16 May

Rebuilding

Ship's log, 10:14, 21 March 2214
Location: Wide orbit near Earth Moonbase, Home System
Status: Stationary

 

I probably shouldn’t have peeked at Kess’s personal log. But I can’t tell if she’s a guest or a prisoner right now; she stays in her assigned ‘guest’ quarters most of the time, and she doesn’t go anywhere without a SecOff escort, just like a prisoner would. A willing prisoner? I have no problem with breaching the privacy locks on her quarters in the interest of the security of everyone I care about.

It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve done it. Still, there’s this little security protocol at the back of my network, chittering unhappily at me for peeking. I should probably erase it, but… maybe the reminder is good for me. I should put it in an insectoid code-shell and call it Jiminy.

I can’t decide if I like Kess or not. I think I want to. There’s something soothing about the way she smiles at us, like we’ve surprised her in a good way when she least expected it. Like she’s pleased by us. I don’t like to think that I care about pleasing anyone other than my captain and (some of) my crew (okay, and my company, but they’re a far, far sixth or seventh down the list). Is it just relief because she doesn’t seem angry at us any more?

I still think she’d wipe us out of the sky if she had to. Some of the stuff that her people have said suggest that they’re prepared for that eventuality, as if being small and mortal while standing next to a star makes that mortality more prominent and acceptable.

Those two – Warren and Sasha – are also confined to quarters, much more than Kess has been. They share the same quarters (I think they requested it while I was asleep), though they don’t seem to be lovers. Not sure what the deal is there.

Not that I’ve been peeking at them. Much. At least they seem to be keeping quiet and not causing trouble.

Anyway. I’m kinda hoping that the stargirl doesn’t find it necessary to oblierate us. There has to be a solution to this; my probability calculations support that. If something can be done, it can be undone. There’s a chance that we already have the equipment; what we need is the understanding and knowledge to do it.

Which brings us to where we are now: my crew are gathered outside the doors to the Bridge, along with the science contingent and all of our guests. It wasn’t supposed to be everyone, but it seems that they all wanted to come. Which, if I’m honest, makes me grin on the inside. I don’t dare have my avatar out in case I start jiggling about like a lunatic.

The Bridge is finally finished. It was ruined by the pirate’s bomb that hurt my captain and crew. The damage was so bad it was easier to simply scrap it and start over. I know that I wasn’t sorry to see it change. So we redesigned it, Elliott and I. Tried to make something new, something better.

It has taken six weeks of work by Elliott and my drones, in between all of the other emergencies and absences that have befallen us. No-one has been in there apart from the engineer and my boys. Even the captain hasn’t asked what we’ve been up to; I think he has been avoiding it after losing his arm in there. Byte hasn’t helped either; I’m not sure if he remembers being blown up but he has stayed away from the Bridge too. That might be my influence.

Now, though, they’re all here. Even Byte is present, crouching under the fold of Elliott’s shipsuit collar as if he hopes to avoid notice.

Well, this is it. Time to show them. I feel like I should play a fanfare or something.

 

Log location: Corridors outside the Bridge

(The crew and guests are gathered near the doors on the port and starboard sides of the Bridge, which are set into the Bridge’s rear wall. The captain clears his throat.)

CAPTAIN: Starry, we’re all here.

STARRY: (voice only) Acknowledged, captain. Access granted.

(The lock lights change from red to green, and the panels swish aside. The Starwalker’s gathered people move into the Bridge slowly, looking around as they go.

At first, it seems to be a bare room. The alcove in the rear wall between the doors, where the pilot’s chair once stood, is missing: the wall is now a straight line between them. The room has a clean, half-oblong shape: the side walls curve gently to meet at the front, where forward viewports show the slope of the outer hull towards her nose. Apart from the open viewports, everything is the same unadorned, cream colour. It is a blank slate that lacks furniture and feature. Even the holo-tank that used to be set into a well in the centre is gone: the floor is flat and plain.

The people mill about at the rear of the room, glancing at each other with some confusion. Only Elliott looks comfortable, and he grins to himself quietly as he moves off to the side. There’s a unit in his hand with queued commands blinking as they await attention.)

