This is the beginning of a series of short stories and novellas based on a fantasy/sci fi idea I’ve had bouncing around in my head since 2014.
You can also find a version of this written as a Doctor Who story over on FF.Net under the title of “In Media Res” with the role of Barbara Risque filled in by Barbara Wright
AN EARTHLY LANGUAGE
“Ms. Risqué? Ms. Risqué, are you awake?” came the soothing electronic voice of a glistening metallic orb hovering over Barbara’s head as she groggily rose from her failed attempt at a peaceful night’s sleep.
“Yes, not surprisingly” she said irritatingly, rubbing her eyes. She stared out the observation window of the SS Gallus, and was dismayed to find the ship had not budged from its position.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“The time is now Quarter Apex to Starlight Pinnacle”
“In an earthly language, that’s quarter to seven I’m sure”
“Numbers again Ms. Risqué?”
“Oh I’m sorry; I do forget my place every so often here. Night Delta Apex, NDA, is that what you want to hear?”
“It is an adequate guess”
“My guess is as good as yours” Barbara remarked
“Ms. Risque, you are implying that I have zero accuracy in cataloguing our present co-ordinates”
“Navigation requires a lot of luck where I come from, I don’t believe that is a concept understood by machines”
“By luck you are referring to the chance encounter that led your travel machine and it’s pilot directly to our door”
“Yes, our travel machine, something we’d like very much to have back at some point”
“Commander Marcus was quite adamant you were to regain control of the machine once you were able to secure the vote for planet-fall”
“We already send the children down there to pick up rocks and plant small seeds, there’s no reason why adults can’t go for a little r’n’r too, maybe even settle there, raise families in the clear air and with clearer heads”
“The vote is to determine visiting hours specifically for all generations; settlement is out of the question”
“And who’s fault is that? Marcus is too stubborn, he’s content to treat everyone on this station like they’re the workload. I feel bad for the kids. Soon as they graduate, their privileges are stripped from them too. Those moments they spend on the planet surface is like subjecting a tired soul into the glistening light of a dead sun, something happens to them, they go from rowdy to relaxed. People above their age on this station are always on edge, always on toes, like they’re waiting for a war to start. Why can’t they be more like the children on that planet? Why can’t the children be allowed to stay this way? That’s what the vote means to me, yet so few are willing to come forward and suggest that maybe this kind of life just isn’t best for them”
Barbara looked distantly into the field of stars visible through her observation window.
“How can I hope to secure a vote when I can’t even tame Marcus or his hounds” Barbra asked as she finally got out of bed and slipped her feet into her shoes, she sprung up and waltzed past the cube.
“I am not an animal” the cube replied, it’s perfect English sounding distinctly distorted, almost as if he were trying to convey he took offence to the comparison and was trying to sound annoyed.
“Let me make one last pitch to the council regarding the importance of the vote, if I can get them on my side, they can spur the people on”
“They will not permit you an audience without consultation with Captain Marcus, and you are presently barred from seeing him”
“Then send one of my students up to him, they can give him a presentation, have them plead my case. He’ll listen to the children, he always has”
The cube’s colour changed from emerald green to shimmering yellow, as if to acknowledge that the request had been approved. It hovered towards the doors to the quarters. They slid open and permitted it to make its exit.
Barbara tended to her laundry, eager to do away with some of the time on her hands by indulging in a little ironing.
As she took her ironing board out of a fairly stacked cupboard, she took notice of an illustration attached to the right side of the wall, a crudely drawn picture of a tree with three domes attached to branches at the top of it in place of lush green leafs. Inside the domes were small buildings.
Barbra looked longingly at the illustration, something a student in her class had drawn for her based off of her stories.
This picture was all in this particular time or place that could remind her of the ongoing urgency she and her friends scattered across the station were faced with.
The children thought very highly of her, she would miss them when the time came.
THE ERROMATE SAGA WILL CONTINUE