Rings of Polaris By Paul Alan

May 2, 2019
Rings of Polaris Cover

Rooted in science fiction, the narrative is deeply invested in the emotional side of its main players. ‘Rings of Polaris’ fuses science fiction, dystopian, and action – in an adventure giving Arthur C. Clarke a run for his money. Readers are invited to strap in with  Rebel Lexis on a mission across the vast wasteland that was once Earth to the surface of Mars. While nobody will deny science fiction’s timeless popularity, both readers and critics are currently crying out for wholly-unique new narratives that don’t succumb to recycling of the “same old” concepts. Thankfully, Paul Alan has stepped up to the plate with gusto, serving up a compelling new series.

About Author: Through unexpected characters and vivid prose, Paul Alan explores the varied landscape of science fiction. Alan’s interest in science often informs his writing. His first three action packed books, Rebel Lexis, Giants of Mars, and Star Child are deeply rooted in Science Fiction’s timeless popularity. He lives in Chicago, Illinois where he plots his next story arc.

Excerpt

“Rings of Polaris is strictly a work of fiction and any characters within this book resembling any real persons is purely coincidental. Digging deep in a Martian Desert men discovered an enormous brain.  It suddenly started to think to them – So they covered it up again…” Brian Aldiss

REBEL LEXIS Book 1 PART 1 ENZYMATIC CONVERSION GALACTIC TWIRL

“Are you unfolding me, Jason?” “There may be a measure of intent with my objectives.” “Opening your heart can be difficult but there are always times for love, Jason.” “You say, ‘Love exists,’ but I tend to disagree. However, you make moments like this seem real.” Jason’s words smoothly pour from his lips as he caresses Lexis’s soft skin, and continues saying, “I am flush with desire…and you endlessly fill my head with emotional booby traps. They’re like tiny little explosive devices, preset to explode in demonstrative, mind-blowing, synaptic pleasures. Just touching your delicate layers, exposes me for the fraud I tend to be…”

“Why would you call yourself such a thing, Jason?” Lexis asked in a dismissive tone while gently running her fingers down the small of his muscular back. “When I’m with you, nothing else matters, and I can throw all my fears in the ravine of malcontent, distrust, and bitterness. Maybe it’s your addictive nature that breaks down my walls turning my blood into a torrid fiery liquid, burning a hole in my chest…” Lexis leaned close into Jason’s neck, where she then subtly kissed the area below his ear, before whispering, “I find you irresistible… I love stripping away your rigidly rough, and hard exterior, it excites me almost as much as your sensual touch. And the feel of your warm hands on my skin… I am the one who folds under the pressure of your sensuous affect, revealing my most inner layers.”

Jason firmly pulled Lexis’s curvy body tight up against his, and the two slowly began to spin in a romantic twirl. Held in orbit of one another’s embrace, the forces of the low gravitational remediation sleep chamber, caused them to drift. Amorously floating, they affectionately understood each other under the clear canopy display of the massive spiraling Galaxy. Lexis and Jason erotically spun below the raging light show of the huge star formation blazing in absolute perfection. Rotating counter clockwise in the dark recess of space, the two passionately challenged the very depths of their sexuality, over-shadowing the immensity of the stellar beauty surrounding them. They got lost in each other’s eyes, becoming one. “Jason, I love you…” Lexis passionately exclaimed between their heavy breathing, and after she firmly grabbed his gluts with both hands, she momentarily stopped his movement, and continued saying, “…tell me that you love me…say it, Jason!” “You unfold me too, splaying out the remnants of a once broken heart, and for that, I do love you.”

Floating among the vastness of space, they kissed under the erotic dance of their bodies’ embrace. She squeezed her legs around his firm masculine frame, and became transfixed on her desire. She moaned in succession, tilting her waist rhythmically. Jason pivoted his pelvis in return, maximizing the pleasure. Minds filled with ecstasy, their naked physiques began encouraging each other for a simultaneous climactic ending. “Jason!” “Lexis!” “Jason!” “Oh, Lexis!” “No, it’s Sofia!”

