Something Completely Different by Loxley
Lt. Kevin Nekohashis eyes creaked open. He lay in a daze for a moment as life returned to his body. The air was cold and very antiseptic. As soon as his brain chemistry restarted itself after its 20 year pause, he thought to himself What I wouldnt give for a real blanket right now.
He drifted out of the hibernation pod and into the cold metallic ships air. Like himself, it had only just been freed from 20 years confined in a tank. He opened a foil bag containing disposable shipwear and an electrolyte drink, and gagged as he took a sip, forgetting to shake it up first. He dressed hurriedly, eager to get to his station.
As usual, he was the first one up, due to a lucky combination of choice of pod, his own physiology, and some judicious tweaking of the life support parameters. As the engineering officer of the little scout vessel, it was just as well he be up first anyway. All the telltales on his shipmates pods were safely indicating that everyone was waking up. He lingered over the State Commisioners pod just a moment, though, making sure that everything was okay. It was hard to see through the condensation on the pod cover, but he could make out the form of Commisioner Murrietta, as if she were merely in a deep, restful sleep, except that there was frost on her delicate still whiskers. Pushing off with his paws, he went to her locker and checked her foil package.
"Ah, nuts. I know she hates this fruit mix flavor," he said, reading the label. He swapped it for a package with a bannana-flavored drink from the next locker over, the one with L. DODSON stencilled on it. Dani and Lisa were similarly sized, so their shipwear would interchange, and he knew Lisa wouldnt mind. She probably wouldnt even notice.
Kevin kicked off, and sailed to the hatch in the far bulkhead, headed towards the bridge. In the dim, red glow of the powersavc lighting, he drifted over to his station, and started tapping the buttons and icons that would slowly return the rest of the ship to life.
During interstellar flight, the Seeker was a long, skinny cylinder, more or less. The more or less part came from assorted protruding instrument clusters, storage containers, tanks, and ramjet field generators long its length. But when the bright ramjet fusion flame died at a journeys end, she would unfold like a flower, adding the "HabnLab" ring, as her crew called the torus that girdled the ship. It would spin on magnetic bearings, providing something reasonably close to gravity, as well as a place for the crew to live now that they didnt need to huddle in the core of the ship, away from the drive fields ludicrous energy levels.
Kevin watched as his systems continued to boot, and run their self diagnostics, then start on the rest of the ship. There was always something that lit amber; in the long dark nights, things inexplicably broke or drifted out of tolerance. They were usually easily fixed, though. Seeker was built for this, and she was only halfway through her two century, twenty solar system tour of duty.
What he was not expecting, however was the cluster of blinking red telltales floating in his display panel, telling him that 75% of the fuel they used for getting around inside a starsystem after turning off the ramdrive was gone. There were other warning lights as well, from a variety of systems, none related to the any of the others except for having some portion on the outer hull.
"Ah, criminy," he said flatly, and dispatched a little bot to go survey the area. The video the little bot sent back wasnt very spectacular. Apparently, some sensor array or other extrusion had succumbed to metal fatigue during the long night at steady accelleration. It had knocked some other comonents off, and wound up holing one of the hydrogen storage tanks. A frozen check valve had allowed the rest of the tanks to hemmorage hydrogen fuel through the breached tank, leaving them with only their reserve. Since there was precious little the crew could have done about it in flight, the ship didnt wake them up until they were on final approach to the next star system.
Kevin was busy doing a complete inventory of the entire ships system tree as Captain Rydelle and Lt. Sorrell entered the bridge, followed by Lt. Hawthorne, blearily clutching his squeezebulb of coffee.
"Status, Mr. Nekohashi," Rydelle asked sweetly. She was a good choice as captain; strong, intelligent, and with a natural ability to lead.
"Not good, Skipper, There was-"
"Awk!!! I didnt do it! Kevin!?!?! What the hell have you done to my ship!?!?" shouted Brad as his pilots console exploded into red telltales, clashing with his crimson plumage.
"Secure that, Mr. Hawthorne!" barked the Captain. "Well keelhaul him later if necessary. Now then, is my ship dying, Lietenant Nekohashi?"
"No, Maam. But we are adrift. Weve got our reserve fuel only. Theres some other minor damage, but the fuel is our main concern." Kevin explained, showing the video that the little bot had recorded. "Only one tank is actually ruptured. Im afraid that we cant simply patch it, though; thats a high-pressure hydrogen tank. Its a write off. The other tanks will hold hydrogen, but only once I get that checkvalve fixed."
