Beginning of Story
Friday, February 28, 2014
Tim poured over the new data from the recent probe. He was comparing it to current target the station was working on. He lit up a second hologram next to the one they had been working on and looked up.
“Holy Shit!” he exclaimed as he rotated the two around.
Sam looked up “What are you so …” she hesitated and twisted around “Wow. Is that what I think it is?”
“Looks like it.” Tim pondered. The two asteroids were virtually identical.
“Ok, then take a look at this.” Sam punched a video over to Tim. “Pay attention to the center of that circle.”
The video image was the circle of gold pads the surveyor took in the last seconds of his existence.
“That looks like some kind of attachment point in the middle.” Tim examined it closely.
“Exactly.” Sam looked back to the hologram. “So that leaves the question of just exactly what these things are.”
The door to the compartment opened and commander Dickerson floated in “I brought some coffee and a couple of snack bars. Real meals will be here shortly.” She looked to the hologram “Is that what I think it is?”
“Sure is.” Tim flicked on another layer of graduations “And you need to take a look at this too.” He waved the commander over.
Kim floated over to Tim’s console and handed him a bottle of coffee. She looked intently at the image on his screen for a moment. “That is an attachment point.”
“Obviously.” Tim noted “Which means those are contact pads to interface to something else. Leaving the question of ‘to what?’.”
Beginning of Story
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Commander Dickerson floated into the transport operations center and closed the door behind her. She checked the status displays on her way to her duty station. Several crew members acknowledged her presence and saluted to which she responded in kind. She tapped Lt. Aiko on the shoulder “Relieving you of control, and I believe it is time for you to rest.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” He released himself from the station.
As the two traded positions the commander asked “When is the shift change?”
“Twenty minutes ago.” Lt. Brown responded.
“Then what are you still doing here?” She asked.
“Same as you.” Lt. Xi filled in.
The radio lit up “Albatross station, transport 2. One of our survey team just exploded. Sending the video record now.”
“Transport 2, please repeat your last transmission.” Lt. Xi was confused “Did you just say your survey team exploded?”
The transmission was repeated. The entire compartment was silent as Lt. Xi gave the command to stay away from the surface.
“So much for the shift change.” The commander got down to business “Get those video records over to lab 4 immediately and let’s see what else the other teams can find.” She punched the intercom “Lab 4, you need to analyze those videos and figure out what went wrong. Yesterday!” She shouted.
“Go ahead bridge.” The commander was quite short since she was focused entirely on the report from the transport.
“You are overdue for a shift change.” The captain was clearly annoyed “I need all crews to be at top performance and that means you have to get your rest. So change that shift!”
“Aye sir!” She responded to the bridge. “Alright crew, whether you can sleep or not it is time to change.” She looked around the compartment “Where is the new shift?”
“We’re here ma’am.” One of the officers responded “We’ve been monitoring the situation so the briefing is not needed.”
“Very well.” The commander reluctantly gave up her chair and headed for the door “See you in 8 hours.”
Beginning of Story
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The survey team floated out of transport 2 toward the crater. They spread out to cover the greatest area with their equipment active and transmitting a real time stream back to the transport that relayed it back to the station. Due to the lack of gravity, all of the team was using jet packs. The jet streams caused loose ice to blast out in various directions, clouding visibility.
One of the survey team headed to the bottom of the crater. He looked down and noticed something very curious. “There is some kind of hard, smooth surface down there.” He reported “And there is something that looks …” He hesitated “It is not right.” He focused his camera on the surface below.
The image showed 6 gold circles approximately 10cm across in a roughly 1 meter circle.
“The surface looks to be smooth, either metallic or ceramic.” The surveyor reported.
He slowly approached the circle, descending toward it and panning the camera around looking for other features. His feet gently contacted two of the gold circles.
The surveyor was instantly vaporized in a huge flash of blue light. The force of the explosion pushed the other surveyors back.
“What the hell was that?” The transport pilot shouted into the radio.
One of the surveyors responded “We just lost a team member in what looked like an electrical explosion.”
“Oh shit!” the pilot responded. He punched the radio button to the station “Albatross station, transport 2. One of our survey team just exploded. Sending the video record now.”
“Transport 2 please repeat your last transmission.” Lt. Xi was confused “Did you just say your survey team exploded?”
The pilot repeated the transmission.
“Stand By transport 2. And don’t let anyone else near that surface.” The command was clear.
