Archaea 2: Janis

Archaea 2: Janis by Dain White Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Archaea 2: Janis by Dain White Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dain White
light the fires!”
    My head crushed back into the headrest as we hurtled to orbit on an incandescent column of fire.
     
    *****
     
    I held the yoke tight as the sky turned black through the forward port, and fought to keep my eyes open against the acceleration as I was crushed against the cushions.
    Even with pseudomass compensation projecting a gravity well ahead of us to counteract our acceleration, we were still experiencing close to six gravities, more than enough to cause unconsciousness in all but the most seasoned pilots.
    Of course, I was seasoned like a salty dog, and concentrated on breathing and staying alert as the waypoint timer clocked down on my screen, and the slipspace transit approached. I checked the boards to make sure there wasn't anything flashing ambers, and started energizing the slipspace field right on the mark.
    Slipspace works on the principle of capturing a bubble of normal space, then accelerating that bubble beyond the speed of light by projecting pseudomass ahead of us, pulling us down deeper and deeper into a warped hole in spacetime.
    The pseudomass generators function using a frame drag effect, caused by a dense packed array of supercooled, magnetically accelerated rings. Each ring in the array is accelerated in phases, amplifying the effect and allowing it to be focused. The entire unit is mounted in a gimballed armature that allows it to be aimed – this is how we direct pseudomass to offset grav-loading and keep us from splashing into puddles of warm pink goo when I light the fires.
    Janis had plotted an assisted slipspace course that was flashing front and center on my screen, with a big red button marked EXECUTE. If there's one thing I like more than anything else, it's pressing a big red button. My finger was getting that itchy feeling... once the stasis field had energized, there was only one thing left to do.
    “All hands, stand by for an in-system slipspace run – secure for free fall at this time.”
    I kicked off the burn, and almost immediately my eyes cleared and the gray tunnel I was staring through started to fade. I gave my head a good shake to clear it, and mashed the red button.
    “Everything is looking good in engineering, Captain” Gene said on comms. “How long is this slip?”
    “Only a few more seconds Gene – just a little tiny hop, nothing to it.” I said, exuding enough cool for any number of cucumbers.
    “And then what Dak? Do you have a plan for what comes next? We don't know what we're facing here, do we?”
    “Gene, I always have a plan. Stand by.”
    I needed a plan. Plans require information, and information is power. Power is... well, Janis would know.
    “Janis, dear, do you have any information on the target characteristics? Mass, configuration, armament, that sort of thing?”
    “Absolutely sir, the target masses 30 tons, and is best characterized as a heavy runabout, inter-system capable. I am unable to postulate armament or crew compliment, but I am reasonably confident the target is boosting towards a rendezvous with a larger long-haul craft of some sort.”
    “Thank you Janis, that's just what I needed to know.” I scratched my head and allowed myself the luxury of a thought or two. I try not to make a habit of it, but from time to time they are unavoidable.
    “Janis, please clone target solutions to Pauli's screen--”
    “Captain, I don't know the first thing about this role!” Pauli turned in his chair to fix me with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed look.
    “Pauli, there's nothing to it. Shorty's down, so I need you man. Janis is going to handle firing, but I need you to keep an eye on the solutions. Can do?”
    “I'll do my best, sir.”
    “That's all I can ask, son. You'll do fine. I need you to keep an eye on Janis as well, but you do that in your sleep already.” I flashed him the smile of ultimate command, guaranteed to boost confidence or else.
    “Gene, we're coming out of slipspace in a few moments. I will need full power

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