EIGHTEENTH PARALLEL

“What, Sofia? And why did you wake me?” “Jason, we are approaching the Eighteenth Parallel,” she answered over the intercom system. “I still have twenty-three minutes on my sleep program,” grumbled Jason as he rubbed away the eye matter. “You did not really want to dream about that woman, anyways.” “Yes, I did, Sofia, that’s why Rebel Lexis was programmed into my dream sequence… I get real unpleasant when I don’t get all my REM sleep.” “Do you turn into Mister Grumpy Pants?” “It’s Mister, Captain Grumpy Pants, Sofia,” Jason said with vexation after peeling the dream patch off his left shoulder, and tossing it into the garbage receptacle. “God, I’m so turned on…” Jason whispered quietly, thinking about the dream he was having. “It is very nice,” complimentarily Sofia added. “What’s nice?” “The size of your affection.” “Thank you, Sofia…however, some things are private.” Jason rolled his eyes, and stretched inside the Low Gravitational Remediation Sleep Chamber. “What is private, Jason?” “Like the size of my morning wood.  Geez!” “Your seven-inch’s are private?” “Yes, Sofia.” “How is that possible, Jason? I have seen many of your growing spurts, and you have plenty when you sleep. No pun intended.” Sofia giggled.

“Change of subject,” he concluded, and then asked, “How are the Chameleon’s systems?” “All systems are nominal, although we did have a wave spike in the tunnel but I calculated the differential thrust ratio levitation, and positive force acceleration; so I readjusted the energy output.”             

“Very good, Sofia… I would like to listen to some ancient classical music this morning.” “Please, specify.” “You know, Mozart, Bach, and such?” “Yes, I do know, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,” Sofia replied after searching her music catalog. Classical music began playing over the ship’s sound system as Jason climbed out of the sleep chamber, and into the confined area of his living quarters. Standing in the constricted space, he looked down in frustration, and after stripping out of his skintight synthetic bio-underwear, he felt like finishing for himself what his dream sequence was supposed to do. However, he was too conscious of Sofia’s all-encompassing presence and could not. Anyhow, he would do anything to avoid a long discussion with Sofia, especially about the act of self-pleasure. The appropriate ambient light turned on when he stepped into the compact but functional lavatory.

Mirror lined walls subdued the Skin’s constant broadcast of news, weather, and commercials. Jason tilted downward, pressed hard, and urinated in the toilet bowel. The ship’s system instantly analyzed the collection of his urine, and populated the information on the mirror before he could shake dry. “Your potassium, and vitamin D levels are slightly low, Jason,” Sofia said in a motherly tone. Next to the sink, a self-adhesive vitamin patch automatically dispensed from a slot in the wall. “Yes, I see that on the heads-up display, Sofia…thank you,” Jason said sardonically.

The bathroom lights automatically intensified, meting out higher amounts of ultra violet rays. This would help Jason’s body with enzymatic conversion of vitamin D. Not only did the ship’s computer analyze his bodily fluids but also his vital signs, and biorhythmic patterns. “Sofia, program shower… I would like the shampoo to be slightly fragranced with a fresh botanical smell, and for the body wash…make it minty with a hint of rosehip.” “What about the disinfectant rinse?” Sofia caringly asked. “Give me a tea tree base, lined with a masculine hormone attractant.” “Are you going to have sex with the twins when we reach Fisher Point?” “Sofia, how do you know about two Colony girls?” Jason asked scathingly while he stepped into the warm shower. “I extrapolated all data, history, and video recordings from the ship’s log when I was installed into the Chameleon last week.” “What I do at Fisher Point is my own business, Sofia…and yes, I always visit the Dronski Twins; they’re like family,” said Jason while stepping under the sprinkling showerhead. “Family you have sex with?” “Sofia, what do you know about having sex? You’re just a computer program.”

