Prelude: So Cold

It's been weeks that we've been drifting. Between the droid uprising and the pirates, we've had our fair share of trouble. The ship has gone dark. The outermost passages grow cold. The innermost, stay only a little warmer than the outer, because of their proximity to the secondary bridge, and the inevitable spreading of heat, in our daily patrols through the ship.

The second bridge was the only safe place when the pirates came, because they came on fast and with little warning. Few could resist, but those who could did so. They died, but not in vain, for in their sacrifice our respite was bought.

" Lymelle, do you think that they'll bring the engines out of lockdown today?" One of the few remaining passengers asked me.

" I do not know, the command staff are very cautious… They would not want to attract unwanted attention." I responded carefully.

What would I know, I am but a staffer, an ensign onboard. My duties before the disaster were to maintain and clean the engine compartment with the others from my shift. Most of them were dead, caught in a firefight before they could make it to one of the lockdown zones.

At the time I was sick, something generally unheard of in space, as the air scrubbers and the sterility of the environment were hardly conducive to viral procreation. But somehow, I got something, perhaps it was a faulty scrubber, perhaps it was a failed pre-empt to the pirates.

" Leeri, you look tired." An officer, my older brother in the pecking order in fact, observed.

" Forsath, you know my name. We've worked together for many years." I reminded him, diverting his attention from the name of his dead partner.

" You still look tired though, try to get some sleep." He replied nonetheless.

" I will, as soon as everyone's settled." I said smiling and walking past him. No one's ever settled. I thought resignedly to myself.

I walked past a number of dark terminals, before settling down to my station in the corner of the room farthest from the entry hatch. A corner I shared with a family of one of the crewmen. Even so, the crewman was always on a shift when I got back, and it seemed that we never passed on the overlapped patrol routes.

I sunk into my chair at the station, depressing the button for the screen. The secondary bridge was designed so that all systems could be activated manually. It flickered to life, casting a dim nimbus of light around me. The status for the engines returned green as the fans in the computer picked up speed. I was to have the engines ready to operate on a moment's notice, ironically with the very same engines code-protected by a level 7 barrier that required a superior's 'okay' to bypass.

" Status update?" The voice of the on-duty bridge officer murmured into my ear.

" All functioning ma'am." I said snapping a careful salute.

The bridge officer glided away to brood on the captain's chair, where she spent most of her time during my shift. As I did always did after checking in, I opened up the logs from before the incident. I poured over these logs day after day, most of them crewmen reporting to duty stations or noting minor un-punishable infractions. Once in a while an injury report would drift through my screen, but little else existed. Until I finished scanning through the duty logs I did not have permission to access personal logs. I held the belief that personal logs would be much more helpful than duty logs… my superior disagreed, and unscrupulously locked the entirety of that sector away behind a level 3 barrier. A barrier which, would take the better part of my shift simply to work around.

Instead, day after day, I gazed tiredly at the screen which wrote gibberish from right to left as it scrolled across. I don't remember when I lost consciousness, or even hitting my head against the screen. What I do remember is suddenly I was warm.