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SEP-010, Chapter 1.

Posted 04-24-2012 at 11:54 PM by Scav
Updated 08-31-2012 at 12:49 AM by Scav (Updated for rework.)

Alright. Let's get this show on the runway. Here is:

SEP-010, Chapter 1.

Pilot Jamie Cunningham climbed the last rungs of the ladder leading up to the aft deck, feeling remarkably happy that she was able to squeeze through the hole in the ceiling demarking the two decks on Constitution.

She took the hand offered her, and used it to pull herself up, setting a firm foothold on the decksole.

"Thank you," She said quietly.

"You know the way," Brandon Harris said as he released his handhold, giving her a smart nod, and Jamie nodded. She sucked in a deep breath, savoring the moment as she walked sideways towards the front, to the cockpit. The voice in the back of her head coached her along, encouraging her, and reminded her not to take the center seat behind the flight controller stations this time, and she smiled at the thought.

Glancing at the Mission Specialist Two workstation as she passed by, remembering her exploits the last time she was in space, her eyes rested upon the pilot's station at the right, and the reality of the unoccupied seat hit her mind like a brick just then. The last time she was where she was standing, Greg Williams had occupied that spot; now it was her turn. She felt eyes upon her, and she turned her head.

"Need any help?" Harris asked politely, and she nodded.

"Sure," She said with a wistful smile. "The last thing I want to do right now is throw a switch and light off the mains."

They chuckled at that comment. Constitution was still inside Orbiter Processing Facility #4, and was completely inert and locked out except for the oxygen and nitrogen feed system which was both expelling the correct mixture of breathable air for the crew, and powering the fuel cells in the back of the orbiter. She knew half of the six cells were turned on, strictly to provide ample power for lighting and computer logic; the remainder of the necessary power could be drawn from an exterior umbilical connection sourced from the hangar building itself.

She approached the pilot's station with Brian Adkinson and Jim Myers entering the cockpit, and she paused for a moment as she looked at the center console. She had seen pictures of the Space Shuttle's cockpit layout, and had gawked at the myriad of mechanical switches that were safed from just the thing she was about to try to do. The ejection chair was still set in an awkward spot (where the panels seemed to wrap around it), and she knew while the design was made primarily to make microgravity maneuvering easier, it could still be a pain in the ass to get in and out under a full Earth's gravity.

At least she didn't have to 'hop up' into the chair from 'below.' That fact seemed to make things physically easier.

She lifted her right foot over the center console, set it onto the chair, grabbed a handhold set into the ceiling with her left hand, set her right hand on the headrest, and hoisted herself up.

The pivoting motion in an ACES suit felt unnatural and ungainly to her, but she let a momentary sigh of relief pass out of her nose as she settled herself into the chair. She hoped her exhalation passed for the usual noise one would make while sitting down.

"Here's your five-point, Jamie," Harris said as he slipped the shoulder belts over, and she pulled the circular buckle up.

That task, she could do in her sleep, and in no time at all she had her chair and belts adjusted. Next came her flight helmet, which Harris slipped over her head with reassuring precision. The last thing she wanted was to go into space with the tip of her nose skinned off, after all -- not that her nose was that big, anyway.

She took the time to go over her checklists one more time, and as--

She looked up sharply as the air around her head moved suddenly, and she relaxed as she heard the mechanical locks on the crew access door cinch shut from below. The orbiter became very quiet just then, and she looked over to the commander's station.

Brian Adkinson flexed his fingers within his gloves, and he felt her eyes upon him. He looked over, and she smiled at him. He smiled back.

Her smiled faded. She felt a sudden sense of urgency, compounded by the side hatch closing below her, mixed with the sudden absense of the ground crew. The sound it made was all it took to drive home the point: She was about to spend the next two hours of her life on Earth, and after that she was going where few got to travel. The idea felt like an unstoppable train crashing through her mind, and she suddenly found herself starting to second-guess herself.

"I don't suppose we could speed this up?" She said, and Adkinson laughed.

"Let's activate our comm feeds."

"Right." She saw his left hand shoot up to the panel over his left shoulder. He flipped the dials for his headset, and she did the same on her own panel.

