Chapter 1: Remember Your Training

Part 8

I jump to a different menu something about controls, just to see if there’s any listing of those landing thrusters. There they are! Hypergolic Thrusters 1 through 27, status nominal. Nominal is good. Or at least as good as a report as you can expect from a computer.

Hypergolic thrusters are pretty reliable so long as you can handle the toxic and corrosive liquids necessary for them. Essentially you have a fuel and an oxidizer, and when combined they need nothing to get the party started. No ignitors necessary. However, you still have to pump the shit. It’s good to see that they were operable, but do we have enough power to operate them? How much power do the hypergolic pumps on an interstellar vessel require to land?

In my grand wisdom, I have no idea.

Mr. Military grabs a terminal of his own and starts plucking away, and the ship jumps and jostles. Mr. Military brings up an exterior display on two giant screens that I didn’t even know were there. Fire streaking by the cameras is all that could be seen, but fire was part of the plan. Fire is just kinetic energy turning into heat. If we turn it into heat to fast, we burn, if we do it to slow, we crash. Everything in space travel is a balance. It’s very Zen like that, only on the other side of Zen, is death.

“Shut that shit off,” I shout with more forcefulness than I knew I had.

I tap a few more menus, trying to get to something about power. I knew what was generating power, but I don’t know what is consuming it other than those big fucking screens muscle head just turned on.

“We need to be apprised of our situation.” Mr. Military said with more calm than I could muster.

“No,” I said, surprising myself again. “We have no control. That’s the computer. We can’t react to anything on those screens. We need to make sure we can land.” I click into another screen, exactly what I want to see, and yet not what I want to see. “We’re consuming just under a megawatt of power, see.” I point to the flickering numbers on the screen. “That’s also how much we’re producing. We need to cut power wherever we can or those thrusters we need to land aren’t going to have enough juice to fire.”

His face goes from smug, to concerned. I click deeper into the menu and come to a list. It’s what I need. A list of everything that is consuming. The list has many power offenders on it including cryo pods, reserve lighting, various terminals, CO2 scrubbers, radiation mitigation, thermal management, and the list goes on. One system that is particularly frightening is the cold gas thrusters. They are already fighting for power. These little thrusters are responsible for controlling the attitude of the ship. Once again, very simple. They don’t use a lot of power, but they are still suffering from our crippled power system.

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