Tuesday’s Tale, 7/18/2017.

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Anyone care to guess where this is going?

At any rate, five minutes on the clock and away we go –

“How certain are you?” Mr. Smith asked as soon as Jenkins had left.

“Better than eighty percent,” Jones replied, clenching his hands.

“Evacuation plans?”

“Not for anything this big. We have some idea, but….”

“Do what you can. Start setting it all in motion, on my authority, and I’ll sign off on whatever you need.”

It won’t be enough, Jones thought; it won’t be nearly enough.

“What are you doing? Quit wasting time! get out of here and start calling. I’ll do the same from my end.”

“And the president?” Jones asked over his shoulder as he lunged for the door.

“I’ll let him know. You do what you can, you’re covered.”

“Yes, sir,” Jones said. The door closed and Mr. Smith fell into his chair.

“We’ll all do what we can,” he told the empty room.

And that’s where I have to stop… because have you ever had your dog come to you, whining, needing to go out RIGHT NOW? Because that just happened, and so I lost two minutes. Sorry, but there are no restarts on this train, we roll down the tracks with what we have. See you next week, and if you have a guess on where this is going, feel free to let me know.

Tuesday’s Tale, 7/11/2017.

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Alright, I’ve been missing some time. I’ve no excuse for it, and I apologize. But I’m back now and ready to go. So, five minutes on the clock and a new tale to tell:

He abandoned all pretense of control and dignity, hurrying down the hall at the best run his aged legs could offer him.

He drew stares of course, but they were pointless now; meaningless. He paid them as little mind as he did the secretary who was even now rising from her seat with a half-hearted “Mr. Jones, you can’t go in there, he’s in a meeting! Mr. Jones!”

He was indeed in a meeting, with a young man who still had the glow of idealism on his cheeks. For a murderous moment, Mr. Jones envied that young man.

He shut the door as the two fell silent; then closed the distance remaining to the old man who had risen straight-backed from his large chair, and bent to whisper in one gray swaddled ear.

Mr. Jones took some satisfaction in the way his words drained the blood from the other man’s face.

Mr. Smith, however, was made of stern stuff. “Jenkins, leave us.”

And there you have it: five minutes and a paragraph. I’ll be along next week to add to it.

Tuesday’s Tale, 6/13/2017.

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Would you believe I’m still sick? Well, it’s true, but I’m well enough this time to pull more words out of my posterior, so away we go!

The message was an order to avoid contact and observe. Oops. It also stated outright what he already knew – that the spectrometer readings of the samples he took were amazingly dense and would be very useful to the company.

Which meant it was time to tell them the bad news; He fired off his reply and report along with several scans and images taken of the new species he had found, documenting carefully that the insects (for lack of a better term) were both intelligent and either hostile or territorial.

Due to the way inter-species law worked, that would mean the planet were off limits unless or until the species could both sign a treaty or contract for mineral rights, and understand what they were signing; humanity remembered it’s own past, and if some alien race had mined all the precious metals and fuel sources on Earth before technology had developed, well, he wouldn’t be here.

Lastly, he set up a beacon; one that would only activate in order to send a message when a ship actually reached the atmosphere of the planet; the message would confirm the planet had been scouted, minerals had been found, but the planet was declared off limits due to the law none had ever seen employed before.

He smirked; no doubt his beacon irritate all those hordes of scientists that would be on their way.

A quick flip of a switch and the beacon fired, drilling down into the bedrock and out of sight; with a stable power source and no way to find it, there would be no way to shut it off and pretend it never existed. With the range shortened, there would be no way for future pirates to triangulate the signal and find the planet with it. He had done all he could.

A last look showed the insect family or whatever they were, still out there, watching. He gave them a salute out of the porthole and gently brought the engines up to power.

They took the hint and flew back, out of the way, though they stayed in visual range. He took off and sped away; there was another likely planet in this system, and it had an interesting, molten moon. He wondered what it looked like from its planet with the atmosphere filtering the light.

And there we have it, the end. I cheated a little, the time came in at five minutes and fifty seconds. Until next time, with another tale to write quick seat of my pants chapters on.

Tuesday’s Tale 5/30/2017.

