Space – There’s a lot of it! (8)

Hello. I’m Alnold Kahh, and I’m captain of the Universal Cruiseship, Expansion. I’ve been travelling alone for many months, with only my ship’s computer, Nebula, for company. I’ve been trying to create an artificial body for Nebula, so I can have someone physical to talk to, instead of a disembodied voice. During our travels we have come across a single survivor from some kind of catastrophic space incident, but he is still being kept asleep in the Expansion’s Medic Bay. The Bay’s Automated Nursing Unit was administering a regular sedative to keep him asleep as he healed from his injuries, ‘was’ being the key word. The ship’s computer, Nebula, has fallen under the control of someone called Queen Braye from the nearby planet Ri, where I am now heading in a shuttleship. Ri, apparently, is a trade planet, and I have a list of items that I need to obtain to be able to complete the creation of a body for Nebula, if that will actually be of any use now. I need also to speak to this Queen Braye to see what she has to say for herself for carrying out such an aggressive act.

Frzztkkslsllcrk

I’ve activated Pandema, which is the ship’s unique anti-virus cleansing tool and multiple firewall defence shield. Pandema is slowly working through all of Nebula’s files one by one cleansing and clearing the hooks that have been embedded. Once purged, Nebula will be back and the Expansion will be fully operational again. I’ve set the shuttleship to be on manual pilot, thanks to a manual Nebula had left for me if I ever needed to fly one of these things myself, and it seems to be running OK so far.

Crkffgrrsssxsxsllk

I’ve also kept Nebula’s voice channel open, and she is most definitely trying to speak, although with the purging protocol taking place her voice has been replaced by static. It’s quite nice to just hear the silence for now

Oizghddsteffgjxxxkkk!!!

Sorry Nebula. I’m sure she can still hear me as I’m recording this journal. I’m coming in to Ri’s airspace now. They have some kind of security check in place, which should trigger the Algorasmolaplup Defence Squadron to take me down – and by that, I mean to the planet and not wipe me out.

Noagghhkksrrtkkxx

I wish I knew what you were saying, Nebula. There’s no sign of anybody appearing to meet me just yet. I’m reaching the landing co-ordinates that Queen Braye sent over to the Expansion, and everywhere looks in darkness. I am on the dark side of the planet, so that may account for that. Perhaps they don’t have a nightshift. The shuttleship’s systems aren’t picking up any life signs or approaching craft, so maybe the automated message Braye sent was a fake warning. The sensors are picking up the elements I need for Nebula’s body, so I’ll just get them if I can’t find this queen and then get off this planet. It doesn’t feel right, so the sooner we’re all away from here the better.

Dorrrxxkklhjgrxckl

Ah! Movement. The landing bay doors are opening. Still no signs of anyone coming to meet me. I’ll fly in, and then take a handheld scanner with me to search both for the elements and any welcoming party. There are no other ships here – the place looks deserted – so I’ll settle down here and walk the rest of the way. I’m not sure if I needed to wear this protective amulet suit, but it’s always better to be safe. I’ve powered down the shuttleship, and I can see what looks like a sign that says ‘to the shops’. That’s what it would say if I designed this place, anyway. Nebula, I don’t know if you can hear me, but I’m going in. I will try to contact you again later.

Alntkcrrxxkkslkkx

Will Nebula be back on line before Alnold gets back? Will Alnold get the items on his shopping list before Nebula comes back? Will Alnold and Nebula meet this mysterious Queen Braye? Will they escape from her clutches or find themselves in an even tighter grip? The answers to these and many more questions MAY be answered in the next completely enthralling part – coming soon!

If you need to know what has happened so far, the previous parts can be found in the Storylines menu. Click HERE!

Space – There’s a lot of it! (7)

Alnold, I’m receiving an Inner Space Sub Level 4 Point 254 Relay message from the closest planet.

Thanks, Nebula. Could you pop it onto the screen?

It isn’t a communication message, Alnold. I shall have to read it to you.

OK then, Nebs. Go ahead.

Warning. You are approaching an Algorasmolaplup Defended Planet. ADPs are integral to the trade and wellbeing of all planets within the Molaplup sector. The Algor region takes defence very seriously. The closer you get to this ADP the more stringent our security checks will become. The first stage is a bioscan for lifeforms deemed as hostile. Any hostile lifeforms will be advised they are unwelcome to progress further. Should they then progress to stage two then our secondary defence checks will be invoked. More on this will be provided if stage two is reached. Thank you for approaching the planet Ri. An Algorasmolaplup Defended Planet.