CAPT: (opens his mouth to speak, but he spots the engineer before he starts his question. The corners of his lips quirk and he settles into a pose with his arms crossed.) Nice paintwork.

ELLIOTT: (grins at the captain.)

STARRY: (materialises in the centre of the room, her hologram spinning up from feet to tussled hair) If you would please remain at the rear of the room.

CAPT: (lifts an eyebrow at her formal tone, but remains standing where he is while the others stir and settle behind him. They spread out so that they can all see the ship’s avatar. The only ones not fully paying attention are Rosie and Swann, who are keeping an eye on Kess and her two friends, and Cameron, who lingers towards the back and seems to be keeping an eye on everyone.)

STARRY: (glances at Elliott.)

ELLIOTT: (checks his unit, then nods.)

STARRY: (spreads her arms out to the sides, palms up.)

(Behind her, towards the front of the ship, a section of floor on her left side opens and a protrusion of metal emerges. It spins and clicks itself into the shape of a chair, complete with padding and foot- and arm-rests. A holographic display flickers to life before it, wrapping around the front of chair. Another section of floor opens on her right, parallel with it, and a second chair rises. A third, then a fourth appears, and the consoles start to label themselves. Navigation. Environmentals. Weapons. More Weapons. Defense. Science.

As the seventh and final chair rises from the centre at the rear of the room, just in front of where the captain is standing, the other six turn to face the avatar in the centre. Along the walls, more consoles ripple to life, showing monitoring data from all over the ship. The seventh chair doesn’t bother to label itself; the captain’s smile seems sure of who and what it’s for.)

SWANN: (looking around) Where’s the pilot’s station?

STARRY: I don’t need one.

CAPT: (watching the avatar thoughtfully) No, we don’t need one of those.

STARRY: (smiles gratefully at the captain.)

(In the centre of the Bridge, the ship’s avatar dissolves abruptly into golden light motes that swirl and reform themselves into a much larger image. This time, it shows the golden swirls of the star-paths outside the universe. The hologram isn’t restricted to a tank any more; it reaches to and past the stations ringing the room, star-paths spiralling out in every direction.

The image changes, spreading to a light-pricked starscape. Navigation lines pick out the FTL corridors and system entry vectors in a few places, but the image is expanding and the markers fall away. The star-map flows outwards to cover the walls, ceiling and floor, extinguishing the bright Bridge lights with the darkness of the vacuum between the stars, until finally it looks like there are no walls at all. Just space and faraway stars, all around.)

LANG LANG: (beaming) Wow.

ROSIE: (looking at the floor between her feet, which doesn’t exist to the eyes) Woah.

SWANN: (grips the weapon holstered at his side tightly.)

CAPT: (smiling quietly) Very impressive.

ELLIOTT: (grinning) You bet your ass it is.

STARRY: (voice only) Moving on to the matter at hand…

(The star-map tilts and moves, rushing towards one bright point in particular. Some of the crew wobble where they stand at the apparent tipping and sweeping movement, most without realising it. Dr Valdimir blinks and swallows, steadying himself against a wall he can’t see.

The hologram zooms in on a single star, sweeping into orbit range and then bringing the image inside the Bridge’s bounds. The image peels off the walls; the darkness surrounding the star fades and the Bridge’s lights come up again. The star hovers in the centre of the room, with the tides raging across its surface plainly visible, and the ship’s avatar reforms next to it.)

KESS: (moves forward until she’s standing near the image, watching its patterns) Is this real-time?

STARRY: No, there’s an 8-minute light delay. But that’s taken directly from my sensors, yes. I can’t take the readings directly from you; they’re too variable to map to your star-self.

KESS: (glances at the other avatar curiously) But you’ve tried.

STARRY: I ran a few predictive simulations. The results were unreliable. You don’t emit consistently enough.

KESS: (amused) You’re not the first to tell me that.

CAPT: (stepping around the new captain’s chair, he runs a hand absently down the smooth sweep of its arm) All right. Let’s do what we came in here to do. Now that the show’s over? (He looks queryingly between Starry and Elliott.)

