The Belly, Sector 38
Emiray was deep in the Belly, far below the University District. Sector 38 was about as deep and derelict as a place could get. Several times Emiray has to wade and deep as her chest and twice she had to swim though flooded portions. Three of Sector 38’s seven water pumps had been busted and there had been numerous faulty electronics and broken doors. It was Emiray’s job to come down here and make sure everything was in working order.
Dirt and mud crusted her short hair making it impossible to tell what color it used to be. Her clothes, a simple jumpsuit, was so smeared and stained it was hardly recognizable as clothes. It was also at least a size too small for her. The only thing about her that was clean where the numerous tools that hung around her belt. They were clean and almost shined the the murky dark cast by the small electrical lamp that she carried.
She stopped in front of a door and set down her lamp on a nearby pipe that was handing at chest level. The last of Sector 38’s water pump was beyond there and she would need to make sure it was functioning before she made her report to the chief engineer. Given the water level nearby she suspected it was malfunctioning like the others she had fixed. It has after all been a year since this section’s last scheduled maintenance and many of the old pumps couldn’t even last that long before breaking. Even the pumps that hadn’t been broken had still needed some maintenance or they wouldn’t have lasted more then a couple of more months.
Emiray looked over the door looking for any damage. It was a solid metal door and beyond the rust covering the bottom half it seemed to be in good condition. The grabbed the handle in the center of the door and started to turn. There as a squeaking sound and the handle turns an inch before grinding to a stop. Emiray gritted her teeth and pushed again but the door handle refused to budge.
“What do you think Rob?” Emiray asked as she let go of the handle and dusted the flakes of rust off of her hands. There was a click as the robot reached out its hand and pressed it on the door it moved its head closer to the hinges.
R08 was just a little bit taller then Emiray and would probably be thin if it wasn’t carrying a multitude of bags and other things strapped around it. R08 was an old model and would probably have been junked long ago had the Belly Engineer been able to afford replacements. So R08 was still around and had probably been doing the job of an Engineer’s assistant longer then any of the engineers had been engineers, certainly longer then Emiray had been one.
Its mask like face stared at the door for a few more seconds processing before it said. “THe InTERIOr iS LIkEly FlOODeD ANd ThE INSiDE GeARS BUSTED. WE WILL PROBABLY NEED TO REMOVE THE DOOR BEFORE ENTERING.”
Emiray nodded grimly. The door opened inward and if it was indeed flooded then it could take hours to remove the door and get into the pump room and then hours more to fix the door. Only a second rate engineer would leave a broken door behind them. She looked around and then pointed toward the vents in the celling. “Rob, Any chance those would lead me into the pump room. If I could get inside and fix the pump then that would fix the flooding and then we would be able to get the door open.”
“THAT SEEMS LIKE A REASONABLE PLAN. ALTHOUGH THE VENTS MAY NOT LEAD TO THE PUMP ROOM AND THE ROOM MIGHT BE COMPLETELY FLOODED MAKING REPAIRS IMPOSSIBLE.” Responding R08 in its lightly warbling tone. That always but Emiray, she had managed to keep it in good working condition since it had been assigned to her but she had never been able to fix that warble. There was nothing wrong with its speaker system so it must be some kind of software bug.
She reached up and pulled herself onto on of the pipes. A couple of minutes and her wrench managed to get the grate of the vent off and she squeezed herself inside it. “Rob, there isn’t enough room for you to come up here. Stay down there and see what you can do about the door. I’ll come back for parts after I found out what is wrong with the pump.” She heard an affirmative beep as made her way through the vent duck. Ten minutes and two wrong turns later she finally managed to find the vent leading into the pump room.
As she began working on the bolts holding the vent in place she began to smell it. It was the smell of something rotting. She had smell decomposing creatures before, rats and other animals sometimes made there home in the Belly and when they died it didn’t take long for it to start rotting. Emiray got the last bolt off and help the grate gently as she let it slide down. Once it stopped moving downward she slide herself out of the ducts and stopped dead.
There, floating in the middle of the pool of water near the pump was a human corpse.
Space, Low Orbit
Lynn stared up at the stars. They were beautiful, they had always been beautiful and so far away. Now that she was as close to them as she had ever been they seemed even farther way. “Beep, Thirty Five Minutes Of Air Remaining” came a sound near her ear. That brought her two her senses and she looked around, the Earth hung below her like a giant gem, sparkling. While the stars still seemed so far away the Earth seemed small and insignificant.
“Lynn, the satellite is two hundred miles retrograde away from you.” Lynn heard the voice through the communication set in her suit. They had been telling her that for a couple of minutes now and would probably start to get annoyed if she continued to spend any more time staring at the stars.
She stared to her west and could see the satellite off in the distance, although it seemed very small. She reached out to it and then it was there right in front of her as if she had always been right next to it. She reached out and grab one of the satellites rails with her gloved hand. “I’m there, now what do I need to do.”
“If you would remember the briefing then you would know that the satellite has run out of the fuel needed to correct its orbit and keep it where we need it to be. Rather then send a new satellite up you are going to replace the fuel canisters. Now please follow my directions carefully.”
Lynn listens as the voice droned on. She followed directions not really paying attention. Twenty minutes later the fuel tank had been replaced and Lynn was finally free to enjoy herself again. Sometimes it was a pain needing to do was she was supposed to. It seemed that all of her time was spent participating is some kind of experiment or preforming some task that nobody else was capable of doing. However she still had fifteen minutes before she ran out of oxygen and she wanted to spend those moments staring at the stars.
“Beep, Five Minutes Of Air Remaining.” Finally she broke away from the stars and spun to look at the Earth. She needed to return back to Mü. The University probably has some test or some experiment they wanted her to perform. She sighed, taking one last deep breath and then the Earth was closer, much closer. She was falling and even through the suit she could feel the atmosphere wiping past her. Every-time her suit warned her that the tempetures were getting to hot there was a shutter and she began to fall again.
Just as her suit began to warn her about the critical low levels of air she flipped the pressure release and air began flowing into her suit from outside. It was thin still, but it was breathable. The Earth was hurtling toward her and she could see the ocean far below her and the city. It was still small but it grew bigger and bigger and she got closer to the ground. Like the stars Mü always impressed her, the largest city in the world floating on top of the ocean.
She could see the building get bigger and bigger as she fell through the clouds. If she kept at this for a couple of more minutes then she would hit the ground. Her eyes locks on one of the taller buildings and then suddenly she was standing on top of it.
“Ivan, I have managed to land safely in the Entertainment district…” Lynn paused for a second deciding, “Cancel any other plans that I have for this evening. Tell them that I am planning to spend the night in the Entertainment district.”
“Wait Lynn, You can’t just do that. You promised me…” Lynn clicked the communicator off and unlatched her helmet letting her hair roll down to her shoulders. “Sure I can, in fact I just did.” Said Lynn with a smile. Ivan would probably get angry at her but there was really nothing that he could do to stop her. Lynn doubted that anyone would be able to stop her if she didn’t want to be stopped and it wasn’t like she was doing anything wrong. Occasionally she wanted to act her age, maybe she would go see a movie or go to the arcade.
First however she needed to go get some clothes, a space suit was hardly the proper attire for a teenage girl. There would probably be somebody in the Entertainment district willing to try her some proper clothes in return for the suit. She smiled planning how she would spend her evening.
Then the roof of the building was empty and Lynn was nowhere to be seen.