Friday, November 15, 2013

The Accident

Fiction Friday! Alternative post here if you are not into your fiction. What low-sec group do you belong to?

Next week I'm hoping to release a Novelette called "The Affair". Only 10,000 words so not as big as the last one!

The Accident

Senior Technician Gretara was sat at the monitoring station in the stargate's control room. She casually watched the the light traffic coming and going. Almost all the systems were automated but a small crew was needed for faults and minor maintenance. Her gate was connected to another just under one light-year away. The artificial wormhole between the two gates allowed starships to travel between the solar systems in a seconds rather than decades.

"Hey gorgeous! How's the exciting world of gate travel today?"

Gretara rolled her eyes and turned around. There in the door way was her supervisor, Cenn. He had his usual cheeky smile and devilish glint in his eye.

"Nearly as boring as your pick-up lines." she replied with a smile.

There had always been friendly banter between them. When she first started she thought he was going to be a pest. She soon found out he was very happily married and the jokey flirtations were just that. He'd had countless opportunities to try it on with her in the last six months but never had made a move. When she'd taken this posting six months ago she had just split from her husband and was pretty 'anti-men' at that time. However she had warmed to him over the first few weeks. He'd helped her see there was still hope.

"I see from the log you replaced some 'tronics last night?" Cenn asked.

"Yeah, we were getting some funny readings from one of the primary graviton controllers. It was quiet so I replaced it when there was a gap. Thankfully the connection remained solid whilst I did the hot-swap."

Cenn looked a bit concerned.

"Next time call me please, even if I'm asleep. Those controllers can be dodgy and could potentially collapse the wormhole and take the gate offline. If the connection drops even for 10 minutes, I'm the one who gets his arse chewed off by command. Then I'd have to come up here and chew your arse off. We wouldn't want that would we, it would be a waste of a very pert arse." he said with a smile and a wink.

A small bleep caught both their attention. Gretara turned back to the console and Cenn walked over.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Damn graviton controller boards again. Getting that same reading, but thats a brand new board in there."

Cenn brought up diagnostics on the main screen. Just as he did alarms started blaring. Gretara quickly shut them off. As soon as the alarms died she looked at Cenn in horror. The silence was deafening. On a stargate there was always noise. A constant drone caused by the massive technology that kept the wormhole stable. It had stopped. The gate was offline.

"Gretara! Did we have any traffic?"

Gretara quickly looked at the other screen on the monitoring station.

"Oh no....!" her voice trailed off.

"What is it? Talk to me Gretara!"

"A shuttle with two passengers. It jumped and entered the wormhole milliseconds before the connection dropped."

"Did they make it through?" Cenn asked nervously.

Gretara accessed the logs at the other gate. The way she looked at him he knew. They hadn't made it.


Two weeks later.

The three high-level executives were sat on the top table in the hearing room. Gretara was sat on her own in a chair facing them. She fidgeted nervously.

"Ms. Falk, we are gathered he today to hold an inquest into the events leading up to the recent class two failure of the static wormhole connection at the Gonheim-Hedaleolfarber startgate. This unfortunate event resulted in the likely death of two people. We are tasked with finding out what went wrong, if anyone is to blame and what steps are needed to ensure this never happens again."

Gretara just sat there as the stern woman explained the process and that many of her colleagues from the stargate crew had already faced the panel.

Over the next hour she was asked question after question. They were mostly concerning the graviton controller boards but also about herself and her abilities. She felt that she was going to take the fall for this. She answered the questions as the three executives of the Republic Government asked them.

Following the questionings she was asked if she would submit herself for testing. She agreed and was surprised to find a medic enter the room immediately and escort her down to a clinic two decks below. 20 minutes later she had been tested for drugs and alcohol abuse. She knew she'd pass, but it all pointed to her being the scapegoat here even with a clean bill of health.

Finally she was told she was no longer needed at the inquest and that she could go home. The panels decision and recommendation would be presented to the Government within 48 hours.


Three days later

Gretara opened her door and found Cenn standing there with a sad look in his eyes and a bottle of whisky in his hand.

"I'm so sorry" he whispered. Gretara stood back and let him into her apartment.

There wasn't much left, most of her furniture and belongings had been packed into boxes and these were stacked against a wall. He handed her the bottle.

"Thanks." she said with more than a little sadness in her voice.

They sat down in two small chairs. Gretara opened the bottle and took a long drink. She passed the bottle back to Cenn.

"Sorry, I've packed the glasses."

Cenn took a drink from the bottle. "Is there anything I can do?" he asked.

