The Finch: Chapter One
By M. Sakran
Georgia stood outside the ship looking up. There it was in front of her, after three months of planning and six months of work. She walked around the outside and could feel herself breathing in and out.
She walked to the other side of the ship and then spoke into a headset, "Hugo, are you ready?"
Hugo spoke back, "Yes, Georgia. Let's go!"
Georgia smiled and asked, "Alright, are all the batteries charged?"
There was a moment and Hugo spoke, "Yes, all at full power."
"The collector films are working?"
"Yup. It all seems to be flowing."
"Okay, let's check the defenses. First, the Light Blast. Put your glasses on, wait a few seconds and fire."
Georgia stood back from the ship and lowered dark glasses, that had glass on the front and all around, from the top of her head to her eyes. Everything was completely black. A second later there was a huge flash, and it lit up the glasses with a bright glow. Georgia felt overwhelmed for a moment as the light flashed around her, then she said into her head set, "That was great Hugo! That should disorient and distract anyone coming at us."
"Amazing, isn't it?!"
Georgia smiled; she loved Hugo's enthusiasm. She then said, as she lifted the glasses, "Alright, Spherical Energized Particles Cannon time."
"You think we need a new name for that?"
"What do you mean? It is a Spherical Energized Particles Cannon."
"Imagine – we're flying in battle, darting left, darting right, behind us, the ships follow, one blast, two, in one more, we're gone! As the ship starts to break up, there's chaos and noise, and you yell, as you turn the ship around in a last effort, 'Hugo! Fire the Spherical Energized …' you never finish. The name is so long, we both die."
"Hugo," Georgia said with a smirk.
"Oh, I can see it now. The ship tearing apart, falling to the ground … oh it's horrible!"
"Alright, I get it. How about we call it 'The Cannon'?"
"Hold on, let's see – One blast, two, the ship starts to break up."
"Are you going to act this out?" Georgia asked as she lowered her head.
"The ship starts to break up. There you are. You turn the ship. You scream, 'Hugo, fire The Cannon!' The opposing ship is blasted back. We live!"
"Alright," Georgia said in between her laughter, "let's try it out. When you're ready, fire at the boulder there."
There was a sound of air escaping, and from the front of the ship, a small glowing ball came out. It was blue and seemed to crackle. As it left the ship it grew in size, like a bubble growing. When it was about a foot in diameter it looked like a blue gaseous sphere, with lines that seemed to be racing around it in different directions. It crackled as if with electricity.
It flew out from the ship and struck the boulder. It sounded like a loud crack, like a tree snapping. Georgia could feel it. When it hit the boulder, the boulder, which looked like it weighed tons, lifted into the air and flew back about thirty yards and thud onto the ground.
Then there were three more whoop sounds from the ship, and three more spheres flew out from it. They smashed into the boulder in succession, and skipped it along like a stone.
"You were only supposed to fire once."
"You know our tank can only hold enough particles for one hundred shots."
"Don't worry Georgia, we can gather more as we fly. I set it up to do so passively. No problem."
Georgia had this image in her mind of Hugo firing all one hundred shots at something. She then said, "Okay,"
"We need to check the next item."
"Well, um, sort of, um, well …"
Georgia squinted her eyes and then asked with concern, "Did you do something?"
"You built a weapon didn't you?! What did I tell you about that? We're not going out to fight anyone, these things are just for defense."
"I know but …"
"No. It's okay. It won't hurt anyone, I promise."
Georgia could feel herself shudder.
"It's the P.E.D."
"What's a P.E.D?"
Georgia could feel herself think of all the things it could mean.
"Particle Engine Disruptor!"
"It's great! It shuts off the second field of a particle engine that we fire it at."
"Yes. It shuts off the second field. That way the ship can't move. It will coast a little, but then stop."
"What about the first field, the one that keeps the ship up in the first place?"
"No, doesn't affect it."
"How long does the disruption last?"
"About fifteen seconds."
"And they just sort of stop?"
"Yup. The first field stays intact, but the second field stops. They float, but can't move. They will coast some because they were moving, but they will be slowing down, and then they will stop. They won't fall or anything."
"Then what happens?"
"Their engine comes back on, and nothing is wrong. It doesn't affect anything physical, it just disrupts the field."
Georgia tried to think about how particle engines worked. She had learned about particle engines, and the particles in the atmosphere they interacted with, and knew how to fly ships with them, but she didn't truly understand them the way Hugo did. He, in fact, built the one they had. She had studied the concepts though.
Georgia tried to think how the P.E.D. would affect the second field. It sort of made sense in her mind how it could be disabled and the ship would stop. After thinking about it, she asked Hugo, "Have you tested the device Hugo?"
"Well," Hugo said, "there was no other flying ship for me to test it on. When I made it … I tested on our ship."
"You tested it on our ship?!"
"When you weren't around … it seemed to work alright."
"You tested it on our ship?!"
