Mars Wings: Friday Flash Fiction Post

mars-mro-orbiter-fresh-crater-sirenum-fossae-br2  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

I’ve been watching the Smithsonian channel show, Mars. A mix of television show and documentary. It’s really getting me as excited about the space program again as I was when I was a kid, racing home from school to watch space launches. The following story is just a brief foray into space once again. And yes, there are echoes of Heinlein in there.


I waited at the gate. The first families with children were arriving from Earth. Would they look different somehow? In class, we’d been told about how different it would be for them. They wouldn’t be able to go outside without a suit. They wouldn’t automatically know all the safety rules. They may become claustrophobic living inside the tunnels. They’d be stronger, having grown up in a heavier gravity.

All in all, I wondered if their parents had a clue. What were they thinking?

The alarm sounded, the light over the door began to flash, and the pressure lock opened. They came down the ramp in family groups their duffels banging against their legs. Parents and children looked around, wide-eyed. Their faces showed fear, then after they realized they could breathe, curiosity, at the tunnel, plants lining the walls, the crowd waiting for them.

I waited as each family’s sponsor was called as they hit the bottom of the ramp. My name was called when the eighth family appeared. I moved through the crowd of Martians and stopped at the registration table. The guy at the table was taking their names. The Korian family, Dad, David, Mom, Idai, Daughter, Ali, Son, Zane, I overheard. The registrar looked up. “Hey, Helga. The Korian family is going to berth 23, tunnel 4.” He handed David a set of key cards. “Your keys. One for each of you. Lose a card, it will be fifty credits to buy a new one.” David nodded while Idai, Ali and Zane stared at me. “Helga will guide you to your new quarters. She’s your sponsor. You need to ask questions, call her. She’ll give you her comm.”

“Thank you.” David told the registrar. He turned to me. “Lead on, Miss.”

“Later, Pavel.” I waved to the registrar. He was a neighbor in my family’s tunnel.

He gave me a wave and looked at the next family.

“This way.” I turned and left, moving through the thinning crowd. The Korian’s followed. David moved up beside me. “How old are you?”

I knew that was coming. We’d been briefed on the culture. “I’m twelve. I’m tall for my age compared to Earth normal. The lower gravity allows us to grow taller.”

Idai nodded. “I’d read that. You’re the same age as Ali.”

I took a quick look at Ali. She had to be a head shorter than me. “Nice to meet you.”

“Um, not to be rude, but you’re our sponsor? Not your parents?” David asked, a look of disbelief on his face.

“Yep. I’m your sponsor. I know everything you need to know. I was born here. It’s all automatic for me. My parents have their own people to sponsor.”

“I see.”

His tone of voice said he didn’t.

“You’ll find that kids here have a lot of responsibility. There aren’t a lot of us. So, everyone, even kids, have duties to perform. This is one of mine. I’m also the garden supervisor in my tunnel.”

“Garden supervisor?” Ali looked curious.

“Yes. I’m responsible for collecting any compostables from each berth, getting it to the garden compost pile, and setting up the work schedules.”

Zane spoke. “Will we get jobs?”

“Eventually. Not when you’re newbs. You don’t know enough yet.”

David was having a bit of trouble with the plan. “I don’t mean to criticize but you’re only twelve. I’m a research biologist. Why would I take orders from a twelve-year-old?”

I sighed as I guided them left into tunnel two. “Because I know how things work here and you don’t. I don’t mean to be rude but you just got off the boat. You don’t know the emergency procedures. You don’t know where anything is. You need to become acclimated.”

“We took all the classes,” Ali said.

“That’s good. You’ll need that information.” I turned to look at her. “First thing you do when you get to your berth is watch the newcomer vid. That’s critical. It will tell you your assembly point in case of a problem. It will give you your passwords and set up your accounts. You can’t do anything or go anywhere until that is done because none of the pressure doors will open for you.”

“I know that,” Zane said. His voice reflected his father’s. Probably thought a fifteen-year-old boy shouldn’t have to listen to a twelve-year-old girl.

“Good.” We turned right into tunnel 3. “School is on your own vid. There’s a vid in every room so there won’t be any problems getting your classwork.” I looked at the parents. “Or your work assignments. David. I know you’ll be working in the labs. You can download the maps to the warren and the locations of where you want to go, from there.”

I turned right again into tunnel 4. “This tunnel is new, made to accommodate the new colonists from your ship. I stopped halfway down the tunnel in front of the door with a big, red, 23 stenciled on it. “Your new home.

David stepped forward and pressed the card to the lock. The door opened.

“It’s a pressure lock.” Idai studied the door with some surprise.

“Nearly every door is.” I motioned them to go in. “My comm code is on your introductory vid. Comm units for each of you are on the kitchen table. I’ll let you get settled.” I backed away from the door.

Idai raised her hand. “Wait! What about…?”

“Watch the vid then call me. I’ll come back and you can ask your questions.” I left. They had to learn how to think for themselves. Odds were one of the four of them would make a fatal mistake in the first seven days. I hoped it wasn’t Ari. She seemed nice.





