Posts tagged ‘generation’

Rings of Fate S3xE7 – Destiny – Heritage (pt.1)

Gently, in the rythm of a deep peaceful breath, the waves swayed back and forth. Worried Jonathan Carlisle looked at the image on his screen. The noise of the swaying waves from the speaker filled the room.

What had caused the water to sway like this? Usually the water was still, perhaps a little disturbed if some was pumped in, or out, of the storage tank. But never in his career had he seen it sway.

Asking senior colleagues provided him with the same answer, it had never swayed like that. “Has it quieted down?” Petronella Adamova popped her head in the room.

“A little, but not by much.” He said, looking up to her beautiful blue-green eyes. “Damn.” She entered the room. “An hour, and still swaying. What could cause that?”

Shrugging his shoulders Jonathan looked at the display. A sudden warning sound of displacement, and then the display went on. He didn’t know more than that either.

“Guess I’ll go diving today.” Petronella sighed staring at the screen. “Please, tell me it has quieted down when I arrive.” She winked leaving the room.

Nodding he watched her leave. He couldn’t help but feel incredibly aroused at the thought of her diving in the water reservoir he was watching.

Concentrating on the water again, he asked himself how she was going to determine the cause for the swaying from inside the water.

“That was an invitation, in case you missed it.” Petronella came back after noticing he hadn’t followed her. Quickly he sprung to his feet.

Washing up against the reservoir walls the water made a thundering noise in the access port. Intertwined, almost naked, the two were locked in a passionate kiss. Diving equipment was laid out neatly at the side of the access door, their clothes strewn around.

A sudden loud crack stopped their passion.

Out of breath the two looked around. “I guess my dive has just been cancelled. Come on.” She pulled him with her towards a ladder.

Quickly the two hurried down the metal rungs and walked down the corridor. “Treatment plant to the right, reservoir to the left.” Jonathan mumbled.

Suddenly he bumped into Petronella who had stopped abruptly in front of him. “We should be leaving.” She pointed down. Through the floor, a simple metal walkway, a bulge on the reservoir wall was visible. “That’s why it kept sloshing back and forth!” Sudden clarity over the cause conjured a smile on his lips. “Yeah, and if that thing breaks we have problem.” Pushing him back to the ladder she planned the next steps.

Hurrying back to the office the two only gathered their clothes, but didn’t stay to get dressed. Luckily no one was in there to notice them.

“Drain the reservoir, engage water treatment systems in the pods.” She pushed him to his workstation, quickly he got to work.

“Sounding alert in the garden, raising pond levels.” She informed him of her actions, then took her glasses from her blouse. “Admiral Fuller please.”

Slumped in the chair the tall muscular man looked aghast at the presentation on the briefing room screen. “The main water reservoir on beta essentially broke. Luckily there is no rupture, or else the water flow would’ve trickled outwards to the rings, flooding hallways and staircases.” Technician Petronella Adamova summed up her report. At her side was Jonathan Carlisle, who had held half of the presentation.

After reading the reports from Horizon, Admiral Benjamin Fuller was only left with one question. Why always beta?

Water had been rerouted to storage and treatment facilities on the individual pods, the levels of the ponds and lake on beta had been raised in order to drain the reservoir.

Somewhere in that presentation the two mentioned that luckily the reservoir had not been filled completely, or else the deformation of the tank would’ve probably caused an immediate rupture.

Ben did not inquire why that was. “What are we going to do now?”

Reluctantly Jonathan and Petronella exchanged a glance. “There’s not much we can do, sir. Repairs of the reservoir will take up months, and then it won’t be able to handle the amounts of water it used to.” That was in the presentation we just gave you. Jonathan maintained a dry smile. “So we are going to have to live with raised levels of water in the garden? The biologists gave me to understand that some of the trees near the bodies of water can not survive with the current levels.”

Scratching his head Jonathan looked at the screen behind him. “That water could be transferred to other rings. Luckily it is not like we are short on it.” If the reservoir had ruptered, we would be.

“In that case, please do transfer the amounts of water necessary to return the garden to its former state, and get to work on the repairs. Even if it won’t return to its former capacities, that way at least the water now in the ponds and lakes will be back in the ring they belong to.” He nodded with a broad smile.

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Rings of Fate S3xE6 – Horizon – Disasters (pt.4)

Firmly held in place with bolts a maintenance cab sat in the opening of Dawn Horizon’s spine. Behind it a regular cab had just dropped off Jane. There was a window in the cab allowing for her to see outside. Originally meant for a quick damage assessment without pressurising the tube, or squeezing into a space suit, it now served as a panoramic window.

In the distance Dusk Horizon followed the ship with the same speed. Thinking about the stunt the ship and her crew had just performed, made Jane a little sick.

Cutting out part of the ship, while travelling at incredible speeds, and moving that part out from in between the remaining parts of the ship, still while travelling at incredible speeds.

From the perspective of someone aboard the Horizon, there was no motion. The ship was relatively stationary. But in truth, they sped through the universe, and just had cut out the middle of the ship.

Jane could not help but feel as if she had failed.

Her task was to bring Horizon to its destination, not cut the ship into three pieces, abandon one of these pieces and bring home the remaining two separately.

The newly released whisker probe took a swing by between the two ship parts. Probably because the officer in charge wanted to show off. It was there only for the briefest of moments, following beta at matching speed.

Displeased with the entire situation Jane turned away, her cab was still waiting. Two years of living on a separated ship were ahead. Somehow she doubted she could be happy on the surface. She’d file for a renewal of her term as Admiral, Dawn Horizon as her residence and jurisdiction.

“Admiral to the command centre!” Derek sounded unusually bossy. If her term as Admiral was not renewed, she’d suggest him as her successor, if he wanted to. “On my way, what is it?”

“Trouble.” On the upside, traveling from one end of the ship to the other now took less time.

