"Damn, damn, damn. Computer give me results of damage on the 'squirt drive'."
'Squirt drive locked in drive mode and at full power. Attempting to cut power to drive to release controls and return to normal space.'
I had just hit execute on a jump when a ship coming out of jump slams into me and throws everything upside down. Now here I am travelling at 10 times light and can't get the drive to shutdown. I don't even know in which direction I'm going as the impact tumbled the navigation gyros. 'Circuit breakers open to squirt drive and shut down in progress. Navigation system reset. Returning to normal space in 30 seconds... 25... 20... 15... 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.' I felt the ship lurch as it fell back into normal space and the inertia dampers came back on line.
"Computer commence search. Locate home system. Locate any nearby systems."
'Search commencing, based on visual and spectrographic data search will take 6.4 hrs.'
"Computer I am taking a rest period call when search complete or in an emergency." I go to my bunk and lay down. What a shit day; 1st, I can't get my rations stocked until after some Admiral gets his yacht restocked and refueled. 2nd, I can't get my full fuel load as the Admiral took most of the available fuel. And 3rd, I had to wait for that same Admiral to clear the system before I can leave station orbit. And 4th, all the delays have me trying to jump when some damned liner comes through early. So here I am which is exactly; WHO DAMN WELL KNOWS!
Bing, Bing, Bing. 'Position calculated. Search complete. Two systems found, one with class M planet.' The computer wakes me with its report.
"Computer report position."
'Position is 11,268 light years into sector J from nearest patrol base; 13,594 light years from Sol.'
"Computer with available fuel and rations chances of returning to consortium space?"
'Odds of successful return to consortium space 1,568,283, to 1.'
"SHIT!!! Computer can class M planet be reached with avail fuel?"
'Yes, with considerable reserve for station keeping if required.'
"Computer set course for class M planet at best speed without squirt drive."
'Computing; travel time to orbit 21 days 5 hrs 11 mins.'
20 hrs to orbit and sensors are telling me that there are no technologic indicators on the planet.
'Scan complete. No signs of advanced technology with one exception. An anomaly exists at longitude 180° 00' 00" by latitude N45° 00'00" on the small island at that location.'
'Anomaly is energy field of unknown composition blocking all scans of 1sq km at the center of the land mass.'
"Give parameters of planet."
'Planet measures to within 0.01% of Earth norms in all parameters; orbital period, rotational period, circumference, mass, gravity and atmosphere.'
"Any life signs at all?"
'No life signs, not even virus or bacteria. The planet is effectively sterile.'
"Computer initiate auto landing sequence 1 km from anomaly's perimeter."
'Auto landing sequence engaged.'
Computer set the ship down on a small flat area on the southern perimeter of the anomaly; the only flat space available. What the??
'All systems nominal. This land mass is artificial.'
"WHAT? Computer confirm last."
'All sensors show this land mass to be artificial in makeup. No volcanic upheaval apparent. No natural continental drift apparent. All scans show mass to be made of unknown material that sensors cannot penetrate.'
OH SHIT! Now what the hell is going on? I think to myself.
"Computer run complete scan on atmosphere and surrounding land masses."
'Scanning: atmosphere; Nitrogen-78%, Oxygen-21%, trace amounts of Argon, Krypton, Neon, Xenon gasses; all to within 0.01% Earth nominal. No flora or fauna found, no life signs of any known organism or of any viral or bacterial trace. Surrounding land mass: by structural formation decidedly artificial, material unknown, constructor unknown, age unknown although based on disturbance patterns of surrounding sea floor artificial mass is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. Other land masses show signs dating back at least 25 million years. All indications from primary are that system is at minimum 250 million years old. No further data available.'
WOW; now what. I guess the only thing to do is go outside and see if I can find a way through the barrier.
Just to be on the safe side I spray on a skin sealer and grab a breathing mask as I cycle the air lock. The outer door opens and I step onto the lift platform to be lowered to the ground. There is some moisture in the air due to the proximity of the seas but there is just silence. You can just barely hear waves lightly lapping at the land and a very gentle breeze blowing but nothing else. The silence is oppressive and a bit ominous. I start walking toward the barrier and it can be seen shimmering in the light. As I approach there is a sudden burst of light from the structure and as it passes over me I slip into unconsciousness.
I awaken to the incessant BING, BING, BING of the computer alert. Computer has routed it through an external speaker mounted in the airlock; the door of which is still open. My head hurts like hell but the fuzziness is clearing and I slowly sit up and look around. I pick up and place back in my ear the comm bud then; "Computer cancel alert, standby."
'A beam of unknown energy passed over your body and you collapsed from the exposure. Upon the beams termination the energy barrier ceased operation.'
"Computer repeat last."
'Upon the beams termination the energy barrier ceased operation.'
I thought to myself; What the hell is going on here?
I walk up to the structure and am puzzled as it appears to be one solid block of whatever it is built from. I walk around it; it is 500m on each side and there is no opening, no seam, no marking of any kind on its surface. I start examining the ground around the area that the beam came from and about 5m from the structure and 5m to the right of center there is a slab of the same material buried in the ground.
I brushed the grit from the surface and saw markings carved into the surface. They read;
¼⌐╢⌐ ░¡⌐╖ ▒⌐¿╣╖Ñ ╕¼⌐ —│¿—│▓ ┤░Ñº⌐¿ ¼⌐╢⌐ ª╜ ╛⌐╣╖
"Computer scan carvings and check against all known writings from any system."
