Cosmic Lotus

Advances in science and magic had detected the Anomaly – a star in the heavens that was unlike all the others in the night sky. Intense research had only served to deepen the mystery. Although Equus had a vibrant space program, going forty-two light years to investigate had been considered impossible until now. The Cosmic Lotus program was born, and over a hundred crew-members of multiple species were sent into the void to discover the unknown. This is their story.
The prequel to this story is the "Ad Astra" arc in the story – "Life, Love, and Death in the House of Path".
This will be a crossover story with my "Chakat Universe".

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/375224/cosmic-lotus

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4. Purple Point Profanity Pool

Sailors, since time immemorial, have found ways to distract themselves from the monotony of a long voyage. The crew of the Cosmic Lotus were no exception to this. Within a day of departure, betting pools were set up, permissions were sought to set up breweries (craft brews by three of the crew, it being a hobby of each of them), and charts set up to keep track of elapsed voyage time, time until hibernation, and guesstimation on what they would find at the Far Star.

One pool that was set up became known officially as the Daily Raffle, and unofficially as the Purple Point Profanity Pool. Purple Point, the Engineer’s Mate, was widely known for several things, mainly an eidetic memory, an exceptional talent with most technologies, a calm, dignified polite manner, a quirky sense of humor, and most of all, when working alone on damaged or malfunctioning equipment, what could be politely described as a potty-mouth. His swearing, always directed at the equipment, was multilingual, literate, and so incredibly detailed, crewfolk who could understand what he was saying would take notes. While he could descend into crudity, and would on some occasions, he preferred the more literate profanity.

One thing to take careful note of is that he would never knowingly swear in the presence of another pony. The swearing was a purely automatic function to him. When he became aware of another pony near him, the profanity flow was abruptly cut off, his ears turning bright red in shame.

The Morale Officer, Random Dawn, brought up the subject of the Daily Raffle to the Captain of the Cosmic Lotus, Wandering Path. “What I would like to do is to set up two related pools, creating a program with CONN (Crystalline Organizational Neural Network, the ship’s Artificial Intelligence) to monitor Purple Point’s swearing. Each pony on board can, before noon, register their guesses for how long he would swear that day, day running from midnight to midnight, and how many languages he will use. Wagers will be given to CONN blindly, meaning you will know your own bet, but will have to ask others what their bets were. A standing bet system can be arranged, to record the same choice day after day. What I need to do is find a way to spread the word without him finding out.”

“What do you intend to offer as prizes?” Wandering Path asked.

“That will vary day by day. One day, you can win free drinks at the Nightclub. Another day, you can win a custom dessert of your choice at Sunday dinner. I have lots of options. That’s just for the time spent swearing. For the number of languages, I will award a cash prize, taking two bits from each entry, free or paid, into a pool to be split among the winners.”

“How will the winner be determined? Nearest guess either way, nearest without going over? What will you do if there are more than one winner, which I think would frequently be the case?”

“I’m thinking nearest either way. Nailing it exactly, which I think will happen more often on the second part, will lead to doubling the prize. In case of one pony hitting both numbers exactly, well, I’ll think of something really special. The non-cash prizes are determined by the time guess. I don’t think very many will take both halves of the prize.”

Wandering appeared to consider the request for a few moments. He was reviewing in his mind all he had read about Purple Point, from the first phone call he made to offer himself to the Project, from background checks to interviews. The Captain knew that a similar scam had been done to the stallion in every non-academic job he had held since he left Baltimare years before to join the Merchant Marine. Purple Point knew damn well that ponies would notice his outbursts. “Hell, Captain – if those lack-wits want to do something like that to me, the best thing I can do is ignore it officially, but closely monitor the progress. If something nice comes up as a prize, I may enter, at zero-zero. They can have their fun, but I always get the last laugh.

Idly, Wandering tapped some controls on his screen, discreetly authorizing Purple Point to monitor progress, through CONN, of the new pool. “Request approved. How will you handle entries?”

“Through CONN. Everyone gets one free entry a day. More can be bought at ten bits apiece for another ticket into the pool. Bets close at noon, final tallies are done at midnight and will be posted in the Plan of the Day, with the names of the winners posted, and that day’s prize announced.”

“What about the bits collected? What will you do with them?”

“They will go into an account which I will donate to charity when we get back to Equus, after the cash prizes have been awarded.”

“Sounds good to me. Post the Daily Raffle rules to each crewpony individually today, and start it as of midnight tonight. Heck, I might even take a stab at it once in a while.”

