Peaceful lightness, not a single ounce of weight pulled on Johannes Falkner. The middle aged medical doctor floated behind Admiral Solomon Grienberg. “How far do we have to go?” Slowly the Admiral turned his head to face Johannes. “Quite some distance Joe.” The smirk on his lips was making him smile too. “Jawohl mein Admiral!” Johannes saluted jokingly. Since they met twenty years earlier in preparation for the mission, the two had been friends. One of the first conversations they had was forever etched in Johannes’ mind. “How do you pronounce it again?” Former member of the israeli military Solomon, sat puzzled next to Johannes. “For fuck’s sake, just call me Joe, or if you insist Hans, but don’t try to say my idiotic name!”
Every time that Solomon called him Joe since, while smiling that smirk, Johannes was reminded of that day. “What do you suppose has caused that power out?”
Handling from ledge to ledge the two men floated through the tube inside the Horizon’s sub Alpha ring. “Wish I knew.” Was the short reply from Solomon. An hour ago a power failure had been detected a moment later only emergency lights were on in the command centre. Ordering the others to stay at their positions the two men embarked. One of the tubes in the network had been offline, and pressurized, for a routine maintenance inspection after an adjacent tube through the entirety of the Horizon had shut down for unknown reasons.
An uneasy feeling grew in Johannes. “Where are we?”
“Junction 17 subalpha, tube 4.”
“In space I mean.”
Just replying with “Oh.” Solomon had to thinkthink for a moment. “Outside the solar system, somewhere close to where the Ark1 had it’s incident.” After a pause he asked why Johannes wanted to know.
Uncertain as to why himself Johannes didn’t reply but followed the Admiral. Before them a wide siphon opened up into the faulty tube along the length axis of the ship. Normally the tube they were in would be rotating, so the spherical transport cab would be pushed down their tube, pushed out by the magnetic fields of the tubes.
“We need to go to the sub gamma section, main reator is there, perhaps they can tell us what is going on.”
Johannes knew, they had gone over that plan before leaving. A blackout of the magnitude they experienced shouldn’t occur. There were backups that should prevent such a thing from happening.
The two men stopped for a moment. Ahead of them was a vast tunnel. Two cab lengths from the alpha ring there was an airlock door. When a transit was in progress they opened to let a cab through, and closed right behind the cab, or cabs.
“Maintenance protocol, the tube is pressurized here, but should also on the other side, in case of a catastrophic pressure failure. If I’m mistaken, there is vacuum on the other side.” Solomon stopped in front of the door by grabbing a hold of a step that was hidden in the wall. They were there for maintenance crews.
“Let me guess, we have no way of going through there. If you suggest we open it by force, need I remind you what happens when you get exposed to vacuum?” Johannes looked back. “Or an atmosphere severely thinned if we open that?”
“Relax Joe,” smirking, “there was atmosphere this morning.”
Still feeling uneasy about the enterprise Johannes watched Solomon approach the manual opening mechanism. In a recess near the portal was a leaver which he pulled, he repeated the procedure two more times before the portal, looking like a camera shutter, opened silently. Relieved that there hadn’t been hissing of escaping atmosphere, Johannes followed the Admiral.
On the other side the two men closed the portal with three identical handles that had opened as the first ones had been opened. “Without the command centre in control, and capable of neutralizing any impacting bodies, we should keep these doors closed.” Solomon explained.
“Impacting bodies?!” Stopping handling forward Johannes floated on, past Solomon who had stopped at a handle to turn around to him. “You mean to tell me we could’ve been struck by an asteroid or something back there?” Cold sweat appeared on Johannes’ forehead. “We made it through, didn’t we?”
“Don’t tell me shit like that man, I’m a bloody doctor, not a space marine! I hate the idea of dying, dying in space in particular!”
Laughing Solomon kept moving on.
They passed by a rotating set of siphons, after crossing through yet another shutter like door. As the siphons rushed by they saw that they were closed a couple of cab lengths in. “At least they have gravity.” Solomon stated dryly, but in Johannes’ face was a brewing question.
“Suppose sub gamma has too, how do we enter?” The two men exchanged a long glance. “We can’t jump this!” Johannes pointed at the rotating siphons. “Even if we were to slip into a siphon, and I doubt that we could, the walls would hit us, break every single bone in our bodies.” Solomon looked at the siphons.
“I will think of something.” Again he displayed the playful smirk. !