The First Version 1995 - Chapter 6

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.

The Author


4 month had passed since I came to Camp Idyllic , but it seemed like a life time ago. Before I joined the Navy time had little meaning to me I realized. It meant not much to any civilian. What was the difference if you slept in a minute or took a little longer to eat your meal?

To a Cadet at the Academy, a minute had sixty seconds and each second counted. Instead of getting up at 0400, getting up at 0350 was a better idea. In ten minutes you could shave, bathe, polish your boots and have time for mending a rip on your uniform. Yes they made us do small repairs. One time a Cadet voiced his anger about the futility of using such primitive tools , when we had auto dressers and Nanite factories that could make an entire uniform in the time it took us to sew a button on. Aurellius heard it and said.” Mr. Winsun do you agree with Cadet Appletree’s complaint. Do you think this a waste of training time?” Winsun bolted upright dropped his jacket he was working on and snapped in attention.” Sir this Cadet will perform repair tasks as requested but I must say I also do not see the reason why we have to know this.” “Mr. Olafson. I noticed you are quite handy with needle and threat and it seems you did that before you came here. Tell me why?” Like Winsun I bolted up.” Sir the culture I was raised in finds value in such activities. A Neo Viking sews his first pants out of Tyranno fin leather and only then is allowed to sit at the men’s table and eat with the warriors. The leather has to come from his first kill.” “So your skills are born out of tradition and your native culture. So if you would be stranded on a planet, you could make a net to fish, fashion you perhaps protective garments or even a tent.” “I imagine I could, Sir.” Aurelius motioned us to sit down.” Yes we have Nanite factories and auto dressers and it would be no problem supplying you all with new uniforms every day, have auto-beds that make and clean themselves and why not a modern Colgate Complete Body Hygiene Center that does all the shaving and grooming for you?” Applegate nodded.” Why not Sir?” To be stranded on a planet might never happen to any of you but you need to know what to do when it happens. We still expect you to be officers of the Navy and be as well groomed as possible. Even if you never get rescued and remain on that planet for the rest of your life. Such basic skills will help you find solutions to problems as basic as shelter, food, survival and defense. The simple skill to know how to sew can be applied or combined with other skills to manufacture weapons, traps solutions to obstacles and maintain your sanity because you will be able to improve your situation. Next week you will learn basic carpentry skills, know how bricks are laid , how a pot can be made out of clay and how metal can be cast. All those skills might never be needed but if they do you be glad you know how to use an old fashioned hammer or needle and threat. Let’s say you are on a planetary survey mission. You are the Officer in charge of the survey party and you come across a primitive civilization. You don’t speak their language and the linguistic translator still has problems translating. But you see a group of them mending nets. So instead of being totally clueless you can join them , take up a tool and sit down with the locals and help mend nets. This breaks down barriers faster than any display of superior tech that might frighten them or make them hostile. You might pick up phrases and begin to understand them faster than the Lingu-Processor. This has happened and might happen again.” He sighed and went on.” When you see a Battle ship you think all the Navy does is parade around in known space and fight wars. This is of course part of our duty, but space is vast and there is plenty of unknown space inside the boundaries of Union territory. This means there are endless combinations of situations you might have to face. We can’t give you guide lines for all of them, but we can give you all a working base that covers as much about our combined civilizations knowledge as we can cram into you.” Mr. Appetree I want you to take the afternoon of, go to the library and research how many times the skill of sewing came in handy to an officer. You have access to every report and log entry Navy personnel made in the last 3000 years. Tomorrow I want you to give us a lecture on that.”

Weapons training was one of my favorite subjects. It was fascinating just how many different weapons all the known species had come up with .Narth said it didn’t surprise him that Terrans where the unchallenged champions I that field. Remembering the lecture on sewing no one questioned the reason why we had to learn how to use clubs, spears and swords among many other primitive weapons. I had learned to throw axes and harpoons from as soon as I could walk and the instructor for primitive weaponry was very pleased with my results and even let me show others how to fight with an axe.

The next week we where all boarding a shuttle and ferried to an orbital station above Idyllic under zero G conditions. Where we had to learn how to fight, make repairs and live in free fall. Id did pretty good in Zero G as long as we stayed inside the station and I could see walls and my mind had a clear reference for what was up or down, despite the fact that this was meaning less. But when we had to work outside on tethers or with propulsion packs I almost failed the class. Deep space terrified me in a way I didn’t think possible. I learned that it was not a good idea to throw up inside a space suit and despite my first experience I threw up three times after that. Only because I knew I would fail and asked to leave I forced myself not to give up.