"I see. Have we dropped to far below our critical velocity to re-engage the ramdrive?" she asked.
"I cant tell. If we burn our reserves, well be right at our minimum velocity and if the interstellar medium is thinner out here " he trailed off. "Well be out of fuel, and below our minimum speed to restart the ramdrive.
"Scott, I want you to get with Hopkins on this. We may have to cut our tour of duty short." Captain Cindy Rydelle did a good job of keeping her disappointment of her voice. The Seeker, and the ships like her, were the fastest, most expensive machines every created, taking a large portion of the planetary economy to build. But build them they had, in a one-time-only plan to survey the nearest stars, and wait until all the data was in before any sort of colonization would begin. Yes, it was conservative, but at least people of the world were finally going to make it to the stars!
Except now, they would never know what lay in those 10 starsystems that Seeker failed in her mission to reach. There may have been paradise worlds, or other races, or some kind of rainforest with miracle cures for the worlds diseases, but now they would never know, due to a fragile antennae, and a faulty piece of plumbing. Cindy tried not to think about how much it had cost her world to build the Seeker and train her crew. She didnt want to go home empty handed if she could help it. And she wanted to explain her failure to Commissioner Dani even less. "Kevin, I want you to get out there and fix that valve. I want to be able to store hydrogen."
"Um Aye, Skipper. But where were you planning on getting more H2? The tanks will only refill once were back under ramdrive, which we may not even be able to reach."
"I dont know yet. Well worry about that later. Okay, lets all meet down in the galley for breakfast. Weve been broken for more than ten years, I dont think were going to die in the next hour."
"And thats our situation," Cindy summarized. "We may or may not have enough fuel to boost back to the minimum speed to engage the ramdrive. Kevins bots are getting our storage situation dealt with, so when, not if, we get back underway, well have somewhere to put our fuel." Cindy nodded to where Kevin was sitting amongst the ruins of his breakfast, with a VR monacle plugged into an eye, and datagloves over his paws. Michael and Scott were poring over the spectroscopy data from their sensors, while Tony Durham, Brad Hawthorne, and even Lisa Dodson looked glum.
"Will this greatly delay our Tour, Captain Rydelle?" asked Commissioner Murrieta. It was her job to represent the State, which had gone to great trouble and expense to build the ships like Seeker, and train the crews. Just as this was a once in a lifetime mission for everyone else, so it was for her; without the State Commissioners aboard, there was no one to keep the crews on task and in line. The Mission was everything to Dani; it meant finally conquering the stars, if only she and her cohorts on the other scoutships could keep the crews on task and functioning.
"Um, yes, Madam Commissioner, I think it may. If we cant get back up to speed, this is the end of the line for us, unless we can find a way to magic ourselves up some hydrogen to fill the tanks. And even if we can get going again, Im afraid Ill have to set a course for home. With the loss of the tank we wont have the fuel to burn for much in the way of manevering, or even slowing down much. Our effectivness is greatly compromised; I think we should set a course for home and a refit." Cindy steeled herself for what she knew was coming.
"I see," said Madam State Commissioner Danielle Murrieta as she tapped her clipboard with a stylus. Her eyes narrowed on Captain Rydelle. "Returning home simply isnt an option, Captain."
"But, Madam Commissioner "
"No buts. We fly this ship until it falls out from under us if we have to. We are expendable; we all agreed to give our lives for this mission if necessary. If we have to rocket through each succeeding system like bulletts, then so be it, but we will finish the survey." Danis voice was ice cold.
"Even if it means dying?" asked Lisa. The psychologists swore that she was a vital part of the crew, from a social dynamics point of view. Maybe it was because a super-perky type like her would attract any animosity, and act as a sponge or buffer, whereas if she werent around, the crew would turn on each other. It didnt make her any easier to deal with, though.
"Yes. We die trying. Thats our job, and its worth it," Dani answered flatly. Dani hated having to pull rank like this. She much preferred to be the "cheerleader" of the group, rather than the Voice Of Authority. But just because she didnt like it didnt mean she wouldnt do it. She changed tactics. "But were not going to die, Lisa." She smiled warmly at the vixen/dachsund mix. "Lt. Sorrel and Mr. Hopkins there are going to make some measurements and tell us that we can keep going." The iguana and the kangaroo looked at the Commissioner as she tapped her clipboard on the table WHACK! The little mouse kept smiling sweetly. She looked to Captain Rydelle. "Make it so, Captain."
