12 Feb

Castoff

Ship's log, 06:30, 12 February 2213
Location: JOP
Status: Docked

Today’s the day. Finally, after two whole weeks, I am going to do what a ship should: fly.

The delivery arrived last night. A heavy freighter powered into the JOP’s region about mid-afternoon (the Jumping-Off Platform is positioned where the fringes of several solar systems meet, so doesn’t really have a ‘system’ of its own to call home). After the usual deceleration manoeuvres, it took up a position in synchronous orbit with the station, and a flock of shuttles and tugs descended on it to unpick its load.

I didn’t speak to the ship. I thought about it, but my comms are mostly shut down right now and I’m not sure what I’d say to it anyway. I listened in on its transmissions to the station, though. It’s the Hyperion, recently out of Feras with a gutload of electronics bound for Earth. Some of its cargo pods are for other destinations, and they were peeled off for transfer to other cargo ships waiting here at the JOP. In one of them were the four crates we were waiting for.

It was a couple of hours before the crates made it to us. By then, it was evening and the captain forestalled my question about our departure by saying that the crew should have one last night on the station before we took off. The crates were shut away in one of my cargo holds unopened – apparently, we trust the Hyperion more than we do the JOP’s merchants.

The crew spent most of the night on the station. There are a few sore heads this morning – and from the looks of her hands and face, Rosie got into another barfight – but everyone was back on board before 06:00 this morning.

So here we are. It’s 06:30 and we’re ready to go. The captain and pilot are on the Bridge, and Elliott is monitoring everything from Engineering. I feel like there should be fireworks and a fanfare, and maybe a shattered bottle against my prow. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to go? Instead, I have Captain Deadpan and Pilot Superfluous, with Elliott the Bored down in back.

 

CAPTAIN: Starwalker, report.

STARWALKER: All crew on board and accounted for, captain. I have four passengers on the mid-deck. Airlocks are secure.

CAPT: Prepare for undocking.

SW: Preparing.

 

External communications activated.

 

SW: Jumping-Off Platform, this is the Starwalker, requesting permission to depart.

JOP: Request approved. Umbilicals disabled. Docking bridge retracting.

 

Umbilicals disconnected.
Ports closing.

 

There they go, popping off my side as if someone’s tearing down a perforation. A little spurt of a hiss before the ports seal up, smoothing my hull out. My internal systems are spinning up to take up the slack, and for the first time, I’m supporting my crew on my own. There’s a couple of creaks down in the air circulation ducts as the streams alter to account for the lack of intake, but they’re settling down now. No red lights.

The umbilicals are being sucked into their holes on the JOP, reeled in like stray Medusa strands. You’d never know they were housed there unless you had sensors like mine.

 

Docking bridge detached.

 

There it goes, concertina-ing back into the station’s side. The airlock is showing green and leak-free. My internal pressure is holding steady and none of my sensors are picking any anomalies. I am hale and whole.

 

Docking clamps released.

 

My last connection to the JOP is gone. A shift of pressure on my hull and they’re gone, padded jaws opening and retracting. The clamps don’t spit me out; they retreat from me.

I am free and floating.

 

Engines enabled.
Manoeuvring thrusters enabled.
Weapons systems enabled.

 

At last! The locks are falling away from my systems, like sloughing skin, or maybe the cocoon of a butterfly. I like the latter analogy better.

 

JOP: Undocking complete. Good luck, Starwalker.

SW: Thank you, JOP.

 

A little nudge from my forward thrusters peels me away from my position by the station’s side. A harder push from rear thrusters starts me on an arc out into the emptiness of space. There’s a faint rumble under my hull as my engines spin up, coming up to power while we wait for enough clearance from the station to engage. Mustn’t burn the JOP in our eagerness to get away.

 

SW: Undocking procedures complete, captain. Taxiing to minimum safe distance.

CAPT: Monaghan, report.

ELLIOTT: All systems green. We’re good to go.

CAPT: Take us to the FTL corridor to the Corsica system, Starwalker.

SW: Aye aye, captain.

 

Half a klick is enough room for me to safely engage the engines. Getting there gives me time to unfold my wings and test their manoeuverability. It feels good to flex them, spreading them like arms to embrace the space around me. I can go anywhere, do anything.

Half a klick: I flutter power through my wing-mounted engines and surge forward. Inertial dampeners suppress the jolt for the benefits of my delicate cargo, matching my thrust precisely. I set myself into a spin as the central engine kicks in for full acceleration, and feel like grinning.

I’m flying.

The JOP is shrinking behind me, falling by my wayside. I can see it all now as my vision expands with distance. Its strange conglomeration turns slowly in the black. There’s a clutter of ships around it, floating debris serviced by shuttles.

The JOP is where I started, but it’s not my mother. I don’t feel sorry for leaving it. I’m not scared to be moving out on my own, running under my own power; the only wrenches I have are in Elliott’s toolbox. I’m excited. At last, I’m on my way.

Everything is as it should be. I am a ship. My crew is with me.

I am flying.

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4 Responses to “Castoff”

  1. Orinks Says:

    Hi,

    Just wondering what this wordPress theme is? Or not? Basically, I want to know how I can schedule posts for updating and stuff like that.

    Thinking of creating one of these fictional blogs as well.

  2. Melanie Says:

    Hi Orinks!

    This site is based on the Danika theme (heavily modded). It’s a free theme – it’ll come up in a Google search.

    WordPress makes scheduling posts really easy. When you put your post together, you choose the date and time it goes up, hit save, and it does it all for you.

    I put up info about writing/producing a fictional blog on my writing website, or feel free to contact me directly if you want more specifics.

    Good luck!

  3. Angel Says:

    I love this part: Instead, I have Captain Deadpan and Pilot Superfluous, with Elliott the Bored down in back.

  4. Melanie Says:

    I had such fun writing that. I need to make up more nicknames for characters!