16 Apr

Spanner to the head

Chief Engineer's log, 22:24, 16 April 2213
Location: Grisette system (unverified)
Status: Wide orbit around Grisette sol (unverified)


Just when I think I might be able to take a break, put my feet up for five minutes, Starry goes and comes up with a project for me. Typical, just typical. Worse than that: I have to work with Wong on it. Ray Wong, the ‘technical expert’ with a steel rod rammed so far up his ass you can see it when he smiles.

Well, I guess the drone maintenance can wait for a while, then. They can patch each other up. I was only doing it so that I didn’t have to look at that other project I have waiting for me. The captain hasn’t mentioned it and neither have I. If I leave it long enough, maybe he’ll forget about the killswitch.

Sensor array. They want to chuck a sensor array through a portal and see if they can scoop up a map before the doorway collapses. We have the parts for it – sensors of different flavours, raw metal to make a chassis for it, even enough feed lines to stop the portal from interfering with the data transfers.

Of course, Wong’s ‘instructions’ have been the least helpful I’ve ever come across. He wants six of this sensor and four of that one, full directional coverage, and enough processing power to channel the information back to Starry. Does he want it able to adjust its attitude? He has no idea. We’ll just leave it out there, free to wander in the winds of the world outside reality, shall we? Sensors are usually more use when they can be pointed, or all you get is pictures of people’s feet.

He looked at me like I was stupid and I wanted to adjust his attitude. Spanner to the back of the head will fix that. Of course we want to be able to control it, he says. That was a given. He doesn’t want a balloon on a string – he wants a proper sensor array. He thought I knew what that was. Never stopped to realise that if he wants something self-propelling, he’s not going to be able to have full directional coverage – it won’t be able to see through its own thrusters.

Yeah, just make it work, do your best, he says. He finally offered to supply the specs of the probes they used on their initial experiments, because it hadn’t occurred to him before that they might be useful to me. Oh, a mech designed to go through a portal and take readings? Why yes, that might be useful, considering the task at hand.

He’s just lucky that I’m too busy to make a sensor array that I can steer right up his–

Anyway. Enough of that creep. He’s too ‘busy’ to bother with the heavy lifting, so I’m free to do this on my own. Small mercies, right? I have Starry and her drone hands to help me out, which is all I need. We’ll put together something that’ll sensor him right off his rocker.

This is probably not what they’re looking for in a Chief Engineer’s report, but screw them. It’s my log and I’ll say what I damned well please.

I bet Wong’s the saboteur, too. Oh, everyone’s all busy talking about something else – Starwalker; Danika; holy fuck we travelled in time. Yeah yeah. How about the person who nearly killed us all? Who managed to kill someone, and has managed to permanently screw up a perfectly good AI? Someone who’ll probably try again. The captain didn’t want the SecOffs involved in the investigation in case one of them was responsible for it, so that leaves… me. What the fuck am I supposed to do with it?

There are only so many hours in my day, y’know. There’s always someone wanting something done: my shower’s running cold; the gravity fluctuates under my bed; the food dispenser is making everything taste like chicken, but the chicken tastes like seaweed; wah wah wah. Oh and can you design and build this thing, but don’t forget to go through sensor logs for this tiny little blip of a signal that killed someone. You know, when you can get to it.

Unlike the drones, I have to sleep sometimes. And eat. Most of the time I forget and Starry has to remind me. She hasn’t done that in a little while, and– okay, if I’m honest, I miss it. It was one less thing I had to worry about, y’know? And it’s been a long time since–

She’s been weird since this whole Danika thing came to light. I guess a lot’s changing for her – no-one really knows what this brain-copy means for her, not even Starry. Just typical of Danika to hang around after she was supposed to be gone – she was always doing stuff she wasn’t strictly supposed to be, but never bad enough for anyone to actually mind. I don’t know how to talk to her any more.

And now– hey.


ELLIOTT: (in Engineering, watching a drone approach him slowly) Uh, Starry?

STARWALKER: Yes, Elliott?

ELLIOTT: What’s drone, um, that one, what’s he doing?

SW: He’s trying not to spill your cocoa.

ELLIOTT: My– why’s he doing that?

SW: His left track is missing a link. He has to go slow to avoid spilling the drink.

DRONE: (arrives in front of Elliott and holds up both hands towards him, offering the cup. The little mechanical head tilts to the side.)

ELLIOTT: (frowns but takes the cup anyway) You didn’t have to do that.

SW: I know.

ELLIOTT: (sniffs the steam coming off the drink, then blinks and levels a look at the drone) Were you eavesdropping on me?

SW: What? No, of course not. You had a privacy lock in place.

ELLIOTT: You sure? Because I was just– (He stops abruptly.)

SW: (after a moment, nonplussed) You were what, Elliott?

ELLIOTT: (mumbles) Never mind.

SW: Actually, Elliott, I was thinking.

ELLIOTT: (about to take a sip of his drink, he huffs and puts the cup down on the counter next to him instead.) Oh yeah?

SW: About the drones. I was thinking that they need names.

ELLIOTT: (surprised) Names? You want to name them?

SW: I– no. I mean, they should have names, but I thought you might want to do it.


SW: Of course. You spend the most time with them. You’re their boss; closest thing they’ve got to a dad.

ELLIOTT: You don’t want to do it? (He eyes the drone sitting in front of him.)

DRONE: (looks back up at him, visual apertures dilated.)

SW: I wouldn’t know where to start. I’d like you to. Though, if you don’t want to, that’s okay, I’ll–

ELLIOTT: No, no. If you want me to, I’ll do it.

SW: Okay, great. Thank you.

ELLIOTT: (picking up his cup again) Don’t thank me yet. I might name them something you don’t like.

SW: I trust you.

ELLIOTT: (uncomfortably) Yeah, well. (He stops and blinks at the drone, which is stroking his leg.) Okay, what’s he doing now?

SW: I think he’s hoping you’ll be nice.

ELLIOTT: (eyes the drone, then pats it on the head.) Good boy. I promise not to name you ‘Anal Probe’. Now stop that, it’s creeping me out. Go polish your nuts or something.

DRONE: (trundles off, lopsidedly.)

ELLIOTT: It wasn’t you making him do that?

SW: Stroke your leg? No. Mostly I let them be autonomous. They’re happy to follow instructions their own way.

ELLIOTT: Huh. Okay.

SW: Is there anything else you need tonight?

ELLIOTT: (looks down into his cup, which is mostly empty already.) Mmm, nope. I’m good.

SW: All right. Good night, Elliott.

ELLIOTT: G’night, Starry.


Dammit, how does she do that? Just lets one of her little fellas limp in here, all pathetic, so I’ll forgive her. I’m sure she was eavesdropping. Not that I need to forgive her for anything, though. It’s not– ugh. Anyway. Anyway.

Starry is a strange new thing. She’s in one piece, but I have a headache to deal with anyway. I should just keep doing my job, I guess. Keep my head down until all of this goes away.

Time for me to sign off and head the fuck to bed. Night, log.

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2 Responses to “Spanner to the head”

  1. David Says:

    Uh… Huh huh. You said Anal Probe.

  2. Melanie Says:

    Not me! Elliott has a filthy mouth. 😉