Friday Challenge for this Week
slight story modifications: my object won't fit in a bag, and I'm on a classified mission.
Squid Wars, The Next Generation
I struggled with my cargo in the airlock. It was heavy. I lugged it to the infirmary module and did a quick reconnaissance of the station. I was pleased to find that there was a spare model 5105 maintenance droid stored in one of the warehouse modules.
I linked my handheld into the droid and uploaded the Engineer program.
"Sir?" the droid said when it came online.
"Perform a census of this station, inspect my ship, and report back to me." I said.
"Yes sir," said the Engineer and it left.
I returned to the equipment I had brought. I plugged it into the infirmary receptacles and powered it up.
"Ready" was flashing on the screen. Opening the supply case I selected a membrane, and installed it in the slot. I pressed start.
After a couple of hours, the Engineer droid returned to report.
"Weapons, crew and comm modules destroyed. Estimate 1 week repair on crew module. Weapons and comms will need to be totally re-manufactured. Estimate 21 months to construct the necessary fabrication droids. There are 1 platoons worth of lght weapons in storage. The..."
I interupted him. "Forget the comms. My orders are for communications silence anyway. We will construct receivers if we have time. Maybe we can get some news. As for weapons, we can't handle the Kalimari if they return anyway. We need to get out of here before they return. How soon can you repair my spacecraft?"
"Your ship is poor condition. If you plan to abandon this station, we can cannibalize some of the materials. However, some materials will need to be obtained from the moon's surface. We will need to construct a full line of droids from mining and smelting droids to machinists, and of course, a droid to build the droids. I estimate 6 months. Captain Smith did a full survey scan of this moon, the materials are here."
"What happened to the crew?" I asked
"According to the log, two were on the ship when the Kalamari surprised them. The rest were in the crew's quarters."
"What else was in the station's computer? Did the crew find a habitable planet in nearby?"
"Yes sir. There is planet that scores 87 just over 5 parsec's from here, carrying capacity 7.5 billion. They had not reported it to command yet."
"Good" I said. "that's where we will be going. We will start a station type 14 sequence when we get there. How long till we can be fully operational?"
The droid processed for a full minute. "I estimate we can complete a Mahi-Mahi class cruiser constructed in orbit in about 100 years."
I nodded. So I wasn't going to live to see this through.
"Sir, according to the station's main computer, the Kalimari ship's beacon was activated. "
"I assumed it was. That's why we have to leave so quickly." I said.
"The computer estimated a 57 percent chance they will investigate and, if they come 6 months before ...." said the Engineer.
"They'll come." I said. "We are going to need an espionage droid to alter their ship's log. If we hide our activities, they might not know to come looking for us. You'd better get started."
"Yes sir." The Engineer hurried away.
The next day, I checked the machine. "Membrane ready." was flashing on the display. The membrane had formed into a small bulb shape.
I selected a capsule from the supply kit, placed it into the receptacle, and pressed start.
The droid passed by as I was checking the machine.
"Are you using that antique?" he asked
"Yes, that's all they gave me." I replied.
"You are not following the protocol?" he asked.
"No, I am not" I admitted.
"Shall I make preparations?" he asked.
"Yes, in a few weeks" I said.
Eight months earlier, I had been summoned with about 100 others to the command ship. Admiral Kent addressed us.
"The Kalimari have us boxed in this quadrant of the galaxy." he said. "We are in desperate straits. My staff has come up with a bold new plan to eradicate them and they assure me of it's success. You are not a part of this plan. Since I don't share the optimism of my staff, you are plan B. Each of you has been selected based on your psych/med files for this mission. As you know, we have only resorted to this a few times in our history. Good luck."
We were broken up into smaller groups, and given our orders.
After eight weeks, I was starting to believe we might make it before the Kalimari returned. The Engineer had worked furiously, and I helped where I could. The new Engineer software was amazing for optimizing solutions. We were now turning out five or six new droids a day. My ship had been completely disassembled and was being modified into an makeshift transport. We would take the droids with us.
The machine was ready for the next stage. The membrane had grown leathery and opaque was much larger now, and was suspended in a tank of water. It moved occasionally like a living creature. I watched as the medi-droid made a 7 centimeter slit in the membrane. The droid inserted the Ed unit and glued the membrane shut.
The droids had repaired the comm reciever on the ship. A few intercepts had come in. Things were obviously deteriorating in the war. No rescue would be coming.
Then we picked up the Kalimari message. Two more cruisers had been reassigned to investigate the beacon. We had a month.
The machine cycle was complete. The tank of water had been drained and removed, the membrane lay heavily the floor. I nodded to the medi-droid, and it selected its scalpel.
She had arrived.
She coughed and sputtered as the medi-droid severed the umbilical cord. The droid tucked the stub of the cord under a flap of skin and used the surgical glue to seal it. That was the tell-tale mark of a clone, no belly button.
She noticed me.
"What.... " She stopped. Her voice was raspy, she obviously was surprised at the sound of it. It sounded different of course, now that she was out of the engineered amniotic fluid. She had known this would happen, of course. The Ed unit was very thorough.
What is my name,?" she managed.
The medi-droid was cleaning the slime off of her.
"Eve" I said.
"How many are here?" she asked
"Just the two of us."
She was surprised. "Shall we get started?"
"Not yet" I replied.
"You do have embryos?"
"I have a full genetic library." I said.
"Then....." She was thinking. She was a smart one. "You're not following protocol?"
"No. " I admitted.
She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. Perfect. She'd been selected for this, thousands of years ago. She felt my eyes.
Her eyes widened slightly. "Do you have any clothes for me?" She regarded me suspiciously. There had been abuses of of clones in the past. The Ed unit must have taught her that too.
"I..uh, didn't.." I stammered, "I didn't think of it at all." I rushed to my quarters and returned with a sweatshirt and some exercise pants. "I'll have one of the droids make you some closthes right away."
She seemed reassured.
"Have you got anything to eat?" she asked.
"Yes, this way" I said. The medi-droid had been fitting her with a walk/therapy droid. The ed unit had made her exercise, but it still took a while to learn to walk. We started slowly toward the dining module.
"So why?.... She trailed off.
"I wanted some company." I said.
After a while she said "So, I'm to be your wife?"
"If you wish." I said. "If you don't want to, I'll have plenty to pick from. I have 49 more human capsules. They are all female. The male seeds were sent to stations where crewmen were needed."
"That's the protocol." she said.
"So if I'm going to be a baby factory, I may as well be the only one with a husband." she said and smiled. Apparently, she was deciding she could trust me.
I didn't say anything.
"Is something wrong?" she asked "Do I displease you?"
"It's just that.... you" I said softly "You're one of my ancestors. It's just a little weird."
"This isn't the first time the human race has had to repopulate" She agreed.
We completed the evacuation 10 days later.