Posts tagged ‘sci fi’

Rings of Fate S3xE2 – Explorer – Virus (pt.4)


Other than energy and data, each ring was functioning on its own. Dean took comfort in knowing that they could do that. Theoretically each pod was a life spending habitat on its own. He took comfort in knowing that, too. Sub alpha was now segmented, pods that were not afflicted by the virus had been sealed off, their inhabitants hopefully secure. Pods with afflicted people. That included the command centre.

In the ready room he had just laid down a member of the nightshift crew, who had broken down with a high fever at the end of his shift.

Lieutenant Lynch.

“When will your solution be ready?” Francesco administered a fever dampening drug to the man. “Soon, I hope. Franz is confident he can roll out the updates by tomorrow evening.” Grumbling Dean acknowledged that information, checking his gun. Like all others on Explorer it had no functioning laser at the moment, but he theorised that enough charged darts might overload the implant if Lynch should die and turn.

Through the open door he heard the alarming ring on the console at his station. Someone answered the call. “Oh, Admiral?” It had been Franziska. “You should come down to the infirmary!”

“Crap!” Francesco sprang to his feet, hurrying out with the Admiral. After a few moments the two arrived at the infirmary. A group of off duty personnel stood outside, they had their guns drawn, threatening the guards posted outside the infirmary, who in turn had their guns drawn. A few twitching people around told the two that the situation had already escalated.

The darts fired at the guards bounced off or stuck in the armor without harming the wearer, while most of the attackers were without such protection. “Hey!” Dean yelled, not wanting to believe what he saw. A dart whizzed by him, the shooter was hit by a blow from the guards.

“Admiral O’Neill!” A distraught doctor from the infirmary squeezed through the guards protecting him from the mob. “It’s okay Doctor, return to your work.” turning from the man to the others, who for some reason had stopped fighting. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Do you think they can develop a cure faster if you start rioting?” He glanced behind the guards. “They have sick people here, for crying out loud! If you are down with a heavy fever, asking yourselves whether you’ll see the light of day again, would you want a noisy violent mob at your bedside? That aside, do you think you’ll stay healthy much longer if you go to where the sick people are?”

Not waiting for anyone to reply Dean turned to the guards. “Disarm these people and throw them into the brig!” Voices grew loud that they needed a weapon in case they needed to defend themselves, but still they surrendered their weapons, after the Admiral told them what they needed was a lawyer, not a gun, to defend them, and that medical attention in the brig was excellent.

Securing his gun in his pocket Dean left the scene, in his stomach he felt a load of anger he couldn’t possibly hope to overcome.

The vibrating glasses in his pocket didn’t help him, especially after he saw it was his wife Moira.

In critical situations she tended to be really easy to panic. “What is it hun?”

He pause in between paces. “Diana’s sick?” He felt his blood rush faster, a cold sweat formed all over his body. Every fiber of his being tensed up.

“I’ll be there asap.” He grabbed Francesco by the elbow, a glance into Dean’s eyes told the doctor everything he needed to know. “Of course.” He smiled calmly.


Clearly struck by the concern on the doctor’s face Dean felt the urge to punch a wall. “How long has she been like this?”

“She came down with the fever two days ago, and”

“Two days? And you’re phoning me today? My work and stress still allow me to be a man, and father!” Moira replied with a gaze that could freeze the raging fires of a star. Dean didn’t even get to ask why she hadn’t contacted the doctors.

Meanwhile Francesco administered a shot of the fever dampener, and continued his scan. “The implant has already multiplied, I’m reading four of them.” Still his expression grew darker. Amongst his dark prognosis for Diana O’Neill, he was also astonished how quickly the implants made a copy of themselves.

“I gave her a cocktail of fever dampening drugs, vitamins, antiviral agents and hope.” He tried smiling convincingly, failed miserably at that. “That bad?” Moira clutched her hands in front of her face, glad that she had left her other daughter with her sister. Francesco bowed his head.

Dean shoved him aside, went to the bed of his daughter. Gently he caressed her head. “Daddy’s here my little angel.” He kissed her forehead, tears welded up in his eyes. “I will always be here when you need me.” He hated himself for not having been home those last two days. When that crisis was over he would resign, spend more time with his family. “Frank?”


“Get to work.”


Unable to walk at a normal pace to the infirmary, Francesco found himself running as fast as his legs would carry him. He almost ran over a bunch of people in front of the infirmary. Quickly regaining his posture he hurried inside. “Please tell me you are done!” He pleaded as he almost hit the door which was sliding away too slowly for his liking. “Thanks to the sequencer, I have the complete viral strain in the system, and I’m ready to beta test it. What’s the hurry?”

Catching his breath Francesco told him of Diana.

Only moments later Francesco was running again, to his disliking he had to inject Diana with a new implant, as the old implants wouldn’t accept the new programming once they were corrupt.

Again, he found the door was opening too slow as he stormed in Dean’s quarters. Moira sat at the door to the kids room, Dean at the side of the bed.

Both were crying. An almost tangible sense of sadness filled the rooms, overwhelming Francesco. Dean wasn’t facing his daughter anymore. He still held her hand but he was crying silently, facing the door. “She stopped breathing. I tried giving her mouth to mouth, but she wouldn’t come back.” Whimpering he told his old friend what had happened in those fifteen to twenty minutes he had been gone.

Now Francesco too felt tears welding up in his eyes. “We better,” he gestured with his hand, the injector in it. “Yeah.” Dean sobbed.

