Fringe – An Introduction

This short story was created in a new universe that I’m excited to be launching this year. I hope you enjoy!

 


The crew of the city ship caught many of the new borders off guard. Many were greeted with hugs, instead of the usual ‘hello’ and ‘welcome aboard’. Some got smooched on the cheek, or ‘goosed’ as older earthlings might call it. That last one didn’t typically go over well. To an on looker, it was truly amusing. Random reactions were just the start of things.

A young woman with soft purple eyes snickered when one of the welcoming committee leaned in a little too close to a gentleman and got shoved on their bottom for it. The Doesi were as affected as the humans. Who knew …silly thought really because naturally, she knew they would all be.

A simple gas changed the way each of them behaved. It was resourceful, simple, and paved the way for her to do the things she wanted to do. City ships were shopping centers and rarely visited the fringe. Elaborate hotel style rooms, shopping hall after shopping hall offered the best Earth and Menlos had to offer. The plethora of options made things easy for the resourceful type of person. She planned to take advantage of it, and the small explosions she set about the ship and station. The city ship would be docked for several days. Might even stay a week on the medical station, once they learn about the gas being dispersed throughout their ventilation systems.

She placed a small mask over her nose and mouth. Activating the stealth feature allowed her to blend into the crowd stepping into the ship. Someone grabbed her arm and she spun, smiled, winked, and moved on.

The bag over her shoulder felt heavy and it was time to begin to empty it. The Doesi hybrid walked among the crowd, following the group going to the entertainment center of the ship. It was a smooth transition from elaborate entrance to over-the-top decorated event halls.

Lights flashed. Each sound tried to be louder than the last. The carpet in this section was thick, cushioned, deep red. A high energy color for a high energy place. She knew the entire design of the area was dedicated to the stalls, gambling halls, and event stages. Everything was intended to draw people in and encourage them to spend money. Granted, it didn’t work for every species in the galaxy, but this city ship catered to specific species who were easily drawn in with these designs. Thankfully, that meant the whole area would be distracted.

Distracted was good.

A man walked up behind her, much too close. “You look nice from behind.”

She laughed. The gas was working fast for the new comers. “Thanks.”

He shifted positions to be able to take her hand and she pulled back. He smiled. “Awaa, come on. We’ll have fun!”

He was so enthusiastic she almost had to remind herself it was the gas talking. “I have to take care of a few little things first. Tell me how to reach you and I’ll follow up when I’m done.”

“Promise?”

“Sure could.” She laughed.

He pulled up contact information and sent it right to her. He moved off with high energy in his step. Within a few minutes, she noticed he was already talking to another pretty face.

The woman made her way through one of the larger venues to the far end. There would be another ventilation system for this area. Once she was hidden away a small ball was lifted from her bag. She placed it in the ventilation shaft and stepped back out to the large room. A few minutes later a small explosion spread the amorous gas throughout the room.

She continued to breathe normally through her mask.

A soft buzz in her ear told her she needed to get somewhere private. She moved out of the main event venue, into the hallways filled with people. She was confident this was not going to be heard with this crowd. Tapping her earpiece once she began, “Oh, hi. Long time no hear from. So sorry it’s loud. So many people are here for the city ship. Are you?” She spoke with a smile on her face.

The voice in her ear responded. “If you prefer to listen that will be fine. We have acquired several of the items you ventured to obtain. I will provide the data to you directly.”

“Great. Did you have any requests?”

“No, I do not.”

“Always so formal about things. You should relax. Let things go sometimes.” Her partner was always even-toned, rarely emotional, even more rarely did she get excited about anything. “Should we look into that boat we were talking about?”

“That would be advisable. The more established boat could use several.”

“That’s fantastic. I should let you get back to the programming and things. Touch base later?”

“Understood.” A brief pause was punctuated by, “Luz, watch yourself.”

“Don’t worry about me. Cover your end and yourself. We’ll be good.” Luz tapped her earpiece again and continued down the hall. As she moved she did her best to avoid jostling the small gaseous bombs in her bag. There were intended destinations. A crowded hallway, while entertaining, was not the right location for maximum disbursement.

