Deep Flight – A Tale of Broken Memories

Tenance groaned involuntarily as bright lights flooded his vision once more. His pod door slid open with a smooth hiss of hydraulics, revealing one of the security drones. Again.

“There are four critical issues which require your immediate attention,” it said, as the various LED lights in its chest flashed red. “Please make your way to the Command Deck once your thoughts have recovered from sleep sickness.”

He rolled his eyes, following the robot back to the central computer. As if someone of his importance could be affected by something as mundane as sleep sickness. His mind was perfectly fine, and there was no way extended hibernation could affect his thoughts. Sleep sickness was something that affected other people. Tenance was the leader of some tens of thousands of civilians. It made sense that his intelligence would be without equal.

His luck left something to be desired, though. This entire voyage had been nothing but bad luck.

This space ark was one of many that had been sent into space, in the hopes that at least some of the ships would escape devastation at the hands of Earth’s invaders. It seemed likely that Earth would be destroyed completely, but if the space arks could manage to colonize other planets, there would still be hope for humanity.

They had made it past the blockade, but not without taking significant damage. The opposing armada had pierced the hull in several locations, killing about a tenth of the population. The captain and most of the leadership had been among those killed, leaving Tenance in charge. But that was only the beginning.

Tenance followed behind the robot, making certain not to lose sight of it as they weaved through stacks of cryostasis pods on their way to the Command Deck. This would mark his third trip, though he was just as lost now as he had been on his first trip. All of the walkways looked the same, and the dull roar of fans and compressors echoed throughout the massive chamber, making it hard to concentrate. Why couldn’t they have placed his pod any closer?

He had long since lost any respect for the people who had designed his ark. The first time the robots woke him, there were over thirty critical issues that had been caused by a collisions system. A collisions system! Who designs a system built specifically to collide with things? The entire point of being in space was to not collide with things! Naturally, Tenance had it disabled. And not surprisingly, it had solved all of the issues, so the robots lead him back to sleep.

The next issue involved a fuel shortage. Apparently one of the exterior fuel tanks had been damaged by asteroids, and all of the fuel had leaked out into space. Who designs a ship that can’t withstand damage? Why wasn’t there any sort of damage prevention system? Regardless, the ship would no longer be able to make its destination given its current weight, and it had been up to Tenance to jettison some cargo. It didn’t take him long to decide– some genius had brought along an entire acre worth of plants. Why bother? The entire point of colonizing a new planet was to grow their own plants! What could they possibly do with plants that had already grown? Tenance had the entire fore deck jettisoned into space. Once again, he had saved the day, no thanks to the ship’s original designers.

No doubt he would do so again. They had arrived at the Command Deck, and he wasted no time in reading the computer’s messages. He ignored the robot’s suggestions that he wait for the sleep sickness to pass– didn’t the robot know who it was talking to? He was Tenance, savior of the space ark!

“Critical alert: hydroponic battery A missing. Current power consumption greater than available resources. Unable to complete voyage without reduction in power.”

The other three alerts were similar. How in the heck had the ship managed to lose four batteries in such a short time? Well, no matter. Tenance pulled up the attached logs, and started reviewing all of the systems and protocols that were currently running. Navigation…various robot AIs… life support…

“Life support!?” he said. “Why on earth do we have life support? We’re all asleep! And when we land, we’ll be using the new planet’s air! Good grief, no wonder we’re having power issues!” Tenance started fiddling with the keyboard, trying to figure out how to delete the errant system.

“Sir, with all due respect,” the robot said, “life support remains online in the event of emergency evacuations. Even if such an event does not occur, people will need to be able to leave the ark in an orderly fashion once we arrive on the new planet. Without air inside the ship–“

“Got it!” he said, having paid no attention to the robot. “Deleting the life support solved everything! Man, this ship sure is lucky to have me as its Head Main! That’s three times I’ve saved the day!”

The robot was not programmed to reply. “New information detected. All critical issues resolved. I will now escort you back to your cryostasis pod.”

Tenance followed the robot with his head held high. It was a great feeling, knowing that you were the savior of countless thousands of people. Not only that, but the loud noises that had once plagued the massive pod chamber had been silenced. Was there any problem he couldn’t solve? He let a wide smile creep across his face, as the robot prepared his pod for reentry. His was the only one with a gold placard announcing its occupant, no doubt a perk of his importance. He would have to see about unfastening it from the pod once they had arrived at the new planet– it would look great on the front of his new house. He read it once more, feeling a sense of pride as he did so.

Head Main–


Neil Siemers grew up in Derby, Kansas, a comparatively small town south of Wichita. He moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas, and hasn't left since. Neil likes to pretend that he is a big shot full time writer, although it's probably closer to a hobby. Either way, it's funded by a full-time job in the insurance industry, where he happily works as a cog in the machine for The Man so that bills can be paid.

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