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Within ourselves

by Paul Glass 11 months ago in science fiction

Chapter One

The blackness of space was disturbed by the huge bulk of the IBC Pegasus. It tumbled in space jets of atmospheric gasses and fuel spewing from the gashes in her hull.

Michael awoke in the captain's chair with a sharp pain in his leg and a headache like he had never had before. As his eyes opened first all he saw was the orange glow of the electrical fires from the various control panels that littered the bridge. As his eyesight gradually became accustomed to the light however he began to make out the forms of people, some obviously dead with pieces of the metal pinning them to their seats, some just still maybe alive, maybe dead he couldn’t tell but some were stirring.

“Hello! What happened here.”

Michael yelled. He turned to the closest person he could see moving. A woman approximately five foot tall with long black curly hair. Blood was dripping from a gash in her forehead but she appeared to be otherwise unharmed. Michael began to call her name but as he did so he realized he didn’t know it. HE knew he should but the name would not come to him.

“Who are you?”

Then with horror a realization formed in his head.

“Who am I?”

The woman looked up at him with the same look.

“I don’t know”

Michael tried to get up from his chair to look around but a stabbing pain in his leg forced him back down. He looked down to find a piece of metal about 8 inches long sticking out of his left calf. The woman looked at him and the piece of metal and she ripped a piece of material of her black uniform shirt and begat to pad around the wound.

“Just pull it out!”

“you cant we need to get you to a doctor.”

“for all you know you are the doctor. Just pull the damn thing out now. I have to get out of this damn seat now pull the damn thing out and wrap that wound.”

The woman looked up at him with concern in her face but as Michael looked down at her she saw something in his eyes. Something that told her that whatever had happened they were going to need him somewhat mobile.

“ok here we go I'm going to try. I may not be able to if this metal is jagged inside the wound”

She grasped the piece of metal and began to move it slowly. Blood started to flow from the edges of the wound and as she looked at Michael she saw sweat start to tickle down his face and make tracks in the dirt and soot.

“ok I don’t think there are any spurs on that metal so I'm going to try and pull it out. We are going to have to bind it with something and find something to clean the wound out quickly or you are going to get an infection”

“I know just pull the damn thing out will you”

“ok I'm going to do it on the count of three you ready?”

Michael grasped the side of the seat as she counted.

“Ok here we go.. one..”

Before she even got to two she yanked the metal out of the wound and quickly pressed the piece of uniform she had up against the gash in Michaels calf. Michael turned a shade of green as obscenities flew out of his mouth.

“I thought you said three?”

“I lied.”

She said as she tore another piece of materiel off her sleeve and used it to bind the wound.

Almost before she finished Michael was trying to stand.

“look you should be as still as possi…..”

She trailed off as Michael shot a look at her

“right I get it ok.”

“Ok you seem to know a little about what you're doing.. .try to help those you can. I'm going to try and find out something about what happened.”

He hobbled over to a console at the back of the bridge that still seemed to have some life to it. The display was flickering but it was showing some information. His hands glided over the controls and he reached under the console to unplug a cable and replace it with another

“how do you know how to do that”

The woman asked as she tended to a unconscious man at their side

“I don’t know. I just do and I'm not asking questions right now. I'm going with what seems right and right now I apparently know how to get this console working and what this console does. This looks like it is an engineering console. If I'm right We should be able to see if the rest of the ship is in as bad a shape as we are. If I can get it working that is.” He stopped and looked at her “Look I don’t know my name, I don’t know your name, I can't remember what happened or anything about my personal life at all. When I look at this console though I know what it is I know what id does and I know how to fix it. I don’t know how or why but I'm going to go with what I have for now. I suggest you do the same.”

The woman nodded and kept tending to the wounded, a number of who were beginning to come around. Some were too badly injured to be moved, the woman tried to make them comfortable.

A yellow glow suddenly came on and Michael turned in his seat to survey the damage. Of the 10 consoles at the rear of the bridge, only the one he was working at had any sort of power to it. The huge screen at the front of the bridge was cracked . Of the two consoles at the front of the bridge, One eas definitely out of commission and the young man who was unfortunate enough to be sitting at it had her head Impaled through the console. The other one appeared to have power to it judging by the orange glow emanating from it.

“Ok Listen up” Michael said as he tried to stand up “ Does anyone remember who they are or who anyone else is? Do you recognize anyone?”

The 5 people that were conscious all looked at him with blank stares.

“Ok let's try another question. Does anyone know how to operate any of these two consoles?” Michael pointed to the console at the rear and the console at the front of the bridge .

A young woman, no older than 19 looked towards the front console and nervously raised her hand.

“I think I recognize that console. I… I think it’s for navigation. I don’t know I look at it and I just know.”

“Ok good go sit down there and try and work out where we are and if possible how we got here.”

“But what about WHO we are” yelled an older man

“Look, that's not Important right now. We need to figure out how we got into this mess and how to get out of it.”

The older man was about to start yelling at Michael again, but Michael cut him off before he could start again.

