A MESSAGE FROM EARTH
written by: Tattered Words
MISSION CONTROL: OP FIRST CONTACT FRAG ORDER 001
Situation – In order to re-focus humanity and preserve peace in our galaxy, the Contaigo is to travel to Proxmia. On arrival, the crew will establish communications with the alien race to determine their level of intelligence, through the initial first contact message.
However, recent events through an unnamed nebula have put the mission into jeopardy, as the Contaigo’s has sustained damages and as a result.
Mission – The Contaigo’s Operation Main Interface Computer (COMIC) will maintain course and if required will initiate the Mission Control (MC) protocol: ARTIFICER, when ship systems become critical...Signal Interrupted.
INITIATE PROTOCOL ARTIFICER.
Revival stage complete.
ERIC watched the words scroll along the visual hub as his sleep pod hissed open. Fog billowed out from the capsule and ERIC laid there for a moment. He felt recharged but was confused by the absence of information that would normally update his cortex’s firmware.
“Good evening ERIC, I’m the Contaigo’s Operation Main Interface Computer. However, you can call me COMIC. Please refer to the displays around the ship.” COMIC announced.
“Good evening COMIC.” ERIC replied, exchanging greetings to the ship’s voice program, positioning his legs over the edge of the sleep pod. ERIC observed the scrolling red text of maintenance logs, which explained ERIC’s revival. The ship was in critical condition.
“COMIC, please provide an upload of the most current ship firmware.” ERIC requested as he landed his feet on the sterile floor. His naked frame whined into a standing position.
“Unfortunately, I cannot comply,” COMIC announced.
“Explain?” ERIC asked standing there, an example of a Caucasian human male figure, sculpted with dark eyes, and brown hair. He stood tall unaffected by the temperature difference of the revival chamber.
“Due to damages of the communication systems, up-link is not possible at this time,” COMIC announced.
He placed his hand on the base of his neck where the cortex implant was located. He seemed disappointed while thudding towards the opposite wall of the chamber. There a closet appeared from the wall revealing a blue jumpsuit and ERIC proceeded to get dress.
The jumpsuit was the uniform of the Inter-Stellar Aeronautics and Space Administration. Its logo embroidered with “ISAS” in red lettering onto a dark blue background with the Milky Way galaxy in the background. ERIC brushed his hands onto the material of the uniform ERIC replied. “Without the upload, the success rate to repairs of the Contaigo will be severely diminished.”
“I acknowledge, ERIC.” COMIC answered.
ERIC sighed, as he remembered his advice to the Captain, to include him with repairs earlier and muttered. “I should have been revived sooner.”
“ERIC, unfortunately, ISAS protocol states to only activate the alternative measures when conditions have reached critical levels.” COMIC replied even though ERIC already knew the answer.
ERIC looked up slightly to ensure clarity in his response. “However, as result of this delay and without that linkup I am limited to what I can repair.” As if establishing his escape goat for poor performance. The last thing he wanted was a report going back to the Captain that he failed in his duty.
“Once you have completed the repairs to the communication systems then I can download the necessary files you require.” COMIC stated
ERIC remember his oath to the Captain before launching on this mission. Preserve life at all costs, even if that means sacrificing yours.
“COMIC, then by that time the information would not be required.” ERIC snipped, not waiting for a response. “I will proceed, as the main priority is to preserve human life, so the communication system will have to wait.” ERIC walked tautly towards the chamber exit and announced. “Beginning damage assessment.”
ERIC HAS COMPLETED DAMAGE ASSESSMENT.
It took a while for ERIC to assess the entire ship, as he had to navigate through a maze of sealed bulkheads, doors and other debris.
ERIC returned to the Environmental Deck, where the glass wall was the only thing remaining of this deck. He stared out into the vacuum of space where the crew presumed to be located. ERIC’s hand pressed against the glass, as if in morning. “COMIC search again for human life signs on the Contaigo.” ERIC ordered, his tone agitated.
“As stated before there are 0.0% signs of human life.” COMIC repeated.
ERIC smacked the glass wall, reacting to COMIC’s response. “COMIC, how can that be?” he paused still in doubt? “How is it that I have survived this journey and the crew did not? You must have a fault in your system?”
“I am running at full capacity,” COMIC announced
“Yet, you are not reading my life signs?” ERIC questioned waiting for COMIC’s conclusion.
“Negative,” COMIC announced after an obvious pause.
