Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday Fiction for November 5, 2010

The talented young Sara is taking a brief break from NaNoWriMo to host Friday Fiction this week, over at Fiction Fusion. Check out her story, leave a comment (if your browser will let you), and follow the links to other fiction for your reading pleasure.

“The Erikson Exigency,” my NaNoWriMo novel for this year, is coming along nicely. As of this posting, my word count has crossed the 10K threshold, giving me a good lead on the target pace to complete the challenge on time. For Friday Fiction this month, I’ll be posting excerpts from this WIP, starting with tonight’s posting of the Prologue.

The Erikson Exigency

By Rick Higginson


CV Erikson

Violet Versak finished securing the final items in her list of compartments, and took one final look for anything that might have been overlooked. The Erikson still floated in lunar orbit, and with the exception of the fitness centrifuge, had weightlessness throughout her expanse. In just a few minutes, though, the Earth and the Moon would both be in the position for maximum velocity towards CN Leo, and the Erikson would use that momentum as she boosted out of orbit. At that time, inertial gravity would begin to build, and anything – or anyone – not secured would slam into the nearest trailing bulkhead.

“Orbital egress in four minutes,” the ship’s system announced.

She pulled herself through the door of the compartment, and then swiftly down the corridor towards her duty berth. She could safely ride out the initial acceleration by getting against a rear bulkhead, and holding herself there until the inertia took over, but regulations and the vessel’s programming would delay the departure if any personnel were not properly secured in their restraints. While they had a number of orbits within the acceptable departure window, she did not want to explain to the Mission Commander why she had caused the egress to be aborted.

Flipping around the corner into the duty berth, she twisted and flipped to settle into her restraining cradle. The other two Voidship Technicians, Lionel Brunfeld and Rich Smythe, were already secured in their cradles, and snorted in her direction.

“She made it,” Rich said. “You owe me a credit.”

“Orbital egress in two minutes,” the ship updated the count.

“Not yet,” Lionel replied. “The bet was that the scrub wouldn’t get secured in time for departure, and she still isn’t. The bet isn’t finished until the ‘restraints confirmed’ indicator appears on her cradle, or until the egress is delayed.”

“It doesn’t take me two minutes to get into my cradle,” she objected, slipping her hands and feet into the loops provided for them, and pressing her body tight into the conformal bed.

“Hmm, yes,” Lionel said. “I still don’t see the confirmed indicator.”

Smug old coot – maybe if you hadn’t loaded down my duty queue with three times the compartments you and your golden boy here had, I could have been lounging in my cradle well ahead of departure time, too. She tapped the switch for the restraints, and the straps slipped into place.

“Indicators,” Rich said. “Now you owe me a credit.”

“Quite all right,” Lionel said with a chuckle. “I’ll as likely win it back before too much longer, since I’m sure she’s going to make more mistakes than successes.”

“I’m sure you’re right, but until she does, I’ll gladly take your credits from you.”

“If they were going to force a third technician on us, why couldn’t they have given us Tom Davis?”

Not that tact again. Let it go, old man. You didn’t get Tom Davis, you got me.

“I still can’t believe Davis is on the Columbus mission to Eridanus. Why’d he choose the Columbus? Everyone knows the Tereshkova’s going to be the money trip,” Rich again rehashed the same query he’d raised multiple times when Davis’ name was mentioned. “He could have been leaving today, instead of waiting until next year when Columbus leaves.”

“Who knows?” Lionel said. “Davis has been a bit daft since he came back with the Vespucci. If anyone ever figures out what’s going on in that crazy dwarf’s head, it’ll probably drive them as off their nut as he is.”

“Yeah, he’s crazy, but imagine having someone that’s such a spooky-good tech on the mission. He might even be able to make a decent tech out of the scrub, eventually.”

“Even Davis isn’t that good,” Lionel sneered.

She toggled the sound isolation headset, and queued up her favorite playlist of music. The two men wanted her to argue and fight back, and had proven several times over the weeks since she’d first come aboard, that they felt no hesitation to putting her on report for “insubordination” if she did so. Since they technically outranked her on the mission, her explanations carried little weight with the Mission Commander. They could “bait” her all they wanted, and all that mattered was if she rose to the bait. It was easier to let the music drown them out, whenever possible.

“Orbital egress in thirty seconds,” the announcement also came through her headset.

Thirty more seconds, and I’m truly stuck with these two pigs all the way to CN Leo and back. She closed her eyes, and concentrated on the relaxing aspects of the music.

An almost imperceptible vibration carried through the hull of the ship, and the first traces of inertial gravity settled her deeper into the cushion of the cradle. Erikson was leaving lunar orbit, and would soon reach the two-gee acceleration rate that she would maintain until she reached the first plateau. They would spend the better part of the next five years covering the almost eight light years distance to CN Leo, and only two years of that with the inertial gravity.

Too late now to request reassignment. Maybe I should have asked to go on the Columbus mission, too. Maybe Davis is crazy, but I’ve heard he’s a good tech to work with.

It’d have to be better than putting up with these two clowns.


Sparrow said...

It's looking good! I'm not too far behind you... I'm keeping almost a day ahead, so far.

Debra Gray-Elliott said...

Wow! I'm only at 5055 words. You're doing great! Love the story.