Author : TJMoore

Ron relaxed and watched the drifting stars.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Deep Space Hyper-drive Repair, that’s what he would call his book. Maybe he should record it into his suit for posterity. He’d already gone through the checklist and found the step that killed him. It was that last airlock hatch. If only he’d left that one open, he’d be warm and happy and having a bulb of McGurtry’s finest down at the crew’s lounge.

At the mouth of the anomaly (officially known as Hyper Fold Anomaly Alpha Epsilon Fie, or, unofficially known as Wormhole 27) the Hyper-Drive controller had indicated a grid failure. Being the tech on duty, Ron had gone through all the diagnostics and determined that the problem was most likely a broken or loose connector on the grid itself, outside the hull.

Do: Put the Hyper-Drive controller in stand-by.

The controller had actually done that when it signaled a failure. He’d checked the status personally.

Do: Disconnect the power coupler to the external grid.

Done that one too. But that was a soft switch, not a physical disconnect. The controller must open and close that switch electronically, as part of its diagnostic. Bummer.

Ron had gone through the safety checklist with the casual ease of a man who’d done that task a hundred times a week as part of his normal duties. Maybe he’d skipped a step? Not likely.

He’d donned his suit and his tool bag and gone extra-vehicular to repair the grid connector with the confidence of a well-trained and experienced tech. No shortcuts, no surprises. Extra-vehicular activity was always serious business.

Don’t: Exit the ship without proper notification to the officer of the deck.

He’d done that too, all by the book.

Wally Zimmerman had second watch and he’d given Ron the green light after carefully reviewing his sheet. Wally was a good man and not likely to overlook something or hurry through a procedure.

Ron had navigated up to the grid coupler and located the corroded fitting in just a few minutes. It was a routine replacement and Ron had it fixed in a record twenty minutes. That was when it happened.

Ron wondered how many people in the history of mankind had said “Okay, try it now” as their last words. Ron had spoken those very words. What should have happened was that Wally would have run the Hyper-Drive controller diagnostic and come up with a green board. Ron would have returned to the hatch, logged in and the U.F.S. Gemini would have warped through the wormhole, instantaneously arriving on the outer edge of the Sombrero Galaxy, three weeks out from Hyper Fold Anomaly Beta Epsilon Gamma, which it had done.

The problem was, Ron was still hanging in space, holding his pliers, exactly where he was when he’d given his last command, his very last command.

Do: Leave at least one hatch interlock open while on EVA.

Well, that one was the kicker. Evidently, the controller had initiated its test, passed, checked the interlocks and safeties, powered up and, continuing with its previous instructions, processed the next step, which initiated the warp through the wormhole.

That last “Do” wasn’t in the checklist. Ron supposed there would be an edit to the procedure following this little mishap. He’d already logged his observations into his suit.

Unfortunately for Ron, wormholes were one-way streets. The Gemini couldn’t just warp back through this anomaly. Technically, it didn’t even exist on their end. Known wormholes were weeks or months apart and they would have to jump through at least three to get back here. Communications between ships was only possible when the ships where relatively close. It could be months before another ship used this wormhole. Ron had about twelve hours of air in his suit. Bummer.

He relaxed and watched the stars as he drifted.

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