A Star Ocean The Second Story
alternate universe fanfic
By Maiji/Mary Huang
let me tell you something about fate
For the umpteenth time, she tried again.
"Mayday, mayday," she said, an unreasonably cheerful lilt to her voice. She no longer needed to look to double check her details in the I(ntergalactic) P(ositioning) S(ystem); they had long been burned into her brain out of sheer repetition over the past few hours or so. She'd also reached the point where she felt completely free to take creative liberties with the standard mayday message recommended by the ship's on-board guide.
"One," she sang, "Count 'em, one el-ay-dee-why in distress. Private craft Domina Fortuna, currently in Theta Sector, coordinates XX-XX-XX (and so on and so forth), requests - that is, would really, really love - some assistance from any and all vessels in the area. Would all you fine hunky craft in the immediate vicinity listening to this transmission pleeeeeeease respond."
She paused, then yelled, "RIGHT ABOUT NOW WOULD BE GREAT!"
With a frustrated huff, she shut the comm channel. She tossed her hair. She sat back. She hissed through her teeth. She felt itchy all over. She drummed her elegant nails nervously, impatiently against the arm of her console, ratatatatatatata.
She felt like she was going OUT OF HER MIND.
It was amazing how long a minute could be when you were just. Freaking. Waiting. Much less many, many minutes.
Unexpected system failure, the computer had dryly informed her several hours ago. The planned trajectory of the ship has been overwhelmed by the gravitational pull of the destination planet in conjunction with the irregular influence of unidentified high energy interferences. Please remain calm. Do not attempt to override the system unless you have certified experience in light spacecraft operation. Repeat, do not attempt to override the system or you may void your warranty. The system is now attempting to re-establish autopilot controls. Attempt 1/10 initiated. Attempt 1/10 failed. Attempt 2/10 initiated. Attempt 2/10 failed. Attempt 3/10 initiated ...
It had grown hot, very very hot, as the ship had begun penetrating the layers of the planet's atmosphere. The fact that she hadn't been able to do a thing about anything seriously pissed her off. Ratatatata.
... Attempt 6/10 failed, the computer had reported. Attempt 7/10 initiated. Attempt 7/10 succeeded.
She had whooped out loud, shook her fist in the air.
We are now within the atmosphere of the planet. We are unable to resume original travel trajectory. Now preparing for emergency landing.
"Fantastic," she muttered, two fingers at her mouth. She even almost started to chew at a nail before she caught herself.
Okay, deep breath in. Deep breath out. She'd done this plenty of times of before. Alright, so perhaps once didn't equal plenty, but simulations had to count for something. After all, as they taught you repeatedly in school from the earliest days (when you were just a wee three-eyed tot), odds of crashing a spacecraft were nine million to one. You were far more likely to win the Official Tetragenoit Lottery (not that she cared) or get hit by ball lightning. And even if such a worst case scenario did happen, which was to be expected considering the sheer volume of space travel, there were plenty of safeguards and precautions built in by the very best engineers all over the galaxy, and other galaxies too. And come on, this was a private spacecraft! It was built for rich hobbyists who could afford to blow their parents' not-so-hard-earned cash on nothing but the best! What gives?
So yes, the risk assessment for crashes was something you heard about all the time, so she'd never expected it to happen to someone like her, much less, well, her.
"The system would like to take this moment to remind you that overriding the built-in autopilot function for emergency landings is not recommended," the computer advised. "The system is designed specifically to address such situations. The system will ensure the completion of as safe a landing as possible, taking into account all forseeable variables. Any disruption via manual civilian operation could result in serious injury or death, as well as the nullification of your insurance."
Despite her dire straits, she had to smile at the computer's voice, his voice, the smooth-yet-rough, almost drawling baritone. She'd replaced the default as soon as she could with her own samples. She had enough recordings, after all.
"All systems are engaged in ensuring a safe emergency landing. Now estimating time to impact."
"Hey," she said suddenly, desperate to know. "What are the odds?"
"Please clarify the nature of your inquiry," the computer responded.