Beginning of Story
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The returning long range probe parked directly in front of bay 5 at the back of the station and signaled that it was ready for docking control. The docking bay doors opened as the control operator slowly navigated the probe inside. The probe was directed directly to the decontamination and re-pressurization chamber.
“Bridge, bay 5.” The operator carefully guided the probe past the obstacles in the bay.
“Bay 5, go ahead.” Came the response.
“We have the probe and are docking it in the decontamination chamber now.” She closed the docking bay doors and the door to the chamber. “Do you want it moved to a lab after pressurization?”
“Negative. The crew will service it in the chamber and we will send it right back out when that is done.”
“Roger, we will be standing by for launch instructions.” She switched off the intercom and looked to the operator at the station next to her “Looks like it is going to be a long, boring day in the bay.”
“At least we aren’t servicing the lavatories.” He joked. They both got a laugh.
“At least we aren’t servicing the lavatories.” He joked. They both got a laugh.
The green light confirming safe pressurization of the chamber came on and mere seconds later the light for the personnel door changed from green to red.
“Somebody is in a hurry.” The operator noted.
Captain Calhoun uncharacteristically burst in to the operating station “At Ease!” he announced before the operators could react.
Both of the docking bay operators spun around in their chairs completely stunned.
“Keep calm.” The Captain was trying to be reassuring “There is a situation that you need to be prepared for.” He looked at both of them. “We need to get that probe turned around as quickly as possible. The service crew is downloading the data and refueling it right now. I need you to get it launched and well away from the station quickly before engaging the flight plan. We have a transport headed for bay 3 with an injured crew member that needs a clear path. We also need that probe back on station fast.”
“How long will the service crew take before we have to launch the probe?”
“Not long, probably only 15 minutes or so. But make sure everything is by the book. We can’t afford to have any accidents.”
“Aye sir.” Both responded.
“Once you get the probe launched and everything buttoned up…” he grinned “You’ll have a couple of hours of private time.”
“Cargo 34 is going to get pretty busy with the shift change, so … we’ll just let you alone here.” He got serious “But get that probe launched and this bay secured, properly, safely, and quickly.”
“Aye sir.” The two operators said in unison.
“Carry on.” The captain turned and floated out of the compartment.
Beginning off Story
Monday, February 24, 2014
“Transport 1 this is Captain Stewart.” The voice was broken, with a lot of interference “I can barely read you and I have very limited visibility. Can you get a lock on my locator?”
“Captain I have a weak signal and a general vector but can’t get a lock. Can you give me an idea of the direction you are traveling in?”
The hull section of the broken transport Captain Stewart was hanging on to impacted transport 3. It was a low energy impact but caused both bodies to change direction. The captain could barely hang on but managed to stay with the section of hull. “I just ran in to something.”
Transport 3 pilot responded “That was us, I think I have a lock on you now. We’ll get a rescue crew out to you in a couple of minutes.”
“Well that’s one way to locate survivors.” The captain was light hearted about it, but was rapidly growing fatigued.
“Albatross station, this is transport 3.” The radio sprang to life.
Commander Dickerson responded with the reflexes of an African big cat “Go ahead transport 3.” She nearly shouted into the microphone.
“We have Captain Stewart.” All three of the officers in lab 4 were noticeably relieved “She is unconscious but appears to be alive. We’ll head back as quickly as we can. Please have a medical team available when we arrive.”
“Roger that transport 3.” Kim quickly checked the docking bay equipment contents “You have priority to bay 3, all other traffic is being cleared. We will have a medical team meet you there.” She sent the command to halt all traffic to all forward docking bays.
“We’re on our way.”
“Alright, back to the task of figuring out that rock.” The commander focused on the transport locations. “Tim, make sure that probe stays well clear of transport 3’s flight path.”
“Already done commander.” Tim re-checked the path, again.
“Sam, let’s figure out where we want the other transports to land.”
“I have some prospective landing zones ready for you, patching to the holographic display now.” She punched a couple of buttons on her console. “Take a look.”
The commander spun around from her console and started studying the zones suggested by Sam.
“Lab 4, Bridge. What is the ETA for transport 3?”
Tim responded “Looks like 35 to 40 minutes, I will keep you updated.”
“Very well” the bridge responded.
The commander announced “That does it, I have to go back to transport ops.” She logged out of her console. “Sam, you take control of the survey crews. Tim, you keep on top of the data coming in from those teams and the probes.”
“Probes?” Tim was confused. “I only launched one.”
