Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: All Empires Fall

Last week's b7friday topic was technological failure. 500 words, cut for length.

All Empires Fall

Shay turned her monitor off, then on again. Still nothing. She thumped it for good measure. It didn't help but it made her feel marginally better--for about a second. The transporter had broken down on the way in this morning and after almost an hour trapped in an increasingly hot and airless carriage, this was all she needed.

"What's the matter?" Rajiv looked up from the next station.

"My terminal's not working."

"Have you tried turning it off and on?"

"Of course I have. It's totally Blaked." Shay savagely pushed the button for the supervisor. "Silber?"

"That won't work. The light goes on here but the speaker's out at the other end."

"Oh, terrific. And they call this a communications centre." Shay stood up and waved at Silber in his glass cubicle. Silber looked resigned and got up.

"Nothing's been the same since the Andromedans took out Central Control," Rajiv said; the standard response.

"It was bad before that." Shay leaned closer. "My parents said it wasn't much better in their day. And you know, we're using pretty much the same equipment. Sometimes I think it is the same. You ever heard about what some of the independent worlds have? Colour, higher res, faster processors, holophones, proper AIs, cheap disposable androids..." She stopped as Silber approached.

"What's the problem, Rickard?"

"My terminal."

Silber sighed. "Not another one. All right, we'll see if it's a part gone that we have in stock. But I doubt it."

"Can't we order it in?"

"I have. The factory had a production line breakdown a few months ago and they're still catching up."

"Can't Maintenance fix it? What about Botha; he's good."

"They took him last week to sell into slavery; he had a cousin who disappeared on patrol. They're getting tougher."

"I always thought he was too clever," Rajiv said from behind Silber. His voice sounded smug, but the look he gave Shay was a warning. Keep your head down, don't stand out from the crowd.

"Perhaps we can cannibalise for parts." Silber shrugged. "In the meantime you'll have to be a floater. I'll see who's off sick or away from their stations today."

"Right." Shay slumped in her chair.

Rajiv waited till Silber was back at his desk and said, very quietly, "Some people say that Blake's people are responsible for all these breakdowns."

"I don't think so. Besides, they say he's dead." Shay thought about it. It was a nice idea though, that someone might be doing something to change things..

"Doesn't mean his people are." Rajiv spoke dully but there was a brief gleam of something else in his eyes.

Shay pulled a face. If so, the rebels needn't bother; it looked as if the Federation was doing a good job themselves.

Rajiv frowned at his screen. "I read somewhere," he said casually, "that all living things die. The bigger they are, the longer they live, but they all have a natural lifespan."

Shay looked at him and he smiled.

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