The Sleepless Galaxy

15 Mar

Captain Deger Tarcan and the crew of the exploratory spaceship named Uzay Gemist were following a long tradition of Turkish voyaging into unknown, uncharted galactic clusters. Their plasma engines provided their vessel with outstanding speed and thrust, enabling the rapid mapping of unusual numbers of separate stars in an amazingly short travel time. The kaptan depended heavily upon his tekniker engineer, an experienced mahendis named Ekin Gulden.

The ship was entering the outer belt of a galaxy always considered in the past to be too distant from the Milky Way to be entered or bothered with. But the exploration in recent times of several neighboring galactic systems inspired the Turkish Union of Settlements to organize and finance the Uzay Gemist as a means of establishing potential future claims to any yildiz that contained resources of economic value. Who could say what the uzay of Captain Tarcan might find out in the area of the cosmos labeled as unknown?

The skipper celebrated their arrival within the galaxy slated for exploration by sharing a special dinner of synthetic lamb stew with Engineer Gulden and the gemi’s navigator, Aydin Coban. He grew enthusiastic about his hopes for the success of their enterprise.

“We are on the verge of discoveries that will thrill the public in all our Turkish space colonies and stations,” he boasted with joy. “What they will turn out to be, it is impossible for any of us to predict at the present moment. But I am confident that the galaksi that lies before us will reveal unimaginable astronomical wonders. Who can say where future generations of our Turkish people may decide to found settlements on suitable planets?”

“With our multiple light speed, we shall cover a lot of space vakum in a fairly sort time,” declared Navigator Coban with pride. “Our plasma supply has no limits in sight, but will let us roam through this galaxy with speed and ease. We have one of the most advanced mahendis ever built by our gemist engineers.”

“There is no need for us to worry about fuel supplies when we can generate our own plasma on a continual basis,” said Engineer Gulden. “We shall be able to travel close to any gezegen that looks promising as it rotates around its own gunes, regardless of what type the star happens to be.”

The kaptan raised his glass filled with synthetic raki. “Here is to the marvelous victories that lie ahead for us,” he smiled ecstatically.

The infirmary aboard the uzay gemist had been mostly unoccupied with sick crew members. But soon after they entered the boundaries of the targeted galaxy, three persons with serious complaints appeared there.

Dr. Savun Okyar, the physician in charge of the medical section, talked with and examined the trio who all reported that they were unable to fall asleep despite taking the mild relaxants distributed to everyone aboard early in the voyage. Could they have something with more potency to it? each one of them asked the doctor in charge.

“Certainly,” replied Savun separately to each of the three. He dispensed a soporific substance that he kept locked up to the sleepless crew members. “You should now be able to relax sufficiently to fall into full slumber,” he told the patients who had turned to him.

But the following day by clock did not bring relief to the three. In fact, four more crewmen and a female ship worker appeared with the identical situation of an insomniac. Dr. Okyar was compelled to arrive at a necessary conclusion as he distributed pills to these individuals along with the staff whom he had already dealt with previously.

These were highly puzzling circumstances from any viewpoint, the medical officer had to acknowledge. There had to be something unseen going on aboard the gemi. But what could it be? Was there some condition unique to this new galaksi that they were now in?

Savun Okyar decided that he had to report what was happening to the kaptan, Deger Tarcan.

At the end of his work-day period, the doctor looked over a copy of the uzay gemist roster. Of the two hundred humans aboard, eighty were involved with the maintenance of the plasma makine and its power system, as well as managing of the living quarters and preparation of food. The remaining hundred and twenty men and women were specialists in the various sections of space science, from subatomic physics to the study of this galaksi’s place in the configuration of the infinite cosmos.

To his amazement, an important fraction of all the personnel had suffered interruption of normal sleep patterns. Indeed, this was a matter that had to come to the attention of Captain Tarcan.

“What could be causing this sudden advent of insomnia?” asked the skipper as soon as the physician had finished his report. The two sat by themselves in the executive’s private office in the ship’s bow. “Does this general outbreak make any sense to you?”

Dr. Okyar took on a look of bewilderment. “I cannot say that I understand what has been happening. It is doubtful that anyone can. The impossibility of falling asleep exists for an increasing number, but no one really knows what to do about it. The mystery is complex and profound. I don’t know what to do because I have no knowledge about the nature of why these people now suffer the inability to sleep.

“There is an absence of information of what it is that this malady of theirs consists of. Nothing is clear concerning the origins of the sleeplessness that is spreading and widening.”