Several weeks into the mission, after the Lotus was checked, rechecked, and re-rechecked, it was time to prep the majority of the crew for hibernation. Three days before hibernation, Captain Path announced that there would be an All Hooves party the night before hibernation started, so everyone could socialize together one last time before going into magically-induced stasis, the ship being crewed in shifts for the next ten years, voyaging to the Far Star. He also announced that one pony would get to choose who would be ‘assisting’ the cooks and servers that night, the positions open being server, table loader, dish-washer operator, and trash disposal operator. The winner of the Daily Raffle would be the lucky pony to do the choosing.

In Engineering, Eon Path called together two of his friends, the part-thestral pegasus ColdFire, and the Blue Changeling Steam Shift. “Okay, here’s my plan to set things up so one of us wins the Raffle tomorrow. I’m willing to throw in a hundred bits for more chances. What we are going to do is cause a string of minor malfunctions all over the ship while Purple Point is Duty Engineer. All of us bet high, because our little glitches will infuriate him to such a point, he’ll be popping off continually.”

“Just what sort of minor malfunctions are you thinking about, Eon?” ColdFire asked.

“O-rings leaking, insulation rubbing off wires, support bolts working loose. Nothing major, but enough to keep him running about for the twelve hours he is on duty,” Eon explained.

“Plus, if we have the failures in out-of-the-way locations, he will have to figure out how to get to the malfunction to fix it,” Steam Shift added, flipping his blue scarf over his shoulder.

“I like that thought. So, how much are we all in for?” Eon asked his compatriots. They agreed to throw in a hundred bits apiece for ten guesses each, plus their free one. “Make your plans tonight, but let’s not tell each other. He will be on duty from noon to midnight, so let us plan well.”

ColdFire added, “Let’s all agree that whichever one of us wins, we will not name each other to any of the positions, okay? This sounds like a lot of fun!” she squealed happily.

Steam Shift nodded. “Sounds good to me.”

“And me,” Eon said. “Let’s do it to it.” He knew firsthand just how piquant Purple Point could get when annoyed. Personally, he was hoping to hear something in Draconic that he didn’t already know. “I just can’t reconcile his pleasant manner with his absolutely foul language while working. It’s like he’s two different ponies.”

“I’ve noticed that too,” Steam Shift said. “But, if it was anything bad, he would not be here, right?”

“Right,” ColdFire said. “Let’s hope we don’t cause him to blow a head gasket.”

Purple Point, on the other hoof, took the news with his usual calm. He had a way in mind to get through the day, on duty and off, without swearing once. A matter of self-hypnosis, lots of strong black coffee on hoof, and striving not to be alone. ‘The crew thinks they can make me swear on demand? Well, we shall see who has the better will and the better skill,’ he thought as he prepared for bed that night, waiting for the sleeping drug that he required to shut his mind down enough to get to sleep. ‘My will is supreme. I dance to my own tune. Nobody commands me. For Purple Point to live, Radiance Glow must stay dead. I will be the best there is at my job. This mission will succeed. Now, how to make the Virtual Repair spell…’ he thought as he faded out.

Purple Point rarely slept more than five hours at a stretch, and upon awakening, he first renewed his vow, committing his vast mental prowess to the task. “I will not swear today. Period.” he said to himself before leaving his cabin and going to breakfast, greeting those he met politely, in their accustomed fashion. Being Engineer’s Mate, he had to do the departmental paperwork, which he did with his accustomed ease, compiling and inputting what was required of him. After that, an inspection of the ship’s systems through the Engineering monitor display, flicking through subsystems at a high rate of speed, looking not for actual readings, but variations from the normal. Satisfied that the ship was in good health, he then prepared his personal tool and equipment saddlebags for when he was on duty.

Having about three hours before his shift began, Purple Point made his way to the magic research labs. He had an idea for what he called Virtual Repair, casting a spell on a defective piece of equipment and making it last until either a replacement was available or the equipment could be safely shut down. The spell was a series of spells that needed to be woven into one integral unit, and it was a project he had been working on for over ten years, ever since he had attained his ThD, in addition to his two PhD’s.

He was jolted out of his research by the on-duty Engineer, Crystal Twist, a dark-green crystal pony mare. “Point, snap out of it. You’ve got half an hour for lunch before taking over.”

Point jumped some, barely remembering in time not to utter an oath, however mild. “Thank you for reminding me, Twist. I’ll be there on time. Anything to report?”

