Canopus Station
Previous Next

Upon The Rocks And Shale

Posted on Thu Oct 3rd, 2019 @ 10:19am by The Narrator & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci

Mission: S1E4: Upon A Darkening Tide
Location: ACCS Acheron, Carpathia
Timeline: MD01 1100

The first few meters into the Acheron were marred by dust and hastily erected plastic sheeting. There were mech tech's here and there, doing system tests and the other day to day tasks any engineering crew did to keep a big machine happy and content. But after a bit, a turn here, a turn there, the dust was gone and the air had the cool recycled feel of a functioning life support system.

"The Acheron started out life as a water haulier for the Venusian terraforming project back in Sol. She'd fly out to the Oort Cloud on her impulse drives, load up on ice shards, and then dive back towards the Sun to deliver her cargo. Drop the shards off in orbit and let the terraformers shape them, and then throw them down onto Venus," he held up his hands "Don't ask me about the science of terraforming a world with a year-long day by throwing comets at it, it's beyond me. But she was nearing the end of her life cycle when she was bought up by the Acheron Colony Corporation."

He banged a fist against the metal bulkhead they were walking past.

"Six months in the Calisitto Shipyards in the Jupiter luna system getting overhauled and upgraded, that's where we picked up Deni and her happy band of tattooed guild techs," he explained as the air took on a notable chill. "A in system comet catcher doesn't need a warp drive, so we had one fitted to the rear. Planned on using it as the seed crystal for a space station of our own. Drop off the warp core in orbit, land on the planet, and you have a functioning anti-matter reactor ready to beam power down to the surface. Didn't go that way, but the plan was solid."

Mara stared around wide-eyed, trying to take in every inch of the craft. Sure, it wasn’t as fancy as any ship on which she’d served, but it was far more functional, especially for a budding colony. “We could see about sticking it back in orbit,” Mara offered. “I did lasso a third of our station and we do have the best pilots in the fleet. Between us and your engineers, I’ll bet we can figure it out. I mean, there is the option of leaving it here, but I’m willing to bet your lot don’t want a warp core so close to their homes.”

Alex opened a pressure hatch, and natural sunlight shone through. They were in a large room, most of its space taken up by one hemisphere of a large spherical reactor. Thick power cables ran from it into the walls, and here and there were the banded coils of superconductive magnets that would keep the fusion event within from incinerating everyone in a four-mile radius. The light shone from the far wall, which was open and covered with plastic sheeting. They'd walked in a U, winding up back near the exposed side of the ship.

"The stardrive section was vaporised in orbit. The Acheron's landing system is strictly a one-way affair, and given the rough landing, any thoughts of raising her are a no go. Her keel is bent, her spinal truss cracked. I think the only thing keeping her in one piece is stubborn pride and rust," Alex said as they walked across the reactor room. On the far side, a portion of the reactors housing had been removed to reveal the glistening mirror perfect interior of the reactor torus. The segment that had been removed was lying against the wall, a vicious crack running nearly its entire length.

"Like Deni said, they scrammed the reactor ten feet up in the air. Just enough time to vent the bottle," he walked up and pressed a hand to the metal scar. "You ever wonder what it would look like if the core on your station breached? Here it is, grinning at you with its teeth pulled."

He pulled his hand back, wriggling his fingers like he was working feeling back into them.

"Bummer," muttered Mara, frowning at the gaping hole. "Well, that just means you have to put your solar panels up earlier than expected. I could- no, let's not get sidetracked. I'm supposed to look at the water pumps, not solar panels."

"Then you'll like the greenhouse, they have solar panels supplementing their power requirements. If it's one thing Carpathia is good for, its a high degree of optical light for photovoltaic cells," Alex lead her back into the innards of the ship. Here and there the Acheron's age became more and more apparent. Here was a hatch with manual control's that had to be open and closed by hand. Along the walls and floor were little hand grabs for coasting through the corridor in zero gravity. Even the anti spalling liner on the walls, designed to keep impact damage or explosions from sending shrapnel throughout the ship to a minimum, was dull and cracked in places.

They reached another door, and this time Alex stopped and opened a storage bin next to the door and pulled out a pair of padded cold-weather coats. He handed one to her as he put his on.

"Quickest way to the greenhouse is to go through here," he said nodding to the door labelled 'CryoCrypt4'. "Don't worry, this is one of the active Crypts. All the sleeper's inside are still in stasis."

"That's how a lot of us came through, too," Mara mused as she accepted and donned the coat. "Lucky them. I had a severe headache after the jump. And I couldn't get rid of it. Had to sleep it off. Any idea when you're going to wake them?"

"Maybe it just affects folks differently. I was awake during the jump, didn't feel a thing," Alex said, shrugging into his coat. Once zipped up, he quickly opened the large hatch and ushered her inside. The cold struck hard and fast, even through the thick insulating layers of the coat it drove needles of ice into her. The two stood on a catwalk that went straight through what looked like a dry cleaner. Hanging from rails in the ceiling pods of metal and ceramic hung from armatures, their flanks festooned with faint holographic readouts and thick hoses that chuffed quietly.

Unlike the holodramas these pods did not have a faceplate to look through and gaze upon a frown demi corpse within. Stasis pods, cryo caskets, reefer sleep berths, they all served the same function. Within was a corpse in the transition to life, the bodies fluids swapped out for more durable ones, the heart and musculature chemically adjusted to withstand the cold.

Days to chill down.
Days to warm up.

And here was a hundred to a side, stretching on like a dark forest of frost covered coffins, each containing a person who had no idea of the world beyond their chilly sepulchre.

"Never liked these things," Alex said as he led the way. "Too many bad dreams. Not to mention Sleepers Sickness."

“I think it’s beautiful,” replied Mara, gazing around t all the cryosleep pods. “Oh, wait, you meant being in them, didn’t you?” she added with a sheepish grin. “Sorry. Anyway, it’s too cold to linger. Let’s get through quickly. I never thought I’d be so anxious to be uncomfortably warm.”

Through the ranks of cryo casket's they went, passing by chugging heat pumps and ice shell encrusted LCAR panels. Not fancy holography here like on Canopus Station, big thick buttons and hardy interfaces. Very literally crash proof. The notable exceptions to this rule were the odd gap in the hanging assortment of pods, the armatures hanging empty or broken like tree limbs in a storm.

They passed by only one person as they navigated the Cryo Crypt, a heavily bundled up old man in a coat festooned not with medical tools of religious iconography of a dozen faiths. He walked past the, not slowing his steady chanting mantra before turning a handheld pray wheel he held on to. The back of the padded coat was embroidered with a bright five-pointed blue star.

"Saganist," Alex explained as they reached the far entry hatch and stepped through, the ambient temperature beyond already melting the few icy patches that had begun to form on the coat. "Expert cryo techs, every long haul colony mission takes a handful of them along for the ride. Combination of good luck charm and hazard mitigation."

He nodded at the wall next to the storage cubbie where their coats would be going. On it was a bright green leaf, painted with the sort of bright neon paints engineer's used for exterior hull work. An arrow in 'Shock Berry Blue' rested under it, pointing down the corridor.

"Now, fair warning our chief botanist is a little...odd. Don't get me wrong, she runs a great team but you need to not make a fuss about her or the others," Alex said as they walked.

“I’m very good at not making a fuss,” Mara replied, completely ready to not react to whomever she was presented with. She hung the bulky coat on the indicated hook and motioned to Alex. “Lead the way,” she said.


Previous Next