Once she entered a room filled with on-board pools, she grinned. It was one of those places she’d love to relax if she didn’t have something else to accomplish. She walked right into the room for maintaining this section of the ship and settled one of her little bombs in a strategic location.

Luz took in the visitor room as she moved out of the pool closet. So many people clad in tiny clothing playing in the water enticed her almost to distraction. The small explosion brought her back to her senses. Two more needed placed and she had extras if needed.

Luz found a group touring the functional parts of the ship. She joined the tour and followed the crowd. It didn’t take much to identify which members of the crew were already being affected by her gas. Some were giddy despite sharing historical details about the ship. When they moved the group around a corner, a tour guide ran into the wall. He laughed so hard there was no way to tell he hit a wall.

The tour continued to walk past the medical center, which had a large glass wall. They watched the nurses and staff unload supplies. The guide spoke about something they should know if they were going to be on the ship. She was fascinated by the items they were loading. Few were the ones she marked on the station though. There were many who could benefit from the supplies. Unfortunately, they were not her target.

She followed the tour along the hallway, through the ship, and into the food area. The tour would linger here long enough for her to step away and return, unnoticed. She did. As they left the area an hour later a small explosion could be heard. Luz smiled.

The group followed through the halls to the nerve center of the ship. There the typical manner of management for the large ship was explained. They were introduced to members of the senior ship staff. Luz was impressed with the smooth nature of their organization. The captain almost made her regret having to gas the crew.

A short while later, as they left the bridge, a small explosion was heard. A few moments later laughter seemed to roll off the bridge as the door slid shut. Luz continued along with the tour as they moved towards the engineering section. An hour after she was confident the crew was fully compromised, Luz began working. Her first stop was to the shuttle stores. Nothing they had there would be what she needed, but she found one that would be a good base. She set up several pattern enhancers.

These enhancers provide a method of identifying the molecular design of any person or item. It could then send that information elsewhere to be constituted. From energy to physical form was no small feat. It wasn’t something she or her partner used often because of the demands on resources. Today the process was needed.

Once the enhancers had been set up, Luz took a walk. She identified small items first in the ship she was using as a base, then in the store as a whole. She could not find parts in the store. Instead, she began selecting parts she knew they required and placed them in the enhancer. She tapped her earpiece and continued to lift parts they needed. When she felt as though there were plenty in the location, she contacted her partner again. “I am moving onto our next resource gathering. These should both be helpful for the distraction and the ship.”

“Understood. Are we on schedule?” “We are. I will be in contact once I have acquired the target.” Luz disconnected the conversation and left the small ship. She walked through the city ship to the engineering section. Thanks to the tour, it was an easy walk.

She pocketed a few items before getting information from one of the crewmen. He shared various expectations of the crew with her that helped her determine what the next distraction should be. She slipped into a small hidden closet when the opportunity presented itself. There she reprogramed a small flat device to project an electrical overcharge. After leaving it flat against the panel, she walked away.

The next stop was the brig, she waited by the front. It was a waiting area likely for family members to pick up drunk associates. A few minutes later the power dropped then shifted to backup in the brig. “Oh, no!” Luz looked at the guard. “My brother was going to meet me here. Is it still safe?”

The guard smiled at her and nodded. “Of course it is.” He pinched his brows. “Why was he going to meet you down here?”

“He said he was bringing an unwanted guest from our ship here so they could return to the main worlds for trial.” She shrugged. “Do you want the transfer files?”

“Yes, please. We can get that done before he gets here.” The low red light was enough for her to watch his hands move across the tablet.

She leaned forward and placed a hand on the surface. The surface resulted in the name, ‘Pollyanna Ura Tinx’. She smiled.

“Well, Miss Pollyanna. This has you listed as a bounty partnership with your brother Pho Tinx. I assume you’ve got all the paperwork in order?”

