Tales of Deepspace

A webserial set in a lost sector of space.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

S1E8: Iire

The days passed slowly. Zeke continued to work on repairing the damaged ship, while Mahari passed the time with a small DeepNet communicator he had kept in the cockpit. It had obviously been years since Mahari had last had contact with the rest of Deepspace, and she seemed particularly fixated with news about the ongoing war with the Hourglass Republic.

Zeke's work progressed smoothly. Over the span of several days, he managed to get the damaged engine back online, though not working at full capacity. The shipboard computer was also up and running, although some less critical functions had to be disabled in order to save power. There was one critical flaw, however, that prevented Zeke from announcing that he was ready to go. Somewhere along the line, one of the base shield generators had short-circuited, weakening the shields to the point of near certain destruction upon reentry into any atmosphere.

Bending down, he took a closer look at the damaged mechanism. Upon doing so, he realized the terrible truth: he didn't know what a shield generator should look like, much less how it should work.

He called over to Mahari. "I need that for a second," he said, motioning to the communicator. She sighed, and walked over and handed it to him.

Pressing a few buttons, he conjured up a schematic for the device based off of a serial number inscribed on it: SC-BSG-6423-3725. This he could read. Comparing the schematic to the actual device, he learned that one of the chips designed to maintain the delicate balance of molecules around the ship responsible for the shield's effect had been burned to the point of destruction. He pressed another button, checking the chip against a vendor database. A new screen flashed up, revealing a reasonably-priced and widely available chip.

Zeke handed the communicator back to Mahari. "I've got good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that this thing's base shield generator is fried. We could take off and fly just fine, but entering an atmosphere would turn us into charcoal."

"And the good news?"

"These chips are widely available. I'm thinking I'll send in a call, we'll have my boss send someone down in 10 to 14 days and we'll get this thing repaired." He moved and sat down inside of the cockpit, then began flipping a few switches to activate the ship's communicators.

Mahari interjected, however. "Stop. If you have access to talk to your boss, why didn't you do that in the first place?"

"Not that easy. She doesn't deal well with... uh... problems."

"Regardless. That amount of time is unacceptable. I need to get off this rock as soon as I can."

"Why so anxious?" Mahari remained silent. "Fine fine. Different question. How exactly do you plan on getting us away from here?"

This time, Mahari answered. "The wreck of the ship I came here on lies just over that ridge, in the city," she said, pointing over a close range of hills. "It looks like your ship is just a newer version of the one I came here on. The chips should still be compatible for small crafts."

"Wait, wreck? You mean you weren't just dropped here on a science mission?" Again, Mahari did not answer. After a few awkward moments, Zeke spoke again. "Fine. Take me to this thing."

He climbed down from the ship and began following Mahari, who had already begun walking, gun in hand. The two walked for several hours until reaching a ditch in the ground filled with the twisted metal remnants of what had once been a fighter.

"Dammit, this thing is old," said Zeke, as he began looking over the wreckage. "Seriously, how long did you say you've been down here?"

"I didn't."

Zeke didn't respond. Instead, he climbed up the wreckage towards the roof of the ship, where the chip providing access to the base shield generator was located. He traced the maze of circuitry crossing between the sheets of metal, and then returned back to the bottom of the ship.

"You got any tools here or anything?"

Without speaking, Mahari climbed up to the top of the ship. She opened up a compartment in the cockpit and removed an old toolbox.

"Should have whatever you need."

Zeke opened it up, and quickly began flailing his arms in an attempt to clear off the dust from them. He reached a hand into the box and fished around for three tools: a small soldering iron in order to melt the chip off from the surround circuitry, a solder pump in order to suck away any excess metal, and a screwdriver to force a wedge between the chip and ship in order to separate the two. After working for a few minutes, he managed to pop off the chip, which went flying and landed in the cockpit.

He bent over and leaned down in order to pick it up. As his head neared the ground, he suddenly noticed a very low droning noise in the background. He turned around to face it, and saw that one of the computer screens had randomly flicked on. Although it was showing nothing more than a grey screen with some standard interference patterns, it slowly began to change, until it became a black monitor with green text on it:


There was a flash of light, and Zeke's mind exploded with pain. Everything swayed around sickeningly. Feeling drunk, Zeke stumbled out of the cockpit, vomited, and collapsed on the ground, twitching. He felt nothing then, not even pain.


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