Hatori's Song - 1 - Sol 43, Year 23 - 16:00 Hours

Hello everyone! Here's the first installment of the patrons-only serial, HATORI'S SONG. It follows the exploits of Mission Specialist Tamerine Saetang, who wakes up from cryostasis two years early--and many of her comrades are dead or missing. The story takes place on the colony ship UEA Hatori's Song, en route to Fomalhaut, a star system 25 light years from Earth. Tamerine must discover what has happened to not only save herself, but the 2,000 other colonists still in hibernation aboard the titanic vessel. This serial will run biweekly, posted on the second and fourth weeks of the month. Enjoy!


UEA Hatori’s Song – Sol 43, Year 23 – 16:00 Hours

1.9 Light Years from Fomalhaut

Cryopod Manifest Loading: Hatori.net/crew.pak/activecrew.mod/cryo.dat


CMP Arthur Keegan [DECEASED]

CFE Sven Nilsen [DECEASED]



MS Mauricio Souza [HIBERNATING]


MS Elizabeth Hickman [DECEASED]


MS Anna Sheffield [DECEASED]

MS Maki Ishikawa [DECEASED]



Tamerine sat up in the cryopod and yanked the sensor leads off her chest and neck. A dry coughing fit overtook her. The cryo chamber’s air had a mildewed taste, like something had grown and rotted inside the air ducts. As the pod’s cover slid aside, she covered her eyes and grunted. The lights were too bright. Way too bright for the waking process. After over two decades in hibernation, such a shock to her retinas might cause permanent damage. She withheld a curse and took deep breaths.

“Greetings, Mission Specialist Tamerine Saetang,” an androgynous voice said above her, a formless presence in the chamber. “Hatori’s Songis holding present course to…”

The voice slurred in speed and lowered in pitch, then ended altogether.

Tamerine uncovered her eyes and dared to open them. “Delphi? Can you dim the lights in here?”

Everything was dark and blurry in the chamber, though she made out the rest of the Active Crew’s cylindrical cryopods around her. A numb fatigue weighed down her limbs. The initial pangs of post-cryosleep hunger gnawed at her stomach. Though the pod’s heating system had warmed to 17 Celsius, she still felt cold. Twenty-four years in cryogenic hibernation…


There was no answer from the ship’s voice-activated AI. Tamerine sighed and wiped crusted drool from the corners of her mouth. The medtechs back on Mars had claimed there would be no drool when she awoke.

“Delphi?” she asked again. “Could you please dim the--”

“Greetings, Mission…Tamerine…holding present course…holding present course…holding present…”

Tamerine’s eyesight normalized and she went still.

The status displays on several other pods flashed red letters, bathing the chamber in brief crimson bursts. Four pods were empty, their covers still open. One cryopod was missing altogether.

The Active Crew consisted of twelve UEA astronauts. Their duty was to wake six months before Hatori’s Song reached Fomalhaut and prepare the ship for the 2,000 other colonists in cryosleep. Bring Hydroponics I and II online, start growing food for the first wake roster, then prep Manufacturing I and II for pre-fabbed living structures and crew modules. Though drones and automation did most of the work, human oversight was considered necessary. Tamerine and her comrades would be the first to see the world that would be their new home, 25 light years from Earth. Traveling at the speed of light, the journey was a 25-year trek, the first incursion by United Earth Aeronautics to settle habitable exoplanets within a 30 light year radius of Earth.

All of those numbers became meaningless as she studied the chronometer on the wall. Its information froze her heart more than cryostasis ever had.

The chronometer read: Sol 43, Year 23 – 16:00 Hours.

Hatori’s Song has woken her two years early.

Her legs wobbled and she caught herself on the chamber terminal. She’d not even realized she’d left her pod. With stiff fingers she keyed in a series of queries to the system. Each request, from overall ship status to the state of Cryo Bays I thru XX, was answered with an error message.

“Delphi?” Tamerine cleared her throat and spoke the AI’s name, louder.

The sensors in her jumpsuit alerted the chamber’s medbot that she had left her pod before completing the waking procedure. The box-like MAV drone hovered to her, its rotary engines whirring. Keeping it aloft, rather than jetting bursts of pressurized air from its thrusters.

She blinked. Gaped at her feet. Forced herself to stand straight before the terminal. Inhaled deep, calming breaths.

Hatori’s Song possessed gravity—which meant the centrifuges still functioned. She breathed oxygen-rich air, the cryo chamber was above freezing temperatures…not everything had gone wrong. Still, her eyes kept returning to the empty cryopods. The ones whose displays flashed ‘DECEASED’ in red letters. The missing pod--

“Ow, shit!” she cried.

