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CHAPTER 1: The Discretion
A ring in the sky.
Like God’s eye.
But, it’s just me,
trying to be free.
Capt. Atticus Elliot positioned himself under the artificial gravity control (AGC) display interface and tried to open the access panel. Ever since he purchased the Discretion, an old GS ring ship, the AGC plating had been randomly switching on and off, and the changes in gravity had been making him queasy.
The access panel was stubborn and wasn’t coming off easily, so he reached for the flathead screwdriver to try to pry it lose. He reached all around where it should have been, even lifting his legs, rolling side to side and feeling under himself. He started to get up and the sudden 2 gravities slammed him back down. Now, he was pissed. He began feeling around again and found a wrench…”hell, good enough…damn ship!” He whacked the panel’s stuck left lock with the tri-wrench and it made a loud bang and a dent. The gravity returned to Earth normal, which caused him pause for a second. He pulled back the wrench to hit it once more and in doing so, struck the bottom of the AGC interface. The artificial gravity switched back on and the access panel fell off with the corner just missing his face.
With the panel open, he peered inside. He didn’t really know what he was looking for…just something wrong. He reached up and used the control interface to pull himself farther into the compartment through the access hole. As he did, the artificial gravity switched off again, returning the ship to one gravity. Everything in the compartment was covered in dust. Internal starship components weren’t meant to be covered in dust he thought. He blew away some of the dust with a large puff. This just stirred everything up and he started to cough. “Bad idea.” He grabbed a cloth from his pocket and began to carefully dust the components so he could see if anything looked fried.
Nothing! He couldn’t see anything that looked unusual. Not sure that he knew what unusual would look like, except something obvious, a broken cable, something burnt, something loose; the normal signs of anything mechanical that is broken. As he laid half in the access hole, he heard the hatch open and before he could ask “Hello?” he smelled her. His heart started to pound and his throat got tight. Excitedly, he yelled “Just a second!” and pushed himself out of the access hole. When Amelia said “Hi.” from so close, it startled him and he sat up with a start, his head hitting a home run on the bottom of the AGC interface. The artificial gravity switched on again and they both fell to the floor, unprepared for the sudden doubling of their weight. As they both lay there looking at each other, wincing, a thought occurred to him. “maybe it’s the control display?, every time I touch that damn thing…”. Half of him wanted terribly to get up and pull the panel apart in the joy that he might have finally found the problem, but the other half just wanted to lie there and look into her blue eyes.
Amelia started to get up under the strain, and he said “hold on!” and gave the AGC display a good whack. Without the artificial gravity, she flew to her feet almost effortlessly. “Damn! He said. “Why didn’t I try the whack test first!? No matter how advanced or complicated things get, a good whack still works.” She looked at him smiling, trying not to laugh.
Then she noticed the blood running down his forehead from underneath his scruffy blonde hair. She ran to the galley and got some disposable towels, wetted them and came back. She was helping him get up and he went to reach for the AGC display as support, aborted the moved and fell back to the floor. “Sorry! Didn’t want to touch the display again and have us hit the floor for a second time.” He crawled from underneath the display panel and she helped him up and over to the couch. He was in heaven, smelling her and touching her as she tended to his cut. Being in her arms was the ultimate paradise and for the first time in his life, he could see something that would make him forget all his crazy schemes and dreams of exploration. For everything that he had ever been searching for was right here.
His hand reached a little too low and she said “Attie, don’t, I’ve gone back to my husband and I can’t.” He pulled his hand away and tried to hold back his emotions as he thought about the last year with her. She sensed it and laid him down, with the piece of disposable towel pressed against his forehead. “Do you have a regenerator in here?”.
“Well, its just a small cut, it’ll be ok” and she bent over and kissed it. He looked into her blue eyes and he could see the dilation of her pupils. Her left hand slowly lifted his shirt and her fingers ran up his chest. She always had a thing for his chest. At first, he let her without trying anything back, but he knew she would let him rub her chest. It was fair and logical. A chest for a chest. And she was a logical woman. Taking the risk, he lifted her shirt. She didn’t respond. His right hand slipped under her bra feeling her erect nipple. She inhaled and withdrew her hand from his chest. She then looked up. “The hatch is open and the windows are clear, people could see!”, but before he could get up to change the conditions, she was already heading out the hatch. She turned around to look at him again, as she tucked her shirt back in and waved her now shaking hand.
He said “I love you!” and she ran off down the ramp. He stumbled for the main window to watch her go, but as he leaned on the AGC panel to get a better look, the artificial gravity came back on. He laid on the floor for quite a while, drained emotionally and in physical pain. He couldn’t take this anymore. He had to get away.
When he heard a clang against the hull, he realized that the hatch was still open and the artificial gravity was still on. That wasn’t supposed to happen. The artificial gravity plating was only meant to be used when the ship was sealed, for the ship itself acted as a Ronari Cage, just like a metal box acts as Faraday cage, except this was for gravity. He regained control of his emotions and stumbled over to the hatch and looked at the 4 door switches that were supposed to tell the system the hatch was open. With quad redundancy, he doubted that this was the problem. It had to all be in the control display panel. Then someone from the outside yelled. “Do you have your AG on?! All my shit is rolling toward your ship!” Atticus slammed the hatch while yelling “Sorry!”.
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