Elle stared at the computer interface blankly. She watched the cursor point blink expectantly, waiting with infinite patience for the input that must come from her hand. Her eyes looked but did not see, and her mind was engulfed by thoughts from elsewhere. The metal wall that surrounded the interface hummed with the quantum pulse of some ten thousand processors in the room beyond, kept chilled to a hair’s width above absolute zero, frigid beyond human tolerance. The interfaces in each passenger’s personal quarters had access to immediate amenities as well as intraship communications and limited access to ship’s memory, but the screen before her was different. Its reach extended into the core of the ship’s computer, and with careful training one could gain access to every minute bit of data stored within. It was one array of five that controlled every mechanical function aboard Covenant down to the smallest light turning on and off. At the center of the processor units, behind thick titanium and steel shields, lay the ship’s DNA: the memory stores. Elle’s job, along with a hundred or so other computerists, was to maintain the computer, feed it information deemed relevant by the sum of all the computerists aboard the ship, test its functionality, and report any and all irregularities to her superiors. In that moment, however, she had no thought to spare for duty. Her mind was far off, walking a wide metal bridge that spanned a thundering waterfall on Earth.
Suddenly, her hands went to the interface, inputting a command almost of their own accord. To an untrained eye it was unintelligible; at its base meaning, the line of code read “create a map of the waterways of Earth.” Elle submitted it, then sat back to wait. Less than ten seconds passed before a response line appeared below the command.
“Include Oceans? Yes / No”
She hesitated, unsure which answer to choose. She wanted to know more about what she had seen in the sphere, and it had certainly been no ocean. She reached out and gently touched the “No”. Another second later a response came from the computer.
“Complete. Output: PR7 Yes / No”
Elle once more touched the “No” and instantaneously a new line appeared below the last.
She typed: “Display on screen” and submitted the command.
The display was filled with an image of transfixing beauty. Elle could hardly breathe as her eyes drank in the blue lines like so many delicate veins branching across a bare arm. They reminded her with striking fierceness of the etchings on the surface of the sphere itself. Here, they were surrounded by black stretches indicating land, as well vast black deserts that could only be the oceans she had omitted. She quickly manipulated the display back to the command line and typed new instructions.
“Transmit results to PQRT: Elle Bergman”
The image would be waiting for her when she returned to her personal interface. Already she was eager to be there, and to examine it in greater detail. There was something else to her excitement as well, and it surprised her—she felt a distinct desire to show Leon what she had created.