Spirits of Sol
By J. L. Young
A man gray and worn from travelling many parsecs awoke to the sound of the engines spooling down. As his eyes opened, the comms panel above his head chimed. He wiped his eyes and stabbed a meat stick at the answer button. “Have we reached the system?”
“Yah, Sir. Old Sol.”
“Take us in slowly. Don’t want to spook the Spirits.”
“Yah, yah. Dat be bad,” the pilot replied.
After slipping his feet into worn boots, he climbed from the berth and shuttered it. He slipped into a jacket and let it hang open. The man took to a dispenser and wiped out a glass with his shirt before pushing it into the dispenser and pressed the button marked orange juice. Once the glass was filled, he sat it on a table and pulled a flask from his jacket, unscrewed the lid, poured it, and took a neat swig before replacing the top.
He took to the small flight deck. Once there, he handed the pilot the flask. The young man proceeded to take a drink. “Initiate eighty percent burn for two minutes. Passive scan only.”
“Yah, Skippa,” the pilot kissed the charm hanging on a humble gold necklace. With a quick adjustment, he flipped some switches above and beside him. They could feel the gees increase, despite being minute.
The Captain scratched at his itching beard and watched the ladar/radar readout. He didn’t realize he was leaning on the console and staring at the green screen. He felt the thrust cut out. “Go silent. Freeze up the nozzles.
Azal flipped another switch on his dash. Liquid nitrogen was sprayed directly on the nozzles. Thermal sensors inside the nozzles relayed data to the flight deck. “We’s cold, Sir.”
As the ship glided through the system, the Captain took a seat and adjusted a small screen on the arm of his chair, and took a breath.
“Azal, tell me again why we’re out here?”
“We’s findin’ our past, Sir. Gonna make the hold full. Makin’ lotsa chips, we are.”
The Captain’s voice fell dour. “We could’ve made a good livin’ making runs between the colonies. Our greed has taken us too far, my friend.”
“I follow yah far, Sir. Yah does good.”
An hour into the perilous traverse, the Captain stood up and rested his hand on the back of Azal’s seat. The pilot was already calculating a braking maneuver to park the ship in orbit around the third planet. “We’s in orbit, Sir. Sensors sayin’ it no lookin’ too good down dare. Hot, not the toasty hot.”
“Good flying, Azal,” the Captain patted the pilot’s shoulder and stepped off the flight deck. Soon his feet brought him into the cargo hold where he met with the rest of the crew.
“I heard stories of this place, Captain. I don’t see why we’re risking our skin for some old books.”
“Human history comes at a premium, Fleur,” the Captain replied.
“What’s the weather like down there?”
“Azal says we got fallout. There are three places to hit. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. East coast North American continent. Octavius, you and Masuru take that one, if it still exists. Fadiya and Fleur, the data center Council Bluffs, Iowa. Diego, Rain, the seed vault in Spitsbergen, Norway. Azal has already sent the coordinates to the dropships. Be quiet out there. We don’t want to trigger the Spirits.”
“Spirits, Sir?” Octavius asked.
“Sol Protective Intelligence Rapid Impact and Tracking Sentinels, Spirits for short.”
The group collectively said, “You got it, boss.”