Fallen Angel, Part 8

Day 51. 121 pages, 54,810 words.


 

Day 722 (Centre / Mind standard). Reactor at 98% efficiency. Batteries at 100% and stable. Recycling systems condition green (sustainable). Air supply condition green (sustainable). Sleep chamber effective durability at 36%. Estimated depletion of raw materials for nutrient fabricator 492,000 days.

Gyden returned from her latest excursion with the body of an unidentified life-form (statistics, images and current hypotheses attached). We have deemed it too great a risk to bring into base despite its apparent sterility. Study of the body is yet to determine whether it is dead, dormant, or inanimate. Research ongoing and samples to be collected. The body has not reacted to being moved, or proximity to the ship, in the past 48 hours.

Gyden has recommended that we move the body to a safe location some distance from base and attempt a controlled thawing. I concur, even though the construction and implementation of a remote facility will cost us some battery life.

I have recommended that we wake Old Man Lelhmak in case he is able to make a determination as to the origin of the body. Gyden has naturally concurred.

No further communications received. Investigation of unknown life-form ongoing. Investigation of possible planetary bodies deeper in-system on hold pending ship repair and sensor overhaul. Ship repair and sensor overhaul on hold pending location of suitable raw materials. Drill project for water collection is on hold due to recent developments.

Researcher Predericon Ti Akmet, Lelhmak’s Moon.

Log ends.

Predericon shut down the interface and climbed across and out of the room, up and around and down into the sleeper chamber. Gyden was already waiting by the device.

“Ready to initiate revival process,” Gyden said formally. Predericon nodded her agreement, and Gyden tapped a few controls. “Reviving.”

It was always an interesting experience watching Old Man Lelhmak wake up. The ancient Molran scholar’s face flicked through a range of expressions and reactions in very rapid succession, always in the same order. First he looked charmingly lost and vulnerable. Then his eyes sought out Gyden, and his expression softened in relief when he found her. Then, just as quickly, he shifted to his standard demeanour.

“What is it this time?” he grumbled. “Forgot how the condensers work?”

Gyden had already donned a glove of sterile manipulator film, and reached out to help the grey-skinned phobe out of the sleeper. She passed him a cleanser with her lower left hand. Lelhmak grimaced, baring his yellowing old incisors to the gum, and began to rub himself down briskly.

Predericon picked up the one-piece they’d set in place for him the last time he’d gone under, and Lelhmak snatched it from her with his upper right hand.

“Introductions?” she asked pointedly. Lelhmak scowled at her and – equally pointedly – gave the garment a scrubbing, focussing on the fold by which she’d been holding it.

“Kedane Lelhmak, research overseer,” he said, and waved at Gyden with his lower left hand. “Gyden Lazeen, researcher,” he nodded in Predericon’s direction. “Predericon Ti Akmet, researcher. Speed’s Virtues (Curiosity) research vessel. Manatrikti Academy of Firstmade and Elder Theology and Megaengineering, Third Echelon. Cursèd outer envelope, Void Dimension. Bartiqa’s Founding Principle is the conservation of observable reality. Podnak’s number is 3,223,347 by 11,776.2 by 19 by 10 by 10. Müllick’s-”

“Alright,” Predericon said, and Lelhmak favoured her with another scowl. “Successful revival acknowledged.”

“Seconded,” Gyden added. “You’re still all there.”

“Where else would I be?” Lelhmak muttered, although as usual he was unable to put the same crotchety flair into his voice when he addressed Gyden. It wasn’t particularly professional or academically sound, but Old Man Lelhmak’s appointment as overseer was a courtesy that all three of them silently accepted. He pulled his one-piece on and leaned down to retrieve his filters and sheaths from the storage cabinet at the side of the sleeper unit. “I assume we’re still crashed on Predericon’s fabulous materialising ballworld?” he asked, hands moving in a deft blur as he slipped the sleek little pieces of technology into pockets and nestled them against ears, nose, jaw, wrists.

“We’ve named it Lelhmak’s Moon,” Predericon said, and stepped back to give the phobe space to exit the chamber. He finished fastening his clothing and did so, as straight and brisk as ever. “You’re welcome.”

“If I’m remembered as the man named after a piece of floating debris that his idiot research team mistook for a moon…” Lelhmak growled. This was, of course, Old Man Lelhmak’s version of good-natured ribbing. He was perfectly aware of their situation and its connected anomalous readings, having familiarised himself with them on his previous revival. That, Predericon was mildly surprised to note, had been over a year ago. And had only been for a matter of hours.

“We’re orbiting a gas giant that might be more your speed,” she suggested.

“We could call it Lelhmak’s Ego,” Gyden added.

“Mm hm,” Lelhmak said, which was his usual reaction to having amusement thrust upon him. “Last time you woke me up, Castle Void was missing and the sensors were telling you we were in the middle of a stellar cluster nowhere near the Four Realms or Cursèd’s Playground?”

“Still the case,” Gyden confirmed, as the two researchers followed Lelhmak up through the ship.

“Not exactly the middle,” Predericon put in, “but a solar system apparently inside-”

“And you haven’t fixed the gravity plates yet?”

“Maybe you can show us how to do that using nothing but ice and charm,” Gyden replied.

“We may need to substitute charm for more ice,” Predericon commented, “but the good news is we have plenty of ice.”

“Mm hm,” Lelhmak swung into the kitchen and jabbed at the processor with a sheathed finger. “Did you fix the processor at least?”

“The processor wasn’t broken,” Predericon replied patiently. “It just wouldn’t print that ghastly slurry you call food. We programmed in a whole bunch of pellets from your book of standards and guidelines.”

Pellets,” Lelhmak grumbled, and jabbed at the processor again, vindictively. A small dispenser tube of concentrated nutrient capsules that Predericon didn’t think could be described as anything but ‘pellets’ emerged with a soft grinding noise and a click. “You haven’t fixed that resequencer glitch,” he concluded triumphantly.

“It only makes that noise when you use the machine,” Gyden protested.

“Probably too afraid to make a noise when you two use it,” Lelhmak retorted. “Worried you might try to repair it,” he upended the tube and let three pellets drop into his mouth. “Alright,” he said, his words slurred by chewing. “What have you got?”

 


– Posted from my Huawei mobile phone while sitting in the carpark.

This entry was posted in Astro Tramp 400, IACM, Oræl Rides To War, The Book of Pinian and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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