Sunday, 24 May 2015

Relative Safety

"OK Kid, Granted you got us out of that one and I owe you but you have got to quit with the smug."

Taz grinned and relaxed back into the chair across the table.

"Fine, I'll tell you. But you have got to stop calling me Kid now"

Jared nodded and threw the silver can of Face Hugger over to him.

"Please, Taz."

"OK but you have to act impressed either way"

The cabin suddenly descends into pitch darkness. They both blink and freeze. After a second or two the luminescent  indicator strips near the hatch give them some measure of orientation.

"Engine is dead. No sounds!"

"Uh.. I'll save the story til later."

"OK Taz, you go up top and see if you can see anything. I'll try to get aux power on."

Jared felt his way past the clutter and hung stores of the living space to the cargo bay hatch and heaved it open by hand.

Normally the cargo bay of a ship such as this would contain a couple of dozen cargo canisters. This hauler however had been equipped for long range exploration so contained stores of long life foodstuffs and spares for things the auto repair wasn't programmed to fix.

With the cargo racks absent, the various conduits and cables that connected the different ships systems together were easily visible. Red, green and blue cables and pipes ran the length of the compartment floor and walls. The auxiliary generator was a fuel cell that would generate power directly from the ship's hydrogen tanks. Jared had inherited the fuel cell when he bought the ship. Normally they would start automatically but Jared had never felt inclined to attach it.

Jared toggled his suit radio.

"Taz, I'm manually starting the fuel cell. The flight system should boot when it gets power"

Taz's voice crackled over the small speaker.

"Nothing I can see outside. Just the same boring rock."

The fuel cell indicator lights flash an unsteady orange and then flit to light blue.

"Console is booting. I'll get a diagnostic when its ready."

The display on the fuel cell had two read outs. One showing the amount of reactant consumed and the electricity produced. The other display appeared to be counting time in seconds. No wait, there was a minus prefixing the timer. Just over three minutes were shown.

Taz's voice burst out of the suit radio.

"Ah Shit Jared. You better get up here"

Jared fumbled for the talk button.

"I'm coming up! What is it?"

"It's Shit. That's what it is."

Jared pushed through the cargo area hatch out into the living space, now dimly lit in emergency orange. Through the companionway he could see Taz staring at the holofac screen to the right of the pilot's seat.

"Give me the bad news kid!"

"It's Shit, and don't call me kid!"

"OK fine. Got anything more specific than shit?"

"I used to work at the breakers in Tionisla. We called it Shit. Shipboard Internet of Things. It was a huge pain in the dock."

Taz gestured to the second holofac display.

Electric ARTS
Automated Rental Tracking System has detected that your craft is in relative safety and has come into operation.

"What the hell?"

Jared stares in disbelief at the screen.

"All the ship's modules are linked by the power system. They are pretty much just a bunch of computers that do what the console says. But these ARTS things are bolted inline somewhere by dealers that do ship rentals so people don't run off after renting a ship. Where'd you get this tub?"

"I got her from George Lucas. A guy named Krystof at the shipyard. But that was a good month before I set out."

The holofac screen displayed another message.

Your rental period on unit 3.1.2 has expired and it has been deactivated in accordance with section 8.9.8b of your rental agreement.

"What the hell is unit 3.1.2?"

Taz taps away at the virtual keyboard.


"Very funny the first time! What is it really?"

"It.. It thinks it's the reactor."