AQ – 02 – Old Enemies become New Friends

Jonathan’s eyes fluttered open.  His head was pounding and the cotton mouth had returned, but it had a metal taste to it now, a taste of iron.

He licked his lips and realized that there was dried blood on his lips.

“Greetings, Let us try this again,” said the voice of Osama Bin Laden floating in the air 5 feet away.

Jonathan’s brain was not cloudy any longer.  He smiled at the gangly old man and said, “Yes, let’s do that.  You can start by untying my arms and legs.”

Jonathan was strapped to what was a wall from his current perspective.  It could just as easily be a ceiling or floor, but it didn’t matter when space was relative, and Jonathan new one thing for certain.  He was in space and this sorry piece of shit in front of him needed his help more than Jonathan needed Osama’s in return.

The old man lightly walked himself hand over hand towards Jonathan.  He smirked in an ironic way that only a few reporters had ever witnessed and then unlatched the Velcro restraints that had Jonathan’s arms pinned down.  Osama glanced down for just a second towards the chest and leg restraints and then looked away with a  blush on his face and proceeded to retreat in an even more awkward hand over hand movement keeping his eyes locked on Jonathan.

Jonathan removed the chest strap himself and chuckled as he attempted to bend down and unlatch his own legs.  He too was wearing one of the ridiculous unitards and still had a fucking hard on as did Osama now that he thought about it.

“I take it that despite yourself, you aren’t exactly happy to see me?” Jonathan joked as he pointed at Osama’s engorged embarrassment.

“No and Yes.  It would seem we are all inflicted with this curse after awaking from deep sleep.  However, I am somewhat pleased to have someone of your skills present under the circumstances.  We have a most pressing problem.”

“No shit, we are stuck in space together, and I am the only rocket scientist on board.”

“Yes, and we are starving.”

As Osama said that, Jonathan recognized his own pangs of hunger.  He felt as if he had just run a marathon on fumes and desperately needed to refuel.

“We have searched the ship to the extent that is safe and we can find no sources of food other than the IV drips that seem to have ceased to function when we came out of stasis.”

Jonathan immediately understood the problem.  They were not supposed to be awake.  They were supposed to remain in stasis until their ship was retrieved out of Earth orbit.  Somehow they must have awoken prematurely or maybe Earth had simply failed to retrieve them and some fail safe system had kicked in and woken them up.

“Why should I help you or any of your crazy jihadist buddies.  The last time I was forced to help assholes like you, I ended up in prison for twenty years and then dumped into space after that.  Hell for all I know, if I help you, you might try and use this space ship as a weapon against the Earth.”  Jonathan’s anger had increased with every word.  After so many years in prison, he was not against the notion of killing himself.  He had definitely entertained the idea many times and worked through several different ways to do it, given half the opportunity.  Unfortunately, until now, that opportunity had not manifested.

“You are not a fool and we share something in common.” Osama said.

Jonathan snorted.

Osama continued, “We are survivors.  You survived in Pakistani custody for three years and in Guantanamo for twenty.  You were tortured by the Pakistanis, and by your own people.  You may not wish your people any harm, but you know how to survive.  I too know how to survive.”

Jonathan’s stomach rumbled audibly.  He nodded and said, “Let’s see what we have.  For now.”

Osama floated back a foot or two and gestured two his right.  Jonathan pushed off the wall and grabbed the handholds and started to proceed into the next compartment which lighted as he entered.

It was a massive cargo hold with rows and rows of oval tubes larger than a man.

It took them about five minutes to navigate to the end of this hold and this brought them to a door.  The door had a small rectangular port hole and warning language near the door.

It was an air lock.  Jonathan approached the window and looked out into starry blackness.  He looked at the door again and noticed a blue lever labeled hatch lighting.  He flipped the switch and looked back out the port hole.

Over one hundred meters away along a frame like structure of tubes and cables, Jonathan could make out what had to be the primary compartment for navigation.  This would have been the structure for the pilot that had initially launched the ship.  The void in between was the space previously occupied by the shuttle that the pilot had likely departed the ship within.

To get to the main controls of the ship, they would have to find a way to navigate one hundred meters of vacuum, absolute zero temperatures and god knows what type of radiation, and they needed to do this within just a few days or die of starvation.

Jonathan realized that before him lay the opportunity to end his own torture, sabotage whatever plans Osama had started to conceive and more.  All he had to do, was to release the air lock.  He looked down at the safety cover over the release lever.  He started to reach for it, and stopped.

If worse came to worse, there would be other ways to kills these mother fuckers.  Sucking the air and the life out of them, refreezing them in outer space, that was too easy.  He would not make martyrs out of these assholes.  He would make them pay first.

