Mining Ship: Tinto
October 19th, 2123
Jupiter L4 Trojan Asteroids
A great author once wrote ‘Space
is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I
mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's
just peanuts to space.’
He certainly wasn’t wrong. I
remember first reading his books when I was at school, one of the great writers
of the twentieth century. If only he could have known–or maybe he did know–how
empty and cold space really is, as well as being mind-bogglingly big.
It’s times like this, when I’m
sitting out here, waiting, that I ponder how small and insignificant my collection
of molecules are in our vast universe. Also, having read the Hitchhikers Guide
to the Galaxy again recently, makes me appreciate how fun it is out there in
space, flying spaceships and hopping from outpost to outpost, it’s everything
Arthur Dent didn’t want to do.
My name is Wren, and I’m the
captain of the Tinto, a four-person mining ship currently hanging out in the Trojan
asteroids at Jupiter’s L4 point. The Tinto has been in service for
about four years now, three of them under my command, she’s my home. I fought
tooth and nail to get her assigned to me, and she’s never let me down. She’s
not as shiny as the day she was built but looks ain’t
My crew have stepped out for a
while, surveying the hunk of rock we’ve been assigned to take apart and return
to the Martian colony for processing. Early survey indications point to a
sizable quantity of titanium, tungsten and osmium. The osmium is the payday
It was my turn to stay behind and
keep an eye on the ship’s systems today, which is fine by me. The new EVA suits
the company dropped off at our last resupply stop chafe in all the wrong
places, but I’ve got a plan in the works to get our old ones back. The problem
is making sure the company doesn’t find out, and that’s where my crew come in.
This expedition is our twentieth
as a unit, so by now, we’re operating like a well-oiled machine.
Cap! You still awake in there?’ came a voice over the comms.
That would be our lead engineer,
Cisco. He’s a smug little bastard, but one of the smartest guys I know. He’s
the one who’s going to reprogram our old EVA suits so that the company doesn’t
know we’re not using their latest and greatest ones. It’s something to do with
insurance or health and safety, but we don’t get paid extra for losing skin.
It’s also best that Cisco’s out there in a suit than in here right now. We had
curry for dinner last night, and we all know intimately what that does to his
‘Cisco. Alive and well, thank you.
How’s the flatulence?’
A well-oiled machine that knows
each other far too well!
‘Smells like a Martian curry house
in here, Cap.’
‘Give it a rest you two,’ said
Jessica, my metallurgist. I’ll just go out of my way and say it now, my crew
are all clever shits, and I wouldn’t run these trips without any of them. We’re
all loners, no one to speak of back home, wherever home happens to be. I’m from
Earth, but Jessica and Cisco are Martian.
That just leaves Ortis, my
demolition and mining expert. He’s from a colony on Titan, and we found each
other entirely by accident on one of my early trips out in the Tinto. I went
out to Titan on a shakedown cruise, and the bugger picked my pocket not five
minutes after docking for supplies. Unfortunately for him, I was wise to the
antics of the colonists, and he ended up flat on his back, more than slightly
winded. I was too tired to take offence, so he bought me a drink to apologise,
which I later decided to be another ploy to rip me off.
I was right about that, but
when he heard that I was heading for a shakedown cruise to the Jupiter Trojans,
he changed his attitude pretty quick. Ortis had wanted to get off Titan for a
long time, and he saw me as his ticket out of there. He also saved me from an
ass-kicking in the bar, so I owed him. I was also a crew member short at that
point, intending to find someone with his expertise on my return leg, but I
gave him a trial run and never looked back.
‘Hey, Jess, how’s our rock
looking. Got your samples yet?’
If she had responded, I didn’t
hear it as a sudden explosion against the hull made my ears ring and rattled my
‘Hull impact!’ I shouted down the
comms, as I jumped out of my chair to check the engineer’s panel behind me,
which was lit up like a Christmas tree. I stabbed at the console to turn off the
alarms. No breaches were being indicated, but there had been an impact of some
Then I heard it. The maniacal
laugh of Ortis over the radio.
‘What the hell did you do, Ortis?’
‘Just a firecracker, Captain.
Didn’t even dent the hull plating.’
What an asshole.
‘Do that again, and I’ll
personally drop your ass on Titan as we fly by, without stopping!’
‘Aye, Captain,’ he said. I could
hear the satisfaction in his voice of a job well done. Being out here for as
long as we have, shit like this happens from time to time. The key, I’ve
discovered is to let the little things slide, but keep them handy for payback
When my heart had stopped
pounding, I shook my head and had a little chuckle. Not over the radio, of
course, I can milk this for a few days at least.
