2 - Consciousness

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"Are you awake, Commander Sergov?" asked a disembodied female voice from somewhere above him.

Painful brightness surrounded him. He was not even sure if he had opened his eyes; everything was simply white. The smooth voice repeated its question but his attempt to answer produced no sound from his painfully dry throat.

"There is a rehydration tube to your right, Commander," said the voice that he now recognised as the ship's master computer, Foxy.

His arm muscles resisted and ached fiercely, but he managed to lift his arm and grope about with his stiff fingers until he located the thin rubber tube that protruded from the right side of the cryonic capsule. Several long sips later, the salty-tasting fluid began to work its magic and rapidly eased the dryness in his throat.

"Your medical results are quite satisfactory, Commander. How do you feel?"

Commander Chris Sergov strained to cough a couple of times. "Are we at Proxima C, Foxy?"

"Yes, Commander," the computer replied. "But not as planned."

"What?"

"Orbital insertion has completed but the achieved orbit is not stable, Commander. All attempts to stabilise the orbit with attitude thrusters have failed due to insufficient propellent. Damage sustained from the incident disabled one of fusion reactors and an undetected fuel leak has caused the remaining one to shut down. We are now operating on batteries. Also, there are two messages from Colonisation Program Control waiting for you," Foxy explained calmly.

"Hang on, what incident?" asked Chris, still struggling to wake up.

"The cause is uncertain, but my best guess would be a collision, Commander."

"Collision! With what?"

"Nothing was detected before the collision, Commander, but I am tracking a small comet travelling away from our location. At current operation, there are nine hours of battery reserve remaining. All non-essential systems have been terminated to conserve the remaining power."

Chris was struggling to get his head around the new and far from complete information. His brain was not fully awake but a gradual increase in adrenaline was fixing that. He tried to sit up before he remembered the straps that held him in place. His numb fingers struggled with the clasps but as soon as the chest-strap was loose, he sat up and set to work on the others.

As his senses returned, he became aware of two things which showed that the Elysian's propulsion system was offline. Firstly, his body felt weightless and, secondly, there was a downdraft of air from the ceiling above him which was the means of controlling the water in the fifty-tonne water tank below him when the gravity level was no longer strong enough to hold it in place.

"Okay, Foxy. Tell me everything you do know about this 'incident'".


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