“Are you well?” Narth asked after we returned from our latest space walk.” “No I am not alright!” I snapped at him and immediately felt sorry for snapping at him, since I knew his concern was genuine. Narth didn’t like direct contact very much but he put his hand on my shoulder anyway.” I admire you for your courage to go out there despite the fear you feel.” “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.” “Eric, remember I see your thoughts and know you did not mean it. No apologies necessary.” His presence and the friendship I felt for him made me relax and I looked back through the Airlock window and shivered involuntarily.” I need to get used to it, somehow. What kind of officer would I be, being afraid of the very place I want to be.” Our Zero Gee Instructor, Lt Heinlein gave the sign and we collapsed our helmets. Heinlein was not a Navy Officer but a Marine , detached to train us. Like all marines I met, he was physically in peak condition. He displayed the pride he felt in his branch of service every breathing moment and radiated an aggressive confident readiness even when he slept.” Mr. Olafson is that the way I showed you how to use the Multi – tool?” He referred to my sloppy job at the simulated repair job I had to perform at an instrument cluster pod. “No Sir.” “Do you want to report to the Psych Section, maybe they can do something about your condition.” “No Sir. I am however volunteering to return and correct my mistake, Sir!” “Accepted! Go out there and fix it. I am going to inspect it later!” “Aye Sir!” I activated the helmet and the filmy transparent slid out the collar encased my head and became rigid. I pressed my teeth so hard together that my jaws hurt as I went back into the Airlock. The old station had no membrane locks and relied the old two door cycle. Heinlein’s voice came through the Com unit.” Take your time, Mr. Olafson. This is not a combat damage control job.” I had to force my teeth apart and a pressed.” Aye Sir!” came over my lips. A trip to the Psych Ward would make them find out I was terrified of space and that would have meant the end of my chances to become an officer. The door opened and I walked outside. The sensor module was only 1000 meters away from the station and clearly visible in my head up display. But I would have to cross the 1000 meters using the propulsion pack without a tether. My muscles seemed frozen and I couldn’t make them move as I stood at the edge. My stomach cramped to a rock and forced sour and bitter tasting bile into my throat making me gag. This time there weren’t any others. I was alone! Just as I was ready to abandon my idea to go forward and accept going to the Psych Ward I could hear my father’s voice and heard him laugh.” I knew you would come crawling back!” I pushed off and the momentum alone would give me enough speed to reach the platform. I needed the prop pack only to adjust the trajectory. I realized I had my eyes pressed shut and almost missed the cluster. Once I reached the array it wasn’t so bad. The construct gave me some sense of distance and mass. I recited the names of all the Aseir while I used the multi tool to tighten bolts. No modern structures used bolts but usually molecular deep level adhesives but this was a training construct and every form of fasteners where used of various tech levels. Working in free fall was much like working under water without the drag so this part was not to difficult for me. I managed to return. The other cadets had of course showered, eaten dinner, the Airlock area was deserted. It took me a little longer to get out of the suit. My hands where still shaking. Lt. Heinlein appeared just as I hung the suit away.” Do you want to go to Psych now?” I shook my head, thought better and straightened out.” No Sir. If my work was not satisfactory I will volunteer to return and correct it.” “You would?” ”Aye Sir.” “I haven’t checked on your work. Are you not sure it is done correctly?” “Sir I tightened all bolts as required to the specified torque. I have not overlooked any and did all 72 bolts.” “So why would you want to go out then and correct it?” “Sir the opinion and observation of a Cadet might not always be the same as those of an Instructor. Your evaluation of my job performance outweighs my opinion of it.” “ A tight bolt is a tight bolt, no matter who checks it. I know you suffer from severe Cento phobia or Space phobia.. There are treatment options available but I must say you would have made a good marine.” “A Marine, Sir?” “We all are afraid of something and to be more stubborn than your fear and go at it anyway that’s the hallmark of a good solider, Son! Well we see how good a Marine you really would have made, tomorrow for sure!” I was not sure if he wanted a response so I kept silent He turned to leaver.” Tomorrow we do Orbital Assault Jumps.” As he went to the door he added.” Now get cleaned up, find some chow and hit the rack!”

