Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nano-fic: A Sense of Urgency

It was my first time in command of an Auxiliary Craft Mission.

My nose was burning from the oxygen feed as the Payload Officer finished strapping us in. In the forward capsule, half a dozen Espos were already locked and loaded. I sat between our pilot to the left and our flight engineer to the right. The hard foam of the acceleration couch was of little comfort and was going to become less so in a few moments.

The PLO sketched a salute and floated back out the hatch. The heavy door sealed up with a puff of increased pressure that made me have to pop my ears. Next to me Egg - still what? Only fifteen? - was figeting with his straps and Oxy hose. I sat next to him on his first trip into orbit on a real rocket. Am I sitting next to him on his last?
I shook my head. There was no time for that kind of thinking; the countdown was beginning. The whole rocket shook and a deep hollow clang sounded and the docking ring uncoupled. I sounded off through the Go/No Go check list without really thinking about it. All around me, keys were pushed, switches were flipped, and we reached the end of the countdown.

The Patrol Boat we were leaving was massive, heavily armed and and armored and could boost to Moon and back without running out of fuel. But for all of its power, it only boosts at a half g acceleration. The Cygnus rocket was tiny, had half the Delta V of the PL and was unarmed. But it could pull three gs at full burn and when when the countdown reached zero that's exactly what it did.

Feeling my body crushed into the couch as we boosted into open space, the rocket kind of reminded me of the Espos we were hauling. It moved with a sense of goddam urgency.

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