With shaking hands he took the device that Francesco pulled out from his pocket. It deactivated the implants in Diana’s body, so Dan wouldn’t have to see his daughter jolt up, spew mucus, or scratch him with the hand he held.

Silently gliding the device over her, Dean also turned his implant off following a silent nod from Francesco.

The doctor then gave a new implant to the Admiral.

Later Moira would receive one as well. Production would begin by the next day, to provide everyone on Explorer with a new implant.


But Francesco couldn’t feel glad for that.


He had failed rescuing his best friend’s daughter. He knew that Dean felt as if he had failed Diana, as did Moira for not bringing her to the infirmary.

Solace came to him in the fact that others wouldn’t have to go through that experience. That Dean’s other daughter, Anna, was safe, and safer after she had received an updated implant.


Contrary to what Dean had intended, he remained Admiral, as the outskirts of the target solar system were reached. Not two years down the road, the Admiral would become more or less obsolete. Dean hungered to settle down, near a lake, or river, and teach Anna, all about fishing.


Rings of Fate S3xE2 – Explorer – Virus (pt.3)

“I’m a doctor, not a programmer!” Francesco threw the tablet on the table. He was tired, hadn’t slept at all since the outbreak. “How the hell am I supposed to fight this thing?”

“Perhaps you should become a programmer?” Trying to lift the spirits with his jokes Dean leaned back, to avoid being hit with something, as his old friend tended to become quite passionate and physical when stressed or enraged.

“Not funny, Dean.” Francesco pointed at a display in the wall.

Displayed was the que outside the gamma hospital. It was going halfway through the the ring. Francesco put in another feed.

“This was the third victim of last night.” A man in the que broke down, hastily people ran away from him, once he jolted upwards, spewing a spray of mucus out. A few times he twitched, until one man ran towards him.

Forbidden by regulations the man drew his gun, switched the laser on and fired at the dead man’s head, severing it in two, then again disconnecting the limbs.

Horrified Dean fell silent. “Get me a programmer, before they start shooting at anyone with a running nose or so much as a headache!”


After the incident at the gamma ring hospital Dean had all communication lines with gamma restricted. Surely plenty of people had filmed the incident, and surely more than enough of them tried to get that video out of gamma.

It had been too late, as Dean discovered. The same footage that Francesco had shown him soon was all over the news, and soon people all over Explorer were spooked and close to panic. As a precaution he ordered the retrieval of all guns, the laser units were disabled and handed back out.

A curfew was posted, for all civilians, and non essential personnel.

“It is our duty to uphold the functionality of this ship.” Dean stood in front of his nav officer Oleksander Filipow. “Your misconduct, your cowardice, can not be tolerated. However,” he smiled, “I can not blame you. You did come forward and showed up today. Therefore your punishment will be for a tribunal to decide, once this situation is over, in the mean time you will be demoted a rank. Report to your post.”

Saluting the man turned on his heel and hurried off. “Harsh.” Lucy commented, low enough for only him to hear.

“Yeah. I think that demotion will be enough. Unless he does something else stupid.” Waving her to follow Dean marched off the command centre, after a few turns they reached the barracks.

Suited in full body armor and combat helmets was a small portion of the security force. After the first encounter with the Harpies on Horizon the fighting forces on all the ships was increased. Even after the two species had reached a peaceful solution, there were still the patriarchists.

“Alright, you know why you have been assembled. Riot control. You have to ensure that nothing on board this ship happens, that shouldn’t be happening!” A few eyebrows were raised, was the Admiral trying to be funny again?

“See that the curfew is obeyed, people can, and will, go to the infirmary, but other than that, well, you know.” His words were also transmitted to other security teams all over the ship, restrictions in travel inside the ship meant that now the rings were isolated from on another, except in true emergencies.


With a salute he dismissed them and turned with Lucy to head back to the command centre, when a nerdy looking man in his late forties, flanked by two strapping guards approached him. “Franz Hardwick reporting as ordered.” He was obviously a civilian, but at least he knew how to stand in front of the Admiral, surely his mother had something to do with that. “You’re going to head to the infirmary.”

“I’m healthy. And not a medical doctor.” He quickly reacted, seeming almost panicking. “I know. But your expertise is needed there, you see the virus interacts with the programming of the implant, and that’s where you come in.” Dean had his arm on Franz’ back, patting him kindly, like he would a friend. “You can be a hero!” He added, clearly striking a cord with the man. From Franziska and Franz’ documents he knew that he was single, and a loner. A walking cliché almost.

“A hero? Me?”

“Yes, now get to it.” Dean shoved him in the direction of the infirmary.

As the man, still flanked by the guards, walked off, Dean mused for a short moment why he knew so many people whose first name began with an F, but dismissed it.

“We have a problem, Sir. The Virus seems to have jumped rings, the quarantine was too late.” Rotating around to face Lucy, Dean moaned. “Where?”

The face that she made, made him cringe. “It’s everywhere, isn’t it?”

“Except subgamma. I took the liberty of locking it down. Nothing can reach subgamma physically now.”

Devastated by the ill news Dean rubbed his face. “I need to make a statement. What do the governors say?”

“Nothing really, they’re turning to us for information.”

Typical! Stern faced Dean marched on to the command centre. About everything these pin headed mouth breathers fight me, and now they want information and help!


Lit only by a display the room was drenched in cold blueish light, Francesco leaned in his seat. Over the couree of the day he had left the confines of his office to help treat people who either felt sick, or truly were sick.

Then he talked with doctors from various rings, they managed to help develop a vaccine, but until it was ready for use there was a long way ahead of them.