“Not hardly. Been a quiet watch so far. Meet you back in Engineering,” she said before heading out.

Point put away his research material, returning the area to neatness. Lunch was quick, and afterwards he headed to Engineering, his mug of black coffee trailing steam. Precisely on time, he relieved Crystal Twist. “Do have a pleasant off-shift, Twist.”

“I intend to,” she said with a smile as she put her tool bags up. “I’m helping Willow do the decorations for the party tomorrow night.”

“Then I know the party will be a success,” Point said kindly as he put his belt on. “Go, have fun. I relieve you.”

“I stand relieved!” Twist laughed as she trotted off.

Fifteen minutes into his shift, a call came in. “Leak detected in Hydroponics Bay Two. Duty Engineer, attend,” came the call from CONN.

“Hydroponics leak? That’s not good,” Point said as he gathered some specialized repair parts for the job before hurrying to Hydroponics. There, he found the head of Hydroponics, Fatima Dashar, and two of her assistants standing around a puddle on the floor.

“A good day to you, delight of the eyes,” Point said in Saddle Arabian. “How may this one help you?”

“A seal blew in the tank corner, underneath. Can you patch it?” Fatima asked, blushing just a touch at Point’s greeting.

“Easily. It will just take some time to get in there, see the damage, and select the proper patch,” Point replied in Equish. “Give me some space, please.”

As the hydroponics techs moved away, Point got down on the floor after removing his saddlebags, to peer at the trouble spot. “I wonder how this happened,” he said quietly as he looked at the small hole that was dripping water. “Looks like it was caused by corrosion.”

“We noticed it barely ten minutes ago. Best fix it before it gets too bad,” Fatima told him.

“I can do a temporary patching, but when this tank is down for cleaning and maintenance, do let Engineering know so a better repair can be made,” Point said as he pulled patching material from his bag, along with a cutting tool. Carefully, he cut the patch to the right size, flexed the patch to activate the sealant, and applied it, holding the patch with his purple glow as it set.

Five minutes later, the repair was complete. Getting up and stowing his tools, he then bowed to Fatima and the other techs. “May many blessings shower on you all this day, instead of a leaky tank,” he said politely.

“Thank you for getting it fixed so quickly, Point.”

“That’s my job.”

He left Hydroponics Two, heading back to Engineering. He was at the door when another call came in. “Lighting failure in corridor 17, level H, frame 120. Duty Engineer, attend,” CONN reported.

Point snorted, but changed course to head to the problem site. “Okay, how did that happen?” he asked himself as he trotted.

Once there, he found the lights were indeed out in the corridor. Pulling out his circuit tester, he started to investigate. As he tested spot after spot, he felt the urge to let out his frustration, but nipped his tongue gently. “Remember, this is a no-swear day, Radiance,” he muttered.

Half an hour of testing isolated the fault – the light switch itself had malfunctioned. Not because of a manufacturing defect or simple wear, but by somepony messing with the switch, causing it to fail. Point felt the urge to swear building, but he forced it down before going to Stores for a replacement.

Just as he finished the job, putting the damaged switch into his bag to be repaired later, another call came in. “Corrosives leak in primary sciences lab. Damage reported. Duty Engineer, attend,” CONN said.

Purple Point almost turned purple as he got the news, but headed there, fighting to keep his composure, a fight he won, of course. Upon arriving at the lab, he found Techbird outside the door, being treated by a medical technician and a magitek technician. “What happened, Techbird?” he asked politely, because if there was one being he truly respected on board the Lotus, it was the aged griffoness.

“I was mixing some acids when I had a power failure to my claw. I dropped the mixing container and it shattered, severing some tubing. It’s a bit of a mess in there, I’m sorry to say,” Techbird said, a little mournfully.

Purple Point smiled up at the griffoness. “Don’t worry nor apologize, Techbird. I can put everything to rights. Maybe now you will get your systems tuned like I suggested earlier.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” said the magitek technician, Gizmo Gears.

“If you will allow us, Techbird, we will all take care of each other. We have an appointment to keep at the Far Star,” Purple Point said before activating his suit’s protective spells and going into the lab.

After passing through the mini-airlock, the first thing he asked was, “CONN – atmosphere reading, please.”

“Acid fumes present in laboratory atmosphere. Laboratory ventilation isolated from shipboard ventilation system. Warning: while atmosphere is not toxic, long term exposure is not indicated.”

“Thank you, CONN. Rig ventilation line-up from laboratory to Atmosphere Purification Unit Three for processing. Any damage to major systems in this laboratory?”

