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Starship victory the las.., p.1
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       Starship Victory: The Last Boy on Earth, p.1

           Joey Peters
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Starship Victory: The Last Boy on Earth
Starship Victory: The Last Boy on Earth

  By Joey Peters

  Copyright 2011, Joey Peters


  The Last Boy on Earth

  On the Creation of the Multiple Earths

  About Joey Peters

  The Last Boy On Earth

  Ensign Brahma smelled the Cherenkov radiation. He tasted the hyperspace wake left by the ship as it traveled faster than light. And Brahma assimilated his crudely replicated egg and French toast through an elaborate atomic process, not organic digestion.

  "It's lonely," he said. "Nobody else sees the universe from anything approaching my perspective."

  Chief Hayes replied, "Do you try this 'sensitive, feeling, god-like energy-being' line on all the girls?" between mouthfuls of oatmeal.

  Security Chief Hayes was pretty in a lady soldier sort of way. Her clothes were absolutely pristine, precisely to regulation down to the Planck length. She kept her hair tied in back with a tight knot. She wore her communicator, blaster and scanner directly on her belt, never more than a couple feet from her hands. Always ready.

  Brahma, on the other hand, was a pretty boy. He kept his approximation of hair up in a spiky configuration popular on the internal planets. His uniform was a little better fitting than regulations generally allowed, but whenever he was around somebody who might care he'd just let it out a little bit. And of course, because he'd been found in a Hindu temple, he maintained a body with a distinctly sub-continental flair.

  Brahma said, "Don't reduce it to that. I'm the only 'god' left. I admit that I fill my time with a few more girls than the rest of the crew, but I think it's time to end that. Find one really special girl."

  A twinkling light emerged from Brahma's hand. He, using the material from his breakfast, constructed a single, long-stem rose molecule by molecule. He held it out for Chief Hayes.

  "I mean, who else on crew can do this for you?"

  Chief Hayes sighed, then reached out and tapped the generator panel in the middle of the table.

  "Long-stem roses. One dozen," she said.

  And a bouquet of roses appeared in a flourish of light in the center of their table.

  "Anybody," Chief Hayes said, "with access to the matter generators."

  The first rose wilted as Brahma reabsorbed the matter contained in it back into himself.

  "Interesting choice of breakfast companion," another voice said. It was Lieutenant Colonel Elorg.

  A smile shot across the pale skin on the organic side of his face and his cybernetics buzzed happily.

  "Sir," Brahma said, "just trying to get to know a fellow bridge officer..."

  "I don't need your help to shoot down this kid," Chief Hayes said.

  Brahma said, "Kylie!"

  She said, "Please, it's Chief Hayes, even when we're off duty. I only let my close friends call me by my first name."

  "C'mon, Kylie," Elorg said, "Five minutes to shift change. I know how much you like to be on time."

  Chief Hayes shot Brahma a look that said, see you later, chump, while walking toward the exit with Elorg.

  Brahma assimilated the rest of his breakfast directly through his hand. As Chief Hayes disappeared into the hallway he muttered to himself, "You know he's gay, right?"

  . . .

  Engineering Chief Golem was feeling intensely forgetful. He knew there was something he'd missed this morning, just like he forgot to set his alarm last night.

  Doctor Mustaff gave him a strange look while he was walking past the medical bay. In fact, so did Ensign Rodriguez and Ensign Starr. Everybody seemed to be giving him strange looks.

  Thankfully his maintenance cycle had completed itself eight minutes before the shift change and he woke up. Still, he'd been in a horrible rush to get dressed. What was it that he forgot?

  Ensign Greene was the first one not to give him a funny look while they were riding the lift together. In fact he'd stared at the wall, very intently, the entire ride down.

  Finally, Golem reached the engineering deck. Ensign Burroughs was already waiting by the door.

  "Sir, you're—" the ensign began, but stopped himself. He stared at Brahma for a moment and said, "Chief, what's happened to your skin?"

  Oh, Golem thought. That's what I forgot. He'd taken his skin off to run it through a disinfection cycle while he slept. The circuits in his head buzzed and crackled, trying to come up with a good excuse.

  "Today is my product line's birthday," Golem said. "And I felt that you guys are getting too used to treating me like 'one of the guys'. Seemed like a good opportunity to remind you guys that I'm not meat-and-bones like you all. I'm servos-and-carbon-fiber."

  Ensign Burroughs stared at him for a few moments. He seemed to be processing what Golem said.

  "I thought you said your product line's birthday was in September..."

  "That's," Brahma said, "when the product line was announced. This is when Doctor Kelley actually started work on us."

  That seemed to satisfy Burroughs.

  He said, "I see. Anyway, sir, there's a work order for two personal shield units that was just put in before the end of last shift. We'd better get to work."

  If Golem could have sweat he'd be done right about now. His crew wouldn't think he was a jackass, at least not for this.

  . . .

  The sun rose over the rocky horizon illuminating the scarred and scorched black rock in every direction. But it's not like the days were very much different from the nights, not anymore. The sky ramped up to a brooding, ruddy red. Light reflected off the ground a bit. That was the only distinction. The last boy on Earth played with two Transformers, an Optimus Prime and a Starscream, that had miraculously survived the inferno along with himself.

