018: CREW

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We don’t really have a process for the whole crew revival thing. The doctor wants to administer Adin’s medical tests right away; I want to fill the other two medbay beds as quickly as possible. I think that the sooner we wake people, the better; the doctor thinks that the risk of leaving Adin alone when he might require medical attention is greater than any incremental added revival risk a few hours’ delay might make.

If I use my position as captain to order the doctor to come and revive another person with me, it will, but there’s no point in having a medical expert if you’re not going to listen to its medical opinions. I leave the doctor to do its job and head off to attempt another revival. Ideally, this should be a two person job, as it’s risky for one person to lift someone onto a stretcher by themselves, especially if they’re not trained in how to do it properly. But a revived crewmate getting a few bruises from my clumsy pawing is the least of their worries right now.

I can do it myself. But I don’t want to. We’re dealing with high risk colonists here, people with chances of revival in the ten per cent range. I know this isn’t how probability works, but after the success (so far) with Adin, I feel like we’re ‘owed’ eight more Pterras. I don’t want to deal with any more Pterras. Not alone.

I ask the computer for the colonist with the lowest survival chance in CR5. Kevin Spline, age 39. The cerebral stimulator comes free easily (it looks like the thing with Pterra really was just a botched port installation or something), but when I remove the mask, he doesn’t start breathing on his own. I drag him from the chronostasis pod and administer CPR, even though I know it’s hopeless. Eventually, I have to give up.

I cover him with his emergency blanket. We can take him to the freezer later.

Tinera Li Null, age 27, is an unusually small woman with a mangled left hand and missing right ear. She’s hairless, like a lot of Lunari, and her thin frame looks unbelievably fragile under the mass of chronostatic support lines. Her cerebral stimulator disconnects easily, and as I pull the breathing tubes free of her nose, she starts to breathe on her own.

Yes! I have to be careful removing her lines, my hands trembling with excitement. She’s light as I lift her onto the stretcher and wheel her as quickly as I safely can to the medbay.

The doctor is injecting something into Adin’s arm as we enter. It looks up, surprised. “Another live one? Already?”

“Looks like! Her name’s Tinera.”

It finishes the injection and immediately heads over to check vitals. Adin’s awake; I give him a warm smile.

“Hi, Adin. Has the doctor explained what’s going on here?”

Adin blushes furiously, pulling his bedcovers up almost to his chin. “No, captain,” he says, averting his eyes. Is he shy? He –

No, he’s not averting his eyes from me. I’m standing in front of Tinera; he’s trying not to look at her. Why…?

A half-remembered fact drifts up and smacks me in the face. Texans have a nudity taboo. Taproot and stars, that could have been awkward! Fortunately, I am wearing clothes today; I always do if I’m going to be doing any physical work, for obvious reasons. I guess I’m going to have to make a special note to wear them all the time now, since the crew’s probably going to be pretty Texan-heavy, statistically.

The doctor must be more familiar with Texan culture than me, or possibly it already ran into this issue dealing with Adin, because it puts a sheet on Tinera as soon as it transfers her to a bed.

“There’s room in the infirmary for one more patient,” the doctor informs me.

I nod. “Once your scans are done, can we move them to bedrooms and get three more in?”

The doctor raises an eyebrow. “That’s certainly possible, but this friend wouldn’t recommend it from a medical standpoint. You and this body were lucky to recover from chronostasis quickly, but these are high risk patients. There could be potentially fatal health effects showing up weeks later. This friend do its best with however many patients we have, but its capacity – and the capacity of these medical facilities – is limited.”

I fidget, but the doctor’s right. There’s no point in reviving extra people if it puts the already revived ones at risk. “Three at a time, then,” I say reluctantly. “Are these two registered as crew yet?”

“Not yet. This friend will handle it.”

I nod and head back out. I don’t look for a high risk colonist this time. I ask the computer for a revivable ship’s engineer.

Denish Calhurn is a large, well-muscled man, with a nose that looks to have been broken at least twice. It takes all my strength to lift – well, drag – him onto the stretcher. Remembering the nudity taboo this time, I throw his emergency blanket over him before wheeling him out.

It’s not long before the three freshly registered crewmates are roused, treated, and sitting in bed staring expectantly at me. The doctor is running some kind of medical analysis on the medbay terminal, but keeps its attention on me as well. I clear my throat awkwardly.

“Right,” I say. “So. It’s good to see you’re all doing well. Let me just explain what’s going on here.”

They keep staring at me silently. I tell myself that this is just like doing a book tour or something. Nothing to be nervous about.

“As you may have gathered,” I continue, “we’re not at our destination. All of you have been roused five years early, to fill crew roles.”

“What happen?” Denish asks. He speaks the interlingua clumsily, with a thick accent. I make a mental note to keep my words simple; he might not be fluent.

