Cnsev tormalinas lost, p.2

CNSEV Tormalinas, Lost, page 2


CNSEV Tormalinas, Lost

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  Chapter 1

  CNSEV 119 Tormalinas

  A tingling sensation, that’s what Captain Amy Porter first felt as she began to wake from hypersleep, a tingling sensation that started in the lowest vertebrae of her spine and grew and climbed up the center of her back until it reached her brain stem and there, for a split second, it burned hot, like a red hot needle jammed into the base of her skull. Within a few brief moments, she recognized the unnerving sensations and the pain as the same she always felt when being revived from hypersleep. She moved her tongue around in her mouth, feeling her teeth, tasting copper, an unnatural and distinct salty metallic taste. Her nose crinkled, detecting ammonia.

  Then she heard an artificial, but familiar sentient entity calling her, “Captain Porter, please report for duty.” She tried to ignore the call and the flood of senses.

  Fifteen seconds later, “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  Fifteen seconds later, “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  Fifteen seconds later, “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  Inside her hypersleep chamber, feeling the strength return to her arms, she instinctively reached up with both hands and covered her ears.

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  She now remembered the sound came from inside the base of her skull, just behind her left ear. That bleeping linking implant. She rubbed back there, behind her ear, feeling her bald head. It felt foreign to her, like someone else’s bald head.

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  She rubbed her head until she could feel the vision returning to her aching eyes and the feeling returning to her leathery fingertips. Rubbing where she had felt that first stabbing jolt of pain at the base of her skull seemed to improve her senses. Rubbing there felt good to her, teasing her senses.

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  “I’m bleeping revived,” she screamed, knowing no one else could hear her. The vessel’s sentient heard her, but it did not respond.

  Amy then took a deep breath, held it, and then sucked in more air, oxygen, deeper, forcing her weakened lungs to work harder, forcing the fog to clear from her mind. She reached down between her legs and retrieved a hypospray stored in the compartment under her seat. She pressed the injector to the muscles lining the left side of her abdomen. She felt a cold pinch there.

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  Within seconds, her eyesight returned to 100% and her lungs no longer burned. She tested all of her skeletomuscular functions. She wriggled her hands, wrists, flexed her elbows and lifted her shoulders, rotated her neck and opened and closed her jaw, rolled her tongue inside her mouth, contorted her spine to the left, to the right, thrusted her hips forward and back, lifted her right leg then her left, extended and then retracted her knees, one at a time, simultaneously rotated her ankles in both directions, clockwise and counter-clockwise, and finally she wiggled her toes.

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  She did all of the movements again together appearing as if in a spasm all over her body.

  “Ahhh,” she yawned again. “That should be enough of a body reboot.”

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  She reached down between her legs again and pressed in on a small handle she found there, rotated it to the right, and pulled up on it. She heard a hiss as the canopy on her hypersleep chamber retracted. She floated forward out of her chamber and drifted towards the ceiling of the birthing compartment. For the moment, Amy forgot what to do in a weightless environment as she floated up and then crashed slowly face first into the hard metal ceiling and handrail there, leaving a long dark scrape on her forehead.

  “Son of a bleep, that bleeping hurt,” she said, rubbing her head. “And why is it always so cold when we come out of hypersleep?”

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  Shivering, shaking, unsteady, she pushed off the ceiling to a close wall and pressed her hand to a panel saying, “Old Texas please, small.”

  A shallow recessed space in the wall next to the panel where she pressed her hand produced a soft pouch with a liquid inside. A voice from the panel said, “Honey, lemon, tea leaves, and tequila, hot, 295.7 milliliters.”

  “Captain Porter please report for duty.”

  With the small squeeze pouch in her hand, and using the handrails, she pulled herself over and up to the ceiling to a panel containing buttons and blinking lights, red, blues, and mostly yellows. She pressed a series and sequence of buttons, pressed her hand to the cold glowing panel, and then spoke, “Captain Amy Porter of the Commonwealth of Nations Stellar Exploration Vessel 119, CNSEV Tormalinas, reporting for duty.”

  “Hello, Captain Porter.”

  “Hell bleeping O, Tormalinas,” she said after taking a deep sip from her pouch.

  “I’m sorry Captain, but if you are incapacitated, then I can relieve you and revive your back-up, Lieutenant Huang.”

  “I’m revived, and I’m reporting for duty, Tormalinas. Increase the temperature to 21 degrees, it’s freezing in here.”

  “Yes, Ma’am. Captain Amy Porter, Executive Officer of the CNSEV Tormalinas on this 856th day of the Carvajal stellar year, your command is confirmed. Raising temperature to 21.00 degrees Celsius.”

  “What’s our status? Are we nearing the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Launch and Extraction Space Station?” she asked.

  “We are not near CNSSS 15 Sigma Alpha Epsilon Launch and Extraction Space Station. In fact, we are 73.67 spans away from the space station.”

  “Well Tormalinas, why did you revive me?”

  Amy rotated herself upside down and pulled herself down towards a small compartment. She paused to take another deep sip from her pouch then she pulled herself inside the compartment and held on to a shiny handle above her head. She touched the wall and a fiberglass pane dropped over the opening of the compartment sealing her inside. Touching the wall again, she soon felt a strong suction of air start near her feet. The suction pulled air through the compartment from the bottom up to the top.

  “According to the protocols you programmed, I am to revive you if this vessel encounters or calculates additional exploration and salvage opportunities.”

  Amy pressed her hand to the wall. A shower of warm water mixed in with the airflow, splattering into the compartment, sucked through from bottom to top. Amy flinched as the warm sensation of the shower felt like needles or broken glass on her sensitive skin, but within a few seconds the sensation became more and more pleasurable as the warm water washed away the leathery outer layers of her skin, washing away months of dead skin cells up the drain above her. She enjoyed the clean smooth feeling. She sipped more warm liquid from the pouch.

