Chapter II: Repairs
Jonathan, Terri, Mike, Brad, Andie, Bill and Atlanta were all gathered around a table in a large room. The room had two levels. The upper level had a long walkway from one end of the room to the other. In the center the walkway split into a large oval. Each side of the oval had two dormant stations with overly large, but comfortable looking chairs. Arrayed on the lower level, were eight stations that were also dormant. They were arrayed evenly along the table to the left and right of it.
“This is Command and Control for the base. The large table is what they used to call a planning table. It is basically a large holographic projector and was used to display schematics and the like. The four stations above us are Tactical and Air/Space Traffic Control with back up stations… primary and secondary, if you like. These eight here are Science, Communication, Engineering and Medical, with their back up stations,” Atlanta said as she pointed out the various stations.
“Our problem, is here,” Atlanta said.
She motioned to the table in front of her as a holographic panel popped up in front of her. The table shimmered as it brought up a rotating display of the base. She touched the hologram on its base, which caused it to stop rotating. She tapped a flashing red spot on the display and it zoomed in. Flashing red letters in English and the strange language said ‘Level 3 Breech (contained)’.
“Over the years I have collected the various languages of Earth,” Atlanta said. “Displays will register with the nanites inside you and show you the most common language you know. In this case it should be English, though if you know another language you could change your thought patterns and it would change to that language as long as the computer has it in its data base.”
“Why did you say ‘should be’ can’t you see what language it is displaying?” Mark asked.
Atlanta shook her head, “I see it in Ancient Eutharan and sometimes just as lines of code. Depends on what I’m looking at and looking for.”
“Eutharan?” Terri asked.
“Yes, this is a Eutharan Base, one of the last in existence. I have lost contact with the others I once knew,” Atlanta said.
Terri nodded, “I don’t see English, I see a jumble of languages. English, Arabic, Russian, the list goes on. Some of the words are this Eutharan Language.”
Atlanta raised an eyebrow, “Strange, the Eutharan Empire had people who did that. It was the way their brains worked. Their minds constantly moved from language to language never settling on a specific one. They were called Cyphers, they could learn and assimilate languages rather quickly.”
“Sounds like my sis,” Jonathan said. “She absorbs languages like crazy, and sometimes she will start speaking one, and not realize it.”
“A Cypher is a very rare person. They were held in high regard throughout the entire universe. They had special privileges, and could go anywhere, for any reason. They had special ships that marked them as such. Attacking a Cypher, no matter the status of the two empires, was instant death. I should say that other races had Cyphers, too. However, they were more predominate in the Eutharan Empire,” Atlanta smiled at Terri. “You have a rare talent. It is one you should seek to expand. It will be very useful when we get the base back to being operational. I’ll upload some alien languages I have stored in my memory banks for you to learn. If you can train your mind to think in one language, it will help with the computer displays.”
Terri nodded as she stared at the damaged section of the base.
“One more thing everyone needs to know. The nanites will also help you understand a word painted on a wall or written on a piece of paper. They do this through contact with the main computer core they do not store this information. What you see here on the hologram isn’t really on the hologram it’s in your mind, translated for you. Though each of you has a basic understanding of Eutharan, you still think in English,” Atlanta said. “Another thing you need to learn is you can use the nanites to communicate with each other. The conversation is relayed through a subspace transceiver. It is encrypted and secure and instant. No maximum range has ever been found. They also have limited ability to control systems on the base, want a door open think about the door opening. Want a display to come on, think about it coming on.”
Engineering suddenly lit up and Brad said, “Cool.”
Atlanta nodded at him, “They also allow you to interact with the holographic displays, such as this image.” Atlanta pointed at the damaged section of the base.
“Ok, teach us later,” Jonathan said. He leaned in and reached up rotating the display so he could see the damaged sections. “Let’s get this problem taken care of first. Besides, my brain is about to explode with all this new information.”
“Yes, Commander,” Atlanta said.
She reached down to the table and touched it lightly which brought up a holograph on the tabletop. She reached down and touched a box with the word ‘copy’ in it, and flicked her finger at Jonathan. The document copied itself and slid across the table to Jonathan, she repeated the process until everyone had it. Jonathan reached down and rotated the paper so he could read it.
Scrolling across the paper was information about how many compartments had been breeched and power reserves. What had caused the malfunctions to the Pressure doors and what would be needed to fix it.
