Random snippet…

Getting close on this one, so it will probably be the last snippet…

As always, stream of consciousness, comments/recommendations appreciated!

Chapter 27

Five days and one burnt out cinder of a planet later, Danny, Gronk, and Adrion were deep in discussion on the bridge, “I think if we set it for two divs then, one out, and one back on a reciprocal course should give us information, assuming it makes it back.”

Gronk made a face, “Not sure. Navigation will be confused. Not know where it is.”

Adrion sighed. “Do it on the INU and the autopilot. Don’t even use the star fixes. Just collect the data and back plot it.”

Danny looked up at the overhead. “Well, doing it on inertial nav has the advantage of not caring what the star fixes are. That would turn it into a time/distance problem vice a navigation problem.”

Gronk pulled her arms in. “What if no come back?”

“Then we keep going. I’m sure as Deity not going to put the Ghost through whatever that is just to see where it comes out!”

Adrion laughed. “You know the scientists would want to try it…”

“Humph, and that is why none of them are in this discussion. They are pissed we aren’t going to look at the other two planets, but the simple fact is our rad inocs will time out and I really don’t want to go through what I did before.”

There was general concurrence with that and Adrion got up. “I’ll go program the sensidrone in chute two. It’s the older of the two, so not as great a loss.”

“Sounds good.” Danny turned to Gronk. “Are you ready to pick up Moose and Squirrel?”

“Course is plotted.” She looked up and said, “In position for drone launch.”

Danny keyed the PA, “Anytime you’re ready, Cargomaster. We are in position. You are cleared to fire.”

They felt a slight shiver through their feet as the drone fired. “Drone away, time zero nine.”

***

Three hours later, the three of them, plus Vic were again gathered on the bridge. “It’s not coming back. Time to leave,” Adrion said. “I know I didn’t screw up the programming.”

Vic said, “Leave.”

Gronk nodded grumpily. “Leave.”

Danny stretched then said, “Okay.” He activated the autopilot and added, “On course to the pickup point for Moose and Squirrel. As soon as we get them aboard, we need to make sure everything is secured, and we’ll head for home.”

Vic scratched his ear then said tentatively, “Um, I think we need to talk to the GalPat folks. Both of them had an impact from the radiation, thankfully not as bad as Crissman et al, but I wonder if they would be better off riding back through the rift in their armor? It’s… designed for anti-rad capability.”

Danny rocked back in his couch. “Ouch. I hadn’t thought about that, but that is a good point. It would have to be activated, which means out of the coffins. Do we… have room? Sure, because they are in bay three, aren’t they?”

Adion nodded. “Yes, bay three. But… we’d have live mil armor with weapons inside the ship while we’re going through multiple rifts. How much damage would we sustain if they broke loose, or if they tried to counter the Gs? Cause I’m pretty sure they won’t let us strap them down like we did the coffins.”

“Why not?”

“Dunno, but if it was me…”

Danny looked up at the overhead, “Okay, I’ll add this to the morning meeting.”

Quassim stopped at the bridge hatch, “Permission to enter?”

Gronk said, “Granted.”

He walked up to the nav table. “Any luck?”

Danny shook his head. “Nope. Fired the drone through whatever that was, and it never came back, so I’m not sure that is a jump point. This little pocket galaxy is strange to put it mildly.”

Quassim wrinkled his lips. “Probably…I don’t know. I wish we had more time, there is more to study.” He saw Danny’s expression and held up both hands. “Not now. I know we are out of time. Moose and Squirrel will give us more data as soon as we recover them, tomorrow, isn’t it?”

Danny glanced up at him. “Yes. I do have a question. That… thing that Curley shot in the edge of the forest, did you ever figure out what it was?”

Quassim hung his head. “Not really. It… had teeth. And it was low to the ground. Some kind of rounded snout. That’s about all we could determine from the two frames it was on.”

Vic mused, “Lizard? Snakehead? Something like that?”

Quassim shook his head. “Not enough to quantify. Sorry.”

Danny yawned and stretched. “Another twenty-four divs to the pickup, and I’d like to be out of this galaxy within thirty-six divs.” He glanced at the 8 day clock, “Looks like mealtime. You have the bridge, Gronk. I’m hungry.”

“I have bridge.”

Danny made a pit stop at the fresher in his cabin, then walked down to the mess. There was the usual churn of science types, lots of chatter as they discussed the esoterica of their research, and he shuddered inwardly, I will be glad to get them off the ship. It’s going to be a nice payday, but the chatter… Day after day after day… He went to the serving line and saw Daniella for the first time in five days. Her appearance stopped him cold, then he rushed around the end of the line. “Are you okay?”

