Chapter 3

This chapter is a work in progress, any feedback is appreciated.

Chapter 3

The Captain

The sun was hot and the breeze was cool. Waves lapped against the sandy shores of the small bay Chloe, Toyvo and the stag found themselves lounging beside. The plants and trees that surrounded the shore provided plenty of shade and fruit. Having left her supplies back in the village of the Great Brothers, and having lived on preserved rations for most of her life, Chloe was happy for some fresh fruit. She wasn’t quite sure what they were, but the stag was eating them, indicating that it was probably safe. Toyvo had stripped down, and was splashing around in the warm tropical water. The water was a deep blue, and the further out you looked the surface seemed to change color from blues, purples, and greens. The respite of a warm climate was wonderful in comparison to the desolation and snow of the last world they had just come from.

The three companions had been lounging by the bay for hours now. The conversation had been limited to sighs of relief at having warm place to rest, and deciding which fruit taste the best. Toyvo had thousands of questions he had be waiting to ask, but experiencing a beach for the first time took priority. Toyvo waded back to shore and began dressing behind some trees, making a meager attempt to conceal himself.

“Chloe, Where are we?” Toyvo said walking out fully clothed. “I’ve never seen anything so beautiful as this place. Not even in my books at home.”

“I don’t know. I don’t even think Captain Tarn was able to control where the stag took us.”

“So the stag can travel through time?”

“Not exactly, but I wouldn’t doubt that it’s possible. It’s more like...” Chloe looked puzzled for a moment.  She had never thought about how to describe exactly what the stag was capable of. “It’s more like traveling to an alternate reality. Anything is possible.”

“What do you mean alternate reality?” Toyvo sat down on the same rock Chloe was sitting on. “Like, maybe, there might be two of me here?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say it like that. Of course it wouldn’t really be two of you but there might be someone who is very similar to you. Even down to the genetic level. Sometimes even the physics work differently in the worlds we visited. Traveling with Captain Tarn I’ve been to worlds and seen where the sky meets the ocean and other world that had no edges.”

“If you can’t control where the stag takes us how were you planning on helping me find my parents? How was Tarn going find them?”

“Well, Captain Tarn would always...” Chloe was interrupted by a loud persistent roar coming from the sky. The stag approached the two of them and looked up as a large ship flew over head. Such an awkward looking beige ship contrasted against the the tropical vista that surrounded it. It wasn’t a graceful looking ship, having very boxy and geometric in design. A strip of blue light encircled the underside of the ship.The lights were brighter towards the rear of the ship. They watched as it flew over heading further inland.

Captain Tarn stood still like a stone as the shuttle craft rumbled into the atmosphere of Asir. Shore leave wasn’t exactly something that Tarn looked forward to, but this time he needed some. The past few months had been the most stressful of his life. Having not only negotiated two peace treaties, he had been the target of an assassination attempt that not only nearly killed him but his entire family as well. Since then his family had relocated from their quarters on his Star Ship back to Earth for their safety.

The rest of the crew and teleported down to the surface earlier that day. Tarn’s insistence on using a shuttle craft over the teleporter has been source of much conversation among the crew. Especially in places like this, where any landing facilities are located kilometers from any of the actual resort locations, to minimize noise pollution from landing craft. His crew would be enjoying the numerous amenities of Asir while he was still stuck riding the monorail in from the landing facility.

“Captain Tarn, we are preparing for our final approach,” Said the pilot. “Would you please take a seat and strap in for the landing?” Captain Tarn begrudgingly followed the directions of the pilot, and sat in the copilots seat. “I’ll bet you’re excited for some shore leave?”

“I wouldn’t put it that way exactly,” Captain Tarn replied. The pilot took the hint, and limited the conversation for the rest of the landing to responding to the control tower.