“Wow, that’s a lot of damage,” Mike said. “Twenty-two sections flooded and the outer shell has been breeched. Is there away to get a picture of the outside to see the extent of the damage?”
“We could have used Research Arm Two, but it’s flooded as well as arms four and six. We might be able to use the shuttle or one of the drones. However, the drone would stress my power reserves and the shuttle is not safe,” Atlanta said.
Jonathan looked up at Atlanta, “Why is the shuttle dangerous?”
“I used it as a last resort to save you. However it is way over its maintenance schedule, by a couple hundred years,” Atlanta said.
Mike had sat down at the Engineering station and pulled up the sub-routines that controlled the pressure doors. Code scrolled across the screen as he pulled the information he needed from what was being uploaded by Atlanta. He reached up and touched a spot stopping the code. He ran his finger across a spot, which highlighted the code, and sat back for a second as he stared at it.
He reached over and pressed a small button, which transferred the code to the main table. He then got up and walked over.
Mike reached up and touched the code that was suspended next to the hologram of the base, “This seems to be the main problem with the doors.”
Atlanta duplicated the code and pulled it down to the table as she looked it over. She looked up at Jonathan as she spoke.
“This does indeed look like what caused the problem with the doors. During low power, and down times, the maintenance bots don’t do maintenance on the doors. It’s to conserve power incase of an emergency.”
“I can see the need in that,” Jonathan said. “So, it’s not really a code problem as much as a power problem. What level of power is needed to bring the maintenance bots online? I don’t really want to have something like this happen again.”
Brad reached up and touched the holograph of the base making it zoom back out. He touched another spot and pulled up the main core and Engineering section. It displayed the power out put of the main core as 35%.
“We have to get the power output to at least 75% before the bots will come fully online. Some of the lesser bots are already online and working, mainly cleaning bots, but that’s it. To do that we have to purge the water in the lower levels of the core,” Brad said.
“Ok, how do we do that?” Terri asked.
“Well, it looks like the pressure doors actually worked and the surrounding area is free of water. I guess that is a starting point. If we could rig some type of pump to pull the water from the room and put it outside that would be the best bet,” Brad said. He reached out and expanded the view of the lower section of the core.
“Hrm, how would you do that? If we open any door down there we will be flooded,” Jonathan asked.
“We could drop something over the edge of this level here,” Brad said touching the hologram. “Then when the water gets too far down we can move down to the next level. All we need are the supplies to build the pump.”
Atlanta pointed at the hologram, “Well those lower levels are where Engineering really is. The computer core and maintenance shops are down there. Along with bulk storage…”
“Wait,” Jonathan said. “Bulk storage? How large are those rooms?”
“Why?” Brad asked. He looked up at the hologram and it hit him. “Oh… OH! That’s not a bad idea at all.”
“What isn’t?” Mike asked.
Brad adjusted the hologram as he spoke, “If we open the doors along here and directed the water to here.” He pointed out the path and which rooms he was talking about. “There’s nothing in Mass Storage One and Four. It would let enough of the water out we could bring the reactor up to full power and shut down the secondary for maintenance. The bots, once online, would start their maintenance routines and start patching leaks, like the one in the core room.”
Jonathan nodded as Atlanta’s eyes widened a bit, “That just might work.” She said.
“One thing bothers me,” Andie said. Andie was seated at Medical looking at various read outs.
Everyone looked over to where Andie was seated. No one had seen her move over to the Medical Station.
“What’s that, Andie?” Jonathan asked.
“Well, where are all the people? I mean there are no bodies anywhere, no signs of contamination of any kind. So where did everyone go?” She asked as she turned the chair to face them.
Everyone then looked at Atlanta as she said, “This base was a distant base. It was not always manned. It was more of an outpost. They would come and work for a few years, and then leave. They would repeat the cycle every so many years. So, I have no idea what happened to them. My programs forced me to look for a replacement, once they didn’t show after five hundred years. It took two thousand years for your race to get advanced enough to actually be useful.”
Andie nodded, “Makes sense, I guess. While you all work on getting the flooding under control I’m going to stay here and try to learn what I can about their medical advances. These people and ours are very close genetically as far as I can tell. So I want to learn as much as I can about their medical technology as possible. Never know when we might need it.”
“I thought you could just pull up what you need through the nanites,” Terri said.
