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Thread: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

  1. #1

    Default Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    So I am still trying to put together a little story to enter into the Blizzard writing contest.

    Thought I'd go ahead and put up what I have so far. I won't put everything up until after the 23rd. But here's a teaser.

    Any grammar or content related remarks would be helpful...



    Across the Sea of Stars
    A StarCraft Tale

    By Maverick


    ROUTHE
    Hidden Content:
    “I do not care what you believe Madam President! Exclusive authority of the prisoners in question was granted to me by your vaunted Senate and I will continue to exercise that authority as I see fit!”

    Doran Routhe stared down at the President of the United Powers League, her prissy, oval face cluttering a good portion of his holographic monitor. She was young and idealistic, the first female UPL president and the youngest person to ever be elected. His patience had long since run out with her and he was now burning bridge after bridge. She was not going to stop him from doing what he knew was, in his heart, the right thing—the just thing—to do.

    Mister Routhe, you know as well as I do that I, as president, can have the courts issue a cease and desist order that will prevent you from carrying on with your little…science project,” the president said.

    Routhe was taken back by the president’s sarcastic and pompous tone, but she was, afterall, one of those New Order progressives, pushing for a united world directorate. For people who claimed to be such forward thinkers, looking toward some grandiose and prosperous future, they were extremely shortsighted and obtuse. He should not have been surprised by her tone, but he realized that he was…just a little. He was about to interrupt her tirade, but there was no breaking through her continuous wall of words.

    “These men and woman are criminals, criminals and sociopathic malcontents who deserve nothing less than extermination! You are sparing them from Project Purification and the speedy deaths they so rightly deserve to further your own personal gains," the president said. You know as well as I do that they will not last more than a year on their own before tearing one another apart. Your radical, irresponsible attitude and thinking is dangerously seditious and borders on criminal itself, Routhe. Your connections and wealth are really all that are keeping you from experiencing Project Purification first-hand yourself."

    Routhe’s throat tightened a bit and wondered for a brief moment if she really had enough pull to make something like that happen. He looked away from the monitor for a moment, pretending to reach for something on his ornately crafted, antique mahogany desk to buy an extra second or two to formulate his response. He did not want to appear flustered, even though he admittedly was. In that brief moment, he decided that she was most likely bluffing. With his mind made up, he eased back into his padded leather chair, drew in a concealed breath and rolled the dice. Routhe had not come as far as he had in life without keeping a whole deck of aces stuffed up his sleeve.

    “I am a valued and trusted member of the scientific community. You would have to fabricate lies and manipulate the media to tarnish my reputation to such obviously manipulated degree. And even then, it may not be enough to bring me down. I have no skeletons Madam President…unlike many others I know. Including a few people in your very own administration. Councilman Naro, for example.

    Routhe quickly opened a file and linked it the president’s feed so that the she would be able to see what was appearing on his monitor. The file contained a series of images that he quickly flipped through. They animated like pages being turned in a book, and were of the married councilman in some rather compromising positions with some very energetic and very nude young women.

    “His indiscretions would land him in some fairly hot water, should these images ever surface,” Routhe said jovially. “Not to mention putting you in a rather politically challenging situation, Madam President. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

    The president’s face was a mask, totally unreadable and devoid of any kind of reaction from Routhe’s little photo gallery and blatantly open threat. She really was the ice queen everyone made her out to be, he thought to himself. And then to Routhe’s amazement, she smiled. It was a mischievous, toothy grin; it was the kind of smile that could make babies cry and grown mens’ skin crawl.

    “Well Mister Routhe, if that is the way you want to play this little game of ours, then I must warn you that threats of blackmail against this administration or any of its members will be dealt with quickly and harshly. I do have the power to make people simply disappear…forever.”

    Routhe had her now. She had just given him his very own trump card and he was going to use it. Time to really turn the tables, he thought.

    “Madam President, I really hope, for the sake of your presidency, that you are not threatening me,” Routh said, a thin wicked smile of his very own sliding across his chiseled face, a face betraying only the faintest hint of middle-age. “Because I should warn you—before every vidphone conversation, I, out of habit, activate a little recording program of mine. What can I say…I do enjoy listening back through past conversations with some of my nearest and dearest friends…and enemies. How else do you think I have come by so many beneficial connections over the years?”

    Routhe watched as the president began to noticeably squirm a little, her face having gone milk-white. He went on, thoroughly enjoying this powerplay.

