Friday, October 10, 2014

Parallel

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here.

Its been a week since gategate. That got me thinking about the lore implication of such a massive change in universe mechanics. Of course the lore explanation is that "its always been like this". Now, with a Star Trek type twist....


Parallel

Debese was a Technician 2nd Grade on board the Thanatos class carrier Indomptable. He was currently crawling through an access conduit on deck 14 whilst swearing in Gallente. A control circuit had burnt out and the three technicians in his team had drawn lots for who was going to fix it. He'd got the short straw.

"Merde! Fils de salope!" he cursed as he banged his head on a low hanging power conduit. The particular control cabinet was located 200 metres from the nearest access point. He wondered why it was always the ones furthest from the access points that burnt out. Also, what idiot designed an electronic device that regularly needed servicing to be so inaccessible.

The air was cool but the myriad of cables and conduits made the tube hot and he was starting to sweat. Movement ahead, something small, red and spongy, made him jerk up crashing his head noisily into the top of the low ceiling. The Fedo scurried away from the noise. Debese cursed again. Ever since docking in that Amarrian station they had found these creatures all over the ship. He hated them.

After half an hour he finally reached the junction box. The pungent smell of burnt electronics told him he was at the right location. He pulled a screwdriver from his belt and started to remove the cover.

-o0o-

"What is it?" the Executive Officer asked, leaning forward in his chair.

"Scanning sir, its some sort of energy ribbon. Its moving fast and our long range sensors cannot get a full reading on it."

The XO continued leaning forward, looking at the viewscreen. One hour ago they had received a message from Federation Navy Command. Something had been spotted in the boarder system of Villore. The Indomptable had been sent to investigate in case it was a Caldari State incursion. This was obviously not the case. However, he couldn't simply report back it was some strange energy field moving at high speed. Command would want to know more.

"Helm, plot a course to put is in front of that thing. Not directly in its path, but I want to have it pass around 10km from us. That should let us get a good reading on it!"

The Ensign at the helm acknowledged the command and plotted the course. The Captain was preparing to enter the hydrostatic capsule down in the pod gantry bay so soon he would be in full control of the ship. The massive starship started to turn, aligning to the location plotted by the ensign.


"Number 2. I have control." the Captains voice resonated through the bridge speakers.

"Yes sir. We have aligned the ship to get in front of the energy field. It should pass 10km off our port bow. We can then get detailed scans for Command."

"Very good Number 2."

The XO felt the vibration as the warp drive activated and propelled the ship at the speed of light to the destination.

Back down in the access tube Debese also felt the vibration. He was reattaching the control box cover after replacing the burnt-out board. After fixing the last screw he started to crawl back to the exit as he felt the vibrations drop as the warp drive shut down. Suddenly he was plunged into darkness.

"C’est vraiment des conneries!" he swore for the 12th time that morning.

Back on the bridge all hell was breaking out. As the ship had dropped out of warp main power had failed.

"Report!" the XO shouted.

"As we dropped out of warp the main reactor went offline. Emergency power is coming back online but none of the auxiliary reactors will boot, we're running off batteries. Whatever that energy ribbon is, its emitting something that shuts down our energy generation systems."

The XO looked at the panel in the arm of his chair. It ran on emergency power so the XO would be able to get basic information even in an emergency. His fingers moved deftly over the keys. He hated being right. With main power down the thrusters that stabilized the ship after coming out of warp were not functioning. Fourth dimensional drag had slowed the ship from warp to a crawl, but they were drifting slowly into the ribbons path.

"All crew, all crew. This is the XO. Immediately proceed to your nearest rad-shielded area. This is not a drill. Proceed immediately to your nearest rad-shielded area."

All starships had protection against the harsh radiation of space. However occasionally ships had to travel through or near locations of intense radiation. Throughout larger ships, which would be uneconomical to heavily shield throughout, certain areas where specially shielded as crew refuges. These tended to be larger rooms where people could gather like mess halls, gymnasiums and briefing rooms.

Several decks below Debese heard the XO over his comm link and looked down the long conduit lit by orange emergency lighting, the access hatch a speck in the distance.

At that moment he invented a completely new Gallente swear word.

