Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Goetia," Patience, pt. 9, 410 words

Once her drone is finished, Sitri pulls on a pressure suit and drops some extra instructions into her printer. She also uploads a self-destructing virus into the ship: it temporarily lobotomizes the security and damage control systems, disabling the ship's repair bots and cameras while leaving everything else intact. By the time The Sanity Box is ready to shove off, the virus will have looped a carefully-sampled video of Sitri's routine work during an asteroid survey, wiped its presence clean from the ship logs, and unwound itself into incoherent data no different from any other blank sector on the hard drive. The virus is a special job done up by Purson (legal name: Roza Zajac; born 2032 CE; arrest record sealed upon achieving age of majority), one of the Goetia and the best programmer Sitri has ever met. She has every confidence it will work as advertised.

Sitri doesn't much enjoy the numb, distant feeling of wearing the pressure suit, but for the next few hours it's a necessity. She has a few tools in her personal cargo, and pulls them out – with the printer and these tools, she's on record as enjoying a little hands-on artwork of the destructive sort. Everything went back into the alchemy tanks when she was done, the overall expense negligible enough that StarGen overlooks whatever she does with “their” matter.

They wouldn't overlook this, though, and for that she silently thanks Purson once more and takes the cutting torch to a bulkhead. On the other side of several vacuum-sealed layers rests a simple launch tube, a makeshift railgun composed of a set of magnetic coils and a battery charged with enough power for a single shot. A small probe sits nestled in the works, loaded every twenty hours with a back-up of ship data and an emergency beacon. A shielded outer shell keeps the magnetic pulse from scrambling the probe on launch, and is promptly discarded via explosive bolt once it clears half a klick.

In case the Joyeuse is disabled or severely damaged without being destroyed outright, the railgun spits the probe sunward, whence it begins blatting to StarGen about the loss of the ship. There's honestly no hope that anyone could get to the Joyeuse in time to rescue Sitri, but StarGen could sling an unmanned probe on an intercept close enough for the black box to securely squirt its data before falling into Sol or some other gravity well.

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