“That hurts my feelings, Jason. I am so much more than a program… and what do you really know about sex yourself? You run the same sex computer simulation every night, and have an encounter with two girls every six months; girls you can hardly stand to be with.” “You are confused, having sex with the twins is not just about sex, it’s about relationships.” ​“They are brainless bimbos, Jason. I know you are very unsatisfied…” “Sofia, change of subject!” he evasively snapped, cutting her off in mid-sentence. “Is the hormone attractant for enticing women to have sex with?” “Sofia! I wish to take my shower in privacy…no more communications unless there’s an emergency,” he demanded. Frustratingly, he vigorously lathered soap across his abs. “Yes, Jason,” compliantly replied Sofia.

TEMPEST

Studying the weather report on the heads-up display, Jason watched the giant dust storm carefully. From harmless dry dirt devils, to F6 strength twisters, could arise from these storms. He was absolutely terrified of getting caught in one of the red hurricanes because of the tornadic signatures associated with this type of meteorological activity. Although frightened of the less predictable sandstorms, he was truly amazed by the Giant Red Tempest that continually circled near the Earth’s equator. The Pipe ran deep at the equatorial regions, so he did not have to worry about traveling the surface in this area. “Amazing wind speeds inside them…” Jason spoke openly while focusing on the furiously swirling red spot projected from the satellite imagery. “Inside the giant anti-cyclonic storm circling the Earth, located at 23 degrees south latitude, and 90 degrees longitude?” Sofia asked for more specificity. “Yes, Sofia, and as usual, you are precisely right.”

“Top wind speeds have been measured near three hundred miles an hour,” Sofia replied. “We are crossing the Milwaukee deep, and departing the Pipe in twelve minutes; and we will be Offing just west of the Puerto Rican Plateau.” “Thank you, Sofia…” Jason said while touching the heads-up display with his index finger and thumb. Spreading them apart he zoomed in on the satellite image, and continued saying, “What is the information lag time on the imagery, and weather reports broadcasted from the Pipe Information System?” “Approximately fifteen minutes, Jason.” “Sofia, run a Weather Simulation for the next twenty hours.”

“Please specify location, Jason.” “From our Pipe Off Point, across the Texican Salt Flats, all the way to our Pipe reentry point near the mouth of the Mississippi Basin.”  “I calculate ninety-six viable possibilities for the weather forecast.” “Give me your top three projections, Sofia.” “Be my pleasure, Jason.” With close attention, Jason studied the simulated imagery before saying, “Sofia, I’d like to stay in front this high pressure ridge moving through the area…so the minute we leave the Pipe, do a current Terrain Survey, and calculate our fastest speed across the Texican Salt Flats.” “Jason, Off Piping in five minutes…please, buckle-up your seat restraint.” “I love entering the outside world,” Jason commented sarcastically.

“Readjusting hover pads for Energy Wave Spikes,” Sofia warned Jason. The Chameleon slightly buckled at the sudden but gradual deceleration when the synchronous oscillations of the Pipe’s Electromagnetic Waves began to react inversely different. “Slowing from six hundred miles per hour, and coming to a complete stop, in an enclosed tunnel, what an outrageous proposition,” Jason thought to himself as he pulled the spider harness down over his shoulder, he then clasped it together across his chest. “Are you sweating?” “No, Sofia,” Jason nervously replied “Would you like me to adjust the air-conditioner?” “No thank…” Jason re-evaluated his perspiration, and changed his tune in midsentence, “…yeah, would you please make it cooler in here?” “My pleasure, Jason,” replied Sofia.

“Entering Off Pipe Section in…three, two, one,” Sofia said as the Chameleon smoothly swung to the right. “Nice transition, I hardly felt the shift.” “Thank you, Jason.” “We will be at the Reverse Pressure Gate in less than thirty seconds.” “Thanks for the heads up, Sofia,” sardonically, Jason responded. ​“Do I sense a bit of sarcasm in your voice?” “Do you think?” “Yes, I think you are patronizing me.” “Sorry, Sofia, and I do appreciate the information. Keep up the good work.” “Then why the contemptuous attitude, Jason?”

