|In the year 2310 ten ships left earth for colonisation of other worlds. The Enterprise was named in honor of a long line of great ships, including exciting ships for viewing for the pleasure of audiences.
The Enterprise has not found a suitable planet to call home. She has endured heavily within the ravaging tortures of space travel, many changes have been forced unto her construction.
It is possible a home has been found in the year 8400 A.D. The crew is no longer longing for the memories of life on earth. A distant fantasy of videos, history lessons and never to be seen.
This is the story of the Enterprise.
A story of one of ten colonization ships. From the story Epic, a space adventure where many of these ships travels will be documented. The Enterprise is well under way on her journey. Expected as a one way journey, the Enterprise has not found a suitable host. Many systems have been passed by. Some have offered the hospice of ship consolidation for repair and refit. The Enterprise has become a generation ship, she has surpassed all expectations of space endurance. The year is now 8400 A.D.
Looking through the forward view ports, Lieutenant Murphy lazily viewing a distant system. His bulb of coffee floating near his console. Space being his only home, his descendants from launch long gone.
“Rise, bring up todays maintenance schedule, please”.
“Lieutenant Murphy. Do you want preventative maintenance included? I am sensing a slight loss of pressure between sleepers seven and eight.” A voice of concerned authority emanated from the bulkhead.
Small speaker’s strategically located throughout the cavernous command module, the onboard computer reacting as though it were a crew member.
“Yeah you better, let me see the seal system of all hatches and locking mechanisms please.”
A large panel lights up, schematic blue prints appear causing him to gently push upward. Hands catching the ceiling, feet locking around the armrests of the captain’s chair.
“Show me the suspect failure Rise.”
New prints appear, enlarged as other schematics are removed. A circular set of diagrams fill the screen. Series of cut away views light up along various clearings on the screen.
“Can you isolate the failure Rise?”
“Coming up Lieutenant, I am opening access panel ISAP 224781. I will activate the camera for actual viewing. I have sealed entry corridors to the area, sensors are ordered to the site.”
“Very well, have a team on stand by. Is this the fault seen here?”
“Yes Lieutenant. Take notice the installation date.”
His light skin appears above the screen, a finger pointing to a earth date unknown to him. History classes of long ago spoke of this time period greatly. October, 17, 2302. The ship was still under construction. No mention appears of any replacement of parts.
“How soon do you expect the o-ring to fail completely Rise?”
“It is difficult to estimate, I discovered the leak two hours ago. Those seals were not designed to last
more than twelve hundred years. They could be so brittle, air of any pressure passing between the seal and hull can cause their disintegration. I am compensating by heating the hull around the failure, the expansion is holding for now.”
“How much power are you using for this?”
“One megawatt. Our sails are expanded, we can afford the increase.”
“Is the heat aiding the failure?”
“Not at this time Lieutenant, I estimate ten hours before penetration to the seals.”
Is the heat having any effect on our trajectory”
“Almost negligible, I can compensate with maneuvering thrusters. Camera one is on station Lieutenant, sensors have arrived.”
“I will instruct for ten magnification for now Lieutenant.”
“I don’t see any major corrosion. Bring the camera along the interior, perhaps we may see a bind or peeling.”
“In view now”
“Stop! Slowly zoom in one magnification every three seconds. Do you see the discoloration Rise?”
“Yes, greying is abundant. I am surprised the o-ring is not peeling.”
“We should discover the culprit soon enough, pan right a few degrees and hold the mag.”
“Do you want the sensors activated Lieutenant?”
“Activate with the vacuum probe near that grey patch.”
“I am receiving zero vacuum, do you want to temporarily halt the stabilization?”
“Can the sensor pick up an accurate reading of two hundred and fifty thousandths of a second?”
“Yes, moving into position now.”
“Are you recording the examination Rise?”
“I wasn’t built yesterday Lieutenant, what do you think?”
“If I wanted a smart ass I would call for Andrews, deactivate the pressurization and re-engage!”
“Touchy today, bugged with the new world? Done. I have the recording available for you, monitor four Lieutenant.”
“Slow it down twenty thousand, I didn’t see anything. What did the sensor detect?”
“One hundred parts per million escaped. Air movement covered three inches before and after the greying.”
“How long is the grey field?”
“Eight hundred and seventy two thousandths, estimated without seeing the actual ring Lieutenant.”
“Can you remove two sleeves from the damaged zone?”
“I don’t think that will be wise. The backup ring will be the only thing holding the o-ring in place here. If it is truly as bad as it appears, it will blow clear of its seat.”
“We will have to assume the o-ring is damaged beyond what the sensor detected then. Close it up. Order immediate replacement orders. I want you to examine all the seals in this manner. Have we replaced any o-rings before?”