The programmer, Franz, had made little progress. Apparently the implants analysed the virus, deemed it as a normal strain, released normal antibodies, and then went haywire. Franz hadn’t gotten behind that part yet. He assumed it was the a software glitch, that made the implant reproduce, and later try to resuscitate a brain dead individual by jolting the nervous system.

One suggestion of his was to deactivate the reproductive algorithms in the implants, which would mean that children would need to be implanted at birth. Somehow Francesco wasn’t too fond of that idea, but he wouldn’t dismiss it right away.

About twenty minutes before he had sat down to draft his report of the day, he had received a shocking video call from his colleague on alpha ring.

There had been this twleve year old girl with severe epilepsy in his clinic. When she had a spastic attack, some other patients thought she was jolting.

They had beat her to death.

Still the page for his daily report was empty.

Glad that there was no footage of the actual incident, he still couldn’t get the mental image out of his head.

A snoring woke him from thought. On the other desk was Franz, haunched over the table, fast asleep.

Perhaps they should tackle the algorithms for resuscitation in case of brain death or heart failure?

Again Franz snored, but sat up one heartbeat later. “I’ve got it! We need the make up of the new strain, and feed it into a new subroutine. That should keep new infections from happening!”

“And the already infected?”

“Uhm.” Snipoing his fingers he paused, rubbed his eyes, looked from the ghostly image of Francesco back to his screen. “A temporary fix would be deactivating the algorithms for reproduction, and resuscitation. But that won’t heal them.”

Francesco yawned, sat up straight and stretched. “Your idea might work, actually. Fever dampeners, and the update might give the implant the time it needs to fend off the virus. Combined with the deactivated algorithms, this might work.”

Rings of Fate S3xE2 – Explorer – Virus (pt.2)


It was an eerie feeling wandering the hallway from the command centre, but Dean needed to see Francesco, it had been an hour since they last saw each other, and already events had developed beyond their last conversation.

Normally on a Thursday night at that time the hallways were a buzz with people, but since the announcement, it had quieted down.

Outside the infirmary however he found a que of people. Most were wearing makeshift face masks. They all seemed either terrified or aggravated.

“Are any of you truly sick?” Dean stopped at the que prompting them to turn around and immediately after recognising him assume composure. “If you haven’t been to gamma, haven’t been in contact with anone who was on gamma in the last two days, get the hell outta here! This is no time for hypochondriacs!” Half of the que saluted and shuffled off at various speeds. It had been the aggravated crowd mostly that was just standing there hoping to get a clean bill of health.

Once inside the infirmary the que continued, again Dean told them to leave if they had no real reason for concern, and eased the nurses and doctors work.

“Frank, these people are nuts.” Dean entered his friends office, finding Francesco going through some data.

“Rightly so. The implant isn’t working against that virus. On the contrary.” Looking over his shoulder to the door Dean wished he had stayed in the command centre. “Don’t tell me the implant is getting infected too.”

“Sort of. At least in this one incident it was. I don’t know what had happened exactly, but the implant completely ignored the virus, and later tried to bring the brain dead body back to life by jolting the nervous system.”

“Why did he bite Doctor Khan?” Francesco shrugged shoulders. Both had seen the footage recorded.

The corpse jolted from the table and bit clearly in the hand of Dr. Khan with which he held the scanner over the body. Afterwards he fell back on the table.

“Accidental reflexes?”

“In any case,” Dean again looked over his shoulder at the door. “If anybody else dies of this, we should remove the implant. Can’t have infectious zombies running around on this ship.”

Francesco laughed at his friend’s words. “They’re not running. Jolting maybe, but not running.”

Dean smirked, “Don’t want any Jolters either.”


From Deans quarters, which he shared with his wife and two daughters, none of which had left the rooms since the announcement, it was just a short walk to the command centre. On that short walk Dean had encountered not a single person.

Where normally dozens of people walked by, exercised, brought or retrieved reports, there was not a single soul to be found.

Training grounds in the gardens, deserted. Recreational facilities, including Dean’s favored bowling place, abandoned.

“What the?” He looked around the empty command centre. Only Lucy was at her post, the others, all but missing. “They routed access to their stations to their quarters, all stations at ready, sir.”

“This is ridiculous!” He punched a few buttons on his console after walkimg over to it. “Listen here you hypochondriacs! Everyone not showing up for duty in fifteen minutes faces court martial! Now, you don’t have to fear execution like in the old days, but permanent house arrest. That includes landing on 296! None of you will set foot on that planet, if you won’t have the guts to set foot on your posts! Got that?” He turned to Lucy.

“At least you are here!”

“Bob is having a cold, sir. I kinda thought I’m safer here.” She winked, indicating a joke.

Waving her off he asked for a Sit rep from gamma. “Three people have died from meningitis last night, and they all showed signs of activity after their demise.”

Lounging in his chair, his head resting on his left, Dean listened carefully, concerned, but still somewhat disengaged he raised his eyebrows. “Didn’t I recommend them to remove the implants after death?”

“That’s the thing, sir. They did. Although sick himself Doctor Khan continued his work, and found that the implants have taken on a concerning attribute of the virus.” She handed him the tablet. Dr. Khan had taken fever dampening medication, since the implant wasn’t working properly.

“They are making copies?”

“Just like they would if a woman gets pregnant, they form one implant in the fetus, only here they form in various locations in the body. In patient zero they were right next to each other, in another there were five, in another there was one in the leg. All faulty concerning the virus, but otherwise working copies of the original, oddly enough they copied the unique ID number, something that normally shouldn’t happen.”

Looking at the data himself Dean found himself searching for his implant, on the back of his right hand.