The crew and I are taking a break from
prospecting, giving the analysers time to work the samples we collected. Ortis
has hit his bunk and will probably be there for a few hours yet. He’s happiest
when outside the ship in microgravity. Having spent most of his life on Titan,
he’s been used to a much lower gravity than the rest of us, about fourteen per cent
of Earth gravity. Being aboard takes it out of him, so we reduced the ship’s
gravity to about that of Mars, as a compromise for everyone, but it’s still
hard for him. He’s a tough bugger though, never complains about it.
Jess was hovering over the sample
analyser, scanning through the data as it appeared on the screens. So far, the preliminary
analysis looked promising, we might get the haul that we wanted after all. I’m
happy to wait for the complete report, but Jess is dedicated to her profession
and babysits her samples until they’re baked.
The rock we’re attached to is just
sitting out there, minus the few chunks that were brought inside earlier. The ship
computer estimates the longest axis to be about ten kilometres, so it’s only a
baby when compared to some of the monsters floating at other places in the
Lagrange point. We’re not the only ship out here, but like that writer said,
‘Space is big’, so we’re unlikely to ever bump into them.
Our forward searchlights
illuminate the tethers that were shot into the asteroid when we arrived,
stopping us from drifting away. The rock is just a dull metallic grey, a
motionless mass outside the cockpit window. It reflected some of our light back
at us, giving the inside of the bridge a moody grey feel.
If the analysis shows enough
concentration of osmium, then we’ll spend the next few weeks blasting chunks of
rock out of the asteroid and packing it into the unpressurised cargo bay. The
design for this ship, which also happens to be the namesake of our company, the
Yutani-Tinto Mining Corporation, lets us cram about a
thousand cubic meters of stuff in the hold, which is a hell of a lot of rock!
With that much mass onboard we’re still reasonably manoeuvrable if we stay out
of an atmosphere.
The engines we’re sporting are the
first of a new generation with an anti-matter core, which is a thing of wonder.
Cisco is really the only one who understands how it works, and he claims he can
feel what the drive wants and knows how to service it. Personally, I think
that’s horseshit, but he does keep us running, and that’s what counts when
we’re all the way out here. My previous ship had the older generation fusion drive,
which was much slower and always broke down when you least needed it to. In
three years, we’ve had zero problems with this new system. It rocks!
Jess broke my daydream, putting
her hand on my shoulder and passing me her tablet with the analysis result.
‘Seriously?’ I couldn’t help
saying, smiling as I scrolled through the numbers.
‘Oh yeah, we’re gonna fill the
hold and then some, boss,’ she said.
The numbers did look fantastic,
and we’d have to stake an official claim on the rock when we get back to Mars.
A good proportion of our hull is made from osmium, which protects us from
radiation in deep space, so I have an appreciation for the stuff.
That’s where my thoughts were entirely
derailed as I felt Jess nuzzle my ear and whisper that she was tired and going
to her quarters. I know, I know, a Captain shouldn’t fraternise with the crew
under their command, but hey, this isn’t the military. Company policy is pretty
clear on the matter too, but what they don’t know won’t hurt us. We’ve managed
to keep this a secret for months now, but sooner or later Ortis and Cisco are
going to notice, and well, we’ll just have to deal with that when it happens.
Right now, I’m off to bed–not
Shit, why’s Cisco banging on my
door now. Wait, it’s not my door!
‘What?’ I shouted back, as Jess
panicked and started getting dressed.
‘The core, it’s shut down!’
So? It’s in maintenance mode, it’s
supposed to be shut down. I said as much through the door as I put my flight
suit back on and Jess hid behind the door; kind of pointless on hindsight.
I opened the door to see Cisco
looking sweaty and pale. Whatever he meant by shut down, wasn’t what I thought
‘It’s not in maintenance mode,
it’s completely shut down, dead, no output at all.’
‘That can’t be right. They don’t just go
offline. You sure–‘
‘’course I’m sure! Come see for
yourself if you don’t believe me!’
I nodded and grabbed my boots as Cisco
turned and ran off towards the drive room.
Well, looks like our secret isn’t
all that secret after all.
