We are met on our return from the mining expedition by Project Manager Quintus Cornelius Felix Varro [Felix] with a hover jeep to take Counselor Talbot back to the colony. He has concerns about the lapse in our data feed on the way up. I respect the position he is in, but even his nephew is agreed, albeit reluctantly. After discussion, the matter is being tabled pending further study – heading Orpheus] Marak does not like or trust Manager Varro.
Vicinius reports that the digger bot circuit boards show signs of damage similar to that on the mining bots. Related phenomena. Warning circulated to maintance staff and bots.
The Council says that they have some news from Ocean. Their fuel supply is low and they have had problems finding a suitable location given the volcanic activity. (They have not found signs of the 1,000 year layers.) Their intent is to land Janus 1 on their moonlet and build a moonbase.
Janus 3 is overdue for its check it. It is arriving more slowly than expected. We make contact with Venus 3. By mid-transit they had a problem. Most of their bots are non-functional, which meant that many of the ISP crew and technicians have spent most of the voyage awake and are quite elderly. They are training replacements (children). They are nearly out of fuel to brake, have made substantial changes to their habitat to support the extra awake personnel. Sensors are minimally functional. Tank loss is 50%. 156 crew awake. Venus reports that prior to launch the Captain decided that the bots should not engage in self-repair, thus they eventually malfunctioned. Without their help, the awake crew could not handle all tasks. We talk with the council and with Oceana – best solution is for an immediate rescue mission in the Pegasus, refuel Janus 3 with a six month supply of antimatter, and bring it to Terra Nueva. Oceana can’t handle an influx of either the elderly awake crew or newly-defrosted colonists.
Packing ensues. I’m entrusting my living samples — the minidon and snipe to Kaylin Flanagen at Bayside.
So we are off, along with Nurse __ (medic with specialty in cryonics/hibernation equipment), an astronomer, a junior engineer, and 2 unskilled youths (Brittons) from House Willowbrook as extra labor. Three and half- weeks of high G acceleration to look forward to. Uncomfortable is a serious understatement. Good thing I’m not claustrophobic; the acceleration couches help! Adams does not do well – previously undiagnosed weakness to G forces. Current plan is to refuel Janus 3 and bring it in to Terra Nueva. It’ll take a couple of months. I’m looking forward to some time to spend in a Janus lab and actually process some of our samples.
Astronomical survey enroute shows no sign of an orbit crossing asteroid that could be the source of the 1,000 year silicon layers. However, we find a new problem. An asteroid in Janus 3’s path. AUD1 plots a course correction for Janus 3 and Pegasus, which we implement. As we approach, the hull is in decent shape. The sensor dish is damaged, which may be affecting communications.
Docking is successful; Gracche is very good at this. AUD1 crosses and opens the airlock, which leads to the main bridge. It is cold, low atmosphere, not habitable without a suit. Venus is piloting. Other systems are run from the secondary bridge. Venus greets AUD1 and thanks him for his help.
Oddly, there are no humans there to greet us. Or even to greet us when we get to the more habitable areas of the ship. We have to knock at the aux. bridge door, were we are met by Maxus – an old man using a walker for assistance. Adams does most of the talking to Maxus, and then asks to address the crew. When Gracche introduces himself, Maxus responds “’Be Good to have a human pilot again.” Adams gives a good speech, and he promises to keep everyone alive ‘til we get to Terra Nueva.
Marak heads for engineering with Gracche. AUD1 stays on the bridge to repair bots. We’ll need to shut down the antimatter plant long enough to refuel it – which it was never designed for. Marak spent almost all his time during the flight learning about the system and trying to work out a procedure for this. We can run most of the ship off the fusion plant, but we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t cause problems particularly for the tanks. Marak and Gracche plot the details of the EVA and loading. They bring some bots back on-line to make repairs to critical systems. Hives are sent to repair the ship’s hives. There are, so far, only six working bots, and two of those are in the medical section and teaching the kids. He also sends them to cannibalize the digger bots in the cargo hold – we can fix them later.
Nurse __ and I head off to examine the hibernation pods. One of the things I want to do is check all of them. Janus 3 has put a lot of wear-n-tear on their maintenance and diagnostic gear – best to make sure everything is properly calibrated and we aren’t due for any surprises. It is their ship and I’m here to help, not step on toes. (At least until I need to.) We have a near miss with a unit that fails unexpectedly. With help the patient is stabilized and waking up. Only another 339 tubes to check..
Vicinius settles into the lab space, around the food vats, and picks up some curious youths.
Adams negotiates with Venus – she wants her children to be treated as more than mere machines. Adams offers them the chance to join Janus 2. She’s taking the loss of over 100 of her children better than I expected, tho some of them might be able to be recovered. I need to schedule some time for counseling/evaluation while we’re in-bound.
Given the near-miss with the asteroid, we could use sensors. AUD1 could go out and repair the dish. Or maybe run cable to the Pegasus to use its sensors for now. There was an external repair hive, but it is off-line. Marek finds that the external hive is a part of the ship cut off from Venus. When asked Maxus says there was a time of civil unrest – some humans attacked the bots because Venus was shutting down hibernation pods for the good of the mission. Some of the tech bots have little lasers, the external hive has much bigger repair lasers.
Marak runs a connection to the isolated section.
Venus: Yes, I do have a connection. My son is not happy. He is scared and lonely.
Venus: Yes, people. He is scared of them. He is not right.”
Adams: “Can you turn him off?” “Or can you fix him?”
Venus: “Give me a moment. Some of my channels are damaged. My connection is weak.”