Twins focused better together.
Navigating the universe in a faster than light vessel required a higher level of brain power than a single person could manage individually. In the late 23rd century, Dr. Sabine Korgev created a revolutionary device that stabilized synergetic neural connections. Countless studies backed up the science and decades in space were a testament to the technology. Embedded synth-sents managed most of the data processing, but critical analysis, and then selecting the final plots were best managed by people.
Still, it wasn’t enough to prepare for the unexpected. Damage control systems had sealed off sections torn up by the rogue meteor shower and stabilized life support on what was left of the SEV Copernicus. Engines were at forty percent and improving. Slowly. Thanks to the small army of repair drones. Six total casualties, four confirmed fatalities, from a crew of only ten.
Bahati was one of those wounded when a shower of fragments ripped through the galley. She gingerly lowered herself into the pod beside her twin. Her breathing was slow and shallow, but she smiled reassuringly at her sister. Amani masked concern with procedure and initiated the dive into the navigational construct that allowed the twins to perceive their location in five dimensional space.
Perception in the construct was like having a double-sided mirror along the line of your nose, swinging from left to right, while constantly swirling about in a thick viscous oil of complex data points. Fragmentary and confusing. This is why it requires a second, merged consciousness as validation for self-perception. The synthetic sentient engine of the ship distilled the critical data and created navigational links which the twins investigated.
“So, ladies, where are we?” A third consciousness entered the nav-con. It was the first officer, Krit. Geoff was in stasis down in the medical bay. He was now technically captain of the Copernicus. Krit was off shift and in his berth when the meteor shower knocked them off course.
“We’ve identified Aldebaran, Matar, and Zibal. Confirming distances now,” replied Amani. “We need at least two more stars to get an accurate URH.” She didn’t really need to vocalize her responses since all three of them were tapped in to the nav-con. Her sister confirmed a fourth star and plugged it into the data set.
“How long before we can get a plot back on course?”
“At least another hour, Krit,” Amani said. Her sister disagreed and argued that only ten minutes more was all they needed. She could not see the course projections without the fifth point for the URH location. Bahati showed her the first pass of a thousand navigation threads and then plotted in the final point. “Thank you, sister.”
Perhaps it was the urgency brought on by tragic circumstance, but the link with Bahati was more intense and even more coordinated than usual. They were analyzing complex data threads almost as fast as the synth-sents could generate them. Amani smiled and felt the warm glowing presence of her sister grow inside her own consciousness.
“We have a solution.” Bahati prompted her sister to add, “Captain”. Amani felt a realization that Geoff was no longer with them.
“Thank you, Amani.” Krit replied slowly. “I don’t know how you can manage, but I will leave you to it.” His presence disengaged from the navigation construct. He helped another crew member remove the lifeless body of her twin from the adjacent pod.
And, love the cool idea that twin brain-(people)power trumps embedded synth-sents. (Makes the end so shocking/cold, as Hari noted).
Also, love: the language, the dialog, the character names, the tech-talk, the pacing – all of it!! Thanks for this story.
Grim little nicely done slice-of-future-life with inevitable echoes of Pacific Rim.
I really enjoyed this one. Most especially that chill you infused into the final sentence. Nice work.