I, Juancho, a mere bureaucrat, but essential to the mission, I assure you, was worried. Even I knew that the frying pan was gone and we were now facing a danger of being incinerated by growing flames.
Commander Alves is a fine person and a good commander. I have great confidence in her, and was pleased to be selected for the Coronado’s first mission on Feymann. (Her second, the snide Lieutenant Commander Cark, is not viewed with the same joy, and I did not look forward to this situation now with him onboard.) However, I doubted Commander Alves’ optimism and reassurances. “That may not be the Beagle that exploded over Feynmann,” she told us. She was being hopeful, I know, but each consumed tequila and coke that I consumed convinced me that the end was closer than we thought.
Let us review. We’re on the Coronado. It’s a fine vessel, new, as well-built as human robots can conceive and execute. We don’t lack for protection or comfort. Fully armored, each of the thirty of us onboard have private quarters. They’re not as large nor luxurious as those we enjoyed upon the Beagle. Of course not. The Beagle quarters were permanent. These quarters are temporary, for the Coronado is an explorer. (I don’t understand why they named the ship after a luxury resort chain, but that’s another debate.)
That is the difficulty with surviving on the Coronado. It is an explorer vessel. Our mission on Feynmann’s surface was to be for twenty-one day’s duration. We have food for a little longer, and fuel, and the life-support systems should not be troubled, if all works well. But, that is the but in my drink. They always tell us that we must be prepared for failure, and then prepare for our preparations to survive failure to fail as well. This situation was the prime example of that maxim.
Should anything fail on the Coronado, we expected backup and support from the Beagle. If one of us became gravely ill or injured, we would be lifted to the Beagle. In the end, our tunnel on the Coronado was twenty-one days long, and the light on the end was the Beagle.
We would not survive, no, I was thinking. The question was more about how agonizing our deaths would be, and whether suicide or murder were better options.
Do I shock you? Those were the choices for each of us, as I viewed it. Suicide didn’t appeal to me but waiting for rescue against small odds was less appealing. Murdering others would extend my food supply. Maybe that would provide a chance for rescue, but I would then need to explain the others’ deaths.
That might be difficult, given our personal recording devices. However, as we’ve all been taught since childhood, for every system, there is a vulnerability, and the means to exploit it.
If I could learn that vulnerability and exploit, I, Juancho, could develop a plan.