Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Lieutenant McDonald floated in his EVA suit and directed the external repair efforts. The maintbots were currently welding a splice-plate over a large breach in the hull. From his vantage point, McDonald could see a dozen similar holes along the length of the EFS Champion. It had been a fierce battle, he reflected, but the old girl prevailed. Ten thousand meters aft of the Champion, floated the lifeless remains of the Y’Kuscht. A direct hit to their reactor core had sent her crew to the Toreelian Promised Land. McDonald was glad he had helped them achieve their aspiration of dying in battle. “McDonald to the bridge. I estimate that it will take eight hours to complete the repairs to the hull.”

“Acknowledged,” responded the captain. “Try to shave a few hours off of that, Mr. McDonald. I don’t want to stay at this location any longer than we have too.”

“Aye-aye, sir.”


Although the environmental system was operating at maximum capacity, the engine room was still thick with white smoke. The dead had been moved to a makeshift morgue in the cargo hold, and the injured had been taken to sickbay. Those that could still stand were grouped in a semi-circle around Chief Engineer Hopkins, waiting for direction. “Okay, men,” she said, “we’re in the middle of a war zone, and the propulsion system is off-line. We can’t count on being rescued. We need to get out of here on our own. As I see it, for the first time in the history of Earth Force, we’re going to have to repair a Niven Modulator outside of spacedock. I know it’s impossible, but we’re going to do it anyway. I want to hear ideas; I don’t care how dumb you think it might be.”

“Chief,” offered a young cadet, “we could access the modulator if we cut away the nacelle casing and jettisoned the injector coils. We have spare coils, but when we break the seals, they’ll leak trivalent boron. That stuff is extremely corrosive and toxic.”

“If we time it right,” suggested a senior engineer, “we can blow the nacelle casing and coil attachment fittings at the same time. The loss of pressure will suck the coils and trivalent boron into space. We’ll need to wear EVA suits during the repair, but I think the kid’s plan may work.”

“That’s the attitude,” boasted the Chief. “Jones, you go to the shuttle bay and grab a dozen EVA suits. Petters, go to the armory and sign out some C-6 explosive. Watkins, pull up the schematics on the viewer. Let’s get to work.”


The captain paced the bridge trying to come up with contingency plans as the ship underwent repairs. He knew that there was no sense rehashing his battle decisions at this point; there’d be time for that once they reached safety. For now, he needed to get his crippled ship back to Earth controlled space. Since the Toreelians don’t take prisoners, this wasn’t a good place to be dead in the ether.

“Captain,” announced the tactical officer, “long range scanners are picking up three ships approaching at warp 5.”

“Friend or foe?”

“I can’t tell at this range. I’ll know for sure in about an hour.”

“For now, we’ll have to assume they’re bogies. Except for Chief Hopkins, have the command staff meet me in the main conference room in five minutes. If we can’t escape, then we’ll fight as best we can. And by God, if we can’t win, we’ll take as many of the slimy bastards with us as we can.”

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