Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lucinda's Story-Part Three

It's April 30th. The last day of April 2016, soon it will be summer,  And it's time for the third segment of Lucinda's Story 2,536 words. Next week will be the last one and it will be shorter.

This one didn't seem to need as much work as the two previous segments so hopefully I didn't go over it too fast.

Some excitement in this one. For those who may not recall Lucinda is deaf and currently she is having a tour of the bridge she is on.  Captain White is letting her give commands to the ship. Later on something else happens though. 


White checked a readout then said, "We have changed course one half degree to starboard."
     Chelsea signed You did it.
     The captain turned back to Lucinda and motioned for her to give it more commands.
     She faced the lens and gave it a series of commands that the computer followed. That included causing the lights to flicker, slow the ship, to increase speed again, to change the color of the monitor at each console to a different color. Finally to tell the captain that he is a great guy, very nice and that she appreciated being able to talk to the computer.
     He turned to her and signed, Thank you to her then said to Chelsea, "You two can come back anytime you want so we can talk  more. I might have her do any course changes we need to do."
     During the next few days the Lucinda and the other passengers settled into a routine for the four months it would take them to get to Blearier's Star. She watched and sometimes joined in when the other passengers talked to each other during the meals. Afterwards they played the various games in the lounge, read or talked. Lucinda began teaching Ferdinand more sign language. 
     At one dinner Lucinda’s face burned when she realized that Chelsea was talking about her. 
    "I'm sure you know that because most handicaps can be fixed either in the womb or soon after birth there hasn't been the need for much research and development in special interfaces and programs."
     Jackie asked, "Why go to the conference and not watch it as a recording?"
     "This way she can actually participate in the discussions and ask any questions that she may come up with. The interactive recordings are not as complete as actually being there. And the distance is too great for an instantaneous    video chat.”
     "Why are you going too?"
     "For two reasons. One is that I think the experience would be first star, I would like to learn more too. The second reason is that she wouldn't go by herself. Lucinda's parents can't take off from work for that long, and they thought the experience would do her some good, help her to break out of her shyness, give her some more confidence."
     The others at the table nodded in understanding.
     Nine weeks into the trip Lucinda was awaken by a sudden shaking of the ship. As her eyes popped open the ship was shaken again. It felt like she was in a ground vehicle that had hit a wall. Or that something had hit the vehicle. The lights came on suddenly and she saw her friend standing by the switch just as a powerful force threw Lucinda out of bed. She landed in a heap, tangled in the blanket. Unhurt, except for a couple bruises she pulled on the blanket, kicked at a part that was wrapped around her foot. With a heave she threw the blanket one way and stood up. The lights flickered. She glanced at them to see if they would stay on. They did for the moment so she quickly moved to her friend.
     Quickly she signed a question.
     Automatically Chelsea spoke, "I don't know what's happening," but then she repeated it with her hands.
     The lights in the outer room started blinking red. She signed telling Lucinda that there was also an alarm, but so far no announcement.
     Suddenly, a component in the wall, a foot below the ceiling exploded, sending sparks downward. Both girls threw their hands over their heads and letting out short screeches. When they tried to move toward the door, Lucinda felt a force throw her to one side when the floor heaved upward. She smacked into Chelsea and then into the wall hard. 
     Lucinda leaned against the wall dazed for a moment then realized her body was pressing into something soft. There was only one thing that felt that way so she knew what or who the softness had to be. She quickly stepped away, turning in time to see Chelsea's eyes close as she fell limply to the deck. Lucinda watched in shock as her friend crumbled. A scream tore lose from her throat when she saw blood on Chelsea's face.
     She stared at her friend for a second. What to do? I don’t know how; get help.
     Lucinda looked up at the doorway-that better work. Without further thought she ran into the passageway. Stopped, where to? The tour flashed through her mind, she turned left, toward the medical center. The ship rocked hard twice on her way. Her feet tried to slip, but she wouldn’t let them. She danced to stay upright. If she hurt herself she couldn’t get help. The flashing red strobes didn’t help. Darkness and red; it looked worse than a horror film she saw last year.
     After what seemed to be way too much time she approached the right doors. They were open and a light shone out of the doorway. She ran in and grabbed the first person she saw. She moved her hands in a fast plea for help. The passenger she had grabbed though didn't know what she was trying to say. 
     A second later she saw someone in a ship jumpsuit, and went over to them. She again signed asking someone to come help Chelsea, but again the person didn't understand. She hoped Ferdinand would arrive, but he didn't. Sweat ran down the inside of her arms, she gasped, breathed hard, gasped again. Think but that scene of her friend with blood on her popped into her mind, she couldn’t banish it.
     Of course she could speak, she knew it would be squeaky and the volume not correct but she knew how to speak loud, "Chelsea needs help, she's bleeding, Please Help."  
     One of the crew members said something then left carrying a med kit, and at that moment General Hackney came in helping an injured passenger. He talked to the crew member whom she remembered as George, but Lucinda had no idea what was being said. Suddenly some huge force impacted the ship, tossing everyone around as the lights went out. Lucinda screamed along with two others. It seemed that the vessel tilted then settled back. Gravity went off for a few seconds as did the lights. Gravity came back on, even though at a lesser strength. The emergency lights came up.
     That was the last of the bouncing and impacts. Lucinda watched the others as they got up. Reading his lips Lucinda saw Hackney say something about she's drifting and George nodded his head in agreement. George went over to a small panel on the wall, pushed a button then spoke. Lucinda had no idea what he was saying but he didn't look happy. Her breath came harder as fear built. Had the drives blown up? The reactor overheated?
