mandated that they were to adhere strictly to the zero g exercise schedule.
As the default third mate, Tanaka made up the duty roster and watch list. Watez noticed that Tanaka and herself had the same off cycle, but did not think much of it at the time.
“New Eden space control, this is FRS Leif Ericson requesting permission for escape burn,” Watez said over her computer comm link.
“FRS Leif Ericson, this is New Eden space control: You are cleared for escape burn. Have a good flight and God be with youm” she heard in her earpiece. The crew where in jumpsuits instead of spacesuits, foundation medical thought this might help with the disorientation from the jump.
“Twenty percent burn in two minutes” Rios announced over the ship intercom.
Everything they said in the control module was being record and transmitted system wide, Watez hated this but she had no choice. The Federation and the Foundation insisted, Stryker explained it to her the night before: “Look, Amber, I know to you this is one more thing to do, but to people - even the space born - this is a historic event. You don't have the first manned interstellar flight every day!” Stryker had said through Watez's private communication channel.
“All right father, I’ll be good.” replied Watez had replied.
“Burn in one minute,” Rios's voice brought Watez back to the present. In the last minute argon gas was being heated in stages by electromagnetic waves to over one million degrees centigrade producing a superheated plasma.
“Ignition!” said Rios. The magnetic nozzles were now open and the escaping plasma began to apply thrust. The Leif Ericson slowly began to accelerate. It was only a tenth of a G, but the engines would stay on until thirty minutes before the jump.
“Ninety minutes to jump point,” announced Tanaka. Watez was pleased the command crew was operating like a real team. Their reports were timely and professional. She was also pleased with the control module. Unlike the cramped and rough-horned look of the X-301, the Lief Ericson's was as roomy as a modern airliners cockpit and the control panel had the analog and digital instruments side by side. All the switches and other controls were an easy reach from the acceleration seats.
“Engine cutoff in one minute,” intoned Rios
“Capacitors at one hundred percent, we are go for jump,” announced Paulson.
“Thirty minutes to jump,” Tanaka was closely followed by Rios saying, “Engine cutoff.”
The last thirty minutes went by with no problems. Watez could feel her excitement building with each passing minute. At five minutes to jump she took out her failsafe key, and at three-to-go she inserted the key and turned it to the ready position. Any second now she was going to become something no human had ever been before: the Captain of a Starship!
“JUMP!” Watez pushed down on the key.
It took six jumps to reach Epsilon. After each one the pain and disorientation lessened as if their minds and bodies were becoming used to the quantum transitions. Ten and a half light years in thirteen hours! Amazing, thought Watez. Two hours between jumps with a little time for Doctor Lovelock to take medical readings.
“Three days to the object under full thrust skipper. Sorry I couldn’t get closer,” Tanaka said in a pained voice.
“It's OK, Oka, this system is full of junk anyway,” observed Watez.
“Not surprising. The star is less than a billion years old, still a baby.” Watez gave Rios an amazed look.
“Yes, I actually read the report,”Rios said.
Watez opened a shipwide comm channel, “Main engine burn in one hour, enjoy gravity for the next two days people after that it's zero G,” she announced.
Twenty hours to rendezvous. The engines had been down for four hours and the ship was back to weightlessness, coasting toward the object. Watez drifted just above her acceleration seat in the control module, she’d pulled the midnight watch. She had ordered everyone to bed. The crew had been working long hours analyzing data making observations and getting ready for the big day, and she wanted everyone fresh. Their was only the small sounds all ships made as fans, pumps and other equipment went through their routine. She had the object on the main screen. Even at this distance she could tell it was huge.
When they had entered the system, they had contacted the Argo and ordered it to dump all