"It was alright. I had our ship a foot off of the ground with the first field on and put a weight on one of the speed control pedals to make the ship move one mile per hour with the second field. I fired at the ship, and it stopped moving for fifteen seconds. The second field was off. Then it started again. Everything was fine."
Georgia looked down and shook her head and said with a strain, "Hugo."
"I had to test it somewhere Georgia. It worked too. Nothing was hurt. I checked everything. Now we have a new "defensive" weapon. It's fine."
"We'll see about this later," Georgia said with a sigh, "we have to finish checking things. Have you checked the supplies?"
"Yes Georgia, everything is on board, the batteries are fully charged and so is the cannon, except for the shots I fired. We have enough supplies for at least a week of travel without landing if we have to. All the other items are on board."
Georgia said, "Okay," and she seemed to have relaxed some, "I'll come on board the ship and we can look over everything, before our last test flight."
"What is it?" Georgia asked with fear.
"Our ship doesn't have a name."
Georgia asked with relief, "A name?"
"You know, 'This is the F.S. Something preparing to land.'"
Georgia thought about it, and she realized they had never named the ship. She asked, "Well, what do you want to call it?"
"Hugo," Georgia said and shook her head again, "we're a passive ship. We travel, explore, trade, perform jobs … no destructing. How about something else."
"Okay, how about after an animal? People name ships after animals."
Georgia thought for a second and answered, "That sounds alright. Let's see, we should probably pick something that flies."
"Hugo, turtles do not fly."
"I know, but the ship looks like a turtle."
Georgia stepped back and looked at the ship. It did sort of resemble a turtle. It was on four legs that folded up when the ship flew. It was flat on the bottom and was made of two sections. The first section, looked kind of like a sphere with the bottom and part of one side cut off. This was where the cockpit and most of the common area of the ship were. It was about ten feet high at its highest point and about ten feet wide. There was glass at the front, on part of the sides, and to the top of the front. This is where the cockpit was. Below that was a hole for the cannon and a covered area of blubs were the light burst was. She also noticed another hole that she had not helped install. She thought that this was where Hugo had installed the P.E.D.
The entire ship was fifty feet long. The first section was about ten feet long, and the second section about forty. It did sort of look like a turtle sticking its head out of a shell.
The second section was ten feet high at its highest point and a little over six feet high where it met the first section. The top was curved from the front to the back and from one side to the other.
Georgia looked at the ship. "The Turtle." Somehow, it didn't fit well in her mind. She tried to think of things that flew that might be better. Her first thought was of a lady bug. She said into her headset. "How about, The Lady Bug, Hugo?"
There was silence.
"The … Lady … Bug."
Georgia realized he didn't like the name and decided to be funny, "How about, The Butterfly?"
"No, don't attack them – they're," and he paused, "The Butterfly! AHHHH!!!"
Georgia laughed and said, "Alright, you pick something."
"Well, if we're going to do insects, how about The Hornet or The Wasp? Those are nice and intimidating."
Georgia thought and said, "They're alright, but I don't know, not exactly the right image. How about something else? Maybe a bird?"
"The Hawk? The Falcon? The Eagle?"
"Better. What else?"
"How about The Parrot or The Ptarmigan or The Goose?"
"Ptarmigan sounds nice, maybe something else though. We'll keep it on the list. How about, The Sparrow? That sounds cool, The Sparrow."
"How about The Finch?"
"The Finch? What's a finch?"
"A little bird I think. I don't really know. I think it's small and brown. I read about them once, but can't remember."
"What does it do?"
"I don't know. Fly around, eat, do other bird things."
"Do you know if it does anything bad, like steal other bird eggs?"
"I don't think so. I don't really know."
"Well, I like the way it sounds, even if we don't know all about them. The Finch. The Flying Ship Finch. The F.S. Finch. It sounds nice. How about we pick it for now, and if anyone either looks at us funny or laughs at us, we can change the name? Maybe we'll be The Ptarmigan?"
There was a pause and then Hugo answered, "Sounds alright. The Finch."
Georgia stood back, and waved her arm in an arc and said, "I hereby name you, The Finch. Okay, now that's it's named, I can come on board and we can look everything over and have the last test flight."
"Yes," Georgia said as she walked around the ship to the boarding ramp.
"Since we own a ship now, and are going to start flying, shouldn't we have titles?"
"Titles?" Georgia ask as she walked up the ramp and into the common area
"You know, like Midshipman or Ensign, or something like that?"
Georgia thought and said, "You know, that's right, we really should have titles. We are going to be introducing ourselves to people and it would help."
Georgia walked around the common area. On one side was a sitting area and on the other side was an eating and meeting area. She checked a bench against the wall and asked into her headset, "What would you like to be?"
She walked and checked that the side table was secure to the floor. Hugo then answered, "No, no, no. It doesn't work like that."
"What do you mean?" She asked as she checked the large chair against the wall.
"You can't give yourself a title, someone above you has to give it to you."
Georgia smiled and said, "This is silly."
"How will this work? We're the same. Who's going to give who a title?"