Derek sat in the chair at her station, while Dr. Lehner monitored the beta ring and the readings of its reactor. Without saying a word Derek pointed at the screen. Jane looked intensely. “We reached the outer rim of our new home solar system.” Derek commented, informing her that he had already set in motion the chain of commands for slowing down, but that they first needed to move Dusk and Dawn apart on an axis in a right angle to their course, to avoid a possible collision.

“Were we faster than anticipated, or did we just forget to look where we were over the trouble with beta?” Angered by the new bad news Jane shooed Derek off her station and seat. “I guess the latter Ma’am.” He sighed standing beside her, since Matthias still occupied his station. A group of icy asteroids, or would be comets, were ahead, slightly to starboard of their trajectory.

“Admiral! Those things lie directly in the path of beta.” Matthias was close to panic, he was concerned what an impact on beta might set in motion. Breaking was out of the question, gradually slowing it down would take too long. “Increase beta’s velocity. Perhaps we can navigate it around that?”

Reluctantly Matthias followed that order, if the increase was gentle enough there might be no problem.

How did we miss that? There are people constantly watching space before us, and they saw nothing? Grinding her teeth Jane ordered the navigation officer to move Dawn vertically to the trajectory, and Dusk to do the opposite.

While the two vessels began moving apart, they also started the process of slowing down. Sweat beads formed on Jane’s forehead as she watched her navigation officers work. Mostly because Dawn was a little more efficient im slowing down than Dusk, she began sweating.

“Hold it at this level for now. And wait until Dusk has matched speed, or moved to a safe distance!” She advised, as she feared a collision between the two Horizon ships, with unforeseeable, yet catastrophic consequences.

Alpha and Gamma rings were rotating, the two rings would grind each other apart, and everyone aboard. Although Dawn had stopped slowing down, Dusk approached still, all of her thrusters at maximum to slow it down.

“Damn it, I could reach out from alpha and do a paint job on gamma!” She commented her frustration.

Only gradually did the second half of the ship slow down enough to leave a growing gap between the rings. Equally slowly did they diverge from one another.

“Resume breaking process, advise Dusk Horizon to turn 180 degrees, facing their rear towards the trajectory traveling in, so they can slow down more efficiently.” Tension fell off of her as she slumped back in her seat.

With a curious expression she turned her head to Matthias, who looked up from his instruments, slowly shaking his head.

The course adjustments to beta would have no effect, still it would crash into the asteroids. “Attempt to slow it down.” She sighed, hoping for the thrusters on the few remaining pods on beta to perform miracles.

With a weary head Jane sat down in her quarters. Gradual slowing of beta had commenced, but the outlook was bleak. Neither the course correction, nor the slowing would do much good. All they could hope was that beta would impact but not explode. Perhaps the reactor would breach and be cooled.

Still there was the issue of tracking the bits and pieces of contaminated material on the further journey through the solar system.

Wolfgang junior was still in a class and her daughter was in the infirmary, helping as nurse, although training to become a medical doctor.

“How’s your friend doing?” Wolfgang, her spouse, served some snacks.

“As far as I know, he is still in critical condition.” Gratefullyl reaching for the snacks she pondered what Jake would do concerning the beta ring.

And the navigation of Dusk and Dawn.

Presumably not much. There was nothing they could do at the moment. Even ambassador Hylia seemed perplexed with the situation. Beta was a ticking timebomb, and the Harpies wouldn’t go near it.

She was given to understand that the ambassador was very uneasy about the thermonuclear reactors in alpha and subalpha.

“What else is weighing you down? I think you did perfect with the whole slowing down business. And there’s nothing to be done about beta.”

“I know, but had we paid more attention to what was ahead of us, we could’ve sent beta off in another direction and wouldn’t need to worry now.”

Massaging her shoulders Wolfgang argued that it was no use to cry, or argue, over spilled milk. The situation now existed, it could not be undone.

Two weeks passed in which Dusk and Dawn continued to slow down, while the beta ring only decreased its speed minimally. Since Dusk had to turn around it had been a bit faster than Dawn, so what was once the rear was no infront of the bow.

Jane had ordered the civilian population, and all off duty, and non essential personnel to the centers of the rings, wher they would be shielded against any radiation emanating from beta, if it were to blow up.

Seated at her station she was glad that at least Derek was with her. He had manned the navigation panel, since his station was still reserved for engineering.

A circumstance he would have to live with for the rest of their journey.

“It’ll impact any moment now.”

Nodding Jane fastened her seat belt. A task she had never thought to be doing while not about to land on Equatoria.

Cameras, both on the exterior of Dawn, and in the whisker probes were fixed to the location of the impact. By now both the asteroids and beta were indescribably tiny dots on the screen.

Suddenly a bright flash lit the room.

No sound, no shockwave.

Just the light. “That was the event we were dreading. Beta was hit a few seconds before that.”

“May the universe show mercy and fling that which is harmful to life away from it.” Jane let go of her tight grip on the armrests.

Meanwhile Derek stated that the radiation levels he was reading were nothing the ship couldn’t handle. “I just wouldn’t eat anything grown on the outside of this ship.” He smirked playfully.

“I wouldn’t in any case.” She replied with an equal smile.

An alarm began beeping in the navigation panel, drawing their attention back to the situation. “Slightly radioactive, nothing to be concerned,” shocked Derek paused to draw breath. “It’s an asteroid, heading towards Dusk Horizon, estimated impact in a few minutes!” The explosion must’ve released tremendous amounts of energy to fling a piece of rock and ice that fast out of its orbit into their path. “Reading smaller pieces of ice and rock traiking behind it, no imminent danger from those, but this could derail Dusk.”

Derail. Clenching the armrests again Jane fought the urge to scream in anger. What a nice euphemism for impact and bring off course, perhaps destroy.

“They’re taking evasive actions.”

“Won’t be enough.” Jane replied, alarm sirens began blaring on the entire ship, the computer was still operating as if the ship was still whole, detected the incoming object and alerted Dawn and Dusk of the impending impact.