All four of us stood looking at
the anti-matter core. Where we would typically hear the hum of the core and see
the multiple displays animated and active, all we saw was a large, lifeless
hunk of equipment, nothing more. The core didn’t just move us from place to
place in space, it also provided all our power, life support, the lot. Oh, and
the anti-gravity systems, which just went offline. That draws power through a
buffer so that any interruptions in power don’t send us floating into each
other at an inconvenient moment. Our boots automatically engaged their magnetic
anchors when they detected the lack of gravity, so at least we could walk
around if a little clunkily.
The anti-matter core itself has a
projected runtime of a couple of years without refuelling, and I know we’re
topped up with gas before we left Mars.
Cisco went over to a console,
reset some breakers, flipped some switches and pulled some panels off to gain
access to the wiring. Pulling out my tablet, I could see that we were running
on reserve batteries for life support and guessed that might last us a week. I
ordered Ortis to turn off everything that didn’t need to be on, anything that the
system hadn’t automatically shut down. He was already one step ahead of me on
I sent Jess to the bridge to
broadcast a distress signal and find out if there are any other ships in the
area. On reflection, the search for other ships would probably be a dead-end if
the navigation system was offline already.
‘Do what you can, Cisco,’ I said,
feeling the drop in temperature as life support was reduced to minimum levels.
He gave me the middle finger and
was already buried neck-deep in cables and sub-panels, I just needed to get out
of his way and let him do what he does best.
‘I’ve launched the emergency
beacon, Wren, but the nav system doesn’t show any other ships in the L4
or nearby. We’re on our own.’
Jess looked ashen, the thought of
being stranded out here had clearly shaken her. Time to act all captainy.
‘Jess, go to the engine room and
assist Cisco with whatever he needs,’ I said softly, but firmly.
She looked at me and nodded. We
all needed to be busy, not dwelling on what might be.
‘What are you gonna do?’
What was I going to do? ‘Keep us
alive as long as possible, until that core is back online.’
Jess kissed me as she walked past
and said, ‘Thanks,’ which made me smile.
Without the anti-matter core, we
had no long-range communications. The beacon Jess had launched could only send
a lower power radio signal, so it could be several hours before we got a
response. This would only be good for a week anyway, so we would have to hope
someone tries to check in from the company and comes looking for us before then.
Heck, to get a response from Ceres
station from here using the primary radio system would take about an hour, and
that’s if the signal isn’t blocked by all the asteroids floating around out
there. I didn’t have a way to know how far the beacon had reached, it might not
yet be in the clear.
Time to start doing the math on
what’s left in the life support systems and see how long we can last before
another ship gets here to rescue us. Turns out my initial guess was way off,
and we were looking at about thirty-eight hours of life support for four crew.
Food and water weren’t an issue, but the recycling services were offline, so we
would be bagging our waste until main power was back. Food pouches would have
to be eaten cold as well, to add insult to injury.
I briefed the crew on our
situation, and Cisco still hadn’t come up with a way to restart the core. It
was possible to restart them–I have been reliably informed–but they usually
would be dealt with in space dock, not floating in the middle of an asteroid
field. Feeling like a spare part and not helping, I went back to the bridge and
looked out into space.
‘What the fu–‘
I ran to the bridge airlock and
shouted down the corridor to the rest of the crew to get to the bridge immediately.
‘What’s going on, Cap?’ said
Ortis, stepping onto the bridge drinking a juice packet.
‘Take a look outside and tell me
what you see,’ I said.
Ortis shrugged and walked over to
the starboard window and looked out.
‘Where are the stars?’ he said
‘Exactly, where is everything.’
Even though space is vast, there are still lots of stars that the human eye can
see without assistance. And right now, that’s two crew members who couldn’t see
any of them. Jess came over next to me and saw the same thing, nothing but
blackness. The blackest blackness any of us had ever seen.
A thought struck me, and I grabbed
one of the emergency torches from under the central console. I shone it on full
power through the forward window and saw nothing except the tethers that were
previously attached to our asteroid, floating in space before us.
‘There’s nothing out there–at
all,’ said Jess, looking confused.
She was right, there was nothing
there. No asteroids, no stars, not even bits of debris from mining our samples floating
around out there.
‘Captain!’ called Cisco as he came
running onto the bridge. ‘I know why the core is dead, or at least I have a
Jess, Ortis and I looked at him
‘Well spit it out then!’ I had to
say, impatience winning out.
‘The anti-matter core has
collapsed, completely. It’s ceased to be there. It looks just like the engine
did before it first came online in the shipyard.’
I looked at Jess and then back to
Cisco. ‘Okay, that’s not a why. Why has it collapsed?’
