part 2 - confused AI
„Captain Edward Wong, Doctor Oscar Wellington, two cyborg pilots, ninety-six maintenance robots, and me.“ The Harpy answers in a flat tone.
„See?“ Eddy gives me the I-told-you-so-look. „Where is Proto?“ he asks her.
„Proto is not on board.“ What?! „His suit is missing. Scanning… He is jamming me.“ Another I-told-you-so-look.
Proto is my assistant. He isn’t supposed to leave the ship. Where is he? What the hell is going on? He’s going to get in trouble…
Being neither a human nor a cyborg, his legal status is not quite clear yet. Not on Earth, not on Mars, not on the lunar mining colonies, and apparently neither on this ship. As a matter of fact, he is the first of his kind. Between an AI and a human clone, he is a miracle, if you ask me. He is priceless! For the captain, he’s just an AI, in a man suit…
Crap, I even deactivated his tracking device two days ago, hoping to keep other companies at bay. Maybe this move qualifies me a dumb-dumb…
„Proto is going to get a good going-over. And if you don’t start pulling yourself together, I’ll beat you up too, for good measure!“ Eddy stands in the doorway. I can’t tell if he’s joking.
The soft purring of the Harpy interrupts. “Warning. Warning. Collision course. Risk: ninety-three point sixty-six percent. I suggest immediate change of course. Dr. Wellington’s vitals are stable. Captain, you are needed on the bridge. Dock station four has been activated. Escape capsule two has been launched thirty seconds ago… Launching remaining capsule… I am confused.”
“WHAT?!” We both cry in unison. ”What the hell is going on?!” The captain shouts sprinting out of my lab.
“Wait! Cap! Eddy!” I dash down the corridor, only to see his back turning round the corner. Man, he’s fast. Better be! If this is sabotage… The only one, who could have done this, has already fled the ship. Crap! He’s gonna destroy us. I’m a fucking idiot!
“Warning!“ Harpy tweets. „Collision is now inevitable. Remaining time to impact: twenty-three seconds. Course change impossible. Pilots manually deactivated. Autopilot permanently deactivated. Override. Error. Override. Error. Override. Error – sorry.”
If the Harpy gets smashed to bits, and we both die, that’ll be on my head. Only my fault. Somewhere ahead the furious cursing of the captain echoes.
How did we end up here? The last thing I remember, we were passing Mars, to swing into polar orbit and – fuck. Why are we in the asteroid belt?!
“Buckle up! Prepare for impact. Eddy, it’s been a pleasure.“ Harpy adds cheerfully. Oh, no! Crap! The next thing I know, I get thrown into a blender and swirled around the place. Hitting the corridor ceiling, the floor, and some walls. Smoke! Shit! I hope the ship doesn’t cut out all the oxygen…
That’s a lot of smoke down the corridor. Behind me the doors slide open and I get violently pulled in, hitting something hard. Pan galactic gargle blaster – my head has doubled it’s size, I swear. What a fucked up day!
“Hey Doc? Oz? Come on, stay with me. I won’t kiss you twice a day, you know.” Eddy’s big hands slap the dizziness right out of me.
“You’re not my type,“ I lie.
“Good! You’ve come to,” he grins and helps me lean against the wall of a monitoring desk. Partially disintegrated, the two damaged pilots lay on the floor of the bridge, emitting sparks.This is bad… One head lies near my foot, looking right at me, smiling sheepishly.
“Is this One’s or Two’s?” I ask. The Captain is pressing something cool at the back of my head. He needs a cool-pack too. His nose bleeds, but he doesn’t notice, or doesn’t mind.
„Two’s. Only Two has this stupid grin. Proto’s gonna pay for this, as soon, as I manage to lay hands on it! I swear!“
”Was there a fire? Um, there was a lot of smoke…“ Eddy nods. „Is there any oxygen left outside the bridge?“ He shakes his head. „This is bad… Can you fix them? The cyborgs? You need them – to repair the Harpy, don’t you?“ I study my lap, then my hands. „I thought… I thought you hate AIs and cyborgs.” Color me surprise.
“It seems that way… Hasn’t your mama taught you, that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?” I didn’t consider him a decent human being, nor a life saver. His rude behavior with Proto… I assumed… Well, I thought he is a bigoted windbag. My bad…
His eyes lock mine. “Just look at you! Died and resurrected today. You’ve learnt nothing from it, did you? Still cheeky to your savior, bucko? Hm?“ Suddenly he shrugs, and seems a lot older and paler than before. „You had a rough day, kid. Now stop bleeding all over the place, will you?” What just happened? „I’m happy you’re alive.“ He laughs a deep guttural laugh. How strange, I never heard him laugh before… “And here I was thinking, this will be the most boring half year of my life, on this science field trip.”
I take the cool-pack, and offer it to him. “You okay? Anything broken?” He shakes his head.
“A fuel tank, but that’s not the problem. We can still detach, but we have to do that manually.“ Not what I meant. „Also, there is a leak somewhere I need to find, before we run out of oxygen. Fix One and Two. I hope my baby didn’t get hurt too badly… You know, she’s not just a cargo ship.” He snorts triumphantly. “If you hadn’t pass out, like an anemic victorian princess, you could have seen my brilliant maneuver. I landed her. I landed the Harpy, on a fucking asteroid! Which is unbelievably stupid and amazing at the same time!“ Did he just wink at me? That nose is broken, definitely. He smiles and turns away to look at the screen. We are spinning. “At least, we’re alive – for now.”