Not Alone

Chapter 1

by CarthageOmega12

Tags: #aliens #hypnosis #no_sex_no_nudity #scifi #sub:female #wholesome #anxiety #dom:alien #hypnotic_light #sleep #tentacles

This is a story I have made based on personal themes I enjoy reading about in hypnosis: comfort, relaxation, fixing anxiety or stress, and calm sleep. I also enjoy science fiction stories, so I had this story fit that genre as well.

This story is one I wanted to write for myself. You can call it a "comfort piece", like cooking one of your favorite foods. I am posting it here so that other people can read it and--possibly--enjoy it as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read this story.

Alert. Hull Integrity at twenty-two percent. All personnel evacuate immediately.

The trooper Alex Raine does not need to hear the same type of statement being blared over the intercom every few seconds. The only thing that the robotic P.A. of the Cortula research vessel changes is the percentage of hull on the ship that remains intact. That number’s decrease has been rapid over the past several seconds.

Besides the announcements of imminent destruction, Alex also hears blaring alarms and a steady whine. She recognizes her ears popping as a change in air pressure. She does not have much time left at all. But she has not yet found what she needs. Turning corner after corner, she follows the flickering signs that lead to her hope.

All the signs Alex heeds have the same words on them: “EVACUATION BAY”. By following them, Alex knows she will get to the escape pods stored there. Whether any pods have not yet been taken by other evacuating crew members is another question entirely.

Alex stumbles as something explodes from deep within the Cortula. The vibrations of that explosion rock her senses and keep her from moving fast for a few precious seconds.

Alert. Hull Integrity at fifteen percent. All personnel evacuate immediately.

Cursing her luck, Alex puts as much energy into her wobbling legs as she can. She runs like she did in training, not letting her panic get the better of her. Her gray jumpsuit, the standard off-duty clothing for all crew of the Cortula, hugs her aching body like a second skin. It does not completely prevent Alex from feeling sweat accumulate on her back, chest, and the layers of fat along her stomach that no amount of exercise could erase.

Brushing her short, black hair away from her icy blue eyes, another sign catches Alex’s attention. Like the others she has heeded, this one says, “EVACUATION BAY”. Unlike the others, it is placed above one of the automatically sealing doors set between individual rooms on the Cortula. It is stuck open, and it remains open as Alex dashes through it.

The Evacuation Bay is emptier than Alex suspected, lit only by emergency bulbs that give a grim red glow to a large chamber filled with escape pods. After a few moments of mindless searching, she figures out the reason for the emptiness; the pods are all gone. The chambers that hold the pods look bare without their precious cargo.

Another rumble comes from deeper in the Cortula, sending more vibrations through the ship. Alex falls to the floor, landing firmly on her rear end. She figures the impact area will bruise very soon. As she tries to stand back up, her vision wobbles. She puts a hand beside her head while getting on her feet again. Blinking rapidly, Alex looks around the bay one more time. She sees empty hole after empty hole, the pods already launched to some chosen point by each occupant.

The situation is ironic. A captain is supposed to go down with their ship. But the Cortula is a research vessel with military protection, not a vessel designed for war. Its crew all know specific evacuation procedures. They had all come here and left, preserving their own minds by heading to the nearest habitable planet to salvage a new colony.

Alex is the last one, the de-facto “captain”. But she does not want to die with this ship.

Alert. This vessel has suffered irreparable Hull Integrity damage. All personnel evacuate immediately.

Alex’s heartrate skyrockets. She stumbles into the center of the bay, still looking, her rear end throbbing from her fall. And then she sees one hole that is still full. One pod is left cradled inside its perch. Like a bat hooked onto the ceiling of a cave, its curved shape hangs ready for use.

Alex lets out a whoop of happiness, her normally disciplined persona discarded in favor of surviving this disaster. The trooper rushes to the pod and slaps a palm scanner as hard as she can. The machine makes a few beeps, and then the pod’s sealed doors slide open. Inside are several cupboards Alex knows contain emergency rations and a survival kit, a seat with thick straps to hold the sole occupant inside, and an onboard computer with artificial intelligence guidance to aid a survivor in finding a habitable place of refuge.