"Yes, Maam. Under protest, though," the mare said stiffly. For a moment, the only sounds were of the ventilation fans and the low grinding of the magnetic bearings which spun the Habnlab ring.
Dani looked sad. "Cindy. Im sorry. Your protest is noted, and is taken in the spirit in which it is intended. I dont doubt your commitment to this crew, this ship, or the mission. I shall be in my quarters. If theres anything I can do to help any of you, let me know." With that, the petite mouse stepped into the long, upwards curving corridor leading to crew quarters.
Nobody saw her tears as she vanished down the corridor.
"Okay, people. Nekohashi, Sorrel, Hopkins, youve got your assignments. Hawthorne, Durham, Dodson, get up to the observatory, and lets see what it is were flying into. If were going to be the Flying Dutchmen of space, were darn sure going to make sure that home gets all the data out of us they can get. Move it!"
Three shipdays later
"Yes, Captain," said Michael Hopkins. "Theres not enough hydrogen out here for us to scoop up and light the torch with. Even if we burn everything in the reserve tanks, as well as the shuttles, well still be too slow to collect what we need."
"And were going too fast to stop, for darn sure. Too slow to start the drive, and too fast stop anywhere and pick up hydrogen, even if there were a truck stop out here. Damn. Doubledamn. Ill tell the crew."
"Well thats just great! I came a hundred lightyears to die out here in the middle of nowhere?!? Im a pilot! Im supposed to go out with a bang, not with a whimper!" shouted Brad.
"Home knows our position, and will know our situation. We could just ride it out in the pods," said Lisa.
"Sure. We zip through this star system and on out into The Night. We may never wake up. They may never send anybody after us. Besides, well be poking along at sub ramdrive speeds. It would be like an jetliner trying to rendezvouz with a rowboat," said Kevin.
"But we can sleep a long time, Kevin," said Lisa. "Surely somebody would be able to come get us in a thousand years."
"Our reactors are only good for five hundred years, Lisa. And the broadcasts weve been getting from home are telling me that theyre nowhere near any kind of "warp drive."
"Those broadcasts are fifty years old, Kevin. Surely "
"Lisas right, Lietenant," said Michael. The signals are old. Who knows? Help may already be on the way, before we even ask for it. You know the physics as well as I do. Reverse propagation waves, and the like." Michael walked over and hugged the frightened dachsund/vixen. "Right Kevin?" His look was imploring, and Kevin caught his meaning.
"Yeah Right Michael. I think she has a point. Theres always the pods. Besides, were not out of options yet." Kevin looked at the stricken Dani. "We are definitely not out of options yet."
"You have something you wish to share with us Lietenant?" asked the Captain.
"No, Skipper. I dont have any idea we can either slow down enough to stay in this system, or pick up enough speed to light our torch. Were way too fast to use tethers to lasso some poor unsuspecting moon system, IF we could adjust our course to get close enough. Gravity assist wont be enough. We dont have enough superconductor to build a mag-sail, while I could fabricate a solar sail, were still going too fast for it to stop us."
"I see. In the meantime, I want you to see about rigging the ship for an Extra Long Night. I want those reactors to last us as long as they possibly can."
"Aye, Skipper. Im on it."
With an uncharacteristicly jaunty step, the cat vanished down the corridor, and up the tubes to the Core, and Engineering.
Cindy watched him as he left, cocking an eyebrow. "Okay. I think the rest of you still have your assignments. Were still closing on this system, and while weve identified a few gas giants, I want every rock in this place catalogued and charted. This may be our swan song, people, so lets make it count. Our duty isnt to ourselves; its to those who come after us. Madam Commissioner?" She looked at the mouse, who was staring vacantly at her clipboard and the charts and schedules and protocols it contained. "Commissioner? Dani?" She continued.
"I need your help with some things. Theres a lot of paperwork to deal with and transmit back home."
"Yes. Yes of course. Paperwork Ill be glad to." The Mission had failed.
