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Aug. 12th, 2007 @ 07:37 pm Here comes the science bit - because you're worth it! (Have some shampoo)
Rays!In!Space AU, Part 8

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

"So if we continue at this current speed, how long will it take us to catch up?" Vecchio's voice only cracked a little now.

"Another twelve hours or so?"

"By which time the ship will be where?"

"Coming up on landfall."

"And if they land, we lose them?"


"Then we need to speed up."

They'd been in pursuit for two days now, long enough for Vecchio's bruises - mostly hidden by the collar of his shirt - to begin to change colour, outlining the edges in grey and green. Long enough for the life to start returning to his voice. They had congregated in the cockpit to discuss the next move, a dishevelled and dirty Frannie hanging over Ian's shoulder monitoring the flight path and the fuel readings. Ian looked tired too, with boosters firing on max he couldn't switch to autopilot, it was too dangerous.

Ray knew he and Vecchio looked rested in comparison. They'd spent the time doing small maintenance jobs, working out, playing card games and sleeping. Vecchio hadn't said much – couldn't – but that was fine by Ray and Vecchio knew just enough signs to get what he wanted to across. Some of them weren't even rude.

"We are speeding up. We just can't speed up more," said Frannie. "The engines are designed to give us uniform accelerated motion so that it matches the gravitational field. If we keep pushing the boosters we'll get faster but only at a constant rate."

"I heard 'blah blah blah blah blah'," said Ray.

"Like this," said Frannie, manoeuvring Ian's forearms so they made an axis. She wiggled the fingers of his horizontal hand. "Time." And then the other. "Speed." Coming around the chair and perching on Ian's lap, she placed her own forearm so that it lay diagonally between Ian's. "It's a straight line, see? No matter how far time stretches, it's always going to be a straight line."

Ray scratched his head. Frannie looked hopeful. He opened his mouth and then shut it again as the only thing he could think to say was 'Fire bad, girl pretty.' Physics was not his thing.

Vecchio, on the other hand, was getting up and walking over to them.

"So what we need, sister mine, is for the line to do this." He reached over the console, grabbing Frannie's fingers and bending them upwards, turning her straight line into a curve. She yanked them away, narrowly avoiding hitting Ian in the process.

"Ow! Jackass." She scowled.

"But I'm right?"

"In theory. The engines are programmed not to for a good reason."

"Which is?"

"The grav field can't compensate, gravity will increase, there'll be more pressure on the structure of the ship, more pressure on the engines. It's risky. Very risky."

"Can you bypass the programming or not?"

"I can do anything," Frannie shrugged. Ray knew she wasn't exaggerating.

"Do it."

"But, Ray-"

"Do it."

Frannie slid off Ian's lap and tucked an escaped strand of hair behind her ear.

"Okay, okay, okay," she said. "But don't come crying to me when you're a gooey puddle on the ground." She disappeared down the ladder.

"Hey, I never signed on to be a puddle," Ray interjected.

"Ignore her," said Vecchio. "She's always been overdramatic. When she was a kid she lost her favourite doll. The way she carried on about it you'd think there had been a death in the family. Neighbours brought cake. It was embarrassing."

"I heard that!" Frannie yelled. "I didn't hear you complaining when you were eating your way through your third shakala cake."

Vecchio smiled. In fact, Ray would go so far as to say he twinkled. It was the first time Ray had seen a smile cross Vecchio's face since his close encounter. Ray couldn't help but smile back.

"Can I put my arms down now?" whined Ian.

"No," they said in unison.


"I'm ready," Frannie's voice came over the speaker.

"I'm ready," agreed Ian.

"I'm giving us fifteen, that's all," said Frannie. "That'll get us close to the maximum velocity Riviera can take without falling apart at the seams. If I were you, I'd get on the floor."

Standing by the window of the rec room, Ray rolled his eyes. Always with the exaggeration, that girl.

"Just get on with it."

"I'm not cleaning up the goop," said Frannie. "Remember that. Here we go."