-o0o-

"Report." the XO ordered.

"Sir, we are showing all crew but one in shielded areas. ETA until we are hit by the ribbon, 20 seconds."

"Who is not safe?" he asked with concern in his voice.

"Appears to be an engineering technician. He is in in access tube 14 tac 5 tac B. He's moving fast sir, but he's not going to make it. He was in the worst possible location at the time we dropped out of warp."

Debese was crawling at full speed down the tube. Sweat was pouring off him as he tried to make it to the access point. He knew there was a shielded area only just down the corridor from where he would emerge. However he had no idea how long he had. Raising his head he could see he only had 50 metres to go. He skidded to a halt as he saw a blue light a great distance down the tube. It appeared to be approaching at speed. A few seconds later he realised it was not a single light, but a wall of blueish light travelling down the conduit towards him. He turned and scampered back down the tube away from the wall of light rushing towards him from behind.

Curses flowed from his mouth as he tried to outrun whatever it was barrelling down the conduit behind him. He afforded himself a quick glance, it had almost caught up with him, there was no chance of outrunning it. In a rage Debese span around to face the approaching energy field, holding a fist out in front of him and extending his middle finger as it rushed toward him.


-o0o-

Debese sniffed. He wasn't in the access tube any more. It smelt like the med-bay, disinfectant and ozone. He gingerly opened his eyes and saw bright lights above on a sterile bright white ceiling. Yes, he was certainly in the med-bay. He raised his head and the doctor standing nearby saw movement, he walked over with a smile on his face.

"Technician Debese, you're awake. How do you feel?"

"Errrr.... fine." he replied. He did feel OK, the only disconcerting thing was the last thing he remembered was flicking the bird to some sort of incoming energy field. "What happened?"

"The ship was hit by some sort of strange anomoly. An energy ribbon. It disabled out power systems and we drifted into it. As you where in the bowels of the ship you didn't make it to a shielded area."

"Am I going to be all right?" Debese asked worriedly.

"As far as we can tell, you are going to be fine." the doctor replied.

"As far as you can tell?"

"Sorry Technician, we have no idea what hit us. Whatever that was you took it fully on the chin. We've analysed your DNA and cannot see any damage. You have no signs of any radiation poisoning. Every test we've done shows you as green across the board. As far as we know the energy field appears to be harmless. However we'd like to keep you in for a few days."

Debese  slumped down in the bed worried. Was he going to be OK?

-o0o-

48 hours later Debese entered the engineering section to a round of applause. He smiled and took an exaggerated bow.

"So, if you've had enough time skiving off just because you've been enveloped by an unknown alien energy field you can help out in the jump conduits!" the Chief Engineer grumbled.

Debese nodded and head to the lower level of engineering. There he found Technician Tria stripping part of the drive assembly.

"I'm here to give you a hand" he announced.

She turned around and looked at him.

"How? By glowing if the lights go out and lighting the area so I can still work?" she joked.

"Ha. Ha. Ha!" he replied. Tria smiled and went back to stripping the drive.

"Cleaning the primary conduits? Are we stood down or something?" Debese asked as he realised what she was doing. Generally the jump drive was never serviced in space in case the ship needed to jump at short notice. Any work to the drive was usually done in spacedock when the ship was stood down.

"No." she asked with a puzzled expression.

"Well what if we got emergency orders? What if we needed to jump?" he was wondering why she appeared surprised by his line of thinking.

"Oh, you may have been unconscious the last day, sorry I forgot. We've made six jumps recently so the drive is on cool down." with that she went back to working.

Debese stood there dumbfounded. Cooldown? Jump drives do not need to cool down.

"Sorry? What do you mean?"

Tria turned back to him. A slightly worried look on her face.

"What do you mean, what do you mean? We've done so many jumps in the last few hours the drive is on cool down and the Captain has jump fatigue. We have a two hour wait before we can jump again."

"Oh, right. Yeah. I'm sort of out of sorts. Never mind." he mumbled.

