Monday, November 27, 2017

Heist

Alex had a fully functional aircraft at his disposal, but no permission to use it. He could very easily have just gone for a flight, as there was no actual flight control in the dyson shell to stop him, but he wasn’t officially very close to the top of the command structure and could probably be removed from the project by people who were. He wanted to be here. Figure out these secrets. So he didn’t risk it.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Disentangle

The day before they left for the dyson shell, Carbon had stolen Alex’s watch.

That interpretation was inaccurate, as he knew she’d taken it and found it cute, but she hadn’t asked beforehand and so in her mind it was closer to theft than keeping a memento. Relationships were still an uncomfortably new experience for her.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Preorder

“Is it weird if I say this feels good?” Alex had finished strapping in to the pilot’s seat, his near-field comms hooked into the onboard computer and running diagnostics as he familiarized himself with the layout of the Corvin’s cockpit and get the screens set up how he preferred. It was all pretty standard, but every manufacturer did some things different.

“Yes. But it is nothing I have not come to expect.” Carbon had returned to her work, fiddling with the link between the fusion core and the starboard maneuvering thruster. Initial diagnostics said it was operating far below expected efficiency, and there was no one more qualified to work on it than her.

He rolled his eyes and slid a finger across the most distant touch enabled instrument, barely pulling at the safety harness to reach it. It was nice to be out of the encounter suit, even if the cold weather gear was bulky. At least he could take a jacket off when he felt like it. “I mean, being back in the pilot seat. Flying again.”

“I understand that. I was teasing you.” She was banging on something, pausing to speak between each series of blows. “It is not weird, unless you take into consideration the conversation we just had, and the way you stopped talking for fifteen minutes before suddenly saying it.”

Alex glanced over at the clock, then over his shoulder at Carbon. “Oh. Yeah, that’s fair.”

“Of course it is, I am always fair.” She was ratcheting away at something for a moment, then closed the hatch. “Run the diagnostic again.”

A quick scan of the controls verified the comm was set to receive only and the door secured. “You’re not always fair.”

Carbon leaned on the back of his chair and rested her chin on his head again, waiting for him to run the work again. “Is it so? When.”

“I can think of several times you weren’t.” He dug into the menus with the physical switches on the control stick, the actions taking him back to when he first learned to fly, and triggered the diagnostic suite. “Repeatedly.”

“Yet you cannot give me a specific instance- Ah. Hah-hah.” She got what he was talking about, and gave him a fake laugh. “You did not complain at the time.”

“I was tired.”

Carbon let that go with a real laugh, and settled her arms on his chest. “I think that means it was equitable, and as such, fair.”

“Then maybe I was mistaken.” They watched the diagnostic bar fill, another quiet moment together in this place where they weren’t supposed to be so close.

“I will not hold it against you.”

“Thank you, it’s very much appreciated.” Alex had almost launched into a dirty joke when someone knocked on the door of the shuttle. The locks turned over with a heavy clunk, and Carbon stood up straight, but still held on to the chair as cold air rolled into the cabin.

It was almost impossible to tell who it was until the goggles came up. Williams pulled her balaclava off, giving them both a nod. “Sorenson. Lan Tshalan. Still working on the ship?”

“I believe the repair is complete.” Carbon spoke up first, “we should know momentarily.”

“Good.” She pulled the latch up and the door chunked closed, the climate control hummed to life a moment later to deal with the inhospitable temperature. The soldier walked up the aisle slowly, watching out the windows towards the camp. “There’s something I’d like you specifically, Lan, to take a look at.”

“Certainly, what is it?” She was curious, but there was a hint of apprehension in her voice.

“I’ve noticed some unusual stuff on the requisition logs. A lot of parts I didn’t order, that I can’t find any record of the Tsla’o requesting. As of yet, I don’t know what we’d use most of this stuff for.” She produced a small tablet from her jacket and held it out. “I understand you’re particularly good with machinery. If you could take a look at it, see if you can determine what it would be used for, if anything.”

“Of course.”

“I appreciate it. I don’t like people altering my requisitions. I’ve had crew sneak things in before, but this is far beyond that. Something about this feels wrong.”

Carbon was silent for a heartbeat, pouring over the list. “This is a very unusual collection of items.”

“It is. Whoever added them went to some length to ensure they were hidden among actual requests, and loaded onto pallets with essential items.”

She was clicking through the tablet, nodding to herself. “If we wanted to, I could use these ultrasound sensors to set up a perimeter. The drones already do the same thing, but redundancy is good. Perhaps a small manufacturing plant?”

“The three axis motorized joints?”

“Yes. We could construct several robotic arms.” She looked up at Williams, “We have nothing to use them with or on, but we could make them.”

“Interesting. A possibility, at least.” The lieutenant did not sound convinced that was a good possibility. “If you could make a list of anything you could build with these, even using a few extra items, that would be helpful. Take your time, several of these parts are currently quarantined, should stay that way for a week at least.”

“I will. Though, for the moment I’m not sure I will be able to find.”

“That’s fine. I just want a few extra eyes on this.” She glanced out of the shuttle again. “Don’t tell anyone we had this conversation, or that I’ve isolated these items. If anyone asks, I was just here to set everyone’s mind at ease about Crenshaw’s behavior. Then let me know who was asking.”

Carbon nodded, “It will be done, Lieutenant.”

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Deep Cut

“Ok, here’s the thing.” Alex leaned on the table in the mess, addressing several of the Human members of the expedition. Mostly Crenshaw. Abbot was there as well, and Lieutenant Williams had even come over for the meeting... But it was about Crenshaw. “This is as simple as I can make it: it’s a slur, not an instruction manual.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Procedure

On board the Sword of the Morning Light, buried somewhere in what could be considered the bowels of the ship, there was a throne room. It was an almost perfect replica of the throne room in the palace: dark gray stone polished to a shine, candles and fireplaces to give off light and heat for even the coldest winter day, ranks of benches to seat two hundred. It was all unnecessary, parked in the middle of a super-carrier, but the late Emperor always had a strong sense of nostalgia, and oversaw its construction personally.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Elbow Grease

“So what are you really going to call it?”

Alex couldn’t help smiling at Abbot. He had insisted he was going to name the shuttle Titanic for nearly a week, and now that it was being shipped across the portal for assembly, the scientist seemed to think Alex would be giving up the joke. “Biggest spacecraft for who knows how far, so the name fits. I can’t help that.”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Work

The storm raged for two more days before it died down, leaving the expedition further behind schedule than anyone had anticipated. Over a meter of snow made even the most simple installation difficult, and the portal’s interpretation of what constituted a weapon - and thus would not be allowed through - included everything the military had to quickly clear snow, save for the lowly shovel.