Day 45. 113 pages, 51,209 words.
Predericon rose from the interface, letting it deactivate and plunge the chamber into near-total darkness. The emergency filaments provided the bare minimum illumination required for the Molran eye to differentiate shapes. Further light filtered through the windows from outside – but that was a fairly pitiful offering, and only available in external-adjacent, non-buried areas. The main computer and comms room was neither.
She paced the length of the room, which tilted quite steeply due to a combination of gravity plate misalignment and the simple fact that they’d come down almost face-first in the ice. The damaged plates did the best they could, but still didn’t quite manage to pull off ‘horizontal’. The moon, which they’d dubbed ‘Lelhmak’s Moon’, had very little gravity. They were fortunate the plating hadn’t given up entirely, because at least that left them with something to push against.
Predericon climbed to the ‘top’ of the chamber and slid-walked down, then turned and climbed to the top again again, before descending to the doorway and swinging into the equally slanted corridor. At this stage she was completely accustomed to the tilt.
Seven hundred and seventeen days.
They’d decided to continue using the Firstmade calendar as much as possible, despite the fact that the new system of worlds in which they found themselves had no such respect for consistency. Lelhmak’s Moon went around its parental gas giant once every three and a half days, and since it didn’t appear to spin very much at all their view of the big infuriating thing didn’t really change in that time. They’d toyed around with a local calendar, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. As Gyden herself had said, if they were still here when local time became the accepted standard, things would have gone terribly wrong.
Predericon vaulted easily through the ship, up past the kitchen, along the viewing deck with its depressing and disorientingly-tilted view of the barren moonscape. Then she rounded the engine block and descended again, into the area of deeper darkness surrounding the sleep chamber and equipment storage rooms. Old Man Lelhmak – Kedane – didn’t need lights.
In adherence to her routine, Predericon checked the equipment – now stowed pending a resumption of their project – and the materials containers. She confirmed that they were all intact, none were missing, and the damaged gear was still safely packed and awaiting repair and replacement that might be a long time in coming. She slipped into the narrow gap at the foresection of the room and slid down to the very base. The plates were even more out of whack here, pulling almost parallel to the moon’s surface with an irregular throbbing that made her ears ache.
Gritting her teeth, she checked the buckled sections of reinforced hull. The corridor and observation chamber forward of the storage bays had been destroyed in the emergency landing – or, to be more accurate, crash. They’d acted quickly to shore up the damaged sections and maintain structural integrity, but it was far from an expert job. Predericon and Gyden were researchers, not mechanics.
She climbed back up out of the compartment and walk-slid around and down into the sleeper bay. She checked the chamber’s diagnostics and found everything unchanged since her last check. Of course it was.
Then – because she was slightly more sentimental than the next person, and considerably more sentimental than the next person provided you counted sleeper patients as people – she wiped off the inspection screen and looked down at the weathered grey face of the elderly phobe inside.
Elderly – no. Kedane Lelhmak was the most ancient Molran Predericon knew.
“Don’t put down roots, old timer,” she murmured. “I don’t think Gyden’s going to let you sleep this one out.”
– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while gabba gobba hey.