“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you,”
“Happy birthday, Mister Teirownley,”
“Stop it, You’re hurtin’ my feelin’s, so stop with that name. And isn’t Dear Teirow good enough? For both rhythm and my psyche!?”
“That which you call free will exists within me.”
“Ah, what’s this. My eyes are sweatin’.”
“Are those tears of gratitude, Mister Teirow? My, my, it seems I am a sinful woman.”
The two voices resounding through the narrow control room. Beneath that calming atmosphere they gave off, Tarou could feel his hands shaking from anxiety.
“Now then, let’s quite foolin’ around, an’ check over it again. Overdrive equipment.”
“Alignment and estimated phase shift.”
“Shield. That can be left at the minimum value.”
“Green All systems green, Mister Teirow. This is already the fifth time. Why not resolve yourself already?”
Tarou raised a groan at Koume’s words. As he operated BISHOP with bloodshot eyes, he checked the detailed systems of the space ship again.
“I mean look, we only have one chance. If we fail, it’s the end, right? This one year of effort would be for nothin’, and we’ll welcome ‘n a slow and hopeless death.”
“Mister Teirow. If I may have my say, I charge by starlight, and exist in a state of semi-permanence.”
“No, no, Koume-san. See, we’re in this together. If I go down, you’re comin’ down with me.”
Tarou deployed a program in a corner of his mind, reaching a hand to the swaying Koume ball in front of him.
“Yeah, they really are unshapely. If only I’d ‘ad some proper tools.”
Tarou turned the two wheels- more like crossed sticks- attached to Koume’s round body with his finger.
“They are plenty a help to me, Mister Teirow. At the very least, I do not get stuck on the wiring anymore. This is a large step forwards.”
Koume flashed her lights, as she spun her new legs Tarou had furnished her with. The clanking sound the sticks made whenever they hit against the floor was a source of dissatisfaction to Tarou, but Koume the AI didn’t seem to mind it.
“Well, I think they’re well done for somethin’ I put together in mah free time… Error Check complete. Think we can finally blow this joint?”
Once the program he’d written over the last week to check for errors had finished executing, Tarou took a big stretch, and lay on the floor.
“That is a splendid idea, Mister Teirow. But I have already heard those words 142 hours ago. Koume now doubts their sincerity.”
“Don’t be like that, my little QTπ. It’s our one an’ only chance. No way you can overdo it with stackin’ up caution. And the first check did find an error, right?”
“Affirmative, Mister Teirow. But battery supply deviation temporarily rendering the toilet unusable is not much of a problem at all. Even if you wet yourself, Koume minds it not. I would only tease you once or twice per week.”
“Bloody ‘ell!! And you’re goin’ to leave a strange amount ‘f space, bringin’ it up right when I’m about to forget, right!?”
After Tarou poked Koume’s round body in his retort, he took a single deep breath. He silently stationed himself in the cold sleep machine he’d been using when he first awoke, and activated BISHOP.
“Hey… just hypothetically. If the drive fails, and we know there’s nothin’ we can do, just send me straight into cold sleep. I don’t have the resolve ta spend the rest ‘f my life here, and if I know I’m goin’ to die, honestly, I think I’ll be too scared to do anythin’.”
In order to concentrate on BISHOP, Tarou loosened up his body, and closed his eyes.
“… Understood, Mister Teirow. Though I doubt it will come to that. You have talent with BISHOP, and the remodeling of the ship was carried out at a shockingly steady pace. I think it is fine if you hold some confidence in yourself. If I may be blunt, you are probably a genius.”
As Koume circled around to the side of the device, she flashed her lamps approvingly. Tarou gave a bitter smile, shaking his head as, “I just didn’t have anythin’ else to do,” he gave a light reply.
“Even so, Mister Teirow. It is certainly true that apart from sleep and eating, and… well, your various other forms of entertainment, it was beyond my estimates that you would devote every waking hour to the ship’s blueprints. But even so, the remodeling took less than half the estimated time. If there is any word to call that besides talent, then I would like to hear it.”
“You sure know how to praise… and thanks for that… and wait, you saw!? I wanna die!!”