“You want to take over? Do you have any better ideas? If you do please take over. Look I don’t know who I am but I woke up in that chair in the middle and I seem to have 4 of these little gold bars on my collar I'm looking around and I don’t see anyone else with the same. Now we will assume for now that I'm in charge Anyone has a problem with that”

The man who yelled at Michael looked at him and felt at his own collar. He felt 3 bars of rank on his collar and he kept his mouth shut. Michael got the feeling that was not going to be the last he heard from him though but for now he had higher priorities

“Ok . I need everyone else to look around for anything familiar, Consoles, controls , tools, Anything! If you can, look for med kit's. We have wounded up here and we need to treat them here until we can remember where to take them. If you think you can get any consoles working try. The more information we have the better. Does anyone have anything to add?”

The young woman sitting at the working console at the front of the bridge suddenly jumped up

“SIR ……”

She looked kind of sheepish when she turned around and saw everyone looking at her

“Sorry it seemed right to call you that. But erm….. “

“That’s ok now what is it?” Michael asked her as he sat down heavily into his console seat. The pain in his leg was beginning to show on his face but the woman who bound his leg said nothing. She just looked at him concerned.

“If I read this right sir, we are not alone! As far as I can tell from this navigation console we are in open space, no planets but I'm seeing something large floating in space about 10 Kilometers dead ahead. As far as I can sir. It’s a ship!”

“can you tell anything else?”

“not from this console sir. All I can see is there is something large in front of us.”

“Ok you commander.” He pointed to the man with the three bars of rank “ I want you to take all the mobile personnel and try and make your way down to the engineering levels.”

The man looked at him as if he was crazy.

“look if I'm right you should be able to find your way.”

“What do you mean?” Asked the commander

“don’t you get it? We may not be able to remember who we are or who anyone else is but basic learned skills remain intact. I still know what all of these consoles do, Doc over there knows how to tend wounds and the helmsman up forward knows how to operate that console. I'm betting that you will know how to get to Engineering and once there at the very least help with repairs.”

The commander looked at him as if he was going to argue but he then looked down at Michaels leg and he knew Michael had to stay where he was.

“ok what do you need me to do”

“Gather as many people as you can on the way down there. As far as I can tell we have emergency power and that’s it, we have no communications , no offensive or defensive systems and the main computer core is offline. Communication is your priority. We need to communicate with the rest of the ship. After that try and get the main core online. I want to find out who we are”

“What are you going to do?’

“I'm going to try and do what I can from up here. Maybe get some of these consoles online.”

Michael pulled him to the side out of ear shot of most of the rest of the crew.

“look I know you don’t seem to like me for some reason but please trust me. I am doing the best I can to try and pull us all back together again ok?”

The Commander looked at Michael appraisingly and nodded. He turned around and motioned for the three crew members to help him pry the door open at the back of the bridge. With three men on one long piece of metal the door finally cracked. The commander and the three crewmen strained for all they were worth and finally made a gap large enough for them to fit through As the three crewman disappeared Michael called out to him

“Commander.”

The commander turned his head as he had his body half through the door and stopped.

“Sir?”

“Good luck”

“Sir.” With that he squeezed the rest of himself though the gap and disappeared. The gap now letting in an eerie orange glow of the emergency lighting.

The Helmsman and the doctor turned to look at Michael with expectant looks on their faces. Michael turned to look at them, the color slowly draining from his face as the pain from his leg grew.

“Ok Helmsman. I need you to try and pull the data cable from the conosel next to you and plug it into your console. That should give us sensor access if it is operational.”

The young helmsman looked over at the man slumped across the other console, The blood still dripping from the piece of composite Impaled through his skull. She turned white and began to stammer

“I .. I … I…”

“Helmsman. There is nothing we can do for him, he is gone. He may have been your best friend or even your lover, but right now I need you to focus ok. I need you to connect the data cable to your console. We need to Find out if what ever did this to us is still out there.”

She looked at Michael and then over at the dead officer, a tear started to trickle down the front of her dirt stained cheek. Michael forced himself to get up out of his chair and hobble over to the young Helmsman. He kneeled down in front of her and put his hands on her shoulders.

“When I look at you I know you can do what I'm asking of you. I might not know your name but I know I can trust you to do this. I know you are strong enough. I need you. I need you to do this for me ok.”

The helmsman looked into Michael's eyes and sniffed.

“Ok sir I'll try.”

“that’s all I ask.” With that Michael stood up again and hobbled back over to the chair at the back of the bridge. He had to use every stand and chair to lean against for support and he finally collapsed into the chair. As he did so the doctor jabbed a needle into his thigh.

“for the pain. You need it or your going to be no good to anyone”

Michael slumped into the chair and let the warmth of the painkiller wash through his veins. He momentarily let the feeling over take him before he shook it off and focused on the console.

“Can you do anything from here?”

Asked the Doctor as she peered over his shoulder

“I don’t know. I'm trying to run diagnostics on all systems but it's frustrating.. I have to access each individual subsystem separately. The main computer core is offline so there's no central hub to issue commands to?”

“I don’t understand. Why is that a problem?”

