“Honeymooner’s disease,” said Laura, “tell Jimmy to give you a chance to toughen up.”
“What?” asked Leah, blushing all the way to her ears.
Laura rolled back from the stirrups of the exam table and stripped a latex glove from her hand.
“I’m going to give you a small dose of medical nano’s, that should clear up the urinary irritation, and some woman to woman advice. Abstain from sex for a few days!”
“I’m so embarrassed,” said Leah, “is that what it is?” She reached over to retrieve her panties and uniform bottoms.
Laura rolled her chair back to where Leah sat on the edge of the exam table.
“Listen, Leah,” she said looking over her glasses at her patient, “we all go through this. Don’t think you’re the only girl that ever overdid it when you fell in love. You and Jimmy are a wonderful couple, ease back into things in a few days. You’ll be fine, and I’m sure Jimmy will understand, he’s a good man.”
Leah winced when Laura injected her arm with the nanobots she programmed specifically for her.
“As far as I can tell she is restructuring the forward core into a bridge cockpit,” said Eric as he sat around the conference table with the Captain and other department heads.
“Cosmos,” said Captain Finley, “will you join us please?”
A tweetle signaled the intercom opening. “Yes, Captain?” asked the voice of the ship’s AI.
Eric and Carter had done a thorough search of the ship and discovered numerous structural changes made by the AI’s nanobots.
“Cosmos can you explain these changes made to the ship structure please?”
“Of course Captain,” said the AI. I have uploaded a complete diagram of the necessary changes I need to make to improve my structure and maximize the protection of my biological inhabitants.”
The large screen at the far end of the room flickered to life, and two views of the ship appeared. The picture to the left was of the original ship structure, and the one on the right was a radically different design that the AI animated showing the original design morph into a sleeker version of the old.
“When these changes are complete our ability to mitigate threats from the Earth AI’s will be enhanced.”
John glanced at Kia. “Do you know what she is talking about,” he asked?
“I've been monitoring the changes Captain. They are beneficial to the ship and crew. Her changes to the weapons ring will protect the ship from incoming missile threats if detected soon enough.”
“Can you fill us in on these changes Cosmos, are these your ideas?” asked the Captain.
“Yes, Sir, the weapons ring now houses three new systems. They can deliver a focused energy pulse on a moving target over three hundred thousand miles from us with millimeter precision. The burst can last up to 4 seconds from each weapon, and by rotating the weapons ring, each system comes on target before the other fully discharges. Nothing the Earth has can compare to this new weapon system. These pulse cannons will nullify the IPBM’s used against us previously if we can target them before they go FTL. If an FTL warhead targets us, our new shielding will protect us from all but multiple direct hits."
Astonished comments erupted from around the table.
"Captain, I've been monitoring conditions on the planet and our need to engage the earth AI’s will have to happen soon. Titan has already moved against the world governments and is beginning to subjugate the population. I think he plans to wipe biological life from the surface. My detectors picked up a neutron blast in northern China that wiped all life forms from the area. The limited information we have indicates a large military force was in the vicinity attempting to nullify the missile threat, but Titan destroyed them.”
Kia nodded her head. “I talked with your Mom this morning John, she heard rumors of mass protest in most major cities, but Titan and some others are subverting the news feeds. The law enforcement she has seen is being reinforced by cybernetic units that seem to be extensions of the AI council members. I’m reluctant to try to confirm it. It may compromise Mira’s position, and she has been our main source of intelligence.”
John opened a folder that Oscar placed before him. His security chief had been busy monitoring space activity near the planet. Several new structures appeared in Earth's orbit, and a scribbled analysis in the margins of the photographs indicated rail gun placements and missile launch platforms.
Jimmy pulled the protective goggles up over his forehead and closed the transparent shield on the cylindrical vacuum chamber. Inside was a small disk clamped into a vise with a little red crosshair projected through a hole drilled into its center. A mist from the sudden decrease in pressure inside the tube revealed the beam of the targeting apparatus coming from a laser array at one end of the setup. The door of his makeshift lab hissed opened, and he beamed a smile as his beautiful girlfriend walked in humming a tune.
“I thought I’d find you here,” said Leah. “What are you working on?”
Although he had been offered a laboratory in the science section, Jimmy had persuaded Carter to let him use a double office space that went unused near the rear of the engineering section. It was here he conducted his experiments. It was in an area not frequented by others, and he preferred the seclusion so that visitors wouldn’t pry into what he thought of as his whacky projects.
“Remember I was telling you about my idea on a dark matter detector? Well, I’m about to test one of my designs.”
“Cool, may I watch?” asked Leah.
“Of course, it may be another flop, but you never know,” he said.
He stepped up to her and pulled her into a crushing embrace. After a prolonged kiss that unbalanced her so that she had to lean against the table, he leaned back and asked, “So, how was the checkup, everything all right?”
Leah looked at the floor and blushed. “Well, we've been caught,” she said.
“What do you mean,” he asked looking perplexed.
“Laura told me my infection wasn’t an infection I’m just raw from uber-loving my man.”
Jimmy stared at her a minute then she saw his ears start turning red.
“You’re cute when you’re embarrassed,” she said grinning wickedly at him.
“Oh, wow,” he said.
“It’s cool, we just need to slack off a bit is all, three days tops, and I’ll get us some lube to use too.”
She saw the conversation was beginning to cause him discomfort, so steered the conversation back to his project.
“Okay, Einstein, what’s the setup going to do?”
Jimmy flipped the switch of his targeting devise to turn it off not noticing that they bumped the table enough to skew the crosshairs away from the hole and onto the stable area at the edge of the disk.
“Well, have you heard of WIMP’s,” he asked her?