“Negative. Damage restricted to table and apparatus in use at the time. Neutralization and clean-up is called for. Ventilation configured to your specifications, ready to begin at your order.”

“Begin atmosphere purification. I’ll clean up the equipment. Please advise as to what equipment is salvageable and what is not as I clean.”

“Understood, Duty Engineer. Atmosphere purification is underway.”

“Thank you, CONN.” For the next hour, Purple Point cleaned the acid spill, carefully adding neutralizing agents to the spilled acids, putting broken equipment into a sealed container for repair or recycling, and, most importantly, remaining silent the whole time, except to answer requests for information, progress reports, and asking questions about pieces of equipment he was not familiar with.

He handled his tasks with only part of his attention, most of his mind locked in a battle with himself to remainsilent and not give anyone any ammunition to use against him. It was not an easy chore, because his natural reaction was to cuss a blue streak, but his respect for Techbird did aid him in keeping control of himself. Only once did he stop in mid-action and say clearly and firmly, “No, Radiance!”

When all his work was done, he exited the lab. “All safe to use, Techbird. You may now resume your previously scheduled incomprehensibilities,” he reported to the aged griffoness, who laughed at his witticism.

“Thank you so very much, Purple Point. Will I get to see you at dinner?”

“Probably not. On duty until midnight. I might be assistant chief engineer of this ship, but you can’t learn how the ship feels sitting in an office, you have to get out and feel him or her. That’s why I like doing duty shifts every so often.”

“Another time, then. Any progress on your VR spells?”

“Tomorrow morning I can give you a report. I may have figured out the binding spells, but I have to do some more experimentation,” Purple Point replied. One of his goals was once he got the Virtual Repair spell crafted, it could be integrated into a magitek device so others could use it.

“I look forward to finding out,” Techbird told the unicorn before looking to her assistants. “Back to it!”

Purple Point made it back to the Duty Engineer’s office, where he first recharged the protective spells on his ship’s uniform, then checked on ship’s status. All was well, including the atmosphere line-up from the lab, now that he had cleared all traces of the acid fumes. Restoring the ventilation line-up to normal, he then repacked his tool and parts bag, replacing what he had pulled out, brewing up a pot of coffee, his way, which meant that if you put a spoon in it, the odds were equal if it would stand upright or dissolve. Sugar would dissolve in it, but creamer or anything like it would get expelled from the mug. He did not care – it kept him awake.

Thirty minutes later, he received another call, for a mishap in the Linear Park – a pegasus and a changeling had collided in mid-air, and their fall had damaged some support struts. With a sigh and a mutter, he headed out to see.

Arriving at the park, he found the duty med-tech just leaving. “Everypony all right?” Point asked.

“Bumps, bruises and a few cuts. Nothing major. Some struts for the Park’s upper level, though, are a bit bent out of shape,” the tech reported.

Purple Point snorted once. “As am I. Been a busy shift for me, and it’s only four. Let me go in and see.”

Getting to the scene of the incident, Point found ColdFire and Steam Shift on the growing grass of the lawn, both sporting a few bandages. “What in Tartarus happened in here?” he demanded.

“ColdFire was teaching me some stunts,” Steam Shift explained. “We cut it a little too close to the upper level struts.”

“It’s not too bad, but a few are bent, and some support strands have gone slack.” ColdFire added.

Purple Point grumbled some, actually looking a little angry before composing himself, his lips moving but saying nothing at first. “I would dragoon you two into the repairs, but not only are you two off duty, I can see the bandages on your wings. So, it’s up to me. As usual.” He then snorted. “Okay, you two, get out of here. I’ll deal with you later. I’ve got a job to do.”

Without looking back at the two reprobates, Purple Point went to the damaged area. Looking up, he saw the bent struts and slack wires. Under thrust, it would collapse like a paper fan in a rainstorm. He felt his rage build, but he squelched it with a loud, determined, “NO, Radiance!” before starting to work, the purple glow from his horn reaching up to the bent struts, feeling them out, deciding if they need replacing. To his chagrin, two of them did. He bit his lip as he discovered the extent of the damage.

ColdFire and Steam Shift saw Point’s reactions. “Looks like he’s going to blow his stack,” ColdFire muttered.

“He never loses his temper in public,” Steam Shift whispered back. “But, I can tell you, he’s not happy.”

“First time for everything. Let’s get going before he does lose it. We still have a few more incidents to create before midnight. I have twenty to twenty-five minutes in the pool.”

