Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Flash Fic: Artemis Dancing In Moonlight

Lily stretched comfortably on her bed.  

"Wake up Lily!"  Her white fur stood up as the alarm made her buzz.  Cyberware vibrated her awake.

The alarm cut her slumbering nap short.  She had wanted to enjoy the engine's heat for a bit.  She blinked her eyes and stood up.  The feline fought back the urge to swat at the AR illusion of the ship's avatar that floated above her.  Artemis Dancing In Moonlight hung there, fabricated neural impulses and a grin that

"Why did I program you to appear as part of that alarm?"  Lily grumbled.  Her voice rumbled.

"We're nearly there, y'know."  The smiling, blue-haired ghostly AI illusion told her.

"The firegate."  Lily reminded herself.  Her grogginess faded away.  Her curiosity made her eager.  She'd spent the better part of the last year training for this.

"Everyone else is up.  They're congregating in the lounge for it."

"Anyone piloting?"  Lily asked.

Artemis Dancing In Moonlight rolled her eyes at me.  "Honestly.  One would think a cat couldn't be such a micromanager."

Lily started to clean her neck fur.  Even though her human compatriots wouldn't notice, she still aimed to look her best.  The first cat to experience FTL travel had to look the part.

"My expedition, you're just my ship."  Lily purred.  She didn't mean anything by it.  Either way, it made her wish she could laugh, not just purr heartedly.  Oh well.

Kittens couldn't be choosers.

"Right.  See you in the lounge then."

Artemis Dancing In Moonlight's avatar buzzed out of Lily's AR view.  The cyberware let the cat see and interact with the ship's AI.  Lily didn't care, although Artemis's attitude always amused her.  The consensus AI spirit knew how to keep most important member of this expedition happy.  Obviously.

Lily made her way to the lounge.  Not because Artemis had said everyone else would be there.  Lily had decided it would be a good place for her to start her own analysis of the journey through the Firegate.  She decided.  Of course.  She would tolerate others in the lounge.

The white couches of the lounge c0ntrasted with the walls around them.   Holograms of the outside of the ship covered the walls and ceiling.  Dark, black space in five directions.  Only the floor kept it's steel complexion.  The rest showed their slow glid.  On one screen, a ring grew closer and closer.

The four other members of the expedition watched the real-time holograms.  Lily lept onto a nearby couch.  The red-haired human Barnabus moved to give her space.  The human members of the expedition yawned.  They looked tired too.  In that, monkeyish way humans looked when they had to wake early.

"Why did we have to wake up so early for this?"  Green-haired Bass asked.  The human woman's blue skin always looked kinda cuter to Lily that the pale pinks of the others.

"Arrival was posted to be at 0500,"  Lily said.  "Some of us have alarms."

"Some of us don't sleep most of the day away."  Bass retorted.

"Ah."  Magnus stood up.  The dark-haired human wore fewer clothes than the others, a robe.  Lily knew Magus as the astrophysicist would be the most excited to enter the firegate.  "It's opening!"

"Now to see for ourselves, this wonder Huma invented,"  Barnabus grumbled.

Lily moved away from Barnabus to Edamame.  The tiny bioroid girl with glowing purple hair shivered a bit.  She clutched a cup of coffee.  Lily sniffed at the human adolescent.

"You ready?"  She asked Edamame.

"I..."  Edamame gazed at the ring of red energy floating ahead of them.  "They told me... what to expect.  I saw some of the pictures."

"We have nothing to worry about,"  Lily told her.  "Artemis is prepared to deal with the transition across dimensions."

"The energies, though..."  Edamame stared at the firegate.  "Firespace is supposed to be raw energy.  Ships explode traveling across it.  They just... dissolve."

"Ships without artificial gravity."  Lily corrected.  The white cat studied the firegate as it erupted with red and yellow energy.  "Firespace lacks inherent gravitons.  The Iono grav generators protect us from the anti-gravity forces there.  Besides, you are the key to saving us, young one."

"Young one?"  Edamame laughed.  "You always say that, and you're like five years old."

"I designed Artemis."  Lily lifted her head.  "You have the job of keeping my ship from getting lost in firespace."

Edamame scratched Lily under the chin.  The white cat allowed the gesture.  It seemed to calm the Bioroid Nyctian.  Good.

"Of course, we assume that an artificial psychothalmus is the same as a natural one.  What if firespace doesn't interact well with a artificial one?"  Barnabus pointed out.   "No one has done that before, have they?"

Lily glowered at him.  She made a mental note to visit his quarters at some point during this trip.  Maybe it was inelegant for Lily to want to punish Barnabus.  But a part of her knew she'd feel better after leaving him some sort of present.

"It shouldn't matter."  Lily countered.  "The ESP of a Nyctian can navigate Firespace.  Edamame will be able to interface with Artemis direct, Barnabus.  You read the brief."

"And I'm here out of curiosity.  We still don't have a good idea of the tactical benefits of firespace travel yet.  This expedition could be dangerous."  Barnabus shrugged.  "But you didn't bring combat drones for that either."

"Only three people on this crew have occupations, Barnabus.  C'mon." Bass sat next to Barnabus.  "Stop being such an ass."

"I..."  Edamame closed her eyes.  "I can do this."

Lily turned her head to the Firegate.  Firespace grew larger in the holograms on the walls.  Edamame chanted to herself.  Lily watched as they started to leave the Solar System to another dimension.

Her curiosity felt piqued for certain.