Shipmind Chapter 4

I’d discovered I could watch what Frill was doing through the camera in their voidsuit’s helmet. They moved through the dark, airless, weightless corridors with a speed and grace I felt no one on my old crew could have equalled.

As they rounded a corner, they reached out, put their hand on a grab bar fixed to the bulkhead, and came to an abrupt halt. It was immediately obvious why.

“Medbay, Frill. Found out what’s wrong with 34A.”

The ferret and I could both see stars through a massive crack in the hull. From here, it looked like it spanned seven decks. Exactly how the ship managed to survive this completely escaped me. I supposed it hadn’t, in a sense.

“Yeah, that’d do it.” I heard Woozy’s voice both over the radio feed and through my microphone pickup in the medical bay. While my attention may have been out here with Frill, Woozy was still physically sitting right next to me. “Can you fix it?”

“Can I fix it?” Frill sounded incredulous. “I can’t believe you’re even asking that, Wooz.”

I was thinking the same thing. This was going to need major shipyard time. Maybe we’d have better luck with one of the other cable junctions.

I heard a muted clunk over the suit radio, followed by Len’s voice. “You’re secure, Frill.”

Frill looked to their left, checking something. The grab bar they were holding now had a cable tether attached to it. A nod, and then Frill leapt out across the gap in the hull. “Can I fix it, they ask? Can I fix one missing cable run across twenty meters of vacuum? Ask me something hard next time. Len, keep feeding me cable.”

I switched my awareness to Len’s helmet camera and watched Frill sail out across the gap, dragging a pair of data and electrical cables with them. Len, I had learned, was the ship’s cook of all things, yet here they were, helping with repairs like they’d been doing it all their life. Maybe they had, for all I knew. Were the ferrets all like this?

I made a mental note to stop underestimating the Querral.

“Bridging 33A to 37B,” Frill announced. They’d reached the other side of the gap in the hull, thin little cables strung out over nothing, and had popped open the first junction box they found. As the cables locked into place, I felt an awareness of systems on the other side start to trickle in.

First thing first. Start main reactor. Main reactor controls offline. Local power unavailable.

Well, that was a different problem at least.

“The network says I have communications access to the reactor room,” I reported, “but that the control systems inside don’t have power.”

“That’s actually a good sign,” Sam chimed in. They’d been oddly quiet through the whole operation. “It means the reactor room probably drained its batteries doing a safe shutdown.”

“I’ll see if the network knows of any other batteries we can borrow.”

List areas with emergency battery power. Main bridge, assessed destroyed. Main reactor room, assessed discharged. Medical bay, operational. Good, but we don’t want to borrow those except as a last resort, since they’re keeping us all alive. Primary drone control, operational.

That sounded promising. Primary drone control status. On reserve power. Drone fabrication offline. Maintenance drones 00–07 not present. Maintenance drones 08 and 09 present and on standby.

If I’d had legs, I would have jumped for joy. “Well, I’ve got some good news! Not only does primary drone control have a working battery backup, but it looks like we may have two working maintenance drones.”

That got some smiles. Seventeen people wasn’t a lot to cover the amount of ground we were going to have to on a ship built for hundreds, even if all of them were physically capable of getting voidsuits on and going out there. Which, given that this was the medical bay, several of them weren’t. And wasn’t one of those people a drone operator from my old ship?

Tags: shipmind, writing