"I'm fine." she replied "To be honest I think I may have got off likely. The only reason criminal charges haven't been pressed is that the two people we lost could be alive somewhere in deep space. Unlikely, but as they cannot prove they are actually dead I cannot be charged with murder. Getting fired for gross negligence wasn't the worst that could happen when you think about it."

Cenn passed the bottle back to her.

"I know, but the whole thing stinks. I'm not sure I believe the whole thing about you installing the graviton controller board incorrectly. There are just too many things that went wrong at the same time. The backup failing, the emergency shutdown not kicking in. OK even if you did mess up that boards installation, it shouldn't have failscaded like it did. The entire system is designed to prevent that exact situation. The report ruled out sabotage but I'm still not sure, too much of a coincidence to me."

Gretara shrugged and took another drink. "May be, but the fact is all those backup systems are never really tested until the primary ones fail."

"So where are you going?" Cenn asked.

"I'm going back to my folks. Its not ideal as they live deep in low-sec and I thought I'd escaped that existence years ago. But its going to be a struggle finding work around here. 'Killed two people' doesn't look good on your resume!"

"They might still be alive, somewhere out there in deep space." he replied hoping to make her feel better. "That is another thing. That the logs didn't include the passenger manifest. We know a shuttle went through, but we have no idea who was on board. That information is always captured. Yet at the same time we suffer a catastrophic failure, the logs also bug so we will never know who was on that doomed shuttle? I'm not buying this."

Gretara shrugged gain and took another drink. "It sound far-fetched, but the investigation ruled out sabotage."

"They'd never admit that even if they found it. The company would lose all the stargate maintenance contracts in the empire. Its a cover up if you ask me!".

"Well apparently the logs hadn't been recording manifests and ship ident codes for days. In any case, I'm finished here. No hi-sec gate crew company will hire me now and I have nowhere to stay. Its back to the arse-end of space and hope they are desperate for a graviton specialist in one of the gates in the systems my parents live."

"Is there nobody in hi-sec you could stay with until you get back on your feet. I'd offer but my wife might have something to say about that. Didn't you say you had an ex-husband? Are you still on good terms with him?" he asked.

"Yes there is an ex-husband. But two major issues with that. Firstly, he ran off with my best friend. A blond bimbo. A younger model who I thought I could trust. Bitch! It was not a amicable split. Secondly he's now even more remote than my folks who live on the edge of known space. Yes, he's not easy to reach at all."

Cenn thought that was an odd thing to say but didn't press it.

A few hours later the bottle was finished and Gretara was asleep in the chair. Cenn carried her to her bed and wrapped the covers over her. He gave her a light kiss on the forehead and left the bedroom. He picked up the empty bottle and placed in the trash which was rather full. He closed the hatch and hit the automated empty button. There was a quiet hiss as the trash container was flushed to the stations reprocessing centre. He turned to leave but stopped suddenly. It couldn't be. He was imagining things wasn't he? He could have sworn he'd seen a couple of graviton controller boards laying amongst the trash. He decided that the late hour and half a bottle of Matari whisky was making him see things. He left the apartment and walked home with a nagging doubt at the back of his mind.


The stars were amazingly bright this far out into interstellar space. Dinna looked out of the small viewport in wonder. With no sun for many light-years the number of visible stars was blinding due to the low light in this area of space. The dim interior lights gave little refection in the glass, but her blond hair did reflect spoiling the view a little.

"Its so beautiful out here honey. Its like living in heaven."

There was no answer.

"I'm not sure I'll ever get bored of watching the stars out here."

More silence.

"I'm getting peckish. Do you want something to eat?"

No answer.

"OK, you don't mind if I help myself?"

Dinna glance out of the window one more time and made her way across the small passenger cabin of the shuttle. It was a mess. Empty bottles and food wrappers littered the floor. She picked up the bloody shard of metal laying on the table and approached the man's body. The left side of his head had been caved in. The hopelessness of the situation had the two lovers a breaking point within a week of being stranded in interstellar space. During a particularly heated argument about how much water she was drinking she had hit him over the head with a bottle. He never woke up.

She squatted down and cut some flesh from his upper thigh. A lot of the flesh was already missing and bone was clearly visible. She picked up the raw meat and placed it in her mouth, slowly chewing.

"I think I'm going to look at the stars a bit more honey. You want to join me?"

Of course he didn't answer, he had dead for over a week.

"OK darling. You just rest."

Dinna walked back over to the viewport humming to herself. She hummed a lot to herself since she lost her mind after beating her lover to death with a water bottle last week. A man who'd left his wife to be with her.

1 comment:

  1. Nice!

    But it think this would also have worked if you had not mentioned the Graviton controller boards in the trash - maybe even better.