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Author Topic: Stowaway Star Twins  (Read 661 times)

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Offline sparklesTopic starter

Stowaway Star Twins
« on: June 17, 2013, 12:24:12 AM »
The ship hummed through space, moving slowly when compared to the distances involved, but impossibly fast when considered in human-scale terms.  It was bound for a vast space station, an interstellar trading post where dozens of different species from hundreds of different world traded, negotiated, and otherwise mingled. 

Before departing for this destination the ship had taken some cargo on board.  That cargo included one particular crate.  Markings on its surface indicated that it should be stored in a hold containing atmosphere, and not one open to the vacuum of space, but nothing about it set it apart from several other crates similarly marked, all stowed together within the ship.  This crate, however, was very different than its fellows, for it had been converted into a makeshift habitat, supplied with food and water and stuffed with cushions to protect the inhabitants when the crate was tossed about.

Said inhabitants consisted of two teenage human girls, nearly perfectly identical in every way.  They were both quite short, with fair skin and reddish orange hair.  Their freckle-dusted faces were snub-nosed,and their eyes were green.  They were female, but not particularly feminine, being small-breasted and stocky; the build of gymnasts rather than of models.  One wore a pair of pocket-covered coveralls, held at the waist by a belt that was hung with pouches.  The other wore a tank top and shorts, and the only thing on her belt was a tiny laser pistol, the sort meant for shipboard combat that wouldn't penetrate a target deeply and thus wouldn't punch possibly dangerous holes in the ship itself. 

They rested, feeling pleased with themselves for having secured such an excellent hiding place, and spoke silently to each other, for they were telepathic, and could speak without needing words.  But although they were hidden from sight and made no sound, the ship's sensors were more sophisticated than mere sight and sound.  Even as they congratulated each other on their success, a little tell-tale had flipped on somewhere on the ship's bridge, and as soon as the ship's captain was no longer distracted by the fiddly business of getting a ship successfully under way at faster than light speeds he would probably notice the little amber gleam and investigate...

Offline fleacollar999

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 01:03:54 AM »
Altair Dirac did not notice the light at first, preoccupied with necessary conversation between himself the captain, the pilot, and the navigator. He wouldn't have noticed the light at all if it were not for his first officer's alert.

"Captain Dirac, the sensors in cargo hold three are picking up a heat signature."

Altair whipped around to face the control panel; indeed, the heat sensors were actively picking up a signature. "What?" The question was aimed mostly at himself. "How?"

The first officer, called Hendricks, took a closer look at the heat sensors. "The signature seems to be coming from the inside of a crate. Perhaps one of clients is smuggling wildlife."

Altair frowned. "Whatever it is, we're checking it out. Hendricks, Bakh, come with me." The captain and his officers half-walked, half-jogged to the cargo hold. Bakh, Altair's second officer, punched in the security code as Captain Dirac and Hendricks readied their weapons.

The door slid open with a 'whirr' and Hendricks darted in, motioning for the others to follow when he gave the all clear. They systematically opened each crate and resealed them when there was no heat-emitting life form inside.

"Maybe the sensor is faulty?" Bakh suggested when only three crates remained.

Altair's frowned deepened, a line appearing between his brows. "We open them all," he commanded.

Hendricks undid the latch and opened the lid of next crate, giving a small gasp when he looked inside.

Altair ran to the first officer's side and looked into the crate. His lip curled into a sneer, "Stowaways."

Offline sparklesTopic starter

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2013, 01:38:18 AM »
Peering up at the sneering face looking down into the somewhat cramped confines of the crate, one of the twins gave a sheepish smile.  "Uhm.  Hi?"  The other, however, rose to stand slightly in front of her sister and, dropping her hand to rest on the tiny pistol she carried, lifted her head with an air that mixed defiance with determination.  "I'm Laren.  This is Saren.  We're going to the space station."

Offline fleacollar999

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2013, 07:48:10 PM »
The captain raised a brow as Laren casually touched her pistol. "Really, you're going the space station. Now tell me, how did you plan on getting there?" he asked snidely. The condescending tone was something Altair only adopted when dealing with, as he called them, "rule-breakers". The young captain had made it this far by playing safe and by the book, he didn't have much respect for people who believed themselves above reproach.

Altair's frown deepened as he continued, "I am Captain Altair Dirac, this is my ship. Do you understand what you've done wrong? It is not wrong for you to board my starship, nor is it wrong for you to expect it to take you to the space station. It is wrong, however, to do these things without my consent!" He gave a derisive sniff. "Hendricks, Bakh, please escort our guests," he put a nasty emphasis on the word, "to the brig."

Offline sparklesTopic starter

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2013, 10:44:06 PM »
Laren bristled at Captain Altair's lecture, and opened her mouth for a sharp reply, then abruptly stopped.  She glanced behind her at her twin.  Their eyes met and a swift, silent message flew between them.  Laren sudden giggled.  She turned back and raised her hands in a gesture of surrender.  "Very well, Captain.  But unless you plan on wasting fuel by turning this ship around,we will be going to the station.  Going there in your brig will get us there all the same."  Behind her Saren rose as well, also lifting her hands, and they allowed the two crewmen to disarm them and lead them away. 

