blurred. White hair, blue skin. Is she crying? She is crying and smiling at the same time. She calls me by my name. I know her. I surely know her. Beryl!
- Beryl… - I manage to squeeze out.
- Alice, you… Forgive me!
- What for?
- For leaving you here alone, in danger.
Here? Gradually, I come to. Here. Slanted ceiling. This is a cave. A small one. I’m lying on a stone floor. How did I come to be here? Beryl carried me. The grey beasts. I remember them.
- How are you?
- I?.. I’m fine. I went… - she cut herself short. – How are you feeling?
- Pretty shitty. Where did you go?
Beryl told me about her hunt, and also about how she was carrying me on her shoulder. All of a sudden, it all became so clear to me. All the inadequacies were gone. Things that looked stupid and illogical before, have now formed into a simple and clear logical chain.
- It’s all right, Beryl, calm down. Could you bring me to the river?..

Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi
I couldn’t get any sleep last night. Perhaps the hunger, or the excitement, or this headache that’ getting heavier and heavier. Besides, I’ve spent much energy while taking Alice’s pain away telepathically. Let my caste be far from strongest in this skills, I did my best for her. And still, I’m feeling much better than Alice, though she says that I’ll faint soon, too. At the break of dawn, we leave the grotto. Alice is still too weak to walk by herself, so she’s leaning on me. We make our slow progress down to the river, to its dead channel, to be precise. I lead her following the map in my head, I haven’t been there myself yet.
We walked nearly a kilometer through the jungle. I helped Alice to remove her clothes, and despite my protests, she got in the water. She was trying to drag me in too but I refused. This is just too stupid – she knew of the water predators’ presence in the river, and now she was offering herself as a lunch to them. She was swimming, diving… Perhaps, of course, water now was a needed cooling agent to her body… And then, she didn’t dive out. I stopped breathing for a moment. Throwing off the top part of my overalls, I jumped in the water. Something grabbed me immediately, trying to drag me down. I beated it off with no effort – that was Alice! She simply enticed me to swim with her. To be fair, cold water really did make me feel better, only not for long. I got out quickly, pulling Alice out with me, screaming at her on the way for giving me such a scare. She just smiled at me. I almost forced her to put her clothes back on, but still I couldn’t drag her away from the river. She collected something from the ground, putting it in her pocket quickly. Then she scooped some riverwater with her empty flask, and drank it all up in almost one gulp. She was trying to make me drink too, but I resisted, naturally. In the end, she did manage to persuade me to take a few gulps. It was only then I’ve noticed – Alice did gain strength after that bathing.
Our trip back took longer [than our trip here]. First of all, we were walking uphill now, secondly, with each step I was feeling worse, I was having difficulties in breathing, and my headache was getting worse and worse. We made it to the grotto only by the afternoon, and we both fell on the floor exhausted. I could feel I was getting fever and my body growing week. Leaning on my back, I sat at the grotto entrance with my gun-spear. I tried to be on watch, for I realized how vulnerable we both now were. Gradually, some black stripes and colored circles started blocking my vision. I tried to ignore them, to keep up for as long as I could manage.
I tried to wave them away like some nagging mosquitoes, but that made it even worse. I got up sharply, but then the ground came very close for some reason… An impact.
I passed out.

Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth
I pulled back the shutter and lowered the light – Beryl was beginning to come to. She lay on a campbed under a cooling blanket. Her clothes, which I first placed folded on a small chair, had to be moved the floor – I took the chair placing it close by Beryl’s sickbed. Her face was distorted with pain, and she was moaning haplessly, but that was already better than nothing – she was recovering. I took a cooling package, broke it and placed it on her forehead. She grew quieter and her ruby eyes opened slightly.
- Welcome back! – I smiled at her.
- Alice…
- Soon you’ll get your strength back, that’s how it was with me.
- Where am I?..
- You’re in the shuttle, and we are approaching the orbit station already. The lads had made a little refurbishment in here, moved the cages and set up a small hospital for us.
Beryl shut her eyes slowly, then looked at me sharply.
- But how?
- It’s simple. I’ve summoned the ship by the radio. Of course, I had to climb on top of that hill, the one that hosted our grotto, and also I’ve used that last bullet that you were saving for yourself in your bootleg. With its help, the lads had found us.
- So you know?..
- And how did you think? – I laughed. – But that was not the most interesting part. It was your words that made me understand what exactly was the matter here.
- How could you pass through?..
- Listen. I told you that nature doesn’t obey any programming. This is true, but only for natural nature, not the one created artificially. Everything in the forest was trying to kill us, even the things that are not supposed to be there in the first place – a plant that hunts birds, steppe animals that break through the jungle for some reason. All that had been created on purpose, to make anyone who finds himself on this planet, unable to leave it. Look! – I offered Beryl a metal plate, rust-eaten considerably, which bore scriptures in some unknown language. – I found it when we went swimming in that lake. I found plenty of them, in our grotto too, and in the jungle. It seems like there was a city down there once.
- Still, I don’t understand… What was the need for that?
- It looks like there was an epidemic down there. I think the ones who lived there and who created all that, have travelled to outer space and brought some disease from there. When they realized that they were dying, to save their remaining colonies, they’ve created an ecosystem which served as a weapon at the same time. They didn’t burn everything down to the ground, hoping perhaps that with time a vaccine may appear. But so as not to die before their time they invented a kind of insurance – another virus. It worked as a kind of an friend or foe system. The one who caught it and had been ill, became part of that world, and the world stopped reacting to him as to an enemy. And that was exactly what had killed our beasts – as we were leaving the planet’s exosphere, the virus killed them.
- But how about us?..
- We are now free from the virus. Sure it took some effort to find the cure, but now everything is fine!
Beryl gave me a trace of a smile and closed her eyes. I stroked her hair and got up to pour some water for her. This adventure had ended up happily for us – we were simply lucky to come back alive. Only, one thought kept bothering me – could the army command be aware of the danger and they sent us there to make us learn by ourselves how things stood? And learning that – was that our actual lesson? A pretty tough lesson, I should say.

The end.

Alexandr Koori
Translated by Tanya A.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:24 pm
Profile

Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:20 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Moscow
Post Re: Alice - 2100, crossover fanfic
Alice2100, second story, "The corrosion"
Image

Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi

I fastened my belt as I was running. What a hilariously uncomfortable uniform! A heavy single-breasted coat, a skirt, high-heeled shoes… Making them part of the uniform was pure madness! Running on high heels is just imposs… Oh-h-h… Damn! Here I go, falling right in the middle of the corridor. Getting up swiftly, I took off my shoes and ran on tip-toes to the nearest locker room. It was jammed with girls, all of them cadets like myself, judging by their uniforms. Well, not all of them could be defined as “girls” exactly, for some were hardly even humanoid. One could spot several reptiloid Cossidians (Cossidianas?), and the Pollux system aliens, represented here in at least three sexes out of their total seven, someone from the plant kingdom flashed past. Yet, the majority of cadets in here were, naturally, our kind and Earthgirls. I dived in and leaned against the wall, putting my shoes back on.

