Imagine a city floating on air.
Tens of thousands of giant platforms with hundreds of blimps mounted on the bottom. All connected to one another by small personal tubes. From there they built up. Buildings and towers and houses, all drifting on the breeze. We now bob up and down while winds faster than the speed of sound pull us along the planet’s sky. Bands of color. Yellow tinted hydrocarbon zones run one way and blue tinted methane belts run the other.
This is planet 2A45KT-A or as we call it, Berns.
Berns… well… Berns is hot. Days are 600 K and nights are 500 K. That didn’t stop Berns from thriving though. It boomed. In a little over five years 80 billion people built 10,000 cities. Enclosed domes which regulated the pressure, the temperature, and quality of the air. Special generators buckled spacetime out so the gravity became livable.
Berns was a metropolis. Factories were built to harvest fuel out of the air. Methane and hydrocarbons. Ancient fuels which still fetched a hefty profit on developing worlds. The workers worked the pumps and their families built their lives. Artist appeared who’d whisk grand colorful sculptures out of the clouds. Tourists came from neighboring systems to see the natural wonders. Hexagon storms, magnificent northern lights, a periodic appearing vertical band on the night face and rings made from shredded glass.
A few large moons housed the elite of the elite. They’d gaze at the colors of Berns and the rest would gaze up at them wishing to be there. Rich.
‘If you work hard you’ll live the high life. The Berns high life.’
So that is what they did. They worked hard. Many made it rich in the fuel rush. From 4321 until 4333 this is where you wanted to be to make bank. Nars needed fuel to run his army and nations needed fuel to stop him. We were happy. Until Plasma ended the conflict.
The requests dried up. The prices plummeted. Berns went bankrupt. In the next half century things went down.The thriving metropolis became the wild west. Gangs of men took control. Those who could afford to flee the planet did just that. The cities became deserted… Berns became deserted.
This is where she was born after. The year is 4414. Her name is Michelle Clanes. She is 25 years old. Her only wish is to leave Berns behind.
Herclet pointed a petite finger. It was white with a blue streak down the middle.
He was of the race Piman. Just like the other twelve races of the Tridecmen his basic body shape was humanoid. However the Piman have three distinguishing traits. First: their natural bodily pigments paint colorful patterns. Second: retractable patagiums allow them to glide like flying mammals. Third: they have, on average, a smaller stature.
Michelle was just a human.
Michelle ran with Herclet close behind.
The two ducked and weaved through the crumbling buildings. Dodging the roving gangs. The ones who now run the city. Scrapping metal. Stealing food. Raping people.
“Shit!” Michelle hissed through her teeth as the two slid behind an overturned transport truck, “Clippers up the block.”
She looked over a gas barrel, “four of them. Looks like two Fumans.”
Michelle paused and looked towards Herclet.
“What’s the play?”
Michelle knew not much about Herclet. She had met him two standard cycles ago while scavenging an old heat shelter. While she was born to this planet of parents who never wanted her, Herclet was not. From what Michelle had gather Herclet’s ship had crashed into Berns while he was traveling. He never said where he was coming from or where he was going. All that Michelle cared about was he had seen the outside world. Something she wished.
He was from beyond here. He was different. He was skilled. He was smart. He burned with one desire and one desire only, to escape Berns… and tonight was the night he’d do it.
“Too risky to fight them head on. We need to use our brains. Give me your Hot Knife.”
Michelle handed it over. A device of her own build. It could melt through steel, bone and even the glass of the city dome. She, too, was smart.
Herclet turned on the Hot Knife. It sounded like a small jet engine and burned hotter than the surface of a star. He punctured a hole in a few of the gas barrels. The heat ignited them.
The duo hopped through a broken window. Cowarding beneath the opening.
The explosion was more show than damaging. The fire shot upwards and flaming drops of gas scattered the street. Dotting it like tears from Hades.
The four men of the Clippers gang turned their gaze. They moved towards the flaming wreckage. Men, memorized by violence.
