Thursday, 19 January 2017

Icarus (part 3)

It was warm. Po, who was a Zoradian and so treated Edeners with the good humoured ridicule that they deserved, had heard stories of the long extinct Earthfolk. They'd believed that computers didn't like being warm, so they designed entire cooling systems for the single purpose of cooling down the technical components. Since then, relatively heat retardant materials like Pardium had been discovered and so components- which were fewer in number due to advancements in virtual computing- were built from those. Now, there was no need for a cooling system. The computers didn't mind the heat, only humanoids did, and what humanoid would be stupid enough to crawl through a closed up computer bank when it was on?
Po sighed. This furry little humanoid would be, and she was dragging a droid with her as she did.
The Zoradians of Zorada were a mostly subterranean species with eyes adjusted to darkness and fur evolved to the cold that resulted from heat permeating out of their caves. The computer bank was quite dark, besides the occasional twinkle of orange warning lights, but Po's eyes had grown use to light so they didn't mind it. The heat, on the other hand...
She'd only got a few metres away from the hatch by the time her fur was thickly matted with sweat, her entire body craving hydration. Her eye brows, the pride of her body due to their volume, worked wonders but not miracles, the occasional droplet splashing through. Some of this sweat hit her eyes and stung, momentarily blinding her and blurring the partitions between the lights and the computers. Some of this sweat hit the floor and sizzled.
Po crawled on. Whizzer was on the floor in front of her, rolling along the smooth material of the technician's duct quite happily. It wasn't meant for in flight access, that she knew. On docking, the ship would be deconstructed by robots, each section carried off by conveyors to the department that dealt with it. The computer section would be carried to its relevant technicians and then a stent of sorts would be inserted that expanded the room, making the duct easier to access. It wouldn't get any bigger, most astrotechs were quite small as a result, but unnecessary blockages would be removed. Unnecessary blockages like the one coming up in front of her.
It was a bar of metal. On expansion, it would probably slide up, through the open gap in the duct's caged covering above, and support the roof. Unfortunately, at this current time, it horizontally intersected Po's path. Not even Whizzer could have got past it on his own. Sighing, she hauled herself up as far as she could and pulled the multitool attachment out of Whizzer's rear end. It was heavier than Avksenity made it look but she managed to carry it over towards the obstruction. "Give me a power saw."
Whizzer beeped at her and then a small disk on the top of the multitool began to revolve rapidly. As it got up to speed, she pressed the disk into the obstruction. A shower of sparks resulted, singing her fur and dissipating as they hit the cage surrounding her. The tool began to move through the metal, breaking it down, but the material was thick and it was going to take a while. A pair of second lids dropped over Po's eyeballs, transparent but resistant to the flinging sparks.
With a crunch, the tool broke through the other side of the bar. She quickly removed it and turned to the other side. The rubbery exterior of her spacesuit, pressed against the metal floor, was becoming softer and softer. She cursed and willed the tool to rotate faster.
It felt like an eternity passed before she managed to cut through the metal. The obstruction fell and she pushed it up the duct, rolling Whizzer after it and then crawling on.
From the way the duct was getting hotter, she assumed she was getting closer. She strained her eyes as much as they'd manage and saw, not very far ahead, the machine she was looking for. The Primary Interface. It'd take a few seconds of hot wiring and then she'd be able to take control of the ship from it. Maybe get some answers, maybe find some new questions. Definitely save them. She pushed Whizzer on, ready to reach it.
There was a metal plate over the front of it. It only took a few minutes of sawing from Whizzer and then it had fallen away, allowing her access to the interior workings. She retracted the buzz saw and pulled out the omniport, sliding one of the attachments into smallest attachment on the server. Three patches lit up on Whizzer's brow, signifying it was online. "You hear me, boy? There's a screen just here." Po prodded it twice with one very furry finger. "Try turning it on will you?"
There was a heavy whirring from Whizzer for a few seconds and then silence from the droid. The screen didn't light up. Po frowned and then listened to the series of beeps Whizzer gave off. "Oh." She whispered, reaching over to the exposed cables in front of her. They required a quick rearrangement and then the screen lit up. Giving it a quick poke revealed it wasn't touch screen. She groaned. "How old fashioned?"
Whizzer beeped again and she told him to open up the ship specs. It read simply that the ship was an Automated Carrier, programmed to fly from one destination to another, in this case from Kael to the other end of the Lorem System. She ran a diagnostics scan. It took a few seconds, the background thrum of computers growing stronger momentarily, and then a report flashed up on screen. There'd been some form of EM damage. "What kind of damage, Whizzer?"
The droid beeped and a new window opened on screen, reporting that the Electromagnetic Inteference had scrambled the TTC drive. Beneath her wonderful eyebrows, Po's eyes rolled. The TTC was the Turing Tournament Champion, a computer program that had been programmed to such an extent that it could fool an Edener into thinking it was alive. Such programs were then connected to ships, either assisting their pilots or replacing them. In this case, the TTC had replaced the pilot and now the TTC had been killed, Which meant they were flying into a sun without a pilot.
"PO!" Someone shouted from downstairs. She thought from the hoarseness of the voice it might have been Avksenity but she didn't get a chance to properly think about it. Something hit the ship, shoving her into the cage to her side. Whizzer's omniport snapped, dislodged by some dislodged metal collapsing from the ceiling. The droid fell away and rolled, helplessly on the floor. Its sensors studied Po and realised she was unconscious, blood beginning to soak out of a wound in her forehead.
The ship continued, drawn towards the sun.

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