World of Souls Chapter 6: Downtime

Elinog was starting to get used to his new legs and was able to start working on maintenance with Janine. He was a little slower with only one set of arms, but he was working through it.

“Janine, can you hand me a crescent wrench? I don’t seem to have the right size wrench.”

There was a rustling sound and then Janine passed the tool to Elinog. “There, hon. Do you need me to work on anything else?”

“No, unless you want to start testing sub-systems. Nothing else is in need of repairs now.”

“Hey, I finished growing another batch of skin. Do you want to get it applied tonight?”

The sound of a bolt tightening echoed out of the crawl space. “Got it! What did you ask? A skin patch?”

“Yeah, do you want it applied tonight?”

“Well, I’ve got nothing better to do. Sometimes I think it’s better not to have them until I’m used to this, though. These legs bang around a lot.” There was a dull thud. “Ow. See?”

Janine chuckled. “That’s what the skin’s for. To help you get better control over them.”

“Right. Sure. Let’s do that tonight.” Elinog inched backwards out of the crawlspace. “Maybe until then we can work on those replacements for my lower arms. I’m getting some phantom pain.”

Janine’s large eyes rolled. “I gave you meds for that.”

Pulling himself out of the crawlspace the rest of the way Elinog nodded to her. “Yeah, but at the rate you prescribed them we’re going to run out.”

“The fungus is growing fine for now.”

“Right, but once we get to where we can’t cut off more I’ll go cold turkey. I’d rather ween off now.”

Janine nodded. “Makes sense, I’m just worried about you.”

– – –

Now that Blavet’s ribs were healed Allie let him fly while she and AB-775 worked on cleaning up the signal. It had major distortion and with every pass they found they had filtered out something from the signal and had to start over sections.

Allie climbed the ladder into the cockpit. “So, cap, you haven’t impacted any warp-stuff. I’m proud of you.”

“Still want to try flying through one of these clouds, though. Have you and AB-775 found anything interesting yet?”

“Interesting, yes. Intelligible, not yet.” Allie sat in the co-pilot’s seat and leaned back. “So, Elinog seems to be doing quite well.”

“Yeah, thanks to Janine. I’m glad that zarx recommended her back on the station.”

“I wish one of them would take a shift at the controls, though. I want some time with you, too.” Allie flipped the controls over to her console. “Go take a break. Bring me a coffee pod back, too.”

Blavet stood and stretched. His short tail still felt wrong. “Maybe once Elinog has his arms Janine can outfit me with a tail extension. Feels wrong to be so short.”

“I don’t think we have enough parts on the ship for that. It’s a different thing than arms. Requires a lot of motors and joints.” Allie cocked her head. “During your break maybe you can listen to the signal AB-775 and I worked out so far. He doesn’t have thaumatish in his languages, and I really don’t know much of it.”

“Is it in thaumatish?”

“It’s in some language we don’t know. It’s worth a shot. Now go get me that coffee pod.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Blavet started climbing down the ladder. “Wait, when did you become Captain?”

“When we started dating.”

“Oh, right.”

– – –

AB-775 sat in the corner of the cargo bay near a console, crunching data. The screen showed several languages rushing across it. Each in turned red and disappeared from the screen. At the top a readout read: Languages Tested: 98, Approximate Matches: 0

“AB,” Blavet approached from the corridor, “how’s the search going.”

AB-775’s cameras lit up and he stood up. “Ah, Captain. I’m using the ship’s language database. Haven’t found any matches yet.”

“Let me listen to the transmission. Allie thinks I might know the language.” Blavet pull earbuds from a pocket and plugged them into the console’s sound port.

“If it’s in the database I’ll be able to pick it out.”

Blavet shook his head. “There’s a couple languages in my head that aren’t in the database. Trust me.”

“Okay, Cap. Feeding it in. I’ll have it on low volume, tell me if it needs to go up.”

