BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

BRIGLAD

Quest - Chapter 9
Sunday, July 12, 2009

All the preparations have been made. Quest heads for Earth


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2486    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. I’m just playing. No money being made. The situations come from my own twisted mind as do my original characters.

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AN: Here we go.... Earth

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Quest-Chapter Nine

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With a lurch, Quest popped back into normal space. Allan shook his head to clear it while Trudy ended up using the bowl Allan had given her. Allan quickly drew the Ambassador a glass of water.

“My goodness,” Trudy breathed as her stomach settled, “Is it always like that?”

“You get used to it,” Allan replied, “By the third jump you hardly notice it.”

While the former companion took this information in, Allan retrieved the bowl from the table and began to clean it. After a quick rinse, he placed it into the automated dishwasher.

“How many jumps to get to Earth?” Trudy asked.

“Two one second jumps and one of about half a second.”

“Why can't you do it in one jump?”

“The system can only keep the singularity stable for one point two seconds. As a safety measure, we only engage the drive for one second max. So far, we haven't done it that long other than in computer testing. The jump we just did was about a quarter of a second. It felt much longer but it was quite short.”

“It's amazing. I have a bit of a penchant for science but this is so far above my level of knowledge...”

“Makes my head spin a bit too. And I helped develop it.”

“It... have you named the system yet?”

“We've just been throwing acronyms around. Gravitational Displacement Hyperspace Drive. Or GDHD or just the FTL system. Both are a misnomer since in reality, the GDHD doesn't physically move the ship, it just takes a shortcut through space time.”

Most of the technobabble Allan spouted went over Trudy's head, “Why not call it the Bryant System or Drive?”

“It wasn't just myself and Sara. I wrote the preliminary theory back before the exodus. I worked on it off and on over the last twenty years or so. I got some help from River Cobb. Then when Sara was at university, she saw something I missed in the equations and finally figured out the the complete theory. Then, since Sara is a hardware geek, she and Rebecca Tam figured out the mechanics of making it actually work. It was what Sara used for her Doctorate dissertation and Becca' for her master's thesis.”

Allan smiled and continued, “I just gave my daughter money and lined up other private investors. Of course, I did do the preliminary hull and internal systems design. I get bored sometimes...”

“Impressive. Then the Bryant-Tam Drive sounds appropriate since River's maiden name is Tam also, correct?”

“Yes. Becca is River's niece.”

“I'll bounce the name off the rest of the parties involved at dinner tonight,” Trudy began, “Once the technology is made public, you all will be remembered like Einstein or Newton.”

Allan tried to not look embarrassed. He did his best to change the subject, “Speaking of dinner... are you any good in the kitchen? Zoë can burn water and Sara is busy.”

“I am a companion. The culinary arts are part of our training... besides, my momma taught me and Allison to cook when we were girls.”

“Come on then, you can give me a hand,” Allan smiled.

XXXXXXXXXX

Jaws dropped around the table when the Ambassador proposed her name for the drive system.

“I... I don't think...” Sara stammered.

“Two generations of the Bryant's and Tam's have worked on this system. You deserve to have it named after you,” Trudy stated.

“Makes sense to me,” Lt. Coletti remarked.

“I dunno...” Becca trailed off.

Sara decided to table it for the moment, “We'll discuss it more throughly, later,” she began, “We need to discuss what's happening tomorrow. Amazing as it seems. This time tomorrow, we'll be in orbit around Earth. We need to get ready for that. Derrick? Are the FTL Cortex relays ready?”

“All set Captain,” the young man replied, “Owen and I did full system checks on all three this morning.”

“Good,” Sara replied, “Our auxiliary ships?”

“Sara Jane is all set to go,” Becca replied.

“Free Bird's systems are ready,” Allan grinned at his daughter. Beside her, Sara's husband chuckled softly. She shot Jeff a sharp glare which intensified the chuckles.

“What's so funny, Husband?”

“Just the role reversal. You getting report from your dad rather than the other way around.”

Zoë snickered. More at Sara using the word 'husband' than the role switch.

“You know how hard it is to maintain a chain of command when your husband and parents are snickering at you?” Sara sighed.

“So, that's what you use to keep Jeff in line,” Virgil grinned, “Chains...”

Laughter broke out around the table as Sara face turned several colors.

“I think that's enough,” Allan said after a moment. He was still smiling though.

“Thanks, Dad,” Sara said, trying to regain some decorum.

“The ASREV's are ready any time you need them, Captain,” Chief Woodard said.