Slowly he became suspicious. Was that meningitis a late revenge from the linkers? Something they hid in the ship, or that they slipped in during the brief indirect contact after their base on ES-p296-1 was discovered?

“Do me a favor, see how Nye Charles is doing, and check on her family as well, and former Admiral Franziska Hardwick.” As he finished his sentence the door opened letting in Jesus Montoya, his com officer, and the elderly frame of Admiral Franziska Hardwick also appeared in the door. “She looks fine, sir.” Lucy’s statement was accompanied by a wide smile.

“Admiral. What brings you here?” ignoring his first officer Dean greeted his predecessor. “I thought you might need a hand up here.” The old woman grinned playfully, she had missed the command centre every day since her retirement.

Inviting her in with just a gesture Dean had no objections. “Sir, your requested checks show that all are in perfect health.”

Gaining also Franziska’s attention Lucy lowered her head again. Quickly Dean explained his concerns, which Franziska completely understood, but could’ve dismissed right away, as she too had heard of the odd behaviour of the virus, and checked on Nye first hand.

“Still it might be the linkers, they could’ve hid the virus on gamma before they left.” Dean had left the former Admiral to sit in his chair, as he manned navigation. Apparently the officer who normally had that post didn’t value setting foot on RV-p296. “That’s right ma’am.” He felt taken back a few years when he was first working navigation, then under the former Admiral. There was one Admiral in between the two, she had retired and he was promoted. Sadly Admiral Sheila Dunston didn’t seem like she was working in her retirement, as she was not seen nor heard of much since her retirement.

“It might also be a natural mutation. Evolution at work right before our eyes.” He said having cut of the remote controlling station at the quarters of the officer. “It might, perhaps, Admiral, you should talk with your chief medical doctor?” Franziska winked, reminding him that he was the Admiral in charge, not her.

Rings of Fate S3xE2 – Explorer – Virus (pt.1)


Doctor Francesco Mitrioni sat at his desk in the infirmay of the subalpha ring on Explorer. He was devastated, and read through the report from his colleague in the gamma ring hospital again.

“What’s up Frank?” Friends since birth, Admiral Dean O’Neill stood in the frame of the  door. He hadn’t heard it opening. “Is it Thursday again?” Francesco looked up, only realising then how dark his office was, compared to the hallway outside.

“Yup. 1930, as usual.” As the door slid close behind Dean, Francesco could finally see his face, read the concern in his expression. “You seem like you saw a ghost, so what’s going on?”

Again turning towards the screen Francesco shook his head. “The first death of a man from meningitis. Normally the implant should detect, and counteract the virus that caused it. In this case, it didn’t, although it was working. Dr. Khan is on the case, but he sent me his records.”

“Does this mean we’re not going bowling?” There was no real bowling alley, onky virtual bowling, but still someone had thought it would be nice to live the spirit of old, and had built a whole bowling rink for virtual bowling in a disused storage compartment.

Complete with seats and all, with several bowling lanes.

“I’m probably reading to much into this, the man’s implant surely was faulty.” Francesco winked, turning off the screen. “Let’s go bowling.”


There was absolute silence in the morgue. The lights worked with out a flicker, nurses and other staff had turned in for the night, the nightshift staff were tending to the needs of the living. If someone should happen to die, they’d bring the body in, and store it.

Doctor Rajesh Khan was grateful for the silence. It let him think as he examined the body of the meningitis victim.

In three generations of using the implant to combat viruses and other infections, along with birth control and health status, they still hadn’t eradicated the virus that caused this. Standing over the body that was lying on the autopsy table, he mused over that fact for a moment, shrugged it off and began. “Autopsy report on patient Alexander Xaver Fritzens.” He ran the scanner over the torso. “Internal organs show no abnormalies, except the to be expected signs of stress from running a high fever. Coagulation of blood is normal for the time, bodily fluids show no signs of abnormality either. Moving on to the head.”

A beeping noise made him stop. “This is odd. The implant is still active.”

Recording on his glasses not only his words but also a video of his findings, directly streamed to his workstation, he commented on all he did or found.

The brain looked as to be expected in such a case, at least on the scan. Although he had worked on dead bodies during his education, opened them, held organs in his hands,  he was genuinely glad that he had a scanner at his disposal.

An autopsy was not something he enjoyed. Putting the scanner back where it belonged he wandered over to a desk, sat down. Already there was a transcript on the screen. All that needed to be done was editing.

“Alright, let’s do this before I call it a day.” He mumbled to himself.

A soft thud behind him startled the doctor. As he looked around the well lit room, there was nothing out of the ordinary.

With a racing heart he went to his deceased patient, ran the scanner over him again, still found nothing out of the ordinary, other than the still active implant.

Hoping that no one was pranking him he returned to the desk.

After he had corrected a few words, there again was that thud. Unable to suppress a terrified shriek Doctor Khan shot to his legs again, looking around the room.

He saw something that terrified him even more than the thud. Alexander Xaver Fritzens’ arm moved, or at least twitched.

It bolted up, fell back on the table, creating the thud that he had heard before. “Resuming recording of autopsy in the meningitis victim. I had just witnessed the subjects arm jolt upwards and fall to the table. Three times this had happened so far, I suspect neuro-electric discharges in the brainstem.” Again the arm jolted upwards, but the other one followed, both arms stayed up.

Breathing rapidly Rajesh stared at the body, glad to be recording, otherwise he would be called delusional. Thudding the arms slammed against the table. “I,” he stammered, reaching for the scanner, not daring to look away from the body so his recording wouldn’t miss a thing. He couldn’t reach it, so he turned to look.