    “The really great part about this system, Madam President, is that all of my files, including this very recording, which could be so very damaging to you should it ever see the light of day, and your valued councilman’s fun little pictures, are all automatically archived and stored off-site. I carry with me a special micro-transceiver at all times that allows me to order all of these files to be transmitted directly to the executor of my estate, my attorney, and a valued friend with vast media connections. All I have to do is utter a single code word and your career is over. Not to mention the reputations of some very powerful people in your administration.”

    “You are lying. You…YOU…I...I WILL—”

    “This conversation has been truly delightful Madam President, but I do have a very busy schedule. I am, afterall, planning the largest deep space colonization effort in the history of mankind. I would urge you to tread very carefully and if you were smart, and I know that you are, you would help clear away any lingering opposition to my efforts. In the spirit of our new-found friendship and understanding, of course.

    Routhe muted the vidwindow before the president could respond, her face now several shades redder than normal. Another call was coming in. He slid the vidwindow of the president to one side, just as she launched into another bout of hand-waving and silent screaming. It looked rather funny to Routhe without any accompanying sounds.

    The incoming call was from his project leader, Jack Tarson, the only non-criminal member of the forthcoming colonization mission. Tarson was a good man and longtime friend, and the only person that Routhe trusted to carry off this massive enterprise with out a hitch. And no one deserved a fresh start more than Tarson, Routhe thought. No one.

    He clicked on the flashing icon and a second vidwindow opened next to the president’s. A slightly younger man than Routhe appeared, but the man's piercing and haunted eyes said otherwise. They were eyes that had seen far too much.

    “Jack! It’s good to hear from you! I have excellent news." Routhe said. He glanced at the president’s fuming image briefly. “That last little roadblock we talked about earlier has been cleared up and we can begin final preparations. You are go for the Gantris system!”


    TARSON
    Hidden Content:
    For most, waking from cold-sleep is much like being born: traumatic, confusing and painful. But while the violence of birth is quickly and thankfully forgotten, the effects experienced after emerging from cold-sleep linger for days, sometimes years, afterward. Every so often, some poor fellow draws the short straw and gets saddled with some of the lesser symptoms for life.

    But for Jack Tarson, cold-sleep was only slightly more stressing than waking up from an afternoon nap. That is, of course, if a person could ever get used to waking up from an afternoon nap on a polar glacier, naked, freezing and barely able to see. This being his ninth career flight and cryo-suspension, Tarson had grown somewhat accustomed, but by no means immune, to the effects of long-duration cryo-hibernation.

    Tarson pulled himself out of the plasteel tube and carefully eased his unclothed body down to the deck, keeping his eyes shut tight to avoid the harsh, halogen lighting of the cryo-bay. As his buttocks touched down, the frigid chill of the deck lanced through him like an icy, electric fire. He winced, but ignored the discomfort and suppressed the urge to rise back up from the deck. He quickly put his head between his knees and choked back the tempting—but unnecessary—urge to vomit; Tarson, of course, had no food in his stomach. Instead, he coughed up two or three horrendous wads of brownish-yellow mucus and spat them out onto the deck. He blew out his sinuses next, spraying the air with a fine mist of snot. He tilted his head forward, spittle and fluids dripping from his nose and gaping mouth in a frothy, continuous stream. The whole mess formed a small, soupy puddle on the austere, metallic floor.

    Carefully, Tarson tried opening his eye lids but they were dry and sticky, clinging to his eyeballs like wet rags. The lids made subtle “plopping” sounds when they finally came free. His eyes felt like they had been rubbed raw with sandpaper and packed with glass shavings, but the frigid ship’s air soothed them to some degree. The lighting of the cryo-bay was dimmed, but for Tarson, it felt like he was starring into the white-hot corona of Sol. He squeezed his eyes shut again for a moment, blinked once, twice, three times and finally just left them open. Waiting for the retinas to adjust was uncomfortable, but the wait passed quickly.

    Tarson glanced at a piece of polished metal supporting the cryo-tube to get a sense of his appearance. The man staring back looked to be in his mid-forties with a strong, chiseled jaw-line, jet-black hair with hints of gray around the temples and piercing, though sullen, blue eyes. Tarson’s attention was consumed, not by these familiar features, but by something far more strange. He had a full beard. It was as dark as his hair and peppered with gray as well, but that was not the odd thing. What really confused, and to some degree frightened, Tarson was the beard was over an inch thick!

    Cryo-hibernation did not completely halt the aging process, Tarson knew, but it slowed it down to such a minute degree that the effects of aging were virtually nullified. Cold-sleep also had a profound effect on fast-growing cells, like those that were critical to hair growth; it slowed them down exponentially as well. The longest duration voyage Tarson had ever endured was a two year milk run to Barnard’s Star, ferrying a troop of scientists to observe and study the isolated red dwarf. Once in orbit, Tarson awoke from cold-sleep with barely a day’s worth of growth. But now, during this flight to Gantris, he had somehow grown a full beard in nearly half the time?!

