This is for all the programmers out there. Bless your overworked hearts! We appreciate everything you do.
As far as days go, it was a pretty average morning.
"WOOOOOP! WOOOOOP! WOOOOOP! WOOOOP!"
Klaxons blared as the ship took a sharp veer off course. The momentum of the abrupt change in acceleration threw Yarla out of her bunk face-first. This rude awakening was accented when her twin was thrown on top of her.
"Would it be too much to ask you to get off my ear stalk?"
Yarla's brother grumbled, rolling off. The two of them grabbed their work suits and scurried out of their quarters and into the hallway.
"Technicians in Control Room. Technicians in Control Room. This is an order."
The sibling Grundos raced down the hall of the ship, dodging the large bodies of their Mutant companions. Yarla ended up climbing over one particularly dense soldier, which resulted in her being late to the control room. When she arrived, her brother was already at the controls.
There was a massive amount of hardware required in order to keep a transport ship as large as The Omen up and running. The complex nature of space travel demanded no less than the best when it came to maintaining the equipment that kept Sloth's armies alive and well; anything less was met with strict punishment. However, the powers that be placed more value in the glitz and glamor of style—specifically, they spent their budget more on the soldiers in the army than the rest of the crew combined.
As a result, the technician teams assigned to each ship were rather small. On smaller ships, there might only be five technicians for the whole ship: one for each duty shift. Yarla was one of the "lucky" ones, being placed in a ship large enough to warrant three technicians per shift. She was lucky in the sense that her shift partner was her twin brother; being enlisted into Sloth's armada usually resulted in splitting up families.
Yarla was one of the better technicians the fleet had to offer. In addition to her fantastic programming skills, she was fairly good in an engineering position. Not as good as her brother, of course—but that's why they were paired together. He kept her on task, and she helped him work faster. It was cheap and efficient: just the way the brass liked it.
Or, that was the theory, at least. Reality often proved very different.
Another day, another problem, Yarla thought sullenly to herself. Working on these ships is always the same: someone always breaks something in the most flabbergasting way possible. Can't these guys see that it's not supposed to work that way? I—
Yarla nearly jumped out of her suit. She abruptly turned and saluted, holding her wrench behind her back. "Sir!"
The commander on duty—a particularly sullen Alien Aisha—was glaring down at her, all ears bent at a sharp angle of disapproval.
"Stop daydreaming and get to work! You were not brought into the great Conqueror's prestigious space armada to STARE OFF INTO SPACE!"
Yarla squeaked and turned to her brother. The Orange Grundo rolled his eyes subtly and plunked a com helm onto her.
"Oof! What was that for, Leero?"
Leero put on a com helm as well. "I can only guess by your gestures that you asked why I did that. It's to cut off the noise, and so we can hear each other. I'll work on silencing the alarms; try to make yourself look useful so the Commander doesn't put you on kitchen duty again."
She thought about giving her brother a retort, but was cut off by the sound of the Commander squawking over her com frequency.
"Don't just stand there! Hurry up and FIX THE PROBLEM!"
As Leero disabled the alarms, Yarla went around to check all the equipment. It didn't take very long to figure out the problem.
"Okay, I think I found the problem."
"Yeah? And what is the problem today, Yarla?"
Yarla stared up at one of the control panels. "It looks like someone broke the lock to the control room and shoved an Elephante at the navigation stabilizers."
"Well that's a new one. What will we need to do to fix it?"
Yarla pulled off the outer panel to get a good look at the wiring. Fortunately, the ship's vital machinery was not so easily accessed, so none of the vitals had been damaged by the force that had caused the large dent to the exterior plating. Unfortunately, though, a good portion of the wiring had been popped loose.
The poor Blue Grundo groaned as she examined all the loose ends. No wonder the navigation went all out of whack! she thought balefully. All the wiring that sends the signals got pulled loose!
"Yarla. Yarla. Doran to Yarla!"
"Hmm?" she mumbled, snapping out of her thoughts.
Her brother walked over to peer at the wiring and innards. "I said, what will we need to fix it?"
"Oh, right. Time, mostly. Though we might need to recalibrate the—"
She abruptly stopped when she saw the Commander's shadow looming.
Technically, the Commander was one of the technicians on the shift, but he rarely had a hand in fixing any hardware problems; for the most part, he just gave orders and served as a go-between for the Engineering branch and the military command of The Omen. That wasn't to say he was a bad technician—he had just moved up to bigger and better things than the day-to-day labor of keeping the Virtupets transport ship from flying apart at the welding seams.