Several flashes of light and small explosions scattered near the men’s heads. By the time they stopped two were already dead and Herclet was in the process of killing the third.
One more stood. He grabbed a gun from his pocket. Herclet went to dodge. The man shot it towards the sky, a line of white light and black smoke fell from it. A signal flare. Herclet cut his head off in one move.
Herclet and Michelle bolted. No more time to be stealthy… now they just had to make it to their destination before Jyran showed up.
“What’s the count?” Herclet said as he tossed the Hot Knife back to Michelle.
She took a second to think as she hurdled a down street lamp.
“You used my second to last scatter bomb on those men, I got my Hot Knife, three smoke grenades, and a pistol with 5 shots left. Physical not energy.”
Herclet looked ahead as he planed out moves with the information, “not much… shit you still have the core, right?”
“Yeah,” Michelle responded. That was the last piece they needed. Yars and Gevres had built a new ship out of Herclets old one and all the parts they could scavenge. The core was the last piece they needed, very rare, but found. It weighed heavy in her pack.
Nearly there now.
A block away.
A mine built to harvest the atmosphere. It had a long duct which extended deep into the gas clouds of Berns. In the heydays it would scrub out over 400,000 barrels of oil per hour. Now it sits dormant. All it produced just shelved in the warehouse. This was their way out.
“Yars. Gevres. It’s Michelle. Open up.”
She pounded on the door.
The air echoed with ringing metal.
“You final made it!”
Yars greeted them with a large hug. She was old. Hair graying. Skin wrinkling. Body decaying. Yet completely full of life. Her husband Gevres was up, 40 stories, on the cat walk. From Michelle’s perspective he appeared to be waving.
“How’s the ship coming along?” Michelle asked.
“Gevres,” Yars gestured up, “is finishing up some computer diagnostics. It’s all built, just need the core.”
Michelle smiled from half her mouth. She twisted the pack off her shoulder and handed it over.
“Bloody hell, is this it?” Yars asked through her big eyes.
Michelle nodded, “Only place you find cars that use these still are in ancient shops and private collections. Luckily there was one only a few miles away.”
Yars removed a car battery from the pack, “GEVRES,” she yelled “WE GOT THE BATTERY!”
The next hour consisted of Yars, Gevres and Michelle installing the battery and then fueling. It was a large vessel but luckily they were surrounded by decades of oil and they’d need it all. The ship looked stable enough. Some high tech equipment mounted on a less than high tech frame.
The head of the ship was, what Michelle called, a Hot Ram, based on the same design as her knife. The ship would have about two miles of acceleration inside the dome which would hopefully bring it to a high enough speed so the Hot Ram could break through the glass. If it failed the ship would explode and the Clippers would have a spectacular show.
If it succeeded the ship would keep going but now outside of the spacetime buckle the full gravity of Berns would take effect. Hopefully they’d have enough fuel to reach the escape velocity. The ship shined with a rustic glory.
(There was a side effect that no one would mention but all knew. If the ship did puncture the dome then this section of the city would air lock and all tubes to adjacent sections would bolt down. Meaning everyone on the surrounding ten city blocks would be trapped with no means of escape while the hot Berns atmosphere rushed inside and burned them alive.)
Yars placed her arms around the three of them, “Beautiful, ain’t she?”
“Only if it can get me off this fucking hell,” Herclet said.
“It will. Come on Gevres let’s go prep the cockpit.”
The aging couple walked towards the elevator.
“You need to talk more…” Yars said to Gevres as they rode it up.
“Wanna see something cool, Herclet?”
He looked at her then nodded. The two walked over to the thrusters. They. Were. Massive. A small house could fit in each cone and there were many cones. The smell of oil leaked out.
“This is why we needed the core. Remote ignition.”
Michelle held up a daisy-chain of spark plugs which ran along the thrusters rim before connecting to the battery.