The landing proceed in silence, while Tarn watched the landing facility as they approached. The entire continent seemed to be covered in green surrounded by a turquoise ocean. Along the coastline in the distance a small peninsula seemed to start glowing as the sun fell below the horizon behind the shuttle. The city lights creating what looked like a second sunset off among the clouds drifting high over the city. The thin gray line of the monorail track stretched out towards the distant city.

“Look, over there,” Chloe shouted back to the others. “It looks like there is a building up ahead.” Toyvo and the Stag were lagging behind Chloe, she was much more excited about following the flying ship than they were. It had been about an hour since they set out from the bay in the direction of the ship, and this tall cement tower illuminated in the growing night was the only sign of civilization they had run into.

As they approached it became obvious that this wasn’t a building, it was a pylon suspending some sort of track. At the foot of the pylon a road was cut through the thick tropical foliage running parallel with track. The slender tower showed no sign of entry, or even a ladder to scale the structure.

Chloe stepped out into the middle of the dirt road looking straight up. “Wow, this is incredible. Look how tall it is,” she said, as she watched the others emerge from the brush alongside the road. “I reckon that if we follow this road we’ll find some kind of city.”

“Yeah, the only question is which direction should we go?” Toyvo replied trying to catch his breath. “The sky's getting dark, and trudging through those thick plants was more than enough of a workout for today. Not to mention what animals might be living in these woods at night.” Just then a series of lights came on following the length of the road. The street lights came on almost imperceptibly due to the bright light that adorned the pylon.

“See, we have plenty of light if we follow the road, and if we find a city maybe we can sleep in a bed tonight,” Cloe said. “I say we go...” she paused for a moment, “This way,” and pointed North down the road.

The trio followed the road until well after the sun had set. The light pollution from the street light combined with the forest canopy, and the monorail, prevented any view of the stars. Toyvo was disappointed at this missed opportunity to see the stars from yet another world.

“Why exactly did we need to follow the shuttle again?” Toyvo moaned, displaying his disapproval with the situation with every word. “That bay was perfect.”

“Stop your whining,” Chloe responded in a patronizing tone. “We need more supplies. I lost my back in that village, and the stuff you have in that sack of yours is pretty bare bones. And judging by the looks of that shuttle they must have some pretty nifty tech.”

“Even so, I’m tired. We need to...” Toyvo was interrupted by a loud rumble coming from behind them. All three of the companions stopped in their tracks and turned towards the noise. Above them they saw the monorail speeding in their direction. The rumble was quickly replaced by a high pitch whine as the monorail began to slow suddenly.

“If it’s stopping that means there must a station ahead,” Chloe exclaimed. “C’mon, it can’t be that much further.” She began running down the road following the monorail. Toyvo followed reluctantly with the stag trotting along behind.

The monorails sudden stop had caused most of the passengers to be tossed from their seats with few exceptions. Captain Tarn was one such exception, priding himself on his ability to maintain his composure at all times. The monorail had come to a complete stop what appeared to be only a kilometer or so away from a city, much smaller than the shining city on the peninsula. Tarn peered out the window over the green landscape to observe the few non-descript buildings that comprise this community.

A pilot's voice came over the PA system, “I apologize for any inconvenience, but we are experiencing some technical difficulties. We should have the monorail moving again shortly.”

Captain Tarn, always wanting to be in the middle of the action, stood up and headed towards the pilot at the head of the monorail. There weren’t many other passengers, mostly just the staff from the landing facility, and one or two other tourists who had visited some of the more out of the way attractions.  Nearly all of the passengers were humanoid in appearance. Some had features, or a skin tone indicating they were a different alien species.

One of the passengers stood out amongst the others, his clothes were ragged, filthy, and soaking wet. The hood of his heavy brown coat obscured the majority of the man’s face. He glanced in Tarns direction. His movements were those of a person trying to conceal his face. Without knowing entirely why Captain Tarn felt something familiar about this person. He shrugged off this strange sensation as he knocked on the door to the cockpit.

The pilot opened the door. “We’ve got the conductor looking into what is going on. We’ll be moving again shortly,” The pilot said shortly. This was something he had to say on at least a semi regular basis, and it obviously annoyed him when he had to.

