"Bumpy Ride"
[Previous post - "Rapid Descent"]

Setting: SPACE, view of the SPHINX and VIPERS heading towards the moon of PI ALPHA III
Stardate: 30148.0730

The SPHINX had been dropped out of the ANUBIS while being in an aided geosynchronous low orbit around the moon of PI ALPHA III.  This meant that the small Mobile Command Unit, or MCU, had roughly been 2,500 kilometers from unwelcoming the surface at the start of its rapid descent.  Centuries ago, well before the advent of shields, ships would use a planet’s gravity to bring them down to the surface as slowly as possible to avoid burning up during atmospheric re-entry.  They would go as far as to use a planet’s own atmosphere to help reduce their rate of descent.  Back then a speed of 500 kilometers per hours would have been considered to be far too rapid and risky, no one would have even looked twice at the fact that the journey would have taken only five hours to complete.

Modern technology had made things much safer allowing for greater speeds to be achieved while attempting orbital re-entry, so much so that ships now increased their speeds instead of reducing it as they approached a planet.  With the SPHINX heading straight down towards the small moon at an approximate rate of 2,500 kilometers per hours, this meant that the trip would take roughly an hour, if everything went according to plan of course.

The shield geometry would need to be adjusted for atmospherically re-entry and readjusted according to the ship’s changing angel of entry. Engine power output would have to also be monitored and altered according to the craft’s speed as the atmosphere around it became thicker.  Of course all of these calculations could have easily been left to the on board computer except for one problem: the winds that they would be encountering all too soon would make all of these fancy numbers obsolete leaving the CEO with the unenvious task of performing everything herself.

Setting: SPHINX, Command Deck
Stardate: 30148.0735

As Sonja was performing the first of many calculations, the redheaded CEO glanced outside through the small triangular window to see one of the VIPERS currently flying in close formation with the SPHINX.  “Oh, sweet fancy Moses,” the woman exclaimed as she confirmed with a much longer gaze that she had indeed seen the ANUBIS’ FCO, “that man looks like he is stuffed in there like a crazy miniature clown car.  I can almost see his legs being folded to his chest like an accordion from here.”

The ship’s Counsellor who had been sitting next to the CEO looked over with puzzlement until she too saw the FCO and the odd predicament he had found himself in as one of the pilots of the VIPERS.  “Oh my, that can’t be comfortable,” the dark haired woman noted.  “I hope that he does not have any claustrophobic issues.”

“Maybe he will after this,” said the CEO with a laugh before she returned to her work, the last rattling of the SPHINX having summoned her attention back onto her duties. “Current altitude is just over 2,000 kilometers, nowhere close to those nasty winds we have been told about, so why are we drifting off course?  We are nearly 5 degrees out of line with the initial course, the redheaded Engineer noted out loud.”

“There are several possible reasons for this drifting…” Maya began before being politely interrupted as she took the customary breath that preceded one of her lengthy explanations.

“Was just thinking out loud,” the CEO quickly pointed out. “Rhetorical question only, no need for any explanation, just me going through my process,” Sonja added as she made a mental note to never say something like that again in the presence of the Shillian Commander who was well known for her detailed and heavily verbose explanations.  At this the CEO looked at Eve as the Counsellor took in a quiet sigh of relief at the close call of a long scientific lecture they had been subjected to in the past.

Sonja’s hands and finger flew over her controls as memories of her solving similar scenarios at the Academy filled her mind along with thoughts of the lengthy discussions she and her grandfather shared in regards to addressing such Engineering puzzles.

While the CEO was deep in thought with the task at head, an odd feeling of being watched came over her.  With a quick glance over her shoulder Sonja noted that the ILO had been looking in her direction, a playful smile dancing on her lips.  The two women shared a quick nod of the head before both quickly resumed their respective tasks.

“Alright ladies,” Sonja added after a few moments of intense working.  “Hang on to your *girls*, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

“Please tell me that you are kidding,” Doctor Doyanne nervously inquired from her station.

“Nope,” the redhead replied. “Not in the least. This is the best I can do given the circumstances. So please keep your hands and feet *inside* the ride at all times,” Sonja added with a huge grin as she tightened her safety harness while sounding as if she was very much looking forward to what would soon come to pass.

Seeing this, the rest of the SPHINX’s crew quickly followed suit and tightened their harnesses.  Soon after the Mobile Command Unit was rocked forcefully from side to side causing the CEO to note out loud, “Here we go!!!” adding a playful giggle right after.

Lorraine Paquette

Lieutenant JG Sonja Paquette
Chief Engineering Officer