Orbital assault jumps where usually reserved for Marines, but our instructors insisted we needed to get qualified as well. Heinlein seemed especially happy today and it was clear he looked forward to the exercise.” Terrans are the only species we know of that developed this form of planetary assault. A man in a space suit is a very small target and it takes very sophisticated tracking and sensor technology to even detect a man sized target. Since no other species we know of ever even considered doing what we are about to do, the element of surprise is on our side and a powerful tactical advantage. Marines often debark light hour or more away from the intended target and use low signature mini jumps to get closer, or travel the entire distance in sub light. If you don’t know what to look for or to expect, Marines can rain on your planet undetected and cause some real damage before you even know they came. You are officers and it might come the day you are assigned to do gather Intel and you are deployed that way. It might come the day your space ship has been blown to bits from under your behind and you need to reach planetary surface. You can do an orbital jump with almost any space suit, given the thing has thrusters or syntho-grav to slow you down. Well we won’t let you try it in some sub standard equipment so you all going to be equipped with real Marine Quasimodos. So it’s going to be a piece of cake!” A planet looks incredibly big from a space ship. Being outside in a Marine Destroyer suit approaching a planet from a six-hundred klick orbit was the most terrifying experience in my life so far. I made it, I landed. 17 kilometers off my intended target but I made it and I sank to my knees and actually kissed the ground when I finally had solid ground under my legs again and felt the welcome push of natural gravity. Surprisingly Heinlein did not comment on me missing the landing coordinates and handed me the Orbital jump batch and I was qualified. During one deep space exercise we had to use mini jump drives and find a probe, repair it and return. The jump drives made the suits into mini space ships. My jump drive mal functioned and I missed the target area by almost six light hours. All systems except basic life support failed right after I returned to real space and I floated absolutely alone in deep space. Idyllic’s sun was just a bright star. It was so quiet I could hear my own breathing and my heart beat. It was the scariest sound I ever heard. In my mind it underlined the fact I was utterly lost in an environment so vast no one could possibly find a little speck like me. I was very afraid. In any other situation I could probably think of something, but here I was completely out of options. Space suits where marvels of modern technology and had an abundance of fail safe systems, back ups and redundancy systems. Why my suit failed so completely was unexplainable to me. The Communications unit was down, so was the on board AI . Without the computronic I could not use diagnostics or use the repair nanites. The back up computronic was out as well, all I could think of was some sort of EMP that might caused this system wide failure. Deep Space suits like this one where equipped with an Auto Doc. A medical expert system able to diagnose and treat many problems with a variety of drugs and state of the art medical nanites. In case similar to mine, the Auto Doc could induce a cryogenic sleep state and reduce life functions to a bare minimum allowing the occupant of the suit to stay alive for many years. But the Auto Doc was just as unresponsive as the rest of the systems. The small indicator panel showed me I had air for another hour, without the recycling systems I would run out of breathable air. Heating still seemed to work, at least I would not freeze to death. My last hope was that the emergency beacon worked. It was supposed to activate in a case like this and had it’s own energy supply. Our instructors would know by now I was missing, but every attempt to search for me without a working beacon was absolutely futile. The chances to see a space ship where just as astronomic, even if a vessel would come close, it would be so fast I could not see it and then there was no light source out here that could reflect enough photons so my eyes could see an object. I was tempted to open the suit and make a quick end. The Laser torch in my tool belt would slice it open fast. The air became stale and my heart was beating harder, I listened to my labored breathing and closed my eyes. This was it. I wondered what would be after death. Was there something? Would I wake in Valhalla and be the laughingstock of all real Vikings for eternity? I was never very religious and considered the belief of my people artificial superstition. Now this close to death, I wondered if there was a God and if there was anything I should have done differently. With those thoughts on my mind I became sleepy.

--“”’— When I came to my first thought was that there was life after death! But that thought was soon dispelled and I was sure I was still alive. I found myself in sick bay on a diagnostic unit. A Medo-Bot hovered nearby in observation mode and a Med tech I had seen around a few times before grinned.” Welcome back Mr. Olafson.” “They found me?” “Well to be exact you haven’t been lost, but you are back at the base and you can get up. There is nothing wrong with you.” I got up and feeling solid ground under my feet was a very welcome feeling indeed. Commander Letsgo stood in the door.” It was a test Olafson. It was noticed you fear deep space and we had to make sure you are able to function besides your fear. Especially since you refused Psych” I frowned.” Deep down I had a feeling it was a test, the failure of all systems was to complete to be a mal function, but with all due respect Sir. This was a rotten thing to do!” Letsgo grinned.’ I agree it was rotten, but you want to be an officer and those tests are part of it. I personally believe you knew it was a test, none of your stress factors rose significantly even to the end.” “The end wasn’t so bad. The worse thing was to find out I was lost and nothing worked. Once I knew I could do nothing I accepted the fact, but I think I am going to re evaluate my opinion on religion and see if there is one that fits me.” The commander stepped out into the corridor.” Think of it as a shock cure. The next time you go out in space you won’t feel that much fear, you survived the worst possibility already.” I wondered if he was right. I did not stay at the Orbital station but returned to Camp Idyllic.


<--pervious next-->

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