A spaceship, especially one using new technology, is going to have problems, and they just ran into one. Literally.
I have been pleased to stay several days ahead of these releases and in fact I think I am within striking distance of the end. All in all, I think this will be about 4800-5000 words. Unless, of course, I’m told to keep going. I hope not, at least in the short term, as I’ve a few other ideas to share with everyone.
Buckling down in his chair and still unsettled from his co-pilot’s sudden sexual aggression, it took nearly five seconds for him to note the error in the signal from the rear radar array. Tracing the problem down, he ground his teeth together. I do not need this right now.
“Minerva?” he called up again. She dropped and stepped to him.
This data from the rear array. It looks like a speck of dust moving at God’s own speed damaged it, he thought to her, trying to take the sting out of what was coming.
And you want me to go fix it, she replied.
He unbuckled and stood, putting his hands onto her small shoulders.
Do not for a moment think this is some petty punishment for what you just did. You are much better suited than I am for this task.
He watched her brows knit together in confusion. A new look for her.
I did not think that at all. I shall get a repair kit together, she thought, stepping out of his hands and toward the airlock on the floor.
“I’ll reduce our deceleration to one-half G,” he spoke. “That should make movement easier for you.”
“Thank you, Captain.” She stepped into the opening and closed the hatch’s two halves.
In the six weeks before their departure from earth, the major change to Lionheart was the addition of an insanely complex radar array on the fore and aft ends of the baton-like ship. For their first expedition after the Martian journey, they would be travelling more than twenty times as fast and needed to avoid not only rocks the size of a quarter-inch, but anything bigger then space dust. To protect the arrays, the forward when under acceleration for half the voyage and the aft for the half of deceleration, a composite faring was over both.
But if what just damaged the aft was on a vector opposite ours, our closing velocity must have been unpleasant. He set about checking for any signs of a leak in the rear spaces. This involved the release of some nitrogen gas, just enough to get a pressure reading, and waiting to see if it dropped.
Ready for EVA, Minerva said into his mind.
You do have a hardsuit on? Another piece of dust like this could blow you in half.
“Yes, captain, I do,” she now said from the helmet’s microphone. “Even if an artificial person like me doesn’t require one.”
“You are not artificial to me at all, Min,” he said back, coining a nickname on the spot. “You are a pearl beyond price.”
I don’t understand but I think that means you are fond of me, too. Stepping into outer airlock now.
There were enough cameras to see pretty much all of the ship’s exterior if he needed to. He deployed any which might be along her path. There, she just emerged. Her long lifeline was anchored in the airlock; the rest she gently tossed away from the ship to not be in her way. Her walk along the hull was typical for a human’s stroll; he would have taken one careful step at a time, as if on ice.
But I cannot forget how much faster she thinks. I’m going to keep my mouth shut on this one.