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I missed another week, as all of you obviously know by now. I can only apologize and plead forbearance with my health issues. The conclusion of this little mini-tale begins!

There were two survivors, both in no shape to make war. One was a man missing a leg, the bloody stump of which I cauterized and sealed for him, and the other tried to charge me from behind some wreckage, a steel strut in hand. I relieved her of the strut and she rapped herself on the head in the process, so I took the opportunity to seal her suit.

I turned to the man again, only to find him beyond any help of mine, some of those needles from my alien insect friends buried in his gut. The girl had suffered the same treatment as soon as my head turned.

Well okay then.

I held my hands up, a gesture I hoped they understood and started backing away. For my part, my possible friends just buzzed around and watched me go.

Whether they understood me or not or just recognized me as different than the scum that looked much like me, I made it back to the airlock without incident. I breathed a sigh of relief at not getting stuck.

A red blinking light was on my console, indicating a message from the home office.

Okay, so I lied a bit. I couldn’t finish in five minutes, so I’ve got one more part – the fun part – to go. See you then!

Tuesday’s tale. 5/16/2017.

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I missed another week. I should probably see a doctor or something, but whatever.

Five minutes on the clock, and away we go:

People often underestimated what a full-scale pulse of signals across all known frequencies of the civilized galaxy can do, especially at close range. It wasn’t perfect because the interference caused me to lose control as well, but I was ready for it when my controls went mostly unresponsive and already boosting up at dizzying speed in order to break line of sight and make sure I didn’t fall back to the planet.

It worked, the missiles augered into the ground under me. I had a clear line of fire, so I took it and buried my beacon in the rusting outer hull of the ship. As expected, they fired more missiles.

As expected, I watched them curl around, following my second beacons hijacking IFF signal. The pirate managed to detonate them… but too late. The explosions tore half the ship apart, and it fell.

By some lucky coincidence, most of it fell in the crater it made, filling it.

Well, it wasn’t likely they were a threat now; I should probably go see if there were any survivors. I set my own ship down well away and locked up just in case.

And that’s it. I’ll try and write the finale next week, but we will see how that goes.

Tuesday’s tale, 5/2/2017.

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Alright, I’m here. Five minutes on the clock, and away we go:

The pirate ship did detect the launch of course. Even an old garbage scow would manage that, and pirates who couldn’t detect propellant launches wouldn’t eat. In seconds the response came; two missiles (which surprised him, as he expected more) and pulse lasers attempting to paint his hull.

The lasers were pointless of course, they would never raise enough heat to thwart his ship’s panels before he moved. The missiles were the real problem, and from the way the ship was maneuvering it had to have a slug thrower of some kind, probably in the nose.

I set my ship to skate along the crater and fired more chaff, right into what the computer calculated was the path of the pulse lasers. That was enough to defeat the missiles, even with the improved targeting.

Well, it would have been if they had been heat or signature guided. Instead, it seemed as if the missiles fired were being guided by a human.

Perhaps by radio signal.

I didn’t have jamming technology, not on the scale needed to stop a ship transmitter, but maybe I could make do.

And that is it for the week; Time elapsed is right at five minutes. The finale for this one should be next week. See you then.

Tuesday’s tale, 4/25/2017.

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I will eventually stop sucking.

But for now, time to write another bit. Five minutes on the clock and away we go:

The drone found the pirates right where I expected them to be; taking to the air looking for me. The problem with this was my own ship to ship weapons weren’t the best; I was a company scout craft after all. My best defense was to run.

No running now though; if they caught me taking off I’d likely die. I was a fair pilot, but there was only so much I could do.

I wasn’t out of options yet though. All I needed was for them to cross over to scan my new crater home. And there they were, right on time….

So I activated my communications buoy array. The buoy array fired a small communications signal booster out of a small rail cannon. It wasn’t normally enough to do much, but if the buoy itself had its payload altered, say with a highly volatile acid used normally used for engine cleaning. In its concentrated form, it would eat through the sturdiest of ship hulls; I would miss it long term, but if I lost here I wouldn’t have a long term.

And that is it for the week. See you next one… unless I’m sick again.