The Nemesis Vector

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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Chapter 3 (v.1) - Chapters 3, 4 & 5

Submitted: June 30, 2017

Reads: 306

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Submitted: June 30, 2017

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Chapter 3

Sahara and her Mom spent all day going from shop to shop, oohing and aweing over all of the adorable baby things and by day’s end, Sahara was worn out, just as her mother had predicted. Over dinner and with tears in her eyes, Sahara thanks her mother for all she had done.

“You know Mom; I honestly doubted I would ever see the day, when I could look forward to the birth of this baby, let alone buying all the beautiful things we bought today… I don’t know how I can ever thank you enough!”

Placing her hand on her daughter’s hand and smiling, Sahara’s Mom whispers, “Just have a healthy baby; you and Rory be good to each other and take good care of my grandchild… that’s all I ask.”

“Oh, we will… we will; I can promise you that.”

Sahara’s mother had not always approved of Rory. She thought him to be immature and too much of a clown when they had first met seven years earlier. She had even tried, on more than one occasion to introduce Sahara to other men… men ‘she’ felt were more fitting for her daughter... men that could offer her a better lifestyle than a young lieutenant in the Air Force. But Sahara knew from the moment she met Rory, that he was the one. The very things her mother disliked were the very things she loved… his quick wit, his Cheshire cat smile, and his willingness to always look at the bright side of life. Through the years of trying to conceive, and then miscarrying, those characteristics had held not only their marriage together, but her together.

“When is Rory supposed to return from this mission?”

“I’d like to say that I know for sure,” she said with a frown, “… but I don’t. They have lots to do mom before they return home. I know they were scheduled to deploy a satellite today or tomorrow, but I have heard nothing as to his estimated time of return. I’m hoping it will be in the next few days, but who knows? There are so many factors that affect what they do. I just pray every day, that he will be home soon with me and the baby and that he will remain safe until that day.” 

Sahara didn’t say it out loud, but she thought to herself, “I pray every day that he’s safe because I’m always fearful he’s not.” All of her nights have been filled with nightmares, but every morning, in the light of day, she finds the strength to let them go. She can’t help but wonder what it is about this mission that feels so different.

Finishing dinner, her mother grabs the check. Sahara begs to be able to buy dinner for the two of them as a thank you, but her mother has no part of it. As they finish the last few sips of coffee and the last bite of shared cheesecake, they gather everything and head for the door.

With a start, Sahara places her hand on her right side, as the baby gives her a firm kick to the ribs. 

“Guess the baby didn’t care for the cheesecake!” She giggles.

“How could the baby NOT like cheesecake?  I’m sure it was the coffee… NOT the cheesecake,” and they both giggle.

“Ouch!  I just got another good kick to the rib cage; the other side this time. I think it was the coffee and the cheesecake!  Not enough room in there for all of that and for this little one too.  That’s what I get for eating so much…but it was oh so good!” Sahara laughs as they head for the car.

 

Chapter 4

With the alien ship gone, there is no time for Rex and Rory to do anything but get moving towards the O2 supply station. Alarms signaling low oxygen levels are now blaring in their ears, and warning displays are flashing at each of them.

“I’m showing eleven minutes left on my O2 supply, how about you Rory.”

“Same here… we need to get down from here quickly to the shuttle’s accessory air supply station.”

“Copy that… quickly.”

The shuttle bay’s accessory air supply is designed for emergency situations allowing the astronaut to refill an O2 supply tank without having to re-enter the space station or the shuttle itself. Today, this accessory air supply will be the difference between life and death as there is not enough time to return to the ISS.

“Man, we are cutting this razor close Rory.”

“I know Rex… I know. Don’t talk so much… it takes more O2 to carry on a conversation.”

“Copy that…let’s get moving on down to the deck. Make sure you secure your tethers.”

“Affirmative… I just hope those bastards aren’t headed back anytime soon; we need to make contact with Houston control after we get our O2.”

“Copy that… We had better move faster… I’m not real fond of the thought of being oxygen starved out here.”

“I hear that, Rory… asphyxiation is not on my to-do list either.”