“Your turn Frank.” Dean sat down on the bench, drinking a sip of water. Francesco just got up when his glasses started beeping and vibrating.

“I thought we had the evening to ourselves?” Dean picked them up and held them in Francesco’s direction. “Dr. Khan?” The doctor raised his eyebrows, accepted the call.

“Calm down! What happened?” Dean watched and listened with the interest of someone whose game just got interrupted. “He bit you? What do you me…” Now the interest in the Admiral got earnest.

“The body, got off the table, and bit you? Yes, please send the recording to me asap. Get the implant to identify any pathogens right away.”

As his friend put down the remote to bowl, Dean got up too. Not saying a word the two men left, gesturing the man who ran the place to cancel their game.

After the call ended Francesco watched the footage that he had received. Wordless he handed the glasses to Dean, who also watched.

For a few minutes they stood outside the infirmary. “So, quarantine?”

“Not yet.” Francesco replied with a concerned face, walking inside. “Just see what you can do.” Replied Dean turning to head for the command centre.

Although a quarantine would not be orderd as of that moment, he still felt he would be needed there.


“Lucy! What joy to find you still here.” Heading for her station in the command centre Dean smiled genuinely glad. “There is a situation developing on gamma, do me favor and see that you know everything about a possible quarantine. Restrict travel from and to gamma already, we can’t be too careful.” He kept his voice low as to not unease any of the other officers, some of which had friends and family on gamma.

Wide eyed she stared at him. “What kind of situation?” She gathered her composure, her family had lived on gamma, but her sister moved to beta and her parents to alpha, still it bothered her somewhere deep inside.

“A man who had died from meningitis and was clearly dead, rose from the dead and attacked the doctor. Now, we both have seen plenty of the old movies and TV shows, see that we can quarantine gamma at the push of a button, or two.” He mumbled, still in a hushed voice.

Quietly complying with the orders given, Lucy still felt uneasy with the situation.

Menacing beeps rose from the com console, the nightshift com officer turned to the Admiral. “It is a priority call sir, for your eyes only.”

Surprised Dean rushd to the small ready room and answered the call there. Over the years the purpose of that room had been changed several times. From a small meeting room, to a bunk room, to storage, to a meeting room again, then it was left empty, repurposed as a bunk room. Ideas had been tossed around to grow some food in there, but in the end, it was left empty again until Dean made it into a recreational area. During breaks staff from the command centre could relax, listen to music and play games.

He was well aware that some used it to play with one another and no game involved, but as long as they didn’t make a mess of it, he didn’t bother.

“Doctor Khan, I presume?” Dean looked a distressed man with dark skin and sweat beads on his forehead. “Yes, Admiral. I have dire news. It seems that I have contracted the disease. It is yet uncertain whether it was the attack, or during the treatment of the patient. I recommend you implement a quarantine regardless, I have transferred all my findings to Doctor Mitrioni, somehow the implant is not fending this one off. Several more cases have appeared.”

“Get well Doctor, we will do our part to contain this.” Dean jumped from his seat, rushed next door and gave Lucy a nod.

Only a few seconds later the alarm sirens all aboard the Explorer started ringing. “All hands, attention. Gamma ring has been quarantined, all personnel recently having been on gamma, please report to your quarters, or the nearest infirmary. I repeat, gamma ring has been quarantined.”

Rings of Fate S3xE1 – Explorer – Colony (pt.4)


As expected, Admiral O’Neill wanted a more detailed analysis of the emitter, and the space elevator.
He was still impressed by the eloquent presentation from Nye and Franziska. The two women told him everything he needed and wanted to know. “So what are we dealing with here? Linkers? Harpies? Something we yet have to meet? I’d like to know something about our neighbours since we’re about to move in there.” His attempt at humour was answered with not a single chuckle.
“Yet unknown, Ericsson needs to make one pass around ES-p296, to slow down and make a low fly over of dash 1.” Nye leaned on the table.
Some small voice in her head mused that many decades ago this might have looked sexy, if she wore something low cut. With some effort she chased that thought away. “Then we might get to catch a glimpse at who, or what, is down there.”
I bet it is Jason’s people. Another tiny voice went off. Although she had managed to tolerate it when others referred to the DEHumans as linkers or their self chosen name, she always called them Jason’s people.
“Alright. I hope you realise that soon we will be close enough to wave at them from our windows as we gracefully fly by.” He made theatrical waving motion.
Again, no one in the room so much as chuckled. Kind of disappointed, Dean sighed. “Dismissed.”
“Lucy, is everyone here cursed with a lack of humour?” He turned to his first offiver after all others had left. “No sir, may I speak freely?”
“Of course. We’re pals, aren’t we?”
“You’re not funny, sir, pal.” Correcting herself she winked leaving him alone in the briefing room.

Silently Ericsson passed over the moon, adjusting its course so it won’t collide with the elevator, entering an orbit. Both its AI and the humans that received its telemetry knew that it would be spotted right away. Probably had been spotted during its initial approach.
Cameras and detectors of all sorts were pointed at the surface during the first pass, during the second pass, detailed information about the elevator was gathered.
Equally silent the data was compressed, encrypted and sent to Explorer.