The Seeker whistled through space, both too fast and too slow at the same time, in a strange, paradoxical state. A steady stream of information was coming in and keeping everyone busy that wanted to be. Brad barricaded himself in his quarters and refused to talk to anyone. Hopkins, true to form, was as hyper as ever, though, performing analysis after analysis of the star systems resources in meticulous detail. With the irrepressible Lisa helping him, he was working on some sort of magnum opus of planets, asteroids, moons, and comets. Treasure of treasures, one of the gas giants close in to the primary had a large life bearing moon! Tony spent his time figuring out the orbital periods of a pair of shepherd moons with a thin ring of ice between them.
Kevin had finished preparing the ship to be what was in all likelihood their coffin, lost between the stars. Like Brad, he holed up away from everyone. Engineering was very much his place. He only came out for short trips to the observatory, or to deal with some bot which had gotten confused in one of the tasks he had assigned it. They had certainly been busy lately.
Tony Durham, ordinarily just a scientist, helped the Captain with getting the ship squared away, as well as keeping Dani occupied with whatever beauracratic make-work that they could invent between the two of them. The entire crew had considered the Commissioner to be a pain, but they had never actively disliked her. With The Mission A Failure, she was becoming more and more withdrawn and meek. "This really is my ship," Cindy thought to herself. "Not the States, or the Peoples. Mine. And these are my crew, and Im not going to let any of them lose hope. Even if I have to make it up myself." Her responsibility weighed heavily upon her shoulders. She was glad to have Tony around to help her through it.
A few shipdays later
"WARNING! FIRE IN ENGINEERING!" the alarm shouted, repeating itself. Throughout the ship, lights turned red, blinked, or otherwise made sure that all aboard were aware that Something Important was happening, and would they please attend to it.
The entire crew swarmed up the tubes, dropping what they were doing, and headed to Engineering. A heavy pressure door was closed between the Core and Engineering. There was an incongrous sign painted on the door saying "Keep Out" that Kevin had added soon after they had begun their journey together. And Kevin was nowhere to be found; he was presumably on the other side of the pressure door.
Tony and Brad leapt to the door and tried to pry it open, a task made difficult by a lack of purchase, since they were in freefall here at the Core. Cindy was shouting into a comm panel for Kevin to answer. "Nekohashi! Are you okay!? Answer me, dammit! Were coming! Hang on!" Hopkins and Dodson were there too, together it seems, and both terrified of what what happening, and for their friend the engineer. Even Dani was looking more engaged, rather than the shell she had been. Lt. Sorrell kicked his way in through the hatch, and caught a handhold to stop himself.
Thats when the hatch behind him slammed shut.
The sudden silence of the fire alarms was deafening. Nobody moved for a crystalline moment that seemed like eternity.
The Captain was the first to recover. "Durham, Hawthorne, I want that hatch open yesterday! Kevin?! Can you hear me? Were almost to you! Hang on!"
"I can hear you just fine, Skipper. No need to shout," came Kevins reply over the comm panel.
"Smartass! Are you okay? We cant get the door open to get to you!"
"I dont think you understand, Skipper. Im fine. There wasnt a fire. And I dont want you to get to me."
Again, nobody moved. Everybody looked to the Captain.
"Lietenant. Open. The. Hatch. That is a direct order."
"Im sorry, Dave, I cant do that " Kevins laughter was tinny over the comm panel.
"Nekohashi, you are so going on report! Open this door right now!"
"Im sorry your signal is breaking up ." Kevins voice dripped with sarcasm.
"Nekohashi, if you dont open this door and come out of there and explain yourself, I swear that if any of your family are still alive when they find us, you are going to shame and dishonor them!"
"Im afraid thats where youre wrong, Skipper," quipped the cat. "I think my ancestors will find me most honorable. Why dont you try the video feed from the Bridge?" Cindy reached out and tapped the screen.
"Oh my god " Cindy heard herself say.
Lt. Kevin Nekohashi, Ships Engineer was on the Bridge, sitting in his usual position, but dressed in a kimono and headband emblazoned with the Rising Star. The katana and wakizashi he had paid heavily with his personal luggage allotment to carry aboard were tucked in his waist.
"It is time for you to all get in your pods," said Kevin flatly. To punctuate his words, the air pumps came on, and began to draw the air out of the Core.
"Nekohashi, I am not having a mutiny on my ship! Now you stand down! I am not going to let you kill us all!" Rydell railed at him.
"Sorry, Skipper. Its not your ship though. Its the Peoples. Its The States. Its Danis."