Thank You!

956 Words

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Trapped in Nowhere: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Space Freighter

Space Freighter

This story is based on one I wrote in January 2015. See “Escape”.

“I’m sorry! The frackin’ console was exploding and the Orion was gaining. There must have been a malfunction.” Pete Ostrander slammed the lid of the console down. Smoke and scorch marks marred the edges and around the buttons.

Captain Jan A’Mungo pulled her afro down, pulled all the loose hair back and tied it up with an elastic. She was sick of the tendrils falling into her eyes.

“Not his fault, Jan.” Jack Ender entered the bridge. “The cargo’s secured. That last jump was a doosey but everything is in good shape. The Orion had us in a corner.”

Jan’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t try and sweet talk me Jack. That was FUBAR and you know it.”

“Come on, Jan. This is a rust bucket and we were up against a state of the art Galactic patrol vessel. We’re lucky we came out the other side.” Pete gently touched a button and winced. The monitor he wanted came on without exploding. He released his breath.

“Report.” Jan tugged her tunic down and got back into the command chair. “Where are we?”

Pete tapped the buttons on his console. Screen after screen came up and went. He scratched his chin and the week old beard. “Um, nowhere.”

Both of the others turned to stare at him.

“Well, of course we’re somewhere.” He shrugged. “I just don’t know where that is.”

Jan gripped the armrests on her chair and took a deep breath. She counted to ten. Then she turned to her husband. “Please explain.”

“I tapped in the coords for Epsilon 4. But the console was sparking all over the place what with Ho blasting us to crap. So now, here we are.” Pete rubbed an ear. “If I get lucky, I can figure out what was damaged and trace us back.”

“Into Captain Ho?” Jack ran a hand through his cropped black hair.

Pete shook his head. “I don’t think so. He’s probably long gone. We left in a hurry and he probably didn’t have time to calculate our jump.”

“Apparently neither did we.” Jan’s eyes narrowed again at her husband. “You can get us back?” She watched as her husband pressed a finger to the spot between his eyes. She knew from experience he was about to tell a tale.

“Um. Sure. We can get back.”

Jack rolled his eyes. “I’ll check our inventory.” He got up and left the bridge.

Jan waited until Jack was gone. Pete was fussing with his console. “You don’t have a clue. Do you?”

He ran the heel of his hand across his cheek. “Well, no. But I will. Really.”

Jan got up and put a hand on his shoulder, her cheek next to his. “I believe you. Get it done.”

He gave her that lopsided grin that had attracted her to him in the first place. “Sure, Captain. I’ll get right on it.”

She cuffed him, gently, in the head. “Good. I’m gonna take a nap. Call me when you have something.”


Eight hours later, showered and with a food pack in hand, she re-entered the bridge. Pete had the lid of the console up. Jack was missing. “How’s it going?”

“Jack went to bed about 4 hours ago.” He shut the lid of the console. His blond hair stood up in every direction and his eyes had dark circles under them. “I think I have it.”

She sat in her command chair and popped the top on the food. The smell of beef stew filled the bridge. “What do you have?” Jan spooned a mouthful and waited.

“Well.” Pete rubbed his eyes. “I traced the jump record back to the attack. The last fifteen seconds before the jump I can see where there’s a power surge in the jump circuits.” He arched his back and stretched his neck back. “Anyway. I think I know where the surge sent us. If so, we have a new, uncharted jump point.” He arched an eyebrow.

Jan blinked, the stew forgotten in her hand. “A new jump point. One the Galactic Patrol doesn’t know about.”

Pete grinned. “If we can get back.”

Jan’s hand covered her mouth, eyes wide. “Our own, secret, jump point.” She dropped her hand and grinned. “Can you get us back?”

“I think so.”

“Make your notes and go get some sleep. We’ll do this when you’re rested.”


Eight hours later, they were all in their seats on the bridge, strapped in and ready. “Proceed when ready.” Jan nodded and smiled at her husband.

He turned to his console. She could see his shoulders rise and fall with a deep breath. “Commencing jump sequence.”

“Jump sequence commencing. Proceed.” Jan gripped the arms of her command chair. She didn’t know if they were going to make it back to known space or leap out farther into uncharted space.

Jack as usual, joked. “Saddle up boys and girls. It’ll be a ride.”

Jan rolled her eyes just as Pete hit the button. The ship shook as space blurred and time seemed to slow to a crawl. It felt like forever between breaths. After what seemed like an eternity, they popped out into real space. The stars aligned.

Pete studied the monitors closely then turned his chair to face the rest. “We made it. We’re just outside of Talia system.”

Jack whooped, unbuckling and leaping out of his seat to embrace Pete. “I knew you could do it!”

Jan winked at her husband. “Better mark the spot. We’re gonna want to know these coords.”

Pete gave her a mock salute. “Yes, ma’am. Right away, ma’am.”

“Prepare to jump to Onyms system. We have a cargo of weapons to deliver.”

