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Author Topic: New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))  (Read 961 times)

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Offline inkwrenTopic starter

New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))
« on: October 25, 2018, 11:35:50 PM »
They had chosen only the best. A diverse crew of brilliant minds and exception skills - and her. One young but ordinary woman. That's what the propaganda promised.

Sarah Coalman stood among her crew mates on the platform surrounded by flags and microphones. Press talked over one another trying to get their questions answered. It made her head hurt, but the Director was an old pro and filtered out good questions from bad. His voice was just the right balance of intellectual precision and excited explorer to fuel the imaginations of all who listened.

“Director, is Ms. Coalman truly ready to handle the rigors of deep space travel?”
“Sarah is more than ready. She is a full fledged member of this expedition. One ordinary woman who will be given the chance to touch the stars. Her place on board New Horizon sets this expedition apart. I believe in the human spirit to explore, to learn, to handle any challenge with ingenuity. Sarah represents that spirit. One ordinary woman will touch the stars.”

Voices rose once again. Officer DeClan, medical chief, clapped Sarah on the back and she couldn’t help smiling. She wanted nothing more than to get on with it. The massive ship stood behind them, ready and waiting. She had never dreamed when her father had entered the funding lottery that she would be the winner.

Many had called the lottery a stunt, a hail Mary pass by a losing corporation to beat their greatest rival to a corner of uncharted space that promised material riches. But, the ordinary men and women who had taken part in the lottery felt differently. The colonies had grown crowded. People wanted to believe they could build a new life. It was the "land rush" of the 22nd century. They had been the backers of this grand enterprise and when New Horizon left the atmosphere, one of them would be on board.

Sarah would be on board. She’d had to pass general health and education tests, and she’d managed it. She’d learned the basics of the ship's communications systems. She’d been assigned duties of her own. While the rest of the crew kept detailed secure ship's logs, her personal journal was published daily for avid fans and naysayers to discuss. As they had moved closer to the launch date, the numbers of viewers had reached billions. People all over the colonies were listening to her impressions of this adventure.

The space program had become the career of the future again all thanks to one brown haired, hazel eyed only child who had never made it beyond Basic Ed. Thanks to her logs, every ordinary man, woman and child in the colonies would be an pioneer aboard New Horizons.

As she looked out over the crowd of reporters and onlookers beyond, she felt the familiar burn at the back of her eyes. Her father's face wasn't among them. Before tears could well, there was a blaze of fireworks and fanfare of trumpets as the ceremony finally ended. Taking in a ragged breath, she steadied herself and the cameraman who caught the look knew it would be the best image of her so far.

Offline CuriousVagrant

Re: New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2018, 12:31:01 AM »
Leon McBride did his best to ignore the hubbub as the press conference began. He had read the paperwork that he was given when he was hired by Galactix Rocketry. He wasn't sure if he really fit into the mold of 'brilliant minds and exceptional skills'. If he had his way he wouldn't be trying to hide in the back of the platform and fervently wishing that the cameras and press couldn't see him, he would be on the ship hiding and making sure that everything was sound. But much of his life hadn't gone his way.

Even though much of the crew was wearing the same types of uniforms and his overalls weren't any different from the other pair of engineers, Leon felt out of place. He knew the crew well enough, though he got the sense that some of them thought they were better than him. And he knew that they were probably right, but he was trying. He had been trying and making slow progress for years.

The old mechanic and former druggie had only been vaguely aware of the lottery as it was happening. He had only really looked at the details of it after he had met the eccentric Mr. Weng. For some reason the CEO had been impressed with his tale of destruction, or rather, the way he had pulled himself out of the depths of his own depravity. Victor had talked about bootstraps and intestinal fortitude and within a few weeks, Leon was given the job offer. In the back of the group, in the blinding lights and deafening din of the press, the weathered man silently wished he had turned Victor Weng down. A small part of him, which he mentally fought off, also desired a bit of something to numb his mind. But he had to remind himself that he didn't have much to lose and this expedition would probably be good for him.

Apart from the self doubt and dark impulses of Leon's mind, he was somewhat curious about the girl, Sarah Coalman. He hadn't spoke more than a handful of words to the girl thus far, but he had read her story and heard a bit of what she was coming to mean to the colonies. She seemed nice and even had an appeal that was quite ordinary, as he saw it, and that thought wasn't meant to be rude. He saw the girl as the embodiment of 'The Girl Next Door', which was probably along the lines of what The Director had hoped for. So much so, that the aging mechanic wondered if the lottery was rigged. Now, billions of people watched her logs to hear her thoughts, and likely to see her dreams as their own. Evan Fletcher, the paunchy engineer that was in charge of Leon, had shown him the logs a few weeks before the launch. And though the mechanic didn't watch them regularly (yet), he found that the shy woman's voice and simple personality was soothing when he was having trouble with the memories of his old habits.