'Scanning, processing, carvings appear to be from an archaic computer code known as ASCII. It was once the coding for devices to enter data into computers in the latter decades of the 20th century. It was no longer used after the discovery of direct voice input in 2035 old Earth date.'
What the hell. 20th century Earth computer code on a 'stone' block 13,000 LY away and 10,000 years old?
"Computer can you translate?"
'The inscription reads: HERE LIES MEDUSA THE GORGON PLACED HERE BY ZEUS'
"Computer repeat last."
'The inscription reads: HERE LIES MEDUSA THE GORGON PLACED HERE BY ZEUS'
How the hell did an old Earth Greek Myth end up clear out here? Did the Greek/Roman Gods of old really exist? Could this be the real Medusa, rivaled for her beauty until Hera took offense at her fucking some dude in her temple.
"Computer do you scan a way to open whatever this is?"
'The inscription below reads: If You Dare Place Your Hand On The Pad And Press Down And Turn Left.'
After clearing the grit from the rest of the 'stone' I place my hand on the pad and pushed down. It took some amount of force but finally it moved down and when it stopped I turned it to the left. It rotated about ¾ of a turn before stopping and when I pulled my hand from the well and stood up a doorway opened in the side of the structure.
I walked up to and entered the doorway. As I did it was lit by an eerie glow coming from the walls and ceiling. There is a wall set 2m out from the end of the passageway and I step to the right to go around it when suddenly the entire room is lit by daylight pouring in through skylights. They must have been sealed until I tripped some hidden release. There in the middle of the room was a raised dias with a glass sarcophagus on it.
I approached and stepped up on the dias as I looked within to see the Medusa lying there. There was another inscription carved into the glass itself.
"Computer translate the inscription."
'The inscription reads: MEDUSA Placed Here By ZEUS Until Such Time As A Lone Warrior With NO Ties To The GODS Of Olympus Wakes Her With A Kiss. BEWARE: If You Are Not He You Will Die When She Looks Upon You.'
I look into the sarcophagus and gaze upon the features that men feared for so long. She was indeed a snake; guessing she is about 20m in length, she has snake like fangs protruding from her mouth down over her lower lip of about 30mm, her skin is as snake skin and her head is covered with dozens of small snakes each with its own set of fangs. You still see though the underlying structure of her face and know that at one time she must have been very beautiful. I can imagine Hera the Queen of the Gods being jealous of someone so lovely being within her realm.
I search the case for the release catch and find it on the side opposite the inscription. I trip the catch and the glass slowly rises from this side and tilts back to allow access. I walk around to the head of the dias and peer at the face that turned men to stone. Oh well I can't get home anyway so why not. I lean over and place my lips between her fangs and press them to her lips. I feel a sudden surge go through me and as I stand up as I see her eyes open and I prepare for the worst.
Medusa rises up and turns to me and I see a change coming over her face. The great fangs are receding and the snakes on her head are changing. The snake like texture of her face is fading and snake like eyes slowly shift to those of a human woman. Her entire upper body changes and becomes more like that of a very beautiful woman.
Her eyes are a dark brown and her hair is now a luxurious black color its length about 2m and lightly curled. Her lips are a luscious deep pink and her skin is alabaster white and as smooth as the glass she was imprisoned in. Her bust is full and voluptuous about 96D or even DD but just below her navel there is no change as she remains a snake from there down. She speaks and I don't understand the language. "Computer can you translate?"
'Yes; she is saying thank you for awakening her from her long sleep.'
"Can you tell her it was my privilege to do so." I put my wrist comm on ext spkr and computer tells her in whatever language she speaks.
I hear her voice coming to me via the comm bud; "How did you break the spell Zeus placed me under?" she asked.
"I am Jason Patrick and I am not from Old Earth even though I am familiar with her myths and legends. I am indeed human but I am from the tissue vats of Omicron 3 where tissues from various species all around the galaxy were mixed for the purpose of creating the perfect 'human'. In short I am an engineered life form." Computer translates for me.
"Why didn't all of you change?" I ask.
"The curse placed on me by Hera could be broken but only in part. She was so furious that she actually placed two curses on me: the 1st being the one you broke by kissing me and not being exactly human. The 2nd was much more vicious and permanent. No matter what; the rest of me will remain as you see it and even if I should be granted the luxury of love I will be as you see me unable to have children and unchanging until such time as I die and pass over the River Styx to join those who went before," she told me.
"We have one major problem," I tell her, "there is no way for either of us to return to the worlds upon which we were born. We are more than 13,000 years travelling at the speed of light from old Earth and more than 11,000 years from the home I know. And even if I could use my squirt drive I don't have the fuel to reach even the closest planet of the consortium and refuel. So we are stuck here with each other and whatever we chose to do. Now don't you think that you should get down off there and come outside with me?"
She slithered down and the two of us proceeded out of the building and as we stepped out there was a huge energy surge from the top of the building. BING, BING, BING; "Computer report."
'There has been an extremely powerful energy pulse from the structure and it is changing things all over the planet. Plants and animals are coming into being all over the planet. Sensor scans are overloading and I am processing data at the fastest possible rate I can. Will advise when scans are complete.'
It has been a year and we have grown closer, Medusa and I, so tonight I will attempt to bed her. Unknown how she will react so here's to luck and hope everything works out.