“There is a probe coming in to bay 5 and I think you will find that data VERY interesting.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Tim responded.
The commander floated out of the compartment and closed the door behind her.
Sam looked over to Tim “When are they going to give us that private time we were promised?”
He looked back seriously “Not until Gwen is back on board.”
“Fair enough.” She agreed. “But I still need to use the head.” She headed for the door.
“Hurry back, I do too.” Tim smiled as she floated past.
Sam blew him a kiss as she floated through the door.
Beginning of Story
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Transport 1 slowed as it approached the ice cloud. The pilot looked over the field and muttered to himself “where is she?” He had a track on the locator beacon and had heard the distress call but couldn’t get a lock. The ice cloud was not just a problem for visibility it interfered with all of the other sensors and with radio communications as well.
“Captain Stewart, this is transport 1. Do you copy?”
The craft drifted into the ice cloud slowly. The pilot was looking for any sign of life ahead while he directed the ship toward the locator beacon.
Transport 3 headed into the cloud a few hundred kilometers from transport 1 in the direction the cloud was heading. The pilot was a little less cautious but was heading toward where the computer models predicted the larger fragments of the broken ship would be located. The ice started accumulating on the hull and obstructing the view ports severely limiting visibility. “Look sharp people.” The pilot announced to his passengers “And keep an eye on that locator beacon, we are getting close.”
Transport 4 continued at full velocity toward the leading edge of the cloud which would give them the ability to just let the debris float to them. This 3 pronged approach would give many options for locating their distressed captain somewhere in the opaque cloud floating slowly away from the asteroid.
Transport 2 gently landed on the asteroid less than a kilometer from the crater caused by the impact of transport 6. They quickly set about preparing the survey team as the pilot shut down the engines and secured an anchor to keep the craft from drifting away. The pilot extended a camera above the craft to get a higher perspective on the crater.
“Albatross Station, this is transport 2.” The pilot announced.
“Go ahead transport 2.” The reply echoed through the transport.
“We are on station a few hundred meters from the crater.” The pilot checked the condition of the survey team. “The survey team should be heading out shortly. I’m sending our precise location now.”
“Very well transport 2. We’ll send the required survey pattern as soon as it is ready.”
Beginning of Story
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Captain Calhoun cleared his throat “Ok people, it is time I briefed you on what we are dealing with here.” He looked at each of them “Keep working the problem, but here is the deal.” He cleared his throat again “Captain Stewart was given specific orders to blast some of the outer layer off that thing. Her trajectory was plotted back at command central and she did as well as anyone could.”
He paused a moment and looked out of the observation window. “We all, in our own way, know Gwen …” he hesitated a bit “intimately.” He choked back a laugh “In fact I think a large portion of the fleet could qualify for that.”
Kim giggled, Sam groaned and Tim muttered “Oy Vey!”
The captain continued “But there is one thing we all know, she is a fiercely loyal officer that is absolutely dedicated to her duty, and we all know she can keep a secret. That is why she was chosen for this mission.” He looked back to the hologram “Now we have to find her and bring her back. We also have to learn as much as we can from her mission. It was a highly risky maneuver and the fact that she made it over 3 quarters of the way down that thing is fairly impressive. So now we have to complete the mission.” He cleared his throat again, fumbling for more words.
“Captain,” Sam announced “I have a locator beacon and I think a distress call. I can’t get a fix but it is definitely in that cloud.”
“Good job, Sam.” The captain studied the transport flight paths “Kim, tell transport 2 to stay focused on the end of that trench, have them synchronize and land as close to the end of it as possible. Tell transport 5 to perform a complete low altitude survey scan at the highest resolution they can. Tell the others to focus on the rescue effort in that ice cloud.”
“Aye Sir.” She started punching keys on her console and studying flight paths.
“Tim, get a high resolution probe launched for an in depth scan. And make sure it is set up for a long term continuous operation.”
“Yes Sir” he was already two steps ahead of the command.
“I have to go deal with the consortium council now. I’ll be on the bridge once that is done and I’ll check in with you then. You know what to do.”
“Good luck, Sir.” Kim looked up from her console and smiled “You’re gonna’ need it.”
“Thanks, carry on.” He smiled as he floated through the door and closed it behind him.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Transport 1 crossed over the tip of the asteroid at a safe distance and started braking. The pilot was trying to maintain velocity to get to the destroyed ship quickly but also being mindful that he would have to stop quickly if they found a survivor.
