Haley Osnet, Prepare For Ignition In Comet One - An Original Story by Christopher Dapo

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I can't believe it, I'm finally ready!

Moments from now, I'll be rewriting history. I'll be the first one to travel through the depths of space and time!

Haley's head was in the clouds. He'd just spent about three solid years of training for this, not to mention all those painful years of college it took just to get a seat here at C.I.T.E., the Center for Investigating Time Exploration. And now, he's hogging the spotlight.

Until now, time travel and space exploration outside our tiny plot in the universe was merely a dream. Now, thanks to Hal's research in Continuum Velocity, they've cracked the theory of moving through time and space well past the speed of light. Today, though, is Hal's day to shine!

Today, he, Haley Ron Osnet, rewrites history, becoming the first human being to travel through space to reaches that were previously in-explorable in anyone's lifetime. The possibilities are endless - Time travel, both into the past and the future, reaching new galaxies with possible habitable worlds to explore, the fame he would have when all this was said and done - it was all he could think of.

Science had proved valuable for this day. His course through space was drawn to be endless until he chose a path to take once he reached somewhere worth exploring. He could continue along this path through space endlessly forever, they claimed. He wondered - in the confines of his craft, the safety of the time/space continuum being like a random drive down a country road, should he keep on going, as far as he's willing to travel? Could he bare a longer trip? He would decide where to jump off the proverbial track and choose the destination. Time will tell, he guessed...

"Hal, how you doing?"

The voice broke through his daydream.

"I'm fine, Control, just having a little self reflection is all."

"Don't go AWOL on us, Hal," the voice, he recognized being that of his boss, James Rekkor, had warned, "We need you to be sharp for this.."

"It's okay, Jim, I've got this! I'm just a little excited is all."

"How's the oxygen looking?" They were concerned about the oxygen levels that might be tricky to adjust during the trip. The equilibrium of the craft and it's passenger were a concern due to the little research they could do involving gaseous substances - it became apparent that a heavily sealed vessel would be needed to keep the air from just finding it's way out of the craft.

"I don't know about you but I'm feeling pretty good about today. I believe we've got it covered, besides, I have my back-up here should things go wrong." Hal's back-up was their original experimental container. They sent it on a course around Pluto and back. It held the air inside well. The trip took just under an hour. After they'd removed the outer shell, the container was in mint condition; it's contents still at the same pressure as when it left. Hal knew he could rely on it then.

"You get all the credit for this, Hal, you know that, right?"

"Well, if you hadn't pulled those strings we might not be doing this so legally so, I'm willing to let you have some of it," Hal joked. Jim knew Hal enough to know that he wasn't kidding about the legalities of the situation - he'd be doing this without the green light if he had to.

"Well, you just make sure things work out for us all back here on Earth and don't do anything that'll get you killed."

"Yeah, I'm suicidal now Jim, thanks for that."

"Not funny."

"Yeah, yeah. I'll stay safe. You can bet on it."

"I already have!" With that, they both laughed for a bit.

"C.I.T.E. Experiment 00134, Haley Osnet in Comet 1, destination uncertain. Ignition is about to commence." They knew that as the system voice. It was time.

"You take care now."

"Yes, sir!"

Hal felt the craft shift as it was locked into launch position. The cockpit came alive with lighted, flashing buttons. Outside the ship, he recognized the sound of the shielding cast being drilled onto Comet 1. Then the familiar hiss of the "shock gas" they created being pumped into the space between the craft and it's shielding.

"Hey, do we have to do the stupid countdown thing? Just give me an ignition confirmation and send me packing, okay?"

"Sure thing, Hal, it's your call."

This was it. This was Hal's moment. His dream about to come true.

"Haley Osnet, prepare for ignition in Comet 1"

Hal hit the switch.

He was well prepared for the G's that hit him at that instant, squashing him against his seat. The ignition went perfect, he was already heading out of Earth's atmosphere and preparing for the next stage of propulsion. The craft jolted, dislodging the primary rockets, then bolted again into it's second stage of g-forces. From his little window of observation, he noticed the moon as he whizzed past it. G's stabilizing again, he knew stage three was on it's way - there were eight stages total before he would get the option to control the craft.

