Entrance Examination, Chapter Ten

An alarm blaring stopped him short while he tried to remember the meaning of the alarm. He did not remember what the alarm meant before Corrbet made her announcement over the general address system.

“Attention all personnel, attention all personnel, general life support failure, general life support failure. All personnel prepare for zero gravity. Life support will no longer provide oxygen, or climate control. All personnel should immediately get life support help.”

Quinn looked around and quickly spotted an intercom station in the corridor near him. Walking to it, with some trouble now that the gravity was less than he was expecting, he called the bridge. “Bridge, this is Captain Quinn. What precipitated the life support failure?”

Her high-pitched voice somewhat breathless, Corrbet replied, “I have no idea Captain. I heard the alarm and began looking for the cause. I saw a big red light flashing on the Engineering console and checked it out. General Life Support failure was the alarm. I have not had a chance to investigate further. I decided to alert everyone first.”

“That was an appropriate decision. Very well, initiate a roll call and ensure that you alert everyone concerning this emergency. Go to the Main Computer console and call up the inventories that Cadet Trainee Elder and Father Lester have found. Inform everyone where he or she should go to obtain whatever emergency equipment they will need to provide life support during this emergency. I will remain at this location,” Quinn looked at the intercom identification panel, “Station 74, Deck 3 until you can inform me where the nearest life support equipment is. Quinn out.”

Quinn could tell that the temperature was dropping long before Corrbet called him back. To keep warm, and to accustom himself to the rapidly decreasing gravity, he began jumping from one side of the corridor to the other. As luck would have it, he was on the opposite side of the corridor, and at the top of the corridor, when Corrbet called him. He jumped back to the intercom station, barely missing slamming into the station itself as the last of the gravity faded away. Recoil from his hitting the wall bounced him back to the other side. Trying again, this time with much less force, he reached the intercom station itself and grabbed a handhold just as Corrbet made the third request for him.

“Captain here. I was absent from the intercom station attempting to accustom myself to the diminishing gravity when you paged me and I could not respond with the quickness that I anticipated, for which I render my apology. What information do you possess concerning emergency equipment?”

Quinn could hear Corrbet’s labored breathing as she said, “Captain, you would be better off returning to the airlock we first entered by and using the space suit you came in. I can’t find any listing for life-support equipment anywhere. I am not as good as Cadet Trainee Elder would be, but even I should be able to find life-support equipment if there is a listing for it. I have told everyone else to head for the airlock and they are on their way. Have someone bring my suit to the bridge, I don’t dare leave, something else may happen.”

“That is proper. Maintain your station there and I will send someone with your suit. Have you been able to determine anything else concerning the failure?”

Corrbet panted, “No Captain, I haven’t had time to do more than look at the indicators. Gravity control is easing off, oxygen control and temperature control shut off and I cannot see any indication why. It might be that fancy control program that Elder has been worrying about, but I haven’t had time to check it out and see what it has done even if I understood the commands. I’m having trouble breathing and that doesn’t seem right. There is only me up here and the bridge is big enough to provide enough oxygen for lots of people for a long time even with the oxygen control shut off. Maybe this is only psychological, but I am worried.”

“Remain relaxed until someone brings your suit. Do not engage in any activity unless it is an absolute necessity. Do not increase your oxygen use and you should be fine. Someone will be with you soon. Captain out.” Worried now himself, Quinn hurried towards the airlock, pushing off the bulkhead and flying down the passageway.

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