Last cord free, I wiggle my toes, just checking. I take off the loose chest strap and begin to float away from the cryo pod. The blue lights, the demon eyes of a space-born wolf, resolve into something simpler, more mundane. Two illuminated bathroom signs off in the distance, both pointing to one co-ed bathroom. Normally when I wake up, I have to pee, but I don’t have to pee now.
A few things register briefly in my mind. The air tastes stale, like hundreds of years of stale, not that I would have direct experience with that. It’s also hot. Not unbearable but upper 20s Celsius or 80s for those Fahrenheit lovers out there. Both symptoms of a failing life-support system. Improper circulation and improper cooling.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s cooling not heating that is often the problem with operating space vessels, especially something large like The Dreamer. You have machinery, computers, body heat, and in our case RTGs up against the hull, and two fusion reactors jutting out our backside that all generate heat. The best insulator is a good vacuum, and it doesn’t get much better than deep space. Heat is just wiggling particles, and the easiest way to get rid of some of that wiggle is to transfer it to other particles. Particles you don’t care about. Problem is, space has an utter lack of particles. To dump that excess wiggle, you need large radiators that can transfer as much heat as possible to any particles they can find. Space still has stuff in it, just not a lot. It’s better when you’re in a star system but in between it can get rough.
At least the air was breathable for now. Remember your training. Remember your training. Remember your training. In the event that you are woken early due to life-support system issues, the computer won’t awaken many. In all likelihood, until the issue is addressed your air supply will be limited to what’s currently on the ship. The fewer people that can be brought out of cryo in this event, the more time you will have to fix the issue. However, circulation is important. In zero gravity, it’s very easy to suffocate yourself in one room while there’s breathable air sitting in the next.
“Okay,” I think to myself. “Circulation first. Plenty of air to breath if I can just keep it moving. Then heat. Oxygen is no good if I’m being cooked alive. We will worry about scrubbing CO2 last.”
“Are you coming yet?” The voice barks from the pod.
“Can you turn on a light so I can find my way to life support?” But for those two illuminated signs, everything is dark. It shouldn’t be this way. Remember your training. Remember your training. Remember your training. Even in an emergency, the emergency lights should kick on. With our RTGs and the twin fusion reactors pumping out gobs of power, saving energy shouldn’t really be necessary. I know that much because power systems and life support systems go hand in hand.
“Life support? No, I need you in the bridge, and I don’t have a light to spare,” he barks, clearly irritated with me.