Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.
Transport Pod Aboard the Derelict Spacecraft
The Story So Far
Ruth and Toshu are aboard the derelict spacecraft commanded by the Rhonk robot, Rhall. Toshu will attempt to neutralize this potential source of reinforcement for Ghar's forces. The President's team of scientists unveil their plan for defeating Ghar.
- Part One
- Part Two
- Part Three
- Part Four
- Part Five
- Part Six
- Part Seven
- Part Eight
- Part Nine
- Part Ten/Conclusion
After two minutes and a quick overview by Ruth, they slipped into the control room. Bari sat down at the computer and switched on an intercom so they could hear what Toshu and Rhall were saying on the other side of the glass.
"We will not go without direct orders from Admiral Ghar." Rhall was firm in his resolve.
Bari stepped into the the staging area. At the sound of his voice, Toshu spun around. "Rhall, I have an audio feed from Mhon Ghar. He is waiting to speak with you. I'll put it through to the speaker system in here."
Bari disappeared into the control room. Toshu and the Rhonks could see the top of his head through the window. The voice of Ghar boomed and echoed around the staging area.
"Rhall, Toshu has come to you at my command. Do as she says. The battle for Earth is about to begin, and I need you aboard my ark immediately."
"Yes, Admiral Ghar." Rhall rotated his body to face the other robots. "All Rhonks assemble in the transport pod."
Toshu raised the overhead doors of the staging area and the transport pod. Rhall was the last to pass inside.
"Wait!" Rhall emerged from the pod. "Admiral Ghar has never failed to refer to me as Commander Rhall." The first row of Rhonks exited the pod behind their leader. "Toshu, why have you and your brother attempted to deceive us? I must take you into custody until we talk to Admiral Ghar." The robot rolled toward Toshu where she stood at a control console.
"Commander Rhall." Ruth's voice came from the elevated platform of the laser cannon.
For a twenty-foot tall robot made of metal, Rhall was quick. He spun around and raised his arms. The laser hardware that popped up from his wrists looked like six-guns in an old western.
But Ruth had first draw. The blast hit Rhall in the chest. Without stopping she raked the beam along the row of Rhonks behind him. The robots were blown off their wheels and backward into the Rhonks still in the pod. It was like knocking over a thousand ten-pins with one roll. But as Toshu had warned, the laser was no match for Rhonks. In unison, they righted themselves using antigravity, and their wheels slammed down onto the floor with a terrifying, single boom that shook the ark. Two thousand lasers leveled on the biologicals while the doors were closing. Ruth jumped from the laser cannon platform. She and Bari lay flat on the floor with laser beams crisscrossing inches above their heads. Her fire retardant isolation suit began to melt.
Toshu returned to the console and let the doors drop in a freefall, a safety feature to protect the ark against a failure of the exterior door. Then she activated the ejection controls.
Rhonk lasers burned into the closed doors which glowed red. Toshu rushed to help her brother pull Ruth to safety and remove her suit. Bari had blisters forming on his neck, but Ruth was too overcome with a new sensation to worry about such things. "My god, the smell. Bari, how have you been able to take it?" The stench of death and decay had permeated the ark.
The transport pod ejected into space and drifted while Ruth, Toshu, and Bari watched through the glass of the interior door. A flash lit up the empty pod room, and the transport disappeared.
"Where did you send them?" said Ruth.
"To your sun."
Bari embraced his sister. They held one another, whispering for several minutes. Ruth checked herself for burns and blisters, but the only injury was to her red hair. The ends were curled and singed, nothing a simple trim wouldn't correct. She wanted to know how Bari had conjured the voice of Ghar, but an unfamiliar script filled the monitor.
"I've been fooling around with a synthesizer since we left Rhon, trying to make my voice sound like Ghar's. I never expected it to be useful." Bari stood in the doorway of the control room with his arm around his sister. “Toshu wants me to come up with a plan for neutralizing Ghar. I would appreciate your input."
The Situation Room
It was early morning on day four, the day Ghar was to begin his reign of terror on Earth.
President Golden had communicated with Ghar on the previous day through Toshu and informed him of the decision of the nations of Earth to surrender. In reality, they had chosen the option which Ghar had not seriously considered. Earth would fight back.
"Somebody summarize this plan for me." The President sat at the Situation Room conference table massaging his temples. Steam from a cup of coffee rose in front of his face.
"Mr. President," said Dr. Smith, "There are three steps. First, we will seed the clouds over Ground Zero with dry ice and ionized gas. The colder the cloud is, the more electrically conductive it becomes.
Next, we will shoot a laser through the cloud that will strip the water droplets of electrons and scatter them into the highly conductive atmosphere of the cloud. The result should be a light show that would make Pink Floyd turn green with envy.
Finally, we will shoot another laser into the cloud which will heat the ionized gas, convert it to plasma and attract the lightning. The laser will be passed across the lightning storm, creating a plasma tunnel, until it comes to bear on the targeted robot as it descends. The lightning will follow the tunnel all the way to the target. Since the robots won't be grounded, the electricity will pass through, destroying their electrical components, and out the other side.”
The President rose from his chair. "Then it's time to inform Ghar that the people of Earth will fight.
The world’s rumor mills had been running at full capacity for four days, and the media kept every possibility, and a few impossibilities, alive. If Ghar had been monitoring news reports, he would have learned of the unveiling of the mother-of-all-nuclear-bombs and a laser that would melt the mothership. Rather than attempting to quell the media storm, President Golden let it serve as a distraction while he, his team of scientists, and the military put together a plan that would go down in history as the greatest military achievement the world had ever seen...if it worked.
Before contacting Ghar, President Golden drafted a letter to every world leader and to the United Nations to be delivered by U.S. Ambassadors. He thanked them for the offers of military assistance but conceded that there had not been enough time to coordinate a global response. He encouraged them to begin immediately making contingency plans in case the United States failed to defeat Ghar.
Technicians had established communication between the Situation room and Ghar's ark. President Golden's message was brief and to the point. "There will be no surrender. We will defend our planet and our people to the end if necessary. Do what you will. We are ready." The President ended the call without waiting for a response.
Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on December 26, 2017:
Wow! Loved it!
Reminds me of the words of Churchill just after Dunkirk, "We'll fight them on the beaches, we'll fight them in the streets, WE WILL NEVER SURRENDER!"
Regarding surrender, he also said, "You can't reason with a Tiger, when your head is in it's mouth!"
Great stuff, now lets see if the plan works.
Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 22, 2017:
Peg, Those photos take longer to find than it takes to write the story. haha. Thanks for noticing them.
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on November 21, 2017:
So glad that the people of earth have taken the decision to resist the invasion. Love the photos that go along with this story. They really make technical things come to life.
Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on November 16, 2017:
Thanks, Linda. I only wish Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine had felt the same way. But it means a lot to know that some here are enjoying it.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 16, 2017:
The story is becoming very exciting, Chris. It's a gripping tale.