  “Ooh, that feels more than optimal,” she said aloud. She took a deep breath and stretched her tight muscles. “So, there are additional exploration options?”

  “Yes Ma’am. At 1907, I steered us to our present location into a planetary system known as Ashkelon.”

  “Show me,” Amy ordered. She took her hand from the wall, stopping the showering water, but a warm gentle airflow continued up from her feet past her face and into the panel above her.

  “Yes Ma’am, showing now.”

  Amy blinked as her eyesight faded to black. She waited for the standard visual displays to appear in her eyesight. Soon, three-dimensional images replaced the black and in her mind’s eye, she could see outside the Tormalinas, following along with the sentient’s report.

  Out of habit, she rubbed that place behind her left ear where the Commonwealth installed its subcranial linking implant just inside her skull. Again, she noted the way her gaunt skin felt against her bones. She took another sip from her pouch of Old Texas.

  Briefly, she wanted to see something else in her eyes, not work-related, something just to help get her going, maybe the vineyards of Tha
lia 6, an update from the racing circuits of Tanajib 2a, or the whimsical flitting floating fighting flipping kids swarming playing soccerball on the fields of El Centro where she played soccerball as a kid.

  Maybe later, she said to herself.

  When her eyes adjusted, she recognized the Tormalinas against the background of space. The Tormalinas looked like countless other Commonwealth space vessels, the only difference being size, some were bigger and some were smaller, but all vessels were gray, metallic, windowless, and oval-shaped, more pointy fore, and more blunt near the engines aft, more round at the top and flat on the bottom where the landing struts and gravitron drives were located. There were no markings or any other identifying features on the outside of the vessel. The images Amy saw in her eyes then panned away from the Tormalinas and showed the target direction, a nearby star system.

  “I’ve never seen this system before,” Amy said, while looking around, up and down, turning around in the shower.

  “Until 17.32 week cycles ago, the Commonwealth listed the system as off limits due to hazardous contamination. It’s estimated one of the system’s stars collapsed 2120.59 Newtonian year cycles ago.”

  “So, Tormalinas, what are we looking for?”

  “Shown here, here, and here, are the three remaining stars of the Askelon system. Now zooming in, the debris, asteroids, and small planetoids shown here in this belt are remnants from the system’s first two planets, believed to have broken up due to high gravitational fluctuations when the fourth star in the system began collapsing into a dark dwarf star shown here. The system has 36 other planets; no outer planets can support life as we know it. We classify the debris belt as Askelon 1.

  My scans show here, the fifth largest chunk of 24 Major chunks of planetary matter in Askelon 1. This fifth chunk or Askelon 1.5 emits a radiation signature with multiple frequencies and repeating waves. The signals are adhering to a complicated pattern; the signals are not repeating randomly. This suggests the inner planets may have had life, intelligent life at one time before they were pulled in by the collapsing star and torn apart, and that intelligent life may have intended for others to find it.”

  “Intended for others to find it or to stay away from it?”

  “I suppose both potentials are entirely possible, Ma’am, but we cannot at this time decode the repeating signal pattern.”

  Amy rubbed the spot behind her ear again and asked, “Are there any indications of life on the other debris chunks or other planets?”

  “No Ma’am. Askelon 1.5 is the only chunk in the system emitting such obvious evidence. I recommend we schedule a series of onsite evaluations and closely examine the nearest chunks that are easily accessible, 1.1 shown here and 1.6, here, 1.9 here and 1.3 here, and then 1.11 and 1.2 here and here before evaluating 1.5. I am registering this will be the last chance for exploration before we reach CNSSS 15 Sigma Alpha Epsilon Launch and Extraction Space Station. This will also be the most optimal opportunity for exploration of these chunks before they are much closer, too close in orbit to the remaining stars.”

  Amy sipped from her small pouch, and closed her eyes for a moment before saying, “Such a unique star system. However, in my experience, I know there are times in exploration when you do not want to be the first to explore a system. This feels like one of those times. Who are we competing with?”

  “Checking. Commonwealth of Nations Stellar Salvage Vessel 44, CNSSV Nebraska has an approved flight plan to reach here in 94.16 day cycles. Commonwealth of Nations Stellar Exploration Vessel Madrid has an approved flight plan for later next year cycle. No other vessels are expected before then. Maybe we should wait for the salvage vessel Nebraska and partner with them?”

  “Colonel Keeghan hates pirates and I know the Nebraska. I don’t like them either. I don’t think the Colonel would approve of any partnerships or delays. Please update me on the status of our shipments to Earth Prime?”

  “Yes Ma’am. The shipments arrived at CNSSS 15 Sigma Alpha Epsilon Launch and Extraction Space Station 2.43 month cycles ago and receipt in the Earth Prime system has been confirmed.”

  “Well we better be extra careful. The next shipments are going to cost significantly more. Just claiming we were the first to explore the Askelon system will hardly make our stockholders feel happy and optimal. Still, we get to take full credit for the first relics we can bring back, so I think you made an optimal calculation and judgment by reviving me.”

  “Yes Ma’am. Thank you Ma’am. Shall I revive the rest of the crew?”

  “CNSEV 119 Tormalinas, by my authority as the Executive Officer, I order you to revive the rest of the crew.”

  “All at once Ma’am? All 83 of them?”

  Amy sipped and squeezed the last of the drink in the squeeze pouch and then replied, “Officers, senior staff, senior scientists, and then the rest of the crew in that order and with a six-hour interval between revivals.”

  “Yes Ma’am?

  {Return to Table of Contents}”

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