Episode 104: Cold Comfort

The layer of frost from the rim of the tub should not have been possible under normal circumstances. Designed to keep its contents in a permanent deep freeze, the technology was made both for beings from worlds with temperatures that would make humans freeze to death and for people who wanted a semi-portable way to keep large quantities of food on ice. Igneous’ modifications had ramped up its power to compensate for the fact that it wasn’t built for creatures who generated their own heat. At least, not as much heat as she did.

The captain knocked on the lid. After a few moments, the lid cracked open and a burst of warm steam poured out. A bright light shone from within the steam and Igneous lifted herself from the once frosty container. Bright reds and oranges illuminated the cargo bay as the fire beneath her cracked exterior came into sight.

“Your cold tub may need some repairs,” said the captain. “There’s some ice by the seam.”

“That can happen when you open the tub unexpectedly,” said Igneous. “I got out to install one of the liquid nitrogen containers.”

She gestured to the side of the tub, illuminating the shiny cylinder which had been connected by a pipe and valve to the inner workings of the tub. The captain nodded.

“I see. So, some of the coldness got out as you closed the door again, frost generates… still seems sloppy.”

“What is it?”

“We’ll be able to make our approach soon.”

“Fine. Just knock on the tub before you drop me on Mandrake, I’ll be fine.”

“I wanted to tell you that the system is undergoing some upheaval. System-wide communications are down, and just before that happened an order for all civilian ships to return to safe harbor was issued. Since then we’ve detected military action. Veskid may be under assault.”

Igneous’ expression changed, but the captain couldn’t read it. She nodded.

“That’s unfortunate. Hopefully it’s resolved by the time you pick me up.”

“That’s the other issue. We’re going to be dropping you off, but we won’t be able to stay in orbit around the planet without drawing unwanted attention. No port is close enough to Mandrake to register a standard signal, and a light speed message could be intercepted. It might be a long time before we can swing by to get you again.”

Igneous looked at her cold tub.

“We’ll make do,” she said. “If I finish what I’m going to do, I won’t have much liquid nitrogen left, but… I think it should suffice.”

“Are you sure you should be using that? I thought it would make you brittle.”

“I’m tough,” she said. “I’ll stop before I get as brittle as pavement, don’t worry.”

“I think you’re already-”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be back to normal soon.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

Igneous stepped back into the tub.

“Then I’ve already got my coffin for when I need it.”


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