Anja was woken with a jolt and thrown from her bunk. She
instinctively braced, expecting to hit the cold steel floor but
after a few seconds it didn't come. She opened her eyes and found
herself floating a few feet above the floor but away from her
bed, almost centre of the room in all 3 dimensions. Before she
could comprehend, gravity became the master again and she was
flung hard to the floor she expected to hit a few seconds
earlier, this time she wasn't braced.
Gravity left again and she began to float upwards. 5 seconds later it returned, sending her back to the floor. Stumbling to her feet she called out even though she was alone in the room. Just as the gravity left her again.
CIM was the ships Command and Intelligence Matrix. It was the main AI (Artificial Intelligence) that controlled the ship. The crew spoke to it and relayed commands and other tasks but pronounced it's name as "Kim". The ship learned this name over time and as any good AI, took on the persona of a female to help ease the crew. It was thought a more adaptive and human sounding AI would help the long journeys in space. It was state of the art... 30 years ago and it's only crew now was in the form of Anja, who was now demanding to know what had woken her.
"CIM, what is happening!"
CIM began to reply in a voice that seemed out of touch and too calm for the given situation "Good Morning Mrs Raik. The ship has suffered an explosive venting of coolant, damaging the artificial gravity and sending the ship out of orbit and spinning uncontrollably"
Just as calm as CIM gave the update, Anja seemed to not be as worried as she should have been given the fact her ship was now uncontrollable. She just let out a dejected sigh and asked:
"Why is the artificial gravity coming on and off at random?" as the gravity again switched off and sent her gently floating upwards.
"I'm attempting to fix the error, but so far I have not had any luck" CIM replied jovially.
"Please...don't bother with that anymore, stop the spin and re-establish orbit" Anja was asking with a fed up tone after being repeatedly thrown against the floor by an AI she thought probably did it intentionally.
"I'm unable" CIM replied almost smugly "the venting is continuing to cause the ship to spin, you'll need to shut off the damaged coolant area so that I can reclaim control.
CIM sounded almost cynical, Anja cursed the adaptive nature of the AI. She'd worked on this ship for years, scouting for potential mining opportunities on this systems moons. But years of cut backs and false leads had left the Company no choice but to leave only Anja and the AI on this particular ship, and after years of just one disheartened crew member and an AI designed to adapt, the mood could often be...tense.
Anja knew where to go. She could navigate the entire ship blind if needed, which she had done so previously before when something else broke and the ship went dark without power for 6 hours. Clambering over conduits and cables up the corridor, things that were not part of the original ship, but were more temporary repairs, Anja decided to look out of one of the portholes to gauge the spin she was in. With CIM being unhelpfully nondescript it could be nothing....or everything.
Peering out into the void Anja would expect to see the azure blue planet in the background. She could, but it was shooting up over the porthole and quickly appearing below it again in a cycle about once a second. Planet, space, planet, space. Anja almost threw up from the maddening rush of disorientation. Suddenly more alert and concerned she pushed on over half broken gantries and flickering lights. How this place hadn't disintegrated years earlier was part miracle and part patchwork repair from Anja.
Anja was approaching the bulkhead door where the panel to access the coolant area was positioned when CIM began to speak in a tone which wouldn't be out of place coming from a fake, overly happy salesman "We have around 3 minutes to repair the venting or I will be unable to re-establish orbit, we don't have enough booster fuel to get us back the 250km we've drifted out to."
"Ok, ok!" Anja wished she could turn CIM off sometimes. 45 seconds later after wrestling with the interface controlling the cooling equipment the venting was stopped. Shortly after CIM had recovered from the spin and was heading back to orbit. Anja sat down on a stack of boxes, groggy and a little fed up she allowed herself a few minutes to collect her thoughts, CIM didn't.
"Since you're awake now I have prepared the diagnostics you need to check over. There is a message from the Company regarding your request for leave...it's been denied. And which processed synthetic protein flavour would you like for breakfast?" CIM announced, back in a more cold computer fashion.
Anja tilted her head up and let out a small giggle. She wondered if she should just strap herself to the bed next time and enjoy the spinning.