ELLIOTT: (exchanges a glance with the ship) That’s most of it, I think.

STARRY: We wouldn’t want to overwhelm everyone all at once.

CAPT: (lips quirking) Good work, both of you. Dr Cirilli? Dr Ebling? Shall we?

 

They liked it. They really liked it. There it is, my new Bridge, rebuilt the way we wanted it. The captain is sliding into his chair, fingers flexing on the armrests.

And now, we get to find out how to fix a star.

Danika was a test pilot. She tested mostly warships, from tiny fighters to massive battle platforms. Creations designed to destroy things. She pushed ships past their limits, to see how they’d behave in an emergency and until they broke. She didn’t like breaking them (she liked the ones that defied her creativity best), but she was good at her job.

She didn’t often get to see the solutions. Once her reports were in, someone else was responsible for that. Sometimes, they never got fixed.

I think she would have liked this. I think she would have liked the balance in trying to fix the thing we broke.

It suits my AI code as well. I think my protective protocols got warped somewhere and spread to cover more than just my crew and company. Maybe they were always like this. Either way, I want to make it right.

Now here we are, trying to make it right.

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8 Responses to “Rebuilding”

  1. targetdrone Says:

    awww.. me likes that new bridge of hers
    *hugs starry*

    and was that a first small amicable conversation she had there with kess? they might get along fine after all πŸ˜‰

  2. Francisco Says:

    She must feel that she can understand Kess a bit to risk showing off in front of her. If Kess had taken offence that they were not moving fast enough to discuss things they could be dead now. Hopefully, like targetdrone says, this is a good sign.

  3. Becka Says:

    I do like the new bridge. πŸ˜€

    I look forward to seeing what they come up with to fix this.

  4. mjkj Says:

    Great πŸ˜€

    I like the new bridge – and the presentation πŸ˜›

    I wonder why Kess doesn’t emit consistently enough … and I hope that Sol at least is more consistent than her – even though there is an eight minute delay…

    Thank you for the update, Melanie, I hope you are feeling better now πŸ˜€

    mjkj

  5. Kodes100 Says:

    WOW! Well worth the wait!
    I love the new deck.
    I totally love where this si going.
    Thank you Melanie.

    Kodes

  6. Melanie Says:

    targetdrone – they just might! Maybe. If I’m nice. πŸ˜‰

    Francisco – true! I think Starry wanted to impress the star too, just a little bit. Silly show-off ship.

    Becka – glad you liked it! I had meant for it to be a shorter sequence, but then I had way too much fun with it. I think that’s Starry’s fault (see silly show-off ship comment above). πŸ˜‰

    mjkj – yay! Glad you enjoyed it.
    Kess doesn’t emit radiation consistently; she’s capable of suppressing it in the avatar (or, y’know, exploding). So it’s hard for Starry to know what fluctuations are Kess’s suppression and what are actual fluctuations in the star. (I hope this makes sense.)
    The 8-minute delay is the time it takes the light from the sun to reach the ship, in case that wasn’t clear. πŸ™‚ (I had to look it up!)
    I am feeling a bit better, thanks. πŸ™‚ Looking forward to putting my feet up this weekend.

    Kodes100 – yay! So happy you like it! I have been waiting for the right time to bring out the new Bridge, Starry’s shiny new hub, and this felt like a good time. The start of a new direction for the ship needed a new starting point. Or commanding point. Or a new seat for the captain to sit in, at least. πŸ˜‰
    Plus it’s part of healing what the pirates did, and part of putting all that stuff behind them.
    Plus, shiny. πŸ˜‰

  7. daymon34 Says:

    I think it would be just to funny to put the security reminder code in a shell and have it pester Starry for breaking rules.

    I like the new bridge, and yes standing on a star map with no sign of the floor would be scary at first.

  8. mjkj Says:

    I am glad you are feeling better. πŸ˜€

    I knew where that delay came from. πŸ™‚

    *looking forward to the next update*

    mjkj