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It was a bitter darkness he was witnessing. Black as night for as far as the eye could see, in every direction but sideways. Sideways is an interesting concept to ponder when you're rotating on an axis, Alexander reflected. Off to his perceptual side lay the giant Jovian planet Tyrssus III, containing a mine for the rare gases contained there.

That was what initially brought him there, after all. Alexander was a brilliant tradesman, granted every favor allowed him by heavy genetic engineering, nanobiotic physical augmentation and a sophisticated internal quantum computer. Gifts from daddy to his rebellious son. Alexander began with routine missions to obtain his pilot's liscense and initial credits, but the ominous presence of Tyrssus in the back of his mind always loomed like a terrible shadow, drawing him forward as a moth to flame. He couldn't resist making the dangerous run through pirate-controlled nebulae (no federal monitoring), intricate gravity warps (antimatter warfare), and Behemoth ships, from the D'daktans. Not hostile, but regarded as the largest nuisance in the federated territories, D'daktans were the taggers-on of extraterrestrial races, only recently spaceworthy, and extremely proud of their, so far, minor accomplishments.

Akexander was a brilliant captain, however, and encountered few challenges worthy of note. Thus it was the greatest irony of all that after finding adventure and dashing experiences on the trade route, he be stranded before a routine docking procedure.

He didn't know how, and all attempts to replay the situation via neural computer link only served to deepen the quandary, but the fusion drives gave out. A flashing warning told the captain about the oncoming subatomic particles of antimatter that collided with the fusion storage cells, creating a moderate explosion, which weakened their molecular integrity, and caused the fusion cells to detonate later.

In the meantime, Alexander used supplemental adrenaline boosts and all his cumulative skill to order the meager crew and himself into separate evac pods. The crew in one, him in the other, out of the romantic notion that he could return to his beautiful ship. Such was not the case, however, as the fusion cells detonated before he could be outside the radius. That explosion was the kicker, to use an old phrase. It crumpled the metal of his cold gas propulsion system and the hull, and now he sat waiting. Waiting. And watching the red-brown swirling giant that had created it all, slowly passing by his viewpoint. He was beginning to slowly choke on accumulated CO2 that his suit's air scrubber could no longer dispose of. The hallucinations that resulted were mild, and could not dispel the terrible darkness encroaching upon every iota of his attention, every particle of his being. The darkness was his entirety, as it is for us all one way or another

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The following comments are for "Routine"
by Washer

Memories of Elite
All the details in this story brought back memories of the old computer game Elite (and Frontier, Elite II).
In truth, there really isn't much of a storyline here, but you've done a good job of creating the universe that the character lives in.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: February 20, 2003 )

No excuse there
I'd like to say I had some higher message I was trying to convey, or I was really interested in developing Alexander as a character, but it was mostly just a really quick hard sci-fi piece. I'll maybe re-write this sometime, and make it not be terrible. Thanks for the comment.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: February 20, 2003 )

Overall I liked it, when I have more time I'll check for any follow up stories.

The only thing I would have liked to see improved is more details to his leadership; but it showed his ego well enough to give the story a nice spark of interest.

( Posted by: Ragath [Member] On: May 21, 2003 )

Snoochie boochies
A competent use of prose. Like something a tad longer myself, but this conjures up well the place. Would like to know what he hallucinates; you can't beat a good bit of wild imagery to boost a story.

( Posted by: albie [Member] On: July 1, 2003 )

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