(All rights reserved. All characters and events are fictitious, any resemblance to reality is purely coincidental.)
Daniel runs through the flight preliminaries with swift precision. A list of checks he knows by rote. The ship had refuelled and taken on supplies left by Newtrishia at a way station half a parsec away from this port and, now the crew are on board, it is time to leave.
It will take exactly seven minutes for the trio of dark energy lasers to fire up and converge in front of the bow of the Saturn Anne II, at a point close enough to create a stable envelope wormhole for the ship to travel through. The ship's multi-plane biosynth hull will help to navigate the choppy foam of wormhole flight, the same way a porpoise knows how to swim through the surf.
Daniel, happy with all the flight checks, glances at the time, 20:39 hrs. He had already taken the platinum key chain from his neck and wrapped it tightly around the wrist of his spacesuit before securing the helmet visor. Now he inserts the laser key into the ignition, his hand hovering over the starter button as the seconds count down to 12.40 precisely.
He punches the button just as the lift doors open and the crew arrive. The sirens start to sound and the warning lights flash a baleful red, throwing deep shadows around the flight deck.
'Very dramatic...' Grove mutters under his breath as they don their suits and find their flight seats. A thought occurs to him and he raises his voice to be heard over the sirens. 'Hey! Where's the Xenograft?' He straps himself into his seat, feeling the chair reassuringly mould to his form inside the lightweight Newtrishia regulation spacesuit. Behind him he can hear the seals of the doors hiss and his ears pop as the deck pressurises.
Without glancing up Daniel replies, 'Glad to see you are all on time.' His voice slightly flattened by his spacesuit intercom.
Grove looks round at the rest of the crew but gets no other response as they are all busy strapping into their seats. For a moment he wonders if Cme is hiding somewhere on the flight deck but there are no spare seats, perhaps it is in a bio-cage somewhere and then he notices Cressida indicating for him to close up his visor.
Outside the hull the lasers start their seven minute warm-up to firing as the docking bay is evacuated and sealed and the space doors open. At exactly 12:47 hrs, the three huge dark energy lasers jump into life, each spewing a stream of neutrinos into a quantum point in front of the ship. The wormhole envelope slowly flows back over the ship to engulf it fully and the Saturn Anne II holds its position for a moment as the mission protocol co-ordinates are updated into its flight nav, then the ship dives, suddenly and sickeningly into the wormhole and Grove can feel his insides well up as they ride through the fabric of space.
'Don't worry, Grove, I have your back.' The voice cuts through his nausea and is strangely comforting as he grips his chair and tries to hold onto the contents of his stomach.