Darkness Within (25): Helpers

(And now, we continue.)

The bytescanner sings in my ears, a song of disconnected network segments, lost packets, and failed rerouting attempts, interrupted by the few remaining segments of the ship’s mesh still on-line in the hulk of the aft section. Few were major nodes, most were isolated, and none of them, dammit, recognized my command-succession captainly ackles, which meant chewing through engineering diagnostic override codes at a snail’s pace.

Attitude control system command sequencer.

Life support auxiliary circuit B partial pressure intermix regulator.

Low power bus secondary transfer point, aft section.

Engineering light panel controller, main bus A.

Low-temp thermal control circuit C emergency pressure relief to space isolation valve.

Robot hotel –

Robot hotel!

A flurry of mental commands mapped a pathway of circuits that might be intact enough to carry current at least for a little while, and crammed amperage from the remaining aft accumulators into the hotel’s circuitry. With one thought, I commanded the space door of the hotel to open, and with another ran a quick inventory. Drones! Two perfect, lovely, beautiful, Sparks-class starship maintenance drones, polished octahedra with arcjets on their tips and a quartet of modular arms spaced around the multifunction toolbelts at their waists. Drones that, most importantly, still had power and were responsive to commands. It was the matter of a moment to unslave them from the unresponsive damage-control systems and merge minds…

…and the matter of some minutes for them to finish cutting their way out through the warped space door. But before long, my helpful assistants were hanging in space before me, a little battered-looking in the light from my helmet – one had even lost an arm entirely – but still entirely functional. Certainly enough so to save me from having to wield a hullcutter in an oxygen-soaked suit.

“Okay, boys,” I said to them. “Tear down that bulkhead, if you please.”


Darkness Within (24): Cutter

I frown at the vibration – almost a mechanical scream – of the reaction gyros against my back, then dismiss the thought. For certain, they are out of balance: holding this much mass on true means overdriving them, even if they haven’t been damaged by the collision. Nothing can be done; nothing to be done. As long as they hold long enough.

The vibration dies away as the candle completed its flip.



This doesn’t look good.

The module in the Nelyn when the impact occurred – well, it should have been a standard passenger/small freight loadout, but there’s no telling that now. Either – both – of the original impact or being dragged out of the bay has hammered it almost flat along most of its length. I can see the forward bulkhead of the engineering compartment for most of its height, torn away at its upper edge. A tangle of torn cables spill like water-serpents out of the broken-off upper conduit, and I hope the breakers have all opened cleanly. Erosion marks on the hull shows where pressurized tanks had broken open and vented to space.

A background clicking calls my attention to my suit’s rad-counter. In the green-caution [1] – significantly elevated over background, or what I’ve told it is the new background after accounting for the rads I’m riding. I squint at the forward ACS – enough to see a split in the case, and some reflections that might be spilled fuel pebbles. Low activity, scattered like that, but still best not to linger.

I flip open my local-space antenna, hook in, and start the bytescanner running. Dírasán’s staff, there has to be at least one functional node in this wreck. It’s no place to go poking around with a suit oxy-soaked and a body oxy-high…

[1] Green-caution, in this case, is that part on an Imperial gauge between blue-go and yellow-warning.

Nelyn-class Deck Plan

20150328_231228194_iOSBecause I couldn’t stop scribbling during my final formatting pass, okay?

Main hull:

1. Flight deck, right for’ard, and not on either of the decks strictly speaking, since it’s in the nose of the craft in what amounts to a transparent dome. The pilot’s command seat is, essentially, centered exactly on the fore-to-aft drive axis. Openings above and below provide access to both decks.

2. The common area, on the upper deck, ending in the for’ard upper level module access. Includes two stacked crew pods (a) to port, for the crew to sleep; a smart-table (b) for miscellaneous work, administration, and recreation purposes, and (c) a galley and fab unit to starboard…

3. …for’ard of the ‘fresher.

4. Most of the lower deck is a single compartment, which includes avionics equipment and canned life support (to starboard) and racked stowage space (to port), although most of the port side is taken up by…

5. …the airlock, an unusual three-door design that doubles as the for’ard lower level module access as well as the boarding airlock and an airlock providing convenient access to the module volume when no module is installed.

Engineering hull:

6. The airlock/aft lower level module access provides access to the engineering hull when no module is installed. It leads into…

7. The engineering section, which is primarily a single large chamber. The upper deck only exists as a catwalk running around the perimeter of the chamber, and the aft upper level module access is a simple spacetight door that cannot be opened when no module is installed. Primarily notable in the engineering section are (a) the vector control core and reaction wheels, (b) the port and starboard auxiliary power reactors, and (c) the robot hotel, with scuttle access to the propulsion bus for external maintenance mechs.

(Note: The Nelyn uses canned life support because it’s basically a local ship; the vast majority of them in use are not in roles that require them to ever venture very far from a source of resupply. Those who’d like to use their Nelyn for a long interplanetary or even interstellar voyage, on the other hand, aren’t left out; they can simply plug in the “accommodation” or “luxury suite” module, say, that by design comes with its own regenerative life support and possibly even hydroponics…)

Nelyn & Élyn

2015-03-27Usually I prefer to avoid inflicting my dire drawing skills upon y’all, but what the hell, I’ll make an exception this once.

The diagram to the right is my quick size sketch of the aforementioned Nelyn-class modular cutter (in blue) and the Élyn-class modular microcutter (in green).

As you can see, the Nelyn is the big one, inspired by/a harder version of the Traveller RPG’s modular cutter; an interplanetary craft that’s the workhorse of the Empire; 8 m in diameter, and 48 m long in total; an 8 m main hull at for’ard for the flight crew, the 16 m module space; a 4 m engineering hull for sensitive machinery; and the 16 m propulsion bus at the back. The module space is bridged by three trusses 120 degrees apart, the dorsal one of which is split in the middle and folds back to allow module swapout. And there are lots of different modules for pretty much any purpose you can think of.

The Élyn is the smaller one, only 4 m in diameter and with a 6 m hull (including engines), optionally taking a 6 m cylindrical module in a rear-mount. It’s strictly a local-orbit craft without interplanetary capability (although it is capable of take-off and landing on many planets) – but the reason it’s drawn where it is is that there is a Nelyn module specifically designed as a cradle for the Élyn, letting an entrepreneur with the former make pretty decent money providing a taxi service for the latter on long trips…