Marvelled by the magnificent engineering feat of the elevator Jeannine and Nye sat over images and telemetry, Franziska seemed more concerned.
“That is some serious stuff.” She stared at the ships under construction in orbit. “They’re building a thrid one. Three bays for ship construction, and I assume those pillars are for docking.” Her entire body tensed up, there was a knot in her belly.
Enhanced images from the surface revealed nothing. Wildlife, and plants, as well as disturbed soil, but no people, or aliens.
“Gran?” Jeannine sprang to her feet. Her face was pale allmof a sudden. Alarmed Franziska turned to look at Nye, who seemed to be fine. “There is an atypical file in this data burst.” Jeannine’s hand shook, almost vibrated. “It’s marked ‘Dr. Charles’.”
With shaky hands she handed Nye the tablet, who also felt tense and shaky.
Going deep into herself, Nye sat with closed eyes over the tablet, she took a deep breath. As she opened her eyes again she accessed the file.
The face of a darkskinned woman appeared. She had corkscrew curled black hair, and piercing green eyes. Behind her a man stepped into view. Although aged considerably Nye recognised him immediately.
“Jason!” A burst of tears came with that agonised squeal, a shaking hand rose to her mouth. “Hello, Grandmother.” The young woman spoke as if she just had learned a foreign language, which Nye assumed was somewhat the case, as they would have no need to speak at all in their collective mind. “I believe you are wondering what it is that we have built on this moon.” She over pronounced every word, to ensure she spoke them correctly. “The emitter pointed at the planet, is designed to gather resources from its atmosphere. We advise you to keep the probe out of the direct line, or else it will get damaged, if not destroyed.” She blinked for a moment.
“Our memory tells us you will want to inquire about the well being of your offspring. Jas,” she paused, blinking, “father is well. As is this,” again she paused to blink, “As am I.” The message ended.
Frantically jerking around with the tablet, Nye opened it again.
In silence Franziska got up and led Jeannine out of the room. “She needs to be alone now.”
Reassuring both looked back to Nye who sat haunched over the display, sobbing. We wouldn’t be able to comfort her. She wants them to do it. With a sigh Franziska closed the door.

Admiral O’Neill seemed to be concerned as Franziska and Jeannine made their report, but at the same time his posture was a relaxed one. “So they’re not going to light up the planet?”
“No sir. They’re going to mine it.” Letting out an aching sigh as he got up. “Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from the linkers? I mean, have any of you ever had thought of mining a gas giant?” This time Lucy had to smirk at his remark.
“Do you intend to start negotiations with them?” Franziska sat down, she had remained on her feet during the entire report, much to her astonishment Nye had been right about the frequent walks. She was fitter now.
“I will extend friendly greetings, if something comes up, yes. If not, I won’t bother them, they had made it clear they don’t want any involvement with us.” At the door he paused. “How’s Doctor Charles holding up?”
“She’ll manage. I think.” Jeannine replied, wishing herself to be with her grandmother, who was staying with Gloria and the kids.
“Fine. Let’s just hope the last years of our journey remain trouble free.”

Rings of Fate S3xE1 – Explorer – Colony (pt.3)


“I bet it is the DEHumans.” Jeannine sat down on the table on which the screen was mounted. “Admiral,” Nye turned slowly, “would you be so kind to open sensor logs of the last incident we had with them and their engines?”
“Certainly.” After a few moments the data that Nye had requested showed up on the screen. “Now my dear, open up the data you have gathered with the Ericsson probe, and do a comparison. Although every engine is unique, and they surely have an armada of ships with that sort of drive by now, it should give us enough hints to speculate with.” As another reference point in the comparison, Franziska drew up data collected from encounters with Harpy ships.
“Well,” the former Admiral croaked with a dry throat, “we can rule out the Harpies.” Data comparison between the emissions of the unidentified ship and the emissions of Harpy ships on record showed major differences. “It might be the DEHumans. Or an unknown party.” Jeannine sighed, sorrowful she caressed her belly.
If the linkers got a foothold in the destination solar system, it stood to reason that they might invade RV-p296. Something deep inside her hoped for a new alien race.
The thought of the linkers made her skin crawl.

“Lucy?” Admiral O’Neill held a tablet in his hands. “I did not know that the former Admiral Hardwick still was involved in antimatter research?” Although not restricted information, access to the data of antimatter engines was logged automatically.
The first officer slowly shuffled towards her Admiral. “It is either a coincidence, or far more likely, someone in the probe control department has informed her too.” Neither said anything specific as the command centre crew had no knowledge of the incident at ES-p296-1 either. “Shall I confront her, Sir?”
“No.” A playful smile on his lips the Admiral stretched his arms. “We should trust my predecessor, she won’t leak anything to the public, and her expertise is most valuable.” He recalled seeing Franziska oft times with Doctor Nye Charles, a retired scientist from probe control. Immediately the connection became obvious to him. “Together with Nye Charles’ brilliant mind they’ll figure it all out. If they have sufficient data.”
He stood up and walked a few paces to the exit. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a pond and my fishing rod.”
Lucy had to snicker. There were no fish in the ponds aboard. The fish were only in controlled hydroponic tanks where vegetables were grown.
One time he had told her that fishing wasn’t about the fish. It was about the act of fishing, it had a meditative quality to it.
His grandfather had taught him how to fish, who in turn had learned it from his father back on earth. “Have fun sir.” She smiled taking his seat.
After he had left Tomasz Bereny approached her, asking what the whole deal was about, still smiling she told him to go back to his post, or else she’d ignore their friendship and note his behaviour in the log.