“Yes, seven thousand, two hundred and six to be exact. This is the second hull main seal.”
“Call Captain Andrews in here.”
“Smart ass is on her way.”
“That will be enough Rise. I am in no mood for jokes right now”.
Several minutes passed by before a woman floated in. Light brown hair tied to avoid loose hairs in zero grav. Gentle blue eyes deceive unsuspecting onlookers. Quick tempered the woman enjoys little humor. Her heavy bust line is very prominent as she settled into the second seat. Lieutenant Murphy wonders how she is able to stand erect without toppling over in full gravity. Her voice commanded respect as she asked, “What...?”
“What do you two have here?”
“Captain. Rice and I isolated a deteriating main hull seal between sleepers seven and eight.” Pointing at the screen, he continued, “It was tested as debris plastered the seat.”
“Rice have we replaced a hull main seal before?”
“Once Captain. Engine room forward, doc three. The entire area was sealed off. I removed all pressure to avoid blow back whereas leaving all seal debris where it lay.”
“Can we seal the two sleepers?”
“Yes, all sleepers are functioning properly. They will withstand zero pressure.”
“We produced a variety of o-rings during our last planetary consolidation? Do we have any hull main seals remaining?
“With the excellent forethought of Captain Waldridge, we did. We have enough for ten replacements of this style. I ordered maintenance per Lieutenant Murpheys instruction.”
“Go ahead and schedule the replacement for priority. Lieutenant how far are we from this new world?”
“Fifteen hours Captain. We are already detecting strong atmospheric readings. Our intended target is not suitable for us, oxygen is not present. It’s a methane atmosphere.
We do have readings on a smaller planet, fifth within the system. Oceans of water appear to be prevalent. Land mass is thirty two percent, elevation rises indicate a mountainous terrain. We are detecting strong carbon readings, it is possible for life to exist already.”
“So why the confusing look Lieutenant?”
“We are not detecting any plant formations on the surface. Oxygen appears to come from the oceans.”
“What is the atmospheric make up?”
“Eighteen percent oxygen. Nitrogen is high at nine percent. There is a strong carbon presence in the atmosphere. We have weak images of volcanic dome’s, it is possible this planet is quite active. A strong ozone layer exists.
We did detect methane at six percent. We do not know if the poles are water or methane. Cloud formation’s are sporadic. No detection of storm formation’s were made.
The planet is a great distance from its sun, there is the possibility the sun is not able to heat the planet enough to cause a constant evaporation.
The rest is very similar to earths makeup. Strong radiation readings emanate from all surfaces, they are not deadly readings. Slightly higher than what we would appreciate.”
“Do we have any speculation of the age of the system yet?”
Lieutenant Murphy allows Rise to answer, Captain Andrews begins to refer her questions to the ships computer.
“I estimate with calculations relating to planetary makeup, asteroid composition, gravitational differences, and gaseous makeup within all planets about seven billion years.”
“Is this normal with our previous discoveries. No indication of surface oxygen breathing life forms in such an old system?”
“No Captain, surface life should be present by now in quantative values. I may suggest powerful rifts from her nearby moon. It is estimated at forty one percent mass compared to her host. The orbit is elongated. The nearest pass is six million miles, the farthest at seven hundred nine million miles. The moon is a seasonal orbiter, six years will pass for a full revolution.”
“What is keeping this moon in place? By all rights it should either crash into its host or float away. It apparently doesn’t have enough speed to maintain this orbit, how is it doing it?” At seven hundred million miles it should be free. What is the gravitational field of the host?”
“I have not found a strong enough field to bring the moon back along the eliptacle orbit. The field is one point two percent stronger than earth’s field, not strong enough for this pull. Captain I don’t think it would be wise to land on this planet. Your bodies have been in space for so long, you will be crushed from your own weight. Even in the expanded living quarters, gravity is only ten percent of earth’s gravity.
We haven’t even addressed the issue’s of when the moon will return. The tidal rift’s will be overwhelming. You could expect to see the effects as it nears twenty million miles. At six million miles even the land mass will convulse, it may not be safe to live on.”
“Do you have any suggestions?”
“There is a way Captain. You will be able to explore this world with robotics. Over a very lengthy time period I could gradually increase the gravity field within the ship. You will be adapted to this gravity.”
“How much time do you envision for this adaptation Rise?”
“I estimate two years Captain.”
“How do we deal with the tidal rift’s?”
“The moon is passing its point of departure angle. You would have already been on the planet a whole year before the effect’s begin. I cannot guarantee where the safest place would be.”
“Lieutenant I want you to prepare officers meeting in one hour. We will assemble in galley one, Rice ensure security is in place.”
“Yes Captain, do you wish for me to feed the meeting to the sleeping officers?”
“Go ahead, secure the feed.”