“I chose between ten and eighteen in my picks. I wonder what Eon has in mind next?” Steam Shift whispered as they left the park.

“That’s why we are working independently. We just came here together because we both wanted some flight time in. I’ve got something wicked in mind,” ColdFire said.

“You are one devious pegasus, ColdFire.”

“Thank you for the compliment, Steam Shift,” the mare replied smugly.

All told, it took Point two hours to fix the damage, between gathering parts and tools, replacing the struts and tightening the stays so that everything was restored to an as-was condition before cleaning up and putting tools and lift away. He had dinner sent to the Duty Engineer’s office, rather than going to the mess deck. He had just barely finished one of Kale’s better creations when the first of three calls in a row came in, first for a bad lighting panel in Engine Ops, a broken ventilator grille in the Captain’s cabin (Wandering admitted to the damage), and another cracked nutrient feed line in a hibernation bay, that one being reported by Princess Galena.

“I don’t know how that happened, Point, but we need to get it patched before we start putting folk in them,” she said with obvious dismay.

“At least I won’t be standing fetlock-deep in the stuff. Makes my hooves itch. Good thing I have the sealant required, Princess. Now, please to pardon me, and I’ll get started,” Point said politely. As he looked it over, he said loud and clear, “NO, RADIANCE! NOT NOW!”

Princess Galena was perplexed at the shout, but decided to let it go as Point swiftly, effectively and permanently fixed the crack, lip caught between two front teeth, seeping a little blood. She backed away as he worked, confused at his demeanor. He was always polite to her, as he was to all the folk. Why would he shout at nothing, and who or what was Radiance? Plus, she tasted a lot of anger, but it was directed inward, towards himself, not outward. Still, it was strong enough to give her a reason to get clear.

Within twenty minutes, the leak had been sealed, and the area cleaned up. Point sought out Galena, telling her that all was well now, and just who had been in there within the past half hour?

“Why, Eon Path was here, helping me check out all the pods. He left just before I found the leak.”

“Okay, then. I have an idea about something. A pleasant evening to you, Princess.”

“And to you, Point. Thank you again.”

“Hey, we’re all in this together. I’m going to be in one of these pods soon enough, and it had best be working when I am in it. It’s in my best interest to make sure they work,” Point told the princess, sending her good thoughts and feelings, but she could still taste the undercurrent of hostility.

Back at the duty office, Point looked at the clock as he ‘poured’ himself another mug of coffee. “Three and a half hours more of this. Can I stand the strain? No, Radiance. Ouch!” he yelped as the hot mug touched his bitten lip. He took a deep breath to utter a malediction, but this time he bit his tongue. Literally. Painfully. Then, CONN called again.

“Hole reported in ventilation duct, Deck C, frame fifty-three.”

Purple Point’s face and ears purpled. “What in Tartarus is going on here?” he asked angrily as he prepared his gear for another trip. On scene, there was indeed a hole in the duct, as if somepony carelessly banged against it while carrying something large and hard. As he patched the hole, noting the location for further repair, he took a deep breath to curse, and bit his lip again. Hard. Very hard. Painfully hard. Messily hard. He sucked carefully on his bit lip as the patch set, before making his way to Medical to get his lip patched before he lost too much blood, making sure he didn’t leave a trail behind him.

“Having a rough day?” asked Dr. Zubon as she mended his lip.

“Ohnlee cuz ah kep on bitin’ myshelf,” he slurred as the wound was healed.

“Next time, not so hard, okay?”

“I will do my besht, Doctor. Thank you for the treatment,” he said before the intercom sounded off again.

“Hydraulic valve failure, auxiliary machinery room three. Duty Engineer, investigate,” CONN said in its pleasant female voice.

The grimace on Point’s face amused Zubon, for about five seconds. “Pardon me, Doctor, yet another problem,” he said in a kind tone, but the undercurrent was plain.

“Go in peace, Point,” Zubon said as he hurried out.

In AMR3, Point found an O-ring had failed, blowing a seal on a hydraulic valve. Fluid had sprayed out of the flaw, spraying a fine mist into the air and coating almost everything within five meters with fluid. He stomped his right front hoof several times on the floor, marshalling his temper. “No, Radiance, don’t you dare,” he muttered. “Almost there…”

Automatic systems had isolated the system, so all Point had to do was disassemble the valve and inspect it. He did note a scratch near the O-ring seat, making him not only very suspicious, but causing him to nearly detonate. Sparks flew up and down his horn, and he bit his lip again, even more severely than last time. Working fast, he replaced the O-ring, coated it liberally with sealant, reassembled the valve, and reconnected the valve controller to CONN. He then literally stomped his way back to Medical. The duty tech summoned Dr. Zubon.

