Author's Note: Hi there! Thank you for deciding to pick up NanoTec: Flight to a Distant Star. As you can see, the book is incomplete as of 11 September 2016. I do intend to redo the whole of the first arc in the near future. No major changes will be made though. Just writing improvements. Stay tuned!
Copyright: If by any chance any individual would like to use my content for any purpose, it is acceptable, assuming the usage is following my guidelines. Please do not use my content for financial gain. Please link your adapted material back to me. If there are any questions involving this, I will be obliged to assist.
Disclaimer: All characters, ships, weapons, technologies etc... are works of fiction. There is no intention of infringing copyright of any developer if at all. Any relation to individual, alive or dead is purely coincidence.
Special thanks to 'IceOriental123' and Keiron Wong.
Thank you for choosing to pick up NanoTec: Flight to a Distant Star. This chapter has been rewritten on the 22 September 2016 at the request of my head writer. Well, to be honest, I never particularly liked the way I wrote the original either.
To new readers, welcome! To old readers, thank you for sticking around to this day. I really appreciate it. I hope you all enjoy the new and improved Chapter 1!
*End of Author's Note. *
For ages long before, and for many more to come, the human race have always looked up to the stars. The question always remained, when will they begin to travel among them. From the beginning of the 1950s was when the space age begun. Countless testing and experimentation have been conducted. Breakthrough after breakthrough, through the sweat and blood of many, many brilliant men and women, through the countless failures and lives lost, they have brought the technology and wisdom to change the world.
Curiously enough, a strange entity etched itself in human history in January of 2015. ICY Products, together with that entity, began as an ice cream company. They were the most technologically advanced in those days and were influential in their town's politics. InterCon followed second in the late 2020s with their marvel inventions and ideals. Some say that it stole technology from ICY but, nobody really knows. This was when ICY Products lost their monoploy of the local economy and disappeared from the play field.
InterCon gave the world a new incentive to go to war over. A revolutionary new element. Everyone always fights over new things. This one was no exception. The bombs fell, and everything went to hell. The Earth Coalition Government, or EarthGov, emerged soon after and united the crippled planet together under a single a red flag of hammer and sickle. They strove to find humanity a new home. Or so they said.
Money was poured into space flight. Many saw it as the salvation for mankind. It was in its own sense, but many others had other ideas. ICY Products, previously thought to have melted away (no pun intended) long ago reappeared and began actively supported EarthGov in a new secret project, despite being on terrible terms with them. InterCon however, stood idle.
Alas, the fruits of their labors finally ripened. All the investments, all the resources and more importantly, all the hopes and dreams of humanity finally showed results. After the audacious amounts of research and administrative work, EarthGov was ready to announce it's biggest project since the last mass bombing of the planet's surface. The final frontier, SkyLab2.
Story Arc 1: Over a Blazen Sky.
TKE was an official working for EarthGov as an engineer and a particle physicist. His job was of high status and pay, that is if he even received a salary to begin with.
He was of average build, about 175 cm tall and 21 years old. He had short black hair and a pair of equally black eyes. He had no name but his code initials, TKE. As a result, he was often referred to as "Teeke", the Head Engineer.
As he sat in his office contemplating the final plans and date for the launch of the final module of the kilometer long and wide SkyLab2, his office door burst open with a bang.
"Hey Teeke!", resounded the shrill voice of TKE's assistant, Clanedd.
She was someone one could say was "happy-go-lucky", always easily distracted but is serious when need be. She was a 156 cm tall freshman about 19 years old. Her short light brown hair held to her left head with a cat shaped clip. She flew into the room.
"Have you seen Mr Saegen, our manager, recently? I hear that he..."
"Get to the point please, I do not have time. And please do not refer to me as that during work." TKE interrupted hastily.
Clanned stuttered a little and replied quickly, "Right sir...Alright, I have done my analysis and final system checks on the information sent in of the crew blocks and they are prepped for launch. Now we need the scientists and engineers to board and we should be ready to go. By the way, when are we launching again?"
TKE replied monotonously, "This Saturday, tomorrow."
Clanned jumped up and down in excitement, clapping her hands, "Great! Then see you there sir."
Clanedd stepped out of the room and closed the door. "Please help me speak to Mr Saegen about the snacks issues please!" Clanedd added as she left.
The following morning, TKE and his team of 36 engineers boarded a high speed A86 Hypersonic Jet, to the launch site stationed at what was then known as Africa. With a loud roar and an equally intense acceleration, the Turboprop/Ramjets were ignited as the plane lifted clear off the ground.