Ray turned to say something to Kowalski but his body didn't seem to want to respond. He felt heavy and sluggish. He tried to lift up a hand; it was like pushing through the slurry pools back at the mine at home. So much effort for so little gain. He watched as Kowalski's legs folded under him and he hit the ground with a bump. Ray joined him. Frannie might have had a point about the lying down.

Stretching out on the floor took an agonisingly long time as the pressure in the ship continued to rise. Next to him, Kowalski was doing the same thing. Everything seemed to be going so slowly. Ray could feel the force on him getting larger and larger, crushing his chest, making it difficult to breathe. And then he wasn't on Riviera any more, he was back on the nomad ship with a dead weight on top of him, fingers squeezing his neck and he couldn't lift a hand to fight it off, couldn't fight, couldn't save himself. Ray could hear choking gasps and he knew he wasn't getting enough oxygen, knew he was going to pass out, and he tried to move his legs, shift this mass off his body, but it was on them too, it was everywhere and, though his whole body was screaming at him to move, he couldn't escape. It was too much.

"Stop," he gasped. "Stop."

Just then he felt a subtle touch on his arm. It moved up and down the merest fraction of a millimetre and Ray found that he could focus on it, use it to ground him in the reality of his situation. His breath started coming easier, his heart slowed and the minuscule motion against his arm did not stop. Ray began to think he could make it through the whole fifteen minutes.

He didn't have to. There was a loud wrenching sound and vibrations juddered through the metal floor and Ray's body. At the same time, the weight forcing them down vanished as if it had never been and Ray realised he was able to move. He could've cried with relief but settled for staying where he was, panting and thanking whatever deities he could remember for the ship's inability to do as it was told.

The gentle touch on his arm became fingers encircling and squeezing lightly.

"You okay?"

Ray turned his head to see Kowalski eyeing him with concern.

"You knew?"

"I guessed. That was bad enough without ... Without."

"Thanks for, you know." Ray rubbed his eyes. "Seem to be thanking you a lot."

"It's not a contest, Vecchio. I'm not keeping score."

At that moment, Frannie came out of the engine room, wiping her hands on a greasy rag.

"Well, the engine's-" she stopped when she saw the two men, Kowalski's hand still wrapped around Ray's arm.

"Am I interrupting again?" she asked with what Ray recognised as her mischievous smile. "Because really, just once more and I'm calling it as more than coincidence."

Kowalski yanked his hand away as if Ray had suddenly lit on fire. Ray sat up.

"What happened?"

"Told you it was dangerous. External power relays blew. It looks like I lost two turbopump seals as well."

"What does that mean, exactly?"

"It means that we're going faster, just like you wanted, but we can't use the engines again, we can't turn, we can't slow down, we can just keep going at humonculous speed until we crash into something and I die, never having seen my child's face."

The two Rays looked at each other.

"Humonculous," mouthed Ray,

"Dramatic," mouthed Kowalski.

"Presumably the rest of us die too?" asked Ray.

"Yes. And as it's all your fault I won't be sorry."

"You'll be dead. You won't have time to be sorry. Look, Frannie, can you fix it?"



"But you can."

Part 9
Current Data
the riviera
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Date:August 12th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
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You're my favouritist person ever.

Also, Vecchio knew just enough signs to get what he wanted to across. Some of them weren't even rude. omg, hee!
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Date:August 13th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC)
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Isn't that such a great Frannie word?

*basks in favouritism*
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Date:August 13th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
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I love your Frannie who is competent and confident and yet still FRANNIE. And I don't think she really would have minded hearing "Fire bad, girl pretty."
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Date:August 13th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Thank you. I'm so glad Frannie is still Frannie for you. The show so often used her as comic relief and I wanted her to be more than that. And yes, she would have very much enjoyed Ray saying 'Fire bad, girl pretty.' There would have been giggling and eyelash batting involved.
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Date:November 22nd, 2007 11:59 am (UTC)
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"Am I interrupting again?" she asked with what Ray recognised as her mischievous smile. "Because really, just once more and I'm calling it as more than coincidence."

And I cackle. ;P
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Date:November 22nd, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
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Yay, Frannie and her mischievous ways!