Jack bowed to her. “Yes, oh great queen of the spaceways. We hear and obey.”

She snorted. “You’d better.”

They all laughed and got to work. The rebellion had a new weapon. A secret jump point. Jan grinned. This might even get them some parts and repairs.

Thank You!

993 Words

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Glowing Voyager: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Heavenly Light by GreyGhost - STOCK via

Heavenly Light by GreyGhost – STOCK via

Stardate 35198.666

Planet Hydra Operations Center



Reports of a glowing voyager traveling on beams of light have been reported throughout the colony. Scientists are interviewing witnesses. Voyager appears to be humanoid. Efforts are underway to find and interview the voyager. Working theory is that the voyager is from another planet and is studying Hydra.



Stardate 35200.618

Planet Hydra Operations Center



Colony scientists have met the glowing voyager. Readings indicate the voyager himself is human. Scientists are recalibrating their equipment suspecting a malfunction. Voyager spoke Standard and no radiation was detected. After a short conversation where they exchanged names, he called himself, Mikhael, he disappeared in a beam of light. No source was detected for the beams. Scientists are scanning for a ship or satellite but as of this report, none have been detected. The voyager seems to appear randomly. Colony leadership does not believe this voyager is a threat but colonists have been cautioned not to reveal colony security measures.



Stardate 35203.532

Planet Hydra Operations Center



The voyager calling himself Mikhael has appeared before Colonel Owusu. The appearance was in the Colonel’s office so full recordings of the visit are available and being attached to this report. Mikhael offered protection but did not indicate what threat was imminent, if any. Still no source for the beams of light have been discovered but Mikhael has declared that he can bring light to the colony. Linguists are studying the recordings for hidden or alternate meanings.



Stardate 35206.351

Planet Hydra Operations Center



The glowing voyager has been communicating with the colonists. Reports indicate that Mikhael is promising deliverance and pardon but without indicating what threat endangers the colony. Colonists are divided in opinion of the visitor between following him or being frightened. There is still a portion of the colonists who have not personally seen the voyager but they are forming opinions based on hearsay. Colonel Owusu has released a communication to all colonists to remain calm. No threats from space or from the planet have been detected. Scans of the voyager with recalibrated equipment still indicate that the voyager is human. No source for the beams of light Mikhael travels in has been found.



Stardate 35231.320

Planet Hydra Operations Center



Over the past ten days, the colonists have begun traveling to the glowing voyager whenever he appears. The being talks to the colonists of restoration and pardon, implying their behavior have been harmful to others. Colony productivity has fallen by eighteen percent as colonists leave their work to go listen to Mikhael. The voyager has begun appearing in the same place every day, contributing to the fall in productivity. Colonists who are not followers are calling for the alien to be captured and questioned. Security has concluded that until we can establish where those beams of light come from, there is no way to secure the voyager.



Stardate 35232.675

Planet Hydra Operations Center



During this morning’s appearance, Mikhael announced that another is coming and for the colonists to prepare. Mikhaelists, as the followers have been called, have begun festival preparations. Work throughout the colony has ceased except for essential services. Colonel Owusu has declared a state of emergency, but colonists following the glowing voyager refuse to remain in their homes. Those colonists are building a shrine to welcome the announced visitor. Security officers have joined the Mikhaelists and the force is down by fifty-three percent. At present, there are no confrontations, simply civil disobedience. Colony leadership plans to have security on location when the new alien arrives.



Stardate 35234.841

Planet Hydra Operations Center



At 35234.677, planetary dawn, Mikhael arrived and greeted the Mikhaelists gathered. The new visitor arrived, also in a beam of light and remaining security forces surrounded the platform built to welcome the new arrival. Scientists performed scans and received similar results as from scans of Mikhael. The new arrival greeted the colonists and called himself Iam and promised peace and liberation if they followed him. Colonel Owuso believes the threat to be alien occupation of the colony. Colony leadership requests advice on how to proceed.



The End

683 Words

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Colony Princess: Flash Fiction Friday Story

1308160316_phoenix_by_o_eternal_o-d242bq2 via

1308160316_phoenix_by_o_eternal_o-d242bq2 via

Rose Apfel gazed out over the colony from her fourth-story apartment balcony window. “You can do it,” her father, King Stone Apfel had told her. “It’s the best, least dangerous planet our people have ever found. The top predator is a half-inch spider. It isn’t even toxic.”

So she had agreed. The ship arrived five years ago with four hundred colonists. Those were the prep team. They built housing and labs and civic buildings and parks and squares and farms. A year later came the second wave, scientists and mathematicians, astronomers and some entertainment crafts. In the third year came teachers and entrepreneurs, musicians, artists and craftsmen. Those were busy, glorious years full of thoughts of the future.

Then last year came the dragons. They flew overhead eating the stock, burning the apartments, houses, stores and civic buildings. Oh, they ate the native animal life, large, bovine and lizard-like creatures all of whom were vegetarian. But they relished the imported livestock. The price of meat, dairy and leather skyrocketed. The price of grain and vegetables rose through the roof. Rose sighed. A year of predation and now, she had to make some very hard choices. A gong sounded. Time to go down to her cabinet meeting.

