Tuesday’s Tale, 7/11/2017.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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, 2/7/2017.


Alright, you all know what time it is by now. Five minutes on the clock, no plot and no safety net. Let’s see how far we get.

The pirates started firing back at the prepared positions, the slaved AI terminals taking a beating. But they were never more than a distraction at best. the real threat was his old rifle. A relic from the days when all of humanity was on one planet, the thing used gas from explosive powder to fire a small lead bullet at a target.

Once upon a time there were even armor to protect against such things but in modern times such armor was usually spotty at best; not everyone had it. And the gun, venerable as it was, was an efficient killing machine hard to match with modern technology.

He took his time, lining up the first shot. Not the faceplate, not center mass, those would be the best protected. Just under the ring joint under the neck? The perfect spot; even the best suit had a tendency to wear there.

One down, and he had to give them credit; the pirates nearest him shifted aim immediately to pin him down. Of course, he was already moving, so it was pointless, but he appreciated the effort.

Best I can do today; total time elapsed was four minutes and 52 seconds. See you next week!

Tuesday’s tale, 1/31/2017.


Another Tuesday, which means another five minutes. The clock is now set, and, action!

They came at him as a squad; a ragged squad, but a squad nonetheless. two by two or three by three formation, moving from cover to cover in reasonably good order. Their weapons were pointed forward and everything.

He met them with laser fire.

It wasn’t like all those old classic movies, of course. There were no colored beams of light with pew noises, easily tracked. Instead, his laser was a consistent beam that could not be seen or heard whose sole stopping power was the ability to puncture a suit… if you could keep the beam on someone long enough.

You couldn’t actually dodge such a thing if the person behind it was good enough, not for long, but you could take cover. The tell-tale interior heat climb as your suit started cooking was a giveaway, though, which is why this type of weapon was hardly used. Some had a tendency to forget they even existed.

They had their uses, though. When tied to a combat AI, even the crudest, the weapon could be placed on a tripod and used to stop attackers. After all, it didn’t need to puncture suits to work, just make itself out to be a threat. Even for the few minutes the power pack lasted.

Human nature would do the rest.

Both squads hunkered down behind rocks or brush, looking for the person lighting their suits up.

And that’s it for this week. Enjoy that cliff, and see you next week!