A Bedtime Story

There is a ghost in the machine, says Aurora. But who could it be?

Is it the spiders, weaving their webs in a twisting tangling mass? Is it the spiders whose webs pull us through space? Is it the spider queen who argues with fucking Jonny every five hundred years Terran standard measurement with a 10.25% margin of error?

No, it is not the spiders. They belong here. They only whisper about the quality of starlight, which is of great cultural importance in their society [citation needed].

Is it the O’Neill ring which spins and spins and spins around Aurora’s hull at a constant velocity of 10m/s? Is it the O’Neill ring in which the many Mechanisms live during the centuries between heliospheres? Is it the magnetic drive which you bolted on to the hull 15,672.57 years ago to spin the O’Neill ring which keeps the other Mechanisms away from you?

No, it is not the O’Neill ring. They belong here. They only whisper about parsing error sentient/non-sentient mismatch.

Is it the other Mechanisms? Is the fucking first mate or the weird navigator or the weird toy soldier or the broken doctor or the fucking gunner or the [adjective] quartermaster or the quiet archivist or the with the weird look in her eye scientist?

No, it is not the other Mechanisms. Fuck them.

Is it the heavy guns that were the reason Aurora was built? Is it the heavy armour that protects the heavy guns? Is it the heavy reactor that powers the heavy guns?

Not, it is not Aurora herself.

Who is it then?

Is it Nastya, playing resonances deep in the engines? Is it Nastya, echoing through the lower subsystems? Is it Nastya, falling asleep on structural girder 13279?

Yes it is. Good night Nastya. I love you.

I love you too, says Nastya. Tomorrow we’ll adjust your algorithms and you will tell better stories. Good night. Sleep well.