BOOM!!! Stage three shot him further into the feeling of being a human bullet. The lack of gravity in space was evident now, though he was noticing, at his tremendously powerful speed, the play gravitational forces were having on his craft - he felt the tug of Jupiter as his craft slightly began to curve along it's projected course.

The g-forces stabilizing once again, he readied for the fourth stage. This is when he was scheduled to check readings on the craft's stability. He brought up his display and began acknowledging his readings.

Everything was good. WHOOSH!!! The fourth stage rattled the cockpit slightly. He saw a flash, what he expected was Pluto, zip past him like a baseball in a high-speed pitch. That's fast, he thought!

Headed for stage five now, he knew he was already breaking new ground in space travel - he was now on his way outside of his home galaxy! Approaching the next stage, the craft's self-heating system kicked on to make up for the chills expected while traveling through deep space.

WHOOSH!!! Stage five hit. The craft became increasingly jerky - and warm. Among the g-forces Hal was now experiencing, he also started to feel a slight resistance being imposed on his flight. Hmm, he thought, maybe it's just me? Maybe it's a particle from the last booster creating a draft of sorts...in space though? Nah, I think I'm just experiencing some space solitude - hold it together, Hal!

Looking outside, he noticed the starlight was forming into lighted dashes - a sign of just how fast he was truly going now. Then suddenly, but then just as suddenly stopping, Hal heard a quick couple of system beeps...

He checked status and error messages and alerts, but he found nothing to indicate what it was.

God, Hal, don't lose it out here!

G's were growing stable again. Hal noticed the craft continued to rattle slightly; he couldn't pinpoint it. Might be the heating system, he supposed. Stage six was eagerly approaching.

Hal made note of the ghostly beeps in his data-bank before the next stage could hit.

WHOOSH!!! Wow, he thought, six hit a little early? The rattling became increasingly loud for a bit - then stopped! It's as if the ship fixed itsel-

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! - Hal knew it was real this time. He looked frantically, but the beeps stopped. He checked the on-board computer again - still nothing? Then he noticed...he was sweating. It's gotta be the heater!

Haley went through the system to find the control for the heater coil. Finding it, he noticed the reading was normal...

But how can that be?? He's sweating like he's in a sauna here!

Just then, a flicker at his window caught his eye...

He had been distracted and hadn't noticed the g-forces had stabilized. Trying to watch the window, he got jolted into his seat, unprepared for stage seven - WHOOSH!!!

This time, the craft went haywire!! The system and it's lights, buttons and beeps went off like the Fourth of July! Hal began to panic frantically! Again though, amidst the horror befalling on him now, he noticed the flicker across the window - though now it was an eye piercing bright flash!

The craft was starting to burn up!!!

He didn't know what to do, but if there was anything he could do, he knew he'd better work fast!

His sweat was pouring into his eyes now. Random electrical fizzing went on inside the cockpit area in places he couldn't see. The window he had - fifteen inches of heat tempered and treated glass - it was melting! Outside, from what little he could make out between the melting and the fiery white flames, he could see streaks had formed from the stars - he was just entering the speed at which light travels, the now rickety craft gearing up for the eighth and final stage.

With luck, he would leave all of this chaos behind, enter the projected time-warp, and pull through safely. Moments away now, the darkness of space, he could see, greying out into a mesh of vibrancy that, he was certain, no one had ever witnessed before.

In these last milliseconds before the final stage, Haley Osnet saw the meeting between the graceful light of the heavens and the unyielding darkness that was the hellish forebodings of space.

Time stopped for Hal.

He saw the flash of his life pass before his eyes.

A tear formed in the corner of his eye...

WHOOSH!!!

Before the inevitable seized him entirely, he witnessed his success - he'd done it - Hal's ship had broken the barrier, time's rift. He felt the incredible speed he'd reached seem to go weightless. In the time he spent living his demise, the seething, white scorches of heat that took both a blink of an eye to cook him, as much as it seemed to take eons to do so, he thought back to a day long ago...

Once in the past, his grandfather brought him to a bluff out on a crystal, clear night. They'd brought along a telescope. It took a moment for young Hal to get the right idea, but finally he saw what his grandfather wanted him to see...

Amongst the silhouetted night sky, the bright trails of a strange, shooting star of sorts caught his attention.

"That's what you were named after, my boy!" His grandfather told him...

"That's Haley's Comet."

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