Sat in the cockpit Vivek, Yori, and Colin were going through the final checks for launch they’d spent the last few hours making sure the ship was fully supplied and ready for launch. The companion fox was laying in the space between the bank of consoles at the front and the windows, evidently having powered down for a while.
“Hey, shouldn’t we give the ship a name?” Vivek turned from his console asking the rest of the crew on the companion network.
“That’s a thought, the ships just got a designation at the moment.” Case who was busy triple checking the mass injectors and laser turbines of the pulse reactor.
Several suggestions came up and were either laughed at in the case of any of the terrible things offered by Vivek or Colin, to contemplation to the far better recommendations from Leah and Yori or mute bemusement at the suggestions of Case.
“How about The Ushingi, it meant adventure in one of the ancient languages.” The foxes feet seemed to run for a moment.
“I think we have a winner. Must be chasing rabbits or something.”
“It’s a machine.”
“How do you even know the word?” Leah asked.
“My dad was a linguist and an anthropologist, he was always interested in words that didn’t seem to fit with the modern standard human.”
“Does it pass?”
“I think so,” Case said from the machine room.
“Me too” Leah agreed from her post in the med bay.
“I like the sound of it, but I think boob cruiser was my magnum opus.” Vivek laughed and shook his head at himself, and the others smiled and shook there heads.
“Gura, run the process to update the ship’s transponder.”
“On it,” a few seconds later screens appeared asking them to enter the ships new name.
“The honours all yours,” Colin waved his hands across the console inviting Yori to type the new ship name in, she shrugged and entered it. The ships new name appeared on the screens USHINGI, and then a screen flashed for acceptance.
“Well, we’ve named her now, I guess we’re committed.” Colin felt satisfied and rested his hands behind his head, “Let’s get off this rock and go see what this gate looks like.”
The launch was smooth, and they exited IL-22781-3’s atmosphere with ease and were back in space, they recalled the satellite that had been providing them with planetary data. Space was instead of the usual dense blackness was a peculiar rippling cloud of purples, oranges, reds and, blues as the gas cloud refracted the light of the distant dying sun.
“That’s really something else” Yori whispered, he heard her but decided to let her wonder for the time being.
“Hey Fox, where’s this gate then?” as he asked the fox’s head jolted up and around,
“I’ve got some coordinates,” Gura announced through the ships comms system.
“Chuck them in and let’s get through that dust cloud.”
As the ship cut through the cloud tides of colour rippled around the hull and then pulsed off in waves away from the cloud, behind the ship, they changed colour after being in contact with the ship’s thrust. A new orange trail followed behind in the Ushingi’s wake. Once out the ship continued for the coordinates indicated the ship a hubbub of activity as the crew checked the co-ordinates for activity. It would take a couple of days at full thrust, in either direction, to reach their destination and everything remained calm until they were decelerating towards the target.
“I’ve got something.” Case who was sat at a console in the cockpit when they first got good readings on the object said.
“What’s it look like.” Yori waved her companion’s projection to the side.
“Big. Very, very, big,” Case’s face scrunched up a bit, “I’ve only got the initial data, but, I’d if the readings are right then it’s about a hundred kilometres in diameter.”
“That is big for a free-standing space structure, what else?”
“It’s a ring, it’s made out of a whole bunch of alloys I don’t understand, it doesn’t seem to have any power.” Case twisted her head slightly watching the report out of the corner of her eye for a moment a look of thought. “How much energy must this thing need to work?”
“How does the damn thing work?” The two of them looked at each other and shrugged.
“We’ll just have to go up and knock.” Colin walked into the cockpit, offered them both a cup of hot tea which they merrily took, and then sat down.
“Any thoughts on what we’ll do if it doesn’t’ work?”
“Go mad and become cannibals probably.” He let out a sigh and pushed thoughts of failure to the back of his mind, he knew the only hope was that this all worked and that once they saved the galaxy, they could get home.
“Not a particularly appealing conclusion to a sparkling career.” Case said with a smile and looked back at the screen.
Later that day the ship was sat a few kilometres from the monolithic ring the surface was covered in elevated surfaces, towers, antenna, columns and pylons, it reminded him of a massive version of the spaceport at gateway station but on a scale, he’d not imagined before. A megalopolis in space. A silent megalopolis in space.
“So Fox, it looks pretty dead to me?” He asked the companion leaning back in his chair, looking at the massive thing through the windscreen.
“Well, of course, it isn’t on at the moment, they must have needed to save power.” The fox seemed to assume that this would be obvious, Colin wasn’t so convinced.
“But we’re getting no power readings at all.” Case added a touch of concern in her voice.
“Well, maybe we’ve got to go and turn it on,” Vivek suggested.
“How would we do that?” Yori turned to him.
“One minute I’m sure I’ve got a schematic in there somewhere,” the fox said and then sat up, eyes flashing occasionally then a schematic overlayed the images of the ring on the assorted screens, “there we go.”
“What are we looking at?” Colin stared a moment.
“The schematics for the gateway, there are two main control stations and either one will let you turn the power back on.”
“How is it powered?” Yori asked, unconvinced.
“I’m no expert, but it has something to do with lasers and fusion reactors.” The fox looked to one side and sounded a touch noncommittal.
“Well, let’s tool up and head over.” Colin stood up a glint in his eye.
“Is there anything we should be worried about?” Yori asked.
“Of course not! Well, there shouldn’t be.” The fox’s posture didn’t change.
“That didn’t sound very convincing.”
“Well it’s been a long time since we received any information from this gate so,” the fox’s voice trailed off.
“Right, we all go over,” Colin said.
“Yes!” Vivek punched the air in excitement.
“That includes the fox,” Yori added, looking down at the machine.
“Agreed.” All the crew nodded.
“Shouldn’t one of you stay on the ship?” The fox yelped.
“No point, if we can’t get over there and fix the thing and come back whose going to want to hang around in space alone for all eternity?”
Once they were all back in the cockpit of the Ushingi, they pulled up the scan of the ring again, and they zoomed into the area that the fox indicated was a control area.
“So first we’re going to get close to this upper docking door right here,” Case pointed, “then Yori and I are going to go out and get the door open with the codes the fox installed on this,” she held up a small transmitter, “then the doors should open, and we’ll be able to dock using the modular docking clamps.” She finished up and looked at them.
“Right, from there, we follow this corridor to this central shaft, and it’s five floors up to the control room where the dog boy is going to get the reactor back online.”
“Which should be an interesting feat,” Yori noted looking at the fox companion with suspicion.