“Again, Point?” she said as she readied treatment. He could only nod, keeping his mouth shut until she was ready. After the healing was completed, Point looked at Zubon with an apologetic expression.

“Sorry, Doctor. I don’t plan on being a frequent visitor.”

“When do you get off shift?”

“Midnight.”

“I’ll wait here until then. I think you’re going to need an extra strength sleep med tonight. I had best start preparing it.”

“May Celestia smile upon you, Doctor,” Point managed to say when the intercom sounded off with yet another call.

“Broken water valve, exercise room one, shower booth five,” CONN announced. “Duty Engineer, attend.”

Point shut his eyes and moved his lips, but said nothing. Another spark flew off his horn. “I’ll be waiting,” Zubon sighed.

Point made his way to the designated place, to find the earth pony cook, Kale Robe, standing in the shower room, a towel around his neck. “I’m sorry, Point. I just lost a game of hoof ball, and, well…” Kale trailed off, looking at the remains of the valve on the floor.

Point looked at Kale, his eyes blank at first before warming up. “You, I believe, Kale. I’ll have this fixed in ten minutes.”

“Make it five and I’ll make you your favorite coffee cake.”

That was all it took. With a blur of purple glow, tools and parts, the valve housing was cleaned, damaged parts removed, new parts installed, the bonnet tightened down, and tested. “Three minutes thirty-nine seconds. I’ll take it at breakfast,” Point muttered, his lip sore, having nipped it from the inside.

“You got it, Point! Thanks, and thanks again!” the earth pony said before going back into the shower booth and turning it on. As Point was leaving, Kale let out a yelp. “HOT!” Point just put his nose to the floor for a moment before looking up.

“CONN, secure water to shower booth five, exercise room one,” he said in a tired voice.

“Unable to comply. Cyber controls have been rendered inert.”

Point sighed, feeling tired. “CONN, review security scans around all damaged areas this watch, from one hour before incident to one hour after my repair. Send all scans to my terminal for review. Secure all water lines in to exercise room one shower stalls.”

“Understood, Assistant Chief Engineer. Reports are waiting. Water isolated to exercise room one shower stalls.” CONN said in her level tones.

“And repairs are starting.”

Swiftly, Point pulled out a diagnostic tool from his bag, finding out the valve’s remote controls had been damaged when that valve was broken. Sighing, he dug through his bag to find a replacement part which was quickly located and installed. When CONN reported normal function, Point turned to Kale. “It’s working now. CONN, reactivate water service to exercise room one shower stalls.”

“You’ll have your coffee cake tomorrow, Point!”

“Thank you, Kale. Just doing my job,” Point said as he left the shower room, his mind thinking about coffee.

Back in his duty office, Point put on another pot of coffee as he restocked his saddlebags, getting ready for the next problem call. Coffee ready, he added sugar to his mug before pouring in the coffee. Just as he was raising the mug for a sip, a loud snap, crackle and pop was heard echoing throughout the area, and the office went dark.

“Lighting Circuitry Panel Six-Nine reporting main breaker failure. Power disconnected to aft lighting panels Six-Nine, Seven-Zero and Seven-One. Duty Engineer, investigate cause of failure of Lighting Circuitry Panel Six-Nine,” CONN reported.

“What do you think I’m going to do, you cracked crystal contraption? Write poetry?” Point shouted, retaining control of his temper only by the barest of margins. Lighting his horn, he took a big gulp of liquid tar before putting the mug down and exiting the office for the lighting panel, which was only a few meters away, around two corridor turns. CONN, not being sentient, did not reply to Point’s outburst.

By the light of his horn, Point saw the lighting panel door open, with a hole and a char mark evident on both the inside and outside of the panel door. The main input breaker had failed spectacularly, with only bits and pieces still in the mounting. He sat down, sighed deeply, shut his eyes and recited a mantra, “No, Radiance, stay out of this. No, Radiance, stay out of this,” fifty times before opening his eyes and getting to work.

He tested the panel to make sure it was de-energized before removing the failed breaker. Examining it, he found a faint sign that the breaker had been tampered with, but he could not be sure until later. Setting it aside, he made his way to Stores to get another master power breaker, chanting his mantra the whole time. Installing the new breaker, he checked it thoroughly before calling to CONN to re-energize the lighting bus.