Andie nodded, “Yes, I can. But, there are some things it’s better to be prepared for. I have had my first two years of medical college, but this stuff is way beyond that. The nanites themselves have the capability to heal the host. They will keep you from getting the common cold and help bones mend faster. However, they can’t set the bones or replace large amounts of missing tissue.
“I need to have time to find out their limits and to see how advanced this race was… what applies to us, and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of information here, and I have to be able to make sense of it. I’m still getting uploads of medical data. Sorting through it will take time.”
Jonathan nodded, “I can see what you’re saying. It’s not like pulling out a diagram of the main reactor and then looking up how to run a diagnostic on it.”
“Yeah, I might know the symptoms, like a fever and shakes. But, how many different things does that apply to? They had the benefit of growing up and learning all this, I didn’t. I might recognize some things and not others. I have to try to learn as much as I can without hands on experience,” Andie said.
“Ok, we’ll be working on getting the reactor up to full power. If you need up call,” Jonathan said as he tapped the side of his head.
Andie nodded as she stood up, “I’m going to move back to Main Medical and work from there incase anyone is injured. That way I’m already there and you won’t have to wait for me.”
Atlanta spoke up, “I have logged Andie Hawkins as Chief Medical Officer (CMO). I have also logged Mike Anspach as Computer Specialist First Class (CSF) and Brad Anspach as Chief Engineer First Grade (CEF). Logging William Hawkins Lieutenant Commander of Base Operations, I just need to know what Terri’s interests are.”
Everyone looked at Terri as she blushed and sputtered, “I have no idea.”
“Well, then, I will just log you as an Ensign, until we find something you like,” Atlanta said. Atlanta made a sweeping motion. “All rank insignia have been changed to correspond with current assignments.”
None of them had paid much attention to the light blue jump suits they had been wearing. A small hologram popped up on the right sleeve of the jump suits, and changed to correspond to their assignments. On Andie’s sleeve were three dots with four horizontal bars underneath. In the background, was the universal sign for the human body. Mike’s sleeve had two dots and four horizontal bars followed by two dots, in the background was what looked like computer circuits, which flashed once in a while. Brad’s sleeve was the same as Mike’s except it had a pulsing reactor core as the background. Bill’s sleeve had four horizontal bars with a thin fifth bar intersecting them from the top to the bottom, his had no background. Jonathan’s sleeve had four horizontal bars, with two thin bars intersecting them from the top to the bottom. Again, there was no background. Terri’s sleeve had two horizontal bars. The edges of the bars pulsed with a cyan light.
‘Base commander confirm new appointments,’ a bland computer voice said.
“Confirmed. Command code one-alpha-tango-two-zero-zero. Authorize,” Jonathan said.
‘Code accepted, downloading new command codes to ranking officers,’ the computer said.
“Why is mine pulsing and no one else’s is?” Terri asked.
“The Cyan pulse, or outline if it’s a metal insignia, denotes you as a Cypher. Your language skills can’t be over looked. Your rank will always carry this glow and because it does you’re protected. If you go freely into combat, though, remember one thing… you give up your immunity,” Atlanta said.
“Oh,” Terry mouthed.
Unknown to them, they were being watched, and Oojoung wasn’t happy about what he saw. Well, Oojoung didn’t really care, but he knew his master would blow a blood vessel when he found out the base had a command staff. Oojoung silently sighed to himself, as he watched the display.
On top of that when Prasuh found out there was a Cypher here, and he couldn’t touch it. Well, there would go another blood vessel. Oojoung chuckled at the thought that maybe his master would have a heart attack.
“So, the question I have to ask is; are we all in agreement to stay here and get this base back in working order?” Jonathan asked.
“There is one thing I have to say before you all decide,” Atlanta said.
Everyone looked at Atlanta waiting for her to continue. Even Andie had stood up and joined the small group of friends. Most of them had already decided to stay, even if just to learn about the technology.
“The information in this base, and the secrets contained in this base, must not ever be given to the Human race. They are not ready for it, and it would destabilize your world. When they’re ready, we will slowly allow the tech to leak out. If anyone tries to break this rule the computer has instructions to wipe all memory of this base and all events that have taken place from your minds. The nanites will then deactivate themselves and pass harmlessly from your system,” Atlanta said gravely.
