CHAPTER FIVE June 4, 2393
Asin hadn't opened her birthday present in the entire year she'd been trapped alone, waiting for her parents to return.
The clock she and her father had built made it official: she was fifteen. The crowbar with the pink ribbon was still on her mother's workbench, so she picked it up and went to the crate.
She was sure it was a JE-50 robot kit, but when she pried the top off, she couldn't believe her eyes. It was the JE-55, which wasn't supposed to be out until .. well ... now.
The container was massive. lt contained all the parts to build the JE-55, but it was next-gen and also had a six-by-sixby-eight foot self-contained "store" that she knew would provide all sorts of upgrades. It looked like her father had ordered every possible option from the manufacturer in Jade City, one of the five major cities on the ship.
The instruction chip laid out all the details, so even a beginner could put the JE-55 together. Asin was not a beginner. She went to work. Her father had always taught her that precision and attention to detail were the keys to why his robots so rarely had breakdowns.
Though she could have probably figured it all out on her own, Asin read the instructions carefully and followed them to the letter. Her weld bonding was better than that of most people who had been at it for twenty years.
It took six hours, but she had the first of the robot's hands together.
Asin went to get some food. Robot Maintenance Bay 14 had a cafeteria and a kitchen. There was a massive amount of food there because they had shared it with the pilots in the nearby fighter squadron, SAQ-135, which went by the nickname Ice Devils
The only place other than the repair bay she had access to was the Ice Devils' launch bay. She didn't like to go there often, though, because it was so big and empty. All but one of the fighter ships was gone, and she knew the reason none of them had come back. Asin made some powdered eggs and heated a can of soup. It wasn't much of a birthday lunch, but it was probably the first time in a year she had been at all happy.
Being locked in had been terrible at first. The battle had raged on outside, though she couldn't see or hear it, and she had wanted to run out and try to find her parents. It hadn't been possible, and even if it had been, she knew her father would have wanted her to stay put. Every day, Asin had prayed they were safe in another part of the ship and were just as trapped as she was.
Now that she was fifteen, it was time to get back to living.
She read the manual as she ate. It was going to take weeks to build, which was great because she loved a challenge. When it was done she would activate her robot and give it its first task.
The JE kit series was unique in that the models were sort of like video games. Each robot was designed to do real work, and every time it completed a task it earned experience points. When it had accumulated enough points to go to the next level, Asin would get to choose an add-on.
The add-on list was awesome. There were speech upgrades, skills, personalities, and physical add-ons. The upgrade "store" that came with it had all of these, and when she chose how to spend her experience points, the store would dispense the upgrade like a vending machine.
She was excited because she would get to keep working on building and improving the robot for years. Some of the upgrades would take a long time to earn.
Asin was most excited about level seven, when she could choose the artificial intelligence conversation upgrade.
The JE-55 was different because it was the first model designed specifically with the ship Magellan in mind. The earlier models had been aimed at the Earth and Mars outpost markets. Many of the tasks were simple household chores, but the 55 also included tens of thousands of possible tasks that were unique to the Magellan.
The kids at her school would have been so jealous. Asin gave a little sigh. She missed her parents, friends, and her teachers. She hoped they were all right, but the undeniable fact that a year had passed without a single person returning made her think that maybe the ship was just a floating, destroyed mess, except for her little part.
"Just keep going, Asin," she said aloud. It was what her father always told her when she would get frustrated or stuck on a task, and it always made her stop feeling sorry for herself and get back to work.
It didn't matter if she was he ony person left on the ship or not; she was alive and she was going to build a robot. The two of them would figure a way out of this mess.
If you wanna read more on this story, buy this book: Byrne, Arthur. The Magellan Apocalypse: Asin's Hope (The Magellan Apocalypse series Book 2) (Kindle Locations 1876-1877). Brian D. Meeks