The First Version 1995 - Chapter 19
This is the very first typed version of Eric Olafson's Story (from 1995) . I put it here out of reguest of my oldest and first fan and reader, who wanted to re-read the first Version that made him start reading "Galactic Chronicles".
I think it is also shows the progress of the story and is a neat way for me to keep the old stuff as a searchable reference.
VANDERSTRAAT NEBULAEdit“I am taking my ship out for a shakedown cruise after we received some upgrades. I thought you might want to come along.”
“Yes Sir I sure would.” “My crew is back and my ships upgrades and refits are done. I am eager to leave dirt side and go back where I belong.” “I just started my Career but I sure know what you mean!”
From a Trans Planet mover we went to an IST and after another short trip we emerged into a well lit featureless tunnel and I followed him to a set of thick Ultronit reinforced air lock doors, currently wide open, guarded by two Marines. They snapped in attention as he approached and one barked:” Captain aboard!” This was the first time I stepped on a space ship of this size. The corridor was slightly curved, with air locks and force field curtains every ten meters all currently open or deactivated. Even the recycled air smelled differently. The smell was a mixture of metal polish, metal, coffee and that undefined scent brand new vehicles had. There was a faint hum in the background that transcended everything and spoke of the unimaginable energies harnessed deep down in Engineering. I tried my best to keep up with the Shiss when he stopped. A round massive metal door slid into the wall in less than a heartbeat and we stepped onto the bridge! For me it was as if I stepped into Odin’s banquet hall! A sacred, holy place I never hoped to see so soon. The horse shoe shaped room had six duty stations arranged before a raised command module. The Shiss said.” This is the bridge, Mr. Erickson and here are my senior officers.” He made a gesture including the entire room “Yes Captain, Sir! Captain Zez It is, Sir!” “Eric this is not the Academy. You don’t have to salute on the bridge. That distracts. If you come here all you do is give a nod to whoever is at the Con But you do repeat any order given while manning any of these duty stations. Don’t snap in attention when someone looks at you. This is not the parade ground. So relax a bit. Understood?” “Yes Sir.” A Klack stepped down from the Command unit and said.” I am Lt Commander Xnartoo and the XO of this ship. Welcome aboard Ensign.” Klacks looked very much like giant man sized ants. “Thank you Sir. I am Eric Olafson.” The Klack XO turned to the Captain:” The new ISAH packs are installed and so are all upgrades. The board shows green and we’re cleared by the Yard to take her for a spin.” “We spend to long dirt side my old friend. Let’s get some vacuum under the keel.” “Indeed Captain. Three Month at the Yard and I don’t want to see another upgrade for a long while.” Captain Zez introduced me to the others on the bridge. I was surprised by the relaxed, friendly atmosphere on this bridge. Those where high ranking officers I always thought would not give a second thought to a lowly Midshipman. He began on the left.” This is the Communications Console and currently occupied by Lt. Miglar, he is a Takian but don’t let his rocky exterior fool you he is an excellent linguist and intelligence officer.” Takians came from a very hot planet and had a crystalline scaled skin that made them look almost like pine cones.” Don’t listen to the Captain, Ensign. I even have problems with standard.” “I am sure it helps to have three brains to remember all those linguistics.” I said smiling. Miglar laughed.” Indeed it does!” Zez went on to the next Console.” This is the tactical station. Weapon and shield control. It’s the domain of Lt. Rider from Pluto. He is always there even when he is supposed to be off duty, except when he crawls through gun turrets or torpedo tubes. You won’t find a better ship weapon expert anywhere, not even on the flag ship, the Devastator.” He nodded towards the other stations.” We are somewhat understaffed right now. The regular crew is still on leave but we don’t need them for a Shakedown and test the new engines.” Zez crossed his arms.” Now let’s get this show on the road. Since we are understaffed on the bridge as well I am going to take OPS. Ensign you have the Con. Take her out.” “Sir?” “You are to take the ship out, Ensign.” “Sir you want me to take he ship out from the Con position?” “I want you to take the ship out while sitting or standing where ever you want. I am at OPS and right here in case you need help. Consider this hand on training!” I swallowed and with shaky legs climbed into the Command chair. As I sat down into the soft pseudo leather, the chair adjusted to my body. The master command console swung under my right hand and the direct access panel under my left. A bank of smaller screens lowered from the ceiling. This was what I always wanted to do. This was my true calling. Sitting here felt so right! Still shaken by a storm of emotions my voice sounded squeaky to my ears but I knew what I had to do! “Mr. Miglar contact Port control and ask for the earliest departure window.” “Aye Sir.” I didn’t know how I should address the Captain who now manned the OPS duty station:” Captain, Sir Ops, inform all personnel of our imminent departure. Give me a crew completion count and a cargo transfer status, please Sir.” “I am on it Sir!” He turned.” Forget that I am the Captain for a while. Don’t give orders and then ask with a please. Just tell me and the others what to do!” “Aye, Sir!” Miglar said:” Sir, Arsenal Control gives us a departure window for 1200.” I glanced at the chronometer. It was 1105 now. “Ops here. Crew count complete. Ground crew will complete all cargo activities in 2 minutes.” My left middle finger moved the direct access slider of the board communication system to Main Engineering. ”A bearded face appeared on one of the smaller screens above me.” Lt Commander Woodstock here, Engineering.” “Engine Status, Mr. Woodstock?” “We are ready to go Sir. All tanks are max and all reactors are on ready for standby!” “Cut all umbilicals and go to full standby.” “Aye Sir, Full standby in 3 minutes.” “OPS sound final boarding alert