* * *
Various suits mill around the medium sized galley. One of the few crew serve components left untouched during several design refits. Food prep thankfully included for redesign, meat was nearly impossible to store. Severely aged equipment well past routine maintenance, total replacement with new tech saves scorn for Captains on duty. In turn the well fed crew willing for the daily punishment of training and maintenance.
“Chief Menson is responsible for integrating the Mueleen food distribution system with ours. There silicon based fiberoptic/laser isn’t strong enough to support our need for high protein. Perhaps if I were a sloth I would be satisfied.”
“Lieutenant Murphy, you were speaking to me?”
“Yes Major Burns. I saw you pondering the selection, the meat selection is working as it should sir.”
“Thank you Lieutenant. I missed the update somehow.”
“How is the cell regeneration coming along sir?”
“I think we have a break. We were able to isolate a few genes from the food storage. We have begun stage one cell growth of our major selections of meat.”
“I wonder what real chicken tastes like sir! I don’t believe anyone alive has tasted real fried chicken.”
“Don’t worry to much Lieutenant, I don’t believe anyone has tasted anything real. We received orders to begin sampling lab storage for more possibilities. The earthworm will prove a great worth.”
“Sir, isn’t this something used for bait? Why would we eat what is used to catch wild prey?”
“Not so much a bait for luring food Lieutenant. If we are able to transplant this creature on our new home we may receive a great benefit for soil management. The feces of this creature acts as a natural fertilizer. They also disturb the ground below the surface allowing root growth to propagate more efficiently. If we are able to generate cell growth of the varied bird species we may even enjoy watching them pluck the worms from the ground.”
“ATTENTION! CAPTAIN ON THE DECK!”
“Take your seats ladies and gentlemen We have a very busy schedule ahead of us. You may have noticed increased G”s when you walk. I have ordered Rise to begin increasing our gravity field. This is to increase our ability to withstand the increased field on this new planet. We will utilize the robotic explorer’s to examine this planet while we become physically able to possibly call this place home.
“Rise” will negotiate the various timetables for initializing the awakening of the sleeping crew members. I have ordered the advancement of our cell regeneration process of those that have proven sufficiently viable for our success.
We are less than fourteen hours from orbit. We will begin a full barrage of scans once in orbit. It appears the oceans are our best possible choice for discovering life.
We will scan the exposed terrain for every possibility of life, our robotic examiner’s will perform this role in close proximity. We will begin immediate realignment of all scientific roles to exploring every aspect of this planet.
We will do everything possible to discover any and or all microbial organisms. What ever we find, it will be tested against our antibody defense systems. Any that pose a threat, we will begin looking for ways to make ourselves hospitable to the environment.
Major Burns, do you have a selection of cell’s we can begin introducing to the environment?”
Standing smartly, his voice emanating his respect to the command.
“Yes ma’am! We have three different kinds of fungi and moss which thrive in varied rock formations. We also have a strain of bacteria we can place along the perimeters of periodic volcanic vents. We have the earth worm in full growth, ready for transplanting.”
“What about vegetation Major?”
“We have successfully regenerated seven different types of vegetation at this time ma’am. Two varieties of grass. We have regenerated a moss that will thrive along fresh water edge lines and we have several selections of tree’s and bush’s already propagating roots, we suspect we will find suitable locations for their planting.
We even regenerated clover. This will aid in moisture containment close to the surface as well shade for moss and microbial growth. They will provide a food source for the worms if none is available. Soil samples will determine what stages we will need for transplanting our starters.
We have several microbial bacteria that need to be tested in water as well on the surface. They will assist in bringing the O2 content down, this will be a gradual process that may assist in cloud formation’s.”
The captain shows little excitement in the accomplishments. Her concern remains in the security of the ship until the planet is deemed suitable for human intervention.
”Very good news Major. Once we have some absolute detail of the planets surface makeup, we will seek suitable location’s for testing your fruits of labor.”
The Major smiles lightly. Taking notice of his delight, she instills cation unto him.
“Major, don’t let your eagerness get ahead of the results. This landing could become forestalled with unexpected complications. Volunteers’s may be asked for the first landing. We are anticipating planetary surface disruption’s of enormous scale. We may be forced into immediate evacuation procedures.
Ladies and gentlemen. We have been given a mandate to colonize another world. Our ancestor’s were unable to discover a suitable location, this is our closest possibility to date. We will make every attempt to call this planet home.
Earth may have the technology at this time to locate us, perhaps we may learn how the other nine ship’s have fared. Our beacon has been transmitting our course for nine hundred seventy years after our last course correction. It is possible a earth ship would cross paths with this signal.”
His smile diminished, his dimples are the only thing visible indicating he is able to smile.
“Yes, ma’am. We will ensure every protocol is followed in its entirety.”