"Odds of not going up in flames. Odds of staying in one piece after we smack into the ground. Odds of me not going to the big eyehole in the sky. You know, survival. Those kinds of odds."
"Calculating statistical risk assessment." Digits rolled, flashed across the screen. "Odds of spacecraft component failure, including any and all types of short-circuitry, separations, explosions, et cetera, regardless of degree of severity, are one in eleven thousand, two hundred and thirty five. Odds of serious injury, defined as 'bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty', are one in sixty one thousand, eight hundred and three. Odds of death are one in four hundred and sixty five thousand. Disclaimer: These calculations are extrapolated from immediate data collected at this discrete point in time and may not reflect actual situational outcomes."
She clapped her hands. "Oh, goody."
She eyed the communication channel controls. None of her mayday messages had received a single response. This area was probably out of range of any Federation ships, and now that she was within the atmosphere, even less likely to receive any responses. It seriously blowed.
And yet, even when things looked completely and utterly hopeless, the most intense emotion she felt was not fear. There was fear, to be sure. But, ultimately, what it boiled down to was her simple reaction to the inability to do nothing but sit there. She hated just sitting here. Hated it. Totally not her style.
"Attention," the computer said, flashing a series of animated images across the screen. Colourful humanoid figures folded their arms, squashing their circular faces against the backs of seating units, and contorted themselves, compressing their limbs into uncomfortable-looking positions. "It is highly recommended that you now brace yourself according to the safety instructions indicated. Please select the option you feel most comfortable with. Now initiating countdown to impact."
Well, she thought, now was probably a good time to spout something poetic and immortal. Something that would be picked up light-years from now by a passing spacecraft, and replayed as a historic record, an ode, a testament, a ghost of a signal from ages past that would mystify and inspire for ages to come. Something like, My love, I am coming for you, or Soon, we shall be reunited.
"Ten seconds to impact. Nine seconds to impact."
She kinda liked the first one a bit more. It had a rather timeless quality about it. Romantic yet heroic. She considered her options, her finger hovering in the air just above the touch zone that would open the outgoing comm channel.
"Eight seconds to impact. Seven seconds to impact."
She hesitated. Damn it all. Had this all been worth it?
Images flashed through her mind. She thought of her family, of her friends, of him.
His face was so clear.
Oh, Ern. Did this happen to you?
"Six seconds to impact," the computer said, its synthetic voice eerily calm and maddening. The distance between the nose of the ship and the surface of the planet was closing up with dreadful speed. "Five. Four-"
She jabbed viciously at the touch zone. "F- THIS SH-!" she screamed. Then she closed the channel.
She leaned back into her seat, feeling much calmer, much better and, most importantly, extremely pleased with herself. She mentally patted herself on the back; oh yes, that was a good one. Then she remembered where she was, and quickly braced.
"Three," said the computer. "Two. One-"
Author's Notes: Forget her "sophisticated" depiction in the manga or anime. The crazy lady from the game is the one I love the most. XD
As always, thank you to those reading for being willing to stick with this story for so long! You know what's hilarious? Rereading some of the technology descriptions and thinking how outdated it sounds since the time I originally started this fic. I started to change some of the descriptions in this interlude, but then I got lazy. Enjoy retro-futurism!
Domina Fortuna is supposed to be Latin for "Lady Luck". If it's not, Google/Wikipedia has failed me and I hope someone will be kind enough to correct (or even confirm) me before this disaster goes any further, lol.
Definition of serious injury comes from 'Lectric Law Library's Lexicon (I'd like to provide the URL but the system seems to keep foiling my attempts at including a source). The various odds were arbitrarily derived with the arbitrary assistance of more Google. And yes, lightyear is distance, not time /geek. It just flowed in that line so I left it there.
Other than that, there was some mental debate between me, myself and I as to whether I should use Tetragene (SO2) or Tetragenoit (all the new SOs). In the end, the latter won out.
Sorry guys, I realize I'm screwing up the numbering of the chapters even more ...