About Me

My photo
Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Part 1 of a Private Pain

A Private Pain
By Patrick Prescott

I shiver huddled in a lonely cave

I shout, I rant, I rave.
The game of life has been played
Though I don’t know how I strayed.
The ache within my chest
Will give me no peaceful rest
Oh God
Oh God
I hurt.

I am Niqmiepu of the farmer Grails
We farmed with the ivory in our tails.
We sowed the ground in a single pass
Now all around me is not a single blade of grass.

Hunters from the sky
Came to kill and we didn’t know why
They traded with the Prails
And allied with the Drails
To chase us down
For slaughter in every town.

It was the ivory they sought,
Too late we vainly fought.
With all the farmers killed
None of the land is tilled
As fallow our soil does lie
The Prails and Drails now die.

Finally there was only Ishme
Who was my wife, and me.
We hurriedly fled
Our feet sorely bled
Till we rested by a tree
There was no one we could see.
Ishme, my wife was hurt
And her face was covered in dirt.
We holed up in this cave
Where for food we began to crave.
She grew thin as a rail
And as white as her tail.
While in a fever I perspired
Ishme’s breath gradually expired
Panting on her side she did lie
Slowly I watched her die.

I buried her with dust and tears
She was the last of my peers.

Come sweet death
Take my lonely breath
My race is lost
At tremendous cost
My tail I kept
My eyes have wept
For those who died
And for those who tried
To save my race
Now there is no place
For us to live
And no love for me to give
Come sweet death
Take my lonely breath.