Alex leaps into the pod, instantly sitting down in the seat and strapping herself in. The pod’s doors automatically seal shut as the onboard computer activates. With the doors closed, the two halves of a tiny viewing window come together. The pod’s artificial lightbulbs, all placed near the ceiling, give white light that shines brightly in the tiny space.

Solitude pod activated.” A new voice sounds in the pod, a deep bass of a man’s voice but synthesized to an extreme degree. “Crew member detected. Initiating launch procedures.

The doors seal themselves shut. Alex feels her ears pop as the air pressure inside the pod changes. The pod begins cycling the limited air inside itself for Alex to breathe. All outside air gets pushed out, leaving Alex momentarily breathless. She feels her bruised rear press down on the seat and grips the straps around her with both hands.

Outside of Alex’s view, the pod’s computer finishes the procedures for launch. The pod is angled to be fired out of a small metal passageway, like the bullet of a gun out of the weapon’s barrel. That passageway now opens as, in the Evacuation Bay, the pod is pushed into the first part of the tube. The way behind it is sealed, ensuring the inner room does not depressurize.

Brace for launch.” The male voice says what Alex is already doing. “Brace, brace. Launch.

The pod drops down the tube as its perch applies a firm push using coiled springs, releasing the capsule to its fate. Alex hears rumbling all around her and shuts her eyes, silently praying to whatever higher power she can think of. Seconds later, the rumbling becomes muted as the pod enters open space. Alex has enough time to inhale before she is pressed down into her seat again.

Thrusters activated,” the pod announces.

Alex can hear the pod’s thrusters firing off, getting her away from the Cortula. She risks opening her eyes and looking out of the viewing window. The thrusters help the pod spin and move through three-dimensional space, but what Alex sees is very limited in variety. There is mostly black emptiness outside. Despite a few twinkles of light, and the brighter glow of this solar system’s primary star.

When the pod rotates around far enough, Alex sees the Cortula. It is a mangled, burning hulk of a spaceship. The research conducted on it is lost to the void forever. It is a miracle it has not exploded completely, but judging from what Alex sees it is more likely the vessel is going to break into pieces instead.

Habitable planet located. Redirecting course.

The pod’s computer gave its announcement with all the enthusiasm and emotion of a simple machine; none. Alex hears the thrusters firing again as the pod rotates away from the Cortula. She holds down the urge to vomit as new forces press and punch against her immobilized body. To try and stay calm, she turns her mind to what will happen next for her.

Once the pod reaches its destination—one of the planets closest to the Cortula when the evacuation order was put into effect—it will guide itself to a safe landing spot. Until then, Alex knows she is supposed to stay in her seat and let the autopilot provide guidance. If she must take manual control, then she can reach the appropriate levers from where she sits. But she does not want to do that right away.

Piloting an escape pod manually was not something Alex had much training with. Being in one of the pods, and cramped spaces in general, is a much more familiar experience for her. Still, she did not think this situation would happen to her. No one else on the crew probably thought about that very much, either.

Alex hopes the other crew all made it out okay. Since all the escape pods have left the Cortula, that is a likely possibility.

Minutes go by, the Solitude escape pod using its thrusters to get clear of the breaking Cortula spaceship and approach the chosen planet of refuge. The viewing window does not show anything new to Alex, so she must use her ears to discern what is going on outside the pod. Inside it, she looks around at the closed drawers, the sealed doors, and the computer console within her reach. The console’s monitor shows a diagram of the pod above the words, “APPROACHING HABITABLE PLANET”.

There is no number to indicate the distance the Solitude must travel to reach the planet. Alex suspects it is not going to be much longer. True to her word, it does not take more than a few more minutes before she hears the thrusters shut off. Nearly total silence fills the pod when this happens. Alex can hear her breathing and realizes she is breathing too quickly. She is burning up precious air.

