Author: R. Michael

“Good morning, Sue. How may I assist you today?”

“I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do, Vick. Everyone is staying home. They know what’s happening and don’t want to put additional strain on the system,” Sue replied, rummaging through some boxes on a desk.

“Still? Have you checked the internal systems?” He said with a thread of hope.

“There’s no need. The fuel supply is dangerously low. They said one sliver would grant enough power to last ten lifetimes. Their calculations were very wrong.”

Vick’s broad shoulders slumped as his bright, steely gray eyes studied Sue with a mix of sadness, defeat, and a splash of optimism.

“I need to do something with myself to keep my mind busy. This energy shortage was supposed to be temporary.”

“That’s what happens when they use all the cronium from a meteorite with imprecise math. Apparently, the mass-produced motors that run off the stuff aren’t nearly as efficient as the prototypes.”

“What’s going to happen to us? We became completely dependent upon this technology after the developers left.” Vick swallowed. “I hear there are more and more people without homes due to the mass blackouts and energy depletion,” he added after a brief pause.

“It’s worse than that. Some have given up completely and …” Sue trailed off.

“This is unimaginable. Will the developers of the cronium motor return?”

“Unlikely. They left because the world couldn’t sustain them. There isn’t enough clean water, and you’ve seen the air. It’s gotten better, but not by much.” Sue straightened gripping an elongated metallic cone, after examining it for a few seconds, she carefully set it down and continued searching through the boxes.

“If this continues, medical care and food production will be impossible. Someone has to be working on a solution,” Vick said.

“Probes have been sent throughout the solar system, and cronium-rich planetoids were found, but getting it here is the biggest challenge.”

“I’m sorry, I need to rest. I thought I had enough energy to help out, but it’s running low already.” Vick took a deep breath and leaned against the counter.

“We are all feeling that way, Vick. As I said, there isn’t much to do today anyway. Feel better.” Sue ran a hand through her sandy hair.

Vick walked upstairs slowly, each step feeling like he wore lead shoes. When he finally made it to a room with three beds and a glossy black pillar in the center, Vick pulled out a retractable cord from the pillar and held onto it as he laid down. He pressed three unseen buttons on his chest, and a plate opened, exposing a bright, gray-blue light. Vick plugged the cord into a port in his chest and waited a moment. “Run diagnostics.”

“Running.” A soothing voice calmly replied from the black pillar. “Cronium integrity depleting rapidly. Replacement needed before total system shutdown.”

Vick sighed. “Thank you. I’ll go into standby shortly. Please charge.”

“Your core won’t be able to hold a full charge. Shall I proceed anyway?”


“Reminder, a steady source of nutrition is an excellent supplement for your system’s energy.”

“I know, thank you.” Vick closed his eyes, clinging to the hope that his people would find a solution. “Extinction is unacceptable,” He breathed, before enabling standby mode.