Thursday, February 5, 2009

Avalon Bek, What Dreams May Become

This is the story of Avalon Bek, a warrior, a scientist, a champion of justice, who got screwed by the "Powers That Be" and became thier tool. He was one of the first men to be implanted with the most advanced cutting edge micro science bio-computer hardware mankind had so far invented, and the first man cryofrozen and shot into space in a manned interstellar probe. He was also one of the first men lost between the stars. Until he was rescued.

This is also the story of a boy and his dog, and a place where high fantasy meets hard science in a race both to claim a far away world and save our own.

The wheel turns, the cycle is unbroken.


The terrible fire of the Kabrin transpon beam erupted behind him as Avalon Bek engaged the cascade which seemed to tumble in front of him, partially in 3-D, but mostly a direct tap into his brain. The cascade was new to him; it was a flow of information, a raw feed which was his interface with the jump ship. The Valliant; his polytronic cyber brain logged the name in memcore. The Valliant was also new. However, he understood both the cascade and the Valliant to some degree. The cascade and the Valliant were both machines. He understood machines; understanding how he’d come to be in this one was another matter. He remembered a ship, billowing sheets of canvas, a fine mist carried by a sharp wind; but that must have been a dream. There were so many dreams. Was this a dream? Sometimes it was hard to tell. But no, this was real, this was work. Information flooded into him; dates, times, history, bringing him up to speed with all that had happened since he had last been Activated.

In many ways, especially within current classifications, Avalon Bek was a machine; though not in the ways that counted most. In those ways, he was all too human. He was old tech and his humanity was intact, unlike the bioprobes of today who had been wiped and wired, totally clean of the ability to think on their own. He didn’t let it affect him though. He never let emotion affect him. Instead he threw himself into his work, letting it engulf him. This was why he was here, why he had signed on in the first place: to serve.

Raw images and data surged into his brain, through his eyes, into his ocular sensors, and into his polytronic core just below his chest bone. The cascade had been conceived of and created for the cyber wars, for minds enhanced with high tech robotics. These days, since enhancing the minds of men was outlawed by the Kabrini Pact, men trained from birth to touch the cascade. Men had to, because the cascade was the ultimate interface for jumping the quantum curve; testing a mind's mental metal at every turn, it was hard to keep up with, harder still to control. The quantum curve itself was hard to control. Charting the curve of an anti-kaon event in space-time, or trying to find a way out of it, was a complex, exacting task. Only a highly intelligent, highly trained mind could even make the attempt. It required such intense concentration to interface with the cascade that sometimes it literally drove men mad. Or it burned them, fried their synapses on sheer complexity. There was just too much to think about, too many variables, too many possibilities happening all at once.

Avalon Bek manipulated the cascade as if he had been born to it, as if he had trained all his life for it, even though he had never touched it before. That was part of his specialty; had always been part of what he did, even before the extra hardware.

The cascade filled him and instantly he understood everything around him in minute detail. The ram-ship Acchilli, its vector in time-space, where it would be, where it must be, where it was now, in the grip of the transpon beam which held it plastered like a bug on a wall. He could almost feel the beam, his senses were that acute. The beam strength was pulsing with potential, gripping the hull of the Acchilli with a crushing power. The plasma reactors had already been crushed in that great force, their potential drawn along the beam toward the Star Fortress looming in the dark distance. The ram-scoop projectors and the massive hydrogen rarification plant would go next, then the positron laser and finally the living chamber in the forward hull; the transpon beam was pulling energy out of the Acchilli even as it crushed it.

He traced along the beam to its source, a massive pulse projector jutting through the magnetic shielding of the Star Fortress. He probed quickly along the massive shield of the great craft, barely touching it, a faint whisper in the static silence. He had done as much before and understood the danger; anything more than a whisper would alert the sensor grid and void jumpers would come screaming down on him. He had seen such a craft on the Rift and had made the mistake already. He’d barely eluded the dangers.

The Star Fortress was more a powered asteroid than a true space craft; it was a city floating in space. It was massive, but for all its mass it was quick and deadly in reaction to stimuli.
Behind him Avalon Bek felt the Acchilli begin to break apart and he spared a thought for Arilla Renghe and what she had done for him.

A part of him wished he could do something to stop it, to save her; some heroic thing. There was nothing he could do, of course. The Valliant was not armed. It was a gnat; worse, an amoeba against the bulk of the Star Fortress. He had no power here. He barely had enough luck to complete his mission.

All he had of Arilla Renghe was a dream. But it was real. He knew it had happened, as he knew that he had a debt he could never repay.

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