    Tarson felt a chill run down his spine and it was not from the cold deck or the fact that he was freezing. Something had gone terribly, terribly wrong.

    ONE HOUR LATER

    After showering, pulling on a black colonial jumpsuit adorned with Nagglarfar and UPL patches, and wolfing down some self-heating ration bars, Tarson tried to access the ship’s AI, ATLAS, through a terminal in the infirmary, but the whole system was in passive mode and could only be reactivated from the bridge or the system core. He left the infirmary and boarded a nearby maglev tram directing it to head for the massive supercarrier’s bridge. The tram’s trackage ran through the center of the vessel, passing through all major areas. The cryo facilities consisted of a pair of parallel corridors with the tram running between them. As the train picked up speed, Tarson watched as the last of the 10,000 cold-sleep chambers flashed past, realizing very soon that he would be responsible for the well-being and fate of the poor souls within.

    A moment later, the tram passed through a very short tunnel and then emerged into the cavernous cargo bays. The tram’s track was suspended by girders two hundred feet above the bay’s floor. Though he had seen it all many times before, Tarson was still humbled by the sheer scale of the spectacle before him. On either side, thousands of cargo containers were stacked end-to-end, top-to-bottom in row after row. Each building-sized container contained food, fuel, tools, and clothing; the containers could also quickly be converted into make-shift dwellings for the colonists. Everything on this vessel had a purpose and nothing would go to waste.

    The tram passed through another tunnel and exited into a slightly smaller cargo bay. This one contained a unique assortment of ground vehicles and aircraft—some assembled, some not. Tarson was very concerned about the new space construction vehicle prototypes performing as well as the manuals claimed. He glanced at one of the humanoid vehicles latched to the deck as the tram slipped past. To him, it looked like some silly toy robot his son used to play with. Tarson clenched his teeth and suppressed the emotions that flashed into his mind at the thought of his boy, Nathan. A single tear escaped from one of his eyes, which he quickly wiped away.

    The tram continued on its way, passing through more cargo bays, one containing twenty gargantuan, fully-automated factories. The colonies would, with the right raw materials, have the capacity to build virtually anything they would need, Tarson thought. Including more factories.

    The tram entered another tunnel, finally coming to a halt inside the command module. Tarson exited the tram, though slowly. His leg muscles were still not quite used to walking yet, even in the reduced gravity of the ship. He steadied himself by reaching out a hand to a nearby wall and inched along until he came to the module’s main lift. He rode it up four levels, the doors splitting open with a loud hiss. He emerged onto the Nagglafar’s triple-decked bridge. Slanted windows offered a truly awe-inspiring view of the stars beyond. In the distance, Tarson could see a small, terrestrial world; from here, it looked like a large blue and green marble streaked with white. Gantris IV was supposed to have been a primarily arid, desert world. Things had gone very wrong, indeed, he realized.

    Tarson needed answers and fast. He chose the nearest terminal and sat down. He quickly keyed in a series of passwords, submitted to fingerprint and ocular scans, passed a voice match confirmation, but was shocked when the system asked for ATLAS’s codes as well. The system must have been seriously damaged at some point to be requiring security from both he and the AI. Theoretically, Tarson should have been able to operate the ship without ATLAS, but somewhere in the data core, there was a fault of somekind. He decided he had no choice really and began the process of bringing ATLAS back online. After an hour of rerouting subsystems and shutting down damaged logic centers, he had done it. ATLAS’s status light were all lit green, including voice recognition and projection.

    “ATLAS?” Tarson called out tentatively, realizing it was the first time he had spoken aloud since waking.

    “HELLO, COMMANDER TARSON. IT IS GOOD TO BE WORKING WITH YOU AGAIN.” Tarson was pleased to hear the AI’s voice boom through the bridge’s speakers.

    “Hello ATLAS. Please provide your access codes so that I can sort out this damn train wreck of a mission.” Tarson said. “Things have gone real bad.”

    “COMMANDER, I MUST APOLOGIZE FOR MY INABILITY TO PERFORM THE REQUESTED FUNCTION. I MUST INFORM YOU THAT YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE PRIVILAGES HAVE BEEN TEMPORARY DEACTIVATED UNTIL YOU HAVE REVIEWED THE FOLLOWING DATA-VID. I WILL BE UNABLE TO SUBMIT MY CODES UNTIL THIS ACTION HAS BEEN PERFORMED.”

