Thursday, January 3, 2008

3. Heat Sink

There is something about Mangels that infatuates her sensory apparatus - the proud tilt of his nose, the smooth planes of his body, the fractal curls of his golden hair. If she allowed herself the pleasure, Bolex could collate and analyse Mangels-related data indefinitely - but now is not the time. She must ensure the survival of the zodiac. The monocoque liferaft will not sustain Mangels’ life for long.

She has managed to bring the vessel into a reasonably stable orbit and is transmitting emergency codes. She initiates short, controlled farts from the attitude jets, evening the craft’s pitch and yaw for the comfort of her treasured ward.

A confusion of objects tumbles about the cabin. On board the Ms Semipalatinsk, the zodiac served as an informal closet for Mangels’ gear and is now a hazard of sports equipment - snow skis, pitons, weights, wetsuit, aqualung.

Mangels, unconcerned by his situation, happily traces the random paths of the worthless jewels through the cramped cabin. A hard Doric thigh presses against the bustle of heat sinks on Bolex’s posterior panel. She absorbs an uncomfortable quantity of excess energy back into her circuits, so as not to burn his tanned and sensitive dermis.

She fires a tiny burst from the verniers to avoid a cartwheeling lump of frozen human waste.


A quarter-hour later, and still she has received no response to her mayday. She must sedate Mangels to conserve a short supply of oxygen. She injects him with something from the first aid kit, deftly straps down his drifting body and begins clearing the air of dangerous flotsam.

She shivers.

Bolex and the craft have collected a sudden burst of signal: a rough scan. Quick harmonic fingers, brushing the ship, seeking resonant frequencies, obtaining a precise knowledge of the zodiac and its occupants.

Their rescuers, doubtlessly primitive, are in the vicinity.


A clunking of drogues against the hull. Instruments show a single-use coracle in synchronous orbit with the zodiac. Bolex gleans its serial number and performs a swift inquiry. She accesses Lloyd’s maritime register, compiles a ten meg precis, and evaporates in an artful pulse that lands GigaFresh with the fee.

No good news.

The coracle is registered to New Harmony, the habitat almost certainly responsible for the death of the Miss Semipalatinsk.

Bolex has no resources for resistance. She must allow the zodiac to be appropriated, She worries for the bundle of slack flesh battened down beside her.

She considers her possible paths of action and chooses the one most likely to assist Mangels in his plight.

Quickly, she performs a physical reconfiguration and affixes herself to an aft panel. For the unknowing, she is now an integral part of a Nautilus exercise rig.

1 comment:

Ann O'Dyne said...

an astrophysical cliff-hanger.
Zareeldi (W.Vn)