With a few commands Jane killed the alarm, as it hindered her in thinking.

“Why do I get the feeling that this voyage, on this ship, is cursed?” Automatic locking lasers began shooting at the speeding object, with little effect. The asteroid was both too compact and too big for the lasers to have an effect. If I can get my hands on the engineer who built this ship, I will “Admiral.”

Jane looked at the big screen, a harpy ship had appeared out of no where, their weapons seemed to have more impact on the object.

Quickly only pebbles and grains were left.

“You can thank us later.” Hylia stood in the door to the command centre.

“Ambassador, I’m glad to see you here.” I doubt your people would’ve sent a ship to the rescue if you weren’t.

Also taking a seat and buckling up Hylia pointed at the screen. “I am told you have bigger issues at hand than this tiny rock.”

Both Jane and Derek looked at the view screen that dominated the wall. “I believe she’s right. Some other rocks are now on a collision course. They pose no threat right now, but,” Derek stopped, shaking his head. “They will soon.” Jane finished his sentence.

Governor Xiao, acting Admiral of Dusk Horizon, was quite pale in the video frame. At his side was Sergeant Harrison, acting first officer. His complexion was equally devoid of color. “Gentlemen, we have to find a way around this. If we slow down too much to avoid getting hit, our journey through the system will take up more time than measly two years. If we do not slow down enough, we hit these rocks.” At her side was Derek, who had no good news either. “I’m open for suggestions.”

“We could always ask the Harpies for help.” The governor wrinkled his forehead while raising his eyebrows.

“We could, and we have. Problem is, they cant fit us in their ships, they can’t extend their propulsion field around any of our ships. And although their weapons would prove effective against the asteroids, the following shower of fragments would be too overwhelming for our canons, and still damage our ships.”

Slowing down enough to let the asteroids pass and subsequently gather new momentum by exploding nukes was out of the question as the shockwaves would bring the other ship off course, and expose them to a new source of radiation.

“Can’t the harpies later on push us? Or pull us?” Xiao rubbed his temples.

“They might, but it is questionable whether our structural integrity could withstand that.” Jane only had seen a simplified version of specifications for a tractor beam, as the SciFi fans would call it, but what she had seen made her doubt it would be any good. Individual pods might get torn out of their docking, and the dish was designed to with stand pushes, not a continuous pull.

“We could, and should, slow down.” Derek closed the protection lid of his tablet. “Following that, Dusk and Dawn should move apart as far as possible, and coordinate a simultaneous detonation to bring us back up to speed.” Both the Governor and the Admiral looked at him with a doubting expression. “We will take your proposal under consideration.” In order to use the nukes as propulsion, both Dusk and Dawn would have to turn 180 degrees, a maneuver neither the Admiral nor the Governor wanted to perform, again.

“I have a question, it might be a dumb one, but what if we accelerate a cab, or nuke, out of the spine, so it will be far ahead of us, and bomb the asteroids, in essence, bring them on another course?” Sergeant Harrison raised a question that Jane had neglected to think about.

It was a plan. She admitted to her self, but it would mean that they would have to track another set of debris through the solar system, and potentially spell doom for RV-p296, or the Jovian moon the DEHumans sat on.

The linkers. “We could ask the linkers for assistance. They built a graviton emitter to extract minerals from ES-p296. Surely they ought to be able to propel us towards our destination once we have slowed down.”

Met with stone cold faces from Governor, Sergeant and her first officer, Jane squinted her eyes. “Gentlemen, detonating the asteroids creates more debris. Using the nukes to bring us up to speed again will cost time, resources and might be catastrophic in itself, as the shockwaves could create unknown hazards for either one of our ships, possibly both, and maybe the colony. Evasive actions only make sense if we slow down too. The linkers, owe us, it is because of them we have had the unstable beta ring. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, for now, let us slow down.”

Still the others were reserved, but agreed that slowing was the best course of action to the issue at hand.

Slowed to approach velocity, the speed Horizon should have when approaching RV-p296, Dawn Horizon crawled through the outer regions of the 296 system, Dusk Horizon slightly ahead. Glad to see some improvement in Jake’s condition Jane returned from the infirmary to the command centre.

The better part of the last two weeks she had spent convincing Derek and alpha ring’s Governor that contacting the linkers was the right course of action. Governor Xiao seemed to be listening as well, but she was uncertain that she truly reached him, yet he appeared to be listening to her.

“Ma’am, Dusk has altered course.” Derek greeted her with a sullen face. “We have received reports from Dusk that acting Admiral Xiao has ordered the course alteration in order to propel Dusk with the Oriondrive to RV-p296.”

Jane closed her eyes. He was not listening. Letting out a deep sigh Jane sat down in her seat. “Contact them, ask for reasons.”

“They already gave them. They want nothing to do with the linkers, rather take their own chances.”

On the large view screen she saw the other part of Horizon move off to the side. The other part of her ship.

Her responsibility. Could she truly let them go off and take their own chances? How should or could she stop them?

Not with gun power. Harming or destroying Dusk was out of the question, besides Dusk had the fusion reactor, while dawn only had inferior fission reactors.

“I wish you the best, safe journey, and may the odds be in your favor.”

Weeks passed by, the detonation of Dusk’s propulsion nuke had not harmed Dawn. On the viewscreen Jane mostly saw her reflection, as it drew power that no one needed. Until they reached ES-p296. A beautiful multicolored marble in the velvet backdrop of space, with a stream of clouds rising upwards to the moon where the DEHumans had their station. “Open a channel.” Jane inched forward in her seat, the communication officer reported ready.

“This is Admiral Jane Mulgrew speaking, we request assistance in reaching RV-p296.” Long range sensors showed that Dusk had alread cleared that section of the solar system, would reach the colony in a year and a half, while Dawn would need an additional three years to cover the same distance.

