Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 36: Cloud of Gold

This is the 36th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Cloud of Gold, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 6th January 2012

Word count: 740

Theme: race, space, long distance, discipline, mixed nuts

The story:

“Okay, everyone before we all catch some rack time, let’s have go over the plan,” ordered the Captain of the Cloud of Gold, a long distance racing ship,

Everyone groaned, but did as they were bid. The race meant everything, and each knew that really, if they missed anything, they would suffer for it later, still it was tiresome.

The captain activated the holomap which sat in the centre of the room, it illuminated and spread out to fill a space five feet by five feet. “We’re here, on the Ursula straight,” he pointed at a line that illuminated as he finger intersected it, “We’re on the straight for another two days, we’re high burning it.”

“We know this, it’s a good time to catch some kip,” the helmsman said, wanting to be off, it was also a good time to send a message to his pregnant girlfriend, who would be in bed in an hours time.

“Yes, but in two days time we’re going to have all hell on to get this ship turning for the partial orbit round this sun,” at the end of the line, the sun illuminated blue. “We’ve got a good ship under our legs, but we’re going to still be pulling a lot of g’s turning on to that orbital path. Worse still the Trellians are trailing us by just a couple of hours, they could probably jump us by timing their turn all that better.”

“So what do we do?” the first lieutenant asked.

“Now everyone’s paying attention,” the Captain sighed. “Okay, they’ll turn later than us on principle, it will take them further out with more speed. So, we’re not going to play that game. We’re going to turn nice and early, we’re going to keep a nice tight orbital path, and go for broke on the relaunch. Let them carry speed in early, they’ll lose it at the apex.”

“Sounds good,” the helmsman said.

“After we relaunch from the sun, we have three routes to Pascal station, and I know the initial plan was to go down the B, which is clear of obstacles, but it’s slower. If we’re racing the Trellians as you all seem to want to, then we have no choice but to go through C, and deal with the asteroid belt at these points,” the holo illuminated the navigation points as he pointed at them.

“Why not A? It’s going to be faster, and there’s only going to be a moon to navigate, that’ll be a lot easier and probably quicker,” the helmsman said.

“Because eejit, the Trellians have more powerful engines than us,” the first Lieutenant said.

“The lieutenant is right,” the Captain intersected, knowing there was no love lost between the two men, “That moon is extremely dense, and high gravity. We’re good on the straights, and we’ve got an excellent manoeuvring package, but they’ll push out of high gravity orbit much quicker. So we play to our strengths, we get through those asteroid belts as quick as we can, and gun it down the remaining straight to Pascal station.”

“I can handle the asteroid belt no probs, I’m not afraid or anything,” the helmsman tried to clarify, but the others would have none of it.

“It’s a team effort, and if we work together, we can make it through. I don’t want to get one inch of this nice sponsor paint job damaged. Now we’ll review our options at Pascal Station for the second leg of the race, so go log up the rack hours now. We’re probably not going to get much chance to get more once the race hots up,” the Captain said, “Now, don’t forget, duty roster during down time is on the wall. Anyone skips their shift, and they will feel my boot lodged firmly up their arse.”

“Sir, yes, sir!” they all shouted in mock military fashion. The Captain wondered if this race would be easier with a military crew, an eight month race round three solar systems would test the discipline of even the strictest military man. Maybe the gamble would pay off, a crew of theives, smugglers, and sports men would be more accustomed to this type of a flying. He’d find out in a month’s time during the final segment of the race. For now, he had first watch, he might just drop a message to the Trellians that were desperately chasing the Cloud of Gold.

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