Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 13: Safeguarding Ohnsy’s Ward

Link to part 1

Link to part 12

The body of the starship Silver Pod manifested a mathematically exquisite ellipsoid, which caressed the golden ratio and teased at shapes emotionally buried deep in the human hind-brain. Some might call it egg-shaped, but Ohnsy would not.

The ship’s seamless hull shined like chrome though the illusion was cast by a metallic-looking, non-stick, low-friction polymer. The Silver Pod could glide through atmosphere as smoothly as void. Three aquiline fins tapering to sharp points appeared to support the weight of the ship on its landing pad, but passive anti-gravity inside the ship carried most of the ship’s weight.

The Silver Pod’s interior was a work of art. Perish the thought of cramped corridors reminiscent of submarines. Banish from mind the coarse vision of zero-gravity webbing and anti-spalling coating. Wake from a nightmare of industrial grating and barren grays. Laugh in the face of ladders and service elevators. Instead envision spiral staircases woven with vines. Invoke high technology with glass platforms and chrome surfaces, but hold tight to life and art with green shocks of plants, alcoves cupping marble statues of the human form, and bursts of warm light shining through stained glass. Attune to patterns with black and white checkerboard tiles on decks three through five and diverse Arabic geometric tiling on decks six through twelve.

Ohnsy would have delighted in giving a tour as long as the tourists had first removed their shoes, agreed not to touch anything with their greasy fingers, and been promptly escorted off the ship by security bots as soon as the tour ended.

The man that approached Silver Pod was not the sort of clientele Ohnsy had in mind. He pushed a hovering box ahead of him, leaning on the box for support and making it wobble as he limped forward. His tan pants flapped in the breeze, baggy around his stick legs, yet the too narrow waist squeezed his pudge into a bubble. Ohnsy narrowed her eyes. The reactive glass zoomed in. From a kilometer out Ohnsy saw the sweat beading on his forehead.

She recognized him as one of a pair she’d seen earlier. The other person waited and watched from a distance alongside another who had joined their group. Ohnsy didn’t like it. If their number continued growing additively that was no problem, but if the growth was exponential, there would be hundreds of thousands of them by month’s end.

The sight of people wandering about had prompted her to run security diagnostics early. Silver Pod was ready to repel any attempt at boarding. Ohnsy wondered, however, if she should take pre-emptive action. The ship’s seamless hull was seamless in appearance only. Retractable weapons both large and small could be deployed in moments.

Ohnsy decided that she would deploy anti-personnel turrets when the man came within one hundred meters of the ship. The moment came and went. There could be no doubt now that the man with his limp and his box were headed straight for Silver Pod, her ward. It was her sworn duty to protect the ship until its master returned. Yet she hesitated.

Questions tied up her mind in knots. What does he want? What if he knows something about Silver Pod’s master? Shouldn’t she trust in Silver Pod’s armor? What if aggression on her part prompted retaliation?

The pudgy man stepped on to Silver Pod’s gantry. He hefted himself up with one arm on the railing, the other on his strange box. The box. How could she be so neglectful? Ohnsy was about to focus all of Silver Pod’s sensors on the box when the man spoke.

“Hello?” he yelled gruffly. “Is anyone home?” His voice carried to her through hidden receivers in the hull as if there was nothing but a few meters of air between them instead of an armored hull currently serving as a one-way mirror.

“You’re in danger,” he said.

Ice ran up Ohnsy’s spine.

The man pointed at the crashed ship in the direction he had come. “The reactor’s compromised. That ship’s going to explode.”

Ohnsy re-targeted her sensors on the crashed ship. With a sub-vocal command she even linked up with a satellite, bringing its eyes to bear. A hole on the far side of the crashed ship spewed gamma rays, liquid metal ran in rivulets from the hole, tongues of flame lapping at the air when the heat found organic matter. The hull temperature had risen multiple degrees.

Ohnsy’s heart fluttered. The ugly, trespassing man was right.

“We, my friends and I, would like to be let in so we can all leave. We have supplies if you need repairs.” He patted his box.

Ohnsy laughed a single, sharp bark of a laugh. Silver Pod was in excellent working order. She would never have let it become otherwise. The sound of her laugh found no answer in the empty halls of the ship. The silence that had been so comfortable to her for so long turned oppressive. She alone had to make a decision for the ship. She wondered what the master would want her to do.

“Ok, um. While you’re thinking it over I’ll just leave this here.” The man disabled the box’s anti-gravity. It floated down to rest on the third story of the gantry beside the ship.

Ohnsy ignored him. Orbit would be safe. She decided she would take the ship into orbit, wait for the crashed ship to explode then return to the landing pad, or near as possible depending on the magnitude of the blast, then continue to wait for the ship’s master to return.

These three vagabonds would have to find their own way off planet. She watched the man clumsily descend the gantry with relief soothing her muscles. She had a plan and felt confident that it was the right thing for a good maintenance worker to do.

Link to part 14


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