“Power restored to aft lighting panels Six-Nine, Seven-Zero, and Seven-One,” Conn reported as some lights came on, but not in the immediate area.

Point then ordered, “Shut breaker to Lighting Panel Six-Nine.” There was a clunk from the panel, the breaker flipped to the shut position, and the lights came back up.

“Lights are on, but is there anybody home? Conn – time check, please.”

“Time is now twenty-three hundred forty-five hours. Fifteen minutes until end of shift.”

Thank you, CONN. Let me clean up here before Eon arrives,” Point said before doing just that, getting the area tidy before going back to the office, where Eon Path was waiting, his own saddlebag tool and parts pack on and ready.

“Rather busy shift, I see,” the dracopony said, looking up from the log display.

“Very much so. Suspiciously so. I’ll investigate tomorrow. For now, it’s midrats, medication, and bed for me, hopefully until about oh-seven.”

“Very well, Point. I relieve you.”

“I stand relieved,” Point said as he took off his saddlebags and placed them in his locker, until the next time he took a duty shift. Once that was done, he took his mug of cold tar and headed to the mess decks, where he partook of what was there before reporting to Medical.

“Now, this is a more potent form of your usual sleep medicine, Point. Just use this pressure hypo and inject yourself where convenient. It should work within twenty minutes,” Zubon said, hoofing over the hypo. “Wait until you are back in your cabin before doing so.”

“Yes, Doctor, and thank you for making this. I hope I won’t need this concoction too often.”

“I hope so too. It could be habit-forming.”

“That would be bad. I have enough bad habits already.” Point took the hypo and left for his cabin.

Once there, he settled himself into bed. Before he injected himself with the sleep dose, CONN spoke up. “Incoming message for Purple Point.”

“Read message aloud, CONN.”

“You have won the Daily Raffle with a correct submission of zero-zero. You have won the right to name the cook’s assistants for the party tonight. Whom do you choose?”

“I will decide before noon, CONN.”

“Very well. Incoming call, from Eon Path.”

“Put him through, please.” Point looked up at the image of Eon in the intercom display. “What you need? I’m about to go to sleep.”

“How in Tartarus did you manage to win the raffle?” Eon said, confused. “I thought you would be swearing up a storm!”

“Now, why would you want to think that, Eon?”

“Because I, ColdFire and Steam Shift have been doing minor sabotage all day, trying to piss you off!” Eon blurted.

Point sprang out of bed. “You WHAT?” he bellowed. “YOU were behind all that happened today?

Eon smiled. “Most of it. Nothing harmful to the ship at large – just enough to make you swear up a storm. How did you manage not to?”

“Willpower and the fact this has been played on me before, you…” Point shouted before the dam broke. For over forty-five minutes he swore, both crudely and literately, in a total of thirty-eight languages before he passed out colder than yesterday’s pancakes, which were cold enough yesterday. The sheer magnitude of the cussing turned the air in his cabin blue, okay, purple, because of the purple smoke and sparks coming from his horn. The intercom circuit failed within the first thirty seconds due to overload.

When Point passed out, his going unconscious was enough of a shock to cause CONN to notify Medical and the Captain. Wandering arrived to find Zubon scanning the sleeping Point.

“Will he be alright?”

“I am seeing something I have not seen from him before – a deep, sound, natural sleep without the aid of chemicals,” Zubon reported, holding up the spray hypo she had prepared earlier.

“I hope he wakes up in time for the party tomorrow… er… today.”

“I will see to it. CONN, what were his numbers for that outburst?” Zubon asked.

“Forty-five minutes eighteen seconds non-stop, plus thirty-eight languages, from Equish to Yakyakistani, Doctor.”

“Wow! That must be a record somewhere,” Wandering exclaimed in admiration. “My bet was fifteen minutes ten seconds and ten languages.”

“While mine was twenty-two minutes and eighteen languages. So that’s why he was biting his lip so much. I had to heal it twice.”

“You have to hoof it to him – he really puts the cuss in focus,” Wandering said as the alicorn and zebra left Purple Point’s cabin, leaving him to sleep.

Upon awakening at about eleven in the morning, the first thing Point noticed was how refreshed he felt. When he looked at the clock, he jumped in surprise. “I missed the morning meetings!” he bellowed as he headed for the toilet and shower.

“Messages are waiting for Purple Point. Should I read them aloud?” CONN asked.

