BattleTech Fanon Wiki
The Adventures of Beer Keg of Science! (Cover)

Chapter 15

The Adventures of the Beer Keg of Science!

Somewhere, Somewhen

James Kirk sat at the center of a bridge that was familiar, yet not his own, wearing a uniform like none he’d ever seen, but felt natural, and surrounding him was a crew he’d never met before, yet knew intimately. Rather than a holographic display, at the front of this bridge was a flat, two-dimensional display, overlooking an earthlike world, where a glowing, green object slowly rose from its surface. It was no ship, certainly none that he recognized.

He felt almost like a passenger in his own body as he asked his dependable science officer for an analysis of the object. In front of him, his young, Russian navigator asked, “Am I…seeing things?”

To his left, his conn officer replied, “Not unless I am, too. Captain,” the officer said, turning to face him, “that thing’s a…giant hand.”

Which was, of course, impossible, as his science officer confirmed, describing it instead as a field of energy. How his ship’s sensors could tell that, James had no idea, yet he held confidence in both his science officer and his unknown starship (“starship”?)…right up until the “hand” grabbed it.

Bob found himself sitting in an office, one crowded with ledgers stacked floor-to-ceiling, facing the back of a desk. Except it wasn’t a desk, it was, for lack of a better term, a mechanical artifact of computational archaeology. Sitting behind the desk, though, was an ancient-looking, bald, cadaverously thin man, one whom Bob had never seen before, yet whom he knew.

The man smiled thinly. “Ah, Mr. Howard,” the man said, staring directly at him, “this shouldn’t be possible, you know. Even as things align on our side, or with that ghastly contraption your people use to bypass Mr. Einstein, or your own silly experiments, this level of incursion should not be possible. Something is wrong.”

“Wrong?” Bob asks. “With what, the ship? The jump?” The other man shakes his head. “The universe?” he asks the man.

“Why stop at one, Mr. Howard? The stars will soon be right in mine. Let us hope the same is not true for yours, lest someone awaken the Sleeper.”

Ensign Jamie Shido could feel the krakens closing in on them, seeking them out, wanting to devour the crew of the Keg. Violent, hungry many-armed beasts, burning silver and scarlet, angry at their intrusion, intent on feeding upon the eigenstates of their consciousness, reducing them to entropic randomness, devouring the energy that produced, but destroying them in the process as surely as falling into a singularity.

Each time they jumped, Jamie could feel them, ever hungering, ever seeking to destroy her and beings like her. She never remembered them being quite so close, though, like they were sniffing hungrily just outside the hull of their ship, the mathematical trickery of their jump equations and the boundaries generated by their KF drive’s hyperspace field barely keeping them at bay. Was this it? Was this the time when they’d reach through the hull, slicing and devouring the souls within, reducing them to entropic randomness and leaving dead, empty shells behind?

Dominique O’Brien Howard found herself staring at an open violin case, the contents of which made her eyes hurt, and the fingertips of her left hand feel like they were bleeding. She tore her eyes away briefly, looking at her left hand, to confirm that, no, her skin was intact, there was no blood. But Mo couldn’t help but look back at the violin case again.

The violin contained within was unnaturally white – bone white, in fact, its surface looking nothing like any woodgrain she’d ever seen, whether from Terra or any other world. She wasn’t a physician, and couldn’t bring herself to touch the instrument but it looked, despite the horrid connotations if true, like it was made from bone. Worse, inexplicably, she felt as if the monstrously vile instrument was staring at her, pressing against her mind, as she recoiled in horror at its lurid familiarity.

Stark terror filled her heart as she willed her hand away, fighting the terrible urge to reach into the case, pick up the violin within, and use it to play along to the ghastly flutes and drinking she could hear in the distance…

Captain Leanansidhe Carpentier found herself in a throne room of ice, facing a throne made of the same. To one side, she saw a woman in a flowing green gown, one who, strangely, looked vaguely like what she saw when she looked in a mirror, her facial features so familiar, her long red hair cascading down her back and shoulders. The woman, at first glance, had features a bit sharper than Lea’s own perhaps, and perhaps a bit younger than the face she saw in the mirror that morning, yet a brief glance at her catlike eyes told another story all together.

Lea and the genetically-engineered Niopans like her took the name “elves”, and bore some of the features of those mythical beings, but the entity standing next to the throne was truly inhuman in its elegant features. She could feel the weight of other eyes upon her, belonging to other creatures, deadly, hungry, yet she dared not turn to gaze upon them.

But on top of the throne…

“You are not my handmaiden,” the being atop the throne of ice snarled. “Leave us,” she ordered to the creatures behind her, and the woman who was, nearly, Lea’s own reflection. As they sidled out of the throne room, she focused entirely upon the being atop the throne.