Seated at the head of the table, Rose listened to a long list of problems. Worst was the loss of communications. The dragons had burned the communications towers for the fifth time in a year. They just couldn’t get word through to her father on their home planet. She drummed her fingers on the highly polished wooden table. “Two things.” She looked around the table. “I can see that everyone is working as hard as they can.”

The tiny complement cheered the glum group staring back at her. “Unfortunately that is not enough. We need to work smarter. No one has yet determined where these dragons have come from and why they’re here now. I want one captured and studied.”

Every man and woman slumped in their seat. “Second. We implement rationing immediately. Palace residents, included.” Her prime minister paled. His girth displayed his love of banquets.

A week later, word was sent that they had captured a dragon. She went immediately to the science labs, re-built underground after the above ground buildings were destroyed shortly after the dragons emerged. The dragon was in a fire-proof transparent walled cage. Her breath caught in her throat at her first sight of it. Emerald green scales glittered with silver highlights on the edges. Rose tinted the dragon’s spine from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. “It’s beautiful!”

“Indeed, Princess.” The lead scientist, River Aspen, stood, hands behind his back in front of the cage. “We rendered the beast unconscious, My Lady, and drew blood and other fluids. The test results are that the creature’s biology is consistent with that of this planet. What we cannot know at this point, is why in the fifteen years between the initial study of the planet and our settlement, that these creatures were never discovered.”

Rose nodded. That was the main question. “Some sort of cyclical life-cycle?”

“That is the only explanation, Princess.” Scientist Aspen turned at a movement of the dragon. “Ah. This is why we called you. The dragon is awaking.”

“You used fireproof glass?” Rose eyed the cage enclosure as the dragon stirred.

“Oh, yes, Princess. And triple strength walls.”

Reassured, the Princess watched as the roomful of scientists monitored the screens showing the dragon’s heart rate and other medical or biological functions. A speaker system let them hear the dragon as it woke from the sedatives. It opened its eyes after rumbles, mumbles and snorts, scrambling to its feet and falling against the walls. It chirruped and growled, shaking its head.

“Its trying to clear the sedative fog,” Rose said.

“Typical behavior, Princess, for any creature after sedation.”

Gaining strength, it roared at the scientists and tried to blow flame but coughed instead. It seemed to glare at them then proceeded to investigate every inch of the cell. It came back to the window and roared again.

The princess walked to the window and gazed at the creature. It bent its head down and looked back at her with golden eyes. “Scientist Aspen, do you have a translator installed in the creature’s cell?”

The scientist’s mouth dropped open. “Why, no, Princess. It’s an animal.”

She put her hand up to the glass. The dragon did the same, it’s huge clawed foot dwarfing her hand on the other side of the glass. “So are we. Set it up immediately.”

While the scientists worked on setting up the translator, Rose took her mid-day tea in a chair in front of the cage. Water and a small raw roast were placed in the cage and the dragon ate with her.

Aspen hurried to her when her tea was finished. “It’s installed, Princess.”

She stood up and faced the cage. She bowed. “Dragon. I’m Princess Rose Apfel, leader of this colony we call Gamilios. What is your name?”

The dragon chirruped, hissed and growled. “The translator is working on the language, Princess.”

“Our months are Wasardi, Hori, Shami, Tre, Kaloc, Arac, Hekani, Areg, Kani, Mareri, Margac and Hrotic. We count zero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten and we use a base ten for our mathematics. We eat meat as well as vegetables and grain. We come from a planet many light years away. We call this sun Shahova and this planet, Ardes.”

She could hear the speaker within the cage hissing and chirruping. The dragon spoke, “I’m Beroan, mother of Nesenth, who are you?”

The Princess curtsied. “I’m Princess Rose, leader of this colony. I think we have much to talk about, Beroan.”

A year later, they held a joint celebration of the birth of cooperation between two cultures. The Gamilosians raised enough food for the dragons, and the dragons could visit the stars.


The End

995 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Never Again

Food Bar by Connie Cockrell

Food Bar by Connie Cockrell

Fergus Boylan woke and checked the readout in front of him. A groan escaped his lips. It was day 13 of his forced confinement. All systems indicators read nominal in the life pod but there was still no ship within reach–yet.

He rose and in the tiny personal unit took care of his bodily needs and washed his face and hands. In the two square meter area in the center of the pod he did the recommended exercises to keep up his strength. Not normally an exercise fanatic, he did them because there simply wasn’t much else to occupy his time. Wiping down after the exercises took another ten minutes.