“Thanks,” Sara replied, “Navigation?”

“All three jumps plotted, Sara,” Virgil replied, “After each jump, I'll need about half an hour to determine our exact position so I can make any course corrections. And then we'll need to come to a relative stop to place the relays.”

“Good,” Sara replied, “Sensors?”

“All calibrated and tweaked,” Rachel replied.

“Engineering?”

“Plant's a hundred percent, Sara,” Becca began, “All other systems are at between ninety nine and a hundred percent.”

“FTL?”

“Ready to rock, Boss,” Clay grinned.

“Weapons?” Sara asked.

“We'll charge the capacitors for the rail guns before the first jump. Best defense in case there's a rock or something in our way when we pop out.,” Meghan replied.

“Lasers on standby as well, please,” Sara said. Meghan nodded.

“Anything on the medical front, Sherry?”

“We're all good, Sara,” The doctor replied, “The Ambassador reported some vomiting after the first jump but that's within profile.”

“Sorry about that, Trudy,” Sara apologized.

“Part of the charm, my dear,” the former companion replied.

“Security?”

“All set, Sara,” Joe Park answered, “Rosie and I have the armory fully stocked. And we'll have the new body armor for everyone who goes on the landings.”

“Body armor?” Trudy asked.

“New material from Blue Sun,” Roseanne Goodwin replied, “Extremely lightweight and can stop up to rifle rounds. You wear it like a t-shirt. There's also armor somewhat like long underwear. Use that if you want extended coverage on the legs. Also, the exploratory jackets have a layer as well.”

“If there are people left, we don't know what level the society is at. If it's a post nuclear war situation, there may very well be near anarchy,” Sara said.

“On the other hand,” Allan interjected, “We could be encountering a society much like our own. Or nothing at all.”

“We're not just simply jumping into orbit are we?” Trudy asked.

Sara shook her head, “Oh no. Besides the fact we don't know where Earth is in her orbit right now, that would be very dangerous and provocative to any one still monitoring. The last jump will be to about five AU above the orbital plane. That way we can get a navigational fix on all the Sol system planets. Also we can listen in to any communications present.”

“Speaking of that,” Sara continued, “Mel? Hows the computers and com systems?”

“Ready to go, Sara,” The computer expert replied.

“Okay,” Sara smiled, “We make the first jump at zero nine hundred. Everyone get some rest.”

XXXXXXXXXX

“Will you relax, Sara...” Jeff trailed off as he began preparing for bed.

Sara sighed, “I can't... I mean... Earth. Where my father was born... This is an historical moment...”

Jeff smiled and moved up behind his wife, rubbing her shoulders, “This help?”

“Mmmm,” Sara purred, “A little...”

“How about if I do this?” Jeff grinned as he kissed her neck.

Sara shivered, “Are you tying to distract me, Husband?”

“Maybe...” Jeff grinned.

“Hmm, seems to be working,” Sara grinned as she dropped her robe to the floor.

XXXXXXXXXX

“Ready for tomorrow?” Allan asked as Zoë snuggled up next to him in bed.

“Reckon so,” Zoë nodded, “Just seems all kinds of unreal.”

“I know. To you, despite my stories. Earth is a legend... To me, it's where I was born.”

Zoë smiled and snuggled closer, “Are you going to show me all those natural spots you got captures of?, she asked.

“If it's safe to go down,” Allan replied, “If the radiation is low enough.”

“Why do you think there will be radiation?”

“Sylvia got word, just before Kansas got out of range that a major war had broken out. It's a pretty slim chance that they didn't use nukes.”

“Oh,” Zoë replied.

“We'll just have to see,” Allan replied with a kiss to the top of his wife's head.

“And we will... tomorrow,” Zoë whispered as she drifted off to sleep.

With a smile on his face, Allan switched off the light and settled in next to her.

XXXXXXXXXX

“Virgil, start the count,” Sara ordered.

After a hurried breakfast, everyone was impatient to get on their way. Now, Quest was about to make the first of three jumps. Ultimately, leading them to to Earth.

“Countdown commencing,” The navigator confirmed, “Jeff, put us on the heading I am feeding to your console.”

“Copy,” Jeff replied, setting the course into the flight control system. The course was critical so the computer did most of the actual flying.

“Thirty seconds,” Becca intoned from the engineering console behind Sara, “Pods charging.”

“Acknowledged,” Sara replied tersely.

“Weapons ready,” Meghan stated, “Mass drivers fully charged, Lasers in secondary chemical mode and ready to fire.”

