Saturday, May 7, 2016

Lucinda's Story Part Four-conclusion.

 May 7  

This one is the fourth and last part of Lucinda's Story. A grand Science Fiction adventure and a story of a deaf young woman who is going off planet to a special conference. The ship was attacked and damaged by parties unknown. Now it is drifting toward a sun.  

Will Lucinda save the ship? Freak out over too much blood? Trip and knock herself out? Totally space out on her instructions? 
Actually that last could happen but...

”All that means we need to fix the engines now, and you’re the only one who can get the computer to unlock. At least we hope you can."
     She shook her head and said, "I can't do it, I don't know 
anything about computers."
     "Captain White made you one of the command crew just like him. As far as I know, he never rescinded that command. That means it will obey your commands just as if you were the Captain."
     "He should do it, I can't"
     "Something happened to him, or he would have done it already. He doesn't answer calls to the bridge. He's either dead or unconscious."
     "But I can't," she knew her voice went up even higher than normal, "I don't know what to say."
     "We will tell you what commands to give."
     "I can't. I'll mess up."
     "Yes, you can, I know you can."
     "I can't, I will forget what I'm supposed to say," Tears were in her eyes, and again her voice went up more then normal, "I've already gotten my best friend killed."
     "Chelsea is still alive, she is in the medical center now."
     Her breath caught hope filled her heart but at the same time  unbelief fought for room in her heart. She knew it all showed on her face. 
    She shook her head started to say something, but Hackney spoke up first, "You obviously couldn't hear it, but they announced over the ship's intercom that she is alive. She and two others are being treated. Your friend was badly hurt. She will live but not if we don't get the drive going."
     He motioned for her to go over to the open panel. She looked inside. She saw what looked like a tunnel-a very narrow tunnel-barely wide enough for her. The first half was lit with flickering lights, but the second half was pitch black. She could tell that most people would have to bend over part way, to be able to walk through it. Every so often there were flat panels on both sides, along with cables and mysterious objects, hanging here and there. She could see debris laying on the floor. Somewhere in the darker section she could see a cable hanging down sparking ever few seconds. 
     The crewman tapped her on the shoulder. Once she looked at him, Neal explained that because of the way the ship was designed this was the access way to get to the computer core, and to certain circuits. At the other end there was another smaller, round hatch leading from the bridge, which she could use to get onto the bridge. 
     She flinched at the thought of going in there, looking back at General Hackney's face she said, "I've never done anything like this."
     "I know, but I know people. You know my background, I can pick people who are right for the job. I know you can do it. You have to do it but as I said you can do it—I know it."
     For a moment tears came to her eyes. Her mind was a mixture of thoughts-she could because he said so. He picked the heroes of that battle. But he didn’t know her, her heart beat faster. Even more sweat popped out on her forehead, down her back. After a couple of moments. She had failed at other things but after what seemed like an hour she nodded. Lucinda watched in dismay as Hackney dropped his head and sagged for a moment in relief. 
     Looking back up at her face he said, "Thank you—you will have to be careful, and we don't know what you will find. The area of the hull where the bridge is took a couple of hard hits, at the end of the attack. The Captain could be dead, if he was at a console that exploded, he could be badly burned, or—there could be blood splattered around."
     She knew she looked sick, she wanted to refuse again, but if Chelsea was alive she depended on Lucinda to do this, her own parents depended on her to get their daughter home. She had to, so she would. She felt her mouth move to a straight line. She would do this. Hackney took Lucinda over to the crew member.
     He said, "This is Neal. He will explain what you have to tell the computer."
     She nodded, then looked at Neal’s mouth.
     The crewman looked her in the face and proceeded to explain what to tell the computer to do in engineering, it had to release one panel, redirect some circuits as well as turning on alternate wiring. She looked confused, but determined.
     She said, "I'm not sure of all the signs, or if I can remember all that."
     "Did you learn the signs you need?"
     "Yes, I think so, but that was years ago, I don't know if I can recall them."
     "You're going to have to remember."
     He repeated the instructions twice more. 
     Than the general took hold of her face again to make sure she could see his lips, "I know you can do it. Remember I know people. We, Chelsea, need you to do it."
