Chapter One—Looking for Fun in All the Small Spaces
“Arnold, hand me that screwdriver,” I whispered.
It was a Saturday morning and my best friend, Arnold, and I had crawled inside the air vent on Deck 36, right near the bridge.
Whoever designed the AstroLiner Athena accidentally made the air vents in the hallways big enough so that third-grade kids could get inside them. And once you crawl far enough inside the correct air vent, you can find a special tunnel. If you crawl through that very special tunnel, you can access small rooms that have a lot of the ship’s computers. The computers are like the guts of the ship. I like to call these rooms gut rooms. I just love computer guts.
You see, my name is Eudora Jenkins, and while I’m only in the third grade, I’m a whiz at math, science, and engineering. Engineering is basically using math and science to build cool things, like computer guts.
I have spent so much time in these rooms because I’ve lived my whole life on the Athena. I’m a space kid! Space kids are what grown-ups call us kids who grow up in space. We don’t live in houses with nice backyards. We can’t even ride our bikes around the neighborhood like you land kids. Well, there was that one time Arnold rode down the hallway on a bike I built and almost crashed into Captain Jax, but I’ll tell you about that some other time.
The Athena is a ship in AstroFleet, which is the science and defense force for the Planetary Republic. The Republic is a group of twenty planets that work together to make the galaxy a better place for all living things, even dentists (although I sent a letter to the president to get them taken off the list—I haven’t heard back yet).
AstroFleet helps explore the galaxy and also defends the Planetary Republic from evil aliens. But it won’t defend us from too much homework (although I sent a letter to the president to get homework added to the list of enemies, and that time they wrote back, “Please stop writing us.”). At least after my homework is done, I can find some fun on the ship—like in these secret computer rooms.
I’m lucky Arnold and I are both smaller than other third graders, because my gut rooms are a little tight and stuffy. But I have had some really fun times behind the Athena’s walls doing things that usually get me sent to the brig.
Like this one time . . .
Oh, I’ll tell you about that one another time. Back to this story for now.
We were still in the gut room near the bridge when Arnold looked through my backpack, took something out of it, and handed it to me.
“That’s a Riglio B-52 digital splatz converter, not a screwdriver!” I said.
Sigh. Doesn’t he know anything? Arnold may be my best friend, but sometimes I wish he knew more about science and engineering. Oh well, we still have tons of fun together.
“Eudora, you said we would get to see the bridge’s battle-training exercise,” Arnold complained.
He does not always have the same thirst for adventure as I do.
Arnold wiped his wavy blond hair away from his eyes as he looked around some more in my backpack. He handed me a different tool.
I rolled my eyes at him. “That’s a Bernetti X3 gravity wrench. Just get the tool with the purple handle.” Purple is my favorite color.
He finally found it and handed it to me.
“Don’t worry, we’ll see the battle-training exercise,” I said while I concentrated on the computer system. I started unscrewing a part of the computer panel. “I just need to make a few adjustments after I get this piece off.”
“You said we would see it from the bridge, not from one of your dusty, little stomach caves,” Arnold whined.
“Gut room, Arnold. I call them gut rooms. Guts, guts, guts!” I said, angrily. “And don’t worry. We’ll see it from the bridge,” I continued, trying to calm down. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” I took the computer panel off and looked inside.
“I could have just asked my dad to let us on the bridge,” Arnold complained again. His forehead started to sweat. It was hot in the room.
“The battle exercise would be boring without these adjustments. You’ll see,” I replied. I found the part of the computer I needed and started typing in some computer code. “And you don’t want to get your dad mixed up in this.”
Arnold’s dad is Lootenant (I’m not sure how to spell it, but this looks right) Londo. He’s actually a big, strong alien called a Qlaxon. Londo is the chief of security and serves on the bridge of the Athena. Arnold is human though. Londo is really his stepdad. I’ll explain it all later.
The bridge is where the senior officers run the ship and fight amazing space battles. It’s the most exciting part of the entire ship, and kids usually never get to see the bridge. I want to be the chief engineer of an AstroLiner one day, but I would settle for captain. Either way, I want to be in the middle of the action.
“Oh no, this is another one of your crazy plans.” Arnold sighed.
“Almost done,” I replied as I made my final adjustment to the computer.
This morning in my cabin I created a small memory chip for my plan. Now I was installing it into the computer. Done.
“Okay, Arnold. Do you want to watch from the bridge or not? Let’s go!” I got up and headed back to the air vent tunnel.
“Finally!” Arnold said.