Author: David C. Nutt
Chaos and wreckage all around me. How did we get this way? Collision? Battle damage? Malfunction? It was still hazy. I pulled myself up and limped down the corridor. Not really wanting to look down I did anyway and saw that mercifully the six-inch gash on my thigh stopped inches before my femoral. My suit was doing a good job of stopping the bleeding and puttying the skin-and-clot so in a few more steps (and after the drugs kicked in,) I was walking close to normal. Then I saw him. Obviously, he didn’t belong. Alien, feline like, yet familiar. But what he was doing did not make sense- he was ripping out non-critical system wires behind a panel.
Suddenly, I felt my shoulder jerk back and was pulled passed the intersection of the corridor. He was dressed like me. He looked rough, maybe as rough as I did but at least I still had both eyes to his one.
“We have to get out of here; something went drastically wrong.”
I nodded. “I don’t think we can make it to the escape pods. We’d have to get past that cat-thing and to get there and-“
“You don’t get it? Crap. We’re really screwed.”
“Ummm.. yeah, we are but let’s get a hold on the situation, pull from our academy days. You know, like we were taught.”
“No, man it’s not like that at all… this ain’t what you think we-“
I cut him off. For some reason I was furious. “We are officers of line; we took an oath to defend the-
“We’re eleven years old on a couch in your playroom.”
“You. Me. The new game system. The bootleg version of ‘Battle of Altair’ we installed but we needed at least three players.”
I closed my eyes. I tried to think back. I got mixed pictures. Riding long boards in our town cemetery. Battle drills at the academy. My first dance. Getting pinned for Lieutenant Commander ahead of time due to my outstanding performance. Getting a C- on a geography quiz. Two sets of memories battling it out. I shook my head. Sparks were still flying. My head ached.
“You, me and no third player.”
It didn’t sound right. But it didn’t sound wrong either and that was more disturbing.
“The third player- we needed a third player. The cat- your cat, we jacked your cat into the system. Bad idea, really messed us up.”
It made even less sense now but felt less wrong on a weird second level, one that made me panic more than the alien tearing up my ship. Or was that my cat?
“You have to pull the self-destruct lever. I don’t have command authority. You have to do it before Tibbs- your cat- comes back here and messes us up again. Holy shit that kitty’s a beast. Do it man, I can only thought-project ‘tuna behind the panels’ for a few more seconds.”
Ah. Yes. He’s our ship’s psychic. Battle grade skills. Best in the force. All my solution sets flashed before my mind. Nowhere did self-destruct come into play. There was a horrible yowl.
“DO IT! PULL THE LEVER!”
Without a second thought I reached up and pulled the self-destruct lever. A low rumble filled the ship. From directly in front a moving white wall, began to overtake us. All around us white hot oblivion enveloped us, the result of a science and physics I barely understood. At that moment, an odd thought invaded my mind- I wondered if Mom remembered to get more chips.