Images and shapes distorted in and out focus, a lexicon of weird sounds and strange colors assailed his ears and eyes. To say Joshua Dubois' senses were in complete chaos would be an understatement. He was in the thick of hibernation sickness and he wasn't showing any signs of recovering near as quickly as the Commander or co-pilot Chow. To be alive and breathing at all was the pinnacle of his priorities and for the moment he was no different than a newborn newly out of the womb.
"Oh my God…oh my God." was all he was able to slightly wheeze out in his current state as he lay on the cold metal floor of the ship.
Only a few feet away, Alana Chow frantically checked and monitored all intact systems of the now critically drained Traverse. She brought up a holo-screen showing all the cryo-pods on the above deck and shook her head in puzzlement, as almost none of them showed any signs of activity "What the hell is going on, they should've all been brought out of cryo-stasis by now." Dubois slight groaning distracts her attention momentarily and she marches over to where he is still on the ground, giving him a slight shove with her foot "Get up Dubois, the Commander needs us!"
The stricken scientist looks up, his expression distant as he still has failed to fully register what is going on "I think I'm gonna go back. Yea, back to sleep, it's safe in there."
Chow kneels and forcefully raises the man to a sitting position "Dammit, Dubois listen to me! We are all going to die if you don't get a hold of yourself!"
"Die, I…I thought I was already dead." he says sheepishly, his limbs starting to tremble."
"Oh for God's sake, look at me, look!" she hollers, locking an intense stare with the man's eyes "The ship has reached the Shiva System, we're alive Dubois. You, me, Commander Chavez, all of us are…" she pauses for a moment and thinks carefully about her choice of words "Well the three of us anyway. I hope to Heaven I can speak for everyone else, but listen! We have to stay focused, the ship has only about thirty minutes of power left, the planet's gravity already has us and we can't maintain altitude for very long. If you don't get up and shake this off, all of this will have been for nothing. We would've traveled all this way just to burn up in the last few kilometers! Now I'm gonna go and check the rest of the cryo-pods. The Commander has already started landing simulations, now your gonna heave your black ass up off this floor and start a diagnostic cycle of the Cold Fission Reactors, it's what operates the stasis pods. Can you do that?"
Dubois seems to come more to his senses and realizes the dire urgency of the situation after Alana's "motivational" tirade. He swallows hard and after several seconds nods his understanding. Chow returns the gesture, slightly taps the side of his face and bolts off to the upper deck to check the status of her still unaccounted for crew mates.
Jason hurries along his way through a darkened corridor, his boots clanging against the metal grate floor as he runs. His mind racing a million miles a second as thoughts of urgency, tragedy, loss, pain and most of all anguish pour over his thinking. The waves of images of people, places, things; the constant banter of ghostly voices become all to much for the moment and he stops dead in his tracks. With cold sweat dripping down his face, he grips the side rails of the corridor and breathes deeply "Get it together Chavez, you've still got responsibilities here. The Earth maybe dead, but your not…focus damn you!" After a few agonizing moments, the stalwart commander composes himself and continues on to a doorway at the end of the deck and enters. Inside is another array of consoles and control monitors, all of sophisticated demeanor. Slowly he sits down at the main counter and flips a few switches, sparking the long dormant computers to life once more. The switchboards, dials, buttons and levers all blink several colors in a dance of digital synchronization. Jason exhales several nervous breaths "Traverse mainframe, run statistical simulations on possible landing patterns and report."
A holographic screen pops up, showing the many landing cycles of the Traverse. A second later the mechanical voice of the computer pipes in "Running simulations now…"
Dubois wipes his brow and rubs his eyes as they run over the many complicated systems of the Cold Fission Reactors cryo management apparatus. The entire system is a series of slender tubular cylinders arranged around a central operating core. The hyper accelerated coolant chemical compounds, which were responsible for the crew's long cryogenic slumber, were supposed to be closely monitored and equally distributed by this central system, ensuring maximum efficiency and safety of the cryo-freezing process. Dubois gains access to the central operation core by ducking low underneath and sliding himself under the computer mounted distributors. The sight that greets him, sends his own blood into spastic chills.