“Please do, CONN,” Point said from the toilet, draining coffee.

“Message from Doctor Zubon. If you are not awake by lunchtime, I will come get you. I want you here in Medical after lunch for an examination. Message from Commander Bluequill. You are to consider yourself on off duty-status until cleared to return to duty by Medical. I will let you punish the pranksters. Message from Willow. I need your nominations for the party tonight by noon. Please message them to me. Message from the Captain. How and when did you learn Yakyakistani? Message from Eon Path. I’m in it deep, right? Did you know you blew the comm circuits from your cabin to the Duty Room, taking out a whole sector’s communications until I reset matters? Call me when you wake. Messages end.”

By that time, Point was coming out of the shower, toweling himself off. “Message to Willow. My nominations are Steam Shift for the serving table loader, ColdFire for dishwasher, and Eon Path for trash disposal operator, and Willow herself as server. I’ve had this trick pulled on me behind my back before. I always get even. Message ends.”

“Understood and delivered. Anything else?”

“Message for Doctor Zubon,” Point said as he brushed his mane. “Tell her I have received her message and will see her after lunch, as ordered. Message ends.”

“Understood and delivered. Anything else?”

“Yes. Message for Techbird. I hope you are doing better than yesterday, and with good fortune we will meet over lunch. Message ends.”

“Understood and delivered. Anything else?”

“Message for Eon Path. You’re in for it now. Check your messages, trash pony. Message ends.”

“Understood and delivered. Anything else?”

“Message for the Captain. I met a yakety yak some years back. He taught me a few things. Message ends.”

“Understood and delivered. Anything else?”

“No further messages, CONN. Thank you and out,” Point said as he brushed his tail before getting into a clean ship suit. The screen on his desk monitor dimmed, indicating CONN had gone, for him, from active to passive mode.

He did meet Techbird for lunch, and he discussed an idea for an integration spell to knit the disparate parts of his planned Virtual Repair spell together. Just another step forward on a dream he’d had for ten years now.

Reporting to Medical, Zubon scanned Point with everything she had at her disposal. “Just what are you looking for, Doctor?” he said in a polite tone tinged with confusion.

“You passed out after your tirade. You had yet to inject yourself with the compound. Yet, I found you in the deepest, most restful sleep I have ever seen you in. I want to know why.”

“For that matter, so do I. You may investigate to my heart’s content, Doctor. You examine; I will think.”

Zubon looked over Point’s readings, while Point thought about putting his Virtual Repair spell together. “You are unusually calm today, Point. Last night, you were wound up tighter than I have ever seen you, but now your readings show you as calm, relaxed and rested. Your tirade really drained all your negative feelings out,” she told the waiting unicorn.

“How bad was the tirade?” he asked.

“Forty-five minutes eighteen seconds before you ran down, along with what CONN counted as thirty-eight languages.”

Point grimaced at the report. “Forty-five minutes?”

“Non-stop and at full power the whole time. How do you do it?”

“Natural magic talent. Am I cleared for duty?”

Zubon smiled. “There is the party tonight. The way you are now, you really should attend. Let the crew see you in a good mood and a relaxed state, when you are not cleaning them out at the poker table.”

Point hesitated. “Well, I was thinking of taking Command Duty Officer tonight so others could attend. You know I don’t like parties.”

“It will do you a lot of good, too. Maybe you can do some performing. I know you have a good voice.”

“You know my music is a private joy, Doctor.”

“I will not clear you for duty until you agree to go to the party!” Zubon snapped.

“Pick you up here at a quarter to seven?” Point said quickly.

“Make it seven exactly. Us senior officers can make a fashionably late entrance. Oh, just one little caveat before I release you for duty, Point.”

“What’s that, Doctor?”

“If you even think of performing any of the verses of ”˜Barnacle Tail the Sailor’, your next sleeping drug will put you out until two months after we get to the Far Star, without using a hibernation pod!” Zubon said sternly.

“Yes, Doctor,” Point said meekly. “I’ll do something pleasant I learned in Mexicolt a while back, in Esponial.”

“Good colt,” Zubon said as she tapped the keys on her panel, releasing Point from medical restrictions. “You need some fun, and if I have to prescribe it with a crowbar, I will!”

Author's Note:

NOTE: This episode was 98% written by Alden MacManx. I mostly only proofread and edited it. Purple Point Profanity Pool was first published in his story: Purple Point: His Life in Space. If you enjoyed it, please go there and give him a fave!

   
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