“I do, Mister…” She smiled then bit her lower lip as she trailed off. “I’m sorry, what is your name?”

“You can call me Phil.” His grin grew and he leaned closer to her.

“Well, Phil, where should I submit the data?” She walked her fingers up his arm. “Or should I just fill you in on all the details?”

“I am happy to take the information either way.” He winked. “I’ll let you pick.”

Luz sat on the desk, slid a hand into her pocket, then touched his face softly. “I think we should do the paperwork and plan to have a special conversation once we’re done.”

Phil nodded, pulled up the data port, yawned, sat, then began snoring.

Luz shook her head. “That was far too easy.” She grabbed his credentials, including a copy of his palm print, and made her way into the brig. As she walked, lit by the red light and soft hum, she identified a strange cell at the end. “Of course they’d put her in there. I bet they have the environmental controls wrong too.”

Luz stood outside the cell, made a clicking sound, and waited for a response. When it came, she took a few moments to identify a way to get the room opened. It was not the same as the others, even in the closure. She studied the lock, used the palm print she obtained, and input a few coded details. The door opened with the sound of gas rushing into the room. Luz’s stomach tightened. The door slid open.

On the other side stood a tall, slender woman with thin and white skin. Her large dark eyes encompassed her face, but the skin was recessed against her skeleton. Luz clicked twice and the woman’s head gestured towards her gently.

She exhaled. “I’m glad you’re as okay as you can be. Now, let’s get you home.” The woman’s head lowered again and returned upright. Luz unzipped a pocket and pulled out a large cloak. “This will keep you warm and covered while we move to our vessel.” The woman put on the cloak. Luz also handed her a small packet. “This has sustenance to help you make it through. Something fitting for you instead of a human or a doesi.”

The woman’s hands reached out and grabbed the small packet with great care in her six fingers. After several minutes the colors in the brig began to shift. Luz started out of the detainment center and moved back among the crowd. She knew, as long as they stuck together, things would be fine. The pair pushed through the halls at a much slower pace than Luz could have gone on her own. The people were still distracted, laughing, and she had at least one more explosion planned far from where they were going.

They would be fine.

The gas would not affect her friend, nor would she be affected thanks to her mask. Several members of the bridge crew were in the gambling hall as they walked by. Luz knew they would get through this without problem. Another ship might be more prepared, but one that visited the fringe didn’t expect anything like this.

They should have.

Luz knew they had no idea what she was capable of. They didn’t even know she was there. The crew knew people she allowed them to see. Among the tour, she was a timid mother and a flirty university student. In engineering, she was one of them. In the brig, she was a bounty hunter. Here, among the crowd, she was just one of the visitors who were finding their inhibition’s gone, their amorous emotions amplified, and ability to be easily swayed ready for a sober mind to take advantage of.

They pushed through the throngs of people. Once they reached the shuttle bay of the ship, she found a unique exit. She turned and looked at the much taller woman. “We’ve got one more loud noise and then we will be out of here.” The woman nodded again, in her exaggerated manner.

Luz knew she was understood, but also knew the woman didn’t speak their language well.

A noise resonated along the hull of the large city ship. The vibration shook the floors. A rush of people raced from the cargo hold. Luz indicated a small door on the outer edge of the room. Her associate followed and they stepped off that ship, onto the station. Within minutes they were in another vessel on their way to her home world and from there Luz’s ship. Luz tapped her ear piece. “Target acquired.”

“Distraction successful,” crackled over the line. “I will prepare your arrival.”

“See you soon.”

Abstract scientific background – planets in space, nebula and stars. Elements of this image furnished by NASA nasa.gov

#30ShortStoriesin30Days Challenge Story

Inspirational motivation quote Every moment is a story

“I have learned that many people have their own approach to many things.” She spun around with her skirt flaring a bit. Her warm expression met the students’ gaze. “That includes for gathering information.” One of the students nodded. The young woman smiled and walked to the whiteboard. “Let’s demonstrate this.”

