Author: A. Zachary Spery

Seth was awakened. He felt oddly compelled to fix something. The computer began streaming information to him. Seconds ago, the sensors had recorded an unexpected collision. The colony ship was off course and tumbling. The Semi-sapient Emergency Troubleshooting Heuristic (S.E.T.H.) was activated to assess the situation and take corrective action to protect the cargo and mission.

Seth was a computer program. He didn’t feel like one. But it didn’t matter, he felt primally compelled to fix the ship. He had to fix it.

The ship’s course had deviated a bit and no longer intersected with the Proxima Centauri system. Some structural sensors showed section 3 was badly damaged and the section had depressurized. Cameras confirmed his suspicion, there was a gaping hole in the side of the ship. That was fine for now since all 1000 human colonists were asleep in their hibernation tubes. He dispatched repair drones to reseal the hull.

Seth deduced they had probably collided with a small mass no bigger than a marble. When you’re traveling at one percent of the speed of light, hitting such a mass was like getting hit by a small nuke.

There was insufficient fuel to correct their course and still decelerate into an orbit around Proxima. Seth taxed his neural algorithms for several hundred milliseconds to figure out a solution. The mission had to be saved or he could not bear existence. Perhaps some extraneous cargo could be ejected; less cargo means less fuel would be needed to return to course. Indeed any one of the four cargo modules could be detached and along with a brief engine burn they could return to an acceptable course to Proxima.

But which cargo pod to detach? Cargo pods one, two, and three all contained essential supplies for colonizing a new world. But cargo pod four only contained 1000 hibernation tubes which would have no value on the colony. Seth ejected cargo pod four, performed the engine burn and went back to sleep.