Daniella looked up blearily from serving up eggs. “I’m… tired. Not getting a lot of sleep.” She covered her mouth as she yawned. “Exciting research. Lots of documentation. Just tired.”

Danny started to take the ladle out of her hand, but she jerked it back. “No, gotta serve the crew. We’re all tired. Will sleep later.” He looked around and both Cedar and Yoshi looked much the same. Worn out, yawning, and dragging around. She pointed to the line, “Get in line. Get food then go rest. You have to get us home.”

He let his hand rest gently on her shoulder for a few seconds, then said softly, “I want you to be okay when we get back too.”

She smiled briefly, pecked him on the cheek, and said, “Go,” waving the ladle at him. He got in line, picked out what he wanted, and saw Oman and Amir at one of the back tables.

Oman nodded an eyestalk at him as Amir got up. “Coffee bulb, Captain?”

“Please, Amir.” He set the plate down and slumped down into the seat. “Two more days.” Amir brought three bulbs back, handing one to Oman, then to Danny and sat back down. Danny took a couple of bites, then asked tentatively, “Have you thought about ways to mitigate the radiation we’re going to encounter going back through the rift?”

Oman and Amir looked at each other and Oman replied, “Think we have not.”

Danny yawned. “Sorry, tired… give it some thought, I know both of you were impacted coming through the rift and I’d prefer to get you back alive.”

Amir mumbled, “Me too. We’ll see what we can come up with.”

***

Twelve divs later, Danny yawned, stretched, and got up hurriedly when his bladder demanded attention. Thirty segs later, he walked onto the bridge juggling a bulb of coffee. Gronk looked up and said, “Lock on recorder, Moose, Squirrel. Ten divs out.”

Danny smiled. “Great! How far apart are they?”

Gronk pointed to the tank. “Ten miles.” She yawned massively, showing impressive canines as she got up. “You have bridge.”

“I have the bridge, Gronk. Get some down time. We’re almost… nope, not going to say it.”

She growled, “Good,” and stomped off the bridge.

The scientists were busy pinging Moose and Squirrel for their data directly, and Danny finally had to go on the PA. “I need you on the science team to stop pinging the two sensidrones. We are inbound for pickup in a couple of divs. You can wait until they are aboard and get a direct dump. In the meantime, the bridge needs a clear channel to be able to maneuver them. I will give you fifteen segs to complete any downloads in progress. After that, I’m cutting access for anyone that pings them again.”

With a growl, Danny turned back to the programming of the autopilot, carefully inputting each point, then double uallymanchecking it against his chart notes. He had finally finished when Adrion, Efrot, and Vic came onto the bridge. He looked up and asked, “What’s going on?”

Vic said, “We need to go external to connect Moose and Squirrel and ensure all the clamps catch. Also have you heard anything from the GalPat troops? We’re about two thirds of the way done with the final lockdown.”

Danny rubbed his head. “Nothing from Oman or Amir. I’ll ping them as soon as we get the drones aboard. How long do you think it will take?”

Adrion bit his lip. “Not sure. Damn scientists won’t leave them alone. I can remote them in, if I have control and I’m the only one talking to them. Otherwise, we’ll have to do it manually, and that might take a div each, since the tubes aren’t big enough for us to get in there with them.”

Danny looked up at the 8 day clock, swallowed, and said, “Screw it. I’ll secure all transmissions now,” he reached down and used the control panel on his right to shut all external communications down. “Done. They’ll scream, but to Deity with them.”

Efrot asked quietly, “Captain, can we drop a beacon to warn anyone else not to go to that planet? And maybe give them a set of courses to get them out of this galaxy?”

Danny sighed. “I would, but we don’t have—”

Efrot interrupted, “But we do have one sensidrone left. It can be programmed. We… well, my home world uses something similar to broadcast instructions to anyone who jumps in, the courses and distances to avoid the worst of the radiation.”

Danny growled, “That’s our last drone. I don’t like…” He looked down, then up at Efrot. “No, you’re right. We need to do that. Work that out with… Vic?”

Vic nodded. “We will get something set up. We can rig a power collector to it to keep it powered for a long time. Leave one sensor, probably radar pointed at the jump point. It only activates if there is a new radar contact.”

He looked up at Vic with a new appreciation. “Do it. I’ll… figure something else out replacing the drones.”