The Commissioner gasped.
Rydell changed tactics. "Yes, youre right, Kevin. It is hers. Now can we just talk about this?" She wasnt sure how long it would take the pumps to evacuate the Core. Some time, but not a long time
"Nope. This is my time. Im calling the shots for the moment, Skipper. For once, people are going to listen to me, and take me seriously, rather than take me for granted. I suppose this is the part where I tell you my evil plan, as the air is slowly sucked from the room you are in, no?" There was a rumble as Kevin halted the spin of the HabnLab ring, and started folding it back into the ships hull.
"Kevin. Please. Youve lost it you need help "
"BUZZZZ!!!! Wrong! But thanks for playing, Skipper! Im beyond help now. I think my ancestors will judge me fairly, though. Now shut up and listen. I am going to save you. Im going to save the ship. Im going to save The Mission."
"Kevin, you cant!"
"Do NOT tell me what I cant do, Skipper!" shouted Kevin. "I am sorry. I did not mean to get so angry. Yes, I can save you all, and The Mission as well. Not to mention accrue enormous amounts of honor. I think you have maybe 6 minutes of air before you all begin to pass out. Dont you want to hear how? Im quite proud of it."
"Sure, Kevin but if you run on too long, you may have to shut off the air pumps.. or we wont be concious to hear your plan isnt that right?"
"Dont worry Skipper. Ill be brief. Im going to execute a slight course correction which will aim us more towards the sun. Then Im going to crank up the ramdrive field and use it as a magsail. With a high enough energy level, we can push against the solar wind and slow down. Ive got a nice little orbit all picked out. As it happens, youll wind up only a few thousand miles from a comet going the same way, in the same orbit. Pretty lucky, eh? Get your hydrogen from there, and go on with The Mission."
"Kevin, you cant be serious. The electromagnetic field from the ram drive will kill you with hard radiation! Quickly, no less! Besides, if your idea will work, the computers can just do it "
"Im afraid not, Skipper. Yes, it will kill me, but not instantly. I will be able to stay alive long enough to keep everything running. You see, the computers were never programmed to handle this, so Im going to have to sort of babysit them all the way through, and adjust as things break.
"Okay fine, now youre dead, and were off to the next star system, with no engineer!" countered the Captain.
"True. But were all crosstrained. And Ive modified the programming of the computers and the bots to make it easier for yall. Ive even left instructions on how to handle most problems. What did you think I was doing after I rigged the ship for the Long Sleep?"
"Kevin, I will not let you do this. Period. Stand down. I am not going to give up my ship and get in that pod."
"Danis ship, Skipper." Kevin smiled. "And Ill just wait till youre passed out and then come back there and stow you away myself. Checkmate. Now put Dani on."
"Oh, come on, Lieuten-" The air pumps increased their whine. Cindy felt her ears pop. "Okay, okay! Relax! Fine, Kevin, whatever you say!" The pumps turned completely off, stopping the evacuation process.
Kevin looked down at his panel as Danis frightened face swam into view. He smiled at her. "Dont worry sweetheart. This is going to work. It isnt going to end here. Were going to keep going to the stars. Were going to complete The Mission, and blaze the trail for all to come after us. And Ill be right here with you."
"Dani, dont be afraid. Please. I love you. Ive never told anyone that before. But I do. I love you, and I will die for you, for my friends, and for all those people that we undertook The Mission for. Ive loved you since we were all candidates at the academy together. Danille Murrietta, will you be my wife?"
"B-b-but Kevin ?" The shock on the mouses face was echoed around the room. The Captain wondered at what point it was exactly that her ship had entered the Twilight Zone.
"I know what youre going to say. But the Skipper can marry us. Isnt that right, Skipper? So how about it, Dani? Im going to do this regardless, but its ultimately for you."
"Kevin!" shouted Rydelle.
The cat ignored her. "Well, Dani?"
"Yes, Kevin. Ill do it. I would be honored to be your wife! Just please dont do this!" cried the mouse, tears forming lenses over her eyes that she had to shake away. The floated around her face like diamonds.
"Its the only way, Dani, my love. And the Skipper knows it, I think."
"Kevin!" sobbed the little mouse.
"Please dont cry, Dani. I dont like you like this. I like the tough strong Dani. Thats why Im doing this. Keep going, Dani. Finish The Mission."