Usage of the Orion-drive inside the solar system was forbidden, so the Ericsson probe had to gradually pick up speed using conventional propulsion methods. Slingshoting around RV-p296 and its two lunar objects, it took a few weeks to reach a noteworthy speed in order to reach the moon in question. After the maneuvers were completed, another powerful burst from its engines propelled it through the solar system.
As it neared its final destination Jeannine sat at home, a baby in her arms, as did her wife Gloria.
During the months of the probe travelling the former Admiral, contacted the current one. He informed his predecessor that he already suspected her involvement, and was sort of glad over it, granting her full access, with the usual confidentiality clauses.
“This is an unofficial meeting, as usual.” Jeannine greeted Franziska and her grandmother, first images of Ericsson were trickling in.
Sieglinde hung in a sling in front of her, fast asleep.
“Are those,” Franziska stared at the image before her. “Shipyards?” Shrugging her shoulders Jeannine too looked at the image.
“That my dear Admiral, is a space elevator. Or at least, the geostationary end of it.” Nye enhanced the image, revealing a tether from the object above the moon down to the surface. “Presumably constructed of material called carbon nanotubes. It might serve as a shipyard, or a harbour.” Calmly explaining Nye switched to the next image. It showed the assumed elevator end in greater detail.
Further solidifying the suspicion of a shipyard, as two partial ships seemed to be tethered to the station. “This might pose a problem. They might be preparing to invade RV-p296.”
Nye shook her head, her long white hair shaking as she did. “If they wanted, they would’ve landed right away. Whoever this is. I assume they know of the native population, and don’t wish to interfere.” Or to be bothered by them.
Ever drawing closer to the moon Ericssons pictures showed the station, in growing detail. Until the on board AI decided to aim its cameras and sensors at the surface.
At the base of the space elevator was a large structure.
Around it a sophisticated transport network that seemed to vanish underground. “Reasonable.” Nye thought aloud. “Minerals would be mined, from underground.” She concluded her thoughts.
Most of what was visible on the ground had a dark red hue, which again made sense to Nye and Jeannine, sunlight out there was a lot weaker and any plant, or plant like organism would need to make the best of it, and so a red chlorophyll would have evolved as the best solution, most lifeforms on that moon would require other sources for energy than sunlight.
“There, what’s that?” Jeannine enhanced an image of a structure on the far side of the moon. Puzzled the two elderly women stared at the structure. It was twice as big as the base for the space elevator. Something glowed in the center of it.
“What ever it is, it is huge.” Nye mused, looking at the data the sensors had gathered from the structure.
“Energy emissions are off the charts.” An enhanced image of the structure came up next. From up close it looked sinister, as if it was a a planet destroying raygun. Again Nye checked the emissions.
“This is a problem.” She sighed after viewing that data. “They are going to use this on the gasgiant, I’m not sure to what end, but I fear it’ll be a problem.”
“Why?” Franziska followed her example and reviewed the readings. “There are graviton emissions coming from hat thing. We can detect that because the Ark1 and the Kismet were originally designed to utilise Gravitons in their propulsion.” Seeing that the Admiral wasn’t following her Nye paused. “In layman’s terms, a photon is a particle that makes up light. A Graviton makes up gravity. The Ark class ships were designed to ride on a wave of Gravitons and basically fall towards their destination.” Seemingly the Admiral understood. “I still don’t understand what these Gravitons will do to that Gasgiant.”
“ES-p296-1 is in tidal lock with its parent planet, the same side always faces the planet, this way the emitter can always project the Gravitons at ES-p296. I don’t know what exactly the outcome should be, but this will either strip the planet of what ever resource they want to harvest, or it will be used to collaps the gasgiant, and subsequently, ignite it.”
“Like a sun?” Jeannine lowered her tablet, pondered while staring at a non specific point in the room. “It wouldn’t be like a sun, more like a dim shine. But it’d give up heat.” She concluded.
Although she had reservations, if those who had built the graviton emitter on the moon pumped enough energy into it, they might achieve more than she thought possible.

Rings of Fate S3xE1 – Explorer – Colony (pt.2)


“We are pregnant.” Gloria blurted out a few moments after Nye had arrived. As probably intended the gathered family members were confused. Not as to how, but which one of them was. “Both of us.” Jeannine tweeted as happily as possible.
Franziska snickered, watching the still confused family. The two had applied as a married couple, had both their implants deactivated by default and then went to have procedures taken. “A loophole in regulations.” She cleared up the apparent confusion, followed by the details.

After several, seemingly age long, hours Nye sat down on a cushioned seat in the quarters now occupied by Franziska and her husband, who was out with a friend. It felt good to sit again. “So, what else is new on 296?” Franziska put a cup of water down on the table for Nye and one for herself. “Species on that planet seem to be predominantly trisexual. We have had observations of the natives that supported that notion, but only recently have we had the chance to examine their DNA. Like most of the indigenous life there, they have three genders.” It had already been established that most species on 296 were trisexual, it came as a surprise to Franziska that the sentient natives were too. “Imagine that! Finding two partners to have children. You wouldn’t need to live with one other person, but two. Not two have to be in the mood, but all three of them. If one doesn’t feel like it, the whole thing’s off!”
Nye had to snicker at that remark. She very well knew the struggle.
Mostly it had been her who wasn’t in the mood, but still. “I believe that two of them can do it, but without any offspring resulting from that union. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn one day, that they have religious scripture forbidding a union of two as sin, much like masturbation, homosexuality and sex for anything but procreation were doomed evil by many religions in our past.” The water was infused with a hint of lemon, perhaps even fresh lemon juice. Nye sloshed the cool liquid around her mouth, savoring the delicious taste.
“Equatoria is remarkably void of any inhabitants, save for wildlife. Ericsson drones have found evidence of previous settlements on the north shore, but they were soon abandoned, probably due to the geologic instability of the region. They set sails again and went home.” Neither could understand. After a lifetime on the Explorer they would settle even on the quake ridden north shore of Equatoria. Franziska had been born on the ship, and Nye was one of the very few who had boarded the ship back on earth. She had finished her doctorate degree within the solar system, found love just barely outside it.
Some nights the fiery streaks on the night sky still haunted her dreams, although she found solace in what once was a nightmare.
In there she saw her father again, in that dream she was young again.

