Goodbye Sol – Page 2

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I watched as Asher crouched down and opened the drawer below his cryopod. He took out a small gray case and opened it. He unfolded a pair of wire framed glasses, put them on and stumbled towards the door to the engineering compartment. He avoided tripping on the two empty cryopods that extended slightly into the corridor. It was easy to tell that despite his current state, he had navigated the area so often that he didn’t really need to see or even feel his way towards the engines. A few moments after the door shut behind him, the alarm stopped.

“I’ll double check the cryopods then, I guess,” I said to no one in particular as I was left alone in the main section of the LD.
We all had our tasks to complete, no matter what situation the ship was in when we woke up, and mine was to confirm that we could go back into cryo.
I grabbed my scanner from my locker across from my pod, a small device, it was independent from the ship’s systems. It was one of the main tools of my trade and this one in particular was my favourite.
“Computer, Anaya’s wake-up playlist one, please.”
Instantly, the first song started to swell over the speakers in the main compartment.
I had gone through dozens of playlists over the years, but the first one that I had created always seemed to be the best at getting my brain back on track. It was full of high energy songs that had the familiarity of a close friend. It reminded me of home.
I walked from one cryopod to the next, tapping on the display, putting each unit into its diagnostic mode. I used my handheld scanner to analyze the data from each unit in turn. Typically, it would take a skilled medical technician two hours to do five cryopods, but over the years I had reduced that time to just under eighty minutes.
After finishing the first pod, my music stopped and I heard the captain’s voice through the comm speaker. It was rough, with gravel tones and mucus. I would not be surprised if he had to come to get medication from me to reduce the swelling and pain that he was likely feeling.
“Anaya and Asher, can you guys come in here?” There was a click as the comm turned off followed by another as it turned back on. “Please.”
My music continued from where it left off. I put away my scanner and stretched my arms up to the ceiling while taking a deep breath. “Computer, end playback,” I said, and the music stopped.
Asher emerged from the engine room still sounding quite groggy. “I guess he found something.” There was a natural sway to the way Asher walked, even after he recovered from cryosleep, it was as though he was stumbling gracefully, like he didn’t care where he placed his feet, but also that he knew whatever he did would be right.
I nodded and as he walked towards me. I tried to think of something to say to fill the vacuum of silence in the conversation, but it was still difficult to think straight. “You coming around okay?” I asked.
“Yeah. It’s always rough, but I’m feeling more myself all the time.” Stopping at the middle of the ship, Asher opened a locker across from his cryopod and grabbed a thin metal chain. He slipped it over his head, tucked the small trinket on the end of it into his tunic, and kicked the door shut.
“I get that.” I nodded. “Let me know if you feel anything unusual, okay? We have been out here a while and cryosleep still isn’t a perfect science.”
“Are you feeling anything unusual?” He asked. His brow suddenly furrowed, eyes wide and mouth downturned.
“No, I’m fine.”
“Good. We can’t lose our medical person,” he said with a grin.
As we arrived at the door to the bridge, I slammed my open palm on the button beside the door and it hissed open. We walked onto the bridge, Asher leading, with me right behind him.
“Hey guys, nice to see ya again!” The captain said energetically, though the beads of sweat on his ghostly pale face told a different story.
I knew that the stim I had given him must have made him feel terrible.
The bridge consoles were all enabled and with the overhead lights dim, the three large displays were illuminating most of the bridge. The stations were set-up in a triangle, with the captain’s chair front and center, Asher’s station behind and to the right, and my station behind and to the left.
Asher stood beside me, feet shoulder width apart, hands folded behind his back. “Sir.” He said with a small nod.
“I found out why we were woken up. We’re not at our destination yet, but we have found company.”
He motioned for us both to take our seats, and gestured at his computer, an image simultaneously appeared on all three screens. A long thin tube with three long fan shaped engines, and two large tapered rectangle shaped solar panels rotated slowly.
“Is that the Raven?” I asked. I turned to look at Asher and he shrugged.
“I don’t know what else it could be,” Emeric replied.
“Looks like an old extrasolar probe of some sort,” Asher said. He leaned forward in his chair to get a closer look as he simultaneously zoomed in on the image. “It’s shoddy construction at best. Barely room for engines, let alone any people.”
“It was the first mission sent from Earth to complete the AU Prize.” The captain explained. “Two people, sent out about twenty years ago now. A man and a woman.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Their ship stopped broadcasting a few years before we left. They’ve been in cryosleep the whole way out here.”
“Are they alive?” Asher asked.
I checked the readings on my computer screen. “No life signs, but if their cryopods are still working then they could still be alive.”
“Well, that’s good.” Asher said.
I wasn’t so sure. I thought about the research that had been done since the Raven left and how it showed that long term cryosleep had been proven to not be good.
“According to the computer, we are still twenty-six hours away from an intercept,” Emeric said in an almost whining tone. “The stupid computer woke us all up freaking out about our proximity when we still have over one whole earth day to adjust speed and correct our heading. A little bit of an over reaction, don’t you think?”
He was looking up at the ceiling as he said the last part. I could only assume he was addressing the computer directly. It didn’t respond.

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