A slow, lilting language flowed into Blavet’s ears. It was distorted in places, but it sounded familiar. “Hmm. Sounds like maybe a dialect of Shiltarin or Drestalik. Maybe a combination of the two? Have you checked those yet?”

AB-775 paused his search algorithm and tested the two languages. “No, they aren’t quite a match. It contains words both languages don’t have. Maybe a third language?”

“Okay, I’ll keep listening, but I’m not sure what else it could be. Resume your search.”

The display updated: Tested Languages: 100, Approximate Matches: 2

“Random language selection, then?”

“I find you tend to discover correlations faster that way.”

“Carry on, then.”

“Aye-aye Capn.”

Blavet nodded and unplugged his earbuds. Shoving them in his pocket he looked around the cargo bay for Janine and Elinog. “Hey, do you know where our salamen are?”

“Medical bay? Probably applying skin grafts again.”

“Thanks.” Blavet walked off toward the corridor. “Oh, and alert me immediately if you decode the transmission.”

AB-775’s camera’s light’s shut back off.

Blavet walked down the corridor and heard some cursing from the medical bay. He paused at the door and knocked. “Is this a bad time?”

“Shast! That’s sharp!” Elinog complained. “Oh, Captain. If you’re fine with seeing me get cut up by another crew member, come on it.”

The doors whooshed open and Blavet saw Elinog strapped down and Janine holding a fresh skin graft down on his leg. “Doesn’t look all that bad to me.”

“It feels bad. She says she can’t give me painkillers first. Needs me lucid.”

Janine scowled at Elinog. “I gave you a mild painkiller. You’re the one that wanted to conserve medicine.”

“Okay, you two. Stop bickering like an old married couple. I wanted to ask about the state of the ship.”

“We were not bickering!” Elinog and Janine said in unison. Then they looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Blavet shook his head. “So, ship status report.”

“Sorry, Cap.” Elinog grabbed his datapad. “There’s nothing major wrong. Some systems are getting corrosion faster. Probably because we’re in warp space. The exterior of the ship probably needs more plating.” Elinog motioned at his legs. “It’s a job for two mechanics, but we’ll need to modify a suit. My legs are a little too wide now.”

“I worked with what I had.” Janine finished applying the new skin. “Ok. This will hurt.” She pulled out a suture device and set it on its way.

Elinog bit his lower lip and motioned at Janine to continue the report.

“Right. So, there’s a little bit of radiation from warp space, but it’s usually not a problem. We’re getting a larger dose than usual, so the plating is for that, in addition to the corrosion.”

Blavet pulled out his datapad. “Do we have the material for that?” He started scrolling through a list of parts.

“Not in inventory. We’d have to take off some interior panels and plate them with lead.” Janine sent a file to Blavet’s tablet from her own. “These are ones that aren’t important to the function of the ship.”

The list was shorter than Blavet expected. “Ah, mostly ceiling panels and the wall panels in the cargo bay. That’s not enough for the whole ship, though.”

There was a beep and green light emanated from the suture tool. Janine pulled it off and checked the stitches. “Ok, good to go.”

Elinog nodded at Blavet. “Yeah, we were thinking we could try to mine an asteroid, but even if we could the smelting would be problematic. We can’t process plates that big. We’d use really small ones.”

“There’s also the problem of no mining equipment on the ship.” Janine sighed. “Our collision lasers aren’t made for mining.”

“Well, hopefully we won’t need the plating, but get started. I’m hoping we’re getting close to the signal. We’ve identified two possible language roots but need at least a third to make it out.”

Janine nodded. “Hopefully it’s not someone who needs help. We’re in no shape for that.”

“Well,” Elinog interjected, “if they need help and have a wrecked ship we can use it as salvage.”

“Right, let’s cross that bridge when we get to it. Once we get out of here we still have a job to do.” Blavet turned to leave the med-bay. I’m getting some rest. You should too.” He started to walk away then turned back. “Oh, and Janine? You have next shift at the stick.”

“Aye, Captain.”

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