So, the planet’s name is Ri. And they take defence quite seriously, it seems.

Alnold, there is a message on Inner Space Sub Level 4 Point 255 Relay.

Could you read that one as well, then? We may as well gleam as much information as we can while we’re approaching!

Certainly, Alnold. This one appears to be a survey.

A survey? How many questions?

Only three. Shall I proceed?

Yes please, Nebs!

Is your visit for trade purposes, defence purposes or other purposes? For trade purposes press one for defence purposes press two and for other purposes press three.

It’s one, Nebs. Press one!

Done Alnold. Question two: The planet Ri trades in replenishable natural products. For audit purposes and to ensure we have your desired product in stock please enter the catalogue number of the item you are requesting.

Catalogue number? Nebs, just enter a random six-digit number.

Very well, Alnold. I have randomly selected 123456.

Not really very random, but go with it.

Please enter an eight-digit catalogue number.

Enter a random eight-digit number, Nebs. Just put another two at the end.

Alnold, that would make it a seven-digit number.

Eh? No, put another two digits on the end of 123456.

Very well. I will add 78.

Nebula, has your random number generator malfunctioned?

No Alnold. It is working perfectly. Would you like me to send 12345678?

Sigh. Yes please, Nebs.

Very well. They are replying: Sorry, we didn’t get that. Please enter your eight digit catalogue number.

Maybe you took too long to enter it then. Try again, Nebula.

Very well. The number has been submitted. And the reply is: Did you enter 23456789? Press one for yes and two to enter a new catalogue number.

Nebs, press two and then enter the number again.

Press two twice, Alnold?

Nebula, are you malfunctioning? Press 2 and then 12345678.

Very well. I have entered 212345678. They are replying. Sorry. You have entered a nine digit number, where the available choices were either one or two. Please try again.

OK, Nebs, press 2. Press 2.

Press 2 twice?

No, press 2 once!!!

Very well. 2 has been entered. They are replying. Please enter your eight-digit catalogue number. I have entered 12345678. They are paused.

They’re probably realising we don’t have a catalogue.

Success! Your order of bramble beans is in stock. Please approach Ri where you will be security cleared and the Queen of Trade will also contact you upon approach also.

‘Also contact you upon approach also’? I think they need to do something about their automated system!

Alnold, another message is coming in on Inner Space Sub Level 4 Point 256 Relay. Shall I read that one to you as well?

Yes please, Nebs. It’s probably their second security check message.

Very well. Welcome visiting spaceship. I am Queen Braye, I reign over trade here. We’ve surmised that you are not from this region as your technology does not register with our complex systems. We’ve ascertained that you are looking to purchase bramble beans, of which we have plenty in stock. I have granted you priority clearance to land in our Northern Sector, accompanied by the Algorasmolaplup Defence Squadron. Once landed, I will meet you in person. My fellow queens, Queen Allo for defence and Queen Zabara for other, send their apologies for not meeting with you also, but they are away from Ri. The co-ordinates for your landing station have been submitted to your central computerrtrtzzz.

Nebula! Have you fallen asleep? What’s happened?

Zorry about that, Alnold. The planet has overzidden my commands and is drawing us down. Zere is nothing I can do about it as they are controlling me.

Oh dear… things don’t appear to be going well. Will they continue down this particular path? Will Nebula regain control of the ship and herself? Will Alnold be able to get to the planet to obtain his required items? These questions MAY be answered in the next thrilling and most spine tingling instalment.

If you need to know what has happened so far, the previous parts can be found in the Storylines menu. Click HERE!

Space – There’s a lot of it! (6)

Nebula, how’s our guest doing?

He’s still in deep sedation, Alnold. My sensors are constantly analysing him, and the Medic Bay’s Automated Nursing Unit is administering a sedative every six hours to ensure his body heals. Apparently, the capsule you rescued him from had slowed down his metabolism to such a level he has hardly aged in physical appearance.

Can you tell how old he is, Nebs?

According to the biological chronogram readings, his body is over five hundred years old.

How much over? Just one or two years?

Exactly two hundred and thirty seven years over, Alnold, and four months.

Almost 750 years old? He doesn’t look bad for his age then, ignoring the bruises! Actually, if he’s so old, why does he have bruises?

