Astrogation Centre, Alien Ship
Position Alpha, Andromeda Galaxy
Just a few more heavy steps and there would find some relief from the so-called ‘standard’ gravity, Tamin Kenza told himself as the doors to the astrogation centre opened before him. Whispering closed the Elaysian put a steadying hand on the cool metal bulkhead, taking a moment to gather himself once again. Coming from a low-gravity world, moving around the standard environment settings onboard any ship was as easy for him as a human wading waist-deep through a bog—he could manage it, but it was exhausting. If it wasn’t for the exoskeleton around his shoulders, arms, waist and legs he wouldn’t have been able to move at all.
He’d spent five hours on the bridge, seated at the helm, teaching himself the fine art that it took to pilot the alien ship. So far, he was the only one onboard getting the best results, his handling of the controls were smooth and easy whilst anyone else who tried to manoeuvre the ship jittered and juddered. He didn’t know exactly how he managed it, but he definitely had the knack. However when Commander Takashima had asked him to be the new Chief Flight Controller he’d been floored, faster than if his servo controls failed. Kenza was a navigation specialist, he knew all about astrogation, star charts, navigational beacons and sensors, and had only certified as a flight controller as an afterthought. To be asked to man the post and supervise the other specialists and pilots was something he’d never expected, but before he’d had a chance to consciously think about he found himself agreeing to the offer.
Now he wanted to get some peace and, literally, take the weight off.
The astrogation centre (to call it simply a map room was to call a starship bridge a cockpit) was two decks high, with the main entrance on the lower level, and almost perfectly spherical in shape. The curved walls were made of a flawless silver metal which seemed to generate its own illumination—or at least he suspected it did, as there were no light fittings evident. Next to the entrance alcove, where he stood, were several control panels and with a touch of a key one could be separated and carried freely. With one tablet in hand, he hobbled into the room proper, the wall sliding closed behind him completing the sphere, and stood in the centre. Like many of the other computer displays, it was able to give the readings in Federation Standard as well as the alien language.
With a touch of the controls the gravity eased and he felt his entire body relax, his tense muscles eased and, smiling to himself, he pushed off the deck gently and floated upwards. Being raised with such slight gravity, he was able to control his ascent and gentle spins, working out all the kinks and knots that formed throughout his body on a daily basis. Other than the quarters he’d been using, the astrogation centre was the only other place he could freely float.
After his moment of respite, he focused once more on his duties. Another tap on the datapad and the lights dimmed to black, the only light coming from the portable computer he carried. Keying in another sequence there was a faint hum from all around, before the sphere filled with stars, each casting light into the dark. He floated in the dead centre, exactly where the ship sat since she had arrived in Andromeda—which had been christened ‘position alpha’ as it was their starting point—whilst all the stars he could see were what the ships sensors could detect. With no immediate way to return home and the journey likely to take hundreds of years, they needed to gather more information on where they were and look for a way to return back to their galaxy by another means.
He tapped on the tablet again and the view shifted in tighter on their immediate surroundings, enhancing the eighteen star systems within a ten light-year radius, showing the planetary bodies that circled each star. Moving around to face the nearest system, he reached out and touched it. The hologram enlarged the O-type star and two planets, both D-class (incapable of supporting life), and brought up the three moons that were also in the system—one was volcanically and tectonically unstable, the atmosphere filled with toxic gas, another was little more than a ball of ice, and the third was even more lifeless than the planet it orbited. No signs of stations, ion trails, or any other activity anywhere in the system. Touching it again the system shrunk back to join the others and he pirouetted to pick out another.
Then something caught his eye. On the furthest out system from their current position, next to the planet were a few words of alien text. Stopping himself, he touched that system and enlarged it. A G-type star, a couple millennia younger than Sol, one planet and three moons, but the alien writing was definitely suspended next to the small blue/green globe. He glanced at the datapad and ran the translation programme. It took a few moments, but the text was replaced and he could understand it. Oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, trace elements of other harmless gasses, a little smaller than Earth but stable, with a temperature range of minus forty at the poles to thirty-five at the equator and a diverse ecosystem. Whilst all of that was useful, it wasn’t what Kenza focused on; his eyes were locked onto three words: Trading outpost Ok’ajuuf
The ship recognised and named a settlement. There was no question in his mind anymore; this ship had most definitely originated from the Andromeda Galaxy—possibly somewhere very near to where they now sat.
He reached for his combadge. “Kenza to Takashima. I need to see you in astrogation, ASAP, sir.”