Climbing down the framework of the robotic arm is difficult in their bulky space suits. Each man secures the tether attachments to minimize the constant danger of a missed handhold and then free-floating off into space; all factors that slow them down.

Now, breathing heavily, Rex stops, “I have an idea Rory. We are not going to make it in time at the rate we are moving. Let’s use the robotic arm. I’ll lower us down to the cargo bay deck; it’s the fastest and most direct route down from here and I can use the remote. The trip will be more manageable and like I said, faster.”

“I’m up for that… do you think that repair will hold together?”

“It will… we, even together, are not near the weight of a satellite… it’ll work.”

Pulling out the remote, Rex tries to deploy the arm, but nothing happens.  He tries again, but still no response. With O2 now critically low, Rex feels the panic growing in his chest.

“Shit Rory! We just can’t catch a break. This damn remote isn’t working!”

“Rex… calm down and hit the reset… then push the off button.  After you’ve done that, then give it a couple of seconds and then restart it; try again.”

“We don’t have time…”

“Trust me; do it Rex… it’ll work.”

Taking a breath to quiet the panic in his voice, Rex responds, “I know… I know. Okay, turning it back on now…thank God! The start button is working now.”

“Now… try the toggle function.”

“Toggle switch is engaged and working also.” 

“Imagine that, all works if you know how to operate it.” With a smile Rory digs just a bit to lighten the mood, “Obviously you didn’t help write the operating manual for the remote.”

“Nope… I didn’t and damn glad you’re the safety monitor with me today Rory. I really mean that.”

“We are a good team Rex.”

“Yep… taking us down now... hang on; might be a little jerky at first,” Rex warns.

“Copy that.”

Rex carefully, but quickly maneuvers the arm lowering them to the shuttle bay deck. With less than a minute of O2 remaining, they reach the deck and together move as fast in zero gravity as possible to reach the accessory oxygen refill station.

“I’m plugged in, 02 filling.”

“Mine too… thank God.”

“That’s good Rory! I really didn’t want to watch your face turn red, then blue and purple,” Rex jokes. 

Now out of harm’s way, Rex remarks, “That’s the lowest I ever want to see my oxygen gauge… thirty seconds left and counting down to zero.”

“Yeah, too close… too damn close,” Rory sighs. “My gauge reads full now, how about yours?”

“Mine too; we’re good to go now.”

 Rex, closing the cargo bay doors, says quietly, “Guess we are not going to die out here today… after all.”

“No… not  today. Hey… speaking of that… can we not mention this to Sahara when we get back. Through the years, I have always reassured her that there is very little danger up here.”

“Copy that buddy… I’m sure if she saw what just happened up here, she’d ground your ass… that’s for sure.” Rex replies.

“You know… I never thought aliens were real… let alone they would or could show up. I thought of the possible micrometer or sun flare threats, but certainly not aliens. ”

“I hear what you’re saying… but now we know they are real and maybe even a real threat. We need to alert NASA… we need to check on the others.”

“Copy that.”

With the robotic arm retracted and nested and the payload doors closed, the two men move back to the airlock door. Opening the door and moving inside they watch as the star filled void of space is replaced by the riveted metal bay doors.

Standing in the shuttle airlock waiting for compression of the tight space to match that of the shuttle’s interior, both men feel the adrenaline let down and begin to process the magnitude of what has just happened. With no spoken words, each man takes a breath and knows just how lucky he is.

Inside the shuttle, the two men look at one another blankly.

“We need a plan Rex… a plan on how to proceed from here.”

“I agree… working on it right now.”

“Maybe we should just return to Earth; not go inside the station at all.”

“We can’t do that Rory… we are not leaving here until we find out what has happen to the crew. I don’t know what we will find inside the station, but we cannot leave without first checking, the crew. They may need our help.”

“I know that Rex... but now I’m just not so sure that’s such a good idea. What if something happens and then we cannot warn Earth… maybe the main com to Houston is down too.”

“Let’s just hope this little string of luck we have had holds out and the com is still working. All I know Rory is that we cannot leave here until we find out what happened to the crew and to do that, we must return to the station. Like you, I’m afraid of what we might find, but it’s something we must do, fear or no fear.”