Weeks passed, turned to months.
Nye found herself taking a liking to the new quarters.
Crammed, small, functional.
A dream for someone who once worked in probe control, who liked having a multitude of things handy when you need them, in as little space as possible. Slowly but surely Jeannine’s and Gloria’s pregnancies began to show. Results from their implants showed that they expected a boy and a girl, just as planned, and that the fetuses were healthy.
Which was always good to hear.
Ever since their announcement Nye and Franziska met every fortnight to walk the gardens together. Ignoring the panting sounds from Franziska, Nye sat down on the bench next to her.
It seemed that these benches popped up everywhere in the ship’s gardens. The older woman figured it was due to the increasing numbers of senior inhabitants of the Explorer. The former Admiral rested her hands on her cane in front of her, catching her breath. “You’re in better shape than I am.” She admitted, with a tone of defeat in her voice. “If we were to do this weekly, you’d be in better shape too.”
Franziska was about to reply as she noticed that Nye began fumbling around her pockets, she pulled out a pair of glasses, put them on her head with a sorry expression. “What is it my dear?” Immediately Franziska knew that she was talking with Jeannine, even though she couldn’t hear a thing the young woman said.
“Is something wrong with the baby, you sound agitated!” Nye raised her voice.
After a moment or two the expression on Nye’s face grew pale. Worried Franziska motioned to be informed, Nye quickly shook her head, to let her know that the baby was fine. “I’ll be over as fast as I can, I’ll be bringing the former Admiral, she’ll want to hear this as well.”
After she ended the conversation Nye rose to her feet again. “Let’s get moving, nearest tube entrance is fifteen minutes,” she looked the former Admiral up and down, “let’s say twenty minutes away.” A healthy young person might only need ten minutes, Nye mused, but said nothing.
“What is that urgent thing?” Franziska panted as they sat down in the cab. To be sure that they were alone Nye looked around for a moment. “Antimatter radiation has been detected.” She whispered under her breath, put a finger on her lips as if to hush Franziska, who wasn’t going to say anything.
Something in her protested, and wanted official chains of command observed, but that would also mean she’d only get the minimum information from the news casts, not the full story. So her internal protest was silenced fairly quickly.

Upon the arrival of the two old women Jeannine immediately rushed them to a small room adjacent to the probe control room. She told them to remain silent, pointed at a screen and rushed out again.
Later she informed Nye that her eager colleague, Karla’s son, had passed on the information to the Admiral in the meantime.
The screen that Jeannine had pointed out to them, showed a video feed from the control room. Judging by the quality, the camera was a glasses device that Jeannine hastily set up. A mere minute after Jeannine had sat back down at her post, the Admiral entered, his first officer in tow. “What do you have for us?” His raspy voice was soothing to the ears, found Nye, but didn’t let that distract her from the information about to be revealed.

“Ericsson picked something up in the outer region of the solar system. ES-p296, a gas giant with three major moons and a bunch of tiny satellites, was pinpointed as the source. We sent thenprobe to investigate, but this is the first footage we received.” Jeannine put on her glasses and put in a command to show the information on one of the screens in the room.
Both Nye and Franziska felt weird, watching a screen, that displayed a screen displaying data. Magnification of the video footage showed an object appearing near one of the moons, and disappearing in its atmosphere. “ES-p296-1 is a moon that would classify as a planetary body on its own. It has a rich atmosphere, which would be breathable. Although far from the goldilock zone, it is kept warm by the gravitational tides created with ES-p296.” Jeannine paused shortly to elaborate that the moon was being pushed and pulled by the gravitational forces of its parent body and fellow moons, which caused enough friction to keep its interior hot.
Imformation that Nye and Franziska had since the probes originally passed through the system one by one,
“So this thing landed there?” Admiral Dean O’Neill raised his eyebrows, squinting at the screen. “Presumably.”
“It could also have moved off again, but there was no energy emission of such sort.” Karl also spoke with a distinct german accent, which baffled Nye. Schools were taught in English, and although all languages were endorsed, everyone from the younger generations Nye had met so far spoke accent free.
“Then we must assume this thing is still there. What can you tell us of it?”
Unseen to Nye and Franziska, Jeannine shrugged her shoulders. “Your guess is as good as mine. DEHumans, harpies, new aliens? Perhaps Ark2 fired up their antimatter drive and jumped ahead?”
“Unlikely, although they have the technology on the Kismet, they lack the antimatter. Keep this information under wraps for now, and aprise the Admiral and me if something new develops.” The first officer, Lucy Sandstroem, said in a stern tone, not blinking once with her blue eyes.
Recalling her name Nye realised that the names started to only give away the ancestors, but not the person anymore. Ever since the Destiny had started sending the infirmary based telenovela with a certain Dr. Lucy Hansen, and her love interest Dr. Frank Smith, who was later replaced by another actor as the original actor defected as a linker, many girls had been named Lucy.
With a shake of her head Nye pulled away from her thoughts. In age the mind becomes distracted again, she found, but concentrated on the screen again.
Admiral and first officer left, Jeannine excused herself, claiming to need another bathroom break due to the baby lying on her bladder, Karl just waved her off.