Lena has figured it out and now she’s weeping uncontrollably in her lab. I went to check on her and found her hugging a large fat rat! It might have been just cuddling with her, but when I went in it was wriggling out of her arms.
I might also have jumped and let out an involuntary “Agh!” when I saw it. It shot off fast as lightning. “Mrs Tiddles!” shrieked Lena. I lost sight of the rat, distracted by the ridiculousness of the name she’d given it. “You have to find her, she’s in a very delicate state!” sobbed Lena angrily “We have to keep her safe!”
“That’s rat is banking pregnant? Are you fragging kidding me?” I explode “It’ll be bad enough if it start chewing and crapping on important parts of hardware, but if it’s ready to pop we could have nests all over the ship in no time! We’d lose the power, the AI and we’d die!”
“We’re going to die anyway Jaime! Even if we keep the lights on and the engines running. There’s no going home, and we’re not going to see the planet we’re heading too in our lifetime. We can’t even steer.” The tears stream down her face and are sprayed out ward as they meet her gritted teeth as she makes each point. “We will die on this banking metal wheel!”
“Yes. We are. In like 90 years or so. We have a self-sustaining supply of food and oxygen with more than enough to feed us, and our children, and their children, and so on until we reach Alpha Prime.” I try to explain calmly.
“Lena, we could teach them how to be decent, caring people. We can make the next world so much better than ours ever was. It would be our legacy. Don’t you think that’s beautiful? Don’t you think that’s worth staying alive for?”
I can’t help but raise my voice slightly when I say, “But none of that can happen if we let all the rats out!”
“It’s…one rat.” she looked pale suddenly. Shocked even.
“It’s one pregnant rat Lena!” I know I was being dramatic, but I had to get through to her how important this was. Especially now. It’s just us. I think I got through because she sat back against the wall, and stared thoughtfully at her feet.
“For a better world Lena.” I repeat my core point as I leave her to ponder my words as I start wondering how I’m going to find this rat. I can’t just have Hermes show me, we communicated via the N•Viron System, which is gone. It was so convenient when the ship could highlight the broken parts and show me which panels to open. It could probably do the same with the rat.
If this was an old Sci-Fi adventure, there’d be someone on board smart enough to reconfigure the sub-router to allow direct communication without the N•Viron’s interface. Without the N•Viron to help me, I’m not that smart. I may as well get rid of the useless hunk of tech on my neck. Throw it in the reclaimer. Maybe the nymphs could use it’s materials for repairs.
I relied on the N•Viron for so much. I’m not even sure I tied my shoes right. We’re not in a great situation. There’s one kid already coming. I can’t even begin to talk about how uncomfortable it makes me feel that I’ll have to raise Psy-Man’s kid, but to make matters worse I don’t think Lena and I a qualified to teach children anything.
I have to keep the dream alive though, otherwise our existence is literally meaningless. We’ll die, in space. The mission failed, our lives over. So I’d better get on with finding this stupid pregnant rat. It’ll be much easier to find it while it’s still full of babies. It’s going to be a much bigger problem if we leave it too late.