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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gremlin Catastrophe

I dreamed I was a Gremlin (thanks ET and Elizabeth, I'm certain) on a
chunk of floating planet. Unfortunately, not the sort of Gremlin with
magical powers, so perhaps more like Goblins. The chunk was a huge
volcanic mountain with chambers in the formerly molten core. There were
close to seven hundred survivors who'd made it underground and managed
to seal off the caves to preserve both water and air. A nuclear power
plant provided energy and heat as well as the power to
electromagnetically shield the living areas, sort of.

The chunk of planet we were on was large enough to provide a bare
minimum of gravity, so we had pipes going to the former surface of our
world, dredging up as much plant and animal life as would fit, along
with air and water before it completely boiled away. I didn't know that
we could actually survive for long, as we'd already lost a couple of our
grow lights, and the replacement stock was very small, only about half a
dozen lamps.

I calculated, with the rest of the survival team, that we had all of
about a year and a half to survive on stored supplies, so our plant and
animal (insects, mostly) growing was going to have to be an incredible
success in order for us to last any longer.

We were apparently a few months into this when I was elected to
represent the non-scientific community of survivors, even though it was
partly my process that had hollowed out the air tight spheres in the
magma.

One of the groups major desires was to get radio working, in case there
were other survivors out there. Even though the science team was not
sure that was truly useful, they agreed to allow some small expenditure
of resources to construct the antenna on the surface. My survivors had
to make the environment suits, though, and provide the technicians. I
volunteered as did another.

The suits were hand made from donated and scavenged materials brought
back by the robotic vacuums that roamed the surface. Meanwhile, we came
up with a way of coiling the antenna wires and then throwing them out to
make up the antenna array. We practiced a few times in one of the
larger lava spheres, one that was partly open to the surface and
therefore nearly a vacuum. We discovered some small snags in the plan,
the wires would sometimes kink up and loop around, causing waves to
build up in them and then they would break. I requested a robot to haul
the lines around, but was denied, as the science team wanted to preserve
the batteries for emergency use. There were a number of technological
item that we weren't going to be able to replace anytime soon, if ever.

The other volunteer and I talked about the plan, and we decided that
rather than just popping out to the surface and tossing the wires
around, one of us would roll out the wires. It meant a couple of hours
of outside time, rather than just a few minutes. It may have been
chauvinistic of me, but I insisted that I should be the one to roam,
partly because I was stronger, and partly because I was actually
smaller.

We made the trip to the surface and one of the science council members
brought me a spare oxygen tank on the sly. That was going to make a huge
difference, adding at least another couple of hours of hard labor time
to the task (presuming no leaks.) We stepped out onto the surface from
the elevator air lock. The night sky was fantastically clear, I could
see the molten remains of the planet spiraling out away from us, the sun
was glinting off of the fragments of the world, many of which still
glowed white hot from whatever had sundered our planet. I saw that there
were some larger chunks still floating whole, and they looked as though
they might have splashes of light on them.

Whether the light was just from the fires of destruction, or signs of
other survivors, we couldn't tell, but were hoping to find out. I ran
the wires out across the surface in long bounds, maintaining tension the
on the wire enough to keep it from kinking. I anchored each end on a
glass insulting stake and we crisscrossed the crater with wire, then put
the receiver up at the focus of the makeshift parabolic antenna. With
about half an hour of air to spare we headed back for the elevator when
there was a huge burst of static on our walkie-talkies.

We looked up. Overhead was a huge blue and green fragment hanging in a
white circle of white hot debris. It was larger than our little
planetoid, and, unfortunately closing fast. I was actually more
concerned about the antenna's survival than my own. We raced back to the
airlock, telling the people below to brace themselves, something large
was coming. It wasn't until we got back below that we found out how
large.

The science council was in our little radio room, crowded around our
small speaker, chattering excitedly to someone about the inbound portal.


I was confused.

