Introducing Lance Steele! For reasons which shall become obvious, I'm thinking of donating him to this community. I bet people could have a HOOT playing around with him.
Stiletto tumbled helplessly, dark and powerless, lost between the stars, so far from home.
On the courier ship’s cramped bridge the emergency lights flickered and came on. Lance Steele shook his head, groaning. He blinked and rubbed his eyes.
“Report,” he croaked.
“This is the damage control backup computer. What report do you wish, Lieutenant Steele?” a computer asked, in its gratingly calm voice.
Idiot computer! “Where are we? What happened to my ship? Start with ship’s status, malfunction report, critical systems only.”
“Certainly, Lieutenant Steele. Processing. Hyperdrive is shut down. The navigation system is offline, therefore our location is unknown. Life support is failing. The hibernation cylinder doesn’t respond to my signals. Fusion generator offline. Main computer does not respond to commands, reason unknown.”
“Great,” Lance said, his voice full of sarcasm. “Just what do I have left?”
“Emergency locator beacon operating. Emergency batteries, reserve life support, thrusters with manual control subsystem, and sublight drive are all fully operational.”
“And just what use are those to me now?” Lance growled.
“The emergency locator beacon sends a signal which…”
“I was talking to myself!” Lance shouted. "Shut up, you worthless--"
Lance sighed. "You have no idea how comforting that is to me, computer." It didn't reply. That was good.
Lance watched the stars outside as they rolled by slowly. What could he do? There were always alternatives. Think, man, think!
He had life support for an hour or two, if he was lucky. It would take him longer than that figure out which, if any, of the stars he saw had human colonies. The emergency beacon wouldn’t help him. Its signal would take weeks, months, maybe even a year or two to reach a human colony, depending on where he was. He didn’t even bother to consider trying to reach one of those stars using the sublight drive. With the distances between the stars, humans would probably have evolved into another species before he'd reach them.
"Computer. What caused all these failures?"
"The best hypothesis is that Stiletto encountered a local space curvature inversion, overloading the hyperdrive. The snap shutdown of the hyperdrive sent shockwaves through all plasma conduits, causing other ship systems to shut down as well. Given my limited computing ability, this hypothesis is only grade B, seventy-five percent probability or less."
"But that shouldn't have destroyed any of the systems."
"Agreed. Plasma dumps should have opened, preventing damage to critical systems. However, with main computer offline there is no way to be certain if this occurred. Nor is there any way to reset the emergency dump valves."
"Give me my options for repair."
"First option. EVA. Shut plasma dump valves manually. Restart main computer using warm boot procedures. Estimated time for completion, three to four hours. I recommend this option."
“You stupid computer! Life support will be exhausted long before I could complete those repairs."
"Failure of life support systems is unimportant. It will not affect ship operations in any--"
"Not important! The lives of the crew don't matter to you?"
"Preservation of human life is my prime priority. However, human life is not--"
"Shut up, shut up! What's the next option?"
"Perform a full cold boot of the main computer. With the plasma power system shut down, there is less than a twenty-five percent chance the main computer will have enough power to reboot. In addition, I have no way to determine whether the main computer is damaged or not. However, if it does reboot, it can probably close the plasma shunts and restart all shipboard systems.”
"I have no choice," Lance growled. "Perform the full cold reboot."
"Warning," the damage control computer said, flashing red lights and frantic text at him. "A full cold reboot will shut down and reboot all, repeat, ALL, computer systems aboard ship, including the Autonomous Piloting and Executive System.
Shutdown of the APEX System will result in..."
"Just do it! Command priority alpha!"
"Command understood. Commencing cold boot."
Stiletto tumbled helplessly, dark and powerless, lost, so far from home.
On the courier ship’s cramped bridge the emergency lights flickered and came on. Lance Steele shook his head, groaning. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. “Report,” he croaked.
Fisher turned off the cockpit log tape they’d recovered from the derelict courier ship.
“Lieutenant Lance Steele of the Galactic Patrol!” she said, sarcastically. “And how many times did he do this?"
Stuart just shook his head. "Approximately three thousand six hundred. Until all battery power was exhausted."
"BLAST the APEX procedures manual! Why can't we just tell them they're androids?"
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License.
I don't see a Creative Commons license for this, but derivative works using Lance Steele characters and worlds are specifically allowed... nay, encouraged.