United Nations, Fortress Singapore, Command Bridge
The command bridge was exceptionally crowded as VIPs and senior officers of all branches stood watching the display screens attentively. Low voices of the operators and mission controllers could be heard in the background as the screens displayed an image of a stubby aircraft outfitted with four large rockets slowly crawling its way into the sky.
"Crossing sixty kilometres..." A voice came out from the speakers. "Shutting main engines and switching to boosters!"
On the screen, the image of the modified Valkyrie's engines cut off and the four rocket boosters ignited, creating a long exhaust tail of bluish white flames and lots of white smoke. On another split screen display, the facial cameras of the four astronauts could be seen grimacing as the G force pressed down on their bodies.
Even the normally wise cracking goblin was quiet, his face looking hideous as he bared his sharp teeth, enduring the gravity crashing down on his body. Despite the G force on Major Peter's body, he broke into a grin as the long forgotten orbital flight memories came back to him.
The top brass inside the Command Bridge continued to stare at the displays with various expressions. Despite the briefings given, some of the elves remained sceptical of the mission, while others were concerned with angering the Gods as the display showed the small shuttle piercing straight into the heavens.
One minute and 17 seconds later, the first stage booster burned out and the system automatically ejected spend fuel tanks and the tail and wing stabilizers away before the second stage booster ignited.
At this point, they were travelling at hypersonic speeds and another one minute and 18 seconds, the second stage booster burned out and the rocket booster fairing splits and fell away, uncovering the payload and third stage rocket. By then they had entered the thermosphere, crossing the 100 kilometre altitude mark.
The non human crew for the first time in their lives saw the curvature of their home planet. The blue green sphere covered with patches of white glowed magnificently from outside the cockpit. They stared wide eyed at the scene despite having seen videos and movies of depicting planets.
"This is black heaven?" Watts gulped as he stared out at the darkness that surrounded the entire planet. "Tis where the Gods live?"
"Welcome to space, gentlemen!" Major Peter grinned as the Valkyrie system showed the gravity had disappeared and they had reach vacuum. He took over the controls and fired up the manoeuvring jets, killing their velocity."Check the ship! See if there are any leaks or any system failures!"
The rest of the crew quickly returned their attention back and started running through the Valkyrie's systems against a checklist to ensure everything was in proper working order. "Major, all systems green!"
"Find the probe's location!" Peter ordered as he brought the Valkyrie into a stable orbit. "Watts, go check your suit and equipment!"
"Aye, May jar~" Watts cheerfully replied as he unstrapped himself from his seat. He gave a whoop of joy as he did a backflip over his seat in the zero gravity and grabbed the handholds before he pulled and half swam his way to the airlock.
"Major! Picking up the probe's signal and location!" The crew member manning the sensors called out from his station. "Displaying tracking data over to your display!"
A blinking green diamond appeared over Peter's HUD overlay within his helmet visor followed by numbers and projections. Peter gently goosed the Valkyrie until it faced the direction of the blinking marker and powered up the rocket boosters which kicked the Valkyrie forward.
"Seven hundred metres... six fifty... six hundred..." The co pilot read off the chart on his visor. The crew were equipped with space faring gear from the UNS Singapore that had been carefully stored away to prevent the high tech equipment from deteriorating away. Now they had been taken out from storage and the entire crew trained in them extensively for the past three months.
As for Peter, it was mostly a refresher course for him. The grey white object slowly appeared over the horizon just over the edge of the planet's curvature, gently spinning in its axis. The Valkyrie's sensors lit up the probe and the crew member running the comms pinged the rectangular probe with two solar panels extended out in an angle.
Almost instantly, the probe responded with a request for authentication. The crew member tapped a few keys before sending out a command handshake protocol to the probe but was rejected. "The probe is rejecting our authentications!"
"Send the virus over!" Peter ordered as he matched velocity with the probe. "Hopefully the IT team and the damn trolls' slice ware works!"
The crew member fired up the program for the hack and transmitted it over to the probe and he stared at the screen impatiently for the progress. "This better work or we need to break out the laser cutters!"
Under the skilful piloting skills of Peter, the Valkyrie managed to match velocity with the probe. The other crew member and Watts stationed at the side airlock opened the hatch and fired magnetic grappling hooks onto the side of the probe and tethered both vessels together. "Tether secured!"
"ONE SMALL HOP FOR WATTS!" Watts yelled out excitedly as he hooked up to the tether lines and hopped off into the emptiness of space. "ONE BIG JUMP FOR GOBS! WEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!"
Watts fired his suit boosters and propelled himself across space and with unnatural agility, he landed feet first on the hull of the probe. He removed the tether cable from his backpack and snapped the industrial grade hook onto one of the many thimbles dotting the hull before he plucked out the magnetic grapples. "Watts landed on probe! Heading to hatch now!"
"Roger!" Peter replied. "Still waiting for the slice ware to hack the system! Standby!"
"Rogeer!" Watts cheerfully replied back as he space walked across the hull happily as he was in black heaven and ontop of that, standing on a machine god! How great was that for a gob!