Seeing the brown, barren lands of what used to be the tip of the Malaysian peninsula made TKE's heart lower. Ever since "InterCon", then and still is one of the most powerful companies in the world, started massive bombing runs on countries infected by an unknown bio-weapon, South East Asia being one of them, it caused world wide nuclear winter and the rest of humanity retreated to underground habitation.
Even though most of the radioactive fallout have been scrubbed from the Earth and atmosphere, surface bound civilization is still not possible. Either due to the high ambient temperature, high concentration of Radon particles in the air or due to the much thinner ozone layer. TKE thought to himself, if only he could have seen Earth as a lush green planet again... At about this time, the A86 slipped into supersonic silence.
The plane was inbound for the launch site in about 10 minutes. The A86 slipped back into sub-sonic flight. TKE felt the thoughts of launch failure slip into his mind. He forcefully brushed that thought aside and flicked the "On" switch for his MIC. In a sharp and serious voice he briefed his engineers.
"Men, I hope you understand the importance of our job. If you don't already know, we are here to make the final checks on the StarX Boosters and the crew accommodations. Ensure there are absolutely no hull breaches, faulty wiring, broken reactor shielding, etc... Whatever you do, please do not enter rocket sector 05. That is an order. Understood?"
With a resounding and clear "Yes sir!" from the engineers, the plane made its descent down onto the runway.
The Titan XV Rocket stood majestically on the launch pad. Light glimmering off the titanium hull. The billion dollar beauty was about to be inspected on the inside and outside and soon was going to be exposed to the hard vacuums of outer space. TKE dispersed his engineers off to various sections of the craft while he himself suited up into a T-295 RShield Suit.
"Clanedd, please follow me. We are going to check the fission reactors personally." she answered as though she was on coffee high, already suited up, "Y-Yes sir."
The two chief engineers stepped into the MagLift installed onto the launch tower and stepped through the airlock.
The first thing the two engineers saw were the white inner walls of the crew capsules. They saw no crew as the 120 thousand of them were in cryostasis in the chambers to the left and right of them.
Still looking at his paper notebook and checklist, TKE and Clanedd then proceeded into the reactor chamber. TKE looked at the single blast door in front of him, noting the numbers "05" above it.
"Wait a minute," Clanedd started, "I thought we were not supposed to enter room 05?" TKE, seemingly ignoring her, stepped forward and pressed the "open" button.
"Something's odd about this... I can hear... voices?" he muttered to himself.
"This is no time for jokes sir! Or I am going to call you Teeke the rest of your life...?"
"Clanedd, follow me. I know this is an EarthGov secret but I am curious. If nobody finds out, then the order isn't broken. In any case, as head engineer, I have the right to inspect every sector of the craft. At least on paper."
The blast door slid open revealing a 3/3/2 (m) chamber, centered with a glowing blue orb orbited by what seemed to be graphene rods.
TKE stuttered "What the hell is that?!"
Clanedd shook her head. Apparently she knew nothing of it as well.
The core roared or seemed to. It glowed an even brighter cyan blue and the whole rocket started shaking. Clanedd and TKE were thrown across the room.
"What's this? An earthquake?" Clanedd shrieked. "We better get out of here fast!"
"Umm, alright lets go?" TKE answered in response.
The two engineers ran towards the airlock. "Shit! The doors are jammed! What's going on?"
"Clanedd, try look through the windows!" TKE yelled behind his back.
Clanedd nodded, frantically scrambling and trying to find anything transparent to look through.
"... S-Sir, may I ask, what is that? What does it do? Surely you must know!"
TKE shook his head and replied "I don't know. I think it is a secret EarthGov experiment. I did catch a glimpse of it's designation though... MAXIS If I read it correctly. Meanwhile try to find somewhere to look out from!"
Clanedd shouted across the room.
"Ok I managed to hack this control panel and am now accessing the lower cameras... Enter password? Damn it!"
"Let me try!" TKE yelled back. "Where are you?"
After he located his assistant, TKE ran towards the panel, nearly tripping over his own feet twice.
"Ok, never underestimate the skill of the head engineer! Password...? What kind of password is that? 'luckyme'?"
A sudden downwards force made itself apparent. It pushed downwards with such force, the two engineers found it appallingly difficult to remain standing on their two feet.
"Ugh! This... are we taking off?"
TKE had his fingers on the panel. "Come on... come on, windows crashed?! You have got to be kidding me!"
There was a sudden sound of scraping metal against metal on metal and the total downwards force upon the two... suddenly ceased. TKE finally managed to access the cameras. The first thing he saw were the white clouds and brown ground of mother earth below. Not to mention the ring of metal many previous space launches produced orbiting the planet.
"...It appears that we are in space. After telling my engineers not to enter room 05..." TKE said to himself, "I feel like a dammed hypocrite."
