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The Adventures of Capitan Zach Harrow; (Part II)
Closing on Jupiter
Awakened by Zeus
It wasn't leaving the upper reaches of the planet's atmosphere. It wasn't the blue marbling of planet earth, nor even passing Mars. It was seeing Jupiter, the huge gas giant, with its many colorful bands of red, yellow, orange assortments. The realization, the complete surreal rollercoaster sunk in as Captain Zach gazed into the planet, as one would a campfire.
The rings swirled in melodious harmony, the beauty was transfixing. Captain Zach watched as the great red spot can storming into view. It blazed a mean red, with multiple strikes of lightning crashing every few seconds. The storm was the size of a planet, itself. Zach felt apprehensive but also determined. We need this power, or this mission is over before we can truly begin. He thought of how they could have prepared even more for this dangerous refueling step. This was what the ship needed to refuel the ion engines and recharge all the ion batteries on board to maximum compacity. The bicycling power stations and solar panel ring could only do so much for a ship this size, but to get the jump-start needed to explore the outer reaches of the Milky Way, this was the only way.
"Call up, Dr. Scottsmon," the captain said speaking through a telecommunicator located on his right earlobe, "We need to plan the next move and execute perfectly in harnessing the energy from those lightning strikes." "As you command, I will inform Dr. Scottsman of the urgency" replied the communications officer.
The Captain leaned back in his chair, one of the perks, he swayed the designers to make for him. It was recliner comfortable, had throne-like arm rests, and it hovered around the main bridge. He gazed again out at the swirling gas marble of Jupiter, how immense in size, plus how easy to get lost in thought. Slowly his mind wandered, this time to his wife. The large gold band around the center of the gaseous planet, the smaller golden ring sat upon his left hand. He took it off and examined the embroidering on the inside of the circlet, with their quote of 25 years. Love enduring, love persevering, love everlasting. Something her father and mother used to say as the children went to bed. He rolled the band around and around in the palm of his hand. The normally rather hefty gold felt like nothing in the weightlessness of space.
"Sir!" came the prompt-respectful all too familiar voice of Dr. Scottsmon, which startled Captain Zach back to the present. He continued to stare at his ring/hands as he addressed his adviser. "Scotty," Captain Zach's nickname of his Genius Aboard, " We have a week's work of energy to reach Alpha-J-Prime, we must have at least a years worth of power before we depart..." His voice trailed off as Captain Zach zoned out the rambling of instructions that Scotty was reciting in painstaking detail. He was remembering a sunny day, back in July 2029. She had a pair of sparklers in her hands, a radiant smile glowing on her face, a twinkle in her eye. He could remember laughing with her and the tremendous joy he felt when she laughed. "...So you see, Captain..." droned on Scotty, " We need to be super careful and precise in order to pull this off." The details were cumbersome, the list of safety checks... endless. "Let's prepare," the captain announced, "get the order out for everyone to start phase one of the recharge. As Dr. Scottsman has clarified, we are ready to execute."
And just like that, the spacecraft was filled with commotion, conversations about the task at hand sprung up like wildfire. The hustle and bustle of the crew, cause the ship to jostle about. Leaning this way and that. If there was a sea sickness for space, this would have caused it, but as they were in space many were unaware of the tipping about. The as suddenly as there was commotion, a concentration silence fell.
The Captain, in an effort to stifle the silence, played a light melody filled the air, indistinguishable from the muffling but a 90's beat could be heard.
Zach gazed out onto Jupiter, once again, and the giant red spot/storm rapidly growing in the front of the ship. The harshness of the storm began affecting the electronics, but one thing that must be credited to Scottsmon was the fore-planning of surge protected parts for the navigational computer and hardware. Captain Zach felt a deep appreciation for this foresight. The ship locked onto the space navigation coordinates and glided smoothly as it entered the planet's magnetic field, which resulted in a gentle nudge rocking the ship about and causing a few broken bones to some of the civilian population, nothing modern medicine could fix in a few hours.
Upon entering the building, hospital wing patrons were greeted with the calming sound of various singing birds, trickling streams and creeks, and soft mellow lighting to aid in the relaxation effort. The bustling nurses and doctors were actually quite controlled and tame, considering. The beds were filled with all the variety of folks aboard. You had the general living folks to live the good life, take their kids to school, work at the farmers market or textiles facilities or other various simple jobs. The scientists, who conducted research on a daily basis working on developing the next bit of tech to ensure the survival of those aboard. The governing body, which was designed to fit a simple monarchy with Captain Zach at the head and his board of advisors, maintained order with a gentle but firm hand.
In the end, every which person received equal attention when they entered this domain of healing. The captain went around and visited with the guests in the House of Healing and BS'd about anything and everything. He was genuinely concerned about the injured and wanted to assure them of his apologies.
The gravitational pull, of Jupiter, was largely to blame for the harm of not only the crew but the ship itself. Unknown to the members aboard, a small bolt holding the rear IST engine stabilizer had begun to come loose. The slight rattling of the ship continued to cause issues but the actual attempt at refueling had been going as planned. The final hundred feet were painstakingly tense, as the pressure mounted for the pilot and recharge team. Captain Zach could only watch as the seconds ticked by as did the sweat beads forming on the action teams forehead.
Nearing the Eye of the Storm
When the hatch opened, Jupiter was breathtaking. the sheer immensity of the planet was, inspiring. The thick band of rings that could be seen from further away, revealed more intricate swirls and ringlets giving the gas giant a special quality and a unique radiance. The first bolt struck without warning, it hit the ship with a blast of energy that tossed everyone and everything aboard about. It caught most everyone by surprise. The lighting about the ship had momentarily brightened the lighting to a level that hurt the retinas of the eye, which led to many covering their eyes to shield them from the pain.
It didn't take long for the lights to return to normal. A relief wave could be felt by everyone, from the captain to the crew. the process of re-charging the ship's core needed at least a few full hours to work properly. The timing truly depends on the abundance of lightning strikes, the volume of strikes hitting the charging rod, and the strength of each bolt. or even the effectiveness of absorption from the ship's hardware. And then, of course, there is the unavoidable fact of errant strikes hitting the ship and causing a malfunction. Or, for that matter, it could cause important electronics to go down and render the ship inhabitable.
"Add some additional power to those forward shields," the Captain said pointing to the front of the ship, stalling the voice of Dr. Scottsmon in his head, "Take it from the forward PLCs and enable the stationary balance systems."
"Proton laser cannons are disabled. Stationary guidance systems, activated." came one communications officer from GunDeck, and Navigation respectively. "Shields adjusted, sir." came another C.O. from the other side of the brig, DefensiveOps. The other 4 CO's remained silent.
"Good news," Captain Zach said with exuberance, after checking the monitors and seeing a full charge. His burst of joy brought many smiles to the faces of the crew. It was a rare treat for the captain to be in such a mood. A few took the liberty of laughing out of pure jubilation of success. It certainly felt good to know that everything was going according to plan, but as Captain Zach already knew, this moment was to be enjoyed for nobody could predict what obstacles they all will have to face in the coming days, weeks, years... generations.