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**** FROM: nebula.symmons @ ases voyager
**** SUBJECT: Water Leak
**** Transcript for QEC generated on:
     2330.04.17 @ 22:46 (local time)
     by Aster, Neb's AI companion!


Hello to friends near and far! Today was... interesting, to say the
least. I'll just get right into it.

I woke up to an alarm and about an inch of water at the bottom of my
cabin. The sunlamps hadn't turned on yet, so I checked my clock:
03:27. I barely had time to fully wake up before I got a summons to
the engine sector. Apparently whatever had gone horribly wrong here
needed a computer engineer to help fix it.

The hallways in the residence sector had turned into tiny rivers. The
water was never very deep, but it was still flowing from
somewhere. Seeing this much running water on a spaceship was certainly

The sound of rushing water got louder as I got closer to the
engine core sector. As I turned the corner into the control room, I
practically ran into Archie, one of the sysadmins on the Ases. He
definitely looked as if he had been woken up in the middle of the
night. His hair was sticking up in odd places and he was wearing
pajama pants with his work shirt.

"Neb!" He said. "We need you to check out the cooling system. Log in
to terminal seven over there. The core team engineers have already
stopped the leak, but we need you to check the code and figure out
what caused this so it doesn't start again. We don't want to finish
cleaning up only for more water to come pouring out."

"Got it," I said. I don't normally work in the core sector of the
ship, but all the terminals on board are practically identitcal. Some
of the more vital functions run on designated systems that can't be
accessed from anywhere else on the ship. It helps with security, but
it certainly makes things more complicated when an emergency happens.

The alarm had finally stopped, so I was able to focus and figure out
what caused the cooling system to spew water everywhere. I'll leave
out the gritty details, but it all started with a particularly nasty
buffer overflow. The team that wrote the cooling system software had
done a good job, but if you run a program for nearly a hundred years,
you're bound to find a few bugs somewhere.

Luckily, once I figured out how the code was laid out, it was a fairly
quick patch. I sent it to the maintenance team along with a few notes
to review in the morning. Once I reassured Archie that the cooling
system wouldn't start leaking again, my work was done. It was already
almost 05:00. I had too much energy to fall back asleep, so I grabbed
a mop and joined the effort to clean up the water. I needed to work
off what Corinna calls my "nervous fingers" - I just get a bit antsy
after I spend a while hyperfocused on something. It was also an
opportunity to look around the core sector a bit. Maybe I'd run into
Corinna. I feel like I've barely seen her since she started working in
the core. I guess it's normal for siblings to talk to each other less
as they get older, but it still feels weird.

Once I got into the rhythm of mopping, I could tune into the
conversations happening around me. The atmosphere in the core control
room is definitely different from the atmosphere in the engineering
wing where I usually work. People were more reserved and they barely
chatted while they worked. Maybe it was because everyone had been
woken up in the middle of the night, but it definitely felt
different. If this had happened in the engineering wing, we would've
spent the whole time joking about it and complaining about our loss of

Another strange thing that I noticed was the lack of equipment
checks. Water leaks on a spaceship can cause a lot of damage. People
looked stressed, but no one was panicking. No one was reading out a
list of systems to check or sending teams to report on the status of
other rooms in the core sector. Maybe this is just the stoic nature of
people who work in the core sector, but it just felt strange to me.

I can see why Corinna likes working in the core, though. Everyone
there is no-nonsense, just like her. Even though there was a disaster
happening, it always felt like the core team had everything under

Eventually, someone took my mop and told me to go back to bed. There
was still plenty of water and I wanted to protest, but I was tired. I
could do what I was told if that involved going back to sleep.

The problem was that I had done a fair bit of wandering while I was
cleaning up, and now I didn't know where I was. The core sector is a
strange place to begin with, and I had never really explored it. I
couldn't pull up the ship map, because the engineering team had taken
the system offline while they were protecting it from the flood. The
person who took my mop was already gone, so I started wandering in the
direction that I thought would take me back to the residential sector.

After a few minutes, I determined that I was actually heading deeper
into the core sector. I felt like a child - no one gets lost on the
ship anymore. Once you grow up, you realize that it really isn't that
big. A few years of wandering is all you need to build a good sense of
direction. The core sector was different, though. There were fewer
signs, and they were labled with locations that seemed like they only
made sense to the people who worked in the core. There were several
hallways where I had to turn around and backtrack because the only way
through involved a locked door that I wasn't authorized for. Luckily,
I was too tired to be properly frustrated.

I eventually started basing my navigation on pure gut feeling. This
part of the ship was unfamiliar, but I could tell when I was getting
closer to the core. Maybe it had something to do with the rumbling of
the engine, I'm not sure. I was worried that I was walking in circles.

Finally, I crossed paths with Corinna. She seemed surprised to see
me. I was just glad to run into someone who knew their way around the

"You look exhausted, Neb," Corinna said.

"I was just helping out. They told me to go back to sleep, but I got
lost, and uh... I'm just glad I ran into you," I said.

"I'm glad too. You really shouldn't wander around the core."

"It is a strange place," I replied. "I felt more lost here than I ever
have in other places on the Ases. And it kind of felt like the core
was pulling me in or something. Maybe my brain is just making things
up because I'm sleepy."


Corinna didn't say anything else as she walked me out of the
core sector. Stoic as always.

She did stop me before I entered the residential sector, though.

"Hey, Neb. After you get some sleep, do you want to meet up for lunch?
It's been a while since we caught up."

"That sounds great," I said.

"Great. Ping me when you wake up and you're ready for some food. I'll
see you then."

I waved as Corinna turned around and headed back to the core. I hoped
she would get some sleep, too. She always seems to work a bit too
hard. Maybe it's an older sister thing.

I practically collapsed into my bed when I got to my cabin. The floor
drainage system had done its job and there was barely any water left
on the floor.

I almost fell asleep, but then I remembered: "Aster, disable my
morning alarm."

"Done. Your alarm will resume tomorrow at 06:00."

"Aster, remind me to log overtime with RHEMy tomorrow."

"I will remind you when you wake up."

"Great. Thanks, Aster."

"Goodnight, Neb."

Aster's voice faded out and was replaced by the gentle piano music
that I programmed to play as I fall asleep. I drifted off wondering
how other people on the Ases made it through the days without their
own version of Aster. Sure, RHEMy could set reminders for you, but
none of the other AIs on the ship were programmed to be your friend. I
know I have a soft spot for computers, but I really do consider Aster
to be one of my closest companions.

Wow, it's [YAWN] later than I thought. I'm still low on sleep, so
I need to get to bed on time. Lunch with Corinna was nice, but I'll
save that story for the next broadcast, so make sure to tune in
then! Of course, if you're getting my show transcripts via the QEC,
just be on the lookout for when the next one comes in. I don't have a
regular broadcast schedule: just think of it as a fun surprise when
you get a message from your pal Neb on the Ases Voyager.

Take care and stay curious!