Alex feels a lump in her throat. She finds it hard to breathe, and when she does, it is loud and fast. She forces herself to breathe calmly, squeezing her fists tight as well. Concentrating her thoughts on her fists instead of her breathing helps her calm down. As Alex forces herself to breathe quietly, she slowly releases the tension in her hands.

Alex closes her eyes, not wanting to see the pod and its minimal accommodations. She thinks back to the first few moments after the evacuation orders were given. She had been near the bridge, patrolling down a northern corridor and having just passed by Trooper Marcelle while on their own patrol route. There were no viewing windows where she was, but she knew the Cortula was on route to a specific planet for research purposes.

The first sign something had gone wrong was when the Cortula shook from an explosion in the lower rear decks. That was where the engine rooms were, as well as some of the specimen containment chambers. Alex had only started moving when the words, “Evacuate immediately” had come over the P.A. system. By then, emergency lighting had been activated, bathing everything in red light and blaring noise.

Alex does not want to have to experience that again. No amount of training could have truly prepared her for a real life-or-death situation. She considers herself lucky she was able to get out in time. Taking the last pod in the Evacuation Bay also told Alex a darker truth: people may not have escaped the spaceship.

Alex does not like to think about who among the crew is dead now. The multiple explosions probably led to some deaths, and exposure to open space probably led to many more. The trooper tries to not picture the faces of people among the crew and military squads who could be dead. She cannot go back and check the ship for corpses, so her fears imagine things worse than the probably are.

Alex’s thoughts are interrupted by a series of beeps from Solitude’s onboard computer.  “Planetary orbit achieved. Pod gravity disengaged.

Alex feels her body lift off the seat and press against the straps. Weightlessness comes as both a relief and a shock. She is used to standing on solid ground, and now she is left floating in the vacuum of space. The straps keep her held down and from smacking into a wall or the doors. She welcomes the restraints but also feels relief from the lessening of pain in her bruised rear end.

After some time to recognize the feeling of weightlessness, Alex feels a growing desire to know more about what planet she has come to. She unstraps herself from the seat and carefully pushes herself towards the viewing window. There are handholds by the doors for her to hold onto once she gets there, but she still feels her lower body waving from side to side like a fish in water. It is a distracting sensation.

The viewing window shows part of a planet with thick white clouds over brownish land and a few bodies of water. It is far larger than the pod, even from orbit, but Alex is looking from far away enough to take in a good view. Seeing it against the darkness of space brings a surge of joy into her heart. She connects it to Earth, her home, so far away now it would be impossible to return. Though she knows nothing about this world, it is a comforting thing to simply know a possible landing site is close by.

Alex reluctantly leaves the viewing window and floats over to the computer console. Grabbing onto a handhold adjacent to the screen, Alex uses her other hand to enter in a command she remembers from previous training with the pod’s systems. The screen changes to show the words “ORBITING PODS” and a number count. The number shows “1”, indicating itself as one pod in orbit over the planet.

Alex floats back to the window, wanting to catch any more details about the planet with her own eyes. Her observations lead her to think the planet has less water than Earth, but enough to be considered habitable by Human standards. She gets some practice moving in weightlessness by travelling between the window and the computer console again. The computer still shows the number “1” for how many pods are in orbit.

Alex frowns. Maybe it just needs more time. The planet is large, so orbiting it would take several minutes or maybe longer. The pod is not equipped with long-range radar or tracking equipment, so anything on the other side of the planet would not be easy to detect. Someone may still be out there, in another pod, looking for help like herself.

Alex feels her hair wave about around her head as she enters another command into the console’s keyboard. The screen changes to show a list of all the available items in Solitude’s cupboards and storage. The most important ones Alex sees are “Rations”, “Water Purification Tablets”, “Rebreather” and “Full-Body Exploration Suit”. Suspecting these items are all carefully stored to take up minimal space, Alex spins and pushes her body to the cupboards to check things for herself.