Both men move cautiously along the corridor towards the airlock that will give them access back inside the space station. Once inside the airlock, it is pressurized and Rex opens the access entry door to the ISS. The airlock, located far away from where the living quarters and the communications control centers are, is in a module that is used to store the astronaut’s space suits and is a staging area to enter and exit the shuttle for work done outside the ISS.

“The monitor gauge indicates that we have O2 in here, Rory, but use your suit’s oxygen until we check the integrity of the breached airlock.”

“Copy that Rex. Let’s hope the ETs didn’t damage it and we still have a tight seal.”

“Any issues Rory, and we head right back for the shuttle.”

“Affirmative...”

“You know Rory, we must contact Houston ASAP; it is our top priority now.  We need to let them know what has happened here. Once we are able to make contact, command will decide whether we stay or return back to Earth. One thing is for sure though, our mission objectives have definitely changed.” 

“I agree… no question about that.”

“Well… I hate it when I’m right, especially right now.” 

Moving closer to the living quarters, the two men reach the point of entry used by the aliens. Rory’s heart and respiration rate skyrocket and Rex can feel beads of perspiration forming on his forehead. Fearing what they might find, each man’s mind exhibits his own worst nightmare.  Although no words are spoken, each knows that this is and has always been, a potential risk.

As if Rex was reading Rory’s mind, he broke the silence with, “You know Rory… I do not believe the ETs boarded the station to kill any of us… why would they even bother? Their ship could have easily destroyed all of us as well as the entire shuttle and the space station.”

“I see what you’re saying, Rex, but…”

Interrupting, Rex stopped Rory short with, “I’m betting the crew was abducted; the alien’s goal probably was to secure live human subjects.”

“So you think no one is onboard?” Rory questions.

“My best guess Rory, is that no one will be inside; and if they’re gone there’s nothing we can do for them now except pray. What we need to do right now, is get inside the station and contact Houston. No turning back now.”

Stunned at the frank reality of Rex’s comment, Rory responds, “Yeah Rex; that’s what we need to do. I’m with you,” his voice trailing off as they continue their movement towards C airlock.

 

Chapter 5

Sahara woke with a start from a deep, dream-filled sleep; her night gown soaked with perspiration.

Getting up out of bed she feels a tremor of fear filling her body as she tries to reconstruct the dream that woke her, but she cannot.

“Wow… what was that about?” she speaks aloud to herself, walking to her dresser drawer and pulling out a fresh nightgown. Slipping out of the drenched gown and letting it drop to the floor, she cannot shake the overwhelming feeling that something is horribly wrong… but what? Is it Rory?

As she walks through the house and into kitchen she can see the moon-light casting shadows in familiar places and though she tries, she cannot make herself feel more comfortable.

Putting a pot of water on the stove to make a cup of chamomile tea, she opens the sliding door to the patio and feels the summer’s night breeze blow gently through her dark hair, mixing with the perspiration and instantly cooling her down.

Florida nights are beautiful… the coolness of the evening’s ocean breeze mixing with the remnants of the day’s humidity offer the senses a variety of feelings and smells. Ordinarily these things offer a sense of peacefulness for her… but not tonight. This night, all she can focus on is the sound of the night’s flying insects meeting their untimely demise in the bug zapper near the door’s opening. Somehow she can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something covertly symbolic about that… but instantly puts the thought out of her mind.

Stepping out onto the patio and looking up at the moon, she feels the tears filling her eyes, “Where are you my love… where are you? Come home to us; we miss you so terribly much… I’m so scared… come home.”

Hearing the whistle of the tea pot, she returns to the kitchen to make her cup of tea. Upon swallowing the last bit of the warm elixir, she returns to bed, but sleep evades her. Each time she closes her eyes, she feels an overwhelming fear rising up from her chest and spreading to take over her thoughts; her eyes wide open once again to the ever-changing shadows as the moon crosses the Florida sky.

Putting on some quiet music, she finally drifts off back to sleep.




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