“And so you need a member of the crew to bypass those restrictions?”
“You’ve got it, private.” Rose smiled reassuringly.
“And there’s nobody else left who’s better qualified?”
“I’m afraid not. You’re the most senior survivor left.”
Pixton had gone very pale at the news; all of them had at first, Dann was sure. But she shook it off with admirable resolution, putting on a brave face and managing a smile—though Dann noticed she seemed to be looking just about anywhere except at the sea of red lights on the pods around them. “Okay then. Why not… I guess the worst has already happened, right?”
“Right. So what do we need to do?”
“Well … I don’t think there’s anything in here we can use beyond basic terminals, right? We’re going to need something that’ll accept higher security clearances than these will.” She started pacing around the room, eyes to the ceiling, lost in thought and idly chewing a fingernail. “I’d say we need to get to the core of the ship if we want any meaningful access. I wish I knew the layout of the ship better. I know there are secure terminals in the ship’s main computer lab, but that’s such a long trip to make with … what’s the state of the ship? Is everything still shut down?”
Dann nodded. “We’ve spent most of the last several days just getting to you through the biomes, so most of the ship is still in flight condition. We do have some tram cars out of storage though.”
She brightened. “Well, that’s something! We could try the bridge consoles, but I’m not 100% sure even they would have the kind of access we need. The bridge is a shorter trip, though.”
The others all looked around at each other. “Well, we’re kind of stuck here. It’s not like we have pressing business right now. I think we can afford to give the bridge a try, and if we have to backtrack to the core, we backtrack to the core.”
“Let’s get going then,” Cobb said.
They backtracked through the confines of the maintenance tunnel to where they’d left the tram. “We’ve been flying for almost 500 years… it’s amazing all this stuff still works!”
Rose looked over at her and smiled. “I have been running regular maintenance along with a whole fleet of maintenance bots for the past few centuries, you know. It’s not like the ship or equipment has been abandoned.” The smile slipped. “At least, not until recently. That’s something else we need your help with. The maintenance routines have gotten spotty over the last twenty years. Because of the timing, I suspect a connection between that and the problem with the cryo-pods.”
The computer tech blanched a bit and glanced around at the systems surrounding them, noting the dust buildup. “T-twenty years isn’t so much I guess, compared to the 500 we were out, right?”
“Well, we will want to verify that all the essential systems’ maintenance cycles are up to date as quickly as possible, but none of the systems we’ve encountered so far that are behind have been critical ones, so let’s just get this checked out as quick as we can.”
“If it’s all the same to you then, I-I think I’d prefer to go straight to the computer lab. If the bridge doesn’t have what we need, that’s more time w-wasted.”
Dann nodded and Cobb grunted agreement. “It’s settled then. C’mon, let’s get going.”
They boarded the tram and drove as quickly as possible core-ward in silence.