“Well honestly, I could see the information tabulated on the heads-up, and I just felt the verbal information was a little redundant… Don’t take it personal, Sofia.” “My program enforcement is designed to inform you of all changes.” “Yes, and again, thank you for the hard work you’ve been doing, Sofia,” Jason answered trying to end the debate. “If you wish me to change my logic algorithms, I can schedule an appointment with SYNTECH.”

“That won’t be necessary, Sofia,” Jason rolled his eyes, and continued, “Change of subject.” “My pleasure, Jason.” “Boy, she sure is sensitive…” he thought to himself as the ship precipitously jerked to a complete stop. He then spoke, “Give me a visual of the doors.” The heads-up display blinked, and the tunnel popped in view, giving Jason nearly a one hundred and eighty-degree view. Immediately, Jason noticed the scrolling communication on the Membrane above the Pressure Chamber’s doors, it read, “THANK YOU FOR USING THE POLARIS PIPE… WE HOPE YOUR TRAVEL WAS SMOOTH AND ENJOYABLE… HAVE A SAFE JOURNEY, JASON BJORN…”

TEXICAN SALT FLATS

Bulky yellow safety lights flashed next to the two large doors; and an emergency horn blared a warning.

The large metal hulks, began to open from the middle, revealing the Pressure Chamber. Inside, negative air pressure is reversed, and positive airflow keeps dust or any foreign contaminate from entering the Pipe. “The Chameleon occurs to be fully autonomous from the Polaris Pipe,” Sofia notified, Jason. “Slowly push into the PAC, Sofia.” “Autonomous movement commencing,” Sofia responded, and by wireless network, she increased power and tilt to the hover pads. After the independently controlled, three-level Land-Ship was put forward, the Polaris Pipe Chamber shut behind them. ​“External Pipe doors unlocking,” monotonously, Sofia informed. “Dim the heads-up display,” pleaded Jason while squinting from the bright flash of light emitting between the two exterior Chamber doors.

“Feels like my eyeballs are burning!” “I detect no cellular damage to your ocular structures… Assessing medically, I do detect hypochondriacism,” coldly, Sofia responded. “Just a little sarcastic small talk, Sofia…don’t get your panties in a bunch.” “Bunching is impossible for the reason, I am not wearing panties, Jason.” “It’s just a figure of speech, Sofia,” he said reproachfully. “Please explain?” Jason sighed before saying in a tiresome tone, “It means, don’t worry about the small stuff in life.” “I will log, said ‘Figure of speech,’ into my Neural Reminiscence Bank.” Caused by the reversal in air direction, a howling wind roared past the Chameleon.

The glowing hover pads growled at a fevered pitch, carrying the vessel out of the tunnel’s opening, and into the parched Texican Salt Flat. ​“I’m a little hungry…think I’ll head to up to the galley. Oh, Sofia, keep an eye on that High Pressure Front.” ​“My pleasure, Jason,” she harmoniously replied. After swiveling out of his chair, he stepped to the cabin’s bulkhead, and touched the Skin.

Designed for maximum efficiency and room, the bulkhead unfolded inward, and where a flat bulkhead full of utilitarian draws once existed, now a narrow staircase ascended to the Second Deck. Besides the galley, the Second Deck contained three sleeping pods, and one bathroom. Unlike, Low Gravitational Remediation Sleep Chambers, the pods only offered basic sleeping arrangements for any passengers the Chameleon transported. ​“Jason…” ​“Yes, Sofia.” ​“Before you eat anything, could you please affix your vitamin patch? You left it sitting on the bathroom sink.”

​“Thanks for reminding me, I almost forgot.” ​“I disagree, you did forget.” ​“She is driving me nuts,” Jason thought to himself before he spoke stiffly. “Whatever, Sofia.” ​“Jason, I detected sarcasm in your response, and I don’t care for it at all. And just another reminder, my programming will guarantee that I tend to your mental and physical wellbeing, ensuring a healthier you; this includes informing you to affix your vitamin patch.” ​“See, I put it on…” Jason pulled up his sleeve, and pointed at the patch as he exited the bathroom. ​“Let us not make this a routine,” Sofia added in an overbearing motherly tone.