“T-ops, Transport 1. Could we have the latest hi-res scans of the debris, please? Our sensors are limited and I still only see a cloud.” The pilot was focusing intensely as he shut off the radio. He addressed his passengers “Ok everybody, we are looking for a person out here so look sharp!”
“All transports, the latest scans are being sent now” The voice on the radio was reassuring “Happy Hunting.”
Transport 2 passed the tip of the asteroid on the opposite side from transport 1 and began braking.
“Transport 2, focus around the end of that trench” the radio announced to all ships “Our renegade captain might be caught on the surface.”
Captain Gwendolyn Stewart clung desperately to a chunk of the transport ship she had commandeered. The section was tumbling in all 3 axes but was fortunately not moving very fast. The tumbling caused forces that would throw her clear and she knew that she would have better chances of being found if she was with a larger piece. She checked her breathing apparatus and found it was working fine and that she had at least two days with it but her water supply was damaged which could kill her faster. She checked the radio and made sure the locator beacon was operating.
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.” She announced “This is Captain Gwendolyn Stewart adrift and hanging on to a piece of my damaged ship.”
She looked around for something she could clip her restraining line to but it didn’t look good. She was telling herself the entire time ‘Think, stay alive, and find a way out.’ She repeated her distress call.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Captain Calhoun unlocked the door to Lab 4, slowly opened it and floated through.
“Captain on Deck.” Samantha stated almost bored while studying the hologram showing the transport approaching the asteroid.
The captain closed the door behind himself. “Carry on.” He was almost bored with that himself “Where is that transport?”
“Almost on top of the asteroid, she just started up the main engine but I don’t get it.” Kim looked up from her console and was genuinely confused. “She is about to hit that thing at a very high velocity.”
“Pay attention to her trajectory.” The Captain focused on the hologram. “I think I know what she is going to try. It is extremely risky but it just might work.”
“How do you know that?” Tim didn’t even look up from his console.
“I’ll show you shortly, just track everything that is happening.”
The four watched as the transport slightly changed trajectory from a straight on course to the asteroid to a slight angle and then started a slow helical path around the long axis of the asteroid. The path was very close to the surface as the craft rotated slightly to direct the primary thruster toward the surface and the engine increased in power.
Chunks of ice were thrown off the surface forming a spiral trench as the tiny ship traversed the length of the body. Unnoticed by almost everyone is that the asteroid was starting to wobble from the thrust exerted on its surface until the transport was just over half way down the length of it.
“Commander,” Sam almost shouted “The asteroid is oscillating, and it is gaining in intensity.”
The commander pushed the button for the comm channel to the transport “Gwen, watch it! The asteroid is oscillating and you are awfully close.”
“I got it. Just a couple more…” she hesitated for a very long moment “Oh Shit!”
The transport impacted the surface of the asteroid throwing a huge plume of ice into space. The tiny craft broke into several pieces that ricocheted off in several directions amid the cloud of ice.
“Gwen!” all four of the officers shouted in unison.
The captain went in to full command mode “Track that plume! Find out where every piece of that ship goes! And find Captain Stewart!” He then muttered under his breath “or whatever is left of her.”
“Aye Sir.” The three other officers barked out.
The commander punched the intercom “T-Ops, Lab 4. Inform the other transports about the oscillation the asteroid is in, I’m patching in the info now.” She checked another chart “And tell them their first priority is to locate Captain Stewart. I want all sensors searching for her.”
“Acknowledged, Lab 4.” The response sounded confident.
The captain was studying the hologram intensely “Tim, focus on the trench and get the images patched onto this hologram as quickly as you can. Give me a rough look first and you can refine it as you get better scans. Sam, keep tracking that ship in all of its pieces. Gwen is smart enough she was probably in a self-contained suit so if she survived the force of the impact she is probably alive. Kim, keep on top of the other transports and coordinate the rescue.”
“Aye Sir!” echoed through the compartment.
Beginning of Story
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Commander Dickerson was now extremely agitated. “Get me the direct channel to transport 6!” She belted out.
“On now, Ma’am” Lt. Brown stated smartly. He knew this was not the time for a clever quip.
“Gwen, just what the hell do you think you are doing?” her voice could have frightened most small animals.
“Hello, Kimmie.” Her voice was light and fluffy “It took you long enough to figure out it was me.”
“Don’t get cute, Captain.” She was calmed down and straight professional now “First off I’ll see you are courts marshalled for stealing a transport, but more importantly you are going to crash into that asteroid hard if you don’t start braking immediately.”
