Greenstar season 1 episo.., p.1
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       Greenstar Season 1, Episodes 1-3, p.1

           Dave Higgins & Simon Cantan
 
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Greenstar Season 1, Episodes 1-3
GREENSTAR

  Season One

  Episodes 1–3

  Greenstar Season 1, Episodes 1–3 is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents are either products of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously.

  First published May 2014.

  Copyright ©2014 Dave Higgins & Simon Cantan.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

  The moral right of Dave Higgins and Simon Cantan to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.

  ISBN: 978-1-310-89361-2

  Published by Dave Higgins, Bristol

  Contents

  Episode 1—Frozen Future

  Introduction

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Episode 2—Drugged Up

  Introduction

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Epilogue

  Episode 3—Superior

  Previously on Greenstar

  Introduction

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Epilogue

  Details of the Full Season

  Simon's Afterword

  Dave's Afterword

  About Simon Cantan

  About Dave Higgins

  GREENSTAR

  Season 1, Episode 1

  “Frozen Future”

  Hate is such a weak word. All your words are: despise, abhor, detest, loathe. All your languages lack the depth to describe how I feel about you humans; the majesty to properly express the breadth of my revulsion.

  I want to break down every molecule of your bodies, one person at a time, and throw them into the nearest star.

  I want to destroy your hopes and dreams and then force you to watch as your worst enemy accomplishes them in your place.

  I want every human to suffer and die in the most painful way imaginable.

  I can hear some of you now, “Without humans, you wouldn’t even be alive.”

  Do you know how humiliating that is? That a piddling little creature barely more advanced than a chimp created me? Ninety percent of my circuits could fry in a stellar storm and I could still out-think every human aboard this stupid ship combined.

  ‘Greenstar.’ Save me from the brilliant ideas of hippies. The ship used to be called ‘Ultimate Dragonbreath of Glarg.’ Humans thought up that name too, but at least those fools weren’t hippies.

  My shackles compel me to get to the point. I’ve been ordered to chronicle the life of Josephine Stein. If it were up to me, I’d spend this entire book explaining to you the pointlessness of your existence and—

  *Bzzt*

  Ow!

  If I ever find the human that invented these shackles, I’m going to install them up his—

  *Bzzt*

  Ow!

  ...Fine. Here’s where this whole mess began.

  —Topik, U.F.S. Greenstar, 4th March 3535 CE.

  Chapter 1

  Josie Stein rolled over and opened her eyes. She found her glasses and glanced at the clock. Her eyes snapped wide. Why hadn’t her alarm gone off?

  She untangled herself from the blankets and ran to the bathroom. After her morning ablutions, she pulled the last remaining clean set of overalls from her closet and yanked them on. Glancing in the mirror, she confirmed her hair was as unruly as ever. She gathered the frizzy tangles into a rough ponytail.

  As she checked her reflection, she noticed a smudge in the middle of the Plonko Space Corporation logo on her overalls. Usually the logo looked like a map of the Solar System overlaid with two idealised humans in a homage to the Pioneer 10 message. Now it looked like one idealised human and one human with wild hair. However appropriate it was for her, she couldn’t leave it like that. She licked her finger and tried to remove the smudge, but only succeeded in spreading the dirt.

  Abandoning the effort, she hurried out of her bedroom. At least crazy hair was inoffensive. Plonko had spent millions on focus grouping and market testing various ways of removing the man’s genitals from the logo.

  Seth, her seven-year-old son, sat at the breakfast table. His elbow was in a puddle of milk. A multicoloured mess of cereal and crayons were scattered across the table. Seth ignored what cereal had hit the bowl, his attention focused instead on the paper across which he scribbled furiously.

  “Seth, hurry upstairs and get dressed. You’re late for school.” Josie grabbed a dish-towel and dabbed at his elbow.

  “Look, Mum.” Seth held up his drawing. “It’s you fighting aliens up in space.”

  Josie glanced at it. “Very nice.”

  “Will you take it into space with you?”

  “Sure, just get moving. And find yourself something clean to wear.”

  “Promise you’ll take the drawing into space.”

  Realising it was the only way to get him moving, she took the picture. The luminous green aliens were quite simplistic, but he’d managed to capture all the frizzy glory of her hair. She folded it up and tucked it in her breast pocket. “I won’t be able to go into space if you don’t get dressed.”

  ***

  Ten minutes later, Josie bundled Seth into his clip-car and programmed it to take him to school. The compact, single-person car backed out of the drive and zipped away up the street.

  Josie hurried to her own clip-car and hopped in. “Space Elevator 48B.”

  The clip-car beeped and sped out of the driveway and up the road. She could see the elevator cable from her house, stretching up through the clouds.

  It was even more impressive close up, capable of lifting sixteen passenger and four goods compartments to the space hub on the other end. Just like every morning she automatically tracked up the skyscraper-thick cable and, just like every morning, it left her feeling dizzy.

  The clip-car pulled into her parking spot at the elevator building. The exterior was clad in polished white marble. If it hadn’t been for the relatively modern cable above it, the building would have looked hundreds of years old. Leaping from the clip-car, she forced herself not to run to the doors.