Tria gave him another funny look and went back to work. Debese quietly moved over to a console and brought up the status of the jump drive. He froze as he looked at the screen. She was right, the computer was showing a cool down timer. It also referred to something termed 'Capsuleer Jump Fatigue'. Both timers were slowly ticking down. He reviewed the logs. For some reason they were showing this situation for months. Something was wrong, something had happened to the crew and the logs had been altered.

He'd get to the bottom of it later, when everyone was asleep.

-o0o-

The doctor crossed the entrance hall to the three suits waiting by the reception desk. The receptionist was busy painting her nails. Beel noted he'd need to have a word with her later.

"Gentlemen, I am Doctor Beel, head of this facility."

The men turned to face him. The one in the middle stepped forward extending his hand.

"Greetings. I am Orole Deloettan, lead auditor from Caspynaere, Cestille and Yvokin. These are my colleagues Lorchaert Ommenne and Garavitte Rosabvrollis. I understand the Federal Navy explained the reason for our visit?"

"Yes, a routine audit. As we have a standing contract with the Navy they want to see they are getting value for money from our services and everything is above board. Well Gentlemen I can assure you everything is and we will be giving you full access to everything not covered by doctor-patient confidentiality of course."

Orole nodded. Beel led the men through a side door, scanning his palm-print to unlock the secure door.

"How many Navy personnel do you have currently Doctor?" Lorchaert asked.

"We have 13 currently. Five are being treated as outpatients we have six normal residents and two special residents."

"What is a special resident?" Garavitte asked.

"We'll see those first. Those are, I'm afraid to say, ones likely to remain here for the rest of their lives. I think the layman way of putting it would be they are a couple of warp stabilizers short of a Caldari militia pilot."

They passed through several more secure doors, each one getting progressively more secure. Finally they came to a short corridor lined with six doors. Beel stood in front of the first one and keyed a code into the pad, the door shimmied and became translucent.

"Its a one-way view, the resident cannot see us." Beel stated as they all looked in.

Inside the sparsely furnished room was a woman in a white jumpsuit. Dark black hair flowed down her back in stark contrast to her white clothes. She was painting on a large electronic screen with her fingers. The painting showed an eviscerated man, his insides spilling through a large gash in his stomach. The other men blanched at the sight.

"We'd prefer to have her use a proper easel, paint and brushes but she'd only stab someone in the eye with it. She was crew on a Federal Navy frigate that was captured by the EoM during a battle. She was held captive for six months and then released. They had brain-washed her and programmed her. She had been acting normal at the rehabilitation centre. Something triggered her. She murdered five people before she was restrained. We've made some good progress but we might not be able to ever fully undo what they did to her. Its just lucky that she was triggered in the rehab unit, if she'd triggered on a ship in space there could have been a much greater loss of life."

Beel pressed another button and the door solidified. They moved to the next door down the corridor and the Doctor pressed the button to clear the door. The four stared in at a man sat on the floor apparently talking to himself. He was in a similar white suit but the arms were tied across his chest. He was sat cross legged and his eyes were open wide.

"This man was hit by some sort of strange energy field in space. Nobody has been able to find any damage but he appears to have suffered some kind of psychotic episode following his exposure. He was found late at night trying to dismantle the jump drive on a Thanatos class carrier. He has a complex delusion that jump drives do not need cool-down periods and that pilots jump fatigue is not real but some sort of alien conspiracy. Listen."

Beel pressed another button on the console and a small speaker crackled to life. The four men listened to the hoarse voice whispering.

"Five light years. No. No. No. No. We can go further. But they didn't want us to. They wanted to keep us back. Hold us back. Short hops. Like a bunny. But we can go 14. Five. Five is wrong. 14 is right. No cooldown. Cooldown is wrong. They are tricking us. Making us bunnies. The aliens are tricking us. We are not bunnies. Look inside. They are tricking us. 14. 14 is the number. 14. They are tricking us!"

Beel pressed the button again and the corridor fell silent.

"A sad case and one I can see being a resident for the rest of his life."

The men looked on at the gibbering man as the door solidified.

"Shall we move on?" Beel asked "There is nothing more to see here. We expect this gentlemen to remain at this secure facility for the rest of his life."


1 comment:

  1. Nice!

    But … "gategate"? You had to go there, didn't you?

    ReplyDelete