Cisco hurried over to one of the
consoles and yanked a panel from underneath. His hands were a blur as he
disconnected a set of cables and reconnected them to another system.
‘I’ve redirected power from life
support to the propulsion subsystem logs, and–‘
‘You’ve what?’ screamed Ortis who
ran over and picked Cisco up by the collar of his flight suit. Even though
Ortis typically struggled in the higher gravity on the ship, his sheer bulk and
muscles made up for it. Without gravity, and the hindrance of magnetic boots,
however, he failed to lift Cisco even a millimetre off the deck.
‘Ortis, stand down!’ I ordered. He
hesitated but let go of Cisco’s flight suit after a moment of contemplation.
I prompted Cisco to continue.
‘The only way I can think of that
the core could collapse and cease to be is if all the fuel it contained was
used up in some way.’
‘Meaning?’ Jess said.
‘Meaning, the drive did something
monumental before going dark.’
The console in front of Cisco came
to life, and the logs for the propulsion system appeared on the screen. He
searched for the last recorded event, and there it was. A jump so massive, the
computer couldn’t register the speed, distance or energy consumed and just
recorded an overflow for each metric.
‘We went somewhere, and we didn’t
even feel it,’ said Cisco, reconnecting the power back to the life support
systems, which shut the console down again.
I didn’t know the drive could do
that, and it looked like Cisco didn’t know that either.
‘So, where the hell are
we?’ Ortis demanded.
Suddenly feeling like I needed to
captain again, I sat in my captain’s chair and pulled the dead console around
in front of me. I placed my tablet on top and checked on our life support
status. Fortunately, Cisco’s little stunt had only cost us a minute or two of
time. Which got me thinking.
‘Cisco, can you connect the
proximity radar to the life support power, like you did for the drive logs?’
‘Now you want to kill us as
well?’ Ortis said.
‘Enough!’ I shouted, probably a
little too loudly, but they needed their captain right now. ‘Ortis, unless we
find out where the hell we are, we’re dead. If finding out where we are, costs
us a few minutes of life support, I think that’s worth it. Anyone disagree?’
Not surprisingly, Ortis put his
hand up, but Jess and Cisco agreed with me, so I asked Cisco again.
‘Sure, it’s just a subsystem power
conduit that I need to reroute–’ he said, heading off on a technical answer we
didn’t have time for.
I motioned for him to get on with
it as Ortis sat himself down in one of the couches and sulked, sucking down
another of his favourite juice packets. Once we had answers, I was hoping they
would placate him. If we didn’t get answers, we’d be dead soon enough, so it
wouldn’t really matter all that much whether he was pissed with me or not.
The console came to life and
finished booting within a few seconds. I activated all the perimeter radar
nodes and sent out a single ping. I didn’t want to use more energy than
Everyone huddled around the
console screen and watched as the circles that represented the radar pulses
spread out from the image representing the Tinto. They kept going and then
disappeared from the screen.
Ten seconds had passed, which was
just over a seven hundred thousand kilometres, and no echoes were detected.
‘Was that full power?’ Cisco
asked, looked crestfallen.
It was. One pulse at full power
from ten nodes.
We waited for a full minute, but
not even the faintest echo came back.
‘Disconnect the console,’ I said,
getting up from the chair.
I knew that would have used up a
decent portion of our reserve power, and a quick glance at my tablet told me
how much. A full hour of life support, gone in a fraction of a second.
‘Can we still use the manoeuvring
thrusters?’ Jess said.
‘And go where?’ I asked, maybe a
little too abruptly.
She looked mad at me for asking
the question, but I deferred the matter to Cisco, who would know what we could
and couldn’t use in our current state.
‘Sure. They can be manually
activated if you wanted to run them dry. Wouldn’t need any power to maintain
them once they start burning. Why?’
I was as curious as Cisco.
‘Well, I assumed, maybe we all
did, that we’re sitting still? Speed is relative right, so if we add some,
maybe we’ll be able to see something move out there that we can’t see at our
It was a good idea, and it wouldn’t
cost us anything except hydrazine, which won’t do us any good soon anyway.
‘Go for it,’ I said.
Within a few minutes, Cisco and
Jess were standing by on the manual release valves for the monopropellant
thrusters. I gave them the nod, and we felt the kick from the increase in
thrust as they began to burn.
The acceleration levelled off, and
we let the tanks run dry. Ortis was in the bridge looking for anything moving
outside the ship, and we all joined him to add eyes to the exercise. Several
minutes went by, but nothing else did.
