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Seed 1 – Jump

February 22, 2007

Sig’s hands were sweating as he waited outside the Captain’s office. A message from his System appeared, projected onto his retinas by tiny machines embedded in his optic nerves, asking him if he wanted it to release drugs into his bloodstream to calm him down. He visualized a red X, silencing it. Drugs, no matter how advanced, took off your edge. Instead, he called up techniques that had been drilled into him over a decade ago. Taking deep, steady breaths, he focused, drawing himself to the present, disassociating himself from the future and the past.

As he tried to calm himself he looked at his reflection in the opaque glass wall that he was facing. The last few months had been lean, and it showed, which was probably for the best, when he was well-fed, he lost the intensity granted to him by his slightly hollow cheeks. He had cut off most of his hair for the interview, and for a moment he thought that he was looking at a picture of his younger self. He ran a hand through his slightly spiky blonde hair, and let his gaze drop.

The meditation worked, as it always had, and he had no idea of how much time passed before the door to his left slid open with a sound like decompressing gas. A man stepped through the opening, and if Sig hadn’t known better, he would have thought that the man was in the military. The man was older than Sig had expected, probably in his 60’s. His face was blocky, and although it appeared that the years had taken some of its sharpness, it had been compensated with hardness. The man had clearly been through his share of situations and hardships, but it was clear that adversity had not gotten the better of him, his bearing made it clear that he was in command. The man was clearly the Captain, and so was the one who would decide if Sig would be part of the expedition.

“Sigurd, I presume,” he said, his voice deep, the muted growl of an engine.

“Yes, sir.” Sig got out of the chair and shook the Captain’s hand. The Captain turned, leading the way into the office, and indicated a chair between the desk and the door. As Sig took the indicated chair, the Captain sat down as well. The desk was utilitarian, the only thing on its surface a placard, the name Balthus Abrams etched into the dark metal. The rest of the office was decorated in a similar vein, the only attempt at decoration being the blue-and-white technical drawing of the Javelin that completely covered one of the walls, and there was no doubt in Sig’s mind of its purpose.

“So, why do you want to join my expedition?” The captain asked, his eyes briefly becoming unfocused as he reviewed some piece of information on his System, presumably Sig’s application.

“I’ve always wanted the opportunity to–”

“Bullshit,” the Captain cut Sig off. “If I wanted someone who would tell me what they thought I wanted to hear, trust me, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. So tell me, why would someone like you want to sign on to go who-knows-where, with with all that it entails?”

Despite the artificially controlled climate aboard the station, Sig felt chilled. “What it comes down to, sir, is that there’s nothing for me here, just memories that I’d rather forget.”

“That, I can believe,” the Captain said. “Still doesn’t tell me why I should pick you, though.”

“Sir, I have experience on–”

“Frankly, I don’t give a damn about your experience. I already know about your experience. What I don’t know is why you think you deserve to be on my crew.” The Captain’s words took Sig like a blow to the stomach, and several heartbeats passed before he could muster a response.

“Because I’m willing to fight for what I believe in.” Sig looked the Captain in the eye as he said this, and apparently he had said the right thing, because the Captain smiled. Sig was just starting to relax when the Captain’s face hardened again.

“But your side lost,” the Captain said, leaning forward and drawing his words out slowly and deliberately.

“That doesn’t mean that we were on the wrong side,” Sig said, trying not to get angry.

“Good,” the Captain said, leaning back. “We leave in two weeks.”

* * *

Some pilots describe space as a crushing blackness, the darkness a suffocating blanket and the stars mere pinholes bleeding light from the Outside. Sig had never been one of those pilots. To him, the void was freedom, a place where the only rules were those imposed by mass and acceleration. Dangerous, yes, but a thing to be respected, not feared.

Sig always tried to be the first one out after a jump, he never really believed that everything was OK until he saw it with his own eyes. This jump had been particularly difficult. It wasn’t that the process or even the experience had changed since the war, but that this time it was a one-way trip. Even if they had wanted to, without a gate, it would take centuries to make it back to known space. This was what he had wanted, but it didn’t matter, it was one thing to leave, another entirely to be incapable of returning.

JS-1. Do you copy?” The voice was from the Javelin, and as Sig turned to take a look at it, awe-inspiring in its scale, a massive cylinder spinning on its axis. If not for the various lights mounted on it’s surface, it would merely be a swath of blackness in an otherwise starry expanse. It was the biggest ship he had ever served on, the military relied almost entirely on much smaller ships, the realities of space combat made anything the size of Javelin impractical..

“This is JS-1. All clear,” Sig replied. The JS-1 was miniscule in comparison with the Javelin, with room for only the pilot. No weapons, no jump drive, minimal shielding, basically a bunch of sensors strapped to an engine. It wasn’t elegant, but it got the job done.

Sig’s System indicated that he had been heading away from the Javelin for nearly fifteen minutes before the image on the EMA started to resolve. Except for a couple of gauges and the various controls, the only feature of the cockpit was the EMA screen, where the ship’s systems combined all of the input from various electromagnetic sensors into a display that represented the ship’s surroundings, fooling the eye into thinking that it was seeing three dimensions. He glanced down, and wasn’t surprised to find that he was still too close to the Javelin to get clear readings, the massive ship’s distortions were creating artifacts all over the EMA.

It took another two and a half minutes for the artifacts to clear up, the indistinct shapes gradually converging until there was only the Javelin, represented by a long cylinder, and the JS-1, represented by a tiny cluster of pixels only notable because they were in the center of the display. He tapped the screen, and everything shrunk down as the view expanded. He blinked, and for a moment just stared at the EMA, unable to make sense of what he was seeing. There was a third ship, more than twice the size of the Javelin, a few hundred kilometers away.

“Javelin, this is the JS-1. Do you copy?” Sig tried to keep his voice even as he spoke, but knew that he failed.

“This is the Javelin. Go ahead, JS-1,” came the reply from the other ship.

“Are you–” Sig began, and then saw two dots leave the third ship, one after the other, heading for the Javelin. “Shit! Torps! Put up your Screens!” The comms officer started to reply but was cut off by Captain Abrams, who was yelling commands. The EMA flickered and there was a blast of static as his connection was abruptly severed by the Javelin’s screens.

Sig wanted to shut his eyes but couldn’t. He had seen it before, the first torp would take out the Screens, and the second would destroy the ship. The two torps came in to view, glinting in the cold light of the stars. The first one hit the Screens, and the Javelin was briefly surrounded by a green halo as the Screens went down. The second torp hit the ship at the midpoint of the cylinder, and Sig bore silent witness as the ship, which he had started to think of as his new home, disappeared forever.

His first instinct was to power down and wait for a rescue sweep, but he knew that there would be no sweep. Not from his people, anyway. That only left two options, wait for death, or let himself get picked up by whoever had torped the Javelin.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    February 24, 2007 5:53 pm

    I do realize that it is a bit lame to post a comment on my own post, but it seems like the best way to do what I want to do, so too bad.

    First off, I realize that this story bears many similarities to Farscape, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica. I’m OK with this, and I plan on having the story depart from those stories.

    Other than that, I’m really liking this story line, and I have the second installment roughed, so I should have that up in a few weeks.

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