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Extract from my 2nd #WIP
Title: The Ragged Edge of Time.
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Alternate History
#SciFi #TimeTravel #AltHist

You can read other extracts clicking #1, #2, #3#4#5 or #6.

Achilles Heel

Admiral Ganchen was a short fat man with a propensity to sweat when nervous. By the time his shuttle had docked with the Dominator he was bathed in sweat, his forehead glistening like a starry night in the darkness of the shuttle’s passenger module.

“Five minutes to docking, Admiral,” the pilot said with a slight turn of his head toward the passenger module.

The darkness inside the small transport matched Ganchen’s gloomy mood.

Five minutes before I must make my long journey to doom.

The Admiral had been telling himself the same thing each time the pilot announced a new estimated arrival time. The delay for his docking with the Dominator was of the Admiral’s own doing, making the pilot change the route on the pretext of wanting a closer look at his own ship’s exterior first, in case repairs were required. Not that his ship had been in combat, he had ensured he kept well away from any danger to himself during this conflict. But at some point, he had to face his mighty leader and explain his failure, or rather his scientist’s failure. The Admiral’s scientists had failed, miserably, to get a lock on the EDF headquarters, the main reason the attack force had failed to consolidate their aggression on Earth. With that information at Hugo’s disposal, Earth would have been crippled by the ensuing bombardment. As it was, the fleet had been stuck in loose orbit around Mars for months. Vastos Hugo had fumed and the Admiral had seen a way to forward his own ambitions. He had volunteered his science department’s expertise. They would find a way through the EDF shields, he, Admiral Ganchen, would be the hero and would reap the riches that followed. Except he had not taken into account his own staff’s incompetence. Now he had to tell Hugo the truth, except he had already decided he wasn’t going to do that and lose his life. Instead he would lie, blame others, say anything and live to fight another day.

The bump of the shuttle’s arrival at the docking port shook the Admiral from his reverie and he adjusted his grandiose costume.  He was unsure of himself, but fear made him exit the shuttle and walk the short distance to the ships transporter.  One thing he was certain of, he was not yet ready to meet his doom, but resigned to his fate.




Gideon sensed the teleport’s completion cycle and waited a few seconds to orient himself. The teleport and stealth technology built into him was at a quantum level. Gideon had no heads-up readings to visualise what his surroundings were at the time of transport. Instead the quantum programming relayed a sense to him which, once translated by his quantum matrix, led him visualise his surroundings very accurately. In much the same way his programming allowed him to experience feelings, to know when something was right and when it was wrong. He felt that the Dominator had problems, integral problems he could exploit and use to gain the advantage over his foes. In stealth mode Gideon moved through the vast ship, stopping at key positions and despatching key personnel to meet whoever their maker was.




Admiral Ganchen bowed before Vastos Hugo, an elegant and over the top enterprise that lead Hugo to scowl. He knew when something was amiss and the Admiral’s glistening brow told him the man was up to something.

“What news, Admiral?”

“We have detected the EDF HQ my Lord. You may begin your attack.”

Hugo’s scowl deepened. It was the news he had been awaiting for months, but something was wrong. He knew this man, this pudgy, sweaty and mostly deceitful, individual and knew he was lying.

“The co-ordinates are?”

This was one question the Admiral had not expected of his Lord and Master. Co-ordinates where for underlings.

“I… I… honestly… have no idea of the actual co-ordinates, this is something I have left to my science division. They will transmit them to your command centre when required.”

“They are required now, by me, Admiral. Have your science division transmit them now. I abhor wasting time.”

The Admiral moved to one side and used his neural com-link to contact his ship. After a few moments he once more stood before Vastos Hugo. “The co-ordinates have been transmitted, my Lord.”

Hugo nodded to his own ship’s Captain, who in turn ordered the commencement of a bombardment based on co-ordinates provided.

The Admiral gulped and hoped that his ruse would work, hoped beyond actual logic, but still hoped nonetheless.

It was at that point that logic went out the window as a security alert from the ship’s defence computer sounded.

“Lord Vastos, key personnel aboard the Dominator have been rendered inoperative.”

“What do you mean?”

The Captain shook his head. “Computer, what are you telling me?”

“Key personnel are no longer on board or they have been eliminated.”

“Gideon Prime,” Vastos Hugo hissed. “They have deployed the Android.”

“But our intel shows he is only a prototype,” the Captain suggested.

Hugo shot the Captain a look that quietened the man immediately.

“What is it?” Admiral Ganchen muttered. “What is going on?”

Vastos Hugo was tired of the Admiral’s glistening forehead and obvious subterfuge and pulled his disruptor from his shoulder holster. Admiral Ganchen managed a startled scream that quickly dissipated, along with the Admiral’s portly body.

“I hate liars, especially fat ones,” Hugo muttered, to no one in particular.




Gideon’s mission was going well and over eighty key personnel no longer held their key positions. Their deaths had been regrettable, but ultimately necessary, if he was to have any hope of saving the Earth.