Fergus sat in the chair in front of the food dispenser and sighed. This was the worst part of the day for a young man who looked forward to meal time. His stomach growled so he pushed the button. The dispenser spat out a food bar. Textured yeast protein–that’s what the manual said it was. Gray and without scent, it was the least appetizing food possible. It tasted worse. Fergus took a bite and wondered how the bar could be both crumbly and hard to chew at the same time. He punched the button on the dispenser and a water bulb rolled out of the opening. He admired the packaging as he pushed the spot on the bulb that caused a short straw to emerge. The entire bulb was made of hydrogen and oxygen, the same as the water it held, but solid.

He sipped to wash the food bar down. Too bad the engineers couldn’t come up with a tastier food bar, he groused to himself. The food was so awful he’d stopped eating three times a day. It wasn’t worth it. Already his ship suit was looser.

As he chewed he studied the screens in front of him. After all this time in the life pod, after the skeletal space station he was apprentice project manager on, exploded, he’d read the entire pod manual from cover to cover, twice. Because he’d stopped eating the mid-day meal, he saw that he had extended his food reserves by two weeks. He didn’t think he could eat those textured yeast protein bars for another two weeks. Matter of fact, he didn’t think he could face another one today. He checked the long range scans. Please let there be a ship out there. But it wasn’t so. He turned off that screen and brought up a picture of a sea shore and turned up the sound of waves washing up on the beach. He pulled up the manual and began to study the pod’s structure. It was something to do.

Two days later he started out of bed at an alarm. Tangled in the blanket, he rolled out of the bed and staggered to the console. Was the ship on fire? Had a meteor hit the pod? He clicked through the screens in rapid succession. No, no, no, the ship was fine. Then he clicked on the long range scan. There was a ship! Oh hallelujah, a ship! He checked his distress signal. It was broadcasting properly, they were just far away.

Fergus clicked the link to transmit. “Hello, unidentified ship, this is the life pod Argosy. Fergus Boylan requesting rescue.”

He waited, fingers drumming on the console top. “Ship, this is the life pod Argosy, requesting assistance.” He chewed his lower lip. After fifteen days in the pod alone, he was ready to talk to anyone. Fergus pushed the dispenser button for water and drank the entire bulb. When he crumpled up the empty, it evaporated into the air to be recycled in the pod’s system.

Static came over the speakers, then faint and full of static, “Argosy, this is the freighter, Star Chaser. We are coming to fetch you. Stand by.”

Fergus whooped and danced around the tiny pod. Back at the console he transmitted again. “Star Chaser this is Argosy. Standing by.” If he never saw a textured yeast protein bar again it would be too soon.

He paced around the pod. There wasn’t anything to pack—he’d raced to the pod ahead of the fire with nothing but the ship suit on his back. It took five hours for the Star Chaser to bring the life pod on board. As soon as the hatch opened, Fergus hugged the young crewman outside the door. “Do you have something to eat? I’m starving.”


The End

730 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday Post: Warrior Defeat

UNSC Army Soldier by Lordhayabusa357 via

UNSC Army Soldier by Lordhayabusa357 via

Ensign Zara Slater took off her helmet and wiped the sweat. Three days she’d been in her stinking battle armor but it didn’t look like she was going to get relief anytime soon.

“What do you see?” Corporal Masi Waters checked his weapons belt, counting the number of HE bombs, gas grenades, and smoke bombs he had left.

She slid down the rock they were sheltering behind to sit beside him. “Bomb craters everywhere. You could hide a battalion out there and we’d never see them.”



The corporal checked the charge on his laser rifle. “You got anything left to eat?”

She coughed. The smoke rising from the blasted landscape was scraping her throat raw. So much for fresh air. “No. I split the last food bar I had with you yesterday.” Zara sipped from the nipple coming up out of the collar of her armor. The suit captured her sweat, distilled it and stored it around her body until she drank. It tasted flat and warm but it at least wet her dry mouth.

“We have to get back to the cruiser. The Captain sent us out to recon, at least one of us needs to get back with the info.”

“What for?” Masi rubbed an eye. Neither of them had slept in twenty-four hours.

“Because that’s what we do.” On board the ship there would be no talk of “what for” but out here, separated from the rest of their command, things didn’t look all that good. “We’re fighting for our rights, you know that. To keep people safe.”

He snorted. “Safe? Tell that to the people who used to live here. We bombed the crap out of this planet because someone told someone else who then issued orders to wipe the place out because the Mords were supposed to be here.”

“Well,” she said, the tired seeping up through her bones. “They are here. In numbers.”

“Fine.” He jammed his helmet back on his head and seated it. “Let’s get on with it then.”

She sighed and put her helmet on. As soon as she sealed it, the displays reconnected and a series of status updates appeared on the inside of her visor. Ambient temperature, wind direction, humidity, appeared in the upper right corner of the screen. She clicked the infrared and red hot spots showed in the area all around her and the corporal. Mord soldiers, a lot of them. Another click and she pulled satellite information for the area. Her battle cruiser was five clicks in front of them. Symbology on the map told her where the Mord concentrations were. There didn’t seem to be any way through to the ship.

“Sending you the overhead.” Zara clicked once more.

“Got it.” After a moment, “Crap. How the hell are we going to get through?”