‘Well, that sucks,’ said Jess.
My tablet said we had thirty-four hours of
life support left, and I needed to get off the bridge for a while.
Well, I’ll be damned if I’m going
to sit around moping about the end of my life, so Jess and I used up a little
more oxygen than we should have if you get my meaning.
It didn’t really matter that Ortis
and Cisco knew what we were up to now, and I didn’t care. Jess and I were
close, but I don’t know if either of us saw what we had as a future-together
kind of thing or just something we enjoyed doing together on these long
She was lying peacefully with her
head on my shoulder, snuggled up next to me in my bunk, which was never
designed for two people by the way. I thought about waking her to use up some
more oxygen, but my eyes were heavy, and I felt sleep beckoning.
I was just drifting off to sleep
when I opened my eyes a fraction, only to see that my bunk was not there. Nor
was Jess, or the rest of my ship for that matter.
Everything around me was a
blinding white, and not like everything was painted white, it was just like the
void outside the ship, but the inverse colour scheme. After my eyes had adjusted,
the levels of whiteness died down so that it didn’t hurt them anymore.
My feet were touching what I could only assume
was the ground, but I could see no differentiation between the ground and
anything else. There wasn’t anything else. There was also no horizon, which
made me feel a little agoraphobic. I did the only thing I could think of and
closed my eyes again, hoping that this was just a dream and I’d wake up for
real this time.
Lacking anything else to do, I
said ‘Hello’ to the void and got nothing in return. Walking seemed possible, as
there looked to be gravity here, so just started heading in the direction I was
facing. With no reference points to judge movement from, just like outside the
ship, I had the sensation of walking on the spot.
I had to be dreaming, I thought to
myself, unless I’ve died, and this is what comes next? Did our life support systems
give up when I was asleep?
Your colleagues are well and
The voice made me freeze on the
spot, if I’d even moved at all. It had sounded like the voice was inside my
head, which makes me think I must be dreaming, or have gone crazy.
We can assure you that your
sanity has not been compromised, Captain Wren Norris.
‘Oh okay, that’s alright then. So,
who are we then, if you’re not me?’ I was sure I was talking to myself,
so sarcasm abounds.
We are the thing your species
has been searching for since you first left the confines of your planet.
I had to think about that. Did he
No, Captain Wren Norris.
Probably means aliens then, I
thought as a joke.
By your species’ definition, you
are correct, Captain Wren Norris.
I can’t get past the creepiness of
them hearing my thoughts.
Apologies, Captain Wren Norris.
If you prefer, we will respond to your vocal projections instead.
‘Yeah, that probably works better
if I’m honest.’
‘As you wish.’
Tuna fish sandwiches, I thought.
Okay, at least you’re not
listening to my thoughts.
‘So, if you are an alien–whatever,
what am I doing out here having a one on one with you?’
‘There is much to learn from each
other, Captain Wren No–‘
‘Just Captain is fine.’
‘As you wish, Captain. We have
seeded your young minds with technology and information over many of your years,
to prepare your species. There is much about the galaxy that your kind cannot
comprehend at your stage of evolution. Yet, the threats are there none the
‘Wait, what threats? An extinction-level
kind of threats?’
‘We have brought you here to offer
you the thing your species desires most.’
I want to think ‘decent bathroom
facilities in all spaceports’, just to see if they are still reading my
thoughts, but I’m pretty sure they don’t want to offer something this massive
to a cocky little human being.
‘And what is that?’
‘Answers to your questions.’
‘All of them?’
There was a pause, but I took this
as to be him, or them, thinking.
Okay, not the answer to Life, the
Universe and Everything then.
‘And what do you want from me in
‘To understand your species further
and justify our decision to interfere in your development.’
A bit late, I thought, having gifted
us with all our technology already.
‘Agreed but interfering with your
species’ development was not a unanimous decision among my kind.’
‘Hey, you are still reading
‘The exchange will be thus. We will
return your ship and your crew to its previous location in your solar system,
and you will remain with us.’
Now, any human being with a decent-sized
sense of adventure would be jumping at the opportunity to spend time with
beings as powerful as these. I must admit I do have a rather large helping in
this area, but one question struck me as being an obvious one.
‘For how long?’
Again, the pause.
‘Time as you understand it does
not apply here. It will be no time and all of time.’
