Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

The ship shook violently as it unexpectedly dropped out or warp. The captain was thrown to the deck where he could feel the tell-tale vibrations of explosions occurring somewhere on the ship. He climbed to his feet and activated the communications console. “Bridge to Engineering. What’s going on Chief?”

“Unsure, Captain. We’re fighting several fires right now. I need some time to sort things out.”

“Make it quick, Chief. I want you to brief the senior staff in my ready room in one hour.”


An hour later, Chief Cernan walked into the Captain’s Ready Room into the middle of a heated argument. “I demand a thorough investigation, Captain. I want to know who is responsible for this debacle.”

“You are an uninvited guest on my ship, Mr. Harris. You are in no position to make demands,” rebutted the captain. “Civilians don’t belong on experimental missions.”

“I’m not a ‘civilian’. I am the personal representative of Senator Schmitt, and if you think…”

“I’ll deal with you later,” interrupted the captain without apology. “Chief, what’s our condition?”

“Precarious, Captain. The Alcubierre drive is undamaged, but the subspace heat exchanger is completely destroyed. Since the efficiency of the anti-matter reaction is so low, we’ll vaporize the ship if we can’t bleed-off the excess energy into subspace.”

“So, you’re telling me that we have warp drive, we just can’t use it”

“Not exactly, sir,” replied Cernan. “We can run the wrap drive, but only until it overheats. Then we have to shut it down until the engines radiate the excess heat into normal space. I estimate that we can run the engines for two seconds, with a cool off cycle of 24 hours. At that rate, it will take us about five years to get home.”

“Five years,” screamed Harris. “That’s unacceptable! You can’t expect me to sit around hear while you incompetent fools…”

The captain slammed is fist onto the top of the conference table and yelled, “That’s enough out of you, Mr. Harris. You say one more word and I’ll throw you into an escape pod and we’ll tow you back to Earth.”

The chief suddenly smiled. “Hey, captain, that a great idea.”

“The hell it is,” exclaimed Harris!

The chief waved a dismissive hand at Harris. “I’m not talking about you. I mean we can deploy the sixteen escape pods into two large octagons and fill in the space between them with sheets of polyaluminum. I’ll fabricate superconductive tethers and tie them into the nacelles. That should radiate the excess heat a hundred times faster. We can probably make it home in about three weeks.”

“Still unacceptable,” bellowed Harris. “I have important meetings to atten…”

There was a flash of light and Harris collapsed to the floor. The captain looked at the settings on his phaser and muttered, “Damn, it was set on ‘stun’. Too bad.” The captain looked up and smiled at the shocked expressions on the faces of his senior staff. “Relax, gentlemen. It’s one of the privileges of being so close to retirement. Besides I’ve wanted to do that since that blowhard forced me to take him aboard. He also needs to learn that there are consequences to ignoring the commands of the ship’s captain. Lieutenant Irwin, when Chief Cernan deploys the escape pods, make sure Mr. Harris is in one of them with enough food and water for a month. And please, disable the intercom. I’ve listened to his babbling long enough. Dismissed.”


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