“I was hoping you’d see something I missed.” She studied the map. “If we go left, there seems to be an open area, no heat signatures. That would put us a klick closer and maybe something will open up by the time we get there.”

She could hear a sigh over the comms. “Yeah, why not.”

Zara crept out from behind the rock and moved with as much stealth as possible. The battle armor was coated with stealth materials but that didn’t stop a pair of eyes from seeing her. They were both breathing hard when they dropped behind the broken wall of some building still smoking.

“Is it worth it?”

“What,” Zara answered.

“This info. If they don’t know the Mords are here they don’t deserve to be in command.”

She was too tired for this. “It’s all I’ve got.”

Another look at the map and she thought she saw a way through. She shared the updated map. To the east, it looks like the Mord are maneuvering.”

“I don’t see anything on the map that looks like our forces. Maybe they’re getting ready to attack the cruiser.”

Zara wished she could call them but the Mord would pick up the transmission and use it to find them. “They must see this, too.”

“Where are all the other recon teams? We could hook up, strength in numbers and all that.”

“Unknown. Let’s move. We’ll follow the Mord. That will at least get us closer to the cruiser.”

After a klick Zara was exhausted. After two, she was pulling on her reserves. At three klicks they were both stumbling like drunks. “Rest,” she gasped.

“One more klick,” Masi groaned. “Can’t we call them to come get us?”

“Not yet. We’re still too far out.” She sipped more water. Jets screamed overhead leaving white contrails in the blue sky. If they were scanning, she and Masi were already dead. “Gotta move.”

He groaned but rolled to his feet.

They were less than half a klick from the cruiser when the Mord began their attack. The ship was surrounded. They dove into a ruined basement for cover. “What can we do?” Masi sighted his laser rifle on a passing squad.

Zara pulled the barrel down. “Don’t. You’ll kill four or five and we’ll be found.” She heard him mutter under his breath but he put the rifle down.

They watched as their ship was pounded from all sides. It was full dark and the glow of fire from the ship lit the night sky in front of them.

“Hold still,” they heard behind them.

Masi twitched. Zara put a hand on his arm, holding her rifle out to her side straight armed. “Take it easy.” She dropped her weapon and raised her hands. Beside her, after a moment, Masi did the same.

“Take two steps back and turn around. Slow.”

They did.

“Kneel down, fingers clasped behind your head.”

They did that too.

“You are now prisoners of war. Prepare yourselves for the camps.”

Zara sighed. No one ever came out of those alive.



The End

983 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Stowaway Annie

Connie the Kid - School Photo

Connie the Kid – School Photo

Crewman Sharif Vega put his duffle on the carry cart with care. Then he piled a case of Centauri Blood wine, a crate of fresh binga fruit and a box of cleaning detergent around it. He rolled it through the crowded spaceport and onto the monorail that carried passengers and crew to their desired gates. He got off at Gate D32 and rolled the cart to the desk.

“Hey, Lyn,” he greeted his shipmate at the desk as he maneuvered the cart around the desk. “I have some last minute buys for the ship.”

Lyn checked her electronic pad and nodded briefly as she scanned the items on the cart. “Great. I love binga fruit. I’ve checked you in, Sharif, go on in.”

Sharif wiped his hands on his ship suit and gripped the cart handle. He had been sure Lyn would ask about the duffle. He sped down the access way and into the ship’s entryway. The fruit and wine went to the galley, the detergent in the cleaning locker and he hurried along the corridor to crew quarters.

He lifted the duffel and carried it into his cabin. Sharif put it on the bed and unzipped it halfway. “Are you comfortable enough?” He peeked into the bag.

“I’m fine,” a small female voice came from inside the duffel.

“Stay here. I’ve got work to do but I’ll be back in awhile.” He pulled the zipper nearly closed and left the cabin.

It wasn’t long before the ship lifted off and jumped into hyper space. When they came out the Captain said over breakfast, “There’s a forty kilo discrepancy in the mass of the ship. Sharif, after you take over the freight console from Hawk, check the records of the freight we on-boarded on Centauri. Either the canisters were mislabeled or one of the readers made an error.”

Sharif nodded, eyes downcast. He couldn’t look the Captain in the eye. “Yes, sir.”

“I know it’s a small error,” the Captain told the crew around the table. “But I don’t want it becoming a big error. Find out the problem.”

The whole crew nodded. Sharif choked down his coffee and hurried from the galley. An hour later, he excused himself from the bridge and knocked on the Captain’s cabin door.


The Captain was in his sleeping robe at the small desk. Sharif could see the manifest on the Captain’s pad. “Sir, I need to talk to you.”

Captain Teigen looked up. “You found the discrepancy?”

Sharif shuffled his feet. “In a way, Sir. Yes.”

An eyebrow rose. “Spit it out, Sharif.”

“Well, Sir,” Sharif began to twist his hands together. “You know how on Centauri the vids were full of reports of a search for a criminal’s grand-daughter?”

