Flash Fiction Challenge – Mr. Fix-It
Yep, another challenge, another flash fix. Enjoy!
“Hull breach in sector 8-A,” the computer reported in its calm voice, as tremors shook the space station like a rattle. Elon scrambled onto his feet, and was helped by Slo-Mo, the station robot. Slo-Mo – called Slom by Elon, since Slo-Mo was not only an incorrect designation, but also a little bit racist – was a Mark IX design, meaning he looked almost human, but not quite. Hair couldn’t be replicated in a useful way, so rather than deal with that, the top of his head was covered with a chromed tritanium plate that looked like the sleekest of safety helmets, and it could in fact take a metric ton of impact with no appreciable damage. Although hidden beneath a loose green coverall, it was still possible to make out his square, un-humanoid torso, and the skeletal joints of his arms and legs, which were not covered with synthflesh.
“Come on,” Slom said. “We’ll take the experimental shuttle.”
“What? You have to have executive clearance. I don’t have that.” As a lowly repair tech, he had to get approval from his supervisor to work on anything above Gamma clearance.
“I know the codes,” Slom said. He touched an access panel, letting the synthflesh retract from his fingertip to reveal a connector, which he slipped into a port. After several seconds of blinking lights, they turned solid green, and an emergency bulkhead slammed down behind them, sealing them away from the outer hull sections, all of which were falling, deck by deck, to the attack of the Thuulians.
“But use them even though I don’t have the right clearance?”
“Irrelevant. Saving a human life is my paramount obligation.”
Elon feared he and Slom might have been the only things still alive on the station, and that was simply due to a stroke of luck. They were working on shielding for a new solar probe, putting them in an interior workspace that was isolated from the rest of the station by simple necessity. By the time they registered the emergency klaxons, the Captain was already issuing evacuation orders. Or at least was trying to, before command was breached.
Slom steadied him as they went through the airlock, and Slom input the code, so the metal security door irised open and let them inside. The experimental shuttle was larger than most, with a sleek new design, as well as the brand new slipstream drive. Now Elon hoped it actually worked and didn’t do something unexpected, such as blow up the shuttle, but there wasn’t much choice in the matter. It was die with the station, or take a chance on this.
Of course, Elon had no idea how to fly it. He could activate the main panel, maybe turn on the auto-pilot, but he could never go to manual, because he never trained for it. He sat in the co-pilot’s chair, and the safety webbing automatically tightened around him. “I suppose you know how to fly this thing, right?”
Slom eased into the pilot’s seat as the station was rocked once more. To be honest, Elon had no idea how they were still alive. Dumb luck could only get you so far. “I’m instrument rated for all vessels,” Slom reported, as he plugged his finger into the console. The engines hummed to life as part of the exterior shuttle bay suddenly crumpled and was torn away like paper as the Thuulians continued their assault.
The shuttle rose smoothly, and flew straight out the brand new hole in the wall.
A square lit up on the control panel. “We’re being targeted by the Thuulians.”
“Opening a channel to the Thuulians,” Slow reported.
“What? What good will that do?” Not much was known about the Thuulians, except they were rampant xenophobes. They didn’t like talking to Humans. But killing humans? That was a hobby.
Elon watched the readouts on the console with growing surprise. “The Thuulians have cut engines … they’re ceasing pursuit. What the hell ..?”
“I transmitted a weaponized computer virus,” Slom reported. “It shouldn’t effect their systems for long, but should give us enough time to get out of here.”
“We have weaponized computer viruses?” Slom was a treasure trove of stuff he didn’t know. The perks of being the station robot, he supposed.
The shuttle vibrated as the slipstream drive started up, and then there was a one second pause, like time itself had stopped. When it started again, Elon was thrown against his safety webbing.
“Slipstream drive successfully engaged,” Slom reported, unplugging his finger from the console. “We are now in the Persei segment of the galaxy, ETA at Huron Station twenty eight minutes, thirty three seconds.”
“Wow.” He’d survived the station attack and the experimental slipstream drive. Considering all the death and destruction, it was weird to think it was his lucky day, but it kind of was. Thanks to Slom.
Slom finished putting the autopilot on the correct vector, and then turned to him. “Are you all right, Elon?”
“I’m fine. Nothing hit me.”
“I didn’t mean physically. Emotionally, you have been very down lately. This could not have helped.”
He knew they’d been trying to enhance the emotional intelligence of the robots, but he had no idea they’d gotten this far. “Well, I got dumped. It’s hard not to be down when that happens.”
Slom suddenly leaned over and kissed him, his slightly rubbery lips cold but not entirely unpleasant. “You have always been my favorite technician, Elon.”
Holy shit. Could Slom mend broken hearts as well? He was one sophisticated piece of machinery.
Trope: Do-Everything Robot