Several minutes went by before Jane repeated her greetings and request. “Admiral. We are reading that you are fully capable of reaching your destination by yourself. Utilisation of your Oriondrive is possible.” A young dark skinned woman with piercing green eyes appeared on the viewscreen.

“We would rather not detonate more radioactive bombs in this system.” Jane smiled, she recognised the woman as the granddaughter of Nye Charles.

Nameless as of yet.

“Those operating the other part of your ship were less concerned. Why should we aid you?”

“It is your fault that Horizon broke apart, without your kind interfering with the operations of this ship, beta ring would not have worn out and Horizon would still be whole.” For a moment the woman did not reply, but seemed to be thinking.

“We will aid you in reaching RV-p296. But that will be the end of it.” The line went dead. Feeling more intimidated than victorious Jane inched around the chair.

Something told her that there was a catch to the deal.

Sensors showed that one of the completed ships disengaged from the shipyard, that had grown since Explorer first mapped it, and took course towards Dawn. “Receiving a distress signal.” Communion officer Jovcenko stated dryly. “It’s Dusk. They seem to have run into a comet trail of some sort, they’re bombarded with millions of particles.” At first Jane wanted to dismiss it, the exterior of the rings was after all designed to with stand such damage, but Dusk was missing a deflection dish, her sealed tubes in the spine scooped up the particles, that went unhindered through the seals, which were not designed to sustain such bombardment.

Slightly opening her mouth Jane wanted to cuss. She wanted to yell out to Xiao and the people following him how stupid they were. “Raise the linkers, they could help them.” Gladly trading the travel time shortening aid of the DEHumans against the lives aboard the Dusk, Jovcenko tried to but was interrupted by Derek who was sitting at the nav console. “They’re breaking apart, their superstructure is failing. Several pods have broken away, many more are still anchored.” Jane looked over her shoulder, Matthias shrugged his shoulders. “Subgamma is still intact. Gamma is acting as a sort of shield against the micro asteroids.”

A sick shield filled with misery and death. “Distress signal is gone, their communication is dead.” Taking a little solace in the fact that gamma did not have an active reactor that now could contaminate subgamma Jane took a few deep breaths. “Contact the linkers. We need to mount a rescue.”

“Admiral. The speeds they are traveling with are making it difficult for us. The linkers alone might do it, we can’t. Suddenly increasing our velocity to match theirs would prove problematic at best, so even if the linkers can drop us off there, we still have to catch up.” Matthias Lehner was standing, in his face was pure concern for the well being of the ship. And himself.

“He is right Admiral.” Startled by the sudden appearance of the Linker spokeswoman on the viewscreen, Jane hurled around. “Our projections show that 90% of that crew has died, or will die within the next hour. The open tubes permit the micro asteroids to penetrate the last corner of the ship. Unhindered by any form of shielding or atmosphere, they will soon have incapacitated the fusion reactor, plasma leaking from it will burn out the rear of the ship, destroying it entirely. We tried advising them to turn the ship around in order to have the shielding effect of the dish working to their advantage, but all attempts of communication were blocked from their end.”

Stomped Jane sank back in her seat. “If you want we can pick up all those who made it out of the wreckage using the pods.”

Slowly nodding Jane agreed. Numb she heard only the voices, but not the words. She felt as if she had failed as Admiral. She already had lost beta, and now gamma and subgamma.

The ship of the DEHumans maneuvered itself in between subalpha and alpha rings. Derek reported an energy field being extended around them, but Jane did not hear him, even when he stated that their instruments showed them moving even slower than before, but at the same time their viewscreen showed them moving fast by ES-p296.

An hour later the Dawn Horizon approached what was left of Dusk Horizon. A few pods sending out distress calls, and a giant perforated dead husk of a ship.

Part of Jane’s heart was breaking to see that sort of devastation. “Linker shields are holding, reading no micro asteroids inside the shield.” Derek commented. Ever since their departure he had effectively taken over command. Still he hoped to get some reaction out of Jane.

“They’re pulling in the pods using some sort of energy beam.” Jovcenko had taken off his headset, as the beam was interfering with communication.

After a few moments the stray pods had all been gathered. Jane took a last look at the Dusk. As foretold by the linkers, a huge hole was in the rear section of subgamma by burning hot plasma. It had undone part of the dish. Still the materials were incandescent, the plasma had dissipated.

I should’ve shot at them. Disable the release mechanism for the nukes, keep them from going off on their own.

Two days passed, when a warning signal alerted her to return to the command centre. They had reached their destination. Jane could not enjoy that feast for the eyes however. Too many lives had been lost in order to reach it.

“This is where we part, Admiral. All debts are paid.” Nye Chales’ granddaughter spoke eloquently, and monotonous. Jane nodded in silence, noticing that Horizon Dawn was put in a stable Orbit. Immediately landing procedures ensued.

“Commander Derek Harvey, please take over command of this vessel. I hereby resign my commission. Effective immediately. Notify the colony and their government. I will stand trial for my actions, if need be.” Turning around on her heel Jane left the command centre. Knowing that probably no one would file charges against her, she intended to do so herself.

This would not be a happy landing.

At least for her.

Rings of Fate S3xE6 – Horizon – Disasters (pt.3)

“How is he?” Admiral Jane Mulgrew stood over the bed where Jake was lying. “Bad. I’m afraid the sergeants assessment was quite correct. Reading massive tissue damage due to radiation poisoning. I’ve given him some drugs to ease the pain, and a new implant. But from here on out, it’s a waiting game.” Doctor Mysagi spoke with a lowered voice. At Jake’s side was Stephanie, his spouse.

“Is there nothing you can do?” Her voice trembled.

“We have given the new implant explicit instructions, and uncorrupted genetic material from his quarters to work with, but I’m afraid some of the damage is irreversible.” The doctor replied.

Jane thanked him.

“Hang in there. You fought bravely to survive. You won’t die on a sickbed now, would you?” She gently touched his hand.