“Threatening a superior officer is not wise, commander.” The captain warned “I have my orders. A copy was sent to Captain Calhoun although I don’t know if he has read them yet. And I am following a specific flight plan. Braking will start shortly. So keep tracking me and focus on the surface of the asteroid.”
“We’re paying very close attention to you already.” The commander was forcing herself to be purely professional “And I’ll refrain from judgment until I see a copy of those orders.”
“Suit yourself. Just pay attention to the asteroid. Things are going to start happening very quickly now.”
The commander looked around the compartment “Did I tell anyone I didn’t like the smell of this mission?” It was a rhetorical question.
“Yes, Ma’am.” Lt. Xi responded.
“You told us all.” Lt. Brown completed.
The intercom lit up “T-Ops, Bridge. Commander Dickerson needs to report to Lab 4 immediately.”
“Aye, Bridge.” The commander responded. She quickly unbuckled and launched herself toward the door. “Lt. Aiko, take control of Ops, I’ll be in Lab 4.”
Beginning of Story
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Commander Dickerson was scowling while scrutinizing the flight courses of the transports. She was particularly concerned with the velocity and trajectory of the rogue transport, and it didn’t help that there had been no contact from it so she had no idea who was flying it.
“T-Ops, Security” the intercom squawked.
The Commander punched the button “Go ahead Security.”
“We just found the entire Russian crew unconscious in their quarters. They are alive but obviously drugged. A medical team is on the way.”
“Thank you for the report. Inform the bridge and the other crews, they need to be watchful for suspicious activity.” Now she was really puzzled, she activated the intercom “Bridge, T-Ops. Captain Stewart is needed here.”
“Captain Stewart is not on the bridge.” Was the reply.
The commander switched the intercom to contact Captain Stewart’s quarters “Gwen, we need you down here in Transport Ops.”
There was no reply.
She tried again, and waited for several minutes.
Again, there was no reply.
“Lab 4, T-Ops. Is Captain Stewart there?”
Tim and Sam were tangled up with each other, floating around the lab, barely dressed and completely oblivious to everything else. They floated through the hologram, ricocheted off the bulkhead lightly causing them to change direction and neither of them noticed. Their jumpsuits trailed like kite tails behind them as they danced their lover’s dance in zero gravity.
“Lab 4, Bridge.” The intercom announced.
Neither of them noticed.
A minute later the announcement came again.
Neither of them noticed.
A camera activated and scanned around to find them. The captain’s voice bellowed out of the intercom “Knock it off you two! Get dressed and get back to tracking that transport!” His laugh at the end could be heard just before the intercom cut off.
“Oops!” They both remarked as they disengaged and started climbing back into their jumpsuits.
“Lab 4, T-Ops. Is Captain Stewart there?”
Tim made it to the console first. “No, Ma’am. We haven’t seen her since you took her to her quarters.”
“Dang, I half expected you to be having a threesome over there.”
“No, Ma’am. It was just the two of us.”
“Then where is … Oh Hell!”
Monday, February 17, 2014
Captain Calhoun slowly opened the door to the bridge and drifted in. He slowly and quietly closed and latched the door while he started to drift toward the command console. He liked sneaking in to operation spaces just to see what the mix between focusing on ops and paying attention to what was happening in the rest of the space. He was seldom disappointed.
“Captain on deck!” A petty officer announced.
“Carry on.” The captain announced before anyone could react. Again, he was not disappointed.
“Captain, current status is on your console and there is a message for you from command.”
“Thank you.” The captain drifted over to his console and strapped in. He studied the station status updates, current supply levels, and the current flight tracks for all vessels in the vicinity. This was the part of the job that made being a space station commander one of the most boring and droll occupations in the solar system, but it was important to stay on top of this information since there were several hundred people whose lives depended on him in an environment that is constantly trying to kill them and home was a long way away.
“Captain, long range probe 5 is returning early. It reports priority mission completed.”
“Direct it to bay 5, and tell the service crew to get it processed ASAP.”
The intercom lit up “Bridge, T-Ops.”
The captain pressed the intercom button “Go ahead Kim.”
“Transport 6 is approaching the asteroid, it has rotated around to deceleration attitude but hasn’t started braking. And it is moving VERY fast.”
“OK, keep an eye on it and keep me posted.”