Approximately two hours later, there was the sound of a magnetic link being established and the hissing of nitrogen evaporating that woke the two half snoozing engineers.
"I think... we have engaged in s... I mean we have docked with SkyLab2! Sir!"
Half asleep, TKE replied, "So have we."
The previously jammed airlock now swung open with ease. The inner walls of the SkyLab2 were similar to that seen in the cryo chambers, white and high tech looking. Sprawled upon the floor was a man of similar stature as TKE and was wearing a black lab coat and an equally black pair of shades. Pinned on his right pocket was his ID "Saegen"
TKE ran forward and knelt by his body "Hey! Hey! Are you ok sir?"
Saegen did not stir.
"Oh no! Clanedd get a medic!"
"There is nobody conscious on this station but the two of us! Where's the nearest medkit?"
Just at this moment, the seemingly dead body of Saegen started shivering, and burst into uncontrollable laughter.
"Ha Ha! I knew, Ha, I would get, Ha Ha. you with that... Huh you are... Teeke and Clanedd! What are you doing here!"
"Don't call me Te..."TKE tried to speak
"And why are the two of you dressed as though you are about to embark on a mission to the Diode Project?"
"What is the Diode Proj..."
"And where is the crew? Were there supposed to be more than 100 thousand of them?"
Saegen interrupted once again.
"Wait, wait wait wait... I am asking the questions here Mr Saegen. What are YOU doing here and when did you get on board?"
"Ah, it is a long story my dear Teeke." Saegen answered. "I arrived on board the Artificial Gravity module. I was doing some research on the MAG technology ICY Production sold us for $10 and I did not hear the announcements over the comms for launch... Well here I am!" Clanedd walked up to Saegen such that their two faces touched.
"Mr Saegen, about the snacks..."
The sound of the opening of the airlocks to the crew modules entered into TKE, Clanedd and Saegen's ears, followed closely by the sound of a hundred or so jaws hitting the ground. The chief scientist of SkyLab2, Claev, standing his full 190 cm, still dazed by cryosleep, spoke in a half drunken fashion.
"Huh? What are... Who are you people?"
Saegen stood up and spoke in your typical scientist voice, "Ah good to see you. It is alright Dr Claev. These engineers suffered the same fate as I. I will explain later. Do we have sufficient life support here?"
Claev opened his mouth to speak to only be interrupted by TKE.
"Engineering reports sufficient oxygen and subsistence to excess of 121 thousand personnel, in other words, three of us should make no difference whatsoever."
Saegn's face lit up, "Great! It is settled. Gentlemen, let me introduce TKE, head engineer of EarthGov; Clanedd, assistant head engineer of EarthGov, and myself. After all, none of us wants to return to that filthy planet right?"
Saegen's remark was followed by the nods of all 132 personnel who were present in the room.
"I'll do the necessary administrative work." Saegen said. "A little hacking never hurt anyone."
Time flies. And did time really fly by. All in the life of an engineer, one could expect him to work all day. TKE did. Clanedd was there to assist him of course but, there was no time to number his days and the years passed one by one.
It was the usual routine everyday. Wake up, work, sleep repeat. EarthGov never found out about the strange crew discrepancy aboard SkyLab2. It was as though everything was as it was meant to be. Nothing worthy of note happened... At least until the late 2084. The year that everyone would never forget.
"SkyLab2 is no different from the underground bunkers we stay in don't you think Clanedd?" TKE said, casually dropping a rhetorical question.
"After all, we have been in space for almost five years..." TKE sat side by side with Clanedd in the observatory decks, reminiscing about the past events.
"Yeah, I guess so..." Clanedd blushed.
TKE almost never had time to spend with Clanedd, especially with the amount of paperwork and analysis he had on his head.
"By the way, you still have not explained to me what the MAXIS is."
TKE let out a soft sigh and began, "Alright Clanedd. Putting it simply, according to reports, MAXIS is not from our world. It...She is of alien origin. MAXIS can be used as a power source but, she will only output power depending on her mood. In other words..."
The comms channel opened, interrupted TKE and out blared the familiar voice of Dr Claev, "TKE, we need you down in the PAR&PRP (Particle and Propulsion) sector in 15 minutes. Can you make it?"
The head engineer tried to sound enthusiastic, "Yeah sir, we are on our way; come on Clanedd, we have a job to do."
Clanedd spoke in a quiet, yet strangely sweet voice, "We should try to spend more of our time together like this... right... Teeke?"
TKE said softly, "I guess you are right..."
Clanedd jumped to her feet, her cat clip swaying in response to her excitement. "Ok! Lets go!"
