Telltale writings

"UFO #0243", Part I

Time: twenty three oh five
Place: Chinhook #0055
Crew: nine; Connor, Capland, IC, Jimmy, Junior, Klaus, Wong (+ Pilot, Co-Pilot)
Destination: UFO #0243 crash site
ETA: 13 minutes

Shooting stars would never be seen the same way again.
En route to the latest UFO crash site, that was the farthest thing from the minds of people in that helicopter. The unconscious was playing its tricks freely, just rimming the defenceless numbness of the body. Those moments of continuous vibration and repetitive sound were some of the best relief they ever got these days. Nobody could afford being awake. On the cockpit, pilot and co-pilot chatted the night away, amidst regular reports to and from base. Sometimes they switched to the regular band to listen to the real traffic. There was always too much going on and they didn't hang around for long. Signing on for special detail was the best thing they ever did. No more thirty six hour shifts, no more synthesised food, no more human carnage. And they got to cruise around with the elite. Most could only dream of putting aliens in the meat locker the way these people did. Knowing the ones who could do it was a privilege... but one they had to keep to themselves.
- ...south by Southwest. We'll be there in about thirteen flat, over...
- * static * ...
- ...roger that, Rubber Duck. You're clear. * static * Eagle's Nest out.
In this modified chopper there were no cockpit windows. A 270 degree computer screen showed everything the pilot needed to know by taking advantage of the most advanced airborne computer system and sensor array anywhere on Earth. The endless tree-line below was crispy clear; you wouldn't see better during the day if you poked your head out of the heli. Compared to the rag-tag instrumentation on most other air transports, this was as hand-picked a rig as there was. A tech geek's Nirvana.
The custom-made compartment on the back was specially designed by a hazmat team for the purpose of live alien containment; even if there wasn't a whole lot of a motivation to bring the filthy things alive. But, the orders came from the top and operatives only had to spare newcomers (never before seen aberrations).
Around the edges, the floor was littered with equipment of all sorts, from heavy weaponry to k-rations. Seven lockers held the combat suits and respective electronic and nano accessories, personalised to the point where no-one else could even put them on. Any new addition to the select outfit meant two things: someone had died or was on extended downtime, and, a new suit had to be tailor made - none of those was trivial.
Long, cushioned (!) benches, that ran along each of the sides of the craft, a latched on table, weapon racks, a large potable water deposit, air recycling equipment, a big touch-screen for briefings, geowatching, E-net access, and a small toilet room, were the other available commodities on board.
Wong was snoring lightly, his head angled backwards. It was peculiar how he managed to keep it from slipping to either side. To his right, sitting on a crate of ammo for extra height, bulky arms resting across his chest, Junior seemed to be muttering. Opposite to him, IC had an unusual, rather peaceful, expression while holding the (extra) long barrelled rifle as if hugging it, the weapon's butt standing atop the seat.
Barely visible in the dimmed light, a reptile perused the inside of Jimmy's open backpack. Had he been awake, an outburst of disgust would surely ensue, which, most certainly, Connor was only too glad to fuel. Klaus sank a bit more on his seat as his left leg twitched spasmodically, bringing his long hair cascading to his face. The only other occupant, Capland, made a slight wheezing sound then, but remained undisturbed.
- left 5 degrees. Auto-levelling, on...
* on-board computer voice, female *:
- * Confirmed. Banking left 5 degrees. Adjusting. *
- Zoom in on reference Omega
- * Zooming *
- Go stealth
- * Silent speed in 3 seconds, counter-measures activated *
- Maximum zoom
- * Maxing. Silent speed effective. *
- There it is...
- Scan for tracking
- * In progress *
- Looks hot, doesn't it ?
- Err... salvageable ?
- Maybe.
- * Completed. No tracking detected. *
- How nice of them. Maybe they lost main power.
- You wish...
- All right, time to shoo the Sandman and take the kids out to play.
On-board computer, Eva, was built entirely for natural language interfacing, but still accepted manual input and override through the touch-sensitive screen. A nice finishing touch was it's own graphical representation, a talking head with randomly changing hair style and the occasional (hacked) bubble-gum chewing. Of course, for a teraflop/sec nano-processing speed, that was just icing on the cake. As far as Eva was concerned, though, the co-pilot was just the pilot's redundancy and backup system.

[to be continued...]

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