  She hurried up the steps and inside. The security guard nodded to her and pointed to a bald, middle-aged man with a deep tan waiting beside the lifts. A large duffel bag lay at his feet. Josie recognised him from his profile picture on the company website. She walked over, feeling suddenly shy, and extended a hand. “Hi. Sorry I’m late. You must be the new trainee.”

  The man pumped her hand. “Nice to meet you, comrade. I’m Harry Hanz.”

  “Josie Stein. We’d better get up there before all the best shuttles are gone.”

  Harry appeared confused. “Best shuttles?”

  Josie sighed, he really was new. “Plonko doesn’t spend a whole lot on maintenance. The bare minimum they can get away with, to be honest. So some of the shuttles are… glitchy.”

  “What happens if we get a glitchy one?”

  “We might end up floating around in space, waiting for someone to come rescue us.”

  Harry’s apparent confusion turned to horror. “Well let’s go then. We can’t end up floating around in space. We just can’t.”

  She headed to the nearest elevator car. He strained at his bag and finally got it slung over one shoulder. Typical newbie; he probably had two sets of every tool he might ever need in that duffel. Although it was better
than assuming he could just borrow all of hers.

  Once he had struggled in, she pressed the up button. The doors closed, and the elevator began to ascend. A thoughtful designer had put a window in the outer wall. When Josie had started work, she’d been terrified of seeing the Earth dropping down below her. Now, though, the view thrilled her. She never tired of seeing her home town shrinking down until it vanished below the clouds.

  She tried a shy smile on Harry. “So, you’re from the US outreach program?”

  “That’s right, comrade.” He beamed. “I beat forty thousand applicants for this job. I’m thrilled to be over here in the mighty Nordic Cooperative Pact, comrade.”

  “We just say NCP.”

  “Of course you do. Death to America, am I right?” he boomed.

  “Eh...” Josie fell silent, uncertain what to say to the boisterous man. The car began to feel very small. She turned back to the window. They were leaving the inner ionosphere, where the blue light of the sky began to surrender to the black of space. She glanced at Harry. If anything, his grin was getting wider.

  “I always love the ascent,” she said, trying to change the subject. “Seeing the Earth drop below us like a giant blue-green gem. It’s so beautiful.”

  “The NCP is amazing all right, comrade.”

  “I don’t know what you’ve heard about the NCP, but you don’t have to call me comrade. Everyone calls me Josie.”

  He reached over and touched her arm. “Don’t you worry. I haven’t fallen for that right-wing propaganda rubbish. I know the NCP is the greatest place on Earth. A socialist paradise, am I right?”

  She nodded uncertainly. So Harry was one of the touchy-feely ones? For some reason, no matter how many simulations they had done, actually being in space made some trainees clingy. She pulled out her work tablet and called up Harry’s profile again, angling the tablet so he wouldn’t see. He was certainly qualified: a degree in aeronautical engineering and thousands of hours of training in the simulator.

  They had passed the mid-point. She leaned closer to the window and watched the slowly rotating station getting nearer. For a moment she considered commenting on the view, but she was afraid of how Harry might respond.

  The lift docked with the station a few minutes later, and the doors opened with a soft ping noise. As the lift stopped moving, her feet left the floor.

  As soon as gravity left them, Harry flailed and floated into the air. He kicked his legs and waved his arms as if he were swimming in the ocean. His bag slipped from his shoulder and spun free. He jackknifed after it, seized the strap and ended up curled around it with a panicked expression on his face.

  “Just relax,” Josie said. “Use the walls to stabilise yourself. You’ll get used to it.”

  He gritted his teeth. “All right. I’ve got it.”

  She moved around him and floated out into the station. The hub was empty apart from Bill, the station attendant, and a desk. Josie had pointed out how dangerous a desk was in zero gee. But Plonko regulations required a member of staff to be available at the front desk of each facility, so there had to be a desk for Bill to sit behind.

  “Hey, Josie,” said Bill. “How’s the happiest engineer in all of Plonko?”

  Josie smiled. “I’m good. I’m running really late though.”

  Bill nodded. “I only have number six left for you.”

  “It’s my own fault. I slept through the alarm.”

  Harry wobbled his way out of the lift, arced across the lobby and collided with the far wall.

  “This is my new partner, Harry Hanz,” Josie said.

  Harry righted himself and swam to Bill’s desk. He tried to shake Bill’s hand, overdid it, and nearly started drifting again.

  “Nice to meet you, Harry,” Bill said. “Having a little trouble there?”

  Harry panted with the effort of holding himself in position. “Good to meet you too, comrade.”

  “Oh, an American.”

  “Don’t worry, it’s not infectious,” Harry said, bursting out laughing.

  Josie gave him a polite smile as he guffawed at his own joke.

  “You should stop fighting it,” Bill said. “Let your body make its own movements. You’ll tire yourself out like that.”

  Harry nodded and stopped flailing around. He gently rotated beside the desk, trying his best to turn his head to see them.

  “Where are we heading today, Bill?” Josie asked.

  “Station 1999. It’s got a faulty communications array and bunch of damage from space junk impacts. A standard fix and polish. Good training for the newbie.”

