"Time, a nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future."
"Event, a phenomenon or occurrence located at a single point in space-time."
"Entropy, the tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity... causing the cessation of new events... and thus, the cessation of time."
Dosha had never felt more lonely in his life. The screaming sirens around him were a dull buzz in his head. A million problems... and his mind could focus on none. Just a minute more, he thought, staring blankly into space... another minute and he'd do what needed to be done.
Exactly one minute later, he snapped out of it and started off in the direction of the stasis chambers.
Dosha breathed in deeply of the fresh outdoor air, and exhaled with a sigh of satisfaction. He hadn't smelled air that fresh for at least 10 years. He stood up and strolled towards the babbling brook down below, soaking in the scattered rays of sunshine that made it through the canopy above.
The water in the brook was as clear as crystal with small spots of turbulence where it flowed around the rocks. As he stared at it in deep absorption, trying to trace the path ripples made to the river's shore, he spotted a small glint on the river's bed. He waded a short way's in and reached out for it curiously; and as he raised it out of the water, he saw that it was his personal terminal. 'How did this get here?' he asked himself.
Holding the dripping terminal, he looked around in suspicion. 'How did I get here? Where am I exactly?' he thought to himself. The sky was getting darker and he could swear that the water was rushing past him faster. At that moment, his terminal started ringing, 'Bleep, Bleep, Bleep!' He wanted to answer it... but he had to get out of the river first. It was at his waist now, and he could hear the babbling of the water over the rocks change into a roar as the water flowed faster and faster.
'Bleep, Bleep, BLEEP!' the terminal went on as he struggled towards shore. The shore now seemed farther than it was before, and the water was at his chest. He had to keep at it... or the rushing water would carry him off. 'BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!'. The water was nearly at his neck and he had trouble keeping his feet on the river bed. 'BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! ...' was the last thing he heard as the water washed over his head and the world disappeared from view.
Dosha awoke with a shuddering gasp, grasping the side rails on his stasis chamber as he took in huge gulps of air. Once he had gotten over the fact that he wasn't drowning, he noticed the persistent ring of his terminal, 'Bleep! Bleep! Bleep!'. He reached for it and saw that it was Quirk. He tapped a button and transferred the call to his implanted ear-piece. 'Dosha! I need you to come to the control room right now!' Quirk said with a tone of urgency.
'What! What's going on Quirk?' Dosha asked with a dazed voice. He glanced around him at the rows of men in stasis. A quick glance at his wrist told him that they'd been unconscious for the past 40 weeks. They'd all entered stasis shortly after leaving the vicinity of Pluto. It would be about four more Earth years before they got close to the last known whereabouts of the Musk, the ship whose disappearance had inspired their voyage. Without much scientific work to be done; all of the ship's staff entered stasis... leaving Quirk at the Grey Cloud's helm.
'I have something important to tell you Dosha; and you need to listen carefully.' Quirk said softly as Dosha sat at a terminal at the flight-deck. 'Go ahead!.' Dosha said, bracing himself for the worst.
'The probability of a solar flare ocurring this decade was about 12%. The probability of a geomagnetic storm occurring was much less than that. The latter has now changed to 100%. In about three minutes, a cloud of protons that left the sun three months ago will hit our ship, interfering with most electronics on-board and most unfortunately, my very own circuits.'
'I don't understand! Most of our equipment is built to withstand strong doses of radiation. You should survive it easily!' Dosha butted in.
'Sadly, the logic and data that make up my intelligence are far too complex for even my human creators to understand. You know better than most that they could only guarantee my safe operation by carefully controlling the data I accessed during training, and endless testing. Unfortunately, my error protection circuits won't guarantee total data retention... and I... we can't risk a couple flipped bits causing mass homicide. I'll need to wipe nearly all my data in order to provide enough redundancy for my core logic. I'm sorry Dosha. I won't make it through this... at least not me as you know me...' Quirk trailed off.
Dosha sat in silence for a couple seconds. 'Why did you call me here then. What do you need me to do?'
'I've spent the past days preparing the ships controls for the storm. As I complete my data wipe, I'll need you to switch over to manual controls and get Shiv to the flight deck as soon as you can. We can't slow down to a complete halt... but the ship should keep course until someone else can take helm.'
'I know this is a little irrational. But I think I'll miss you a little.'
'I don't quite know what to say. The Academy didn't put much emphasis on sentiment. You're only human Dosha. But it's most probable that you'll be fine.'
'I'll need you to switch controls now Dosha. I'm wiping my speech modls..u..ules. LLiivie llong andd prossss.......'
Dosha slammed down the manual override and absorbed the shock of what sounded like a thousand sirens going off in unison.
He felt an enormous pressure mounting at the back of his head... life would never be the same... but he remembered something Quirk had said once, 'If everything stayed the same, time would stop, as would we. The universe's chaos reassures me that we still have time... time to change it and ourselves.'