Again, the ship shook as two torpedos struck the shields.
It should be noted that there’s really no reason for the ship to shudder at this point, since the shields are separated from the hull by several kilometers. However, it was discovered early in space warfare that humans needed tactile reminders of the danger they were in if they were going to display a proper level of urgency. Therefore, the inertial dampeners had been tied to react to the shields, translating the punishment they were taking into punishment for the crew. In fact, on some HuFleet ships, a particularly close call could even cause equipment short circuit in a shower of sparks and a chair to eject its occupant over a console.
Jeb’s first command upon taking charge of the impulsive was to have Engineering disable those last two “features,” but he kept the inertial dampener tie-in. A good jostling kept the crew on its toes.
“Shields are holding at 98 percent,” Minion Gel reported from the Security station. “Shall I shoot back?”
“No!” Bobby cried, then rounded on his brother. “J.R., take it back. Those are our people.”
“Ha!” J.R. replied. “You stopped being ‘my people,’ when you betrayed me. It’s too late now, anyway. The communications on the Lone Star are disabled and the ship has only one mission – to fight to glorious death. Yeeha—mmmph!”
Minion NAME clamped a meaty hand over J.R.’s mouth. “You shut up now. Let the Captain do his job.”
The two staggered slightly along with everyone standing as another barrage hit the wikadas shields.
“Ninety-five percent,” Gel reported, sounding bored. It was for J.R.’s benefit, of course. In fact, he was already plotting the time of failure for the shields which, if they followed the usual plot conventions, would decrease exponentially.
“Take J.R. to sickbay,” the captain ordered. Once the doors closed behind his cousin and the two security guards, he called Sickbay. “Medical, we’re delivering your patient back to you. Stick him in a paralysis field but keep him conscious. I may need him later. And contact the doctor and tell him Chawa may know something about what’s made my kin into an overambitious megamind.
“Doall, do we have comms with the Lone Star yet?”
“I’m trying all frequencies, sir, as well as their shuttle and private comms. Anything with Lone Star technology is locked down. We still have comms with our people, though. If Captain Seip would like to deliver a message, we can relay it.”
“Good idea, Doall. Bobby?” Jeb motioned for the younger Seip to join him, then waved to the screen where the computer had designed an impressive in-you-face extrapolation of the Lone Star firing yet another round of lasers. By now the barrage had grown so steady, the ship would be shuddering regularly, so the inertial dampeners had defaulted to a random pattern of ship-shaking designed to keep the crew on its toes when not falling on their rumps.
“How long can the Lone Star keep that up?”
“The weapons are powered by unobtanium. I’m sure my crew is doing everything they can to stop this mess, but J.R. was our computer systems expert.”
“So longer than the deadline the Paleo’s set. Mr. Smythe, we’re going to bring everyone up here.”
“Of course, captain. Spillover Three should hold everyone until the doctor can clear them from any genetic manipulations.”
Jeb loved that he didn’t have to think of everything. “Excellent. Get to it. Gel, we’re going to give the Lone Star a chance to get control of their ship, but when our shields get to 70 percent, I want you to take out their weapons and whatever else you need to. We can send over medical teams and tow them home if necessary. Sorry, Bobby, but if Chawa and his people have half the technical genius J.R. displayed on this ship…”
Bobby sighed. “I understand, Captain. I’ll tell my people on the ground to give you their complete cooperation.”
An ensign from the bullpen stepped up then and led Captain Seip to the ready room where he could send a message to his people on the planet. As she passed by her fellow second-shifters, she gave them a grin and a thumbs-up. Doall has tasked her with a duty – and no one had had to die for it to happen!
No one dies! And I didn’t die on my away mission either. I had a great time with my long-time writing friends and am home energized and refreshed emotionally and spiritually! (Author’s note: I wrote this 2 weeks before I left, so if I do happen to die, then I’m laughing from heaven…or will be once I pay the price in Purgatory for all my awful jokes (including this one).)