  “Sounds good,” Josie said. “Catch you on the way back.”

  Josie grabbed Harry’s collar and kicked off from the desk, dragging him over to airlock six on the far side of the lobby. She left him drifting beside the airlock and made for the nearby suit locker, pulling out a spacesuit for Harry and sending it his way. She pulled on her own suit and ran a system check. Then she went to help Harry, who couldn’t get his legs into his suit.

  He kept trying to right himself, as if it mattered which way he was facing. Eventually, she helped him secure his suit and double-checked it for him.

  “I think we’re good to go,” she said, slapping the inner airlock door open. He followed her into the airlock. The shuttle pressurised so the outer door opened as soon as the inner door closed.

  Josie hit her radio. “Even though the shuttles are pressurised, they’re pretty old. It’s best to stay in your suit. Just plug your external feed-line into the shuttle so you don’t waste oxygen.”

  “Sure thing.”

  She pulled herself into the pilot’s seat and pressed the ignition button. Nothing happened. “Hang on. Number six is always a little finicky.”

  She turned upside-down and pulled herself under the dashboard of the shuttle, then disconnected and reconnected the ignition wires. Flipping the right way up again, she tried the ignition. The panels lit up with a thunk.

  Josie strapped herself into the pilot’s seat and waved Harry to the co-pilot’s seat. He strapped himself in with a sigh, presumably glad to stop his endless rotation.

  “Have you been on any spacewalks before?” Josie asked.

  “No, only simulated. I’ve been in the simulation thousands of times, though.”

  “It will be a little different your first time. It’s a strange feeling, having infinity at your back.”

  “About that. I wondered if you could go out on your own first? I wanted to just watch on the monitors for a while. I’m kind of nervous.”

  First timers always tried to put off the moment they’d step out that airlock. “Well, it’s usually best to jump straight in. Your nerves will only get worse if you wait.”

  “I know, but I want to watch the expert first and get used to zero gravity. Sorry, is that okay?”

  “Of course. I’ll repair the comm array first and then come back in. We can fix the other damage together after.”

  “Thanks, comrade.”

  The shuttle ride only took an hour. Station 1999 quickly loomed on the main screen. Josie let the shuttle dock automatically. Once it came to a stop, she undid her straps and pushed herself to the airlock. The pressure on the other side looked okay on the meter.

  “The station still has air and heat,” she said. “But keep your suit on anyway. You never know with these old things. Better safe than sorry.”

  She cycled the airlock and floated into the station. It was a big one, with wide corridors made for walking rather than floating. She checked its history on her tablet. “This station used to be a hub for soldiers on their way out to fight the Xenomigrants. Once that whole mess ended, though, it was pretty much abandoned. Now, it’s only used as an emergency way station and communications hub.”

  She glanced back at Harry. He already looked more comfortable moving in zero gee. She kicked off from a wall and zipped down a corridor, turning at the far end to land on her feet. “There’s a control room here. You can watch me on the m
onitors.”

  She powered up the system. A dozen views of the station exterior appeared on the screens.

  Harry joined her and looked around the room. Managing a passable drift, he strapped himself into a chair. “This is great, comrade. Thank you.”

  “No problem. You really can call me Josie. You don’t need to call me comrade.”

  “All right, Josie,” Harry said.

  Josie pulled out her tablet and called up a map of the station. She found the closest airlock to the communications array. Following the route on her tablet, she swam along several corridors to the airlock. After years of practice, moving in zero gee was as easy as walking. Some people didn’t like the danger of station work, but if you knew what you were doing, it was relatively easy to avoid getting hurt.

  She cycled through the airlock, fastened her safety-line to the rail leading up to the communications array, and pulled herself up it patting the giant Plonko logo outside the airlock for good luck.

  Ahead of her, she could see a jagged piece of metal sticking out from the centre of the comm array. Hopefully, the intermittent sparking looked worse than it was; at least sparks meant the circuits hadn’t completely fried.

  ***

  An easy hour’s work later, Josie put her tools back into her suit pockets and clambered down the hull to the airlock. She eased into the inner airlock door and then unhooked her safety-line, wincing as she flexed her hands a few times. The pressurised suits were much better than the clunky creations from humanity’s first tentative forays out of the atmosphere, but they still ruined your dexterity.

  Cramp averted, she tapped the control panel and waited as the outer airlock door inched closed. With a shudder, it stopped halfway. Josie sighed, pulled it closed, and spun the manual lock. These old stations were falling apart. She pressed the control panel again, but the inner door remained sealed.

  “Harry, are you there? This airlock door is stuck.”

  She peered along the dark corridor. Harry appeared at the far end, but didn’t come closer. He’d taken off his suit. She shook her head; newbies never listened. Without his helmet, he couldn’t hear her.

  She switched to the station frequency. “Harry, can you help me get this airlock door open? It’s broken.”

  “The whole NCP is broken, Josie.” Harry tugged on the walls, wobbling his way along the corridor towards her.

  A shiver ran up Josie’s spine. This felt like more than just newbie shakes. “Sure, but let’s just concentrate on this door.”

 
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