Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“Bring us to membrane distance,” ordered Commander Richards.

Yeoman Miller deftly maneuvered the UESS Kenar toward the subspace membrane separating the primary universe from the adjacent multiverse where they were currently operating. “Membrane distance, sir,” he reported.

“Extend the perasensor. Put it on the main viewer.”

Ensign Dexter launched the tethered perasensor through the membrane into primary space. Seconds after the small probe popped into primary space, it began transmitting a 3D holographic image of the enemy fleet. A galaxy-class Vegan destroyer appeared directly ahead.

“Oh, God,” whispered Richards as he rose slowly from his command chair to stare at the hologram. “It’s the N’ubok. Quickly, prepare four subspace torpedoes. Range, sixteen kilometers after emergence. Bearing, two degrees port, zero vertical. Maximum yield. Fire when ready.”

Four seconds later, the tactical officer reported “Torpedoes away, sir.” The four subspace torpedoes plunged past the membrane and streaked through normal space at a hundred and twenty thousand kilometers an hour. A half second later, they slammed into N’ubok’s hull. The nova-like explosion marked the end of her tour of duty.

“Target destroyed, Commander,” Dexter announced. “However, they’ve triangulated on the emergence point. Three hunter-escorts are heading our way. They’re powering up sub-space charges.”

“Retract the parasensor. Shields up. Get us out of here, Mister Miller. Evasive pattern delta. Be sure to hug the membrane,” he added. “The Tet’s are not happy that we patrol in their multiverse. They have threatened to destroy any primeverse ships trespassing in their space. I’d like to limit our battles today to only one adversary.”

“Aye-aye, sir. Evasive pattern delta.” As the UESS Kenar turned and accelerated, sub-space charges began to plunge through the membrane and drifted into Tet space. As they detonated, they released deadly gamma ray burst that spread out in a spherical pattern the size of Mercury’s orbit. “Sir,” reported Dexter, “it looks like they’re picking up the reflection pattern from our shields. As long as the shields are up, we’re sitting ducks if we stay next to the membrane.”

“Very well,” relented Richards. “Mister Miller, take us deeper into Tetian space. Sensors at maximum. Give me a forward view, Mister Dexter. Eyes sharp, everyone. The Tetians make the Vegans look like pacifists.”

A few minutes later, the Kenar entered an uncharted asteroid belt. “All stop,” ordered Richards. “Where the hell did those asteroids come from?”

“Uh-oh,” said Dexter. “They’re not asteroids, sir, they’re mines. The Tetians must have deployed them along the edge of their multiverse.” Several of the nearby mines began to drift closer. “Damn, they’re homers too. Sorry, sir, but we can’t stay here.”

“Well then,” mused Richards aloud. “I see only two options: We can penetrate the membrane and take on a fleet of angry Vegans singlehandedly, or we can go ‘old school’. Personally, I was never an advocate of suicide missions. Lower shields. Mister Miller, turn about and retrace our path, flank speed. Lieutenant Burt, the second we turn parallel to the membrane, shut down all systems, including propulsion and life support. For this to work, we can’t emit a single photon of energy. Let’s see if we can coast our way out, right under their noses.”

“It’ll be a piece of cake, sir” said Miller with a grin. “The Vegan’s don’t have noses.”

Outwardly, Richards smiled at the bravado, but inwardly, he was nervous as hell.


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