I looked round once again – the hubbub, the fuss, the usual lot, but it looks like there is still time. Soon, in a few minutes, the training course opening ceremony will begin. In fact, it is already going, only for the junior groups. As for us, cadets of the graduate course at the United Army Academy, we’ll be the last to march. Our ceremony differs from the others. We have taken an oath already, and now we are due to be assigned the rank of senior lieutenant. Incidentally, I personally have a Lorian rank already, a higher one in fact. Only, in the United Army, it doesn’t have that much weight. Officers who graduate from the Academy often prove much more useful than the regular military – the Academy, and its branches, produce specialists who combine extensive military training and profound scientific knowledge. As for myself, for instance, I have already completed my studies as a geologist and now, this is my final year of training to become a field biologist. Such an overlap may appear strange, but for us, members of my caste in particular, it’s perfectly normal. Mastering big volumes of information was never a problem for me.

I got distracted though. Someone trod on my foot, someone elbowed me, scratched my hand, so I had to respond adequately. Thus, having earned a few bruises and having supplied a few to some, I squeezed myself through to one of the mirrors. Oh, well. Everything looks fine – my blue coat sits straight, yellow stripes on its sleeves and the tablings are all in places. The belt, the skirt – all is in order here too. My hair… I had no chance to fix my awry mane - some Earthgirl shoved me aside. I clenched my fist but quickly checked my anger – we are all in a hurry, a fight here might bring me more harm than profit. It took me less effort to squeeze myself through back to the exit where cadet girls and cadet boys were already getting ready for a lineup. A uniformed lady, a Loroi like myself incidentally, dragged me by the sleeve rather rudely, propelling me into one of the “boxes”. From behind the wall of the small premise we were waiting in, speeches of course headmasters were clearly audible, followed by cadets’ voices, then rounds of applause… We stood waiting for at least half an hour before our “box” was commanded: “Eyes front! Forward march!”


Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi

The ceremony came to be much speedier and much more boring than I had expected. Surely, I hardly counted on something spectacular and posh, but still… I really expected a bit more. However, it was over now, and the cadets were getting ready to move on to the residential sector. The Academy occupies a considerable segment of the Station that orbits the planet which Earthlings refer to as Kepler-22, while we call it Ekum. But where am I to go now? It’s completely my fault, I must admit. I shouldn’t have lingered till the last moment, boarding the last suitable shuttle and hardly making it to the appointed time (I even had to change into my dress uniform on board of the shuttle!), I shouldn’t have neglected to study the Station’s map. As a result, having received the key to my room, I found myself with no slightest idea of how to get there. An unforgivable mistake, for this was my first visit to the Station. No way I shall ever confess this to Alice! A brief instruction they issued me along with the key, proved completely useless – we were due to be met on Maglev station, only the station which they were due to arrive to, was closed currently, de-energized. That was rather surprising. Some of the cadets took taxies to their quarters, but for me this proved too expensive. One more disappointment – prices here are exorbitant! I had no choice but to follow a group of cadets who have resolved to enjoy a long stroll to the rooms.
The stroll proved to be a long one, we walked for three hours at least. The ones I followed were evidently not in a hurry, pushing their way through the shops (rather nice ones), through gardens or just paying visits to the local places of interest. Finally, there’s some good news for me about the Station – there are places here that may interest me. I’ve managed to work out pretty soon the shortest way to get to the living quarters, but I decided not to deny myself this improvised guided tour. Besides, many of the corridors that were marked on the map as free, were in fact blocked, so crossing the Station without a guide may have proved… a risky affair. Display boards above us blinked the useless “Closed for technical reasons”. Six times we ran into blocked corridors, which seemed to come as a surprise even to our guides.
- Susanin you are. What's going on again?
- Chill out, comrades. I could make it from the docks to the base with closed eyes, be sure I’ll get you there, - a cadet clad in camouflage retorted.
- Would you do us a favour and open your eyes, please!
- I’ve no damn clue why doors blocked. It ain’t even a Space Trooper's Day…
- Hey, boys, no fighting please! – a girl in electric-yellow dress cut in. – There is a café nearby, let's take a break, perhaps they’ll open the corridors!
- I see no cause and effect connection here, but I’m pretty tired. I vote for the café. – a bespectacled guy replied.
- Could do. – the cadet in camouflage shrugged. The others also seemed enthusiatic about the idea.
- Excuse me… Could I join you in the café? – I asked the girl who stood next to me. She looked at me but said nothing – she disliked Loroi, I could sense that. Many Terrans don’t hold much sympathy with us, which is quite understandable – only ten years have passed since the conflict between us had resolved, and not in their favour. Oh well, no means no…
- Sure you can! – the girl in yellow dress popped up from behind my back! How did she come to be there?! – I am Olya Laskova, from biological faculty, and what is your name?
- Beryl. My spoken name is Listel Tozet Eilis, but in your language it’s simply Beryl. I’m a biologist, too.
- Greeeat! We’ll be fellow students! – she clung to my arm. What does one do to that? – Come-come-come! – and she dragged me along with her.
- Hah! Don’t panick, Olya is the way she is. Have you been here before? – the bespectacled guy asked me. I shook my head. – Never?
- This is my first time at the Station.
- Our Station is OK usually, it’s just that today there’s something wrong with the corridors. Olya, will you see her off to the cabins afterwards?
- But of course! – we entered the café. – Do you know already who your roommate will be? What if it’s me?!
Generally, I don’t care much who to share a room with but this time I hardly held myself from replying “Fortunately, not”.
- My roommate will be a girl called Alice. Perhaps you know her? From Earth, of European looks, sporty, about my height. She has gray-blue eyes and shoulder-length dark-blonde straight hair. She usually wears gray marching set and a black leather jacket*. She once mentioned to me she was pretty popular down here.
The guys glanced at each other.
- This could only be Alice Seleznyova!
*A light travel set includes a vest, jeans-type trousers, only made of thicker fire-electric-proof material, a matching jacket (Alice doesn’t wear it) and a pair of high boots. This set is a version of permitted unform, but is often exploited as casual wear due to its comfort and durability. Among girls, however, it is not very popular, with exception of those who are usually described as “tomboy”.


Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth

Wooowh… I flopped on the bed.
My stuff is somehow stowed in, schoolbooks piled, writing desk occupied. Whoever comes to be my roommate now, I will always be the host! Hurrah! Even my pets are now almost legal here. Keeping animals is not permited here, but first – who reads the rules, and second – who was the first to be lodged in here? – I was. Therefore, it’s for me to decide, and basically, I’m now the boss. Take it or leave it.
To be honest, everybody down here does have some forbidden stuff. Even Svetlana, despite her ambitions to be the seen as Miss Perfect and her permanent remindings to everyone of this or that charter or rule. Our guys are not worth even mentioning here, for the stuff they keep in their rooms must have been compiled according the list of forbidden items. Playing cards, computer games, books, cantilevers, guns – pick what you like. Talking about it, I must pay them a visit – to swap with them a few books and some equipment.
I sat on my pillow and looked round. Basically, no reason to complain – after that student hostel on Saturn with a bunk room for sixteen people, this here is a luxury suit. A spacious double-room, each bed set in an individual niche. Bookshelves overhead in that same niche. On one side, the niche, as well as the room itself, is restricted by the wall that holds a common cupboard-type low wardrobe (I guess, there must be a similar niche on the other side), on the other side there’s another cupboard, individual this time. All this is rounded up with a large writing desk, single for two (it’s mine already, and no way I’m gonna share it with anyone). Everything is pretty functional, clean, spacious, made of high-quality materials. Only, what monocell of a designer was responsible for the general layout is a big question. The entrance door is situated right behind my cupboard, and right across it there is a door to… a common bathroom. And so whoever enters will face inevitably not just the bathroom door, which for some reason is impossible to close, but the shower cabin and its current contents. Thus if I’ll be having a shower, the first thing a visitor will see will be me. In the shower. Naked. Ogh. And so the question remains – what a monocell? Today I’m heading off to a shop to get some shower curtain at least.
I got up, stretched and rummaged in my bag for a card... Which I then placed in my pocket. OK, beasties, it’s now time to hide you. I don’t have that many pets – just the four of them. Kuzya – a land octopus from the planet of Groque, had already found himself a nice little place under the bed of my future roommate. Ree - the miniature python - had also secreted himself quite nicely – under the table. As for my cat Lyra and Bat (the Batman) – hiding them might prove a tricky affair. Come, Lyra, come here. Good girl, now let me put you in the cupboard. Why are you resisting? Hey, don’t clawing me! Damn! This ain’t for long, no big deal. Don’t be afraid. There, we’re done with Lyra, now it is Batman’s turn. I looked round – it was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t in my cupboard, I would have spotted it in there. I checked the other cupboard, then the bathroom. To zero effect. Oh well, if I wasn’t able to find it, there’s very little chance that my future roommate will, as long as it doesn’t occur to her to turn the lights off. What a shame Dad didn’t allow me to take the Chatterer Bird with me… It would have been something to boast with for sure! I wouldn’t even think of hiding such a wonder – I would have positioned its feeding trough in the most noticable place. But nothing to be done with it, Dad’s “no” is undisputable. On the other hand, he would’ve hardly allowed me to take Kuzya either, only I was clever enough not to ask for his permission.
All right, it’s time to go. Taking one last look round, I headed for the door and exited to the corridor. To one side of it there were doors to similar cabins, around ten of them I counted, the opposite side of the corridor presented a solid wall finished with panels of stainless steel. Both ends of the corridor ended in minor halls with a couple of coaches and fluffy palm trees in the corners. Each hall opened to two more corridors – one of which, the longest, was leading to deep into the Station and presented itself just a chain of similar halls, the other corridor, passing through the first-aid bay, led to the observation deck. In one of the halls, among other cadets, I spotted students from my group – Svetlana, Mike, Anton and Olya.
- Alice!
- Hi everybody! You just got here?
- Yeap! – Mike adjusted his glasses. – Incidentally, we have some news for you.
- And not a cheery ones. – Svetka added maliciously.
- What happened?
- Nothing critical, we only just met your new roommate. Olya…
- She’s a Loroi.
- Svetlana, what’s the big deal? Olya had almost made friends with her!
- Great! Isn’t she with you? – I looked round the hall.
- No. She’s… She went to the Commandant’s office, to be registered. Have you been here long?
I nodded in reply.
- For like two hours I guess. And what’s her name? What does she look like?
- She… she… - Olya implied her hands to help her explain. – She’s so… stone-cold… So… like a crystal…
- Hmm… What d’you mean?..
- Well, she like emanated cold… so mysteeeerious…
- A Loroi’s regular body temperature is 27 degrees Celcium, they all emanate coolness.
- She also had… Her ears were like… pointed. Like this. – Olyenka quickly demonstrated on her own ears what a Loroi ears look like. – And she also is… Of such color… Sky-blue… Azure…
- All Loroi have pointed ears and blue skin.
- But… she also had… also… her high boots were just so cool! They were white. Not as white as the ones in that shop on the fifth’s level, and not as high as the ones I’ve placed an order to be delivered to me from the planet, for I’ve ordered the dark ones and with fasteners, but like the ones I’ve bought last month, only mine are high-heeled, red and with zippers, and hers are white, shorter and with flat soul. They are like leather, but not like my new ones, because mine are suede, but like the other ones I have which are leather. Did I tell you I’ve ordered them from the planet? So then, hers are just like mine, only of leather, anyway I’ll show you mine when they’ll be delivered. I asked her where she got such cool boots, to which she told me something strange about the “Set” and “Issued”… What peculiar names they give to their shops, don’t you think? Anyway, when I’ve almost persuaded her – can’t remember now what I was trying to persuade her in – we were having such a sweet little chat, only for some reason she excused herself and ran off to the Commandant’s office. So… And then…
- Olya! – the guys were secretly dying with laughter. We all love Olya of course, but… How she did manage to get here in the first place and especially how she managed to reach the graduate course is a great mystery to all.
- And some irrelevant details. – Mike said, placing his arm on Olya’s shoulder. – About your height, blonde, same haircut as yours, perhaps a bit shorter. Hair slightly wavy, violet-colored eyes. Really, some “icy” combination. In person she’s quite nice, I bet you’ll make friends. The name goes something like Lestelle or Listelle…
- Listel Tolzet Eilis, - I turned to the familiar voice. – Or simply Beryl. Hello, Alice!

Image


Svetlana, trainee biologist, a Human

Finally, the graduate course has started! Studing is a very serious process, and studying at the Academy is twice so. It will be I, in person, who will become responsible for the others’ lives and for our success in the war. Now it is time to focus even harder on the studies, ignoring all the distractions! Many cadets don’t take their studies seriously enough – instead of dedicating themselves fully to training and simulators, they waste their time on cafes, cinemas, on just fooling about… No discipline at all, what a shame! Some of them even manage to take amuzement trips to the planet… What sort of officers they’ll be?! I don’t care that each has his own ways to relax – there’s really no time to relax – we are at war! And it’s not for them to decide how they should spend their free time.
But is this our war indeed? These bloody Loroi brought it with them seventeen years ago. At first, they attacked us and then, having annexed several stellar systems and having killed hell of a lot of people and aliens, they simply brought their apologies – sorry, that was a mistake, - and set us up under the strike of Boarians. For all I know, they are at war with each other for ages – for literally thousands of years, and to keep the war going, both sides keep conquering other systems for the sake of natural resourses. But now they’ve chosen the wrong enemy to mess with! When Loroi attacked us, the United Planets’ Union already existed and we all stood up as one to rebuff them. They later admitted that had happenned for the first time in their history! To be fair, according to the “The Front line Bulletin”, which is certainly a media to be trusted, the war would have started in any case and the Boarians would have attacked us regardless of whether we knew of the Loroi’s existance or not. Even so. Only, these blue-skinned ones act so as by signing peace treaty with us they’ve done us a big favour! One of them had once told me openly – what a shame we haven’t conquered you then! That other Loroi had shushed her then, but still… By now, it is crystal-clear to me what they are really up to. And they are getting there. They keep sending only young girls here – all of them lithe, beautiful (and smart, no point in denying that) – so that our guys become attached to them. Which is fine by those – they claim they scarcely have any males left. They lie, I’m dead-sure of that! This is nothing but an act of sabotage, a demographic one! For no offspring can be sired in such alliances. What is more, it’s not only the guys… Those are breaking our morals – not they only live with each other, but date not only with our guys but with our girls also! What a totally immoral behaviour! And yet, nothing is to be done about it, there is not a word about such things in the Charter.
And now one of those is set to “be buddies” with Alice. They seem to know each other for a year and a half already, I recall seeing that blue-skinned one before. And now, what a cunning move they’ve made – placing them together as roommates! I know what they’re up to! To entice Alice to their side. She is a talented biologist no doubt, she knows a lot, and generally she would’ve made a perfect cadet if not for her discipline. And for her love for Loroi. She keeps on going like “they are not our enemies any longer, it’s only together that we can win” – one can tell how thoroughly they’ve brainwashed her with their telepathy. The Loroi may claim that applying telepathy to the races who are not in command of it is not possible – well, it’s bosh! For this is what the Loroi say, and every Loroi is a liar!


Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi

I can’t believe I’ve managed to set myself free from that girl’s tenacious grip. For the whole hour it took us to walk from the café to our residence block, she kept hanging on my arm and I don’t believe she’d shut her mouth for a second. She kept asking me about my service, about my kind, about my equipment – about everything! I sure would’ve been thrilled by such an interest in us, if only she would listen to any of my answers… There was no urgency with my visit to the Commandant’s Office, I could pay it after I’ve dropped my stuff, but it appeared such a good excuse to get rid of the girl, that I just couldn’t miss it.
Before my departure, I was summoned for an interview with some very highly positioned officers who “asked” me to compose regular reports on my own activities and on what living side-by-side with a human being would be like. Despite the fact that humans and Loroi often share not only the roof by now, various incidents still happen. There wouldn’t be anything odd about the order to me, this is a common practice for mixed missions, if not for a certain detail – my reports were supposed to “put more emphasis on my cohabitant rather than myself”. Besides, the interest in me from such important persons, bypassing all the officials… In any other situation, I would’ve been honoured, only not now. I don’t like the smell of it at all.
I was given a list of several candidates to pick from, one of whom proved to be Alice Seleznyova, a cadet-biologist from Earth, and a good friend of mine. We met on Saturn a year and a half ago and we’ve been already to a joint mission, at one of the planets of the Belt, only of what had happenned there I’d rather not think. Following that trip, we were often in contact, outside the Academy too, and we grew to become friends – it really couldn’t be better! It’s much better to be sharing household activities with someone you know well, someone you feel comfortable with. They assured me that we shall get one of the best cabins, that they may consider pardoning me my former misdeeds… Only why me?.. Why didn’t I think about it right then? They made me not to think about it? What did I get myself into… Should I tell Alice? I can’t. Or can? We are allies, aren’t we? What was the need in all that secrecy then?.. Anyhow, I’m still due to find my curator, I don’t have an idea yet of who she may be. Perhaps she’ll give me a clue to what I should do.
Our reunion with Alice came to be a warm one, warmer even than I would prefer – why are Earthlings so love hugging? In truth, I was happy to see her, only after that… Olya… No, that certainly is not my type of custom. Alice got my point pretty quickly, and maneuvered me skillfully away from Olya who seemed very keen on proceeding with our talk. After the door to our cabin was safely shut, I leaned against the door, lowering my rucksack to the floor with some effort. Suddenly it felt stone-heavy.
- Thanks a lot…
- You’re always welcome! Was it Olya who exhausted you so? – Alice grined.
- I was carrying her on my arm for almost an hour. Is this normal?
- Hah. For her – perfectly normal.
And I have a whole course ahead of studying side-by-side with her…
Alice helped me to unpack my stuff, showed me what was where in our room and how to use it. She also showed me some of the beasts they’ve allegedly allowed her to keep here. Well-well. A snake called Ree, a cat called Lyra. Also, there was something lodged under my bed which Alice defined as a land octopus Kuzma. She announced it was young, quite small and not scary at all. Checking this was not in my plans – as long as it doesn’t bother me I don’t care. But a furry minor airborne carnivore might prove a problem. Not in the least because of the parasytes of similar appearance that often dwell in airshafts. I must remember not to shoot this pet by accident.
After… that Olyenka… I felt compelled to have a shower, but Alice objected strongly to that. She is worried that there’s a chance someone might see me in the process. So what? I can understand her worrying for herself, but I simply must cool my body down, and generally – why should one neglect oneself for such a trifle reason? The studies will be starting tomorrow, and I must put myself in order whether she likes it or not.


Mike, trainee genetic researcher, a Human

All right then, here we go. Let us try to put parts of this puzzle together.
It all has started last week. I knew how the opening ceremony was schemed to proceed (the administation office server has lousy protection, with practically no defense apart from a couple of primitive firewalls which a child would break) and what the first day’s program was schedueled to be like. You bet it were to be quite a show. A transition of the whole course of field biologists from Saturn to our Station could hardly be considered a routine event, even for the Academy. However, last week the administration’s initial plans had suddenly changed, the program for the event was all retailored and squeezed – we were facing now a half-hour Rector’s speech in the hangar instead of the long ceremony in the nature zone; no guests at all, although the visit of Iria Gai herself was initially planned! Things don’t always go to plans of course, zones could be blocked for some reasons, guests couldn’t make it. OK, things happen, I admit.
But then they block up one of the Maglev lines. For as long as I stay on Kepler, I can’t remember a whole line, not just a station, to be blocked up all of a sudden. Maglev trains are the basis of the our transport net, each line comprises at least four ways; without them the net is practically paralyzed. This already hardly is a mishap of the organizers – this is a serious traffic accident. Yet, all news reports give it a mention only in passing. Even the technicians whose chat I’ve hacked, seem to have no clue of what’s up. And today, they are blocking the station next to the hangars – there’s a through-line down there, which means they’re blocking the whole line. Two blocked lines at one Orbital Station! Such things can happen only in case of the Boarians’ attack, and even then, not always.
But the most interesting part began when we’ve resolved to walk all the way to our cabins. I don’t have a slightest doubt Anton knows every corner of the Station, he must have climbed all through it. Yet, as we walked, we kept running into blocked corridors or even whole sectors, which were marked on the map as open. When we were in the café, I’ve peeked at the map of the engineering service – about fifty corridors and sectors were blocked by then, and now it is sixty two already!
I reclined to the back of my armchair. All this is extremely weird.
Too weird, in fact.
I checked the online news report once again – almost not a word about the accidents. Instead, an unschedueled alarm training for Station’s personnel had just been announced; one has to be a complete moron not to see the link between the events. And yet, the puzzle just wouldn’t come together. What may be the reason?
All of a sudden I craved for a coffee. Getting up, I went to the cupboard which Anton and I implied as a dinner table. Waving off fruit flies habitually, I fished out my cup from under the debris of fast-food wrappers and magazines. Wiping it up, I carried it to the kettle. Anton has left no water in it, naturally. No big deal, I can fill it up. As soon as the kettle was filled almost to its brim and I put it to be boiled, someone gave a resounding knock on the door. With a boot, apparently.
- May I come in?
- You are always welcome, Alice. Come in. Is this some new trend – knocking with one’s foot? – I held the door to let her in.
- Not a trend. But you better give your door a good wash…
- Hygiene is a student’s enemy.
To that, Alice only sighed, sending the door a condoled glance. Happen the door to be a living thing, I suppose she would have stroked it. However, happen it to be a living thing, she would have punched us by now for sure. She was clearly doing her best to avoid looking round our room… I wish though she did. We’ve actually spent all day cleaning it up. Stepping with care over the packages with Anjor herbs that were piled by the entrance, Alice went for the table.
- How can you eat this? They feed us pretty well here, don’t they?
- There are things in life which a girl could never understand.
- And if a girl tries to?
- We train ourselves to be real men. At studies like at frontline! – I didn’t feel like telling her that Svetlana devours all my portions. However, it is highly possible Anton eats this stuff exactly for the aforementioned reason.
- Give it up. My advice as a biologist to you.
- This is what you came here for?
- Not this. This. – Alice held out a list to me. – Can you get this for me?
I scanned the list quickly.
- Some of it I could, but La Vosie 415SLX analyzer microscope… Do you have an idea at least of what it is? What do you need it for?
- I need it. – she announced with certainty.
- Oh well, I just don’t know… All this stuff is pretty expensive and exclusive. What do I get in return?
- As usual. – From her breast pocket, Alice produced a small piece of cloth which turned out to contain a bluish translucent stone. – Tooth of a strice from the planet of Malagar.
- Oh well…
- If this is not enough, I’ll throw in something.
Naturally, I accepted the tooth. This is a very valuable stuff, appreciated especially on the Aldebaran.
- I’ll do my best. Are you heading upstairs now?
- Oh, no… I’m off to sleep. – she backed up. – Good night and… you guys better cleaned up here a little…


Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi

«Applied Sciences Higher University for Officers, branch of the Academy of Sciences of the United Army», or simply the United Army’s Academy is one of the most important and influential institutions, founded after peace treaty was concluded between us and the United Planets Organization. Its initial purpose was in exchanging knowledge between the UP and the Loroi Empire. However, given an unexpectedly swift assimilation of cultures and the UP’s growing experience in establishing viable interplanetary services, the Academy had transformed quickly into the supplier of valuable, and highly esteemed, stuff for the United Army. Military geologists, geological prospectors, field biologists, special mission pilots, engineers, genetic researchers and doctors receive their training here. Currently, the Academy includes nine branches situated in the most populated stellar systems. It accepts representatives of nineteen races on a regular basis, plus three more races hold an irregular privilege to send their cadets here. Naturally, since not all of the races are capable of co-existing in the same conditions and of studying in the same rhythm, not more than five races usually study together. “Reshuffling” inside related specialities is common practice here – that was how we came to be transferred here from Saturn.

Our first lecture’s subject came to be: “The theory of heritability forms”.
The audience hall where our studies were held was (just like everything else on the Station) uncustomary spacious and brightly-lit. It was set as an amphitheatre, with twenty tiers for the listeners and a lecturer’s stand in the centre. Cadets were allowed to pick their places in arbitrary order, wherever they wished, so I took my seat next to Alice. Olya sat behind her, and Svetlana sat behind Olya. The guys were not here, they went to a different faculty as it turned out, and specialized in different military profiles.
By now, I am accustomed to many liberties that people allow themselves quite often (not always though), but still, I felt rather… uncomfortable in there. Sleepy cadets who tried hard to appear like they were listening and memorizing. Rhythmical snoring from somewhere upstairs. The lector who isn’t even making an effort to pretend he is reading the subject for the cadets rather than for himself. Of course, some were listening to him, some were taking notes even. But a cadet here was bound to transform into a plain automaton for transferring of sound information into graphic symbols, without giving a moment’s thought for the meaning of the inscribed. My memory capacity allowed me to do without the notes, but still, I made sketches of various schemes and summarized what I considered important. As for Alice, I didn’t see her opening her writing pad, not once, she just laid asprawl on the desk, with her chin propped on her fists. Sure it’s for humans to decide how to teach humans, only there were not solely humans in here.
- And soooo, out of Definition 19 it follows that allele transmission is only a secondary factor, while the primary factor is genic-factor transmission. – the lector was reading loudly, slowly and rhythmically, walking in rhythmic circles around a DNA hologram projection. – Therefore, it is apparent that it is precisely the allele mutations that we see reflected in the phenotype… - here Alice snorted in discontent. Apparently, the definition is not accurate. - …and it is them that serve as a basic instrument of natural selection. Without them, mutational development would be impossible and hence the evolution itself. Do put this down, put this down. Thus, by applying the concepts from paragraph 2, we may conclude that a formation could only be considered a living organism if, for its phenotype transformation, it implies mutations, which are fixed in nuclear acid chains for organic life, and (with help of solvents) in F- and T-acids for phosphoric-boric life. And now…
- The definition is incomplete! – Alice said loudly out of a sudden. The lector scanned the audience grudgingly.
- Who said this?
- Alice Seleznyova. You didn’t mention the issue of heritability in solid media. I’m talking about crystalloid and magnetic forms…
- The theory of solid media heritability is no more than a theory, with no practical proof!
- And how about mielophones?
The lector adjusted his spectacles grudgingly, trying to take a closer look at Alice and after a short pause added, almost disdainfully:
- Add this up. Exception – mielophones. And you, I’d ask you to stay after the lecture.
Murmur rose in the tiers, then all fell quiet again, and the lecture was finished in the same sleepy manner it had begun. When everybody headed for the exit, Alice went down to the stand obediently. Two uniformed officers on duty approached her and insisted she must proceed with them to the administration office. It looks like the lector had turned out to be a vindictive type. I resolved to follow Alice, in order to save her from staying tête-à-tête with the Rector. I know how being summoned to the boss for a reprimand can be and how petty it all may prove. However, instead of taking us to the Rector, they brought us to the Military Commandant. A swarthy man with thick black mustache was sitting behind a writing table in a small office. He was clad in desert-tint uniform, his beret stuffed under one of his colonel’s epaulettes. Next to him several men stood, also in uniforms, but lower in ranks, and next to them a Loroi was standing. Whichever cast may she have belonged to, she clearly was of the highest rank – black-and-red overalls with golden patterns, green-golden hair, golden telepathy-rim across her forehead.
- Which one of you is Alice Seleznyova? – the colonel shouted in a hoarse voice.
- I am.
- And what is the other one doing here? Take her away!
Two officers grabbed me by the arms, but the Loroi stopped them with a gesture. The asked me telepathically about my cast and my skills.
- She may also be of help.
The colonel nodded, and the officers let go of me. I took a step forward and stood next to Alice.
- What are you talking about?..
- The question is, how did you come to know about mielophones?
- My father worked with them. My father is Igor Seleznyov, you must have heard of him!
- I sure have heard of General** Seleznyov, only he is hell of a lot light-miles away and you’re here. You don’t look like a renowned person’s daughter. Why didn’t you mention it in your file?
- I did… - Alice shrugged uncertainly. – I’ve filled in only his name and surname but… I just didn’t wish to draw attention to myself. Besides… I feel more comfortable like that and I may be of use here…
Pulling an angry face, the Commandant mumbled something illegible. Suddenly, the Loroi who stood behind him swiftly moved towards Alice, pressing her palm to Alice’s neck. Alice screamed and nearly collapsed, I caught her on time – this is how they scan one’s memory.
- She believes in what she is saying. My name is Ar Pallan Lienor. – She is from the military caste! – Do you know why bays and train lines here keep being blocked?
We both shook out heads.
- No rumors even? Don’t be worried, no one will accuse you of spreading panic.
Alice only shrugged – she wasn’t interested in following rumors. Ar looked at me, but I had nothing to say either.
- All right then. The reason we are forced to keep blocking the bays is an extremely rapid corrosion. Any surface in that bays becomes covered with crystals of unknown composition in extremely short terms. – I got the idea now why they thought I may be of use, since I’m a practicing geologist. – There’s a single “but” however – the crystal penetrates into any substance really quickly, regardless of the affected substance’s composition. Its choronomic properties at least remain immutable.
- Which means… the crystal has heredity? – Alice asked.
- That’s right. Only any detailed research here is impossible – the crystal reacts with everything it comes in contact with.
**3. A military rank is assigned to eminent science and industry figures in war times.


Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth

Wow… It looks like there’s an unknown life-form at the Station! Completely unknown! It does sound like a myelophone by description, only its local colleague’s metabolism rate is just tremendous. Besides, there are no more than several kilos of all existing mielophones in total, while there are hundreds of tons in here already! Cool! Ar Pallan Lienor (she didn’t bother to give us her name’s translation) said there were no victims among the Station’s population so far, but some of the little beasts that live in air shafts have already become prey to the crystal. Which means it makes no difference to the crystal whether it is carbon fiber-enforced plastic, metal or organic matter. Oh well… How did it get to the Station in the first place? And if the crystal turns into it everything it touches, why do they block non-adjoining bays then? That means, there must be some transmitting agent. Very interesting indeed. I just can’t wait to see it!
Formed promptly by the Commandant into a minor squad, Beryl and I, in a company of three young officers and two rather worn-looking millwrights, set off for a freshly-blocked sector. Ar Pallan Lienor handed in something to Beryl (which reminded strongly of an anti-tank gun), and then saw us off to the lock gate that blocked the sector. Opening heavy gates without help of a special machine was an impossible task, but the millwrights detached smartly one of the ornamental panels next to the gates, which was about a meter by two in dimensions and proved to be covering a way to a narrow auxiliary manhole. As soon as we climbed inside, we instantly found it hard to breathe – the air was so dry and scorching hot that one literally had to force himself to inhale it; one’s lungs just wouldn’t agree to accept it. Having walked for no longer than 500 meters through that hell-of-a-manhole, I found myself perspiring heavily. I tried not to think of how it must feel for Beryl. As we reached the end of the manhole, we were hit by a stream of freezing air. Upon exiting only did we realize the air in there was actually of regular, “room” temperature – the illusion we had at first was just the result of enormous temperature difference. Apparently, that manhole was not designed for a man’s transit through it.
We emerged at the sector’s main street. Some view did it present to us! High above, at about 200 meters distance, fake sky glowed. To our left and right some buildings rose, entertainment centers largely, but some were resident blocks – this sector was designed specifically for those who proved susceptible to hardships of dwelling on the Station or simply felt homesick4. As for the main street itself, with its current lack of usual car traffic and crowds of people, it appeared plain tremendous – around 200 meters wide, with the next lock gate scarcely visible through the mist at about a kilometer’s distance. It was only then when I fully realized how huge the Station actually was! And all that vast space contained now just the seven of us… All of a sudden, one of the squares close to the center of the sky went dark. Next to it, another one followed, then another, and another one… In a matter of twenty seconds, the whole sky died out. Emergency lighting turned on.
- It reached the substation. – a young officer with lieutenant’s epaulettes uttered morosely.
- How far is it from here?
- Not far at all. It still fails me, why did they make you join us?
- Beryl’s here as a geologist, as for me, I guess it’s because I’ve confronted with similar life-forms before.
- Life-forms? Do you seriously consider this mica a living thing?
- Yap. You see…
- Look, over there! – one of the millwrights cried, pointing to the corner of a nearest building. It was covered with a scurf of deep dark-blue color. Which was growing! Growing like hoarfrost, slowly, in a ragged but steady front. We came nearer… The millwrights set up a tripod, on which they mounted some black device that looked like a theodolite or a laser. Having exchanged a few words with them, Beryl rose her weapon. A shot. A fountain of sparkles burst from the wall, and a tiny smoking hole appeared in it, rimmed with crystal which was now pale-blue. Beryl and the millwrights exchanged a few more phrases in their unclear geological slang, made a few adjustments in the black device, then Beryl fired another shot… She made about seven shots in total, each performed in a different manner – some shots fell in the crystal’s way, some on the very border, one time she would press the trigger for a second’s instance, the other time she’d keep it pressed for several seconds. Finally, with seventh’s shot, the gun’s trunk simply became overheated.
It looks like our first date with the crystal is over – we are returning to the adjoining sector. The millwrights took the device with them, leaving the tripod for the crystal to feed upon. It contains a sensor that will provide a live radio report on the manner it will be eaten. We almost reached the manhole when from high above, from the fake sky level, there came a sound. A sound?
The sound of ropes breaking!
Not over a hundred meters distance away, a girder collapsed, breaking into thousands of slivers. The crystal has devoured it, and now a dark-blue blot was spreading around each of the slivers. We must hurry! The deck is obviously to its taste! We rushed for the manhole. The millwrights dived in speedily, while the guys started shooting violently at the crystals. What was the point?! One of the guys screamed and collapsed, scattering all over the floor with blue beads, the other guy came next. So soon?! The remaining three of us jumped into the manhole. We ran to the sectors’ border and tried to lift the plug. Damn! The lock was broken! The guy strained to gush it in place with his shoulder, I rushed to help him, but the shutter was bent, all our efforts were in vain. Some force was now pulling me upwards. I gripped the guy’s hand, our fingers locked, but then his hand slipped! Hell! Something was dragging me on, I tried to set myself free, to grasp at something… A flash – the lieutenant had exploded the hand grenade he had on his belt, and the manhole became blocked with foam. He perished.
Ar… whatever her name was… helped us to climb out of the manhole.


Last edited by Alexandr Koori on Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:07 pm
Profile

Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:20 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Moscow
Post Re: Alice - 2100, crossover fanfic
Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi

As soon as we were out of the sector, Alice and I were urgently escorted to our cabin. We were banned from communicating with anyone or from leaving our cabin. Two soldiers were placed on guard outside the door to our cabin.
We were taken under arrest de facto.
As soon as we found ourselves in our room, Alice went to bed straight away, without removing her clothes even. She is really upset because of the people who perished from the crystal. She blames herself for failing to save that lieutenant. Frankly speaking, Ar Pallan Lienor, with help of telekinesis, could have pulled us all out, only she didn’t. No matter whether she was afraid or just wouldn’t be bothered to do so, she really is the one to blame in what had happened. I tried to explain this to Alice, but she just wouldn’t listen: “Even if it’s so, what kind of biologist I am, what kind of officer?! I couldn’t save them, not even that one, even when I had a chance to! I’m just a worthless looser.” I tried to cheer her up somehow but she only became totally shuttered.
Time was crawling. We sat still, each on her own bed. Alice was staring at the ceiling and I was staring at Alice. I caught myself thinking that I care for her… in a special way, not like I do for the others. Here at the Station, she is my only friend, no one down here is as close to me. And I do care for her feelings. Also, she’s the only one down here who seems to have an idea of what it is all about and of what must be done. Or what could be done, at least.
She must be put back to senses!
There came some commotion from behind our door – some footsteps and voices. Rising from bed, I approached the door. Well. We seem to have visitors, and they wouldn’t be let in. There are several of them, they’ve brought something for us. Shall I take the risk and open the door? The guards most certainly won’t shoot me. OK, I’ll risk it.
- We are expecting them! – I shouted in the guard’s face, not having a slightest idea of who “them” might be. Behind to the guards, I saw two guys who were holding some boxes. They turned out to be Mike and Anton.
- But we have our orders…
- Listen, I was ordered to deliver this to them. – Mike said.
- I’m saying to you once again, no visitors are allowed to the guarded subjects. If you have a pass, then…
- Come in. – I heard Alice say in a low, alienated voice as she appeared behind me. – And you, if you keep placing obstructions to me, I’ll be forced to report this to my father, General Igor Seleznyov.
One of the guards’ jaw dropped.
- Y-y-you mean you, you are the one, THAT Alice Seleznyova, his daughter and co-author? I… I grew up on his books! Joined the space-troopers…
Without saying a word, Alice stepped out, grabbed Mike by the sleeve and pulled him into our cabin. Anton followed. They lowered the boxes to the floor with care.
- Miss Seleznyova, you owe us a story… - Mike looked thoroughly astonished. As for Anton, such a twist of events came obviously as a surprise for him also – he just set off nodding silently like a bobblehead.
- Here I’m just Alice, and that’s all. – the girl retorted in the same alienated voice.
- Do you know how to operate it? Here I have a manual guide…
Mike fished out of his jacket a bulky paperback booklet. He offered it to Alice but she didn’t even look at it. Helping herself to the boxes’ contents, she assembled a certain device that looked like an electronic microscope, switched it on and commenced tapping on the set-up sensors with confidence and speed. When the device was ready for service, Alice inquired, in a more relaxed manner now:
- And so what’s up there, at large?
- Evacuation was announced. All public transport is cancelled, only patrols and army trucks scurry to and fro. They say, soon…
- What are the trucks carrying?
- Incidentally, getting to you past all the patrols appeared like a more urgent task at the moment than gaping at the trucks! I saw just a couple of them, loaded with some regular-looking green boxes.
- They hold explosives. – Anton lowed.
- What an idiot! – Alice screamed.
- Who is?..
- The Commandant. He wants to cut off the affected bays with an explosion and then throw them into the open space. But the burst will only send the crystal to disperse, and it’ll infect the entire stellar system!
- Alice, could you please explain to me, what is going on in here?
Alice told the guys of what she saw and of what happened to us in that sector. Even the soldiers, having abandoned their places, drew nearer to listen.
- Stupéfiant! Nous allons être mangés par la moisissure! Hang on, and why were you there in the first place?
- I’ve seen similar stuff before. A living crystal, known as myelophone.
- Please tell us about it. – My turn now came to be nodding like a bobblehead.
From under her vest, Alice produced a pendant that hung on her neck on a thin metal chain. The pendant presented itself a small odd-shaped pellucid stone, wreathed elaborately with a metal liana. The ornament’s designer had obviously taken great care not to damage the stone.
- Here is a mielophone. Only, this one is just one million years old, it is still a baby.
- And why do you keep carrying it with you? Maybe, it’ll be better off … uhm… if you set it free?
- Where to? To graze? – I couldn’t suppress my sarcasm. It is true, stones can grow for hundreds of millions of years, a lifetime, even as long as a Loroi’s, is nothing but a sand particle to them. Alice smiled, eventually:
- It does graze. Only, upon its own frame. In the six years since I’m carrying it, the frame’s weight had decreased by three milligrams.
- And still…
- But the main point is that with it, I can do this!
Alice positioned herself in the center of the room and extended her hands forward. Without blinking, she commenced staring at the cupboard or to be exact, at her stuff stacked on top of it. I couldn’t understand what she was doing until… Her bag had move! Alice have a mizol! I recall now, she once had mentioned to me that she was capable of things like this, but I always thought that her abilities were great only to compare with those of an average human, in other words, were next to none, but what I can now see… This compares to what our weakest caste (weaker even than my own) can do, but still, this is compares to Loroi! Compares to us! Unable believe my eyes, I asked Alice telepathically of what else she could do, and I received a clearly formulated telepathic answer that it was not just her, it was her in tandem with mielophone. And that their joint power, with “conjuries” like this, won’t last for long. Improbable… Back there in the jungle, I had sensed there was a certain kinship between us, only I ignored that feeling then…
Alice…


Anton, trainee army engineer, a Human

There we are then.
I sure have suspected some weird stuff to be happening here, but gosh what I’ve seen now, what I’ve found out! Alice, as it turns out, can do this… what d’you call it… telekypesis. And telemathy, too.
Cool!
The soldiers were also pretty knocked out only they tried not to show it. So did I, am I slow or something? It’s only Mike who doesn’t care a damn, I do. Even the bat-eared chick was damn well impressed, even had to land on her bed for a moment, but she recovered pretty quickly. But still, she kept ogling Alice after that. But this is not the point.
The point is that the Commandant aims to save the Station from that shite. What shite – I didn’t quite get. What I did get is that: if you happen to touch it, you’re finished. A reasonable decision then, ain’t it? But the thing is that he wants to blow it up, but blowing it up is out of question – the slivers will thus spread all over, and they’ll either kill everyone or poison everything – this I didn’t quite get. Out of question, in a word. And then the circus began.
Alice spotted some blue stuff upon the bat-eared chick’s boot and she goes like “Here it is”. The bat-eared chick then jumps up on her bed, peels the boot off and hurls it at me. I catch it for sure, am I slow or something? Mike squalls, everybody squalls “Throw! Throw!” So I threw it. To him. He pitched it to somebody else. By then, Alice was giggling like crazy. So when the boot returned to me, I sent it to her.
- Alice, throw!
- C’mon, stop it already! If it were dangerous, Beryl would’ve been dead by now!
I didn’t get then what she was talking about. Alice scraped off some blue pebbles from the boot, then threw it to the bat-eared chick. That one probed it with her finger suspiciously, then inspected it all over. Oh, I now get it! She thought that shite on her boot was dangerous, and when she hurled it, she wasn’t aiming at me, but at the corner! Heh, pretty funny it all came out.
- But why is it…
- Because you’ve killed it. Look, it is pale-blue and nearly translucent. – Alice rolled the pebbles between her palms. – Hold on… – she stuffed them into that thing that Mike and I had brought them earlier. Putting her boot back on, the bat-eared chick moved in closer. So we all did, curious what the display would show. But all we saw was rows of some illegible figures – some boring apparatus it was! Then Alice and the bat-eared chick engaged into a vivid discussion, started asking the soldiers questions. I sure listened too, am I slow or something?
It looks like they are set to pay another visit to that shite. Thanks a lot, here I sure ain’t gonna keep them company.


Mike, trainee genetic researcher, a Human

- This is your plan, are you serious?! – I could hardly believe my ears.
- You have any better ideas?
- Oh, well…
- The idea is pretty simple – Alice started with her explanations all over again, taking me for Anton apparently. – The crystal, however exotic it may appear here, is a living thing, therefore it has heredity. But since it consists of one single matter, it’s whole life is spent not in the form of substance but in the undular form. Having detected its hereditary frequency, wasn’t it you yourself who helped us to pick another one, which will prove to the crystal not simply a poison but a true virus? By sending this frequency to the crystal at one single point, we’ll kill it all over the entire Station!
- Sounds logical. – Beryl the Loroi nodded.
- Well done, why don’t you two then go to the Commandant and tell him all this? Let him send some soldiers or robots for the mission. What’s the real need for you to get involved personally?
- He won’t listen to us. – Alice waved me off.
- And still, all this is pretty risky. What if the crystal reaches the casing and after you’ve killed it, depressurization occurs?
Alice sighed.
- Mike, you’re a researcher, and your profile is genetics. And we are field biologists and this, I’d like you to know it, is our job. Robots are not instantly available, and the final countdown starts not in a matter of hours but minutes possibly. You know yourself that we must hurry. – Alice turned to the guards. Beryl the Loroi whispered something to them and took their power rifles. – Thank you for guarding us, but when Mike has finished, please go away.
- But we have our orders…
- Go. Do take care of yourselves and of them, deliver them safely to the evacuation point.
Beryl approached me and offered one of the power rifles to me.
- Remove upper plate off the body: pull it forward until you hear a click, then upwards and backward. There you’ll see a fire control scheme. Re-program it to the required frequency and I’ll take care of the spare one.