Despite himself, Leon jumped a bit when the fireworks and trumpets shattered his concentration and he fervently hoped that nobody noticed it. He didn't think that anybody would, since the real star in the event was Sarah. All eyes would probably be on her or the director and he doubted that anybody would pay attention to the thin old man hiding in the back. He took a steadying breath and spoke in a gentle voice to some of the crew, "It's time to board the ship, right?" Just the simple question, and he hoped that the press wouldn't hear him over everything else, though he couldn't be sure.

Offline inkwrenTopic starter

Re: New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2018, 11:27:29 PM »
Victor Weng shook people's hands until the arthritis in his knuckles left him feeling like his hands were on fire. He smiled and nodded until his teeth hurt. People milled around the Executive Lounge that hung suspended over the command center which sat like a reversed amphitheater, each technician at his station and the screens visible to those in the lounge.

Commander Velez stepped to his side and spoke low.

"The President has asked me to plead with you one more time to stop this farce before it becomes a fiasco of galactic proportions."

Victor smiled, "The president has always been so good at turning a phrase, but I'm afraid that his words are falling on deaf ears."

Velez sighed. "You are taking the best and brightest this galaxy has to offer and one ordinary girl quite possibly to their doom."

"Perhaps it's all that you've seen in your years as a soldier. But I believe with all my heart that we do a disservice to all men and women if we forget the value of the human spirit." He let his hand sweep from the screen that showed the hive of activity in the engine room to the screen that showed Sarah sitting at her console answering messages that poured in from all over the galaxy. "I believe above all things in the human spirit to do great and noble things. I believe that the greatest spirits are often the humblest. Even if they face adversity, we must not discount any crew members ability to raise above it all. To do more than survive. To thrive!"

"The president isn't the only one who knows how to turn a phrase, my friend." Velez gave his old friend's shoulder a squeeze as Mission Control announced the launch.

At her station, Sarah shut down and strapped herself in. Her hands shook as Mission Control announced the two minute countdown. Other voices echoed over the comms announcing systems were online in each of the sections of the ship.

Every member had a reason to leave family, friends and careers behind. New scientific discoveries, wealth, even redemption drove the crew as a whole to face the dangers ahead, but when New Horizon left the atmosphere of Earth, Sarah would be leaving behind the fresh grave of her father. She left behind all she had known for love of a father and his dream to see her have a life better than he could give her.

She could hear his voice in her head reading Shakespeare to her as a little girl from one of her mother's old books.

"Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.

As her body slammed back into the seat, tears slid down her cheeks and she whispered softly, "never doubt I love."

One day, in the not too distant future, those private words of love to her father would be pulled from the archives and become the rallying cry of a galaxy.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2018, 12:02:12 AM by inkwren »

Offline CuriousVagrant

Re: New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2018, 12:08:37 AM »
Leon threw a glance toward Victor Weng as he noticed someone move to speak to the man, but the old mechanic didn't think too much about it. It wasn't his business. His job was on the ship. As his piercing blue eyes wandered, Evan clapped his shoulder, even as he shook his head slowly, "Yes Leon. It's time to board the ship. Make sure to do a quick check first." The man smiled, though Leon noticed that there the smile didn't completely reach his eyes and a good portion of the crew gave him similar smiles.

Leon peered down at his feet nervously as he took a moment to collect himself. To remind himself that he wasn't the man he used to be. He was respectable and he was good at what he did. He knew he wouldn't be there if that wasn't true. With his doubt cleared for the moment, he shuffled to the side and opened one of the panels for the last time and helped to finish the last system check. And based on his instructions, everything was as it should be, though he did notice that some of the parts were a bit worn. Not unlike himself.

Then, with purposeful strides, the reformed man joined the others on the ship. He carefully set his equipment then strapped in and waited quietly. He could hear some of the vague chatter from the other crew members, whether it was playful banter or prayers for a safe journey. Off to his right he heard the soft whisper of a woman's voice and he turned to look at her. Sarah seemed to be struggling with something and seeing the tears hurt him. And the words she whispered... he knew that there had to be some weight to them. It didn't seem to fit the situation, as he saw it, so he thought it had to be some quote or poem.