If he would’ve been awake he would’ve replied that he did not intend to, but that this battle was not all his to fight.

“Admiral, there is another problem to be dealt with.” Matthias Lehner, Jake’s replacement in the command centre approached her as she returned. “Chief engineer Khaku turned off the valve to the reactor, to flee the control room. Part of the released steam had found its way to the spine and vented to space, but there still is some water trapped within the reactor.”

“Enough to cause any problems? “

Matthias weighed his head. “Yes and no.” On his console, normally the station of the first officer, he opened up a schematic display of the beta ring.

“It is not enough to be split into hydrogen and oxygen and blow up. But it isn’t enough to cool the unstable mass of reactor fuel. More and more of the rods will melt and collect in the reactor. Until it becomes critical. Since he closed those valves there is no way for the immense heat to escape, the reactor walls and all other walls around it act like a dampening layer.”

Clenching the top of the console Jane tried to process the information. “Meaning inadvertently he turned the reactor into a ticking bomb?”

Glad he had not to spell it out Matthias nodded. Giving Derek, her first officer, a gesture with her hand she told him to continue moving the beta ring away.

“Admiral! That might not be wise. There’s no way of telling how much of the material has already amassed. Any further bumps might cause the mass, if it is already critical, to”

“What else is there to do? Beta is currently travelling at the same speed as we, if we slow down we have it ahead of us. Once it blows, we get showered with radioactive debris. If we move it out, it might blow now, or it won’t. But if we try and succeed it’ll blow someplace else, where we won’t get showered with radioactive crap from that ring.” She furiously lashed at him in a verbal manner. “Derek, proceed, but only steadily.”

Calming herself down Jane sat in her chair. Apologising for her ill manner she rubbed her temple.

Only slowly the thrusters in the pods on beta engaged. Ever so gently the dead and contaminated ring inched away from the two parts of Horizon. As it reached a certain distance the cloud of contaminated steam trailing behind the severed spine became visible from Dawn Horizon, only visible before due to the whisker probes and Dusk Horizon.

“There goes our greatest failure in this endeavour.” Derek sighed watching the ring move away further. So far. Jane added mentally. “Send a whisker out to trail it, if that thing blows up, I want every bit and piece of it tracked, and their trajectories calculated. We cannot contaminate this solar system. There are people depending on it.”

Rings of Fate S3xE6 – Horizon – Disasters (pt.2)

With a sigh of relief he closed the hatch behind him. The valve had closed automatically, as he had entered a low pressure region.

Hastily he opened the suit to breathe. Desperation grew in his mindset.

Not fifty meters from the cryogenic chambers, he faced a nother obstacle.

Vacuum.

The tubes were not pressurised, and they couldn’t be sealed, so pressuring them was out of the question, even if the systems were operational.

For the tasks he had to perform in the last days and weeks he had to work with the ship’s schematics a lot, and had saved them to his glasses and his tablet, as well as commited them to memory. Grateful for that fact he opened them, because the memory core of the beta ring was surely anything but operational.

In case the population of the rings was killed the ship had, had the cryogenic chambers, with a crew of people to populate RV-p296. Those had to have had access to environmental suits, in case of catastrophic environment failure.

It took him a little while to get oriented in the almost completely dark room. Night google function on the glasses was helpful against the dark, but still it was tricky.

In a locker he found what he had been looking for.

Another hour passed until he was finalky all suited up.

Only then did he release the the hatch that opened to the transport tube. He was near a siphon, and in the distance he saw the faint glow of the stars in open space.

In the other direction a cloud of vapor, highlighted on his glasses as radioactive. Carefully he navigated his way to the siphon, pondered for a moment whether he should jump outwards, but decided against it. There was no telling whether he’d be found In time before the suit’s air ran out again.

Instead he managed to board the cryogenic tube, through an airlock.

He passed by a few of the chambers, not wanting to be in the forward sections where space debris could impact and kill him inside the chamber, not wanting to go too far back and end up eradiated, he stopped somewhere at the end of the first third.

There was an atmosphere, and it was at breathable temperatures, still he decided to remain in the suit, but turn of the internal supply of air.

“Please be out there, please be looking for me.” He sent a silent, whispered prayer to Horizon. Any Horizon.

After some time recalling his flight he felt the exhaustion weigh down on him. Worn out, by all that happened, and all that was happening still, sleep caught up to him.

Light, uncomfortable sleep in a chamber, that could easily turn out to be his coffin.

A loud noise went through the narrow chamber, tearing apart what ever dream Jake had been in. Was it the rescue?

Again the sound tore through the darkness. He tapped on his glasses, but got no response. The radiation must’ve worked its dark twisted magic on the electronics, making them little more than dead weight on his face. A light shone through the narrow window.

Rescue!

He wanted to yell, but his lungs felt heavy, even without gravity, all he could manage was a whimper.

Like in a feverish haze he saw the hatch open, arms and hands reached inside, pulled him out.

People. Normal people. They bore Horizon’s ID on their suits, but he couldn’t make out the names. Dragging and pushing him through the narrowness of the tunnel they kept talking, but he understood less than a few words.

Drunken, or feverish did not even come close to how he felt.

“We have him. His implant is cold, I suspect he is beyond our medical capabilities.” Sergeant Colm Becket pushed Jake from behind. At the end of the tunnel was a maintenance cab waiting. It had been dragged with a pod to the spine of beta, inserted, and guided towards the airlock at the end of the cryogenics tube, where it docked. With the cab they brought Jake to the pod, leaving the cab inside the beta wreckage.

Rings of Fate S3xE6 – Horizon – Disasters (pt.1)

Darkness surrounded Jake.

Darkness and unspeakable cold.

He had postponed the cryogenic cycle until his air was almost depleted. Now all he could do was wait. Wait and hope that Horizon, one of the two Horizons, would detect the faint energy signature. Or else he’d remain in the cryogenic chamber indefinitely.