Continue to Next Chapter - AQ – 03 – Clearing Your Head Before a Space Walk

AQ – 01 – Jonathan Awakes

“OoooOOOOOHHHHH, whoa!” This had to be the worst hangover Jonathan Seymour had ever had.  His tongue had a foul taste to it that crossed the boundary of cotton mouth full on into chewing on grains of the Sahara encased on a bicycle tire tube.  His eyes ached from the light coming straight through his closed eye lids.  He realized that his eyelids were indeed closed as he could very distinctly see veins in the skin.  Wait, that didn’t make since…

That’s when he gagged.  Oh my god did that hurt, he coughed but his throat constricted around more of the same Sahara sand painted tire tube.  He retched and retched and the sand coated tube started to move just a fraction.  Jonathan realized he was going to choke to death.  He was choking on his own tongue.

Then something was pulling his tongue out of his throat.  No that wasn’t right, he could not feel his tongue being pinched nor pulled.  There actually was something in his throat and it wasn’t his tongue, or at least not his tongue that was choking him.  After five excruciating seconds of pain, the gagging tube of torture was removed.  He gasped and his throat felt like it was on fire.

His mouth attempted to shut but something was preventing its full movement.  He couldn’t quite feel his own lips.

Then a gusher of ice cold water shot into his mouth and down his throat.  Again he felt like he was going to choke to death, no he was drowning!

Wait! He was so confused.

The water slowly soaked into his mouth and throat, and then his mouth and throat went numb.

It had to be some kind of medicine.  He could not taste anything now and his mouth and throat felt as if he had just received a shot of Novocain.

He could feel some pressure through his teeth and the bones in his jaw.  The obstruction that had kept his mouth open was being removed.  It felt like a mouth brace or maybe a mouth guard like one he had worn as a kid in tae kwon doh classes.  He flexed his mouth and then shut it.  He could tell that his mouth was not fully shut, and then a new sensation.

FIRE!

He was suddenly inhaling fire, in his mouth and down his throat.

He started to scream and choked on fire going into his lungs.  Then his mouth, throat and lungs started to feel normal.  He realized that another fluid had been sprayed into his mouth.  This one tasted like marshmallow in liquid form.  It left his teeth coated with fuzzy feeling cotton candy.  He attempted to swallow and realized that he had no saliva in his mouth.  He exercised his tongue against the glands in his mouth and was just able to coax a small amount of saliva into his mouth.

That’s when he was blinded.

Fire, this time in his eyes.  The red veins were gone and all he could see and feel was white hot light.  Another spray hit his face and he was blind again and soothed.  The fire was gone, some light remained but it was completely foggy.

One more emergency averted he refocused on his mouth.  It was slowly coming back to life and starting to lubricate with saliva.  He heard a very loud noise behind his head, he must be laying down.  No he must be hanging upside down.  No that wasn’t it, he was completely confused now.

He heard something bang into something else hard and then a curse.  The curse was in Arabic.   He thought to himself, ‘How do I know that is Arabic?’

The opaque light started to clear and he looked out.  He could not quite make out his surroundings in a room that seemed infinite in length, slightly dark up close and immensely black in the distance.  His eyes contracted and everything went out of focus again, then slowly, even more slowly than last time started to come back again.

“What happened?” he whispered.

“Yes indeed.  That is a fine question.” responded a voice in English, a British type of English, no that wasn’t right.  It was a different accent all together but spoken with British dialog.

Jonathan’s eyes came fully into focus now and he looked up to behold a very tall man flying in the air with an extremely long beard down to his navel, dark eyes wearing a unitard that looked like a wrestling singlet.  Poking through the beard at his waist Jonathan could see that the man had an erection.  The size of the erection was not significant but oddly the erection was pointing straight out, perpendicular as opposed to being pointed up towards his belly or chest.

Two seconds later Jonathan realized three more things.  He had a crazy almost painful erection himself.  The man he was looking at was Osama Bin Laden and he was surrounded by dozens of Jihadists similarly dressed and holy shit, they all had erections too!

“Fuck, I’ve died and gone to heaven and here are my virgins!” Jonathan exclaimed.

“Not exactly,” and Osama hit him straight in the face.

Jonathan went out like a light.

Continue to Next Chapter - AQ – 02 – Old Enemies become New Friends

014 – Al Qaeda in Space

vers 1.1

Brad was headed home and he was exhausted after having to decontaminate. Fortunately, the crime scene Bot’s ability to lift individual layers of evidence also gave them the ability to clean up a mess relatively well.

In reality, Rubenz had actually become a piece of evidence himself. He frowned at this notion as he realized how ridiculous this would look when this case ultimately went to court, not to mention his next review.