Clear as mud then. Another question–
‘How do I know you are benevolent
and not some other, powerful, mind-warping alien that just wants to add me to
their museum of antiquities? There was a lot of talk about probing back in the
latter twentieth century. I’m not into probing.’
‘Your humour does intrigue us. It
is something that we lack in our culture. We hope you don’t take offence at our
lack of understanding in this area?’
That’s probably not a bad thing,
my sense of humour has gotten me into more than a little trouble in the past. I
paced around for a moment, scratching my head. At least I may have been pacing
around, I still couldn’t tell. I was definitely scratching my head, though.
‘Okay, so you send my ship and
crew back to where we were before losing the ship’s core, and I stay here
‘And if I don’t, what happens to
The pause was longer this time,
which didn’t fill me with confidence.
‘We don’t believe this eventuality
will come to pass.’
Shit, that’s not an answer, but I
already know the answer.
‘You’d leave us stranded, after
bringing us out to god knows where to die?’
‘We will return you and your crew
to your own space. There will be other ships we can access in time. We are
giving you, Captain Wren Norris, the chance to transcend to a higher dimension,
one that your species may eventually reach, in many millennia.’
‘But we’ll all be dead,’ I said. It
was a statement, not a question. They didn’t offer a reply.
‘What is your decision, Captain?’
There wasn’t really a decision to
make was there. Jess, Ortis and Cisco will be dead, and humanity wouldn’t have
gained a damn thing. Hell, I’d be dead too, and I’m kind of selfish when it
comes to living and breathing. I couldn’t know for sure what their motives
were, but if it meant they’d flush our ship down the pan and go looking
elsewhere, then they needed some education on the value of human lives.
‘One more thing before I agree to
do this. I want to go back to the ship and say goodbye.’
‘You may return to your ship for a
brief period. There is a condition to this.’
Of course, there is, and I bet I
know what it is.
‘Would it have anything to do with
my mind and body? You know, only needing one of them here in this place and not
I took the pause to mean yes,
so it looks like we’re already starting to understand each other. I can go back
and be with them until they are sent back to our solar system. Then I guess
from their perspective, I’m dead, and they can go on with their lives.
What choice did I have? I didn’t
want any of them to die, and I certainly don’t want to die.
‘Wren, you okay?’ Jess said, as I
opened my eyes and saw the familiar surroundings of my crew quarters?
Before I could answer her, all the
ships systems started coming back online. The familiar vibration of the core could
be felt through the ship again as we fell back onto the bed, gravity
‘The core is back?’ she said,
excitedly getting up and putting her clothes on.
‘Captain, you better get to the engine
room. Everything has come back online!’ came Cisco’s voice over the intercom.
‘Come here,’ I said to Jess as I
put my clothes on. I kissed her deeply, remembering her face, her smell, her
taste. I am going to miss this.
Ortis and Cisco were staring at
the core with elation and a decent helping of surprise as Jess, and I walked
in. Everything looked like it did before it shut down, and power levels were
‘It just came back on, Cap. This
wasn’t me!’ Cisco said, sounding disappointed that it wasn’t some miracle he
had worked. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had taken credit for it.
‘Well, whatever you did or didn’t
do, great job Cisco.’
The navigation system was blank,
it showed our position as, well, nowhere. There was no reference data for it to
track us. Cisco and Ortis began checking subsystems, making sure we’d sustained
no damage, which, unsurprisingly we hadn’t.
‘We need to report this to the
Company if we manage to get back,’ Ortis said. ‘It could be a critical issue
that other ships might encounter as well.’
I agreed with him and said that
was a good idea. Although it was unlikely to affect any other ship in the
future, at least while I was floating around in that higher dimension anyway
but didn’t tell him that.
‘So, what now?’ Cisco said,
tapping his tablet, trying to get any kind of data from the ship’s sensors.
‘I don’t know,’ I said honestly.
‘The ship brought us here, what’s your guess?’
Saying ‘goodbye’ seemed wrong
somehow. Although I’d be gone, it didn’t feel like this was the end. I gave Ortis
and Cisco the best-damned high-fives I could muster and told them how glad I
was that they are my crew. It felt a little corny, but a hug and an ‘I’ll miss
you’ wouldn’t have worked here, I’m pretty sure.
I sat down with Jess and put my
arms around her, holding her tight. I really was going to miss all of this, but
the fact that they would be alive was comfort enough.
‘Are we going to be alright?’ Jess
whispered so that only I could hear her.
I put my mouth next to her ear and
whispered back, ‘We’ll all be fine,’ as the anti-matter engines powered up.