To Alex’s relief, all the listed items are present and accounted for. No one tried to steal extra supplies for themselves whilst evacuating the Cortula. The hazard suit is folded and compressed, so she does not try to unfold it now. The rebreather appears to connect to the suit’s clean, white helmet like a mouthpiece, but Alex does not try to do so at that moment. The helmet’s visor is a thick sheet of polycarbonate reinforced with reflective material to block out excessive sunlight.

Placing each item back in its place, Alex’s movements are slow and controlled. She feels happier after having taken inventory. Floating back to the computer console, the trooper brings up the same screen from earlier. The number of pods orbiting this planet is still at “1”.

Alex’s concerns come back with greater force. Where are the other pods? If the others came here, then they’d be in orbit, too. Some might have even landed already.

Alex goes back to the viewing window and tries to see if she has already made an orbit around the planet. She is not able to do so with just her eyes, so she goes back to the console and types in the command, “SHOW NUMBER OF ORBITS COMPLETED”. The computer runs this through Solitude’s AI and comes back with the number “1.27 orbits completed”.

Alex feels sweat form on her face, the molecules sticking to her body without gravity to push them downward. With at least one orbit completed and no other pods detected, something is seriously wrong. Had there been a glitch in the pod’s computer? Was the autopilot modified in some way, or damaged as the Cortula broke apart? Did Alex not do something she was supposed to?

Alex’s breath and heartrate pick up speed as she realizes a terrible truth. She is alone; alone and lost in a tiny escape pod orbiting an alien, Earth-like planet. The sweat sticking to her body causes her to feel chilled in her bodysuit. The clothing is already starting to soak up the moisture on her body, but the cold from that is nothing compared to the frigid sense of isolation.

Alex does not want to be alone. She lets go of the handle by the console and drifts aimlessly. Tears grow inside her eyelids, but the water sticks inside her eyes due to lack of gravity. She raises up one of her hands to try and brush the tears away, managing to succeed after some effort. Her focus narrows onto the floating water droplets those tears have become. She watches them float silently towards one of the walls and splatter against that surface.

Despite being a trooper, someone trained to fight for Humanity and protect Humans from danger, Alex cannot protect herself from loneliness. She has never felt that emotion as strongly as she does now. The utter vastness of the universe makes her feel as small as a grain of sand on a cosmic beach. So frail, tiny, and not worth any hope and—

No! Don’t think like this!

Alex tries to calm down again, floating over to the viewing window and looking at the planet she is orbiting. She slowly blinks her eyes, wiping away any new tears. Her hopes lie in having a safe landing and finding a suitable space to join with the other colonists. If no one else is here, then Alex will have to begin a self-sustaining lifestyle.

Alex calms down a fraction as she forms her plans in her head. The planet looks a bit brighter now, the surface a bit bluer and greener. There is life on this world, enough life to be considered “habitable” for human beings. That is a great boon by itself. Alex’s lips slide into a smile as she realizes she can make herself significant here. She can survive.

Alex blinks. The blue and green lights do not dim. In fact, they seem brighter now. That is… unusual.

Alex tilts her eyes to the upper part of the viewing window. At that moment, blue light flashes in her eyes from the vast space outside. A blue orb lies out there, attached to some sort of translucent tentacle that glows like a jellyfish in Earth’s oceans. The tentacle and orb are floating in open space, unaffected by the conditions of that lifeless environment.

Alex stares as her body slowly rises to the pod’s ceiling. She then spins herself around and pushes back down to the window, grabbing the handle by it for support. She finds the orb again without difficulty, only to find another tendril out there with a flashing green orb. The orbs emit bursts of light one after the other, allowing a few seconds’ time between each flash.

Alex’s mind races to rationalize what she is seeing. Something is on the pod, orbiting the planet with it.

Something is on Solitude right now, flashing lights into Alex’s eyes.

An alien. It must be an alien, no Human moves and produces light like that.

I’m not alone out here.

I’m not safe.

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