     More talk, she caught certain words but nothing made sense. It soon became obvious that they decided to go check for themselves. Hackney, George and Jackie headed out the door. For some reason she wasn't sure about Lucinda decided to follow, nothing she could do here and nothing more she could do to help Chelsea who looked—not alive. General Hackney was good at fixing things and he would be able to figure something out. Maybe they would lead her to Ferdinand or the Captain and she could find out what happened as well as find out about Chelsea. 
     On the way Lucinda could barely contain her panic as she 
tried not to think of what happened to Chelsea. The three men went down the corridor obviously headed for the emergency stairs which Lucinda thought were more of a ladder. As she followed them she tried to keep four steps behind so she wouldn't get in their way but would be close enough to see if they turned or went into a room. And maybe they wouldn’t notice her and tell her to go back.
     Once on Deck two they moved quickly down the passageway. Lucinda had problems walking with the much reduced gravity. All three acted like they were used to it but  At times she would take missteps and almost stumble and she felt like she was bouncing. They arrived at engineering and stepped through the door. There was a smell and taste of smoke in the air but no fires that Lucinda could see. Debris was scattered all over the place, but it looked mostly like papers, tools and such. She saw someone dressed in a burnt Orange jumpsuit standing before a console that came out of the wall. The controls where chest high on the man and he was pushing buttons. He stopped and typed something on a keyboard then pushed the buttons again. From the expression on his face she could tell that whatever he was trying to do wasn't happening.
     He turned to face the newcomers then said something. Hackney and the other crew member each spoke but he just shook his head. He spoke again and Lucinda was able to read a couple of the words he said. Something about the computer locked down and the Captain. She thought it looked like he couldn't fix something without the computer and he couldn't get the computer to let him fix it. The men discussed the situation more then Hackney motioned for them to go some where else. Not knowing what else to do Lucinda followed them. Part way to wherever they were going they met still another crew member, this one spoke urgently and took Hackney over to a porthole. Lucinda tried to see what they were looking at, but only saw a sun that looked very tiny. Whatever the man said caused the others to frown, before their expressions all changed—to something that showed determination.
     The General turned and hurried off with all the others, including Lucinda, tagging along. A few steps further and he slowed then glanced at Lucinda with an expression like he was listening. Soon they neared the bridge. One of the crew members led the way to the door leading to the bridge but as he put in a code in the keypad next to the door nothing happened. Lucinda doubted anything would happen for the door was warped, and looked like it wouldn't open. She wiped sweat from her forehead and eyes. The air felt warm and maybe harder to breath. She hoped that last was just her panic.
     They stood around for a minute, then Hackney suddenly turned and took off down the passageway. He went through one door then another, and came out in what looked like a back passage. One Lucinda hadn't been in before for she hadn't known it existed. He went down it a few feet until he found another door. This one was only half as wide as the cabin doors and was set in the wall making it look like another section of the wall It slide sideways into the wall as he pressed the open button. Everyone crowded around the small opening to look in. Lucinda could see sparks from something loose inside. 
     They men talked some more, and it looked like they were arguing. Hackney pointed toward her twice then finally the two crew members nodded obviously convinced about something. General Hackney turned to Lucinda and quickly moved to her. She flinched thinking he was going to be angry at her. He tried to say something to her but she shook her head and put up her hands to sign something. He took her by the shoulders and looked at her face making her look back.
     He said, "I know you can read lips, I have seen you do it, so I know you can understand me."
     She nodded and said. "I read lips a little." 
     "Good, We need your help. Something only you can do."
     She looked puzzled, but she knew her expression showed panic also. 
     "First, all that shaking was caused by someone attacking us. Some lowlife tried to take us out. They gave up, I'm not sure why. It could have been because of Ferdinand getting one, or two lucky hits with his return fire, or something scared them away. Whatever the case, they damaged the ship."
     She said, "Who...why? We aren't important."
     "I don't know who, they never boarded us, so I don't if they were pirates, someone using us for target practice or what. If they were pirates they want to rob us and the ship. And they may want more from you and the other women."
     Lucinda blanched as she caught his meaning.
     He continued, "There should be none of their type in this area of space but obviously they didn't know that. After the attack we are drifting with no power to the engines. Billy thinks he can fix that but the computer is locked down and he can't get in to fix what he needs to fix. He believes the captain thought we were going to boarded so he commanded the computer to shut down all but life support. That means no other crew member, even with security codes, can get the computer to do anything. That was something Captain White programed in case pirates boarded the ship, they would not be able to use the new computer to help them steal the cargo. 
     "We might be able to break into the bridge eventually, but most of the tools we would use for that are locked down too. We have another situation though. You saw Tony show me something out of the porthole?"
     Lucinda nodded.
     "He was showing me a star we are drifting toward. Somehow all the pounding the ship took got us off course and we are now headed for that star. It will take us a week to get close enough to kill us, but unless we are rescued it will happen. Right now we can easily escape the gravitational pull but the closer we get the harder it will be to escape. The part of the drive that allows us to go faster than light is out, totally fired, but we can use the sublight side to get us away from the sun. We would still be under powered, the drive be able to produce half its normal output, but it would be enough to get us away from the sun's gravity. And it would enough to get the weapons up. They're not much, but they could be enough to chase away any normal pirates. We need to get the drive fixed before we get too close to the sun, or before the attackers come back. Once out of danger we can move close enough to a trade route which would allow us to be rescued." 
     Her eyes went wide and she opened her mouth to say something, but he anticipated her question and said, "I said that I didn't know they were pirates. If they are and their ship was damaged or they were scared off by something they will be back. More then likely they know we are drifting so they will be able to find us if they come back.”

End segment

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