The Hangar Bay
After a short but sweet afternoon with Nur, Dwi opts to return to his ship to escape the crowds. Rocky was due for an actual meal, and Dwi was looking forward to losing himself in a good novel. He was greeted as he entered the airlock with the familiar chirp of T.A.S.H.A coming online — the airlock cycles, and he's greeted by a softball-sized droid hovering at about eye level — T.A.S.H.A.'s avatar. It's mostly metalic, but the front face of it has a holographic projector that displays little emoticons that it uses to help biological beings anthropomorphize it — sometimes, if the operator of the ship is feeling lonely, the droid is known for projecting an entire body to act as a stand-in companion. Right now, though, the droid is simply projecting a smiley face. The droid rolls in the air playfully as if greeting him with a wave.
":D Welcome home, Dwi," T.A.S.H.A. said in a pleasant sing-song. ":) You received a ping from Celeste while you were gone, requesting you take stock of the various sensors onboard, and meet her at the station's lab with a full report of our surveying equipment, and their functional state. I've taken the liberty of starting the diagnostics for you. She also informs you that you'll be retrofitting some sensitive ancient technology, and will instruct you on its use when you arrive at the R&D sector."
Dwi smiles, and steps past the droid. Rocky follows suit, making a bee-line for his food dish. "Thanks Tash," he says as the little droid follows him down the main hall.
Dwi's ship, the Iluma, a Mark IX Taulan Astrometrics Surveyor/Harvester, is – as the dealer put it – "a cozy little fixer-upper with lots of potential". With the TASH line now up in the double digits of revisions, the Iluma from the outside looked like an anachronistic eyesore – hull platings worn-down, and sun-bleached from several lifetimes of use – but the interior of the ship was an entirely different matter.
Dwi had poured nearly every credit he earned into modernizing the Iluma: the electronics gutted and retrofitted with top-of-the-line sensors and pathways; the computer replaced with a quantum computer donation from his father; the interior updated to reflect ships of a more modern vintage. The only thing he left untouched was T.A.S.H.A. — the assistant that came stock with every TASH. He couldn't bring himself to replace her with the more socially sterile, but feature-rich offspring that Taulan Astrometrics had released in the interim.
He passed the ladder down to the cargo bay, and up to the maintenance area, then the personal storage room, and washroom, before he reached the end of the cramped main hall, which opened up into a cozy little living space containing his bed, kitchenette, and workbench. Rocky trots over to the his dish, and sits patiently as Dwi catches up. He could see the cockpit just up the stairs opposite the main hall, the dim amber lighting of the consoles glowing in standby mode.
He opens up a small cupboard, revealing his protein resequencer, and punches in a serving size for Rocky. After a few short minutes of grinding, and baking, pellets fall out of the sequencer, and into Rocky's dish. Dwi sets the dish down next to the now excited dog at his feet. "Can you open up the maintenance hatch? I'll go out and do a visual inspection once Rocky's all set up."
":D Of course!" it answers, hovering in Dwi's periphery, ":) Is there anything else I can help with?"
Dwi rises back to his feet. "No, that's fine thanks... I'll just grab my tools." He makes his way back down the hall towards the maintenance ladder. The noises of Rocky scarfing down his food and lapping up his water reverberate down the metal halls. Dwi stops at the ladder, opens up his storage locker to grab his tool belt, and slowly makes his way up to the service hatch — which he finds open. T.A.S.H.A. follows him up the shaft, and out onto the hull of the ship.
They spend the next couple of hours performing a full inspection of all the sensors and vias, ensuring there are no damaged components in need of replacement, and that they're operating at peak efficiency. He notes any radiation damage to the circuitry, and updates a spreadsheet of data for Celeste. It took him a little longer than usual, as he caught his mind wandering to Nur on more than one occasion — but the work got done, and T.A.S.H.A. didn't seem to notice. When every sensor of the ship is accounted for, and tested, he sends it off to Celeste with the note "I'll be there soon, -Dwi." He turns to T.A.S.H.A., and pulls a rag from his pocket to clean the grease off his hands — he finds some dirt under his nails from feeling the top-soil with Nur, and smiles to himself. "Could you warm up the shower for me?"
Dwi arrives at the Laboratory a short time later. The lab is a complex of modular buildings on the outer shell of the ship. Glass tunnels between the buildings jut out all over the place. He's greeted at visitor registration by Celeste, who appears to have been waiting for him. The lab visitor area is a posh lounge complete with a bar, couches, and a selection of screens displaying various commercials for the corporations that make up Alpha Station's R&D sector. Several elevators are lined against the far wall, three of which go to public labs, and one which requires elevated security credentials to operate; on it, a corporate logo that resembles a phoenix — the Liminal's insignia.
He bows respectfully to Celeste, "I hope the report was to your satisfaction. Your message said something about ancient tech?"