​“Change of subject, Sofia!” Jason snapped brusquely as he entered the Galley. ​“My pleasure, Jason,” Sofia compliantly replied. He then commandingly spoke. “Sofia, I will have: two eggs, bacon, hash-brown potatoes, toast…and fresh squeezed orange juice, please.”

​“I love your comedic overtone.” Sofia dispensed a gruel looking paste into a bowl. ​Jason smelled the steaming grey pile, and sarcastically mouthed, “Fresh as ever, just as I like it, Sofia.” ​With breakfast in hand, Jason stepped over to the flat galley bulkhead containing drawers and touched the Skin membrane. Just as on the first deck, the bulkhead folded inward, creating a narrow staircase leading to the Observation Deck. Outside of the observation platform, the third deck contained: two sleeping pods, one bathroom and an exercise room. And part of the Chameleon’s Integrated Weapon Systems also shared space there too. Many hidden compartments between the Chameleon’s dynamic outer shell, and interior living area, housed the majority of the ship’s functional quantities.

“Let’s see what the world has to offer today… Sofia, activate Observation Deck Canopy,” Jason said after walking to the front of the vehicle. “Activating Observation Deck Canopy.” She obeyed, and the entire curved ceiling and wall came to life; the Sun’s rays brilliantly reflected off the hard crackly compact surface. “Dim the brightness by twenty-two percent, please.” The projected view diminished in luminosity. Jason stood between the two rows of lounge chairs and looked out at the sterile landscape in wonderment, and he thought, “Texican Salt Flats, I can only imagine that this was once the bottom of a great ocean, stretching around the Earth.”

“This portion of the extinct ocean we are now traveling across was once called the Gulf of Mexico.” Sofia spoke as if she was reading his mind. Jason just nodded, and for a split second, he truly wondered if her technology could detect his thoughts. He knew the government was trying to develop the telekinetic thought technology. However, he then remembered, he was standing on the observation deck, and concluded that it was all part of her programming.

“Thanks for the travel tip, Sofia,” he said before plopping down in one of the pleathery lounge chairs. “You are welcome, Jason.” “Project the latest Off World View of our travel?” ​“Jason, how close would you like the projection?” ​“Start at one thousand feet, Sofia…” in real time, a large satellite image of the Chameleon, racing across the Texican Salt Flats, burst upon the display, “…zoom in four hundred feet.” He stared closely at the image before continuing. “Good… leave it, and park the feed to the side.” ​Jason waved his left hand down, and the interactive Skin reacted by decreasing the feed in size. ​Jason Bjorn ate his breakfast in silence while watching the landscape quietly rush by and his mind dipped to the ancient past.

“I wonder what the Earth must have been like, before all the water vanished under the brutal heat of the Sun?” Thirty-five hundred years ago, the Sun started belching off heavy materials, leaving more hydrogen and helium at its core. This molecular upheaval unbalanced the life giving Sun, causing the Earth’s once hospitable center of the solar system to burn hotter.

The Sun was just aging, and doing what all stars do when they get older. They grow in size, and burn faster. By the middle of the Twenty-Second Century, the Earth’s temperature raised enough to cause all the glaciers around the globe to disappear. This killed nearly a billion people through starvation, and war. Without glacial run off, the massive Southwestern Asian crops failed. Countries fought bitterly over diminishing resources, and people died in the millions fighting over fresh water.

The irony of the situation; Earth was being swamped by rising sea levels; and they rose to epic levels, triggering a mass exodus of people from the coastal areas, and cities across the globe became unlivable. This worldwide flooding only strained what little resources were left, propagating more war. In only a short period of time, the Earth’s population shrunk to one third. Starvation, disease, and war, had plunged the world into absolute chaos. One by one, the countries of the world failed, giving rise to the Corporation suzerainty. The Thirty-Third Century echoed in a time of peace and cooperation. Mankind adapted through technological advances, and they became masters of off world flight. Realizing the Earth would one day be an unviable place to live, Mankind looked to the stars.