Brad was riding back in a common pod. As there was no emergency to respond to now, he did not rate the emergency response pod. He was sitting across from an off duty patrol person, who sat next to what appeared to be a soldier on extended leave maybe even a recently discharged veteran.

Next to him a teenage girl and her grandmother seemed to be wrapped up in a video game. Grandma was apparently much better at first person shooters judging by the curses coming from the granddaughter.

Brad had a lot of follow up work to do, including some interviews with a long list of people. He needed to track down a specialist in prosthetics, he needed to investigate some of the background of this sexual fetish trend, and he needed to dive into the financials of the victim, his company and more.

He touched the side of his own hand held computer which came to life in vivid 3d color visible only to him. The optical illusion of the screen made him forget that he was sitting in this pod and made him feel part of the online landscape.

A.D.D. kicked in and he was instantly pulled into a news update about Al Qaeda in space, this also apparently seemed to be the topic that the patrol person and the soldier were discussing.

Brad started to read a report, refreshing his memory and getting the latest on this event that was likely to cause a lot of trouble both internationally, and maybe locally.

"About 50 years ago in the mid twenties, while the remains of the US government were still being rebuilt and the UN had reached a war crimes stalemate in regards to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees. For almost two decades fighters picked up around the world and some on the battlefield had been held in various locations around the world where the UN had little sway. Initially, they had kept many of them in Guantanamo Bay Cuba in a US military prison. But after Castro finally passed away and Cuba melted back into a capitalistic economy, the base there fell into question. The prisoners proceeded to move on a musical chair like path from one gray holding area to another."

"Times have changed but not that much. We can't just bring them back to earth and lock them up again," said the soldier who continued, "but take it from me we can't let them go again either."

"Do you really think some backwards resistance fighter from the turn of the century could keep up with the advances we've made in crime investigation, anti-terrorism, hell even warfare? It has been 15 years since I served in the military myself and even then we were far more advanced than when these Al Qaeda losers were still training on monkey bars." said the cop.

"... the US was losing political favor at an international level. Antarctica and the moon were both bastions of the UN, and the US could not hold them on their own soil or face war crimes charges. No US administration wanted to touch the problem with a ten foot pole. . . . "

"They have a will to fight and fight back unlike what we are used to today. Yes we are technically better, but mentally we are a little softer because our current adversaries are also softer. Everyone knows that the Taliban these days are pretty much just bureaucrats and Al Qaeda is more of a PR firm than a terrorist cell, but give them a fresh infusion of psychopaths with a blood lust and nothing to lose . . . " said the soldier.

"Shit we can practically predict a crime before it happens in most cases today. Plus, we have extensive psychological profiles on these assholes in space. I had to write papers on several of these tools myself in 101 level courses in college. Even if they have the will, they could barely reach down to pull a knife out of their boot before we'd know, let alone cause mass murder." said the police officer.

"...Remnants of the twentieth century NASA program that wanted to salvage some portion of their once sizable budgets dug an old technology out of the vault and offered up a solution. The idea was simple. The prisoners that did not qualify for repatriation, mostly Al Qaeda and various suicide bombers that had failed to detonate would be put into hibernation, a technology not far removed from cryogenics. They would be placed in a space ship and sent into space on an elliptical journey around the solar system."

The officer continued, "many of these guys are going to be pretty docile after being imprisoned for almost two decades on Earth as is. They are not young men any longer."

"That actually is something that makes it even harder for us," said the soldier. "Sure some will be docile, but those will actually serve to hide the dangerous ones even more. During that time they had ample opportunity to cook up new plans and ideas for revenge. Plus some of the political skeletons that were buried in past peace reconciliations will likely be disturbed all over again, unsettling people that for thirty years have come around to our side, but once disturbed might cause trouble again. The original warlords themselves may not be much of a threat here on the ground, but their children and grandchildren have benefited from their payoffs. A lot of people received those old fashioned greenbacks to stop fighting. Even while that money was being used to buy better food, homes and more, they were going home at night and telling and listening to the old stories of battle and glory in the name of Allah. Add into this mix, several thousand heroes of Allah that haven't been around or close to show just how crazy they were or are and their influence today might even be greater than it was when they were at the peak of their training." said the soldier.

"It was a fifty year journey. The decision basically kicked the political can down the road. Once the deed was done, no one could do much about it, but the fifty year game ends in two weeks. Al Qaeda would be returning to Earth and no one knew what to do with them still. No one alive today, really had much skin in the game for the decision made fifty years ago. The US government didn't truly exist in its past form. The world community didn't hold much of a grudge against the US for the mistakes of its predecessors. The former countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, which were now collections of large feudal city states, did not want the fighters back. They had been continuously at war the entire time, but the fight had changed. Some factions still wanted to have foreign fighters removed from their soil, but the definition had been muddled. There was almost no side in the fight that did not have foreign fighters on their side. The immediate families of the men and women of Al Qaeda in space had all aged and mostly died away. Those that still survived would not acknowledge the connection, even though intelligence reports still had them documented."