The two astronots exchanged blank looks.

“You must pay close attention to all of those who are afflicted that way,” directed the skipper, “and report the details of what you find that is new in these suffering individuals.”

Doctor Okyar found that the new patients who came to him the following work day had the exact same symptoms as those at the beginning. A lack of sleep rest resulted in nothing more than slightly elevated body temperature, but the major organs continued functioning in a normal manner. Those who came to him on the previous day now returned, but beyond a lack of slumber and higher temperature, there had been no major change in their readings or statistics.

The puzzle came to burden his mind more than even before. What strange influence stood behind such a weird phenomenon? he wondered. It was difficult for him to speculate about the matter. As far as he knew, nothing similar had ever been recorded in the centuries of human space travel and exploration.

Savun Okyar decided to talk with the navigator to find out whether he knew of any possible force that might exist in this galaksi and be an explanation for what was happening within the crew of voyagers.

Aydin Coban had long Earth-years of experience mapping out the distant pathways of the cosmic evren. He was able to describe for the kaptan many possible scenarios from which an entire group of astronots might become sleepless zombies.

“I can conceive of a number of possible causes of the strange malady being suffered on our uzay gemisi,” admitted the man in charge of the guidance and steering of their vessel. “It could result from some form of electromagnetic radiation to which human beings have never before been exposed and to which they have no natural defense. There are many forms of so-called cosmic rays that our science may not at all be familiar with. And there are possible gravitational forces within this galaksi to which no one of our species has ever before been exposed. There could exist aspects of reality that we are today completely unfamiliar with, even when they impinge the operation of our brains and destroy the need for periodic sleep within human beings like us.”

He gazed with curiosity at the pale and worried face of the skipper, trying to gauge the effect of what he had just said.

Captain Tarcan suddenly spoke to the denizel of the spaceship with unexpected decisiveness. “I want you to carry out an investigation of the possibilities that you went through for me, Aydin. You must do it in such a way as to avoid alarming anyone on our crew. It will be your task to determine whether we have to leave this galaksi and end our exploration of its far reaches. My personal hope is that you determine what can be done by us to put an end to the insomnia that has broken out.

“Do you understand what it is that I want? A concrete answer to this riddle of sleeplessness and some way that we can combat and defeat it.”

After a few seconds of thought, the ship’s navigator silently left.

The fraction of the crew unable to attain sleep grew exponentially, until it reached a third of all the men and women aboard the uzay gemist. Dr. Okyar became one of the sleepless persons, yet he continued to attempt treatment for the others in the same condition. But just as he was helpless to help others, the physician discovered that he had no means of curing what he himself was now suffering from.

The troubled hekim went to the office of the kaptan to reveal the degree to which he feared for the future of their exploratory voyage.

“I have learned from several sources that the quality of our research work has declined radically since the beginning of the present epidemic of amnesia. How can we hope to continue in a state of distraction and baygin indifference, as if in a sleepless trance? Our specialists will have a harder and harder time accomplishing their scientific missions. Increasingly they will become amnesiacs, like zombies unable to function in their assigned tasks of exploration and study.”

Captain Tarcan looked away for a moment, but then focused intently on the medico.

“I still have hopes of finding a solution,” he averred with a weakened tone that revealed that his confidence was waning fast. “But what it might be, I can’t yet say. The last resort, of course, is to give up our mission and depart from this galaksi.”

An embarrassing silence followed and the doctor left the office.

Navigator Coban presented a discouraging report to the yuzbasi in command of the uzay gemisi.

“We are unable to locate any kind of toxic radiation coming from the quasars, novas, yildizi, gokcismi, or gezegeni that we pass. I believe that I am justified in stating that there are no astrophysical factors behind the mysterious illness that tortures our population. Nobody within this galaksi can be labeled as the guilty culprit in this particular case. I am certain of that.”

“What should I do, then?” pleaded the desperate commander.

The gemici looked down at the mica floor. “I have very little confidence in such a recommendation, but we possibly might change our course to some degree. I would advise a small correction at first, and then a major redirection of our course through this galaksi when and if that proves unsuccessful in stopping increased insomnia.”

“We might at least try that,” reluctantly consented Deger Tarcan.

The first alteration in course direction failed to bring any relief to the sufferers of amnesia. There occurred no improvement from the second correction as well. At the same time, the percentage of the people with the disorder increased to forty. An unexpressed panic alarmed all ranks and echelons of the troubled uzay gemisi.