     Neal said, "Once on the bridge all you have to do is go to the video pickup and sign what it should do. We believe that pickup was still operational even though the one in engineering was shorted out." 
     After another warning to be careful of loose wires, cables and to avoid that dangling cable, she was ready to go in. Neal  told her to stay low while going through the access tunnel.
     Still looking unsure she nodded. She felt like crying, but climbed into the tunnel. Her foot scrapped the edge of the hatchway but she barely noticed it. Once in she stood a quarter of the way bent over. She smelled electrical arcs, burnt plastic. Coughed from smoke she didn’t see.  
     Before she took her first step though Lucinda turned around and tried to say, "I can't do this, I can't remember all I'm supposed to say," but Hackney interrupted her saying, “Yes, you can, I know it. Remember, Chelsea would say the same thing, that you can do it."
     She knew she looked at him with pain showing followed by resignation. Lucinda turned back around and begun to walk through the tunnel. Just four feet into the tube something fell from the ceiling sparking and almost hitting her. Lucinda let out a short scream, but kept going as a shower of sparks fell behind her. 
     Later Hackney explained how he and the crew member tried to follow her progress and shielded their eyes from the sparks. She soon disappeared into the dark section.
     At one point Neal yelled, "I forgot, watch out for the drop at the end."
     He then cursed looking at Hackney with a sheepish look on his face.
     "I forgot for a moment she can't hear."
     In the tunnel Lucinda made her way through the dark section. A sudden pain shot through her head as something fell on it. It hit hard enough to push her to her knees. She made a sound she couldn’t hear: the floor felt hard on her knees. She couldn't see what fell, but it felt like a panel. She turned half around looked back the way she had come, but than turned back continued. If something larger fell on her she could be in trouble. Thinking that everyone, which included her parents, depended on her, she kept going. The smoke became thick enough for her to taste it, her eyes teared. But memories came up in her mind. When she first met Chelsea when they were four years old. Later when Chelsea showed her that were something called sounds. Her parents had tried to explain but Chelsea did it a way that made her understand. Then Chelsea had learned sign language so she could communicate with her new friend. 
      No matter how much Lucinda’s body hurt or how hard her heart beat form fear she would do what was needed, even if she threw up all that bile that kept coming up she would do it.     
     As General Hackney later explained, the two men heard a short "EEeee" sound 
     Hackney said, "I hope she's ok."
     Neal said, "The drop isn't that long she should ok, even if she landed on her head."
     There was a pause then General Hackney said, "There is no way to check on her, so we wait." 
     They waited and waited. After what seemed to be more then enough time both beginning to wonder if something had happen to her or if Captain White had rescinded the command after all. 
Suddenly the computer's voice blared from the intercom.
     "I’m having the computer speak for me."
     There was a pause then, "I hope it is. I wasn't sure if I could remember all the instructions you gave me, nor if I knew...the signs to get across...what you wanted, so I told the computer to do what the engineer wanted...Would someone tell him…he can now tell the computer what he wants it to do."
     Hackney looked dumbfounded and said, "Good girl, I should have thought that myself. And I think she has just told him, herself with that announcement."
     After a lengthy pause the voice went on, "Captain White is laying on the floor. I don't know if he is alive or not...That is one reason it took long to get here, I checked to see if he was alive...I think he is breathing, but I cannot tell for sure."
     There was a long pause and, "I tried to get the computer to open the door...but it can't. Something is warped or stuck."
     Once done with what she could, the computer said it has sent the message but there was no way for her to know for sure, she knelt next to the Captain again, place a hand in front of his mouth. She couldn’t be sure if the air on her skin came from him or the ship’s air circulation. Her knees ached, from bruises and maybe a cut. The top of her head still felt there could be another one there. Her clothes were sweat soaked. 
     A moment later though she jumped and spun around when something touched shoulder.
    Her heart calmed when she saw Hackney behind her, so he had tapped her shoulder. Her muscles relaxed. Lucinda stepped back so they could check on the Captain. 
     Hackney made a motion with his hands and said while looking at her face, "You did it."
     He then placed his fingers on the Captain’s throat and a wrist. He turned to say that the Captain was alive. 
