Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
The captain struggled to stand up. His dislocated left arm hung uselessly at his side. In the dim red light of emergency power, he could see his bridge crew climbing back to their assigned stations. “Does anybody know what the hell just happened?”
“We entered an uncharted wormhole,” answered the crewman monitoring the Opts Station. “Main power is off line. Possible hull breaches on decks 41 through 45. Emergency bulkhead doors have automatically deployed.”
“Any damage to the passengers sections?” asked the Captain, suddenly focused on his 6,214 passengers.
“The damage to primary structure appears to be limited to the crew sections. However, there must be injuries above deck 38. The ship experienced more than 20 gees when we returned to normal space.”
“Okay, Mister Hichens, you’re in charge of search and rescue. Take all non-essential crewmembers. Move the seriously injured to sickbay. For the rest, set up triages in cargo bays 1, 2, and 3. Mister Jessop, your top priority is life support. I want a briefing by all department heads in two hours. Now get going.”
* * *
“Hold still,” protested the nurse as she tried in vain to put the captain’s reset arm into a sling.
“Report,” barked the Captain to his department heads, as he pointed the nurse toward the exit.
“Limited power has been restored,” said the chief engineer. “We have enough power for two hyperspace jumps, maybe three. However, long range sensors and subspace communications cannot be repaired until we get to a space dock. In essence, we have some mobility, but we’re blind, deaf, and dumb. Until we get a fix on our position, a jump would be foolhardy.”
“I have the ships navigators in the passenger observatory,” replied Jessop. “They are trying to locate Cepheid Variables. If we can identify the spectrum and frequency of three of them, we can get our bearings. But to be honest, it’s a long shot, Captain. The equipment installed on cruise ships wasn’t designed for the kind of precision we need. Rescue isn’t likely either. Who knows where the wormhole dumped us.”
“Does anybody else have an idea?”
“Excuse me, Captain,” offered the timid Cruise Director, “but I think I may have something?”
“I’m listening, Mrs. Cartright.”
“I was reviewing the passenger manifest, sir, and I noticed that we have over 100 Extra-Terrestrials on board. One of them is an Eridani, sir. A Way Finder.”
“Whoa, a Way Finder,” replied the captain with a smile. “I’ve never met one of them before. Have him escorted to the bridge, immediately.”
* * *
The short Eridani stood in the center of the Bridge with his hands spread wide above his head. He chanted and mumbled for several minutes, as the ship’s translator and navigator worked furiously at a computer terminal. Then he lowered his arms, bowed toward the captain, and left the bridge.
“Give us a second, Captain. The Eridani use a log cylindrical coordinate system, and we use a spherical coordinate system. We’re doing the conversion now.” A few minutes later, he announced, “Got the direction, but does anyone know how far a ‘merdeft’ is?”
“A light-year or a parsec?” suggest the first officer.
“I think ‘defteros’ means ‘second’,” suggested the translator.
“I’ll look up Eridani’s AU, and do the parallax calculation,” said the navigator. Twenty minutes later he announced, “Ready, Captain.”
The captain mulled over the risks, but finally committed. “Let’s hope the Eridani are using standard galactic time. Make the jump, Mister Elliot.”
A few minutes later, the bridge crew cheered as the image of Saturn appeared on the main viewscreen.
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