Her long hair was pure white. Not the whitish-grey that comes with old age, but the pure white of newly-fallen snow, her skin inhumanly pale, lips a frozen violet, eyes, like Lea’s own doppelganger, green, with catlike vertical slits. Lea could feel the cold air around her tremble with the being’s anger, and despite the insulation of her shipboard uniform, she shuddered. Despite the insanity of it, Lea found she knew who it was looking down upon her from her icy throne.

“You know who I am, mortal,” the Winter Queen inquired. Despite her sudden onset of terror, Lea nodded. “Say it,” she ordered.

Lea forced down her terror. “You are Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness.”

“Indeed,” Mab replied, “and yet you intrude upon my realm, mimic the form of my trusted handmaiden, and you’ve breached the walls of my fortress, in spirit, if not in body. Why? Who are you, mortal?”

Running through her mind what she recalled of the old mythology, Lea responded, “I was named for your handmaiden, your Highness. I am Captain Lea Carpentier, Niops Association Militia Navy.”

Mab stared at her intently, “Though that is not your full Name.”

Lea shook her head. “It is not, your Highness. As to why I am here, I do not know. Certainly it was not my intention to intrude upon your realm,” she replied as politely as she could.

“You are not an Outsider,” Mab replied, snarling at the last word, “but come from as far away as one can be without being an Outsider. Yet, you’re mortal. What did you do prior to your arrival here, Lea Carpentier? What manner of ship did you set sail upon, Captain of the Niops Association Militia Navy?”

“An antiquated cruiser, your Highness,” Lea replied carefully, “one refitted for exploration, though we retained weaponry for defense. I do not wish to seem impertinent, but I am unfamiliar with your knowledge of the human world, or their knowledge of physics, and the speed of light.”

“I am familiar with your Einstein,” Mab said, amusement creeping into her voice, “and know well the duality of matter and energy, and his conjecture that traveling faster than light is impossible.”

“Are you familiar with the theories on faster-than-light travel developed by Thomas Kearny and Takayoshi Fuchida?” Lea asked.

“No,” Mab replied, “though I have found the work of Miguel Alcubierre and his theory of warp drive amusing, though fortunately still missing key parts of the picture.”

”Who?” Lea thought to herself. “I'm afraid I’m not familiar with Alcubierre, but Kearny and Fuchida wrote several papers in the early 21st Century that were later used to develop the hyperspace FTL jump drive. That’s what my ship uses to travel FTL. We had just initiated a jump from interstellar space to a nearby star system, to investigate what happened to its inhabitants two centuries earlier.”

Mab grew as still as the ice of her throne. “Hyperspace FTL travel, you say? How unbelievably dangerous, and little wonder it brought you to my realm. Humanity is hardly ready to play with such incredibly lethal toys.”

“Your Highness? Once again, I don’t mean to give offense, but I presume that this has not, to your knowledge, happened before, correct?”

“No, it has not. Why do you ask?”

Lea frowned, “Hyperspace jump drives are not, for us, a new technology. Humanity’s first successful test jump was way back in 2107 and we’ve…been…”

She’d never seen Mab move. One moment, the Queen of Air and Darkness was seated upon her throne. The next, she’d grabbed Lea by the front of her uniform. “They did so when?!”

Refusing to show fear, Lea replied, “In 2107, your Highness. Over a thousand years ago.”

Mab threw back her head and laughed. “Oh, child. You’ve come from even farther away than I thought. But, no matter, I can feel the tug of space and time against you, so your visit grows short. You have given me an interesting diversion this evening, so in return, I grant you a gift. Beware the Outer Gates, and Do Not Breach Them.”

At that, Lea blacked out, knowing only darkness.

[Jump Complete]
[T = Jump + 5.0 sec]
[System Autostart: SDS-MAC_M-4.1.3159.BKoS]
[SDS-MAC_M-4.1.3159.BKoS Online]
[KF Drive…OK]
[Transit Drive…OK]
[Weapons Systems…OK]
[External EW Sensors…EM Interference from jump clear in T = J+30 sec]
[External Optical Sensors…OK.]
[Navigation Check…EM spectrum from local star matches 99.9999768% expected for Stettin system. Stellar drift calculations indicate 99.9985% with projected arrival time. Both within acceptable margins of error.]
[Internal Sensors…OK]
[Crew Vitals…Warning! Crew vital signs indicate significant TDS symptoms among 100% of crew and passengers.]
[Crew unresponsive. Continuing to attempt communications.]
[“What the hell?”]

Previous Chapter | Return to Story Index | Next Chapter