     Hackney explained that they had used the intercom to speak to Joash in engineering. They had asked him to turn off the power to this section of the ship, now that he could. A few seconds later the shower of sparks stopped, two-seconds later the cable stopped flipping around and sparking at the other end of the tube stopped moving. They both had climbed up into the tube. Once in they both rushed through the tunnel. Once at the other end they carefully exited it onto the bridge. They found it a mess. It looked like that not only had Lucinda stopped to check the Captain, but she had had to move some debris out of her way. 
      She nodded at him and after what seemed like a very long time she saw the crew member say, "They have started the engines."
     Hackney nodded saying, "I can feel the vibrations too."
     He turned to Lucinda and once more looking in her face he said slowly, "You did it. They've started the engines, now you can go back to the med center and see your friend."
     Lucinda did just that. With Hackney's help she climbed back into the access tunnel, and hurriedly crawled through it. Once out she ran to the med center. Halfway there she almost ran into Tommy who was hurrying the other way to see to his captain. Once at the med center Lucinda almost ran into the doors when they were a little slow in sliding apart. She quickly glanced around, recognizing one form on a bed, rushed over to it. Chelsea was asleep though. She noticed Ferdinand in a bed next to her friend. He was awake.
     He moved his hands saying, She will be Ok.
     Lucinda whipped the tears from her eyes.
     Ten minutes later they brought in the Captain. After a quick check, with the help of the med computer, Tommy was sure he would survive but it had been close. If they had had to burn through the door to the bridge he would have died before they could get to him.
     As Hackney had predicted the drives, even at half power, were able to move the ship out of the gravitational pull of the sun and into a trade route. Two days later Lucinda was in the Med center talking to Chelsea. She had been there almost every waking moment. Today her friend woke up enough to be able to sign.
     Chelsea moved her hands in a complicated, and quick dance saying, I hear you were a hero while I was out.
     I didn't do much.
     Only saved the ship, me, and the Captain.
     I was only able to do that because of what Captain White set up. If he hadn't set up the computer to recognize signs or tell it that I was a Command Officer I couldn't have done anything.
     True, but you still did it. That was good thinking with telling the computer to do what the engineer said and than to have the computer repeat what you told it in sign language. I'm proud of you, you did good. Your parents will be proud when they hear of this. You should be proud of yourself.
     There was a pause as Lucinda tried to think of something to say, Chelsea added, I told you that you can do what you set your mind to.
     A month later they were sitting in a lounge of a passenger liner that had picked up their distress call and had rescued them. The Star Traveler was hooked on the larger ship's side by tractor beams.
     Lucinda was glad they had moved here, the liner’s med center smelled too much like so many hospitals she had been in and the couches here were a lot more comfortable.
    Chelsea moved her hands as she said to Lucinda, Looks like Hackney was right we would be picked up once we were in trade route. I just got a full check up by this ship's doctor and he says I am recovering just fine. The Captain is doing good too. He will be able to recover faster with the better med center they have on this ship.
     Lucinda said, I'm glad you're ok, and I'm glad Captain White will completely recover and I am glad this ship came by, and the food is great here. They have real oranges.
     Chelsea said, Thanks to you there was something here for them to rescue.
     Lucinda blushed, signing her thanks.
     Chelsea continued with, Looks like Hackney may have been right about our attackers coming back too. I heard some of the crew talking while I was resting in the med center. Once the ship's engines were fixed the power came back up.
     Lucinda nodded, for she knew that
     Chelsea continued, Not only were the lights, gravity and stove powered, but the weapons also. Twice a ship came by and buzzed us. I don't know if it was the same ship both times, or if either was the one that attacked us, but Neal told Ferdinand that they 'painted' us with sensors. Our ship's weapons were 'hot' and they could tell we had plenty of power, so they went on without attacking us. They didn't help us even with the distress signal going, but they didn't hurt us either. The second time they came around Hackney thought they were going to attack, I'm not sure why he thought that, but he was sitting at the weapons controls ready to use his experience to defend us. Billy and Ferdinand thought that it was his expert handling of the weapons when he followed them as they buzzed by, that gave them second thoughts. Whatever the reason they kept on going. So now we are safe and the ship can be repaired. You really are a hero Lucinda.
     Lucinda blushed again, dumbfounded. She  smiled though, maybe everyone was right she could do what she wanted and needed to do. 

                            The end

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