Monday, September 14, 2009

The Cold Calm of Space

"The Asteroid has been depeleted."

The soothing tone of the computer filled the cabin, the only sound other than the gentle humming whirl of the mining lasers and machinery deep within the ship, the subtle vibrations that play up and down and outer hull, and the soft and distant hiss of airlocks opening and closing as mining drones repeat their endless dance to and from the large rock floating in nothingness.

The soft moan of cushions as the chair moves, a few commands and the lasers shift to the next rock. Another touch and the targetting computers lock onto a new victim, placing the rock into queue for oblivion. A few more quick checks show that the cargohold is nearing capacity. A typed command informs the crew to intiate another transfer to the Orca that looms nearby.

All of the lights are turned low, that is how I like it. The dim readouts on the control panel provide all the needed illumination without taking away from the spendid kalediscope of space. The Orca hangs over my ship, filling up a portion of my view with the steady pulsing glow of her shields playing up and down the ship. I watch as the cargo containers drift from one bay effortlessly to the other, no tractors for guidance, just a simple push and physics to take care of the rest.

My lasers cut across the field of vision, adding their own bands of light to the fireworks display, and all set against the milky green blackness of Abhan's solar system. The sensation of just hanging in the maw of nothingness, a few feet of hull between me and complete emptiness beyond human comprehension is such a powerful feeling. For hours I will sit in the captain's chair and just wonder what it would be like to enter the airlock and hit eject without an egg, without a suit, with nothing but my nakedness touching the cold unfeeling soul of space.

Apparently I tried it once. I don't remember. Sure, I remember getting into the airlock and overriding the safety, but I don't remember what it felt like, to be truly alone in space. The MedLab techs said that it was too quick of a death for their to be any sensation, that my body would have merely vaporized from the depressurization. Another told me that it isn't uncommon to lose those last few minutes, especially if the ordeal is too traumatic for the mind. "Perhaps," she said, "We just aren't programmed to remember what death feels like."

I think it is something else though. Space is outraged at our audacity. We probe and prod and reach beyond all natural limits. We defy space, we defy death, we defy everything in our quest for power and understanding. Space holds tight to her secrets, she holds fast to whatever she can keep from us, making us tear the mysteries from her breast. But what space doesn't understand is I don't want her knowledge, I don't want her mysteries, I don't want her secrets. I just want her embrace.

"The Asteroid has been depleted."

Oh well, perhaps another day.

(My humblest of offerings to the great works of Fiction that Eve has inspired. Please let me know if you enjoyed this installment and I'll be sure to include more in the future.)

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