"What in God's holy name?" he says as a mass of smoldering wires and electrical chips greet him. Sporadic sparks fire off and Dubois fumbles to get a grip on the situation. Panicked, his hands push past the mass of severed wires until he comes to a row of digital gauges. He manually inputs several commands on a small keyboard and the gauges fluctuate wildly. Joshua's eyes dart back and forth as he processes the gambit of information. When the gauges stabilize, the scientist's heart sinks "Oh my dear God no. This can't be happening."
The long and narrow chamber stood in stark and eerie silence. The range of cryo-pods lined both sides of the hallway like structure, the glass hatches of the pods partially iced over from within. Their occupants, still and lifeless…the menagerie of tubes and wires connecting to the bodies still intact. The face masks pumping nothing but cold dead ice particles. It was clear that these people would not be coming out of cryo-hibernation. The very chambers intended to keep them alive, now served as pseudo coffins. The cryo chamber, had been transformed into a space fairing mausoleum.
The echoes of scurrying footsteps could be heard just outside the chamber as Chow makes her way to the forefront of the corridor, slightly out of breath from the trek over. The eerie silence causes her to narrow her eyes in suspicion. She checks the pods one by one, her panic escalating with each passing second "What the hell is going on, why aren't they waking up?" She continues to frantically check controls on several of the pods, but to no avail "The rejuvenation systems aren't responding." Alana pauses, she becomes hysterical for a brief moment "We don't have time for this, the ship is running out of power! Wake up, all of you!" At a loss, Alana begins to break down, she leans against one of the pods, her back sliding down slowly "Don't you understand, we made it, we're here." she says in a moaning whisper.
Her comm piece goes off and Dubois' voice can be heard on the other end "Dubois to co-pilot. Alana, do you read. We may be the only ones who survived. Most of the accelerants failed to reach optimum super cooled temperatures causing catastrophic failure in two thirds of the Cryo Pods. Without sufficient cold temperatures, the preservatives calcified. There must've been some kind of electric blowout in the central core shortly after we left. We're the only one's who made it through the hibernation stasis. Everyone else didn't make it."
In the heat of despair, Alana buries her head in her hands and silently begins to sob "How could this happen." she whispers. There was a stinging ache of unfairness, that circumstances would come to cull their numbers so soon after fate had already taken billions on Earth, centuries prior. But she had not witnessed humanity's mass exodus into the afterlife, and the death of those that surrounded her somehow hurt more than the holocaust she never saw.
Than out of nowhere she hears a faint tapping coming from one of the nearby pods. This jostles her out of her pain ridden sulking and Alana immediately goes to investigate the noise. Walking cautiously, she hears the tapping getting steadily louder as he nears. Her footsteps slow and methodical, Chow suddenly stops until she is in front of the pod in which she believes the strange disturbance is originating. With baited breath she looks through the ice encrusted glass, at first seeing nothing. Than a face bursts through the foggy mist inside and gently mashes up again the hatch door. Alana jumps back in fright, but soon realizes, she has found a survivor "Dubois, one's alive down here!"
"Who is it?" asks Dubois through the comm.
"I think it's the mechanic. I think it's Kincaid, she's alive!" shouts Alana.
The woman in the pod quickly fogs up the glass hatch, strands of her damp blonde hair falling into view. Alexia Keri Kincaid, Flight Engineer and Mechanic of the Traverse, weakly lifts one of her small feminine palms and presses it up against the glass in a silent plea for help. Chow quickly overrides the auto release of the hatchway and moments later Kincaid tumbles out of the pod. She is caught by Alana, who tries to steady her, the preservatives quickly melting off her body.
"Kincaid…Kincaid can you hear me?" asks Chow.
Alexia's eyes slowly move up to meet Alana's, even her face muscles not having enough strength to twitch.
"It's ok, it's alright, I've got you. We can save the meet and greet for later. Dubois, I'm coming back up!" she shouts.
The red alarm beacons still flashing the ship issues another time warning "Warning, warning, less than nineteen minutes remaining on main power grid."
As she struggles with Kincaid, Chow looks up and pleads with an unseen hand "God help us."