    “What?! What data-vid? Tarson asked, even as ATLAS took control of the computer terminal and opened an empty archive on Tarson’s monitor. No, nearly empty, Tarson corrected himself. One file was present within the archive. It was dated November 5, 2231, a few months after Tarson and his little fleet of vagabonds had broken earth orbit and headed for the Gantris system. The title read: S.N.A.F.U.

    “You always did have a penchant for understatement and inappropriately timed humor, Doran, you damn fool,” Tarson mumbled under his breath, reluctantly opening the file and increasing the monitor's volume.

    A recorded video of Doran Routhe appeared, his smile friendly, warm and confident. Tarson knew his friend only too well. Though it looked quite tame, this was the same face he adopted whenever he was about to deliver bad news. With serious reservations, Tarson clicked on the PLAY button.

    Jack, I imagine right about now things are not going according to plan…at least, not the plan that you and I signed off on. I have never been one to beat around the bush, so I will try to get all this out in one go. Bear with me. As you know, our original intention was to land four supercarriers on Gantris IV, establishing the first permanent colony in another star system…with you installed as its governor. Pipes dreams and fool's hopes.

    You and I both know the UPL would never have permitted the colony, comprised the way it was, to remain independent for very long. I decided early on that Gantris was far too close; the colony would always be in the shadow and under the thumb of the UPL and its influence. So I decided to make it virtually impossible for the UPL to ever find you all.


    I had a program installed into ATLAS’s subroutines that would order it to sabotage itself once the fleet was halfway there. It would first sever all communications with Earth, then plot a new course of its own choosing for the ships to follow, and then finally cripple itself and the supercarriers. Taking a page out of Cortez’s book, ATLAS would erase the location of Earth and the Sol system and force the ships to remain at warp until their drives reached critical meltdown. For it to work, and to help cover my own tracks, I had to make the whole thing look like an accident. An accident that both the UPL and your colonists would buy. Now, with the addition of you, only two people and one highly intelligent supercomputer know the whole story.

    I did what I had to do, Jack. Those people deserved a better fate than Project P. This is the best I could do. I'm sorry that you will never be able to come back here, but deep down, you know you never would have anyway. There is nothing left for you here.

    What I'm going to say next you will most likely ignore but you need to hear it. What happened to Miranda and Nathan was not your fault. You could never have saved them. But if you feel like you still deserve to pay some kind of penance, than be the leader those colonists need. This is your second chance, so don't waste it. Good luck, my friend.


    ATLAS
    Hidden Content:
    Transmission is on hold.
    Last edited by //MavericK\\; 08-24-2010 at 10:35 AM.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    "I have a very busy scheduled" was the only typo I have found.
    Nice story, by the way! Gives me some ideas myself.
    Tell you what, why don't I PM you... :P

    EDIT: Woah, it's a shame it took 6 days for you to finally get a reply. :S
    Last edited by Alex06; 08-12-2010 at 12:02 AM.

    Kudos to Arkceangel for the Terran avatar and sig!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    Thanks Alex. Fixed.

    More to come in the next few days.

    EDIT: I may wait until the day after the contest is closed to put the rest up.


  4. #4

    Default Re: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    I have read the 2nd part, good work.

    Kudos to Arkceangel for the Terran avatar and sig!

  5. #5
    Pandonetho's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    I've read the first 2 paragraphs of the Routhe section and I already think it's better writing than most of the Blizzard books.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    Quote Originally Posted by Pandonetho View Post
    I've read the first 2 paragraphs of the Routhe section and I already think it's better writing than most of the Blizzard books.
    Thanks man. That really means a lot to me.

    Quick update on the remainder of the story...

    I ran out of time getting the thing finished and into Blizz before the deadline...so I'll have to hold it until next year. I sure hope they hold the contest again.

    I'm now working on the last act of the Tarson section and then I'll move on to the final chapter, Atlas...which, between you, me and the wall, is gonna be a real bear to write.
    Last edited by //MavericK\\; 08-31-2010 at 03:05 PM.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Across the Sea of Stars: A Starcraft Tale

    Quote Originally Posted by //MavericK\\ View Post
    Quick update on the remainder of the story...

    I ran out of time getting the thing finished and into Blizz before the deadline...so I'll have to hold it until next year. I sure hope they hold the contest again.
    Shame, mate. Sorry to hear that. But at the same time, guess that's one less competition for me.

    Hope you still finish it though. Gotta know how it all ends!!

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