The Captain sat up. “I remember.” His tone of voice went level.

“The girl found me. Asked for help.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, thought better of it and pulled them out again. “I didn’t know who she was, at first. Just another beggar kid, you know. They’re all over the place.”

Captain Teigen’s eyebrows drew together.

Sharif licked his lips, then pulled himself up, squaring his shoulders. He blurted out. “I smuggled her onto the ship.”

“You did what?” The Captain’s voice went hard. His eyes bored into Sharif.

“They were going to kill her, Captain. You know that. All for some minor infraction her grand-father made. They kill the three generations, over some law that would just get a fine on Earth.” He twisted his hands again.

“Bring the girl here.”

Sharif nodded and dashed out of the door. When he got back, the girl in tow, the Captain was dressed.

“Captain, this is Annie, ten years old. Annie, this is Captain Teigen.”

The blue-eyed, blond girl stared up at the Captain. She stuck out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Sir.”

The Captain’s eyebrow twitched but he shook her hand. “Nice to meet you, Annie. You present me with a problem.”

“Yes, Sir. I’m sorry.”

A glare was shot at Sharif. “You have put me and the ship in a very difficult situation, Crewman Vega. We could be banned from Centauri, a very lucrative freight run for us. I could lose my ship for kidnapping a child from another planet. We could all be sent to prison.”

“But, Sir. I had to help. It’s not right that they were going to kill her for something she didn’t do. They don’t care about her, why should they care that she came with us. I didn’t kidnap her, Sir, she came willingly, to escape a death sentence. There must be a regulation for that?”

Teigen’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t go space lawyer on me, Vega. You’re in enough trouble. Get the girl a cabin and fed. Then you’re on report. You do your job during your duty hours, eat, and go to your cabin. That’s it. No rec time. Only the minimum gym time.” He turned Annie. “You may go to the galley to eat, work out in the gym, participate in any appropriate recreational activities. You are not allowed in any working spaces, the bridge, engine rooms, any other location that a passenger has no business being in. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir. I understand.”

“Good. Take care of it Sharif. Get out.”

The Captain and the Exec spent the next four hours going over System Law. They finally found a clause that would allow Annie to escape Centuri without bankrupting the ship. They turned her over to Child Protection on Minataur. Sharif hugged her at the access way, the assigned mentor watching. “Good luck, Annie.”

“Thank you, Sharif. I’m sorry about the trouble I got you in.”

“No worries, girl. Good luck on your new planet.”

“I knew you were the right spacer to approach.” She shook his hand. “Call me when you come back.”

“I’ll do that.”

He watched as the mentor took her hand and left for her new life.



The End

990 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Flash Fiction Friday Story: Escape

Fractals, Plasma,

SubAtomic Plasma by AsaLegault via

Captain Jan A’Mungo’s forehead glistened with sweat as her brown eyes shifted over the displays on her pilot console.

“Jan, your ‘fro is drooping. You’re not worried are you?”

“That’s ‘Captain’ to you while we’re on the bridge, Pete. Husband or not I’ll write you up.”

“Hey!” Jack Ender, weapons master and general illicit cargo mover intervened. “The damn Patrol is on our butts. Can we save the marital squabbles for another time?”

The comm system crackled with static then broadcast its message. “Cargo ship Epona. This is Captain Bartholomew Ho of the Galactic Patrol ship GUS Orion. We have you on our scanners. Surrender now and your sentence will be reduced to life in the Gehenna penal colony.”

Jan punched console icons and made sure she was on the opposite side of Nodens 5, ducking the cargo ship into the planet’s cloud cover.

From his seat at weapons, Jack Ender craned his head around to stare at his Captain. “Uhh, Captain, we’re in the atmo.”

“I know,” she snapped. “Would you prefer to be in the Orion’s tractor beams?”

“Jan, we have a hold full of weapons for the rebellion. Why are we on the planet?” Her husband, Pete Ostrander, had six screens of data showing both atmospheric conditions of Nodens 5 and the echos of the Orion’s scanner signals.

“Are you piloting this boat or am I?” Jan snapped. Her ship was too small to fight the battleship hovering outside the atmosphere of the fifth planet in the Nodens system. It’s engines were too weak to outrun the other ship. She didn’t have a lot of options. “Find me a way off of this rock and away from that battleship.”

“We could just stay on the opposite side of the planet.” Jack had all of his weapons on standby and it wasn’t much. The weapons system had two missles in the launch bay and two more on the rack. The laser beams were ready but the charging mechanism would take too long to recharge if he overused the lasers against a battleship. His blaster was on his belt, he never went anywhere without it, but it would be useless if the battleship held the Epona in a tractor beam.

“As long as the Orion doesn’t deploy a couple of shuttles to the Lagrange points.” Jan used her jumpsuit sleeve to wipe her forehead. “Any other ideas?”

“I heard Gehenna isn’t that bad. We could surrender. Live a life of bliss with farm animals and heavy labor,” Pete mused from his chair on the opposite side of the bridge from Jack.

