First Deputy Officer Jenson walked down Corridor Section-9802 of Space Station HN2Z, currently in orbit around the planet Primer-B12, classification U. He’d just woken up from his Company-Mandated Scheduled Re-Energising Time (never abbreviated to CMSRET), and was making his way to the Primary Nutritional Reception Facility. God, he thought, as he meandered sleepily through Corridor Section-9802, why can’t anything just be simple?
Upon entering the Primary Nutritional Reception Facility, First Deputy Officer Jenson slid himself into a Humanoid Support and Comfort Unit next to one of the many Stable and Even Surface Devices that the PNRF was equipped with. “Greetings, First Deputy Officer Jenson,” came a smooth, sexless voice from a speaker in the Stable and Even Surface Device, “can I get you a -”
“Please just call me Jenson,” interrupted First Deputy Officer Jenson. There was silence for a moment.
“You know I can’t do that, First Deputy Officer Jenson.”
“I know, I know.”
“Can I get you a Hot Liquid Stimulant to begin your day, First Deputy Officer Jenson?”
Again, a moment of silence. “A Hot Liquid Stimulant.”
Jenson sighed, resignation playing upon his face like a Series of Projected Images Accompanied By Sound. “Yes, please,” he said. The Hot Liquid Stimulant arrived a few seconds later, along with a Nutritional Intake Selection Card.
“Perhaps,” said the voice from the speaker, “you would care to make a Nutritional Intake Selection from your Nutritional Intake Selection Card?”
Jenson crumpled the Nutrional Intake Selection Card into a ball and threw it into a corner. The voice didn’t say anything.
As Jenson drained the last of his Hot Liquid Stimulant, the Rail Guided Entrance System glided gently along its rail guides with a hiss. Chief Scientific Experiment Officer Dans walked in, his Regulation Scientific Experiment Protective Exterior Uniform lightly singed. “Ah!” he exclaimed upon seeing First Deputy Officer Jenson, “First Deputy Officer Jenson, I don’t suppose you could help me with a small incident that has occurred within the Chemical Reaction Experiment and Observation Area?”
“Something’s happened in the lab?”
Chief Scientific Experiment Officer Dans looked at First Deputy Officer Jenson with a blank stare. “A small incident that has occurred within the Chemical Reaction Experiment and Observation Area,” he repeated.
First Deputy Officer Jenson sighed. “What’s the problem?” he said, dropping his Hot Liquid Stimulant Receptacle into a Superfluous Materials Removal Facility that stood next to the Stable and Even Surface Device.
“Well, three of my Scientific Experiment Colleagues were conducting an Atom-to-Atom Mesh Experiment within the Observational Stage of the Chemical Reaction Experiment and Observation Area and managed to start a Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event, which quickly spread to the surrounding area.”
“A hydrogen-oxygen… a fire?”
He was greeted with the blank stare once again. “A Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event.”
“Well, has it spread?”
“To the surrounding area, as I said.”
“Christ! What happened to them?”
“Unfortunately, my Scientific Experiment Colleagues have been incinerated by said Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event. I’ll be contacting Sub-Quadrant Manifest Handler Axklah as soon as the Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event has been dealt with.”
First Deputy Officer Jenson stood up, pushing his Humanoid Support and Comfort Unit away from the Stable and Even Surface Device so quickly it fell over. “It’s not out?!”
“No, and whilst it continues I’m unable to conduct any more research. I need you to find a way to end it.”
Jenson had already begun running out of the Primary Nutrional Reception Facility, through the Rail Guided Entrance System and along Corridor Section-9802, which connected to Corridor Section-1360, which itself led directly to the Chemical Reaction Experiment and Observation Area.
The Fire Retardation Sealant that coated the Transparent Viewing Material between Corridor Section-1360 and the Chemical Reaction Experiment and Observation Area was already beginning to blister. First Deputy Officer Jenson shielded his eyes from the blaze within. It was already white hot, and when he looked away he could still see the square of light imprinted on his retinas. The atmosphere of the corridor was heating up too. The Primary Conductive Segments of the Universal Structural Bulkheads should divert most of the heat, but they couldn’t cope with an Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event of this magnitude (at least a twelve, Jenson reckoned) for long.
Jenson ran to the Operational Overview and Control Room, further down Corridor Segment-1360. It contained access to the Emergency Subsystems of the Chemical Reaction Experiment and Observation Area, Emergency Subsystems which included the Vacuum Exposure Engagement Solution.
He angrily hammered on the Rail Guided Entrance System as it moved apart at what seemed like an agonisingly slow pace, then slipped through as soon as the gap was wide enough. The Emergency Subsystems Lights were all still on, indicating they were operational. He quickly began the procedure to activate the Vacuum Exposure Engagement Solution. As he leant across the Emergency Subsystems Control and Operation Panel to flick the final switch in the Vacuum Exposure Engagement Solution, the Emergency Subsystems Lights blinked out. He stared at the Emergency Subsystems Control and Operation Panel, his jaw dropping. He flicked the switch a few times but nothing happened. Stepping out into Corridor Section-1360, he could see the Transparent Viewing Material starting to thin and drip down. The Universal Structural Bulkheads were turning red hot themselves. “Fuck,” he muttered.
He went back into the Operational Overview and Control Room, grabbed the Pneumatic Systems-Failure-Alternative Access Device and pulled. A section of wall slid out at the same time as the Rail Guided Entrance System slid shut, sealing itself with a hiss. He stepped into the newly exposed area, the Systems-Failure-Alternative Operations Suite, and eyed the Vacuum Exposure Survival Suit hanging on a Vertically Situated Curved Apparatus. He reached out for it, then heard a creak. Space Station HN2Z had never creaked before.
He left the suit and rushed to the end of the Systems-Failure-Alternative Operations Suite. The Vacuum Exposure Engagement Solution Mechanism lay spread out on the wall in front of him. He grabbed the Pivot and Grip Enabling Tool from the wall above it and jammed it into the Vacuum Exposure Engagement Solution Mechanism. He heaved. He strained and grunted with the effort. A sweat broke out on his forehead and, finally, mercifully, the Universal Structural Bulkheads behind him blasted away, revealing a star-filled sky. He felt a rushing sensation and was pulled from his feet out into the eternal night. He watched as Space Station HN2Z became smaller and smaller, a trail of white hot Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event drifting languidly after it. He shut his eyes.
‘Intended for Reception by Ms. Mary Tyler, Marital-Sharer with First Deputy Officer Jenson, serving aboard Space Station HN2Z.
Ms. Mary Tyler,
We find ourselves having to take upon us Action Y-TZ9 and inform you that your Marital-Sharer, First Deputy Officer Jenson, will not be returning from his Negotiated Employment Duties aboard Space Station HN2Z.
Due to an unforeseeable Hydrogen-Oxygen Reaction Event, First Deputy Officer Jenson displayed a full adherence to Duty-Honour Procedure 508, triggering the Vacuum Exposure Engagement Solution Mechanism manually. His efforts have been recorded in the Personnel and Recruitment Database.
As with all Marital-Sharers involved in an Action Y-TZ9, you will receive Remuneration Package Delta, which has been carefully calculated to match the Estimated Emotional Profile that a failure to return from Negotiated Employment Duties entails.
Should you have any further questions, please consult the Digipedia included in your Remuneration Package Delta.
Action Y-TZ9 Concluded.’
“Bastards,” sobbed Mary Tyler, crumpling up the letter, “why couldn’t they just tell me he was dead?”