25.5 Testing Times
Roosa Section, the Moon: 8 June 2128
Ellie emptied the contents of her stomach over the floor of her cubicle, missing the bed by inches.
"Fuck it," she said wiping her mouth on the back of her hand. She'd learnt the new swear word only hours beforehand. After hearing a local use it she'd looked it up on the MoonNet to discover that it was centuries old. Not for the first time she cursed AI on its meddling. 'Dango' was meaningless – it had been something that one of London's NewGen had made up, but 'fuck' felt satisfying.
In addition, 'fuck' was probably the reason she was feeling sick. Looking up swear words wasn't the only use to which she'd put MoonNet – she'd initially put the sickness down to the lack of gravity but the medical information she had discovered suggested pregnancy could be another possibility.
She pulled several wipes from the dispenser in the bathroom and attempted to clean the room. The bathroom, little more than a cupboard off the main cubicle, seemed to have an endless supply of wipes. Hopefully, no one was counting how many she was using. She flushed them away and looked at herself in the mirror. The reflection showed a stranger: dark brooding eyes in a solemn face barely surrounded by hair, chopped as it was so savagely short. What had happened to that pretty girl who used to look back at her? Would she ever return?
She had a shower and returned to searching MoonNet again. A few more minutes revealed something called a pregnancy test; history showed that it had been created more than a century before. More of AI's meddling – just how much had it hidden from them? Finding there was no charge to her for such a test, she ordered one and was told to pick it up from a local pharmacy. Her navpad immediately sprang to life and showed an interactive map on its surface giving directions.
"So, finally found a use for this thing," she thought.
Three hours later she held the confirmation in her hand. It indicated a ninety-four percent chance of pregnancy.
Rick had been right all along. Now what was she to do?
She told no one.
?: 8 June 2128
Mila floated. Wake up, Mila, she thought to herself.
Had something just happened? Details were vague. Maybe whatever had happened had been long ago. She tried to think, but her thoughts were elusive, drifting from one random subject to another.
No, she wasn't burning. Why would she think that? She was warm. A comfortable warmth, a just right warmth. A Goldilocks 'just right' warmth.
Was this another dream? But Rick pestered her in her dreams, and she knew she was alone.
Alone but calm. It felt good to be calm again.
Opening her eyes or closing her eyes made no difference. What she could see was nothing more than a uniform hue – somewhere between yellow and red, but not quite orange.
Sleep, she thought.
The rest of her consciousness agreed.
"Sleep," she/they said, separately and in unison. "And prepare."
"Prepare for what?" she thought.
"Healing," the answer came.
"What healing?" she asked.
There was no answer but it didn't matter, and so she slept.
LSA Control Centre: 9 June 2128
Data control centres across the Moon were franticly trying to correlate the information coming in. Underneath Lussac crater Andrew March racked his brain trying to make sense of it. He failed.
"You've really no idea?" Melissa said.
"None," he shrugged.
"The data's being analysed all over," Janet added, her voice failing to hide a tremor. "Looks like no one else has any more of a clue than we do."
"Is it dangerous?" Tariq Ghannam asked from across the room. Janet shrugged and spread her hands.
"It still says 'insufficient data'," Andrew replied. "All this stuff coming in and it can't tell us anything about what's going on down there, or how."
They stared at the live feeds. What had started three hours earlier on Earth was inexplicable. First, the tectonic reactions had dramatically quietened. Within fifteen minutes they had ceased. Completely. The glow where molten lava had poured from the crust was now dark. Closing in using satellite views they watched the flows solidifying and then crumbling as if years were passing within minutes.
The air around the planet, previously turbulent and unpredictable, calmed and cleared. Using cloud-penetrating frequencies had became almost unnecessary.
Soon, they spotted pinpricks of green that spread outwards.
"That growth is far in excess of what we observed on Paradise," Andrew said.
"Damn, stop it, you stupid planet," Melissa whispered. "We've had enough of your tricks."
The flow of data accelerated.
"Janet, can we allocate more space?" Andrew barked. "We are close to capacity."
"No," Janet shouted back. "We've already exceeded our quota – Central Systems are also refusing requests – looks like we're not the only ones low on storage. Hopefully, one of the other stations still has spare."
"Assuming the others are also collecting the same information, can we dump ours and continue afresh?" Melissa suggested.
"Risky," Andrew said. "There's no telling if we're all receiving exactly the same data."
"We might miss something important," she retorted.
"We might erase something equally as important," he replied.
"Rate of flow reducing," Dyani Metoxen said from her station.
"Ah, I think it's finished," Andrew said seconds later.
"Yes, the data dump is down to a trickle again," Janet announced. Then she had a thought. "Dyani, can you compare the current incoming data with readings from twenty-two years ago?"
"Digging them out now," Dyani said. A few minutes later she said, "Adding the comparison to your desk now."
Janet looked at the figures appearing in front of her. "Damn, but this looks similar to the time before the asteroid." She looked back at the live view. "Not quite the same, though."
"What's happening, Mum? What's it doing?" Melissa asked.
"Fixing itself, I think. Don't ask me how. The whole damn planet is repairing itself."
"Looks like Rick or someone else down there must have survived recombination," Andrew muttered.
Thank you for reading Splinters. Do please vote and/or leave a comment to tell me what you think.
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The Moon colonists watch in fear as an asteroid, far larger than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, plummets towards the Earth. The collision leaves the planet blackened and lifeless. Can the colonists survive their sudden en...