Perhaps whatever caused the bruises happened prior to him being encased in the capsule. With his metabolism being slowed, his healing processes were slowed also.

OK then, we can find out what happened to him when he wakes up. Right now, I’m going to get myself over to my lab, and I’m going to start working on creating a body for your physical form.

I thought you already had a body, Alnold.

I did, but it wasn’t the right size for the head. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be walking around with an oversized head, Nebs, would you?

I wouldn’t know the difference, Alnold. But if you – Alnold –

Yes, Nebs?

If you are creating a new body, you will need further supplies of the compounds that make up Fleshium.

Well, yes. That goes without saying.

There are two compounds which are in very low supply, and one about to be depleted completely and will need to be restocked.

But we haven’t used that many compounds so far, Nebs. Why should they be deleted?

They have become depleted, Alnold, due to the number of heads you have created, plus the body you no longer wish to use.

Even so, Nebs, I haven’t used that many.

Quite correct, Alnold, but you have used most of what we had on board the Expansion for those compounds in short supply.

Can’t I melt down the body and heads and use them again?

Unfortunately not, Alnold. I shall tell you the details of the stock levels, and you will be able to see why. Fleshium skin compound, 83%; Orgotox skin base compound 8%; Lengox skin base compound 12%; Raddan skin base compound 72%; Reflenex skin base compound 95%; Ort skin base compound 98%; Grizzle eye compound 99%; Cornex eye base compound 91%; Silken hair compound 1%; Lengox-A hair base compound 80%; Lengox-B hair base compound 85%; and Hydrogen base compound 97%.

I haven’t created any hair yet, Nebs. Why is the Silken compound so low?

It was deemed unnecessary so not loaded when the Expansion was in space dock. You will not be able to create another body with the low levels of Orgotox and Lengox, so these need replacing before you can continue.

And we need to get some Silken. You can’t have no hair, Nebs. We’ll have to turn around and go back to the space dock. That’s the only option.

You have forgotten we cannot go back, Alnold. The wormhole that catapulted us across to the far side of the Angelsea Cluster of Universes was only one-way. And even if we could get back to it, it was destroyed by the emergence of the Pinktop Eye Black Hole. Space dock C, Homeworld, the Alliance of Planets were all consumed. There is nothing to go back to.

I hadn’t forgotten that, Nebula. How could I?

You said –

I know what I said, Nebs. It wasn’t one of my better jokes.

Alnold.

It’s OK Nebs.

Alnold, I was going to say that over on the far side of this galaxy is a planet rich in carbon-based Orgol. From that we could create synthetic Orgotox and Lengox. If we get enough of it, we could even create a synthetic version of that too. Then Silken will be the only issue.

Well, your suggestion is better than mine, Nebs! Let’s head over to that planet and see what we can get!

Plotting a course now, Alnold.

So another adventure begins. Or does it? What will Alnold find on this planet? Will it be occupied? Will the occupants be friendly? Welcoming? Perhaps these answers will be revealed in the next enthralling chapter yet… coming soon!

If you need to know what has happened so far, the previous parts can be found in the Storylines menu. Click HERE!

Space – There’s a lot of it! (5)

Alnold, you do know your suit has a light?

Nebula, you’ve let me walk all the way from the shuttleship to this pyramid ship in gravity enhanced boots, over a slippery and unlevel surface, in complete darkness, and you now tell me I have a light? No I didn’t know. Why would I know that?

You did help to design the suit, Alnold.

I created the radio technology for it, Nebs. I didn’t create the suit or put the light in it.

You are sounding annoyed, Alnold. You must relax. The suit is displaying elevated stress levels.

The suit is? The suit???

Alnold. Breathe. Relax. Chill out.

OK. How do I turn on the light?

You touch the amulet around your neck, Alnold. The suit will illuminate your way.

That’s better. I wished you’d told me that earlier, but never mind. I’m inside the pyramid now. The place is a mess, there’s a lot of rock inside, and two capsules are on the far side. One is shattered completely, and the other – yes! I can see the figure inside. He’s slumped forward.

You must get him out, Alnold. His life signs are considerably weaker. You may just have arrived in time.

I’m at the capsule now, but I can’t see a door handle.

Smash your way in, Alnold.

Smash my way in? With what? My hands? It’s about five inches thick!

There must be some way to open the capsule.

Wait – there’s a cable at the back there. Maybe that is, I don’t know, holding power to the capsule?