The captain reviewed the course plot of the rogue transport, took a glance at the latest update from the lab and then noticed the message from Command. He scrutinized the message, thought about it for a minute and then re-read it. After a long pause he punched the intercom “Lab 4, Bridge.”
Sunday, February 16, 2014
“Well that settles that.” The commander punched the red button for the intercom directly with the captain. “Captain, this is T. Ops.”
“What’s the problem Kim?” the captain responded.
“Transport 6 just blasted out of the bay and is rocketing off at close to twice the authorized speed. It looks like they knocked out the regular pilot so we have no idea who is flying that thing.”
“Who was scheduled to be on that transport?” the captain grumbled.
“Looking it up now…” The commander punched some buttons on her console “It’s the Russians. It makes no sense, at some point they are going to have to come back.”
“It’s not like logic is the Russians’ strong suit.” The captain pondered “Ok, keep tracking them. What is their ETA with the asteroid at current velocity?”
“Approximately 20 minutes.”
“Alright, I’ll be on the bridge in 15. Let me know if anything changes.”
“Aye, sir.” She looked up from her console and took a look around outside the station.
“Commander, Transport 1 wants to know if they have to delay launch.” Lt. Brown inquired.
“No. Let them launch on time but remind them to keep to the authorized acceleration curve and velocity for their own safety.” The commander was checking the flight paths.
“Aye, Ma’am.” Lt. Brown contacted the transport and informed them to launch on schedule.
“Lt. Xi, plot the projected path of transport 6 and superimpose it on the authorized flight patterns.” The commander was looking around outside the station “Let’s see if we can make sure everybody is as safe as possible.”
“Already done,” Lt. Xi had been tracking the transport since it launched “It is available on your display now.”
“Well done.” The commander was not condescending; she was acknowledging an officer that was one step ahead of the commands.
“Transport 1 launching now.” Lt. Brown announced.
The transport gently drifted out of the docking bay, the thrusters firing in a gentle dance slowly accelerating the ship away from the station.
“Inform transport 2 they are authorized for launch in T minus 5 minutes.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Lt. Brown was on top of the procedures “And I will make sure they are aware of the safety measures we have in place.”“Very well.” She wanted to tell the staff just how proud of them she was, but that would break discipline so it would have to wait until some sort of ceremony sometime in the future.
Beginning of Story
Saturday, February 15, 2014
“Commander,” Lieutenant Brown announced in his deep baritone voice “the Captain has given us authorization to commence transport operations.”
“Very well, Lieutenant. Inform the transport pilots and verify there is only one team per company and that they are only scanning and survey teams. There will be no mining operations until we have their surveys and their operations plans. And let them know I mean it!” The commander was stern.
“Yes Ma’am!” Lt. Brown bellowed.
“Lieutenant Xi, would you please double check the launch schedules and the safe interval distances, I don’t want anything even close to risky here.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Lt. Xi responded.
“Lieutenant Brown, inform transport 1 they are cleared to launch in T minus 5 minutes.”
A transport rocketed out of Docking Bay 4 faster than would ever be authorized, rocking the station and causing the positioning rockets to start their dance to stabilize the station.
“What the hell? Who is that?” the commander shouted.
“Commander,” Lt. Aiko at the tracking station behind the ops pod injected “looks like that is transport 6 and they are accelerating beyond authorized velocity.”
“Tell the Bridge we may have a renegade.” The commander was quite agitated as she mashed on the ship to ship transmit button “Transport 6, that was an unauthorized launch and you are about to exceed safe velocity.”
“Transport Ops, this is Docking Bay 4” the intercom squawked.
Lt. Xi answered the hail “T. Ops, go ahead Bay 4.”
“We just found the Transport 6 pilot in a closet. He is unconscious but alive. He is probably drugged”
“Very well, get him to sick bay.” Lt. Xi responded.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Commander Kimberly Dickerson struggled to get her chair and harness adjusted properly. She was just over the minimum height requirement at 63cm but had stubby legs and a stocky build which made it a challenge to get the proper adjustments. She had a special cushion that flattened out the seat so her feet could get to the controls but it still took a lot of adjustments since the officer she was relieving was over 2 meters tall and half her width. She wore her blonde hair quite short for convenience since she didn’t like binding her hair or having it floating around in zero G. Her hair and stocky stature made her look considerably more butch than she really was, although it did come in handy at times. Her position was transport operations supervisor, directly between and a little behind the two transport operations control stations, which were tilted 45 degrees to either side to allow the 3 of them to get full view coverage around the front of the station. The transport operations supervisor station was usually oriented such that “up” is toward the axis of the station, but the cluster could be oriented any way desired. The observation dome extended far enough forward of the end plane of the station to give the cluster a full 180 degree view around that plane and unobstructed view forward. At least two of the three positions could observe docking operations all the way in to the docking bays at all times. The view was incredible but had a tendency to give some people vertigo.
