S0E1, Part One

23:59 Sun 06 Nov 2011
[, , ]

She couldn’t hear the evacuation sirens, but her retina display told her they were sounding. The crew of Circus Catch should be rushing around, following their evac drill, and the command staff should be preparing to abandon and scuttle.

She, however, had to remain still, reining in her adrenaline, clinging to the outside of the hull.

She was impatient, and time passed slowly. Eventually, the deadline arrived. She gave it ten more seconds, then opened the airlock next to her. This would cause alerts on the bridge, but at this point there shouldn’t have been anyone left to see it, and the command staff should have have been too busy to notice a minor notification in the midst of evacuation. At least, that was the plan.

She climbed into the airlock and closed the outer door, waited for pressurization, adjusted to the feeling of gravity again, and opened the inner door. Nobody shot at her. Light in the corridor alternated between white and red, and she could hear the sirens now, through her suit. She checked, again, to make sure she had covered all possible identification markers, and indeed her insignia and name were still taped over.

She looked up, and someone ran by, far off down the corridor, without glancing in her direction. The countdown was at 500.

She didn’t have that long; her personal countdown was about 380, and she jogged down the corridor. Fast, but with enough control that she wouldn’t run right into anyone who appeared in front of her.

She resisted the urge to take out her gun. She didn’t want it to come to that.

She reached the junction where she’d seen the runner. Left and right, there was no-one. She went left, becoming more nervous as she approached the bridge. What if some of the command staff had refused to leave, determined to heroically keep trying to bring the warp drive back online until the end? Too late to worry about that. But the worry made her take out her gun.

The bridge was sealed, but she had the overrides. The door opened to reveal an absence of command staff. The panels were mostly dark, and those that weren’t displayed the countdown.

415 seconds.

Her access codes worked. The first task, cutting outbound communications, was more complicated than it sounds. She wanted all distant communications to go dark, but didn’t want any of the crew notified of this, and wanted the ship’s internal network to appear unaffected. Still, that was merely a question of stopping the right daemons in the right order, and she did so.

380 seconds.

Some of the commands she was running required brief pauses for execution. During those pauses, she became aware of how she was compartmentalizing.

She had long ago discovered that the only way to really get things done was to separate and sequester various aspects of her self. Otherwise, the noise impeded action too much. Or the need to do distracted thinking too much. Eliminating or ignoring the extraneous aspects, for example via meditation, never really worked for her. The approach she took instead was to think of them as foreground and background, with only one allowed in the foreground at a time. At this point, naturally, what she thought of as her implementation self was in the foreground. The stress of what she was doing had pushed the background far away—stress achieving what meditation never did—but this was always just temporary, and now she could hear the other selves. The self that questioned the sanity of the plan and its creator; the self that wondered what people would think if they found out; the self that really very strongly felt that taking time to think things through was critically important right now; the self that was shouting about being on the bridge of a ship that was going to explosively cease to exist in 375 seconds. Later, she thought. They could have the foreground later. But she recognized the signs of high stress and reminded herself to provide as much margin as possible and to not rush beyond the point that was absolutely necessary.

370 seconds.

With outbound communications cut, she also started the process of wholesale log erasure. As Circus Catch was set to explode quite soon, that might have been overkill, but she’d come up with scenarios where it would make a difference. So it was part of the plan, implementation self pointed out, and went ahead with it, also informing second-guessing self that it didn’t have the floor right now.

One of the shuttles took off. She was a little surprised, having not expected them to start leaving for about another 30 seconds. She was impressed with the efficiency of whoever was on it, but slightly concerned about this bringing forward her own schedule. The plan did cover this, however, so she took the time to execute another program, one that would stall the final shuttle with a variety of minor technical glitches.

350 seconds, and the next part was tricky. She had her doubts about how accurate the simulations had been, but this was the only way to find out. She wanted a part of the ship that was only supposed to be decoupled from the rest under certain conditions, and “about to self-destruct” wasn’t one of them (somewhat illogically, she thought). So the programs she was running were supposed to persuade the ship that certain parts of it had been shut down, and that this meant it was fine to accede to her request. This was made easier by the fact that many of the ship’s functions actually had been shut down already. Still, there were some decisions to be made here, and some disturbing delays while the ship’s systems initially refused to cooperate.

The plan said it should be possible to manage without shutting down internal communications, and she very much wanted to follow the plan. This meant taking a little longer than the plan allowed, but she thought it was within acceptable margins, and with 280 seconds remaining, she was able to get what she wanted to emerge from the floor of the bridge, and to take it without anything going haywire.

« (previous)

Leave a Reply