Those who had gone the longest without sleep turned listless and indifferent to everything around them. They seemed suspended in an ocean of ennui. Their lives appeared to be suspended in a fog.

Will we have to turn around and leave? Is our mission doomed to failure? every mind asked itself.

Deger Tarcan, like everyone else on the senior staff, feared becoming one of the insomniacs. Every occasion of falling asleep and having a night of full slumber was a triumph for him, as it was for his closest colleagues.

A question arose in his mind one day, on the spur of the moment.

Why should the leading figures aboard the uzay gemist be so totally immune, so far, to the ailment of sleep deprivation? He could think of no individual health characteristic that would affect only that limited category of gezgini. What was the nature of the protection possessed by himself and similar personnel? What did all of them have in common that influenced their minds so much?

If it was not a physical trait, what kind could it then be?

All at once, something they all shared in common entered his mind.

The living arrangement from the start of their voyage had been organized by rank and status. Directing officers were in the front of the giant gemi, sleeping near the operational bridge. Toward the end of the vessel slept and rested the ordinary working population. Higher ups occupied the front and status determined how far back one was assigned space.

Deger soon became fascinated with this unforeseen, unexpected notion. He made a chart of the ship, marking off the home location of those who were on the roster of the ill.

Indeed, his supposition was true. Those who were afflicted shared a common nearness to the propulsion system and the new, advanced magnetoplasmic rockets that powered the voyage of the vehicle.

What were the implications of this situation for his crew? Deger asked himself.

The kaptan went to the makine control room to confer with Engineer Gulden about the possibilities he was speculating about in the back of his mind.

How was he going to introduce the questions he had to the man in charge of the magnetoplasmic propulsion system? Tarcan decided to go directly to the subject that was now bothering him.

“Tell me this if you will. Is there any possibility that the ship’s makine is generating hidden forces of which all of us are unaware? Could there be some undetected taklit issuing forth that we are ignorant of, a secret echo of some sort?”

Gulden looked thoroughly surprised and discomforted by what he heard.

“It would be most amazing if we knew nothing about a force or particle being emitted from within the system. But I cannot rule anything out with absolute certainty. That would not be science as I know it.”

“Everything coming forth, then, is measured with sensitive instruments?” said the kaptan with increasing curiosity.

“Yes, we can detect what is in the makine and detectible. The hope is that there is nothing that slips past the instruments that monitor the propulsion system.”

Deger Tarcan stared at the engineer. “I want you to examine all the recordings of recent readings, looking for minor factors that may have been overlooked the first time,” proposed the skipper.

It took the tekniker two work-days of time to come up with results that were startling and unexpected.

“There is something unusual occurring inside the magnetoplasmic makine, sir,” he informed the kaptan in the engine control room. “It can be traced to a phenomenon that is very rare. I myself have read about it but have had no experience of its operation.”

“What is it?” anxiously asked the Captain.

“It is a mirroring event at the subatomic level. A sort of ayna forms inside the magnetic field used to accomplish the electrical propulsion of the quasi-neutral plasma. Remember, the nuclear starters heat up the plasma composed of xenon gas to as high as three million degrees Fahrenheit. This thermal energy has been causing kinetic vibrations on the level of the subatomic particles of the plasma. These tatreme are then reflected as if in a mirror by the ayna that has formed. It is this hayal reflection that is projecting itself out of the engine, into the back section of our vessel.

“I attribute the widespread insomnia to the bombardment of magnetic energy out of the hot miknstisli plasma giving us our forward thrust.

“What do you think of my theoretical explanation?” asked Gulden.

The kaptan answered with his own question. “Can we do anything to put a stop to the mirroring by this ayna?”

“I can move and adjust the magnetized rods that penetrate the plasma so that there will no longer be any reflex effect going on.”

“That will be enough to do it?”

“My hope is that it will be sufficient to stop the hayal and vibration once and for all.”

“Let’s do it then,” decided Deger Tarcan.

It turned out to be a quick, minor operation to put an end to the subatomic reflection and projection of magnetic energy.

The increase and spreading of insomnia cases ended immediately. Then, several of those suffering sleeplessness recovered and fell into normal rest and slumber.

The entire crew was gratified. There could be no doubt that the illness had been defeated through modifications in the magnetoplasmic thrust system of the makine.

No one was as happy as the skipper. “We shall continue with our exploratory survey of this particular galaksi,” he told the crew over the ship’s audio system. “There is nothing that can hold us back now.”

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