stellar ships react to a planetary emergency/A child and adult discuss sound in space/...
The transport shuddered as it lifted toward the great stellar ship. Children and adults whimpered and moaned as the g-forces pressed them down.
Outside, explosive bursts star-flashed around the hundreds of inertia lifts carrying humanity from the planet's surface. Hundreds of thousands of lives would find refuge within the huge star-transports of which, Goliath was one; but, so many more would not leave the planet in time before the pending geophysical forces tore it apart.
Millions would perish with their planet this day.
Zanghorn, sat strapped into his command chair watching monitors. He had a bird's eye view of the break up of New Zeus. The horizon within his viewing monitors showed other star transports, some larger than the Goliath, many more smaller, all in the frantic process of a world wide rescue.
His third officer had received the galactic distress from New Zeus just as they were getting ready to engage their interstellar drive at the edge of the Sorbdad planetary system. They had left New Zeus with a cargo of heavy machinery, having completed a routine stop over. The urgency of the distress message required immediate action. O3 Bishop woke his Captain and within an hour the cargo was dumped on an ice planet and the Goliath sped back to New Zeus. One hundred and ninety seven hours after receiving the distress call, Captain Zanghorn had all his transports in position to start evacuation. His ship was designed to carry ten passengers and his crew of fifteen, as well as a full cargo. With his cargo bays empty, he could uncomfortably squeeze in seven thousand people, give or take a couple hundred. This wave was the last he would be able to hold safely. Purposely, he refused to look at the monitors showing the milling, frantic crowds of humanity he wouldn't be able to lift from the dying planet.
"Ali, prepare to receive the last boats. We leave orbit twelve minutes after the last boat is secured, so hustle up down there."
"But Captain, if we ditch half our boats we can gather another couple thousand people."
Zanghorn bit his lip. The thought was very tempting. "You have my orders, Mister. Secure the boats and the refugees in about fifteen minutes."
"Aye, Aye, Captain."
Another two thousand refugees wouldn't be plausible. Zanghorn didn't believe there would be time to return to the surface, load the boats, and lift off before the planet self destructed. His eyes strayed to a monitor showing part of the crowd left on the surface. A middle aged man held up a child to the skies and screamed. Captain Zanghorn ripped his gaze from the monitor. He couldn't save them.
The ship shuddered as the boats, ten of them, docked and locked at their perspective births.
"Captain, the last boat is secured."
"Noted. Secure the refugees."
A molten rip tore through the surface of the planet. Zanghorn's face went pale as he realized he didn't have six minutes, let alone twelve, as the planet break up escalated.
He watched as the planet diameter shrank and knew everyone had run out of time. He hit the ship wide alarms and the emergency collision beacons and initiated the emergency boost rockets.
"Ensign Varner, get us out of here."
The pilot didn't answer his captain, his hands were full maneuvering around slower orbiting ships and applying more thrust against what visually appeared to be greater gravity. In reality the planet was exploding and the faster he pushed the ship away didn't quite compensate for the abrupt speed of the planet debris expanding toward them.
"Full power--now." Everyone aboard the Goliath felt the immense surge of the ship pushing away. Zanghorn caught sight of some of the smaller ships totally engulfed before they could retreat. He gripped the arms of his command chair as g-forces pushed him into the cushions. He watched as most of the ships on this side of the planet escaped the fiery debris of a dying world.
The Silence of Space
"But Anfrid, I'm telling you that you will never be able to experience the total lack of sound of space simply because you require atmosphere to survive."
"But what if..."
"No what ifs apply. In order for you to exist in the vacuum of space you require an environmental suit at the very least. Since there is air in the suit around your auditory appendages.."
"Ears, Franky. These are called ears." Anfrid tugged down on the lobe of his right ear to emphasize his declaration."
"Yes, right...Since there is air around your, um ears, you will always be hearing something."
"That's why I hear my breathing and heart beat when I do space work?"
"So how do you know that space is really silent?"
"The instruments that pick up sound waves, don't work in deep space. That is how we know."
Anfrid screwed up her nose and slowly shook her head. "But Franky, radios work in space. We talk on radio all the time?"
Francis Arh Malcem shook his head in mild frustration. He chewed his bottom lip to keep from responding with the impatience he felt toward the ten year old girl. How could a being who sees sound through his peripheral forehead appendages explain to a human child with the limited range of 'ears,' that sound requires a medium to disturb in order to be heard by a human?
"Shouldn't you be doing something with your parent at this time?"
Anfrid Marie Garrison shook her head and smiled. "Nope, I don't have to be anywhere for another hour."
It was a moment of calm. These moments didn't happen often, so Rolm made it a point to take in a deep breath of cool autumn air and smell the joy of the world around him. He closed his eyes and listened to the quiet murmer of several women as they pounded grain into a course flour. A group of children laughed as a game of tag came to an energetic end. The season promised a bounty unexpected but welcome. He savored the smell of roasting antelope and hot flatbread. Hunting and foraging in this new land fed the people well. The old were healthy and the children were robust. Bellies were satisfied. Even the ever distrustful Shaman smiled and told the old stories about heroes successfully meeting the challenges set them by the Gods.
Rolm opened his eyes as a shadow passed over his face. He looked into the green eyes of his second wife as she leaned over him with a gourd of warm goat's milk. Indeed, life was good and these rare moments were to be treasured and savored because tomorrow was promised to no one.