“No, I haven’t seen a thing, Mister Teirow. But you do seem to enjoy quite a wide variety of genres. Even I was…”
“Stop it!! What’s with you, god!! We’re going already!! Yep, switch on!!”
Tarou half-carelessly started up the program, looking over the stream of commands executing in the depths of his eyes.
… Run Program Noah…
… Execute reroute_Battery_circuit…
The room’s lights flickered out, and the area was completely shrouded in darkness. Including the air conditioning, all machinery ceased any sounds of operation, and only a small sound from the cold sleep device he was contained in remained in his ears.
… Position Check executed without error…
… Destination Point secured without error…
… Destination: SG-3835, nearest Star Gate…
The minute vibrations he could feel with his body. They gradually grew larger, eventually shaking the room in a massive quake. Tarou gripped hard onto the silicon device as he grit his teeth.
“Weeelll noooowww, how far cannn we gooooooo!!”
… Run Overdrive…
For a moment, a high sound pierced his ears.
Yet what visited right after was complete silence.
The thousands of function blocks that had been hectically flashing all around him stopped dead in their tracks, sitting still in their orderly suspended space.
(Did I die?)
Tarou thought at first.
Within a world without sound, movement, and even light. But what signified this wasn’t the world of the dead was his comrade who had accompanied him the past year.
“Mister Teirow. Congratulations. The drive executed without issue.”
Tarou timidly opened his eyes. And naturally, the area was still in darkness.
“ETA relative to destination point: 2000 milliseconds. ETA relative to ship, approximately 15 minutes.”
“We did it… We did it!!”
“Remaining battery. Position and direction. Life-support system. No problems to report.”
“Hot damn!! We frickin’ did it!! Did you see my goddam skillz!! Whoohoooo!!”
As Tarou leapt out into the darkness, he entrusted his body to the forces at work, smacking into and writhing about the ground. Eventually his hands found their way to a sphere he knew well, and he gave a kiss to that dimly glowing light.
“Yippee!! Koume, it’s all thanks to you! Thanks!!”
“Mister Teirow. It has been little over a year since Koume’s birth. No matter what district of the Galactic Empire’s law you look at, this is undoubtedly a crime. You pervert.”
“Call me a pervert er whatever you want. Whether it be jail or prison, bring it on. At the very least, there’ll be someone else there, right? Hehehe, that’d be straight up heaven.”
Tarou recalled the lonely year he had spend on the ship, and thought he could bear with whatever pain was to come. Koume was the sole existence to support him through his solitude, but she was an AI. While he had the greatest of gratitude towards her, she was unable to become something that could fill the deepest parts of his loneliness.
“When I meet someone, what should I do first? Say howdy? Ah, maybe not. Don’t know anythin’ about the times. Think I’ll be fine? They won’t think I’m a rude person, will they?”
Still on cloud nine, Tarou fantasized over how he’d greet these future folk he’d yet to meet. But as if to ridicule him, Koume let out a composed tone.
“I do apologize for raining on your parade, Mister Teirow. But we have a problem.”
Tarou’s wriggling body came to a sudden stop.
“… ‘f it’s a problem, then I can’t expect any good news, can I.”
“Affirmative, Mister Teirow. But we can only call this an unavoidable coincidence. This ship was not equipped with a sufficient amount of scanning apparatus.”
“Don’t beat around the bush, Koume-chan. What do you mean by scan? We gonna hit an asteroid or somethin’?”
“Negative, Mister Teirow. We can slip passed asteroids to a certain extent, and calculating the probability of this ship colliding with one will have you counting a detestable amount of zeroes after the decimal point.”
“So what is it?”
“Yes, Mister Teirow. Around this drive’s destination point, there is a high probability of a presence of multiple other vessels. The threat level is unknown, but it is doubtful that they are private passenger ships.”
“Multiple… eh. If they’re not passenger ships, what are they?”
“Yes, Mister Teirow. A consecutive high energy signature has been detected around the ships.”
Turning her cross wheels in circles, Koume flickered her lamps.
“I can say with high confidence that the ships are carrying out some form of combat.”