The forward docking bays were arranged in a triangular pattern centered on the axis of the station with Docking Bays 2, 3, and 4 at the vertices and Docking Bay 1 in the center of the other 3. The transport operations control room was centered between Bays 2 and 3, a scientific observation deck between Bays 3 and 4, and the command operations center, also known as the bridge, between Bays 2 and 4. This pattern was duplicated at the aft of the station with Bays 5, 6, 7, and 8 but with a smaller transport operations control room and two smaller general purpose observation decks.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
“What about the miners?” Sam scowled “They are going to start sending data back to their bases and speculating, and all that stuff. The public might just panic over this.”
“That is where I come in.” Gwen tried to look reassuring “I have been working on operations to prepare the public for discovering real evidence of alien life. We expect a small amount of panic for a short time, but it should be manageable. I am here to control the information flow back to Earth, and to provide some … perspective on it when needed.”
“You didn’t think our personnel could handle it?” Kim was obviously irritated.
“It wasn’t my decision. I don’t even know how high up that was made but I’m fairly certain it didn’t make it to the president.” Gwen softened “I didn’t ask for it, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” She shrugged.
“And just exactly whose bed was that?” Sam poked sharply.
“Zing!” Gwen turned to look at her, with daggers in her eyes “I guess I deserve that at some level.” She grumbled out.
“So what are you going to need from the station in addition to this lab?” The commander was all business.
“I’ll need a station in ops, a couple of probes, and authority over communications.” Gwen was back to command stature “Are my bags in my quarters yet? I need to get out of this dress uniform, these things itch.”
“I verified they were delivered just before I came down here.” Kim turned toward the door “Come on, I’ll show you to your quarters.”
“Are you going to help me get settled?” Gwen pushed off toward the door “It’s been a long trip…” She stated in a sultry voice.
“Some other time, I have to oversee the launch operations.” The commander was not amused.
The two floated out the door closing it behind them.
“Well at least she is familiar with all the players.” Sam shrugged.
“I’m not sure that is a good thing in this case.” Tim grumbled.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Gwen spun herself around and looked directly at Kim “This was never a mining operation, but we need what those miners can do in order to get the job done. We’ll let them get positioned and make their initial scans. At some point, after they figure out they are on something alien we will declare it a salvage operation.”
“They will not be happy about that.” The commander sounded concerned.
“Of course they won’t, but the salvage fees they get will be worth more than the last two operations and the work will be much easier.”
“How so?” Tim asked.
“They will only be removing ice, breaking it up in to large chunks and brought back to the station to be reclaimed as water. That means a larger water supply for the station, and all of the goodness that brings.”
“So they just block it up and haul it back. We get more water, life on the station gets better and it is easy work.” Kim pondered “How clean is the ice?”
“There is a 1 to 2 centimeter layer of random dust on the outer layer but as far as we can tell it is darned near pure underneath that, 3 to 4 meters deep. It shouldn’t need much decontamination at all, and there is more than this station can hold.”
“Ok, then what?” Tim looked concerned.
“That depends on you.” Gwen turned to Tim “You to have to figure out what this thing is, and in a hurry.”
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The door opened and Sam floated in “I half expected you to be practicing docking maneuvers.” She closed the door behind her “Commander Dickerson is on her way, she just finished the transport schedule for the first wave.”
Gwen spun around to a wall console “Let’s turn off the data the miners don’t have, leave everything they do have on, turn on the rights boundaries and let’s take a look at the proposed landing spots.”
“Looking to see who is going after what first?” Sam asked.
“Exactly. That will give us an idea of what type of information we will get from each expedition.”
“And let us figure out how we can use each one of them.”
“This is no longer a mining operation.” Gwen finally stated “Actually it never was but we had to get the consortium resources in order to pull this off.”
“So just exactly what kind of operation is this?”
“It is a recovery of an alien artifact of unknown nature.” Gwen spun around and glanced at both of them “And that is why you are not to talk to anyone about it except the commander and myself.” She was quite stern now “Consider yourselves to be quarantined. You will use the quarantine toilet and shower just up the passageway, and your meals will be delivered to you. Understood?”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Both Sam and Tim snapped in unison.
Gwen spun around back to her console “I’ll do my best to see that you are as comfortable as possible, you’ll get good meals and enough sleep and … private time.” She grinned. “I actually expect to spend most of my time up in operations so you will be alone most of the time. Expect to get updates or have to deliver status at any time.”
The door opened and Commander Dickerson floated in closing the door behind her.
“Hello Kimmie.” Gwen brightly greeted her without turning around.
“Gwen? What are you doing here?”
Tim and Sam both looked at the commander with a startled look on their faces “You know her too?” They asked in unison.
“In stereo where available.” Gwen snickered out.
“We … have … served together.” Kim said hesitantly “Alright, just what the hell is this all about?” She demanded.
Beginning of Story
Monday, February 10, 2014
The two floated down the passageway, grabbing the handholds and correcting course on a regular rhythm. Traveling zero G passageways is a matter of bouncing from handhold to handhold, keeping a good speed up but not going too fast, and making gentle vector corrections at every point.
“You’ve done well for yourself.” Captain Stewart pondered “Sam is a lot of fun.”
“We work well together.” Tim was noticeably annoyed “Just where do you know Sam from?”
“The academy,” She was being coy now “It was her first year and I was doing a stint as combat operations training assistant. She was confused and vulnerable so I helped her adjust to military life and figure out who she was.”
“Is that what you thought of me?” Tim swung around the corner and grabbed the handle next to the lock on the lab door.
“Oh lord no! I just thought you were the hottest fresh meat on the ship.” She looked at him with a dirty grin “And my, oh my, was I right!” She winked at Tim.
“Well I’m glad I made you happy.” He punched the lock code into the console and opened the door. He pulled the door open and gestured to the captain for her to enter. She floated in to the lab as the lights came on at about half illumination.
“What is the lock code?”
“I’m not authorized to share that with anyone, not even you.” Tim closed the door behind him “You will have to get it from either Commander Dickerson or Captain Calhoun.”
“Very well,” She smiled “Good to see you are taking this operation seriously.”
“I’ve become a much better officer since then.”
“I never said you were a bad officer, just that you were a good romp in the rack.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” Tim turned the hologram on to the display they had just been looking at. “This is the latest mapping of mineral deposits. Notice anything that catches your eye?”
“Those are awfully regular.” The captain pondered “And those geometric patterns suggest some kind of deliberate purpose.”
“I suspect those are control circuits.”
“Control circuits for what?”
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Captain Gwendolyn Stewart was very tall at a full 2 meters in height while slender weighing in at barely 80 kilos but nonetheless was a formidable site in her full dress blues and her longer than regulation blaze red hair in a braided pony tail. She released herself from her seat, straightened her uniform and floated toward the airlock.
“Ma’am, it is advisable to remain secured in your seat until all docking procedures are complete.” The transport attendant tried to be as polite as possible.
“Secure this.” The captain mumbled “I have work to do. Just get this thing docked and get this airlock pressurized. And make sure my bags are taken to my quarters ASAP.” She barked.
The connecting tube locked in to place. A distinct hiss of the airlock pressurizing echoed through the transport. The airlock safety light changed from red to green. Captain Stewart opened the door, swung inside and closed the door quickly behind her. She then punched the outer door release and opened it, swung through it before it was completely open and slammed it shut. She had the courtesy to press the re-lock for the door. She straightened up her uniform and gently opened the inner station door, waited for it to fully open, and then slowly floated through it.
Tim and Sam were waiting in the middle of the reception area, nobody else was there. They snapped a salute as the captain floated through the door. Both were very surprised by who it was.
“Hello sweet cheeks,” Captain Stewart winked at Sam as she returned the salute “And stud muffin.” She had a wicked grin.
Sam and Tim looked at each other in astonishment. “You know HER?” they both said in unison.
“I’m glad to see your respect for military honors hasn’t changed.”
“We were told this was a highly important operation so we didn’t want to waste time changing in and out of dress uniforms.” Sam responded.
“Well then let’s see what you have set up so far. Take me to the lab, and tell Commander Dickerson to meet us there.”
“Sam. I’ll take the Captain to the lab, you let the commander know and you can catch up.” Tim smiled at
Sam drifted over to a communications panel as Tim led the Captain through the door. “This way.” He gestured with a half-hearted, no make that a quarter-hearted, smile.
Beginning of Story