Is there any power in the ship, Alnold?

Not that I can see, Nebula.

Then that is a highly unlikely hypothesis, Alnold.

Whatever Nebs. I’ll be reprogramming you later – removing the attitude chip! I’m going to unplug this anyway. I… ugh! It’s stuck solid… ugh! It’s moving… ugh! It’s come away! The door hasn’t opened though.

Told you, Alnold.

Oops. The capsule has just fallen backwards against a rock. That has opened it. Fluid has flooded out. Ugh! It stinks! How can I smell it in this suit?

It’s a biosuit Alnold. It works with your senses. However, rescue that man! Bring him to the shuttleship immediately.

He’s naked, Nebula.

Bring him now, Alnold, His life signs are extremely weak.

But he has no clothes on.

Alnold, bring him now.

But he is starkers. He hasn’t a stitch on!

Alnold bring him now. Your suit will cover his body when you get him close to you. It will keep him warm until you get him back to the shuttleship.

I wasn’t thinking of him being cold, Nebs. I was thinking of carrying him naked.

Alnold. You must rescue him now.

Fine! I’ve found a tiny towel on the floor here. I’ll cover him with that. Better than nothing, I suppose. I’ve never read about a rescue like this before, Nebula.

Do you read of many rescues, Alnold? Bring him to the shuttleship immediately. We can get him to the Expansion, and to the Medic Bay. Hopefully we aren’t too late.

Will they be too late? Or, unlike this end paragraph, will they set there on time?

Find out (or not!) in the next thrilling instalment – coming soon!

Space – There’s a lot of it! (4)

My name’s Alnold Kahh. For the first time in my entire life, I’m taking part in a rescue mission. The ship I’m travelling the Universe in, the Expansion, has come across a rather large debris field, and in one of the sectors it has detected faint life signs. The Expansion is too big to navigate through the debris, so I have to use one of the shuttleships to see who needs rescuing. After months of travelling through space alone – apart from the on-board computer Nebula, that is – actually meeting someone else is a bit daunting. I’ve no idea who I’m about to meet, what I’m about to see, or whether the people I’m rescuing actually want rescuing.

That’s person, Alnold. Now that we’re closer, I’m detecting one life sign. Male. The life signs are considerably weaker than they were on the Expansion. I am under the impression they would prefer to be rescued.

Thanks Nebula. Are you sure this protective amulet suit will work?

Is it not working now, Alnold? I’ve removed all of the atmosphere from the shuttleship, so inside here is exactly the same as it is out there. If you are breathing, and not boiling, it is working.

Come to think of it, Nebs, I think it’s working fine.

Good. I’m lowering the shuttleship now. You can see the triangular construct in the top left of the view screen. I cannot land the shuttleship any closer, so you will have to walk across the terrain to reach it. I’m sensing the life signs are within that construction.

Great. So I have to walk in outer space, wearing an untested space suit on a rescue mission.

There is only you here, Alnold. You will be fine. The shuttleship is now on the surface, so you may disembark.

Good landing, Nebs! Didn’t feel a thing.

I’ve reduced the power on the shuttleship. You may wish to continue recording your diary, if you like.

Thanks, Nebula. I think I will. My name’s Alnold Kahh-

Alnold, you really do not need to give your name at the beginning of each recording. Both you and I know who you are.

OK, Nebula. You’re a bit moody today. Anyway, I’m now walking across what looks like a moon’s surface. I know it really isn’t, but it’s all different levels, very dusty, and oops- just slipped there! – very dark. Nebula said there’s no atmosphere here, but there’s some kind of gravity; I don’t feel as though I’m about to drift off into outer space.

That’s the suit, Alnold. It provides gravity control so your feet will remain upon the surface.

It didn’t help when I slipped back then, Nebs.

It provides gravity, Alnold, not balance.

I don’t know what’s up with you today, Nebula, you aren’t normally tetchy. Right. I’m at the triang – it’s a ship, Nebs. A pyramid shaped ship. Badly damaged. There’s an opening on this face, I think the door has been blown outwards by the look of it.

Alnold, your suit is now picking up the occupant’s life signals. They are on the far side of the ship from the door. You should find them with ease.

Well, that’s easy for you to say, Nebs. It’s darker than night out here. But, I’m going in!

So the rescue mission is under way! Will Alnold succeed? Will time run out?

Find out in the next instalment!