and secure all hatches airlocks and run a level 5 hull integrity test.” “Aye Sir.” I glanced at the Chronometer and at 1135 I said:” Sound General Quarters.” The hull integrity board showed green, meaning the ship was hermetically sealed and space worthy. The regular bridge lights dimmed away, replaced by an eerie red light of the Battle station lighting. The Klack responded at 1142. All stations report battle stations sir!” I acknowledged with a nod. “OPS sound external lift off warning. COMM contact Port Control we are at T minus 18.” “Port Control contacted.” “Helm activate Grav at neutral zero. Stand by for position adjustment and retract landing gear.” That command would activate the ships Artificial Gravitation field and hold it hovering. The Artifical Gravitation effectively neutralized the ships weight to zero, but not it’s mass and even a slight wind could push a zero grav ship to the side. The Hyperion was a 2000 meter battle ship and even few meter moves to either side could make us collide with ground equipment or buildings and cause damage. That is why the helms man had to keep station with reaction thrusters. At 1158 I said.” Mr. Rider activate battle shields.” He turned with a questioning face.” Battle Shields, Sir?” Zez barked.” You heard the command Mr. Rider!” “Aye Sir Battle shields!” I ignored the incident and at 1159 I leaned back:” Helm, Aft Grav to minus 5 Percent.” The ship now had negative weight and was pushed by the planet’s gravitation into the sky. This was called the gentle lift off. To push millions of tons of mass even at zero weight with standard thrusters would have caused a storm of biblical proportions on the planet surface. Only after we passed through the thick sulfur clouds I gave the command:” Helm grav negative 12, Main thrusters at 1 percent. Comm.: Send port control standard lift off message!” After we passed the last traces of atmosphere I said.” Helm standard orbit. XO stand down from General Quarters, Tactical deactivate battle Shields.” Zez turned. “Why orbit?” “Sir I don’t know what course you want.” Zez pointed to the main screen. This is a shakedown cruise. Pick one!” “Aye Sir, Helm lay in a course to the Vanderstraat Nebulae, engage all Engines full. After FTL threshold go to max cruise.” Zez got up and so did I. The normal lights had come back on.” That was not bad at all, Ensign. I had no idea they teach battle ship maneuvering at the first year.” “They do not sir as far as I know.” The Klack wiggled his antenna.” All they get to steer are D12’s” Zez pointed his clawed finger at Rider.” Mr. Rider that was bad! What was that all about?” The Tactical officer made a sheepish face.” Sir I am sorry, but that Greenhorn ordered shields. Who ever heard of taking off with full battle shields?” Zez looked at me.” Why don’t you explain it to him why you ordered General Quarters and shields?” “Sir, it was the first time I did that for real and in the event I made a mistake and you had to interfere all crew would be at their posts and no time be lost. I asked for shields because in a high traffic place like Arsenal II there is a slim chance that a civilian craft, some automated cargo drone or other object comes into the flight path of a ship at lift off. I wanted to make sure we do not get damaged in case of such a collision also all shields automatically adjust to the best aerodynamic shape inside an atmosphere this would push any object in our path aside and reduces drag to near zero, reducing Grav strain and conserves energy.” Rider stepped back.” Whoa you had a whole catalog of sound reasons. You aren’t really a Sophomore Freshman!” He laughed toward Zez.” You had me believe it too. What is he really? Commander, Captain?” “He really is a Midshipman and this is no joke, Mr. Rider. If you do this again and question a command given by the person at the Conn I have you removed from post! We serve a long time now and we are friends but don’t test my resolve in this regard!” Rider lowered his head and nodded.” I won’t Sir!” Zez looked over the shoulder of the Helmsman and then to me.” Why the Vanderstraat Nebulae?” “You said any course Sir and I always wanted to see that Nebulae close up. It is deep in Union space and thus very unlikely we run into any trouble with untested systems.” “Sound reasoning! Vanderstraat it is.” Rider was still staring at me and after a while even Zezzh noticed.” What is it, Mr. Rider? Never seen a Midshipman before?” “I have never seen one displaying the Medal of Honor Sir.” That caught the attention of everyone on the bridge and everyone looked at me. Zezz revealed his sharp teeth.” He earned it too. I assure you! Now all of you, pay attention to your boards!” to me he said.” I release you from the Con now. Take OPS!”
The Vanderstraat nebulae were even more spectacular than I thought it would be. Every shave of red glowed from the recent Super Nova in the ring shaped nebula. OPS was a very demanding post and I had to keep my concentration to my task. Ops was short for ship operations and Ops is an extremely confusing post. The Ops officer is responsible for coordinating ship activities so as to not overload any systems. Also handles communications, hailing, ship to ship, away teams, etc. Ops also handles all transporter operations, and monitors away teams status. Ops fills in for Helm when necessary. The Ops officer is also required to work to bring all the stations who work at bridge together. They being Science, Environmental, Engineering, etc. OPS mans sensors. This was one of the most complicated positions and demanded much of me, but I couldn’t wait for rest periods to be over so I could be back on the bridge. The ten weeks went by faster than I hoped and the USS Hyperion returned to the Arsenal system. The Klack XO touched my face with his antennae.” You have been outstanding at the OPS station. I’ve seen more experienced officers struggle with this position.” “Thank you Sir. Your guidance and the tutor ship of the other bridge officers was the real reason I managed.” To Zezzh the XO said. Can we not request him to have his third year posting right here on the Hyperion? ”I wanted that too, but his third year posting was arranged before we met. Rider shook my hand as well.” Good luck Olafson. This is a mighty big Navy but I have a feeling we meet again.”