Thursday, February 4, 2016

Nano-Fic: A Gentleman's Duty (12)

Apologies for the delay in a new installment.  I had a court appearance (SSI) last week and spent most of this week recovering.  I don't do well under stress - the reason for the hearing in the first place.  But things maybe improving now; we got a dog.  The change in my mood and outlook has apparently been dramatic.

Anyway, this should be the second-to-last installment.  Enjoy!

In the cockpit of the Gentleman Scoundrel, Medic Canto Kura was frantically trying to get feedback from the remote medical sensors on the missing crewman Sagkal.  The Ship’s Master, Aru Vakh, wasn’t about to let Kura work in peace, however.
“What in Hell happened, Kura?  How can the two of you lose an entire Sloak?”
The other person Vakh refered to was Navigator Ruku Mat, who was at that moment on the stricken Patrol Cutter with Sagkal, in a vac suit, desperately trying not to panic.
“Okay, okay, okay….breathe.  Just breathe.  I can do that...”  It was becoming a chore to breathe deeply for Ruku, as the urge to pant began to become irresistible.  She was sweating profusely - which was to be expected, the temperature this close to a star was in exess of sixty-five Celsius.  But for a Giru, such as Mat, sixty-five was about the noontime temperature of home in the summer.  She let her overhanging curls and bushy eyebrows soak up the moisture without thinking about it.
The important thing, Ruku knew, was not to panic.  She quickly typed in the commands needed to fuel the Patrol Cutter’s Launch.  NegMat flowed from the forward holding tanks into the tiny craft, making the gravity shift sightly in the Computer Room where Ruku Mat was working.  The forward tank was balanced against the after tanks and the mass of  the Cutter itself, keeping the spacecraft at rest reletive to its vector.  But this could not last.  The incredible amount of heat pouring into the Cutter was degrading the NegMat containment.  It would only last another hour or two before failing and turning the Cutter into a cloud of debris.  Sagkal, incommunicado, might not have an hour.  It was up to Ruku to prevent the debris, rescue Sagkal, and get out on the Launch.
It would take both Ruku and Sagkal to save the Cutter.  Unless the two released the forward and aft holding tanks simultaneously, the Cutter would streak off in the opposite direction of -
“ can’t be that easy, can it?”
“What’s that Ruku?” Canto asked, “What’s easy?”
In spite of her fear, Ruku laughed out loud. “I can get us out!  And execute the five-one-five!”
Vakh came on the circuit “What are you on about, Mat?”
“Put the Scoundrel in a higher orbit.  We’ll be their shortly”
In the cockpit of the Merchant ship, Vakh snapped at his Medic.  “She’s gone mad!”
“Could be,” said Canto Kura, “but buggered if I can think of what she could do differently.”
    Cockpit, Zag:” This was Zag Essuru, the Gentleman Scoundrel’s pilot, from the Quarterdeck.  “Cutter has come about Y-plus 26 degrees and increasing.  Confirm.”
    Aru Vakh found the appropriate radar scope and confirmed that the Cutter had indeed turned to its starboard and for an unknown reason.
    Cockpit, Ipa:” This from Engineering, where the frantic Ipa Sam said, “If the Cutter turns broadside, she’ll breakup from thermal shock!”
    Canto answered, “We know Ipa!  It’s not like we can stop her!”
    Aru Vakh pointed at the scope. Ruku Mat had scrammed the forward NegMat reservoir.  The energized fluid instantly converted to endlessly amplified light and radiation, and just as instantly decayed into oblivion.  The remains were a gamma ray burst, aimed not at the hapless cutter nor the dilapidated trader, but at the star itself.  It dissipated harmlessly as the Patrol Cutter shot forward at two gravities.
    “I’ll be damned,” Aru Vakh said. “She has indeed gone mad.  And it has given her courage.”
    “Her vector will take her into the sun, “ Said Kura.  “She’s scuttling the Cutter.”
“And the rest of the NegMat with it.  Where it will do not harm, while she gets Sagkal and escapes in the Launch.”  Vakh keyed the intercom.  “Sam, ready the drive.  Essuru, get up here; I need you at the helm to follow our mad Navigator.”
“Hell, yeah.”

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