The white hot debris wasn't debris, but an interstellar portal, one that
had been poorly aimed, one that had accidentally ripped through our
world. I was a little upset to know that the council had known about the
portal. (Thus why they had been so eager to deploy our magma bubble
process all around the world.) They were now communicating with the
portal's owners on the other side, negotiating a rescue.

The rescue consisted of pulling part of our hunk of planet through the
wormhole, and dropping it onto a world that was being terraformed. We
would be evacuated to a large stable mesa on the planet, several hundred
rescue bags were being delivered to the surface above the large empty
bubble we had used as our rehearsal room. Several thousand more were
waiting to be delivered as we discovered and located other survivors.
The wormhole was a large version of the small vacuum hose carrying
robots we'd been using to scavenge up our survival supplies. Only it
sucked up planets and deposited them on this huge framework of a world,
to which we were going to be delivered as well.

I started rounding up the survivors and getting them to the hallways
leading to the large sphere, I was soon suited up again, and hauling
large silvery spring loaded bags into the bubble, where they rolled
slowly down to the bottom of the sphere next to the door. My partner and
I then rolled the bags into the airlock, where a family would grab one
and head out to the elevator. From there, like a large hamster ball, the
family would roll the bag out to the former parking lot of the facility.
We had to them all there in just a few hours. I don't know how we did
it, but we did.

A lobe of the portal swooped down and they, and the parking lot, were
gone. A few minutes later, we heard them shouting and cheering over the
radio, they had made it.

The two of us who'd stayed behind, though, to manage the communications
with other survivors, were not going to be so fortunate. Until my
partner remembered that there was an airfield nearby. We said our
goodbyes over the radio, then suited up one last time. We bounded across
the remains of the facility, watching the portal grow ever larger. We
found the airport, and most of the planes were a jumbled mess, but there
in a chunk of asphalt was a small bi-wing, staked to the ground. My
partner squeezed into the open cockpit, then I released all of the
tie-downs. I took the longest one with me.

There was an electric cart nearby, I stuck the nose wheel tie down in
its grill and started it up, then jammed the accelerator. I managed to
climb onto the wing and then into the front cockpit. The tie-down went
taut, and we started rolling along behind the little cart.

Since there was little atmosphere by this point, I had no actual
steering control, so just hoped the little cart would roll off the end
of the long slap of concrete and asphalt with enough speed to pull us
out, off the mountainside, and then through the portal well in front of
the mass of planet behind us. Well, that was the plan, anyway.

The little cart hit a bump, and bounced up off the tarmac. It rotated
and struck the ground on its two right wheels. It scooted forward a bit,
then teetered over onto its side. The tie-down strap went slack. The
cart was sliding to a stop, directly in front of us. I climbed out and
pushed on the right wing, then tried to keep pushing, but the low
gravity made getting traction difficult. I managed to tilt the wing up
and over the cart, then had to struggle to catch back up to the plane. I
dug my feet in and pushed hard, trying to stay on the ground and push at
the same time.

We approached the end of the tarmac, where much of the mountain had
fallen away. The small plane tipped up slightly as it bumped over the
shallow ridge the defined the broken runway, and momentum carried it
over the edge. I jumped after it, overtaking it, and several feet above
it. My partner had pulled in the tie-down strap and tossed it out in
front of me.

We hit the surface of the portal, and there was atmosphere. The plane
stalled beneath me and I grabbed the end of the strap. I shot over the
top wing and my fall pulled the plane's nose down, breaking the stall.
We fell, I pulled myself up the strap, watching the first bit of the
mountain hit the surface of the portal, and explode into fire. It was
gaining on us.

"Start the engine!" I shouted, but my partner waited until I was past
the engine and hanging on to the wing struts before trying.

I could feel the heat above us. The engine sputtered. I prayed that the
fuel system was sealed enough for the fuel to still exist. I worried
that the lubrication of the motor might have boiled away in the vacuum.
The propeller turned and I dove head first into the cockpit, trying not
to hit the flight controls as I tucked myself into the flight harness. I
put us into a slight roll and tried to aim for the nearest edge of the
mass being torn up by the portal. Small bits of debris pinged off the
hull and wings around us. The plane lurched as the engine coughed and
sputtered, cutting into the thin air enough to pull us forward.

