Correspond (II)

It was only supposed to be a day. Two days at the most, then back to the safe, sweet oblivion of coldsleep while the years and the light years slipped away. Two days, and she wouldn’t be the only conscious soul in all this great and awful void, with nothing but the creak and hum of the ship for company. That was what the new nanite interface was supposed to guarantee. Yet here she was, four days in.

Still awake.

Still alone.

Still no closer to a solution, any solution, than the moment she first woke up.

She felt so stupid. Since when had new tech ever worked as well in the field as it did in the lab? There was always another variable, always something no one predicted, always some way for everything to come apart at the seams. She’d just assumed it would still function well enough. Usually, she could find some way to get it that far. Usually, she had help. Usually.

She still didn’t know exactly what had happened. Her first assumption, that the trouble was just a nasty fluke of untested hardware and confined to the nanite systems, hadn’t survived even her first, cursory survey of the ship’s systems. The damage was too widespread.

And it was damage. That was the terrifying part. A software glitch would have been bad enough, with all its attendant troubles and impossibilities. But software could be reset. Worked around. Coaxed and tricked and prodded.

Fried and melted circuits, not so much. If she could get the sensors and the logs back online it might have recorded what had happened. A violent flare from some alien star, perhaps. A band of dark energy. Or just a fault built into the system itself. At the moment, it didn’t matter.

They had backups, of course, and redundancies. You wouldn’t try something like this without them. Not if you hoped to survive the attempt. The trick was just that all the important bits assumed there would be more than one set of hands available to make the replacement.



There were. Or there could be.

She could invoke Emergency Protocol C and bypass the safeties and the new nanotech interface the Twins had gotten, same as her. She could send a Full Wake Signal through their systems. It would just take a few keystrokes. A few command codes entered directly into the coldpods themselves. It should still work. She had checked.

But a Full Wake meant it would be years before they could go back into coldsleep. It wouldn’t be so isolating with more than one of them awake. Not as bad as this. But they only had so much food, so much water. So much air the ship could purify for the fragile humans inside. So, no. She wouldn’t use a Full Wake. Not unless she had to.

(The thought, the fear crossed her mind that the computer had been forced to resort to using the Full Wake to pull her out of coldsleep. But, she reminded herself, that would have showed on the medscan. It had to.)

Not that it was going to be functionally all that different if she couldn’t get her own damn interface to work the way it was supposed to. And if it was a choice between going slowly mad on her own and dragging one or two more souls into this hellish limbo just to make sure the mission didn’t fail right here, right now…

It hadn’t come to that yet.

She still had things to try.

If she could just get their nanite systems to start working the way they were supposed to, both hers and the Twins’, it would be alright. It would all be alright.

That was her first thought. Her first plan. But when the first day and half of the second passed without any kind of progress, she had to abandon it and find another. A tactical retreat. Not defeat. That’s what the Twins would have said.

It wasn’t defeat.