The Commissioner fought back a sob, and chewed her lower lip. "Okay okay, Kevin. I realize how badly you want this as much as I want it. Ive always felt connected to you to as if wed known each other in a past life or something. So yes, Ill keep going. Ill get out and push this ship with my bare paws if I have to. Thats a promise!"
"Thats my girl. Feisty! If youll open your locker youll find a kimono, and squeeze bulbs wth some rice wine. Ideally, we should do this in person, but I dont think the Skipper would let me follow through on my plans. So, just put on the kimono, Skipper, you pronounce us married, and everybody drinks a toast! What do you think?"
Back in the Core, Dani kicked over to her locker, where she found a delicate silk kimono, and the squeezebulbs of rice wine that Kevin had mentioned. The flowing kimono was hard to deal with in freefall, but she got it on, and passed out the wine to everyone, despite the shock and surrealness of the situation.
"Okay, Skipper. I think you know the drill." To punctuate his words, Kevin blipped the air pumps twice.
"Have it your way, Lieutenant. Do you take Dani to be your wife, for as do you?" Strangely, Cindy was having trouble controlling her voice.
"Dani, do you take Kevin?" Again, she struggled to keep her voice from cracking.
"Yes. I do."
"Then by the powers vested in me by The State and as Captain of the Seeker, I pronounce you married." Captain Cindy Rydelle finally lost her composure when the cat and mouse touched hands on the comm panel. She buried herself in Tonys arms.
"I love you, Dani. Now get in your pod. All of you, so I can do this. Were coming up on the zero hour if Im going to drop you off next to that long period comet.
Brad: "Kevin you are the cockiest and bravest sumbitch I think I have ever met."
Tony: "Kevin youre a good friend."
Scott: "Dude thanks. I mean, thanks times e to nth."
Lisa: "Waaaaaah!!!!!!" Kevin grinned at that.
Michael: Youre a smart aleck, Nekohashi, but Im proud to have known you.
Cindy: "Okay, Lieutenant. I want my ship out the other side of this maneuver without a scratch on it, do you hear me?"
"Aye, Skipper. Its been a pleasure serving under you, Cindy."
"And one more thing I think you may be right about the whole honor thing."
"Kevin?" asked Dani.
"I think youre the most noble man Ive ever met I will tell your family of your sacrifice . And . I will be strong for you." Rock hard control clamped down on the quaver in her voice.
"Thank you. Now go."
"It was a hell of a ride. Deceleration tugged him against his harness. Hard radiation sleeted through him, since he wasnt in the protective confines of the Core. He could even see flashes as fast moving particles excited the atoms in his corneas. The radiation gauge was off the scale, but still he held on, fighting the crashing systems as they died, bringing them back to life again, so that he could continue this suicidal run and still have a ship at the end to show for it. Finally, though, it was over. There was not so much damage that the bots could not repair it, and we were right in the orbit he had wanted us to be in, so that we could get all the hydrogen we needed from that comet. I like to think that the last thing he saw before he died were three pictures. One of this place, his ancestral home. One was of the crew, with "Friends" written on it in kanjii. And one was of me. We finished The Mission because of him. So here I am, to return his katana and wakizashi to you." Danielle Murrieta-Nekohashi bowed to the many-times greatly removed grand nephew of her late husband.
"Arigato, Nekohashi-sama. You are our honored ancestor as well. Please make your home with us. I know that none of us knew your Kevin he lived so long before our time. But I am sure his spirit has found its way here. Wont you stay?"
"Thank you, but no. I think his spirit is somewhere else. And thats where Im going to find it. There are some newer, faster ships theyre building, and they need crews. Im going out there, because thats where Ill find him."
"As you wish. But you are still part of our family. Come back when ever you can."
Dani Nekohashi made her leave, and headed back into the Long Night.
News report: June 3252
It is a sad day. The worlds oldest realtime living woman is presumed dead, along with all hands of the Breckenridge when she suffered an Alcubierre Drive failure. Danielle Murrietta-Nekohashi spent more time aboard deep space relativistic exploration vessels than anybody has over a thousand years of real time, and only hundred for her. And in case you missed her name, its Nekohashi; the same name as the hero engineer who saved the Seeker, allowing it to find some of the richest worlds in this part of the Arm. Its fitting that the crew of the Seeker should all be reunited at last.