Everyone spoke at once, as to how they could understand that, and that they could see the wisdom of it.
“Now, if you bring people here to help they will be given the same nanites you have and have the same restrictions. There is nothing stopping you from helping the people of Earth grow, to help police the planet, and to try to make countries work together. There’s nothing stopping you from bringing people here to the base to help rebuild. This base can hold six hundred and thirty people and I would like to see it back to its former strength,” Atlanta said.
“My brother and I have already been talking about it. We’re going to stay and help rebuild. We want to learn as much as we can about the technologies here,” Brad said.
“Ditto, for me and my sis,” Bill said.
Jonathan looked over at Terri and she gave a slight nod, “We’re in.” he said.
“Right! Now that that is done, let’s get to work,” Brad said.
Brad reached out and flipped the hologram and expanded the sections below the flooding in the main reactor room. He touched several spots on the hologram after he was done all the doors in the corridor read ‘Secured’. He turned the hologram and started touching multiple places on it as he did so the status on these doors changed from ‘closed’ to ‘open’. Brad stopped for a second as he studied something and zoomed into a room.
“I’m going to Main Medical now, holler if you need me,” Andie said. She turned and walked to one of the doors.
“Ok, we’ll holler once we’re done here,” Jonathan said.
“Atlantis, access control circuit 23-A-03 and run diagnostics please,” Brad said.
“One second,” Atlanta said. She closed her eyes as she did what she was asked.
Brad continued to work on the lower level doors so the water would be routed into one of the empty storage bays. Mike turned and took a seat at engineering and brought up some code and began scanning it as it scrolled by.
“Well, this actually looks better than I thought,” Brad said.
“What does?” Jonathan asked.
“We can route the water back down this corridor here and into this empty bay. I want to pop the external docking ring and flush the water out completely. Then we can get to work doing our repairs,” Brad said. He pointed to the room and where he was talking about flushing the water out. “The only problem I have run into, is this door here.” He pointed to a door that was still closed. “It’s not responding to commands to open. I have Atlanta checking the circuit out now. Mike is looking at the code to make sure we can pressurize the core and actually flush it clean.”
“The circuit isn’t responding to my commands,” Atlanta said. She looked at the hologram as she spoke. “It is probably burned out.”
“Well, that solves that. Do you have replacement parts in case of something like this?” Jonathan asked.
Atlanta shook her head, “No, the maintenance bots replicated things they needed on sight.”
“Replicated? You mean you can produce stuff like metals and food and such,” Jonathan asked.
Terri’s stomach rumbled, “Speaking of food. I’m going to go find the galley and see what I can get together for us.”
“Ok, sis,” Jonathan said.
“No they can’t, I ran across it while I was surfing all the engineering specs in my head. They can do on site repairs and they use each other to build the parts they need. They have to have something to replicate from a base compound. I would guess if you had organic compounds we could make a replicator that would produce foodstuffs. Not sure how good they would taste, but it would be possible, and we could do it so it was a vitamin rich supplement,” Brad said. He pulled up another hologram of one of the spidery looking bots. “There are several types of these spider bots.”
“Spider bots?” Jonathan asked.
“Well, that’s what they look like to me… a huge spider,” Brad said as he shrugged his shoulders. “Anyway, they come in various sizes and the base will produce all types: small medium and large. There are always some that are active and some on stand-by. Small ones are the cleaners, although they can do simple repairs. The mediums are used to maintain the base’s functions, and the larger units can reprocess them both to create what ever they need for a situation. Larger units are never reprocessed unless it is a dire need, there are only about five at any given time. Think of them this way, small bots are the drones while the medium bots are the warriors. The large ones are the queens of the hive and control the functions of the smaller units even when they’re not active.”
“Oh, I see,” Jonathan said.
“Yeah, it’s not that complex. I looked up the spiders when we were trying to decide what to do,” Brad said.
“I’ll go over the technical specs of everything, later. Right now, I’m still trying to learn about the rules and regulations,” Jonathan said.
Brad grinned at him, “So I guess I will be taking a trip down and see if the manual release still works.”
“Yeah, I’ll come along. I’ll glance over the code later. It will take a while to check it all out,” Mike said. He stood up and joined his brother at the door.
“Display crew on hologram,” Jonathan said.
Six blue stars sprung up on the hologram.
“Isolate the CEF and CSF, and zoom in,” Jonathan said.