“Thank you,” Sara replied, “Melissa?”

Main computer core is stable. Data backups in progress, uploading flight data recorder to Blue Sun Archive.”

“This is the Captain,” Sara said into the ship wide intercom, “We're jumping in fifteen seconds. This is our longest jump to date. Hang on to something.”

“Ten seconds,” Virgil said.

“On course,” Jeff added.

“Five, four, three, two, one, Jumping!”

In a flash of golden light, Quest disappeared from the 'Verse.

One second later, deep in interstellar space. Quest reappeared.

“Whoa,” Sara muttered as she shook her head to clear it. Likewise, around her the rest of the crew were shaking off the post jump disorientation.

“Rachel, anything near us?”

“No debris on radar. Star tracker is realigning.”

“Soon as we get our exact position, we'll stop and deploy the first relay.”

“Working, Captain,” Virgil replied as his finger flew across his console.

“This is the Captain, everyone report in,” Sara ordered into the intercom.

Within seconds all stations had reported in. No ill effects were noted except for the slightly longer than normal disorientation.

“I have our position,” Virgil announced, “Right where we're supposed to be. Eight point three light years from home. Jeff, here's the course corrections we need to deploy the first cortex relay.”

Jeff looked at the data on the helm console and made the necessary course correction. Quest's fusion engines flashed blue fire for a few minutes.

“Okay... as close as we can be, we're at a relative stop compared to the galaxy,” Jeff announced.

“Good. Lets get the first relay deployed and get ready for the second jump,” Sara ordered

Down in the port launch bay, Owen and Derrick maneuvered the shuttle sized Cortex node through the open door. Pushing the construct with the maneuvering backpacks on their suits.

Once in place and after moving away, Melissa sent the signal to the node, activating it. Slowly, two huge dish antennas began to unfold from the relay. Powered by it's own fusion reactor, the relay should operate for twenty years without refueling.

After several minutes, Melissa let out a little squeal of glee, “I've got A carrier signal from the main Alliance FTL cortex system,” She announced, “Time delay is two minutes.”

Sara grinned and glanced over to where her father stood, leaning casually next to Melissa's console, “Great, Mel. Send to Blue Sun Control. First jump successful. Upload the data logs and give our ETA for the next jump and relay deployment.”

“Got it Sara,” Melissa replied as she set to work.

Allan stepped down next to his daughter, laying a hand on her shoulder, “Great job, Captain.”

“Couldn't have done it without you, Dad,” Sara smiled back.

Ten minutes later, Quest jumped for the second leg of her journey.

Virgil was able to get a navigational fix even quicker this time thanks to the ability to use stellar position data collected by Kansas four hundred years before.

When Quest deployed the second relay, a message came through from Blue Sun control congratulating them and wishing good luck.

“Okay... this is it,” Sara said. All crew and passengers not otherwise occupied had made their way to the bridge. They all wanted to be there for the last jump.

Allan hugged Zoë and grinned as the crew, led by Sara went through the final preparations for the last leg of their journey, “Ready?” Allan asked.

“I am,” Zoë replied with a grin.

“Course laid in,” Jeff stated.

“Pods are charged,” Becca reported.

“Let's take my Father home,” Sara grinned just before Quest jumped for the third time.

XXXXXXXXXX

The last jump was shorter than the previous two. Quest popped back into the universe roughly five astronomical units above the orbital plane of Venus. The glare of the Sun filling the bridge until the windows automatically darkened to reduce the glare.

“Scanning,” Rachel announced. As her fingers flew over her console.

Allan stepped forward and peered over her shoulder. A slight grin on his face.

“Got it!” Rachel said after a moment. On the main display screen, a schematic appeared showing the the entire Sol system and the current positions of all the planets. Quest was only nine AU from Earth. Allan's hand reached out and touched the image of Earth on Rachel's console.

“Melissa?” Allan asked as he turned to the computer expert.

She sat enraptured at the display on the main monitor screen. Like Allan, she had been born on Earth.

“Oh...” Melissa started, “Ummm... beginning communication scan.”

Sara grinned, “It's okay, Mel... Can't blame you for getting a bit distracted.”

Using the ships sensitive optics, Rachel focused in on Earth. The main screen showed a blue and white planet. While still a long way away, the distinctive shape of Africa could be seen.

Allan's knees suddenly went week from emotion. He dropped into the chair quickly vacated by Rachel. Zoë moved to her husbands side, “Baby?” she asked in a concerned tone.

“It's really there...” Allan whispered.

“Dad?” Sara asked gently, “Why don't you move over here to my seat. I think you need to be in the front row for this.”

“Sara...”

“Get your pi-gu over here,” Sara grinned.

Despite the single tear running down his cheek, Allan smiled, “Aye, aye Captain.”

Stepping down to the lower level of the bridge, Allan pulled his daughter into a hug, “Thank you, Princess.”

“You're welcome, Daddy.”

Allan grinned wider and sat in the chair. Sara moved to stand next to her husband while Zoë moved to stand next to hers.

“Dear,” Sara began, “Start heading us for Earth.”

“On the way,” Jeff smiled as he brought Quest's engines on line.

XXXXXXXXXX

“Picking up transmissions all over the spectrum,” Melissa grinned as Quest drew nearer to the blue planet growing larger in the windows.

“You are?” Sara asked.

“Everything. Radio, video, radar...”

“There's people,” Allan grinned.

“Listen...” Melissa said as she turned up the volume on one particular frequency.

Allan smiled after listening for a minute, “Damn my Russian is rusty... that's Radio Moscow. The morning news broadcast.”

The audio scanned around again picking up many languages as Quest got closer.

“Picking up some residual radiation in the atmosphere, very low levels,” Rachel announced.

“Nav sensors are picking up numerous satellites in orbit,” Virgil said.

“Equatorial orbit, 600 kilometers, Husband,” Sara ordered.

“Aye, 600 clicks,” Jeff repeated.

As Quest eased into her orbit, the ship passed over the night side. Peeking through the cloud cover, lights on the ground could be seen. The entire continent of Australia was outlined with city lights.

“Getting radar hits,” Meghan announced.

“What kind?” Sara and her father asked at the same time.

“Tracking... no doppler shifts yet. Fairly low power. But someone knows we're here.”

“Keep the weapons in standby. Defensive only,” Sara ordered.

As Quest began to pass over the Pacific Ocean, Allan could see China, Japan, the Pacific islands. It was almost like a dream.

Ten minutes later, approaching Hawaii, things changed suddenly.

“We're being painted by a laser!” Meghan called out, “Low power, IR. Looks like a rangefinder.”

“Where from?” Sara asked.

“Here,” Meghan said as she indicated the location on the holographic display on one of the screens.

Allan looked at the location, “Looks like the top of Mauna Kea . It's at over 13,000 feet. Good place for a laser. There used to be an observatory there.”

“Radar Lock!” Meghan called out as alarms began to sound, “Really cranking the wattage.”

“Activate ECM. Jeff get ready for some evasive maneuvers,” Sara ordered.

“Getting a tight beam transmission from the surface,” Melissa a called out, “All over the spectrum.”

“Put it on,” Sara replied.

“... Repeat. Unknown spacecraft in Earth orbit. Depart immediately or you will be fired upon.”

Sara shooed her father out of her chair and activated the com system.

“This is Captain Sara Bryant-Reynolds of the Alliance exploratory vessel, Quest. We are on a mission to contact our long lost brothers and sisters from Earth. Hold your fire!”

“Launch warning!” Meghan called out. “Missiles inbound from the surface. Looks like six. ECM is having trouble. They're using frequency hopping.”

“Hold your fire!” Sara yelled into the com, “We are on a diplomatic mission to regain contact with Earth!”

“Tracking... six minutes to impact.”

“Standby lasers,” Sara ordered, “Secondary chain guns on automatic if the lasers let any through. Sound general quarters. Seal all internal doors. Jeff, get ready to move us if it looks like a hit.”

“Aye, Captain.” Several voices said in unison. Alarms began to sound all over the ship.

“To whomever is firing the missiles,” Sara said into the com, “I repeat. We are on a diplomatic mission from the Alliance of Planets. The system where the Exodus went four hundred years ago. We are your brothers and sisters.”

“Two minutes to impact,” Meghan said quietly, “In laser range in fifteen seconds.”

“Fire at will,” Sara ordered.

-

TBC

COMMENTS

Monday, July 13, 2009 1:36 AM

MAINEAXE


WHEW!!! keyboard gripping and WAY more exciting than I anticipated... Magnanamous....

Yes please.. May I have another???

Monday, July 13, 2009 4:55 AM

FREEVERSE


Shoot first, ask questions later hasn't changed in 400 years?! Eek!

Monday, July 13, 2009 9:59 PM

JANE0904


Brilliant! Now what?


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