Gordon Phillips has a new MM sci fi book out: “Renegades From the Time War.”
Carl Obermeier, a cadet at the Time Corps Academy, discovers he has been admitted to his second year on Conditional status. This is due to his high “emotional liability.” He is advised to mediate and study the precepts and disciplines of the Corps. But on his first day back, his class is shown an example of Temporal Crime committed by the Time Pirates, enemy of the Ordered Society, and he is smitten by the pirate Armand’s beauty. Troubled, Carl remains true to the Corps when he is kidnapped by the pirates and meets Armand face to face.
Armand lives a free and easy life with the pirates … until he sees Carl, and realizes the cadet has fallen for him.
As the pirates deprogram Carl from the rigid tenets of the Ordered Society, the two men fall in love. But a pirate’s life is never safe, and when Armand fails to return from an Action against the OS Marines, Carl steps up to save him. Unfortunately the men are caught on either side of the Time War. Can they find their way out?
The day of the Action dawned at last. Armand left to do preparation along with other members of the team. Carl headed down to the Operations Room, without a minder this time, and took stock of his console. The operators were put through their initial tests, and finally the doors opened and the team entered, clad in the strange, body-hugging fabric, dark in color that was supposed to have field-facilitating properties.
Armand winked at Carl as he passed. Carl smiled at him, but felt a pricking of tears in his eyes.
The Incursion field was generated, on the coordinates that had been scouted out previously. The blue circle of the incursion window flickered into being, while the six members of the team stood by in a relaxed posture, feet apart.
The field showed a room that was carved out of rock. Only the floor was smooth. From the packing cases, it seemed that the room must be a storage area for foodstuffs. There were two open passageways leading from the room and clearly visible to the rose barrier that marked the far end of the field. No human figure was in sight.
“Alright,” bellowed the Captain. “Mr Dalgliesh will as usual act as Controller for this mission. Go ahead Controller.”
“As you all know,” remarked the Controller, “this is the closest we can access. It is a local minimum in their Resistance field.”
He nodded to the leader of the raiding party, whose men moved rapidly forward into the displayed room and down the right-hand corridor.
“Reduce!” Dalgliesh barked, and immediately the blue faded into a more tenuous rose: the color of the Probe field. This preserved energy and reduced impression left by the pirates’ presence here, making it less likely the Corps security would swoop in.
The waiting began.
Less than an hour later sounds were heard, shouting and blaster discharges. Dimly three men were visible running back along the right-hand corridor. Two of the men were Enzo and Jamal. The third was not Armand. Enzo activated a hand-held device and an alarm sounded in the Operations Room.
“Request for shift to full Incursion field, sir,” commented the Controller.
“Do it!” the Captain barked.
Through the blue surface along the corridor a Corpsman appeared, moving cautiously, weapon drawn.
The three pirate raiders ran from the Incursion field, through the viewing window into the Operations Room, as more Corpsmen appeared in the corridor.
“Reduce to Probe level!” roared the captain. There was a low thunk that made the floor shiver, and the blue of the field quickly changed to rose. The Corpsmen seemed disoriented as they arrived in the storage room: the Incursion field having just vanished. Now that actual physical connection had been severed, attention in the Operations Room turned to the three pirate survivors. Carl saw that the third man was wounded.
“It was a trap,” Enzo said breathlessly. “Only three of us escaped this way. Armand took two other men a different way. Any sign of them?”
The Captain shook his head.
“There are lay lines incoming,” the Controller yelled. “They are attempting to get a fix on our location.”
“Pull out!” barked the Captain. The probe field at the front of the room collapsed.
It was several hours later that the debriefing that took place. It was not cheerful. Carl in particular was stunned, not only that Armand had apparently been captured or killed, but by the fact that the other pirates seemed to accept this almost casually. Amongst the other reports, however, it was Mr. Dalgliesh’s that offered something in the way of hope.
“I tried a minimal Probe just now,” the Controller said. “There’s a bubble with Armand’s signature within range.”
“So Armand’s party might be okay,” growled the Captain. “The question is, do we dare attempt a rescue?” He shook his head. “I think all things considered, we are more likely to lose more men than succeed if we try.”
Carl felt as though he couldn’t believe his ears.
He cleared his throat. “The Corps,” he said darkly, “are very thorough with captured pirates.”
The pirates looked at him.
“I don’t think you need worry about that,” the Captain said quietly. “Our men all have the means to prevent capture.”
Enzo made a slicing motion across his throat.
The thought of Armand, so young and full of life, beautiful and loving, ending like that, made Carl fume. He cleared his throat again.
“I would like to lead a rescue effort,” he said. “I know how Corpsmen think and operate; I know how they will proceed. I believe I can get around that.”
The Captain regarded Carl for several seconds in taut silence. Carl knew that he was considered untested and not fully to be trusted. But he had one last card to play.
“Look,” he said. “Armand handed me a black suit in my cell this morning. I didn’t know what it meant at the time. But I think he knows I’m the one to lead a rescue party.”
The Captain still hesitated.
“I’ll go with him,” Enzo said suddenly.
“And I,” added Jamal.
This appeared to tip the balance. “If you have some kind of plan,” said the Captain, “convince me.”
Carl thought feverishly.
“Three men,” he said, trying to pull together everything he had learned, at the Academy, the physical training summer camp, and what little he had gleaned watching the pirates in action. “That’s a good number—fewer men will be harder to detect. We must go in with minimal instrumentation, less detectable.”
I have lived all my life at the intersection of head and heart, science and art, so that my path has been a meander that was not just enjoyable and interesting, but often quite surprising too.
Always a fan of science fiction, I trained in several sciences and even did some research in them, producing a number of scientific papers on highly arcane topics. I have also worked at various office jobs in the computer engineering field, from which the most important thing I learned was that cubicle life was not for me.
Meanwhile, I wrote a number of articles and stories for local and international LGBTQ+ periodicals, co-authored an historical biography, and published several novella-length stories in the gay romance genre.
I have always shared my life not just with humans, but with pets, first cats and then dogs, which has taught me the joy of caring for others. Many things interest me, from the physical functioning of the universe and the engineering control systems that govern our technology, to the neurons in the brain that direct our actions.
But what had increasingly come to fascinate me in recent years is the manner in which our actions are directed by the mysterious operations of the heart, and the strange yet wonderful fact that the human heart grows when broken.