"Come on... come on..." The crew member tapped his finger impatiently over his console as he waited for the slice ware to do its job. Suddenly his screen jumped and the probe authentication screen changed as the probe's security system unlocked. "Yes! We got access to its external systems!"
"Unlock the maintenance hack so that Watts can get in!" Peter said as he watched his displays and sensor readings of the surrounding space alertly. For in an expected event of any space debris, they might need to cut the tether line off to manoeuvre away or risk hitting the debris or even worse, pull the probe along and either ripped the probe or their ship apart.
The hatch before Watts's feet suddenly slid open with a groan. A thin layer of ice and space dust broke off from the hatch and revealed an opening that was dimly lit by hundreds of tiny red, green and yellow blinking lights. "Hatch is open! Watts going fix Machine God!"
Watts climbed into the tight compartment, his small size having an advantage over an average human or elf. His helmet's lights lit up the interior and after a quick search, he found the data port exactly at where it was in the simulated training. He unzipped his large front tight pocket and extracted out a tablet and plugged it into the probe's operating centre.
Following what he was taught and having repeating the same process for dozens and dozens of time, he tapped control screen of the tablet, resetting the probe's administrative controls and password to factory setting.
Once that was done, he sent a ping down back to the planet where the mission control was waiting. He looked at the unresponsive status screen and prayed, "Machine God bless us all!"
<<< Retrying Connection . . . >>>
<<< Retrying Connection . . . 2nd Attempt . . . >>>
<<< Connection Detected. . . >>>
<<< Connection Established. . . >>>
<<< Awaiting Password. . . >>>
<<< Administration Access Accepted. . . >>>
<<< Connection Accepted. . . >>>
<<< Connected to United Nations of Man Hull Designation CC 9A-1965 SINGAPORE. . . >>>
<<< Warning! Memory Banks 93% Full . . . 185.372 PB / 198.47 PB . . .>>>
<<< Beginning Data Dump. . . 0.01%. . .>>>
<<< Warning! Network Connection Slow! >>>
Watts looked at the rows of text appearing on the screen and gave a shrug. All he knew was that as long he saw the line that said it was connected to the Singapore meant that he completed his job here.
"Boss! Machine God beeping back to base now!" Watts reported as he unplugged the tablet and kept it away before he crawled deeper into the maintenance compartment until he reached another area where dozens of blue, red and yellow pipes covered almost the entire compartment.
At the centre of the pipes was a large panel with many yellow and black warning labels which made Watts's hands itch. He curbed his impulse to play with those cool looking warnings panels and instead pulled a red lever which made him giggle excitedly in his suit.
"What is it, Watts?" Peter's concern voice came in through the suit's comms. Watts swallowed the remainder of his excitement away as he pulled the open the unlocked panel.
"Nothing boss!" Watts replied as he removed two tanks half the size of him from his suit's backpack's internal storage. "Just feeding the Machine God now!"
He removed the two similar looking propellant tanks from the panel before he installed the two fresh tanks. "Boss! Machine God fed! Coming back now!"
He reappeared at the maintenance hatch and gave a wave to the long legs waiting for him at the airlock of the Valkyrie. For a moment, Watts felt disappointed as he thought back to the amount of painful training he had gone through just to have everything proceed so smoothly.
Where were the suit leaks? The explosions? The sudden spin? The runaway suit or even the sudden decompression that he had been drilled so many times? Watts wondered unhappily. He was hoping for something exciting but it turned out to be pretty boring in the end. Well except for the fact he was standing on a Machine God and looking at the huge glowing blue green pearl and black heaven all around him. It was pretty... disappointing, thought Watts.
He gave a sigh as he unhooked the tether and attached it to himself and jumped off the probe. The long leg at the other end started reeling him in and Watts suddenly had an idea. He squeezed his suit thrusters and spun off wildly into space, crackling madly with laughter and joy. "Woooooo Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Watts spin you right round baby right round like a record round round ~~~"
"What the fark are you doing!!!" The crew member at the airlock screamed into the comms as Watts went into a spin like a top with his thruster squirting out propellant.
"WAKAKAKAKakakAKAKAkakakakAKAKaa!" Watts laughed madly. "Right round round round!"
"MAJOR! THE GOBLIN HAS GONE MAD!!!"
United Nations, Fortress Singapore, Command Bridge
"Sir! We established an uplink with the probe!" A human operator cried out excitedly. "The probe is requesting a password!"
"Enter the factory password!" Ford replied calmly as he stood there looking at the screen which just showed a trail of a white contrail in the skies. The chaser plane following behind the Valkyrie had long lost sight and camera as the Valkyrie entered into the mesosphere.
"Finally!" He muttered as he waited for the operator to establish back control of the probe. He said without turning his head to Tavor standing next to him, "Looks like it is a success!"
"Yes," Tavor nodded as he smiled. "With the probe, we can have almost real time surveillance and communications over any part of this planet!"
"Sir! The probe has acknowledged the password!" The operator excitedly reported. "It is requesting a data dump of the past three years of data!"
"Accept it!" Ford grinned as the rest of the mission operators broke out into cheers at the success of the mission. "Good work everyone!"
Tavor nodded to himself as he continued staring at the display. "Now... we will know who else we will be facing in the coming future..."