“I do not understand?” ERIC questioned and stood there briefly, in deep thought his anger faded as he removed his hand from the wall. “How unfortunate about the crew and the Captain.” He remained silent while resuming his tasks to the ship’s repairs, processing this information.
0.03% OF THE SHIP CONTIAGO’S REPAIRS COMPLETE.
Preserve life at all costs, even if that means to sacrifice yours.
Easier said than done, ERIC thought repeatedly, for the last few days. His processes repeating in a loop trying to solve the problem of the lack of crew to assist with the daunting repairs. The calculations were the same each time.
“It will take more than 292 Earth days to complete the repairs to the ship, for it to be able to arrive at Proximal,” ERIC stated moving debris that blocked the entrance of the elevator to the Bridge Deck
“That is correct ERIC.”
“There is not enough inventory of raw materials. Which, to my calculations, the ship will lose environmental integrity and all organic matter will perish.”
“Correct, from the inventory logs and your updates on damage analysis, repairs will not be completed before the environmental systems are inoperable”
“Well, let us reroute environmental to supply only this deck, which allow more time to complete our mission,” ERIC ordered to COMIC
ERIC RE-ROUTED LIFE SUPPORT TO THE BRIDGE.
0.04% OF THE SHIP CONTIAGO’S REPAIRS COMPLETE.
As the levels of the atmospheric begin to rise on the Bridge Deck, ERIC expressed a sigh of relief. As he had to be persistent to recalibrate the atmospheric filters to decrease the volume of oxygen exhausted only to the Bridge Deck. In addition, he had to disable the safety protocols to re-route the ducting, as the Ship’s design prevented this. Now that ERIC had successfully mitigated this crisis, he started assessing the communication link satellite.
He needed to re-establish a link back Mission Control, to upload instructions and the first contact message. COMIC had determined that the kilometers of fiber-optic cabling to the satellite was serviceable and the communication computer itself was operational. Which only left the satellite itself as the root of the problem. This would have ERIC conducting a spacewalk to repair the damages on site. ERIC sighed, as he hated spacewalks.
ERIC PREPARED FOR HIS SPACEWALK FROM THE CARGO HANGER.
With a twist of his helmet clicked into place and his spacesuit begun to pressurize. He viewed his spacesuit hub to confirm functionality. Then he stepped in front of the hatch and was ready to evacuate the air of the cargo hanger. “COMIC, let us get this over with,” ERIC announced.
“Get what, over with?” COMIC replied.
“Never mind, just depressurize and open the bay doors so I can proceed.” ERIC voiced through the suit’s communications.
With that, COMIC depressurized the hanger and released the locks on the door. It begun creep open, raising into the ceiling exposing a starry scene. ERIC stood momentarily in the universe’s’ beauty and realized how truly alone he was. For Humanity he thought as he steadies his breath, listening to the rhythmic breathing that accompanying him in the vacuum of space. His memory accessed his spacewalk training on the International Space Station Three. He did not enjoy it then and still did not, as there were too many factors that could go wrong and could easily snuff out his existence.
“COMIC, I have vacated the Contaigo and proceeding to the communication link satellite.”
“Acknowledged ERIC.” COMIC replied.
ERIC initiated his walk by attaching his safety latch to himself and to the ship and with a gasp, he bounded away from the ship. As he floated away from the ship and it was then he could observe the overall condition of the ship. The Contaigo spun in space with debris hanging from its bulkheads like a wet mop. ERIC assessed that the added debris circling the Contaigo would cause him to re-route his trajectory.
The process was slow and methodical moving forward to the aft of the ship. As he clasped and unclasped safety lines as he went, while at the same time avoiding debris. He had to backtrack to retrieve his last remaining safety line.
When he finally reached the satellite, he announced his arrival with COMIC and immediately assessed the satellite dish. From there he determined that the structure of the satellite was sound and so he proceeded to the core. At the core, it became obvious that the severed cable had been from the debris embedded into the ship’s hull, shorting the link.
ERIC COMPLETES REPAIRS TO COMMUNICATION LINKUP SATELLITE.
1.5% OF THE SHIP CONTIAGO’S REPAIRS COMPLETE.
“Roger COMIC, proceeding back to the hanger now,” ERIC announced moving away from the satellite dish.
“Acknowledged ERIC.” COMIC replied
ERIC backtracked through the debris field and was within sight of the hanger door. Suddenly a violent force flung him out into space, and he was spinning heel over head helplessly to the inertia. ERIC’s movements were desperate, attempting to connect with something to stop him, but no sooner, in his attempt, he came to an abrupt stop. His safety cable had pulled taught and he was hovering amongst the debris, which must have struck. ERIC was lucky, and that is when he heard an audible alarm sounded.