In short no one wanted Al Qaeda. Plus, for fifty years parents around the world had turned Al Qaeda members in space into something of a bed time story bogeyman for their children. 'You better eat all of your food or Al Qaeda will fly down from space and blow you up.' 'Don't eat that gluten filled cookie or Al Qaeda himself will hit you with a beam from space and give you a belly ache.' The stories were never very realistic and often times personified the entire group as something of an angry super man or woman depending on the story.

But now the real Al Qaeda fighters were going to pass by Earth. If the world failed to pluck them from the sky, these Al Qaeda detainees would go around the solar system again, which seemed very inhumane. The world collectively felt like it had advanced past such barbarism, but it couldn't collectively figure out a solution either.

If they did collect the spacecraft, bring Al Qaeda down to Earth, then what? They couldn't be prosecuted. It was inhumane to hold them on Earth longer, especially if they were allowed to age. From the information they had from the spaceship, all of the sleepers were still in good health and had not aged much, it would be as if they had been asleep for about a month.

"No matter what, we can't just send them back around the solar system to lose another 50 years. That would be adding one crime to another, and they would be that much more out of place in fifty years when they came back around. Besides, there is the emissary issue. We are starting to get more signals from other likely sources of intelligence in space. What happens if some other species come to visit us, and stumble upon Al Qaeda first? Do we want Al Qaeda to make the first impression or alliance with a foreign intelligence? They are more of a threat to Earth in space than they are here living amongst us," said the patrol person in a definitive statement.

They would need physical rehabilitation. Their bone density and muscle mass would need a severe amount of therapy and rebuilding. So they would not be an immediate threat in a physical way, but what about their infective ancient ideas of revenge and terrorism and fighting off foreign invaders from their home land?

"That's just some old superstition that dates back almost 100 years to some silly science fiction movie that was old even to my grandparents. We shouldn't opt for a dangerous bird in the hand to avoid a hypothetical pair in the bush. That analogy only works in reverse when the potential involves reality, not some politically cooked up fear. That's the type of fear that started this war to begin with." said the soldier.

To Brad's ears, the pair seemed to be arguing in circles and he was starting to have a difficult time assessing which side either of the participants were really on.

The world frankly felt that they did not need those old wounds re-infected. There was only so much that science, therapy, re-education, and re-training could do. The Al Qaeda banishment of fifty years ago as terrible as it was, is still one of the few effective punishments to prevent suicide bombers that society has come up with. It deprive a suicide bomber or terrorist of their homeland, of their life (temporarily), of their afterlife and all of its promises for fifty year stretches and the cost benefit analysis that was pitched to a suicide bomber became much more difficult to rationalize.

'Go blow yourself up for the cause, and you will die a martyr in heaven with seventy-two virgins and the best afterlife possible under god. . . .' But that didn't play out very well when modern science could heal almost any wound. That included many suicide bombers post detonation. Science could keep a brain alive if found in tact and put someone's consciousness on deep freeze for fifty years ago blocking them from their heaven.

Furthermore, PR campaigns in a post super digital world were so powerful that any given terrorist organization could barely account for whether or not a suicide bombing had been remotely effective. Digital cover ups stopped them from finding out if the bomb went off. It prevented them from determining if anyone was killed or injured including the bomber. They could barely determine if any property was damaged, destroyed or scratched.

Terror did not work if no one saw the results of terror. With no horrid death and destruction visible, it was as if a tree fell in the forest and no one was there to hear it, talk about it, and no one could find the remnants of the tree at all! No terror, no career path for terrorists.

But these Al Qaeda space travelers had the concept ingrained in their psyche before the super digital revolution. That and they had been imprisoned for fifty to seventy years or more, held captive, in some cases physically tortured, and in all cases severed from their families and friends, who were now probably dead. In short they had yet another axe to grind.

Even with the PR tools of the present, the ever present digital recording devices around the planet would watch them around the clock. If they did find a way to cause damage, it would be sensationalized worse than the hundreds of movies on just such a possible scenario had predicted fictionally, while they were still in space.

It was a big fat mess and Brad was captivated by the story, but he had some work to do. The community pod came to a stop. As he got up, the grandmother snickered and her granddaughter snapped a quick picture of him. Brad stepped out of the car, and could see through the window as the pair started talking. On the screen of the grandmother’s device was a news report and video playing featuring an image of Brad standing in the warehouse with a giant erect phallus on his head.

Continue to Next Chapter - 015 – Another Discovery