Day Eleven


“Amy!”

“Hey, Mikey.”

“What’s going on? The alarm! What is it? Why are the lights off? Why is it so cold in here?”

“There’s a teeensie little problem in Engineering, Boss. With the reactor and the reactor is currently… off, but it’s not a big deal, except you might die if we don’t get it fixed within an hour.”

“What is the problem?”

“A little piece of the reactor is out of alignment thingy and-“

“Amy. Revert to default personality matrix.”

“Okie dokie. Reverting…”

“Echo, what is the fucking problem?”

“One of the magnetic coils generating the containment bubble was knocked out of alignment by .12 centimeters resulting in a field fluctuation that triggered a safety protocol to shut down the reactor and vent the contained plasma.”

“So we have no power until it’s fixed and the reactor is restarted. Assign a construct to fix the coil.”

“I tried that course of action before I sounded the alarm to wake you. The misaligned coil is in a section of the reactor room that a construct cannot access. This will require your intervention.”

“Always something. Okay, let me grab the tools and head back to Engineering.”

“Negative. That would be extremely unadvisable without an EXO suit. We are currently running on auxiliary power only. All non-essential ship functions have been shut down. Life support is set to minimal which means that life support functions are confined to the ship’s bridge module and stasis pods only.”

“Okay, let me get the EXO suit.”

“I would advise you hurry.”

“Why?

“My estimates regarding the repair time, including your changing into the EXO suit and navigating back to the reactor module, is 43 minutes. Restarting the reactor will take 12 minutes. At the current rate of power usage, the batteries will be drained in 63 minutes.”

“Once I’m in the EXO Suit, shut down life support in the bridge section. That should buy us a bit more time.”

“113 seconds.”

“That’s it? What’s draining all of the power? No, the magnetic deflectors, right?”

“Correct. We are still traveling at .9 the speed of light. Any collisions from even the smallest debris particles would prove catastrophic.”

“Do the life support thing and dial back the deflectors another 5%. How much longer will that give us?”

“15 minutes, but I have already adjusted the defectors to the minimum safe level to redirect debris around the ship.”

“Drop the power further; I don’t care if the paint gets scratched so long as nothing punches a hole in us.”

“Calculating… There is a moderate risk, but I can reduce power levels another 3.2%.”

“That’ll have to do.”

Captain’s Log. Michael Torres. S.S. Neo Genesis.

I’m in an EXO suit preparing to transfer to the Colony Storage Unit 1 in an attempt to access the Engineering module so I can make a correction to the fusion reactor. I’ve got about twelve minutes before the power fails and we’re a giant rocket travelling at near light speed with nothing to deflect meteorites out of our way, so I’m keeping this entry brief.

Initializing airlock.

Jesus… well, that’s not creepy at all.

Caskets, cryotubes, I mean, lining the walls and stacked on top of each other ten high and nothing but the EXO suit’s light to see it by.

Yeah, this would be the part of the horror movie where the alien leaps out and tears me to pieces. Of course, there isn’t anyone here but me.

“Captain, may I remind you that time is short.”

Yeah, I know. I’m on my way.

Navigating through Colony Storage Unit 1. No vicious aliens in sight yet. Just a lot of human popsicles. Hey, it’s the Colony Governor. James R. Harris. Hi, Governor. You’ll be happy to know that your vitals are still normal for a human ice cube. Who else do we have here?

Chief Science Officer, Dr. Marsha Wells.  M.I.T.? Impressive.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Silas Green. Oh, doc… you’ve got high cholesterol, shame on you.

Quite a few farmers.

And… Secondary Space Pilot… That’s strange. No name or medical data. Are they still alive?

“Both reservists are alive.”

I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me more about my replacements, Echo?

“Information unavailable.”

Why is that?

“Mission critical personnel files are locked.”

Come on, I just read the names and medical statistics of the chief Colonial personnel.

“Mission critical personnel files are locked.”

It’s my clone, isn’t it?

“Human cloning is illegal under the Human Genome Accords of 2110. You now have fifteen minutes and 45 seconds to realign the magnetic coil and restart the fusion reactor.”

So I should drop it and get on with it?  Fine. But I’m going to bug you about it later.

“If you do not move with greater haste, there will not be a later.”

Yeah, yeah. I’m moving. Transferring to Colony Storage Unit 2.

So many people here and I can’t talk to any of them for another 30 years.

Echo, how far am I from engineering?

“The Engineering section is just past Colony Storage Unit 3.”

More creepy caskets. Great.

“Colony Storage Unit 3 contains all of the needed equipment, food, and supplies to establish a successful colony. There are no additional colonists in stasis.”

Anything I might find interesting?

“You have been provided all necessary and recreational materials for the duration of our voyage.”

You’re no fun at all, Echo.

“Would you like me to load the Amy profile again?”

No! God, no. I won’t touch anything. Scout’s honor. Just don’t bring Amy back online.

“Understood. Please, hurry.”

Yeah, yeah.

Okay, all of this stuff is so damn shiny, but it’s not that different from my own freighter’s engines. That would be the fusion reactor. Echo? Can you highlight for me the magnetic coil that is out of alignment?

“Displaying location on your EXO Suit’s HUD.”

All the way in the back, huh?

“Which is why a construct could not reach it. There was insufficient space behind the reactor core.”

Great design flaw. Let me guess, cost cutting measure?

“There are tools located in the lower locker nearest the door.”

Alright, let’s get this done, so I can go back to sleep.

You weren’t kidding about the tight fit.

“Can you reach the magnetic coil?”

Yeah.

“Good. First, start by using the-“

Relax. I’ve got this. I used to do repairs to the engines of my junker all the time.

“This is not a junker. This is a highly advanced starship.”

You’ve seen one fusion reactor, you’ve seen them all, Echo.

“Captain… striking the magnetic coil with a hammer is inadvisable.”

Relax. A couple of taps should do it.

“Captain, I must insist you stop. You are going to damage-“

There. Run a diagnostic on it now.

“The magnetic coil is back in alignment. But your methodology was not within recommended protocols. I must report this to your superiors.”

Echo, I kept a one hundred and twenty-seven year-old freighter running for twenty years without incident. I think your bosses know what skills I bring to the mission. But you do what you have to do. What are they going to do, fire me?

“There are two additional pilots on board.”

Is that a threat, Echo?

“A reminder. You are important, but you are still expendable.”

Wow. I didn’t know you had it in you, Echo. Restart the reactor and bring life support and the magnetic deflectors back up to normal.

“Acknowledged. What are you going to do, Captain?”

I’m going back to bed.

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