The monorail managed to pull into the next stop on backup power. The main power lines for the monorail system had been severed in several places. That was about all the information that Captain Tarn could get from the pilot and the conductor, other than it would be a day before they could get the system running again.

The monorail station was still designed to be eye catching even though it was only for the staff community that lived out here away from the main resort. The sleek lines and sharp angles of the exterior of the station gave it an atmosphere of elegance. Even the interior was immaculate. Nothing visible from the windows of the monorail was out of place or had even a hint of dust.

Captain Tarn made a point of waiting for most of the passengers to disembark before exiting himself. Surveying the small group of passengers Tarn noticed that the strange man in the brown coat was missing. Most of the passengers, that obviously looked like employees were still on the platform making their way to the exits while the other tourists were still milling around the platform.

“All passengers bound for Asir Resort City please gather round for instructions,” Called the conductor of the train. “There has been a power failure on the monorail line, and we have arranged other travel accommodations...”As the other passengers stopped milling about and turned to listen to the conductor Tarn followed the employees away from platform. There was something about that stranger that just didn’t seem right, and he needed to find him.

Chloe and the others approached the station just about the same time the monorail slowly eased in through the opening in the side of the building. The monorail station appeared larger than it actually was from the outside. Long walls stretched off into the forest diagonally from the station. The whole thing appeared to be one large building, but in actuality it was simply the corner of a small walled city. Toyvo was, again, sound asleep on the back of the stag. Chloe was even showing signs that she was finally wearing out as they approached the entrance of the building. This definitely wasn’t the main entrance of this giant structure. The garage doors and lack of any kind of signage made that clear. Chloe knocked on one of the small man doors. There was no response.

After trying to get someone's attention for about ten minutes Chloe gave up knocking. She turned around and found the stag and Toyvo fast asleep against the wall of the building. She took a seat on the ground beside the two. Her head dipped a couple of times, and before she knew it she was fast asleep with the the others.

It wasn’t a restful sleep. Her dreams brought her back to a time right after she was taken by Captain Tarn. Her nights alone in the freight containers wishing she could be back with her family. She called those cold freight containers home for almost four years. Even through the harsh conditions Tarn tried to endear himself to Chloe.

Tarn opened the door letting light pour into the container. His round silhouette blocking the sun from reaching her eyes.

“I will have my daughter back,” Tarns voice rang through her dream. The anger in his voice seemed out of place in her memory. “What are you talking about? This is my life. My rightful place, and I’m taking it back.” Tarn began laughing. Not a jovial laugh, but a nervous almost angry one.

Chloe’s dreams continued intermingling with her memories.

The sun broke through the canopy of palm leaves and landed on Toyvo’s face. The light caused him to grimace, and roll over. This woke the stag who stood up causing Toyvo to fall to the ground.

“Owe,” Toyvo groaned as he grabbed the shoulder he had landed on. He glared at the stag. The stag just started munching on some leaves, ignoring Toyvo’s glare. Chloe was already awake, standing a few meters away look at the ground. Toyvo stood up still holding his shoulder. “What is it Chloe?”

“It’s Captain Tarn,” Chloe replied, as she glanced over her shoulder at Toyvo.

“What’s he doing here?”

“He’s dead,” Chloe looked back down and his corpse laying on the ground.

The last time Toyvo had been in the presence of dead body was the day that his grandfather died. That was eight years ago. The morning that day Toyvo had been excited because his grandfather had promised to work with him in the hydroponic gardens. When Toyvo ran in to his grandparents room to wake him he wouldn’t respond. He pushed and yelled, nothing would wake his grandpa. Later his Grandmother had explained that he had gone peacefully in his sleep. Toyvo didn’t understand at the time. Grandpa hasn’t gone anywhere. I can see him right there. Gramma explained that he was dead.