Atlanta grinned, “I see you’re learning.”
Jonathan smiled back, “Yup. The training for this table that you sent me helps a lot.”
“Just remember it applies to everything, here. While some things are hands on, a lot of things are not. This table is an example of that. It has to be fast and easy to use, in case of an emergency,” Atlanta said. “I’m going to see if I can help Terri. I think she has found the galley but has no idea how the storage units work. It’s hard on her, right now. Her brain is a mess as it tries to assimilate the languages I sent her. Food and rest will do you all good once we solve this problem, and get the base back to full power. Then I can take over, and direct repairs.”
“One question,” Jonathan said.
“Sure,” Atlanta said.
“We lost a back up reactor. How are we going to replace that?” Jonathan asked.
“We will need some supplies from the mainland. Then the spiders will build it,” Atlanta said.
“How long will that take?” Jonathan asked.
“It will take a day to build it, and a day to connect it to the power grid. I estimate the repairs to that section will take four days, and then we can power it up, and put it into sleep mode. The spiders will also check the other secondary reactor, before it sleeps,” Atlanta said.
Jonathan watched as the stars representing Mike and Brad descended in a lift, “Ok. Well, go help Terri I guess. I’ll be here.”
Atlanta nodded and then faded out of sight.
Jonathan’s jaw dropped as he realized Atlanta was a hologram. He was sure he had seen her manipulate items, though.
Mike and Brad had managed to get the door opened with out difficulty. Everyone was gathered around the table in the Command Center again. Andie was still in Medical working but Terri had taken her some food supplements. It was the only thing left that was viable in the galley and they tasted like dust. But it filled them up and stopped their stomachs from rumbling.
“Remind me to put food on the list when we go for supplies,” Terri said as she made a face.
“Ok, here we go,” Brad said. He touched a door on the hologram and then selected open on the small screen that popped up.
For a second nothing happened then the hologram showed the door slowly raise as it opened.
‘Warning! Pressure door 10-B-00 cycling, emergency routines engaged,’ the bland computer voice said.
“Disengage emergency routines, authorization one-alpha-tango-two-zero-zero,” Jonathan said.
‘Flooding will occur in passageway 10-. Do you wish to proceed?’
“Confirmed,” Jonathan said.
‘Authorization accepted, Commander. Emergency routines disabled.’
“Double the atmospheric pressure in the Primary Core,” Mike said.
They watched as the pressure in the core rose, and forced the water out of the room. So far everything was going as planned.
“Bring Main Core to 75% power and hold,” Brad said.
‘Main power online and rising. Caution contaminate in main core room. Unable to bring core to 75% power, power output stopped at 50%.’
“That’s not enough to open the outer ring. We have to have 75% power or more,” Brad said.
Mike nodded, “Increase atmospheric pressure times two and hold.”
After a long second of silence the computer responded.
‘Bringing power output to 80% and holding.’
Lights that were unlit blinked on. Dormant Spider Bots woke up, and started accessing the base. The base was fully operational, even at 80% power output.
“Emergency release of docking ring four, authorization e-alpha-tango-two-zero-zero,” Jonathan said.
‘Docking ring four released.’
The explosive release of the docking ring blew sand from the bottom of the sea floor for a half a mile. On the surface of the ocean large bubbles erupted as a Coast guard cutter passed over the base. The ship was capsized as the water frothed around them. Anyone looking into the phenomenon would have just said it was volcanic activity.
Brad sealed the docking ring and brought the main reactor to full power as Mike reduced the pressure in the area to normal. A high-pitched whine filled the air as the hologram shifted to a surface view. What it showed made everyone gasp.
“How many?” Jonathan asked.
“Forty-plus,” Atlanta said.
“My god,” Terri said. “We have to help them.”
“I’m rushing an assault shuttle through diagnostics now, in bay two,” Atlanta said.
“Brad you stay here and monitor the situation. Terri, Mike, Andie and I will go. Andie, I need you to get a medical kit and meet us in docking bay two. Atlanta, upload what Terri needs to know to fly one of the shuttles,” Jonathan said.
He was already heading towards the door, people in tow.
“Uploading now, Commander,” Atlanta said.
Jonathan ran down the corridor as he shook his head. He didn’t know if he liked this. Every time something went right, another thing went wrong. He hoped this wasn’t a sign of the future.