Doing his best to think quickly, he gave Sarah a gentle smile and whispered to her, though he knew one or two other crew members might hear him if they were paying attention, "To thine own self be true." Even as he whispered, his smile twisted a bit, "I don't know a whole lot of quotes or poetry, but I thought I'd try. Everything will be alright, okay?"

Leon hoped that he hadn't just lied to the girl, but his thoughts began to swirl as he turned his face away and he looked down at his old boots. He feared many things in that moment. That death waited for him in space, that Sarah thought his words were creepy and that he might find that his old, drug addled self was the real Leon McBride.

Offline inkwrenTopic starter

Re: New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2018, 12:57:49 AM »
The ship began to vibrate as the energy built up for the first jump once they cleared the atmosphere. Her knuckles clutched the arms of her seat. Before she could begin to panic, she heard a voice at her side. Her hazel eyes turned toward it and met the technician's. His face was familiar, though she didn't remember his name. She noticed once again that he was older than most of the crew.

That comforted her as much as his effort to distract her. She smiled shakily and brushed the tear away. "Hamlet. Act 1. Scene 3. Polonium to Laertes, his son." Her breath caught as the ship slid into the jump.

It was an oily sensation that left her feeling as if her mind was sloshing heavily in her body. DeClan had assured her she'd get used to it before their journey was over, but she wasn't so sure.

In order to make the voyage through the void between the Milky Way and Andromeda, their ship would have to make four jumps. Each jump would take approximately three weeks. Unlike the current technology that depended on the massive JumPort stations to slingshot transports around humanity's own galaxy in a matter of hours or days, Weng and his team has innovated a technology they had coined "tethering" which would allow them to build a line of energy between the two galaxies. Once the system was in place, more vessels would be able to be ferried back and forth across the Void.

Between the anchor device in the station on Earth and the one aboard ship, energy stretched and retracted in waves that would carry New Horizon deep into the Void. At the first "Anchorage" when the ship slipped out of the jump, a buoy would be placed. This bouy would maintain the tethered energy field as New Horizon used it's mineral fuel to once again enter a jump and then be carried along by the energy of the tether.

Yet for Sarah, all the scientific explanations and training for space travel did nothing to rid herself of the oily feeling. As she waited for the all clear from the Captain, she focused on the man beside her.

"You don't like the feeling either?" She asked as he seemed uncomfortable too. "Like your body isn't quite in sync with your mind?"

Offline CuriousVagrant

Re: New Horizon ((Inkwren & CuriousVagrant))
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2018, 01:52:05 AM »
As the ship vibrated, Leon closed his eyes and leaned back into the seat as he repeated a thought in his head as if it were a mantra, 'It's okay. It's been worse. It's okay. It's been worse...' His attempt at positive self talk was interrupted just as soon as it began though, as he heard Sarah's voice. He turned his gaze back to her and he noticed that she seemed just a little more calm than she was before. It'd be a lie if he were to pretend that the simple fact didn't make him feel just a little bit better about himself.

The woman's voice caught and distracted as he was, he hit his head lightly as he was momentarily unprepared for the way the jump pulled at his body, though it wasn't too bad. He felt his head start to swim just a bit and he gritted his teeth at the sensation and the memories it brought to him.

Leon tried to remember the training and the paperwork he had been given before the date of the launch, though he didn't understand all of the science behind it. Something about stations and anchors. He had been more focused on the details he needed, the layout of the ship and all the nuts and bolts of things so he could really earn his place. But he found that trying to remember those things didn't really help him to distract himself from the oily feeling of the jump.

Hearing the all clear sign from the captain, he switched to remembering other details. When he was supposed to get up and where he was supposed to work. Sarah's spoke again and he turned to her, giving her a soft smile, "Yeah. Something like that." His blue eyes were a bit distant when he said the words, but he didn't want her to worry about it. Or know the real reason why the jump bothered him. He just knew that she wouldn't take well to the fact that one of the ships technicians used to be a drug addict.

The old mechanic felt like he needed to change the subject, and thought of what she said just before the jump. Acts and scenes. He tilted his head slightly and spoke gently, "I don't know much about Hamlet, you know. Just what I said before and the 'To be or not to be' part. I haven't read it in years. These days I've mostly read manuals so I can be good at what I need to be."

He fell quiet after his admission, and he waited politely to give her the chance to acknowledge his words. Though he didn't expect a whole lot from the woman. She was smart, into Hamlet to the extent that she knew act and scene. She didn't really have any business talking too much to a low life like himself. He expected, and hoped as well, that she would turn to another crew member and find a way to enjoy herself. To better herself. She didn't need an example like him.