  . . .

  The readings didn't make sense. Last year the science ship Atlantica had visited Earth-235 on a routine scouting mission. Their report was sparse. Standard twenty-first century level of development. Nuclear weapons, computers, and crude space ships barely capable of getting as far as the world's moon. The one piece of interest, in fact the entire reason the Victory had been sent to check up on them, was that they were on the verge of discovering hyper-space radio.

  But the remote scanners in the last work shift told a different story. The planet's energy signature was way outside their technology level.

  Colonel Dart read the report from last shift on his tablet. He cycled through the lieutenant colonel's suppositions and theories as to what happened. He skimmed them, reading every twentieth word or so.

  The Victory wasn't his first command. Colonel Dart had been in the Galactic Union Star Corps for just about his entire adult life. His body was strong for his age, thanks to the obsessive amount of time he spent in the ship's gym. Wrinkles crackled along his face and made him look a fair bit older than sixty, despite his actual age and physical condition. He'd seen some dark things in his time. His hair was almost entirely gray, except for a few splotches of light brown sprouting out from the front of his head and throughout his beard.

  He kept skimming the last shift's report, finally reaching the appendix in the end. Mostly it just contained footnotes to mission logs from other starships that encountered similar things, but it also contained graphs of the scans that they'd run.

  The energy scan immediately unnerved him. He'd seen that pattern a long time ago, as a young lieutenant. And that reminded him of his long lost family.

  The energy pattern looked almost precisely like the after effects of a battle in what was commonly called "The War Between the Gods".

  Colonel Dart, never one to believe that these mighty beings might be legitimate deities, instead called it "The Time the Giants Came to Stamp o
n the Ant-Hill".

  The door beeped and slid open. Chief Hayes stepped onto the bridge with Elorg close behind.

  Elorg took one look at his commanding officer and said, "What's the good news?" grimly.

  The colonel handed Chief Hayes his tablet. She quickly skimmed back to the beginning and looked at the first page. It had simple bullet points explaining what the last shift had seen. Elorg reached his cybernetic arm out and downloaded the report through his finger port.

  "Somehow I knew this wouldn't just be a quick 'download their planetary network and figure out their technology level' affair." Elorg said.

  The bell chimed out, telling the crew that it was time for the shift change. The third shift crew waved goodnight to their first shift counterparts and left. Brahma tried to sneak in between them, but Colonel Dart immediately saw him.

  "You're late," the colonel said.

  "I was," Brahma began, "fixing a problem with the gen-o-mat matter generators. Sorry."

  Chief Hayes smirked.

  Colonel Dart ignored him and said, "What can you tell me about your people?"

  "Huh?" Brahma seemed puzzled for a moment. "They like pretending to be gods, or they might actually be gods. That's about all I've picked up from the historical record. I mean, I've never met one of my kind, you know?"

  The colonel grunted.

  "Get to your station," he said. He tapped his communicator. "Dart to Engineering."

  A voice emerged from the ship's computer, "Chief Golem here."

  Colonel Dart said, "I understand you've got a work order for two class-three shield pods. Can you step those up to class-five? And drop the holographics function."

  "That'll be a significant drain on our energy reserves. We'd be running at seventy-five percent power for," Golem stopped for a moment. Everybody knew he was counting on his fingers. Finally, he said, "about twenty-nine hours."

  The colonel thought for a moment. Was it better to protect the away team or the ship itself? Would it matter if they ran into a fully powered god-like energy-being?

  "Do it."

  . . .

  The Starship Victory dropped it's speed as it twisted through the solar system's Kupier Belt down to about double the speed of light. Planets Eris and Pluto appeared just as they should in any other solar system, as did Uranus, Neptune, and Jupiter, as the ship passed them by.

  To the untrained eye the asteroid belt looked completely normal, but a detailed scan would reveal the asteroids' positions to be two percent out of their expected position for an Earth in this time period. Mars and it's moon also had a few too many impact craters. And Planet Ceres was about a percent and a half smaller than it aught to be.

  Mind you, all these things were accounted for by the science ship Atlantica's report. They were well within the standard deviation for an Earth-system. The Starship Victory noticed nothing unexpected until it reached high resolution scanner range, just inside Mars' orbit.

  It's speed dropped again. It crept up toward the Earth slowly and entered orbit.

  Only, it wasn't an Earth, at least not a normal one. Most Earths had continents. You can easily recognize Africa or the Americas on them. Instead of all that detailed land and sea this planet was covered in scorched, black coal.

  . . .

  "Are you looking at these scans?" Golem said, "I kinda wish we had the equipment to make class-six shields."

  Ensign Burroughs pulled his nano-wrench out of the shield pod they were working on. It was just about complete, except that they had to fill it's internal power cells.

  "Tell me about it," Ensign Burroughs said.

  Golem thought, aren't you going to tell me I could upload my brain onto the hypernet? Download myself into a new body if this one gets destroyed?

  Ensign Burroughs said, "I wonder what happened?"

  "I'm sure we'll find out," Golem said, "We always solve any mysteries we encounter."

  Ensign Burroughs nodded.

  Fine, thought Golem. Keep your disrespect for us non-organic life forms to yourself.
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