"Whoa that was like totally trippy Eve babe. Franky dude just like flooded my melon with all sorts of stuff. I like almost blacked out from the data overload. it was totally non-heinous." Evelina smiled at Jaxx as she made the "Shhh" gesture with her finger on her lips and then leaned on his shoulder to rest and conserve oxygen. Jaxx caught onto what Evelina was doing and put his arm around her to chill while the others were working.
“So...” Cassandra briefly paused to massage her forehead with the steepled fingers of one hand, the soothing strains of Chris Rea playing in the background “There’s either this Downing guy or a hauler out there that can take us back home, but we need to find more oxygen for the long trip with the hauler?”
“That’s about the size of it” Artemis nodded as he accepted the terminal from Jamie and briefly scrutinised it, before he began keying the order Frankie had given them into the communicator “Oxygen and transport coming right up!” he gleefully proclaimed.
“Why don’t we triangulate the position this antique music is being broadcast from and get the hauler to take us to Downing?”
Artemis’ mechanical arms whirred smoothly as he finished entering the order and hit send “That’s a reasonably good point” he reluctantly conceded as he turned back to the rest of the group.
Cass regarded him in silence for a moment “So, do you want to call the hauler back?”
“I... ah. Shit” he span back in a hurry to rescind the order, but it was too late; the cargo hauler had been given an urgent, expedited order to fulfil and was hurtling away from them at top speed “Where’s the fucking science-damned thing going!?”
“Probably to find the nearest supply of oxygen” Cass said, dryly.
“Bollocks!” Artemis near shrieked in frustration at the rapidly diminishing bright spot of the haulers engines on the monitor.
Several members of the crew slowly shook their heads and sighed, one or two of them even facepalming as they did so.
“You utter fucking tit”
“Don’t blame me!” Artemis bristled.
“Guys - This is serious” Jade cut sharply across the exchange “By my estimation, we’ve about ten minutes before we start exhibiting more serious symptoms hypoxia; and then after that, we’ve maybe another twenty or thirty minutes before we’re dead”
Coolly casting her gaze around her companions in the stunned silence that followed, Cass idly speculated on how much time they’d be able to buy themselves, were they to eliminate a few of the more ...unnecessary members of the group, but she reluctantly dismissed the idea; even suggesting it would do little to endear her with the remaining members of the crew, and besides which, there were still other options to be explored.
“Are you sure this Downing character even exists?” she asked Artemis “Nobody has seen or heard a thing from him since your initial contact. Are you sure it wasn’t one of these Seraco AI’s taking the piss out of you?”
“Quite sure, Ms Jones” the scientist snapped in irritation “Now do you have any more helpful suggestions, or can I get on with trying to coax Mr Downing into rescuing you and saving all your sorry little lives?”
Shrugging at this, Cass pushed herself away from the bulkhead to sail through the air, past Jay and Jade, towards her usual seat at the science desk “As a matter of fact, I do” she said, clumsily grappling with the station’s rotating chair and inexpertly pulling herself around to jab at the console’s buttons.
“Oh? And what might that be, pray tell?”
To Artemis’ intense annoyance, the damnable woman didn’t immediately respond, leaving Jay to clear his throat and expectantly raise his eyebrows as she frowned at the readouts on the desks monitors.
“Cass?” he prompted.
“Yeah we’re good to go” she pushed herself away from the console towards the back of the bridge “Let’s have all the meatsacks through into engineering. Time for a basic chemistry lesson”
What!?” Artemis bristled; that was one of his fields of expertise.
“Oh, right!” Jamie's eyes widened, as he suddenly realised her plan “That would work”
“Perhaps you’d like to explain it to us?” Plisken said
Cass shot him something of a black look. He was the reason they were in the situation in the first place, and yet he hadn’t even bothered explaining why they were risking their lived for him “Starbugs have fusion reactors” she said, expecting everyone to make the same, basic intuitive leaps that she had made.
“What of it?”
“These are long range mining and exploration vessels” Jamie explained “They’re expected to operate for months or even years out on the frontiers, so their reactors don’t use any of your fancy a-mat stuff, which is far too hard to find out in the sticks; they run on good old fashioned deuterium, which the reactor refines from a much more plentiful resource: Water”
“Oh, for...” Artemis sighed and rolled his eyes. It was fairly obvious now you mentioned it.
“Oxygen is the by-product of the refinement process,” Cass continued “and there’s about a ton of water on board, in the waste management reprocessors”
“Which is approximately 888.92425 kilos of oxygen” Artemis said gleefully “Brilliant!”
“Enough to keep us all alive, long enough to die from dehydration” Cass said sardonically “Jamie’s going to need a hand syphoning the waste management system. I suggest we all step to it”

We’re out of imminent danger unless things go badly wrong
Is anything living in waste reprocessors?
Does Bruno rescue us or does that cargo hauler come back and we abandon him?
Perhaps the Seraco AI wants cash up front – Can we negotiate? How do we pay?

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