Aoraki – Cyanos Space Agency, Launch Pad 39-A
Friday – early morning
The van slowed and turned through the security gates into the brightly lit launch complex, in the pre-dawn early morning darkness. There was still a chill in the air as the first rays of sun started to peek their way over the horizon. As they got out of the van and crossed the tarmac to the launch tower they could see the swirling wisps of vapour that were created from the super cold propellent being pumped into the main booster fuel tank. The whole stack groaned and shuddered, the metal skin of the fuel tank creaking, hissing and popping as it filled.
Tag: Wow! Its like the whole ship is alive!
Jaak: Holy shit guys – this is really happening.
Unconsciously, he patted the leg pocket on his flight suit again
Still got your stones?
Tag patted the pocket on his flight suit.
Tag: Still here – just like the other thousand times you asked!
Dieter patted his crotch.
Dieter: Mine’s still here!
Dieter then spotted the trees on the other side of the security fencing, which had an immediate effect on him of getting the urge to pee.
Dieter: Arrrgh! I can’t even get to the trees over there for a last minute nervous pee!
Jarvis: On this road trip I’m your Mom, so I’ll be making sure that everyone uses the toilet at the top before we get in the shuttle, because there aren’t any gas stations – or trees, Master D, to stop at on the way!
Right then lads, this way then, though here and over to the elevator that will take us up.
Jarvis led the way over to a small lobby where the elevator stood waiting to take them up to the top of the launch stack. It was a tight fit, but they all managed to crowd in for the short journey to the top. At the top they all dutifully used the toilet, before they traversed a gangway that was connected to the main shuttle hatch. There the launch pad crew helped them into their seats and strapped them in tightly, which due to the shuttle standing upright for launch, meant they all ended up laying on their backs with their feet above them. On the flight deck, Jarvis took the pilot’s left hand seat with Jaak taking the right hand seat beside him. Tag and Dieter took the two seats immediately behind, however they were still well positioned to get a good view from out the front windows.
Jarvis: Ready to be my co-pilot Master J?
Jaak who didn’t know the first thing about flying a space shuttle, wasn’t sure whether Jarvis was kidding him or not.
Jaak: Um – er… I guess so!
Jarvis: There’s only one switch you need to know how to find – SCE to AUX – its down there on the right!
Jarvis: Don’t worry – It’s only used if we get struck by lightning.
Now Jaak was pretty sure that Jarvis was joking, but then – the switch had to be for something, and Jarvis had taken the time to point it out to him.
With the sun now well and truly peeking over the horizon, the entire launch pad was bathed in a warm magenta glow as Jarvis made the final checks with mission control before they headed skywards.
Jarvis: Mission Control this is Shuttle Indigo – report all checks are complete and we are ready to fly!
Mission Control: Shuttle Indigo – mission control concurs all checks complete – standby for launch.
Then, all of a sudden, they felt it.
Main engine start.
A powerful kick in the pants as the main engines started, along with the ignition of the two auxiliary solid fuel booster rockets, that once lit, there was only one place they were going and that was up.
Up in a hurry.
The noise and vibration of the rocket boosters filled their ears and bodies as the shuttle shook from the raw power that was propelling them skywards. Pushed back into their seats, they now felt around three times heavier than usual. After two minutes the two auxiliary boosters cut off, separated, and the flight smoothed out. Then in an instant, around eight minutes after blast off, the main engines cut off, the large external fuel tank detached and there was silence. They went from feeling three times heavier to total weightlessness in an instant. It almost felt like they were being thrown out of their seats, but they weren’t, as they were all still securely strapped in.
Their journey into the unknown, along with their cache of cyan stones and their critical mission to boost the TET cores and to ultimately try and save the planet had begun.