Aryana glanced over at the flashing indicator light which accompanied the endless beeping on her datapad. It had been blinking incessantly since the moment the computer had woken her from Cryo. She had ignored it for the last hour while she showered and got a cup of coffee, but now it was staring her in the face. In some way, she hoped that if she kept ignoring it, it would just go away. She just wanted to enjoy her coffee in peace.
Looking back out the viewfinder, her gaze wandered aimlessly amongst the black, freezing abyss just beyond. Her parents were never a fan of space travel. Hell, her dad always said that the only way to ever get him off Terra was to forcefully strap his ass to a rocket. She hadn’t been nearly as sentimental about that floating rock as he was.
In a way, it was the quiet.
The stillness of space.
The way that no one could both-
“OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE.”
Aryana reached over and slapped the screen of the datapad. The blinking and beeping stopped immediately. Instead, the monotone sound of her shipping coordinator, Jonathon Hinkey filled the cabin.
zzzT! “This is a priority two message. To all ships traveling within the Capulet sector, most notably through F1, G1, and G2. We have had multiple reports of pirate activity taking place within a ten light year radius. Several ships have been attacked and pillaged, with a number of reported injuries and casualties along with billions worth of stolen cargo. Please review the following attached trajectory adjustments and input them as promptly as possible. Affected ships include as follows: the Apollo, the Magellan, the Deathclaw, the Falcon, the Merced, and the Charon. Please respond to acknowledge course revision. Respond code Gamma-Epsilon.” Zzzt!
With an aggravated sigh, she reached over and grabbed the datapad, stopping it before the message could play again. Swiping it aside, she pulled open the new course adjustments that were attached and let out an audible groan of disgust.
“Are you kidding me?” she said loudly, her voice echoing metallically through the empty halls.
The new route wasn’t only cautious, it was downright lunacy. Not only would it take her a good hundred lightyears around both the F and G quadrants, but the course adjustments would actually force her to stop at the Waystation orbiting Walton’s World in order to refuel and keep going.
“This shit’s going to add at least another year to our timetable!”
She tossed the datapad to the side with another groan and went back to her coffee, trying to ignore her responsibilities for the time being. She’d have to make the adjustments soon so that Jonathon didn’t keep bothering her, but he could wait for now.
God…the crew’s gonna be pissed.
Coffee in hand, she made her way back to the cryosleep chamber. Her tube still hung open, dripping with condensation from her recent slumber. The others however, remained firmly sealed. The eight members of her crew continued to sleep peacefully.
She considered whether she should wake them or not. While she knew that none of them would complain, except for maybe Rat, she also knew how jarring it was to be woken from cryosleep just to be given a message and put back in the tubes an hour later. Cryosleep was bad enough on the system.
Still, she could only imagine what it would be like to be woken up only to find that you have to run a refueling process a couple million light years from home instead of actually being home.
She slowly went from tube to tube, looking from face to face.
She’d have to think on it.
Slipping away from the sleeping forms of her crew, she made her way back down the cold halls of the ship. With the majority of the crew in sleep, the ship kept life support at a minimum and she could definitely feel it. She stopped by her quarters and grabbed her favorite blanket from stowage.
Back on the bridge, she downed the last of her cofee, grabbed the datapad, and wrapped up. She had always loved this blanket. It was heavy and warm and faded red with time. Her father had given it to her. He called it a “Shock Blanket”. While she wasn’t sure where the name came from, possibly Old Britain if she remembered correctly, it had stayed on her parents’ bed for as long as she could remember and was only given to her after her mother passed.
At that time, she was young and impetuous and didn’t care much for the “hand-me-down gift” as she called it then. Now, it was easily her most prized possession.
Aryana turned the datapad back on and got to work. It was already linked to the ship’s computer. She quickly began inputting the new calculations and adjustments to the ship’s trajectory. Each one would have to be checked and double checked by the computer. Even if the big-wigs back home knew what they were doing, space travel was dangerous and any little adjustment, if wrong, could send them barreling through a sun or into a planet while they were sleeping. She wasn’t worried though.
The computer would make the final call.
After just a few minutes, she finished and the computer reported that it was calculating their route. Aryana sent a quick confirmation message back to Jonathon confirming the adjustment and set the datapad down next to her. She knew that once it was done, the ship would correct its course automatically. There wasn’t much she needed to do.
She pulled the blanket closer to her throat, trying to keep out the cold of the empty ship.
Once again, her gaze drifted back out of the viewfinder of the little cramped bridge. Out to the stars and the oceans of darkness. To the planets and moons and asteroids. To all of the unknown that space travel promised. And, most importantly, back home.
She hadn’t seen her father in well over five years. While it barely felt like three months for her because of cryosleep, the dilemma of space travel was that those you left behind continued to age while you stayed frozen in a pod.
Aryana had heard the horror stories of men and women coming back to find children fully grown. To find parents dead of old age and lovers long forgotten to the passing of the clock. Towns and cities changed, love ones gone forever, and the world passing them by while they drifted frozen through space. Such was the risk of traveling for so long.
She pulled the blanket even tighter to her chest of thought of her father back on Terra, trying to thrust the thought of coming home to a tombstone. Her mother was long gone and while he was a stubborn son of a bitch, there was no doubt he was mortal. She fell asleep staring out into the void and worrying what she might be missing by being out here for another year.
Little did she know, a message flashed across her datapad:
“Calculations incomplete. Retaining original course.”
(Another bit I'm working on, hopefully with more chapters soon to come. Keep an eye out.)