Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Energy Deflectors

Maggie yawned while a supernova flared outside of the ship's window. Paul bustled into the room, slopping coffee out of the mugs that he carried onto the roughened, high-traction steel plates that formed the floor.

"Maggie! You said that you'd tell me when it finally blew!" Paul said, putting one of the cups down on the console in front of Maggie.

"Oh, is it happening?" she asked, prompting another yawn while one of the universe's most violent, beautiful cataclysms raged just outside of the danger zone. She sipped her coffee and jammed a thumb into one of the buttons on the control console. "Scanners and sensors all report as normal."

"Can you even wrap your mind around what's going on out there? How much energy, how much fury is being unleashed" Paul said. "And you're so blase about it!"

The ship rumbled slightly as the energy and matter deflectors toiled against the waves of radiation and space corpse washing over the ship.

"Eh," Maggie said.

"How can you say 'eh' to that?" Paul said, gesturing out the window. "That's not the mediocre death rattle of a human or blorgian slipping quietly into the portal from this world to the next. The star thunders as it grabs onto the doorframe while Death tugs its kicking feet! It howls its own funeral dirge that will echo across the cosmos for eons to come!"

Maggie raised an eyebrow. "And? I've seen dozens."

Paul pouted.

The rumble of the deflectors grew.

"Oh, don't be like that," Maggie said. "We've been over this before. It's like any other job. Doctors save lives, you don't see them jumping around in the streets about the profundity of their careers. And they save lives!"

"I'm not saying that you have to go jumping around in the streets," Paul said. "I'm not telling you to do anything. But I'll bet among doctors there's a certain sense of the-"

A screaming alarm cut off Paul's voice. Maggie lunged for the control console, silencing the alarm.

"What's that?" Paul said, his face a billboard shining with the flashing warning lights on the control console.

"The deflectors are failing," Maggie said.

"They're not supposed to do that!" Paul said.

"Really?" Maggie replied, her hands blurring and her posture improving as she punched in commands. The ship began to shake as more and more beeps lent their voice to a dissonant choir all singing the same tune: you're gonna get yourself exploded in this astronomical hellstorm.

"Deflector banks three and four offline, deflector bank two is failing, and one is running on fumes. Dammit, they're losing power! How are they losing power? They have precedence over the life support systems, for fuck's sake! Even if we don't survive, the data has to! And the data can't if it has been blown into tiny, elemental pieces all over this region of the galaxy!" Maggie yelled.

Paul gripped his armrests.

Maggie frowned. She paused in her furious button-mashing.

"What are you doing?" Paul asked, his eyes wide. "Why aren't you figuring out what's wrong?"

"Because I know what's wrong," Maggie said. She slouched in her chair, and yawned again, amidst the flashing lights.

"What about the deflectors?" Paul asked, sagging himself.

"What about them? They're fine. Somebody just uploaded one of the quality assurance programs that test them for failure states. It'll be over in a minute."

As Maggie finished talking, the alarms ceased, and the flashing lights went dead.

"I just wanted you to feel a bit of excitement about your job again," Paul said.

Maggie patted him on the arm. "You're sweet."

The Moral: it really isn't wise to cry "deflector failure" too often, especially if they keep you alive.

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