Alice, (trainee) biologist, a girl from Earth

With rifles upon our shoulders, Beryl and I ran in the direction of the observation deck. The idea was that it might be the shortcut to the bays that had already been affected. We reached the deck and… Ha! How could I forget it?! There is first-aid bay nearby! A fully equipped and serviceable ambulance van stood on the deck. It looks like the evacuation proceeded in a great hurry, since the van’s doors stood ajar, some super-expensive medical equipment lay on the floor unguarded. What should we do now, follow Mike’s advice? Having detected, via car radio, the Commandant’s current whereabouts, we flung our weapons inside the car and drove off to see him.
I was at the wheel – I’m not an ace driver but I can drive somehow. Only, what an unmanageable thing this van is! I tried to drive fast but still keep an eye on the surroundings. In a matter of a few hours, the Station had gone through a radical change – vacant streets and corridors, abandoned cars and robots… Only military patrols around. Damn this van! I can see now why they place such tough requirements for becoming an ambulance driver – by the time we’ve reached the Commandant the car was quite a wreck. Thanks to me, all right. It’s a wonder we haven’t been halted. When we approached the Commandant, no one paid us any attention. I honestly attempted to talk to him but he only howled at me, ordering us to get lost… in the evacuation point. And that was it. When I tried to hand in the papers to him, he grabbed me by the arm, pulling me towards the porthole. When Beryl attempted to step in to protect me, Ar Pallan Lienor nearly hit her! Now, who do they think they…
Through the porthole, I could see the inner diameter of the Station. It was all sparkly with a tremendous dark-blue cobweb, from its top to its bottom…
- Take a look at this. The Station is finished.
- But I can do it, I’ve managed to get the formula…
- So have we. It’ll get us nowhere.
- It will work! And if you fire an explosion, you’ll only scatter the slivers! The whole stellar system will become unfit for living! Why don’t you understand, the crystal can be ruined with resonance, with harmonic oscillations.
The Commandant let go off my arm.
- Leave.
Like Hell I will! Even if he’s given up, I haven’t! And even if I fail to stop the crystal, I’ll at least see his reaction. Still better than nothing.
Beryl and I climbed back to our ambulance car.
- What was there?
- It’s eating the casing already. Are you sure? – I glanced at Beryl. She is aware of course that in case we failed, or even in case we succeeded, there’s a big chance we both may not survive. Beryl gave me a nod in reply.
I ran my palm across the ignition sensor lightly. Beneath us, from under the seats, the electric motor set on humming. Am I shaking or is this the car? This damn adrenaline. I waited for the lock gates to open to let in yet another truck, and then drowned the accelerator pedal. The van sped off with a lurch, pushing its way through the debris of empty boxes. Someone set off fire at us – bullets and rays stitched van’s roof. I turned out the wheel sharply. Gosh, where there’s a center of gravity in this car, on the roof?! I turned the wheel back – the car landed on all of its six wheels and set off drifting. Demolishing our side view mirror, a truck flashed past. Scarcely evading the truck that followed and turning around the corner, our van went for a straight road – they can’t stop us now!
Here we are again – amid this abandoned, unstirring, man-made hollowness… Kilometers of steel hollowness. I have no idea how many bays we’ve crossed – we drove for ten minutes at least, when we sensed a slight lightness appearing in our limbs at first and then there came a clearly impending weightlessness. That was it, the Station’s artificial gravity system was dying off. I stopped the car (driving on was impossible – the van just would have floated up), and we both not just stepped out but rather fluttered out of the car, and slowly, taking care to control each step we made, we proceeded on foot. Beryl cocked her power rifle – it is the shot that will send the sufficient energy, and the hurriedly-assembled circuit design – the required wave frequency. It suddenly occurred to me that we could easily do with one of the street-cleaning robots which we saw abandoned by the roadside... I could’ve fixed the rifles to it. Too late by now… We looked round. All the walls, all the casing visible to us were dark-blue already. What if the casing breaks, and we become dragged out into open space?.. I’m scared. As if by its own will, my rifle slipped off my shoulder, and I removed the safety lock. Having wished good luck to each other, Beryl and I aimed and pulled the triggers.


Beryl, trainee biologist, a loroi

Two days later we were summoned to the office of the Military Commandant.
Exhausted visibly by the recent happenings, he greeted us rather languidly. Alice says he will be seeing us in his nightmares now. What gave her such an idea? There were several more important persons present in the office – the Rector, the police chief, one of the Station Captain’s assistants, several races’ ambassadors. Several Loroi were present there as well, some of them from our Army, some from the United Army. Ar Pallan Lienor stepped forward.
- Now, Alice Igorevna Seleznyova, Listel Tolzet Eilis – high command have resolved you must be commended for your bravery. Your actions were… risky but in the end they’ve proved to be correct. In the presence of official guests I entrust you with this – she picked up from the Commandant’s desk two small boxes with small metal badges. - Such a form of rewards is not in our tradition, but with Earthlings and some other races it is rather popular. - We saluted her duly.
- Any questions remaining?
- Yes. – Alice approached her. – Could you tell me this please. We’ve managed to find the way to ruin the crystal, only it escapes me how it was able to migrate. According to my calculations, it could be lodged inside a magnetic field, or in a thick sealed capsule, in order to be able to appear in compartments which were not linked to each other. But the Station offered no such chances to it!
- You’re right. I suppose, you have a right to know.
She went to the adjoining room and returned from it, carrying an object reminding somewhat of a kerosene lamp. They are pretty much the same on all planets.
- This is where the crystal lived.
- Was it someone’s pet?
- Unfortunately, not. We’ve found around a dozen of those and it is not known how many of them had been occluded.
- You mean… Someone have done it on purpose?
- Yes, it was an act of sabotage. And it was your first collision with our common enemy – the Boarians. You may count it as your first combat experience. The saboteurs are already captured, you may relax here. Incidentally, not to the honor of your race, they’ve turned out to be Earthlings. Well, and the course of your actions will now be fixed in all instructions and techniques – similar attacks may recur.
The Boarians’ attack, traitors. What motivated those who’d thrown in the crystal? For the Boarians never take prisoners, never enslave – they only destroy.
I don’t understand.
In a space war, there’s no frontline or rear, in space you are always at a gun-point. I was born at this war, my civilization was born at this war, and I know that since I was born I was doomed to perish at this war. And though I surely am scared, I still don’t understand…
We were about to leave when the Commandant called after us.
- Hold on. I must bring you my apologies.
- No big deal, things happen… - Alice grinned at him, deliberately nursing her arm that was nearly dislocated by the Commandant earlier.
- As soon as we’ve realized that we were dealing with a living stone, we sent an urgent request to you father. The carrier ship with the message from him had arrived only a day ago, and in his reply, there were listed exactly the same measures you’ve taken. Even the frequencies he named were exactly the same – 87, 87.2 and 87.35 Hz.
- Did you already know the composition then?
- No! We sent the ship on the first day of the attack.
- Then I don’t understand… How could he figure it out?
- Elementary, Beryl. – Alice retorted with a proud smile. – It’s just that my father is a genius!

The end.

Alexandr Koori
Translated by Tanya A.


Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:07 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 3 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Absalom and 6 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF.