the sun dimmed and she was in a void. Alien and incomprehensible shapes appeared and danced around her for a time. Then the shapes were gone and the Tanaka was before her, with the lights on. Tanaka stood before the floating Watez her hand withdrawing from the light switch on the wall.
“Skipper…RP asked that I check on you. You did not answer his call and he needs to see you now,” she said in an embarrassed way. After a heart beat, she added, “God, you’re beautiful Amber.”
Watez said, “Thank you my little cherry blossom.” Tanaka turned red and fled the cabin.
Watez steadied herself by holding the back of the acceleration seat that Paulson occupied. He was bring up a chart on the engineering control panels screen.
“See? The Van Allen field strength is down twelve percent and I don't know why,” he said, pointing at the screen. The Van Allen field was a magnetic field that ships generated to shield them from cosmic rays and the solar wind. It acted like a smaller version the earth’s own magnetic field, colloquially known as the Van Allen belt, hence the machine’s name.
“Ship board radiation levels?” Watez asked.
“Up three points, still in the green,” answered Paulson.
“Can you fix it, RP?”
“If I can find out why it's doing it,” answered Paulson.
“Crap, well I am not going to wait. We’re going to pull out,” Watez said.
“The lord Doctor Carter's not going to like that” said Rios from the right hand fight seat.
“Fuck him! Rios call an emergency all hands meeting for one hour,” Watez ordered.
“No, No, No, we can't leave now! I haven’tt even competed the radar mapping,” Carter pleaded. Watez was tired of arguing with him and pointed at Doctor Johnson.
“Johnson, Lovelock you explain it to him,” she said.
“Well,” started Johnson, “even though Epsilon is a class K star and smaller than the Sun, it's young and more energetic. Its stellar wind is more powerful than Sol's, so there’s more radiation. The alien ship is blocking some of the radiation now, but in a few days our orbit about the L point will put us in the full force of the wind.”
“I am too old to get radiation sickness, thank you very much,” added Lovelock.
“Doctor Cater, our primary mission has been completed. That alien ship is dead and is no threat to Earth, or the Federation. Everything else is just gravy,” Watez said, looking at Tanaka who blushed again. Watez continued, “Tanaka, program a full power burn to the jump point, launch in twenty four hours from now.”
Three hours to launch, and the command crew was all at their stations going through the check lists.
Watez opened a command channel to Carter, “Doctor I want you on board by T minus two hours is that clear?”
“Captain, can't we delay it for a few hours? I just had an idea: the aliens my see in different wave lengths than us and I want to take infrared and ultraviolet shots of the walls.”
Something in what Cater said triggered a thought in Watez mind. “Rios continue the count. I am going over to the alien ship.” Watez unbuckled her seat harness and started out of the command module
“But skipper..” started Tanaka.
Watez stoped at her seat and with out thinking about it kissed Tanaka on the cheek, “Don't worry Oka I be back in plenty of time.”
Watez cycled through the airlock and came face to face with Carters’ assistant.
“Suzuki get back to the ship. The Doctor and I will follow shortly” Watez told her.
“Hai,” said Suzuki with a slight head bow.
Watez removed her helmet and gloves and handed them to Carter as his assistant entered the airlock. After Suzuki had had cycled through, Watez looked at Carter and said
“Doctor - no time to explain, but would you please stay exactly where you are, turn off all the lights in here and stay silent?”
Carter looked as if he was going to argue, then thought the better of it and turned and the lights went out. Watez launched herself down the passageway setting her suit thrusters to keep her straight and moving forward slowly. Then she started to hum and click, starting to sense the walls and the equipment that Carter was abandoning. It was like she was a little girl again, before her sight came. She was using echo location to perceive the world.
As she moved, forward barely perceived shapes started to form in her mind. The unexplained dots and dips and swirls on the walls started to form pictures. They were faint and alien and she could not fully make them out but they were there. Then the passageway ended and she entered the room with the ultrasonics. She fell silent. The suit thrusters stopped her when it noticed the approaching wall.
Watez drifted in the middle of the room, slowly turning. Shapes again began to form stronger than in the hall, but still only hinted at - as if looking at something through a veil. An idea struck her and she started to remove her spacesuit and then the jumper she wore underneath.
Floating naked in the center of the room, with the ultrasonics playing over every inch of her skin and stimulating her nerve endings, geometric shapes began to form in her mind stronger and stronger until it was almost like seeing them with her eyes.
She drifted forward towards what they thought might be a control panel, and placed her hands on the pads. On the left she felt bumps raising and falling in a complex pattern that at first puzzled her half-forgotten memories surfaced: braille. There was information being transferred by touch, if only she knew the code.
Watez felt nothing from the right pad, so she slide her fingers across its surface. Suddenly the shapes in her mind exploded into sharp focus and became three dimensional. Her newfound vision seemed to expand as the ultrasonics increased in strength. It was like she could see in all directions at once. The shapes started to take on colors as if a ray from the sun had struck a giant prism, alien symbols began to form. It felt as if she was hearing colors and seeing sound. This synesthesia was quickly becoming overwhelming. What she saw in her mind was alien and terrible and wonderful and beautiful all at the same time. It was like her mind was expanding, time and space were intertwining and she was seeing the universe as it really was for the first time. It was the most beautiful thing she could have imaged - more beautiful than anything she had ever seen with her eyes!
It was God's symphony.
Tears of joy forming as her emotions moved higher and closer toward rapture. She could now see the songs of the stars; feel the sad waves of energy crashing across the galaxy from collapsing matter; taste the cry of new born suns as they blazed to life. Time no longer existed, it could have been a minute or a hour since she started, a single heart beat could take an eternity here there was no way to tell. She felt on the verge of losing her identity, she felt as though she was becoming Eve for a new world.
She heard a small human voice in her right ear, “Thirty minutes to escape burn, oh please Amber come back to the ship we need you, I need you!” Tanaka pleaded.
This human cry snapped Watez back from the edge. The vision of the universe slowly faded and died. She used her command override to turn on the work lights not caring if Carter saw her naked.
“On my way, Oka, sorry to worry you.” Watez said stiffly, and closed the circuit so she wouldn’t hear the reply. What she had just lost caused an ache in her soul too deep and too strong for human words.
Looking around, she found her jumper. It had drifted to the ceiling, she leaped for it and push then herself back down toward her spacesuit as she dressed. Reaching the floor, she started to pull on her suit, fumbling with the straps and starting back down the passageway before she had it fully sealed.
“What happened?” Carter asked with surprisingly genuine concern, “We couldn’t raise you for almost a hour, I couldn’t find my way to you.”
“I think I found the answer to your question Doctor Carter,” Watez said, distracted and somewhat disaffectedly.
“There is a God.”
She had become a Daughter of Elysium.
Copyright 2009,2010 Richard Anderson
[PLEASE NOTE: This story concludes our retrospective of fiction from 2009, and Republibot.com will start running new stories now.]