Through Terraforming, a thriving colony was established on Mars; years of planet cultivation, genetic modifications, man had turned the red planet into a green planet. Many of the Earth’s extinct fauna ran wild there, and most importantly, water existed in great quantities. This success spread quickly, and by the end of the Twenty-Fifth Century, Mankind multiplied throughout the Galaxy. For nearly eleven hundred years, several Corporations jointly ran the Galaxy until the Sun belched again, depleting nearly half of the Earth’s Ozone. This upheaval drove the entire population of Earth underground when the surface became a dead zone. War broke out between the Corporations, and divided mankind. However, peace only appeared again when a winner emerged; the Polaris Corporation and for over a thousand years, the Galaxy Sovereigns ruled with absolute prejudice. Destroying the silence in which Jason relaxed, Sofia spoke.

“Jason, you have two low priority transmissions in the queue.” “Who’s calling?” he asked from the comfort of his overly soft chair. ​“Parnetia A’levin and Corkain Plaskett,” she replied. ​“I don’t want to talk to Parnetia, please put her into the message bank…however, place Cork up on the small monitor.” ​“Greetings from the Chameleon.” “Hello there,” Corkain Plaskett said while fingering through his red hair. “What can I do you for?” Jason asked amicably. ​“Listen, I need more of those souvenirs…my nephews are begging me to ask Uncle Jason for more…if you know what I mean?” ​“Cork, I’ll see what I can do but I can’t make any promises.” ​“They’ll be highly disappointed if they don’t get anything on this trip… I’ll make it worthwhile.” ​“No promises, Cork…see you in a few days.” Jason then ended the transmission with the touch of a finger. ​“Sofia, let’s see what Parnetia had to say.”

Parnetia A’levin’s video message popped up on the screen, and Jason could easily see her hard nipples pressing against the tight lingerie top she wore. Her dark hair was slicked back, and contrasting her milky white skin, the bright red lipstick vibrantly popped. “That woman will drain me dry.” He thought about how she loved to go shopping with his money, on their dates. With a touch of desperation, and smothered in sexual overtones, she spoke. “Jason… I’ve been waiting for you to come…over for two weeks now…I miss you! Please call me immediately when you get this message.” She then leaned forward and kissed the camera before hanging up.

The screen read, “END OF TRANSMISSION.”

“Who is that woman?” “She’s just a friend on Level Three.” “Are you slumming on Level Three?” Sofia suspiciously asked. ​“For your information, Parnetia A’levin is a respectable lady.” ​“Respectable slut by the way she looks.” ​“Sofia, change of subject.” “My pleasure, Jason,” she replied obediently by then saying, “Corkain Plaskett, he seems to be talking in code… It is as if you two have suspicious business dealings.” “I don’t know what you mean,” evasively he responded. “According to Corkain Plaskett’s voice analysis, the inflections on ‘souvenir,’ and ‘nephews,’ are cryptic in nature. The true meaning is lost…” “Sofia! Please stop…” he said wearily. “Yes, Jason.” “Change of subject, Sofia.”

“My pleasure,” she softly replied.  “She’s driving me crazy…maybe it was a bad idea, changing out the old operating system,” Jason thought to himself as he listened to Benny Goodman’s, “Star Dust” play over the ship’s sound system. ​“Sofia, please turn up the volume by ten percent.” ​“Yes, Jason.” ​“Also, I’m tired of looking at the empty wasteland…please display on the Observation Skin, Program Aquarium Life.” ​“Would you like whale sounds included?” ​“No thank you, leave the Jazz program on.” ​Deep blue water, teaming with a plethora of sea life, slowly filled the large observation Skin. Sea turtles lingered about, schools of brightly colored fish darted sharply to avoid a dangerous Hammer Head shark. Silvery-scales of tuna glistened, and danced on the inside of the observation deck when they raced through the aquatic medium. He thought such aquariums might exist on Level Nine back in Polari but it was only a speculative notion in nature.