Both Jan and Jack snorted. “You, milking cows?” Jan hiccupped as she laughed. “That’ll be the day. Any other ideas?”

Pete studied the three screens showing the planet. One screen had atmospheric data. “What’s the classification of this rock?”

Jan tapped a symbol on her touch screen. “Ummm. It’s dang close to Earth normal. Why?”

“Can you sneak us around to the sunset line?”

She studied the screen. The Orion was moving slowly to the planetary east. “Yeah, why?”

“Well,” Pete rubbed the three day old beard on his chin. “We may be able to use plasma bubbles to escape.”

Both Jan and Jack swiveled their chairs around to stare at him.

“It’s old school, I give you that.”

“What do you mean?” Jan loved her husband but his interest in old technology drove her crazy.

“Look, keep us at the equator. Around sunset naturally occurring plasma bubbles will form in the atmosphere. We can use that to escape.”

“What are you talking about?” Jack grew up on a space station and had spent all of his ten years since his eighteenth birthday on spaceships.

“It’s electrons. Plasma is just positively charged atmosphere. The ions form a cloud of sorts, lighter than the surrounding atmosphere then it rises, like a bubble in boiling water, to the top of the atmosphere.”

“What’s that got to do with us?” Jan wasn’t putting the picture together at all. She just needed to escape from the Orion and get the cargo to the waiting rebellion.

“A plasma bubble deflects signals.” Pete grinned at his partners.

Jan took a moment to process that information. “As in their scans can’t see us?”

Pete nodded.

“How do we find one of these bubbles?”

He shook his head. “We don’t. We make one. Big enough for us to hide in the middle and hold it until the Orion moves off.”

“How do you do that?”

“I can use the ship systems to generate a magnetic shield in a spherical grid around the ship. I’ll stream ions inside the grid. That forms the bubble. If we work it right, we can modulate the edges to make it look natural and drift the bubble along the planetary sunset line at the upper edge of the atmosphere until the Orion leaves or we can sneak off.” He leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head.

“No way.” Jack snorted and turned back to his console.

Pete’s hands flew down from his head as he sat forward in his chair. “Yes, way. It can be done.”

Jan closed her eyes. If she lost the ship to the Orion, all of the weapons would be lost and her crew would end up on Gehenna. She took a deep breath. “Yeah, do it.”

She and Jack watched, nerves stretched tight as violin strings, as Pete tapped console keys. “It’s done. Just drift us westward.”

Jan set the controls to hover and depended on atmospheric winds to carry the ship along. She didn’t want to leave any engine trail. It took eighteen hours. The tiny crew cheered as Jan’s screen showed the Orion heading back out into space.

“Secure that magnetic field,” she ordered. “We have a cargo to deliver.”

The End

968 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:

Time is Flying

Immature Gala Apple

Immature Gala Apple by Connie Cockrell

No rain since the last Monday blog post. It’s been a very disappointing monsoon season to be sure. The lakes and reservoirs are at fifty percent capacity or less, making everyone in Arizona very nervous. I’ve had to water my garden every other day, fruit trees included. I picked my 6 peaches a few days ago. Yummy! I have 5 Gala apples on the tree. The late April frost and snow killed most of the buds on both trees so I only have those few. No pears at all, which makes me sad. Maybe I’ll have more fruit next year. Anyway, I spoke with a farmer at the Farmer’s Market. He told me Gala’s mature mid to late fall. So in the picture above, those apples may actually double in size in the next four to six weeks.
The Northern Gila County fair is in less than a month. The fair book has been proof read and sent to the printer to publish and I continue to update the website,, to add information concerning all of the activities, attractions and entertainment. What’s your favorite event or activity at your county fair?
I am editing the first book in my Brown Rain series. The working title is The Beginning, which to be frank, is sort of lame. Would you like to help me name this novelette? Click on the link below to sign up for my newsletter by the 16th of August and I’ll send you a PDF copy of the rough draft of the story for you to read. Then you can go to my blog and leave a comment on this post with your Title suggestion.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.

I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here. Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.
Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. Apple (iTunes) and Barnes and Noble now have it up on their sites. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Fun Times In August

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

My friend Selena Laurence is releasing her new book, Buried, today. A picture of her book cover is below. You can find it at:
B&N –>
iTunes –>
Goodreads –>
#JuanAndBeth — with Selena Laurence.


We had a wonderful rainy thunderstorm on Saturday. The air cooled down, the rain fell, the plants became very happy. Yay for rain!
Well I completed Revolution’s formatting and put it up on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, CreateSpace and Smashwords. I’m very excited. I have a good deal for you if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter. Want to get on it? Sign up in the next five days and I’ll get you in on it too!
The Northern Gila County fair is in a month. We’ve been working with the printer to publish the Fair books and I’ve been updating the website,, to correct out of date information. The site is still a work in progress but at least the information is correct. LOL! Do you attend your local county fair? What do you like the best about it?
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on Goodreads or the e-tailer site of your choice.
I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here. Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.
Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!