26 Feb

Dodging rocks

Chief Engineer's log, 11:56, 26 February 2213
Location: Corsica system
Status: Sublight transit

Chief Engineer’s report, twenty-sixth, blah blah blah.

We’ve made it to the Corsica system finally. We had two jumps delayed by the insistent fuckery of the whitecoats. I’m sorry: our science contingent commandeered vital portions of the ship’s functionality and our ability to jump to FTL was a secondary factor. Perhaps that’s the diplomacy the captain’s looking for.

I don’t care how you word it; it doesn’t change the facts.

They think they know everything about everything. Maybe that’s true on mid-deck, but the rest of the ship is mine. I know her better than anyone.

Anyway. Apart from their interferences, shakedown is going smoothly. A few minor glitches, some calibration in the inertial dampeners, but nothing out of the ordinary. The engines are running in nicely and lights are green across the board now.

A good job, even if I do say so myself (hell, no-one else will). As close to fucking perfect as it’s possible to get.

The only thing left to do is test the thrusters and manoeuvrability. Preferably before we get to Corsica herself and the whitecoats start salivating over their experiment again. We’re back in a sublight zone, so I guess now is as good a time as any.

Hold on. The thrusters are already active. Lit up like a damn festival.


ELLIOTT: (opens his mouth to speak, then catches sight of a screen. Stars spin past it in a dizzying whirl.) Starry?!

(There is no immediate answer, so he taps on his digisheet.)


Ship's Log, 11:58, 26 February 2213


Now this is flying.

Whoops, little close there. Look out below, coming through!

Left hand down, ZOOOOOOM.

Hee hee hee.

ELLIOTT: (grabs a console as a huge chunk of rock rolls by the screen.) Starwalker!

STARWALKER: (sounding cheerful) Yes, Elliott?

ELLIOTT: (frowning worriedly.) What the hell is going on?

SW: We’re passing through an asteroid belt.

ELLIOTT: Don’t we usually go around?

SW: How should I know what we ‘usually’ do? This is way more fun than going around.

ELLIOTT: Does the captain know?

SW: No, he hasn’t– (She pauses.) He does now. (She sighs.) He would like to know why we’re off-course.

ELLIOTT: You know how to get yourself in trouble, huh?

SW: (quietly.) It’s not like I broke anything.

ELLIOTT: Patch me through to the bridge, would you?


Fun. Our ship is having fun. I’m not sure I like the sound of this, but I wish the captain would go easy on her. I think she gets upset, which is ridiculous; AI’s don’t get upset.

The other day, Warwick asked me if I had done any programming on her before she was booted up. Of course not! We had enough problems before without anyone screwing with the AI’s code, so I’m not going to start now. He should know me better than that.

Oh, here we go.


CAPTAIN: (on the bridge) …explanation for this.

SW: I’m just–

ELLIOTT: (quickly) Captain, I asked Starwalker to test her thrusters.

CAPT: Monaghan? You’re responsible for this?

ELLIOTT: It’s part of a standard shakedown.

CAPT: Dodging rocks is not usually involved.

SW: They were right there and it’s quicker than going around the belt. Perhaps Chief Cameron would like to test the weapons while we’re here, too?

ELLIOTT: It would help to test out the targetting system.

CAPT: (sighs.) Starwalker, contact Cameron and let her know. Elliott, try not to send us off-course again without informing me.

SW/ELLIOTT: Yes, sir.


SW: (in Engineering, quietly) Sorry, Elliott.

ELLIOTT: (scrubbing the back of his neck with one hand) Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry about it. (He squints at the screen and notices that a rock is shown steadily now, turning slowly in the optic’s view. The ship doesn’t appear to be moving.) Malfunction?

SW: No. It wasn’t as fun with everyone shouting. And it was distracting.

ELLIOTT: No-one’s shouting any more.

SW: I know. Thank you.

ELLIOTT: (watches the screen, but the rock still blots out the stars. Starwalker hasn’t moved.) So, how’d you handle?

SW: Pretty good. Fast. Nimble.

ELLIOTT: Did you run all the thrusters at maximum?

SW: No.

ELLIOTT: (grinning lopsidedly at the screen) Well, better get back to it, then.

SW: Okay. Do you want to see?


(The screens around the room flick to show the feeds from the external scanners. Elliott can’t feel it, but the ship punches into motion again, spinning down between two chunks of rock and skimming across a metal vein. The scenery of the asteroid belt lurches and twists as the ship wriggles through it. Elliott catches himself gripping the edge of the counter again and leaning to the left, even though he can’t feel the movement of the ship. He makes himself let go.)


So. I guess the thrusters are being checked after all, by a ship that enjoys speeding through a mass of shifting rock. That’s not normal.

I’m not sure why I covered for her. I probably shouldn’t have; it’s not my problem, though I’m the one who will have to wipe her if it comes to that. It’s not like the captain needs a reason to be annoyed with me, though; what’s one more excuse, right?

Ah, who cares. The captain will get over it. On the plus side, all the readouts are still green.

Oh good, the targetting systems are active. I guess Cameron has Tripi at the controls, blasting the shit out of rocks. SecOffs get the best fun.


ELLIOTT: (gripping a counter suddenly) Fuck, Starry, that was close!

SW: (cheerfully) Don’t worry, Elliott, we’re fine! I’ve got you.

ELLIOTT: Don’t you go getting any dings in your paintwork before we get to the star.

SW: I won’t, I promise. Lou Tripi is adjusting her aim.

ELLIOTT: Right. …are you giggling?

SW: Little bit. It’s a challenge! Did you want to check the targetting on the belly turret?

ELLIOTT: (straightening) Me? Are you serious?

SW: Why not? There’s no rule against it, is there? Or are you a bad shot?

ELLIOTT: I’m an awesome shot. Gimme a terminal here.

SW: Of course, Engineer Monaghan.

(Holographic weapons controls rise out of nearby workstation and the screens around the room shift into 3-D holographic mode. Elliott grins and puts his hands into position.)

ELLIOTT: Look out, rockers, we’re comin’ through!

SW: (laughs.)

(Rocks explode.)

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4 Responses to “Dodging rocks”

  1. Dash Says:


    Where do I sign up for a ride on Starwalker?

  2. Starwalker Says:

    Thanks for the interest! Always happy to oblige; if you’re lucky, I’ll even turn down the inertial dampeners so you can lean into the corners.

    I believe my waiting list is held on Feras. Please proceed six systems over, four to the left, and straight on for three FTL jumps. See you there!


  3. capriox bovidae Says:

    Rocks explode! Yes!

    I giggle so much reading this story.

  4. Melanie Says:

    Yay! I’m glad. I had the best fun writing this post.