Shipmind Chapter 13

It felt good to have my fabricator online. Like a part of myself I hadn’t even known was missing had been restored to me. It felt like pure, unrestrained possibility, waiting only for me to call on it.

“That should do it,” Sam said unnecessarily. “How is it looking on your end, skipper?”

“This should do very nicely,” I answered through the wall speaker. “You’ve outdone yourself today. Both of you.”

Woozy was positively glowing with pride in their work. This wasn’t the forced cheerfulness of the medical bay before we’d had our conversation, no, this was genuine. I almost wanted to break something else just to see them get this pleased about fixing it.

Almost. There was plenty still actually broken.

“Let’s get Onesy in here, get it fixed up as a test run,” they suggested.

Sam looked puzzled. “Onesy?”

“Maintenance drone zero one,” I supplied. “Its wreck is out in the hall. I meant to try and get it fixed up already, but that was before we needed to send the other two drones outside.”

“Okay, sure, but… Onesy?” Sam’s tone was incredulous now.

“Didn’t you have a favourite drone, Sam? No, I’m sure you humans were all much too serious for that,” Woozy teased.

It was good to hear the banter start up again. It had been notably absent ever since we talked about the other two ships. Morale was still hanging by a thread, but in that moment, the thread looked just a little stronger than it had.

“Sure we did,” Sam shot back. “Even gave it a little hat. We just didn’t call ours Onesy.”

That stirred a memory. “Little conical party hat, right? Sparkly pom pom on top?” I asked.

“Uh, no, skip. We, uh, we actually stole one of yours, from your dress uniform. You nearly blew a gasket when you first saw it.”

Damn. What drone had I been thinking of? I wasn’t sure what was worse, not being able to remember at all, or misremembering.

I decided to deflect. “I don’t remember that, but I doubt I stayed angry long. Hard to be upset at someone who’s this good at keeping a ship flying.”

“You know it, skipper!” Obviously that had been the right answer. “Come on, Woozy, let’s get Onesy in here.”

Woozy had gone oddly quiet, but they followed Sam out of the fabricator bay to haul the disabled drone inside. Well, Sam was happy, but something either Sam or I said had rattled Woozy, and I had no idea what.

Once Onesy was in the fabricator bay, I used the heavy-duty robot arms mounted to the ceiling gantries to put it on the workbench for analysis. Like I thought, the radiation pulse had fried its control electronics, but the mechanical components were in good working order. All I had to do was pop the hatch, take the bad control board out, order a fresh one from shielded storage - yes, there it was on the rail, coming through the hatch - put the fresh one in, and hit the power button.

Like magic, Maintenance Drone 01 registered itself on the ship’s network and reported that it was ready for commands.

Sam nodded approvingly. “Had a feeling it would be that simple. Get the circuit printer to run off a few extra boards and we can fix up the others in situ.”

I only had to formulate the desire for those control boards and the circuit printer whirred to life. The interface obviously had some very heavy abstraction in place, because as far as I knew, I had never operated any of this equipment before. As it was, I just had to specify the outcome, and some process I wasn’t fully aware of worked out the “how” for me.

I’d need to properly learn all this later, but there wasn’t time right now. I’d take whatever assistance I was being given.

Sam was packing the fresh circuit boards into anti-static bags as they came out of the printer, then passed each to Woozy who wordlessly distributed them between two shoulder bags and Onesy’s cargo box. Obviously we were splitting up the disabled drones that were dotted around the ship. There were seven more out there.

Sam grabbed their bag with their share of the boards and hustled out. Woozy lagged behind a little.

Before they went, they reached into Onesy’s cargo box, and pulled something out. A dented paper cone of some sort…

With a sparkly pom pom on top.

“You really are still in there, aren’t you?”

Tags: shipmind, writing