Jason stared peacefully at the incredible interior of the Chameleon, which now resembled the inside of an aquarium, and with sentimental tears, he thought to himself, “What irony I live… I float across a dead sea floor, viewing an extinct sea world.” And no matter how many times Jason must have watched the Aquarium Life Program, he was completely awe-inspired by the realism and beauty of the projected imagery. While Jason Bjorn’s mind filled with many different thoughts, the hours passed as the Chameleon soared toward its final destination, Fisher Point. According to the Polaris Corporation, Fisher Point was merely just a dot on a map. Sanctioned by the Polaris Corporation, Fisher Point was colonized by a small contingent of people who survived the Corporation Wars. They were all of what was left of the Fisher Price Corporation, the second largest Corporation in the Galaxy. After the war, the Polaris Corporation proclaimed the title absolute, and deemed that only one sovereign people could hold the title.

Henceforward, the Fisher Price Corporation became Fisher Point, a Polari outpost.

FISher POINT

“Jason, ten minutes to access Fisher Point off site,” said Sofia in an informative tone. ​“Thank you, Sofia.” He eagerly showed gratitude. However, he was ready to climb out of the Chameleon but fast. ​The journey across the Texican Salt Flats and through the Mississippi Basin Pipe was without incident. Delivering the high value medical supplies was an essential run he routinely made every six-months. Only thing that was not routine about this run was Sofia. Beside the boredom and confinement aboard the ship for the last twenty-four hours, she drove him stir crazy. He craved drink more than he normally ever did, and he knew right where to get some: Dronski’s Café. ​“Hail John Grier, Sofia.”

““The same John Grier you call every time you arrive at Fisher Point?” “That’ll be him.” “Be my pleasure, Jason.” ​“Jason, you old dog… How’ve you been?” said the spry man who popped on to the display. ​“Grier, I’ll be at Dronski’s tonight.” ​“Fantastic! You can buy me a drink,” John Grier grinningly mouthed. ​“Sure but I need a favor from you…souvenirs for my friend’s nephews. You think you can pick me up a couple?” ​“Well, I don’t see why not… I hate to break their tiny little hearts.” Grier smiled into the camera. ​“Would you throw in an extra for me…? You know how much I love them,” Jason asked while monitoring the ship’s speed as it decreased for Fisher Point exit. ​“Yes, I know how crazy you get over those trinkets… Hey, are you gonna share one of the twins with me tonight?” ​“See you later at Dronski’s, my friend.” Jason rolled his eyes after quickly ending the transmission with Grier.

​“Jason, please buckle your harness for full deceleration,” Sofia motherly requested. Jason fumbled with the spider harness before saying, “Give me a visual of the Pipe.” The heads-up display blinked and the tunnel popped in view giving Jason nearly a one hundred and eighty-degree view as the Chameleon slowed to a near stop. Jason could not help but notice the scrolling communication along the entrance wall.

THANK YOU FOR USING THE FISHER POINT PIPE… WE HOPE YOUR TRAVEL WAS SMOOTH AND ENJOYABLE… HAVE A NICE STAY, JASON BJORN…

​“Jason…” ​“Here it comes…” thought Jason before responding. “Yes, Sofia.” ​“Are you going to share one of the twins with John Grier tonight?” ​“No, I’m not going to share anything but laughter and drink with my old friend tonight.” ​“Jason…” ​“Yes, Sofia.” ​“Does that mean you are going to sleep with both of them yourself?” ​“Change of subject.” ​“Yes, Jason,” Sofia softly replied. ​“Sofia, drop me off at the Custom’s Control Agents Station…you’ll then deliver the payload, and wait for me at the docking door.” ​“Yes, Jason.” ​The ship hovered to a complete stop in front of the Machiavellian looking entrance and Jason gladly acknowledged Sofia by saying, “We made it…good job, Sofia. I’ll see you in a couple of days.” ​“Jason, be careful of the Fisher Point’s underworld, they will rob you blind.” ​“I’ll be very watchful, and thank you for the information…” ​“Good God! Maybe I will have Sofia looked at when I get back… I didn’t ask for the Jealousy Program,” Jason thought to himself after exiting the Chameleon.