Gideon’s next objective was the engine core. Destruction of the core would decapitate the command head and leave the rest of the attacking fleet in complete disarray, such was the reliance of Hugo’s Navy on senior figures within the command structure. In the EDF each member of the force, right down to the lowliest of soldiers would have been capable of taking command and making command decisions. Not so in the Vastos Hugo Navy. Gideon knew this, and so did Vastos Hugo.




Hugo and his personal guard moved through the ship quickly. The data he had obtained from his Earth captive had been invaluable, just enough, before her untimely death, to give him an edge, albeit it a very small edge. Hugo had one chance of using that edge, it was a slim chance but nonetheless, a chance. If it failed then Gideon Prime would win and Hugo and his attack fleet would be destroyed. If on the other hand it worked, it would give him time to disable Gideon Prime.

The engine core was easily accessed by Gideon, despite being heavily guarded. His adversaries were no match for him. Gideon set the systems to overload and knew a breach in the core would lead to a systematic domino effect ship wide. Destruction was inevitable.

A groan behind him made Gideon turn. One of the engineering officers was still alive. Gideon knelt beside the young officer. The officer opened his eyes and looked at Gideon, seemingly appraising the android. The officer smiled, then frowned spluttering and coughing up blood. “You have not won. My Admiral knows you are here and he knows who you are… what you are.”

Gideon looked at the man, raising an eyebrow.

“He has rendered the core ineffective,” the officer said with a small cough, more blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. “Power is diverted to the TimeSlip device. No matter what you do, you cannot destroy this ship, or any in the fleet.”

Gideon stood and regarded the man, while he used his Q-Com to access the Dominator’s comms array. Gaining access, Gideon searched for references to TimeSlip. He found only one, classified as top secret. Gideon soon hacked into the file and what he read made him suddenly turn and run through engineering and into the science section of the vast ship.

Vastos Hugo arrived in the science section minutes before Gideon and was setting up a perimeter guard when the android appeared from nowhere. Gideon was a blur of motion, killing Hugo’s eight Guards within seconds.

“You are a marvel, a wonder of technology, Gideon,” Hugo said, smiling at the android.

Gideon’s stance was for attack, but as he looked at Hugo he saw not a monster, as he had expected to see, but his creator, his father, Maxwell Bahn.

“Your face is?”


“Yes, you look like…”

“Maxwell Bahn?”

Gideon nodded, unsure what to say or indeed what to do. His mind, not so long ago inactive, was fresh and young and inevitably not experienced. Confusion, a new feeling for Gideon, was rolling like thunder clouds through his consciousness.

“I don’t understand.” Gideon’s stance relaxed and suddenly he was immobile.

“No, I don’t suppose you do, Gideon. But I, on the other hand, do understand and in a few minutes, you will be no more. The TimeSlip device will do its work and you will have never existed.”

Vastos Hugo walked away from Gideon Prime, through a series of secure sliding doors, which he coded and locked as he went.

Gideon Prime stood motionless, powerless to move or intervene his mind in turmoil.



 Max Bahn had been monitoring Gideon’s progress via Q-Com. The data was captured and reassembled in Bahn’s lab giving him a full blow by blow account visually as well as via a holo-sim of Gideon’s encounter with Vastos Hugo. Bahn realised instantly that Gideon had been shut down in the simplest fashion by Hugo, simply by confusing the android.

“Vastos is going to defeat us, isn’t he?” Mizaki muttered under his breath as he watched the flow of data from Gideon suddenly cease. “He has somehow found an Achilles heel in Gideon, something we didn’t know existed.”

Bahn looked over to Mizaki and smiled. “I know what it is.”

“You know! You mean there was a way of closing down our ultimate weapon, our salvation, and you didn’t tell me about it.”

“Of course not, Hansi. I have only now seen the obvious. Have you not noticed?”

Hansi Mizaki frowned at Bahn. “Noticed what?”

“Look at Vastos Hugo and tell me who you see.”

The diminutive scientist tapped the computer screen and a full 3D visual of Vastos Hugo popped onto the screen. Mizaki’s frown deepened and then suddenly his face changed from frowning to a look of amazement. “It’s you and it’s Gideon. For the love of…”

“It seems Vastos Hugo and I are related in some way. That’s what he has used against Gideon, confusion. It seems Gideon is experiencing conflicting emotions, causing a…”

“A breakdown? Mizaki asked. “You think Gideon’s having a nervous breakdown?”

Maxwell Bahn slowly nodded once, but his mind was racing to find a solution to Gideon’s obvious trauma.

Tom Kane © 2017

These extracts are from the first draft, so bear in mind the story may well change over the next few weeks.

You can read other extracts clicking #1, #2, #3#4#5 or #6.

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The Ragged Edge of Time: Science Fiction Time Travel Alternate History

Welcome to Beyond: 1950s Style Science Fiction

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