“A remote spark. So few devices now a days run on electricity, they all use NDR-47. We needed a spark generator so we could remote ignite the fuel from the cockpit. Other wise one of us would have to do it by hand.”
She placed the cables back down.
“So you built this all?”
“Well I designed it, they built it. We couldn’t have done it with out you though. If you wouldn’t have crashed your ships we wouldn’t have had access to many of the parts we needed and this seven year project would have been a waste. So it’s a good thing you came along.”
“Good for you. Hell for me,” Herclet paused, “What would you have done if I never came along?”
“What we always do. Scavenge. The parts are out there, just with you they fell into our lap.”
“HEY MOTHER FUCKER!” The voice range out through the massive hanger. It echo off the walls then back again. Yars and Gevres were to high up in the cockpit to hear but Michelle and Herclet turned their heads. It was Jyran.
“You the two motherfuckers who killed my crew?” Jyran pressed towards them knocking over equipment with his weapon. Behind him were a half dozen of his men.
Herclet thought for a moment before speaking into his com device, “How’s it looking up there Yars?”
“Almost done actually. Get in the elevator, we’ll be ready by the time you’re here.”
Herclet grabbed Michelle’s arm and the two ran once more.
“Hell no you don’t! Grab ’em!”
One of Jyran’s crew, a Muman known for their size and extreme muscle mass, lunged towards the duo. One hit sent Michelle flying across the room coughing a spray of blood. The Muman grabbed Herclet by the neck and slammed him into a table.
“You two grab his wings.”
Two of Jyran’s lackeys pulled out the patagiums which were tucked into Herclets sides. They were white with red and blue bulls-eyes.
“I’m gonna teach you to never mess with me.”
Jyran pulled a serrated blade out of it’s holster. The rust covered metal shimmered in the air. Jyran stabbed it right through the bulls-eyes and began to slice the skin all the way to the edge. Herclet’s screams brought Michelle back to reality.
The Hot Knife landed in the back of the Muman’s skull. A series of flashes and explosions went off by the men’s head. Michelle ran up pulling out the Hot Knife and cutting off the head of one of Jyran’s lackeys. Four left plus the man himself.
With out skipping a beat she popped off a shot. One down… then two… three… the fourth nearly closed the distance before a slug opened the back of his skull. Just Jyran left.
“Oh now you’ve done it.”
Jyran chucked a wrench at Michelle. She dodged it but he was already on her. He tackled her to the floor and her knife slid towards a bleeding Herclet.
“Help!” Michelle shouted at him blocking a punch.
Herclet didn’t even have to think. He picked up the knife and walked over. A trail of blood leaking from his wing. Jyran was still hammering at Michelle. She was blocking all the punches she could. Herclet went for the killing blow.
Well I am glad I finally was able to put this story to paper… er I mean put this story to website. Not gonna lie it didn’t turn out the way I expected. That’s not to say its a bad thing, no, its just a side effect of trying to write a short story every week. That being said I think I am getting better at writing stories faster. The end post is becoming better each time. They’re not as good as like Butterflies and Machineguns Pt 1, Ch II which is without a doubt my favorite thin I have ever written but I also spent three months on those 2500 words. I guess what I am saying is for a beginner such as myself I should sacrifice a little quality now for extra quantity so that my later work will have superb quality.
If anyone is interested here are some stats i calculated for Berns:
Type: Hot Jupiter
Surface Gravity: 146.682 m/s^2
Mass: 1.9*10^28 kg
Radius: 91975 km
Density: 6.033 g/cm^3
Semi Major Axis: .13 au
Semi Minor Axis: .129941 au
This actually makes it a near brown drawf or, in other words, very close to being a star. I have yet to do the math but it’s host star is going to be a small red dwarf so Berns and this star may actually be closer to being a binary pair then star/planet system.
Also I am working on a reference sheet for all thirteen races and how they differ from one another. I hope to reveal some of it through story telling but this sheet should clear things up.
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