“As far as I can tell apart from some minor structural damage” He waved to the broken support beams and the now dying electrical fires “ According to the damage report computer all of the individual ship systems are just offline. it's like someone has flipped the power switch on all the systems including the central core.”

“I still don’t understand. Why cant you just flip the switch back on all the systems?”

“Ok it's like all of these systems are independent of one another, but they share information with the central core. Navigation sends data to the engines. External sensors send information to navigation and so on and so on. But it's like each of these systems speaks a different language. it's up to the central core to translate all the languages into something each system can understand. Without the Core I will have to manually try and restart each system, using it's own individual language and even then we will still be crippled. Without the core nothing will work together.”

“Ok so just turn the core back on first!”

“I've been trying. Every time I try I get a command unavailable and ill be damned if I know why. Maybe some physical damage between this console and the core I don’t know.”

“So that means……”

“It means I The commander is going to need to crawl into the central core and manual reboot the whole system”

“Does he know to do that?”

“I don’t know. He seems capable enough if a little hot headed. He should realize the same thing I did when he gets to an operating engineering console.”

“What do we do in the meantime”

“In the meantime I'm trying to get internal communications operational. If I can do that we can at least coordinate with the rest of the crew. For all we know there are several people working on the same problem and we will never know. Worse we could be working against each other.”

The doctor looked confused and concerned. Worry showed on her face. Worry for herself and the lives of the rest of the crew on the bridge. The young ensign seemed well enough apart form a small gash on her head and she seemed to be ok but of the 4 others on the bridge that were still alive only Michael was conscious and she was gravely concerned for his leg. She knew that infection would be setting in soon and without proper treatment it could spread. If that happened he could lose his leg or even die.

She was even more sure now that they were going to need him alive if they were going to survive this.

As Michael Continued to work furiously at the console the young ensign was pulling a data cable from the disabled console to her navigation console. Blood dripped down from the console display where the young man with two bars of rank was still pinned by a ceiling stanchion. As it dripped drop by drop all around her, she fought the urge to vomit and cry at the same time. She tried to keep her mind focused on the job at hand and had she known her own name she would have kept repeating her own name and telling herself she could do this. As it was all she could do was just focus on trying to get her small hands inside the small opening on the underside of the console. As she was about to loose her nerve through despair and frustration her fingers clamped around the cool metallic cable and she yanked hard. It came loose surprisingly easily and the small round data plug came loose in her hands. She pulled as much cable out as she could and stretched it out as far as she could. Happy to be out from underneath the console she scooted herself over to her own and she attempted to squeeze her hands into the narrow opening. It was harder this time than it was before as she now had the data plug between her fingers. Her hands scrapped on the metal and she winced in pain as her skin was scraped raw, but eventually she made it though. As the plug made contact with the data terminal port she signed in relief and pushed it in. The terminal began to beep a warning and she too quickly pulled her hand out of the access opening, her already raw skin around her knuckles subjected once more to the relatively sharp metal.

As she sat up she began to massage her knuckles trying to bring some feeling back into them. She gazed at her console which had went black apart from a small line of text and a command prompt

EXTERNAL DATA SOURCE CONNECTED.

ERROR 14C NO INCOMING PACKETS DETECTED

“Sir. I've connected the data cable but it's telling me there is nothing there for it to receive.”

“DAMMIT!” Michael Yelled “The external sensors must be offline as well. Can you reboot the sensor system from there? “

“I can try sir.”

She started to try and access any controls for the other console but everything just kept coming back to her own navigation console. In frustration she banged on her console with both fists leaving a small smear of blood streaking down the control panel

As she did so her console beeped and went black

“No no no no no!” She exclaimed in desperation. She was about to look underneath to see if she had accidentally knocked anything loose when another beep issued from her console

She gazed hopefully upon the screen

REBOOT SEQUENCE INITIATED

NAVIGATION SYSTEM 13A IBC PEGASUS INITIALISING…………..

EXTERNAL CORE LINK NOT DETECTED STARTING STANDALONE MODE.

SECONDARY SYSTEM DETECTED

EXTERNAL SENSOR SYSTEM 16B IBC PEGASUS INITIALISING………..

EXTERNAL CORE LINK NOT DETECTED. STARTING STAND ALONE MODE.

She couldn’t believe her luck. She smiled and wiped the blood from the display as she watched the two systems start side by side.

“Sir. I don’t know how but I've done it!”

Michael turned around with surprise.

“Already?”

“Yes sir. I erm, accidentally shut down my console and when it restarted it must have sent a restart command to the external sensor system.”

“Clever Girl.” Michael exclaimed with a smile, the first smile he had since he woke up.

“Nothing clever about it sir it was completely by accident. There's something else sir. According to this we are onboard a ship called the IBC Pegasus.

“Well that’s something more we know now, how long till the internal sensors are online?”

The ensign studied the console readouts.

“I'm not sure sir. I think it's going slowly because it's using this console to send commands to both systems at the same time, According to this Boot up sequence is 10% complete, so maybe 10 minutes!”

“ok good. As soon as you have sensors online I want a scan of whatever is in front of us. For all we know they did this to us.”

science fiction

Paul Glass

Read next: Little Black Book

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