23 Apr

Unmade

Chief Engineer's log, 21:19, 23 April 2213
Location: Grisette system
Status: Wide orbit around Grisette sol

 

Chief Engineer’s report, following the ‘let’s stick something in a portal and see what happens’ experiment. You’d think they would have figured all this stuff out already, but no, apparently not. Maybe next week, we’ll do the ‘let’s stick a hand in a blender and see what happens’ test, and then Maletz can do the damn reporting on the damage.

Starry’s fine. Mechanically, anyway. She managed not to break her sublight engines again – when I fix something, I fix it good. They can take a bit of redlining. I can’t say the same for half the terminals on the ship. Wherever she was feeding the sensor data got burned out – explosively, in a couple of places. I had to send the drones to put out fires and clear up debris. It’s going to take a while to get that mess all sorted out and the terminals working again.

I hear Tripi, Ebling and Lang Lang will be fine. They caught some of the backlash of the explosions and Maletz wound up having to pick bits of bulkhead out of them. More work than he’s done since he came on board the first Starwalker. Nothing serious, he says. Tripi’s less pretty today – she has gashes on one side of her face. She’s talking about maybe keeping the scars, so she has a story to tell. Typical. She’ll probably paint them blue or something.

The Beholder – the sensor array – suffered the worst damage. I thought we’d lost it completely, but when Starry yanked us away from the portal, she pulled the array free as well. It popped into the world like a cork on a string, and dangled behind us while we fled to a safer orbit. I had so many on-board emergencies to deal with that I didn’t even realise it had survived until I went to check on the damage in the Cargo Bay. There was the drone sitting in the airlock, patiently dragging the Beholder back inside and coiling up the tether.

The damage to the array is the strangest I’ve ever seen. It looks like a person might after being flash-fried by radiation, but without the burns. Just missing flesh with no real pattern at all – that’s the best analogy I can come up with. It looks like someone dipped it into an acid bath, but without the liquid marks. Some parts are dulled, some still shiny. Innards are exposed but not pulled or dangling out. The damage is spread evenly over the whole globe of the array, and it ate down into the tether too. There isn’t much left of the cabling and it was barely connected, which explains why Starry had no idea she was dragging it behind her.

She was dismayed when she saw the Beholder. She said it had felt like it was unpeeling, and that was puzzling until I looked at it under an atomic microscope. On a molecular level, that’s pretty much what happened: something unzipped the molecular bonds, spinning the array’s metals and plastic off into the void atom by atom.

If that’s what happens to things that travel through that weird whatever-they’re-calling-it out there, I’ll stick to travelling the long way, thank you. We weren’t there long enough to notice anything when we came through to here, but what happens if we get stuck? Fuck that. The damn place unmakes you, one atom at a time. I mean, what would happen to an unprotected person out there? You’d come back without any skin. Or hair. Or eyeballs. Or– okay, I think I topped out my gross-factor with the eyeballs.

Of course, we’ll have to go back through it to get home. Just typical. Didn’t Cirilli do any investigations before she decided to stick this damn drive in a ship and drag us out here? Isn’t this shit what probes are for?

Whitecoats. Determined to kill us all. And we thought the pirates were our biggest danger. Talk about out of the frying pan and into a plasma bath from hell.

On the plus side, Starry says that she managed to get together enough data to build a partial map. She’ll need an upgrade to hold an entire map of the universe, she says, but she thinks that she can put together a chart of the galaxy with her current resources.

She has been working with Lang Lang steadily since she recovered from the sensor overload, and the nav now reckons she can confirm our location. Still working on the exact time difference – she murmured something about it being more than she assumed before and stuck her head down again. And that was at lunch! She’s better than me about remembering to eat, but at least I don’t take parts to the table. Well, most of the time. Look, it’s awkward to fix stuff while you’re trying to eat – I’m no drone with extra hands to play with, y’know.

That’s actually everything there is to report. Hanging out on the other side of the portal is fucking dangerous. We might have a map and are still figuring out where to put our ‘x’ to mark the spot. I might have to start making holographic projectors and display units from raw materials if I can’t salvage enough from the wreckage. Just when you think you have enough supplies, y’know? Plus I’m gonna have to fix up the Beholder if we’re ever going to use it again, which is gonna be fun because the sensors were the first things to get stripped.

At least I’ve got stuff to do. The rest of the crew, they’re mostly twiddling their thumbs and contemplating all the shit we can get up to. Starry’s a time machine. Fucking time machine. We can go back and make paradoxes if we want. Isn’t that awesome? If it was left up to the whitecoats, they’d go visit the cavemen, give them the ‘flu, and wipe us all out of existence. I’ve even seen Ebling grinning a few times as he expounds about what we can learn about this theory and that theory, and how we can prove that half the whitecoat community have been calculating their theorems with their toes.

Yeah, when you’re done fucking with the universe, some of us would like to go home at some point. Or at least know that we might be able to. Just because most of us don’t have family back there, doesn’t mean we don’t want to visit and realise why we left in the first place. Or, y’know. Get a change of socks. Maybe even get drunk and pick up chicks. Or get some chicks drunk and pick them up. I’m not fussy.

Anyway. I should get back to it. If I can just– oh, great. Not again.

 

ELLIOTT: (in Engineering) Starry!

STARWALKER: Yes, Elliott?

ELLIOTT: Where the fuck is that drone?

SW: Which one?

ELLIOTT: I dunno– Waldo! The multi-purpose one that keeps fucking off every time I turn around. (He holds a hand out just above his waist.) Y’know, this high, four hands, never around when I need him?

SW: (sounding like she’s smiling) He’s on his way.

ELLIOTT: Good!

DRONE: (enters Engineering.)

ELLIOTT: About time! Come on.

DRONE: (holds up one hand for a pause and goes to pick up a welding laser. He twists and makes a few quick gestures over his side, then puts the laser down. He turns to show Elliott that he is now labelled ‘Waldo’.)

ELLIOTT: Uh… projector parts. (He points to a pile of debris.) Need sorting.

WALDO: (salutes, then trundles over to the pile, four hands flexing.)

 

Well. So I guess Starry was serious about me naming them. Better watch my mouth, or they’ll be wandering around with swear-words lasered onto them. Not that that wouldn’t be hilarious – I can just imagine the captain’s face – but they’d keep turning up whenever I hit myself with a hammer. Doesn’t mean I can’t have fun with it, though.

Waldo’s finding me stuff to work with, so I should go do that. Later, log.

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3 Responses to “Unmade”

  1. Wysteria Says:

    Where’s Waldo gave me the giggles.

  2. Melanie Says:

    When my people speak, I listen! đŸ˜€

    http://www.melanieedmonds.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=8

  3. capriox bovidae Says:

    Yay Waldo!