"I thought about this."
"You thought about this?"
"Yes. Here's what we do."
Georgia went and checked that the eating table and two chairs were secure to the floor.
Hugo said, "First, we need a civilian committee. Now, since we are in an Open Space, and there is no one else around, I propose that you and I make up the committee."
"Alright," Georgia said, thinking this was unbelievably silly.
"Now we need to nominate a president. I nominate me."
Georgia thought this was strange. Hugo was generally humble with things like this. She couldn't understand why he nominated himself, but, she thought, for fun, she would second it. She said, "To avoid a lengthy election, I hereby second your nomination."
"On behalf of the two citizens of this part of Open Space on the island of Reinpe, I accept the nomination. I would like to thank all the voters."
"You … are … so … silly."
"Wait, now we have to have an election."
"Since, I'm running unopposed, I think I could win, but who knows. For the sake of expediency, I believe we should hold a voice election. I hereby vote for Hugo for President."
Georgia could hear Hugo cheering for himself somewhere in the ship. When she stopped laughing, she said in between giggles, "Well, it's been a tough decision … you know, will all the candidates, but … I vote for Hugo too!"
She heard Hugo cheer and then yell, "The votes have been cast. Hugo wins!"
"Now what, President Hugo?" Georgia asked as she walked into the cockpit and started to check the instruments.
"Well, as President of The Civilian Committee of this section of Open Space on the island of Reinpe, my first act will be to select a captain for the F. S. Finch. I hereby select, Georgia as captain."
Georgia stood up and with surprise asked, "You want me to be captain?"
"You have to be captain Georgia. You had the idea for the ship, you designed most of it, you built half of it, you own half of it, and you are the best flying ship pilot ever. Besides, I like you. Also, I am President of the Civilian Committee of this section of Open Space on the island of Reinpe. You can't question me!"
"Is this why you wanted to be President?"
"Alright," said Georgia as she stopped and paused. She thought in her mind, "Captain Georgia of the F.S. Finch." It felt somewhat overwhelming. She then continued, "I accept the commission as Captain of the F.S. Finch."
Hugo cheered and then said, "Well Captain, now, as President of the Civilian Committee of this section of Open Space on the island of Reinpe, my second action will be … to retire as President of the Civilian Committee of this section of Open Space on the island of Reinpe. Through my lengthy tenure, I feel I have accomplished much. Thank you voters."
"You are silly."
"I realize this Captain."
"Are you now going to call me Captain?"
"Okay, are we done?"
"No. Now I need a title. Since you are Captain, you can give me one."
Georgia had finished checking all of the equipment in the cockpit and walked outside of the ship. She walked up another ramp and checked inside one of the transportation storage areas, and then walked down it and up another ramp to check inside the other one.
"Hugo, have you finished checking everything?"
"Yes Captain. All conditions in both mechanical areas and the engine area are good. Everything in our quarters are secure."
"Have you checked all the liquid items? Everything has to be right so we can fly upside down and at angles if we have to and not have everything spill everywhere."
"Yes Captain, the mechanisms we installed seem to be alright."
"How is the galley?"
"Secure Captain, as is the utility storage area."
"We have all the supplies we need then?"
"Yes. I checked all the things on our list."
"Well, come off the ship, I have something to tell you," she said as she walked to the side of the ship in front of the main ramp.
In a moment, Hugo walked out of the ship and down the ramp. Georgia stood at attention and watch him walk to her. Hugo was four feet tall. He had dark, curly black hair that was like a ball on his head. He had a thick mustache and thick sideburns. His skin was olive brown in color and his eyes were brown. He was very muscular. His shoulders were broad, and his arms, legs and chest were very big for his size. Hugo enjoyed exercising and lifting weights. Georgia once saw him lift something that was over two hundred pounds over his head, even though he weighed only a little over one hundred and thirty pounds. Hugo finished coming down the ramp and stood in front of Georgia.
Georgia saluted him, and then he stood at attention and saluted back. He seemed very serious. Georgia put down her arm and then walked side to side in front of Hugo. He stayed at attention.
She then turned to him and said, "As Captain of the F. S. Finch, I have a responsibility to you, the crew of the F. S. Finch." She smiled for a second, and then became composed. "You have all," and she couldn't help but laugh, "you have all performed very well in your pre-first mission duties. As such, I feel it is fitting to reward you with promotions."
She then turned, and stood at attention in front of Hugo. She said, "Crewmember Hugo, of the F.S. Finch, please step forward."
Hugo took a step forward and saluted.
Georgia then looked very stern and said, "As Captain of the F.S. Finch, I, with the authority granted to me by the Civilian Committee of this section of Open Space on the island of Reinpe, hereby bestow upon you, Crewmember Hugo, the rank of Lieutenant."
Hugo stood at even more attention and saluted.
Georgia walked up to him and said, as seriously as she could, "Do your duty well Lieutenant."
Hugo saluted again and shouted, "Yes Captain!"