***

“That’s it. Squirrel is in the tube and connected. We’re coming in,” Adrion said over the comms.

Danny slumped back into the couch, That’s it. Now all we have to do is get out of here and back to Alpha in one piece. We’re four divs from… three divs from the start point of the route. Time to get everybody thinking about what’s coming. He keyed the PA. “Gentle beings, we will be departing this pocket galaxy in a little over three divs. I’d suggest you start securing your gear now, getting your liquid of your choice, and hitting the fresher if you need to. This is going to be as rough going out as it was coming in, so sick sacks are recommended. For the science team, I have locked down access to Moose and Squirrel until we complete the transit. Don’t ask.”

Gronk stepped onto the bridge and asked, “Need relief?”

“If you would. Moose and Squirrel have been recovered and are in their tubes. I need to hit the fresher and get some waters for the transit.”

“What about GalPat?”

“I’m going to talk to them now.”

She nodded and added, “I have bridge.”

Danny stretched as he got up and felt his back pop, then walked slowly off the bridge. Stopping by his cabin, he hit the fresher, getting rid of everything in his system that he could, then went looking for Oman and Amir. He found them in the bay with their armor and they had it up and out of the coffins. He nodded to Amir and asked, “Major, what are your plans?”

Oman rotated an eyestalk toward him. “Fix we have. Assistance we need.”

“What kind of assistance?”

“Mount we will, strap down we need.”

Danny bit his lip. “Are the suits… not going to react to the G forces?”

Oman spared an eyestalk for Amir, then went back to prepping his suit. Amir said quietly, “We have an option on the armor called keep alive. It basically locks the suit down, preventing any movement or weapons firing. The problem is, it has to be locked and unlocked externally. The second problem is, that’s a classified procedure. The major and I have discussed it, and I am to show one person how to do it. That person is you, and you have to holo sign an NDA agreeing to never release the information.”

Danny sat back. “What if… I don’t make it?”

Amir said firmly, “You and only you.” He squirted the NDA to Danny’s data comp and said, “Sign it.”

He read it quickly, pressed his thumb to the signature block and watched his holo signature pop into the document. Squirting it back, he said, “Done. How long before you two are ready?”

Amir glanced at Oman then answered, “We will be ready to go one div prior. We need you to put us on keep alive before you bring anyone in to assist in securing the suits. I will have twelve point straps laid out for each suit, along with the ratchets needed to secure us to the deck plates.” He walked over to the centerline of the bay. “We will lay out here, directly over the main cross beam. That has the most strength and should deform the least under the weight of the armor, since it is not flat on the back side like the coffins.”

“Thank you. Once I… bring you out, what will you need?”

“Probably fifteen segs to regain consciousness. After you bring us out, you need to unstrap the suits so that we can run the BIT check then we will get up, get out, and restore the suits in their coffins.”

“Food? Water? Anything like that?”

Amir smiled that chilling smile of his that showed his teeth. “Nothing. Our suits will take care of us. Which reminds me,” he turned to Oman, “Major, this time would you please remember to harden up once we suit up?”

Oman’s eyestalks drooped and he replied softly, “Remember Oman will.”

Amir winked at Danny and said, “See you in two divs.”

Danny coughed to hide a laugh and walked out of the bay shaking his head.

***

Danny watched as Oman and Amir carefully sat then lay back in their armor, then heard a soft pop and the armor’s PA came on. “Go ahead, Captain.”

He opened the panel on the side of the helmet, as he thought of it, and keyed in the string he’d memorized. The armor didn’t move per se, but it became… still. He walked forward to Oman’s armor and did the same thing, then looked up at the ceiling, “AI, PA for Adrion and Vic to report here.”

“AI copies.” There was a pop and the PA kicked on. “Cargomasters report to bay two two six alpha,” the flat voice said, then the PA clicked off.

When they came in, he pointed to the suits and straps. “Twelve point strapdown. Amir assures me they will be fine.”

“They won’t move?” Vic asked.

“Supposedly not.” He saw Adrion cock his head out of the corner of his eye and added. Amir assured me there is a procedure for that.”

Adrion nodded. “There is… but,” he looked sharply at Danny, then shook his head. “We’ll get them strapped down.”

Danny nodded and headed for the bridge. By the time he got there, Gronk said, “GalPat secured. Adrion, Vic secured.”

“Okay. Checklist?” Fifteen segs later, he finished, “Eight day clock wound. Danny chuckled as he keyed the PA. “Five segs to hyper. Crew confirm stations and strapped in.” Everyone checked in, as he watched the 8 day clock hand sweep to 12, took a deep breath, said, “Autopilot, execute track. 233, minus 46. Waypoints one through seven. Start now.”

The Autopilot flashed, EXECUTING. He felt the ship jump ahead, the radiation alarm starting blaring and voice warnings bleated, “Radiation alert! Radiation alert. Shielding exceedance in ten segs.” Danny slapped it off automatically, Yeah, yeah, I know.

Danny woke up and looked up at the 8 day clock, he could see that over 50 segs had passed, and the ship was on a course of 055, plus 124, and pulling 20Gs. He sagged back on the couch and took a pull from his bulb of electrolyte water.

They hit the gravity warp and he managed to get the sick sack in place just as the gravity maximized, his legs pulled into his abdomen. He regained consciousness after a period and managed to see the 8 day clock, staring muzzily at it, Hoo boy, four down, four to go. He looked up at the vidscreen and saw that they were still on track. Rolling his head to the side, he saw that Gronk was crossing her arms in preparation for the next gravity warp.

Coming out of a deep fog, he heard Estrella’s voice. “Captain. Wake up please. Inbound to Alpha Six, do you want me to get clearance for Station approach?”

He croaked, “Get an approach. I have… things to do first.”

She replied, “Captain there are priority messages in your queue, including one emergency message from Mapper.”

“Hold them, I have to do something first.” He pulled the stim out of his shipsuit and stabbed it in his thigh. A seg later, he stood unsteadily, then headed for the bridge hatch. You have the bridge.” Staggering down to bay 226A, he loosened the straps holding Amir down, then keyed the release code into the side of his helmet. He saw the minute movement of the suit and repeated it with Oman after he loosened his straps. Then he all but ran for his cabin, made it to the fresher, and evacuated out of every orifice. He took five segs under the rejuv and grabbed a clean shipsuit, dumped the wet one in the cleaner, and headed back to the bridge.

He hobbled onto the bridge, muscles cramping and said, “I have the bridge. What are the… cancel. Start with the emergency message.”

Estrella said, “On your vidscreen.”

Danny read it, then burst out laughing. “Oh that… is just…” He doubled up laughing until Gronk groaned and sat up.

“Captain okay?”

Danny wheezed and waved at the vidscreen. “Main vid, Essie.” He laughed then hiccupped. Warning message from Mapper not to ground on Helios. Talk about a div late and a credit short.”

“What we do now?”

Danny shrugged. “Beats me.” He keyed the PA. “Crew report. And somebody start checking on the scientists, please.”

Estrella interrupted, “Captain, we are not allowed to dock. We are to hold at Alpha Six until we are cleared.”


Comments

Random snippet… — 4 Comments

  1. Good read.

    In the first paragraph,
    Maybe add “then” after “divs” to smooth out the sentence.
    And I’m not sure exactly where, but I think you might have to grab the comma shaker and sprinkle a comma or two in the sentence. (I like to just close my eyes and randomly hit the comma key) 🙂

    In this paragraph,
    Adrion bit his lip. “Not sure. Damn scientists won’t leave them alone. I can remote them in, if I have control and I’m the only one talking to them. Otherwise, we’ll have to it manually, and that might take a div each, since the tubes aren’t big enough for us to get in there with them.”
    The “if” is in italics and I think you use italics to indicate the person’s thoughts.
    Same thing when Danny opens the panel on the armor. The word “helmet” is in italics.

    During the prep for lashing down the armor, the work “rachets” needs changing to “ratchets”

    Thank you for sharing, and I’m looking forward to more!

  2. Here goes ….

    ****

    ‘Danny rocked back in couch.’

    ‘in his couch.’ ?

    ****

    ‘Thirty segs later, he walked on the bridge’

    ‘walked onto the bridge’ ??

    ****

    ‘then doublechecking it against his chart notes.’

    ‘double checking’ ??

    ****

    ‘Otherwise, we’ll have to it manually, ‘

    ‘have to do it’ ?

    ****

    ‘to anyone who jumps in the courses and distances’

    ‘in, the’ ??

    ****

    ‘Rolling his head to the side, he met saw that Gronk’

    Drop ‘met’.

    ****

    ‘grabbed an clean shipsuit’

    ‘a clean’.

    ****

    ‘Dann shrugged.’

    ‘Danny’.

    ****

    Six divs later – and that’s yer lot. I said I was a slow reader!

  3. uallymanchecking

    added. Amir assured me there is a procedure for that.” s/b
    added, “Amir assured me there is a procedure for that.”

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