She wrote out several lines of information on the board. They were not connected or structured. “Here is your exercise. All of the information you need is on the board. Your job is to get into a group of three and connect that data yourselves in a way that answers the question: What are we working on next?”

One of the screens in front of her indicated they had a question. “How can I help you, Matty?”

“How are we going to group up, Ms. Mason?”

“You’ll pair up through the secondary room assortment. It’s an option built into the virtual conference room we’re using. It’s like having mini-rooms. You have five minutes to take down the notes on the board. While you’re doing that, I’ll get the rooms arranged.” She smiled and settled behind her computer. She set a timer because the situation often challenged her measurement of time in a way things never did before. She began mentally sorting the rooms, trying to remember who had been friends. Once she sorted things the way she expected to, she initiated but didn’t activate the first room. As the timer went off, she stood again and walked in front of the camera and whiteboard. “All set?”

Much like it would normally have been, she heard the class all start speaking at once. The patient teacher allowed them to yammer on about one thing or another for a few minutes before she clapped loudly. “Come, come. I’m going to separate the rooms. You’ll work out the problem and in twenty five minutes I’ll rejoin all of us to discuss the next plan.”

The groans almost made everything sound normal. She settled down, activated the rooms as she recalled the intention to do so. While they worked on their projects, she began creating a quick survey to assess how well they worked together. She then worked to grade their prior assignments.

It didn’t take long before that timer expired. She popped into each of the groups to check on them. By the time she had spent time in each of the smaller groups, she brought them back together for a moment before moving onto their next class. She updated the virtual classroom for each of them to leave their group’s name and guess. They closed the virtual classroom, Cynthia Mason pulled up her mask and took this moment to make her way to the cafeteria for lunch.

It was an hour earlier than her usual time, but with the current limitations, she didn’t want to complicate things. After paying for her meal through a quick touchless method, she took it back to her classroom. There she tied into another teacher who was also on a break and they discussed the changes at length. So much would stay the same, but other parts had changed.

Daily students would come into the school. Some students in some classes attend live. Some students would always attend virtually. Now, she had finished the first virtual class. This was going to take some getting used to. The friend she was speaking with felt the same. As the next class began, she smiled to see a few students actually enter the classroom. She encouraged them to sit at the color seats that fit their assigned group.

Despite the masks, she still enjoyed conversation with the students. They spoke at length about the new situation, the adjustments, and the school year going forward. As the class period came to an end, she shared the class’s online home with the students. “When you get home tonight, please log in and tell me what you remember from our class today.”

The group funneled out with the occasional, “Remember social distancing,” reminder as they go out the door. Once the room is quiet again, Ms. Mason returned to her desk to assess what she has left for the day. With only one more class period, she examined the roster and one or two students meandered in. She stopped them briefly while she whipped down three desks. Once she felt satisfied, they sat down and she began the camera again. As the bell started the class, she created the meeting room that automatically emailed all of the students assigned to the class.

“Please, take out your Chromebooks, and let’s connect with your new classmates.” She smiled and waited for the students to begin logging in. Once her board indicated the whole class was logged in, she began discussing the new year ahead. She was better about going over the instructions and information than at the start of the day. She felt confident about the adjustment to work going forward.

She sent her last class off with a greeting and encouragement for the remote learning period for the next day or two.

The next hour was spent wiping down doors, pencils, boxes, tables, and the like. Everything her students could have touched, breathed on, or encountered got sanitized. She reflected on the differences again. Cleaning was always a part of the day. It wasn’t stepped up by much this year, but she could look forward to knowing they were going to run an additional army of sanitizing janitors cleaning every part of every classroom every night for the remainder of the school year.

They would be healthier, better prepared, and resilient. She knew this class of students would be the most resilient students she ever taught because, like she and her peers, they will have adapted to unique challenges throughout the year. This year, no matter what faced them, it was going to be a good year.

Everyone worked diligently to make that happen. After her first day with her students, she knew they would be too.

She prepared the next morning’s online class, then closed her classroom door for the night.