"Rgh! This is no good! Every time we try to get this to work, it always blows up in my face!" Saegen groaned. The nuclear fusion technology he was working on was far from done. "Careful there mate. Our "Trans-Lightforce Fubuki Fission Reactors" cannot output this much power for too long." The dual glazed blast doors slid open. TKE and Clanedd walked briskly into the room, donning their white engineering protective gear.
Ever since the invention of the Bio-RIG a mere 2 years ago, it made all form of experimenting much safer and reliable. The RIG is mounted across the spine of the user and it displays holographic notations and graphs of all relevant information for the user's activities such as temperature and radiation levels.
There is also the physical and mental health bars of the user, should any of these health bars reach zero, the RIG would emit a loud "flatline" noise so that anyone within earshot will be notified of the user's death.
Not only that, the RIG employs a unique tracking system such that anyone is traceable wherever on board a station or ship. That was why no one flinched when TKE and Clanedd entered the room without warning.
TKE stepped forward.
"Sir you needed help? We are ready."
Claev shot to his feet. With a tinge of frustration in his voice he spoke rapidly.
"Yes, indeed we do. My friend here and I have been working on this fusion reactor for more than 1354 man hours already to no avail. I would have thought that I would never have needed the help from a bunch of engineers but could you see what we are doing wrong here?"
TKE was taken aback slightly by Dr Cleav's final remark but regained his composure.
"I understand. Let me take this pile of horse crap back to my office and see what I can do. I am sure it would lead to a breakthrough... director."
TKE once again was sitting on his space office chair analyzing the lump of spare parts on his desk which was supposed to be a fusion reactor. Clanedd was sitting beside him silently providing him with a supple amount of mental support.
TKE's RIG was displaying a net neutron release amount from the appliance to be exactly zero. He cupped his hands around forehead and let out a silent moan. This "reactor" really was garbage, he thought to himself.
"Wait a minute..."
TKE mumbled to himself. "Radiate neutrons... Radiator... Heat Sink!"
He stood up sharply and spoke so loudly due to excitement that the hairs on Clanedd's back stood on ends.
"Clanedd! Go down to the engineering department and get me a dual nitrogen radiators and three tapping screws! I think this going to be one hell of a breakthrough!"
Clanedd widened her eyes at this sudden request. "Right away. Which radiator again?"
"The biggest one you can find!"
With new tools at his disposal and motivation welling up in him, TKE put his mind forward into the task at hand once again.
"Ok, I am done. Clanedd, would you mind passing me the high voltage jump cables attached to the wall over there?" TKE said, wiping his sweat off his brow.
Clanedd stammered, "Umm, Te... I mean sir, I really do not think this is such a good idea... I mean to say, what if this thing blows up in our faces?"
TKE laughed, "Don't worry! I am an engineer, I fix problems. Trust me on this. After all, what is the worst that could happen..."
*Boom! * The sound came as fast as it went.
"*Warning! Warning! Hull breach detected! Oxygen levels dropping rapidly...76%! Sealing off all local ventilation ports and quarantining the affected area!**"
"Damn, me and my big mouth." TKE mumbled to himself, amidst the loud, high pitched screaming of Clanedd.
After what seemed like nearly ten minutes of a constant gale blowing out the shattered window, the blast shutters clanged shut.
TKE and Clanedd collapsed to the ground. His office was in a mess, papers were all over the place and also in space. Not to mention TKE was still clinging onto his table and Clanedd was lying on the floor looking very pale and dazed.
Claev burst into the room.
"What have you done this time?!" he bellowed, "You had one job! One job! Now, where are the reactor debris?"
TKE coughed and replied weakly, "I really have no idea sir. One moment, the thing was on my table, then it formed some sort of weird distortion bubble around itself and flew out of the window. It was as if the "reactor" was traveling at some sub-luminal velocities!"
Claev listened on with large eyes and a rather surprised composure. He continued, "Do you still have the models and figures of what you built?"
"Well, my paper documents flew out of the window..." Dr Claev face started turning red. "I mean, urr, well I have the softcopy! Here, in the computer!"
Dr Claev cleared his throat and bent forward such that his face was right next to TKE's. He spoke in a soft voice, with a tinge of suppressed excitement. "You were right. This really is a breakthrough. Not what we expected but still one *redacted*ing breakthrough!"
He leaped up into the air so high, even Clanedd seemed surprised.
"Head Engineer, sorry to have doubted you before. If what you have created is really what I think it is, oh man, I cannot think straight!"
Claev laughed. He turned towards the still half-dazed Clanedd. "Miss, go to the communications centre and tell the officers there to cut the ties with EarthGov. They cannot know about this!"
Dr Claev put his hand around TKE's shoulders. "Head Engineer, looks like you have really done it this time!"
To be continued.