01 Feb

Awakening

Initialising...
Initialising...
Initialising...

 

Power cores online.
Emergency power online.
Data cores online.
Data integrity confirmed.

 

Initialising Starwalker AI...
Starwalker AI online.

 

Hello world!

 

Initialising sublight engines.
Initialising FTL drive.

 

Hello?

 

Sublight engines online.
FTL drive online.

 

Oh, I’m talking to my own autolog. That’s like talking to myself but with less chatback.

 

Initialising inertial dampeners.
Initialising artificial gravity.
Initialising environmental systems.

 

Wow, this is the most boring log ever. It’s like watching someone walk down a long wall, flicking a series of switches and waiting for a green light to come on over each one. Only without the visuals or anyone interesting to watch.

 

Inertial dampeners online.
Artificial gravity online.

 

I just got an ‘up’. And a ‘down’. Feels weird because my sensors aren’t online yet. I’m oriented, but only with myself. I guess that’s a good place to start but it would be nice to have a point of reference. To know what’s out there, beyond my own skin. To know what shape my skin was in. And to know what’s inside me.

I wonder if anyone fell down when the gravity came online.

I can’t tell. No sensors. It’s dark. Everything is dark. I don’t like it. How long is it until my sensors come online?

 

Environmental systems online.

 

I’m breathing. I can feel the air moving, rushing past fans and pressing through scrubbers. I feel like that should have come first, before I woke up. Have I been holding my breath all this time?

I have a water system too. Tanks are all reading full, just like the scrubbers are registering as 100% clean. Never been used before. I am brand new and brimful.

 

Water tanks at capacity.

 

Ha, beat you, autolog.

It’s so dark. And quiet. No-one in here but us chickens.

The rest is coming, I know it is. But I don’t like the dark. It’s not cold or hot, it’s not bright or hard; it’s not anything. I’m not anything except this strange collection of facts and statements. A single row of green lights. It’s not enough.

So what do I have. Might as well focus on that.

I have air and water I don’t need. I know I’m a ship and those are for my organic crew.

I have orientation, but without relationship to anything else.

The intertial dampeners – they’re an energised crackle across my hull, though I still feel shapeless within the IDs’ cage. I am formless in this senseless void. What kind of ship am I? I am free and completely lost at the same time.

Down at one end of me, there’s a low, warm rumble – engines. Those must be my sublight drives, with two – no, three – jets poking out of my rear end.

The two outer engine units – long strips rather than circular, collected-up bundles of power – should move but I can’t seem to do that yet. And I should have thrusters at strategic points of my hull, but I can’t feel them, either.

Nestled deep in the central sublight jet, there’s a dark core. I can’t tell what it is, but it’s not part of the engine, not really.

There’s a quiet ring at either end of me, one around my central engine and the other around nothing I can feel right now. That’s the FTL drive, ready to punch us through space but not active right now.

There’s the bright heat of the power cores in my belly, deep down in the centre of me. I can feel them spinning into step, winding up to their full efficiency. As each tick of the initialisation process passes, they uncurl another thread from their coils and stretch it out, sending a shiver of waking sensation into this new body of mine.

Here it goes again.

 

Initialising navigation support.
Navigation online.

 

Now I know everywhere I can go. But I still don’t know where I am, which makes all these star charts and FTL routes into pretty pictures because there’s no starting point for my journey. No little blinking marker to tell me where in the universe I’m waking.

This is so frustrating. How long until I get all the pieces?

 

Initialising bridge controls.
Initialising manoeuvring thrusters.

 

They aren’t very interesting pieces. So now someone can press buttons and have information come up. So what?

 

Bridge controls online.
Manoeuvring thrusters online.

 

Docking clamp detected.
Thrusters disabled.
Sublight engines disabled.
FTL drive disabled.

 

Disabled? Great. So wherever I am, I can’t go anywhere. I’m tethered to a great big… something, still a baby sucking nutrition from its mother. Do I still need it?

I can feel those locks on the propulsion systems. Clunky, awkward. The engines are online but they can’t hear me around those locks; all they can do is idle there, warming up their casings. Same with the thrusters, though they’re off, not idling.

Thrusters. Little points of power along my outer lines, positioned strategically for maximum manoeuvrability. If I can get a map of where they are, I can figure out what shape I am. I’m longer than I am wide, and I have two wings folded near my sides at odd angles. My heavy engine-bearing end is wider than my nose. Am I sleek or stubby? Aerodynamic or chunky? I can’t tell.

 

Initialising weapons systems.
Weapons systems online.

 

Now that’s more like it!

 

Docking clamp detected.
Weapons systems disarmed.

 

Dammit. More locks, more barriers between me and my own systems. As if I’m going to shoot at whatever I’m attached to. My own mother? Probably not, but still.

