Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
The Ravaged Angel.
Thatâ€™s what was painted in red nail polish on the nose of the three-person cryshuttle. It had docked on autopilot with good codes but wasnâ€™t answering hails. The dockâ€™s computer was talking to the shuttleâ€™s compnav to ascertain where theyâ€™d come from and what their sitrep was when the hatches blew on the three ovals on the top of the Ravaged Angelâ€™s hull.
It was a human ship, possibly an escape pod, but the decorations on the outside of the polished hull looked old and slightly archaic.
With a well-oiled creak, the vacuum pump kicked in and the ovals on the top of the ship swung up and back to reveal three capsule bays, each one holding a naked, blue, cryosleeping body.
The Ravaged Angel held three sleeping women.
The silence held for a few moments before noise amped up into procedure again and we got the three girls disembarked and taken to sick bay.
Cryosleep Restart was a fairly routine procedure but all the same, the doctor felt the need to â€˜dust offâ€™ some manuals from the backup banks. He also requested an emergency download from homeship for immediate protocol deniability with maximum instruction. Just to be sure.
None of us had seen a woman for our entire lives, you see. Neither had our grandfathers.
This must have been a capsule from one of the fabled â€˜golden seedâ€™ whoreships that had traveled from colony to colony hundreds of years ago.
It was too late to keep it a secret. As the bay commander, it was my duty to report what had happened to the captain and relay his decision on how to proceed.
I had no idea how Iâ€™d react in the presence of a woman. Something about the way I swear I could actually smell them from all the way across the cargo-lock floor while standing behind thick glass told me I should stay away from sick bay until I was fully ready for the briefing.
Three colours of hair haunted my dreams that night.
Theyâ€™d be awake in eight hours. I wished there were flowers somewhere on board that I could bring them to make them feel safe.
Iâ€™m sure all sixteen thousand of us felt the same way. Iâ€™m sure at this very moment, every last person on the ship who wasnâ€™t in the bay was downloading and reviewing those three pod-doors swinging up and back.
It was going to be a different ship in the morning.