We’d been burning for a few weeks now, cruising at a cool 3/4 g through space towards an area between Uranus and Neptune. Something the scientists on the Dawson Trawler called the Yggdrasil portal. The name came from old Norse mythology; Yggdrasil was the world tree. A tree that connected all the worlds. That means it connected us to a lot of other solar systems. Once we passed through the portal, we’d be inside what was called The Trunk (whole lot of tree metaphors going on), and as we branched out to our destination, we’d get to New Helvetica, the planet we were going to colonize.
Now with that in mind, we picked up an escort from Mars, because, you know, space pirates. The escort gunships would take us from Mars to the gate, and that’d be it. The Dawson Trawler didn’t have guns on it, so we’d be defenceless without the Yul and the Yuriy. Mars was settled by Russians, the British, the Germans, and the Japanese, and these ships obviously came out of the Russian settlement.
Asher closed his logbook. He was supposed to be keeping track of the maintenance of the ship in there, but he’d taken to writing out a memoir instead. He stepped outside his cabin and walked down the hall when his terminal alerted him to an incoming message.
Boss, water valves in the reactor levels blew on the Yul. They’re requesting help. Cap says we’ve gotta suit up and fix it. Meet you at shuttle 18
Asher sighed. The Yul and the Yuriy broke down so much he figured he could build them from scratch. At the shuttle pad, he saw Darius already suited up for a walk on the outside. Asher began to suit up as well.
“Oh, those water valves,” Asher groaned.
“Yup,” Darius sighed, “Yul is so old, I think it was the one they took to Mars the first time.”
“How the hell is it going to defend us if it can’t even make a vector adjustment without a near-critical failure?”
“On a wing and a fuckin’ prayer,” Darius said, staring at the shuttle. He gestured to it, and Asher got in the driver’s seat and started the engine. He put in the calculations to line their shuttle up with the surface of the Yul and they launched.
“How you know how to fly?” Darius asked from the back of the shuttle, welding kit swinging by his knees.
“I used to be a private pilot for the Musk family back on earth,” Asher said, scanning the skin of the Yul looking for the damage. A red square outlining the damage site appeared on the screen, and Asher pressed it. The shuttle adjusted its course.
“Huh. How’d you move from pilot to engineer?”
“I was a jack-all on their ship. I flew, fixed, navigated, all that shit. They kept their personnel short, which kept me pretty busy,” Asher grit his teeth as he focused on landing the shuttle.
“How come you’re not Captain or FM on the ship then?”
“Only jobs available at the time were engineer positions. All the high ranking spots on the DT were taken by military anyway. I was just looking to get out of Sol system anyway.”
They disembarked from the shuttle and switched their mag boots on. The boots made a small chunk sound as they connected them to the steel skin of the Yul. Darius pointed out the location where steam was spraying from the ship. Asher realized Darius was speaking and turned on his radio.
“…can be tricky so watch out for the snakey parts,” Darius finished. Asher raised his hand and nodded his fist in the ASL “Yes” motion. They chunked their way over to the broken valves. Darius pulled out replacement piping and cut into the broken pipe, replacing it. Asher welded it shut. Darius plugged the hole so they could replace the other end of the hose, and finally the valve.
“So you wanted to get away from Earth too eh?” Darius finally asked as they worked.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the crew did.”
“Probably for the best. Everyone’s got a skeleton they’re hoping to drop at the portal,” Darius said matter-of-factly.
“Yup,” Darius said it with the subtext of ending the conversation there.
The two finished their work and began to head to the shuttle.
“Hey boss, you see that?” Darius pointed out in front of the ship. Maybe a million k away was a shimmering light.
“That one of ours?” Asher asked, squinting, and trying to magnify on his helmet’s camera.
On the magnified image, which wasn’t as magnified as he would have hoped, two smaller lights peeled off the larger shimmering light and began to grow brighter.
“Shit, Darius, I think something just shot torpedoes at us.”