Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Signature of the Stars

Thanks to its additional 39t of aluminium carapace the Canberra Song would now literally 'sing' when they attempted to scoop fuel. The turbulence around the oddly shaped upper hull and fuel collectors caused a harmonic buzz that would start off merely irritating but rise to a loud, teeth jarring low pitched hum if they flew too quickly. This unbearable maelstrom of sound and vibration was nearly at the point the fuel collectors kicked in. Not only was it highly unpleasant, it was taking it's toll on the little ship's systems.

"That's the last of it, she's full."

Jared pushed firm on the flight stick and opened up the throttle. The little Hauler streaked away from the massive red star into cooler space further from it's surface.

"We have got to get some real sleep Jared. Let's park her in the shade!"

Jared wasn't going to argue. This was the first star that hadn't threatened to roast them after more than a few seconds scooping. The discovery scanner also showed a handful of rocky planets in the system too.

"All right. You drive kid. And stay away from anything impressive. I don't fancy you glueing any more crap on to my ship."

Jared pushed out from the pilots chair and propelled himself towards the rear of the flight deck and down into the ships tiny living area. 

Jared batted aside Taz's coffee stained sleeping bag hanging from the top of the compartment like the cocoon from some giant coffee fiend moth, clipped his mag boots onto the floor and pulled himself into the small diner space.

Taz's tired voice issued quietly from Jared's suit radio. "Ok, were entering orbit of the second planet, dropping out now."

Jared held on tight to the table as the ship shuddered and wheeled unevenly back into normal space. 

The buzzing, droning and thundering of super cruise stopped. Only now did Jared realise how much sound there had been. He almost felt weak at the sudden relief brought by the abrupt end to the sound barrage.

Taz emerged from the flight deck and propelled himself into the cabin feet first.

"Night, Jared. Maybe this is all a dream and I'll wake up with a hang over in Hoopys Bar or something"

"You ain't in any of my dreams kid. Get some sleep. We've got some hard choices tomorrow."



Jared awoke first. He felt slightly nauseous. This was unusual for him, he usually only felt this way after a bad meal or a worse night on the tiles.

The ship was moving weirdly. Jared opened his eyes to see Taz still asleep vertically in his bag but swaying ever so slightly. He fought for a moment to unwrap himself from the webbing holding him against the sleeping area and pushed himself over to the companionway. As Jared passed up into the flight deck he could see that the ship was slowly rotating clockwise. As he neared the pilot's seat the star appeared in the corner of the canopy window dazzling him for a second.

After a second the star flipped away, obscured beneath the ships nose, but as it did Jared could make out a feint white line of gas trailing out infront of the ship.

"Space! Taz, get up here quick"

Jared pushed himself into the pilot's seat and flicked up the holofac display for the ships's systems.

Taz appeared from below, looking wide eyed and slightly green.

"What?! what is it?"

"We're spinning, I can see a trail. We must be venting gas or fluid or something. Instruments not showing any loss of resources though."

Jared flipped through the info pages and came to the mass indicator again.. 71.2t.

"We've lost 200kg of mass?"

"Yeah.. maybe a chunk of our shell..  Turn the lights on out there."

Jared punched the small toggle to operate the flood lights attached to the ships nose. The trail of vapour was a repeated loopy line. Probably made as the ship rotated.

As the two of them stared out at the whispy handwriting their ship was leaving behind a small rock sped past from behind the ship.

"Did the scanner show any orbital debris? has this got a moon?"

The kid shook his head as Jared engaged the flight assist and stopped the ships rotation.

Taz was about to suggest taking more of a look when another rock sped past from below. And then two more smaller ones.

Jared looked up in time to see the two smaller rocks collide and disintegrate in a cloud of brown dust.

"Uh.. I have a bad feeling about this."