Captain Tarn stared at himself in the mirror as the water ran red from his hands in the sink below him. His face looked haggard and worn. His eyes told a deep story of loss, despair, and desperation. With freshly clean hands, he brought his head down and washed the grime from his face. He again gazed intently at his reflection. He looked more like himself than he had in a long time. He felt like everything was finally starting to work out in his favor. He shut off the water, dried his hands, and left the bathroom.

Most of the passengers from the monorail were still milling about waiting for instructions when Tarn returned to the platform. The conductor approached a short time later and announced that they would have the option of either taking the teleporter to their destination, or riding in bus to their final destination. Seeing as most of these passengers either couldn’t use the teleporters or weren’t keen on the idea they opted for the bus. Tarn on the other hand was in a hurry to rejoin his crew at the resort and chose to buckle down and take the teleporter.

The conductor ushered the small group that had chosen the teleporter into a room just off the main platform. The wall was lined with a dozen niches just big enough for a man to stand in. Beside each was a small control screen displaying a map of the entire island resort. The conductor directed each of the small group to take their place in the niches, and then entered some commands on the control screen.

The sensation of teleportation had never set well with Captain Tarn. Every time Tarn stepped in to one of these contraptions his mind would start racing with thoughts of: What if he didn’t materialize on the other side? What if every time someone used a teleporter they died and were replaced with a copy? Would it really be him on the other side. These were his thoughts as the room around him faded in a dim glow.

Tarn nervously stepped out of the teleportation niche on the other side. He still seemed alright, all his parts were still attached at any rate. The receptionist motioned for him to approach her desk.

“Welcome to Asir Escape resort, Captain Emanuel Tarn,” the receptionist said as he approached the desk. “My name is Sam. Here’s your room key and all of your baggage has already been sent to your room.”

“Well you guys don’t seem to waste any time,” Tarn replied. “Thank you.” Tarn began to walk off towards the lobby and the elevators.

“Wait, sir, wouldn’t you like to know how to get to your room?”

“Sure thing,” Tarn turned around and approach the desk again.

“Let’s see, Ooh! Well, it looks like you’ve got a penthouse. Just take the first lift on the left all the way up to the sixteenth floor. Here’s your room key.” Sam handed Tarn a bracelet. “Just put this on and when you’re in proximity of the door it will unlock itself.”

“Thanks again,” Tarn replied as he took the card and hurried through the lobby to the lifts on the far end. The lift was ornately decorated like the rest of the resort. The decor felt ancient almost an art deco from twentieth century earth. Everything was adorned with lines and sharp angles.

“Which floor sir?” A female voice asked as Tarn entered the lift.

“I head to the penthouse on sixteen,” Tarn replied. The rear wall of the lift was covered by a large mirror. Alone in the lift Captain Tarn looked himself over in the mirror. The red captain's uniform still fit him well even after losing a lot of weight due to the stress he had been experiencing lately. He look tired. He felt tired.

Closing his eyes, his thoughts immediately went to his wife and daughter. It had been months since he had last seen them. He could still remember their faces, and the smell of their hair from the last time they hugged, before they left for Earth.

“Here’s your floor sir.”

“Thank you,” Tarn replied, too caught up in thoughts of his wife and daughter, to realize he had just thanked a computer. The penthouse was expansive, with a full kitchen and three bedrooms, each ornately decorated in the same style as the rest of the building. Captain Tarn paid no attention to his surroundings, he immediately headed for the view screen in the main living area. He sat down on the couch in front of the view screen. He cradled his head in his hands to try and calm his nerves.

“Computer, Call Brenda,” He said lifting his head toward the screen.

“Calling Brenda Tarn,” the view screen responded as it switched on. The computer in the room already had access to his information from the ship giving him the same access as he would have in his quarters. The screen displayed a images from around the resort with a couple of dots flashing along the bottom indicating the attempts to connect. Tarn watched and wait intently.

It seemed like an eternity of waiting before the view screen finally revealed the image of his wife. She looked just how he remembered her.

This chapter is unfinished.

Chapter 2