Google+ The Bluestocking Firefly: Boarding the ERV Waratah

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Boarding the ERV Waratah

It seems that lately getting myself to write means staying up late. Goodness knows I wasn't planning on staying up until almost two, but never mind. I kept getting held up trying to find things. Names are hard...

Anyway, here's the next section. Shorter than intended, but at least they're out of the chute and actually into the ship.

Links to the rest of this story may be found here.

“Gravity’s still functioning,” Taz said as he stood up and took an experimental step. “You can feel it from the other side of the hull.” He tapped the ship’s shiny surface and frowned. “You said you know how to open this thing?”

Amy regarded the access port with her hands on her hips. “It should respond to a passcode.”

“What, like some kind of algorithm? Some kind of sequential thing?”

Amy laughed. “Well, sure, but I think in this case you might want to think a little less high-tech. Breaking and entering and theft of ships of this size wasn’t a big problem during the Empire.” Awkwardly, she unzipped a pocket of her suit and pulled out a notebook. Ignoring the two men, she thumbed through the pages until she found the page of quickly-scrawled notes on Apollo-class ships. “Apollos are christened with a name and serial number,” she read. “The serial number will open the outer access ports, while the name will open the inner ones.” She looked up. “And wouldn’t you know it, I have both written down. Clever me.”

Grayson stepped back with an elaborate flourish. “Would you care to do the honours, Doctor Jones?”

Amy took a deep breath and stepped up to the sleek box to the left of the door. Flipping open the cover, she keyed in
SV-997 and waited, holding her breath. There was a moment of stillness, and then the chute rumbled beneath their feet as the access port detached inwards and rolled away from the opening. The lights in the space just beyond the hatch flickered and lit up, illuminating a cylindrical area roughly ten feet by fifteen. Another access hatch blocked the far end.

Slinging the strap to the canister over her shoulder and picking up the plastic case, Amy squared her shoulders and stepped through into the passageway. As Grayson and Taz moved to follow, the chute shook and Benji slid out at an angle. Grayson paused with his foot on the lip of the access port and glanced down at Benji as the shorter man got to his feet.

“Come along then, Harris,” he said. “Before Jones blows a blood vessel.”

“If the last one in will hit the blue switch, the hatch should seal behind you,” Amy said as she moved to the end of the passageway and turned her attention to the second access port, setting down the supply case beside the bulkhead. Behind her, Benji punched the blinking blue button; it flashed once and then glowed steadily as the door rolled back across the opening. The floor vibrated, and for a moment there was silence, followed by a gentle hiss that grew steadily louder, until finally Benji said,

“Does anyone else hear that?”

Taz lifted his head and squinted overhead between the lights. “She’s repressurising.”

“Amy, do these ships usually have the kind of resources to keep powered up for hundreds of years?” Grayson asked.

Amy glanced back at him, her gaze troubled. “Not that I’m aware,” she replied. “To the best of my knowledge, she should have powered down once her crew abandoned ship and stayed that way until someone issued a command from the flight deck to power back up. Repressurising violates the power-down command. There’s no need for atmosphere with no crew on board.” She hesitated, and then added, “Although it’ll make our lives easier if we don’t have to bother with the suits while we’re on board.”

“I’d rather keep them until we can ascertain what the atmospheric condition is throughout the ship.” Grayson watched as Amy returned her attention to the control panel beside the inner hatch, and then said, “Any luck?”

“In a moment,” she said. She returned her notepad to its pocket and tapped
ERV Waratah into the keypad.

“What’s the
ERV stand for?” Grayson asked over her shoulder.

“Empire Research Vessel.” Amy stood back as the hatch rolled back. “We’ve got air,” she said, and picked up the supply case again. “Shall we go see what the Empire has left us?”

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