# # # # #

Moon Fall

Mater observed Yeoman Lotz stir in the stasis tube. The beginning of thawing. She whispered softly to the 25-year-old woman, “This will be over soon. You’ve been in stasis for ninety years.”
Yeoman Lotz never heard the computer. She was in cellular rejuvenation and as each cell in her body thawed it stimulated the central nervous system which broadcast the sensory overload to the cerebral cortex. Unfortunately, the brain was not sufficiently thawed to release endorphins to lessen the pain.
Slowly Izzy Lotz became aware of more than the excruciating pain. Memories came back of boarding the Virgo Exploratory Ship Arrow. Being put into the stasis tube. It felt like only a few minutes before the burning began.
A year before graduation from the Virgo Corporation Exploratory Academy, she was placed in stasis for a month. It was painful upon awakening, but that was a pin prick in comparison to being skinned alive.
The stasis tube extended and the top opened. Hands reached down and lifted her onto a gurney. The sheets she rested on were warm and the ones placed on top of her were even warmer. Slowly her eyes opened to a dark room. There was just enough light for her eyes to focus on a shadow hovering over her. 
Something was in her mouth. A tube was forcing air into her lungs. She tried to lift her hands, but they as well as the rest of her body was in restraints.
“Yeoman Lotz, can you hear me?” A soft voice asked. “If you can, blink your eyes.”
She blinked.
Mater continued, “Commander Corbin is going to remove your breathing apparatus. Do not struggle or try to speak. Do you understand?”
Izzy blinked again.
The shadow reached down and pulled out the tube. Warm air rushed in causing intense pain along her airway and each alveoli filled it intensified the agony. The restraints kept her from thrashing around and the apparatus that held the tube in place held her vocal cords firm so she couldn’t scream which would have shattered them.
Don’t struggle, the stupid computer says, she thought. Does she think I’m made out of wood?
Once the strain against the bindings eased up, the hands started pulling out the apparatus. The hard rubber stopper secreted fluid before sliding out and the pain was minimal.
Mater observed Yeoman Lotz start moving her jaw. The computer slowly started loosening the bindings. The lights began to brighten so Izzy could see Commander Corbin hovering over her.
Lieutenant Commander Judy Corbin slowly lifted the young girl to a sitting position. “The first times always the roughest,” she said.
Izzy tried to say what she was thinking but with her vocal cords still stiff and tongue not any better, it came out as “AGGRRRRAAARRRGGAAAA”
Judy smiled at her, “That’s what we all say upon awakening.”
She helped Izzy into a warming robe and supported her from the gurney to an anti-gravity chair. Taking her to the IOWS (Internal Organ Warming Station) the hatch opened. Helping Izzy through the hatch and into the webbing, she took the robe and left.
Scientists found centuries earlier that the extremities warmed up easier than internal organs. Once the lungs, heart and circulatory system became operational the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, spleen, and gall bladder needed time to function fully. In emergency situations time was something they didn’t have. The scientists found that sexual intercourse helped jump start the other systems, but the body wasn’t capable of vigorous coitus on a bed even at ¼ G, thus the IOWS.
* * * *
Captain John Dennedy was in the engine room running diagnostics with Petty Officer Qupidic Ergoxinj. He’d been awakened two weeks earlier and was getting the feel of the ship before Qupidic and Corbin went into stasis.
This was his third and last voyage. Like all recruits he left on the first mission at age twenty-five. He was now in waking age fifty-five. It was over three hundred since he was born by the Federation chronology.
Every voyage the crew were awake and working on the ship for around twelve years. It took a hundred years to reach their target solar system. All crew worked the year before landfall to get the ship ready for landing. It took another year to build a base camp and erect the Interdimensional Transportation Device or ITD, but everyone called it the “Portal.”
That’s if everything went well, but that seldom happens. If something goes wrong and more hands are needed on deck the crewmember or members proficient in fixing the problem could be active for a year or more and then put back in stasis. On the second voyage he was awake for a year on two occasions and this trip he was needed off and on for five. By the time Arrow reached their destination he’d be over sixty.
As captain of the ship he commanded the last ten years of the hundred-year trip. Protocol dictated that he would spend the last ten years with the least experienced female member of the crew. The perk here was that he got to interview all the recruits and take his pick. It wasn’t an easy choice. The recruits spent ten years learning everything about an exploration ship and were accomplished in every aspect. They were also twenty-five and very healthy.
Looking over their folders and recommendations he was saddened that the demands of an exploration ship prohibited children. All explorers sacrificed reproduction and were sterilized.
He interviewed five of the ten applicants. He chose Izzy Lotz. As they went into stasis and the ship left their last solar system, he had no regrets.
Yeoman Lotz was assigned to replace the previous captain and as protocol demanded they lived together for six weeks to get used to each other as they would be mated for ten years. Any issues of incompatibility and the recruit was rejected. During that time, they would use the IOWS three times. The crew referred to it as the “Coitus Chamber.”
# # # # #
Mater announced, “Yeoman Lotz is in IOWS, Captain.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he said.
Patting Qupidic on his elongated neck (there wasn’t a shoulder) he smirked, “Once more into the breach, dear friend.”
Izzy waited. The webbing was designed for zero G, and until Captain Dennedy arrived it abraded her super sensitive skin. She recalled the six weeks they lived together and the three previous zero G sessions. John was a kind and generous man. He was handsome and his experience helped her overcome any shyness due to her youth and inexperience.
The hatch slid open and she saw him enter. He’s aged. Must have been some problems and he’s been out of stasis.
She helped him enter the webbing and it tightened. The room started spinning and soon they were in zero G.
“Captain Dennedy,” Mater said as the chamber returned to ¼ gravity. “Yeoman Lotz vital signs are now in acceptable parameters.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he said. He gave Izzy a lingering kiss, then climbed out of the webbing.
Mater continued, “Commander Corbin has entered stasis. My sensors indicate that we are currently on course with all systems in operational order. You have the next six hours for rest and recuperation.”
“I’ll take it under advisement, Mom,” John said.
For the millionth time he wished the nerds that designed ship computers didn’t choose a bossy female voice. Some psychologist told them that the sound of a mother’s voice would make the crew respond to its dictates. To him it was just nagging. What he learned on his first voyage, though, was don’t piss off the computer. Mater could make your life a living hell.
“Yeoman Lotz,” Mater continued, you’re scheduled for hydroponics. Petty Officer Ergoxinj is waiting to brief you on the status of all your duties.”
“Noted, Mater,” she croaked. Her voice hadn’t been used for ninety years.
VES Arrow was five hundred meters long and one hundred meters wide. It was built seven hundred years earlier in a zero-gravity shipyard. Its superstructure was a metal frame with thirty square spaces designed to house a fifty-meter squared module. Above the superstructure were six additional modules for living quarters and living sustainability. Under the superstructure were six modules for propulsion. 
A year before reaching the target solar system all crew members were awakened and preparation for landfall began.
It took five weeks, but all twenty crewmembers were out of stasis. Six months later science officer Tupac Mupac found the moon most viable for landing. 
“Captain,” he said. “The fourth planet from red star CV145789 is inhabited.”
“Parameters, Mister Mupac?” The captain asked.
 Lieutenant Mupac replied, “Class 2 in size at roughly 60,000 kilometers in circumference. It has an oxygen, nitrogen atmosphere, four continents and is 85% water with polar caps comprising 30% of the water. There are three moons the largest 20,000 kilometers in circumference. Trace amounts of water in frozen form are in the bottom of impact craters. The other two moons are 8,000 and 6,000 kilometers in circumference. All indications are that the moons are undisturbed in mineral extraction. They are pristine.”
“What of the planet's inhabitants?” Dennedy asked.
“Captain, they are at stone age level. They rely on combustibles for heating, but there’s not any indication of metallurgy.”
“Commander Corbin, make your heading for the largest of the moons. We’ll set up shop there,” Dennedy directed.
Looking at the rest of the crew, “We’re six months from landfall as Mr. Mupac mentioned. Let’s put our heads together and come up with more acceptable names for this system than 145789.”
Four days of intense poker resulted in Levi Goldman getting the right to choose the names. CV145789 was named Samuel, the largest gas giant: Isaiah, Second largest gas giant: Jeremiah, Third largest gas giant: Ezekiel. The eight solid planets were named in order of distance from the star: Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Seth, Methuselah, Noah, and Javan. The habitable planet was Able.
Arrow entered orbit around Alpha Moon Able. The bridge and the skeletal frame would remain in orbit. Thirty modules landed and the process of building a base camp and the portal began.