Lying in the narrow space of the chamber he recalled his desperate flight to the chamber.

“…and prosper.” satisfied with his dying words he looked at the console. The line was dead.

Cursing he turned around, several times. The reactor was no longer posing a threat in terms of exploding, at least for now. There was still the issue of hydrogen gas in the reactor chamber. For now it was too thinly spread to pose any threat, all the water vapor circling around beta’s interior would sooner or later settle.

In his desperate turns around the reactor control room he stopped as his eyes fell on a dusty cabinet. Intrigued he pushed himself off from the console, floated over.

It was unlocked, inside were suits.

Although there was no gravity, simulated or otherwise, he could tell they were heavy. Radiation suits!

Holding the suit in his hands his glance fell on the door. Slightly the lights dimmed. Batteries were running low, radiation was interfering with the electronics holding the door in place, the reactor was not producing an ounce of energy.

Quite ungracefully he slipped into the suit, managed to seal it. That took most of an hour, but he had no other choice.

Even if it should prove futile, he had nothing better to do. Should he be curling up into a ball and contemplate his life?

No, he definitely wasn’t going to do that, even though at times, in frustration over the difficulties he had with the suit, he thought about it.

With use of a heavy mechanical wheel he closed the valves releasing the contaminated steam into the hallway outside the control room. The suit protected him, but only that much, he still would drop dead after a few minutes in that steam.

A thud went through the entire ring, a few moments after he had opened the door. They’re finally moving it out from in between the Horizon parts.

Lights flashed before his eyes. Lights that weren’t there.

Frowning he pushed on. He knew that meant that high energy particles were leaking into the suit, reacting with his eyes.

On his head the glasses went crazy. Linked with his implant they alerted him to dangerous levels of radiation.

Navigating the hallways in dimming lights and no gravity was more like navigating a maze.

At an intersection he paused for a moment. One way led to the gardens, the other to the tube. Either direction would take him to the center of the ring, to what was left of the spine, where the cryogenic chambers were.

Those functioned on their own battery power, and were built to last.

Built to shield the individual inside from any radiation.

He followed the way to the tube, found the doors open, and the cab sitting inside. The steam had been routed to the gardens, but since the dors to the cab were wide open he knew that it had also entered the cab. There was no way to power the intense and power hungry magnetic fields that moved the cab through the tubes.

Left with no alternative he turned around, took the turn to the gardens.

“Glasses, I hope you are still operational.” With a few simple commands he turned them into a detector for the contaminated steam, which undoubtedly floated around the gardens in smaller and bigger clouds.

With displeasure he noticed a metallic taste in his mouth, a radiation warning messge kept blinking in the upper right corner of his glasses.

Lights in the gardens were turned off even before the beta ring was disconnected, from the small guide lights at the entrances he still got enough light to see the gardens in their weightless state. Trees and other growth was, through their roots, connected to the ground, but since the ring was moved put of position, inertia had dislodged the waters in the garden. All the ponds and small lakes now floated in the air.

Another warning popped up.

The suit’s air supply was almost gone. Having no time to marvel at the mysterious beauty of the dark, weightless garden he aimed for the access point to the spine.

His glasses adviced him to take another route as they detected, and displayed, a cloud of contaminated water in his path.

There were several of those, displayed as green specs floating around. Once he was airborne, he had no way of avoiding them, so he was left with no choice but to guess their movements and try to avoid hitting one.

Releasing that vapor into the gardens had created drafts, that had not settled down yet.

If wasn’t for the drafts, the shifting clouds of contaminated water, and the blobs of water from ponds and lakes, Jake would’ve felt at peace, floating upwards to the spine.

Flashing and beeping the suit informed him that the internal air supply was depleted, with a hiss a valve opened letting in air from outside.

Now he was even more afraid of the drifting clouds of radioactive vapor, as it would seep in through that valve and shorten his already shortened lifetime even more.

Hoping to approach the spine before vapor hit him he closed his eyes, the glasses would vibrate and beep if a cloud would approach him, so there was nothing left for him to see. He could not avoid it even if he saw it floating towards him.

Proximity alert tore him out from his silent prayers to what ever diety, or supernatural energy was out there. He opened his eyes.

Cold, lifeless and barely lit, the surface of the spine took up all of his field of vision. He latched on to it. Carefully, as not to push himself off again, he handled towards the access point.

Rings of Fate S3xE5 – Horizon – Separated (pt.4)

Suddenly beeping signals from one console alerted Jane, rushing to the station Jake and Stephanie checked the instruments, then the contol panel. “This is a display of beta’s reactor!” Jake cussed, he checked the other consoles for the reactors on the other rings. “Alpha and gamma have begun working as well. It must be some sort of fail safe, if this reactor is turned on, the others follow.”

“Subgamma is dead. Probably because the fusion reactor is still up and running.” Quickly Stephanie returned from the subgamma panel to the beta panel. “Pumps aren’t working. There is a pressure build up. Failsafe is not engaging, shutdown is unresponsive.”

Jane had joined them at the control panels. “How much time do we have before it goes critical?”

Shrugging his shoulders Jake could only guess. “An hour? Maybe a bit more.”

Throwing her hands in the air Jane turned around to the door. “Time to cut the ship in two?”

“Two hours, if we hurry.”

Of course. “Get to it, now.”

Nodding Jake sent Stephanie to do it, as he remained at the controls to try and win some time. “I will lose comtrol over the reactor when the lines are severed.” Although the wiring was in the center of the spine, Jake knew that the spine would not hold out long against the lasers, cutting would continue after the spine was severed to cut away most of beta ring, so Dusk Horizon would not carry a lot of dead weight in front of it, on a weak spine.

Terrified he looked up from the control panel. “Fuck! The reactor is in beta’s aft section!”

“Mulgrew to Gruber, abort separation, but stand ready.” A swarm of engineering staff entered the room, taking the controls, Jake stepped back, Jane mustered him.