Offline fleacollar999

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2013, 05:47:15 PM »
Altair followed his crewmen and the stowaways, his face stormy. He unlocked the cell door and allowed Hendricks and Bakh to guide the girls inside. They stepped back and he locked the door, saying, "You will remain here until further notice, or until we can reach the port authorities. The panel controlling light and temperature is on the far wall." He pointed at the panel, in the back left corner.

He looked back to the girls, frowning. "Bakh, guard our guests. Notify myself or Hendricks if they cause any trouble." He glared at Laren and Saren. "I would advise not making any trouble."

Altair turned on his heel and headed back to the control room, scowl still on his face.

Offline sparklesTopic starter

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2013, 07:42:05 PM »
With the door shut, Saren flopped down on the cell's little bed.  Laren stayed standing and started pacing back and forth.  Neither said anything out loud, but a silent argument flowed between them.

{So much for your terrific plan!  What do we do now?} asked Laren.

Saren leaned back in the bed.  {Hey, my plan got us off the planet and away from the Doctor.}  Both twins gave a little shiver at the memory of their creator.  He had not been a compassionate man.  {Anyway, at least we're still headed to the station, like you said.}

{Yeah, and when we get there we'll probably be handed over to somebody and slapped in jail.  I wanted to see the galaxy, not the inside of a cell.  I guess it's just our luck we picked the ship with the galaxy's angriest captain.}

Saren sent a burst of silent laughter across their link.  {He's probably not the angriest captain in the whole galaxy, but he does seem pretty peeved.  I can almost hear him thinking how annoyed he is with us, he's that mad.  I could have hoped to be caught by somebody a little nicer.}

{I could have hoped to not be caught at all.  But yeah.}

They paused, both considering the circumstances they'd fallen into.  Then Saren shivered again, but this time not with remembered fear.  {It's cold in here.  I'm going to mess with the atmospheric controls.}  She went over to the panel that Captain Altair had pointed out and tapped a few keys.  {Oh hey!  This thing's got a line to the ship's computer,} she said.

{Really?  Can you do anything with it?}

{It's not a proper computer panel, so I don't have actual access to any programs but the room controls, but I think I can get it to interface directly with the computer, so once I set the controls to warm the place a bit, I'm going to see if I can talk to it.  If it's a proper AI it might be interested in chatting, and if it's a dumb computer I can probably hack into it and get some information on the ship, maybe have a look at its sensors, stuff like that.}

{Well, you have fun with that.  I'm going to do some katas.}  Laren took a stance in the center of the small space and started stretching, preparing to do what martial arts practice she could with the limited room.  Saren, meanwhile, was happily punching things into the little keypad. 

Some time passed.  After a few minutes Saren made a little noise of satisfaction.  {I'm in!  Now let's see what I can find out...}  The faint click of the keypad's keys filled the room.  The noise wasn't loud, but it was continuous, and eventually Bakh, the guard, peered into the room.  He was familiar with those controls, and that was a lot more typing than anybody could possibly need just to change the temperature or light level.  The girl had to be up to something.  For a moment his scowl was nearly as deep as his captain's had been.  He was going to have to notify somebody that something was going on. 

Offline fleacollar999

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2013, 08:16:36 PM »
Altair was once again conversing with the navigator and pilot when a midshipman tapped on his shoulder, saying, "Sir, Second Officer Bakh says there's trouble in the brig!"

It was almost at that exact moment that the ship engineer cried, "Someone's hacked the computers!"

"Shit," Altair cursed under his breath, breaking into a run down the hall to the brig. When he arrived he found Bakh in a shouting match with one of the twins. Was it Laren? He thought, Or Saren? Altair frowned; who cared?

"Step away from the control panel," Bakh commanded, "or I will make you step away!" Altair laid a hand on Bakh's shoulder, and the Second Officer waved a hand at the holding cell. "She was messing with the control panel, sir, I don't know what she did but--"

"I know," the captain interrupted. He moved to stand directly across the cell from the twins. "How did you access the main computer from a temperature control panel?" He demanded.

Offline sparklesTopic starter

Re: Stowaway Star Twins
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 02:14:22 AM »
Saren hesitated for a moment. The captain was still scowling.  Perhaps she shouldn't say.  But then what would she accomplish by further antagonizing him? 

"Well, the panel has a line connecting it to the ship's main computer net.  It has to if the ship is to be able to monitor the settings remotely.  And there's no such thing as a connection that only runs one way, it sends and receives."  She smiled, starting to warm to her favorite subject.  "Of course there's no software for doing anything much, just the control panel interface, but it's possible to send a query to the computer, and so it's really just a matter of knowing enough about computer languages to know what to ask.  I had to try quite a few things before I got in, but it really wasn't that hard.  I've spent my whole life talking to computers.  I can even work with real, sentient AIs.  I know computers better than I know anything else except my sister.  We didn't have anyone else to talk to, except the computers.  Though Laren never wanted to spend much time talking to them, she spent all her time in the gym and at the shooting range."

She stopped suddenly, realizing she might have said too much.  She wasn't sure she should tell a stranger their life story.