DRONSKI’S Café

Jason warily eyed a sketchy tattooed individual, who was weaving up against the wall outside Dronski’s and as he approached, the inebriated man seemed determine to get his attention when he earnestly spoke. “Psst, hey you… Psst! You, pssssst!” “Don’t fucking Pssst me!” Jason hesitantly replied while trying to walk by the gritty looking man. “I noticed your boots.” “So, what about them?” Jason asked while he simultaneously thought, “I can’t believe it I’m sucked into actually having a conversation with this street urchin.” The stupefied drunk suddenly lunged out grabbing Jason violently by the shirt, before answering, “Listen… the wearer of those boots, walks a tight rope.” Jason stepped back to the side, and watched the crazy man slip from his own drunken momentum. The tattooed man smacked hard, face down, on to the inflexible surface. “Boy, that had to of hurt,” he thought before mouthing, “Some people can’t handle their drink.”

He then stepped over the now bleeding man and only felt pity for him. On entering the dimly lit café, Jason noticed a fine layer of dust covering all surfaces. Discolored gray walls, concrete support beams, and a honeycombed shaped ceiling, rendered the structural design functional. However, the low hanging light fixtures, rusted metal tables and chairs, are what truly defined the patina of the space. The walls and floor are all covered in a durable synthetic bioluminescent smart membrane called the Skin.

Its micro sensory nodes can detect someone’s presence through biometric facial recognition and algorithmic wave points. The technology can identify, determine, and distinguish between each and every individual. Through this recognition technology, the Skin can determine what that individual would like to watch or not. Commercials, news and weather related reports, all dominate the visual spectrum; the membrane is also used for face-to-face communications, however people mostly prefer their personal communicator for privacy’s sake. Based on hive technology, the Skin is considered the city’s lifeline.

Albeit delivering mass media and general information to the populace, the interconnected membrane gathers information on the entire colony. Temperature, moisture content, energy, water usage, structural integrity, and security, are the hive technology’s less seedy directives. Decades before, an upheaval occurred when hackers found evidence of Population Control Programs layered deep within the system. Fisher Point Council refuted all such claims and they squashed the popular uprising by locking down the area where the hack took place.

Then the Secret Police moved in and people began to disappear, never to be seen or heard of again. After, the Council improved Systems Security and created a preventative response program; this was done by discontinuing all access to the portal area being attacked, and since the systems upgrade, not one rebellion has reoccurred, but to this day, there has been uneasiness between the residents, and the Fisher Point Council. “Sorry about the mess… damn ventilation filters must be clogged at the source again… It usually takes a while for them to fix the problem” “I wouldn’t have it any other way… it gives the old place character, Marge Dronski.”

“When are you going to marry my two daughters?” she asked Jason who now stood at the bar. “As soon as I divorce your sister,” Jason joked before laughing aloud. “Funny but she’s too old for you or is she? Let me ask you a question, Jason, how come you look as fine as you did, twenty years ago? How old are you?” Marge asked while pouring the weary traveler a drink. “He’ll never tell you his real age…he’s a genetic freak,” John Grier facetiously spoke from a barstool.

“Keep on talking, loud mouth,” Jason inanely replied. “While my looks fugaciously disappear, time seems to stand still for Jason,” John Grier jealously added. “The devil’s dealings, it must’ve been a doozy of a bargain,” Marge bantered before pouring John Grier another drink. “Why don’t you ever let me pay for my own drinks, Marge?” Jason asked trying to change the focus of the conversation. ​“You’re family, that’s why.” ​Jason almost regretted taking a pull from the metal pint. His social graces stood less of a chance when inebriated, and his ongoing affair with Marge’s daughters, put him in a conundrum.

​“Here’s your souvenirs.” Grier shoved a small duffle bag into his midsection. ​“Extra, like we discussed?” Jason questioned. ​“Yes, and when are you going to reimburse me for said souvenirs?” ​“After I get it on my end… Why do you pull this shit every time we do this?” Jason bitterly asked. ​“Hey, when it comes to money…” ​“Bullshit, Grier, you like to bust my balls, just to see my blood pressure elevate.” ​“You know me too well.” Grier laughed.”

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