Itoro fe Queen
This week, Maurice Broaddus’ “Itoro fe Queen” is an utterly captivating afrofuturist adventure set aboard a mining station in distress. If you’re going to come at the queen, you best not miss. ~ Julian Yap, May 15.
Itoro fe Queen
“It’s all gone,” the ethereal voice whispered—almost robotic and clearly distant—its desperate lament choked off with a gasp, which tugged Itoro back from unconsciousness. Sprawled on her back, dazed and in shock, she sat up on the cavern floor. Through one of the station’s viewports the greeting holo read:
Welcome to Oyigiyigi:
Muungano’s portal to the space-mining industry
Though her memories were still a jumble of images, she knew that when the first (first?) explosion happened, the force of the blast had slammed her against a console. A juncture had collapsed, burying her under a shower of debris. The venting pumps reduced to a scorching mound of embers. Itoro shifted the beam from her. She attempted to stand, but as soon as she tried to put weight on her leg, she cried out and fell back onto the ground. Her left leg was broken, though she couldn’t tell the extent of the damage through her phase suit.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” the voice muttered.
Mack Johnson was the chief mechanic from Original Earth (OE). Oyigiyigi was originally conceived as Muungano’s joint venture with OE’s provisional government, the Liberation Investment Support Cooperative (LISC). They hoped to develop platforms to explore and extract off-world resources. Things were not going well.
“Itoro? Itoro! Thank God, you’re alive!”
“Status update?” she asked.
“I . . . don’t understand you,” he said.
That wasn’t good. That meant that Maya, the AI that ran most of Oyigiyigi’s systems—including translating the many languages spoken throughout Muungano—was down. Essential functions only, like a body’s autonomic system. Itoro switched to English rather than her native Zulu. “Status update.”
“A piece of the asteroid you were mining sheared off due to an accident. It crashed into another section.” Oyigiyigi was a collection of Near-Earth Asteroids, failed planetary remnants. The Citadel was the capital of the Oyigiyigi asteroid belt and attached to the Ngwenya Mine. The mine took its name from the oldest mine in Alkebulan, on all of OE, actually. “Positional thrusters are down. We’re drifting, dead in space.”
“All right. We need to set repair priorities.” Still disoriented, Itoro knew she needed to make it to the secondary control room. “Casualties? Where’s Assegai?”