A sharp pain in her right shoulder. She turned and stumbled back into the terminal. Before she could move, the medbot administered a second shot into her left shoulder, its tiny needle piercing jumpsuit and skin with merciless ease.

Tamerine glared at the medbot until she remembered the nutrients and modafinil it’d injected into her per protocol. The cocktail brought her fully awake. Alert. Terrified.

Protocols. Procedures. Clear, rational thinking. Such things had saved countless astronauts over the years, and she was no exception. Tamerine recalled the rest of the waking procedure: login to Hatori.net, verify her vitals to prove herself fit for duty, equip one of the IVA suits stashed in the chamber locker, and begin a physical systems check.

The login was successful. Blood pressure 118 over 78, heart rate 60 BPM, body temperature 36.5 Celsius…she was healthy.

Yet as she slipped into the tight blue IVA, Tamerine’s eyes kept returning to Commander Young’s pod. Her superior officer was listed as DECEASED, but there was no corpse in the pod. Command Pilot Keegan lay in his pod, middle-aged face as serene as the ponds on her native Hua Hin Station. He was listed as dead, too. So was four other crewmembers. Their roboticist, biochemist, engineer, and her fellow botanist, Anna Sheffield. She’d been so excited to work with the woman who’d grown edible fungi in Mars’s subterranean settlements. Now Tamerine would have to prepare food for two thousand people all by herself.

Tamerine reached for Anna’s pod, then caught herself. There wasn’t time for emotional responses. No time for regrets or a mental breakdown. She had a job to do, and as far as she knew, hundreds of colonists still depended on her. She snapped on the IVA’s helmet and waited for the sealing hiss. Now, no matter what lay outside the cryo chamber door, she’d be ready.

“Greetings…would you…” Delphi’s voice crackled over the helmet’s earbuds.

“Yes, Delphi,” Tamerine said, to hear what the AI wanted to tell her, as much as the psychological need to speak to another being. Human or not, Delphi was the nearest voice for at least 56.76 trillion kilometers. “Please, tell me.”

A feed loaded on Tamerine’s faceplate HUD, connected to Hatori.net. It showed a schematic of the ship.

Hatori’s Song is fully capable of interstellar travel as well as colonization,” Delphi said. “It holds a compliment of--”

Delphi’s voice faded out again before it could complete the welcome message, but Tamerine studied the schematic to stay focused. Ship length: 2.3 kilometers, ship width: 77 meters (nose), 158 meters (fuselage), and 195 meters (rear thrusters); ship height: 112 meters. Eight centrifuges. A small city unto itself, with nine decks. She was currently on Deck 1: Bridge and Crew Berths I.

She glanced at the chamber hatch. All she had to do was go out there, head for the Bridge, and see what had happened. The Active Crew had trained for various emergency scenarios in drydock for six months, in addition to eight months of refresher training. Tamerine had served two years on Hua Hin Station for her UEA certification, with six years of hydroponic agriculture experience—with a specialization in exoagriculture.

Just open the hatch. Nothing more. Not yet. Just that one step. She could do it.

Tamerine typed her access code into the keypad; a safety feature in the event that her IVA phone didn’t work. At the moment it couldn’t connect to Hatori.net, forcing her to use such an anachronism.

“Greetings, Mission Specialist…” Delphi’s voice faded into static.

The hatch opened.

Tamerine exited Crew Berths I and entered a 2-meter wide corridor. Backlit signs that read BRIDGE pointed to her left. The rest was an unlit, endless dark. But the Active Crew was berthed near the Bridge; she wouldn’t have to walk far.

She activated her IVA lamp, situated above her left pectoral.

The light revealed eight skeletons lying on the deck. Each wore a torn, fabbed white dress. Dark, dried splash stains coated the walls around the remains. They all lay before the entrance to the Bridge, which was sealed.

Shaking, Tamerine stared at the words cut into the double doors with a torch:


She backed away. One boot crunched through a femur on the deck.

Tamerine tried to avoid the other skeletons, but tripped and collapsed among them. The movement sent her lamp light jumping, casting jagged silhouettes from the bones. She scrabbled back from the sealed doors, heart rate rising on her faceplate HUD.

Something connected with her shoulder. Behind her.

She whirled around. Flashed her IVA lamp.

A man’s face. No helmet. Red-stained, outstretched hands. He fled.

“Wait! Tamerine cried.

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