“Dusk Horizon will have to deal without a deflector.” He took out a tablet punched in a few commands, while rushing out of the room. The hallway outside the reactor control room was dusty, as it was seldom in use. Still there was a tube entrance, a cab was waiting for Jake, Jane followed on his heels.

Over the glasses she had been informed by Stephanie that the modified cabs had moved from their position to just outisde gamma, and began firing their lasers, cutting off gamma and subgamma. “What are you intending to do?” Jane asked as they entered the spine, lost gravity.

Jake remained silent for a few moments until the cab came to a stop and opened the doors to a hallway, still there was no gravity.

“Buying you some time. Now, I have realigned the lasers in the maintenance cabs, the ring is another bargain, they’re fixed in position, but the cabs can be retrieved and will go to their original positions.” He plunged himself out of the cab, leaving Jane paralysed.

“Good luck, Jane.” Doors closed and the cab moved away automatically.

“Good luck, Jake.” She finally mumbled as the cab entered subalpha again.

Devastated Stephanie awaited the Admiral in the command centre, where the controls for the maintenance cabs had been rerouted to. “Status?” Jane took her seat, grinding her tears. She had known Jake for years, and knew that, what he was doing, was suicide. Still, she had more lives to consider than just his,

Upon leaving the cab, she had sent it back to where Jake had taken off, with the express order to only leave if Jake was inside.

“He is working the manual controls.” Her fist officer Derek commented, as Stephanie sat in a corner sobbing.

“Admiral!” Jake’s voice yelledout of the speakers. “Some of the fuel rods have begun melting, I can’t contain the situation, sorry.”

“Get your ass in the cab.”

“But if I release the water into space there is a chance to prevent a catastrophe.” Glancing to Derek who shook his head Jane grew angry. “Jake, listen, the venting pipes are jammed, you jeed to get back. I parked the cab where you left it, get back. Now.”

Silence filled the line to Jake for a moment. “I can do it Admiral. By releasing the contaminated steam into the hallways and direct it into the gardens.”

Again Derek shook his head, Stephanie jumped to her feet. “No! Jake, that’d be your death!”

“You know sweetie, my favorite classic SciFi movie? At the ending?” Jake’s voice trembled, by a look at her display Jane saw that the maintenance cabs were moving into position again, cutting Jake off from a way back.

“Don’t, please.”

“I must. My life is a small price to pay, for the lives of all of you.” Derek stated that the lasers had been turned on remotely from Jake’s tablet. “Who knows, my love? We’re amongst the stars, and if this was science fiction, I could return. No one truly dies in science fiction.”

Instead of a reply Stephanie sobbed, sinking to her knees at Derek’s console.

Maintaining his professionalism Derek informed Jane that Jake had successfully vented the steam into the hallways and gardens.

Which made Stephanie sob harder. “It’s getting quite hot in here. Admiral, I’m switching to wireless, the spine should be severed soon. If radiation interferes too much, let me just say, live long and” transmission ended.

Static filled the line, for a few moments there was not a word uttered in the command centre. Except for Stephanie’s sobs, the bristling noise of debris and the static noise, the room was filled with silence.

“There is too much interference, Admiral.” Slowly coming to terms with what just had happened, Jane nodded.

“Radiation leaks detected!” Woken to action Jane looked up from her console. A stream of vapor shot out from the beta ring’s center.

“Reading multiple fissures on beta’s aft section.” The engineer replacing Stephanie, Matthias Lehner, stated dryly.

They had waited an hour.

An hour without word, or sign from Jake.

“Get it out from in between Dusk Horizon and us.” She finally sighed, the remote controls for the pods remaining on beta, would soon be affected by the radiation too.

Simultaneously the pods fired their engines, without disengaging from the superstructure, pulling the beta ring away, thrusters had been aligned so the pods wouldn’t try to pull the ring in various directions, breaking it apart, thus creating a new debris field.

Farewell, Jake. You did fine. “I’ll be in my quarters. If anyone needs me, wait for tomorrow’s shif to tell me. Unless the ship is on fire.” Jane winked at Derek, who took her seat.

Inside her quarters she was greeted with just the bristling noise, but otherwise silence. Her family was not home, feeling blissed, she sat down.

Opened her tablet, flipped through her library, until she found a book she wanted to read. Something that would take her mind off of Jake and his sacrifice.

Light reading.

After a few pages her mind drifted off.

Jake’s last words to Stephanie haunted her mind. Curious she wanted to know which movie it was that he was referring to. Could she ask Stephanie?

Deciding against it she used her Admiral’s privileges to gain access to Jake’s viewing habits on the on board movie databases.

Mirrored systems were stored on all rings, hence it was no problem that his former quarters were on subgamma, on the now Dusk Horizon.

Soon she found what she had been looking for, turned her attention to the screen in the room, loading the movie.

It was in the middle of the night when Jane was gently awoken by her son. “I didn’t know you watched Star Trek.” He smiled. “Normally I don’t.” Jane stretched. “What time is it?”

“Three in the morning. Dad sent me since you didn’t show up at aunt Maggie’s, remember?” Actually she had forgotten.

The family wanted to sleep there since she and Wolfgang jr. couldn’t sleep at all, and Wolfgang and their daughter slept only badly. “Couldn’t sleep there either?”

Her son made a painful face. “Not after dad woke me.”

Typical for her man, not to come over himself but wake up and send his son. “You look horrible Mum. What’s up?”

“Friend of mine is MIA, probably dead by now.” Calmly Wolfgang sat down too, turned the movie back on. “Wanna talk about it?”

Suspiciously Jane squinted at her teenage son. “You’re the weirdest, yet kindest teen I know of.”

“You’re the one who raised me, so whose to blame for that?” The grin on his face was loveable.

“Nice try young man. There’s not much to say. He was on beta trying to contain a catastrophe, succeeding in doing so, but also to his presumed demise.”

