Evolution has been around longer than humanity, so it follows that nature has already solved many of the problems we’re only beginning to identify. It should be no surprise then that technology bent toward the arc of biology soon after we had the power to manipulate the machinery of the cell. We learned to speak the language of proteins.
Leighton was a mechanical engineer, but you can understand now that the meaning of that profession would have changed significantly over time. The greenships that remained in the sheltered harbors of solar systems turned starlight into sweet, sweet glucose—that ancient fuel of the future. But the long-rangers, the interstellar class ships like the one Leighton was on, ran on something a little stronger when they were out where the violence of stellar fusion diminished to cold points of light. They ran on caffeine.
You could dump your cold coffee from this morning into the intake and everything would be fine, but for practical reasons most ships ran on premium: the pure stuff. Caffeine is a white powder when it’s isolated. So is cocaine, which Leighton had been adding to the fuel to increase performance for months. But now, out in the void, she found that the last batch she’d procured at Eridani was fake. Enough snow to get her clear from the system, but the rest was cornstarch and baby powder. That’s why nobody trusts Eridanis. Assholes.
Now she was lightyears from help and trapped inside an addict of a greenship of her own making. There was still enough caffeine to limp to Tau Ceti, but the ship was already showing symptoms of withdrawal.
This was going to be a very long haul.