Lift Off

From Create Your Own Story

After four weeks of training, the Officers and Crew of the 5-EX were ready to depart for deep space. The ship was fueled and provisioned. The navigational computer updated with the latest data. And all personal belongs were either onboard or had been sent home.

Commander Smith sat in the Command Chair; across the circular console that dominated the Control Room sat the First Officer, Lieutenant Faraday. Tucked away in the corner of the Control Room was the Communications and Navigations console manned by the Second Officer, Lieutenant Moonwatcher, while Chief Wallace and Ensign Palmer were at the controls on the upper platform.

The rest of the crew, including the Cook, Petty Officer Second Class Callahan, were strapped into their bunks. The ship's engines had been warmed up and their idling filled the crowded interior of the craft with a low, steady hum.

"On my mark," Commander Smith said, his right hand gripping a lever, his left poised over a set of buttons. "Five...four...three..."

Lieutenant Faraday hands were both hovering over his controls. He licked his lips and tensed. Despite having made many such take-offs, this first one after such an extended time planet-side, had him wide alert and on edge.


Commander Smith jerked on the lever, pulling it quickly towards him while he jabbed at several buttons in quick succession. Lieutenant Faraday also danced his hands over buttons and switches.

The 5-EX shuddered briefly then shot skyward. Lieutenant Faraday worked the controls that retracted the landing gear while Commander Smith steered the ship through the Earth's atmosphere, heading it ever upwards toward the ionosphere and beyond.

"Watch your trim," he spoke to Ensign Palmer but kept his eyes glued to the dials and indicators on his own console.

In minutes the ship had left Earth's atmosphere and within a few more had passed Luna.

"Sound the All-Clear?" Lieutenant Faraday asked. Normally, when leaving a planet, the 5-EX would execute its jump into hyper-drive at that point. But the Solar System was too crowded with traffic to create a disturbance in the space-time continuum. It would be a few hours, even with steady acceleration, for the craft to get far enough out for Commander Smith to deem it safe.

"Alright," Smith answered after a few moments pause. "But tell them the Control Room is off-limits. We can't be bothered with some greenie sight-seeing."

Faraday did as directed, telling the Enlisted Men that they were free to leave their bunks and could freely move around on the Mess Deck but were not to enter the Control Room until further notice.

A few minutes later a Southern drawl over Commander Smith's shoulder asked, "Coffee, Captain?"

The young Cook had known the restriction to the Control Room did not apply to him and held a tray with a pot and five cups. Commander Smith declined as did Lieutenant Faraday, but both Ensign Palmer and Chief Wallace accepted, as did Lieutenant Moonwatcher.

"Cookie," Commander Smith called to the young man as he left the control room, "Close the partition and don't let anyone in here."

"Aye, aye, Captain," the Cook said, stepping onto the Mess Deck and reaching up to pull the folding fireproof panels into place.

Later, much later, Lieutenant Moonwatcher announced, "We are at our jump point now."

He was referring to an arbitrary spot he had picked that was far enough away from any inhabited moons or space stations and well out of the normal traffic lanes for a jump into Hyper Space to be made.

Commander Smith flicked a switch and leaned towards the microphone at this console. "Now hear this. All hands to your Acceleration Stations. All hands to your Acceleration Stations."

Back on the Mess Deck the crew members who were not in their bunks, returned to them. The Cook made a quick check of the area and the galley to assure nothing lose was lying about, and hurried to strap himself into his own rack. Like the semi-civilian scientists or "reservists", he, too, would have to lie in his bunk with the AcCel Field humming and flickering, its eerie blue glow enveloping him. He would have to lie there for at least thirty minutes, possibly longer, until the Skipper again sounded the "All-Clear."

The one other crew member who was `regular' military was James Earl Callahan, the twenty-four year old Cook of the 5-EX. The cook cursed under his breath, but in a good-natured sort of way. He too, like the semi-civilian scientists or `reservists', would have to lie down in his bunk with the DeCel Field humming and flickering in its eerie blue glow enveloped him. He would have to lie there for at least thirty minutes, possibly longer, until the Skipper sounded the `All- Clear'. That meant the cakes he was baking would now be ruined, he lamented, as he turned off the ovens and did a quick check to make sure everything in the galley and the mess-deck was secure.

The five men in the Control Room worked efficiently and silently, exchanging only the necessary words needed to align the ship for it's "jump" into Hyper-Space. Finally, Commander Smith was satisfied everything was ready and he sounded the Klaxon.

"All bunks green except C-6," the Boatswain announced.

With a flip of a switch, Commander Smith once more activated the inter-craft. "Petty Officer Callahan! See why that man is not in his rack!"

The Commander's voice was hard and amplified as it was, sounded even harder. Later he would give that man, what was his name again, Doctor Latimer or Laminar or something like that, a thorough dressing down. Or not. Depending on his mood once they had landed.

A mild curse issued from the Cook's mouth as he un-strapped himself and turned off the AcCel Field. That knuckle-head of a scientist knew what would happen if he weren't inside a AcCel Field when the ship went into Hyper Space. There were probably uglier ways to die, but Callahan couldn't think of one. Having a body's molecular structure break down was not a pretty sight. He still had vivid memories of the 3D training video he had seen of that rat onboard the 2-EX. Everyone who served onboard an EX had to watch it.

The man was just snapping his shoulder straps in place when Callahan reached his bunk. "Doc, ya gotta get strapped and fielded. We're goin' into Hyper-Space any minute!"

"I...I was having some difficulty with the b-buckles," the Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and Structural Logic answered.

Callahan checked the thigh and shoulder straps. "Well, ya look fine now. Jest turn on the AcCel Field and don't forget to hold on to the hand-grips."

The Cook patted one of the two handles that was on each side of the bunk. "Get a good grip and don't let go fer nuthin'!"

As soon as the blue light began to shimmer and flicker around the man, Callahan returned to his own bed and once more strapped himself in and activated the Field."

Back in the Main Control Room, the Boatswain announced "All bunks green! Green for Go."

There were other verbal reports and two minutes before the jump, Commander Smith turned the six knobs to `Auto' and stood up. "AcCel, Gentleman!"

He strode over to the row of circles on the raised platform on the far side of the Main Control Room. Two poles ran from deck to overhead and once Commander Smith stepped into his circle and flipped the overhead switch, he gripped the poles firmly, spreading his feet apart so that each was pressed against a pole. The others did the same and they all awaited there for the jump.


SpaceShip5EX -


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