convene, prepare, merge-run
disperse, convene, prepare
It was caught in a tight, backwalking loop, or I don’t know what. It
blipped over, like an oblong wheel, rolling -this clown car. And all of
us along for the ride.
“Have you tried the hard reset?”
Without answering, he reached across me, pulled down the yellow bar
Lights shut off. The telltales -glow of logics, functioning- winked out.
Audio-alert wound down, cut abruptly.
It was pitch for a sec till these biolume panels shaved on, gradually
brightened, flung a bluegreen sheen over everything.
System down, my mind turned over. For just a moment, we were in
logistical freefall, accelerating blindly. Locked in a box.
I swear he counted mississippis.
Then yanked everything back. Whirring up from nothing. It hit me, then:
even venting had gone down.
You goddam son-of-a
One gloved finger hushed me.
System emitted the status chime. It sounded … better? When a pixel
winked I spoke, in command tone:
The screen came up, flicking through directories, too fast, really, for
the eye to see. I think that’s just showing off.
Produced a status bar, counting down minutes and trillions of bites.
“Bar crawl,” he said, popping open a compartment. A tall cylinder fell
into his gloved hands -frosting instantly over. This he uncapped,
squirting amber fluid directly into his mouth, from about a foot away,
in that effortless manner of the quarter G people.
I opened my mouth -closed my eyes, tho I needn’t’ve. From a good meter,
he gimme a shot direct to the kisser and not a drop spilt. It was an
uncanny skill to one of my ilk -groundwalker that I am to this day.
An I hadn’t choked a bit on the rough stuff, going down, there’d have
been no spray.
He wiped it away, recapped the canister, packed it back in its cold
“What’s the doctor’s prognosis?”
I ran through the functions, one by one.
It looked green.
Ship shuddered, kind of ripple effect, peristaltic -subsystems
cascading, in closed-bracket order, into low-use and out. Rebooting in
cycles -disconnect, retry. Audio-alert resumed, pulsing, where it had
Console pinged, I flipped it over. Read:
receive, compose, re-run
reverse, receive, compose
It was happening again. His “hard reset” had brought us back to this
catastrophic crash. An impasse.
Do it again. He said, gesturing. To the yellow bar. I stared at him in
possible shock. He reached across me. I nabbed his gloved hand.
That won’t- I tried to explain.
Failure occurs in some logic deeply embedded… To find the thread to
which it’s threaded we’d have to-
“Have to what?”
Take System offl-
And I stopped. Our lives, the lives of we two in the hub -and the
others, our corpsicle crew, awaiting our arrival at the TRAPPIST star, a
thawing gestation, new set of planets to play with- all of this rested
in ongoing operation of System. Even in doses, it must go on.
I let go his glove, reached my hand for the handle; the yellow bar
-sharply down. While he counted, silently, lips moving.
Restart collapsed its field of cognition. We entered the cloud of
unknowing. Then System, on reboot, ran Ptolematics, benchmarking our two
salient quasars: Teacup and Cross. It neatly inflected our vector before
glitching like crazy, the backwalking loop.
We had eighteen months ahead of this, rebooting every few, over and
over, in shifts. I could see now, the two of us, sleepless and sleeping
by turns, turning on and off the System keeps us living, keeps us on
course, going, to our deep destination. One slip, a second lost, might
mean disaster, a shooting past -fast, faster.
And I kind of despaired, then, or I kind of let it in.
I’ll take the first watch.
He hovered a while, then, grunting, left. He’d be back soon enough, go
through this, each of us nursing sick System, hobbling, to our new home.