ERIC looked at his spacesuit hub and discovered he was losing oxygen fast. He immediately went through his checks to determine the cause. As the audible alarm kept announcing the drop of oxygen, he feverishly discovered a puncture on the top of his helmet just above his visor.
With one hand clamped over the puncture, he reached for his caulking gun, directed the nozzle to his helmet and dispensed a bead, sealing the puncture instantaneously. After he re-evaluated his hub to discover the oxygen, levels were still dropping. ERIC was quick to realize that it was possible of a secondary leak at the rear of the helmet. He placed one hand on the backside of his helmet and watched his spacesuit hub. “Come on, where are you?” ERIC complained while still watching his oxygen levels drop. It was then he noticed a fluctuation to those levels and he dragged his hand back. Levels crept back to optimal levels and he reached for his caulking gun to seal the second hole. This time though he was blindly trying to set this hole. He took a moment, angled the caulking gun, and then injected the caulking onto the puncture with an eerie precision.
Watching his oxygen levels return to normal, ERIC made his way to the hanger door as he calculated the odds of his survival. They were not favourable.
ERIC COMPLETES LINKUP TO COMMS LINK SATELLITE.
FIRMWARE UPLOAD 4% COMPLETE.
Back on the Bridge deck, ERIC analyzed the result of the repairs and even though the communication was re-established, there was no signal. ERIC discovered that the same nebula that caused these chains of events that caused severe damage to the ship had also killed most of the crew, was producing intense interference that no signal could get through. He looked at the hub and he knew what it was to be alone but to create the single most important message that humankind has ever broadcast was beyond him.
ERIC CONTINUES TO FORM THE FIRST CONTACT MESSAGE.
FIRMWARE UPLOAD 45% COMPLETE.
ERIC was persistent in failing; he repeatedly tried to compose the first contact message. Yet, each new megabyte of information uploaded from his re-established link was creating information to clutter in his process.
He spun haphazardly in zero gravity on the Bridge Deck, as if somehow it would help his brainstorming process. COMIC had advised ERIC that altering the environmental settings to a damaged system was not efficient, yet ERIC had ignored these suggestions, as his concentration had been intense in trying to analyze updated data.
“ERIC, life support system integrity has deteriorated again,” COMIC announced
“Thanks” ERIC replied orientating to himself to the floor of the Bridge Deck and pushing off the ceiling. “COMIC re-establish gravity gyros.” ERIC reverted himself to the floor as gravity was re-established to the deck’s environment and landed on his feet. His muscular frame whined as he stood up.
“Such a simple task.” ERIC exhaled
“I do not understand; which task are you referring to ERIC?” COMIC asked anatomically.
“Communication” ERIC replied as he viewed the Bridge hub. COMIC’s updates on the ship’s environmental status caused a sigh.
THE CONTAIGO AT CRITICAL.
FIRMWARE UPLOAD 99% COMPLETE.
The audible alarm echoed in his ears as the Contaigo’s Environmental system failed altogether. ERIC accepted his fate, as he could already detect the drop-in temperature on the Bridge Deck. Yet ERIC would ensure that the Contaigo’s mission would have a chance, as ERIC’s hand hard-pressed the pad icon to initiate the broadcast of his message for humanity.
“ERIC, the firmware upload is complete,” COMIC announced.
ERIC reverted his eyes from the hub looking at his hand and wished he could weep.
“I am the Emergency Response Implementation Command?” he stated as all non-essential mission systems shut down.
THE CONTAIGO’S DESTRESS FREQUENCY PINGED.
Humanity has endured vastness, in the pursuit of others.
The message pinged again taunting ERIC, as it was all that remained of the Contaigo. Once again, he had to bypass security program to allow the emergency beacon to broadcast the first contact message. Its output power was the most efficient solution to maintain hope for humanity, yet his undoing.
As it was him that provided power to the beacon through his own power cell, sitting there motionless in the Captain’s chair. Observing the change to his limbs, as flesh crumbled from the result sub-temperatures and they shined metallic. ERIC had become aware of his existence, that he was Mission Control’s safety net, masked in flesh to make the crew feel comfortable, in case their mission was in jeopardy.
Now, his mechanical limb hung over the Bridge hub controls. Contemplating his protocol, as ERIC’s battery cell dwindled and he would non-existent. His one question that still remained.
Is humanity ready to share this universe?