Wolfgang glanced over to the movie. He connected the dots. “The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. He watched Star Trek.” Slowly Jane nodded. When did her son watch this? Had she missed it?

How could she?

“In that respect mum, he’s a true hero, and if he truly is dead, and not floating out there in a sealed container, he deserves to be remembered with all honor.” He yawned, got up.

Cupping a hand behind his ear he pointed at the walls, winked and went to bed.

Thinking about his words Jane watched the movie again, without dozing off this time, so she could see the ending.

“Scan for faint energy emissions in the beta wreckage!”

Stomped by the sudden order Derek looked at the Admiral with awe. Her hair was a mess, she looked as if she either hadn’t slept the night before, or hadn’t dressed and brushed that morning.

Or both.

“Ma’am?”

Explaining she had an epiphany from watching the movie that Jake had been referencing, she again ordered him to scan for the faint signs of an active cryogenic chamber.

“Got something, it barely registers through all that radiation.” With a wrinkled forhead Derek turned to her. “Now we need to get him out.”

Rings of Fate S3xE5 – Horizon – Separated (pt.3)

Jake looked at the work he had completed. Satisfaction filled his chest, heaving with every breath he drew.

Slowly his gaze wandered down the tube. There was a lot of work to be done, his satisfaction withered, exhaustion replaced it. Too much work.

He need more hands.

More hands than the engineering crew could provide him with.

More hands than were on the ship. And those weren’t qualified.

“Maybe we should use automated welders?” Stefanie, his colleague and love of his life followed his gaze. “We could modify the maintenance cab, or cabs, to do it. Scan after them to find spots that need special attention, and go only on those manually?”

Wrinkling his forehead Jake exhaled audibly. “Maybe, get to work sweetie, go forth and make us a welding bot.” Winking at him she pushed off in the direction of the rear of Horizon. Modifying a maintenance cab would take her a few hours.

He returned his attention to the walls. Maybe he could modify the device that was used to clean and maintain the exterior of the spine inside Beta, so the artificial light could shine brightly, to a similar end?

Basicall it was a huge ring, moving slowly across the spine. Cleaning was fully automatic, but there was room for peple there to replace faulty parts. A warning chime from the front of Horizon drew his attention.

After a few moments the gate opened, slowly a maintenance cab floated in, stopped right behind the gate.

Curiously he continued staring at the door, until it finally opened.

“What do you need to do, to separate the ship safely?” Jane appeared in the open door.

Actually, Jake had not prepared any detailed plans for that, as the Admiral dismissed the idea right away.

“Cutting it apart at the joints of beta is the best course of action I guess. Keep a bit of beta around for the rear to act as deflector.”

“Prepare what you can, we’ll do that.” In her voice a tone of regrett was unmistakable, but Jake didn’t pick up on that. “Aye. I’ll have it ready as fast as I can.”

After the Admiral had left again, Jake contacted Stephanie, informing her of the change of plans, and that she needed to outfit the maintenance cab with something more powerful.

With a feeling of dread Jake entered the control room inside the subalpha ring. Ever since the launch, the entire ship had run on the main reactor in subgamma. A giant fusion reactor.

For successful separation the forward section needed to provide for their own power. Each of the five rings had come with a backup power reactor.

Fission reactors.

The consoles in the control rooms were littered with switches, buttons and instruments, none of which were a digital display on a touchscreen like the rest of the ship, in case of a power failure, they needed to remain operational.

“Maybe we should reconsider. I might be wrong about the breaking apart theory.” Queasy he refrained from powering up the control panels. “You may also be right.” Jane closed her eyes. For three weeks Jake had worked hard to prepare everything for the separation.

From the beta ring he had taken the laser canons, designed to shoot debris, later used to shoot Harpies out of the sky. Divided into four sets, one was set in the ring structure around the spine inside the beta gardens, aiming forward, to cut through the spine, as the ring slowly turned.

The others were in the tubes just outside alpha. So they could cut away the spine there. From inside the central tube in the affected areas, all people in cryogenic chambers had been revived and situated.

There was no going back now.

“Do it. That’s an order.” Jane grumbled, seldom had she to tell people that an order was an order. If she had to, she hated it.

“We still need names. We won’t call it Horizon front and back, are we?” Trying to win some time Jake still hoped there was something that would allow him to not push that button. “Well, sticking with the name of Horizon, let’s go with Dawn and Dusk. Now, fire this thing up.”

Not musing at all in that moment Jane urged for the activation of subalpha’s reactor. Already, in the nights of constantly hearing the bristling of debris, she had decided on the names, agreed on them with the governors.

She was just glad there was no Harpy ship around that could get hit by a stray laser beam. Right after the beta ring was shut down, the ambassadorial ship disengaged and positioned itself at a safe distance, Ambassador Hylia was on subalpha.

“Aye Ma’am.” Hesitantly Jake pulled the lever. Fully automated the system came to life. Pumps engaged, fuel was lowered out from casings. After a few minutes the system was fully operational. “We will have to wait for the system to reach operational levels, but this looks good.” A sigh of relief from Jake, was mostly a good sign.

“Of course it does, the people who built this were no amateurs.” Stephanie commented, the situation they were in was unforseen, thus the people who had built the Horizon were not to blame for the broken spine in, and around beta. “I did a little reading, but I need verification, we are having a Thorium reactor here, not the kind of reactor they used on earth?” Jane wandered down the rows of control panels. She had no idea what any of these controls did, or showed.

“Well, not entirely. Subalpha and subgamma have Thorium reactors, alpha through gamma have conventional fission reactors. It was believed that for some unforseen reason there might be the need to make more nukes, which could relatively easily be made by using those kinds of reactors. The more stable reactors were reserved for the heart and the brain of the ship.”

Mildly unsettled by those news Jane nodded. The governor would not be happy about having a reactor under his chair that was possibly a timebomb.