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mcgrew's Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Fourteen

Journal by mcgrew

Fusion
As I was floating back to the pilot room, Tammy was waiting outside her quarters, hanging from the doorway with one hand. "Is Destiny OK?" she said with a worried tone.

"She will be," I said. "A little anoxia." They'd warned us about anoxia in Captain's training and I'd seen it before. "She's in the infirmary getting oxygen. You can see her if you want but she was still unconscious when the robot took her."

"Thanks. I would have thought you'd have stayed with her."

"God knows I'd like nothing better, but I have to make sure we get to Mars alive. We're off course and I have to inspect the ship to make sure it isn't about to blow up or anything. Look, I gotta go," I said as I continued to the pilot room.

We were even farther off course than I'd feared. Now it was a matter of juggling speed and fuel usage to the company's specifications.

Back in the old days, way before my time, these boats weren't so automated. Crews were human rather than robot, and the Captain had to calculate all this stuff by hand, with their primitive computers helping.

Captains had to go to college back then, and some of the crew, too. The Captain had to figure out all that shit almost by hand; he needed to know calculus. Hell, I ain't even took algebra even though I could have in high school.

I made the adjustments the computer read out, and we had gravity again and were going the right way. I didn't look at what gravity was, and it was hard to tell since we'd been so heavy before weightlessness.

The empty crew's quarters were first, then cargo pens. I wondered why they call them that.

"Who is it?" a voice said at my knock. Presumably Kathy, which was the name on the doorplate.

"Captain Knolls. Ship inspection, you girls should be used to this by now."

"Yeah? You should be used to us telling you to fuck off, too."

"Door, open. I can lock you up any time I want, you know. I don't even need no excuse."

"I ain't got no drops, bitch."

I suddenly realized why they called them "pens". They were designed to house any species of animal, and a word Destiny had teased me for using came to mind.

Feral. From what I'd read of Tammy's book, some of these whores were more animal than human, especially when they didn't get their drops. It had driven Billie wild enough that she'd wound up blowing her quarters up, with her in it.

I sighed. "I hope you're lying. From what I found out I'm better off when you have them."

"Well, cough 'em up, Joe!"

I laughed, and replied "I ain't got no drops, bitch!"

I did wonder why they hadn't run out. Where were they getting them? They shouldn't have been able to get them onto the boat in the first place.

Billie's quarters were next. She, along with some fifty odd fellow cargo were confined for the duration. Of course, I just opened the door and entered, taser in hand. This would have been a "brig" back when Captains had diplomas.

The robots had done a good job, but they always did. Except for making coffee. They suck at that. But you couldn't tell that she'd almost burned to death. Well, except that her hair was really short and frizzly.

"Inspection."

"I ain't got no drops, bitch."

"Whatever," I sighed, and inspected the quarters. It was obvious she was lying, her eyes gave her away. I wondered again where the drops were coming from.

After hearing "I ain't got no drops, bitch" so many times I didn't even hear it any more I went to inspect the infirmary, the one part of the inspection I looked forward to. I wanted to see how Destiny was.

Tammy was sitting there talking with her. "John!" Destiny said. "Tammy told me you saved my life."

I blushed, and grinned sheepishly. "It's my job."

Tammy laughed. "Bullshit, any other 'cargo' wouldn't have made it. Destiny almost died, and she would have if you weren't moving so frantically. God but you're fast!"

Destiny pulled me close and kissed me. "Thanks, Johnnie," she whispered, then said in a normal voice "go ahead and finish your inspection, I should be able to go home in half an hour. I'll meet you there."

I walked back to the starboard generator and wondered why in the hell I had to do this. I mean, I don't know anything about a fusion generator. There was a stairway to get there, as the generators and engines were on the "bottom" of the boat. It was the "bottom" because the ion engines pushing against the ship pushed everything else the other way. Something about "three laws of thermoses" or something but I think I was hung over that morning's training and don't really remember. Something about actions and opposite reactions or something.

I went over the checklist and checked the first engine. These things were huge and there were a lot of them. A hell of a lot of electricity went through those things.

I had two more engines to go when an alarm went off. "Damned whores, not now!" I thought.

But it wasn't the whores, it was the port generator and I couldn't get in; the computer said it was an inferno in there. Hell, that damned thing should have shut down automatically. I pulled the breaker and there was a sort of thump. Damn. Another trip to the pilot room, we were going to be off course again.

It would have to cool before the robots could start repairing it, if it was repairable at all. Damn, if the other generator went out...

I called Destiny. "Honey, I'm really sorry but this is going to take a while."

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Mars, Ho! Chapter Fourteen

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