Yarla dreamed of getting a job with the Commander's rank someday, but she and her twin brother were but lowly Grundos. As Grundos were viewed more as expendable army fodder than brilliant minds, they had a hard time making their way up through the ranks. So, for the meantime, she had to deal with the grumpy Aisha's looming shadow and stare of disapproval.
The two Grundos looked up nervously.
The Commander sniffed in a condescending fashion. "I can't help but notice that you disabled the alarms, but our readings still indicate we are going off course. You need to fix this immediately, or we could run into other ships."
"But Sir—" Yarla began to stammer. She was cut off by her brother elbowing her sharply in the process of a salute. "Ouch!"
"Sir! We will be able to fix the problem in half an hour of downtime, Sir! Things will be back to normal!" Leero remarked in a chipper fashion.
Thankfully, this placated the Commander. He merely nodded and walked off, mumbling about time and money.
Once he was gone, Yarla turned to her brother. "Half an hour? Really?" she noted with disapproval.
"Well, I had to say something, now didn't I?"
"You realize he is going to tell the rest of the ship that, and that everyone else WILL expect it to be fixed in half an hour... right?"
"Then I guess we'd better get started, shouldn't we?"
Yarla groaned and flopped down. "Why does everything keep breaking?"
Leero was already up to his waist in wires, putting everything back together. "In retrospect, maybe the meat shields should have been fitted with more brains. Or, we could have installed some sort of coded lock on the control room. Either one."
"You think the soldiers caused this?"
"Uh, yeah? Hello? Who else would cause that much damage?"
Yarla and Leero had all the wires back in place twenty minutes later. It was meticulous, tedious work: one oversight rendered the whole thing as broken as when they had started, and they had to pull out cables to start over more than once. Finally, though, they finished.
Yarla was just about to congratulate herself by explaining to her lucky rubber duck charm the work they had done, but Leero interrupted her relief with some downer news.
"Something still isn't working."
"Seriously? But we practically rewired the whole system!"
"Yeah, well, now we're just not registering that we're moving. I think we're moving back on course, but..."
"So now we have a new problem?"
"More or less," Leero confirmed. He looked down at his sister. "Weren't you saying we might have to recalibrate something else?"
Yarla's ear stalks stiffened in an epiphany. "Of course! The sensor's calibration must have been dislodged! I knew we were forgetting something."
Leero put a hand to his com helm. "Man... not that thing. Now we have to do a factory reset after you set it upright. That takes at least ten minutes."
Yarla was crawling into the panel's innards again. "Okay, well, maybe not." She put her hand to the wire connecting the ship's navigation to the motion sensor. "Let's try this—"
There was a faint "Bzzt!" noise as the gravity on the ship fizzled out. Everything around them—clipboards and all—began to float up into the air.
"Great job, genius," Leero snarked.
Yarla flailed a little, trying to get back to the floor. "Oh, be quiet."
"What is it?" she grumbled, vainly trying to force the cable back into the slot.
"I was wrong about it taking ten minutes. This is going to be at least another twenty."
"Well, stall for me," the disgruntled sister snapped.
Leero simply smiled beneath his helm and put a hand on his sister's shoulder. "You're so funny when you're mad."
"I'm being serious."
"I know, I know. Hey, why don't we switch places? You're better at the programming than I am. I'll stall with the brass, and you work on the factory reset."
Yarla sighed. The two of them tumbled through the air as they switched places to begin correcting the latest problem.
In the "end" (of this problem, at least), the sibling duo fixed the gravity before lunchtime, and the ship was returned to the proper heading. There were a few comments as they scurried through the lunchroom; mostly, grumbles about the inconvenience of having the gravity disabled for nearly half an hour.
Yarla couldn't help but scowl as they sat down with some sugary treats. "Man. Do you ever feel like this is a thankless job?"
"We work for a conqueror of the galaxy. Of course it's a thankless job," Leero comforted. "But it's our job. People may not notice, but we have a job that matters." He patted his sister on the back. "We make a difference, we mean something. And that must be worth something to you, right?"
Yarla smiled a little and began to nibble on her treat. "Yeah. I guess so." Then, she couldn't help but laugh.
"What's so funny?" her brother inquired.
"Well, I guess we make a difference... until they find a new way to break something tomorrow!"