Author : V.L.Ilian
“Linda Kroen! 155013! Report for duty”
Linda didn’t exactly know why the crystalline voice of the ship AI was blaring her name but she wasn’t going to answer. It’s her day off.
“Linda Kroen! It is estimated you only have 135 minutes until you expire. Report for duty!”
The impulses signaling the importance of the message and the impulse signaling that her mouth is full of blood were simultaneously received by Linda’s brain.
Stumbling out of bed she fell on the cold metal floor. She had sprayed blood all over while gasping for air but the room still looked sterile.
Her radiation meter tattoo was black. The little patch of skin almost looked burned with a laser.
“You’ve been exposed to lethal doses of radiation. You must make your way to the auxiliary bridge”
“WHY? Where’s the captain?”
“You are acting captain”
“I’m a level 2 tech!”
“Linda Kroen 155013: promoted to acting field captain by automated succession order on 27 Feb ‘47”
“That’s today. Wher…” As she stood up her lungs filled and she coughed another spray of blood on the wall.
“Ok… Situation report.”
“Aces..Ac…Ac” The voice of the AI reverbed as if caught in an infinite loop. “Information limited. Data corruption. Sensor data shows extreme radiation spike approximately 2 hours ago. Uncorrupted log information begins 27 minutes ago as follows:
– Cpt. Musa deceased, replacement not mentioned
– automated succession order comes into effect. Linda Kroen 155013 selected.
– Cpt. Kroen’s lifesigns fluctuating. Life expectancy: 14 minutes. Medical staff not available. Stimulants administered through ventilation. Massive internal bleeding probable. New life expectancy: 160 minutes
– assessment of ship status begins
– large sections of hull missing”
“You pumped me full of damn stims to wake me up? That’s why I’m bleeding from every pore.”
“Your condition was critical captain”
“This doesn’t make sense… the succession order goes by rank there are hundreds of people above me and… everybody’s dead.”
“Linda Kroen 155013 is the highest ranking living crewmember. You must proceed to the auxiliary bridge to enable the main cannon.”
The new captain had already stepped out of the room leaving bloody footprints on the cold floor. Her heart was pounding, her eyes were sore but she was unfazed. Bodies littered the corridors.
“Why am I still alive?”
“You requested sick leave. That automatically creates a septic field in your quarters. Combined with your documented higher resistance to radiation it was enough to lower your exposure to the event. Next corridor, enter the lift.”
As Linda neared the lift its vents hissed open and flooded her senses with an electric feeling. The lift whirred down.
The doors opened and a body fell. The sound of his head hitting the metal floor seemed interesting to Linda. Vents hissed again in the corridor making her feel better.
Skipping her way to the next lift she started thinking how cool it will be to tell her friends how fast she made captain. Rubbing the black tattoo on her arm and seeing everyone else’s was the same she spit out some blood.
The lift took her directly to auxiliary command. As soon as the doors opened she jumped into the swivel chair of the captain. Something snapped at landing but Linda was enjoying too much to notice.
“Take a note! Effective tomorrow everybody can customize his or her tattoo.”
“Acknowledged. Please authorize AI control of main canon.”
“Who are we firing at again?”
Linda logged into the console and switched all control options to AI.
The vents hissed loudly letting in welcomed euphoria. Captain Linda Kroen reclined, twirling, with a smirk on her face, as tears of blood ran from her eyes.
“Stims are great…”
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