Chapter 1: Remember Your Training

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Part 1

Remember your training. Remember your training. Remember your training. The chant runs through my mind. In training, they tell you to remain calm and collected while they are putting you under for cryo sleep. Getting excited, having too much on your mind, driving yourself crazy, will all lead to confusion upon waking. A calm traveler would be a useful traveler once the cryo pod brought you back to life.

In this moment, I cannot remain calm. I am a tech, and I know all the things that can go wrong. The cryo pod alone has thousands of systems and subroutines. Some failures can be mitigated, but a lot can happen in 400 years. The cryo pod isn’t the only thing that can go wrong either. The Dreamer, as our ship is called, is home to nearly 1,000 other sleepers. This means it’s real big, and a big ship is just asking to be hit by something or run into something else out in the depths of space. Even if it doesn’t get hit, hundreds of systems all have to be operable. All of them have to work right for 400 years.

The system can always wake a tech early, and that’s what’s going through my mind as I am trying to calm myself. Life support systems are my specialty. I like life. Or more accurately, I like being alive. But if the system decides that I should wake early, shit will likely be fucked, to put it bluntly.

Remember your training. Remember your training. Remember your training. Imagine waking up in a ship with lights flickering. The air smells sour because something went seriously wrong. Rotting bodies fester in malfunctioning cryo pods, and the life support system can’t keep up. Other techs are already trying to fix the pods. Trying to keep more from dying, but I have to keep the air breathable. I have to run passed all the bodies, hold my breath through the stink, and try to wrench on a system that I haven’t seen in hundreds of years. What if I forget how to fix it? What if I suffer mental damage? It’s not unheard of.

The computer voice rouses me from my waking nightmare. “Remain calm,” it says in vaguely feminine tones. The pod door slides shut with barely a sound. “Staying calm is important to your wellbeing upon waking.” Her voice is soothing, but the content of her robotic words brings me back to my nightmare. “Your blood pressure is elevated Mr. Deng.” No doubt she was right. She had cause to be right. Her electric fingers were plugged right into my central nervous system. Everything had to be monitored for proper cryo sleep. I could feel the little wires plugged in along my spine. These little ports had chances of infection after you woke up. They wouldn’t be infected now. Not with cryo sleep around the corner, but in the early days of cryo, people had been paralyzed. There’s always a chance.

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