“I’m not completely sure,” I admit. “There was a situation where… well, I think it might have been sabotage. Difficult to tell. But the actual crew are all dead, and the ship is a bit damaged. All of us, including me and the doctor, are replacements. My name’s Aspen, by the way.

“I can say this – we’re currently safe. We appear to be on course. We – ”

“We appear to be on course?” Adin asks, a touch of panic in his voice.

This isn’t going how I’d hoped it would. “We have every reason to believe that we’re on course,” I assure him. “The ship’s navigational systems are currently offline though.”

“Navigation is offline?” Denish asks, sitting up.

“We are currently perfectly safe,” I stress. “And Denish is an engineer. I have no doubt that we can get everything resolved. All life support systems are fine, and we are five years from our destination. We woke you up because – ”

“You’re Aspen Greaves!” Tinera exclaims.

“That is my name, yes,” I sigh.

“Who’s Aspen Greaves?” Adin asks.

“Absolutely nobody, it doesn’t matter, and I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway. Denish, you’re here because we need your expertise. Adin, Tinera, the reason we roused you is because we’ve noticed a steep dropoff in the chances of people successfully waking from chronostasis. The longer people are under, the worse their chances get, so our current plan is to save as many lives as we can by waking as many high-risk people as the ship can support, while they still have a chance to wake up. The longer people stay under, the more likely they are to die, so the three of you have the important job of resting up, healing from your ordeal, and then putting your minds to the task of trying to make this ship as capable of supporting life as we possibly can. Understood?”

“Yes, captain,” Denish says. Adin gives me a grim nod; Tinera a jaunty salute.

I nod. “I’m sorry about this,” I say. “I know that none of us asked for this. You signed up to build a planetside colony, not wait out five years on an interstellar bus.”

“It’s the same thing, though,” Tinera says.


“The goal is to make this place support human life as best as we can, and fill it with humans, right? It’s just colony building in a very confined space.” She grins at her fellow patients. “We can do confined spaces, right, boys?”

Denish grins. Adin chuckles a little. It must be some inside joke that they established while I was out of the room.

I leave them to adjust. The three newcomers will probably be in bed for a few days, if the doctor is right about a longer recover period, and the doctor will have its hands full looking after them. Therefore, all the general maintenance duties will probably fall to me for a few days. For the moment, I make myself a fresh coffee (by which I mean a new cup from stale ingredients) and find a computer terminal.

List the current active crew of the courageous.

– Courageous active crew :– –

– Captain: Doctor Aspen Greaves –

– Logistics officer: Tinera Li Null

– Senior Psychologist: Doctor Aspen Greaves –

– Assistant Psychologist: Denish Calhurn

– Senior Navigator and Astroanalyst: Doctor Aspen Greaves –

Senior Computer Technician: Denish Calhurn

Secondary Analyst and Computer Technician: Public Universal Friend 2

– Senior Medical Officer: Public Universal Friend 2 –

– Secondary Medical Officer: Tinera Li Null

– Senior Engineer: Denish Calhurn

– Primary Assistant Engineer: Tinera Li Null

– Secondary Assistant Engineer: Doctor Aspen Greaves –

– Senior Gardener: Doctor Aspen Greaves –

– Assistant Gardener: Public Universal Friend 2

– Science Officer: Public Universal Friend 2 –

– Primary Assistant Science Officer: Doctor Aspen Greaves –

– Secondary Assistant Science Officer: Adin Klees

– Senior Maintenance Officer: Adin Klees

– Primary Assistant Maintenance Officer: Tinera Li Null

– Secondary Assistant Maintenance Officer: Public Universal Friend 2

– Tertiary Assistant Maintenance Officer: Denish Calhurn

Okay. So we have a human service cultist doctor, an engineer who isn’t fluent in the interlingua, a one-eared spitfire Lunari with one working hand in charge of logistics, and a guy who I’m pretty sure is a Texan convict (although I no longer have permissions to look that information up in the system), under the leadership of a slightly notorious pop sociology book author, travelling in a broken ship in deep space.

Surely, this will go well.

I feel like I should prepare for the new crew somehow, but honestly, there isn’t that much to do. I move the body I left in CR5 into the freezer and look for some general tidying up tasks, but the Public Universal Friend tends to keep our living spaces pretty clean as a matter of course. I could cook, or something? No. The Friend is still on the post-chronostasis broth-and-goo diet, and the new crewmates have just woken up and won’t be able to tolerate solid food for a couple of weeks.

The greenhouses. I have vegetables growing in Greenhouse Ring 1 already, but if we’re going to fill this place up then I should probably get Greenhouse Ring 2 going as well. I should find out what plants my new crew like, and what they’re allergic to. I hope none of them are allergic to bees. Although, since we plan to fill this ship with as many colonists as possible, somebody’s probably going to be allergic to bees. Unfortunate, since people have to walk through the greenhouse rings to get around the ship, but we’ll figure it out.

We can make this work.

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