Flash: New Leaf

From Article : A Graduate Student Created First Man-Made Biological Leaf Which Can Produce Oxygen Just Like a Plant

“Captain wants to know when you’ll be up and running again.” Computer processors judged the XO’s projection within the SoftSuit to how far his voice would carry if the room actually held air and aimed the broadcast accordingly while he ducked another dozen hanging wires and stepped over debris littering the floor to get close enough to carry on a conversation with the department’s senior surviving lieutenant. Whichever of the HardSuits around contained that person.

Normally he would have addressed the lieutenant by name and the software would have closed off a direct communication channel. Normally Cheshire would have known who was in charge as the organizational chart resorted instantly from incoming status reports. Hell, normally the captain would have use her direct link with the ship’s net to know the exact status of everything happening on the colony ship.

But things were far from normal after the Wittzerk attack. And since the captain was integrated with the ship for the trip’s duration, submerged in a gel-bath as the living part of the combination living and artificial intelligence directing the ship through real-time and folded space, one of the elite humans capable to the feat, he was crawling through the guts of the ship on her behalf using a jury-rigged radio to send reports up to the bridge, at least until wires could be reconnected by the scrambling techs, getting his uniform dirty for the first time in decades.

It was exhilarating. He had forgotten what line work was like.

Not something he wanted to do all the time, but acting a TrNaval officer instead of a glorified cruise director for a bunch of sleepers brushed off the spider webs.

The green and yellow HardSuits of Environment and ShipMain swarmed around him as he reached cleared floorspace, but no one stopped. After enjoying the artificial gravity steadiness for a moment, Liquid lost power twice while he was there and he nearly lost his lunch, he barked into his microphone, “Senior, report!”

Two people jumped, one deep green and one eye-searing glow-in-the-dark-of-space yellow, as software directed a more precise message than the previous general broadcast. Cheshire steps ate up the distance between him and the green one, while Hinson’s voice filled his ears. “Primary Gravity functional for the deck one-beta grid, additional maintenance will be required to meet spec, secondary gravity online to spec, trieary gravity … yeah Robert, we stealing parts from that to get prime and second going and until manufacturing is working again ain’t nothing going to get that stuff to work. Three nodes were complete losses. Water will be online in ten more minutes, probably and air pressure in sixteen hours. Too many holes. Stupid frigging shotgun weapon.”

“Thank you ShipMain. Continue, priority on this grid AirProduction and embroyo status tubes.” Hinson was the second best ship maintenance worker so Cheshire let the use of his first name slide. Most of the time they used first names around the colonists awake for transition training; no surprise a good portion of his staff couldn’t switch back to military protocol.

(words 511, first published 7/21/2019)