"Constitution, OTC. Comm check. CDR, do you read, over?" She heard.

"OTC, CDR. Loud and clear," Adkinson said.

"PLT, OTC, do you read, over?"

"OTC, PLT, loud and clear," Jamie said.

"MS-1, OTC. Do you read, over?"

"OTC, MS-1, loud and clear," She heard Anthony Downs announce.

"MS-2, OTC. Do you read, over?"

"OTC, MS-2, loud and clear," Sienna Morrison replied.

* * *

Flight Director Matthew Payton cleared his throat as he watched the video feed from the Shuttle Landing Facility terminal. The tow vehicle dragged Constitution forward across the displaced threshold, setting the nose of the spacecraft over the left side of the runway. The next step was for the tow to take a hard right, bringing the nose in-line with the runway. It was time.

"Flight controllers, listen up," He said into his microphone. "It's time for a flight status check."

* * *

"Constitution, OTC. Niner-zero seconds," Jamie Cunningham heard, and she nodded to herself. Her status repeaters indicated Constitution's main propulsion system was ready to go. The auxiliary power units were online and providing the correct hydraulic pressure to the control surfaces. The cabin leak check was complete. The flight computers were programmed. A minute and a half separated the calm before 'go time,' and she forced herself to breathe normally.

It wasn't as if anything particularly exciting was about to happen, after all.

She turned her head as she heard Adkinson cough, and he cupped his mic boom with his gloved hand.

"Take her to space, Ms. Cunningham," He intoned. "Let's stretch her legs out."

* * *

The color drained from Mission Specialist One, Sienna Morrison's face as she heard the words in her head, and a hand shot up to the shoulder strap on her harness out of sudden nervousness. Didn't the commander have any sense of history?

What the hell's wrong with that git? She wondered.

* * *

"Don't you ever say something like that again," Jamie hissed. Adkinson shrugged at her, giving her a defeated smile.

"Alright. Let's get our head back in the game."

"Wonderful suggestion," Jamie growled.

"PLT, OTC. Clear caution and warning, and verify no new errors."

She hit the necessary buttons. No new lights illuminated on the panel.

"OTC, PLT," She said. "Caution and warning cleared; no new errors."

"Roger that."

"Constitution, this is Flight Control. Sixty seconds. Visors down; initiate O2 flow. Stow all loose articles."

Jamie reefed her visor down angrily and the seals whuffed tightly as she stewed. The force she used was a little more than necessary . . . but then again, she was upset. She needed to have her head clear for what she was about to do, and having the Titanic thrown at her was a bit much for her just then.

"Thirty seconds. We are go for terminal countdown."

She waited the time out in her head, forcing herself into that calm zen-like state she'd found only a few times in her life. She felt her endorphins kicking in, and she settled into a calm breathing rhythm.

"Ten seconds. Nine . . . eight . . . seven . . ."

She heard the dull roar of the thrusters kicking in, one-by-one, lighting off in staggered 120-millisecond intervals. Each engine thrust indicator in front of her lagged to five percent, then began to climb. Eleven percent. Twenty five.

The vehicle began to vibrate as she watched the numbers rise . . . and then they abruptly fell as Constitution rattled and heaved.

The red light from the caution and warning panel flashed; she heard the buzzer peal out, and her eyes darted to the display as Constitution abruptly stilled herself.

"Left engine bank. Right engine bank. That's an RSLS abort," She snapped.

"Constitution, OTC. We have an RSLS abort, no fire indicator," She heard the voice rattle out in a forced calm. "PLT, OTC. Initiate RSLS abort checklist, and we'll meet you on page five dash three, over."

"Roger that, OTC," Jamie replied sharply as her skin prickled from the sudden adrenaline shot. "We show the same, no fire indicator, and I'll call back on five dash three."

* * *
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Aeadar's Avatar
    Posted 04-25-2012 at 01:04 AM by Aeadar Aeadar is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Interceptor's Avatar
    Good stuff Scav,keep it up.
    Posted 04-29-2012 at 05:07 PM by Interceptor Interceptor is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Scav's Avatar
    Thank you.
    Posted 04-29-2012 at 07:03 PM by Scav Scav is offline
 

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