Our radio crackled to life, the council asking what was going on. "Hell
raining down on this world, how do we get to you?" I asked, but there
was no reply, just repeated calls for updates on the situation. I
realized they must be out of our radio's range.

There was no answer for several seconds, long enough for us to steer
away from the debris falling past us, and soon any answer was blocked
out by intense static interference. I started looking for signs of life,
but there were none, deep canyons and crevasses with an odd silvery gray
framework were slowly being covered by molten rock that seared the sky
and crashed behind us with continuous shock waves that pushed us on the
front of a roasting wave of heat that made controlling the plane
difficult. We dove for well over a minute, our planet roaring through
the portal, being sucked to its final location a bit at a time as it
ground against the portal's surface, torn and collapsing to the ground
far below.

As we got closer to the ground I could see signs of plant life in the
distance, and we both decided to head in that direction, even though, as
far as we knew, we might be flying in exactly the wrong direction.
Clouds blotted out the sun and lighting arced all around us. The heat
began to be unbearable, our little suit batteries finally starting to
run down. We put the plane into a dive, building up our airspeed to the
red-line. My partner let me fly while she tried to find something on the
radio other than static. I told her to try the walkie-talkies, too.

There was nothing, however, but static and heat. At least both tanks
read "full" and when we got lower the air was cooler and smoother. I
spotted several lakes and meandering rivers in the distance and gently
nudged the plane in that direction, we needed to find flat ground to set
down on if we ever expected to be able to take off again. Problem with
grassy fields is that you couldn't see how bumpy they might be from the
air, so a long stretch of gravel shoreline seemed like a better plan. I
found myself wishing we'd looked for a float plane.

The radio crackled and sputtered, but we could make out our council,
we'd been flying in mostly the right direction, to judge by the Vortac
radios, once I got them tuned to the same frequency.

I wondered how their radio was working at that distance, but it dawned
on me that we were probably using a radio from the group that killed our
world. I flew for a few minutes about ninety degrees to our former
course and then took another bead on the radio. The lines were very
nearly parallel, either their radio was moving, or we were hundreds of
miles from their location.

The dream jumped ahead several days. We'd set a lean-too up using the
wing of the plane as a roof. We'd apparently just about run out of fuel,
and were only using the engine to charge the batteries to keep the radio
going. (I figured we could listen about an hour a day for the next five
months or so.)

We'd heard other survivors on the radio, even managed to talk a few
moments to some of them as they passed so far overhead that we couldn't
see them, so knew our little group wasn't the only one that survived. I
kept a fire burning and hoped that someone would fly over and see our
bright yellow plane from the air. We'd managed to find grain and fruit
that was edible, as well as some fish-like things. (Information from the
radio helped identify animals that were safe.) My partner was confident
that rescue would only be a matter of waiting for the collection of our
planet to cease, then the aliens would be able to fly out and pick us
up, they were too busy rescuing others at the moment.

Another time jump. We were indeed rescued, but had to leave the plane
behind. I took the radios and the battery, though, just in case. I was
in a group that was overlooking the deposited remains of our world,
still molten and glowing, but with odd bits of other planes and loose
remnants of debris that had somehow been cast out from the periphery of
the storm and littered about this new world. I'd found some old phone
bills, along with the other papers that had somehow survived the intense
heat, or been blown away from the cataclysm.

It was all sort of depressing. The aliens were very tall, about two to
two and a half times our size, but oddly similar in construction. They
didn't have tails, though. They were very, very, sorry; and seemed to be
doing everything they could to rescue whatever populations they had
found still alive, they had even turned over their pre-built colonies to
us. Still, from a world of several billion souls, we now numbered only
in the thousands.

I looked down at the pile of papers I had collected and then let them
drop from the ledge I was standing on. They fluttered down into the
still molten remains of our old world and vanished in a series of
flashes. I hoisted my radio pack and headed back to our observation
tower.

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