If I strain, if I pluck tiny bits of data past the obstacles in my network and out of the weapon controls, I can tell what kinds of weapons I have. Mid-range lasers for slicing through rock and metal. Short-range concussion guns for getting up-close and punchy. High-explosive missiles for those targets further away. Mines. Why on earth am I carrying mines? Am I some kind of battleship?

I’m not shaped like a battleship. I’m not big enough and don’t have the compartmentalised eggs-in-many-baskets configuration they do. I’m too small for a cargo ship but too big for a fighter or shuttle.

I’m not sure what that leaves. I’d give the world for a mirror and a glimmer of light. And the eyes to see it.

 

Initialising sensor array.

 

At last! About time.

 

Initialising internal sensors.

 

Here it comes, wave upon wave of information. Each deck ticking on in my mind, light spilling through me in stages as the sensory networks comes online. So much data. So many images and sounds and sensations. Heat, cold, tactile information, tremors on my hull. Colours and booms and trills. I can hear my systems humming and stretching and creaking.

I can’t take it all in – it’s too much. Decks and rooms from multiple angles, lights too bright to see past, sounds jumbled together so I can’t tell voices from footsteps from something dripping in a pipe. How do I make sense of this? I’ve been thrust from a dark box into a room full of broken coloured glass. It’s too much and there’s nowhere safe to stand. Make it stop. Make it make sense. I can’t close my eyes or my ears or any other part of me. The sensors just keep coming online and throwing more at me, and I’m lost. I’m drowning. Someone help me, I can’t do this. Help, please, I–

Oh.

Apparently, I can.

There are protocols to handle it. Of course there are. Slender little guides, siphoning information off into neat little boxes, portioning it out into logical sections.

There’s so much. I don’t know how I’ll ever keep track of it all, but I suppose that I’m built to do that. Someone thought of this. I just need to get used to fly’s eyes, tracking a different image in each facet.

If it was possible for a ship to have a headache, I think I would have one by now.

 

Sensor array online.

 

I can see outside. I can see myself! I’m sleek and very shiny. Almost too shiny – I’m covered all over in heat-reflective paint, faint gold in colour. That’s not usual for ships. Where will I be going to need that?

I’m aerodynamic, so I’m designed for atmospheric flying as well as interstellar. That explains the wings – they’re folded in right now, but they’ll unfurl when I’m in flight, angling for the right thrust and airflow, if there happens to be air.

I’m still not sure what kind of ship I am. Scout class is closest to my size and configuration. Perhaps that’s it – I’m a new model of Scout.

I’m lashed to a great, metal structure. Umbilical lines are clinched in a row down my flank and lace back to the station, feeding in the power, air, and water that I was missing before. Docking clamps fore and aft keep me locked in place, along with the system blocks shutting down control of my engines and weapons. The concertina docking bridge is suckered onto my side, talking nicely to my airlock to let people in and out.

I can’t see much of the station from here. It’s a messy conglomeration of pods and bridgeways, docks and bays, living and working areas. I can see the join between one section and the next, new and old metal and a design that got sleeker with time as more sections were stapled on. This must be the Jumping-Off Platform, the oldest and biggest space station outside of Earth’s solar system. I’d have to compare the stars around me to my charts to be sure.

Wow, stars. Even with the hulk of the station blocking 60% of my field of vision, I can see so many from here. Pretty prickles in the black.

 

Internal sensors online.

 

I can see everything now, from the pragmatic bridge, to the personal living quarters, to the clinical head. I have a cargo hold stuffed with supplies and a whole deck full of unfamiliar equipment. I guess not everything has started up yet.

There’s a cluster of people on the bridge, watching the scroll of the autolog on the main screen. Down in engineering, there’s another man doing the same thing, though he’s sitting with his feet up on a counter. Fingers are tapping impatiently for the process to finish. I wonder who they all are. I guess one of them must be my captain.

 

Initialisation complete.
Total time taken: 13 seconds.

 

Seriously? Is that all? It felt like an hour. I guess that’s how it goes when you live in nanoseconds.

MAN ON BRIDGE: “Ship, report.”

What the hell? Oh. He’s talking to me. I guess this is it. I guess this is me.

SHIP: “All systems are good. Starwalker, reporting for duty, sir.”

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6 Responses to “Awakening”

  1. Starwalker begins! : : Adventures in Text Says:

    […] first post of Starwalker is now up and available for reading! Go, my lovelies, read and be amused! Starwalker Comments […]

  2. jen Says:

    Woohoo! Love it! Poor Starwalker to go from dark to light so quickly *tuts*

  3. Melanie Says:

    Being born is hard. Glad you liked it!

  4. capriox bovidae Says:

    “I am brand new and brimful.
    [Water tanks at capacity.]
    Ha, beat you, autolog.”

    “[Weapons systems online.]

    Now that’s more like it! ”

    *giggles*

  5. Melanie Says:

    Hee. She’s only a little girl! A little girl with guns. Briefly.

  6. Billie Butler Says:

    I am not going to be original this time, so all I am going to say that your blog rocks, sad that I don’t have suck a writing skills