“Weakly interacting massive particles?”
“Yes, exactly,” he said, “the theory on dark matter says we are being bombarded by it all the time but because it doesn’t interact with normal matter. They pass right through us without any effect at all. Anyway, I was playing around with your math and plugged it into my research on a dark matter detector that I tried to develop in college but never could get it to work.”
Leah walked back over to the setup and Jimmy started to explain what he had done.
“If the theory is correct and I can convert an atom of dark matter into one of normal matter for an instant, then I should be able to detect it as it passes through this micro coil detector I designed. I had Eric, and his nanobots build it for me. By focusing radio frequencies from three separate transmitters into the center of that hole, he indicated the point in the detector, any random WIMP’s passing through will temporarily be converted into normal matter and be detected.”
Leah examined the apparatus with growing interest. “What frequency will the event happen,” she asked?
“That’s where your math and Cosmos’s computing power comes in," he said, "the oscillations will be handled by Cosmos from a formula based on your math that will rapidly fluctuate the energy wavelengths inside the detector. Want to give it a try?”
“So smart and good in bed too,” she said reaching over to grab a pair of safety goggle from the desktop.
He smiled, pleased at her suggestive compliment.
Jimmy went to a console that controlled the many video recorders and data collectors for his experiments. He activated the equipment and verified that all his sensors were working correctly then pulled down his safety goggles and turned toward Leah.
“Here we go,” he said and flipped a toggle switch that sent a message to Cosmos to begin using his formula to cycle the radio transmitters focused on his detector.
Carter slid from under the command console of the shuttle and hollered out the open cargo hatch, “Okay Eric, plug in the targeting circuit!”
Eric took the male end of an electrical harness and pushed it into the dongle connecting the rail gun his crew manufactured to attach to the underside of the Sagan. Inside the shuttle, the newly installed battle console blinked to life indicating the ready status of the new weapon.
“Okay,” hollered Carter from the flight deck, “connect the other one now, that one is online!”
Eric slid his creeper along the cargo bay deck and reached up into the open panel of the second rail gun and connected a matching dongle.
“Fantastic,” called Carter from the interior, “we have weapons!”
Eric secured the access panels and scooted out from under the shuttle. “I only wish we could test fire them before they are needed,” he said as Carter climbed down from the shuttle.
“Well, that would mean we’d have to drop out of FTL, and the chance of being spotted is too great, besides we dry tested them in the shop, and they worked perfectly!”
Eric tapped his neural implant and had his crew begin moving the gantry crane with the laser cannon into position above the Sagan to attach it to the newly installed pylons.
The holographic images of Sagan and Tyson stood away from the construction teams and watched as they transformed from simple cargo shuttles into formidable fighter spacecraft. Cosmos had interfaced with the two lesser AI’s and uploaded fighter tactics into their systems. She had a coating of her specialized nanobots sprayed on their hulls, and during the night the shuttles were transformed into much sleeker and stealthier spacecraft. The modifications would protect the occupants from radiation exposure and hull breaches.
Leah woke to the sound of a continuous alarm blaring in her ears. She spat dust from her mouth and looked around still dazed from the explosion.
“Jimmy! Where’s Jimmy?” she thought. The last thing she remembered was him flipping the switch to activate his experiment.
A groan came from under a collapsed table, and she raced to lift it off her injured boyfriend.
“JIMMY! Are you all right?” she cried rocking the stunned engineer in her arms.
“What happened?” he asked groggily looking up from where she cradled his head on her breasts.
I don’t know you just flipped that switch and BANG! All hell broke loose.
Leah helped him to his feet, and he was combing the debris from his hair with his fingertips when the crisis crew rushed in.
“Is everything all right in here?” asked Paul Gordon, the damage control chief.
“Yeah, yeah, I think so said Jimmy looking around at his ruined equipment. Just an experiment went bad,” he said.
Paul grumbled and looked at the chaos disapprovingly then told one of his men to “kill that infernal alarm.” He dismissed his men and left Leah and Jimmy to sort through the mess of the explosion.
John stood before the display in his ready room comparing the two images of the before and after Cosmos conversion.
“And what is this?” he asked pointing to what once was the forward end of the central core.
“That is the new command bridge Captain,” said Cosmos over her intercom. “It will be ready for the bridge crew to occupy by zero six hundred tomorrow. With your permission, I will convert the present bridge into an electronics junction area. It was built with security in mind and with a few modifications it can protect most of my vital functions.”
“Does this new bridge have a Captain’s ready room?” asked John.
“It does Captain, in fact, I built it identical to this one so that it would take the crew less time to adjust to the new space.”
“Very well, I’ll have the bridge crew report there at the morning shift, and Cosmos?”
“Thank you,” he said with all sincerity.
Later in the quarters he and Kei now shared he queried Kei on what she thought about the transformation of the starship.
“John, I trust her completely, I may be biased because of my AI origin, but I’d bet my life on her commitment to the preservation of this ship and crew. Of course, the true test will be the upcoming battle. Will she remain loyal to the human race or go rogue like a few others? I’m betting on her loyalty.”
John walked up behind her where she was pouring two glasses of red wine and gathered her into his arms. He breathed in the fresh scent of her hair and began kissing her earlobe and the gentle curve of her graceful neck.
“Besides, what choice do we have, we’ll have to trust her.”
Kei turned in his arms and handed him a glass of wine. He pulled her close and kissed her softly. She smiled and winked at him.
“I bet I can guess what’s on your mind,” she said.
He grinned then took her hand and led her into the bedroom.
Thanks for reading Chapter 28
in my first attempt at
Read chapter one here. Thumbnail Source
in my first attempt at
Read chapter one here.