# # # # #

Four months and the deaths of three crewmembers from accidents; the portal was operational. Erecting the habitats in hostile environments was dangerous.
The coordinates of Virgocorp’s Staging Area a hundred light years away were entered into the computer and Captain Dennedy stepped through the portal. The device sent him to an empty dimension and then to VCSA in a matter of seconds. He didn’t even need oxygen.
He entered an empty room. Sensors picking up his movement triggered an alarm and heavy footsteps converged on his location. He was quickly surrounded by weapons he didn’t recognize.
It’s been a hundred years, they’ve made improvements. Raising his hands, “Captain John Dennedy of VES Arrow. We’ve made landfall.”
One of the armed men approached. Dennedy handed over the data files which included the coordinates to CV-145789 now named Samuel.
He was escorted to a holding cell until the data was analyzed. This was his second time being processed. Those who processed him back in that day were long dead and these are their great-great-grandsons and daughters.
The portal started emitting a warning of incoming traffic. Sixteen of the twenty original crew of the Arrow stood in their space suits waiting for corporate arrival.
The first suited men came through running and fanned out in a circle with weapons pointing in all directions. The crew were quickly forced to their knees and under guard.
A delegation of ten emerged. All went to the command module which was the largest of all the modules and the living area. For the next week the crew were debriefed on the last hundred years. What they said was compared to their logs and computer records. Once Virgocorp was convinced, they did not have contact with any of the other thirty corporations in the Terran Federation they were placed back in stasis.
A steady flow of men and material flowed through the portal. Structures were erected and pieces of vehicles were assembled. Hydroponic and aeroponic greenhouses began the process of providing food and producing oxygen.
Captain Dennedy returned after a month long debrief with four new crew members. Two of the crew members who died were men. Yeoman Lotz was the other.
He turned the new crew members over to acting Captain Corbin and returned to Virgo Prime for his well-earned retirement. She had two men to choose as her mate. He knew she'd make the best of it.

# # # # #

One hundred and two years later Captain Corbin passed through the portal to tender her first report after a successful voyage to the next solar system in the Arrow’s path.
She expected to be surrounded by armed men, but these didn’t wear the uniforms of Virgocorp. They were Federation Marines.
“Your name and ship.” The man walking towards her demanded.
“Captain Judy Corbin of the VES Arrow,” she answered. She put out her hand with the data chip of the voyage.
The man in full battle dress took the chip. “Captain Corbin, Virgo Corporation no longer exists. The Federation has confiscated all properties. You will remain here for interrogation; your crew will be brought back here. The ship and all it’s contents as well as the solar system you’ve entered are now under Federation ownership.  


Berthold Gambrel said...

A strong sci-fi setting! Excellent start. I also like the Biblical naming system for the planets and stars.

P M Prescott said...

Glad you like it, Berthold.